Disclaimer

NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local parish, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church and our Holy Father. This "little work" is purely a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu. ~ Peter


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Holy Relic Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 12/29/2012


At the Gruber Residence with (from left to right) Anna, Eloise, & Dre', our host.

WOW - what a day this turned out to be!  From the extraordinary blessings received this morning to the blessings received tonight - it was quite overwhelming, but in a good sort of way.  I already had a sense that tonight's prayer meeting at the Gruber's was going to be extra-special and the Lord and our Blessed Mother did not disappoint.  Even before the opening prayer was said, there were a couple of gleaming Escarchas that were already manifested in our midst... and as the meeting progressed, the unseen presence of Christ and Our Lady became so tangible that almost all of us were deeply moved, even to tears. Furthermore, the atmosphere in the home was simply electrifying as God's love and peace overshadowed us.
 
Our Saint this month was Bl. Charles de Foucauld - whose idea of being a "universal brother"
to all the needy and to those searching for God's love, filled us with inspiration.
 
After the prayers were over, we shared our customary potluck meal and fellowshipped with lighthearted conversation over dessert and a few sips of wine.  On the way home, the group that rode in my car discussed the highlights of tonight's meeting, which included the mysterious sense of having the Lord and our Holy Mother invisibly with us... plus the faith-sharing of our Saint of the Month - Bl. Charles de Foucauld - whose "Prayer of Abandonment" (see below) left us all feeling very inspired; the warmth of his saintly presence was also felt during our prayers.
 
 
Dinner time after the prayers... and the Colotario Family catching up with our host, Dre'. 
 
In conclusion, the prayer meeting was a great way to close out yet another year of benediction and spiritual growth... and our little group is looking forward to 2013 and all the new graces Jesus and Mary have in store for us.  Ad Jesum per Mariam!
 
The Prayer of Abandonment
(by Bl. Charles de Foucauld)
 
Father,
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you
with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
Amen.
 

A morning filled with God's blessings...

 
Every day is a blessing from God... but today started off with exceptional blessings through the generosity of our dear Lord, Jesus Christ.  First, and foremost, I attended Mass this morning at St. John Vianney Church in neighboring Enchanted Lakes (left photo) and received Jesus through the Holy Eucharist.  It was wonderful.
 
Secondly, I ran into a dear friend of mine in the church after the Mass - a Sister-in-Christ named Eloise from my old, weekly prayer meetings - who I rarely see now.  We sat in a pew and spent some time catching-up and faith-sharing about what we've been up to for the past several months.  The time we spent together was also a joy and a blessing from God as we both recognized in each other the continued presence and love of the Lord in our lives and in our families.
 
Lastly, as Eloise and I sat talking about spiritual matters, I happened to glance out the large glass windows of the church and noticed an odd, but remarkable, light/shadow formation taking shape on a wall across a narrow stream that bordered the parish property - to my surprise, the formation began to resemble an image of the Holy Face of Christ Crucified.
 
 
I briefly interrupted our conversation and rushed to take a couple of cellphone photos of the wall and the image before pointing out the face to my friend; she immediately recognized it, too.  So we both joyfully gave thanks to God for this additional grace, and discussed the relevant appearance of the blessed image since the topic of our discussion at that same instance happened to be about... letting go of any darkness from the past so as to live in God's light
 
I'm not trying to persuade anyone that the uncanny image was truly a little sign from Jesus... but I can definitely testify that the Lord's timing is always impeccable!  God is good.
 
"The Lord bless thee, and keep thee.  The Lord show His Face to thee, and have mercy on thee.
The Lord turn His Countenance to thee, and give thee peace."

Numbers 6:24-26
 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 12/7/2012


The beautiful interior of St. Anthony's Church in Kailua, Hawaii

This evening, my Pilgrim Statue of the Blessed Mother was invited to be a part of the Vigil Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It’s always special to see an image of Our Lady, up front and center, when we celebrate a Marian Feast in our parish church because one feels as though the Virgin’s presence is much more tangible when a statue or painting representing her is displayed during the service. At least, that’s how I feel about it. Plus, it was especially meaningful to me knowing that it was my ministry’s statue that was being utilized to help people make a connection with our sweet Heavenly Mother.

At tonight’s festivities, our priest allowed us to pray the Holy Rosary before the Mass started as a way of further honoring Our Lady. Many parishioners showed up early to participate, which was really great. The service was beautiful, as usual, and Fr. Clarence did a great job in extolling the many virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary during his homily before  we sang several Marian hymns. For some special reason, people were really involved with the service tonight and it was truly inspiring; even Father commented after about how he was almost moved to tears by the congregation’s participation. 

Parishioners gathered around Our Lady's pilgrim statue and Sacred Relic after the Vigil Mass ended.

After Mass several parishioners approached the statue to venerate Our Lady and her veil-relic, as well as to take photos with their smartphones.  It never fails that people always seem attracted to the pilgrim statue whenever it’s publicly displayed... and I could sense the sincere love and devotion that was being expressed as prayers were offered before the image of our Heavenly Mother.  I have no doubt that Our Lady’s spirit was with us this evening, blessing us abundantly... and for that, I was also very grateful.
 
* * * * * * The Hour of Grace * * * * * * 

Lastly, since tomorrow is December 8th, the actual Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind or inform readers about the “Hour of Grace” that Our Lady spoke about in her Rosa Mystica revelations made to the Italian seeress, Pierina Gilli, in 1947. Our Lady referred to it at least twice during two separate apparitions to the visionary:

+ November 22, 1947:
 
“… On the 8th December, at noon, I shall appear again here in the Basilica (of Montichiari).
It will be the Hour of Grace. This Hour of Grace will produce great and numerous conversions.
Hardened and cold hearts resembling this marble (the church floor) will be touched by Divine
Grace, and they will become faithful to Our Lord in loyal love.”
 
+ December 8, 1947:
 
“I am the Immaculate Conception...
It is my wish that every year, on 8th December, at Noon, the Hour of Grace for the world be
celebrated.   Many divine and bodily graces will be received through this devotion. Our Lord, my Divine Son
Jesus, will send His overflowing mercy if good people will pray continuously for their sinful brother.
 
One should very soon notify the Holy Father of the Church, Pope Pius XII, that it is my wish that
the Hour of Grace for the world be made known and spread throughout the world.   If anyone is unable
to visit his church, yet will pray at noon at home, he will also receive graces through me.”


Please consider observing the Hour of Grace at Noon tomorrow.  The recommended prayers to be prayed during the hour are the Holy Rosary and the Miserere (Psalm 51), as well as prayers for the conversion of sinners.  God bless you and may the Rosa Mystica - the Immaculate Conception - intercede for you.

Click here for more information about the Rosa Mystica devotion.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Hawaii's New Shrine to St. Anthony of Padua

 
The votive Shrine of St. Anthony of Padua in the Church of St. Anthony in Kailua, Oahu (HI).
The case to the right of the statue encloses a certified 1st Class (bone) Relic of the Saint.

Today, our Kailua parish had the joy of dedicating our newly redesigned reliquary to St. Anthony of Padua - the only shrine in Hawaii, as far as I'm aware, that has a rare bodily relic of the illustrious Saint of Miracles!  The shrine was formerly situated at the other end of the church, under the main crucifix... but our priest - Fr. Clarence Zamora - felt that it belonged in a much worthier and accessible setting.
 
          
Fr. Clarence blessing our parish's new shrine to our patron, St. Anthony of Padua.  The students from
the parochial school assisted in the ceremony by bringing up lit candles for the recently donated candle stand.
(Click on the photos to view larger images)
 
So with the generous help of a few parishioners, Fr. Clarence ordered a votive candle stand for the devotional use of the Faithful and set about making arrangements to move the relic to its current resting place.  The redesigned shrine utilized a niche and a marble statue of the Saint that was already in place within the church... and once the candle stand arrived, plans moved quickly and smoothly, culminating in a simple devotional space that fits in well with our unique church interior - it's beautiful!
 
I am now looking forward to seeing rows of lit candles offered by our parishioners and guests in observance of a time-honored and highly symbolic Christian tradition.  My sincere prayer is that from this hallowed place, St. Anthony will shed his blessings on all who have recourse to his powerful and effective intercession.
 
The original sketch I did for our priest of the redesigned shrine to St. Anthony of Padua (left)
and the first location of the reliquary when it was under the church's familiar crucifix.
 
If you happen to live on the island of Oahu (Hawaii), or just visiting our islands, feel free to stop by our Kailua church.  All are welcomed to seek St. Anthony's intercession before his Sacred Relic and to light a candle as an expression of our faith in him... and in Jesus Christ, the Light of the World!
 
For directions to St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua, click here.
 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony's Church, 12/1/2012

 
Mary, the Mystical Rose, awaits the prayers of her
children in St. Anthony's Parish Day Chapel
 
'nothing really new to report about this month's First Saturday Rosary other than the fact that we happily welcomed three newbies to the prayer meeting... and welcomed back a semi-regular participant who recently had heart surgery; it was a comfort to learn that he is recovering well.
 
Holy Relics of the True Cross of Jesus Christ (left), Our Lady (center),
& Bl. Eugenia Ravasco (right)
 
As with past meetings, it was simply very special... and it was just today that it dawned on me that the bond among the regular participants has deeply grown over this past year; we've become a spiritual family under the Blessed Mother's maternal care and it's a genuine blessing.  For the thirty minutes that we're all praying the Holy Rosary together in the Day Chapel, it feels like time stops and all of our cares and worries are set aside as we're engulfed in a "bubble" of peace and a sense of the Divine.  Even a lady who joined us for the first time, today, testified that she appreciated the calm that came over her while she prayed the rosary, especially since she's been going through some difficult times recently.  She left looking much lighter than when she first walked in.
 
 
A new participant seeking Our Lady's blessings and venerating the Holy Relics
on the display altar, including a 1st Class Relic of Bl. Eugenia Ravasco (right) 
 
Our featured holy person was Bl. Eugenia Ravasco (d. 1900), the Italian founder of the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary... and it is always encouraging for me to see the expression on the participants' faces whenever I share about a little-known Saint or Blessed with them - I can clearly tell that most of the audience are genuinely interested and/or inspired in some way when they learn about the heroes of our Catholic Faith.  So tonight we had Bl. Eugenia's relic present on the display altar along with Our Lady's veil-relic... plus my relic of the True Cross, which was especially requested by one of the regular participants.
 
The next First Saturday Rosary for Peace will be prayed "next year" on January 5th.  All are invited to join us in welcoming 2013 with prayers for PEACE, for ourselves, our families... and for our troubled world.  Until then...
 
Merry, Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!
 

Saint of the Month: December 2012


Saint Charbel Makhlouf
Man of Silence & Virtue ~ Feast: December 24th
 
Joseph Makhlouf was born on May 8, 1928, to a poor Lebanese family. Being a pious boy, he entertained thoughts of one day becoming a religious but his family opposed his plans and put obstacles along his vocational path. At age 23, Joseph secretly left his home and entered the Monastery of Saint Maron at Annaya, where he became a monk and a hermit for the rest of his long life. He chose for his religious name, “Charbel”, after an early Christian Martyr who lived and died in the area.
 
Charbel distinguished himself through his fervent practice of the faith, his habitual silence, and his immense devotion to the Holy Eucharist. His reputation for holiness spread beyond the walls of the monastery and many sought him out for guidance and blessings. His clients were hardly disappointed, as many came away from his presence physically and/or spiritually healed of their ailments… or a recipient of some other miracle that Charbel had performed on their behalf.
 
The holy monk continued to practice strict self-discipline and mortifications until his death in December 1898. After his burial, the monks and the townspeople witnessed a brilliant light which emanated for several days above his grave. The excitement caused by the luminous display, along with the reported healings that were happening at the tomb, prompted the monks to exhume Charbel’s body to transfer it to a worthier tomb – to their amazement, the body was found completely incorrupt and as flexible as a living person. The body also began "sweating" a mysterious liquid (manna) that occasioned healings for those who invoked the dead monk’s intercession.
 
Charbel was elevated to the ranks of the Saints in October, 1977, and the Monastery of Annaya continues to attract pilgrims from all over the world, Christian and non-Christian alike.  Although his body is no longer preserved, and the manna has since ceased to flow, miracles are still reported at St. Charbel's tomb.  May he pray for our personal needs and the needs of the entire Church.
 
A Reflection:
Saints are the special friends of God... and if you befriend the Saints, you also befriend God.
 
A Short Prayer:
Dear St. Charbel, help us to practice holy silence that we may listen more clearly to the word of God.  Amen.