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, April 27, 2013

Holy Relic Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 4/27/2013


 
At tonight's prayer meeting in the Gruber Residence, we honored one of my favorite
Saints of all time - St. Gemma Galgani, the "Passion Flower" of Lucca, Italy.

Just a very small group of us were able to get together tonight to pray the Holy Rosary at the Gruber Residence; three people to be exact.  Although to the naked eye it appeared to be just a few of us in the living room, there were clear indications that we also had unseen, blessed company joining us for prayer.

Even before the Rosary began, me and our host, Dre', were pleasantly surprised by the appearance of escarchas, which seemed to have materialized just about everywhere! The glitter-like manna manifested in various sizes on different parts of the table where we were sitting; on Dre's cheeks and forearm; on my t-shirt, over my heart; and finally, on my forehead above the left eye. Incredibly, not only were the escarchas in the form of the usual fine flakes of green, silver, and gold... but a few of them even seemed to have facets on them, which gave them the appearance of very tiny gemstones!

      
Some of the Escarchas that manifested at tonight's meeting (circled): on the table where we sat during
prayer time and one that appeared on my forehead while I was sharing about our monthly Saint.
(click on the photos to view larger images)

I speculated these new variations of escarchas had something to do with the Saint whose bodily relic we venerated this month: St. Gemma Galgani (d. 1903, see the photo below), a beautiful lay-mystic and stigmatist from Lucca, Italy, who I have especially  honored as  my personal Patron Saint for over 20 years.  The Saint's name, coincidentally, means "gem" in Italian so I believe tonight's manifestation of the gem-like escarchas were a special reminder from God of St. Gemma's spiritual presence in our midst. Although we've witnessed escarchas several times before, their unexpected appearances - whatever the circumstances - never fail to awe and humble us, and we felt a little overwhelmed this evening but in a very good way.

Also, the personal petitions we prayed out loud tonight were more intimate than usual and truly inspired by the Holy Spirit, as we were all edified by the words that we each offered to God.  The meal we shared afterwards was, as always, more than satisfying... and I left the Gruber home at the end of the night an uplifted and very contented pilgrim.

Thank you, Jesus... thank you, Mother Mary... and last, but not least, thank you to my dear sister, St. Gemma!

St. Gemma Galgani, pray & intercede for us!

Rosary & Dinner with Bishop Larry

 
 
Praying the Holy Rosary in the lovely garden shrine at the Kailua home of the Cobb-Adams Family.
 
Last night a dear friend of mine invited me to participate in a Rosary Prayer Meeting and dinner at her Kailua home to which our local Bishop - his Excellency, Bishop Larry Silva - was also invited to attend.  It turned out to be a beautiful evening; the prayer time was meaningful and the food was just awesome!  I even had the blessed opportunity to sit down with Bishop Larry and "talk story" with him for quite a bit, which was a personal highlight for me. 

 
Guests enjoying their dinner after the prayers... and me and my friend, Anna, hanging out with Bishop Larry.

I found the Bishop to be personable and down-to-earth as he shared with me about his childhood in Kailua and California... and I was also very impressed by his ability to recall every person's name who he was introduced to at the event.  His patience during the many, many picture-taking requests at the end of the night was almost saintly, in my humble opinion, and it endeared him to the people present.  God bless, Bishop Larry... and may the Lord continue to guide him as he leads our Diocese of Honolulu.
 
... and a special "Mahalo" to our hosts - Monica Cobb-Adams and her wonderful family - for inviting us to their gathering!  Their expression of faith and public devotion to our Blessed Mother and the Holy Rosary is truly an inspiration and a blessing for our Kailua community!
 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Monthly Messages from the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: April 2013

 
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.
 
Our Lady’s Monthly Message on April 25th:
"Dear children! Pray, pray, keep praying until your heart opens in faith as a flower opens to the warm rays of the sun. This is a time of grace which God gives you through my presence but you are far from my heart, therefore, I call you to personal conversion and to family prayer. May Sacred Scripture always be an incentive for you. I bless you all with my motherly blessing.   Thank you for having responded to my call."
 
Our Lady’s Special Message to Mirjana on April 2nd:
"Dear children, I am calling you to be one with my Son in spirit. I am calling you, through prayer, and the Holy Mass when my Son unites Himself with you in a special way, to try to be like Him; that, like Him, you may always be ready to carry out God's will and not seek the fulfillment of your own. Because, my children, it is according to God's will that you are and that you exist, and without God's will you are nothing. As a mother I am asking you to speak about the glory of God with your life because, in that way, you will also glorify yourself in accordance to His will. Show humility and love for your neighbor to everyone. Through such humility and love, my Son saved you and opened the way for you to the Heavenly Father. I implore you to keep opening the way to the Heavenly Father for all those who have not come to know Him and have not opened their hearts to His love. By your life, open the way to all those who still wander in search of the truth. My children, be my apostles who have not lived in vain. Do not forget that you will come before the Heavenly Father and tell Him about yourself. Be ready! Again I am warning you, pray for those whom my Son called, whose hands He blessed and whom He gave as a gift to you. Pray, pray, pray for your shepherds.   Thank you."
 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony's Church, 4/6/2013

 
  
My friend, Anna, posing with my Rosa Mystica pilgrim statue in the Day Chapel
of St. Anthony of Padua Church, Kailua

With the start of a new month so passes another First Saturday Rosary for Peace at my home parish.  Our focus this evening was praying for the sick, especially interceding for friends and loved ones afflicted with cancer and other serious illnesses.  Sadly, there are just too many people I know who are seriously sick and suffering.
 
Before we started to pray, we had the joy of welcoming a new participant to our prayer meeting - someone who holds particular meaning in my life... a former classmate/friend named, "Eva", who I hadn't seen in years.  Her presence in our Day Chapel caught me by surprise and she had come to pray for her mother who is currently fighting intestinal cancer.  A mutual friend had directed her to attend one of our prayer meetings in the hopes of strengthening her faith and helping her to find peace during this difficult time in her personal life.
 
Our Saint this month was St. Conrad of Parzham (d. 1894), a humble Capuchin who
was the caretaker of the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Altotting in Germany
 
After the Rosary Prayer ended and most of our parishioners had left to attend the Mass, a friend and I prayed over Eva and interceded for her sick mother. I felt a heaviness lift from her shoulders during the prayer and she seemed much lighter in spirit as we both walked out of the Day Chapel. 
 
We afterwards caught up with each others' lives over a lite dinner and just reminisced over some great times we shared with other friends in high school. Being a strong Catholic, herself, we also faith-shared about the Lord during which my friend expressed her gladness over finally making it to our parish's prayer gathering.  We then joked about the expression of deep shock that must have flashed across my face when I spotted her in the pews. We had a good laugh over it before ending another great evening of prayer and Christian fellowship.
 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Saint of the Month: April 2013

 
St. Lydwina of Scheidam
A Victim Soul for a Church in Turmoil ~ Feast: April 14th 
 
Born in 1380, in the town of Scheidam, Holland, this humble holy woman was an extreme - yet edifying example - of terrible physical sufferings endured for the love of God, and for the spiritual good of the Church and sinners. Her parents named her “Lydwina”, which according to an account I read, actually means “suffering”, a highly prophetic name considering all that this Saint went through in her lifetime.

As a child, Lydwina was pious, but not overly so. Her contemporaries described her as a pretty girl who was like any other in her small town. When she was about 15-years-old, a tragic accident occurred that changed her life forever.  One chilly day, she was invited by her friends to go ice skating on a frozen canal.  One of her companions collided into her, causing her to fall against a protruding rock that broke one of her ribs. The doctor who treated the injury failed to properly set the broken bone, which resulted in excruciating chronic pain for the young maiden.  For months afterwards she not only suffered the injured rib, but was also prone to nausea and severe headaches.
 
An old print depicting St. Lydwina's fateful accident
 
Lydwina’s family grieved as doctor after doctor was consulted, with each one not being able to alleviate their daughter’s condition. To make matters worse, infected abcesses formed over her injured side that spread throughout her body, including her lovely face. One of the sores cost her an eye and the remaining eye became highly sensitive to light. Eventually, Lydwina became a permanent invalid, unable to move except for her left arm, which remained strangely free of any malady.
 
In her desperation, Lydwina appeared to lose her childhood faith and fell into a state of deep depression, all the while questioning the goodness of God.  Fortunately, visits from her parish priest prevented her from completely going over the edge.  The priest spoke to her about the sufferings of Christ and gently encouraged her to accept her condition as a way of identifying with our Crucified Savior. Slowly, but surely, his wise counsel took root in her heart and Lydwina came to accept her illness as a unique gift from God, offering her sufferings as an active prayer for the good of the Church, which at the time, was in the midst of schism and confusion.  The more she surrendered herself to God, the more her condition worsened until her body was literally falling to pieces... but inexplicably, she continued to live.
 
News of the supernatural nature of Lydwina’s sickness attracted the pious and curiosity seekers, alike, to her home.  All were amazed that despite her extreme physical afflictions, she wouldn’t die, and many attributed her miraculous survival to a special favor from God.  The pious maiden, on her part, continued to deepen her relationship with Jesus through frequent Holy Communion and fervent prayer… and as though her existing pains were not enough, she begged the Lord for even more suffering as a way to expiate for sinners and to help heal the divided Church. God granted the request by imprinting on her body the Sacred Stigmata.  Thus, Lydwina’s spiritual transformation into Christ was sealed by the five wounds of his Passion.
 
Lydwina suffered for nearly forty years. Her home became the spiritual center of Scheidam with many people being the recipients of her advice, prayers, and charitable alms.  To compensate for her terrible sufferings the Lord showered her with remarkable heavenly charisms, which included the ability to live without food (she survived only on the Eucharist!)... frequent visits from her Guardian Angel... spiritual journeys, via bilocation, to sacred sites in the Holy Land... and visionary experiences of Our Lady and the Saints; Heaven; and Purgatory.  Even the many open sores all over her body, and the blood they issued, were blessed by God in a special way - they exuded a wonderful fragrance of incense that both energized and encouraged those who nursed and assisted her, so as to inspire devotion rather than loathing over her grotesque physical condition.
 
Our Saint’s holy death occurred in 1433 after she was forewarned by a vision.  According to witnesses, her badly disfigured body was miraculously restored to its former state of health as it was being prepared for burial - Lydwina appeared youthful and lovely again with no traces of the terrible wounds and deformities that scarred her in life.  Her tomb became an immediate place of pilgrimage and a chapel was erected over it.  St. Lydwina of Scheidam was Canonized in 1890 by Pope Leo XIII.

A Reflection:
“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he shall stand upon the earth: and after my body has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.”  ~ Job 19:25-26
 
A Short Prayer:
Lord, give us courage in our sufferings, as you did with St. Lydwina.  Rather than be discouraged, help us to see our crosses as special gifts from you.  Amen.