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, June 29, 2013

Holy Relics Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 6/29/2013

 
A statue and a framed photograph of Bl. Alexandrina Maria Da Costa were the night's focal points
on my friend's altar, along with a bone relic of Bl. Anna Maria Taigi and the Rosa Mystica.
 
What a great prayer meeting it was!  If there was a running theme at tonight's gathering in the Gruber home, it had to be the urgent need of including God, Faith, and Devotion within the family unit.  It wasn't planned, but that's just how the Lord worked it... in addition to us regulars, we had a returning mother and daughter, plus an entire family - a couple with two teenagers - join us for the first time to pray the Holy Rosary.  It was awesome!
 
Our featured "Saint of the Month" and accompanying holy relic was a married laywoman who bore seven children so she went right along with the family theme.  She was the  Bl. Anna Maria Taigi (d. 1837), a holy matriarch who made God and family the main priorities in her life; thus attaining great sanctity and becoming one of the Church's most gifted mystics.  The message of  this Beata's  life is a timeless affirmation of the important and sacred role of mothers in families... and society, in general; most especially good women who raise their children with solid faith and morals.  I actually almost didn't bring her relic, but was glad I did - Bl. Anna Maria seemed to hit a chord with the moms present since they could easily identify with her day-to-day struggles with her spouse and kids, while also trying to juggle chores and an active devotional prayer life.

In addition to the above, we also did something new.  Our host/prayer meeting leader, being a strong devotee of Our Lady of Fatima, committed our group to spiritually adopting the Canonization Causes of the three Fatima Seers - Bl. Jacinta, Bl. Francisco, and Sr. Lucia - plus the Cause of Bl. Alexandrina Maria Da Costa (d. 1955), a holy stigmatic from Balasar (Portugal), who had a special mission from Jesus to promote the Fatima Message.  Alexandrina was so enthusiastic and successful in spreading the message, she is often referred to as the "4th Seer" of Fatima.  So for the first time in our prayer lineup, we offered a special petition asking the Lord to grant the Church their speedy Canonizations.  Moving forward, we'll be renewing the petition at subsequent meetings.
 
A group photo of tonight's participants.  A couple of us are holding up posters of Bl. Alexandrina
whose Cause for Canonization was just "adopted" by our group.
 
Lastly, the dinner and fellowship that followed was a lot of fun and lively in contrast to the intensity of our prayer time.  We dined on "pasteles" (a tamale-like dish made with grated green bananas and pork), seasoned Puerto Rican rice, and all sorts of other foods and desserts while getting to know the new friends we met tonight.  We laughed and joked until we all had to finally head out; me driving back to the windward side with my small Kailua crew.
 
Our plan next month - Italian cuisine!
 
"... Do not sin!  The world is worth nothing!  That already says it all.
Receive Communion many times!  Pray the Rosary every day!"
 
~ Words of Bl. Alexandrina Maria Da Costa of Balasar
 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

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


Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Our Lady’s Monthly Message on June 25th:
   "Dear children! With joy in the heart I love you all and call you to draw closer to my Immaculate Heart so I can draw you still closer to my Son Jesus, and that He can give you His peace and love, which are nourishment for each one of you. Open yourselves, little children, to prayer – open yourselves to my love. I am your mother and cannot leave you alone in wandering and sin. You are called, little children, to be my children, my beloved children, so I can present you all to my Son. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Our Lady’s Special Message to Mirjana on June 2nd:
   "Dear children!  In this restless time, anew I am calling you to set out after my Son – to follow him.  I know of the pain, suffering and difficulties, but in my Son you will find rest; in him you will find peace and salvation.  My children, do not forget that my Son redeemed you by his Cross and enabled you, anew, to be children of God; to be able to, anew, call the Heavenly Father: ‘Father’.  To be worthy of the Father, love and forgive, because your Father is love and forgiveness.  Pray and fast, because that is the way to your purification, it is the way of coming to know and becoming cognizant of the Heavenly Father.  When you become cognizant of the Father, you will comprehend that he is all you need.  I, as a mother, desire my children to be in a community of one single people where the Word of God is listened to and carried out.  Therefore, my children, set out after my Son.  Be one with him.  Be God’s children.  Love your shepherds as my Son loved them when he called them to serve you.  Thank you."
 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Hope in Divine Mercy

Yesterday, after attending the noon Mass in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu, I wandered into the nearby Pauline Bookstore to do some browsing.  I always end up in the statues section of the little shop, admiring the many inspiring images of Jesus, Mary, and the Saints.  I noticed the good Sisters had displayed a new line of 4" religious figurines on the shelves and my attention fell upon one in particular - it was a beautiful statuette of Jesus, as Divine Mercy.
 
I knew I didn't need another statue, no matter how attractive or reasonably priced it was, and I debated with myself about buying it... but when I picked up the figurine to take a closer look at it, a small green sparkle beneath its heart suddenly caught my eye; I  immediately knew it was an Escarcha.
 
(click on the above photo to view larger images)
 
It had been a few weeks since I last witnessed the mystical appearance of Escarchas and I was taken aback when more of the green flakes (like tiny, bright emeralds!) began randomly materializing on the image while I held it.  That was all the prompting I needed to bring the statuette up to the cash register so I could pay for it.  I remember being so excited, I declined the gift box the figurine came in and the paper package, too... just so I could hurry back to my workplace with my newly acquired treasure.

Back at my desk, I watched with awe as more emerald Escarches began dotting the statue and I said a quick prayer to Jesus asking him to shield me with his Precious Blood, just in case there was diabolic deception involved with what was happening.  But rather than stopping, more Escarchas continued to appear, including a few fine flakes of gold on both my palms and on the figurine's head... and a single red one near the foot!  Trust me - it was a beautiful and awesome sight to witness, although it's unfortunate that the photos in this blog do not adequately capture the numbers and the brilliance of the Escarchas.

 (click on the above photo to view larger images)

Later that night, after I got home, I reflected on the day's events and wondered about the meaning of the Escarchas.  The first thoughts that came to mind was about an alleged private revelation made by the Blessed Virgin to a priest concerning the meanings of the various colors of Escarchas; the green flakes are supposed to signify a call for us to have HOPE, so when I put two and two together, I surmised the Lord was drawing my attention to the essence of the revelations he gave to St. Faustina Kowalska (d. 1938):

In Divine Mercy, there is Hope.

Being fully aware of my faults and weaknesses, it was a reminder that both comforted me and indeed filled my being with joyful hope - a "message" that others can take to heart and benefit from, as well.

And lastly... I also had a nagging feeling that there was something else significant about yesterday's Escarchas that I was overlooking.  After researching prior postings from my blog, I realized what it was I had forgotten.  Yesterday - June 20th - marked exactly a year to the day that I had my very first sighting of Escarchas!  So the experience yesterday did not just signify a message of some sort... but as it turned out, the Escarchas were also meant to be commemorative.  A gift I needed to acknowledge and be grateful for to our Lord.  Thank you, Jesus.
 
"My secretary, write that I am more generous toward sinners than toward the just.
It was for their sake that I came down from Heaven; it was for their sake that my Blood was spilled.
Let them not fear to approach me; they are most in need of my mercy."
 
Words of our Lord to St. Faustina Kowalska,
the "Apostle of Divine Mercy" 
 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Spiritual Warfare and the Occult

 "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against
the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]."

~ Ephesians 6:12
 
A couple of days ago, I was dragged into a situation that really troubled me.  It had to do with the occult, which I know from a traumatic personal experience, is extremely dangerous.  I can't emphasize that fact enough.  I wasn't bothered by the people involved, but really, it was the situation they were in that had me concerned and frustrated after having gone through what I did.  I felt the need to write about it; to again warn others about the importance of staying clear of anything remotely associated with occultism because its influence has gained increased mainstream acceptance throughout the years... and most people, including many Catholics, are largely uninformed about the truth of it.

So backing up a little bit... a friend called me on Friday to refer a coworker of hers who was in need of guidance and prayers because of an unusual problem - the woman had a sister who was suddenly exhibiting strange behavior and their family feared that she had been "hexed".  I was further informed the supposed victim - "Thea" - was normally a bright and healthy person but after she had fallen in with a certain man, and had tried to leave him, she started falling into trance-like states and behaving in a manner uncharacteristic of herself.  The family later heard news that the man's family was rumored to practice "black magic" so, more so, they feared Thea is under a malicious spell of some sort.
 
Fr. Gabriele's best-selling book
After hearing the story from my friend and meeting her coworker in person, my immediate advice for the coworker was to consult a priest if her family truly believed there was something sinister going on.  The situation was clearly beyond my capability to directly help... but I also felt for the woman because I saw fear and worry in her eyes.  So we prayed together and I provided Holy Face Medals, St. Michael Prayer Cards, and strongly recommended for her and the rest of their family to go to Confession, attend Mass regularly, and to pray the Holy Rosary for Thea, just in case the devil really was involved with her sister's case (please pray for this family).
 
Although I was somewhat on the fence with the entire matter, I knew from experience and from books I've read, that the situation with Thea was not entirely improbable.  Renowned Exorcists, such as Fr. Gabriele Amorth, have written extensively about the reality of the phenomena of curses... as well as the demons that work behind the scenes to apply them.  Sadly, the world in general, doesn't seem to take the devil all too seriously; it almost seems like a big joke now days to believe in his existence but we need to be consciously aware of him.
 
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion,
walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
 
~ 1 Peter 5:8
 
In fact, I just finished reading another enlightening book, which I highly recommend to all who are interested in learning more about spiritual warfare.  The book is called "A Message of Hope, Confessions of an Ex-Satanist: How to Protect Yourself from Evil" by Deborah Lipsky.  I've read several books about the same topic, but what made this book different was that it was written from the point of view of a lapsed-Catholic who lived and practiced an extreme form of occultism, before a powerful conversion experience led her back to a fervent observance of the Catholic Faith.  In her book, the author detailed some of her alleged personal experiences with demonic entities and shared some valuable insights on how to recognize and combat the forces of evil that invisibly lurk around us.  She likened demons to "sharks", which really struck a chord in me given that I live on an island surrounded by waters teeming with tiger sharks!
 
Great book, highly recommended!
The bottom line is... the practice of anything involving occultism is perilous for the soul, including such seemingly harmless pursuits as ghost hunting, fortune telling/psychic readings, new age beliefs, and superstition.  Lipsky wrote that there's no quicker way for demons to gain entrance into our lives than through occultism of every sort.
 
To protect ourselves from attacks or oppression from evil forces, Catholic experts on spiritual warfare are unanimous in their advice - turn to Jesus Christ, sincerely and wholeheartedly; frequently receive the Eucharist and go to Confession regularly; seek the aid of the Blessed Virgin, the Holy Angels and Saints; and devoutly make use of Sacramentals (blessed medals, holy images, and relics).  Being especially dedicated to Our Lady and the Saints, I totally agree... and I enjoyed the parts in Lipsky's book in which she wrote of the Virgin Mary's powerful intercession against evil; she surmised the devil is so enraged with Mary's humility and exalted role in salvation history, that he is waging an ongoing personal "war" against her.  Mary, on her part, was gifted by God to us as a special helper in our faith-life... and she is more than eager to help those who have recourse to her.  It's a very reassuring and comforting thought.
 
"Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
 
~ Ephesians 6:11

I close this post by sharing a curious photo (bottom-left) that I rediscovered in my computer files.  In it, I may have visibly captured a glimpse into the ongoing enmity between the devil and the holy Mother of Christ.  The photo was taken when my Rosa Mystica pilgrim statue and my ministry's relic of the Blessed Mother's veil stayed with a friend whose family was plagued by unexplained shadows moving about in their home; I actually saw a few of these dark figures, myself, in their house and immediately knew they were unclean spirits.  I also had a strong sense the occult was involved, and sure enough, I learned that my friend's mother was regularly consulting with a relative who was supposedly a medium and psychic reader.  Anyhow, in the photo one can see two faint shadow-images on each side of the statue, which were not visible when I snapped the picture... and the scary thing is - they resemble common depictions of demons, complete with horns and pointed chins (compare the figures with the sketch at the bottom-right of the photo)!  How bizarre, right?
 
A glimpse of the battle between good and evil?
Skeptics will argue that the images are just a coincidental play of lights and shadows with the statue and its halo, and that could be the case... but personally, I believe there's more to it than mere chance.  Given the circumstances with the eerie sightings in the home, it was just too uncanny that the shadows were in the form of demons.  For me, and for friends who viewed the picture, we all agreed I had inadvertently confirmed the presence of diabolic spirits in the home... and judging by the photo, the demonic entities were angrily opposed to Our Lady's holy presence in the house (via the blessed statue), seeing how they looked up at her image in a defiant and confrontational manner. In contrast, the statue's lovely face appears majestically calm as it prayerfully gazes towards Heaven.  The entire scene reminds me of the prophecy found at the very beginning of the Holy Bible:
 
"I will put enmity between thee and the woman,
and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head,
and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel."
 
~ Genesis 3:15 (Douay Rheims translation)

The situation in my friend's home was clearly and directly triggered by his mother's dabbling with the occult... and for me, the above photo is just another affirmation of the spiritual warfare going on between good and evil; light versus dark.  So if you take away anything after reading this blog, please take some friendly advice and do not put yourself in a situation where you'll be actively engaging hate-filled demons and entities - stay clear of the occult and other esoteric practices.

The Bible and the Church both continue to teach us that Jesus Christ is the only Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He will be victorious in the end... so we, as Christians, can find Hope, Strength, and Joy in knowing that.  Amen.

Exorcism Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
 
St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle.
Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray... and do thou, O Prince of the
Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast into hell Satan and all
the other evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking
the ruin of souls.  Amen.
 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Feast Day Celebrations: St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua, 6/13/2013


A powerful sight to see... five visiting priests concelebrate the Feast Day Mass
with our parish priests, Fr. Clarence (far left) and Fr. Exsequel (far right).
 
I have just one word to describe my parish's evening celebration in honor of our Patron Saint's Feast Day: AWESOME!  Compared to last year's event, this one was "super-sized" with more food, more people, and definitely more celebration!  My guess-timate counted 300+ parishioners and visitors who came to our Kailua parish to honor and venerate St. Anthony of Padua. 
 
After the Mass, parishioners lined up to venerate and touch the Sacred Relic of St. Anthony's bone.
In the center is pictured the votive shrine in our church where the relic is normally kept.
(click on each photo to view larger images)
 
At the start of the festivities, we welcomed five priests from neighboring parishes, who participated in an exhibition basketball game against our parochial school students (the priests were victorious!)... and later concelebrated a beautiful Mass with our priests, Fr. Clarence and Fr. Exsequel.  After the Mass, our congregation was invited to come forward to touch or kiss the reliquary that held the little bone fragment from St. Anthony's hallowed remains.  It was a moving scene to see so many people paying tribute to the holy man who countless devotees around the world have come to recognize and love as a truly great Saint.  I sensed his presence among us... blessing us and interceding for our special prayer intentions and our personal needs.  It was definitely special with the Holy Spirit and power of God being extra-tangible in the church.
 
Just a sampling of the many dishes that our parishioners brought in for the celebration.
The food reflected the diverse ethnic background of our parish community.
 
After the service, everyone headed over to our parish hall where a potluck dinner awaited us.  Tables were set-up in different areas of the hall, reflecting many food dishes from diverse ethnic backgrounds: American, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Mexican, and Portuguese.  It looked like a food court in the hall... and there was even a whole roasted pig (Lechon!), which was a big hit with the hungry crowd; the poor little pig was gone in no time ('loved the crispy pork skin)!
 
Parishioners and guests, gathered in our parish hall to celebrate with food and entertainment.
Me, and a few of our parish women, standing watch at the Mexican Food Station (center).
 
video
Video: Our "Kupuna" (elders) dance a prayer of blessing
in the Hawaiian language before the start of our meal.
 
While we enjoyed our meals, several groups of parishioners entertained us with music and hula (Hawaiian dance).  Even the group of priests, instigated by Fr. Exsequel, were persuaded to come up to the stage to sing us a song.  To be fair, they were good and carried the tune well... but I still wouldn't recommend they quit their day jobs any time soon to switch to a career in music - God bless them!
 
video
Video: Seven priests entertaining the crowd with a song.
 
All in all, it was a fantastic and memorable evening, thanks to the planning efforts of a small, dedicated group of volunteers... and of course, the generous participation of the parishioners and guests who came to show their love for St. Anthony.  We made our dear Saint the bright star of today's events, and rightfully so... in return, he blessed us by bringing our Kailua community together in enthusiastic expression of our Catholic Faith and Traditions, and in the Joy of Christian Fellowship.
 
Thank you, Lord Jesus... thank you for giving us (and the rest of the world) the gift of St. Anthony of Padua.
 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Attention to all Hawaii Devotees of St. Anthony of Padua...

This Thursday, June 13th, is the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua.  All parishioners in Kailua (and throughout Oahu) are cordially invited to participate in my parish's annual festivities in honor of our illustrious Patron Saint.

Come and seek the powerful intercession of the great Saint of Miracles before a rare 1st Class (Bone) Relic of St. Anthony... while also celebrating his memory with Prayer, Food, Fun, and Entertainment!

 
For more information, please call the parish office of
St. Anthony of Padua Church at 266-2222.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony's Church, 6/1/2013


The Holy Eucharist - that was the theme at this afternoon's First Saturday Rosary.  Being that it was the eve of the Feast of Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ) this year, our night was focused on deepening our faith in the Lord's hidden presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
 
Prior to starting the Rosary Prayer, I shared about the life of Bl. Maria Candida of the Eucharist (d. 1949), a Carmelite nun whose holy life was centered on Eucharistic and Marian Devotion.  I also displayed her relic during our prayer time as a way of inspiring the people present to imitate the Blessed's love for Jesus in the Eucharist.  Judging by the positive feedback I received after the prayer, many in attendance found Bl. Maria Candida's life story spiritually encouraging.
 
All in all, it was another lovely, well-attended meeting.  There was a new face in the pews and we welcomed back several fellow Catholics from other parts of the island who we hadn't seen in a while... again, always a joy!
 
The next First Saturday Rosary will be prayed next month on July 6th.   All are welcomed to participate in our parish's special prayer for PEACE.
 
A few parishioners, lingering after the Rosary ended to continue
praying to our Blessed Mother for their personal needs.
 

Saint of the Month: June 2013

St. Aloysius Gonzaga
Patron Saint of the Youth ~ Feast: June 21st
 
Born on March 9, 1568, this month’s featured Saint – Aloysius Gonzaga – was a youth descended from a line of illustrious nobles from both his father’s ancestry and his mother’s. He was the eldest of seven children, who from the tender age of four, was groomed to be both a courtesan and a soldier in the royal houses of Renaissance Italy. He stood to inherit his father’s title of Marquis, as well as enormous wealth and prestige... but as the boy grew, it was apparent that God had another path chosen for him.
 
At the age of eight, Aloysius was sent with one of his brothers to the court of Grand Duke Francesco de’ Medici, to serve as a page and to also be educated and trained in the social etiquette of life in court. Shortly after his arrival with the Medici’s, he fell ill with a form of kidney disease, which intermittently plagued him for the rest of his life. His higher education afforded him the ability to read so the boy providentially occupied his periods of incapacity by reading the lives of various Saints, who collectively sparked in him a desire for prayer and spirituality. This worthy past time made a deep impression on Aloysius and he reportedly made a personal vow of chastity at the age of nine.
 
The next tenure for the Gonzaga brothers was in the court of the Duke of Mantua where they were sent to serve in November, 1579. The precocious Aloysius, who was resolute in his practice of piety and purity, was not happy in Mantua given the careless life-style of this particular court; he returned to his hometown of Castiglione where he was fortunate to come under the influence of Cardinal Charles Borromeo (also a Canonized Saint, d. 1584). It was from the hands of this holy prelate that Aloysius received his First Holy Communion in July, 1580.
 
In the next four years - between 1580 and 1584 - Aloysius did quite a lot of moving about with his family. They spent several years in Madrid, Spain, in the service of the Holy Roman Emperor before returning to Italy. During this period of time, he continued to maintain his high standard of moral living and was even practicing various forms of self-mortification such as a strict regimen of fasting. When able to, he also shared his faith by catechizing the poor and by visiting monasteries of various orders in anticipation of entering into religious life. In the end, he decided on joining the Jesuit Order since it was his dream to one day become a missionary priest, but his father (not surprisingly) was violently opposed to it.
 
After unsuccessfully trying to dissuade him, Aloysius’ family reluctantly consented to his desire, and the pious youth entered the Jesuit novitiate in Rome on November 25, 1585. By joining a religious order, he was well-aware that he was effectively renouncing his inheritance and the worldly honor that it entailed… but Aloysius could not have been happier. He was noted for being a model religious with a caring, self-sacrificing spirit. In fact, his superiors had to reel him in a little by limiting his voluntary penances for the sake of his precarious health.
 
It was sometime in 1590 that Aloysius was forewarned by St. Gabriel the Archangel that he would soon die. His chronic kidney condition was causing him serious health issues along with migraines that often robbed him of sleep… in addition, the black plague broke out in Rome in 1591 and Aloysius had generously volunteered to nurse the stricken in a hospital administered by the Jesuits. It was there he contracted the dreaded plague from one of the victims, and although the disease didn’t outright kill him, the effects of it combined with his existing health problems left him severely weakened. His death occurred on the day he predicted - June 21, 1591 - after he was consoled and prepared by a second heavenly vision; Aloysius was only 23-years-old.
 
The Saint's ornate tomb in the Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius in Rome, Italy
  
The exceeding virtue and heroism of the young Jesuit was not forgotten by his companions and the populace of Rome.  Aloysius was already revered as a Saint in his lifetime so it wasn't surprising that his tomb immediately became a place of pilgrimage where many graces were received through his intercession.  Even the great St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi (d. 1607), from her Carmelite convent in Florence, claimed to have witnessed a vision of Aloysius entering into eternal glory after his death.
 
The holy young man was eventually Canonized on December 31, 1726, by Pope Benedict XIII.   He is considered a Patron Saint of the Youth and his Feast Day is commemorated each year on June 21st.  May St. Aloysius come to the spiritual aid of our modern young people! 
 
A Reflection:
"It is better to be the child of God than king of the whole world."  ~ Words of St. Aloysius
 
A Short Prayer:
Dear Lord, through the intercession of your faithful servant, St. Aloysius, we ask for the grace to love you above all earthly treasures and honors.  Amen.