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
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Thursday, July 25, 2013
"Dear children! With joy in my heart I call all of you to live your faith and to witness it with your heart and by your example in every way. Decide, little children, to be far from sin and temptation and may there be joy and love for holiness in your hearts. I love you, little children, and accompany you with my intercession before the Most High. Thank you for having responded to my call."
"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."
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
~ St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori
In the context of Catholic Tradition, the scapular is sometimes incorporated into the habits of many Religious Congregations and Monastic Orders, both ancient and new. Not only does it serve a practical purpose for its wearer, but the scapular is also a visible sign of a consecrated soul’s servitude to the Lord and his/her willingness to actively serve God and neighbor. Depending on the Congregation/Order, scapulars come in various colors – black, blue, brown, red, etc. - and may even be decorated with symbols (eg. crosses, hearts, monograms, etc.) representing the charism of their respective religious institutions. Below is an example of a scapular worn by a religious Congregation/Order as a part of its official habit…
A group of nuns dressed in grey habits with blue scapulars.
In past centuries, a few of the older and more established Religious Orders such as the Carmelites, the Franciscans, and the Dominicans created modified “Rules” (similar to bylaws, in secular term) for lay-persons who lived in the world, but wanted to participate and share more directly in the spiritual life of a particular Congregation/Order. As part of their membership into these lay-orders, they sometimes wore habits that were modified, which could be a full garment (robe) or sometimes a smaller version of the religious group’s scapular. Hence, the familiar Brown Scapular often seen today is basically a Carmelite religious habit that has been drastically reduced in size for a layperson to wear discreetly and for practical reasons in a secular world.
that anyone dying in this habit shall be saved.”
~ Words of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Being especially devoted to the Madonna, I’ve heard my fair share of other Marian devotees, who in their enthusiasm for Our Lady, speak about the Brown Scapular in glowing terms that make it seem almost magical; charm-like pieces of fabric that “save” people from falling into Hell… and it's a big pet peeve for me when I hear it described as such because it takes the sacramental outside the realm of healthy devotion and puts it into the same category as superstition.
I hope that after reading all of the above, it’s clear the Brown Scapular is simply a religious habit. I often tell people they can liken it to a uniform and what the particular uniform is meant to represent. A good example would be a Police Officer's uniform, which was purposely designed to convey to its wearer and to the general public - by it’s fit, color, and badge - a visible sign of authority, civil service, law, and order; the vocation of a law enforcement worker (I have cop-friends).
In the same manner, a person who wears the Brown Scapular (or any other religious habit) should also convey by his/her manner of living and conduct the special Marian consecration/charism that the habit signifies. Thus, the power of the Brown Scapular lies in the grace the flows from living the consecration and NOT the garment, which of itself, can do nothing for the wearer if there is no measure of faith involved.
Why wear the Brown Scapular today?
Especially now in our current times, when there is open hostility towards the Church and Christianity, it wouldn’t be outrageous to say that there’s a moral and spiritual war being waged against the followers of Jesus Christ. The Scapular may now serve as a [military] uniform for all God’s children with the Word of God and the Holy Rosary as our weapons of defense. I would encourage everyone to wear the Brown Scapular - as a sign of whose side of the battle you're on - and to live the consecration that it entails. If we do so diligently, we witness to God and profess our willingness to be led by Our Lady to Jesus; consequently, we have our Blessed Mother’s promise to look forward to - we shall be saved.
~ Pope Pius XII
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Monday, July 1, 2013
Living in the near-vicinity of the parish church, Clelia spent much of her spare time there in personal prayer or actively volunteering with many of the parish activities. By the time she was 14-years-old, her exceptional conduct, maturity, and knowledge of Church teachings led to her appointment as a catechist, especially charged with training young women in the precepts of the Christian Faith. Consequently, Clelia was ridiculed by a few who viewed her as overly pious... but more so, was deeply respected and admired by the majority in her small town for her sincere example of virtue and dedication to God.
Now, as one can see from the photos of Clelia, she was indeed a very attractive girl… so it wasn’t surprising that marriage proposals were forthcoming to her mother. However, Clelia from early on had already discerned a call from Jesus to enter into consecrated life… and she politely declined all the marriage offers she received. Instead, she opted to continue her services to the parish and focused on other charitable activities such as visiting the sick and assisting the poor for whom she had a special affinity, given the personal hardships she went through while growing up. Added to these were self-mortifications, which included a “cilicia” - a spiked-belt - that she discretely wore on her body with the discerning approval of her confessor.
In time, Clelia gathered a small group of woman about her who shared her spiritual and service-oriented ideals, and together, they became the core members of the Suore Minime dell’ Addolorata (“Little Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows”), a congregation of women that Clelia founded in May, 1868. Just imagine - Clelia was a foundress of a thriving religious community by the youthful age of 21; the youngest founder in the history of the Catholic Church!
On another occasion, the mother of one of the nuns brought Clelia a basket of apples. Clelia divided the apples into three separate piles, stating that the nuns could keep two of the piles because they were either picked from the woman’s own tree or gathered after falling on her property, but she declined the third pile with a frank statement that the apples had been acquired dishonestly. The donor, contrite and undoubtedly embarrassed by Clelia’s uncanny insight, later acknowledged that the apples had been taken from a neighbor's property without permission. Again, this incident gives us a significant glimpse into the moral character and spiritual gifts of the foundress... and her conscientious desire to always live in goodness and truth.
In addition, Clelia had consoled her spiritual daughters with a promise that she would never abandon the congregation and would always be among them. Amazingly, the latter words were fulfilled when, a year after her death, Clelia’s voice was mysteriously heard singing and praying with her nuns! The unique voice-phenomenon reportedly continues up to this day in ALL the houses of the Suore Minime, audibly praying not just with the resident nuns, but also with visitors. Amazing!
“Mother, how can I become a saint?” ~ Words of St. Clelia to her mother
Lord, fill us with a desire to become holy in your sight... and reveal to us your plan on how we, too, may become Saints like your servant, Clelia. Amen.