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


Monday, October 28, 2013

Saints & Holy Relics Presentation/Visitation: St. Stephen Church, 10/27/2013

 
Holy Relics on display at St. Stephen Church in Honolulu, Hawaii
 
It has definitely been a busy and stressful week for me and my little ministry...  I spent the last few days preparing for three Holy Relic visitations - two of which were speaking presentations I was invited to conduct on October 27th at the neighboring parish of St. Stephen Church in Honolulu... while the other was for our monthly Fatima Group Prayer Meeting at the Gruber Family residence; all of which I had to accomplish in between spending lots of quality time with a sister who vacationed from California with her husband.
 
Thanks to God and his sustaining grace, I managed to get all the tedious preparations completed and the presentations turned out better than I expected.  The two speaking presentations consisted of the following:
 
St. Damien of Molokai Children's Presentation (for CCD students, Kindergarten to 5th Grade)
 
        
 CCD students learn about St. Damien of Molokai and enjoy doing it, too!
 
For my first presentation I came up with the idea of keeping the youngsters entertained and engaged by incorporating a giant jigsaw puzzle, picturing St. Damien one side and Jesus on the other (pictured above).  I had the children piece the Fr. Damien puzzle together after which I shared some basic information with them about his life and work in Kalaupapa, Molokai.
 
Next I had the children undo the puzzle, flip the pieces over, then assemble the Jesus-side of the puzzle.  When they finished with the second image, we discussed each of the virtues spelled-out around the face of Jesus and how St. Damien lived each one to become holy and Christ-like; a worthy Saint  we can look up to as a hero.  The children were thoroughly entertained while learning many valuable spiritual lessons.

Saints & Holy Relics Presentation (for older teens and the rest of the parish, in general)
 
Opening up the presentation with a prayer to the Holy Spirit
 
For the second presentation, I was invited to speak to teen and adult parishioners about the Church’s teachings about the Cult of the Saints, the Sainthood Process, and Holy Relics.  As with similar presentations I’ve conducted in the past, I brought along several genuine relics for the audience to view and venerate.  The Blesseds and Saints who were spoken about, and represented by their respective relics, were: the Blessed Maria Stella & 10 Companion Martyrs of Nowogrodek, St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, Bl. John Paul II, Bl. Margaret of Citta-di-Castello, St. Peregrine Laziosi... and the Blessed Virgin Mary, via her "Ex Velo" relic.
 
       
 Parishioners of St. Stephen Church viewing and venerating the Holy Relics of the
Saints & Blesseds after the presentation
 
Whenever I do these speaking presentations, I try to incorporate modern holy people so that the audience can view their true features via actual photos, know for a fact that these Blesseds and Saints really did exist, and hopefully make a personal connection with them.  I also make it a point to include a mix of holy people – men, women, young, old, religious, laity – so the audience will get the clear message that holiness is possible for ALL.
 
A table with free devotional items and literature about various
holy persons for the parishioners to help themselves to
 
All in all, I was deeply relieved and at peace once my second presentation ended.  Everything had gone extremely well, judging by the positive and encouraging feedback I received from some of the CCD teachers and several parishioners... and even from Fr. Khanh, the parish priest, who also sat through the second presentation.  I trust that many faith-seeds were planted that day, which I pray will bear much fruit for the parishioners of St. Stephen Church and their beautiful community.  In all things, may God be always praised and glorified.
 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Holy Relics Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 10/26/2013


"Holiness consists simply in doing God's will, and being just what God wants us to be."
~ Words of St. Therese of Lisieux
 
Only a small group of us were able to gather at the Gruber Residence this weekend… but it mattered little because the diverse faith-sharing that ensued was cause for much joy and personal reflection.  Our discussions ranged from the tough job our mutual priest-friends have in pasturing  their respective flocks and the need to have a compassionate understanding of their "human-ness"; facing death with faith, peace, and the anticipation of seeing God; personal commentaries on the day’s scripture passage [from Luke 13], which we read at the start of our meeting; to the "little way" of St. Therese the Little Flower our featured Saint of the Month (a relic from her bones was present with us, right photo).
 
Again, somehow, someway, everything seemed to blend together cohesively to make for a meaningful evening of faith and devotion for each of us who were there.  And because there weren’t as many of us present, we had the luxury of being a little more expressive and extended with our many personal petitions and intercessions during the “open-prayer” segment of the meeting.  It's always inspiring and moving to hear our members praying out loud because each person says exactly what's on his/her mind and heart.
 
"... I do like children who do not know how to read, I say very simply to God what I wish to say, without composing beautiful sentences, and He always understands me."  ~ Words of St. Therese
 
Prior to the meeting my fatigue and mounting anxiety due to an upcoming speaking presentation at a neighboring parish (for tomorrow morning) had weighed heavily on me… but by the time the evening ended, the weight of it was greatly alleviated thanks to the reassurance and prayers of this loving spiritual family... and that’s exactly what we’ve become to each other in the past year – a close-knit family; bonded, as such, and supportive of one another under the mantle of Our Lady, our Heavenly Mother... and in the company of the Saints.  For this spiritual gift of “Ohana”, we will always feel grateful to God.

"Even now I know it: yes, all my hopes will be fulfilled... yes... the Lord will work wonders for me which will surpass infinitely my immeasurable desires."  ~ Words of St. Therese
 

Friday, October 25, 2013

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


Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us!
 
Our Lady’s Monthly Message on October 25th:
   "Dear children!  Today I call you to open yourselves to prayer.  Prayer works miracles in you and through you.  Therefore, little children, in the simplicity of heart seek of the Most High to give you the strength to be God’s children and for Satan not to shake you like the wind shakes the branches.  Little children, decide for God anew and seek only His will, and then you will find joy and peace in Him.  Thank you for having responded to my call."
 
Our Lady’s Special Message to Mirjana on October 2nd:
   "Dear children, I love you with a motherly love and with a motherly patience I wait for your love and unity.  I pray that you may be a community of God's children, of my children.  I pray that as a community you may joyfully come back to life in the faith and in the love of my Son.  My children, I am gathering you as my apostles and am teaching you how to bring others to come to know the love of my Son; how to bring to them the Good News, which is my Son.  Give me your open, purified hearts and I will fill them with the love for my Son. His love will give meaning to your life and I will walk with you.  I will be with you until the meeting with the Heavenly Father. My children, it is those who walk towards the Heavenly Father with love and faith who will be saved.  Do not be afraid. I am with you.  Put your trust in your shepherds as my Son trusted when He chose them, and pray that they may have the strength and the love to lead you.  Thank you."
 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pilgrim Statue & Holy Relics Visitation: Vargas Residence, 10/12/2013


Family and friends gather in the driveway of the Vargas Residence
to pray the Holy Rosary for our troubled country.
 
It was that time again.  The Vargas Family in Kailua held their annual America Needs Fatima Rosary Rally in the front of their home to promote the urgent message of Our Lady of Fatima, and to pray for the spiritual and temporal needs of the United States of America.
 
I look forward to this particular gathering each year, as the sincere faith, love, and unity displayed by this family, including their extended family members, is always exceptional and inspiring! In fact, I just learned at today's gathering that one of the aunts in this large family (who has since passed away) had actually been favored with a private apparition of the Blessed Mother in her youth... so I'm not surprised that this family is so strong in their Catholic Faith and very devoted to the Virgin Mary.
 
As with the last two annual meetings, I was invited to bring my Sacred Relics of the Fatima Seers - Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia - as well as my lovely pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima.  Prior to the start of the Rosary and other prayers, I was asked to share about the continuing relevance of the Fatima Message for today's world... and I also spoke about the holy example given us - via the lives of the Fatima visionaries and Bl. Alexandrina Maria Da Costa - of how we, too, can apply the message in our own lives.
 
The prayers and hymns were simply awesome... and the joyful fellowship that followed with the delicious luncheon was an added blessing for all of us.  Again, may the good Lord bless the Vargas Family for their enthusiastic witnessing of the Fatima Events and for their generosity in warmly welcoming us to their home.  I am already looking forward to their 2014 Rosary Rally!
 
Food, fun, and fellowship followed after the prayer meeting.
 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 10/5/2013


   
 My Rosa Mystics statue returned to the Day Chapel after taking a break last month.  The statue
is joined on the display altar by holy relics of St. Anna Schaffer (l) and Our Lady's veil (r).
 
Our monthly Rosary for Peace marked its 3rd Anniversary with today's meeting!  I hadn't realized the significance of it until a couple of hours before we started... and although some of our regular participants were off-island on trips, the meeting was still well-attended with several guests from other parishes participating in our prayer.  I always enjoy welcoming these "pilgrims", as my hope is that our group's deep love for Our Lady, the Holy Rosary, and the Saints (and their respective Relics) will follow them back to their own parishes, as well as spread the word about this special Rosary Prayer that we're doing in our own parish.
 
The featured Saint of the Month was St. Anna Schaffer (d. 1925), whose Feast Day it also happened to be today, October 5th.  Another thing I particularly enjoy doing at the Rosary for Peace is introducing the attendees to little-known Saints/Blesseds... and based on the feedback I often receive after, I know the audience enjoys it, too.
 
So Anna Schaffer (left photo) - an obscure Stigmatic - is a good example of a Saint, who only recently has started to become better known outside of her home-country of Germany.  Several people were truly interested in learning more about her remarkable life and asked me questions about her after the meeting.  That's how I knew Anna had sparked some interest with our parishioners.
 
Anyhow, the prayer meeting was, as always... serenely beautiful.  The powerful sense of peace that pervades our Day Chapel for the 30 minutes, or so, that we're engaged in reflection and prayer is always a welcomed respite from the outside world's hustle and bustle.  It's truly refreshing.
 
Parishioners and guests to St. Anthony of Padua Parish begin to gather
before the start of the Rosary for Peace in our Day Chapel.
 
The next Rosary for Peace at St. Anthony of Padua Church will be prayed on Saturday, November 2nd - the Feast of All Souls!  Our prayer will not only be offered for World Peace, but we will be praying for our dearly departed, too.  All are welcome to participate!
 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Saint of the Month: October 2013


Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin 
Serving Jesus in the Sick-Poor ~ Feast:  October 20th
 
Anna Francesca was born on October 6, 1888, to a household that was both dysfunctional and abusive.  Her father, Angelo Boscardin, was an alcoholic who neglected the welfare of his family and was also known for his violent temper.  Anna Francesca, surprisingly, developed into a loving child with a peaceful temperament and a pious nature.  Because of her limited education she was considered somewhat mentally slow and was often teased with a nickname - "the goose" - by those who knew her.  To help make ends meet for her family, she worked in the fields and was also employed in her youth as a domestic with a local wealthy family.
 
In 1904, Anna Francesca gave in to her growing desire to enter religious life and joined the Teaching Sisters of Saint Dorothy, Daughters of the Sacred Heart in Vincenza, Italy.  She was given the name, "Maria Bertilla" and assigned to the convent's kitchen and laundry duties.  In 1907, the young nun was trained as a nurse and later assigned to a hospital managed by her congregation in Treviso; she worked in the children's ward where she became the favorite nurse among her many patients.
 
As a nursing sister, Sr. Maria Bertilla's reputation for exceptional service quickly began to grow.  She was noted for her sincere love for her patients and the warm charity that she displayed towards them.  She also had a special way of conveying the comforting presence of God to those who were seriously ill and eased their stress through her gentle demeanor.  In 1917, during World War I, as the town and its surroundings were being bombed, Sr. Maria Bertilla was known to have voluntarily stayed with wounded Italian soldiers to tend to them during that dangerous scenario.  She came to be greatly admired not just by her patients, but also by the entire community of Treviso.
 
As her popularity grew, so did the jealously of those who worked with Sr. Maria Bertilla.  One of her superiors, unhappy with her growing reputation, transferred her from the children's ward to the laundry room to keep her out of the limelight.  The humble sister made no complaint but continued with her new duties as though it was business-as-usual while dearly missing the hospital patients.  When the mother-general of her congregation heard of the transfer, she not only reinstated Sr. Maria Bertilla to the children's ward but also made her the ward's supervisor, ensuring her continued service to the sick.
 
The tomb-shrine of St. Maria Bertilla.  A wax figure encases her hallowed remains.
 
Sr. Maria Bertilla died on October 20, 1922, after having lived a life of total dedication to God through the service of the sick and the poor.  When the Church Canonized her in 1961, a large group of her former patients were present with the Saint's family members in St. Peter's Square to celebrate her holy life, and to pay tribute to St. Maria Bertilla's legacy of selfless Charity and Love.  The simple peasant woman who was once called "the goose" had taken flight and soared all the way up to Heaven.
 
A Reflection:
"I can't do anything. I'm a poor thing, a goose. Teach me. I want to be a saint."  ~ Words of St. Maria Bertilla Boscardin
 
A Short Prayer:
Lord, we are often ignorant when it comes to your blessed ways.  Like your servant, St. Maria Bertilla, teach us so that we, too, may hopefully become Saints.  Amen.