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 26, 2014

Monthly Messages from the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: April 2014


O Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us...

Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on April 25th:
   "Dear children! Open your hearts to the grace which God is giving you through me, as a flower that opens to the warm rays of the sun. Be prayer and love for all those who are far from God and His love. I am with you and I intercede for all of you before my Son Jesus, and I love you with immeasurable love. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on April 2nd:
   "Dear children, with a motherly love I desire to help you with your life of prayer and penance to be a sincere attempt at drawing closer to my Son and His divine light - that you may know how to separate yourselves from sin. Every prayer, every Mass and every fasting is an attempt at drawing closer to my Son, a reminder of His glory and a refuge from sin - it is a way to a renewed union of the good Father and His children. Therefore, my dear children, with hearts open and full of love, cry out the name of the Heavenly Father that He may illuminate you with the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit you will become a spring of God's love. All those who do not know my Son, all those thirsting for the love and peace of my Son, will drink from this spring. Thank you. Pray for your shepherds. I pray for them and I desire that they may always feel the blessing of my motherly hands and the support of my motherly heart."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Holy Relics Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 4/19/2014


     
The Rosa Mystica enthroned in the Gruber Home and a photograph of Bl. Alexandrina da Costa,
our group's patroness... plus three rare relics from the habit of St. Catalina Thomas.

On the eve of the one of the holiest Feast Days in the Church's calendar, our prayer group met to pray the Holy Rosary; to pray for our personal needs; to intercede for others; and to pray for the needs of the Church and the rest of the world. The mood was somewhat serious as we reflected on the Lord's Passion that was commemorated the day before yesterday... but we were also filled with anticipation for Easter Sunday, which we would soon be celebrating.

A flake of golden escarcha that I collected
from the table with my finger tip.
The Saint I shared about at this meeting was St. Catalina Thomas, who was also my blog's featured Saint for April 2014.  I actually planned on another holy person to talk about - a Blessed female founder - but at the last minute, I felt strongly inspired to share about St. Catalina instead. This particular Saint physically battled with demons... so the faith-lesson we gleaned from her life was twofold: First, we were reminded that the devil does exist as a personal being who wants nothing more than to have us all share in his ruin.  Secondly, we, too, have our own personal fight with the devil, via temptations and other obstacles that he throws our way... but like, St. Catalina, we should always hope and bravely persevere in our Faith, knowing that if we do, eventual victory and glory is assured us through Jesus Christ.  The group members enjoyed what they learned about St. Catalina's life and we were all edified by her faith example.

The Rosary Prayer that followed was, itself, very different tonight. We all commented on how it felt as though we were "absorbed" by a profound sense of peace and time seemed to be moving in "slow motion" while we prayed. It was an unusual sensation, but in a good way that's just hard to explain adequately. I interpreted it as some sort of effect of the Holy Spirit's presence.  More so, because escarchas were seen materializing, too: red ones on the framed 2nd Class Relics of St. Catalina (reminders of the Precious Blood of Christ?), and gold and green shiny escarchas on the table around which we were seated (there was nothing around us with man-made glitter).  The unexpected sign encouraged me to pray even harder.

In the end, we enjoyed our fellowship dinner consisting of fried chicken and fish, some shoyu poke (marinated raw ahi) with poi (pounded taro with water)... and a dessert of chocolate-covered eclairs. Everything was delicious and the meeting ended with all of us feeling refreshed, at peace, and very grateful to God for the generosity of His bounty.

A Joyous, Blessed Easter to All!


"Why do you look for the living among the dead?
He is not here; He has risen!"

~ Luke 24: 5-6


The Full Text of the 2014 Easter Message from Pope Francis: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Easter!

The Church throughout the world echoes the angel's message to the women: "Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised. Come, see the place where he lay" (Mt 28:5-6).

This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.

That is why we tell everyone: "Come and see!" In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life's troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast. "Come and see!": Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.

With this joyful certainty in our hearts, today we turn to you, risen Lord!

Help us to seek you and to find you, to realize that we have a Father and are not orphans; that we can love and adore you.

Help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.

Enable us to protect the vulnerable, especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times exploited and abandoned.

Enable us to care for our brothers and sisters struck by the Ebola epidemic in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and to care for those suffering from so many other diseases which are also spread through neglect and dire poverty.

Comfort all those who cannot celebrate this Easter with their loved ones because they have been unjustly torn from their affections, like the many persons, priests and laity, who in various parts of the world have been kidnapped.

Comfort those who have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity and, not infrequently, of freely professing their faith.

We ask you, Lord Jesus, to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent.

We pray in a particular way for Syria, that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid and that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenseless civil population, but instead boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue!

We ask you to comfort the victims of fratricidal acts of violence in Iraq and to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

We beg for an end to the conflicts in the Central African Republic and a halt to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria and the acts of violence in South Sudan.

We ask that hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord in Venezuela.

By your resurrection, which this year we celebrate together with the Churches that follow the Julian calendar, we ask you to enlighten and inspire the intiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country's future.

Lord, we pray to you for all the peoples of the earth: You who have conquered death, grant us your life, grant us your peace!"


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rosa Mystica Speaking Presentation: Aqui Residence, 4/16/2014


"I invoke a blessing on these statues, which represent me. Wherever I go,
I shall bring with me Joy, Peace, and Grace for very many souls."

~ Words of the Blessed Mother to Pierina Gilli concerning the
Rosa Mystica "Pilgrim Madonnas", November 1975


What a powerful, Holy Spirit-filled evening it was tonight!  A local religious association - the Basic Christian Community (BCC) of Hawaii - recently acquired a Rosa Mystica statue [pictured left & below], which they will be using as a traveling "Pilgrim Madonna" between the BCC cell-groups on the island. 

Several members of the Kailua group are friends of mine who regularly pray the First Saturday Rosary for Peace at St. Anthony of Padua Church so they were well-aware of my active promotion of the Rosa Mystica Devotion. Consequently, I was invited to speak at their weekly meeting this evening about the Marian apparitions of Montichiari-Fontanelle, and the important message Mary gave us through her seer, Pierina Gilli. 

I sensed Our Lady would be do something extraordinary tonight because silver escarchas were appearing in my car as I got into it to drive to the Aqui Residence, where the Kailua BCC meetings are held. When I got to the house, I was immediately enamored by the visiting statue and I also felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in a tangible way.

During my hour-long presentation, I shared with the people present (about 25 adults) a general overview of Marian Apparitions; the Church's teachings on Private Revelations; the history of the Rosa Mystica apparitions; the relevance of the prophetic messages directed towards Priests and Religious; and a few of my own remarkable experiences involving my pilgrim statue. All the while I shared slideshow photos from my 1989 pilgrimage to the Fontanelle Shrine and other images relevant to my talk.

At the end of the faith-sharing, something wonderful occurred that uplifted all of us - escarchas began manifesting on several people, on the Rose Mystica statue, and even on the flowers near the statue!  We were excited and filled with joy, knowing that Our Lady was giving us a special sign of her loving, maternal presence among us.  Even now, as I write this blog, I am still on a spiritual high from earlier this evening... and I am grateful and content.

I thank the Lord and our dearest Blessed Mama... and I also thank the Kailua BCC Cell Group for their hospitality and aloha.  May Our Lady, the Mystical Rose, pray for us.
  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Saints & Holy Relics Presentation/Visitation: The Cathedral Catholic School, 4/14/2014


The Cathedral School in Honolulu, where I was invited to share about Saints
and Holy Relics with a group of 1st and 4th graders and their teachers.

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by a woman who had attended my March 20th speaking presentation at Stephen Church, Nuuanu.  She's a teacher at a small Catholic school in Honolulu - The Cathedral School - and asked if I could share about Saints and Relics with her students.  After praying about it, we made the necessary arrangements and this morning I had the opportunity to share the lives of six holy individuals with about 25 children and their two teachers.

The six holy souls who I shared about with the students at the Cathedral School.

During my thirty minute presentation with the youngsters, we started by playing a game using a giant puzzle I created of St. Damien of Molokai, before I introduced the children to the Saints and Blesseds whose Holy Relics I had brought with me to share.  As I briefly shared about each spiritual hero, I showed lots of related pictures from my computer tablet and tried to emphasize a lesson to the children from the life of each holy person:

     +  St. Bernadette  =  courage/perseverance in the face of ridicule for believing in God
     +  St. Damien  =  charity and mercy towards the less fortunate
     +  Bl. Francisco & Bl. Jacinta  =  praying for unbelievers and sinners
     +  Bl. Margaret  =  capability to rise above any personal obstacle to become great in God's eyes
     +  St. Rose  =  never too young to share about Jesus to others

When I was done speaking, the teacher invited the children to come forward in small groups to view the relics up close, which for most of them was their very first exposure to the concept of Holy Relics.  Many of the students - ages 9- and 10-years-old - besides being naturally curious, appeared genuinely interested and fascinated by the idea that the Saints/Blesseds were physically present with us through their hallowed remains.

Left: A small display altar that I set up in the classroom for the Holy Relics and statues I brought.
Right: 1st grade students with their teacher, viewing the relics.

Before ending my time with the kids, I re-emphasized to them that a life lived with Faith, Hope, Love, and Mercy makes us more like Jesus - Saints in the making!  And when I asked the little ones if they believed that they, too, could live at least one of these spiritual values and become a Saint, the response I received was a resounding, "Yes!"

Mission accomplished for today.


* * * 4/18 UPDATE:  Letters from the Students * * *

I received a large envelope today, filled with handwritten letters from the 4th Graders of the Cathedral School.  I was moved.  It just goes to show that our kids really are hungry to learn about good things, such as the lives of our dear Saints... and they are paying attention even when we think they're not.  Anyhow, below are just of the few scanned copies of the letters I received from the students who I had the joy and blessing of visiting with. Talk about inspirational!





May Jesus bless all these beautiful children with lasting FAITH... and may Our Lady and the Saints
always watch over them and guide them ever closer to our Lord.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 4/5/2014


The Relics we venerated:
True Cross (l) & St. Gianna (r)
It's been a really tough week, personally; a tough Lent, so far, with heavy crosses to carry. First off, I lost a dear spiritual friend, underwent minor leg surgery this past Monday, and then just learned that another prayer group sister - "Pua" - has a serious heart condition that requires surgery (please pray for her). I needed this Rosary for Peace... to connect with our Blessed Mother, so as to draw comfort and strength from her maternal embrace.

We had a smaller than normal group gathered to pray this month... but we also had a few new faces, including a young mother and her daughter.  I was deeply impressed by the little girl (she looked about 5-years-old) because the child knew the Our Father and Hail Mary Prayers and followed along diligently with the adults, as she held a rosary in her little hands. The mother definitely needs to be commended for teaching her daughter how to pray at so early an age.

And speaking of commendable mothers, our Saint of the Month was St. Gianna Beretta Molla (d. 1962, right photo), a thoroughly modern holy woman - a doctor, in fact - who sacrificed her own life for the sake of saving her fourth, unborn child.  The people seemed really pleased to learn about her life story, especially one of the new participants who is active in our parish's RCIA and Pro-Life Movement.  May St. Gianna pray for all women, especially mothers throughout the world.  

At the end of the Holy Rosary and the Mass that followed, I did receive the grace that I was seeking - I felt strongly refreshed and lightened, despite the discomfort I felt from my leg and the concerns I had on my mind.  Jesus and Our Lady did not disappoint.


"Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

~ Words of Jesus (Matthew 11:28)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Saint of the Month: April 2014


Saint Catalina (Catherine) Thomas
Spiritual Warrior Supreme ~ Feast Day: April 1st

Having lived her entire life in Palma de Majorca, Spain, this obscure female Saint was born on May 1st, 1533, and died on April 5th, 1574. From her earliest years, her life was marked with suffering which she bore with incredible faith and resignation for the love of God and in reparational atonement; a "victim soul" for the benefit of sinners. Catalina Thomas was orphaned as a child and adopted by an uncle who was less than fit to be her guardian. The uncle neglected her and put her to work in the fields, shepherding his flock. Being often alone outdoors the youngster developed a deep respect for nature that eventually grew into a loving awareness and appreciation of God, our Supreme Creator.

At 15, Catalina experienced her first mystical experience during which she received a visit from her two Patron Saints - St. Anthony of Padua and St. Catherine of Siena - who encouraged her to dedicate herself completely to the Lord. When the girl expressed her desire to enter a convent, her uncle ridiculed her and attempted to dissuade her from following through with her vocation. At the advice of a local hermit who befriended her, she abruptly left home and was employed as a maid by a sympathetic, pious family. Catalina stayed with this family until her 20th year after which she bid them farewell to enter the local Augustinian convent.

St. Catalina, as a
young shepherdess
Almost immediately after the start of her religious life, the mystical phenomena that began in Catalina’s childhood escalated into terrifying experiences - outright "spiritual warfare" - that lasted until her final years. The devil apparently began harassing her not just spiritually, but also physically, through no fault of her own other than her desire to faithfully serve the Lord. Her companions, suspicious at first, were quickly convinced after witnessing many of the diabolical assaults during which the young nun was inexplicably thrown across rooms, or battered and left with frightful wounds by unseen forces.  On a few occasions, she would simply vanish from their midst and later be found trapped under heavy furniture, or even in the monastery well, where she required rescuing.

Sr. Catalina, on her part, maintained incredible tranquility despite the supernatural attacks and she constantly assured her sisters that they had nothing to fear from the Demon. On the other end of the spiritual spectrum, she was miraculously assisted by the likes of Sts. Cosmos and Damian - the brother, physician-Saints - in treating wounds she received from dark spirits and consoled by heavenly visions; the holy maiden utilized her ordeal as a way of uniting herself to the Passion of Christ and quickly ascended the ladder of holiness. Towards the latter part of Sr. Catalina's life, the hellish assaults became less common and the nun's cell was instead frequented by more and more blessed Angels and Saints rather than demonic entities. She was often rapt in sublime ecstasies that sometimes lasted for days at a time, the awe of which brought much edification to her companion nuns.

The body of St. Catalina
Near the end of her life, Sr. Catalina was given a prophetic forewarning of her death, which peacefully occurred in 1574. Remarkable favors and cures were reported at her tomb, confirming her sanctity to the people of Palma. Incidentally, her body was later found fragrantly incorrupt and it continues to remain so up to this very day. The precious relic is elaborately enshrined and venerated in the Augustinian Monastery in which the holy woman prayed, atoned, and died (right photo). Her annual Feast Day celebration is a large, integral event ingrained in the lives of the locals of Palma de Mallorca.

St. Catalina Thomas was Canonized on June 22, 1930, by Pope Pius XI. May she intercede for us in these troubled times, especially against the blatant attacks of the devil towards our Holy Mother Church.

A Short Reflection:
"No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from me," says the Lord.
~ Isaiah 54:17

A Short Prayer:
Lord, through the intercession of your valiant spouse, St. Catalina Thomas, assist and defend us in our personal battles against the forces of evil.  Amen.