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 25, 2015

Holy Relic Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 4/25/2015


Standing next to my Virgin of Guadalupe
banner, which we hung in the garage.
Tonight’s Rosary Prayer Meeting was held in the Gruber's garage, as there was a major renovation going on in the house due to a recent and unexpected incident of water damage.  Being pregnant and a little stressed over having to figure out the logistics for this meeting, our host/prayer leader, at one point, considered cancelling… but after careful consideration, she decided to just put it all in the Lord’s hands and proceeded with it.  We were all glad she did because it turned out to be another great night of uplifting prayer and fellowship, despite the change in settings… plus there were a couple of people who attended, who we hadn’t seen in months, and it was truly a happy reunion for all of us.

And it’s providential how all the obstacles that transpired before this prayer meeting went along perfectly with the overall message that I speculate we were meant to receive from God: how to deal with challenges.

Challenges; it’s something that all believers in Christ can expect in life.  Not to discourage Christians (or would-be Christians) out there, but Jesus foretold this to his followers often enough in his lifetime (read John 15:18-20 for a good example).

The Saint of the Month, whose life we reflected on this month, inspired us to try to respond to all personal challenges in the way Christ did – with Love, Patience, and Humility… plus with an unfailing Hope that all will be well in the end. And yes... Jesus promised that, too; that Joy and Triumph eventually follow if we have Faith and hang in there (read Matthew 5:10-12).

So the Saint I referred to was St. Maria Crescentia Hoss (or just St. Crescentia, left), who died in 1744. For those not familiar with her life, she was a pious peasant girl who entered a Franciscan convent in Kaufbeuren, Germany. Because she was admitted without a dowry, she was looked down upon as a freeloader by the other nuns and mistreated, especially by the Mother Superior. Crescentia was made to do all the worst chores and was even deprived of a bed to rest herself at the end of the day. It’s one thing to expect challenges imposed on us by certain circumstances or by non-believers, but when it's generated by people who are supposed to be on our side – family and/or people from our own parish communities – it stings all the more.

A relic of bone particles from St. Crescentia
that we venerated during our prayer.
Poor Crescentia was tested to the breaking point, but rather than responding to her persecutors with bitterness, or giving up on her vocation, the young novice persevered by clinging to her faith in God.  By her sincere, exemplary conduct, she eventually won the nuns over and ended up as their Superior. The Saint's capable leadership lead to the convent's expansion and prosperity in both spiritual and temporal blessings. It was a spiritual Cinderella-story and our group instantly fell in love with St. Crescentia, the heroine of the story!

As already mentioned, the prayer meeting was wonderful… the food was amazing, and the company and conversation was stimulating.  In fact, everything went so well, there’s talk of perhaps holding the next prayer meeting in the garage again because the days are becoming so humid... and the cool air that occasionally wafted through the garage was a most welcomed sensation.  So it’s blessed irony how the small bunch of lemons we started with ended up as cool, refreshing lemonade!  But that’s Jesus for you - he turns all life’s challenges into blessings if we just put some faith in him.  God is good!

"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test
he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."

~ James 1:12

Monthly Messages from the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: April 2015


Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us
who have recourse to thee...

Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on April 25th:
   "Dear children!  I am with you also today to lead you to salvation.  Your soul is restless because your spirit is weak and tired from all worldly things.  You, little children, pray to the Holy Spirit that He may transform you and fill you with His strength of faith and hope, so that you may be firm in this battle against evil.  I am with you and intercede for you before my Son Jesus.  Thank you for having responded to my call."

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on April 2nd:
   "Dear children, I have chosen you, my apostles, because all of you carry something beautiful within you.  You can help me to have the love, for the sake of which my Son died and then resurrected, win anew.  Therefore, I am calling you, my apostles, to try to see something good in every creature of God, in all of my children, and to try to understand them.  My children, you are all brothers and sisters through the same Holy Spirit.  You, filled with love for my Son, can speak of what you know to all those who have not come to know that love.  You have come to know the love of my Son, you have comprehended His Resurrection, with joy you cast your gaze towards Him.  My motherly desire is for all of my children to be united in love for Jesus.  Therefore, I am calling you, my apostles, to live the Eucharist with joy, because in the Eucharist my Son gives Himself to you anew and with His example shows the love and sacrifice towards the neighbor.  Thank you."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Saints & Holy Relics Visitation & Speaking Presentation: Dona Residence, 4/11/2015


Me, with my two lovely hosts.
I've conducted many speaking presentations in private home-settings and it usually takes me a little while to get comfortable with my surroundings... but when I walked into the Dona Residence in Mililani Town last night to do one of Saints & Holy Relics Presentations, I immediately felt at ease.  It wasn't just the sincere warmth expressed by my hosts - Mrs. Ellen Dona and her daughter, Paz - but it really felt like I was in a relative's house.  Hearing the people speak "Tagalog" (a dialect from the Philippines), smelling the delicious Filipino dishes on the dining room table, and seeing a home-shrine to the Santo Nino (Holy Child) in the living room with other devotional images; it all felt wonderfully familiar to me.

I also sensed that I was in a home where Faith was alive.  In fact, I later learned that my host - "Auntie Ellen", as I started calling her - had actually been to the Marian apparition sites of Medjugorje and Lipa in the Philippines... so it all came together for me as to why I felt so much at awe and at peace in the home; we shared the same spiritual mother - our dearest Blessed Virgin Mary!

So at this presentation, we started off by praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet together (it was the last day of the Divine Mercy Novena) before I had the joy and privilege of sharing about our Church's spiritual heroes with a large group of over 20 people.  The roster of Blesseds and Saints, whose 1st and 2nd Class Relics I shared about included the following holy persons:  Bl. Anne Catherine EmmerichSt. Anthony of PaduaSt. Bernadette of LourdesBl. Bartolo LongoSt. Damien of MolokaiSt. Pope John Paul IIBl. Maria of the Angels Ginard MartiBl. Maria Pierina de MicheliSt. Padre PioBl. Peter To Rot, the veil of the Blessed Virgin, and my small sliver of wood from the True Cross of Jesus Christ.

   
The makeshift altar on which was displayed my large Divine Mercy statue and the
12 Relics I brought for public veneration by the audience.

During the talk, there were a few times when I was almost at a loss for words and felt somewhat "out of myself", being very moved by the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst.  I think some in the audience felt His spiritual presence, too.

After the presentation, the questions and positive feedback received from the participants was confirmation that the message of the Saints was well-received, and interest in the Blesseds/Saints had been sparked.  Many individuals took the time for a few moments of personal prayer before the display altar and a lot of them took home devotional items - Holy Face Medals, informational brochures, prayer cards, and 2nd/3rd Class Relics - that I freely offered on a separate table. 

   
The devotional items I brought to share with the people were almost gone by the end
of the night, which means faith-seeds were planted and interest was sparked.

I am always highly contented after each of my talks when I have at least one person come up to me to express that he/she had learned something new about this important aspect of our Holy Faith; tonight there were many who said they did.  So mission accomplished, thanks to the grace of God and the intercession of our Blessed Mother and the Blesseds/Saints.

And finally, my heartfelt THANK YOU goes out to my mother and daughter hosts; not just for the hospitality they expressed... but also for the special gift they donated to my ministry.  Auntie Ellen purchased a portable projector screen, especially for this presentation, and she informed me that it was for me to take home for use in my future presentations.  I never expect anything for my presentations... and their kind gesture deeply touched me because I really needed a screen, but never had the opportunity to purchase one because of financial obligations... so God bless Auntie Ellen and Paz, most abundantly, for their immense generosity!  God is good!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 4/4/2015


     
Mercy was our theme at this month's First Saturday Rosary Meeting at St. Anthony of Padua Church.
For the second time, my newly embellished Divine Mercy statue was on display in the Day Chapel.

I was pleasantly surprised today in so many ways.  First off, being that today is Holy Saturday and not just a normal First Saturday, our Saturday evening [Easter Vigil] service was scheduled for 7:30pm instead of the regular time of 5:00pm.  So this meant there would be a large gap in time between our monthly Rosary Meeting at 4:30 and the Vigil Service so I didn't expect more than a handful of people to attend this month.  But to my surprise, a bunch of regulars actually made the time to show up and there were even new faces among them in our Day Chapel.

A photo of Bl. Savina Petrilli,
foundress of the Poor Sisters
of St. Catherine of Siena
Since the Divine Mercy Novena officially began on yesterday (Good Friday) I decided to bring my large Divine Mercy pilgrim statue to display at the front of the chapel; fitting because the image represents the risen Lord, who we'll celebrate tomorrow.  In addition, the holy person I chose to speak about was a woman who founded a congregation dedicated to merciful service towards the poor; her name was Bl. Savina Petrilli (d. 1923).  This Beata from Siena, Italy, was inspired by her hometown [favorite] Saint - St. Catherine Benincasa of Siena (d. 1380) - to found the Poor Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena.  

After narrating Bl. Savina's story, I encouraged the participants to pick a Saint - any Saint they felt drawn to - and following Bl. Savina's example in imitating St. Catherine of Siena, to do their best to emulate one or two virtues practiced by their Saint-of-choice.  I told the group, if they did so, they too would begin walking the path of holiness, themselves; Bl. Savina's life reminds us of this very real possibility.

So we proceeded with our Rosary for Peace, which was wonderful, as always... and after it ended, we did something completely new - we added a Divine Mercy Chaplet since we weren't constrained by time today.  It was beautiful to pray it in our group and the people responded positively to it.  I'm hoping to perhaps include it again at future meetings.

Anyhow, when we finished saying all our prayers, several people went up to venerate the Divine Mercy statue and to get a closer view of the bodily relic of Bl. Savina Petrilli on display at the base of the statue.  I allowed two women who had health issues to hold the small reliquary in their hands, as we offered a special healing prayer for the both of them.  The look of consolation and gratitude on their faces after we prayed was priceless and I do hope Bl. Savina obtained a favorable outcome for these ladies.

The next First Saturday Rosary for Peace at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua will be offered on Saturday, May 2nd, beginning at 4:25pm.  All are welcome to participate.

A HAPPY, BLESSED EASTER
to all!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Saint of the Month - April 2015: Bl. Mariana of Jesus Navarro


Blessed Mariana of Jesus Navarro
The “Lily of Madrid” ~ Memorial: April 27th

Bl. Mariana of Jesus Navarro was born in 1565 to a well-to-do family in Madrid, Spain.  Mariana's birth-mother died while she was still a little girl, and her father, rather than giving her the attention that she needed, focused his interests on a new wife.  Sadly, the stepmother treated the girl rather coldly but, surprisingly, despite her lack of parental nurturing, Mariana grew into a beautiful young woman who was deeply pious.  It was even reported that the visible presence and guidance of her guardian angel was a factor in the child's exceeding piety.

In her early twenties, Mariana's parents hoped to marry her off advantageously, and even arranged a marriage for her... but the young woman dashed their hopes when she revealed to them her intention to become a nun.  To further prove her resolve she went so far as to cut off her long flowing hair to make herself less attractive to her suitor.  Also adding to her stressful situation were horrible temptations that began assailing her and a mysterious illness that caused her lifelong chronic pain.  Mariana sought guidance from a holy priest of the Mercedarian Order - Fr. John Baptist of the Blessed Sacrament - who counseled her through this difficult period of her life and provided her with the spiritual direction that she desperately yearned for.  Her family made her a virtual prisoner in her own home, and this form of persecution lasted for over ten years before her father finally relented and allowed her to choose her own path in life.

A bust of Bl. Mariana that captures her true
features.  It was molded using a wax death mask
made at the time of her death in 1624.
Once freed from family obligations, Mariana left home to concentrate her energies towards her quest for sanctity. Her weakened health disqualified her from entering any convent, so she practiced a strict routine of prayer and daily devotions while living in a small rented cottage beside the Mercederian Church in Madrid. With the recommendation and permission of her confessor she professed private vows of chastity and obedience as a Mercedarian Tertiary, and took the religious name of “Sr. Mariana of Jesus”.

After becoming a consecrated layperson, her personal program intensified with more prayer, voluntary penances, and charitable social work. Sr. Mariana  developed a great attraction to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and she was often observed kneeling before the tabernacle for hours, absorbed in enraptured prayer. In addition, Mariana’s deepening union with God was confirmed through many mystical gifts, which included: Ecstasies; Levitations; the power to Heal; Visions; and the Discernment of Souls.  She used her heavenly charisms on behalf of her many visitors who sought her counsel and prayers.

Another special gift Mariana received was the Sacred Stigmata.  She felt the pains of invisible thorns upon her head, after she repeatedly asked Jesus for the grace to share, in some small way, the sufferings of His Passion. In response he appeared to her and placed a crown of thorns upon her head with his very own hands.  Furthermore, when she was 33-years-old, Christ granted her the physical sensation of his other stigmatic wounds, which she experienced while reliving the Passion during ecstatic trances. 

Towards the end of Mariana’s life, her illness and various sacrifices weakened her to such an extent that it became necessary for her to take in a female helper.  The lady who came to live with her – a woman named Catalina - turned out to be bad tempered and impatient, who rather than alleviating her pains, added to them through the ill-treatment she showed Mariana.  Despite this additional trial, the humble penitent continued to display admirable patience and kindness to all peoples, including Catalina.

When her holy death occurred in 1624, crowds flocked to Mariana’s funeral to pay their respects and to venerate her precious remains, which emanated a mysterious scent of flowers.  Miracles that were reported in her lifetime continued to occur even after Mariana died, resulting in her Beatification during the reign of Pope Pius VI.  Today, the shrine of Bl. Mariana of Jesus – the Lily of Madrid - still draws visitors, especially on her Memorial.  Her body, discovered perfectly incorrupt, attracts thousands of pilgrims during its annual exposition when many come to marvel at its remarkable state of perfect preservation.     

A Reflection:
“You are the Light of the world.  A city built on a mountain cannot be hidden.” ~ Matthew 5:14

A Short Prayer:
O, Bl. Mariana of Jesus, you are a light for the people of Spain.  Help us to be a light to the people we encounter each and every day, leading them to the Lord.  Amen.