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, August 27, 2016

Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group Meeting, 8/27/2016: Was Our Lady's statue moving?


This month's Rosary Prayer Meeting at the Gruber Residence was extra-special for me for a couple of grand reasons. First off, we had two of my cousins - mother and daughter - participate in our meeting for the very first time.  They drove quite a long distance from Waimanalo Town to Mililani to pray and fellowship with me and the rest of our group... and I was touched and happy that I got to spend rare, quality prayer time with them.  Furthermore, they were clearly moved by the entire experience, for which I was very grateful to God.

The truth is... I pray daily for all of my family members - especially those who don't practice their Catholic Faith - to either find their way back to God and His Church, or to deepen faith already present within their hearts.  I have a sense that my cousins being with us tonight was a positive indication that my prayer was starting to bear fruit and I was encouraged for my relatives.  Now I'm hoping my cousins will return regularly for future prayer meetings, but even if they don't, I'm certain that the Lord planted faith-seeds in their hearts, which in due time, will grow and bear positive fruits in their lives.

Our prayer group participants enjoying a delicious potluck
dinner after our prayers ended.

Secondly, I had a special personal experience in regards to the Marian statue that serves as a visible focal point during our monthly gatherings... and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it, even as I write this blog.

Just some background about this particular statue - it's a beautiful, 27" tall Rosa Mystica (a.k.a. Mystical Rose) statue that I bought over 20 years ago, which I then donated to our host/prayer-leader, Dre, in June 2012, after she started monthly Rosary Meetings in her family home.  Since then, the image has become a much-loved channel of signal graces with many of us group members occasionally experiencing signs in connection with it.  These signs include visible and dramatic changes to the statue's complexion and facial expressions (its face becomes life-like with soft, dewy skin); strong, but pleasing floral fragrances; and manifestations of escarchas... but this time around, a new manifestation occurred, which I have never experienced before.

Our prayer group's much-loved pilgrim
statue of Mary, Mystical Rose
Sometime during the course of this evening's Rosary, I happened to raise my eyes to look at the statue, when I saw its facial complexion suddenly lighten and take on the life-like appearance that I described above. As already mentioned, many of us have witnessed this phenomenon several times before so I made no attempt to draw the others' attention to the statue's transfigured appearance.  Besides, many were engrossed in the Rosary and I didn't feel right about disrupting peoples' deep contemplation... so I continued to focus on our prayers, while occasionally looking up to view the statue's face.  It was during one of these glances that I saw something strange - the statue's mouth appeared to move!

I couldn't believe it - it looked like the statue had moved its lips, as though Our Lady was saying prayers with us. I looked away then looked back, but the mouth was motionless, so I thought my eyes had played tricks on me.  However, a bit later, I glanced up again and, for a second time, the statue's lips seemed to open and close repeatedly for a few moments.  Again, it looked like Our Lady was silently praying. I was dumbfounded, to say the least, and discretely picked up my cellphone, activated the camera app, and started quietly filming the statue. I zoomed in on the face and filmed for several moments while looking at my cellphone screen. There was no further movement from the statue and it had returned to its normal appearance.

Anyhow, when I later checked the video on my cellphone, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had actually captured what I believe to be the statue's movements on film.  The video, itself, is a little grainy due to the dim atmosphere in the garage where we pray, and the effects of my camera's zooming... but it sufficiently shows the mouth movements that I saw in person.

I showed the clip to our leader, Dre, and other prayer group members, and everyone agreed that it looks as though the statue's lips are opening and closing.  In particular, the motion of the mouth is most obvious in the video when our group was praying the Glory Bethe statue's lip movements appear to be in sync with the words of the prayer (one can see the dark, oval gap between the lips when Our Lady mouths the words, "Holy Spirit"). How significant that Our Lady was praising and glorifying the Holy Trinity along with us - it's simply AWESOME!

video

ABOVE:  A short video clip, which I believe captures the movements I saw
from the Rosa Mystica statue.  Pay close attention towards the end when the
Glory Be prayer is being recited by our group.

BELOW:  A sequence of stills from the above video.  Note how the statue's closed mouth
opens and takes on a roundish shape in the 2nd and 3rd photos when the words "Holy Spirit"
are pronounced, before closing again in the 4th photo.


I am still overwhelmed with the wonderful events that transpired at this night's prayer meeting. God is good and so is our Blessed Mother, the Mystical Rose of the Trinity! It all just goes to affirm that Mary really does pray WITH us... and FOR us when we turn to her intercession with sincerity and confidence. It's a truth that applies not just to our Mililani group but also for all Our Lady's children who are especially devoted to her through the praying of the Holy Rosary.  Thank you, Blessed Mother!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Monthly Messages from the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: August 2016


Dear Children...

Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on August 25th:
   "Dear children! Today I desire to share Heavenly joy with you. You, little children, open the door of your heart so that hope, peace and love, which only God gives, may grow in your heart. Little children, you are too bound to the earth and earthly things, that is why, Satan is rolling you like the wind rolls the waves of the sea. Therefore, may the chain of your life be prayer with the heart and Adoration of my Son Jesus. Give over your future to Him so that, in Him, you may be joy and an example with your lives to others.  Thank you for having responded to my call." 

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on August 2nd:
   "Dear children, I have come to you - among you - for you to give me your concerns so that I may offer them to my Son; that I may intercede for you before Him for your good. I know that each of you has his concerns, his trials. Therefore I am inviting you in a motherly way: come to the table of my Son. He is breaking bread for you; He is giving Himself to you; He is giving you hope; He is asking for more faith, hope and serenity from you. He is seeking of you to battle within against egoism, judgement and human weaknesses. Therefore, as a mother, I am saying: pray; because prayer gives you strength for the interior battle. My Son, when He was little, often said to me that there will be many who will love me and call me 'mother'. Among you, I feel love. Thank you. For the sake of that love I am imploring my Son that none of you, my children, will return home the same as he came; that you may take with you all the more hope, mercy and love; that you may be my apostles of love who will witness with their lives that the Heavenly Father is the source of life and not of death. Dear children, anew, in a motherly way I am imploring you, pray for the chosen ones of my Son, for their blessed hands - for your shepherds - that they may preach my Son with all the more love and in this way bring about conversions.  Thank you."

Saturday, August 6, 2016

7/30 to 8/6/2016: A Week of Prayer with Saints


What a fruitful week of prayer it has been, thanks to our friends from Heaven - the Saints; praying with them and through their intercession; being encouraged by rich spiritual lessons from their lives...

Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 7/30

The August meeting of Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group.

It all started last week Saturday with the monthly meeting of the prayer group that gathers at the Gruber Home in Mililani.  Our close-knit prayer ohana got together again for the Holy Rosary, general prayer intercessions, and Christian fellowship.  The holy person we reflected on - Bl. Angelina of Marsciano - lived an extraordinary life of faith that consisted of trustful surrender to God in all things.  It really appeared that she dealt with her personal moments of adversity by first commending herself to God, through prayer, before "going with the flow" and simply trusting in God's plan for her.  Things worked out.  So the lesson for us was clear - pray and trust in God.  You can read a little bit more about Bl. Angelina here.


First Saturday Rosary for Peace, 8/6

Today's First Saturday Rosary for Peace at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua was again well-attended.  The weather was somewhat bad, which had me worried a bit in regards to this month's attendance, but shortly before the meeting was to begin, the regulars began streaming in and taking their usual spots in the Day Chapel.

The Saint we venerated and contemplated this month was none other than the illustrious Cure of Ars, St. John-Marie Vianney, who exemplified the ideal for parish priests; dedicating himself completely to his vocation and flock, most notably through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  This holy man was known to sit in the confessional for up to 16 hours a day(!), for nearly 40 years, reconciling sinners to Christ.  Thus, countless souls were lead to a life of Sanctifying Grace with its accompanying positive fruits of Peace, Joy, Love, Healing, etc.  Because of his huge success in converting souls, St. John-Marie drew upon himself the wrath of the devil, who often physically assaulted him during the night when he attempted to take some rest.  Learn a little more about the Cure of Ars here.

After meditating on the life of this tireless modern apostle, I was reminded of the sublime role of priests in our Catholic faith-lives and the urgent need to spiritually support them with prayer, as all priests throughout the world are subjected to Satan's malice in one form or another.  That was St. John-Marie's message to me.  Consequently, I was prompted to dedicate this month's Rosary Meeting for the sanctification of our local priests and I asked the participants to spiritually "carry" our Bishop Larry and all our Hawaii priests within their hearts, as we offered our Rosary for their sanctification and protection against the snares of the devil.

Parishioners venerating St. John-Marie Vianney's relic and
discussing his life.  One person had even gone to Ars on pilgrimage.

So who knows?  Perhaps one day, our Hawaiian islands, too, will be blessed with its own version of the town of Ars; complete with a long line of penitents waiting for their turn to confess to a "super-priest"; another St. John-Marie Vianney.  It seems far-fetched, but hey - with prayer, anything is possible, right?

The next First Saturday Rosary for Peace at St. Anthony of Padua Church, Kailua, will be offered on Saturday, 9/3.  All are welcome to participate.


Visit of the Hawaii Pilgrim Relic of St. Junipero Serra, 8/6

A group selfie with the St. Junipero Serra reliquary (center).

Lastly, the 1st Class [bone] Relic of St. Junipero Serra, that was brought by the Serra Club to Hawaii to promote prayers for religious vocations, is visiting St. Anthony of Padua Church over this weekend.  It was exposed in our Day Chapel for public veneration and prayer immediately after today's 5:00pm evening Mass... and will be exposed for veneration after every Mass tomorrow (Sunday, 8/7).

It just so happened that the Serra Club member who is the acting custodian for the relic during its visit in Kailua is also a parishioner and friend of mine so several of us regulars from the First Saturday Rosary meeting were treated to a personal visit with St. Junipero's relic... and were allowed to hold the reliquary, bless ourselves with it, and take photos.

  
Kailua Parishioners paying their respect to the relic of St. Junipero Serra.

What was extra-special about today was the fact that without any prior knowledge and coordination between myself and the Serra Club, we had two relics of two great priest-saints present in our Day Chapel, at the same time - a special privilege!  With St. John-Marie, we were inspired and called to pray for the sanctification and protection of priests; through St. Junipero, we were reminded about the urgent need of praying for increased vocations, which was the final lesson from the Saints this week.  I really believe today was providentially arranged by our Lord and Our Lady for the good of priests - truly, with our prayers, we help them.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Saint of the Month - August, 2016: Saint Philomena


Saint Philomena, Virgin & Martyr
Powerful with God ~ Feast: August 11th

Although there is little we know about the historical life of St. Philomena, the facts that we do have concerning the circumstances of her death, are sufficient to inspire admiration for her. On May 24, 1802, a tomb containing the skeletal remains of a teenaged girl was accidentally found in the Catacombs of St. Priscilla beneath Rome, Italy.  A cracked phial of blood was also in the tomb along with three terracotta tiles that were inscribed with Latin texts and painted with symbols associated with Christian martyrdom: a palm leaf, an anchor, and two arrows… and when the Latin inscriptions were combined, together they read, 'Pax Tecum Filumena' (Peace be with you, Philomena).  Considering the early Christian practice of carefully identifying the tombs of Martyrs, and preserving hallowed relics of the blood they shed for Jesus, the circumstances strongly indicated the remains belonged to a person who had been highly revered by primitive Christians – a Martyr named Philomena (Daughter of Light).

Image result for pax tecum filumena
An artistic depiction of the Saint
with her three identifying tiles.
The Church immediately took custody of the remains and they were almost forgotten in storage until a priest named Fr. Francesco de Lucia from Mugnano del Cardinale (or simply, 'Mugnano') traveled to Rome in 1805 to acquire relics for his rural parish church. Providentially, he was given Philomena’s bones, which he enclosed in an ornate case, within a life-sized paper mache statue representing her… and when the relics were solemnly enshrined in Mugnano, abundant miracles were reported, prompting a spontaneous devotion to the Child-Martyr although she hadn’t been formally Canonized yet. It wasn’t until January 13, 1837, that Pope Gregory XVI officially approved her cultus, or public devotions, after he was personally involved in recognizing the miraculous healing of the Ven. Pauline-Marie Jaricot (d. 1862) - the saintly founder of the Living Rosary Association - from a terminal heart illness, after she invoked St. Philomena's assistance at her shrine in Mugnano.

As for details concerning the Saint’s life… the popular account often cited today was actually compiled from identical private revelations, reportedly revealed by St. Philomena, herself, to three individuals living in different parts of Italy.  According to these church-approved revelations, the Saint was a Greek princess who had traveled to Rome with her royal parents. Her youthful beauty attracted the lewd advances of the pagan emperor Diocletian, but being a devout Christian who had solemnly consecrated her virginity to Christ, Philomena firmly rebuffed him while professing her faith in the one true God.  Despite the pleas of her parents to accept the emperor's proposal, the Saint remained firm in her refusal.

The enraged emperor promptly sentenced the princess to brutal torture and execution, which was carried out, via a round of scourging; an attempt at drowning in the Tiber with an anchor tied to Philomena's body; and by a firing squad of archers. With each attempt to kill her, the Lord sent angels to miraculously rescue and/or heal her, which resulted in scores of Romans converting to Christianity.  The exasperated Diocletian finally had her beheaded, thus, finally earning her the Martyr’s Palm of Glory in circa 304.  She was said to have been only 13-years-old at the time of her death.

The tomb and miraculous statue of St. Philomena within her shrine at Mugnano.
The Saint’s bones are enclosed within the image. 

Throughout the decades, the young Saint has commonly been represented as a lovely girl carrying one of the arrows that was aimed at her and the anchor that was used to try and drown her.  Her reputation as an effective intercessor has earned her many loyal devotees, worldwide, and the title 'Powerful with God' or 'Thaumaturga (Healer)'.  Among St. Philomena’s many clients can be counted other great Saints who had confidently invoked her name: Bl. Anna Maria Taigi, Bl. Bartolo Longo, St. Damien of Molokai, St. John Neumann, St. John-Marie Vianney, Pope St. Pius X, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, and the Ven. Maria Luisa of Jesus (one of the three mystic souls who received a private revelation of the Saint’s life), just to name a few.

I, personally, have become a grateful and enthusiastic devotee of this Saint after two important prayer intentions of mine were speedily granted through her assistance (one request was answered within an hour!).  In addition, on another occasion, her 2nd Class Relic in my ministry's custody manifested the mysterious sounds of "knocking" (a phenomenon often reported at St. Philomena's shrine at Mugnano) in direct response to a question I posed to the Saint!  These personal experiences of the Virgin-Martyr’s powerful intercession have prompted me to designate her as one of two special patrons for my Guadalupe House relic ministry.

Please visit www.philomena.us for additional information concerning St. Philomena or to support her Mugnano Shrine, via purchases of devotional articles of the Saint (blessed oil, medals, statues, and even clothing-relics from the gown worn by the miraculous statue that encloses her precious remains).

A lovely statue of St. Philomena and a little relic that
I obtained from the Saint’s shrine in Mugnano.

Novena Prayer to St. Philomena (to be prayed for 9 days)

   We beseech Thee, O Lord, to grant us the pardon of our sins by the intercession of St. Philomena, Virgin & Martyr, who was pleasing in Thy sight by her eminent chastity and by the profession of every virtue. Amen. 

   Illustrious Virgin & Martyr, St. Philomena, behold me prostrate before the throne whereupon it has pleased the Most Holy Trinity to place thee. Full of confidence in thy protection, I entreat thee to intercede for me with God; from the heights of Heaven deign to cast a glance upon thy humble client! Spouse of Christ, sustain me in suffering, fortify me in temptation, protect me in the dangers surrounding me, obtain for me the graces necessary to me, and in particular [specify your petition here].

   Above all, assist me at the hour of my death. St. Philomena, powerful with God, pray for me.  Amen.

(Conclude with an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be in honor of St. Philomena)