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


Sunday, September 25, 2016

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



Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on September 25th:
   "Dear children! Today, I am calling you to prayer. May prayer be life to you. Only in this way will your heart be filled with peace and joy. God will be near you and you will feel Him in your heart as a friend. You will speak with Him as with someone whom you know and, little children, you will have a need to witness, because Jesus will be in your heart and you, united in Him. I am with you and love all of you with my motherly love.  Thank you for having responded to my call."

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on September 2nd:
   "Dear children, according to the will of my Son and my motherly love, I am coming to you, my children, but especially to those who have not yet come to know the love of my Son. I am coming to you who think of me and who invoke me. To you, I am giving my motherly love and I am carrying the blessing of my Son. Do you have pure and open hearts, and do you see the gifts, the signs of my presence and love? My children, in your earthly life, be led by my example. My life was pain, silence and immeasurable faith and trust in the Heavenly Father. Nothing is by chance: neither pain, nor joy, nor suffering, nor love. All of these are graces which my Son grants to you and which lead you to eternal life. Of you, my Son asks for love and prayer in Him. As a mother I will teach you: to love and to pray in Him means to pray in the silence of your soul and not only reciting with your lips; it is even the least beautiful gesture done in the name of my Son - it is patience, mercy, the acceptance of pain and sacrifice done for the sake of another. My children, my Son is looking at you. Pray that you also may see His face and that it may be revealed to you. My children, I am revealing to you the only and real truth. Pray that you may comprehend it and be able to spread love and hope; that you may be able to be apostles of my love. In a special way, my motherly heart loves the shepherds. Pray for their blessed hands.  Thank you."

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Holy Relic Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 9/24/2016


There was a tangible excitement in the air as we started our prayer meeting tonight. I think it was partly due to what happened last month - when I witnessed our host family's Rosa Mystica statue moving its mouthas though Our Lady was reciting prayers along with us.

I noticed our prayer members were a little more attentive and focused on the statue... and the fervor in their voices and demeanor was definitely turned up a couple of notches while we prayed. I must admit - I was excited, myself, but alas, nothing unusual happened with the statue this evening.

Still photos of our host's Rosa Mystica statue, showing the opening and closing of its lips.

Yet, despite all the extra devotion displayed, it wasn't just over the statue - I think the other reason for the expressive piety was because it may have finally dawned on most of our members (after four years of monthly meetings) just how exceptionally blessed we are by the Blessed Virgin Mary; that for some bewildering reason, we've been graced with many extraordinary manifestations of her maternal presence... and I state that with no sense of self-importance; it's just the truth, given all that we've experienced throughout the years (e.g. fragrances of flowers, appearances of escarchas, and the transfigured face of the Rosa Mystica statue).

So as people prayed tonight, they did so not as though they were praying to a God who was distant from us... or calling to the Blessed Mother up in Heaven somewhere; rather, I got the impression that people prayed today with wide open hearts and with a heightened conviction that Jesus and Our Lady were right there beside us in our little circle of prayer. It's how we should've been praying all along... and how we should continue to pray in the months ahead.

Celebrating the presence of God in each other, via our group's fellowship dinner.

At the end of the Rosary, I didn't detect any hint of disappoint in peoples faces over not witnessing signs tonight. Instead, I think the added fervor resulted in people leaving the Gruber Home more uplifted than usual; joyful and unburdened from a month's worth of life's daily trials.  Indeed, it was a much greater blessing than seeing the statue move again.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Speaking Presentation & Holy Relics Presentation: Sacred Heart Church, 9/13/2016


The large statue outside the church
Praises be to God!  Tonight, I was privileged to bring the lives and relics of Jesus, Mary, and 11 Saints/Blesseds to yet another parish on the island of Oahu.  This time around, I was invited to speak at the Sacred Heart Church in Waianae by its team of RCIA facilitators.  I've never been to this parish before, given its distant and remote location on the leeward coast of the island, so I was excited to be able to faith-share with some of the members of the small, close-knit community.

But this presentation was actually the most difficult for me to prepare for; many obstacles were thrown at me due to work and personal matters.  In particular, I was incapacitated for several days last week by a severe cold... and then also developed an uncomfortable, oozing pink eye.  Plus on top of it all, my presentation slideshow and relics weren't even prepped yet. I was almost on the verge of cancelling the presentation, but instead, I mustered all the faith I had in the Lord, trusting that He would make me well enough to speak tonight and help me to finish my preparations.... and sure enough, I recovered, finished my prep-work, and received a green light from my doctor to proceed with the presentation.  In lieu of how things turned out this evening, I'm glad I wasn't forced to cancel.

   
Left: Devotional medals and informational pamphlets on several Saints and Blesseds for free distribution.
Right: Some of the Sacred Heart parish's RCIA members and sponsors awaiting the presentation

My new Waianae spiritual family proved themselves to be an open-hearted audience. Despite the presentation lasting longer than normal, they were patient and showed genuine interest in the various topics I discussed throughout the talk. Afterwards, many of them enthusiastically collected the Holy Face Medals and various devotional pamphlets that I brought with me for distribution... before venerating a splinter of wood from the Holy Cross of Jesus Christ and the relics of Our Lady; St. Joseph; Bl. Alberto Marvelli; St. Bernadette of Lourdes; Bl. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez; St. Gemma Galgani; St. Lucy of Syracuse; St. Margaret Mary Alacoque; St. Maria GorettiBl. Maria Pierina de Micheli; St. Padre Pio; and the recently canonized, St. Teresa of Calcutta.

   
After the presentation, audience members collected devotional items and venerated the relics of
Our Lord, our Blessed Mother, and various Saints and Blesseds on the display altar.

If receiving an invitation to return for another talk is any indication of a positive response, then I think I can safely report that tonight's presentation was very well-received; the inhabitants of Heaven have done their work of evangelization - Our Lord and Our Lady, along with the Saints and Blesseds, have left their blessed mark in the hearts and minds of the Waianae faith-community.  Thanks be to God!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 9/3/2016


Thank you, Lord! Today's monthly Rosary Prayer at St. Anthony of Padua Church was whole-heartedly dedicated to thanking HIM. The entire island chain has been on edge this week due to back-to-back hurricane watches. First, it was Hurricane Madeline... then it was Lester. Remarkably, both veered away from the islands - the first to the South, the other to the North - just a couple of days before potential hits, sparing us islanders from devastation.

       
A friend/co-parishioner privately venerates the Rosa Mystica pilgrim statue prior to
the start of our prayer meeting. She had been particularly touched because shortly after
she walked into the chapel, red escarchas appeared on her left hand.

In fact, Hurricane Lester, which had intensified to a Category 3 at one point, was predicted to come so close to Oahu, me and my co-facilitator of the Rosary Meeting discussed canceling this month's meeting out of concern for the dangers involved. We were both saddened about it because we had never once canceled a prayer meeting in the nearly 6 years, straight, that we've been leading it. But what do you know? - God was gracious and the storm veered away, resulting in the lifting of the hurricane watch this very morning. Again, thank you, Lord!

So the meeting went on as scheduled and it was beautiful to see many people turning out to pray the Rosary, despite the weather alerts and the somewhat gloomy skies earlier in the day. When I announced that the prayer was being offered specifically in thanksgiving to God for having spared us from the two storms, people in the Day Chapel nodded; we all agreed that we needed to give credit where credit was due.

     
A relic of Mother Teresa was displayed in the Day Chapel during our prayer meeting. After the
Rosary, many parishioners approached the altar to pay their respects to the future Saint.

It goes without saying that our meeting was extra-meaningful and people prayed with deeper fervor. The Saint we honored was the ever-popular Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who will officially be declared a Saint tomorrow in Rome... and the presence of a 2nd Class Relic from her habit was a source of excitement for our parishioners. It was evident that the people just love and revere her as the number of participants who stayed to venerate the relic after the prayer was more than normal.

Next month will be the 6th Anniversary of the First Saturday Rosary for Peace at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Kailua; another grace to be thankful to God for (I didn't think we would last this long). For those interested in praying with us for much-needed Peace in this troubled world, the October meeting will be held on 10/1, beginning at 4:25pm. All are welcome!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Saint of the Month - September, 2016: Saint Catherine Fieschi Adorno


Apostle of the Poor Souls ~ Feast: September 15th

Our September Saint is remembered for her works of mercy, as well as acclaimed, as the Apostle of the Poor Souls, whose private revelations, recorded in her classic spiritual writing - "A Treatise on Purgatory" - is filled with solid mystical insight into the Church's doctrine of Purgatory.

An accurate portrait of St. Catherine of Genoa
She was born Catherine Fieschi in the city of Genoa, Italy, in the year 1447. The Fieschi family was of noble lineage, and they were privileged to count among their own, two Popes: Pope Innocent IV (d. 1254) and Pope Adrian V (d. 1276).  

According to biographies of this Saint, Catherine was described as an attractive woman, tall and well-proportioned, with long features and dark eyes. As a child she was remarkably pious and, at age 13, attempted to follow an older sister into a local Augustinian Convent, but was refused admittance due to her young age. Disappointed, the child set aside her aspirations to consecrated life and even reluctantly acceded to a marriage, politically arranged by her brother and mother, to a member of another prominent family in Genoa. Unfortunately, the match was a poor one.

Catherine was 16-years-old at the time of her marriage to Giuliano Adorno. The man soon proved to be irresponsible, ill-tempered, and unfaithful, leaving his young bride lonely and depressed for the first five years into their married life. The sad state of their relationship also had the effect of leaving Catherine lukewarm in the practice of her spiritual life. In an effort to relieve her misery, she immersed herself in the worldly distractions offered by her social status; dressing in fine clothing and attending lavish events. This mode of life transpired for another five years until depression and a deep sense of emptiness caught up with her again. This time around, she turned to the right person for consolation - God.

Desperate for inner peace, the young aristocrat visited her sister, Limbania, the Augustinian nun, and through her prompting decided to make a general confession with the convent's chaplain. No sooner did Catherine kneel to confess when was suddenly struck by a sense of God's unconditional Love and Mercy for her. She also "saw" the state of her soul in light of the Lord's immeasurable goodness. This experience of Divine Love was so profound, it knocked the penitent unconscious, and when she recovered her senses, Catherine hurriedly left the convent without finishing her confession. It was the very first mystical experience of hers of which many would eventually follow.

St. Catherine nursed the sick-poor in her effort to be more like Christ.

When she reached home, for several days Catherine remained secluded, overwhelmed by the personal revelation in the confessional and deeply lamenting her life of spiritual carelessness. Christ intervened by appearing to her, wounded and burdened by the weight of his cross, and with this second mystical experience, Catherine cried out, "O Lord, I will never sin again; if need be, I will make public confession of my sins."... and with these words the Saint immediately set about making changes to her life.

Now inflamed with a renewed love for God, Catherine put aside her fine wardrobe and the luxuries of her social life, and began living a strict spiritual regimen consisting of Holy Communion (daily, which was rare in her time) and voluntary penances and fasting. Being childless, she persuaded her husband to allow her to live chastely with him and to serve the sick-poor of Genoa in active service, to which he readily agreed. Thus, unhindered by marital obligations, Catherine began to speedily ascend the ladder of holiness, via prayer and good works.

The plight of the Poor Souls was a particular
concern to St. Catherine of Genoa.
As she grew in virtue and deeper love for God, the Saint's mystical experiences also increased in frequency. For the rest of her life she had ecstasies during which she had visions of Jesus; encounters with the Poor Souls in Purgatory; and also received the hidden Stigmata. Despite the intensity of her spiritual life, it did not disrupt her busy schedule of being the administrator of the large hospital of Genoa where she had spent a considerable amount of time as a volunteer nurse. On top of it all, she also found the time to fulfill obligations as a Third Order Franciscan.

Perhaps one of the biggest triumphs in the life of St. Catherine was the conversion of her wayward husband. As already mentioned, Giuliano gave his wife free reign to exercise her spirituality, and was eventually changed for the better by her holy example. After having squandered their assets in bad living, he reformed his ways, joined the Franciscan Third Order (along with Catherine)... and nursed the sick side-by-side with his wife at the Genoa hospital. The couple lived modestly in a small rented home near the hospital and, when Giuliano, himself, was struck by a serious illness, Catherine lovingly nursed him until he passed worthily into eternity.

In the last 10 years of her life, Catherine was subjected to a mysterious condition that incapacitated her before she died on September 15, 1510, at the age of 63. During this period, in particular, the "fire" of Divine Love grew so great within her soul, its effects were physically manifested on her body. When prescribed blood-letting treatments were performed on her, the Saint's blood was so scalding hot it even heated the basins they were collected in! Interestingly, Catherine, in her writings compared the fiery sensation within her spirit and body to the delightful, yet painful purgation, that the Poor Souls endured... and of which she was granted a mystical participation in order to assist them.

The incorrupt body of St. Catherine Fieschi Adorno, as venerated in Genoa, Italy.

Pope Clement XII canonized St. Catherine of Genoa in 1737. Her body, discovered miraculously preserved 18 months after her burial, is now enshrined in a Church dedicated to her name in her home-city. May her faith-example not only inspire us to perform works of mercy for the sick-poor, but also for the Poor Souls!

A Reflection:
"God so transforms the soul in Him that it knows nothing other than God; and He continues to draw it up into His fiery love until He restores it to that pure state from which it first issued."

~ words from the writings of St. Catherine of Genoa

A Short Prayer:
Lord, through the fire of your Divine Love, purify and renew us so that we, too - like St. Catherine of Genoa - may merit the joy of your blessed embrace in Heaven. Amen.