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, October 22, 2017

Pilgrim Statue & Holy Relics Visitation: Damien & Marianne Catholic Conference, 10/21/2017


An occasion of special grace for the Catholic Church in Hawaii!
It's been a busy October so far for this little ministry and there's still a few more things to come before the month ends... but I expected it to be an exceptionally active month since this time of the year is closely associated with Our Lady, the Saints, and the Holy Rosary; devotions I strive to promote.

The latest event I've been involved with - and the biggest so far for me - was the Damien & Marianne Catholic Conference.  The inaugural conference was held this weekend at the Hawaii Convention Center and I was invited to conduct two back-to-back presentations as part of the conference's Saturday lineup of breakout sessions. Several fantastic speakers were gathered to present on a variety of spiritual and social topics, and I considered it an honor for my personal ministry to be included... but at the same time how humbling and terrifying!   

On my part I had the privilege of faith-sharing to a couple of smaller audiences, which made for informal and intimate settings that I enjoyed.  My presentation was called Our Saints - God's Many Faces of Love & Mercy but it was basically the same content and format that I've done in past Saints & Relics presentations - a photo-filled slideshow summarizing the Sainthood Process; explaining what Holy Relics are; and featuring several biographies/genuine relics of mostly modern Blesseds/Saints.  The only thing that changes from presentation to presentation is the lineup of the holy individuals I speak about, which I tailor to suit my general audiences.  

Several 1st & 2nd Class Relics in my ministry's custody were displayed for public veneration
during my two presentations at the Damien & Marianne Catholic Conference. 

So for the Damien & Marianne Catholic Conference I prayerfully chose the following holy persons to feature and speak about, and also brought their respective relics to be publicly venerated by my audiences: St. Anthony of Padua (bone relic); St. Bernadette of Lourdes (bone relic); St. Damien de Veuster (coffin wood relic); Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos (bone relic); St. Gianna Beretta Molla (clothing relic); Sts. Louis & Zelie Martin (bone relics); Bl. Margaret of Citta-di-Castello (bone relic); St. Peregrine Laziosi (bone relic); St. Padre Pio (stigmata bandage relic); Bl. Rolando Rivi (hair relic); St. Therese the Little Flower (bone relic)... and no talk of mine about Saints would be complete if I didn't include my ministry's veil relic of the Queen of All Saints - the Blessed Virgin Mary!

Based on conversations I managed to have with several attendees after each presentation, it appears both talks were well-received by their respective audiences. People described the presentation as generally "interesting" and the stories of the Blesseds/Saints as "inspiring".  Many stayed to venerate the relics and a few even left teary-eyed, obviously touched by their personal contact with the hallowed remains of our spiritual heroes.  I was also deeply moved seeing the peoples' reaction to the Blesseds/Saints and I understood what they were going through.

Audience members venerating the relics after the presentations.

As already stated above, this event was a privilege for my ministry.  It's difficult for me to describe in a few words just how personally blessed I feel each time I am able to share with audiences the exemplary lives of the Blesseds/Saints... to be able to give them a "voice" so that their encouraging message can be heard once more... to be able to have them venerated through their relics... and to be able to bring a measure of inspiration and hope to the people in my audiences who may be looking for it.  I can only say that I love this "job" and I thank Jesus that I am given opportunities to do it.  May Glory and Praises be to Him always!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pilgrim Statue & Holy Relics Visitation: Vargas Residence, 10/14/2017


It was that time again - the America Needs Fatima Rosary Rally at the Vargas Home in Kailua!  For sure, it's become an anticipated annual tradition for many of us - their family and friends - and this year's rally was bigger than ever.  I'm not surprised, though; it had an air of "extra-special-ness" leading up to it because the 1917 Fatima Apparitions commemorated its Centennial Anniversary this year!  Truly a significant time for the Church, especially for devotees of Our Lady of Fatima... and for everyone else, too, as a matter of fact, because the Blessed Virgin's warnings at Fatima impact the entire world whether people realize it or not!

       
The group of family and friends who came together this year at the Vargas Home in Kailua
to respond to Our Lady of Fatima's urgent call for Conversion, Prayer, & Penance.

As with prior prayer rallies at the Vargas Home the presence of my ministry's lovely Fatima Pilgrim Virgin statue was requested, along with the sacred relics of the three Fatima Seers (Sts. Francisco & Jacinta Marto and Sr. Lucia).  I also took the liberty of including a relic of the Portuguese mystic, Bl. Alexandrina Maria Da Costa, since she is often acclaimed as the "fourth Seer of Fatima" due to her close association with the Fatima Message, and her extraordinary efforts to promote consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  The makeshift altar with the statues and relics was a comforting sight, providing us with a devotional focal point and a visible reminder that Our Lady and the Saints pray for us... as well as with us for all the world's problems.

My ministry's 30" Fatima pilgrim statue
I was also asked to say a few words before the prayer began so I took the opportunity to share with those present the little-known fact that Sr. Lucia had reported having additional apparitions of Our Lady and Jesus in the 1920s. During one such encounter the Lord allegedly lamented to the seer that the message was not being heeded as it should be, which is a cause for big concern. Jesus, himself, from back then, seemed to confirm the world's general indifference to Heaven's appeals and look at the results today - we're living in a world that's growing in turmoil and violence (just turn on your TV and watch the news, if you don't understand what I'm saying).  

I further reminded the people that if praying for the entire world was too overwhelming because of how bad things seem now, all over creation, we can start by applying Our Lady's message to our own "little" worlds - pray the Rosary to convert sinners in our small communities and to bring about peace between fighting neighbors; for sinners in our homes and for peace in family disputes; and for our own souls, if we are lacking conversion and peace.  Now, more than ever, we simply can't afford to ignore the Fatima Message - we need the grace that a daily Rosary has to offer.  There is power in the prayer!

With the above being said, we then did our group-prayer in public view, as directed by the America Needs Fatima organization, and it was awesome... again.  And the luncheon that followed was a great way to close-out the event. Spending quality time with co-parishioners outside of the church setting and meeting new friends, while enjoying a delicious fellowship meal together, is always an effective way to build up the kingdom of God on earth.

Another view of the altar that was set up on the street outside the Vargas Home for today's Rosary Rally.
Statues of Sts. Francisco & Jacinta Marto and Bl. Alexandrina Maria Da Costa flank my Fatima Pilgrim Statue and relics of the four seers in my ministry's custody.

So thank you, Blessed Mother, for 100 years of graces and blessings through your Fatima apparitions.  Pray for all the Faithful throughout the world and protect us from every evil.  We love you!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 10/7/2017


Seven years of monthly prayers for peace... uninterrupted.  Today's First Saturday Rosary marked the 7th Anniversary of the start of our parish's special monthly devotion to the Blessed Mother and her favored prayer - the Holy Rosary.  And what an appropriate day, too - on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!

As such, I was a bit sentimental this afternoon as I reflected on the past years that we've been holding these prayer meetings; seeing how the regulars keep faithfully coming back month after month; seeing how many of them have grown in their personal devotion to Our Lady and the Saints, and became active in various parish ministries indicates to me how this devotion has made a positive impact in our lives.  I hope we can at least continue this for another year, God willing.

So following our usual program, we began with me introducing the participants to October 2017's Saint of the Month - St. Angelo of Acri. Before launching into his life story, I first asked the people to raise a hand if they had a devotion to St. Padre Pio. Immediately, many hands went up and with obvious enthusiasm! I then prefaced my brief account of St. Angelo's life by telling everyone that he was the Padre Pio of his time. I knew I had the audience's attention at that point because it seemed that people's ears suddenly perked up. You can read about St. Angelo's incredible life by clicking here... so I'll just fast-forward to the faith-lesson he inspired me to share this month, which was - to be Angels of Peace.

You see - St. Angelo of Acri was nicknamed the "Angel of Peace" during his lifetime and it's probably due to the immense good and the reconciliation he effected wherever he went. Hence, I challenged those present to strive, themselves, to be Angels of Peace like St. Angelo, within their own little worlds outside of the church - at home; at work; in their neighborhoods, etc. And in these times so full of hatred and violence, lately, we need more people to be Angels of Peace... to combat the influence of the angels of darkness that are lurking among us.  Simple message... and do-able, I think, if we just seriously choose to side with the Light.

A 1st Class [bone] Relic of St. Angelo of Acri in my ministry's custody that we
venerated at this month's First Saturday Rosary.

After the rosary prayer ended, I felt completely refreshed as I usually do after each First Saturday Rosary. In fact, a small group of us stuck a round for a while discussing the wonderful sense of Peace we felt... and how the traffic noise from outside the chapel seems to slowly melt away once the prayers get rolling. It happens each month - the soothing rhythm of our prayer never fails to cancel out the chaotic noise of the outside world. It's amazing and I think it's a big part of the reason why these meetings have been going on for seven years now - we all crave PEACE in our lives and the Rosary channels it into our hearts from the hearts of Jesus and Mary.

For those interested in joining us in our prayer for personal and World Peace, the next First Saturday Rosary at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua will be held on November 4th.  All are welcome!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Saint of the Month, October 2017: St. Angelo [Falcone] of Acri


Saint Angelo of Acri
An Angel of Peace ~ Feast: October 30th

Arguably, St. Padre Pio (d. 1968) is the most celebrated Saint of the Franciscan Capuchin Order. However, without trying to detract in anyway from popular devotion to him (I love Padre Pio!), I hope people are aware that the sainted stigmatic was not the only great holy, miracle-working priest to come out of his illustrious Order. There were several other gifted Capuchin men who are equally worthy of our admiration and, this month, I feature the soon-to-be canonized Bl. Angelo of Acri. His life was filled with accounts of wonders that were quite similar to Padre Pio's charisms: Bilocation, Ecstasies, Healing Abilities, Prophecy, Reading of Hearts, and Visions. Bl. Angelo, on several occasions, was even reported to have suffered the terrible pains of Christ's wounds in his body and spirit, but in a manner that did not manifest in visible Stigmatic wounds.

As of this writing, Angelo of Acri is only still a Blessed, however his canonization is literally just around the corner so I'll be referring to him as "St. Angelo" going forward...

St. Angelo was born Luca (Luke) Antonio Falcone on October 19, 1669, to a humble peasant family in the town of Acri, Italy.  According to several biographies I consulted, his family was deeply pious (an uncle was a priest) and the child was raised by his parents in a worthy Christian manner.  Luca, himself, aspired to religious life and in his early youth he joined the Capuchins - twice - but each time, due to an overwhelming sense of fear and unworthiness, he returned home. He even considered marrying at one point but had a change of heart and decided to give religious life one more try.

St. Angelo had a great love for Christ
Crucified and often carried a crucifix.
During his third and final attempt to become a Franciscan in 1690 (I’m surprised the Capuchins readmitted him), he was again on the verge of leaving when he dropped to his knees before a crucifix and pleaded with Jesus for his divine help: “Lord, I cannot trust myself.  You know my weakness.  Help me with your grace!” It must have did the trick because Luca – now renamed Angelo - managed to complete his novitiate and professed vows as a Capuchin in November 1691; he was eventually ordained a priest on April 10, 1700.

In 1702, Padre Angelo’s superiors commissioned him to preach the Lenten mission in nearby Carigliano. The priest prepared himself by studying scriptures and rehearsing his sermon in the stylized form of speech that was popular in his day. When the time came to deliver his sermon, he mounted the pulpit to speak but mysteriously forgot the words he planned to say. The poor Padre was so flustered, he left the pulpit in humiliation and retreated to his cell where he again begged the Lord’s guidance. In reply, God's spoke to him with the following instruction, “Fear nothing, I will grant you the gift of preaching… In the future you will preach in a familiar and simple style so that all may understand your words.”

Padre Angelo understood the Lord's point and revamped his preaching style to better suit his general audience, which mainly consisted of simple folk from the small rural towns of southern Italy.  Rather than wracking his brain over-thinking his sermons, he trusted in the God's promise of help and prepared himself through diligent prayer before each speaking engagement. He would then preach on a level that the common people could easily grasp and, as a result, his efforts met with much success as he conducted missions from one town to another. Wherever Padre Angelo spoke he touched hearts and moved countless sinners through his inspired words; he was even nicknamed the "Angel of Peace" (a play on his name Angelo) and soon signs and miracles began manifesting around him.  This is where his mystical gifts make him more and more comparable to his famous spiritual brother, St. Padre Pio.

Accounts of the saintly preacher's ability to heal began circulating, as well as his uncanny ability to read hearts in the confessional and to correctly predict future events.  In addition, Padre Angelo was at times seen preaching at a certain venue while at the same instant witnessed to be somewhere else ministering to the sick and needy. And frequently during his Masses, he spontaneously fell into sublime ecstasies, which edified those in attendance.

Relics of St. Angelo's sandals and Franciscan cord-belt.
Lastly, during one particular incident, Padre Angelo was invited to Naples to speak where he was interrupted by a small group of people who loudly heckled his sermon. The Saint stopped his speech to publicly announce that someone in the congregation would soon meet his demise and that prayers were needed for the unfortunate soul. After the service ended and the crowd began to exit the church, a certain man - the main instigator of the noisy disruption - suddenly dropped dead to the terror of all present.  The people then realized that they had a true Saint in their midst and the good Padre's subsequent sermons in Naples were met with enthusiasm and serious reflection. 

In his final years of life, increasing illness forced Padre Angelo to retire to the Capuchin Monastery of Cosenza.  He eventually went blind six months prior to his death, but through a unique favor from God, he miraculously regained his eyesight each day for the amount of time needed to offer Mass and recite the Divine Office (incredible!). He died on October 30, 1739, at the ripe old age of 70, and after having served the Lord in religious life for 47 years!


The incorrupt body of St. Angelo, enshrined in the Basilica dedicated to him in Acri, Italy
(a wax mask covers the relic's face).

Pope Leo XII beatified Angelo of Acri on December 1825 after recognizing three miraculous cures attributed to his intercession. I am pleased to share that a fourth miracle was officially approved for his Cause this past March 2017, which paved the way for his upcoming Canonization on October 15th, 2017. The bodily remains of this Saint - reportedly incorrupt - is enshrined in the Basilica of Acri dedicated to his honor. May he intercede for our personal needs and the needs of the Universal Church, especially for all priests to be worthy servants of God and the Church!

A Reflection:
"... preach in a familiar and simple style so that all may understand your words.”  ~ Words of our Lord to St. Angelo of Acri

A Short Prayer:
Lord, as you did with your servant Angelo of Acri, grant our priests of today the gift to effectively preach in a manner that will touch souls and lead them to You.  Amen.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Monthly Messages from the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: September 2017



Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on September 25th:
   “Dear children! I am calling you to be generous in renunciation, fasting and prayer for all those who are in temptation, and are your brothers and sisters. In a special way I am imploring you to pray for priests and for all the consecrated, that they may love Jesus still more fervently; that the Holy Spirit may fill their hearts with joy; that they may witness Heaven and Heavenly mysteries. Many souls are in sin, because there are not those who sacrifice themselves and pray for their conversion. I am with you and am praying that your hearts may be filled with joy.  Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on September 2nd:
   “Dear children, who could speak to you about the love and the pain of my Son better than I? I lived with Him; I suffered with Him. Living the earthly life I felt pain because I was a mother. My Son loved the thoughts and the works of the Heavenly Father, the true God. And, as He said to me, He came to redeem you. I hid my pain through love, but you, my children, you have numerous questions. You do not comprehend pain. You do not comprehend that through the love of God you need to accept pain and endure it. Every human being will experience it to a lesser or greater measure. But with peace in the soul and in a state of grace, hope exists; this is my Son, God, born of God. His words are the seed of eternal life. Sown in good souls they bring numerous fruits. My Son bore the pain because He took your sins upon Himself. Therefore, you, my children, apostles of my love, you who suffer, know that your pain will become light and glory. My children, while you are enduring pain, while you are suffering, Heaven enters in you and you give a piece of Heaven and much hope to all those around you.  Thank you.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

In one month... the Saints for Life: Damien & Marianne Catholic Conference!


Dear Fellow Catholics,

Mark your calendars for the weekend of October 20th - 22nd. The Saints for Life: Damien & Marianne Catholic Conference will be coming to the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. 


This lay-ministry is humbled and privileged to have been included in the line-up of inspirational speakers - giving voice to more than a dozen Saints, Blesseds, and other holy role models, via two breakout sessions on Saturday, 10/21.  Sacred Relics of both St. Damien and St. Marianne of Molokai will be present at the event along with my scheduled talk's featured Saints/Blesseds (including St. Padre Pio, St. Peregrine Laziosi [cancer patron], and St. Therese Martin [the Little Flower]).  Register today!

And please kindly pray for the conference organizers; the speakers  (including me - Peter); and the people who will be attending this blessed event.  May the Holy Spirit's power be unleashed for the glory of God and the good of all souls!

Click on the flyer pictured above for more information or to register.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 9/2/2017


An accurate portrait of St. Teresa 
Margaret of the Sacred Heart, painted 
soon after her death in 1770.
GOD IS LOVE.  This one phrase from 1 John 4:16 became our main focus for today's First Saturday Rosary, thanks to the Saint we venerated this evening. She - St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart - heard that phrase during a sermon and it affected her soul in a mysterious, powerful way. I can only speculate that the Saint had surrendered herself completely to the sublime implications of those words... and, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, it brought her to an instantaneous and overwhelming personal realization of God's unconditional love for her; lighting her soul ablaze with the fire of Divine Love!  In turn, the resulting joy and fulfillment it brought her motivated the nun to respond by sharing the same Love with others, through the active expression of it to all who she came into contact with.

Being a cloistered Discalced Carmelite, St. Teresa Margaret could only express herself - the Divine Love burning inside her - within the walls of Carmel... but, still, she did it magnificently and it eventually led to Sainthood for her. So prior to beginning the Rosary Prayer, I asked the prayer participants to reflect on the very same scripture passage - God is Love - and to challenge themselves as to how they, too, like our Saint of the Month, can positively respond to God's Love operating in their own lives.

As for our Rosary, it was simply beautiful... yet again. I used our prayer time as an opportunity to put into practice the challenge I made to the others, and did my best to open my heart to any inspirations of Divine Love, as reflected in the Glorious Mysteries we contemplated... and I wasn't disappointed.  I felt the comforting "presence" of Jesus and Mary in the Day Chapel as we prayed.

And not surprisingly, after the prayer was finished, several people took the opportunity to approach the display altar to venerate the sacred relics of Our Lady's veil and hair from St. Teresa Margaret.  The inspirational faith-message of the young Carmelite had made an impression - God is Love!

   
This month's display altar... with parishioners venerating the statue & relics after our prayer.

Pertaining to the hair relic, it's a fairly sizable amount that I have in my ministry's custody, not just a few strands of hair in the theca. One would think that it was recently cut from a living person, being that the bundle of hair still appears vibrantly blond despite the passage of nearly 250 years. It's amazing... and each time I venerate this relic, it never fails - I can always picture in my mind how lovely the Saint must have been in life with her long locks of hair cascading down and around her pretty face.

For anyone interested in participating in our monthly prayer meeting at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua... the next First Saturday Rosary for Peace will be offered on October 7th, beginning at 4:25pm.  All are welcome!
   

Friday, September 1, 2017

Saint of the Month, September 2017: St. Rose of Viterbo


Saint Rose of Viterbo
The Little Rose of Viterbo ~ Feast: September 4

This Italian Saint died in the flower of her youth; she was just about 18 when she left this world for a better one.  Yet, what she accomplished within her brief lifetime is astonishing and go way beyond her years.

The chronological details of her life are uncertain but biographers state the year of Rose's birth, as circa 1233. At a very early age, it seems, God was already showing signs of her spiritual greatness - the little girl allegedly performed the first of her many miracles when she was only 3-years-old.  She raised a dead maternal aunt to life by laying hands on her and calling her by name.

Rose was also reported to possess an inclination to the practice of voluntary penances and mortification, and by age 7, lived a near-hermetical life within her home. She would only step out for church and to attend to the needs of the less fortunate. Things changed dramatically for her after she experienced heavenly visitations at age 10. She had been seriously ill for a time and experienced a series of visions of Our Lady who had come to cure her, and Christ Crucified who came to commission her. Rose was directed in these divine encounters to enter the Franciscan Third Order, as well as to preach penance to the people. The child did as she was told and, clothed in the rough sackcloth habit of the Franciscans, set about preaching in the streets with a crucifix in hand.  Stupendous wonders were said to accompany her impromptu sermons.

One great miracle often recounted about Rose occurred while she was speaking to a large assembly of curious onlookers and had stood upon a boulder in order to be seen and heard. At one point in her preaching, an unseen power lifted the boulder along with Rose into the air to the amazement of all who were present. The phenomena lasted the duration of the sermon and, needless to say, many, if not all, were moved to repentance at the sight of it.

   
Two great miracles associated with St. Rose of Viterbo - the miracles
of the levitated boulder and the trial by fire in Vitorchiano.

It's relevant to note that during Rose's life time, Viterbo had fallen under the rule of the excommunicated Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, who was involved in an ongoing dispute with the reigning Pope... and during her public missions Rose staunchly defended the Papacy and the Church. The news of her successful evangelizing efforts, along with her reported spiritual gifts, incurred the enmity of the Emperor's supporters who were in power. The Saint and her family were consequently exiled and took refuge in Soriano then Vitorchiano, where Rose continued her mission of leading sinners back to God.

In Vitorchiano, another public miracle occurred, which is often narrated in the life of St. Rose. There was apparently a sorceress in the city who was either revered by the population or highly feared. Either way, she had great influence over the people. Rose immediately discerned that in order to win over Vitorchiano, she had to defeat the sorceress first... so she challenged her to a trial by fire in order to prove whose power was truly greater - God's or the devil's. The little Saint caused a bonfire to be built and, after it was lit, proceeded to enter into the fire unharmed. She then turned to the sorceress and called for her to enter the fire, too, but the woman was filled with terror. Rose then preached from the center of the flames and easily converted the massive crowd of spectators, including the sorceress, herself.

Circa 1248, control of Viterbo was once again restored to the Papacy. Rose and her family were able to return home in peace, and the youthful prophetess attempted to enter the local convent of Poor Clares. She was refused for the lack of a dowry and perhaps because of her celebrity status as a wonder-worker. Rose accepted the nuns' rejection with resignation, but prophesied that they would come to accept her after her death. She then unsuccessfully tried to establish her own religious community before returning to her father's home to resume a routine of prayer, penance, and charitable work.

In early December 1250, Rose announced that the Emperor Frederick II would soon meet his demise. He died a few days later on December 13th, as predicted. Just a few months after, on March 6, 1251, Rose also unexpectedly passed from what we now know today was a congenital heart defect. Two years after her death, she appeared to Pope Alexander IV who was in Viterbo at the time, with a request that he arrange for the transfer her body to the Poor Clare convent.  It was during the exhumation Rose's body was found in a perfect state of preservation.  She was eventually canonized in 1457 and designated as the Patron Saint of Viterbo.

   
This drawing of St. Rose's lovely features was based on forensic studies conducted
on her miraculously incorrupt body, enshrined in Viterbo.

The incorrupt relic of St. Rose still rests in the loving custody of the Poor Clares, as was also prophesied by the Saint before her death. Blessings and favors of all sorts continue to be reported through the intercession of this extraordinary young woman, and the entire city of Viterbo turns out yearly in September to celebrate the life and legacy of their beloved Patroness.  St. Rose of Viterbo, pray for us!

A Reflection:
In these times of increasing animosity towards the Church and the teachings of Christ, which it upholds, the world is in need of new apostles.

A Short Prayer:
Lord, grant us the courage and zeal of St. Rose in defending your Divine Cause.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Saints & Holy Relics Speaking Presentation, 8/29/2017: Sacred Heart Church, Waianae


The Sacred Heart Church in Waianae (Oahu) once again welcomed my Guadalupe House Lay-Ministry and the hallowed pilgrim visit of various Saints and Blesseds. I was re-invited by the parish’s RCIA group to conduct another presentation about Saints and Relics for their faith community, particularly for a group of teens and adults preparing for their Sacraments of Initiation.  This was my third presentation at this church and despite being a weeknight, an unexpected heavy downpour, and even a flash flood warning, the turnout for the presentation was fantastic.

The Holy Relics of various Saints & Blesseds displayed during my ministry's
Saints & Relics Presentation at Sacred Heart Church, Waianae.

This time around the Saints/Blesseds I featured in my presentation and, whose sacred relics were present, were, as follows: St. Bernadette Soubirous (bone), St. Benedict Joseph Labre (bone), St. Joseph (cloak), Bl. Maria Repetto (bone), Our Lady (veil), Bl. Peter To Rot (leather belt), Bl. Rolando Rivi (hair), Ven. Solanus Casey (clothing) [soon to be beatified in November 2017], St. Teresa of Calcutta (clothing), St. Therese of Lisieux (bone) and her parents – Sts. Louis & Zelie Martin (bones).

As usual with my Saints & Relics Presentations, I emphasized to my audience members the diverse paths of holiness and/or corresponding charisms of each holy role model… and how ALL of us are more than capable of following in their footsteps to attain a degree of personal sanctity… and, eventually, our very own salvation.  I think the group got the message and the response appeared enthusiastic.

Waianae parishioners venerating the relics.
After the talk ended I was pleasantly surprised that most of the feedback I received was from the youth in attendance. Several teens approached me to express how much they enjoyed learning about the Sainthood Process… as well as the individual lives of the various Saints/Blesseds I spoke about. One girl seemed almost choked-up (in a good way) as she spoke to me, while another person - a young man still pending baptism – declared that he was eager to be baptized and become a Catholic!  I later saw them at the display altar viewing and praying before the relics I brought. It was evident the Saints/Blesseds had again succeeded in touching hearts for Jesus in Waianae… and they even left us with a tangible sign of their presence – Escarchas!

Fine shiny flakes of gold, red, and sky-blue appeared on a table, on and around my electronic equipment, which the RCIA members excitedly collected with clear tape.  I also saw Escarchas on the floor around the altar.  For me it was visible confirmation that the gate of Heaven had opened and members of the "Celestial Court” had come through to bless us in a special way this evening -  the icing on the cake for all of us... and we were grateful and awed.

... and I am also grateful to the RCIA family of the Sacred Heart Parish for their endearing warmth and generosity. May Our Lady and the Saints/Blesseds always guide and bless each of us for the good of our souls and the good of our Church… and above all - for the greater glory of God!  Amen.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Monthly Messages from the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: August 2017


"Dear Children!  Today I am calling you..."

Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on August 25th: 
   "Dear children! Today I am calling you to be people of prayer.  Pray until prayer becomes a joy for you and a meeting with the Most High.  He will transform your hearts and you will become people of love and peace.  Do not forget, little children, that Satan is strong and wants to draw you away from prayer.  You, do not forget that prayer is the secret key of meeting with God.  That is why I am with you to lead you.  Do not give up on prayer. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on August 2nd:
   "Dear children, according to the will of the Heavenly Father, as the mother of Him who loves you, I am here with you to help you to come to know Him and to follow Him.  My Son has left you His foot-prints to make it easier for you to follow Him.  Do not be afraid. Do not be uncertain, I am with you.  Do not permit yourselves to be discouraged because much prayer and sacrifice are necessary for those who do not pray, do not love and do not know my Son.  You help, by seeing your brothers in them.  Apostles of my love, hearken to my voice within you, feel my motherly love.  Therefore pray, pray by doing, pray by giving, pray with love, pray in work and thoughts, in the name of my Son.  All the more love that you give, so much more of it you will also receive.  Love which emanates from love illuminates the world.  Redemption is love, and love has no end.  When my Son comes to the earth anew, He will look for love in your hearts.  My children, many are the acts of love which He has done for you.  I am teaching you to see them, to comprehend them and to thank Him by loving Him and always anew forgiving your neighbors.  Because to love my Son means to forgive.  My Son is not loved if the neighbor cannot be forgiven, if there is not an effort to comprehend the neighbor, if he is judged.  My children, of what use is your prayer if you do not love and forgive?  Thank you."

Saturday, August 5, 2017

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 8/5/2017


Turn your lemons into lemonade through faith in God and prayerful cooperation with Divine Grace. This was the lesson I relayed to our participants at today's First Saturday Rosary for Peace. It was a message inspired by the life of the Saint of the Month I talked about - Bl. Maria Pilar Izquierdo Albero, an obscure Spanish Founder.

              
From Left to Right:  Bl. Maria Pilar Izquierdo Albero, today's display altar,
& a bone relic of the beatified Spanish foundress.

For readers not familiar with her, this Blessed's life reads as one seeming misfortune after another - early in her life she fell from a tram and broke her pelvis, which led to her being bedridden for 12 long years; along with the immobility came ulcers all over her body (bedsores?); complete blindness and partial deafness reportedly followed. The invalid was miraculously, and instantaneously, healed on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 1939, and set about founding a charitable group of nuns.  

All went well for two years until misunderstanding, slander, and discord set in among her community members, which forced the founder out of her own fledgling congregation. Things then went from bad to worse - Bl. Maria Pilar soon broke a leg in another accident, and was also diagnosed with stomach cancer! She died from the disease at only 39-years-old. As already mentioned, her life, it seemed, was one episode of bad luck after another... but it was the manner in which she consistently responded to these setbacks that made her an inspiration... and eventually raised her to the glory of the altar.

You see, rather than wallowing in misery and/or self-pity, or falling into despondency, as most people may easily have been prone to do, Bl. Maria Pilar instead heroically resigned herself to the Lord's will; accepting her physical and moral suffering, as a way of attaining closer union with Christ, and as a sacrifice for the success of her mission. In essence, she transformed her pain into active prayer, and by doing so, effectively turned her life's "lemons" into lemonade.

Various photos of some of the escarchas that
appeared on both my hands and wrists.
Incidentally, the Blessed's efforts did not go unrewarded from God - she was eventually favored with many extraordinary gifts: Bilocation; Ecstasies and Visions of Jesus, Mary, and Saints; Prophecy; and the Stigmata. And in the end, her life's work also experienced a revival, as a completely new congregation - the Missionary Work of Jesus and Mary - that was carried on by a small group of the Blessed's loyal nuns. The congregation still flourishes in Spain and other parts of the world.

So today's lesson from our saintly bio was highly encouraging, I feel, and relevant to just about everyone. We all have lemons that sometimes sour our personal lives; some people have more than others (many participants chuckled when I mentioned the fact)... but it's all the more opportunities to make sweet spiritual lemonade, if we can just follow Bl. Maria Pilar's lead!

On a side note, escarchas made a return appearance today. They were manifested as beautiful sky-blue, green, pink, and gold flakes, as we prayed our Rosary. I sensed the Holy Spirit's powerful presence in the chapel and I'd like to think the escarchas were symbolic of divine "sugar" being sprinkled from above to encourage us to start transforming our own sourness into sweet "heavenly lemonade".  God is good.

Our next First Saturday Rosary will be prayed on September 2nd, beginning at 4:25pm in the Day Chapel of St. Anthony of Padua Church, Kailua.  All are welcome to participate.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

It's true - GOD IS PRESENT EVERYWHERE!


"The Lord is near to all who call upon Him; to all who call upon Him in truth."

- Psalm 145:18

Our God is ever-good... ever-loving... omnipresent... even in the midst of rush hour traffic! If you're reading this, you probably already know it and agree with most of the statement, if not all of it. I believe it wholeheartedly... and I am blown away by how the Lord sometimes wills to reveal His presence to us through little surprises I like to describe as "spiritual serendipity".  Today I had another one of those delightful episodes.

To make a long story short, I was driving to work this morning and praying my Rosary at the same time. While stopped by a red light at a busy intersection and, as I contemplated the Rosary Mystery I was on, my glance wandered to a wall across the road. There, on the distant wall, formed by light and shadows, was a familiar image. Talk about coincidental and uncanny!  Right away I smiled in amusement and even managed to take a photo of it, which is shown below.

The photo I took of an uncanny image (circled)
that I spotted on a wall.

I later texted the photo to a devout Christian friend of mine and his immediate reply to me was perfect: "... God's presence is everywhere."

I won't elaborate on the rustic image I recognize, but will leave it to the viewer's personal discernment.  If one happens to see what I believe I saw then please allow me to address these words of benediction to you: May you always recognize the face and presence of Christ in the people you come across, each and every day... and in every circumstance of your life.  God bless you!

"You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."

- Jeremiah 29:13

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Saint of the Month, August 2017: Rose Prince


Rose Prince
A Heavenly Blossom of the Carrier Nation

[Adapted from several online sources]

It's more than plausible that there are many, many Saints in Heaven who are not known to us.  In life their holiness was hidden from our eyes and known only to God.  They drew no attention to themselves but lived quiet and humble lives of prayer and service to others.  Yet, sometimes, God in his mysterious wisdom reveals a glimpse of greatness that was in our midst unrecognized.  Such is the hidden life of Rose Prince of the Carrier Nation from Lejac in British Columbia, Canada.  Signs of her sanctity first came to dramatic light in 1951. 

During that year a decision was made to relocate several graves from near the Lejac Indian Residential School to a much larger cemetery nearby. During the transfer process the cemetery caretaker opened the coffins to examine the physical condition of the deceased when he was awestruck by what he found in the casket of a native woman named Rose Prince.  She had been buried two years earlier.

The worker was amazed to find both Rose's body and clothing perfectly preserved while all the other bodies were in different stages of disintegration, including those who had passed after Rose. The caretaker immediately notified the resident priest and nuns who had personally known the Carrier maiden in life, and they all noted the body to be in perfect condition. She seemed to be only peacefully asleep and there was even a hint of a smile on her lips. It was widely hailed as a case of saintly "incorruptibility", as the sight of Rose lying in such a remarkable state reminded the witnesses of the deep piety she exhibited during life.  So who was this enigmatic woman?

Rose Prince was born in 1915 in a small house behind the convent at Fort St. James.  She was the third of nine children born to Jean-Marie and Agathe Prince. Both her parents were devout Catholics. Rose's father was descended from a line of chiefs who ruled the Carrier Nation that was centered around Stuart Lake.  Jean-Marie often translated for the priest during services and led the prayers and singing.  He also helped to look after the church building.

Another photo of Rose Prince
Rose's mother was raised by the Sisters of the Child Jesus in Williams Lake because her own mother died when she was very young. Along with her beautiful auburn hair, Agathe passed on to her daughter the quiet serenity that characterized her life.  She was known to be a gentle woman of strong faith. Jean-Marie and Agathe went to school together in Williams Lake where they fell in love, married, and returned to live in Fort St. James. Their children first attended the little school in Stuart Lake.  Then in 1922 the government built a larger school at Lejac where their children were then sent.

Sr. Bridie Dollard, who taught Rose, described her as "a hard worker and a brilliant student, kind, lovely, gentle and compassionate." Some of her fellow students remember her as a happy child. Her goodness and understanding drew her peers to her, one of whom recalled, "Sometimes I would feel resentment towards the Sisters or the other girls, or someone who said something to me, and then she would talk to me about it and say to pray for the person instead of feeling resentment.  She was full of advice like that." 

Although she came from a loving home, Rose's life was not easy.  She developed a curvature of the spine that resulted in a hump on one side of her back (one account I read blamed it on an incident during which a heavy bench was accidentally dropped on her causing a spinal injury).  The pain made it awkward for her to get around and very difficult to kneel.  Yet all those who gave testimony about Rose agree that never once was she heard to complain about her condition.

In 1931, while Rose was at school in Lejac, her mother died during an influenza outbreak.  Her death was extremely painful for the child.  Soon after she also lost her two younger sisters.  From that time on, although her brothers and sisters went home each summer, Rose chose to stay behind at the convent.

At this time Rose also began to develop a deep life of prayer and seemed to have an abiding sense of the love and presence of Jesus.  An indication of this comes from her cousin Celina John, who related, "Rose lived only for the glory of God. She didn't live for anything else. One time I was curious so I asked her why it is that she never goes home with her brothers and sisters. She kept silently going on with her work, then finally she looked up, she smiled and said, 'I've got my parents in here'. I didn't understand what she meant. I thought she meant the Sisters. Then I finally said, 'Who are they?' She answered, 'Our Blessed Mother and her Son, Jesus, they are my parents. I feel so close to them here, I just don't want to go out and I have no intention of going anywhere.' That is what she told me." 

After she graduated Rose asked to stay on at the school because she felt loved and respected there, and was accepted as part of the staff.  To a friend she confided that it was the best choice for her.  Here she could be herself, enjoy quiet and privacy, and practice her faith.  Her spiritual life continued to bloom and she had a particular devotion to the Eucharist.  In spite of the difficulty that her deformity caused her when kneeling, she spent hours at prayer in the chapel before our hidden Lord.

Rose's current grave in Lejac,
now the site of pilgrimages.
As an adult, religious practices were optional, yet Rose faithfully received Jesus at daily Mass.  She fulfilled many jobs at the school: secretarial work, mending, cleaning, embroidering and sewing.  Books were a favorite pastime and she often helped the younger children learn how to read.  No one ever heard a cross word from her and she did her tasks with great cheerfulness, often singing or humming while doing her chores. She was also a gifted artist who loved collecting and examining flowers before painting them in great detail on altar cloths and tabernacle veils.

Rose eventually contracted tuberculosis and by 1949 had grown so weak that she was confined to bed. She was admitted to the hospital on August 19th and quietly passed away that evening while Mass was being offered for her.  She was 34-years-old.

The Sisters prepared Rose's body for burial and were amazed that rigor mortis had not set in. Her body lay in an awkward position because of her spinal deformity so a pillow was placed under her head to position it better.  Dressed in white, one of the nuns remarked that Rose looked like an angel lying in her coffin, and this was how she was discovered on that fateful day two years later.

Soon after the discovery of Rose's incorrupt body, a spontaneous devotion sprung up around her grave, which has now become the site of an annual pilgrimage each Summer.  Cures have been reported with many being effected through the devotional use of the soil from her grave.

As of this writing, the Cause for Canonization for Rose Prince has yet to be officially opened in the Diocese of Prince George, British Colombia.  However, the parish priest of Fraser Lake has personally informed me that there are definite plans underway to do so; the annual pilgrimage grows larger each year, as graces continue to be reported. Let us pray for Rose's Cause to be speedily opened for the greater glory of Jesus Christ and His Church.


A Prayer to Invoke the Intercession of Rose Prince (for private use only)

   Heavenly Father, you shared so deeply with Rose Prince of the Carrier Nation, your gift of serenity and your love for creation; grant through her intercession that we may share your serenity and your peace of soul, and may we too rejoice in the beauty of creation that surrounds us on every side.  And finally, through her intercession we plead for this favor (mention your prayer intention here), which we ask with confidence. In your loving kindness, grant this through Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.