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 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


"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
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 the greatness that has been 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 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 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 some 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 native 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 incident during which a heavy bench was accidentally dropped on her back).  The pain made it awkward for her to get around and very difficult to kneel. Sr. Bridie remembers that "she was very self-conscious about it."  Yet all those who gave testimony about her 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 the 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. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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

Thank you for having responded to my call...

Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on July 25th:
   "Dear Children! Be prayer and a reflection of God's love for all those who are far from God and God's commandments.  Little children, be faithful and determined in conversion and work on yourselves so that, for you, holiness of life may be truth; and encourage each other in the good through prayer, so that your life on earth may be more pleasant.  Thank you for having responded to my call."

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on July 2nd:
   "Dear Children, thank you for continuing to respond to my invitations and for gathering here around me, your heavenly mother. I know that you are thinking of me with love and hope. I, too, feel love for all of you, just as my most beloved Son also feels it: He who, through his merciful love, is always sending me to you anew; He who was man; He who was and is God - one and triune; He who suffered in body and soul for your sake; He who made Himself bread to feed your souls and thus to save them. My children, I am teaching you how to be worthy of His love, to direct your thoughts to Him, to live my Son. Apostles of my love, I am covering you with my mantle, because as a mother I desire to protect you. I am imploring you to pray for the whole world. My heart is suffering. Sins are multiplying, they are too numerous. But with the help of those of you who are humble, modest, filled with love, hidden and holy, my heart will triumph. Love my Son above all and the whole world through Him. Never forget that each of your brothers, within himself, carries something precious – the soul. Therefore, my children, love all those who do not know my Son, so that through prayer and the love which comes through prayer, they may become better; that the goodness in them could win; that souls could be saved and have eternal life. My apostles, my children, my Son told you to love one another. May this be inscribed in your hearts and with prayer, try to live that love.  Thank you."

Announcing... the Damien and Marianne Catholic Conference

ATTENTION: All Fellow Catholics

Mark your calendars for this special conference coming up in October 2017 in Honolulu, Hawaii...

Saints for Life:
Damien and Marianne Catholic Conference

With its line-up of wonderful and diverse speakers, the many spiritual activities planned, and entertainment for the whole family... this conference will surely be a memorable, Holy Spirit-filled event!  So save on the admission fee by registering early.  For more information, click on the flyer below.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 7/1/2017

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man
lay down his life for his friends."

~ Words of Jesus, John 15:13

The Blessed Carmelite Martyrs of Guadalajara, Spain (L to R): Sr. Teresa
of the Child Jesus, Sr. Maria Pilar, and Sr. Maria Angeles.

The short scripture passage cited above is perfect for describing the three brave women we honored at today's First Saturday Rosary. They died as innocent victims of the anticlericalism that was rampant during the "Red Terror" at the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936; mercilessly shot dead only days after each of them [separately] offered their lives to God, as sacrifices to end the civil war and the violence against the clergy, religious, and steadfast Catholics. It was a collective self-oblation that had its roots in the greatest of virtues - LOVE - and God heard and accepted. (Also read about the Blessed Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne here).

So today, inspired by the example of these holy women, I reminded the group gathered in the Day Chapel about the value of offering personal sacrifices - the act of selflessly giving of oneself.  In today's society the word 'sacrifice' has become almost alien, it seems, as people generally seek more and more self-gratification rather than giving something up in favor of the next person.  But the spiritual practice of offering sacrifice is still relevant and can be a great boost to our prayer life.

"And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us
as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

~ Ephesians 5:2

Of course, not everyone is called to offer the ultimate sacrifice like how the Blessed Carmelite Martyrs did... but all of us are capable of giving a measure of our personal Time (e.g. lending a compassionate ear to someone in distress), Talent (e.g. baking for the parish bake sale), and Treasure (e.g. donating money to a charitable cause). Consciously offered with faith and a loving heart, an oblation - no matter how small - never fails to imbue our prayer with power!  Try it the next time you pray for a special intention - remarkable results often follow.  This was our inspiration and faith-lesson this month from the lives of our Saints of the Month and it was a beautiful message.

"Once again I have been able to obtain mercy, and Jesus has sent me, therefore, again
to Montichiari to bring you the grace of His Love.  It requires Prayer, Sacrifice, and Penance
in order to save mankind..."

~ Words of the Mary, the Rosa Mystica, in Montichiari, Italy (May, 1966)

... and my Rosa Mystica pilgrim statue was back in the church today after an absence of three months... and it looked radiant!  I hadn't been able to bring this particular statue because of some recent back issues I've been having (the statue is heavy), but today I felt like I had to bring it for some reason.  From almost the start of the Rosary Prayer, its face noticeably changed and it appeared 'transfigured', as I refer to the unusual transformation it often undergoes; bright and beautiful, dewy features (the above-photo does not do it justice).  I felt the special presence of the Blessed Mother with us through the statue and I think a few others did, too.  I was so grateful.

The next First Saturday Rosary for Peace will be offered on Saturday, August 4th, beginning at 4:25pm in the Day Chapel of our Kailua parish church of St. Anthony of Padua.  Come... and allow Our Lady and the Saints to touch your spirit.  All are welcomed!

Saints of the Month, July 2017: The Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne

The Blessed Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne
A Song of Triumph at the Scaffold ~ July 17th

At the height of the French Revolution in the late 18th Century, during the infamous Reign of Terror, the National Assembly (the governing party that deposed the monarchy) adopted the spirit of anti-clericalism. The revolutionaries aggressively campaigned to wipe out Christianity throughout France by confiscating Church property, and suppressing convents and monasteries. Furthermore, they proclaimed the “abolition” of the Sunday Obligation and the various feasts of the Catholic Church, as well as, the validity of monastic vows.

In 1790, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy was enacted, which required priests to pronounce an oath of loyalty to the government that was in direct conflict with any loyalties directed towards the Pope and the Catholic Church. Those who refused to comply with this law were either exiled, imprisoned, or executed as traitors.

It was in this climate of open hostility towards any faith-expression that 16 heroic, consecrated women bravely met their end… for simply refusing to betray Jesus, their Divine Spouse.  Their names were, as follows:

   +  Mo. Therese of St. Augustine, Prioress (age 41)
   +  Mo. St. Louis, Sub-Prioress (age 42)
   +  Mo. Henriette of Jesus, Novice Mistress (age 49)
   +  Sr. Marie of Jesus Crucified, Choir Sister (age 78)
   +  Sr. Charlotte of the Resurrection, Choir Sister (age 78)
   +  Sr. Euphrasia of the Immaculate Conception, Choir Sister (age 58)
   +  Sr. Therese of the Heart of Mary, Choir Sister (age 52)
   +  Sr. Julie Louise of Jesus, Choir Sister (age 54)
   +  Sr. Therese of St. Ignatius, Choir Sister (age 51)
   +  Sr. Marie-Henrietta of Providence, Choir Sister (age 34)

   +  Sr. St. Martha, Lay Sister (age 52)
   +  Sr. Marie of the Holy Spirit, Lay Sister (age 51)
   +  Sr. St. Francis Xavier, Lay Sister (age 30)

   +  Sr. Constance, Novice (age 29)

   +  Catherine Soiron, Extern (age 52)
   +  Thérèse Soiron, Extern (age 46)

In August 1790, officials of the National Assembly raided the Discalced Carmelite Monastery of Compiegne with the intent of coercing its occupants into submitting to their anti-clerical agenda. The community was comprised of 10 nuns, 1 novice, 3 lay sisters, and 2 externs (vowed laywomen who acted as helpers to the nuns). All were bribed with promises of freedom and money if they would only renounce consecrated life – not one accepted, but rather, the Prioress, Mo. Therese of St. Augustine, was inspired to lead her community in a “vow of martyrdom”, offering themselves collectively as a sacrifice to God to obtain the end of the tide of violence that engulfed France and the local Church.  They repeated their offering daily.

On September 14th, the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross, the nuns found themselves out in the street after their monastery was closed and looted. They were forced to remove their habits, the wearing of which was outlawed, and donned cast off civilian wear since they had no money to buy clothing. But despite their uncertain predicament, the sisters continued to practice their strict routine of devotion and prayer while sheltering in small groups within the homes of sympathetic neighbors. 

In June 1794, government officials again appeared in Compiegne and, upon finding a portrait of King Louis XVI and a prayer for the king to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in one of the improvised convents, the Carmelites were all taken into custody. The religious were then jailed in the town of Cambrai where they were imprisoned along with a community of 17 Benedictine Nuns that had originated from England during the religious persecution launched by King Henry VIII. These Benedictines were witnesses to the daily self-offering heroically made by the Carmelites to the Lord.

On July 11th, both groups of religious were transported to Paris where they were to be “tried” for treason. It wasn’t a surprise that, on July 17, 1794, amidst the mockery of a hostile crowd, the 16 Carmelites were accused of various absurd charges that included the hiding of weapons in their monastery. To this the Prioress responded by lifting a crucifix and saying, "This is the only weapon we have had in our house." 

Pilgrims praying at the mass grave where the remains of the Carmelite Martyrs were interred along
with other victims of the Reign of Terror.  The grave is located in the Picpus Cemetery in Paris, France.

Needless to  say, the Sisters were all found guilty and sentenced to be guillotined on the very same day as their trial. Providentially, on the day before they were summoned to Paris, the nuns had washed their secular clothing so they had to appear at trial garbed in the habits they were prohibited from wearing. Thus, they were poised to meet their Divine Spouse appropriately - dressed as true brides of Christ! So as the nuns were led to the scaffold, they jointly renewed their vows and sang the Veni Creator Spiritus.

Mo. Therese of St. Augustine then stepped forward and requested to be the last to die so she could prayerfully encourage her spiritual daughters. The novice, Sr. Constance, was the first to advance and before ascending the scaffold, she knelt before Mo. Therese to kiss a ceramic figure of the Madonna and Child that the prioress held in her hand. Sr. Constance then asked of her the permission to die to which the prioress responded, "Go, my daughter." The novice then made her way up the scaffold, singing, and with solemn dignity befitting a spouse of the King of Heaven and Earth.

One by one, each sister repeated Sr. Constance's final act of obedience before ascending the platform as the others sang hymns; their countenances were suffused with joy and peace. Even before the last nun died - the prioress - it was reported that the unruly jeering had ceased and a hush had fallen upon the crowd.

Incidentally, the Reign of Terror ended just 10 days after the execution of the Carmelites of Compiegne. The English Benedictines, who had shared imprisonment with the Martyrs, survived the massacre and eventually returned to their own country. They attributed their survival and the unexpected end of the revolution to the heroic offering made by their Sisters in Christ. Upon their release from prison, the Benedictines were wearing the civilian dresses left behind by the Carmelites and they treasured them as relics from henceforth.

A plastic devotional leaflet enclosing moss taken from the grave
of the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne.

As far as other relics go, unfortunately no bodily relics of the 16 Carmelite Martyrs are available for the veneration of the Faithful, as their remains were thrown into a mass grave along with other executed victims. However, their legacy of courage and faith endures… and is still relevant today, especially as the spirit of anti-clericalism is again rearing its ugly head in our very own times. The 16 Martyrs of Compiegne were Beatified as a group on May 13, 1906, by Pope Pius X.  May they pray for us Christians, and for the whole world.

A Reflection
"Give over our hearts to joy, the day of glory has arrived..."  ~ Words of a hymn composed by the Carmelites of Compiegne in preparation of their deaths. 

A Short Prayer
Lord, in the midst of the growing persecution of Christians, grant us the faith, courage, and joy of the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne.  Amen.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

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

Medjugorje, June 2017 ~ 36 years of grace!

Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on June 25th:
   "Dear children! Today, I desire to thank you for your perseverance and call you to open yourselves to profound prayer. Prayer, little children, is the heart of faith and is hope in eternal life. Therefore, pray with the heart until your heart sings with thanksgiving to God the Creator who gave you life. I am with you, little children, and carry to you my motherly blessing of peace.  Thank you for having responded to my call."

Our Lady's Message to Ivanka Ivankovic-Elez during her annual apparition on June 25th:
   "Little children, pray, pray, pray."

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on June 2nd:
   "Dear children, as in the other places where I have come to you, also here I am calling you to prayer. Pray for those who do not know my Son, for those who have not come to know the love of God, against sin, for the consecrated - for those whom my Son called to have love and the spirit of strength for you, for the Church. Pray to my Son, and the love which you experience from His nearness will give you the strength to make you ready for the works of love, which you will do in His name. My children, be ready. This time is a turning point. That is why I am calling you anew to faith and hope. I am showing you the way by which you need to go, and those are the words of the Gospel. Apostles of my love, the world is in such need of your arms raised towards Heaven, towards my Son, towards the Heavenly Father. Much humility and purity of heart are needed. Have trust in my Son and know that you can always be better. My motherly heart desires for you, apostles of my love, to be little lights of the world, to illuminate there where darkness wants to begin to reign, to show the true way by your prayer and love, to save souls.  I am with you.  Thank you."

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Feast Day Celebrations: St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua, 6/13/2017

Happy Feast Day, St. Anthony of Padua! And congratulations to all fellow-devotees of this most wondrous of Saints (learn more about him by clicking here).

St. Anthony of Padua,
our beloved Patron,
pray for us!
Tonight, our parish of St. Anthony of Padua Church celebrated the feast of our illustrious patron in the usual awesome manner - first with a meaningful Mass and a relic-veneration service... followed by a big potluck party, as only our Kailua residents can do it - with lots and lots of diverse ethnic food, and family-friendly fun and entertainment!

I can't express enough how much I enjoy this particular annual parish celebration because it's almost like going to a Baby Luau or a wedding. I run into friends I haven't seen in a while and we all get the chance to catch up and re-bond... and even make new friends.  So not only do we get blessed in the spiritual sense, but we also get blessed in the social sense through the fellowship and joy that's shared within our faith community; a feeling of belonging or, as we locals like to call it - "Ohana"... and tonight's Feast Day celebration was no different.  It was just a great night and a fitting way to honor our Saint, who we are so proud of. Again, congratulations, St. Anthony... hope you enjoyed our celebration for you!


Above-Left:  Our priest, Fr. Exse, prays a healing blessing over the congregation, as our parish's 1st Class [bone] Relic of St. Anthony is displayed on the altar.  Above-Right:  Immediately after, people lined up to kiss and venerate the relic of our Patron Saint (click on each photo to view larger images).


Above Video:  This is how my island parish celebrates a Feast Day... with
beautiful Hawaiian music and impromptu hula dancers.  Beautiful!

Below Video:  And because we have three priests, all from the Philippines,
they couldn't let the night pass without representing the Filipino culture,
as well, with their own traditional dance.


... until next year's celebration, St. Anthony of Padua, pray and watch over us!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 6/3/2017

St. Juliana Falconieri,
the Handmaid of the Eucharist
It was nice to see this month's First Saturday Rosary event exceptionally well-attended... and there were many new people who came, which is always a welcomed sight! I always feel the more people praying, the better... and I particularly enjoy seeing what the "newbies" look like when they first arrive, compared to their appearance when they leave the chapel after. Most look relieved; lighter and brighter.  I'm not making it up.

So before beginning our Rosary for Peace, I first introduced our June Saint (and accompanying relic) - St. Juliana Falconieri - to our parishioners. I shared that, in a nutshell, Juliana is best remembered for the Eucharistic Miracle that happened at the very end of her life. Unable to receive Viaticum because of constant vomiting, the Host was instead laid on a corporal that was spread over her chest. St. Juliana died peacefully soon after but the Eucharist went missing... only to be found mysteriously "imprinted" onto the skin over her heart! It was then evident that Christ had satisfied the Saint's desire for Holy Communion at a time when she really needed His comforting presence; just in manner that was unconventional and obviously miraculous.

So what was the moral of the story? A. Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist... and B. He'll always pull through when we need Him the most; we just have to have faith. That was the dual-message I wanted to illustrate through the life of St. Juliana Falconieri and I think the parishioners were encouraged by it.

After the Rosary Prayer ended several people went up to the display altar to view and venerate my Fatima pilgrim statue and the 1st Class (bone) Relic from St. Juliana that I had brought to the meeting. As I might have mentioned in a previous posting, I can always gauge how much a Saint or Blessed's life had impressed the attendants by the number of people who stay to venerate a relic before leaving to attend the Mass next door. More people than usual lined up to view St. Juliana's relic; say a short prayer; take pictures; etc...

Our Lady and the Saints have a way of touching people's hearts before,
during, and after our monthly First Saturday Rosary.

Our next First Saturday Rosary for Peace will be offered on Saturday, July 1st, beginning at 4:25pm in the Day Chapel of St. Anthony of Padua Church, Kailua. I actually ran into one of the newbies after and she testified that she had never experienced the Rosary like how she did at today's meeting. She felt that special aura of peace that fills the chapel during our prayer and she'll be coming back next month - Praise the Lord! Come and experience the same peace.  All are welcome!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Saint of the Month, June 2017 - Blessed Joseph-Marie Cassant

Blessed Joseph-Marie Cassant
Priestly Victim Soul for the Church ~ June 17th

"All for Jesus; all through Mary." That was Bl. Joseph-Marie's personal motto, and the holy manner in which he lived his brief life was proof that he meant every word of it.

Born Pierre-Joseph Cassant on March 6, 1878, at Casseneuil, Lot-et-Garonne, France, he was the younger of two boys born to orchard-keepers. As is mostly the case in the lives of our Saints and Blesseds, his family appears to have been pious and sent him to board with the La Salle [Teaching] Brothers where he was further exposed to an excellent Christian education. However, biographers relate that the child's ability to retain information was poor and he struggled with his studies. Nonetheless, the seeds of a religious vocation were sown during his stay with the Brothers and they began taking root in the student's heart.

At 14, Pierre-Joseph came to the realization that he wanted to become a priest, but his learning disability prevented his acceptance into a seminary. He turned to his parish priest, Father Filhol, for guidance who advised him to enter the Trappist Order, given the boy was inclined to silence and contemplative prayer. The teenager, agreeing with the discernment of the priest, applied for admission with the Trappist Abbey of Saint Mary of the Desert in Toulouse. There, after a period of testing, Pierre-Joseph was accepted as a novice on December 5, 1894.  He was only 16-years-old and took the name Bro. Joseph-Marie.

Another photo of Bl. Joseph-Marie,
Trappist priest of Toulouse, France.
The Master of Novices in the abbey, a Fr. Andre Mallet, immediately recognized the latent sanctity present in the ever-smiling novice and said to him, "Only trust and I will help you to love Jesus!" His words gained the boy's confidence, who gave himself wholeheartedly over to Fr. Andre's discipline and tutorship.

Despite being well-liked by his spiritual brethren for his amiable and docile nature, Bro. Joseph-Marie's early years as a religious were not without challenges. His poor learning skills often resulted in misunderstandings and humiliations from his teachers, and was a personal trial for him. But through the formation he received from his mentor, Fr. Andre, his love for Christ blossomed through frequent meditation on the Passion and the Cross. He surrendered everything that he was to the Lord - his strengths and his weaknesses - and simply trusted that God would provide whatever he was lacking. He was also noted for his strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin - hence, his name in religion and his personal motto: "All for Jesus; all through Mary." Bro. Joseph-Marie professed final vows as a member of the Trappists on May 24, 1900, on the Feast of the Ascension.

After his profession, his studies began for the priesthood, which was also marked with difficulties, but Bro. Joseph-Marie persevered and was ordained on October 12, 1902. Sadly, shortly after the ordination, he was diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis. The young priest suspected he was ill, but had never complained of the increasing pain the disease entailed. Instead, he bore everything with patience and his habitual silence. His superiors sent him home for seven weeks in the hopes of some sort of recovery, but he returned to the abbey in a much worse state, spending most of his time in the infirmary.

As months passed and his suffering intensified, Fr. Joseph-Marie's union with Jesus deepened. He bravely accepted his terminal condition and offered himself as a sacrifice to the Sacred Heart on behalf of the Church. Furthermore, the dying priest had registered his name with the Association of Victim Souls, which was inspired by the writings of the mystic-nun, Bl. Marie Deluil-Martiny. In his oblation, and through the grace of the Mass, Fr. Joseph-Marie found profound strength, solace, and purpose before passing to his eternal reward on the morning of June 17, 1903. He was only 25-years-old at the time of his death.

Fr. Joseph-Marie's reputation for holiness only continued to grow after his death, and his Cause for Canonization was opened in Toulouse in 1935. After the Church recognized the miraculous healing of a child with meningitis though his intercession, Joseph-Marie Cassant was declared a Blessed on October 3, 2004. May God grant the Church the gift of his speedy Canonization.

A Reflection:
"The best thing I can hope for is that you ever abide as one in the Heart of Jesus." ~ Words from a letter written by Bl. Joseph-Marie to his parents.

A Short Prayer:
Dear Bl. Joseph-Marie, help us in our every day moments to live fortified by the comforting knowledge that we are loved and affirmed by Sacred Heart of Jesus.  May we dwell in the heart of Christ always.  Amen.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Holy Relic Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 5/27/2017

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."

~ 1 Thessalonians, 5-11

Sacred Relics of the three Fatima
Seers & Bl. Alexandrina Maria Da
Costa grace the display altar.
Happy, Blessed Birthday to Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group in Mililani!  Our meeting tonight marked a special milestone for us - the 5th Anniversary of our monthly rosary group.  Started back in May 2012 by my coworker and friend, Dre, we're still going strong, through the grace and goodness of our Lord and Blessed Mother.  So what a meaningful prayer night we had this evening...

Most of our core group was present and we reminisced over some of the blessings and special favors we've shared and witnessed as a "prayer family"... as well as some of the personal challenges that we helped each other to overcome.  It's amazing how five years passed so quickly.  It seems like it was just a year ago that we started coming together as a group in response to Our Lady of Fatima's 1917 request to pray the Holy Rosary for peace and for the conversion of sinners.

And speaking of Fatima, another reason for us to celebrate was because of the canonization of the two child-seers of these epic Marian apparitions - St. Francisco and St. Jacinta Marto. Being that Our Lady of Fatima is the patroness/namesake of our prayer group, her three visionaries have a special place in our hearts, along with Bl. Alexandrina Maria da Costa, the "fourth seer of Fatima".  We've been diligently praying a special prayer for their speedy canonizations - two down, two more to go (Sr. Lucia and Bl. Alexandrina have yet to be officially recognized as Saints).

So our meeting was accompanied by frequent goosebumps as we recited our usual line-up of prayers. There was definitely an extra-special presence of the divine in the room with us - a very real energy - and several commented about their "chicken skin" moments... perhaps it was due to the significance of the anniversary... or maybe because we had relics present from all three Fatima seers and Bl. Alexandrina Maria.  I personally felt that they were there, too -  praying for us and with us.

All in all, we couldn't have asked for a better anniversary celebration.  The company was great... the prayers were meaningful... the vibe from the Holy Spirit was awesome... and the potluck that followed was delicious!  God be willing, we look forward to celebrating the 6th Anniversary next May with continued gratitude for our loving spiritual ohana and for the blessings we'll receive until then.  Thank you Jesus and Blessed Mother Mary!

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

~ Words of Jesus, Matthew 18:20

Thursday, May 25, 2017

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

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on May 25th:
  "Dear children! The Most High has permitted me to call you anew to conversion. Little children, open your hearts to the grace to which you are all called. Be witnesses of peace and love in this peaceless world. Your life here on earth is passing. Pray that through prayer you may yearn for Heaven and the things of Heaven and your hearts will see everything differently. You are not alone; I am with you and intercede before my Son Jesus for you.  Thank you for having responded to my call."

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on May 2nd:
  "Dear children, I am calling you to pray, not to ask for but to offer sacrifice - sacrificing yourselves. I am calling you to reveal the truth and merciful love. I am praying to my Son for you, for your faith which is all the more diminishing in your hearts. I am imploring Him to help you with the divine spirit, as I also desire to help you with my motherly spirit. My children, you must be better. Only those who are pure, humble and filled with love sustain the world - they are saving themselves and the world. My children, my Son is the heart of the world. He should be loved and prayed to, and not always betrayed anew. Therefore, you, apostles of my love, spread the faith in the hearts of people by your example, your prayer and merciful love. I am beside you, I will help you. Pray for your shepherds to have all the more light, so as to be able to illuminate all those who live in darkness. Thank you."