Disclaimer

NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local parish, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church and our Holy Father. This "little work" is purely a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu. ~ Peter


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Holy Relic Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 2/25/2017


Our prayer group statues of the Holy
Family displayed in their new home.
Our Fatima Prayer Group underwent a big change this month - our host and prayer leader, Andrea, recently moved with her family to a townhouse - a much smaller home - in another part of Mililani, which meant our prayer meetings had to move, too. But our group was determined to continue with our monthly prayer, despite the downsizing of our meeting place... so we made due with the space we had in the home's living room and it was actually quite cozy! Some of us plopped down on the floor to do our rosary and our host was most thrilled to have their new place blessed with lots of prayer and positive energy.

And tonight, for our Saint of the Month, we honored a little-known French mystic and founder - Bl. Marie of Jesus Deluil-Martiny (read about her life here). After I relayed her bio to the group, several were deeply impressed by her heroic life despite being dismayed with her violent death at the hands of a fanatical anarchist; one person curiously asked, "What could she be the patron saint of?"

It then sort of dawned on me that Bl. Marie of Jesus could very well be a timely role model for all Christian "Prayer Warriors" who are prayerfully battling moral and spiritual evils, including anarchists who are increasing all over the world in this day and age; individuals totally given over to the diabolic, self-serving spirit of rebellion against anything having to do with the Lord, his Church, and his precepts.

Bl. Marie of Jesus Deluil-Martiny,
pray for those who rebel against God.
Bl. Marie of Jesus made it her life's mission to defend the Lord's honor and to make reparation for the insults directed towards Him by sinners, via prayerful Eucharistic Adoration and continued self-sacrifice in the spirit of Love. Her example could serve as inspiration for all of us to also pray more for these godless dissenters to experience the truth of the Holy Spirit, and break away from immoral ideologies that are misleading modern society.

I shared my opinion with our members and they seemed to take it to heart since tonight there were many vocal prayers offered for the conversion of rebellious souls, especially here in the USA.  May Bl. Marie of Jesus pray for us.

Of course, after all the prayers finished, our first ever potluck fellowship in the townhouse was celebrated. We made that work, too, despite the tiny kitchen... and all the dishes and desserts were delicious!

By the end of the evening, any concerns we had about having monthly gatherings in our new location were gone. It felt like home... and we're already looking forward to the March meeting.

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


Dear Children!

Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on February 25th:
   “Dear children! Today I am calling you to profoundly live your faith and to implore the Most High to strengthen it, so that winds and storms cannot break it. May the roots of your faith be prayer and hope in eternal life. Already now, little children, work on yourselves in this time of grace, wherein God is giving you the grace – through renunciation and the call to conversion – to be people of clear and persevering faith and hope.  Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on February 2nd:
   “Dear children, you who are striving to offer every day of your life to my Son, you who are trying to live with Him, you who are praying and sacrificing - you are hope in this peaceless world. You are rays of the light of my Son, a living gospel, and you are my beloved apostles of love. My Son is with you. He is with those who think of Him - those who pray. But in the same way, He is patiently waiting for those who do not know Him. Therefore, you, apostles of my love, pray with the heart and with your works show the love of my Son. This is the only hope for you, and this is also the only way to eternal life. I, as a mother, I am here with you. Your prayers directed to me are the most beautiful roses of love for me.  I cannot but be where I sense the scent of roses.  There is hope. Thank you.”

Saturday, February 4, 2017

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 2/4/2017


I was still on a spiritual "high" today after having been in the presence of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima during the past two evenings.  I experienced Our Lady's maternal love deeply during my visits with the statue and it was still with me as we prayed our First Saturday Rosary for Peace this evening. Perhaps it was the reason why I could sense the Blessed Mother in our Day Chapel, as well... and it felt satisfying knowing that this monthly devotion we established over 6 years ago, was in direct response to the requests she made in Fatima in 1917... and I'd like to think she is pleased that my parish was responding in this manner; that there are several dedicated participants who have blossomed in their personal devotion to our Blessed Mother and her Rosary.

For this particular prayer day I introduced the participants to St. Margaret of Cortona (d. 1297), whose Feast will be celebrated on February 22nd (read more about her here). This Saint's inspirational life was all about repentance and redemption, and it corresponds perfectly with the requests Mary made at Fatima - Convert and Pray... and Peace will surely follow. St. Margaret lived and exemplified the very same message in the 13th Century, long before Fatima happened... but it just goes to show how timeless the Message is; that God continues to call us, in every era, to make a "U Turn" if we ever find ourselves headed down the wrong road; that Our Lady's many apparitions/messages and the lives of the Saints can often serve as traffic signs to help us head back in the right direction, away from disaster.  We need to be attentive.

video
Video:  After the Rosary Prayer, I found the fabric
doily on which the Rosa Mystica statue stood, sprinkled
with silver escarchas - note the random sparkles.

So for anyone who's searching to head back on the right road, Our Lady's recommendations are always consistent - return to Jesus, who is present at every Mass... and pray from the heart, especially the Holy Rosary. Our parish's schedule of First Saturday Confession, Rosary, and Mass can be a start for anyone who wants to make a positive U Turn in their lives.  The next prayer is scheduled for 4:25PM on Saturday, March 4th.  All are welcome!

Fatima Centennial Tour for Peace: Oahu (Hawaii) Visit

"I come from Heaven..."


The miraculous International Pilgrim Statue of Fatima is back!  The hallowed image was here in Hawaii in November 2014 - just a little over two years ago - and it's returned, as part of the Fatima Centennial Tour for Peace that's currently making its way through all the 50 United States of America. The tour is part of special celebrations being observed by Marian devotees in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Fatima apparitions... and I again had the joy of twice seeing and venerating this special ambassador of Our Lady's message of Prayer, Conversion, and Peace; receiving a signal grace each time, through the generosity of Jesus and Mary...


+ Thursday, 2/2/2017: St. George Church, Waimanalo 

The Pilgrim Virgin Statue at
St. George Church, Waimanalo.
On its very first stop on the island of Oahu, the statue was venerated in my hometown of Waimanalo. I hadn't planned on attending this particular event but a friend of mine who was suffering from a painful ulcer in his eye asked me to accompany him so he could pray for healing. There was no way I could say "no" to a sick friend... plus I knew he wouldn't go alone... so off I drove from Honolulu to Waimanalo to pay my respect to our Blessed Mother of Fatima.

The moment we walked into the church, Mary's spiritual presence was tangible... and during the brief talk conducted by Patrick Sabat, the statue's current custodian, I sat glued to my seat; moved to tears by the "power" I felt emanating from the Pilgrim Virgin Statue. My friend also sensed Mary's presence and later used the same word to express the experience he had during our time in the church.

Before leaving St. George Church, we were both able to venerate the statue up close and snapped several photos near it and from afar. One particular photo I captured left me amazed and puzzled - I took it from about 30 feet away and, instead of showing the statue, a glowing silhouette of the Holy Virgin appears in place of it (see below)... but then again, I'm not that surprised. After all, due to its solid history of effecting signs, many devotees (including myself) have come to believe that the statue is truly a special instrument often used by Our Lady to make her presence known to the world. Now when I look at the photo, I can't help but recall to mind the description of the Virgin of Fatima provided by the visionary, Sr. Lucia: “A lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun, radiating a light more clear and intense than a crystal cup filled with sparkling water lit by burning sunlight.”  It's exactly what I see in the picture.

Left:  An unusual photo showing the Fatima statue (circled) replaced by a brilliant silhouette (the face of
the lady in the foreground was intentionally blurred).  Right:  Side-by-side comparison of the pilgrim statue
as it normally appears, versus a close-up of the silhouette of light.


Friday, 2/3/2017: Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Honolulu

On the morning following its Waimanalo evening visit, the Fatima pilgrim statue was transported to the Honolulu Cathedral Basilica for a 24-hour extended visit, beginning at 7:00AM.  It was also the First Friday of the month so, in addition to the statue being displayed for veneration, our Eucharistic Lord was also exposed on the main altar for public adoration.  Awesome!  

In the Honolulu Cathedral, where Our Lady's statue was displayed behind the main altar on
which her Divine Son took center stage during Eucharistic Adoration.

Later in the evening, Bishop Larry Silva celebrated Mass in the presence of the many pilgrims who came to pay their respect to the statue... and since it was the Feast Day of St. Blaise, Patron Saint of Throat Ailments, the traditional blessing of the throat was conducted during the Mass.  

Again, I felt the Blessed Mother present in the church and I'm sure others must have sensed it, too. It was that tangible. At times I felt almost completely overwhelmed by Mary's tremendous "aura" and had to grab hold of my coworkers to avoid being slain in the Holy Spirit. And if that wasn't grace enough, during Bishop Larry's homily I was surprised to discover escarchas appearing on my right hand - bright gold ones!  A sure indication for me that Heaven's gate had opened above us... and gold was fitting, I thought to myself, since we - the entire congregation - were in the presence of the majestic Queen of Heaven. So why not gold, the most precious of metals? I speculate that gold abundantly adorn the regal garments worn by Our Lady in Heaven. Perhaps, just perhaps... speckles of it had fallen in the church and on us pilgrims to affirm our devotion to her and the importance of the Fatima Message.

 
The International Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima displayed in the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady
of Peace... and one of the golden escarchas that appeared on my hand during the Mass. 

All in all, everything about the celebration at the Cathedral - the Eucharistic Adoration, the pilgrim statue, the Rosary, the statue coronation ceremony, the Mass, the Bishop's homily, the throat blessing, and the manifestation of escarchas - made for a highly memorable evening!  Thank you, Blessed Mother.

video
Video: Our Lady's statue is crowned in the Honolulu Cathedral.

The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima will be in Hawaii for a few more days; until Monday, 2/6, in case any locals reading this are interested.  For details about the pilgrim statue's overall USA tour schedule, visit the Fatima Centennial Tour website by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Saint of the Month - February 2017: St. Margaret of Cortona

Saint Margaret of Cortona
Another Mary Magdalen ~ Feast: February 22nd

It is recorded that our Lord once said to this great Saint, "I have set thee as an example to sinners, that in thee they may behold how my mercy awaits the sinner who is willing to repent; for as I have been merciful to thee, so will I be merciful to them."  Her life has since inspired many with the hope that one can turn away from a dead-end life of sin and find welcome and renewal in the merciful embrace of God.

The lovely face of St. Margaret,
modeled after her incorrupt body.
Born in the Italian town of Laviano in 1247, Margaret was said to have been a rare beauty. Her parents were lowly farmers and her mother, in particular, was pious, but was taken from this world when Margaret was only 7-years-old.  The father remarried two years later to a woman, who sadly, held no affection for her new step-daughter, leaving the girl starved for love and attention. As she matured, Margaret developed a rebellious streak and longed for an escape from the misery of her home life. The chance to flee came when she was 17-year-old.

One fateful day while working in the fields, a wealthy young nobleman came riding through Laviano with his entourage (Margaret never named him in her autobiography). Spotting the free-spirited Margaret among a group of laborers, he was immediately enamored by her appearance and arranged for her to be a servant in his villa near Montepulciano.  It didn't take long for the naive maiden to be swept off her feet by her dashing admirer and the notion of a better life that an illicit relationship with him entailed. She became his live-in mistress and bore him a son, and reveled like a peacock around the villa and the countryside, dressed in extravagant finery and jewels that were showered on her. 

Her shameless flaunting of her scandalous relationship made Margaret the talk of the town, but of course, not in a good way. Once when she was publicly confronted by a certain woman about her lifestyle, Margaret haughtily joked to her critic that she needn't worry - that she would die a saint and crowds would come as pilgrims to her shrine. Little did she know that her words would eventually prove to be true.

On his part, the nobleman accorded her with affection and gifts in the early years of their union. He repeatedly promised her marriage although he knew it was socially/politically impossible given Margaret's humble lineage... and eventually, it appeared that his passion for her began to cool, as his attention became taken up with business, sport, social obligations, and other distractions that took him away on extended trips. Poor Margaret was often lonely and once again found herself starved for love and attention. She also started questioning her mode of life, and was increasingly haunted by guilt resulting from the residual piety she inherited from her birth mother.

Margaret finding her murdered lover.
Then, one day, after nine years of living faithlessly, Margaret's lover announced that he was leaving on a hunting trip for several days. On the day he was expected back he never returned, instead, the man's favorite hound came bounding into the villa, barking and behaving in a strange manner. Margaret, curious yet troubled, followed the beckoning dog into the surrounding woods where she discovered her master's bloody and decomposing body buried in a shallow grave. He was obviously the victim of a brutal assassination.  

Shocked and horrified, Margaret took her lover's death as a sign of God's judgement and immediately resolved to reform herself, lest the same fate befell her. She renounced her former luxuries and, with her young son, returned to Laviano where she made a public confession of her sins at the parish church and begged forgiveness from her father. However, through the influence of her stepmother, the weak man rejected mother and child and sent them back into the streets. Homeless and with no money, Margaret was tempted to return to her former life, but in desperation she called out to God and heard a mysterious voice directing her to the Franciscans in Cortona... so with her son in tow, she again set out on foot to the neighboring city.

A typical representation of the Saint.
Once she arrived in Cortona, Margaret began looking for shelter for her and her little boy. Providentially, two pious women, moved with pity by their situation, welcomed them into their home. They introduced the penitent to the local Franciscan Priests who agreed to direct her and, wisely so, because Margaret in her deep remorse for her past sins, was prone to performing penances to the extreme - she fasted continually from meat, slept on the bare floor, wore rough clothing, and took to the scourge. Her confessors kept a tight reign on her spiritual progress and often had to intervene to curb her enthusiasm for self-mortification; they once expressly refused a request their penitent made to scar her own face so as to deter the men in Cortona who were physically attracted to her.

For the next 23 years Margaret lived in Cortona as a model of repentance and sanctity. Initially, the inhabitants treated her with suspicion but she eventually won them over with her sincerity and charitable works. After passing a 3-year period of testing, she was accepted into the Franciscan Third Order and opened a hospital for the sick-poor, where she ministered with a staff of other Franciscan Tertiaries. In addition, Margaret founded the city's Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy whose members were bound to spiritually and financially support the needs of the hospital to ensure it continuity.  As for her son, he grew to adulthood and eventually joined the Franciscan Order, himself.

As Margaret's virtues increased so did her relationship with Christ. He began appearing to her sometime after her conversion, and initially referred to the penitent as, "Poverella (Poor Little Girl)".  Later on, Jesus changed the term to "Daughter" and, in due time, He affectionately called her "Spouse"; an indication of the high degree of spiritual union Margaret had managed to achieve with Him. Furthermore, her biography is rich with the many mystical charisms God favored her with - visits from the Holy Virgin and angels; ecstasies and private revelations; levitation; prophecy; the reading of hearts; stigmata (she often wept bloody tears when meditating on the Passion of Christ); and the gift of healing and miracles (she once resurrected a dead boy through her fervent prayer). Thus, this woman who had effectively given up all desire for earthly gifts, instead received much, much more sublime gifts from the hands of her Divine Lover.

The incorrupt body of St. Margaret, as venerated in Cortona, Italy.

Margaret died on February 22, 1297, at the age of 50 and was deeply mourned by all of Cortona and the surrounding areas where her fame of holiness had spread during her lifetime. At the time of her death she had retired to live in the run-down church of St. Basil, which she had campaigned to be repaired by her townsmen for the greater glory of God. She was buried in the same church where her body was later discovered free of corruption and emitting a wonderful fragrance. St. Margaret's Canonization took place in May 1728, after which St. Basil's Church was enlarged and renamed in honor of the new Patron Saint of Cortona. Her precious relic remains enshrined within it, behind the main altar, enclosed in a glass-sided silver casket.

A Reflection:

"Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much." - Words of Our Lord (Luke 7:47)

A Short Prayer:
Lord, like St. Margaret of Cortona, grant us the grace of sincere repentance for our sins and confidence in your willingness to grant us Divine Mercy and pardon; may this Saint be our continued inspiration in our journey of spiritual healing and conversion.  Amen.