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.

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