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

~ Peter, Ministry & Blog Administrator

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Why, St. Michael?

My admiration for St. Michael the Archangel has grown significantly since the start of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic last year.  Besides taking the necessary health precautions recommended by the CDC - quarantining, mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing, social distancing, etc. - I also take "spiritual precautions", which includes carrying a theca (round reliquary case) containing small stones from St. Michael's Cave/Grotto on Mt. Gargano in Italy.  Since doing so, I've experienced manifestations of the Archangel's presence, which I sense have broader implications than for just me, alone - one was a remarkable dream last November that I interpreted to be a warning of some sort... while the other involved the cave stones.

The interior of the Sacred Grotto of St. Michael 
the Archangel atop Mt. Gargano, Italy.

For those not familiar with the history of this singular grotto, it's the hallowed site of a series of Church-approved apparitions of St. Michael beginning in 490 AD.  At the very first appearance, the Archangel showed himself to the local Bishop and claimed possession of the cave with these words:

"I am the Archangel Michael and I am always
in the presence of God.  The cave is sacred to me.
I have chosen it."

When the bubonic plague ravaged the region in 1656, the people had recourse to the great Archangel while doing public penance.  In response, St. Michael returned and directed the current bishop to distribute stones taken from within his cave, marked with crosses and the initials "M.A." (for "Michael Archangel").  St. Michael added:

"I am the Archangel St. Michael.  Anyone who uses
the stones of this grotto will be liberated…"

Needless to say, the prelate followed the Archangel's instructions and the plague soon ceased in the towns around Mt. Gargano.  This miraculous intervention started the tradition of the shrine distributing "St. Michael relic stones", which is still continued today by the Congregation of the Michaelite Fathers who are the present custodians of the holy cave.

Since late 2018 I've obtained several grotto stones, encased in gold-colored metal thecas by the Mt. Gargano Shrine.  I gifted them to loved ones and priest-friends, and kept two for myself; placing one on a home shrine and the other is what I carry with me for physical and spiritual protection whenever I leave my house (a big comfort in this time of pandemic).  It's the stones on the altar that recently manifested unusual phenomenon.

As already mentioned, the St. Michael stones are in golden thecas.  Well, imagine my surprise when I went to pray at my altar and found the theca had turned from gold to silver!  This happened in late September 2020 and I know for sure the theca was gold when I first received it... and it looked the same the last time I saw it just a day or two before.  I did not do anything to change the theca and I was completely perplexed, and I still am... especially because it was followed not long after by that impressive dream of the Archangel; the two events seem closely related.

The theca on the left mysteriously changed from a
golden color to silver, as compared to the theca on the
right, which is what it originally looked like.

Since this occurred, I've often prayed to St. Michael asking him, "Why? Why the color-change? ... because Heaven never gives us signs without a good reason.  So what exactly was the Archangel trying to communicate through these seeming signs, particularly the theca, which is something quite tangible?  I've heard of, and seen, silver-colored sacramentals changing to a gold color, or actual gold (e.g. medals and rosary links) - which would be easier to interpret - but not the other way around.

To date, I haven't received further spiritual experiences in response to my prayers, nor do I expect any... but still - Why, St. Michael?  What's going on that I or the world need to know about?

In my search for a possible answer I recently googled the significance of silver in the Bible and found these passages from the Psalms.  Perhaps they provide a hint of what St. Michael is trying to convey through the sign in silver:

"The promises of the LORD are pure, like silver
refined in a furnace and purified seven times."

‐ Psalm 12:6

"You have tested us, O God.  You have refined
us in the same way silver is refined."

- Psalm 66:10

Interestingly enough, and maybe a bit concerning, both Scriptures have something in common - they speak of the process of silver being "refined"... which, significantly, is another word used for purified or cleansed.  So is the theca's change to silver a symbolic affirmation that the world is currently undergoing a period of intense testing and refining?  Or, is it an indication of a worldwide purification that's still to come?  Or, still, perhaps it's an invitation for just me to continue working on areas in my life that need cleansing?  Whether this little sign is intended to signify refinement, or not, spiritual purification is something worth reflecting on especially during this upcoming Lenten Season.  I do know one thing for certain, though - regardless what, I'm standing with St. Michael.

St. Michael the Archangel, help us
and protect us!

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Saint of the Month - February 2021: Venerable Anne de Guigne

Ven. Anne
Ven. Anne de Guigne
Transformed by God's Grace

If you ever questioned whether you could reach a measure of sanctity in your personal life, just keep reading - Anne de Guigne died at the young age of 10-years-old and, yet, she's up for Sainthood... and she didn't start off being a Saint - she was a veritable tyrant of a child, based on what several biographies commonly say.  So who was this Anne and what made her "venerable"?

Anne de Guigne was born on April 25, 1911; the oldest of four children granted to a French count and soldier named Jacques de Guigne and his wife, Antoinette. Up to age four she was described as strong-willed and self-centered, which only grew worse as her siblings arrived one by one. She was simply terrible, at times, and one particular incident gives us a good example of just how bad she could be, prior to her "conversion" - during a temper tantrum triggered by a fit of jealousy over her one and only brother, Anne threw dirt in the toddler's eyes, which must have been extremely painful for the boy!  That's how rotten she was.

But, thankfully, Anne changed... and it happened after the tragic death of her beloved father who was killed in July 2015 during a war between France and Germany. Madame de Guigne was naturally devastated when she got word of her husband's passing and, when Anne attempted to comfort her mother, Antoinette reportedly told the little girl, "If you want to comfort me, you must be good.”  From that moment on, Anne resolved to be a model daughter to her grieving mom.

De Guigne Family
Anne (upper-right), with her brother and sisters.

Anne's transformation was like night and day; almost over night the wolf became a docile lamb... and everyone who knew her noticed it. Not only did her temperament reform but so did her soul. The youngster suddenly exhibited a marked interest in spirituality and began in earnest to please both her mother and Jesus, too!

When the 5-year-old Anne expressed to her mother a desire to make her First Holy Communion, Madame de Guigne immediately enrolled her in catechism classes at a nearby convent. There, the highly precocious child eagerly absorbed what was taught her by the nuns. She advanced with uncommon speed in love of God, love of neighbor, and in personal virtue... and, it appears the Holy Spirit was working in a special way in the girl, as evidenced by some of her recorded sayings:

  • When Anne's grandfather asked her what wheat Hosts become, she replied: "Little Jesus comes and hides Himself in the white Hosts, which become Jesus."
  • To a priest who asked Anne where the Holy Spirit lived, her response was: "In the souls of the Just."
  • Prior to her First Holy Communion, the priest examining Anne asked her, "When does Jesus obey?" to which she gave this remarkable reply: "At Mass... He obeys the priest when he says: ‘This is My Body, this is My Blood.’"

Anne celebrated her First Communion on March 26, 2017 - a month shy of her 6th birthday - and notes she jotted down after the event further speak of the profound depth of her spiritual growth in spite of her young age.  For example:

  • "I will give my sacrifices to Mary, so that She may give them to Jesus."
  • "My Jesus, I love You and to please You, I resolve to obey You always."
  • "My soul is destined for Heaven. People are very preoccupied with their outward appearance and hardly at all with the soul... My soul was made for eternal life, to be infinitely happy or infinitely unhappy.  The good Lord wants it to be eternally happy.  That depends on me alone."

One can also sense in some of Anne's words that she possessed a solid comprehension of self-sacrifice.  She actually developed childhood rheumatism, which caused chronic inflammatory pain in her joints, but she accepted the discomfort without complaint.  Rather, when one of her nun-teachers once asked her what brought her joy, Anne said, "My greatest happiness is to suffer much for our gracious God."

A devotional prayer card with a relic
taken from Anne's clothing.

Furthermore, Anne's love for God motivated in her a desire to not just become saintly for the sake of her own soul, but she also offered many prayers and sacrifices for the conversion of sinners, too... and displayed affection and generosity towards the sick and the needy in an effort to draw them to God.

Now don't think that all of Anne's spiritual progress came easily to her because it didn't - in the beginning she had to fight hard against her selfish inclinations. There were many times she had to bite down on her tongue or clench her fist in silence in order to hold back one of her infamous tantrums... but consistent practice makes perfect and, through sheer will-power mixed with faith, she ultimately succeeded in overcoming the worse of her personality traits.

Towards the end of December 1921, Anne suffered from excruciating headaches, which was diagnosed as being due to Meningitis.  She was taken to bed and lapsed in and out of consciousness.  She was never heard to complain when she was  lucid but rather she stated peacefully: "I wish to offer my sufferings as Jesus did on the Cross."

Anne died on the morning of January 14, 1922. Shortly before her passing, she fixed her gaze at a spot in the room and asked the nun attending her, "Sister, may I go with the angels?" After the nun replied in the affirmative, Anne responded joyfully, "Thank you, Sister.  Oh, thank you."

Anne de Guigne
Little Anne de Guigne, pray for us!

Presently, Anne is a Venerable in the Church and awaits a verified miracle worked through her intercession to be declared a Blessed; a second miracle could make her a Saint.  Her body was also discovered miraculously incorrupt during an exhumation conducted in October 1922.  Let us pray for Anne de Guigne's speedy Canonization.  The world - especially our youth - needs her faith-example.

Anne's Hymn to Mary

Lend Him to me, O Mary, my dear Mother...
lend me your Son, if only for a second.  Place Him in
my humble arms.  Allow me, Mary, to kiss the feet of
your dear Son who has given me so many graces.
How I desire, O Mary, to receive your Son in my
arms, give Him to me, give Him to me!  How happy
I am now for I have Him with me!

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words...

This morning... right before Mass at St. John Vianney Church, Kailua, I happened upon this beautiful scene. Many say a picture is worth a thousand words... and, there's also a popular lore about finding treasure at the end of a rainbow.  In this photo, both sayings just happen to be true.

Interestingly, since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the priest for this parish has been diligently hearing confessions every Saturday morning out on the lawn behind the pictured shrine.

Confession and the Immaculate Heart of Mary - treasures, indeed!