NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local diocese, 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 Administrator

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pilgrim Statue & Holy Relic Visitation, 11/20/2011: Rosary DVD Recording Session

Our Lady... praying with our parishioners.

In early 2011, a parishioner, inspired by our monthly rosary devotion, approached our parish's Religious Education Coordinator with a suggestion that we record the rosary prayer for distribution to our St. Anthony of Padua church community. A planning committee was formed shortly after to discuss and implement the possibility of creating a DVD, which would include a recorded prayer along with a slideshow of images gathered from our parish members. So for the past 10 months, I have been heavily involved with the committee members in planning the format of the DVD and gathering photos and illustrations submitted by parishioners and students of our parochial school. Today, the project completed a major milestone when it finished recording our praying parishioners for the audio portion of our planned Scriptural Rosary DVD.

This ministry's large Rosa Mystica Pilgrim Virgin statue and Our Lady's clothing relic were invited to be a part of today's recording session to be the focal points for our prayers, and to represent the Blessed Mother's maternal presence among us... since this project is ultimately dedicated to her honor. Our Lady's subtle presence was definitely felt as we all patiently worked together through minor obstacles during the recording session.

Photos of our parishioners - young & old -
gathered in the parish school's library to
record our Scriptural Rosary DVD Project.

When all is said and done, our hope is that the end product will be a quality DVD with the voices of our Kailua parishioners - young and old - praying the Scriptural Rosary together, while photos of our parish life move across the screen with illustrations provided by our elementary/intermediate school students. It will be a collaborative effort from all levels of our parish community, which we hope will be a blessing to the people who purchase it. All proceeds will go towards funding St. Anthony of Padua School's scholarship program to assist needy and deserving children.

Coming soon - a Scriptural Rosary DVD,
as prayed by our Kailua parishioners!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony's Church, 11/5/2011

The Day Chapel at St. Anthony of

This month's First Saturday Rosary for Peace was extra special because it also happened to be the Feast of Holy Relics... the rosary was dedicated to the dearly departed... and because of the feast, in addition to bringing the usual relic of the Blessed Mother's dress to the church, I also brought along a few relics from other holy persons to share and venerate with the rosary prayer participants: St. Gemma Galgani ("Ex Corpore"), Bl. Margaret of Castello ("Ex Ossibus"), St. Philomena ("Ex Indumentis"), and St. Padre Pio ("Ex Panno Stigmatibus").

Two views of the display altar with Our
Lady's pilgrim statue, surrounded by statues
and relics of a Blessed and a few Saints.

Again, I was happy to see a few new faces in the pews, including a co-worker of mine who drove in from quite a distance with her mother (a mini-pilgrimage!) to participate in our monthly Rosary for Peace.  After the prayer ended, a few people stayed behind to inquire about the Saints on the altar and to venerate their respective relics up close before heading over to the main church for the Saturday evening vigil Mass. The prayer event was made all the more meaningful with the Saints being physically present with us through their blessed remains.

My co-worker, Dre, and her mother,
Monique, (left) drove from neighboring
Mililani Town to participate in our
parish's First Saturday Devotion.

Our next Monthly Parish Rosary will be held on Saturday, 12/3, at 4:30pm in our Day Chapel.  All are welcomed to join us as we heed Our Lady's urgent call to pray for World Peace.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Personal Encounter with Poor Souls...

 "And because he considered that
they who had fallen asleep with godliness,
had great grace laid up for them.  It is
therefore a holy and wholesome thought
to pray for the dead, that they may be
loosed from sins."

 ~ 2 Maccabees, 12:45-46

With November 2nd being especially dedicated by the Church to the remembrance of our dearly departed, I’d like to share with the readers of this blog an unusual experience I had back in January of 2007. Let me first begin by stating that since my early twenties (am in my 40's now), I have had a devotion to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and I pray regularly for their relief, as well as encourage my family and close friends to do so, too. By sharing my experience, I hope to inspire in my Catholic readers a stronger belief in the existence of the Poor Souls and emphasize their need for our prayers and sacrifices.

So going back to January, 2007… I had an experience that I still recall clearly to this day. Late one night, as I was lying in the dark on my bed and preparing to doze off, I was saying my usual evening prayers when I was startled by the appearance of softly glowing light above my bed. In the air, close to the ceiling, were three bluish-white globes of light, the size of medium bowling balls... slowly moving in no particular pattern or formation, but just in a graceful undulating motion and sometimes floating through each other. Wondering if there were any external light sources (car headlights or flashlights) that could’ve been forming the light anomalies, I glanced back and forth between the glowing orbs and the windows but there was nothing coming through my curtains except the faint light from distant street posts.

Instead of being completely frightened, I was actually a little intrigued by the entire spectacle and invoked the holy name of Jesus Christ for my protection and to cast out any unclean spirits in case the lights were evil in origin. The orbs did not go away after the prayer and I was assured that their origin was not diabolic in nature… so I then prayed again to the Lord, asking for the meaning of all that was occurring. Immediately, there came into my mind a clear and precise thought - almost an audible sentence in my mind - stating that these orbs were "souls from Purgatory" who were in need of prayers. So I offered several familiar prayers for the Poor Souls and watched as the spheres of light slowly began to dim before eventually disappearing. I continued saying a few more prayers on their behalf before finally falling into a peaceful sleep.

The next morning, I shared with several family members about the unusual experience that I had the night before. I could tell by their facial expressions that they were either not interested in listening to my story, or simply didn’t believe it. I dropped the subject and as a couple of weeks passed, I started to think that it had all been just a dream… I alternated between doubt and belief until something else happened in late February, 2007, that completely removed all my doubts...

A digital photo taken in my room (top)
showing three unusual light formations 
... and below is a closer view of the orbs
of bluish-white light circled in blue.

... I had just completed some renovations to my bedroom and had taken a few digital photos to show to a friend, and while I was looking through the photos on my camera, I noticed something strange in one of them. The photo in question showed three bluish-white orbs - the size of bowling balls - floating in the middle of my room! I immediately recognized the orbs as similar to the ones I saw the month before except in the photo they weren’t as solid and as bright as I had seen them with my eyes.

I showed the photo to my family and friends and we again discussed the entire situation that happened on the January evening – this time they listened with more interest and we all concluded, that based on the circumstances, the orbs had to be some sort of sign indicating the presence of blessed spirits from Purgatory. To date, the strange balls of light have not reappeared in my bedroom… but that hasn't diminished my increased belief in Purgatorial Souls; I know that they are in need of our help. So I continue to pray and sprinkle holy water for them on an almost daily basis, knowing that there is immense spiritual value in these simple actions. Please kindly remember the Poor Souls in your prayers, as well.

"If, during life, we have been kind to the
suffering souls in Purgatory, God will see
that help not be denied us after death."

 ~ Words of St. Paul of the Cross (d. 1775)

* * *  Two Popular Prayers for the Holy Souls in Purgatory  * * *

A Traditional Prayer for the Deceased:
  Grant unto them, O Lord, eternal rest and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.  Amen.

St. Gertrude's Prayer for the Holy Souls (as revealed to her by Our Lord):
  Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus Christ, in union with all the Masses being said throughout the world today for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home, and within my family.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Saint of the Month - November 2011: Saint John Theophane Venard

St. John Theophane Venard
Missionary & Martyr - Feast: November 6th

The Catholic Church is exceptionally rich when it comes to its history of heroic souls who died in witness to our faith in Jesus Christ and the Universal Church that he founded. Many of our martyrs not only died with remarkable courage, but also with a spirit of joy that astonished those who witnessed their deaths. One such martyr was the missionary-priest, St. John Theophane Venard. He was born on November 21, 1829, in the small French town of Saint-Loup-sur-Thouet, and was blessed to have been raised in a devout household from which two younger brothers also entered into the priesthood.

As a child Theophane read an account of the 1837 martyrdom in Vietnam of the French priest, St. John-Charles Cornay, and was so deeply inspired he exclaimed, “I want to go to Tonkin, too! I want to die a martyr, too!” So in his late-teens, he obtained permission from his father to enter the Minor Seminary in Montmorillon where he studied philosophy before completing the rest of his religious training in the Paris Seminary for Foreign Missions. He was ordained a Catholic priest on June 5, 1851, being only 22-years-old. In September, 1852, Fr. Venard’s goal of becoming a missionary was fulfilled when he was sent to a mission in Hong Kong, and later transferred to West Tonkin, Vietnam, in May of 1854.

When the young priest arrived in Vietnam, the Christian community was undergoing persecution by order of the local ruler, Minh-Menh. Recently enacted anti-Christian laws had forced the Church to go into hiding, with missionary-priests ministering to their flocks in secrecy under the cover of darkness in caves and remote forests. The hostile and extreme conditions, plus chronic illness, took a heavy toll on the health of Fr. Venard but he continued to labor zealously for the good of the young Church in Vietnam.

On November 30, 1860, at the height of a renewed Christian persecution, Fr. Venard was betrayed to government officials by a relative of one of his parishioners. During his short trial he was given repeated opportunities to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ, but he remained steadfast and was consequently sentenced to death. For several weeks prior to his execution, he was kept in a small ornate cage that left him with very little room to move. Sympathetic guards allowed Fr. Venard occasional breaks from his cage, while several of his parishioners secretly ministered to him. Given his situation, he also wrote a series of farewell letters to family and friends that expressed his commitment to the Faith, as well as the peace and joy he felt in being able to die a martyr’s death for the sake of Christ. In a particular letter to his bishop, he stated, “My heart is like a calm lake.”

Another photo of St. John Theophane Venard and a 1st Class (bone) Relic
of the Martyr in my ministry's custody

Fr. Venard was beheaded on February 2, 1861. Witnesses at his martyrdom reported that he walked to the execution site without any signs of fear and joyfully singing the Magnificat. The Church Canonized St. John Theophane Venard on June 19, 1988. Among his most ardent admirers was none other than St. Therese, the Little Flower, who was deeply inspired by Fr. Venard’s missionary zeal. In her writings can be found this reference to the martyred priest: “I have read the lives of many missionaries. One I've read is the life of Theophane Venard, which interested me and touched me more than I can say.”

A Reflection
“We are all flowers planted on this earth, which God plucks in his own good time: some a little sooner, some a little later . . .”  ~ Words of St. John Theophane Venard

A Short Prayer
Dear St. John Theophane, pray for us that we too may witness to the truth of our Faith with courage, and most importantly, with joy.