Disclaimer

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


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Holy Relics Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 8/25/2012

 
Sacred Relics of St. Maximilian Kolbe (L) and St. Peregrine Laziosi (R) surround the Rosa Mystica
statue on the Gruber Family's home altar (click on each photo to view larger images)
 
The August prayer meeting at the Gruber home was a wonderful event filled with FAITH, and later followed by FUN and lots and lots of FOOD!  We had the joy of welcoming new participants to our little circle of prayer, which included an entire family... and it was an inspiration  for me to see them - mother and father with their three young children praying together; the parents setting an example of prayer for their kids - it was a beautiful example of faith in action.
 
As part of tonight's gathering, I also shared the life-story and 1st and 2nd Class (hair/clothing) relics of St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose courageous sacrifice on behalf of a condemned prisoner never fails to impress my listeners.  And by special request from our host, my 1st Class (bone) Relic of St. Peregrine Laziosi - the Patron Saint of Cancer Patients - was also brought to the prayer meeting as there were several people suffering from cancer who we were offering intercessory prayers for.
 
Food, fun, and fellowship followed after the prayers!
 
The intensity of our prayer intentions was afterwards lightened by a delicious potluck dinner, which we shared in the spirit of  love and  Christian fellowship.  A special sign of the Blessed Virgin's  maternal presence  among us was also evidenced, via the appearance of Escarchas, which we later discovered sprinkled on different areas of the dining room table and on the floor near the host-family's home altar
 
A cluster of golden Escarchas that materialized
on the Gruber's dining room table
 
I am already looking forward to the September prayer meeting and I continue to pray that our Lord will send us new and old friends to participate with Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group in offering the Holy Rosary for the betterment of the entire world.
 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pilgrim Statue & Holy Relic Visitation: The Feast of Our Lady's Assumption, 8/15/2012


Feast Day observances at St. Anthony's Church, Kailua

Today, the Church celebrated the Feast of Our Lady's Assumption.  Although it isn't a Holy Day of Obligation in the Diocese of Honolulu, our parish priest - Fr. Clarence - was still eager to honor our Blessed Mother by celebrating an evening Mass in observance of the Feast. My Rosa Mystica pilgrim statue and Our Lady's "ex velo" relic were invited to participate in the service and I was happy to oblige since  I am a firm believer that no celebration in honor of Mary would be complete without a statue or painting of her in attendance.

As expected, the evening service was beautiful and meaningful. Fr. Clarence again conducted one of his Marian-oriented homilies in which he incorporates the singing of several traditional and time-honored hymns especially dedicated to Our Lady.  I always find myself deeply stirred and "chicken-skinned" when I hear the entire congregation united in one voice, lovingly praising our Blessed Mother in song, in  a manner that she deserves from us - her adopted children through Christ, her Divine Son.

After the Mass, the festivities concluded with refreshments in our "Friendship Lanai", which was highlighted with lighthearted fellowship amongst our parishioners.

After the Mass, a young family took the time to visit St. Anthony's reliquary in our church (left),
while three young parishioners looked on with awe at Our Lady's statue and relic (right)


"... All glorious is the King’s daughter as she enters,
her raiment threaded with gold;

In embroidered apparel she is led to the King.
The maids of her train are presented to the King.

They are led in with glad and joyous acclaim;
they enter the palace of the King."

~ Psalm 45:14-16  

Monday, August 13, 2012

An update on the Escarchas...


A manifestation of golden
Escarchas in a rosary-bead
pattern after I talked about
the Rosary with a friend.
As of this writing, it's been just about two months since I first witnessed the remarkable appearance of "Escarchas"... and the beautiful shiny flakes of varying colors are still materializing around me and a few close friends with whom I share a strong devotion to our Blessed Mother and the Saints. After seeing them mysteriously appear on multiple occasions and praying over and over to discern them - even seeking guidance from a priest - I'm convinced what's occurring is miraculous in nature and a sign from Heaven. Hence, I've made it a point to note down my observations and thoughts in regards to Escarchas that may interest readers - the list below is based on what I've personally seen and experienced:

+  First, and foremost, the appearance of Escarchas is always unexpected and unpredictable... they can't be "willed" or prayed to appear, but rather, it's really up to God as to when and where they manifest. From what I've seen, this variation of "Manna" appears primarily when there is an atmosphere of Christian faith and spirituality such as during times of personal or group prayer (especially during the Holy Rosary); quiet spiritual reflection; and during and after Holy Mass (especially during the priest's homily, but I've never seen them materializing during the Eucharistic Consecration).

As far as where they appear, I've witnessed their materialization in my home, in churches, at my workplace, and even in my car when I'm driving to Mass, or to speaking presentations and prayer events where my pilgrim statue and/or relics were invited. At these places the Escarchas have manifested on a few of my statues and reliquaries (under the glass covering!)... in my palms... on the faces and arms of friends... on clothing... on furniture... on the floor and walls... and even on my paperwork at my job (significantly, I offer Jesus my daily work every morning).

Golden flakes of Escarchas that appeared on a friend's face (chin, eye) while we were faith-sharing,
and on a pew during Mass at St. John Vianney Church in Enchanted Lakes
(click on all the photos on this posting to view larger images)

+  The Escarchas first appeared as silver and golden flakes, but as weeks went by other colors have manifested, too:  green, red, pink, purple, and various shades of blue. On a few occasions, the Escarchas were even colorless, resembling very small slivers of clear glass. There are a couple of websites that report the colors signify certain meanings, but I haven't experienced anything to the effect that confirmed that theory. I did notice, however, that the gold and silver Escarchas frequently appeared during Mass.  

A small statue of Our Lady that is manifesting Escarchas on my desk at work

+  The Escarchas ranged in size and shape from very fine dust-like particles... to gold shavings... to geometric hexagonal particles... and even Rosary bead formations! On one occasion, a red Escarcha was in the perfect shape of a heart (see below), which caught me by surprise and touched me deeply! Stranger still, at two other times, they materialized in the form of crystalline particles resembling tiny bits of coarse rock salt (there was nothing around me that remotely resembled salt), recalling to mind the significance of salt in Sacred Scripture (Matthew 5:13).

I also want to add that although Escarchas have often been described as "glitter", they are not glitter - there are clear visible differences in size, shape, and texture from the man-made glitter seen on crafts and decorations.  In fact, Escarchas are far more delicate looking and they give me the impression of being organic (natural) in composition rather than synthetic (artificial).   

This amazing Escarcha has been interpreted by me to be a reminder that
Christ expresses His love for us through the Mass and the Eucharist

+  To best describe how they manifest, my immediate vicinity would be clear of any type of small debris, when suddenly, a little "sparkle" of white or colored light will appear out of nowhere only to be replaced by an Escarcha. This process would then repeat itself. I have never seen them falling or "raining" down, as described on other religious websites by witnesses.

Countless Escarchas that appeared on a friend's arm after she participated
at a First Saturday Rosary for Peace at St. Anthony's Church in Kailua
(click on the triangle at the bottom-left to play the video)

+  The Escarchas, at times, have changed from one color to another. For example, on one occasion while I was at Mass, an Escarcha manifested near my foot. I picked-up the glittery flake with a finger and clearly saw that it was silver in color, and I rubbed it into a crease in my palm as a way of safekeeping it until I could collect it with tape. Later, when I opened my hand, I noticed the same Escarcha had turned bright gold! At least one other person who I shared Escarchas with has reported back to me about its color-changing properties.


Shiny, multi-colored Escarchas that I collected with tape in a span of several days,
and later affixed to prayer cards that were shared with sick family and friends.

+  Lastly, Escarchas have sometimes multiplied, and likewise, disappeared after materialization. On a few occasions, I've seen a single flake materialize on the surface of something, and after collecting it with a piece of clear tape, there would all of a sudden be other Escarchas on the same item or on my fingers! Some friends with whom I've shared taped Escarchas with have reported how the glittery particles have later manifested on, or around them, during their personal prayer times, which could also be interpreted as a form of multiplication.

... and opposite of multiplying, I've seen Escarchas materialize only to vanish as mysteriously as they appeared. More than once, I've put my finger on an Escarcha in order to place it on a piece of scotch tape, but when I looked at my finger, the Escarcha was no where to be seen.

Several Escarchas that appeared and multiplied in both my palms after
I attended a Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu

I'm quite baffled as to why all this is happening to me and my friends. One website I researched stated that Escarchas are an indication of the Blessed Mother's presence, or even the Holy Spirit. I believe the statement is, for the most part, true... and in my own experiences I feel strongly that they are connected to the Rosa Mystica Devotion, which I promote. But I certainly don't claim to be a "mystic", nor do I feel particularly worthy of having Our Lady or the Holy Spirit bless me in such a manner.

What I do know for sure is that each time I witnessed the appearance of Escarchas, I felt a deep conviction in my soul that God exists and He's very, very close to us; not distant and beyond reach as some people might imagine... and He loves us very much and desires us to know it and sense it tangibly. At the same time, I felt inspired to love God in a deeper manner and my heart was filled with profound joy and gratitude.

The colors in this beautiful photo that I found online best capture
the vivid colors of the Escarchas that I've witnessed

I think a dear friend inadvertently hit it on the mark, as to the purpose of Escarchas, when she made a remark to me after I shared a few gold and green Escarchas with her - in a tone tinged with emotion, she said:

"You know what this is?  This is dust from Heaven...
and if the dust from Heaven looks like this - can you
imagine how beautiful the rest of Heaven must be?
I can't wait to see it!"

It was at that moment I came to realize that, through Escarchas, Jesus was generously giving us a glimpse - or more like a tiny "sample" - of the beauty,  wonder, and glory found in His Kingdom; the reward that awaits all Believers who are faithful to Him.

A profusion of Escarchas after giving
a talk on the Eucharist, 2/29/2020.

My faith has definitely grown and I, too, am excitedly looking forward to the day when I will finally get to see the full splendor of Heaven in person... and what a sight it will be! Our God is a God of surprises and marvels - Hallelujah... Hallelujah... Hallelujah!

“For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you.”

~ Isaiah 60:2
   

Friday, August 10, 2012

A great article about devotion to the Saints...

The article below is from the Catholic News Service website...  I thought I'd post a copy here because I think it encapsulates, in a fine manner, the Catholic Church's teachings on our devotion to the Saints, which this ministry strives to encourage and promote:


Saturday, August 4, 2012

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony's Church, 8/4/2012



Our Lady of Fatima, Queen of the Holy Rosary, pray for us!

This month's First Saturday Rosary at my home-parish of St. Anthony's Church welcomed back several of our frequent visitors from other parts of the island - Aiea, Kapolei, and Mililani.  There was even a new face in the pews, which is always a joy to see.

Today, I officially broke in my recently acquired Fatima Pilgrim Virgin statue, which looked absolutely beautiful on the display altar... and I also shared the life of St. Jeanne Delanoue with the people who attended, along with her bone-relic, which we venerated with the Sacred Relic of Our Lady's veil.

As we offered prayers for Peace, the spiritual presence of our dear Blessed Mother was sensed among us and it was even manifested through the unexpected appearance of escarchas, which was witnessed by at least three of us in the Day Chapel after our prayer meeting finished... and also during the Mass that followed in the main church.  It was another wonderful gift from Our Lady that left us feeling grateful and deeply humbled.

Our next First Saturday Rosary will be prayed on Saturday, 9/1, at 4:30pm.  All are welcomed to join us in responding to Our Lady of Fatima's request that we pray for peace and for the conversion of sinners.

A closer view of the relics of St. Jeanne Delanoue, a French founder of a religious
congregation (left)... and Our Lady's veil.  Both relics are certified as genuine.
(click on the photos to view larger images)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Saint of the Month - August 2012: Saint Mariam of Jesus Crucified


St. Mariam (Baouardy) of Jesus Crucified
The "Little Nothing" ~ Feast: August 25th

This Carmelite mystic's life was filled with tales of extraordinary wonders that began from her childhood years, some of which would seem so astounding as to leave most minds skeptical, if not for the many credible witnesses who vouched for their veracity.

Born on February 5, 1846, to devout Christian parents in Abellin (Palestine), Mariam Baouardy was orphaned at a very young age.  An uncle adopted her, and she was treated very well until the topic of marriage was brought up when she was 13-years-old.  Although she was still quite young, the child had already planned on consecrating herself wholly to God through a vow of perpetual virginity, but her uncle would not hear any of it.  He attempted to break Mariam's will by treating her as a servant in his home, which tried her sorely.

"It is sweet to think of Jesus, but it is sweeter to do His Will."

~ words of St. Mariam

During this rough patch in her life, a male-servant in her uncle's household befriended Mariam, but he did so with the intent of converting her to Islam.  When she realized the servant's plan she rebuked him and professed her faith in Jesus Christ, which enraged the man who slashed her throat with a sword.  The servant then carried the maiden's limp body into an alley and left her there for dead, wrapped in a large rug.

What happened next was the escalation of supernatural events in Mariam's life.  She awoke in a cave being cared for by a mysterious nun in blue.  As it turned out, it was none other than the Blessed Virgin, who nursed her back to health (Mariam bore a deep scar and spoke with a hoarse voice for the rest of her life as a result of the horrible neck wound)... then revealed to Mariam her entire life; how she would eventually enter consecrated life and die in the Holy Land.

A photo of Bl. Mariam, clothed as a Carmelite (continue reading
to the very end to learn something interesting about this image).

Once she was completely recovered, Mariam never returned to her uncle's home but instead was directed by Our Lady to a neighboring city where she found work as a servant for a devout Christian family.  Following divine inspiration, in 1863 she boarded a ship to Marseilles, France, where she joined the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition.

As an aspiring religious, Mariam's spiritual life intensified as the mystical gifts she had already been experiencing became even more manifest, mainly through Ecstasies and Visions.  To these were later added visible bleeding  Stigmata  and astounding Levitations, which troubled her since they caused misunderstandings and suspicion from some of the other nuns.

Furthermore, as the nun's relationship with God deepened, she longed for a more contemplative life, away from curious eyes, so she sought and received official dispensation to leave and enter the Discalced Carmelites of Pau in 1867; there, she took the name "Sr. Mariam of Jesus Crucified".  Her new life as a Carmelite was marked with deep humility and a desire to abase herself to the point of referring to herself as the "little nothing".

"Everyone is sleeping and God so full of bounty, so great, so praiseworthy, is forgotten.  No one thinks of Him.  See, the whole nature praises Him, the heavens, the stars, the trees, the grass, all things praise Him; and man who knows His kindness, who should praise Him, sleeps.  Let us go, let us go and wake the universe!"

~ words of St. Mariam

In 1870 Sr. Mariam was one of several nuns sent to Mangalore, India, to establish a new Carmel there. She continued to experience spiritual phenomenon including physical harassment from the devil, but was also consoled by angelic visits. There are charming accounts of how she often mysteriously floated to the top of her favorite tree in the monastery garden... and would stand on the topmost branches, in ecstatic rapture, without bending the limbs.  These levitations were so clearly observed, and frequent, a superior once commanded her back to consciousness leaving her stranded on the treetop.  The other nuns then had to rescue Mariam with a ladder.

Another aspect of the Saint's spiritual life was her great love for the Holy Spirit, which prompted her to write to the Pope urging him to promote more devotion to the Divine Paraclete, as she felt there wasn't enough emphasis about Him in the Church.

An illustration depicting St. Mariam's frequent flights
to the top of a lemon tree in the monastery garden.

In 1872 she returned briefly to France before setting out to the Middle East to establish another Carmel in Bethlehem.  She was happy at the thought of being able to pray for the conversion of her people on her home soil but Divine Providence would have it that she not spend much time in Palestine.  While assisting with the construction of the new monastery, Sr. Mariam had a serious fall that broke her arm.  The injury was not properly treated and it quickly lead to a gangrenous condition that claimed her life on August 26, 1878; she was only 32-years-old.

The Discalced Carmelite Order came to hold the memory of Sr. Mariam of Jesus Crucified in high esteem so it was with great joy they celebrated her Canonization on May 17, 2015.  Her tomb and relics are venerated in the Carmel she established, and she is invoked in a special way as a Herald of Peace and Hope in the war-torn regions of the Middle East.

A Reflection
"Every person in the world that will invoke the Holy Spirit and have devotion to Him will not die in error."
~ Words of St. Mariam of Jesus Crucified

A Short Prayer
Come, Holy Spirit, inflame our souls with the Fire of Love and the Light of God’s Divine Truth.  Amen.


+ An Interesting Anecdote & Testimony to the Special Significance of Relics +

This ministry has in its custody, a rare 1st Class Relic of St. Mariam - a small piece of bone from her body and there's an interesting story behind it...

Circa the late 1990s, I had a clear dream of a Carmelite nun who I didn't know or recognize.  She wore the Order's distinctive brown habit with a cream-colored mantle; was barefoot; and appeared rather short in stature, with a pleasant roundish face.  The nun approached from my left and stopped about 10 feet away from me.  She then smiled and spoke a single sentence before the dream ended abruptly: 

"I am coming to live with you."

When I awoke, the imagery in my dream remained vivid... but I wracked my brain the whole day trying to decipher who the mystery nun was, and what her words meant.  I just didn't know.

Three days later, I received a small padded envelope in the mail from a priest and, when I opened it, a piece of paper fell from it onto the floor.  Upon picking it up, I was shocked to discover it was actually a holy card with a photograph - the same image as the second one shown above!  It was the Carmelite from my dreams and her name printed on the card was Blessed Mariam of Jesus Crucified (at the time she was only beatified).  I then looked into the envelope and there, inside, was the relic shown here.  I immediately understood what St. Mariam's words meant and, ever since, she has occupied a place of honor in "Guadalupe House"... as well as, a warm spot in my heart.