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

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 on the Gruber's home altar
(click on photos to view larger)
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 gold Escarchas 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

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 young parishioners looked
on with awe at Our Lady's 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...

Golden Escarchas manifested in a
rosary-bead formation while I discussed
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 friend's face (chin, eye) while we were
faith-sharing, and on a pew during Mass at
St. John Vianney Church in Keolu, Kailua.

+  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 statuette 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 is 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
Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua.

+  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 I collected
with clear tape in a span of several days.

+  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 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 best
capture the vivid colors of the Escarchas
that I've been witnessing.

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.

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 confirmed sanctity of this holy woman and the many credible witnesses who vouched for their veracity.

Born on February 5, 1846, to devout Christian parents in Abellin (Palestine), Mariam Baouardy was their thirteenth child; the result of fervent prayers offered to Our Lady after their preceding twelve babies died in infancy; a brother followed two years later.

Orphaned at just 2-years-old, a paternal uncle adopted her and she was treated very well until the topic of marriage was brought up when she was 12.  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 and marrying her, himself.  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 an escalation of supernatural events in Mariam's life.  She had a beautiful near-death experience of Heaven before awaking in a cave in the care of 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).  Our Lady then revealed to Mariam her entire life: how she would enter consecrated life in two religious institutions and die in the Holy Land.

Another photo of St. Mariam

Once she completely recovered, Mariam never returned to her uncle's home but instead was directed by our Blessed Mother to a neighboring city where she found work as a servant with a devout Christian family.  During a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, she met a mysterious young man who befriended and counseled her in virtue - she later learned it was an angel; one of several she encountered in her lifetime.

Following divine inspiration, in 1863 she boarded a ship to Marseilles, France, where she was employed as a cook in another home, and where raptures became pronounced.  A few personal visits from St. Joseph then led to her entrance with the institute of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition.

In the convent, Mariam's mystical gifts became even more manifest, mainly through Visions and prolonged Ecstasies.  To these were added visible Stigmata, beginning in January 1866, which bled weekly from Wednesday evenings to Fridays.  The novice was troubled since they caused misunderstandings and suspicion from some of the other nuns ... and it didn't help that she could barely speak French.  In fact, it was because of these varying phenomena she was ultimately denied final profession by a council of her peers.

Providentially, the Novice Mistress - Mother Veronica - was in the process of leaving the Sisters of St. Joseph to join the Discalced Carmelites.  She was a believer in Mariam's sanctity and arranged to take the mystic with her, and both entered the Carmel of Pau, France, in 1867; there, the future Saint 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 phenomena including prophetic insight, physical harassment from the devil, and consoling visits from angels.  The Stigmata, which had paused, returned during the Fridays of each Lenten Season ... and then, there were the amusing and remarkable incidents of Levitation in the monastery garden; how she floated to the top of her favorite tree without bending branches and would stand on the uppermost limbs in ecstatic rapture ... and sometimes sing of her love for God!

Mariam's "flights" happened often enough that they were clearly observed and documented by her companions.  A superior who was present at one of these levitations once unwisely commanded her to regain consciousness while Mariam was still atop the tree, which left her stranded on the uppermost branches.  The other nuns then had to fetch a ladder in order to rescue Mariam from her unusual predicament.

A depiction of St. Mariam's frequent flights
to the top of a lemon tree in the monastery.

As impressive as the visible signs were, the greatest graces Sr. Mariam received were unseen: she underwent the Mystical Marriage and, like her spiritual mother - St. Teresa of Avila - her heart was pierced with the dart of Divine Love by an angel!  This happened in May 1868 and it set her soul aflame with love for God, in particular for the Holy Spirit, whose Light she radiated whenever she spoke of Him.  In fact, her devotion to Him was so strong, she wrote to the Pope, urging the Pontiff to do more to promote the Divine Paraclete, as she felt there wasn't enough emphasis about the Holy Spirit in the Church.  Below is a famous prayer our Saint spontaneously composed while in ecstasy:

Holy Spirit, inspire me.
Love of God, consume me.
To the right path lead me.
Mary, my mother, look down
upon me.  With Jesus, bless me.
From all evil, all illusion,
all danger, preserve me.

In 1872, the Saint returned briefly to Pau before setting out to the Middle East to establish a new 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 the cream-colored mantle; was barefoot; and appeared rather short in stature, with a pleasant roundish face.  The nun approached from my left, stopped about 10 feet away from me, and then turned towards my direction.  Looking straight into my eyes, she 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 nun from my dreams and her name printed on the card was Blessed Mariam of Jesus Crucified (she was only Beatified back then).  I then looked into the envelope and there, inside, was the relic shown here.

I immediately understood what St. Mariam's words meant and she has occupied a place of honor in "Guadalupe House" ever since ... as well as, a warm spot in my heart.