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, March 31, 2013

Isaiah 53 - The Man of Sorrows

A pencil drawing I did, which I call...
"Isaiah 53 ~ The Man of Sorrows"

"... For he bore the sin of
many, and made intercession
for the transgressors."

Last night, Holy Saturday, I had an interesting and vivid dream.  Not sure why I dreamt it, but perhaps it was because of the True Cross relic we venerated last night at a friend's prayer meetingAnyhow, the experience impressed me so deeply, that on the following afternoon, Easter Sunday, I reached for a #2 pencil on my desk and drew what I could remember about the dream.  I just felt compelled to do it and couldn't stop until the illustration was completed about six hours later.  The above image is the end result of my poor efforts.

In my dream I saw our Lord, Jesus Christ, walking down a dark path, shouldering a very large wooden cross. His face was bruised and his dark hair was matted as his head bled from wounds caused by a crown of thorns.  He was also bent forward and seemed to be in terrible pain and anguish, as the cross weighed heavily on him...

The whole thing seemed like a surreal scene from a traditional Passion Play... except when I was drawn closer to the Holy Cross, I noticed something very odd about it - I was surprised to see many, many small human faces embedded in the grain of the wood. They were countless and each face was different - male, female, young, old, etc.

As I scanned through the unfamiliar faces I saw my own face among the others and it both startled and humbled me.  I was reminded that I, too, had added to the weight of the cross through my personal sins... and I felt ashamed and sorry.  I think I would've been frightened, too, if not for the look in the Lord's eyes.  You see... as I was being slowly pulled away, Jesus lifted his head and fixed his gaze at me and the look I saw in his eyes transfixed me.  I saw Love, Mercy, and Sorrow combined into one remarkable expression, which was a stark contrast to the graphic nature of the scenario... and there was no trace of anger or resentment on His face, which would've been justified.

The above drawing is a representation of what I recall seeing in my dream, except the faces on the cross were much smaller and filled the entire cross; I couldn't depict them all on paper. I added special effects to the above copy of my drawing to simulate the faces appearing.  It's close to what I witnessed.

Some people may find the drawing eerie (one of my friend's did), but whenever I meditate on it, I get it and I thank Jesus for its rich symbolism and its meaningful message.  It's definitely a keeper drawing for me.

After researching Bible verses on the Internet, I decided to call the drawing, "Isaiah 53 ~ The Man of Sorrows", because that particular passage includes a prophetic description of the Lord's Passion, which I found highly appropriate (click here to read the Scripture Passage).  I sometimes also find myself silently repeating the short prayer below from the Stations of the Cross whenever I look at the face in the drawing.  Again, very fitting words:

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless
you... because by your Holy Cross you
have redeemed the world.  Amen.

*  R E L I C  P R I N T S  *

I received several positive feedback concerning the Isaiah 53 – The Man of Sorrows drawing… plus a few inquiries on how to obtain copies of this unique representation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. After prayerful consideration, I am making prints available of the drawing for those who are interested in owning a copy of it. The prints were professionally copied and printed on durable linen-textured cardstock paper suitable for matting and framing.

In addition, each print contains a red piece of fabric – representative of the Precious Blood of Christ – that was prayed over and solemnly touched to a Sacred Relic of the True Cross of Jesus Christ in my ministry’s custody, which also makes the image a 3rd Class Relic.

The Isaiah 53 - The Man of Sorrows
print is available in both 5" x 7" or 8" x 10" sizes, on either white linen-textured cardstock (above) ... or as glossy 4" x 5" postcards (below).

** NOTE:  For orders from Foreign Addresses, please add another $1
towards shipping.  Mahalo.
Proceeds from the sale of the prints will be used to support legitimate charitable causes that I personally believe in (e.g. St. Jude's Hospital), as well as used towards my little work in spreading devotion to Our Lady, the Saints, and their relics.

For anyone interested in purchasing prints of the Isaiah 53 – The Man of Sorrows drawing, please kindly email me at guadalupe_house@yahoo.com for ordering instructions or inquiries.  Indicate "Isaiah 53" on the e-mail subject line.  Thank you in advance for supporting my ministry.  God bless you.  ~ Peter

* Escarchas on 4/25/2013 *

Below is a short video of a recent episode of Escarchas materializing in connection with this ministry... it just so happened to involve one of the 8x10 prints of the Isaiah 53 Jesus drawing.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Relic Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 3/30/2013

At this month's prayer meeting in the Gruber home, the mood seemed somewhat somber.  We had just observed Good Friday yesterday, which is always a highly charged and emotional time for the entire Church... plus, with the recent loss of a dear uncle and the news that a couple of people I know are terminally ill from cancer - it's been understandably a tough Holy Week.  At least we had the excitement of welcoming a new participant - a friend's mother named, "Carmelita" - to Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group.
So tonight, our group paid special homage to St. Joseph - the foster-father of Jesus and the designated Patron Saint of Departing Souls - invoking his special intercession in our faith lives and for our departing loved ones.  We also reflected on and discussed our impressions of the Saint's hidden life, while venerating a rare cloak-relic - "Ex Pallio" - of St. Joseph from my ministry's custody.  We found each other's  feedback stimulating, as well as highly encouraging towards our shared admiration for this most venerated of men. 
A closer view of the relics of the True
Cross of Jesus Christ (left) and the cloak of
St. Joseph, the earthly father of our Lord.

In addition, I also brought along my True Cross relic and that, too, held special significance as we prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. Just the thought that we had a tiny sliver of wood in the room from the cross on which our Lord had suffered and died brought tears to the eyes of a few us.   It was intense.
The atmosphere gradually lightened after the prayers ended and our potluck began. The food is always delicious every month, but this time, the dessert took center stage - our hosts made an Oreo-Chocolate/Vanilla Ice Cream dessert with a Custard-Rum Bread Pudding... and another friend bought a Strawberry Cheesecake Pie. I think I gained a couple of pounds over dinner but I just couldn't help it - everything was just too good and it was worth it.
By the time the night ended, we were all stuffed but filled with joy and excitement knowing that tomorrow would be Easter Sunday - the day celebrating Christ's triumph (and ours, too) over death! We bid each other good-bye and parted company until next month, feeling God's unconditional love and invigorating power enveloping us.  It felt good, and for a few moments, it made me believe that Easter has somehow come a few hours early this year.  So thank you, Jesus... Hallelujah!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monthly Messages from the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: March 2013


Our Lady's Monthly Message on March 25th:
"Dear children! In this time of grace I call you to take the cross of my beloved Son Jesus in your hands and to meditate on His passion and death. May your suffering be united in His suffering and love will win, because He who is love gave Himself out of love to save each of you. Pray, pray, pray until love and peace begin to reign in your hearts.  Thank you for having responded to my call."
Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana on March 2nd:
"Dear children! Anew, in a motherly way, I am calling you not to be of a hard heart. Do not shut your eyes to the warnings which the Heavenly Father sends to you out of love. Do you love Him above all else? Do you repent for having often forgotten that the Heavenly Father, out of His great love, sent his Son to redeem us by the Cross? Do you repent for not yet having accepted the message? My children, do not resist the love of my Son. Do not resist hope and peace. Along with your prayer and fasting, by His cross, my Son will cast away the darkness that wants to surround you and come to rule over you. He will give you the strength for a new life. Living it according to my Son, you will be a blessing and a hope to all those sinners who wander in the darkness of sin. My children, keep vigil. I, as a mother, am keeping vigil with you. I am especially praying and watching over those whom my Son called to be light-bearers and carriers of hope for you - for your shepherds.  Thank you."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

St. Joseph, Patron of Departing Souls

I  have a confession… until fairly recently, I never paid much attention to our dear, illustrious St. Joseph, the foster father of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Don’t get me wrong – I know he's a great, great Saint.  I mean, how could St. Joseph not be GREAT if God chose him out of all the men of his time to be the earthly guardian of His only begotten son, as well as the Blessed Virgin Mary?  But I guess because there's so little we know about him compared to other Saints - notable ones like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Rita of Cascia, or St. Catherine of Siena, etc. - that it sometimes becomes easy to overlook St. Joseph, whose life was quietly hidden although I'm sure not lacking in exceptional sanctity and heroic acts of love and charity towards his fellow man.  For me, at least, that's how it was - I neglected to fully respect and honor this holiest of men and I'm a little embarrassed about admitting it... until now.
This past Tuesday, my family experienced a loss that really hit us deeply – a dear uncle of mine passed away in our home.  Although he'd been sickly in the last few months, his death still came as a shock when it occurred sometime in the early morning hours; he died unattended while sitting on his favorite recliner.  Our hearts are mourning his loss and I know we’ll continue to miss him for a very long time to come… but this is where St. Joseph unexpectedly stepped in, and through a string of "coincidences" made his gentle presence known to my family and me,  bringing consolation and  peace during our time of overwhelming sorrow.
First off, before continuing, let me just share that within the past year I've started making it a point to pray regularly to St. Joseph – usually in the mornings before I leave for work and when I attend noon Mass at our Honolulu Cathedral where there's a beautiful marble statue of him in the sanctuary (see the photo at the end of this post).  My prayer to the Saint is always the same – that he will protect my family and our household, as he protected his Holy Family… and that he intercede for me to be graced with a blessed and holy death, like how he was blessed to have in the presence of Jesus and Our Lady.

So going back to the day my uncle died… the whole Church should be well aware that it was St. Joseph's Feast Day on that day - March 19th - so for me it was the first glimmer of hope that my uncle's unattended passing may not have been "unattended" after all; that the day God chose for him to quit this world was not a mere coincidence since St. Joseph is the Patron Saint of a Peaceful and Happy Death.  I had hoped, that somehow there was really more to the auspicious date and that perhaps St. Joseph's intercession was involved.
Furthermore, as our day progressed and more people learned of our loss, visitors came and went.  Surprisingly, among the people who stopped by to offer his condolences was a neighbor who we never really associated with except for an occasional wave whenever we drove pass his home.  In one hand he carried an envelope… but in the other, a small vase with a single flower in it – a very large lily in full bloom (left photo)!  Again, devotees who are familiar with good ol’ St. Joseph know that the lily figures prominently in the hagiography of the Saint, as it is often used to symbolize the purity of his soul.  Was this another sign from St. Joseph... or just another coincidence?  We wondered about it, but what we didn't know was that a more convincing confirmation was still yet to come...
Later in the evening after all our visitors had left, my family gathered together to pray the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary for the repose of my uncle's soul.  It was roughly about 10:30pm.  During our prayer, I became aware of two unusual smells that seemed to have suddenly materialized in our midst.  To my left, I recognized the familiar tobacco smell that had always clung to my uncle's body (he was a heavy smoker).  It wasn't an unpleasant odor, rather it was something that our family just got used to about him; I knew my uncle's spirit was present… but it was the delightful fragrance that came from my right hand side that surprised me more and held my attention - it was the scent of fresh lilies although there were no flowers anywhere near us, including the single lily blossom we received earlier in the day! 
I kept quiet at first, but as the smokey smell and the fragrance kept wafting towards me in greater intensity, I finally broke down and asked our small group if anyone else detected what I was smelling.  Two others immediately said they smelled the smoke from my uncle's favorite brand of cigarettes but oddly no one else could smell the perfume of flowers. Needless to say, the rest of our Rosary Prayer was offered with much more fervency, as we all sensed we were in the presence of something extraordinary.  I had no doubt it was St. Joseph reassuring us that my uncle's soul was not lost and that the Saint had taken him under his special care during his final moments of earthly life. However, I also speculate that we were strongly being encouraged to continue praying for my uncle, as his soul had not yet merited the direct presence of God; we Catholics refer to it as Purgatory.
So as much as Tuesday had been a terrible day for our household, at the end of it, we were all comforted at the thought that a great Saint was watching over our uncle on the other side, and they had both (my uncle and St. Joseph) reached out to us in a special manner to assure us that my uncle was going to be fine.  The signs were subtle but they made a deep impression - how else would we expect St. Joseph to be?  His presence in Sacred Scriptures was itself subtle... yet despite the little he was mentioned in the Bible, whatever words were written about him made a lasting enough impression of his sanctity to countless of the Faithful throughout the centuries... including with me, too. 
I greatly admire St. Joseph and appreciate his unique role in Salvation History, now more so.  I get it why so many Saints had such strong devotions to him (e.g. St. Teresa of Avila, St. Andre Bessette, Bl. Maria Repetto, etc.).  There's just something about his masculine - strong yet gentle nature - that reminds one of a grandpa, an uncle, or perhaps even one's own dad; it's rather comfortable and "homey".

So before ending this latest posting, I'd like to share the beautiful prayer below, which is one I've been praying every morning in front of a little statue of St. Joseph and a clothing-relic of his in my ministry's custody.  I feel in my heart that the coincidental signs and blessings we received on March 19th were due to the sincere and diligent recital of this prayer to "St. Joe", as I sometimes affectionately refer to him.  Please pray it and may you also experience the help of this Saint in your own life... and perhaps even at the end of it.  St. Joseph, help of the dying, pray for us.

The altar of St. Joseph in the sanctuary of
the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace.
 An Efficacious Prayer to St. Joseph 
   O, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God.  I place in you all my interests and desires. St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers.
   O, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while he reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss his fine head for me and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.  St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me.  Amen.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Scriptural Rosary DVD, as prayed by the Parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua Church, Kailua (UPDATED)

The Scriptural Rosary DVD (not CD), as produced and prayed by parishioners and students of
St. Anthony of Padua Church and School in Kailua, Hawaii

After over a year and a half of planning and production, my home parish of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua (Oahu, Hawaii) finally debuted its long awaited Scriptural Rosary DVD this morning!  The DVD was the result of a unique collaboration between our church and parochial school, and it features the recorded voices of our parishioners and students - young and old - praying the Holy Rosary along with appropriate passages from Sacred Scriptures.
While praying with our parishioners, listeners may also view transitioning photos from our parish/diocesan  life  and many charming illustrations submitted by our younger students. Everything was put together by lay-members of our Kailua community, including the original music that's heard on the DVD's Main Menu. It truly is a work of faith and devotion - timely for the Year of Faith proclaimed by the Universal Church - which we hope will not only touch our own parishioners, but also members of other parishes in Hawaii... and perhaps beyond our island shores.
As one of the people who worked on the planning committee for this project, I can testify to all the hard work and many sincere prayers that went into creating this special DVD. I also have faith that it was guided by the Lord's hand and is definitely a blessed fruit of our parish's First Saturday Rosary for Peace, which we've been praying diligently every month for over two years now... so  I  have no reservations about promoting this quality product here on my blog.  Besides, ALL proceeds from the sale of the DVD will go towards a very worthy cause - the Scholarship Fund for St. Anthony of Padua School, Kailua.
For readers out there who are interested in obtaining a copy of the Scriptural Rosary DVD, please click on the flyer-image (upper-right) to enlarge it and view the contact information for the parish office of St. Anthony of Padua Church.
Photos from today's DVD release event (from Left to Right): Some of the drawings submitted by our
youngsters for the DVD, the Main Menu featured on large screen, and parishioners purchasing their DVD copies (click on the photos to view larger images).
* * * * * *  3 / 1 7 / 2 0 1 3  U P D A T E  * * * * * *
 Our parish's CD version of the Scriptural Rosary Prayer. With each purchase of a DVD or CD,
a complimentary beaded chord Rosary (left) is also available.
Now also available from St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua is a CD (audio version) of our Scriptural Rosary Prayer.  The CD version comes as a 2-disc set at just $5 each.  As a promotional offer, purchases of 4 DVDs will receive 1 audio CD free!  Complimentary beaded chord Rosaries are also available with each purchase of a DVD or CD while supplies last.  Please support our school's scholarship fund by ordering your DVD or CD today.  Our parish is still taking orders while we still have DVDs in stock. 
Thank you and God bless you!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Papam Franciscum!

His Holiness,
Pope Francis

Like many Catholics throughout the world, I was eagerly and anxiously awaiting the election of a new Pope to the hallowed Chair of St. Peter... while also offering many prayers to the Holy Spirit to guide the Cardinals in conclave.  So this morning as I was driving to work, I was overjoyed when a close friend of mine called and excitedly told me that white smoke had risen above the Sistine Chapel!  The first question I asked was, "Who is he?"... but of course the name of the new Pontiff hadn't been announced yet.

It wasn't until about 30 minutes after I arrived at my job, when I learned along with the rest of the world, that our new  spiritual leader was  an Argentinian who  had chosen the unprecedented name of - Pope Francis!
Joy welled up in my heart and I felt as though a refreshing breeze had suddenly blown through my soul.  "Francis" - after the great St. Francis of Assisi, who our Lord commissioned to "... repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin."  I already loved the man.

So I asked the Holy Spirit to fill me - to pray through me - for our dear Holy Father, while at the same time I grabbed a pen and started to quickly write the words, which flowed into my mind. The prayer that resulted is posted below and I invite all viewers who happen to stumble upon this blog to join me in praying for Pope Francis, who undoubtedly will need it in the coming times ahead. It doesn't have to be the prayer below... but any sincere prayer from the heart offered for the new Pontiff will suffice to aid him in his mission.  God bless him... and God bless us all, as well.  Habemus Papam Franciscum!

A Prayer for Pope Francis

O Heavenly Father, we thank you and
praise you for the gift of a new Pope for the
One, Holy, and Catholic Church. Pour out
your Holy Spirit upon him – Pope Francis –
that he may be abundantly filled with Sanctity,
Faith, Truth, and Love. May he also be an
inextinguishable light in the midst of the
darkness of this generation, leading the
Church and all peoples towards you.
Protect him from every harm and evil,
and strengthen him against adversity.

Furthermore, dear Father in Heaven,
open the hearts of all Christian believers –
Catholics and Non-Catholics - that we may
warmly welcome and embrace Pope Francis.
Help us to love and obey him as children
would their father, and to respect him as
the anointed Vicar of your Divine Son, Jesus
Christ. Confirm us in the belief that his
election is the fulfillment of your HolWill
for the Church and the rest of the world, and
that through this Pope's guidance, the
Roman Catholic Church will continue to
flourish during his papal reign and
beyond… until the end of time.

Again we thank you, Heavenly
Father... we humbly offer this prayer
with Joy, Gratitude, and Trust in you.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah! 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

St. Philomena makes another friend!

God and our Saints never cease to astound me.  I've sometimes experienced their assistance  and  signs  of  their  spiritual presence in unusual, but always edifying ways.  However, what happened to me this morning was a first!
A close friend of mine contacted me yesterday to request prayers for his diabetic father who was hospitalized due to a sore in his leg that had developed into gangrene; amputation was being discussed.  So this morning, I spiritually prepared myself  for a hospital visit by attending morning Mass before returning home to pick out a Holy Relic to bring along for the planned pilgrim visitation. Usually, when I'm invited to pray with the sick in a hospital or private home, I bring a relic of a Saint for the spiritual and moral comfort of the patient, while also invoking the healing intercession of the particular Saint.
Back at home, I stared into the large wood/glass cabinet that houses the relics in my ministry's custody. I had several options in regards to which Saint's relic to bring, but in the end, my choices were narrowed between a bone relic of St. Therese the Little Flower  and  an "indumentis" (clothing) relic of St. Philomena.  I was torn between the two, but finally decided on St. Therese because I thought the meekness of her "little way" would have a calming effect on the sick man, who has a somewhat gruff disposition. Decision made, I turned to walk away from the cabinet but thought to myself...
"St. Philomena... if it's meant for
your relic to go instead, give me a sign
by knocking like how you're said to
do at Mugnano." **
I don't really know why I second guessed myself and why those words came to mind, but no sooner did I take a step when I heard a gentle and distinct sound... **

"Tap... Tap...."

It emanated from the cabinet beside me!  In complete surprise (and a little fearful, I have to admit), my heart literally stopped beating for a couple of seconds and I quickly turned to face the cabinet's to look at the relic of St. Philomena inside. I quietly waited to listen for more tapping noises but that was it - no more tapping followed. I smiled and thought to myself: "Alright, St. Philomena... I guess it's your relic that's going today!"
The hospital visit that followed went very well.  When I arrived, the patient seemed happy to receive me: I was shocked to see that a large area of his lower left leg was completely black because of the progress of the infection. ***

As we prayed, I sensed in the patient's expression that the healing prayers brought him a measure of peace and overall relief.... and when I explained the story of St. Philomena to the man, as well as the incident about the tapping sounds, he actually chuckled and took the little statue of the Saint that I brought with me into his big hands.  He pressed it gently to his lips several times.  St. Philomena had touched him.
I think our dear St. Philomena has gained another fan here in Hawaii and I'm not surprised.  She really is a lovable little Saint and her aid is indeed potent as her nickname - Powerful with God - suggests.  So now, more than ever, I am strengthened in my devotion to her - in ALL Saints, really.  I know they're alive and active in Heaven with God... and they want nothing more than to interact closely with us in bringing souls to the Love and Mercy of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
May God continue to  be praised and glorified through the lives... the works... and the intercession of his holy ones - the Saints!
** NOTE: It's been reported at St. Philomena's official shrine in Mugnano del Cardinale (Italy), that the Saint sometimes makes her presence known to pilgrims through a knocking sound that originates from her tomb-shrine (above-right photo).

***  UPDATE:  The man's leg ended up showing signs of healing and amputation was no longer considered.  Not long after, the infection in his leg was completely cured; the black color to his skin had gone leaving only a faint dark patch on the leg.  Thank you, Lord... and thank you, St. Philomena! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Psalm 119: A Lenten Call to Serve God Joyfully

Yesterday, on my lunch break, I stopped in at our local Pauline Book Store to browse... then visited their small chapel to spend some time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Being more than a little tired and stressed from work, I wasn’t able to form a coherent prayer, but rather, little pious thoughts popped-up here and there in my brain, in between absent minded wandering. I apologized to Jesus for my lack of focus and asked him if it would be okay for me to just sit there in stillness and keep him company for the few moments that I still had to spare.
After minutes of quiet calm I stood up to leave, but before I did, I headed over to the tabernacle to give it a kiss and walked by a podium where a Bible sat open. I paused and remembered mentally asking the Holy Spirit to “speak” to me through God’s Word, after which my eyes were immediately drawn to a specific Scripture Passage.
At the same time it seemed to me that a voice within my heart spoke and urged, “Pray this…”, so I thoughtfully read and reflected through the words with growing wonder. It seemed as though everything I had wanted to say and ask of Jesus during our brief visit together, but couldn’t express via thoughts or words, were summarized in the few short lines I had just read.
I took a picture of the Bible's page so I could continue to pray the words throughout the day then proceeded to kiss the tabernacle's door before leaving the chapel to return to my office. It was only after I got back to my desk that I learned the Scriptures were from Psalm 119:17-24.
I prayed the Psalm several times over for the rest of the day and felt God’s peace despite my fatigue. The more I prayed it, the more I came to accept it as an invitation from God to humbly and trustfully serve him... and to strive even more to live a faith-filled life so as to come to a time when I would find complete Joy and Freedom in that servitude.  I decided to make it my personal Lenten meditation for 2013. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony's Church, 3/2/2013

My pilgrim statue, veiled in black in
observance of the Lenten Season.
Three Sacred Relics were in our midst as we offered our parish's Rosary for Peace for March 2013.  In addition to the normally present relic of the Blessed Mother's veil, I also brought along a 1st Class (bodily) Relic of this month's featured Saint - St. Arcangelo Tadini (d. 1912) - and since we're in the midst of our Lenten observances, I included a rare pilgrim visit of a relic of the True Cross of Jesus Christ that I also have in my ministry's custody.
Now it's always a joy and a blessing for me whenever we come together for this monthly devotion because the Holy Rosary is offered so fervently and beautifully by those who participate, and the presence of the Holy Spirit and our Blessed Mother is often tangibly felt during the prayer... but this evening two exceptionally wonderful things occurred, which really stood out for me as "signal graces".  
First, it was reported to me by my friend, Dre, that Escarchas had already begun manifesting on her clothing as she drove over from distant Mililani to our parish for the prayer meeting. If that wasn't wonderful enough, at the Mass following the Rosary a friend who came with her also experienced the manifestation of Escarchas on his shirt, while at the same time tiny flakes of gold began appearing on the fingers of both my hands (left photo) and on the pew where we three sat together. We were understandably excited and filled with gratitude towards God for this added blessing from above.
Secondly, I also had the privilege of meeting and praying with a little girl named, "Gabriella" - she's about 6 or 7-years-old and was born with down syndrome. Gabriella and her father visited our Day Chapel and venerated the statue of the Rosa Mystica and the relics present on the display altar. In her innocence, Gabriella grabbed each reliquary and tenderly kissed them as her father knelt beside her with tears freely flowing from his eyes.
I later asked the father if we could pray over his daughter, to which he agreed, so a small group of us gathered around them and prayed aloud for Gabriella. I was immediately overwhelmed with a tremendous sense of Joy, Peace, and Love... which emanated from the little girl as she clutched the reliquary of the True Cross; I knew it was Jesus, himself, who was living in the heart of this innocent child and we were being blessed by Gabriella in a manner greater than any blessing that we were trying to impart on her.  I was humbled by the experience and can still feel the "LOVE", even as I write this posting.
Parishioners venerating Our Lady and
the Relics after our Rosary Prayer.
And so ended another Rosary for Peace at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua. The next monthly prayer will be on Saturday, April 6th, beginning at 4:25pm.  All are most welcomed to participate.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Saint of the Month - March 2013: Saint Catherine of Bologna

St. Catherine (de' Vigri) of Bologna
Fragrant Lily of the Poor Clares
Feast: March 9th

This particular Saint especially interests me because of her designated title as the “Patron Saint of Artists” (I like to draw)… St. Catherine de’ Vigri was born on September 8, 1413, to a noble family from Bologna, Italy. At the age of ten, she was appointed as the Maid of Honor to Princess Margherita from the Royal Court of the Marquis of Ferrara, and was consequently schooled in the fine arts along with her mistress; she excelled in playing the violin and was also an accomplished writer and painter (an example of her painting skills is seen below). Given her privileged status in life, one would have expected her to become worldly, and perhaps even tainted by vanity, but instead she was modest, kind, and charitable... and was genuinely pious in her disposition.

"Let every lover who loves the Lord come
to the dance singing of love..."

- Words of St. Catherine

After the princess was married off, Catherine returned home to her family and announced her intention to enter into religious life at the age of fourteen. Not surprisingly, her parents were opposed to her choice of vocation, but nothing they said or did could break their daughter’s resolve to follow Christ's call. They reluctantly gave her their blessing and Catherine joyfully left home to join a small group of Augustinian Tertiaries in neighboring Ferrara. The early years proved difficult for the young noblewoman as the devil assailed her with severe temptations to quit religious life... but through her deep faith in God and the wise guidance of her spiritual director, Catherine persevered and overcame her spiritual trials.

Prompted by Catherine and the community's confessor, the Augustinian tertiaries set aside their Rule in favor of the more austere Franciscan Rule of the Poor Clares. With the change came an influx of vocations and members of the Ferrara Monastery, including Catherine, were sent to Bologna to found another community of Poor Clare nuns. Catherine was elected Abbess of the new foundation, and under her capable administration, the monastery flourished.  Visitors also began coming to the monastery seeking Catherine's prayers and advice. 

In addition to being a natural leader, our Lord favored Catherine with many exceptional charisms including Ecstasies, Visions, and the gift of working Miracles. Fortunately, she recorded her spiritual insights and experiences in several manuscripts still in existence, the most notable of which was titled, "Treatise on the Seven Spiritual Weapons".  In regards to her visions, one of the most charming stories involved a Christmas visitation during which the Blessed Virgin allowed Catherine to cradle the Christ Child in her arms for a brief period of time. Reportedly, when Our Lady asked for the return of her son, the abbess hesitated for a few moments, so transfixed she was by the heavenly beauty of the infant Jesus.

As for the Saint's miracles, one of the most astounding accounts relates how several nuns were clearing a field one day.  One careless nun accidentally severed another nun's foot with a scythe and their frightful screams attracted the attention of the community including the Abbess.  Catherine calmly picked up the bloody foot and with the sign of the cross miraculously reattached it to the limb!

"The more afflicted we are the more we
ought to rely on aid from above."

- Words of St. Catherine

Catherine’s blessed death occurred on March 9, 1463 - she was only 49-years-old - and the whole city mourned her passing along with the Poor Clares. All were amazed at the appearance of her corpse, which was restored to youthful beauty and emanated a floral scent.  In keeping with the Franciscan tradition of holy poverty, she was buried in the earth with just a shroud to cover her remains.  Soon, there were reports of a sweet fragrance coming from her grave and that cures were occurring there, which prompted the sisters to exhume her body after being in the ground for 18 days - it was found perfectly intact, fragrant, and still flexible. Fresh blood even issued from its foot after one of the nuns had pulled off a piece of loose skin that was hanging from it! 

Today, the body of the saintly abbess continues to remain incorrupt and is reverently enshrined in a sanctuary dedicated to her in Bologna (right photo). Although it has darkened over the centuries due to years of exposure to the heat and soot of countless votive candles, the bodily-relic maintains its inexplicable preservation. The Church officially declared St. Catherine de’ Vigri a Saint in 1712.  May she continue to pray and intercede for all of us. 

A Reflection
God grants every one of us a special talent or gift.  How we choose to use that gift, will either impact the world for the good or the bad.

A Short Prayer
Dear St. Catherine, your many talents in writing, painting, and music brought glory to the Lord and to the Church.  Inspire us to use our own talents and abilities for the greater glory of God, as well.  Amen.