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, January 26, 2014

Holy Relic Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 1/26/2014

Last night's gathering of Our Lady Fatima Prayer Group was very emotional, yet invigorating and filled with hopeful anticipation. One of our regular members - "Auntie Lita" - recently learned that a cancer she had returned after she was in remission for 18 months. Heartfelt prayers were offered for healing and I ask readers to please pray for her, too.

In addition, we were thrilled to have new visitors join us - two high school-aged nieces of our hosts - and they genuinely seemed to have taken the prayer meeting to heart, which gave me a tremendous sense of hope in regards to our generally misguided youth.  We prayed that the spiritual seeds that were planted in their hearts will take root and bear much positive fruit in their young lives... and perhaps, we'll see them again soon.

Our Saint of the Month also left an impression on us. For January, I chose to share about Bl. Maria Repetto (d. 1890), a little-known Italian nun from Genoa, who served as her convent's humble doorkeeper. I love her "brand" of holiness because it's the type that any one of us can easily aspire to. Bl. Maria attained sanctity through the consistent practice of charity and love, fortified by a deep prayer life, which she joyfully displayed towards the Genoese community; sometimes it was through the simple act of lending an ear to their concerns... or offering a prayer on their behalf; little gestures that eventually added up to a lasting legacy of holiness.  Very inspirational!

Lastly, encouraged by Bl. Maria Repetto's strong devotion to St. Joseph - who she often turned to for help and obtained many remarkable cures on behalf of others - I took the opportunity to also bring my ministry's relic of St. Joseph's cloak to pay the foster-father of Christ special honor.  It was only recently that I developed a deep devotion to this Saint... but I've quickly learned why so many holy people in the Church loved him - good ol' St. Joseph is not only a great role-model for all of us, but he is also a powerful intercessor before the throne of God (seriously, he is... ask him for help and you'll see it for yourself!).  

Holy Relics on display during our Rosary Prayer Meeting:
St. Joseph ("Ex Pallio"/Cloak) & Bl. Maria Repetto ("Ex Ossibus/Bone)

After the prayers ended, the evening continued with our usual potluck and an impromptu, friendly game of cards (Trumps!), which added to our lighthearted celebration.  Our members left the Gruber home with a large measure of peace, despite the news of our member's affliction... and looking forward to our Christian fellowship at the next month's meeting.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Monthly Messages from the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: January 2014

Happy, Blessed New Year!

Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on January 25th:
   “Dear children! Pray, pray, pray for the radiance of your prayer to have an influence on those whom you meet. Put the Sacred Scripture in a visible place in your families and read it, so that the words of peace may begin to flow in your hearts. I am praying with you and for you, little children, that from day to day you may become still more open to God’s will.  Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana on January 2nd:
   “Dear children; for you to be able to be my apostles and to be able to help all those who are in darkness, to come to know the light of the love of my Son, you must have pure and humble hearts. You can not help for my Son to be born in, and to reign in, the hearts of those who do not know Him, if He does not reign – if He is not the King – in your heart. I am with you. I am walking with you as a mother. I am knocking on your hearts. They can not open because they are not humble. I am praying, and you my beloved children also pray, that you may be able to open pure and humble hearts to my Son and to receive the gifts which He has promised you. Then you will be led by the love and strength of my Son. Then, you will be my apostles who everywhere around them spread the fruits of God’s love. My Son will act from within you and through you, because you will be “one”. My motherly heart yearns for this – for unity of all of my children – through my Son. With great love I bless, and pray for those who are chosen by my Son – for your shepherds.  Thank you.”

Sunday, January 5, 2014

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 1/4/2014

My pilgrim statue of the Mystical Rose,
displayed in its usual spot in our parish's
Day Chapel.  The statue's face appeared
soft and "dewy" during the prayers. 

My parish's very first Rosary for Peace in 2014... it wasn't just special for that reason, but I think many of us who participated were effected somehow by the "aura" of blessedness and peace that was present in our Day Chapel while we prayed; a tangible sensation that I've mentioned several times in past blog-postings about my parish's First Saturday Rosary Devotion... but can't adequately explain; one just has to experience it.

The prayer meeting was well-attended by the regular participants, as well as by guests from other parishes, which is always very nice.  Our "Saint of the Month" for January was a little-known Blessed from Valencia, Spain - Juana Maria Condesa Lluch (d. 1916) - who founded the Congregation of the Handmaids of Mary Immaculate in the mid-1900s to spiritually and morally assist the factory workers of her day, who were exploited and demoralized during the Spanish Industrial Revolution.  Through her holy example, we were reminded that we, too, are capable of making a positive difference in the lives of needy people around us; definitely a good lesson for us to receive for the beginning of the new year.

At the prayer meeting, I shared about
the life of Bl. Juana Maria Condesa Lluch,
a Spanish foundress.  A Holy Relic from her
bones was also displayed for the people
to view and venerate.

If the feeling of complete peace wasn't special enough, after the Rosary Meeting ended I headed over to the Vigil Mass in the main church with my friend, Dre', who drove all the way from Mililani... and we were both surprised to discover her arms and blouse sprinkled with silver escarchas! Shortly after, the little flakes of shiny manna began manifesting in both my palms, too... and also in the palms of another friend - Luisa - sitting next to me, who had also prayed the First Saturday Rosary.  We all felt blessed in a special way, but Luisa appeared profoundly affected by the phenomenon she witnessed firsthand.  The short video below captures the appearance of escarchas on my friend's right forearm as we sat for the Mass (note the bright sparkles in various places of her skin).

The next Rosary for Peace will be prayed in our Day Chapel on Saturday, February 1st.  All are welcome to participate in our prayer for peace and to seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother and the Saints for whatever personal needs you may have.  We hope to see you there!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Looking back at 2013: Prophetic Mysticism in the Spotlight?

I was sitting around in my room a couple of days ago, reflecting on events that occurred in the world and in the Church this past year... when it slowly dawned on me that 2013 was really a year of immense prophetic and mystical significance; the biggest event, of course, being the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis on March 13, 2013. I think most of us Catholics were surprised and left a little apprehensive when this unexpected event occurred.

Two Pontiffs for our times: Pope Emeritus
Benedict XVI (left) and Pope Francis, our
current Holy Father.

In regards to this historical development with the Papacy, it was made even more intriguing with the release of statements purportedly made by the Pope Emeritus, Benedict, claiming he had stepped down because "God told him to" after a personal "mystical experience" that wasn't elaborated on (read one of the news articles here). What quickly followed was the election of Pope Francis, who himself admitted to having his own special moment of enlightenment before he accepted the sublime office of Bishop of Rome.  The fact that he was elected on the 13th day of the month - a day that figures prominently in Marian Devotion - also struck me, as symbolic, because the man apparently loves the Virgin Mary.

The choice of the name "Francis", itself, was highly prophetic, as the new Pope has an evident affinity with the poor, like his namesake - the great St. Francis of Assisi (d. 1226)... and there seems to be a general sense of excitement and hopeful anticipation that Pope Francis will reinvigorate the Church - like how St. Francis did in his own lifetime - and lead the Church in the direction that she needs to go in this day and age.

The new Pope easily, and comfortably, displays
public affection towards all his spiritual
children in Christ, young and old.

So far, the Pontiff seems to be doing a great job - preferring to forego elaborate traditions and ceremonial etiquette - for a humble, hands-on approach in his public ministry with the Faithful. Yes, he has his detractors... but in the short time he has been in office, Pope Francis has already endeared himself to many Catholics and even non-Catholics, and garnered lots of media coverage for his public displays of paternal love and affection, especially towards those who are most ostracized in the world. Personally, I love the man - as a Catholic, I can easily relate to him as my spiritual "papa" because he behaves like a loving father; what a Pope should be to all God's people. Plus, Pope Francis' style of doing, rather than just merely talking, is quite frankly - refreshing and inspiring - and exactly what we need right now in a leader; he's bringing credibility back to the Church, as the institution truly founded by Jesus Christ to deliver his Gospel Message of LOVE, MERCY, CHARITY, JUSTICE, and PEACE to all nations.  But it's still early on into this new Papacy so we'll see if these positive developments continue.  I'm hoping and praying they do.

... and does anyone recall the "great vision" of St. John Bosco (d. 1888) concerning these modern times? The Saint envisioned the embattled barque of the Catholic Church sailing through enemy-filled waters until it was safely anchored between the protective pillars of the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin (right photo). As already mentioned, Pope Francis has a strong and highly visible devotion to Our Lady; he even consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary this past October 13, 2013 using the official Fatima statue as a focal point... but it's also clear that he has a deep love for the Mass and the Eucharist.  Positive signs, indeed.

In addition, another thing that struck me about last year was the unusual number of Mystics - 6 Stigmatized women (read about the significance of the Stigmata/Stigmatics here- whose Causes for Canonization were either opened by their respective dioceses or advanced in some way. They died decades ago and lived in relative obscurity, but it's as though the Lord is now trying to draw attention to them at this particular time in history; more precisely, to the urgent, prophetic messages that their lives represented. True Stigmatics are heaven-sent during eras when the world is especially distant from God and evil appears to have the upper hand.  Isn't that the situation today? 

Anyhow, I don't believe anything ever happens by chance... so perhaps now is the God-appointed time for these exceptional individuals to be recognized for their sanctity, while at the same time leading more lost souls out of darkness and to Christ, via their shining faith-witness. Below is a list of the Mystics who were in the spiritual spotlight in 2013.  It was truly a year for Stigmatics!

Two Causes for Canonization opened in 2013

The new Servant of God, Anna Tomanova...
and a close view of her hands, wounded with
the Stigmata of Christ.

+ Anna Tomanova (d. 1957) ~ Paralyzed lay-mystic from the Czech Republic who was not only favored with Stigmata... but she also received the spiritual gifts of Healing and Prophecy. Her tiny cottage was visited by many pilgrims who sought her prayers and advice. Anna Tomanova's Cause for Canonization was opened in December 2013.

The Servant of God, Sr. Marie Margaretha
of the Angels; a Discalced Carmelite nun
from the Netherlands.

+ Sr. Marie Margaretha of the Angels (d. 1658) ~ Foundress and member of the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Oirschot, Netherlands. After her death, her body remained miraculously preserved and issued a fragrant oil (manna), which effected cures.  Sr. Marie Margaretha's Cause for Canonization was opened in March 2013.

Three Beatifications advanced in 2013

The recently Beatified lay-mystic, Bl. Maria
Bolognesi, of Rovigo, Italy.  To the right is a
photo of the ring she received fr0m Christ,

+ Bl. Maria Bolognesi (d. 1980) ~ Layperson of the diocese of Adria-Rovigo; she was physically harassed and possessed by the devil in her teen years before she was completely liberated by an exorcism. The Lord later invited her to become a victim-soul for sinners, which she generously accepted. Jesus favored her with the Mystical Marriage during which this mystic received a visible gold ring bearing the image of the Holy Face. Bl. Maria Bolognesi was Beatified by the Catholic Church on September 14, 2013.

The soon-to be Beatified foundress,
Madre Maria Esperanza of Jesus.

+ Ven. Madre Maria Esperanza of Jesus (d. 1983) ~ Foundress of the Congregations of the Handmaids of Merciful Love and the Sons of Merciful Love, based in Collevalenza, Italy. She was stigmatized in just one hand and received other mystical gifts, including Levitation. A miracle attributed to Madre Maria Esperanza's intercession was approved in July 2013 and her Beatification is yet to be scheduled.

The soon-to-be Beatified nun, Sr. Miriam
Teresa Demjanovich; an American girl,
which I find quite refreshing!

+ Ven. Sr. Miriam Teresa Demjanovich (d. 1927) ~ Professed religious of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, based in Convent Station, New Jersey, USA. Favored with heavenly graces from her youth, she also wore an invisible crown of thorns; her edifying spiritual writings are compiled under a book called, "Greater Perfection". A miracle attributed to Sr. Miriam Teresa's intercession was approved in December 2013 and her Beatification is yet to be scheduled.

A Mystic's Special Canonization in 2013

The recently Canonized lay-mystic,
St. Angela of Foligno.

+ St. Angela of Foligno (d. 1309) ~ Lay-member of the Secular Franciscans; this holy woman lived a deeply penitential life that was favored with visions of our Lord and other sublime mystical gifts, including the Stigmata and Miraculous Fasting. Her many spiritual experiences and teachings were recorded, via dictation by her confessor, and compiled into a document called the "Book of Visions and Instructions".  Significantly, in October 2013, Pope Francis approved the extension of Bl. Angela's cultus for the entire Church, thus effectively Canonizing her without the need for a verified miracle (an "Equipollent Canonization").

Lastly, in the past year, there appeared to have be an increase in reported "miraculous" occurrences. Not so much new Marian Apparitions, but more so of alleged weeping statues/images and Eucharistic Miracles (look at the one below). Even the phenomenon of "Escarchas" seems to have increased around the world in 2013, as evidenced by the growing number of reports.  Check out this interesting website - www.visionsofjesuschrist.com - with its large volume of collected information about weeping images and Escarchas. It's mind-boggling the multitude of signs that Heaven is manifesting in these modern times... but more importantly, all these mysterious events invite us to seriously reflect on their meaning - God's urgent messages and warnings to us - and to respond positively.

A representation of the face of Christ,
allegedly appeared miraculously on a Host
in Vilakkanoor, India, in November 2013.

So what a very interesting year 2013 has been; exciting and full of wonders!  Winds of change are blowing upon the earth.  Whether the changes will prove to be good or bad - or a bit of both - we'll just have to wait and see.  But at the same time, I can't help but feel the presence of the Holy Spirit powerfully moving throughout the Church and the rest of the world, which gives me great hope for 2014... and beyond. Above all things, may the Lord's Divine Will be accomplished and God bless us all.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Saint of the Month - January 2014: Saint Andre Bessette of Montreal

St. Andre Bessette
A Friend of St. Joseph ~ Feast: January 6th

St. Andre came into the world as Alfred Bessette on Aug. 9, 1845; to a large, working-class family near Montreal, Canada.  While still a young boy, his father passed away in a work-related accident and his mother was forced to give up Alfred to an uncle, in order to make ends meet for the rest of his family.  To support himself, Alfred took up various odd jobs prior to applying for admission with the Congregation of the Holy Cross at the age of 25.  He took the religious name of Brother Andre.

A youthful Bro. Andre.
At the Montreal University run by his congregation, Bro. Andre was assigned as the porter.  He greeted visitors, cleaned the offices and ran errands for his superiors.  Inspired by his deep, personal devotion to St. Joseph, the foster father of our Lord, he dreamed of one day establishing a shrine for the Saint atop of Mt. Royal, which faced the school. So with the permission of his superiors, he converted a small shed into a little shrine-chapel, and shortly after, wonderful things began to happen in connection with Bro. Andre and his humble oratory.

When sick pilgrims visited, Bro. Andre would bless them with oil from the lamp which burnt before the statue of St. Joseph and cures often resulted.  News of the healings spread quickly and the trickle of pilgrims became a multitude that overwhelmed the shrine and the neighboring college. The immense distraction from the daily influx of visitors caused Bro. Andre’s superiors to relieve him of some of his regular duties so he could focus more time on the pilgrims, as well as on the upkeep of the growing chapel.

In addition to his apparent gift of healing, God also granted Bro. Andre the ability to read souls and to prophecy so he could better counsel his many visitors.  He often fasted rigorously during the day - eating a simple porridge made from water and flour - while spending his nights in intense prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. During these quiet moments he was sometimes witnessed in ecstasy surrounded by a radiant light.

Although he was granted many supernatural consolations, his life was not without trials. There were many (including some of his religious brethren) who opposed his work and refused to believe in his sincerity. The devil also showed his displeasure towards Bro. Andre by harassing him through frightful apparitions and even physical assaults – Bro. Andre accepted every trial with humility and trust in the Lord, offering all for the conversion of the pilgrims and the success of St. Joseph’s shrine.

The Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal, Canada, that St. Andre founded... and its interior
votive shrine to the most holy and chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Through private donations supplied by pilgrims, Bro. Andre was able to purchase more land on Mt. Royal, and throughout his career as caretaker of the shrine, he continuously expanded the little chapel until it became the world’s largest church dedicated to St. Joseph. Today, a magnificent basilica stands as a testament to the legacy of Bro. Andre, and it remains a popular religious and tourist attraction for the city of Montreal.

Bro. Andre Bessette entered into his eternal reward on Jan. 6, 1937, and was Beatified in May, 1982.  The Church declared him a Saint in October 2010.

A Reflection
God can turn our ‘nothings’ into magnificent ‘somethings’, if we simply surrender our wills to the Lord and place our trust in Him.

A Short Prayer
Dear St. Andre, assist us in having complete confidence in the goodness of God for all our daily needs... and may we also learn to love St. Joseph, as you did, that we may benefit from his powerful intercession now and at the hour of our deaths.  Amen.