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 25, 2018

Monthly Messages from the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: March 2018

Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on March 25th:
   "Dear children! I am calling you to be with me in prayer in this time of grace when darkness is fighting against the light. Pray, little children, confess and begin a new life in grace. Decide for God and He will lead you towards holiness; and the cross will be a sign of victory and hope for you. Be proud that you are baptized and grateful in your heart that you are a part of God’s plan.  Thank you for having responded to my call."

Our Lady's Annual Apparition to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on March 18th:
   "Dear children! My earthly life was simple. I loved and I rejoiced in small things. I loved life - the gift from God - even though pain and sufferings pierced my heart. My children, I had the strength of faith and boundless trust in God's love. All those who have the strength of faith are stronger. Faith makes you live according to what is good and then the light of God's love always comes at the desired moment. That is the strength which sustains in pain and suffering. My children, pray for the strength of faith, trust in the Heavenly Father, and do not be afraid. Know that not a single creature who belongs to God will be lost but will live forever. Every pain has its end and then life in freedom begins there where all of my children come - where everything is returned. My children, your battle is difficult. It will be even more difficult, but you follow my example. Pray for the strength of faith; trust in the love of the Heavenly Father. I am with you. I am manifesting myself to you. I am encouraging you. With immeasurable motherly love I am caressing your souls.  Thank you."

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on March 2nd:
   "Dear children, great are the works that the Heavenly Father has done in me, as He does in all those who love Him tenderly and who faithfully and devoutly serve Him. My children, the Heavenly Father loves you, and it is through His love that I am here with you. He is speaking to you. Why do you not desire to see the signs? Everything is easier alongside Him. Also, pain lived with Him is easier because faith exists. Faith helps in the pain, and pain without faith leads to despair. Pain lived and offered to God raises up. Did my Son not redeem the world through His painful sacrifice? As His mother I was with Him in the pain and suffering, as I am with all of you. My children, I am with you in life, in suffering, in pain, in joy and in love. Therefore, have hope. It is hope that makes you comprehend that life is there. My children, I am speaking to you, my voice is speaking to your soul, my heart is speaking to your heart. Oh, apostles of my love, how much my motherly heart loves you. How many things I desire to teach you. How my motherly heart desires that you be complete, and you can be complete only when your soul, body and love are united within you. I implore you as my children, pray much for the Church and her servants - your shepherds; that the Church may be such as my Son desires - clear as spring water and full of love.  Thank you."

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Speaking Presentation & Holy Relics Presentation: St. Elizabeth Church, 3/21/2018

This evening, I shared the lives and relics of a few Saints with a sizable youth group during "Edge Night" at St. Elizabeth Church, Aiea.  A prayer group-sister of mine helps to mentor the parish's children and teens, and she invited me to their weekly youth night after attending a presentation I did for our local Pauline Bookstore.

As the scheduled time drew closer, I was more apprehensive than usual.  Parents and people who work with kids would understand - young people have short attention spans... but through the grace of God, so far things have worked out smoothly each time I've spoken with kids - I manage to get through my talks without passing out, and most of the youngsters end up genuinely enthused by the presentation, if not highly curious. Whatever the case, they sit quietly and patiently listen to what I have to say... and so it was tonight.

Relics of five young holy persons graced tonight's talk with a youth group. 

Rather than preaching in any way to the Edge-kids, I told them many short stories, instead, from the lives of five youthful Blesseds and Saints ("young faces of holiness"), and showed them lots and lots of photos on the parish's large screen.  As I shared about each young person's holy life, I wove little themes into the stories so the children had something to think about.  For example:

St. Rose of Viterbo  =  Theme: We are all called to be messengers of God's Word to others.  No matter what age we are, we can lead others to Christ in our homes; in our schools; even in the streets, via our words and actions.

+  Bl. Imelda Lambertini  =  Theme: Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist; what a great joy it should be for us to receive His Body & Blood into our own bodies and souls, each time we go to Holy Communion at Mass.   

+  St. Francisco & Jacinta Marto of Fatima  =  Theme: Devotion to Our Lady and the Rosary is important; putting Our Lady's message into practice is another sure way for us to get to Heaven.

Bl. Rolando Rivi  =  Theme: We belong to Jesus and, as such, must be courageous in openly expressing our Faith in the face of hostility and unbelief in today's world. 

At the end of my presentation I emphasized to the children that the Saints are waiting to be their friends; true friends who will guide them through whatever challenges they'll face as they make their way to adulthood.  Judging by their facial expressions, I believe most of the youngsters got something positive out of the talk; not all, but definitely the majority.  In fact, after I finished speaking, a lot of them came up to the display altar to view the relics I brought for them to see.  Most had a look of wonder as they gazed at the reliquaries.  God bless the kids.

Young people and adults gathered for
Saints & Relics Presentation during
the weekly Edge Night at St. Elizabeth Church in Aiea.

... and what I think was another big blessing tonight - totally unexpected - was that a few parents made it a point to attend.  Based on conversations I had with them after, they were also very grateful and impressed by the lives of the young Blesseds and Saints (maybe even more than their children!).  God bless the parents, too.

I left St. Elizabeth Church satisfied that our holy ones had done their thing and touched hearts; planting faith-seeds.  I also got an invite to return, so God and the parish priest willing, the next presentation there will be for the parents.

What a nice surprise!  St. Elizabeth Church
is blessed to have in its custody a relic of St.
Damien!  The relic is a small fragment of
wood from the Saint's original coffin.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

In the Footsteps of Mary & the Saints Presentation: St. Anthony of Padua Church, 3/11/2018

We held yet another event at St. Anthony of Padua Church for the parents and children of our religious education classes, and my ministry was asked to participate by presenting about Mary, the Saints, and bringing relics for the parishioners to see.  I've done these events before and it's always a big personal challenge to get 100+ youngsters engaged and their parents interested, too... and I was running empty on creative ideas.  Feeling uneasy, I again turned to the Holy Spirit for much-needed inspiration... and what He came up with, this time around, exceeded our expectations!

With just about a week left before the scheduled presentation, I was talking to a friend about my lack of a concrete program when during the course of our conversation the plan for this presentation quickly evolved; literally in just under 5 minutes!  It was one of those occasions when the other person mentions something and I respond back... then the other person says something else and I respond again... and before you know it things escalated and a light bulb suddenly went on in my head; I knew exactly what I needed to do.  I tell you - it's the Holy Spirit doing His thing and it's amazing!

So today we started off the family event with a short talk and accompanying slideshow about our Saints, emphasizing their roles as heroes in our Catholic Faith.  I then spoke about Our Lady as the Queen of All Saints due to her unique role in salvation history as the Mother of Jesus Christ; how she continually leads us to God, via what's written about her in Scripture, and even through her approved apparitions. And lastly, how she has inspired many individuals throughout history to eventually become Saints, too.

For examples I highlighted the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, which produced St. Juan Diego; the miracle of Lourdes in France from where St. Bernadette Soubirous began her journey to sanctity; the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima which inspired Sts. Francisco & Jacinta Marto; and finally I spoke about Bl. Solanus Casey who was guided by Mary's voice to join the Franciscan Capuchins in Detroit, Michigan, USA. I stressed that all these individuals are now considered saintly souls not because of their supernatural graces, but rather, they are honored by the Church because each of them put into practice the message Our Lady gave them... and, as such, we can become Saints, too, by doing the same thing.

The four tables, which were decorated to
represent Countries/Shrines.  On each table,
relics of St. Bernadette (Lourdes, France); Our
Lady's veil (Guadalupe, Mexico); Sts. Francisco
Jacinta Marto (Fatima, Portugal); and Bl.
Solanus Casey (Detroit, MI, USA) were
displayed for parishioners to venerate.

After the talk finished, we gave the families a small challenge - to go on pilgrimage to all the holy shrines/persons I spoke about... in our parish hall.  Earlier, our team of catechists had set up and decorated tables in the hall to represent the four countries/shrines the parishioners would visit in order to complete specific "missions".  To make the activity more engaging for the children, we provided them with their own "Pilgrim Passports" on which the missions were indicated for each country/shrine (e.g. the Portugal Table = Visit to the Fatima Shrine and Sts. Francisco & Jacinta clothing relics; Mission: Offer a prayer for world peace).  As a child fulfilled a mission, a "tour guide" (catechist at the table) would stamp the child's passport and, once all four stamps were acquired, the child could then take his/her passport to the Pilgrim Center Table to receive a souvenir Activity Booklet and a goodie bag filled with candies and various sacramentals (e.g. Miraculous Medals and holy cards). The kids went crazy and couldn't wait to get started.

At the end of it all the event was a success on so many levels - the children were so enthusiastic as they traveled from one table to another to collect their stamps and it was highly satisfying to see many of them praying very earnestly in front of the displayed relics... and, as for their parents, most were involved, as well; several took the time to express to me how they enjoyed the talk, while also learning something new along with the youngsters.  Faith-seeds were planted in these families today.

Parishioners making their mini-pilgrimages
to various shrines and relics in our parish hall
to gain stamps in their Pilgrim Passports.

As with all special events we manage to pull off at this parish - presentations, processions, monthly rosaries - I give thanks and credit to God for all it.  In particular, the Holy Spirit deserves extra attention for providing the inspiration for this morning's event; it wouldn't have turned out the way it did without His creative guidance.  May He continue to grace us... and may our Kailua parish continue to thrive!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Saint of the Month - March 2018: Saint Angela of the Cross

St. Angela of the Cross
A Mother to the Poor
Feast: March 2nd

Our Saint for this month is named Angela of the Cross and she was born on January 30, 1846, in Seville, Spain.  Baptized just three days after her birth, she was named Maria de los Ángeles Guerrero y Gonzalez but affectionately called Angelita (little angel).  Her pious family was of modest means with the father, Francisco Guerrero, being a wool carder by profession; the mother, Josefa González, was a seamstress.  The couple had fourteen children, although only six survived past childhood.  Francisco, who was also a cook for a local monastery of Trinitarian friars, died when Angelita was still young, but her mother who was the laundress and seamstress for the same monastery lived into old age.

Angelita received scant school instruction, as was usual at that time among girls in her social class; by the age of 12 she went to work in a shoe-making workshop to contribute to the family income.  She was employed there with brief periods of interruption until the age of 29, under the fortunate care of a highly devout businesswoman who encouraged Angelita and the other workers to pray the rosary together and to read the lives of the Saints.

St. Angela in the early years after
founding her congregation.

At 16, Angelita's employer put her in contact with Fr. José Torres Padilla - a priest in Seville with a reputation for holiness and a candidate for sainthood, himself - after inadvertently coming across the maiden in ecstasy and floating several feet above the ground!  Fr. Jose became her spiritual director and was a major driving influence on her religious vocation.

At the age of 19, Angelita requested entry into a convent of Discalced Carmelites but was not admitted due to her weak health; four years later she tried religious life again by joining the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in which, during her novitiate, she was sent first to serve in a local hospital, and later in Cuenca and Valencia.  At this time, however, the young woman's health unexpectedly declined and she was plagued with chronic vomiting, which eventually forced her to leave the Vincentians.  Curiously, after her departure, the vomiting ceased as mysteriously as it had started, leaving no lasting effects.  She returned to her former job in the shoe shop.

Sometime in 1873, Angelita had a decisive mystical vision in which she saw an empty cross in front of another cross on which Jesus was crucified.  She instinctively understood that Christ was inviting her to sacrifice herself on the empty cross - to be "poor with the poor in order to bring them to Christ", per her own words - and she pronounced private vows of perpetual consecration to God.  She also conceived the idea of founding a new charitable ministry, which she referred to as the "Company of the Cross".

On January 17, 1875, in collaboration with Fr. José Torres and three like-minded companions, Angelita began her life's work.  Using money provided by Josefa Peña, one of the founding members of the fledgling community, they rented their first "convent" - a room in a house on San Luis Street in Seville - from where they originated their brand of charitable service towards the poor.  The women would go out into the community in twos to visit with the sick and the needy; one would attend to the patient at bedside, while the second carried out any domestic work that needed to be done before both returned to their little room.  As the work took shape, the four aspirants took on religious names with Angelita calling herself Sr. Angela de la Cruz, in homage to her earlier vision; the others referred to her simply as Mother Angela.

In 1876, Seville was hit by an epidemic of smallpox and this intensified the efforts made by the Sisters of the Cross to help those afflicted and other less fortunate, bringing their work even greater admiration throughout the city and an influx of members.  In this same year, Mother Angela received the formal permission and blessing of her new congregation by the Archbishop of the diocese, Cardinal Spínola.  From then the work spread rapidly, with the foundress beginning numerous convents located mainly in western Andalusia and the south of Extremadura.  These houses continued Mother Angela's vision of material and spiritual assistance to the poor; the ill and the dying; the homeless; as well as expanding the congregation's outreach to provide care for orphaned children. 

Seeking further security for her congregation, Mother Angela traveled to Rome in 1894, where she personally met Pope Leo XIII, who granted the initial decree for the approval of the company, later signed by Pope Pius X in 1904.

The tomb-shrine of St. Angela of the Cross,
as venerated in Seville, Spain.

After an exemplary life of prayer and outstanding service to the needy, Mother Angela died on March 2, 1932, as a result of a stroke; she was 86-years-old.  People of all social classes mourned her passing and paid her their respect before she was buried in the crypt of her congregation's mother house in Seville.  St. Pope John Paul II declared her a Saint on May 4, 2003, and her precious body is reportedly incorrupt.

Novena to St. Angela of the Cross

God of all goodness,
who illuminated the virgin, St. Angela,
with the wisdom of the cross to recognize
your son, Jesus Christ, in the poor and
forsaken sick; to serve them as a humble
slave.  Condescend to grant us the grace
we ask through her intercession...

[mention your prayer intention]

Inspire in us the desire to follow
St. Angela's example in embracing our
own daily cross in union with Christ
Crucified, and serving our brethren with
love.  We ask you this through Jesus
Christ, your son and our Lord.

[Pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and
a Glory Be in honor of St. Angela]