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

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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

Dear Children...

Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on September 25th:
   "Dear children! Also nature extends signs of its love to you through the fruits which it gives you. Also, you, by my coming, have received an abundance of gifts and fruits. Little children, how much you have answered to my call, God knows. I am calling you - it is not late - decide for holiness and a life with God, in grace and in peace. God will bless you and give to you a hundred-fold, if you trust in Him.  Thank you for having responded to my call.

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on September 2nd:
   "Dear children, my words are simple but are filled with motherly love and care. My children, all the more the shadows of darkness and deception are being cast over you, and I am calling you to the light and truth - I am calling you to my Son. Only He can transform despair and suffering into peace and clarity; only He can give hope in the deepest pain. My Son is the life of the world. The more that you come to know Him - the more that you come close to Him - all the more you will love Him, because my Son is love. Love changes everything; it makes most beautiful also that which, without love, seems insignificant to you. That is why, anew, I am saying to you that you must love a lot if you desire to grow spiritually. I know, apostles of my love, that it is not always easy, but, my children, also the painful paths are paths which lead to spiritual growth, to faith, and to my Son. My children, pray - think of my Son. In all the moments of the day, raise your soul to Him, and I will gather your prayers as flowers from the most beautiful garden and give them as a gift to my Son. Be true apostles of my love; spread the love of my Son to everyone. Be gardens of the most beautiful flowers. With your prayers help your shepherds that they may be spiritual fathers filled with love for all people.  Thank you."

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

St. Lorenzo Ruiz Novena & Speaking Presentation

This evening marked the first day of my parish's annual novena to St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first native Saint of the Philippines.  There's a large community of us Filipinos in Kailua's St. Anthony of Padua Church and, for the past five years, a group of them have been organizing this novena.  The 9-day observance of special prayer culminates on St. Lorenzo's September 28th Feast Day with a Mass and a fiesta potluck.

This year my priest wanted to do something different and invited me to speak about the life of the Filipino Martyr so as to familiarize participants with his life and sacrifice.  For those not familiar with St. Lorenzo, he was a Tagalog native from Manila - a married layman - who traveled to Japan in 1636 with a small group of missionary priests.  Their timing could not have been any worse since they arrived in Okinawa at the height of Japan's persecution of Christians.

It goes without saying that Lorenzo and his companions ended up captured and were imprisoned for over a year before finally being tried in Nagasaki.  Despite repeated torture and bribes to abandon the Faith, he refused to deny his belief in Jesus.  As a  result, he was tightly bound with rope and hung upside down, while he slowly bled to death from small cuts made to his forehead.  It was a horrific way to die, but he persevered in the Faith until the end.

Left to Right: Novena participants
lining up for a procession into the Day
Chapel and statues of St. Lorenzo
displayed for veneration. 

Lorenzo Ruiz and 15 other martyrs of Nagasaki were all canonized in October 1987 to the joy and pride of the Filipino people.  Consequently, St. Lorenzo's Feast is celebrated not only in his homeland, but also in communities around the world where Filipino Catholics have a presence, which means a lot of parishes since us Filipinos are all over the place!  Kailua is no exception.

As already mentioned, the novena at my parish is being observed each evening for the next nine days.  The prayer service begins at 7:00pm in the Day Chapel and includes daily prayers and the Rosary.  All are welcomed (non-Filipinos, too).  St. Lorenzo Ruiz, pray for us!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Saint of the Month - September 2018: Saint Therese Couderc

 St. Therese Couderc
 Apostle of God's Goodness
Feast: September 26th

The featured Saint this month is another great mystic of our Catholic Faith, but she remains largely unknown outside of her home-country of France.  Her birth name was Marie-Victoire Couderc ("Victoire"), but today she's better known as St. Therese Couderc, the founder of the Congregation of Our Lady of the Retreat in the Cenacle - or simply called the Sisters of the Cenacle - which is still active world-wide in countries such as the USA, Australia, Ireland, Italy, Philippines, and of course, France.

Born in the French hamlet of Le Mas in February 1805, Victoire was the fourth child out of twelve children.  Her parents were pious and imparted in their children the basics of their Catholic Faith.  The youthful Victoire, in particular, was highly devoted to the Mass and she had the joy of making her First Holy Communion on the Feast of Pentecost in May 1815 when she was 10-years-old.  

From 1822 to 1825, our Saint spent time in a boarding school in Vans until her father recalled her home to be closer to the family.  Her mother had also just given birth, which was probably a big factor in her father's decision to have her return.  However, things did not turn out as Mr. Couderc had intended.  During Lent of 1825, the family attended a mission given by a Fr. Stephen Terme, which inspired Victoire to confide in him her hidden and growing desire to serve God.

It just so happened that Fr. Terme had recently founded a small group of teaching nuns called the Sisters of St. Regis.  Sensing Victoire's sincerity, the priest accepted her into his fledgling congregation to the dismay of the young woman's parents.  The persuasive duo of priest and religious aspirant managed to win over the family and permission was granted for Victoire to take leave for the novitiate in the village of La Louvesc.

In this mountainous town of La Louvesc, there was also the Shrine of the Jesuit Saint, St. John Francis Regis (d. 1640), which was a popular place of pilgrimage.  At times the town experienced such a large inundation of pilgrims, the hotels would be overcrowded with visitors.  Seeing a need for it, Fr. Terme and the Sisters of St. Regis opened a hostel to house the overflow of pilgrims.  In time the hostel, too, became overcrowded... and this is when Victoire - now a new nun named Sr. Therese - discerned the need for change.

Another photo of St. Therese Couderc.
Seeing how the influx of men in the hostel would sometimes lead to unruly behavior, it concerned Sr. Therese when it came to the safety and well-being of the women guests.  She persuaded Fr. Terme to allow only women to stay in the hostel and, in addition, she was instrumental in implementing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, as a condition for the pilgrims to board in their establishment.  Thus, the women were provided with an avenue to deepen their faith experience while on pilgrimage in La Louvesc; at the time, it was a novel concept.

So with the innovative changes put forth by Sr. Therese the hostel was effectively transformed from being just a mere inn run by the Sisters of St. Regis to an actual retreat house - a cenacle of prayer, reflection, and spiritual growth.  The retreats were a big hit and, after further discernment, Sr. Therese and Fr. Terme decided to co-found a completely new congregation to address the growing interest in the cenacle movement.  In 1826, the Sisters of the Cenacle was born and Sr. Therese was designated as its first superior in 1828.

The new congregation was quick to expand and, for the most part, things ran smoothly for Mo. Therese and the Cenacle Sisters until 1838, when an ambitious sister plotted to usurp the superior.  Accused of mismanaging the finances of the congregation, the local bishop forced Therese to resign from leadership and replaced her with a novice who came from an educated background.  In a few months, this new superior proved to be inept and was replaced by the Bishop with another sister, who, for some reason, made a concerted effort to humiliate Mo. Therese and efface her role as founder of the congregation.

Mo. Therese was at first assigned the most menial tasks and close contact between her and the other nuns was restricted so as to limit any influence she had with them.  She was then transferred to the more remote houses of the congregation to further erase any memory of her.  On her part, the former superior responded in a manner that would seem strange to the average person - she never complained, but instead she accepted her lot as being the will of God for her; she was ever-obedient to her new superiors; she maintained quiet humility in the face of poor treatment.  The whole situation served to purify her soul, resulting in further spiritual growth and mystical favors.

One of the most profound experiences Mo. Therese had occurred sometime in 1866 and it left an indelible mark on her.  She had a life-changing vision in which she saw everything that God ever created - living and inanimate, rational or not - "stamped" with the word GOODNESS emblazoned in letters of gold.  Through this vision, the Saint saw and recognized, in a mysterious way, the innate goodness present in all creation and how everything the Lord made is a source of tremendous blessing.  She was filled with immense awe and gratitude.

Other extraordinary experiences recorded of this Saint included her mystical participation in the Lord's agony in the garden of Gethsemane on Thursday evenings.  It was apparent at this point that she was called to be a victim-soul, who suffered in union with Jesus.  At the time Mo. Therese began to undergo this grace, she had already gone deaf... so when the tremendous moral desolation that Christ endured came upon her in the chapel, her pitiable lamentations were heard by all in the house without her realizing it.

In early 1885, while based in the Cenacle of Lyon, the Saint was incapacitated by a mysterious illness and could no longer leave her bed.  She reported visits from the Poor Souls who surrounded her bed in large crowds, begging for her prayers on their behalf.  She was generous in offering her suffering for them.

The tomb of St. Therese Couderc in the
Cenacle of La Louvesc, which encloses a
wax figure of the Saint and her relics. 

Mo. Therese died on September 26th, 1885, at the ripe ol' age of 80.  As the superiors who were hostile to her died, Therese's reputation in the congregation was slowly rehabilitated as her spiritual writings came to light and the truth about her role as the congregation's founder surfaced; the nuns came to realize that she had been a Saint among them all along.  In addition, cures were reported at her tomb, which resulted in the opening of her Cause for Canonization in 1927.

Mo. Therese Couderc was Beatified in 1951 and declared a Saint on May 10, 1970.  May she pray for our personal needs and the needs of the Universal Church - St. Therese, pray for us!

A Short Prayer
O Lord, open our eyes to your goodness present in all people; in all creatures; in all things... and help us to always be grateful.  Amen.