Disclaimer

NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local parish, 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 & Blog Administrator


Monday, November 25, 2019

Monthly Messages from the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: November 2019



Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on November 25th:
   “May this time be a time of prayer for you. Without God you do not have peace. Therefore, little children, pray for peace in your hearts and families, so that Jesus can be born in you and give you His love and blessing. The world is at war because hearts are full of hatred and jealousy. In the eyes, little children, peacelessness is seen because you have not permitted Jesus to be born in your lives. Seek Him, pray, and He will give Himself to you in the Child who is joy and peace. I am with you and I pray for you.  Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on November 2nd:
   “Dear children, my beloved Son always prayed and glorified the Heavenly Father. He always said everything to Him and trusted in His will. This is what you, my children, should also do, because the Heavenly Father always listens to His children. One heart in one heart - love, light and life. The Heavenly Father gave Himself through a human face, and this face is the face of my Son. You, apostles of my love, you should always carry the face of my Son in your hearts and your thoughts. You should always think of His love and His sacrifice. You should pray to always feel His presence, because, apostles of my love, that is the way for you to help all those who do not know my Son, who have not come to know His love. My children, read the book of the Gospel. It is always something new, it is what binds you to my Son who was born to bring the words of life to all of my children and to sacrifice Himself for all. Apostles of my love, carried by the love for my Son, bring love and peace to all of your brothers. Judge no one. Love everyone according to the love for my Son. In this way, you will also be caring for your soul, and it [your soul] is that what is most precious, which truly belongs to you.  Thank you.”

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Saints & Relics Speaking Presentation, 11/24/2019: St. Anthony of Padua Church


My Kailua parish has a terrific R.C.I.A. program. It's lead by two good friends of mine - a couple who have a lot of zeal and love not only for Jesus, but for all that He holds dear, including His special friends - the Saints!  So, on occasion, they will invite this ministry to share about the Saints with those who are beginning their spiritual journey within the Catholic Church.  This morning was another such occasion.


I did my usual talk, summarizing the Church's teaching on Saints and explaining the Sainthood Process.  For the edification of my audience, I also highlighted three holy individuals who are currently going through the canonization process and someone who has already reached the end of it; emphasizing certain characteristics of God or holiness these people were particularly good at representing:

+  Servant of God, Matteo Farina (an Italian youth who died from cancer at only 18-years-old) - JOY; how the joy that results from being a follower of Christ infuses us despite life's many trials.

+  Venerable Matthew Talbot (a recovered alcoholic from Ireland) - the HEALING power of God; how God's love and power heals and transforms us into a new creation.

+  Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa (a mystic & stigmatic from Portugal) - EUCHARIST DEVOTION; truly, the Blessed Sacrament is Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, which nourishes us with life-giving grace!

+  Saint Marguerite D'Youville (the Canadian foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Montreal) - FAITH; how faith fortifies us against all adversities and inspires us to accomplish much good in our personal lives and the lives of others.

And, of course, several relics were a part of the presentation...

Relics on display (from Left to Right): Bl. Alexandrina Maria da Costa,
St. Bernadette of Lourdes, a splinter from the True Cross, & St. Marguerite D'Youville.

At the end of it all, I think the R.C.I.A. group got the gist of the message I was trying to convey: God's desire is for us to become holy; Saints confirm it's possible.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Saint of the Month - November 2019: Blessed Elizabeth Achler


Bl. Elizabeth Achler
Woman of goodness ~ Memorial: November 25th

“Good Betha” was the popular nickname given to this month’s featured holy person by people who knew her, which says a lot about her character while she lived on earth.  For, indeed, she was a very holy woman – a soul who was charitable and kind; sacrificial; gifted with extraordinary charism such as Ecstasies, Visions, Prophecies, and Stigmata... yet, outside of her country of Germany,  she's barely known.

Her baptismal name was Elizabeth Achler and she was born in the German town of Waldsee on November 25, 1386. Her parents were poor weavers and, like most chosen souls, she was deemed pious from her early childhood.  If I recall correctly, one biography I read described her as becoming a Franciscan Tertiary at 14 and already practicing a high degree of virtue under the guidance of a spiritual director - an Augustinian priest named, Fr. Konrad Kugelin.  At the time she lived with another, older tertiary in a small house and, together, they supported themselves through weaving.

Bl. Elizabeth received the Stigmata.
At aged 17, Elizabeth along with four other tertiaries were selected to become the founding members of a monastery in Reute established by Fr. Konrad.  They lived under the Rule of the Third Order Franciscans.  Although details about her life in the English language are scarce, what little information I was able to gather about Elizabeth speaks volumes of her sanctity.

In the new monastery, the Beata was assigned to kitchen duties and also as the community's portress, where she soon endeared herself to the poor who came to the gate for alms. At about the same time, the mystical phenomena which was so abundant in her life, began with the onset of ecstasies that left her immobile followed by the appearance of bleeding wounds in her hands, feet, side, and around her head. The other nuns were initially split about their opinion of her with some believing in her sanctity, while others viewed her with suspicion.

As her spiritual gifts escalated, Elizabeth craved more and more solitude, preferring to withdraw herself from the others to the point where she seemed like a hermit rather than a member of a community.  The voluntary isolation provided the mystic with discretion in her practice of self-mortification and strict fasting... and to meditate more keenly on the Passion of Christ, her key devotion.  Sublime visions were also added to her list of charisma while the bleeding Stigmata continued intermittently on Fridays.

Elizabeth's prolonged fasting eventually evolved into a complete and supernatural abstinence from food (Inedia) that's often mentioned in connection with her hagiography.  Her case of Inedia has the distinction of being one of the earliest examples in the history of the Church of someone who subsisted on just the Eucharist alone.  She did so for the last twelve years of her life.

It’s apparent Elizabeth's vocation was to be a full-fledged victim-soul, which also entailed another responsibility for her – assisting the Poor Souls in Purgatory.  Souls undergoing purification in the afterlife were allowed by the Lord to visit her - to ask her prayer on their behalf - to which she always acceded, making her a prolific advocate of the Holy Souls. 

Towards the end of her life, Bl. Elizabeth contracted a severe skin condition - some sources say it was leprosy - which she endured with peace and patience, as yet another cross to bear for the expiation of sin.  She died on her 34th birthday on November 25, 1420.

The tomb of Bl. Elizabeth the Good enclosing her bones in the parish church of Reute.

By the time she passed away, Elizabeth was already revered by her religious sisters, and by the people of Reute and the surrounding towns.  As a result, Good Betha's tomb became a popular place of pilgrimage where cures and other favors were reported.  The Church affirmed the deceased nun's cultus by beatifying Elizabeth Achler in 1766.  Today, her precious remains are still highly venerated in the parish church of Reute.

May the Lord be pleased to grant the Universal Church the speedy Canonization of his spouse, Bl. Elizabeth, known as "the Good"... for His greater glory and the edification of all souls.  Amen.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Places of Prayer & Wonder in the Philippines


I just returned from an extended vacation in the Philippines, where I not only had the pleasure of spending time with relatives I hadn't seen in decades, but I was also able to visit three special places of prayer. All three are in the province of Batangas and my experiences at each place will stick with me for the rest of my life!


+ LIPA:  Carmel Monastery & Church of Mary the Mediatrix of All Grace

       
The magnificent Carmel Church of Lipa in Batangas.

Here, at this Carmelite monastery complex, the Blessed Virgin appeared at least 15 times in 1948 to a then-postulant named, Sr. Teresita Castillo - Mary called herself the Mediatrix of All Grace.

Me, in the side-chapel of the Mediatrix of All Grace in the church.  The statue
pictured was seen to move during the time of these visitations in 1948.

Our Lady came as a woman of incomparable beauty; garbed in a simple white robe and veil; holding a golden rosary; emitting a floral fragrance and standing on a small pillow-like cloud. The bulk of the apparitions occurred near a vine in the monastery's garden where the main message of Lipa was received by Sr. Teresita on September 16th, 1948:

"Pray, my child. The people do not heed my words. Tell my daughters (the other nuns) that there will be persecutions, unrest, and bloodshed in your country. The enemy of the Church will try to destroy the faith which Jesus established and died for. The Church will suffer much.

Pray for the conversion of sinners throughout the world. Pray for those who rejected me and those who do not believe and trust me. Spread the meaning of the Rosary, because this will be the instrument for peace throughout the world. Tell the people that the Rosary must be said with devotion.

Propagate the devotion of my Immaculate Heart. Do penance for priests and nuns. But be not afraid, for the love of my Son will soften the hardest of hearts and my motherly love will be their strength to crush the enemies of God.

What I ask here is the same I asked at Fatima."

At the shrine complex, one is able to look down from a 2nd floor chapel balcony into
the cloistered monastery's garden where most of the apparitions took place.

At the time of the apparitions many signs were witnessed by the nuns and countless pilgrims to the monastery: the sun danced; the statue carved to represent the apparition came to life; cures occurred; and rose petals - many imprinted with holy images - materialized out of thin air to "rain" down upon the people.


Top:  Rose petals from Lipa, gifted to me by an Aunt
from the Philippines; she said they "fell from the sky".
The larger petal still bears a faint image of Our Lady
of Lourdes and St. Bernadette.

Bottom-Left:  A closer view of the miraculous statue in
Lipa and a 28" replica of it I treated myself to from the
shrine's gift store (right). 

        

I left this sacred place imbued with its holiness and spiritual power; a major highlight of my vacation!

"Do not fear my daughter.  He who loves
above all things has sent me."

~ Words of Our Lady to Sr. Teresita, 1948


+ MONTE MARIA:  Shrine & Monument to Our Lady, the "Mother of All Asia" 

Our Lady's statue towers above Monte Maria and the
Church of the Santo Nino on the same mountain.

Approximately an hour's drive away from Lipa is the Shrine of the Mother of All Asia, which features a 322 feet high statue of Our Lady. It's supposed to be the tallest statue of the Holy Mother, to-date, in the world... and it stands atop a mountain-side called Monte Maria ("Mary's Mountain"), facing a breathtaking view of Batangas Bay.

              

Scenes from Monte Maria and a great panoramic
view of Batangas Bay down below...


Although the exterior of the Marian tower appears completed, the interior is still under construction so I wasn't able to climb to the top of the monument. However, a finished chapel exists within the base of the statue where Mass is regularly offered (see below).


More information about this impressive shrine can be found here.


+ The "MOUNTAIN OF SALVATION":  Prayer Garden & Hermitage of the Mother of Love, Peace, & Joy

              
Scenes from the Shrine of the Mother of Love, Peace,
& Joy at Monte Maria.

On Monte Maria but a short walking distance away is another site of alleged heavenly visitations - a place of prayer connected to the purported Filipina visionary/stigmatic, Emma de Guzman, from New Jersey, USA. Emma co-founded the La Pieta International Prayer Group and has the tacit support of several bishops in the USA and Philippines. In fact, the hermitage complex was constructed under the approval and oversight of the local bishop of Lipa.

"I desire this place where I visit my children to be a Garden of Prayer.  This place will bring you peace in your heart, because I am with you in prayer as well as the saints and angels."

~ Words of Our Lady to Emma, 12/2018

Although Emma claimed experiencing mystical charism since 1991, she only first saw the Blessed Virgin on Monte Maria in December 2015. Our Lady supposedly appears to Emma under the title of Mother of Love, Peace, and Joy; dressed in a white gown with a gold-colored sash and veil.

From the prayer garden one can see the Mother of All Asia
statue in the distance, higher up Monte Maria. 

More apparitions of Mary and various saints occurred on Monte Maria each time Emma visited the site on September 8th (Feast of Mary's Nativity) and December 8th (Feast of the Immaculate Conception) during subsequent years. As a result of these events, a pilgrimage developed at the site with the primary focus being a large Pieta monument and a fenced-in shrine marking the exact spot where the Virgin appears.

This is where the Madonna allegedly appears to Emma. The Saints who often accompany her are represented by statues: the Little Flower, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Maddalena dei Pazzi, St. John the Apostle, St. Peregrine Laziosi, & St. Faustina.

My overall personal impression of the Mountain of Salvation shrine was positive - I felt deep peace while praying there, and because of the local church's support for Emma, I left the site with an attitude of cautious openness to the events allegedly taking place there.

“You are my garden, dear children. I want you all to make my garden beautiful. Pray and have peace in your hearts. Chaos is everywhere. The Church is being attacked and priests are being persecuted; some because of their own mistakes.  Please pray for them.”

~ Words of Our Lady to Emma, 12/2018

For those interested in learning more about Emma de Guzman, the La Pieta Prayer Group, and this beautiful place of pilgrimage, click here.

A prayer composed by the seer, Emma.

If you ever find yourself in the Philippines, I highly recommend visits to these special places of prayer and devotion in Batangas.  From Manila to Lipa, it's only about a 2-hour drive but it'll be well-worth your time.  You will be blessed.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

A Soul Rises Up!


I recently had another curious experience that I need to write about because it has to do with the Holy Souls; I couldn't pass up another opportunity to encourage devotion to them.


So, as most of us cradle-Catholics know, November is the month when we pay extra-special attention to the deceased. On the first day of this month we honored all the inhabitants of Heaven on All Saints Day... and, on the day after, we celebrated All Souls Day praying for the dead in the hope that, any who are saved but undergoing painful purgatory, will be relieved by our prayer (especially loved ones). Still, there are devout people out there who continue this beautiful spiritual discipline all throughout November as a special devotion.

I highly recommend having devotion to the Poor Souls to all who will read this post because praying for them benefits us, as well... and not just in a manner that's spiritually meritorious in the Lord's eyes.  Allow me to elaborate...

For me, I pray for the Souls in Purgatory, daily, by offering at least one Divine Mercy Chaplet on their behalf and my Holy Communions. In particular, I pray for the souls of my ancestors and present-time relatives who've passed on. I sense that as the piles of "residue" of my ancestors' sins are "burned" away, there's a measure of healing that's also entering into the lives of their descendants... who would be us. It's all part of the interesting concept of "generational healing" of family sins and curses that's coming into the limelight within the Church.

Pleading the Precious Blood of Christ upon
the Poor Souls is particularly effective.

Anyhow, I've been seriously fascinated with the idea of healing my family tree for a few years now and it has added a whole other dimension to my own devotion to the Poor Souls. I not only just pray for them but I now also pray to the Lord to extend their purification to myself and my living relatives... and I've noticed positive differences in my own life and the lives of my siblings.  It's true.

Now going back to the original topic of praying for the deceased during November, something strange happened that prompted the title of today's blog. I'm currently on a trip taking lots of photos and, while reviewing pics on my cellphone, I came across a single image I don't recall taking... and I'm puzzled as to how it got in my phone. It's quite striking, actually, because there appears to be a ghostly figure in it.  See for yourself in the photo below.


After praying to discern the meaning behind the photo, the strong impression that came to me was that it was an extraordinary confirmation - a little sign from God - of a soul of one of my ancestors rising out of his/her purgation. The soul is clearly discernible as a human form, floating upwards towards a brilliant light, which happens to be at the very center of a large white cross.  The imagery is highly appropriate, wouldn't you agree?

Whatever the case, the photo gave me much joy after initial goosebumps. I was happy a soul is now free of its purification and on its way to be in the loving presence of God.  Thank you, Lord!

So please pray for the Holy Souls, too, and not just during November... and try asking for extended purification upon yourself and your living family members.  You'll start to see positive results happening in your own lives.

Grant unto them,
Lord, eternal rest and let
perpetual light shine upon
them.  May they rest in
peace.  Amen.