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


Saturday, January 30, 2021

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words...



This morning... right before Mass at St. John Vianney Church, Kailua, I happened upon this beautiful scene. Many say a picture is worth a thousand words... and, there's also a popular lore about finding treasure at the end of a rainbow.  In this photo, both sayings just happen to be true.

Interestingly, since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the priest for this parish has been diligently hearing confessions every Saturday morning out on the lawn behind the pictured shrine.

Confession and the Immaculate Heart of Mary - treasures, indeed!

Monday, January 25, 2021

Monthly Message of the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: January 25th, 2021



   "Dear children!  I am calling you at this time to prayer, fasting, and renunciation, that you may be stronger in faith.  This is a time of awakening and of giving birth.  As nature, which gives itself, you also, little children, ponder how much you have received. Be joyful bearers of peace and love that it may be good for you on earth.  Yearn for Heaven; and in Heaven there is no sorrow or hatred.  That is why, little children, decide anew for conversion and let holiness begin to reign in your life.  Thank you for having responded to my call."

Monday, January 4, 2021

Apparitions of St. Joseph?


Often enough, these days, we hear of Our Lady appearing somewhere in the world – without a doubt Marian apparitions have dramatically increased in the last century and the Holy Mother’s public apparitions in places such as Lourdes, Fatima, and Medjugorje are familiar to many Catholics… but what about St. Joseph? Well, apparently, he’s appeared, too, on several occasions, for the benefit of God’s people. In fact, his apparitions – usually in the company of his Immaculate Spouse – are seemingly on the increase, leading this author to believe it's St. Joseph’s time to “rise”… and it’s not a farfetched notion in light of how the sacredness and values of the Christian family/household are now being blatantly undermined by a modern society hell-bent on “progress”... but it's all pure insanity!

2021 has been dedicated by the Church
to St. Joseph & the Holy Family!

St. Joseph has long been considered the Patron Saint of the Family by the Church, given how God placed him in the unique and important role as the head and protector of the Holy Family.  This author strongly believes it’s not a coincidence 2021 was declared the Year of St. Joseph and the Holy Family by Pope Francis because the Lord has a way of providentially arranging events... and, at present, our world – our families  urgently needs the faith example, intercession, and paternal protection of this great Saint against the dark forces destroying families.  It’s simply St. Joseph's time.

So in special tribute to the foster father of our Lord, this ministry is pleased to share a few stories of St. Joseph's rare appearances on earth, which readers may find enlightening:


+ COTIGNAC, FRANCE (Church-approved)
On June 7, 1660, atop Mt. Bessillon in the French commune of Cotignac, a 22-year-old youth named, Gaspard Ricard, was herding sheep. It was an extremely hot day and by noon the shepherd had already drank his ration of water when he stopped to rest near a boulder. To his surprise, a tall, stately-looking man appeared out of nowhere, pointed to the large rock and said, “I am Joseph.  Lift the rock and you will have drink.”

Glancing at the nearby boulder, Gaspard was incredulous at seeing how big the rock was and he replied to the Saint that it would be too heavy to lift on his own. In response, St. Joseph only repeated his instruction to “lift the rock” so the young man did as he was told, the second time around, and the boulder easily moved. Where it once rested was revealed fresh, clean water that suddenly began flowing from the spot!  When Gaspard turned to thank the Saint, he had already vanished as mysteriously as he appeared.

Gaspard later reported the apparition and the subsequent discovery of the spring to the townsfolk, which resulted in a spontaneous pilgrimage to Mt. Bessillon.  The water proved to have healing properties as many cures occurred and continue to be reported even to the present time.

Today, a chapel stands at the site of the miraculous fountain of St. Joseph in Cotignac. The water still flows and pilgrims continue to drink of it, along with venerating a hallowed statue of St. Joseph and the Christ Child placed in a niche overlooking the water’s source.

   
The exterior of the shrine of St. Joseph in Cotignac, France.  The source of the miracle
spring is marked by an engraved stone monument (right).


+ KNOCK, IRELAND (Church-approved)
On the cold and rainy evening of Thursday, August 21, 1879 a group of parishioners reported apparitions at the south-facing gable wall of the parish church of Knock. There were 15 official witnesses to the miracle which was comprised of heavenly figures that included Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, several angels… and a Lamb standing on an altar behind which was a large cross. None of the figures spoke for the two hours they remained visible at the site.

According to the witnesses, the apparitions were life-sized 3 dimensional, living persons (not flat, projected images); all were dressed in white and floating in midair about 2 feet off the ground; a brilliant aura of light enveloped the figures and the gable.  Although the apparition was outdoors and it was raining heavily, all the figures remained completely dry while the visionaries were soaked in the downpour.

St. Joseph’s physical appearance was described as a mature gentleman with “iron-grey whiskers”, who stood to the Blessed Mother’s right, slightly inclined towards her in an attitude of respect.

The chapel of the apparition of Knock.  The original gable stands within the building's
interior with statues representing the holy persons who appeared in 1879. 

Although no verbal message was given at Knock, the prayerful postures of Our Lady and the Saints in worship and intercession before the Lamb of God spoke volumes to the seers!  There was also an apocalyptic tone to this apparition as it bore imagery reminiscent of the Scroll and sacrificial Lamb described in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 5:5 - 14. 


+ FATIMA, PORTUGAL (Church-approved)
There are people who are unaware that St. Joseph also made an appearance during the famed apparitions of Fatima. He appeared during the sixth and final visitation to the shepherd children on October 13th, 1917. This event had already been announced to the visionaries on the previous apparition of September 13th when Our Lady told them, “In October, our Lord will also come, as well as Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and St. Joseph with the Child Jesus, to bless the world.”

Sr. Lucia in her memoirs recorded that St. Joseph appeared next to the sun carrying the Holy Child, with the Blessed Virgin standing beside them. As it was indicated to them, St. Joseph blessed the world by silently tracing the Sign of the Cross, which Jesus also did.  Both did not speak a word.

An artistic rendering of the apparition of the Holy Family at
Fatima during the 6th apparition on October 13th, 1917.

There are Fatima scholars who speculate the blessings bestowed by Jesus and St. Joseph were particularly intended for families, as this apparition was essentially of the Holy Family; perhaps for strength and special protection against challenges that lay ahead for Christian households. It’s a theory supported by a statement quoted from a letter written by Sr. Lucia: "The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family."  Are we, today, at this “final battle”?


+ GHIAIE DI BONATE, ITALY (Unapproved apparitions)
Beginning on May 13, 1944 (the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima), a then 7-year-old girl named Adelaide Roncalli claimed 13 apparitions of Our Lady. Eight of these encounters were actually visits from the Holy Family since they included St. Joseph and the Christ Child. During some of the apparitions, cures occurred and signs in the sky, such as the dancing sun, were witnessed by up to 300,000 spectators - devotees and curiosity seekers, alike! The messages the Virgin delivered were practical lessons for families, which prompted the title “Mary, Queen of the Family”.  Below are a few excerpts from the messages of Ghiaie di Bonate: 

   
An artistic representation of the alleged child-seer, Adelaide Roncalli, being visited
by the Holy Family. The image on the right depicts another representation of the
Blessed Virgin in one of her apparitions at Ghiaie di Bonate.

  “Prayers and repentance. Pray for the poor stubborn sinners who are dying in this moment and who pierce my Heart.  The prayer I like best is the Hail Mary.”  ~ May 18, 1944 (6th apparition)

  “No, it is not necessary for everybody to come here; those who can afford it may come and they will be healed or remain sick according to their sacrifices, but they must not commit great sins anymore… Meditate upon these words all the days of your life, summon up your courage in all your sorrows.  You will see me again in the hour of your death; I will keep you under my cloak and will take you to Heaven.”   ~ May 19, 1944 (7th apparition)

  “Pray for the stubborn sinners who make my heart suffer because they do not think of death… Peace is coming soon, but I am anxious for that world peace in which everybody loves one another like brothers.”   ~ May 28, 1944 (10th apparition)

  “The sick who want to be healed must trust me more, and sanctify their suffering if they want to earn Paradise.  If they do not do this, they will not be awarded and will be severely punished instead.  I hope that all those who get to know my words will make every kind of effort to earn Paradise.  Those who suffer without complaining will obtain anything they ask from my Son and me.  Pray a lot for those who have a sick soul; my Son Jesus died on the cross to save them.  Many people do not understand these words of mine — that is why I suffer so much.”  ~ May 29, 1944 (11th apparition)

It should be noted these apparitions are not approved by the Church, as of this writing. On April 30, 1948 the then Bishop of Bergamo issued a decree forbidding the spread of any form of devotion to the apparitions of Ghiaie di Bonate. However, in February 2019, the current Bishop issued an updated mandate stating the local church’s commitment “… to authorize, value, and accompany the cult of ‘Mary Queen of the Family’ at the parish chapel”, which negated his predecessor’s 1948 decree, but stopped short at confirming the supernatural character of the apparitions. So today there is a thriving chapel in Ghiaie di Bonate where the Sacraments are allowed to be celebrated and administered to pilgrims who come to pray to the Holy Family, which makes the author comfortable about posting on these events.

There are a few other modern apparitions of St. Joseph that haven’t been included in this post due to some controversial aspects surrounding them, but the above should be sufficient to show that St. Joseph is indeed spiritually active in the Church; working hard alongside his Divine Son and his beloved spouse, Mary, to bring souls to salvation.

And of course there are the countless Saints throughout history to whom St. Joseph privately appeared to or miraculously aided in order to encourage their personal quests for sanctity. These include St. Andre Bessette of Montreal, St. Euphrasia Eluvathingal of India, St. Gertrude the Great, St. Junipero Serra, Bl. Maria Repetto, and St. Teresa of Avila, just to name a few.  These Saints, along with countless other devotees of St. Joseph have received abundant graces and favors through their Patron, which is why the Church, for centuries, has recommended to the Faithful...

I T E  A D  J O S E P H !
(Go to Joseph)

If you haven't already done so, let 2021 be the opportunity for you to go to this Saint for blessings in your life. If God can entrust his only begotten Son and the Holy Virgin to the care of this man, we can confidently entrust ourselves to St. Joseph's care, too.

St. Joseph, protector of the Church
and families, pray for us!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Saint of the Month - January 2021: Blessed Stefana de Quinzanis


Bl. Stefana de Quinzanis
A Light of Dominican Spirituality ~ Memorial: January 3rd

Happy New Year!  This ministry opens its 2021 roster of monthly Saints/Blesseds with the story of another amazing, yet obscure, holy woman - Bl. Stefana de Quinzanis - an Italian mystic affiliated with the Dominican Order.  She was born on February 5, 1457 in the peasant village of Quinzano d'Oglio where she was curiously described by one biographer as being rather homely in appearance but admired for possessing beautiful, luxurious hair; locks she later shaved when she realized they attracted unwanted attention.

At just 7, our protagonist experienced her very first contact with Heaven after she was inspired to pronounce a private vow of poverty, obedience, and perpetual chastity in total dedication of herself to God.  Jesus came to Stefana accompanied by Our Lady and a trio of Dominican Saints: St. Dominic de Guzman (d. 1221), St. Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), and St. Catherine of Siena (d. 1380) to place a wedding ring on the precocious youngster's finger - a Mystical Betrothal - signifying his pleasure and acceptance of her generous offering.

Also in her childhood, the Beata had the privilege of being spiritually guided by the saintly Dominican priest, Bl. Matteo Carreri (d. 1470), who bore the stigmatic wound of the chest/heart... and predicted to Stefana that she, too, would one day be like him; marked with wounds of Divine Love.  Not long after, the little mystic received another vision of St. Dominic, the illustrious founder of the Dominican Order, who along with a group of angels, vested her in a symbolic black and white Dominican habit.  Prior to then, Stephana had been employed as a domestic servant, but at 15-years-old her vision was realized when she was accepted into the Dominican Third Order in Crema then clothed in the same habit given her by St. Dominic.

A stigmatic priest, Bl. Matteo Carreri, was a spiritual mentor
to Bl. Stefana de Quinzanis.

It should be noted that Stefana also maintained a lifelong devotion to St. Catherine of Siena, who she looked upon as a pinnacle of Dominican piety. She imitated the Saint's virtues and ascetic practices (e.g. extreme fasting), and began experiencing similar graces as her Sienese role model.  An example would be the "wounds" already mentioned - St. Catherine bore the Stigmata of Christ invisibly, but in Stefana's case, the wounds were quite visible and bled after she received them at aged 14 from a vision of Bl. Matteo Carreri, who had just died.  Hence, for the following forty years, she relived the painful drama of the Passion every Friday, while in ecstasy, which was attested to by many witnesses, including prominent nobles.  Another grace she had in common with St. Catherine was the "mystical exchange of hearts" during which Jesus took away her heart only to replace it with his very own, burning with love... and lastly, the abilities to heal and know hidden and future events were other favors bestowed on Stefana by our Lord.

Not surprisingly, because of the visible nature of her stigmata and other charismatic gifts, Stefana became a sought-after counselor in northern Italy. Among those who came to her for advice were peasants, prelates, nobility, and other holy people of her time such as her fellow Dominican, Bl. Osanna of Mantua (d. 1505), and St. Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursulines (d. 1540).  Her gift of infused knowledge served her well since she was able to dispense wise counsel, and expertly discuss lofty theological topics with the most learned Church officials. 

Bl. Stefana received visits from the inhabitants of
Heaven, including angels.

After ministering for a time in Crema, Stefana was divinely prompted to found a monastery of Third Order Dominicans in Soncino, dedicated to St. Paul, where she was nominated to the office of Prioress.  It was reported that Jesus, out of gratitude for all her labors and sacrifices, once asked her, "Daughter, you have given me the total gift of your will - what reward would you desire?" to which the Beata admirably replied, "I want no other reward than yourself."

Bl. Stefana de Quinzanis passed onto her Eternal Reward on January 2, 1530, at the age of 72; a long life lived in the service of others and expiatory suffering.  Ever in deep union with her Divine Spouse, her final recorded words were, "Into thy hands, Lord, I commend my spirit".  Immediately, her tomb became a place of pilgrimage where many cures were reported.  The locals held her memory in such deep, lasting reverence it led Pope Benedict XIV to confirm her cultus on December 14, 1740; thus, officially placing her among the ranks of the recognized Blesseds of the Church.  Just one more verified miracle is needed to advance her Cause to Sainthood.

The bodily relics of the Beata, as venerated in
 Soncino, Italy.

If you, the reader, was positively impressed in any way after reading the life of Bl. Stefana, take a moment to join this ministry in praying for her speedy Canonization.  Ask her intercession, too, for a special favor or petition!  May she pray for our needs and the needs of the Universal Church.