Disclaimer

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


Saturday, February 17, 2024

Saints & Relics Presentation: St. John Vianney Church, 2/17/2024



Our children need good role-models.  Forget those superficial, self-indulgent celebrities and social media "influencers" out there who come and go - our children need God and holy role-models who truly represent positive values ... which is why when this author got a last-minute request to do a Saints & Relics Presentation today for CCD kids and their adult sponsors, I had to accept despite short notice.  After all, these youngsters will eventually grow up to be our future ... and children ignorant of God translates to a very bleak tomorrow for all of us.  Try to picture it.

So, this morning, I introduced my audience to several holy persons/relics with the triple goal of making our spiritual heroes better known and appreciated; inspiring deeper faith in the audience members; and to emphasize HOLINESS IS POSSIBLE FOR ALL.  Among those whose lives and relics were shared were: Ven. Anne de Guigne; St. Damien of Molokai; St. Margaret of CastelloBl. Pier Giorgio FrassatiSt. Therese the Little Flower; and the Holy Family, too!


Holy Relics on display at St. John
Vianney Church in Kailua

        

After each talk, I always invite my audiences to approach the displayed relics to personally "meet" the Saints and to invoke their intercession for their various needs.  I allow people to respectfully touch the reliquaries and/or to apply their devotional items while they pray, but not pick them up.  This time around, the kids didn't even wait for the invitation - instead, as soon as I finished describing all the sacred relics present, they rushed the display tables ... and the adults followed!

Many took holy cards made especially for the event by the parish's CCD Director, and the children delighted in touching them to their respective reliquaries; those with cellphones took advantage of the QR Codes next to the relics to download "Bio-Cards" of each featured Blessed or Saint.

Adults and children having personal
encounters with Saints and Relics

Feedback received from several parents and grandparents present all agreed with me about our children needing quality role-models ... and it was encouraging for this ministry to know that the grownups were appreciative to learn about our awesome Church Heroes, alongside their kids.  God bless and help their families!

Jesus said, “Let the little children
come to me, and do not hinder them,
 for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs
to such as these.”

- Matthew 19:14

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Saint of the Month - February 2024: Blessed Sebastian de Aparicio


Bl. Sebastian de Aparicio
A humble son of St. Francis
Memorial: February 25th

This month's featured holy person - Bl. Sebastian de Aparicio - was born in GudiƱa, Spain, on January 20, 1502, but died in Puebla de los Angeles (aka Puebla), Mexico; he was reported to be a miracle worker during the golden years of his life and this is his story.

Raised in a family of devout Spanish peasant farmers, as a child he fell victim to the black plague and was secretly isolated in a shack in the woods by his parents.  There, the sick boy was visited by a mysterious wolf that nipped at his swollen sore - the "bubo" - which then bled and drained.  Sebastian began improving right away and eventually fully recovered so he was able to resume work on his family's farm.  The cure left the youngster with a growing love for God, as well as, a great appreciation for all His creatures.  

At the age of 20, Sebastian left home to look for work so as to better assist his impoverished family and to raise dowries for his unwed sisters.  He worked as a servant in the home of a wealthy widow but left when she made unwanted advances towards him.  The youth next took a job on a farm, but was again the object of affection, this time by his employer's daughter; he again quit.  Apparently, Sebastian was said to be so handsome and strong, he attracted attention from the ladies wherever he went, which tried his personal virtue.  At 31, he decisively boarded a ship bound for the Americas, never to return.

Bl. Sebastian sometimes saw angels
who assisted him in his ministry. 

In 1533, Sebastian arrived in the port city of Veracruz, Mexico, where he made his way to the newly established town of Puebla.  Being illiterate, he at first worked odd jobs doing manual labor, but seeing how primitive the method of transport was in Mexico (people still carried things on their backs), he started both a wagon manufacturing business and a goods transport operation; thus, Sebastian has the unique distinction of having introduced the wheel to Mexico ... and since he needed better surfaces on which to run his wagons, he was also instrumental in constructing the first paved roads along his trade routes between Puebla and Veracruz ... then to Mexico City, where he later moved his business.  Sebastian's dealings quickly made him a very wealthy man.

At the mature age of 50, Sebastian retired from the transport industry and went into farming and cattle ranching in Zacatecas, which was also lucrative for him.  Despite his wealth and prestige in Mexico, he retained his pious and humble  disposition, and practiced mortifications to keep his human weaknesses in check.  Sebastian treated his workers more like family than hired help, teaching them the European methods of farming and domesticating livestock; his less-fortunate neighbors were also beneficiaries of his exceeding kindness and charity.  It goes without saying that the Beato was highly respected, if not outright loved, by many for both his secular and charitable contributions to Mexican society.

Sebastian remained a bachelor until the age of 60.  A serious illness somehow made him more receptive to the idea of marriage so he entered into one with a much younger woman from Chapultepec, a poor friend's daughter who couldn't raise a dowry; the union was never consummated, and his wife died within a year of their wedding.

At 67, Sebastian married yet another young woman, but again, he and his new bride agreed to live in chastity - she, too, passed away after an accidental fall from a tree.  This tragedy caused further reflection about the purpose of his life and, upon the suggestion of his confessor, the widower sold his belongings and distributed the proceeds to his workers and the poor; his farm/ranch was donated to a struggling new Poor Clare convent where he volunteered for a time as a servant.  In June 1574, he entered the Franciscan Order in Mexico City, and was professed a Lay Brother a year later, but not before undergoing certain difficulties due to his illiteracy, and from retaliatory physical assaults from the devil that started in response to his religious vocation.

This author at the shrine of Bl. Sebastian
in the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Puebla,
in April of 2023

The Beato, now 73-years-old, was first sent to the monastery of Santiago in Tecali where he served as porter, gardener, and cook, before being reassigned to Puebla, his former hometown.  There, Bro. Sebastian was primarily given the task of begging for food and necessities for the entire monastery so it became a common sight to see him out and about in Puebla.  Consequently, the townspeople and Sebastian's fellow Franciscans were witness to his many good deeds and the wonders that surrounded him during this latter period of his life - the Beato was graced with the following spiritual gifts ...

  • Animals of all sorts understood and obeyed his commands:  Examples include times when the oxen he employed to pull the monastery's alms wagon would be let loose in open wilderness only to obediently return to him when he called to them; an unruly horse known for bucking riders would become docile only when the Blessed rode it; and ants that once harvested wheat intended for the monastery returned what they collected upon Sebastian's command.

  • Private apparitions of Our Lady and Saints:  In the monastery of Cholula, it was once recorded that the Blessed Virgin appeared to Bro. Sebastian during his thanksgiving after Holy Communion; on another occasion, the holy friar was encouraged in his vocation and devotions by visits from St. Francis of Assisi and St. James the Apostle to whom he was greatly devoted.

  • Angelic assistance: Bl. Sebastian was often helped by his personal guardian angel during difficult tasks.  For example, he once got his wagon stuck in thick mud and was unable to pull it free, even with the aid of his oxen.  A youth dressed in white appeared out of nowhere and single-handedly pulled the wagon out of the mud before vanishing.

In addition to the above, Sebastian sometimes predicted future events with uncanny accuracy.

After living religious life for 25 years, the "Angel of Mexico" peacefully died on February 25, 1600, from the effects of a strangulated hernia; he was 98-years-old and his final word was, "Jesus".  People flocked to his funeral and, almost immediately, miracles were reported as mourners touched his remains and took away pieces of his habit for relics. Furthermore, two exhumations conducted after his death revealed his corpse to be miraculously preserved.

The incorrupt body of Bl. Sebastian de Aparicio

Beatified in 1789, the incorrupt body of Bl. Sebastian is now enshrined in the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Puebla.  This author had the blessed joy of venerating this major relic during a Mexico pilgrimage back in April 2023.  May God bless his Cause with a speedy Canonization.

Bl. Sebastian de Aparicio,
pray for us!

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Saints & Relics Presentation: St. Ann Parish Girl's Retreat, 1/27/2024



The Church's teaching on the Communion of Saints was highlighted yesterday during a presentation at St. Ann Church, Kaneohe.  The event was a retreat arranged for 32 girls from various parishes, ranging in ages between 12 to 17 ... and what a spiritually fruitful event it was!


The lineup of holy persons featured at this talk included the Servant of God, Charlene Richard of Louisiana; Ven. Anne de Guigne; Bl. Rolando Rivi; St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin; Sts. Louis & Zelie Martin and their famous daughter - St. Therese the Little Flower ... and the Virgin-Martyr, St. Maria Goretti. In addition, I also brought along clothing relics from Our Lady and St. Joseph.

   
Relics of Ven. Anne and Bl. Rolando

This ministry's relics of St. Joseph and
the Blessed Virgin Mary

   
Relics of St. Maria and Sts. Louis & Zelie

   
Relics of St. Therese and St. Gabriel

Based on the demeanor of girls during the talk, it was clear most of them were engaged as this author recounted stories of the spiritual heroes whose relics were present.  All showed their enthusiasm for what they learned by lining up to honor their respective relics after the talk ended.

Participants touched the reliquaries;
applied sacramentals to them; took photos
& scanned the QR codes to view softcopy
"Bio-Cards" of each holy person.

I left the event feeling certain and hopeful that the message of the Saints had found a place in the youngsters' hearts.  May our good Lord, Our Lady, and all the Angels and Saints inspire and protect these precious souls!


* *  Help from Heaven * *

On a side note, this author wants to testify to a grace granted in regards to this presentation:

Two days prior to the event, I was hit by a sudden episode of back and leg aches.  The pain was so bad, I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to conduct the presentation.

On the night before the talk, a brilliant and stunning full moon illuminated the sky and I took a handful of photos to capture the moment; not expecting anything special.


Well imagine my relief and excitement when I awoke the next morning with my pain almost completely gone ... and then also discovered a mysterious "figure" in two of the moon pics - see above!  I don't recall the figure when I was snapping photos, but in hindsight, I believe Heaven - specifically our Blessed Mother - had come to my aid so I could proceed with the presentation for these children.  Thanks and Praises be to God and to Our Lady!

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Saint of the Month - January 2024: Saint Mutien-Marie Wiaux


St. Mutien-Marie Wiaux
"The Brother who always prayed"
Feast: January 30th

Born on March 20, 1841 in the hamlet of Mellet, Belgium, little Louis-Joseph Wiaux was baptized the same day in the parish church.  Blessed with highly devout Christian parents, he learned the Faith from them and developed a piety that was exceptional compared to other children his age.  In particular, he had a singular love for Our Lady, which he maintained all his life.

After completing primary school, he apprenticed with his father - the local blacksmith - but realized early on that the Lord was tugging at his heart; a call he couldn't resist.  So, in April 1856, at the youthful age of just 15, he left Mellet to pursue religious life.  Per the suggestion of his priest, he applied with, and was accepted at the novitiate of the teaching institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in Namur.  There, on the Feast of the Visitation in 1856, he was clothed in the habit and given the name Bro. Mutien-Marie.

Initially, Bro. Mutien was assigned to train and teach elementary courses in Chimay where he stayed for a year.  He was then transferred to a school in Brussels for another year-long assignment.  In 1859, his superiors sent him to their boarding school in Malonne, where he remained for the rest of his earthly life.

The youthful Bro. Mutien-Marie

Although the new religious enjoyed his vocation, it wasn't all smooth sailing for Bro. Mutien.  Being from a humble background and of simple mind, he had difficulty teaching the academic curriculum and his superiors at first considered dismissing him from the institute.  Instead, through the intervention of one of his fellow  teachers, they allowed him to teach art and music; two subjects Mutien had no prior knowledge of, but to which he diligently applied himself to learning in order to convince his superiors to allow him to remain.

In addition to his lack of experience, the young religious had to contend with certain disruptive students.  Fortunately for both parties, Bro. Mutien was a determined and committed saint-in-the-making, and his exemplary patience, innate piety, and genuine concern for his students eventually won the youth over ... and his companions, too.

It goes without saying, everyone came to love and respect Bro. Mutien as a model religious of great virtue.  He was not one of those Saints reknown for great signs and wonders, but instead, his sanctity was revealed through his consistent exercise of deep prayer, and diligently living his institute's Rule along with the precepts of our Catholic Faith.  His day-to-day routine usually consisted of:

  • Rising at 4:30 AM for his first visit to the Tabernacle for Eucharistic Adoration, followed by a stop at Our Lady's altar for the rosary
  • Holy Mass
  • Teaching Architecture, Art, and Music Lessons
  • Additional visits, in between classes, to the Blessed Sacrament and to a Lourdes Grotto replica on the school grounds 

The students widely referred to him as the "Brother who is always praying", while Mutien's fellow religious described him as a "Living Rule"; none could recall any occasion in which the Saint ever made the slightest infraction to their Rule.  On his part, Mutien was humble, fulfilling his daily duties with zero fanfare; going about in constant prayer, and sometimes caught up in ecstasy in the chapel with his face reflecting God's Light.   For him, personally, praying and subjecting himself in obedience to the Rule and to his superiors was equivalent to fulfilling the Divine Will of God.  This was his simple way of living his vocation ‐ "holy monotony", as this author likes to call it - for a span of 50+ years!

A later photo of St. Mutien-Marie

Bro. Mutien's peaceful death occurred on January 30, 1917; he was 75-years-old.  Almost immediately after his passing, his intercession was invoked by many and cures were reported at his tomb, which lead to an inquiry into his virtues only six years later.

The Church declared Bro. Mutien-Marie Wiaux a Saint on December 10, 1989.  He is considered a Patron Saint for both Teachers and Students.

St. Mutien-Marie Wiaux,
pray for us!

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Epiphany Escarchas


This morning, this author drove to St. John Vianney Church in Kailua for morning Mass.  That parish celebrates three Sacraments every First Saturday: Eucharist, Anointing of the Sick, and Reconciliation so talk about graces in abundance ... and yet, today, there was something extra - escarchas.

It’s been a long while since I last witnessed them manifesting so the escarchas went a long way towards making my observance of Epiphany Day special and meaningful.  Here's a brief recap of how it happened ...


I brought with me to the church a Marian icon (shown above) that I hand-burnt, stained, and painted on a wooden plaque in August 2023, and which I titled "Mary, Immaculate Spouse of the Holy Spirit".  I intended to get it blessed by the priest.  

After I sat down in my usual spot, I laid the icon beside me on the pew, and turned away for a bit.  When I looked back at it, there they were - fine flakes of golden escarchas, sprinkled all around the icon.  Here are photos and a short video I filmed that shows just some of the escarchas on the pew ...


I'm pretty certain they're not craft-glitter for the simple reason that they weren't there a few moments earlier.  Given how much there was, I would've noticed them right away.  So I do believe it's an actual appearance of escarchas.

As to the reason why it happened, that I'm not sure.  Perhaps it's a special blessing for the Solemnity of the Epiphany ... or maybe the Lord is kindly acknowledging the work that went into it (it took me about 9 hours to write this icon) ... or perhaps God and/or Mary are pleased with how Our Lady is depicted ... or they could also be affirming the beautiful Marian title - Spouse of the Holy Spirit.  Again, it's a mystery to me but I'm just very grateful to the Holy Spirit and our Blessed Mother for this blessing.

Whatever the reason for the escarchas, I pray Heaven will use this unique image to inspire and bless many souls, particularly to a deeper devotion to the Holy Spirit!

O Mary, Immaculate Spouse
of the Holy Spirit, pray for us!