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


Sunday, February 25, 2024

Monthly Message of the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: February 2024



  "Dear Children!  Pray and renew your heart so that the good which you have sown may bear the fruit of joy and oneness with God.  Darnel has seized many hearts and they have become unfruitful*; that is why, you little children, be light, love and my outstretched hands in this world, which yearns for God Who is love.  Thank you for having responded to my call."

* NOTE:  "Darnel" is a type of weed.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Saints & Relics Presentation: Mary Star of the Sea Youth Group, 2/23/2024


Praise the Lord! The Saints were once again warmly welcomed at Mary, Star of the Sea Church by its resident Youth Group.


It's always encouraging and a joy for this blogger to see young people being genuinely enthusiastic about our Saints ... and Relics, too - it's a positive and hopeful sign for our local Church!  In fact, I recognized a couple of girls at last night's presentation who were also at the same talk I conducted at a Girl's Retreat in another parish last month ... so it's a good indication that something from the last presentation actually motivated them to sit through another one.

Holy Family Relics

This time around, the holy persons/relics who were featured, included: St. Bernadette of Lourdes; Ven. Domenica Lazzeri; Bl. Miguel Agustin Pro; Bl. Sebastian de Aparicio; St. Maria Goretti; St. Peregrine Laziosi; St. Padre Pio; St. Therese the Little Flower; and the Holy Family!

Participants venerating the relics.

What definitely was affirming for me from this night was when a girl - Jade - who was one of the repeat-attendees, shared that, after listening to the presentation at the St. Ann Parish Girl's Retreat, she immediately knew who her upcoming Confirmation Saint would be - St. Maria Goretti, whose life touched her in a powerful way!  She was noticeably excited that I had also brought the Saint's relic to this event.

A reliquary of Bl. Sebastian de Aparicio
with a piece of his religious habit.

Judging by the youngsters' reactions and the testimony below from the Youth Group Coordinator, it's evident that the holy example of our Faith-Heroes and their respective relics are making a positive impression on people young and nature - the Holy Spirit is at work!  All thanks and praises be to God, our Blessed Mother, and the Saints!

   
Bodily Relics of Sts. Bernadette & Peregrine

 * * *  T E S T I M O N Y  * * *


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!