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ST CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA, VIRGIN AND MARTYR

ST CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA, VIRGIN AND MARTYR

ST CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA, VIRGIN AND MARTYR – MEMORIAL: NOVEMBER 25

Catherine, a noble virgin of Alexandria, joined an ardent faith to her studies of the liberal arts. When she saw many Christians seized for punishment by order of Maximin, she approached Maximin himself and boldly declared that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation.

HE TRIED TO TURN HER AWAY FROM CHRIST

Astonished at her wisdom, the tyrant ordered her to be kept in prison. Then he summoned learned men from everywhere to try to persuade her and to convert her to the worship of idols. But the opposite effect happened.

THE OPPOSITE EFFECT HAPPENED

For many of these men were convinced by the most wise arguments of Catherine, embraced the faith in Christ, and would not have hesitated to die for it. Wherefore Maximin tried, first by flattery, then by torments, to turn her away from her belief; but when he saw that these had no effect, he ordered her to be beheaded.

PRAYER:

O God, who gave the law to Moses on Sinai’s height and through your holy angels miraculously placed there the body of blessed Catherine, your Virgin and Martyr; grant, we beseech you, that by her merits and intercession we may reach that towering eminence which is Christ. Who with you…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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DO NOT CRY, WE ARE GOING TO HEAVEN

DO NOT CRY, WE ARE GOING TO HEAVEN

ABOUT SAINT MARY GUO LI, WIDOW AND MARTYR (1835-1900)

Mary Guo Li, a native of Hu-jia-che, China (Hebei Province), was a Catholic wife and grandmother, with numerous children and grandchildren, all of whom were raised in the Catholic faith.

In 1900 a Chinese quasi-religious faction known to history as the “Boxers” embarked upon a bloody persecution of Christians in China.

Mary instructed her children and grandchildren that under no circumstances were they to deny their faith, warning two of her sons, “Remember that if you apostatise, I shall no longer be your mother!”

On 29th June 1900, the Boxers raided the family’s home, murdered Mary’s husband Guo Zhinfang, and torched the house.

Sensing that she would soon share her husband’s fate, Mary spent the days that followed preparing herself with the recitation of the rosary, fasting, and spiritual reading.

On 7th July the sixty-five-year-old grandmother was put to death by the Boxers together with three of her daughters and four of her grandchildren. Before being executed, Mary offered a final word of encouragement to her family, telling them, “Don’t cry. We are going to heaven to enjoy eternal life.”

“They are happy whose life is blameless, who follow God’s law.” (Ps 118:1)

 

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TO NEGLECT OUR DUTY IS TO COMPLAIN OF GOD, OR TO MURMUR AGAINST HIS WILL

TO NEGLECT OUR DUTY IS TO COMPLAIN OF GOD, OR TO MURMUR AGAINST HIS WILL

“The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job1:21b)

A courageous woman was surprised, with her eyes full of tears, by one of her nieces who had brought a joyous band of children to visit her in order to amuse them.

What is the matter, aunt?

Affectionately embracing her niece, she replied: The weight on my heart is the blow which killed my son on such a day as this.

Oh, aunt! is to-day, then, the anniversary of his death? If you had told us so, we should not have worried you with our gaiety.

God forbid that I should make you bear the burden which oppresses me! That would be unjust. Poor children; is it because I am sad that you must not amuse yourselves?

And can you spend a day like this engaged in your ordinary occupations?

But, my child, is not fulfilling the duties of my state the best means of submitting my will to God, and thus securing a little consolation?

Know, my child, that when God sends us a cross, He wishes that we should bear it without neglecting on its account any of our duties, no matter how trifling they may be.

To neglect our duty is to complain of God, or to murmur against his will.

– From: Golden Grains, Little Counsels for the Sanctification and Happiness of Every-Day Life, H. M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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ST FRANCES OF ROME – “EVERYBODY’S SERVANT”

St Frances of Rome, Widow; Memorial: March 9

Frances was a noble Roman matron who at eleven had resolved to enter a convent, but complied with her parents’ will that she marry the young and rich noble, Lorenzo Ponziani. In marriage, she always observed the austerities of the religious life as far as possible, and her patience in adversities was admirable. She founded in the city the house of Oblates of the Congregation of Monte Oliveto under the Benedictine rule, to recall the married women of Rome from worldly pleasures and dress.

Recalling the married women of Rome from worldly pleasures and dress

After her husband’s death she humbly begged admittance there and after receiving it gloried in calling herself everybody’s servant and the least of women even though, as the founder of the whole community she was the mother of them all. She invariably baffled the never-idle devil and won a great victory over him with her guardian angel’s help. She died at fifty-six, famous for good works and miracles. Pope Paul V added her to the list of the saints.

– From: An Approved Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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“SERVE THE LORD JOYFULLY, LOVINGLY FULFIL THE DUTIES ENTRUSTED TO YOU” – BLESSED FRANCESCA RUBATTO

“[On 6th August…] the Church also celebrates the life of Blessed Francesca Rubatto. She was born in 1844 at Carmagnola, Turin, Italy. Blessed Francesca lost her father at the age of four and in her teens she received an offer of marriage from a wealthy man. However, Blessed Francesca turned the offer of marriage down and decided to make a vow of virginity instead. Her mother died when Blessed Francesca was 19 years old. Blessed Francesca decided to visit the various parishes in the city of Turin, teaching catechism to the children, visiting the sick in hospital and helped to care for the poor and neglected.

Caring for the poor and neglected

Blessed Francesca went to Loano, a seaside resort, to pray about what her next step in life should be. One morning, after Mass, she heard an injured labourer moaning and she discovered that a stone had fallen from a building that was being repaired and that it had hit him on the head. Blessed Francesca cleaned his head wound and gave him some money to live on so that he could take a few days off work to recover his health.

They took it as a sign from God

The building being repaired was to house a community of religious women and when they heard of this incident they took it as a sign from Gos that Blessed Francesca should join them and guide them in the spiritual life. This she did and enthusiastically she embraced their Franciscan life of poverty. After exhibiting great organisational skills Blessed Francesca was chosen to be the superior of the community and this led to the sisters expanding their good work to other cities in Italy, and then to Uruguay and Argentina.

The crown of martyrdom

In 1892 a request came to Blessed Francesca to start a mission in the Brazilian Rainforest. More experienced religious communities had turned this request down, but Blessed Francesca went to Brazil with some of her sisters and she lived in the Rainforest for six months. Once the mission was started Blessed Francesca travelled back to Italy. Sadly, in 1901 the news came to Blessed Francesca that the whole community in the Rainforest had been slaughtered, martyred for their Catholic Faith. Undiscouraged by this tragedy, the work of the sisters continued in South Argentina and Italy, with Blessed Francesca crossing the Atlantic Ocean seven times. Blessed Francesca died suddenly of cancer at Montevideo, Uruguay, on 6th August 1904 at the age of 59. Blessed Francesca was beatified in 1993 by Pope Saint John Paul II.

You are not capable of anything without God’s help

Blessed Francesca advised her sisters, ‘Serve the Lord joyfully, lovingly fulfil the duties entrusted to you, work tirelessly because you know how precious your work is in the sight of the Lord. And having worked hard for the glory of God whom you love so deeply, call yourself a useless servant of the Lord and be convinced of being one, because you know that you are not capable of anything without his divine help.’ This is good advised for us too; that we should serve the Lord joyfully and not to be proud and think we can do things on our own, but understand that we need to rely on God’s help.”

– From: Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris/2015

 

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HOW TO BECOME A RELIGIOUS SISTER (CATHOLIC NUN)

“From discovering a community to taking the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience

Religious sisters are called by God to live a special life as brides of Christ in service to the Church. Because becoming a religious sister is a serious commitment, there are several stages in the process:

1. “Come and See”

A time of visiting various religious orders to learn about them, meet the sisters, and explore different charisms. At this time, a woman feels called to religious life, but doesn’t know which order to join.

2. Aspirancy/Pre-Candidacy

When a woman feels called to a particular religious order, she starts the application process. While in application, she is called an ‘aspirant’ because she aspires to join the order.

3. Postulancy/Candidacy

When a woman’s application has been accepted, she joins the day-to-day prayer and work of the order, albeit in an exploratory way. She learns more about the sisters, and begins formation, perhaps taking classes in theology and scripture. This is a time of further discernment. Length can vary depending on the person and the order.

4. Novitiate

At this stage a woman is called a ‘novice’ because she is new to the order. For a period of about two years, the novice lives the life of the order in nearly every way and continues formation. This period is analogous to being engaged; the dating is over and now she is moving toward making vows.

5. Vows

When a woman and the community feel sure about her call, she vows poverty, chastity, and obedience, which together are called the ‘evangelical counsels.’ In most orders (though not all), members profess perpetual vows after a period of three or more years after they first take vows. Note that while the process of formation is similar, each religious community has its own particular nuances. It’s best to ask the vocation director of a particular order about their process.”

– From the leaflet: “Archdiocese of Southwark, Vocations” – web address, further reading: http://www.southwarkvocations.com (external link).

 

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ANCIENT MARIAN DEVOTIONS: OUR LADY OF CONSOLATION

Our Lady of Consolation

“Our Blessed Mother has been invoked under the beautiful title of Our Lady of Consolation since the fourth century – and probably for even longer than that. History records that St Eusebius of Vercelli, who was a heroic defender of the doctrine of Christ’s Divinity in an age when Arianism was gaining influential followers, brought back an icon of Our Lady of Consolation from Egypt in 363 when he was returning from exile.

Turin

This icon was presented to the city of Turin. Later St Maximus, Bishop of Turin 380 – 420, established a small Shrine to house the icon in a church dedicated to St Andrew. Here it became a popular centre of Marian devotion in the city. However, the following years brought a cycle of destruction, then restoration, followed by neglect, then revival.

During these troubled times a new shrine was built, only to be destroyed again during an invasion of the Barbarians. In 1104 the icon was found buried unharmed beneath some ruins and once again the faithful of Turin could honour Our Lady of Consolation in her shrine. Many miracles were attributed to her intercession and over the succeeding centuries the church in which the icon now is displayed has been reconstructed, embellished and added to, and has been elevated to the status of a minor basilica. The devotion to Our Lady of Consolation became widespread in Europe.

West Grinstead

The English Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, West Grinstead, Sussex is officially affiliated to the Turin Shrine. Although the church itself was built comparatively recently, it stands in a rural area which is steeped in Church history.

After the Reformation, the local major landowners, the Caryll family, were secret Catholics and welcomed priests who came disguised, at the risk of their lives, to minister to them and to the faithful throughout England.

The Priest’s House, with hiding places to shelter the priest if any investigating authorities were in the area, was originally a tiny cottage. There was also a hidden chapel intended to provide temporary safety for worshippers.

Eventually the government policy towards Catholics changed and instead of the risk of the death penalty, financial sanctions were imposed. The Caryll family remained faithful to the Church and eventually followed the Stuart Royal family to France, where they had an honoured place at the Court in Exile.

Monsignor Denis

When the Caryll estate in Sussex was sold in 1754, the Priest’s House at West Grinstead was given to the Church to ensure that a Catholic presence would continue there. Strange to say, the historical situation was soon reversed, as French Catholic priests fled to England to escape the French Revolution, and some found refuge at West Grinstead.

It was difficult for French speaking priests to minister to a rural English congregation and sadly local fervour declined. Eventually, however, following the establishment of a Catholic Diocese of Southwark (which included Sussex) a priest from Brittany, Mgr Jean Marie Denis, was appointed to West Grinstead and, encouraged by the Bishop, worked hard to revitalise the parish.

A new place of pilgrimage

It was Mgr Denis’s inspiration to establish the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation at West Grinstead in 1876. He chose this title because the Shrine at Turin was an ancient one and was blessed with special privileges and Indulgences. Through affiliation, the Shrine at West Grinstead shares those privileges.

The combination of history enshrined in the Priest’s House and devotion to Our Blessed Lady under the ancient title Our Lady of Consolation excited wide interest and pilgrims began to visit and pray there and they continue to do so today.

Developments in Turin

Whilst the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, West Grinstead, in England was developing and attracting pilgrims, there had been developments at the Shrine in Turin. In 1880 a young priest, Father Giuseppe Allamano, was appointed Rector of the Shrine at the age of 29. Although his father had died when he was only three years old, his early years had been privileged with the example of at least two future saints: one being his uncle, later to become St John Cafasso, and the other being Don Bosco, later to become St John Bosco. The latter was his teacher and spiritual director.

Father Giuseppe had benefited from these early influences and, by the time he was installed as Rector of Our Lady of Consolation Shrine in Turin, he had a number of years’ experience of directing seminarians and newly ordained priests of the diocese. He was a dynamic Rector of the Shrine and enhanced its reputation and influence, but his achievements were not limited to that holy place.

Consolata Missionaries

Father Giuseppe was led by his intense devotion to Our Lady and his zeal for evangelisation to found the two religious missionary congregations that we know as the Consolata Fathers and Brothers (1901) and the Consolata Sisters (1910). They were soon active in Africa and now are spread across the world. Father Giuseppe, better known to us today as Blessed Joseph Allamano, died in 1926 and was beatified in 1990 by Pope St John Paul II. We may hope that he will soon be a canonised saint. The Consolata Missionaries eagerly await this and have dedicated the year 2014 to their founder. They are praying that the miracles required to support the Cause of his canonisation will soon be identified and they urge us all to ask his intercession.

The Consolata Icon

Blessed Joseph Allamano spent many hours in prayer at the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Turin. The holy icon was a source of inspiration for him, and his prayer led him beyond the ancient representation, to the reality of Our Lady’s loving concern for the needy, the sick, the forlorn, the lost… a loving concern as alive today as it has been through the ages.

It seems appropriate that the icon at Turin is not replicated at West Grinstead, which has its own distinct painting … Our Lady is not limited in time or space. Her title of ‘Consolata’ reassures us of her motherly love and her attentiveness to us whenever we call on her, wherever we may be.

Our Lady of Consolation, pray for us.

Blessed Joseph Allamano, pray for us. “

– This article was published in the “Little Way Association” magazine (hard copy) Issue no. 94. For subscriptions and donations, please visit the Little Way Association’s website http://www.littlewayassociation.com (external link)

 

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2015 in Devotions

 

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