St.Paul of the Cross~Founder of the Passionists 


St. Paul of the Cross was born at Ovada in the Republic of Genoa, January 3, 1694. His infancy and youth were spent in great innocence and piety. He was inspired from on high to found a congregation; in an ecstacy he beheld the habit which he and his companions were to wear. After consulting his director, Bishop Gastinara of Alexandria in Piedmont, he reached the conclusion that God wished him to establish a congregation in honor of the Passion of Jesus Christ. On November 22, 1720, the bishop vested him with the habit that had been shown to him in a vision, the same that the Passionists wear at the present time. From that moment the saint applied himself to repair the Rules of his institute; and in 1721 he went to Rome to obtain the approbation of the Holy See. At first he failed, but finally succeeded when Benedict XIV approved the Rules in 1741 and 1746. Meanwhile St. Paul built his first monastery near Obitello. Sometime later he established a larger community at the Church of St. John and Paul in Rome. For fifty years St. Paul remained the indefatigable missionary of Italy. God lavished upon him the greatest gifts in the supernatural order, but he treated himself with the greatest rigor, and believed that he was a useless servant and a great sinner. His saintly death occurred at Rome in the year 1775, at the age of eighty-one. He was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867. His feast day is October 20

Source:catholiconline.org 

The North American Martyrs 


In 1611, Jesuit missionaries first set foot on our continent. Within forty years eight of them, (whose feast day is October 19th) gave up their lives near the Georgian Bay and in upstate New York. This quadricentennial of the Jesuit mission gives us cause to look to our spiritual roots. 

Much like the setting sun, we often see the full beauty of the Saints as their mortal light exits this world. This is especially true of martyrs. The following is a brief summary of a few of the deaths of these Jesuits, which sums up the heroism with which they lived. 

When St. Isaac Jogues was received into the Jesuits his superior asked what he desired. His response: “Ethiopia and Martyrdom.” “Not so.” was the reply. “You will receive Canada and martyrdom.” 

After years of ministry among the Huron, St. Isaac Jogues was captured and tortured by the Mohawk Indians. On the verge of execution, he escaped and was smuggled back to France by the Dutch. He quickly rose to “stardom.” Everyone regarded him as a living Saint and national hero. The Queen of France even stooped to kiss his mangled hands, fingers missing, having being cut or gnawed off by his torturers. St. Isaac could have retired in the safety of France but returned to his mission as soon as he was able. He was killed by a Mohawk brave with a tomahawk.

St. Charles Garnier was ministering to his Huron village when it was attacked. He ran from one burning cabin to another, baptizing and comforting his people when he was shot in the upper chest and lower abdomen. After regaining consciousness he saw a wounded Huron writhing across the room. He pulled himself up and struggled toward the dying man to help him. An Iroquois brave noticed and killed him with his hatchet. He died with hand outstretched, reaching to minister to the wounded. 

St. Rene Goupil was a layman who worked side by side with the Jesuits. When St. Isaac Jogues was captured there was a time when St. Rene could have easily escaped but chose to stay with his friend. He endured weeks of disfiguring tortures, during which he comforted and converted fellow captives who were suffering a similar fate. He was tomahawked while walking side by side with Jogues for teaching a child how to make the sign of the cross. He fell to the ground saying the name of Jesus. 

St. Anthony Daniel had just finished celebrating Mass with his Huron friends at sunrise when the war cries of the Iroquois rang out through his village. He went to those who had been butchered to comfort and baptize them in their last moments. When the Iroquois were headed toward his church to burn it down he sprinted toward them and commanded them to stop. They did for a moment, stunned by this unarmed man’s courage. Then they brought him down with muskets and arrows. 

St. John de Brebeuf was a huge man with amazing courage. Though he lived under constant threat of death, a fellow missionary wrote, “Nothing could upset him during the twelve years I’ve known him.” 

He was the first missionary to enter Huronia. In time he became like one of them. He wrote instructions to those who wanted to join his mission starting with, “You must love these Huron, ransomed by the blood of the Son of God, as brothers.” 

Though he could have escaped, he chose to die with them when Iroquois raided their village. The younger St. Gabriel Lalemont, who had looked up to St. John, remained and died with him as well. Together they underwent some of the most gruesome tortures of any martyr in history for endless hours. Through it all they comforted their fellow captives. John reminded them, “The sufferings will end with your lives. The grandeur which follows will never have an end.” 

Seven years after their deaths, the daughter of an Iroquois chief was born in the very tribe that killed them. She is known today as Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American to be beatified, proving true the words spoken by Tertullian 1,400 years before these martyrs entered paradise, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church!”   

These men set out into nations where a violent, gruesome death was constantly before them. We set out into an increasingly anti-religious culture where we might lose a few friends for standing up for the truth, or at worst, get mocked or sued, but probably not tomahawked. They set out on canoes into uncharted waters filled with tribes who were hunting them down. We set out in our cars to work or the supermarket to bump shoulders with a world that needs to be reminded of God through our words and our charity.   

If only we had a little of the courage of our founding fathers in faith.

St.Luke the Evangelist 


Luke was an Evangelist, the writer of the third Gospel. He never met Christ in person, but in his Gospel he says that he came to know about Jesus by talking to eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection. Hearing those stories helped Luke to become a believer, and he wrote his Gospel so that others would come to know and love Jesus.

Luke was a doctor and he traveled with St. Paul on his second missionary journey. In fact, Paul calls Luke his “beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). Because he cared for the bodily needs of others, Luke is the patron saint of doctors. He is also the patron saint of artists because it is believed that he painted a famous portrait of Mary, our Blessed Mother.

In his Gospel, Luke helps us to know how concerned Jesus was for the sick, the poor, and anyone in need of help, mercy and forgiveness. Luke tells us that Jesus came to save all people. Through Luke’s Gospel, we learn how compassionate and caring Jesus was. Some of the most famous stories Jesus told are found in Luke’s Gospel: The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) and the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-42).

The symbol for Luke’s Gospel is an ox, an animal that was often sacrificed as an offering to God in ancient times. In his writings about Jesus, Luke reminds us of the great sacrifice Jesus made to save all people through his death on the cross and his Resurrection.

Luke is also the author of the Acts of the Apostles. In Acts, we learn about the coming of the Holy Spirit, the work of the Apostles, especially St. Paul, and how the Church grew in the world. He was the one person who was said to have remained with St. Paul during his imprisonment and until his death.

St.Ignatius of Antioch 


The second Bishop of Antioch, Syria, this disciple of the beloved Disciple John was consecrated Bishop around the year 69 by the Apostle Peter, the first Pope. A holy man who was deeply loved by the Christian faithful, he always made it his special care to defend “orthodoxy” (right teaching) and “orthopraxy” (right practice) among the early Christians. 

In 107, during the reign of the brutal Emperor Trajan, this holy Bishop was wrongfully sentenced to death because he refused to renounce the Christian faith. He was taken under guard to Rome where he was to be brutally devoured by wild beasts in a public spectacle. During his journey, his travels took him through Asia Minor and Greece. He made good use of the time by writing seven letters of encouragement, instruction and inspiration to the Christians in those communities. We still have these letters as a great treasure of the Church today. 

The content of the letters addressed the hierarchy and structure of the Church as well as the content of the orthodox Christian faith. It was Bishop Ignatius who first used the term “catholic” to describe the whole Church. These letters connect us to the early Church and the unbroken, clear teaching of the Apostles which was given to them directly by Jesus Christ. They also reveal the holiness of a man of God who became himself a living letter of Christ. The shedding his blood in the witness of holy martyrdom was the culmination of a life lived conformed to Jesus Christ. Ignatius sought to offer himself, in Christ, for the sake of the Church which he loved. His holy martyrdom occurred in the year 107. 

In his pastoral letters he regularly thanked his brother and sister Christians for their concern for his well being but insisted on following through in his final witness of fidelity: “I know what is to my advantage. At last I am becomŹing his disciple. May nothing entice me till I happily make my way to Jesus Christ! Fire, cross, struggles with wild beasts, wrenching of bones, mangling of limbs-let them come to me, provided only I make my way to Jesus Christ. I would rather die and come to Jesus Christ than be king over the entire earth. Him I seek who died for us; him I love who rose again because of us.” 

Bishop Ignatius was not afraid of death. He knew that it had been defeated by the Master. He followed the Lord Jesus into his Passion, knowing that he would rise with Him in his Resurrection. He wrote to the disciples in Rome: “Permit me to imitate my suffering God … I am God’s wheat and I shall be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may become the pure bread of Christ.” The beauty of this Eucharistic symbolism in these words reflects the deep theology of a mystic. He was dedicated to defending the true teaching handed down by the Apostles so that the brothers and sisters in the early Christian communities, and we who stand on their shoulders, would never be led astray by false teaching. He urged them to always listen to their Bishops because they were the successors of the Apostles. He died a Martyrs death in Rome, devoured by two lions in one of the cruel demonstrations of Roman excess and animosity toward the true faith. Anticipating this event he wrote these inspired words: 

A letter to the Romans by St Ignatius of Antioch 

“I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by the teeth of wild animals. I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. I plead with you: show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ’s pure bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God. No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire. 

The time for my birth is close at hand. Forgive me, my brothers. Do not stand in the way of my birth to real life; do not wish me stillborn. My desire is to belong to God. Do not, then, hand me back to the world. Do not try to tempt me with material things. Let me attain pure light. Only on my arrival there can I be fully a human being. Give me the privilege of imitating the passion of my God. If you have him in your heart, you will understand what I wish. You will sympathize with me because you will know what urges me on. 

The prince of this world is determined to lay hold of me and to undermine my will which is intent on God. Let none of you here help him; instead show yourselves on my side, which is also God’s side. Do not talk about Jesus Christ as long as you love this world. Do not harbor envious thoughts. And supposing I should see you, if then I should beg you to intervene on my behalf, do not believe what I say. Believe instead what I am now writing to you. For though I am alive as I write to you – still – my real desire is to die. My love of this life has been crucified, and there is no yearning in me for any earthly thing. Rather within me is the living water which says deep inside me: “Come to the Father.” I no longer take pleasure in perishable food or in the delights of this world. I want only God’s bread, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, formed of the seed of David, and for drink I crave his blood, which is love that cannot perish. 

I am no longer willing to live a merely human life, and you can bring about my wish if you will. Please, then, do me this favour, so that you in turn may meet with equal kindness. Put briefly, this is my request: believe what I am saying to you. Jesus Christ himself will make it clear to you that I am saying the truth. Only truth can come from that mouth by which the Father has truly spoken. Pray for me that I may obtain my desire. I have not written to you as a mere man would, but as one who knows the mind of God. If I am condemned to suffer, I will take it that you wish me well. If my case is postponed, I can only think that you wish me harm.” 

Source:catholiconline.org

St.Gerard Majella~Patron of Expectant Mothers 


St. Gerard Majella is the patron of expectant mothers. He was born in 1726 in Muro, Italy to a family of seven. Majella grew up in a poverty with a great respect for the poor. As he was just 12 when his father passed away, he was forced to grow up fast. Shortly after his father’s death, his mother sent him away to live with his uncle and learn to become a tailor, like his father. After a few years of working as a sewing apprentice, Majella took on a job with the local Bishop of Lacedonia as a servant.

Once Majella began earning money as a journeyman at the age of 21, he split his earnings with his mother, the poor of Muro and the rest in offerings for the poor souls. As the days passed, Majella began to grow pale and thin, often fasting and in prayer at a nearby Cathedral.

He applied to the Capuchin monastery at Muro twice, but was turned down both times. Majella was told his health was not well enough for such a strenuous life. However, Majella did not give up. In 1749, at the age of 23, he joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and just three years later became a professed lay brother.

Majella lived with the three vows of Poverty, Chasity and Obedience. He stayed close with the poor and worked very many different jobs. He served as sacristan, gardener, porter, infirmarian, and tailor. However, because of his great piety, extraordinary wisdom, and his gift of reading consciences, he was permitted to counsel communities of religious women. Majella was often called on by the poor and the sick. Wherever his presence was demanded he graciously presented himself. He was there to “do the Will of God.”

This humble servant of God also had faculties associated with certain mystics including, levitation, bi-location and the ability to read souls. His charity, obedience, and selfless service as well as his ceaseless mortificationfor Christ, made him the perfect model of lay brothers.

Throughout his years of life, several reported miracles are tied to Majella including, restoring a boy’s life after he fell from a high cliff; blessing a poor farmer’s crops, ridding it of mice; blessing a poor family’s supply of wheat, causing it to last until the next harvest; and he multiplied bread for the poor on several occasions.

Along with his miracles effected through prayers for woman in labor, Majella’s last recorded miracle is one that many credit toward his becoming the patron of expectant mothers. Shortly before his death, Majella encountered a young girl. He had dropped his handkerchief and she set out to return it, only to be told to keep it. Majella told her she “may need it someday.” Years after Majella’s passing, the young girl became married and with child. She unexpectedly went into labor and was on the verge of losing her baby. She called for Majella’s handkerchief to be applied to her. Almost immediately, her pain abated and she proceeded to give birth to a healthy child, something very rare during that time.

His prayers are sought for the children, unborn children, women in childbirth, mothers, expectant mothers, motherhood, falsely accused people, good confessions, lay brothers and Muro Lucano, Italy.

Even as Majella became ill with tuberculosis, he only desired to live in God’s will. His one last request was that a small placard be placed on his door stating, “Here the will of God is done, as God wills, and as long as God wills.” Majella was told the Will of God wanted him to get better, and almost at once he became well. However, this only lasted for a month and quickly he became very ill once again. St. Gerard Majella died of disease on October 16, 1755 at the age of 29, living in the religious life for six years.

Due to the numerous miracles performed through Majella’s prayers, proceedings for his canonization began shortly after his death. In 1893, Majella was beatified by Pope Leo XIII and on December 11, 1904, Pope Pius X canonized the man of God.

Prayer: O Great Saint Gerard, beloved servant of Jesus Christ, perfect imitator of your meek and humble Savior, and devoted Child of the Mother of God: enkindle within my heart one spark of that heavenly fire of charity which glowed in your heart and made you an angel of love. O glorious Saint Gerard, because when falsely accused of crime, you did bear, like your Divine master, without murmur or complaint, the calumnies of wicked men, you have been raised up by God as the Patron and Protector of expectant mothers. Preserve me from danger and from the excessive pains accompanying childbirth, and shield the child which I now carry, that it may see the light of day and receive the lustral waters of baptism through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source:catholiconline.org 

St.Margaret Mary~Messenger of the Sacred Heart


Saint Margaret Mary was born at L’Hautecour, Burgundy, France, on July 22, 1647 to Claude Alacoque and Philiberte Lamyn. Her father died when she was about eight years old, leaving her family in a precarious financial situation and at the mercy of some rapacious relatives. As a young girl, she was stricken with rheumatic fever, and the resulting paralysis forced her to be bedridden for the next four years until the age of fifteen. It was during this time that she developed an intense devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and made a vow to the Blessed Virgin to consecrate herself to religious life. During these hard times Margaret continued her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and Christ made His presence known to her. She later wrote, “At that time, all my desire was to seek happiness and comfort in the Blessed Sacrament.”
On May 25, 1671, at the age of 23, Margaret entered the Order of the Visitation convent at Paray-le-Monial. She pronounced her final vows on November 6, 1672 and took the name Mary. During her retreat before her profession, she had a vision of Jesus in which He said, “Behold the wound in my side, wherein you are to make your abode, now and forever.” The Lord continued to appear to her in visions and on December 27, 1673, the feast of Saint John the Evangelist, as she knelt at the grill before the exposed Blessed Sacrament, she experienced a vision in which the Lord told her to take the place that Saint John had occupied at the Last Supper, and that she would act as His instrument. Jesus revealed His Sacred Heart as a symbol of His love for mankind, saying, “My divine Heart is so inflamed with love for mankind … that it can no longer contain within itself the flames of its burning charity and must spread them abroad by your means.” She described that His Heart was on fire and surrounded by a crown of thorns. Our Lord told her that the flames represented His love for humanity, and the thorns represented man’s sinfulness and ingratitude. Jesus informed her that her mission was to establish the devotion to His Most Sacred Heart, and He revealed twelve promises that He would bestow upon all those who practice the devotion.

She had three more visions over the next year and a half in which Jesus instructed her in a devotion that was to become known as the Nine Fridays. Christ also inspired Margaret Mary to establish the Holy Hour and to receive Holy Communion on the first Friday of every month. In the final revelation, the Lord asked that a feast of reparation be instituted for the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi.

Margaret Mary told her superior, Mother de Saumaise, about the visions and was treated with contempt. She was forbidden to carry out any of the religious devotions that had been requested of her in her visions. She became ill from the strain, and her superior, looking for a divine sign, vowed to believe the visions if Margaret Mary was cured. Margaret Mary prayed and recovered, and her superior kept her promise. There was a group within the convent who remained skeptical, however. Her superior ordered Margaret Mary to present her experiences to theologians, but they were judged to be delusions.

Blessed Claude de la Colombiere, a holy and experienced Jesuit, arrived as confessor to the nuns, and in him Margaret Mary recognized the understanding guide that had been promised to her in the visions. He became convinced that her experiences were genuine and adopted the teaching of the Sacred Heart that the visions had communicated to her. Her revelations were made known to the community when they were read aloud in the refectory from a book written by Blessed Claude. Her revelations in the open, she encouraged devotion to the Sacred Heart, especially among her novices, who observed the feast in 1685. A chapel was built in 1687 at Paray in honor of the Sacred Heart, and devotion began to spread in other convents of the Visitidines, as well as throughout France.

Margaret Mary became ill and died on October 17, 1690 during the fourth anointing step of the last rites. As she received the Last Sacrament, she said, “I need nothing but God, and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus.”

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was officially recognized and approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1765, seventy-five years after her death. Margaret Mary was declared Venerable in March, 1824 by Pope Leo XII, and she was pronounced Blessed on September 18, 1864 by Pope Pius IX. The inauguration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus occurred in 1856, and Margaret Mary was canonized by Benedict XV in 1920.

St.Teresa of Avila~Reformer of the Carmelites 


The first 40 years of Teresa’s life gave no clue to the rich depth and productivity of the second half of her life. Born Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada in central Spain, she spent her early years with her family, giving herself to the duties of extended family life. At age 21, against her father’s wishes, she professed vows as a Carmelite at the Spanish Convent of the Incarnation in Avila.
Still, according to her own account, she waffled spiritually. The convent was known for its leniency, for example, permitting relationships with those outside the convent and allowing worldly possessions within. Teresa, enjoying the convent’s indulgences, waned in her devotion. Then a serious, prolonged illness (and partial paralysis from an attempted cure) forced her to spend three years in relative quiet, during which time she read books on the spiritual life. When she recovered and returned to the convent she resumed what to her later seemed only a half-hearted spirituality. Of these years, she wrote in her Autobiography, “I voyaged on this tempestuous sea for almost 20 years with these fallings and risings.”

Then one day while walking down a hallway in the convent, her glance fell on a statue of the wounded Christ, and the vision of his constant love throughout her inconstancy pierced her heart. Gently but powerfully, she said Jesus began to break down her defenses and reveal to her the cause of her spiritual exhaustion: her dalliance with the delights of sin.

She immediately broke with her past, undergoing a final conversion. After this, she began experiencing profound mystical raptures, though these soon passed. For the rest of her life, she gave herself completely to her spiritual growth and the renewal of the Carmelite monasteries.

A spiritual legacy

Teresa dreamed of establishing convents where young women could pursue deep lives of deep prayer and devotion. She once wrote, “Whoever has not begun the practice of prayer, I beg for the love of the Lord not to go without so great a good. There is nothing here to fear but only something to desire.” Teresa spent days on end traveling the countryside establishing reformed (or “Discalced,” meaning “unshod,” that is, more simple) Carmelite convents. She convinced John of the Cross to join her in this work.

Her success as an administrator and reformer (she founded 14 monasteries) was due in part to her natural leadership gifts, her tenacity in the face of adversity (especially from older Carmelites who resented her reforms), and a keen sense of humor. Once when praying about her many trials and sufferings, she heard she heard Jesus say, “But this is how I treat my friends.” Teresa replied, “No wonder you have so few friends.”

Yet it is her gift of spiritual direction, practiced personally with nuns and publicly in her writings, for which she is known today.

She was hesitant to put her insights to paper and had to be ordered by her superiors to do so. Thankfully for later generations, she obeyed: her three works, Autobiography, Way of Perfection, and Interior Castle, contain some of the most profound insights into the spiritual life ever written.

To take one example, considered by many her masterpiece: Interior Castle describes the soul as a “castle made entirely of diamond or of a very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms.” Some are above, some below, some to the sides, “and in the very center and middle is the main dwelling place where the very secret exchanges between God and the soul take place.” Teresa wanted to teach her readers how to enter this castle, that is, how to pray, so that they might commune more intimately with God.

For Teresa, prayer is the source of Christian life and the wellspring of all moral virtues. Prayer is not everything, but without prayer, nothing else is possible. By prayer does the soul enter the Castle, and by prayer does the soul continue the journey. Under this umbrella of prayer, God works, in mysterious, often unpredictable ways, and the soul works strongly. Without the soul’s active compliance, God will not move (though human effort cannot do what God alone must do).

From the First Dwelling Place, where the soul begins to pray, to the Seventh Dwelling Place, where the soul, united to God, finds both perfect peace and deepest suffering, the person builds on prayer and the progressive disengagement from the things of this world. But unlike her partner in reform, John of the Cross, Teresa’s understanding of disengagement is not ascetic. On the contrary, for Teresa true suffering comes from being in the world and serving others. Spiritual progress is measured neither by self-imposed penance nor by the sweetest pleasures of mystical experiences but by growth in constant love for others and an increasing desire within for the will of God.

This love for her sisters and brothers and this union with the will of God compelled Teresa onward in constant efforts. To someone who encouraged her to rest, she once said, “Rest, indeed! I need no rest; what I need is crosses.” In her last years, her health suffered, as did her reputation with church authorities, who sought to restrict her influence. On yet another mission of service, her body exhausted, Teresa died reciting verses from the Song of Songs.

Blessed Alexandrina Da Costa~Victim Soul of the Eucharist 


The village of Balazar is located 40 miles north of Oporto, made up of small houses of stone with a population of about 1,000 people. The village is surrounded by vineyards and fields of corn, dates and olives. The Church of Balazar is dedicated to the Holy Cross. Erected in 1832, commemorating the mysterious apparition that year of a cross made on the ground. In a report sent to the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Braga, the pastor of the parish testifies the happenings of that day:

“I’m writing to make you aware of the happenings in the Parish of St. Eulalia de Balasar. During our latest celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi, the faithful were coming towards the Church and noticed a cross of a lighter color formed on the ground. The morning dew was all over the area, except on the cross. I myself went and touched and moved around the ground where the cross was formed, but the same image reappeared in the same place. Later, I ordered water to be poured over the same area, but the cross reappeared again and it has remained ever since.”

Many people came to see this phenomenon of the cross to venerate it with flowers and offerings. Till this day, the cross remains in the same place, and it continues to be a challenge to erase it. 

Alexandrina lives the mystery of Cross 

East of Balazar we find the Church of St. Eulalia where on April 2, 1904, Alejandrina Maria da Costa was baptized. She was born on Wednesday of Holy Week, March 30th of the same year. She is the daughter of very devout and hard working farmers. Her father died shortly after her birth. Alejandrina grew up with her older sister Deolinda in a very simple, devout, and pious environment. 

In the writings of Alejandrina de Costa, she makes three references to the cross, the last one dated Jan. 14th, 1955. While in ecstasy, she heard the voice of our Lord saying to her: “A century ago I revealed to this village the cross that comes to receive the victim. Oh Balazar, if you don’t respond ! . . . A cross made of dirt for the victim that is offered for nothing . . . The victim is chosen by God and has always existed in His eternal designs. Victim for the world, but favored more by celestial blessings, who has given ALL to heaven for love of souls, she accepts ALL. Trust, believe my daughter, I’m here!

All your life is written and sealed with a key of gold.” (Alejandrina: Her Agony and Her Glory)

During the first years of her life she was fascinated by the religious processions that took place around the village during days of great celebration. At age three, while resting one afternoon with her mother, she saw a jar of cream on the table. She leaned over carefully not to awaken her mother, and reached out for the jar. When her mother called her, she was surprised and the jar fell on the floor and broke into pieces. Having lost her balance, Alejandrina fell on the floor, consequently injuring her lip and created a scar for the rest of her life. She was then taken to the nearest clinic. Her mother, Maria Ana, anxiously cleaned off the blood flowing from her mouth. A generous assistant gave Alejandrina a bag of candies in order to calm her down, but Alejandrina responded by screaming, kicking, and hitting. 

“This was my first offense,” she wrote years later in her autobiography, dictated to her sister Deolinda by order of her spiritual director. Alejandrina was a very active, joyful child, full of life, but never jeopardizing her precocious spirituality with her humor and spontaneous character. 

Years later she wrote the following experience:

“Upon the death of our uncle, Deolinda and I stayed at the house with his family for seven days after his death to assist at the Masses offered for the deceased. One morning I was asked to go and get a bag of rice in the room where my uncle’s body lay. When I got to the door I did not have the courage to enter. I was so frightened that my sister had to get the rice. That same night I was ordered to go and close the window of that same room. As I approached the door, I felt my knees trembling and again I was unable to enter. I said to myself: ‘I have to fight against this fear,’ I opened the door slowly and walked around the room where my uncle was. Since that day, with the help of God, I am able to manage my fears.”

By the time she was ready for her First Communion, at age 7, Alejandrina had a profound love for the Eucharist, visiting the Blessed Sacrament with unusual frequency and doing spiritual communions on occasions she was unable to attend daily Mass. On one occasion, an aunt of Alejandrina who suffered from cancer asked her to remember her in her prayers. The child responded with such perseverance and fervor that this habit of prayer continued in the soul of Alejandrina ever since.

Later she wrote: “I’ve always had great respect for priests. At one time I found myself sitting on the stairs at the entrance of the village and I saw priests walk through the streets. I stood as I was accustomed to stand up in respect when they passed by in front of me. They took off their hats and said “May God bless you!” I realized people would stare at me because I had the habit of sitting at the same place on purpose in order to see the priests enter the village and show my reverence to them.”

Due to the privations of the rural life at the time, Alejandrina only assisted school for 18 months and was sent to work in the fields. She was hardworking and exposed to bad habits and vocabulary from the other workers who worked with her. After 3 years, an employee of the area tried to attack and abuse her. The Lord protected her with the grace of an extraordinary strength that came while she held the holy rosary in her hand.

After this serious incident, the child was returned to her home. This opportunity allowed her to renew her love and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. In that same year, she became ill with typhoid. Her mother would give her the crucifix for her to kiss and Alejandrina would move her head and murmur : “ I want Jesus in the Eucharist.” Finally she recovered her health and was transferred to the hospital in Povoa located in the Atlantic coast. Upon returning to Balazar her health was poor, she was very weak and virtually paralyzed. Alejandrina dedicated herself to sewing with her sister Deolinda.

She became paralyzed to defend her purity 


 Just like Saint Maria Goretti, the Italian martyr of purity, Alejandrina would rather embrace death before yielding to sin. In 1918, an incident occurred that would mark Alejandrina’s life forever. She was in the second floor bedroom of her house with Deolinda and another young friend when three men approached and insisted with a strong voice to allow them to enter. Alejandrina looked out the window and recognized one of the men, the one who tried to attack her some years ago while working in the field. She rapidly closed the door, but the men were able to enter through an emergency door in the roof. Deolinda and the other young lady were able to flee, but Alejandrina was cornered in the room by this man. She screamed: “ Jesus, help me! ” hitting the man with her rosary.

Behind her was a window, about 13 feet high. It was the only way out. She preferred to jump out the window with the possibility of death before consenting to the low passions of this man. 

The fall was severe and with much pain. With excruciating pain and grinding her teeth she crawled her way into the house. Her vertical spine was irreparably injured. Alejandrina was 14 years old. What followed were many long years of pain that increased unceasingly, along with incapacity and depression, but she never yielded to desperation or weakness. 

Completely paralyzed on April 14th of 1924, she became bedridden for life at 20 years of age. Her distraught family prayed for her every night, united around her bed they would light two candles to the image of our Lady and prayed the Holy Rosary on their knees.Alejandrina would spend her days praying, meditating, asking our Blessed Mother for healing; she would ask Jesus “his blessing from heaven and from all the tabernacles in the world.”

Because of her increased love for prayer her distractions diminished. She started to desire more and more a life of greater union with Jesus. This union that she perceived could only take place by orienting all her incapacities and illness towards the Love of Jesus. She soon understood the idea that “suffering was her vocation.” At the end of this same year, Alejandrina found herself immersed in the sublime desire to offer herself to God as a victim soul for the conversion of sinners.

After praying and discerning, she felt confident that our Lord was calling her to live a life of love and reparation, offering voluntarily all the sufferings to the Beloved for the conversion of sinners. Like St. Paul, Alejandrina was able to say, “ At present I rejoice when I suffer for you; I complete in my own flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, which is the Church.” (Colossians 1:24)

Alexandrina and Fatima

News of the apparitions of our Lady of Fatima started to reach the village, 200 miles south. Healings and miracles were reported at Fatima. A pilgrimage was organized to go to Fatima from Balazar. Having a great devotion and love to Our Lady, Alejandrina wanted to be completely sure of God’s will for her in relation to her call to suffering. She asked Our Lady to allow her to go and accompany the pilgrims. The parish priest and the doctors insisted that the trip would be deadly for her condition, so the pilgrims departed without her.

After all the pilgrims left, Alejandrina closed her eyes and started to pray, offering to the Lord the sacrifice of her abandonment and desolation. As she prayed her mind was transported to the Blessed Sacrament in the Church of St. Eulalia, close to her home. Unexpectedly, she received a divine illumination. She was able to understand that Our Lord is also a prisoner in the tabernacle.

This unity with Jesus allowed her to visit Him spiritually and to be constantly in His presence, loving Him unceasingly and praying, offering herself in immolation to console His Sacred Heart and to obtain the conversion of sinners. Recollected and moved by tears, Alejandrina pleaded to the Lord to allow her to suffer to the limit that she could tolerate if this would help the sinners to be delivered from the fires of hell.

She was unable to go to Fatima, but the Virgin Mary granted her the grace to understand and live the messages in the most perfect way, intimately uniting herself to the desire of the Blessed Virgin. By offering her passion in this way, Alejandrina became a victim soul for love of the Eucharist and the consecration to the Immaculate Heart, which are fundamental messages of Fatima.

In response to the courageous petition, her pain increased until becoming almost intolerable. Night after night, with very high fever Alejandrina awoke with her head on her pillow and with the rosary clasped strongly in her hands so as to receive strength from each Hail Mary. With tears, she prayed exclaiming and repeating the prayer Our Lady had taught her in Fatima: “Oh, Jesus, it is because I love you, for conversion of sinners and in reparation for all the offenses to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

She lived the Passion of Jesus


Alejandrina experienced 180 ecstasies of the Passion, preceded by many hours of fear and horror as midday of Good Friday approached. This fear was generally accompanied by an intense sadness, nausea, and a strong sensation of loneliness.

 For seven years she was unable to forget her first crucifixion. She wrote: ” All seemed to be present before me, I felt the fear and horror of those bitter hours, the anxiety of my spiritual director at my side, and my family in tears and horrified.” Minutes after midday on October 3rd, 1938, Our Lord invited Alejandrina to immerse herself in His Passion: “See, my daughter, Calvary is ready, do you accept?” Alejandrina courageously accepted. Witnesses held their breath while she was in ecstasy. Even though she was paralyzed, she would recover movement in her body and almost levitated from her bed with the same movements of Jesus in the Agony of the Garden of Olives to Calvary.

At the end of one of her ecstasies at 3:00 pm, Alejandrina raised her arms in thanksgiving and exhausted in horror, she immediately cried: “No, Jesus, no, Jesus, crucify me !! Forgive, forgive, forgive !!! They have the same right as I have, you died on the cross for them, like you did for me. Jesus I don’t want any soul to go to hell. I love you for them. Forgive them Jesus, remember me in my crucifixion. Hell is the worst place.” This dialogue reminds us of Saint Gemma Galgani, a mystic of the end of the 19th century.

A few days later, Alejandrina suffered terrible pain, she vomited blood and was tortured by an unquenchable thirst. Water was not enough; she was unable to swallow a drop of water. She started to perceive the strong odor of sin: “they were repulsive odors,” she related in her autobiography. “Perfumes and violets were brought to me, but I rejected them because I was still tormented by this vile odor. Just to remember these things make me suffer.” 
She is nourished only on the Eucharist

One day she heard the voice of God say to her: “You will not be nourished any longer with food from the earth. Your food will be My Flesh, your drink will be My Divine Blood, your life will be My Life. You receive it from me when I unite my Heart to yours. Do not be afraid, you will no longer be crucified like in the past, now new trials await you that will be the most painful ones. But at the end I will take you to heaven and the Blessed Mother will accompany you.”

Her last ecstasy of the Passion occurred on March 27,th 1942 on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Sorrows.


During the last 13years of her life, Alejandrina ate and drank nothing. She was nourished exclusively by the Holy Eucharist.

Her thirst was only satisfied by God Himself. She was submitted to many medical studies; the last one was performed by: professor Joao Marques, a teacher of Medical Sciences at the University of Pernambuco; a well-known conference speaker from the faculty of this university; a professor of the nutrition department of the School of Social Services; and the President of the Gastronomy and Nutrition of Pernambuco.

Alejandrina shared with her spiritual director what the Lord said to her: “You will live only on the Eucharist because I want to show the entire world the power of the Eucharist and the power of My life in souls.”

During her long agony she heard the voice of God saying to her: “Give me your hands because I want to nail them to mine. Give me your head because I want to crown it with thorns like it was done to Me. Give me your heart because I want to pierce it with a lance like My Heart was pierced by one. Abandon yourself completely to ME . . .Help Me in the redemption of humanity.”

Her death


Alejandrina died a little after receiving the Holy Eucharist on October 13th, 1955, the 38th anniversary of the miracle of the sun in Fatima. Her last words before death were: “Don’t cry for me, today I’m immensely happy . . . . at last I’m going to heaven.”

To the priest, pilgrims, and reporters who crowded the place, she gave a message that should move all humanity: “Do not sin anymore. The pleasures of this life are worth nothing. Receive Holy Communion; pray the Holy Rosary daily. This resumes everything.”
 At her her death, Alejandrina requested to be buried facing the tabernacle of the Church, saying: “In life I always desired to be united to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to look at the tabernacle at all times that I was able; after my death I want to continue contemplating, always having my eyes constantly on Our Eucharistic Lord.”

She dictated to her sister Deolinda her epitaph which still exists today over her tomb: “Sinners: if the ashes of my body are worthy enough to save you, come close. If it is necessary, step on them until they disappear, but do not sin anymore. Do not offend Our dear Lord anymore. Convert. Don’t lose Jesus for all Eternity. He is so good !!”

The process of beatification for Alejandrina was solemnly opened by the Archbishop of Braga in 1973, completed, and sent to Rome. Many miracles occurred through her intercession. 

Alejandrina Maria de Costa was solemnly beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 26th, 2004.

Prayer

Mother of Jesus and our Mother, hear our prayer. We consecrate to you our bodies and our hearts. Mold them Blessed Mother, fill them with your love. Like Alejandrina, may we also be close to the tabernacle with Jesus, so that we may serve Him like lighted lamps while we live in this world. Bless and sanctify us, Oh, loving Mother of Heaven! May we also be prisoners of love. Purify us so that we may desire what is undesirable for love of Jesus, your Son and Our Lord. 

Novena for personal use

Oh Jesus, who rejoice in the simple and humble souls, many times ignored, forgotten and despised by men! Exult your Servant Blessed Alejandrina who always desired to live hidden in the world and away from greatness.

Oh, Lord Jesus so often in our times we need lessons on holiness, which is the full realization of our human and Christian vocation, and, therefore, the elevation of the human being to the beauty of love and moral state. Bless your Servant Blessed Alejandrina, and hear the petitions which we offer through her intercession. Grant us especially the grace …………..(name the intention), if it is for honor and glory of your Name Jesus, and the glorification of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and salvation of sinners, for whom Blessed Alejandrina admirably immolated herself. Amen 

“Keep me company in the Blessed Sacrament. I remain in the tabernacle night and day, waiting to give my love and grace to all who would visit me. But so few come. I am so abandoned, so lonely, so offended…. Many…do not believe in my existence; they do not believe that I live in the tabernacle. They curse me. Others believe, but do not love me and do not visit me; they live as if I were not there… You have chosen to love me in the tabernacles where you can contemplate me, not with the eyes of the body, but those of the soul. I am truly present there as in Heaven, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.”

Blessed Alexandrina, pray for us to increase our love for the Eucharist!

 https://youtu.be/-SdJjHPb92s

Blessed Maria Terese Fasce  


Maria Terese of Cascia was born in Torriglia, a small town near Genoa, Italy in 1881 to a middle-class family. Her parents had her baptized with the name Maria, but throughout her life, she was called “Marietta.”
Although Marietta lost her mother when she was eight, she was well looked after by her older sister. Religious values were taught at home and Marietta was enrolled in school where she did well. Marietta was lively and vivacious, and she responded well to instruction.

In Genoa, she attended the Augustinian parish of Our Lady of Consolation, a place where she would be greatly inspired to her life’s vocation as a nun. Marietta met her confessor there, Father Mariono Ferriello, who encouraged her to pursue her vocation. Marietta was also taught catechism there along with signing. She also learned extensively about St. Augustine, whose spirituality greatly influenced her.

The singular event, which influenced Marietta the most, however, was the canonization of St. Rita of Cascia. Pope Leo XIII canonized St. Rita on May 24, 1900. Along with the canonization, there were lectures, liturgical celebrations, and other events celebrating the life of St. Rita. This influenced Marietta to live a religious life.

Marietta had been contemplating a religious lifestyle for some time, but the canonization of St. Rita compelled her to announce her intentions to her family, who took the news badly. Marietta’s brothers were particularly negative about her decision. Still, Marietta was undeterred and she felt absolutely sure she wanted to enter the convent.

Marietta applied for admission to a Ligurian Augustinian monastery, but she was rejected, news which shocked and surprised her. The monastery’s abbess, Mother Giuseppina Gattarelli, explained she felt that Marietta, accustomed to life in the city, would not be able to handle the spartan rigors of a rural monastery. Still, Marietta was tenacious; she reapplied and was accepted in 1906.

Thus, in 1906, Marietta began her religious career.

On Christmas night of 1906, Marietta was given her habit and one year later she took vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. The name, “Teresa Eletta” was given to her.

Unfortunately for Marietta (now Maria Teresa Eletta) she discovered a monastery in crisis. A group of seven young sisters from Visso who were much more relaxed in their practice than the older sisters created a generational crisis. The levity and laughter did little to promote Maria’s spiritual growth and disappointment and doubt began to develop in her mind. In June of 1910, Maria Theresa left the monastery to reexamine her decision.

However, Maria returned in May of 1911, more confirmed than ever. The following March, she made her solemn profession of the vows. She promptly protested the situation at the monastery by writing letters to the superiors. Impressed with her alacrity, she was soon appointed to Mistress of Novices in 1914. In 1917, she became Vicar, and in 1920 her sisters unanimously elected her Abbess. She would hold that position until her death in 1947.

Maria Teresa was remembered as a strict, but practical woman who was also very sweet to her community. She made clear to all that Jesus wants active, hard working brides, and that being such would be their duty. She rigidly observed the Augustinian Rule.

Despite her rigidity, her community remembered her for her great tenderness and friendliness. She was not considered a dictator, but a genuine spiritual leader with great charisma.

Maria Terese was also known for her great stamina. As abbess, she directed the construction of a new church for Saint Rita and a girl’s orphanage. This project consumed much of her tenure, and in fact, the church was not completed until several months after her death.

Maria Terese also spent much of her time in illness, suffering from painful afflictions. She suffered with a malignant tumor on her right breast and was compelled to undergo two surgeries. She referred to her tumor as “her treasure” and explained that it was the most beautiful gift which Jesus had given to her. She also suffered from asthma, diabetes, and circulatory problems which caused great pain in her feet. She became very overweight and had difficulty walking. Later in her tenure, her sisters had to carry her in a chair.

Despite her pain, she never complained about her illness and she never slowed the pace of her activity. Her condition has been compared to the suffering of Christ, which like Jesus, she bore with patience and reverence.

Maria Terese died on January 18, 1947. She was laid to rest in a crypt next to her beloved St. Rita. Pope John Paul beautified her in July 1997.

Augustinians celebrate her feast day on October 12.

~Source:catholiconline.org 

St.John XXIII~The Good Pope 


The man who would be Pope John XXIII was born in the small village of Sotto il Monte in Italy, on November 25, 1881. He was the fourth of fourteen children born to poor parents who made their living by sharecropping. Named Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the baby would eventually become one of the most influential popes in recent history, changing the Church forever.

Roncalli’s career within the Church began in 1904 when he graduated from university with a doctorate in theology. He was ordained a priest thereafter and soon met Pope Pius X in Rome.

By the following year, 1905, Roncalli was appointed to act as secretary for his bishop, Giacomo Radini-Tedeschi. He continued working as the bishop’s secretary until the bishop died in August 1914. The bishop’s last words to Roncalli were, “Pray for peace.”

Such words mattered in August 1914 as the world teetered on the brink of World War I. Italy was eventually drawn into the war and Roncalli was drafted into the Italian Army as a stretcher bearer and chaplain.

Roncalli did his duty and was eventually discharged from the army in 1919. Free to serve the Church in new capacities he was appointed to be the Italian president of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, handpicked by Pope Benedict XV.

Then in February 1925, Roncalli was summoned to the Vatican and given a new mission. This time he was sent to Bulgaria as the Apostolic Visitor to that country. Later, he was appointed aspostolic delegate to Turkey and Greece and made archbishop of Mesembria.

Beginning in 1935, racial tensions and anti-Jewish sentiment began to explode into actual acts of violence against the Jews and other ethnic minorities. Roncalli started using his influence to save what people he could from the depredation of both local authorities and later the Nazis. During his tenure as archbishop, Roncalli saved thousands of Jews, enough that he was named a “Righteous Gentile” following the war.

In late 1944, the Church was anxious to remove clergy in France that had collaborated with the Nazis in various forms. Roncalli was appointed as the new papal Nuncio and sent to France to negotiate the retirement of bishops who were involved with the Nazis.

In 1952, Roncalli was offered a new position, this time as Patriarch of Venice. At the same time he assumed his new title, Roncalli became the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca. He assumed his new responsibilities on March 15, 1953.

Roncalli’s papal predecessor died on October 9, 1958 and he was soon summoned to Rome where he was to participate in the process of selecting a new pope. The College eventually settled on Roncalli for election and he accepted, saying “I will be called John,” a surprising choice because of that name’s association with schism.

As Pope John XXIII, he immediately began to change the culture in the Vatican. On Christmas, 1958, he resumed the papal practice of making visits to the community within the official Diocese of Rome. He visited the sick, the poor, and prisoners. He apologized for episodes of anti-Semitism within the Church carried on by some of his predecessors.

It was originally expected that Pope John XXIII would only serve a short time before passing away and that he would make no significant changes to Church practice. However, Pope John XXIII was a man of great mercy and kindness and much like Pope Francis of today, he did many things that created sensation in the streets and pews.

Perhaps his most influential decision was the call for an ecumenical council which would be known as Vatican II. As a result of this council, many practices of the classic Church would be altered with a new emphasis on ecumenism and a new liturgy.

Pope John XXIII addressed several topic of importance to Catholics around the world. He prohibited the use of contraceptives which interfere with the procreative will of God. He upheld the traditional view that married couples may not divorce. He also moved to protect the Church from scandal, ordering confidentiality when dealing with matters of clergy accused of the sexual abuse of children. How his request to the bishops of his time was interpreted remains subject to debate.

By late 1962, Pope John XXIII has executed most of the work for which he would be known. He was, like his own sister before him, diagnosed with stomach cancer, which was a terminal diagnosis for that time.

In his last months, he offered to negotiate peace between the Soviet Union and the United States, then at the height of the Cold War. The offer, although declined, was popular in both countries. In the wake of the news, John XXIII was the first pope to be honored as the Time Magazine Man of the Year.

Pope John XXIII did the best he could although his health and doctors were failing. On June 3, 1963, Pope John XXIII died in his bed at age 81.

The world mourned John XXIII and he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Johnson in December 1963.

Pope John XXIII generally maintained a good reputation among those who remembered him and he was often titled “the Good.”

On September 3, 2000, Pope John Paul beatified him. Miracles were attributed to him and his body was found to be in an uncorrupted state, a phenomenon consistent with sainthood. His body was put on display for the veneration of the faithful.

Pope Francis approved John XXIII for canonization on June 3, 2013, the 50th anniversary of his death.

Bl. Pope John XXIII was canonized on April 27, 2014 alongside Bl. Pope John Paul II in a historic ceremony presided by Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis. It was a historic ceremony with two living men with the title of pontiff presiding together.

Pope John XXIII’s feast day is October 11, as opposed to the day of his death, which is June 3. This special feast day is intended as a commemoration of the opening of the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962.

Source:catholiconline.org