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.
There Is No Security From Temptation In This Life
The Voice of Christ
My child, in this life you are never safe, and as long as you live the weapons of the spirit will ever be necessary to you. You dwell among enemies. You are subject to attack from the right and the left. If, therefore, you do not guard yourself from every quarter with the shield of patience, you will not remain long unscathed.
Moreover, if you do not steadily set your heart on Me, with a firm will to suffer everything for My sake, you will not be able to bear the heat of this battle or to win the crown of the blessed. You ought, therefore, to pass through all these things bravely and to oppose a strong hand to whatever stands in your way. For to him who triumphs heavenly bread is given, while for him who is too lazy to fight there remains much misery.
If you look for rest in this life, how will you attain to everlasting rest? Dispose yourself, then, not for much rest but for great patience. Seek true peace, not on earth but in heaven; not in men or in other creatures but in God alone. For love of God you should undergo all things cheerfully, all labors and sorrows, temptations and trials, anxieties, weaknesses, necessities, injuries, slanders, rebukes, humiliations, confusions, corrections, and contempt. For these are helps to virtue. These are the trials of Christ’s recruit. These form the heavenly crown. For a little brief labor I will give an everlasting crown, and for passing confusion, glory that is eternal.
Do you think that you will always have spiritual consolations as you desire? My saints did not always have them. Instead, they had many afflictions, temptations of various kinds, and great desolation. Yet they bore them all patiently. They placed their confidence in God rather than in themselves, knowing that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to come. And you — do you wish to have at once that which others have scarcely obtained after many tears and great labors?
Wait for the Lord, act bravely, and have courage. Do not lose trust. Do not turn back but devote your body and soul constantly to God’s glory. I will reward you most plentifully. I will be with you in every tribulation.
Using Sacramentals As Weapons In Spiritual Warfare
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes Sacramentals as Sacred signs that bear a resemblance to the sacraments.They signify effects especially of a spiritual kind,that are obtained through the Church’s intercession.Through Sacramentals,we are disposed to receive the primary effects of the sacraments,and they make holy various ocassions in life.(CCC 1667)
Sacramentals include certain actions,such as the sign of the cross and other blessings,as well as objects that have been blessed,such as holy water,salt,candles,incense,rosaries,crucifixes,Scapulars,and religious images.Sacramentals don’t confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way the sacraments do,but through the prayers of the church associated with them,their actions and objects prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it.
The Sign of the Cross.St.Athanasius wrote that before the coming of Christ,demonic powers used to deceive the pagans into worshipping them and obeying their oracles.But now he observed in the 4th century,”since the divine appearance of the Word(Christ)all this deception has come to an end.For by the Sign of the Cross,if a man will only use it,their deceptions are driven out.
In one of his sermons,St.John Vianney preached:”The sign of the cross is the most terrible weapon of the devil.For this reason the church displays images of the cross so that we can have it continually in front of our minds to recall to us just what our souls are worth and what they cost Jesus Christ.For the same reason the church wants us to make the Sign of the Cross ourselves at every juncture of our day:when we go to bed,when we awaken during the night,when we get up,when we begin any action,and above all when we are tempted.Fill your children,my dear brethren,with the greatest respect for the Cross,and always have a blessed cross on yourselves.Resoect for the Cross will protect you against the Devil,from the vengeance of heaven,and from all danger”.
Blessings and blessed objects.Both the blessings that are given by the clergy and the blessings spoken by lay people as part of their daily lives(such as table grace)are important Sacramentals.They can sanctify our thoughts,our actions,and our surroundings in a way that repels the enemy.We see their power most clearly when used to remedy the demonic infestation of a building or object through a priestly blessing with holy water.
Throughout the centuries,the testimony of many Christians,including a number of saints,confirms that objects Blessed by a priest,through the power of the Church’s intercession,can repel demonic powers.Again and again evil spirits have recoiled in dread,not just from the Sign of the Cross,but also from holy water and Blessed oil,crosses,crucifixes,medals,candles,or salt.
These can be used by priests in exorcisms as well as by lay Christians in everyday life.So the faithful sometimes keep such Sacramentals in their homes.The home itself (as well as other buildings) can be blessed by a priest as well.
St.Benedict medals in particular are known as “devil chasing medals”,in part because St.Benedict was known to be a champion in spiritual warfare.These medals typically have on their reverse side the initial letters of the Latin words in an ancient prayer against the evil one which begins,Vade retro satana:”Get back,Satan!”This command is similar to Jesus’ exclamation “Get behind me,Satan”(Matthew 16:23).The rest of the prayer says,”Never tempt me with your vanities!What you offer me is evil.Drink the poison yourself!”
Blessed objects may also be worn or carried,especially rosaries,Scapulars,crucifixes,and medals.Given Our Lady’s Power against the devil,we should be regularly praying the Rosary as well,not just carrying it around!
~Excerpts from “Manual of Spiritual Warfare”
“If you cry, I won’t come to your house any more” -The miraculous cure of Paolo Nigro.
Paolo Nigro received a degree in Humanities in 1936 and took a second degree in Philosophy in 1940. He considered himself an atheist and his Philosophy thesis was a denial of the existence of God. He later taught in high school, all the while maintaining his ideas. His wife however was strong in her faith. Because she was an orphan, she had been brought up and educated in a convent run by Carmelite nuns and she had stayed there until she was twenty-two. Together they made their home in Taranto.
When Paolo was still very full of intellectual vigour and feeling quite fit, he was suddenly struck by an grave illness. He had a dry pleurisy and in the spring of 1950 it was bringing him close to death; the doctors in fact had eventually declared they could do nothing more for him.
One Saturday evening in April at 10pm two men knocked at the door of his house; they introduced themselves: Otello Risaliti was a warrant officer in the Navy and the other was a man named Carlo Lusardi. Since Paolo’s wife Maria did not know them, she of course did not want to let them in the house, for she was alone with her two children and her seriously ill husband. At this time, he was gravely ill and had had a very high temperature of 105°F for two weeks. At times he was delirious, and seemed at death’s door.
The two men insisted saying: “Padre Pio has sent us and we have to say the rosary for the man here who is seriously ill”.
The poor woman had never even heard of Padre Pio and therefore she was unsure what to do. She told the men to wait at the door and went and had a word with her sick husband, who having heard that the men spoke of saying the rosary, he gave his permission, and so finally she let them in.
Here it must be said that a few years before, in 1946, Prof. Nigro had slightly changed his opinion as an atheist. He had surprised everyone when he had requested to meet the Archbishop of Taranto, Mons Bernardi, to whom Prof Nigro related a story of how he had had a kind of vision in which he saw Our Lady’s profile. After this vision he started to go to Mass, even though he didn’t go regularly. We can surmise that this was the reason he let two strangers, who wanted to pray the rosary for him to the Blessed Virgin, to come into his house.
Santina, Paolo’s daughter, who was a child at the time tells us what happened next:
“I can see it as if it were yesterday. The two men, Risaliti in his white uniform and Lusardi, both kneeling and together devoutly saying the rosary. However as they were praying, dad was restless and said to mum: “Maria, send that hooded friar at the foot of the bed away”. Mum said nothing; she imagined that vision was due to his high temperature”.
Before leaving after finishing the rosary, the Padre’s spiritual sons discreetly begged Maria to accept some money: “It is sent by Padre Pio. You will need it next week to pay for your husband’s journey from here to San Giovanni Rotondo. The Padre wishes to see him. And the remainder is for the medicines”.
About this particular point Santina explains: “It was as if Padre Pio knew we had spent nearly all our money to buy penicillin which was very expensive at the time”.
The following Monday, the sick man was much better. His temperature had gone down to normal and the doctors were amazed. His health had improved so much that on Thursday, three days later, at 9.00 in the morning, Risaliti and Lusardi came to collect him and take him by taxi to the Taranto train station, as he ardently desired to meet Padre Pio. In the evening they arrived at San Giovanni Rotondo and the three men together took lodgings in a little white house on the right, going up the road leading to the friary.
The next day, Friday, they took him to the sacristy where Padre Pio was confessing the men. At the end of the confessions, P. Pio came out from the curtain, which hid him from view of onlookers.
“My Dad” said Santina, “immediately recognized in him as the friar who the previous Saturday he had seen at the foot of the bed while the rosary was being said. My dad immediately went up to him and threw himself on his knees, crying. The Padre helped him up holding his wrists and said in our dialect: “If you cry, I won’t come to your house any more”.
The next day dad confessed to the Saint, who put him back in God’s grace and accepted him as a spiritual son. He immediately became a different person. He went to Mass every day and received Holy Communion.
The Padre continued to be near him in those first steps into a new life. He came [spiritually, through bilocation] to visit him at home. During his convalescence dad sometimes said to me: “Santina, Padre Pio is putting his hand on your head”.
Afterwards I had often seen him crying because of his past sins. He tried to make up for it by leading people to God and also to Padre Pio.”
(Testimony of Santina Nigro, San Giovanni Rotondo, May 10, 2005)
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.”
God is Sweet Above All Things and in All Things To Those Who Love Him
Behold, my God and my all! What more do I wish for; what greater happiness can I desire? O sweet and delicious word! But sweet only to him who loves it, and not to the world or the things that are in the world.
My God and my all! These words are enough for him who understands, and for him who loves it is a joy to repeat them often. For when You are present, all things are delightful; when You are absent, all things become loathsome. It is You Who give a heart tranquillity, great peace and festive joy. It is You Who make us think well of all things, and praise You in all things. Without You nothing can give pleasure for very long, for if it is to be pleasing and tasteful, Your grace and the seasoning of Your wisdom must be in it. What is there that can displease him whose happiness is in You? And, on the contrary, what can satisfy him whose delight is not in You?
The wise men of the world, the men who lust for the flesh, are wanting in Your wisdom, because in the world is found the utmost vanity, and in the flesh is death. But they who follow You by disdaining worldly things and mortifying the flesh are known to be truly wise, for they are transported from vanity to truth, from flesh to spirit. By such as these God is relished, and whatever good is found in creatures they turn to praise of the Creator. But great — yes, very great, indeed — is the difference between delight in the Creator and in the creature, in eternity and in time, in Light uncreated and in the light that is reflected.
O Light eternal, surpassing all created brightness, flash forth the lightning from above and enlighten the inmost recesses of my heart. Cleanse, cheer, enlighten, and vivify my spirit with all its powers, that it may cleave to You in ecstasies of joy. Oh, when will that happy and wished-for hour come, that You may fill me with Your presence and become all in all to me? So long as this is not given me, my joy will not be complete.
The old man, alas, yet lives within me. He has not yet been entirely crucified; he is not yet entirely dead. He still lusts strongly against the spirit, and he will not leave the kingdom of my soul in peace. But You, Who can command the power of the sea and calm the tumult of its waves, arise and help me. Scatter the nations that delight in war; crush them in Your sight. Show forth I beg, Your wonderful works and let Your right hand be glorified, because for me there is no other hope or refuge except in You, O Lord, my God.
D Bay entered the hospital in 1994 with acute pain from “a fibroid tumor the size of a grapefruit” in her uterus. The surgery was successful but more complicated than expected, and her troubles weren’t over.
D Bay recalls that she was in horrible pain. She had an allergic reaction to the morphine she was given and doctors were trying to counteract that with other medications. This turned a bad experience worse. Not only had she just had a major surgery and feared she might not be able to have children, she now dealt with the pain of an acute drug reaction.
After receiving more pain medication, he was able to sleep for a few hours. “I awoke in the middle of the night. According to the wall clock, it was 2:45. I heard someone speaking and realized someone was at my bedside,” she says. “It was a young woman with short brown hair and wearing a white hospital staff uniform. She was sitting and reading aloud from the Bible. I said to her, ‘Am I alright? Why are you here with me?'”
The woman visiting D Bay stopped reading but did not look up. “She simply said, ‘I was sent here to make sure you’d be alright. You are going to be fine. Now you should get some rest and go back to sleep.’ She began to read again and I drifted off back to sleep.”
The next morning, she explained the experience to her doctor who checked and said that no staff had visited her overnight. She asked all of the nurses and no one knew of this visitor. Neither did anyone check her vitals that night.
“To this day,” she says, “I believe that I was visited by my guardian angel that night. She was sent to comfort me and assure me that I would be okay. Coincidentally, the time on the clock that night, 2:45 a.m., is the exact time recorded on my birth certificate that I was born!”