Saint Bernardine of Siena – His Legacy

May 16, 2011

The good that man does lives long after him. St. Bernardine would be embarrassed by all the fuss and praise that is showered on him; one of which is the awesome title of Foremost Missionary of the Fifteenth Century. If that is not enough, he is acknowledged as the greatest preacher of his day. For centuries, up to and including this time, he is venerated as one of the most popular and well-known Saints, especially in the city where he was born – Siena. Here it is; over five hundred years have passed and he is still remembered! If you go to the Hermitage, as it is often called or Emero delle Carcero of St. Francis, in the quiet of Monte Subasio, you will find the smallest church in the world, nestled in the caverns of the mountains of Subasio. It is believed St. Bernardine founded this tiny church. And if you stand there and listen, with your heart, you will be treated to the still alive preaching of the Good News of Jesus Christ, by his faithful friar, St. Bernardine.

There are many portraits of St. Bernardine, but the greatest is that which can be found in his sermons. They were perpetuated by a faithful follower who meticulously wrote down every word uttered by St. Bernardine in his Lenten Sermons in 1427, on wax tablets. He then transposed them onto parchments. Whereas the original copies are no longer with us, there are several copies from which, over the centuries, copies have been made. They are quite understandable, as St. Bernardine spoke in the vernacular, the native language of the people. There are forty-five sermons which have been passed down to us, each lasting between three or four hours. These Sermons and their length paint a vivid picture of the times and the culture in which St. Bernardine lived. They were not delivered in language the average man could not understand, nor were they too below the learned who hung unto his every word.

A master with words, he was able to touch the hearts of his listeners. He always spoke in the local dialect of the region. And that was no mean task, as at the time there were as many dialects as they were provinces at least twenty-seven. He painted pictures with his words. He was not past employing mimicry to bring across a point. He was adept at injecting a humorous story to lighten up a sermon, when he judged he might be getting too somber. But he never compromised the truth of his message. He never backed away from their need to repent and avail themselves of God’s mercy by going to confession.

He had an ongoing love story with the Blessed Mother. His treatises on Our Lady and St. Joseph can still be found in the Breviary our priests and religious recite each day. Much that we know of the Saint comes down to us from very reliable sources, as those who were contemporaries of his immediately began writing about our Saint and his sermons.

For more about Saint Bernardine of Siena click here http://www.bobandpennylord.com/St_Bernardine_of_Siena.htm


Christian Martyr – Saint Agatha

February 2, 2011

Saint Agatha of Catania minibook“My determination is built on rock and founded in Christ. Your promises are raindrops; your threats are rivers, and however hard they beat upon the foundation of my house, it cannot fail.”

Once having said this, she knew she had sealed her own doom. She wanted to suffer the pains of martyrdom, although she didn’t really understand what she was asking for. At the end of the period, she was brought back to Quintianus. Aphrodisia told him she was firm in her conviction; “It would be easier to split rocks or reduce iron to the softness of lead than to move or recall that girl’s mind from its Christian intention.” He was furious that they had not broken this beautiful girl. He lusted after her. He summoned her before him at court.

He tried to reason with her. She was like stone. He tried to insult her. He tried to challenge her social standing. “If you claim to be so highborn, why do you call yourself a slave of Christ?” She answered, “Because to be a slave of Christ is the greatest nobility.” He tried to threaten her with extreme torture. She responded “If you promise me wild beasts, the sound of Christ’s name will soften them. If you try fire, Angels will serve me with a healing dew from Heaven. If you resort to wounds and torments, I have the Holy Spirit, through whom I make naught of all.”

He could see he was getting nowhere, and the people in the court were actually laughing at him under their breath. In an effort to save face, he had her thrown in jail, to prepare her for torture. For her part, Agatha was joyful that she had been found worthy to suffer for the Lord. He came to the jail and made a last appeal to her. “Give up your allegiance to Christ and adore the gods.” She refused. He had her placed on a rack, and stretched so that she thought her arms and legs would come out of their sockets. She proclaimed: “These pains are a joy to me.” He ordered the jailers to twist her breasts for a long time and then cut them off. Then he had her placed back in her cell, and would not allow anyone to enter to care for her. She was denied food and water.

As Agatha lay in her cell, writhing in pain and agony, from the inhuman torture to which she had been subjected, an old man with a young boy came to her. He told her he was sent by the Lord to heal her. He ministered to her. She thanked him for helping her. He told her he was the Apostle Peter, whom the Lord had sent to aid her in her time of torment. She was completely healed. All the wounds disappeared; her breasts were restored. As Peter left, a great flash of light came into the cell. The jailers, frightened by that which they didn’t understand, or want to understand, fled the cell. All the prisoners left. They told Agatha to flee the jail as well. She answered them: “Far be it for me to run away and lose the crown of patience.”

After a period of time, she was brought before Quintianius again. He was so angry when he saw her in perfect health, he couldn’t contain himself. He asked her who healed her. She told him Our Lord Jesus had healed her. Quintianus exploded with anger. He told her never to say the name of Jesus again. She asked him what great torture he would inflict on her if she did. He ordered that she be placed naked on burning coals and shattered fragments of pottery.

While she was being tortured, a great earthquake destroyed the palace, killing two of Quintianius’ counselors, Silvano and Falconio. The people of the city went running through the streets, blaming what was happening to them on the horrendous way the child Agatha was being tortured by Quintianius. Her burned and bruised body was brought back to her cell. She prayed to the Lord: “Lord Jesus Christ, you created me; you have watched over me from infancy, kept my body from defilement, preserved me from love of the world, made me withstand torture and granted me the virtue of patience in the midst of torments. Now receive my spirit and command me to come to your mercy.” With that, she gave up her life to her Lord and Master.

For more about Saint Agatha and Saints of Sicily go here: http://www.bobandpennylord.com/St_Agatha.htm


Saint Thomas Aqjuinas

January 22, 2011
Saint Thomas Aquinas

Jesus speaks to Saint Thomas Aquinas from the Cross

 

Saint Thomas Aquinas the Angelic Doctor is most known for his writing the Summa Theologica and the “Tantum Ergo and Panis Angelicus.”

 

Later on in his life, when St. Thomas Aquinas was in Salerno, finishing the third part of his Summa, which deals with the Passion and the Resurrection, he was kneeling before the Altar in ecstasy.

He could feel the overpowering presence of the Lord in the room. He looked up at the Crucifix.

It began to glow brightly. Jesus came alive and spoke to Thomas.

There is a very special conversation St. Thomas Aquinas had with the Lord, which we have used as a motto for our ministry.

He was told “You have written well of Me, Thomas. What would you desire as a reward?” Thomas broke into tears, as he replied, “Nothing, Lord. I’m doing it all for you.”

At this point, St. Thomas Aquinas went into ecstasy, and levitated.

His entire body floated into the air and hovered over the chapel. All the brothers in the convent came into the chapel where he was praying, and beheld him suspended in the air.

Toward the end of his life, he ceased working on the Summa Theologica, one of the most famous treatises on the existence of God ever written.

When the brother who was working with him asked why, he replied “The end of my labors has come. All that I have written appears to be as much as straw after the things that have been revealed to me.”


More about Saint Thomas Aquinas book – dvd – cd available click here


Is Saint Angela Merici For Us Today?

January 14, 2011

Saint Angela Merici minibook

“I want to become a Saint, because I love Jesus.”

The Church was in crisis! The Good Shepherd would not leave His lambs alone to be devoured by wolves; so once again God raised up Saints and other powerful men and women to save His Church.

In the Fourteenth Century, God wanted the Papacy to return to Rome. He knew what was going to come to pass; the Papacy had to be located in the eye of the storm, to combat the forces of dissension which were bubbling beneath the surface, and those which would erupt in the Fifteenth Century and explode in the Sixteenth. God putting his chess pieces in place, raised up a woman, St. Catherine of Siena; He groomed her for her mission and when it was time, sent her to Avignon to bring the Papacy back to Rome.

But as God was maneuvering, putting His troops on the front line, the enemy, in an attempt to outmaneuver God, attacked the Church from the rear, initiating the birth of the Renaissance! The people were battle weary and Dark Ages depressed; they were ripe for anyone selling them something or someone who would bring some joy and happiness into their lives; but sadly even good things that are not holy will eventually, like a dog with a cruel master, turn on you and bite you. The Renaissance, the period of enlightenment which was to lead them out of the darkness of the Dark Ages, only led them into deeper darkness through a tunnel to hell.

In the mid 1400s Renaissance had been wildly spreading its humanistic, paganistic secularism, selling man on wanting more, but not more God, more self-gratification. God seeing His children about to be run over by trojan horses bearing poisoned sweets called forth Saints like St. Bernardine, St. John Capistrano, and others, His plan – to offset with holiness, the evil with which the devil was unscrupulously tipping the scales.

Much of Italy had been conquered by a tyrant called Visconti who was swallowing up province after province, conquering citizens and land by intimidation, crushing their spirits by bondage and servitude, enslaving them into complete subjugation by imposing the worst forms of terrifying tyranny upon them. He trampled the forces in the North, almost effortlessly. But, as he traveled southward, ready to strike the Tuscany region, Visconti found formidable fighters, free spirits, people of fire and focus who would not be enslaved! Although under the Medicis, this would not have been called a democratic form of government, it was Tuscany for and by Tuscans.

The Fifteenth Century no better than the Fourteenth, God, countering evil with good, raised up a unique Saint. Permissiveness and promiscuity were running wild like the wine and revelry of the times, God raised a Saint who will not only be a contradiction in this hedonistic society, she will gather others to follow her in her divine quest to live a life of holiness. And so through her, a new heretofore unknown charism will be born into this troubled time, through another Saint who was willing “to do the ridiculous so that God would be moved to do the miraculous.”

For more Saints in the Catholic Church go to http://www.bobandpennylord.com


Who was Saint Francis de Sales?

January 10, 2011

“The measure of love is to love without measure.”

Whenever the Church is threatened, the Lord raises up a Saint or two or brings about Miracles. In this instance, the Lord raised up two Saints, St. Francis de Sales, the Bishop of Geneva, a Doctor of the Church, and Founder of a Religious Order and St. Jane Frances de Chantal. He also gave us many Miracles, including the softening of men’s hearts.

The years 1567 through 1622 were not great years for Catholics in Switzerland. They were not especially good years for a bishop of the Catholic Church, in particular the Bishop of Geneva. For that task, the Lord had to search all over Heaven until He could find a special soul who would not only be capable of pastoring the people of God during the period of hell caused by John Calvin, but would be willing to take on the job. The soul who would be Francis de Sales was the perfect candidate. So the Lord blessed him, gave him special Angels to guide and protect him, covered him in the mantle of Mother Mary, and sent him on his way. He was to be the first of thirteen babies the Lord would give to this special family. But of all, this was the prize, given from the Lord.

The Angels delivered the future St. Francis de Sales to a beautiful château in what was called Thorens at that time, but today is just outside the breathtakingly city of Annecy, France, on Lake Geneva. He was born in a château on August 21 , 1567. His family was part of the House of Savoie, which was a noble family in Europe. On the following day St. Francis was baptized in the Parish church of Thorens, and given the name Francis Bonaventure. His patron saint was the Little Poverello of Assisi. He was named after St. Francis and Bonaventure, another famous Franciscan and Doctor of the Church. [St. Bonaventure, Seraphic Doctor, was born just five years before St. Francis died, and followed in the Poverello’s footsteps.] The combination of qualities exemplified in Francis, who was all heart, and in Bonaventure, who was brilliant, were just the traits young Francis would need in his ministry for the Church, as he grew in body and spirit.

What were his parents thinking about for this, their first baby? Would he continue in the House of Savoie, taking care of the land, his heritage? Would Francis Bonaventure follow in the footsteps of his namesakes? Although we read that both parents were traditional Catholics, could they have had any idea what they were doing when they gave such powerful names to their newborn? Nothing is by coincidence, not even the naming of a child. Unless it is God’s Holy Coincidence.

The room in which he was born was known as St. Francis’ room, because of a painting in the room of the Saint preaching to the birds and the fishes. It was always young Francis’ favorite painting of his namesake, as was this his favorite room.

Francis was born prematurely, leaving him frail and delicate, physically challenged as a young child. But he was never Spiritually challenged. From his earliest childhood, he was unusually active and energetic. He was a product of Home Schooling in his early years. His mother kept his education in her own hands, aided by a tutor, Abbé Déage, a local priest who was very learned. As Francis grew, this priest became his tutor, traveling with him everywhere during his youth. Beautiful traits were instilled in him by the Lord, who guided his mother in his upbringing his entire life. He was obedient and truthful no matter what the consequences. In addition, he was a voracious reader; he devoured every book he could get. He was very eager to learn. The Lord was gearing him up for a mighty job and he couldn’t begin too soon.

More about Saint Francis de Sales http://www.bobandpennylord.com/St_Francis_de_Sales.htm


Was Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton a Mystic?

January 1, 2011

 


We haven’t spoken in this account of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton about any visions, locutions or mysticism. Quite honestly, that’s because we haven’t come across anything of that nature. And Mother Seton had always been a very down-to-earth, practical woman. However, the time was to come when the Lord would decide when the community would be built, where it would be built, and how it would be financed. And that information had to be projected to Mother Seton.

This question had been rolling around for some time in Elizabeth’s mind. She even wrote to Antonio Filicchi in Italy, in an attempt borrow money for the building of the convent, but although her letter reached him, his reply never reached her. She took this as rejection at first, until a year later when his letter arrived, long after the fact. But it is obvious that she was throwing out feelers. Whoever the Lord wanted to be involved, would respond in a positive way. That was Elizabeth’s thinking. However, the Lord unfolded another plan, His plan.

One day, Elizabeth ran into the office of Fr. Dubourg to tell him what the Lord had clearly said to her during Communion at Mass that day. “Go and address yourself to Mr. Cooper; he will give you what is necessary to commence the establishment.” Now, this could be considered by some as being out of left field. Mr. Samuel Cooper was a well-to-do young man from Philadelphia who had converted to Catholicism, and was discerning if the priesthood was where the Lord wanted him. He met Elizabeth when Fr. Hurley brought him to Baltimore for the consecration of St. Mary’s Chapel. They had become close friends for a while, because they had so much in common. They went their separate ways in their search for God’s Will in their lives, but remained friends and were in communication with each other from time to time. They had not seen each other for a while, and so the suggestion had to come from the Lord; it didn’t come from Elizabeth.

Fr. Dubourg agreed that this might be the Word of the Lord, but didn’t want Elizabeth to pursue it any farther until the Lord had an opportunity to speak to Mr. Cooper’s heart. By the Lord’s coincidence, Mr. Cooper dropped in on Fr. Dubourg that same

evening, asking what was happening with the convent for the ladies who wanted to embrace the religious life. Without mentioning anything about Elizabeth Seton to Mr. Cooper, he shared that there were many who wanted to proceed with this project, but they couldn’t for lack of money. Mr. Cooper said to him quite calmly, “I have ten thousand dollars which I can give you for this purpose.” Bingo!

Fr. Dubourg, who believed in Divine Intervention as well as the next man, was knocked from his seat. He asked, in an effort at calmness, “Have you been speaking to Elizabeth Ann Seton?” Mr. Cooper said he had not, but then asked if she would be considered as heading up the project. When Fr. Dubourg confirmed that, Mr. Cooper seemed very happy with the idea. Fr. Dubourg held him off for two months, in the event he wanted to change his mind. To the contrary, he was chomping at the bit to begin. He immediately became involved with the project of building a convent for the Sisters. He even prophesied where it would be located. When he brought the money to Fr. Dubourg, he said, “Sir, this establishment will be made at Emmitsburg, a village eighteen leagues from Baltimore; and then it will extend throughout the United States.”

At the mention of Emmitsburg, the priest was taken aback. He did not really approve of the idea of being out of Baltimore. Neither did Elizabeth Seton; neither did the archbishop. Of all the people involved, only Mr. Cooper saw the vision of Emmitsburg, and while he vowed he would not exert any influence in choosing the location, Emmitsburg was the final choice.

Elizabeth wrote to Filippo Filicchi, apprising him what had happened, and now, rather than asking him for money to build the project, she invited him to be involved in any way he could with Fr. Dubourg and Mr. Cooper. In this letter to Filippo, she made an unusual revelation. The final proof for them that this was being done directly by the Lord was given to Elizabeth by Fr. Matignon, from Boston, who had befriended Elizabeth some years before. Elizabeth confided to Filippo Filicchi the following in a letter: “Fr. Matignon had suggested Cooper’s plan to Elizabeth long before Cooper himself had ever thought of it. It is no wonder that everyone concerned in the matter was profoundly convinced that the hand of God was writing on the wall.”

For more about Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton go here http://www.catholic-saints-resource-center.com/elizabeth-ann-seton.html

 


Heroines of our Church

August 19, 2009

Reference: Good Newsletter Fall 2009

(This is taken from the Epilog of our book, Saints and Powerful Women in our Church. These women, and many more like them about whom we’ve written, are true heroes.  Get to know them.  Be inspired by them.  Get the book.)

Each time Bob and I finished a chapter, we felt sadness at having to leave that special woman.  Then, when we’d begin writing of the next powerful woman in the Church our excitement would build again.  We developed such a unique relationship with these women; we didn’t want to let go of any of them.  We pray they have touched you the way they have touched us.

Now it’s over, at least Volume I is finished.  We know we will bring you Volume II, because there are so many women in our Church we can be proud of, whom we can embrace and after whom we can model our lives.

We told you about the thread that connected these women together.  It was and is the Eucharist, the strength Jesus gave them and gives us in times of struggle, adversity, and downright despair, His very Body and Blood.  It’s a Power Source we must plug into.  We can spin our wheels and go round in circles, trying to do the impossible, only to find that Jesus allows us to do these things with such ease, by energizing ourselves with the Eucharist.

In researching these sisters, as well as the many powerful men in the Church, we found without exception, a deep and committed devotion to Our Lady, Mother Mary.  We have not found anyone who truly loves Jesus, that does not revere His Mother as well.  They took the most direct route, to Jesus through Mary, having found that they could not really know the Son without knowing the Mother.

One is pride in those who came before us; the other is hope in those who will follow.

Two strong feelings have come out of this book for us.  One is pride in those who came before us; the other is hope in those who will follow.  We feel strength from those women of the Church who have fought against the powers of hell, and triumphed.  Because of them, we have hope for our Church and world of tomorrow.  We know the Lord will always raise up women like those in this book.

Who are the Powerful Women in the Church of tomorrow?  Right now, we know the Lord has placed you out there, in strategic positions, to glorify Him by your lives.  There are Teresas, Thereses, Bernadettes, Ritas, Catherines, Clares, Mother Angelicas, Briege McKennas,, and so many more the Lord would use in His Service.

You know who you are, Powerful Women of the future.  You can feel it.  When you read about one of your sisters, living or dead, a surge of pride went through you.  There was a familiarity, a kinship you felt, that could not be denied.  Your heart started beating a little faster as you related with their joys and struggles, their closeness to Jesus and Mary.  Our Church has always been under attack.  We may possibly be in the last days.  Every moment counts.  Your sisters before you have known of the urgency of the moment.  They lived their lives as if the second coming of Jesus was just around the corner.  And it may very well be!

Those who are true lovers of Christ are not worried about their own individual salvation.  That’s been assured. “Those whom God has chosen, He has justified; and those He has justified, He has glorified.” (Romans 8:28)  Theirs and our concern is for the brothers and sisters who may be left behind.  How will we turn the tide?  You must touch them, powerful woman in the Church!

In our talks, we tell people to forget the numbers, but to put faces on those who have left.

“If Jesus were to come tonight,” we ask them, “who do you know who would not be coming with us to the Kingdom?  Is there a brother or sister, a mother or father?  Perhaps you have a son or daughter, a grandson or granddaughter, a niece or nephew, a husband or wife?  When I mention these names, does a picture flash in your mind?  Those are the first ones you have to approach.  They have to know Jesus, so they don’t stay behind when He comes.  You have to bring them back!”

We’re told that there are six billion people on earth.  Two billion are Christian of some kind.  That means that 2/3 of the world do not know Jesus.  How can we reverse those figures?  You must teach them, powerful woman in the Church!  Whether you make your mark by praying in the cloister of the Convent, as did Therese, the Clares, and Bernadette; or reform the Church as did Catherine and Teresa; or go door-to-door; or minister to Priests and Bishops and Third World countries, as does Sister Briege; or proclaim the glory of God through space by means of television, radio and internet like Mother Angelica; or be faithful to your vocation as obedient daughter, wife, mother, and Religious, as did Rita; wherever the Lord calls.  You know who you are!  You know where you are!

This is not the time to sit in a circle and argue among ourselves about who did what to whom, as the enemy of Christ picks off Christians from behind.  We don’t have that luxury!  We don’t know how much time we do have.  We do know one thing.  You can do it, powerful woman in the Church!

Jesus loves you; Jesus needs you; Jesus wants you!


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