St. Ignatius of Antioch – Martyred for the Faith

October 17, 2017

St. Ignatius of Antioch – Martyred for the Faith

“I have no pleasure in the food of corruption or in the delights of this life. I desire ‘Bread of God’ which is the Flesh of Jesus Christ, who was the ‘Seed of David’ and for drink I desire His Blood, which is incorruptible love”.14

St. Ignatius was the holy fiery bishop of Antioch in the late First, and early Second Centuries. It is believed, he had a personal relationship with Sts. Peter and Paul; it has been written it was Peter who recommended Ignatius to be the second Bishop of Antioch, a post which he held for 40 years. There are also narratives about his knowing and visiting Our Lady. Well, think about it; he was part of that time, just after the Crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus; he was part of that great rush of excitement of the early community of believers.

He was a powerful disciple, although he never took credit for it. He is considered the most important pastor in the post- Apostolic era. He was the first and strongest Defender of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist against heretics, of that very early time in the church, who denied that Jesus had both a physical Body and Spirit (Docetism), and that, therefore, we do not receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, because He never had a Body. St. Ignatius battled against these heretics throughout his entire ministry, even as he was being carted off to Rome to be thrown to the wild beasts in the Amphitheater. He wrote letters defending the Real Presence of Jesus to various Bishops of the Church in Asia, condemning the heretics and the errors they were spreading about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Now, what happened next is something only the Lord could do. You know the saying, “God works in mysterious ways”? Well, this is a perfect example. In Antioch, Ignatius was condemned to be sent to Rome, where he was to be thrown to the wild ferocious animals, to be devoured by them in the Coliseum or Amphitheaters. They also hoped that he could be used as a powerful example to the Christians about what happens

to anyone defying the Emperor, no matter how important he is. As an important member of the Christians, if they could persuade him to save his life by hailing the Emperor instead of Christ, they would be able to control them and kill this movement that they could not squash, even by the threat of the Coliseum.

He was a big figure in the church. So you would think they would send him on an express boat directly to Rome. Right? Wrong! They sent him on the equivalent of what we would call today a “cattle car” or “banana boat”, or a local train. It made every stop possible all over Asia on the way from Antioch to Rome. News of his arrival at various cities got to the various cities before he did. As his ship docked each time, at the various cities, the Faithful came to meet and listen to him preach on the Reality of the Eucharist, of the Lord Who is with us. It was as if, the Emperor sent him on a final missionary journey at the expense of the state, on his way to Rome.

His writings have always been considered important and authentic, because they were actually taken from the time of Jesus. Ignatius lived in that period of the Infant Church, during the Acts of the Apostles, and the missionary journeys of Sts. Peter and Paul, Barnabas and Luke, Mark, St. John and all the early evangelists. What we receive from the writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch about the Eucharist, are not teachings which were handed down to him. He got on-hands training. He was there when they were being taught for the first time. We’ve only picked out a few of his teachings about the Eucharist. They are powerful:

“Make an effort, then to meet more frequently to celebrate our Lord’s Eucharist and to offer praise. For when you meet frequently in the same place, the forces of Satan are overthrown, and his baneful influence is neutralized by the unanimity of your faith. Peace is a precious thing; it puts an end to every war waged by fallen angels or earthly enemies.”

“Take care, then to partake of one Eucharist; for one is the Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one the cup to unite us with His Blood, and one Altar, just as there is one bishop assisted by

the presbyters and the deacons, my fellow servants.”

When St. Ignatius was on his way to be martyred, he begged his followers not to interfere. His only request was:

“Only pray for me that God may give me grace within as well as without, not only to say it but to desire it, that I may not only be called, but be found a Christian. Suffer me to be the food of wild beasts through whom I may attain unto God. I am God’s grain and I am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts that I may be found the pure bread of Christ.”15

 

For more information about Eucharistic Fasters and Martyrs go here

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St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Mystic and Visionary of the Sacred Heart

October 16, 2017

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Mystic and Visionary of the Sacred Heart

Specially chosen by the Lord to bring the Message of His

Sacred Heart to His children.


The Third Great Revelation – Jesus makes His Will known
 Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque minibook

Approximately six months passed before Jesus appeared to Margaret Mary, again. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed. Most likely, it occurred on a Friday, during the Octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi. Our Lord was radiant, brilliantly clothed in glory, “His five Wounds glowing like five suns,” flames leaping out from every part of His Sacred Humanity. Most pitiful were those flames from His Sacred Breast which was like a roaring furnace. Jesus bared His Breast, revealing His Sacred Heart which was filled with love for His children, although they wound Him so deeply.

He shared that the rejection and ingratitude of His children today pained Him even more than that which He had suffered during His Passion. But if only they would return His love, He said, in even some small way, He would count all the pain He had endured for their sake during His Passion little, compared to what He would desire to do for them. But He cried, “They repay love and mercy with coldness and indifference.”

He asked Margaret Mary to console Him by doing as much as she could to make up for their ingratitude, to be what they refused to be, and to do what they have failed to do. When Margaret Mary pleaded, she was weak and had not the strength to bring about His mission for the Church, He told her He would be her strength. She was to receive Communion as often as obedience to her Superiors would permit, but most especially on the first Fridayof each month.

Then Jesus asked Margaret Mary to make a Holy Hour every Thursday from eleven to midnight. From that time till her death, she made this Holy Hour, prostrating herself on the floor, sharing Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane with Him. Was Our Lord trusting her with the hour, He had offered to His closest Apostles, that precious hour when He suffered, shedding blood and tears for the sins and agony of the world? Was He asking this from her as reparation for the sins which so excruciatingly wounded Him then and wound Him now? Or was it to strengthen her for her Way of the Cross?

Had the Apostles understood? Did they not realize how very much Our Lord in His Humanity, needed them to share this painful time in His Life? Days before, Peter, James and John had not wanted to leave Mount Tabor. We often thought the Lord brought them to the Mount of the Transfiguration to fortify them for His final Walk – to the Cross. And, we still believe that, but now, we wonder if this Holy Hourwas not also what the Lord was offering His trusted Apostles to strengthen them for the days and then the years to follow? Would they have slept if they had known that they would no longer have their Lord with them, that He would be taken away from them? Did they take Him and His being with them forever for granted? Do we take Him for granted? If we knew that we would never be able to attend Mass or spend time before the Blessed Sacrament again, that as in some European nations, we would not have Our Lord Jesus in our midst for hundreds of years, would we have to be asked to participate in the Mass or spend one hour with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration? Would we not only kneel during the Consecration, would we not desire to prostrate ourselves before Him?

When Margaret Mary had protested she was too weak to carry out her Master’s Will, what did He offer her, to strengthen her? Reception of Holy Communion as often as obedience would allow and a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament. What is the Lord offering us to strengthen us to do His Will, to save His Church, to console Him in these days of crisis and infamy? Reception of Holy Communion often and to spend a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament. It is always the same, my brothers and sisters; Jesus is with us; Jesus is alive; Jesus is our power and strength – always present to us in The Eucharist. The weapons which He gave Margaret Mary in the 17th Century are the same He gives us, today. God is constant, consistently, faithfully all-giving.

In this Great Revelation, Jesus gives us two ways to express our love for Him and to make reparation for those who do not.

First to receive Holy Communion often, especially on the first Friday of the month. To make reparation for those who mocked and taunted Our Lord, those who crucified Our Lord, those who stood by and did nothing that first Good Friday, that Jesus suffered and died for us and our sins.

Second, He asks us to spend a Holy Hour with Him, especially on Thursday evening. This is in memory of Jesus’ suffering agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and in thanksgiving for His Great Gift of Life and Love, the Eucharist – at the Last Supper. Can we spend an hour with Him, the hour we could not spend with Him that first Thursday in Gethsemane? What will we feel, the next time we attend Holy Mass and receive Our Lord eternally with us in Holy Communion? Will we give love for Love, our poor limited love in exchange for the Heavenly Love he bore us that Last Supper, a Love so great His last thoughts were of us, the night before He would face death on the Cross?

The nuns found Margaret Mary unconscious. She had been that way throughout the Third Revelation. Seeing she was so weakened physically, not able to walk or talk, they carried her to the Mother Superior. Imagine the Superior’s predicament. On one hand, she knew that Margaret Mary was virtuous, but she had misgivings, having an ongoing problem with all the phenomena that had occurred in Margaret Mary’s life. She thought, “Oh not again!”

Margaret Mary crumbled on her knees before the Mother Superior. Seeing her on the floor, burning with fever, trembling uncontrollably and having difficulty sharing what the Lord desired of her, Mother Superior refused to grant her any of Our Lord’s requests. Instead, she replied, wielding a strong tongue lashing, heaping humiliation upon disbelief, forbidding Margaret Mary to comply with any of her claimed decrees by the Lord. Margaret Mary obeyed!

Now this must have been horrendous for Margaret Mary. She knew this was the Lord and His wishes, but as with the Mystics and Saints before her, she obeyed her Superiors. And through this obedience, she was able to scuttle the devil’s plan. The devil, beginning with the Old Testament in the Garden of Eden, has always tried to get those specially chosen by God to disobey. When Our Lord walked the earth, He gave us the perfect example if we would be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. Our Lord always obeyed first His Father in Heaven, then His earthly foster father Joseph and Mother Mary. Over the centuries of our beloved Church’s history, whenever Jesus appeared to the Saints and Mystics, like St. Teresa of Avila, He always told them to obey their Superiors and He would work through their obedience.

Margaret Mary became seriously ill, so debilitated, it came to her Superior Mother de Saumaise’s attention. She became alarmed. She had an idea; this would solve all her questions. She turned to Margaret Mary: “Why don’t you ask God to cure you? In this way, we’ll know if this comes from the Holy Spirit. Then I will grant you permission to receive Communion on First Fridays, allow your Thursdayevening hour vigils – I’ll allow everything.”

As she was to obey her Superior in all things, she asked the Lord to heal her. Our Lady, along with her Angels appeared to Margaret Mary; she embraced her and said,

“Take courage, my dear daughter, in the health I give you in the Name of my Divine Son, for you have still a long and painful road to travel, always bearing the Cross, pierced with nails and thorns and lacerated by whips. But have no fear, I shall not abandon you and I promise to protect you.”

Margaret Mary was restored to perfect health immediately, the sign her Superior accepted as proof her messages were of the Lord. But the battle was not over. Her Mother Superior judged wisely that Margaret Mary needed a strong Spiritual Director to guide her and to discern the messages she was receiving. As with St. Teresa, many potential Spiritual Directors came; they did not understand mental prayer; they had never received interior locutions or experienced an apparition by the Lord, and so, out of ignorance, they completely rejected the Revelations as coming from a Divine Source.

For more information about Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque click here


Miracle of the Sun

October 12, 2017

Apparition at Fatima

October 12 was a night filled with rage. We can picture in our mind’s eye, the powers of Heaven and hell, battling violently for possession of the earth and its inhabitants. Satan had his way with the weather. He created a vicious storm over the entire continent of Europe. He didn’t want to take chances that anyone would come to Fatima on that fateful day. God, for His part, filled His children with such a burning desire to witness the promised Miracle, that nothing could stop them. They were willing to die for the privilege of whatever the Mother Of God had in store for them.

Our Lady of Fatima image

There were reports that the villages in the surrounding area, indeed as far as a hundred miles away, were deserted. All the inhabitants had left to go to the little Cova da Iria in Fatima. The roads, which Lucifer had turned to mud, were filled with peasants, some walking, others trying to ride bicycles, a favored few with horses, automobiles and motorcycles. Torrents of rain pelleted the pilgrims. Everyone who came had to sleep out in the open, because there were no facilities in this little farming village. They tried as best they could to protect themselves from the satanic attack of weather. They were committed. Their eyes looked straight ahead to their final destination. Their mouths uttered silent prayers of the Rosary, their Rosary Beads slowly cascading from their soaked fingers.

The estimate is that anywhere between 70,000 and 100,000 people came to Fatima that day. There was a great contrast in attitude between the Pilgrims to the shrine and the local people of Aljustrel, in particular Lucia’s mother, who didn’t share the faith of the thousands that Our Lady would keep her promise. She wasn’t even that sure that the Lady had ever come. She was sure that she and her family, Lucia in particular, and her niece and nephew, Jacinta and Francisco, would all be killed when the Miracle did not take place. However, something told her to be with her child, so she went to the Cova da Iria that day, confident that it would be her last.

Considering the enourmous amount of humanity at the cramped, little area of the Cova, the behavior was outstanding. For the most part, there was peace and tranquility about everyone who came. They didn’t speak to each other very much. They mostly prayed. These were the serious pilgrims. They had a reason to be there. They had struggled and sacrificed to come. They were not about to let anything interfere with their goal. In addition, there were indeed the non-believers, the doubting Thomases; we are certain that deep down in their souls, they desperately wanted to believe. They just had to be shown. Why not? Aren’t we all that way? Don’t we all need the sign and symbol?

There were newspaper reporters from all over Portugal. They were here to see the children fall flat on their faces. They wanted to be able to write about the hoax of Fatima firsthand. They believed that would be the greatest news story of all. What they were given was a much greater story, one that would continue to be told for the next 70 years, and then some.

With all of the above, it becomes increasingly clear why this was such an important day, and why the battle raged between the powers of light and darkness to have their way. This was an opportunity for great conversion. It was also a tool for Lucifer to cause Our Lady and the Church to suffer a crushing defeat. Because of this, Satan used every trick he had at his disposal. Rumor has it that there was not one demon left in hell that cold, rainy October day. They were all in Fatima, trying to turn the tide, and create disaster. Rumor also has it that every guardian Angel in Heaven was working a double shift that day, with St. Michael in charge, moving at lightning speed from place to place, and person to person, to foil every attempt of his deadly enemy, Satan, to ruin the day.

Lucifer’s wicked weapon of weather continued on, pounding the entire assemblage with great torrents of rain, right up to the last minute. There is also a story of a man believed to be a priest, who had stationed himself near the place of the Apparitions the night before. When the children arrived at the appointed time, the man kept looking at his watch. He asked Lucia what time Our Lady would come.

She answered “At Midday.”

He replied, “It’s past noon now. Our Lady would not tell an untruth.”

He then tried to push the children out of the place, telling them to go home, that the charade was over. At that instant, Lucia pointed to the east, and exclaimed: “LOOK, SHE’S COMING NOW!” The man disappeared, and was never seen again.

Everybody went down on their knees. The now familiar flash of lightning streaked through the sky. The little cloud moved slowly towards the holmoak tree. She was here!

The Lady spoke first to Lucia, telling her to continue saying the Rosary every day for the end of the war, and to have a chapel built in this place. But she was really here this time for the people. This was her greatest opportunity.

At a given point, Our Lady raised her hand in the direction of the sun. The brilliant light emanating from her hand shot up into the sky. As if the clouds were the curtains of a great stage, they parted, revealing the brilliant sun. Lucia shouted “LOOK AT THE SUN” It turned from a blinding gold to a dull silver. It began to dance in the sky. It twirled uncertainly on its axis. Then it began to descend on the people. It grew bigger and bigger as it came down on them. Streaks of varied colors shot out like sparks from a wheel, covering the people, causing changes of color on their faces and clothes. Reds, yellows, blues, greens hurled down onto the little Cova. “IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD” “FORGIVE ME MY SINS”. There were reports of open confessions, shouted at the top of the lungs of the sinners. They thought the Lord was taking His final vengeance on them.

And then it stopped. A command was given from Heaven; the sun moved slowly back, up into the sky. It returned to its proper place in the atmosphere, and at once turned from dull to brilliant. The pilgrims could not look directly into it again. A great hush took place on earth. The 70,000 were stunned. They had been saved, but they weren’t quite certain about it yet. Then they began to look around them. Their clothes, soaking wet moments before, were completely dry. The mud which had caked on them, was gone. They were clean. Then from various parts of the assemblage, voices rang out, “I CAN WALK!!” “I CAN SEE!” The blind opened their eyes; the lame threw down their crutches. Others went down on their knees in tears of reconciliation. Mass miracles, cures and conversions took place in a period of minutes.

The children didn’t actually take part in this miracle. They were being given special gifts from Our Lady. They saw St. Joseph with the Child Jesus, Our Lady of the Dolors, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel with the Scapular hanging from her hands, and Our Dear Lord Jesus blessing the people at the Cova da Iria. The children were saved. Our Lady, as usual, had kept her promise, and more. The number of conversions due to this miracle, called THE MIRACLE OF THE SUN’, is beyond comprehension.

Lucia looked around her, noticing for the first time all that was happening at the Cova. She could hear the sobs of joy, the shouts of thanksgiving from those cured of illnesses and deformities. She turned quickly towards Our Lady, who was beginning to fade away. Their eyes met that one last time. A sweet smile broke out on the face of the Lady. Lucia began to cry. Without saying a word, just by looking at Lucia, Mary told her it was not over for them. In that final exchange of glances, their bond was sealed. They would see each other again. Then she left. The little cloud slowly moved back toward its final destination. Lucia watched every movement of the cloud, hoping Mary would come back again, though she knew she would not. A single tear ran down her face. Then she smiled. She knew.

The finale of this great series of Heavenly apparitions by the Queen of Heaven, under the title of the Queen of the Rosary, catapulted into motion, a movement which, though slow in beginning, has emcompassed the entire world. The message of the children of Fatima, the pleas of Our Lady, and the promises of Fatima have been repeated to and embraced by everyone she has touched. A new generation of believers, people like us who were not born when Our Lady gave us this gift, have become completely enthralled by the power of Jesus and the love of Mary, as revealed to us at Fatima.

We thank you, dear Mary, for the sign you gave us here at Fatima. We thank you for telling us that no matter what we do, “Your Immaculate Heart will triumph in the end”. We thank you for it, but we wish you had kept it to yourself. Perhaps we would have prayed a little harder, fasted a little more, and sinned a little less. Maybe we could have avoided World War II. Our Lady of Fatima DVD

This is an excerpt from Bob and Penny Lord’s book, The Many Faces of Mary, a Love Story

For more about the Apparitions at Fatima go here

 

 

 


Relections on the Power of the Rosary

October 6, 2017

Victories of the Rosary
victories“All we can do now, is pray!” When all else fails, when
there is nothing left to do, we pray. A last ditch effort; we’ve tried everything else; it’s out of our control; now all that is left is to pray.

Instead, we should begin by praying, recognizing that the  most powerful tool we have is Prayer.
Saint Paul said: “Put on the armor of God, that you may be
able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is
not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the
Powers, against the world rulers of the present darkness, against the
spiritual forces of wickedness on high.”
Now, we are in the best of times; we are in the worst of times.
Our battle is not with humans, as St. Paul tells us. It is truly a battle,
possibly the final battle for our souls and those precious souls of our
families. What is the armor of God? What better armor can you
wear than that of the Virgin Mary? Who did you run to when you
were a child? Wasn’t it to Mama? We need our Mama. I remember
when I was a child, and I would have a nightmare. Who did I run to?

My mother! And what did she say? “Did you pray before you fell
asleep?” Each time, I had forgotten to pray. Then, when she sent
me back to my bed with, “Now say your prayers and you won’t have
any more bad dreams.” I really didn’t have too much confidence
that it would work. Although her reassuring words turned out to be
prophecy, I never believed. But, it always worked!

The Philippines – 1980’s

The citizens of the Philippines had suffered at the hands
of President Marcos and his wife Imelda, who made a sport out of
selfish, excessive spending while their people starved. How the
people had loved President Marcos! How they had embraced him
and his bride. How they in turn had betrayed them. It seemed as if
there was no hope for the people. When someone attempted to better
conditions and try by election to bring about reform, he was killed.
Cory Aquino’s husband was such a man. He was returning to Manila
to run for office against President Marcos. He was assassinated as
he deplaned the aircraft, in front of his wife and family.
Cory Aquino fearlessly rose up to continue her husband’s
mission. And, the people responded. They went out into the streets
and processed, walls of humanity marching forward, flowers in one
hand and rosaries in the other, fingering the beads of their rosaries
as tanks with their young men came toward them. When it seemed
as if neither side would give in, suddenly the soldiers climbed down
from their tanks and joined the faithful, taking beads into their hand,
their guns replaced by the armor of God, the Rosary.
There are those who say, Our Lady appeared in the sky, to
the soldiers in Marcos’ army, and pleaded with them not to hurt her
children. There is a statue there in the square, to commemorate
this time when despair disappeared and hope appeared, when for a
moment the world could see the day when the “lion would lay down
with the lamb”!
Is there power in the Rosary? The Rosary has lived on, in
the hands of the faithful, in freedom and in captivity. But in a few
years, a man and a woman, who had the power to do good but chose
evil, will be forgotten.
As we have been writing about the Victories of the Rosary,
we started to understand what we believe the Lord is saying through
this book: There is hope! Be not afraid! See how I have responded
when you have turned to My Mother through the Rosary. I have
given you a means, a gift. All you have to do is reach out and pray.
I am listening!

For more information about Victories of the Rosary and the Rosary Click here

Our Lady of the Rosary in Lourdes DVD

 


Today we celebrate the Feast day of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos

October 5, 2017

Family, we must be the most blessed servants of the Lord on this earth.  He allows us to experience the most beautiful and uplifting miracles.

We returned to Louisiana last week, where we experienced Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos.

I use the term “Experience” because we have never had the gift of seeing the power of the following this Blessed has been given by Our Lord Jesus.

His story is fascinating, but even more fascinating is being eyewitnesses to a following of thousands of faithful believers, taking part in a three-times-a-year Mass and Healing Ceremony.  You have had to be there to believe how loved this priest is.  For the Healing Service, which took place after the Mass ended, there were anywhere from 1500 to 2000 people, waiting on line to be blessed.  There were eight priests in four aisles, blessing the people who waited up to an hour to receive this special gift.  And this for a priest whose life was snuffed out by Yellow Fever after being on assignment in New Orleans for only 11 months.  He has a following the likes of which you have never seen.  And hundreds of people give testimony of healings and conversions coming about through the intercession of Blessed Seelos.

Saint Padre Pio

But who is this Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, and why is there such a great devotion to him? 

There are those who had called him a living saint during his lifetime.  Very few people could have anything but great admiration and love for him.  He was born in Fussen, Germany in 1819.  It was obvious to all around him, parents and clergy alike, that this was a special child, destined to do great things for God and for the Church.  He always wanted the religious life.  He was not always sure how he wanted to serve.  As a teenager, he walked for 50 hours from his home town to Einseidlen, Switzerland to ask to join the Benedictines there.  He was refused admission, only because he was too young.  But the truth is that God had big plans for him in the New World.  He had either a vision or a locution from Our Lady, after which he pledged to give his life to evangelizing as a missionary in the New World.  He became a member of the Redemptorist Order, and came to the United States.  Being a country boy from Bavaria, he was not very happy when he arrived in the United States in 1843, but he wrote to his family that he had made this decision and would live up to it.  He spent the next 24 years ministering to the people of the United States.

At first, his ministry was to Catholics in western Pennsylvania.  There were only 21 priests for 45,000 Catholics.  Eventually, through the direction of St. John Neumann, who was his first pastor in Pittsburgh, he and other German speaking priests ministered to German-speaking immigrants.  He went from associate pastor to pastor to the rector of the seminary to the head of the Redemptorists, back to his first love, Missionary work.  During the Civil War, years 1862-1865, he and a few other priests went up and down the middle part of our country giving missions and retreats, dodging bullets and the rough behavior of the soldiers on both sides of the conflict.  He appealed to President Lincoln to release the priests and seminarians from the draft.  He and another priest met with the President, who was very cordial, but could not guarantee that this could be done.  However, none of the students were drafted.

For three years prior to his transfer to his last parish in New Orleans, Louisiana, he was in charge of the Redemptorist Mission Band.  Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos and a group of other priests would travel all over the middle states, including Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio;, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.  He not only considered mission work to be important, he wrote to his sister in 1863, “It is properly the work in the vineyard of the Lord; it is entirely apostolic work.”

One of his greatest strengths was in the Confessional.  Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos reminds us of Padre Pio and St. Jean Vianney.  He would spend hours in the Confessional.  He was gentle but firm.  He begged the sinners from the pulpit to come to the confessional.  He said “O you sinners who have not courage to confess your sins because they are so numerous or so grievous or so shameful.  O, come without fear or trembling!  I promise to receive you with all mildness; if I do not keep my word, I here publicly give you permission to cast it up to me in the confessional and to charge me with a falsehood.”  He chided his fellow priests who did not have compassion for penitents; “The priest who is rough with the people does injury to himself….he sins, at least in ignorance…he scandalizes all who see and hear him…Thousands reject the Church and the Sacraments because they have been badly treated by a priest.”

On September 27, 1866, he began his last journey for the Lord, to New Orleans, Louisiana.  As he was traveling on the train to New Orleans, a nun asked him how long he would be stationed in New Orleans.  His reply was “I will be there for one year, and then I will die of the Yellow Fever”, which is exactly what happened.  He spent just short of 11 months in Louisiana, and on September 17, 1867, he caught the lethal Yellow Fever.  He tried to continue with his work, but in short order, he was incapacitated, and on October 4, 1867, he died.  But his time in New Orleans and the work he did there was enough for the priests and parishioners of St. Mary’s Church to realize they had a saint among them.  The works he did, the kindness towards the people, reaching out to the sick and dying, made them aware they had been given a special gift in Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos.

Work was immediately begun on this Canonization, because they knew he was a Saint.  And while it was completed and sent to Rome in 1903, for whatever reason, it was not taken up seriously until the end of the 20th century.  His burial place was even lost in the Church.  When it was definite that he would be beatified, the officials of the Church wanted to make a shrine for him.  And in the construction process, his original tomb in the Church was uncovered.  A miracle attributed to his intercession took place in 1967, when a woman, Angela Boudreaux, who was diagnosed with a massive malignancy in her liver, was healed.  Her doctor testified that there was no hope for her.  However, within a few weeks of praying to Fr. Seelos, she was completely healed.  Pope John Paul II beatified Francis Xavier Seelos on April 9, 2000.  His is a powerful story, one that you should take seriously.  As we said at the opening of this article, we are the most blessed, in that we were able to spend days at his shrine, interviewing Fr. Byron Miller, Joyce Boudreaux, and many other involved in the cause for his Canonization.  We are making a program as we speak.  We pray it will be ready for our Super Saints series in time for his Feast Day, October 5.  Give yourselves a treat.  Go to the Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos in New Orleans.  You will be blessed.  We love you.

From Bob and Penny Lord archives

For more information and media click here


St. Francis of Assisi’s Focus and Perfect Joy

October 3, 2017

St. Francis of Assisi’s Focus and Perfect Joy


Francis was always very focused. He insisted on being focused. We believe he feared that if he veered even a micro-millimeter from his focal point, he was lost. He never considered himself very intelligent, or an eloquent speaker. But when you have a direct pipeline to the Holy Spirit, how smart do you have to be? You just let God’s Words flow through you, and you will be considered the most brilliant of all men, and perhaps the most despised.
An excellent example of Francis’ focus was his definition of Perfect Joy. It’s an outlook that, if adopted, is almost a guarantee that you’ll never be disappointed. Francis and Brother Leo were returning to Santa Maria degli Angeli. Francis said to Brother Leo,
“Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor gives sight to the blind, heals the paralyzed, drives out devils, gives hearing back to the deaf, makes the lame walk, and restores speech to the dumb, and what is still more, brings back to life a man who has been dead four days, write that perfect joy is not in that.”
They walked along silently for a short distance. Francis was becoming emotional. He cried out loudly,
“Brother Leo, if a Friar Minor knew all languages and all sciences and Scripture, if he also knew how to prophesy and to reveal not only the future but also the secrets of the consciences and minds of others, write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that.”
Then once again, a little farther on, Francis cried out to Brother Leo,
“Brother Leo, little lamb of God, even if a Friar Minor could speak with the voice of an Angel, and knew the courses of the stars and the powers of herbs, and knew all about the treasures in the earth, and if he knew the qualities of birds and fishes, animals, humans, roots, trees, rocks, and waters, write down and note carefully that true joy is not in that.”
Brother Leo knew that Francis was on a roll. He also knew if he didn’t finally ask the question, this would continue on until they reached Assisi. But he remained silent. Then Father Francis called out again,
“Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor could preach so well that he should convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that perfect joy is not there.”
By this time, the discourse had been going on for two miles. Leo decided it was time. He cried out to Francis, whom he loved more than life. “Father, I beg you in God’s name to tell me where perfect joy is!” That was all Francis needed. He cried out with such delight,
“When we come to St. Mary of the Angels, soaked by the rain and frozen by the cold, all soiled with mud and suffering from hunger, and we ring at the gate of the Place and the brother porter comes and says angrily, `Who are you?’ And we say, `We are two of your brothers’, and he contradicts us, saying, `You are not telling the truth. Rather you are two rascals who go around deceiving people and stealing what they give to the poor. Go away!’ And he does not open for us, but makes us stand outside in the snow and rain, cold and hungry, until night falls – then if we endure all those insults and cruel rebuffs patiently, without being troubled and without complaining, and if we reflect humbly and charitably that that porter really knows us and that God makes him speak against us, oh, Brother Leo, write that perfect joy is there!
“And if we continue to knock, and the porter comes out in anger, and drives us away with curses and hard blows like bothersome scoundrels, saying, `Get away from here, you dirty thieves – go to the hospital! Who do you think you are? You certainly won’t eat or sleep here!’ – and if we bear it patiently and take the insults with joy and love in our hearts, oh, Brother Leo, write that that is perfect joy!
“And if later, suffering intensely from hunger and the painful cold, with night falling, we still knock and call, and crying loudly beg them to open for us and let us come in for the love of God, and he grows still more angry and says, `Those fellows are bold and shameless ruffians. I’ll give them what they deserve!’ And he comes out with a knotty club, and grasping us by the cowl throws us onto the mud and snow, and beats us with that club so much that he covers our bodies with wounds – if we endure all those evils and insults and blows with joy and patience, reflecting that we must for love of Him, oh, Brother Leo, write, that is perfect joy!
“And now hear the conclusion, Brother Leo. Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to His friends is that of conquering oneself and willingly enduring sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships for the love of Christ. For we cannot glory in all those other marvelous gifts of God, as they are not ours but God’s, as the Apostles say, `What have you that you have not received?’
“But we can glory in the cross of tribulations and afflictions, because that is ours, and so the Apostles say, `I will not glory save in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ!’”
Francis’ philosophy was simple. He wanted to live the Gospel life. True, he wanted to go out to teach all nations, and there must have been a certain amount of joy at the beginning, when the fraternity grew so rapidly. Brothers were going all over Europe, preaching the Gospel. But he knew why he had to be a ramrod in his persistence. He knew he could not go to the right or to the left; he had to remain in the center of his vision, or he would lose it.
Francis considered anything other than the basic, ground-zero commitment to poverty and the Gospel, as distraction. He feared that distraction would lead to division. Too many books would clutter the mind; the Gospel would become vague. He didn’t want his Friars to read too much. There was nothing that could top the Gospel, was there? And that’s what their calling was, wasn’t it? He was happy with the little huts they had begun with, nestled all around the Portiuncola. He and the brothers could go off preaching for months at a time, and come back, to find that nothing had been disturbed, because there was nothing of any value to steal.
A perfect example of Francis’ philosophy took place when he was invited to have dinner at a Bishop’s home. Francis asked for the discarded bread. The Bishop asked Francis to at least eat the fresh bread. Francis’ reply was, “If I eat the fresh bread, I will want to eat the gravy. And if I eat the gravy, I will want to eat the meat.” Francis knew exactly who he was. He knew who his Friars were. Theirs was such a rigid, difficult road to walk, the slightest breach of a rule could make the entire structure crumble. Francis knew that. Unfortunately, others of his Fraternity did not.

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Saint Francis’s Prayer Before the Crucifix

Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me
true faith, certain hope, and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge, Lord, that I may carry out
Your holy and true command. Amen.


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