Saint Alphonsus Ligouri loses and God wins!

August 1, 2015

Alphonsus loses; God wins!

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It has been said that in the eight years he practiced law, he possessed a record of never having lost a case. That is, all except the one case which would change his life and the direction it had been taking. We now find our young lawyer in the year 1723, about to face his first defeat. There was a trial, centering around a lawsuit between a nobleman from Naples and the Grand Duke of Tuscany, being waged in the courts of law. We don’t know whether Alphonsus was representing the plaintiff or the defendant. We only know that Alphonsus began with his usual brilliant, cleverly prepared remarks to the court. Satisfied with the obvious results which would assuredly be forthcoming, the young Alphonsus confidently sat down, after he finished speaking. But his contentment was to be short-lived. Just as he was about to call his first witness, the opposing attorney coldly confronted him, insisting his arguments were ill placed, as Alphonsus had missed a section of the document, which completely negated his allegations and consequently jeopardized the success of his case. As this was so out of the ordinary, Alphonsus insisted on reading the document. Incredulously examining and reexamining the brief, and then, not satisfied, poring over it meticulously, over and over again, there was nothing left but to admit he had in fact missed that section and had consequently lost the case. He was desolate. All around him, in the courtroom, tried to console him, even the judge; but Alphonsus would have none of it. His greatest fear was that they might judge he had been purposely trying to deceive them. No amount of reassurances could dissuade him. He bolted out of the courtroom, crying out that he was finished with law and all its trappings.
He went to his room and refused to eat anything for three days. After his battle with himself (he thought), he realized that more than an attempt to humiliate him, this was an act by God to bring him to the road he was supposed to be traveling. Realizing he had journeyed to his eternal goal by the wide road, allowing the many deviations of the world he had chosen, to distract him and lure him from his Heavenly destination, he spent days upon days praying, seeking God’s Will in his life. There is no record of how long he prayed; we only know that on August the 28th, in the year 1723, our Alphonsus went to the Hospital for the Incurables, to visit the  sick and dying. As he was making his rounds, suddenly he felt the room he was in, shake. Whereupon, he heard a voice call out to him, “Leave the world and give thyself to Me.” That he might not think this was his imagination, the voice repeated the command. His blood racing, his heart pounding, Alphonsus rushed out of the hospital and went over to the church of the Redemption of Captives (or as it also known: Our Lady of the Ransom). He knelt before the image of Our Lady and laid his sword at Her feet, swearing his lifetime allegiance. He then made a solemn resolution to enter the Religious Life, starting as a novice in the Fathers of the Oratory.

Alphonsus begins his walk toward Sainthood

His walk was not to be an easy one. His father was not too happy with his two ill-attempted tries at marrying Alphonsus to a suitable wife of a prestigious family, nor was he pleased with his son’s decision to leave his profession as a lawyer. His worst fears were realized! His father was furious with his decision to leave the world and enter Religious Life, especially as an Oratorian. After enduring two months of trials, finally triumph! – resignation on his father’s side and compromise on that of Alphonsus. His father gave his consent to his son pursuing a Religious Life as a priest, as long as it was not as an Oratorian; and Alphonsus agreed! The other hook was that Alphonsus agree to remain at home; and Alphonsus agreed!

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Without fidelity to an Order already established, it freed Alphonsus to found an Order of his own, one day. On October 23rd., in the year 1723, Alphonsus was vested in the clothes of a cleric; and in September of the following year, he received the tonsure, soon after gaining admittance to a missionary secular priests organization, called the “Neopolitan Propaganda” where priests were not required to live a communal life in community. He was to receive minor orders in December of the year 1724, and joined the Subdiaconate in September of the following year, 1725. April the 6th, 1726, he was enrolled in the Diaconate, as a Deacon. On December 21 st of that same year, Alphonsus was ordained a priest – he was now thirty years old.

Read more about Saint Alphonsus Ligouri here 

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Watch our documentary on Saint Alphonsus Ligouri


Saint Benedict – Father of Western Monasticism

July 9, 2015

St. Benedict – Father of Western Monasticism

Fambenedict2ily, I recall standing on the top steps of the Benedictine Abbey of Montecassino in Italy.  The view down into the valley is breathtaking.  We bring our pilgrims there for a visit and tour.  We always wanted to make a program on St. Benedict, but could never get permission to do so.

 

However, when we moved to Arkansas, the Lord put us together with Abbot Jerome Kodell of Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas.  We became fast friends.  He celebrated Mass at the Holy Family Mission often, and we did whatever we could for him at Subiaco.

A few years after we met him, we had a conversation about St. Benedict and the Abbey at Montecassino.  We explained our plight in trying to get permission to videotape there.  He offered to send an email to the Abbot at Montecassino recommending us and asking if he wouldn’t just this once, give us permission to videotape a program there.  He did and we brought a copy of it with us to Italy that year.  When we got to the entrance of the Abbey, we were stopped.  We showed the email to the guard, who spoke no English.  He called the Abbot who happened to be a young man.  He came out, looked at the three of us, Bob, Penny and Brother Joseph, and pointed to Penny.  “You” he said in Italian “come inside with me.  The others wait outside.”

Bro and I waited outside, concerned, but not too much.  My wife had to ability to woo anyone.  We were sure we would get permission, almost!  After what seemed like forever, she came out with that victorious smirk on her face.  The Abbot said to us in parting, in ENGLISH, “Make a good program on my Saint.”benedict1

The doors were opened.  We were given a guide who took us to every area of the Shrine, including the original tomb of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica.  A great deal of these artifacts were underground.  Remember, the Abbey at Montecassino was bombed out during World War II.  We were taken to places where no pilgrim or tourist is allowed to go.  We were told that this Abbey, in its original form, was built by St. Benedict and his followers.  Of course, the magnificent structure you see today is a great improvement on the original.

We went to Subiaco Abbey, which is just a short distance from Montecassino.  It too was built by St. Benedict, but it’s mostly caves.  This was the first home of the Benedictines.  Upon returning to the United States, we went to Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas, and videotaped Abbot Kodell there.  We also videotaped the monks as they sang vespers.  There is a school there, elementary and high school.  We videotaped the students being taught.  It made for a beautiful program.

The St. Benedict Cross

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During the writing of the Chapter on St. Benedict in our book,

“Saints Maligned, Misunderstood, Mistreated and during the taping of the program on his life, we came in contact with the Benedictine Cross on many occasions.  It can be seen at the Shrine of Montecassino.  We also noticed it at the Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas.  We thought it was the Saint’s cross, like other Saints have.  But then we did a little research on it.  We went to our favorite resource, Catholic Encyclopedia at newadvent.org.    Here’s what they told us.

During the life of St. Benedict, while he was living in a cave, when a group of religious came to him and asked him to be their abbot, as their leader had died.  Benedict agreed and proceeded to put forth a set of rules, which were basically “Ora et labora”  Pray and work.  This did not sit well with a good deal of his new monks, and they decided to kill him.  They invited him to dinner with them.  They poisoned the bread and the wine.  When St. Benedict blessed the bread and wine, he was given the knowledge that they were poison.  He dumped the goblet of wine and commanded a raven to take the bread away.  This is why the raven is always seen at the feet of the Saint in statues that are carved of him.

 

  1. The Jubilee Medal of St. Benedict

The Catholic Encyclopedia Explains:

FRONT

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One side of the medal bears an image of St. Benedict, holding a cross in the right hand and the Holy Rule in the left. On the one side of the image is a cup, on the other a raven, and above the cup and the raven are inscribed the words: “Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti” (Cross of the Holy Father Benedict). Round the margin of the medal stands the legend “Ejus in obitu nostro praesentia muniamus” (May we at our death be fortified by his presence).

 

 

BACK

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The reverse of the medal bears a cross with the initial letters of the words: “CSSML” (The Holy Cross be my light), written downward on the perpendicular bar; the initial letters of the words, “NDSMD”(Let not the dragon be my guide), on the horizontal bar; and the initial letters of “CSPB” in the angles of the cross. Round the margin stand the initial letters of the distich: “VRSNSMV— SMQLIVB” (Begone, Satan, do not suggest to me thy vanities — evil are the things thou proffers, drink thou thy own poison). At the top of the cross usually stands the word Pax (peace) or the monogram IHS (Jesus).

 

How did this all come about?

Again, we went to Catholic Encyclopedia and got the following information about the tradition of the Cross of St. Benedict.

Nobody knows for sure when the actual Medal of St. Benedict originated. However, during a trial for witchcraft at Natternberg near the Abbey of Metten in Bavaria in the year 1647, the accused women testified that they had no power over the Abbey at Metten, which was under the protection of the cross. Upon investigation, a number of painted crosses, surrounded by the letters which are now found on Benedictine medals, were found on the walls of the abbey, but their meaning had been forgotten.  Finally, in 1742, Pope Benedict XIV approved a medal to be struck using the image of St. Benedict on the front, and the symbols we mention above on the back.

Family, we’re told that the wearing of these medals are great ways to ward off the powers of Hell especially at the hour of death.  Penny and I have always had a great devotion to St. Benedict.  Any devotion to him would be well worth praying.  There is a litany to St. Benedict.  It’s in the last page of his chapter in our book.  Take advantage of all you can.  If ever we needed to arm ourselves against the powers of evil, this is it.  We love you!

 

We have a selection of Saint Benedict
Medals and Crosses here 

Note we ask for your email but we never ever share your information with anyone period.

https://www.22s.com/app/srm?p=MjJzQXJncyw4MDE3Niw0LDEsMA%3D%3D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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


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