This is where I attended Mass on Ascension Thursday.
For those of you who are unaware, St. John Neumann was a bishop of Philadelphia and brought us some incredibly wonderful treasures in his tenure as Archbishop. He opened the door to many religious communities, founded orphanages and schools, and did his best to provide a proper education, healthcare and basic necessities to the many immigrants that made their way through our fair city.
For his great love of Christ and His Church, God bestowed upon this servant the title of Saint. Even more glorious, God worked His grace through St. John by blessing him to be among the Incorruptibles.
St. Peter the Apostle houses a shrine built in his honor. This shrine boasts a small museum of his artifacts and relics, but most importantly, this shrine houses St. John's body beneath an altar.
Enjoy the photos.
A friend of mine asked for prayers last night.
She suffered a miscarriage 10 weeks into her pregnancy. Something she said really struck me (and I hope she doesn't mind me posting it here). She said, "I was lucky because I attended Mass this morning, so my baby got that extra blessing before passing on."
Her faith is awe-inspiring.
I immediately wrote back and assured her of my prayers. I am also enlisting you wonderful readers. Please shoot up a prayer or two her way. She, her husband, and her daughter could surely use all love they can get as they wade through the coming months.
In fact, if I may, please keep all those who suffer miscarriages in your prayers. I know of at least two other women who have recently endured the pain of hearing such news. They and their families could all use support.
I'm going to post my reflection on miscarriage here. I know I've spoken of it in the past, but it never hurts to repost something of such significance. These cherished children the Lord blesses us with so briefly... they are meant for great things.
The pain of losing one (even before birth!) is palpable because for those of us lucky enough to carry life – even briefly – we carry within us the seed of divinity. The Breath of Life from the One who animates our mortal bodies takes root not just in our bodies, but in our souls.
When that Breath returns to its Creator, we cannot help but mourn the loss of Divinity. We cannot help but mourn the loss of such invaluable treasure.
But we don’t really lose these children, do we? Instead, we are given them briefly so we can gain them swiftly as saints. And maybe these little souls are given this choice, themselves, before conception. Maybe God allows them to foresee their role as intercessor and gives them the choice. Maybe He says, "Will you consent to sacrifice your life for the benefit of My Will? Will you sacrifice your earthly life so that you can help the family you leave behind make it to My Kingdom?"
And those little saints – with the wisdom of Heaven unclouded by the stain of sin – jump at the chance to acknowledge and fulfill God’s Will. I truly believe they offer themselves to His Will for the benefit of their families. They are gathered into the arms of their guardian angels and rewarded with the perfect splendor of Heaven.
And blessed are those with such radiant saints before the Throne of God. Blessed are those who mourn so acutely the same sorrow as Our Lady who mourned the loss of Her Beloved Son. I truly believe that God allows such significant loss specifically so families with special needs (either now or in the future) have their own patron saint to bring petitions before Him.
And I believe my friend is blessed to be able to see the Hand of God in this tragedy. Her faith is truly incredible to me. I am humbled and empowered by her example. May she and all those asked to endure this cross be gifted peace.
We flew down to Florida on Thanksgiving Day. It was Vincent's first ride on a plane, and I have to admit - he was incredible. Considering Mommy's first plane ride was woefully embarrassing, I was proud that Vince handled the entire adventure like a champ.
As we entered the plane, I made a little cross on the entrance hatch with my thumb and asked God to protect the staff and passengers aboard (did the same thing coming back!). I held his hand on the ascent (so did Daddy) and fed him fruit snacks to keep his ears popping in between Hail Marys. He played on the iPad most of the flight, then snuggled into my lap for his nippy-nap.
My father-in-law was there to pick us up from the airport. John, Vince and I traveled down with John's two sisters, our one brother-in-law, and our niece. As he drove us back to the house, I texted my mom to let her know we'd touched down safely. It was then that I noticed the notification that I'd received an e-mail from a friend.
I'm going to post the e-mail here with all identifying information removed. I could've died.
I wanted to send you a note to say that I was really struck by [our] conversation about incorruptible saints. I think I was meant to hear you talk about that. You probably wouldn't know, but when I was growing up I developed [a disorder]. I won't go into detail, but because my being Catholic was intertwined with my disorder I let both of them go in a pretty big way while in therapy.
Anyway, my faith has been heavy on my mind lately, much more than it has been in many years. I looked up incorruptible saints and read that Saint Cecilia, who is the saint I chose for Confirmation in 8th grade, was the first incorruptible! Then after Thanksgiving dinner tonight, my aunt, who is my Godmother, told me she had some things for me. It turned out she had gone on a religious pilgrimage recently and brought back some blessed relics for me. For the passed almost 10 years now I usually politely accept these types of gifts so not to insult anyone, but I guess she must have sensed that I was impressionable today because she felt compelled to pull me aside and assure me that I can talk to God anytime and remind me of the reasons we have Saints. I was almost moved to tears as she was talking and got a lot of feelings of confirmation. I decided to further research Saint Cecilia when I got home and it turns out this Thanksgiving happened to fall on her feast day!
I feel like I am getting a lot of signs that I shouldn't ignore. I really admire the strength you seem too have in your faith, Gina. There are some things I believe but other things I struggle with because they evoke a lot of fear for me. If you ever feel inclined to talk about it with me, I would really like to pick your brain.
Seriously... I could've died reading that. I got teary-eyed myself (and I told her so!). But wow. I told her how happy I was that she'd discerned the calling of God and reaffirmed that He was chasing her down because He loved her so much. It was a nice reminder of how wonderful our Father is... how much He loves us... how hard He tries to win us all back to Himself. He lines things up in such a way that we can't help but acknowledge His Hand in everything. And what a splendid picture He painted for her! How blessed am I to have been a part of it!
I told her that her message topped my list of Things to be Thankful For. Such beautiful reminders of how much God loves us and how far He's willing to go to remind us of that love... it's just incredible.
And to use such an innocuous conversation as a small signal that He's thinking about her. Take every opportunity, folks. Everyone opportunity that presents itself is your chance to help Divine Providence along. Just open the door to communication and God will take care of the rest. Just... incredible. What an amazing Thanksgiving surprise. :)
Best guys ever
Today is my last day of work at my current job. Starting on Tuesday, after the holiday, I begin working with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Tuesday simply cannot come fast enough. :)
However, today I am doubly grateful for my direct supervisor who has sustained me these last few years. He is a true gem and someone I was always happy to work for. His boss, too. :) My love for and appreciation of both those men are what brought me into work each morning.
Poor thing is shredded
I went on a veil buying binge Wednesday night. It was terrible. And by terrible, I mean amazing. :)
All my Garlands of Grace ones wore themselves out, and due to their verbal misstep a few months back, I've found myself Catholic-friendly vendors with exquisite products.
If you aren't already a fan, may I suggest to you the following for all your veiling needs:
Veils by Lily
A Snood for All Seasons (A Woman's Place)
Vince and Ray
My brother, Ray, bought his very first house! To celebrate, John, Vincent and I took him out for dinner. He chose a new Hibachi place near his house, so Vincent got to experience his first Hibachi!!!
He was super scared of the fire, so he kept covering his eyes, afraid that the chef was going to keep surprising him with huge bursts of flame. He got over it pretty fast, though, and happily ate his rice and noodles.
There was a brief accident before the food came out that had John, Ray and I scrambling to mop up after Vince, but otherwise, it was a great time all around!
Yay family picture!
Vincent also got to experience his first trip to the circus!!!
We have a circus that comes around every year, and John decided that this would be a good time to take Vincent. I agreed, and we were able to enjoy front-and-center tickets to a really amazing show!
I loved the acrobats the most. Vince loved the man running around in a giant hamster ball. John loved the motorbikes riding around in a steel cage.
Now that Vincent is starting to be interested in video games, John (an avid retro gamer) has been introducing him to games like Mega Man, Sonic and Zelda.
On his own, however, he's been playing another older game for nostalgia. It's called Chrono Trigger and it's actually his favorite game from when he was a child.
Anyway, one of the character's names is "Lucca." I caught my breath again when I saw that name randomly pop up as the character introduced itself. Just thought that was interesting, especially because the night before, I had had a dream in which I gave birth to a little boy. I couldn't decide if I should call him Luca or Nathan, but ended up introducing him to my brother as "Luca Nathaniel." I've had Luca on the brain!
I got to spend an hour and a half at Adoration the other day. There is a beautiful adoration chapel near my home that has a very unique monstrance / tabernacle. The laity is encouraged to approach the Blessed Sacrament that is enclosed within the tabernacle and unhinge the doors so as to "open" the monstrance in order to view the Host.
I wasn't sure if I could approach the monstrance / tabernacle combo, because I felt as part of the laity I was not supposed to touch the sacred vessel. I asked Father Z from WDTPRS about it, and he was kind enough to dedicate an entry to answering me. That can be found here.
Anyway, considering I'm not a EMHC, I won't touch the door. So when I went to adoration and saw that the door was closed, I simply knelt before it and prayed without approaching. Christ is present regardless of if I can see Him or not.
A few minutes later, a woman walked in for adoration and opened the monstrance. I could feel her laughing at me... as if I didn't know I was supposed to open the door. She stayed for about five or ten minutes, but when she left, she said "Please make sure you close the door."
I silently nodded. I was thinking "Okay, Lord, you know I don't want to touch Your door because I don't think I'm supposed to. If you don't want me touching it either, just send someone else to do it for me."
Don't ya know about 10 minutes later, someone else came for adoration? :) God is good. I'm taking this as the sign similar to that I got last year. Steer clear of touching His sacred vessels, because even with the best of intentions, it's not His Will. For me, anyway. Ha!
Very early this morning I had a dream of St. Michael. It was very brief, but incredibly intense.
I was home with Vincent. I was on the phone with John (who was at work) trying to warn him of an approaching storm. I looked out the window, and I saw a huge tornado swirling down the road towards John (who, for some reason, was on the roof several doors down). It was sucking up buildings, trees, etc. I saw it tearing apart everything. I remember feeling intensely scared for John. I kept yelling for him to take cover.
The tornado suddenly stopped and lost its fury. I watched as the debris began spilling forth from the mouth of the once furious tornado. John, now thinking he was safe, didn't realize that the debris posed more of a threat than the tornado. I was still yelling for him to take cover when I saw him.
It was Saint Michael. I knew it the instant I saw him. He was coming down from the sky, just off from where I saw John, and he was holding his sword above his head as if he were leading a battle charge.
What's odd about how he appeared to me is that he didn't appear as a full-colored "body" like I've seen in paintings and such. Instead, he was an actual entity, but he was almost in negative... sorta like this:
Sorry for the creepy effect, but I couldn't actually make out any of St. Michael's facial features. He was enveloped in such a bright, bright light that it almost seemed to be coming out of him. It was as if he was made out of light and the armor he wore somehow clung to the light that formed him. Strange, right? I dunno. A photo-negative is the closest thing I can think of to what he looked like.
When I saw him, I felt such peace. I knew that everything was going to be okay, but I also knew that we were in for a world of chaos. He brought the knowledge that peace was coming, but before that peace, we'd be dealing with an incredibly destructive tornado of chaos.
Upon seeing him, I turned back to find Vincent. I dropped to my knees and began saying the Prayer to St. Michael over and over again. Before I could find Vincent, though, my alarm woke me up. Regardless, it was an amazing dream, and it's thus far stuck with me through the entire day. St. Michael, pray for us.
So those are mine! For more quick takes, check out Conversion Diary (and start your own!).
Just suppose that you could have pre-existed your own mother, in much the same way that an artist pre-exists his painting. Furthermore, suppose that you had an infinite power to make your mother anything that you pleased, just as a great artist like Raphael has the power of realizing his artistic ideals. Suppose you had this double power, what kind of mother would you have made for yourself?
Would you have made her of such a type that would make you blush because of her un-womanly and un-motherlike actions? Would you have in any way stained and soiled her with the selfishness that would make her unattractive not only to you, but to your fellow-man? Would you have made her exteriorly and interiorly of such a character as to make you ashamed of her, or would you have made her, so far as human beauty goes, the most beautiful woman in the world; and so far as beauty of the soul goes, one who would radiate every virtue, every manner of kindness and charity and loveliness; one who by the purity of her life and her mind and her heart would be an inspiration not only to you, but even to your fellow-men, so that all would look up to her as the very incarnation of what is best in motherhood?
Now if you who are an imperfect being and who have not the most delicate conception of all that is fine in life would have wished for the loveliest of mothers, do you think that our Blessed Lord, who not only pre-existed His own mother but who had an infinite power to make her just what He chose, would in virtue of all the infinite delicacy of His spirit make her any less pure and loving and beautiful than you would have made your own mother? If you who hate selfishness would have made her selfless and you who hate ugliness would have made her beautiful, do you not think that the Son of God, who hates sin, would have made His own mother sinless and He who hates moral ugliness would have made her immaculately beautiful?
Today's blog entry today brought to you by the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen. :)
Enjoy some more of his love for Christ's Church:
This series deals with visionaries not yet approved by the Church. Under the umbrella of private revelation, it is up to each individual to decide for him/herself the truth of these claims. I am not suggesting you believe or disbelieve. I'm suggesting that the messages contained within are important enough to warrant an open and honest discussion. Above all, these messages deserve to be looked into with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. So please read this prayer before moving on:
O Holy Ghost, divine Spirit of light and love, I consecrate to Thee my understanding, my heart and my will, my whole being for time and for eternity. May my understanding be always obedient to Thy heavenly inspirations and the teachings of the holy Catholic Church, of which Thou art the infallible Guide; may my heart be ever inflamed with love of God and of my neighbor; may my will be ever conformed to the divine will, and may my whole life be a faithful following of the life and virtues of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and Thee be honor and glory for ever. Amen.
Prophecies I - My History
This was the booklet!
How to begin a post that makes you sound like a crazy person?
Holy Spirit, please guide my language.
When I was a child, I found a booklet in the back of my church. It was the story of Our Lady of Fatima as written by Sr. Lucia.
I was pretty young at this point. I had probably only just made my 1st Communion. However, I was blessed with a very fervent love of Our Lady from my earliest days, so when I saw this free booklet with such a pretty picture of her on the front, I couldn't wait to read it!
What's more, I learned that this was the story of the Blessed Mother coming down from Heaven to TALK to us! I don't think my little heart could have been more excited! I don't think I even knew that she did that sort of thing.
Anyway, this was probably the birth of my interest in visionaries. For many years, Fatima and Lourdes were the only two instances I knew of that Our Lady appeared. However, I could read about them / hear of them over and over again. The idea of the Blessed Mother coming down and speaking to her children filled me with so much joy, and it made perfect sense. Of COURSE she'd want to come down to give us little lessons of faith. Of COURSE she'd want to bequeath to us special graces in the form of "proofs" and healing waters.
It wasn't until I was in High School that I came to know Our Lady wasn't just keeping busy in Fatima and Lourdes. She was running all over the place!!!
One particular set of apparitions really drew me in - those of Garabandal. At first, I sort of rolled my eyes and poo-poohed the idea of the Blessed Mother being among us in this generation. It took me a long time of reading the revelations and learning the back stories of the visionaries before I finally said, "Okay... there may actually be something to this."
So I delved into the messages more and more. Considering I wasn't exactly a Catholic at this point, the messages and revelations were merely interesting suggestions for what the future might hold... fairy tales that were more interesting than the scientific theories only because Our Lady was the central character.
I didn't exactly "disbelieve" the revelations. I simply expected them to be in the far-off future. However, something always gnawed at me on that score. I felt an urgency that I wrote off as foolishness.
"Gina," I'd tell myself, "you're being ridiculous. Stop believing everything you read."
So I'd ignore the urgency and convince myself that the messages of repentance and prayer weren't really for me so much as for future generations. I mean, I could pray a thousand times a day and the effects wouldn't be for me so much as for my great-great-great-grandchildren, ya know?
All of that changed, however, just before my reversion.
Veronica of Bayside
I learned of a reported series of apparitions by Our Lady in the United States. At this point, I'd become well-versed with the various apparitions around the world. However, this particular set interested me because of the close proximity and the relative directness of the messages.
The more I read, the more began to question my own understanding of Catholicism. The more I read, the more I realized that I couldn't escape the fact that Our Lady was trying to speak to ALL of her children and that we needed to start listening YESTERDAY.
In an effort to console myself, I began looking for discrediting information. Some of the messages seemed to conflict with one another, and the wording just seemed... off. However, I figured that the messages were important enough to warrant an open, honest heart, so I prayed a rosary for discernment (falling back on the lesson I learned in that Fatima booklet regarding the power of the Rosary to those who use it to call upon Mary's intercession).
That rosary became my Conversion Rosary.
With it, I felt a fire return to my soul. Our Lady heard my call for help and rushed to my aid. She also obtained from the Holy Spirit discernment for my disbelieving heart.
The next day, I learned that the Bayside prophecies were rejected by the Church. I fully believe that Veronica, the visionary, was granted great graces by Our Lady, but I also believe that those surrounding her (even another visionary!) began using their privileged place for their own purposes, thus sullying the reputation of ALL Bayside prophecies.
As a result of this, I ceased my research regarding Bayside (now content that there was too much contrary information to find the complete Truth). I then asked Our Lady to direct me somewhere to really hear her messages.
I knew at that point she wanted to teach me something. I just had no idea what it was. So, at a loss, I turned to both her and the Holy Spirit.
For the first time in my entire life, I actually prayed to the 3rd Person of the Trinity. I never really understood His Purpose (even AFTER all my Confirmation classes). That's embarrassing to admit, but it's true.
Up until my reversion, the Holy Spirit was always just "that Guy." Like an extra piece in a jig-saw puzzle, I knew He fit, I just weren't sure what I got wrong that made it seem that He didn't.
So I prayed. Discernment and wisdom were what I prayed for. I wasn't looking for a direct line to His vast stores of knowledge, but I knew that He'd be the one able to lead me to the information I was looking for.
Within 24 hours of that SOS to the Holy Spirit, I was given direction. It happened so quickly that I actually felt ashamed for not having spoken to Him sooner. I thought, "Wow... everyone's so wrapped up in speaking to God the Father or Jesus that You must get forgotten a lot. Yet here You are, so eager to help that You fall over Yourself to answer my tiny request. I'm coming to You for the big stuff from now one!"
Seriously, though, we would do well to remember that the Holy Spirit is the "Mighty One" spoken of in the Divine Mercy chaplet. He is the one who endows us with special gifts and graces. He is the one tasked with protecting and guiding us while we remain on earth.
Anyway, I was granted three websites of incredible value. The first was a list of saints and beati who were granted the grace of visions and locutions. The second was the online version of St. Faustina's Diary (which truly grounded and directed my blossoming faith). The third was a current set of apparitions that spoke boldly of Christ's Second Coming... and something called "The Warning."
To be continued in Prophecies II - The Warning
Father Carlos began with a presentation regarding the Biblical history of relics, how they are used, and how we can properly venerate these proofs of God's grace among us.
It was - verbatim - the same presentation he gave last time (which makes perfect sense considering he's given this about a bazillion times at this point). Regardless, I still learned something from it and felt completely uplifted upon its completion.
There had to be about 800-1000 of us in attendance. Three times, Father asked us to sardine ourselves further and further into the pews so more people could fit. Even with our sandwiching, it was standing-room only. For our part, no one complained and everyone was happy to suffer the invasion of personal space for a brief half-hour.
At the close of his presentation, Father directed the massive throng of people to the gymnasium of the parish school. The relics had been set up there so people would have more room to mill about.
This was new for me as the last time I'd attended veneration, it was held in the church. Granted, St. Agnes is a much, MUCH larger church, so there wasn't a question of space. However, I have to say that I truly feel as though something was lost from this experience because we had removed ourselves from the sacred space of the church.
Within moments of stepping outside the church to move ourselves to the gymnasium, folks were lighting up cigarettes and pulling out their cell phones. I admit that I, too, began talking with my friends from Philly. However, it was a subdued chatter at this point. Folks were still being respectful of one another, and the excitement from what we were about to experience was fresh.
Unfortunately, all that was checked at the door as we slowly filed into the gym. This is where I started to cringe.
Being a gymnasium packed with several hundred people, it got very hot very fast. Also, since there were only 168 relics for the several hundred of us to share, the lines weren't exactly the speediest. There was also a lack of organization regarding line direction which led to some folks accidentally "butting" in front of others.
Slowly, the nasty remarks began trickling in. I honestly believe that had we been in a church, this wouldn't have happened.
Why is it so hot in here?
This is horribly organized.
Can't they get fans set up?
Why is no one directing traffic?
Hey, the line starts back THERE, buddy.
Can you hurry it up a little, lady?
Again, had we been in a church, I doubt these comments would have surfaced (or at least wouldn't have surfaced so loudly and so angrily).
Being in front of the Blessed Sacrament (even while enclosed in the tabernacle) seems to remind us that we are in the Presence of the Divine. Relics, while not divine, are instruments of Divine Power. Though nothing of themselves, God has chosen to utilize relics in a way that highlights the lives of His elect so that we may better follow their example.
Anyway, I feel as though we lost sight of that due to our environment (a lackluster gymnasium). Thus, idle chatter and rather rude statements spread like wildfire.
I realized that I, too, was beginning to take part in the chatter. So, to distance myself from the behavior, I left the group of friends I'd arrived with in order to remove myself from the temptation. Mind you, this was through no fault of my friends. I was the one instigating most of the chatter, so I figured it'd be best for both myself and them for me to meet up with them after they'd been able to experience everything for themselves.
I was able to read Conchita's Diary in full while in line to venerate the "Biggies" of the exposition. They included:
There was also a piece of Our Lady's veil, but I forgot to take a photo of it as I was too busy praying. *Blush* I remembered in time for the True Cross, though, because I knew folks would want to see that one!
Anyway, I went from table to table, touching my medals / rosary to the various reliquaries in order to create 3rd Class relics for a few family and friends who were unable to attend. I snapped a few photos of the exposition for the rest of you in an effort to coax you into requesting one for your own parish. Even though this experience wasn't as favorable as my original one, it was still extremely worthwhile and beautiful. I still learned so much, and I'm sure the graces I gained from being present with so many of God's elect steeled my soul and gifted me a deeper appreciation and love for all His many blessings.
Enjoy the slideshow!
by Sharon Clossick - click for more info
Saint Maria Goretti has always been, in my mind, the epitome of forgiveness.
At this point in time, most people know her story. She was a poor girl from a poor family. Destitute, they had to give up their home to work with (and then for) another family, the Serenellis. Shortly after, Maria's father passed away from malaria, leaving her mother and siblings at the mercy of the Serenelli family.
For several years the Goretti family worked for the Serenellis. However, even before her father passed away, Maria (then only nine) had found herself on the receiving end of sexual advances from Alessandro Serenelli. She thwarted his attempts to sully her purity several times, and each time was threatened with death if she uttered to anyone his treachery.
However, at 11 years old (she was 2 months shy of her 12th birthday which is why so many folks incorrectly list her as a 12 year old), he found her alone after her mother and siblings had gone to work in the field. Maria was home taking care of her infant sister, Teresa. Maria had just placed Teresa down for a nap when Alessandro approached her - again - with the intent to force her into sex. He brandished a 10 inch dagger with which to subdue her. Maria, however, would not allow his perversion to tarnish her chaste purity.
Crying out, "No! It is a sin! God does not want it! You will go to hell." Maria tried to fend off his lustful advances. Enraged, Alessandro choked Maria. This, too, proved futile as Maria insisted she'd rather die than endure the desecration of her body. As a result, Alessandro stabbed her body 11 times times.
He left her bleeding on the floor of her kitchen to die alone, agonizing in pain as his dagger cut through her throat, heart, lungs and spinal column. Yet she attempted to crawl to the door to call for help. Alessandro (who was asleep upstairs) heard her cries of "Mother, I am dying!" and went back to finish his work. He stabbed her 3 more times - 14 in all.Alessandro then fled upon hearing little Teresa cry out. Alessandro's father was awoken by the baby's cries and went down to chide Maria for being negligent. However, he found her bruised and bloodied body instead, and his frantic calls for help brought her mother running.Maria was rushed to the nearest hospital where doctors, incredulous that she'd survived with such terrible wounds, did their best to help her. She underwent immediate surgery (without anesthesia), but doctors knew she would not last. A priest was brought in to perform Last Rites. It was to him she expressed her forgiveness of Alessandro, citing Christ's forgiveness upon the Cross saying, "I, too, pardon him. I, too, wish that he could come some day and join me in heaven." It was this forgiveness that finally caused Alessandro to amend his ways. Having been convicted of murder and imprisoned, he spent many years brooding in his cell. However, no doubt through Maria's intercession, God allowed him the grace of seeing little Maria in her glorified state. In this dream, Maria handed Alessandro 14 lilies, one for each of the wounds he inflicted upon her. Each of these lilies burst into flames of forgiveness as he took them, one by one, from her outstretched hand. From that moment forth, Alessandro changed his life and sought to live out the same love of Christ that Maria had taught him through her pure and holy example.
Upon his release from prison, Alessandro went straight to the home of Maria's mother. When she opened the door, he flung himself at her feet, tearfully begging for her forgiveness.
Again, modeling the holy example of her own saintly daughter, Assunta said, "Alessandro, Marietta forgave you, Christ has forgiven you, and why should I not also forgive. I forgive you, of course, my son!"
The next morning, she led him by the hand to Mass where they received, together, the Eucharist.
Alessandro lived out the rest of his days in the service of monks. No doubt he is in Heaven with little Maria as she had promised so many years before.And what a blessing that her mother and siblings were able to witness the canonization of their own. Assunta said of Maria, ""My God, I was not worthy to have such an angel!"If only she understood that it was through her blessed example that Maria came to understand the love of the Lord. Through her witness, Maria came to love Him and strive for His Grace in all she did.Not only were you worthy of Maria, Assunta - you helped to create her place in Heaven. May you both, together with Alessandro, forever enjoy the Beatific Vision. And may you all intercede for us still toiling below. Pray for us that we may always understand the power and blessing of forgiveness.
Today is the Feast of Divine Mercy. Not one mention of it was made in my parish. :(The deacon gave a nice little homily that referenced the book Heaven is for Real, but nothing about Divine Mercy Sunday!
Nothing about St. Faustina and the incredible promises made by Christ to those who venerated and adored His Gift of Mercy on the Sunday after Easter!
I hope others of you had better luck than I.
However, I was still able to celebrate Christ's Mercy on my own. I participated in the worldwide novena, got myself to a confessional, and participated in the Eucharist (though I dunno if I'd go so far as to say it was a "good reception" considering I was wrangling Vincent at the time).
Anyway, I'm going to ask our pastor if we've got an image of the Divine Mercy for the parish. If not, I believe I've got a good fundraising goal for the Evangelization council. Ha!
For those of you unfamiliar with Divine Mercy, I suggest starting here. This is a relatively new Feast (but not so new that my parish wouldn't have mentioned it!). Anyway, Jesus promises a total absolution of sin and the punishments due to Divine Justice for those who observe this feast through confession and reception of the Eucharist. Considering it the plenary indulgence to end all others. Heh.
Seriously - powerful stuff and desperately needed in this day and age.
The picture itself is of Christ, His Hand raised in blessing as His Sacred Heart pours forth the Blood and water that gushed forth as His Body hung upon the Cross. When the Roman centurion lanced Him, that Blood and Water were the last blessings He imparted to us, offering every last drop of Himself for our salvation. Through His Feast of Divine Mercy, He beckons us to run to Him and steep ourselves in His Mercy. No sin is too great for His Mercy. No sin too dark that it can't be washed clean.
The gospel, of course, ties into this theme as Christ imparted Reconciliation to the Apostles. He "breathed on them" that they might receive the Holy Spirit and thus the authority to provide absolution of sins.
This reminds us of God's enduring Mercy. It is made available to us each time we humble ourselves before Him in the confessional. It is made available to us each time we accept Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. It is made available to us each time we seek forgiveness from one another - and we taste the healing power of this as we, in turn, forgive.
I sincerely hope other parishes took full advantage of this great Mercy. And if you haven't already, might I suggest St. Faustina's Diary? I cannot even begin to describe how illuminating that was! Plus, you can read it online for free!
I was given the privilege of reading The Life of Saint Joseph as seen by mystic and Benedictine Abbess Maria Cecilia Baij. You can purchase it from 101 Foundation (as well as about a million other wonderful items). I honestly learned so much about St. Joseph from this series of revelations. Before reading the book, St. Joseph was just a kind gentleman tasked with loving and protecting Jesus and Mary. Now... now he is so much more, and I am almost stunned with how much love and admiration I now have for him. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I didn't really ever think much of him when I'd call upon the saints! He set me straight on that one... :) Blessed be St. Joseph, the most holy foster father of Jesus and the most chaste and loving spouse of Our Lady! To celebrate, I'll share some of my favorite St. Joseph depictions! This first one is beautiful in that it shows little Jesus "playing" at his father's feet in Joseph's workshop. However, as the sunlight streams in, we see that the shadow young Jesus casts is a Cross. Then we realize that little Jesus is playing with three nails... indicative of the three nails that will one day pierce His Hands and Feet for our salvation.
Oh, and this one... probably everyone has seen this image of St. Joseph and little Jesus at some point or another. It's so tender that my heart just about bursts. Little Jesus is rubbing His Eyes. Was He crying? Is He just waking up? Nodding off to sleep? Regardless, strong and gentle Saint Joseph is there to hold Him, support Him and comfort Him in the most loving of ways.
How happy St. Joseph must have been to cradle that perfect Child in his arms!
How overjoyed he must have been to hear himself called "Father" by the truest Love of his life?
May all children know such love from their fathers, and may all fathers show such tenderness for their children.
Another favorite is this loving moment between St. Joseph and Jesus. St. Joseph holds the lilies that signify his purity. He casts his gaze down upon Jesus as that little God-Child looks up adoringly at His doting foster-father.
The peacefulness that emanates from this picture leaves me sleepy. I'm not kidding! I want to cuddle up against Saint Joseph and rest with little Jesus, too!
I honestly think that upon Jesus' own Death, He immediately flew into Limbo where the souls of the just awaited news that salvation had come. He flew into the depths of this Limbo and sought out first His dear father, Saint Joseph. I imagine their reunion to be something similar. Saint Joseph was probably on his knees in adoration of his Son, yet Jesus scooped him up and embraced him, happy to once more be in the arms of the father who loved him so dearly throughout his earthly life.
May Saint Joseph protect, guide and bless our fathers, and may we learn through his holy example how to love Christ better each day!