Friday, May 20, 2011

Fatima and the Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem

This will be the final post regarding the upcoming pilgrimage to Europe that many of our students will embark on beginning this Monday until they get back and share with us all the awesome-ness they saw. 

Fatima, Portugal:  If you don't yet know about Fatima do yourself a favor and learn about it - these apparitions are probably the most important of the 20th century.  In 1916 the Guardian Angel of Portugal appeared to three children (Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco) three times during which he prayed with them, taught them how to pray and adored the Blessed Sacrament with them.  Then in 1917, Our Lady appeared to them six times (appearing a seventh time to Lucia in 1920).  During the apparitions Our Lady told the children to pray the Rosary for peace in the world and shared with them what is now known as the 'secrets of Fatima', called this because the children did not reveal them - Lucia revealed the first two secrets after 1960 at the request of the bishop and the third secret was sent to the Vatican which was not revealed until very recently.  I won't go into detail here, but rather will point you to the following links which go into detail quite well: 
Fatima - EWTN
Message of Fatima - Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith
Also, during one of the apparitions Our Lady told the children to pray the following after each mystery of the Rosary which you may recognize: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy."
Many pilgrims accompanied the children when Our Lady appeared to them including 70,000 people at the sixth apparition at which occurred the Miracle of the Sun.  You can also read about this at the above EWTN link.  Jacinta and Francisco passed away not long after the apparitions occurred and Lucia passed away in February of 2005. Jacinta and Francisco have been beatified. 

Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem, Portugal:  In the thirteenth century a woman who was afraid her husband was cheating on her decided to go to a sorceress who said she would only work with her if she brought her a consecrated Host.  This obviously being a major major sacrilege, the woman was hesitant but agreed and when she was carrying the host in her linen to take to the sorceress It began to bleed.  The woman ran to her home and placed the Host in a chest in the bedroom.  It continued to bleed and during the night rays of light came forth from the chest.  The woman explained everything to her husband and the two adored the Host the rest of the night.  The parish priest came to return the Host to the church and they did so in procession.  The Host can still be adored at the church today.  Learn more about this Eucharistic miracle at the following links from which the above was derived:
Pierced Hearts
Real Presence

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lourdes, Avila and Burgos

Our Lady of Lourdes is one of the most well-known Marian apparitions in the world and is one of the most highly visited Catholic pilgrimage sites.  In 1858, 14 year old Bernadette Soubirous saw Our Lady for the first time after venturing out to collect driftwood for her family.  Our Lady motioned for Bernadette to pray the rosary and after its conclusion she disappeared.  The third time Our Lady appeared to Bernadette she asked her if she would return for 15 consecutive days.  Bernadette agreed.  During one of the appartitions Our Lady instructed Bernadette to drink of the spring water, wash herself and eat the nearby herbs.  Bernadette started towards the nearby creek but Our Lady told her that was not correct but to go 'over there'.  Bernadette went where Our Lady instructed and dug at the ground to uncover the spring.  Many miracles have occurred through these 'healing waters' of which no impurities have been found.  Of course, another important aspect of the Lourdes apparitions is that when Bernadette asked Our Lady who she was she replied "I am the Immaculate Conception".  The Immaculate Conception is the dogma that Mary was preserved free from the stain of original sin and was free from all personal sin her whole life by a singular grace of God. Bernadette later became a Sister of Charity. She is incorrupt and can be venerated at the convent in Nevers.  Read more about Bernadette and the apparitions here, here and here.

Crossing the border into Spain:
Avila's big claim to fame is, of course, St. Teresa of Avila.  St. Teresa is one of three women doctors of the Church along with St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Catherine of Siena.  St. Teresa reformed the Carmelite order and was a great mystic.  She had a strong devotion to St. Joseph and encouraged people to call on his assistance.  One of her greatest writings, Interior Castle, continues to be a source of spiritual nourishment.  Here is an excerpt: 
In a word, my sisters, I will end by saying that we must not build towers without foundations, and that the Lord  does not look so much at the magnitude of anything we do as at the love with which we do it.  If we accomplish what we can, His Majesty will see to it that we become able to do more each day.  We must not begin by growing weary; but during the whole of this short life, which for any one of you may be shorter than you think, we must offer the Lord whatever interior and exterior sacrifice we are able to give Him, and His Majesty will unite it with that which He offered to the Father for us upon the Cross, so that it may have the value won for it by our will, even though our actions in themselves may be trivial.
Read more about St. Teresa of Avila here.

Burgos, Spain:  The Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos, well-known for their beautiful Gregorian chant, are fairly near here.  You can learn about this order here.   Listen to their chant in the following:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy Birthday JPII!

Wow, where have I been today?  Thanks to a friend on Facebook I was reminded that today is Bl. JPII's birthday - he would have been 91 years old today.  So celebrate in honor of our dear Bl. John Paul the Great!

Lisieux and Mt. St. Michelle

Lisieux is the Carmelite home of St. Therese, one of the most popular saints of modern times.  St. Therese grew up at Les Buissonnets and entered Carmel at 15 years of age.  St. Therese is one of three women doctors of the Church and her spirituality of doing little things with great love has had a profound effect on many, including Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  Her Story of a Soul has been read by millions and continues to inspire today. Her relics can be venerated at Carmel in the Chapel and pilgrims can also see the statue of the Blessed Mother from which Therese saw Our Lady smile at her during a severe illness in her youth - after this occurence she was cured.  Students will visit the Carmelite convent, Les Buissonnets and the Basilica of St. Therese.

Mont-St.-Michelle does not seem to have much detailed information readily available regarding the appearance of St. Michael to the local bishop, St. Aubert, in the 8th century, but you can read some information here.  Mont-St.-Michelle is one of the most breath-taking sites and architecture around. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

St. Vincent de Paul and Sacre Coeur

Continuing through Paris people and places:

St. Vincent de Paul is quite popular- a vast number of parishes and of course the charitable organization, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, are named for him.  Rather than recount information here, I simply direct you here to read about him and his many incredible stories from his priesthood to his time as a slave to founding religious congregations to serving the poor, etc.  This man did a lot and just as his spiritual daughter, St. Catherine Laboure, he is also incorrupt. 

Also, check out this site to learn more about the Basilica of the Sacred Heart or Sacre Coeur built on Montmartre.

Monday, May 16, 2011

St. Thomas Aquinas and Handwriting 101

Next time your professors complain about your sloppy handwriting, show them this:

St. Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal

In one week many of our students will travel to France, Spain and Portugal where they will see many holy sites of pilgrimage, particularly sites of Marian apparitions and devotion. I thought this would be a good opportunity, therefore, to share information about the places and people they will be seeing, so each day this week I will try to post about a different place to which they will travel. 

Today's post is about St. Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal - a Marian apparition which occurred in the early 19th century in Paris, France:

St. Catherine Laboure was a Daughter of Charity, a religious community founded by St. Vincent de Paul.  St. Vincent actually appeared to St. Catherine in a dream when she was young basically hinting at the fact that she would someday enter the order.  Not long after she had entered, on July 18, 1830, St. Catherine was awakened by her guardian angel at 11:30pm and was told by him to go to the Chapel where the Blessed Virgin was waiting for her.  She followed the angel to the Chapel and after waiting for a while the Blessed Virgin appeared to her and spoke to her of the suffering that would occur in France (which turned out to be the French Revolution).  She told her to be confident and not afraid and that she would be with her.  After two hours St. Catherine returned to her cell. 

In November, Our Lady appeared to Catherine holding a gold globe of which she said represented the world and in particular France and each individual soul.  Rays emitted from rings and she said these represented the graces given to souls who ask for them.  Rings from which rays did not emit were graces for which souls failed to ask.  She then told Catherine to have a medal struck of the image she was seeing which was Our Lady with her hands extended, rays emitting from her hands, Our Lady standing on a globe crushing a serpent under her foot and the words, "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." encircling her. On the back would be the letter 'M' with a cross and a bar, with the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts underneath. Our Lady said that many graces would be given to those who wore the medal around the neck with confidence.  Later on, thousands of medals were struck by order of the Archbishop and many who were suffering sickness during an epidemic were healed.  St. Catherine did not reveal that she had been the sister to whom the visions were granted for many years.  Her body remains incorrupt and can be seen under the altar where Our Lady appeared to her 181 years ago. 

For more detailed descriptions of the apparitions from which the above was derived and pictures of St. Catherine visit the following:
Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal - Paris, France
Shrine of the Miraculous Medal - Perryville, MO
Story of the Apparitions - Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary

Friday, May 13, 2011

Unique Day in History

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima - 94 years ago at the Cova da Iria near Fatima, Portugal, Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children - Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta - beginning a story that continues to fascinate and inspire to this day.  You can read information about the apparitions here and here.
Also in connection with Our Lady of Fatima, thirty years ago today Bl. John Paul the Great was shot in St. Peter's Square.  JPII attributed his survival to Our Lady saying that it was a mother's hand that guided the bullet. The bullet was placed in the crown of the statue of Our Lady at the Shrine in Fatima. 
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Bl. John Paul the Great, pray for us.

Attend Church Teaches Forum with CCM

If you would like to attend the Church Teaches Forum in Louisville, KY July 15-16 with CCM please email Kristen here.  Speakers include Raymond Cardinal Burke, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Fr. Roger Arnsparger, and Bishop Daniel Thomas. 


I. Love. Being. Catholic.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Happy Summer!

Summer break has basically officially started for students.  Summer is both a relief and a challenge, so to help you make this summer a good one, I refer you to one of our very first posts from last year: Five Tips on Having a Great Summer. 
If there is one thing you do this summer let it be to grow in holiness!  The world needs the witness of saints and God is calling you to be one!
And, of course, don't forget to continue checking out the blog regularly!
For those of you who are graduating - may God be with you in this next stage of your life and be sure to stay in touch with us at CCM!
For those who have gone home for the summer - enjoy your break and we'll see you soon in the fall!
For those who will still be in town for the summer - yea! Summer's around here are quiet so I'm glad some of you will still be in town - be sure to join in our summer 'Love and Responsibility' study (time and location TBD). 
We'll be praying for all of you!  May you all have a blessed and relaxing summer break!

You can jam to this as you finish your last final:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bl. JPII the Great - Man of Hope

Pope Benedict's homily on Sunday for JPII's beatification was awesome - click here to read it.  I just want to briefly offer some reflections on his homily and on the life of Bl. John Paul II from my own experience:

As many of you know, I have a deep love for Bl. JPII the Great.  But why?  The short answer is that I wouldn't be who I am if JPII had not opened wide the doors of his heart to God's grace and shared it with the world.  He has been a spiritual father to me in a profound way.  Millions of people throughout the world feel the same way - he wasn't just a public world figure for us - he was really our 'papa'.  When I think of JPII I find the communion of saints to be incredibly tangible because I never once met him or saw him in person, and yet I feel as though he is near me with the guiding hand of a father telling me not to be afraid to follow Christ. 

In Bl. John Paul II we see that by God's grace it really is possible for one man to change the world.  Because of his fiat to God, he affected change on the world stage, such as the role he played in the fall of Communism, etc; but through his witness God has changed the world of individual hearts.  There are estimates that over 1-2 million people were at the beatification this weekend - but that only scratches the surface of the lives he affected.  How many people could not be in Rome but have been changed by his witness, writings and preaching?  Bl. John Paul II the Great is absolute proof that when we offer ourselves totally to the service of the Lord, God will produce abundant fruit. 

Bl. JPII finally held us to a higher standard - he knew that only in Christ can we find true happiness and when he looked at the world he saw it wallowing in mediocrity - degrading itself into something ugly and despairing.  His was a voice that called us to something greater - reminding us of who God made us to be - that we are made to be beautiful and holy - that hope must not die and in Christ we can have the abundant life for which we are searching.  Echoing the very words of Christ from the Gospels, he reminded us not to be afraid to follow Jesus, to take up our crosses and embark on this journey and adventure of life in the Spirit. 

The Church gives us saints and blesseds as examples to follow in being disciples of Jesus. Let us not miss this opportunity to learn from Bl. JPII how to make a sincere gift of our lives to Christ and others, how to suffer well for the salvation of souls, how to uphold the dignity of all human life and put simply - how to love.
By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty. To put it even more succinctly: he gave us the strength to believe in Christ, because Christ is Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of man....My own service was sustained by his spiritual depth and by the richness of his insights. His example of prayer continually impressed and edified me: he remained deeply united to God even amid the many demands of his ministry. Then too, there was his witness in suffering: the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, yet he remained ever a “rock”, as Christ desired. His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to continue to lead the Church and to give to the world a message which became all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined. In this way he lived out in an extraordinary way the vocation of every priest and bishop to become completely one with Jesus, whom he daily receives and offers in the Church.  Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, because you believed! Continue, we implore you, to sustain from heaven the faith of God’s people.
As this quote from Pope Benedict's homily suggests, Bl. JPII the Great truly took on the role that Christ offered him in being Peter, rock, to us for so many years.  Through the intercession of Bl. Pope John Paul the Great and our Blessed Mother, Queen of Heaven, may we grow in holiness and become who we are - sons and daughters of the King.  Totus Tuus Maria.

Blessed Pope John Paul II the Great, pray for us!

Divine Mercy Sunday was a very blessed day indeed as our beloved Pope John Paul II the Great was declared "Blessed" in St. Peter's Square at the 10am Mass.  I've heard different numbers regarding how many pilgrims were in attendance but I keep hearing between 1 and 2 million people - either way that's a lot!  Now pray through his intercession for another miracle so he can be canonized!  :)

Below is a video showing the moment when Pope Benedict read the decree beatifying Bl. John Paul II the Great, the unveiling of his image, and finally the presentation of the relic which was a vile of JPII's blood drawn before his death in case he needed a transfusion.  If you watch the video you'll see a sister in black carry the relic to Pope Benedict - her name is Sr. Tobiana who helped to care for Bl. John Paul during his pontificate; the sister in white who carried the vile from Pope Benedict to the place of veneration was Sr. Marie Simon-Pierre who was miraculously cured of Parkinson's disease after praying through the intercession of Bl. John Paul - this was the miracle that allowed the beatification to move ahead.