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Friday, May 30, 2008

The Visitation - Feast Day May 31

Mary visited Elizabeth because the Angel Gabriel told her Elizabeth was with child. Elizabeth needed Mary and she responded to that need. Mother Mary has been responding to our needs for 2000 years. Do we, as Elizabeth, before us, accept the love and compassion of our Lady? Do we recognize her and revere her as the Mother of God? Do we defend her when she is maligned? Is she our Mother? In Guadalupe, she said: "Am I not here who am your Mother?" Well, is she our Mother? Do we share her with those who do not know who she is? Or are we afraid of what they will think? Are we more polite than holy?
The next words, we hear in Holy Scripture, are a confirmation of the Angel's words to Mary, "Blest is she who trusted that the Lord's words to her would be fulfilled." Elizabeth confirmed, the Son of God was present in Mary's womb. Everything the Angel had told Mary had come to pass. Elizabeth knew all about it. Mary's soul soared to the heights of Heaven. She was filled beyond the boundaries of humanity. Her face flushed; her eyes beamed. Every part of her body was raised heavenward. She proclaimed her Magnificat. We are gifted to see the full blown image of Mary, filled with the Holy Spirit, as she proclaims in words, what has been in her heart, bursting to come out. With Mary, we proclaim her Magnificat:
"My soul magnifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
For He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
Behold, henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed;
For He who is Mighty has done great things for me,
and Holy is His Name;
His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His Arm,
He has scattered the proud in the deceit of their heart,
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has received Israel, His servant,
being mindful of His mercy.
Even as He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever."
We can visualize the Angels surrounding Mary, their Queen, as she made her pronouncement, guarding her, hugging her with their wings, loving her. If we look with the eyes of the heart and not the head, we can experience the power and joy of the Holy Spirit encompassing the entire room. Did Mary turn to Elizabeth? Were their eyes filled with tears of joy? Did they embrace each other, knowingly? Did choirs of Angels sing praises to God, with this proclamation of Mary, Daughter of the Father, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and Mother of the Savior of the world?
In Mary's Magnificat, we see an explosion of total acceptance of the powerful role the Lord is playing in her life, not only for her, but for all mankind. Most likely, these things had been building up in her mind and heart from the time the Angel came to her. But when Elizabeth affirmed what only Mary had known until that time, it had to come out. She couldn't hold it in any longer. She had to put to words, what was burning inside her. Her Magnificat was a Canticle of Thanksgiving. There was wisdom in every word she spoke, a wisdom only God could have given her. She acknowledged that God and His Gifts to her.Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months. Roles were reversed. The Mary that Elizabeth had known was the child of her sister Anne's old age. They were generations apart. Elizabeth could have been Mary's mother many times over. Mary had been the child consecrated to the Temple. But the minute Elizabeth saw her, she knew this was no longer a child, but a woman specially blessed. Elizabeth wanted to wait on Mary. But Mary had come for a purpose, to serve her cousin. It reminds us of Jesus, washing the feet of His disciples at the Last Supper. He was the Master; but He insisted on serving. Like Jesus, Mary set the example.
"Pray the Rosary."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sacred Heart of Jesus Feast Friday May 30

Margaret Mary receives the First Great Revelation

When Our Lord spoke to Margaret Mary through “interior locutions,” He would bid her to ponder (as Mother Mary before her) on the Wound in His Side. Although all His Wounds brought deep sorrow to Margaret Mary, it was this Wound, this wounded Heart, pierced by Longinus’7 sword which caused her the greatest pain. I wonder if this was not the greatest Wound, the greatest hurt Our Lord suffered, not so much from the sword (as He was already dead) but the pain to His Heart through the rejection of His children. [It reminds us of the time, Our Lord appeared to John of the Woods in Bois Signeur Isaac, His Body covered with welts, bruises, and open bleeding cuts. “(His) Eyes pierced (Lord Isaac’s) eyes... Finally He spoke, “Look how they have mistreated Me.”8] When Our Lord Jesus showed His Precious Heart, pierced out of love for us, was He preparing Margaret Mary for His mandate: “Tell My children they can soothe My Wounded Heart, through renewed devotion to My Sacred Heart?” Although devotion to the Sacred Heart was not new to the Church, existing in some form or another, many Saints meditating on Our Lord’s Sacred Heart, the Lord chose Margaret Mary to promote this devotion in a way which would touch the hearts of all the faithful. He desired, it become an official devotion throughout His Church, throughout the world, for all time in memoriam.Up until this time Our Lord had made His will and presence known to Margaret Mary interiorly, but that was to change December 27, 1673. Margaret Mary was twenty-six years old. She had been professed for almost fourteen months. Her job in the Infirmary brought her nothing but rejection, insults and adversity. Her only solace was on her knees, her body pressed against the grill, as close to the Blessed Sacrament as she could get. She found herself enveloped by Our Lord’s heavenly presence. “He opened His Heart” to her “for the first time.” He said,“My Divine Heart so passionately loves all men and you in particular that, no longer able to contain the flame of its burning charity (love), it has to pour forth through you, and it must manifest itself to them, to enrich them with its precious treasures, which I am revealing to you, and which contains the sanctifying and salutary graces necessary to snatch them away from the abyss of perdition (sin). And I have chosen you as an abyss of unworthiness and ignorance for the fulfillment of this great plan, so that everything may be accomplished by Me alone.”“After that, He asked me to give Him my heart, which I begged Him to take, and this He did. He placed it within His own adorable Heart, in which He made me see my heart as a tiny atom being consumed in this flaming furnace, and then, drawing it out like an intense flame in the form of a heart, He put it back where he had taken it, saying to me: ‘Beloved, here is a precious pledge of My Love, which implants in your side a tiny spark of its most intense flames, so as to serve as your heart and consume you until the last moment;....its intensity will not die out or find refreshment except to a small degree in bloodletting,9 which I shall mark so completely with the Blood of My Cross, will bring you more humiliation and suffering than relief. That is why I want (you) to practice what is commanded of you by the rule, so as to give you the consolation of shedding your blood on the cross of humiliations. Although I have closed the wound in your side, you will feel the pain of it forever, and although you have taken only the name of My slave, I now call you the beloved disciple of My Sacred Heart.’”With this revelation of her future mission, Jesus made it plain to Margaret Mary that He had chosen her, but to save her from any slight possibility of pride in Him having chosen her, He revealed she was totally unworthy and ignorant. We hear again the message of Saint Bernadette when she said if the Blessed Mother could have found someone less worthy and more stupid, she would have chosen her instead of Bernadette.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

St. Joan of Arc - Feast day May 30

The Angels and Saints Speak to St. Joan
Her years of joy were short-lived. At age twelve, her famous voices began speaking to her. They were always accompanied by a brilliant flash of light, and came at the precise time the sexton[1] rang the church bells. At first, there was only one voice. When he spoke to her the third time, she realized he was St. Michael the Archangel. At this time, she also had an apparition of St. Michael, accompanied by other Angels. When it happened, she thought her heart would burst. Here, in front of her was the Prince of the Angels, he who defeated Lucifer and his rebellious angels, throwing them down to the pits of hell. During this time in history, the Middle Ages, St. Michael was one of the most revered Saints, held in high esteem, especially by royalty, nobility and the military. For Joan, this was a great honor.
At first, the Angel just gave her instructions on how to live a good Christian life, go to Church often, and obey her parents. These were good instructions, but to be honest, she was already practicing these virtues. However, a time came when St. Michael advised her she would be visited by St. Margaret of Antioch, and St. Catherine of Alexandria, part of an elite group of Martyrs, called the Fourteen Holy Helpers, known for their powerful intercession during the Middle Ages. When they came, they were beautiful. They were majestic. They wore crowns on their heads. Joan became very comfortable with her holy visitors, especially St. Michael, to whom she and much of the world of the Middle Ages had a great devotion.
Joan was bewildered when the messages took on a different tone. She was told "Daughter of God, you must leave your village and go to France."[2] She was told to save France from the English. She replied that she was only a young girl, who knew nothing about fighting. She was very confused. This was all beyond her. Think about it, though. We're talking about a teenager here. Granted, she was much more spiritual than most adults of her time. But she was being told things that most adults would have a major problem accepting. Given the same set of circumstances, I don't know anyone who wouldn't be completely bowled over by the proposition set before this young girl by the Angel, St. Margaret of Antioch and St. Catherine of Alexandria.
She knew they were sincere. She trusted, especially in St. Michael. She knew he would not allow the evil one to deceive her. But she was very disconcerted. As the years progressed, the messages became more specific, more demanding. She would save France from defeat at the hands of the English. This continued until she was sixteen years old. Her voices would give her no peace. Then, one day in May, 1428, she was given a direct command by St. Michael to go to Vaucouleurs to a Robert de Baudricourt and tell him he should give her troops so that she could go to the Dauphin, who was the legitimate heir to the throne of France.
[1]one who takes care of church property
[2]At that time, Domremy may have been part of Lorraine, the Holy Roman Empire, or Burgundy.
For more information on St. Joan of Arc and our Book "Saints Maligned Misunderstood and Mistreated" click here

Monday, May 26, 2008

Saint Philip Neri Feastday May 26

Apostle of the Laity, Philip begins to evangelize
Being of the Laity and never feeling worthy to be a priest, Philip Neri desired nothing but to serve as a lay man. He had been preaching in the hospitals, then on the street corners waiting for the office workers to leave for lunch or home. He would speak to them, instruct them with the true teachings of the Church. He taught with such love, such fire that more and more came, and stayed longer and longer, until they began following him, visiting the poor and the infirmed; and the Confraternity of the Laity was formed! The Confraternity was not only filled with these young people, now on fire for the Faith, but with the nobility.
The Apostolate took on the care of poor pilgrims coming to Rome for the Holy Year. Since most of them arrived sick, tired, without much to eat, having walked hundreds of miles under the worst conditions, they had need not only of a place to stay, but often a hospital. St. Philip and his Confraternity set up the first pilgrims' houses in Rome, where they could stay a short time, convalesce or receive more intensive hospital care.
The time came for Philip Neri to become Father Philip Neri. His confessor convinced him he could do more good fighting the heresies and paganism destroying the very fiber of our Church and the Mystical Body of Christ, as a priest. He obeyed! He was ordained at thirty-six. His first Mass, he became so overcome with emotion, shaking almost uncontrollably, he could barely pour the wine and water into the chalice. At the moment of Consecration, when he elevated the Host, he had to lean against the altar for support, as he feared he would fall over if he did not brace himself. This would repeat itself at every Mass he said.
He was never too sick to celebrate the ongoing Sacrifice of the Cross every day. He united himself so deeply with the Lord, His last hours on the Cross, that at the moment of elevation, he would levitate, suspended over the altar for more than two hours. For this reason, toward the end of his life, in order to not attract attention to himself, rather than to the Mass and what is truly happening on the altar, he celebrated Mass privately in a little chapel adjacent to his room. His first biographer said he came upon St. Philip many times, elevated as high as six feet from the floor while saying the Mass.
One day, during the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass, as he was supplicating Jesus to give him the gift of patience, he heard an inner voice say, "You'll have it; the road to Heaven is through the Cross." The Lord was to soon show him the meaning behind his words! Father Philip Neri went to live in the Church of San Geròlamo[1] where he was persecuted by two bishops who inflicted the cruelest insults upon him, accusing him of deserting his family and the responsibilities connected with his former title and birthright. He bore it all with humility and patience.
He continued to preach, but now not only from the pulpit but from the confessional. During the forty hour devotions, which he loved, he preached so passionately about the God-Man Jesus Who was alive in the Monstrance that one day there were thirty conversions, young men who had come to church to ridicule Father Neri and disrupt the Mass, but after hearing him, converted and asked to go to confession. More and more people returned to the Sacraments after many years away from the Church. He began teaching in his private chamber; from this, more and more came, and before you know it the Congregation of the Oratory was formed. Philip Neri was thirty seven years old.
The Church is under siege, and the heretics are attacking the very lifeline of the Church, the Sacraments. How does St. Philip Neri respond to this abuse? He begins to preach on the necessity of receiving the Sacraments: The Sacrament of Baptism soon after the birth of a child; The Sacrament of Confirmation, the final initiation into the Church - the Sacrament which calls us to become Soldiers of Christ; The Sacrament of Extreme Unction,[2] the merciful last kiss of the Church; The Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion and the need of frequent reception of these Sacraments to be strong; the awesome sanctity of The Sacrament of Holy Orders; and the sacred union between husband and wife and Jesus the day they are united under the Sacrament of Matrimony.
His sermons attracted so many to the Sacraments, he often had to hear confessions into the wee hours of the night, sometimes ending with the rising of the morning sun. But he was so happy! Never too tired, he would wash his face, maybe catch a couple of hours of sleep and off he would go to the confessional to hear more hearts cleansed of their sins returning to Jesus. Philip Neri had all the gifts; one of which was the ability to read men's hearts. When a penitent needed help making a good examination of conscience, and was struggling during confession, Philip Neri would reveal the penitent's most hidden, innermost sins, and with that helped the penitent to make a good confession.
Philip Neri heard the call to go to India as a missionary. He immediately asked to go. The answer was: "Your India is Rome; it is to the Romans you are to bring the Word of God." Although disappointed, he obeyed!
Philip Neri went after heretics with love but also firmness. No heretic was safe around him; the hardest hearts were softened and accepted Mother Church as the one True Church. There was a heretic who was awaiting being burned at the stake, as this was the punishment for heresy by the state, at this time. Nothing or no one could persuade him to renounce his errors and ask pardon of Mother Church. He obstinately refused all pleas made to him to save his life and immortal soul. He would hear nothing of it. Enter St. Philip! After he spoke to him gently and lovingly, the heretic repented, retracted publicly his errors and asked pardon of the Church; as a consequence he was saved from death.
Saint Philip Neri goes after the devil and his works
St. Philip Neri expelled demons! As Persiano Rosa, his confessor was dying, he was attacked by the devil who appeared in the form of a black dog. As soon as Philip Neri entered the room, Rosa asked him to pray for him. No sooner had Philip Neri knelt and begun praying, than the prince of hell fled, howling in anger and mortification.
The Carnival and its perversion enveloped and swallowed much of Rome's society, the rich and the poor united in its debauchery. Philip Neri came up with a solution: He instituted the visitation of the seven churches of Rome, to be done during the Carnival. First members of the Confraternity processed; then others joined, first out of curiosity and then desire. As holiness is eternally beautiful, and evil everlastingly ugly, the young, tired of the depravity of the Carnival, were attracted by the solemnity of the procession and processors; soon more and more joined the holy parade to the seven churches.
Like Jesus, Father Philip Neri was always calling God's creatures to be as He had designed them to be, not as the world had refashioned them. He asked Fiora[3] and some other penitents to take in orphans, clean them up, feed them and teach them how to live holy lives in the world.
Charity toward all, his heart bled most for the poor and the sick. One day, as he and one of his Confraternity were passing by the Coliseum, he came upon a person lying in the street, more dead than alive. The man called out, "Do I revolt you?" Father Philip Neri's response was to ask his spiritual son to lift the man and bring him to their hospital.[4]
[1]Italian for St. Jerome
[2]Last Rights or Sacrament of the Sick
[3]means flower in Italian
[4]the one they had set up for just this purpose
For more information on St. Philip Neri and other Defenders of the Faith Click here

Friday, May 23, 2008

Feast of Corpus Christi

This Is My Body, This Is My Blood; Miracles of the Eucharist
Our #1 Best Selling Video/DVD of all time


Filmed in Italy at the Shrines of Lanciano - Bolsena/Orvieto - Siena - Cascia
Four Miracles of the Eucharist approved by the Church and Science

The oldest recorded Miracle of the Eucharist in the History of the ChurchSee the Host Which changed into a Human Heart and the Wine Which changed into Human Blood - The Miracle is still there for you to venerate.

God took people from four parts of Europe, brought them together to give us a Miracle of the Eucharist in Bolsena/Orvieto which brought about the Feast of Corpus Christi from which we have received the hymns by St. Thomas Aquinas Salutaris and Tantum Ergo

God comes to the aid of a priest who has lost his love for the EucharistSee the pages of the Breviary which bled and formed the Face of Christ on the page where the Host had bled

The Lord proves without a doubt the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist in Hosts which we receive at every Mass.
See the incorrupt Hosts, in their original state after 276 years
Translated into many languages, and shown world-wide.
Special messages by Mother Angelica of EWTN and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

This documentary has been shown at major Marian - Eucharistic Conferences, in churches, to prayer groups, CCD classes, on Cursillo weekends, on Retreats, at Cenacles of Marian Movement of Priests, to foster Eucharistic Adoration, and more.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Goodnewsletter articles May 2008

We have included below some of the articles from our curren May Issue of Our Good Newsletter
Hello again, sweetfamily!
We are so excited!
The Lord has been working powerfully in our ministry and in our lives! It’s not logical; it’s super logical; it’s Divine! It’s getting to be that time again, when politicians are making promises they cannot, or will not keep. Our faith is in the Lord and His willingness to listen to His Mother and the Saints who earned a place in Heaven, with Him! So although we get discouraged by what we hear and see, we trust in the Lord and His Love for us! We live by that wise and holy saying, “What would Jesus do?”We trust in Him! Things are happening in our ministry that is beyond explanation! Brother Joseph had an idea! He sharedit with us and we said “O.K. go with it!” He put the internet towork for us! He listed our books and DVDs and the response grew and grew! Then he had another inspiration! Write a blog for the internet sharing our knowledge of the Eucharist, Mother Mary, the Angels and the Saints. We said Yes! And the response has been rewarding!
So again, we shout from the mountain tops,Trust in the Lord! He loves you! He is with you!
Happy Birthday Mother Angelica!
For the weekend of April 20, we went to EWTN and the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, to visit and celebrate with Mother Angelica,her 85th birthday. We were smart enough to go to Hanceville on Saturday; the day before the big event, so that we would hopefully be able to spend some quality time with Mother, and give her the presents we brought her for her birthday. She has a great love for St.Gemma Galgani, so we brought her a statue of St. Gemma, which we brought back from here Shrine in Italy, as well as a DVD on St. Gemma's life. We also gave Mother our book, Visionaries,Mystics and Stigmatists, which has a chapter on St. Gemma.Mother looked great. Look at the photo Sr. Margaret Mary took of us with Mother at the parlor.As we predicted, the next day was a mob scene, with somany people wanting to wish Mother happy birthday, andbring cards and gifts and flowers. The Nuns had a special breakfast for her. The Knights had to have time with her.Other friends and benefactors were there. So we just bided our time until it was all over, and then we got to see her one more time. However, you can imagine she was exhausted by this time. So we took the photo you see on this page, and bid her farewell until the next time, which we hope will be this summer.We trust in the Lord and His Love for us! Now, don’t get the wrong impression. We don’t get to see Mother whenever we want. When we go there, it has to be in faith. It’s a hit and miss situation. If she’s feeling well, we get to see her. If she’s not, we wait and wait, and sometimes have to leave without having seen her. Of course, we do get to spend quality time before the Blessed Sacrament, and see a lot of friends that we’ve known for years. But seeing Mother is never a definite.
Our Bags are Packed – Our Cameras are Ready We’re on our Way!
Thank You, Jesus, we’re on the road again. Our Super Saintsseries is so popular, we’re continuing to make more programs.We’ve had many requests over the years to make a program on Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Prior to the beginning of our September Pilgrimage to Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, Bob and Penny, along withour camera woman, will go to Northern Italy, where we will meet with Wanda Gawronska, niece of a truly precious and important role model of the young Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, or as Pope John Paul II called him, when he beatified him, “A Man of the Beatitudes. Pope John Paul II said Blessed Pier Giorgio had been his hero from his youngest days. With Wanda’s generous assistance, we will tape where he lived and evangelized, serving the poor, leaving nothing for himself, even to the end of his short twenty four years on earth. We will take you to his shrine in Turin – and then to the family homestead up a mountain in Pollone, a sharp contrast to the impoverished area where he felt most comfortable.His story is a profound invitation to the young to become Saints. His selfless short life was devoted to serving God byselflessly serving the poor. Much maligned and unappreciatedby those closest to him, he labored tirelessly until withoutan ounce more of life to give, gave up his spirit at the tenderage of twenty four to the Angel of Death. He died as helived, thinking of others to his last breath, a glorious death a testimony to all he believed in.
Saint Lucy
When we were in Siracusa, Sicily last year, making the program on Our Lady of Tears, we began to make a programon St. Lucy, there at her shrine in Siracusa, only to find thather body is in the Church of St. Jeremiah in Venice. So weare setting out to complete taping the life of Saint Lucy, early Christian Martyr, listed in the Roman Martyrology with St.Agatha, in Venice, where her incorrupt body is available tosee and venerate. As always we are so excited!
Saint Gaspar del Bufalo
After we have taped St. Lucy, we will drive to Rome, wherewe will tape the life of Saint Gaspar del Bufalo—Priestand Founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. Hisministry was to the poor and they loved him. Napoleon andhis cohorts knew this was an important man to have on theirside if they were to peacefully extract taxes and rule theRomans. St. Gaspar was summoned to appear before oneof Napoleon’s Generals, the action being to convince him toswear allegiance to Napoleon. All the General’s promisesor threats could not convince Gaspar to swear allegiance toNapoleon, as Pope Pius VII had forbidden it. After much threatening and cajoling, Gaspar’s famous last response was“Non posso, non debbo, non voglio.” (I cannot, I ought not,I will not). That cost him banishment at first and when thatdidn’t persuade him, and he kept coming back to Rome, makingtrouble for the French, imprisonment in the most putrid, acrid smelling dungeons. However, St. Gaspar outlasted Napoleon.After Napoleon’s fall from power, Saint Gaspar returned toRome and his ministry. His story is exciting and meaningfulespecially in these days.I cannot, I ought not, I will not.
Celebration of 50 Glorious Years
While in Rome, we will have a solemn celebration of our50th wedding anniversary and renew our vows. Our dearfriend, from our days in Southern California, William CardinalLevada, who celebrated our 25th Anniversary in WestlakeVillage, California, will celebrate our 50th Anniversary inRome. Our actual anniversary falls on December 21st, butthe Cardinal has graciously consented to celebrate our Mass in Rome on August 31st.
Our dear friend and former driver, AldoBulletta, from Rome, is also celebrating his 50th Anniversarythis year, and so he will join us for this momentous occasion.
After all of that, we will pick up our group at the Rome airportand begin our pilgrimage.
What a schedule!!

News from the Pilgrimage Front
Again we shout, “We are so excited!!”
September 1st weare leading one of our favorite Pilgrimages to Italy, France,Spain and Portugal! If, when you read this column, the Lordis speaking to your hearts to join us, there are a few spacesavailable; and we would so love to have you with us!This trip will have a double purpose: a Pilgrimage honoring“The Many Faces of Mary” Our Lady’s apparitions, to theHoly House of Loreto, Our Lady of Lourdes, and Our Lady ofFatima. This is a very special year in Lourdes. We celebrate the150th anniversary of Our Lady’s Apparition to St. BernadetteSoubirous. People from all over the world are taking this opportunityto go to Lourdes for this special year. We have many petitions we bring with us to Lourdes. Our Lady has never beenoutdone in generosity.Of course, the pilgrimage will begin in Rome with an audienceand a powerful teaching from our beloved Pope BenedictXVI. We will take time to visit the shrine of Blessed Anna MariaTaigi and celebrate Mass there with our own Marian PriestFather Carter. During the sixteen days of our Pilgrimage, we will visit the Shrines of Rome, visit and venerate St. Francis andSt. Clare of Assisi, St. Clare of Montefalco, the Miracle of theEucharist of Lanciano, the Holy House of Loreto, St. Catherineof Siena, St. Gemma Galgani, St. Catherine of Genoa, the Infantof Prague in Arenzano; on the way to Lourdes, we will visitthe medieval walled city of Carcassonne; in Spain, we willvisit the castle of Loyola where St. Ignatius lived and had hisconversion; we will visit St. Teresa of Avila and her home, St.John of the Cross, adding the lives of the Saints as we travelto Fatima and Our Lady. It is a powerful pilgrimage.In October, when we are on Pilgrimage to Catholic Italyand Ancient Sicily, we, and our pilgrims, will have the distincthonor of viewing the body of Saint (Padre) Pio, or as weaffectionately call him Padre Pio. This is the first time histomb has been opened since 1968, when Padre Pio died.We have reserved tickets. Please sign up now, as wehave limited space available! Don’t miss out on this once ina lifetime experience! We want you with us! We’re lookingforward to venerating Padre Pio in the flesh. He has playeda strong and important role in our spiritual life. Although wenever saw him when he was alive, he continues to play an integralrole in our ministry, and in our mission. Padre Pio diedon September 23rd, the anniversary of Penny’s birth and theanniversary of the day we met. We have our yearly SeptemberConference on the weekend of his anniversary or a day or solater, if his anniversary falls during the week. Padre Pio saidhe would pray every day for his spiritual children on earthand in Heaven. What better gift could you give yourself andyour loved ones than to make this spiritual pilgrimage!In addition to visiting the Shrine of Padre Pio, we will havean audience and a powerful teaching from our beloved PopeBenedict XVI., visit the Shrines of Rome, visit and venerateSt. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi, St. Clare of Montefalco,the Miracle of the Eucharist of Lanciano, Loreto, the Cave of St. Michael, St. Gerard Majella,
and in Sicily, Our Ladyof the Tears, Our Lady of Pompeii, St. Agatha of Catania,and St. Rosalia of Palermo and San Stefano Quisquina.
We will also visit the ruins of Siracusa, the Greek temples ofAgrigento, and Palermo and the Shrine of St. Lucy.We’re looking forward to bringing these Saints to you,(and for those who can join us, bring you to them on pilgrimage)to listen to what they and the Holy Spirit have to say.We pray you will embrace them and be moved to have thecourage to be more for the Lord and His Church, the Church that flowed from His Side on Calvary. Both these pilgrimages are chock full of Spiritual gifts. Don’t miss out on them.
We love you…

It is exciting to see our Lord work.
This week a young man called andstated he wanted to purchase several dvds but was going to wait since he was doubtful about his financial situation. I responded back to him telling himabout the two events that have formed myself and this ministry into what ithas become. First, when I was still working as Holy Family Mission
Chemical Engineer in a paper mill, I saw the movie Patton.This occurred during the time in my life that I was discerningwhat the Lord wanted me to do with the rest of my life. Inthe movie there is a scene where General Patton states, "Thegreatest war of all time is happening and I am going to missit." That rang a harmonic note in my soul since I felt the greatestspiritual war of all time was happening and I was going to missit. Shortly, thereafter I left that Paper Mill and joined Journeysof Faith as a lay brother.
Second, Bob, Penny, Luz and myself were watchingSchindlers list and we were moved by the statement towardsthe end of the show where Schindler said, "If only I had moremoney, I could have ransomed more people from the Holocaust."This rang a note in our collective souls and we noted that we arenot about storing up treasure, but using money to bring peopleto Christ. We say many times during any given period, if onlywe had the funds to do this, we could reach more people.I shared with the young man (through email) these two eventsand he replied right away, "Forget the financial worries, Buildthe Kingdom!" Needless to say he ordered the desired dvds.
"Forget the financial worries,Build the Kingdom!"
We thought that statement was beautiful, especially in lightof the current economic situation and concern over rising prices at all levels. Maybe the Lord is asking us to step out in faith and press forward to reach more people.I also want to share some recent happenings here at HolyFamily Mission.
We have just started to release Mini-books.These are small mini-books from 25 to 50 pages on thelives of the Saints. See the order form for the current availablelistings. We are especially excited about the mini-books ont he Popes.
For those of you with internet service, you may want togo to our web site and select Boband Penny Lord's Blog on the left side of the page. This blog is an ongoing file that contains information about the lives ofthe Saints for that period and other information that is timelyand concerning to you our supporters. Since it is a blog it has the features of sending comments and linking to your Internet Explorer. You can subscribre free. For more information onthese features simply go to our website.
Our philosophy is to use the means the Lord has allowedto be created to evangelize, like books, Television, videos,dvds, cds, the Internet, Pilgrimages and whatever else comesalong in the future. We believe that the Lord wanted these tobe great tools of evangelization and we want to use them forHis purposes.Please continue to pray for us as we promise to keep youin our prayers.
Finally, this spring, we planted several trees around theMission. The transplanted fig trees are doing great and theroses have a new lease on life now that the roots of the fig trees are not choking them.The purple martins are back in town eating all the mosquitos and we have several new families of barn swallows living under the eaves of the buildings here. In addition this spring we were visited by throngs of yellow finches. This time of year the sky is full of singing birds and it is quite a sight to see the martins and swallows gliding and swooping at the bugs.
I am reminded of my theme song by Louis Armstong. "I see birds in the air....Brother Joseph

Annual ConferenceSept 26 - 28, 2008"
Am I Not Here,Who Am Your Mother?"
Mother Mary's Apparitions
Miraculous Medal
and more!
For more information on our Good Newsletter click here

For more information on our Pilgrimages for 2008 click here

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Saint Rita of Cascia - Feast Day May 22

During Lent of the year 1443, in Cascia, St. James of Marches, a great preacher of his day, gave a very personal, passionate sermon on our Lord to the Nuns. Rita was so taken by the sermon that she returned to the Monastery and began to pray, with all her heart and soul, before a fresco of Jesus crucified. As she humbly asked for a part of His suffering on the Cross, admitting that she was unworthy to share His full Passion on Calvary, a thorn fell from the Beloved Head of our Savior and pierced the forehead of St. Rita. She immediately began to bleed profusely, and the wound that kept bleeding has been accepted by all as the gift of the Stigmata of our Lord.
In the case of most holy people who have been graced with the Stigmata, like St. Francis of Assisi, and the saintly Padre Pio, the fragrance exuded from the holy wounds smells like a beautiful perfume from Heaven, more pleasing even than that of flowers. With the wound of St. Rita, came humiliation, estrangement and isolation. The wound had such a pungent, putrid odor emanating from it that she had to suffer the ostracism and rejection of her fellow Nuns who, at best, feared it might be infectious and, at worst, could not bear the smell. She spent the next fifteen years alone, suffering more and more excruciating physical pain. But although she was isolated from her Community in a small cell far away from any of the consoling companionship of other Nuns, she had the Consoler! Instead of looking toward herself and her pain, she focused on Jesus and His Crucified Head of thorns and all the thorns in her life were turned into roses of love by her Lord as she offered them to Him.
Here we have a perfect case of Redemptive Suffering. Stated simply, redemptive suffering goes like this. You have suffering which will not go away. For some reason, the Lord allows you to have it. You can't pray it away; you can't wish it away. You can become angry, and turn away from God, or you can offer it up to God for the souls in Purgatory, the conversion of sinners, or to relieve the suffering of someone here on earth.
We believe that Redemptive Suffering is a powerful offering to Our Lord. It's a way of taking a terrible negative, the pain inflicted on us by the suffering, and turning it into a great positive, by offering it to Our Lord Jesus. We believe that St. Rita used this unusual twist of not receiving the fragrance of Heaven that accompanies the Stigmata, to glorify Our Lord Jesus. She offered up to him the isolation caused by the putrid odor of her wound.
In 1450, Pope Nicholas V declared the first Holy Year, proclaiming Rome, once and for all, the center of the Christian world, and of our Faith. The popes had been away from Rome for sixty seven years. Our Lord wanted to unite His Church, to end the scandal of division and dissension caused by self-interest and resultant schism, so He inspired the pope to institute this Holy Year. And unite He did! All the Religious of Italy, as well as pilgrims from all over the world converged on Rome.

Saint Bernardine of Siena

Bernardine carries the symbol of Jesus
As Bernardine traveled, so did the Holy Name of Jesus. Everywhere he went, he persuaded the dignitaries of the different cities to take down the emblems of the warring factions from their buildings - their churches and palaces - and instead place on them the Holy Name of Jesus. And till today, you can see the initials IHS - the Holy Name of Jesus on all the buildings in Siena and Florence, just to mention a few.
This symbol became his vanguard, as he paved the way for devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His preaching on the Holy Name of Jesus was so potent and caught on so quickly, he was asked to speak in city after city. When he spoke, he held a plaque with the emblem of the Holy Name of Jesus on it, in front of him; and with the passion of He, Whom it represented, Bernardine moved the hearts of everyone in the audience to desire the emblem. Soon the emblem was clamored for, to place not only on the outside of buildings, churches and etc., but on homes.
Now, there was a craftsman, in Bologna, Italy, who painted playing cards. Bernardine's sermons against gambling caused him to lose his primary income. He was furious! But his anger soon turned to joy, as Bernardine persuaded him to paint the emblems IHS[1] on plaques. In place of his earlier pursuit of creating cards, that were instruments of temptation, he now was painting day after day, the emblem of the Holy Name of Jesus, consequently becoming an instrument, bringing the Lord's presence into the midst of a worldliness that would blot Him out. These powerful signs of hope and love spread and spread. And then because God is so generous to those who honor Him, with the huge demand for the plaques, the craftsman soon recouped his original assets and then some.
[1] The letters IHS form the monogram of His Holy Name; they are derived from the Greek six-letter word for Jesus, thus the first three letters are: Iota, Eta, Sigma, so the monogram should not be used with periods after the letters.
For more information about Saint Bernardine of Siena and our book, Saints Maligned, Misunderstood and Mistreated click here

Friday, May 16, 2008

Saint Leopold Mandic - Feastday May 12

Father Leopold, Apostle of the Confessional
When Leopold had dreamed of the priesthood, his eyes traveled over the Adriatic Sea to far-off lands to bring the Gospel of Hope to brothers and sisters starving and thirsting for this Lord Who died for them. He was not to even travel from village to village, like Father Francis and Saint Anthony (Saint of Padua), proclaiming the Good News. He was not even called to prepare others for this mission, by founding institutions or teaching in seminaries. Instead the Lord placed him in a tiny pulpit, a tiny room with no window to the outside world, with no air or light, freezing in the winter and sweltering in the summer.
Unlike the thrones of kings, this future Saint sat hours upon hours ministering to God's subjects in an old broken down chair that was as feeble as the body it held on its lap. A simple kneeler is still beside the rickety armchair, awaiting the contrite. Our Lord Crucified hanging on a wooden cross is above the prie-dieu,[1] a reminder of that God Who loved us so, He asked His Father, with His last words, to forgive us our sins. And then in this small cell looking down lovingly, on priest and penitent, there is a picture of Our Lady, the Mother of God who interceded at Cana and continues to intercede for Her children on earth with Her Beloved Son Jesus. As our Mother we can still see Her there, ready to help all seeking forgiveness, to reconcile with God the Father and Jesus Her Son.
In this tiny cell, for most of forty years, spending more than twelve hours of love per day, he waited and received thousands of penitents, streaming in without interruption, one after another to receive the Sacrament of Penance. Here there was no class distinction; the poor asked for forgiveness kneeling on the same prie-dieu as the rich; the famous turned to God for His Salvific Mercy, alongside the infamous; priests, bishops and religious confessed to Father Leopold (fifty priests the day before he died); professors lined up beside their students - all children of God seeking forgiveness.
The hardest hearts of stone were converted into hearts for Christ alone. Conversions came about through this little friar who was not eloquent, his voice at times hardly audible. His compassion transformed even those most hardened by years of unrepentant sinning; they began the long road to changing their lives, as they became convinced, through this humble messenger, that God loved them even when they were sinning. Upon discovering this unconditional love of the Lord, a love they had never known, true healing came about; they received the fullness of the compassionate gift of Reconciliation, and then the Life-eternal Gift of Our Lord truly Present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Oh, if only our priests would remember how great is the gift they have received, the gift of administering the Sacraments to the faithful! If only we, the Mystical Body of Christ, knew the priceless treasures Jesus left us, those Seven Sacraments we receive through the consecrated hands of these Ambassadors of Christ, then we truly would be one as Jesus prayed to the Father.[2]
[2]cf Jn 17:20-23
For more information on "Journey to Sainthood and St. Leopold Mandic click here."

Our Lady of Good Counsel

As soon as Giorgio awakened, he ran to tell his friend what Our Lady had instructed them to do. However, Our Lady had beat him to the punch. She had appeared to De Sclavis as well, and had given him the same instructions. The two prepared for their final journey, then returned to the church. They knelt in prayer. They were deep in prayer, alternately gazing at the beautiful image of Our Lady on the wall of the church, and then going back into prayer. All of a sudden, they saw the fresco detach itself from the wall. It was then surrounded by a white cloud; Angels positioned themselves all around her. The entire entourage began to move slowly out of the Church. The two soldiers followed, not really believing their eyes, but trusting in Our Lady.
They followed her slowly from the church through the town in the direction of the Adriatic Sea. Did anyone see them? We don't know. There's no mention of their coming in contact with anyone as they followed Our Lady on that nineteen mile trip to the sea. At last, they arrived at the shoreline of the Adriatic Sea. They had to wonder what was next, but again, they had complete trust in Our Lady. So they just continued to walk, right into the Adriatic Sea. They were not in a trance or anything of the kind. They knew they were walking into the water. They didn't know for sure what would happen, but they kept going. As with the Jews crossing the Red Sea, or Peter on the Sea of Tiberias, they were allowed to walk on the water. They looked down as they put one foot in front of the other. As each foot would touch the water, it stepped onto what became a small solid diamond, like slate, which held their weight. Then as that foot would raise up, the little diamond would disappear and another would form as the next foot touched the water. This continued all the way from Albania to Italy, a distance of just over 190 miles, coast to coast. There's no mention of how long it took for the journey to Italy. An interesting point to note is that all the while they were walking over the sea, they had the sun during the day to guide them, and the moon and stars at night. They never felt cold at night, or hot during the day. They never tired, although this trip had to take days, at least. They never felt hungry or thirsty, for the entire time they were following Our Lady. After they arrived on land in Italy, the journey continued on land in the direction of Rome. At a given point, the soldiers could see the towers of the churches of Rome. They were sure that this was where Our Lady wanted to go. But she was full of surprises. At a given point, just when they ventured near the gates of the city of Rome, the image of Our Lady, with the cloud and the Angels, disappeared. She was gone. They were shocked. This was the only reason they were here. What would they do now? Now they found that they were exhausted, in need of sleep, and famished. They realized they had not eaten in days. They went in search of food and shelter.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Our Lady of Ocotlan

Finally convinced it was miraculous, and it was the wish of the Lord that this image of His Mother be placed in an alcove of honor, above the Altar of Sacrifice, he ran to the Friars and the Custodian and confessed what he had done, not so much out of fear what they would do, but fear of retribution from Above!
Till today, more than four hundred and sixty-two years later, the image of Our Lady is still being venerated by the faithful of Tlaxcala, and those pilgrims, like yourself who read about Her. She originally was known as "Nuestra Señora de Ocotlatía," which translates into Our Lady of the Burning Ocote. She is now known as Our Lady of Ocotlán, in commemoration of the ocote wood, from which the image of Our Lady was made, and in remembrance of the place where the image was miraculously found.
The image of Our Lady seems to be carved of one piece of wood, standing a little less than five feet tall. The image appears to be pressing slightly toward you, beckoning you to come to Her that She might embrace you, lead you to Her Son. As we know Our Lady never aged, this image once again depicts Her as a young girl with delicate features. As in Her earthly life, and eternal life, the image shows the Mother of God in an attitude of prayer, Her delicate hands clasped together, reverently.
In 1746, The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Ocotlán was raised to that of the Liberian Basilica of Saint Mary Major.[1] At that time, pilgrims reverently visiting the Sanctuary were granted the Indulgences, Privileges and Apostolic Indults which might be gained by visiting the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome (under the same conditions).[2]
Nine years later, in 1755, Our Lady of Ocotlán was declared Patroness of Tlaxcala. The Feast Day of the Apparition of Our Lady of Ocotlán is celebrated on Quinquagesima Sunday,[3] falling mostly in February.
In 1906, the Holy See raised the Sanctuary of Ocotlán to the status of a collegiate church, with its own chapter of canons; at that time granting permission to the Sanctuary for the liturgical crowning of the image of Our Lady of Ocotlán.
In sleepy Mexico, a land of contrasts, of the holiest and the most unsavory, there lies a strain of holiness and dedication unsurpassed anywhere. Here in a very charming little village, remotely hidden away, lies the secret of the Mexican heart. When you witness the faithful going up to the Altar, on their knees, in supplication, your heart jumps a beat and you know you are in the company of people who have faith! These simple people are true believers, who come and pray at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Ocotlán, with ultimate faith, believing the Father desires to grant them miracles through the intercession of Mother Mary and Her Son.
When you feel a stirring in your heart, a longing to draw closer to your Mother, come with us and allow us to introduce you to this image of Our Lady that stole our hearts.
[1] Mexico: Land of Mary's Wonders by Father Joseph L. Cassidy
[2] Go to Confession, received Holy Communion within eight days and pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory be for the Pope's intentions.
[3] Quinquagesima - the first Sunday before Lent. It refers to the period of time of "fifty" days before Easter, which in early times was the beginning of the pre-Lenten abstinence. Occasionally the word is applied to the period of fifty days from Easter to Pentecost. (The Catholic Encyclopedia - Broderick)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

The following article is an excerpt from our book, "The Many Faces of Mary Book II."

The Icon begins its travels.
We read that after he had completed the painting, Luke gave it to his best friend and patron, Theophilus. Then, there is little reported until we find ourselves in the middle of the Fifth Century. We find the Icon in Constantinople, where St. Pulcheria erected a Shrine in honor of the Icon and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, or as She is also called, Our Lady of Perpetual Succor.[1] For one thousand years, our Icon remained in Constantinople, where it had the love and devotion of believers from every walk of life, royalty and their serfs,[2] kings and queens and their subjects, the haves and the have-nots, all knelt and prayed, and their petitions were answered.
The 15th Century and Our Lady takes the image to Heaven.
Then in 1453, Constantinople was under siege and again we read that the night before the fall of the ancient, holy city, Our Mother Mary took the Icon up to Heaven. However, many copies were made, at that time in history, and are venerated in some part of the world till today.
A mother's work never done, Our Lady of Perpetual Help is still listening. Forever our Mother, She is still interceding with her Son on our behalf. As you can see on the Icon, She is looking toward us, begging us to love Her Son and to turn to Him in our time of need. Mother Mary always points to Her Son. I have stopped counting all the paintings and statues we have seen of the Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus, but they all are the same, echoing the words at Cana: "Do whatever He tells you."
The 16th Century and the Icon of Our Lady reappears.
Now, thr next time we hear of the Icon is in the Sixteenth Century and tradition tells us that the Icon is now on the island of Crete. A merchant enters the picture. He spots a magnificent Icon in a church, and hearing about the miracles that have come about through the veneration of what he sees as a valuable piece of art, he steals it, stealthily packing it among his samples. He sets out on the high seas toward Italy, when the ship is attacked mercilessly by torrents of rain, thunder and lightning, the waves threatening to capsize the ship. Only by the grace of God did he and the ship survive the angry winds and slamming waves relentlessly beating against the hull of the ship. Finally, he landed, but his punishment wasn't over. After a year of endless struggle, we find our unscrupulous merchant in Rome.
But that's not the end of the story. In Rome, our merchant falls critically ill and seeks help from a friend. There was little the friend could do and the time came for the merchant to entrust the miraculous Icon to the care of his friend with the admonition that upon his death, he bring it to a church. The friend promised to fulfill the merchant's dying wish. But he didn't reckon with his friend's wife who, upon seeing how valuable it was, insisted on keeping it. The result, the husband also died without having honored his dying friend's wish.
Not to be discouraged by another setback, Our Lady appeared to the couple's six year old daughter, and told her to tell her mother and grandmother (who naturally got involved) to relinquish the Icon at once and bring it to St. Matthew the Apostle Church, located between the Basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. It took quite a bit of soul-searching and arguing with herself back and forth, but at last the little girl's mother went to speak to the Priests of St. Matthew the Apostle, and the Icon was placed in the church on March 27, 1499, under the title of the Virgin of St. Matthew's. The Icon would be venerated for the next three hundred years in St. Matthew the Apostle, the numbers of petitioners growing once more, only now throughout all of Rome. As the faithful prayed and pleaded, Our Lady interceded, and the Lord responded.
[1]In the United States, this icon carries the name of Our Lady Perpetual Help, but in other countries, it is venerated under the name of Our Lady of Perpetual Succor.
[2]another word for servants, vassals or slaves

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Our Lady of the Cape

The following is an excerpt on the chapter about Our Lady of the Cap from our book,"The Many Faces of Mary book II."

Build a new church!
What could Father Désilets do? In 1873, the villagers of Cap-de-la-Madeleine swelled to 1300! Through the Mother of God, there was a new, deeper awareness of Church and its treasures. Word spread past their borders to neighboring parishes. In 1878, hearing of this success, the Bishop sent Father Désilets an associate, Father Louis Eugène Duquay. Well, now all he had to do was build a larger church!
As his parishioners were poor and the soil was sandy, the only solution was to demolish the old church and use its stones, and transport additional stones from the south shore of the St. Lawrence River in Sainte Angèle. Parishioners prepared the stone for transportation the following winter. In those days, boats did not travel in the winter on the St. Lawrence; but they would be able to cross the river, and transport the stones on horse-drawn sleighs, if it was solidly frozen. It had always worked in the past. This was man's plan! But it seems God had something else in mind. Things were not going to be that easy. The winter of 1878-79 was very mild. The weather was so unusually balmy, the river had not frozen over, nor was it showing any promise of doing so.
Father called all the parishioners into the church and asked them to plead with Our Lady to form a bridge of ice for the sleighs, carrying the stones, to cross over. Every Sunday, after Mass, they prayed the Rosary, petitioning Our Lady to intercede, with the Lord. Each day, Father Duquay prayed the Rosary at the Altar of the Confraternity of the Rosary. Father Désilets promised Our Lady, if She would grant them this favor, they would dedicate the small church to Her.
Months slowly passed by, with no hope in sight. Before they knew it, it was March; and with March - Spring! Spring, and no ice in sight! But suddenly a high wind began to break up ice blocking the mouth of the St. Maurice River to the south and the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. The ice began to drift downstream to the Cap-de-la-Madeleine, covering the river several hundred feet from the church.
On March the 17th, Father Duquay asked parishioners to attend the High Mass he would be celebrating in honor of St. Joseph, on his Feast Day, March 19th. They would petition him, as foster father, to intercede with his Son Jesus, to form a bridge of ice for the stones to cross over. Then he invited some of the men to survey the situation. At the river's edge, they saw the river covered by a thin layer of ice floating among drifts of snow. They went from place to place, with no success, covering one thousand feet. Then they spotted two guides heading upriver to the south shore. Only Fathers Désilets and Duquay dared join the guides, the ice was so dangerously thin.
Having arrived at the south shore, one of the guides crawled forward, feeling his way along the icy water for a piece of ice that could carry his weight. Some men joined him and together they formed 1600 ft of ice along the river, wide enough to allow two carts, carrying stones, to pass one another. The men returned to the sacristy. It was 11 p.m. They considered the possibilities, slim as they were, and decided the best course was to pour water on the thin bridge of ice that had formed. As it continued to freeze, they would pour more water on it, with the hope it would result in the ice becoming thicker and thicker. Then when the ice bridge was thick enough for carts carrying stones to cross it, the transport of the stones would begin.
March 18th, day before St. Joseph's Feast Day, the men were walking on the thin ice bridge, throwing water on it. Now, considering it was March and the very balmy weather they were facing, it was a miracle in itself that the men could walk on the thin ice. They kept pouring water, until a layer of six inches formed on the ice. Seeing that, they continued pouring water, with the holy stubbornness of the French Canadians that helped them survive, over the centuries.
March 19th, the first cart crossed over, carrying stones. Other carts followed, until by Sunday 175 carts had crossed, carrying enough stones to build the new church. Father Duquay ordered the work to cease. It was Sunday! The Lord had answered their prayers. It was time for them to offer thanksgiving to the Lord for, indeed, He had performed a miracle on their behalf. All were of one mind and one spirit in proclaiming this was indeed through the intercession of the Blessed Mother. That day, the bridge was dedicated with the name it carries till this day - The Bridge of the Rosary. Fifteen days later Father Désilets received a letter from his Bishop: "The Good Lord really made possible the transportation of the stone for your church. It shows once again what faith can do, even provide a way to carry 300 meters[1] of stone from one side of the St. Lawrence River to the other."
[1] Each meter measures 39.37 inches. Consequently he is talking about approximately 1000 feet of stone.
For more information on our book "The Many Faces of Mary and the dvd on Our Lady of the Cap click here."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Our Lady of Czestochowa

The Following is a short excerpt from the Chapter on Our Lady of Czestochowa from our book, "The Many Faces of Mary book II."

Our Lady Travels the World
It is easier to determine that St. Luke painted the image which is now in Czestochowa than to track the history of the image down through the ages. Everything we tell you of the early history of the movement of the image of Our Lady is from tradition. The first movement out of Jerusalem occurred when the Romans came and destroyed the city in 70 A.D. It was brought by zealot Christian women up to the mountains, where it remained, to the best of anyone's knowledge, for 300 years. Now, it had to have an enormous amount of meaning to the daughters of Jerusalem, who cared for it over the centuries. Great pains were taken to insure that it was protected against all who came against the Church and the early members of the Church. They hid the image in caves, and through various underground tunnels to safe havens. They did this under the threat of imprisonment, torture and death, if caught.
In the year 326, or thereabouts, Queen Helena arrived in the Holy Land to gather relics of the early Faith, including parts of the True Cross, one of the Nails, part of the Crown of Thorns, as well as the sign above the Crucifix of Jesus, which read, "INRI, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" and the firsthand image of the Blessed Mother of God, painted by the evangelist St. Luke. This was certainly an important relic to bring back to her son Constantine.
When St. Helena arrived in Jerusalem, she was put in contact with the holy ladies who had been unofficial custodians of the only original painting of Our Lady in existence for all those centuries. The fame of St. Helena must have preceded her to the Holy Land, because she was given charge of this most important painting without hesitation. She brought it back to Constantinople along with other relics, and presented them to her son. He was so taken back by the beauty of the image, but also the sadness, he had a church built in Her honor, dedicating it to the Holy Name of Mary. Did Constantine spend time with Our Lady here in this Church? Did he try to imagine, looking at the eyes of this most magnificent painting, what She was feeling as She recounted the sufferings of Her Son? Did She speak to him there? Did he listen and act on Her words?
The Church and the image drew pilgrims from hundreds of miles around. They came and prayed; they petitioned Our Lady. Our dear Mother Mary blessed those who venerated Her image in that place. Healings and miracles took place. People from far and wide came to the church for healings and conversions. Dear Mother Mary answered all their prayers. The image of Our Lady became famous throughout the country.
So powerful was the image of Our Lady in Constantinople, that the people venerated Her in this church for centuries. The future emperors of the Byzantine Empire[1] gave Her the same honor and respect that St. Helena and her son Constantine had done during their lifetimes. As a matter of fact, they used the painting to protect them from an onslaught by the Saracens in one of their many failed attempts to conquer Constantinople.[2] In this instance, the people of the town had so much faith in the power the Lord Jesus had given to Our Lady in this image, they carried the image throughout the city and around the barriers surrounding the city. The Saracens could see the power of God in this image of Our Lady, and fled in fear. It is reminiscent of the Miracle of the Eucharist of Assisi[3] when St. Clare of Assisi held up the Monstrance with Our Lord Jesus present, to ward off an attack by Saracens on her convent. They looked up at the Monstrance, saw the power of God in it, and ran for their lives. They never returned to San Damiano or Assisi again.
Our Lady Goes to Poland
Over the centuries, the Byzantine Empire lost more and more of its territory, and more and more of its power. Factions attacked from all sides weakening the empire. Infighting among the rulers also helped to bring about the demise. But most likely, the most significant factor, which led to the decline and fall of the Byzantine Empire, was it turned its back on Our Lord Jesus and His Mother Mary. History does repeat itself, make no mistake about that! We have seen more instances of great powers brought to their knees when they have walked away from Our Lord Jesus and His Mother Mary. The Byzantine Empire was no exception. There was a complete breakdown in religious practices. Some of the emperors hated Christianity, and actually went out of their way to destroy any vestiges of devotion, statues, relics and sacred objects.
However, the image of Our Lady was so important, and of such spiritual value to the nobility of Constantinople, they hid the image inside the palace of the emperor. Actually in some cases, the wife or daughter of the emperor hid the image for safe-keeping. Then, during the next five hundred years, mothers would bequeath the image to a daughter or son who had not lost his faith, and still honored the Sacred Painting; and they would give it as a wedding present, or on some similar occasion, to another child, until such time as the city of Constantinople was in danger of being destroyed by the Moslem hoards.
If we were to take a look at the Byzantine Empire, at the time of its inception, it covered a great span of countries. In 550 A.D., it encompassed all the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, Greece, the Holy Land, southern Spain, and Northern Africa. In 1050 A.D., in the midst of its decline, it only controlled Italy, Greece, and Antioch. In 1453, it fell to the Ottoman Turks, and by the beginning of the Sixteenth Century, the Byzantine Empire was no more.
Tradition tracks the movement of the Sacred Painting of Our Lady from Constantinople to Russia. The reasoning for this was that "...the Christian Faith moved through Bulgaria, Moravia, the Czech Republic and finally to Russia."[4] The next question we would naturally ask is, "Well, how did it get from Russia to Poland?" Our research tells us that there was a great deal of inter-marriage between Russian autocrats[5] and Polish royalty. A most appropriate dowry gift to be given was the Sacred Image of Our Lady. So the painting was protected and circulated over the centuries by the nobility, first of Russia, and then when the Ukraine collapsed and became part of the kingdom of Poland, it wound up in a castle in Belz, a region which had been in Russia and then became part of Poland. Upon the death of King Casimir the Great, the throne was put into the hands of Prince Ladislaus.
When Ladislaus assumed the throne, his first act was to recapture all the castles which had been controlled by the Russians. Upon the capture of the castle at Belz, he gave great respect and honor to the Sacred Image of Our Lady. At this point, the Sacred Image was raised to the level of a Shrine. A special place was given to the image within the castle, and great reverence was paid to Our Lady.
[1]The Byzantine Empire evolved from the Roman Empire in the 5th century.
[2]The Ottoman Empire finally captured Constantinople in 1453, signaling the demise of the Byzantine Empire.
[3]Read more about this Miracle of the Eucharist in Bob and Penny Lord's book, This Is My Body, This Is My Blood, Miracles of the Eucharist.
[4]The Glories of Czestochowa and Jasna Góra - O.L. Czestochowa Foundation - Worcester, MA
[5] absolute rulers

Friday, May 9, 2008

Our Lady of Pompeii

The following is an excerpt from our book, "The Many Faces of Mary book II." about the chapter on Our Lady of Pompeii

The Miracle of Pompeii
Seldom in history do we find a Shrine and a village that owes its existence to one man and his dream. As unique as this is, rarer still is a Sanctuary village with the ancient heritage of pre-Christ Pompeii. As this book is about Our Lady and the miracles that came about through her intercession, you will see how She played an integral part in guiding one man to build Her Shrine, a Sanctuary where the needy could come, with their cares and worries and She would answer them. But before we go into the wonders of Our Lady of Pompeii, we must delve into the heart and soul of one man, a knight who loved His Lady and wanted to do Her honor.
Where you find the extraordinary, you will find the Holy Spirit guiding the way. And so it was with Blessed Bartolo Longo, who was in the Hands of the Spirit in his personal life, as well as the founder of one of the most famous and visited Sanctuaries in the history of the Church, especially by Italians and pilgrims from all over the world.
As we seek him, we find him being guided by the Holy Spirit. His biographer says of him: "Bartolo Longo was guided by the Spirit as much through the desert as the rich harvest, and through the dark night as in the radiant midday light. He was conscious of this adventure and he wanted to live it to the full." He wanted to live it to the full! But living it to the full, not even he realized how far he would go. Before the consecration of the new church, in 1891, he wrote:
"For fifteen years we were continually astonished by the phenomenon that was occurring inside of us without clearly understanding its laws or the nature and force of its purpose. What was that secret impulse, persistent and untiring, that for so many years had driven us to build this church?"[1]
(Author's Note) It reminds us of our Holy Family Mission and the replica of the Holy House we built in Arkansas. For eleven years we searched and searched for the right place to build our center of evangelization and finally there it was not of our choice but that of God; but like with Bartolo Longo, it was not to be accomplished without blood, sweat and tears spilling onto the pages telling our story.[2]
Bartolo Longo - from Satanist to Saint
But first, let us speak of the man through which this all came about. Bartolo Longo was born in Latiano (Brindisi) on February the 10th, 1841 to Dr. Bartolomeo Longo and Antonina Luparelli.[3] His parents were well-to-do, which would enable him to receive a fine education. As they were devout Catholics, most especially his mother, he and his siblings grew up with a deep love for Mary. The Rosary was implanted in Bartolo's heart, as a youth, as his family prayed the Rosary together, every evening, meditating on the Life of Jesus and Mary. From his earliest years, one could see the characteristics which would catapult him into greatness. He was charismatic. He excelled in every thing he endeavored. He fared well in his studies. Exposed to music at an early age, he loved to play the piano and the flute, even becoming the conductor of the school band.
But his parents' influence would not be always with him. The time came when he would enter the university! As is true in many universities, down through the ages, Bartolo was bombarded with deadly liberal, atheistic, anti-Christian heretical courses, especially in a philosophy class given by a fallen-away Priest. Subsequently, Bartolo fell into the trap and began his sad walk away from the Catholic Church. He was so completely taken in by his professor and all the hate he was spewing against the Faith, Bartolo too began to rant and rave against the Church.
But his heart was always seeking the Divine. The ex-priest took away his anchor in the storm[4] and of need, he found another. Only this one would help him to sink into the mire of decadence. Falling in with students who were deeply involved with the occult, he too began to delve into mysticism with his fellow cultists, attending séances. He got so involved, not being a half-measure kind of person, he was ordained a Priest in a Satanic cult. As his cult attacked the Church, her Priests, Bishops and Religious, as well as the Holy Rites of the Church, he too piped in; and with all the charisma and training, he had received preparing him for a career in law, he was able to convince others to stray away from Jesus and His Church.
God waited patiently, but not allowing him to continue harming his soul and that of others, God, through the night and day praying of his mother for his soul, allowed Bartolo to fast so severely, he dangerously jeopardized his health. Not only his physical health, but his mental as well. He soon found himself sinking farther and farther into a deep depression. His exposure to the horrible rituals and practices he witnessed in the cult, so devastated him he suffered a mental breakdown. But only for a short period, as Jesus could not resist Bartolo's mother's pleas. Still away from Mother Church, he was close to despair, when he heard a voice resembling his deceased father's voice calling to him: "Return to God! Return to God!"
The day finally came in Naples, when in 1864, Bartolo finally concluded his education, receiving a diploma to practice law, which he did in Naples until 1871. All the Rosaries said, all the supplications by his mother, Our Lady stepped in and sent him to Professor Vincente Pepe, a good friend who taught near Naples. When Bartolo shared his experiences and the rituals of the cult, the professor became so repulsed and enraged, his outburst stunned Bartolo. Desperately crying out for help, Bartolo admitted he was deeply troubled.Vincente introduced Bartolo to a Dominican Priest, well versed in the theology and philosophy of .St. Thomas Aquinas - Father Alberto Radente. By the grace of God and the intercession of Mother Mary, this dear Priest would serve as confessor and spiritual director, as well as friend to Bartolo. Father helped him to relinquish all ties with the Satanic cult, once and for all. He prepared him to receive the Sacraments by giving Bartolo an extensive course in the Faith. Jesus said, "This kind can be cast out in no way except by prayer and fasting."[5] God sent Bartolo a prayer warrior in Father Radente. He prayed and fasted for his young charge. I wonder if he knew how great would be the task this young man would undertake for the glory and honor of Jesus and Mary and succeed.
[1] referring to the Chapel in Pompeii, which he built
[2] You can read more about Bob and Penny Lord's journey of faith in their autobiography - The Journey and the Dream
[3] In Italy and in many parts of the world, the wife maintains her single name, even unto death. You can see obituaries announcing the demise of a wife as: Maria Rossi, wife of Salvatore Penna (for example).
[4] Jesus and the Church
[5] Mk 9:29

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Our Lady Who Cried

The following is an excerpt from our book, "The Many Faces of Mary Book II."

Our story begins in Syracuse on the 29th of August, 1953, Five months before, Antonina and Angelo Jannuso were married. Because they were a struggling young couple, with Angelo a poor worker earning the barest minimum wages, they accepted his brother's gracious invitation and moved into his small house on Via degli Orti di E. Giorgio. The day of their marriage, they received a plaster plaque of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as a wedding present. Although they were what we would call, lukewarm Catholics, barely doing their Church duties by going to church on Sundays, they reverently placed the plaster plaque on the wall above their bed.
Soon after they were married, they discovered they were to know the blessing of giving birth to a child. The couple was overjoyed, but typical of the hardworking poor class of Sicily, things were not going to be easy. They discovered Antonina had toxemia. This not only caused her to have excruciating convulsions, the convulsions, at times, resulted in her suffering bouts of blindness. On the day of the miracle, August 29th, Antonina was blinded, due to a seizure resulting from her convulsions. She was totally blind from three in the morning until eight thirty that evening, when her eyesight was totally restored.
She later wrote that she turned to the image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary over her bed, to give thanksgiving to Our Lady for her returned eyesight, when to her utter astonishment what did she see, but the plaque of Our Lady was crying. She called out to her sister-in-law and aunt who, when she recounted what she had seen, thought she was delusional due to her illness. She said she then insisted they look closely at the image of Our Lady. They reluctantly did as she asked. When they moved closer to the image, they too saw the tears flowing from the eyes of Our Lady, and attested to the fact they, as well, saw some tears run down Her face unto the headboard of her bed. Needless to say, upon witnessing the image crying, they had mixed feelings - fright mixed with awe and wonderment. They immediately set out to advise the neighbors. They removed the plaque from the wall and carried it outside so the neighbors could see what they had seen. The neighbors could do nothing less than confirm that which they too had seen. The image of our Lady was shedding tears!
As you can imagine, word soon got out. Visitors came from far and near to witness the miraculous phenomena for themselves. People are always looking for the supernatural! Not only the inquisitive came but a well-respected gentleman in the neighborhood, one Mario Messina came; and after he too noticed the tears spilling from the eyes of the image, he removed the plaque from the wall to see if possibly the tears were not coming through the plaster plaque from a hidden reservoir. Upon examining it, he could do nothing but affirm that he could see no evidence disputing the miraculous formation of tears on the plaque. They dried the plaque and tears quickly formed on the dry surface.
As the crowds swelled, jamming themselves into the small house to see the image, the authorities, with the Jannusos' permission, removed the plaque from the wall and hung it on the outer wall of the house to satisfy the curiosity of all those who had heard of the miraculous occurrence. Seeing the numbers increasing, rather than lessening, and finding it more and more difficult to maintain any semblance of order, the local carabiniere[1] decided to bring the plaque to the local police station. The image continued to weep, even as it was being conveyed carefully to the local police station. But once inside the station, forty minutes had not passed when the image ceased weeping. Consequently, it was restored to its rightful home - the home where the Jannusos lived.
Now, the people had not moved from outside the little house. So, at 2 a.m., on Sunday, August the 30th, the plaque, which had resumed crying, was placed on a pillow for all to see and venerate. Monday, the plaque was pinned to the wall. Whereupon, the people began collecting tears on handkerchiefs, pieces of cotton and all sorts of bits of cloth. Our Lady, kind and obliging Mother that She is, was able to assure Her children that in truth a miracle had come about - for them! As it was not securely attached to the wall, they decided to bring the plaque to the house across the road and have it placed on an Altar fashioned just for this purpose. The crowds continued to come. As they approached the image of Our Lady, they went down on their knees and began praying the Rosary. That done, the Rosary was finished; the plaque was gently carried back to the Jannuso home.
[1]Italian gendarme