Friday, August 26, 2016

You Don't Miss A Thing by Amanda Cook

Mother Teresa's Quick Novena

The Quick Novena was, so to speak, Mother Teresa’s spiritual rapid-fire weapon. It consisted of ten Memorares—not nine, as you might expect from the word “novena”… Given the host of problems that were brought to Mother Teresa’s attention, not to mention the pace at which she traveled, it was often just not possible to allow nine days for an answer from Celestial Management. And so she invented the Quick Novena.

Mother Teresa used this prayer constantly: for petitions for the cure of a sick child, before important discussions or when passports went missing, to request heavenly aid when the fuel supply was running short on a nighttime mission…

The reason why Mother Teresa always prayed ten Memorares, though, is that she took the collaboration of heaven so much for granted that she always added a tenth Memorare immediately, in thanksgiving for the favor received.
—From Msgr. Leo Maasburg’s book, “Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait”. Learn more about this book or purchase at

Our Lady of Częstochowa and my vocation!

I wrote this reflection a few years back and it all still holds true.  I have been blessed in so many ways by our merciful God!  With great gratitude I am preparing for a pilgrimage to Italy as I am celebrating my jubilee of religious life (25 years).  I will carry all of you in my heart as I visit Turin and the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, the rooms of Don Bosco and the original oratory.  I have the chance to visit Becchi and the place of St. John Bosco's birth!  Rome and Assisi are also on the itinerary!  We will be there for the Wednesday Audience with our Holy Father on September 7.  And, amazingly, I will be present for the canonization of Mother Teresa!  She is a woman that I actually saw at the UNO Lakefront arena back in 1984.  To be there for her canonization is an immense blessing! August 26 is also Mother Teresa's birthday!   If you have prayer intentions please send them to me via Facebook or you can post them in the comments below.  Please pray for me and for my provincial Fr. Steve Shafran who accompanies me on this pilgrimage in the Year of Mercy!

Today, August 26, is the feast of Our Lady of Częstochowa! I never had a great devotion to this image until the year 2000. That was when I was ordained a priest! That makes today the 14th anniversary of my ordination! When I first found out my ordination would be on August 26th I was a bit disappointed that it would not be on a feast day, but later found out about Częstochowa. It was made more special when I realized the great devotion that Pope John Paul II had for her as well. Pope John Paul II, native of Poland, visited the shrine in 1979 and 1983.The miraculous portrait of Our Lady of Czestochowa is venerated by many as an actual portrait of the Madonna, painted during her lifetime by Saint Luke the Evangelist on the top of a cypress-wood table. Our God is a God of miracles and He is so very generous!

It is in this context that I wanted to write a few words about vocations and about my own vocation story. I am especially mindful of the great gift that ordination brings to the Church, to my family and to the Salesian Family, as well as to me personally. During this Year for Priests it is good to reflect more on this mystery of vocation and the gift that it is for all of us who love the Church and her mission.

My vocation is not so different from many others. Many folks had a hand in it! I think the wonderful prayerful example of my parents was a big part. I can remember seeing my mother frequently in her room with rosary in hand (no doubt praying for us kids!). Also, the hard working example of my Dad and his wonderful availability to others was and is a model to me. I don’t think we ever missed a mass on Sunday. Our parish was a second home to our family. Between school activities, scouting, fairs, picnics and altar serving the parish became a real extension of home.

I can remember being so impressed with the priests of my parish as a youngster and as an altar boy. Our Pastor, the late Msgr. Charles Pagluighi, was a great inspiration to all of us in the parish and he had a particular charism for young people. He had a way of getting his altar boys excited to do a great job at serving at mass. His love for the Chicago Cubs was well known and I remember marveling at the fact that he was an honorary team chaplain! I think the fine example and down to earth goodness of Fr. Pagluighi was a big part of my seeing priesthood in such a positive light.

Another priest of the parish when I was in grammar school was Fr. Arthur Calkins. Fr. Calkins was a very different personality from Fr. Paglughi. Fr. Calkins was a very thoughtful homilist and scholar and had the personality of a university professor. But, it was Fr. Calkins who was the first priest to ask me as a youngster if I had ever thought of the priesthood. I was very surprised by the question and I don’t remember how I responded to his question. However, I do remember that he asked me! The question stayed with me and remained something that I would think about from then on.

I think these good parish priests gave me such a positive view of priesthood that made it possible to say yes years later.

It was also in grammar school that I met Don Bosco. The Salesian Sisters came to our school as I began the 7th grade. They were wonderful, joyful women who had a clear love for God, the Church and this great Salesian Charism. Their love for St. John Bosco, Mary, Help of Christians and for young people was so clear. These sisters didn’t just talk about joy, but they were visibly joyful. I had never seen a religious sister in a habit play softball or basketball before, but these wonderful Salesians sure did! They also loved to tell the many stories of Don Bosco, his dreams, and his miracles to us kids. We saw old movies about the saint and even read comic books about him. This was a cool saint who could do it all! I left grammar school with a love for Don Bosco and his spirit.

I attended Archbishop Shaw High School in Marrero, Louisiana and it was there that I encountered the Salesian Priests and Brothers. My parish priests and the Salesian Sisters tilled the soil and the priests at Shaw planted more seeds. During the summer between my Junior and Senior years of High School I had the chance to help out at a Salesian summer camp in Ipswich, MA. I needed to do 50 hours of service to graduate and the camp sounded like fun. I was supposed to work there for one week, but I was enjoying it so much that I called home to work out staying for a second! It was in working with the young people that summer that I began to see that Don Bosco’s spirit was really growing in me. Was God calling me to be a priest? Was God calling me to be a Salesian? Maybe, but I wasn’t ready to say that out loud!

By the end of my Senior year at Shaw I was all set to go to LSU and begin a new chapter in my life. Just before graduation the school Director Fr. Pat Angelucci called me into his office to ask me a question. He asked me what I planned to do after graduation. I told him I was headed to LSU. He asked the question again. This time he looked me right in the eyes and asked “what do you plan to do with the rest of your life?” Somehow I had the courage to say maybe I will become a Salesian! Six years later that is exactly what happened! On August 15, 1991 I knelt before my provincial and made profession as a Salesian of Don Bosco. Nine years later I was blessed to be ordained a priest!

Pope Benedict called us to celebrate a special Year for Priests in 2011 and I have been thinking about this wonderful mystery of priesthood and the great gift that it is to the Church. No man deserves to be a priest. I know that I don’t deserve this wonderful gift. However, I do know that God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called. Somehow God works through one’s limitations and brokenness to bring healing, hope and holiness to the people of God. Please pray for us priests that we might continue to grow more and more into the heart of Christ. The Church needs more and more men to say yes! Maybe God is calling you? Don’t be afraid to say YES!

Mother Teresa's Description of Jesus

The prayer of Mother Teresa comes from here:

Jesus is the Word made Flesh.
Jesus is the Bread of Life.
Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the Cross.
Jesus is the Sacrifice offered at the Holy Mass
For the sins of the world and mine.
Jesus is the Word – to be spoken.
Jesus is the Truth – to be told.
Jesus is the Way – to be walked.
Jesus is the Light – to be lit.
Jesus is the Life – to be lived.
Jesus is the Love – to be loved.
Jesus is the Joy – to be shared.
Jesus is the Sacrifice – to be offered.
Jesus is the Peace – to be given.
Jesus is the Bread of Life – to be eaten.
Jesus is the Hungry – to be fed.
Jesus is the Thirsty – to be satiated.
Jesus is the Naked – to be clothed.
Jesus is the Homeless – to be taken in.
Jesus is the Sick – to be healed.
Jesus is the Lonely – to be loved.
Jesus is the Unwanted – to be wanted.
Jesus is the Leper – to wash his wounds.
Jesus is the Beggar – to give him a smile.
Jesus is the Drunkard – to listen to him.
Jesus is the Retarded – to protect him.
Jesus is the Little One – to embrace him.
Jesus is the Blind – to lead him.
Jesus is the Dumb – to speak for him.
Jesus is the Crippled – to walk with him.
Jesus is the Drug addict – to befriend him.
Jesus is the Prostitute – to remove from danger and befriend.
Jesus is the Prisoner – to be visited.
Jesus is the Old – to be served.

To me –
Jesus is my God.
Jesus is my Spouse.
Jesus is my Life.
Jesus is my only Love.
Jesus is my All in All.
Jesus is my Everything.

Jesus, I love with my whole heart, with my whole being.  I have given Him all, even my sings, and he has espoused me to Himself in tenderness and love.  Now and for life I am the spouse of my Crucified Spouse. Amen.

In Over My Head by Jenn Johnson

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Surrendering to the Holy Spirit

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Feast of St. Bartholomew the Apostle!

Today is the Feast of St. Bartholomew! The following comes from the Ecole Glossary.

Nathaniel Bar Tolmai was a native of Cana chosen to be among the 12 Apostles and praised for his sincerity. The synoptic gospels and the Acts of the Apostles list Bartholomew among the Twelve, and the gospel according to St. John lists Nathaniel, who is elsewhere associated with Philip. Other gospels note an association of Philip with Bartholomew, and people have inferred that the writers of the synoptic books call Nathaniel by his patronymic, while St. John calls him by his first name.

Details of his subsequent career are unknown. He is said to have preached in India (or Ethiopia), Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, and Armenia. Eusebius reports that St. Pantænus of Alexandria found in India (by which Eusebius may have meant Ethiopia) a copy of the Hebrew text of the gospel of Matthew that Bartholomew had left there. A gospel attributed to Bartholomew is apocryphal.

Nathaniel is thought to have been martyred by King Astyages of Babylon, who ordered him flayed and beheaded. The place of Nathaniel's death is uncertain. Some say it was Derbend on the Caspian Sea, but Armenian sources assert he died at Arbanoupolis in Armenia. St. Bartholomew in Rome claims his relics.

For more information on St. Bartholomew please check out the Patron Saints Index!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Holy Spirit by Francesca Battistelli

Depending on Providence

The following comes from Mark Mallett:

THESE are the days of Elijah, that is, the hour of a prophetic witness being called forth by the Holy Spirit. It is going to take on many facets—from the fulfillment of apparitions, to the prophetic witness of individuals who “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation… shine like lights in the world.” [1] Here I am not speaking only of the hour of “prophets, seers, and visionaries”—though that is part of it—but of every day people like you and me.
Perhaps you are saying, “Who, me?” Yes, you, and here’s why: as the darkness gets darker, so too, our witness as Christians is going to be forced into the open. One will no longer be able to sit on the fence of compromise. Either you will shine with the light of Christ, or out of fear and self-preservation, hide that light beneath a bushel basket. But remember St. Paul’s warning: “if we deny Him, He will deny us”, [2]but also Christ’s reassurance: “everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.” [3]
Thus, Jesus says with joy:
You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. (Today’s Gospel)
And so, let me straight away repeat the words of St. John Paul II: “BE NOT AFRAID.” There is a strong spirit of fear that has been loosed into the world [4] that is operating under the guise of “tolerance”, but in truth, is a bully. Anyone who disagrees with the “new agenda” is being met more and more with violent words or actions. But don’t be intimidated by this spirit. Stand strong! Have faith in the power of Truth and Love, who is Christ.
…for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (2 Cor 10:4)
Stand your ground, “but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.” [5] Otherwise, the light in you will fade, and your salt will lose its taste.
Last, keep in mind that…
Christ… fulfills this prophetic office, not only by the hierarchy… but also by the laity… [who] are made sharers in their particular way in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office of Christ. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 904, 897
Know that the Father will look out for you as He has all His “prophets.” Elijah surrendered himself completely into the arms of Divine Providence. Can you not see, my dear brothers and sisters, that you and I must do the same? That soon His arms will be all that we’ll have as Christians are forced out of the public sphere? So be it. But Abba knows how to care for His own.
The brook near where Elijah was hiding ran dry, because no rain had fallen in the land. So the LORD said to Elijah:  “Move on to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have designated a widow there to provide for you.” (Today’s first reading)
What is most remarkable is that God sent Elijah to a widow who also had nothing! She was down to her last meal. Why would the Lord do this? Precisely to demonstrate His power in the midst of disaster, His love in the midst of drought, His providence in the midst of famine. God multiplied her food such that:
She was able to eat for a year, and Elijah and her son as well. 
In this way, Elijah’s courage was strengthened, as was the faith of the widow. Look, food is easy for God. That’s the least of your worries. Being faithful is your concern:
Know that the LORD does wonders for his faithful one; the LORD will hear me when I call upon him. (Today’s Psalm)

Read the rest here! 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Art of Contemplative & Mystical Prayer

The following comes from The Catholic Exchange:

Contemplative prayer has the tendency to become ever simpler and more silent. As we gain experience in this form of prayer we need fewer and fewer thoughts, until finally one single thought may be sufficient to find the way to truth and God. Fewer thoughts demand fewer words. St. Francis used the phrase “My God and my all” as his theme of contemplation for a whole night.
In contemplation our mode of thinking changes. From its usual restlessness it becomes a quiet beholding and a comprehending, a watching and a witnessing. Our voice changes: it becomes softer and lower. Finally, speech dies down and its place is taken by a silent regarding and longing between the soul and God. If we should reach this stage in contemplation, we should not force ourselves back into the diversity of thought. When simplicity contains the essence, there is no need for diversity; when silence is eloquent, it is greater than words.
There are people to whom a profusion of thought and words are alien. With them, the state of quietude, which others take consid­erable time to establish, is very quickly reached. They require only very few words; anything beyond it would merely confuse them. They may not even need any words or thoughts in order to establish the state of mind in which they experience the presence of God. If that is so, they need not search any farther. They should, however, not take this for granted. It may happen that on another occasion they need a proper subject for contemplation and must have recourse to a proper text.
We cannot do more here than give a general description of the character and practice of contemplative prayer. It must take differ­ent forms with different people. Thus what we have said should not be regarded as a general rule but merely as a survey which may give some guidance in individual cases.
Some people find contemplation very much easier than others. Some people are by nature quieter and more introspective than others who are highly strung and permanently keyed up for action. Again, the form of contemplation must vary with individual disposition. The slow, plodding, and methodical person will set about it in a different way from someone who is quick and impres­sionable, the imaginative person in a different way from the abstract thinker.
There are no general rules. What matters is that we should seek the truth and that through truth we should strive after God. Also, contemplation changes in character with time and circumstances.

Mystical prayer erases barriers between man and God

It may happen in contemplation that we have a strange experience. We may have been reflecting on God in faith alone. Suddenly, God is present. This is not due to any intensity of devotion on our part, nor does it imply that we have an especially vivid idea of God or that our heart is overflowing with love for Him. It is not anything of this kind. It is a sudden feeling that we are faced with an entirely new and different experience: a wall which was there before is there no more.
Usually the idea of God is before us like everything else, including ourselves. It is before us in the space of our conscious­ness as a concept or thought. This concept of God affects us, moves us to love, or exhorts us to certain actions. In the experi­ence which we are discussing, the barrier of thought disappears and gives place to immediate and direct awareness.
This, at first, may be most confusing. We feel moved in an entirely new way; we feel that we have been transported into a state hitherto unknown. Our intuition tells us that this is God or at any rate connected with Him. This intimation may frighten us. We do not know whether we dare presume that this intuition is true and we are uncertain what to do. However, the intuition becomes a certainty, even an absolute certainty which leaves no room for doubt. The doubts may come afterwards when, for exam­ple, we discover that our usual ideas about the inner life have lost their meaning or when we discover that other people have no knowledge of these things.
Another element of confusion is that we lack the words to describe our experience. We know what it is but we also know that it cannot be conveyed in words — not only because it is so great and powerful, but simply because there is no expression for it. We can merely say something like: “It is holy; it is close; it is more important than anything else; it is sufficient in itself; it is quiet, tender, simple; it is almost nothing and yet it is everything — it is He.” We could put it this way, yet know that it would convey nothing to our listener unless he also had experienced it.

Don Bosco's Popes: St. Pius X

The following comes from

Joseph Sarto was born at Riese (Treviso) on 2nd June 1835. He was elected Pope on 4th August 1903. He died on 20th August 1914 and was canonised on 29th May 1954. Not just as Pope, but also as priest, bishop and patriarch, he gave evidence of his good will towards the Salesian Society When he was a Canon, he met with the Founder in Turin on 15th August 1875; he sat at table with the Saint, was enrolled amongst the Salesian Cooperators and left much edified. A few days after he became Pope, he sent Don Rua a letter with a blessing on the Salesian Society. On 23rd July 1907 he signed the decree introducing the apostolic process for John Bosco, and on the 10th February 1914, did the same for Dominic Savio. In 1903 he promoted Bishop Cagliero as the titular Archbishop of Sebaste and in 1908 nominated him as Apostolic Delegate to Central America. He was the first Salesian Cooperator to be elevated to the honour of the Altars.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

How He Loves by David Crowder (w/ Matt Chandler & John Piper)

How He Loves - David Crowder (w/ Matt Chandler & John Piper) from Fiti Oameni on Vimeo.

Padre Pio, Bernard of Clairvaux and the Shoulder Wound of Christ

The following comes from Kathy Schiffer at Aleteia:

What do medieval mystic St. Bernard of Clairvaux and modern monk St. Padre Pio have in common? Well, they’re both saints, sharing in the eternal reward that God has prepared for them. But beyond that, both had a sincere devotion to the Shoulder Wound of Christ.

SAINT BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX, the French abbott and mystic who helped renew the Cistercian Order in the 12th century, related in the annals of Clairvaux a conversation he’d had with our Lord. He prayed, asking Jesus which was his greatest unrecorded suffering; and the Lord answered him:

“I had on My Shoulder while I bore My Cross on the Way of Sorrows, a grievous Wound that was more painful than the others, and which is not recorded by men. Honor this Wound with thy devotion, and I will grant thee whatsoever thou dost ask through its virtue and merit. And in regard to all those who shall venerate this Wound, I will remit to them all their venial sins and will no longer remember their mortal sins.”

ST. PIO OF PIETRELCINA, Capuchin friar, priest and mystic, died in 1968. Padre Pio was known as a confessor and a holy man who for more than 50 years bore the wounds of Christ (the stigmata) on his hands and feet.

In a book published in the Italian language by St. Pio’s friary, titled Il Papa e Il Frate, author Stefano Campanella reported that the future St. Pio had once had a very interesting conversation with Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope St. John Paul II.

According to Campanella, Fr. Wojtyla asked Padre Pio which of his wounds caused the most pain. Fr. Wojtyla expected Padre Pio to say that it was his chest wound; but instead Padre Pio replied, “It is my shoulder wound, which no one knows about and has never been cured or treated.”

In 2008, 40 years after Padre Pio’s death, author Frank Rega wrote about Padre Pio:
At one time Padra [sic] had confided to Brother Modestino Fucci, now the doorkeeper at Padre Pio’s friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, that his greatest pains occurred when he changed his undershirt. Brother Modestino, like Father Wojtyla, thought that Padre Pio was referring to pains from the chest wound. Then, on February 4, 1971, Brother Modestino was assigned the task of taking an inventory of all the items in the deceased Padre’s cell in the friary, and also his belongings in the archives. That day he discovered that one of Padre Pio’s undershirts bore a circle of bloodstains in the area of the right shoulder.
On that very evening, Brother Modestino asked Padre Pio in prayer to enlighten him about the meaning of the bloodstained undershirt. He asked Padre to give him a sign if he truly bore Christ’s shoulder wound. Then he went to sleep, awakening at 1 a.m. with a terrible, excruciating pain in his shoulder, as if he had been sliced with a knife up to the shoulder bone. He felt that he would die from the pain if it continued, but it lasted only a short time. Then the room became filled with the aroma of a heavenly perfume of flowers — the sign of Padre Pio’s spiritual presence — and he heard a voice saying, “This is what I had to suffer!”

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, after receiving the message from Christ regarding the pain he experienced in his shoulder, sought to foster devotion to the Shoulder Wound of Christ, and penned this prayer:

Prayer to the Shoulder Wound of Christ

Most loving Jesus, meek Lamb of God, I, a miserable sinner, salute and worship the most Sacred Wound of Thy Shoulder on which Thou didst bear Thy heavy Cross which so tore Thy flesh and laid bare Thy Bones as to inflict on Thee an anguish greater than any other wound of Thy Most Blessed Body. I adore Thee, O Jesus most sorrowful; I praise and glorify Thee, and give Thee thanks for this most sacred and painful Wound, beseeching Thee by that exceeding pain, and by the crushing burden of Thy heavy Cross to be merciful to me, a sinner, to forgive me all my mortal and venial sins, and to lead me on towards Heaven along the Way of Thy Cross. Amen.

Saint of the Day: Bernard of Clairvaux

Today is the feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux! a Cistercian and founder of the abbey at Clairvaux. The following is from the Ecole Glossary:

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153 AD) was born into nobility in Burgundy, France and was educated at the school of secular canons in the town of Chatillon-sur-Seine. At the age of twenty-three, he entered the Cistercian abbey of Citeaux near Dijon. Bernard spent a short time at Citeaux before being asked to found the monastery of Clairvaux and become its abbot. His success at Clairvaux prompted Pope Innocent II to call on him to intervene in a conflict between Innocent and the antipope Anacletus in 1133 and 1137. Once again successful, Bernard was drawn further from the cloister into the public life of the Church. He spent the next fifteen years condemning heretics and instituting religious reform until 1147 when Pope Eugenius III asked him to organize the Second Crusade. He lived to see the crusade fail and died shortly thereafter in 1153 at Clairvaux. Bernard wrote many spiritual treatises, including the celebrated On Loving God.

You can read more about St. Bernard at the Patron Saints Index!

Friday, August 19, 2016

He Knows My Name by Francesca Battistelli

Mother Teresa on Loneliness and Love

"There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives, the pain and the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor may be right in your family. Find them and love them!" 

Blessed Mother Teresa

Padre Pio on Anxiety

Wisdom of Padre Pio: “Do not anticipate the problems of this life with apprehension, but, rather, with a perfect hope that God, to whom you belong, will free you from them accordingly. He has defended you up to now. Simply hold on tightly to the hand of his divine providence, and he will help you in all events, and when you are unable to walk, he will lead you; don’t worry . . . Don’t think about tomorrow’s events because the same heavenly Father who takes care of you today will do the same tomorrow and forever.

“Live tranquilly. Remove from your imagination that which upsets you, and often say to the Lord, “Oh, God, you are my God, and I will trust in you. You will assist me and be my refuge, and I will fear nothing . . . “ 

Saint of the day: John Eudes