Padre Pio

Today is the memorial of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina (1887 – 1968). Padre Pio was a Capuchin Franciscan who was loved by thousands, perhaps even millions of people. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in June 2002.

A deeply spiritual friar, Padre Pio offered Masses regularly that went on for three hours or more. He spent incredible amounts of time in private prayer and adoration of the most Blessed Sacrament. Additionally, he spent hours upon end in the confessional counseling, forgiving and assisting people from all over the world.

Our Lord blessed Padre Pio with a collection of supernatural gifts:

  • For instance, he could read the souls of those who confessed to him, and on occasion would point out to them if they were hiding the confession of a sin.
  • He was known to be in two places at one time (bilocation).
  • He was a mystic and had visions and ecstasies.
  • Perhaps more than anything else, he was famous for having the stigmata for over 50 years.

St. Francis also received the stigmata, a gift of inexplicable grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. To bear the wounds that He bore, and to experience, even slightly, the suffering that He did is a mark of incredible holiness, and incredible closeness to our Lord. (remember that the word compassion means “to suffer with”)

You can read more about the stigmata here. It is interesting to note that the majority of saints who have received the stigmata have been women.

Pray for us, Padre Pio – that we may take up our cross each day and follow our Lord Jesus Christ more closely, more willingly and with greater humility.

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Our father among the Saints . . .

John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople . . .

Today is the feast day of John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church. The name ‚Chrysostom translates from Greek as ‚“golden mouth‚” or ‚“golden throat,‚” a reference to his incredible preaching.

(this mosaic is from Hagia Sophia, tenth century)

Mistranslation has occasionally suggested that some of St. John‚’s writings were anti-Semitic; but this is not true. His Orations Against the Judaizers, is sometimes sloppily translated as Orations Against the Jews. Of course a reading of this work in context yields what in fact is a polemic against those in fourth-century Antioch who were trying to Judaize the Christian community.

Many consider John to be the finest Christian preacher. On many occasions his homilies would go on for hours, captivating the people and astonishing them with his oratorical skill.

He revised the Divine Liturgy that is used in Eastern Churches (both Orthodox & Catholic) even to this day.

All who preach ought to be inspired and moved by the abilities of this great saint. His teaching is clear, his exhortations thrilling, and his exegesis rock-solid.

Pray for us, O Golden-Mouthed One, that we might be inspired with your zeal for the Gospel!

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Happy Birthday Mary!

Today is the feast day that commemorates the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Joachim & Anne (the grandparents of Jesus have their own feast day, July 26th).

Obviously Mary played a crucial and essential role in salvation history. With her fiat, that is, her saying yes to God, she ushered into our world the greatest miracle of all, Immanuel, (“God with us”) the Incarnation of the Logos.

Some of the more important feasts of Mary are:

Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God – Jan 1st
Annunciation of the Lord – April 4th
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – May 31st
Nativity (birth) of the Blessed Virgin Mary – September 8th
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – August 8th
Immaculate Conception of Mary – December 8th

Tonight at our Faith Sharing get-together we will enjoy birthday cake in honor of Mary. St. Gerald Church has a vibrant and faith-filled Young Adult group.

Young Adult Ministry is a crucial area for the Catholic Church to focus on. This is traditionally the time in a person’s life when they are most apt to drift away from the practice of their faith. But it need not be that way – we simply must welcome the young adults we encounter and call them to active ministry in the Church.

Remember, our Lord Jesus first called twelve young adults to be his disciples. The Church was built on young people, and is sustained by them even today.

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Pope St. Gregory the Great

Today is the feast day of St. Gregory the Great, Pope & Doctor of the Church.

During a trip to Italy this Spring, two of my deacon brothers and I joined Monsignor Tom Fucinaro at St. Peter’s for Mass. (from left Deacon Doug Marsh, Deacon Tom Valasek, myself and Msgr. Fucinaro)

His body is entombed underneath the altar, behind the gold grate.

It was a special privledge for us to do so. St. Gregory is one many popes that was a deacon when he was elected, rather than a bishop or even a priest.

You might find it interesting that from 432 – 684 thirty-seven men were elected pope. Of those the breakdown was:

  • Only three of them were priest or bishops at the time of election
  • Thirty-four were deacons when they were elected

Like Gregory, a deacon elected pope is immediately ordained a priest, and then immediately ordained a bishop. It can even be during the same liturgy that both ordinations occur.

For Gregory it took only about three hours for him to be elected pope, be ordained twice, and then assume the office of the papacy.

Today it is at least theoretically possible for a deacon to be elected pope, but it hasn’t happened for a very, very long time. In fact, even a layman can be elected pope. If he was, he would be ordained a deacon, priest & bishop, all in succession and probably during the same Mass.

It’s not terribly likely though – usually the cardinal electors choose someone that is actually in the Sistine Chapel during the balloting (though they do not have to).

Pray for us, Pope St. Gregory the Great!

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He came to testify to the light

There was a man named John who was sent from God. He came to testify to the light. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light (Jn 1:6-8).

Today’s feast day is the obligatory memorial of the beheading of the glorious forerunner and precursor, John the Baptizer.

As is my custom, I usually serve as deacon at the morning Mass on feast days and solemnities. On very rare occasions I do it for a memorial.

I did it today to testify to the one who testified to the light. John was not the light, Jesus was. Chris was not the Precursor, John was. But every deacon ought to model themselves after John – we must be a voice crying out in the wilderness, “prepare the way of the Lord.”

John the Baptist is very close to me. He is the saint that I chose some 21 years ago as my confirmation patron. I didn’t even know exactly why I chose John, but I’m glad I did.

Throughout my years, I’ve admired John so very much. For these reasons:

  • Boldness – proclaiming the truth regardless of the consequences
  • Purity – lived on a simple diet and refrained from alcohol
  • Humility – “I am not worthy to untie his sandal straps. . . ”
  • Bravery – glorified our Lord Jesus even in his martyrdom

As I proclaimed the Gospel reading this morning, I shuddered as I read the words of his beheading.

There is something incredibly sickening about cutting off a human being’s head. Maybe that’s why terrorists use such a horrible method to strike fear in the mid-East. In some ways the wickedness and evil in some people hasn’t changed much from Palestine 2,000 years ago. Pray for the conversion of such ones. And pray for peace.

Pray for us, holy and glorious Forerunner – help us grown in boldness, purity, humility, & bravery.

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Role models galore

More saints are packed into this rich week of not-so-Ordinary Time:

  • Today is the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Tomorrow is the feast of St. Rose of Lima
  • Wednesday is the feast of St. Bartholomew
  • Thursday is the feast of St. Louis
  • Saturday is the feast of St. Monica

Wow — that’s a whole lot of role models packed into a week’s time. Maybe it would be fun to match a statement from below with the corresponding saint above? Give it a try:

  • was a third-order Dominican
  • martyrdom by flaying
  • King of France
  • a “woman clothed with the sun”
  • a devoted [and patient] mother – prayed twenty years to convert her son

How blessed we are to have such a rich collection of friends to inspire us.

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Not so "Ordinary Time"

Although we are in the middle of Ordinary Time (liturgically speaking), there are a number of important feasts for the next week or so. I’ll be saying a word or two about some of them:

  • Today – Friday, August 19 – St. John Eudes – founded a “non-order” – a group of priests and postulants that specialize in mission work and running seminaries. John thought that bishops would better trust priests under their direct jurisdiction over ones that belonged to a religious order. So he created the Eudists, a non-order that seems like an order!
  • Tomorrow, Saturday, August 20th – St. Bernard

No, not that St. BernardI mean St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 1153) – Abbot & Doctor of the Church. Bernard was a Cistercian monk from France who was a brilliant theologian, a prolific writer and a gifted and skilled preacher.

St. Bernard was a monk for forty years and founded (himself) an incredible 163 monasteries throughout Europe!

He was the first Cistercian placed on the Roman Calendar, in 1174 by Pope Alexander III.

St. John Eudes & St. Bernard of Clairvaux, pray for us!

  • PS: The breed is named for the mountain passage-way in Switzerland that connects Northern and Southern Europe. St. Bernard founded a monastery there, to minister to pilgrims. As such the pass itself was named after St. Bernard, as was the breed active in rescuing people. 163 monasteries and 1 dog breed, not a bad legacy!!!!

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