Friday, February 23, 2018

MODERN MARIA GORETTI

Soon to be Blessed, VERONICA ANTAL  was a Romanian Roman Catholic professed member from the Secular Franciscan Order and member of the Militia Immaculatae. She was known for her strong faith and her love for the Mother of God. She had long desired to enter the religious life as a nun but settled on the Secular Franciscans after the communist regime suppressed convents and monasteries in Romania. Since her death she has been known as both "Saint Veronica" and has also been titled as the "Maria Goretti of Romania" due to the manner of her death similar to that of St. Maria.


Veronica Antal was born on 7 December 1935 in BoteČ™ti, the first of four children to George and Eva. Her parents spent so much time at work in the fields that her grandmother Zarafina raised her and instructed her in the faith  and it was in her childhood that her devotion to the Blessed Virgin was manifested.

Her schooling was spent in her hometown from age seven where she earned good grades before leaving to join her parents to work in the fields. When she was sixteen that she desired to enter the convent as a Franciscan nun and  to help children.  Her longing never materialized because the communist regime had suppressed all convents and monasteries in Romania.

Instead she joined the Secular Franciscan Order  making a private vow to remain chaste. Veronica walked five miles to the nearest church just so that she could receive the Eucharist. She also joined the Militia Immaculatae that St Maximilian Kolbe founded. Not long before her death she began reading about St Maria Goretti and confided later to two friends that she wished to act much like the saint.


Veronica  on left

On the evening of 24 August 1958 she returned from her local parish after having just received Confirmation when Pavel Mocanu began to harass her en route home. He made indecent proposals to her and then attacked her in a vain effort to rape her. But Veronica fended him off to the point he stabbed her to death with a knife 42 times.

 Her parents grew alarmed that she had not returned home so searched for her. Laborers en route to work discovered her corpse in the middle of a field on  August 26 and discovered one of her rosaries clasped in her hands. Her face was downwards covered in blood with a cross of corn pods on her back. Her funeral was celebrated on 27 August. 


Her beatification cause opened in 2003 and she became a Servant of God. Pope Francis confirmed that she died to preserve herself as a virgin against evil which confirmed her beatification (as opposed to needing a miracle). 

The beatification will occur in Romania pending formal confirmation of a date and location.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

HIS BODY GIVEN

I am going to use the theme of the Holy Eucharist this Lent- leading us to Holy Thursday. For me, many of the ills in our world and especially in our Church are due to a lack of understanding of Christ’s greatest gift to us in His own Body and Blood. If we really believed that what He left us before His death, is truly His Body and Blood, there would be more true joy in our lives, and in the world. I remember my mother, who never converted to the Catholic faith, telling my brother Jeff and I after one of our squabbles:  if I believed what you do, I would not be in this trouble!






When I taught CCD to teens on another island, I would ask them if they would crawl to the bank through muck if they knew there was $10,000 waiting for them.  All agreed they would.  Then I asked- how much more would they go on  Sunday to receive the Body of their God?

"By a beautiful paradox of Divine love, God makes His Cross the very means of our salvation and our life. We have slain Him; we have nailed Him there and crucified Him; but the Love in His eternal heart could not be extinguished. He willed to give us the very life we slew; to give us the very Food we destroyed; to nourish us with the very Bread we buried, and the very Blood we poured forth. He made our very crime into a happy fault; He turned a Crucifixion into a Redemption; a Consecration into a Communion; a death into Life Everlasting,"

                                     Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen  (This is the Mass)

Friday, February 16, 2018

AN UNCOMMON WOMAN

We sometimes think we have it hard, but then we read about the life of a religious 
who knew  real bigotry in her life, in spite of her dedication to others.


MOTHER THERESA  was born Marie Almeide Maxis Duchemin in Baltimore to a Haitian mother and a white father who never acknowledged her. She was raised by her mother, a free woman, who worked as a nurse.

Almaide was raised by her mother’s guardians, the Duchemin family. She was immersed in the French language and culture of the Haitian refugee community and received an education uncommon to most women of the time. She was a favorite pupil in the school operated by Elizabeth Lange and Marie Magdaleine Balas, in the Fells Point neighborhood of the city, and soon came under their care.

In 1829, at age nineteen, Almeide became one of the founding members of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first religious community for African-American women. At the start she was the only American-born member. She took the religious name of Theresa, and later served as Mother Superior.


In 1831, when a cholera epidemic struck Baltimore, the Oblates helped nurse the sick. In the process Theresa’s mother, who had also joined the community, died of the disease. While the city fathers publicly thanked the white sisters for their service, they ignored the Oblates altogether. During the 1840’s, the community experienced a major crisis as ecclesiastical authorities tried to disband it. At that time  Mother Theresa, who was seven-eighths white, seems to have made a decision to no longer identify with her African-American heritage and left the Oblates.

 Soon thereafter she met a young Belgian Redemptorist priest named Louis Florent Gillet, who was looking for sisters to teach in Monroe, Michigan.  

Fr. Louis & Mother Theresa

In November 1845, Sister Theresa and Father Gillet founded the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (I.H.M.). She became the first Mother Superior. Over the next decade, the Sisters opened several schools and orphanages in Michigan. In 1858, they  opened schools in Pennsylvania. In doing so, they incurred the wrath of Detroit’s Bishop, Peter Paul Lefevre, who used his authority to depose Mother Theresa. The bishop knew about her racial background, and prejudice played a big part in his animosity toward her.

After the bishop in Pennsylvania refused to take her, she became an exile without a community. She was forced to take refuge in Canada with the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart. For nearly twenty years  Mother Theresa lived with them, but she always considered herself a Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In 1885, Bishop James Wood of Philadelphia lifted the ban, and at age seventy-five, Mother Theresa was allowed to return to the community she had founded. Few founders of a religious community have followed, as one historian puts it, “so tortuous a path.”


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

CHAMPIONS OF ANOTHER KIND

As we watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics, the hope of peace between North and South Korea was uppermost in our hearts and we were reminded of champions of another kind on that same soil with the KOREAN MARTYRS.



Korea’s first priest, Andrew Kim Taegon, was born 1821 into an aristocratic Korean family that eventually included three generations of Catholic martyrs. St. Andrews great-grandfather died for his Catholic faith in 1814, decades before the first Catholic missionary priests arrived on the peninsula from France.

“The first Christian community in Korea [is] a community unique in the history of the Church by reason of the fact that it was founded entirely by lay people,” said John Paul II at the canonization of 103 Korean martyrs, including Andrew Kim Taegon, in 1984.

“The splendid flowering of the Church in Korea today is indeed the fruit of the heroic witness of the martyrs. Even today, their undying spirit sustains the Christians in the Church of silence in the North of this tragically divided land,” said  St. John Paul II at the martyrs’ 1984 canonization.

St. Andrew Kim traveled over 1,000 miles to attend seminary in Macau. While he was away at seminary, his father, Ignatius Kim Chae-jun, was martyred for his faith in 1839.




After St. Andrew was ordained in Shanghai in 1845, he returned to his homeland to begin catechizing Koreans in secret. Only 13 months later, he was arrested.
In his final letter from prison before he was tortured and beheaded, he wrote to Korean Christians:

"Dearest brothers and sisters: when he was in the world, the Lord Jesus bore countless sorrows and by His own passion and death founded His Church; now He gives it increase through the sufferings of His faithful. No matter how fiercely the powers of this world oppress and oppose the Church, they will never bring it down. Ever since His Ascension and from the time of the apostles to the present, the Lord Jesus has made His Church grow even in the midst of tribulations...I urge you to remain steadfast in faith, so that at last we will all reach heaven and there rejoice together. I embrace you all in love."

“St. Andrew Kim Taegon exhorted believers to draw from divine love the strength to remain united and to resist evil,” said Pope St. John Paul II on his third and final papal trip to South Korea, in 2001.

During a century in which an estimated 10,000 Christians were martyred in Korea during waves of persecution by the Chosun Dynasty, Christianity continued to grow.

In 1989, at South Korea’s Olympic Gymnastics Hall, Saint John Paul II again pointed young people to look to those martyrs, as the Korean people continued to grapple with the peninsula’s division.

“Your martyrs, many of them of your own age, were much stronger in their suffering and death than their persecutors in their hatred and violence. Violence destroys; love transforms and builds up. This is the challenge which Christ offers to you, young people of Korea, who wish to be instruments of true progress in the history of your country. Christ calls you, not to tear down and destroy, but to transform and build up!” the Pope said.

“The Korean nation is symbolic of a world divided and not yet able to become one in peace and justice,” the Pontiff said on the same papal trip, “yet there is a way forward. True peace – the shalom which the world urgently needs – springs eternally from the infinitely rich mystery of God’s love.”




“As Christians we are convinced that Christ’s Paschal Mystery makes present and available the force of life and love which overcomes all evil and all separation,” St. John Paul II continued. “the Eucharist is the sacrament of Christ’s “peace” because it is the memorial of the salvific redemptive sacrifice of the Cross.”

Monday, February 12, 2018

A REAL CATHOLIC COLLEGE



WYOMING CATHOLIC COLLEGE is marking its 10th anniversary this school year. The school’s distinctive combination of a Great Books curriculum and strong formation in the Catholic faith with outdoor learning is the kind of education I would have wanted in my youth. Horseback riding, hiking, canoeing as part of the general studies- are you kidding?


One of our early and most beloved land program men is now a professor of philosophy there, and a recent land program woman graduated from WCC a few years ago.  Another young woman, whom we hope is the future of religious life at OLR, is presently a student there.

WCC whose official founding is Aug. 25,  is one of the newest additions to the small group of faithfully Catholic colleges in the United States. It is perhaps most similar to Thomas Aquinas College in California (another college where we have had LP youth come to work & study with us). Both schools have a Great Books program. 

But Wyoming Catholic stands out for its near-total ban on campus cellphone (my kind of place) use among students and its heavy emphasis on the outdoors as a place to nurture the virtues, grow in faith and better appreciate the timeless wisdom of the classics of Western literature. Approximately 60 percent of students attend daily Mass, and all attend Sunday Mass. A sizable number of students have expressed interest in a priestly or religious vocation, our Hannah being one of them.

Wyoming Catholic College in Lander uses the town's sole Catholic church and accompanying facilities as an interim campus. Access to Lander isn’t easy. Students typically fly into Salt Lake City or Denver. Riverton, only slightly larger than Lander, has a regional airport with daily flights into and out of Denver International Airport. Around breaks and holidays, students volunteer to help transport people to Denver and Salt Lake.

WCC is the only private four-year institution of higher education in the state. The college takes no federal aid money, which means the govt. can't tell them how to run things!  The faculty is 100% Catholic ( I honestly wonder how these supposedly Catholic Universities can call themselves Catholic when they have non- Catholics teaching Philosophy & Theology).and the student body  is 98% Catholic.   In the spring of 2016, WCC became the second college in the nation to accept the Classic Learning Test (CLT) as an alternative to the SAT and ACT for college admissions.


Interestingly enough all freshmen spend 21 days in an intensive wilderness survival program as their first weeks of school, where they hone time management and communications skills and bond with their classmates. Students participate in some kind of an outdoor trip be it camping in the desert, ice climbing or building snow caves,  on average once a semester during their four years at the school.

Bishop Ricken, the former bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming, said the idea for the college was born out of a dinner conversation with Father Robert Cook, a local parish priest, and Robert Carlson, a professor in the humanities. Carlson had been a student of John Senior, an influential Catholic scholar at the University of Kansas who had written about the importance of re-engaging contemporary students with the natural world.

In the course of their conversation, Bishop Ricken voiced his concerns about how the Church was losing its young people. He wanted a way to reach out to them. Inspired by the work of a Newman Center at a local Wyoming college, they decided to launch a summer seminar on Catholic thought, which served as a pilot program for Wyoming Catholic College.


“Just beginning a college is a huge enterprise, as you might imagine, and we started from scratch,” Bishop Ricken said. One of the first steps was an advertisement in the Wyoming Catholic Register seeking land. Bishop Ricken said the founders received 47 responses: Seven wanted to give the college the land it needed; the others were offering it at a discounted price.


We need more truly Catholic colleges if we are to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life, as well as nurturing Catholic families.


Saturday, February 10, 2018

WORLD DAY of the SICK


February 11 is the 26th World Day of the Sick, a commemoration instituted by St. John Paul II. The World Day of the Sick takes place each year on the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes.



The title of Pope Francis’s message for the day is “Mater Ecclesiae [Mother of the Church]: ‘Behold, your son... Behold, your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.’“ (Jn 19:26-27)

In his letter instituting the commemoration, St. John Paul wrote that the day should be “a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one’s suffering for the good of the Church and of reminding everyone to see in his sick brother or sister the face of Christ who, by suffering, dying, and rising, achieved the salvation of mankind.”


“To Mary, Mother of tender love, we wish to entrust all those who are ill in body and soul, that she may sustain them in hope.  We ask her also to help us to be welcoming to our sick brothers and sisters.  The Church knows that she requires a special grace to live up to her evangelical task of serving the sick.  May our prayers to the Mother of God see us united in an incessant plea that every member of the Church may live with love the vocation to serve life and health.  



May the Virgin Mary intercede for this Twenty-sixth World Day of the Sick; may she help the sick to experience their suffering in communion with the Lord Jesus; and may she support all those who care for them.  To all, the sick, to healthcare workers and to volunteers, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.” (Pope Francis)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

ANOTHER SAINT WE KNEW

The Holy Father has certainly been busy this month, giving us more new saints!  February 6. the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved the second miracle needed for the canonization of BLESSED POPE PAUL VI,  (See BLOG  5/15/2014) allowing his canonization to take place, possibly later this year.



The next step is for Pope Francis to also give his approval, with an official decree from the Vatican. Then the date for the canonization can be set. The canonization may take place in October of this year, during the Synod of Bishops on the youth.


The miracle attributed to the cause of Paul VI is the healing of an unborn child in the fifth month of pregnancy. The case was brought forward in 2014 for study.
The mother, originally from the province of Verona, Italy, had an illness that risked her own life and the life of her unborn child, and was advised to have an abortion.

A few days after the beatification of Paul VI on Oct. 19, 2014, she went to pray to him at the Shrine of Holy Mary of Grace in the town of Brescia. The baby girl was later born in good health, and remains in good health today.

The healing was first ruled as medically inexplicable by the medical council of the congregation last year, while the congregation's consulting theologians agreed that the healing occurred through the late pope's intercession.



The miracle for Paul VI's canonization echoes that of his beatification. That first miracle took place in the 1990s in California. A then-unborn child was found to have a serious health problem that posed a high risk of brain damage. Physicians advised that the child be aborted, but the mother entrusted her pregnancy to Paul VI.

The child was born without problems and is now a healthy adolescent. He is considered to be completely healed.

Pope Paul VI was born Giovanni Montini in 1897 in the town of Concesio in the Lombardy region of Italy. He was ordained a priest at the age of 22. He served as Archbishop of Milan before his election as Pope in 1963. He died in 1978.
As pope, he oversaw much of the Second Vatican Council, which had been opened by Pope St. John XXIII. He also promulgated a new Roman Missal in 1969.



Pope Paul VI published the encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968, which reaffirmed the Church’s teaching against contraception and reaffirmed the merits of priestly celibacy.