Tag Archives: saints

Saving Santa Claus

Santa’s coming to town for Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Parade. From the parade he’ll go into the store  for Black Friday and be there for the rest of the days till Christmas.

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But Santa Claus is more than a saleman, isn’t he? He’s a saint– Saint Nicholas. He reminds us Christmas is for giving rather than getting. His story of quiet giving mirrors God’s love shown in Jesus Christ.

Telling his story is one of the ways we can save Santa Claus from being captured by Macys and Walmart and all the rest. First, take a look at our version for little children. Then, you might want to go on to our  modest contribution for bigger children– like us:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADevygB9jNs

Morning Thoughts: Who is Paul of the Cross?

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Who is Paul of the Cross?

He’s a saint, canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867.

He’s the founder of the Passionists , a religious community of priests, brothers, sisters, and laypeople.

He lived in northern and central Italy during most of the 18th century and was originally called Paul Francesco Danei.

There are books written about him. His letters have been collected and printed in large, thick volumes. And time on the internet will easily identify many short biographical sketches, prayers, and sayings. There is also much available about the Passionists, and their life after the death of Saint Paul of the Cross—their growth, history, struggles, saints, and their current configuration, focus, and works.

There are also the many individual members of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, living today and based all around the world, and they each have their own story to tell.

But there is also the man named Paul.

And somehow this kind, gentle, humble, and beautifully-flawed human being seems to get lost in all this.

His weaknesses greatly interest me.

Christ’s courage and strength in and through him inspire me.

If we prayerfully put aside the constitutions, the history, the legacy, and even his incredibly personal and guidance-filled letters (that he never intended anyone other than the recipients to read) we just may find a stripped-down saint whose essence and example we badly need in times such as these.

We just may find what we find in each and every great man and woman of God throughout Christian history—that same occurrence that appears again and again through the lives of our brothers and sisters who have truly renounced all their possessions in order to become true disciples of Christ.

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In Saint Paul of the Cross we just may find…

…a cold, naked infant in a cradle, desperate for his mother’s breast…

…a frightened and insecure child running to keep pace with the visions of his father…

…a tired, distraught, beaten-down young man offering his life for the benefit of his brothers…

We just may find ourselves.

Or we may find someone that we used to know.

Or we may find someone that we should get to know.

But what really matters is that we find the Word made flesh.

And that is the heart of the matter. The fleshy heart that matters.

For while hearts of stone are hard to wound, they are not really hearts at all. They are the hearts of the walking dead, of those whom Jesus Himself says, “let the dead bury their dead.”

Jesus wants our hearts, our entire hearts. He wants undivided, tenderized hearts. Soft and fleshy hearts.

Yes, that type of heart is easily pierced, but in being wounded they are transformed, in being merciful they begin to bleed, and in forgiving they become His. They become sacred. Our hearts become His Most Sacred Heart.

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The saints show us Jesus. They show us ourselves. They show us where we come from, where we currently need to stand, and where it is that we should go.

And the answer is always the same: With God.

Born of a virgin. Dying on a cross. Raised from the dead. Ascending into Heaven.

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I am no expert on Saint Paul of the Cross. But I am his friend, and he has been very good to me. And I hope that you get to know him too.

As far as me telling you more about Paul Danei, you probably fall into one of three categories: you already know the details, you have never even heard of him, or you are about to meet a man with a striking resemblance.

For you see, the best thing I can say about Paul is that he is a lot like Jesus—a man in history but not met through it, a man who wore a robe but not defined by it, a man who submitted himself to the law but didn’t let that stop him from transcending it.

A man who at the end of the day, knows that it is all about love.


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—Howard Hain

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Saints of Korea

We celebrate the feast of the Korean saints Andrew Kim, Paul Chong and companions today. Pope John Paul II called the Korean church unique, because it was founded by laypeople. In the 17th century, when that country was isolated from the rest of the world, some laymen traveling to Peking learned about Christianity from some books they found there and were converted.

They returned to their country and practiced the faith without any priests. The first priests to arrive there were quickly martyred. In the late 18th and 19th century over 10,000 Korean laypeople, husbands and wives and their children, were martyred.

The feast provides a wonderful endorsement of the role of the laity in the church. The earliest Christian martyrs were often bishops and priests, because the governments thought the church could be exterminated or controlled by eliminating its leadership.

This feast  reminds us that laypeople can bring the faith to others and make it grow and endure even through persecution. And they will give their lives for it.

God bless this church, Here’s more about the Korean martyrshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiBQ0XpJ4ew

Father Theodore Foley, CP

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Fr. Theodore Foley, whom I knew and lived with in community, may take his place among the saints someday. He died October 9, 1974. Here’s a summary of his life.

He was born in 1913 in Springfield, Massachusetts into a devout Catholic family.  He went to Catholic schools and experienced a vibrant Catholic life in Sacred Heart parish in the north end of Springfield.

As a young boy of 14 he was attracted to the missionary spirit and spirituality of the Passionist community. Entering the Passionists, he was ordained a priest in 1940 and became one of its best spiritual guides and teachers of theology.

In 1958 Father Theodore went to Rome to be a general consultor for the worldwide Passionist community. In 1964 he became its superior general. He led his community through the turbulent decades of the 1960s and 70s when social unrest, political confrontations, assassinations, anti-establishment and anti-war demonstrations began shaking the western world and the Catholic Church.

As traditional values came into question and church membership (including membership in his own community) began to decline, he was a rock of hope to those shaken by the times.

A participant in the Second Vatican Council, Father Theodore took up its challenge and worked tirelessly to bring the message of Jesus Christ to the world. Seeking new opportunities to do God’s will, he traveled to Asia and Africa to extend the missionary outreach of his community. He also promoted the study of the Passion of Jesus as a remedy for a world in danger of forgetting God.

For him a perilous time like ours was not a reason to do nothing. It’s a time for “God’s purification in our lives and we have to accept it and do our best for the future of the congregation and our church.”

While furthering new ventures in Africa, he contracted a deadly virus which on his return to Rome caused his death on October 9, 1974.

A gentle man, faithful to prayer and unfailingly kind to others, Father Theodore believed that God is always at work in our world, even in bad times. The mystery of the passion of Jesus, which he kept constantly before his eyes, nourished in him a steady hope that God leads us on, no matter how dark life seems to be.
https://vimeo.com/19438932

A hope like his is a hope to pray for today. Father Theodore is a candidate for canonization, and here’s a prayer that his cause succeeds:

Prayer for the Beatification of Fr. Theodore Foley, CP

 

Lord Jesus Christ,

You called Theodore Foley to follow you to Calvary’s heights as a Passionist priest and through your Immaculate and Sorrowful Mother taught him to fulfill your Father’s will by loving God and neighbor.

Let his life inspire us to a life of deeper virtue.

We humbly ask you to glorify your servant Father Theodore according to the designs of your holy will and through his intercession, grant the request I now present to you. (here mention  your request). Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

Be Holy!

What does it mean to be holy today, Pope Francis asks in his recent Letter “Gaudete et Exultate.” We’re called to holiness, God calls us. Jesus Christ is with us and saints encourage us to achieve that call. There’s a ”great cloud of witnesses” the Letter to the Hebrews says, and we’re called to be in that number.

Don’t miss “the saints next door,” the pope says. “These witnesses may include our own mothers, grandmothers or other loved ones (cf. 2 Tim 1:5). Their lives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failings they kept moving forward and proved pleasing to the Lord.”

Canonized saints are not the only ones who are holy, Francis says. “I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church militant. Very often it’s a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them “the middle class of holiness”. (7]

The pope’s interested in ordinary holiness, and he has a gift for speaking about it. .

We are all called to be holy. “Each in his or her own way,” the Vatican Council says. Each of us has to discern God’s call; we must find our own path, discover the gifts God gives us. We don’t have to follow someone else’s path or have someone else’s gifts. To be holy means to grow with the gifts God gives us.

Some may think only those who have a church calling can be holy. We may think only those who belong to our religious tradition can be holy. Not so, Francis says, It’s a universal call.

You can read Gaudete and Exultate online at the Vatican website. Worth reading. It’s Francis at his best.

Passionist Saints

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 The Passionists, are a small and relatively new community in the Roman Catholic Church, but we have a good number of canonized saints and members proposed for canonization. Beginning with our founder, St. Paul of the Cross, who died in 1774, each generation of Passionists has produced men and women recognized for their holiness.

We’re hoping Father Theodore Foley who died in 1974 may join the ranks of Passionist saints such as Paul of the Cross, Vincent Strambi, Gabriel Possenti, Dominic Barberi, Gemma Galgani,  Charles Houben, Isidore DeLoor and Eugene Bossilkov.

Saints are God’s answer to the poison of their times, and it’s important to see them as they oppose it. Saints are firm believers and examples of heroic virtue. They’re signs of God’s power in a sinful world and God marks them out as saints through miracles performed through their intercession.

For example, St. Paul of the Cross was an antidote to the forgetfulness of the passion of Jesus which followed the Enlightenment, a 17th century movement that denied or minimized the role of faith and religion in human life. We’re still feeling the effects of the Enlightenment today.

St. Vincent Strambi opposed the Enlightenment as it was expressed in the political schemes of Napolean Bonaparte, who tried to subordinate religion to his own dreams of European domination. Vincent was a brave Italian bishop who resisted the emperor and suffered for it.  Like him, the Bulgarian Bishop Eugene Bossilkov suffered and died under an oppressive Communist government in Bulgaria in the 20th century.

Gabriel Possenti resisted the lure of the Enlightenment in the 19th century. As a young man, he chose religious life rather than the inflated promises of success that tempted so many of his contemporaries.

Saints like Gemma, Isidore de Loor, Charles Houben seem to be people who fit St. Paul’s description of those called by God. They were not wise by human standards, they don’t have a lot of human power, they’re not of noble birth. They’re “the weak of the world God chooses to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1, 23-28)

Our Passionist saints tend to be ordinary people, of no special note, easily unnoticed and misunderstood, subject to the sufferings, disappointments and failures that come in life. God chooses them to be signs that he does not abandon his people and, in fact, can do great things through them. Charles Houben was a healer. Gemma bore the signs of Jesus’ passion in her body.

It takes awhile to know saints like these. That may be because we often don’t understand our own times and the poison afflicting it.

Friday Thoughts: Heaven Touching Earth

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The sound of heaven touching earth is silence.

For silence is the absence of interruption.

And in heaven there is continual praise. A constant, perpetual, ceaseless, indescribable continuation of everything good. There is no interruption of absolute goodness. No interruption of peace or prayer, no interruption of joy or love.

In heaven, then, the eternal roar may perhaps be so inadequately described as an incomprehensible silence—a silence that blissfully deafens.

Deafens us to any pain or fear.

Deafens us to even the thought, the idea, or the conception that there could be any pain or fear.

So then when heaven touches earth, does not that same awesome eternal silence also reign here too, as it does in heaven?

Silence reigns.


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—Howard Hain

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(image: Louis Cretey, “The Vision of Saint Bruno”, late 17th century)