Saint of the Month: St. Medard

Saint Medard Patron Saint Against Bad Weather
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

I love sharing about lesser know Saints including my buddy, St, Medard, Bishop and patron saint of inclement weather and storms. This Saints has worked weather miracles on road-trips and other travel adventures which left my friend and loved ones scratching our heads in wonder.

B.  around 456 A.D.

D. 545 A.D

Feast Day: June 8th

Around 456 AD, St. Medard was born to a French nobleman named Nectardus and a Gallo- Roman woman Protagia in Salency, France. Protagia instilled in her son a deep compassion for the poor and suffering which at a young age Medard would offer his shoes, cloak, or other possessions to those he met along the way. Medard practiced fasting and penance such as with-staining from a meal or offering up his meal to others while looking after his father’s cattle.

St. Medard studied Scripture under the regional bishop’s tutelage. The bishop noticed his pupil displayed keen aptitude for learning, piety, prayer, obedience, and humility.  In 490 AD, St. Medard was ordained a priest and consecrated a bishop of Vermand in 530 AD where he moved the episcopal see to Noyons due to the possibility of invasion by the Huns or Vandals. He also assumed the Tournai diocese after their Bishop, St. Eleutherius died.

At the age of 89 int eh year 454 AD, St. Medard died of an illness. The kingdom mourned his death. St. Medard’s Day is celebrated on his feast day June 8th. A Benedictine Abby stands above his grave.

This patronage of inclement weather and bad storms comes from a legend. When he was a child, an eagle hovered over him and protected him from the rainy deluge. The faithful have invoked his intercession for centuries in regards to a variety of natural calamities. Whether you need a little help with literal or figurative stormy weather in your life, ask for the intercession of St. Medard.

St. Medard, pray for us!

Saint of the Month: St. Mark Ji Tianxiang

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Watching EWTN’s daily Mass with my Mom, we learned about an unique Saint with a profound story and witness. My monthly NFP update involves drug reactions; therefore, I decided to chose a saint of the month that lived heroic virtue in the face of unthinkable odds. St. Mark Ji Tianxiang died a martyr and an active opium addict. How does an active drug addict barred from the sacraments become a canonized saint? Heroic virtue.

A once respectable Chinese Christian with resources and educational advantages during 19th century China, Ji’s successful medical career including caring for the poor pro bono. He was a leader in the Chinese Christian community- respected and admired. He developed a volatile, painful stomach ailment which he self-treated with the treatment of the period- opium. This approved medical treatment turned into a full-fledged addiction. His life circumstances deteriorated under the weight of his addiction.

Ji fought against his addiction. He attended confession regularly. The cultural mindset and misunderstanding of the 19th century that drug addiction was not a disease but rather a lack of will caused his confessor to doubt his intention to sin no more and his resolve to repent (without the resolve to sin no more & repent the confession is invalid.) Since he kept confessing the same sin, the priest doubted his resolve to do better. After a few years, Ji’s confessor instructed him not to return until he could fulfill the requirements for confession. Drug abuse is sinful behavior, but drug abuse also is a complex disease of the mind and body. A concept unknown in the 19th century.

Ji didn’t abandon his faith. He couldn’t remain sober, but he could still be present with Our Lord. For 30 years (yes, you read that right) . . . 30 years Ji went to Mass unable to receive the sacraments due to his opium addiction. For 30 years, he prayed for a martyr’s death for he believed in that way only could he be saved.

The Boxer Rebellion of 1900 broke out. Chinese nationalists known as the Boxers, or the Militia United in Righteousness, expelled missionaries and persecuted Christians across China. Thirty-two thousand Chinese Christians and 200 foreign missionaries were killed. Ji and many of his village’s Christians, including his son, 6 grandkids, and 2 daughter-in-laws, were rounded up by authorities based on their Christian belief. Even while waiting in prison for their execution, Ji couldn’t break his addiction. Still, he was granted a heroic sense of perseverance.

Once taken to their place of execution, he begged his captures to execute him last so none of his family members would die alone. He stood beside all nine members of his family as they were beheaded. He went to his death singing the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was canonized on October 1, 2000 by St. John Paul II.

St. Mark Ji Tianxiang is a beautiful witness to the profound mystery of God’s mercy and how our sufferings can be turned into something profoundly good. His testimony to unwavering perseverance in his faith should kindle a fire in all our hearts. His witness brings hope to those suffering from addictions. May we all rely and believe in Christ’s mercy like St. Mark Ji.

St. Mark Ji Tianxiang, pray for us.

Feast Day: July 9th

 

 

 

 

Holy Person of the Month: Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, Patron of Chronically Catholic Blog

Photo Credit: cassiepeasedesign.com
Photo Credit: cassiepeasedesign.com

After 11 years of hoping and praying for a child, Ruggero and Maria Theresa Badano welcomed their daughter, Chiara Lucu, on October 29th, 1971. Born in the small Italian village of Sassello, she was considered a beautiful and simple child; Chiara exhibited an acute awareness and compassion for the poor and suffering, especially drug addicts and persons with mental illness. The simple, beautiful child grew into a vivacious and active youth filled with zest and love for life. She enjoyed swimming, outdoor actives, and socializing with friends. In 1980, Chiara became involved in the Focalare Movement and an active member in her local youth group. Chiara, though virtuous and unique, enjoyed being a modern teenager.

In 1988, while playing tennis, Chiara experienced excruciating pain in her shoulder, and soon received the diagnosed of osteogenic sarcoma- bone cancer. During her final two years, Chaira fulfilled her name’s mean “Clear Light” becoming a illuminating presence of joy in the midst of immense suffering. After an excruciating night, she stated, “I suffered a lot, but my soul was singing.” Even in her weakened state, Chiara’s presence touched many lives. One of her doctors remarked, “Through her smile, and through her eyes full of light, she showed us that death doesn’t exist; only life exists.” Intrigued by stories of this heroic teenager, Cardinal Saldarini visited her in the hospital and asked, “The light in your eyes is splendid. Where does it come from?” Chiara replied: “I try to love Jesus as much as I can.”

Chiara in the Hospital
Chiara in the Hospital

Even after she received her terminal diagnosis and during treatment, Chiara keenly understood the value of redemptive suffering. She often repeated the phrase, “If this is what you want, Jesus, so do I.” As Chiara’s beautiful locks fell out due to chemotherapy, she prayed as each strand fell, “For you, Jesus.”  She even refused pain management wanting to remain lucid. She explained, “I want to share as much as possible in His suffering on the cross.” Chiara befriended another adolescent struggling with depression and drug-dependency. Despite how painful walking was because of a large growth on her spine, Chiara walked with this girl; “I’ll have time to rest later.”

As her impending death approached, Chiara encouraged her mother, “When you’re getting me ready, Mum, you have to keep saying to yourself, ‘Chiara Luce is now seeing Jesus.’” With her friends and family present, Chiara Luce died October 7, 1990. Her last words were: “Goodbye. Be happy because I’m happy.” Her family buried her in a wedding dress as requested.

bl. Chiara Luce Badano When Chiara died, I was one year old. Her first confirmed miracle involved a young Italian boy dying from meningitis induced organ failure. His parent’s asked for Chiara’s intercession. A panel of doctors ruled that there was no medical explanation for the boy’s full recovery. On September 25, 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict VXI beatified Chiara Luce Badano- the first blessed from Generation X.

In the words of Chiara: “Previously I felt … the most I could do was to let go. Instead, now I feel enfolded in a marvelous plan of God, which is slowly being unveiled to me.”

Bl. Chiara Luce Badano, pray for us!

Why did I choose Bl. Chiara for my blog patron? I stumbled into her story and witness during a period of intense medical fragility and complexity in my life. I became dehabilitated. I was lost. More doors and windows were shut than opened. Then the Holy Spirit guided me to this young woman who died around the time I was born. I felt an instant connection. I felt hope. When I decided to chose a patroness for my blog, I chose her. I believe in the Communion of Saints. She helped me ad continues to intercede for me. And I want to share her heroic virtue and story with the world- even just a small corner. 

“The Vanier Way”

The Vanier Way Qoute

My mom and I watched a documentary on EWTN recently called the “Vanier Way.” A group of students from the Canadian Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School: “visit the L’Arche community in Trosly-Breuil, France, and immerse themselves in the culture as they partake in workshops in pottery, mosaics, and gardening.” (@EWTN) These disillusioned high school students visit Parisian and French cultural, religious, and historical sights as well as immersing themselves in a few different L’Arche communities around the Paris area. The students were more moved by the L’Arche community than the Eiffel tower. Why? Because they experienced authentic love and joy. They experienced real truth and beauty amid the broken, outcast, and “undesirables” of society.

“L’Arche was not my project, but God’s.”- Jean Vanier

The students are blessed to interact with the Founder Jean Vanier who established the first L’Arche community in the late 1960s outside Paris after visiting local asylums. A female friend suggested the term “L’Arche” or “The Ark” in English indicating a community where people with intellectual disabilities could create a new family and no longer hide in the shadows of society. In 1970, the first L’Arche community opened in India. In 1972, the first USA L’Arche home was founded in Erie, PA. Theologian and priest Henri Nouwen lived his last 10 years at a Toronto’s Daybreak L’Arche home. As the founder states, “L’Arche’s first seeds were planted in the earth of the Roman Catholic Church. Through God’s grace, other seeds were planted in other soils. . . L’Arche became ecumenical.” All L’Arche communities have a religious dimension to their community even in communities with those of severe intellectual disabilities. “Some communities are one religion, others are inter-denominational or inter-faith. Members are encouraged to grow in their spiritual journeys, and people who are not affiliated with a particular religious tradition are also welcomed and respected in their freedom of conscience.”

“Without this spiritual dimension and growth in holiness, L’Arche could become simply another group home. It would lose what makes it unique.”- Jean Vanier

The beauty of the documentary lies in the reactions of the high school students interacting with members of the community, how they process those interactions, and the transformative seeds planted. Another beautiful aspect is the insightful and authentic observation and story telling quality of Jean Vanier who speaks with a spiritual depth, peace, and humility few people evoke. He warns about the impact of social media (guilty here) and the power of “the tyranny of the Group.” And provides interacting on a human level with “the other” as an antidote against “the tyranny of the group.” These human interactions, absent of cell phones and social media shake us up and out of ourselves and illuminate the lies and pressure we follow so blindly with or without question.

The heart of the Vanier Way is simply the recognize and live in accordance with the profound recognition of the intrinsic dignity of every human being from conception to natural death regardless of form or function. Our job is to love. Love and be loved in return. To love without measure or degree. To love the lovable and unlovable. And to allow love to transform us and inform us. “Freedom exists for the sake of love.” – St. John Paul II

“Our community life is beautiful and intense, a source of life for everyone. People with a disability experience a real transformation and discover confidence in themselves; they discover their capacity to make choices, and also find a certain liberty and above all their dignity as human beings.” —Jean Vanier

May God bless you and keep you! You are more precious than you believe!

To learn more about the United State’s L’Arche community: LINK

To learn more about the  International L’Arche community: LINK

 

Towards the Top- Easter 2018

Verso l'alto

Holy Week and the Easter Season 2018 did not fall into my well-intended, personal plans. Instead God took me on another journey asking me to let go of the control I grasped onto over my spiritual life and the manner in which I desired to enter into Holy Week and the Easter Season. There is nothing fundamentally wrong about having a spiritual plan or goals: attending Holy Thursday Mass and Good Friday Service or fasting and abstaining in a certain way for Good Friday or even baking hot-cross buns for Holy Saturday. But what if God desires something different and potentially more challenging? Do I flounder kicking and screaming against the tide of grace or do I surrender and place myself within the current wherever I may drift? Thankfully, he granted me the grace necessary to remain calm and united with Him.

This may seem an extreme description, but let’s be honest, we tend to think we can and should control even our spiritual lives- the manner and timing in which God reaches us or invites us let alone makes any sort of demand from us. God should allow me to attend the Triduum in preparation for Easter. I’m a faithful Catholic. I say my prayers. I offer up my sacrifices. I follow the letter and spirit of the law. God should rewards me not only in a physical way (allowing me to attend Mass) but should also reward me in a spiritual manner (partaking in the sacraments.) But entering into Holy Week and the sacraments isn’t a reward for good behavior. My logic is flawed.

How did Jesus spend his Holy Week two-thousand plus years ago? He entered into Jerusalem riding on a donkey praised and exulted only to be sentence to a brutal death by these same individuals a few days later. He broke bread with his disciples and instituted the Eucharist knowing that they would betray and abandon him. He poured his heart and soul out to His heavenly Father in the Garden of Gethsemane and sweated blood all while his disciples slept. Once he was arrested, his trial involved multiple layers of Jewish and Roman involvement fueled by fear and false testimony. “The Rock” on which Christ would build his earthly Church (i.e., Peter) betrayed Him not once but three times. He experienced unimaginable and brutal mental, physical, and emotional torture all while evil taunted Him.

He drug, eventually with the assistance of Simon the Cyrenian, a monolithic cross up a hill while covered in open sores and abrasions only to be led each step closer to a tortuous death. In the midst of the ugliness, a few women and his mother, Our Lady, entered into his passion. Once nailed to the cross, where he would slowly suffocate to death by the weight of his own body, Christ still ministered to the criminals nailed beside him. One rejected him and the other embraced Him. His mother, Mary Magdalene, and the beloved apostle John stood at the foot of the cross while the other eleven apostles and many other disciples cowered in fear and abandoned him. One disciple would take his own life. His garments were gambled off. The people taunted him and his divine power and authority. In his final earthly moments, he bequeathed us His Mother as Our Own. Then he spoke, “It is finished.”

He spoke, “It is finished.” He did NOT speak, “Everything is finished. Nothing else remains.” No, his sacrificial act of love was the beginning. When God asks me to suffer in private during Holy Week, who am I to complain and question why? He asked His own beloved Son to do the same all those years before. His suffering resulted in the salvation of mankind. Am I Jesus or a savior? No. Absolutely not. But I believe in my heart that beneath my difficult Holy Week and Easter Season lies a deeper purpose and plan. A purpose and plan I may be unaware of until the day on which I am raised up and hopefully enter into the Kingdom of God.

I used the inscription by Blessed Giorgio Frassati to caption this post, because this man was a young and vivacious godly man who desire many goods in His earthly life, but died unexpectedly. An avid climber, Frassati captioned a climbing picture with the Italian phrase “Verso L’Alto” meaning “Towards the Top.” Whether God asks you to climb up the mountain or fall down the mountain and back up always strive “Towards the Top.”

How do we strive upwards? Meekness- a quiet strength. A virtue made more and more present in my life during this Lenten and Easter Season.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” -Matthew 5:5

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.”- Mathew 11:29

DIVINE MERCY NOVENA: DAY 6

Intention: Today bring to Me THE MEEK AND HUMBLE SOULS AND THE SOULS OF LITTLE CHILDREN, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. Only the humble soul is capable of receiving My grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.

Novena Prayers: Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, “Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart.” Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father’s favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages.

Amen.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate: Virtue Armor

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Lorica of Saint Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

St. Patrick (ca. 377)

*text from ewtn.com

 

St. Therese of Lisieux Novena

st-theresePlease, join me and over 200,000 other members of the Pray More Novenas community in praying this powerful novena to the Little Flower. St. Therese is known as the Little Flower. This is because those who receive miracles by her intercession are often given roses or flowers as a sign. She is sometimes called St. Therese of the Child Jesus as well. Though this beautiful, young woman, who died from TB at the age of 24, lived in a cloistered Discalced Carmelite convent, St. Therese is the patron saint of missions and missionaries for her “Little Way” spirituality and the many lives this saint has touched.

In the Words of my confirmation saint:

“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily
do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm.
If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.”

Below is an excerpt from Day 9 of the St. Therese Novena:

I love your people, Lord. Help me to love them more!
I reflect you to the world, Lord. Help me to reflect you more clearly!
I rely on you, Lord. Help me to rely on you more!
I accept your will, Lord. Help me to accept your will every day!
I try to forgive, Lord. Help me to forgive 70 times 7 times!
I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!
I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!
I trust you, Lord. Help me to trust you more!
I love you, Lord. Help me to love you more!

Please, join me tomorrow (Thursday) in invoking St. Therese, The Little Flower.

St. Joseph, Terror of Demons

Happy Feast Day of St. Joseph!

Tonight I discussed with a friend an unusual title of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary and Guardian of the Reedemer. St. Joseph, Terror of Demons! What an awesome and fierce title!

The little we do know of St. Joseph should still leave an awe inspiring impression. A man of immense humility and virtue, St. Joseph experienced the taint of original sin but chose a life of profound cooperation with grace and the divine will. He was like you and I not immaculate or divine. He desired good human things like marriage, children, and virtue. He longed to provide, lead, and protect his holy family. St. Joseph recieved the gift of not only a Holy Family but THE Holy Family.

This gift was not all rainbows and butterflies or skipping into the corner store with his kid bouncing on his shoulders. Instead, God asked Joseph to embrace a life of sacrifice and boldly go where no human man had gone before. St. Joseph married the Blessed Virgin Mary, remained married to Our Lady, claimed the Son of God Jesus as his son, and fled multiple times from corrupt powers seeking to harm or destroy his family. St. Joseph trusted God and the Holy Spirit’s guidance to move and shape the course of his life.

St. Joseph was one tough cookie . . . Cue the title “Terror of Demons.” He took on the powers that sought to destroy his family by turning to God, listening to the Holy Spirit, and acting with steadfast conviction. Even today, St. Joseph is a powerful intercessor who always guides us towards his wife, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his Foster son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Joseph,  Terror of Demons, pray for us.