Thursday, July 30, 2020

MARTYR FOR THE EUCHARIST IN MEXICO


In a Blog last year (9/5/19)  we briefly mentioned ST. PEDRO de JESUS MALDONADO, as one of the Knights of Columbus martyrs, but he was also a defender of the Eucharist. He  was a priest during the anti-Catholic rule of Mexican President Plutarco Calles. Father Pedro Maldonado was a great priest in Chihuahua during the anti-Catholic persecution, helping prepare children for their First Communion and serving the poor.

When he was 17 years old, he entered the diocesan seminary, where he was known for his piety; once, after completing the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, he told the rector of the seminary "I have thought of always having my heart in heaven and in the Tabernacle."

Due to the political situation in Mexico, he left to study for the priesthood in El Paso, Texas where he was ordained on Jan. 25, 1918.

St. Pedro worked with the Tarahumara Natives and sought to reduce the amount of alcohol they consumed. He helped the poor with money and clothing, and raised and educated a poor orphan. He took a special interest in the religious education of both children and adults, explaining Catholic doctrine by using photographs. At harvest time, farmers would ask him to bless fields invaded by locusts, and there are accounts that claim his prayers expelled the locusts more than once.

On February 10, 1937, Ash Wednesday, drunken men with guns came into his church, threatening to arrest him. The priest quickly grabbed the church’s pyx of consecrated hosts before the thugs pushed him out into the street. He was dragged by the hair to the region’s political leader, Andrés Rivera, who hit the priest so hard on the head with his pistol that he damaged his skull and eye. The gang began beating Father Pedro, but the priest held his pyx tightly, until a direct blow knocked it loose. 

The hosts spilled on the ground, and one of the thugs shoved them into the priest’s mouth, sneering, “Eat this! Your last Communion.” The holy priest did just that. He died the following day in a hospital.

He is the first canonized saint and  martyr from Chihuahua City, Mexico, yet holds a special place in the hearts of the people of El Paso, Texas. In this day and age when so few believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, he is a good example for those who hold to the true faith! 


Sunday, July 26, 2020

A RARE CARDINAL


In a rare move in modern times, a “lowly” priest was made a cardinal of the Church, without first being a bishop. In accordance with the norm that all cardinals should be bishops, Pope Francis consecrated Father Czerny a bishop on 4 October 2019, making him titular archbishop of Benevento. He was made a Cardinal the next day!

CARDINAL MICHAEL F. CZERNY, SJ (born 1946) is a Czechoslovakian-born priest whose work in Canada, Latin America, Africa, and Rome has promoted social justice. He has been under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development since 1 January 2017. 



Born in BrnoCzechoslovakia, his family immigrated to Canada by ship in 1948. He attended a Jesuit high school in Montreal and joined the Jesuits in 1964. He attended Gonzaga University, in our own state of Washington.  He was ordained a priest in 1973 and obtained his doctorate in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Chicago in 1978.

Cardinal Czerny co-founded the Jesuit Center for Social Faith and Justice in Toronto in 1979, and  was the first director until 1989. In 1990–1991, following the murder of six Jesuits and others at the University of Central America in San Salvador, he assumed the director's role of the University's Institute for Human Rights, a position that had been held by one of the murdered priests. 

From 1992 to 2002, he worked in the Social Justice Secretariat at the Jesuit General Curia in Rome. In 2002 he founded the African Jesuit AIDS Network and directed it until 2010. During these nine years, he initiated and coordinated efforts by Jesuits and others in nearly 30 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa to provide pastoral care, education, health services, social and spiritual support, and to fight stigma for victims of HIV/AIDS, and channeled resources from foreign sources. During that time, he also taught at Hekima University College in Nairobi

Cardinal Czerny worked in Rome at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace as the personal assistant to Cardinal Peter Turkson from 2010 to 2016.

On 14 December 2016, Pope Francis appointed him under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, effective 1 January 2017, along with Scalabrinian Father Fabio Baggio. Discussing his new responsibility, he called migration "one of the most important and urgent human phenomena of our times", adding: "There’s hardly a place in the planet which is not touched by this phenomenon. Indeed, though many are not aware of it, there are more people moving in Russia and China today than in any other part of the world.”
With Angels Unawares

In 2016 he commissioned Timothy Schmalz (see Blog  7/17/20) to create the Angels Unawares sculpture that depicts a boat carrying migrants and refugees wearing clothes that identify them with a variety of cultures and time periods. It was inaugurated in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican in 2019.

Pope Francis named him a voting member of the October 2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment.

In October 2018, he said the rhetoric used to describe migration and refugee movements was misleading. He said: "It's not a crisis. It's a series of mismanagements and poor policies and self-interested manipulations. The numbers that we're talking about, even on the total scale, are not at all that great."

In keeping with his work to better the lives of migrants, his pectoral cross, made by the Italian artist Domenico Pellegrino, is wood from the remains of a boat used by migrants to cross the Mediterranean from Northern Africa in their attempt to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa.


The new Cardinal says. The poor wood suggests the Jesuit vow of poverty and the desire for a humble, engaged Church. The origin of the wood reflects my family's flight to safety when I was very young as well as my current responsibilities in the Migrants and Refugees Section.

Friday, July 24, 2020

UNDERCOVER AGENT FOR GOD


Youth of the world have a new patron in VENERABLE MATTEO FARINA, who died in 2009. Born in 1990 in Brindisi, he spent his brief but deep earthly life surrounded by love of his family, his friends, his parish community and his girlfriend.

Like  people of his own age, he played various sports and loved music, playing several instruments. He found a music band called “ No name”.
He also had a  passion for chemistry, and would have continued his studies in the environmental engineering field. He also liked all the new information technology.

Two events  marked his life: a dream and the diagnosis of a brain cancer.
When he is 9 years old, he dreamt of St. Pio from Pietrelcina who revealed to him the secret of happiness,giving him the task to spread it to everyone. These are St. Pio’s words according to the story of the young Matteo: “If you managed to understand that who is without sin is happy, than you have to teach it to the others, so that we can go all together happily in the heavenly kingdom”.

This dream led Matteo to understand this was his vocation and he wrote: “I hope to succeed in realizing my mission as ‘undercover agent’ among young people, telling them about God (enlightened from Him)… I look around me and I want to enter in young people’s lives quietly like a virus, infecting them of an incurable illness: Love!”.

When Matteo was 13,  he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He underwent his first operation in Hannover, Germany.  In spite of this he was still an inspiration to all who came into contact with him, from friends to his doctors and other patients.

“You would like to scream to the world that you would do everything for your Savior, that you are ready to suffer for the salvation of souls, to die for Him. You will have the opportunity of showing Him your love”.

“ Faith is to grasp God to spread his Word. Happiness is the fruit of faith.”  Matteo used to say: “It is useless to despond, we have to be happy and transmit happiness. The more happiness we give people, the more people are happy. The more they are happy, the more we are happy”.

 At seventeen, he met Serena, his girlfriend and “the most beautiful gift I could receive from the Lord”. He started to meditate on the mystery of human love as mirroring the love of God. His love for Serena was  a love which became companionship, communion and sharing.

But his illness strike once more, and in 2009 he underwent his third operation, which left him partially paralyzed. He understood that his life might be short, and he wrote: “We must live every day as if it were the last, but not in the sadness of death, rather in the joy of being ready for our encounter with the Lord”

Sometimes  when the pain was simply too much, Matteo wondered where the Lord was.  “Has God deserted you? No. In silence, He’s always at your side, He wipes away your tears and holds you in His arms, until you’ll be strong enough to walk for yourself, holding His hands in yours vigorously. Fatigue. Curl up humbly in His arms and you’ll be sheltered there until good weather will come again. You’ll shine again, then, in His love, giving a caress, a smile, your small contribution to help those who, like you, are in need or tired; bring them to God. They’ll resurrect in turn, with our Lord, to a life of love”.


His mission can be described with his own words : “My God, I have two hands, let one of them to be always clasped to You in order to hold You closer in every trial. And let the other hand fall throughout the world if this is Your will… as I know You by others, so let others know You through me. I want to be a mirror, the clearest possible, and if this is Your will, I want to reflect Your light in the heart of every man. Thanks for life. Thanks for faith. Thanks for love. I’m Yours”.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

HUNGARIAN LOVER OF THE EUCHARIST


In this crises time in our world and in our church, many are not able to get to Mass on a regular basis but there are usually weekday Masses and sometimes even adoration of the Blessed sacrament.

Our second holy man of the Eucharist  was the Hungarian chaplain János Brenner (born 1931), who died guarding the Eucharist on 15th December 1957.

JANOS BRENNER was ordained a priest by bishop Sándor Kovács on 19th June 1955 in the cathedral of Szombathely. He celebrated his first mass in the St. Norbert church of that town. He became the chaplain of Rábakéthely, in the second district of Szentgotthárd, near the Hungarian border.

Father János was ready to make any sacrifice for the faithful. He especially loved  children and youth.  

One of the faithful remembers:  "He had a certain glow which cannot even be described in words. The people loved him, and loved to listen to his words. There was something in him, what attracted the people. This was his main crime.: both the young and the old loved him. He won a great number of people for the faith and the Church. He could not pass by a person without stopping  to talk to them even a word or two. He always had a beautiful smile on his face... He seriously announced the Word of God and testified his faith in every minute. He was a very good confessor since he always gave some advice for our lives."

His charism was  not seen favorably  by the Communist regime, especially in hi work with the young. The representative of the state for the Church wanted to remove him from the community. When the bishop informed  Father Brenner about this, he replied: "I am not afraid, it would be a pleasure for me to stay." The bishop stood by the chaplain and decided to leave him in Rábakéthely. The representative said: "Well then, you shall see the consequences, too."

Father János clearly saw that his vocation was trying at the time. He wrote in is spiritual journal: "My Lord, You know, that I do not seek happiness in this life, since I have put my everything into You... I know, my Lord, that You do not save yours from suffering, since they got a tremendous profit from it."

One autumn evening, when he was on his way home on his motorcycle from Farkasfa, unknown ruffians threw logs in from of him, but he managed to avoid them. When he arrived at home, he said "They weren't lucky", and had a good laugh.

It is still not clear, not even today, what exactly happened on the night of 14-15 December 1957. There are only  a few pieces of the puzzle: testimonies of the suspects and of the convicted and some memories of  witnesses, which Dr. Frigyes Kahler, law-historian reconstructed.


Around midnight a 17-years-old man knocked on the door of the parish with the request that his seriously ill uncle should be given the Sacraments. Father János  went to the church, and took the Eucharist, placing it in the pyx, and with his companion started towards Zsida on the pitch-dark way leading through the hills. On the way he was attacked many times, but he managed to escape. In the end he was caught near the house of the supposed-sick-uncle. 

 And there, with the Eucharist around his neck, they stabbed him 32 times. From the autopsy report we also know that multiple fracture of the hyoid bone and the horns of the laryngeal cartilage were visible on the body. This cannot be caused by strangling; this injury occurs by stepping on the neck and trampling on it. On the white collar belonging to the cassock ground samples were visible, and the silhouette of a sole could also be seen. So, they wanted not only to kill him, but also humiliate him, too.

The investigation was merely a show, everyone was a suspect, even the parish priest. In the end one person was sentenced to death by the courts, but the Supreme Court released him. Later that boy was sentenced, who called János Brenner from the parish.

"God works with those who love him" (Rom 8,28) - the first-mass-motto of János Brenner was the main lead of his life as a priest. He lived and died by this spirituality for Christ and for those entrusted to him. His short, but God-loving life was for the good of all and also (or maybe mainly) is death, since his blood is also the sowing of the Christianity. "The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep" - that is, what János Brenner did: he gave his life for a non-existent sick, he laid down his life for his vocation and Christ. He was capable of all the sacrifices. He did not fear threats or being persecuted.



During the investigation many charges were brought against him (jealousy, human trafficking) looking for the motive of the murder, but they could not find a single person, who would speak ill of him. After the investigation someone said: "They have just conducted the process of the canonization of János Brenner!" The life of the pure-hearted, honest and faithful to God priest was obvious for everyone. His was not a human trafficker, but a fisher of men.

Friday, July 17, 2020

CREATE NOT DESTROY


I recently posted news regarding the destruction of artwork depicting some of our famed saints and founders of our country. I came across an interesting interview (Catholic News Agency) of Canadian sculptor TIMOTHY SCHMALZ, who says it breaks his heart to see the wanton vandalism of sculpture. He told CNA that he believes sculpture is a unique and powerful method of preaching, while at the same time acknowledging the flawed nature of many historical figures. 

For me, often these figures can be a reminder that we live in a different age, and can learn from past mistakes.  The art being made today will be judged  by the next generations who will see our flaws.  What if we learned today that Michelangelo  or Rodin or Henry Moore did unspeakable acts in their lifetime.  Would  we destroy their works -  to be lost forever?

Angels Unawares

Timothy said it made him upset “beyond belief” watching the news and seeing statues of figures such as Christopher Columbus and St. Junipero Serra be torn down. Seeing what he called “a random mob” destroy statue after statue felt like watching “wanton violence against our culture.”  He says the statues, are works of art being used as scapegoats for the country’s perceived historical sins

He has been a sculptor for 30 years and is perhaps best known for his sculpture  the "Angels Unawares" dedicated to migrants in St. Peter’s square.

“I know the amount of time that is spent working on each sculpture and a lot of these sculptures were done a century ago and the skill level, the time that it's been put into that--just on a simple work ethic and good craftsmanship and time and love that is put into it...  Its basic presence is that of time enduring.”

Sculpture, he said, is different from other art forms, as unlike a play or a piece of music, it is intended to be permanent. . “They’re visual ambassadors of that history, and to destroy it--[its] absolute arrogance.” 

“I'm a sculptor, I'm a creative, I create, I do not destroy, and I wish more people would follow the role model of creating rather than destroying,” he said. Timothy conceives his sculptures with keen devotion to Catholicism and gives his time to each piece, sometimes taking as much as 10 years forming the idea and sculpting it.

Creation, he explained, is far more difficult than destruction. Some of the statues that were destroyed took years to make, “and they’re toppled in 15 minutes.” 

“I want to be in a culture that is one of creating, not one of destroying. And, and what I say is that if you have a problem with that sculpture, let's create more sculptures, let's create more stuff.”


 "If my sculptures are used by people as a tool to think, then I’m very happy."



Wednesday, July 15, 2020

STAND AND WONDER


Beautiful poem  which should make us think during these stressful times when we actually have more time than ever to stand and wonder!           



Leisure

WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies (1871-1940)  Welsh

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

FIFTY YEARS OF A LIFE GIVEN

                                                      In her Czech crown of fresh flowers
                                                              made by 2 Shaw women

On the feast of Corpus Christi, our MOTHER DILECTA PLANANSKY celebrated her 50th anniversary of vows.  Due to “lockdown” her family was not able to come from California to help us celebrate, but celebrate we did! She received a blessings from the Holy Father to start the week and Thursday was a special Mass and her favorite meal- Mexican. She received many cards and gifts from all her have known her throughout the years, including past interns.

On Saturday we had a “picnic” with several of our Oblates who have been quarantining on the island.
While Mother was raised in S. California, she was born in Wyoming, when her father was in the military during the war. Both parents were teachers and instilled in Mother a love of learning, which continues to this day.

Mother entered the Abbey of  Regina Laudis a few years after college, having graduated from the San Diego College for Women, which is now the University of San Diego, a private Roman Catholic university founded in July 1949.  She majored in English, which is shown to this day by her love of Scrabble. She is always looking for new words, and is noted for her  sensitive poetry.


With Bella in the Gator

Mother has been in charge of the vast vegetable gardens, as well as the herd of cattle and dairy cows.    
        .
Mother has also served us as sacristan and liturgist. Like all of us she wears many hats.  Here is one of her poems:


Sept. 11, 02  A Commemoration

waking very early
solidly dark here in the West
day dawning on the East coast
I find myself praying among the stars
darkness not a void but
a setting for the stars,
interplay of dark and light.

an owl murmurs,
murmuring a question
...we know now the answer
a stark 2,817 soul mates,
at least 2,817, the number unsure
as survivors of ground zero surface
having forgotten their own names

so brief the passing
of the shooting star
then across the sky
a pace  regular and magnetic
the passage of a plane silently
(for some the last sensing was
sound and firey, fuel-fury).

From the distance of today
a stark beauty and patterned
meaning emerges in the sky:
somehow imbedded in the vastness
"Yahweh, God our God is One
Allah is great
Bless be Jesus Christ,
Firstborn of all creation"
someday to be uttered as
effulgence not controversy.

later in the light of day
the vastness remains
with no points of brightness
or connected patterns

but the stars unseen
are always with us.