Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Our neighbors to the north have some new saints added to their list of very holy men.
BL. FREDERIC JANSSOONE, O.F.M.,was a popular preacher who re-established the Order of Friars Minor in Canada.
The greatest desire and prayer of Bl. Frederic was to help others come closer to God. His ministry as a Franciscan took him to many places, from Europe, to the Holy Land and then to North America, where he died.
He was born in Flanders in 1838 as the youngest of 13 children in a wealthy farming family. Frederic was nine when his father died, and he dropped out of school to work as a traveling salesman in order to help support his family. His mother died when he was 23. He completed his studies and then entered the Franciscans. He was ordained in 1870, and served as a military chaplain during the Franco-Prussian War.
He was then sent to the Holy Land, where he reinstated the Stations of the Cross in the streets of Jerusalem, built a church in Bethlehem, and negotiated an accord among the Roman, Greek and Armenian Christian churches concerning the sanctuaries of Bethlehem.

He first came to Canada in 1881 on a fundraising tour, but eventually moved permanently to the country seven years later. He helped to develop the popular shrine of Our Lady at Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec. He wrote biographies of the saints, newspaper articles and sold religious books door to door.

He died of stomach cancer in Montreal in 1916 and is buried in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, a city close to the Marian shrine he helped to develop. Pope John Paul II beatified Frederic in 1988.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Pope Francis has set Nov. 21, the Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, as a day to pray for and support cloistered and monastic religious. It is called WORLD DAY of CLOISTERED LIFE, also known as Pro Orantibus Day (“For Those Who Pray”).

Since this coming Sunday starts the beginning of ADVENT  (yes, it is very early this year) I thought it appropriate to use this as our theme this year- focusing on the Contemplative life, which should be for all Christians who strive to follow in the footsteps of Christ.

We must all make a place for the Christ-child who is to come into our hearts. Advent is that time of silence and the sense of wonder and waiting that is necessary to prepare our hearts for His birth. 

What do we mean by the Cloistered life? Many, especially in our un-churched Northwest ask what we do all day with our lives, behind these walls.

Cloistered religious embody lives “hidden with Christ.” Within our monastery walls we offer prayers and sacrifices that go unnoticed to most of the world. “By their lives of silence, solitude and sacrifice they obtain the graces needed for countless souls to experience the merciful love of God in ways we can only imagine! In Our Lord’s revelations to St Faustina, Jesus speaks of “chosen souls” who are invited to share in His mission of mercy. Our Merciful Savior states that these special souls “fill my Heart with joy. They bear My features; therefore the Heavenly Father looks upon them with special pleasure....Their number is small. They are a defense for the world before the justice of the Heavenly Father and a means of obtaining mercy for the world. The love and sacrifice of these souls sustain the world in existence” (Diary, 367).”

In his recent Apostolic Constitution, Vultum Dei Quaerere, Pope Francis reflects upon the vital importance of cloistered contemplatives in the life and mission of the Church. He notes that the contemplative monastic life “is rooted in the silence of the cloister; it produces a rich harvest of grace and mercy.” The Holy Father also reminds those who embrace such a sublime calling that “the Church greatly esteems your life of complete selfgiving” and “counts on your prayers and your self-sacrifice to bring today’s men and women to the good news of the Gospel.”

OLR Chapel on a Winter Night

As we celebrate World Day of Cloistered Life, let us remember these contemplative religious who in convents, monasteries and hermitages give of themselves selflessly to God in hidden sacrifice and in silent work. Let us always assist these dedicated souls by our spiritual and material support, in whatever way we can, even if it is like the poor widow who offers two small coins. We are aware that God is never outdone in generosity and that we each will be judged not on the amount we give to others, but on the intensity of love that is behind the gift. 

Let us invoke Our Lady who gave of herself totally to the Lord and shares intimately in her Son’s mission of Mercy. She, who dedicated herself to God in the Temple as a young girl and who the Church as always looked upon as the summa contemplatrix, demonstrates for all believers the need to immerse ourselves in the Lord so as to see things with spiritual eyes and to respond generously by faith, hope and love.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


This past week many of us saw the supermoon, not seen since 1948, and not to be seen again till 2034. This image of Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro) is one of those "pictures worth a thousand words"!

As today ends the Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us journey into a new year with continuing faith and hope in the Lord’s Mercy for us now and always.

Monday, November 14, 2016


As we near the last weeks of this Year of Mercy, we present
VENERABLE MARIA de JESUS GUIZAR BARRAGAN, the second Mexican to recently be named venerable by Pope Francis. She could be called a modern day saint of MERCY.  She was the  5th of 16 children born to Don Emiliano Guizar y Valencia and Lucia Barragan Guizar in 1899 in Cotija, Michoacan. She was a teacher of catechism in her early teens, showing the children the gentle face of the Father. She visited the sick and imprisoned showing the tenderness and mercy of God. The dying she told not to be afraid to go to the presence of such a good Father who gives mercy to all who are sorry for their sins.
As a young woman

At age 15 she suffered from a near fatal illness, leading to serious reflection, which led to her dedicating herself to God.

In 1961 she founded the Guadalupan Handmaids of Christ the Priest to care for elderly and sick priests.  About the priests she would say, if they have given everything for the Church our mother, then we must take care of them with love and mercy.Till her dying day she dedicated her life to the sanctification of priests.

She died in 1973.  At the centenary of her birth (1999)  the  Apostolic Nuncio Justo Mullor in his homily said: She is one of those voices that the Holy Spirit wants to be felt with urgency and insistence inviting all believers in the Church to purify not only our miseries and sins, but also superfluous cultural adhesions and to focus our personal and community lives in all that is essential and to put our wills in tune with the will of God.”  

Ministering to the poor

With her Community
She showed the tenderness and mercy of God to others and is a great example to the Mexican people.

Saturday, November 12, 2016


One of the new updates for sanctity announced recently by the Holy Father is VENERABLE PAUL MARIA GUZMAN FIGUEROA, founder of the Eucharistic Missionaries of the Holy Trinity. He was one of those people who left his mark, challenging fate amid adversity, while helping others to follow in the footsteps of Christ.

Venerable Paul was born on September 25, 1897, in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico.

In 1909 he moved to Queretaro, working as a telegrapher for two years and contemplating marriage. He went to school to become a pharmacist, even opening his own pharmacy, but then he met the Venerable Servant of God Father Felix Jesus Rougier, founder of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit. His life took a 180 degree turn and in1919, he entered the novitiate. 

In 1923 he was ordained, becoming a missionary in Mexico and in other Latin American countries. In 1936, he felt called to found the Congregation of the Eucharistic Missionaries of the Holy Trinity. The following year, he started the Missionary Auxiliary Daughters of Soledad de Maria, opening the doors to lay women who wanted to join his work. The two foundations live the Spirituality of the Cross.

Because he was interested in Catholic education, he opened several colleges along with Mother Enriqueta Rodriguez Noriega. Taking advantage of modern travel, he transversed the world spreading the faith and making new foundations.

 He was always grateful to God for the gift of priesthood. He was a priest close to the people, frequently visiting their homes and encouraging them with his infectious joy. He sought holiness in the simple things every day.

On February 17, 1967, in Mexico City, he died with a reputation for holiness. The slogan that marked his priestly life was "God and souls."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


RICHIE FERNANDO was a 26 year old Filipino Jesuit missionary in Cambodia. He was sent to Cambodia before his priesthood. There, he worked as a teacher in a technical school for the handicapped. In the school, people who were disabled,  especially landmine victims, learned skills which helped them earn a living. Richie loved his students in Cambodia and encouraged them to share their stories with him.

Among Richie’s students was Sarom, a sixteen-year-old boy who was a victim of a landmine. He wanted to finish his studies there but he was asked to leave by the school authorities for his disruptive attitude. According to Richie, Sarom was tricky but he still had a place for him in his heart.

On October 17, 1996, Sarom came to the school for a meeting. Angered, he suddenly  reached into a bag he was carrying, pulled out a grenade, and began to move towards a classroom full of students; the windows of the room were barred, leaving the students no escape. Richie Fernando came up behind Sarom and grabbed him. Sarom tried to let Richie go, but the missionary held on to him. Sarom accidentally dropped the grenade behind Richie, and in a flash, Richie was dead. The missionary had protected Sarom and the other students from the violence that was about to come.

Four days before he died, Richie wrote to a friend in the Philippines, “I know where my heart is. It is with Jesus Christ, who gave his all for the poor, the sick, the orphan ...I am confident that God never forgets his people: our disabled brothers and sisters. And I am glad that God has been using me to make sure that our brothers and sisters know this fact. I am convinced that this is my vocation.”

Shocked by what he had caused, Sarom sat in his jail cell and mourned too. In March 1997, Mr. and Mrs. Fernando wrote to Cambodia's King Sihanouk, asking for pardon for Sarom; somehow, someone had to stop the violence. Sarom had not wanted to kill Richie. “Richie ate rice with me,” he said. “He was my friend.”

The body of ichie Fernando is buried at he Sacred Heart Cemetery in Novaliches, Quezon City

At a retreat earlier in 1996, he wrote:

I wish when I die, that people remember not how great, powerful, or talented I was,
but that I served and spoke for the truth. I gave witness to what is right. I was sincere with all my words and actions. In other words, I loved and followed Christ.

Friday, November 4, 2016



"Et ecce terraemotus factus est magnus"! Behold there was a great earthquake! 

This Easter antiphon refers to the convulsions of the earth at the moment of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The Gospel mentions an earlier earthquake at the moment of Our Lord’s death on the cross. An earthquake means both death and life: death to what went before, life in new beginnings. Sometimes such a disaster means physical death, as for the 300 people who died in Amatrice and Accumoli, small towns just across the mountains from Norcia.  In Norcia, thanks be to God, no lives were lost. The monastic buildings were severely damaged and some of the monks have been sleeping in tents, but in this we are like so many of our neighbors. 

Monks Praying Outdoors

Monks make a vow of stability, which includes love of the place. We love this place, and so we are committed to rebuilding. Natural disasters have a way of bringing us back to the essentials. The St. Bartholomew earthquake (August 24th) changed our interior landscape and made us look at our present reality with fresh eyes. Just as the resurrection of Christ made all things new, so this earthquake presents the monastery with new opportunities to strengthen our monastic foundations and build more securely for the future. The monastic presence in Norcia is extremely important for the identity of the town, so rebuilding the monastery means giving new life to a town that finds itself sorely tried. Our neighbors count on our solidarity, both spiritual and material. Our rebuilding efforts are directed to two monastic sites in Norcia: one at the Basilica of San Benedetto, the other at San Benedetto in Monte. We humbly ask that you participate by making a financial contribution to this project, which will deepen the monastic roots in Norcia  (a town of about 5,000, with over 50,000 visitors a year) and help bring hope to the people and region.

Daily Masss Said in a Tent

BASILICA OF SAN BENEDETTO The restoration of the basilica built atop the historic birthplace of St. Benedict. No area of the campaign is more important than the basilica of San Benedetto, the birthplace of St. Benedict and his twin sister St. Scholastica. Many people from around the world had already begun participating in the monks’ efforts to beautify the 14th-century Basilica. Thanks be to God, those projects are mostly safe, but the earthquake seriously weakened parts of the church. Vaults need reinforcing, the cupola (dome) needs to be solidified, cracks in the ancient walls need steel bracing. Funds raised will also be used to complete the work of restoration of the side altars already begun and to improve lighting and heating issues which have plagued the building for years.

MONASTERY OF SAN BENEDETTO The restructuring of our monastery in town, where we are a monastic presence to pilgrims and tourists from around the world.
Monks have acted as custodians of this holy place since at least the 12th century. The monastery has two parts. While the 14th-century building attached to the basilica received less damage from the earthquake, the 1960’s era structure which housed the novitiate has been declared unlivable by the civil protection agency. The insides will have to be gutted and re-built. Funds raised will also cover repair costs of the gift shop, library and kitchen which all saw damage to their vaults. We hope that part of this building can be used as the focus of our apostolic and cultural labors on behalf of the many pilgrims who come to Norcia.

Rebilding Began Immediately

MONASTERY OF SAN BENEDETTO IN MONTE The rebuilding of our monastery overlooking Norcia so that we can grow, planting the deep roots of our community in the soil of this agricultural grange. Our friends will recall that restoration work was proceeding on the church of our monastic grange, the property outside the walls, three km from Norcia, which we have long desired as a place of retreat and agricultural work. For many years we have pondered how to accommodate a growing community in the restricted space of the monastery in town. The earthquake has inspired us to re-visit this question, and the community has decided that the time has come to develop the monastery on the mountainside –San Benedetto in Monte. We began restoration of the church two years ago, though the interior was not complete. It resisted the earthquake fairly well, but the façade suffered damage. When we purchased the property in 2007, much of the building had already collapsed from previous earthquakes. The 2016 earthquake finished the job. This means the monastery section must be completely rebuilt, so that it is large enough to house 40-50 monks. The juniors and novices are already camping on the mountain side in tents and pre-fabricated buildings in the hopes of a more-permanent dwelling place. They are already enjoying the silence and solitude of San Benedetto in Monte. Despite the rustic conditions, the environment is wonderfully favorable to prayer and contemplation and we believe it will offer the best environment for monastic life in Norcia to flourish.

Sleeping in Tents

THE BREWERY The construction of a permanent home for our brewery operation, ensuring that, come what may, we can always live by the work of our own hands.

The brewery was already giving 10% of its profits to charity. Now, after the earthquake, we have changed that to 15%. We will also be giving a portion of all funds raised to the people of this town, for whom we pray and intercede, as a material means of lessening their hardships.


Checks can be sent to:
10685-B HAZELHURST DR. #18857


In the last Blog, I presented a letter from the Subprior of the Benedictine Monastery damaged in the earthquake in Italy last week.  Our Mother Prioress visited the Community a few years ago when in Italy and she says it is one place she would go back to. The holiness of the place and the monks was greatly perceived. bit more about these courageous men.

The Valley of St. Scholastica, Norcia

 In the 8th century an oratory was built so pilgrims could pray at the place of St. Benedict and his sister St. Scholastica’s birth. Monks came to Norcia in the 10th century, and remained in one form or another until 1810, when they were forced to flee under the new laws of the Napoleonic Code.

The current Benedictine community was founded in Rome in 2000 by a small group of American monks “with faith and courage and little else”. The founder and present Prior, Father Cassian, was a monk of St. Meinrad's Archabbey in Indiana. One of our interns attended Wyoming Catholic College and one of her professors is now a member of this Community.

The monks were charged by Rome to care for the Basilica of San Benedetto (built over the birthplace of St Benedict and his twin St Scholastica) and for the many visiting pilgrims. The Benedictines of Norcia see themselves as "humble instruments for the necessary New Evangelization of Europe".

As of July 2015 there are nineteen monks living at Norcia, including novices, with the average age of 33. The Benedictine Monastery of Norcia is also known as the Benedictine Monastery Maria Sedes Sapientiae (“Mary Seat of Wisdom”).

In February 2012 the Monastery was canonically established under the supervision of the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation.   The monks have supported themselves by making beer- in the grand tradition of the Belgian Trappists (whom they learned the craft from).  It is made in small batches, so as not to effect the prayer life of the monastery. 

Brother Francis in the Brewery

They have also produced a CD of their chant which is lovely and very prayerfully rendered.

One can go to their website and see some lovely videos of their life- before and after the earthquakes.  (Monks of Norcia.org)

Thursday, November 3, 2016


All of the churches in St. Benedict’s birthplace of Norcia (Nursia), Italy, were destroyed by the October 30 earthquake that leveled the medieval Basilica of St. Benedict. Amazingly the statue of Our Father St. Benedict was left standing.

St. Benedict

Dear friends,

`”How can I even begin to describe the scene we witnessed yesterday in Norcia?  
It was like those photographs of bombed-out churches from the Second World War. It reminded me of all those ruined monasteries one sees passing through the English countryside. It was an image of devastation. All the churches in Norcia are on the ground. Every single one. The roofs caved in on all of them; they are no more. What remains of them are a few corners, a facade, a window with the sun coming through from the wrong side. Inside are “bare ruin’d choirs” as Shakespeare wrote of the destroyed monasteries in his time.

The wonder, the miracle, is that there were no casualties. All the fear and anxiety following the first few earthquakes now seem a providential part of God’s mysterious plan to clear the city of all inhabitants. He spent two months preparing us for the complete destruction of our patron’s church so that when it finally happened we would watch it, in horror but in safety, from atop the town.

Basilica of St. Benedict destroyed

Is it over yet? We do not know. These are mysteries which will take years -- not days or months -- to understand. We watch and pray all together on the mountainside for Norcia and for the world. The priests go into town to visit the sick and the homeless. We are grateful for your prayers, as ever.
                      In Christ,Fr. Benedict    Subprior  (Benedictine Monks of Norcia)

On November 2, Pope Francis called Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia to assure the residents of Norcia of his prayers following the recent earthquake there.

The Holy Father “also said he was saddened by the collapse of so many sacred buildings, symbols of faith and identity of the people,” Archbishop Boccardo told Vatican Radio.

The prelate spoke of the “difficulties and the fear of people who are homeless or insecure in these two months of earthquakes and great loss of the heritage of faith and art located in our valley.”

We pray for the people who have lost their homes and their sacred places.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Having finished the difficult, but very well done movie Popieluszko, I felt I should do a blog on this courageous priest, who was greatly responsible for the downfall of Communism in Poland.  After his death, the people had enough of tyranny in their daily lives.
BLESSED JERZY POPIELUSZKO  was born September 14, 1947, on a farm in the small village of Okopy located in North Eastern Poland. His parents Wladyslaw and Mariana were devout Catholics and he was baptized Alphons Popieluszko two days after his birth. Blessed Jerzy was a fragile child but as his parents stated he made up for any physical infirmities in strength of character.  

After finishing school, he attended the priests' seminary at Warsaw. Heserved his army duties in a special force, aimed to keep young men from becoming priests. This treatment had an adverse effect on Bl. Jerzy, as, after finishing his army service, he continued his studies. As a vicar he served in parishes in Warsaw, which consisted of the common people as well as students.
In 1981 he was sent to the workers, taking part in strikers in the Warsaw Steelworks. He was associated with workers and trade unionists from the Solidarity movement who opposed the Communist regime in Poland.
He was a staunch anti-communist, and in his sermons, interwove spiritual exhortations with political messages, criticizing the Communist system and motivating people to protest. During the period of martial law the Catholic Church was the only force that could voice protest comparatively openly, with the regular celebration of Mass presenting opportunities for public gatherings in churches.

Bl. Jerzy’s sermons were routinely broadcast by Radio Free Europe, and thus became famous throughout Poland for their uncompromising stance against the regime. The Służba Bezpieczeństwa tried to silence or intimidate him. When those techniques did not work, they fabricated evidence against him; he was arrested in 1983, but soon released on intervention of the clergy and pardoned by an amnesty.

A car accident was set up to kill  Bl. Jerzy  on 13 October 1984 but he evaded it. The alternative plan was to kidnap him, which was carried out on 19 October 1984. He was beaten to death by three Security Police officers. They pretended to have problems with their car and flagged down Bl. Jerzy’s car for help.  He was beaten up, tied up and put in the trunk of the car. The officers bound a stone to his feet and dropped him into the Vistula Water Reservoir near Włocławek from where his body was recovered on 30 October 1984. 
An autopsy revealed that he may have still been alive when thrown into the water. News of the political murder caused an uproar throughout Poland, and the murderers and one of their superiors, Colonel Adam Pietruszka, were convicted of the crime. More than 250,000 people, including Lech Wałęsa, attended his funeral on 3 November 1984. Despite the murder and its repercussions, the Communist regime remained in power until 1989. Bl. Jerzy's murderers  were jailed but released later as part of an amnesty.
Bl. Jerzy's funeral

Bl. Jerzy was posthumously awarded the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest decoration. The cause for his beatification began in 1997. On August 6th, 2010, in the presence of his mother, who was over 100  years old, Bl Jerzy was solemnly beatified

His relics carried through Warsaw
The last public words spoken by Bl.Jerzy Popieluzko during the meditation of the rosary October 19, 1984, give a summary of his life and may serve to encourage us.

“In order to defeat evil with good, in order to preserve the dignity of man, one must not use violence. It is the person who has failed to win on the strength of his heart and his reason, who tries to win by force…Let us pray that we be free from fear and intimidation, but above all from the lusts for revenge and violence.”

His mother, Marianna, was present to his beatification. Pope John Paul II said to her : “Mother, you have given us a great son”. And she responded, surprising even the pope: “Holy Father, I did not give him, but God has given him to the world through me. I gave him to the Church and I can’t take him back.” The Pope kissed her and hugged her.

Marianna received St. Rita’s International reward, which is given to people who forgive the murderers of their loved ones. She says she has forgiven the murderers of her son and she is praying for their conversion. She said that “they were fighting God, not my son”, and that they were trying to fight the Church.