Saturday, May 27, 2017

FRIEND OF A SAINT IN EL SALVADOR

William Hart McNichols


SERVANT of GOD RUTILIO GRANDE GARCIA, SJ, was a Jesuit priest in El Salvador. He was assassinated in 1977, along with two other Salvadorans. Father Rutilio Grande was the first priest assassinated before the civil war started. He was a close friend of Bl. Archbishop Óscar  Romero. After his death, the Archbishop changed his conservative attitude toward the government and urged the government to investigate the murder.

Rutilio Grande was born  in 1928, the youngest of six children, to a poor family in El Paisnal, El Salvador. His parents divorced when he was young and he was raised by his older brother and grandmother, a devout and strong Catholic woman. At the age of 12 Rutilio was noticed by Archbishop Luis Chavez y Gonzalez during his annual visit to their village and was invited to attend the high school seminary in San Salvador, the capital of the country.


At the age of 17, following the final year of high school seminary (minor seminary), Grande entered the Jesuit process of formation called the novitiate. Thus began a period of time outside of El Salvador. Grande first traveled to Caracas, Venezuela, since there was no Jesuit novitiate in Central America.

Initially, Rutilio felt called to the missions of the Church in Asia. After two years in Caracas, he pronounced his vows and then traveled to Quito, Ecuador to study the humanities, which he completed in 1950. The following three years were spent as a professor in a minor seminary in El Salvador where he taught sacred history, history of the Americas, the history of El Salvador, and writing.


Rutilio was trained at the seminary of San José de la Montaña, where he became friends with Oscar Romero, a fellow student. Grande was ordained a priest in 1959, and went on to study abroad, mainly in Spain. He returned to El Salvador in 1965 and was appointed director of social action projects at the seminary in San Salvador, a position he held for nine years. From 1965 to 1970 he was also prefect of discipline and professor of pastoral theology in the diocesan seminary. Father Rutilio  was master of ceremonies at Father Romero’s installation as bishop of Santiago de María in 1975.

Father Grande returned to Spain in 1962 to complete studies left undone due to his physical and mental struggles and in 1963 he finished a course of studies on Vatican II and the new directions in pastoral ministry at the Lumen Vitae Institute in Brussels, Belgium. He was particularly influenced by his experiences of an inclusive liturgy which insisted upon the widest and deepest lay participation possible at that time.

He served as prefect of theology from 1965 to 1966 in the major seminary. There he taught a variety of subject including liturgy, catechesis, pastoral theology, and introduction to the mystery of Christ (philosophy). He also fully utilized the social sciences in an effort to understand the reality within which he lived and ministered. 

During this time, Father Rutilio  initiated a process of formation for seminarians which included pastoral “immersions” in the communities they would someday serve. This included time with people listening to their problems and their reality. He said, “the first contact with the people was to be characterized by a human encounter; to try to enter into their reality in order to leave with a common reality.”

This innovative aspect of formation lasted for a year or two, and then the Bishops asked that seminarians be sent back to their dioceses during their breaks so they could be supervised and relationships with the Bishop could be better established. Father Rutiloio Grande eventually had a falling out with the leadership of the seminary over his methods for formation and evangelization. He disagreed with the insistence that seminarians separate their intellectual formation from their pastoral formation. Grande wanted equilibrium between prayer, study and apostolic activity, and this equilibrium was not accepted by the traditional Church of El Salvador.

While deeply engaged in the lives of the people he served, he led with the Gospel but did not shy away from speaking on social and political issues, which had profound consequences for the Church. Father Rutilio could be credited with promoting a “pastoral” liberation ministry that began in scripture and allowed lay people in El Salvador to work for social transformation without resorting to Marxism.

All over El Salvador one finds these murals


Father Grande challenged the government in its response to actions he saw as attempts to harass and silence Salvadoran priests.

He was prophetic on issues of land reform, the relationship of rich and poor, liturgical inclusiveness, workers’ rights and making the Catholic faith real for very poor people. He was fond of saying that “the Gospel must grow little feet” if Christ is not to remain in the clouds. He  was a friend and confidant of  Bl. Oscar Romero whom he inspired through his ministry, and the ultimate sacrifice he made. On March 12, 1977  Father Rutilio Grande was assassinated by the security forces of El Salvador, just outside the village he was born in, suffering martyrdom for the people he served and loved.

Immediately, the news of these murders was transmitted to Archbishop Oscar A. Romero as well as to the Provincial of the Jesuits, who also resided in the capital. Three Jesuits from the Provincial office, Archbishop Romero, and his auxiliary Bishop Rivera y Damas all travelled to El Paisnal. At 7:00 PM President Arturo Molina called the Archbishop to offer his condolences and promise a thorough investigation.

                                                                  With Archbishop Romero

At 10:30 PM that same evening, Archbishop Romero presided over the Mass, which lasted until midnight. The next morning, responding to a radio announcement by the Archbishop, streams of peasants began walking into El Paisnal for a 9:oo AM Memorial Mass. They came from near and far to mourn the death of their beloved priest and his friends. During the final funeral procession, one that would ultimately inter these bodies in the floor of the church in El Paisnal directly in front of the altar, the slogan could be heard: “Rutilio’s walk with El Paisnal is like Christ’s journey with the cross.


Mass with Archbishop Romero
The Archbishop said: The true reason for Father Grande’s death was his prophetic and pastoral efforts to raise the consciousness of the people throughout his parish. Father Grande, without offending and forcing himself upon his flock in the practice of their religion, was only slowly forming a genuine community of faith, hope and love among them, he was making them aware of their dignity as individuals, of their basic rights as words, his was an effort toward comprehensive human development. This post-Vatican Council ecclesiastical effort is certainly not agreeable to everyone, because it awakens the consciousness of the people. It is work that disturbs many; and to end it, it was necessary to liquidate its proponent. In our case, Father Rutilio Grande.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

EARTHLY FRIENDS



BL. CLARA (Dina) BOSATTA was born in 1858 in Como to Alessandro Bosatta and Rosa Mazzocchi - her father worked as a silk manufacturer who died in 1861 when she was but a toddler. She was the last of eleven siblings.

She studied with the Daughters of Charity at the age of thirteen in 1871; she also took work as a janitor around this time. She decided to consecrate her life to God and made the decision to become a nun so entered into the period of novitiate with the Canossians from 1871 to 1878; however she felt that their charism was not that of which she felt she was being called to and so left that congregation to pursue her vocation elsewhere.

She returned to her home and joined with her sister Marcellina and the two joined the Daughters of Mary that Father Carlo Copponi had established. Marcellina would later become the superior of the order. The pair also worked at a hospice to tend to neglected children and older people as well as teaching children.

They coordinated efforts at establishing a new religious congregation - the Daughters of Saint Mary of Providence, alongside St Luigi Guanella (see previous BLOG). It was at this point that she took the religious name of Clara. She was professed as a nun on 27 October 1878.

Tending to the poor bought unwanted consequences for her when she contracted tuberculosis, which would remain with her until the end of her life.   
She died on 20 April 1887.  

St. Luigi Guanella  wrote three biographies of  Bl. Clare. The first two were discovered in Como in 1981, during the reorganization of the Archives of the Mother House in Como, Italy. The composition of the oldest, A Flower of Virtue Transplanted from Earth to Paradise, was presumably started shortly after her death, and was possibly completed the following year. The original is entirely hand written by the author in two pamphlets of 77 pages.
In 1907 St. Luigi produced a more voluminous manuscript of 111 pages in four pamphlets. The twenty-two long chapters of Biographical Notes of Sr. Clare Bosatta follow the events of her life faithfully.



The last booklet reports the vast and detailed testimony that Bl. Luigi gave from August 8th-23rd, 1912, at the Diocesan Tribunal of Como for the process of the beatification of Sr. Clare.

Both texts always show, though at various levels of intensity, Fr. Guanella’s strong emotional involvement. We can understand how his deep relationship with Sr. Clare was decisive for his experience as a Christian, priest, spiritual guide and founder. Pope (St.) John Paul II presided over her beatification on 21 April 1991.

Intense prayer, acceptance of constant sufferings are the main paths that lead her to total conformity with Jesus and urged her to the summit of Christian perfection like an eagle, as her spiritual director, St. Luigi, liked to compare her with. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

AMERICAN TIES



 While not considered an American saint, he did work in our country and has relatives here, generations later, including a young priest in Wisconsin.
 

ST. LUIGI GUANELLA  was the ninth of thirteen children born to Lawrence and Maria Guanella, a poor but pious family in the Italian Alps. He grew up experiencing both poverty and illiteracy, which had a profound impact on his life. Luigi lived during a time of intense political persecution against the Catholic Church, and its priests and religious were constantly harassed and threatened by civil authorities


Luigi entered  the seminary at age twelve, and was ordained on 26 May 1866. After seven years, he joined the Salesians, working  with St John Bosco from 1875 to 1878 to care for homeless children. He was a youth director in Turin and parish priest in Traona, where he opened a school for the poor, which local antiCatholic Masons forced its closure in 1881.

In 1881 he founded an orphanage and nursing home. In 1886 the need had outgrown the facility, so Father Luigi moved the home to a larger building which he called the Little House of Divine Providence. There he founded the Daughters of Saint Mary of Providence to minister to the residents. The congregation received papal approval in 1917, and today has over 1,200 sisters working in over 100 homes. In 1908 Luigi founded a men’s congregation, the Servants of Charity (Guanellians) which received papal approval in 1928 and 1935, and today has over 500 brothers in over 50 houses.


 Father Luigi never bothered to retire, continuing to write meditations and inspirational works, and minister to those in need. He was a friend and adviser to Bl. Andrea Carlo Ferrari and Pope Saint Pius X. He reclaimed marsh land in the Sondrio region, and built an institute for the handicapped.

In December 1912, Father Luigi traveled to the major cities of America, and saw for himself  the deplorable conditions emigrants from Italy and the rest of the world were living in. In May 1913, six Daughters of St. Mary of Providence traveled to Chicago, Ill., thus beginning the presence of the Guanellians in America.



In 1913 he founded the Confraternity of Saint Joseph whose mission is to pray for the dying, and which today has 10 million members. In 1915, just months before his death, Father Luigi went into the fields to minister to those who had been harmed by a series of earthquakes in the region.
With Bl. Clara Bosatta

He died in ComoItaly of complications from a stroke he suffered on September 27, 1915 and died October 24. His final resting place is in the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Como.

He was canonized on  23 October 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

NEW AMERICAN SAINT




This year we shall add another saint to our growing roster of saints born in the USA. He will be beatified in Detroit this year. FATHER SOLANUS CASEY was a  Capuchin Franciscan friar who ministered in Detroit

He was born in Wisconsin in 1870 and spent his life in the service of others, especially the poor. He is the second (Bl. Stanley Rother is the first)  American born male saint.



He contracted diphtheria in 1878 which permanently damaged his voice and left it wispy and slightly impaired.  In 1887 he left the farm to work in a series of jobs in his home state and in Minnesota working as a lumberjack and a hospital orderly as well as working as a guard in the Minnesota state prison and a street car operator in Superior.  

While working at his last job he witnessed a brutal murder which caused him to evaluate his life and his future. When driving in a rowdy section of Superior,  he saw a drunken sailor stab a woman to death. He then acted on a call he felt to the priesthood. But due to his limited formal education he enrolled at Saint Francis High School Seminary - the minor seminary of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee - in January 1891 hoping to become a diocesan priest. Classes there were taught either in German and Latin which he did not know how to speak. He was advised that due to his academic limitations, he should consider joining a religious order if he wanted to become a priest. There he could be ordained a "simplex" priest who could preside at a Mass but would not have the faculties for public preaching or hearing confessions.


Fr. Wm. Hart McNichols

Following this advice he applied to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin in Detroit into which he was received in 1897. But his moving to Detroit came on December 8, 1896 after reflecting before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary when he heard her distinct voice telling him to "go to Detroit". He struggled through his studies, but received his ordination to the priesthood on July 24, 1904 from Archbishop Sebastian Messmer at the Saint Francis of Assisi church in Milwaukee. Because he had not performed well enough in his studies he was ordained as a "sacerdos simplex".

He served for two decades in a succession of assignments in friaries in New York. His first assignment was at the Sacred Heart Friary in Yonkers and was later transferred to New York City where he first served at St John's Church next to Penn Station and later at Our Lady Queen of Angels in Harlem.

He was recognized as an inspiring speaker. In August 1924 he was transferred to the St Bonaventure convent in Detroit where he worked until 1945. During this time he served for the most part as the simple porter (doorkeeper). Each Wednesday afternoon he conducted well-attended services for the sick and through these services became known for his great compassion and the amazing results of his consultations with visitors. People considered him instrumental in cures and other blessings received from him.
Lewis Williams


He loved to kneel before the Eucharist in the quiet of the night; Father Benedict Groeschel once recalled visiting the convent on a warm night and was unable to sleep. Taking a walk around 3:00am, he arrived at the chapel where he put on two lights and saw Casey kneeling on the top step of the altar. Father Groeschel observed him for several moments and noted Casey didn't move – the priest simply flicked the lights off to leave Casey to his prayer.

Father Solanus  loved to play the violin for his fellow friars during their time of recreation and often accompanied this with an Irish song. His terrible singing voice was attributed to his speech impediment he had since his childhood. His fellow friars could not refrain from rolling their eyes or cuffing coughs so he would excuse himself politely and sneak down to the chapel to entertain an invisible audience at the tabernacle. The friar often fasted but did eat enough in moderation since for him that was essential. Until his late seventies he was able to join the younger religious in games of tennis and volleyball and even went jogging on occasion.

In 1946 in failing health and suffering from eczema over his entire body,  he was transferred to the Capuchin novitiate of St Felix in Huntington in Indiana where he lived until 1956 when he was hospitalized in Detroit. In 1957 he was rushed to hospital for food poisoning and upon his release was noted by the friars that he was walking much slower and was scratching at his legs only to discover his skin was raw and infected which prompted a return to the hospital. The doctors diagnosed him with erysipelas which was beyond treatment and the doctors were even considering amputation. This idea was dropped soon when the ulcers began to heal.



On July 2, 1957 he was readmitted to hospital for good.  e died from erysipelas on July 31, 1957 at 11:00 am at St John Hospital in Detroit with only his nurse at his side. His last words reportedly were: "I give my soul to Jesus Christ." There was an estimated 20, 000 people who filed past his coffin prior to his funeral and burial in the cemetery of the Detroit convent he had lived in. On July 8, 1987 his remains were exhumed and reinterred inside the Father Solanus Casey Center at the St Bonaventure convent; his remains were found to be incorrupt save for a little decomposition on his elbows.

He was known during his lifetime as a wonderworker known for his great faith and his abilities as a spiritual counselor but also for his great attention to the sick for whom he celebrated special Masses. He was dubbed a wonderworker for his working of miracles during his life which made him a much sought-after individual and came to be a revered and notable figure. He also loved the violin which was a trait he shared with his namesake St Francis Solanus.

About 20 years ago I was in Fond du LacWI and visited the nearby monastery at Mount Calvary, where even then father Solanus was honored as a future saint of the Capucian Order, which also boasts St. Padre Pio.




Friday, May 19, 2017

UPDATE ON IRISH JESUIT- BLESSED OF THE POOR



FATHER JOHN SULLIVAN the Irish Jesuit , who  we treated in a Blog last year (6/18/16),  was  beatified at the Church of St. Francis Xavier in Dublin on May 13.

Father John Sullivan (1861-1933) was son of Sir Edward Sullivan, 1st Baronet, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Father Sullivan grew up as an Anglican in Dublin, became a Catholic at 35, and was ordained a Jesuit priest at 46.

In his priestly life, he was known for his prayer and his ministry to the poor.

“Living in Ireland between the 19th and 20th centuries, he dedicated his life to the teaching and spiritual formation of young people, and he was greatly loved and sought after as a father of the poor and the suffering,” Pope Francis said during his Regina Coeli address the following day. “We thank God for his testimony.”




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

VICTIM SOUL FOR PRIESTS



BL. PIERRE-JOSEPH CASSANT was born on 6 March 1878 in France to parents who were orchard-keepers as the second child born to them.  He was a student at a boarding school run by De La Salle Brothers and it was here that his abilities in memorizing things were became quite diminished, leading  to increasing learning difficulties. Despite these failings he was seen as a quiet and caring child.

It was at the age of 14 that he realized that he wanted to become a priest but his learning difficulties prevented him from entering the seminary. He went to the parish priest, Father Filhol, for advice. Father suggested he ask the Trappists, where Pierre-Joseph was accepted in 1894.  He was placed under the charge of Father André Mallet who said to him: "only trust and I will help you to love Jesus".

During his novitiate he received the religious name of Marie-Joseph and was known for his strong determination to his studies to fulfill his lifelong wish of being ordained to the priesthood. He suffered from extreme tuberculosis around the time of his ordination and died not long after he was made a priest.

He often spent time meditating upon Christ in his Passion and on the Cross, depending on Him for strength during his studies. To further advance his chances of studying for the priesthood, he underwent further studies of the French language and began to learn Latin. It was around this time that he formed his personal motto, "all for Jesus, all through Mary".

He made his final vows on the Feast of the Ascension on 24 May 1900. From this point  he focused on becoming a priest and he viewed Holy Orders in relation to the Eucharist as being a critical facet of the duties of a priest.

The monk assigned to teach him humiliated and ridiculed him in public and said: "You are totally limited! It is useless for you to study. You will not learn any more. To ordain you would be a dishonor to the priesthood", yet  Father Mallet assisted him with the course. His fellow seminarians thought well of him, and some said of him: "He was always happy. It's what made the beauty of his face".

Despite difficulties he was ordained as a priest on 12 October 1902. Immediately after this on 13 October, he was granted seven weeks of rest due to the advancement of tuberculosis he suffered. In spite of rest, his lungs were damaged beyond the point of repair, making his breathing difficult.  His health continued to worsen when he returned to the monastery on 2 December 1902.

In his illness it was Father Mallet who became his close aid and support. Bl. Pierre-Joseph said "when I can no longer say Mass, Jesus can take me from this world".

He became part of the Association of Victim Souls dedicated to the oblation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ and signed an Act of Oblation to emulate the tenets of the organization. Bl. Pierre-Joseph followed in the footsteps  Bl. Charles de Foucauld, SOG Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, and Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, the future Pope Pius X.

Bl. Pierre-Joseph  celebrated his final Mass on 31 May 1903 and received the last rites the following day.
He died in the dawn of 17 June 1903 after receiving Communion during a private Mass that Father Mallet celebrated for him; his final words were: "Jesus, Mary, Joseph, assist me in my last agony". Since his death there have been more than 2200 people from 30 countries that have reported miracles attributed to his intercession.

Pope  (St.) John Paul II proclaimed him to be Venerable  in 1984 and beatified him in 2004 after the approval of a miracle: the healing of a nine year old from cerebrospinal meningitis who was healed a day after praying to the future saint.

Monday, May 15, 2017

ANOTHER SOUL FOR JESUS


These next two Saints to be I found on the site of the monks of Silverstream in Ireland. In reading snatches of their lives, I find great similarities between them and St. Faustina. The Lord seems to give the same message to those whom He loves-  a message so needed in our sad world today.


SERVANT of GOD SISTER BENIGNA CONSOLATA FERRERO was born in Turin in 1885, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord.


Suffering entered her life at an early age. As an infant, her afflictions grew daily. Her health continued to decline until Signora Ferrero, perceiving this sad turn of events, took her child to the Church of St. Dalmazzo, where she knelt before an altar of Our Lady and invoked the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Virgin for the welfare of her beloved daughter. Not long afterwards, little Maria was restored to full health.

From an early age, Maria exhibited clear signs of a great love for God. She was always willing to help her neighbor, and while she was indulgent with others, always seeking to excuse their faults, she never let herself become attached to the complements that she received. 

Maria’s great pleasure as a child was to spend time with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. On one occasion, her family passed their summer holiday in the country-side, far from any Catholic Church. During this time, Maria had to content herself with frequent acts of spiritual communion, which Our Lord would later encourage, with the words: “I am in the Sacrament of My love for My creatures, and they make so little account of it! O do thou at least, My Benigna, make as many spiritual communions as possible to supply for the Sacramental Communions which are not made. One every quarter of an hour is not enough. Make them shorter, but more numerous. My Benigna, seek to draw souls to receive Me in Holy Communion.”


In one of her early manuscripts, Maria writes, "One day, my soul felt sweetly attracted and I heard the voice of my God; it was so sweet that I scarcely dared to make a movement for fear of hearing it no longer, and while listening I wept with emotion. Jesus told me that He would give Himself to me, that He would be to me as a mother to a child, and that He would furnish me occasions of suffering for Him."  She entered the Visitation Order in Como, Italy, in 1907.


The Lord revealed to her his insatiable thirst for souls, and promised to grant her a great thirst for the conversion of sinners. Maria expressed the desires of her heart in the following words: “O Jesus, do with me all that Thou wilt; I place in Thee all my confidence and I abandon myself to Thy loving cares; henceforth I wish to serve Thee in peace, joy and love, as Thou Thyself hast taught me; but let me implore Thee to grant me the grace of knowing Thee that I may love Thee with all my heart, and of knowing myself that I may humble myself profoundly." Our Lord responded graciously to Maria’s firm resolution to become a saint. He said to her: "Thou hast taken the resolution to become holy: this is well and thou must not fail; but it is not to an ordinary sanctity thou art called; thou must aim at the most sublime perfection."

 Like many Saints and victim souls, Sr. Benigna was chosen, not because of her strength or virtue, but because of her weakness and misery:  
“I have chosen thee because thou art wretched and miserable, in order that thou mayst attribute nothing to thyself and know that all good comes from God.” Jesus dictated the “Decalogue of Mercy” to Sr. Benigna, which contain perhaps some of the most tender and encouraging words ever recorded: “The more evil the state to which the soul is reduced by the sins of the past, by her disorders and passions, so much the more pleased is Love to have so much to accomplish in her.  Souls the most miserable, the most weak, the most infirm, are the best clients of Love, the most desired by the divine Mercy.  These souls, thus become, as it were, the favorite of God, will, like so many living monuments, exalt and magnify the multitude of His mercies, sending up to God the reflections of living light, His own light, which they have received from Him during their mortal life- the multitude of kindnesses God has made use of to conduct them to eternal salvation. These souls will shine like previous gems, and will form the crown of the Divine Mercy.”


Jesus begged for the love of souls, including those who wound Him most. Even the most shameful sinners should be inspired with confidence in God’s mercy after reading the tender revelations given to Sr. Benigna Consolata. Jesus continually made known to her that He yearns to save even the most sordid sinners. He invites all sinners to bathe their souls in His Precious Blood, which was shed for our salvation: "Provided I find good will in a soul, I am never weary of looking upon its miseries- My love is fed by consuming miseries; the soul that brings Me the most, if the heart is contrite and humble, is the one that pleases Me most, because she gives Me an opportunity of exercising more fully My office of Savior. But what I wish particularly to say to thee, My Benigna, is that the soul ought never to be afraid of God, because God is all-merciful; the greatest pleasure of the Sacred Heart of thy Jesus is to lead to His Father numerous sinners; they are My glory and My jewels… Sins may be enormous and numerous; but provided that the soul returns to Me, I am always ready to pardon   all, to forget all.”

Sr. Benigna Consolata died in 1916.  O' Jesus, True Charity and God of Love, Goodness without limits: I, a miserable sinner, in order to honor Thy incomparable mercy, offer, give and abandon myself forever to the love of Thy most amiable and tender Heart.  

Saturday, May 13, 2017

JESUS APPEALS TO OUR WORLD

As today is the centennial of the first appearance at FATIMA, let us take a look at one who  was known for the intense propagation of the Holy Rosary, along with an apparition by the Sacred Heart of Jesus and her guardian angel in 1916 during the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

SERVANT of GOD SISTER MARIA CONSOLATA BETRONE was born in 1903 in  Saluzzo, Piedmont, Italy in a middle-class family of bakers who also ran a restaurant. She was  a Catholic mystic and nun of the Franciscan Capuchine Order.
The Lord first moved within the soul of this young and studious girl when she was only 13 years old. One day, as she was busy running errands for her parents, she felt our Lord touched her heart.  
After three failed attempts to join active orders, she was advised by her confessor to enter the Convent of the Poor Clares in Turin in 1930.
She is known for her prayer: "Jesus, Mary, I love you: Save souls" which are not only some words meant to be used as an ejaculatory prayer. It is a concrete way to fully and deeply live the "Little Way of Love" taught by St Thérèse of Lisieux.

Sister Consolata would repeat this one prayer during all her waking hours and in every form of work as she went about her daily tasks. Sister Consolata lived a holy and humble life and did as our Lord requested of her as He revealed her mission in life with these words, "Among the youngest members of Catholic action there are the Little Ones, and among the Little souls there are the Littlest Ones. You belong to these; and to them will belong all those souls who will follow you in offering Me the unceasing act of love."
Sister Consolata spent her whole life attempting to bring to perfection this Tiny Way of Love. She used to fight every thought, every word, every emotion, to keep unceasing her "Jesus, Mary, save souls" all day long, not to spoil one of them (because only one of them means a soul, as Jesus taught her).
In her diary Sister Consolata wrote an impassioned plea to those who would one day come to read this source of spiritual enlightenment, "Jesus reveals to me the intimate sufferings of His Heart caused by the faithlessness of souls consecrated to Him".

After Sister Consolata's death (1946), Father Lorenzo Sales wrote the book "Jesus Appeals to the World" based on her reported messages.
In 1995 Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini started the canonical process of beatification for Sister Mary Consolata Betrone.

Our Lord told her:  "You see, Consolata, sanctity means self-forgetfulness in everything, in thoughts, desires, words....Allow Me to do it all! I will do everything; but you should, at every moment, give Me what I ask for with much love!"

"I delight to work in a soul. You see, I love to do everything Myself; and from this soul I ask only that she love Me."

"If you are in Me and we are one then you will bring forth much fruit and will become strong, for you will disappear like a drop of water in the ocean; My silence will pass into you, and My humility, My purity, My charity, My gentleness, My patience, My thirst for suffering, and My zeal for souls whom I wish to save at all costs!"

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

GREAT FRIENDS IN THE SPIRIT

It amazes me that one saint leads me to another. In reading about Mother Mectilde de Bar, I came
across Bl. Columba Marmion and his name leads me to another.  Here is a great friend of the Blessed.




DESIRE-FELICIEN-FRANCOIS-JOSEPH MERCIER born in 1851  was a Belgian cardinal and a noted  Thomist scholar. His scholarship gained him recognition from the Pope and he was appointed as Archbishop of Mechelen, serving from 1906 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1907.

Mercier is noted for his staunch resistance to the German occupation of 1914–1918 during the Great War.

Desiré Mercier was born at the château du Castegier in Braine-l'Alleud, as the fifth of the seven children of Paul-Léon Mercier and his wife Anne-Marie Barbe Croquet. He entered the minor seminary at Mechelen in 1861 to prepare for the church.  He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Giacomo Cattani, the nuncio to Belgium, on 4 April 1874. Father Mercier  continued with graduate studies, obtaining his licentiate in theology in 1877 and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Louvain.
Three of Father Mercier's sisters became nuns.

One of his maternal uncles was the Reverend Fr. Adrien Croquet a missionary to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation in western Oregon near the Pacific coast, where his surname was anglicized to Crockett. In the 1870s, a Mercier cousin, Joseph Mercier, joined their uncle Fr. Croquet in Oregon. He married a woman of one of the Native American tribes resident there. Today, several thousand descendants of Joseph and his wife are members of the tribe.


In 1877 Father Mercier began teaching philosophy at Mechelen's minor seminary as well as becaming the spiritual director. His comprehensive knowledge of St Thomas Aquinas earned him the newly erected chair of Thomism at Louvain's Catholic university in 1882, a post he held till 1905. It was here that he forged a lifelong friendship with Dom Columba Marmion (See previous BLOG). Raised to the rank of Monsignor on 6 May 1887, Father Mercier founded the Higher Institute of Philosophy at the Louvain University in 1899, which was to be a beacon of Neo-Thomist philosophy.

His reputation within his field gained the recognition of Pope Pius X, and he was appointed as Archbishop of Mechelen and Primate of Belgium on 7 February 1906. He received his episcopal consecration on the following 25 March taking as his episcopal motto: Apostle of Jesus Christ.


With the overrunning of Belgium and the exile of both the King and his government Cardinal Mercier acted as the rallying point for Belgian resistance to German occupation.  He was also one of the cardinal electors in the 1922 papal conclave, which selected Pope Pius XI. By the time he returned from the election of the new Pope, Benedict XV, the majority of the country was in German hands.


Publishing open letters (which were subsequently picked up by Allied and neutral newspapers) the Cardinal criticized the German occupation force.  Ordinarily he could have been expected to be arrested and perhaps even shot for his subversive views - regardless of his position as a cardinal,  but his unusually high profile, and popularity among German Catholics, ensured his continuing liberty, aside from a brief period of arrest in January 1915.

Cardinal Mercier exerted continuous (and ultimately successful) pressure upon the Germans to cease deporting Belgian laborers to factories in Germany, and campaigned against Germany's incitement of Belgium's Flemish population.

Cardinal Mercier suffered from persistent dyspepsia and in early January 1926 he underwent surgery for a lesion of the stomach. During surgery, the anaesthetized Cardinal held a conversation with his surgeon.


In his final days, he was visited by King Albert and Queen ElizabethLord Halifax, and family members. He entered a deep coma around 2:00 p.m. on 23 January and died an hour later, at age 74. The Cardinal was buried at St. Rumbolds Cathedral.

The Cardinal had a  great devotion of the Sacred Heart.

“I am going to reveal to you the secret of sanctity and happiness. Every day for five minutes control your imagination and close your eyes to all the noises of the world in order to enter into yourself. Then, in the sanctuary of your baptized soul (which is the temple of the Holy Spirit) speak to that Divine Spirit, saying to Him: 

O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your Will.

If you do this, your life will flow along happily, serenely, and full of consolation, even in the midst of trials. Grace will be proportioned to the trial, giving you the strength to carry it and you will arrive at the Gate of Paradise, laden with merit. This submission to the Holy Spirit is the secret of sanctity”.