Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Almost a year and a half after an August 2016 earthquake in the central area of the Italy, a tabernacle with 40 intact and consecrated hosts was found amid the rubble in Our Lady of the Assumption church in the town of Arquata.

According to the Italian daily Avvenire, inside the tabernacle “the ciborium was overturned but the lid was still on. And despite all the months that had gone by, the hosts were whole, without any alteration.”

 The Bishop of Ascoli Piceno, Giovanni D’Ercole, told Avvenire what was discovered: “A fresh baked aroma was still noticeable, which is very moving. It is a sign of hope for everyone. It tells us that Jesus also suffered the earthquake like everyone else, but he has come out alive from among the rubble.”

Fr. Angelo Ciancotti of the Ascoli Piceno cathedral said that getting into the tabernacle was not simple: “The problem was opening it up, but my collection of tabernacle keys helped me.”

The priest opened the tabernacle with one of the keys in his extensive collection, and said that inside an overturned ciborium, “was the Body of Christ which for more than a year and a half remained intact, without any change in color, shape or scent.”

Fr. Ciancotti told Avvenire that “there was no bacteria or mold as happens with hosts after a few weeks. Even though they were more than a year and a half old, they seemed to have been made the day before.”

In his opinion “this prodigious and inexplicable discovery” is “a miracle, but above all a message for everyone: it is a sign that reminds us of the centrality of the Eucharist.”
“Jesus is telling us” with these intact hosts that “'I am in your midst. Trust in me.'” he concluded.


Sunday, February 25, 2018


The Mass makes present the Sacrifice made by Jesus on the Cross, and to this Sacrifice we add our own “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” offering up all that we have and all that we are.

So many feel that Lent is the time to offer up, what I would call trivial things, such as no desserts ( I am sure the Lord could care less if we eat sweets or not), when the real purpose of Lent is to look into our hearts and see where we need to be healed and grow into the life He has called us to.   

The Eucharist, Jesus’ own Body and Blood given for us, should be our focus for Lent.  If we truly believe that Jesus is our salvation, our healing, and our peace, then we would receive Him daily.

“Every celebration of the Eucharist is a ray of light of the unsetting sun that is the Risen Jesus Christ. To participate in Mass means entering in the victory of the Risen, being illuminated by His light, warmed by His warmth.”  Pope Francis

One saint who understood the meaning of Christ’s Body given for us, was St. Peter Julian Eymard (d. 1868). His apostolate of the Eucharist met with widespread opposition, especially among priests of his own day. The focus of the opposition was St.Peter Julian’s emphasis on the real, corporeal and physical presence of the living Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. What he discovered was what the Church had always believed. But he contributed to a major development of doctrine in understanding the reality of Christ’s Eucharistic presence now on earth.

St. Peter had his critics but he also had his friends. Not the least of his admirers was the Cure of Ars (St. John Vianney) who knew St. Peter Julian personally. The Cure wrote of him, “He is a saint. The world hinders his work, but not knowingly, and it will do great things for the glory of God. Adoration by priests! How wonderful! Tell the good Fr. Eymard I will pray for his work every day.”

“His priests or His faithful people must give Him everything; the matter of the sacrament, the bread and the wine; the linen on which to place Him or with which to cover Him; the corporals, the altar cloths. He brings nothing from heaven except His adorable person and His love."  St. Peter Julian

St. Peter Julian teaches us that Jesus  is to be imitated twice over: once as the Son of God, who came to deliver us and once again as the same Incarnate God who is now living His glorified life in the Blessed Sacrament. 

“The Lord Jesus, by making Himself into bread broken for us, pours over us all His mercy and His love, as He did on the cross, so as to renew our hearts, our existence and our way of relating with Him and our brothers,”  (Pope Francis)

Friday, February 23, 2018


Soon to be Blessed, VERONICA ANTAL  was a Romanian Roman Catholic professed member from the Secular Franciscan Order and member of the Militia Immaculatae. She was known for her strong faith and her love for the Mother of God. She had long desired to enter the religious life as a nun but settled on the Secular Franciscans after the communist regime suppressed convents and monasteries in Romania. Since her death she has been known as both "Saint Veronica" and has also been titled as the "Maria Goretti of Romania" due to the manner of her death similar to that of St. Maria.

Veronica Antal was born on 7 December 1935 in Botești, the first of four children to George and Eva. Her parents spent so much time at work in the fields that her grandmother Zarafina raised her and instructed her in the faith  and it was in her childhood that her devotion to the Blessed Virgin was manifested.

Her schooling was spent in her hometown from age seven where she earned good grades before leaving to join her parents to work in the fields. When she was sixteen that she desired to enter the convent as a Franciscan nun and  to help children.  Her longing never materialized because the communist regime had suppressed all convents and monasteries in Romania.

Instead she joined the Secular Franciscan Order  making a private vow to remain chaste. Veronica walked five miles to the nearest church just so that she could receive the Eucharist. She also joined the Militia Immaculatae that St Maximilian Kolbe founded. Not long before her death she began reading about St Maria Goretti and confided later to two friends that she wished to act much like the saint.

Veronica  on left

On the evening of 24 August 1958 she returned from her local parish after having just received Confirmation when Pavel Mocanu began to harass her en route home. He made indecent proposals to her and then attacked her in a vain effort to rape her. But Veronica fended him off to the point he stabbed her to death with a knife 42 times.

 Her parents grew alarmed that she had not returned home so searched for her. Laborers en route to work discovered her corpse in the middle of a field on  August 26 and discovered one of her rosaries clasped in her hands. Her face was downwards covered in blood with a cross of corn pods on her back. Her funeral was celebrated on 27 August. 

Her beatification cause opened in 2003 and she became a Servant of God. Pope Francis confirmed that she died to preserve herself as a virgin against evil which confirmed her beatification (as opposed to needing a miracle). 

The beatification will occur in Romania pending formal confirmation of a date and location.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


I am going to use the theme of the Holy Eucharist this Lent- leading us to Holy Thursday. For me, many of the ills in our world and especially in our Church are due to a lack of understanding of Christ’s greatest gift to us in His own Body and Blood. If we really believed that what He left us before His death, is truly His Body and Blood, there would be more true joy in our lives, and in the world. I remember my mother, who never converted to the Catholic faith, telling my brother Jeff and I after one of our squabbles:  if I believed what you do, I would not be in this trouble!

When I taught CCD to teens on another island, I would ask them if they would crawl to the bank through muck if they knew there was $10,000 waiting for them.  All agreed they would.  Then I asked- how much more would they go on  Sunday to receive the Body of their God?

"By a beautiful paradox of Divine love, God makes His Cross the very means of our salvation and our life. We have slain Him; we have nailed Him there and crucified Him; but the Love in His eternal heart could not be extinguished. He willed to give us the very life we slew; to give us the very Food we destroyed; to nourish us with the very Bread we buried, and the very Blood we poured forth. He made our very crime into a happy fault; He turned a Crucifixion into a Redemption; a Consecration into a Communion; a death into Life Everlasting,"

                                     Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen  (This is the Mass)

Friday, February 16, 2018


We sometimes think we have it hard, but then we read about the life of a religious 
who knew  real bigotry in her life, in spite of her dedication to others.

MOTHER THERESA  was born Marie Almeide Maxis Duchemin in Baltimore to a Haitian mother and a white father who never acknowledged her. She was raised by her mother, a free woman, who worked as a nurse.

Almaide was raised by her mother’s guardians, the Duchemin family. She was immersed in the French language and culture of the Haitian refugee community and received an education uncommon to most women of the time. She was a favorite pupil in the school operated by Elizabeth Lange and Marie Magdaleine Balas, in the Fells Point neighborhood of the city, and soon came under their care.

In 1829, at age nineteen, Almeide became one of the founding members of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first religious community for African-American women. At the start she was the only American-born member. She took the religious name of Theresa, and later served as Mother Superior.

In 1831, when a cholera epidemic struck Baltimore, the Oblates helped nurse the sick. In the process Theresa’s mother, who had also joined the community, died of the disease. While the city fathers publicly thanked the white sisters for their service, they ignored the Oblates altogether. During the 1840’s, the community experienced a major crisis as ecclesiastical authorities tried to disband it. At that time  Mother Theresa, who was seven-eighths white, seems to have made a decision to no longer identify with her African-American heritage and left the Oblates.

 Soon thereafter she met a young Belgian Redemptorist priest named Louis Florent Gillet, who was looking for sisters to teach in Monroe, Michigan.  

Fr. Louis & Mother Theresa

In November 1845, Sister Theresa and Father Gillet founded the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (I.H.M.). She became the first Mother Superior. Over the next decade, the Sisters opened several schools and orphanages in Michigan. In 1858, they  opened schools in Pennsylvania. In doing so, they incurred the wrath of Detroit’s Bishop, Peter Paul Lefevre, who used his authority to depose Mother Theresa. The bishop knew about her racial background, and prejudice played a big part in his animosity toward her.

After the bishop in Pennsylvania refused to take her, she became an exile without a community. She was forced to take refuge in Canada with the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart. For nearly twenty years  Mother Theresa lived with them, but she always considered herself a Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In 1885, Bishop James Wood of Philadelphia lifted the ban, and at age seventy-five, Mother Theresa was allowed to return to the community she had founded. Few founders of a religious community have followed, as one historian puts it, “so tortuous a path.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


As we watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics, the hope of peace between North and South Korea was uppermost in our hearts and we were reminded of champions of another kind on that same soil with the KOREAN MARTYRS.

Korea’s first priest, Andrew Kim Taegon, was born 1821 into an aristocratic Korean family that eventually included three generations of Catholic martyrs. St. Andrews great-grandfather died for his Catholic faith in 1814, decades before the first Catholic missionary priests arrived on the peninsula from France.

“The first Christian community in Korea [is] a community unique in the history of the Church by reason of the fact that it was founded entirely by lay people,” said John Paul II at the canonization of 103 Korean martyrs, including Andrew Kim Taegon, in 1984.

“The splendid flowering of the Church in Korea today is indeed the fruit of the heroic witness of the martyrs. Even today, their undying spirit sustains the Christians in the Church of silence in the North of this tragically divided land,” said  St. John Paul II at the martyrs’ 1984 canonization.

St. Andrew Kim traveled over 1,000 miles to attend seminary in Macau. While he was away at seminary, his father, Ignatius Kim Chae-jun, was martyred for his faith in 1839.

After St. Andrew was ordained in Shanghai in 1845, he returned to his homeland to begin catechizing Koreans in secret. Only 13 months later, he was arrested.
In his final letter from prison before he was tortured and beheaded, he wrote to Korean Christians:

"Dearest brothers and sisters: when he was in the world, the Lord Jesus bore countless sorrows and by His own passion and death founded His Church; now He gives it increase through the sufferings of His faithful. No matter how fiercely the powers of this world oppress and oppose the Church, they will never bring it down. Ever since His Ascension and from the time of the apostles to the present, the Lord Jesus has made His Church grow even in the midst of tribulations...I urge you to remain steadfast in faith, so that at last we will all reach heaven and there rejoice together. I embrace you all in love."

“St. Andrew Kim Taegon exhorted believers to draw from divine love the strength to remain united and to resist evil,” said Pope St. John Paul II on his third and final papal trip to South Korea, in 2001.

During a century in which an estimated 10,000 Christians were martyred in Korea during waves of persecution by the Chosun Dynasty, Christianity continued to grow.

In 1989, at South Korea’s Olympic Gymnastics Hall, Saint John Paul II again pointed young people to look to those martyrs, as the Korean people continued to grapple with the peninsula’s division.

“Your martyrs, many of them of your own age, were much stronger in their suffering and death than their persecutors in their hatred and violence. Violence destroys; love transforms and builds up. This is the challenge which Christ offers to you, young people of Korea, who wish to be instruments of true progress in the history of your country. Christ calls you, not to tear down and destroy, but to transform and build up!” the Pope said.

“The Korean nation is symbolic of a world divided and not yet able to become one in peace and justice,” the Pontiff said on the same papal trip, “yet there is a way forward. True peace – the shalom which the world urgently needs – springs eternally from the infinitely rich mystery of God’s love.”

“As Christians we are convinced that Christ’s Paschal Mystery makes present and available the force of life and love which overcomes all evil and all separation,” St. John Paul II continued. “the Eucharist is the sacrament of Christ’s “peace” because it is the memorial of the salvific redemptive sacrifice of the Cross.”

Monday, February 12, 2018


WYOMING CATHOLIC COLLEGE is marking its 10th anniversary this school year. The school’s distinctive combination of a Great Books curriculum and strong formation in the Catholic faith with outdoor learning is the kind of education I would have wanted in my youth. Horseback riding, hiking, canoeing as part of the general studies- are you kidding?

One of our early and most beloved land program men is now a professor of philosophy there, and a recent land program woman graduated from WCC a few years ago.  Another young woman, whom we hope is the future of religious life at OLR, is presently a student there.

WCC whose official founding is Aug. 25,  is one of the newest additions to the small group of faithfully Catholic colleges in the United States. It is perhaps most similar to Thomas Aquinas College in California (another college where we have had LP youth come to work & study with us). Both schools have a Great Books program. 

But Wyoming Catholic stands out for its near-total ban on campus cellphone (my kind of place) use among students and its heavy emphasis on the outdoors as a place to nurture the virtues, grow in faith and better appreciate the timeless wisdom of the classics of Western literature. Approximately 60 percent of students attend daily Mass, and all attend Sunday Mass. A sizable number of students have expressed interest in a priestly or religious vocation, our Hannah being one of them.

Wyoming Catholic College in Lander uses the town's sole Catholic church and accompanying facilities as an interim campus. Access to Lander isn’t easy. Students typically fly into Salt Lake City or Denver. Riverton, only slightly larger than Lander, has a regional airport with daily flights into and out of Denver International Airport. Around breaks and holidays, students volunteer to help transport people to Denver and Salt Lake.

WCC is the only private four-year institution of higher education in the state. The college takes no federal aid money, which means the govt. can't tell them how to run things!  The faculty is 100% Catholic ( I honestly wonder how these supposedly Catholic Universities can call themselves Catholic when they have non- Catholics teaching Philosophy & Theology).and the student body  is 98% Catholic.   In the spring of 2016, WCC became the second college in the nation to accept the Classic Learning Test (CLT) as an alternative to the SAT and ACT for college admissions.

Interestingly enough all freshmen spend 21 days in an intensive wilderness survival program as their first weeks of school, where they hone time management and communications skills and bond with their classmates. Students participate in some kind of an outdoor trip be it camping in the desert, ice climbing or building snow caves,  on average once a semester during their four years at the school.

Bishop Ricken, the former bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming, said the idea for the college was born out of a dinner conversation with Father Robert Cook, a local parish priest, and Robert Carlson, a professor in the humanities. Carlson had been a student of John Senior, an influential Catholic scholar at the University of Kansas who had written about the importance of re-engaging contemporary students with the natural world.

In the course of their conversation, Bishop Ricken voiced his concerns about how the Church was losing its young people. He wanted a way to reach out to them. Inspired by the work of a Newman Center at a local Wyoming college, they decided to launch a summer seminar on Catholic thought, which served as a pilot program for Wyoming Catholic College.

“Just beginning a college is a huge enterprise, as you might imagine, and we started from scratch,” Bishop Ricken said. One of the first steps was an advertisement in the Wyoming Catholic Register seeking land. Bishop Ricken said the founders received 47 responses: Seven wanted to give the college the land it needed; the others were offering it at a discounted price.

We need more truly Catholic colleges if we are to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life, as well as nurturing Catholic families.

Saturday, February 10, 2018


February 11 is the 26th World Day of the Sick, a commemoration instituted by St. John Paul II. The World Day of the Sick takes place each year on the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The title of Pope Francis’s message for the day is “Mater Ecclesiae [Mother of the Church]: ‘Behold, your son... Behold, your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.’“ (Jn 19:26-27)

In his letter instituting the commemoration, St. John Paul wrote that the day should be “a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one’s suffering for the good of the Church and of reminding everyone to see in his sick brother or sister the face of Christ who, by suffering, dying, and rising, achieved the salvation of mankind.”

“To Mary, Mother of tender love, we wish to entrust all those who are ill in body and soul, that she may sustain them in hope.  We ask her also to help us to be welcoming to our sick brothers and sisters.  The Church knows that she requires a special grace to live up to her evangelical task of serving the sick.  May our prayers to the Mother of God see us united in an incessant plea that every member of the Church may live with love the vocation to serve life and health.  

May the Virgin Mary intercede for this Twenty-sixth World Day of the Sick; may she help the sick to experience their suffering in communion with the Lord Jesus; and may she support all those who care for them.  To all, the sick, to healthcare workers and to volunteers, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.” (Pope Francis)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


The Holy Father has certainly been busy this month, giving us more new saints!  February 6. the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved the second miracle needed for the canonization of BLESSED POPE PAUL VI,  (See BLOG  5/15/2014) allowing his canonization to take place, possibly later this year.

The next step is for Pope Francis to also give his approval, with an official decree from the Vatican. Then the date for the canonization can be set. The canonization may take place in October of this year, during the Synod of Bishops on the youth.

The miracle attributed to the cause of Paul VI is the healing of an unborn child in the fifth month of pregnancy. The case was brought forward in 2014 for study.
The mother, originally from the province of Verona, Italy, had an illness that risked her own life and the life of her unborn child, and was advised to have an abortion.

A few days after the beatification of Paul VI on Oct. 19, 2014, she went to pray to him at the Shrine of Holy Mary of Grace in the town of Brescia. The baby girl was later born in good health, and remains in good health today.

The healing was first ruled as medically inexplicable by the medical council of the congregation last year, while the congregation's consulting theologians agreed that the healing occurred through the late pope's intercession.

The miracle for Paul VI's canonization echoes that of his beatification. That first miracle took place in the 1990s in California. A then-unborn child was found to have a serious health problem that posed a high risk of brain damage. Physicians advised that the child be aborted, but the mother entrusted her pregnancy to Paul VI.

The child was born without problems and is now a healthy adolescent. He is considered to be completely healed.

Pope Paul VI was born Giovanni Montini in 1897 in the town of Concesio in the Lombardy region of Italy. He was ordained a priest at the age of 22. He served as Archbishop of Milan before his election as Pope in 1963. He died in 1978.
As pope, he oversaw much of the Second Vatican Council, which had been opened by Pope St. John XXIII. He also promulgated a new Roman Missal in 1969.

Pope Paul VI published the encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968, which reaffirmed the Church’s teaching against contraception and reaffirmed the merits of priestly celibacy.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


 As of February 3, 2018 the Church has a new blessed, of whom  Pope Francis said:   He has borne witness to Christ through the love of the weak, and he is united with the long rank of the martyrs of the last century...
May his heroic sacrifice be the seed  of hope and fraternity, especially for young people.”

BL. TERESIO OLIVELLI an Italian layman who was killed in hatred of the faith in 1945, at the Nazi camp in Hersbruck, Germany

Teresio Olivelli was born in 1916 in Como to Domenico Olivelli and Clelia Invernizzi. His maternal uncle was the parish priest Rocco Invernizzi, who served as the blessed's spiritual and moral guide. He moved with his parents in 1926 to Pavia,  where he excelled in his studies.

In 1934 he graduated in law with honors in 1938 from the Ghislieri College. Each week he went to confession and  received the Eucharist in the parish of San Lorenzo. It was around this time that he was a member of Catholic Action.

In 1939 he became the assistant of administrative law at the University of Turin and won a competition in Trieste for oratorical skills, with a thesis on human dignities for all irrespective of race. He also penned articles on the social and legal issues of the times in the college paper "Book and Musket" and in the journal "Fascist Civilization". While in Turin he aided the poor and orphaned. He also learned to speak fluent German.

In 1936 he volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War and then moved for educational reasons to Berlin from 1939 to 1941. In 1941 he volunteered to go to Russia to fight in World War II where he contracted frostbite due to the severe cold weather. Bl. Teresio did not want to swear allegiance to the new Italian Social Republic in 1943 and was thus deported to Innsbruck in Austria on 9 September 1943 until he managed to flee and settle in Milan October 21.

He started to become critical of the Italian regime and believed he could improve it through a more Christian message, though later broke from it after seeing the situation with deporting Jewish people as per racial laws and the French invasion. He became part of the Italian resistance movement in Milan as part of the triangular resistance including Brescia and Cremona branches.He worked to create the newspaper "Il ribelle". His paper was the underground newspaper for the Green Flames Brigades partisan group.

Bl. Teresio was apprehended in Milan on April 27,1944 and was at once taken to the prison of San Vitore where he was tortured and beaten before being moved to Fossoli on June 8. On July 11 his name was added to a list of 70 inmates to be shot, but  he fled and hid in a field until he was recaptured. He was then transferred to Bolzano (August 1944) before being sent to Flossenburg in September, and then to Hersbruck. He shared food rations with inmates and treated their injuries and even spent time with Blessed Odoardo Focherini to comfort him before the latter died. 

 Blessed Odoardo Focherini was an Italian Roman Catholic journalist. He issued false documents to Jewish people during World War II in order to escape the Nazi regime but was arrested and sent to a concentration camp where he later died. Yad Vashem later recognized him as a Righteous Among the Nations in 1969 for  his efforts.He was beatified in June 2013.
Bl. Odoardo

Bl. Teresio died from injuries he sustained in 1945 not long after defending a Ukrainian inmate from being attacked. He was kicked in the stomach and intestines  being struck 25 times. His remains were cremated at the camp's crematorium.

"The Gospel and the constant reference to the figure of Jesus were his strengths.”  (Pope Francis)

Saturday, February 3, 2018


Almost  every month in the Magnificat, there is a homily by MADELEINE DELBREL, whom I find interesting, not the least because she was a mystic. The last weekend of January Pope Francis proclaimed her venerable.

Madeleine was born in Mussidan, France in 1904. Her father was of an artistic disposition, and Madeleine inherited his interest in and talent for writing. Throughout her childhood, she lived in several different places, and was never able to feel at home or make friends anywhere. Her parents were not religious, so Madeleine was an atheist by age of fifteen, experiencing life as absurd. At seventeen she wrote a tract titled: "God is dead--long live!" which expresses her view that death is the only certainty in life.

She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne  (where our foundress, Lady Abbess Benedicta Duss studied medicine) by day and impressed  friends reading from her writing in the evenings. She decided that if life were “more absurd by the day” and death was all she could count on, she should live her youth to its fullest. She and her friends threw extravagant parties, and she was engaged to a fellow atheist philosopher.

When her fiencé suddenly decided to join the Dominicans and her father went blind, her life fell apart. At the same time she began to notice that life did not seem absurd to her Christian friends, who still enjoyed life as much as she did. Suddenly, God's existence did not seem a complete impossibility anymore. She decided to kneel and pray, and also remembered Teresa of Avila's recommendation to silently think of God for five minutes each day. Madeleine called the year of 1924 the year of her conversion.

In praying she found God—or as she felt, He found her. To her He was someone to love just like any other person. At first she considered taking the veil and entering the Carmelite order, but then felt called upon to be in touch with people and help them lead happier lives.

She describes her conversion: “By reading and reflecting, I found God; but by praying, I believed that God found me and that He is living reality, and that we can love Him in the same way we love a person.” And she loved people strongly. Her friends describe her as an empathetic listener, who was always quick to jump to their defense, engage in deep conversations or extend a maternal hug.

 She led a group of women in Ivry, a small working-class town, with the goal of simply caring, consoling, aiding, and establishing good contact with the people. She then took a degree in Social Studies and was employed by the city government of Ivry, where she worked throughout World War II and thereafter.

After her conversion, around the time that the Great Depression hit France, the new Venerable  founded a house of hospitality with two other working women in a predominantly communist suburb of Paris, where she lived until her death. This, along with her prolific writing and social justice work, often lead people to call her the “French Dorothy Day.”

Members of the new house promised chastity and simple living, and they worked primarily for workers’ rights and the unemployed while also evangelizing -  a difficult task in a city where Christians and communists often harassed one another in the streets.

Because of her social justice work Madeleine often found herself working side-by-side with communists, becoming close friends with them. After the war, the new communist mayor of Ivry asked her to continue working as Minister of Social Services. She pioneered the idea that Catholics could love communists while rejecting their ideology- an approach that was unpopular among French Christians as well as Americans at that time.

Her most important contribution to theology may have been her writing on the missionary role of the laity, which she first mentioned in 1933, years before the idea would be picked up by the mid-century ressourcement movement and then written into official church teaching at the Second Vatican Council (“Lumen Gentium”).

Her most popular book, We, the Ordinary People of the Streets, outlines in detail how lay people can be missionaries in daily life. In one particularly lyrical passage, she describes how a lay missionary sees the world:
From a sand dune, dressed in white, the [traditional] missionary overlooks an expanse of lands filled with unbaptized peoples. From the top of a long subway staircase, dressed in an ordinary suit or raincoat, we [ordinary people] overlook, on each step, during this busy rush-hour time, an expanse of heads, of bustling heads, waiting for the door to open. Caps, berets, hats, and hair of every color. Hundreds of heads - hundreds of souls. And there we stand, above. And above us, and everywhere, is God.

For Madeleine, evangelizing did not mean giving someone faith, which she believed only God could do, but telling “people, who don’t know, who Christ is, what he said, and what he did—so that they do know order that they may know what we believe and what we are sure of.”

She died unexpectedly of a brain hemorrhage at age 60 in 1964, at her desk in the house of hospitality in Ivry. An effort is underway to restore her house in Ivry, and two communities named after her have been established in Franceone for young professionals and another for young men discerning priesthood.

She has been cited by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray as an example for young people to follow in "the arduous battle of holiness." 

Thursday, February 1, 2018


BLESSED BENEDICT DASWA who feast is today,  born Tshimangadzo Samuel Daswa, was a South African school teacher and principal.   He was given the name of “Samuel” by his parents when he started to attend school and assumed the name “Benedict” upon his conversion.   A local mob murdered him when he refused to fund their anti-Catholic witchcraft superstitions.   He had been viewed as a martyr after his death and his martyrdom was confirmed in 2015, paving the way for his beatification.  He was beatified in Limpopo on 13 September 2015. Cardinal Angelo Amato, on behalf of Pope Francis, presided over the beatification Mass.

Bl. Benedict was a member of the Lemba tribe. He the first child born to Tshililo Petrus Daswa (Bakali) and Thidziambi Ida Daswa (Gundula). This tribe followed Jewish rituals and laws. Daswa had three younger brothers and one sister. He worked as a herd boy before he attended school.  After his father’s accidental death, it fell to him to provide for his siblings and he did this by paying for their education while working.

He was exposed to Roman Catholicism through a friend he met in Johannesburg while living there with an uncle. After two years of instruction, he was baptized on 21 April 1963 by Father Augustine O’Brien. He took the name of “Benedict” due to the fact that he was inspired by St Benedict of Nursia, also selecting as his life motto “Ora et labora” (pray and work). He was confirmed by Abbot Bishop F. Clemens van Hoek, O.S.B. three months later on 21 July 1963.

He became an active member of the church in South Africa.   The future blessed went to Venda Teacher Training College to do a primary teacher’s certificate and later obtained his matriculation through correspondence in 1973.  He served as a teacher and catechist, working with adolescents and assisting families that endured economic hardship.  He was a highly respected individual in his local community and became known for his honesty, truthfulness and integrity, even known to fetch students who decided to skip schools. He later helped to build the first church in his area and  became the principal of the school.

In 1974 he married Shadi Eveline Monyai (d. 2008) and they had a total of eight children. He would help his wife with household chores, unheard of at that time in his area, and he valued his family to the point of hosting Daswa Family Days each 16 December where gifts would be exchanged and a meal held.   For his family, he personally built his brick house.

In November 1989, heavy rains and lightning strikes plagued the area. When his village suffered strong storms again in January 1990, the elders decided that the lightning occurred due to magic and thus demanded a tax from all the residents to pay for a sangoma (healing) to “sniff out” the witch who caused the storms.   Refusing to believe this, Bl. Benedict said they were just a natural phenomenon and declined to pay the tax.

On 2 February 1990, Bl. Benedict drove his sister-in-law and her sick child to a doctor and en route, picked up a man who asked for his help to take a bag of meal to his home in a town next to Mbahe.   At around 7:30 pm, he returned to Mbahe where he left his sister-in-law and child near their home.  He told his daughter that he would soon return after taking the passenger to the next village.

Returning home and finding his path blocked by fallen trees, he attempted to clear the road.  He was ambushed by a mob of young men.  Bleeding as a result of stoning, he left his damaged car and ran for assistance at a woman’s hut.  However, the woman revealed where he was when the mob threatened to kill her if she did not comply.  As a result of this, he was beaten and clubbed over the head.  Boiling water was poured over him in his ears and nostrils to ensure that he was dead.  His final words were, “God, into Your hands receive my spirit”.  

The funeral took place on Saturday, 10 February 1990.   Celebrants wore red vestments to indicate their belief that Bl. Benedict died at the hands of his attackers in hatred of his faith.

Pope Francis approved a decree that recognized his martyrdom on  January 22, 2015 which allowed for his beatification.  Approximately 35,000 people attended the beatification.

Bl. Benedict is the first South African to be recognized as a martyr of  Christ.