Friday, July 23, 2021

MOTH WEEK

 

Many birders also like to study other creatures in nature such as dragon flies,  especially when birds are scare at certain times of the year.  But now I find from a friend in Arizona (who has a passion for all wildlife) that  many also study moths.

NATIONAL MOTH WEEK celebrates the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths. “Moth-ers” of all ages and abilities are encouraged to learn about, observe, and document moths in their backyards, parks, and neighborhoods, during National Moth Week which  is the last full week of July.

Several fascinating and beautiful moths we have here in our islands are the  Cecropia and the Luna.

Recently, I came across a Cecropia Moth, which was so large, it was startling.  And it decided that its favorite place was on my arm, where it stayed till someone took it away, some 15 minutes later.

Hyalophora cecropia, the cecropia moth, is North America's largest native moth.  It is a member of the family Saturniidae, or giant silk moths. Females have been documented with a wingspan of five to seven inches or more. These moths can be found all across North America as far west as Washington and north into the majority of Canadian provinces.  Cecropia moth larvae are most commonly found on maple trees, but they have also been found on cherry and birch trees among many others. Though where we found this moth none of these tress around, only Douglas fir.

 A Luna Moth (Actias luna) has such an interesting color and also has unique markings. It has broad pale green wings and delicate tail streamers. It is sometimes known as the “American Moon Moth” as it only flies at night.

This ghostly looking moth which is so large with  a wingspan of 3 – 4.5 inches ( the larvae can grow up to 3.5 inches long) that when one encounters it, your breath is taken away.  Is this real?

They are usually found in and around deciduous woodlands where their larval food plants occur.  These moths spin the tails of their wingtips in circle to protect themselves from their predators. They sometimes use their color to mimic leaves for camouflage.  

Sad to say their average life span as an adult is approximately one week. This insect does not have a mouth or a digestive system. This is the reason why it lives for such a short period of time

The female moths can lay anywhere from 200-600 eggs. The eggs are generally laid in batches.

The insect does not have a mouth or a digestive system. This is the reason why it lives for such a short period of time.

While these two species are among nature's largest, there are many smaller varieties which are equally interesting, if one takes the time to study them.



Wednesday, July 21, 2021

PRAY FOR OUR PRIESTS

 

                                                           Croatian-American artist Maxo Vanka,  Millvale PA

We have a new priest who will say Mass for us on Shaw, after the priest we had for over three years must return to India, because of failings on the part of Immigration.  Which reminds me, to pray for all our priests.

Why do we pray for priests?   Father John Harden, SJ  wrote over 30 years ago: “No words I can use would be too strong to state that the Catholic priesthood needs prayer and sacrifice as never before since Calvary.”  (The Value of Prayer and Sacrifice for Priests)

We need to pray for not only more priests, but more holy priests!  Without priests we would have no Eucharist. Without priests we would flounder in our faith. We need priests who are true shepherds, willing to lay down their lives for their sheep.

“One saint after another has declared that the devil’s principal target on earth is the Catholic priest. Priests need, Lord how they need, special graces from God. We ask, why pray, then, for priests? We should pray for priests and bishops because this has been the practice of the Church since apostolic times. It’s a matter of revealed truth. It is a divine mandate.”

     

                                                   Padre Sebastino- John Singer Sragent (The Met)

My favorite prayer from St. Therese of the Child Jesus

O Jesus, I pray for Your faithful and fervent priests; 
for Your unfaithful and tepid priests; 
for Your priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields. 
for Your tempted priests; 
for Your lonely and desolate priests; 
For Your young priests; 
for Your dying priests; 
for the souls of Your priests in Purgatory. 
But above all, I recommend to You the priests dearest to me: 
the priest who baptized me; 
the priests who absolved me from my sins; 
the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Your Body and Blood in Holy Communion; 
the priests who taught and instructed me; 
all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way (especially …). 
O Jesus, keep them all close to Your heart, 
and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen.    


Friday, July 16, 2021

THE SALT PATH

 


In the middle of this chaotic disconnected year (COVID) I read a most fascinating book. It isn’t often that I write about a book that has touched our hearts. I am reminded of the book, Boys in the Boat, as it is so descriptive, you are there with them on their arduous journey. 

 In THE SALT PATH  the writing is so alive with Raynor Winn painting pictures (with words) of landscape, their encounters with others, and the physical and mental pain both she and her husband, Moth suffer.

Their journey begins when they discover that Moth, then 53, is terminally ill with corticobasal degeneration and given about two years to live.

Then their home is taken away from them and they find themselves penniless and homeless. With no real options before them, they decide to walk the 630 miles along the South West Coast Path (England).

They buy cheap tents, sleeping bags and set off with the bare minimum they need to live with, carrying everything. Wild camping in some of the most beautiful scenery in Britain, their trip becomes not just a physical one but a spiritual one. Her writing is at times pure poetry. She is brutally honest in her emotions, as she comes to grips with their day by day plight.

They live day to day, struggling with Moth's illness, the sometimes inclement weather, having no money, no plan and no future.This is a tale of discovery, of how much one can succeed in the face of adversity, and of how strong the human spirit is.

Raynor’s love for Moth and the land clearly shines through in her writing. This is a book about loss,  determination, love, and ultimately it is one about hope. 


When you write a brilliant book as The Salt Path it is always going to be a hard act to follow.  And although THE WILD SILENCE is, in many ways excellent, with Raynor's  descriptions and knowledge of the natural world, her understanding of her own mixed emotions regarding Moth's illness and their return to a life not 'on the path', this is much slower reading, though no less compelling.

Thanks to a generous offer to change their life-style, they are no longer homeless and Moth's health continues to defy the predictions of doctors.  I won't ruin your experience, except to say the new land for them was once inhabited by monks.

The last part of the book deals with a most difficult walk in Iceland,  which I felt could have been abbreviated, with Raynor concentrating more on their life on their new farm.

 Both books are highly recommended and would give book clubs many topics for discussion.



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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

EVEN MORE FRIENDS

 

 

 How many more friends of St. Maxmilian Kolbe do we have?

SERVANT of GOD   ANTONIO MARIA MANSI  was born in London on March 9, 1896, to Maria Michela and Bonaventura Mansi from Ravello (Salerno).

He was sent to Bagnoregio (Viterbo) for high school studies, and to Assisi for the novitiate. On the tomb of St. Francis on 4 October 1914 he made his simple profession. After the novitiate, Fra Antonio was sent to Montottone (Marche) for the philosophical course.

For theology he was sent to Rome to the Seraphic College, where he met St. Maximilian Kolbe, with whom he became a friend.
  Together with the Saint and other seminarians, he was a co-founder of the Militia Immaculata in Rome

On March 19, 1918,  Fra Antonio Mansi made his solemn profession in the hands of His Eminence Cardinal Boschi and was ordained a priest on May 9, 1918 in the chapel of the college.

As a man of culture, Fra Mansi spoke English, French, Latin well and knew Greek. He successfully cultivated poetry, song and music, in which he perfected himself at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome, showing a lively talent

He fell ill with the Spanish flu, which he contracted while nursing a Father. He died on October 31, 1918, offering his life for the good of the Church, for Pope Benedict XV and for the Order and invoking the name of Mary.

Father Kolbe wrote in his Diary: "On October 31, 1918, in the morning, Fra Antonio Mansi fell asleep in the Lord with a very edifying death. Before dying he promised me to "make me walk straight with good or bad." He cultivated in a sublime way humility, obedience, patience, simplicity, religious poverty, brotherly love, commitment to the most exact observance of the rules, the most lively faith, the most tender attachment to prayer, to the glory of God, to the Church, to the Holy Father and to the Order, a firm, unshakable hope ".


VENERABLE MELCHIOR FORDON was born in 1862 in Grodno (now Belarus) to a family of noble roots. He was first educated at home by his mother, a school teacher in order to avoid a Russian school..  His father was an architect.

Fra Melchior began his ministerial life as a diocesan priest for the Diocese of Vilnius. He served as parish priest of various locations and as guardian over a house for constricted priests deemed dangerous to the Russian state. He was very active  during the socialist revolution in Russia , collecting signatures among the clergy and the faithful asking for the intervention of Pope St. Pius X in the case of the archbishop of Vilnius, interned in 1907 by the Tsarist police. 

His activities exposed him to the Tsarist authorities  and they soon decided to ban him from pursuing pastoral activities in the Russian empire. He was moved from the district to more remote areas. 

He was stationed at Grodno during WWI, where he saved the lives of 15 firemen from execution, thought to be Russian Spies by the German authorities, guaranteeing their innocence with his life.  The group of arrested firefighters included: six Catholics, three Orthodox Christians and four Jews.

 The officer spared their lives, stating that if it turned out to be true that they were Russian spies, then he would be shot. The next day, a fire broke out in the city, which the Germans called on previously arrested firemen to extinguish it. After suppressing the fire, the German commander withdrew the earlier order for their execution and ordered them to be released from custody.[

After 23 years of priesthood, and with the consent of the diocese, Fr. Melchior discerned to enter the Conventual Franciscans in Kracow.

He was a collaborator of St. Maxmilian, who in 1922 transferred the publishing of the  magazine from Kraków to Grodno. He served him with his advice, gave his full support to his publishing house, which later, in 1927, was transferred to Niepokalanów . In addition, he was also the confessor of the future saint, who called him a "holy soul" as well as  the brothers working in the publishing house, including Fra  Zenon Żebrowski, later a missionary of Japan.  

In 1924 he fell ill with tuberculosis and asthma, which made it impossible for him to pursue intensive pastoral activity. In the last period of his ministry, he became a confessor, spending time in the confessional. In his life he was distinguished by remarkable humility, Franciscan simplicity and love for the poor.   He died a holy death on February 27, 1927 in Grodno.




Friday, July 9, 2021

OTHER FRIENDS

 

When one considers  the many men who surrounded the great St Maximilian Kolbe that are now being considered for canonization, one can see the effects the holiness of one person has on others.

VENERABLE GIROLAMO MARIA BIASI One of several sons born to a poor village family, Arcangelo was baptized on the day f his birth. At the age of 12, he began to feel drawn to religious life, and on 4 October 1915 he joined the Franciscans, taking the name Fra Girolamo Maria.

During World War I Fra Girolamo  studied at the International College in Rome.  He was a close friend of St. Maximilian, who trusted his  co- worker implicitly. He help St. Maximilian found the Militia of the Immaculate*.

Arcangelo contracted tuberculosis, which interrupted his studies, but he managed to be ordained a priest  in PaduaItaly on 16 July 1922. His disease was debilitating, and he spent the remaining seven years of his life in and out of various hospitals, rarely able to work in the outside world, ministering to other patients, and praying for the work of his brother friars. 

In the midst of suffering, he managed to exude serenity and joy, despite the most complete inactivity and loneliness to which he was condemned. 

He wrote: " Jesus does not want extraordinary things from me, but He wants me to be faithful to Him in small things and to give Him proof of my love in these". 

Venerable Girolamo had  a great love of Blessed Mother and strove to spread devotion to her in all those with whom he encountered. St. Maximilian himself wished that his close friend be canonized by the Church  as soon as possible due to the pious life, virtue, and zeal for mission this holy man exuberated.

“Perfection does not consist in arduous and difficult things, but in the exact disengagement of one's duties, accompanied by a great love for God and an ardent charity for one's neighbor ”.


VENERABLE QUIRICO PIGNALBERI  was born in 1893 and joined the Franciscan Friars Minor Conventual in 1908 at Zagarolo, Rome. He studied at the Gregorian University from 1911 to 1913 and the Pontifical Faculty of St Bonaventura from 1914 to 1917.

He was a great friend and classmate of St Maximilian Kolbe, and was one of the founders of the Militia of Mary Immaculate. 

He worked on the front lines as a medic in WWI, was the Rector of young seminarians, and later a Master of Novices for almost fifty years, helping to shape the religious lives of generations of Franciscan Friars. He was a highly sought after preacher and confessor.

He assisted with the reconstruction of communities and recovery of assets damaged or lost after WWII. Despite ill health and even confinement to a wheelchair, he continued to work with his novice brothers until his death.

He had a lifelong hobby of repairing clocks, and enjoyed working with precision instruments and  technology.  He traveled to Poland in 1971 in connection with the beatification of St Maximilian

On 1 April 1979 he met Pope  (St.) John Paul II who embraced the frail priest and recognized him as the last custodian of Maximilian Kolbe's life and works. 

He died in 1982 at the nursing home of "La Francescana". 


VENERABLE WENANTY (VENANCE) KATARZYNIEC

​Born in 1888, Obydowie near Lviv, he was the son of Agnieszka and Jan Katarzyniec, very poor but pious farmers. As a child the "young apostle" preached to children "sermons" in which he said that you must be good, do not hurt others, do not sin, because sins offend God. He  he did not take part in "expeditions" on other people's apples or turnips, but he chased his peers for this and advised them to learn morality, for which he was often ridiculed.

Józef Katarzyniec entered the Franciscan Conventual Order in 1908, receiving the religious name of Wenanty. He studied philosophy and theology at the seminary of Krakow and was ordained in 1914.  He was assigned as parochial vicar at Czyszkach near Lviv, between 1915 and 1919,  and later served as master of the Franciscan novitiate of Lviv.

He loved the Franciscan order with all his heart. Purity shone on his face and he loved poverty and mortification. He studied philosophy and theology at a seminary in Cracow. He was the forerunner in science. He was able to present the most difficult things on the exams and tutoring, which he willingly gave to his friends, clearly and intelligibly.

One of St. Maximilian Kolbe's closest friends; after his early death the saint himself prayed for the intercession of Fr. Wenanty when trying to get 'The Knight' published and further petitioned for the canonization of his humble friend to the Minister General.

Fr. Wenanty had a passion for history and culture, starting a Franciscan history club while in the seminary called 'Zealous Franciscans'. He endured with patient suffering in prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, entrusting his worries to the Immaculate Virgin Mary. He died at the age of thirty-one.

His cause for beatification was introduced in 1950. Pope Francis authorized the promulgation of his decrees, declaring him venerable on June 14, 2016.

 The Militia of the Immaculate Conception is an international public association of faithful of the Catholic Church founded by St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe in 1917, open to Catholics from all walks of life, encouraging all people of good will to live a relationship of filial trust with Our Lady. The Militia of the Immaculate Conception aims to help the Christian to live a continuous process of conversion and following of the Lord on the model of the Immaculate Virgin. 



Tuesday, July 6, 2021

A SAINT' S RIGHT HAND MAN

When Maxmilian Kolbe was getting ready to build a monastery in Teresin near Warsaw in 1927, he needed responsible people he could trust with a number of tasks. His right hand man was a novice, Władysław ŻEBROWSKI, who took on the name of ZENON upon making his vows entering the friary. He  was  born to a  wealthy family, had a father focused on making money, but a mother caring more for his spiritual well-being. He had not been particularly spiritual himself, until one day he listened to a homily at  Mass that made him rethink his ways and, eventually, enter a friary.

Friar Zenon 

He was in this friary with the future saint, but Friar Maximilian’s spirit was restless,  feeling the call to go on a mission to the Far East. Taking Zenon and a few others, they left Poland on the 26th of February 1930.

They arrived in Nagasaki on 24th April, where Zenon made his perpetual vows a year later. Several months of acclimatization were enough to start publishing “Knight of the Immaculate” in Japanese under the name of “Seibō no kishi” and look for a parcel to set up the Japanese version of the town of the Immaculate. Friar Kolbe had two options: an attractive square close to the city center, in a district where many Japanese Catholics lived, and a larger spot, on a mountain slope, away from Nagasaki, and surrounded by gentiles. 

When visiting the former spot, St. Maximilian enigmatically said that it would soon be destroyed by a ball of fire so they could not build there. After a lot of prayer, he decided on the latter spot. When the atomic bomb was falling on Nagasaki on 9th August 1945, evaporating the Catholic district together with a major part of the city, Maximilian Kolbe had already given his life in Auschwitz.

Yet, the mountain slope had protected the spot where the monastery had eventually been built, and Brother Zeno  was left to witness the horror. He was so moved by the suffering that he rushed to bring help, disregarding the threats of exposing himself to radiation. He helped to organize food, shelter and blankets but also did things of a much larger scope.

 He set up a number of orphanages, one of which was even visited by the Japanese emperor Hirohito, but he did not limit himself to Nagasaki. In 1951, he was taking care of over 6000 poor and homeless in Tokyo, then helped in Hiroshima.

 His frequent travels made him  recognizable across the country so that in 1953 he even received a free ticket from the Japanese railway company to travel anywhere.

The Japanese held him in great esteem. Many volunteers followed his lead, even though the very concept of volunteer work was alien to their culture. In 1969, he was  given the Order of the Sacred Treasure, a major Japanese decoration awarded by the emperor himself. 

There were many photography exhibitions focused on brother Zeno’s work, where he was often invited. At one of them, he met the current emperor Akihito when he was a boy. In 1979, Zenon Żebrowski had a monument built in his honor, while he was still alive.

Even though he was asked to return to Poland permanently when he was visiting his homeland on his way to the beatification of St. Maximilian, he refused to leave Japan and eventually died there on 24th April 1982, exactly 52 years after setting his foot on the Kyūshū island. 

Thousands attended his funeral. A few books, a movie and even an anime for children (“Zeno kagiri naki ai ni” – “Zenon – boundless love” – 1998) were produced to help keep Friar Zenon in the memory of future generations.  It still remains vivid in the hearts of the Japanese.


Thursday, July 1, 2021

A SUPERNATURAL MAN

 

Most Catholics know of ST. MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, but how many know that some of his friends and acquaintances are also up for canonization?  In March of 2021 Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the Decree of Servant of God Friar Léon Veuthey, OFM Conv.  who St. Maximilian wrote about in his diary "Fr. Leon is a supernatural man". 

VENERABLE  FRIAR LEON VEUTHEY was born in 1896, in Dorénaz, a small mountain village in French-speaking Switzerland. From the age of five to fifteen, he attended primary school in his native country. Later, he enrolled in the high school, in Sion, Switzerland, where he completed his studies. In 1913 he began work as a teacher, and proved to be an excellent instructor. He continued teaching until 1920.

At the age of 25, he entered the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, spending his novitiate year in Schwarzenberg, Germany. He made his solemn profession in July of 1925, and was ordained to the priesthood in August.

From 1926 to 1945 he held various important positions in the Order. He was a professor at the Collège St-Michel Preparatory High School in Fribourg, Switzerland. He served as Vice-Rector at the Seraphicum International College in Rome, which was then located on Via San Teodoro. 

He was a full professor of ascetic and mystical theology, the history of religions and the thought of St. Bonaventure. He was an Assistant General and a professor of philosophy at the Urbaniana University in Rome.


On May 24, 1945, the new Venerable  founded the Crusade of Charity movement, headquartered in Assisi, with the idea of promoting the virtue of service among the faithful.

From 1946 to 1954, he became involved with the Focolare Movement in Rome and in 1950, their fruitful relationship resulted in the foundation of the “Crusade of Unity”. During this time, the Servant of God carried out cordial and meaningful talks with the leaders of the Focolare Movement, especially with its foundress, Chiara Lubich.

From 1954 to 1965 he worked as an Assistant Pastor in Bordeaux, France. During this eleven-year period, he faced many difficulties, but overcame them. In 1965, he returned to Rome and served as a spiritual director and a professor at the Seraphicum International College.

In 1969, the Venerable Leon began to suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a malady which afflicted him until his death. On February 14, 1971, he retired from teaching for good.

Friar Léon died peacefully on June 7, 1974, at the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome. He was seventy-eight.

He was an esteemed philosopher, theologian, Mariologist, and pedagogist. He was a great teacher of spiritual life and mystical speculation. In addition, he was a man of deep interior life, who was led by a continuous and intense desire to attain holiness through the observance of the Gospel in the footsteps of St. Francis and as a member of the Conventual Franciscan family, which he loved and honored throughout his life. 

Friar Léon felt proud to belong to the Franciscan Order because he had found that Franciscan-Conventual spirituality was an admirable way of serving people, the Church and God. He learned, particularly through his own personal, spiritual ascents, that this way was his surest path back to the Trinity.

Venerable Léon was a man who, over the course of his seventy-eight years, was able to combine his passion for literature and poetry, philosophy and theology, asceticism, mysticism, contemplation and action.