Friday, August 30, 2019


I am constantly telling people who come to visit us that the Church needs more holy lay people. Many seem to think that it is impossible to become holy in today’s world and that only nuns and good priests can be saints. I believe that the Holy Spirit is at work “cleaning house” and for the Church to be renewed, the entire body of Christ  must strive to live the faith devoutly.

This was the recent message of Father Roger Landry, who works for the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations, at the.Auckland Eucharistic Assembly at the Sacred Heart College in New Zealand.

“While in history, reforms have been championed by popes, bishops, founders of religious orders and their spiritual sons and daughters, the real reform of the Church happens when lay people assimilate it and live it,” he said.

“The Church is not made of marble, wood, bricks and glass, but of men, women, boys and girls, who build their lives firmly on Christ the cornerstone and Peter the rock on whom Jesus constructed the Church.”

Father Landry spoke of the laity being light to the world, especially in a world darkened so deeply by grief, despair, sin, physical pain, and emotional wounds. Like Christ, the Christian should warm people from the cold and dispel darkness.

“He has come and mercifully taught us in such a way that we may walk as children of the light and be true children of the light. So the Christian life is supposed to be luminescent, like the lights on a landing strip at an airport on a foggy night that help planes land,” he said.

“Similarly, light gives off warmth, and Christ has come into the world to warm us by his love, to burn away whatever in us is frigid or tepid, so that we in turn may warm others by the fire of divine love.”

 The image of light is meaningful because it “speaks not only of the deep involvement and the full participation of the lay faithful in the affairs of the earth, the world and the human community, but also and above all, it tells of the radical newness and unique character of an involvement and participation which has as its purpose the spreading of the Gospel that brings salvation,” he said, quoting St. John Paul II.

Cardinal  Francis Arinze,  former head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in his book  "The Layperson's Distinctive Role"  writes The essential feature of the layperson’s role is the vocation to bring the spirit of Christ into the arenas of secular life from within, i.e. into the family, work and profession, trade and commerce, politics and government, mass media, science and culture and national and international relations.

Matthew Good,  St. Gabriel Church, Charlotte, NC
"Co-responsibility demands a change in mindset especially concerning the role of lay people in the Church. They should not be regarded as “collaborators” of the clergy, but, rather, as people who are really “co-responsible” for the Church’s being and acting. It is therefore important that a mature and committed laity be consolidated, which can make its own specific contribution to the ecclesial mission with respect for the ministries and tasks that each one has in the life of the Church and always in cordial communion with the bishops."     Pope Benedict XVI (2012)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019


Mother  Dilecta with Lucina

As we are in the swing of things with our summer gardens, I am reminded of the Church’s place in farming throughout the ages.  Pope Pius VII in  1802 wrote, “Agriculture is the first and most important of all arts; so it is also the first and true riches of states.” This common theme of agricultural wealth repeated throughout the social doctrine of the Church is preserved today.

Monastery garden
In 2011, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reflected on the inestimable spiritual and economic value of small family farms, reminding lay Catholics and clergy of the importance of preserving rural communities, good stewardship principles and their rootedness in the faith.

In 1923, Bishop Edwin O’Hara broke ground with the founding of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (recently re-branded “Catholic Rural Life” or CRL), a leader in nurturing the interests of small farm ownership, rural life, and the rural church.

Produce from our monastery farm
Originally headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, the Catholic Rural Life’s mission is simple: to apply the teachings of Christ to rural lands and to be active in policy reforms aimed at benefiting farming culture. From its very foundation the organization’s aim was to bring “Christ to country, the country to Christ!” and anchor the spiritual life in the hearts of all who work the land.

 Pope Benedict XVI recognized it too when he said:

“More than a few young people have already chosen this path; also many professionals are returning to dedicate themselves to the agricultural enterprise, feeling that they are responding not only to a personal and family need, but also to a ‘sign of the times,’ to a concrete sensibility for the ‘common good.”

We certainly see more and more young people in our area heading to the land, not only to raise their own food for their family, but their local community as well.  Of course there is also the desire to raise their children in a more balanced life style.

As Benedictines we know that stewardship of the land puts us into a deeper relationship with our Creator, as we tend to the crops we sow and the animals we raise. Throughout the ages, in monasteries, those who work the land have an understanding that the earth itself is a gift, a gift that must be shared with all who come to partake in our life. 
Feeding the cattle
Our new Seattle Archbishop, His Excellency Paul Etienne, was president of Catholic Rural Life in 2014 when he stated: “Society depends on the country and the farm for the produce that feeds the nation—the world,” he said. “Even more, it needs the wholesome vitality of the families produced by rural living. There is a sacramental nature to living and working in a rural setting. Farming provides a common purpose and a natural setting that helped pull and hold a family together.”

As Benedictines we understand that we have a great responsibility to care for all that has been given to us. The Church has repeatedly taught that the misuse of God’s creation betrays the gift God has given us for the good of all humanity. We know what it what it means to be called by God to a vocation of the land. 

Friday, August 23, 2019


VENERABLE MOTHER ANTONIETTA GIUGLIANO is another American who spent most of her life in another country.  Her life is  witness of a life given to God and the care of others  and to her unshakable hope.

She was born in New York on July 11,1909. Her parents had emigrated from Afragola, a town in the province of Naples, Italy, to the U.S. some years before. Her mother died when Antonietta was five years old so her father moved the family back to Italy.

Her father wanted his daughter to receive a religious education, so left her in the care of the Sisters of Charity of Regina Coeli in Naples where Antonietta spent her childhood and adolescence.

At sixteen years of age her inner life prayer life deepened and  the seed of a religious vocation began to ripen in her.

Her widowed father had in the meantime remarried and the family had ambitious projects for the young girl. They wanted a marriage suited to her social and financial standing. She was also a beautiful girl with flowing black hair and big black eyes, which revealed her deep inner life and foreshadowed a radiant future.

But her heart longed for wider horizons. She started reading the Imitation of Christ, praying with the Bible and meditating on the life of  St. Theresa of the Child Jesus. Her intelligence and her openness to the will of God made her soon realize that there was a special call in store for her.

One day Antonietta visited a cousin, a missionary Sister living in France but passing through Afragola. In that meeting Antonietta saw a sign from God. She was excited at the thought of the great deeds of charity that could be carried out in mission lands (At that time Pope Pius XI was giving great attention to missionary work). Perhaps, she thought, bringing the Good News to faraway lands was the answer to that need for total self-giving she felt so strongly in her heart.

Humility and the awareness of her limitations convinced her that she should seek advice from a priest, Giuseppe Romanucci, who was also her cousin. 

 Antonietta had recently lost her father and inherited a large patrimony, even though she was still too young to come into possession of it.  She met Father Sosio Del Prete, the Superior of the Franciscan Convent of Saint Anthony and opened her heart to him.  He was struck by Antonietta's enthusiasm, her complete self-giving to God, her strong faith and by her progress on the road of perfection

He was able to perceive in Antonietta the spiritual strength and generosity needed to minister to the old and less fortunate people of Afragola. From this time on the lives of the two founders are intimately intertwined. Together they gave birth to the apostolate of the Little Servants of Christ the King.

Antonietta received the religious habit from Cardinal Alessio Assalesi in,1935. She took as her rule of life, the rule of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis. She gave herself totally to the growth and the strengthening of the new religious family, which she guided as first Superior General till her death. She was a wise Superior, protecting her religious family with courage and strength during difficult and stormy times.

She accepted with Christian faith and courage the sickness that cut her life short when she was barely fifty years of age in 1960 in Portici.

Venerable Mother Antonietta Giugliano was a contemplative in action. 

Friday, August 16, 2019


“If music is carefully selected and beautifully offered, it can open up a space of silence which God can fill. For people who find it difficult to escape the noise both exterior and interior, your music can still the racing mind, relieve the daily stress, and invite us gently into a sacred moment where God can speak to our hearts and we can be in deeper communion with God and with one another” 
 Archbishop Eamonm Martin (Armagh, Ireland)

 The Art of Silence- Odilon Redon

In July, the Archbishop of Armagh gave a talk to musicians on the importance of good music in the liturgy. The theme was how music opens space for God to fill.  For me the most important part of this talk was on the silence that is necessary in order to hear the voice of the Lord speaking to us.
“In the quiet, we can find him whom our heart seeks.” Pope Francis puts it this way. “The Lord speaks to us in a variety of ways, at work, through others and at every moment. Yet we simply cannot do without the silence of prolonged prayer, which enables us better to perceive God’s language, to interpret the real meaning of the inspirations we believe we have received, to calm our anxieties and to see the whole of our existence afresh in his own light”. 

Amazingly enough, I recently gave a talk to teenagers on this various subject. In front the Blessed Sacrament exposed, how can there be prayer, if they drown out the sacred moment with the cacophony of inappropriate music?
The Archbishop continues: "The difficulty of course for all of us nowadays is finding any opportunity for deep silence and listening. Even when we do shut out much of the external noise and clamor that tends to fill every second of life nowadays, we often find there is an interior din – our minds and hearts and passions racing, distracted, restless. One wonders if in this “screen culture” with all social media that gate-crashes our every moment, are we are uncomfortable with silence and losing our capacity to sit still, to be at peace? We are sadly, therefore, missing out on so many opportunities to notice the “still small voice” of God, gently whispering in our hearts.  Pope Francis in his recent letter to young people  invites them to find and enter into these moments:
“Try to keep still for a moment and let yourself feel his love. Try to silence all the noise within, and rest for a second in his loving embrace”. Pope Francis realizes, of course, that Jesus himself sought those quiet moments in lonely places where he could be at peace in prayerful contact with the Father.
Rodon- Reflection
Pope Benedict XVI said that we should not be afraid to create silence both within, and outside ourselves, in order to become aware of God’s voice – and also the voice and needs of the person who sits beside us. On the Feast of Corpus Christi in 2012, he emphasized that ‘celebration’ and ‘silent adoration’ are not against each other. He said:
“To be all together in prolonged silence before the Lord present in his Sacrament is one of the most genuine experiences of our being Church, which is accompanied complementarily by the celebration of the Eucharist, by listening to the word of God, by singing and by approaching the table of the Bread of Life together. Communion and contemplation cannot be separated, they go hand in hand. If I am truly to communicate with another person I must know him, I must be able to be in silence close to him, to listen to him and look at him lovingly. True love and true friendship are always nourished by the reciprocity of looks, of intense, eloquent silences full of respect and veneration, so that the encounter may be lived profoundly and personally rather than superficially”.

Sunday, August 11, 2019


Very frightening statistics have recently come to light. A recent survey found that two-thirds of Catholics do not believe Church teaching about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

A recent Pew Research study found that just 31% of U.S. Catholics they surveyed believe that the bread and wine used in the Eucharist, through a process called transubstantiation, become the body and blood of Jesus. This is a fundamental teaching central to our Catholic faith.

 I tell Catholics if you do not believe this you need to exit the Church and find another, that caters to your need for socials.  My feeling is the “time is short and the waters are rising” and we need to take a stance to defend our faith and to teach this and future generations the truth!

Sixty-nine percent of Catholics surveyed reported their belief that the bread and wine used during the Eucharist “are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”

“Overall, 43% of Catholics believe that the bread and wine are symbolic and also that this reflects the position of the church. Still, one-in-five Catholics (22%) reject the idea of transubstantiation, even though they know about the church’s teaching.”

Our friend, Bishop Robert Barron  of Los Angeles, said the study made him angry because it showed poor formation for generations in the Church.  The sad thing is those who never got it in the past are now teaching the present generation.

“This should be a wake-up call to all of us in the Church—priests, bishops, religious, laypeople, catechists, parents, everyone—that we need to pick up our game when it comes to communicating even the most basic doctrines of the Church,” Bishop Barron wrote on his blog Aug. 6.

Father Gerald Murray (on EWTN) says the purpose of Vatican II was to make the Liturgy more accessable to all, which meant making  the doctrine more easily explained and understood.  But we have the exact opposite. It is a free for all- the casual distribution of the Eucharist  (in the hand, not genuflecting, etc). Not only is it not taught by teachers,  but it is how the priest communicates the liturgy.  Father Murray says it makes him sad (and other priests have  told me the same thing) to see people receive with no sign of reverence.  He says we need to return to liturgical order, not the liturgical chaos we have.

I think in a past Blog I wrote how moved I was to read the words of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, who used to sit under the tablernacle in his hut and pray with the knowledge that when we receive the Body of Jesus, we are as close to Him as His Mother was when she carried Him in her womb.  Great food for thought!  When I tell this to people, they always stop in amazement. If every priest got in the pulpit on Sunday and said just this and sat down, people would fall over!

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: "Material food first of all turns itself into the person who eats it, and as a consequence, restores his losses and increases his vital energies. Spiritual food, on the other hand, turns the person who eats it into Itself, and thus the proper effect of this sacrament is the conversion of man into Christ, so that he may no longer live for himself, but that Christ may live in him.

We who receive the bread of angels, who have been invited to the Eucharistic Feast, now have His Divine life within us.  This means we spiritually bring Christ into a world screaming for some new life. We are called to become living monstrances, repositories of the Bread of life for others and our Mother Mary is the model who shows us the way.
Emil Jacques- Cathedral Portland, OR

The English theologian Monsignor Ronald Knox  said this about the Holy Eucharist: “We have never, as Christians, been truly faithful to Jesus, no matter our denomination. In the end none of us have truly followed those teachings which most characterize Jesus- We have not turned the other cheek. We have not forgiven our enemies. We have not purified our thoughts. We have not seen God in the poor. We have not kept our hearts pure and free from the things of this world. But we have been faithful in one very important way- we have kept the Eucharist going.”

Saturday, August 10, 2019


Islanders, in our mini paradise, are up in arms, voicing their concerns toward the Washington State ferry system.  As long as I have lived here, there have been complaints, but minor inconveniences have grown to the ridiculous. Unlike the islands to the south of us, we do not have bridges to get us home.  This summer we have not been able to get reservations  (part of the nightmare) weeks in advance, so we get to the ferry line 2-3 hours in advance of sailing and pray we get on.

Two weeks ago I was hospitalized (not planned!)  and on Thursday of this week went to the doctor for the follow up.  So with a car full of groceries & gas, we sat in a long line almost 2 hours early, with the assurance we would not even get on the last ferry at 9 PM.  I walked on, while the driver stayed with the car for over 5 hours.

Our local businesses  and government are pushing for tourism and ferry travelers have blossomed, but those of us who live here should be able to reach our homes.

The idiots (and believe me I am being polite) who run the system in Olympia do not understand our plight this far north. They send us “replacement” crews in the heat of summer who do not know how to load our ferries which sometimes go to all four islands (down south they go from A to B and back to A).

Periodically, the big shots from down south, send representatives to talk to islanders but our pleas for some understanding go on deaf ears! This has caused many residents to lose trust in the current ferry system and believe that WSF is failing to respond to criticism. Some residents have taken to social media to voice their concerns. Others write letters to our legislators (again deaf ears). I have written letters myself (and I am not a letter writer), giving some concrete steps which I feel could help.  The system claims to be “running in the red”, yet we could charge tourists a bit more, charge bicyclers (at present free on the interisland ferry), even $5.00, as well as people who walk on (islanders would be given free passes).

As far as I can see the best solution (other than privatizing the system) is to "divorce" ourselves from our southern relatives and have a ferry system that is our own.

In spite of our efforts, it seems like whatever we do is a meaningless exercise, and the people in charge are not actually interested in making changes.

We have a new ferry, to the tune of $126 million, and yet it was in repair 3 months after it sailed. Again this summer it has been out of service AND JUST THIS MORNING BROKE DOWN AGAIN! 

From what I understand, all WA state ferries have to be made in the state, so there is no competition.  We need to look to other countries, like in Scandinavia, who produce better functioning vessels.

Residents and even ferry workers up here are UPSET with their experience when commuting. I am afraid we could have mutiny soon if something is not done to remedy our dire situation!


In spite of our country looking like the template of moral decay, more and more Americans are being considered for sainthood. The following man is an example of a seemingly ordinary life, which gives us pause to look around us for the next possible saint.

SERVANT OF GOD IRVING  (FRANCIS) HOULE was born December 27, 1925 at his family home in Wilson, Michigan. His parents were faithful Catholics who raised seven children, six boys and one girl. Irving was the sixth child.

As a young child Irving recalled his family praying the rosary together, especially during Lent. Even then he felt a calling to suffer for Jesus. He recalled that his family would remain after Mass to pray the Stations of the Cross. In addition to Mass, the Station of the Cross and the rosary, in later years the Divine Mercy Chaplet was part of his daily prayer.

At the age of 6, Irving was badly injured when he was thrown from the back of a galloping horse. He suffered a severe chest injury. He was taken to a hospital in Escanaba, Michigan, where x-rays revealed broken ribs and a punctured lung. He was also hemorrhaging through the nose and mouth. A local newspaper clipping reported the injuries appeared to be fatal.

Irving had an aunt who was a Franciscan Sister (Sister Speciosa). She and the sisters at the convent prayed an all-night vigil for his recovery. The next morning the doctor at the hospital was amazed to find that Irving had improved significantly and was no longer struggling to breathe. Irving related to his mother and the doctor that a “beautiful man in a white bathrobe” had stood at the foot of his bed during the night and raised his hand over him. Later in life, Irving would tell those close to him that he knows it was Jesus.

He married his wife Gail in 1948, and they were married for 60 years, raising five children. He was 
an active member of the Knights of Columbus,

On Good Friday, 1993, Irving received the stigmata, at which point his healing ministry began. The wounds first appeared on the palms of his hands and he began to experience physical sufferings. He suffered The Passion every night between midnight and 3:00a.m. for the rest of his earthly life. He understood that these particular hours of the day were times of great sins of the flesh. Irving heard the voice of Jesus asking Irving to heal “my children.” Irving spent the last 16 years of his life doing just that, praying over tens of thousands of people.

Many of the people he encountered have spoken of extraordinary physical and spiritual healing they experienced when Irving prayed over them. He always made it clear that the healing came from God. He would simply say, “I don’t heal anybody” and “Jesus is the one who heals.”

Irving died at Marquette General Hospital in Marquette, Michigan, on Saturday, January 3, 2009. He will be remembered for his love of God, his closeness to Jesus and the Blessed Mother, his love for the Eucharist, the Church, prayer, and his care and concern for others.

In the life of Irving Houle, we see the extraordinary grace of God at work in an ordinary, simple man who offered his life in love for the Lord and others. Over the years, Irving’s generous response to simple sufferings disposed his heart to make of his life a generous outpouring of love expressed in prayer and suffering for the conversion of others. The effects of Irving’s ministry, clearly increased greatly the faith of the people with whom he came into contact, and devotion to him continues to grow more and more everyday throughout the Diocese of Marquette.
He was a humble man who never wanted publicity and rarely spoke. He said Jesus never told him to speak but rather to heal His people. Jesus said to him, “I am taking away your hands and giving you mine … touch them.” 

He said that the Blessed Mother had come to him 19 times and during those visits told him that she would bring many people to him and him to many people.

It is estimated that Francis prayed individually over 100,000 people while he was still alive. People  would wait for hours on end to see the elderly man who bore the stigmata and would lay his hands on them. People would be crying and would touch him and kiss his hands.
He is one of the few laymen in the history of the Church who has borne the stigmata.

Thursday, August 8, 2019


SERVANT of GOD MONSIGNOR BERNARD JOHN QUINN a pioneer in what would today be considered “civil rights”, is being considered for canonization.  Investigations into his saintly life have been collected the past nine years and sent to Rome.

 Msgr. Bernard Quinn was born in Newark in 1888 on the same day that Pope Leo XIII canonized Peter Claver. (Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on that same day 41 years later.) As a newly ordained priest, he recognized that African American Catholics were neglected in the Diocese and he approached the late Bishop of Brooklyn, Charles Edward McDonnell, with his idea of starting an “apostolate to Blacks”. 

The Bishop refused his request; at the time, the United States was engaged in the First World War and the Bishop’s primary objective was to identify priests willing to serve as Chaplains in the Army. Father Quinn immediately volunteered and landed in France, shortly after his arrival the war concluded but Father Quinn stayed on to minister to the wounded.

He received permission from his army superior to visit the home of Thérèse, where he celebrated Mass on Jan. 2, 1919, the anniversary of her birth. He noted that the experience was ‘a very great privilege because I was the first priest to say Mass there.’” He would later name his children's services after her.

Upon his return from France, Father Quinn was granted permission to begin his apostolate to black Catholics. In 1922 he bought what was formerly a protestant church; the building was blessed and dedicated to St. Peter Claver on February 26, 1922. He would later go on to found Little Flower Children Services, to care for the increasing number of black children orphaned as a result of the Great Depression. Situated in Wading River, Long Island, Father Quinn and his collaborators heroically opposed the Ku Klux Klan who in two separate attacks had burned the orphanage to the ground.

Monsignor Bernard Quinn died on April 7, 1940 at the age of 52. He was buried from St. Peter Claver Church, where eight thousand people attended his funeral.

When his cause was officially opened in 2010 Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio the Canonical inquiry into the Cause of Canonization remarked,  “Almighty God blessed the Diocese of Brooklyn by sending Father Quinn to minister among us. That ministry did not end upon his death but has continued to grow and take root in the hearts and souls of the faithful and clergy of this church in New York, which has continually ministered to the poor and oppressed

“As I was recovering from heart surgery last year” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, “Father Quinn seemed particularly present to me in prayer. I drew strength from his courage and resolved to redouble my efforts to participate in promoting his cause as a sign of the need for holy priests."

Monday, August 5, 2019


Sunday was the feast of St. John Marie Vianney, Cure of Ars, the patron of parish priests.  Here in part is the speech of the Holy Father, thanking all priests who have remained faithful to the teaching of the Church.

Dear brother priests, I thank you for your fidelity to the commitments you have made. It is a sign that, in a society and culture that glorifies the ephemeral, there are still people unafraid to make lifelong promises. In effect, we show that we continue to believe in God, who has never broken his covenant, despite our having broken it countless times. In this way, we celebrate the fidelity of God, who continues to trust us, to believe in us and to count on us, for all our sins and failings, and who invites us to be faithful in turn. Realizing that we hold this treasure in earthen vessels (cf. 2 Cor 4:7), we know that the Lord triumphs through weakness (cf. 2 Cor12:9). He continues to sustain us and to renew his call, repaying us a hundredfold (cf. Mk 10:29-30). “For his mercy endures forever”.

Thank you for the joy with which you have offered your lives, revealing a heart that over the years has refused to become closed and bitter, but has grown daily in love for God and his people. A heart that, like good wine, has not turned sour but become richer with age. “For his mercy endures forever”.

Thank you for the joy with which you have offered your lives, revealing a heart that over the years has refused to become closed and bitter, but has grown daily in love for God and his people. A heart that, like good wine, has not turned sour but become richer with age. “For his mercy endures forever”.

Thank you for working to strengthen the bonds of fraternity and friendship with your brother priests and your bishop, providing one another with support and encouragement, caring for those who are ill, seeking out those who keep apart, visiting the elderly and drawing from their wisdom, sharing with one another and learning to laugh and cry together. How much we need this! But thank you too for your faithfulness and perseverance in undertaking difficult missions, or for those times when you have had to call a brother priest to order. “For his mercy endures forever”.

Thank you for your witness of persistence and patient endurance (hypomoné) in pastoral ministry. Often, with the parrhesía of the shepherd, we find ourselves arguing with the Lord in prayer, as Moses did in courageously interceding for the people (cf. Num 14:13-19; Ex 32:30-32; Dt 9:18-21). “For his mercy endures forever”.

Thank you for celebrating the Eucharist each day and for being merciful shepherds in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, neither rigorous nor lax, but deeply concerned for your people and accompanying them on their journey of conversion to the new life that the Lord bestows on us all. We know that on the ladder of mercy we can descend to the depths of our human condition – including weakness and sin – and at the same time experience the heights of divine perfection: “Be merciful as the Father is merciful”. In this way, we are “capable of warming people’s hearts, walking at their side in the dark, talking with them and even entering into their night and their darkness, without losing our way”. “For his mercy endures forever”.

Thank you for anointing and fervently proclaiming to all, “in season and out of season” (cf. 2 Tim 4:2) the Gospel of Jesus Christ, probing the heart of your community “in order to discover where its desire for God is alive and ardent, as well as where that dialogue, once loving, has been thwarted and is now barren”. “For his mercy endures forever”.

Thank you for the times when, with great emotion, you embraced sinners, healed wounds, warmed hearts and showed the tenderness and compassion of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-27). Nothing is more necessary than this: accessibility, closeness, readiness to draw near to the flesh of our suffering brothers and sisters. How powerful is the example of a priest who makes himself present and does not flee the wounds of his brothers and sisters! It mirrors the heart of a shepherd who has developed a spiritual taste for being one with his people, a pastor who never forgets that he has come from them and that by serving them he will find and express his most pure and complete identity. This in turn will lead to adopting a simple and austere way of life, rejecting privileges that have nothing to do with the Gospel. “For his mercy endures forever”.

Saturday, August 3, 2019


A couple added to the rostrum as example  of a holy marriage are VENERABLE SERGIO BERNARDINI  and VENERABLE DOMENICA BEDONNI BERNARDINI   Both from Modena, Italy, were  Secular Franciscans and had ten children, eight of whom joined religious life.

Five daughters became Daughters of St. Paul, one daughter became a Franciscan, and two sons became Capuchins. One of these sons is today the Archbishop Emeritus of SmyrnaTurkey.

The Bernardinis are the third married couple in the history of the Church to receive this title (they were preceded by Blessed Luigi and Blessed Maria Beltrame and St. Louis and St. Zelie Martin.)

Born in 1882, Sergio Bernardini lost his father, mother, brother, first wife and their three young children over a period of a few months in 1912.

Hoping to avoid painful memories, he immigrated to the United States and found work as a miner. However, he returned to Italy after just a year because, he said, he was afraid life in a mine was going to make him lose his faith in Christ.

He fell in love with Domenica and they married in 1914 and had 10 children. They were poor farmers, but generous to anyone who sought food or solace, especially during the difficulties of the First World War.

When Sergio retired, he and his wife “adopted” a Nigerian seminarian – paying for his priestly education in Rome out of their modest pension. That seminarian today is 76-year-old retired Archbishop Felix Alaba Job of Ibadan, Nigeria.   Their son, Germano Bernardini, became Archbishop of İzmir in Turkey.

Sergio died in 1966 and Domenica in 1971. In her spiritual testimony, she said everything led her to God – even by “kissing a rose, I kiss the beauty of God”.

She said her children were “my crown and my treasure” and wished she could find a way to express what a great gift it was to have so many children and vocations in the family. She prayed they would become saints and “be a force for good in the world”.

Pope Francis said that the Bernardinis are an example to all Christians as to how to live the virtues to a heroic degree within the context of the married life and that they were above all models of how to educate one’s children in a Christian way.

The lives of Sergio and Domenica Bernardini, both well known throughout Italy, were characterized by hard work in the fields , the practice of the family virtues and above all the Christian education of their numerous offspring.