Monday, November 29, 2021



The scriptures tell us that there is a time and season for everything, for each particular event. There is a time of preparing for Christmas, and that is Advent, and then there is a time for Christmas itself. There is no doubt in my mind that the more serious we are about our personal Advent journey, the greater the joy we shall reap during our Christmas celebration.

It is a good practice to make concrete plans on how best to keep our Advent observance. Often, if no plans are made in advance, much of Advent goes unnoticed and wasted. Since Advent is basically a quiet time of waiting for the arrival of the Light at Christmas, it is good to start by trying to become more internally quiet during this rather brief season.

Above all, we must make the most of these moments of stillness by remaining calm, silent, and spending quality time with the Lord. The words from one of the psalms counsel us: Be still, and know that I am God. Monks always strive to preserve a more quiet recollected spirit during these lovely Advent days and thus enjoy the Lord’s intimate company.

There is no reason why others, in a monastery or elsewhere, could not do the same wherever they are. It is a question of resolving to do so and making the effort. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. Come, Holy Spirit.

                                    Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourrette, OSB   A Monastery Journey To Christmas

Image:   Madonna del Parto de de la Pieve de Montefiesole, Pontassieve (Italie)

Saturday, November 27, 2021



While Americans do not celebrate Advent as do many European countries, we still await the coming of the Christ Child.  We count the days with often a frenetic preparation, yet  in our preparation to get to the Birth, we seem to forget the month and weeks and days before this event. Jesus did not just show up one starry night in a manger.  

He came into this world like any other baby, which meant His Mother had grave concerns dealing with her Newborn, far from her home and family and most probably without supplies a new mother needs.

The feast heightens the anticipation of Christmas and makes the last few days of Advent unique with  opportunities to meditate on what Mary must have been pondering in her heart.

Last Advent we wrote of the Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary,  a Catholic Feast that was originally celebrated in Spain. It is not on the universal calendar, but is still commemorated on December 18 in some places such as SpainPortugalItaly and Poland, as well as in a few religious orders. The Dominicans honor Mary under the title of "Our Lady of the Expectation”.

This Advent, let us ourselves ponder how we can better prepare in this time of waiting. Let us walk with the Mother of God through her pregnancy and labor, welcoming her Child in a new and deeper way into our hearts.

There are many images portraying this mystery for us to meditate on this Advent, so I will make it the focus of these Blogs.

Monday, November 22, 2021




Just in time for Thanksgiving I came across two  books on food for the soul- as well as the kitchen.

 Table of Plenty: Good Food for Body and Spirit (Stories, Reflections, Recipes)

 Table of Plenty invites readers into experiencing meals as a sacred time. Author Susan Muto grew up in an Italian family, with a stay-at-home mother whose love for cooking permeates this book. Her prose is highly descriptive and evocative; one feels as if one is right there in the kitchen with Muto and her mother as they go about preparing a meal. Rich marinara sauce, zesty eggplant, a simple loaf of bread and a spinach salad: each becomes an opportunity for reflection on experiencing the goodness of God through the food we eat and the company we share.The audio edition of this book can be downloaded via Audible.   Stock #: B36687  it is on sale at  Franciscan Media for $3.00


Saints at the Dinner Table  by Amy Hyed

I aimed to create recipes that would appeal to most people, would not require a master's in culinary arts to prepare and that would entertain as well as inform. My hope is that you feel inspired too and that this book serves as a friendly guidebook in your own quest to connect with—and even break bread with (as our Christian tradition calls us to do)—some of our most beloved saints! Prepare the meals with your family and bring the saints alive at your dinner table. —from the Introduction

Do you want to reconnect with family and friends and stimulate mealtime talk? Consider hosting dinners for your nearest and dearest and one of twelve saints who inspired award-winning baker and recipe innovator Amy Heyd. In Saints at the Dinner Table Heyd cooks up a delicious menu of meals that all your loved ones will relish. She dedicates each chapter to a saint who in some way inspired her to create original recipes for a complete meal—from salad to main course to dessert. Heyd combines a brief introduction to each saint, a reflection, an inspired menu, a dinner prayer and questions for meaningful dinner discussion. You won't want to wait to serve Saints at the Dinner Table at family dinner nights, book club discussions, parties with a twist and as a special gift for newlyweds, anniversaries, birthdays and more.  At Amazon  or Franciscan Media

 Of course she had to include St. Hildegard, whose recipes we still  have after 800 years, as well as Sts. Margaret of Scotland, her cousin Elizabeth of Hungary and Isadore the farmer.

Saturday, November 20, 2021



BLESSED CARLOS ACUTIS (Blogs June 2020 & July 2018 ) will serve as the patron of the first year of a new three-year Eucharistic Revival project the U.S. bishops approved Nov. 17, a designation that entrusts a critical initiative to the intercession of a popular modern Catholic hero known for spreading devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Carlos was beatified on Oct. 10, 2020, in Assisi, Italy

 Carlos, an English-born Italian Catholic who died in 2006 at age 15 shortly after being diagnosed with leukemia, used his technical ability as an amateur computer programmer to share information online about Eucharistic miracles. He is the first Catholic from the Millennial generation to be beatified.

 “The more often we receive the Eucharist, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of heaven."

 That same message is at the heart of the bishops’ Eucharist campaign, which was endorsed Nov. 17 during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual fall assembly in Baltimore.

 Set to officially launch with diocesan Eucharistic processions around the country on June 22, 2022 for the feast of Corpus Christi, the effort will include the creation of a new Eucharistic revival website, the development of new teaching materials, special training for diocesan and parish leaders, a traveling team of Eucharistic preachers, and a host of other initiatives.

 The campaign will culminate with a National Eucharist Congress, the first of its kind in the United States in nearly 50 years, to be held July 17-21 in Indianapolis.

 The bishops’ campaign, which many Catholics view as long overdue, comes at a time when devotion to the Eucharist is lagging among those who identify themselves as Catholic, surveys and other indicators show. 

Bl. Carlos once said;  “By standing before the Eucharistic Christ, we become holy.”

Friday, November 19, 2021



On Nov. 17, the U.S. Catholic bishops voted to advance  the  level of causes of beatification and canonization for Servants of God Charlene Marie Richard, Auguste Robert Pelafigue (See Blog Oct. 2016), and Joseph Ira Dutton (Blog April 2016) to Venerable.

Born in 1888, near Lourdes in France, AUGUSTE ROBERT  PELAFIGUE moved as a toddler with his family to Arnaudville, Louisiana.   He  was called "Nonco" (Uncle)  by those close to him, a nickname  he earned  because he was like a good uncle to everyone who came into his (circle) of influence.

That circle of influence was a large one. A teacher, August joined the faculty of the Little Flower School in Arnaudville, LA as the only lay member after teaching in public school. At the same time, he joined The Apostleship of Prayer, an organization with French roots dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He had a passionate devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 He devoutly attended daily Mass and served wherever he was needed and, with a rosary looped around his arm,  traversed the highways and byways of his community, spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

CHARLENE MARIE RICHARD was born  on Jan. 13, 1947 and was raised in a Louisiana town of the same name: Richard. Growing up, she cherished her family, her Catholic faith, having a special devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux. She also loved basketball. The second of 10 children, she “played Mass” with her brother, John Dale.

In middle school, the young Cajun girl was diagnosed with terminal leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow and lymphatic system. She responded to the illness by offering up her pain and suffering for others.

 Every day, the child asked the priest who ministered to her on her deathbed, “Father, who am I to offer my sufferings for today?”

Charlene died 16 days after her diagnosis on Aug. 11, 1959. She was just 12 years old. Bishop Deshotel who officially opened the cause of canonization for her called her the “little Cajun saint”. 

“I ask the approval of the conference in pursuing this cause of this innocent child who has proven to be an inspiration to all of us in our human condition as we carry the cross of illness,” Bishop Deshotel said. 

JOSEPH IRA DUTTON  was  a Civil War veteran who joined St. Damian of Molokai in his ministry to lepers.   Although he never took religious vows, Joseph was known as "Brother Joseph," a "brother to everybody." On Molokai he found real peace and joy. One peer recalled: "Dutton had a divine temper; nothing could ruffle it."  At 83, Joseph wrote: "I am ashamed to think that I am inclined to be jolly. Often think we don't know that our Lord ever laughed, and here my laugh is ready to burst out any minute."

He never left Molokai; he never wanted to. "Seek a vacation?" he asked. "Anything else would be slavery . . . The people here like me, I think, and I am sure I like them." He added: "I would not leave my lepers for all the money the world might have." The one exception was in 1917, when the 74-year-old patriot tried "to buckle on my sword-belt again" and re-enlist. His application was rejected, but he wasn't heart-broken.

Before his death on March 26, 1931, he said: "It has been a happy place — a happy life."  It had been a restless life until he found happiness among the lepers of Molokai. At the time of his death, the Jesuit magazine America noted: "Virtue is never so attractive as when we see it in action. It has a power to believe that we too can rise up above this fallen nature of ours to a fellowship with the saints."


Wednesday, November 17, 2021


BLESSED ZOLTAN LAJOS MESZLENYI, the second of five children, was born in 1892 in HatvanHungary , into a strong Catholic family. His father was a teacher and a school principal. He attended grammar school in Rimaszombat and began high school at a Protestant institution before moving to Esztergom and finishing at a Benedictine high school in 1909. 

After graduation, his patron the archbishop of Esztergom, Kolos Cardinal Vaszary, OSB, sent him to Rome to continue his education. As a pupil at the Collegium Germanico-Hungaricum, he studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University where he earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1912 and a degree in theology in 1913. He also earned a degree in canon law.

As a citizen of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy’s enemy during World War I, he had to leave Rome during that conflict, which forced him to spend studying some time in Innsbruck. It was there on October 28, 1915, that he received holy orders at the hand of His Lordship Franz Egger, the prince bishop of Brixen (then in Austria, now in Italy).

Upon his return to Hungary, he was appointed chaplain at Komárom, but a few months János Cardinal Csernoch called him later to Esztergom, where the primate’s chancellery entrusted him with more important tasks.

 From 1917 to 1937, he held a variety of progressively important curial posts. Then Pius XI appointed him coadjutor bishop of Esztergom. All throughout this time, he continued his studies in canon law and authored a significant book on the subject and taught it, as well as a member of the Peter Pázmány University theology faculty.

 In 1945, Jozsef Cardinal Mindszenty became the new primate of Hungary, and he confirmed Meszlényi in every one of his offices. Many  know of this heroic and holy cardinal who opposed some of history's worst ideological gangsters. The communist state security apparatus arrested Cardinal Mindszenty on December 26, 1948, and convicted him after an obscene show trial.

                                                                            Cardinal Mindszenty

Bishop Meszlényi then became vicar of the archbishop of Esztergom, first because the chapter recognized his rectitude and firmness, and secondly because they refused to elect Nicholas Beresztóczy, the candidate promoted by the communist state. In his inaugural address as vicar, Bishop Meszlényi said, “Christ – because He is the faithful shepherd of the Faith and our Church – out of loyalty, we will not deny Him ever! So help me God.”

 The communist regime could not forgive him being elected over their own candidate. On June 29, 1950, 12 days after his election, the communists arrested Bl. Zoltán and put him in the Kistarcsa internment camp, where he was kept in solitary confinement and tortured.

 So began eight months of cruel captivity, consisting of starvation and lack of heating. Several witnesses claimed the communists forced him to live during the winter with an open window day and night. These hardships were exacerbated by forced labor and violence and unspeakable torture.

 All the while no charges were brought against Bishop  Meszlényi. He was detained without trial. Furthermore the state machinery gave the public no news about the fate of the arrested bishop. It seems to have also subsequently erased by any documentation related to the arrest, if ever there was any.

Because of the torture and lack of medical care, Bishop Meszlényi died sometime between January 11, 1953, and March 4, 1954.

He was buried in an unmarked grave but exhumed in 1966 and his remains transferred to the cathedral in Esztergom.

 His feast is March 4.





Saturday, November 13, 2021



Letter in the San Juan Journal  November 10, 2021 by our good Shaw friend Gabriel Jacobs

There are laws aimed at preventing people from injuring or killing others either by harming their bodies directly with fists or knives or poisons or indirectly by gun. An unmasked and unvaccinated carrier of COVID can have the same effect just as much as those who are armed. Non-vaccinated and non-masked people spread COVID far more than the vaccinated and the masked. Appalling is that the controversy lies along political lines when it is a safety, moral, and legal question. By refusing to mask and vaccinate one is ignoring thou shalt not kill.



The most recent priest to be beatified (September 26, 2021) , as a martyr from WWII is GIOVANNI  FORNASINI.

Bl. Don Giovanni  was born near Bologna in 1915. He is reported to have been a poor student and, after leaving school, to have worked for a time as a lift boy at Bologna’s Grand Hotel.

 He eventually entered the seminary and was ordained a priest in 1942, at the age of 27. In his homily at his first Mass,  he said: “The Lord has chosen me, rascal among the rascals.”

 Despite beginning his priestly ministry amid the challenges of the Second World War, the blessed gained a reputation as a go-getter. He opened a school for boys at his parish outside Bologna, in the town of Sperticano, and a fellow seminary classmate, Fr. Lino Cattoi, described the young priest as seeming “always to be running.”

 “He was always around trying to free people from their difficulties and to solve their problems. He had no fear. He was a man of great faith and was never shaken.” He travelled on his bicycle to be of help and bring relief to those who were in danger.

When Nazi troops carried out a mass killing of at least 770 Italian civilians in the village of Marzabotto between Sept. 29 and Oct. 5, 1944, he sought to bury the dead.

 After receiving permission from an SS captain, the young priest left on Oct. 13 to bless and bury victims of the Marzabotto massacre, but never returned.

His body was recovered at the site as the war neared its end in April 1945 and an examination revealed that Fr. Giovanni had been brutally beaten before he was killed.

 At his beatification, the Holy Father said:  “A parish priest zealous in charity, he did not abandon his flock during the tragic period of the Second World War, but rather he defended it to the point of bloodshed. May his heroic witness help us to face life’s trials with fortitude.”

 On 19 May 1950, the President of Italy,Luigi Einaudi  conferred upon Don Fornasini posthumously Italy's Gold Medal of Military Valour. The award was presented to his mother, Maria, on 2 June 1951. The citation reads:

In his parish of Sperticano, where all true men fought in the mountains for the freedom of their Fatherland, he was a shining example of Christian charity. Pastor to the old, to the mother, to the bride, to the innocent child, he several times shielded them with his own body against the heinous atrocities of the German SS, saving many lives from death and encouraging all, both the fighters and their families, to heroic resistance. Arrested, miraculously escaping death, he at once and boldly resumed his role as pastor and soldier, first among the ruins and massacres of his destroyed Sperticano, then at San Martino di Caprara; where, however, he was struck down by the ferocity of the enemy. The voice of Faith and of Fatherland, he had dared fiercely to condemn the inhuman German massacres of so many of the weak and of the innocent, thereby calling down upon himself the barbarity of the invader and being slain; he, the Shepherd who had always with the utmost courage protected and guided his flock by his piety and by his example. – San Martino di Caprara, 13 October 1944

 Blessed Giovanni's feast day is October 13

Wednesday, November 10, 2021




Pope Francis will canonize BLESSED CHARLES de FOUCAULD,  (See Blog  March  2013) considered to be one of the pioneers of interreligious dialogue, together with six other Blesseds, during a Canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on 15 May.

The announcement was made on Tuesday by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. It follows the Ordinary Public Consistory of 3 May 2021, whereby the Pope had authorized the canonizations, without however setting a date for the ceremony due to the health emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld, born in 1858, was a French aristocrat and religious, whose work and writings led to the founding of the Congregation of the Little Brothers of Jesus. During his adventurous life, he was a Cavalry Officer in the French Army, and then an explorer and geographer before becoming a Catholic priest and hermit who lived among the Tuareg in Algeria’s Sahara Desert

He lived a life of prayer, meditation and adoration, in the incessant desire to be, for each person, a "universal brother", a living image of the love of Jesus. On the evening of December 1, 1916, he was killed by bandits.

At his beatification in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI said that as a priest, Foucauld “put the Eucharist and the Gospel at the center of his life.”

“He discovered that Jesus — who came to unite Himself to us in our humanity — invites us to that universal brotherhood which he later experienced in the Sahara, and to that love of which Christ set us the example,” Pope Benedict said.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021



FRIAR PLACIDO CORTESE who helped to rescue Jews during the Holocaust was named Venerable in August (2021).

Like St. Maximilian Kolbe, Venerable Cortese was a Franciscan friar who directed a Catholic publication and was tortured and killed by the Nazis.

 He is remembered for using his confessional in the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua to clandestinely communicate with an underground network that helped Jewish people and British prisoners of war escape the Nazi occupation of Italy.  He is  known locally as “the Italian Fr. Kolbe”.

 He was born in 1907 on the island of Cres, which is now part of Croatia. At the age of 13, he entered the minor seminary with the Order of Friars Minor Conventual and took the name Placido after taking his vows in 1924.

 He studied theology at the St. Bonaventure Theological College in Rome and was ordained a priest in 1930 at the age of 23. He offered his first Mass in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

 He spent several years serving at the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua, where he was asked to be the director of the Italian Catholic magazine Il Messaggero di Sant’Antonio (The Messenger of Saint Anthony), whose readership grew by 500,000 under his leadership.

 After the German occupation of Padua, Friar Cortese was part of an underground group linked to the Resistance, using his printing press to make false documents to help Jewish people and Allied soldiers reach safety in Switzerland.

 In October 1944, two German SS officers tricked the venerable into leaving the walls of his monastery in Padua, which was protected as an extraterritorial territory of the Holy See, on the false pretext of someone needing his help

He was immediately arrested and taken to a Gestapo bunker in
Trieste, where he was brutally tortured, but he did not give away the names of any of his associates.

 After weeks of torture, he died in Gestapo custody in November 1944 at the age of 37. His confessional in the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua continues to be a place of prayer today.

In one of his letters to his family, Venerable  Placido wrote: “Religion is a burden that one never tires of carrying, but which more and more enamors the soul toward greater sacrifices, even to the point of giving one’s life for the defense of the faith and the Christian religion, even to the point of dying amid torments like the martyrs of Christianity in distant and foreign lands.”

In all the photos I could find of this new Venerable, he seems so joyous

Thursday, November 4, 2021



All Souls Day- Ivan Milev- Bulgaria

November is not only the month of saints, but also  ALL SOULS.  The latest statistics re. the Covid 19 is astounding- the kind of figure which is hard to get your head around.

 The number who have died of COVID-19 has surpassed 5 million world wide.  The United States alone includes 745,800 deaths.

That grim statistic exceeds the number of deaths in the United States due to the 1918 influenza pandemic, which the Centers for Disease Control estimates was about 675,000.

An overwhelming majority of Americans who have died in recent months, a period in which the country has offered broad access to shots, were unvaccinated. Because of the Delta variant, the United States has had one of the highest recent death rates of any country with an ample supply of vaccines. The South was especially hit hard due to people refusing vaccinations. 

We continue to pray for the safety of all as well as the souls of all who have died.  RIP



The Franciscans,  who we have been close to for 50 years in Connecticut, as well as here on Shaw, now represent us in the Vatican.

Pope Francis has appointed Sister Raffaella Petrini, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, as Secretary-General of the Governorate of Vatican City State. Since 2005 she has served as an official at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. 

Born in Rome on 15 January 1969, she holds a degree in political science from the Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli (LUISS) and a doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum), where she is currently a professor. 

Sr. Raffaella is the first woman and non-clergy member to be secretary general of the Vatican’s governorate.

The appointment makes her one of the highest-ranking women at the Vatican, alongside Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, “ad interim” secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Sr. Natalie Becquart, an under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops.

Sister Rafaella replaces Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, who was promoted to president, effective Oct. 1.

 Sister Raffaella is also a professor of the economy of welfare and sociology at Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum), where she received a doctorate in social sciences.

She also has a master’s degree in organization behavior from the University of Hartford in Connecticut.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021



In his Angelus, November 1, the Holy Father said regarding the saints: The Beatitudes show us the path that leads to the Kingdom of God and to happiness: the path of humility, compassion, meekness, justice and peace…The joy of the Christian is not a fleeting emotion or a simple human optimism, but the certainty of being able to face every situation under God’s loving gaze, with the courage and strength that come from him.”

 The following martyrs knew this courage, that can only come from Christ.

The first of more than 2,600 Catholic priests killed under the Nazis was FATHER OTTO NEURURER,  who was beatified at St. Peter’s Basilica on November 24, 1996, by Pope St. John Paul II. 

Otto Neururer was born in Tyrol, Austria, in 1881. He was the 12th and youngest child of a peasant farmer, Alois Neururer, and his wife, Hildegard. When Otto was 8, his dad died. His mom, a devout Catholic, began suffering bouts of depression. Otto was a bit frail and also timid and, like his mom, also began experiencing bouts of depression. Nevertheless he had a brilliant mind and recognized his vocation to the priesthood. He followed his calling and was able to enter the seminary when he was 21 years old.

 He was ordained to the priesthood in 1907 and celebrated his first Mass in his hometown. He wanted to join the Jesuits and do missionary work, but his frail health prevented that. He served as a parish priest and teacher, and was finally assigned as pastor to St. Peter and Paul Parish in Innsbruck

 In 1938, while he was still pastor, a young woman came to him for advice. She wanted his opinion on whether or not she should marry a divorced man. Father Neururer knew of this man, that he was a philanderer and a con artist. He advised the woman against marrying him. She told her “fiancé” that she could not marry him and why. This man, though, was good friends with the Nazi party leader in the area and reported Father Otto to him. On December 15, 1938, Father Otto was arrested and charged with “slander to the detriment of German marriage.” 

On March 3, 1939, Father Otto was sent to Dachau, the first concentration camp established by the Nazis, to a section known as the “priests’ barracks.” Here he was routinely tortured, but this would not be his last stop. On September 26, 1939, he was sent to Buchenwald, which was under the command of Martin Sommer, aka “the Hangman of Buchenwald.” This would be Father’s last stop.

A prisoner came to Father Otto and asked for baptism. The priest could not decline and performed the sacrament as requested. Father Otto suspected that it might be a set-up, but he couldn’t refuse administering baptism, in case it wasn’t. It was a set-up, and Sommer decided to make an example of the priest. He ordered him taken to the “punishment block” and hanged upside down. 

The chaplain who witnessed Father Otto’s torturous death reported that he never complained. The priest lived for 34 hours, and even toward the end, he could be heard mumbling his prayers. He died on May 30, 1940 at the age of 58.