Thursday, July 30, 2015

St. Ignatius of Loyola: A Knight for Christ

July 31 is the memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, priest, and founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits).

St. Ignatius of Loyola (Iñigo) was born in 1491 in the Basque Country of northern Spain to parents of distinguished families in that area. He was the youngest of 13 children and was called was called Iñigo. At the age of 15, he served as a page in the court of a local nobleman and received a courtly education, learned to read books of chivalry and romance, gambled recklessly, became involved with women, quarrled and dueled. He later embraced a military career and became a valiant soldier.

Wounded in battle by a cannonball, which broke one leg and injured the other, he was taken prisoner by the French, who set his leg and eventually allowed him to go home to Loyola. He spent his time recuperating at his family home. Confined to his sick bed,  he asked for novels of chivaly to read, but was given pious books instead, which he grudgingly accepted. To his surprise, he enjoyed them and began to dream of becoming a "knight for Christ", pursuing the ideals of St. Francis and St. Dominic. He eventually promised to devote his life to being a knight for St. Peter if he recovered, which he did after nine months of convalescence.

As soon as Iñigo had healed enough to walk, he began a journey to Jerusalem so that he could "kiss the earth where our Lord had walked." He traveled through the town of Montserrat, Spain where he gave away his fine clothes to a poor man. At the Monastery of Montserrat, he made a general confession. Then, in an all-night vigil before the Black Madonna in the church of the Benedictine abbey there, he hung up his sword and dagger. Effectively, his old life was over and his new life had begun.

He became a hermit at nearby Manresa, praying, studying the spiritual life, meditating on the Trinity, fasting, and doing penance. Ten months later, he emerged at peace with himself.

Ignatius noticed that after doing good deeds for the Lord, he felt peaceful -- which he termed as a "consolation," but when he thought of being a successful soldier or of impressing a beautiful woman where he had initially felt enthused, he later felt dry. He called this a "desolation." Through this process of discernment, Ignatius was able to recognize that God was leading him to follow a path of service. Out of this experience he wrote his famous Spiritual Exercises.

After traveling and studying in different schools, he finished in Paris, where he received his degree at the age of 43. Many initially hated St. Ignatius because of his humble and austere lifestyle. Despite this, he attracted many followers at the university, including St. Francis Xavier, and soon started his order, The Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits. He travelled to Europe and the Holy Land, then settled in Rome to direct the Jesuits. His health suffered in later years, and he was nearly blind at death. He died of liver cancer at the age of 65. He was canonized in 1622 and his remains are enshrined in what is now the church of the Gesu in Rome.

Favorite Quotes

"If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint. And if you wish to become a great saint, entreat Him yourself to give you much opportunity for suffering; for there is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for His own great sacrifice of boundless charity."

"Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly."

"May it please him through his infinite and supreme goodness to deign to give us his abundant grace, so that we may know his most holy will and perfectly fulfil it."

~ Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Prayer of St. Ignatius

Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve;
to give, and not to count the cost,
to fight, and not to heed the wounds,
to toil, and not to seek for rest,
to labor, and not to ask for reward,
except that of knowing that we are doing your will.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fr. Robert Barron: Planned Parenthood and the Loss of Human Dignity

The recently released videos featuring Planned Parenthood employees bartering body parts of aborted infants are startling and appalling. This brings forth dialogue about the human person and the dignity of life, the argument for which is not based upon sentimentality or compassion but rests firmly upon a belief in the existence of God.

St. Martha, patron of cooks and housewives

By Jean M. Heimann

July 29 is the feast of St. Martha, virgin (who died in France around 80). Martha was born into an aristocratic and affluent family, but she is most well-known for her gift of hospitality in serving Jesus.

Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus. They were close friends of Jesus, for whom he had great affection, and he often came to visit them in their home in Bethany. In fact, the Gospel tells us: "Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary and Lazarus" (John 11:5). It was Martha who lovingly served the Lord when he visited them. One day, when she was preparing a meal for Jesus and his disciples, she realized that the task would be easier if her sister would help. She watched Mary sitting quietly at Jesus' feet, listening to him. She asked Jesus to persuade Mary to help her. Jesus was pleased with Martha's loving service. However, he wanted her to know that listening to God's Word and praying is even more important. So he said gently, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part."(Luke 10:41-42).

St. Martha's great faith in Jesus was demonstrated when her brother Lazarus died. As soon as she heard that Jesus was coming to Bethany, Martha went to meet him. She knew Jesus well enough to say: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21).  "Then Jesus told her that Lazarus would rise. He said, "He who believes in me, even if he die, shall live. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26) And Martha answered, Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world” (John 11:25-26). When Jesus saw Lazarus, he wept with Martha and Mary. Then, he performed the great miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead!

Later, Jesus came again to dine with Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Martha cooked and served them. This time, however, Martha showed a more loving attitude. She served with a generous and joy-filled heart.

Patronage: Butlers; cooks; dietitians; domestic servants; homemakers; hotel-keepers; housemaids; housewives; innkeepers; laundry workers; maids; manservants; servants; servers; single laywomen; travellers.

A Prayer to St. Martha

O blessed St. Martha, your faith led Jesus to proclaim, “I am the resurrection and the life”; and faith let you see beyond his humanity when you cried out, “Lord I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” With firm hope you said, “I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him”, and Jesus called your brother Lazarus back from the dead. With pure love for Jesus you welcomed him into your home.

Friend and servant of our Savior, I too am “troubled about many things”. (mention your intentions) Pray for me that I may grow in faith, hope and love, and that Jesus, who sat at your table, will hear me and grant me a place at the banquet of eternal life. Amen.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Fr. Robert Barron: The Mystery of God

Lesson 1 from Fr. Robert Barron's "The Mystery of God" film and study program. Learn more at This sample lesson is on "Atheism and What We Mean By 'God'".

Monday, July 20, 2015

Brief Blogging Break

Dear Readers,

I will be taking a brief blogging break as I finish my work on a major writing project. Don't go away! I will return shortly!

Friday, July 17, 2015

7QT: Summer Activities

1.  First of all, I would like to thank Matthew Coffin at  Big C Catholics for the wonderful review of my book, Seven Saints for Seven Virtues. This is the best and most comprehensive review I have had so far. I would also like to thank Chris Stewart of Casting Nets Ministry and Maria Stewart for their fine reviews on Amazon, as well. 

2.  What are we doing for fun this summer? Here's what I have in mind: Attending the Midwest Catholic Family Conference from August 7-9 in Wichita, KS. Then, traveling to Aspen, Colorado for another wonderful conference on The Future of Christianity? from August 14-16. I am looking forward to both of these conferences.

3. Here are some photo from my flower gardens this July:


Daylilies, Firecrackers, and Rose of Sharon bush

4. Movies (DVDs) I have really enjoyed watching this summer include: Mc Farland USA,  Planes, Selma, Paddington, Big Hero 6, and Dolphin Tale. All are rated PG with the exception of Selma, which is rated PG-13.  I would avoid taking the children to see Minions, as it is not a family-friendly movie.  

5. My favorite book of the summer has been Finding True Happiness: Satisfying Our Restless Hearts by Robert Spritzer, S.J., Ph.D. This is an excellent study of happiness and a guide to what makes us happy from historical, philosopical, psychological and theological systems. I would recommend it for those who enjoy delving deeply into the reasons why we are happy and are already somewhat knowledgeable in these areas. I enjoyed it because psychology and theology are two of my areas of interest and expertise.

6. On Catholic Fire, I posted a novena to St. Anne, which starts today. This is one of my favorite novenas, which I prayed at our local church with my mom for many years.

7. Just for fun -- a picture outside my window:

The bird on the right sat through the 30-minute storm last week on this branch, getting soaked, but not moving. When the storm ended the bird, on the left flew over to greet him with some little ones.

"I hope I didn't keep you waiting too long while I went shopping with the kids. They had a back to school sale."

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Novena to St. Anne starts July 17

Saint Anne’s feast day is on July 26th, so the St. Anne Novena is traditionally started on July 17th; however, you can pray it anytime. St. Anne (Hebrew, Hannah, grace; also spelled Ann, Anne, Anna) is the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the grandmother of Jesus, and the wife of Joachim. She is mentioned in the Apocrypha, chiefly the Protoevangelium of James, which dates back to the second century. Devotion to St. Anne dates back to the sixth century in the Church of Constantinople and the eighth century in Rome.

St. Anne is the patron saint of the province of Quebec, where the well-known shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre, (the site of many miracles) is located. She is patroness: against poverty;  of broom makers; cabinetmakers; carpenters; childless couples; equestrians; grandmothers; grandparents; homemakers; housewives; lace makers; lace workers; lost articles; miners; mothers; old-clothes dealers; pregnancy; pregnant women; horse riders; seamstresses; stablemen; sterility; turners; women in labor and those who have difficulty conceiving.

Novena Prayers to St. Anne

Recite the prayer for the proper day.

St. Anne Novena, Day One

Great Saint Anne, engrave indelibly on my heart and in my mind the words that have reclaimed and sanctified so many sinners:

“What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world if he lose his own soul?” May this be the principle fruit of these prayers by which I will strive to honor you during this novena.

At your feet renew my resolution to invoke you daily, not only for the success of my temporal affairs and to be preserved from sickness and suffering, but above all, that I may be preserved from all sin, that I may gain eternal salvation and that I will receive the special grace of…

(State your intention here.)

O most powerful Saint Anne, do not let me lose my soul, but obtain for me the grace of heaven, there with you, your blessed spouse, and your glorious daughter, to sing the praise of the Most Holy and Adorable Trinity forever and ever.


Pray for us, Saint Anne!

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

St. Anne Novena, Day Two

Glorious Saint Anne, how can you be otherwise than overflowing with tenderness toward sinners like myself, since you are the grandmother of Him who shed His blood for us, and the mother of her whom the saints call advocate of sinners? To you, therefore, I address my prayers with confidence.

Vouchsafe to commend me to Jesus and Mary so that, at your request, I may be granted remission of my sins, perseverance, the love of God, charity for all mankind, and the special grace of…

(State your intention here.)

…for which I stand in need at the present time. O most powerful protectress, let me not lose my soul, but pray for me that through the merits of Jesus Christ and the intercession of Mary, I may have the great happiness of seeing them, of loving and praising them with you through all eternity.


Pray for us, Saint Anne!

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

St. Anne Novena, Day Three

Beloved of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, mother of the Queen of Heaven, take us and all who are dear to us under your special care. Obtain for us the virtues you instilled in the heart of her who was destined to become Mother of God, and the graces with which you were endowed. O model of Christian womanhood, pray that we may imitate your example in our homes and families, listen to our petitions,

(State your intention here.)

Guardian of the infancy and childhood of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, obtain the graces necessary for all who enter the marriage state, that imitating your virtues they may sanctify their homes and lead the souls entrusted to their care to eternal glory. Amen.

Pray for us, Saint Anne!

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

St. Anne Novena, Day Four

Glorious Saint Anne, I kneel in confidence at your feet, for you also have tasted the bitterness and sorrow of life. My need, the cause of my request, is…

(State your intention here.)

Good Saint Anne, you who did suffer much during the twenty years that preceded your glorious maternity, I beseech you, by all your sufferings and humiliations, to grant my prayer.

I pray to you, through your love for your glorious spouse Saint Joachim, through your love for your immaculate child, through the joy you did feel at the moment of her happy birth, not to refuse me. Bless me, bless my family and all who are dear to me, so that some day we may all be with you in the glory of heaven, for all eternity.


Pray for us, Saint Anne!

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

St. Anne Novena, Day Five

Great Saint Anne, how far I am from resembling you. I so easily give way to impatience and discouragement; and so easily give up praying when God does not at once answer my request. Prayer is the key to all heavenly treasures and I cannot pray, because my weak faith and lack of confidence fail me at the slightest delay. O my powerful protectress, come to my aid, listen to my petition…

(State your intention here.)

Make my confidence and fervor, supported by the promise of Jesus Christ, increase as the trial to which God in His goodness subjects me is prolonged, that I may obtain like you more than I can venture to ask for. In the future I will remember that I am made for heaven and not for earth; for eternity and not for time; that consequently I must ask, above all, the salvation of my soul which is assured to all who pray properly and who persevere in prayer.


Pray for us, Saint Anne!

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

St. Anne Novena, Day Six

Glorious Saint Anne, mother of the Mother of God, I beg your powerful intercession for the freedom from my sins and the assistance I need in my troubles…

(State your intention here.)

What can I not hope for if you deign to take me under your protection? The Most High has been pleased to grant the prayers of sinners, whenever you have been charitable enough to be their advocate.

Therefore, I beg you to help me in all spiritual and temporal dangers; to guide me in the true path of Christian perfection, and finally to obtain for me the grace of a happy death, so that I may contemplate your beloved Jesus and daughter Mary in your loving companionship throughout all eternity.


Pray for us, Saint Anne!

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

St. Anne Novena, Day Seven

O Good Saint Anne, so justly called the mother of the infirm, the cure for those who suffer from disease, look kindly upon the sick for whom I pray.

Alleviate their sufferings; cause them to sanctify their sufferings by patience and complete submission to the Divine Will; finally deign to obtain health for them and with it the firm resolution to honor Jesus, Mary, and yourself by the faithful performance of duties.

But, merciful Saint Anne, I ask you above all for the salvation of my soul, rather than bodily health, for I am convinced that this fleeting life is given us solely to assure us a better one. I cannot obtain that better life without the help of God’s graces. I earnestly beg them of you for the sick and for myself, especially the petition for which I am making in this novena…

(State your intention here.)

…through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of His Immaculate Mother, and through your efficacious and powerful mediation, I pray.


Pray for us, Saint Anne!

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

St. Anne Novena, Day Eight

Remember, O Saint Anne, you whose name signifies grace and mercy, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, and sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you, good, and kind mother; I take refuge at your feet, burdened with the weight of my sins. O holy mother of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, despise not my petition…

(State your intention here.)

…but hear me and grant my prayer.


Pray for us, Saint Anne!

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

St. Anne Novena, Day Nine

Most holy mother of the Virgin Mary, glorious Saint Anne, I, a miserable sinner, confiding in your kindness, choose you today as my special advocate. I offer all my interests to your care and maternal solicitude. O my very good mother and advocate, deign to accept me and to adopt me as your child.

O glorious Saint Anne, I beg you, by the passion of my most loving Jesus, the Son of Mary, your most holy daughter, to assist me in all the necessities both of my body and my soul. Venerable Mother, I beg you to obtain for me the favor I seek in this novena…

(State your intention here.)

…and the grace of leading a life perfectly conformable in all things to the Divine Will. I place my soul in your hands and in those of your kind daughter. I ask for your favor in order that, appearing under your patronage before the Supreme Judge, He may find me worthy of enjoying His Divine Presence in your holy companionship in Heaven.


Pray for us, Saint Anne!

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Today is the patronal feast of the Carmelites. The Order of Carmelites takes its name from Mount Carmel in Israel, which was the first place dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and where a chapel was erected in her honor before her Assumption into heaven.

In the Old Testament, Mount Carmel was a holy place sanctified by the memory of Elijah and his followers - who fought for the rights of the true God 900 years before Christ.

Christians would interpret Elijah's vision of the cloud rising from the Mediterranean sea as a symbol of the Blessed Virgin Mary whose Son would be the Messiah and Savior (1 Kings 18, 42-45). After the days of Elijah and Elisha other holy hermits lived on Mt. Carmel and led solitary, contemplative lives, praying and fasting. Along with the austere figure of Elijah, they looked for inspiration to the Mother of God. Her Latin title was "Virgo Dei Genitrix", which means "Virgin Mother of God".

July 16th is also the feast of the "Scapular of Mount Carmel." On this day in 1251, pious tradition says, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Simon Stock, General of the Carmelites at Cambridge, England, showed him the scapular and promised supernatural favors and her special protection to his Order and to all persons who would wear her scapular. When she presented the scapular to him, she told him, "This is your privilege: whoever dies wearing this shall not suffer eternal fire."

To obtain the indulgences and other benefits promised to those who wear the Carmelite scapular, a person must be invested by a priest and must lead a consistent Christian life.

Practices: Wear the Brown scapular after enrollment. Observe chastity according to your state in life. Recite the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or recite the Rosary daily (usual requirements).

Promises/benefits:"...whoever dies wearing this [the brown scapular] shall not suffer eternal fire." [Blessed Mother's promise to St. Simon]

Sabbatine Privilege: Release from purgatory on the first Saturday after death [revealed by the Blessed Mother to Pope John XXII in 1322].

Partial indulgence granted by Pope Benedict XV to those who devoutly kiss the scapular.

Prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel composed by Saint Simon Stock 

O Beautiful Flower of Carmel, most fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, holy and singular, who brought forth the Son of God, still ever remaining a pure virgin, assist us in our necessity! O Star of the Sea, help and protect us! Show us that you are our Mother! Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

St. Bonaventure: Seraphic Doctor of the Church

By Jean M. Heimann

July 15 is the memorial of St. Bonaventure, O.F.M., who is known as"Seraphic Doctor" because of his burning love for God and his great zeal to do God's work.

St. Bonaventure was born in the small town of Bagnoregio, Tuscany, Italy in 1221 and received the baptismal name of John. An event that occurred when he was a boy profoundly influenced his life. He had a serious illness and not even his father, who was a physician, believed that he would survive. His mother prayed for the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi, who had been canonized a short time earlier. And John was cured.

He went to the University of Paris when he was 14, where he studied theology under the English Franciscan, Alexander of Hales. After he had received the diploma of Master of Arts, John asked himself an important question: "What must I do with my life?" Captivated by the witness of the zeal of the Friars Minor in Paris, John asked to be received into the family of the followers of St. Francis.

At the age of twenty-two, John entered the Franciscan Order and was named Bonaventure. After he made his vows, he was sent to Paris to continue his studies in theology and philosophy. In Paris he became a close friend of St. Thomas Aquinas and received his Doctor of theology degree, together with St. Thomas Aquinas. Like St. Thomas Aquinas, he enjoyed the friendship of the holy King, St. Louis IX.

Bonaventure taught at the University of Paris for several years and was known as both a brilliant teacher and a powerful preacher. At the age of thirty-five he was chosen Minister General of his Order and became known as its “second founder.” He restored a perfect calm to the Order where peace had been disturbed by internal disagreements. He did much for his Order. He wrote 500 sermons, created a commentary on the Rule, and composed The Life of St. Francis.

He was nominated Archbishop of York by Pope Clement IV, but refused the honor. Gregory X appointed him as Cardinal and Bishop of Albano and, in that position, he was asked to draw up the agenda for the 14th General Council of Lyons in 1274. However, he died while the Council was still in session on July 15, 1274, and was buried at the Franciscan church in Lyons, France. Bonaventure was canonized in 1482 by the Franciscan Pope Sixtus IV and declared a Doctor (the "Seraphic Doctor") of the Church in 1587 by Pope Sixtus V.

St. Bonaventure's theology is always written with holy fervor and consistently focused on increasing the depth and intensity of the spiritual life.  Some of his written works include: The Mind's Road to God, Psalter of the blessed Virgin Mary, Journey of the Mind to God, Perfection of Life, Soliloquy, and The Threefold Way.

Patron: Bowel disorders.

Symbols: Cardinal's hat; ciborium; Communion. Often portrayed as: Cardinal in Franciscan robes, usually reading or writing.


"When we pray, the voice of the heart must be heard more than that proceeding from the mouth. "

 “Mary seeks for those who approach her devoutly and with reverence, for such she loves, nourishes, and adopts as her children.”

"Suffering is like a kiss that Jesus hanging from the cross bestows on persons whom He loves in a special way. Because of this love He wants to associate them in the work of the redemption."

"Meditation on Christ in His humanity is corporeal in deed, in fact, but spiritual in mind. . . . By adopting this habit, you will steady your mind, be trained to virtues, and receive strength of soul....Let meditation of Christ's life be your one and only aim, your rest, your food, your desire, your study."

~ St. Bonaventure

Prayer of St. Bonaventure to the Holy Spirit

Lord Jesus, as God's Spirit came down and rested upon you,
May the same Spirit rest on us,
Bestowing his sevenfold gifts.
First, grant us the gift of understanding,
By which your precepts may enlighten our minds.
Second, grant us counsel, by which we may follow
in your footsteps on the path of righteousness.
Third, grant us courage,
by which we may ward off the enemy's attacks.
Fourth, grant us knowledge,
by which we can distinguish good from evil.
Fifth, grant us piety,
by which we may acquire compassionate hearts.
Sixth, grant us fear,
by which we may draw back from evil
and submit to what is good.
Seventh, grant us wisdom,
that we may taste fully the life-giving sweetness of your love.