Friday, March 27, 2015

Fr. Robert Barron on Cinderella

Fr. Barron tells us that Kenneth Branagh’s “Cinderella” is the most surprising Hollywood movie of the year, not because it subverts the traditional fairy story, but because it presents it as a deeply Christian tale.

Seven Quick Takes: Spring, Holy Week, Palm Sunday, Saints, and Books

1. Spring has arrived here in Wichita! Above are just a few of the signs I have been seeing in my yard.

Below is another sign of spring.

2. On Palm Sunday evening, I will be a guest on Fr. Ronald P. Legwin's radio program discussing my book, Seven Saints for Seven Virtues. I am looking forward to that, as well as to my next speaking engagement at Sacred Heart parish in Colwich this coming week.

3. On March 25, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord and I wrote a new blog post on that feast day, focusing on joy and love.

5. On Thursday, I also wrote a blog post entitled Surrender it to God, which focuses in on abandonment, trust, and surrender.

6. What I am reading this week: 30 Days with Teresa of Avila by Daniel Burke and Anthony Lilles.

7. Here is another book recommendation from my friend, Leticia Velaquez: Review of the book "Joyful Witness: How to be An Extraordinary Catholic" by Randy Hain. 

For more Quick Takes visit This Ain't the Lyceum.   

Have a wonderful weekend and a blessed Holy Week!


Thursday, March 26, 2015

St. Margaret of Clitherow: patron of businesswomen, converts, and martyrs

The saint of the day for March 26th is St. Margaret Clitherow, patron of businesswomen, converts, and martyrs.

Margaret was born in Middleton, England, in 1555, of protestant parents. An attractive woman full of wit and cheer, she had a charming personality.

In 1571, she married John Clitherow, a well-to-do butcher (to whom she bore two children). She was a good housewife, capable in business, dearly loved by her husband, whose only regret was that she would not attend church. A few years later, she entered the Catholic Church. Her zeal led her to harbor fugitive priests, for which she was arrested and imprisoned by hostile authorities. They tried every means to make her deny her Faith, but the holy woman stood firm. Finally, she was condemned to be pressed to death on March 25, 1586. She was stretched out on the ground with a sharp rock on her back and crushed under a door loaded down with unbearable weights. Her bones were broken and she died within fifteen minutes.

The humanity and holiness of this servant of God can be readily evidenced in her words to a friend when she learned of her condemnation: "The sheriffs have said that I am going to die this coming Friday; and I feel the weakness of my flesh which is troubled at this news, but my spirit rejoices greatly. For the love of God, pray for me and ask all good people to do likewise."

Margaret died on Good Friday, March 25, 1586, her last words being, "Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, have mercy on me!" She was only thirty years old and was canonized in 1970 as one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales.

Surrender It to God

“Our Lord has shown me the way that leads to love – it is the only way that leads to love – it is the way of childlike trust and surrender; the way a child that sleeps is afraid of nothing in its father’s arms.” -- St. Therese of Lisieux

"We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can - namely, surrender our will and fulfill God's will in us." – St. Teresa of Avila

“Just surrender it to God!” I heard my wise friend saying as I recounted to her the events of the past week. “I am!” I retorted. “I am going to pray for you”, she replied.

I like to think that I am immune to letting my feelings get out of control. I am an intelligent, rational human being after all, almost Spock-like at times. Of course, I know what I am supposed to do spiritually when things become chaotic and are totally out of my control in this life. The very first thing to do is to pray – to share my intimate feelings with God. After all, He knows me inside and out, and loves me unconditionally even though I am His imperfect daughter. I am helpless and must come to Him as a little child, resting my head on His lap and surrender it all to him. Only He can calm the inner turmoil and heal me of my anger, my fear, and my weaknesses. I need to let Him become my strength and my comfort when the world around me makes no sense at all.

On Sunday evening this past week, I just learned that my younger sister has an aggressive cancer and is scheduled for a stem cell transplant.  That same day, she was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital, very close to leaving this life.

She is the fourth person in my family of seven to be seriously ill with this disease. Initially, I tried to push aside my anger and my fears. I know that it is not healthy to totally bury these feelings, so I had a good cry. Clinging to these negative feelings is self-defeating and only generates despair. Instead, I offered up my pain and fatigue for her. I have also been praying a daily Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Rosary, and other special prayers to my favorite saints for her. I have tried to focus on healing Scripture passages. I have asked everyone I know to pray for her and they have responded generously.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to all those who are praying for her. She remains in the intensive care unit and is still in serious condition, but is showing signs of improvement. She is still unable to speak and I long to hear her voice. I know, however, that in God’s time, she will speak again.

The situation is far more complex than my words can express here and I am not at liberty to tell the whole story; suffice to say, her immediate family is in need of healing and support in all ways imaginable. Due to her cancer and her husband’s daily dialysis, the family is experiencing serious financial problems. I am praying that someone in their community (in another state) will assist them. More importantly, I am praying for spiritual healing within the family and for God’s peace to fill her heart and all of our hearts as we accept His will and minister to her needs.

Already, I feel as if God is accomplishing amazing things through the power of prayer. But why should that surprise me? I know that “for God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Prayer of Surrender to God

by Thomas à Kempis

Lord, You know what is best; let this be done or that be done as You please. Give what You will, as much as You will, when You will. Do with me as You know best, as will most please You, and will be for Your greater honor. Place me where You will and deal with me freely in all things. I am in Your hand; turn me about whichever way You will. Behold, I am Your servant, ready to obey in all things. Not for myself do I desire to live, but for You--would that I could do this worthily and perfectly! (The Imitation of Christ, Bk 3, chapter 15)

~ copyright Jean M. Heimann 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

Mary was a great model for us because in her heart there was no obstacle to God's will. Her "Yes" to God's plan for her life is all about her obedience and love for Him.

Related Post:

The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Solemnity of the Annuciation of the Lord

On March 25, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, which is the coming of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to announce to her the special mission God had chosen for her in being the mother of His only Son. This solemnity is also the first joyful mystery of the rosary and an event which should fill our hearts with joy and thanksgivng.

The Franciscans tell us: “The Immaculate Virgin Mary joyfully conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit.” In doing so, they describe the annunciation as the Blessed Virgin Mary’s first joy.

In the first chapter of Luke, we learn that the Angel Gabriel, who was sent by God, shared with the Blessed Virgin Mary the message that she was to be the Mother of God. Imagine the joy in the heart of Mary when she learned from this messenger of God that she, who was willing to be but a handmaid or servant in the household of the Lord, was actually to be the Mother of God!  What joy and happiness at the greeting of the angel! What joy to know that now within her womb she carried the Son of God!

The first word the angel addressed to the Blessed Virgin was an invitation to joy. The Ambassador of God greeted her by saying: “Hail, full of grace.” Hail is our English translation of the Greek word “chaire” which means “rejoice”.

St.  John Paul II tells us that there are three reasons for the angel Gabriel’s invitation to joy: (1) God’s saving presence among his people, (2) the coming of the Messiah, and (3) free and gratuitous fruitfulness – which all find their fulfillment in Mary.

In the Old Testament, the prophet Zephaniah says: “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!  (Zep. 3:14).   In this passage, the prophet is personifying Israel by referring to her as the “daughter of Zion”.  This term “daughter of Zion” refers to faithful Israel as a whole, who awaits her Messiah. In the New Testament, Mary is the new daughter of Zion who has good reason to rejoice because God has chosen her as his humble servant to fulfill His plan of salvation. Mary is the perfect daughter of Zion because she fulfills the expectation of Israel for the Messiah. She is the immaculate Virgin who eagerly awaits the coming of the Savior.

God invites Mary, as the new Daughter of Zion to enter into deep joy.  Mary accepts this role not only on behalf of all the people of David, but on behalf of all humanity because the Old Testament extended the Davidic Messiah to all nations (Ps 2:8, 72:8).

As the new Daughter of Zion, Mary is the virgin of the covenant which God establishes with all mankind. As the new Daughter of Zion, Mary is specifically suited to entering into the spousal relationship with God.  As a consecrated virgin, she offers God the true heart of a bride. Although consecrated virginity did not exist in Israel at that time, Mary entrusted her virginity to God. She was the first woman to make such a vow.

Through faith, this bride of Christ listens to the voice of God and freely submits her entire being to the plan of God over her life. Through her selfless Fiat, Mary was immediately cooperating with the entire work of what Jesus would accomplish. The word obey comes from the Latin ob-audire which means to hear or listen to.  Mary possesses the virtues of faith, humility, and simplicity that permit her to listen to God and to put his plan into practice. We know that Mary does not simply submit to nor passively accept God’s plan for her life, but she eagerly desires to fulfill it and enthusiastically embraces it. As the Bride of the Church, Mary does not view her role as a duty or task to be completed, but sees herself as a lover, who desires the happiness of her spouse, and responds passionately with love to please the beloved. She acts solely out of love and obedience to God. Mary was motivated, above all, by love. She lovingly and obediently embraced God’s will in her life.

"What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for ´we no longer know Christ according to the flesh´, but He dwells in us spiritually and the Father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us."

~ St. Gregory of Nyssa

copyright Jean M. Heimann March, 2015

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo: Layman turned Archbishop

The saint of the day is Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo  also known as St. Toribio de Mogrovejo. Together with St. Rose of Lima, St. Turibius of Mongrovejo is the first known saint of the New World, serving the Lord in Peru, South America, for 26 years.

Born in Spain and educated for the law, he became so brilliant a scholar that he was made professor of law at the University of Salamanca and eventually became chief judge of the Inquisition at Granada. He succeeded too well. But he was not sharp enough a lawyer to prevent a surprising sequence of events.

In 1580 the archbishopric of Lima, capital of Spain's colony in Peru, became vacant. He was the one person with the strength of character and holiness of spirit to heal those who had infected that area. He protested the assignment, but was overruled. He was ordained a priest and bishop and sent to Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst. The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. Abuses among the clergy were flagrant, and he devoted his energies (and suffering) to this area first.

He began the long and arduous visitation of an immense archdiocese, studying the language, staying two or three days in each place, often with neither sleep nor food. He confessed every morning to his chaplain, and celebrated Mass with intense fervor.

His people, though very poor, were sensitive, dreading to accept public charity from others. Turibius solved the problem by helping them anonymously. After serving as Bishop of Lima for 26 years, he died in 1606. He was canonized in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII.

St. Turibius is the patron saint of: Native rights, Latin American bishops, and Peru.

Saint Quote: "Time is not our own, and we must give a strict account of it."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello: wife, religious, foundress

The saint of the day for March 21st is Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello (also known as St. Benedicta Cambiagio Frasinello).

Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello was born on October 2, 1791 in Langasco (Genoa) Italy; she died on  March 21,1858 in Ronco Scrivia in Liguria. She was a wife, religious and foundress. She let the Holy Spirit guide her through married life to the work of education and religious consecration. She founded a school for the formation of young women and also a religious congregation, and did both with the generous collaboration of her husband. Benedetta was a pioneer in her determination to give a high quality education to young women, for the formation of families for a "new Christian society" and for promoting the right of women to a complete education.

Call to marriage, then to religious life

From her parents Benedetta received a Christian formation that rooted in her the life of faith. Her family settled in Pavia when she was a girl. When she was 20 years old, Benedetta had a mystical experience that gave her a profound desire for a life of prayer and penance, and of consecration to God. However, in obedience to the wishes of her parents, in 1816, she married Giovanni Frassinello and lived married life for two years. In 1818, moved by the example of his saintly wife, Giovanni agreed that the two should live chastely, "as brother and sister" and take care of Benedetta's younger sister, Maria, who was dying from intestinal cancer. They began to live a supernatural parenthood quite unique in the history of the Church.

Congregation founded by wife, who is supported by her husband

Following Maria's death in 1825, Giovanni entered the Somaschi Fathers founded by St Jerome Emiliani, and Benedetta devoted herself completely to God in the Ursuline Congregation of Capriolo. A year later she was forced to leave because of ill health, and returned to Pavia where she was miraculously cured by St. Jerome Emiliani. Once she regained her health, with the Bishop's approval, she dedicated herself to the education of young girls. Benedetta needed help in handling such a responsibility, but her own father refused to help her. Bishop Tosi of Pavia asked Giovanni to leave the Somaschi novitiate and help Benedettain her apostolic work. Together they made a vow of perfect chastity in the hands of the bishop, and then began their common work to promote the human and Christian formation of poor and abandoned girls of the city. Their educational work was of great benefit to Pavia. Benedetta became the first woman to be involved in this kind of work. The Austrian government recognized her as a "Promoter of Public Education".

She was helped by young women volunteers to whom she gave a rule of life that later received ecclesiastical approval. Along with instruction, she joined formation in catechesis and in useful skills like cooking and sewing, aiming to transform her students into "models of Christian life" and so assure the formation of families.

Benedictine Sisters of Providence

Benedetta's work was considered pioneering for those days and was opposed by a few persons in power and by the misunderstanding of clerics. In 1838 she turned over the institution to the Bishop of Pavia. Together with Giovanni and five companions, she moved to Ronco Scrivia in the Genoa region. There they opened a school for girls that was a refinement on what they had done in Pavia.

Eventually, Benedetta founded the Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of Providence. In her rule she stressed the education of young girls. She instilled the spirit of unlimited confidence and abandonment to Providence and of love of God through poverty and charity. The Congregation grew quickly since it performed a needed service. Benedetta was able to guide the development of the Congregation until her death. On March 21, 1858 she died in Ronco Scrivia.

Her example is that of supernatural maternity plus courage and fidelity in discerning and living God's will.

Today the Benedictine Nuns of Providence are present in Italy, Spain, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Peru and Brazil. They are at the service of young people, the poor, the sick and the elderly. The foundress also opened a house of the order in Voghera. Forty years after the death of Benedetta, the bishop separated this house from the rest of the Order. The name was changed to the Benedictines of Divine Providence who honor the memory of the Foundress.

She was beatified by John Paul II on May 10, 1987.

Quote: "When God wants something, He does not fail to find the appropriate means." -Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello

Seven Quick Takes: Saints, Spring, and Books

1. I love St. Patrick's Day! This year we attended the local parade, which we enjoyed. Here are just a few photos of the floats and parade entries we viewed.

2.  St. Joseph's Day is also a wonderful day for celebration! Check out these beautiful St. Joseph Altars in New Orleans.

3.  This week I wrote about St Cyril of Jerusalem, a 4th century theologian and Doctor of the Church, who was accused of Arianism by his brother bishops!  He gave some great advice to the catechumens: "Make your fold with the sheep; flee from the wolves: depart not from the Church." 

4. Here's a FREE BOOK! From the Hub to the Heart by Andy LaVallee and Leticia Velasquez -- FREE from now until Saturday! Go HERE.  Read my review

5.  Happy First Day of Spring!

6.  "This is an absolutely wonderful book, inspiring, edifying, informative and beautifully written."
- Ellen Gable Hrkach

"Why I love it: Saints are often depicted as if they’re so holy, they’re almost not human. That’s not the case with this book. Jean brings out each saint’s special virtue and starts the reader on the path toward living that particular virtue." - Barbara Szyszkewicz

You can find Seven Saints for Seven Virtues at Amazon, Servant Books, or Barnes and Noble.

7.  So happy to hear of the Holy Father's approval!

Have a wonderful weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't The Lyceum. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The statue of St. Joseph that Pope Francis keeps in his room

The Inaugural Mass of the Pontificate for Pope Francis took place on March 19, Saint Joseph's Day. Joseph is one of  Pope Francis' most beloved saints. He explained why during his trip to the Philippines in January.

January 16, 2015 (Philippines)
"I have great love for Saint Joseph, because he is a man of silence and strength. On my table I have an image of Saint Joseph sleeping. Even when he is asleep, he is taking care of the Church!”

Pope Francis advised people to leave a "note" under the image of the saint for help whenever they have a problem.

January 16, 2015 (Philippines)
"Joseph’s rest revealed God’s will to him. In this moment of rest in the Lord, as we pause from our many daily obligations and activities, God is also speaking to us.”

St. Joseph is described in the Gospel as a discreet but determined man, virtues that Pope Francis values.

January 16, 2015 (Philippines)
"But like Saint Joseph, once we have heard God’s voice, we must rise from our slumber; we must get up and act.”

Pope Francis said on that occasion that faith does not distance us from the world. On the contrary, it brings us closer. For that reason, St. Joseph is a model father for the Christian family. He overcame the difficulties of life because he rested with God.

Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary, foster father of Jesus, and patron of the universal Church.  On May 31, we honor St. Joseph as the patron of workers.

Most of the reliable information on St. Joseph is contained in the first two chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Here we discover that Joseph was of royal descent from David, that the family was from Bethlehem in Judea and that Joseph, who was a builder, had moved from Bethlehem to Nazareth in Galilee.

Joseph was engaged to Mary and upon learning that she was pregnant; he had plans to divorce her. Described in Matthew as a righteous man, he intended to dismiss her quietly. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream to tell him, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (MT 1:20-21). "When Joseph woke from sleep he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him." (MT 1: 24).

St. Joseph was a humble, obedient man of God who acted out of love for his family. He listened to God and always put God's will above his own desires and plans.

Pope Francis tells us: Saint Joseph is venerated as the "guardian” of the Holy Family, and in this role he serves as a model for all fathers and educators.

Joseph watched over Jesus’ human development – his growth, as Saint Luke tells us, "in wisdom, age and grace” (2:52).  We think of how Joseph, as the carpenter of Nazareth, taught the young Jesus his trade and the value of work.  Joseph also quietly imparted to Jesus that wisdom which consists above all in reverence for the Lord, prayer and fidelity to his word, and obedience to his will.

Joseph’s paternal example helped Jesus to grow, on a human level, in his understanding and appreciation of his unique relationship to his heavenly Father.  With Our Lady, Joseph guided the young Jesus as he responded to the working of the Holy Spirit in his heart and in his life.  By his example and prayers, may Saint Joseph be a sure guide to all parents, priests and teachers charged with the education of our young.

Patron: Against doubt; against hesitation; Americas; Austria; Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; California; Belgium; Bohemia; bursars; cabinetmakers; Canada; Carinthia; carpenters; China; confectioners; craftsmen; Croatian people (in 1687 by decree of the Croatian parliament) dying people; emigrants; engineers; expectant mothers; families; fathers; Florence, Italy; happy death; holy death; house hunters; immigrants; interior souls; Korea; laborers; Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin; Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky; Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire; Mexico; Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee; New France; New World; Oblates of Saint Joseph; people in doubt; people who fight Communism; Peru; pioneers; protection of the Church; Diocese of San Jose, California; diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; social justice; Styria, Austria; travelers; Turin Italy; Tyrol Austria; unborn children Universal Church; Vatican II; Vietnam; Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston West Virginia; wheelwrights; workers; working people.