Tuesday, December 3, 2019

New Saint Highlight


John Henry Newman
On October 13, 2019, in St. Peter’s Square, at a Mass with over 50,000 attendees, Pope Francis declared Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, Cardinal John Henry Newman, Margurite Bays, and Giuseppina Vannini saints.

Cardinal John Henry Newman

Born: February 21, 1801
Died: August 11, 1890
Life: John Henry Newman was born in the city of London on February 21, 1801, to John Newman and Jemima Fourdrinie. From a young age, he hungered for truth. This desire would ultimately lead to his conversion to Catholicism. Raised an Anglican, Newman became an Anglican priest at the age of 27, as well as a professor at Oxford. In 1845, at the age of 44, Newman converted to Catholicism. He studied theology in Rome for several years before being ordained a Catholic priest in 1847. Pope Leo XII appointed Newman as Cardinal in 1879. Interestingly, Newman had neer been a bishop (typically one must be a bishop before becoming a cardinal). Today, Newman is chiefly remembered for his theological contributions, including an incredible defense of Catholic education. He is also remembered for being instrumental in the foundation of the Catholic University of Ireland in Dublin.

Monday, December 2, 2019

New Saint Highlight

On October 13, 2019, in St. Peter’s Square, at a Mass with over 50,000 attendees, Pope Francis declared Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, Cardinal John Henry Newman, Margurite Bays, and Giuseppina Vannini saints.
Left to right: The official canonization images of Mariam Thresia, Giuseppina Vannini, Irma Dulce Lopes Pontes and Marguerite Bays
Giuseppina Vannini, Founder of the Daughters of Saint Camillus
Born: July 7, 1859, in Rome
Died: February 23, 1911
Life: Giuseppina Vannini (born Giuditta Vannini) was born to Angelo Vannini and Annunziata Papi. Her parents both died within a few years of each other, leaving Giuditta and her siblings orphans when she was just seven years old. Giuditta was separated from her siblings and sent to an orphanage run by Vincient Sisters. At the age of 28, Giuditta felt called to religious life and entered the novitiate of the Daughters of Charity in Siena. Due to poor health, Giuditta was unable to continue in the novitiate and was asked to leave. Still hoping to pursue religious life, Giuditta did not give up on her call from God. A few years later, in 1891, she met Father Luigi Tezza. Eventually, with his help, she founded the order of the Daughters of Saint Camillus, taking Giuseppina as her religious name. The mission of the order was to care for the sick. On December 8, 1895, she was made the Superior General of the order. Today, the order 800 sisters working in 22 countries.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

New Saint Highlight



On October 13, 2019, in St. Peter’s Square, at a Mass with over 50,000 attendees, Pope Francis declared Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, Cardinal John Henry Newman, Margurite Bays, and Giuseppina Vannini saints.

Margurite Bays

Born: September 8, 1815
Died: June 27, 1879

Life: Marguerite Bays was born in Switzerland to Pierre-Antoine Bays and Josephine Morel. Though we often hear about Saints who were religious sisters/brothers/priests, Marguerite Bays was a lay woman (an ‘ordinary’ member of the Catholic Church) for her entire life. She grew up to be a seamstress. Never marrying, Marguerite devoted her life to God by serving her church community (teaching young children the faith) and by working with the sick and the poor. Attending daily Mass, maintaining a strong devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as well as the Eucharist, were all elements of Marguerite’s deep prayer life. Rooted in the Gospel, she was called to care profoundly for her family. Like many of us, her family was not perfect – her brother was imprisoned, her sister returned to Marguerite’s home after her marriage failed, and Marguerite raised her nephew who was born out of wedlock. These things did not prevent Marguerite for loving her siblings. At the age of 35, she developed intestinal cancer. Through the intercession of Our Lady, Marguerite prayed that she might be cured and instead experience the sufferings of Christ in a profound way. On December 8, 1854, the day Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Immaculate Conception dogma, she was miraculously cured. However, every Friday she experienced some time of suffering related to the Passion. Eventually, she developed stigmata on her hands, feet, and chest. On Friday, June 27, 1879, at 3pm, Marguerite Bays died.

Friday, November 29, 2019

New Saint Highlight

On October 13, 2019, in St. Peter’s Square, at a Mass with over 50,000 attendees, Pope Francis declared Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, Cardinal John Henry Newman, Margurite Bays, and Giuseppina Vannini saints.

Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes

Born: May 26, 1914
Died: March 13, 1992

Life: Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes was born in 1914 in Salvador de Bahia as Maria Rita. At the age of 13, Maria felt called to serve the poorest of the poor. After high school, she joined the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. Once she made her vows, Maria took on the religious name Sister Dulce. Compelled to care for the poor and vulnerable, Sister Dulce founded the Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce in 1959. In 1988 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her selfless work.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day

Most of us know the story.
It was the autumn of 1621. In Plymouth, Massachusetts, after a rich harvest, the men, women and children who had survived the first year in the New World gathered for a feast to offer thanks.

One of the pilgrims wrote at the time: “By the goodness of God, we are so far from want.”

What was it like? I did a little Googling and found that the menu for that first Thanksgiving had some surprises. It was not necessarily turkey and pumpkin pie. Historians think they probably ate fowl and venison – or deer. The pilgrims didn’t have forks, but used spoons. More likely, they ate with their hands. And the food was probably a lot more fatty than we are used to. Cholesterol was unheard of. They were more worried about plague and the pox.

They didn’t have much sugar, so sweets and deserts were probably not on the menu. So, you can forget the pumpkin pie.

Whatever it may have involved, that meal left us with an enduring tradition: a gathering around a table, giving thanks for surviving in an uncertain and difficult new place.

But a few years ago, the Unitarian minister Peter Fleck suggested we look at this differently.

Maybe, he wrote, the pilgrims weren’t thankful because they had survived.

But maybe they had survived…because they were thankful.

These were people who lived their lives in wonder and hope, grateful for everything: the hard winds and deep snows…the frightening evenings and hopeful mornings …the long journey that had taken them to a new place. They knew how to express gratitude.

Gratitude doesn’t always come easily. We all know that generosity – the giving of a gift – means thinking more about others than about yourself. It represents an act of love. But so does being thankful. To give thanks is to extend yourself. It is to remember where the gift came from.

It is to go out of your way to acknowledge that — like the one cured leper in the gospel, who changed the direction he was headed, and walked back to Jesus, all the way back from the temple, to thank him.

There is love in that. A love for the gift – and for the one who gave it.

Reverend Fleck suggested that maybe that is what enabled the pilgrims to thrive and prosper: a humble appreciation for whatever God gave them, trusting that He would give them what they would need. It’s an optimistic message, really — and gratitude, I think, carries a spirit of optimism. Maybe that spirit can teach us something, as we endure our own hard winds and deep snows – the storms of our own lives. Especially now.

Thanksgiving will be a time for family, and for celebration.

But I know it won’t be that way for everyone.

Thanksgiving isn’t about giving thanks for having a lot. It’s about giving thanks for just having. For being. For knowing that whatever we have, whether it is served on a china plate or a Styrofoam carton, it is all a gift. The prayers whispered over a Happy Meal are just as precious to God as the ones said over the turkey and stuffing.

And all of us, no matter where we find ourselves praying, will be bound together by one simple word: grace. At a few McDonald’s this Thanksgiving, I’m sure that grace will be said.

And, I am just as sure of this: that grace will be present.

The grace of gratitude. The grace of thanking God for whatever gift He gives. And in the giving, and in the receiving, and in the thanking, there is something that transcends time and place.

There is love.

Love for what we have, and love for what we have been given. And love for the God who gives it. Because no matter how fierce the winds, or how unforgiving the storm, at least on this day we all remember that God is near.

The pilgrims knew that. And so did the Samaritan. He lived a life of disfigurement and shame. But he trusted, and he listened, and he was healed — changed forever, made new.

He could have gone on his way. But he didn’t. He couldn’t. He had to thank The One who made his miracle possible.

Twenty centuries later, that anonymous figure left us a legacy, and a lesson: a beautiful example of what it means to have an “attitude of gratitude.”

It is an attitude we all need to nurture — not just today, but every day. Gratitude can open our hearts – and change our lives – if only we let it.

Or, as Reverend Fleck so beautifully put it: maybe the pilgrims weren’t thankful because they survived.


Maybe they survived…because they were thankful.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Miraculous Medal

November 27 marks the feast of the Miraculous Medal, also known as the medal of the Immaculate Conception. Though the feast honors the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it also commemorates the anniversary of the apparition of the Mother of God to St. Catherine Laboure in Paris in 1830. Our Lady showed St. Catherine the medal she wished to be made for those to wear seeking her aid and protection. The Blessed Virgin spoke to Catherine: “Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck.” Countless miracles followed, hence the name, the Miraculous Medal. 

"O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."

In 12 days the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On the 10th, the feast of Our Lady of Loreto. On the 12th, Our Lady of Guadalupe.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

New Saint Highlight

On October 13, 2019, in St. Peter’s Square, at a Mass with over 50,000 attendees, Pope Francis declared Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, Cardinal John Henry Newman, Margurite Bays, and Giuseppina Vannini saints.


Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan

Born: April 26, 1876
Died: June 8, 1926
Life: Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan was an Indian mystic who cared for the poor, the sick, and lepers. Born as Thresia Mankidiyan in Kerala, India, her parents named her after St. Teresa of Avila. From a young age, Thresia had a deep and profound love for God. In 1904, Thresia had a vision in which the Blessed Virgin Mary told her to add Mariam to her name. From that point forward, she referred to herself as Mariam Thresia. In 1909, at the age of 33, Mariam Thresia received the stigmata. The Stigmata is marks, pains, or wounds in locations that match the locations of the wounds of Christ (hands, wrists, feet, side). In 1913, Mariam Thresia founded the Congregation of the Holy Family. Here, she and three companions devoted their lives to prayer, penance, and service to poor families.