Sunday, May 31, 2020

Happy Birthday!

On Pentecost Sunday at St. John Cantius(Chicag), a beautiful ancient custom takes place at the end of Mass that dates back at least to the 5th century.

In Rome, rose petals would be dropped through the the circular “oculus” at the Pantheon (now a minor basilica called “Sancta Maria ad martyrs”). The petals would fall to the crowd below reminiscent of the coming of the Holy Spirit like tongues of flame.

This beautiful custom takes place at the end of the Masses on Pentecost Sunday at St. John Cantius Church. Rose petals are dropped through the circular opening of the transept of the church during the recessional hymn, “Come Holy Ghost.” Some are surprised while others wait expectantly for the rose petals to fall.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Bro. Raymond M. Kane, S.M. - RIP

Society of Mary 
The Province of the USA recommends to our fraternal prayers our dear brother, Raymond Michael KANE, of the Chaminade-Mineola Community, Mineola, New York, USA, who died in the service of the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 27, 2020 in Little Neck, New York, USA, at the age of 81 with 62 years of religious profession.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Maryknoll Father Vincent R. Capodanno

Maryknoll Father Vincent R. Capodanno, a Navy chaplain who was killed while serving with the Marines in Vietnam, is pictured in an undated photo. (CNS file photo)

Labor Day, September 4, 1967, in the United States was just like so many other Labor Days before: the last day before the start of school, a federal holiday, banks and stores closed, and people preparing to join friends and family for backyard barbecues.
But some 8,000 miles away in South Vietnam it marked the start of an epic 11 day battle known as Operation SWIFT. Today it is primarily remembered by military history buffs, as well as those who honor the memory of a Navy chaplain who lost his life after 30 minutes of battle, Fr. Vincent Capodanno, MM.

But what Father did during those 30 minutes not only earned him the Medal of Honor, it has propelled his beatification cause.

From Staten Island to South Vietnam

Born February 13, 1929, Capodanno grew up on Staten Island, New York, the youngest of nine children born to a Brooklyn-born mother of Italian ancestry and a father who immigrated to New York from Gaeta, Italy. According to his last surviving sister Gloria Holman, the home was a happy one, and “Vin” or “Junior” “was serious, his personality, more so than not, you know?”

His cousin Al Lambert remembers Junior, like his mother, had a fantastic sense of humor, and when he laughed, his whole body shook. He also says he was very fastidious.

Capodanno heard his calling to the priesthood at age 18 and entered the Maryknoll Missionary Seminary at 20. On June 14, 1958, he received holy orders at the hands of New York’s Francis Cardinal Spellman.

His superiors first posted him among the aboriginal tribesman in Taiwan’s mountains. Then they stationed him at the order’s school in Hong Kong. The new assignment did not thrill him, but he went without protest.

By this time the Vietnam War had begun, and so Capodanno asked for and received permission to enter the Navy chaplaincy corps.

He received his commission as a chaplain on December 28, 1965, and was attached to the 1/7 (1st Battalion, 7th Marines) in April 1966.

Lt. RJ Marnell remembers, “Fr. Capodanno was … told several times it was not his job to go on patrols, fire sweeps, etc. Yet you had to watch him like a hawk as it was not uncommon to see a group of Marines running to get on a helicopter to go into battle, and all of a sudden this figure comes out of nowhere, no rifle, just his priest gear, and jumping in the helicopter before anybody could catch him. He wanted to be with his Marines and didn’t feel his job was simply to say Mass on Sundays.”

Eight months after his arrival, he transferred to the 1st Medical Battalion at the Marines’ hospital in Da Nang. Toward the end of his first tour of 11 months, he applied for and was granted a second. In August 1967, his superiors attached him to Mike Company of the 3/5. (Each Company is known by a letter of the alphabet and is called not “A” Company, for instance, but Alpha Company, Bravo Company, Charlie Company, etc.)

Thus Father had only been with his new unit about three weeks when the fateful battle started. Knowing his second tour was drawing to a close, “He voluntarily extended here for another six months. He was just refused another extension and was due to go home in November.”1

Former Lance Corporal Steve Lovejoy recalls, “Over the years I always believed Fr. Capodanno had spent at least three months with Mike Co., if not longer. In actuality, it was no more than four weeks!! He had that kind of impact. He treated us as if he was one of us, and that is how we related to him. Of course we had respect and understood his position, but the men accepted him as one of their own.”

Retired Col. Joaquin Gracida, then a staff officer with 3/5, relates, “One day while having our afternoon meal, one of the Lieutenants rushed into the tent, and when he reached our table said, ‘What kind of @#$% soup do we have today?’

The others seated there knew that Chaplain Capodanno was sitting at our table so we all, without saying a word, sat up straight and looked in the direction of Fr. Capodanno. Father, without missing a beat continued eating his meal, then looked at the rest of us and said, ‘If that’s the kind of soup he wants, let him have it.’”

‘Fear not: God is with us all this day.’

Talk with anyone who knew him in the service, and they will describe how his eyes would pull someone in.
Additionally, George Phillips of 1st Platoon says he “had an innate ability to know when Marines needed to talk about something. And he would sit and wait in silence until the Marine was ready to talk [and] never move on until he saw the Marine had received some comfort…. But when you … were talking with him, it was like the two of you were in a cocoon. And nothing else was going on around you. You know, rockets, bullets, whatever, guys walking by. He kept his attention focused on one person at a time. Five or six guys sitting around, talking, and he joins them. He’d listen intently to the guy who’s talking, but ignore the other four. And when you were one-on-one with him, it was almost a mystical experience.”

One Marine recalled, “Sometimes he would just put his hand on your shoulder, and he’d make you feel great.”

Father simply put himself where he knew others would be. He would relax with other officers smoking his Camel cigarettes and, when allowed this, drinking the ration of two cans of beer. He would walk around where the enlisted men billeted. He got friends back home to send him candy, cigarettes, and St. Christopher medals, and retired Col. Joaquin Gracida says he would stuff his pockets full of these for the men.

Sometimes he would sit somewhere in the open, pull out his rosary, and start praying. Guys would sort of just gravitate toward him and join in. His Masses and prayers services were well attended (he “had no problems drawing a crowd on short notice,” says Col. Hill), and his sermons were concise but meaty, “on target,” and “comforting to Marines of any faith or … no faith at all.”

Phillips says Capodanno repeated one such message over and over: “‘Fear not: God is with us all this day.’”

September 3 was Election Day in South Vietnam. Because over 80 percent of South Vietnam’s electorate opposed the communists and voted against so-called “peace candidates,” the Viet Cong (guerillas with little or no training) and the NVA (aka, PAVN, North Vietnamese regulars, who were well trained and respected by the Americans) would attempt to disrupt voting.

As such GIs and their South Vietnamese allies would guard polling stations around the country.

Around 4:30 a.m., Delta’s perimeter came under heavy attack by the NVA 2nd Division. The communists had between 2,500-6,500 soldiers in the area. To aid Delta, the regimental commander sent in Bravo Company, but soon both outfits were pinned down under heavy fire in separate areas. By 8:30 a.m., with 29 Marines dead, Delta was under threat of being overrun.

At 9:37 a.m., the 5th Marine Regiment ordered the 3/5 to aid Bravo and Delta. Though he had only Kilo and Mike Companies available, battalion commander Lt. Col. C.B. Webster told the Company commanders to prepare for a helicopter lift to the area of Dong Son.


While there is some disagreement about this, some assert Capodanno actually had permission to join the Marines in combat this day. Regardless, he hopped onto a helo with Mike’s 3rd Platoon, and the helicopters left between 11:30 a.m. and noon.

The ride took roughly 30 minutes. Upon arrival, the helicopter pilot told Mike’s commander JD Murray the original LZ near Bravo and Delta was “too hot,” meaning there was too much enemy fire to risk a landing. The alternate LZ was to have been the one used by Kilo, about 1,000 meters away from the original landing site, but that, too, was unsafe. So the helicopters ultimately discharged Mike at an LZ in some dried up rice paddies roughly 2,500 meters away from Bravo and Delta.

The day was hot, humid, and clear as Murray prepared his men to head out in a wedge formation. In other words, 1st Platoon would lead the way in a spaced out, single file line, 2nd Platoon would fall into the same configuration some distance back on the right side, and the 3rd Platoon would be even further back holding the left.

The march through lightly wooded terrain was relatively peaceful. Then just before they entered an expanse of dry rice paddies, 1st Platoon’s Lt. Ed Combs later recounted that a little after 2:30, Bill Vandegriff, squad leader for the 1st Squad, shouted to him that a tree “in the tree line just got up and moved.” Combs “told him if it moved again to shoot the son of a b—-.”

The tree moved, and Vandegriff shot.

Then proverbial hell broke loose. Combs says, “When he fired his rifle, it was like the 4th of July coming in on us. The NVA opened up on us with everything they had, machine guns, small arms, mortars and rockets.” Unbeknownst to the Marines, five NVA battalions had been lying in ambush for them, each battalion holding 400-600 men. Every witness agrees: Had Vandegriff not shot when he did, the NVA would have slaughtered the Americans as they entered the rice paddies.

Murray sent 2nd Platoon to aid 1st Platoon.

Just before the battle commenced, 2nd had passed some deep holes resembling bomb craters on their way over the top of a small knoll. As soon as the Marines came over the hill, they came upon another group of entrenched North Vietnamese soldiers who were hidden in a bamboo tree line. These PAVN dropped one mortar on the Marines, causing them to pause. As they got moving again, more mortars dropped on them.

The 2nd had trouble reaching 1st because this is when the NVA opened up on them. A book about SWIFT, Road of 10,000 Pains, says the heavily camouflaged enemy came at the Marines “in a flood, like water from a burst dam.” Lovejoy describes it like the sound of Niagara Falls. Another 2nd Platoon soldier Fred Tancke recalls, “There was such thunderous, thunderous fire from that north tree line.” Marine John Lobur remembers, “There were so many bullets in the air, you could trim your fingernails just by sticking your hands up.”

Lovejoy was pinned down with Lance Cpl. Al Santos of Fall River, Mass., to whom he gave his M16 because Santos’ had jammed. Then after firing one round, Lovejoy’s weapon jammed, as well. Indeed, according to Lovejoy, “JD Murray attributes 50 percent of our casualties to the fact that our M16s failed. We probably had 40 if not 60 percent failure that day.”

By this time, at most ten minutes had elapsed. Sgt. Larry Peters yelled for everyone to take cover back over the top of the hill. Tancke recalls that, “The Marines on the line quickly began to pull back and pivot back up the hill from the north to the south.”3

Lovejoy, a radio operator, was trying to stay low out of the line of fire and lug his heavy equipment up the knoll with him at the same time. Lovejoy says “rounds were flying everywhere.”

Braving fire, blessing the fallen

All of a sudden, out of nowhere appeared Fr. Capodanno. He dragged Lovejoy to safety in a bomb crater. In addition to having saved Lovejoy, Father braved enemy fire to do the same with Sgt. Howard Manfra of Philadelphia. Tancke recalls being aware of Capodanno rushing around the battlefield exposing himself to unrelenting enemy fire to bless and comfort the fallen.

“I remember the cool look about him,” recalls the Lovejoy, “as though he was saying, ‘Do not worry, all will be OK.’ We had dropped some [tear] gas on the enemy, but it drifted over our position. I offered him my gas mask as I was down in a bomb crater and was not affected. He said, ‘No, you need it more than I do.’ We nodded to each other, and he left.”

Suddenly an enemy machine gunner appeared to the northwest and opened fire where Corpsman Armando Leal of San Antonio had gotten near Tancke. Like Father, Leal had been heroically going giving aid to the wounded. As he approached Tancke, who was kneeling down and firing at “enemy soldiers in the rice paddy,”4 a bullet went through his leg, cutting his femoral artery. Tancke attempted to drag Leal up the knoll and into a crater, putting one finger in the wound to staunch the bleeding, and trying to fire at the enemy with the other.

Meanwhile a Huey gunship appeared above the fracas, the pilot firing rockets into the tree line and the gunner unloading bullets on the enemy with his machine gun until the ammunition ran out

As Tancke struggled with Leal, Lance Cpl. Steve Cornell came down the knoll, stood over the pair and asked “if I needed help… I told him to get down.”5 That was when a bullet pierced Cornell’s chest. Another Marine was also shot nearby. As they were pulled back over the knoll, Fr. Capodanno rushed to give them last rites.

At that moment, Tancke says, “a loud almost thunderous barrage of small arms fire came from the north tree line.”6 Around this time, he and Leal neared the knoll’s crest.

Fifteen to twenty feet away, Tancke saw an NVA machine gunner grinning madly. The Marine momentarily left Leal, crawled a few feet, and aimed his rifle at the man. Click! His M16 double fed, causing it to jam, and he couldn’t clear the chamber. Tancke then reached for a grenade but couldn’t liberate it from his pouch because of his injured right hand. The Vietnamese soldier had a clear shot at Tancke but for some reason didn’t shoot. Tancke saw the Corpsman had bled out and died, however. Tanke turned to the east, took three or four steps, and then the gunner unloaded on Tancke, who quickly jumped into the shelter of a hole.

To the gunner’s west was the Platoon’s other Corpsman, David Phelps of Williamstown, NY, his body slumped over a Marine’s. He had jumped out of a crater to aid his comrade and received a mortal wound to the head.

Father Capodanno’s heroic death

Roughly 30 minutes into the battle, Tancke saw something out of his eye. Coming from his rear (the south) but heading to the west and then stopping to look north before heading in that direction was Fr. Capodanno. Tancke says he yelled at Father, “Watch out for the gunner!” and as Capodanno made his way north, presumably to aid a downed Marine, Tancke heard the machine gun’s loud BRAP! He estimates four to seven bullets pierced Father from the head down to his torso. The Padre fell where he was hit, and Tancke, who was at most six feet away, says he saw no signs of life in the fallen hero. Not long after this, a Marine crawled toward the machine gunner and took him out.

Several rumors surround Father’s death. One says he died of 27 bullet wounds. Another claims those wounds came from .50 caliber bullets. A normal machine gun bullet (e.g., a .30 cal) is about the size of a cigarette and will do significant damage. A .50 cal is about the size of a decent cigar. It can punch a hole through a railroad tie. If someone died from being shot 27 times with a .50 cal, not much of them would be left, yet Father’s body was recovered intact.

What Tancke believes happened is this.

After several hours, there was a lull. At some point 2nd Platoon Sergeant James Marbury spoke of not seeing the enemy and wondered where they were.

“Just then an NVA soldier popped his head up behind the bush where Fr. Capodanno lay dead (6 to 8 feet away). My rifle was still jammed so I managed to get a grenade out of my pouch and with my left hand I lobbed it over the bush on top of the enemy soldier and Fr. Capodanno.”7

This killed the soldier, but it might also explain the 27 wounds—not bullet holes—that were discovered on Father postmortem.

In addition to Father and the two Corpsmen, 14 other Mike Company Marines perished that day. Of the 165-178 men who went into battle, only 63-68 were physically unscathed the next day. By its end on September 15, SWIFT resulted in 123 Americans killed, including 51 from Father’s battalion.

But whether Marines lived, were wounded, or died, by all accounts, Father’s presence was a comforting one.

Lance Cpl. Jim Carter of Kingsport, Tenn. almost cried when he heard Capodanno had died. Other men openly wept. Battalion chaplain Eli Takesian, who gave the eulogy following Father’s funeral Mass, recalled that upon hearing of Capodanno’s passing, “It was as if a shroud had covered us all.”

He added, “We used to joke that troops shot in the back were often running away. It certainly was not so with Chaplain Capodanno, a courageous man, whose sacrificial act truly emulated Jesus Christ.”8

“Somehow he just seemed to act the way a man of God should act,” said Ross Nutera, a 20-year-old corporal from Buffalo, NY. “I can’t believe he’s gone.”

“He saved my soul”

On the day of his death, Fr. Capodanno didn’t just save lives, he saved souls.

Critically wounded on the battlefield, Lt. Combs thought he would die. He asked George Phillips to baptize him. “Into the Catholic faith?” Yes, said Combs. “Of course Combs and Capodanno were friends.”

Byron Hill relates, “During my tour in Vietnam, I had been married for four years, but we did not have children. Father was curious about my family life, and we discussed having children. He once said to me, ‘When you get home, have babies. That is why God put you and your wife together.’

After returning home, he and his wife discussed in which church they would raise their daughter. That is when, having been “so inspired [by] Father Capodanno, that I realized I wanted to become Catholic.”

Fr. Capodanno’s chaplain’s assistant Henry Hernandez, Jr., recently said, “Not only did he save my life, but most important he saved my soul. He brought me back to the Church.”

Not only on the day he died but in all his time serving men in battle, Fr. Capodanno had an incredible ability to do the one thing that most of us could never do: Completely ignore the human person’s basic instinct for survival. He cared more about serving and saving others than he did about himself. In this he completely emulated Jesus Christ, Who taught us, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

This is why even if it takes 300 years for the Vatican to recognize Father’s sanctity, many believe there is no doubt that this icon of Our Lord and Savior is one of the saintliest men of modern times.

Today nine chapels and several streets and buildings are named after him. Several statues and memorials also stand in his honor.

In one of his last letter’s home, he wrote to an aunt, stating, “Aunt Annie, pray a lot yourself, because unless we pray, we really can’t be anything worthwhile at all.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Virtual Mini Retreat - Water in the Desert

Water in the Desert: A Virtual Mini-Retreat

Join the Marianists for "Water in the Desert," a virtual mini-retreat focusing on perseverance and grace in times of trial. The retreat will include Mass for Trinity Sunday, for those who wish.

Sunday, June 7, 2020
2:30 p.m. Zoom Room Opens for Catching Up and Hanging Out
3:00 p.m. Retreat begins
4:00 p.m. Break
4:15 p.m. Mass for Trinity Sunday

If you have five minutes or so, read this article before the retreat:

Think about these two questions in preparation for the retreat:
1. Can you think of a moment of trial when you have held on?
2. What has been water in the desert -- personal and spiritual refreshment -- for you

Here's the Zoom link for "Water in the Desert":

* Required

Pope Francis’s prayer to Mary during coronavirus pandemic

you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.

Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. 
Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, 
but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

Pope Francis recited by the prayer by video on March 11.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Give thanks, reverence and honor!

And to all soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice
we render due thanks, reverence and honor this Memorial Day of 2020

To fallen soldiers let us sing,
Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing,
Our broken brothers let us bring
To the Mansions of the Lord

No more weeping,
No more fight,
No prayers pleading through the night,
Just Divine embrace,
Eternal light,
In the Mansions of the Lord

Where no mothers cry
And no children weep,
We shall stand and guard
Though the angels sleep,
Oh, through the ages safely keep
The Mansions of the Lord

Monday, May 25, 2020

A Prayer for Memorial Day

A Prayer for Memorial Day
Remembering the men and women who have sacrificed for freedom.

God of power and mercy,
you destroy war and put down earthly pride.
Banish violence from our midst and wipe away our tears,
that we may all deserve to be called your sons and daughters.
Keep in your mercy those men and women
who have died in the cause of freedom
and bring them safely
into your kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this though Jesus Christ our Lord.

— from Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, via

Mary, Help of Christians


May 25: Mary, Help of Christians

Anniversary of the Foundation of the Marianist Sisters in 1816

The tradition of this advocation goes back to 1571, when the whole of Christendom was saved by Mary Help of Christians when Catholics throughout Europe prayed the Rosary. The great battle of Lepanto occurred on October 7th 1571. For this reason this date has been chosen as the feast of the Holy Rosary. In 1573 Pope Pius V instituted the feast in thanksgiving for the decisive victory of Christianity over Islamism.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Mary, House of Gold

Saint John Henry Newman explains the beautiful name House of Gold that Christian tradition has given to the Mother of God. 

She is compared to gold because it is the most precious metal. 

“Therefore it is that Mary too is called golden; because her graces, her virtues, her innocence, her purity, are of that transcendent brilliancy and dazzling perfection.” 

But she is more than this; she is a House of Gold or Golden Palace because 

“She is the house and the palace of the Great King, of God Himself.” 

Jesus was born in this holy house; he took his flesh and blood from this house.

Holy Mary, Domus Aurea, we venerate you as Mother of Jesus, Our Lord and King. 
You now stand next to the King arrayed in Gold and we wish to be your servants.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Mary, Ark of the Covenant

Mary as the New Ark of the Covenan

The early church understood Mary to represent the new Ark of the Covenant. Like the Ark, Mary is a created thing that was capable of containing our uncontainable God. 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

RIP - Fr. Ernest P. Lorfanfant

The Province of Meribah recommends to your prayers our dear brother, Fr. Ernest Peter LORFANFANT, of the Chaminade-Mineola Community, Mineola, New York, USA, who died in the service of the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 19, 2020 in Rockville Centre, New York, USA, at the age of 82 with 63 years of religious profession.

May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Mary, Tower of Ivory

“There is never a crack in the ivory tower
Or a hinge to groan in the house of gold
Or a leaf of the rose in the wind to wither
And she grows young as the world grows old.
A Woman clothed with the sun returning
to clothe the sun when the sun is cold

~G.K. Chesterton, excerpt from The Towers of Time*

Saint Cardinal Newman makes this point: 

“It is expressly noted of her that she stood by the Cross. She did not grovel in the dust, but stood upright to receive the blows, the stabs, which the long Passion of her Son inflicted upon her every moment.”

This expresses, with Scriptural back up, that Our Lady stood at the Cross. I have seen art that depicts Our Lady as kneeling at the Crucifixion. Such depictions are simply wrong, and (attempt to) destroy the idea of her, which Catholics have long held, as the Tower of Ivory. However, the truth prevails: our Mother is the Tower of Ivory, and she stood at the Cross.

She was, and is, noble in all of her actions.

Mary, Tower of Ivory, pray for us!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Mary, Tower of David

The Tower of David is symbolic of Mary. 

The Tower of David is a symbol of Victory.

She is victorious in giving refuge to the sick and the afflicted. 

She is victorious in defending her Church against evil oppressors.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Rosa Mystica

The Virgin Mary is referred to by many poetic titles in Christian tradition. Rosa Mystica or Mystical Rose is one such title of Mary. One form of Marian devotion is invoking Mary's prayers by calling upon her using a litany of diverse titles, and the title 'Mystical Rose' is found in the Litany of Loreto.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Mary, Gate of Heaven

St. Mary Gate of Heaven Roman Catholic Church - Home | Facebook

Saint John Henry Newman tells us that the title Gate of Heaven is given to Mary because “it was through her that our Lord passed from heaven to earth.”

The title alludes to a prophesy of Mary by Ezekiel: “the gate shall be closed it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it.”

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Mary, Queen of Apostles

As Marianists we remember Mary as Queen of Apostles. While private vows were made in 1817. On this day in 1818 the first Marianists, Brothers and priests, publically professed vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience.

Blessed Chaminade wrote, "Among the many congregations that sprang into existence in succeeding ages and in various parts of the world, some were called to one particular form of work, some to another. And last of all, we believe that we too have been called by Mary herself, to assist her with all our might in the struggle against the great heresy of our times. To this end, we have taken for our mottos, as declared our Constitutions, these words of the Blessed Virgin to the attendant at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). We are convinced that our particular mission, despite our weakness, is to perform all the works of zeal and of mercy for the welfare of our neighbor. It is for this reason that, under the general title of teaching Christian morals, we employ all the means at our disposal for preserving our neighbors from the contagion of evil, and of restoring those who have fallen under its sway."

Friday, May 15, 2020

Our Lady of Lourdes

France-002009 - Our Lady of Lourdes (15774765182).jpg

Our Lady of Lourdes

“…I came back towards the grotto and started taking off my stockings. I had hardly taken off the first stocking when I heard a sound like a gust of wind. Then I turned my head towards the meadow. I saw the trees quite still: I went on taking off my stockings. I heard the same sound again. As I raised my head to look at the grotto, I saw a lady dressed in white, wearing a white dress, a blue girdle and a yellow rose on each foot, the same color as the chain of her rosary; the beads of the rosary were white....From the niche, or rather the dark alcove behind it, came a dazzling light…”

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Our Lady of Knock

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock, usually named only as the Knock Shrine, is a Roman Catholic pilgrimage site and National Shrine in the village of Knock, County Mayo, Ireland, where observers stated that there was an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saint John the Evangelist, angels, and Jesus Christ in 1879.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Our Lady of Fatima

Let’s ask God, through Mary’s intercession, for peace in the world, the end of the pandemic, a spirit of penance and our conversion…

On this Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis made this appeal toward the conclusion of his General Audience, this Wednesday, May 13th, 2020, in his papal library, in the midst of the pandemic of coronavirus worldwide, as he focused today’s catechesis on essential characteristics of prayer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Mary Mediatrix of all graces

May 12: Mary, Mother of Grace

Pius IX approves of the Society of Mary 1865

Mary Mediatrix of all graces, Mother of God. Mary is the Virgin mother of Jesus Christ and the wife of St Joseph. She is the Mother of God (Theotokos) and the Mother of all Human Race. Virginity and Motherhood, two contrary qualities are united in her by God in His Omnipotence and love.

Monday, May 11, 2020



O most gracious Virgin Mary of Guadalupe,
that in your heavenly apparitions
on the mount of Tepeyac ,
you did promise to show your compassion and pity towards all who, loving and trusting you,
seek your help and call upon you
 in their necessities and afflictions.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Our Lady of Silence

Our Lady of Silence
Two summers ago, Pope Francis hung a bright red sign on his home-office door that reads, “No Complaining Allowed.”

It was a reminder to guests at his residence of one of his favorite invitations: drop the “sourpuss” scowl and radiate the true joy that comes from being loved by God.

Even his more formal visitors get a similar, more subtle, message as they enter the apostolic palace where the pope receives bishops and heads of state and holds other important gatherings.

Near the elevators people take to reach the papal study or meeting halls, the pope hung a copy of the icon of Our Lady of Silence — an image of Mary with her index finger poised gently in front of her closed lips.

“Just think how many Marian icons he gets (as gifts) and he decides to put this one there” as well as a smaller copy of one on his desk, said Capuchin Father Emiliano Antenucci, who commissioned the icon and gave a copy to the pope. The preferential treatment, the priest told Catholic News Service, shows the pope’s deep understanding of the importance of holy and humble silence.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Mary, Mater Ecclesiae

Holy Mary, full of God’s presence during the day of your life, 
you accepted with full humility the Father’s will, 
and the devil was never capable of tying you up with his confusion. 
Once with your Son you interceded for our difficulties, 
and full of kindness and patience, 
you gave us example of how to untie the knots in our life. 

By remaining forever Our Mother,
 you put in order and make more clear the ties that link us to the Lord. 
Holy Mother, Mother of God and our Mother, 
to you who untie with a motherly heart the knots of our life, 
we pray to you to receive in your hands (the name of the person), 
and to free him/her of the knots and confusion with which our enemy attacks. 

Through your grace, your intercession and your example deliver us from all evil, 
Our Lady, and untie the knots that prevent us from being united with God, so that we, 
free from sin and error, may find Him in all things, 
may have our hearts placed in Him, 
and may serve Him always in our brothers and sisters. Amen.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Mary, Mother of the Savior

God the Father gave his only Son to the world only through Mary.

Whatever desires the patriarchs may have cherished, whatever entreaties the prophets and saints of the Old Law may have had for 4,000 years to obtain that treasure, it was Mary alone who merited it and found grace before God by the power of her prayers and the perfection of her virtues.

"The world being unworthy," said Saint Augustine, "to receive the Son of God directly from the hands of the Father, He gave His Son to Mary for the world to receive Him from her."

The Son of God became man for our salvation but only in Mary and through Mary.

God the Holy Spirit formed Jesus Christ in Mary but only after having asked her consent through one of the chief ministers of His court.

St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Mary, Our Lady of Good Counsel

Image result for our lady of good counsel chaminade high school mineola
“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.

In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.

Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.

Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.

Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.

Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.

Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.

Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.

Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.

Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.

To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Mary, Sweet Kissing

O Mary,

You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.

“Protectress of the Roman people”,
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.

Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection.  Amen.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Marianist Monday

May 2020

My dear graduates of Chaminade, Kellenberg Memorial, and St. Martin de Porres Marianist School,

I’m not much of an athlete. As a kid, I played little-league baseball, CYO basketball, summer softball, and I even captained a winter indoor-floor-hockey team one year. I dabbled in golf while I was a caddy in high school, and I’ve been known to tear up the course in mini-golf. I learned how to ski and swim at a young age and have always enjoyed fishing, canoeing, and even waterskiing. Sadly, however, even after a deep dive into my memory, I can’t remember ​ever​ winning a championship in ​any​ sport. I’ve never been part of a team that won it all!

But I certainly have cheered for a few championship teams, like the Mets in 1986 or the Giants in 2011. When a team wins a championship like the World Series or the Super Bowl, the celebration is huge and long-lasting. We don’t just pump our fist once in the air, say quietly, “We won!” and then head for the parking lot. No! Non-stop jumping, shouting, and hugging ensue as fireworks and music fill the air. Then come trophies, Gatorade dunks, speeches, champagne, and raucous “We are #1!” chants. Next, there are television appearances and a ticker-tape parade, followed by advertising offers, commercials, branded products that saturate the market, and invites to speak at all kinds of events. In short, everyone wants to keep the moment and the memory alive: “We won, and we’re not gonna let anyone forget it!”

On the cover of the May issue of ​Magnificat ​that accompanies this letter, we see the Risen Jesus as He ascends into Heaven, carrying a staff with a white pennant emblazoned with a red cross. That’s a Resurrection victory banner, not unlike a trophy or championship ring. The artist is proclaiming:

“Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! He is victorious over death! He won! We won!”

Now, I’m not saying that Christ’s Resurrection victory is equivalent to a sports championship. NO! Christ’s Resurrection is a divine victory played out on the field of humanity that has supernatural and infinite consequences. Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection make it possible for us to break the bonds of human sin and death and share in Christ’s bodily Resurrection so that we may one day be joined with the Father in Heaven.

We can see the epic importance of the Resurrection in our liturgy. During the penitential season of Lent, we stopped saying “Alleluia” and didn’t recite the ​Gloria ​during Mass. The only color we saw in church was purple, as flowers and decorations had mostly been removed. But beginning with the first proclamation of the Resurrection victory during the Easter Vigil, the Church goes crazy with joy: Candles are lit as all the lights are turned on. Bells and choruses of Alleluias ring out at full blast. Tulips, daffodils, and Easter banners brighten churches with a blaze of color. The celebration continues throughout the Octave, where each day is like another Easter. In fact, the Easter Season actually lasts for fifty days—until Pentecost on May 31—as the readings, white vestments, and Alleluias keep proclaiming the glorious victory of Christ’s Resurrection. Moreover, every Sunday throughout the year is meant to be a mini-Easter that keeps the victory celebration going.

Okay, I hear you. Much of what I just described didn’t happen that way in most of the world this year. It’s been tough to truly celebrate Easter this year. Things just didn’t feel very victorious, as we were unable to actually attend Mass or share Easter dinner with our extended family like usual. I propose two lessons that might help us understand and celebrate Easter 2020.

First, no victory—not even Christ’s victorious Resurrection—makes all pain and suffering go away. After the Mets won in ’86 or the Giants in ’11, all the injured players on their teams were still hurting. All the fans that had problems before the game still had them after the game. Yes, their victories may have brought great pleasure and even fame and financial benefits for some, but they didn’t remove all evil from the world. And Christ’s Resurrection doesn’t do that either, at least not in the short term. Just think, for example, of the Apostles: most of them died a martyr’s death, defending their belief in the Resurrection! Indeed, Christ’s victory doesn’t promise freedom from suffering. By becoming one of us, suffering and dying for us, and then rising again to new life, Christ makes it possible for us to unite our lives to His—suffering and death included—so that we too might rise again with him. Hardship and loss can lead to transformation and hope in light of the triumph of Christ’s Resurrection. As the Opening Prayer for Easter Sunday puts it, He “conquered death and unlocked for us the path to eternity” that we might “rise up in the light of life.”

Second, in these most unusual times, I propose we make an effort to create, notice, and celebrate any and all Alleluia moments​. What’s an Alleluia moment? It’s any victory—big or small—that we are able to win as we try to live Christian lives amid the pandemic and its aftermath. An Alleluia moment might be staying awake through an online class or staying focused during a virtual Sunday Mass. It might be exercising patience with a family member whom we’ve never spent so much time with in the same house before. It might be saying “Alleluia” in thanksgiving for a good thing, like a phone call from a friend, an online family gathering, or an unexpected compliment. Finally, Alleluia moments could be times when we live the unavoidable challenges of these days in a meaningful way. As some might remember from reading Viktor Frankl, we are always free to choose our attitude toward suffering, and to bear our burdens responsibly, so that we don’t add to the suffering of others. Alleluia moments celebrate the acts and words of service and kindness we do for others or that are done for us.

Pope Francis’ ​Urbi et Orbi ​Message for Easter says all this beautifully. He gives a new and timely twist to the Easter Proclamation, “Jesus Christ is risen!”

This is a different “contagion,” a message transmitted from heart to heart – for every human heart awaits this Good News. It is the contagion of hope: “Christ, my hope, is risen!” This is no magic formula that makes problems vanish. No, the Resurrection of Christ is not that. Instead, it is the victory of love over the root of evil, a victory that does not “by-pass” suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good: this is the unique hallmark of the power of God.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Whether you were a three-season athlete who is still racking up athletic championships today, or, like me, are still dreaming of that first elusive victory, each of us can do our part to spread a “contagion of hope” right now. May Christ’s Resurrection victory fill our hearts with joy as we unite our sufferings to His, and—by His grace and power—fill the days ahead with a ticker-tape parade of Alleluia moments.

On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers, ​Fortes in Unitate​!

Fr. Peter Heiskell, S.M.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Good Shepherd Sunday

The image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is more accessible to our imaginations and emotions. Because of Jesus’ humanity, our human nature has been opened to new life beyond the limits of our earthly, physical existence. By incorporation into his life at baptism, our humanity is united to his humanity and we are enabled to share in his risen life and his divinity. Abundant life is life with God, begun in us here and now, unfolding and active. This is our Easter faith. This is the joy of the Gospel

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Good Shepherd - Catacombs of Saint Priscilla

The painter of the Good Shepherd in the Catacomb of Priscilla was familiar undoubtedly with Roman copies of Greek sculpture and also familiar with paintings of pastoral scenes in Roman homes. 

Notice the facial characteristics of Christ in this fresco. These characteristics are similar to figures seen in wall paintings of that time. Christ is beardless, without a halo, and not dressed in a long white robe as he is depicted in later works. 

And finally, in Christian art, halos had not come into use as a symbol at the time this was painted.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Good Shepherd - Catacombs of Domitilla, Rome

Our image here of the Good Shepherd stands in a garden, with one sheep over his shoulders, and four sheep around him. Two sheep are on his left, and two are on his right. The closest two sheep look up at him, but the two out sheep are turned away from him and peacefully graze on the grass in front of them. Even further away on each side are two predatory animals from which the Good Shepherd loving protects his sheep.