“We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend on material success; nor on sciences that cloud the intellect. Neither does it depend on arms and human industries, but on Jesus alone.”
Today, November 13, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917), the first United States citizen to be canonized. She founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for poor children in schools and hospitals, and at the urging of Pope Leo XIII, moved to the United States to work among immigrants. Through her care for those who were struggling, hard work, and obedience, Saint Frances is regarded today as the Patron Saint of all immigrants.
Frances’ parents were farmers, and her mother stayed at home each day with the children. In total, her parents produced eleven children, with Frances being the tenth. Sadly, only four of the Cabrini children survived their childhood. Despite numerous losses and tragedies in the family, both Frances’ mother and father were strong in the Catholic faith, and through their teaching and example, Frances came to love God. One of her favorite activities was listening to her father read the stories of missionaries from the Annals of the Propagation of the faith. More than anything, from and early age and throughout her life, Frances desired to travel to China as a missionary.
“You are called to establish another Institute that will bring new glory to the Heart of Jesus.”
In 1877, at the age of 27, Frances’ wish to take the veil was granted, and along with her five sisters, made her profession. In honor of Jesuit father Frances Xavier, Frances took the name Xavier, becoming Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini—as she would be known for the remainder of her life. Named superior of the community by her local bishop, she was encouraged to form a new religious institute. Along with the five sisters who took their vows with her, she founded the Institute of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1880. While some objected to the inclusion of the word “Missionaries” in the order’s name (as it implied overseas work, and the bishop intended that the sisters serve locally), Mother Cabrini was already thinking on a larger, grander scale. She had plans for her sisters to spread the Gospel beyond the borders of Lombardy.
“Not to the East, but to the West.” Disappointed, but not discouraged, Mother Cabrini and six of her sisters set out immediately for New York. Upon arrival, she was surprised to find that Archbishop Corrigan had not expected her so soon, and even more surprised when he suggested they return to Italy until he could prepare for her arrival. But Mother Cabrini answered, "Your excellency, the Pope sent me here and here I must stay." The archbishop admired her pioneer spirit, and so she and her sisters were permitted to begin their work. She and her companions spent the first night in a dingy tenement in the heart of the Italian ghetto. They could not sleep and stayed awake, tired, yet peacefully engaged in prayer.
From New York, the Missionary Sisters branched out throughout America, starting in New Orleans (school and orphanage), and continuing west. It became clear—both in New York and other areas—that the immigrants were not receiving the medical care that they needed in public hospitals. However, Mother Cabrini was not particularly inclined to undertake this ministry. It was not until she had a dream of Our Blessed Mother that she changed her mind.
"Mother Cabrini, that house you dreamed of is mine, I own it. I never thought of parting with it, but if I may be allowed to enter your Holy House for a moment and receive a glass of water in the name of Our Lord, your little orphans shall have their home with my blessing." When asked later how she had obtained such a beautiful property, Mother Cabrini would say "I paid for it with three treasures: my love, a dream, and a glass of water in His Name."
While until that point her focus had been solely on Italian immigrants, the Missionary Sisters began to see the needs of other immigrant groups, extending their work to Mexican immigrants in California. Despite her failing health, Mother Cabrini traveled across the country (and the world!), visiting each house, and personally establishing new locations. Her travels included: New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Louisiana, Colorado, California, Washington State, Central and South America and Europe.
“Inspired by the grace of god, we join the saints in honoring the holy virgin Frances Xavier Cabrini. She was a humble woman who became outstanding not because she was famous or rich or powerful, but because she lived a virtuous life. From the tender years of her youth, she kept her innocence as white as a lily and preserved it carefully with the thorns of penitence; as the years progressed, she was moved by a certain instinct and supernatural zeal to dedicate her whole life to the service and greater glory of God. She welcomed delinquent youths into safe homes, and taught them to live upright and holy lives. She consoled those who were in prison, and recalled to them the hope of eternal life. She encouraged prisoners to reform themselves, and to live honest lives. She comforted the sick and the infirm in the hospitals, and diligently cared for them. She extended a friendly and helping hand especially to immigrants, and offered them necessary shelter and relief, for having left their homeland behind, they were wandering about in a foreign land with no place to turn for help. Because of their condition, she saw that they were in danger of deserting the practice of Christian virtues and their Catholic faith. Undoubtedly she accomplished all this through the faith which was always so vibrant and alive in her heart; through the divine love which burned within her; and finally, through constant prayer by which she was so closely united with God from whom she humbly asked and obtained whatever her human weakness could not obtain. Although her constitution was very frail, her spirit was endowed with such singular strength that, knowing the will of God in her regard, she permitted nothing to impede her from accomplishing what seemed beyond her strength.”
God our Father,
you called Frances Xavier Cabrini from Italy
to serve the immigrants of America.
By her example teach us concern for the stranger,
the sick, and the frustrated.
By her prayers help us to see Christ
in all the men and women we meet
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Year 2: Day 317 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Obedience; Hope; Service; Strength.
Requested Intentions: Blessings on overseas employment (M); Healing of mother (L); Successful employment for husband (G); Successful employment, personal fulfillment (C); Health and recovery of ill sister (A); Resolution of legal issues; Grace and protection (E); Successful and meaningful employment (S); Restoration of a marriage (A); Peace and tolerance in a family, support for those with Parkinson’s Disease (M); For the restoration of a daughter’s marriage, end to debt (S); Employment and continued strength (K); Successful examinations for a son (J); Employment and blessings of a child (S); Employment and financial security (F); Successful work placement, continued health (A); Grace and healing for a family (P); Healing of a father (M); Academic success for son, employment for husband and brother (B); Freedom from anxiety and panic attacks (R); Health and healing in preparation for surgery (C); Healing of a chronic illness (P); Safety of a family during storms (A); Successful home ownership (P); Healing of a marriage (M); Employment for a husband, blessings for a marriage (E); Successful examinations for a daughter, healing of a relationships (V).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."