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."

April 30: Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo

Posted by Jacob

Today, April 30, the last day of April, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Joseph (Giovanni or Giuseppe) Benedict Cottolengo (1786-1842). Saint Joseph’s life is remarkable for his unfailing confidence in the Lord—a confidence and faith which allowed him at accomplish remarkable feats of charity for those in need.

Joseph was the eldest of 12 children, six of who later died in infancy or childhood. Born to a middle class family in Bra, Piedmont (near Turin, Italy), Joseph made his intentions of entering the priesthood known at age 12. Despite his frail health and academic difficulties in school, he was accepted into the seminary at Turin and ordained for the Diocese of Turin in 1811.

The first years of Saint Joseph’s priesthood were unremarkable, with the exception of his deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin. He set about his days, viewing the priesthood as an occupation, rather than a blessed calling. But that was about to change. One cold night, he was called to the bed of a traveler—an extremely poor, sick woman who was also in labor. This poor woman badly needed medical help, but had been turned away everywhere for lack of money. The hospital would not take her because she was pregnant, and the maternity ward would not take her because she was ill. Saint Joseph remained with her throughout the night, hearing her Confession, absolving her, giving her Holy Eucharist, and Last Rites. He baptized her newborn daughter, and stayed with the pair while they both died in bed.

Upon returning to the Church of the Corpus Domini, he paused in front of the statue of Our Holy Mother of Grace. In that moment, he received the inspiration to create a home open to everyone, whatever disease they might suffer from, without distinction of race or creed. Without thought of whether this inspiration would be financially or politically possible, Saint Joseph devoted his life to the mission. He first started a small home, which initially held only 4 beds, near the church. When the demand grew too great, he increased the size of the building, calling upon men and women to volunteer. As the “hospital” grew even larger, he called upon the Brothers of Saint Vincent and the Vincentian Sisters for assistance in nursing and volunteering.

During the great cholera outbreak of 1831, local authorities closed the house, believing it (and the poor it served) to be the cause of the outbreak. Saint Joseph did not despair. Rather, he moved the house outside the city, to Valdocco (a suburb of Turin), and began what is still known today as the Piccola Casa della Divina Provvidenza (the Small House of Divine Providence, original building, pictured right). The hospital grew and he expanded his activities to helping the aged, the deaf, blind, crippled, insane, and wayward girls until his Piccola Casa became a great medical institution. An entire “village” grew up around the institution, providing asylums, orphanages, hospitals, schools, workshops, chapels, almshouse, and programs to help the poor, sick, and needy of all types. Saint Joseph, completely reliant on the Lord, refused state aid, and relied entirely on alms. When the king insisted on providing aid, Saint Joseph continued to refuse, stating, “They are under the protection of Divine Providence; protection by the state is superfluous." He kept no records, and refused to go to sleep if there was money left in the institution. He would roam from room to room, opening drawers, and upon discovery of money, would immediately give it away to those in need. Each day began with no funds, and miraculously, operations continued to grow, with money to spare each evening. He was fond of saying, "we progress as long as we possess nothing. We decline when we live on endowments."

Saint Joseph’s confidence in the Lord did not lead him to complacency. He worked tirelessly in service to those in need, sleeping on a few hours a night (oftentimes on a chair or bench), and then returning to prayer, work, and service. Given his schedule, his already frail health was compromised, and he contracted cholera during the epidemic. While he recovered, he was sick throughout the remainder of his life. In 1842, sensing the end was near, Saint Joseph’s doctors encouraged him to visit his brother in Chieri. At the start of his journey, as they helped him into his carriage, one of the Sisters of Saint Vincent cried out in tears: “Father, you are sick; what will become of us?”

“Be at peace,” he answered with serene confidence. “When I am in heaven, where one can do everything, I will help you more than now I do. I will hold to the cloak of the Mother of God and keep my eyes fixed on you. Do not forget what I, a poor old man, say to you today!”

Saint Joseph Cottolengo died on April 30, 1842, in the home of his brother in Chieri. The final word of this great Saint was that of the Psalm: “I rejoiced when it was said unto me, Let us go unto the House of the Lord!” Today, the Piccola Casa still operates, serving over 8,000 needy and ill each day. Over 800 houses exist around the world (Ecuador, India, Italy, Kenya, Switzerland, Tanzania and United States) run by Cottolengo Fathers, Sisters, and Brothers, with their work focused on communicating God's love for the poorest.

The life of Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo serves as an important reminder to each of us—a reminder of the many souls in need throughout the world; and a greater reminder of the love, mercy, and provision of the Lord to those who have confidence in Him. What areas of our lives do we try to control? What problems do we try to solve ourselves, rather than turning them over to God? What more could we do for others were our faith and hope in the Lord a bit stronger? As we continue our meditation on the Psalms, we look not only to the life of Saint Joseph, but also to the encouraging words of Psalm 6: Prayer in time of distress.

O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world. Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help. Through us give hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, peace to the troubled, and rest to the weary, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Today’s Psalm: Psalm 6: Prayer in Time of Distress
1O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint;
O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.
3 My soul is in anguish.
How long, O LORD, how long?
4 Turn, O LORD, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
5 No one remembers you when he is dead.
Who praises you from the grave [b] ?
6 I am worn out from groaning;
all night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
8 Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the LORD has heard my weeping.
9 The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
the LORD accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed;
they will turn back in sudden disgrace. (Psalm 6:1-10)

Day 120 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Confidence in the Lord; Hearts of service to those in need
Requested Intentions: For financial security and housing for a son (B); For a friend undergoing a medical procedure (L); A father’s birthday (J); Restoration and healing of marriage, family, and financial situation (M); For the repose of the soul of M (J); Financial security and employment (A); For financial security (M); Health and recovery of Cardinal Sean Brady (R); Healing from a chronic illness (J); Deepening of faith and true conversion for a family (J); Successful employment (H); Restoration of a marriage (J); For a friend’s daughter, seeking medical treatment for a blood disorder (D); For the grace and conversion of a loved one (Z); For a beloved son’s return to the faith (A); For the improved health and recovery of a mother (G).

Psalm: Psalm 6: Prayer in Time of Distress

April 29: Saint Catherine of Siena

Posted by Jacob

Today, April 29, we celebrate the feast day of a truly holy woman, Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), virgin, mystic, and Doctor of the Church. A individual must fulfill three requirements to be deemed a Doctor of the Church: 1) holiness that is truly outstanding, even among saints; 2) depth of doctrinal insight; and 3) an extensive body of writings which the church can recommend as an expression of the authentic and life-giving Catholic Tradition. The life of Saint Catherine of Siena easily meets these criteria.

Saint Catherine was born the 23rd child of a poor wool dyer in Northern Italy. She was marked by the sign of holiness from a young age, clearly experiencing visions by the age of six in which she saw both her neighbors and their guardian angels simultaneously. That same year, at age 6, she was observed to fall into a religious ecstasy while reporting a vision of Christ, dressed as the pope, and the apostles. In her vision, Christ blessed her, anointing her with her earthly mission. As she aged, her intelligence and beauty grew, along with her piety. As she approached marrying age, her mother encouraged her to look for a spouse, but Catherine instead cut off her hair (to make herself less attractive) and committed herself to a life of prayer and meditation, consecrated a virgin bride of Christ. While her mother was distraught, her father encouraged her, setting aside a room of the family’s small home for Catherine to use in pursuit of her spiritual endeavors.

At age sixteen, Catherine took the habit of the Dominican Tertiaries (Third Order of Saint Dominic), where she continued to have ecstatic visions of Christ, Our Blessed Mother, and the saints. During these visions, she engaged in familiar conversations with Christ over three years, and underwent the mystical experience of “mystical espousal” to Christ.

Despite her lack of formal education, the writings of Saint Catherine are regarded as treasures of the Church, and her mind one of the most brilliant theological minds throughout the ages. She was a prolific writer, the most famous of her works being The Dialogue, which she dictated while experiencing her ecstatic visions and conversations with Christ. In this work, she expounds on the mysteries of the Church, the Creed, the sinfulness of man, and the divine mercy of the Lord.

Saint Catherine experienced visions of both heaven and hell while on earth. She worked tirelessly, through letters (over 400!) and counsel to church and world leaders—including Pope Gregory XI and various kings and queens of the time. Her goal was church reform, inspired by her visions of Christ, and her call to public service. Saint Catherine devoted her free time to the poor and ill, and the conversion of sinners. Five years prior to her death, Catherine was graced with the stigmata, although she kept this a secret due to her humility. Saint Catherine is said to have eaten very little during her life, with the exception of Holy Eucharist each day. She bore continuous stomach ailment and discomfort without complaint, uniting her suffering to that of Christ. Saint Catherine engaged in severe forms of mortification, wearing a metal shirt which cut into her hips, beating herself with a chain for her own sins (and those of others), sleeping on a wooden bench, and oftentimes refusing to speak. For Catherine, the greater her suffering, the greater the triumph of heaven!

During her lifetime, the Church experienced great turmoil, which Catherine sought to reconcile. She offered herself and her life as a victim for the Church in it’s agony. Saint Catherine died when she was only 33, and upon exhumation of her body over 100 years later, was found to be incorrupt. Her head and thumb, miraculously smuggled out of Rome during time of persecution (upon examination by guards, the bag in which her head was hidden was observed to be filled with rose petals, but upon moving past the guards, the roses disappeared and the holy face of Saint Catherine returned), were returned to Siena, where they remain incorrupt in the Basilica of San Domenico. Numerous miracles have been recorded through her intercession.

The life and inspiration of Saint Catherine of Siena can best be found in her words, preserved in over 400 letters written in her hand, numerous prayers, as well as in The Dialogue. Selected quotations are presented below. The words of Saint Catherine remind us of our faith, of our weakness and sinfulness, and of the unending love and mercy of the Lord. In her words, everything we do should begin in love—love for our neighbors, love for our Lord, love for ourselves. The Lord does nothing without love in mind, and Saint Catherine reminds us that neither should we!

Selected Writings of Saint Catherine of Siena

“So take a lesson from the true father and shepherd. For you see that now is the time to give your life for the little sheep who have left the flock. You must seek and win them back by using patience and war–by war I mean by raising the standard of the sweet blazing cross and setting out against the unbelievers. so you must sleep no longer, but wake up and raise that standard courageously. I am confident that by God’s measureless goodness you will win back the unbelievers and [at the same time] correct the wrongdoing of Christians, because everyone will come running to the fragrance of the cross, even those who have rebelled against you most.”

“No one should judge that he has greater perfection because he performs great penances and gives himself in excess to the staying of the body than he who does less, inasmuch as neither virtue nor merit consists therein; for otherwise he would be an evil case, who for some legitimate reason was unable to do actual penance. Merit consists in the virtue of love alone, flavored with the light of true discretion without which the soul is worth nothing."

"If not for my sins, the world would be a better place."

“You know that the devil is not cast out by the devil, but by virtue.”

"There is no perfect virtue-none that bears fruit- unless it is exercised by means of our neighbor."

“Charity is the sweet and holy bond which links the soul with its Creator: it binds God with man and man with God.”

“Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being. Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light, and causes me to know your truth. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love.”

“Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind.”

“And let the truth be your delight; let it always be in your mouth, and proclaim it when it is needed. Proclaim it lovingly and to everyone, especially those whom you love with a special love---but with a certain congeniality, putting the shortcomings of the other person on your own shoulders. If in the past you haven't done it as sensitively as you should, let's do better in the future.”

“I long to see you a productive tree planted in fertile soil and laden with sweet mellow fruit. For a tree uprooted from the soil (I mean the soil of true self-knowledge) would dry up and bear no fruit.”

“We lack nothing but virtue and hunger for the salvation of souls---but there is a remedy for this, father: that we do away with loving ourselves or anyone or anything else apart from God. Let us concentrate no longer on friends or relatives or on our own material needs, but only on virtue and the promotion of spiritual matters. For the only reason you are wanting for material things is your abandonment of concern for the spiritual.”

“Learn from the Master of truth, who preached virtue only after he had practiced it.... To this wonderful school, then, my children!... Open your ears, I tell you, to hear his teaching --- and it is this: voluntary poverty; patience in the face of injury; returning good to those who do us evil; being little, humble, oppressed and forsaken in the world; with ridicule, torment, wrongs, insults, detraction, gossip, difficulties, and harassment from the world.... No more indifference, then! No more sleeping in unawareness! No, with bold and blazing heart stretch your sweet loving desires to go and give honor to God and your best efforts to your neighbors, never losing sight of your objective, Christ crucified.”

"Love is the most necessary of all virtues. Love in the person who preaches the word of God is like fire in a musket. If a person were to throw a bullet with his hands, he would hardly make a dent in anything; but if the person takes the same bullet and ignites some gunpowder behind it, it can kill. It is much the same with the word of God. If it is spoken by someone who is filled with the fire of charity- the fire of love of God and neighbor- it will work wonders."

"Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind."

"Merit consists in the virtue of love alone, flavored with the light of true discretion without which the soul is worth nothing."

"Strange that so much suffering is caused because of the misunderstandings of God's true nature. God's heart is more gentle than the Virgin's first kiss upon the Christ. And God's forgiveness to all, to any thought or act, is more certain than our own being."

“When then, eternal Father, did you create this creature of yours?…You show me that you made us for one reason only: in your light you saw yourself compelled by the fire of your love to give us being in spite of the evil we would commit against you, eternal Father. It was fire, then, that compelled you. Oh, unutterable love, even though you saw all the evils your creatures would commit against your infinite goodness, you acted as if you did not see and set your eye on the beauty of your creature, with whom you had fallen in love like one drunk and crazy with love…You are the fire, nothing but a fire of love, crazy over what you have made.”

“My Lord, turn the eye of your mercy on your people and on your mystic body, holy Church. How much greater would be your glory if you would pardon so many and give them the light of knowledge! For then they would surely all praise you, when they see that your infinite goodness has saved them from deadly sin and eternal damnation. How much greater this than to have praise only from my wretched self....

So I beg you, divine eternal love, to take your revenge on me, and be merciful to your people. I will not leave your presence till I see that you have been merciful to them.”

Prayers Composed by Saint Catherine of Siena

Holy Spirit, come into my heart, by your power I journey to You, God, and grant me charity with fear. Protect me, o Christ, from every evil thought, warm me with Your sweet love, so that each burden seems light to me. My holy Father and my sweet Lord, help me always in all my endeavors, Christ love, Christ love. Amen.

Precious Blood,
Ocean of Divine Mercy:
Flow upon us!
Precious Blood,
Most pure Offering:
Procure us every Grace!
Precious Blood,
Hope and Refuge of sinners:
Atone for us!
Precious Blood,
Delight of holy souls:
Draw us! Amen.

Today’s Psalm: Psalm 5: Prayer for Divine Help

11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
12 For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5: 11-12)

Day 119 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Hearts of love for our neighbors, for the Lord, for ourselves.
Requested Intentions: For financial security and housing for a son (B); For a friend undergoing a medical procedure (L); A father’s birthday (J); Restoration and healing of marriage, family, and financial situation (M); For the repose of the soul of M (J); Financial security and employment (A); For financial security (M); Health and recovery of Cardinal Sean Brady (R); Healing from a chronic illness (J); Deepening of faith and true conversion for a family (J); Successful employment (H); Restoration of a marriage (J); For a friend’s daughter, seeking medical treatment for a blood disorder (D); For the grace and conversion of a loved one (Z); For a beloved son’s return to the faith (A); For the improved health and recovery of a mother (G).

Psalm: Psalm 5: Prayer for Divine Help

Saint Catherine of Siena: The Dialogue (excerpt)

Posted by Jacob

Saint Catherine of Siena experienced repeated visions of Christ throughout her life, and in these visions carried on a familiar conversation with Our Lord and Savior.  During her ecstatic vistions, she dictated a work known as "The Dialogue" in which she speaks with Christ about the Church, our Creed, sinfulness, and the mercy of God.  What follows is a brief excerpt from The Dialogue, Catherine of Siena’s recorded dialogue with the Lord, in which He speaks to her and says, “Do for your neighbor what you cannot do for me.”

I would have you know that every good, whether perfect or imperfect, is acquired and made manifest in me. And it is acquired and made manifest by means of your neighbor. Even simple folk know this, for they often love others with a spiritual love. If you have received my love sincerely without self-interest, you will drink your neighbor's love sincerely. It is just like a vessel that you fill at the fountain. If you take it out of the fountain to drink, the vessel is soon empty. But if you hold your vessel in the fountain while you drink, it will not get empty: Indeed, it will always be full. So the love of your neighbor, whether spiritual or temporal, is meant to be drunk in me, without any self-interest.

I ask you to love me with same love with which I love you. But for me you cannot do this, for I love you without being loved. Whatever love you have for me you owe me, so you love me not gratuitously but out of duty, while I love you not out of duty but gratuitously. So you cannot give me the kind of love I ask of you. This is why I have put you among your neighbors: so that you can do for them what you cannot do for me--that is, love them without any concern for thanks and without looking for any profit for yourself. And whatever you do for them I will consider done for me.

So your love should be sincere. You should love your neighbors with the same love with which you love me. Do you know how you can tell when your spiritual love is not perfect? If you are distressed when it seems that those you love are not returning your love or not loving you as much as you think you love them. Or if you are distressed when it seems to you that you are being deprived of their company or comfort, or that they love someone else more than you.

From these and from many other things you should be able to tell if your love for me and for your neighbors is still imperfect and that you have been drinking from your vessel outside of the fountain, even though your love was drawn from me. But it is because your love for me is imperfect that you show it so imperfectly to those you love with a spiritual love.

(Translated from The Dialogue, translated and with an introduction by Susan Noffke. Mahweh, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1980.

Saint Catherine of Siena: In Praise of Mary

Posted by Jacob

Saint Catherine of Siena wrote many prayers during her life.  The prayer below was written out of devotion to Our Blessed Mother, Mary, Virgin Mother of God

In Praise of Mary

O Mary, Mary, temple of the Trinity. O Mary, bearer of fire. O Mary, dispenser of mercy. O Mary, restorer of human generation, because the world was repurchased by means of the sustenance that your flesh found in the Word. Christ repurchased the world with His Passion, and you with your suffering of mind and body.

O Mary, peaceful ocean. O Mary, giver of peace. O Mary, fruitful land. You, O Mary, are that new plant from which we have the fragrant flower of the Word, Only-begotten Son of God, because this Word was sown in you, O fruitful land. You are the land and the plant.

O Mary, vehicle of fire, you bore the fire hidden and veiled beneath the ash of your humanity. O Mary, vase of humility, in which there burns the light of true knowledge with which you lifted yourself above yourself and yet were pleasing to the eternal Father; hence He took and brought you to Himself, loving you with a singular love.

With this light and fire of your charity and with the oil of your humility, you inclined His Divinity to come into you – although He was first drawn to come to us by the most ardent fire of His inestimable charity.

Today I ardently make my request, because it is the day of graces, and I know that nothing is refused to you, O Mary. Today, O Mary, your land has generated the Savior for us. O Mary, blessed are you among women throughout the ages!


April 28: Saint Louis Mary Grignion de Montfort

Posted by Jacob

“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray.
This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.” (St. Louis de Montfort)

April 28 commemorates the feast day of Saint Louis Mary Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716), founder of the Missionaries of the Company of Mary, the Daughters of Wisdom, and prolific writer on the importance of devotion to Our Blessed Mother. Aptly called a “disciple of Mary,” Saint Louis de Montfort’s work, “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin” remains a seminal text in devotion to Mary, and consecration to Jesus through her love and life.

Born poor, in the village of Montfort in Brittany, France, Louis exhibited a desire for the Lord from an early age, oftentimes spending hours in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Rather than take his family name, Saint Louis opted for “Grignion,” the place in which he was baptized. At age 12, he entered the Jesuit College of St. Thomas Becket at Rennes, where he studied for 8 years, prior to consecrating himself to the Lord, giving up his worldly possessions, vowing never to own anything of his own, and setting off on foot to Paris, to enter the priesthood. His studies in Paris proved him to be an intelligent and devout student, and he was ordained 7 years later in 1700.

Saint Louis de Montfort spent his next years, traveling across France on foot, evangelizing and preaching the true teachings and doctrine of the Church. At that time, many French Catholics did not fully understand Church teachings, and little was being done in the way of instruction. He wrote to his spiritual director, “Seeing the needs of the Church, I cannot help praying continually for a small society of poor priests who, under the protection of the Virgin Mary, will go from parish to parish, instructing the poor in the faith, relying solely on divine providence." Saint Louis envisioned a company of instructors, consecrated to the Blessed Virgin, who could travel and fill this spiritual need for the people—a vision he would realize years later.

In these early years of his priesthood, Saint Louis made many enemies and was asked to leave more than one parish! He had a tendency to directly oppose and condemn sinfulness and wrongdoing, and correct erroneous doctrine. His challenge to live a more holy life was one which many found difficult, but more found inspiring. However, the reaction of some began to wear on Saint Louis, and he began to doubt whether his true calling was in the work he was doing. For answers, he walked the nearly 1000 miles to Rome and had a personal audience with Pope Clement XI who assured him that his mission was in France.

For the next 10 years, Saint Louis lived fully and kept busy on his Apostolic Mission in Western France. He walked from parish to parish renewing the Catholic life of the people he encountered, preaching and instructing, providing for the poor, teaching catechism, organizing the building of shrines, renovating broken-down churches, and establishing schools.

Given his busy and strenuous life, his health suffered. He was frequently ill, and in 1716, following his preaching of a sermon on the kindness of Jesus, he was near death. Prior dying, Saint Louis kissed the crucifix and the little statue of our Lady which he held in his hands, exclaiming, "In vain do you attack me, I am between Jesus and Mary. I have finished my course: all is over. I shall sin no more.” Having fulfilled his mission, Saint Louis de Montfort died peacefully.

Saint Louis was buried in the church at Saint Laurent, where thousands visit on pilgrimage each year. The epitaph on his tomb reads:

You who pass this way, what do you see?
A light quenched,
A man consumed with the fire of charity,
Who became all things to all men,
Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort.

If you would know his life, there was none more holy;
If his penance, none more mortified;
If his zeal, none more ardent;
If his devotion to Mary, none more like Bernard.
A priest of Christ, he showed forth Christ in his actions,
and preached him everywhere in his words;
unwearied, he rested only in the grave.

A father to the poor,
protector of orphans,
reconciler of sinners,
his glorious death was the image of his life.
As he lived, so did he die.

During his life, Saint Louis encouraged the imitation of the Virgin Mary’s acceptance of God’s will in her life. He founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (for priests and brothers) and the Daughters of Wisdom, who cared especially for the sick. He encouraged the praying of the Holy Rosary, wrote the beautiful inspiration text, “The Secrets of the Rosary,” and inspired the common manner in which the Rosary is prayed today.

Saint Louis de Montfort lived a life dedicated to Our Lord, to His will, and to accepting that holy will in his life. To accomplish this, he looked to the “first disciple of Christ,” Our Blessed Virgin Mother, Mary. In promoting a systematic devotion and consecration to Our Holy Mother, Saint Louis de Montfort directed all thoughts, feelings, and actions back to Jesus, through the powerful intercession of Mary, through prayer and contemplation, through preaching, and through simple adoration. His written works remain today, guiding us toward true devotion and true union with the Lord.

Selected Quotations from Saint Louis de Montfort:

“Mary’s chief purpose is to unite us with Jesus Christ, her Son; and it is the most decided wish of her Son that we should come to him through his Blessed Mother.”

“Since the salvation of humanity began through the Hail Mary, the salvation of each individual is linked with this prayer… This same prayer, devoutly said, will cause the word of God to germinate in our souls, and to bear the fruit of life: Jesus Christ.”

"It was through the Blessed Virgin Mary that Jesus came into the world, and it is also through her that he must reign in the world."

“Mary is the fruitful Virgin, and in all the souls in which she comes to dwell she causes to flourish purity of heart and body, rightness of intention and abundance of good works. Do not imagine that Mary, the most fruitful of creatures who gave birth to a God, remains barren in a faithful soul. It will be she who makes the soul live incessantly for Jesus Christ, and will make Jesus live in the soul”

"Pray with great confidence, with confidence based on the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray."

“We fasten our souls to Your hope, as to an abiding anchor. It is to Her that the saints who have saved themselves have been the most attached and have done their best to attach others, in order to persevere in virtue. Happy, then, a thousand times happy, are the Christians who are now fastened faithfully and entirely to Her, as to a firm anchor!”

"Mary alone gives to the unfortunate children of unfaithful Eve entry into that earthly paradise where they may walk pleasantly with God and be safely hidden from their enemies. There they can feed without fear of death on the delicious fruit of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They can drink copiously the heavenly waters of that beauteous fountain which gushes forth in such abundance."

"She [Mother Mary] is an echo of God, speaking and repeating only God. If you say "Mary" she says 'God'."

"If you put all the love of all the mothers into one heart it still would not equal the love of the Heart of Mary for her children."

“My contention is that you must first discover Mary if you would obtain this grace from God. Mary alone found grace with God for herself and for every individual person. No patriarch nor prophet nor any other holy person of the Old Law could manage to find this grace. It was Mary who gave existence and life to the Author of all grace, and because of this she is called the “Mother of Grace.”

As Saint Bernard says, “The will of God is manifested to her in Jesus and with Jesus.” God chose her to be the treasurer, the administrator and the dispenser of all His graces, so that all His gifts and graces pass through her hands. According to Saint Bernardine, “She gives the graces of the eternal Father, the virtues of Jesus Christ, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit to whom she wills.”

Since Mary produced the Head of the elect, Jesus Christ, she must also produce the members of that Head. If anyone, then, wishes to become a member of Jesus Christ, and consequently be filled with grace and truth, he must be formed in Mary through the grace of Jesus Christ, which she possesses with a fullness enabling her to communicate it abundantly to true members of Jesus Christ, her true children.”

Today’s Psalm: Psalm 4: Joyful Confidence in God

6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.
7 You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.
8 I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4: 6-8)

Day 118 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Confidence in the Lord; True devotion; Acceptance of God’s will in our lives; For missionaries.
Requested Intentions: For a friend undergoing a medical procedure (L); A father’s birthday (J); Restoration and healing of marriage, family, and financial situation (M); For the repose of the soul of M (J); Financial security and employment (A); For financial security (M); Health and recovery of Cardinal Sean Brady (R); Healing from a chronic illness (J); Deepening of faith and true conversion for a family (J); Successful employment (H); Restoration of a marriage (J); For a friend’s daughter, seeking medical treatment for a blood disorder (D); For the grace and conversion of a loved one (Z); For a beloved son’s return to the faith (A); For the improved health and recovery of a mother (G).

Psalm: Psalm 4: Joyful Confidence in God

The Ballad of Saint Zita

Posted by Jacob

Today, April 27, is the feast day of Saint Zita, Virgin of the Church, and patron saint of housework, domestic servants, and lost keys!  In the fourteenth century, the following poem was written about her, and subsequently translated from the original Italian. 

The Ballad of Saint Zita
O Light of lights, Redeemer of mankind,
Whose glory most in mercy shines displayed,
Concede Thy favour to my humble mind,
Increase my feeble memory with Thine aid,
My heart to-day some fitting words would find,
To tell of Zita, Lucca's holy maid:
That Christians all may read her life, and how
She sleeps in old San Frediano now.

So listen kindly, friends, and I will tell,
The story of our saint, now raised so high:
And first I pray you to remember well
Her birthplace . . . To our city it lies nigh.
She who doth in the eternal glory dwell,
With other virgin saints above the sky,
Was born, long since, in Lucca's happy state,
At Monsagrato, so old books relate.

'Twas in the year twelve hundred and eighteen
This noble flower blossomed first on earth:
And in a poor man's household was she seen,
A household poor in gold, but rich in worth.
Her elder sister led a life serene
Within a convent, ere Saint Zita's birth.
Giovan Lombardo was the father styled,
A worthy parent of a saintly child.

Her mother was so good, that every day
She loved her better, seeing how she grew
In fear of God, and walking in His way
From earliest childhood, with devotion true.
Prayer was her great delight, she loved to stay
In church alone, and dream of all she knew
Of how God lived on earth, and how He died;
Until her heart could hold no dream beside.

Time passed, the girl grew older, well content
To do God's work, whate'er that work might be.
Her brightest hours on her knees were spent,
And little thought of worldly things had she.
One day to saddening care her mind was lent:
'I eat my father's bread, he works for me!'
She raised her heart in prayer: 'O Lord', she said,
'To Lucca let me go, and earn my bread'.

And He who hears in secret, heard that prayer:
For both her parents came, the selfsame day,
And asked her, 'Daughter, would'st thou now prepare
As servant in a noble house to stay?
For since to serve the Lord is all thy care,
In Lucca hath He marked thee out thy way.
There may'st thou live, there labour and there die'.
'Thank God! So be it!' Zita made reply.

They reached the house for Zita's home designed,
And Casa Fantinelli was its name.
A family of noble life and mind
Dwelt in it, when the saintly maiden came.
Just to their servants, - to the needy, kind.
With them her life could pass, almost the same
As with her parents. She, rejoiced indeed,
Gave thanks to God who did such grace concede.

At twelve years old she did to service go,
And ever after in that house she stayed,
With love unwearied, which no change could know:
Her master's word she never disobeyed.
A humble mind her very looks might show,
So poor was all the dress of this poor maid!
The meanest garment pleased her best to wear,
And all the whole year round her feet were bare.

Her master and her mistress orders gave,
That Zita should in all things have her way;
Left all in Zita's hand to spend or save,
And told her, 'Do for us as best you may!'
And she, with care, and with attention grave,
Gave heed that nought were lost or thrown away;
But many things which wasted were before,
She gathered up, and gave them to the poor.

The noble family with whom she dwelt,
Did many garments give for Zita's wear:
For all within the house great kindness felt
For her who served them with such loving care.
She thanked them humbly, yet her heart would melt,
For longing with the poor such gifts to share.
And as she could, in secret, day by day,
For love of God she gave the best away.

And often through the country far she sought,
If any sick in lonely cottage pined;
She helped them in their need, and to them brought
Of her own food, the best her hand could find:
And clothed them with her garments, caring nought
For cold or hunger, but with willing mind
Gave all, and did her chiefest pleasure take,
In toil and harship for the dear Lord's sake.

But on the table what did she behold?
The loaves all there, a cloth above them laid.
At sight of which was Zita much consoled,
Not doubting but her mistress had them made:
But no, the house was silent; young and old
Had slept, while Zita in the church delayed.
She could but thank her Lord, with heart content,
Who by His angels had this favour sent.

One fest, 'twas the day when Christ was born,
When most in church all Christians love to meet;
An ice-cold wind, that freezing winter morn,
Made all men go with heads down, in the street.
When Zita, with her garment poor and worn,
But heart all glowing with devotion sweet,
Set out for matins ere the break of day,
Her master called her back, and bade her stay.

Full sad she was to lose the morning prayer,
On Christmas day of all days, and did so
Entreat her master, though the snow-filled air
Was piercing cold. At length he let her go.
But taking off the cloak himself did wear,
He did it kindly on her shoulder throw.
'Wear this', he said, 'what time thou wilt remain
In church, but bring it safe to me again'.

She thanked her master, and with heart content,
Set off for church amid the driving storm;
With soul uplifted, praying as she went;
And in these words her prayer at length took form.
'O Lord, behold the cloak my master lent;
Too fine it is for me, too soft and warm;
Forgive me if I wear it on the night
When Thou didst leave Thy glory and They light.

'The night when Thou was born on earth so poor,
To give us peace; but, Lord, 'tis not my will,
Thou knowest I would willingly endure
More than this cold, Thy pleasure to fulfil!
So help me, keep me in Thy love secure!'
Just then the church she entered, praying still,
And by the door a beggar, weak and old,
In scanty garments stood, healf dead with cold.

She looked awhile, her heart with pity led,
Then called him, saying, 'Brother, come to me'
Come, take this cloak, and wear it in my stead;
It is not mine, or I would give it thee.
Then kneel beside me till the prayers be said;
Pray with me, and God's love shall with us be.
Then matins over, I would much desire
To lead thee home and warm thee by our fire'.

She said no more; her gown was old and thin,
Her feet were bare, but little did she heed:
And, praying fervently, did soon being
To feel her heart and spirit warm indeed
For thinking how, when we were lost in sin,
The Lord Himself had pity on our need,
And how for us, on just so cold a day,
Himself on earth, a new-born infant lay.

Till, matins over and the mass as well,
As home from church the people turned once more,
She sought the beggar, but it now befell
The sacristan made haste to shut the door.
She waited, but he came not, strange to tell!
She sought him, as she never sought before;
For she would lead him to her fire, and then
Would give her master back his cloak again.

The church was closed, she had not seen him pass,
She searched the street in trouble and dismay:
'No doubt while I was waiting at the Mass,
Some one who saw me' (thus did Zita say)
'Went home and told my master, and, alas!
He sent in haste and took the cloak away.
The beggar must have suffered much, and now
Has gone home cold and frightened, who knows how.

Then said she (while new terror filled her breast),
'O Lord, I pray Thee do not me forsake!
Perhaps 'tis lost, and all must be confessed,
And I shall have but poor excuse to make.
Oh, help me! I can have nor peace nor rest
Until I find, and to my master take,
The cloak which, wrongly, I the beggar lent!'
Thus saying, heavy-hearted, home she went.

But just as Zita, trembling, passed the door,
Her master met her, and with searching eye
He looked to see if still the cloak she wore:
'Twas gone! at which his anger rose so high,
With bitter words he did his rage outpour,
And sharp reproof, while she made no reply.
But while in loud and angry bvoice he spoke,
Behold appear the beggar with the cloak!

Who thanking Zita kindly, as he might,
Gave back the cloak like one in haste to go-
His face all changed, and shone with heavenly light,
And lighted hers, with its reflected glow.
They tried to speak, but he had passed from sight.
No beggar he, of those that walk below!
Great comfort he left their hearts within,
An angel of the Lord had with them been!

That very hour in which her spirit fled,
Young children through the town began to say
(Before they heard), 'The blessed Zita's dead!'
And crowd about the house wherein she lay.
A star appeared, and did much radiance shed,
O'er Casa Fantinelli at mid-day;
Which was to all a clear and certain sign
Her soul had joined the company divine.

But hardly could they bear her to her grave,
The crowd of mourning people was so great;
Some thronged her chamber, one more look to crave,
While others did in San Frediano wait,
To kiss her hand, or some memorial save,
Their sorrow to console or consecrate.
Her very garments in the press were torn
That each might have some fragment she had worn.

And now to end my tale, I must relate,
'Twas April on the twenty-seventh day,
And in the year twelve hundred eighty-eight,
That she from earth to heaven was borne away.
Which day returning, still we celebrate;
And let each faithful soul due honour pay
To her whose life has made the way so plain,
The blessed country of our hope to gain.