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."

May 29: Saint Saint Julia Maria Ledóchowska, Mother Maria Ursula of Jesus

Posted by Jacob

“If only I knew how to love, to burn and consume oneself in love” 


Today, May 29, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Julia Maria Ledóchowska, Maria Ursula of Jesus (1865-1939), Foundress of the Institute of Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Agony.  Throughout her life, during a difficult political period, including the First World War, Julia maintained a constant focus on helping the poor, displaced, and forgotten.  When questioned about her political views, often at risk to her own life, she simply and repeatedly replied, “My policy is love.”


Born in Austria, Julia was born into a privileged family, the daughter of a Polish count and a Swiss noblewoman. She was one of five children born into the family.  Her elder sister, Blessed Maria Teresa Ledóchowska, founded the Missionary Sisters of Saint Peter Claver and is affectionately known as the “Mother of Africa.”


Julia (at left), her mother, and sisters

Julia’s uncle, the Cardinal Mieczyslaw Ledóchowski, the Primate of Poland, was persecuted and imprisoned for his opposition to the policies of the Prussian  “culture war.”  For this reason, and for reasons of finances, Julia’s father moved the family back to his native Poland, where he fell ill.  Before his death, he gave his daughter his blessing to enter the Convent of Ursuline Sisters in Krakow.  Taking the name of Maria Ursula of Jesus, she dedicated herself to service of those in need.  Sister Maria Ursula was especially drawn to youth, specifically young women who were in need of education.  She founded the first Polish residence for female university students, and both watched over them and assisted them in their spiritual and academic studies.


Sister Maria Ursula became prioress of the convent in which she lived, and later received a request from Monsignor Constantine Budkiewicz, a Polish nobleman living and pastor of Saint Catherine’s Church.  His wish was for Mother Maria Ursula to found a boarding school in Russia, for Polish girls wishing to study in Saint Petersburg.  Having received approval from Pope Saint Pius X, she traveled to Russia and founded a convent there to work among Catholic immigrants.  Given the state of Russian politics at that time, the nuns wore lay clothing, and conducted themselves appropriately, but were under constant threat and surveillance by the Russian secret police.


As World War I dawned, Mother Ursula was expelled from Russia, given her Austrian birth.  Monsignor Budkiewicz was eventually martyred for the faith, during the fall and renaming of Saint Petersburg as Leningrad.  Having been expelled from Russia, Mother Ursula fled to Sweden.  There, she organized relief efforts for war victims, charitable enterprises for those (like herself) living in exile from Poland.  She further founded a monthly Catholic newspaper.


In 1920, Mother Ursula and her growing community made its way back into Poland, bringing with her dozens of orphaned youth.  Upon their return, Mother Ursula found that her community had developed a separate and unique identity, mission, and charism from the Ursuline community, given their exile and separation, and as a result, she founded her own congregation:  The Institute of Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Agony.  Having obtained Vatican approval, she dedicated herself and her congregation to “the education and training of children and youth, and service to the poorest and the oppressed among our brethren.”


From that time on, the Ursulines founded congregations in working class towns, organizing a “Eucharistic Crusade” by which to educate the factory workers and their families in the ways of the faith.  With tireless energy and faith, Mother Ursula continued to lead her community until 1939, when she passed away quietly at the general house of her community in Rome.  Her incorrupt body was translated to the Gray Ursuline motherhouse in Pniewy, Poland in 1989.  She was canonized in 2003 by Pope John Paul II.  At her canonization, the pontiff proclaimed:


“Mother Ursula Ledóchowska made her life a mission of mercy for the most deprived. Wherever Providence took her, she found young people in need of instruction and spiritual formation, poor, sick or lonely people, battered by life in various ways, who expected of her understanding and concrete help. In accordance with her means, she never refused help to anyone. Her work of mercy will remain engraved forever in the message of holiness, which yesterday became part of the whole Church.”


Today, the congregation founded by Mother Ursula continues its work around the world, numbering at approximately 900 nuns and 100 communities in 12 countries including Poland, Italy, France, Germany, Finland, Belarus, Ukraine, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Tanzania.  Saint Ursula educated her sisters to love God above all things and to see God in every human person and all creation. As a shining example of faith and complete trust in the Lord, she demonstrated her confidence through tireless work, constant smile, serenity of spirit, humility, and the desire to live an ordinary life as a privileged path to holiness. 

Memorial Day Prayers

Posted by Jacob

On this Memorial Day, we pray for all those who have died in service of God and country, and for all those who continue to serve in military forces around the world.  May the Lord bless them and keep them safe in the faith.

For those who have died

O loving God . . .
I pray you to welcome my deceased family,friends, loved ones into heaven with you. Forgive them their sins and reward them their goodness.
Grant that I may be with them again in your Peaceful presence.

O God our Father,Creator of all the living,
we entrust to Your gentle care all those we love who have gone before us;
and have gone to their rest in the hope of rising again.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

O God, Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful,
grant to the souls of our departed loved ones,
the remission of all their sins,
that by means of our pious supplications,
they may obtain the joy of heaven which they have earnestly desired.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Merciful Father, hear our prayer and console us.
As we renew our faith in your Son,whom you raised from the dead,
strengthen our hope that all of our departed brothers and sisters
will share in his resurrection,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

For those who serve

Almighty God
We stand before you in supplication, 
Asking Your Divine mercy and protection, 
To envelop with Your invincible armor, 
Our loved ones in all branches of the service. 

Give them courage and strength
Against all enemies, 
Both spiritual and physical, 
And hasten their safe journey, 
Back to their homes and families. 

If it be Your Holy Will
That they be gathered to Your bosom, 
With the eternal vanguard of the saints, 
Let their journey to Your everlasting arms
Be swift and painless, 
Where they may stand in honor and glory, 
Praising You for all eternity. Amen. 

(Prayer from Catholic.org)

Prayers in a Time of War

  1. For Troops
    All-powerful and ever-living God,
    when Abraham left his native land
    and departed from his people
    you kept him safe through all his journeys.
    Protect these soldiers.
    Be their constant companion and their strength in battle,
    their refuge in every adversity.
    Guide them, O Lord, that they may return home in safety.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  2. Prayer of a Spouse for a Soldier
    God of power and might,
    at every moment and in every place
    you are near to those who call upon your name in faith.
    In marriage you have blessed us with a share in your divine love.
    Look upon my husband/wife and keep him/her in your safekeeping,
    no matter where the road may lead.
    And when the battle is ended,
    bring him/her safely home to those who love him.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  3. Prayer of a Son or Daughter for a Parent
    Loving God
    you watch over each and every one of your children
    Hear my prayer for my father/mother
    Be his/her constant companion.
    Protect him/her no matter where he/she goes,
    and bring him/her safely and quickly home to those who love him/her.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  4. Prayer of a Parent for a Soldier
    Father all-powerful and ever-loving God,
    from before we were born,
    your love has nurtured and sustained us.
    Hear my prayer for N., my son/daughter.
    Keep him/her safe in time of battle
    and faithful to you, day in and day out.
    Bring him/her safely home to those who love him/her.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  5. Prayer for Those who Await a Soldier's Return
    God of all goodness,
    Look with love on those who wait
    for the safe return of their loved ones
    who serve in the armed forces of their country.
    In faith and hope, we turn to you for comfort.
    Grant that we may trust in your mercy
    and send an angel to sustain us as we await their safe return.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  6. For Government Leaders
    God of power and might, wisdom and justice,
    through you authority is rightly administered,
    laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed.
    Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude
    the President and other government leaders of these United States.
    May they always seek
    the ways of righteousness, justice and mercy.
    Grant that they may be enabled by your powerful protection
    to lead our country with honesty and integrity.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  7. For the Safety of Soldiers
    Almighty and eternal God,
    those who take refuge in you will be glad
    and forever will shout for joy.
    Protect these soldiers as they discharge their duties.
    Protect them with the shield of your strength
    and keep them safe from all evil and harm.
    May the power of your love enable them to return home
    in safety, that with all who love them,
    they may ever praise you for your loving care.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  8. For our Enemies
    Jesus, Prince of Peace,
    you have asked us to love our enemies
    and pray for those who persecute us.
    We pray for our enemies and those who oppose us.
    With the help of the Holy Spirit,
    may all people learn to work together
    for that justice which brings true and lasting peace.
    To you be glory and honor for ever and ever.
  9. For Courage in the time of Battle
    O Prince of peace, we humbly ask your protection
    for all our men and women in military service.
    Give them unflinching courage to defend
    with honor, dignity and devotion,
    the rights of all who are imperiled
    by injustice and evil.
    Be their rock, their shield, and their stronghold
    and let them draw their strength from you.
    For you are God, for ever and ever.
  10. In a Time of Waiting
    All powerful and ever-living God,
    Guard our churches, our homes, our schools,
    our hospitals, our factories, and all the places where we gather.
    Deliver us from harm and peril.
    Protect our land and its peoples from enemies within and without.
    Grant an early peace with victory founded upon justice.
    Instill in the hearts and minds of men and women everywhere
    a firm purpose to live forever in peace and good will toward all.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.
  11. For Deceased Veterans
    O God,
    by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest,
    look kindly on your departed veterans who gave their
    lives in the service of their country.
    Grant that through the passion, death, and resurrection of your Son
    they may share in the joy of your heavenly kingdom
    and rejoice in you with your saints forever.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord.

A Soldier's Prayers

  1. For Families and friends Left At Home
    O God, Protector of all people and nations,
    protect my family and friends at home
    from the violence and evil of others.
    Keep them safe from the weapons of hate and destruction
    and guard them against the deeds of evildoers.
    Grant them your protection and care
    in tranquility and peace.
    Grant this through Christ our Lord.
  2. On the Eve of Battle
    God of power and mercy,
    maker and love of peace,
    to know you is to live,
    and to serve you is to reign.
    Through the intercession of St. Michael, the archangel,
    be our protection in battle against all evil.
    Help me [us] to overcome war and violence
    and to establish your law of love and justice.
    Grant this through Christ our Lord.
  3. For Hope in the Midst of Destruction
    God of mercy,
    you know the secrets of all human hearts,
    for you know who is just and you forgive the repentant sinner.
    Hear my prayer in the midst of destruction;
    give me patience and hope,
    so that under your protection and with you as my guide,
    I may one day be reunited with my family and friends
    in peace, tranquility, and love.
    Grant this through Christ our Lord.
  4. Prayer For Officers In Command
    God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
    Hear my prayer for these soldiers under my command.
    Grant that I may bring the spirit of Christ
    to all my efforts and orders
    as I exercise my authority over those entrusted to my care.
    Inform my judgment with your Holy Spirit
    so that I may make decisions
    in conformity with your law and for the common good.
    Grant this through Christ our Lord.
  5. For Fellow Combatants
    Lord God,
    Remember Christ your Son who is peace itself
    and who has washed away our hatred with His blood.
    Because you love all men and women,
    look with mercy on all who are engaged in battle.
    Banish the violence and evil within all combatants
    so that one day, we may all deserve to be
    called your sons and your daughters.
    Grant this through Christ our Lord.
  6. For the innocent victims of war
    Lord God,
    your own Son was delivered into the hands of the wicked,
    yet he prayed for his persecutors
    and overcame hatred with the blood of the Cross.
    Relive the sufferings of the innocent victims of war;
    grant them peace of mind, healing of body,
    and a renewed faith in your protection and care.
    Grant this through Christ our Lord.
  7. Prayer for refugees and victims of war
    Lord God,
    no one is a stranger to you
    and no one is ever far from your loving care.
    In your kindness, watch over refugees and victims of war,
    those separated from their loved ones,
    young people who are lost,
    and those who have left home or who have run away from home.
    Bring them back safely to the place where they long to be
    and help us always to show your kindness
    to strangers and to all in need
    Grant this through Christ our Lord.
(Prayers from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers/prayer-for-troops.cfm)

Friday Prayer Requests

Posted by Jacob

Please join me in praying for those intentions submitted by readers over the past week.  Together, we raise our voices in prayer.

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18)

 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with 
thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:6)


For blessings on a marriage (J, PA-USA);  Guidance and love in a relationship and upcoming marriage (E, Nigeria); For assistance in financial difficulties (S, Ireland); For healing of a pregnant mother-to-be, and successful delivery of child (M, Ireland); Healing for a mother and son, guidance and academic assistance for a daughter taking a test, financial assistance (C, India); For brothers, searching for loving relationships and marriage, for ill parents (R, India); Healing and an end to loneliness (K, USA-IN); For the conversion of souls (A, Philippines); For healing and respect in a marriage, for financial assistance, for academic success for children (S, India); For an end to a mother’s health problems, end to son’s addiction, true conversion and return to the faith (M, USA-TX);   For healing of a young daughter with cancer (A, USA-FL); For renewal of a parish community celebrating 150 years (R, USA-IL);  For an end to a crippling illness, financial and occupational assistance (M, England); For continued financial assistance (B, USA-CA); Blessings and financial support for international work (M, Australia).

"Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth." (Psalm 54:2)
"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." (Matthew 21:22)

May 23: Saint William of Rochester

Posted by Jacob

Today, May 23, we celebrate the feast day of Saint William of Rochester (also known as Saint William of Perth, 12th century), patron saint of adopted children, and martyr for the faith.  Originally from Scotland, Saint William traveled to England, where he was eventually martyred.  His life, acts, and selfless commitment to those in need serve as a model of Christian love and service.

William was born in Perth in the twelfth centry, one of the most important Scottish towns at the time. While little is known about his life, what we do know is inspiring.  After a wayward youth, William found the Lord, and embraced the Gospel.  He worked tirelessly each day in his trade, as a baker.  Evenings were spent in service to the Church, the poor, and in prayer.  It is said that every tenth loaf of bread that he baked was given to the needy.

Saint William attended daily Mass, oftentimes prior to sunrise so that he could begin his day at the bakery.  One morning, he found an abandoned infant, left on the steps of the church.  He immediately adopted the boy, raising him in the faith, and providing him training in trade.  He named him David (and the Scots refer to this boy as “David the Foundling”).

As the boy grew, Saint William took him on a tour of the Holy Land, visiting the holy places of Christ’s life.  With him, Saint William brought a consecrated wallet and staff.  While in Rochester, England (on their way to visit Canterbury, and then to Jerusalem), David led his father into a dangerous area of town, slit his throat, stole his wallet, and disappeared.

Cathedral of Rochester
Saint William’s body was discovered by woman known to be mentally ill.  She dressed the saint’s body with a garland of honeysuckle, treating him with reverence.  It is said that the madness immediately left her, and she brought the saint’s body to the cathedral.  There, the monks of Rochester buried him, enshrining his relics, and proclaiming him saintly due to his holy life, his love for his son, and the miraculous cures he wrought in death (not only of the mad woman, but also of many at his graveside).  Saint William was canonized by Pope Alexander IV in 1256.  A shrine dedicated to Saint William still stands at the Cathedral of Rochester.  His tomb and a chapel at his murder scene, called Palmersdene, soon became sites of pilgrimage and donation, even by the crown. Remains of the chapel can be seen near the present Saint William's Hospital.

The life of Saint William is inspirational in that he placed service to the Lord, and love of his fellow man, above all else.  He worked tirelessly to support the Church and serve the needy, and raised an abandoned boy as his own son.  Today, we pray for all those who are abandoned and forgotten, in need to love and support, and for those who provide service in the vineyard of the Lord.

God of the broken,
God of the wanderer,
Christ who is without shelter,
Surround those in deep need among us.
Surround them and help us hear their cries for help.
We are a people who long for the broken to be mended,
We long for justice in the face of much corruption,
We want to practice hospitality but have legitimate fears,
Surround us in our trying times and help us to reach beyond ourselves.
We confess we are bogged down by so much need in the world,
May we have the courage to stand for what is right even when it offends,
May we have the imaginations to help create a better world,
And the strength of your Spirit to carry on.
Let us be as you are in this world.

May 22: Saint Quiteria, Virgin Martyr of the Church

Posted by Jacob

Today, May 22, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Quiteria (2nd century), virgin martyr for the faith.  Depending on which account of her life you read, Saint Quiteria and her sisters were soldiers for Christ—traveling the countryside, freeing Christians from imprisonment, and smashing pagan idols.   Her courageous proclamation of the Gospel led to her eventual capture and death, although her faith never wavered.  Quiteria and her sisters demonstrate that from the direst of circumstances, the Lord can create miraculous moments of love and truth!

Quiteria was born into royalty, the daughter of a Galician prince.  She was one of nine daughters born together (nonuplets).  Her mother, Calsia, was disgusted at the fact that she had produced nine daughters (rather than sons), and suffered through nine childbirths. Viewing the experience as a waste of her time, she ordered her maid, Sila, to take the nine girls to the river and drown them.  Sila, however, was a Christian, and secretly refused the task, instead delivering the infants to a Cistercian monastery to be raised in community.

Quiteria and her sisters were raised by monks, baptized as Christians, and embraced the faith.  Quiteria was the most dedicated of her sisters, studying and practicing the tenets of the faith, reading the Gospel, praying, and developing a profound devotion to Our Blessed Mother.  The monks, placing a strong premium on truth, informed the girls of their royal lineage when they were old enough to understand.  Yet, none of the girls wished to return to the palace or live a luxurious lifestyle.  Instead, they became warriors for Christ, forming a “gang” who traveled the country, breaking Christians out of jail, proclaiming the Gospel, and smashing pagan idols. 

The gang survived for a few years, but were eventually caught and brought before the King, their father.  Recognizing his daughters, he requested that they give up their reckless ways and come live in the palace with him.  This they did, but only to witness to the royal court.  The sisters converted their rooms into prayer halls, and spent their days praying and praising the Lord.   When the king realized they were Christians, he ordered them to renounce their ways, sacrifice to the Roman gods, and marry pagan husbands. 

The sisters refused, led by Quiteria.  They were immediately jailed, but their imprisonment did little to lessen their faith or joy in the Lord.  In jail they praised and glorified Jesus, and eventually an angel came and proclaimed to Quiteria, “Happy and fortunate you are, for you deserved to find grace in front of God, so that God has chosen you as his spouse. It is God's will, that you are to live in solitude in the Mount Oria and there you will exercise in oration and contemplation.”

Released from imprisonment by the angel of God, the sisters split up, escaping by each traveling in a separate direction.  It is said that they were each eventually killed for their Christian faith.  Quiteria, for her part, followed the angel and did as instructed, forming a small community of women on the hills of Mount Oria, and living for a brief time in peaceful contemplation of the Lord.  She was eventually captured, and subsequently freed from imprisonment again by an angel.  In the process of her imprisonment, she converted many, and her community continued to grow.

Eventually, Quiteria encountered the powerful ruler of the city of Aufragia, Prosen Lastiano.  She successfully converted him to Christianity, but a few days later he reverted to his pagan beliefs.  Humiliated in front of his people, he ordered Quiteria tracked down and killed.  His soldiers tracked her to her hillside community, but upon approach, Prosen suffered inexplicable injuries, including the loss of feeling in his hands and legs.  Quiteria prayed for him, and his senses and movements were restored.  Again, he converted to Christianity, this time filled with the faith of God.  Many of his followers did the same, which infuriated the king.

Under his order, Quiteria was found and beheaded for her Christian faith.  Prior to beheading, she is said to have kept the king’s vicious attack dogs at bay, with simply a gentle word.  For this reason, she is often invoked against rabies, and frequently pictured leading a dog.  (In rural Spain and France, farmers continue to lead their livestock to a bridge that is said to contain a relic of Saint Quiteria.  Passing the animals over the bridge is said to protect them from contracting disease).  Each of the women who had found refuge in her community was beheaded as well.  Legend states that following her martyrdom, Saint Quiteria walked to the Church of the Virgin Mary, carrying her head in her hands.  There, at Airein Gascony, her relics were interred (until later scattered by the Huguenots), and she continues to be venerated in southern France and northern Spain.

The live of Saint Quiteria, while possibly pious legend, is one of struggle for the faith.  Despite a chance at a luxurious lifestyle, this lovely young woman and her sisters instead chose to fight for the truth of the Gospel, forsaking her family, her comfort, and eventually her life.  Saint Quiteria’s courage and faith remind us that in our moments of difficulty, we need only turn to the Lord for inspiration and support, and that He will send His angels to protect and assist us.  We pray today for the confident faith in Christ, as exemplified by so many of the saints and martyrs that have come before us!

Friday Prayer Requests

Posted by Jacob

Please join me in praying for those intentions submitted by readers over the past week.  Together, we raise our voices in prayer.

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18)

 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with 
thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:6)

For a son struggling with addiction, that he may be freed by God’s grace (J, USA-PA);  For assistance with employment and health (S, Australia);  For occupational and financial success for a man and his family (A, USA-CA);  For the health of a grandmother (M, USA-CA);  For an unborn grandson diagnosed with Cystic Hygroma, that he be born healthy and safe (K, USA-GA); Financial security, assistance with medical claims, and end to legal difficulties (B, USA-CA); For an end to anxiety, continued hope, and successful employment (C, New Zealand); For blessings and healing upon a couple and their relationship (A, Ireland); Restoration of a marriage, sanctified by faith (S, India); For resolution of legal, occupational, and familial difficulties (B, USA-LA);  For grace and protection of children and unborn grandchild, for true family conversion and return to the Church (E, USA-TX); For the Society of Our Lady of Lourdes, celebrating its 100th anniversary, and upcoming pilgrimage (J, United Kingdom); Blessings and housing assistance (B, Canada); Health for a family, gift of new life (M, India); Baptism of grandchildren, change of heart of parents (G, USA-IL).

"Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth." (Psalm 54:2)
"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." (Matthew 21:22)

May 18: Saint Venantius of Camerino, Miraculous Martyr

Posted by Jacob

O God, who hast hallowed this day by the triumph of Thy blessed Martyr Venantius: graciously hear the prayers of Thy people and grant that we who venerate his merits, may also imitate the constancy of his faith. Through Christ, Our Lord.  Amen.

Today, May 18, we celebrate the feast of Saint Venantius of Camerino (235-250), a teenage martyr for the faith.  Even as a boy of fifteen, Saint Venantius preached and lived the word of God.  His suffering was only exceeded by his Love for the Lord, earning him the golden martyr’s crown.

Venantius was born at Camerino in Italy, during the persecution of Christians by the Roman Emperor Decius.  Venantius was to be taken into custody at the age of fifteen, having been caught preaching the Gospel of Christ to all who would listen. The events of his martyrdom are nothing short of miraculous, and continue to inspire us today.
Having learned that he was about to be arrested, Venantius instead presented himself to the governor of Camerino, Antiochus.  There, outside the city gates, Venantius preached the Gospel to the governor, comparing the sinful Roman gods to the one, true Lord, Jesus Christ.  The governor, irate, made every effort to get this confident boy to recant his preaching and sacrifice to the gods.  However, Venantius stood firm in his conviction, withstanding horrible threats and generous promises of wealth and power.  Out of options, the governor ordered him arrested and scourged, but every stroke of the whip was miraculously blocked by an angel who appeared from heaven.

Antiochus then ordered Venantius to be burnt with torches and suspended over a low fire that he might be suffocated by the smoke. Again, an angel, as reported by the judge’s secretary, saved the young saint.  While admiring the steadfastness of the boy, he observed an angel robed in white, who stamped out the fire and again set free the youthful martyr. This man proclaimed his faith in Christ immediately and was baptized with his whole family. Shortly afterwards he was martyred for his beliefs.
Venantius was then summoned again to appear before Antiochus. Unable to make him renounce his faith, the governor cast him into prison, but he held firm to his beliefs. It was then ordered that his teeth and jaws to be broken, and that he be thrown into a furnace to burn to death. Again, an angel of the Lord rescued him.

The governor was at a loss of what to do next, given that every attempt to harm the youth had failed.  He sent him to the city magistrate to be condemned to death, but Venantius converted the magistrate, eloquently proclaiming the Gospel.  It is said that the judge, upon hearing his testimony, fell from his seat and died, saying, “The God of Venantius is the true God; let us destroy our idols.”
Having returned to Antiochus, Venantius was ordered to be sacrificed to the lions.  However, the beasts failed to attack, instead reclining docilely by his feet as common pets.  Venantius was then dragged through a heap of brambles and thorns, until he was bruised and broken, and near death.  Being a hot day, the soldiers who dragged him outside the city over stones and rocks to inflict his wounds, were suffering from thirst and heat exhaustion, and complained of their ailments.  Despite his suffering, Venantius knelt on a rock, made the sign of the cross, and immediately a stream of cool water welled up on the spot.  The soldiers drank, many of them converted.  The rock itself remained imprinted by his knees and was placed in the Basilica in Camerino, where it still remains. 

Returned to his cell, near death, the governor was convinced he had achieved his goals.  However, the following morning, Venantius was found unscathed and healthy, miraculously cured of all his wounds.  Along with many of the soldiers who had been converted, Venantius was beheaded that morning. Christians in the community gave an honorable burial to the bodies of these martyrs, who now rest in Camerino, in the church dedicated to Saint Venantius.  The spring, which had miraculously been produced, has been recorded to have healing powers.

The brief life of Saint Venantius is one of love, praise of the Lord, suffering, and eventual martyrdom.  Throughout, Venantius never wavered from his convictions, holding true to the truth of the Gospel.  He was willing to patiently suffer, awaiting the glory of his reunification with the Risen Lord. 

Church of Saint Venantius

Saint Venantius, whom reflected the love of suffering marks; the most perfect degree in the love of our God. Our Lord Himself was consumed with the desire to suffer, because He burnt with the love of God. Pray for us to begin with patience and detachment. So we may at last shall learn to love the sufferings which conform us to the Passion of our Redeemer. Amen

Blessed Antonia Mesina, Patron Saint of Rape Victims

Posted by Jacob

Today, May 17, we celebrate the feast of Blessed Antonia Mesina (1919-1935), a model of virtue, martyr of purity, and patron saint of rape victims.  Despite being only sixteen years old when she died, Antonia’s faith and conviction continue to inspire us today.  She was ever faithful to the Lord, and her virtue continues to infuse strength and grace into the Church, and each one of us, today.

Antonia Mesina was born on the island of Sardinia, of the west coast of Italy.  She was born the second-born of ten children born to an extremely poor family during the years between the first and second world wars.  Times were difficult, but she was offered an opportunity for education, which was eagerly accepted.  After only four years of elementary school, however, Antonia was forced to leave, remaining home and taking care of the household duties and her siblings following her mother becoming bedridden. 

Antonia’s mother, Grazia, had developed a painful heart condition, and despite Antonia’s wishes to remain in school and enjoy the fun of childhood, her mother reported that Antonia "never once went against me.” She was given the household duties, which she accepted both humbly and joyfully.  Obedient and hard working, Antonia willingly and diligently performed her duties and took on responsibilities as if she were already an adult.  She took care of the households cooking, cleaning, laundering of clothes, caring for her siblings, gathering wood, carrying water—all without complaint.  Antonia’s mother, Grazia, referred to her daughter as "the flower of my life."

At the age of 10, Antonia joined a local youth group called “Catholic Action,” Italy’s national apostolic movement for lay people.  Even as a child, she was a model member, reporting that the experience was “beautiful” for her, and that it “helps one to be good.”  Antonia energetically fulfilled her commitments, recruiting other young people to join the group… even on the day of her death.  Honoring Christ, and walking in friendship with Him, became her first priority.

On the day of her martyrdom, at age 16, Antonia was in the forest gathering wood with a friend.  She was attacked by a teenage boy, who pushed her to the ground in attempts to rape her.  While her friend ran for help, Antonia valiantly struggled to maintain her purity, which she had pledged to Christ.  She managed to escape twice, but was caught and beaten repeatedly on the head with a rock.  Despite her mortal wounds, she continued to fight her attacker until help arrived.  Sadly, it was too late to save her mortal body, but autopsy confirmed that Antonia’s efforts had maintained her purity.

Pope John Paul II beatified Antonia Mesina on Sunday, October 4, 1987, proclaiming her a martyr of virtue and purity.   Today we pray for all those who have been victims of violence or crime, that we may be renewed by the Lord, through the gracious intercession of Our Blessed Mother, Mary.

Look down on us, O Mary!
We are united before you in prayer, as you wished us to be:
daughters of Charity, the queen of virtues.
Look down on us with the benevolence of a mother.
We ask your help and protection, peace and pardon,
apostolic zeal and fidelity to the Church,
for ourselves and all who work in society
with an upright heart and good will.

Many are the afflictions of the world,
the miseries of the poor,
the violence performed by those who do not know how to love,
and are carried away by brutal passions.
And we do not know how to see the warnings from heaven
in the calamities that are increasing
and the sacrifice of defenseless and innocent victims.
But you, Mary, are the Mother of Mercy and Forgiveness.
Ask grace for us! Ask God for us and for all,
an increase of faith, the comfort of Christian hope
and the communion of evangelical charity.

May the Father grant the Church unity and testimony of life;
to society, a fraternal spirit,
understanding of every need, sorrow and aspiration;
to Religious families newness of life in your light, O Mary,
in the Spirit of the love of your Son Jesus, our Savior.

May 15: Saint Isidore the Farmer

Posted by Jacob

Today, May 15, marks the feast day of a saint remembered for his hard work, humility, and visions, Saint Isidore the Farmer (also known as Isidore the Laborer, 1060-1120). Saint Isidore, along with his wife, Saint Maria de la Cabeza (due to the custom of carrying her head in procession to bring down rain in times of drought-- who is sometimes venerated with her husband on May 15, but is commemorated on her own feast day in September), are the patron saints of farmers, good harvest, and humble work in the fields of the Lord.

Saint Isidore was born in Madrid, Spain, where he worked the majority of his life in the fields. At a very young age—when Isidore was just old enough to carry a hoe—he entered the service of a wealthy Spanish landowner, John de Vergas, and proceeded to work humbly and diligently in the fields for the remainder of his life (60 years!). He married his wife, Maria Torribio, also humble and holy, and together they had one son, who died as a child. Following his death, both Isidore and Maria vowed to live lives of perfect continence.

Isidore lifted all that he did to the Lord, praying each day behind the plow. He rose early each morning, attending Mass, and spent the majority of his days off from work praying in the churches of Madrid. His master was accepting (but suspicious) of his devotion, even when Isidore would arrive late to work as time escaped him in prayer! When his master questioned him, Isidore replied: "Sir, it may be true that I am later at my work than some of the other laborers, but I do my utmost to make up for the few minutes snatched for prayer; I pray you compare my work with theirs, and if you find I have defrauded you in the least, gladly will I make amends by paying you out of my private store." His master, still suspicious, followed Isidore to church one morning, and then back to the fields. Holy legend recounts that upon this occasion (and others), angels came down from Heaven, dressed in white and working the plow behind teams of snow-white oxen in his absence. The angels were three times as productive as a man, so how could an employer complain! Running to Isidore, Senor Vergas questioned him as to who they were. Isidore replied, “Sir, I work alone and know of none save God to whom I look for strength." He continued, "I know, sir, that I am your servant but I have another Master as well, to Whom I owe service and obedience." Recognizing his sanctity, generosity, and humility, and having witnessed these miraculous events, Senor Vergas treated Isidore with the utmost respect throughout his life, looking to him for spiritual guidance and advice.

Isidore and Maria were both known for their love of the poor, and the miraculous food they could produce for those who were starving. Saint Isidore is further remembered for his great kindness to the animals of the farm, concerned with their proper treatment, and treating them as creatures of the Lord. In times of drought an famine, Isidore was known to miraculously produce food for not only people, but for large flocks of birds and other animals. Additional miracles attributed to the intercession of Saint Isidore include bringing back to life the daughter of his master following an accident, the appearance of a miraculous well of fresh water during drought, and many others.

Isidore died at the age of sixty and his body was interred in a local cemetery. Forty years after his death, his body—found to be incorrupt-- was transferred from the cemetery to the church of St. Andrew. King Philip III of Spain was cured of a deadly disease by touching the relics of the saint, and subsequently, he replaced the old reliquary with a costly silver one. Numerous additional miracles of healing have been reported at his tomb.

The lives of Saints Isidore and Maria remind us that humble work and charity are sanctified by God. The simple faith of these two saints, and their concern and love for all of God’s creatures around them, allowed the working of miracles. God’s own angels descended from Heaven to assist in their daily chores, chores that they lifted to the Lord in prayer, humility, and obedience. We are reminded that the work we undertake in our everyday lives—however menial it may seem to us—is important in the eyes of the Lord. Our everyday toils are opportunities for us to life our gaze to Heaven, offering the work of our hands as joyful praise to God as His obedient, humble servants.

O God, Who didst give Thy people blessed Isidore as a minister of eternal salvation, we beseech Thee; grant that we may deserve to have him as an intercessor in heaven, whom we had as a teacher of life on earth.

O God, who taught Adam the simple art of tilling the soil, and who through Jesus Christ, the true vine, revealed yourself the husbandman of our souls, deign, we pray, through the merits of blessed Isidore, to instill into our hearts a horror of sin and a love of prayer, so that, working the soil in the sweat of our brow, we may enjoy eternal happiness in heaven, through the same Christ our Lord.

O God, through the intercession of St. Isidore, the holy Farmer, grant that we may overcome all feelings of pride. May we always serve You with that humility which pleases You, through his merits and example.

O holy Isidore and Maria, continue to intercede for those who work the fields and grow our daily food. Ask our Merciful God to continue to bless their efforts to produce abundant food and fiber.

We ask your prayerful aid in the cultivation of the fields of our hearts. Help us through God’s grace to grow in holiness and accept the grace-filled opportunities God gives to us in our work, our marriages and our everyday lives.

O holy Isidore, intercede with our Lord to send angels to aid us in opening our hearts so that one day, enlightened by God’s wisdom and having grown in God's likeness, we may join you and all the Saints in Heaven.

O Most Holy Trinity, you have created us out of your love. We pray that we will always recognize your presence in all that we are, all that we do, and all that we will become.

Help us realize that your Message of Salvation is found in all of Creation -- the fields, the plants, living water, fresh air, all creatures, love for one another.

We await in joy and hope for the day, O Merciful God, when we will be united with You in your Heavenly Kingdom. Amen.