Weekly Inspiration from St. Gianna Molla

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“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His goodness.”

Gianna Beretta Molla was the first married laywoman to be declared a saint. (though there are many sainted widows). She was also the first canonized woman physician — a professional woman who was also a “working mom” four decades ago, when this was unusual.

She considered her work in the field of medicine as a “mission”.  She was also very active in her Catholic community. With simplicity, she harmonized the demands of mother, wife, doctor, and her passion for life.

Gianna and her husband, Pietro, had two children. When expecting their third child, complications arose. A few days before the child was due, she told her husband and the doctors: “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child—I insist on it. Save the baby.”

Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of 28 April, among unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you,” Gianna died.  She was 39 years old.  Her daughter, Gianna Emanuela, is today a physician herself, and involved in the pro-life movement. Gianna’s husband and their last child, Gianna, were present at the canonization ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in 2004.

Our work can also become our “mission”; by asking the Lord to sanctify it and imploring the Holy Spirit to guide us in all decisions and actions.  This can also bring true happiness. Gianna was a Wife, Mother & Physician; let us learn from her life and, with the help of God, we, too, can bring harmony into our family life and friends.

Feast Day:  April 28

Weekly Inspiration from St. Andre Bessette

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This week, we share with you some inspiration from a dear friend of Pilgrim Center of Hope, Brother Andre Bessette, a humble Holy Cross Brother:

If one were to ask any Canadian for the name of the person who built [the Oratory of St. Joseph], he would be told, ‘Brother Andre.’ Yet, this little lay brother’s name does not appear on any of the official records of the building of the Oratory. He was only a porter – a doorman – at a college owned and operated by his religious congregation. He was a little man, both in size and, if one were to judge by appearance, in importance. He was not a priest; therefore he could neither offer Mass nor preach. Because of poor education, he did not know how to read or write until he reached the age of twenty-five.

How is it, then, that this little brother is known and venerated all over the world as the little saint built built the Oratory of Saint Joseph in Montreal? Because of his prayer and humility, God used him to heal thousands of people who flocked to the Oratory.

Though Brother Andre was given the grace to heal others, he was constantly sick himself. He suffered from stomach illness all of his life. As a result, he could eat little more than a mixture of flower and watered-down milk, or sometimes break soaked in the same. To him, these sufferings were an opportunity for reaching greater sanctity. As we shall see, his final sickness provided him with many such opportunities. When asked if he was in great pain, he said, “Indeed I am, but I thank God for giving me the grace to suffer; I need it so much!”

When we are undergoing trials because of sickness, financial problems, or relational difficulties we should pray for the grace, not only for a solution, but to recognize how God might use the trial to strengthen our faith and for the benefit of another soul according to his plan.

Source: “Saint André Bessette: Montreal’s Miracle Worker” by Brother Andre Marie (Catholicism.org)

St. Andre, pray for us to have the humility to seek the will of God in all things.

Optional Memorial: January 6

Weekly Inspiration from St. Irenaeus

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St. Irenaeus was a disciple of St. Polycarp, who was a disciple of St. John the Apostle.

“The writings of St. Irenaeus entitle him to a high place amongst the fathers of the Church, for they not only laid the foundations of Christian theology but, by exposing and refuting the errors of the gnostics, they delivered the Catholic faith from the real danger it ran from being leavened by the insidious doctrines of those heretics.” – Butler’s Lives of the Saints

St. Irenaeus lived at the time when many Christians were being martyred for their faith, and he is celebrated as a martyr. His faith was his life. His most famous quote is, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive; fully alive consists in beholding God.”

We are only fully alive when we are in the state of grace and intimately united to Jesus Christ in our prayer and sacrifices. We give God glory when we are faithful to what he has revealed to us through the Church and the Scriptures, which enables us to experience joy and peace, even in the most difficult circumstances.

We live in a confused world, in which many people reject the truths for which the martyrs died. We should ask for the intercession of St. Irenaeus when we are tempted to compromise the faith that has been handed down to us.

Feast Day: June 28

Weekly Inspiration from Bl. Charles de Foucauld

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Charles de Foucauld was born in France in 1858; he lived in Paris for some time. After inheriting money from his grandfather, he began living a reckless life and ceased to be a Christian.  His cousin, Marie, lived near his apartment in Paris.  She was a deeply spiritual young woman.  Through her example, Charles began to change and rediscovered his faith in God and love for Christ. Regarding his conversion, Charles said,

The moment I realized that God existed, I knew I could not do otherwise than to live for Him alone.

He returned to the sacraments and lived as a Trappist monk. He was ordained a priest and went to Algeria to take up the life of a hermit in the desert.  His witness of charity, patience, and his deep faith, became a witness to those around him. While attempting to warn two Arab soldiers of danger from a group of rebels, Charles was murdered.

The life of Charles de Foucauld was a seed which had to die before it sprouted.  Today, religious congregations exist based on his example: Jesus Caritas, Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of Jesus, and Little Sisters of the Gospel.  They witness their Christian life in charity and patience.

His Prayer of Abandonment:

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:   I am ready for all, I accept all.  Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.  I wish no more than this, O Lord.  Into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve,
and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.

Feast Day: December 1

Suggested Reading:

  •  Journey of the Spirit by Cathy Wright
  • Two Dancers in the Desert: The Life of Charles De Foucauld by Chalres Lepetit

 

Weekly Inspiration from St. Faustina

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Faustina lived in the early 1900’s in Poland.  She entered the Convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Kracow, Poland.

The Lord Jesus appeared to her in the Convent and called her “Apostle & Secretary of Divine Mercy.”  He had chosen her to write his message of mercy for the world; so all would know of the mercy of God.  He also instructed her to have an image painted, in her own words:

“In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, ‘paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'”

Among many messages of the Lord to Sr. Faustina, He asked that the Sunday after Easter Sunday be dedicated to His Divine Mercy.  Here are the words of our Lord concerning the Feast of Divine Mercy to St. Faustina:

“Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.” (Diary 300)

“This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies.” (Diary 420)

St. Faustina was obedient to the Lord; thus the image was painted, the Feast of Divine Mercy was instituted into the Liturgical Calendar of the Church (thanks to Pope John Paul II), and today her Diary is translated into many languages for people throughout the world.

God loves you and waits to bestow His mercy on you. An excellent way to start is by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation for a new beginning.

Feast Day: October 15

Weekly Inspiration from St. Mary Magdalene

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“I have seen the Lord!”  – John 20:18

Mary was from Magdala, a village along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was an industrious fishing village exporting dry, salted fish to Rome during the first century.  When she met Jesus, Mary had major problems in her life; the Gospels tell us that Jesus cast seven devils out from her (Mk 16:9, Lk 8:2).   She encountered Jesus, was healed by him, and discovered in him her Teacher, Friend, Lord and Savior. Not only did she become his disciple, but also one of the strongest benefactors of his work.

She followed Jesus, stood at the foot of the Cross during His crucifixion, and was among the women who approached the Tomb after His burial.  When she found the tomb empty, she wept, she hadn’t understand what had happened to His body.  It was then that the Lord appeared to her and called her name, “Mary!” She went to the disciples to inform them, “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18).

Mary Magdalene had a dark past.  She encountered Jesus and believed He was the Christ.  She was present when Jesus was tortured, at his crucifixion, and at his death (Mt 27:56; Mk 15:40; Lk 23:49; Jn 19:25, Mk 15:47).

Today, we recognize her as “Apostle to the Apostles,” a woman of faith, a Saint of the Resurrection.  We, too, can encounter Jesus by calling out to Him from our heart.  So many people through the years have done this and have experienced a peace, a consolation.

Jesus, I turn to you believing you are the Son of God and our Savior.  Look into my heart Lord, bless me and lead me to experience your peace.  Thank you, Jesus.

Feast Day in the Holy Land: Saturday after Easter Sunday

Universal Feast Day: July 22

Inspiration from St. Teresa of Calcutta

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“Surrender is true love.  The more we surrender, the more we love God and souls.”

These words of St. Teresa of Calcutta are good for us to take to heart as we begin Holy Week.  These next few days leading to the Sacred Triduum can be a good opportunity to take a few moments of silence each day and meditate on this quote of Mother Teresa.  What does it mean to surrender?  In very simple terms, it is to turn ourselves towards God and choose to follow Him, as we ask Him for the graces needed to follow Him and to desire His will in our lives.

A simple way to begin: Take 3-5 minutes daily to be in silence with the Lord.  Let Him speak to you.  You may begin your silence with these words: “Lord, I love you and adore you.  Fill my heart with your love.”

Feast Day: September 5

Inspiration from St. Bridget of Sweden

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As we approach Holy Week during this Season of Lent, we are reminded of the Passion of Christ: what Christ went through from the time of His last Passover Meal (the Last Supper), the time in the Garden of Gethsemane, His trial, leading to the Crucifixion.

St. Bridget, born in Sweden, had visions of Christ crucified since the age of 7.  These led her to a deep love for Jesus, resulting in a life of prayer and service.  After her husband’s death, she lived a strict life of a penance, giving her land and buildings to found monasteries for men and women.  This group became known as the Order of the Bridgetines, which are still in existence today.

She made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where she visited the holy sites related to the Lord’s Passion in Jerusalem.

St. Bridget’s visions of the Lord’s Passion have been compiled; one of the prayers given to her by the Lord is that of the “Fifteen Prayers.”

The Church celebrates her feast day on July 23.

Action: As you approach Holy Week, read the New Testament scriptures related to the Lord’s Passion.  Imagine yourself there in the Garden of Gethsemane, in Jerusalem, throughout His Passion, and think about what you are feeling and thinking.  This meditation may lead you to a deeper experience of Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

Inspiration from St. Joseph

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“Saint Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care. May he always guard, protect and enlighten families.” – Pope St. John Paul II

Joseph, chaste husband of Mary is given the highest compliment in the Bible – he was a just man.

“By saying Joseph was just, the Bible means that he was one who was completely open to all that God wanted to do for him.  He became holy by opening himself totally to God.” – Catholic Online

Let us thank God for St. Joseph, who loved God, was obedient to his calling as husband of Mary and protector of Jesus.  Ask St. Joseph to pray for you, for your family, for the men you know, that he may pray for us to also be open to God’s plan for us.

The Church celebrates his feast day on March 19.

St. Peter, Judas and You: A Lenten Reality Check

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Pope Saint John Paul II said, “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures, we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son Jesus.”

Those consoling words should inspire us to lift the burden of salvation off of our shoulders and place it instead where it belongs; on God’s love for us. Our Lord Jesus tells us the same when He says, “Come to Me all you who are burdened and I will give you rest,” (Mat 11:28.)

During this Lenten season, as we draw closer to Easter and our Lord’s Passion, I have been thinking about this quote from the late great pope and about two people in the life of Jesus: St. Peter and Judas.

I find it intriguing that the one who Jesus accused of being an obstacle to Him (Mat 16:23,) received the keys to His Kingdom while the one Jesus called friend, (Mat 26:50) took his own life.

This all says more about Peter and Judas, and subsequently each one of us, than it does about Jesus, who being God, remains as is written in Hebrews 13:8, “The same yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

Why such opposite outcomes for Peter and Judas?

Why did Peter, who continued to stumble by denying our Lord three times, go on to lead Jesus’ disciples, becoming the first pope? Why did Judas’ life end so bleakly?

Pope Saint John Paul II answers when he says the response to our Father’s love resides in, “our real capacity to become the image of His Son Jesus.”

Capacity is defined as, “the ability to receive.” Real capacity, then, is the ability to receive reality; to receive Truth.

Jesus told Peter the truth of who he was: the keeper of the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (Mat 16:19) and the rock on whom He would build His Church, (Mat 16:18) despite his weaknesses and failures. Peter chose to believe the Word, receive His love from the Father, which is the Holy Spirit, and act in His Power, His Mercy and His Love by repenting and accepting God’s forgiveness.

Jesus gave Judas the truth of who he was regardless of his weakness and failures. How merciful God is to respond to this bitter kiss, even as forces descend to lay their hands upon Him, by reminding Judas of who he was chosen to be: Jesus’ apostle and friend. Judas responds by refusing to receive God’s reality; turning from His offer of forgiveness and instead choosing to be his own judge, jury and executioner.

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“The Kiss of Judas” by Giotto

How about you?  Do you believe God’s Mercy and Love is for you?

When I am tempted to think like Judas, I like to recall the story of our first pope’s last earthly encounter with Jesus.

As St. Peter fled Roman persecution, he met Jesus on the Appian Way. “Lord, where are you going?” he asked to which the resurrected Jesus responded, “I go to Rome to be crucified again.”  Very ashamed that he once again failed to image Jesus, St. Peter turned back to follow His Lord, this time ending up with Him in Eternity. The Church of Domine Quo Vadis (“Lord, where are you going?”) has been built on the very spot of this encounter.

The ability to receive God’s Love and Mercy is always offered to us. If you fail in a real capacity to image Jesus, then receive Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  If you find it difficult to look beyond your weaknesses and faults, then spend time with our Lord in an Adoration chapel and ask Him how He sees you. I promise, you will be joyfully surprised!

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Annibale Carracci’s 1602 painting “Peter’s Meeting with Christ”

Not sure where to start? The Pilgrim Center of Hope answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter Him through pilgrimages (including Rome!) and conferences. We can help you.  Our life is a journey and we are here to join you wherever you are on this path to Eternity. Contact us at PilgrimCenterofHope.org, call us at 210-521-3377 or visit us at 7680 Joe Newton St., San Antonio, TX 78251.