St. Rita of Cascia

Our saint of the week is one whose whole sanctity is based on her great virtue of hope. St. Rita of Cascia was born in 1381 in Roccaporena, Italy. She lived a very difficult life on earth, but she never let it destroy her faith or her hope.

Although she had a deep wish to enter religious life, her parents arranged her marriage at a young age to a cruel and unfaithful man. Because of Rita’s prayers, he finally experienced a conversion after almost 20 years of unhappy marriage, only to be murdered by an enemy soon after his conversion. Her two sons became ill and died following their father’s death, leaving Rita without family.

She hoped again to enter the religious life, but was denied entrance to the Augustinian convent many times before finally being accepted. Upon entry, Rita was asked to tend to a dead piece of vine as an act of obedience. She watered the stick obediently, and it inexplicably yielded grapes. The plant still grows at the convent, and its leaves are distributed to those seeking miraculous healing.

For the rest of her life until her death in 1457, Rita experienced illness and an ugly, open wound on her forehead that repulsed those around her. Like the other calamities in her life, she accepted this situation with grace, viewing her wound as a physical participation in Jesus’ suffering from His crown of thorns. Through it all she never last hope. Although her life was filled with seemingly impossible circumstances and causes for despair, St. Rita never lost her hope in the loving mercy and help of God.

Her feast day is May 22. Countless miracles have been attributed to her intercession. St. Rita of Cascia, pray for us.

St. Philip Neri

At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate.

As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome.

At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way.

Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services.

The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.)

Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.

(Source)

St. Paul of the Cross

Born in northern Italy in 1694, Paul lived at a time when many regarded Jesus just as a great moral teacher nothing else.

After a brief time as a soldier, he turned to solitary prayer, developing a devotion to Christ’s passion.

Paul saw in the Lord’s passion a demonstration of God’s love for all people. In turn that devotion nurtured his compassion and supported a preaching ministry that touched the hearts of many listeners.

He was known as one of the most popular preachers of his day, both for his words and for his generous acts of mercy.

At the age of 26 – Paul founded the Congregation of the Passion, whose members combined devotion to Christ’s passion with preaching to the poor and rigorous penances.

Known as the Passionists, they added a fourth vow to the traditional three of poverty, chastity, and obedience, to spread the memory of Christ’s passion among the faithful.

Paul of the Cross died in Rome at the age of 81.

Quote:

“Take the holy crucifix in your hands, kiss its wounds with great love, and ask Him to preach you a sermon. Listen to what the thorns, the nails, and that Divine Blood say to you. Oh! What a sermon.” (St. Paul of the Cross)

Why the Crucifix?

Why the Crucifix?

Why do Catholics use, wear, and display crucifixes if Jesus has resurrected from the dead? Listen in as Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox discuss this popular question.

Catholicism Live! was a weekly series connecting issues of the faith and Church teachings to daily life produced by Pilgrim Center of Hope from 2000-2019.

St. Henry de Osso

Our Saint of the Week this week is a very special friend for Pilgrim Center of Hope, St. Henry de Osso. Our building at Pilgrim Center of Hope was formerly a convent of the Teresian Sisters, and St. Henry de Osso was the founder of their community. In fact, as you drive onto the property, you see a life-size bronze sculpture of St. Henry!

He was born in Spain in 1840, and had a love for God and others at an early age. As a boy, he would pause while playing with friends, to accompany the parish priest as he brought Holy Communion to the sick.

He himself became a priest, and was deeply inspired by the life and spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila. He began founding different groups for every ages, all based on her spirituality—friendship with Jesus in prayer that leads to action. An example is “The Friends of Jesus Club” for children, to teach them to love Jesus, to talk to Him every day, and to do whatever He asks.

Father Henry wrote numerous publications, many of which were directed to women, because he believed in the power of impacting women to transform communities and their love for God and one another. In January 1896, he wrote the following words in St. Teresa’s Magazine:

“My Jesus and my all. Let me love you or die, rather, to live and die loving you above everything else. Do not let me leave this world without having loved you and made you known and loved as much as I can. Give glory, honor and riches to others, but give me, your servant, only your love and that will be enough. My Jesus and my all. Praised be Jesus my love.”

He died January 27, 1896. Upon hearing of his death, a friend, Father Francisco Marsal wrote, “The servant of God, Henry de Ossó, was the most faithful model of Jesus Christ that I have ever seen. His speech, conduct and actions always made me think: That is how Christ acted.”

St. Henry de Osso was canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II on June 16, 1993; just six days before Pilgrim Center of Hope was officially consecrated.

 

The Name of Jesus

Did you know that the month of January in the Church is traditionally dedicated to the Most Holy Name of Jesus?

The name of Jesus is radical! On one hand, proclaiming the name of Jesus can call down the power of God and drive out demons. On the other hand, many people today use the name of Jesus as they curse.

This reminds us of an amazing story from one of our Pilgrim Center of Hope pilgrims. When her superior used the Lord’s name in vain during a meeting, our pilgrim confronted her boss (who was not a Christian) and told her how much this offended her. She also assured her, “I will be praying for you.”

Time passed, and our pilgrim grew closer to her Holy Land pilgrimage journey. She approached her boss and said, “I’m going to the Holy Land soon, and I would like to leave a prayer intention for you at the Wailing Wall.” Her boss replied, “Not just there; pray for me everywhere you go.”

So, our pilgrim did just that: At every holy site we visited—most of which are related to the life of Jesus, she prayed.

Not long after our return from pilgrimage, her boss approached our pilgrim and said, “Thank you for praying for me. You helped me to discover God.” She joined the Church!

The name Jesus means, in Hebrew: “God saves.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us: “At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his identity and his mission. Since God alone can forgive sins, it is God who, in Jesus his eternal Son made man, ‘will save his people from their sins’.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 430)

This month, try a simple prayer:
Speak the name, “Jesus,” slowly, and with reverence.

St. Mary Magdalene

(Feast Day: July 22)

Mary Magdalene’s life has been a source of interest for two thousand years. There are many women named Mary who are mentioned in Scripture, but Mary Magdalene is distinguished by the name of a place: Magdala, a city on the Sea of Galilee. Some scholars argue that this does not necessarily mean that she was born there, but at least she lived there for a significant time.

Early Life:

When she first 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 and 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.

Contributer to the ministry of Christ:

Mary Magdalene was a wealthy woman with sufficient resources to be able to support Jesus in such a significant way that she is always listed first among the group of Jesus’ supporters (Mt 27:55-56, Mk 15:40-41, Lk 8:2-3). In ancient times, just as today, the biggest donor’s name is on top of the list. Based on socio-economic analysis of Gospel language and contemporary life at that time, author Christoph Wrembek argues that today she would be ranked as a millionaire.

Constantly Loyal:

Above all, we should remember Mary Magdalene as the “Constant Woman” who remained close to Christ and His Mother even at the lowest point of their lives: Jesus’ torture, crucifixion, and death. In this extreme adversity, Mary Magdalene remained faithful; we are told that she stood at the Cross (Mt 27:56; Mk 15:40; Lk 23:49; Jn 19:25), and was present through Jesus’ death and burial (Mk 15:47). Even after his burial, Mary Magdalene would not leave her Lord. She came to the tomb early in the morning on the third day, while it was still dark, but saw that the stone across the entrance had been rolled away. “So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, ‘They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.’” Imagine her fear and confusion! After Peter and the beloved disciple came and went from the empty tomb, Mary remained there, weeping. (Jn 20:1-10)

The first witness of the Resurrection:

As she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. (v. 11-16) Jesus called her by name, and she recognized him as her teacher: Jesus teaches Mary Magdalene a new way of relating to him, saying to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (Jn 20:17) She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. (Mk 16:10-11)

Benedict XVI said “Every Christian relives the experience of Mary Magdalene. It involves an encounter which changes our lives: the encounter with a unique Man who lets us experience all God’s goodness and truth, who frees us from evil not in a superficial and fleeting way, but sets us free radically, heals us completely and restores our dignity. This is why Mary Magdalene calls Jesus ‘my hope’: he was the one who allowed her to be reborn, who gave her a new future, a life of goodness and freedom from evil. ‘Christ my hope’ means that all my yearnings for goodness find in him a real possibility of fulfillment: with him I can hope for a life that is good, full and eternal, for God himself has drawn near to us, even sharing our humanity.”

Catholic Women’s Conference – An Introduction

Why does Pilgrim Center of Hope (PCH) present the Catholic Women’s Conference (CWC) each year? Why is CWC so relevant today?

Join PCH Co-Founder & Co-Director Mary Jane Fox and event organizer Nan Balfour as they talk about the origins of CWC. They will share about the forethought, planning, and prayer that goes into selecting relevant topics and securing dynamic speakers year after year.

As part of this special presentation – leading up to CWC 2018 – Mary Jane and Nan will spoke with two previous conference attendees who have been enlightened, encouraged, and transformed by their CWC experiences: One a wife and mother, who was inspired to teach catechism at her parish and Catholic homeschool her four children; the other a licensed professional counselor whose marriage and professional life have been refreshed as the result of CWC.

Some of the topics of discussion include:

  • The main reason for founding CWC – to bring a message of hope to women
  • How CWC helps women cope with many family, financial and societal burdens that are placed on them
  • How women have been healed, renewed, reconciled and given spiritual direction
  • The goal to provide spiritual tools that teach, encourage, and challenge women to be exactly who God created them to be
  • The overall mission of leading women to discover and learn about their true personal dignity in God

 

Listen here!

Come to Me

This week’s recommended spiritual tool is the book “Come to Me,” by Mary Jane Fox & Nan Balfour

This book is a spiritual prayer companion for you, and offers just some of the many ways our Mother Church guides us on our earthly journey. It is designed to draw you closer to Christ and help you live out your vocation to womanhood in the days of your weeks, over the obstacles in your way, and through the desires of your heart.  It is written to teach, encourage, and inspire women in our unique and unrepeatable dignity, and to emphasize the importance of women in the Church, in our families, in the world, and—most significantly—to our God!

To purchase a copy of Come to Me, stop by the Pilgrim Center of Hope (7680 Joe Newton St, San Antonio, TX 78251) Monday through Friday, 8:30 am-5:30 pm. Call us at (210) 521-3377.

Copies can also be bought at the Catholic Women’s Conference.

St. Andre Bassette

Learn more about St. Andre Bassette’s life  – https://www.holycrosscongregation.org/news/st-andre-believe-pray-serve-and-trust-god/

Special thanks to Lucha Ramey, Director of Communications for the Congregation of the Holy Cross for help and permission in using photos and helping us promote this inspiring saint. Photo (c) courtesy of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Rome. Used with permission.