Archive for the ‘St. Faustina’ Category

Visiting Our Eucharistic Lord

July 11, 2017

In every Catholic church around the world, Jesus sits within the tabernacle like a king upon his throne, waiting to receive anyone who would approach him with their praises, thanksgivings, and requests. Whether they stop inside for a just few minutes or spend a full “holy hour” in his presence, our Lord delights in the companionship of those who lovingly seek his audience.

St. Josemaria Escriva said, “When you approach the tabernacle, remember that He has been waiting for you for twenty centuries.” Escriva’s contemporary, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, remarked, “People ask me: ‘What will convert America and save the world?’ My answer is prayer. What we need is for every parish to come before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in holy hours of prayer.

In order to facilitate more of these beautiful and powerful encounters with Christ, St. Paul’s Church has begun keeping its church doors open until 7:00 PM daily. Come by to visit the Lord after work or school, or amidst your errands around town. (Please contact Father if you are willing to keylessly lock the church during the seven o’clock hour on particular evenings each week.)

St. Faustina Kowalska records Jesus telling her, “Behold, for you I have established a throne of mercy on earth — the tabernacle — and from this throne I desire to enter into your heart. I am not surrounded by a retinue of guards. You can come to me at any moment, at any time; I want to speak to you and I desire to grant you grace.” He waits for you. So come, let us adore him.

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Stories from a Saint’s Diary

April 19, 2017

St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938) was a nun in Poland who experienced visions of Jesus Christ later deemed by the Church as worthy of belief—though (as like all private revelations) not required to be believed by the faithful. The Divine Mercy Image, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and Divine Mercy Sunday all stem from of her apparitions. St. Faustina detailed her experiences in a diary she kept from 1934 until her death. It is an episodic but fascinating read. These are just some of her stories:

●  Once [at age 19] I was at a dance with one of my [biological] sisters. While everybody was having a good time, my soul was experiencing deep torments. As I began to dance, I suddenly saw Jesus at my side, Jesus racked with pain, stripped of His clothing, all covered with wounds, who spoke these words to me: How long shall I put up with you and how long will you keep putting Me off? At that moment the charming music stopped, [and] the company I was with vanished from my sight; there remained Jesus and I. I took a seat by my dear sister pretending to have a headache in order to cover up what took place in my soul. After a while I slipped out unnoticed, leaving my sister and all my companions behind and made my way to the Cathedral of Saint Stanislaus Kostka. It was almost twilight; there were only a few people in the cathedral. Paying no attention to what was happening around me, I fell prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament and begged the Lord to be good enough to give me to understand what I should do next. Then I heard these words: Go at once to Warsaw; you will enter a convent there. I rose from prayer, came home, and took care of things that needed to be settled. As best I could, I confided to my sister what took place within my soul. I told her to say goodbye to our parents, and thus, in my one dress, with no other belonging, I arrived in Warsaw. (Diary paragraphs #9-10)

●  Once, I desired very much to receive Holy Communion, but I had a certain doubt, and I did not go. I suffered greatly because of this. It seemed to me that my heart would burst from the pain. When I set about my work, my heart full of bitterness, Jesus suddenly stood by me and said, My daughter, do not omit Holy Communion unless you know well that your fall was serious; apart from this, no doubt must stop you from uniting yourself with Me in the mystery of My love. Your minor faults will disappear in My love like a piece of straw thrown into a great furnace. Know that you grieve Me much when you fail to receive Me in Holy Communion. (#156)

●  Once the Lord said to me, Act like a beggar who does not back away when he gets more alms [than he asked for], but offers thanks the more fervently. You too, should not back away and say that you are not worthy of receiving greater graces when I give them to you. I know you are unworthy, but rejoice all the more and take as many treasures from My Heart as you can carry, for then you will please Me more. And I will tell you one more thing—take these graces not only for yourself, but also for others; that is, encourage the souls with whom you come in contact to trust in My infinite mercy… (#294)

●  Once, when I was visiting the artist who was painting the [Divine Mercy] image, and saw that it was not as beautiful as Jesus is, I felt very sad about it, but I hid this deep in my heart. When we had left the artist’s house, Mother Superior stayed in town to attend to some matters while I returned home alone. I went immediately to the chapel and wept a good deal. I said to the Lord, “Who will paint You as beautiful as You are?” Then I heard these words: Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in My grace. (#313)

●  On the evening of the last day before my departure from Vilnius, an elderly sister revealed the condition of her soul to me. She said that she had already been suffering interiorly for several years, that it seemed to her that all her confessions had been bad, and that she had doubts as to whether the Lord Jesus had forgiven her. I asked her if she had ever told her confessor about this. She answered that she had spoken many times about this to her confessors and… “the confessors are always telling me to be at peace, but still I suffer very much, and nothing brings me relief, and it constantly seems to me that God has not forgiven me.” In answered, “You should obey your confessor, Sister, and be fully at peace, because this is certainly a temptation.” But she entreated me with tears in her eyes to ask Jesus if He had forgiven her and whether her confessions had been good or not. I answered forcefully, “Ask Him yourself, Sister, if you don’t believe your confessors!” But she clutched my hand and did not want to let me go until I gave her an answer, and she kept asking me to pray for her and to let her know what Jesus would tell me about her. Crying bitterly, she would not let me go and said to me, “I know that the Lord Jesus speaks to you, Sister.” Since she was clutching my hand and I could not wrench myself away, I promised her I would pray for her. In the evening, during Benediction, I heard these words in my soul: Tell her that her disbelief wounds My heart more than the sins she committed. When I told her this, she began to cry like a child, and great joy entered her soul. I understood that God wanted to console this soul through me. Even though it cost me a good deal, I fulfilled God’s wish. (#628)

●  After Holy Communion today, I spoke at length to the Lord Jesus about people who are special to me. Then I heard these words: My daughter, dont be exerting yourself so much with words. Those whom you love in a special way, I too love in a special way, and for your sake, I shower My graces upon them. I am pleased when you tell Me about them, but don’t be doing so with such excessive effort. (#739)

●  February 6, [1937]. Today, the Lord said to me, My daughter, I am told that there is much simplicity in you, so why do you not tell Me about everything that concerns you, even the smallest details? Tell Me about everything, and know that this will give Me great joy. I answered, “But You know about everything, Lord.” And Jesus replied to me, Yes, I do know; but you should not excuse yourself with the fact that I know, but with childlike simplicity talk to Me about everything, for My ears and heart are inclined towards you, and your words are dear to Me. (#921)

Checkout Catholic Movies

July 14, 2010

Did you know the St. Vincent DePaul Society just two blocks from St. John’s (location) has a library of Christian movies, books, and CD’s free for checkout? Pick up the films below for a spiritually edifying and entertaining evening:

The Ten Commandments (1956, VHS, 219 min)
Moses faces Pharoah demanding “Let my people go!”
+ Charleton Heston, Yul Brynner, and a cast of thousands
+ Regarded as the greatest Biblical epic of all-time
+ In *Technicolor*!

For another film about a great shepherd of God’s people, I recommend…

John Paul II (2005, DVD, 180 min)
A dramatic biography about Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II
+ Regarded as the best drama about the Great Pope
+ Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride) plays the young Wojtyla
+ Jon Voight stars as Pope John Paul II
— The latter half is better; I suggest skipping to the conclave

For another film about a character who becomes a new man midway into the film, I recommend…

Becket (1964, VHS,  150 min)
St. Thomas Becket’s conversion makes him King Henry II’s enemy
+ Good dialogue, verbal sparring
+ A great excommunication scene
+ Teaches that personal conversion is possible

For another film with another English Thomas crossing with another King Henry, I most highly recommend…

A Man for All Seasons (1966, DVD, 120 min)
St. Thomas More’s conviction makes him King Henry VIII’s enemy
+ Won Best Picture, Actor, Director, Cinematography
— This title can be mistaken for another starring Charlton Heston
+ Brilliant dialogue, drawn from More’s own words
+ My all-time favorite film, it’s almost perfect…
— Gives More a pride at heart inconsistent with his character
+ Teaches the awesomeness and the attractiveness of virtue

For another film about religious conviction not bowing to the politics of the age, I recommend…

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005, DVD, 117 min)
A German girl is arrested for writing against the Nazis during WWII
— Subtitled
+ The lead actress is captivating
+ Great verbal combat throughout the interrogation and trial
— Ends sadly, like A Man for All Seasons
+ Shows times can cloud truth, but that conscience still speaks

For another film about another Christian who heroically resisted the Nazis, I suggest…

Maximilian: Saint of Auschwitz (1995, VHS, 76 min)
St. Maximilian Kolbe is a knight for Mary in a darkened age
+ All roles are interestingly played by one man, Leonardo Defilippis
— The recurring theme music is not bad, but overplayed
+ Satan’s speeches are enjoyable in a Screwtape Letters way
— A tad too preachy by way of the masonic, communist, Nazi foes
+ Presents the value and power of Marian devotion

For another film by Defilippis about a saint whose faith was a spiritual romance, I suggest…

John of the Cross (1997, VHS, 60 min)
A Spanish mystic seeks God and reform with St. Teresa of Avila
+ Leonardo and Patti Defilippis play all of the major roles
+ Gives a taste of John’s spirituality, quoting his Spiritual Canticle

For another film by Defilippis about a Carmalite Doctor of the Church, I suggest…

Therese (2004, DVD 96 min)
Thérèse of Lisieux’s story, the most popular saint of modern times.
+ Anyone with a fondness for her will gain from this movie
+ The lead actress, whom Providence led to this production, shines
— Criticized for not being as good as it should have been
— One gets no clear sense of her simple, “Little Way” spirituality
+ This film increases one’s love for this great, little saint

For another film about a holy nun’s experiences in the convent, I recommend…

Faustina (1994, DVD, 75 min)
Jesus tells a Polish nun, St. Faustina, to proclaim Divine Mercy
— Subtitled
+ A work of art of profound depth
+ Her love for Jesus and message of mercy are communicated well
+ Teaches that Jesus’ Mercy embraces all willing to receive it

For another film about supernatural phenomena and the value of suffering, I recommend…

Padre Pio: Miracle Man (2000, DVD, 214 min)
St. Padre Pio bears Christ’s wounds, reads souls, & battles Satan
— Subtitled; English is optional but its voices and dialogue are poor
— Long, 3 hours and 34 minutes, presented in two halfs.
+ Great scenes, like the actresses’ confession and His spiritual battles
+ Teaches, among other lessons, that holiness is manly

For another film about a Franciscan priest with amazing spiritual gifts, I recommend…

The Reluctant Saint: The Story of St. Joseph of Cupertino (1962, VHS, 104 min)
An unintelligent man rises to the heights of sanctity
— Black and white
+ Joseph is played handsomely and enduringly
+ Rather funny, if you are in a fun mood
— Runs about fifteen minutes longer than it needs to
+ Shows a little of the old ritual for exorcism, which is interesting
+ Teaches that God takes the weak and makes them strong

For another film about a simple mystic who was doubted in their day, I recommend…

The Song of Bernadette (1943, DVD or VHS 158 min)
St. Bernadette Soubirous’ sees Mary appear in Lourdes, France
— Black and white
+ Jennifer Jones, at her most innocent, in a Best Actress role
+ Vincent Price (Thriller) plays the skeptic
+ Teaches that God is still real and found among the small

For another film about the life of the Visionary of Lourdes, I recommend…

The Passion of Bernadette (1989, VHS, 106 min)
St. Bernadette Soubirous’ life after entering the convent
+ Sydney Penny reprises her role as Bernadette
+ Shows that humility is beautiful

For another film about a great French saint, I recommend…

Monsieur Vincent (1947, DVD, 114 min)
St. Vincent DePaul grows in his understanding and care of the poor
— Subtitled
— Black and white
+ Gritty, yet beautiful
+ Well crafted characters
+ Teaches us to love our neighbor as ourself

For another film about charity and our resposibility to the poor, I highly recommend…

Entertaining Angels: The Dorthy Day Story (1996, VHS, 112 min)
Dorthy Day’s journey from communist to Catholic humanitarian
+ Stars Moira Kelly (The Cutting Edge) and Martin Sheen
+ Heather Graham (Austin Powers 2) does surprisingly good acting
— Contains an historical, non-graphic nor explicit abortion subplot
+ Teaches that life’s meaning is in committed personal life

For another film with an American, pro-life message, I highly recommend…

Bella (2006, DVD, 91 min)
A man with emotional scars helps a friend through a crisis
— Not a true story
+ Rich characters
+ Shows that life is beautiful, in every sense of the word

For another film about escaping prisons of the heart, I recommend…

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002, VHS, 131 min)
A falsely-condemned Frenchmen escapes prison and plots revenge
— Not a true story
+ Stars Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) charmingly
+ Richard Harris (Harry Potter) portrays a good Christian
+ In a great scene, a fight to the death has a surprising end
+ Explores the Problem of Evil vs. Providence in a powerful way

For another film about an imposter who gradually becomes a real hero, I recommend……

Meet John Doe (1941, DVD, 122 min)
A feel good movie about American values and the little guy
+ This film is in the public domain; click above to watch it now
— Black and white
— Not a true story
+ Directed by Frank Capra (It’s A Wonderful Life)
+ Teaches about the enduring strength of the little guy

Real Presence — Corpus Christi

June 7, 2010

I once came across a story on the internet that went something like this: A Catholic man is giving his Muslim friend a tour of his Catholic Church. He shows him the holy water at the door and how we bless ourselves with it. He points out the stained glass windows and the stations of the cross, explaining how these present the majore events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. He shows him the statues and the crucifix and finally the tabernacle.

“That’s the tabernacle. Inside that box is the Eucharist. It looks like flat, white bread, but it is truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, our Savior and God.”

The Muslim man looks at the tabernacle, pauses in thought, looks at his friend, and says, “If I believed that God was really present in that box, I wouldn’t let my face come off of the floor.”

Whose approach towards God is the right one: the Catholic’s or the Muslim’s? When we come up to receive communion we do not crawl up on our faces, but should we?

Christians relate to God as we do because of the way Jesus Christ related to us. With the incarnation, God came to us on our level, as one of us. Jesus did not want his disciples to regard him with terror. He invited them to be His friends, and to relate to Him as their Brother. He taught us to call His Father “our Father,” and he made us temples the Holy Spirit. Jesus gives us unprecedented intimacy with God and we are “free to worship Him without fear.”

Yet, there is some truth in the saying that familiarity breeds contempt. When we come to Mass and receive the Eucharist, how well do we prepare ourselves to receive Him? How much do we do to appreciate this priceless gift? This morning I would like to give some ways we can do this better.

Before we even leave home there is a way for us to prepare ourselves. Think of it this way: if you were going to be on TV and seen by a millions, what would you wear? If the president of the United States (whoever he happened to be) were coming to your town, and you were chosen to officially welcome him, how would you dress? At Mass we are not seen by millions, but by billions of angels and saints, and we more than just the president of the greatest country in the world, we meet the King of the universe. When we come to Mass we should wear our Sunday best.

When you arrive at church before Mass begins resist the temptation to just wait out the time until the priest comes out. Take the opportunity to prepare yourself with prayer. At the beginning of the liturgy there are some things we do to tune us into the liturgy, such as the penitential rite and the opening prayer, but if you have not prepared yourself before the Mass begins these will probably just flash by you.

When you get to your pew, say to Jesus, “Lord, I’m sorry for my sins. Please have mercy on me. Please help me to be as fully present as you are present. Help me to receive everything you want me give me in this Mass. I raise up my intention for this Mass you along with all I love and everything I am. Thank you for calling me to know you, and for everything.”

During the Mass, especially when Jesus is on the altar, his throne, we should give Him our full attention. Religious devotion is about more than mere appearances, but shouldn’t we expect a fervent devotion inside to be reflected on the outside?

When I was growing up and beginning to look at my faith more critically, I wondered if we really believed in the Real Presence. I mean, the symbolic understanding, that’s easy—like how the flag reminds us of America, but do we really, really think that’s Him? My CCD teachers insisted that’s what we believed and I found scriptural and historical evidence that Christians had always believed it.  Yet, when I looked around at other people at Mass it didn’t seem like they believed they were in the presence of God. Then an important thing happened. A new pastor came to our parish and when he celebrated the Mass you could tell that he believed he held something (Someone) precious in his hands. That priest was Father Paul Gitter, whom you know well.

During the Mass, give God your whole self. Express your devotion. Whenever you sing, don’t just do it because that’s what everyone else is doing—make it an offering, a gift, a prayer. When you are praying to the Father, raise you eyes to Him. When you are speaking to Jesus, turn you eyes to Him. Smile at Him in the cup and on the paten. Celebrate every Mass as if it were your first, your last, and your only.

After you receive Jesus in the Eucharist, open yourself to receive everything that He wants to offer you. In His private revelations to St. Faustina Kowaska (through whom we received the Divine Mercy devotion celebrated throughout the Church) Jesus said many people receive Him and then forget about Him. “My great delight is to unite Myself with souls,” He said. “When I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not even pay any attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things. Oh, how sad I am that souls do not recognize Love! They treat Me as a dead object” (Diary of St. Faustina, #1385) After you receive Him, and kneel down in the pew, ask that you would receive from Him every grace He wants to give you with Himself. And remember to tell Him, “Thank you,” and, “I love you.” It’s the least that we can do.

When we leave church after Mass, let us not think that we have left Gift we have received behind us. Jesus also told St. Faustina that when we receive the Eucharist He remains in our souls until we receive Him again, provided that we do not cast Him out through serious, grave sin. He remains with us and provides what we need to serve Him.  We only have to remain open and mindful towards Him.

Jesus feeds us His Body and Blood because He wants us to be extensions of Himself. We the Body of Christ. We are His arms, His hands, and His eyes, ears, and mouth in the world. First, He transforms the bread and wine. Next, He transforms us. And then, He transforms the world. When ‘the Mass is ended,’ that’s just the beginning.

In a few moments we are going to receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Let us prepare ourselves and open ourselves to receive this most incredible Gift.

Thursday, 27th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

October 8, 2009

In the illustration used by Jesus in the Gospel, a person goes to their neighbor’s house and calls inside for a needed favor. The father inside is not immediately obliging. The door’s locked and his sons and daughters are already at rest. But Jesus says, ‘…If the father does not get up… because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of the person’s persistence.’

Why will the father end up doing the favor in the end? Because of the father’s children. Imagine all the kids in there, in the dark and in their beds, with the neighbor at the door, knocking: *pounding* “Daaad.” *more pounding* “Dad, do whatever they want!”

The father in this story stands for our Father in heaven, who can sometimes seem reluctant in answering our prayers. The children in the story are the saints in heaven, the sons and daughters who rest in the Father’s house. 

What is it like for the souls in heaven to hear our prayers? Perhaps the experience St. Faustina of the Divine Mercy on earth gives us a glimpse into the experience of the saints in heaven. In the Diary of St. Faustina, a book which I highly recommend for spiritual reading, the Polish nun records this:St. Faustina of the Divine Mercy

“It has happened to me for some time now that I immediately sense in my soul when someone is praying for me; and I likewise sense it in my soul when some soul asks me for prayer, even though they do not speak to me about it. The feeling is one of certain disquiet, as if someone were calling me; and when I pray I obtain peace.”

This reaction makes perfect sense, for how could a good person hear of another’s heartfelt needs and not insist that our Father act? Or how could a saint remain at rest while someone knocks at the door of heaven? Knowing this, how then should we pray? Imagine what doors would open for us, if only we would persist in knocking? Or imagine what gifts would we receive, if only we would try asking? So knock, and ask, boldly.