The seeds of the Little Flower, the beloved Saint Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), were planted in unquestionably holy soil. The sanctity of her family is evidenced by the holiness of her parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, both canonized saints of the Catholic Church. All five of their daughters dedicated their lives to Christ by entering religious Orders; four, including Therese, as Carmelites.
I think it is safe to say that a mystique of sorts has evolved surrounding the beloved man popularly known as Padre Pio. The fact that since 2002, he has been numbered among the canonized saints of the Catholic Church, at times appears to be a mere afterthought.
Jesus’ words recorded in Sacred Scripture continue to speak to us just as clearly today as to the eager crowds who listened to Him on the hills of Galilee. The subject of prayer, which Jesus addressed often and practiced consistently throughout His time on earth, is one eminently worthy of revisiting. The Gospels make it clear that, by word and example, Jesus modeled for us the importance of a close personal relationship with the Father we share in common.
We find ourselves now well into that lengthy liturgical period termed Ordinary Time. For some of us, there is a tendency to take this season at its name, to treat these weeks as a ho-hum, colorless gap bridging the feasts of Corpus Christi and Christ the King. Give us Lent and Advent, when we can focus on the tough stuff!
This August marks the 140th anniversary of an event of the highest spiritual significance for the people of Ireland, and in fact, for the faithful of the world.
August 11th, the Feast of Saint Clare of Assisi (1194 – 1253), offers an opportunity to explore the life of a woman of shining virtue. Her religious vocation was a direct outgrowth of that of her contemporary and mentor, the beloved Saint Francis (1182 – 1226).
For Franciscans worldwide, August 2nd marks a very important, special feast day – the Feast of Our Lady of Angels. The title of Our Lady which this feast commemorates has a direct connection to Saint Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1226) and to the Religious Orders which he founded. The “little portion,” or Portiuncula, brings to mind significant events which resound in our hearts as we celebrate this feast day once again.
“[Jesus] entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.’ The Lord said to her in reply, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her’” (Lk 10:38-42).
On this feast day of Sts. Joachim and Anne, being a wife and mother myself, I find it quite natural to feel myself being drawn to Saint Anne and the problems she must have encountered after the birth of her daughter, particularly following that world-changing event, the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38).
If we could have traveled to a poor sharecropping farm in central Italy early in the 20th century, we would have seen a humble building – formerly a cheese factory – sheltering two families of tenant farmers.