Woman of Grace: St. Frances Cabrini (1850 – 1917)

Through prayer we discover God’s perfect plan for our lives. Prayer is also how we find the courage to embark upon that plan, and the perseverance to bring it to completion. Such was the case with Mary Francesca Cabrini. This humble Italian woman founded the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, traveled to the United States to serve fifty thousand Italian immigrants by providing schools and orphanages for their children, and eventually established sixty-seven houses of sisters. Thus, she became the spiritual mother to many.

In the homily of her canonization, Pope Pius XII said,  “Undoubtedly she accomplished all this through the faith which was always so vibrant and alive in her heart; through the divine love which burned within her; and finally, through constant prayer by which she was so closely united with God from whom she humbly asked and obtained whatever her human weakness could not obtain.”

Mother Cabrini was born in Lombardy, Italy, the youngest of thirteen children, only four of whom survived. Although sickly and weak throughout her childhood, Frances was enamored with stories of missionaries, and dreamed of becoming one herself. At the age of twenty-two, she was turned away from a convent because of her health, so she went to a nearby orphanage to teach. After working for three years with the Sisters of Nazareth, who ran that institution, they allowed her to make her religious vows with them and she was appointed superior of the orphanage.

In 1888, Mother Cabrini received approval to start her own religious order, and was asked by Pope Leo XIII to go to America to care for the many Italian immigrants who had flocked to New York. Upon making the arduous journey in 1889, she was met with a lack of support, a language barrier, and a population discouraged and alienated from its Catholic roots. Nevertheless, she persisted in her call despite the many obstacles, and she began working wherever she could. Her first orphanage began with seven orphans.

Many stories are told about Mother Cabrini’s great faith and trust in God, which emanated from a life of prayer. In one story, Mother Cabrini was in need of property for an orphanage in Seattle. As she slept one night, Mother dreamed of a beautiful house that sat upon a big hill. The next day, Mother and two of her sisters were walking when a chauffeur-driven limousine drove by. Mother Cabrini flagged down the limo and asked for a ride back to the convent.

The woman riding in the limo was pleased to assist the sisters, and as they rode along, Mother Cabrini shared with the lady the dream she had the night before. When the party arrived at the convent, the lady told her: “Mother Cabrini, that house you dreamed of is mine. I never thought of parting with it, but if I may be allowed to enter your Holy House for a moment and receive a glass of water in the name of Our Lord, your little orphans shall have their home with my blessing.” Later, when asked how she had received such a beautiful piece of property, Mother Cabrini simply said, “I paid for it with three treasures: my love, a dream, and a glass of water in His Name.”

Truly, these words of Pope Pius XII aptly describe Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, who proved that great things are possible for one who is led by the Spirit of God: “Although her constitution was very frail, her spirit was endowed with such singular strength that, knowing the will of God in her regard, she permitted nothing to impede her from accomplishing what seemed beyond her strength.” For more information about this wonderful saint, go to www.cabrini.com.

Faith in Action

Through prayer, Mother Cabrini discovered God’s will and received the grace she needed to persevere despite challenges and reversals. How have I seen this in my own life? How can I change my outlook concerning failure or rejection, so that I can see God working His holy will through them?

This is an except from the Women of Grace Foundational Study Program. To learn more, visit womenofgrace.com/studies

Father Mitch Schools the Faithful on Pachamama

Father Mitch Pacwa believes the inclusion of a fertility goddess image in the Amazonian Synod ceremonies was the source of “major scandal” in the Church and explains why this should never have occurred.

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His time is short

November 13

“Rejoice then, you heavens
and those who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you
with great wrath,
because he knows that his time is short!”

-Revelation 12:12


For Reflection:

The Satan’s time on earth is short but Sacred Scripture tells us that he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. When you consider this, how does it motivate you to utilize your spiritual weapons — the rosary, the sacraments, prayer, etc.?

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Parental Authority and Gender Dysphoria in Children

The case of a Texas boy whose mother wants him to be treated as a girl against his father’s will, has raised many thorny issues, not least of which is the proper role of parental authority when it comes to addressing gender dysphoria in children.

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A single hour

November 12

“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”

-Matthew 6:27


For Reflection:

How much time is wasted on worry? The grace we expend on worry and regret robs us of the grace we need for the present moment. Entrust your cares to the Lord and live today for the glory and honor of God.

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Judge Tosses New HHS Conscience Protection Laws

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A day in thy courts

November 11
“How lovely is thy dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yea, faints
  for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
  to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
  and the swallow a nest for herself,
  where she may lay her young,
at thy altars, O Lord of hosts,
  my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in thy house,
  ever singing thy praise!
Blessed are the men whose strength is in thee,
  in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the valley of Baca
  they make it a place of springs;
  the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
  the God of gods will be seen in Zion.
O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
  give ear, O God of Jacob!
Behold our shield, O God;
  look upon the face of thine anointed!
For a day in thy courts is better
  than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
  than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
  he bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
  from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
  blessed is the man who trusts in thee!”
-Psalm 84
For Reflection:
We enjoy visiting new cities — the art, architecture, parks, walkways, museums, restaurants, etc. But as the Psalmist exclaims here, “a day in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” Spend a few minutes recalling some of your favorite “earthly cities” with an appreciation that heaven far surpasses anything that you have ever experienced.

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Every knee shall bow

November 10
“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise[b] to God.’ So each of us shall give account of himself to God.”
-Romans 14: 10-11
For Reflection:
Imagine standing before the judgement seat of God.
Will it be a day of joy or sorrow or both? Take those sins and regrets to confession with you on your next visit to the sacrament.

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A thousand hells

November 9
“The torments of a thousand hells are nothing in comparison to the anguish of being banished from everlasting bliss and the vision of God.”
-St. John Chrysostom
For Reflection:
The chief misery of hell is being excluded from the beatific vision for all eternity. What a pity it would be for us if this were our end. Ask God for the grace today to be counted as one of the elect who will enjoy His presence for all eternity.

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Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

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