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

The “Monica” Method: How to Evangelize Your Loved One

The next two days mark the feasts of two great saints of the Church, a mother and a son, whose lives give testimony to a sure-fire method of evangelizing those we love.

St. Monica (August 27) is the mother of St. Augustine (August 28), though Augustine was no saint when Monica began her earnest intercession. At that time he was a pagan and a member of the heretical Manichean sect. He was known to be a carouser who lived with a woman to whom he had fathered a child. A brilliant mind, he was “devoted” to his views and his lifestyle, and had no intention of converting to the Catholic faith.

St. Monica was distraught about her son’s dissolute ways and decided to do something about it. She prayed. And in the end, her prayers won the soul of her son.

What was it that made St. Monica’s prayers so effective? I think five strategies are primarily responsible. Perhaps you can implement them as you seek to evangelize those you love.

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The dragon was angry with The Woman

May 14

“Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.”

–Revelation 12:17

 

Today’s Reflection

Who are “the woman’s offspring” and what does this indicate about the need for vigilance?

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Feast of Our Lady of Fatima

May 13
“The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary.”

–St. Irenaeus

Today’s Reflection: 

Why was Mary’s obedience so pivotal in salvation history?

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Life on earth is a warfare

May 12
“Recognize it or not, our life on earth is a warfare (see CCC, 409), and every day and age from the beginning of time tells the story of dour combat with diabolic forces, a war between good and evil. This battle originated in the heavens before the dawn of humanity but was not confined there. It spilled onto the earth, placing all generations of humanity in a perpetual
state of general quarters.”
 – Johnnette S. Benkovic and Thomas K. Sullivan
Today’s Reflection
How do I struggle with good and evil in my life? In what ways can I combat evil by prayer of the Rosary, fasting, and almsgiving?

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Docility of heart

May 11
“What do you want of me?”
– Lucia dos Santos to Our Lady of Fatima
Today’s Reflection
Ponder Lucia’s question to Our Lady of Fatima? How is her docility of heart something we can emulate in our own lives?

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Peace is a gift

May 10
“Peace is a gift of God, not the work of politicians.”
– Father Petrus Pavlicek
Today’s Reflection
How can we be more receptive to the peace that only God can give?

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Idleness

May 9
“It is not permissible for anyone to remain idle.”
-Christifidelis Laici, 3
Today’s Reflection
How can you become more engaged in the life of the Church and your Christian faith?

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The final confrontation

May 8
“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society, or wide circles of the Christian community, realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the Gospel and the anti-gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence; it is a trial which the whole Church must take up.”

– Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II)

 

Today’s Reflection

Why are so many blind to the spiritual battle that is being waged around us? How can we help the scales to be removed?

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Say the Rosary Every Day

May 7

“Say the Rosary, to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.”

– Our Lady of Fatima to the children at Fatima

 

Today’s Reflection

Our Lady of Fatima asked us to pray the rosary for peace in the world. Why is her message more relevant today than ever before? How does this enliven your commitment to praying the Rosary every day?

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