Recently in Mary and the Saints Category

Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel


Happy Feast Day to all Carmelites, especially the one in our family!

i'd like to say we purchased our new Our Lady of Lourdes statue to honor the Marian feast day, but in truth, we ordered it weeks ago and it just arrived today. But we did, um, put it out front to celebrate the feast day.

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I'd be happy to tell you the maker, so long as you promise to order it through your local Catholic book/gift store if you have one. They don't direct ship to consumers anyway.

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Why Our Lady of Lourdes? Well, although I do have somewhat of a devotion to Lourdes (details here), the main reason is that it seems odd to buy a 27" statue that is going to rest on the ground and have Mary looking down. This one was one of the few where she is actually looking up.

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Devotion to St. Joseph


(Yes, I know this is four days late, but the timing is purely coincidental.)

In college I was a member of "The Household of St. Joseph", a group of men considering the priesthood. We prayed nightly a devotional prayer to St. Joseph, which I think is a wonderful prayer. A few months ago, I searched fruitlessly for the version we used.

Today I listened to Father Z's podcaZt of March 19, and in it he reads the prayer in Latin and English. I put my transcription gloves on and punched it out. Here it is, copyright laws be danged (at least until somebody's lawyer calls me) and with somewhat arbitrary line breaks:

To you oh Blessed Joseph do we come in our tribulation,

and having implored the help of your most holy spouse,
we confidently invoke your patronage also.

Through that charity which bound you
to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God,
and through the paternal love
with which you embraced the Child Jesus,
we humbly beg you to regard graciously
the inheritance which Jesus Christ has purchased by his blood,
and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.

Oh most watchful guardian of the Holy Family,
defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ.

Oh most loving father,
ward off from us every contagion of error and corrupting influence.

Oh our most mighty protector,
be propitious to us
and from heaven assist us in our struggle with the power of darkness,
and as once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril,
so now protect God's holy church
from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity.

Shield too each one of us by your constant protection,
so that supported by your example and your aid,
we may be able to live piously to die holily
and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven.


Here it is as a google document, formatted for printing, though unfortunately google docs have a limited range of fonts (you get what you paid for). Here it is in the intended font, but as a pdf. Pick your poison.

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My crappy Lourdes story

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Lourdes.jpgToday is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the apparition of the Virgin Mary to St. Bernadette Soubiroux, a French peasant girl, over 5 months in 1858. Mary called herself "The Immaculate Conception," confirming the Pope's proclamation of that dogma just four years earlier. She appeared near a cave and directed Bernadette inside, where Bernadette discovered a previously unknown spring.

As far as Marian apparitions go, Lourdes is fairly uncontroversial. There are no secret messages inspiring conspiracy theories, no railing against her as a symbol of colonialism (I won't even get into Medjugorje). About 5 million pilgrims flock there every year out of devotion and to seek healing from the fountain, which has reportedly worked countless miracles. That number swelled to 8 million last year for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions.

I've long been somewhat of a francophile going back to 4th grade when we did country reports and I chose France. I then took French for eight years and it was even my major for a few semesters in college. Furthermore, though my Catholic family wasn't particularly devout, the closest parish to us when I grew up was Our Lady of Lourdes in Chicago, an absolutely gorgeous church which I attended for a while as an adult after I embraced the faith of my Baptism. And spiritually, I owe a great deal to Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity (soon may she be canonized!) and St. Francis de Sales.

So you would be right to think that Lourdes, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and St. Bernadette would hold a special place in my heart (though, to my shame, I still have not yet seen Song of Bernadette).

You might further think that, given the chance, there's no way I would pass up a chance to visit Lourdes -- to pray for my loved ones at the grotto and collect as much Lourdes water as I could carry.

And you'd be right, I would -- if I had another chance.

In the summer of 1994 I traveled to Paris for a week and then stayed two weeks in Tarbes, a small French town near the Pyrénées mountains, with a family who then sent their son (my "correspondent," Paul) to stay with my family in Chicago for three weeks -- all part of an annual exchange program my high school participated in.

One morning, Paul was arguing with his mom over breakfast (they argued in Spanish so I couldn't understand -- they were Spanish immigrants, the irony being that everybody in my extended family but me speaks Spanish). I had no idea what they were arguing about and finally Paul acquiesced to whatever she was asking and we were off on a road trip.

We took about a half hour trip further into the Pyrénées and when we got there Paul asked me if we had seen Versailles when we were in Paris. I said I had and he commented that Versailles was a very beautiful castle, a castle for a king and for diplomats. He said that I was now going to see un chateau très fort. And he was right, we visited a huge castle, parts of which date back to the 11th century. He showed me the narrow slits from which archers could fire without getting hit and pointed out various other nifty features. Then I think we ate lunch and headed home. On the return trip I remember thinking, I'll never get those three hours of my life back.

We got back to the house and the mother, with an eagerness I now find a bit tragic, asked me how the trip was. When I told her about the castle, she first looked puzzled, but then turned to Paul, who was avoiding her look. Another, much more furious argument immediately erupted. I'd had enough of this bizarre day, so I went to my room and let them fight it out.

The next day, I told some of the other students from my school about it, and one of them said something vague about a religious shrine and special water. It would be another 5 years until I discovered that I had been to Lourdes and had not visited any of the holy sites.

I don't exactly blame Paul. He and I got along fairly well (better, if I remember correctly, than any of my friends got along with their correspondents), and if he had told me we were going to a religious shrine, I probably would have talked him into taking me to the cafe where we used to drink demi-pêches (beer w/peach syrup) and check out girls.

Still, I'VE BEEN TO LOURDES WITHOUT KNOWING IT. Every February 11 I think about this fact and my heart breaks a little bit. I used to think about what would have happened if I'd had my conversion there in Lourdes instead of 4 years and a lot of stupid mistakes later. I'm a bit calmer about that now, but yet I can't help but lament that I WAS WITHIN 3/4 MILES OF THE GROTTO AND I WAS PISSED TO BE THERE.

So there, my friends, is my crappy Lourdes story. The story of an incurious dope who missed his chance to visit one of the holiest shrines in the world.

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I am your merciful mother



Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen of the Americas, Protector of the Unborn, pray for us!

The story, from
The apparitions, from

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For all the Saints


Miracles approved for Bl. Damien of Molokai to be canonized and for St. Therese's parents to be beatified.

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St. Paul


I was thinking about doing a post on the Pauline Year, but I don't think one can beat Amy Welborn's post here.

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Pauline Year


This weekend marks the start of "The Pauline Year" declared by Pope Benedict XVI to deepen the Church's devotion to and understanding of St. Paul. This H2O News report interviews the Archpriest of St. Paul Outside the Walls Basilica in Rome and includes video of the basilica, my favorite church in Rome.

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Fr. Mark is running a novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help that begins today. Go now!


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Mother Teresa and Mary


Zenit has an interview with Missionary of Charity Father Joseph Langford, author of a new book about how Mother Teresa's faith sustained her during decades of darkness.

Q: How would you describe Mother's periods of darkness, and what do you think about the recent controversies over her "dark night?"

Father Langford: Contrary to reports in the press, Mother Teresa did not suffer a "crisis" of faith. In fact, her struggle was not with faith at all, but with the "loss of feeling" of faith, with the loss of a felt sense of the divine. As she stepped out of the convent and into the slums of Calcutta, what had been her usual consolation in prayer abruptly ended.

Though she would not understand it until later, she was being asked to share the same inner darkness, the same trial of belief suffered by the poor and destitute -- and to do so for their sake, and for the love of her Lord.

She was allowed to feel as though God was absent, and at first she agonized at the disconnect between her emotions and her belief -- though never did her lack of feeling become lack of faith.

In fact, her dark night revealed the hidden depth of Mother Teresa's faith in a way that any lesser challenge could not. Her darkness not only allowed her to exercise her extraordinary faith to the full, it allowed us -- modern disciples too often of "little faith" -- to discover the true dimensions of which faith is capable, even under duress, even in the night.

She would want to encourage us to do the same in our own Calcutta, in our own dark night: Instead of allowing our trials and pain to become a prison, we can, as she did, make our pain a bridge into the pain of others, a bond of solidarity, a catalyst for charity.

Q: How did her relationship with Mary assist her in these times of trial?

Father Langford: Just as the Israelites were given a column of fire to lead them by night, so Mother Teresa was given her own guiding light through the night of faith, in the person of the Virgin Mary.

The gift of Jesus' mother -- given to St. John on Calvary, and to disciples and saints through the ages -- strengthened Mother Teresa in carrying her own pain, and in tending to the pain of the poor.

Our Lady would help her to not only believe in the night, but to love in the night -- to transform the mystery of the cross, both within her and around her, into seeds of resurrection.

As it was Our Lady who brought St. John, alone among the Twelve, to stand faithfully at Calvary, so it was Our Lady who would bring Mother Teresa through the sea of suffering opened before her, that she might shine the light of God's love on the poor.

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Byzantine Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Francis and Clare

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Instead of looking at each other, Clare and Francis looked in the same direction, and we know what "direction" that was in their case. Clare and Francis were like two eyes always looking in the same direction. Two eyes are not just two eyes, I mean, not just one eye repeated. Neither of the two eyes is just an extra or a spare eye. Two eyes looking at an object from different angles give depth and relief to the object, enabling us to enfold it in our gaze. That is how it was for Clare and Francis.

From this beautiful homily by Fr. Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household.

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Van Thuân


The cause for beatification for Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân is officially open.

Today, the Holy Father received officials from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which Cardinal Van Thuân headed after being expelled from Vietnam. Zenit translated his address. Here's a snip:

Cardinal Van Thuân was a man of hope; he lived hope and spread it among everyone he met. It was because of this spiritual energy that he resisted all his physical and moral difficulties. Hope sustained him as a bishop when he was isolated for 13 years from his diocesan community; hope helped him to see beyond the absurdity of the events that happened to him -- he was never put on trial during his long imprisonment -- a providential plan of God. The news of his sickness, a tumor, which led to his death, reached him almost at the same time as his elevation to cardinal by John Paul II, who held him in great esteem and affection. Cardinal Van Thuân loved to repeat that the Christian is a man of hour, of the now, beginning from the present moment to welcome and live with Christ's love. In this ability to live the present moment his intimate abandonment in God’s hands shines through as does the evangelical simplicity which we all admired in him. Is it possible -- he would ask -- that he who trusts in the Father would refuse to let himself be embraced in his arms?

Dear brothers and sisters I welcomed with profound joy the news that the cause for beatification of this singular prophet of Christian hope has begun and, while we entrust this chosen soul to the Lord, we pray that his example will be for us a valuable teaching. With that, I bless you all from my heart.

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Mother Theresa: still helping the poor


I first found out about the struggle that she had in a yoga school, there in MA, actually, because somebody made a reference to it, and ever since then I've been very interested in hearing more about her as a human being so that this book is out, I really, really am looking forward to having it. I'm not Catholic and actually I'm pretty much non-religious altogether, but this, just the knowledge of this and now hearing this discusion, this legitimizes to me more the Catholic faith and God, actually, so... I.. it's so... I'm a litle but emotional about it because it really is like a blessing that this has been made public.

Arisulus (sp?) from Rhode Island, near tears, on this radio show.

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Mother Theresa


One of the best analyses of Mother Theresa's long, long dark night comes from "gay and somewhat skeptical Catholic" Richard Rodriguez in this interview with The Nation.

The other thing is that America is a deeply Protestant country founded by Puritans who believed that financial success was a sign of God's favor... Americans have always breathed in this value: The best thing to be is middle-class. There is something shameful about being poor... And self-inflicted. We discuss poor white people as "trash."

The preoccupation with the illegal immigration and the price that the middle class is paying for these peasants coming from Latin America--because that's what they are: peasants. They are a drag on our national identity and a burden to us. Yet we sing our songs on Sunday because we are good pious Americans who believe in the middle-class God.

We are presented with an Albanian nun who spends her life--tormented by doubts--nonetheless serving the very poor, the people we will not touch....

We mock a life like this because we do not understand it. We do not understand the life that is given to poor people, because we are given only to the middle-class fascination and we have told ourselves that we--the middle class--are God's select. So what do we do when we meet a woman of great doubt, great faith, great durability, who spends her life on her knees, wiping the faces of the dying and dead?

The whole article, even his lamentations against Church teaching, is interesting and thought-provoking.

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St. Augustine


Happy Feast Day to Me!

I have to run, so here's a link dump to celebrate Saints Monica (yesterday) and Augustine (today):

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"Do you need anything more?"


Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio has a pleasant little article in the May/June issue of Lay Witness on Our Lady of Guadalupe. It's not very long - it's just a brief witness of his own devotion to the Virgin of Tepeyac and a call for all of us to take her as a patroness.

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On Mary's Virginity

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Forgive me while I state the obvious:

When Archangel Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive and bear a child, this should not have been a big deal. Obviously the part about "Son of the Most High" would have filled her with awe, but not the part about actually getting pregnant. After all, Mary was engaged, so that is pretty much the normal course of things: get married, have sex, make babies. But to Mary, there was something wrong in all of this. She asks the angel, "How can this be since I do not know man?"

If, prior to this encounter, Mary had planned on having marital relations with Joseph, her question would make no sense. The angel had told her she was about to conceive, not that she already had conceived. The only way her response to Gabriel makes sense is if Mary does not plan on having sex with Joseph.

Now, surely most people who have read Luke closely already knew this, but somehow this evaded me for about 5 years after (re-)becoming Catholic. It's not that I didn't accept Mary's post-nuptial virginity, just that I never read this passage in that light - and I surely read it many times on my own, not to mention the several times I would have heard it in the liturgy or encountered it written meditations or lectures.

But maybe it's not so obvious. Many of our Protestant brethren, many of whom accept Scripture as inerrant, castigate us Catholics for denying that Jesus had full blood-siblings. What gives?

Anyway, what brought this to mind is that Edward Sri addressed this very issue at greater length in this essay from a recent issue of Lay Witness Magazine.

To use an analogy: If someone said to me, "You will die of lung cancer in the future," and I replied, "How can this be since I do not smoke?" my response would not simply describe a present circumstance ("I don’t happen to be smoking right now"). Rather, it would indicate a long-term intention on my part to avoid smoking ("Smoking is not something I ever intend to do"). Analogously, Mary’s expression "I do not know man"—when seen in the wider context of the Annunciation account—further suggests her commitment to remain a virgin for the rest of her life.
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Charles of St. Andrew


Zenit has a brief biography of Charles of St. Andrew, who will be canonized on Sunday, making PF very happy.

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Month of Mary


During May, Fides News is going to celebrate by publishing a series of 18 articles on Mary's apparitions at Lourdes followed by 6 articles on Marian shrines in Africa.

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Venerable Mama Bosco


John Bosco's mother has been decreed to be venerable. Check out the story from Zenit.

Margaret Occhiena was born on April 10, 1788, in Caprigli, Italy. She lived at home until she married Francis Bosco. Later she moved to Becchi.

After her husband's premature death, Margaret, 29, had to raise her family alone at a time of starvation.

She took care of her husband's mother and of the latter's son Anthony, while educating her own sons, Joseph and John.

She supported her son John in his journey toward the priesthood. At age 58, she left her little house of Colle and followed her son in his mission among the poor and abandoned boys of Turin.

There, for 10 years, mother and son united their lives in the beginnings of the Salesian Work. She was Don Bosco's first and principal cooperator. She contributed her maternal presence to the Preventive System. Thus she became the "co-founder" of the Salesian family.

What a beautiful story!

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Mama-Lu's Etsy Shop

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This page is a archive of recent entries in the Mary and the Saints category.

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