“Mondays with Mary” – The Marian Prayer of Saint Gemma Galgani

This coming Wednesday, April 11, is the memorial for one of the great young saints of the Catholic Church, and I imagine a saint that many of you don’t know well. In recent years, I have come to know a little more about this female saint of the late eighteenth century, but still have much to learn. I have not written anything on her as of yet but hope to in the next few days. The saint in which I am referring to – Saint Gemma Galgani.

Although she did not live as long as St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), she died at the age of 25, there are some rather striking similarities in their lives. Most notably, they are both considered mystics, both were given the Stigmata, and both battled demons. I would love to spend more time on writing about her life, and as I’ve just said, hope to write more this week, however, today’s post is about providing you one of her Marian prayers. Like so many of the saints before her, St. Gemma had a true and deep devotion to Our Lady, which in turn, led her to have a deep passionate love for Jesus Christ. Our Lady interceded for Gemma and led her repentant soul to the great merciful heart of Jesus Christ.

Sassoferrato – Virgin Mother

Here is the Marian prayer of St. Gemma Galgani –

Jesus entrusted me to His Mother,
and charged me to love her very much.
You are then my heavenly Mother.
You will be towards me
like any mother towards her children.
You see me weak?
You will have mercy on my weakness.
You see me poor in virtue?
You will help me.
O my Mother,
do not forsake me!
My dearest Mother,
do not abandon me!

Saint Gemma Galgani…Pray for Us. 

“Mondays with Mary” – Pope Benedict XVI on the Importance of Saint Joseph (and some reflective thoughts of my own)

If there is one individual who I have focused on a lot in my writing over the years, it is Saint Joseph. Including today’s post, the total is now at 10. Saint Joseph has always played an important role in my life. My middle name is Joseph, so from the beginning of my life he has been watching over me, he is one of saints I first learned about in my adolescence, and he remains a steadfast figure in my life today, most especially now as I prepare for marriage and fatherhood.

In the past, many of my posts about St. Joseph have focused on the writings on Pope St. John Paul and his words, but for today’s “Mondays with Mary”, I am going to turn to the words of Pope Benedict XVI. Like his predecessor, Benedict XVI had a great devotion to the foster-father of Jesus, most especially because his Baptismal name is Joseph (Josef).

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, 19 March, is the Solemnity of St Joseph, but as it coincides with the Third Sunday of Lent, its liturgical celebration is postponed until tomorrow. However, the Marian context of the Angelus invites us to reflect today with veneration on the figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s spouse and Patron of the universal Church.

I like to recall that beloved John Paul II was also very devoted to St Joseph, to whom he dedicated the Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos, Guardian of the Redeemer, and who surely experienced his assistance at the hour of death.

The figure of this great Saint, even though remaining somewhat hidden, is of fundamental importance in the history of salvation. Above all, as part of the tribe of Judah, he united Jesus to the Davidic lineage so that, fulfilling the promises regarding the Messiah, the Son of the Virgin Mary may truly be called the “son of David”.

The Gospel of Matthew highlights in a special way the Messianic prophecies which reached fulfilment through the role that Joseph played:  the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (2: 1-6); his journey through Egypt, where the Holy Family took refuge (2: 13-15); the nickname, the “Nazarene” (2: 22-23).

In all of this he showed himself, like his spouse Mary, an authentic heir of Abraham’s faith:  faith in God who guides the events of history according to his mysterious salvific plan. His greatness, like Mary’s, stands out even more because his mission was carried out in the humility and hiddenness of the house of Nazareth. Moreover, God himself, in the person of his Incarnate Son, chose this way and style of life – humility and hiddenness – in his earthly existence.

From the example of St. Joseph we all receive a strong invitation to carry out with fidelity, simplicity and modesty the task that Providence has entrusted to us. I think especially of fathers and mothers of families, and I pray that they will always be able to appreciate the beauty of a simple and industrious life, cultivating the conjugal relationship with care and fulfilling with enthusiasm the great and difficult educational mission.

To priests, who exercise a paternal role over Ecclesial Communities, may St Joseph help them love the Church with affection and complete dedication, and may he support consecrated persons in their joyous and faithful observance of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. May he protect workers throughout the world so that they contribute with their different professions to the progress of the whole of humanity, and may he help every Christian to fulfil God’s will with confidence and love, thereby cooperating in the fulfilment of the work of salvation.

Today, as I write and reflect on these words by Pope Benedict XVI, I find myself having a connection with St. Joseph like never before. As I stated previously, I am preparing to enter the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the coming months. The closeness I feel towards St. Joseph today is difficult to explain since it feels like the closeness I have with my father, even though he is deceased for nearly three years. As I sit in the adoration chapel here at the parish and write this post, I am also gazing up frequently to look at the St. Joseph statue.

Although it’s difficult to explain specifically why this year is different than in years past, I can tell you that some of the words from Benedict have penetrated my heart and have allowed me to see what I really need to do in my life as and soon-to-be husband and potential father.

As a man, who truly remained hidden in the house of Nazareth, St. Joseph still was the head of his household, courageously caring for Mary and Jesus, most notably when fleeing to Egypt. Like St. Joseph, I must remain steadfast and care for my future wife and any children the Lord blesses us with when we are married. In silence, I must learn that sometimes words are not needed, just my presence and the ability to have fortitude when challenges present themselves is enough. Being silent isn’t always easy for me since my secondary vocation is a teacher of sorts in a parish position that assists other adults in coming to know their Catholic faith. Learning to be more silent is a challenge for me, but to truly be like St. Joseph, I must learn to do so.

I pray this day that St. Joseph will allow me to be more like him – a man of faithfulness, obedience, steadfastness, courage, and silent strength.

For further readings on St. Joseph, I would encourage you to read posts from previous years:

1. Saint Joseph – Patron of the Universal Church

2. The Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

3. “Mondays with Mary” – The Espousal of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Joseph

4. “Mondays with Mary” – ‘The Marriage that Linked Joseph to Mary’ 

5. “Mondays with Mary” – The Fatherhood of St. Joseph 

6. “Mondays with Mary” – ‘Mary, Joseph’s Virginal Spouse’ 

7. “Mondays with Mary” – Mary, Joseph, and the Spousal Gift of Self

8. The Influence Saint Joseph has on Catholic Men in the 21st Century 

9. “Mondays with Mary” – Asking for the Intercession of Saint Joseph 

 Saint Joseph…Pray for Us 

More Sayings from the Great Master of Youth – Saint John Bosco

Four years ago, today, I wrote a short blog post about the Great Master of Youth – Saint John Bosco. Since that time, that article, which included 10 sayings from the Italian saint has garnered over 43,461 views [at time of publishing for this post]. It is one of the most popular posts I have written in the past six years. I am often humbled and shocked on the shear mass of individuals viewing this post about Don Bosco on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis.

Since so many people liked that post over the years, here is another one focusing on More Sayings from the Great Master of Youth –

1. “I will take no unnecessary walks. I will make exactingly careful us of my time.

When the salvation of souls is at stake I will always be ready to act, to suffer, and to humble myself. May the charity and gentleness of St. Francis de Sales inform my every action.I will always be content with the food set before me unless it is really harmful to my health.

I will always add water to my wine and drink it only for reasons of health. Since work is powerful weapon against the enemies of my salvation I will take only five hours sleep a night. During the day, especially after dinner, I will take no rest, except in case of illness.

Every day I will devote some time to meditation and spiritual reading. During the day I will make a short visit, or at least a prayer, to the Blessed Sacrament. My preparation for Mass shall last at least a quarter of an hour and so shall my thanksgiving.

Outside the confessional and save in cases of strict necessity I will never stop to talk to women” [one large quote broken down into smaller paragraphs to read].

2. “I have promised God that until my last breath I shall have lived for my poor young people. I study for you, I work for you, I am also ready to give my life for you. Take note that whatever I am, I have been so entirely for you, day and night, morning and evening, at every moment.”

3. “In my long experience very often I had to be convinced of this great truth; that it is easier to become angry than to restrain oneself and easier to threaten a boy than to persuade him. Yes, it is more fitting to be persistent in punishing our own impatience and pride than to correct the boys. We must be firm but kind, and be patient with them.”

4. “You should bear patiently the bad temper of other people, the slights, the rudeness that may be offered you.”

5. “Never read books you aren’t sure about…even supposing that these books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?”

6. “A saint was once asked, while playing happily with his companions, what he would do if an angel told him that in a quarter of an hour he would die and have to appear before the judgment seat of God. The saint promptly replied that he would continue playing because I am certain these games are pleasing to God.”

If you are not familiar with the life of Saint John Bosco, affectionately known to many as Don Bosco, I would encourage you to read the book, Saint John Bosco; A Friend of Youth by F. A. Forbes.

He had a great devotion, like many saints before and after him, to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His particular devotion was to Our Lady, Help of Christians.

If you are in the field of education or a catechist at a parish and working with children from kindergarten to high school, I would encourage you to read, The Educational Philosophy of St. John Bosco. It was a book that completely revolutionized my approach when I was a high school theology teacher.

Saint John Bosco…Pray for Us

“Mondays with Mary” – The Marian Prayer of Saint Charles Borromeo

Since this past Saturday, November 4, was the memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo, I thought I would briefly share with you his Marian Prayer, which is also tied into his prayer for holy priests. St. Charles Borromeo is the patron of catechists, Bishops, Cardinals, seminarians and spiritual leaders.

He was born on October 2, 1538 and passed into Eternal Glory on November 3, 1584, at the age of 46. He was a great Bishop of Milan and a true leader in the Catholic Church when the Church need leadership greatly. Not only did forbid the selling of indulgences, which the Church always said was wrong, he educated his lay faithful as well as his clergy, since so many of his clergy were poorly catechized initially. At a time when the Protestant Reformation was gaining ground, this great Saint taught fearlessly and with great vigor the doctrinal teachings of the Church and stood his ground against the incoming onslaught of the Protestant revolution.

Mary, Mother of Priests

On May 12, 1605, Pope Paul V beatified him and eight years later, on November 1, 1610, he was canonized by the aforementioned Pope. To learn more about the interesting life of this 16th century saint, I could encourage you to read about him here. There is also a short video in that link that teaches on the saint.

As I always try to do with these Marian Prayers, I provide links to blog posts I have written in the past. Below is the Marian Prayer of Saint Charles Borromeo – 

O Holy Mother of God,
pray for the priests
your Son has chosen to serve the church.
Help them by your intercession,
to be holy,
zealous and chaste.
Make them models of virtue
in the service of God’s people.
Help them to be prayerful in meditations,
effective in preaching,
and enthusiastic in the daily offering of
the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
Help them to administer the sacraments with joy.
Amen.

Saint Charles Borromeo…Pray for Us

10 Quotes on Sainthood from the Saints

Today in the Catholic Church we celebrate one of the great solemnities of the year – The Solemnity of All Saints. It is the solemnity that focuses on all the unknown saints who are now in Heaven. Since holiness is reachable by all and the call to be holy is given to us at our Baptism, it is through the Communion of Saints that each piece of the Mystical Body of Christ assists every other to grow and seek holiness.

Although today is about All Saints, particularly the unknown saints, below are 10 quotes about Sainthood from some of the more well-known Canonized Saints in the Catholic Church –

1. “We can, if we will, become a saint, for God will never refuse to help us to do so.” – St. John Vianney

2. “What saint has ever won his crown without first contending for it? – St. Jerome

3. “Let us become saints so that after having been together on earth, we may be together in Heaven.” – St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)

4. “After seven years in the religious life, I still am weak and imperfect. I always feels, however, the same bold confidence of becoming a great saint because I don’t count on my merits since I have none, but I trust in Him who is Virtue and Holiness.” – St. Therese of Lisieux

5. “The saints live not after the fashion of the world…The dignity of the saints is so great because they are not of this world, but ‘of the household of God.’” – St. Thomas Aquinas

6. “One should not wish to become a saint in four days but step by step.” – St. Philip Neri

7. “A saint was once asked, while playing happily with his companions, what he would do if any angel told him that in a quarter of an hour he would die and have to appear before the judgment seat of God. The saint properly replied that he would continue playing because I am certain these games are pleasing to God.” – St. John Bosco

8. “Though you have recourse to many saints as your intercessors, go especially to St. Joseph, for he has great power with God.” – St. Teresa of Avila

9. “All the science of the Saints is included in these two things: To do, and to suffer. And whoever had done these two things best, has made himself most saintly.” – St. Francis de Sales

10. “The saints are like the stars. In his providence Christ conceals them in a hidden place that they may not shine before others when they might wish to do so. Yet they are always ready to exchange the quiet of contemplation for the works of mercy as soon as they perceive in their heart the invitation of Christ.:” – St. Anthony of Padua

All Holy Men and Women of God…Pray for Us 

12 Quotes from the Great Saint of Pietrelcina

Today in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, we celebrate the memorial of the Great Saint of Pietrelcina, otherwise known as Padre Pio. If you are not familiar with this amazing 20th century Catholic Saint and Franciscan, I would encourage you to read up on him and learn as much as you can. He is one of my favorites and a favorite of many Catholics I know.

So since it is his day in the liturgical calendar, I wanted to provide you with some pretty amazing things he said this side of Heaven. I would encourage you to read them, memorize them, and/or pray with them. Many are just one sentence, but there is so much in just a few words. Here are 12 quotes from the Great Saint of Pietrelcina –

1. “Do not undertake any course of action, not even the most lowly and insignificant, without first offering it to God.”

2. “Every Christian who is a true imitator and follower of the Nazarene can and must call himself a second Christ and show forth most clearly in his life the entire image of Christ. Oh, if only all Christians were to live up to their vocation, this very land of exile would be changed into paradise.”

3. “Our body is like a jackass that must be beaten, but just a little, otherwise it will throw us to the ground, and refuse to carry us.”

4. “Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is a key that opens God’s heart. You must speak to Jesus, not only with your lips, but also with your heart; actually, on certain occasions, you should speak with only your heart.”

5. “Do not ever lose heart when the tempest rages; place all your trust in the Heart of the most gentle Jesus. Pray and I might add, devoutly pester the divine Heart.”

6. “As long as there remains a drop of blood in our body, there will be a struggle between right and wrong.”

7. “In all that you do, always be humble, guarding jealously the purity of  your heart and the purity of your body; these are the two wings which will raise to God and make us almost divine.”

8. “Satan fears and trembles before humble souls.”

9. “It is difficult to become a saint. Difficult, but not impossible. The road to perfection is long, as long as one’s lifetime. Along the way, consolation becomes rest; but as soon as your strength is restored, you must diligently get up and resume the trip.”

10. “Be content to obey, which is never a small thing for the soul who has chosen God as his portion, and resign yourself to be for now a small hive bee to make honey.”

11. “At all times, try to conform to the will of God in everything that you do, and have no fear. This conformity is the surest way to Heaven.”

12. “Let us become saints so that having been together on earth, we may be together in Heaven.”

Prayer of Pope Saint John Paul II to Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

Teach us, we pray, humility of heart, so that we may be counted among the little ones of the Gospel to whom the Father promised to reveal the mysteries of His Kingdom. Help us to pray without ceasing, certain that God knows what we need even before we ask Him. Obtain for us the eyes of faith that will help us recognize in the poor and suffering, the very face of Jesus. Sustain us in the hour of trouble and trial and, if we fall, let us experience the joy of the sacrament of forgiveness. Grant us your tender devotion to Mary, mother of Jesus and our Mother. Accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage toward the blessed Homeland, where we too, hope to arrive to contemplate forever the Glory of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina…Pray for Us

Sources:

Kelly-Gangi, Carol. The Essential Wisdom of the Saints. Fall River Press, 2008.

“Prayers of Padre Pio.” Padre Pio Devotions, padrepiodevotions.org/prayers-of-padre-pio/. 

12 Quotes by Saint Augustine of Hippo

Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Augustine of Hippo, one of the great Doctors of the Church and one of the most popular canonized saints of the Catholic Church. He has been influencing Catholics to study their faith for over 1600 years, as well as bringing many sinners to Jesus Christ through his amazing conversion story.

Since he has influenced many with his writings over the centuries, I wanted to provide you with some quotes of his, which focus on a wide range of theological topics. Although there are countless writings and I could give you hundreds of quotes, here are 12 solid quotes from the Doctor of Grace himself –

1. “This is what you should think, if you wish to see God: ‘God is Love,’ What has love? What form has it? What height? What feet? What hands? No one can say. Yet is had feet, for they lead to the Church; it has hands for they care for the poor; it has eyes, for through them the needy one is known.”

2. “Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient and so new, too late have I loved you! You were with me, but I was not with you. You cried out and pierced my deafness. You enlightened my blindness. I tasted you and I am hungry for you. You touched me, and I am afire with longing for your embrace.”

3. “Understanding is the reward given by faith. Do not try to understand in order to believe, but believe in order to understand.”

4. “If you should ask me what are the ways of God, I would tell you that the first is humility, the second is humility, and the third is still humility. Not that there are not other precepts to give, but if humility does not precede all that we do, our efforts are fruitless.” (Wow…this one makes you think!)

5. “God has no need of money, but the poor have. You give it to the poor, and God receives it.”

6. “Do not grieve or complain that you were born in a time when you can no longer see God in the flesh. He did not in fact take that privilege from you. As He says: ‘Whatever you have done to the least of my brothers, you did to me.’”

7. “Men go abroad to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.” (How true is this in the modern age!)

8. “Out of the forward will lust had sprung; and lust pampered had become custom; and custom indulged had become necessity. These were the links of the chain; this is the bondage in which I was bound.”

9. “Christ martyrs feared neither death nor pain. He triumphed in them who lived in them; and they, who lived not for themselves but for him, found in death itself the way to life.”

10. “If they, why not I? – If these men and women could become saints, why cannot I with the help of Him who is all-powerful?”

11. “If a man wishes to take your coat, give him also whatever other articles of clothes you may have.”

12. “Imagine a man in whom the tumult of the flesh goes silent, in whom the images of earth, of water, of air, and of the skies cease to resound. His soul turns quiet and, self-reflecting no longer, it transcends itself. Dreams and visions end. So too does all speech and every gesture, everything in fact which comes to be only to pass away. All these things cry out: ‘We did not make ourselves. It is the Eternal One who made us.’”

St. Augustine of Hippo…Pray for Us