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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Today is the Feast of St. Beatrice da Silva 1425-1490 Virgin, Poor Clare nun

Beatrice was born of Portuguese parents at Ceuta on Moroccan soil, and manifested a special attachment to our Immaculate Mother very early in life. At the court of the king of Castile she was presented and cast into prison by a jealous queen, but by the visible intervention of the Immaculate Queen of heaven, she was released and justified with great honor. Then she left the court and went to Toledo. On the journey thither St. Francis and St. Anthony appeared to her and announced that she would be the founder of a new order.
At Toledo she repaired to a convent of Cistercian nuns and remained there for almost 40 years. She did not don the religious garb; nevertheless she was a model of religious perfection. Gradually the resolution took shape to establish a new order that would honor the Immaculate Mother of God. With 12 companions who entertained sentiments similar to hers, she withdrew to a separate house. Beatrice wrote the rule and asked Pope Innocent VIII to approve it. This occurred in the year 1489.

A few years earlier the Blessed Virgin has showed her in a vision that she should wear a habit consisting of a white tunic and scapular with a light blue mantle. This was the origin of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, also known as the Conceptionist Poor Clares.

The whole life of the foundress was conformed to her religious rule. The rule itself can be summed up briefly in three short mottos: to be silent and submissive in all things that happen to us by God's ordinance or are required of us by holy obedience; to become small in the eyes of God, of the world, and of ourself, and to prefer a life of obscurity; to love everyone with a holy love, and become all to all by prayer, sacrifice, and labor.

At the age of 65, Mother Beatrice departed form this life in 1490, a year after the founding of her order. Pope Pius XI enrolled her among the beatified. The Conceptionists were incorporated into the Franciscan Order and soon spread through Europe and America. Thanks to the efforts of the Franciscan bishop, Amandus Bahlmann of Santarem, a branch of this order, under the name of Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception, is doing remarkable work especially in the missions of Brazil. Their motherhouse is at Patterson, New Jersey.


1. Consider the danger to which the vanities of the world expose us. Honors and riches arouse the lower passions and tempt us to pride and forgetfulness of God. Blessed Beatrice was well advised when she rid herself of all vanities and chose a life of renunciation. The words of Holy Scripture can be applied to many who have indulged in worldly vanities: "As much as she has glorified herself, and lived in delicacies, so much torment and sorrow give to her" (Apoc 18:7). -- Do not let yourself be ensnared.

2. The vanities of the world are transient. It is written: "Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain" (Prov 31:30). What will be the end of all worldly vanities? "Of earth they were made and into earth they returned altogether" (Eccl 3:20). Therefore, the Wise Man says: "Why is earth and ashes proud? (Eccli 10:9). Blessed Beatrice acted wisely when she bade farewell to all vanities. -- Frequently recall the words the Church uses on Ash Wednesday: "Remember. O man, that you are dust and unto dust you shall return."

3. Consider that to devote oneself to the infinite Good is the best thing we can do. Blessed Beatrice did that. All for God, that was her maxim. She found in it interior peace and satisfaction, during her sojourn on earth, and in the next world the possession of the highest Good in eternal bliss. Thomas a Kempis is correct when he says "All is vanity but love God and serve Him alone." The Franciscan pope, Clement XIV, wrote at the time of his elevation to the cardinalate: "I count this dignity as an accumulation of letters of the alphabet for an epitaph that is of no use to him who lies beneath it."


Hear us, O God, source of all our blessings, that we who rejoice in celebrating the feast of Thy virgin Blessed Beatrice may be ennobled in sentiments and encouraged to loving submission. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mother Mary Cherubina Clare of St. Francis, Poor Clare nun and mystic

This is a front cover of a wonderful book on this Poor Clare nun, Mother Mary Cherubina Clare of St. Francis called, "Life of Mary Cherubina Clare of St. Francis", by Maria Saraceni, translated by Lady Herbert.  The book was written in 1874.

This book is available to read online here.  I had bought the hard copy (paperback) at Amazon here.

Mother Mary Cherubina Clare as born in 1823 and entered the Monastery of St. Clare in Assisi in 1845 and eventually became Mother Vicaress.  She died in 1871 with many miracles attributed to her.  She was a mystic and received revelations.  Wonderful and beautiful story of a Poor Clare nun.   

I found this info on her on The Hagiography Circle which keeps track of causes, canonizations, saints, etc, the site.

3) 01 February in Assisi, Perugia (Italy)
        professed religious, Poor Clares
        born: 08 December 1823 in Rome (Italy)
        diocese of competent bishop: Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino
        CCS protocol number:
        type of cause: heroic virtues

        opening of informative process:
        closing of informative process:
        nihil obstat: *
        petitioner: Protomonastero di S. Chiara, S. Chiara, 1, 06081 Assisi (PG), ITALY
Note: The transumptum of the diocesan process is stored in the archives of the CCS.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Aug 14 - Homily: Kolbe Martyr for the Immaculate

Fr. Joachim on the exemplary life of St Maximilian Kolbe, Martyr. He points out that he too had to overcome faults and grow in grace as he grew in his devotion to Mary. He joined the Conventual Franciscans and gathered an army of friars around him to use the mass media to spread devotion to Our Lady for the salvation of souls. Finally he was martyred by the Nazis in their death camp after offering himself in place of a condemned criminal. Ave Maria!

Today is the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr


Prayer to St. Maximilian O St. Maximilian Kolbe, faithful follower of St. Francis, inflamed by the love of God you dedicated your life to the practice of virtue and to works of the apostolate. Look down with favor upon us who devoutly confide in your intercession. Having consecrated yourself to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, you inspired countless souls to a holy life and various forms of the apostolate in order to do good to others and to spread the kingdom of God. Obtain for us the grace by our lives and labors to draw many souls to Christ. In your close conformity to our Divine Savior you reached such an intense degree of love that you offered your life to save a fellow prisoner. Implore God that we, inflamed by such ardent charity, may through our living faith and our apostolic works witness Christ to others, and thus merit to join you in the blessed vision of God. Amen.


Our Lady especially loves little children. They are so guileless, so direct.Their faith is so simple and chaste, their hope so aspiring and inspiring, their charity so warm and sincere, that She could not help but love them above the rest of men. No doubt that is why She so often chooses them to convey Her heavenly messages to the world.

But sometimes Her apparitions to children are meant to be very private and very intimate. One such highly personal visitation occurred shortly after the turn of the present century.

It happened in Poland. The ten year-old child who received this exceptional blessing was not exceptional himself – at least not in virtue. For he was as mischievous as any other boy of his age. Perhaps even more so. His name was Raymond Kolbe, born January 8, 1894. But while he might not have been called exceptional, neither was he average. Raymond was a bright little fellow with a notable inclination toward science.

 Unfortunately his talents were applied to common mischief far too frequently to suit the patience of his poor mother, and he received many a just reprimand from her. Exasperated, she one day intoned that typical expression which many a weary mother has used dozens of times over: “What is going to become of you?” she asked her youthful prankster. Poor Raymond took the question quite to heart, gravely reflecting on the implication that his habits of misbehavior were leading him to a disastrous end. So moved was he, in fact, that a complete change came over him from that moment.

And it was very noticeable. Maria Kolbe began to observe her son spending long hours at their little altar of Our Lady of Czestochowa praying and weeping. Naturally concerned about what was troubling the boy, she asked him what was the matter. Raymond was reluctant to open his heart until his worried mother insisted that he tell her under pain of disobedience. Then he confided that her critical question about the hope for his future had been the start of it all: “I felt very sad and went to the Blessed Virgin and asked Her what would become of me. After that, I asked Her again in church. Then the Blessed Virgin appeared to me, holding two crowns. One was white, and the other red.” The white crown represented purity, and the red one martyrdom. Our lady then asked him which he would choose. “I choose them both,” was his eager answer. The Queen of Heaven then smiled and disappeared.

Thus Maria Kolbe became the only person to share the beautiful secret of this future saint before his death. And having been taken into his confidence, she related years later, “His face aglow, he would often talk to me of martyrdom, his great dream.”

But how was this dream to be fulfilled? The vision was brief, and the only apparent instruction that Our Lady gave Raymond was that he be obedient and She would take care of everything else.

The Religious Life 

Jules and Maria Kolbe were a poor Polish couple. Poverty, for that matter, was a national characteristic of oppressed Poland in those days when the pitiable country was torn apart and its remnants divided among three neighboring powers. The Kolbes therefore had no money to send their three sons to school, and had to teach the boys elementary reading and writing from their own humble literary abilities. Francis was the oldest of the children and naturally he was entitled to whatever educational privileges might become possible in the household, So when it was decided that Francis would enter the seminary, the rest of the family prepared themselves to make every sacrifice necessary to achieve that ambition. This meant that Raymond, who was the second oldest, would have to remain at home and help in his father’s trade.

But the Blessed Mother had other plans for her young visionary. A local pharmacist was impressed by the precocious lad, and volunteered to tutor him. With the help of this chemist-angel, Raymond was able to join his older brother who was attending the secondary school at Leopoli.

Before long the two were admitted to a minor seminary in Galicia, run by Conventual Franciscans. Their younger brother Joseph followed them three years later. Then, with all three of their children in the seminary, both parents decided to enter religious life and devote themselves to God.

Raymond meanwhile developed a brilliant aptitude for studies, particularly excelling in mathematics and physics. Even during his years at the minor seminary, he already was formulating designs for interplanetary flight-designs that he would continue to perfect in his spare time until they were feasibly workable. Father Bronislaus Stryczny remembered years later: “He told me many times that flight to the moon is possible and that he expected to see it in his own lifetime….His own plans which he drew up were so plausible and well worked out that one of his professors suggested that he patent them.” This inventive genius was to be a great blessing later in his career.

In 1910 he was received into the novitiate of the Conventual Franciscans, taking the name Maximilian as a religious. And the following year, after making his temporary profession, he was sent to study philosophy at Krakow, Poland, where his superiors, realizing his exceptional capabilities, decided to have him complete his studies at Rome. There he had the happy opportunity of seeing Pope Pius X in public audiences, although probably neither saint was aware at the time that another one was present. Friar Maximilian studied at the Gregorian Institute and the International Seraphic College, where he was to earn his doctorates in philosophy and theology. In 1914 he took his solemn vows, adding “Maria” to his religious name. Four years later he was ordained to the priesthood.

Militia of the Immaculate Mother 

The education that Saint Maximilian acquired in Rome was considerably more than what could be gotten in classrooms or from textbooks, and not always was it edifying. He had come there quite innocent of the ways of the world, only to be rudely awakened to the painful realities of the modern times.

Modernism, though now exposed and condemned by the great Pope Saint Pius X, still left enough of its atmosphere lingering in the Eternal City to show its widespread effects on the thinking within the Church. Reflecting on those times many years later, Father Kolbe recalled: “I would often talk with my confreres about the lack of enthusiasm of some within the Order and about the future of the Order. It was then that these words were impressed on my mind: ‘Refuse to compromise, or we will destroy the Order!’ ” For, as one of his associates commented, “Even as a student Maximilian Kolbe felt it was necessary to repel the trend against the Traditions of the Church in order to help men find their way to God.”

At the same time there were the increasingly brazen and blasphemous outrages of the Communists and the Masons directed against the Faith. Conspicuous among them was the ugly spectacle of militant thugs celebrating the secondary centenary of Freemasonry by marching on the Holy City, and waving signs that read: “Satan must reign in the Vatican. The Pope will be his slave.”

 Deeply grieved by many other symptoms that the Church steadily was losing ground in her battle against the devil, and fired by his naturally warrior-like spirit, Saint Maximilian had already determined in his heart to organize a spiritual army to capture souls for the Immaculate Queen. That inspiration came to him in 1917 on the anniversary of Our Lady’s apparition to Alphonse Ratisbonne, a Jew who was converted through the Miraculous Medal. But his ideas Had no real shape before he personally witnessed the sacrileges of Satan’s disciples. The holy man recounts this experience: “The Freemasons began to spark their demonstrations with more and more effrontery, even raising their banners under the windows of the Vatican – banners which depicted on a black background Lucifer trampling underfoot the Archangel Michael. When they started to distribute vicious tracts against the Holy Father, the idea to establish a company to fight the Freemasons and other agents of Lucifer was born.”

The specific aim of this company, this Militia of the Immaculata, he said, would be “to convert sinners, heretics, and especially Masons, and to sanctify all under the patronage and through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.” (Saint Maximilian later preferred the phrase “enemies of the Church,” over “Masons” so as to include Communists and all other groups besides Masons who sought her ruin.) To be a Knight of the holy Militia would require “total consecration of self to the Immaculate Virgin Mary as an implement in Her Immaculate hands” and “wearing the Miraculous Medal.”

Membership in the Militia Immaculatae eventually would be open to people from all walks of life. But for his first select recruits Friar Maximilian turned to his Franciscan confreres. “A bishop [Bishop Francesco Maria Berti] has said that Our Lady will do great things through one of our friars,” he told at least one prospect. “She will renew the religious spirit in many more hearts in our Order and in other Orders. And much more” She will reawaken the Christian spirit among the faithful of many nations.” Father Alberto Arzilli recalls, “I, who by then knew him and believed him a saint, was convinced that this religious, this instrument chosen by Our Lady for such great work had to be Friar Maximilian himself.”

On October 16, 1917, Saint Maximilian and his six founding members quietly met and enrolled themselves as Knights of the Immaculata. The meeting was strikingly similar in many respects to one that took place four hundred years earlier in a small chapel on Montmartre, where Saint Ignatius net with six divinity students and founded the Society of Jesus. But particularly mystical was the fact that this founding meeting of the Militia Immaculatae was held three days after the miracle of the sun had occurred at Fatima, where the Blessed Mother promised the conversion of Russia and the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart. Young Kolbe was unaware of the great miracle at the time. But he himself was to predict late in his life: “One day, you will see the statue of the Immaculata in the center of Moscow atop the Kremlin.”

The Militia in Action 

Saint Maximilian humbly left all major decisions of strategy for the Militia to Our Lady, and now patiently awaited the directives She would reveal to him in Her usual inconspicuous way and at Her own good time. Meanwhile, he and his fellow Knights would concentrate on recruiting new members and spreading devotion to the Miraculous Medal. All his life the saint carried a pocketful of the medals-”bullets” he called them. Whenever he went among the public, he seized every opportunity for making a convert. And after giving some soul the challenge of the Faith, he would present the person with a Miraculous Medal, leaving it to Our Lady to finish the job.

Penance was another powerful weapon for the Crusade, and Saint Maximilian utilized it expertly. Shortly after he came to Rome he began to suffer terrible headaches constantly. He also contracted tuberculosis. The doctors failed to diagnose the consuming disease and consequently his lungs continued to deteriorate, especially after his return to Poland in 1919, where the climate was menacing to such a condition. But the spiritual warrior never complained, and rarely allowed any sign of his intense suffering to betray him. “It is understood that whoever works for the Immaculate Virgin must be ready to suffer much,” he would say. Few if any knew he was chronically ill. Some even ignorantly belittled him for his deliberate slowness of movement, which was necessary to avoid hemorrhaging.

The health of our saint worsened so drastically that late in 1919 he had to enter a sanatorium, where he remained for two years. This was a heavy cross for the relentless apostle, because his superiors ordered him to suspend all his activities in the Militia during that period. Since Maximilian himself was the heart and soul of the Crusade, he knew this could well mean its finish. Yet he complied in absolute obedience.

Obedience, in fact, was his most heroic virtue, He wrote: “How does God reveal His will? Through His representatives on earth….There is only one exception, and that is when a superior commends one to do what clearly, without a doubt, would be sinful, even in the smallest degree….For then the superior would not be a representative of God; and we are not subjects of any man.”

And so Father Kolbe had to trust Our Lady to govern the Militia in his absence. But even if not the leading Knight of the Immaculata for the present, he still remained a priest, and therefore continued to perform the duties of that office as best he was able. He converted a number of patients at the sanatorium, and brought many others back to the sacraments-always using his little “bullets,” Miraculous Medals.

In May of 1920, the bedridden priest wrote to the members of the Militia Immaculatae at Rome, suggesting, “It would be worthwhile to have some type of publication to serve as an official organ of the M.I. By means of it we could counteract the antireligious tendencies which plague certain countries.” Actually Father Kolbe was aware that antireligious activities plagued all the major nations, as he made clear a year earlier in a stinging lecture concerning the conspiratorial control of the world’s news media, pointing to its vile assaults against the Faith and society.

In his absence Maximilian’s suggestion to publish an official organ went without being acted upon. And in the meantime he saw its need with more and more urgency. When his health had improved sufficiently for him to resume work, he sought permission to undertake this publishing venture himself.

 His superiors agreed to it, provided he find his own means of financing the work. And so the gentle Franciscan became a beggar, timidly knocking at doors to ask for alms.

In January of 1922 the Militia’s first monthly periodical, the Knight of the Immaculate Mother, made its appearance. Tremendously rising printing expenses, however, soon led Maximilian Maria Kolbe in search of his own printing press. And with help from an American priest he was able to buy a small, antiquated, and barely-operable machine, thus setting his crusade on a new course that would lead his work to world fame.

The First Marytown 

Nothing succeeds like success, as the saying goes. Within five years, Father Kolbe built up the circulation of the Knight to 70,000 subscribers, amazing all his skeptical associates who predicted the publishing operation would fail completely. Consequently, interest in his Crusade increased so greatly that total membership in the Militia rose to 126,000 by 1927.

The modest friary at Grodno, where Maximilian carried on his apostolate during these five years, was no longer adequate. Franciscan postulants, eager to dedicate their lives to so worthy an undertaking, and to do so under the direction of so holy a superior, were coming to Grodno in growing numbers. Nor would the friary accommodate the needed expansion of machinery. But unfortunately Father Kolbe’s superiors would not permit him to buy more land. There is no stopping a crusader, however, when the Queen of Heaven is on his side. Mary provided the solution by sending an angel, one by the name of Prince Drucki-Lubecki, who presented as a gift to the Militia a sizable piece of his estate near Warsaw. With lumber and other building materials that also had been donated, the religious brothers soon erected simple barracks on the site, and on the Feast of Our Lady’s Presentation, November 21, 1927, the printing plant was moved from Grodno. Two weeks later, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the new home for the Militia was blessed and given the mane Niepokalanow – “Marytown.”

Niepokalanow was to become truly a Marian citadel. “For us it is not merely enough to defend the Faith,” wrote the Saint in 1929. “We have the fortress and, full of trust in our Leader, we go among the enemy hunting hearts to conquer for the Immaculata….Every heart that beats or will beat on earth until the end of time must become the Immaculata’s prize. This is our aim. And this as soon as possible.”

Through the genius of Father Kolbe, Niepokalanow grew into a miracle of human achievement, a modern marvel never before seen in the world. It evolved to become a city unto itself almost fully self-sufficient for its own needs. Over 50 religious comprised its vibrant community, making it the largest friary in the would. And these were fed, clothed, housed, and even medically treated by means of the city’s own facilities.

The principal industry of Niepokalanow, of course, was publishing. At the height of its development ten separate periodicals were being produced here with a combined readership of one and a half million subscribers. The most modern technology and equipment was used, including devices that were invented by the friars themselves. (One of their patents won first prize at two different trade fairs.)

The city even had facilities for manufacturing machinery and replacement parts. Moreover, Father Kolbe had plans to build his own paper mill and an airfield to expedite production and delivery. In fact, two of his friars were already taking aeronautical training at Warsaw when the war broke out. And as if this were not enough-for Saint Maximilian believed “enough” is a word that does not belong in an apostle’s vocabulary – on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1938, he opened Radio Station SP3RN, whose call letters stood for “Polish Station 3 Radio Niepokalanow.” Beyond that he had further plans for film-making. “All the fruits of human genius must be mobilized for the service and glory of God and His Immaculata,” he would say.

But back in the year 1930 these magnificent achievements were still a dream to Maximilian, and were sheer madness in the opinion of skeptics. Nevertheless, he believed in them. More importantly, he believed in them. More importantly, he believed these same dreams could be fulfilled everywhere in the world, not just in Poland or Europe. And so in March of that year he and four Conventual Franciscan brothers set out to conquer the pagan Far East. He arrived in Japan on April 24, knowing not one soul there nor a single word of the language. Yet one month later the man of miracles published his first Japanese edition of the Knight, with the help of a Methodist translator (whom he quickly converted) and an old printing press that was in such poor repair that his hands would bleed from operating it.

The housing accommodations gave Father Kolbe and his friars no more comfort. They lived in a dilapidated shack with such gaping holes in its roof that a snowfall would blanket everything inside. And as for food – according to Maximilian, the Japanese food was his heaviest penance.

But in so saying, of course, the gentle sufferer was only drawing attention away from his physical agony. Violent headaches were afflicting him constantly. His body became covered with abscesses so painful that he could barely stand or walk. Also his lungs were terribly lacerated from the tuberculosis. One Japanese doctor who examined him and discovered that four-fifths of his lungs were destroyed, said that it was clearly a miracle that the priest could have lived so long with the disease never worsening or improving. Indeed we can say it was an even greater miracle, considering the tremendous amount of work he did in that long period of years.

In 1931 he opened at Nagasaki another city called in Japanese Mugenzai no Sono – “Garden of the Immaculata.” And the following year he went to India to establish still another mission base. Then in 1936, his health now very critical from so much exhausting labor, he returned to Poland and his splendid Niepokalanow.

The Red Crown is Bestowed 

Early in 1938 the saint was already certain that war was imminent, and began to prepare his spiritual children for any possible fate, even martyrdom. “Would it not be the supreme honor if we could seal our Faith with our blood?…What a dream!”

When the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, Saint Maximilian was ordered to cease his publishing. Niepokalanow then turned its attention to treating the war injured. Before long the Gestapo arrested Father Kolbe and imprisoned him at Amtitz. He was released, but only to be arrested again on February 17, 1941. This time he was sent to the dreaded Auschwitz, and there under an inhuman monster of a commandant named Fritch, he became known as Prisoner Number 16670, just one more of the thousands of human statistics living in the terror of that vast horror chamber.

Maximilian Kolbe would have been hated enough by his Nazi keepers just for being a Pole. But he was a Catholic priest as well, and his tormentors reserved their finest cruelty for that class of prisoner. In spite of his obviously wretched health, he was assigned the hardest and dirtiest tasks in the camp. Dogs were set upon him supposedly to make him work faster, but actually more to torture the poor man. And should he stumble or fall in his cruel work, as he did many times, he would be beaten and kicked till he lost consciousness.

And still, saint that he was, Father Kolbe not only endured this barbarity with heroic patience and courage, but he was the most loving and tender consoler to fellow inmates who suffered not nearly as much. The fact is that he was happy to receive the brutal beatings that put him in the infirmary, for there he could hear confessions in the dark of the night without being noticed.

The roll call one July morning at Block Fourteen, where Saint Maximilian was being kept, revealed that a prisoner had escaped. Commandant Fritch’s policy in such cases was to assemble all the prisoners from the block in the yard where they would stand at attention the whole day. If, by the end of the day, the escapee had not been recovered, ten others would be chosen at random to die in his place – death by starvation.

By three o’clock the prisoner was still not found and Fritch selected his victims. One of them, Francis Gajowniczek, cried out, “My poor wife, my poor children! What will happen to my family!” At that moment another prisoner stepped up to the commandant with hat in hand. Fritch bellowed, “What does this Polish pig want?”

The reply came: “I am a Catholic priest from Poland. I would like to take his place, because he has a wife and children.”

A Witness recalls, “From astonishment, the commandant appeared unable to speak. After a moment he gave a sign with the hand. He spoke but one word: ‘Away!’ Gajowniczek received the command to return to the row he had just left. In this manner Father Maximilian took the place of the condemned man.” From the hour that Father Kolbe descended into the starvation bunker – dark, cold underground cells of torture where human beings were left naked without any food or water to shrivel up and die in unspeakable agony – from that hour a great change came over the horrible place. Its keepers testify that the wailing and cries of suffering that earlier reverberated off the bunker’s walls were now converted into prayers and hymns. The change, in fact, was seen throughout the whole camp. Beatings were less frequent and less severe after the holy man’s sacrifice. Even Fritch himself took no more hostage – victims to die in the place of escapees.

“Never before,” said the guards, “have we seen anything like this.” When they made their morning rounds at the bunker to remove starvation – consumed corpses, they would find among the heaps of agonized, half-dead victims one who was always in prayer on his knees or standing, one who was always bright and fully conscious, one who was always peaceful and well kept. That one was Father Kolbe. “As if in ecstasy, his face was radiant. His body was spotless, and one could say that it radiated light,” an attendant reports. “I will never forget the impression this made on me.”

After two weeks, the saintly priest was still alive and in this same beautiful state. The Germans needed the cell, however, and could wait no longer for him to die. On the morning of August 14, 1941, the director of the infirmary came with a syringe loaded with a lethal dose of carbolic acid. Upon entering the saint’s cell, Maximilian cheerfully offered the executioner his arm for the injection, and with it the frail remnant of his life for God. The next day, on the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption, the body of Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe was cremated, thus ironically fulfilling his dearest dream of immolating himself completely: “I would like to use myself completely up in the service of the Immaculata, and to disappear without leaving a trace, as the winds carry my ashes to the far corners of the world….”

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Aug 11 - Mass Homily for the Feast of St. Clare: St. Clare Against Vanities

Fr. Joachim preaches on St. Clare whose life was dedicated to God in contrast to the prevailing culture of her time that was dedicated to the passing vanities of this world. She joined the new movement of St. Francis by founding the Second Order of St. Francis, the Poor Clares.
Ave Maria!
Mass: St. Clare of Assisi -- Solemnity

Saturday, August 10, 2013

For the feast of St. Clare of Assisi today

A video by the Poor Clare Colettines of Barhamsville, VA.

"Today the Franciscan family concludes its celebration of the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Poor Clares by St. Francis and St. Clare. In the spiritual journey, every ending is the occasion of a new beginning, So I offer this video celebrating the heart of our charism which is love--the love of Christ and the love we have for one another in Him."

Poor Clares celebrate the birthday of St. Clare on July 16th. We are not sure if this is the actual date of her birth, but in a very real way, it really does not matter. When we celebrate a birthday, we are actually celebrating that person's existence, the goodness of his or her being. We do not know the day of Our Lady's birth, nor even of our Lord's, but the Church has chosen particular days to celebrate these marvelous events. As a birthday present for Our Mother St. Clare, I have taken an excerpt from an hour long video we have on the life of St. Francis which some computer genius from one of our monasteries converted from an old-fashioned slide show and audio cassette recording made about 25 years ago. The text is from a medieval author whose radical expressions may shock some modern sensibilities!

Today is the Feast of St. Clare of Assisi - August 11th - "From The Little Flowers of St. Francis"

From The Little Flowers of St. Francis

by Brother Ugolino

The Little Flowers of St. Francis or Fioretti di San Francesco is a life of Saint Francis of Assisi which was composed at the end of the 14th century.



St Clare, a most devout servant of the Cross of Christ, and one of the sweetest flowers of St Francis, was so holy, that not only the Bishops and Cardinals but the Pope himself wished to see and hear her, and went often to visit her in person. One day, amongst others, the holy Father went to her convent to hear her speak of things celestial; and having long reasoned together, St Clare ordered the table to be laid and bread to be placed upon it, in order that the holy Father might bless it. Their spiritual conclave being at an end, St Clare, kneeling down with great reverence, begged him to bless the bread which had been placed on the table. To whom the holy Father answered: “Most faithful sister, I will that thou bless this bread by the sign of the cross to which thou hast devoted thyself.” St Clare said: “Most holy Father, excuse me. I should indeed by worthy of reproof if I, a miserable woman, should presume to give such a blessing in the presence of the Vicar of Christ.” Then the Pope answered: “In order that such an act be not looked upon as presumptuous, but that it may bear on it the marks of obedience, I command thee, in the name of holy obedience, to make on this bread the sign of the cross, and to bless it in the name of God.” At this St Clare, like a true daughter of obedience, blessed the loaves most devoutly, making over them the sign of the holy cross; and, wonderful to relate, on all those loaves appeared a cross, most clearly marked; and some of them were eaten, but the rest were put aside, in order to testify of the miracle. And the holy Father, having seen the miracle, thanked God; and taking some of the bread, went away, leaving his blessing with Sister Clare. At that time Sister Ortolana, mother of St Clare, and Sister Agnes, her sister, were living together in the convent with St Clare, both most virtuous women, full of the Holy Spirit, likewise many other nuns; to whom St Francis senta great number of sick persons, who were all healed by their prayers and by the sign of the most holy cross.



St Clare was at one time so dangerously ill that she could not go to church with the other nuns to say the Office on the night of the Nativity of Christ. All the other sisters went to Matins; but she remained in bed, very sorrowful because she could not go with her sisters to receive spiritual consolation. But Jesus Christ, her Spouse, unwilling to leave her comfortless, carried her miraculously to the church of St Francis, so that she was present at Matins, assisted at the Midnight Mass, and received the Holy Communion, after which she was carried back to her bed. When the nuns returned to their convent, the ceremonies being ended at St Damiano, they went to St Clare and said to her: “O Sister Clare, our Mother, what great consolations we have experienced at this feast of the Holy Nativity! Oh, if it had but pleased God that you should have been with us!” To this St Clare answered: “Praise and glory be to our Lord Jesus Christ, the blessed one, my beloved sisters and daughters; for I have not only assisted at all the solemnities of this most holy night, but I have experienced in my soul even greater consolations than those which have been your share; for by the intercession of my father, St Francis, and through the grace of our Saviour Jesus Christ I have been personally present in the church of my venerable father, St Francis, and with the ears of my body and those of my spirit have heard all the Office, and the sounds of the organ, and the singing, and have likewise received there the most Holy Communion. Rejoice, then, because of these graces which I have received, and return to thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ.”



St Francis, when residing at Assisi, often visited St Clare, to give her holy counsel. And she, having a great desire to eat once with him, often begged him to grant her this request; but the saint would never allow her this consolation. His companions, therefore, being aware of the refusal of St Francis, and knowing how great was the wish of Sister Clare to eat with him, went to seek him, and thus addressed him: “Father, it seems to us that this severity on thy part in not granting so small a thing to Sister Clare, a virgin so holy and so dear to God, who merely asks for once to eat with thee, is not according to holy charity, especially if we consider how it was at thy preaching that she abandoned the riches and pomps of this words. Of a truth, if she were to ask of thee even a greater grace than this, thou shouldst grant it to thy spiritual daughter.” St Francis answered: “It seems to you, then, that I ought to grant her this request?” His companions made answer: “Yea, father, it is meet that thou grant her this favour and this consolation.” St Francis answered: “As you think so, let it be so, then; but, in order that she may be the more consoled, I will that the meal do take place in front of St Mary of the Angels, because, having been for so long time shut up in San Damiano, it will do her good to see the church of St Mary, wherein she took the veil, and was made a spouse of Christ. There, then, we will eat together in the name of God.” 

When the appointed day arrived, St Clare left her convent with great joy, taking with her one of her sisters, and followed by the companions of St Francis. She arrived at St Mary of the Angels, and having devoutly saluted the Virgin Mary, before whose altar her hair had been cut off, and she had received the veil, they conducted her to the convent, and showed her all over it. In the meantime St Francis prepared the meal on the bare ground, as was his custom. The hour of dinner being arrived, St Francis and St Clare, with one of the brethren of St Francis and the sister who had accompanied the saint, sat down together, all the other companions of St Francis seated humbly round them. When the first dish was served, St Francis began to speak of God so sweetly, so sublimely, and in a manner so wonderful, that the grace of God visited them abundantly, and all were rapt in Christ. Whilst they were thus rapt, with eyes and hearts raised to heaven, the people of Assisi and of Bettona, and all the country round about, saw St Mary of the Angels as it were on fire, with the convent and the woods adjoining. It seemed to them as if the church, the convent, and the woods were all enveloped in flames; and the inhabitants of Assisi hastened with great speed to put out the fire. 

On arriving at the convent, they found no fire; and entering within the gates they saw St Francis, St Clare, with all their companions, sitting round their humble meal, absorbed in contemplation; then knew they of a certainty, that what they had seen was a celestial fire, not a material one, which God miraculously had sent to bear witness to the divine flame of love which consumed the souls of those holy brethren and nuns; and they returned home with great consolation in their hearts, and much holy edification. After a long lapse of time, St Francis, St Clare, and their companions came back to themselves; and, being fully restored by the spiritual food, cared not to eat that which had been prepared for them; so that, the holy meal being finished, St Clare, well accompanied, returned to San Damiano, where the sisters received her with great joy, as they had feared that St Francis might have sent her to rule some other convent, as he had already sent St Agnes, the sister of the saint, to be Abbess of the Convent of Monticelli, at Florence. For St Francis had often said to St Clare, “Be ready, in case I send thee to some other convent”; and she, like a daughter of holy obedience, had answered, “Father, I am always ready to go whithersoever thou shalt send me.” For which reason the sisters greatly rejoiced when she returned to them, and St Clare was from that time much consoled.

Feast of Our Holy Mother St. Clare today, August 11th!

Prayer to St. Clare

Blessed St. Clare, you trusted in
The Blessed Sacrament as your
Only protection.

In your hour of need you heard a voice from
The Sacred Host

Take care of us in our earthly needs.
Enkindle in us a tender love
for Jesus and Mary.
Plead for our families,
Our beloved country and our suffering world.

Guide us by your light to heaven.

The Lady Clare, "shining in name, more shining in life," was born in the town of Assisi about the year 1193. Her mother was to become Blessed Ortolana di Fiumi. Her father is said to have been Favorino Scifi, Count of Sasso-Rosso, though whether he came of that noble branch of the Scifi family is not certain. Concerning Clare's childhood we have no reliable information. She was eighteen years old when St. Francis, preaching the Lenten sermons at the church of St. George in Assisi, influenced her to change the whole course of her life. It is likely that a marriage not to her liking had been proposed; at any rate, she went secretly to see Friar Francis and asked him to help her to live "after the manner of the Holy Gospel." Talking with him strengthened her desire to leave all worldly things behind and live for Christ. On Palm Sunday of that year, 1212, she came to the cathedral of Assisi for the blessing of palms, but when the others went up to the altar-rails to receive their branch of green, a sudden shyness kept Clare back. The bishop saw it and came down from the altar and gave her a branch. 

The following evening she slipped away from her home and hurried through the woods to the chapel of the Portiuncula, where Francis was then living with his small community. He and his brethren had been at prayers before the altar and met her at the door with lighted tapers in their hands. Before the Blessed Virgin's altar Clare laid off her fine cloak, Francis sheared her hair, and gave her his own penitential habit, a tunic of coarse cloth tied with a cord. Then, since as yet he had no nunnery, he took her at once for safety to the Benedictine convent of St. Paul, where she was affectionately welcomed. 

When it was known at home what Clare had done, relatives and friends came to rescue her. She resisted valiantly when they tried to drag her away, clinging to the convent altar so firmly as to pull the cloths half off. Baring her shorn head, she declared that Christ had called her to His service, she would have no other spouse, and the more they continued their persecutions the more steadfast she would become. Francis had her removed to the nunnery of Sant' Angelo di Panzo, where her sister Agnes, a child of fourteen, joined her. This meant more difficulty for them both, but Agnes' constancy too was victorious, and in spite of her youth Francis gave her the habit. Later he placed them in a small and humble house, adjacent to his beloved church of St. Damian, on the outskirts of Assisi, and in 1215, when Clare was about twenty-two, he appointed her superior and gave her his rule to live by. She was soon joined by her mother and several other women, to the number of sixteen. They had all felt the strong appeal of poverty and sackcloth, and without regret gave up their titles and estates to become Clare's humble disciples. Within a few years similar convents were founded in the Italian cities of Perugia, Padua, Rome, Venice, Mantua, Bologna, Milan, Siena, and Pisa, and also in various parts of France and Germany. Agnes, daughter of the King of Bohemia, established a nunnery of this order in Prague, and took the habit herself.

The "Poor Clares," as they came to be known, practiced austerities which until then were unusual among women. They went barefoot, slept on the ground, observed a perpetual abstinence from meat, and spoke only when obliged to do so by necessity or charity. Clare herself considered this silence desirable as a means of avoiding the innumerable sins of the tongue, and for keeping the mind steadily fixed on God. Not content with the fasts and other mortifications required by the rule, she wore next her skin a rough shirt of hair, fasted on vigils and every day in Lent on bread and water, and on some days ate nothing. Francis or the bishop of Assisi sometimes had to command her to lie on a mattress and to take a little nourishment every day.

Discretion, came with years, and much later Clare wrote this sound advice to Agnes of Bohemia: "Since our bodies are not of brass and our strength is not the strength of stone, but instead we are weak and subject to corporal infirmities, I implore you vehemently in the Lord to refrain from the exceeding rigor of abstinence which I know you practice, so that living and hoping in the Lord you may offer Him a reasonable service and a sacrifice seasoned with the salt of prudence."

Francis, as we know, had forbidden his order ever to possess revenues or lands or other property, even when held in common. The brothers were to subsist on daily contributions from the people about them. Clare also followed this way of life. When she left home she had given what she had to the poor, retaining nothing for her own needs or those of the convent. Pope Gregory IX proposed to mitigate the requirement of absolute poverty and offered to settle a yearly income on the Poor Ladies of St. Damien. Clare, eloquent in her determination never to break her vows to Christ and Francis, got permission to continue as they had begun. "I need," she said, "to be absolved from my sins, but I do not wish to be absolved from my obligation to follow Jesus Christ." In 1228, therefore, two years after Francis' death, the Pope granted the Assisi sisterhood a Privilegium paupertatis, or Privilege of Poverty, that they might not be constrained by anyone to accept possessions. "He who feeds the birds of the air and gives raiment and nourishment to the lilies of the field will not leave you in want of clothing or of food until He come Himself to minister to you for eternity." The convents in Perugia and Florence asked for and received this privilege; other convents thought it more prudent to moderate their poverty. Thus began the two observances which have ever since been perpetuated among the Poor Clares, as they later came to be called. The houses of the mitigated rule are called Urbanist, from the concession granted them in 1263 by Pope Urban IV. But as early as 1247 Pope Innocent IV had published a revised form of the rule, providing for the holding of community property. Clare, the very embodiment of the spirit and tradition of Francis, drew up another rule stating that the sisters should possess no property, whether as individuals or as a community. Two days before she died this was approved by Pope Innocent for the convent of St. Damian.

Clare governed the convent continuously from the day when Francis appointed her abbess until her death, a period of nearly forty years. Yet it was her desire always to be beneath all the rest, serving at table, tending the sick, washing and kissing the feet of the lay sisters when they returned footsore from begging. Her modesty and humility were such that after caring for the sick and praying for them, she often had other sisters give them further care, that their recovery might not be imputed to any prayers or merits of hers. Clare's hands were forever willing to do whatever there was of woman's work that could help Francis and his friars. "Dispose of me as you please," she would say. "I am yours, since I have given my will to God. It is no longer my own." She would be the first to rise, ring the bell in the choir, and light the candles; she would come away from prayer with radiant face.

The power and efficacy of her prayers are illustrated by a story told by Thomas of Celano, a contemporary. In 1244, Emperor Frederick II, then at war with the Pope, was ravaging the valley of Spoleto, which was part of the patrimony of the Holy See. He employed many Saracens in his army, and a troop of these infidels came in a body to plunder Assisi. St. Damien's church, standing outside the city walls, was one of the first objectives. While the marauders were scaling the convent walls, Clare, ill as she was, had herself carried out to the gate and there the Sacrament was set up in sight of the enemy. Prostrating herself before it, she prayed aloud: "Does it please Thee, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children whom I have nourished with Thy love? I beseech Thee, good Lord, protect these whom now I am not able to protect." Whereupon she heard a voice like the voice of a little child saying, "I will have them always in My care." She prayed again, for the city, and again the voice came, reassuring her. She then turned to the trembling nuns and said, "Have no fear, little daughters; trust in Jesus." At this, a sudden terror seized their assailants and they fled in haste. Shortly afterward one of Frederick's generals laid siege to Assisi itself for many days. Clare told her nuns that they, who had received their bodily necessities from the city, now owed it all the assistance in their power. She bade them cover their heads with ashes and beseech Christ as suppliants for its deliverance. For a whole day and night they prayed with all their might- and with many tears, and then "God in his mercy so made issue with temptation that the besiegers melted away and their proud leader with them, for all he had sworn an oath to take the city."

Another story, which became very popular in later times, told how Clare and one of her nuns once left their cloister and went down to the Portiuncula to sup with Francis, and how a marvelous light radiated from the room where they sat together. However, no contemporary mentions this story, nor any other writer for at least one hundred and fifty years, whereas Thomas of Celano says that he often heard Francis warning his followers to avoid injudicious association with the sisters, and he states flatly that Clare never left the enclosure of St. Damian.

During her life and after her death there was disagreement at intervals between the Poor Clares and the Brothers Minor as to their correct relations. The nuns maintained that the friars were under obligation to serve their needs in things both spiritual and temporal. When in 1230 Pope Gregory IX forbade the friars to visit the convents of the nuns without special license, Clare feared the edict might lead to a complete severing of the ties established by Francis. She thereupon dismissed every man attached to her convent, those who served their material needs as well as those who served them spiritually; if she could not have the one, she would not have the other. The Pope wisely referred the matter to the minister general of the Brothers Minor to adjust. After long years of sickness borne with sublime patience, Clare's life neared its end in the summer of 1253. Pope Innocent IV came to Assisi to give her absolution, remarking, "Would to God I had so little need of it!" To her nuns she said, "Praise the Lord, beloved daughters, for on this most blessed day both Jesus Christ and his vicar have deigned to visit me." Prelates and cardinals gathered round, and many people were convinced that the dying woman was truly a saint. Her sister Agnes was with her, as well as three of the early companions of Francis-Leo, Angelo, and Juniper. They read aloud the Passion according to St. John, as they had read it at the death-bed of Francis twenty-seven years before. Someone exhorted Clare to patience and she replied, "Dear brother, ever since through His servant Francis I have known the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, I have never in my whole life found any pain or sickness that could trouble me." To herself she was heard to say, "Go forth without fear, Christian soul, for you have a good guide for your journey. Go forth without fear, for He that created you has sanctified you, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother."

Pope Innocent IV and his cardinals assisted at the funeral of the abbess. The Pope would have had her canonized immediately had not the cardinals present advised against it. His successor, Alexander IV, canonized her after two years, in 1255, at Anagni. Her body, which lay first in the church of St. George in Assisi, was translated to a stately church built to receive it in 1260. Nearly six hundred years later, in 1850, it was discovered, embalmed and intact, deep down beneath the high altar, and subsequently removed to a new shrine in the crypt, where, lying in a glass case, it may still be seen. In 1804 a change was made in the rule of the Poor Clares, originally a contemplative order, permitting these religious to take part in active work. Today there are houses of the order in North and South America, Palestine, Ireland, England, as well as on the Continent. The emblem of St. Clare is a monstrance, and in art she is frequently represented with a ciborium.

Saint Clare, Virgin, Foundress of the Poor Clares. Celebration of Feast Day is August 12th by the pre-1970 liturgical calendar and August 11th (the actual date of her death) by the present one.

Taken from "Lives of Saints", Published by John J. Crawley & Co., Inc.

August 11th is the Feast day of St. Clare of Assisi and 800th Celebration for the Poor Clares

From the Divine Office, Matins (Office of Readings) Second Reading:

A letter of St Clare to Blessed Agnes of Prague:

Consider the poverty, humility and charity of Christ

Happy the soul to whom it is given to attain this life with Christ, to cleave with all one’s heart to him whose beauty all the heavenly hosts behold forever, whose love inflames our love, the contemplation of whom is our refreshment, whose graciousness is our delight, whose gentleness fills us to overflowing, whose remembrance makes us glow with happiness, whose fragrance revives the dead, the glorious vision of whom will be the happiness of all the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem. For he is the brightness of eternal glory, the splendour of eternal light, the mirror without spot.
Look into that mirror daily, O queen and spouse of Jesus Christ, and ever study therein your countenance, that within and without you may adorn yourself with all manner of virtues, and clothe yourself with the flowers and garments that become the daughter and chaste spouse of the most high King. In that mirror are reflected poverty, holy humility and ineffable charity, as, with the grace of God, you may perceive.
Gaze first upon the poverty of Jesus, placed in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes. What marvellous humility! What astounding poverty! The King of angels, Lord of heaven and earth, is laid in a manger. Consider next the humility, the blessed poverty, the untold labours and burdens which he endured for the redemption of the human race. Then look upon the unutterable charity with which he willed to suffer on the tree of the cross and to die thereon the most shameful kind of death. This mirror, Christ himself, fixed upon the wood of the cross, bade the passers-by consider these things: ‘All you who pass this way look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow.’ With one voice and one mind let us answer him as he cries and laments, saying in his own words: ‘I will be mindful and remember and my soul shall languish within me.’ Thus, O queen of the heavenly King, may you ever burn more ardently with the fire of this love.
Contemplate further the indescribable joys, the wealth and unending honours of the King, and sighing after them with great longing, cry to him: ‘Draw me after you: we shall run to the fragrance of your perfumes, O heavenly bridegroom.’ I will run and faint not until you bring me into the wine cellar, until your left hand be under my head and your right hand happily embrace me and you kiss me with the kiss of your mouth.
In such contemplation be mindful of your poor little mother and know that I have inscribed your happy memory indelibly on the tablets of my heart, holding you dearer than all others.

Lord God, in your mercy
you led Saint Clare to the love of poverty.
Help us, by her intercession,
to follow Christ in poverty of spirit,
so that, in the kingdom of heaven,
we may see you in your glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Saint Clare (1193/4 - 1253)

She was born at Assisi and came under the influence of Saint Francis. She left home at the age of 18 and, under Francis’s guidance, began a community that grew to become the order of the Poor Clares (she was later joined both by her sister and by her widowed mother). In its radical attachment to poverty the Rule of the order was much more severe than that of any other order of nuns. In 1215 Clare obtained from the Pope the privilege of owning nothing, so that the nuns of the order were to be sustained by alms and nothing else. Such a rule was (like the Franciscan rule) both a challenge to established structures and a risk to those who followed it, and successive Popes tried to modify it. In 1247 Pope Innocent IV promulgated a new Rule that allowed the ownership of communal property: Clare rewrote it. A later attempt at mitigation in 1263 partly succeeded (perhaps because Clare was dead by then): some communities followed the old, strict rule and some followed the new.
Clare was a noted contemplative and a caring mother to her nuns. She died at Assisi in 1253.
See the articles in the Catholic Encyclopaedia and Wikipedia.
The drift towards laxity and the desire for strictness are part of the history of every religious order. In the history of most monasteries, for example, one can find both a steady relaxation of the rule and a desire on the part of some members of the community to be more severe and ascetic – possibly even to become hermits. The Maronist Saint Sharbel Makhluf is one example; the Trappist Thomas Merton is another. In our own lives, too, we are always oscillating between being too strict and being too lax. It seems to be a universal tension in the human race.
                          Preserved tunic and cape worn by St. Clare of Assisi
     The place in their dormitory where St. Clare died in San Damiano Convent, Assisi.

Urn containing the remains of St. Clare of Assisi.

Litany of St. Clare of Assisi - for her feast day tomorrow, August 11th

  Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

O Christ, hear us.
O Christ, graciously hear us.
O God the Father, of Heaven:
have mercy upon us.
O God the Son, Redeemer of the world:
O God, the Holy Ghost:
O Holy Trinity, one God:
have mercy upon us.
Holy Mary:
Pray for us.
Immaculate Virgin:
Mother and Mistress of our Order:
Pray for us.
St. Clare, first-born of thy Order:
Pray for us.
St. Clare, spouse of the Crucified:
St. Clare, lover of the Blessed Sacrament:
St. Clare, lover of the Sacred Heart:
St. Clare, lover of the Sacred Wounds:
St. Clare, lover of the Sacred Name:
St. Clare, lover of the Sacred Gospel:
St. Clare, to thy mother forenamed "resplendent":
St. Clare, resplendent with the light of Jesus:
St. Clare, resplendent in thy noble heritage:
St. Clare, resplendent in thy renunciation thereof:
St. Clare, resplendent in clinging to the altar as thy portion:
St. Clare, resplendent as first abbess of a great Order:
St. Clare, resplendent in putting the Saracens to flight:
St. Clare, resplendent in reparation for the sins of the world:
St. Clare, resplendent in wondrous miracles:
St. Clare, little plant of St. Francis:
St. Clare, princess of the poor:
St. Clare, duchess of the humble:
St. Clare, mistress of the chaste:
St. Clare, abbess of the penitent:
St. Clare, alabaster box of ointment broken at the feet of Jesus:
St. Clare, received at death by a choir of virgins:
St. Clare, censer of sweet perfume filling heaven and earth:
Pray for us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world:
spare us, O Lord.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world:
graciously hear us, O Lord.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world:
have mercy upon us.
V. Pray for us, O blessed Clare. Alleluia.
R. That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ. Alleluia. 
  Let us pray.

O God Who hast raised up blessed Clare as a shining lamp of holiness to lighten the way before a multitude of virgins: by her merits and prayers grant to us who do call to mind her commemoration, that in this life we may walk in Thy light, and in the life to come, may forever enjoy the light of Thy countenance. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Today is the Feast of Bl. Agathangelus and Cassian, Priests and Martyrs, First Order


Agathangel was born in Vendome in 1589 and Cassian in Nantes in 1607. Both received the habit of the Franciscan Order among the Capuchins and were sent to the African missions shortly after they had completed their studies. They met in Cairo. There they learned of the persecution of the Christians in Abyssinia. Filled with a desire to labor and suffer for Christ among their separated brethren, they went to that country. They had scarcely begun their work when they were seized and put in chains. They languished in prison for the space of a month, and then during another 25 days they were dragged to Gondar amid unheard-of treatment and during the extreme heat of a July sun. The king intended to force them to renounce their faith.

Father Cassian replied with firm determination: "We wish to live and die as children of the Catholic, apostolic, and Roman Church, outside of which there is no salvation. We do not wish to purchase our lives with the price of infamous apostasy. We do not wish to enjoy honors and riches, which you offer us at the price of our immortal souls."

Both confessors were then sentenced to he hanged. When the executioners were looking about for ropes, the two confessors, inflamed with a desire for martyrdom, called out: "If you need ropes, use our cords." So it was done. A few moments later the holy missionaries had won the crown of martyrdom. This happened on August 7, 1638. Pope Pius X beatified them with great solemnity.


1. Because it has been founded by Christ as the institution of salvation, the Catholic Church is the only one in which we can be saved. Christ always speaks of only one Church: "On this rock, I will build My Church," "he who will not hear the Church...", "there will be but one flock and one shepherd..." The Church would forfeit its own rights where it to recognize any other churches. The martyrs eloquently proclaimed this truth to the world by laying down their lives for the Faith and in defence of the only saving Church. -- We too must have the spirit of the martyrs; we must be ready to act as they did.

2. The Catholic Church, as the body of Christ, is the only saving Church. It is the mystical body of Christ, the incarnate Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Is it possible to think of more than one body belonging to this Head? That is plainly impossible. Besides, it is the task of the Church to lead souls to God. There is only one such goal, and there cannot be various ways which are opposed to one another, as in the non-Catholic churches. The Catholic Church, therefore, says with Christ: "I am the way" (John 14:6). Be faithful to this way.

3. The Catholic Church is the only saving Church for all men. Of her it can be said: "Neither is there salvation in any other" (Acts 4:12). That is: He who attains to salvation is saved through the Church. either as a member of the Church or as belonging to the soul of the Church. Non-Catholics and heathens will be saved through the Church, if they live according to the dictates of their conscience and co-operate with the necessary graces which God gives them and thus belong to the soul of the Church. -- Rejoice that you are a member of the Church, and pray for those who are not within the fold.


O God, who didst inflame Blesseds Agathangel and Cassian with Thy love and grant them to shed their blood for Thee, graciously grant at their intercession we may in this life so struggle against the enemy of our salvation that we may merit to be crowned by Thee in heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press

(below is from a online translator of Spanish to English - will be errors)

From a letter of Blessed Agathangelus
Cardinal Prefect
of  the Propagation of the Faith Congregation

Eminence and Patron: Finding myself last month in Jerusalem, Reverend Father Guardian showed me the letter from the eminent Cardinals of the Sacred Congregation, in which it was stated that:"Your Paternity we notified the father apparently Paul of Lodi on the legality and desirability of visiting the churches of heretics and schismatics, keeping heart inside the security in the Catholic faith. This review is judged wrong by the Sacred Congregation, so you can not maintain this practice. "After I moved to Egypt and I submitted the question to three Our Fathers, theologians, and the trial of Father Archangel of Pistoia. The opinion of these parents is according to my staff, so I venture to submit to your Eminence as the youngest son, and I judge to be the most suitable for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, but always ready to accept any correction that I deserve, if I am not in the truth. The parents mentioned theologians studied the problem thoroughly, identified several recitals, we can reduce to four: that such communication does not result in Divinis scandal that there is no danger of losing the faith is not involved in any criminal act or ceremony which may mean heresy suppose not expressly approved such heresy or heretical rite.To obtain an accurate and judge aright these four conditions, timely insight into the true circumstances of place, time, existing rites classes here and other special situations, and the full knowledge it will never correct formation theologians and doctors of Christianity, by ignoring the specific customs of these places. So, in my humble opinion, I think this problem should be subject to the conscience of the missionaries, who think that communication with heretics and schismatics have to stay here and not be impeded for any reason, because otherwise would practice to eliminate the possibility of finding other means, other roads and other hope of doing good in these missions, and even create serious impediments existing peaceful relations.Given these important considerations and several others which I omit for the sake of brevity, allow me to quote the judgment of the glorious martyr and saint Pope Martin: "It is safe rule in times of persecution to be condescending, provided that this does not trespass or contempt, but rather narrowness and distress, that the need will always judge things with mercy, being benign and omitting, for better times, greater demands. " Copts abound here, and I took the trouble to examine their liturgical books, not finding in them no error except the heretics invocation Dioscorus and Severus. This is why I allowed our priests to use these books in the celebration of Mass, omitting only invoking heretics aforementioned, and so they do not have originated in this scandal any faithful people.

Start Novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe today! Two Novena's below:

"I don’t want to overlook those who adhere to the Novus Ordo calendar. Thanks to MJD for sending this to me, here is a Novena for the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, which is on Aug. 14 in the Novus Ordo calendar (he’s not in the TLM calendar, as he was not a Saint, yet, when the calendar was last updated in 1962).

I can attest that St. Maximilian’s intercessions are quite powerful.
Why call on this saint for help?

Because he is known as the patron of our difficult age and a heavenly intercessor for:
  1. drug, alcohol and sexual addictions
  2. eating disorders
  3. the pro-life movement
  4. healing,spiritual, mental and physical conversionsFr_Maximilian_Kolbe_1936
  5. families
  6. prisoners
  7. success in a new ministry
Start novena prayer today!
O St. Maximilian Kolbe,
faithful follower of St. Francis,
inflamed by the love of God
you dedicated your life to the practice of virtue
and to works of the apostolate.
Look down with favor upon us
who devoutly confide in your intercession, especially for:
(here mention your special requests)
Having consecrated yourself to the Immaculate Virgin Mary,
you inspired countless souls to a holy life
and various forms of the apostolate
in order to do good to others
and to spread the kingdom of God.
Obtain for us the grace by our lives and labors img-20080513194124-maximilian-kolbe
to draw many souls to Christ.
In your close conformity to our Divine Savior
you reached such an intense degree of love
that you offered your life to save a fellow prisoner.
Implore God that we,
inflamed by such ardent charity,
may through our living faith and our apostolic works
witness Christ to others,
and thus merit to join you in the blessed vision of God.

(the above from a great blog:

A longer Novena to St. Maximilian is:

Opening Prayer to St. Maximilian

O St. Maximilian Kolbe, faithful follower of St. Francis, inflamed by the love of God you dedicated your life to the practice of virtue and to works of the apostolate.

Look down with favor upon us who devoutly confide in your intercession.
Having consecrated yourself to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, you inspired countless souls to a holy life and various forms of the apostolate in order to do good to others and to spread the kingdom of God. Obtain for us the grace by our lives and labors to draw many souls to Christ.

In your close conformity to our Divine Savior you reached such an intense degree of love that you offered your life to save a fellow prisoner. Implore God that we, inflamed by such ardent charity, may through our living faith and our apostolic works witness Christ to others, and thus merit to join you in the blessed vision of God. Amen.

(Readings and Meditations for each day of novena are given here to be followed each day by the closing Novena prayer at the very bottom.)

Day 1: Maximilian's Call to Holiness

Reading: Raymond Kolbe was born of poor parents in Poland on January 7, 1894. Raymond came to love the Blessed Virgin quite early in life. This devotion did not prevent him from getting into trouble. His lively nature tried the patience of his mother. Once she remarked in exasperation, "Raymond, what is going to become of you?" After this incident there was a noticeable change in his behavior. His mother became worried. Upon questioning him, she found Raymond at first reluctant to tell her his "secret." Finally he told her how much her reproach had troubled him. He had prayed to Mary, and asked her the same question, "Mother of God, what will become of me?" She took compassion on the miserable boy and appeared to him holding in her hands two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked Raymond which one he would choose; the white signified purity, the red martyrdom. "I choose both" he answered. 

Meditation: Every genuine conversion experience be it that of a mischievous child or that of a hardened adult involves the individual's humble recognition of his own weaknesses and capacity for sin. May Maximilian's humility be ours in our pursuit of Christian holiness through ongoing conversion.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer. 

Day 2: Maximilian Discerns God's Will 

Reading: When Raymond Kolbe was a seminary student at Lwow, Poland, he bowed his face to the floor during Mass one day and promised the most holy Virgin that he would fight for her. It was a surprising thing to do, especially since he had already chosen to be a Franciscan priest. Not knowing how he was to fulfill his promise he began to picture to himself a struggle with material weapons. The more he thought about it the more he felt attracted to a military career, fighting for the freedom of his homeland under the banner of Our Lady of Czestochowa. Finally, he decided he had made a mistake: he would give up the idea of studying for the priesthood. He was on his way to inform the Minister Provincial of his decision when he was called to the parlor. His mother had just arrived for a visit. What Maria Kolbe told her son we do not know, but shortly afterward Raymond was invested in the Conventual Franciscan habit and took the name Maximilian Maria. 

On September 5, 1911, he made his first vows. The following year, another crisis arose, and again Maximilian Kolbe's destiny hung in the balance. His superiors had decided to send him to Rome for philosophical and theological studies, but Friar Maximilian requested that his name be stricken from the list. That night he reconsidered. Had he not placed his own will in the way of God's will as expressed by his superiors? Was it not better to obey? The following morning he told his Provincial that he was prepared to go to Rome.

Meditation: Discernment of the direction that God wishes our lives to take requires an absolute truthfulness with oneself and God. May Maximilian's inner honesty be ours as we strive continually to do God's will.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer. 

Day 3: Maximilian's Consecration to Mary

Reading: It was in Rome that Friar Maximilian learned the true meaning of his call to fight for Mary. Exposed to the rabid anti-Christian forces that burgeoned in Europe he saw the need for a new era of evangelization that would bring all peoples back to God. Suddenly during prayer one morning, Friar Maximilian was enlightened to understand the critical importance of the role God had given Mary in this work. Meditating on the Miraculous Medal conversion story of Alphonse Ratisbonne, a young nineteenth-century Jewish agnostic, Friar Maximilian was illumined to perceive Mary's role as the Holy Spirit's indispensable partner and instrument in the evangelizing work of conversion and growth in holiness. He saw that this work was a spiritual war with Satan, and that Mary needed consecrated souls to serve as her knights in this battle. Maximilian lost little time putting this inspiration into action. 

On October 16, 1917, he and six fellow Franciscans established the Militia of the Immaculata (MI) movement. Its goal was as simple and vast as the Church's mission: the interior transformation of all souls in Christ through the Immaculata. To achieve this goal, Friar Maximilian proposed a practical spirituality of "Total Consecration to Mary." He and all "MIs" would make a free and total offering of themselves to Our Lady, so that they might become instruments in her work for Christ.

Meditation: True consecration to Mary is a Marian way of livinga life of close union with Christ through the Holy Spirit. May we find in Maximilian's spirituality of Marian consecration a powerful means for living Christ's Gospel and spreading it to others.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer. 

Day 4: Maximilian's Faith

Reading: After his ordination, Father Maximilian returned to Poland in July 1919, worn by tuberculosis. Despite his poor health, he was assigned to the Franciscan friary at Cracow where the climate is fatal to tubercularsas a university professor. Not only was his body exhausted but at times his soul was harrowed by ridicule from some of his own Franciscan confreres. He had hoped on returning to interest all the friars at Cracow in his work. A good number of priests, brothers and student friars did respond to his call, but others shrugged their shoulders. They listened to him, then laughed among themselves, calling him a bore and a dreamer. One friar even found a nickname which delighted the detractors for awhile: "Marmalade." The young priest walked very slowly, like animated marmalade, to avoid any abrupt movement that could provoke hemorrhage. Maximilian bore this mockery with patience and mildness. Faith, alone, allowed him to find in God and the Immaculata the affirmation and support that some of his confreres initially denied him.

Meditation: When all seems lost and one is stripped of everything, there remains one vital source of spiritual energy: faith. May Maximilian's faith be ours, especially when adversity robs us of the affirmation and support we crave.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer. 

Day 5: Maximilian's Hope

Reading: Through Father Maximilian's efforts, the influence of the MI movement began to spread through Poland in the 1920s. As distances became too great for his one unaided human voice to reach, Maximilian realized that only the printed word would suffice. With a complete lack of capital, but full trust in providence, he began publishing the Knight of the Immaculata (Rycerz Niepokalanej) a sixteen-page magazine. Once when bankruptcy seemed imminent, he threw himself at the feet of the Immaculata and begged for help. As he was about to leave the church, he found an envelope on the altar with these words on it, "For thee, O Immaculate Mother." Inside was the exact sum to pay the debt. 

In 1927 when quarters for his printshop became too small, he entered into negotiations to purchase a large tract of land for a whole "City of the Immaculata" (Niepokalanow), where he and the friars would expand their apostolate. However, he again lacked capital. He explained to the landowner, Prince Drucki-Lubecki, that he could not afford the price. Abruptly the Prince decided to make a free gift of it to Maximilian and the friars. By 1939 Niepokalanow had become the largest Franciscan friary in the world with over 700 friars and students. The circulation of their magazine exceeded 750,000 copies per month.

Meditation: When the customary human solutions to the complexities that beset our lives prove ineffective, we are placed in a situation of total dependence upon God. May Maximilian's unflagging hopea complete trust in God's providencebe ours throughout the course of our life.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer. 

Day 6: Maximilian's Sanctification of Labor

Reading: Father Maximilian's zeal for the inner conversion and sanctification of all people was not confined by national boundaries. With appropriate ecclesiastical permission, he and four other friars sailed to the Orient in 1930. They established themselves in Japan, where they hoped to publish the Knight of the Immaculata in Japanese. As a condition to publish the magazine, Father Maximilian was obliged to teach philosophy in the diocesan seminary. In exchange, the bishop would allow diocesan priests to help in the translating of articles into the Japanese language. Remarkably, Father Maximilian was able to publish the first issue of Seibo no Kishi within one month of his arrival. Father Maximilian soon founded a second City of the Immaculata, Mugenzai no Sono. Throughout his apostolic labors in Japan, Father Maximilian suffered constantly from high fevers, violent headaches, and abscesses, due to overwork and an inadequate diet. He concealed these problems so well, however, that for some time only his most intimate companions had any awareness of the seriousness of his condition.

Meditation: Work can serve to enhance our dignity as God's people, when we work diligently to nourish our families and build up God's kingdom. May Maximilian's zealous commitment to each task at hand stimulate our own religious zeal for the daily work that God has entrusted to us.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer. 

Day 7: Maximilian's Obedience

Reading: Scarcely two months after his arrival in Japan and the first publication of a Japanese version of the Knight of the Immaculata, Father Maximilian was summoned by his superiors to defend this enterprise at the Province Chapter in Lwow, Poland. Obedient as always, he left Japan for this meeting, but his heart was heavy because there was no one capable of maintaining the gigantic work in his absence. Father Maximilian had no doubts that only through full obedience would his own labors for the Immaculata's cause be fruitful. At the chapter, the very future of the Japanese Niepokalanow was put to question. The expenses were heavy, and the capitular friars discussed the prudence of undertaking such a foolish venture. Father Maximilian followed his usual tactics. Having explained all his arguments and spoken from the abundance of his heart, he remained silent, waited, closed his eyes, with his hands under his capuche he held his rosary and very slowly while his superiors discussed the business he summoned his council, reciting innumerable Hail Marys. He won on all scores and returned to Japan with full permission to continue the Immaculata's work there.

Meditation: Submission to legitimate authority frees us from the tyranny of our own willfulness, stubbornness or selfishness. May Maximilian's obedience to authority in the Church move our consciences along the lines of a more generous obedience to Christ's chosen representatives.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer. 

Day 8: Maximilian and the Eucharist 

Reading: Under Father Maximilian's spiritual leadership, the friars of Niepokalanow and Mugenzai no Sono had incredible success in their press apostolate. Their secret for success was a community life of prayer centered on the Eucharist. In the mid-1930s, when the friars of Niepokalanow were about to inaugurate their first newspaper, the Maly Dziennik (Little Journal), they had formidable opponents in the secular press of Poland. For nine days, the friars prayed day and night before the Blessed Sacrament. The newspaper venture met with a tremendous success. Years later, Father Maximilian initiated a program of daytime adoration of the Eucharist at Niepokalanow. This began on December 8, 1939, the day on which Father Maximilian and the friars were released from a three-month imprisonment by their Nazi captors. He immediately introduced adoration of the Eucharist in order to increase his "active forces of prayer." Every half hour, day after day, a fresh group of four friars took its place before our Lord in the tabernacle. This became the friars' primary apostolate.

Meditation: For every Christian, prayer is not a luxury but a necessity. Maximilian knew that prayer before the Eucharist is the ultimate source for fruitful Christian living. May our own reverence for the Eucharist reflect this same conviction.

Please turn to the Novena Prayer. 

Day 9: Maximilian's Love

Reading: On February 17, 1941, Father Maximilian was arrested by the Gestapo for the second time. Subjected to extreme cruelty throughout his captivity, Father Maximilian prepared himself and his fellow prisoners for the ultimate moment: "They will not kill our souls . . . they will not be able to deprive us of the dignity of a Catholic. We will not give up." 

Love was to impel Father Maximilian to become a "martyr of charity" in the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp. After the escape of a prisoner, ten inmates were condemned to death by starvation. Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek cried out, "What will happen to my poor family?" At that moment, Father Maximilian slipped out of line, and boldly asked the commandant if he could take the place of Sergeant Gajowniczek. The astounded officer consented. Amidst the horror of the death bunker, love triumphed. Daily prayers, rosaries and hymns were heard as Father Maximilian ministered to his nine fellow victims. Finally after two weeks, on August 14, 1941, the Nazis hastened Maximilian's death by the injection of carbolic acid.

Meditation: True charity always places the needs of others ahead of our own because true charity sees Christ himself mirrored in the face of others. May Maximilian's total love for God and neighbor always through the Immaculata
characterize our own approach to Christ in others.

Novena Prayer for St. Maximilian's Intercession

O Lord Jesus Christ, who said, "Greater love than this no man has that a man lay down his life for his friends," through the intercession of St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose life illustrated such love, we beseech you to grant our petitions. (Pause here to mention the special requests you have.)
Through the Militia of the Immaculata movement, which Maximilian founded, he spread a fervent devotion to Our Lady throughout the world. He gave up his life for a total stranger and loved his persecutors, giving us an example of unselfish love for all people, a love that was inspired by true devotion to Mary.
Grant, O Lord Jesus, that we too may give ourselves entirely without reserve to the love and service of our heavenly Queen in order that we may better love and serve our neighbor in imitation of your humble servant, Maximilian. Amen.

(above long novena from: