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Marian thought for April

"Men do not fear a powerful hostile army as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary" (St. Bonaventure).

St. Bonaventure was born in Bagnoregio, Italy, in 1221. After taking the habit in the Franciscan Order, he left to study at the University of Paris. From 1248 until 1257 he taught theology and Sacred Scripture at this university. In 1257, St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas Aquinas received the title of doctor together. He was the author of several treatises, including one on the "Holiness of Life." Also in 1257 he was elected superior general of the Friars Minor. He was elected during a difficult time for the Franciscan Order due to a division between those who preached an inflexible severity and those who solicited a mitigation of the original rule. For this reason, he wrote a letter to the provincials demanding of them perfect observance of the rule and the reform of those relaxed. St. Bonaventure governed the Franciscan Order for 17 years, which is why he is known as the second founder. In 1266, Gregory X named him Cardinal Bishop of Albano, ordering him to accept the position out of obedience. St. Bonaventure is characterized by his simplicity, humility, and charity. He won the title of Seraphic Doctor for his angelic virtues, was canonized in 1482, and declared Doctor of the Church in 1588.

Saint Catherine of Siena

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“Most Holy Virgin, look not upon my weakness, but rather grant me the grace to take as my spouse He whom I love with all my soul, your Most Holy Son, our only Lord, Jesus Christ! I promise Him and you, that I will never take any other spouse.”

Catherine was born in Siena, Italy, on March 25, 1347. She was the second to last of the 25 children of Jacobo Benincasa and Lapa Piacenti. Catherine learned charity towards the poor from her father, and love of work and courage to take on arduous tasks from her mother.
The biography of St. Catherine is very long, but her love for and trust in the Virgin Mary from a very young age stand out among that information. Throughout her life she looked to the Virgin Mary for help and refuge. As a child she would go up and down the stairs praying Hail Mary’s. She offered herself to the Lord in front of an image of Our Lady, with the words of this Marian Thought. She took the Blessed Virgin as her only Mother when she was rejected by her family for not wanting to get married.
Under Our Lady’s gaze she lived and grew in humility, obedience, and charity.
She conquered her family with this attitude and was given permission to become a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic.
She dedicated herself generously to the poor and sick. Her heart belonged totally to the Lord, her only Spouse.
One of the mystical experiences that stands out the most is one that took place the day before her religious profession. She suddenly found herself in front of the Mother of God, who had a golden garment in her hands. With a soft and tender voice She said, “I have brought you this gown, my daughter, from the heart of my Son. It was hidden in the wound of his side as in a golden basket, and I made it for you with my own hands. With fervent love and humility, Catherine inclined her head, and the Virgin Mary placed the heavenly gown on her.
It was Our Lady that put Catherine’s hand in that of the Her Son’s in the Mystical marriage with Jesus.
St. Catherine lived her life growing in love of God and his “sweet Mother,” to whom she had recourse for herself and for others. She spoke trustingly to the Mother of Mercy praying for the conversion of hardened sinners, lifting her eyes to heaven and repeating Mary's name until she received the favor.
Catherine was very devout to the Child Jesus. One Christmas, while she prayed, she had a vision of Mary adoring the newborn Baby Jesus. Catherine implored Our Lady to let her hold Baby Jesus in her arms a moment. The Virgin Mary gave her Jesus with a smile.
During her life, Catherine suffered much for the Church. Our Lady sustained her in her sufferings. She reached sainthood in just 33 years, living and suffering heroically.
She was canonized by Pope Pius II in 1461, and proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970. John Paul II proclaimed her Co-Patroness of Europe in 1999.

St. Anthony

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“To thee, oh blessed Virgin, be praise and glory, because today we are filled with the goodness of thy house; that is, of thy womb.”

St. Anthony was born in Portugal. He is known as “of Padua” because of the Italian city of Padua where he died and where his relics can still be venerated today. Statues and devotion to him are found everywhere, which is why Leo XIII referred to him as “everyone’s Saint.” One biographer said of him, “He was powerful in deeds and in words. His body dwelled on this earth but his soul lived in Heaven.”

He was born in the year 1195. The name given to him at baptism was Fernando, but when he joined the Order of Friars Minor, he changed his name to that of Anthony because of his devotion to the great patriarch of monks and the official patron of the chapel in which he received the Franciscan habit.
From the time of his youth, he had many difficulties. He was harshly assaulted by temptations against purity, but he did not allow himself to be defeated and with the help of God, dominated his passions. He was strengthened by visiting the Most Blessed Sacrament. He renewed the consecration he had made as a child to the Most Blessed Virgin, to whom he had entrusted his purity.
In 1220, while he studied in Coimbra with the regular canons of St. Augustine, the King, Don Pedro of Portugal, brought relics of the Franciscan Friar Saints who shortly beforehand had obtained the glorious crown of martyrdom in Morocco. Upon seeing the relics, a deep desire was born in his heart to give his life for Christ. Shortly afterwards, some Franciscan Friars arrived to where he was and helped him to open his heart. He was admitted to the Order at the beginning of 1221 and almost immediately afterwards was given permission to journey to Morocco. His goal? To preach the Gospel to the Muslims. On his way, he fell gravely ill and was forced to return to Europe. Due to strong winds, the ship on which he sailed had to take a different route and stopped in Messina, the capital of Sicily. From there, he travelled to Assisi. St. Anthony, full of extraordinary intellectual and spiritual gifts, gave himself over to prayer and the service of the other Friars. Having discovered a great gift for preaching, he fully dedicated himself to it and eventually became very famous.
People came from all over to listen to him and touch him. He arrived at Padua. News spread of the miracles he performed and it was said of him that he radiated holiness. He said, “The great danger of the Christian is to preach and not practice, believe but not live according to what he believes.” His lived out what he preached. Despite his poor health, he completely dedicated himself to his Brothers and tirelessly worked for souls. In the spring of 1231, after having preached a series of sermons, St Anthony’s health declined and he took to rest. Aware of his imminent end, he asked to be taken to Padua. He never reached the city. On June 13, 1231, in the private room of the Poor Clares’ chaplain at Arcella, he received the last sacraments. He sang a hymn to the Blessed Virgin and smiling, said, “I see Our Lord coming,” and died.

He was canonized before a year had passed since his death and seven centuries later, Pope Pius XII declared St. Anthony a “Doctor of the Church.”

St. John Bosco

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“Love, honor, and serve Mary. Procure making Her known, loved, and honored by others. Not only will the child of this Mother not perish, but he could also aspire to a great crown in Heaven.”

St. John Bosco was born on August 16, 1815, in Becchi, 25 kilometers away from Turin. Margherita, his mother, was an extraordinary woman who educated her sons in poverty and strength of spirit. Francis, his father, died of pneumonia when John was just 2 years old. When he was 9, John Bosco had the first dream that marked the rest of his life. In it God's plans for him (his work with the youth to bring them to Jesus and Mary) were unveiled to him. His desire was to become a priest, and to that end drew people to his house on Sundays and preached to them by two pear trees. He completed his primary education at a public school near his house, and secondary school in Chieri. To pay for his studies, he had to do all kinds of jobs. Finally, he was able to gain access to studies for the priesthood. He was ordained on June 5, 1841, and celebrated his first Mass in Turin. Immediately he dedicated himself to picking up street kids to form what would later be known as the Oratories of St. Francis de Sales. To attend to them, he founded the Salesian Priests who soon spread all throughout Italy, France, and Spain. St. John Bosco loved the youth and tried to educate them, tirelessly dedicating his entire life to this end. He died on January 31, 1888.

From the Gospel of St. John

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"Do whatever he tells you" (John 2:5).

Sacred Scripture contains very few words pronounced by the Virgin Mary. Some of them are the commandment she gave at the Wedding Feast at Cana.


"On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.” So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brethren and his disciples; and there they stayed for a few days" (John 2:1-12).

Mary is not far from our needs. As a good Mother she is aware of what we need and intercedes for us. At the same time she shows us something important: We must ask, but we must also act. What do we have to do? Whatever Jesus tells us. As always, Mary turns our gaze toward Him.

St. Teresa of Avila

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“Wonderful indeed it is, how pleasing to Our Lord is any service, which is done to his Mother.”

Saint Teresa was born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515. She is known for reforming the Carmelite Order and for her writings about prayer. Her devotion to Mary began when she was little. It grew at her mother’s death, when St. Teresa asked the Virgin Mary to be her mother, seeing as how she did not have a mother on earth anymore.
The inspiration of reforming the Carmelites came about after her own personal “conversion.” When she was young she felt a great interior attraction to holy things. However, she was also fascinated by the world, and found herself in great danger. Her father decided to put her in the Santa Maria de la Gracia boarding school when she was 16 years old. During that time, she felt the call to religious life and in 1535 she entered the Carmelite convent of the Incarnation in Avila. A short time after professing her vows, she fell ill and her father brought her out of the convent. She recovered from the illness, but suffered from certain consequences of it the rest of her life. During her long recovery she learned to do the prayer of recollection by reading several spiritual books, like The Third Spiritual Alphabet. She felt the call to solitude and silence, and found herself in a time of personal battle with her weakness and sins. She had an experience in Lent of 1554 that left a mark on her soul. While praying in front of an image of the wounded Christ, she felt moved and with tears implored that He give her strength so as not to offend Him anymore. After this, she felt such a great desire to live in a state of perfection that the reformation of the Carmelites came about. She spoke about her desires to her confessor. After some time, she was able to found the Convent of St. Joseph in Avila. An intense time of founding and writing activity began for Teresa. She opened 17 convents, the last being Burgos. On the way back from that foundation, she traveled to Alba de Tormes, Salamanca, where she died on the night of October 15, 1582.

Saint Teresa of the Andes

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"A sinner, like me, finds in you a protective mother, who has crushed the head of the dragon under your immaculate feet; in your eyes I find mercy, forgiveness and a shining light so as not to fall into the muddy waters of sin."

Saint Teresa was born into a Catholic family in Santiago, Chile on July 13th, 1900. Once she was 6 years old, she went to daily Mass with her mother and had a great desire to receive Holy Communion. She made her first Holy Communion on September 11th, 1910. She received communion daily and spent many hours with Jesus. The love that she had for the Mother of God gave her strength and sustained her in her path to follow Christ. By the time she was 14 years old she already knew that the Lord wanted her to be only His as a Carmelite. She helped prepare herself by reading the lives and writings of Carmelite saints. She entered into the Carmelite convent in 1919 and received the name “Teresa of Jesus.” She had been in the convent for less than a year when the Lord called her to Himself. Throughout her life she desired to resemble Christ: suffering and prayer were her ideals as a Carmelite. She died on April 12th, 1920 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in Rome on March 21, 1993.