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  • Marian Reflections

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Marian thought for April

"Do not worry about the squalls or the storms. Isn’t Mary with you? The Virgin is so good! There is no pain that she does not soften; there is no happiness that she does not sanctify"St. Rafael Arnaiz Baron.

St. Rafael Arnaiz Baron was born on April 9, 1911 in Burgos, Spain. He studied in the Jesuit school, where he received his First Holy Communion in 1919. He showed a very great openness to the things that had to do with God from a very early age. The first signs of the illness that would mark the rest of his life appeared in 1922. His father, who believed that his recovery was due to the Virgin Mary’s special intervention, took Rafael to Zaragoza in thanksgiving and consecrated him to Our Lady of Pilar. As years went by, he developed many different traits, such as friendship. He also grew in his Christian life. God placed the desire in his heart to consecrate himself in monastic life. He met the Trappist monks of San Isidro de Dueñas and felt very attracted to that life, because he saw that it corresponded to his intimate desires. He entered there on January 15, 1934. He had to leave the convent three times due to the diabetes that God mysteriously used to test him. Each time he returned, he came back with more desires to be generous and faithful. These desires were fulfilled on April 26, 1938, when he left this world at only 27 years of age. He was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II in 1992 and canonized on October 11, 2009.

St. John XXIII

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"Oh Immaculate Mary, you are the morning star that dissipates the darkness of night; we come to you with great trust!"

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, later Pope John XXIII, was born on November 25, 1881 in Sotto il Monte inBergamo, Italy.
He was confirmed and received his First Holy Communion in 1889. Three years later, he entered the Seminary of Bergamo. In 1901, he went to the Pontifical Roman Seminary, thanks to scholarship that the Diocese of Bergamo offered him. He was ordained a priest on August 10, 1904, in the Church of Santa Maria in Montesanto, in Piazza del Popolo in Rome. The Bishop of Bergamo named him as his secretary. He continued this task until 1914. The war broke out in 1915 and he became a military chaplain for the hospitals. He also coordinated the moral and spiritual assistance to the soldiers. In 1919, he was named spiritual director of the Seminary of Bergamo. He was called to Rome by Pope Benedict XV, who named him the Italian president of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. From then on, he was given many important tasks, such as his nomination as Apostolic Visitor in Bulgaria. He was ordained bishop in 1925, and served as such in many parts of the world. In 1953, he was created cardinal, and on January 25 of that same year was sent to Venice as Patriarch. After Pius XII's death, he was elected Pope on October 28, 1958. His pontificate lasted 5 years, during which he showed himself as a true shepherd, humble and attentive, decisive and brave. During his pontificate, he summoned the Second Vatican Council, which was concluded by Bl. Paul VI. He died on June 3, 1963. He was beatified by John Paul II on September 3, 2000, and canonized on April 27, 2014 by Pope Francis.

St. Francis of Assisi

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"Hail Mary, Mother of God, in you was and remains, the whole fullness of grace and everything that is good."

St. Francis was born in Assisi (Italy) in the year 1182. During his youth, he led a worldly life, and, attracted by the world of chivalry, decided to become a soldier. He was imprisoned for a year after a battle between Perugia and Assisi. During that time period, he suffered a grave illness, which led him to change his life. He had a personal encounter with Our Lord and, leaving everything behind, Francis decided to follow Him in poverty. He practiced charity with those affected by leprosy and began working to restore a collapsed church. He started this mission after a vision in which Our Lord, from the crucifix of the abandoned church, asked Francis to repair His house. Although his father disinherited him, Francis preferred to renounce to his luxurious clothing and life rather than stop following Christ. He felt the call to go out into the world. When he returned to Assisi, he began to preach and, through his preaching, the first 12 disciples began to imitate his way of life. They would later become the first Franciscan brothers of the order. He led a life full of love for Our Lord and for poverty. He also traveled to the Holy Land and had an ardent desire to become a martyr. It was he who began the tradition of using Nativity scenes. He is also known for having received the stigmata (the signs of Christ’s crucifixion) and for writing the “Canticle of the Creatures.” He was very devoted to Our Lady. In his feverous prayers, he often asked her to be his “advocate.” St. Francis died on October 3, 1226. He was canonized on July 16, 1228.

Saint Faustina Kowalksa

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"O Mother, Virgin, this will no one comprehend, that the infinite God is becoming a man; It’s only love’s and His inscrutable mercy’s purpose. Through You, Mother - it’s given us to live with Him forever."

Saint Faustina Kowalska, whose baptismal name was Helen, was born in a town called Głogowiec, Poland, on August 25, 1905. From a young age, she was very sensitive to divine things; she often prayed and spoke with God. At the age of seven, she felt the call to the religious life for the first time. This call was later repeated when she was fifteen years old, but her parents did not give their consent for her entrance. She insisted again when she had turned eighteen, and, since her parents still refused to accept her vocation, she abandoned herself to life's vanities, trying to drown out the voice that was calling her, giving herself to creatures. Nonetheless, divine grace conquered in the end. One day, while she was at a dance, all of a sudden, Jesus appeared before her. He was covered with wounds and said to her, "How long will you keep putting me off?" She fled from the dance and went to the Cathedral of Saint Stanislaus Kostka. She fell prostrate and begged the Lord to make her know what she was supposed to do. The Lord answered that she had to go to Warsaw immediately, for she was to enter a convent there. And so it happened. She responded promptly, a characteristic that would mark the rest of her life. The Lord called her to be an Apostle of his Mercy, granting her private revelations in which He spoke to her of his Heart, full of love and mercy. He asked her to write and speak to the world of his infinite Mercy and to spread the devotion to his Divine Mercy. The revelations are collected in the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul. During her lifetime, she sought strength from the Mother of God to be able to respond and to be faithful to the Lord. On several occasions, she tells of how the Mother of God appeared to her, encouraging her in the mission that Jesus had entrusted to her. Saint Faustina died on October 5, 1938 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 18, 1993. She was later canonized by him on April 30, 2002.

St. Manuel Gonzalez

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"Immaculate Mother, teach me to repeat generously, firmly, and peacefully in everything and every moment, the answer you gave to the Angel Gabriel, "Be it done unto me according to your word."

St. Manuel Gonzalez was born in Seville, Spain, on February 25, 1877. Known as "the Bishop of the Abandoned Tabernacle," he tried to instill the great love he had for Jesus in the Eucharist in his faithful and those around him. Before reaching ten years of age, he was a choirboy who sang and danced before the Blessed Sacrament on the feasts of Corpus Christi and the Immaculate Conception. At twelve years of age, he entered the minor seminary and was at the top of all of his classes. He received his doctorate in Theology and his bachelor's degree in Canon Law after fifteen years of studying. He was ordained a priest in 1901 by Cardinal Spinola. He gave his first parish mission shortly after his ordination. He had an experience that convinced him of his mission to defend the Eucharist from abandonment. In a small down in Andalucía, he was shocked to find an abandoned tabernacle. Four years after his ordination, he was named archpriest of Huelva, Spain. In 1916, he was consecrated bishop of Malaga where he exercised his office for almost 20 years. On the night of May 11, 1931, a mass of people set fire to the Bishop's Palace. Miraculously, the bishop, together with his faithful, escaped from the flames. After this, he never returned to Malaga. As if exiled, he moved to Madrid, but in spite of all that had taken place, his zeal for Our Lord in the tabernacle continued. In 1935, he was named bishop of Palencia until 1940 when, after an illness, he passed away in Madrid on January 4, 1940. He was buried in the Cathedral of Palencia in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel as he had requested. "I ask that I may be buried alongside a tabernacle so that after my death, my bones, just like my tongue and my pen during my life, may repeat to those who pass by, 'Jesus is there! He is there! Do not abandon Him!'" He was beatified on April 29, 2001 and canonized by Pope Francis on October 16, 2016.

 

Venerable Maria Teresa Gonzalez Quevedo

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"My Mother, may those who look at me, see you."

Maria Teresa Gonzalez Quevedo was born in Madrid, Spain, on April 12, 1930. She was joyful, active and enthusiastic. She loved to play sports and had a great love for life. When she was 10 years old, she decided to become a saint, and from that moment on she began to grow in her spiritual life. She joined the Marian Congregation. Upon receiving a medal of Our Lady, she decided to write on the back of it the following phrase: “My Mother, may those who look at me, see you.” It was during the month of May when she spontaneously prayed from her heart: “My Mother, grant me the vocation to religious life!” God later showed her that He wanted her only for Him. One of her friends experienced the same thing, but decided to wait to respond when she was older, but Teresa, generous and decided, corrected her by saying: “How stingy and egotistical! How can you think that Jesus is going to accept you all worn out after you’ve offered the best of your life to the world! Jesus has better taste than that, and wants your youth with all its joys and dreams as an offering.” In February of 1948, she entered as a Carmelite of Charity. Upon seeing her self-offering, many of her friends discovered that giving oneself to God did not mean sadness or failure, but rather joy. A little more than a year later in May of 1949, she suffered a serious fever, indicating that something was not right, the cause of which was acute pleurisy. In her diary she wrote: “During Communion, I had such a desire to give myself completely to Jesus in order to show Him how much I loved Him, that I offered myself as a victim so that He could do with me what He wanted.” In January of 1950, she suffered a terrible headache. Her father, who was a doctor, diagnosed her with tuberculosis meningitis. On Holy Thursday of that same year, her state suddenly worsened and she exclaimed: “Jesus, I love you for all those who do not love you!” Before dying, she shouted: “My Mother, come and receive me… take me with you to Heaven!” A few minutes later, she left this earth. It was April 8, 1950. She was proclaimed venerable by Pope John Paul II on June 9, 1983.

Blessed Philip Rinaldi

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"If you do something for the Virgin Mary, she will do much more for you."

Bl. Philip Rinaldi was born on May 28, 1856, in the province of Alessandria, Italy. He had the joy of meeting St. John Bosco who later invited him to become a Salesian. He was ordained a priest in 1882, and a bit later was placed in charge of aspirants to the priesthood. He worked in Spain and Portugal. In 1901, John Bosco's successor named him vicar-general of the congregation. He never allowed his intense work to impide him from exercising his ministry as priest and spiritual guide. He was named Rector Major in 1922 and dedicated himself to the formation of the Salesians. He lived totally committed to his vocation. He fell ill during August 1928 and, realizing its gravity, stated on one occasion, "I have grown old, I must forget about the world." He died in the year 1931, and was beatified on April 9, 1990 by Saint John Paul II..