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  • Marian Reflections

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Marian thought for September

“The name of Mary is a name of salvation for those who are regenerated; it is the insignia of virtue, the honor of chastity, the pleasing sacrifice to God, the virtue of hospitality, the school of sanctity, a name altogether maternal.” (St. Peter Chrysologus)

St. Peter Chrysologus, Doctor of the Church, whose feast day we celebrate on July 30, was born in Imola, Italy. He was educated by Cornelius, the bishop of that city, who led him on the path of self-denial to reach God. He was consecrated bishop of Ravenna. Ravenna was a city full of pagans, many of whom converted thanks to his tireless efforts. The name “Chrysologus” was given to him for his gift of speech, seeing as how it means “the man of golden speech.” He spoke with simplicity and in a very practical and precise way. 176 of his sermons are conserved. He died on July 30, 451. He was named Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XII for his great wisdom in is sermons and writings.

Saint Maravillas of Jesus

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“I have taken the Most Blessed Virgin as Mother in a special way, and She is the one who is also in charge of preparing me, protecting me, and sheltering me. How good is this sweetest of Mothers!” – St. Maravillas of Jesus

St. Maravillas of Jesus was born in Madrid, Spain, on November 4, 1891. The desire to consecrate herself to God existed in the heart of Maria de las Maravillas de Jesús since childhood. She entered the Carmel of El Escorial on October 12, 1919, attracted by the spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross and stirred by a great love for the Virgin Mary.

In 1924, she founded a monastery of Discalced Carmelites in El Cerro de los Angeles next to the monument to the Sacred Heart in Madrid. There, the Carmelites prayed and offered themselves for the Church and for Spain.

During the religious persecution in Spain, Mother Maravillas demonstrated a great spirit of fortitude and her great serenity and trust in the Lord was shown forth.

Her desire to faithfully live the rule of St. Teresa led her to found another ten Carmels, recovering the traditional places of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross. She was prioress for many years, during which she taught her Sisters the virtues, above all, by her own example.

She was known for her mystical life, apostolic zeal, and for uniting goodness and firmness. She died in the Carmel of La Aldehuela on December 11, 1974, while saying, “How happy I am to die a Carmelite!”
She was beatified on May 10, 1998 and canonized on May 4, 2003.

St. Bonaventure

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“Men do not fear a powerful hostile army as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary.”

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.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld

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"My good Mother, Mother of Perpetual Help, to whom I confide and consecrate myself to you now as I did some years ago, you have helped me so much by faithfully guarding and leading me. My dearest Mother, keep me always close to you... I entrust myself to your care as a helpless little child… I abandon myself to you like a baby in your arms... Guard me, guard my heart, and grant that night, day and always, both myself and those whom Jesus has entrusted to us here, may...share unceasingly your love, your contemplation, your adoration in our Lord."

Charles de Foucauld was born on September 15, 1858, in Strasbourg, France. At the age of six, he was left an orphan. He and his sister were taken care of by his grandfather. Between 1872-1875, he studied with the Jesuits in Nancy and Paris. In 1876, he joined the military academy. He was sent as an officer to Setif, Algeria in 1880, to be dismissed only a year later for improper conduct. He learned Arabic and Hebrew, and in 1883 went on an expedition to the Moroccan desert. Afterwards, he explored Algeria and Tunisia, later returning to Paris in 1886 to work on his book about Morocco. It was during that time, in 1886, that he underwent a deep conversion. Having reflected on Islam and its followers, he thought that they took their faith seriously. He, on the other hand, had left his faith, squandering money and going on adventures. It was then that he began to pray, “Lord, if you exist, let me come to know you.” One of his friends took him to Fr. Huvelin, who ordered him to confess. He obeyed and came out a new man. He said, “As soon as I believed in God, I understood that I could not do otherwise than to live for Him alone. My religious vocation dates from the same moment as my faith: God is so great.” From that moment on, he lived a very simple life, sleeping on the floor and praying for many hours each day. He joined the Trappist monks but ended up leaving because his heart and his calling was in Africa, where the people still did not know Christ. He went to the Holy Land and afterwards returned to France to study for the priesthood. He was ordained on June 9, 1901. At the end of the same year, he went to live in Oran Sur, near Morocco to establish an order to evangelize Moroccans. In 1902, he began to buy slaves in order to free them. In 1904, he dedicated himself to the evangelization of Tuaregs. Eventually, he settled in the Saharan Desert in Tamanrasset in Hoggar, Algeria. In 1909, he founded the “Union of the Little Brothers and Sisters of the Sacred Heart” to evangelize the French colonies of Africa. He was shot and killed on December 1, 1916. He was beatified on November 13, 2005.

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.

Our Lady of Fatima

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"Are you suffering a great deal? Don’t lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God" (Our Lady's words to Sister Lucia in Fatima during the second apparition on June 13, 1917).

Lucia was born on March 22, 1907 in Aljustrel, Fatima (Portugal). When she saw Our Lady for the first time she was only 10 years old. In 1921, she entered the Dorothean Sisters but it was God's plan that she would become a Discalced Carmelite Nun. This finally took place in 1948 when she entered the Carmelite Convent of "St. Teresa" in Coimbra (Portugal). Our Lady had said that Francisco and Jacinta would shortly go to Heaven but that Lucia must stay in order to make her messages known. That is what Lucia did until she died on February 13, 2005, after which, her cause of beatification has also been introduced. In her "memoires" she left us the narrative of the apparitions and other writings. Amongst her writings, the following passage can be read in which she speaks about the Rosary: "The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or, above all, spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families… that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary".

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.

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