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  • Marian Reflections

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Marian thought for February

«It was not enough for God to give us his Son on a Cross, but he also gave Mary to us. When we honor the Virgin Mary, we will love Jesus more. When we place ourselves under her mantle we will better understand divine mercy. How great is God, how sweet is Mary!» (St. Rafael Arnáiz)

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.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld

b carlos

"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.

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