• Marian Reflections

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Marian thought for December

"I ask you, during this sweet time of Advent and the feast of Christmas, to visit the manger where the meek Lamb was laid. You will find Mary there, a foreigner and an exile, in such great poverty that she has nothing with which to dress the Son of God, nor fire to warm Him… Be sure to turn always to the Blessed Virgin, embracing the cross always." (From a letter written by St. Catherine of Siena).

Saint Therese of Lisieux

s terese

"What a joy to remember that she [Mary] is our Mother! Since she loves us and knows our weakness, what have we to fear?."

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus was born in Alençon, France on January 2, 1873. Therese, the youngest of five children, lost her mother at the age of five. She was educated by her sisters and her father, who taught her to love the poor and to pray. Her sister, who was like a mother to her, entered the Carmelite Order. This new cause of suffering for Therese brought with it the certainty of her own call to Carmel, and she desired to enter the monastery as well. Due to the fact that she was only 15 years old, she decided to ask for the Pope's permission while on a pilgrimage to Rome. She pleaded before the Pope and he answered, "You will enter if God wills it." She was finally able to enter the Carmelite monastery, where she lived her spiritual childhood very intensely. She knew how to offer up the seemingly little everyday things to the Lord. She lived in self-denial and offered herself as instrument in God's hands. She contracted tuberculosis when she was 23 years old, and died a year later on September 30, 1897. She was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1922 and canonized two years later. Her feast day is October 1st.


Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette Soubirous

s bernadette

"I do not promise you happiness in this life, but in the next."

Bernadette was born in Lourdes (France) in 1844. Her baptismal name, which later became her religious name, was Maria Bernarda, but everyone called her Bernadette. Although she still had not learned to read or write at the age of 14, nor was she able to learn her catechism lessons, she had many other qualities, like her honesty and devotion to Our Lady. She was graced with apparitions by Our Lady from February 11 to July 16, 1858, in which Our Blessed Mother confided to Bernadette her desire of having a chapel built in the place of the apparitions and that the people may go there in procession. She also spoke to her about the need to do penance. A fountain sprang up in the place of the apparitions, whose water became a fount of graces and of physical and spiritual miracles until today. One day, the Blessed Virgin said to her, “I do not promise you happiness in this life, but in the next,” and so it was. The life of St. Bernadette was a life of sickness, hardship and humiliations, but all these things helped her grow in holiness. Many people offered her money and other items, but she never accepted. Later on in her life, after the apparitions, Bernadette requested the entrance into the religious community of the Daughters of Charity in Nevers, France, where she would fulfill the duties of nurse and sacristan. She had much to suffer because of her poor health, and said “What I ask of Our Lord is not that he may grant me health, but that he may give me courage and strength to live my sickness with patience. To fulfill what the Blessed Virgin said, I offer my sufferings as penance for the conversion of sinners.” She only lived 15 years as a religious before dying, and nine of these years she spent suffering day and night from asthma and tuberculosis. She said in one occasion, “If someone has seen the Blessed Virgin just one time, he would be willing to do any sacrifice just to be able to see her again. She is so beautiful.” During her time as a religious, she was not allowed to speak about the apparitions but on April 16, 1879, the day in which she died, she exclaimed, “I saw Our Lady. Yes, I saw her, and how beautiful she was!” She was canonized by Pope Pio XI on December 8, 1933.


Blessed Paul VI

pablo vi

"The Blessed Virgin's role as Mother leads the People of God to turn with filial confidence to the one who is ever ready to listen with a mother's affection and efficacious assistance. Thus the People of God have learned to call on her as the Consoler of the afflicted, the Health of the sick, and the Refuge of sinners, that they may find comfort in tribulation, relief in sickness and liberating strength in guilt."

Blessed Paul VI was born in Concesio, near Brescia (Italy), on September 26, 1897. He felt the call to the priesthood and at 19 years of age entered the seminary in Brescia. He was ordained a priest on May 29, 1920. In Rome, he studied at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and later served as a member of the Secretariat of State. He had several important positions in Nunciatures and in the Secretariat of State until he was named Archbishop of Milan in 1954. Pope John XXIII named him Cardinal in 1958 and in 1963 he succeed John XXIII as Pope. He continued the labor of the Second Vatican Council. He wrote several encyclicals, apostolic exhortations, and letters, amongst which is the apostolic exhortation Marialis Cultus for the right ordering and development of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, which he signed on February 2, 1974. He died August 6, 1978 on the Feast of the Transfiguration.


St. John of the Cross

s juan cruz

"And the Mother of God is mine, because Christ belongs to me."

Saint John of the Cross was born on June 24, 1542 in Fontiveros, Avila, Spain. He entered the Order of Carmelites in 1563 and was ordained a priest in 1567. That same year, he met Saint Teresa of Avila who spoke to him about her plans for the Reform of the Order in which he also then took part.
In 1568, the first Discalced Carmelite Convent was established. There they lived a life of profound contemplation and great austerity. In 1577, he was imprisoned in Toledo because his intents to reform their monastic life, and it was during this time that he composed the Spiritual Canticle. He escaped from the prison and found refuge in another monastery, and later continued to found other convents, including one in Granada in the year 1584. That same year he finished his writings on the Spiritual Canticle and the Ascent of Mount Carmel; he also composed the Dark Night of the Soul and the Living Flame of Love.
He was arrested again in 1591 by the superiors who were against the Reform, and they enclosed him in a convent in Peñeula. He died in Úbeda on December 14, 1591. His last words were, "Into your hands Lord I commend my spirit."
He was canonized in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII and declared Mystic and Doctor of the Church by Pius XI in 1926.


St. Angela of the Cross

s angela

"My mother, my lady, my queen, teacher of meekness and humility, teach me to desire nothing more than to learn from you: most pure, most clean, most beautiful, most white, most beautiful, Holy Mary, my hope, my consolation, my happiness, my joy."

Angela was born in Seville, Spain on January 30, 1846. Her family was large, poor, hardworking, and pious. At home she learned to pray the rosary, the prayers of the month of May, and attended the dawn rosary with her father. From a young age she worked in a shoe shop, making shoes and serving the poor and marginalized. She felt called to the religious life but couldn’t find her place. In 1875, while she was in prayer, she saw Mount Calvary with a bare cross in front of Christ Crucified. She understood that she was to be crucified on that other cross. Guided by her confessor, Fr. Torres, she discovered that the Lord was calling her to found a new congregation, Institute of the Sisters of the Company of the Cross. The statutes of the Institute were approved in 1879. The Sisters of the Cross would live in great austerity while attending to the sick and needy. Though Sister Angela was relatively uneducated, she left us writings of great spiritual value. In her beatification, John Paul II said that: “The austere life of the Sisters of the Cross is fruit of their union with the redemptive mystery of Jesus Christ… Their example is a permanent sign of a charity which does not pass away.” Sister Angela of the Cross died in Seville on March 2, 1932. She was beatified November 5, 1982, and later canonized in 2003, by John Paul II.


St. Philip Neri

s felipe

"Just thinking about Mary brings consolation to my soul. She is my delight."

Saint Philip Neri was born in Florence, Italy in 1515. Since his childhood, he stood out for his joy and goodness. People called him "good little Philip." After his mother's death, his father sent him to live with his rich uncle. Philip rejected his uncle's plans to make him the heir of all his goods because he saw that it might impede him from dedicating himself completely to God.
Having left his uncle and his riches, he moved to Rome, and took with him nothing but the clothes he was wearing and a heart full of trust in God. He lived in a simple and poor manner.
He spent his first two years in Rome reading, praying, and doing penance. He dedicated the next three to studying philosophy and theology. God inspired in him the desire to give catechism classes to the poor. Because of his amiable character, he won the trust of all types of people. This gave him the opportunity to speak to them about God and lead them down the path of truth and salvation. He would often ask people, "Friend, when are we going to begin to be better?"
When he was 34 years old his confessor encouraged him to think about the priesthood, considering the good that he would be able to do. Even though he felt very unworthy, he accepted, and was ordained a priest in 1551. The Lord gave him the gift of being a good confessor.
Among the many initiatives that he began, one was that of forming a group of priests called the Oratorians. He cultivated in them a great devotion to Our Lady.
On May 25, 1595, with great joy and a radiant face, he proclaimed to his doctor the words from the psalm, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” That very night he died. In 1622 he was declared a Saint.


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