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Jul
21
Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Posted by kenneymg on 21 July 2017 08:07 AM

 Saint Lawrence was Italian and a Capuchin with great teaching, writing, and leadership abilities. His writings include a commentary on Genesis, several treatises against Luther, and nine volumes of sermons. He preached in many regions of Europe and died in Lisbon.

Lawrence (Lorenzo) of Brindisi was most gifted in languages. In addition to his native Italian, he had complete reading and speaking ability in Latin, Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish and French.

He was born on July 22, 1559, and died exactly 60 years later on his birthday in 1619. His parents William and Elizabeth Russo gave him the name of Julius Caesar, Caesare in Italian. After the early death of his parents, he was educated by his uncle at the College of St. Mark in Venice.

When he was just 16 he entered the Capuchin Franciscan Order in Venice and received the name of Lawrence. He completed his studies of philosophy and theology at the University of Padua and was ordained a priest at 23.

With his facility for languages he was able to study the Bible in its original texts. At the request of Pope Clement VIII, he spent much time preaching to the Jews in Italy. So excellent was his knowledge of Hebrew, the rabbis felt sure he was a Jew who had become a Christian.

While the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 had slowed the advance of Muslim forces in Europe, they still controlled most of Hungary. Emperor Rudolph was determined to drive them out. In 1601 St. Lawrence was appointed chaplain to the military and sent by the emperor to Germany to ask for assistance. The Duke of Brittany and many German soldiers joined the army and began planning an attack on Albe-Royal, a walled city with a garrison of 80,000 Turks. The emperor’s army only had 18,000 men but Saint Lawrence gave a rousing speech and led the attack on horseback holding a crucifix.

The Turks lost 30,000 men defending the city but there were still so many left after the city fell that they reorganized for a counter-attack a few days later. Saint Lawrence again led the army and holding up the crucifix declared, “Forward! Victory is ours.” The army was again victorious and after the battle the general and army as a whole attributed their success to the courage and miraculous protection of Saint Lawrence who, in spite of leading the army in both assaults armed only with a crucifix, was never wounded.

Lawrence’s sensitivity to the needs of people—a character trait perhaps unexpected in such a talented scholar—began to surface. He was elected major superior of the Capuchin Franciscan province of Tuscany at the age of 31. He had the combination of brilliance, human compassion and administrative skill needed to carry out his duties. In rapid succession he was promoted by his fellow Capuchins and was elected minister general of the Capuchins in 1602. In this position he was responsible for great growth and geographical expansion of the Order.

Lawrence was appointed papal emissary and peacemaker, a job which took him to a number of foreign countries. An effort to achieve peace in his native kingdom of Naples took him on a journey to Lisbon to visit the king of Spain. Serious illness in Lisbon took his life in 1619.

In 1956 the Capuchins completed a 15-volume edition of his writings. Eleven of these 15 contain his sermons, each of which relies chiefly on scriptural quotations to illustrate his teaching.

Adapted from AmericanCatholic.org and the Catholic Encyclopedia at newadvent.com.

He was beatified in 1783 by Pope Pius VI, canonized in 1881 by Pope Leo XIII, and declared a doctor of the Church by Pope Saint John XXIII in 1959. His feast day is July 21, in both the ordinary and extraordinary forms.

In art he is typically portrayed on horseback leading the army or embracing the Child Jesus. He is the patron saint of Brindisi, Italy.

His beautiful Litany of St. Lawrence can be prayed here

For St. Lawrence items, click here

 


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Jul
11
What do you know about St. Benedict?
Posted by Ian on 11 July 2017 06:30 AM

Saint Benedict of Nursia, a figure known famously for being a hermit and for his monastic life, was an extremely influential man during the fifth and sixth centuries A.D. While many people recognize him as the founder of the Benedictine order, in fact Saint Benedict had a profound and lasting impact on the Catholic Church as a whole and not just on one small group of religious. A man of tremendous character, Saint Benedict lived an eventful life:

 

  • Saint Benedict wrote The Rule of Saint Benedict, a set of precepts governing monastic life. As the Rule dictates a moderate path between individual ardor in faith and communal institutionalization, it has gained much popularity over the centuries.
  • Saint Benedict originally studied rhetoric in Rome, but found the lifestyle of the city too degenerate for his tastes. He left, not originally intending to become a hermit, though after a time settled with Romanus, another hermit, in a cave outside of Enfide; he lived thusly for three years.
  • Saint Benedict did not intend to found an order, so to speak, with his monastic precepts. It wasn’t until the later Middle Ages that the term “Order of Saint Benedict” came into existence.
  • Together with Saints Cyril and Methodius, Saint Benedict is one of the co-patron saints of Europe.
  • During his time as a hermit, a group of pious men came to Saint Benedict and begged him to be their abbot; when they proved unwilling to live up to his holy standard, they tried to give him poisoned wine. While he was praying over the cup, it shattered and spilled the deadly drink onto the ground.
  • The Medal of St. Benedict is one of the most popular devotionals. It has complex symbolism so we created an interactive page to show you all the parts!

The Medal of St. Benedict


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Jul
6
Why St. Maria Goretti is Important in our Times
Posted by kenneymg on 06 July 2017 05:03 AM

Most of us know the story of Maria Goretti, and the martyrdom that led to her canonization. Hers is truly a story of Love and Mercy, and she is the Patroness of Chasity, Purity, and Youths.

In 1902, an eighteen-year-old neighbor, Alexander, grabbed her from her steps and tried to rape her. When Maria said that she would rather die than submit, saying that Alexander would go to Hell for his actions if she let him do it, Alexander began stabbing her with a knife.

As she lay in the hospital, she forgave Alexander before she died. Her death didn’t end her forgiveness, however.

Saint Maria Goretti
St. Maria Icon from Devotions and Prayer Blog

Alexander was captured and sentenced to thirty years. He was unrepentant until he had a dream that he was in a garden. Maria was there and gave him flowers. When he woke, he was a changed man, repenting of his crime and living a reformed life. When he was released after 27 years he went directly to Maria’s mother to beg her forgiveness, which she gave. “If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold forgiveness,” she said.

When Maria was declared a saint in 1950, Alexander was there in the St. Peter’s crowd to celebrate her canonization. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1950 for her purity as model for youth:

…Why does this story move you even to tears? Why has Maria Goretti so quickly conquered your hearts, and taken first place in your affections?

The reason is because there is still in this world, apparently sunk and immersed in the worship of pleasure, not only a meager little band of chosen souls who thirst for heaven and its pure air – but a crowd, nay, an immense multitude on whom the supernatural fragrance of Christian purity exercise an irresistible and reassuring fascination.

During the past fifty years, coupled with what was often a weak reaction on the part of decent people, there has been a conspiracy of evil practices, propagating themselves in books and illustrations, in theaters and radio programs, in styles and clubs and on the beaches, trying to work their way into the hearts of the family and society, and doing their worst damage among the youth, even among those of the tenderest years in whom the possession of virtue is a natural inheritance.

Dearly beloved youth, young men and women, who are the special object of the love of Jesus and of us, tell me, are you resolved to resist firmly, with the help of divine grace, against every attempt made to violate your chastity? …

…Finally, all of you who are intently listening to our words, know that above the unhealthy marshes and filth of the world, stretches an immense heaven of beauty. It is the heaven which fascinated little Maria; the heaven to which she longed to ascend by the only road that leads there, which is, religion, the love of Christ, and the heroic observance of his Commandments.

We greet you, O beautiful and lovable saint! Martyr on earth and angel in heaven, look down from your glory on this people, which loves you, which venerates, glorifies and exalts you. On your forehead you bear the full brilliant and victorious name of Christ. In your virginal countenance may be read the strength of your love and the constancy of your fidelity to your Divine Spouse. As his bride espoused in blood, you have traced in yourself His own image. To you, therefore, powerful intercessor with the Lamb of God, we entrust these our sons and daughters who are present here, and those countless others who are united with us in spirit. For while they admire your heroism, they are even more desirous of imitating your strength of faith and your inviolate purity of conduct. Fathers and mothers have recourse to you, asking you to help them in their task of education. In you, through our hand, the children and the young people will find a safe refuge, trusting that they shall be protected from every contamination, and be able to walk the highways of life with that serenity of spirit and deep joy which is the heritage of those who are pure of heart. Amen.

– Homily of Pope Pius XII, June 24, 1950

We see here with the example of Saint Maria Goretti. What can we learn from her today? Taken from remarks by Blessed John Paul II:

  • Her canonization showed Maria to the world as an  model of courageous fidelity to the Christian vocation, even to the supreme sacrifice of life.
  • St Maria Goretti is an example for the newer generations who are threatened by a non-committal attitude that finds it difficult to understand the importance of the values which admit of no compromise.
  • Although she was poor and deprived of a school education, Maria, who was not yet 12 years old had a strong and mature personality, shaped by the religious instruction she had received in the family. This made her capable not only of defending herself with heroic chastity, but even of forgiving her murderer.  Parents, living and teaching our faith is so important!
  • Her martyrdom reminds us that the human being is not fulfilled by following the impulses of pleasure but by living life with love and responsibility.  Maria Goretti calls us to be alert and vigilant “watchmen”, be the real champions of a new humanity.

As a martyr of purity, hopefully adolescents and young people will get to know her better.

Our Lady, whose name was given to Saint Maria Goretti,  may the purest of human creatures help the men and women of our time, and especially young people, to rediscover the value of chastity and to live interpersonal relations in reciprocal respect and sincere love. 

Saint Maria Goretti books, DVDs, medals, and prayer cards available here


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Jul
3
Feast Day of St. Thomas the Apostle
Posted by kenneymg on 03 July 2017 04:47 AM

The Gospel account of Jesus’ appearance to His grieving apostles after His resurrection in John 20, tells of Thomas, who was away, being doubtful of the preposterous story that the Lord was alive. He had been with the Lord during his Passion and Crucifixion. He knew about the stone that sealed the tomb. How could his Lord be risen from the dead? I will not believe it, he told his friends, unless I put my hands in Jesus’ wounds.

Doubting Thomas

Gospel Reading: John 20:24-29

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe”. Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing”. Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

St. Thomas is also mentioned as being present at another Resurrection appearance of Jesus – at Lake Tiberius when a miraculous catch of fish occurred. This is all that we know about St. Thomas from the New Testament.

Malabar Coast Map

Tradition says that at the dispersal of the Apostles after Pentecost this saint was sent to evangelize the Parthians, Medes, and Persians; he ultimately reached India, carrying the Faith to the Malabar coast, which still boasts a large native population calling themselves  ” Christians of St. Thomas.”  He  shed his blood for his Master, speared to death at a place called Calamine.

Martyrdom of St. Thomas by Rubens
By Peter Paul RubensOphelia2, Public Domain, Link

We can relate to this doubt — we too are often “doubting Thomases”. And we, with Thomas, have felt ashamed of ourselves. We can follow Thomas’s example in proclaiming, in awed recognition of Our Savior’s living, real presence, “My Lord and my God!”

Shop for Saint Thomas the Apostle gifts.


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Jun
26
St. Josemaria Escriva, Priest and Founder of Opus Dei
Posted by kenneymg on 26 June 2017 06:10 AM

Saint Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei and patron saint of diabetes, highlighted a humble path to holiness in the Catholic Church, teaching that people can become holy by performing their work and daily duties with a Christian spirit.

Saint Josemaria Escriva

He is the patron saint of diabetes because he himself suffered from type 1 Diabetes.

 

From the Opus Dei Biography comes the following information about his life and works:

Josemaría Escrivá was born in Barbastro, Spain, on January 9, 1902. He had one older sister, Carmen (1899-1957); three younger sisters who died very young; and a younger brother, Santiago (1919-1994). His parents, José and Dolores, brought up their children with a devout Catholic faith.

Josemaría’s father’s textile business failed in 1915, so the family relocated to Logroño, where José found other work. It was in Logroño that Josemaría sensed his vocation for the first time. After seeing some bare footprints left in the snow by a friar who had walked that way a short time earlier, he felt that God wanted something from him, though he did not know exactly what. He thought that he could more easily discover what it was if he became a priest, so he began to prepare for the priesthood, first in Logroño and later in Saragossa. Following his father’s advice, he also studied for a law degree at the University of Saragossa. His father died in 1924 and Josemaría was left as head of the family. Ordained on March 28, 1925, he began his ministry in a rural parish, and afterwards in Saragossa.

In 1927, with the permission of his bishop, Fr. Josemaría moved to Madrid to work on his doctorate in law. There, on October 2, 1928, God showed him clearly the mission he had been hinting to him for several years; and he founded Opus Dei. From that day on he worked with all his energies to develop the foundation that God asked of him, while he continued to fulfill the various priestly responsibilities he had at that time. These brought him into daily contact with sickness and poverty in the hospitals and the poor districts of Madrid.

When the civil war broke out in 1936, Josemaría was in Madrid. The religious persecution forced him to take refuge in a variety of places. He exercised his priestly ministry in a clandestine fashion until he was finally able to leave Madrid. After escaping across the Pyrenees to southern France, he took up residence in Burgos.

At the end of the war in 1939 he returned to Madrid. In the years that followed he gave many retreats to lay people, priests, and members of religious orders. In the same year, 1939, he completed his doctorate in law.

The Way - Josemaria Escriva

In 1946 he took up residence in Rome. There he obtained a doctorate in theology from the Lateran University and was named consultor to two Vatican Congregations, as well as honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, and prelate of honor to His Holiness. He followed closely the preparations for the Second Vatican Council and its various sessions (1962-1965), keeping in touch with many of the council fathers. From Rome he frequently went to different countries in Europe, including Britain and Ireland, to spur on the apostolic work of Opus Dei. It was with the same objective that, between 1970 and 1975, he made long trips to Mexico, Spain, Portugal, South America, and Guatemala, holding catechetical gatherings which large numbers of men and women attended.

He died in Rome on June 26, 1975. Thousands of people, including many bishops (a third of all the bishops in the world), requested that the Holy See open his cause of beatification and canonization.

On May 17, 1992, Pope John Paul II beatified Josemaría Escrivá. He proclaimed him a saint ten years later, on October 6, 2002, in St. Peter’s Square, in Rome, before a great multitude. In his homily on that occasion, the Pope said: “Following in his footsteps, spread in society the awareness that we are called to holiness, without distinction of race, class, culture or age.”

Have you read “The Way”? Find it here, and more!

 

 


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Jun
22
St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, Martyrs against tyranny
Posted by kenneymg on 22 June 2017 05:30 AM

 

 Saint Thomas More was born in London and was Chancellor of King Henry VIII. As a family man, a public servant, and writer, he displayed a rare combination of human warmth, Christian wisdom, and sense of humor.

His most famous quote, fitting for today, was when he declared himself to be “the King’s good servant — but God’s first”

 St. Thomas More was born at London in 1478. After a thorough grounding in religion and the classics, he entered Oxford to study law. Upon leaving the university he embarked on a legal career which took him to Parliament.In 1505, he married his beloved Jane Colt who bore him four children, and when she died at a young age, he married a widow, Alice Middleton, to be a mother for his young children.

Saint Thomas More

A wit and a reformer, this learned man numbered Bishops and scholars among his friends, and by 1516 wrote his world-famous book “Utopia”. He attracted the attention of Henry VIII who appointed him to a succession of high posts and missions, and finally made him Lord Chancellor in 1529.

However, he resigned in 1532, at the height of his career and reputation, when Henry persisted in holding his own opinions regarding marriage and the supremacy of the Pope. The rest of his life was spent in writing mostly in defense of the Church. In 1534, with his close friend, St. John Fisher, he refused to render allegiance to the King as the Head of the Church of England and was confined to the Tower.

Fifteen months later, and nine days after St. John Fisher’s execution, he was tried and convicted of treason. He told the court that he could not go against his conscience and wished his judges that “we may yet hereafter in heaven merrily all meet together to everlasting salvation.” And on the scaffold, he told the crowd of spectators that he was dying as “the King’s good servant–but God’s first.” He was beheaded on July 6, 1535. St. Thomas More is the Patron Saint of Lawyers, Statesmen, and Politicians

(www.catholic.org)

Litany of St. Thomas More

Pope John Paul II said,


“There are many reasons for proclaiming Thomas More Patron of statesmen and people in public life. Among these is the need felt by the world of politics and public administration for credible role models able to indicate the path of truth at a time in history when difficult challenges and crucial responsibilities are increasing. Today in fact strongly innovative economic forces are reshaping social structures; on the other hand, scientific achievements in the area of biotechnology underline the need to defend human life at all its different stages, while the promises of a new society — successfully presented to a bewildered public opinion — urgently demand clear political decisions in favor of the family, young people, the elderly and the marginalized. In this context, it is helpful to turn to the example of St. Thomas More, who distinguished himself by his constant fidelity to legitimate authority and institutions precisely in his intention to serve not power, but the supreme ideal of justice. His life teaches us that government is above all an exercise of virtue.”

V. Lord, have mercy
R. Lord have mercy
V. Christ, have mercy
R. Christ have mercy
V. Lord, have mercy
R. Lord have mercy
V. Christ hear us
R. Christ, graciously hear us

V. St. Thomas More, Saint and Martyr, R. Pray for us (Repeat after each invocation)
St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers
St. Thomas More, Patron of Justices, Judges and Magistrates
St. Thomas More, Model of Integrity and Virtue in Public and Private Life
St. Thomas More, Servant of the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ
St. Thomas More, Model of Holiness in the Sacrament of Marriage
St. Thomas More, Teacher of his Children in the Catholic Faith
St. Thomas More, Defender of the Weak and the Poor
St. Thomas More, Promoter of Human Life and Dignity

V. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R. Spare us O Lord
V. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R. Graciously hear us O Lord
V. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R. Have mercy on us


Let us pray: 


O Glorious St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians, Judges and Lawyers, your life of
prayer and penance and your zeal for justice, integrity and firm principle in public and family life led
you to the path of martyrdom and sainthood. Intercede for our Statesmen, Politicians, Judges and
Lawyers, that they may be courageous and effective in their defense and promotion of the sanctity of
human life – the foundation of all other human rights. We ask this through Christ our Lord. AMEN

Books, Movies, and Medals for St. Thomas More

St Thomas More Fortnight for Freedom Prayer Card

 

John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester

Born at Beverly, 1469 – martyred June 22, 1535, Tower of London
Canonized (with Saint Thomas More) 1935
Saint John Fisher studied theology in Cambridge, England and became Bishop of Rochester. His friend Saint Thomas More wrote of him, “I reckon in this realm no one man, in wisdom, learning, and long approved virtue together, meet to be matched and compared with him.”

Saint John Fisher and his friend Saint Thomas More gave up their lives in testimony to the unity of the Church and to the indissolubility of marriage.

Of all the English bishops, only Bishop John Fisher of Rochester publicly opposed Henry VIII’s mandatory Oath of Allegiance, which unlawfully declared King Henry the head of the Church of England. The bishop’s stand ultimately cost him his life. May his example inspire all Catholics today, especially the bishops on whose courageous leadership the Church depends.

Saint John Fisher

Reply to Bishops Stokesley, Gardiner and Tunstal, sent to the Tower by Thomas Cromwell to persuade Fisher to submit to the King:

Methinks it had been rather our parts to stick together in repressing these violent and unlawful intrusions and injuries daily offered to our common mother, the holy Church of Christ, than by any manner of persuasions to help or set forward the same.

And we ought rather to seek by all means the temporal destruction of the so ravenous wolves, that daily go about worrying and devouring everlastingly, the flock that Christ committed to our charge, and the flock that Himself died for, than to suffer them thus to range abroad.

But (alas) seeing we do it not, you see in what peril the Christian state now standeth: We are besieged on all sides, and can hardly escape the danger of our enemy. And seeing that judgment is begone at the house of God, what hope is there left (if we fall) that the rest shall stand!

The fort is betrayed even of them that should have defended it. And therefore seeing the matter is thus begun, and so faintly resisted on our parts, I fear that we be not the men that shall see the end of the misery.

Wherefore, seeing I am an old man and look not long to live, I mind not by the help of God to trouble my conscience in pleasing the king this way whatsoever become of me, but rather here to spend out the remnant of my old days in praying to God for him.

On the scaffold he said to the people assembled:

Christian people, I am come hither to die for the faith of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church, and I thank God hitherto my stomach hath served me very well thereunto, so that yet I have not feared death.

Wherefore I do desire you all to help and assist me with your prayers, that at the very point and instant of death’s stroke, I may in that very moment stand steadfast without fainting in any one point of the Catholic faith free from any fear; and I beseech Almighty God of His infinite goodness to save the king and this Realm, and that it may please Him to hold His holy hand over it, and send the king good Counsel.

He then knelt, said the Te DeumIn te domine speravi, and submitted to the ax.

 (Women for Faith & Family, wf-f.org)
 
Saint John Paul II on Saint Thomas More
 
 

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