107. STABAT MATER.
At the cross her station keeping
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last;
through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
all his bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword had passed.
Oh, how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother highly blessed
of the sole-begotten One.
Christ above in torments hangs;
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.
Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?
Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s pain untold?
Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled
she beheld her tender child
all with bloody scourges rent;
for the sins of his own nation
saw him hang in desolation,
till his spirit forth he sent.
O you Mother, fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with yours accord:
make me feel as you have felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ our Lord.
Holy Mother, pierce me through;
in my heart each wound renew
of my Saviour crucified:
let me share with you his pain
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.
Let me mingle tears with you,
mourning him who mourned for me
all the days that I may live:
by the cross with you to stay,
there with you to weep and pray,
is all I ask of you to give.
Virgin of all virgins best,
listen to my fond request;
let me share your grief divine;
let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of yours.
Wounded with his every wound,
steep my soul till it has swooned
in his very blood away;
be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die
in his awful judgement day
Christ, when you shall call me hence,
be your Mother my defence,
be your cross my victory.
While my body here decays,
may my soul your goodness praise,
safe in paradise with you.
108. From Kylemore Abbey
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again May God
hold you in the palm of His hand.
(An old Irish verse).
109. Piet Derkson The founder of
We have just returned from a four day break at Center Parcs.
(To celebrate my safe return from the 1998 Holy Land Pilgrimage). Whilst there I learnt something about the man
who first had the idea of the Forest Villages. He was a Dutchman called Piet
Derkson. He was a Catholic and he was not afraid to let everyone know. At the
entry to all the Forest Villages is a very large Cross which can be seen by
everyone entering the village. Also on one of the main paths in the village is
a statue of the Sacred Heart in a glass case (like a large reliquary). It is
illuminated at night.....very impressive. A few years ago Piet’s wife became
ill so he took her to
110. Young People.
If young people live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If young people live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If young people live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.
If young people live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If young people live with tolerance, they learn to be patient.
If young people live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If young people live with praise, they learn to appreciate.
If young people live with fairness, they learn justice.
If young people live with security, they learn to have faith.
If young people live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
When young people live with acceptance and friendship,
they learn to find love in the world.
(Adapted from Dorothy Law Holte.)
In 1990 when Douai Abbot Finbar had just been elected I asked him about the election process and whether he was given the chance to say “No”. “Yes” he replied, “But I thought I’d better accept rather than have us go through all the long election process again”!
Eight years later I found myself asking Abbot Geoffrey what he felt like when he had been elected. “Cross!” he said “I’d come down from Ormskirk for the election and had my bag packed ready to go back”!
Two humble men who had no idea that they would find themselves chosen as Abbots.
112. THE BEATITUDES.
Seeing the crowds he went onto the mountain. And when he was seated his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
How blessed are the poor in spirit.
the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Blessed are the gentle:
They shall have the earth for their inheritance.
Blessed are those who mourn
they shall be comforted.
Blessed are those who hunger
and thirst for uprightness
they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful
they shall have mercy shown them.
Blessed are the pure in heart
they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers
they shall be recognised as children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted
in the cause of uprightness
the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Blessed are you when people abuse you
and persecute you and speak all kinds of
calumny against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven;
this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.
In the Beatitudes Jesus turns ordinary human, and especially Jewish ideas, about happiness, upside down. The Jews thought that poverty was a curse from God. But Matthews Gospel totally dispels that suggestion.
The original beatitudes about the ‘poor’, the ‘mourners’ and the ‘hungry’ express Jesus mission to the needy in Israel and the dawn of a new era of salvation history.
All three refer to the same people. The poor are happy not because they are morally better than the others but because of God’s special care for them. The long, last beatitude, about the persecuted reflects the experience of martyrdom in the early church.
So it is not the rich, the ruthless, the powerful who are really ‘well off’. The genuinely fortunate are those who recognise their dependence on God – the ‘poor in spirit’ – trusting in God and not their own resources. The hallmarks of God’s people are ‘suffering’, ‘meekness’, ‘a longing to be right with God’ and to ‘see right prevail’, ‘readiness to forgive,’ ‘having their hearts set on God’ and ‘peacemaking’.
Their reward will be to receive what they long for. And their lives are effective in the world: they put the seasoning into life, they stop the rot, they light up the way. By what they do and say and how they react, they reflect something of what God himself is like – so that others see and give God the credit.
Perhaps we can have a greater understanding of the Beatitudes by examining them line by line:-
‘Seeing the crowds he went onto the mountain.’
The exact location is uncertain. It may have been the gently
sloping hillside at the north-west corner of the Sea of Galilee, not far from
Being ‘seated’ was the recognised position for a teacher.
‘his disciples came to him.’
This might make it appear that only the disciples were present. But later we read ‘When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.’ 7:28:29. Matthew was making it clear that all the disciples had heard his words.
‘Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them.’
Note the word ‘taught’. This indicates that Jesus was about to tell them something new; something not necessarily contained in the Old Testament.
‘How blessed are the poor in spirit:
the kingdom of heaven is theirs.’
Being ‘blessed’ means more than just being ‘happy’ because
happiness is an emotion often dependent on outwards circumstances. The
‘blessed’ here refers to the ultimate well-being and distinctive spiritual joy
of those who are to share in the salvation of the
‘Blessed are the gentle,
they shall have the earth as inheritance.’
‘Gentle’ meaning ‘humble, unassuming, undemanding.’ Those who ‘demand their rights’ will have to wait until the ‘gentle’ have been given their reward.
‘Blessed are those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.’
The first mourners were those who saw evil reign on earth
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for uprightness:
they shall have their fill.’
The ‘hunger and thirst’ referred to is for ‘justice’. Those who seek justice will have justice shown to them.
‘Blessed are the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.’
To be merciful is to forgive: to pardon and to love one’s neighbour and even one’s enemies. Sinners who during their lives have tried to be merciful will have mercy shown to them. ‘Judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgement.’ James 2:13.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart:
they shall see God.’
The heart is the centre of one’s being, including mind, will and emotion. ‘Pure in heart’ means a desire for justice, fidelity and loyalty to God’s commands. An absolute acceptance of God’s covenant including sincere worship. The reward is beyond our understanding!
‘Blessed are the peacemakers:
they shall be recognised as children of God.’
‘Uprightness’ is the covenant – the ten commandments. If we are persecuted for obeying those Commandments then the reward is Heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people abuse you
and persecute you and speak all kinds of
calumny against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in Heaven;
this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.’
When he said these words was Jesus thinking of John the Baptist? Was he thinking of three years hence when he would suffer the very things he had said; persecution, abuse, calumny? Listening to his words were the disciples, who were the successors of the prophets. As their lives came to a cruel end as martyrs, they would surely recall these words of Jesus.
113. A GRANDMOTHER’S PRAYER
St Anne, Grandma of Jesus, I come to you in prayer
I take our dear grandchildren and put them in your care.
Watch over them and guide them, caress them in your love.
With the help from Mary, Joseph and your grandson up above.
When we cannot be with them to show them right from wrong,
Please have their guardian angels comfort them in song.
From one Grandma to another, please take out precious jewels,
Teach them to be kind and true and live the golden rule
You are the greatest Grandma, you know how much we care.
St Anne, I know you’ll guard them, that’s this Grandmother’s Prayer.
114. The Story of Michael.
What follows is a copy of a letter that was written by a young USA Marine to his mother while he was hospitalized after being wounded on a Korean battlefield in 1950. It came into the hands of a Naval Chaplain, who read the letter before 5,000 Marines at a San Diego Naval Base in 1951.
The Navy Chaplain had talked to the boy, to the boy’s mother and to the Sergeant in charge of the patrol. This navy chaplain, Father Walter Muldy, would always assure anyone who asked that this is a true story.
‘Dear Mom, I wouldn’t dare write this letter to anyone but you because no one else. Would believe it. Maybe even you will find it hard but I have got to tell somebody.
First off, I am in hospital. Now don’t worry, you hear me don’t worry. I was wounded but I am okay you understand. Okay. The doctor says that I will be up and around in a month. But that is not what I want to tell you.
Remember when I joined the Marines last year; remember when
I left, how you told me to say a prayer to St
Michael everyday. You really didn’t have to tell me that. Ever since I
can remember you always told me to pray to St Michael the
Remember the prayer you taught me? “Michael, Michael of the morning fresh corp of Heaven adoring,” you know the rest of it. Well I said it everyday. Sometimes when I was marching or sometimes resting. But always before I went to sleep. I even got some of the other fellas to say it.
Well, one day I was with an advance detail way up over the front lines. We were scouting for the Commies. I was plodding along in the bitter cold, my breath was like cigar smoke.
I thought I knew every guy in the patrol;, when along side of me comes another Marine I never met before. He was bigger than any other Marine I’d ever seen. He must have been 6’4” and built in proportion. I gave me a feeling of security to have such a body near.
Anyway, there we were trudging along, The rest of the patrol spread out. Just to start a conversation I said, “Cold ain’t it?” And then I laughed. Here I was with a good chance of getting killed any minute and I am talking about the weather.
My companion seemed to understand. I heard him laugh softly. I looked at him, “I have never seen you before, I thought I knew every man in the outfit.” “I just joined at the last minute”, he replied. “The name is Michael.” “Is that so”, I said surprised. “That is my name too.” “I know,” he said and then went on “Michael, Michael of the morning……….”
I was too amazed to say anything for a minute. How did he know my name, and a prayer that you taught me? Then I smiled to myself, every guy in the outfit knew about me. Hadn’t I taught the prayer to anybody who would listen. Why now and then, they even referred to me as St Michael.
Neither of us spoke for a time and then he broke the silence. “We are going to have some trouble up ahead.” He must have been in fine physical shape or he was breathing lightly I couldn’t see his breath. Mine poured out in great clouds. There was no smile on his face now. Trouble ahead, I thought to myself, well with the Commies all around us, that is no great revelation.
Snow began to fall in great thick globs. In a brief moment the whole countryside Was blotted out. And I was matching in a white fog of wet sticky particles. My companion disappeared. “Michael,” I shouted in sudden alarm. I felt his hand on my arm, his voice was rich and strong, “This will stop, shortly.” His prophecy proved to be correct. In a few minutes the snow stopped as abruptly as it had begun. The sun was a hard shining disk.
I looked back for the rest of the patrol, there was no one in sight. We lost them in that heavy fall of snow. I looked ahead as we came over a little rise. Mom, my heart stopped. There were seven of them. Seven Commies in their padded pants and jackets and their funny hats. Only there wasn’t anything funny about them now. Seven riffles were aimed at us.
“Down Michael,” I screamed and hit the frozen earth. I heard those rifles fire almost as one. I heard the bullets. There was Michael still standing. Mom, those guys couldn’t have missed, not at that range. I expected to see him literally blown to pieces. But there he stood, making no effort to fire himself. He was paralyzed with fear. It happens sometimes, Mom, even to the bravest. He was like a bird fascinated by a snake. At least, that was what I thought then. I jumped up to pull him down and that was when I got mine. I felt a sudden flame in my chest. I often wondered what it felt like to be hit. Now I know.
I remember feeling strong arms about me, arms that laid me ever so gently on a pillow of snow. I opened my eyes, for one last look.. I was dying. Maybe I was even dead, I remember thinking well, this is not so bad.
Maybe I was looking into the sun. Maybe I was in shock. But it seemed I saw Michael standing erect again only this time his face was shining with a terrible splendour.
As I say. Maybe it was the sun in my eyes, but he seemed to change as I watched him. He grew bigger. His arms stretched out wide, maybe it was the snow falling again, but there was a brightness around him like the wings of an angel. In his hand was a sword. I sword with flashed with a million lights.
Well, that is the last thing I remember until the rest of the fellas came up and found me. I do not know how much time had passed. Now and then I had but a moment’s rest from the pain and fever. I remember telling them of the enemy just ahead.
“Where is Michael?” I asked. I saw them look at one another. “Where’s who?” asked one. “Michael, Michael that big Marine I was walking with just before the snow squall hit us.” “Kid,” said the sergeant, “You weren’t walking with anyone. I had my eyes on you the whole time. You were getting too far out. I was going to call you when you disappeared in the snow.”
He looked at me curiously. “How did you do it kid?” “How’d I do what?” I asked half angry despite my wound. “This Marine named Michael and I were just………. “Son,” said the sergeant kindly, “I picked this outfit myself and there just ain’t another Michael in it.”
He paused for a minute. “Just how did you do it kid?” We heard shots. There hasn’t been a shot fired from your rifle. And there isn’t a bit of lead in them seven bodies over the hill there.”
I didn’t say anything, what could I say. I could only look open mouthed with amazement. It was then the sergeant spoke again, “Kid,” he said gently, “everyone of those seven Commies was killed by a sword.”
That is all I can tell you Mom. As I say, it may have been the sun in my eyes, it could have been the cold, or the pain. But that is what happened.
(I have tried but failed to find the prayer mentioned in this story. “Michael,
Michael of the morning fresh corp of Heaven adoring”. If anyone knows it
please share it with me. Michael Blackburn Oct 2005)
115. A GODMOTHER’S SACRIFICE.
Towards the end of the war, two Polish women were
Despite the fact that Anna was pregnant, she seemed to manage as well as the others, though that wasn’t saying much while Maria got worse and worse and died shortly after the baby was born. It was several weeks after Maria’s death that the truth came out. Her prayer had been answered. She’d been given the strength to share the greater part of her oosel rations with her friend, so that the baby could have the life that Maria was prepared to risk for her sake. The effect of Maria’s sacrifice had a dramatic effect on the other inmates. They were so deeply moved by such selfless love that they felt ashamed of the way they had been behaving to one another. People suddenly began to became a little more like human beings. The fighting over food and drink all but ceased and the endless quarrels became the exception rather than the rule.
From a rabble that had been behaving more like brute beasts then human beings, the semblance of a community began to emerge. At first it was quite spontaneous. Then as morale was restored leaders were chosen and the discipline that they imposed was accepted by all. A wooden cross was placed over Maria’s grave and it was revered by all for what she had done, not just for her friend but for the whole community, by reminding them of what they had all but forgotten. Many nominal Christians admitted later that they understood the meaning of the cross for the first time, because they had seen for themselves what it symbolised enacted before them. They had seen genuine selfless love made flesh in a way that they had never seen before. Everyone who survived that camp was convinced that their survival was due to a miracle of love that brought about a rebirth genuine resurrection in one of the last places on earth where you would have excepted to find it.
It’s the Gospel story all over again that was told to me by a young Polish nun over 20 years ago. Naturally she was too young to remember the terrible conditions inside the labour camp where she was born, but her mother had told her the whole story. St Maria had retained her Christian name when she entered , to remind he of the loving self-sacrifice of her mother’s closest friend. She believed that the miracle of rebirth in the Church and in religious life can only be brought about by those who are prepared to open themselves to the love that she had first received through the self-sacrifice of the godmother she had never seen.
She explained how it would involve great suffering as all the saints discovered to their cost and our gain. She quoted the words of Solzhenitsyn who also experienced a re-birth in a labour camp similar to the one in which she had been born – “I believe that the rebirth in faith will only come about through those who suffer most.” I’ve never forgotten Sister Maria’s story, nor those words of Solzhenitsyn. They’ve often inspired me to pray for the grace to journey on, come what may, to learn the self-sacrificial love that will alone bring about the re-birth in faith.
From Inner Life by David Torkington. The Catholic Herald.
116. BAD HABTS ONLY GOD CAN CURE.
The wages of work is cash. The wages of cash is want more cash.
The wages of want more cash is vicious competition.
The wages of vicious competition us – the world we live in.
The Seven Social Sins according to Mahatma Gandhi.
Politics without principle.
Wealth without work.
Commerce without Morality.
Pleasure without conscience.
Education without character.
Science without humanity.
Worship without sacrifice.
We have some bad habits that only God can cure.
(A Los Angels Gang leader.)
We need to be on fire again.
For our hope is no longer an easy one.
We live in a culture of despair
Pentecost can no loner be taken for granted.
We must refuse to make the Holy Spirit a piece of private property.
(Mary Jo Leddy)
We don’t want your money – we can steal that from you when we need it.
We need you to lead us back to God … and to give us some jobs.
(Gang leader t a group of church and business leaders.
In the world’s schema of things, survival odf the fittest is the rule. In God’s
Schema, survival of the weakest is the rule.
Seeking injustice is not what makes you just.
Crossing over to the other side, as did the Good Samaritan
And as did God in the Incarnation, is what gives birth to justice.
Strength without compassion is violence.
Compassion without love is sentiment.
Justice without love is Marxism.
And…..love without justice is baloney.
117 How Wonderful Are Your Ways, O Lord!
In 1920 Fr
Honorius a Blessed Sacrament Father was assigned to
As Father put his hand in his pocket for the fare he asked: “What is your name?” “Sim Baker” was the reply. “And I’m Father Honorius, a Blessed Sacrament priest, and is Sim and Catholic?” “Yes, but I don’t believe in all those things any more. It’s many years since I darkened the door of a church.” “I’ll give more than you need. Please accept this miraculous medal.” “But I don’t believe in these things.” Replied Sim. “And say one Hail Mary every day” continued the intrepid priest. “I don’t think I can do that” “It’s up to you. As far as I am concerned you’ll still be cooling your heels here tomorrow. You’re not getting anything from me.” A moment of silence followed broken only by Sim. “You know, I’m the kind of fellow who always does what he promises. Give me the money and the medal and I’ll do what you asked me.” The deal was done and they parted.
Years later Fr
Honorius was transferred to a Blessed Sacrament church in
knocked, Mrs Baker opened the door. “Thank God,” she said, “you’re the only
priest to whom my dying husband will speak.” “But Lady” exclaimed Father
Honorius “will you please tell me how you managed to track me down. From
she said in a low voice so as not to be heard by her husband who was upstairs.
“I kept urging him to make his peace with God, I insisted that a priest should
be allowed to visit him. Yesterday he told me angrily: ‘Stop pestering me. The
only priest I would talk to is a Blessed Sacrament Father. Who lives on
entered the room Sim rubbed his eyes, then shouted: “Father Honorius, who told
you to come here at this time?” “You’re wife. She claimed you said that I am
the only priest you would talk to, so here I am.” “I said that simply because I
wanted her to stop pestering me. But would you please tell me how she managed
to find you.” Father told him what had happened. “Anyway,” Sim said, “I told
you I no longer believe in these things. Don’t waste your time with me.” “Do
you still have the medal and did you say that Hail Mary every day?” Father
asked. “Sim Baker” the dying man said proudly, “always keeps a promise and the
promise I made that morning in
subject Father talked about
Honorius has accomplished his mission. So he left and returned to the Little
Sisters of the Poor. On his way he could not help musing on the ways of God.
“Here I am in
Prayer:- Lord our God, in your love you chose the Virgin Mary and kept her free from sin. May this sacrament of your love free us from our sins. Amen. (Prayer after Communion. Feast of the Immaculate Conception.). The Link April 1999.
118. Something & Nothing.
Several years ago, while doing my doctoral thesis, I had the privilege of having as mentor and promoter the distinguished Belgian philosopher-theologian, Jan Walgrave. One day, while discussing a point he asked me: ”Do you ever sit on a park bench and ask yourself: Why is there something instead of nothing?” The presence of to great a saintly man curbs any temptation t lie, so I had to answer: “To be honest, no. Or, at best, very rarely.” Then you are not a philosopher!” he gently suggested. “A true philosopher asks questions every day for it’s a miracle that anything at all exists. Having met occasionally, in persons like Walgrave and others, true philosophers, I know better than to claim citizenship in so contemplative a realm. True philosophers , like true mystics, true poets, and true artists, are very rare.
Sometimes though I have my contemplative moments and, lately, in doing some reading in science regarding the origins of our universe. I am beginning to oosely why philosophers such as Walgrave do not so easily take the world for granted. When one examines the current scientific hypothesis regarding the origins of our universe (the so-called “big bang” theory) one oosely that it is a miracle, something beyond the human imagination, that there is something instead of nothing. Science today tells us that our universe had a birthday. Roughly 15 billion years ago there was a time = zero, a time when everything in our universe as we have it now was not.
Everything that is now in our entire universe began about 15 billion years ago with an explosion (the “big bang”) from something which was tinier than a single atom. Moreover, for our universe, our world, and human life to have come about a mind-boggling combination of factors had to be just right. I say “mind-boggling” because it is when we examine those factors that we are left with the philosopher’s wonder at why there is something instead of nothing. Let me list just a few of these ‘mind-bogglers’.
First off, as Steven Hawking writes, “If the rate of expansion one second after the big bang had been smaller by one part in a hundred thousand million million it would have all re-collapsed” and we would have no universe. On the other hand, if it had been greater by one part in a million, the universe would have expanded too rapidly for planets to form. That equilibrium (upon which depends the existence of our universe) is, even today, still balanced on that same razor’s edge.
Second, if the nuclear force caused by this great explosion were even slightly weaker we would have only hydrogen in the universe. If it were even slightly stronger, all the hydrogen would be converted into helium. In either case, we would not have the present universe, the planet earth, and human life.
Finally, in the first seconds that followed this great explosion, for every one billion antiprotons in the universe, there were one billion and one protons. The billion pairs annihilated each other t produce radiation……but the one proton was left over. A greater or smaller number of survivors (or no survivors at all, if they had been evenly matched) and, again, we would not have a universe. And, to accentuate this anomaly, normally there is a symmetrical balance between particles (a billion protons for a billion antiprotons). Why the billion and one?
And then the complexity that is ultimately produced by this big bang! For example, there are a hundred trillion synapses (point a which a nerve impulse passes from one neutron to another) in a human brain and the number of possible ways of connecting them is greater than the number of atoms in the universe.
Looking at all of this, the chance coincidence of so many trillion possibilities that had to be exactly right for a universe and life to emerge, even Steven Hawking admits “there are theological implications.” My mentor, Walgrave, used to define these ‘theological implications’ in the following way……’The next time you are sitting on a park bench and looking at a tree, or you are looking into the eyes of someone you love, there should flood through you gratitude for the marvel of it all and you should ask yourself: “Why is there something instead of nothing?”
Ronald Rolheiser. Catholic Herald 16th November 1990.
119. Padre Pio’s Rosaries.
Time and again when I read about the number of Rosaries which Padre Pio prayed each day I am amazed that it is sometimes stated “he must have prayed shortened versions”. I cannot believe that Padre Pio would do such a thing. He was meticulous in everything he did and to suggest that he took short-cuts in his prayers just doesn’t ring true. On one occasion he was asked how many rosaries he had prayed that day. In obedience he said “thirty two and I still have one more to pray before the end of the day”. We know how long it takes us to pray a Rosary and from that, and taking into account the length of time he spent in the Confessional, wrongful assumptions can be made that Padre Pio took short- cuts in his prayers.
There are two things which we are not taking into account. Firstly the good Padre had trained himself to such perfection that he would probably be able to pray the Rosary and hear confession at the same time. After all, Christ’s agony in the garden was an acceptance of all, past present and future, have to confess. The sorrowful mysteries were to the fore in Padre Pio’s contemplative life. But secondly Padre Pio was not subject to the laws of nature as we are. We know that he had the power of discernment. We know that he had the power of bilocation. In essence the more Padre Pio gave himself to God the more supernatural gifts God gave to the good Padre. So to all intents and purposes Padre Pio’s striving for supernatural perfection was rewarded by his living in this world but not subject to its laws. Therefore Padre Pio’s days could have been extended to whatever number of hours God would allow.
In stating that, it is not intended to suggest that it would make his days any easier. But God, in his goodness, wanting and desiring the intense love which Padre Pio was capable of giving, could easily have allowed the extra hours necessary. In effect it would be similar to the miracle when Father Villani’s mother went the several miles to her village and back in the time it took Padre Pio to unvest after Mass. ‘Time’ was put on hold.
Humphery-Smith had the great privilege of knowing Padre Pio. I have asked him
for his thoughts. He supports my conclusion and he comments: ‘Those who have
experienced moving phenomenal distances in little time due to the Divine
intervention resulting from Padre Pio’s intercession do not need convincing.
Furthermore, Padre Pio learnt his skill of constant prayer at the Altar; and,
remember he did not simply say the Rosary, reciting the prayers by rite.
He contemplated each mystery in its fullness. The Holy Mass is the Last
Supper and the Sacrifice of Calvary united through Christ’s own redemptive
words. It is not a play acting. It is not a substitute. It is
the very same Sacrifice but most certainly not a repetition. It is
Christ destroying time to be present with us in His alter person, the Priest. We
are in the Upper Room; we are at
The more I think about it the more certain I am that Padre Pio would have always prayed full Rosaries and to think otherwise is, to me, almost blasphemous.
Thoughts of the writer of this memory archive.
120. Another Medjugorje Story.
A priest was present during an apparition of Our Lady at Medjugorje. Asked by this particular priest what Our Lady had said, the visionary replied that Our Lady was calling for conversion, to attend daily Holy Mass, recite the Rosary go to monthly confession and fasting. “We’ve heard it all before.” Said the priest in a dismissive manner. Next day when the visionary received her apparition she said to Our Lady – “The priest said we’ve heard it all before.” Our Lady’s reply was cautious and direct “Tell my priest that he is perfectly correct, he has heard it all before, but he hasn’t been doing it”
People are unreasonable
Illogical and self-centered.
LOVE THEM ANYWAY
If you do good, people will accuse you
Of selfish ulterior motives.
DO GOOD ANYWAY
If you are successful,
You win false friends and true enemies
The good you do
Will be forgotten tomorrow.
DO GOOD ANYWAY
Honesty and frankness made you vulnerable.
BE HONEST ANYWAY
What you spent years building
May be destroyed overnight.
People really need help
But may attack you if you help them.
HELP PEOPLE ANYWAY
Give the world the best you have
And you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
GIVE THE WORLD
THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY
(On the wall of
the children’s shelter.
From the book ‘A Simple Path.’
‘Everybody has something good inside them.
Some hide is, some neglect it, but it is there’
122. Send your Angel to Holy Mass.
O Holy Angel, at my side,
Go to church for me.
Kneel in my place at Holy Mass,
Where I desire to be.
At Offertory, in my stead,
Take all I am and own,
And place it as a sacrifice
Upon the Altar Throne.
At Holy Consecration’s bell,
Adore with Seraph’s love,
My Jesus hidden in the Host,
Come down from heaven above.
And when the priest communion takes,
Oh, bring the Lord to me,
That His sweet Heart may rest on mine,
And I His temple be.
I visited the altar rail
Tonight when I was blue
And everything seemed wrong to me,
Until I came to you.
A cross I had throughout the day,
My path, a shadow crossed.
A thing of grief had saddened me,
And peace of mind I’d lost.
I went to Christ and knelt with Him
And begged His precious care,
And then my cross the lighter grew,
It was easier to bear.
I left it at the altar rail
Just as I came away,
And now my soul is happy,
My heart is light and gay.
The grief and sorrow that was mine
No more my peace will slay;
I left them at the altar rail
Just as I came away.
124. Who Owns What?
Fifty years ago my mother gave me an old silver plated propelling pencil. I didn’t know that it worked so I put it in a box along with other old pen and pencils. Twenty years later I happened to notice it and decide to see if it would work – it did and it became my pride and joy. Obtaining leads for it wasn’t easy. They had to be specialy ordered and when I visited the stationers I noticed the staff casting jealous eyes at my old silver plated propelling pencil. I would quickly return it to my inside pocket. It was mine and nobody else’s!
Then one day it suddenly occurred to me that as I was so protective towards it – so
troubled by others being envious of it – that I didn’t own it – it owned me! Something had to be done about this state of affairs. How silly to allow myself to be owned by an old silver plated propelling pencil – it didn’t make sense. So I decided that the next day I would take my old silver plated propelling pencil to a local lake and cast it into the middle. At last I would be rid of it – I would be free – and no longer embarrassed by it owning me. Many ‘next days’ came and went. In fact eighteen months of ‘next days’ came and went.
Then fate took a hand. One day I returned from town to discover that my old silver
plated propelling pencil was missing. I rushed back to town – to the Café where I
had had a coffee – no I hadn’t left it there – to the Police Station – no they hadn’t
had old silver plated propelling pencil handed in. I walked the route I had taken in
town scouring the pavements and gutters but without result. Then I remembered that I had sat in a deck chair in the garden. It was sure to be somewhere in the garden. But a long search brought no result. Then another brain wave. It had probably worked its way down into the lining of the jacket I had been wearing and would be found at the bottom of the lining. But on checking that jacket, and all the other jackets ‘just in case’, no old silver plated propelling pencil was to be found.
Then came the final insult – the realization that whilst I hadn’t been able to get rid of the old silver plated propelling pencil – it had got rid of me.
When I die on my tombstone or plaque will be written:-
He was a vassal
of an old silver plated propelling pencil.
125 JESUS CAME TO VISIT………………..
If Jesus came to your home to spend a day or two……
If He came unexpectedly, I wonder what you’d do.
Oh, I know you’d give your nicest room to such an honoured guest, and
all the food you’d serve Him would be the very best.
And you would keep assuring Him you’re glad to have Him there….
That serving Him in your home is joy beyond compare.
But when you saw Him coming, would you meet Him at the door with
your arms outstretched in welcome to your heavenly visitor?
Or would you have to change your clothes before you let Him in, or hide
some magazines, and put a Bible where they’d been?
Would you turn off the radio and hope He hadn’t heard, and wish you
hadn’t uttered that last, loud, nasty word?
Would you hide your worldly music and put some hymn books out?
Could you let Jesus walk right in or would you rush about?
And I wonder….if the Saviour spent a day or two with you,
Would you go right on doing the things you always do?
Would you go right on saying the things you always say?
Would your life continue, as it does from day to day?
Would your family conversation keep it’s usual pace, and would you
find it hard each meal to say a table grace?
Would you sing the songs you always sing and read the books you read
and let Him know the things on which your mind and spirit feed?
Would you take Jesus with you everywhere you’d planned to go, or
would you, maybe change your plans for just a day or so?
Would you be glad to have Him meet your closest friends, or would you
hope they’d stay away until His visit ends?
Would you be glad to have Him stay forever on and on, or would you
sigh with great relief when He at last was gone?
It might be interesting to know the things that you would do. If Jesus
came in person to spend some time with you.
From the February Issue of The Children of Medjugorje Magazine.
126 You are Very Special.
In all the world there is nobody, nobody like you. Since the beginning of time there has never been another person like you. Nobody has your smile, your eyes, your hands, your hair. Nobody owns your handwriting, your voice. You’re special.
Nobody can paint your brush strokes. Nobody has your taste for food, or music, or dance or art. Nobody in the universe sees things as you do. In all time there has never been anyone who laughs in exactly your way, and what makes you laugh, or cry, or think may have a totally different response in another. So….You’re special.
You’re different from any other person who has ever lived in the history of the universe. You are the only one in the whole creation who has your particular set of abilities. There is always someone who is better at one thing or another. Every person is my superior in at least one way. Nobody in the universe can reach the quality of the combination of your talents, your feelings. Like a roomful of musical instruments, some might excel in one way or another, but nobody can match the symphonic sound when all are played together. Your symphony.
Through all eternity no one will ever walk, talk, think or do exactly like you. You’re special. You’re rare and in all rarity there is enormous value and because of your great value the need for you to imitate anyone else is absolutely wrong. You’re special and it is no accident you are. Please realise that God made you for a special purpose. He has a job for you to do that nobody else can do as well as you can. Out of the billions of applicants one is qualified. Only one has the unique and right combination of what it takes and that one is You.
You are Very Special. JESUS LOVES YOU.
127. The New Gas Heater.
We had just had a new gas heater fitted in our Parish Room. Very expensive, £1,000, and I had been the one to suggest it! The first time I came to light it, it wouldn’t work! I tried and tried and tried but no luck. It seemed that my pride was about to be shattered as I would have to tell the Prayer Group “Sorry no heat.” I sat on the floor feeling thoroughly dejected. “What can I do?” I said to myself, and the answer came “Pray.” So I said “Padre Pio, Holy Spirit, please get this new heater to light.” I turned the switch and on came the heater!
Why was my prayer answered for such a small thing when there are so many more important things? I suppose the answer is that from time to time our faith needs a boost and mine certainly got one! An engineer came a few days later and discovered a broken part. The heater shouldn’t have worked!
128. The Killing.
That was the day they killed the Son of God
On a squat
Sucked by the demon curiosity
Clean through the gates. The very halt and blind
Had somehow got themselves up to the hill.
After the ceremonial preparation
The scourging, nailing, nailing against the wood,
Erection of the main-trees with their burden,
While from the hill rose an orchestral wailing,
They were there at last, high up in the soft spring day.
We watched the writhings, heard the moanings, saw
The three heads turning on the separate axles
Like broken wheels left spinning. Round his head
Was oosely bound a crown of plaited thorn
That hurt at random, stinging temple and brow
As the pain swung into its envious circle.
In front the wreath was gathered in a knot
That as he gazed looked like the last stump left
Of a death-wounded deer’s great antlers. Some
Who came to stare grew silent as they looked,
Indignant or sorry. But the hardened old
And the hard-hearted young, although at odds
From the first morning, cursed him with one curse,
Having prayed for a Rabbi or an armed Messiah
And found the Son of God. What use to them
Was a God or Son of God? Of what avail
For purposes such as theirs? Beside the cross-foot
Alone, four women stood and did not move
All day. The sun revolved, the shadow wheeled,
The evening fell. His head lay on his breast,
But in his breast they watched his heart move on
By itself alone, accomplishing its journey.
Their taunts grew louder, sharpened by the knowledge
That he was walking in the park of death,
Far from their rage. Yet all grew stale at last,
Spite, curiosity, envy, hate itself.
They waited only for death and death was slow
And came so quietly they scarce could mark it.
They were angry then with death and death’s deceit.
I was a stranger, could not read these people
Or this outlandish deity. Did a God
Indeed in dying cross my life that day
By chance, he on his road and I on mine?
129 HOLY WATER – A MEANS OF SPIRITUAL WEALTH.
Holy Water is a Sacramental that remits venial sin. Because
of the blessing attached to it,
WE DO NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE BENEFITS FROM HOLY WATER
Untold spiritual wealth is concentrated in a tiny drop of blessed water.
AND WE GIVE SO LITTLE THOUGHT
THE HOLY SOULS LONG FOR IT
Only in Purgatory can one understand how ardently a poor soul longs for Holy Water. If we desire to make a host of intercessors for ourselves, let us try to realise now some of their yearning, and never forget them at the Holy Water font.
The Holy Souls nearest to Heaven may need the sprinkling of only one drop to release their pining souls.
REMITS VENIAL SINS
Because Holy Water is one of the Church’s sacramentals, it remits venial sin. Keep your soul beautifully pure in God’s sight by making the sign of the cross carefully while saying:
“By this Holy Water and your Thy Precious
Blood wash away all my sins, O Lord.”
DISPEL THE DEVIL
The devil hates Holy Water because of its power over him. He cannot long abide in a place or near a person hat is often sprinkled with this blessed water.
ARE OUR DEAR ONES LIVING AT A DISTANCE?
Holy Water, sprinkled with faith and piety, can move the Sacred Heart to bless your loved ones and protect them from all harm of soul and body. When worry and fear take possession of your heart, hasten to your Holy Water font, and give your dear one the benefit of the Church’s prayer.
130. From a prayer by the Holy Father Pope John Paul II.
O Risen Christ, in your glorified wounds receive all the painful wounds of contemporary man : those of which so much is said by the media; of social communications; also those which silently throb in secrecy hidden in hearts. May they be tended in the mystery of your Redemption. May they be healed and closed up through Love, which is stronger than death.
In this Mystery: We are with you, who suffer want and hunger, sometimes witnessing the agony of children calling for food. We are with you, the ranks of millions of refugees, driven from your homes, exiles in your own countries.
We are with you, all you victims of terror, shut up in prisons or concentration camps, worn out by ill treatment or tortures. We are with you who have been abducted. We are with you, who live in the nightmare of daily threats of violence and civil wars. We are with you who are suffering unexpected calamities……
We are with you, families who pay for your faith in Christ by suffering discrimination or having to give up studies and careers for your children. We are with you parents trembling at the spiritual travail or certain errors of your children. We are with you, young people, who are discouraged at no finding work, housing and the social dignity to which you aspire.
We are with you, who suffer from ill health, age, solitude. We are with you who are bewildered by anguish and doubt, and ask light for your minds and peace for your hearts. We are with you who feel the weight of sin and call upon the grace of Christ the Redeemer.
131 Payer of St Francis I Sales.
Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow;
The same everlasting Father who cares for you today,
Will care for you tomorrow and every day.
Either He will shield you from suffering
or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts
132. STORIES OF ANSWERED PRAYERS.
In the early days of his work for the disabled Leonard Cheshire was £7,000 in debt. Unless the money came from somewhere quickly then his attempt to help the disabled would collapse. Leonard Cheshire had learnt to ‘trust’ and left the matter in God’s safe hands. One morning, soon after the problem arose, he opened an envelope and there was a cheque for £7,000 which he had no idea was on its way to him.
Cecil was a friend of the stigmatist, Padre Pio, and relied on his help during difficult times. Some time after Padre Pio’s death Cecil got into financial difficulties. One morning he opened a letter. It was from the Bank telling him that he owed them £1,459.17.6d. (It was in the days of old money.) If he didn’t pay up a once they would close his account and take the necessary steps to obtain the money from his assets. He was devastated. He had no way of paying the debt. He carried on opening the mail. (I have heard him tell this story and at this point he always says “You don’t have to believe this but it is true!”) the very next envelope he opened contained a cheque made out to him for £1,459.17.6d! He didn’t even know the lady who had sent it. It was only years later that he met her. She had received a dividend on some shares and because she had heard of the work which Cecil was a doing in promoting Padre Pio she had decided to send it to him. But – just the same amount – to the very penny! The hand of God was at work.
One of the sisters in charge of
the kitchens in one of their Homes for the sick in
Denis was supplying some religious tapes to a TV station but knew that they would only accept them on payment of $5,000. He hadn’t got that sort of money but encouraged by his wife, who had prayed, he sent off the tapes with his personal cheque for $5,000 but with no money in his account to back up the cheque!
Meanwhile over on the West Coast of USA a woman was praying. She was praying for the salvation of souls when suddenly into her head came the words “Send Denis Nolan $5,000!”. She ignored the words and kept on praying. But the words came back again “Send Denis Nolan $5,000!”. Once again she ignored it. But when it happened a third time she said “O.K Lord!”.
Denis Nolan received the cheque in time for it to clear his bank before his cheque was presented.
133. Love Your Enemies.
It is amazing what just one person can do. One of my favourite examples of what ordinary human beings can do is a woman I only know through a single press report. Mrs Louise Degrafinried, who was seventy-three when I read about her. She lived with her husband , Nathan, in Mason, Tennesee.
One morning a few years ago a man who had just escaped
from a prison in
“Young man,” Louise said “I am a Christian lady. I don’t believe in no violence. Put down that gun and sit down. I don’t allow no violence here.”
He put the weapon on the couch. Whilst she had Nathan get the unexpected guest some dry socks, she made breakfast. When the three of them sat down to eat it, she took the escaped prisoner’s hand in her own and said “Young man, let’s give thanks that you came here and that you are safe.”
She said a prayer and asked him if there was anything he would like to say to the Lord. He couldn’t think of anything so she said to him “Just say “Jesus Wept.””
After breakfast she held his hand again. He was trembling all over. “Young man, I love you and God loves you. God loves all of us, especially you. Jesus died for you because he loves you so much.”
Then the police arrived. Hearing the approaching sirens, the man said, “They gonna kill me when they get here.” But Louise said she was going out to talk to them. Standing on her porch, she spoke to the police in the same terms she had spoken to the convict. “Y’all put those guns away. I don’t allow no violence here.”
The police were as docile in the response to this authoritative grandmother as the convict had been. They put their guns back in their holsters. Soon afterwards the convict was taken back to the prison. No one was harmed.
From a 1987 CTS pamphlet ‘Love
Your Enemies’ by
134. Heaven’s Grocery Store.
As I was walking down life’s highway many years ago
I came upon a sign that read ‘Heavens Grocery Store’.
When I got a little closer the doors swung open wide
And when I came to myself I was standing inside.
I saw a host of angels, they were standing everywhere
One handed me a basket and said “My child shop with care.”
Everything a human needed was in that grocery store
And what you could not carry you could come back for more.
First I got some Patience, Love was in that same row.
Further down was Understanding, you need that everywhere you go.
I got a box or two of Wisdom and Faith a bag or two,
And Charity of course I would need some of that too.
I couldn’t miss the Holy Ghost it was all over the place,
And then some Strength and Courage to help me run the race.
My basket was getting full but I remembered I needed Grace,
And then I chose Salvation for Salvation was for free.
So I tried to get enough of that for you and me.
Then I started to the counter to pay my grocery bill,
For I thought I had everything to do my master’s will.
As I went up the aisle I saw Prayer and put that in,
For I knew when I stepped out side I would run into sin.
Peace and Joy were plentiful, the last things on the shelf,
Song and Praise were hanging near so I just helped myself.
Then I said to the angel “Now how much do I owe?”
He smiled and said ”Just take them, everywhere you go.”
Again I said “Really now, how much do I owe?
“My child” he said “Jesus paid your bill a long, long time ago.”
135. A SENATE PRAYER.
When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of
the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities this is what they heard:
“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask
Your forgiveness and seek Your direction and
guidance. We know Your Word says, “Woe to those
who call evil good” but that is exactly what we have
done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and
reversed our values.
We confess that:-
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and
called it Pluralism;
We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism;
We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery;
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare;
We have killed our unborn and called it choice;
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable;
We have neglected to discipline our children and called
it building self-esteem;
We have abused power and called it politics;
We have coveted our neighbour’s possessions and
called it ambition;
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography
and called it freedom of expression;
We have ridiculed the time-honoured values of our
forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse
us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these
men and women who have been sent to direct us to the
centre of Your will. We ask it in the name of Your Son,
the living Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
A number of legislators walked out in protest during the prayer. But in
the next few weeks the Central Christian Church, where Rev Wright is
pastor, received 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls
Racism is wrong – totally wrong – and no-one can claim to be a
Christian if they have any racial feelings. Racism can take many
types of forms. It can be due to a difference of skin colour. It can
be because of a difference of language. It can be because of a
difference of religion or someone with no religion at all.
The whole of our lives must be based on ‘love’. This ‘love’ must so
permeate our hearts, bodies and souls that there is no room
for racism because racism is ‘hate.’ The evil one, is ever on the
watch for a chance to destroy love which goes against the way of
life which he wants us to live.
Total ‘love’ doesn’t allow for racism in any form. Therefore as ‘a
man sins if he looks at a woman and lusts for her’, so we also sin if
we even ‘think’ racist thoughts.
If fighting racism within us is a battle then we are battling for our
own souls. We might think that it is our hearts which cause us to
‘hate’. But life doesn’t come from our hearts but from our souls. No
heart can beat without a soul to drive it. So, to fight racism, it is our
souls which need controlling.
Are there ways which can help us to control racism within our
hearts and souls? Yes, the answer is to ‘see Jesus in everyone’.
We know that we are all made in the ‘image and likeness of God’
So it helps us if we look for Jesus in everyone. Because Jesus is
It is easy to see Jesus in the poor, the deprived, the persecuted, in
refugees, in the abused. It might be less easy to see Jesus in the
rich, the proud, in those who lack humility. But we must never stop
searching and we must never criticise. Whenever ‘looking for Jesus’
is mentioned someone often mentions Adolf Hitler. Surely there is
no way that we can ‘see Jesus’ in Hitler. Perhaps it is not generally
known that a few days before he killed himself he got a minister to
go into the bunker and he married his mistress Eva Braun. So here
we have someone who is regarded as totally evil carrying out a
kindness. Why else should he have wanted to be married than out
of kindness to Eva? Anyway it is not for us to judge ‘the plank in
our own eye’ must always be our main concern.
A current line of thought of people who claim not to be racist is ‘why
are they [the immigrants and the refugees] being given so much
when some of our own people are in need?’ This line of thought
comes not only from those who were born in the
refugees who came to the
Firstly things have changed in the past fifty years. The United
Nations and, more recently, the European Union make demands on
Governments which they cannot ignore. We are quick to criticise
freedom and of helping the less fortunate. Yet we are sometimes
slow to realise that, in our hearts, we are equally repressive.
Secondly decisions on who should or should not be allowed to stay
paper on Election Day then we hand over to the politicians the
responsibility on immigration. From then on it is not a matter which
we can control and therefore not one which we should hold against
the immigrant or refugee.
If we let ‘love’ be the mainstay of our every breath then, despite all
the troubles going on around us, our hearts and our souls will be
places of peace.
137. PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING ATTRIBUTED TO PADRE PIO.
Translated from the Italian by Cecil Humphery-Smith
Arranged to music by Stella Lilley.
Stay with me Lord for without Thy presence I forget Thee,
Thou knowest how easily I abandon Thee.
Stay with me Lord for without Thy strength I fall,
Thou knowest how weak I am.
Stay with me Lord for without Thee my fervour fails,
Thou art my life.
Stay with me Lord for without Thee I am in darkness,
Thou are my light.
Stay with me Lord and show me Thy Will.
Stay with me Lord and let me hear Thy Voice.
Stay with me Lord that I may follow Thee.
Stay with me Lord that I may love Thee more.
Stay with me Lord that I may stay with Thee,
If Thou woulds’t have me to be faithful,
stay with me Lord.
Stay with me Jesus for thou my soul is poor,
it desires to be in the fold of love for Thee,
a place of consolation.
Stay with me Jesus for it is getting late,
the day is ending, life is passing;
death, judgement, eternity are coming soon.
Now I must muster all my forces,
so that I do not faint on the road.
I have such great need for Thee on this journey.
It‘s getting late and death is approaching.
Darkness, temptations, dryness, crosses
and all sorts of troubles beset me
and Oh how much I need Thee my good Jesus
in this night of exile.
Stay with me Jesus because this night of life
is so full of dangers and I have such need of Thee.
Grant that like Thy disciples I may recognise Thee
in the breaking of Bread.
Grant that the Eucharistic Union may be the light
which casts out the darkness; the force that
sustains me and the one means to sanctify my soul.
Stay with me Lord because when death arrives
if I cannot really be with Thee in Holy Communion
then I shall wish to remain united to Thee at least
through Grace and Love.
Stay with me Jesus. I do not ask Thee for Divine
Consolation because I deserve it.
But I beg of Thee with all my strength
for the gift of Thy most Holy Presence.
Stay with me Lord. Thee alone I seek.
Thy Love, Thy Grace, Thy Will, Thy Heart,
Thy Spirit, for I love Thee. Thee alone I love.
Let me seek no other reward but the increase
of that love. That my love may be real and firm
I ask no more than to love Thee with all my heart
on earth and to follow Thee with all with all perfected
love for all eternity.
138. PRAY FOR SOULS IN PURGATORY
There are more souls released from purgatory during the
Consecration of the Mass than at any time. Christmas is
the day of the year when most souls are delivered; then
feast days of Our Lord, Our Lady and great saints. Souls
receive much grace from prayers offered for them on their
birthdays, day of baptism, anniversary of death.
The more we work for the Poor Souls on earth the more
others will pray for us, the more merciful will Christ be
with us when we are in purgatory.
139. PRAYER OF ST GERTRUDE THE GREAT
Our Lord told St Gertrude the Great that the following prayer
would release 1,000 souls from Purgatory each time is it said.
The prayer was extended to include living sinners as well:
“Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious blood of thy
Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout
the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners
everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my
one home and within my family. Amen.”
Our lady said that if we pray the prayers “we will deliver so many
souls, so many souls!”
“The Holy Wounds are the treasure of treasures for the souls
“It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the
dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.” 2 Mach 12:46
140. A MIRACLE
THE BEATIFICATION OF POPE JOHN XXIII
Sister Caterina Capitani was very ill. She had been vomiting blood and, on
examination, was found to have a haemorrhage in the chest area. She obtained a consultation with an eminent Professor who was the director of the Surgical
Institute of the
The professor tried a cure by medication but when, after five months, that didn’t work
he decided on an operation which lasted five hours. The inside of Sister’s stomach
was completely covered with a strange and rare form of ulcerous tumors, caused
perhaps, by the improper functioning of the pancreas and spleen. The professor was
obliged to remove her stomach, except for a small piece the size of a prune. He also
removed the pancreas and the spleen and he had to make various internal
adjustments to, hopefully, enable the Sister to survive with so many vital organs
Sister Caterina had a devotion to Our Lady of Pompei. The day after the operation
she was thanking Our Lady of Pompei for having come through the operation safely when another Sister from the Congregation told her “It was Pope John XXIII who
saved you. I had placed his image on the bed of the operating room and had
continued to pray to him throughout the operation.” Sister Caterina thanked her
fellow sister but still believed that it was Our Lady of Pompei who had saved her.
The two sisters continued to argue, jokingly, about whether it was Our Lady of
Pompei or Pope John John XXIII who was responsible.
Sister Caterina’s condition became worse and she developed pleurisy and, not
without reason, became depressed. Other sisters now started to tell her to pray to
Pope John XXIII so she started to pray to the Good Pope. She had a short period of improvement and was sent home but two months later she returned to the hospital looking as if she was already dead.
She had another bad attack of vomiting and discovered that her abdomen was completely wet. The gastric fluids along with blood and small amount of orange
juice which she had just drunk were flowing out of a perforation which had opened
up on her abdomen.
Sister Caterina had not taken her final vows, though she was just about to do so
when her illness commenced. In this critical condition she made her final vows and received the Eucharist. She was brought a relic of a piece of the sheet upon which
Pope John XXIII had died and she placed it on the perforation.
In her suffering she prayed to the Good Pope to take her to heaven. She was
normally watched over day and night by one of the Sisters but one day she was
left alone and drifted off to sleep. She felt a hand pressing on the wound on her
stomach and the voice of a man saying “Sister Caterina, Sister Caterina.” She
thought it was the Professor come to check up on her but when she opened her
eyes she saw Pope John XXIII standing beside her bed. He was the one who was holding his hand on her wound. He said with a calm voice “Many people have
prayed to me, but especially one. You have really taken this miracle from my heart.
But don’t be afraid now, you are healed. Ring the bell, call the sisters who are in the chapel, have them take your temperature and you will see that you will not have
even the slightest temperature. Eat whatever you want, as you did before the
sickness: I will hold my hand on your wound, and you will be healed. Go to the Professor, have him examine you, have some x-rays done and have it all written
down, because these things will be needed someday.”
The vision disappeared and after a time of feeling both emotion and fear Sister
Caterina rang her bell. The sisters hurried to her bedside to find her sitting up in bed. They looked at her as if they were dreaming. She told them “I have been healed.
It was Pope John XXIII. Measure my fever, you’ll see that I have none.” Mother
They took her temperature 96F. “Do you see?” She said. “Now give me something
to eat because I’m hungry.” She hadn’t been able to keep anything down in her
stomach for many months. Mother Superior who seemed hypnotized by what was happening ordered the sisters to get some food. They started with semolina, then ice cream. When Sister Caterina asked for more they fetched her some meatballs
followed by soup! Sister Caterina devoured the lot!
At this point Mother Superior, who was still not convinced of what was happening,
said; “Now we have to change you,” thinking that everything Sister had eaten would
had gone out of the perforation in the stomach, which is what had always happened.
A nurse brought gauze and a clean nightgown. They uncovered Sister Caterina.
The wound had completely disappeared. The sisters fell on their knees, crying
from emotion. Until a few minutes earlier the skin on her stomach had been one big wound: the gastric juices that constantly flowed out of the perforation had corroded
the skin. Now there was no sign of the perforation, not a trace, the skin was smooth, clean and white.
From that day Sister Caterina hasn’t been ill at all. There is no sign of her illness.
All this happened thirty-four years ago. She returned to a normal life, eats well and
manages a normal hectic work load.
141. THE POWER OF HOLY MEDALS
At a recent Padre Pio Retreat Stella mentioned the power
which holy medals contain. She had been walking down a street in
Some time later she was walking down the same street and noticed that both shops had closed down!
Fascinated by this story and wanting to check it for myself I obtained a supply of small miraculous medals and, having had them blessed, I shared them out among our Prayer Group and awaited an opportunity to put them to the test!
The chance came when I was in a large Shopping Mall in
A couple of months later was in the same Shopping Mall. I was reluctant to go into the shop as I didn’t want to be upset by what I had previously seen (O me of little faith!) but my wife persuaded me to go in and the offensive items had gone!
One of the medals which had been passed to the Prayer Group found its way (providentially) into the hands of a thirteen year old Catholic girl. She had been told about the ‘power’ which the medals possessed. A new shop had opened up in her town – it was a Joke Shop. But some of the things in the window, on view for all passing by to see, were no joke, they were disgusting. She dropped her medal in the doorway and awaited results. To begin with nothing happened but the young girl had a strong faith and whenever she passed the shop she said a prayer. Shortly afterwards the shop closed down! The medal, and her faith, had been rewarded.
When I phoned the local repository for a further supply of medals I explained why I wanted them, and was told the following story:
Some time around 1900 the Mill Hill Fathers were wanting to
Medals really do have a power. So get a supply and get to work!
142. OUR INVISIBLE STIGMATA
Padre Pio complained bitterly to God about his visible stigmata. It was an embarrassment to him. But despite his protestations the marks of the crucifixion stayed with him for fifty years and he learnt to accept them as an unwanted ‘gift’ from God.
How would we cope with a stigmata? Without realising it we frequently have invisible stigmata to cope with. Don’t all of us have aches, pains or problems which we complain about? What is the difference between these invisible stigmata and that suffered by Padre Pio?
Yes, Padre Pio’s stigmata was excruciatingly painful, and our invisible stigmata are not only far less painful, but, also, they don’t cause us embarrassment. But as Padre Pio was made to suffer and was given the strength to bear that suffering so we too, if we ask for it, will be given the strength to bear our aches, pains and problems of our invisible stigmata.
But we must not only bear them. Padre Pio used the pain of his stigmata to buy souls back from the brink of the abyss. By following his perfect example we can do the same. Many of us complain, sadly, at our lapsed children and grandchildren. We can offer the suffering of our invisible stigmata, our aches, pains and problems, to do what Padre Pio did. Offer them to God asking for his mercy on our families and asking for his compassion that we will all meet in the glory and eternal peace of heaven.
Padre Pio did not accept the normal understanding of time. He knew that ‘time’ is man made and prayers can be answered outside of time. So, after the death of his parents, he was still praying for their happy deaths. If we use our invisible stigmata in that way it surely follows that we can share in Padre Pio’s visible stigmata. As we use his perfect example so we can assist him, even years after his death, to bear the extraordinary pains to which he was subjected.
If we do that then surely he will thank us by accepting our petitions and putting them at the foot of the Cross along with his prayerful approval of our needs, which we must always accept, might differ from what we think are our real needs!
Blessed Padre Pio, Pray for us.
143. A PRAYER TO.JESUS, OUR SAVIOUR.
Lord, hold my hand,
I so need your loving kindness;
Lord, hold my hand,
All through life, in joy and grief.
Lord, hold my hand,
When I’m sick with fear and anxious;
Lord, hold my hand,
In the wonder of relief.
Lord, hod my hand,
When it’s dark and storms are raging;
Lord, hold my hand,
and help me live it through.
Lord, hold my hand,
When I’m lifted, joyful, loving;
Lord, hold my hand,
When I’m trying something new.
Lord, hold my hand,
When I fail or faint or waver;
Lord, hold ,my hand,
For I know your love is true.
Lord, hold my hand,
When I’m lonely. Weary, ageing;
Lord, hold my hand,
When there’s only me and You.
Amen. Fr Ingwell’s Hospital visiting card.
144. THE TEN MINUTE NEW TESTAMENT BIBLE
The Gospel of St Mark. This Gospel is considered by Biblical Scholars to be a ‘master copy’ on which Matthew and Luke’s Gospels are based. It is considered certain that Mark obtained his information directly from St Peter. So we are given the life of Jesus as seen through the Prince of the Apostles.
The Gospel of St Luke. As with Matthew so with Luke; the gospel is said to be based on that of Mark. He is thought to have been a Gentile, a Physician and also possibly a Painter. Luke, using Mark’s Gospel as a template, adds the emphasis of prayer (and especially Jesus praying), the role of women and, as distinct from Matthew, was writing for the Gentiles.
Acts of The Apostles. Biblical
Scholars suggest that Luke is the author of The Acts. The book is far ranging
and takes us from The Resurrection to Paul’s journey to
The Epistle to the
scholars have never determined who wrote this Epistle. Whilst some suggest it
was Paul others deny that it has Paul’s style. Another possible writer was
Appolos (See Acts 18:24-28) who was known to Paul. It could be that is was
written by Appolos under Paul’s guidance. The Epistle was written for the first
Hebrew Christians who were eventually excluded from the
The Epistle of St
James. Besides the
fourteen Epistles of St Paul there are another seven Epistles and the first of
these is of St James. The writer is considered to be James the son of
The First Epistle of St Peter. This Epistle is varied in its content but its aim is to encourage Christians to stand firm against the persecution which was upon them.
The Second Epistle of St Peter. Peter’s first Epistle concerns persecution from outside. This one concerns problems from within – false teachers and evildoers.
The First Epistle of
The Second Epistle of
The Third Epistle of
The Epistle of St Jude. St Jude is the brother of St James. He writes in very much the same vein as the Second letter of St Peter. The Church must have been infiltrated by heretics who were destroying from within. Jude uses Old Testament traditions to explain his arguments.
The Book of Revelation or Apocalypse.
It seems to be generally agreed that the book was written by
145. THE ANGEL NURSES
I recall one particular night when the bleeding was severe. My bed was surrounded by compassionate and caring nurses and a doctor who had been aroused from her sleep. As I lay there in considerable pain it occurred to me that all those around my bed were just like angels.
Then the thought developed into obtaining ‘angel badges’ as
a gift for when I was discharged. Thanks to a helpful Catholic Repository in
I wasn’t even sure whether they would be allowed to wear them and I even thought that perhaps it was another of my crazy ideas which I should have ignored.
Four weeks later I went back to the ward to take them some chocolates for Christmas. When I entered the ward my heart missed a beat. Nearly every one of the staff including domestics and administrators were not only wearing their angel badges and were obviously doing so with pride.
I now know that the ‘idea’ of the badges was not mine but that of the Holy Spirit. Thank you Holy Spirit for thus guiding me.
146. PRAYING FOR PEACE.
On the second of January it occurred to me that I hadn’t made any New Year Resolutions. I determined to do something about it. So I started to think about ‘Resolutions’. What resolutions were there that I could attempt to make which would be of greatest benefit? The word ‘Peace’ came into my head. But surely such a resolution would not be practical. The whole world is so far removed from peace that it seems a waste of time to pray for it. Those words ‘waste of time’ made me realize where I had previously been going wrong when praying for peace.
Recently I have been carrying out a detailed commentary of the four Gospels. What has emerged is the compassion which Jesus had towards the sick, blind, lepers and anyone and everyone who came to him for healing. BUT these people had to have Faith. If they did not have Faith then Jesus was unable to heal. That is where I had been going wrong when praying for Peace. I had been doing so half-heartedly. If I were to make Peace my New Year Resolution then I had to do so with complete faith knowing that God will listen to my prayer. Yes, I know that He will do so in His own time but that is His prerogative. Mine is to pray with complete faith.
As the theme of Peace entered my mind I understood the immensity of what I was asking for. When Peace comes everything else contrary to Peace will disappear. So war, violence, abortion, persecution in all its forms, will no longer be. Isn’t it worth praying for?
Please will you join me in making the year 2001 and every year the one we pray for Peace? If we Pray with all our faith then God, in his great mercy and goodness, if He so chooses, can and will reward our prayers.
147 OUR GREATEST NEED.
Sometimes we feel justified in being jealous of those who lived in the time of Jesus and who were able to see and hear him. We say to ourselves ‘Think of the great advantage they had.’ We might be blessed for not having seen: but it would be nice to ‘have seen’. Anyway why should the people alive in those days have so much advantage over us?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear Jesus and even more wonderful to be healed by him? Because of his great compassion Jesus couldn’t refuse anyone and I believe that the Gospels give only the briefest indication of how Jesus was healing everyone who came to him. There was just one drawback – those who came must have faith in Jesus’ power to heal. Some who came to him did not have faith and Jesus could not cure them. Can we be certain that we would have had faith?
By thinking these thoughts we are blinding ourselves to our greatest need which is forgiveness. Of course Jesus knew that and, during his ministry there were many cases where, as well as healing, he told the person “Your sins are forgiven.”
Because Jesus knew that forgiveness is our greatest need he didn’t ascend to heaven without leaving his apostles with the power to act as a mediator between God and us for the forgiveness of our sins and to pass on that power to others who followed after them.
So we have at our disposal God’s answer to Our Greatest Need: The confessional. We might see the confessional as a trial but it is God’s way of telling us that he loves us. Through the confessional God is opening his arms eager to enfold us in a loving embrace.
Going to confession will never become easy. I don’t think it ever should or it would mean that we are blasé about our sins. Sorrow is what is needed not apathy. But if we can recognise that Jesus, knowing our Greatest need, made full provision for it then we are totally irresponsible if we ignore that provision.
God is Love. But He can only give us His love us if we let Him do so. He is not going to force Himself onto us.
Potentially the most dangerous thing we possess is our Free Will. We must keep it under control and do so by accepting God’s offer of forgiveness by regular confessions.
OUR GREATEST NEED is God’s love. HIS GREATEST DESIRE is our love
Or, more to the point, why doesn’t God always intervene?
During a discussion on these thoughts with a friend I
I was reminded of Mother Teresa and her ‘conversion to the
poor’ when she was on a railway journey. She suddenly heard an inner voice
telling her to leave the religious order she belonged to and help the poor in
The friend I was talking to always spends an hour after work in meditation in front of the Blessed Sacrament in a church near her place of work. She told me that recently during one of these times of meditation she was approached by a young man in his twenties. He had come from the railway station where a journey had just ended. He was a Catholic in name alone. For the past several years he had only ever been to church twice. He knew that his grandmother always prayed for him. On his train journey he had a heard an inner voice telling him to ‘go to church.’
So he had come to the church and asked my friend for help. “What shall I do? I am afraid to come to Mass as I won’t know what to do.” My friend told him that attending Mass would not be a problem – just follow what everyone else was doing. But the main thing was to go and see a priest and she directed him to the presbytery.
Then the thought occurred – this young man had come to church, and hopefully to a full return to his faith, due to the prayers of his grandmother. Prayers had been answered.
Can we doubt that the early Apostles possibly saw a weakness in their numbers. They needed someone well educated who was both a writer and an orator. So they prayed to God for their need. It follows that God’s intervention and Paul’s conversion would have been a direct result of prayer.
God, in His mysterious way, chose to answer their prayer by sending them the very last person they would have expected. We can feel very sorry for Ananias who was given the initial task of going to see Paul. “Lord, I have heard from many people about this man and the harm he has done…………” Acts 9:13. Ananias must have been terrified at the task the Lord was giving him. But he obeyed and the rest of the story is contained in Paul’s writings.
But despite the above God can and does intervene.
God is good and will always be compassionate to our needs.
149. THE HOLY SPIRIT AT WORK.
In June 2000 the Catholic Herald kindly published a letter
in which I was asking for information regarding lepers in
On the 26th January 2001 I received a letter from a Sister Maura Murphy FMSJ.
She had seen my letter in the Catholic Herald, had been wondering whether to write,
and, even though it was seven months after my letter had been published, she had decided
to do so.
Her letter had come from
Sister Maura was wondering, if I hadn’t managed to obtain the information I needed, whether I might be able to help sister Anita and her lepers. As it happens our 3rd world group had just sent £1,000 to help the Chinese lepers and has moved on to other projects. In her letter Sister Maura mentioned that for the next two weeks she would be in the mother house in Worlsey Manchester.
I wrote her a letter but
instead of sending it to
A Sister answered and I said
“My name is Michael Blackburn from
I couldn’t believe it. The Holy Spirit had worked a miracle. Sister Maura was just calling at the Disbury house to see old friends, She would shortly be leaving to go back to the Worsley mother house.
When she came on the phone and I told her who I was we both praised the Holy Spirit for the wonderful way we had been brought together. I will be keeping in touch with her.
Praised be God in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
150 PRAYER BESIDE THE LIFE SIZE CRUCIFIX AT LORETO.
(This is the most realistic crucifix I have ever seen. The anguish of Passion can be clearly seen.)
I stop thoughtfully at the foot of the Cross
I too have built I by my sins
Your goodness that doesn’t defend itself
And allows itself to be crucified is a mystery
That surprises me and moves me profoundly.
Lord, you came to the world for me
To search for me, to bring me to
The embrace of the Father.
You are the Lord of Goodness and of Mercy
For this you want to save me!
Inside me there is darkness,
Come with your light.
Inside me there is selfishness,
Come with your boundless Charity.
Inside me there are grudges,
Come with your mildness and humility.
Lord, the sinner to be save is me
The Prodigal Son who must return is me.
Lord, give me the gift of tears
To find liberty and life
And Peace with you and Joy in you
151 Power of Prayer Proof Baffles Boffins.
When we pray for a seriously ill person, what proof do we have that our prayers will be answered. The answer is quite simple – none, writes Hugh Farmer.
But what we do have is faith in a kindly God who will listen to our prayers and grant our wishes, and so we continue to pray.
Over the centuries people have tried to understand the power of prayer or rubbish it depending on their views.
To the cynics the power of prayer had never been proven unto the late Eighties when a study of 400 heart patients showed that prayer did have an effect on their health.
Now another study has really got the scientific world interested. Patients in an American coronary care unit were secretly enrolled in a study over 12 months, and the hospital chaplain’s department arranged with a volunteer Christian group to pray for patients given even medical numbers. The volunteers had the patients first names sonly.
Odd numbered patients were out into control group receiving no prayers.
To assess the patient’s recovery, a scoring system was set up and 10 doctors had to reach a 96 per cent agreement on the patient’s progress.
Then results proved the 466 patients who were prayed for
over four weeks had a significantly better outcome than their 524 control
counterparts. The story of the study appeared in an issue of the New Scientist
magazine and SAGA magazine’s Health section. It began when the researcher, William
Harris of St Luke’s Hospital in
Harris thought that trial was spoiled because both the doctors and the patents knew it was in progress, even though no-one knew who was being prayed for. He designed another trial on similar lines but this time only Harris and his colleagues knew what was happening.
Now the study has been reported in her Archives of Internal Medicine which is published by the American Medical Association. Even with this mark of approval, it has courted controversy.
Professor Herbert Benson of
Now a highly sceptical group called the committee for the
Scientific Investigation of the Paranormal in
Several years ago in The Universe.
152 The Monk with the Quick Temper.
One of my favourite stories is probably one that you have also heard. It concerns a monk with a very quick temper. It took very little time to make him angry, so angry that people kept away from him.
One day the monk lost his temper. H was so angry that he turned bright red in the face and dropped dead. His community was horrified that anybody, especially a monk, could be s angry, that he could die in the middle of his outburst and, as a result, they thought that he must have gone straight to Hell. Surely God could not forgive such a terrible sin.
That night, in a dream the abbot saw God. “Why are you not praying for your brother” God asked. Well it’s easy to see why” replied the abbot. “There’s not much point. If someone can commit such a big sin, surely you can’t forgive him, so why pray for his soul?”
God smiled sadly and shook his had. Don’t forget, I see things differently. You saw that your brother had lost his temper. I saw the effort he was making to keep it!”
It’s so easy to see he faults of others and to be critical. It’s easy to see the faults in those who should know better and who should be setting an example to others. Somehow this story helps me to keep a sense of proportion. It’s not always easy, especially when I think on a global scale and see the horrors perpetrated on innocent people. However for just people in my own circle, well, perhaps this story makes me a little bit kinder than I would otherwise be!