Celebrated fifty days after Easter, Pentecost commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit on the disciples. Pentecost is often referred to as the birthday of the Church, the day that a group of dispirited, frustrated followers of Jesus were transformed into spiritual dynamos, ready to go forth to preach and implement the teachings of Jesus.

The word “spirit” has its roots in the words for “breath” and “wind” and it was as a great wind that the disciples first experienced the “inspiration” of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. “There was a sound as if of a great wind”, then the Spirit fell upon them in the form of tongues of fire that set them ablaze and solidified their resolve to live and spread what they had experienced during their years with Jesus.

They “began to speak in different tongues as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” At Transfiguration the petitions of the faithful are read in various languages as a commemoration of that event, where “each one heard them speaking in his own tongue.”

About three thousand people were baptized that day as a result of the spirit-filled preaching of the disciples.

This Pentecost, take a few minutes to discern what wonders you could do if you let the Holy Spirit into your heart! Read this account in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles … it could change your life.

The Way of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross, also called the Way of Sorrows, Via Dolorosa in Latin, is the devotion to the Passion of Jesus, his journey from Gethsemane to Calvary, the final hours of his life.

For centuries Catholics have been praying the Stations of the Cross, which originated from a desire to replicate holy places of prayer in Jerusalem. The Franciscans were granted permission in the 17th century by Pope Innocent XI to place the stations in their churches, with the number of stations varying from 11 to 30.  By the 19th century, the right was extended to all the bishops with the number of stations fixed at 14.

The Stations are prayed throughout the year by many but are offered on Fridays during Lent in a communal form led by a priest or deacon.  Meditating upon the Stations of the Cross is considered a form of reparation for what Jesus endured for us in those last hours.

Jesus made this journey for us…to free us from our sins, not His.   As we walk with Him during the stations, the reality of what He endured for us reaches into the depth of our very soul.  We are transported in time to a garden where He was betrayed for a few coins and later condemned to die while others were set free, accepting His holy cross, the weight of that heavy cross.

A crown of thorns, scourging at the pillar, where were you?  Were you in the crowd on the road to Calvary watching as He fell once, twice and yet a third time under the weight of His holy cross?  Are you reaching out longing to touch Him, to wipe his brow with your veil, offer Him a drink of water, to free Him of his suffering, his divine destiny?  Do you listen to the slanderous insults, the jeering crowd, the mockery they make of this holy man and long to silence them?  Only to hear our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whisper his last words, “It is finished.  Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

God so loved the world that He sent His only son to die for us.

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise you.

Because, by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.

The Seven Founders of the Order of Servites

The Seven Founders of the Order of Servites

Thirteenth Century

Feast Day: February 17

Between the years 1225 and 1227, seven young men from Florence decided to dedicate their lives to the service of God.  They became the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin, popularly known as the ‘Laudesi’ or Praisers.  It was a time of instability and low morals even for those who had religious practices.  On the feast of the Assumption, as they were deep in prayer, they saw her in a vision and were inspired by her to withdraw from the world into solitude and to live for God alone.  For some, this meant leaving their families since two of these men were married and with children.  The bishop approved the withdrawal of these seven men from society, and arrangements were made for the well-being of their dependents.

As these solitaries gave themselves up to prayer for life, again they had a vision of our Lady, who bore in her hand a black habit while an angel held a scroll inscribed with the title of Servants of Mary.  She told them she had chosen them to be her servants, that she wished them to wear the black habit and to follow the Rule of St. Augustine.  From that date, April 13, 1240, they were known as the Servants of Mary, or Servites, and their practices took the form like that of the mendicant friars.

In 1259 the order was recognized by Alexander IV, and it wasn’t until 1304 that it received the explicit and formal approbation of Bd. over sixty years after its foundation.

Eventually, as this ministry grew in service and devotion, in 1852, members of this ministry came to theUnited Statesand settled inNew York and Philadelphia.  In Wisconsin in 1870, two American provinces developed under Father Austin Morini.

While in prayer, what is stopping you from giving yourself to the Holy Spirit and letting God answer your troubled heart?

Our Lady of Lourdes

Our Lady of Lourdes

Feast Day:  February 11

The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a 14-year-old peasant girl in 1858, in a grotto near Lourdes, France. Bernadette Soubirous had gone to gather firewood with her sister and a friend, the Thursday before Ash Wednesday in cold, threatening weather.

The girls crossed a canal but Bernadette, who suffered from asthma, remained on the other side afraid the cold water would bring on an attack.  She decided to chance the crossing and as she began to shed her stockings, heard a sound and looked toward the grotto behind her losing all power of speech for at the entrance, above a rose bush, was a golden cloud followed by a Lady, young and beautiful.

Bernadette fell to her knees and recited the Rosary.  This was to be the first of 18 times Our Lady would appear to her.

During one of the apparitions, Our Lady asked that a chapel be built at the grotto and told Bernadette to drink from the grotto fountain.  There wasn’t a fountain.   Our Lady told her where to dig and a spring flowed from that spot.  A spring, whose water, which has a blessed healing power for which no scientific explanation can be identified, has cured many.

Much has been written about the miracles that occur at Lourdes. People travel thousands of miles for the healing power of the water.

Perhaps you have a bottle of water from the grotto near Lourdes.  I do.  A friend brought it back to me upon visiting Lourdes for healing from cancer. My friend also underwent chemo and radiation therapy and currently is cancer-free.

Was it the holy water from Lourdes or the chemo and radiation that healed my friend?

Only our Blessed Mother and our God know the answer.

St. John Bosco

Saint John Bosco

(Aug. 16, 1815 – Jan. 31, 1888)

Born Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco, the youngest of three sons, John Bosco came from a poor, farming family in Castelnuovo d’ Asti, Piedmont, Italy.  John knew early on through a dream that his vocation was to lead and help youth.  His outgoing personality and his ability to amuse children with magic captured the attention of the young boys bringing them to church.  Poverty prevented him from schooling, but in 1830, at the age of 15, Fr. Joseph Calosso saw great promise in John and helped to support his education.

As a young chaplain, he followed the teachings of St. Francis de Sales and believed in teaching methods that focused on love, not punishment.  He developed the Oratory for boys which grew into more youth centers, founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales and some of those missionaries started houses in South America. With Maria Domenica Mazzarello he started the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, a congregation of nuns dedicated to the care and education of poor girls.  Though other clergy members of the time found his work threatening, accusing him of stealing the young from their parishes, John continued his work with the underprivileged.  Even politicians saw his teaching of young men a threat to their State’s political structure by possibly inciting a revolution.

The patron saint of magicians, school children and youth, John Bosco’s feast day is January 31.  He gave his very best to those children who had the least. He knew that the loving care and attention of an interested adult were essential to the healthy growth of every child.

Do you have a little bit of John Bosco’s zeal in you?

The Conversion of Paul

The Conversion of Paul

Feast Day – January 25

St. Paul, born Saul of Tarsus renamed Paul on his conversion, never met Christ.  Often called the “Great Evangelizer”, he was not one of the 12 disciples; he was the antithesis, the opposite, persecuting Christians until that miraculous day on the road to Damascus.

On that day, as Saul neared Damascus “great light from the sky” flashed around him, blinding him as he heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  He asked “Who are you sir?” and the voice replied “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”   The men traveling with him heard the voice but did not see anyone.  For three days Saul was unable to see.

He was led by the men to the house of Judas in Damascus where Ananias, who knew the evil Saul inflicted on Christians reluctantly visited him laying hands on him and restoring his sight.  For in a vision the Lord said to Ananias, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”

Antonin Sertillanges, a Dominican monk, is quoted as saying “Conversion means a willingness to see the truth of things and conform one’s conduct to it” and that is exactly what happened to Paul.  From that day forward, he proclaimed the good news presenting “everyone perfect in Christ” that we were saved by Him.  No fall is so deep that the power of Divine Grace cannot descend to it, lifting one up changing the way you see everything.

How many Catholics living in this world, have drifted in thought or action, to a place of self-righteousness or indifference, eventually away from the church?  Many of us have drifted away at one time or another.  Do you know someone who doesn’t attend Mass or someone who is looking for a way back to the church?   Do you know someone waiting for a “sign” that will touch their hearts?

Why don’t you take a moment and talk to them about “Catholics Come Home”, a compassionate message of Christ’s love for us, inspiring, educating and welcoming inactive Catholics back home?

Feast of the Epiphany

The Feast of the Epiphany

On January 6th, twelve days after Christmas, we as Catholics, celebrate the Epiphany.  The Epiphany is the day the Magi came to give Jesus the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Though it is a common misconception that there were only three wise men, it is uncertain how many there truly were.  The biblical Magi represented the non-Jews of the time period that came to appreciate Jesus and give Him gifts.  The Epiphany symbolizes the public acceptance of Jesus as the Savior, Son of God, and the Messiah.

The Wise Men traveled through the desert to pay homage to the Prince of Peace, the King of the world.  They were guided by a star to the place of Jesus’ birth.  Pope Benedict said during a celebration of the Epiphany at the Vatican that, “the Epiphany is a mystery of light, symbolically suggested by the star that guided the Magi on their journey.  The true source of light, however, the ‘sun that rises from on high’, is Christ.”

The Magi were guided by the true light of Christ and the light that brought promise.  The celebration of the Epiphany helps us remember to publicly accept Jesus because wise men did so, they walked the desert to accept the Lord, even though King Herod pursued them in order to kill the young King.  They show us that although it is sometimes hard to show others our love for Christ, it is always the right thing.

The Epiphany falls on a Friday this year and is observed on Sunday, January 8, 2012.

St. Leo the Great

St. Leo The Great

Feast Day – November 10

Pope Leo the Great was born in Rome and was ordained archdeacon of the Roman Catholic Church by St. Celestine.  Under the rule of Pope Sixtus III, Leo had a large part in the governing of the Church. Upon the death of Sixtus III, Leo was chosen as Pope, being consecrated on St. Michael’s day in 440.

Pope Leo began his reign during a time of great trials for the Church.  The Eastern monks and bishops followed the heresy promoted by the Byzantine court.  Namely, that Jesus was not both fully human and fully divine, but was divine in a human “shell.”   After three years of effort, Pope Leo brought about the condemnation of this heresy by the Council of Chalcedon, with all signing his tome exclaiming, “Peter has spoken by Leo.”

Pope Leo’s next challenge was dealing with Attila and his Huns who were burning cities in Italy on a march to Rome.  Leo went out bravely to meet Attila and amazingly turned him back.  His chiefs were told when they asked why they were turning back, that he, Atilla, had seen the personages of Saints Peter and Paul standing behind Pope Leo.  Atilla was so impressed, he withdrew. Two years later the Vandals did take the city but, again, Pope Leo saved the city from complete destruction.

Pope Leo died in A. D. 461, after guiding Christ’s Church for twenty years.  This week, think about what makes a person “Great.”  Would you be worthy of the name?

All Saints Day and 20th Century Saints

All Saints Day and 20th Century Saints

Canonizations during the term of Pope John Paul II have provided modern examples of the people we would like to be.  Saints have taught us through example that people can be heroic and have courage in sharing the light of God.  Few of us will be called to die for our faith, and 20th-century saints show us how to be a model of our Catholic Faith.

Maximilian Kolbe, who Pope John Paul II declared “The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century”, is one noted saint.  He shows us the possibility of finding God in troubled times and using Christian charity and selfless love to better this world.  A Franciscan priest during World War II, Kolbe sheltered refugees, including 2,000 Jews.  He was arrested and sent to Auschwitz.  In July 1941, a man in Kolbe’s quarters escaped.  As punishment, ten men were chosen to go to the imprisonment block to be starved.  Kolbe was not one of them, but on being chosen one man yelled, “My wife, my kids!” and Kolbe took his position.  In the starvation cell, Kolbe celebrated mass every day and gave communion to the prisoners.  He kept the spirits of others up and as the last one remaining, he was killed with an injection of carbolic acid.  Despite his tragic death St. Maximilian Kolbe shows us that by keeping up our faith we can touch the lives of those around us.

Gemma Galgani of Italy was the fifth of eight children.  When she was young, her mother and four siblings all died from tuberculosis.  Gemma studied to become a nun but was turned down due to her poor health.  At the age of twenty, Gemma contracted spinal meningitis but was miraculously healed.  After the death of her father, she was left in charge of her remaining siblings and even through these hardships, she was most frequently seen praying for those in need.  When she contracted tuberculosis she claimed she was being spoken to by guardian angels, Mary, and Jesus.  Even though some blamed her illness for these “visions”, St. Gemma Galgani still kept her faith and shared it with others.

Most people in our society are not faced with death because of their faith, but with finding faith and keeping faith through hard times, like Maximilian and Gemma.  When faced with illness or hardship, look to our 20th Century Saints for example and make a saintly choice of your own.

Taste of the Americas

Taste of the Americas

A Celebration of Community

 Taste of the Americas, an event at Transfiguration Catholic Church, has become invaluable to the Hispanic community.  This festival not only brings us authentic meals from many countries of Latin America but gathers many cultures under the same roof.   It exposes culture and tradition from countries like Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Mexico as well as the United States.   This integration between the communities joined together by God, becomes one and diversities do not exist.  Unity, compassion, and tolerance are proclaimed by all.  It’s at the table of the Lord where everyone is nourished and fed not only physically but spiritually.  The essence of the diversity among His people is where God is glorified.  All who participate, unite as the body of Christ.

At the table of the Lord is where everyone brings their talents, culture, and charity towards one another.  A person or group of people feature their talents to express a little of the home they carry in their hearts.  Their charitable actions help the community reach its plenitude by all who open their hearts and become part of such a wonderful event.  The wisdom of tradition is remembered and it becomes alive.  The old and the new complement each other and grow in wholeness.

It reminds us that we are all sons and daughters of God, made in His image, with the same love.  It reminds us to celebrate the important values of our being.  It lets us stay in the moment and just be with one another.  It brings the community to live the faith that we all proclaim and the love shared all; the love that God pours into each heart.

What a joyful way to celebrate and be part of another country without leaving your community.

The History of the Rosary

October 8/9

The History of the Rosary

Early in the church, monks as part of their daily rule of life prayed the 150 Psalms and later divided them into 3 groups of 50 psalms, The Psalter.  Over a period of time, the monks prayed 150 Our Fathers, The Lord’s Prayer, instead of the Psalms with meditations, referred to as The Little Psalter.  It evolved again and was replaced with 150 Aves, the greeting from Elizabeth to Mary, which is the first half of the Hail Mary and 15 Our Fathers.  The Council of Trent in 1563 gave us the second half of the Hail Mary, the Holy Mary prayer.  The Apostles’ Creed followed along shortly thereafter.

The string of beads replaced stones used in the early years by the monks to count the prayers.

It is said that Mary, appeared to Saint Dominic in 1208 and told him to preach the Psalter.  The Carthusian monks proposed changes over the years that followed promoting the Marian Psalter, which became known as the “Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.  It consisted of 15 meditations or Mysteries in the life of Christ and His Blessed Mother with one Our Father and 5 Hail Mary’s prayed for each meditation.   The Mysteries were divided into 3 groups the Joyful, Glorious and Sorrowful consisting of 5 meditations in each group.

The Feast of the Holy Rosary was established by Pope Pius V on the anniversary of the naval victory of the Christian fleet at Lepanto on October 7, 1571, attributed to Mary’s help invoked through the Rosary.

Pope Leo XIII (1878 -1903) wrote 12 encyclicals on the Rosary leading to a resurgence of its devotion.  He attested that through the Rosary, Mary intercedes on behalf of the faithful to her Son, Jesus.

Mary appeared to three children at Fatima in 1917 and referred to herself as the Lady of the Rosary with a message for the world to pray the Rosary daily for peace.  Mary taught the children the Fatima Prayer prayed after the Glory Be at the end of each of the 15 meditations.

The Luminous Mysteries were added in 2002 by Pope John Paul II in his apostolic letter, The Rosary of the Virgin Mary.

There are many prayer traditions attached to the Rosary.  In the United States, the Rosary begins with the Apostles Creed, however, in some parts of the world it opens with Psalm 70.   Some end the Rosary with the Hail Holy Queen prayer while others add the St. Michael the Archangel prayer or the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

October is the month of the Rosary.   Why not take a moment and stop in after the 7 p.m. Mass on Wednesdays in the chapel and join the Marian Hour group in the prayerful reflection and meditation of the life of Christ through the blessed Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary.

Brothers in Christ

September 24/25

Brothers in Christ

This past weekend, over 100 men of the parish gathered together for a weekend retreat and breakfast event here on the Transfiguration campus.  It was a wonderful reflection of the desire we all have to grow in our relationship with Christ and the spiritual support that exists all around us to help us do so.

The commitment to move towards greater intimacy with Jesus, to experience a greater fullness of life, must come from within through the graces of the Holy Spirit.  We know that it is through faith, hope, and love that we open ourselves to the will of God and his loving embrace.

We know it, so now we must have the courage to stand in our faith and be willing to live it!

Thank you to all of the speakers, supporters, and volunteers that put forth the effort to pull so many of the men of the parish together to experience this warmth of brotherhood.

And thanks be to God for providing the opportunities for us to see and love Him every day through those around us.

Patron Saints

October 1/2

Patron Saints

Have you ever, “said a prayer to St. Anthony” to help find lost objects, or to St. Jude before an important test?

Catholics take a broad view of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, seeing ourselves as part of the Mystical Body of Christ, allied strongly with all the baptized who have come before us and relying on them for intercession and example. At Baptism and at Confirmation we are given or choose saints’ names which traditionally confer a special relationship between us and a particular saint, some times called a patron saint that we look to for guidance and intercession.

Some Catholics choose as their patron their name saints or the saint on whose feast day they were born.  Some Catholics choose saints who have the same profession or interest such as Thomas More for lawyers and legislators, Peter for fishermen, or Isadore for farmers. Some choose saints who overcame a particular physical handicap or character flaw, like Thomas Aquinas who fought a violent temper.

The month of October offers many saints like Therese of Liseux (Oct 1) and Francis of Assisi (Oct 4). It ends with the feast of All Saints (Nov. 1). This month why not research a saint who appeals to you. You will find that creating a link to someone who walked the same ground and struggled with life’s problems and still found time to be holy will inspire you and give you comfort.

After all, you did find those missing keys, didn’t you? Thanks. St. Anthony.

St. Frances Cabrini

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (Mother Cabrini)

Feast Day – November 13

Frances Xavier Cabrini was the first American citizen to be canonized.  Born in 1850 in Lombardy, Italy, she was devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and wanted to become a nun but was turned down by religious orders because of her frail health.

In 1868, Frances became a teacher and eventually the director of the House of Providence, an orphanage for girls in Codogno, Italy.  She still had a fervent desire to become a nun.  Frances and five young women, under her direction, finally took their vows in 1877.

In 1880, she founded the Institute of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and became known as Mother Cabrini.  Instead of beginning her missionary work in China as she wanted to, she went to New York at the request of Pope Leo XIII to minister to the poor children and the Italian immigrants. Caring for the sick was not part of her mission, but they needed hospitals, so Mother Cabrini and her missionary sisters successfully opened hospitals in New York, Chicago and Seattle.

Mother Cabrini died of malaria at the age of 67.  She had established 67 missions for ministering to the poor, the uneducated, and the sick in the United States, Europe, and Latin America.

Pope Pius XII said of Mother Cabrini at her canonization, “Although her constitution was very frail, her spirit was endowed with such singular strength that, knowing the will of God in her regard, she permitted nothing to impede her from accomplishing what seemed beyond the strength of a woman.”

As Advent approaches, take a moment to consider how you may reach out and touch the lives of those less fortunate.

Source:  Saint of the Day &