" V. Gate of Heaven. R. Pray for us.": Saturday, August 31, 2019


J.M.J.



When I entered the seminary on August 24, 1984, one of the first seminarians I met was Peter. From Chicago but studying for one of the dioceses in Minnesota, Peter was generous and helpful. We recited the Holy Rosary together. More than once, we walked along the highway to an ice cream parlor a few blocks away. We discussed many things and laughed a lot. He even told me that his grandmother came to the United States on a ship from Italy with Mother Cabrini.

Peter was serious about spiritual matters. And in a short time after our friendship began, he introduced me to the “Total Consecration” Ad Iesum Per Mariam—“To Jesus through Mary”—advocated by Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort.

With a copy of A Treatise on True Devotion to Mary by Saint Louis Marie along with a slender book that offered recommended prayers and readings for the thirty-three days period of preparation, I started to ponder just what is this way of going to Christ through the Ever-Virgin.

Thirty-five years later, I understand better that what this inspiring missionary proposed requires a lifetime of continual effort. To know, love and serve Jesus Christ via the mediation of Mary is an awesome privilege—and a sacred responsibility.

This encounter with a revered method of drawing closer to the Son through His Mother remains a significant event in my life. In fact, it was pivotal. It opened an inviting horizon for me, and it taught me how Saint John Paul II himself related to the King and the Queen of the Universe.

That was not my initial contact with Our Blessed Mother. At home, we had a large painting of “Our Lady of the Grapes” in the dining room. My parents, five siblings and I honored Mary every evening during our night prayers with a decade of the Holy Rosary. One of my own sisters is named “Mary.” The Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary were our teachers in our parish’s school. Mary was all around us, and we were glad. 

Our Lady’s importance was reaffirmed for me when I, then as a priest, was sent by my Bishop to Rome to study Mariology. Now, I contemplated in-depth the Marian truths that before I knew experientially. What a treasure to have whole semesters dedicated to investigating the Divine Maternity, the Perpetual Virginity, the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, not to mention other facets of the Marian mystery!

And, as if that were not enough, my current assignment allows me to work in the diocesan Office of the Marian Apostolate, encouraging the veneration of Mary and noting how she is present in the hearts of the Faithful.

The day-to-day interaction with my Spiritual Mother, however, is “where it’s at.” No amount of books, classes, presentations or pilgrimages can substitute for the consistent, needed receptivity to the love of Christ that Our Lady mystically models for me. She is the best human template of charity and mercy that I possess.

What more magnificent gift can I give to Our Lady other than my sincere conformity to Jesus Christ the Great High Priest? This is her desire. And, despite my weakness, I know that it must be mine, too.

That spirited, zealous Peter of decades ago? He was eventually ordained in another diocese in the Midwest. His death only a few years after his ordination was tragic, shrouded by uncertain circumstances. I will never forgot Father Peter’s kindness in ushering me into a fresh manner of venerating Our Lady. May his soul rest in peace. 


A Model Disciple and Priest: Memorial of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Monday, August 26, 2019


J.M.J.


I have begun to read, The Radiance of Christ: The Priesthood of Monsignor Kenneth W. Roeltgen (Meadville, Pennsylvania: Christian Faith Publishing, Inc., 2019, Paperback, 146 pages, $19.95) by Margaret Ann Fiore.

This looks to be a very inspiring book about a priest who loved very much the Most Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady, the Mother of Priests. 

Our Blessed Lady, Venerable Fulton Sheen and Islam: Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Thursday, August 22, 2019


J.M.J.




In The Worlds First Love (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1952), Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, who is soon to be beatified, dedicated Chapter 17 to “Mary and the Moslems.” His insightful remarks seem apropos to our generation as we seek to understand better Islam and its adherents.

Bishop Sheen began by offering a snapshot of Islam. “Islam is the only great post-Christian religion of the world. Because it had its origin in the seventh century under Mohammed, it was possible to unite within it some elements of Christianity and of Judaism, along with particular customs of Arabia. Islam takes the doctrine of the unity of God, His Majesty and His Creative Power, and uses it, in part, as a basis for the repudiation of Christ, the Son of God. Misunderstanding the notion of the Trinity, Mohammed made Christ a prophet, announcing Him, just as, to Christians, Isaiah and John the Baptist are prophets announcing Christ.” (page 204)

As is well known, the Koran speaks of Our Lady. “First of all, the Koran believes in her Immaculate Conception and, also, in her Virgin Birth. The third chapter of the Koran places the history of Mary’s family in a genealogy which goes back through Abraham, Noah, and Adam. When one compares the Koran’s description of the Birth of Mary with the apocryphal Gospel of the Birth of Mary, one is tempted to believe that Mohammed very much depended upon the latter. Both books describe the old age and the definite sterility of the mother of Mary. When, however, she conceives, the mother of Mary is made to say in the Koran: ‘O Lord, I vow and I consecrate to you what is already within me. Accept it from me.’” (page 206)

Bishop Sheen offered an explanation as to the importance of Our Lady of Fatima and her connection to Islam. “Since nothing ever happens out of Heaven except with a finesse of all details, I believe that the Blessed Virgin chose to be known as ‘Our Lady of Fatima’ as a pledge and a sign of hope to the Moslem people, and as an assurance that they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her Divine Son, too. Evidence to support these views is found in the historical fact that the Moslems occupied Portugal for centuries. At the time when they were finally driven out, the last Moslem chief had a beautiful daughter by the name of Fatima. A Catholic boy fell in love with her, and for him she not only stayed behind when the Moslems left, but even embraced the faith. The young husband was so much in love with her that he changed the name of the town where he lived to Fatima. Thus, the very place where Our Lady appeared in 1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed.” (page 207)

When the Pilgrim Virgin Statue arrived in Africa and India, something unexpected occurred. “Moslems attended the Church services in honor of Our Lady; they allowed religious processions and even prayers before their mosques; and in Mozambique the Moslems, who were unconverted, began to be Christian as soon as the Statue of Our Lady of Fatima was erected.” (page 208)

Bishop Sheen made a prediction. “Missionaries in the future will, more and more, see that their apostolate among the Moslems will be successful in the measure that they preach Our Lady of Fatima. Mary is the advent of Christ, bringing Christ to the people before Christ Himself is born. In any apologetic endeavor, it is always best to start with that which people already accept. Because the Moslems have a devotion to Mary, our missionaries should be satisfied merely to expand and to develop that devotion, with the full realization that Our Blessed Lady will carry the Moslems the rest of the way to her Divine Son. She is forever a ‘traitor’ in the sense that she will not accept any devotion for herself, but will always bring anyone who is devoted to her to her Divine Son. As those who lose devotion to her lose belief in the Divinity of Christ, so those who intensify devotion to her gradually acquire that belief.” (ibid.)

The onetime National Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith concluded his comments. “Many of our great missionaries in Africa have already broken down the bitter hatred and prejudices of the Moslems against the Christians through their acts of charity, their schools and hospitals. It now remains to use another approach, namely, that of taking the forty-first chapter of the Koran and showing them that it was taken out of the Gospel of Luke, that Mary could not be, even in their own eyes, the most blessed of all the women of Heaven if she had not also borne One Who was the Saviour of the world. If Judith and Esther of the Old Testament were prefigures of Mary, then it may very well be that Fatima herself was a postfigure of Mary! The Moslems should be prepared to acknowledge that, if Fatima must give way in honor to the Blessed Mother, it is because she is different from all the other mothers of the world and that without Christ she would be nothing.” (pages 208-209)

The Holiness of Our Lady Assumed Body and Soul into Heaven Allures: Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 2019


J.M.J.



Our Blessed Lady leads us infallibly to her Divine Son. Her sanctity attracts us. We want to become holier when we encounter Mary.

Ponder those whose names are listed below. Each has a connection to the United States of America, and each is being considered for Canonization.

Five are "Blessed," while six are "Venerable," and seventeen are the "Servant of God."


BLESSED (5)


1. Father Solanus Casey (1870-1959) . . . born in Wisconsin . . . Franciscan Capuchin . . . priest simplex, that is, he did not enjoy faculties to hear Confessions . . . encouraged thousands of those who came to him for prayer . . . Spiritual Director . . . loved the violin . . . Feast Day: July 30th

2. Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich (1901-1927) . . . born in New Jersey . . . Ruthenian Catholic . . .  Religious . . . Sister of Charity . . . mystic . . . as a novice, she anonymously wrote the spiritual conferences for the professed Sisters . . . her brother was a priest . . . died at age twenty-six . . . Feast Day: May 8th

3. Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodríguez Santiago (1918-1963) . . . born in Puerto Rico . . . layman . . . chronically ill from ulcerative colitis . . . excellent student whose health prevented him from continuing in school . . . loved the Sacred Liturgy, especially the Easter Vigil of the night of Holy Saturday, exclaiming, Vivimos para esa noche (“We live for that night”) . . . played the organ during Mass . . . translated some liturgical texts into Spanish . . . practiced poverty, owning only one pair of shoes . . . died at age forty-four from rectal cancer . . . the first Caribbean-born layman to be beatified . . . Feast Day: July 13th/May 4th

4. Father Stanley Rother (1935-1981) . . . born in Oklahoma . . . attended Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary . . . diocesan priest who had a mission in Guatemala and was martyred there . . . a relative of his lives in our Diocese . . . Feast Day: July 28th

5. Father Francis Xavier Seelos (1819-1867) . . . born in Germany . . . Religious . . . Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer . . . ordained a priest in Baltimore . . . lived in Pittsburgh with Saint John Neumann . . . proposed as a candidate for the Office of Bishop but was excused by Pope Blessed Pius IX . . . having cared for the victims of yellow fever, he contracted the disease and died from it at age forty-eight . . . Feast Day: October 5th

VENERABLE (6)


1. Bishop Frederic Baraga (1797-1868) . . . born in Slovenia . . . ordained a priest in Ljubljana . . . missionary to the United States . . . spoke eight languages fluently . . . grammarian of a Native American language, Ojibway . . . the first Bishop of Marquette, Michigan

2. Bishop Alphonse Gallegos (1931-1991) . . . born in New Mexico . . . Religious . . . Order of Augustinian Recollects . . . Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento . . . ministered to street gangs . . . “The Bishop of the Barrios” . . . struck by a car and killed  

3. Mother Henriette Díaz DeLille (1813-1862) . . . born in Louisiana . . . Creole . . . a Religious Foundress . . . Sisters of the Holy Family . . . died at age forty-nine in New Orleans during the Civil War when the city was occupied by the Union Army

4. Father Patrick Peyton (1909-1992) . . . born in Ireland . . . lived in the United States for many years . . . Congregation of the Holy Cross . . . promoted the recitation of the Most Holy Rosary . . . “The Family that prays together, stays together” . . . confidant of many in Hollywood

5. Archbishop Fulton Sheen (1895-1979) . . . born in Illinois . . . attended Saint Paul Seminary . . . well-known via books, radio and television . . . encouraged priests to make the daily “Hour Hour” before the Most Blessed Sacrament . . . may be beatified before the end of 2019

6. Pierre Toussaint (1766-1853) . . . born in Haiti . . . lived in New York City . . . a former slave . . . husband to a former slave whose freedom he purchased as well as a father . . . hairdresser . . . attended daily Mass for sixty-six years in Saint Peter Church, New York . . . philanthropist

THE SERVANT OF GOD (19)


1. Sister Thea Bowman (1937-1990) . . . born in Mississippi . . . African-American . . . convert from Methodism . . . Religious . . . Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration . . . obtained the Ph.D. in English . . . advocated on behalf of Catholic African-Americans

2. Father Vincent Capodanno (1929-1967) . . . born in New York . . . Maryknoll Missionary . . . U.S. Navy Chaplain assigned to a Marine Corps unit . . . killed in action in Vietnam . . . Medal of Honor and Purple Heart recipient . . . “The Grunt Padre”

3. Father Walter Ciszek (1904-1984) . . . born in Pennsylvania . . . Society of Jesus . . . Missionary . . . imprisoned in the Soviet Union for almost twenty-three years . . . remembered for With God in Russia (1964) and He Leadeth Me (1973)

4. Terence Cardinal Cooke (1921-1983) . . . born in New York . . . Archbishop of New York . . . founded “Courage,” an outreach to men and women with same-sex attraction and promoted the pro-life cause . . . suffered heroically with leukemia

5. Dorothy Day (1897-1980) . . . born in New York . . . wife and mother . . . a “freethinker” who converted to the Church . . . with Peter Maurin founded the Catholic Worker Movement . . . advocated “distributism” as a way between capitalism and socialism

6. Catherine de Heuck Doherty (1896-1985) . . . born in Russia . . . founded “Madonna House” in Ontario . . . cheerfully served the poor . . . friend of Bishop Dudley’s . . . related to the de Heuck Family from Aberdeen

7. Black Elk (1863-1950) . . . (Heȟáka Sápa) . . . born in Montana . . .  second cousin of Crazy Horse’s . . . convert to the Church . . . catechist . . . buried in Saint Agnes Cemetery in Manderson, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Reservation . . . the Cause for Canonization was begun in the Diocese of Rapid City

8. Cora Evans (1904-1957) . . . born in Utah . . . wife and mother . . . convert from Mormonism . . . mystic

9. Monsignor Edward Flanagan (1886-1948) . . . born in Ireland . . . priest in the United States . . . founded “Boys Town” . . . worked with young men in moral danger and those considered “troublemakers” . . . the subject of a famous Hollywood movie

10. Father Demetrius Augustine Gallizten (1770-1840) . . . born in the Netherlands . . . from an aristocratic family . . . traveled throughout the United States . . . was ordained by Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore . . . honored as “The Apostle to the Alleghenies” 

11. Father John Hardon (1914-2000) . . . born in Pennsylvania . . . Society of Jesus . . . theologian . . . spoke at the Fatima Family Shrine in Alexandria during several summers during the 1990s . . . prolific author . . . his The Catholic Catechism (1975) and Modern Catholic Dictionary (1980) informed many

12. Mother Mary Alphonsa Hawthorne Lathrop (1851-1920) . . . born in Massachusetts . . . the daughter of American author, Nathaniel Hawthorne . . . wife and later widow . . . convert . . . the Foundress of the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne

13. Father Emil Kapaun (1916-1951) . . .  born in Kansas . . . a priest of the Diocese of Wichita . . . U. S. Army Chaplain during World War II and the Korean War . . . died under hostile circumstances in Korea . . . posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart . . . had a relative in our Diocese


14. Father Joseph Kentenich (1885-1968) . . . born in Germany . . . Religious . . . Pallottine Fathers . . . Priest . . . founded the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary . . . because of his opposition to Nazism, he was arrested by the Gestapo, eventually interred at Dachau . . . destined to die in the gas chamber but rescued by a S.S. guard . . . founded more branches of Schoenstatt . . . became the parish priest of German speakers in Milwaukee . . . died in Germany on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows


15. Father Eusebio Kino (1645-1711) . . . born in Italy . . . Religious . . . Society of Jesus . . . Priest . . . missionary to New Spain . . . served in Mexico, Baja, California and present-day Arizona . . . he established 24 missions

16. Mother Mary Lange (1784-1882) . . . born in Cuba in a Haitian community . . . immigrated to the United States . . . Religious and Foundress . . . a member of the first Religious Order in the United States composed of women African descent, the Oblate Sisters of Providence . . . worked to provide girls with a Catholic education

17. Bishop Vincent McCauley (1906-1982) . . . born in Iowa . . . studied at Creighton and Notre Dame . . . Religious . . . Congregation of the Holy Cross . . . Missionary to peoples of Asia and Africa . . . Bishop in Uganda

18. Sister Blandina Segale (1850-1941) . . . born in Italy . . . settled with her family in Cincinnati at age four . . . Religious and Missionary . . . Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati . . . worked for many years in New Mexico

19. Father Augustus Tolton (1854-1897) . . . born in Missouri . . . a former slave . . . the first Catholic priest in the United States known to be black when he was ordained in Rome in 1886 . . . responsible for the development and construction of Saint Monica Church on Chicago’s South Side . . . died at age forty-three in Chicago during the heat wave of 1897

Our Blessed Lady's Living Faith: Thursday, February 28, 2019


J.M.J.



Our Blessed Mother possessed a “living faith,” meaning that she believed actively all the truths revealed by God on the basis of His authority. If He revealed them, then that was enough for Our Lady.

Mary’s was a dynamic faith. The profundity and fervor of that faith intensified with each passing day.

Passionist Father Giacomo Pesce hailed the Ever-Virgin Mother of God as a “model of faith.” Mary possessed a faith that was heroic, prudent and fruitful. And her faith was proven. Just as silver is tried in the fire and gold in the furnace, and the Lord tests hearts (see Proverbs 17:3), so the faith of Our Lady was tried and shown to be splendid!

Mary believed deep within her Immaculate Heart that her Son Jesus was the Creator of the world even when He was weak and suffering in Bethlehem’s rustic cave. She knew Him to be the King of Kings while she and her chaste spouse, Saint Joseph, fled with the Child to Egypt in order to escape the treacherous grasp of King Herod. She was convinced that He was the Omnipotent One despite His neediness and subjection to others. She acknowledged Him to be the “Joy of Paradise” notwithstanding His infant tears. She admitted that He was the wisdom and the strength of God although He grew in age, wisdom and grace before God and men. She knew that He had descended from Heaven in order to conquer Satan and to redeem humanity—never mind His exhausting work as a carpenter at the side of His foster-father.

Why did Jesus, who miraculously multiplied the bread and fish, not provide the Holy Family of Nazareth with a plethora of money? Why did Jesus, the true Messiah, stir up hatred and aversion against Himself? Why was Jesus the target of more spying than any murderer or thief? Why did the Father allow His Divine Son to be so mistreated? Why did the Father not permit the Sacred Divinity of His Son to be recognized? Why did the Father allow His Divine Son to take on the likeness of sinners even to His ignoble death on the Cross?

Father Pesce marveled at the incredible faith of Mary. “All these questions Our Lady heroically overcame. In all these terrible trials, the Virgin Mary repeated: ‘Behold the handmaiden of the Lord!’”

In capturing his own wonderment, Father Pesce names ours, too. “We admire the Madonna who did not vacillate during the most difficult hours; on the contrary, she became a very brilliant beacon for all Christians.”

As sons and daughters of God the Father, brothers and sisters of God the Son and temples of God the Holy Spirit, we have inherited the magnificent faith of Mary our Spiritual Mother. With the abundant grace provided by the Lord, Our Blessed Lady went forward in faith. We treasure her example and seek to imitate it.
We rightly conclude with a prayer offered by Father Pesce: “Virgin Mary, we believe all that God commands us to believe. Reinvigorate our faith. Increase it in such a way that we believe with all our hearts.” 

Mary, model of faith, pray for us!


A Worthy Companion Along the Path to Heaven: Memorial of Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother, Religious, Wednesday, February 27, 2019


J.M.J.

"I will attempt day by day to break my will into pieces. I want to do God's Holy Will, not my own!" This inspiring motto for daily living was expressed by Francesco Possenti (1838-1862), known in the religious life as "Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother." This youthful Saint, touched profoundly by the Holy Spirit, exemplified the burning desire to embrace the Lord's plans--regardless of the cost--rather than his own.
For various reasons but especially due to his remarkable abandonment to Divine Providence and to the care of his beloved Madonna, Saint Gabriel, whose Feast is today, is an excellent companion for us as we prepare for Ash Wednesday.
Francesco Possenti was born on March 1, 1838 in Assisi, Italy, one of thirteen children. His early life as a young adult was marked with a strong love for "the world": theatre and hunting were among his pursuits.
Having decided that the Lord had other designs for him, Francesco entered the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, commonly referred to as the "Passionists." He spent his days in prayer, sacrifice and contemplation of the Sacred Passion of Jesus and the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady. In time, Gabriel received Minor Orders in preparation for the Holy Priesthood.
Gabriel cultivated a tender affection for the Mother of God. He wrote:
"Love Mary! . . . She is lovable, faithful, constant. She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her. She comes quickly and opens her merciful Heart to you, embraces you and consoles and serves you. She will even be at hand to accompany you on the trip to eternity."
This religious died of tuberculosis in the Abruzzi region of Italy on February 27, 1862, just two days shy of his 24th birthday.
Many miracles were attributed to Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother after his death. In fact, the extraordinary Gemma Galgani (1878-1903), who one day would also be raised to the glories of the Altar, was healed and consoled by his intercession and even his mysterious presence in several visions.
On May 31, 1908, Pope Saint Pius X (1903-1914) beatified Gabriel. On May 13, 1920, Gabriel was canonized by Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922), who exhorted young men and women to pattern themselves after his sterling example. And in 1959, Pope Blessed John XXIII (1958-1963) named him the Principal Patron of the Abruzzi region.
Saint Gabriel's love for Jesus and Mary as well as his continual surrender to the Divine Will is a challenge to all of us who are preparing for the forty days of Lent, which abound in prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Our efforts are meant to make us, like Saint Gabriel, more conformed to the Crucified Christ Who laid down His life for each of us.
Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother, pray for us!