Tom and I have been friends since I was 12 years old. And when he decided to join the Catholic faith several years ago, both Cuppycake and I were honored to be asked by him to be his Godparents.
Many, many, many, (maybe not THAT many) years ago, when we first met, we’d go to the snack-shack together during the 7th inning stretch of the baseball games, of which Tom was the local high-school bat boy for. Tom loved the ice cream sandwiches and I always got the foot-long green-apple gum rope.
Instead of baseball, Tom and I now enjoy going to the movies together; even though we still have differing opinions on the snacks! Tom insists on the need for popcorn…even when we attend a morning matinee or he’s forgotten to wear his dentures, while I prefer to stick with red swedish fish or bit-o-honey’s.
I woke up this morning and began my usual routine.
Wash my face. Brush my teeth. Saunter downstairs for my morning Spark drink. Feed Helen. And then I begin morning prayer, where Helen often joins me with one of her many friends.
This is what I expect to do tomorrow too. And the next day. And the day after that.
Every once in awhile though there is a surprisetucked in there, something just a little ‘different’ that I’m not expecting. Like Cuppycake using the last of the toothpaste and I must search the linen closet for a fresh box. Or maybe I’ll chose a different flavor of Spark than my normal Pink Lemonade. Today I was surprised when I sat down to pray, as I opened my Breviary to recite Morning Prayer & discovered that today was the Feast of Saint Katherine Drexel! Immediately a smile stretched across wide enough to reach my heart and I was transported in mind & spirit to when I’d visited her in Philadelphia during my pilgrimage to see Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families!
The Catholic Church assigns one date out of the year for each and every canonized saint — known as the saint’s feast day. The saints are remembered on their individual feast days with special mention, prayers, and possibly a scripture reading.
A saint’s feast day can be the day of their actual death or a day assigned by the Church. Typically, the Church only assigns a day when the day of death is unknown or if several other saints are already assigned to that day. The number of canonized saints, however, is greater than the number of days in a calendar year. So two or more saints often share the same feast day. Because overlap often occurs, and the Church isn’t sure of the date of death of some saints, other calendar dates are sometimes chosen — such as the day that the saint was canonized. -What is a Catholic Saints Feast Day for Dummies.
Katharine Mary Drexel was born Catherine Mary Drexel in Philadelphia on November 26, 1858, the second child of investment banker Francis Anthony Drexel and Hannah Langstroth. Her family owned a considerable fortune. She was born into a tradition of philanthropy. Her uncle was the founder of Drexel University.
When her family traveled to the Western states in 1884, Katharine Drexel saw the plight and destitution of the native Americans. She wanted to do something specific to help. Thus began her lifelong personal and financial support of numerous missions and missionaries in the United States.
In January 1887, the sisters were received in a private audience by Pope Leo XIII. They asked him for missionaries to staff some Indian missions that they had been financing. To their surprise, the Pope suggested that Katharine become a missionary herself! Although she had already received marriage proposals, after consulting her spiritual director, Drexel decided to give herself to God, along with her inheritance, through service to American Indians and Afro-Americans.
She took the name Mother Katharine, and joined by thirteen other women, soon established a religious congregation, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. The order continues to pursue their original apostolate, working with African-Americans and Native Americans in 21 states and Haiti.
The process of canonization for Katharine was begun by John Cardinal Krol who officially introduced her Cause in Rome in December 1964. On January 26, 1987, Mother Katharine was declared Venerable. On October 1, 2000, in Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City, during the solemn celebration of Mass, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Mother Katharine Drexel, “Saint Katharine Drexel.”
And today I was delightfully surprised to be whisked back to my time spent at her National Shrine and the very blessed experience to have prayed in The Shrine area, which holds the entombed remains of Saint Katharine Drexel. During the World Meeting of Families the National Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel attracted more than 200 large busloads of people! Thousands visited the Motherhouse grounds, the Mission Center and Shrine. (Imagine how surprised the Sisters & Volunteers were when, at one point that Weekend, one bus was scheduled and SIX buses arrived instead and 50 persons poured out of each!)
The National Shrine of Saint Katharine Drexel & The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament’s Motherhouse.
Saint Katharine’s former student, Mary! She frequently volunteers at the Shrine now & was one of the over 200 volunteers wearing chartreuse shirts helping to be sure everything went smoothly! (Mary & her family were invited to the Vatican when Blessed Katharine was Canonized.)
I can only imagine how Sr. Patricia, Sr. Agnes, and Sr. Annette, all Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, must have been smiling today too! And oh what a joy it was to have prayed, even so far away, this same prayer with all of them too…
Ever-loving God, you called Saint Katharine Drexel to teach the message of the Gospel and to bring the life of the Eucharist to the African American and Native American peoples.
By her prayers and example, enable us to work for justice among the poor and the oppressed, and keep us undivided in love in the eucharistic community of your Church.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
hugs n’ blessings for all the surprises that life often brings us!
And it’s another Wednesday for Saint Maria Faustina KoWalska (what else,)
with a brief reflection on the Divine Mercy of God:
In Cracow-Pradnik, June 2, 1938, the Lord Jesus directed a young Polish Sister of Mercy on a three-day retreat. Faustina Kowalska painstakingly recorded Christ’s instruction in her diary that is a mystical manual on prayer and Divine Mercy. Having read the Diary I was mesmerized by the unique retreat that Christ gave on the subject of spiritual warfare.
Here are the secret whispers of Jesus to his little bride Faustina on how to protect herself from the attacks of the devil. These instructions became Faustina’s weapon in fighting the good fight.
I personally have gained great strength from them in my own battles. They have helped to clothe me in a coat of protective armor & have maintained peace in my heart in times of great temptation to retaliate in a way less pleasing to my God. I am grateful for the guidance His whispers have provided and seek fervently to follow them better. I pray you find a mighty protective message from them too and may they open wide the doors of Mercy that await for you.
Jesus began, “My daughter, I want to teach you about spiritual warfare”(1760). (The Lord’s words are in bold text; comments from Kathleen Beckman, President and co-founder of the Foundation of Prayer for Priests, follow.)
1.Never trust in yourself but abandon yourself totally to My will.
Trust is a spiritual weapon. Trust is part of the shield of faith that St. Paul mentions in chapter six of Ephesians: the armor of God. Abandonment to God’s will is an act of trust; faith in action dispels evil spirits.
2.In desolation, darkness and various doubts, have recourse to Me and to your spiritual director. He will always answer you in my name. In times of spiritual warfare, immediately pray to Jesus. Invoke His Holy Name that is feared in the netherworld. Bring darkness into the light by telling a spiritual director or confessor and follow his instruction.
3.Do not bargain with any temptation; lock yourself immediately in My Heart.
In the Garden of Eden, Eve bargained with the devil and lost. We have recourse to the refuge of the Sacred Heart. In running to Christ, we turn our backs on the demonic.
4.At the first opportunity, reveal the temptation to the confessor.
A good confession, a good confessor, and a good penitent are a recipe for victory over temptation and demonic oppression—without fail.
5.Put your self-love in the last place, so that it does not taint your deeds.
Self-love is natural but it should be ordered, free of pride. Humility defeats the devil that is perfect pride. Satan tempts us to disordered self-love to lead us into his pool of pride.
6.Bear with yourself with great patience.
Patience is a secret weapon that helps us to keep our peace of soul even in the great storms of life. Bearing with oneself is part of humility and trust. The devil tempts us to impatience, to turn against our selves so we become angry. See yourself from God’s view. He is infinitely patient.
7.Do not neglect interior mortifications.
Scripture teaches that some demons can only be evicted by prayer and fasting. Interior mortifications are weapons of warfare. They can be small sacrifices offered with great love. The power of sacrificial love evicts the enemy.
8.Always justify to yourself the opinions of your superiors and of your confessor.
Christ is speaking to St. Faustina who lives in a convent. But we all have people in authority over us. The devil aims to divide and conquer so humble obedience to authentic authority is a spiritual weapon.
9.Shun murmurs like a plague.
The tongue is a powerful vessel that can do great harm. Murmuring, gossiping, is never of God. The devil is a liar who stirs up false accusations and gossip that can kill a person’s reputation. Shun murmurs!
10.Let all act as they like; you are to act, as I want you to.
To mind one’s own business is key in spiritual warfare. The devil is a busybody attempting to drag everyone down. Please God and let the opinions of others go by the wayside.
11.Observe the rule as faithfully as you can.
Jesus is referring to the rule of a Religious Order here. Most of us have made some vow before God and Church and we should be faithful our promises—i.e. Marriage vows and baptismal vows. Satan tempts to infidelity, lawlessness and disobedience. Fidelity is a weapon for victory.
12.If someone causes you trouble, think what good you can do for the person who caused you to suffer.
Being a vessel of divine mercy is a weapon for good and for defeating evil. The devil is about hatred, rage, revenge, and unforgiveness. Others have hurt us all at some time. What good can we do in return? Returning a blessing breaks curses.
13.Do not pour out your feelings.
A talkative soul will more easily be attacked by the devil. Pour out your feelings to the Lord only. Remember, the good and evil spirits hear what you say aloud. Feelings are fleeting. Truth is the compass. Interior recollection is a spiritual armor.
14.*Be silent when you are rebuked.*
Most of us have been rebuked at some time. We have no control over that but we can control our response. The need to be right all the time can lead into demonic traps. God knows the truth. Let it go. Silence is a protection. The devil can use self-righteousness to trip us up also.
15.Do not ask everyone’s opinion, but only the opinion of your confessor; be as frank and simple as a child with him.
Simplicity of life can drive out demons. Honesty is a weapon to defeat Satan, the Liar. When we lie we put a foot in his camp and he will try to seduce us all the more.
16.Do not become discouraged by ingratitude.
No one likes to be taken for granted. But when we are met with ingratitude or insensitivity, the spirit of discouragement can weigh us down. Resist all discouragement for it is never of God. It is one of the devil’s most effective temptations. Gratitude in all things wins the day.
17.Do not examine with curiosity the roads down which I lead you.
The need to know, and curiosity about the future is a temptation that has led too many people into the backrooms of psychics, witches, etc. Choose to walk in faith. Decide to trust in God who leads you on the path to heaven. Resist the spirit of curiosity always.
18.When boredom and discouragement beat against your heart, run away from yourself and hide in My heart.
Jesus delivers the same message a second time. Now He refers to boredom. Earlier in the Diary he told St. Faustina that the devil most easily tempts idle souls. Beware of boredom, a spirit of lethargy, or acedia—the noonday devil. Idle souls are easy prey for demons. Be about the business of God.
19.Do not fear struggle; courage itself often intimidates temptations, and they dare not attack us.
Fear is the second most common tactic of the devil (pride is the first). Courage intimidates the devil—he will flee in the face of persevering courage that stands on Jesus, the rock. All people struggle, God is our provision.
20.Always fight with the deep conviction that I am with you. Jesus instructs a Sister in a convent to “fight” with conviction. She can do so because Christ accompanies her. Christians are called to fight with conviction against all demonic tactics. The devil tries to terrorize souls, demonic terrorism—resist! Invoke the Holy Sprit throughout the day.
21.Do not be guided by feeling, because it is not always under your control; but all merit lies in the will.
All merit lies in the will because love is an act of the will. We are completely free in Christ. We must make a choice, a decision for good or evil. What camp do we live in?
22.Always depend upon your superiors, even in the smallest things.
Christ is instructing a Religious here. But, we all have the Lord as our Superior. Dependence upon God is a weapon of spiritual warfare because we cannot win on our own. Proclaiming Christ’s victory over evil is part of intentional discipleship. Christ came to defeat death & evil. Proclaim Him!
23.I will not delude you with prospects of peace and consolations; on the contrary, prepare for great battles.
St. Faustina suffered physically and spiritually. She was prepared for great battles by the grace of God who upheld her. Christ clearly instructs us in scripture to be prepared for great battles, to put on God’s armor and resist the devil. Be vigilant and discerning always.
24.Know that you are on a great stage where all heaven and earth are watching you.
We are all on a great stage where heaven and earth are watching. What message is our life giving? What radiates from us—shades of light, darkness or grey? The way we live attracts more light or more darkness. If the devil does not succeed in pulling us into darkness, he tries to keep us in the category of the lukewarm, which is not pleasing to God.
25.Fight like a knight, so I can reward you. Do not be unduly fearful, because you are not alone.
The Lord’s words to St. Faustina can become our mantra: Fight like a knight! A knight for Christ knows well the cause that he fights for, the nobility of his mission, the King who he serves, and with blessed assuredness of the victory, he fights to the end, even at the cost of his life. If a young, uneducated, simple Polish nun, united to Christ, can fight like a knight, every Christian can do the same. Trust is victorious.
Quotes from the Diary of St. Faustina are copyrighted by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, Stockbridge, Mass.
these hugs n’ double-door blessings are for you…may you run across the threshold to receive them!