An American woman will soon be beatified yet I would venture to say that most people have not heard of her. Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, a Sister of Charity who died in 1927 at the age of 26, will be beatified on Saturday, October 4th at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, NJ. It is the first beatification to take place in the U.S.
In another first, Sr. Miriam Teresa is considered a contemplative ala St. Therese of Lisieux. Like the Little Flower, she will not be known by what she accomplished in a measurable, worldly sense but in the shining example of her life. A glimpse of this can be seen in the words she left behind and which were compiled after her death by her brother, Msgr. Charles Demjanovich. The National Catholic Register has a beautiful article on her life and legacy.
Teresa was born in 1901 in Bayonne, N.J., to Slovakian parents and raised in the Ruthenian Catholic (Byzantine) Church. She earned a bachelor’s degree (summa cum laude) in literature from the College of St. Elizabeth in New Jersey, in 1923 and then taught Latin and English. She entered the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth founded by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton but she never professed final vows.
In 1926, her spiritual director asked her to write conferences on religious life for the novitiate, quite something for such a young sister. These 26 conferences were published in a book after her death called Greater Perfection. The book can be purchased from the Sister of Charity’s website.
In fact, Fr. Bradley, who gave the conferences, posted a note on the Motherhouse bulletin board after her death stating that the conference he had been giving the sisters were actually written by Sister Miriam Teresa. Father Bradley was inspired to make this unusual request of so young a sister because “I believed that she enjoyed extraordinary lights, and I knew that she was living an exemplary life. I thought that, one day, she would be ranked among the saints of God, and I felt it was incumbent upon me to utilize whatever might contribute to an appreciation of her merits after her death.”
She professed vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in articulo mortis (at the point of death) while in the hospital. She died of peritonitis resulting from appendicitis surgery though she was also very weak from other ailments as well.
Union with God, then, is the spiritual height God calls everyone to achieve – any one, not only religious but any one, who chooses, who wills to seek this pearl of great price, who specializes in the traffic of eternal good, who says ‘yes’ constantly to God…The imitation of Christ in the lives of saints is always possible and compatible with every state of life. The saints did but one thing – the will of God. But they did it with all their might. We have only to do the same thing; and according to the degree of intensity with which we labor shall our sanctification progress. (Greater Perfection, pp. 264-266)
Today, on the great celebration of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, I would like to thank a special priest with a great devotion to the Archangel Raphael—Fr. Joe Whalen, MS. Father is a LaSalette Missionary who was ordained to the priesthood in 1989 at the age of 66. Father’s favorite motto is: It’s never too late to live! If you can imagine the odds he overcame to be ordained at that venerable age, you can believe he truly lives by that motto!
Father’s other favorite saying is: “God writes straight with crooked lines.” Father should know. He was once married and an alcoholic but managed through the grace of God to turn his entire life around. It is an amazing story. All glory goes to God, he believes, for the mercy shown to him by our loving Father.
I was fortunate to meet Father on a pilgrimage, and then accompanied him on a trip to LaSalette, Lourdes and Knock. He reminded me and my friend every day and in all circumstances to call on our Guardian angels for help. He has a deep devotion to St. Raphael, the Archangel whose name means “Medicine of God.”
Father had a St. Raphael healing ministry that continues on, even though he has retired. If you go to their website you can ask for St. Raphael oil and a prayer card and testimonials testifying to the wonder of St. Rapahel’s intercession. I can personally attest to the miracles that this Archangel still works in the world today. (Staph infection, out of control).
The main ministry of the LaSalette missionaries, of which Father is one, is to reconcile people to God. God bless Father for pouring out his life and strength for over 25 years to bring people to knowing the loving Savior. May God bless him all the remaining days of his long life. Help us to remember too that “It is never too late to live!”
PRAYER TO ST. RAPHAEL THE ARCHANGEL
Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners.I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the “medicine of God” I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the favor (here mention your special intention), and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Congratulations to Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. and Sr. Mary Andre, O.Praem., both Thomas Aquinas College graduates, on their first profession of vows as cloistered Norbertine Canonesses in Tehachapi, California. How happy they look!
The sisters read the following handwritten profession as their families and fellow sisters looked on:
“I renounce the world and I promise a conversion of my ways and life in community, especially in poverty, consecrated chastity, and obedience, according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of the Canonesses Regular of the Order of Premontre, to you Mother Prioress and to the sisters for three years.”
These sisters were just founded in 1996 by a group of lay women who wanted to become Norbertine canonesses. They have grown like crazy and now number 29!
The five fundamental elements of the Norbertine Order are:
- Solemn and Reverential Celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in Choir: Besides participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the sisters pray the seven canonical hours of the Divine Office together in their chapel.
- Devotion to the Holy Eucharist: St. Norbert was known as the Apostle of the Eucharist.
- Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary: They recite the rosary daily and promote consecration to the Blessed Mother.
- Spirit of Penance: Knowing the need for continual conversion and reparation, the sisters abstain from meat and keep midnight Vigils amidst the silence of the cloister.
- Zeal for Souls: With maternal love, the Canonesses embrace the whole world, desiring to bring Christ to spiritual birth in every heart.
We pray for them and beg the Lord for holy and persevering vocations to religious life!
Tags: Norbertine canonesses
Check out Radio Maria, a Catholic station committed to calling for conversion through radio programming. Tomorrow, Saturday, at 11:00am, Fr. James Kubicki, SJ, will be speaking with Sr. Beth Ann Dillon, DSMP, about her vocation, ministry and community (who care the for the mentally disabled). Both Father and Sister are on the Board of Directors of the IRL.
Begun in Italy in 1987, since 1991 Radio Maria has spread to the five continents, accomplishing the staggering number of 70 radio stations joined together in the World Family of Radio Maria. There are 18 channels in Africa alone. They are focusing their greatest effort in the African continent where another six projects are ready to start as soon as the resources are available. They do not accept advertising, preferring to rely on Divine Providence alone.
There are stations for English, Italian, German, Spanish and French-speaking people. In the US, the English stations are located in Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Mississippi, Texas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, as well as streaming online. Italian and Spanish stations are in NY and Chicago (I didn’t know that there were many Italian-speaking people in Chicago).
I was unfamiliar with Radio Maria until today when Fr. Kubicki mentioned that he had a regular hour-long show on the air every week (Saturdays at 11:00 A.M.), where he brings in guests and often speaks with sisters from different congregations.
How do they measure success? Not on audience share but on the number of souls who return to God.
Radio Maria must be an effective instrument of Mary and must try to be a living image of Mary. Our Lady must have a silent presence on the radio, in all broadcasts, even in those which are not specifically religious, including music. Her beauty, light, peace, joy, tenderness, faith, hope and love must be present. Every Radio Maria program must emanate the presence of Mary.
Friar Marius-Petru Bîlha, OFM Conv., recently recounted his experience of visiting the parish of St. Maximilian Kolbe in Tegucigalpa, Nicaragua. It is on the outskirts of the capital in a poor and highly dangerous area. The Conventual friars there also serve another 16 chapels which they reach weekly or monthly to administer the sacraments and minister to the people. Or, in this case, have the people minister to them!
Friar Marius-Petru says, “One can’t help noticing the contrast between the joy and happiness of the people and the outward ugliness of a society where violence, corruption and poverty are everyday news. I have often wondered; where does it all come from, this joy, the desire for goodness and the outlook for a hopeful future? It can only come from hearts filled with love of God, hearts which put all hope and trust in Him.”
The friars in the US have a close relationship with their brothers from Honduras. Since 1997, their St. Joseph University Parish in Terre Haute, Indiana, has been sending friars and parishioners to assist in various ways at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish. Many of the missions have offered much needed medical aid to the local community in Tegucigalpa.
The best evangelizers are the poor! “I return from Honduras evangelized by the poor, strengthened to live out my own gift of self with love, joy, simplicity, humility and generosity.”
If you think you might have a vocation to serve Christ in the missions and in the poor, visit the Conventual Franciscans’ website.
Tags: Conventual Franciscans
“A life spent seeking God is to many the most useless of occupations. But that, of course, is the great reason for the monk’s joy. The more he seeks God, the less he needs to know why he does so. The answer takes away the question. Joy is the fruit not of having, but of no longer needing to have.
—Fr. Benedict, O.S.B., Monastero di San Benedetto, Norcia, Italy
Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. Vatican approval for the celebration of a feast in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows was first granted to the Servites in 1667. Images of Our Lady of Sorrows are numerous, but two are special to me.
First, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, there is an image of Our Lady of Sorrows next to the actual rock of Calvary, a gift from the Queen of Portugal. Though it is a statue, Mary’s eyes seem filled with tears and a sword has pierced her breast. It is an image worthy of prolonged mediation.
The other image is from the apparition of Our Blessed Mother at LaSalette in France. She appeared to two shepherd children as a woman weeping. At the shrine high up in the Alps, a statue commemorates this event. Here, she is weeping because of the people who take the Lord’s name in vain and do not honor the Sabbath. She is still weeping today.
You can stay at the LaSalette Shrine in very comfortable accommodations, high above the tree line, at the site where the apparition took place. A miraculous spring still gushes forth. It is open even in the winter as I can personally attest to after making the drive up the icy mountain surrounded by 10 foot snow drifts! As you can see from the picture (above), you are clearly above the cloud line!
Our Lady of Sorrows,
your Son sent you from Heaven to warn us of the consequences of disobedience to the Father.
You call each of us to reform our lives. Help us to do so.
And at the end of our days, may we be united with Jesus forever in Heaven. Amen.
Many people are aware that the Franciscans are an ever-present presence in the Holy Land. The familiar Jerusalem cross above a door indicates that the Franciscans are the guardians of that particular (usually) holy site and all are welcome to come in.
But the Benedictines are also in the Holy Land at the Church of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes on the Sea of Galilee (Tabgha Priory), and at Abu Ghosh, where the Ark of the Covenant rested for twenty years. Fittingly, the Church in Abu Gosh is called Notre Dame de l’Arche d’Alliance (Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant). Mary can be seen at the top holding the infant Jesus in her arms.
The National Catholic Register recently interviewed Fr. Mark Sheridan, a Benedictine monk at Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. He will celebrate 50 years in the priesthood in February 2015. In the lengthy interview, Fr. Sheridan describes the complex and fascinating life of a Benedictine in Israel.
In 2012, he founded Friends of the Benedictines to “provide financial support the religious, charitable and educational activities of the canonically established monastic communities following the Rule of St. Benedict in the Holy Land.” Their life in Israel is precarious. They rely on pilgrims to support their activities including special assistance to those in need. In unsettled times like today, they suffer.
If you are fortunate to go to Israel and can get away on your own, I highly recommend checking out a stay at the Tabgha guesthouse on the Sea of Galilee. It is located in one of the quietest and most beautiful places in Israel. In the 1930′s, this site was excavated and lo and behold they discovered a 1000+ year old Byzantine Church. The ancient mosaics can still be seen in the new Church erected on the site. Also in Tabgha are the Benedictine Sisters from the Philippines from the Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of the Eucharistic King. They care for the many Filipino workers in Israel.
In the Rule of St. Benedict it says that all guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ (Chapter 53). The Benedictines in the Holy Land continue this practice, receiving pilgrims, Christian and non-Christian alike, showing them the door to Christ.
For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord. Therefore, whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. (Rom 14:18)
Stephen Timothy Cox was born in Walnut Creek, California on March 22nd, 1992 to Edwin and Nelda Cox. He is the second of two children. His sister, Sarah, is eight years his senior. The family home is in Concord, California, a community on the east side of San Francisco Bay.
Stephen grew up in a traditional Catholic Family. His school years were spent in public schools, homeschooling, a small Catholic Academy and Prep School and finally graduating from Concord Public High School in 2010. After high school Br. Stephen enrolled in Diablo Valley Community College where he graduated with an Associate of Arts Degree in 2013. During his time in College he spent a semester abroad in Italy.
Br. Stephen awakened to a religious vocation at age 14 after viewing the Movie Therese by Leonardo de Filippis. He was profoundly moved by the film and immediately began to investigate religious orders to apply to.
First, Br. Stephen investigated religious orders which were in some way connected with St. Therese and the movie that was so instrumental in his vocational awakening. He was turned away in several instances because of his youth and the fact that he had epilepsy. Finally, he was permitted to apply and was accepted at Mount Angel Abbey. He began the postulancy on March 20th, 2014. He was ecstatic when he found out that part of the movie Therese was filmed at the abbey.
Br. Stephen was a very pious young man. He arrived at the abbey with all the zeal and romantic idealism that are typical of the young. He saw himself very much in the model of St. Therese of Lisieux. His aspirations were simple. As he put it in his application in response to the question “Why do you want to be a monk of Mount Angel Abbey?” He wrote, “Because I want to be a saint and I think that this is the best place for me to do that.”
Br. Stephen was loved by his classmates and the monks of the Abbey. He was very diligent in extending hospitality to the visitors coming to the monastery to consider a call to the monastic life.
He had a refreshing simplicity about him, a sense of humor and smiled a lot. He was humble and zealous; a good monk. Br. Stephen died suddenly in an epileptic seizure the morning of September 4th, 2014.
Memorial services in the Abbey Church:
September 9, Tuesday, 12:00 – Reception of Body
September 9, Tuesday, 7:25pm – Vigils for the Dead
September 10, Wednesday, 10am – Mass of Christian Burial (followed by procession to the Abbey Cemetery)
Tags: Mount Angel Abbey