If all in Heaven want to praise what they see in Me, it is because they see that I have no value which is not received from You. Yes, I am Your Mother, but You are infinitely more to Me, because You, My most beloved Jesus, are the Almighty, who demonstrates in Me how far reaching your Omnipotence can be.
My adored Son, for all that You have done for Me, I, with the power that You give Me, now gather souls in order to give them to You. For all the attention which You have lavished on Me, I now go around the world in order to light up the fire of charity [love] for You, My heavenly Son, the joy of My eyes, beauty without equal. I shall never be able to equal You in love, but, nonetheless, You have given Me so much that many in the world treat Me with immense love.
Nicola D’Onofrio was born in Villamagna, Italy, on March 24,1943. His father, Giovanni, and his mom, Virginia, had their son baptized three days later in the parish church of St. Mary’s. Nicola’s dad was a successful farmer, but more importantly, he was a man of integrity, honesty, and wisdom, virtues fueled by a deep and abiding Catholic faith. His mom was known for her piety and kindness. Their character traits would be passed on to their son.
As Nicola began to grow the distinct qualities of kindness and peacefulness seemed to be part of whom he was. He made his First Holy Communion on the feast of Corpus Christi in June of 1950. Three years later, in October of 1953, he received his Confirmation. His teachers and even his classmates invariably spoke or wrote of Nicola’s hard work ethic, his kindness, and his availability to anyone who needed help. No matter the season, he never missed serving at Mass in the morning even though it was a two-mile walk to the church.
When Nicola was about 10 years old, a priest who belonged to the Order of St. Camillus aka Camillian invited him to consider entering the Camillian Studentate in Rome. Nicola immediately accepted the offer, but his parents felt he was not ready. His father wanted him to stay at home and take over the family farm, when he grew up. His two unmarried aunts tried to convince him that he was their only heir. However, Nicola, even at his young age, wanted desperately to become a priest.
During the following year, Nicola prayed and studied hard, and by the end of the year, his family gave him permission to enter the Camillian school. The school was for pre-teens to see if they truly displayed signs of having a real vocation. The date he entered the school was October 3, 1955. He was twelve years old, and it was the feast day of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. The Little Flower would later become his spiritual guide.,
During the next six years, Nicola’s character continually manifested a person who was humble, friendly, helpful, and above all, always smiling. He was constantly ready to help others, render words of comfort or understanding, and simply be there when and if needed.
Interestingly, Nicola learned after several years at school that his father had wanted to bring him back home. Nicola wrote him saying he was determined to become a priest in the Camillian Order no matter the cost. His dad humbly relented.
Nicola worked hard and applied himself to his studies, gaining the respect and admiration of his teachers. He wanted to be a worthy priest, and his work ethic evidenced that. On October 7, 1961, and after a period of intense training, Nicola took the vows of Poverty, Chastity, Obedience, and Charity towards the sick, especially those with contagious diseases. These vows were binding for three years. At the end of that period, he would take his final vows as a professed Castillian religious.
It was toward the end of 1962 that first symptoms of cancer that would kill him reared its ugly head. He did not understand the pain he was having, nor why he felt weak. Testing ensued, and following the advice of his superiors and the doctors, he was operated on at the urology department at St. Camillo Hospital in Rome. The diagnosis came back as positive for Tera-tosarcoma, better known as genital cancer, and it had already begun to metastasize. The date was July 30, 1963.
The pain and suffering increased dramatically over the next year. Weakend and in constant pain young Nicola never stopped praying and smiling. His Rosary was his constant companion. He had one desire; he wanted desperately to be able to take his final vows.
A request was sent to Pope Paul VI, and he granted Nicola a special dispensation allowing him to receive these vows. On May 28, 1964, Nicola D’Onofrio consecrated himself to God for life. It was his final act of love. On June 5, the feast of the Sacred Heart, Nicola, fully conscious and completely aware that he was dying, smilingly received the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
Nicola passed away on June 12, 1964. He was twenty-one years old, and he was surrounded by his family and Camillian brothers. A close family friend who had assisted Nicola throughout his illness remembered his last moments and said, “He seemed to me like Jesus Christ on the Cross, so calm and confident, with prayers on his lips, calling Our Lady ‘Mom.’
Pope Francis declared Nicola D’Onofrio a man of ‘heroic virtue’ and worhty of the title, Venerable,on July 5, 2013.
On May 16,1540, a baby boy was born to Martin and Elizabeth Baylon in the Kingdom of Aragon, located in Spain. This day also happened to be the Feast of Pentecost. Since the people in Spain refer to the Feast of Pentecost as the Pasch (Passover) of the Holy Ghost., his parents named their new son, Paschal.
Paschal’s parents were poor tenant farmers and, while only a young boy, Paschal began working in the fields and tending to the sheep. His regimen of work was seemingly never-ending, and he rarely took part in the activities of other kids his age. However, he possessed an obvious spirituality that was noticeable to others, and the other boys would come to him for advice and requests for him to settle their quarrels. Paschal had innate wisdom that was marveled at by all who came to know him.
The boy was unable to go to school, so he carried a notebook with him when he was working. He would ask other kids and even strangers going by to show him different letters and how to use them. He took his tidbits of information to heart and literally taught himself how to read. Soon his favorite books were those about his Lord.
When Paschal was working in the fields, he always fell to his knees when he heard the bells ringing during the Consecration. He was not only rich in piety and virtue, but he was also quite humble. It was just the way he was and people who knew him could not help but notice.
Paschal had always harbored a deep desire to enter religious life. Now and then he even wondered if that might ever happen. He had been offered spots in several richly endowed monasteries, and some prodded him to enter the priesthood. He had said, “, “I was born poor and am resolved to die in poverty and penance.”
His quest for simplicity came to fruition when, in 1564, he was able to enter the Franciscan Monastery of the Friars Minor at Monteforte. It was located in Orito, Spain and those who were there lived a no-frills, austere existence. It was what Paschal had hoped and prayed.for. The young man professed his vows at the monastery on February 2, 1565.
St. Paschal was frequently found before the tabernacle, at times even prostate with his arms outstretched. The humble brother, who had taught himself to read and had no known education possessed a deep knowledge and insight into the mysteries and teachings of the faith. Learned men marveled at him, and most figured he was guided by the Holy Spirit. He was so knowledgeable that during the height of the Calvinist heresies he was chosen to travel to France to defend the Church’s teaching on the Real Presence.
Once God even demonstrated the high esteem he had for Paschal by using the Blessed Sacrament. Paschal was out in the field tending his flock. When he heard the bells ringing, signaling the Consecration was taking place, he immediately knelt down. As he did the Blessed Sacrament appeared before him in the monstrance. Incredibly, it was held aloft by angels hovering above. Others saw this and were in awe. Word spread quickly about the miraculous Brother Paschal and his visions, which became more frequent.
Brother Paschal Baylon passed away on May 17, 1592. The custom of the time was for the deceased to be placed on an open stretcher in the church. This was done, and when the Consecrated Host was elevated at his requiem Mass, Paschal’s body sat up, and bowed to the Sacred Host. It remained like that and repeated the bow as the chalice with the Precious Blood was elevated. Then Paschal’s body lay back down. Witnesses to this miraculous event also testified that his eyes were open watching the priest during the entire Consecration.
Paschal Baylon was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1618, and he was canonized a saint by Pope Alexander VIII on October 16, 1690. He is the patron of all Eucharistic Congresses and Eucharistic Associations. Paintings of St. Paschal usually are shown with him in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament which was the greatest love in his life.
I am the oldest of five, and my mom died when I was fifteen. My brothers were eleven, six, and two. My sister was twelve. Grandma lived with us and decided that dad had killed her daughter. Mom, who had just turned forty, had died of leukemia; so grandma was wrong. But dad believed that we kids were better off with Grandma looking after us than him doing it. He was wrong too
Since there was no reasoning with her, dad became a constant patron of the local saloons. (We lived in the south Bronx, and there were plenty of “watering holes” for him to choose from). The truth of it was—he could not live with her as she berated him mercilessly every chance she had, including calling him a no-good murderer. Yup, in keeping away from her got to know a lot of people, and everyone loved him.
Two years after mom passed on, Grandma had a massive stroke. Some events are emblazoned into your memory forever as if they just happened and this was one of them. Dad was home, and he yelled to me, “Something’s wrong with your grandmother. She needs your help. I’m calling the priest.”
I heard the word “priest” and hurried into the kitchen. Grandma was standing with her head arched into her shoulder and her hands were clamped like vise-grips onto the cupboard door. I had to pry her fingers up one at a time, so I could drag her to her bed. My little brothers and sister were staring at this spectacle taking place. It was surely a surreal moment.
I managed to drag her convulsing and contorted body to her bed. Dad was home and called the rectory. She was squeezing my hands so tight I thought they might break. She was conscious and looking me in the eyes as I looked into hers. “Grandma, pray with me. Okay grandma, C’mon, pray with me.”
Together we prayed the “Our Father.” Barely able to speak, she made an Act of Contrition. She sort of relaxed a bit and her eyes closed. Father Quirk hurried in and gave her the Last Rites. She died soon after as I held her in my arms. The ambulance was too late.
Dad was like a lost pup. Monsignor Martin gave him some work at the church, and he drove a cab a few days a week. He was not living as much as he was existing. He drank too much and two years later he died of an acute attack of Pancreatitis. That was the moment we officially became orphans. I was old enough to work so things worked (pun intended) out—as best they could.
My brother Bobby passed away unexpectedly ten years ago, from a heart attack. He was 53. The baby of the family, Johnny, sad to say, took his own life when he was 55. He had alcohol and other drug issues during his life and any deep-seated issues he may have had were never resolved. He had just turned two when Mom died and (according to several medical health professionals) his suicide was the final result of the losses he suffered during his formative years.
My high-school sweetheart, Loretta, stuck by my side (I had three brothers I was taking care of) , and her family was not too happy about her and I being together. In hindsight, I understand why. But her loyalty and love for me was unshakable and we tied the knot several years later. We were married thirty-five wonderful years.
In 1978, she was expecting our fourth child and was in her sixth month of pregnancy when the baby was still-born. We named her Theresa Mary, and she is buried with my parents. Loretta became ill in 1991, was sick for a long time, and passed away from melanoma in 2003.
Four years later I married again. Her name was Marty (Martha), and we were both members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. In March of 2017, Marty passed away after fighting lymphoma and Alzheimer’s disease for six years. We had made it to our tenth anniversary.
So there you have it; our lives will all end in death. Many have reached out to God and embraced the faith He has gifted us. Many have rejected it. That is called a “choice.” For those who have embraced the God given gift of Faith they know that death is a NEW beginning. Having that gift to live with can help make living gratifying, no matter what the circumstances.
On December 12, 1916, in Madrid, Spain, the fourth child and only daughter of Manuel Ortiz Landazuri and Eulogia Fernandez-Heredia, was born. Since it was the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, her parents named her Maria Guadalupe, bestowing a great blessing on their child.
The first truly painful experience for her was when her older brother, Francisco, passed away. She was just a child, and she did not fully understand what had happened. Then, when she was ten years old, she and her family moved to Tetouan, North Africa, where her father had taken a new job. Even as a pre-teenaged girl she possessed two character traits that stood out; courage, and boldness. She was not easily intimidated, and she quietly spoke her mind.
Guadalupe experienced another incredibly traumatic event in 1936. It was during the Spanish Civil War, and her dad was taken prisoner. Judged quickly, he was sentenced to be shot. Guadalupe, her brother, Eduardo, and their mother were permitted to spend the last few hours with their father before his execution. They did there best to console him, but he wound up consoling them. Guadalupe managed to forgive her dad’s executioners and those who had condemned him. In 1937 they moved to Valladolid, Spain, where they remained until the beginning of World War II.
The family returned to Spain in 1939 and Guadalupe, who had received a degree in chemistry from Universidad Central de Madrid, began to teach in the School of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On a Sunday in 1944, she felt “touched” by the grace of God while attending Mass. The feeling was so pronounced that when she returned home, she told a friend that she needed to speak to a priest as soon as possible. The friend gave her the number of the founder of Opus Dei, Josemaria Escriva.
On January 25, Guadalupe went to her appointment with Father Escriva which was at the first women’s center of Opus Dei. Guadalupe considered that encounter as the pivotal moment in her life. It was here she discovered the call of Jesus Christ telling her to love Him above all things and to manifest it through professional work and ordinary life. This was the primary message that God wanted to bring to men and women through Opus Dei.
She went on a spiritual retreat and then spent a few more days in prayer. Finally, on March 19, she answered ‘yes” to the Lord and became part of Opus Dei. She was 27 years old and from that point on her life was filled with the love of her work extending all the way down to simple household tasks. She also began spending as much time as possible before the tabernacle.
This was all taking place during the fledgling years of Opus Dei. Guadalupe devoted herself to learning about a job she had no training in as it involved getting students rationing cards and living quarters at school. Her passion remained in chemistry, and she studied it every chance she could.
In 1950, Josemaria Escriva asked her to go to Mexico to bring the message of Opus Dei to that nation. She embraced this invitation and looked forward to being under the protection of her namesake, Our Lady of Guadalupe. She encouraged her students to study hard and to work to raise their sights to the service of the church. She stressed concern for the poor and the elderly, created a mobile clinic with a friend who was a doctor and went house to house providing medical testing and distributing free medications to those in need.
In 1956 Guadalupe moved to Rome so she could work more closely with Josemaria in governing Opus Dei. This was when she first noticed symptoms of heart trouble. She needed an operation and had to go to Madrid. Although the surgery was considered successful, her heart condition worsened, and she had to remain in Spain for good.
Despite her heart condition and the shallow breathing and the constant chest spasms, Guadalupe refused to complain and tried her best to keep on smiling. In 1975 the doctors convinced her that she needed another operation right away. She was scheduled for her surgery on July 1. One week before that, on June 26, Josemaria Escriva passed away. She took comfort knowing that he was with God and had no fear about her impending operation.
Guadalupe fought the good fight, but her heart finally failed on July 16, 1975.
Venerable Maria Guadalupe Ortiz de Landazuri Fernandez de Heredia ‘s beatification will be sometime in 2018.
St. Josemaria Escriva was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II on October 6, 2002.
Caitlyn Summer had always followed the straight and narrow path. Her perfect husband would love Jesus more than her and love her because of her love for Jesus. He would be faithful and gentle and have a heart for others. So how did she end up marrying the bad boy who got her high school best friend pregnant then pressured her to abort?
Unable to remember the past three years or understand why she would’ve moved so far from home, Caitlyn can’t believe she willingly married such an overprotective, bossy, and jealous man. In this emotionally-charged, new adult mystery romance, ANYONE BUT HIM, Caitlyn struggles to solve the mysteries of her amnesia and her marriage. Suspicious circumstances surrounding her husband tempt her to leave and start life over, but they also challenge her Christian faith and convictions.
The arrival of her first love, her husband’s younger brother, intent on helping her regain her memory, offers a glimmer of hope. Together they uncover secrets involving her coworkers and the local abortion clinic, but nothing to explain why she married this man. Who changed – him or her?
The book is available in hardback, paperback, and Kindle:
Theresa Linden is the author of award-winning Catholic teen fiction. Raised in a military family, she developed a strong patriotism and a sense of adventure. Her Catholic faith inspires the belief that there is no greater adventure than the reality we can’t see, the spiritual side of life. She has six published novels, and two short stories in Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body (Full Quiver Publishing). She holds a Catechetical Diploma from Catholic Distance University and is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Society. A wife, homeschooling mom, and Secular Franciscan, she resides in northeast Ohio with her husband and three teenage boys.
“The author has a lot of elements going on in this story – mystery, romance, amnesia, and a pro-life message. How she intertwines and weaves all these pieces together is perfection.” ~Leslea Wahl, author of award-winning The Perfect Blindside
“Anyone But Him had me hooked from the start! Theresa Linden unravels the mystery layer by layer as Caitlyn questions whom to trust, who has changed, and how an unfinished investigation may be the key to it all. Told through Caitlyn’s eyes, Anyone But Him will keep you doubting, guessing – and maybe even falling in love – alongside her.” ~Carolyn Astfalk, author of inspirational romance Stay With Me
We define the Catholic Church as “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic” church. But when you witness those words coming to life right before your own eyes, it is an experience you will never forget.
My oldest son had been married in the Catholic Church once but due to unforeseen circumstances was granted an annulment. He married again on February 17. I freely admit; I had my doubts about this wedding. But I had forgotten something; I had forgotten this was a Catholic thing. I had also forgotten about the HOLY Sacrifice of the Mass.
When I arrived at Most Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Gulfport, FL, I was still feeling doubtful about what was about to happen. But something was different this time. I had not yet put my finger on it.
The pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Church was a man from Kenya. He was a man of color and had been ordained in Kenya. His name was Father George Iregi. This day would be the first time he and I had met. About a third of the congregation was also people from Kenya.
The church was filling up, and the only the people I knew were those in my immediate family. In the back of us, occupying the next two pews were elderly nuns, Benedictine Sisters who lived in the monastery of St. Leo University about 40 miles north near Tampa, FL. Oh yes, the bride, my about to be daughter-in-law, was Father George’s sister, Philomena. She had lived with the Benedictines while she was studying for her degree (She had just received her Master’s Degree in Education).
The rest were parishioners of Holy Name parish, friends of Father George. It suddenly dawned on me that there was a common denominator among all of us. Whatever our skin color was (the word ‘diverse” fit perfectly), we were all CATHOLIC, and we all would be attending Mass together as ONE congregation. Skin color was irrelevant.
Father George had made arrangements for his parents to fly here from Kenya. They had never been out of Kenya and were in their late 70s. It was to be a surprise for his sister who had not seen them in three years while she was in school. And surprised she was.
Father George walked out into the sanctuary accompanied by Father Daniel Bowen, a Mercedarian priest who is stationed at my parish of Sacred Heart. Father Daniel had taken Jr. and Philomena through their marriage preparations (APOSTOLIC) and would perform the wedding ceremony. Father George would be the celebrant of the Mass and Father Daniel would concelebrate.
Everyone stood as the bride, with her mom and dad at her sides, began to walk down the aisle. The Kenyan wedding dress that Philomena wore was something I could not have imagined. It was absolutely beautiful with its display of colors and a headpiece that looked like a crown. They exchanged vows, and the intensity between them was pronounced. I believe everyone could feel that they meant every word they said to each other.
During the Mass, the diverse congregation sat, stood, and knelt in unison when appropriate. The Sign of the Cross was made by all when required. Even though many of us did not speak the same language, our Catholic faith united us all.
The wedding reception was attended by white Americans and dark-skinned Kenyans. We prayed together, ate together, laughed together and danced together. They served Kenyan food alongside Chicken Parmigiana and pasta. Much of the music was Kenyan, and some were standard pop and contemporary. The fact was, it was a wonderful wedding reception.
The significance of this marital union and the joining of such diverse families did not fully impact me until the next morning. And once again it was the Mass that framed the moment. February 18 is the anniversary of my mom’s death. She died 57 years ago, and the 8 a.m. Mass was being offered for her. I am an usher at that Mass, and since I did not expect anyone from my family to be there, I was planning to get someone to assist me in bringing up the gifts.
At 7:00 a.m., I received a text message from Jr. He and his new wife had decided to attend that Mass. They did not know it was for his grandma, a woman he had never even seen. The tears welled up as I watched my caucasian son walk with his Kenyan bride down the aisle with the gifts to be offered at his grandma’s anniversary Mass. The message for me was clear; “Everything is okay, Larry. Congratulations.
Being Catholic is truly a beautiful thing. But for human pride, it actually could unite the entire world.