Tag Archives: humility

He died at the age of 40, yet he is known as the “Father of the Poor” and founded an Order of Nuns. Meet Blessed Paul Joseph Nardini

Bl. Pauil Joseph Nardini        en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Germersheim is a small town that is next to the Rhine River in Bavaria. On July 25, 1821, an unwed woman by the name of Margareta Lichtenberger gave birth to a baby boy and named him Paul Joseph Lichtenberger. The boy’s father remained unknown. Margareta tried her best, but being a single parent, the odds were stacked against her. She ultimately turned baby Paul over to her Aunt Maria Barbara.

Margareta was blessed.  Her Aunt Maria Barbara was married to an Italian man by the name of Anton Nardini. Anton embraced the child as his own. He and Marie adopted Paul and raised him as they if he was their natural-born child. Paul’s formative years were filled with a loving homelife where religion and family meant everything. The boy was also receiving the best education possible. Incredibly, the Nardini’s never let Paul lose contact with his birth mom, Margareta.

By the time Paul finished grammar school, he had no doubt that he was called to the priesthood. Several of his teachers recommended Paul to Bishop Johannes von Geissel as a young man who might become a good priest.  Bishop von Giessel had the young man admitted to the seminary in Speyer, where he studied philosophy. From there, Paul moved on to the University of Munich. While at the university he obtained a Degree in Theology; Summa cum Laude.

On August 22, 1848, he was ordained to the priesthood in the Cathedral of Speyer. His “higher-ups” wanted him to teach at the university, but Father Paul wanted to do parish work. They acceded to his wishes and his first few years as a priest were spent as a chaplain in Frankenthal, an administrator of a parish in Trebur, and then as a prefect of a diocesan boarding school.

But in 1851 Father Paul Joseph Nardini was appointed as a parish priest at one of the poorest parishes in France, St. Joseph Parish at Pirmasens, a parish with many poor, neglected adults and children.  Unknown to anyone at the time, including Father Paul, this would be the parish where he would spend the rest of his life. His adopted parents had taught him well. Upon taking up residence at the parish one of the first things he did was to have his birth mother, Margareta Lichtenberger, take up residence with him.

Father Paul immediately demonstrated the qualities that so many had seen in him as a boy. He loved his Catholic faith deeply and the example he set for those around him was inspiring. He showed an uncommon human and moral piety, a devout reverence toward the Mass and the Sacraments, and was always denying himself for the poor around him and using actions more than words to evangelize the many protestants that lived within his area. It was not long before the people in his parish and in the surrounding area were calling him the “Father of the Poor.”

The need for help was overwhelming so  Father Paul he reached out to the Sisters of the Most Holy Redeemer of Niederborn. He asked if they could help him, especially in educating the poor kids of the parish. He also asked for their help in caring for the sick and for those who were poverty-stricken and also spiritually lost. Three Sisters were assigned to help but the work was too great for such a small number and after two years they were recalled.

Father Nardini never lost hope. He reached out to four young ladies of the Third Order of St. Francis. These four women would become the first members of the order known today as the Poor Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Family.  The date was March 2, 1855. Father personally supervised the care and formation of the Sisters, secured their food and lodging, and even gave up his evening meals to make sure they had what they needed. The bishop approved the order on March 10, 1857.

As the number of women joining the order increased Father Paul’s home visits to the sick and dying increased dramatically. Holy Viaticum was his highest priority on his agenda. It was a freezing cold night when the selfless priest brought Viaticum to a person dying of pulmonary typhus. Father caught the illness. He died from its effects on January 27, 1862. He was 40 years old.

At the time of Father Paul’s death, the order was only seven years old but already had over 220 ladies working in 35 locations. They were all heartbroken over the loss of their founder whose remains are today venerated in the Chapel at Pirmasens.

Father Paul Joseph Nardini was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on June 26, 2006. His feast day is on January 27. We ask Blessed Paul Joseph Nardini to pray for us.

 

 

 

 

 

St. Conrad of Parzham: He served Our Lady for over 40 years as a porter: His permanent “pension” was Sainthood

St. Conrad of Pharzham                                                        en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

He was born on a farm in a town called Parzham in the Kingdom of Bavaria. The date was December 22, 1818. His parents, George and Gertrude Birndorfer, were devout Catholics, and they named their new baby Johann Evangelist. Johann was the second youngest of twelve children, five of whom had died in infancy.

As a child young Johann demonstrated a love of prayer and solitude that indicated where his future might lead. He became filled with a great love for our Blessed Mother,  learned how to pray the Rosary, and recited it every day.

By the time he was eleven or twelve, Johann had a particular routine he followed on Our Lady’s special feast days. He would journey on foot to different shrines dedicated to Her. They were always a good distance away. He would attend Mass there, fast and pray all day, and not get home until it was dark. He was so filled with a spiritual love that even inclement weather or bitter cold would not keep him away.

Johann’s mom died when he was 14 years old. He remained on the farm helping his father.  He attended Mass as often as possible and made frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament. The young man was always embedded deeply in prayer and personal solitude, even while working in the fields.  He remained on the farm until his father passed away in 1838.

Johann received a substantial inheritance from his father’s estate. Having no desire for material things, he disposed of the inheritance and left the secular world. He joined the  Capuchin Franciscans and became a lay brother. When he entered the novitiate, he was given the name, Conrad,  in honor of Conrad of  Piacenza. He would be known as Conrad forever after.

Soon after his profession of vows, Conrad was sent to the Friary of St. Ann in the city of Altotting. This was the location for the Shrine of Our Lady of Altotting which was the National Shrine of Bavaria. (Today this place is also called the Lourdes of Germany). Conrad was given the job of porter at the shrine. From the doorway, he could see the tabernacle. He could not have been happier. He needed nothing else.

The shrine was located in a bustling and busy city. The porter’s job was not an easy one as people came to him all day long asking questions, wanting directions, looking for a priest, asking for advice, and those just wanting someone to talk to. Conrad filled his designated role perfectly. He also could see into the hearts of those who came to him. His wisdom, kindness, and holiness always seemed to be able to help satisfy the needs of the people who came in contact with him.

Conrad loved silence. He used it to be in touch with God. When he managed to get a spare moment, he would stand in the nook by the front door so he could see the Blessed Sacrament. At night he often deprived himself of sleep so he could step into the brother’s oratory or the church to pray. Many believed that he hardly ever rested but that he continually occupied himself with work or prayer.

Brother Conrad was on the job every day for 41 years. After an extremely busy day during April of 1894, Conrad felt his strength leaving him. It was so pronounced that he told his superior. He was ordered to bed for rest. The children in the neighborhood loved Conrad and noticed him missing. They asked where he was and were told that he was sick.

The word quickly spread and soon children form all over had surrounded the friary and began praying the Rosary for Brother Conrad. Their prayerful voices would be the last thing he would hear. How beautiful was that?

Conrad died on April 21, 1894. He had been given the gift of prophecy, could read the hearts of people he met and was known for his wisdom, kindness, and holiness. Numerous miracles were also attributed to him. He was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1934.

Saint Conrad of Parzham, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

The Lily of Quito; St. Mariana de Jesus de Paredes; This orphaned girl grew up to be the “Heroine of the Nation.”

St. Mariana de Jesus   de Paredes                                     Aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

On October 31, 1618, a baby girl was born in the city of Quito, which was located in the New Kingdom of Grenada. Today this area is known as Ecuador. The child’s father was an upstanding and respected Spanish nobleman from Toledo by the name of Don Girolamo Flores de Paredes. Her mother’s name was Dona Mariana Cranobles de Xaramilo and she was descended from the most highly respected of Spanish families. Girolamo and Mariana named their daughter,  Mariana. She was the youngest of eight children.

Mariana was orphaned at the age of seven, and her upbringing was taken over by her older sister, Jeronima, who had already married. Mariana had an obvious sense of piety and humility that seemed part of her persona and her sister and her brother-in-law, Cosme de Caso,  decided they would allow her to live in seclusion in their house. Mariana did not live in total isolation because there was a Jesuit church nearby and she spent as much time there as she could praying before the Blessed Sacrament.

Mariana instinctively began to develop a deep sense of piety and self-mortification, denying herself food, drink, and sleep. Her brother-in-law had the Jesuit priest, Juan Camacho, guide her in her development. Like St. Rose of Lima (who she is compared to) she did not enter a convent but rather, stayed in her home devoting herself to prayer and penance and practicing self-mortification and fasting.

It is reported that Mariana’s fasting was so intense and strict that she ate only an ounce of food every eight to ten days. This is impossible for a person to survive on, but similar to St. Catherine of Siena and Saint Rose of Lima, .Mariana’s life was miraculously sustained by the Holy Eucharist. Many witnesses swore testimony to the fact that Mariana did receive Holy Communion each morning. She was determined to follow the mandate of Jesus: Who wants to follow me should deny herself.”

Mariana’s spirituality and the gifts attached to it included her being able to predict the future, see future events as if they were passing before her, look into the very hearts of people, cure disease by making the sign of the cross on someones or sprinkling them with holy water. It was documented that she even restored a dead person to life. The reputation of the holy woman called Mariana spread far and wide.

In 1645 there was a great earthquake in Quito. Many people died as a terrible epidemic of disease swept through the city. A Jesuit priest gave a homily in church and prayed aloud, “My God, I offer you my life so that the earthquakes are over.”

But Mariana quickly came forward and exclaimed, “No Lord, the life of this priest is necessary to save many souls, but I am not necessary….I offer you my life to stop these earthquakes.”

The very next day Mariana began to feel very sick. Shortly after, on May 26, 1645, Mariana died. She was 27 years old. There were no more earthquakes, and no one else died from disease. It is reported that on the day she died her sanctity became visible to all who were there. A pure white lily sprouted from her blood, blossomed, and bloomed for all to see. Because of this she became known as the Lily of Quito. In 1946 the Republic of Ecuador declared her a national heroine giving her the title, Heroine of the Nation.

St. Mariana de Jesus de Paredes, was beatified by Pope Pius IX on November 20, 1853 and canonized by Pope Pius XII on June 4, 1950. She is the patroness of those with bodily ills, people rejected by religious orders, and those who lose their parents, especially while children.

St. Mariana de Jesus de Paredes, please pray for us.

©copyright Larry Peterson 2019

An American story about an Irish priest, a brave girl, and the KKK

Father James Coyle                                                     en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Each and every one of us is an individual work of art, crafted by God for Himself. Why would He do that? He does it because He is Love and wants to share Himself with us. We all are truly special in His eyes. He loves us all, individually and without reservation.

 

He will forgive each and every one of us for anything we might do to offend Him. All we have to do is admit it and ask Him for his forgiveness. However, that great interloper called “Pride”, oftentimes places for many, immovable roadblocks to humility, everyone’s needed ally on their path to Love.

 

What follows is an “American” story about a Catholic priest and a member of the Ku Klux Klan. It is about love and hatred in America. This is not about the present day. This happened in Birmingham, Alabama in the year 1921.

 

Father James Edwin Coyle had been born and raised in Ireland and, at the age of 23, was ordained a priest in Rome. The year was  1896.  That same year he was dispatched to the Diocese of Mobile, Alabama to begin his ministry. Father Coyle served eight years in Mobile. While there he also became a charter member of Mobile Council 666 of the Knights of Columbus.

 

Birmingham was rapidly growing and was turning into one of the primary steel-making centers in America. Thousands were flooding into the area and Bishop Patrick Allen assigned Father Coyle to be pastor of the Cathedral of St. Paul in Birmingham. This was in 1904.

 

In 1915, inspired by the silent film, “Birth of a Nation” , the second generation of the Ku Klux Klan rose up (the link can explain the first and third generations). These folks were not only anti-black they also hated Roman Catholics, Jews, organized labor and foreigners. They started the use of the “burning cross” as their symbol. By the mid-1920s, there were over 4 million klansmen nationwide.

 

Father Coyle was a passionate priest who loved his faith deeply and this love was infectious. He taught and inspired his parishioners about the beauty and importance of the Mass and Holy Eucharist and he held a deep devotion to Our Blessed Mother.

 

The parish grew as Catholics gravitated to the Irish shepherd in their midst. He became the chaplain for the Birmingham Council 635 of the Knights of Columbus and his presence there brought in more members from the growing Catholic community.

 

As the Catholic population in Alabama grew, virtual hysteria on the part of the Ku Klux Klan began to permeate daily life. The Klan was spreading rumors and innuendo about Catholics kidnapping protestant women and children and keeping them imprisoned in convents, monasteries and Catholic hospitals. The Klan even spread the narrative that the Knights of Columbus was the military arm of the Pope and that they were stockpiling weapons for the upcoming insurrection.

 

One of the leading Catholic-haters of the day was a klansman by the name of  Edwin Stephenson. Stephenson lived about a block or two away from St. Paul’s Church. His daughter, Ruth, at about the age of 12, had become fascinated by the comings and goings of the Catholics at St. Paul’s every day. One day she walked down to the church and  Father Coyle was outside. They began to talk. Her father saw talking to the priest and, screaming at his child, demanded she go home immediately. Then he had a few choice words to say to Father Coyle. He then went home and beat his daughter.

 

Young Ruth was undeterred and over the next several years even managed to secretly take instruction from the nuns at the Convent of Mercy. She was baptized a Catholic on April 10,1921. She was 18 years old. When her parents found out their wedding gift to her was the worst beating she had ever received.

 

On August 11, 1921, Ruth Stephenson, of legal age, was seeking full emancipation from her parents. She did this by marrying Pedro Gussman, a former handyman who had worked at the Stephenson house several years earlier. The priest that performed the wedding was a reluctant Father James Coyle.

Later that afternoon, Mr. Stephenson loaded up his rifle and began walking to St. Paul’s Church. He had just found out that it was Father Coyle who had performed the wedding. His heart was not filled with love. Rather, with hatred spilling from his eyes, he walked up onto the porch of St. Paul’s where Father Coyle was sitting down reading and shot the priest three times. The final bullet went right through Father Coyle’s head. He died in less than an hour.

 

Stephenson turned himself in and was charged with Father Coyle’s murder. The KKK paid for the defense, the judge was a Klansman and the lawyer who defended Stephenson was Hugo Black, the future U. S. Supreme Court Justice. Although not a Klan member at the time of trial, Black did become a member afterward. The verdict took only a few hours to come in. It was “Not Guilty”.

 

Father James Edwin Coyle was a Catholic priest who loved his God, his Faith, and his Church. He was hated and murdered because of it. May he forever rest in peace.

 

copyright©Larry Peterson 2017

Humility—What is it? Where is it? Who has it? How do we attain it? Let’s ask St. Benedict

Pride & Humility               cslewisinstitute..org

By Larry Peterson

What is Humility? The dictionary defines it as;  noun“modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.

The opposite of humility is pride. Pride is defined as;  noun high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.

Apparently, in this modern, self-absorbed world the Pride factor has taken over. There used to be a slogan that said, “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but names can never hurt you.” It seems that slogan has been thrown into the dustbin of antiquity. The new slogan seems to be, “That was offensive. I demand an apology.” (or something like that).

It seems that more than half of the human race smothers itself to death with self-absorption. This condition may warrant a journey back in time to visit one of the greatest of Catholic saints; his name is St. Benedict of Nursia. Benedict’s work was so important in the evangelization of most of Europe that in 1964, Pope St. Paul VI, proclaimed St. Benedict the Patron Saint of Europe.

Benedict authored the Benedictine Rule. Included in these rules are the Twelve Steps of Humility. Let us see what this saint has to say about humility. Since Benedict wrote in detail about each step, what follows will be a brief synopsis of each one.

Benedict introduced his Twelve Steps with this preface;  Luke 14:11 “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

How to be Humble:

  • Step one: The Fear of God  Man must keep the fear of God always before his eyes, and never forget His commandments. The fear of God means reverence for God, and by offending God, we offend ourselves.
  • Step 2: Not My Will, but Yours o Lord: from John 6:38. This means to be humble we must avoid taking pleasure in our own wants and desires but always strive to do God’s will before all else.
  • Step 3: He was obedient even unto death: Philippians 2:8. Humility requires us to be obedient to authority which includes our parents, our priest, lawful authority, etc.
  • Step 4: Embrace Suffering Patiently and ObedientlyFor he that will save his life shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
  • Step 5: Confess our sins and faults This means we should regularly confess our sins to a priest through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • Step 6: Be content with lowliness We should accept that we are sinful and frail and when left to our selves we are not much but to God we are of precious value so much so that he suffered and died for us.
  • Step 7: Understand our Interior Mediocrity It is a blessing that you have humbled me so that I can learn Your commandments” (Psalm 119:71, 73)
  • Step 8: To Keep the Rule This is to remind the Benedictines to keep the Rule of their Order. It reminds us to keep the rules of Holy Mother Church.
  • Step 9: Silence and Solitude We should always avoid speaking ill of others and try to embrace silence and solitude whenever God provides it for us.
  • Step 10: Keep Your Peace in Times of Laughter This pertains to us laughing and making fun of others, something we should never do.
  • Step 11: Speak Calmly and Modestly We should train our tongue so that the words we speak are foremost, pleasing to God and never
  • Step 12: Everlasting Humility and Meekness We should strive to live our lives, day and night, by bearing whatever problems or adversities we are experiencing thereby allowing God’s kindness and gentleness to shine through us.

Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val was Secretary of State to Pope St. Pius X. He wrote the famous Litany of Humility which can be found at this link.  We might pray that more people embrace the gift of humility. We certainly need more of it.