St. John Berchmans; A Remarkable Role Model for our Youth. He is the Patron Saint of Altar Servers

By Larry Peterson

St. John Berchman's; Patron St. of Altar Servers...
en.wikipedia.org

This is about a young man who became a saint. He did not found any religious orders or have any miracles attributed to him. He did not commit ant great acts of heroism or adhere to a life of poverty. Rather, John Berchmans became a saint by being kind, courteous and incredibly loyal to the faith.

John was born on March 13, 1599, in a town called Diest,  located in the northeast part of Belgium. His father was shoemaker and John was one of five children. John became an altar boy at the age of seven and his parish priest, Father Emmerick, noticed his genuine piety and even commented to others that the Lord would work wonders in the boy's soul.

When John was nine, his mom took ill and he spent hours at her side doing his best to comfort and care for her. She passed on when he was about thirteen and Father Emmerick allowed John to move in with him and some others boys he had living there.

He became fast friends with the others at the priest's home and never failed to take on the most menial of tasks and complete them to the best of his ability. He was always kind and never would stray from doing what his conscience told him was right. His kindness and intelligence were a great example to the other students and the young man proved to be a profound influence on them.

John then read the biography of  St. Aloysius Gonzaga and decided he wanted to be a Jesuit. At the age of 17, he was able to enroll as a Jesuit novitiate at the Jesuit College at Malines, Belgium. He worked hard at his studies and, inspired by the life of St. Aloysius, had developed a desire to teach all the multi-lingual migrants that were in Europe. In 1618 he was sent to Rome for more education.

John Berchmans was very poor. His journey to Rome was not easy. He had to walk to Rome, a distance of 300 "leagues" or a distance of 900 miles. Carrying all his worldly goods in a  sack hung across his back, he made it to Rome. How long the journey took is unknown. He did arrive and began his studies.

In addition to studying rhetoric and philosophy, he managed to study different languages with his ultimate goal being to become a missionary in China. In his third year at the Roman College, John was selected to take part in a philosophy debate at the Greek College run by the Dominicans. John was brilliant in his arguments and carried the day. However, on the way home, he became very ill.

John Berchmans illness turned into a quick downward spiral. He seemed to have a cold which turned into other unknown maladies and he died within a week of becoming ill. The thought today is that it was dysentery that caused his death. The young man was only twenty-two-years-old and had not lived long enough to be ordained.

John Berchmans was known for his extreme piety and for being diligent in all matters, even involving the most trivial of tasks. When he died he was holding onto his rosary, a crucifix and the rules of his order. As he was dying he said: "These are my three treasures; with these, I shall gladly die."


There were many miracles attributed to John's after his death and, as a result, the famous "altar boy" developed a huge following, especially in Belgium. In fact, over 24,000 portraits of him were given out within a few years of his death. He is known for his devotion the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady, to whom he composed a Chaplet in honor of the Immaculate Conception.

John Berchmans died on August 13, 1621. He was canonized a saint on January 15, 1888. He is the patron saint of altar servers and students. He is also a true role model for all youth of today.

St. John Berchmans, please pray for us all.

     

The Magnificent Dogma of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary- —

By Larry Peterson

from catholicism.org

 

The Third Ecumenical Council held by the Catholic Church took place in Ephesus in 431. The Council was called to refute the teaching being put forth by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius. He held that the Virgin Mary may only be called the Christotokos (Birth Giver of Christ) and not Theotokos (Mother of God).

 

This teaching was condemned and the Council confirmed that indeed, since it was God who was the Father, Mary was truly the Mother of God. This settled for all time the central mystery of the Catholic faith which is the Incarnation; Jesus Christ is one person with two natures; one divine and one human. This is a mystery we embrace and believe but will never fully understand.

 

Pope Pius XI, who had a profound devotion to the Blessed Virgin, honored her by creating a new feast day in her honor. In 1931, 1500 years after the Council of Ephesus had proclaimed that Our Blessed Lady was truly the Mother of  God; Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast Day of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This action not only reaffirmed the Council's dogmatic proclamation that Mary is Theotokos, it also set October 11 into the Roman calendar as the day the feast was to be celebrated.

 

Since Vatican II's changes were put in place the Feast Day of Divine Maternity has become somewhat overshadowed by the dogma of Mary's "Perpetual Virginity". But make no mistake, these two dogmatic pronouncements are eternally joined together and they are inseparable. October 11 is still an active feast in the 1962 Roman Missal which is used during the extraordinary celebration of the Mass.

 

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church 495: Mary's Divine Motherhood;

Called in the Gospels, 'the mother of Jesus,' Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, "as the mother of my Lord." In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly the 'Mother of God' (Theotokos).

 

From the Catechism 496: Mary's Virginity:

From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived "by the Holy Spirit without human seed". The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own...

 

Our Blessed Mother was a young, innocent woman of about 14 years of age when the Angel Gabriel came to her and announced to her what God wanted from her. What could have gone through her young mind as this was asked of her? She must have been so afraid. How could she have had any possible idea that she would be the New Eve who would give birth to the New Adam who, in turn, would save us all?

 

This mystery of faith is so profound. This young woman, in effect, was chosen by God Himself to be his spouse. Their child would be both God and Man. He would change the world forever.

Mary's virginal motherhood sealed in perpetuity the truth of the Incarnation. She gave Christ the body He possessed. She gave Him the humanity that was part of Him. And all the time he was God...and she was His Mom. WOW!

 

     

Rhoda Wise—Wife, Mom, Convert, Stigmatic and Mentor to Mother Angelica

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

From 1942: Rhoda Wise; second from right: Rita Rizzo, age 19 (Mother Angelica) on right                                                         mysticsofthechurch.com

By Larry Peterson

The year was 1904 and Rhoda Wise was terrified. The sixteen year old girl was experiencing searing pain which was exploding in her lower abdomen. She was taken to Wheeling Hospital in Wheeling, West Virginia where she was about to have surgery to remove her ruptured appendix. She had no idea she was about to experience a turning point in her young life.

While she was recovering from her operation a Catholic Sister came to visit her. The nun gave Rhoda a St. Benedict medal. Rhoda told the nun that her parents, who literally despised Catholics, would never allow her to keep the medal. In fact, Rhoda was sure they would be furious that it had been given to her.

Sister put the small medal inside a locket that Rhoda had. The sixteen-year-old was so moved by the kind gesture that she kept that medal for the rest of her life. It also started her thinking about Catholicism.

Rhoda was born in Cadiz, Ohio on February 22, 1888. She was the sixth of eight children. Her dad, Eli Greer, was a bricklayer and her mom, Anna, was an active member in helping Civil War veterans. They were staunch Protestants and Rhoda grew up confronted by an unyielding Catholic bias. Most of Rhoda’s friends harbored anti-Catholic sentiments but she did manage to have a few Catholic friends.

Rhoda married Ernest Wissmar in 1915. Ernest was a widower from Canton, Ohio, and Rhoda moved there with her husband. Six months after their marriage, Ernest, a plasterer, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on a job site and passed away. Rhoda, soon after being widowed, met George Wise, himself a widower, and they were married in January 1917.

Rhoda loved George very much but he was a drinker and Rhoda would spend many married years confronting ongoing financial troubles, embarrassments and the many challenges that accompany the disease of alcoholism. Among these challenges was having to move seven times as George’s drinking caused him to have to frequently find new jobs.  Through it, all, Rhoda, did her best to remain upbeat.

In 1931, Rhoda developed a huge, 39-pound ovarian cyst. This cyst was so large there was no doctor in Canton who would attempt to remove it. A doctor in Wheeling agreed to do it.  The downside was Rhoda was told she might not survive the operation. Rhoda agreed to the surgery anyway.

She survived the operation but her gallbladder was affected and had to be removed. Soon after the gallbladder surgery, she developed a painful bowel obstruction which had to be surgically repaired. Rhoda was never the same after this and then, in 1936, she stepped into a sewer drain severely damaging her right leg.

Her foot turned inward and, combined with a recurring infection, kept Rhoda Wise in and out of hospitals from that point on. Every few months it was now back to the hospital for new casting or additional surgery on her leg in attempts to straighten her foot. Besides the now chronic pain, she had to endure, Rhoda’s immediate future saw her being confined to bed most of the time.

Rhoda’s first of many visions occurred while hospitalized and with George and Anna Mae, their adopted daughter, present. Rhoda saw Jesus as the Good Shepherd standing by the window. She told George and Anna Mae but they saw nothing. George thought she was hallucinating.

One of the nuns at Mercy Hospital, Sister Clement, a Sister of Charity, befriended Rhoda. Sister had a great devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux and gave Rhoda a small shrine of the “Little Flower” to put by her bed. Rhoda then asked Sister if she could hold her Rosary. When Sister handed it to her the Crucifix was very warm and Rhoda immediately asked Sister Clement to teach her about the beads. Graces were beginning to explode within her.

Rhoda fell in love with the Rosary and prayed it several times a day. She then asked Sister if she could make a novena to St. Therese. She had developed a brutally painful stomach cancer which was considered incurable. Jesus appeared to Rhoda on May 28, 1939, and told her He would come back with St. Therese on June 28.

Jesus returned as promised and, with St. Therese standing by His side, Rhoda’s incurable, open wounded stomach cancer vanished without a trace. On August 15, 1939, St. Therese visited Rhoda again and her cast broke apart and fell from her twisted foot. The foot was perfectly normal.

For lack of space here I shall finish this by mentioning a young woman by the name of Rita Rizzo. Rita was nineteen and suffered from what they called a “dropped stomach”. Her belly appeared discolored and deformed and the pain was excruciating. She went to see Rhoda who gave her a novena to St. Therese and told her to say it for nine days.

During the early morning hours on the ninth day pain exploded in Rita’s abdomen and then stopped. In the morning when she looked at her belly it appeared normal. The discoloration and deformity were gone and so was the pain. She had been cured and the pain never returned again. Rita Rizzo became Mother Angelica and founded EWTN. Rhoda Wise was the moving force in Mother Angelica’s becoming a nun.

On Good Friday, April 3, 1942, Rhoda Wise was given the Stigmata of the Crown of Thorns. Every Friday after,  until her death on July 7, 1948, her forehead would bleed from noon until 3:00 pm.

14,000 people showed up for her funeral. Countless cures were attributed to Rhoda and countless souls returned to Christ because of her. Ironically, Rhoda always felt the greatest miracle she witnessed was the day George stopped drinking and never had another drink as long as he lived.

Rhoda Wise has been declared a Servant of God and her cause for sainthood has begun.

We the Servant of God; Rhoda Wise, to pray for us all.

There is much to the story of Rhoda Wise. To learn more please visit the link  http://rhodawise.com/

 

     

St. Mary of Cervellon: with Hurricane Irma fast approaching we should ask St. Mary of Cervellon for her Help and Protection

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

 

By Larry Peterson

 

She was born sometime in 1230, some think around December 1, and was baptized on December 8* in Santa Maria del Mar parish in Barcelona. Her name was Mary de Cervellon, and she was the daughter of a Spanish nobleman, William de Cervellon.

 

As a young woman, Mary, began working in Saint Eulalia Hospital tending to the sick, the poor and also those who were prisoners. One day she heard a sermon given by Bernard de Corbarie, who was the superior of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Ransom, also known as Mercedarians. 

 

She was so moved by what she heard she vowed right then and there to do all she could to help alleviate the suffering and misery experienced by those who were prisoners of the Muslim Turks. Working at the hospital, Mary was able to come in contact with the great leaders of the Mercedarian order, including the order's founder, St. Peter Nolasco. Inspired by these pious people Mary, in the year, 1265,  joined a small group of women who lived near the monastery. These ladies spent their lives in constant prayer and doing good works for those in need.

 

In due time the women asked for and received permission to form the Third Order of Our Lady of Ransom. In addition to the normal three vows of poverty,  chastity, and obedience they also vowed to pray for all Christian slaves. They were all given permission to wear the white habit of the Mercedarians and Sister Mary de Cervellon was elected their first Mother Superior.

 

Sister Mary had such an empathy and devotion to the poor and needy that soon she began to be called Maria de Socros  (Mary of Help).  Mary de Cervellon passed away on Septemeber 19, 1290. During Mary's life and after her death, there were people who swore that they saw Mary literally on the "wings of the wind",  reaching down and saving floundering ships from rough seas so they might stay their course and continue on their journey to free Christian prisoners from the Muslims.

 

A great devotion grew in her honor and it was given approval by Pope Innocent XII in 1692. Paintings of Mary show her with a ship cradled in her arms as she saves it from the roaring seas around it.  Mary de Cervellon's body lies incorrupt to this very day in the Mercedarian Basilica in Barcelona, Spain.

 

At this very moment in time, a massive hurricane named, Irma, is talking dead aim at our homes in Florida and the Caribbean. The seas beneath Irma have turned into monstrous, walls of pounding destruction. Since St. Mary de Cervellon,  is the patroness of sailors and invoked especially against shipwreck, she is generally represented with a ship in her hand. We might invoke her name and ask her to help quell the pounding seas or maybe help divert Hurricane Irma in a diiferent direction. We could really use her help.

 

St. Mary de Cervellon, please pray for us all.

 

*the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was not proclaimed until  Pope Pius IX did so in 1854.