Thursday, September 30, 2010

St. Pio of Pietrelcina (May 25, 1887 to Sept. 23, 1968)

“After my death I will do more. My real mission will begin after my death.”
                                                                (St. Pio of Pietrelcina)

  Every morning, I say I want to emulate the life of a Franciscan or follow the Rule of St. Francis. And, yet, yesterday, when I got home from a long day at work, my reaction to a series of events that happened this week, culminated in behavior more in tune with the devil.
  I thought I would sit down and relax at my picnic table with an afternoon snack of frittata before attending a music event, but when I looked in the refrigerator, there was none to be found (although I did make two huge frittatas the night before).
  Just as this happened, a friend and his 18-year-old son walked into my house without knocking. On top of that, I have house guests for two weeks who were enjoying a day in Newport and I just needed a little downtime.
  So nothing happened as planned. I was upset and exhausted. All I want is eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night and I’ll be fine.
  St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) once said that the love of God was inseparable from suffering and that suffering all things for the sake of God was a way for the soul to reach God. Maybe I need to incorporate the Roman Catholic Church a little more into my life.
  A family friend, Francesca, was from the same small town in Italy as St. Pio. Somewhere in my late mother’s house is a rosary that Francesca gave her that was blessed by him. Before St. Pio was canonized in 2002, she would tell my mother that he was going to be a saint one day. My mother never lived to see it since she died in 1999.
  St. Pio was born Francesco Forgione on May 25, 1887. At age five, he knew he wanted to live a life devoted to God. He attended daily Mass and prayed the rosary at night. His family abstained from meat three days a week in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
  As a young boy, St. Pio told his parents that he communicated with Jesus, Mary,and his guardian angel regularly as though it were something everyone did. When he desperately wanted to become a Capuchin friar, his father found him a tutor from the United States who educated St. Pio in the Capuchin ways.
  St. Pio entered the order on Jan. 6, 1903 and was ordained a priest in 1910. He is said to have had apparitions of the devil who attacked his body and mind. At times, St. Pio received the stigmata and was also able to bilocate.
  He founded a hospital and medical research center called Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home of the Relief of Suffering) in San Giovanni Rotondo. It is near the Sanctuary of Monte Sant’ Angelo sul Gargano, the oldest shrine in Western Europe dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel.
  St. Pio died on Sept. 23, 1968 and his feast day is Sept. 23.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

St. Aubert (? to 720)

"The man who has seen the rising moon break out of the clouds at midnight has been present like an archangel at the creation of light and the world."      (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

  Today is the feast of the Archangels: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael. It's the one day in particular that I believe you can invoke the heavenly spirits of all three simultaneously and receive immediate positive action.
  Think of wishes, hopes, love, romance, work, and peace. Whatever you decide you need answers to or help with, they will intercede. You will feel them nearby and be able to make wise decisions or perhaps witness a miracle.
  They are archangels in Christian, Jewish, and Islamic faiths. To Roman Catholics, they are saints.
  St. Aubert, who lived in the 8th century France, had an amazing encounter with St. Michael. In 708, the archangel appeared in vision and told him to build an oratory on a rock at the mouth of the Couesnon River. This happened three times and St. Aubert took no action.
   Finally, St. Michael is said to have pierced his finger through St. Aubert's skull. The oratory, Mount Saint Michel, was dedicated the following year on Oct. 16.
  St. Aubert became the bishop of Avranches. He died in 720 and his feast day is Sept. 10.
  If you visit Saint-Gervais Basilica in Avranches, you can see the relic of St. Aubert's skull complete with the hole where St. Michael the Archangel pierced his finger through it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

St. Lorenzo Ruiz ( c.1600 to Sept. 29, 1637)

  Everywhere I go, I hear the same thing, one half of a relationship says "I love you," and the other half doesn't.  When I was a naive 24-year-old, I believed that if someone didn't say it, they were just shy. Now, years later, I'm convinced that if a person doesn't say "I love you," it's that simple: they don't.
  This is not an advice column. It's my way of helping people that I encounter along life's way. And since I began this blog, it's been very anonymous. Only a handful of people I've told know that it's me.
  If you are upset about a relationship you are in or want to be in a relationship, just follow your heart and believe. There is someone out there that will give you the love and appreciation you deserve.
  Today's saint is St. Lorenzo Ruiz. He was born in Binondo, Manila, the Philippines c.1600 to a Chinese father and Filipino mother. He was educated by Dominicans.
  St. Lorenzo Ruiz was an altar boy and he later worked as a calligrapher.  Accused of murder, he sought asylum on a ship with three Dominicans. They went to Japan during the Christian persecution and St. Lorenzo Ruiz stayed with missionaries. In Okinawa, it was discovered that he was a Christian and so he was arrested and taken to Nagasaki.
  St. Lorenzo Ruiz was tortured by being hung from the gallows by his feet and dropped into a pit. He died from suffocation on Sept. 29, 1637.
  He was canonized the first Filipino saint in 1987 and his feast day is Sept. 28.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blessed Jane of Aza (1135 to Aug. 2, 1205)

   It was my plan to write about a Franciscan saint today because that is the order that I would join if I chose to become a nun and not live in sin.  Then, I discovered I have something in common with St. Dominic, founder of the Dominican order. We both lost our mothers on Aug. 2, a day of extreme pain that I wish the calendar would skip over each year.
  Blessed Jane of Aza (also known of Juana de Aza) was born in Castilla la Vieja, Spain in 1135.  It is said that when she was pregnant with St. Dominic she had a dream of giving birth to a black and white dog. The animal carried a flaming torch and barked so loudly that it could be heard around the world.
  Dream interpreters are convinced that it foretold that her child would be a preacher and a great man that would influence the faith of millions of people. The black and white colors she saw are those of the Dominican order.
  All that is known of Blessed Jane of Aza are stories that historians have woven to form a real person, not just a legend.  She was from a noble family and died on Aug. 2, 1205. She was beatified in 1828.
  The painting pictured above is one of the Madonna and Child that I saw at the Basilicia of St. Dominic in Bologna, Italy, his final resting place.
  Blessed Jane of Aza's feast day is Aug. 2.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

St. Theresa Couderc (Feb. 1, 1805 to Sept. 26, 1885)

 "Let me live by love,
  Let me die of love,
  And let my last heartbeat be an act of perfect love."
                                      (St. Theresa Couderc)

  I couldn't help but notice this weekend that hotels seem to put people in romantic moods. At a party in a hotel conference room, I watched as a matronly middled-aged woman canvassed each table looking for an available guy. Just so happens that a 63-year-old poet friend welcomed her advances. I guess anything goes these days, since he's in the middle of a divorce and has a steady girlfriend on the west coast who was supposed to join him, but couldn't get the time out of work.
  "I want to be famous, like a rock star," he told me when I picked him up from the airport last year for the same music and poetry festival.
   His wish is coming true. And, as I've mentioned before, hand a guy a guitar or have him read poetry (I find it boring) and no matter how rude or ugly he is, it drives some women wild.
  Of course, love can be more than romantic. I'm certain that St. Theresa Couderc wasn't referring to a guy in the quote above. Her love for God was so strong that she devoted her life to him.
  St. Theresa Couderc was born in Le Mas, France on Feb. 1, 1805. She founded the Congregation of Our Lady of the Retreat in the Cenacle (better known as the Sisters of Cenacle) in 1826. It began as a mountain hostel for women pilgrims in search of a spiritual retreat.
  St. Theresa Couderc resigned as Mother Superior in 1878. She died on Sept. 26, 1885 in Lyon. Canonized: 1970. Her feast day is today.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Venerable Matt Talbot (May 2, 1856 to June 7, 1925)

  I ran into my friend, Stephanie, today and before I could even ask how she was doing, she handed me a gift. Inside the small box was a necklace with a Stella Maris medal, black beads, and a toggle closure in the form of a rosary.
  "It reminded me so much of you," Stephanie said.
  Then, she asked me if I would write about Venerable Matt Talbot.
  Since he is not yet a blessed or a saint, he's considered somewhat obscure.
  Venerable Matt Talbot was born on May 2, 1856 in Dublin, Ireland and had 11 siblings. At age 12, he got a job at a wine bottling store and, as a result, developed an alcohol addiction. This went on until he was 28-years-old. Then, Venerable Matt Talbot went to confession and promised to stop drinking for three months.
  After the time was up, he took a lifelong pledge to give up alcohol and he kept that promise.  He went to Mass daily, worked hard as a laborer, and constantly prayed. Venerable Matt Talbot joined the Franciscan Third Order in 1890.
  His bed was a plank and he used a piece of timber for a pillow. He was known for his piety and charity.  Still, it wasn't until his death on June 7, 1925 from a fatal heart attack that people took notice. Perhaps because penitential chains were found on his body.
  Venerable Matt Talbot is buried in Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Dublin.  He was venerated on Oct. 3, 1975.

Friday, September 24, 2010

St. Mungo (c.518 to Jan. 13, 614)

I won't eat salmon, but I will write about its patron, St. Mungo (also known as St. Kentigern).
He was born c.518 in Culross in Fife, Scotland. His mother was a princess and he was raised by St. Serf in a monastery.
At age 25, St. Mungo started work as a missionary at Cathures (modern day Glasgow). Around 540, he became a bishop. St. Mungo moved to Wales and founded a monastery in Llaneluy. He was friends with St. Columba.
Evenutally, St. Mungo returned to Scotland. He is considered the founder of Glasgow. He died there on Jan. 13, 614. St. Mungo is also the patron saint of Glasgow and his feast day is Jan. 13.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

St. Erhard of Regensburg (7th century)

"A pair of shoes can change your life. Just ask Cinderella."

   One day while we were at my mother's friend Paula's beach house in Snug Harbor, I met an old woman, who used a walker and could barely speak. When we got home that night, my mother told me that the woman was Paula's mother, Mrs. B. and she had gone to elementary school with my grandfather around 1915.
  Mrs. B. came from a wealthy Protestant family and she rode a horse and buggy to school. She used to make fun of my grandfather because he was an Italian immigrant who didn't have much money. Mrs. B. particularly made fun of his worn shoes.
  My grandfather became a United States citizen in the 1920s and graduated with a degree in architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design. He became a registered architect and a contractor.
  My grandfather was always polite to Mrs. B. even after she became senile and didn't know her own name.  And he never mentioned anything to me about her insulting his worn shoes. But, it always stuck in my mind because even today, people are judged by their appearance. Shoes are something that people tend to notice first. However, when my grandfather was a kid, it was a pretty serious thing.
  Today, at work, a leather strap snapped off a pair of my high heel shoes. Since, I love them, I thought I'd take the to a cobbler. Then, I decided I'd buy a new pair at lunch.
   One might say, I was multi-tasking in the car because I also called my optometrist to make an appointment for later in the afternoon. For the past couple of days, my eyes have been burning.
  Not that my day was so exciting, because I just doing mundane things. Yet, I did discover something pretty cool that makes it easy for me to tie in my days activities. There is a patron saint of cobblers and shoemakers who is also a patron saint against eye problems and eye disease.
   His name is St. Erhard of Regensburg. It is thought that he was born in Ireland in the 7th century, then moved to Germany. He was a missionary bishop. St. Erhard of Regensburg died c.686 and his feast day is January .

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

St. Germaine Cousin (1579 to 1601)

A newborn baby boy was found naked and shivering in an East Boston trashed-filled alleyway two days ago. Abandoned by his 18-year-old mother, neighbors heard his cries late at night.
Since then, the mother was found and she and baby are recovering in Massachusetts General Hospital.
Police are asking that people not point fingers at the teenager because the case is still under investigation. But, how can one not? What she did was deplorable. And even if she does get psychiatric help and is able to keep the baby, she'd probably abuse him in other ways.
St. Germaine Cousin is the patron saint of abandoned children and abuse victims. She was born in Pibrac, France in 1579. Her mother died when she was a baby and her father remarried.
St. Germaine Cousin was openly abused, beaten, and starved by her step family. She slept on a bed a hay in a stable because she was not allowed in the house.
Like the baby in East Boston, she was treated worse than an animal. In time, St. Germaine Cousin found God. He was her only friend and she asked him to keep her safe and to help her not feel hungry.
As I write this, it makes me feel like a pig to think about the abundance of delicious food that I ate today.
St. Germaine Cousin went to daily Mass and the scraps of food she was given, she shared with beggars. She also tended sheep.
By the time her family realized what a wonderful, loving, and faithful person she was, her father found her dead body in the bed of hay. She was 22-years-old.
Forty years later, in 1641, St. Germaine Cousin's body was exhumed. It was incorrupt. She was canonized in 1867 and her feast day is June 15.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

St. Medard (c.456 to June 8, 545)

"There is a harmony in autumn."
(Percy Bysshe Shelley)

It's the autumnal equinox. I especially like this time of year since the days are warm and the nights are cool. It's a feeling that reminds me of picking Macoun apples and finding the biggest pumpkin that I'll save for the next five weeks and carve on Halloween night.
The closest saint to the autumnal equinox that I could think of is St. Medard, the patron saint of harvests. He was born in Salency, Picardy, France c.456. He worked as a preacher and missionary.
St. Medard was named the bishop of Vermandois in 530. The reason he is associated with harvests is that as a young boy while he was out a walk there was a huge rainstorm. Just when he thought there was no place to take shelter, an eagle flew above and covered him like an umbrella.
St. Medard died on June 8, 545 and his feast day is June 8.

Monday, September 20, 2010

St. Emily de Rodat (Sept. 6, 1787 to Sept.19, 1852)

So many authors and poets are "discovered" after their deaths, with Emily Dickinson being a prime example. However, rarely do you hear about it with the saints.
And, yet, there is another Emily, whose diary found after her passing, revealed that she was a mystic with tremendous healing powers.
St. Emily de Rodat was born in Rodez, Aveyron, France on Sept. 6, 1787. She was raised by her grandmother and became a school teacher. She devoted much of her time to teaching poor children who otherwise would not have had the chance to be educated. She also helped young women and prisoners.
St. Emily de Rodat founded an order which became the Religious Congregation of the Holy Family of Villefranche. She died in Villefranche, Ayeron on Sept. 19, 1852. Canonized: 1950. Her feast day is Sept. 19.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

St. Hilary of Poitiers (c.300 to c.368)

As I mentioned in yesterday's blog entry, I found a neat little book at a library sale on Block Island called "The Mystery and Magic of Trees and Flowers" by Lesley Gordon (1985). And from what I've read, roses are not the only flowers associated with saints.
The barren strawberry is the plant of St. Hilary of Poitiers. He was born in Gaul (Poitiers, France) c.300 to pagan parents. He married and had children. After reading the bible, St. Hilary converted and was made bishop of Poitiers from 353 to 368.
He introduced Eastern theology to the Western Church. He died c.368 and his feast day is Jan. 13.
St. Hilary of Poitiers was named a Doctor of the Church in 1851 and he is the patron saint against snake bites.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

St. Swithin (c.800 to July 2, 862)

"In this month of St. Swithin's Day,
On which, if it rain, they say
Full forty days after it will
Or more or less, some rain distill."
(from "Poor Robin's Almanac," 1697)

I never know where saintly inspiration will pop up, so I'm glad I waited until the day's end to write this entry. At the Island Free Library perpetual book sale on Block Island, I found a nifty and musty book called "The Mystery and Magic of Trees and Flowers" by Lesley Gordon (1985).
In the chapter on saints and their seasons, she writes about specific feast days and flowers. Since I found it to be interesting, I'll devote two blog entries to this.
St. Swithin (or St. Swithun) is a patron saint of weather and his flower is the Cape marigold.
He was a bishop born in Winchester, Hampshire, England c.800. Most of the legends associated with him came after his death on July 2, 862. Just before St. Swithin died, he asked to be buried outdoors rather than in the cathedral so that rain drops would fall on his grave.
The monks complied. Then, more than a century later, a new group of monks decided St. Swithin needed a proper burial and attempted to bring his body inside. When they tried, it rained heavily for forty days. So, they let him be because they believed it was St. Swithin's tears and hence was born the belief that if it rained on his feast day (July 15), it would continue for forty days and nights thereafter.

Friday, September 17, 2010

St. Joseph Calasanctius (Sept. 11, 1556 to Aug. 25, 1648)

"Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what is still possible."
(Pope John XXIII)

A co-worker, "Frank", stops by my desk each morning to say hello and tell me about his latest endeavor: the possibility of moving to Vermont to go to graduate school. He's a graphic designer where I work, but he's also an artist and sculptor. "Frank" has been talking about this since June and he finally went to check out the school last weekend.
Now, he's psyched to go, but also has apprehensions. What "Frank" has told me about himself is that he's 47-years-old, lives with his parents, and hasn't been involved with anyone since 1991 when he drank too much and slept with his best friend's girlfriend.
And, as much as he likes to think he's too old to be going back to school, I think it's neat that he's pursuing something he's always dreamed of doing and finally breaking out on his own. In a way, it's like following a new career path.
When I mentioned to a mutual friend and co-worker, "Paul," that "Frank" might be leaving the company next year, he said, "Oh, is that when the spaceship finally arrives?"
Today, Frank told me that he's not sure if he should enroll for next February or September 2011 and that he's also fearful of cold Vermont winters.
I said, "Go there as soon as you can! Don't put it off because you will always find an excuse. Apply for February."
St. Joseph of Calasanctius is a patron saint of schools, universities, and students. He was born in Aragan, Spain on Sept. 11, 1556. He founded the Pious Schools and the Order of the Piarists.
St. Joseph of Calasanctius was also good friends with Galileo. He died in Rome, Italy on Aug. 25, 1648 and his feast day is Aug. 25.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blessed Sibyllina Biscossi (1287 to 1367)

My friend, April, who's a renowned psychic medium, suggested I write about "loss" in my blog today and, although I appreciate her advice, what I write about is driven by day to day encounters or random thoughts. Indeed, there are many forms of loss, but how many times can I write about death or dying?
Then, later this evening, when I met my friend, Lily, so I could give her a baby basket filled with gifts (she's due next year), April's energy was around me as the topic of loss came into play.
Lily is always happy and kind despite her many losses including her dad dying on Christmas Eve when she was 8-years-old and that her ex-boyfriend, the father of her child, is no longer in her life.
And, yet, Lily continues on each day, working hard at her job (another loss is that her contract is up soon) and bringing inspiration to those around her through her carefree spirit and enthusiasm for life.
I made a conscious decision not to write about loss and yet it found it's way into my blog anyway.
Blessed Sibyllina Biscossi (also known as Blessed Sibylline of Pavia) is the patron saint of loss of parents and children whose parents are not married. She was born in Pavia, Italy in 1287.
She was orphaned as a baby and adopted by Dominican tertiaries. At age 12, she went blind. After praying to St. Dominic for a cure and never regaining her sight, she decided it was her fate. And so, at age 15, Blessed Sibyllina Biscossi decided to live as a hermit locked away in a cell for the rest of her life.
Her devotion to the Holy Ghost was felt through the many miracles she performed. People made pilgrimages to her cell so that they might be healed.
Blessed Sibyllina Biscossi died in 1367. Her body is incorrupt. Her feast day is March 23 and she was beatified in 1854.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

St. Maurus (512 to Jan. 15, 584)

I don't believe men and women can be friends without there being some type of sexual tension or attraction from one or both parties. I see it at work and I see it with friends.
As for myself, I've never been a flirt. So, I think I'm excluded from this, because I was always the one who didn't a feel connection with my friends of the opposite sex.
When I was younger, I had several gay male friends who were helpful when it came time to go clothes shopping or try a new hairstyle. They also gave good dating advice, much like a girlfriend, but minus the cattiness.
And I was always leery of boyfriends with female friends who didn't want to include me in whatever it was that they were doing. Because, as we all know, friendship can lead to something more.
When I was a journalist at a daily newspaper some years ago, I became very close with a police sergeant named "Ken." He was polite, helpful, and well groomed and he wasn't at all like many officers who have an attitude about them.
I didn't know Ken was married until he called me one day from a camping trip and mentioned he was with his children. I checked it out further with my editor (who knew him from high school) and she said he had a wife. So from that moment on, I told myself any attraction I had for him was completely gone. But, we continued to be very good friends.
Ken supervised second shift and we were in contact every day. We trusted each other and worked on everything together from the arrest log to solving 10-year-old murder cases. It was always professional,
until one day, when Ken showed up in the newsroom dressed in plain clothes. I didn't even recognize him at first. He said he wanted to talk to me, so I took him into the office of the seniors editor who was gone for the day and closed the door.
"You are driving me wild," he said, as he pushed his body toward mine up against the wall.  "I can't take it any longer. Look at you. You're smart and you're beautiful."
I was 36-years-old at the time and, yes, I was smart, and beautiful, but I also knew better. I could have gone for it and had sex right there on the office couch with him. But, I also thought about my cousin who was involved with a married man who never left his wife and she warned me early on about the consequences. And, like myself, she was the one who was being pursued.
At this point, we had worked together for more than a year. Ken was born in the Azores, was a devoted husband and father, and had St. Michael the Archangel tattooed on his arm.
When Ken mentioned the overgrown pine trees in my yard and gave a description of my house, I realized he'd done a drive by. I was more shocked than flattered, afterall he was a police sergeant.
As he continued to profess his passion for me, I walked over to the desk and sat down. He leaned over me, and I pushed him out of my reach. Ken apologized and then we started talking about an unsolved crime.
In the weeks and months that followed, Ken would call me and arrange to meet at my house and then cancel.
For the rest of my time at the newspaper, he thought he was playing a game of cat and mouse with me. Surprisingly, I'm the one that had their act together.
Growing up in a Portuguese neighborhood, I know that the culture has a strong devotion to the Holy Ghost (I actually have one tattooed on my lower back) and St. Maurus is the patron saint of the Azores.
He was born in Rome, Italy in 512. His parents were noble Romans and they brought him to live at a monastery run by St. Benedict of Nursia. St. Maurus was his first disciple.
He lived at Monte Cassino Abbey in Cassino and in 543 was founder and abbot of Glanfeuil, France. He died on Jan. 15, 584 and his feast day is Oct. 5.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

St. Thomas More (Feb. 7, 1478 to July 6, 1535)

"An enchanted world is one that speaks to the soul, to the mysterious depths of the heart and imagination where we find value, love, and union with the world around us. As mystics of many religions have taught, that sense of rapturous union can give a sensation of fulfilment that makes life purposeful and vibrant."
(St. Thomas More)

I was at an outdoor festival a couple of weeks ago and had just finished a second glass of white wine, when I was approached by a politician running for attorney general in my state. It turns out, "Mike" and I grew up on the same street and he was a year behind me in school.
When he asked for my vote, I replied, "I remember when the helicopters used to hover over your yard looking for pot plants."
My comment may have been out of line, but I don't trust politicians and felt "Mike" should know that I did remember him, although not in the highest regard.
Still, his response took me by surprise when he said, "Marilyn, you're absolutely right."
Now, two weeks later, I've had time to think about it. Had I voted in today's primary elections, it would have been for "Mike". It's not his fault he was raised by pot smoking hippies in an unruly environment, and I don't recall him excelling as a student. But, he started off at a community college then graduated from a highly acclaimed university eventually earning a law degree.
The whole time I've known "Mike", he's always been respectful, kind, and never had a bad word to say about anyone. That's more than I can say about myself.
St. Thomas More is the patron saint of politicians and lawyers. He was born in London, England on Feb. 7, 1478. He married and had four children. After being widowed, he married again.
St. Thomas More studied law at Oxford University and was friends with Henry VIII who made him Lord Chancellor in 1529. Several years later he resigned because he didn't agree with Henry's views on marriage and the Pope.
Since St. Thomas More refused to render allegiance to the King as head of the Church of England, he was tried and convicted of treason in 1535. He was beheaded on July 6, 1535. Canonized: 1935.
St. Thomas More's feast day is June 22.

Monday, September 13, 2010

St. Benezet (c.1163 to 1184)

My aunt's friend, Betty, who is a 68-year-old widow, is extremely upset because her 94-year-old boyfriend isn't ready for a serious relationship. He wants to leave his options open.
I could see if the guy were 40-years-old and still sowing his oats. But, what person at that age has the audacity to treat a wonderful woman this way? She's ready, willing, and able to become his wife and he just won't hear it.
Betty is a sweetheart. She always reminded me of a nun, although she is Jewish. I think she met her boyfriend at temple. He currently lives in a nursing home. She has her own house.
I'm not a relationship expert, but I'd like to tell Betty to move on. It's just not worth it. And, this man, whoever he is, will never change. He probably was always a commitment phobic. God forbid if he were married to Betty and then met the "right" woman. He'd have a two good years with the her!
In his honor, I'd like to recognize St. Benezet: a patron saint of bachelors. He was born in Savoy, France c.1163. As a young shepherd boy, a apparition told him to build a bridge at Avignon while an angel tended his sheep.
St. Benezet obliged. In time, he performed at least 18 miracles so that the blind could see, deaf could hear, and crippled could walk.
St. Benezet is also known as St. Benedict the Bridge-Builder and he is the founder of the Bridge-Building Brotherhood. When he died in 1184, he was buried within the Avignon bridge. However, after a flood in 1669 removed part of it, including his coffin, it was discovered that St. Benezet's body was incorrupt. His relics are now in the Celestine church of St. Didier. His feast day is April 14.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

St. Andrew the Apostle (1st century)

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
"Come, follow me," Jesus said. "and I will make you fishers of men."
At once they left.
(St. Mark 1:17)

Being a double Pisces, with my sun and moon in that sign (like Michelangelo and Blessed Jacinta Marto), I love magical, mystical, watery things. So when I saw The Legend of Fairy Melusine: An Opera in Progress by Steven Jobe, last evening, I didn't want it to end.
In European folklore, Melusine is a woman who is part serpent or fish and lives around springs or rivers. She falls in love with a mortal named Rainmondin. The story was based on the version by Jean d'Arras.
The voices of Melusine and her sisters, Palatine and Melior, were exquisite and I was entranced by the puppetry. But, this isn't an opera review. It is to say that opera doesn't have to be stuffy. It can bring enchantment to our lives in unexpected ways.
St. Andrew the Apostle is the patron saint of singers. He was born in Bethsaida in the first century. He was a fisherman who was a disciple of St. John the Baptist before realizing that Jesus was the son of God.
St. Andrew the Apostle is said to be one of the disciples closest to Jesus. He preached throughout the Ukraine, Russia, and Romania and is also a patron saint of those places.
When St. Andrew the Apostle was martyred by crucifixion, his request to be bound to the Cross (not nailed because he felt he didn't deserve a death like Jesus) was granted. Some of St. Andrew the Apostle's relics, including his head, are kept at his cathedral in Amalfi, Italy. His feast day is Nov. 30.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

St. Paulinus of Nola

There are many efforts to feed the poor in Rhode Island and I got to take part in one today called Singing Out Against Hunger. I didn't think about it at the time, but as I write this, it seems almost ironic that it took place at a restaurant, Evelyn's Drive In in Tiverton, where people stuffed themselves with clamcakes and fish and chips.
The scenery was calm and serene, as it was set on the water, which was hardly a place of discomfort. But, then, I guess musicians and diners shouldn't have to feel hunger pangs in order to participate.
The organization was founded in 2003 "to provide nutritious food for our neighbors in need and raise awareness of their ongoing plight." Its work should be applauded.
Yet, times never seem to change. Where there are people, there will be hunger.
St. Paulinus of Nola gave all his riches to the poor. He was born to a wealthy Roman family in Bordeaux, France. He became a lawyer and married a woman of Spanish nobility. They lived a privileged life until the death of their one-week old son in 390.
It changed St. Paulinus of Nola forever. He was baptized a Christian and gave away his home, property, and fortune to the poor and the Church.
In 393, he was ordained a priest then moved to Naples, Italy to be near the tomb of St. Felix of Nola, whom he greatly admired. St. Paulinus of Nola continued to give his money to the poor.
Among his many contributions, he built a basilica, a hospital, and an aqueduct. He was named the bishop of Nola in 409. St. Paulinus of Nola was friends with saints Augustine, Jerome, Martin of Tours, and Ambrose. He died in Caltanisetta, Italy on June 22, 431.

Friday, September 10, 2010

St. Hallvard (c.1020 to c.1043)

"Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one."
(Marcus Aurelius)

At the monthly arts and culture event AHA! in New Bedford, Mass. last evening, I spent some time with a Norwegian couple I've known for several years. And, the more I get to know them, I see positive qualities that I would like to improve in myself. To be more patient, less stressed, and kinder to people, to name a few.
This is something that should be done on a daily basis. Being true to oneself is the best way to have a sound conscience. In order to do this, I've decided to live a more virtuous life filled with integrity.
Today's saint is also Norwegian.
St. Hallvard is the patron of protection of virtue. He was born c.1020 in Norway to a royal family. He lived a short life and became a saint for the way he died.
St. Hallvard was about to cross the Drammenfjord when a pregnant woman, wrongly accused of theft, begged to join him on his boat because she feared she would be killed. Since they didn't leave in enough time, the pursuants arrived and asked St. Hallvard to let the woman go. He refused saying that she was innocent.
They were both killed with a bow in c.1043. The woman was buried there on the beach and a millstone was tied to St. Hallvard who was then thrown into the sea. His body floated and was enshrined in Christ Church in Oslo, Norway.
St. Hallvard is remembered as an honorable young man and feast day is May 15.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

St. Pirmin (c.700 to Nov. 3, 753)

As I biked down the street at twilight yesterday, I recognized the familiar smell of Concord grapes in the breeze. I also saw a black and white domesticated rabbit slip away into a grove.
So, after my ride was finished, I returned to the spot with a plastic bag and a mission.
A woman walking by introduced herself as my neighbor, Pat, and said that the grapes were delicious and the exact kind used to make Manischewitz wine. She said that they were also growing along the bike path in South Kingstown and I might as well pick as many as I could since the wild turkeys would end up eating them.
I went across the street to the rabbit hollow that is surrounded by grapes vines and thought about how I'd never seen that type of grape before.
When I got home, I looked them up online and found out they were toxic pokeberries (note for consumption).
I hadn't eaten any. I just hope that Pat didn't give the same words of advice to neighorhood children.
The Concord grapes I was smelling may have been located further into the wooded area.
St. Pirmin is a patron saint against poisoning. He was born in Spain c.700 and thought to be a Benedictine monk. Most information about him shows that his work had a strong Celtic influence or that he was of Irish descent.
St. Pirmin is the founder of the monastery of Reichenau-Pirminius. He wrote a book of theology and ethics against superstition. He died in Hornbach, Germany on Nov. 3, 753 and his feast day is Nov. 3.

(Happy Birthday, Blessed Virgin Mary!)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

     Of the thousands of saints whose feast days are celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church, just two are birthdays: the Blessed Virgin Mary (Sept. 8) and St. John the Baptist (June 24).
    So, it's quite interesting to me, that my friend, Jere, who is part atheist and part agnostic shares a birthday with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
    "I don't believe Jesus was anything like people say. It's common sense," said Jere, when I asked him the reason for his beliefs.  "The stuff they said he did people can't do. These were stories written by people and passed on. I think it's still fiction."
   Jere said that religion was made up by humans, who didn't know the answers to certain questions, so that people wouldn't be afraid or, in some cases, to keep them afraid. But, what about miracles? Jere said they just happen. It's not the doings of a higher power.
  Jere is an intelligent guy, has written successful mystery novel, and has one of the most popular Red Sox blogs in the world.
    "I do believe living things are connected," Jere noted. "Like all the life around us, trees, animals, etc, we're all part of the same system, all that bullshit. I think there's a better chance we can change things with the power of thought than that some invisible god can change things."
    Am I wrong for believing in the Blessed Virgin Mary? She was conceived without sin (Immaculate Conception) as a special grace from God who selected her to be the mother of his Son. Her parents were Joachim and Anna.
    The house where she was born in Nazareth is said to be where the Annunciation took place. And through legend we know that the house is now in Loreto, Italy, hence Our Lady of Loreto.
   To me, it is comforting to think of the Virgin Mary when I miss family members who have passed on. It provides hope.
   Jere explained that he has his own theories about death and that most people believe the same thing, but interpret it differently.
  "What they call a soul, I call a conscience," he added. "It's what you perceive. In your mind, as you're dying, life stretches into infinity. These religious people rely on a Heaven that is beautiful. Why can't my way be beautiful? The memories that you have of a person who dies stay here and I think that's a beautiful thing."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

St. Cassian of Imola (? to Aug. 13, 363)

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
(Henry Brooks Adams)

We all have a favorite teacher who gave us the confidence to follow our dreams and reminds us of our childhood. Mine was my third grade teacher, Mrs. Donovan.
When I was 8-years-old, she told me that I could make a living as a writer if I went to college and studied English and creative writing (which I ended up doing because of her). I was ecstatic about that and, for the entire year in her class, I wrote short stories and plays that the students performed.
I was inspired by what she taught me and loved that language arts focused on the holidays and seasons. It was so much fun to go to school because Mrs. Donovan was my teacher.
Although she never talked about it much, she grew up in California and her father was a screenwriter who co-wrote "Leave it to Beaver," "The Munsters," and the Amos 'n' Andy radio show. She went trick-or-treating as a child at Frank Sinatra's house.
I often hear educators say that if they could make a difference in just one child's life, then their career as a teacher was worth it. I wish Mrs. Donovan knew that she had a profound influence on me.
St. Cassian of Imola (Italy) was a school teacher who refused to worship Roman gods so was sentenced to death by the emperor Julian the Apostate. The situation was unique in that St. Cassian of Imola's students were the ones who killed him and they did it eagerly since he had punished them on many occasions.
On Aug. 13, 363, St. Cassian of Imola was bound and stabbed to death. His feast day is Aug. 13 and he is a patron saint of teachers.

Monday, September 6, 2010

St. Anne Line (1567 to Feb. 27, 1601)

Whether it's by choice or not, the women I think would make the best mothers, don't have children. They are intelligent, caring individuals with many talents and interests.
In conversation one day, I heard a guy with kids say that people without children are selfish. In my opinion, it's quite the opposite.
When I was in high school, I knew a girl who had a child because she wanted to have something to call her own. One day, a woman told me she had five children because when she got old she'd have someone to take care of her. Yet another person said babies are cute. These are all selfish reasons to have a child, if you ask me.
An ex-boyfriend with children that used to talk about "mothers we'd like to f--k," comment on moms driving SUVs, and look at women in pregnancy magazines. He thought he was making me jealous, since I don't have children. Instead, he was reinforcing that I had nothing in common with him.
St. Anne Line is the patron saint of childless people. She was born in Essex, England in 1567 to a Calvinist family. She converted to Catholicism and married Roger Line.
St. Anne Line ran refuges that were used for hiding priests. When it was discovered, she was hanged on Feb. 27, 1601. She was canonized with the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970 and her feast day is Oct. 25.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Our Lady of Good Voyage

"They call her Our Lady of Good Voyage
She's a beacon for all to see,
In her arm is a boat, in her heart the soul
Of fishermen gone to sea."
(from "Our Lady of Good Voyage" by Michael O'Leary)

I sailed on the schooner Thomas E. Lannon in Gloucester (Mass.) outer harbor for an Irish music "cruise" yesterday afternoon, but the aftermath of Hurricane Earl made the water only a bit choppy. The scenery was beautiful and, from a distance, I could see Our Lady of Good Voyage Church surrounded by the purple twilight.
Today, I went there to photograph one of my favorite statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary which stands atop the church. She holds a ship in one hand and is a symbol of hope for a safe return home for the fishermen.
The church was built for the Portuguese immigrants who settled in Gloucester beginning in 1829 and the parish was founded in 1889.
The legend of Our Lady of Good Voyage tells of a fisherman sailing in the Atlantic Ocean who could not return home because one of his oars broke. He prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the rough sea calmed, and he made it home safely.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

St. Marguerite d'Youville (Oct. 15, 1701 to Dec. 27, 1771)

Numerous books, articles, and magazines are written about how to live life simply: destressing through yoga, cooking easy meals with healthy ingredients, eliminating clutter, enjoying nature, praying to Buddha or whatever is trendy at the time, and spending less money.
So, we continue to buy these types of reading materials hoping to learn something new, only to find the same topics rewritten in a variety of ways depending on the season. Besides, why do we have to be told how to do such things? If you want to live a simple life, learn about it through the lives of the saints.
You don't even have to go to church to do this.
I've found that the people I know who are the happiest or most fulfilled are the ones that have lived through tragedies. They always seem to be the most religious, too. Maybe what they experienced brought about a spiritual awakening. But, that's not the case for everyone.
In my own life, watching so many close relatives die has caused me to stay away from church because so much of the Mass talks about remembering the people who have passed on. I suppose I could deal with it, but then I start thinking about the pain and suffering I saw family members go through in order to get to this place called Heaven.
St. Marguerite d'Youville, the first Canadian-born Roman Catholic saint, survived extreme hardships yet through it all her love for God never ceased.
She was born Marie-Marguerite Dufrost de Lajemmerais on Oct. 15, 1701 in Varennes, Quebec. Her father died when she was a child and, at age 21, she married Francois d'Youville.
He was abusive, committed adultery, and sold liquor illegally to Indians in exchange for furs. By the time he died in 1730, St. Marguerite d'Youville had six children with him.
By age 30, she experienced the deaths of her father, husband, and four children. Her two surviving sons became priests.
St. Marguerite d'Youville founded the Order of Sisters of Charity of Montreal known as the Grey Nuns of Montreal.
She died on Dec. 27, 1771 and her feast day is Oct. 16. Canonized: 1990. She is the patron saint of difficult marriages, widows, and victims of unfaithfulness.

Friday, September 3, 2010

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne (Aug. 29, 1769 to Nov. 18, 1852)

"Humility is the virtue that requires the greatest amount of effort."
(St. Rose Philippine Duchesne)

I began writing this blog in January 2010 to show that even though a person might lead a very secular life, the saints can still serve to provide guidance at certain points along the way.
I also would like to help Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks, reach canonization and become the first Native American saint.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne was a missionary to Native Americans. She was born in Grenoble, France on Aug. 29, 1769 and educated by Visitation nuns.
She came to the United States in 1818 to the missions of America along with four other nuns. St. Rose Philippine Duchesne went from New Orleans to St. Louis before settling in St. Charles, Missouri.
She founded the Society of the Sacred Heart with St. Madeleine Sophie Barat and, in the United States, the first houses of the Society of the Sacred Heart.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne taught the Pottowatomies in Sugar Creek. They called her Woman-who-prays-always. She also worked in the Rocky Mountain missions and returned to St. Charles.
She helped in the plight of Native Americans to educate them and stop alcohol abuse, and cared for their sick and poor.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne died on Nov. 18, 1852. Canonized: 1988. Her feast day is Nov. 18.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

St. Pantaleon (? to c.305)

When I made the decision to get a divorce from my husband, Brian, at age 26, my mother insisted I see a neuropsychiatrist and literally get my head examined. It wasn't because she liked Brian, since she didn't, but my mother wanted to make sure I was okay.
The doctor she chose was a renowned Jewish physician and author who was affiliated with Brown University. I will call him Dr. B.
I put up a fight about going for counseling since I made the right decision to leave my marriage. So, my basic attitude throughout the six or so months of sessions was to disagree with whatever Dr. B. had to say, especially since he was the same religion as Brian.
I told him my goal was to forget my marriage ever took place and his advice was to always remember it like the Nat King Cole song "Unforgettable." That way, I'd be able to recognize red flags in future relationships and not make the same mistakes.
Each week I'd say to Dr. B., "If you're as brilliant as everyone says, diagnose me with something." But, he couldn't because there was nothing wrong with me.
Dr. B. suggested I try Dexedrine because I had so much energy and needed to calm down. To the average person, it would be like taking speed. I was skinny to begin with (and still am) and the medication made me not want to eat which reduced my weight to 93 pounds.
He also gave me reading materials to take home and discuss at the next session. I never did anything he told me to do and one day he took an uncontrollable yelling fit. When I mentioned the outburst to a family friend who was a psychologist that knew Dr. B. as a calm and demure professional, he thought it was incredible that I got him to snap.
From that day forward, I thought Dr. B. had serious problems. And it rang true in 1995 when a patient he was treating, who was also a psychiatrist, shot and killed a person at a convenience store in East Providence. Dr. B. somehow thought it was his fault so gave up counseling. Last I heard he was working in Boston.
One of the patron saints of physicians is St. Pantaleon. He was born in Nicomedia and was the physician to Emperor Maximian. He was a bachelor who lived a wild life as a pagan until he experienced grief and despair for his behavior so returned to the church.
He gave free medicial assistance to the poor and many of his cures and healings were accomplished through prayer.
St. Pantaleon is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. He was martyred for his beliefs by being nailed to a tree and beheaded c.305. On St. Pantaleon's feast day, July 27, it is said that a vial of his blood, kept as a relic in Ravello, turns to liquid and bubbles. He is also known in Italy to give winning lottery numbers in dreams.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

St. Verena (3rd century to 4th century)

When I helped a friend sell art and jewelry at the Labor & Ethnic Heritage Festival in Pawtucket today, I noticed there were so many low income, sick, or handicapped people wandering around. It's nice that they were there to enjoy the sights and sounds of the festival. Yet, it was terribly sad when they'd look at what we were selling and not be able to afford it although prices were drastically reduced.
After one woman was about to buy a heart-shaped stone and silver pendant that she desperately wanted and her husband told her she couldn't because she didn't have a job, I thought about how she must have felt.
Who was I to complain that I don't get enough sleep or that I have to do laundry or that the hot water heater is busted and I have to take a cold shower for just once in my life? I have a job and make decent money.
Most people don't want a handout, but I thought I should ask her what she could afford and make up the difference. By the time I had thought of it, she was at another table, so I went over and told her my idea.
She handed me a $10 bill and thanked me sincerely for making her day. She said she would wear the pendant all the time.
I talked to vendors and patrons at the festival and learned that many had either been recently laid off or didn't have jobs. And, unfortunately, maybe I had to hear such things to be a little more thankful for what I have.
St. Verena is a patron saint of the poor and sick. She was born in Egypt in the 3rd century. Along with St. Maurice and St. Victor, she joined the Theban Legion and its mission in what is modern day Switzerland. When the two saints and other members of the organization were martyred, St. Verena moved to the area near Zurich and became a hermit.
She prayed and performed miracles, but also assisted young girls in their spirituality. When word got out about what she was doing, St. Verena was arrested and thrown in prison. Then, St. Maurice appeared to her in a vision.
She was released and continued to work miracles helping the poor and sick. St. Verena fed them and cleaned them. She died in the 4th century in Switzerland and her feast day is today.

(Happy Birthday, Uncle Vinnie! Sept. 1, 1936 to Jan. 11, 1981)