An excerpt by the Trinitarians
Less than a century after her passing, the Church declared Anna Maria Taigi Blessed on May 30, 1920, in testimony to how an ordinary housewife and mother could become a saint and positively affect society and the lives of those who came in contact with her. She achieved her sanctification through her spirit of the Christian mission and compliance with God's will. Her great dedication to daily Mass, complete surrender to God , readiness to help anyone in need, and active involvement in the Third Order of the Most Holy Trinity were significant sources of her devout and joyous spiritual life.
As one of the greatest mystics of the last century, Anna Maria Taigi was born in Siena, Italy in 1769. At the age of 20, she married Domenico Taigi, the Chigi porter. But their marriage was difficult at times, as Domenico angered easily and often struggled with excessive drinking. Although financial problems kept the family on the verge of destitution and three of their children died early, Anna Maria's patience with her husband calmed his temper, and they became so devoted to each other that their children that the household was filled with much laughter. Poverty intensified the family's dependence on God, and their joyfulness abounded from Anna Maria's prayerfulness, faith, and deep love for God.
Prayer of a Catholic wife and mother
Lord God, bless my family. Make it a beautiful image of the Trinity. Inspire my husband to imitate your compassion and mercy. Let him be a humble servant who seeks only your glory and the good of our loved ones. Let him be a good guide, protector, provider, and - most of all - a builder for our holy lives. As head of our family, Lord, give him a loving heart that may never be domineering over those you have placed under his care.
Inspire me, Lord, with a deep realization of my role as the heart of my family. Give me, as you gave Anna Maria Taigi, the fortitude to be an example of self-sacrifice and a means of reconciliation. Let me display the gentleness of Jesus and the love of the Holy Spirit. Give me the gift of wisdom, so that I may have the special intuition to discern your will in difficult family situations. Let me be a pillar of strength to my husband and a source of understanding to my children.
Inspire, O Lord, my children to be thoughtful and loving toward me and their father, and may they be disposed to learn from the experience and the wisdom from their elders. Grant, dear Lord, that my family may stay together throughout self-sacrificing love, that every member be healthy and successful, that each be able to face any problem with courage and grow in your grace through prayer and trust in you. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Source: The Trinitarians - founded in 1198 to redeem slaves - are an Order of priests and brothers who work among God's people as parish priests, missionaries, chaplains in prisons and hospitals, educators, friends of the left out, the less fortunate, and all those whose faith is in danger.
By: Amy Smith - National Catholic Register
I have been to the National Shrine of St. Thérèse in Darien, Ill., several times, and each time there is always something new to see and learn about the Little Flower.
Relics of her life are on prominent display — everything from furniture and clothing to toys (a little teacup) and schoolwork (a well-drawn map of North America), as well as lovely handwritten notes in French. Her first Communion preparation book is also there for the faithful to see.
And now, there is a new addition: Visitors can see a replica of her convent room. The room, dedicated in June, includes originals from Lisieux’s Carmelite convent, including the tiles outside Thérèse’s door where she walked each day, the door frame and door from her room, plus the window from the chapter room where she professed her vows. The window in her room is also original: She looked out at the Carmel garden through this window more than 100 years ago.
This room was where she wrote her autobiography, Story of a Soul. A small stool with a copy of the manuscript illustrates this point. I was struck by its simplicity when I saw it recently. The space is simple and prayerful — just like its former occupant.
Daily Mass at the shrine is a lovely oasis in the midst of a busy work week; Mass on Thérèse’s feast day, Oct. 1, is crowded with faithful coming to honor her.
I especially love the roses etched into the glass doors and rose-adorned windows in the shrine’s chapel. They are a beautiful reminder of the saint’s dying promise: "I feel that my mission is about to begin, my mission of making others love God as I love him, my mission of teaching my little way to souls. If God answers my requests, my heaven will be spent on earth up until the end of the world. Yes, I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth."
Thérèse lived in 19th-century France, but her wisdom is so needed in 21st-century America. Serving God in her "little way," doing ordinary things with extraordinary love, is exactly what this world needs more of.
St. Thérèse is the epitome of a life lived out of love for others. She befriended a fellow nun who was often unkind to her because she recognized Christ in that woman. She always did even the littlest things with great love, an example we should all strive to follow. She was a beautiful witness of faith to her family and Carmelite sisters while she was alive, and, since her death in 1897 — 115 years ago this year — she has showered literal and spiritual roses upon many souls, including my family and friends, as well as myself. Little Flower, pray for us!
-Amy Smith is the Register’s associate editor.
By: Teresa Manion
Reading St. Faustina’s Diary is a process, one that I am still far from completing, but one that is none-the-less inspiring and thought provoking. In paragraph 411 of her diary, St. Faustina writes, “I know that I am united with Him as closely as a drop of water is untied with the bottomless ocean.”
I read this sentence a few days ago and it stood out to me because as a biology major, I am constantly re-learning the importance of water. All living organisms require water in order to live, so it makes perfect sense that God is the boundless ocean, the endless source of life. On Earth, water does not remain in the same place; however, it cycles throughout the Earth and various forms and locations. The majority of the water on Earth is located in the ocean, but it is also found in smaller concentrations in locations all over the world. Water is in the sky as atmospheric water, in ice caps and snow, and in rivers, streams, and lakes.
While thinking about the sentence from St. Faustina’s diary and what I know about water, I came up with an analogy. In this analogy, the ocean is the bottomless ocean of God that St. Faustina alluded to. This ocean is composed of all of the faithful – those on Earth who are still learning but are united with Christ and the faithful in heaven. Only a small portion of the water on earth is in the atmosphere as water vapor, but this is composed of those who are currently receiving the sacrament of reconciliation (or are about to have their sins forgiven). Once their sins are forgiven, they fall as rain back into the bottomless ocean of God. The water found in ice caps and snow represents those who have hardened their hearts against Christ and His endless love. None of these people should be considered lost however, because they still have the potential to melt and make their way to the bottomless ocean. Finally, the drops (people) who make up the streams, rivers, and lakes, are those who are on the path to Christ in some way, shape, or form. This group also includes those of other faiths who have recognized truth or truths of Catholicism but have yet to be introduced or instructed in the person of Christ.
Ultimately, Christ calls all humans, all drops of water, to enter into this boundless ocean that is Him in the fullness of the Trinity. And truly, who can resist the call to this unending source of love?
With many American universities starting the fall semester either this week or next, here are a few saints who can help you rock almost every course along the way!
Back to School saints, from A - Z
With more than 1,000 drought-stricken counties across 26 American states declaring a natural disaster this past Thursday, St. Fiacre may be a timely resource if your garden, flowers, or crops are struggling. To find out about the miracles God performed through his works, check out St. Fiacre's bio!
By: Lindsey Weishar
As young women, we have been blessed with a certain sensitivity within our nature, a sensitivity that attunes us to the feelings of others, and allows us to approach our friends with tenderness and gentleness. God has blessed us with the desire to share our hearts with one another, to empathize with feelings.
This sensitivity, though a beautiful gift to us, is often exploited by the media and the culture. The culture’s view is quite one-sided. Popular movies portray sensitivity as a need to pour out many emotions. And these feelings can be anything from elation to despair. A girl might be inconsolably crying in one scene, and then passionately kissing a man in the next. Sensitivity from this standpoint can almost seem like a lapse in self control. Our culture presents sensitivity in extremes. Many movies are a culmination of scene after scene of heightened emotion, and therefore the view of reality is distorted. This beautiful part of our nature is reduced to merely a way to make us more appealing to the opposite sex.
In response to our culture’s image of the female, there seems to be a general insecurity among women especially among those who feel they must fit society’s standards of flawlessness and physical beauty. The “norm” also encompasses the emotions. We often do not see women acting emotionally chaste in movies, like say Titanic, and the message is that in order to win friends, to get the guy of our dreams, we must put ourselves out there emotionally, make ourselves vulnerable, to feel something. Perhaps it is the feeling that for some of us validates an experience. And it also leads us into the realm of trying to interpret what others, especially the young men in our lives, meant when he said this, or was implying with that comment. As I said before, the danger is that we begin to tend toward something other than reality and toward a time other than the present moment.
Thank goodness then for beautiful bright lights amid the confusing dimness of our culture. One of these models of the proper way to use our gift of sensitivity is St. Therese of Lisieux. St. Therese is a woman who for half of her life struggled with oversensitivity. The slightest criticism could bring her to tears. As a child, she struggled with a bout of scrupulosity, a heightened sensitivity to sin in one’s life. When she was thirteen, a miraculous event occurred in her life. One Christmas Eve, she came home and heard her father say something that would usually have caused her to begin weeping, but instead of crying, she came into the room smiling, describing the moment in this way: “In a moment, Jesus had done what I had been trying to do for years….” (Story of a Soul).
This moment was not a cure for St. Therese’s sensitivity, but instead a help with her oversensitivity. Sensitivity was one of God’s gifts to Therese, and this gift is manifested in her writing (especially in her autobiography, Story of a Soul, and in her poems- see a book called The Poetry of St. Therese of Lisieux) and in her way of life. I am struck by her words, which I am told are even more beautiful in the original French. She sees the gift God has given her in her sensitive nature: “He [God] has surrounded me with love all my life; the first things I can remember are tender smiles and caresses, and while surrounding me with all this love, He gave me a warm and sensitive heart to respond to it” (Story of a Soul). And her sensitivity manifested itself in what brought her joy. She took delight in nature, and saw God there, comparing souls to flowers in God’s heavenly garden: “He opened the book of nature before me, and I saw that every flower He has created has a beauty of its own, that the splendor of the rose and the lily’s whiteness do not deprive the violet of its scent or make less ravishing the daisy’s charm” (Story of a Soul).
With this more ordered idea of sensitivity, we may now ask, "What is beautiful about the sensitive soul?" So much! I think one of the gifts God gives to the sensitive soul is a realization of God in many places. We have noted that St. Therese found God in nature especially. It impressed her, and served as a metaphor for many of her thoughts. Just look at this simple stanza from her poem “Abandonment is the Sweet Fruit of Love”: “Above the clouds / The sky is always blue. / One touches the shores / Where God reigns” (Stanza 17, The Poetry of St. Therese of Lisieux). And this realization of God may come in many different forms. Another person may find God in music; another may find God in the joy of cooking; another may find Him in spending time with another person.
There is also a creative wellspring that comes from the sensitive soul, and the results are beautiful. As an example, let’s take a one of the beautiful flowering trees, a mark of the springtime. From one person’s sensitivity, she may create a poem, from another, a song, still another, a painting. Another person may take a photograph, and share it with others. The beauty in each of these is that they are responses to God’s love, prayers in and of themselves, and they create the potential for one to share God’s love with others.
In our culture today, our womanhood is often skewed by a media that destroys the creative nature of sensitivity and uses it merely for consumer purposes, often to sell the body. If we truly wish to love ourselves and love those around us, I think we as young women in Christ should embrace this lovely gift from God, this gift of sensitivity, and allow God to use it to shape us into stronger women. We can do this by listening and responding to others with empathy, and also I think by highlighting in the young men around us the sensitivity that they themselves possess. God made men and women to complement each other. The young men we know also have been given the gift of sensitivity. Sadly our culture has buried this gift under the prevailing idea of the manly man, one who must be stoic in times of distress. Also, since their gift is made to complement ours, it is not the same as ours, nor always manifested in the same way as ours. By treating them, and our fellow sisters in Christ, with tenderness, while also respecting them through our own emotional chastity, we allow God to work through our natures to manifest His love for them. If we allow our Lord to work through us, like St. Therese did, He will do wondrous things with us. Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of sensitivity!
Jewish women demonstrate Shabbat rituals,
St. Paul, Minnesota, 1949
(What we Catholics need are some hats like those!)
By: Jessa Barniol
Ladies and gentlemen, live from Jerusalem, it's Friday night! That means that over in the U.S., you're chanting "T.G.I.F.!" and making weekend plans while the last of the work day or school day ticks away. Maybe your family is texting prospective movie times back and forth. Maybe your friends are calling you with transportation details for the party tonight. Maybe you're planning your party outfit in your head. You can almost taste that happy hour mojito! You can even almost hear the thump-thump-thump of the club music. This weekend is going to rock!
Meanwhile, over here in Jerusalem, our weekend has just begun, and it's definitely not rocking. Our whole city has ground to a halt. The streets are deserted of cars. The lights that are off will not be turned on again for 24 hours. And instead of the thump-thump-thump of party music, a silence. A stillness. The kind of quiet you can only get when pretty much every machine in the city is turned off.
And yet, I think our town has the right idea.
You may remember last Sunday's First Reading
, from the Old Testament: The Ten Commandments, as told to Moses by God himself in Exodus 20. Remember that third part, tucked in between not taking the Lord's name in vain and honoring your father and mother? "Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy." (Exodus 20:8-11)
Jewish tradition takes this commandment to what we Christians might perceive at first glance to be a bit extreme. But is it?
The Jewish sabbath, "Shabbat" in Hebrew, or "Shabbos" in Yiddish, begins at sundown on Friday night and ends when you can see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. And during that time, Jews are absolutely forbidden from creating anything new.
That doesn't sound so hard, you might say. But think of the sparks that make your car run. Think of the marks left behind by a writing pencil that weren't there before you wrote the note. Think of Friday night's dinner! All of these acts of creation are forbidden to a "shomer Shabbat," or Shabbat-observant Jew.
From sundown on Friday to after sundown on Saturday, Jews will not work, spend money, cook, write, operate any kind of machine, or do anything else
that creates something new or asserts control over their environment. That means no laptops. No TV. No cell phones! No light switches!
It also means that all businesses in town are closed. There is literally nothing to do for over 24 hours except spend time with family and good friends, make conversation, take a walk, have a nap… and go to the synagogue.
As a result, Fridays before the start of Shabbat are a wild rush of preparations. Friday mornings are a madhouse at the Shuk Mahane Yehuda, Jerusalem's open-air market. The prohibition on cooking means that most Jewish families will create some sort of slow-cooker meal or hearty stew on Friday afternoon that can be left on the stove, in a crockpot or on a hot plate for an entire day and eaten at mealtimes. (This is, presumably, where the stereotype of brisket-loving Jews comes from. You can cook a brisket for hours and it still tastes great!)
For observant Jews, the entire weekend revolves around going to the synagogue or the Western Wall on Friday night. Whole extended families walk along the now-deserted light rail tracks, pushing babies in strollers. And they're all dressed to the nines. Orthodox Haredi Jews, who dress in black-and-white business-attire-type clothing and distinctive matching hats every day of the week, really pull out all the stops for Shabbat. The men, depending on their sect, wear golden silk robes, huge cylindrical fur hats, or just their very best Sabbath suit. The women are wearing short, smart heels, freshly pressed blouses, pearls. They look like a million bucks.
Meanwhile, over in the U.S., some of us wear jeans with holes to church. That is, if we make it to church at all after a late night on Saturday. Our weekends revolve around partying or activities. When we spend time with family, the TV is almost always on. And Heaven forbid if we have to turn off our cell phones for one entire dinner conversation (or even one Mass!), or give up our cars for one day.
Perhaps our generation is too young to remember a simpler time, the so-called "Good Old Days." My relatives from the Deep South have mentioned a time when the single objective of a Sunday was putting on your Sunday Best and going to church. The rest of the day was spent with family, with friends, maybe sitting on the porch drinking iced tea. No work or chores were done on this day of rest.
And whatever happened to that "Sunday Best?" While endangered, you may still see it in some places. Sunday mornings in East Austin or Harlem, or some other area with a Gospel church or a large African-American population, will bring together families of grannies and mamas in heels and gravity-defying hats, sharp-dressed grandpas and daddies in suits, little girls in lace gloves and little boys in clip-on ties. Meanwhile, some Catholic women who wear mantilla veils during Mass do so simply because the act of wearing something special separates the Mass from everyday life.
The prohibition against performing creative acts or acts of work on the sabbath was lifted for us Christians by our savior, Jesus Christ, who proclaimed Himself "Lord of the Sabbath." (See Matthew 12
.) But there are still a few things we could learn from our Jewish brothers and sisters and their own particular brand of celebrating the Lord's day.
This Lent, why not try bringing a little bit of our Lord's earthly heritage into your own life? To be a better Catholic, act a little Jewish, at least when it comes to the Sabbath. Here are five ideas to bring back our Sunday Best, courtesy of the folks who do it on Friday nights.
- Put some thought into Sunday before it starts. Set out your clothes on Saturday night. Read the readings ahead of time. Plan a special meal. (If you really want to go all-out Shabbat-style, try a slow-cooker recipe – but not the pulled pork, because that's not kosher!) This weekend, don't let church be an afterthought. Let it be the cornerstone of your Sunday.
- Dress up for Mass. When you lay out your clothes, pick something nice. Something really special. Some nice heels, a pretty skirt, some new earrings. Maybe you don't have a gravity-defying hat or a silk robe, but find your own version of Sunday Best and wear it proudly. Easter is one day that nearly all Christians dress nicely for Church. (Remember Easter dresses and Easter bonnets?) In the Catholic Church, we believe that every Sunday is the "Lord's Day," a celebration of the Resurrection, a weekly Easter. So why not dress like it?
- Walk to church. My husband and I currently do this out of necessity, because public transportation also stops running on Shabbat. The Israeli work week begins on Sunday, so we go to Saturday evening Mass near the Old City (at the only Catholic Church with Mass in English). And we walk five kilometers (over three miles) to get there. But on the way, we talk, we re-center ourselves as a family, we become reconnected to the city around us in ways you never could by driving or taking the train. Perhaps try praying as you walk – bring a rosary or just thank God for the beautiful things you see along the way. On a purely practical note, if you're worried about walking in heels, wear sneakers and bring a large purse with a change of shoes. That's not what Jewish women do, but it's what I do! If your current living situation (stuck in suburban sprawl, no safe path to walk to church) makes this impossible, instead try arriving to church early. Maybe visit the Blessed Sacrament. Take some time to pray and re-center yourself.
- Turn off the machines and let work wait until Monday. Avoid all recreational machine use. If your job or classes allow it, leave the computer and the cell phone completely off all Sunday. Leave off the TV and go outside. Enjoy the spring weather. Enjoy your family and friends. Spend some time praying or reading your Bible or another good book. Maybe even take a short nap! Do you really need to check Facebook for the 10,000th time on the Lord's Day?
- Spend some (quality!) time with friends and family. That means no TV or movies. Don't go out to an establishment. Maybe invite some friends or family over for a special shared meal, or to play games, or just to talk. Bring back the dying art of conversation. Get on the floor and play with the little kids. Go outside and enjoy the Lord's creation. Have a picnic!
The irony is that, in prohibiting creative acts and not allowing the usual diversions, it turns out that getting through the Jewish Shabbat can be the most creative act of all. So get creative with the way you personally remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Who knows? You might even get a little bit of that Sunday Best back.
I'm Jessa, and I live in Jerusalem, in the land where Jesus lived. I'm an American Catholic girl and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. I'm a graphic designer, a crazy creative type, and a young wife to my best friend, the 6'3" Ecuadorean astrophysicist. I'm relatively new to the Church; I went through RCIA in college and became Catholic in 2006, and I'm still learning about the rich and beautiful tradition that is our faith. I also blog about my adventures in Jerusalem over at www.shalomsweethome.com