Author: Shirley Aaron

Feast Of Blessed Maria Teresa Fasce.

Feast Of Blessed Maria Teresa Fasce.

Maria Terese of Cascia was born in Torriglia, a small town near Genoa, Italy in 1881 to a middle-class family. Her parents had her baptized with the name Maria, but throughout her life, she was called “Marietta.”

Although Marietta lost her mother when she was eight, she was well looked after by her older sister. Religious values were taught at home and Marietta was enrolled in school where she did well. Marietta was lively and vivacious, and she responded well to instruction.

In Genoa, she attended the Augustinian parish of Our Lady of Consolation, a place where she would be greatly inspired to her life’s vocation as a nun. Marietta met her confessor there, Father Mariono Ferriello, who encouraged her to pursue her vocation. Marietta was also taught catechism there along with signing. She also learned extensively about St. Augustine, whose spirituality greatly influenced her.

The singular event, which influenced Marietta the most, however, was the canonization of St. Rita of Cascia. Pope Leo XIII canonized St. Rita on May 24, 1900. Along with the canonization, there were lectures, liturgical celebrations, and other events celebrating the life of St. Rita. This influenced Marietta to live a religious life.

Marietta had been contemplating a religious lifestyle for some time, but the canonization of St. Rita compelled her to announce her intentions to her family, who took the news badly. Marietta’s brothers were particularly negative about her decision. Still, Marietta was undeterred and she felt absolutely sure she wanted to enter the convent.

Marietta applied for admission to a Ligurian Augustinian monastery, but she was rejected, news which shocked and surprised her. The monastery’s abbess, Mother Giuseppina Gattarelli, explained she felt that Marietta, accustomed to life in the city, would not be able to handle the spartan rigors of a rural monastery. Still, Marietta was tenacious; she reapplied and was accepted in 1906.

Thus, in 1906, Marietta began her religious career. On Christmas night of 1906, Marietta was given her habit and one year later she took vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. The name, “Teresa Eletta” was given to her.

Unfortunately for Marietta (now Maria Teresa Eletta) she discovered a monastery in crisis. A group of seven young sisters from Visso who were much more relaxed in their practice than the older sisters created a generational crisis. The levity and laughter did little to promote Maria’s spiritual growth and disappointment and doubt began to develop in her mind. In June of 1910, Maria Theresa left the monastery to reexamine her decision.

However, Maria returned in May of 1911, more confirmed than ever. The following March, she made her solemn profession of the vows. She promptly protested the situation at the monastery by writing letters to the superiors. Impressed with her alacrity, she was soon appointed to Mistress of Novices in 1914. In 1917, she became Vicar, and in 1920 her sisters unanimously elected her Abbess. She would hold that position until her death in 1947.

Maria Teresa was remembered as a strict, but practical woman who was also very sweet to her community. She made clear to all that Jesus wants active, hard working brides, and that being such would be their duty. She rigidly observed the Augustinian Rule.

Despite her rigidity, her community remembered her for her great tenderness and friendliness. She was not considered a dictator, but a genuine spiritual leader with great charisma.

Maria Terese was also known for her great stamina. As abbess, she directed the construction of a new church for Saint Rita and a girl’s orphanage. This project consumed much of her tenure, and in fact, the church was not completed until several months after her death.

Maria Terese also spent much of her time in illness, suffering from painful afflictions. She suffered with a malignant tumor on her right breast and was compelled to undergo two surgeries. She referred to her tumor as “her treasure” and explained that it was the most beautiful gift which Jesus had given to her. She also suffered from asthma, diabetes, and circulatory problems which caused great pain in her feet. She became very overweight and had difficulty walking. Later in her tenure, her sisters had to carry her in a chair.

Despite her pain, she never complained about her illness and she never slowed the pace of her activity. Her condition has been compared to the suffering of Christ, which like Jesus, she bore with patience and reverence.

Maria Terese died on January 18, 1947. She was laid to rest in a crypt next to her beloved St. Rita. Pope John Paul beautified her in July 1997.

The Birth Of Jesus From The Visions Of Venerable Mary Of Agreda – Part 5.

The Birth Of Jesus From The Visions Of Venerable Mary Of Agreda – Part 5.

Continued

The sacred evangelist Luke tells us that the Mother Virgin, having brought forth her first begotten Son, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and placed Him in a manger. He does not say that She received Him in her arms from her virginal womb; for this did not pertain to the purpose of his narrative. But the two sovereign princes, archangel Michael and archangel Gabriel, were the assistants of the Virgin on this occasion. They stood by at proper distance in human corporeal forms at the moment when the incarnate Word, penetrating the virginal chamber by divine power, issued forth to the light, and they received Him in their hands with ineffable reverence. 

In the same manner as a priest exhibits the sacred host to the people for adoration, so these two celestial ministers presented to the divine Mother her glorious and refulgent Son. All this happened in a short space of time. In the same moment in which the holy angels thus presented the divine Child to his Mother, both Son and Mother looked upon each other, and in this look, She wounded with love, the sweet Infant and was at the same time exalted and transformed in Him. From the arms of the holy princes the Prince of all the heavens spoke to his holy Mother: 

“Mother, become like unto Me, since on this day, for the human existence, which thou hast today given Me, I will give thee another more exalted existence in grace, assimilating thy existence as a mere creature to the likeness of Me, who am God and Man.” 

The most prudent Mother answered:

“Trahe me post Te, curremus in odorem unguentorum tuorum” (Cant. 1, 3). Raise me, elevate me, Lord, and I will run after Thee in the odor of thy ointments. In the same way many of the hidden mysteries of the Canticles were fulfilled; and other sayings which passed between the infant God and the Virgin Mother had been recorded in that book of songs, as for instance: “My Beloved to me, and I to Him, and his desire is toward me” (Cant. 2, 16). “Behold thou art beautiful, my friend, and thy eyes are dove’s eyes. Behold, my beloved, for thou art beautiful”, and many other sacramental words which to mention would unduly prolong this chapter.

The words, which the most holy Mary heard from the mouth of her most holy Son, served to make Her understand at the same time the interior acts of his holiest soul united with the Divinity; in order that by imitating them She might become like unto Him. This was one of the greatest blessings, which the most faithful and fortunate Mother received at the hands of her Son, the true God and man, not only because it was continued from that day on through all her life, but because it furnished Her the means of copying his own divine life as faithfully as was possible to a mere creature. 

At the same time the heavenly Lady perceived and felt the presence of the most holy Trinity, and She heard the voice of the eternal Father saying: 

“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am greatly pleased and delighted” (Matth. 17, 5).

The most prudent Mother made entirely god–like in the overflow of so many sacraments, answered: 

“Eternal Father and exalted God, Lord and Creator of the universe, give me anew thy permission and benediction to receive in my arms the Desired of nations (Agg. 2, 8), and teach me to fulfill as thy unworthy Mother and lowly slave, thy holy will.”

Immediately She heard a voice, which said: 

“Receive thy Only begotten Son, imitate Him and rear Him; and remember, that thou must sacrifice Him when I shall demand it of thee.” 

The divine Mother answered: 

“Behold the creature of thy hands, adorn me with thy grace so that thy Son and my God receive me for his slave; and if Thou wilt come to my aid with thy Omnipotence, I shall be faithful in his service; and do Thou count it no presumption in thy insignificant creature, that she bear in her arms and nourish at her breast her own Lord and Creator.”

…to be continued. 

A Soul In Purgatory Leaves Proof Of Purgatory As She Request For Prayers.

A Soul In Purgatory Leaves Proof Of Purgatory As She Request For Prayers.

The burnt print of the right hand of Sister Teresa Gesta

A Religious sister in Purgatory appears to another sister asking for prayers and leaves a proof of Purgatory.

Fr. Shouppe relates in his book on Purgatory that Teresa Gesta, a religious of the Franciscan Sisters in Foligno, Italy, who had served many years as a mistress of novices and was a model of fervor and charity, died suddenly on November 4, 1859, of a stroke of apoplexy. Twelve days later, the soul of Teresa appeared to Sister Anna Felicia in the sacristy of the same Convent. Sister Felicia described it:

“Then the room was filled with a thick smoke, and the spirit of Sister Teresa appeared, moving towards the door and gliding along by the wall. Having reached the door, she cried aloud, ‘Behold a proof of the mercy of God.’ 

“Saying these words, she struck the upper panel of the door and there left the print of her right hand, burnt in the wood as with a red-hot iron. She, then, disappeared.” 

Because of this apparition, Teresa Gesta’s body was exhumed, and the hand of the deceased, remarkable for its especially small size, fit perfectly into the impression mark. All of this is well documented. If one were to visit that Convent’s chapel today, he would find that very handprint on the upper panel of the door. 

Such a demonstration should help alleviate the skepticism of those who find such stories to be “fantastic” or even “fanatical” and, therefore, not worthy of belief. 

Since this apparition, as well as other visitations of suffering souls, took place in the 19th century, this should counter the tendency to view these stories as “medieval” or something out of the so called “dark” ages. 

God sends us such proofs of His justice to counter the skepticism that leads, not just those outside the Church but even otherwise good Catholics within, to consider these divine manifestations unpalatable to modern ears. Our Lord could rightly say of these people what was stated earlier concerning what Our Lady related to Sister Lucy sometime after the Fatima apparitions, “Both the good and the bad ignore my message.” 

Why did the deceased  Sister Gesta speak about the mercy of God in her great suffering, demonstrated by the vivid and terrifying burn mark left on the door by her hand? I believe that the sign she left behind was, in fact, a mercy, a warning to us of what awaits those of us who are not prepared at death to enter directly into the presence of God. 

As Fr. Schouppe observed, “In giving us a warning of this kind, God shows us a great mercy. He urges us, in the most efficacious manner, to assist the poor suffering souls, and to be vigilant in our regard.” This example is not unique. Fr. Schouppe reports many such incidents.

For persons who are afraid of the justice of God and can become disheartened rather than encouraged by these examples, I believe they could learn something from the example of the three children at Fatima who were shown Hell “where the souls of poor sinners go.” Far from being discouraged at what they saw, they redoubled their efforts to make sacrifices so that sinners could obtain the grace of perfect contrition before death and avoid both the eternal flames of Hell and the transitory flames of Purgatory.

Incidentally, Sister Lucy revealed that the souls that she, Francisco and Jacinta saw in Hell were burning from flames that seemed to come from within them. If such is what the three children saw concerning the souls in Hell who are as yet without their bodies, then it should be no problem to accept that the same can be said for the souls in Purgatory. 

While these stories of Purgatory may not impress us as strongly as did the actual apparition of Hell that Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco saw, it can still inspire us to do more for the Poor Souls to relieve them from the fiery torment and help them leave it as quickly as possible. 

We should not become discouraged, thinking, “Well, if that is the case with that holy Sister, then there is no hope for the likes of me.” We must not read these stories making too close a connection with ourselves. When reading accounts of the deceased, it is prudent to recall that, no matter the similarities to our lives in the details of why this soul or that soul is in Purgatory, we are only getting part of the story. 

It is the whole life of the person that is the subject of one’s Particular Judgment, which includes not just virtues and vices, but circumstances of upbringing, education and any number of other factors that have played a part in making someone what he is at the Judgment. 

Therefore, it is important that we take from these stories what they are meant to instill: an increase in charity and devotion towards the Suffering Souls, and not a morbid curiosity or exact idea of what our own particular judgments will be.

The Birth Of Jesus From The Visions Of Venerable Mary Of Agreda – Part 4.

The Birth Of Jesus From The Visions Of Venerable Mary Of Agreda – Part 4.

continued

The most holy Mary remained in this ecstasy and beatific vision for over an hour immediately preceding her divine delivery. At the moment when She issued from it and regained the use of her senses She felt and saw that the body of the infant God began to move in her virginal womb; how, releasing and freeing Himself from the place which in the course of nature He had occupied for nine months, He now prepared to issue forth from that sacred bridal chamber. 

This movement not only did not cause any pain or hardship, as happens with the other daughters of Adam and Eve in their childbirths, but filled Her with incomparable joy and delight, causing in her soul and in her virginal body such exalted and divine effects that they exceed all thoughts of men. Her body became so spiritualized with the beauty of heaven that She seemed no more a human and earthly creature. Her countenance emitted rays of light, like a sun incarnadined, and shone in indescribable earnestness and majesty, all inflamed with fervent love. She was kneeling in the manger, her eyes raised to heaven, her hands joined and folded at her breast, her soul wrapped in the Divinity and She herself was entirely deified. 

In this position, and at the end of the heavenly rapture, the most exalted Lady gave to the world the Only begotten of the Father and her own, our Savior Jesus, true God and man, at the hour of midnight, on a Sunday, in the year of the creation of the world five thousand one hundred and ninety–nine (5199), which is the date given in the Roman Church, and which date has been manifested to me as the true and certain one.

At the end of the beatific rapture and vision of the Mother ever Virgin, which I have described above, was born the Son of Justice, the Only begotten of the eternal Father and of Mary most pure, beautiful, refulgent and immaculate, leaving Her untouched in her virginal integrity and purity and making Her more godlike and forever sacred, for He did not divide, but penetrated the virginal chamber as the rays of the sun penetrate the crystal shrine, lighting it up in prismatic beauty.

The infant God therefore was brought forth from the virginal chamber unencumbered by any corporeal material substance foreign to Himself. But He came forth glorious and transfigured for the divine infinite wisdom decreed and ordained that the glory of his most holy soul should in his Birth overflow and communicate itself to his body, participating in the gifts of glory in the same way as happened afterwards in his Transfiguration on mount Tabor in the presence of the Apostles (Matt. 17, 2). This miracle was not necessary in order to penetrate the virginal enclosure and to leave unimpaired the virginal integrity, for without this Transfiguration God could have brought this about by other miracles. 

Thus say the holy doctors, who see no other miracle in this Birth than that the Child was born without impairing the virginity of the Mother. It was the will of God that the most blessed Virgin should look upon the body of her Son, the God–man, for this first time in a glorified state for two reasons. The one was in order that by this divine vision the most prudent Mother should conceive the highest reverence for the Majesty of Him whom She was to treat as her Son, the true God–man. Although She was already informed of his two–fold nature, the Lord nevertheless ordained that by ocular demonstration She be filled with new graces, corresponding to the greatness of her most holy Son, which was thus manifested to Her in a visible manner.

The second reason was to reward by this wonder the fidelity and holiness of the divine Mother, for her most pure and chaste eyes, that had turned away from all earthly things for love of her most holy Son, were to see Him at his very Birth in this glory and thus be rejoiced and rewarded for her loyalty and beautiful love…to be continued. 

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