Saint of the Day ~ February 24

BLESSED THOMAS MARIA FUSCO (1831-1891), priest, founder and missionary

Today, the Church honors Blessed Thomas (Tommaso) Maria Fusco, who dedicated his life to tirelessly serving the Body of Christ, always placing the glory of God first in his life.

Thomas was the seventh of eight children, born on December 1, 1831, in Pagani, Salerno, in the Diocese of Nocera-Sarno, Italy, and baptized the same day in the parish of San Felice e Corpo di Cristo.

In 1837, when he was only six years old, his mother died of cholera, and a few years later, in 1841, he also lost his father. Father Giuseppe, an uncle on his father’s side and a primary school teacher, then took charge of Thomas’ education.

Since 1839, the year of the canonization of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Thomas had dreamed of the priesthood. He entered the seminary in 1847 and was ordained in 1855. Thomas developed a deep devotion to the Crucified Christ and the Sorrowful Heart of Mary which he cherished throughout his life.

Right from the very beginning of his priestly ministry, he saw to the formation of boys for whom he opened a morning school in his own home, while for young people and adults, concerned with increasing their Christian formation, Father Thomas organized evening prayers at the parish church of San Felice e Corpo di Cristo. Many saw this as a true place of conversion and prayer.

In 1857, he was admitted to the Congregation of the Missionaries of Nocera and became an itinerant [traveling] missionary, especially in the regions of Southern Italy. In 1860, he was appointed chaplain at the Shrine of our Lady of Carmel in Pagani, where he also built up the Men’s and Women’s Catholic Associations and set up the “Altar of the Crucified Christ” and the “Pious Union for the Adoration of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus”.

In 1862, Father Thomas opened a school of moral theology in his own home to train priests for the ministry of confession, enkindling devotion and love for the Blood of Christ; that same year, he founded the “(Priestly) Society of the Catholic Apostolate” for missions among the common people, which received the approval of Pope Pius IX in 1874. He also founded the Congregation of the “Daughters of Charity of the Most Precious Blood”, which became an orphanage for poor orphan girls in the area, which also received papal approval.

Father Thomas continued to dedicate himself to his priestly ministry, preaching spiritual retreats and popular missions; and, from his various apostolic travels, there sprang the many foundations of houses and orphanages that were a monument to his heroic charity, a charity which was even more fervent in the last twenty years of his life.

Envied for the good he achieved in his ministries and for his life as an exemplary priest, it was not long before Father Thomas was faced with humiliation and persecution, which is often the case when Satan is permitted to attack an individual because of his sanctity, a time of purification in which God’s glory is made even more manifest.

During the worst times of his trials, Father Thomas would pray, “May work and suffering for God always be your glory; and, in your work and suffering, may God be your consolation on this Earth, and your recompense in Heaven.”

At the age of 59, and wasting away from liver-disease, Father Thomas (Tommaso Maria) died a holy death on February 24, 1891, praying the words which we find in the Gospel of Luke, “Lord, now let your servant go in peace, according to your word” (Luke 2:29). Thomas was beatified on October 7, 2001, by Pope St. John Paul II.

We commemorate his feastday on February 24.

(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com and vatican.va)

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PRAYER

(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Pastors ~ missionary)

“God of Mercy, You gave us Blessed Tommaso Maria to proclaim the riches of Christ. By the help of his prayers, may we grow in knowledge of You, be eager to do good, and learn to walk before You by living the truth of the Gospel.

“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

DAILY PRAYER REQUESTS

Please feel free to post your prayer request for today as a comment to this post. Your needs and intentions will be included in our daily offerings throughout the day and at the 3 o’clock hour for Divine Mercy, and your requests will be personally offered to our Heavenly Father, having faith in the words our Lord spoke to Saint Faustina, “Through the chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.” (Diary, § 1731)

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“Most Loving and Merciful Father, through Your Divine Son, Jesus, You have filled our hearts, minds and souls with Your Truth and Love;

– please help us, Your children, to always be mindful of Your will for us, being kind and forgiving towards our neighbor as You have been towards us, so that all our prayers, intentions and actions may always be most pleasing to You, through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Mercy Minutes with Jesus (from Saint Faustina’s Diary)

February 23 ~ Witness to Your Mercy

Theme:  The Image of The Divine Mercy

“On Good Friday, at three o’clock in the afternoon, when I entered the chapel, I heard these words: ‘I desire that the image be publicly honored.’ Then I saw the Lord Jesus dying on the Cross amidst great suffering, and out of the Heart of Jesus came the same two rays as are in the image.”(Mercy Minutes with Jesus/Diary, 414)

“When [Father Sopocko] began to speak about the great mercy of the Lord, the image came alive and the rays pierced the hearts of the people gathered…Then I heard the words, ‘You are a witness of My mercy. You shall stand before My throne forever as a living witness to My mercy.’(Mercy Minutes with Jesus/Diary, 417)

My prayer response:

Jesus, as I honor Your image as The Divine Mercy, please inspire me to witness to Your Mercy. May I stand before Your Throne forever as a witness to Your Mercy. (Mercy Minutes with Jesus)

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Mercy Minutes (from Saint Faustina’s Diary)

February 23 ~ Take Refuge in the Fount of God’s Mercy

Theme:  Misery

“Of myself I am nothing, and in my misery I have nothing of worth; so I abandon myself into the ocean or Your mercy, O Lord.” (Mercy Minutes/Diary, 668)

“You are a bottomless sea of mercy for us sinners; and the greater the misery, the more right we have to Your mercy. You are a fount which makes all creatures happy by Your infinite mercy.” (Mercy Minutes/Diary, 793)

“O human souls, where are you going to hide on the day of God’s anger? Take refuge now in the fount of God’s mercy. O what a great multitude of souls I see! They worshipped The Divine Mercy and will be singing the hymn of praise for all eternity.” (Mercy Minutes/Diary, 848)

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Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.

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Meditation for the Day

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent, February 23

May the Spirit of God Help Us to Open Our Minds and Our Hearts, Conforming Our Will to His, Always Focusing on What Truly Pleases Our Most Loving Father.

When I first began reflecting upon today’s Scriptures, I began thinking about our own loved ones, and how we as parents, be it mother or father, can have a positive influence upon the faith experiences which our children develop over time through how they observe us practicing our own faith.

I remember speaking about this in a previous meditation, but I would like to revisit this same idea, only based upon today’s Readings.

For those of us who are parents, when our children are young, we watch over them and nurture them with a parent’s love. We protect them, as best we can, from every harm. And as they begin to grow, we teach them the difference between right and wrong; we teach them what is moral and just; we teach them to respect each person’s dignity and self-worth, and we try to set them on a path which leads to true happiness and personal holiness.

But as we well know, we live in a world, in a cultural society which de-emphasizes family values. We live in a social environment which embraces so much that is unholy, so much that is immoral and unjust. Our children are faced with two opposing philosophies – the one which we give them based upon God’s Truth, and the one which society presents, based upon relativism and selfishness – a way of thinking which is contrary to the mind and will of God.

It is no wonder that devoted parents fear for the well-being of their children, for the seduction and the draw of secularism is very strong in our world today – a thinking, a philosophy, a way of life which perverts all that our Christian faith holds dear and true!

Its pull on young minds, which are impressionable and still in the process of maturing, is immense. It is like a strong magnet, pulling them in directions which we, as loving parents, do not wish them to go. We fear that God’s Truth, and the ideals which we have taught and instilled in our children, will be corrupted through lies and deceptions.

Yet, we hear a promise given to us today from God Himself through the prophet Isaiah, “Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful…So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”

In a society in which we, as a faithful people, often find ourselves at odds with the culture within which we live, what oftentimes may appear as a desert filled with suffering and hardships, God promises His faithful children that we shall, in the fullness of His time and in accordance with His will, experience joy and happiness.

For our psalmist tells us today, “When the just cry out, the LORD hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them.”

God reaches out to each of us as a Loving Father, a Father who only wants the best for each of His children. Even if they should wander astray, God is always there, reaching out and continuously beckoning His children to return. He waits patiently with a tender Love, just as the father did who ran to embrace the prodigal son when he returned home.

Our God is a God filled with an indescribable Love for each one of His sons and daughters. And, in today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us the courage to call God our Father. And Jesus often used the Aramaic word “Abba” when addressing His Father – a very intimate and personal word which best translates into English with the form “Daddy”, a term of endearment which a child has for his or her father.

In essence, our Lord desires that we come to know and love His Father as He does, a Father who loves His children more than we could ever possibly imagine in this life.

And in today’s Gospel, Our Lord gives us a very clear example of how to talk to God by teaching us the most perfect prayer – a prayer to our Most Intimate and Most Loving Father, to a Father who only wishes to give to His children, whose hearts are opened and receptive, the very best, to a Father who will not be outdone in His generosity to His faithful children.

It is a prayer which combines heartfelt praises and humble petitions. For many of us, from our early childhood we memorized this prayer – a prayer which evokes a personal conversation of love with our Heavenly Father – a prayer which fosters within each of us an intimate bond, a relationship of love with the Eternal and Divine Creator Himself.

When we begin to slow down our daily pace through life, and when we begin to truly reflect upon each phrase of the “Our Father”, the prayer begins to take on a richness unlike any other prayer in our arsenal of prayers – for remember, it was a prayer given to us by the Eternal and Divine Son of God Himself!

It is the prayer which we pray at every Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours – which is the prayer of the Church. It is a prayer which is repeated in the Rosary and included in many chaplets and novenas.

When truly prayed from the depths of one’s heart, when reflecting upon each praise and petition, it becomes a song of love from us, His children, to our Heavenly Father, who is the God of Love.

God spoke to us through Isaiah saying, “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void…” The “Lord’s Prayer” is truly a fulfillment of this promise.

During this Lenten season, let us pray that the Spirit of God may help us to open our minds and our hearts, so that we may conform our will to His, so that our every thought, our every word and deed may be focused not so much on our own wants and desires as society would dictate, but more on what truly pleases our Most Loving Father in Heaven.

And may God mold and form each of us, including all our children and loved ones, into the image that He wishes us to be, so that our relationship with Him may truly be one of love and adoration –

– a relationship which gives Him the glory, praise and honor which is truly His due!

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Scripture for the Day

  • “For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, Giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
  • “The righteous cry out, the LORD hears and rescues them from all their afflictions.” (Psalm 34:18)
  • “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8)
  • “This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread…” (Matthew 6:9-11ff)
  • “…you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8:15b-17a)
  • “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” (1 John 4:16)
  • “And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours.” (1 John 5:14-15)
  • “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:13)
  • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope…” (1 Peter 1:3)
  • “…LORD, you are our father; we are the clay and you our potter: we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:7)
  • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all consolation.” (2 Corinthians 1:3)

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Prayer for the Day

“Most Loving and Merciful Father in Heaven,
you have given me a mind to know You,
a will to serve You, and a heart to love You.

“Give me today the grace and strength
to embrace Your Holy will,
and fill my heart and mind with Your Truth and Love,
that all my intentions and actions may be pleasing to You.

“Help me to be kind and forgiving towards my neighbor
as You have been towards me.
I humbly ask this in Jesus’ Most Holy Name. Amen.”

Anonymous

Saint of the Day ~ February 23

SAINT POLYCARP of SMYRNA (c.69-c.155), bishop and martyr

Today, the universal Church honors Saint Polycarp, a bishop of the early Church who taught his disciples to live virtuous lives, always embracing the example which Christ Himself left for us.

Polycarp was one of the immediate disciples of the Apostles, in particular Saint John the Evangelist. He embraced Christianity at a young age and was appointed by the Apostles as the bishop of Smyrna (modern day Izmir, Turkey). He was greatly respected by the faithful, wrote many letters and formed many holy disciples himself. His epistle to the Philippians, the only one to be preserved, demonstrated his apostolic spirit, his profound humility and meekness, and his great charity.

Bishop Polycarp fought against heresy. He also taught that Christians must walk in truth, fulfill God’s will, keep all of His Commandments and love whatever God loves. Christians must refrain from all fraud, avarice, slander or disparagement of one’s character and rash judgment. They must repay evil with forgiveness and mercy; and that one must fast, persevere and be joyful, as well as praying all the time, so as not to be led into temptation.

During his episcopate, a violent persecution broke out in Smyrna against the Christians. During this time, and because he was fearless, the Christian community pleaded with Bishop Polycarp to take refuge in a neighboring farm, where he spent most of his time with others in prayer.

One of the Christians, while under torture in Smyrna, betrayed the bishop’s location, and horsemen came by night to arrest him. He met his captors at the door, asked that a supper be prepared for them, and prayed for two hours before he went with them.

About the year 155, He was led directly to the proconsul at the amphitheater in Smyrna, who ordered him to blaspheme Christ. Bishop Polycarp’s response, as taken from the Letter of the Smyrnaeans recounting the martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, refused and stated, “For eighty-six years, I have been His servant, and He has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

Bishop Polycarp was then condemned to be burned alive. The executioners would have nailed him to the stake, as was the custom, but he convinced them that it was not necessary. So they simply tied his hands behind his back. At the end of his prayer, the executioners set the fire.

Continuing the account of his martyrdom, we read, “The fire assumed the shape of a room, like a billowing ship’s sail that surrounded the martyr’s body inside it, not like burning flesh but like gold and silver being refined in a furnace. We also smelled a pleasant fragrance like the scent of incense or other costly spices. Finally, the lawless mob, seeing that his body could not be consumed by fire, ordered an executioner to slash him with a sword. When he did so, blood gushed out and quenched the fire, and the entire crowd was amazed…”

The Christians wanted to take Polycarp’s body away, but a Roman centurion, seeing the unrest in the crowd, threw his body in the fire to be burnt. After the crowd had left, his bones were collected and were laid to rest.

We commemorate the feastday of Saint Polycarp’s martyrdom on February 23.

(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org, newadvent.org and Eusebius’ “The Church History”)

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PRAYER

(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint Polycarp)

“God of all creation, You gave Your bishop Polycarp the privilege of being counted among the saints who gave their lives in faithful witness to the Gospel. May his prayers give us the courage to share with him the cup of suffering and to rise to eternal glory.

“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

DAILY PRAYER REQUESTS

Please feel free to post your prayer request for today as a comment to this post. Your needs and intentions will be included in our daily offerings throughout the day and at the 3 o’clock hour for Divine Mercy, and your requests will be personally offered to our Heavenly Father, having faith in the words our Lord spoke to Saint Faustina, “Through the chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.” (Diary, § 1731)

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“Eternal and Most Loving Father, You have given to us the example of true discipleship and devoted service to Your Church through the life of Saint Peter and all who faithfully followed him in the Petrine office of the papacy, fulfilling their calling as the ‘servant of the servants of God’;

– as members of the Body of Christ, may we also embrace our baptismal calling by living our lives faithfully and selflessly, always being of service to the needs of one another. For in this, we truly become the extension of Christ, Himself, in our individual walks of faith.”

Mercy Minutes with Jesus (from Saint Faustina’s Diary)

February 22 ~ A Vessel for Graces

Theme:  The Image of The Divine Mercy

“Once, Jesus said to me, ‘My gaze from this image is like My gaze from the cross.’(Mercy Minutes with Jesus/Diary, 326)

“I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: ‘Jesus, I trust in You.’” (Mercy Minutes with Jesus/Diary, 327)

My prayer response:

Jesus, please look at me from Your Cross, so that I may trust in You even more each time I gaze at You portrayed in Your image. I wish to keep coming to this image as a vessel for graces. Please help me to keep my gaze always fixed on You. (Mercy Minutes with Jesus)

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Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.

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