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Christmas 2010  Online Issue #7

Catholic Saints - Bob and Penny Lord Ministries

January 2011



This Issue -Saints of January

Saint Angela Merici

Saint John Bosco

Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Brother Andre


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Saint Angela Merici

Angela Merici minibook

“I want to become a Saint, because I love Jesus.”

The Church was in crisis! The Good Shepherd would not leave His lambs alone to be devoured by wolves; so once again God raised up Saints and other powerful men and women to save His Church.

In the Fourteenth Century, God wanted the Papacy to return to Rome. He knew what was going to come to pass; the Papacy had to be located in the eye of the storm, to combat the forces of dissension which were bubbling beneath the surface, and those which would erupt in the Fifteenth Century and explode in the Sixteenth. God putting his chess pieces in place, raised up a woman, St. Catherine of Siena; He groomed her for her mission and when it was time, sent her to Avignon to bring the Papacy back to Rome.

But as God was maneuvering, putting His troops on the front line, the enemy, in an attempt to outmaneuver God, attacked the Church from the rear, initiating the birth of the Renaissance! The people were battle weary and Dark Ages depressed; they were ripe for anyone selling them something or someone who would bring some joy and happiness into their lives; but sadly even good things that are not holy will eventually, like a dog with a cruel master, turn on you and bite you. The Renaissance, the period of enlightenment which was to lead them out of the darkness of the Dark Ages, only led them into deeper darkness through a tunnel to hell.

In the mid 1400s Renaissance had been wildly spreading its humanistic, paganistic secularism, selling man on wanting more, but not more God, more self-gratification. God seeing His children about to be run over by trojan horses bearing poisoned sweets called forth Saints like St. Bernardine, St. John Capistrano, and others, His plan - to offset with holiness, the evil with which the devil was unscrupulously tipping the scales.

Much of Italy had been conquered by a tyrant called Visconti who was swallowing up province after province, conquering citizens and land by intimidation, crushing their spirits by bondage and servitude, enslaving them into complete subjugation by imposing the worst forms of terrifying tyranny upon them. He trampled the forces in the North, almost effortlessly. But, as he traveled southward, ready to strike the Tuscany region, Visconti found formidable fighters, free spirits, people of fire and focus who would not be enslaved! Although under the Medicis, this would not have been called a democratic form of government, it was Tuscany for and by Tuscans.

The Fifteenth Century no better than the Fourteenth, God, countering evil with good, raised up a unique Saint. Permissiveness and promiscuity were running wild like the wine and revelry of the times, God raised a Saint who will not only be a contradiction in this hedonistic society, she will gather others to follow her in her divine quest to live a life of holiness. And so through her, a new heretofore unknown charism will be born into this troubled time, through another Saint who was willing “to do the ridiculous so that God would be moved to do the miraculous.”

For More Saints in the Catholic Church go here http://www.bobandpennylord.com


 Saint Francis de Sales
“The measure of love is to love without measure.”

Whenever the Church is threatened, the Lord raises up a Saint or two or brings about Miracles. In this instance, the Lord raised up two Saints, St. Francis de Sales, the Bishop of Geneva, a Doctor of the Church, and Founder of a Religious Order and St. Jane Frances de Chantal. He also gave us many Miracles, including the softening of men’s hearts.

The years 1567 through 1622 were not great years for Catholics in Switzerland. They were not especially good years for a bishop of the Catholic Church, in particular the Bishop of Geneva. For that task, the Lord had to search all over Heaven until He could find a special soul who would not only be capable of pastoring the people of God during the period of hell caused by John Calvin, but would be willing to take on the job. The soul who would be Francis de Sales was the perfect candidate. So the Lord blessed him, gave him special Angels to guide and protect him, covered him in the mantle of Mother Mary, and sent him on his way. He was to be the first of thirteen babies the Lord would give to this special family. But of all, this was the prize, given from the Lord.

The Angels delivered the future St. Francis de Sales to a beautiful château in what was called Thorens at that time, but today is just outside the breathtakingly city of Annecy, France, on Lake Geneva. He was born in a château on August 21 , 1567. His family was part of the House of Savoie, which was a noble family in Europe. On the following day St. Francis was baptized in the Parish church of Thorens, and given the name Francis Bonaventure. His patron saint was the Little Poverello of Assisi. He was named after St. Francis and Bonaventure, another famous Franciscan and Doctor of the Church. [St. Bonaventure, Seraphic Doctor, was born just five years before St. Francis died, and followed in the Poverello’s footsteps.] The combination of qualities exemplified in Francis, who was all heart, and in Bonaventure, who was brilliant, were just the traits young Francis would need in his ministry for the Church, as he grew in body and spirit.

What were his parents thinking about for this, their first baby? Would he continue in the House of Savoie, taking care of the land, his heritage? Would Francis Bonaventure follow in the footsteps of his namesakes? Although we read that both parents were traditional Catholics, could they have had any idea what they were doing when they gave such powerful names to their newborn? Nothing is by coincidence, not even the naming of a child. Unless it is God’s Holy Coincidence.

The room in which he was born was known as St. Francis’ room, because of a painting in the room of the Saint preaching to the birds and the fishes. It was always young Francis’ favorite painting of his namesake, as was this his favorite room.

Francis was born prematurely, leaving him frail and delicate, physically challenged as a young child. But he was never Spiritually challenged. From his earliest childhood, he was unusually active and energetic. He was a product of Home Schooling in his early years. His mother kept his education in her own hands, aided by a tutor, Abbé Déage, a local priest who was very learned. As Francis grew, this priest became his tutor, traveling with him everywhere during his youth. Beautiful traits were instilled in him by the Lord, who guided his mother in his upbringing his entire life. He was obedient and truthful no matter what the consequences. In addition, he was a voracious reader; he devoured every book he could get. He was very eager to learn. The Lord was gearing him up for a mighty job and he couldn’t begin too soon.

More about Saint Francis de Sales http://www.bobandpennylord.com/St_Francis_de_Sales.htm


Saint John Bosco and the Youth of Turin

Saint  John Bosco minibook

At the time of Saint John Bosco’s ordination, Italy was very anti-clerical. A lot of this stemmed from the clerics’ Jansenist behavior, which caused them to remove themselves physically and emotionally from their flock. Don Cafasso fought to end the grip Jansenism held on northern Italy. One way was to have the students in the Theological Institute walk among the people, in an effort to become more aware and involved in what was going on. For Don Bosco, this was a revelation. He knew, his apostolate was children, but he really had no conception of their plight, until he began to walk the streets of Turin.

The charming city with the beautiful boulevards had become a hell-hole, a giant ghetto for the working class. Two and three families lived together in a single room, under the most unsanitary conditions. He could walk anywhere in the slum section of the city and see the horrors of the young who were left on their own. One time, during an evening walk, he came upon a field. Hoardes of children were running around, filthy, half-clothed, screaming, cursing and generally acting offensive. For a moment, his mind flashed to the dreams he’d had, first at nine years old and then again in the seminary. It was as if he were standing in the middle of his dream. He tried to reach out to them, but they ignored him. This was not the way the dream ended; they had all turned into little lambs. What was happening here? They were not working with the script. Then he realized that he was not approaching them with a kindness and love they had never known before. He was on the brink of jumping into his life’s work, but he was not ready yet.

His real beginning came, as it should, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th. He was waiting to begin Mass, when he noticed a sacristan chasing a dirty young boy in rags out of the church. Don Bosco made him bring the boy back. He tried to put the nervous youth at his ease. He asked him many questions; could he read or write, were his parents alive or dead. The boy stiffly tried to answer. Then Saint John Bosco, with a straight face, asked him could he sing or whistle? The boy let out a big smile. John Bosco had broken the ice.

He began to teach this boy catechism. At the end of an hour, he asked if he would like to return the next week? The boy answered yes. John Bosco told him not to come alone; bring a friend. That was how it started. The next week, he had nine, and then twelve. Pretty soon, he was the pied piper of Turin. He had over a hundred children coming to him every week. Where was he going to put them? This became his battle cry for the rest of his life. He had too little room, and too little help. This is also the cry of our ministry. We have so much work to do and so few to do it. And we are quickly running out of room. We always wondered what it was that drew us to John Bosco so strongly. We have so much in common.

Saint John Bosco brought these young people together each Sunday, for Mass and Catechism. But in addition, there was much fun, playing, picnics, a version of the acrobatics and juggling that the younger John Bosco had become famous for. It was relationship. It was someone caring about these young people, in a world where they were barely tolerated. They had street smarts. They could tell very quickly who was sincere, as opposed to who wanted to exploit them. And they reacted accordingly. They could see love in this young priest. He genuinely wanted to make their lives better. It was their souls he was after, but he was not beyond helping with their physical necessities in any way he could. He called the meetings Oratories6. To John Bosco’s way of thinking, an Oratory was an actual building or complex, with a playing field, classrooms and a chapel. But for many years, the Oratory only existed in his mind. However, Don Bosco was a man of vision, and great faith. He knew what he was being called to do, and the Lord would provide the means to do it. It was just that simple!

For more about Saints like Saint John Bosco go to http://www.bobandpennylord.com/roman-catholic-saints.htm


Saint Brother Andre the Miracle Worker

Brother André never spoke of ecstasies, visions or inner locutions; he called them dreams. Although he would later call this time in a foreign country, away from all he knew and loved, his time in exile, he was not alone; his Saint Joseph was with him. Alfred had a dream that he was working in a field. In his dream he leaned tiredly on a rake, and asked Saint Joseph: “Where shall I die?” Before him he saw a huge stone building unlike anything he had ever seen. He never forgot this dream; years later, when he entered Notre Dame College in Montreal, he recognized it as the building in his dream. Although he did not die there, he would spend forty years of his life in this college as an instrument of God.

When he was twenty-three years old, Alfred returned to his beloved Canada and settled down with his family. Or so he thought. Here, we see the Lord intervening powerfully in the life of Alfred Bessette, our future Brother André. The Lord put another Saint-maker in his path, his parish priest, Father Provençal, whom everyone called a Saint. From the time he was a little boy, Alfred loved to assist at Mass. It was obvious the boy had a great devotion to the Eucharist and to the Mass. He would stay in the church long after Mass was over to pray. He wanted to remain in the presence of God Whom he could feel in the church, especially after having received Communion.

Now, years later, Alfred had returned and Father Provençal saw in the young man the little boy who had served him so zealously, so faithfully; he asked him if he had ever thought of a vocation as a religious! [Do we ever ask that question? We wonder how many young people have a vocation in their heart, and only need someone to light that flame with a spark of a suggestion like: “Have you ever thought of becoming a religious?” How many young people need that affirmation of what might have been burning in their hearts from childhood? How many potential vocations are lost because no one ever asked the question?] When Alfred protested that he had nothing to offer to religious life, as he could not read or write, Father spoke of him becoming a brother of the Holy Cross, a Congregation that had come to his parish. He told him that this Order had brothers who served the Community in ways not requiring any kind of formal education. Alfred prayed and realized his searching, his longing had been for the Lord and His Will, not for the world’s empty rewards.

After praying for two years, Alfred applied to the Brothers of Holy Cross. Now they were reluctant to accept him, not so much due to his lack of education, but because he was so frail and sickly, they were afraid he would be a burden on their Community. But the Novice Director, who had interviewed the young Alfred, was touched by the Lord. He saw in André what Our Lord Jesus could use, humility and a great love of Jesus and the Church. The Novice Director stepped in; he said, if Alfred were to become so incapacitated that he was unable to work, he would always be able to pray! He believed Alfred would be a powerful prayer warrior. He was accepted!

Father Provençal wrote to the Community of the Brothers of the Holy Cross: “I am sending you a Saint.” It was 1870, the year that Pope Pius IX proclaimed Saint Joseph Patron of the Roman Catholic Church. Little did Alfred or the brother who admitted him realize that he would be an instrument to bring millions to a deeper devotion to Saint Joseph.

For more about Saint Brother Andre click the link below