St. Thomas Aquinas is well-known as a brilliant philosopher and theologian, the most celebrated in the Church. In addition to being a scholar, he was also a remarkable poet. And Aquinas puts to rest the commonly believed notion that to be intelligent, or “book-smart,” diminishes piety. Aquinas followed both his head and his heart, and he did so gloriously. Along with disputing with other philosophers on the nuanced theological controversies of day, he fostered the tenderest of devotions to the Blessed Mother.
Prayer & Inspiration
“What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be.”
This is a quite shocking inscription which can be read while contemplating the skeletons of thousands of Capuchin friars beneath of Our Lady of the Conception Church in Rome.
It is a reminder, of course, of the quick passage of life on earth and of our mortality. If you have heard the expression “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die,” maybe it has occurred to you that we are afraid of our death because we know that we are not prepared. It’s also because we are afraid of leaving what we know and are familiar with, or maybe we don’t truly have faith that there is life after death.
There was a soft voice inside me suggesting I should visit and venerate the relics of Saint Maria Goretti during her tour in the United States. I took action and told my husband we had to go. He was on-call for work that weekend, but he took a chance, and we went with my two kids.
St. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582), the great Spanish Carmelite nun, mystic, and Doctor of the Church, most famous for her classic spiritual writings, The Interior Castle and The Way of Perfection, also wrote the famous poem below, Nada Te Turbe.
And we still have it in her original handwriting.
The millions of people who gathered to see Pope Francis in Latin America showed without a doubt that most Latinos are still Catholic. The Holy Father was received with all the honors and privileges, and treated as a spiritual celebrity. Being from Latin America, the Pope’s visit made me follow the news and stay attentive to his words, more than any other news.
Now that he is back in Rome, I would like to share what I learned from the Pope through his message and actions during his visit to South America:
The devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help is an important patroness in many cities and countries worldwide, such as Haiti and the Philippines. Latin America knows her too as Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro, or, Our Lady of Perpetual Succor.
Many cathedrals, parishes, schools, hospitals, and non-governmental organizations carry her name.
Traffic delays. Long commutes. Endless lines. We often consider the time we spend waiting for something as time wasted. But it doesn’t have to be a waste.
The saints tell us to humbly and patiently accept the things that come to us from moment to moment as part of the providence of God. Those moments that make up this gift called life are our opportunities to grow in holiness. One day we will have to give an account for how we spent each of them, including how we spent our time waiting for something else. Can we redeem this “wasted” time and give it back to God?
“Peace be upon you, O Mark, my Evangelist.” Venetian legend has it that, while visiting the region of Italy that would later become Veneto, Mark was approached by an angel, greeted with those words, and told that the Venetian lagoon would be his ultimate resting place.
When I learned that the coffin behind the high altar kept the relics and parts of the body of Saint Mark the Evangelist, I felt like somebody removed a blindfold from my soul and I realized that everything that I read and learned only through books and movies since I was a child about the Bible, the Gospel, and the saints were all true. It was like a living proof and I found myself in an emotional moment:
A friend of mine, Michael, teaches Faith Formation at my parish. He recently sent me this list of Bible verses for the topic of Christian discipleship that he developed for his students. I asked for permission to share it with our friends and fans at The Catholic Company as a meditation for Lent. I hope you are able to get a lot out of it!
Have you ever experienced those moments at Mass when something said in the homily just hits you between the eyes?
I had that experience recently. I don’t remember anything else about the homily except for the phrase “Give God the firstfruits.”