Doctor of Grace
Son of a pagan father who converted on his death bed, and of Saint Monica, a devout Christian. Raised a Christian, he lost his faith in youth and led a wild life. Lived with a Carthaginian woman from the age of 15 through 30. Fathered a son whom he named Adeotadus, which means the gift of God. Taught rhetoric at Carthage and Milan, Italy. After investigating and experimenting with several philosophies, he became a Manichaean for several years; it taught of a great struggle between good and evil, and featured a lax moral code. A summation of his thinking at the time comes from his Confessions: “God, give me chastity and continence – but not just now.”
Augustine finally broke with the Manichaeans and was converted by the prayers of his mother and the help of Saint Ambrose of Milan, who baptized him. On the death of his mother he returned to Africa, sold his property, gave the proceeds to the poor, and founded a monastery. Monk. Priest. Preacher. Bishop of Hippo in 396. Founded religious communities. Fought Manichaeism, Donatism, Pelagianism and other heresies. Oversaw his church and his see during the fall of the Roman Empire to the Vandals. Doctor of the Church. His later thinking can also be summed up in a line from his writings: Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.
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St. Augustine and St. Monica
Saint Monica, also known as Monica of Hippo, is St. Augustine of Hippo’s mother. She was born in 331 A.D. in Tagaste, which is present-day Algeria.
When she was very young, she was married off to the Roman pagan Patricius, who shared his mother’s violent temper. Patricius’ mother lived with the couple and the duo’s temper flares proved to be a constant challenge to young Monica.
While Monica’s prayers and Christian deeds bothered Patricius, he is said to have respected her beliefs.
Three children were born to Monica and Patricius: Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua. Unfortunately, Monica was unable to baptize her children and when Augustine fell ill, Monica pleaded with Patricius to allow their son to be baptized.
Patricius allowed it, but when Augustine was healthy again, he withrew his permission.
For years Monica prayed for her husband and mother-in-law, until finally, one year before Patricius’ death, she successfully converted them.
As time passed, Perpetua and Navigius entered the religious life, but unfortunately Augustine became lazy and uncouth. This greatly worried Monica, so when Patricius died, she sent the 17-year-old Augustine to Carthage for schooling.
While in Carthage, Augustine became a Manichaean, which was a major religion that saw the world as light and darkness, and when one died, they were removed from the world of matter and returned to the world of light, which is where life comes from.
After Augustine got his education and returned home, he shared his views with Monica, who drove him from her table. Though it is not recorded how much time passed, Monica had a vision that convinced her to reconcile with her wayward son.
Monica went to a bishop, who told her, “the child of those tears shall never perish.”
Inspired, Monica followed Augustine to Rome, where she learned he had left for Milan. She continued her persual and eventually came upon St. Ambrose, who helped her convert Augustine to Christianity following his seventeen-year resistance.
Augustine later wrote a book called Confessions, in which he wrote of Monica’s habit of bringing “to certain oratories, erected in the memory of the saints, offerings of porridge, bread, water and wine.”
When Monica moved to Milan, a bishop named Ambrose told her wine “might be an occasion of gluttony for those who were already given to drink,” so she stopped preparing wine as offerings for the saints.
Augustine wrote: “In place of a basket filled with fruits of the earth, she had learned to bring to the oratories of the martyrs a heart full of purer petitions, and to give all that she could to the poor – so that the communion of the Lord’s body might be rightly celebrated in those places where, after the example of his passion, the martyrs had been sacrificed and crowned.”
After a period of six months, Augustine was baptized in the church of St. John the Baptist at Milan. The pair were led to believe they should spread the Word of God to Africa, but it the Roman city of Civitavecchia, Monica passed away.
Augustine recorded the words she imparted upon him when she realized death was near. “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.”
She was buried at Ostia, and her body was removed during the 6th century to a hidden crypt in the church of Santa Aurea in Osta, near the tomb of St. Aurea of Ostia.
In 1430, Pope Martin V ordered her relics to be brought to Rome and many miracles were reported to have occurred along the way. Later, Cardinal d’Estouteville built a church to honor St. Augustine called the Basilica di Sant’Agostino, where her relics were placed in a chapel to the left of the high altar.
Her funeral epitaph survived in ancient manuscripts and the stone it was originally written on was discovered in the church of Santa Aurea in 1945.
Douglas Boin translated the tablet’s Latin to read:
“Here the most virtuous mother of a young man set her ashes, a second light to your merits, Augustine.
As a priest, serving the heavenly laws of peace, you taught [or you teach] the people entrusted to you with your character. A glory greater than the praise of your accomplishments crowns you both – Mother of the Virtues, more fortunate because of her offspring.”
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HISTORY OF THE IMAGE
The origin of this miraculous image in Czestochowa, Poland is unknown for absolute certainty, but according to tradition the painting was a portrait of Our Lady done by St. John sometime after the Crucifixion of Our Lord and remained in the Holy Land until discovered by St. Helena of the Cross in the fourth century. The painting was taken to Constaninople, where St. Helena’s son, the Emperor Constantine, erected a church for its enthronement. This image was revered by the people of the city.
During the siege by the Saracens, the invaders became frightened when the people carried the picture in a procession around the city; the infidels fled. Later, the image was threatened with burning by an evil emperor, who had a wife, Irene, who saved it and hid it from harm. The image was in that city for 500 years, until it became part of some dowries, eventually being taken to Russia to a region that later became Poland.
After the portrait became the possession of the Polish prince, St. Ladislaus in the 15th century, it was installed in his castle. Tartar invaders besieged the castle and an enemy arrow pierced Our Lady’s image, inflicting a scar. Interestingly, repeated attempts to fix the image, artistically have all failed.
Tradition says that St. Ladislaus determined to save the image from repeated invasions, so he went to his birthplace, Opala, stopping for rest in Czestochowa; the image was brought nearby to Jasna Gora [“bright hill”] and placed in a small wooden church named for the Assumption. The following morning, after the picture was carefully placed in the wagon, the horses refused to move. St. Ladislaus understood this to be a sign from Heaven that the image should stay in Czestochowa; thus he replaced the painting in the Church of the Assumption, August 26, 1382, a day still observed as the Feast Day of the painting. The Saint wished to have the holiest of men guard the painting, so he assigned the church and the monastery to the Pauline Fathers, who have devoutly protected the image for the last six hundred years.
Having survived two attacks upon it, Our Lady’s image was next imperiled by the Hussites, followers of the heretic priest, John Hus from Prague. The Hussites did not accept papal authority as coming from Christ and taught that mortal sin deprived an office holder of his position, among other heresies. Hus had been influenced by John Wyclif and became infected with his errors. Hus was tried and condemned at Constance in 1415. The Hussites successfully stormed the Pauline monastery in 1430, plundering the sanctuary. Among the items stolen was the image. After putting it in their wagon, the Hussites went a little ways but then the horses refused to go any further. Recalling the former incident that was so similar, the heretics threw the portrait down to the ground, which shattered the image into three pieces. One of the plunderers drew his sword and slashed the image twice, causing two deep gashes; while attempting a third gash, he was overcome with a writhing agony and died.
The two slashes on the cheek of the Blessed Virgin, together with the one on the throat, not readily visible in our copy, have always reappeared after artistic attempts to fix them. The portrait again faced danger in 1655 by a Swedish horde of 12,000, which confronted the 300 men guarding the image. The band of 300 routed the 12,000 and the following year, the Holy Virgin was acclaimed Queen of Poland.
In September 14, 1920, when the Russian army assembled at the River Vistula, in preparation for invading Warsaw, the Polish people prayed to Our Lady. the next day was the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The Russians quickly withdrew after the image appeared in the clouds over Warsaw. In Polish history, this is known as the Miracle of Vistula.
During the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War II, Hitler order all religious pilgrimages stopped. In a demonstration of love for Our Lady and their confidence in her protection, a half million Poles went to the sanctuary in defiance of Hitler’s orders. Following the liberation of Poland in 1945, a million and a half people expressed their gratitude to the Madonna by praying before this miraculous image.
Twenty-eight years after the Russian’s first attempt at capturing the city, they successfully took control of Warsaw and the entire nation in 1948. That year more than 800,000 brave Poles made a pilgrimage to the sanctuary at Czestochowa on the Feast of the Assumption, one of the three Feast days of the image; the pilgrims had to pass by the Communist soldiers who patrolled the streets.
Today, the Polish people continue to honor their beloved portrait of the Madonna and Child, especially on August 26, the day reserved by St. Ladislaus. Because of the dark pigment on Our Lady’s face and hands, the image is affectionately called the “Black Madonna,” most beautifully prefigured in the Bible, in the Canticle of Canticles, “I am black but beautiful.” The pigmentation is ascribed primarily to age and the need to keep it hidden for long periods of time in places where the only light was from candles, which colored the painting with smoke.
The miracles attributed to Our Lady of Czestochowa are many and most spectacular. The original accounts of them, some of them cures, are archived by the Pauline Fathers at Jasna Gora.
Papal recognition of the miraculous image was made by Pope Clement XI in 1717. The crown given to the image was used in the first official coronation of the painting, which was stolen in 1909.
Pope Pius X replaced it with a gold one encrusted with jewels.
Miracles, Cures, and Signs
In 1430, Hussites (pre-Reformation reformers) attacked the monastery, slashed the Virgin’s face with a sword, and left it desecrated in a puddle of blood and mud.
It is said that when the monks pulled the icon from the mud, a miraculous fountain appeared, which they used to clean the painting. The icon was repainted in Krakow, but both the arrow mark and the gashes from the sword were left and remain clearly visible today.
In 1655, The miracle for which the Black Madonna of Czestochowa is most famous occurred, when Swedish troops were about to invade Czestochowa. A group of Polish soldiers prayed fervently before the icon for deliverance, and the enemy retreated.
On September 15, 1920, the Virgin again came to the aid of her people, when the Soviet Russian Red Army gathered on the banks of the Vistula River, preparing to attack Warsaw. The citizens and soldiers fervently prayed to Our Lady of Czestochowa and on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, she appeared in the clouds above Warsaw. The Russians were defeated in a series of battles later dubbed the “Miracle at the Vistula.”
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BOOK OF HEAVEN
From the writings of the Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta, The Little Daughter of the Divine Will
March, 18 1917
Effects of fusing oneself in Jesus.
I was praying, fusing all of myself in Jesus, and I wanted each thought of Jesus in my power in order to have life in each thought of creature, and to repair with the same thought of Jesus; and so with all the rest. And my sweet Jesus told me: “My daughter (Luisa), my Humanity on earth did nothing but connect each thought of creature with my own. So, each thought of creature was reflected in my mind, each word in my voice, each heartbeat in my heart, each action in my hands, each step in my feet, and so with all the rest. With this, I offered divine reparations to the Father. Now, all that I did upon earth, I continue in Heaven, and as the creatures think, their thoughts pour into my mind; as they look, I feel their glances in mine. Therefore, a continuous electricity flows between Me and them, just as the members are in continuous communication with the head. And I say to the Father: ‘My Father, I am not the only one who is praying, repairing, satisfying, appeasing You, but there are other creatures who do within Me whatever I do. Even more, with their suffering, they make up for my Humanity, which is glorious and incapable of suffering.’
By fusing herself in Me, the soul repeats all that I did, and continue to do. What will be the contentment of these souls who lived their lives in Me, embracing together with Me all creatures and all reparations, when they will be with Me in Heaven? They will continue their lives in Me; and as the creatures will think or will offend Me with their thoughts, these will be reflected in their minds, and they will continue the reparations which they did on earth. They will be, together with Me, the sentries of honor before the Divine Throne; and as creatures on earth will offend Me, they will do opposite acts in Heaven. They will guard my Throne; they will have the place of honor; they will be the ones who will comprehend Me the most – the most glorious. Their glory will be completely fused in Mine, and Mine in theirs.
Therefore, may your life on earth be completely fused in Mine. Do not do any act without making it pass into Me; and every time you (Luisa) will fuse yourself in Me, I will pour new graces and new light in you (Luisa), and I will become the vigilant sentry of your heart in order to keep any shadow of sin far away from you (Luisa). I will guard you(Luisa) as my own Humanity, and I will command the Angels to surround you (Luisa) like a crown, that you (Luisa) may be sheltered from everything and everyone.”
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The last farewell to Don John Olin Brown.
Posted by luisapiccarreta official.org site
Monday, August 22, 2016, in the Parish of Mater Gratiae, Oasis of Nazareth in Corato the last farewell was given to don John Olin Brown.
His funeral rite was presided by His Excellency Archbishop Giovan Battista Pichierri, with the presence of Mons. Savino Giannotti, Vicar General of the Archdiocese and part of the diocesan clergy.
John Olin Brown was ordained a priest in Trani on November19, 1994. It was the deacon Vincenzo Dileccedi who traced his memory, by reading some of don John’s autobiographical thoughts
He was born in 1952 in a small town near Dallas, Texas. He graduated in philosophy in 1974. He came from a family that was rooted in the Evangelical Church. He had a brother and an aunt who were Pastors of the Methodist Church. His family was considered sufficiently religious. In his country there was not even a Catholic Church, and he never supposed he could to convert to Catholicism.
He received a very rigid moral education from his father. Since he was a child, he felt a special attraction to the Lord, however his vocation, developed over time. After being admitted to the university, he began to feel more strongly the vocational problem and he tried to focus on the philosophical study thinking that in the future he could become involved in the Methodist Church. Meanwhile, he postponed his choice and went back to the “ranch” to work with his father as a cowboy.
After his father’s death he felt free to go back to that “fixed idea” of a God that was tormenting him. During a vacation in Minnesota he met a Jesuit priest who fascinated him with his speech on the Catholic Church, he remained with him for a long period of time, after which he converted to Catholicism. Since he was attracted by the monastic life he lived for a year at a Trappist monastery in Iowa. At that time he learned about the writings of Luisa Piccarreta well known in America, Canada and Mexico, and they were as a completion of his conversion.
Therefore, he come to Italy, he arrived in Corato to visit the Association of Luisa, where he was welcomed by President Sister Assunta Marigliano and the Ordinary of the place, Mons.. Giuseppe Carata who suggested him to finish his theological studies he had begun in Rome. The writings of Luisa, full of high spirituality, managed to give him an existential response that he was unable to find either in philosophy or in several Catholic spiritual currents. His stay in Corato coincided with the period in which the association got, thanks to His Excellency Archbishop Mons. Carmelo Cassati the “non obstare” from the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints to open the process of the Cause for the Beatification of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta..
At Corato, he was amazed at the lack of knowledge by people about the figure of Luisa that instead was well known abroad and, at the same time, he was impressed by the generosity and affection of the people of Corato. He considered himself fortunate to have been formed in the priesthood in the spirituality of Luisa, because what the Servant of God did in her life, embraced and embraces the spirituality of all priests : sanctify themselves for the Kingdom of God. This was also the yearning that Don John always had.
After the proclamation of the Word of God, His Excellency Mons. Pichierri further described the figure of father John: after an absence of about twenty years, he returned to our diocese, where he had become a priest and in which he had exercised the first steps of his ministry, celebrating his first solemn Mass right in the sanctuary of Madonna delle Grazie, on November20 1994 ( the day when the diocesan inquiry on the servant of God Luisa Piccarreta opened)
The archbishop recalled that during a talk he had this year with Don John on his return, he felt in his heart Don John’s great desire not to “fly” over and to stay forever in the land of Luisa Piccarreta, the little creature, the littlest among all people of Corato, towards whom he felt a deep gratitude. Due to a severe lung infection he was hospitalized at first in the hospital of Corato and then in Trani, in intensive care, where he died.
He became a priest in Trani, and he died in Trani on August 20.
The Archbishop pointed out that for our Diocese, welcoming the mortal remains of father John is to be considered a special grace because it allows us to accomplish one of the corporal works of mercy: to bury the dead.
The archbishop also reiterated that the Diocese undertook to establish contacts with his native land, speaking with some of his relatives who immediately expressed their wish to have him there, but given the bureaucratic hurdles and Don John’s desire to stay in the land of Luisa, it was decided to bury him in the cemetery of Corato.
The Archbishop stated: “For me, Father John is a beautiful testimony on the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta, we must therefore be able to preserve the memory of this priest non only as priests, but also as people.”
Don John was no longer the handsome giant of the early days, now he appeared meek as a lamb, always able to say thanks to all those people who approached him to help him.
His conversion is the fruit of the love of God, a God that John had found in the Catholic Church, he served as a priest the Church and announced the Kingdom. Then, the Archbishop exhorted the brothers priests to serve with joy the people that Christ has entrusted to them to walk together towards the eternal Kingdom, that Kingdom where the first creature who was assumed into Heaven has become the Queen of Heaven and earth with our King Jesus Christ.
Don Jon felt this intensely, since he had begun to follow the little daughter of the Divine Will.
Let’s pray that he will be received by the Father and could be considered a small son of the Divine Will.
Jesus says ”the children of the Kingdom of the Divine Will will be those that will render Her the honors of Queen and transforming themselves into suns they will form for Her the most beautiful crown” , may also Don John offer his life turned into sun as a proof of honor and glory.
It is very remarkable that his funeral was celebrated on the day in which the liturgical calendar of the Church commemorates the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoked under the title of Queen.
As each soul enters into Heaven through Mary and by virtue of her motherhood and her pain, we hope that the Blessed Virgin welcomed him and handed over to her Son.
After the Mass, in an atmosphere of sadness and feelings shared by all, the coffin, which was carried on the shoulders by some brothers priests was placed in the hearse.
don Marco Cannavò
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