St. Francis of Assisi: Apostle of fatherhood and brotherhood

St. Francis of Assisi: Apostle of fatherhood and brotherhood

The Lord bless you and keep you. May He show His face to you and have mercy. May He turn His countenance to you and give you peace. The Lord bless you, brother Leo.  St. Francis pronounced these words of blessing to his companion and friend, Brother Leo, in a time when Leo was going through spiritual desolation. I would love this month to have St. Francis accompanying us in our journey with the saints and repeating this blessing with that same love and strength. Interestingly enough, the centuries that separate us from his life could not erase the memory of his words of blessing that we can still read nowadays on the parchment kept intact in the lower basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy. Francis borrowed these words from Scripture that in the book of Numbers...

Servant of God Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo, Apostle of Surrender

Servant of God Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo, Apostle of Surrender

I walked outside to get some fresh air after having turned off the evening news which was filled with updates of the coronavirus spreading throughout the world. With all the worries that flooded my heart, I thought it would be a good time to pray Day 3 of the Surrender Novena: How many things I do when the soul, in so much spiritual and material need turns to me, looks at me and says to me, “You take care of it,” then closes its eyes and rests. In pain you pray for me to act, but that I act in the way you want. You do not turn to me, instead, you want me to adapt to your ideas. You are not sick people who ask the doctor to cure you, but rather sick people who tell the doctor how to. So do not act this way, but pray as I taught you in the Our Father: “Hallowed be...

Saint Bakhita, Apostle of Gratitude

Saint Bakhita, Apostle of Gratitude

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us… And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” — Romans 8:18.28-29 Every time I meditate on this letter from Saint Paul, I am so touched by the word “all” that I ask the Lord for the gift of faith and hope, so that I can really believe that all that happens in our life works for the good of our own life. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed by events that we are unable to see the goodness of the divine project, at least at the beginning, when we are blinded by grief.  We can live for years trying...

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: Apostle of Womanhood

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: Apostle of Womanhood

Have you ever been pursued by a Saint that wants to be your friend? C. S. Lewis says “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” I had that same reaction when I found out that I was born on the feast day of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, better known as Edith Stein. We have so much in common! I grew up in a family that encouraged me as a young girl to be anything that I wanted to be as an adult. I loved learning as a kid, was gifted with intelligence, and wanted to put it to use by seeking a doctorate in Microbiology, a field with few women. Edith Stein was also a very gifted scholar. She had a rough go in her access to education but eventually got a doctorate degree in Philosophy,...

Mother Teresa, Apostle of Charity

Mother Teresa, Apostle of Charity

“‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” – Matthew 25:35-40 This passage from the gospel of Matthew, where we are presented with the final judgement, summarizes in some ways one of the greatest saints of our time: Saint Teresa of...

St. Cecilia, Apostle of Love

St. Cecilia, Apostle of Love

St. Cecilia is one of those great saints who receives a great amount of devotion, especially from musicians. As a matter of fact, I chose her for my confirmation saint because I played the piano! She was born in Rome in the 2nd or 3rd century to a noble family. After having made a vow of virginity to God, she was given in marriage by her parents to a pagan nobleman named Valerian. On the evening of their wedding, she shared with him that an angel was guarding her virginity, and that if he was baptized, he would be able to see the angel. At this, Valerian was converted and went to be baptized by Pope Urban I. At his return, he witnessed the angel, and shortly after, Valerian’s brother Tibertius also converted. Cecilia, Valerian and Tibertius were dedicated to...

St. Paul, Apostle of Freedom

St. Paul, Apostle of Freedom

In 1993 during my last year of studies at the Lateran, I was struck by the course on New Testament exegesis, particularly the writings of St. Paul. Prof. Romano Penna, an internationally acclaimed expert on Paul, fascinated us with this man who untiringly proclaimed the Gospel. One student stood out above the rest: Giuseppe Pulcinelli, who became Prof. Penna’s successor. The friendship that the Lord gave me in these years with Msgr. Pulcinelli has led me to read many of his theological writings and to admire evermore Paul whose name is found on 13 of 27 books in the New Testament. Fr. Salvatore, our founder, has also had a particular interest in Paul for his apostolic fervor. If we Apostles are not “Paulists” we can’t be “infected” with Paul’s zeal. What is the...