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WEDNESDAY

March 18, 1998             SECTION ONE              vol 9, no. 55



The Apostle of Ireland fulfills his mission

     We complete our three part segment on SAINT PATRICK SPEAKS today with the saint's own words in his "Confessions" in which he gives us a glimpse of life and the hardships inherent in fifth-century pagan Ireland. A lesser man would have given up and Patrick talks about his shortcomings, but relying on the Most Holy Trinity to pull him through, he marches on throughout the emerald isle, instilling the faith in those who, prior to his arrival, had none. Since that time the Catholic faith has flourished in Erin thanks to the heroic efforts of good St. Patrick whose feast we celebrated yesterday. For part three of SAINT PATRICK SPEAKS, click on MITERS THAT MATTER

ST. PATRICK SPEAKS Part Three

     In honor of Saint Patrick's Day yesterday, we present the third and final part of the autobiographical confession written by Saint Patrick himself, in Latin, around the year 450. It offers a unique record of life in the British Isles during those times. Patrick was born in England or Scotland, kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland as a teen, escaping probably to northern France, and returning to Ireland as a missionary after a prophetic dream. The rest, as they say, is history. The astonishing thing is that this record of Patrick's own words have surfaced and now available after over a millennium and a half!!! Now we present it as part of our MITERS THAT MATTER series for he truly was a bishop loyal to his Church and to the Holy Trinity of Which He taught.

      So, how is it that in Ireland, where they never had any knowledge of God but, always, until now, cherished idols and unclean things, they are lately become a people of the Lord, and are called children of God; the sons of. the Irish [Scotti] and the daughters of the chieftains are to be seen as monks and virgins of Christ.

      And there was, besides, a most beautiful, blessed, native-born noble Irish [Scotta] woman of adult age whom I baptized; and a few days later she had reason to come to us to intimate that she had received a prophecy from a divine messenger [who] advised her that she should become a virgin of Christ and she would draw nearer to God. Thanks be to God, six days from then, opportunely and most eagerly, she took the course that all virgins of God take, not with their fathers' consent but enduring the persecutions and deceitful hindrances of their parents. Notwithstanding that, their number increases, (we do not know the number of them that are so reborn) besides the widows, and those who practise self-denial. Those who are kept in slavery suffer the most. They endure terrors and constant threats, but the Lord has given grace to many of his handmaidens, for even though they are forbidden to do so, still they resolutely follow his example.

      So it is that even if I should wish to separate from them in order to go to Britain, and most willingly was I prepared to go to my homeland and kinsfolk-- and not only there, but as far as Gaul to visit the brethren there, so that I might see the faces of the holy ones of my Lord, God knows how strongly I desired this-- I am bound by the Spirit, who witnessed to me that if I did so he would mark me out as guilty, and I fear to waste the labour that I began, and not I, but Christ the Lord, who commanded me to come to be with them for the rest of my life, if the Lord shall will it and shield me from every evil, so that I may not sin before him.

      So I hope that I did as I ought, but I do not trust myself as long as I am in this mortal body, for he is strong who strives daily to turn me away from the faith and true holiness to which I aspire until the end of my life for Christ my Lord, but the hostile flesh is always dragging one down to death, that is, to unlawful attractions. And I know in part why I did not lead a perfect life like other believers, but I confess to my Lord and do not blush in his sight, because I am not lying; from the time when I came to know him in my youth, the love of God and fear of him increased in me, and right up until now, by God's favour, I have kept the faith.

      What is more, let anyone laugh and taunt if he so wishes. I am not keeping silent, nor am I hiding the signs and wonders that were shown to me by the Lord many years before they happened, [he] who knew everything, even before the beginning of time.

      Thus, I should give thanks unceasingly to God, who frequently forgave my folly and my negligence, in more than one instance so as not to be violently angry with me, who am placed as his helper, and I did not easily assent to what had been revealed to me, as the Spirit was urging; and the Lord took pity on me thousands upon thousands of times, because he saw within me that I was prepared, but that I was ignorant of what to do in view of my situation; because many were trying to prevent this mission. They were talking among themselves behind my back, and saying: 'Why is this fellow throwing himself into danger among enemies who know not God?' Not from malice, but having no liking for it; likewise, as I myself can testify, they perceived my rusticity. And I was not quick to recognize the grace that was then in me; I now know that I should have done so earlier.

      Now I have put it frankly to my brethren and co-workers, who have believed me because of what I have foretold and still foretell to strengthen and reinforce your faith. I wish only that you, too, would make greater and better efforts. This will be my pride, for 'a wise son makes a proud father'.

      You know, as God does, how I went about among you from my youth in the faith of truth and in sincerity of heart. As well as to the heathen among whom I live, I have shown them trust and always show them trust. God knows I did not cheat any one of them, nor consider it, for the sake of God and his Church, lest I arouse them and [bring about] persecution for them and for all of us, and lest the Lord's name be blasphemed because of me, for it is written: 'Woe to the men through whom the name of the Lord is blasphemed.'

      For even though I am ignorant in all things, nevertheless I attempted to safeguard some and myself also. And I gave back again to my Christian brethren and the virgins of Christ and the holy women the small unasked for gifts that they used to give me or some of their ornaments which they used to throw on the altar. And they would be offended with me because I did this. But in the hope of eternity, I safeguarded myself carefully in all things, so that they might not cheat me of my office of service on any pretext of dishonesty, and so that I should not in the smallest way provide any occasion for defamation or disparagement on the part of unbelievers.

      What is more, when I baptized so many thousands of people, did I hope for even half a jot from any of them? [If so] Tell me, and I will give it back to you. And when the Lord ordained clergy everywhere by my humble means, and I freely conferred office on them, if I asked any of them anywhere even for the price of one shoe, say so to my face and I will give it back.

      More, I spent for you so that they would receive me. And I went about among you, and everywhere for your sake, in danger, and as far as the outermost regions beyond which no one lived, and where no one had ever penetrated before, to baptize or to ordain clergy or to confirm people. Conscientiously and gladly I did all this work by God's gift for your salvation.

      From time to time I gave rewards to the kings, as well as making payments to their sons who travel with me; notwithstanding which, they seized me with my companions, and that day most avidly desired to kill me. But my time had not yet come. They plundered everything they found on us anyway, and fettered me in irons; and on the fourteenth day the Lord freed me from their power, and whatever they had of ours was given back to us for the sake of God on account of the indispensable friends whom we had made before.

      Also you know from experience how much I was paying to those who were administering justice in all the regions, which I visited often. I estimate truly that I distributed to them not less than the price of fifteen men, in order that you should enjoy my company and I enjoy yours, always, in God. I do not regret this nor do I regard it as enough. I am paying out still and I shall pay out more. The Lord has the power to grant me that I may soon spend my own self, for your souls.

      Behold, I call on God as my witness upon my soul that I am not lying; nor would I write to you for it to be an occasion for flattery or selfishness, nor hoping for honour from any one of you. Sufficient is the honour which is not yet seen, but in which the heart has confidence. He who made the promise is faithful; he never lies.

      But I see that even here and now, I have been exalted beyond measure by the Lord, and I was not worthy that he should grant me this, while I know most certainly that poverty and failure suit me better than wealth and delight (but Christ the Lord was poor for our sakes; I certainly am wretched and unfortunate; even if I wanted wealth I have no resources, nor is it my own estimation of myself, for daily I expect to be murdered or betrayed or reduced to slavery if the occasion arises. But I fear nothing, because of the promises of Heaven; for I have cast myself into the hands of Almighty God, who reigns everywhere. As the prophet says: 'Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you.'

      Behold now I commend my soul to God who is most faithful and for whom I perform my mission in obscurity, but he is no respecter of persons and he chose me for this service that I might be one of the least of his ministers.

      For which reason I should make return for all that he returns me. But what should I say, or what should I promise to my Lord, for I, alone, can do nothing unless he himself vouchsafe it to me. But let him search my heart and [my] nature, for I crave enough for it, even too much, and I am ready for him to grant me that I drink of his chalice, as he has granted to others who love him.

      Therefore may it never befall me to be separated by my God from his people whom he has won in this most remote land. I pray God that he gives me perseverance, and that he will deign that I should be a faithful witness for his sake right up to the time of my passing.

      And if at any time I managed anything of good for the sake of my God whom I love, I beg of him that he grant it to me to shed my blood for his name with proselytes and captives, even should I be left unburied, or even were my wretched body to be torn limb from limb by dogs or savage beasts, or were it to be devoured by the birds of the air, I think, most surely, were this to have happened to me, I had saved both my soul and my body. For beyond any doubt on that day we shall rise again in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as children of the living God and co-heirs of Christ, made in his image; for we shall reign through him and for him and in him.

      For the sun we see rises each day for us at [his] command, but it will never reign, neither will its splendour last, but all who worship it will come wretchedly to punishment. We, on the other hand, shall not die, who believe in and worship the true sun, Christ, who will never die, no more shall he die who has done Christ's will, but will abide for ever just as Christ abides for ever, who reigns with God the Father Almighty and with the Holy Spirit before the beginning of time and now and for ever and ever. Amen.

      Behold over and over again I would briefly set out the words of my confession. I testify in truthfulness and gladness of heart before God and his holy angels that I never had any reason, except the Gospel and his promises, ever to have returned to that nation from which I had previously escaped with difficulty.

      But I entreat those who believe in and fear God, whoever deigns to examine or receive this document composed by the obviously unlearned sinner Patrick in Ireland, that nobody shall ever ascribe to my ignorance any trivial thing that I achieved or may have expounded that was pleasing to God, but accept and truly believe that it would have been the gift of God. And this is my confession before I die.


And the blind shall see!

     Those words by Jesus in Matthew 11: 5 can be applied to the special "Apostle of Garabandal" Joey Lomangino, the 68-year old American who is blind and has been spreading the messages and devotion of Garabandal for decades. Today in our sixtieth installment of our on-going megaseries on Marian Apparitions, we continue with the Garabandal phenomena, giving the reader a glimpse of this remarkable man and his mission and his relationship with a special mystic - Padre Pio. For the sixth segment on Garabandal, click on THE AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS
Installment Sixty

GARABANDAL: For whom the Bells Toll! - The Blind Apostle - Emissary of Love

Part Five

      The message of Garabandal was virtually unknown to the world until God hand-picked His own messenger to spread the news far and wide. This representative of repentance has come to be affectionately known as "the Blind Apostle." He is Joey Lomangino, a 68-year old dynamo who has been blind since 1947. We are grateful to Joey, founder of The Workers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and his organization for the resources in presenting this feature.

      Joey’s story is one that touches the hearts of all and ties in Padre Pio. Forty-seven years ago in 1947 at the age of 17 Joey had a freak accident in which he completely lost his sight. After surgery his optic and olfactory nerves were severed. Undaunted Joey went on with his life and built up a secular business. In 1961 his doctor strongly recommended he take some time off and possibly take in Europe on vacation. Being of Italian descent, Joey made plans to visit his uncle in southern Italy. Unbeknownst to Joey God had some special plans in store.

      Like the majority of us before our conversion, spirituality was not at the top of his list. In fact, by Joey’s own admission, he was not the model Catholic. But his uncle talked him into driving with him for several hours to San Giovanni Rotundo so he could meet a special priest who had the visible stigmata. Reluctantly, Joey agreed. When Joey got there he didn’t really know what to make of it all and, through his uncle, was included in a special audience with the renowned Padre Pio. The semi-private audience moved Joey to go to Confession, but he was still reluctant to open up. Padre Pio urged him on twice in Italian. Still Joey was hesitant. Then in perfect English Padre Pio began reading Joey’s soul, detailing names, places and situations in which Joey had fallen into sin. Joey was taken back in awe and humility. He was moved to tears and overcome with a newly found inner joy and peace.

      It was during his short stay there that he was able to smell anything for the first time in fourteen years. As Padre Pio blessed him, the holy priest held his blood-stained hand to Joey’s mouth for the young blind man to kiss. It was at that instant that Joey was overcome by the strong, sweet scent of roses emitting from the blood. His joy overflowed. As Joey tells it, he didn’t want to leave this special place where he had gained such peace and tranquillity - yet his uncle reminded him that Garabandal was still on the itinerary and they had to get going. Fearing it might be the devil who was enticing him to Garabandal in order to lose this beautiful inner peace he now had, he wanted a confirmation that he should go to Garabandal. His confirmation came from none other that Padre Pio himself who flatly told Joey, "Yes, go, Joey. It is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is appearing there."

      After that, Joey didn’t need a car or any other transportation to get to this rugged mountain village southwest of Santander, Spain. He was on cloud nine. As it turned out, in order to get to the village one had to go either on horseback or oxcart. Joey chose the latter.

      In the early days of Garabandal the visionaries were quite accessible and so Joey and the girls immediately struck a special bond that has lasted to this day. So on fire was this "blind apostle" that on the return to the States, he began to go out into neighboring towns and parishes to tell anyone who would listen of the wonders he had experienced and the vital message of Garabandal. Despite his handicap he continued, branching out to where today his apostolate reaches every state, every nation of the world. This child-like man with the charismatic personality who is so full of joy and kindness has touched millions, much like Wayne Weible has done for the Medjugorje movement.

      Joey has a mission that will eventually take him back to Garabandal when the great Miracle occurs for Our Lady, on the feast of her beloved chaste spouse St. Joseph in 1964, revealed to Conchita in a locution that Joey would have his vision completely restored on that great day when the Miracle is manifested. He will see it!

NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part Six - Garabandal: For whom the Bells Toll! They saw the Miracle

Taking time out to commemorate an early bishop and doctor of the Church

     Today we celebrate the optional feast of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, a fierce defender of the true faith in the face of a stacked deck by the Arian heretics who managed to have him exiled through false accusations. But in the end Cyril won out because he relied solely on God. For his inspiring story and a glimpse of tomorrow's glorious solemnity of Saint Joseph with all the readings, meditations and liturgies, we invite you to click on LITURGY OF THE DAY

WEDNESDAY, March 18, 1998

SAINT CYRIL OF JERUSALEM, BISHOP AND DOCTOR

     Born in Jerusalem in 315, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem was ordained by Saint Maximus and was charged to teach the catechumens until he succeeded Maximus as bishop of Jerusalem in 349. However, after eight years the Arian heresy reared its ugly head and the Arian bishop of Caesarea Acacius claimed ecclesiastical charge over Jerusalem and had Cyril not only expelled, but condemned by an Arian synod on the false charges of selling Church possessions. Cyril was forced to retreat to Tarsus where he bided his time until 357 when the Council of Selucia reinstated him. But Acacius retaliated by convincing the Roman Emperor Constantius II by having him expelled again. However, when Constantius died two years later his successor Julian the Apostate recalled Cyril. This roller coaster continued in 367 when the new emperor Valens expelled all ecclesiastics who Julian had reinstated. Nine years later Cyril finally returned to Jerusalem but was still under investigation. In an effort to clear his name and the situation the Council of Antioch dispatched Saint Gregory of Nyssa to Palestine to do a thorough investigation. Gregory's findings, which unearthed the corruption within the Arian administration in Jerusalem, totally exonerated Cyril of any wrong doing and upheld him as an orthodox bishop who had been loyal to the faith throughout his life. In 381 Cyril and Gregory took an active role in the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople which officially recognized Cyril's authenticity as bishop of Jerusalem. At that same council the Nicene Creed was made official and Cyril concurred with everything within its text. A life-long opponent of Arianism, which denied Christ's divinity and the Holy Spirit, Cyril signed a document which condemned those who held to any kind of Arian thoughts, especially the peoples of Macedonia. After 35 years as a bishop, Cyril died peacefully in 386. Nearly fifteen centuries later Cyril was finally recognized as a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1882, largely because of the authenticity, clarity and truth of his 24 catechetical lessons that had been passed down through the ages.


THURSDAY, March 19, 1998

SAINT JOSEPH, FOSTER FATHER OF JESUS, PROTECTOR OF MARY

      So much has been said about this very special, holy, pure and quiet saint...and yet, so little is really known about Saint Joseph. No one can pinpoint the exact year he died, but we do know he died a happy, peaceful death richly deserved because of his obedience to the Will of God in being the earthly guardian of God's Own Son and the Immaculate Mother Mary through whom He chose to fulfill the Act of Redemption. Saint Joseph is the saint most often invoked for the grace of a happy death and the assurance that Jesus is spiritually present at that time with every dying soul. While Mary was the heart of the Holy Family, Joseph was the head, yet always submitting to a higher Power in all things...from accepting Mary's virgin birth as truly from God to rallying the family in the cold of the night to flee from Herod's wrath into a land he knew nothing about, only that God would not abandon him or those he was charged to protect. Every virtue can be attributed to this saint who bridged the Old Law, born into the royal family of David's lineage, and the New Law and guided to maturity his foster Son Jesus Christ, our Savior. Because of his role in protecting the Holy Family he has been designated Protector of Holy Mother Church as well. Yet, it is surprising to discover that this pivotal saint was not really recognized until the fourth century and then that veneration was in the Eastern Church because of the apocryphal History of Joseph. In the Western Church only in the ninth century was there first any mention of Joseph and that was in Irish circles. It wasn't until the fifteenth century that Joseph began receiving widespread veneration in the West when his feast was introduced into the Roman Calendar in the year 1479. It took two great saints to promote his cause for universal appeal - that of Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Francis de Sales, both doctors of the Church. This recognition finally came in 1870 when Pope Pius IX declared him Patron of the Universal Church. More honors were extended to Joseph in 1889 when Pope Leo XIII made Joseph the model for all fathers in his encyclical Quanquam pluries in which he confirmed "that his pre-eminent sanctity places him next to the Blessed Virgin among the saints." Other recent Popes have also extended special titles on Joseph, among them "Protector of the worker" by Pope Benedict XV, "Patron of Social Justice" by Pope Pius XI and an additional feast day was added in 1955 by Pope Pius XII - May 1 to observe the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker.

PRAYERS & DEVOTION

Today's prayer is taken from the Opening Prayer of the Optional Mass for Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

      Father, through Cyril of Jerusalem You led Your Church to a deeper understanding of the mysteries of salvation. Let his prayers help us to know Your Son better and to have eternal life in all its fullness.

For more devotions of Lent, click on
WAY OF THE CROSS


Click here to go to SECTION TWO or click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue.


March 18, 1998 volume 9, no. 55         DAILY CATHOLIC