Warriors of God

We may associate warriors as enlisted men, cavaliers, gladiators, and soldiers. But there are unlikely heroes and warriors in history, the saints. A number of them braved the impossible for the glory of God. Their life’s decisions may be insane for today’s knowing-all-but-lacks-wisdom world. 

Saint Augustine said that: “Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure: where your treasure, there your heart; where your heart, there your happiness”. This was the driving force for these warriors of God to have a clear trajectory of finding the kingdom of God. Let’s hear some examples why these warriors of God are very much worth emulating. 

The Power of Obedience 

Obedience may be the mother of all virtue, from the old testament, we can read how the patriarchs and prophets have so much trust in God. Abraham were asked by God to offer his only son. But he did obey. Moses was called by God to free his people from the bondage of Egypt. An almost impossible feat for our understanding, to be asked to demand a reigning power to release its slaves. But he did obey. St. Joseph, foster father to Our Lord Jesus heed the messages of God thru dreams and angels to protect and secure the Holy family from great dangers during the nativity of Jesus. He obeyed and acted fast. 

A good warrior will always follow order from the goodness of his superior. But to receive a message from God or a God-sent messenger is an entirely different level. Take the case of the children of Fatima, Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto with Lucia dos Santos, received the message of Fatima. The three of them have to carry the weight of these messages and put their family in great distress. It was months of anxious wait and judgement the children received from the people around them. 

The deafness of St. Joan of Arc was never a hindrance to follow a voice from heaven to save France and help France’s rightful heir be crowned. Her obedience was inspired, she may be an illiterate 13-year old French peasant girl, but that did not stop her to led an army at 18 to fulfill a message from heaven. 

Bernadette Soubirous was chosen by Our Lady to relay a message for a chapel to be built in Lourdes, France. She obeyed. She had to face humiliations and suspicions at the age of 14. A brave act for a message to be sent out of obedience. Saints Jacinta, Francisco, Lucia*, Joan and Bernadette just barely became teens and yet their obedience were extraordinary. Today’s generation may take it as something impossible and illogical to do. But the Holy Spirit knows the purity of intentions of these chosen children. God was with them. 

(*Lucia dos Santos is yet to be beatified or canonized, but this writer believe that she is with the other children of Fatima in heaven. Our Lady herself said that she would take the other two first, Jacinta and Francisco, a significant point that she would follow when the time comes.) 

Like a true warrior of God, they followed without hesitation, no complaints and no conditions. They accepted the instructions and braved to complete the mission. There were odds and the challenges were very personal. But they took action, that was obedience. 

Brave the Storm 

A good warrior will brave the storm and will never quit. 

In order not to quit one needs to be strong. To be strong means to be brave in order to face the storm and challenges in life’s battle. 

Most saints had shown courageous acts of charity and hope. We can write endless names of saints who bravely fought for their faith and for other people. Many martyrs died and fought emperors who persecuted early Christians. Missionaries, catechists and Christian converts were martyred in their countries for professing their faith. They breathe life in their journey and made a mark for their brave efforts for God. 

St. Ignatius of Loyola’s order of the Jesuits led the Counter-Reformation in the 16th century. He was a soldier who was injured and found the fire to serve God and do missionary work. His order of the Society of Jesus organized Catholic education and missionary work. Fellow Jesuits like St. Francis Xavier evangelized in unfamiliar countries like Japan and India. St. Peter Claver help alleviate the agony of slaves in Cartagena. His apostolate and care for the people were prominent and baptized approximately 300,000 slaves during his ministry. To face the tide against slavery during those times were surely not easy. St Peter Canisius, also a Jesuit, acted like a secret agent as he carry important documents from the Council of Trent. Messengers like Peter from the Catholic church were prevented by aggressive Protestant followers to have these important documents sent. And so he smuggle those decrees to be sent to all of bishops in Europe. 

The order of Jesuits and its holy men and missionaries made sacrifices and endured the struggles to help strengthen the Catholic church and its members. A brave act of love for God to discover unfamiliar territories to preach and do missionary work and education. 

Jan Sobieski, King of Poland saved the whole of Europe from the possible defeat from the Ottomans in the great Battle of Vienna in 1683. It was a desperate situation as no help was coming for Vienna, but King Jan responded with the aid of prayer and pilgrimage to the shrine of Virgin of Czestochowa. He was quick to respond and swept down more than 300,000 Ottomans and successfuly won even with a smaller number of Polish army. Bravely led them to victory and humbly offering the victory to Our Lady. 

Like a true warrior of God, they acted without hesitation, no complaints and no conditions. They knew the odds but they knew the goal was for the greater glory of God. The Lord is with us as written in Deutronomy 31:6, “Do manfully and be of good heart: fear not, nor be ye dismayed at their sight: for the Lord thy God he himself is thy leader, and will not leave thee nor forsake thee.” 

Warrior of Love, Warrior of God 

A warrior always serves a master, a leader or a superior. Its loyalty, dedication and action serves a purpose. Its action comes from his innate kindness that is inspired. There were many saints who have great devotion to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They would even sacrifice their life to protect the Holy Eucharist. 

Take the case of St. Tarcisius, a young boy who offered to take the Holy Eucharist during the Christian persecution of Emperor Valerian. He was suspected by young Roman teens carrying something on his chest. He was stoned and beaten but he remained steadfast protecting the Eucharist to his death. 

San Pedro de Jesus Maldonado of Mexico dedicatedly performed his ministry despite the Christian persecution by his government. He was arrested from his hiding place and was beaten up and fractured his skull. The day before he was almost beaten to death he offered his life to end the Christian persecution but prayed he would be able to receive Communion before his death. San Pedro performed his duty with love and fervor like a true warrior of God. 

“Hear Mass daily; it will prosper the whole day. All your duties will be performed the better for it, and your soul will be stronger to bear its daily cross. The Mass is the most holy act of religion; you can do nothing that can give greater glory to God or be more profitable for your soul than to hear Mass both frequently and devoutly. It is the favorite devotion of the saints.”, a great reminder from St. Peter Julian Eymard. 

He founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament. His advocacy was to encourage people to frequent Holy Communion. He started working with children in preparing them receive their First Holy Communion, and worked incessantly to bring back people non-practicing Catholics who have lost time to the devotion. St. Peter proved to many with his works and journey as a warrior of God. 

St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta embraced the abandoned people. Her Missionaries of Charity took care and served the poorest of the poor. The neglected ones she embraced and dedicated her life to make sure that they feel the love of God. “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”, she said. She was a warrior with great love in her mission that her good deeds were known around the world. 

Just like any warrior, her struggles of realities in helping the poor were many. But her faith was steady, “Do not allow yourselves to be disheartened by any failure as long as you have done your best.”, said the saint. Just like any warrior in battle she fought like a true warrior of love. 

St. Roch, patron saint of plagues and contagious diseases, served many communities in Italy and other plague-stricken areas, curing them by making the sign of the cross. Before that he already gave away his fortune to those in need. The poor and the sick he gave his time and effort to serve and heal them with the grace of God. He was quick to serve even when he himself was stricken with the plague like a true warrior of love. 

Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends, (John 15:13). That is what St. Maximillan Kolbe did in the German death camp in Auschwitz during the Second World War. He was arrested but just like a true sheperd brought solace to his fellow inmates in prison. Until he offered to die in exchange of a stranger, offered the gift of life for another like a true warrior of love. 

Like a true warrior of God, they acted without hesitation, no complaints and no conditions. They spread the gospel of Our Lord with their comforting wisdom and words to their neighbor. St. Benedict once said, “No one should follow what he considers to be good for himself, but rather what seems good for another. Let them put Christ before all else; and may he lead us all to everlasting life.” Their actions and genuine resolutions were acts of a true warrior of love a warrior of God.


How much do we love a departed loved one?

We, Catholics has to be reminded of many things that we already know. 

Our body has a soul and upon death the soul will need to be purified in order to enter heaven. That soul will have to be cleansed in purgatory in order to make sure “… nothing unclean will enter (heaven),” (Revelations 21:27). And by purification it is by means of fire. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1031): The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. 606  The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire: 607. 

Also “The fire of Purgatory is the same as the fire of Hell; the difference between them is that the fire of Purgatory is not everlasting,” said St. John Marie Vianney. A fire that cleanses and consumes. How blazing can a divine soul-purifying-fire can be compared to the material fire we know that can be extinguished here on earth. From the book Thirty Days’ Devotion to the Holy Souls, it was related by St. Peter Damian how even imperfections of saints need to be cleansed by the fire of purgatory. The book also revealed in one instance how a soul before his death, plead for prayer and offer a Holy Sacrifice of the Mass from his fellow priest. He suffered for what seemed to be 30 years in the flames of purgatory, when in fact it was barely an hour of his demise. If a fire can actually purify a soul how painful can it be? Can you picture a dear friend or love one suffering from a raging fire at this very moment? They are surely asking for our prayers, to offer them Holy Mass for the repose of their souls. Just how much do we love a departed love one? 

The holy souls in purgatory cannot do acts of reparation for their sins. It’s being cleansed by the divine fire created by God out of His great love for us to purify us. The most loving Father has given us another chance to be worthy of heaven. 1030, All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. (CCC) 

Praying for the dead is encouraged by the church for it is written in the Book of 2 Maccabees 12:44-45, “For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore, he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” 

A big dilemma for our Protestant brothers for they do not agree and do not believe in such offering. They removed the Book of Maccabees from the original 73 books of the Bible as they have only 66. But even St. Paul prayed for Onesiphorus who has died, 2 Timothy 1: 17-18. 

“Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their fathers sacrifices why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.”, said  St. John Chrysostom. 

Thus, as devout Catholics it is our duty to assist the holy souls in purgatory in order for them to be delivered from the cleansing flames. There are many ways we can help the departed, especially our love ones. The flames is constantly blazing to purify their soul, thus to picture their condition is beyond words. It is a must for us, the living, to free them with our ways as taught by the church and the saints. 

Offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, a rosary prayer, a good deed, sprinkling holy water on the grave, and offering a prayer to the departed whenever we passed by a cemetery, a church or a vision from a dream will help alleviate the sufferings they have. These acts are part of tradition and taught to Catholics to aid the Church Suffering. It will quench their thirst for love and refresh their souls from the torture and pain they have to endure in purgatory. 

Just how much do we love a departed loved one? We love them. And we should free them and join Jesus and Mary with the Church Triumphant, the saints. We can only show our true love and how much we value their memory by always always making the effort to gather all the necessary available grace and sacrifices for the release of their holy souls. 

St. Margaret Mary once said: 

“If only you knew with what great longing these holy souls yearn for relief from their suffering. Ingratitude has never entered Heaven.”


Faith By Colors

God made man to understand the value of hues to represent celebrations, and period of penance and sacrifice. Our patriachs, the prophets and holy men in the bible used colors as part of tradition. To please God and to give glory to His coming and salvation to mankind. Even then, colors bear spiritual significance on, prayer, worship and thanksgiving. 

However, the dark side also came up with his own brand of misleading ‘knowledge’ of the significance of these colors. Teaching men of acquiring wealth, protection and power by understanding the use of colors. While colors indeed has a therapeutic effect, it is because God made them. However, the dark side had seduced men of different cultures around the world the energies colors’ possesses. The fengshui believing red is a auspicious color to bring in all the wealth and happiness. Making yearly festivities of wanting more by wearing red bearing all the red charms to display. The chakras of energies from colored candles and other material objects in the hope of absorbing all the positive outcome from the universe. The colors of gem stones to carry to attract love life or a good luck charm. From the feeding of the dark side, all of these all important colors had become for material gain and spiritual lost. 

While the Catholic church has always been appropriately using colors to convey the gospel and the grace to the faithful. It’s because of the deep understanding from Apostolic traditions both oral and written. That is why liturgical colors can be seen in rites, the sacraments and relics. This liturgical colors are necessary for the faithful to benefit and to receive grace from the Holy Masses, feasts and celebrations in the church. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) formalized the Catholic liturgical colors. 

Here are some of the colors and their symbolic uses from the Catholic church: 


A color of purity, triumph, joy and innocence. It is used during Christmas season, Easter and Feast of the Lord Jesus Christ other than of His passion. Feasts of the Apostles and during consecration of churches and altars and administration of the sacraments of Baptism, Viaticum and Holy Matrimony. 


It represents sacrifice, His Precious Blood and God’s love. It is used on Feasts of Christ’s passion, on Feast of the martyrs, and on the week of the Pentecost. 


This color represents hope as it is worn during ordinary Sundays 


This color is all for penance and humility. The color of Advent and specially during Lent. This color is very evident when the covering of draperies the images of saints during Lenten season is usually in violet fabric. It is also used on Mass at the blessing of candles and of holy water. 


It signifies sorrow, mourning, sacrifice and penance. The color of Good Friday during the death of Our Lord in His Passion in calvary. It is also used in masses for the dead (Requiem Masses) and All Soul’s day. 

All this liturgical colors is for the glory of God. Every devout Catholic knows that even blue is another important color, the color of Mary, the Mother of God. During Marian feasts, the Immaculate Concepcion or during October month of the rosary, blue and white will always show that special mark of Mary. 

We can see the polarity on how colors are used to gain material and spiritual grace. Hopefully, we make use of the palettes of colors God gifted us to feed our soul. Only God can give our life color and every color God gave us should not blind us. But should lead us to His Kingdom, our true home, where our true color with God shines. biblical-by-lawrence-luna/


Faith By Numbers

There maybe so much to know and remember but one can learn in understanding Catholicism one step at a time. Just like a childs faith, simple, innocent and growing with confidence in God. To quickly remember, here are some quick infos from one to ten, basic and interesting trivias:


There is One True God.

The First Commandment is I am the Lord your God: You shall not have strange Gods before me.


The two covenants with God: The Old and the New Testament

There are only two faiths wherein God’s Truth were revealed: Judaism and Catholicism

The two that caused the fall and closed the gates of Paradise: Adam and Eve

The two that brought salvation and opened the gates of Heaven: Jesus and Mary


The Holy Trinity has Three Persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit

Three things we must possess as humans: Love, faith and hope

The three gifts of the three kings and their meanings: Gold (love), myrrh (passion), and frankincense (prayer)


There are four evangelist who wrote the life of Jesus in the new testament: St. John, St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. Luke.

The four last things we believe in as Catholics are: Death, Purgatory, Hell and Heaven.


In the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25-1-13) the five wise ones prepared oils for their lamps while the other five slumber and did not.

Five loaves and two fish were miraculously multiplied by Christ to feed 5000, a miracle recorded in the Bible by the four evangelists.


The world was created by God in 6 days.


God rested on the 7th day after the creation of the universe.

Seven is a very prominent number in the Catholic faith for there are many sevens of grace and purification.,

We have the seven archangels, each has its own special merit and protection for those who pray for their intercession: Archangel St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, St. Uriel, St. Seatiel, St. Judihel and St Baraquiel.

There are seven sacraments instituted by Christ: Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist, Reconciliation, Matrimony, the Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick.

Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit:  Wisdom, piety, fortitude, understanding, counsel, knowledge, and fear of the Lord.

There are seven corporal works of mercy, seven spiritual works of mercy, and the seven capital sins. The book of revelations of the Apostle John revealed seven angels with seven bowls, and the sounding of the seven trumpets in the end days.


Eight people were saved when God cleansed the earth with the Great Flood. Noah and his wife, his three sons and their wives.


From the 10 lepers Jesus healed, nine did not return to say thanks.

Nine ungrateful/ oblivious to God’s blessing.

Nine in the morning when Jesus was scourged in the pillar.


Ten plaques came to Egypt to keep the Jews from the bondage of Egypt.

The Ten commandments were revealed to Moses by God in Mount Sinai.

One to ten short infos, details of our church’s history, of our church’s spiritual journey. Understanding the short list can go a long way and may open our faith to better understand dogmas. “As newborn babes, desire the rational milk without guile, that thereby you may grow unto salvation:”, (I Peter 2:2. Duoay-Rheims bible). A child can perform wonders like those of the lives of saints. Jesus said that: “Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3.)

Thus, let us grow with Christ, with the Catholic Church. Learning something new each day about our faith. Just like a child’s faith, simple, innocent and growing with confidence in God.


The Sacrament for the June Bride

As a Catholic, we were raised to understand that graces generously come from the sacraments Christ instituted, this includes the sacrament of matrimony. A sacrament to start an new life by union of a baptized man and a woman in the Catholic church. “Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

From old testament to the new one on the Gospel of Mark: “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother; and shall cleave to his wife.  And they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10:6-9 Duoay-Rheims Bible)

In marriage, we are bound to build a family, “And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28). To bear children and grandchildren that will worship and give thanksgiving to God and His kingdom.

Even early Christians teach serious counsel and writings about marriage and it can be traced back from holy biblical personalities like from the letter of Ignatius of Antioch’s letter to St. Polycarp (A.D. 107)

“Tell my sisters to love the Lord and to be altogether contented with their husbands. Similarly urge my brothers in the name of Jesus Christ “to love their wives as the Lord loves the Church.” If anyone can live in chastity for the honor of the Lord’s flesh, let him do so without ever boasting. If he boasts of it, he is lost; and if he is more highly honored than the bishop, his chastity is as good as forfeited. It is right for men and women who marry to be united with the bishop’s approval. In that way their marriage will follow God’s will and not the promptings of lust. Let everything be done so as to advance God’s honor.” (From The Catholic Catechism book of John A. Hardon, S.J. p.533)

If only we dig deep into the beauty of the sacrament of matrimony in the Catholic church, our early fathers and saints have already defined very significant symbols in the union’s rites. We do not need a Juno we never knew to be auspicious as if we place our fate by luck.

What we need are the likes of Mary and Joseph who were blessed from the start by the God. Every bride and groom need not to find the perfect patron in union of marriage. Mary, full of grace and humility can be every bride’s example as a wife and mother. Also, every groom can aspire to follow Joseph’s example of simplicity and being hardworking father to Jesus and protective husband to Mary. He endured tough times for Jesus and Mary when he had to lead their escape and stand for them.

Every bride and groom in the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony must ask Mary and Joseph to be their guide in the coming days and years, to truly withstand the trying times and find joy in God’s blessing. No Juno or any other god can match what Christ’s instituted. For any day and any month is the day of the Lord.


40 Days of Faith

That is why these preparations are not unsupported. Only God can truly shed light on the importance of 40 days in the lives of all of us. It can be read in biblical history, in the lives of prophets and saints how in 40 days God prepares, strengthens and purifies man to be worthy of his kingdom.

40 days happened several times in the Holy Bible. In Genesis 7:12, “ And the rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” The Great Flood during the time of Noah cleansed the face of the earth from the wickedness of men.

Moses stayed in Mount Sinai for forty days when he received the ten commandments. “And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights: he neither ate bread nor drank water, and he wrote upon the tables the ten words of the covenant.”, (Exodus 34:28).

40 years in the wilderness, that’s what happened to the children of Israel who was freed from the bondage of Egyptians. Still, they murmurred and lost faith in God. And so their fate was wandering for 40 years before the promised land be found. As the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “According to the number of the forty days, wherein you viewed the land: year shall be counted for a day. And forty years you shall receive your iniquities, and shall know my revenge:” (Numbers 14:34)

Even the prophets were witness to the 40 days’ significance. Prophet Jonah warned the people of Nineveh for 40 days to repent from their sinful ways unless they will be destroyed. The people listened and fast and so they were spared. Prophet Ezekiel laid on his right side for 40 days one day for each year of Judah’s sins. Elijah traveled for to Mount Horeb for 40 days and 40 nights.

Our Lord Jesus Christ himself was tempted before His Passion: “Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry.” (Matthew 4:1-2)

Jesus’ example of fasting and prayer during those 40 days was a perfect guide for all of us in following Him to Calvary. Our Lord Himself showed us how to prepare. Fasting and prayer are acts of tempering our spirit, body and soul for great sufferings. Again Pope St. Gregory the great said, “It is impossible to engage in spiritual conflict, without the previous subjugation of the appetite.” The sacrifice and penances we make during Lent we carry after Easter. The 40 days of Lent is like a season of training for the year ahead. We reap what we sow. St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians reminded them, ”Now this I say: He who soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly: and he who soweth in blessings, shall also reap blessings. (2 Corinthians 9:6)

Most Catholics believe as part of tradition that a departed soul wanders on earth for 40 days before his/her final call to cross the afterlife. The reason behind rosaries, special prayers and masses are said and offered to a departed love one on the 40th day of his /her passing.

Jesus Christ appeared before the apostles 40 days after His resurrection. “To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them, and speaking of the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3). And ascended into heaven 40 days after.

40 days or 40 years in the Bible were testament to many kinds of challenges and triumphs. God has shown us His patience, love and mercy. Mankind was able to show his obedience, faith and courage. “Be you humbled therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in the time of visitation: Casting all your care upon him, for he hath care of you. (Peter 5:6-7)

Whether it be 40 days or 40 years, we as devout followers of Christ and the Holy Catholic Church have to endure with our faith. Trusting the ways of the Lord and preparing with His grace.

Sacramental Tradition

The Sign of the Cross

The holy priest St. John understands the power of the sign of the cross. Reminding us to make it a point to remember its capacity to bring the necessary grace and protection, especially from the devil.

The Holy Cross is one icon, image or form that Catholics and Christians will always recognize. It strikingly express the sacrifice Our Lord Jesus Christ that day in Calvary. Every Catholic homes, hospitals and schools usually have crosses to show their affiliation to Christ. Catholic families learn early the special sacramental act of making the sign of the cross. A child would be taught and impress this simple act or gesture by their parents the sign of the cross before any other prayer.

Catholics are expected to pray all the time of the day. Especially in the morning when we ask for essential graces to start the day. We instinctively do the sign before we pray. By making the sacramental sign, we make a prayer, ask the blessing and protection from God, the Holy Trinity.

Making the sign of the cross were universally all part of early tradition and practices. But there is one manner in which everyone is most familiar with.
The sign of the cross is made by positioning together all thumb, index and middle finger upright, while the ring and little finger down were preserved and practiced both in the the Byzantine rite and western traditions. The Roman Catholic Church also does the same gesture while saying the prayer to the Holy Trinity with the sign, the words:

“In the name of the Father (placing the fingers at the forehead), and of the Son (at the stomach) and of the Holy Spirit (across the shoulders). Amen”

“In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen” (in Latin)

Others would do the sign with an open hand, still showing reverence and faith for the blessing desired.

It is part of our public act of worship and devotion. Catholics would always make the sign of the cross when passing over a Catholic church. Before entering a church, it is customary to look for the holy water to dip one’s hand or finger before kneeling upon entry while making the sign. Before and after meals after the prayer of grace and thanksgiving. Even during baptism, god parents were asked to make a sign of the cross on the child, a blessing and protection being part of the christian community. Some would instinctively make the sign in times of distress, anxiety or fear, but also it is a done in great joy, in excitement and thanksgiving.

Other denominations are hostile towards this custom since they cannot fully comprehend the faith involve. But the sorrow and sufferings it brings is also the same Christ who brought salvation thru this sign, making it a source of comfort, healing, peace and joy to Christians who the Spirit of God has shown faith with it.

“For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God” — I Corinthians 1:18 Douay-Rheims Bible

“He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.” – Philippians 2:8 Douay-Rheims Bible

It is foolishness for those who have interpreted the message of Christ differently. When in fact, the apostles and their disciples have already passed on this great mystery of faith. On how important the cross is as a symbol in life and more so in death.

For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
– John 3:16 Douay-Rheims Bible

For Jesus so loved the world that He faced and embraced the Cross for us to completely redeem each and everyone of us. This is a mystery of faith of the cross, the symbol, the sign, the action are all part of our tradition and will be kept until the end of time.

The Sign of the Cross is used in public worship. Some examples of this are the 50 times it is used during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass [Traditional Roman Mass, not the Novus ordo, which eliminated most of them], at the beginning, end and during the Divine Office, in all Blessings by Bishops and Priests, in the administration of the Sacraments——such as 14 times in Baptism [Traditional Roman rite] and 17 times in Extreme Unction [not the Novus Ordo “Sacrament of the Sick”], and on everything blessed for the service of God, such as altars, linen, holy water, etc.

The Sign of the Cross should always be used before our chief actions and undertakings in order to sanctify them and obtain God’s blessing. Indulgences are given of 50 days for making the Sign of the Cross saying the words, and 100 days for the same when using holy water.  [Changed to a simple partial indulgence, since 1968].

The Sign of the Cross rightly made unites the soul to God, gives the spirit of recollection, drives away the devil, and powerfully dissipates temptation; it gives to the Christian the spirit of faith, and preserves him from distraction and from worldliness; but if made with negligence, it loses all its influence and virtue.

Hagiography Marian Apparition

The Faith of Bernadette

These are the words of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, the humble seer of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. Indeed, she reminded us of how important love is and embrace life including its trials. Love in order to reach heaven where Jesus and Mary awaits in our true home.

In February 11, 1858, a woman appeared in a grotto in Massabielle in Lourdes, France to a 14-year old peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous. The apparition now known as Our Lady of Lourdes is one of the recognizable image of the Virgin Mary. In this apparition she introduced herself as the Immaculate Conception. Lourdes had become a popular pilgrim site of spirituality and faith as many miracles are attributed to the devotion and to the water of Lourdes, from the spring that flows from the Grotto of Massabielle.

Bernadette was born in January 7, 1844 in Lourdes from a poverty-stricken family. She was the eldest of the nine children of Francois and Louise Soubirous, a miller and laundress respectively. She had a weak health having asthma and other ailments.

The vision in Massabielle started when Bernadette with her sister and a friend gathered wood near the grotto. It was the start of series of visions that happened 18 times from February 11 to July 16, 1858. During these occasions she was asked to drink water from a spring near the grotto, the need of prayer and penance, and to have a chapel built and a procession be done. On the seventeenth apparition the lady revealed herself as the Immaculate Concepcion.

Bernadette describes the lady “dressed in a flowing white robe, with a blue sash around her waist with a yellow rose on each foot.”

The phenomenal event was trying times for young Bernadette since her family were initially embarrassed with the attention and forbade her to go. The incident was too much for a young girl telling her vision was indeed true. However, Bernadette with her innocence and simplicity was resolute and showed courage. The townspeople where divided as usual in any community. Some believed she saw the Blessed Virgin although she never said it was her. Some thinks she was suffering from some mental illness and imagining things.

She boarded a local school and eventually admitted as a novitiate at Nevers. Her superior gave her the name Marie-Bernard, which suits her having devotion to Saint Bernard.

She was questioned multiple times and many inquiries were made. Bernadette was firm as to the truth and genuiness of her visions. She was investigated thoroughly by both the Catholic church and government officials. These ordeal continued even until her last days of suffering from illness. Her suffering of tuberculosis of the lungs and bones lead to her death in April 16, 1879 at Nevers. Her last words were,

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, a poor sinner, a poor sinner”.

There were several challenges, penances and sacrifices were endured by the humble saint. Heaven and Mary had divine plans for her:

“I do not promise you happiness in this world but in the next.”, the words of Our Lady of Lourdes to Bernadette. For someone who knows her and the beauty of her faith, her courage and simplicity, the virtues of Bernadette is worthy of emulation.

December 8, 1933, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the humble saint of Lourdes, St. Bernadette Soubirous, was canonized by Pope Pius XI. Her body was also found to be incorrupt, and was placed on a glass casket in St Gildard Convent in Never for veneration.

The faith of Bernadette was pure and holy. She completely offered her will, life and soul to God. She trusted the beautiful lady in Massabielle. It was no surprise that her simple virtues had chosen her to bring Our Lady’s message to the world and people of Lourdes. Her words sum it up, to inspire us how we should offer or faith and trust to Mary and Jesus;

“Oh my Mother, to you I sacrifice all other attachments so that my heart may belong entirely to you and to my Jesus.”


Christmas Feast Day Tradition

The Gift of Gold, Myrrh and Frankincense

By tradition we all knew their names as King Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazhar. Thou from the vision accounts of mystic Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich, it mentions a different name it speaks of the tradition and allow me to quotes lines from her visions to picture how the saint guided by God was able to see and experience the first Christmas offering from The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Anne Catherine Emmerich:

“I have already related on Christmas Day how I saw the Birth of Christ being announced to the kings on Christmas night.”

“I now saw Mensor bringing out of a pouch hanging at his girdle a handful of little thick shining bars. They were as long as one’s finger, pointed at the top, and speckled with little gold-colored grains in the middle. He offered these to the Blessed Virgin as his gift, laying them humbly on her knee beside the Child. She accepted the gold with loving gratitude, and covered it with a corner of her cloak. These little bars of natural gold were Mensor’s gift, because he was full of fidelity and love and was seeking for the holy truth with unshaken fervor and devotion.”

“…Seir, the dark-brown one, came forward with his following and, falling with great humility on both knees, offered his present with touching words of homage. This was a little golden incense-boat full of little greenish grains of gum, which he laid on the table before the Infant Jesus. Incense was his gift because he embraced the will of God, and followed it willingly, reverently, and lovingly. He knelt there for a long time with deep devotion before withdrawing.”

“Theokeno, the white-skinned one, and the oldest. He was very old and heavy and was not able to kneel down; but he stood bowing low and placed on the table a golden vessel containing a delicate green plant. It seemed to be rooted; it was a tiny green upright tree, very delicate, bearing curly foliage with little delicate white flowers. It was myrrh. His gift was myrrh, because it symbolizes mortification and the overcoming of passions; for this good man had conquered extreme temptations to commit idolatry, polygamy, and to give way to violence.”

Aside from these very insightful details of the first gift giving the three gifts are valuable in so many ways during their time.
Gold has always been a symbol of riches and wealth. A valuable element and a precious metal used in many ways like coin and jewelry. It was mentioned many times in the Bible to represent riches worthy and fit for royalty. The Temple of King Solomon was decorated with overlay of gold. Incense was valuable, with other spices, were used in offering to God in the Old Testament. It was even mentioned in the Book of Exodus ground and burnt as an offering before the Ark of the Covenant. Even at present times, frankincense or its essential oils has its medicinal properties. Myrrh was also an important element for it was used together with incense for worship and prayer. Its essential oils’ fragrant qualities and healing properties are vital in life and even in death. Myrrh was mentioned several times in the old and new testament, all pertaining of spiritual significance. In the Book of Exodus God it was mentioned: And the Lord spoke to Moses, Saying: Take spices, of principal and chosen myrrh five hundred sicles, and of cinnamon half so much, that is, two hundred and fifty sicles, of calamus in like manner two hundred and fifty (Exodus 30:22-23). Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus used myrrh when they bury the Messiah (John 19:39).

Gold also represents the gift to a King. Myrrh symbolizes the mortal side of Christ, while frankincense signifies His divine nature.
Gold symbolized the love of Christ. Frankincense His priesthood. Myrrh Christs’ bitter passion and death.

We have a lot to learn from these gifts for its spiritual significance. That from birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, humility. In His passion and death, sacrifice. That we ought to follow His unconditional commandment, Love (gold). To never cease in thanksgiving and faith in prayer (frankincense) to God. To believe in God’s plan for us and accept the bitter pains we have to accept and suffer (myrrh).

“Therefore, we wanted to open ourselves and sought for a star to show us the right way. And it arose for us in the grace of vocation. We followed it and found the divine infant. He stretched out his hands for our gifts. He wanted the pure gold of a heart detached from all earthly goods; the myrrh of renunciation of all the happiness of this world in exchange for participation in the life and suffering of Jesus; the frankincense of a will that surrenders itself and strains upward to lose itself in the divine will. In return for these gifts, the divine Child gave us Himself.”  – St. Edith Stein

Christmas Feast Day Tradition

The ‘Parol’ of Our Lives: Christ

The parol is an excquisite decoration during advent season. Christmas lanterns typically star in form is a reminder of the bright star of Bethlehem who appeared before the Nativity of Jesus. “Who having heard the king, went their way; and behold the star which they had seen in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was.  And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” (Matthew 2:9-10 Douay-Rheims Bible)

It was the three kings guided by this star that they found the greatest treasure and honor they could have, to bow to the King of Kings. “And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him; and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

Convicts who are parolled are definitive of mankind being bound to sin who are redeemed by the star of Hope.

In the Philippines, during Simbang Gabi or midnight mass, the parols serve as lights to everyone attending the very early dawn masses for nine days before christmas. Many cities have different christmas lantern designs but the shape of a star is most common to depict the star of the Nativity.

The star that appeared that night is no ordinary star, for it symbolizes the great light, hope and joy that came to mankind. The mystic Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich in her accounts describe the joy the world had the night the Nativity of Our Lord:

In these pictures of Christ’s Birth, which I see as an historical event and not as a Feast of the Church, I do not see such radiant and ecstatic joy in nature as I do on Christmas night when the vision that I see expresses an interior significance. Yet I saw in this vision an unwonted joy and an extraordinary movement at midnight in many places even to the uttermost parts of the earth. I saw the hearts of many good men filled with joyful yearning, while all the wicked were overcome by great fear.

Such peace and spiritual joy indeed the night Our Lord Savior was born. But the spiritual significance of the parol we see around us are blurred by modernism and consumerism. Many are stressed out during Christmas for work becomes more intense and expenses are inevitable. Many have become materialistic in celebrating Christmas in finding the best gifts and fancy luxuries. Many have become busy and lose sight of the true meaning of the celebration. It’s the most important birthday of our lives as Christians. And yet many fail to greet, worship and thank Him for the gift of that special day.

Let’s bring back that peace and joy in our hearts everytime we see a Christmas Parol. Follow the example of the three kings of finding our true treasure and King. They were aided by that Star of Bethlehem, and so are we today and most especially on Christmas day.

“Saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to adore him.” (Matthew 2:2)

Let the Christmas parol remind us who to adore. 

The Light and parol of our lives that is Christ.

The Sanhedrin was the forum for the pharisees, who believed in the resurrection and in angels, and the saducees, who are akin to new theories and philosophies. All beliefs and philosophies concerning God and His creation are allowed to be expressed here.


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