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OUR LADY OF THE SMILE

MARIAN CORNER

On May 13, 1883, Our Lady of the Smile healed St. Therese of

the Child Jesus when she was bedridden. On that day, St.

Therese turned her head to a statue of the Virgin near her bed

and prayed for a cure. “Suddenly,” Therese writes, “Mary's face

radiated kindness and love.” Therese was healed. The statue has

since been called “Our Lady of the Smile.”

St. Therese, the heart that exclaimed a few months before her

death, “In the heart of my Mother, the Church, I will be love,” did

not always know she could love…did not always feel free to

love… But Our Lady smiled at her and she was deeply healed of

all her spiritual, psychological, emotional and corporal sufferings.

She was healed by a smile…a simple and powerful “smile” of Our

Mother…

The Mother’s Smile is a reflection of Her maternal and

immaculate love. She smiles to the depth of our hearts, to the

depths of our wounds…to our most hidden inner lackings and

sufferings. She smiles and we know Her love for us! She smiles

and everything becomes so peaceful, so calm in the ocean of our

hearts… She smiles and love flourishes in our whole being… She

smiles and the voids of our lives are suddenly filled… She smiles and the brokenness in our humanity is restored, is elevated, is healed… She smiles and the path of grace to our hearts opens up with a new freedom…

She smiles and we know we are loved, deeply loved, by a mother’s love! She smiles and our fears are driven away. She smiles and the doubts are enlightened with Her kindness… She smiles and the lackings and excesses in our lives are leveled to the perfect measurement of love… She smiles and our hearts know that there is so much more…so much more… There is tenderness, there is courage, there is freedom, there is fruitfulness, there is communion, there is life, there is love…and love makes us stronger, freer, younger and more joyful. She smiles and we are healed…healed in the depth of our hearts!

May She smile in our hearts... May She smile to us and for us!

Saint Afra

Afra was born to a pagan family in Augsburg. In the late 3rd century, her pagan family journeyed from Cyprus to Augsburg. Afra was dedicated to the service of the goddess, Venus, by her mother, Hilaria.According to this source, she was originally a prostitute in Augsburg,[ having gone there from Cyprus, maybe even as the daughter of the King of Cyprus. She is reputed either to have run a brothel in that town or worked as a hierodule in the Temple of Venus. As the persecution of Christians during the reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian began, Bishop Narcissus of Girona (in Spain) sought refuge in Augsburg and lodged with Afra and her mother, Hilaria. Through his teachings, Bishop Narcissus converted Afra and her family to Christianity.

She continued to hide the bishop from the authorities. When it was learned that Afra was a Christian, she was brought before Diocletian and ordered to give glory to the pagan idols. She refused, and was condemned to death by fire on a small place of her martyrdom.Her mother and her maids (viz., Ligna, Eunonia, and Eutropia) later suffered the same fate.

Cardinal Bergoglio’s Eucharistic Miracle in Argentina

A recent documented account of a Eucharistic Miracle took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1996 under the leadership of Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis:

At seven o’clock in the evening on August 18, 1996, Fr. Alejandro Pezet was saying Holy Mass at a Catholic church in the commercial center of Buenos Aires. As he was finishing distributing Holy Communion, a woman came up to tell him that she had found a discarded host on a candleholder at the back of the church. On going to the spot indicated, Fr. Alejandro saw the defiled Host. Since he was unable to consume it, he placed it in a container of water and put it away in the tabernacle of the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.

On Monday, August 26, upon opening the tabernacle, he saw to his amazement that the Host had turned into a bloody substance. He informed Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who gave instructions that the Host be professionally photographed. The photos were taken on September 6. They clearly show that the Host, which had become a fragment of bloodied flesh, had grown significantly in size. For several years the Host remained in the tabernacle, the whole affair being kept a strict secret. Since the Host suffered no visible decomposition, Cardinal Bergoglio decided to have it scientifically analyzed.

On October 5, 1999, in the presence of the Cardinal’s representatives, Dr. Castanon took a sample of the bloody fragment and sent it to New York for analysis. Since he did not wish to prejudice the study, he purposely did not inform the team of scientists of its provenance. One of these scientists was Dr. Frederic Zugiba, the well-known cardiologist and forensic pathologist. He determined that the analyzed substance was real flesh and blood containing human DNA. Zugiba testified that, “the analyzed material is a fragment of the heart muscle found in the wall of the left ventricle close to the valves. This muscle is responsible for the contraction of the heart. It should be borne in mind that the left cardiac ventricle pumps blood to all parts of the body. The heart muscle is in an inflammatory condition and contains a large number of white blood cells. This indicates that the heart was alive at the time the sample was taken. It is my contention that the heart was alive, since white blood cells die outside a living organism. They require a living organism to sustain them. Thus, their presence indicates that the heart was alive when the sample was taken. What is more, these white blood cells had penetrated the tissue, which further indicates that the heart had been under severe stress, as if the owner had been beaten severely about the chest.”

Two Australians, journalist Mike Willesee and lawyer Ron Tesoriero, witnessed these tests. Knowing where sample had come from, they were dumbfounded by Dr. Zugiba’s testimony. Mike Willesee asked the scientist how long the white blood cells would have remained alive if they had come from a piece of human tissue, which had been kept in water. They would have ceased to exist in a matter of minutes, Dr. Zugiba replied. The journalist then told the doctor that the source of the sample had first been kept in ordinary water for a month and then for another three years in a container of distilled water; only then had the sample been taken for analysis. Dr. Zugiba’s was at a loss to account for this fact. There was no way of explaining it scientifically, he stated. Only then did Mike Willesee inform Dr. Zugiba that the analyzed sample came from a consecrated Host (white, unleavened bread) that had mysteriously turned into bloody human flesh. Amazed by this information, Dr. Zugiba replied, “How and why a consecrated Host would change its character and become living human flesh and blood will remain an inexplicable mystery to science—a mystery totally beyond her competence.”

Only faith in the extraordinary action of a God provides the reasonable answer—faith in a God, who wants to make us aware that He is truly present in the mystery of the Eucharist.

The Eucharistic miracle in Buenos Aires is an extraordinary sign attested to by science. Through it Jesus desires to arouse in us a lively faith in His real presence in the Eucharist. He reminds us that His presence is real, and not symbolic. Only with the eyes of faith do we see Him under appearance of the consecrated bread and wine. We do not see Him with our bodily eyes, since He is present in His glorified humanity. In the Eucharist Jesus sees and loves us and desires to save us.

Pope Anastasius I

He was born in Rome, the son of Maximus. He condemned the writings of the Alexandrian theologian Origen shortly after their translation into Latin. He fought against these writings throughout his papacy, and in 400 he called a council to discuss them. The council agreed that Origen was not faithful to the Catholic Church.

       [ During his reign he also encouraged Catholics in North Africa to fight Donatism.[2] He instructed priests to stand and bow their head as they read from the gospels.[1] Among his friends were Augustine, Jerome, and Paulinus. Jerome speaks of him as a man of great holiness who was rich in his poverty.[4] He was eventually buried in the Catacomb of Pontian together with his son, who would be Pope Innocent I, probably a unique case of a Pope being succeeded by his son.

May we worship Mary?

MARIAN CORNER

A. Only God can be worshipped. But we can revere Mary as the Mother of our Lord. [971]

By worship we mean the humble, unconditional acknowledgment of the absolute superiority of God over all creatures. Mary is a creature like us. In faith she is our Mother. And we should honor our parents. There is a biblical basis for this, since Mary herself says, “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48b). So the Church has Marian shrines and places of pilgrimage, feast days, hymns, and prayers, for instance, the Rosary. It is a compendium of the Gospel.

Symeon the New Theologian

Early life

The details of Symeon's life come from his own writings and from the Life of Symeon, written by his disciple Nicetas. He was born at Basileion in Galatia to Basil and Theophano Galaton, members of the Byzantine nobility who supported the Macedonian dynasty. His given name at birth is unclear—it was traditional at that time, when becoming a monk, to take on a new name with the same initial as one's birth name. Symeon may have ignored that tradition in order to take the same name as his spiritual father, Symeon the Studite. In his writings, he sometimes described the experiences of "George," which might have been his birth name. Symeon received a basic Greek school education until the age of eleven, when an uncle recognized that he had potential for higher learning. The uncle helped Symeon to complete his secondary education at the court of the emperor Basil II and his brother Constantine VIII. At age fourteen he met Symeon the Studite (also called Symeon the Pious), a holy monk of the Monastery of Stoudios in Constantinople. That meeting convinced the younger Symeon to forgo higher education and take on Symeon the Studite as his spiritual father. At that time he began studying the life of prayer and asceticism under his guidance, with the desire to immediately enter the monastery. Symeon the Studite asked the young Symeon to wait before becoming a monk, so he spent the years until age twenty-seven serving in the household of a patrician, though according to some sources he served the emperor instead.

Living a worldly life during the day, he reportedly spent his evenings in vigils and prayer, putting into practice the writings of two authors—Marcus Eremita and Diadochos of Photiki—that were given to him by his spiritual father. It was during this time that Symeon had his first experience of God as divine light, as he described later in one of his Discourses (Disc. 22.2–4). He attributed the experience to the prayers of Symeon the Studite. In spite of the experience, the young Symeon confessed that he still fell into worldly ways of living. Direct personal experience of God was to become one of Symeon's central teachings in his writings, and to the monks who followed him.

Abbot of St. Mammas monastery

 He spent the next twenty-five years as abbot of St. Mammas, attracting many monks and clergy with his reputation for learning and sanctity.

Not all of the monks were attracted by Symeon's zealous approach. Symeon attempted to reform the Byzantine monasteries, where monks had become subservient to the emperor and had acquired large holdings of property, libraries, and art. His writings and teachings were aimed at returning the monasteries to their traditional role in the early church, urging the monks to take up a life of simplicity, asceticism, purity of heart, and constant prayer. The strict monastic discipline for which Symeon aimed upset several monks in the monastery. Symeon also took a more emotional approach to worship, suggesting that a monk shouldn't take the sacrament without tears. The introduction of vegetarian meals, along with other unique practices to instil discipline and humility, also caused some displeasure among the monks. Fifteen years after becoming abbot, one morning after the Divine Liturgy a group of approximately thirty monks rose against Symeon, who drove them away. Breaking the locks on the monastery gate on their way out, the monks took their appeal to the Patriarch Sisinios, who sided with Symeon and sent the monks into exile. Symeon pleaded on their behalf, doing everything he could to have the monks return to the monastery, including seeking out some of the monks to apologize to them. During his time as abbot, Symeon wrote Hymns of Divine Love (completed during his exile), the Discourses, and many letters and polemical works which have been lost. He also wrote articles relating to his disputes with the church theologians.

these survived as his theological and ethical treatises. In 1005 Symeon resigned as abbot of St. Mammas, appointing one of his disciples in his stead, and taking up a more solitary life at the monastery.

Exile and death

Exile and death In 1009 Symeon was sent into exile near Paloukiton, a small village near Chrysopolis on the Asiatic shore of the Bosphorus. According to one account, he was left by church authorities alone and without food, in the middle of winter. There he found a deserted and ruined chapel that had been dedicated to Saint Macrina. It happened to be on land owned by one of Symeon's spiritual children, Christopher Phagouras, who donated the land and proceeds to start a monastery.

By this time, Symeon had many disciples—some of them, including the patrician Geneseos, appealed to Sergius II, the Patriarch of Constantinople, to lift the order of exile. Out of fear that the dispute would reach the emperor, Sergius II lifted the exile order completely, and then offered to re-establish Symeon at the monastery of St. Mammas and consecrate him as archbishop of an important see in Constantinople. The only qualification was that Symeon must show some restraint in his celebration of Symeon the Studite's festival day. Symeon refused to compromise—the Patriarch, out of respect for Symeon, gave him his blessing to "live together with your disciples and act according to your good pleasure."

Symeon remained at the Saint Macrina monastery, where many close disciples, both monks and secular people, gathered around him. At Saint Macrina he was free of monks who were averse to his discipline and zeal, and free from direct conflict with church authorities. He continued to honor Symeon the Studite—most of the clergy from Constantinople, along with many monks and laymen, joined him during those celebrations. He also wrote during that time and made himself accessible to all who wanted to see him.Symeon spent the last thirteen years of his life in exile, dying from dysentery on March 12, 1022. According to his biographer and disciple, Nicetas, Symeon foretold his own death many years previously, and on his last day called together all the monks to sing the funeral hymns.

Symeon is recognized as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox church. The title of "Theologian" was not given to him in the modern academic sense of someone who is learned in theology, but to recognize someone who speaks from personal experience of the vision of God. Until Symeon's time, that title was reserved mainly for John the Apostle, author of one of the four gospels, and Gregory of Nazianzus, writer of contemplative poetry. His opponents derisively called him the "new" theologian because of his creative approach—his supporters, and later the church, embraced the name in the most positive sense.

Bernard of Menthon

Bernard was born about 1020,[1] probably in the Château de Menthon, near Annecy, then in the County of Savoy, a part of the Kingdom of Arles. He was descended from a rich and noble family and received a thorough education. When he had reached adulthood, he decided to devote himself to the service of the Church and refused an honourable marriage proposed by his father. In popular legend it is said that he had to sneak out of the castle on the night before an arranged wedding, and that during his flight from the castle, he threw himself from his window, only to be captured by angels and lowered gently to the ground 40 feet (12 meters) below.

Placing himself under the direction of Peter, the Archdeacon of Aosta, under whose guidance he rapidly progressed, Bernard was ordained a priest. Later, on account of his learning and virtue, he was appointed to succeed his mentor as archdeacon of the cathedral, giving him the charge of the government of the diocese, directly under the bishop.

Seeing the old pagan ways still prevailing among the people of the Alps, Bernard resolved to devote himself to their conversion. For 42 years he continued to preach the Gospel to these people and even into many cantons of Lombardy, effecting numerous conversions and working many miracles.

For another reason, however, Bernard's name will forever be famous in history. Since the most ancient times there has been a path across the Pennine Alps leading from the Aosta Valley to the Swiss canton of Valais. The traditional route of this pass is covered with perpetual snow from seven to eight feet deep, and drifts sometimes accumulate to the height of forty feet. Although the pass was extremely dangerous, especially in the springtime on account of avalanches, it was often used by French and German pilgrims on their way to Rome.

In his office as archdeacon, Bernard had the charge of caring for the poor and travelers. For their convenience and protection, Bernard founded a canonry and hospice at the highest point of the pass, 8,000 feet above sea-level, in the year 1050, at the site which has came to bear his name. A few years later he established another hospice on the Little St. Bernard Pass, a mountain saddle in the Graian Alps, 7,076 feet above sea-level. Both were placed in charge of communities of canons regular, after papal approval had been obtained by Bernard during a visit to Rome. The new community was placed under the patronage of St. Nicholas of Myra, patron saint of travelers. The last act of St. Bernard's life was the reconciliation of two noblemen whose strife threatened a fatal outcome. He died in June 1081 in the Imperial Free City of Novara and was interred in the monastery of St. Lawrence.