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Ash Wednesday – Lenten Preparation

by Marianne Buzzelli

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. The season of Lent is 46 days before Easter Sunday. In the Catholic Church the day is observed by fasting, abstinence from meat, and penance. It is on Ash Wednesday that we begin our preparation for the great celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. We recognize the significance of 40 days of fasting in preparation for Easter in imitation of the life of Jesus. We hear in the Gospels how Jesus prepared for each significant event in his ministry during his life by going away in private to fast and pray. He went into the desert to fast and pray before he began his public ministry. It was through this act of fasting and prayer that Jesus sought and received the understanding of God’s will for his life. Jesus gives us this example of the significance of solitude in our conversation with God, as well as the discipline of fasting in gaining control of our bodies as we allow ourselves to hear God’s will.

On Ash Wednesday Catholics and other Christians (Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians) receive the sign of the cross made with ashes on their foreheads. Ashes were used in ancient times as was noted in the books of the Old Testament as a sign of mourning and repentance.

Reflection: Let us begin our 40 days of preparation for the resurrection of Our Lord by offering Jesus our little sacrifices of time, service, fasting, alms, and prayer. And, offer up our sacrifices for the conversion of souls and our own holiness. The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent provides an excellent resource for spiritual growth and development during your lenten preparation for Christ.

The Life and Ministry of St. John Bosco, part 2

By Marianne Buzzelli

One of the first duties of John Bosco after he was ordained a priest was to accompany another priest to visit young boys in a prison. Fr. John Bosco was appalled at the horrific living conditions for the young boys at the prison and began to work with city officials to improve them. At that time he also had a call by the Holy Spirit to care for young boys living on the streets. He began classes for them within the walls of the seminary and gave them food. Many young homeless boys came to hear Fr. John Bosco preach the Gospel and pray. His ministry grew as he sought assistance to provide shelter and food for the homeless young boys. The group of boys gathered together in the oratory increased from 20 to 400 within 5 years.

Reflection: God calls all of us to serve the poor and needy. And, it is in our every day duties as we follow the will of God, and know Him more through prayer that we become saints. You can learn more about the life of St. John Bosco and his service to the homeless boys in A Story of St. John Bosco.

St John Bosco, Part 1

By Marianne Buzzelli


Today, January 31, is the feast of St. John Bosco. John (Giovanni) Bosco lived 1815-1888. He was born in a little town in Becchi, Italy to poor parents. His father died when he was only 2 years old, so his mother was left to support John and his 2 older brothers. The Bosco family were farmers, and John was expected to work in the fields to help support his family. However, John Bosco loved reading, and was not interested in working as a farmer. He loved to read and was excited to receive instruction from the local parish priest.

He had a call to the priesthood and thought of becoming a priest from a very early age. According to his own personal writings, John Bosco had a series of dreams, beginning at the age of  9,  in which he saw a man, who “appeared, nobly attired, with a manly and imposing bearing. The man said to him: You will have to win these friends of yours not with blows, but with gentleness and kindness. So begin right now to show them that sin is ugly and virtue beautiful.”

John left the family farm to join the seminary at the age of 12. However, with no money, he was unable to continue his studies. Two years later he met an elderly priest, Fr. Joseph Calosso, who took young John under his wing, tutored him, and provided support which allowed him to pursue his studies at the seminary.

(life story continued in Part 2)

Reflection: Gentleness, kindness, and virtue – the words John Bosco heard in his childhood dream were the very essence of his being. He devoted his life to the service of young poor, sick, homeless boys.

You can learn more about the life of this marvelous saint as you read A Story of Saint  John Bosco.

St Thomas Aquinas and His Contribution to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

by Marianne Buzzelli.
In addition to the many philosophical writings by St. Thomas Aquinas, Catholics are blessed with the beautiful hymns he wrote for the liturgy of the Mass. Among them is Verbum Supernum Prodiens. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote the hymn for the Hour of Lauds in the Divine Office of the feast of Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ). Catholics sing this glorious hymn, entitled by the 5thverse “O Salutaris Hostia”, during every celebration of Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

 Here are the 5th and 6th verses in Latin:

O salutaris hostia, Quæ cæli pandis ostium, Bella premunt hostilia,  Da robur, fer auxilium.

Uni trinoque Domino. Sit sempiterna gloria. Qui vitam sine termino. Nobis donet in patria.


O saving Victim, opening wide, The gates of heaven to man below; Our foes press hard on every side, Thine aid supply, Thy strength bestow.

All praise and thanks to thee ascend, For evermore, blessed One in Three; O grant us life that shall not end, In our true native land with Thee.

To learn more about the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas you can refer to Aquinas’s Shorter Summa.



St Thomas Aquinas, part 2

By Marianne Buzzelli


At the heart of the life of St. Thomas Aquinas was his time of prayer and adoration of The Blessed Sacrament. As is true of all of the saints who displayed the greatest devotion to Christ and His mother, St. Thomas Aquinas was devoted to Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity within the Blessed Sacrament. In fact, in his marvelous writing, Summa Theologica, he did not only wonderfully describes the sacrament of The Eucharist, but, was the first to identify the word we now utilize to describe this mystery and miracle in which the bread and wine are transformed at Mass into the real presence of Jesus as “transubstantiation”.

St. Thomas Aquinas explains “The Blessed Sacrament and The Mass” in Summa, part III in which he describes the effects produced in the souls of those who receive Jesus in the sacrament of Eucharist, and the importance of frequent reception of the sacrament.

Reflection: God calls each of us to partake in the life of His Son as we live in service of others and follow His Will. We are all called to be saints. We find one of the most perfect examples of a holy life lived for love of Jesus in the life of St. Thomas Aquinas.

St. Thomas Aquinas – part 1

St. Thomas Aquinas was one of the greatest, if not the greatest philosopher, scholar, and theologian of the Catholic Church. He lived in the 13th century in Italy. He was a Dominican priest and one of 33 doctors of The Church. He was a great teacher and wrote more than 60 books. His popular theological work, Summa Theologica contains all of the main theological teachings of the Catholic Church.

 St. Thomas Aquinas was recognized by popes for his the greatness of his soul as well as the greatness of his mind. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by St. Pope Pius V and recognized as “the prince and master of all scholastic doctors” by Pope Leo XIII who also designated him as patron of Catholic universities, colleges, and schools world-wide.

We are Called Like St. Timothy to Proclaim the Gospel

St Timothy the disciple

Today, January 26, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of St. Timothy with Saint Titus. Saint Timothy was a disciple who was a friend and companion of St. Paul and traveled with Paul on his journey across Europe and Asia. In the second letter of St. Paul to Timothy, St. Paul refers to him as “his dear child” as he recalls the sincere faith of Timothy, and encourages him to continue to bring the spirit of God to the disciples. Paul also recognized Timothy for his knowledge of the Scriptures. St. Timothy was consecrated as bishop of Ephesus by St. Paul in 65 AD and served as a bishop for 15 years. St Timothy died as a martyr defending his faith and preaching the gospel of Christ. He was stoned to death when he attempted to stop the pagans from processing in worship of idols.

Reflection: St. Timothy exemplifies the response of God’s call to service and to spread the Gospel. He was a witness of the Christian faith who gave his life for Christ and The  Church. He knew God through his study of Scriptures and proclaimed the Gospel and the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul states in 2 Tm 1:7 “for God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power and love and self control.” Let us also live the Gospel proclaiming God’s Word in power and love and self control. It is fitting that we remember this wonderful saint in prayer and seek his intercession as we wear a lovely St Timothy saint medal

Bio: Marianne Buzzelli is a Catholic writer and owner of Holy Cross Necklaces which sells fine cross necklaces, saint medals, rosaries, Christian rings, religious statuary, Catholic books, and more.


The Story of Our Lady of Lourdes

By Marianne Buzzelli

Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to Bernadette Soubirous on February 11, 1858 in the Grotto of Massabielle, in France. Bernadette was on her way to fetch fire wood and came to a narrow stream. As she approached the stream she heard the sound of wind, but when she looked around she saw that the trees and bushes were not moving. When she looked up to the grotto she saw a bright light and a beautiful Lady in white above the rock in the grotto. She fell to her knees, reached into her pocket, took out her rosary and began to pray. Looking up Bernadette saw the Lady with yellow roses at her feet and holding a rosary which she was praying. The Lady, Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, asked Bernadette to continue to come to the grotto, and she did. Each time more people followed her there. On February 25 the Lady instructed Bernadette Soubirous to dig a hole and drink the water that came from it. Hundreds of people watched as she drank the muddy water from the hole. By the next day water flowed from the hole that she had dug. And, on March 1, a woman drank water from the new spring and was cured of paralysis. Multiple miracles occurred as people continued to drink water from the new spring where the Lady had Bernadette dig the hole. Our Lady continued to appear to Bernadette at the grotto for a total of 18 times and numerous miraculous healings were reported. The request of Our Lady of Lourdes to Bernadette and all the pilgrims was to offer penance and   pray the rosary.  A shrine and a basilica have been constructed at the grotto and millions of pilgrims visit this shrine in France; many in search of the miracle of Lourdes. Thousands of miraculous spiritual and physical healings have been reported. Lourdes is the most visited shrine in the world.

Reflection: It is fitting that we celebrate this special feast and honor Mary’s love and grace under this marvelous title of Our Lady of Lourdes. Let us follow the request of Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes and offer penance and pray the rosary for increased holiness and the salvation of souls.

Bio: Marianne Buzzelli is a Catholic writer and owner of Holy Cross Necklaces which sells fine cross necklaces, saint medals, rosaries, Christian rings, religious statuary, Catholic books, and more.


St Francis Speaks About Prayer

by Marianne Buzzelli

In the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order St. Francis exhorts his Franciscan brothers and sisters to have “prayer and contemplation be the soul of all we are and all we do”.

So how do we accomplish this? St. Thomas of Celano and St. Bonaventure describe Francis’ great zeal for prayer and how Francis would go off to be alone in his prayer, just as Jesus often did during his ministry.

St. Thomas of Celano said “… The man of God, who was already holy because of his holy intention, was accustomed to enter the cave, while his companion waited outside, and inspired by a new and extraordinary spirit he would pray to his Father in secret. He acted in such a way that no one would know what was happening within. Wisely taking the occasion of the good to conceal the better, he consulted God alone about his holy purpose. He prayed with all his heart that the eternal and true God guide his way and teach him to do His will. He endured great suffering in his soul, and he was not able to rest until he accomplished in action what he had conceived in his heart. …”

St. Bonaventure, presented this description of the constant, deep prayer of St Francis,
“The servant of Christ knowing that he was in his body a pilgrim and an exile from the lord, had already become, for the charity of Christ wholly insensible to the desire of earthly or exterior things, lest he should remain without the consolation of true love; and so praying without intermission he endeavored to keep his spirit in the continual presence of God. And great, assuredly, was his consolation in prayer, while he contemplated the whole circle of the mansions of the angels, with whom he was already a fellow citizen, and with fervent desires sought his Beloved, from whom he was only divided by the wall of the flesh. And this prayer was also a great help to him in all his works, wherein he distrusted his own endeavors; and trusting wholly in prayer, rested all his thoughts upon the Lord.” We hear in these words also how Francis desired so much to know and live totally within the Divine Providence of God, how he prayed without intermission, and of his union with Christ, his beloved.

Of all of the writings by the friends of St Francis describing his method of prayer the one that is most indicative of his life was written by Thomas of Celano, the first biographer of St. Francis. He said this about Francis and his life of prayer: “He does not so much pray, as he becomes himself a prayer”.

Reflection: St Francis was a saint known to be closest to union with Jesus and His cross. He even carried the stigmata, the wounds of Christ on his body which he offered for souls. He was united to Jesus in his work for the poor, his life devoted in imitation of Christ, and his constant prayer. He truly radiated Christ to all who encountered him. How wonderful that it seems that St Francis not only accomplished the mission we are all given on earth – to know, love, and serve God totally, accepting the Divine Will of God. But, he also seemed to have accomplished our eternal goal of union with God. For St Francis united every action and thought to the will of God in imitation of His Divine Son, Jesus. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to follow the example of St. Francis in conforming ourselves to Jesus in such a way that we too may not only have a life of deep prayer, but become a living prayer. You can learn more about the life and prayer of St. Francis as you listen to The Little Flowers of St Francis. This wonderful collection of stories on 4 CDs will truly inspire your prayer life.

Bio:  Marianne Buzzelli is a Catholic writer and owner of Holy Cross Necklaces which sells fine cross necklaces, saint medals, rosaries, Christian rings, religious statuary, Catholic books, and more.


Prayer of Consecration to Mary

We come to Mary, the Mother of Our Dear Lord Jesus to lead us to her son.

Saints and holy people consecrate their lives to Mary.

Here is a simple, yet beautiful Prayer to say to Mary as you begin each day:

Mary asks us to do penance and pray, especially the rosary, daily.