Religious


Some people question and many ask about Mary, Jesus' Mother, being born without Original Sin. They say, that since Mary refers to her Redeemer and Savior, would she do that if she were without Original Sin?

Some reply that Mary probably did sin in her life - if she didn't, then she would be considered a god like Jesus.

The church teaches Mary was free of Original Sin. How does the church come to this conclusion through scripture?

Mary is seen as the Ark of the New Covenant ~ a spotless vessel who carried a sinless Jesus ~ and that Ark would be sinless, too ~ of original sin.  God chose Mary among women, unblemished of sin, and full of grace to carry the baby Jesus in her womb.

There are many references which tie in this dogma to Scripture.  I found a Catholic interpretation and will repeat it here:   This is only one of the many ways it is explained ~~~~

"It seems clear that Luke has used typology to reveal something about the place of Mary in salvation history."  God the Holy Spirit overshadowed and then indwelled Mary.  At that time Mary's womb became the dwelling place of the presence of God"  [Luke 1:35].

In the Ark of the Old Covenant, God came to his people with a spiritual presence, but in Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, God comes to dwell with his people not only spiritually but physically, in the womb of a specially prepared Jewish girl.   [Exodus 40:34-35] says "God the Holy Spirit overshadowed and then indwelled the Ark. The Ark became the dwelling place of the presence of God".

"The Old Testament tells us that one item was placed inside the Ark of the Old Covenant while in the Sinai wilderness:  God told Moses to put the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inside the ark [Deut. 10:3–5].  Hebrews 9:4 informs us that two additional items were placed in the Ark: "a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded."

"Notice the amazing parallels:

  • In the ark was the law of God inscribed in stone; in Mary’s womb was the Word of God in flesh.
  •  In the ark was the urn of manna, the bread from heaven that kept God’s people alive in the wilderness; in Mary’s womb is the Bread of Life come down from heaven that brings eternal life.
  • In the ark was the rod of Aaron, the proof of true priesthood; in Mary’s womb is the true priest.

In the third century, St. Gregory the Wonder Worker said that Mary is truly an ark—

  • "gold within and gold without, and she has received in her womb all the treasures of the sanctuary."

 

© Marie Coppola, Revised December 2012   

Reference: http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2005/0510fea5.asp

 

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This past week, I was reminded by three different sources to be still and know God.  I consider this a Godwink so I will pass this important message on.  God talks to us in Psalm 46:10 and says, "Be Still and Know That I am God".  How often do we sit still?  We have cell phones, IPods &  Androids vying for our attention.   The TV is constantly on - so is the fax machine and the computer.  Company is coming. have to pick up the grandkids later and someone's beeping to chat with you on Skype.   Lots of noises going on .....How do we get 'still'?

We say "Hey, we're busy...who has time to sit still?"

Let's look at Jesus.  Even in his busy ministry he got still...with God.  He would go out alone in the desert. He would pray and be still with God.  Doing so, he was refreshed and renewed.

Anyone can get refreshed and renewed with God.  It is important to be still and know that He Is God. You might say, "I'm way too busy to do that" or "God doesn't value me" or "I'm simply not religious". If you want to know God, you have to make some time for Him just like you do for your family, your kids, your dog, your job, technology and everything else that's on your plate.   Knowing God will give you extra strength and wisdom to do the things you do and even do things a little differently.  And it will give you benefits you can't get anywhere else. They're guaranteed.   "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:13]

Some say, "I don't know what to say to God".   God made you and He knows all about you already. Just talk to Him in plain language.  You don't have to use thys, thees and thous.  He'll be happy just to hear from you. And he will change your life. This is not a wish. This is a fact. You will become aware of life in a way different from how you are living it now.  if you start speaking to God, you will add joy, love, kindness, forgiveness and acceptance of who you and others are. He made you and loves you no matter what you are, say or have done.  Who else can you say that about?   Jesus will become your best friend.   Who will never forsake you.

Try it. Go alone into a quiet room, shut the door and turn off all technology.  Be still and focus on Him alone and not the things you have listed to do that day.   You may start by thanking him for all the good things in life He has given you -- yes, there are far more than the problems you are facing which overshadow them.  Get to really know God.   Listen in silence to what you may hear or think about.  When you are quiet, you will open your heart and soul to Him. 

God tells us through His Words,  "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."    It will change your life.  Not only is it guaranteed;  the warranty will last forever.

Marie Coppola © Revised July 2017.

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Lent is About Forgiveness
Is 43:16-21; Phil 3:8-14; John 8:1-11

Dr. A.J. Cronin was a great Christian physician in England. One night he assigned a young nurse to a little boy who had been brought to the hospital suffering from diphtheria, and given only a slight chance to live. A tube was inserted into the boy's throat to help him breathe. It was the nurse's job periodically to clean out the tube.

As the nurse sat beside the boy's bed, she accidentally dozed off. She awakened to find that the tube had become blocked. Instead of following instructions, she was immobilized by panic. Hysterically she called the doctor from his home. By the time he got to the boy, he was dead. Dr. Cronin was angry beyond expression. That night Dr. Cronin went to his office and wrote his recommendation to the board demanding the immediate expulsion of the nurse. He called her in and read it, his voice trembling with anger. She stood there in pitiful silence, a tall, thin, gawky Welsh girl. She nearly fainted with shame and remorse.

"Well," asked Dr. Cronin in a harsh voice, "have you nothing to say for yourself?" There was more silence. Then she uttered this pitiful plea, "...please give me another chance." Dr. Cronin sent her away. But he could not sleep that night. He kept hearing some words from the dark distance: "Forgive us our trespasses."

The next morning Dr. Cronin went to his desk and tore up the report. In the years that followed he watched as this slim, nervous girl became the head of a large hospital and one of the more honored nurses in England. Thank God for a second chance, and a third chance, and fourth chance! Do you need to encounter God's forgiveness? He died on a cross to make it available.     Marie Coppola's photo.Taken from Vatican Radio (Source: Homilies of Fr. Anthony Kadavil)

Marie Coppola March 13, 2016

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We all have our own preferred faith but sometimes we venture out of our comfort area to participate or engage in others’ religious practices.

It could be a Wedding, a Baptism, a First Communion, Confirmation, Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, Bible studies, or engage in Witnessing. The common denominator is God. Each religion worships in their own way – what happens when you cross paths with some other religion?

Wikipedia defines “Ecumenism", as initiatives aimed at greater religious unity or cooperation.

In its broadest sense, this unity or cooperation may refer to a worldwide religious unity; by the advocation of a greater sense of shared spirituality across the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Most commonly, however, ecumenism is used in a more narrow meaning; referring to a greater cooperation among different religious denominations of a single one of these faiths.”  These three faiths are all monotheistic: meaning the belief that there is one and only one God.

My own personal ecumenical experiences revolve around Christianity and Judaism.   I was born and raised in the Catholic faith and experienced the traditional Sacraments.   The Catholic Church has changed little in formation and dogma, yet it has evolved into a more humanistic and personal faith religion over the years.  I embrace this very beautiful religion which is centered around Jesus and the Eucharist, and has special meaning for me.  In my formative years, when religious instruction was memorizing a Catechism to attain the Sacraments, I was blessed at age 9 to be invited and attend a Presbyterian Bible Summer School. My parents agreed I could go and I was introduced to the additional concept that Jesus was my Best Friend, a concept that is with me to this day. We spent that summer singing lots of hymns to Jesus and making crafts with Him in mind. It was pure and natural to me. Children do not have built-in prejudices against the differences in their lives; they are taught them. Left alone, children are accepting and nonjudgmental.

When I was 13, we moved to a predominantly Jewish neighborhood and I was introduced to bas mitzivahs, bat mitzvahs and the closely knit Jewish family.  All members of the Jewish family participated during the readings at the temple. I found they were very much like our family. They believed in the Old Testament like we do, and were very religious. I experienced the Passover Seder and on sad occasions, gave condolences at Shiva. Did this confuse me?  Not at all.  Although I was entrenched in Christianity, I was experiencing the religion that My Best Friend, Jesus, embraced while on earth. It enlarged my religion by bringing me closer to Him. Now I experienced what He did and added His religious background  to my faith.

In high school, a family member joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I always marveled at how they went from house to house witnessing their faith. They still do. The Bible calls us to do that, but not many people do it. There were differences from how the Witnesses practiced their faith from mine, but I did become more aware of their Bible studies and eventually attended Bible classes at my own church.    I learned many Scripture passages that I never knew and became a student of the Bible.  I am ever grateful for that awakening of Scriptures.

In my adult life, I have very dear friends who are Baptists. They are Bible-study enthusiasts, also. When we visit them, we attend their service with them – it usually encompasses most of the Sabbath Day.  At their service, there is a choir that could sing in Carnegie Hall. They are praise-singing people of faith and I find joy and peace listening to their hymns. They even have screens where you can sing along and the whole congregation joins in. We attend their Bible School immediately after the service and partake of their fellowship.  They are faith sharing and caring people. I credit the Baptists for my love and joy of praise songs.

In my work days, a group of us were asked to give a career seminar to members of a Lutheran church. Before we started the seminar, we gathered in the church and had service. My other presenters were not faith-based persons and did not know the name of the songs sung, but I knew from my ‘ecumenical sharings ’ when they broke into “Lord I Lift Your Name on High”, I joined in loud and clear. After the church service, the church members hugged me and were surprised that I knew the song. That bonding moment was a successful vehicle to engaging in seminar objectives – a shared feeling that overlapped into our discussions.  And bonded new friendships.

I love ecumenical bridges. I find new paths and avenues from them to explore God and His Word. I find that although others may worship differently from me, we have many common threads in our tapestry of faith. Recently I learned that the Muslim faith honors one woman - Mary, the mother of Jesus, and devotes a full chapter of their Koran to her.

I never see the differences in these folks and their faiths; I only see the sameness we have in loving God, expressing that Love and sharing our different ways to live it.

 

© Marie Coppola, 2009, updated February, 2016; some rights reserved.

 

There are a lot of publications and articles about personal power and how each of us, as an individual, is part of the universe.  As part of the universe, they say one may  attain "Universal Truth" and the attainment of the highest individual human potential.  This say this can come from a combination of cosmology, astrology, esotericism, alternative medicine, music, collectivism, sustainability, and nature.  This spirituality is characterized by an individual approach to spiritual practices and philosophies, while rejecting religious doctrine and dogma.

I’ve never seen a guidebook or blueprint of how you combine these universal attainments to pursue happiness or fulfillment.   It is true that, as individuals, we can attain a self-actualization of our talents, as described in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.   But is this the Universal Truth?   We can combine all of the ‘ologies’ above, but is this the Universal Truth?   Isn’t there a broad interpretation of Universal Truth and different ways for different folks to embrace it?   Or define?   Or live it?   Who created the universe?

God has made it very simple for us in terms of Universal Truth.   In His wisdom and guidance, He has provided a Guidebook and Blueprint for us to find and embrace the Way, the Truth and the Light — God’s Universal Truth.

God, through inspired men, and the Holy Spirit, and in His mercy and wisdom, has made it possible for us to learn about Him.   God has passed onto us, his instructions for life and happiness, His laws and His commandments. The universe, which God Himself created, stands silent.  Silent.  What is beyond the universe?   God is.  Our Father blessed us with the Bible, His communication with us.  His Word.   Many people try to undermine it or interpret it differently, or add things to it, or condemn it.   If these same people  studied the Bible, they would see that it is a masterpiece that fits together unquestionably.   All they have to do:  is read it.   The universe is barren, cold, and limited.   God is all encompassing, warm in His Love for us, and unlimited.   The universe cannot promise what God promises us.

The Top Ten Reasons To Believe in God:

10. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

9. "The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too." Isaiah 58:11

8. "For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation." Psalm 100:5

7. "The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace".Psalm 29:11

6. "For nothing is impossible with God". Luke 1:37

5. "Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you." Psalm 55:22

4. "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears  us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him." 1 John 5:14-15

3. "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

2. "But remember, that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it." 1 Corinthians 13

And the top reason to believe in God is because, He promises…..

1. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you." Jeremiah 29:11

Marie Coppola  December  2015

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Dear Precious Jesus,

Tonight is Holy Thursday, the night you agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane awaiting your destiny of torture, humiliation and  debilitating pain.  You submitted willingly to Our Father's Will be done.

It is difficult to read or watch visuals of what was done to you.   You did it all for us.   All of us. It's also very difficult to watch what the people you died to give salvation to, have turned their backs on you and worse, reject your deity and teachings.

You, as the Word, beautifully show us the Way, the Truth and the Life.   You show us that through You, we know Our Father in Heaven.   And now we are repeating, "Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do."

You taught us about love and there is hate all around us.  You taught us about love of families and families have splintered.   You taught us about marriage between a man and a woman, and marriage has morphed into what the world wants, not what you taught us.   You taught us that marriage is important for procreation, but the world wants to abort babies, not create them.  They have relationships where babies can never be created.

You gave us a new covenant but the world chooses greed, power, and  narcissism over sharing, humbleness and stewardship.    You taught us peace, church community sharing and honesty; instead we have violence, bullying and untruths. You promised us abundance if we follow your path, and instead the world has forged its own path of idolatry, selfishness, and ungodliness.  And it's falling apart.

The Word tells us to praise and glorify God and the world tells us it's superstitious, ignorant, and discriminatory to listen to your Words.   We are called extremists and radicals and they call themselves progressives and liberals.    We want to stay faithful to you and they want us to denounce or hide that faith.

There are many of us who believe in who you are and what you taught through Our Father.   And we also know what you taught of how it will end.   Thank you for the gift of spirit that endures our faith. We're sorry if the path leading to you is narrow and the path that leads away from you is wide.   But it is their choice and we were given free will to choose which one we will take. In the long run their choices are not long-lasting, and become unsatisfactory and unhappy.

As for us, "Eye  has not seen nor ear has heard what God has ready for those who love him." Thank you, Jesus, for making it possible.   We love and adore you.

Marie Coppola   April 2015

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On Holy Thursday, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said to His disciple, "...are you asleep?  Could you not keep watch for one hour?  Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."

Today, I ask you:   are you asleep?  Can you not spend one hour a week watching and praying to Jesus to protect you from tests and trials?  Do you find other things to do even though you feel you should spend some time in thanks, praise and prayers in God's House? 

Or do you go to church and think of other things while you are there or check out who is attending?   Do you listen to the sermon and apply it to your life?   If you have a church that has communion, do you receive it and quickly walk out the door once you have and not spent some time in the communion of soul with Christ that you just received?

Once you form a relationship with Jesus, you will feel differently about praying and praising Him.   Forming a relationship with Him is easy; simply find a quiet place and talk to Him. In your own words and feelings.   Ask Him to lead you, teach you and give you the gift of Himself.   He will answer you - he answers in different ways.   He may answer you in thought, or feelings, or signs and acts.  You will feel it.

Once your spirit is willing, your flesh will no longer be weak.  You will be stronger in any and all tests that may come your way.   Peace will be yours.   He will guide you and hold your hand.   You will never be alone again.  

We celebrate Easter through His death and resurrection to be the light and inspiration in our lives now and forever. 

If you want to know Christ intimately, pray to the Holy Sprit for Wisdom and Understanding and read the Bible - start with the New Testament and Jesus' Words.   You will receive a Gift that will save your life.   Forever.  

Marie Coppola.  March 2015

 

Picture?   What picture?  If you are referring to photographs, I wonder if you've received any pictures of babies, nieces, nephews or grandkids lately.  Or did you get an email with attachments that you leave on your computer or cell phone?   When you have a lunch date or attend a party, do people show you pictures in their wallets or flash their cell phone to slide over the pictures?  Or do you hear things like this - especially from the grandparents who may not be resident 'digital natives' from the Z Generation?

  • This is my grandsom when he was 10 - his parents haven't sent any recent photos.
  • Her wedding album was online - no, we didn't get any photos.  And I was in the wedding.
  • There's lots of pictures of the kids on Facebook.   But we don't do Facebook.
  • We bought a bunch of photo albums on sale but we don't have any pictures.
  • No, I didn't see her cell phone pictures - we don't have that feature on our cell phone.
  • I never learned how to download or open pictures or send them on the cell phone.
  • Once I learn how to do it, it will become obsolete and will have to learn all over again.

In 2012, USA Today sponsored an online contest for readers to choose the name of the next generation after the Millenniums and it was suggested that some might call them Generation Z" rather "off-putting" and a name that is "still in-the-running.   Some alternate names were proposed including: iGeneration, Gen Tech, Gen Wii, Net Gen, Digital Natives, Gen Next, Post Gen, and Plurals. 

Wikipedia also offers:  "Most of the traits that will define this generation have yet to emerge. However, many are highly connected, having had lifelong use of communication and media technology like the World Wide Web, instant messaging, text messaging MP3 players, mobile phones and tablets,  earned them the nickname "digital native.".    Pew Research tells us the percentage of cell phone owners who use their devices to access the Internet has more than doubled since 2009, and '82% of  cell phone users take pictures with their cell phones over cameras'.  (And that was 7 years ago)!   Since then, we now have Instagram and Cloud Storage.

Our family has many photos from the early 1900s through the late 1900s.  They are wonderful memories and eventually passed down to the kids.  Some of them are on our walls and mantels, giving us ever-changing look-a-likes of the people or scenes within them.   Sometimes they look like different family members over time, they remind us of the time and place they were taken.   Sometimes we notice things we missed the first time we saw them.

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Photographs are priceless.   Some people put them in safes or vaults for protection against fires - that's how much they are valued.  Sadly, they are decreasing quickly.  How do we protect photographs on CDs or DVDs which eventually may become obsolete like much technology ends up or access them from a broken computer or disabled cell phone?

Today's digital natives are into selfies and photobombing.     Not my photo album kind of memories.

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Marie Coppola Revised October 2016

 

The Feast of the Holy Family is not just about the Holy Family, but about our own families too.

The main purpose of the Feast is to present the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families, and for domestic life in general. Our family life becomes sanctified when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called the "domestic church" or the "church in miniature." St. John Chrysostom urged all Christians to make each home a "family church," and in doing so, we sanctify the family unit. Just how does one live out the Church in the family? The best way is by making Christ the center of family and individual life. Ways to do this include: reading scripture regularly, praying daily, attending Mass at least on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, imitating the actions of the Holy Family, going to confession frequently, and so forth, all done together as a family unit.

In addition to cultivating positive actions, the Church understands that various actions and behaviors are contrary to God's Divine plan for the family. These include abortion, contraception, embryonic stem-cell research, divorce, spousal abuse, child abuse, among other things. Catholic Teaching is that a marriage must be open to children. Anything artificial that prevents this is contrary to divine law, although spacing births for a just reason is permitted (and may be accomplished through "natural family planning").

Also, poverty, lack of health care, rights violations, government intrusion in the life of communities and families, and other justice concerns must be addressed by faithful Christians because of the negative effect these conditions have on the family unit. St. Paul gives us some advice on family life in Colossians 3:12-21:

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged". (RSV).

The Holy Family feast is a good time to remember the family unit and pray for our human and spiritual families. We also may take this feast to reflect on the value and sanctity of the family unit, and to evaluate our own family life. What ways may it be improved? What would Jesus, Mary, and Joseph do? Finally, we can use this feast to ask ourselves what are we doing to promote the family within our own cultures, neighborhoods, and communities.

David Bennett's Author Page

David Bennett is a Catholic High School teacher, writer, and speaker. He graduated with a B.A. in Psychology, and a Master of Theological Studies, and received a Post-Master's Certificate in Religious Education in 2009. He has been inducted into numerous honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Alpha Theta (history), Eta Sigma Phi (Greek and Latin classics), Psi Chi (Psychology), and Theta Phi (theology). He studied Psychology, classical Greek, Latin, Philosophy, History, Liturgy, and Biblical Criticism.

He started ChurchYear.Net in 2004 with his brother Jonathan, to provide accurate and easy-to-understand information about Christian holidays. He also operates other websites, and is a member-manager of multiple online businesses and informational outlets. You may connect with David on Google Plus.

Marie Coppola  December 2014

 

Question:   Where does the Catholic Church stand on images of Christ, statues of saints, pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady of Guadalupe, etc.? Is it wrong for me to have these items in my home?     I know that our Church does not worship idols. Yet I would like some more information on what we believe.

Answer:  When I was a young man, I read a story by Stephen Vincent Benét titled “By the Waters of Babylon.” The mood was one of a traveler finding the ruins of a previous civilization. Throughout the story the hero kept coming across an idol of the God Ashing. At story's end, the reader discovers Benét has looked into the future and the city of New York, after some great catastrophe. The “idol” is simply the ruins of a bust of George Washington.

My point is simply that people can misinterpret, misconstrue and fail to understand what others are doing or have done.

The next time someone criticizes your use of statues, or accuses you of idolatry, you might ask him if he has a picture of his wife or children in his wallet. If he says yes, ask him why he is worshiping them.

Or ask him if he thinks all those tourists going out to see the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., or the faces of the presidents on Mount Rushmore are guilty of idolatry.

Those statues, like pictures of George Washington in so many courthouses, are ways of honoring heroes from the past. They put us in touch with great people in our history. They become occasions for teaching children about the past and offering examples of great citizens.

Stained-glass windows, statues and paintings have long served these same purposes in the Church. Crucifixes and statues of the Good Shepherd or Sacred Heart remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice and love for us. Statues of Mary and the saints recall the heroism of the saints and suggest to us what we should strive to become.

They are occasions for telling the children of today about the real saints and heroes of the past, for telling children what it means to live out their faith and religion. To all of us they offer the occasion to reflect and pray on the action of God in our lives. They help us to better sentiments of piety, call upon us to express our own faith and love. In honoring the saint we honor God who has worked such good and holy things in and through the saint.

From St. Anthony Messenger; Ask a Franciscan.  Return to AmericanCatholic.org

Marie Coppola July 2014