Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 Litany Lane Blog: Consecrate, Ezekiel 2:8-3:4, Matthew 18,1-5.10.12-14, Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe, Holocaust Atrocities of Auschwitz and the Order of Franciscans

Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Consecrate, Ezekiel 2:8-3:4, Matthew 18,1-5.10.12-14, Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe, Holocaust Atrocities of Auschwitz and the Order of Franciscans

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7..

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our Spirit...it's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Today's Word:  consecrate   con·se·crate  [kon-si-kreyt]

Origin:  1325–75; Middle English consecraten  < Latin consecrātus  (past participle of consecrāre ), equivalent to con- con-  + -secr-  (variant, in non-initial syllables, of sacer ) sacred,  holy + -ātus -ate1 , 

verb (used with object)
1. to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity: to consecrate a new church building.
2. to make (something) an object of honor or veneration; hallow: a custom consecrated by time.
3. to devote or dedicate to some purpose: a life consecrated to science.
4. to admit or ordain to a sacred office, especially to the episcopate.
5. to change (bread and wine) into the Eucharist.


Today's Old Testament - Ezekiel 2:8-3:4

8But you, son of man, are to listen to what I say to you; do not be a rebel like that rebellious tribe. Open your mouth and eat what I am about to give you.'
9 When I looked, there was a hand stretch- ing out to me, holding a scroll.
10 He un- rolled it in front of me; it was written on, front and back; on it was written 'Lamentations, dirges and cries of grief '
1 He then said, 'Son of man, eat what you see; eat this scroll, then go and speak to the House of Israel.'
2 I opened my mouth; he gave me the scroll to eat
3 and then said, 'Son of man, feed on this scroll which I am giving you and eat your fill.' So I ate it, and it tasted sweet as honey.
4 He then said, 'Son of man, go to the House of Israel and tell them what I have said.


Today's Gospel Reading - Matthew 18,1-5.10.12-14

Christ Blessing Children
At this time the disciples came to Jesus and said, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?' So he called a little child to him whom he set among them. Then he said, 'In truth I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. 'Anyone who welcomes one little child like this in my name welcomes me. 'See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that therein heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven. 'Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? In truth I tell you, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

• Here, in Chapter 18 of the Gospel of Matthew begins the fourth great discourse of the New Law, the Discourse of the Community. As has already been said before (on Monday of the 10th Week of the Year), the Gospel of Matthew written for the communities of the Christian Jews of Galilee and of Syria, present Jesus as the new Moses. In the Old Testament, the Law of Moses was codified in the five books of the Pentateuch. Imitating the ancient model, Matthew represents the New Law in five great Discourses: (a) The Sermon on the Mountain (Mt 5, 1 to 7, 29); (b) the Discourse of the Mission (Mt 10, 1-42); (c) The Discourse of the Parables (Mt 13, 1-52); (d) The Discourse of the Community (Mt 18, 1-35); (e) The discourse of the Future of the Kingdom (Mt 24,1 to 25,46). The narrative parts which are inserted among the five Discourses describe the practice of Jesus and show how he practiced and embodied the New Law in his life.

• The Gospel today gives the first part of the Discourse of the Community (Mt 18, 1-14) which has as key word “the little ones”. The little ones are not only the children, but also the poor persons, those who are not important in society and in the community, and also the children. Jesus asks that these “little ones” should always be the centre of the concern of the communities because “The Father in Heaven does not will that one of these little ones should be lost” (Mt 18, 14).

• Matthew 18, 1: The question of the disciples which provokes the teaching of Jesus. The disciples want to know who is the greater in the Kingdom. The simple fact of this question reveals that they had not understood anything or very little the message of Jesus. The whole Discourse of the Community, is in order to make them understand that among the followers of Jesus the spirit of service should prevail, the gift of self, of pardon, of reconciliation and of gratuitous love, without seeking one’s own interest and one’s own promotion.

• Matthew 18, 2-5: The fundamental criterion: the little one and the greater one. The disciples ask for a criterion so as to be able to measure the importance of the persons in the community: “Who is the greater in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus answers that the criterion are the littler ones! The little ones are not socially important; they do not belong to the world of the great. The disciples have to become children. Instead of growing up, to the heights, they must grow down and toward the periphery, where the poor and the little ones live. In this way, they will be the greater in the Kingdom! The reason is the following: “Anyone who receives one of these little ones receives me”. Jesus identifies himself with them. The love of Jesus for the little ones cannot be explained. Children have no merit. It is the complete gratuity of the love of God which manifests itself and asks to be imitated in the community of those who call themselves disciples of Jesus.

• Matthew 18, 6-9: Do not scandalize the little ones. These four verses concerning the scandal to little ones are omitted from today’s Gospel. We give a brief commentary on them. To scandalize the little ones means: to be the cause for them to lose their faith in God and to abandon the community. Matthew keeps a very hard phrase of Jesus: “Anyone who scandalizes even one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for him to have a mill stone tied around his neck and then be thrown into the sea”. It is a sign that at that time many little ones no longer identified themselves with the community and sought another refuge. And today, in Latin America, for example, every year, approximately three million persons abandon the historical Church and go toward the Evangelical churches. This is a sign that they do not feel at home among us. What is lacking in us? Which is the cause of this scandal of the little ones? In order to avoid the scandal, Jesus orders to cut the foot or take out the eye. This phrase cannot be taken literally. It means that we should be very firm, strict in fighting against scandal which draws the little ones away. We cannot, in any way, allow that the little ones should feel marginalized in our community; because in this case, the community would not be a sign of the Kingdom of God.

• Matthew 18, 10-11: The angels of the little ones are in the presence of the Father. Jesus recalls Psalm 91. The little ones take Yahweh as their refuge and make the most High their fortress (Ps 91, 9) and because of this: “No disaster can overtake you, no plague come near your tent; he has given angels orders about you to guard you wherever you go. They will carry you in their arms in case you trip over a stone” (Ps 91, 10, 12).

• Matthew 18, 12-14: The parable of the one hundred sheep. According to Luke, this parable reveals the joy of God on the conversion of a sinner (Lk 15, 3-7). According to Matthew, it reveals that the Father does not want that not even one of the little ones be lost. In other words, the little ones should be the pastoral priority of the Community, of the Church. They should be in the centre of the concern of all. Love toward the little ones and the excluded should be the axis of the community of those who want to follow Jesus; because it is in this way that the community becomes the proof of the gratuitous love of God who accepts all.

Personal questions
• Who are the poorest persons of our neighborhood? Do they participate in our community? Do they feel at home or do they find in us a cause to withdraw?
• God the Father does not want any of the little ones to get lost. What does this mean for our community?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites, www.ocarm.org.


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe

Feast Day: August 14
Died:  1941
Patron Saint of : drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners, and the pro-life movement. Pope John Paul II declared him "The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century".

St Max Kolbe, Holocaust Martyr
"Don't Ever Forget to Love" ~Father Maximilian Maria Kolbe

Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe, O.F.M. Conv., (Polish: Maksymilian Maria Kolbe; 8 January 1894 – 14 August 1941) was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar, who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the Nazi German concentration camp of Auschwitz, located in German-occupied Poland during World War II.

He was canonized on 10 October 1982 by Pope John Paul II, and declared a martyr of charity. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners, and the pro-life movement. Pope John Paul II declared him "The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century". Due to his efforts to promote Consecration and entrustment to Mary, he is also known as the Apostle of Consecration to Mary.


Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe was born Raymund Kolbe on 8 January 1894 in Zduńska Wola, which was part of the Russian Empire at the time. He was the second son of Julius Kolbe and Maria Dabrowska. His father was an ethnic German and his mother of Polish origins. He had four brothers, Francis, Joseph, Walenty (who lived a year) and Andrew (who lived four years).

His parents moved to Pabianice where they worked first as basket weavers. Later, his mother worked as a midwife (often donating her services), and owned a shop in part of her rented house which sold groceries and household goods. Julius Kolbe worked at the Krushe and Ender Mill and also worked on rented land where he grew vegetables. In 1914, Julius joined Józef Piłsudski's Polish Legions and was captured by the Russians and hanged for fighting for the independence of a partitioned Poland.

Kolbe's life was strongly influenced by a childhood vision of the Virgin Mary that he later described:
That night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me, a Child of Faith. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.
In 1907, Kolbe and his elder brother Francis decided to join the Conventual Franciscans. They illegally crossed the border between Russia and Austria-Hungary and joined the Conventual Franciscan junior seminary in Lwów. In 1910, Kolbe was allowed to enter the novitiate. He professed his first vows in 1911, adopting the name Maximilian, and the final vows in 1914, in Rome, adopting the names Maximilian Maria, to show his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Kolbe would later sing hymns to the Virgin Mary in the concentration camp.

In 1912, he was sent to Kraków, and in the same year to a college in Rome, where he studied philosophy, theology, mathematics, and physics. He earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1915 at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and the doctorate in theology in 1919 at the Pontifical University of St. Bonaventure. During his time as a student, he witnessed vehement demonstrations against Popes St. Pius X and Benedict XV in Rome during an anniversary celebration by the Freemasons. According to St. Maximilian,
They placed the black standard of the "Giordano Brunisti" under the windows of the Vatican. On this standard the archangel, St. Michael, was depicted lying under the feet of the triumphant Lucifer. At the same time, countless pamphlets were distributed to the people in which the Holy Father was attacked shamefully.

This event inspired Saint Kolbe to organize the Militia Immaculata, or Army of Mary, to work for conversion of sinners and enemies of the Catholic Church, specifically the Freemasons, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. So serious was St. Maximilian about this goal that he added to the Miraculous Medal prayer:
Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. And for all those who do not have recourse to thee; especially the Masons and all those recommended to thee.
The Immaculata friars utilized the most modern printing and administrative techniques in publishing catechetical and devotional tracts, a daily newspaper with a circulation of 230,000 and a monthly magazine with a circulation of over one million. Kolbe also used radio to spread his Catholic faith and to speak out against the atrocities of the Nazi regime. He is the only canonized saint to have held an amateur radio license, with the call sign SP3RN.

In 1918, Kolbe was ordained a priest. In 1919, he returned to the newly independent Poland, where he was very active in promoting the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, founding and supervising the monastery of Niepokalanów near Warsaw, a seminary, a radio station, and several other organizations and publications. Maximilian Kolbe founded the monthly periodical Rycerz Niepokalanej in 1922, and in 1927 founded a Conventual Franciscan monastery at Niepokalanow, which became a major publishing centre. Kolbe left Poland for Japan in 1930, spending six years there. The monastery at Niepokalanow began in his absence to publish the daily newspaper, Mały Dziennik, which became Poland's top-seller. Kolbe was accused of anti-semitism based on the content of these newspapers, which allegedly included claims of a Zionist plot for world domination. Researchers seeking to rebut accusations of anti-Semitism often point to the fact that Kolbe sheltered Jewish refugees during the war, and, according to one person who worked close to him: "When Jews came to me asking for a piece of bread, I asked Father Maximilian if I could give it to them in good conscience, and he answered me, 'Yes, it is necessary to do this because all men are our brothers.'"

Ministry in Japan

In 1927, he began building a whole town with property donated by a wealthy nobleman, called the "Town of the Immaculate," outside of Warsaw. There he began training people with vocations among the laity and prospective Religious and Priests, to become apostles of Mary. The first Marian Missionaries to Japan were trained in the "Town of the Immaculate." 

In 1930, Maximillian opened a Marian publication apostolate in Nagasaki, Japan—one of the two cities in Japan which would later be ravaged by a nuclear bomb during the Second World War. As popes have been saying ever since, God chose His most faithful people as a sacrifice to insure future peace in the world

By 1936, he developed a series of missions in Japan, where he founded a monastery at the outskirts of Nagasaki, a Japanese paper, and a seminary. The monastery he founded remains prominent in the Roman Catholic Church in Japan. Kolbe decided to build the monastery on a mountainside that, according to Shinto beliefs, was not the side best suited to be in harmony with nature. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Kolbe's monastery was saved because the other side of the mountain took the main force of the blast.

Martyrdom at Auschwitz

In an attempt by the Germans to exterminate all leaders in Poland, in May of 1941, St. Maximilian Kolbe was arrested by the Gestapo in Niepokalanow-the city of the Immaculata, and taken to Auschwitz-the city of hatred and death. Fr. Kolbe was beaten and received great cruelties for the simple fact that he was a Catholic priest. They made priests work even harder than civilians and the SS enjoyed the most minimal opportunity to beat them inhumanly. If anyone attempted to help them, they would punish the priests by increasing their work, or they would beat them until they would lose consciousness. St. Maximilian Kolbe was a light in the midst of such darkness. There are many testimonies by those who, through his words and example, were able to keep the faith in the middle of such desperation and death.

One concentration camp survivor explained: "Life in the concentration camp was inhumane. One could not trust anyone because there were spies, even amongst the prisoners. All of us were selfish at heart. With so many being assassinated all around, the hope was that others would be assassinated and that we could survive; our animal instincts took over because of hunger.” This was the reality that Maximilian Kolbe shared with them, yet he brought peace to the hearts of the most troubled, consolation to the afflicted, strength to the weak, and the grace of God through the Sacrament of Mercy, prayer and sacrifice – just like a good Teacher of souls. He lived to the extreme what he didn’t tire preaching to his friars: “Don’t ever forget to love.
During the Second World War, he provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland, including 2,000 Jews whom he hid from Nazi persecution in his friary in Niepokalanów. On 17 February 1941, he was arrested by the German Gestapo and imprisoned in the Pawiak prison. On 28 May, he was transferred to Auschwitz as prisoner #16670.

At the end of July 1941, three prisoners disappeared from the camp, prompting SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Fritzsch, the deputy camp commander, to pick 10 men to be starved to death in an underground bunker in order to deter further escape attempts. When one of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, "My wife! My children!", Kolbe volunteered to take his place.

In the starvation cell, he celebrated Mass each day and sang hymns with the prisoners. He led the other condemned men in song and prayer and encouraged them by telling them they would soon be with Mary in Heaven. Each time the guards checked on him, he was standing or kneeling in the middle of the cell and looking calmly at those who entered. After two weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe remained alive. The guards wanted the bunker emptied and they gave Kolbe a lethal injection of carbolic acid. Some who were present at the injection say that he raised his left arm and calmly waited for the injection. His remains were cremated on 15 August, the feast of the Assumption of Mary.


The first monument to St Maximilian Kolbe in Poland

Father Kolbe was beatified as a confessor by Pope Paul VI in 1971 and canonized as a martyr by Pope John Paul II on 10 October 1982, with Franciszek Gajowniczek in attendance. Upon canonization, the Pope declared St. Maximilian Kolbe not a confessor, but a martyr. St. Maximilian's beatification miracle was the July 1948 cure of intestinal tuberculosis in Angela Testoni, and in August 1950, the cure of calcification of the arteries/sclerosis of Francis Ranier was attributed to the intercession of St. Maximilian. After his canonization, St. Maximilian Kolbe's feast day was included in the General Roman Calendar used by many Catholic churches. He is one of ten 20th-century martyrs who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, London.


Kolbe's recognition as a Christian martyr also created some controversy within the Catholic Church, in that, while his ultimate self-sacrifice of his life was most certainly saintly and heroic, he was not killed strictly speaking out of odium Fidei (i.e., out of hatred for the Faith), but as a result of an act of Christian charity, which the Servant of God Pope Paul VI himself had recognized at his beatification by naming him a confessor and giving him the unofficial title "martyr of charity". However, Blessed Pope John Paul II, when deciding to canonize him, overruled the commission he had established (which agreed with the earlier assessment of heroic charity), wishing to make the point that the systematic hatred of (whole categories of) humanity propagated by the Nazi regime was in itself inherently an act of hatred of religious (Christian) faith, meaning Father Kolbe's death equated to martyrdom.

John Paul II comments on the great influence that St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe had on his priestly vocation: “Another singular and important dimension of my vocation arises from here. The German occupation soldiers in the West and Soviet occupation forces in the East made a great number of detentions and deportations of polish priests to concentration camps. In Dachau alone there were interned almost three thousand. There were other camps, like for example, the one in Auschwitz, where St. Maximilian Kolbe, the Franciscan Friar from Niepokalanow, offered his life for Christ and became the first priest canonized after the war.” (John Paul II, Gift and Mystery)


Sigmund Gorson, a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz, called him“A prince among men”:
"I was born in a precious family where love was abundant. All my family, parents, sisters and grandparents were murdered in the Concentration Camp. I was the only survivor. For me, it was extremely hard to find myself alone in this world, in the horror and hell that was lived in Auschwitz, and alone thirteen years old. Many youth like myself lost all hope of survival, and many jumped into the high voltage barbed wires to commit suicide. I never lost hope of finding someone among the immense mass of people who would have known my parents, a friend, a neighbor, so that I wouldn’t feel so alone. 
This is how Father Kolbe found me, to put it in simple terms,while I was looking for someone with whom I could make a connection. He was like an angel for me. Just like a mother hen takes in her chicks, that’s how he took me into his arms. He would clean my tears. I believe more in the existence of God ever since then. Ever since the death of my parents, I would ask myself, Where is God? I had lost all faith. Father Kolbe gave me back my faith. Father Kolbe knew I was a young Jew, but his love would embr everyone. He gave us lots of love. To be charitable in times of peace is easy, but to be charitable the way Father Kolbe was in that place of horror is heroic. I not only loved Father Kolbe a lot in the Concentration. Camp, but I will love him until the last day of my life."

Mieczyslaus Koscielniak relates how Saint Maximilian had attempted to create a school of saints in Niepokalanow, and how he attempted to do the same amidst the horror of Auschwitz:  "Saint Maximilian would encourage us to persevere with fortitude. “Do not allow yourselves to break down morally,” he would say to us, promising that God’s justice existed and that the Nazis would eventually be defeated. Listening to him, we would forget about our hunger and the degradation which we were subjected to constantly. One day, Saint Maximilian asked me for a favor. He said, our life here is very insecure, one by one we are being taken to the crematoriums, maybe I will go next, but in the meanwhile, can you do me a favor? Could you make me a drawing of Jesus and Mary, to whom I am very devoted? I drew it for him in the size of a postage stamp, and he would carry it with him all the time in a secret space he had on his belt.  Risking his own life or at least a good beating, between the months of June and July, he secretly met with us, almost every day, to instruct us. His words meant a lot to us. He would speak to us with such great faith about the saints who were celebrated each day, and how much they had to suffer. He would speak to us with great ardor about the martyrs who had totally sacrifice their lives for God’s cause. 

On Pentecost, he exhorted us to persevere, not to lose hope. Even if we don’t all survive, he said, we will all for sure triumph. Henry Sienkiewicz was a young man who slept next to Saint Maximilian when they both arrived at the camp. I never let a day pass by without seeing my friend. Father will win the hearts of all. Father Kolbe lived day by day by the hand of God. He had such an attraction, which was like a spiritual magnet. He would take us to God and the Virgin Mary. He wouldn’t stop telling us that God was good and merciful. He desired to convert everyone in the Camp, including the Nazis. He not only prayed for their conversion, but would exhort us to also pray for their conversion. One morning when I was getting ready to go do some hard labor, right before leaving, Father gave me a quarter of his bread portion. I didn’t want to take it, because I noticed he had been brutally beaten and he was exhausted. Besides, he would not receive anything else until the night. Father Kolbe embraced me and said: You should take it. You are going to be doing hard labor and you are hungry. If I was able to leave that place alive, keep my faith and not despair, I owe it to Father Kolbe. When I was close to desperation and just about to jump on the electrical voltage barbed wires, he gave me strength and told me I would come out of there alive. Just lean on the intercession of the Mother of God. He instilled in me a strong faith and a living hope, especially in her Maternal protection."

Religious Influence

Kolbe's influence has found fertile ground in his own Franciscan order, in the form of the Franciscan Friars of Mary Immaculate (O.F.M.I), a Franciscan religious order whose rule is influenced by the spirituality of St. Maximilian. O.F.M.I Friars are even taught basic Polish so they can sing the traditional hymns sung by Kolbe, in the saint's native tongue. According to the O.F.M.I Friars,
"Our patron, St. Maximilian Kolbe, inspires us with his unique Mariology and apostolic mission, which is to bring all souls to the Sacred Heart of Christ through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Christ's most pure, efficient, and holy instrument of evangelization – especially those most estranged from the Church. "

Marian Essay by St Kolbe:

Why Mary is Our Mediatrix
Father Maximilian Kolbe , Miles Immaculatae, 1938 

"The strict union that exists among the truths of Christian doctrine is known to us all. For Catholic dogmas are born from one another and perfect each other reciprocally. We can see an example of this in the Fathers of the Council of Ephesus. They proclaimed the divine Motherhood of Mary solely on the basis of the Catholic doctrine regarding the hypostatic union of the divine and human natures in the Person of the Word. Once the relationship between Jesus and his Mother Mary became known, there arose the Catholic belief which holds that the Mother of the Savior was exempt from original sin. Catholics did not dare think that Mary had ever been enslaved to the devil even for a single instant. A wonderful hope of obtaining the sweet care of Mary also arose among the faithful based on the preeminent mission of the Blessed Virgin and on her unutterable union (her Immaculate Conception) with the Holy Spirit.

Immaculate Conception Linked to Mediation
And it is now clear that our relationship to Mary the Co-Redemptrix and Dispenser of graces in the economy of the redemption has not been understood from the beginning with uniform clarity. Nevertheless our belief in the mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is daily growing greater. In this brief ar­ticle we want to show what the dogma of the Immaculate Con­ception of the Blessed Virgin Mary contributes to the doctrine of Mary's mediation. The work of our redemption depends directly on the Sec­ond Person of God, Jesus Christ. By his blood He reconciled us to the Father, for with it he made satisfaction for the sin of Adam and merited for us sanctifying grace, various actual graces and the right to enter heaven. Still, the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity also partici­pates in this work in that He transforms the souls of men into temples of God by the power of the redemption achieved by Christ, and He makes us children of God by adoption and heirs of the kingdom of heaven, according to the words of St. Paul: You have been washed, you have been justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:11) The Holy Spirit, who is God-Love, unites us to the other two divine Persons when He descends into our souls. For this reason St. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans: We do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Holy Spirit Himself pleads for us with un-speakable groanings. (Rom 8:26) In the epistle to the Corinthians he also says the distribution of graces depends on the will of the Holy Spirit. To one indeed is given the speaking of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the speaking of knowledge to another the gift of healing in the same Spirit; to another die working of wonders, to another prophecy. One and the same Spirit however does all these things. (1 Cor 12:8-11).

Immaculate Heart Is Sign of Holy Spirit
Still, just as Jesus became the God-Man in order to reveal his immense love for us, so also the Third Divine Person, God-Love, willed to show his mediation with the Father and the Son in some external image. That this image is the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin is clear from the words of the saints, espe­cially those who hold Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Whence Bl. Louis Marie Grignion draws the conclusion ac­cording to the mind of the Fathers: The Holy Spirit lacks fruitfulness in God, that is, no divine Person proceeds from him. But he becomes fruitful through Mary whom he has taken to himself as Spouse. With her and in her and through her he produces his most illustri­ous work, the incarnation of the Word: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (Lk 1:35). Still, this is not to be under­stood in the sense that the Blessed Virgin has brought fruit-fulness to the Holy Spirit. As God he would already have had this fruitfulness just as have the Father and the Son, even though he had not revealed it by action in that no Divine Person proceeds from him. Rather it is to be un­derstood in the sense that the Holy Spirit has chosen to manifest his fruitfulness by the mediation of Mary, which certainly he does not absolutely need, by producing the human nature of Christ through her and with her. Even after the death of Christ the Holy Spirit accomplishes everything in us through Mary. For the words of the Creator pronounced to the serpent concerning the Immaculata: "She shall crush your head" (Gen 3:15) are, according to the teach­ing of the theologians, to be understood without limitation in regard to time. The work of forming the new members of the predestined of the Mystical Body of Christ belongs to the Holy Spirit. But as Bl. Louis Grignion demonstrates, this work is done with Mary, in Mary and through Mary.

Holy Spirit and Mary Enable Us to Know Christ
We are led to this conclusion, namely that the Holy Spirit acts through Mary, by the texts of Sacred Scripture and the words of the saints, who are the best interpreters of Sacred Scripture: "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you an­other Paraclete, so that he might abide with you for eternity, the Spirit of truth ... (Jn14:16-17). The Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, however, which the Father will send in my name, he is the one who will teach you all things and bring to your minds all that I have said to you...(Jn 14:26); however when the Spirit of truth shall have come, he will teach you all the truth...He will glorify me..." (Jn 6:13-14). Bl. Louis Grignion uses words of almost the same meaning in regard to the Immaculata: We have not yet known Mary, and for this reason we also do not know Christ as we should. If however Christ is to become known and his kingdom is to come upon the earth-which has to come to pass regardless this will re­sult solely from Mary's being known, and from her reign over us; for Mary gave birth to Jesus for the salvation of the world in the first place, and now renders us fit to know him clearly. Therefore, just as the Second Person of God appears in the flesh bearing the name "seed of the woman," so also the Holy Spirit reveals his share in the work of redemption through the Immaculate Virgin whom he has conjoined with himself most profoundly in a manner surpassing all our power to under­stand, but preserving into the Personhood of each of them. Their union, therefore, is different from the hypostatic union that unites the two natures, divine and human, in the one sole Person of Christ; nevertheless, this difference in no way pre­vents the action of Mary from being the most perfect action of the Holy Spirit. For Mary, as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit and who is, therefore, raised above all created perfection, fulfills in every way the will of the Holy Spirit who dwells in her and with her and this from the first instant of her conception.

Mediation Based on "Marriage" with the Holy Spirit
From all that has been presented here we can rightly con­clude that Mary as the Mother of the Savior Jesus has been made the Co-Redemptrix of the human race, and that as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit she participates in the distribution of all the graces. Whence we can say with the theologians: ". . . as the first Eve worked for our downfall by her truly personal and free actions, and truly helped cause it, so Mary by her truly personal actions joined in the reparation ... in this there is al­ready in a most evident way true mediation properly speaking."1 In recent times especially we are perceiving the Immaculata, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, as our Mediatrix. It was in the year 1830 that the Immaculate Virgin appeared to Sister Catherine Laboure. We learn from the account of this novice that the purpose of the apparition of Mary was to reveal her Immaculate Conception and her astonishing power with God: The most holy Virgin cast her eyes on me and at the same time I heard a voice say, "This globe of the world repre­sents all men and each individual person." And again: "Be­hold the symbol of the graces which I pour out on all who invoke me." Afterwards an oval figure was formed around the most holy Virgin in which the following invocation was written in golden words: "O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you." At the same moment I heard a voice saying: "Strike a medal according to this exemplar: all who carry it will overflow with graces."

Mary Acts as Mediatrix at Lourdes
At Lourdes the Immaculate Virgin prodded all men to do penance; finally she recited the "Hail Mary" in order to show it to us as a source of help. From that moment the Immaculata at Lourdes began to act in her capacity as our Mediatrix: she invites the sick to come, she gathers the weak and the lame to cure them, and she reveals our dependence on her even in natural life. The sick in soul, namely unbelievers and sinners with hard­ened hearts she draws sweetly and pours supernatural life into their hearts in order to convince them of her power to grant ussupernatural life. Moreover, we should note this above all, that Jesus works miracles in the place (Lourdes) chosen by his Mother. Everything that the Blessed Virgin Mary does at Lourdes testifies to the truth of the words of St. Peter Damian: "A curse came upon the earth through a woman; through a woman earth's blessing is restored."  And also the words of St. Augus­tine: "In man's deception, poison was served him through a woman; in his redemption, salvation is presented him through a woman."   Therefore what St. Bernard expresses in words, the Immacu­late Virgin confirms by acts: "Such is the desire of him who willed that we should have everything through Mary." 1938 ~ Father Maximilian

Militia of the Immaculata

"We have to win the whole world and each soul, now and in the future until the end of times,  for the Immaculate, and through her, for the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus." ~St. Maximilian María Kolbe
Immaculata,Queen and Mother of the Church, I renew my consecration to you this day and for always, so that you
Miraculous Medal as given to St Catherine Laboure 1830
On November 27, 1830, the Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Catherine Laboure. She displayed herself inside an oval frame, standing upon a globe, wearing many rings of different colors, most of which shone rays of light over the globe. Around the margin of the frame appeared the words Ô Marie, conçue sans péché, priez pour nous qui avons recours à vous (in English, O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee). As Catherine watched, the frame seemed to rotate, showing a circle of twelve stars, a large letter M surmounted by a cross, and the stylized Sacred Heart of Jesus crowned with thorns and Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced with a sword. Asked why some of her rings did not shed light, Mary reportedly replied, "Those are the graces for which people forget to ask." Catherine then heard Mary ask her to take these images to her father confessor, telling him that they should be put on medallions, and saying "All who wear them will receive great graces.

Saint Kolbe emphasized consecration to Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception, and gave it a specific apostolic purpose: "to gain the whole world for the Immaculata so as to bring about, as soon as possible, the kingdom of the Sacred Heart of Jesus". His view of consecration was that of incorporating oneself willingly into the mystery and mission of the Immaculate Mother of God for the conversion and sanctification of all souls, beginning with oneself.  Kolbe also wanted Marian consecrants to collectively and freely join themselves to one another in a spiritual solidarity by enrolling into an authorized spiritual movement and corporately becoming Our Lady's instruments---her maternal presence and activity---within the Church and throughout the world.

The Militiaof the Immaculata (MI) is a worldwide evangelization movement founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe in 1917 that encourages total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a means of spiritual renewal for individuals and society. The MI movement is open to all Catholics. It employs prayer as the main weapon in the spiritual battle with evil. MIs also immerse themselves in apostolic initiatives throughout society, either individually or in groups, to deepen the knowledge of the Gospel and our Catholic Faith in themselves and in others. Marian consecration is a formal act of self-giving that does not stop at Mary, but is Christ-directed. It is really consecration to Jesus. The MI's mission is "To Lead Every Individual With Mary to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus." 

The MI movement is closely associated with four Marian apparitions. First, the appearances of Mary to Bernadette at Lourdes had a profound effect on St. Maximilian Kolbe and his development of the theology of the Immaculate Conception. Second, Our Lady's appearances to St. Catherine Laboure resulted in the promulgation of the Miraculous Medal - the "spiritual bullet" that MIs wear or carry and promote. Third, the Marian apparition to Alphonse Ratisbonne, leading to his sudden and profound conversion, convinced St. Maximilian of the power of the Miraculous Medal. Finally, Mary appeared to St. Maximilian himself when he was just ten years old (and possibly again while he was a missionary in Japan).

In 1922, the Movement was canonically established as a Pious Union of the Faithful and in 1926 Pope Pius XI elevated it to the status of a Primary Union. Today, the MI falls under under the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See and under the Code of Canon Law of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Laity and has been highly endorsed by Pope John Paul II. In 1981 the Holy Father noted that "membership in the MI means complete dedication to the Kingdom of God and to the salvation of souls through Mary Immaculate."  With the approval by the Pontifical Council for the Laity on October 16, 1997, of the MI's updated International Governing Statutes, the MI was given the privilege of status as an "international public association" - a status shared by only three other Catholic organizations

Pope John Paul II said: "Through her, the Sun of Justice was to rise in the world. Through her, the great healer of humanity, the reconciler of hearts and consciences, her Son, the God-Man, Jesus Christ, by His life, death, and resurrection was to uplift the entire human family. This woman dominates all history as the Virgin Mother of the Son and as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, as the Handmaid of humanity


  • Courtesyof Wikipedia 
  • Jewish Virtual Library. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Kolbe.html
  • Militia of Immaculata. http://www.consecration.com/

Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane


Today's Snippets:  Autrocities of Auschwitz and The Order of Franciscans

The Atrocities of Auschwitz

Auschwitz concentration camp  was a network of concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II. It was the largest of the German concentration camps, consisting of Auschwitz I (the Stammlager or base camp); Auschwitz II–Birkenau (the Vernichtungslager or extermination camp); Auschwitz III–Monowitz, also known as Buna–Monowitz (a labor camp); and 45 satellite camps.

Auschwitz had for a long time been a German name for Oświęcim, the town by and around which the camps were located; the name "Auschwitz" was made the official name again by the Germans after they invaded Poland in September 1939. Birkenau, the German translation of Brzezinka (= "birch tree"), referred originally to a small Polish village that was destroyed by the Germans to make way for the camp situated some 60 km from Cracow, is located in the midst of swampy terrain. The SS chose these old quarters from the Austro-Hungarian monarchy to situate the concentration camp because of the favorable conditions for lines of communication. Under the authority of the camp’s first commander, Rudolf Höss, the camp, which would later be known as Auschwitz I or Central Camp, began to be built in May of 1940. This first expansion was thought to house 7000 prisoners, and it included 28 two-story brick buildings and some other adjacent wooden buildings. Two barbed wire fences with high electrical voltage surrounded the entire camp. Over the gate at the entrance, a iron sign  "WORK MAKES FREE".

Auschwitz II–Birkenau was designated by the Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, Germany's Minister of the Interior, as the place of the "final solution of the Jewish question in Europe". From early May 1940 until late 1944, transport trains delivered over a million people to the camp from all over German-occupied Europe. The camp's first commandant, Rudolf Höss, testified after the war at the Nuremberg Trials that up to three million people had died there (2.5 million gassed, and 500,000 from disease and starvation), a figure since revised to 1.3 million, around 90 percent of them Jewish. Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Roma and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, some 400 Jehovah's Witnesses and tens of thousands of people of diverse nationalities. Those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, infectious disease, individual executions, and medical experiments.

On January 27, 1945, Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet troops, a day commemorated around the world as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In 1947, Poland founded a museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, which by 2010 had seen 29 million visitors—1,300,000 annually—pass through the iron gates crowned with the infamous motto, Arbeit macht frei ("work makes free").

One May 20, 1940 The first prisoners, 30 German career criminals from Sachsenhausen, arrive. Most will be made kapos, prisoner no. 1 is a German of Polish descent Bruno Brodniewicz. For the next four years and seven months, every kind of cruelty and atrocity, every sort of bestiality and aberration, every kind of inhumane horror, took place to truly transform the camp into a genocide garrison. Continual deaths occurred due to illness, malnutrition, cold, exhausting fatigue, scurvy, dysentery, traumas and infections. The firing squad would riddle with bullets dozens of people at a time, against a thick wall lined with rubber to diminish the sound. In the arms plaza, five people would climb unto a stool, the executioner would place the rope around their necks, and with a kick of the bucket, the victims remained suspended in air.

Auschwitz had become famous for the having installed the first gas chamber which began to operate the 15th of August 1940. It was not the bullets, hangings, or the gas chambers that were feared most, but rather the death basements or bunkers, which caused the slow, agonizing and maddening martyrdom due to hunger and thirst. By Heinrich Himmler’s order, Auschwitz II (Birkenau) camp began to be built in October of 1941. This one was much more extensive than the central camp. Auschwitz is the epitome of the most atrocious crime ever committed in the history of humanity. A crime that was completely documented, Auschwitz represents the location where the most well-organized and planned genocides in history took place. The victims were not buried; instead, they were burnt and their ashes where spread along the adjacent fields. Our linguistic resources are insufficient to describe all the cruelties that so many innocent men, women and children were subjected to in this place of horror. Not only were they brutally assassinated, but in addition, thousands of them died of starvation and many were subjected to forced labor under inhumane conditions until they died of exhaustion.
The most efficient method of exterminating humans was asphyxiation through the gas chambers. In a hermetically enclosed space, the SS used Zyklon B acid, which evaporates at body temperature so that in a very short time it provoked death by asphyxiation. The first attempts at submitting humans to asphyxiating gases were in Auschwitz I on September of 1941 in prison cells located in block 11. Later on the deposit of cadavers adjacent to Crematorium I was used as a gas chamber. Because of the limited space in Crematorium I and the impossibility of maintaining this in complete secrecy, the SS moved to Birkenau in 1942 and transformed two farms in the middle of a forest into gas chambers. The cadavers were transported by narrow train lines to graves. Since these provisional installations were also not sufficient, in July of 1942 they began to build the four great “death factories.” These began functioning between March and June of 1943. The prisoners themselves were forced to build these places of extermination. At that time it was possible to assassinate and burn 24,000 persons daily.

The prisoners were afraid of being admitted to the infirmary since this meant they would be submitted to a “lethal injection,” even when they had only a minor illness. The “lethal injection” meant being assassinated by an injection of 10 cm of phenol, injected directly into the heart. The victims died on the spot. This assassination method began in August of 1941. The majority of times the phenol injections were administered by the health officers, Josef Klehr and Herbert Scherpe, as well as initiated prisoners like, Alfred Stössel and Mieczyslaw Panszcyk. The prisoners, including children, who were selected for the lethal injection needed to present themselves to block 20 of the central camp. There they were called in one by one and told to sit in an ambulatory chair. Two prisoners held the victim’s hands and a third one blindfolded his eyes. Immediately thereafter, Klehr would introduce the needle into the heart and empty the syringe. Between 30 and 60 people died each day by this method.

The exact number of victims at Auschwitz is impossible to fix with certainty. Since the Nazis destroyed most number of records and evidence, systematically relocated many prisoners to other locations despite refuted efforts to attempt account the all the deceased based on testimony of witnesses and the defendants on trial at Nuremberg.  In 1983, French scholar George Wellers was one of the first to use German data on deportations to estimate the number killed at Auschwitz, arriving at 1.613 million dead, including 1.44 million Jews and 146,000 Catholic Poles. A larger study started later by Franciszek Piper used timetables of train arrivals combined with deportation records to calculate 960,000 Jewish deaths and 140,000–150,000 ethnic Polish victims, along with 23,000 Roma and Sinti, a figure that has met with significant agreement from other scholars. After the collapse of the Communist government in 1989, the plaque at Auschwitz State Museum was removed and the official death toll given as 1.1 million


The Order of Franciscans

Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities.

The most prominent group is the Order of Friars Minor, commonly called simply the "Franciscans." They seek to follow most directly the manner of life that Saint Francis led. This Order is a mendicant religious order of men tracing their origin to Francis of Assisi. It comprises three separate groups, each considered a religious order in its own right. These are the Observants, most commonly simply called "Franciscan friars," the Capuchins, and the Conventual Franciscans. They all live according to a body of regulations known as "The Rule of St. Francis".

Origin of Name and Orders

The official Latin name of the Orders of Friars Minor is the Ordo Fratrum Minorum. St. Francis thus referred to his followers as "Fraticelli", meaning "Little Brothers". Franciscan brothers are informally called friars or the Minorites. The modern organization of the Friars Minor now comprises three separate branches: the 'Friars Minor' (OFM); the 'Friars Minor Conventual' (OFM Conv), and the 'Friars Minor Capuchin' (OFM Cap).

The women who comprise the "Second" Order of the movement are most commonly called Poor Clares in English-speaking countries. The order is called the "Order of St. Clare" (O.S.C.).

The Third Order, or Third Order of Penance, has tens of thousands of members, as it includes both men and women, both living in religious communities under the traditional religious vows, as well as those who live regular lives in society, while trying to live the ideals of the movement in their daily lives.

Beginning of the brotherhood

Francis of Assisi
A sermon which Francis of Assisi heard in 1209 on Mt 10:9 made such an impression on him that he decided to devote himself wholly to a life of apostolic poverty. Clad in a rough garment, barefoot, and, after the Evangelical precept, without staff or scrip, he began to preach repentance.  He was soon joined by a prominent fellow townsman, Bernardo di Quintavalle, who contributed all that he had to the work, and by other companions, who are said to have reached the number of eleven within a year. The brothers lived in the deserted lazar-house of Rivo Torto near Assisi; but they spent much of their time traveling through the mountainous districts of Umbria, always cheerful and full of songs, yet making a deep impression on their hearers by their earnest exhortations. Their life was extremely ascetic, though such practises were apparently not prescribed by the first rule which Francis gave them (probably as early as 1209), which seems to have been nothing more than a collection of Scriptural passages emphasizing the duty of poverty.

In spite of some similarities between this principle and some of the fundamental ideas of the followers of Peter Waldo, the brotherhood of Assisi succeeded in gaining the approval of Pope Innocent III. What seems to have impressed first the Bishop of Assisi, Guido, then Cardinal Giovanni di San Paolo and finally Innocent himself, was their utter loyalty to the Church and the clergy. Innocent III was not only the Pope reigning during the life of St. Francis of Assisi, but he was also responsible for helping to construct the Church Francis was being called to rebuild. Innocent III and the Fourth Lateran Council helped maintain the church in Europe. Innocent probably saw in them a possible answer to his desire for an orthodox preaching force to counter heresy. Many legends have clustered around the decisive audience of Francis with the Pope. The realistic account in Matthew Paris, according to which the Pope originally sent the shabby saint off to keep swine, and only recognized his real worth by his ready obedience, has, in spite of its improbability, a certain historical interest, since it shows the natural antipathy of the older Benedictine monasticism to the plebeian mendicant orders. The group was tonsured and Francis was ordained as a deacon, allowing him to read Gospels in the church.

Last years of Francis

Confirmation of the Rule
Francis had to suffer from the dissensions just alluded to and the transformation which they operated in the originally simple constitution of the brotherhood, making it a regular order under strict supervision from Rome. Exasperated by the demands of running a growing and fractious Order, Francis asked Pope Honorius III for help in 1219. He was assigned Cardinal Ugolino as protector of the order by the Pope. Francis resigned the day-to-day running of the Order into the hands of others but retained the power to shape the Order's legislation, writing a Rule in 1221 which he revised and had approved in 1223. At least after about 1223, the day-to-day running of the Order was in the hands of Brother Elias of Cortona, an able friar who would be elected as leader of the friars a few years after Francis' death (1226) but who aroused much opposition because of his autocratic style of leadership. He planned and built the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi in which Saint Francis is buried, a building including the friary Sacro Convento, which still today is the spiritual centre of the order.
The Franciscan order boasts a number of distinguished members. From its first century can be cited the three great scholastics Alexander of Hales, Saint Bonaventure, and John Duns Scotus, the "Doctor of Wonders" Roger Bacon, and the well-known mystic authors and popular preachers David of Augsburg and Berthold of Regensburg. During the Middle Ages noteworthy members included Nicholas of Lyra, the Biblical commentator Bernardino of Siena, preachers John of Capistrano, Oliver Maillard, and Michel Menot, and historians Luke Wadding and Antoine Pagi. In the field of Christian art, during the later Middle Ages, the Franciscan movement exercised considerable influence, especially in Italy. Several great painters of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, especially Cimabue and Giotto, who, though they were not friars, were spiritual sons of Francis in the wider sense, and the plastic masterpieces of the latter, as well as the architectural conceptions of both himself and his school, show the influence of Franciscan ideals. The Italian Gothic style, whose earliest important monument is the great convent church at Assisi (built 1228–53), was cultivated as a rule principally by members of the order or men under their influence.

The early spiritual poetry of Italy was partially inspired by Francis himself, who was followed by Thomas of Celano, Bonaventure, and Jacopone da Todi. Through a tradition which held him to have been a member of the Franciscan Third Order, even Dante may be included within this artistic tradition (cf. especially Paradiso, xi. 50).

Other famous members of the Franciscan family include Saint Anthony of Padua, William of Occam, François Rabelais, Alexander of Hales, Giovanni da Pian del Carpini, Pio of Pietrelcina, Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Pasquale Sarullo, Mamerto Esquiú, Gabriele Allegra, Junipero Serra, Father Simpliciano of the Nativity, Mychal F. Judge, Fray Angelico Chavez, and Joseph of Cupertino.

Poor Clares

Poor Clares
The Poor Clares comprise several orders of nuns in the Catholic Church. The Poor Clares were the second Franciscan order to be established by Saints Clare of Assisi and Francis of Assisi in the year 1212, they were organized after the Order of Friars Minor (the first Order), and before the Third Order of Penance or tertiaries. As of 2011 there were over 20,000 Poor Clare nuns in over 75 countries throughout the world. They follow several different observances and are organized into federations . The Poor Clares follow the Rule of St. Clare, which was approved by Pope Innocent IV the day before Clare's death in 1253. The main branch of the Order (O.S.C.) follows the observance of Pope Urban. Other branches established since that time, who operate under their own unique Constitutions, are the Colettine Poor Clares (P.C.C.) (founded 1410), the Capuchin Poor Clares (O.S.C. Cap) (founded 1538) and the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration (P.C.P.A.) (founded 1854).

Third Order

The Third Order has its origins in the movement of the Penitents. These were people who desired to grow in holiness in their daily lives without joining a religious order. Seeing a need, St. Francis created the Brothers and Sisters of Penance. Eventually some members of the Third Order wanted to live in community and take vows. The Third Order split into the Third Order Regular and Third Order Secular (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order.)

Secular Franciscan Order

During his lifetime, many married men and women asked St. Francis if they could embrace his style of life, but of course, due to their secular state, they were not able to enter into the First Order or into the Poor Clares. For this reason, he founded a Secular order to which lay and married men and women could belong and live according to the Gospel. Nowadays, this part of the Third Order is known as Secular Franciscan Order and is numerous and spread around the world. The original Rule, given by St. Francis in 1221, was slightly modified during the centuries to be adapted to the changing times, and now the last one was given by Pope Paul VI in 1978.

Third Order Regular

Within a century of the death of St. Francis, members of the Third Order began to live in common, in an attempt to follow a more ascetical way of life. Blessed Angela of Foligno (+1309) was foremost among those who achieved great depths in their lives of prayer and service of the poor.

Among the men, the Third Order Regular is an international community of priests and brothers who desire to emphasize the works of mercy and on-going conversion. The community is also known as the Franciscan Friars, T.O.R., and was originally founded in 1447 by a papal decree that united several communities of hermits, following the Third Order Rule. They strive to "rebuild the Church" in areas of high school and college education, parish ministry, church renewal, social justice, campus ministry, hospital chaplaincies, foreign missions, and other ministries in places where the Church is needed.

Following the formal recognition of the members of religious tertiary communities, the following centuries saw a steady growth of such communities, across Europe. Initially, the women's communities took a monastic form of life, either voluntarily or under pressure from ecclesiastical superiors. The great figure of this development was St. Hyacintha Mariscotti. As Europe entered the upheavals of the modern age, new communities arose, which were able to focus more exclusively on social service, especially during the immediate post-Napoleonic period. An example of this is the Blessed Mary Frances Schervier.

This movement continued in North America, as various congregations arose from one coast to another, in answer to the needs of the large emigrant communities, flooding in the cities of the United States and Canada.

Franciscans International

Franciscans International is a Non-governmental organization (NGO) with General Consultative status at the United Nations, uniting the voices of Franciscan brothers and sisters from around the world. It operates under the sponsorship of the Conference of the Franciscan Family (CFF) and serve all Franciscans and the global community by bringing grassroots Franciscans to the United Nations forums in New York and Geneva. It brings the spiritual and ethical values of the Franciscans to the United Nations and international organizations.

Visions and Stigmata

The Stigmatization of St. Francis

Among the many Catholic orders, Franciscans have proportionally reported higher ratios of stigmata and have claimed proportionally higher ratios of visions of Jesus and Mary. Saint Francis of Assisi himself was one of the very first reported cases of stigmata, and perhaps the most famous stigmatic of modern times is Saint Padre Pio, a Capuchin, who also reported visions of Jesus and Mary. Pio's stigmata persisted for over fifty years and he was examined by numerous physicians in the 20th century, who confirmed the existence of the wounds, but none of whom could produce a medical explanation for the fact that his bleeding wounds would never get infected. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, his wounds healed once, but reappeared. According to the Columbia Encyclopedia some medical authorities who examined Padre Pio's wounds were inclined to believe that the stigmata were connected with nervous or cataleptic hysteria. According to Answers.com the wounds were examined by Luigi Romanelli, chief physician of the City Hospital of Barletta, for about one year. Dr. Giorgio Festa, a private practitioner also examined them in 1920 and 1925. Professor Giuseppe Bastianelli, physician to Pope Benedict XV agreed that the wounds existed but made no other comment. Pathologist Dr. Amico Bignami of the University of Rome also observed the wounds, but made no diagnosis.

Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land

After an intense apostolic activity in Italy, in 1219 Francis went to Egypt with the Fifth Crusade, to announce the Gospel to the Saracens. He met with the Sultan Malek-al-Kamel, initiating a spirit of dialogue and understanding between Christianity and Islam. The Franciscan presence in the Holy Land started in 1217, when the province of Syria was established, with Brother Elias as Minister. By 1229, the friars had a small house near the fifth station of the Via Dolorosa. In 1272 the sultan Baibars allowed the Franciscans to settle in the Cenacle on Mount Sion. Later on, in 1309, they also settled in the Holy Sepulchre and in Bethlehem. In 1335 King Robert d'Angiò of Naples, and his wife, Sancia di Maiorca, bought the Cenacle and gave it to the Franciscans.

The Cenacle Today (Room of the Last Supper)
The Cenacle  also known as the "Upper Room", is the site of The Last Supper. The word is a derivative of the Latin word cena, which means dinner. In Christian tradition, based on Acts 1:13, the "Upper Room" was not only the site of the Last Supper (i.e. the Cenacle), but the usual place where the Apostles stayed in Jerusalem, and according to the Catholic Encyclopedia "the first Christian church". Thus the Cenacle is considered the site where many other events described in the New Testament took place such as:
  •   the Washing of the Feet
  •   some resurrection appearances of Jesus
  •   the gathering of the disciples after the Ascension of Jesus
  •   the election of Saint Matthias as apostle
  •   the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on the day  of  Pentecost

Pope Clement VI, by the Bulls "Gratias agimus" and "Nuper charissimae" (1342), declared the Franciscans as the official custodians of the Holy Places in the name of the Catholic Church.  The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land is still in force today.

Today, the jurisdiction of the Custodian covers Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and the islands of Cyprus and Rhodes. The Custody has about 300 friars and about 100 sisters in these countries. The Franciscans serve the principal Christian shrines, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Basilica of the Annunciation at Nazareth. The custodian's offices are at the St. Savior's monastery, a 16th century Franciscan monastery near New Gate.

The Franciscan order owns a great deal of property in the Holy Land, second only to the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem. In addition to the major shrines of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem (which the Franciscans own and administer in common with the Jerusalem Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox patriarchates), the Custodian also cares for 74 shrines and sanctuaries throughout the Holy Land, including properties in Syria and Jordan. In 1909, in the territory of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, re-instituted in 1847, the Franciscans had 24 convents, and 15 parishes, including numerous schools.


  • Cesarani, David and Kavanaugh, Sarah (2004). Holocaust: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-27512-1, ISBN 978-0-415-27512-5
  • Gutman, Yisrael and Berenbaum, Michael (eds.) (1998). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Indiana University Press; first published 1994.
  •  Piper, Franciszek (1994). "The Number of Victims" in Gutman and Berenbaum, 1998.
  • Dlugoborski, Waclaw, and Franciszek Piper (eds.) (2000). Auschwitz, 1940–1945: Central Issues in the History of the Camp Five Vols. Oświęcim: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. ISBN 83-85047-87-5
  • The Poor and the Perfect: The Rise of Learning in the Franciscan Order, 1209-1310 by Neslihan Senocak. (Cornell University Press; 2012) 280 pages; shows how Franciscans shifted away from an early emphasis on poverty and humility and instead emphasized educational roles
  • A History of the Franciscan Order: From Its Origins to the Year 1517 by John Richard Humpidge Moorman, Franciscan Institute Publications, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8199-0921-3
  • Origins of the Franciscan Order by Cajetan Esser, Franciscan Institute Publications, 1970. ISBN 978-0-8199-0408-2