Friday, December 30, 2011

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

St. Pio of Pietrelcina by Stephen B. Whatley

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina by Stephen B. Whatley | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

By Stephen B. Whatley

A tribute to Padre Pio (Italy 1887-1968), proclaimed Saint Pio by John Paul II in 1982; spontaneously created in the evening of his feast Day, September 23, 2011.

Deeply holy from early life, the Italian priest's deep faith was distinguished by the miraculous marking of the stigmata, his claim that he could hear the hearts of those in Confession and the miracles of healing that have been experienced through prayers to him and his intercession before Christ.

"Pray, hope, don't worry" - Padre Pio

Charcoal and pastel on paper,
16.5 x 11.5in/42 x 30cm

Our Lady of Refuge

Our Lady of Refuge by Stephen B. Whatley

By Stephen B. Whatley

On December 8th, 2011, the Catholic Church celebrated The Immaculate Conception of Mary.

Divinely chosen to bear the Son of God, Mary is the first, the Queen of Saints and prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary are carried, through Her intercession to her Son Jesus Christ.

Increasingly I have felt a deepening attachment to Mother Mary; praying the Rosary every day. The Hail Mary is the simplest but so powerful of prayers. There are many devotions to Mary and many miraculous apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary - as mother of all, calling for peace - that have been witnessed through the ages, worldwide.

Recently as I climbed the hill home, praying to Mary for the strength to carry out a portrait commission the following day ( my buildup before any painting is one of deep prayer; during my accumulation of nervous and emotional energy). I felt my heart ask how Mary would like me to interpret her - my Christian tributes are a visual extension of my prayer - and I 'heard' "Our Lady of Refuge".

I was aware of this American devotion to Mary and I knew I had to make this drawing; partly inspired by a painting by Mexican artist Joseph de Paez; from 1750.

Our Lady of Refuge is Patroness of California and parts of Mexico,. The bishop of Baja, California proclaimed Her as Patron in 1843, exclaiming, "...with so great a patroness and protectress what can we not promise ourselves? What can be wanting and whom need we fear?"

In 1981 the California Catholic Conference of Bishops petitioned the Vatican to officially observe the Feast Day of Our Lady of Refuge on July 5th; which was approved in 1982.

May there be miraculous healings, new strength and prosperity through prayers to the Mother of God, on this special day; and thereafter.

"O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you"

Charcoal on paper
16.5 x 11.5in/42 x 30cm

More on 'Our Lady of Refuge'

Holy Baby Jesus

Holy Baby Jesus by Stephen B. Whatley

By Stephen B. Whatley

Painted on Christmas Day, 2011, a new tribute to the humble birth of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, in Bethlehem, over 2000 years ago. 

Jesus' humility - and my love of birds - is symbolised by both the dove (the Holy Spirit) and the small garden bird resting on the hand of Jesus. I chose a Chickadee from North America; reflecting my affection for that land - for while Jesus was born in the Middle East; he came to bring peace to all creatures worldwide. Birds are often called 'Messengers of God'.

Jesus' love can be born in hearts, old and new; His love is eternal.

Peace at Christmas.

On December 26th, marks the Feast Day of St. Stephen, first martyr. He was stoned to death and prayed for forgiveness for his murderers. Forgiveness brings healing.

Oil on canvas
27 x 19.5in/70 x 50cm

Mary, Help of Christians

Mary, Help of Christians by Stephen B. Whatley  

Mary, Help of Christians by Stephen B. Whatley | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

By Stephen B. Whatley

Christmas Blessings .....a drawing spontaneously made earlier this month, on December 4, 2011, taking its inspiration from one of my prayer cards, Mary, Help of Christians - a Catholic devotion that dates back to the 16th century; there is even mention of this title in 345 AD. 

The drawing in charcoal and pastel evolved with deep prayer; and in praying for peace, happiness, healing & relief of those in sorrow at this time, I include the prayer that is on my prayer card.

Mary, Help of Christians

"Most Holy Virgin Mary, Help of Christians,
how sweet it is to come to your feet
imploring your perpetual help.
If earthly mothers cease not to remember their children,
how can you, the most loving of all mothers forget me?
Grant then to me, I implore you,
your perpetual help in all my necessities,
in every sorrow, and especially in all my temptations.
I ask for your unceasing help for all who are now suffering.
Help the weak, cure the sick, convert sinners.
Grant through your intercessions many vocations to the religious life.
Obtain for us, O Mary, Help of Christians,
that having invoked you on earth we may love and eternally thank you in heaven."

By St. John Bosco

Just as Christ was born 2000 years ago, I pray that His love and peace will be born in more and more hearts.
Happy Christmas!

Charcoal and pastel on paper
23.4 x 16.5in/59 x 42cm

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Arizona Student Feared to Be Brain Dead Wakes Up for Christmas

The following excerpt is from

A 21-year-old student from Ariz., who was in a coma since a car crash over two months ago, woke up hours before doctors were to take him off life support and recovered enough to spend Christmas day with his family, including his mother who prayed.

Two days before he celebrated Christmas with his family at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, University of Arizona student Sam Schmid was the subject of a news conference at the hospital. He was able to walk with support and talk in brief sentences.

“Right now, I’m feeling all right ... except for the rehabilitation, I’m feeling pretty good,” The Associated Press quoted Schmid as saying.

An Oct. 19 car crash in Tucson had left Schmid, a business major and basketball coach at a school’s recreation center, with life-threatening injuries, including a brain aneurysm. He showed no responsive signs after Dr. Robert Spetzler performed surgery. Doctors planned to switch off the life-support machine, believing Schmid was brain dead. He was even being considered, unofficially, for organ donation.
Hospital staff began to prepare Schmid’s mother Susan Regan. But Spetzler decided to wait. At the 11th hour, the patient lifted up two fingers.

“It may not seem like a lot to you,” Spetzler said. “It’s an incredible loop to show brain ability. That was like fireworks going off.” After the sign of recovery, Dr. Christina Kwasnica began to administer his rehabilitation, beginning with making him practice sitting in a chair and gradually moving on to doing rehab three hours a day.

Regan said she knew she had to make some sort of decision regarding life support at some point, but she “kept praying.”

Read more: Christmas Miracle

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Billy Rivers: A Hardened Biker Switches Gears

Billy Rivers: A Hardened Biker Switches Gears - CBN TV - Video

Excerpt from

Biker Billy Rivers rode the motorcycle gang lifestyle all the way to prison. It was there that he began to question the love he saw from Christians.

After being released from prison, Billy says, “The Lord used second Corinthians 5:17 to let me know, ‘You’re not the same anymore. I own you. You are Mine. I have you under My wings. I love you. I forgive you of everything you’ve ever done. Old things are passed away and behold, all things are become new.’ And I said, ‘Lord, that’s me.’”

Billy lives a new life today. He still rides motorcycles, but no longer with a gang. He’s the chaplain for the New Orleans chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association.

“I have never experienced anything like this and I would never give it up for anything that I would ever experience. Jesus Christ is the Way the Truth and the Life, so being a servant today for Jesus Christ is the most wealthy thing - it’s the most blessed miracle -that I could ever imagine in my life. God’s awesome.”

Read more: Billy Rivers

Monday, December 26, 2011

Our Lady's Christmas Message to Marija Pavlovic

Photo by Loci B. Lenar

December 25, 2011 Monthly Message from Our Lady of Medjugorje to Marija Pavlovic

"Dear children! Also today, in my arms I am carrying my Son Jesus to you, for Him to give you His peace. Pray, little children, and witness so that in every heart, not human but God's peace may prevail, which no one can destroy. It is that peace in the heart which God gives to those whom He loves. By your baptism you are all, in a special way called and loved, therefore witness and pray that you may be my extended hands to this world which yearns for God and peace. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government
will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Wishing all Visitors a Blessed Christmas!

May your Christmas Holiday be shared with friends and family as we gather together to celebrate the birth of Jesus. May your homes be filled with God's peace and love as we move into a new year. And, may peace reign upon our world through Our Lord's blessing.

Wishing all people of good will a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The greeting card has a stained glass window which was photographed inside Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, Verona, NJ.

Photo Copyright 2011 Loci B. Lenar

A Christmas Wonderland

A Christmas Wonderland - Photo by Loci B. Lenar

A Christmas Wonderland Video

A Christmas Wonderland | Photos

By Loci B. Lenar

If you enjoy Christmas lights, you will not be disappointed if you take a detour and drive to 4 Debbie Place in Rockaway, NJ. The beautiful display of lights has become an annual event for the Rockaway Township homeowner. Visitors from all over northern New Jersey have come to see this colorful house which is decorated as a Christmas tree. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The Immaculate Heart of Mary - Photo by Loci B. Lenar

O Immaculate Heart of Mary, Heavenly beauty and splendor of the Father, You are the most valued Heavenly treasure.

New Eve, immaculate in soul, spirit and body, Created of the godly seed by the Spirit of God, You are the spiritual Mother of mankind.

Pure Virgin, full of grace then and now, Your whole being was raised Heavenly in full glory, To be elevated above all the hosts within the Kingdom of God.

O Heavenly Mother, Queen of Heaven and earth, I recognize the glory of your highest title, The Immaculate Heart of Mary!

Loving Mother, dispenser of endless blessings, You who continuously intercedes on our behalf, Please present my need before your loving Son Jesus.

(In your own words, make your special request here. Do not just mention a word. Speak to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as you would speak to another person, begging your Heavenly Mother to plea to Jesus on your behalf, that you be granted this special request.)

O Immaculate Heart of Mary, I know that you are now presenting my need before Jesus, For you have never turned away those in dire need.

Mother dearest, I await your favorable answer, Submitting myself to the Divine will of the Lord, For all glories are His forever and ever. Amen

The above prayer can be found on Catholic websites.

The photograph of the stained glass window (detail) of the Immaculate Heart of Mary can be seen inside Our Lady of the Mount Chapel. The Catholic chapel is located on Mt. Bethel Road, Warren, New Jersey, USA.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pope Advances Sainthood Causes of Marianne Cope and Kateri Tekakwitha

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish, Sparta, NJ - Photo by Loci B. Lenar

Pope advances sainthood causes of Marianne Cope, Kateri Tekakwitha

The following excerpt is from the Catholic News Service:

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI advanced the sainthood causes of Blessed Marianne Cope of Molokai and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.

He also formally recognized the martyrdom of 64 victims of the Spanish Civil War and advanced the causes of 18 other men and women.

During a meeting Dec. 19 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, the pope signed the decrees recognizing the miracles needed for the canonizations of Blesseds Marianne and Kateri.

Before a date is set for the canonization ceremonies, there must be an "ordinary public consistory," a formal ceremony opened and closed with prayer, during which cardinals present in Rome express their support for the pope's decision to create new saints.

Blessed Marianne, who worked as a teacher and hospital administrator in New York, spent the last 30 years of her life ministering on the Hawaiian island of Molokai to those with leprosy. She died on the island in 1918 at age 80 and was beatified in St. Peter's Basilica in 2005.

Blessed Kateri, known as the Lily of the Mohawks, was born to a Christian Algonquin mother and a Mohawk father in 1656 in upstate New York along the Hudson River. She was baptized by a Jesuit missionary in 1676 when she was 20, and she died in Canada four years later. In June 1980, she became the first Native American to be beatified.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pope to canonize and name Hildegard von Bingen as Doctor of the Church

Commentary by Loci B. Lenar

Director Margarethe von Trotta has captured the spiritual journey of Hildegard von Bingen in an upfront and poignant film about the 12th-century Benedictine nun and mystic, portrayed with a powerful performance by actress Barbara Sukowa. Read my review of the film at the following link:  Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen

The following excerpt is from

Benedict XVI is set to appoint Hildegard of Bingen as a Doctor of the Church in October of 2012. She was a German Benedictine nun and was known for her visions and prophecies.

Hildegard of Bingen lived in the twelfth century. In addition to being a nun, she was a composer, philosopher, physicist and ecologist. A multi-talented woman, and a pioneer for many of these fields during the Middle Ages.

She came from a wealthy family and when she was only eight years old was sent to study in a monastery. She eventually decided to become a nun and later became an abbess.

Her visions and prophecies were recognized by the pope during that time, allowing her to speak about them publicly.

Since she has not been officially canonized, the ceremony is likely to take place before the pope names her as a Doctor of the Church in October.

Benedict XVI dedicated several of his general audiences to this German nun, saying that she “served the Church in an age in which it was wounded by the sins of priests and laity”.

Benedict XVI
September 8, 2010 

“She brought a woman’s insight to the mysteries of the faith. In her many works she contemplated the mystic marriage between God and humanity accomplished in the Incarnation, as well as the spousal union of Christ and the Church. She also explored the vital relationship between God and creation, and our human calling to give glory to God by a life of holiness and virtue.”

So far there are 33 doctors of the Church, only 3 of whom are women. During World Youth Day, Benedict XVI also announced that the Spanish San Juan de Avila would also be appointed as a Doctor of the Church.

With this appointment, the Church recognizes a person's contribution to Catholic theology, which is still felt despite the passage of time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Prayer before Communion

Holy Communion - Photo by Loci B. Lenar

Your Sacred Table

Divine Saviour,
we come to Your sacred table
to nourish ourselves,
not with bread but with Yourself,
true Bread of eternal life.
Help us daily to make a good and perfect meal
of this divine food.
Let us be continually refreshed
by the perfume of Your kindness and goodness.
May the Holy Spirit fill us with His Love.
Meanwhile, let us prepare a place
for this holy food by emptying our hearts.

By Saint Francis de Sales


The stained glass window can be seen inside Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, Verona, New Jersey, USA.

Photograph Copyright 2011 Loci B. Lenar

The Christmas video that's conquering YouTube

The Christmas video that's conquering YouTube


This Christmas story was made with children actors less than eight years old, has managed to receive hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube in just a few hours. The creators say it reflects the spirit of Christmas by reflecting what took place on 'the first December 25,' as well as showing beautiful landscapes of New Zealand.

It has been produced by an Anglican parish of Auckland in New Zealand.

Blessed Marianne Cope from state of New York is one step away from being declared a Saint

Blessed Marianne Cope from state of New York is one step away from being declared a Saint


The Diocese of Syracuse in New York announced that Marianne Cope is just one step away from being declared a saint.

In the 1860's, the Franciscan sister served in Syracuse, New York, before moving to Hawaii. On the Island, she ministered and cared for patients who suffered from leprosy.

The miracle that now paves the way for her canonization, involves a woman who was on her death bed, yet was miraculously cured through the intercession of Cope. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved the miracle after it was re-examined by a group of theologians and cardinals.

Now Benedict XVI himself, must approve the recommendation before setting a date for the canonization ceremony.

In addition to being a teacher and principal in upstate New York, Cope also helped establish St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse. Both were among the first hospitals to open in central New York. During her time in Hawaii she opened a center that cared for the children of leprosy patients.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Please Join in Prayer during Advent for God's Spiritual Blessings

St. Mary's Church Window - Photo by Loci B. Lenar
All are Welcome to Join in Prayer for God's Spiritual Blessings at St. Mary's Church on December 15th in Preparation for Christmas

Please consider visiting St. Mary's Catholic Church for Mass and prayer services.

The church holds a monthly service for prayer with Fr. Richard Tartaglia including special prayer intentions which are submitted through the website of .

Previous services have included prayer for Christian Unity. However, prayers for world peace are always included.

The prayer service is held every third Thursday of each month with a new theme.

December will focus on the joys of Advent as we prepare for Christmas. During this Holy Season, please join us in prayer on December 15th between the hour of 7:30-8:00 PM in preparation to celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day.

Photo by Loci B. Lenar

If you live in the area or plan on visiting New Jersey, please consider attending and joining in the evening prayer service with Fr. Richard Tartaglia. The service begins with singing of hymns followed with psalm prayers and then reading of the gospels. After the reading, Fr. Tartaglia gives his homily which is followed with a prayer of intercession for Special Prayer Intentions (prayer requests). The Lord's Prayer is recited and after that there is a closing prayer with a blessing given by Fr. Tartaglia. The prayer service is concluded with a closing song.

St. Mary's Catholic Church is located on 15 Myers Avenue in Denville, New Jersey. Father Martin Glynn is the head pastor of the church.

For directions to St. Mary's Church, please visit the following link:

Regardless of your religious denomination, please feel free to submit your prayer request at the following link:  Your email address will remain confidential.

St. Mary's Weekly Mass Schedule:

Sunday: 7:00, 8:30, 10:00, and 11:30 AM

Saturday: 5:00 PM

Weekdays: 8:00 AM and 12:05 PM - (Except June ~ Labor Day - No 12:05 PM)

First Fridays: 8:00 AM, 12:05 PM, 8:00 PM - (Except June ~ Labor Day - No 12:05 PM)

Holy Days: 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM, 12:00 noon, 7:00 PM

Eve of Holy Days: 5:00 PM

Monday, December 12, 2011

Memorare to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe - Photo by Loci B. Lenar

The following prayer can found on the website of the St. Michael Center for the Virgin Mary:

Memorare to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Feast Day - December 12th

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, that in thy celestial apparitions on the mount of Tepeyac, thou didst promise to show thy compassion and pity towards all who, loving and trusting thee, seek thy help and call upon thee in their necessities and afflictions. 

Thou didst promise to hearken to our supplications, to dry our tears and to give us consolation and relief. Never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, either for the common welfare, or in personal anxieties, was left unaided. 

Inspired with this confidence, we fly unto thee, O Mary, ever Virgin Mother of the True God! Though grieving under the weight of our sins, we come to prostrate ourselves in thy august presence, certain that thou wilt deign to fulfill thy merciful promises. We are full of hope that, standing beneath thy shadow and protection, nothing will trouble or afflict us, nor need we fear illness, or misfortune, or any other sorrow. 

Thou hast decided to remain with us through thy admirable image, thou who art our Mother, our health and our life. Placing ourselves beneath thy maternal gaze and having recourse to thee in all our necessities we need do nothing more. O Holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer us. (Here mention your petition.)

Five Hail Mary' gratitude for the four apparitions to Juan Diego and the one to Juan Bernardino.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Patroness of the Americas

The following story is from

When it comes to religious celebrations, the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe ranks high in Latin America, especially in Mexico. Over the years she's been given many endearing titles like “La Morenita,” the “Patroness of the Americas,” and the “Queen of Mexico.” Her feast day is December 12, a day when millions come together to honor  'Our Lady.'

Fr. Nicola Tovagliari
Assistant Professor, Regina Apostolorum

“We remember the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, in hill of Tepeyac. That's when she introduces herself as the mother of the one true God and the mother of all mankind.”

In Mexico City that very hill now holds the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Every year more than 20 million people visit the Basilica. But the story itself goes back to 1531.

During a recent forum at Regina Apostolorum, Father Tovagliari, recounted how Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared before a humble Indigenous man known as Juan Diego. The Virgin asked him for a shrine. The bishop of the area wasn't sure if Juan Diego was telling the truth. So, he asked him for a sign.

Fr. Nicola Tovagliari
Assistant Professor, Regina Apostolorum

“Our Lady manifests all her love and maternal care with Juan Diego. She tells him 'Don't be afraid. I will protect you. You are in my care, under my cloak.' It's because of this situation, these words that mankind loves Our Lady, especially Latin America.”

Even though it was winter time, when few flowers are in bloom, Our Lady told Juan Diego to go up a hill where he would find colored roses. He picked them and  placed them on his cloak. When he met with the bishop once again,  the image of “Our Lady” appeared on Juan Diego's cover.

Her image though,  was different from the rest. Her skin tone was dark and resembled that of a Mestiza, meaning a mix between Indigenous and Spanish blood. The community saw her as one of 'their own.'

Fr. Nicola Tovagliari
Assistant Professor, Regina Apostolorum

“We must remember and distinguish that Our Lady of Guadalupe isn't just an image, she is a presence. It's the presence of the Mother of God, close to all of us, her children. This is why she is venerated, as a mother who is alive and present.”

In 1990, during John Paul II trip to Mexico, he declared  Indian Juan Diego a blessed. In 2002, he became a saint.

This year, on December 12th  Benedict XVI will celebrate a Mass in honor our Lady of Guadalupe. It's here that he is expected to announce his future trips to Mexico and Cuba scheduled for 2012.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Vatican's Secret Archives to show documents of the Immaculate Conception and of St. Bernadette

The following news story is from

In February 2012, the Vatican's Secret Archives will show a 100 of its prized documents. Among them, is the original parchment that holds the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. It's titled the 'Bolla Ineffabilis Deus.' It dates back to 1854 and it's signed by Pius IX.

Also on display will be a letter St. Marie Bernadette Soubirous sent to pope Pius IX in 1876. It deals with the apparitions of the Virgin of Lourdes, which is one of the few appearances recognized by the Vatican. The letter is hand-written in French, by the very Bernadette Soubirous.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Vatican medical board confirms second miracle attributed to Mother Marianne Cope

Mother Marianne Cope - Hawaii State Archives

The following excerpt is from

The former leader of Syracuse’s Franciscan sisters is just one step from being named a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

A group of cardinals and bishops confirmed today a Vatican medical board’s finding that there is no medical explanation for a second miracle attributed to Blessed Mother Marianne Cope, known for her work with patients with leprosy in Hawaii.

With the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, Mother Marianne would become a saint, considered the church’s spiritual role models.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes for Saints confirmed the unanimous ruling of the medical board that a medical miracle occurred as the result of prayers seeking the intercession of Mother Marianne on the patient’s behalf.

The case involves the healing of a woman who was ill with a fatal health condition. The diocese has not revealed the woman’s name or other details of her case, but may later, local church officials have said.

In 2004, Vatican officials ruled that a miraculous recovery involving a 14-year-old Syracuse girl in 1993 was the result of Mother Marianne’s intercession. The girl, Kate Mahoney, nearly died from complications after cancer surgery at Crouse Hospital.

Sister Mary Laurence Hanley, a Franciscan nun, visited Mahoney in the hospital and prayed to Mother Marianne to intercede with God on her behalf. Others also prayed for her to Mother Marianne.

The Sisters of St. Francis have a shrine to Mother Marianne at their residence on Court Street in Syracuse.

Read more: Mother Marianne Cope

Our Lady of Medjugorje's Monthly Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo

Photograph by Loci B. Lenar

The Medjugorje Web - Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Medjugorje

December 2, 2011 Message from Our Lady to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo
"Dear children, as a mother I am with you so that with my love, prayer and example I may help you to become a seed of the future, a seed that will grow into a firm tree and spread it's branches throughout the world. For you to become a seed of the future, a seed of love, implore the Father to forgive you your omissions up to now. My children, only a pure heart, unburdened by sin, can open itself and only honest eyes can see the way by which I desire to lead you. When you become aware of this, you will become aware of the love of God - it will be given (as a gift) to you. Then you will give it (as a gift) to others, as a seed of love. Thank you."

For other faith related news, please visit

Monday, December 05, 2011

Who was St. Nicholas? The true story of Santa Claus

Who was St. Nicholas? The true story of Santa Claus

The following news reports is from

December 6 is the feast day of St. Nicholas of Bari, otherwise known as Santa Claus. He was bishop of the city of Myra, in present day Turkey, where he died in the fourth century. When the city was conquered by Muslims, his remains were moved to the Italian city of Bari.

When his parents died, he divided his fortune among the poor. Because of his generosity, tradition remembers him as Santa Claus, who every year would deliver gifts to everyone.

He is also the patron saint of Russia, Greece and Turkey.

In Rome, a temple was built in his honor by the year 550. There are currently over 2,000 churches in the world that carry his name.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Video contest on forgiveness offers $6000 prize to young people

The video and following news item is from

December 3, 2011 - This year's Kerygma Awards will give away $6,000 to the best video about forgiveness. The contest has two categories for advertising and short films. It's only open young people between the ages of 17 and 25. Cash prizes will also be given to second and third place of 2,000 and 1,000 dollars each.

It's being held by the NGO “Showing Christianism” and the Villanueva University in Madrid. 

Their idea was to encourage young people to come up with new ways of conveying the message of Benedict XVI. Entries can be submitted until March 12.

Last year's winners were the authors of this short Australian film called “The power of confession,” a story about the power of friendship based on real events.

The international contest receives submissions from around the world such as Israel, Chile, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.

'HEAVEN IS REAL': New York Times bestselling author Don Piper relates near-death experience

Don Piper Speaking at Church Parish - Photo by Linda Andrade Rodrigues

The photograph and following excerpt is from

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Boy who ‘saw heaven’: Details still vivid after 8 years

The news video (11-29-2011) and following excerpt is from

Colton Burpo’s account of visiting heaven when he nearly died of a burst appendix at the age of 4 is the subject of the book “Heaven Is for Real,” and an illustrated edition for children, “Heaven Is for Real for Kids.” Now aged 12, the son of Nebraska pastor Todd Burpo recounted sitting in Jesus' lap, meeting John the Baptist and his own departed great-grandfather, and having angels sing to him during his near-death experience.

Read more: Heaven is for Real

St. Andrew Novena to Obtain Favors

St Andrew
St. Andrew by Lawrence OP
Flickr Photo Sharing

St. Andrew Christmas Novena – Prayer to obtain favors (Nov 30th – Dec 25th)


It is piously believed that whoever recites the prayer below fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (November 30th) until Christmas (December 25th) will obtain what is asked:

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O My God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen

(Imprimatur: +MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York, New York, February 6, 1897.)

History of St. Andrew

Devotional Prayers

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The story of Uriel, the 'forgotten' archangel

The video and following news story is from

Michael, Raphael and Gabriel are the archangels of the Latin Catholic tradition. But according to Coptic Christians of Eritrea and the Jewish tradition, there is yet another one: archangel Uriel.

Marcello Stanzione
Angel Expert (Rome)

“The fact is that the Coptic Christians of Ethiopia and Eritrea worship archangel Uriel. Also, Anglicans. July 11 is his feast day. Uriel is an archangel, even if he's not recognized in our Catholics texts.”

According to apocryphal Gospels, Uriel helped save St. John the Baptist, from the slaughter ordered by Herod. According to another tradition, Uriel led John the Baptist, and his mother St. Elizabeth to Egypt.

This reportedly inspired Leonardo da Vinci to paint his famous piece titled “The Virgin of the Rocks.”

Priest Marcello Stanzione has collected all the documents that make reference to Uriel. He even wrote a book titled “Inchiesta su Uriele.

L'arcangelo scomparso,” meaning “An investigaion of Uriel, the lost archangel.

Marcello Stanzione
Angel Expert (Rome)

“In Rome, archangel Uriel appeared before the Sicilian priest Antonio Lo Duca and told him to build a church in the Termini area. That church is the famous church of the angels and the martyrs, located at the Exedra Plaza.”

According to Stanzione, the Sicilian priest then told pope Pius VI about the apparition. The pope then asked Michelangelo to design the church.

But despite all this, for many Catholics archangel Uriel is an unknown figure.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our Lady of Medjugorje's Monthly Message to Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti

November 25, 2011 Monthly Message to Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti

Our Lady of Medjugorje:

"Dear children! Today I desire to give you hope and joy. Everything that is around you, little children, leads you towards worldly things but I desire to lead you towards a time of grace, so that through this time you may be all the closer to my Son, that He can lead you towards His love and eternal life, for which every heart yearns. You, little children, pray and may this time for you be one of grace for your soul. Thank you for having responded to my call." 

November 02, 2011 Monthly Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo 

Our Lady of Medjugorje:

"Dear children, the Father has not left you to yourselves. Immeasurable is His love, the love that is bringing me to you, to help you to come to know Him, so that, through my Son, all of you can call Him 'Father' with the fullness of heart; that you can be one people in God's family. However, my children, do not forget that you are not in this world only for yourselves, and that I am not calling you here only for your sake. Those who follow my Son think of the brother in Christ as of their very selves and they do not know selfishness. That is why I desire that you be the light of my Son, that to all those who have not come to know the Father - to all those who wander in the darkness of sin, despair, pain and loneliness - you may illuminate the way and that, with your life, you may show them the love of God. I am with you. If you open your hearts, I will lead you. Again I am calling you: pray for your shepherds. Thank you."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Author says he felt Christ's loving embrace in near-death experience

Proof of the Afterlife - CNS Photo

CNS STORY: Author says he felt Christ's loving embrace in near-death experience

The book cover and following excerpt is from the Catholic News Service:

By Emily Lahr

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The afterlife is a common topic of discussion for a religious brother in Santa Paula, Calif., since the publication of his book, "Proof of the Afterlife -- The Conversation Continues," a book of hope, forgiveness and mercy.

"People can say, 'Oh that wasn't just a dream.' God was having a conversation with their life," said Brother Gary Joseph, a member of the Servants of the Father of Mercy, an association of vowed and lay members in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Brother Gary said he has had encounters with God and been involved in conversations with the afterlife ever since his "near-death experience" Sept. 27, 2005: At 1:15 a.m., "an out of control" heart arrhythmia caused him to collapse and his heart to stop, and he felt the overpowering presence of God.

In that state, according to his book, he was immersed in the embracing love of Christ and absorbed spiritual messages. When he was resuscitated, Brother Gary said, he awoke and noticed the clock read exactly 1:45 a.m.

"I had been like a dead man, immersed in this encounter for exactly 30 minutes," Brother Gary told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 8 telephone interview.

A priest guided him to a spiritual director who at the time was planning on doing a film on spiritual encounters. The spiritual director encouraged Brother Gary to keep a journal and eventually write a book. The manuscript was sent to Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony for theological review prior to its publication last November by the Servants of the Father of Mercy.

He believes the book can help people who have a terminal illness, referring to his mother and a cousin, who both fought cancer. "It's a perfect match for those with illness. It can give a lot of hope."

"Proof of the Afterlife -- The Conversation Continues" ($19.95, softcover) is being sold by Barnes and Noble in its stores nationwide and online. It is also available at Brother Gary said BookMasters also plans to stock the book in its national warehouse in Ashland, Ohio, promoting it to clients such as Ingram, Baker and Taylor and their retail outlet, AtlasBooks.

Read more: Proof of the Afterlife

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Praise God for His Blessings as We Celebrate Thanksgiving on November 24th

Photograph by Loci B. Lenar

Thanksgiving Prayers from the website of American

For Appreciation of Each Other

We thank you, Father, for the gift of Jesus your Son who came to our earth and lived in a simple home. We have a greater appreciation of the value and dignity of the human family because he loved and was loved within its shelter. Bless us this day; may we grow in love for each other in our family and so give thanks to you who are the maker of all human families and our abiding peace.

From The Catholic Prayer Book, compiled by Msgr. Michael Buckley

In Gratitude

Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.

From The Catholic Prayer Book, compiled by Msgr. Michael Buckley.

Thanksgiving Table Prayer

O Gracious God, we give you thanks for your overflowing generosity to us. Thank you for the blessings of the food we eat and especially for this feast today. Thank you for our home and family and friends, especially for the presence of those gathered here. Thank you for our health, our work and our play. Please send help to those who are hungry, alone, sick and suffering war and violence. Open our hearts to your love. We ask your blessing through Christ your son. Amen.

Prayer at Harvest and Thanksgiving 

O God, source and giver of all things,
You manifest your infinite majesty, power and goodness
In the earth about us:
We give you honor and glory.
For the sun and the rain,
For the manifold fruits of our fields:
For the increase of our herds and flocks,
We thank you.
For the enrichment of our souls with divine grace,
We are grateful.

Supreme Lord of the harvest,
Graciously accept us and the fruits of our toil,
In union with Jesus, your Son,
As atonement for our sins,
For the growth of your Church,
For peace and love in our homes,
And for salvation for all.
We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers, compiled by The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors

Prayer of Thanksgiving

by Walter Rauschenbusch

O God, we thank you for this earth, our home;
For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

From Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers, compiled by The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors

Thanksgiving Prayer

This Thanksgiving let those of us who have much and those who have little gather at the welcoming table of the Lord. At this blessed feast, may rich and poor alike remember that we are called to serve on another and to walk together in God's gracious world. With thankful hearts we praise our God who like a loving parent denies us no good thing.

From Songs of Our Hearts, Meditations of Our Souls: Prayers for Black Catholics, edited by Cecilia A. Moor, Ph.D., C. Vanessa White, D.Min., and Paul M. Marshall, S.M.

Vatican-trained exorcist shares true tales of his craft

Vatican-trained exorcist shares true tales of his craft | Deseret News

The following excerpt is from

By Abbott Koloff, (Morris County, N.J.) Daily Record

MADISON, N.J. — The Rev. Vincent Lampert knows Hollywood has created an image of his profession, a dark figure in a hat looking up at a window, preparing to cast out demons.

He says most exorcisms aren't as dramatic as they appear in movies, but some come close.

There was the time in Italy when a woman shook violently and Lampert said he saw her levitate above a chair.

"If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it," Lampert, 48, a Roman Catholic priest and designated exorcist for the Diocese of Indianapolis, said in a recent telephone interview. "There was nothing between her and the chair. My jaw must have been open."

When speaking to groups, Lampert, who said he's always in demand in October, typically talks about the relevancy of exorcism in modern times, and about a moral crisis of people moving away from God that he says has led to a rise of secularism and superstition. He said he's one of just 36 Vatican-trained exorcists in the U.S., a number that's tripled over the past 10 years as the Catholic Church reportedly tries to stem a movement of people seeking answers in the occult.

"People were turning elsewhere for help to figure out what's going on." Lampert said.

It's not clear how many priests perform exorcisms in the U.S., and how many are performed. Lampert said every bishop is authorized to perform the Rite of Exorcism and may bestow the authority to perform that rite on priests.

Officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson, N.J., say they have a designated exorcist, a priest who has performed at least two exorcisms over the past couple of years.

That priest's identity is kept secret from the public, said Ken Mullaney, the diocese attorney, because church officials don't want him to be inundated by exorcism requests. No exorcism is allowed to proceed without the approval of Paterson Diocese Bishop Arthur Serratelli, Mullaney said. The diocese also has another requirement implemented by Mullaney two years ago: Subjects must sign a waiver form.

He said a small portion have something going on that can't be explained by mental health professionals. He said they typically exhibit extraordinary strength, respond to Latin even though they don't know the language, and have an aversion to places and objects considered sacred, such as Holy Water.

Lampert said he prefers to be out in the open, rather than keeping his identity a secret, because that makes him more accessible. He said he receives about six calls a week from people seeking exorcism services.

Read more: Rev. Vincent Lampert

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mr. Lenar is the Founder of

Mr. Lenar

Loci B. Lenar is the founder and administrator of  Mr. Lenar also shares his personal testimony on the website regarding his own spiritual journey through the Catholic faith.

Since its inception in 2008, the homepage counter has logged over 510,000 visitors from around the world, including the USA, Canada, The United Kingdom (UK), India, Australia, Philippines, Germany, Brazil, United Arab Emirates and many others.

The website is built on the foundation of Christianity and the gospels, designed as a public ministry of faith and hope with spiritual news for the community.

With an increase number of reports related to the miraculous, the site was constructed and launched by Mr. Lenar to help spread the good news in order to create public awareness of signs and wonders arising from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Copyright 2011

Man Finds a Vine That Resembles Divine Image

Photograph by Don Taylor - Guideposts

Man Finds a Vine That Resembles Divine Image - Guideposts

The photograph and following excerpt is from

By Don Taylor

When Don Taylor looked at this vine growing up a utility pole in Littleton, Colorado, he thought it looked familiar. Although not a religious man, Don thought the vine looked a lot like Christ on the cross.

Ever since he posted the photo on Facebook, the vine has become something of a local celebrity, drawing people of faith to marvel at how a simple plant could have taken on such a unique shape—directly across from a church.

Read more: Vine Resembles Divine Image

Friday, November 18, 2011

Encounter With God

Encounter With God |

The video and following excerpt is from

By Robert Hull

Jeffrey Thompson had developed diverticulitis, a painful condition causing inflammation in the intestinal wall. Months of natural treatments had failed and his condition was so advanced, he needed surgery to remove part of his intestine. What looked like a textbook operation left him suspended between life and death.

"I woke up to a surgeon pulling a sheet off of my stomach. As I looked down I knew immediately something was terribly wrong. I looked into the surgeon’s eyes and I could see concern on his face."

Madeline says, "He had been hemorrhaging for about 24 hours, and they had continually given him blood, but it was hemorrhaging into his abdomen. It was frightening. I’ve never seen anyone so pale. His lips were just completely white."

Jeffrey continues, "My internal clock told me that I was getting ready to die, that I only had a few seconds of consciousness left. I reached up to grab my wife. I just wanted to tell her how much I loved her and tell her that I was getting ready to leave her."

"I went to him and it was right after that that I lost him," Madeline says. "I could tell he left. He took my hand and then he was gone."

"My life came to my center torso," Jeff says. "I began to rise out of my body into that room. Everything was going haywire down below me. They were grabbing. They were saying, 'I’m going to lose him.'"

"They were doing everything they knew to keep him alive at that point," Madeline says.

"It looked like a disaster going on, but it was the sweetest day of my life," Jeffrey says. "I never had any pain, and I never had any fear."

As Jeffrey’s spirit hovered above his body, a light appeared in the room.

"It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. It started in the center toward the ceiling and began to filter out into that room. I was immediately drawn to it. As it began to hit objects in that room, color came flooding out like I’ve never seen before. I could see everything in that room with perfect clarity. There was an entire dimension that we simply don’t see on earth. I’ve never been more alive than I was at that moment. It was incredible.

"I suddenly had an overwhelming sense of God’s presence, of His love of His peace, of His joy. It was all around me and in me. Literally every bit of this penetrated my soul. The thing that was just so incredible to me was how the maker of this universe, who can make the sun the moon, the stars and this earth and us, can come down and hold me and comfort me and love me as if I’m the only person in the universe. I remember thinking about the prodigal son, that long lost son who had gone out and strayed. He had come back home and his father was coming out to hold him, to love him and to welcome him back. That’s what was happening to me. It’s the sweetest love there is.

"I told Him I wanted to go with Him and then I had a fleeting thought, what about Madeline my wife, and what about Will? Then God told me internally I was going to go back. I remember jolting in my bed, and I remember opening my eyes. When I opened my eyes, I’m looking at the surgeon and he’s saying, ‘I’m losing him. We’ve got to get him back into surgery.’"

He was rushed back into surgery where doctors stopped the bleeding. When he finally regained consciousness, Jeffrey had a new understanding of God’s amazing love and presence in his life.

"God loves you more than you’ve ever known," he says. "He knows your circumstances. He knows what you’re going through. I used to wake up with a knot in my stomach. I wake up with joy in my heart. I know He’s with me. You can’t go through something like that and not be a changed man."

Read more: Encounter with God

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Join in Prayer with St. Mary's Church on November 17 for God's Spiritual Blessings

Give Thanks to God
Photo by Loci B. Lenar

By Loci B. Lenar

Please join us in the monthly prayer service being held on November 17 with Fr. Richard Tartaglia at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Myers Avenue, Denville, NJ. If you cannot attend, you can still participate by praying in unity with us for all special prayer intentions submitted through  Thursday's evening prayer service is held between the hour of 7:30 PM and 8:00 PM (EST).

This service is also a great time to give thanks to God for blessings received through prayer. May Our Lord Jesus answer your prayers with divine favor.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

St Francis of Assisi - New Drawing by Stephen B. Whatley

St. Francis of Assisi by Stephen B. Whatley

St Francis of Assisi - New 2011 Drawing by Stephen B. Whatley -

By Stephen B. Whatley

Francis of Assisi (1282-1226) was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. His faith became paramount over anything worldy and he is perhaps most known for his love of nature - feeling that all God's creations were part of his brotherhood; the humble sparrow as much his brother as the Pope.

I felt inspired to pay tribute through this spontaneous drawing, to this great Saint on his Feast Day, October 4th; looking intially at a small prayer card and studies of North American birds made on location at a nature reserve in New York State in February 2010.

Charcoal on paper
23.4 x 16.5in / 59 x 42cm


Prayer of St Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Future Saint? Book on 100 alleged miracles of Alfonso Maria Fusco to be published

Future Saint? Book on 100 alleged miracles of Alfonso Maria Fusco to be published

The following news excerpt is from

Ten years after his beatification an Italian blessed is getting closer to becoming a saint. Alfonso Maria Fusco founded the Congregation of the Sisters of San Giovanni Battista.

Over the years, the sisters from that congregation have collected information on roughly 100 alleged miracles of the Blessed Italian. The writings will be made into a book in the future.

It will include the alleged healing of a child who suffered from malaria in Zambia. Even though the boy's mother wasn't Catholic, she asked a nun to pray for her son.

The book will include other possible miracles that range from physical healings to overcoming moral difficulties.

Blessed Fusco was born in 1839 in Angri, which is located in southern Italy. At the age of 11 he decided to be a priest to help others. Once he was ordained his first assignment was to help underprivileged children from his hometown.

The priest was known for walking along the streets of his town, looking for the poor and offering them help. He would offer them food and education. From this mission, the Congregation of St. John the Baptist was born.

Read more: Alfonso Maria Fusco

Friday, November 11, 2011

Teenage Martyr could become the Philippine's Second Saint

Teenage martyr could become the Philippine's second saint

The following excerpt is from

According to Filipino bishops, the Vatican has officially attributed a miracle to a blessed Filipino martyr named Pedro Calungsod. Now, this miracle paves the way for his canonization.

The 17 year old Filipino was beatified back in the year 2000 by Pope John Paul II. The miracle deals with a woman who was declared brain dead, but was inexplicably cured just a few hours later.

The young blessed was born in Cebu, Philippines back in 1654. He died along with Spanish missionary Diego Luis de San Vitores, while they evangelized to natives. In fact, the first time people learned about the work of the teenager, was through the memoirs of Spanish priest San Vitores.

The Philippines was very proud to learn about the faithful teenager, especially his hometown of Cebu, where Calungsod has a sanctuary and has been declared a patron of the youth.

Mhar Vincent Balili
Archdiocese of Cebu (Philippines)

“Hopefully the canonization of blessed Pedro Calungsod will tell that the youth is not only a recipient of the Gospel but they too can be the givers of the Word of God. And now, for the coming of the canonization of the blessed Pedro Calungsod, we can say that now we can really have a countryman, in our dialect we call a 'tagilungsod,' whom we can call also for our prayers and intercession”.

Now the next step is for Benedict XVI to actually ratify the miracle. The pope could make an announcement in the coming weeks. If that's the case, the blessed teenager would eventually become the Philippine's second saint. The first one is San Lorenzo Ruiz, who was canonized in Rome in the year 1988.