Category: Trending

What You Should Know About the Immaculate Heart of Mary

What You Should Know About the Immaculate Heart of Mary

One of the most common Marian devotions in the Catholic Church today is that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, mostly honored alongside the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This devotion has its roots in the Scripture, which makes frequent mention of Mary’s contemplative heart, for example in Luke 2:19:

“But Mary exalted all these words and thought about them in her heart.”

According to Catholic doctrine, Mary is the Immaculate Conception; that is, in the getting ready for the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity in her womb, Mary was conceived without the corruption of original sin, and was preserved from committing any actual sins throughout the course of her life through the infinite merits of her Son, Jesus Christ. She was virginal not only of the soul, but also of the body, both before and after giving birth to Our Lord.

Our Lady was created literally “Full of Grace” as the Archangel Gabriel declared at the Annunciation, meaning that her soul was literally adorned with all of the virtues at the moment of her conception, as well as all the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.

This fullness of grace is said to stem out from the center of her being—her heart—understood both physically and spiritually. It is Mary’s heart, in its unspoiled created perfection, that is the source and wellspring of her purity . . . therefore her heart is called Immaculate.

Our Lord took His sacred humanity from the flesh and blood of his Blessed Mother; Christ’s heart is taken from her heart. At Calvary, the perfect hearts of Jesus and Mary were joined for the salvation of mankind. And this is why the Two Hearts are exalted together.

While the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the source of Christ’s burning love for humanity, and is largely spurned by the indifference of mankind towards Him, the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the source of Our Lady’s burning love for God and her wish to bring souls to her Son, and is so often outraged by the offenses of mankind committed against her love.

Over the centuries, as the saints and theologians reflected on what it means for Our Lady to have pondered and treasured the sacred events from the life of Jesus in her heart, as attested in Scripture, Mary’s heart began to be recognized as something to be emulated in daily routine.

Devotion to Mary’s holy heart then developed, in much the same way as it did for the Sacred Heart, which was physically pierced by the lance on the Cross to give Eternal Life to men. So also does Mary’s heart, which was also pierced (as prophesied by Simeon) in union with her Son, give life—that is, grace—to the Christian soul.

Beginning in the Middle Ages, this devotion to Our Lady’s purity of heart began to flower, culminating in St. John Eudes actively making known the devotion in the 17th century alongside that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He also worked to have a feast established for the Immaculate Heart of Mary, starting in his native France.

After the 1830 apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Paris, which gave rise to the Miraculous Medal, efforts were renewed to have a devotion to the Immaculate Heart instituted as a feast for the universal Church. In this Marian apparition, Our Lady showed St. Catherine Laboure an image of a medal to be struck which would obtain many graces for those who wore it faithfully, mostly the grace of conversion for sinners.

On the front of the medal was an image of Our Lady encircled with the words, O Mary, Conceived Without Sin, Pray for Us Who Have Recourse to Thee, confirming the dogma of her Immaculate Conception. One the reverse was an image of the Cross of Christ surmounted by the letter “M”, and below it, the symbols of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary side-by-side, thus confirming the devotion to her holy heart.

The spreading popularity of the Miraculous Medal soon gave rise to a Marian confraternity based on her Immaculate Heart and her authority to convert sinners. The Notre-Dame-des-Victoires of the Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Sinners was established in Paris in 1836 and quickly spread all over the world, with many graces, especially the repentance of sinners, obtained as a result. Then, in 1855, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (or Most Pure Heart of Mary) was confirmed by the Vatican, however, without establishing it for the universal Church.

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary rose to a new level after the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. In her visitations to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco, Our Lady revealed a vision of her Immaculate Heart encircled with thorns which showed the many sins committed against her. At Fatima, Our Lady asked for Russia to be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart in order to prevent many problems from occurring in the Church and throughout the world.

Lucia describes the vision:

“As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands and for the second time, she communicated to us the rays of that same immense light. We saw ourselves in this light, as it were, immersed in God. … In front of the palm of Our Lady’s right hand was a heart encircled by thorns which pierced it. We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, and searching reparation.”

At Fatima, Our Lady also revealed her request for the faithful to make Communions of Reparation to her Immaculate Heart on five consecutive first Saturdays of the month. Therefore devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely related with acts of reparation for sins in order to get the salvation of sinners. When Sr. Lucia later inquired from Our Lord why he would not convert Russia without having it consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Lord said,

”Because I want My whole Church to affirm that Consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that it may extend its cult later on, and put the Devotion to My Mother’s Immaculate Heart beside the Devotion to My Sacred Heart.”

After the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was instituted for the universal Church by Pope Pius XII in 1944. The feast was first celebrated on August 22nd, the octave day of the Solemnity of the Assumption. It was later changed to the Saturday adhering the feast of the Sacred Heart so that the Two Hearts would appear side-by-side, Friday and Saturday, on the liturgical calendar. August 22nd was then made the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, connecting the Assumption to her reign in heaven (the 4th and 5th Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary).

Traditionally, the Church admonishes special devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during the entire month of August.

Today, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary remains on the level of a memorial. Hopefully, as the requests of Our Lady of Fatima are more widely heeded, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will enjoy a reserved place in the heart of each and every Catholic around the world.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos Donates $15 million to Catholic Charities

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos Donates $15 million to Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami, and Catholic Community Services of Western Washington were three of the 24 organizations selected to receive grants by the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund.

A total of $97.5 million was distributed amongst the selected organizations, with the grants awarded at either the $5 million or $2.5 million levels.

The Amazon founder and CEO launched the Bezos Day 1 Fund in September. It operates two separate funding streams: the Families Fund which distributes grants to nonprofits combating homelessness, and the Academies Fund which seeks to create a network of preschools in low-income areas.

On the fund website, Bezos explains that the goal of the awards was to “shine a light and support the organizations that are doing compassionate, needle-moving work to provide shelter for young families in communities across the country.”

The selected organizations, Bezos explained, “are working on a number of initiatives that support families in need,” including the administration of homeless shelters and assistance with finding permanent housing.

“We hope these grants provide the additional resources these leaders and their organizations need to expand the scope and impact of their efforts.”

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami issued a statement expressing their gratitude to have been one of the organizations selected. The money will be used by Catholic Charities to assist the homeless in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe counties.

“We are grateful to Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos for their generous and timely Day 1 Family Fund grant that allows Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami to be at the forefront of providing social services to children and families experiencing homelessness in the tri-county area of South Florida,” said Peter Routsis-Arroyo, CEO of Catholic Charities.

This grant will allow Catholic Charities to help even more children and families out of poverty, explained Routsis-Arroyo. He said that their selection “demonstrates Catholic Charities’ continued commitment and history of service to those in need.”

Catholic Community Services of Western Washington expressed a similar sentiment. Agency Director Denny Hunthausen told Northwest Catholic that the grant is “an encouraging sign that together, we are committed to addressing this challenge” of ending homelessness in their area.

“The grant will have a considerable impact on family homelessness in Pierce County,” said Hunthausen. Over the next four years, Catholic Community Services is expected to help more than 3,600 families experiencing homelessness with the money from the grant.

Catholic Community Services of Western Washington operates a network of shelters, including day shelters and overnight shelters. Currently, they are not able to assist every family in need but are hoping the grant will allow them to open up an expanded day centre. They are also looking to create a mobile unit to help assist homeless families.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, in a published statement on their website, also expressed gratitude at their selection. The money “will help us meet the needs of so many families experiencing homelessness in our community,” said Sister Marjorie Hebert, president and CEO of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans.

There are currently hundreds of people in New Orleans who are in need of a place to live, explained Hebert, and her organization is “committed to serving those in need.”

“This grant will be critical in helping us continue to provide a comprehensive network of social services that connect our clients to resources and acts as a springboard to self-sufficiency.”

The Most Unbelievable Miracles of St. Padre Pio

The Most Unbelievable Miracles of St. Padre Pio

There are many miracles attributed to Padre Pio: miracles of healing, of conversion, of bilocation, and the stigmata. His miracles brought many people to Christ and illuminated God’s goodness and love for us. While Padre Pio is responsible for a countless number of miracles, it only takes looking at a few to realize his holiness.

Padre Pio’s Stigmata

For fifty years Padre Pio bore the stigmata. The Franciscan priest bore the same wounds as Christ did in his hands, feet, and side. From 1918 until just before his death in 1968, he experienced the stigmata. Despite being examined multiple times, there was no adequate explanation for the wounds. “The stigmata were not like normal wounds or lesions: they would not heal. This was not due to any medical condition, for he had undergone surgery twice (once for a hernia repair and once to remove a cyst from his neck) and the cuts healed with the usual scarring. In the 1950s, blood was drawn for other medical reasons, and his blood work was entirely normal. The only abnormal thing about his blood was the fragrant aroma, which accompanied that emanating from his stigmata.”

Padre Pio’s Healings

In 1919 in San Giovanni Rotondo, a fourteen-year-old boy experienced a miraculous healing. When he was only four years old he had caught typhus. The typhus caused the boy’s back to become deformed. Once he confessed himself to Padre Pio, the priest touched him with his hands. When the boy stood up, the deformity in his back had disappeared.

Also in 1919 a gentleman from Foggia, Italy came to Padre Pio. The gentleman was sixty-two-years-old and was walking with not one, but two canes. He suffered a terrible fall from a carriage, a fall that broke both his legs. With doctors unable to help him he relied on those two canes for support. One day after confessing himself to Padre Pio, the friar told him: “Stand up and go away! You have to throw away these canes.” The man carried out the order and began to walk by himself.

There was a gentleman whose left knee was swollen and in great pain for many days. The doctor told him the situation was very dire and prescribed to him a lengthy series of injections. Prior to beginning the treatment, the man went to confession to Padre Pio. He asked Padre Pio to pray for him. The man recounted, “When I was leaving San Giovanni Rotondo that afternoon, the pain disappeared. I observed my knee and noted it was not swollen anymore! Both my legs were now normal. So I immediately ran to Padre Pio in order to thank him. He said: ‘You do not have to thank me, but you have to thank God!’”

In 1950, a man’s mother-in-law was taken to a hospital for an operation. The mother-in-law had breast cancer. After the initial operation, it was necessary to operate on the right breast some months later. Unfortunately, due to the dissemination of the cancer cells in her body, the doctors informed her that she would not live more than four months. The man immediately went to Rotondo and waited for confession with Padre Pio. He asked Padre Pio to help his my wife’s mother and heal her. The man recounted, “Padre Pio sighed long twice and said: ‘We have to pray, everybody has to pray. She will recover!’ It happened! In fact, my mother-in-law recovered after her operation and she went by herself to San Giovanni Rotondo to thank Padre Pio who smiling told her: ‘Go in peace, my daughter! Go in peace!’” Instead of four months, his mother-in-law lived for nineteen more years.

A woman said, “In 1947 I was thirty-eight years old and I had been suffering cancer of the intestine. The cancer was found by x-ray, and it was decided to operate. Before going to the hospital I wanted to visit San Giovanni Rotondo to meet Padre Pio. My husband, my daughter and one of her friends, took me to him. I desired to confess my sins to Padre Pio and to speak with him concerning my disease, but it was not possible to meet him. My husband told my problem to one of the friars.

That friar was moved and he promised to report all to Padre Pio. In a short time, I was asked to go into the corridor of the convent where Padre Pio would pass. Padre Pio walked through the crowd, but he was interested only in me. He asked me the reason for which I was so distraught and told me I was correct about the surgeon. After that, he encouraged me and he said he’d pray to God for me. I was amazed. In fact, he did not know the surgeon who was going to perform the operation, and nobody told him that I was the right person to speak to in the crowd.

Yet, he appeared to know both the surgeon and me. I faced my operation with hope and with peace. The surgeon was the first one who spoke of a miracle. He performed an appendectomy despite previous x-rays that showed cancer. The surgeon did not believe in God, but since then he has put a crucifix in each room of the hospital. There was no evidence of cancer anymore. After this miracle and a short time of rest I returned to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to meet with Padre Pio. The saintly friar was going to the sacristy when he suddenly stopped and smiled at me – he said: ‘What do you know? You have come back here!’…and he gave me his hand to kiss, which I affectionately held in my hands.”

One of Padre Pio’s miracles occurred in 1953, to a lady with abdomen problems. She had a medical check-up and x-rays because of pains in the abdomen she was experiencing. After some investigation, she learned that an immediate operation was necessary. A friend of the lady, who knew of her problem, suggested to her: “write a letter to Padre Pio in order to ask for his prayers and help”. The woman received an answer in which Padre Pio suggested that she go to the hospital—he would pray for her there. She went to the hospital and again had a medical check-up and x-rays just before the operation. The same doctors were astonished to find she no longer had the serious illness anymore. After forty years the woman is still grateful to Padre Pio for his help.

A year later, in 1954, a railwayman fell ill with a strange disease, which immobilized his legs. At the time he was forty-seven-years-old. Without success many different doctors treated him. After two years of treatment, the man was going to have to retire from his work. As the situation got worse, his brother suggested to him to travel to San Giovanni Rotondo, to see the friar there to whom God had given gifts.

The man went to San Giovanni Rotondo with his brother’s assistance. In the Church, he met with Padre Pio who said, “Let that railway-man pass!” Remarkably, Padre Pio had never met the man before and he knew he was a railwayman. Padre Pio and the man spoke to each other for a few minutes. Later, Padre Pio put his hand on the man’s shoulder. He consoled and encouraged him with a smile. As soon as the man left Padre Pio, he realized he had been healed. He no longer needed tools to help him walk; now he could walk on his own.

Padre Pio crying while saying the Mass

A priest brought his friend, a Jewish man named Lello Pegna, to visit Padre Pio in 1919. Pegna was completely blind in both eyes. The priest had brought him to Padre Pio in the hopes of his friend being cured. Padre Pio told Pegna, “The Lord will not grant you the grace of physical sight unless you first receive sight for your soul. After you are baptized, then the Lord will give you your sight.” A few months later Pegna returned baptized despite the protests of his family. In the following months his sight was fully restored. For the next thirty years, his sight remained perfect.

Gemma di Giorgio was a little girl when she visited Padre Pio. She was born blind without pupils in either eye. Right after her visit with Padre Pio, she miraculously gained her sight back. One truly miraculous factor about her healing was that while now she could see, she still did not have any pupils.

St. Padre Pio’s faith and confidence in God’s healing power was unparalleled. He shows us all that the power of prayer can yield beautiful, miraculous results. He was a conduit of God’s grace, love, and mercy.


8 Easy Steps to Avoid Converting to Catholicism

8 Easy Steps to Avoid Converting to Catholicism

Image result for Home sweet home of the catholic conversion story

Conversion story by Albert Little –

As a Protestant convert to Catholicism whose journey culminated at the Easter Vigil earlier this year, I have some
experience, oddly enough, in how to become a Catholic. For me, it was a particular, miraculous journey that I’ve
been writing about for a few months now. For me, I can trace certain lines—a certain narrative—through nearly a decade’s long journey. In my own journey, I can check off certain boxes and say, definitively, yes, that made me become a Catholic.

So, naturally, I wanted to help others to avoid a similar fate.

For me, it’s too late, but there’s hope for you. If you can, with the help of our Lord and your closest friends and family, avoid these certain pitfalls, while I can’t promise, I can assure you that you’ll have a much easier time avoiding the trap that I fell into.

Friends, I offer some unsolicited advice: here’s how to not become a Catholic.

1) Don’t Read Scott Hahn

One of the first mistakes I made as a Protestant was to read Scott Hahn.

Do not read Rome Sweet Home.

2) Don’t Read Church History

A second, major mistake that I made was to read Church history—the history of Christianity

Do not read The Reformation by Diarmaid MacCulloch.

3) Don’t Read the Early Church Fathers

A third mistake that I made was nearly fatal: I began to read the Early Church Fathers.

4) Don’t Meet Any Great Catholics

The next mistake you might make is to meet some great Catholics. Don’t do it

5) Don’t Start Living Like a Catholic

But, if you’ve already met devout Catholics there’s still hope, even at this late point in the journey I can offer this solid piece of advice.

Don’t start living like a Catholic.

6) Don’t Give God an Inch

But maybe there’s still hope, maybe the slope is not yet too slippery.

7) Don’t Pray

Also, whatever you do, don’t pray.

8) Don’t Let Your Faith Be Challenged

Finally, friends, if you’ve come this far I’m not sure what else we can muster up but I’ll surely try.


We must dig in, friends, and dig in deep. We must read all the authors we’ve always read. Visit all the websites we’ve always visited. Spend time in conversation with friends who only agree with our points of view and refuse, at all costs, to challenge the faith we’ve always known.

We haven’t grown complacent—no way!—we’ve grown confident in our faith. We know what we believe! We’re not scared to think about the Bible, the Sacraments, or the Christian Church in a new way. Nothing scares us, we’re simply too busy or too happy with the way things are right now. We won’t be challenged because we don’t need to be.

After all, Jesus taught that change is bad, complacency is good, and we can get to Heaven by doing what we’ve always done.

Right, Pharisees?

Although, if you’ve come this far, and all else fails, maybe you should just become a Catholic. I know I am.