On This First Friday

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Home Again

I was in Tulsa, Oklahoma for two days, and returned this morning, abundantly blessed and full of thanksgiving. No sooner was I in the door than I was asked to go to the bedside of a dying man to reconcile him to the Father of Mercies. I recommend this man and his family to your prayers.

The Little Boy and the Old Man

Today, apart from being the First Friday of the month, is the dies natalis of two souls enamoured of the Rosary and of the Most Holy Eucharist: one, an eleven year old boy Blessed Francisco Martos of Fatima (1908-1919); and the other, an eighty-four year old priest, Saint Gaetano Catanoso (1879-1963). The liturgical memorial of Blessed Francisco is celebrated together with that of his sister, Blessed Jacinta, on February 20th, and that of Saint Gaetano Catanoso on September 20th, the anniversary day of his ordination to the priesthood.

Adoration and Reparation

After the apparitions of the Angel, followed by those of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, little Francisco was drawn, above all, to "console the Hidden Jesus." Having been told by the Mother of God that he needed to pray many rosaries, he used every opportunity to do so. He loved to pray before the tabernacle in his parish church, repeating the prayer of adoration and reparation that the Angel had taught him, his sister Jacinta, and his cousin Lucia:

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love Thee.
I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, and do not love Thee.

The Prayer of Children

The Angel taught the children to pray with their bodies by bowing down low, their foreheads touching the ground. This heavenly pedagogy of prayer was perfectly adapted to the capacity and the need of little children to converse with God using the repetition of a few words, and gestures engaging their senses. Children love to kneel, prostrate, bow, genuflect, make the sign of the cross, kiss holy images, and . . . above all . . . light candles.

An Adorer of the Eucharistic Face of Christ

Saint Gaetano Catanoso, a Calabrian parish priest, deserves to be better known. I have already written about him on Vultus Christi. Saint Gaetano often said, "Il Volto Santo è la mia vita — The Holy Face is my life." He preached the mystery of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, saying: "If we wish to adore the real Face of Jesus . . . we can find it in the divine Eucharist, where with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Face of Our Lord is hidden under the white veil of the Host." Pope Benedict XVI canonized Saint Gaetano on October 23, 2005.

A Model for Priests

Saint Gaetano is a radiant model of priestly holiness. You can listen to a recording of the saint's voice, made on his 80th birthday, here. Until now there has been little about him available in English. That is about to change. An American relative of the saint, journalist Justin Catanoso of Greensboro, North Carolina, has written a book entitled, "My Cousin the Saint, A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles." The book, edited by William Morrow, will be released on May 20, 2008. You can also listen to Justin Catanoso talk about "his cousin, the saint" in a very moving NPR interview from 2005.

1 Comments

Dear Father, thank you so much for your inspiring blog, drawn to my attention recently by a good friend, Mgr Arthur Calkins. I am particularly pleased to learn about the wonderful Saint Gaetano Catanoso who was completely unknown to me - what an inspiration and encouragement to us priests to persevere in our own quest for holiness.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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