St. Bakhita, to follow after Jesus the Crucified Lord with unremitting love… In Conversation with Sr. Joan Mueller

Sr.-Joan-Mueller

One of my very favorite storytellers is Sr. Joan Mueller…give yourself the gift of hearing her share the story of St. Bakhita during this podcast…

St.-JosephineJOSEPHINE BAKHITA (1869-1947)

from vatican.va

Mother Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan in 1869 and died in Schio (Vicenza)  in 1947.

This African flower, who knew the anguish of kidnapping and slavery, bloomed marvelously in Italy, in response to God’s grace, with the Daughters of Charity.

Mother “Moretta”

In Schio (Vicenza), where she spent many years of her life, everyone still calls her “our Black Mother”. The process for the cause of Canonization began 12 years after her death and on December 1st, 1978 the Church proclaimed the Decree of the heroic practice of all virtues.
Divine Providence which “cares for the flowers of the fields and the birds of the air”, guided the Sudanese slave through innumerable and unspeakable sufferings to human freedom and to the freedom of faith and finally to the consecration of her whole life to God for the coming of his Kingdom.

In Slavery

Bakhita was not the name she received from her parents at birth. The fright and the terrible experiences she went through made her forget the name she was given by her parents. Bakhita, which means “fortunate”, was the name given to her by her kidnappers.
Sold and resold in the markets of El Obeid and of Khartoum, she experienced the humiliations and sufferings of slavery, both physical and moral.

Towards freedom

In the Capital of Sudan, Bakhita was bought by an Italian Consul, Callisto Legnani . For the first time since the day she was kidnappeSt.-Josepnine-2d, she realized with pleasant surprise, that no one used the lash when giving her orders; instead, she was treated in a loving and cordial way. In the Consul’s residence, Bakhita experienced peace, warmth and moments of joy, even though veiled by nostalgia for her own family, whom, perhaps, she had lost forever.
Political situations forced the Consul to leave for Italy. Bakhita asked and obtained permission to go with him and with a friend of his, a certain Mr. Augusto Michieli.

In Italy

On arrival in Genoa, Mr. Legnani, pressured by the request of Mr. Michieli’s wife, consented to leave Bakhita with them. She followed the new “family”, which settled in Zianigo (near Mirano Veneto). When their daughter Mimmina was born, Bakhita became her babysitter and friend.
The acquisition and management of a big hotel in Suakin, on the Red Sea, forced Mrs. Michieli to move to Suakin to help her husband. Meanwhile, on the advice of their administrator, Illuminato Checchini, Mimmina and Bakhita were entrusted to the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of the Catechumens in Venice. It was there that Bakhita came to know about God whom “she had experienced in her heart without knowing who He was” ever since she was a child. “Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself: Who could be the Master of these beautiful things? And I felt a great desire to see him, to know Him and to pay Him homage…”

Daughter of God

After several months in the catechumenate, Bakhita received the sacraments of Christian initiation and was given the new name, Josephine. It was January 9, 1890. She did not know how to express her joy that day. Her big and expressive eyes sparkled, revealing deep emotions. From then on, she was often seen kissing the baptismal font and saying: “Here, I became a daughter of God!”
With each new day, she became more aware of who this God was, whom she now knew and loved, who had led her to Him through mysterious ways, holding her by the hand.When Mrs. Michieli returned from Africa to take back her daughter and Bakhita, the latter, with unusual firmness and courage, expressed her desire to remain with the Canossian Sisters and to serve that God who had shown her so many proofs of His love.
The young African, who by then had come of age, enjoyed the freedom of choice which the Italian law ensured.

St.-Josepnine-PrayingDaughter of St. Magdalene

Bakhita remained in the catechumenate where she experienced the call to be a religious, and to give herself to the Lord in the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa.
On December 8, 1896 Josephine Bakhita was consecrated forever to God whom she called with the sweet expression “the Master!”
For another 50 years, this humble Daughter of Charity, a true witness of the love of God, lived in the community in Schio, engaged in various services: cooking, sewing, embroidery and attending to the door.
When she was on duty at the door, she would gently lay her hands on the heads of the children who daily attended the Canossian schools and caress them. Her amiable voice, which had the inflection and rhythm of the music of her country, was pleasing to the little ones, comforting to the poor and suffering and encouraging for those who knocked at the door of the Institute.

Witness of love

Her humility, her simplicity and her constant smile won the hearts of all the citizens. Her sisters in the community esteemed her for her inalterable sweet nature, her exquisite goodness and her deep desire to make the Lord known.
“Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. What a great grace it is to know God!”As she grew older she experienced long, painful years of sickness.
Mother Bakhita continued to witness to faith, goodness and Christian hope. To those who visited her and asked how she was, she would respond with a smile: “As the Master desires.”

Final test

During her agony, she re-lived the terrible days of her slavery and more then once she begged the nurse who assisted her: “Please, loosen the chains… they are heavy!”
It was Mary Most Holy who freed her from all pain. Her last words were: “Our Lady! Our Lady!”, and her final smile testified to her encounter with the Mother of the Lord.
Mother Bakhita breathed her last on February 8, 1947 at the Canossian Convent, Schio, surrounded by the Sisters. A crowd quickly gathered at the Convent to have a last look at their «Mother Moretta» and to ask for her protection from heaven.  The fame of her sanctity has spread to all the continents and many are those who receive graces through her intercession.St.-Josephine-Bakhita-3

 

Every line of the Collect for Saint Bakhita merits attention; every phrase needs to be repeated in meditation.

O God, who led Saint Josephine Bakhita
from abject slavery
to the dignity of being your daughter and the bride of Christ,
give us, we beseech you, by her example,
to follow after Jesus the Crucified Lord with unremitting love
and, in charity, to persevere in a ready mercy.

IP#295 Dr. Peter Kreeft – How to be Holy on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

Peter KreeftOnce again a spiritual classic has been given to us from the prolific Catholic philosopher Dr. Peter Kreeft!.  “How to be Holy: First Steps in Becoming a Saint” derives it’s direction from the incredible “Abandonment to Divine Providence” by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J.  and it’s simple message that God reveals himself through the daily events of our lives.  How we respond is the key to faith and our opportunity to grow in holiness.  Do you place your trust the Father’s will?  Can you respond in love?  Do you truly believe Romans 8:28 “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (RSV)?  To be holy, we must take the first step…Dr. Kreeft shows us the way.  Outstanding!

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You can find the book here

From the book description:

The ever-popular and prolific Peter Kreeft says that the most important question he has written about is how one becomes holy; or to put it another way, how one becomes a saint. This question is central to all the great religions, Kreeft demonstrates, for striving toward holiness, moving toward perfect love, is the whole purpose of life.

Kreeft admits that he is only a beginner on the climb to holiness, and it is to novices like him that he has written this engaging and encouraging book. Using the insights and experiences of saints and great spiritual writers throughout history, Kreeft shows what holiness is and how it can be achieved.

IP#136 Vivian Dudro – Gertrude von le Forte’s “The Song at the Scaffold” on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

IP#281 Vivian Dudro - Meriol Trevor's "Shadows and Images" on Inside the Pages 1
Vivian Dudro

“The Song at the Scaffold” by Gertrude von le Forte’s is one of the finest novellas ever written!   Vivian Dudro, writer and editor at Ignatius Press engages in a wonderful conversation about the work of German author Gertrude von le Forte who was a writer of novels, poems, and essays.  A convert to Catholicism in 1926, most of von le Forte’s work came after her conversion. In 1952 she won the Gottfried-Keller Prize, an esteemed Swiss literary award.

Set during the French Revolution, this classic novella is based on the true story of the Carmelite nuns of Compiègne, who offered their lives for the preservation of the Church in France. The Song at the Scaffold was the original inspiration for the opera Dialogues of the Carmelites written by Francis Poulenc, which premiered in 1957. The opera was based on a libretto with this same title written by Georges Bernanos.

Gertrude von le Forte
Gertrude von le Forte

As Vivian points out in our discussion, von le Forte’s work is as relevant today as it was in the last century. In the course of our conversation, we discuss the influence of the Carmelite tradition and it’s influence on Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) and Bl. John Paul II, as well the role of redemptive suffering in the life of the Christian.

A novella in it’s truest sense, this book contains as much meaning as any tome made up 10x the pages.  A NOT TO BE MISSED READ.

You can find it at Ignatius.com

One of the great Christian classics of all time. —Michael O’Brien, Author, Father Elijah

A poignant reminder that, for the Christian, fearlessness lies on the far side of Gethsemane and the Cross. —George Weigel, Author, Witness to Hope

IP#150 Vivian Dudro – Jose Luis Olaizola’s “Fire of Love” on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

IP#281 Vivian Dudro - Meriol Trevor's "Shadows and Images" on Inside the Pages 1
Vivian Dudro

What a delight to be joined once again by Vivian Dudro to discuss the work of Spanish novelist Jose Luis Olaizola and his book “Fire of Love: A Historical Novel on the Life St. John of the Cross”!  Olaizola is an award-winning Spanish writer, who is known for his acclaimed works on great historical figures such as El Cid, Hernan Cortes, Bartolome de las Casas, and Patricio Escobar.  In this book, he richly offers the life of the great Spanish mystical doctor of the Church, St. John of the Cross.

Jose Luis Olaizola
Jose Luis Olaizola

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You can find the book here

This historical novel paints a striking portrait of one of the most revered saints in history, in a landscape that makes the life and times of John of the Cross relevant to our own age. Here is an extraordinary adventure that explores the thorny challenges that every soul must face: avoiding the trappings of this world that lead to darkness, and embracing the radiance of the fire of Divine Love. Having performed the life of this great saint as an actor, I found Jose Luis Olaizola’s portrayal very true to the passion and dramatic intensity of this great mystic. Fire of Love rekindled in me the fire ignited by Saint John of the Cross in his poetic plea, ‘Love Him intensely, as He deserves to be loved.’ May all who read this literary work examine their own souls profoundly, in order to have the greatest of all adventures – finding God Himself. —Leonardo Defilippis, Film Actor & Director, John of the Cross

IP#279 Fr. Michael Gaitley MIC – “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told” on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

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I LOVE this book!  “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told: Now is the Time of Mercy” is outstanding!  Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC is able to once again provide just the right amount of insight, depth, and practical application to an important aspect of our collective spiritual experience!  He brings forward to us the “School of Trust” whose curriculum is the continuing story of our salvation revealed to us over the last 2000 years and lived out and taught to us through the lives of the saints.  Fr. Gaitley’s storytelling is thoroughly engaging.  This a page turner you truly will not want to set aside.  Filled with so many “ah-ha” moments you’ll be saying to yourself over and over again “Oh, I knew that, but I didn’t know I knew that” or “Ok, wow, now I see the connection!”  This is also a book that you’ll want to give to others…follow through with that impulse, they will be glad you did!  HIGHLY recommended!

 

Second-Greatest-Story-Ever-You can find the book here

From the book description:

In The Second Greatest Story Ever Told bestselling author Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, reveals St. John Paul II’s witness for our time. Building on the prophetic voices of Margaret Mary Alacoque, Thérèse of Lisieux, Maximilian Kolbe, and Faustina Kowalska, The Second Greatest Story Ever Told is more than a historical account of the Great Mercy Pope. This book expounds on the profound connection between Divine Mercy and Marian consecration. It serves as an inspiration for all those who desire to bear witness to the mercy of God, focused on Christ and formed by Mary. Now is the time of mercy. Now is the time to make John Paul’s story your own.

IP#299 Dr. Rodney Stark – Bearing False Witness on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

Dr. Rodney StarkOnce again, Dr. Rodney Stark, the author of the best-selling “The Rise of Christianity” brings clarity to history with his book “Bearing False Witness:  Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History“!  A professor of social science and co-director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, Dr. Stark is a master of research and source analysis.  With his eagle’s eye, he assess the landscape of history and systematically debunks anti-Catholic “myths” one after another.  Whether he is untying the knot of the “Spanish Inquisition” or placing in proper perspective the motivation and actions of the Church in the various Crusades, he never fails to place before his readers an engaging presentation of the “truth”.  He remains one of our all-time favorite guests and authors…take a listen!

Bearing False WitnessYou can find the book here

Rodney Stark gives the last acceptable prejudice a sound thrashing and clears up a lot of confused history along the way. Give this fine book to anyone you know who’s been subjected to ‘social studies.’” —George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

“Growing up Catholic in the United States is to hear a constant stream of stuff that, one’s experience shows, is just not true. Still I have always trusted that some unbiased non-Catholic scholar would one day look at the evidence (even its simple logic) again. Little did I imagine that this expected dispassionate historian would be so deeply informed, lucid, thorough, and blunt. Rodney Stark has done justice to neglected historical truth, and I am deeply grateful for his steady toughmindedness. His aim was to honor the truth, so now it remains for historians to look again, face his challenges, and come refreshed to their own verdicts.” —Michael Novak, winner of the Templeton Prize (1994), author of The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

“A majestically argued, gorgeously written, and essential book by one of the truly indispensable minds of our time. Bearing False Witness is one more gift to history from Rodney Stark. It should in turn be given to and read by students and professors everywhere, whatever their beliefs.” —Mary Eberstadt, author of How the West Really Lost God and It’s Dangerous to Believe

IP#297 Fr. George Rutler – He Spoke To Us part 1 on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

fr_rutlerThe master storyteller, Fr. George Rutler, brings to us an incredible teachings with his book  “He Spoke to Us: Discerning God in People and Events”.   In the essays contained within this engaging work, Fr. Rutler provides for us a facet of discernment which involves recognizing the movements  God in the lives of others, which in turn helps to see similar activity that might occur in our own life experience.  Always a joy to talk with Fr. Rutler.

51tprbY43PL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_You can find the book here

“Father Rutler’s book is not just charming and informative, but a delight. He knows and remembers so many things that each chapter is a new experience of something in history, theology, literature, or just common sense.”

–Fr. James Schall, S.J., Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University

“Father Rutler is a man of parts: graduate of Dartmouth, Oxford, and Rome’s Angelicum; linguist, painter, violinist, and boxer; preacher extraordinaire. One of Catholicism’s most successful pastors, he has been a magnet attracting converts and vocations for decades. Fr. Rutler is also that contemporary clerical rarity–an accomplished man of letters who writes as gracefully as he speaks.” –George Weigel, Author, Evangelical Catholicism

IP#20 Anthony Burke Smith – The Look of Catholics on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

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“The Look of Catholics: Portrayals in Popular Culture from the Great Depression to the Cold War” is a fascinating work by Anthony Burke Smith.  In film, radio, print Catholics contributed significantly to the American Imagination during some of the truly toughest years our nation has faced.  It is really interesting how the country turned to the virtuous communal nature of the Catholic identity to lift itself during this time.  From Leo McCarey’s Oscar-winning “Go My Way” to Archbishop Fulton Sheen to Henry Luce (publisher of Life magazine), Anthony covers a vast array of areas in this study.  I loved it, and I bet so will you!

 

You can find Anthony’s book at Amazon.com41KXLYk5qbL._SX343_BO1,204,203,200_

“Smith’s ambitious and exemplary work demonstrates decisively for all time that Catholics were not only integral players in the formation of modern American popular culture but that the role of Catholicism itself in the national popular culture was a major issue in the production of that same culture. . . . A wonderfully exciting book that will be widely hailed as a landmark achievement confirm the author’s stature as the leading scholar of Catholic popular culture, and be consulted by scholars and their students for decades to come.” –James T. Fisher

IP#284 Fr. Mike Driscoll – “Demons, Deliverance, and Discernment” on Inside the Pages with Kris McGregor

In “Demons, Deliverance, and Discernment : Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World” Fr. Mike Driscoll offers a Fr.-Michael-Driscoll_fascinating glimpse into a subject much discussed these days.  Published by the great folks at Catholic Answers, this work is informative and well researched.  Fr. Driscoll is a counselor/chaplain and did his doctoral dissertation on the area of possession and exorcism. He covers many areas in this work, including possession and exorcism in Sacred Scripture and in various cultures.  How a diagnosis is made in regards to a particular activity and the discernment process which actually ascertains whether or not the occurrence is rooted in a psychological issue or something potentially demonic is rather interesting. 

One chapter in particular was a standout for me: it was entitled the “Deliverance Drama”.  This portion of the book will bring peace of mind to many and for others shake up particular paradigms. Fr. Driscoll makes the strong point that this area of “ministry” for laity is not found in any official authorized rite or teaching issued by the Roman Catholic magisterium.  When practiced by laity, they are actually working “outside” of the genuine authority of Roman Catholic Church.  Founded by what Fr. Driscoll terms “deliverance professionals” (for again there is nothing in the Roman Catholic Church which authorizes this activity to be truly termed “deliverance ministry”),  he offers a strong cautionary note to Catholic laity who participate in these “rituals” founded in Protestant practices.  He offers plenty of warnings regarding this and suggests what true lay involvement could be in this area (if any).  A very interesting chapter indeed.

Demons,-Deliverance,-and-DiYou can find here

From the book publisher, Catholic Answers Press:

Drawing on his experience as a priest and counselor, and on his research with exorcists, Fr. Driscoll clears up many popular misconceptions about demons and the spirit world and offers sound information and pastoral advice rooted in Catholic tradition, including: – What we know about demons from history, Scripture, and Church teaching -How to tell whether personal problems come from mental illnesses or demonic attacks – What exorcists actually do and don t do when they help people suffering possession – Why homemade deliverance ministries are not a truly Catholic way to counter the influence of demons – Authentic prayers and practices that will make evil spirits flee and invite God s grace into your heart The devil has designs on our soul and hosts of wickedness who want to win it for him. Know your enemy! Read Demons, Deliverance, and Discernment and prepare yourself for the fight.