79 Slices
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20. More Steps

Anne Eileen Heffernan Fsp Pauline Books and Media ePub

In 1933, Bishop Re retired. The following year he passed away.

“Bishop Re did so much for me,” Father James remarked to Father Francis. “When I was a seminarian and young priest, he gave me difficult assignments. But those assignments—especially as spiritual director—made me better prepared to found our congregations. And later, he helped us get official approval.”

“It’s true,” replied Father Francis. Then he added, “When we look back, we can see the hand of God. You wouldn’t have been ordained in Bishop Re’s diocese if you hadn’t been expelled from that first seminary in another diocese.”

“I know,” agreed James. “Being sent home seemed like such a tragedy then, but Alba was the best place for us to begin. Yes, God’s ways are amazing.”

The Founder continued to send out priests, brothers, and sisters to cities in Italy and beyond—as close as France and as far away as China. Meanwhile, he himself was writing books. The priests and brothers in Alba were busily printing magazines for children, families, and parishes. Father Chrysostom traveled up and down Italy by motorcycle, telling bishops and priests about the work of the Society of Saint Paul. In Rome, the Society was printing Bibles in different languages.

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11. Beginning from Bethlehem

Anne Eileen Heffernan Fsp Pauline Books and Media ePub

“You amaze me,” a priest friend told Father James. “Even though you had to take some time off for your health, you’ve done wonders with the newspaper. I’m surprised, though, that you don’t want that company to continue printing it. Why are you starting your own print shop?”

Father James smiled. “For some time I’ve wanted to open a little trade school, where boys can learn how to print good Catholic books.”

He didn’t mention that he hoped some of the boys in his school would become members of a religious congregation! Only Father Francis and Bishop Re knew about Father James’s dream. It wasn’t the right time to share it with anyone else yet.

On the evening of August 20, 1914, a teenage boy crossed a stone-paved city square in Alba, struggling with two bags of luggage. He approached the unmarked door of what looked like an ordinary business and knocked nervously. No answer. He knocked again, and the door opened suddenly.

“Oh!” the boy exclaimed. Stuttering, he said, “I-I-I’m looking for F-f-father James. I’m Des Costa.”

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21. To the Ends of the Earth

Anne Eileen Heffernan Fsp Pauline Books and Media ePub

On an evening in 1940, air raid sirens shrieked, warning of a possible attack. The house of the Society of Saint Paul in Rome quickly became dark. It was a blackout, meaning that the lights had been turned off so the house would not be a target for bombs. Men and boys felt their way down the staircase in the dark and gathered in the basement to wait for what might happen next. Many of them were afraid.

Father James followed them part of the way. Then he stopped at the top of the basement stairs. The priests and young people could see him outlined against a first-floor window. From time to time, he moved, and they saw that he was holding a rosary. During the whole air raid alert, he stayed there—sometimes standing still, sometimes pacing back and forth—praying.

The Founder was praying for all his spiritual children. Throughout his life, in times of greatest need, he had always turned to Mary. Now he did so again. Mary, Queen of the Apostles, he prayed, I beg you to ask God to protect all the Pauline priests, brothers, and sisters in Europe and Asia. Wherever the war is, I ask you to watch over your sons and daughters.

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St. Catherine of Siena

Anne Eileen Heffernan Fsp Pauline Books and Media ePub

St. Catherine of Siena

(1347–1380)

April 29

Stephen turned around to see what his six-year-old sister, Catherine, had stopped for. Always happy and curious, she sometimes forgot her mother’s directions to come straight home from her older sister’s house. “Catherine!” Stephen shouted. He frowned as he saw her staring up at the sky. Looking up himself and seeing nothing, he thought she was playing a joke on him. But he had to get home and finish his chores! He ran back to her and grabbed her arm playfully. Catherine suddenly jumped and pulled away from Stephen.

“Why did you do that?” she demanded. “I was seeing the most beautiful thing! Jesus was there, and he was reaching out to take my hand!”

Stephen looked at his sister. What a wild story, he thought. But Catherine was too serious to be making it up. Later that night, Mrs. Benincasa, Catherine’s mother, noticed that Catherine took an extra-long time to say her night prayers. In fact, after that day it seemed as though praying was the only thing that interested her. She still played with her friends, but there was nothing she liked more than praying or learning about Jesus and the saints. By the time she was twelve, Catherine had told everyone—her parents and her many brothers and sisters—that she never wanted to marry. She wanted to be a nun.

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St. John Berchmans

Anne Eileen Heffernan Fsp Pauline Books and Media ePub

St. John Berchmans

(1599–1621)

November 26

“If I don’t become a saint while I’m young,” John Berchmans once remarked, “I’ll never become one.” This wish to become a saint was a force that motivated him, from childhood, to live a life filled with holiness, hard work, and concern for others.

John was born in Diest, Belgium, in March of 1599, the oldest son of a shoemaker. He was a lively boy, kind and cheerful, always ready to help his many friends settle any differences and keep peace among them. In spite of his high spirits, he was very religious, and could often be found off in a corner, praying the Rosary. By the time he was seven, he was getting up early every morning and hurrying off to serve two or three Masses in the parish church of Notre Dame. When he returned home, he did what he could to help his mother with the younger children before leaving for school.

When John was nine, his mother became ill. As the oldest of the five children, John took care of her, leaving her bedside only to attend school and to run errands. He was very patient and considerate toward his mother, whom he loved very much.

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