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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about Blessed Bartolo Longo (2)

Starting from 1873, Bartolo Longo began organizing a confraternity of the Rosary and invited Dominican priests to preach. He needed an image of Our Lady of the Rosary, so he found an old, dilapidated image at a nearby convent, showing Mary carrying the Child Jesus, handing the Rosary to St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena. In 1879, the image was restored and many miracles were subsequently attributed to it. He set up orphanages and sought to form orphans into honest people through work and prayer. He set up a large printing press for propagating the Rosary and arranged for religious brothers and sisters to educate orphan boys and girls in the faith. The widowed Countess Mariana di Fusco funded Bartolos’s charitable works, but many rumours were spread about their close relationship, so Pope Leo XIII suggested they get married, which they did in 1885. Husband and wife remained continent and continued charitable works, donating all their property to the Holy See in 1906. The Countess died in 1924 aged 88, and Bartolo continued fervently promoting the Rosary until he died too in 1926 aged 85. His dying wish was to see Mary, who had rescued him from the clutches of Satan. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980.
Publish date: 2018 - 7 - 21


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about Blessed Bartolo Longo

In 1841, Blessed Bartolo Longo was born into a wealthy family. When he studied law in university, he was influenced by the anti-Catholicism there and became a satanic priest. On hearing the voice of his deceased father, “Return to God,” Bartolo visited his alarmed friend who said, “Do you want to die in a mental institution and lose your soul?” He convinced him to confess to a Dominican priest. After a month of guidance, he once again received the Eucharist. He served at a hospital and saw their patient suffering for God as a manifestation of authentic joy. In 1871, he became a Dominican tertiary, publicly renounced satanism as a “maze of error” at their meeting places, and recounted his conversion story at the university. He went to take care of the affairs of a wealthy widow in Pompei, and saw the people’s religion distorted by superstition and prayed for their conversion. For some time, he despaired and had suicidal thoughts, thinking that his past still bound him to Satan. But he thought of St. Dominic’s promise, “he who propagates my Rosary will be saved.” At that moment, he heard church bells ringing and dedicated his life to spreading the Rosary and making Mary loved and honoured.
Publish date: 2018 - 7 - 14


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about Apparition of Mary at Lourdes, France (4)

On July 16, 1858, the day of the final Lourdes apparition, the grotto was closed off. Accompanied by her aunts and neighbours, Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary at 8pm in a nearby field. That day, Mary appeared as in the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and, just as in the final Fatima apparition in 1917, was silent. After this apparition, Bernadette became increasingly famous, and she retreated to a life of contemplation at a Sisters of Charity of Nevers convent. There, the Mother Superior was especially strict with her and gave her menial tasks, thinking the visions had made her proud. Later, her health failed, so she was assigned to stitching vestments. Once, a sister asked her whether she had ever been tempted to pride; she replied, “How could that be? Mary picked me because I am most ignorant!” Suffering from tuberculosis in her right knee, she grasped the cross, crying three times, “Repent!” and finally, “Blessed Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, a pitiful sinner!” Bernadette passed away on April 16, 1879, aged 35, and the people, on receiving the news, flocked to the convent, singing, “The saint has passed away!” In 1808, her body was exhumed at Nevers and discovered to be incorrupt. And in 1933, she was canonized.
Publish date: 2018 - 7 - 7


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about Apparition of Mary at Lourdes, France (3)

On March 25, 1858, Mary appeared once more to Bernadette. First, Bernadette asked Mary for forgiveness for arriving late – Mary’s expression showed that she did not mind. Then, Bernadette thanked Mary for graciously appearing to her, and prayed the Rosary on her knees. After the idea strongly prompted her, she asked Mary three times for her name. The first two times, Mary merely bowed her head and smiled. But on the third time, Mary humbly folded her hands, gazed to Heaven, then spread her arms out, and said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Four years prior, Pope Pius IX had pronounced the Immaculate Conception as dogma. But the uneducated Bernadette did not know what the Immaculate Conception was, so she immediately went to the parish priest and said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The priest sent her home – he was now certain she had seen the Virgin Mary. On April 17, Bernadette held a candle which burned up to her hand for the fifteen minutes of the apparition in the sight of doctors but was unharmed. To test her, the doctors touched her hand with another candle after the apparition and Bernadette flinched, saying, “Why are you trying to burn me?”
Publish date: 2018 - 6 - 30


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about Apparition of Mary at Lourdes, France (2)

In total, there were 18 apparitions at Lourdes in 1858. On February 21, as more than a hundred people gathered, Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary look over her head and tell her to pray for sinners. But on seeing Mary’s beautiful face, she felt assured. Three days later, Bernadette tearfully recounted Mary’s words, “Repent, repent, repent!” From now on, she was to make reparation for sinners by walking to the grotto on her knees and kissing the ground. On February 25, Mary said, “Go, draw water from the spring. Drink and wash.” After some digging, some water came forth from the left side of the grotto. Onlookers began to mock her, but to this day, the same spring delivers 32,000 gallons of water to the local river. This water had healing properties. On March 1, Catherine, a 9-months pregnant woman walked 9 kilometres to Lourdes. After immersing her lame arm, she was healed and on returning home, gave birth shortly afterward. The next day, Mary told Bernadette to tell the local priest to build a chapel at the grotto. The priest told Bernadette to ask for the name of the woman in the visions. On March 3, Mary merely responded by smiling. The priest told Bernadette, “If she wants the chapel built, she must reveal her name and make roses bloom at the grotto.” But the next day, Mary once more responded by smiling and nodding. Today, Lourdes is a major destination for pilgrims to pray the Rosary for the reparation of sinners and immerse themselves in the holy waters for healing.
Publish date: 2018 - 6 - 23


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about Apparition of Mary at Lourdes, France

The Lourdes apparitions are the most famous of the 18th-century Marian apparitions. On February 11, 1858, Bernadette, her sister, and a friend were out collecting wood and, hearing the sound of wind, she saw a beautiful woman in a nearby grotto. She was clothed in white, with a veil on her head, a blue sash on her hips, yellow roses on her feet, and a gold-and-white Rosary in her hands. Bernadette attempted to make the sign of the cross, but was immobilized, and only when Mary made the Sign of the Cross could Bernadette do so. Bernadette began to pray the Rosary, Mary silently counted with her and disappeared. Bernadette realized that the other girls had not seen the vision and told them to keep it secret. But her sister told their mother, who was convinced she was dreaming. On February 14, Bernadette returned to the cave with locals, who cast holy water and prayed the Rosary, thinking the apparition demonic in origin. When Mary appeared, Bernadette said, “If you come from God, please approach us.” The holy water touched her foot, and Mary walked forward, prayed a Rosary, and disappeared. The day after Ash Wednesday, February 18, a woman and a nun accompanied Bernadette to the grotto. The three of them prayed the Rosary and lit a holy candle. When Mary appeared, Bernadette asked her to write her name. Mary said there was no need and told her to come every fourteen days: “I will not promise you happiness in this life, but happiness in the next.” On February 20, Mary taught Bernadette a private prayer, the content of which has never been revealed. The day after, Mary asked Bernadette to pray for sinners.
Publish date: 2018 - 6 - 16


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about Marian apparition in Pontmain, France

On January 17, 1871, in Pontmain, France, two brothers had finished helping their father with farmwork. They saw the sky above one of their neighbours’ houses lacked stars. There, the boys saw a beautiful woman smiling at them, but the adults could not see the vision. Their mother thought it was a Marian apparition and told them to pray five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys in her honour. After dinner, they went back out and the vision was still there. They notified their teacher, a nun, who couldn’t see the vision, so she brought three children: the oldest two saw the vision, but the youngest did not. The adults could not see the vision but, under the guidance of their parish priest, began to pray the Rosary. The children saw a blue oval surrounding Mary – who had a red cross on her heart. The stars flew onto Mary’s clothing and made it shine, then at Mary’s feet, words appeared: “But pray, my children.” After the priest led the people to sing hymns to Mary, new words appeared: “God will soon answer you. My Divine Son has permitted Himself to be moved.” Then, a large image of the Passion of Christ appeared before Mary, and her smile turned to grief. The stars lit four candles, the Passion image disappeared, and the people began to pray Matins. That night, the Prussian invaders halted their advance into France and, 21 days later, a peace treaty was signed. In the village of Pontmain, all the soldiers returned home unscathed. The local bishop verified the miracle in 1872, and a big basilica was built there in 1900, and the Feast of Our Lady of Pontmain was established on January 17, to remind people to pray for peace, an important task in the 19th century and in our present age.
Publish date: 2018 - 6 - 9


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about Marian apparition at La Salette, France

In 1846, Mary appeared at La Salette, France to a boy and a girl, who saw a weeping beautiful woman who said to them in French, “My children, come here, don’t be afraid.” She said that, unless people were obedient, her Son’s Divine Hand would have no alternative but to punish them. The locals would often curse with the Name of Jesus, even after God sent a potato crop failure to warn them. Now, a drought would come. Mary asked them, “Have you prayed well?” The children admitted they had not, so Mary told them to at least pray the Lord’s Prayer and a Hail Mary each day, but to pray more if time permitted. Mary complained that few people attended the Mass apart from old women, instead preferring to work in the summertime. And during Lent, they would continue to eat meat like ravenous dogs. She emphasized the importance of living out the first three Commandments – to worship God, to not take His Name in vain, and to keep the sabbath day – and also of making reparations for those who did not.
Publish date: 2018 - 6 - 2


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. Catherine Labouré (3)

Ten years after St. Catherine Labouré received her visions of Mary, another sister of the same order, Sr. Justine, received her own vision. In 1840, she saw Mary clutching her enflamed Immaculate Heart with her right hand, and her left hand grabbing a green scapular, with an image of the Immaculate Heart pierced by swords on the reverse, encircled by the prayer “Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.” A voice told her that through this image, many lost souls would be brought to Mary and saved. Sr. Justine knew that she had to distribute this sacred image as fast as she could. In 1841, Sr. Justine told Fr. Jean-Marie about the visions, but as he was already promoting the Miraculous Medal devotion of St. Catherine Labouré, the promotion of the Green Scapular devotion was delayed and lacking in faith. Mary appeared in 1842 and 1846 to protest. People asked whether the devotion required any specific blessings, and Mary told Sr. Justine in a vision that, as the scapular belonged to no particular order, no specific blessing was needed. The devotee need only pray the prayer on the back of the scapular daily. The Pope approved the Green Scapular devotion and it spread widely, bringing many souls to conversion.
Publish date: 2018 - 5 - 26


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. Catherine Labouré (2)

On the night of July 18, 1830, the Virgin Mary first appeared to St. Catherine Labouré, the “sweetest moment” of her life. On November 27, 1830, the Virgin Mary appeared again as she was meditating in the chapel – she saw Mary standing on a hemisphere before the altar, offering up a gold orb to God. On her hands were many jewelled rings: she told St. Catherine that they were graces delivered to those who requested them. The dull ones, she said, were the graces that no one requested. Then, Mary extended her two arms on the hemisphere, light shone forth, and she was encircled by the words “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee”. Then, the frame began to rotate, and on the reverse, she saw a large letter M surmounted by the cross and encircled by twelve stars above the Sacred Heart of Jesus crowned with thorns and the Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced by a sword. Mary told Catherine to make sacred medals of this image, and that those who wore it on the neck would receive special graces. She only told her confessor about the visions, and after two years of investigation, he finally brought the matter to the Archbishop of Paris, who approved the distribution of the medals. The devotion spread widely and became known as the Miraculous Medal of Our Lady of Graces. There was a wealthy Jew called Alphonse Ratisbonne who hated the Catholic Church. One day, his friend dared him to wear the Miraculous Medal and pray the associated Memorare prayer. While waiting for his friend in church one day, Alphonse saw the Virgin Mary appear as in the Miraculous Medal image. He instantly understood Catholic teaching, converted, was baptized, became a priest to the Jews, and his entire family of 28 was converted, including two brothers who became priests. St. Catherine never revealed her identity as the Miraculous Medal visionary, and only just before death did she reveal her identity to her superiors, so that they could make a statue of Mary offering a gold orb to God as in the vision. In 1876, she died, and 57 years later, her body was found to be incorrupt. Today, she enjoys the company of Mary forever in Heaven.
Publish date: 2018 - 5 - 19


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. Catherine Labouré

May 13th is Mother’s Day, also the 101st anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. The period of 1830-1954, known as the Marian Age, was a period of numerous Marian apparitions, starting with Catherine Labouré in 1830. Born on May 2, 1806, Catherine Labouré dreamt an old priest telling her to come over, but she refused. He said, “My child, it is good to care for the sick; you have left me now, but you will later come willingly. God has a plan for you, do not forget that.” Many years later, she saw a portrait of that priest on the wall in a Daughters of Charity-run hospital – it was their founder, St. Vincent de Paul. In 1830, she entered the order in Paris, and was granted many visions. On the eve of the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, the mother superior explained the virtues of their founder to the novices, and gifted them some of his relics. She prayed fervently to the Saint, asking that he grant her a vision of the Virgin Mary. At night, an angel woke her up, told her to meet the Virgin Mary in the chapel. On entering, she saw Mary seated on the mother superior’s seat, and the angel told her to kneel beside Mary. Mary told her, “God will give you a mission. You will be opposed, but do not be afraid. Tell your superiors all that you see. France and the world are very evil. I will give graces to those who pray for them. There will be persecution, and the Cross will be insulted.” Over the next 125 years, the Church went through many revolutions and two World Wars, but Mary sustained her with messages of prayer and reparation.
Publish date: 2018 - 5 - 12


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. Faustina (11)

During the last week of her life, Sr. Amelia took care of St. Faustina, and said, “I would like to go to Heaven a year from now just like you.” St. Faustina replied, “If I get the opportunity to, I will ask Jesus on your behalf.” Indeed, one year after St. Faustina’s death, Sr. Amelia passed away. At 10:45pm on October 5, 1938, after suffering greatly and offering up her sufferings to God, St. Faustina passed away. And when her body was displayed in an open casket, others noted that her face was so peaceful that she seemed more beautiful than in life. Her funeral occurred on October 7, but her family did not attend because, according to St. Faustina’s wishes, they were not notified in order to prevent them from spending precious money on the journey. But before the news of her death reached her family, her sister Natalia had already known – she had a vision in her room of a thin St. Faustina with a face as radiant white as the Eucharist, saying, “I am going to Heaven now, and have come to say goodbye. You must stay with God and mustn’t cry.” Natalia was speechless, and when St. Faustina left the room, she began to cry into her pillow, so St. Faustina returned and said, “I told you not to cry. Stop crying!” On April 30, 2000, the happiest day of his life, Pope St. John Paul II canonized St. Faustina and declared every Second Sunday of Easter from then on as Divine Mercy Sunday.
Publish date: 2018 - 5 - 5