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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (4)

St. Josemaría Escrivá knew that God was calling him to the diocesan priesthood, so he attended minor seminary as a day student in 1918. In 1920, he attended major seminary in Saragossa. St. Josemaría loved to pray at the chapel and the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar. But seminary life was not easy – he was made fun of by other seminarians for bathing so often, calling him a “little gentleman”, and that he didn’t smell like a man. Despite all the teasing, he believed that if one cannot praise another, it is best to keep silent. And he later always spoke highly of the virtues of his fellow seminarians, many of whom were martyred in the Spanish Civil War. Once, some girls tried to get his attention, and rumours spread, but he brought the matter to his superior. Before he was ordained a priest, his father died and, lacking the money to bury him, a relative, Fr. Daniel, lent him money. After he became a priest and Fr. Daniel too died, St. Josemaría would pray for him at every Mass.
Publish date: 2018 - 12 - 8


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (2)

The parents of St. Josemaría Escrivá taught him how to pray, and he used these methods all his life – he would make his Morning Offering every day to Jesus through Mary and was devoted to his Guardian Angel. In 1912, he received his First Communion and an elderly priest taught him a spiritual communion prayer: “I am willing, my Lord”. When he was younger, St. Josemaría Escrivá was very stubborn – once, he refused to come out of his room because he thought his new suit looked ugly. After his father forced him out, his mother told him, “The only thing to be ashamed of is sin.” He was aware of his stubbornness, but also knew that it could be a good thing too – in spiritual matters, we need to constantly persevere. His parents loved and cared for St. Josemaría Escrivá like friends. But between the ages of eight and twelve, his three younger sisters passed away from youngest to oldest. He cried for his sisters, but his mother told him to be happy, because his sisters were in heaven. He worried that he would die next, but his parents consoled him, saying that they had consecrated him to Mary when he was 18 months old. His mother said, “Before you recovered, you looked more dead than alive. You will certainly do great things.”
Publish date: 2018 - 11 - 24


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá

St. Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei, loved the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary, and exhorted people to live out their vocations to holiness and evangelization. Born in 1902 in Spain, he was baptized four days later; his name, Josemaría, honours St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary. Aged 18 months, he fell gravely ill and the doctor said he was on the verge of death. His mother prayed to Mary, pledging that if her son was healed, she would bring him to the pilgrimage site of Our Lady of Torreciudad. Little Josemaría recovered quickly and when the doctor returned, thinking to ask the parents about the baby’s time of death, he was shocked to find the baby alive and playing. True to their promise, his parents brought him to Torreciudad, which had housed a statue of Our Lady since the 11th century. When St. Josemaría was an elderly priest, he made the treacherous journey back to Torreciudad to thank the Virgin Mary for her healing and donated his surplus earnings to build a chapel there. In 1970, since the statue was temporarily moved to Madrid, St. Josemaría finally saw the statue again. He saw himself as a pitiful person, but he whole-heartedly loved the Virgin Mary. St. Josemaría Escrivá died in 1975, and the Shrine of Torreciudad was completed not long after.
Publish date: 2018 - 11 - 17


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. Dominic Savio

St. Dominic Savio was born in Italy in 1842, the second of ten children. He learned to serve Mass at age five and received First Communion at age seven, despite the customary age being twelve, since he grasped catechesis so well. If he arrived at church before it was unlocked, he would kneel outside the doors in prayer. On the day of his First Communion, he wrote down some promises: (1) to go to Confession and receive the Eucharist as often as possible, (2) to sanctify Sundays and feast days, (3) to be friends with Jesus and Mary, and (4) to rather die than sin. In 1854, 12-year-old Dominic met 38-year-old St. John Bosco and joined his Oratory. That year, Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and Dominic renewed his First Communion vows before a statue of Mary. He loved to teach catechesis and once, a boy retorted, “Why are you doing this?” Dominic replied, “Because Jesus died for us, and hence we are all brothers and ought to love each others’ souls.” At New Year, he received many prizes and over the holidays, he gifted them to children who had answered correctly at catechesis class or gone to Mass willingly. Every day, he would bring children to adore the Blessed Sacrament. In order to increase spiritual fruits and retain his zeal, he would keep a series of dedications and prayer intentions: Sundays were for the Holy Trinity, Monday for spiritual benefactors, Tuesdays for his patron St. Dominic and his guardian angel, Wednesdays for the conversion of sinners and for Our Lady of Sorrows, Thursdays for the souls in purgatory, Fridays for the Passion of Jesus, and Saturdays for Mary and her protection at the hour of death. In 1857, 14-year-old Dominic Savio died – his last words were “Oh, what wonderful things I see …”.
Publish date: 2018 - 11 - 10


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868) went to Eucharistic Adoration daily with his mother as a child, and one of his first memories were of the golden monstrance. Once, he heard from a Carmelite that friends never pass one another without speaking. Peter Julian felt it rude to pass by the Blessed Sacrament without stopping to pray. His path to the priesthood was not easy – his father was only convinced to give his consent after hearing a preacher of the Oblates of Mary. Peter Julian found Latin difficult and fell gravely sick after studying too hard. He prayed to God that he be able to offer at least one Mass as a priest before dying. God let him recover and in 1834, he was ordained a priest. He was known for spending as much time in church as in the rectory. He obtained permission from his bishop to become a religious in the Marist congregation and eventually served as provincial. He promoted Eucharistic devotions with success, especially the Forty Hour Devotion. Fr. Eymard knew that every mystery of the Faith had a congregation dedicated to it, except for the Real Presence. With the permission of the Pope and his Marist superiors, he founded a new congregation to adore the Blessed Sacrament. The order faced many problems, but Fr. Eymard had faith that if this was God’s work, it would be done, and the congregation began to flourish with orders for male and female religious, parish priests, and lay people. Fr. Eymard died in 1869, was beatified in 1925, and was canonized in 1962.
Publish date: 2018 - 10 - 27


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about Blessed Manuel González García

Blessed Manuel González García was born in Spain in 1877, the fourth of five children, to a well-off family. He loved to make reparations for Jesus, forgotten in the Eucharist, and entered the seminary with his parents’ support, but he had to work to support himself. In 1901, he was ordained a priest and in his newly-appointed church was told about the poor state of the administration. Manuel prayed before the Tabernacle and felt Jesus tell him about the many issues he would face, and the even more things demanded of him. Three years later, Blessed Manuel was transferred to another parish to combat the indifference of the parishioners. In 1910, he invited a group of women to imitate Mary and the other few companions of Jesus at His Crucifixion, and console Jesus in the Tabernacle. Over time, the group grew into male and female religious orders. In 1915, he was consecrated a titular bishop and was consecrated a diocesan bishop of Málaga in 1920. He built many diocesan schools and seminaries. In 1931, he was attacked by revolutionaries who lit his episcopal palace on fire and was moved in 1932 to administer from Madrid until 1935, when he was appointed bishop to another diocese. His wrote about prayer, the Eucharist, and pastoral work. In later years, his health worsened but through patience and sacrifice maintained his joyful spirit. In 1940, he died and requested to be buried in the Cathedral. His wish was: “I ask to be buried next to a tabernacle, so that my bones, after death, as my tongue and my pen in life, are saying to those who pass: there is Jesus! There it is! Do not leave him abandoned!” In life and death, Blessed Manuel brought people before the Tabernacle to be united with God.
Publish date: 2018 - 10 - 20


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about Sister Consolata Betrone

Sister Consolata Betrone was born in Italy in 1903; when she was 13, she devoutly prayed, “My God, I love You!” and consecrated herself to the Virgin Mary. That day, after receiving the Eucharist, she heard a voice, “Are you willing to belong to me?” She tearfully replied, “I am,” and offered herself totally to Jesus. Over time, she felt God’s calling grow stronger but still felt doubts and spiritual dryness. Aged 21, she realized her calling to the religious life and, after being rejected three times by different convents, was accepted to the Capuchin Order’s Convent of the Poor Clares in 1929. In 1934, she professed her religious vows and was assigned to work as a portress, kitchen helper, secretary, and nurse. At this time, Jesus revealed a special ejaculatory prayer to her: “Jesus, Mary, I love you! Save souls!” He explained that the “souls” included those in Purgatory, those in the Church Militant, even those of atheists. Each prayer, when said all day long, would save one soul. Jesus also told her, “The souls I love most are those who love Me most.” And again, “The more you love Me, the happier you will be.” He told Sister Consolata, “Do not limit your trust in Me, and I will not limit My graces to you. Once suffering is accepted with love, it is no longer suffering, but joy.” In 1945, Sister Consolata fell sick and passed away – she had dedicated her life to praying for sinners.
Publish date: 2018 - 10 - 6


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about Blessed Solanus Casey

21, he entered the seminary and loved the lifestyle, but theology was taught in German and Latin, so he struggled, and eventually his superiors suggested that he enter a religious order. He applied to the Jesuits, Franciscans, and the Capuchins and all three orders accepted him, so he prayed a novena with his mother and sister, hearing Mary distinctly tell him on the last day, “Go to Detroit”, the headquarters of the Capuchins. After journeying through a snowstorm, he fell asleep at the door of St. Bonaventure Friary. Awoken by bells, he joined the procession to Christmas Midnight Mass. He joined the Capuchins as Friar Francis Solanus, but as his grades were so poor, his superiors ordained him in 1904 as a “simplex priest” – one who can say Mass but not preach or hear confessions. He also served as porter to the Friary and was able to console the sick and the poor. Fr. Solanus supported the Seraphic Mass Association, which would pray for donors to the Capuchins, and every time he enrolled a donor, miracles would occur. Fr. Solanus died in 1957, having served God with the little gifts given to him. His last words were “I give my soul to Jesus Christ.”
Publish date: 2018 - 9 - 15


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about Pope Pius XII

Born in 1876, the “Marian Pope” Venerable Pius XII was ordained a priest and then consecrated bishop on May 13, 1917 – the day of the first Fatima apparition. In 1939, he was elected Pope and, following Mary’s command at Fatima, consecrated the world and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942 and 1952 respectively. Sister Lúcia believed that this consecration helped end the Second World War. Throughout the war, he worked for peace and helped the Jewish people escape Nazi atrocities. In Rome, an important rabbi was so moved by this that he was baptized into the Church as “Eugenio Maria”, the Pope’s birth name. In 1950, he defined the dogma of the Assumption and saw the Sun dance miraculously four times. In the aftermath of the war, many bodies were never recovered, and the dogma of Mary’s bodily assumption into Heaven reminded people of God’s promise to resurrect the bodies of all the dead, thus consoling the grieving families. Pope Pius instituted two important Marian feasts. First, he instituted the Feast of the Immaculate Heart in 1944, to bring about world peace, freedom to the Church, and conversion of sinners. Then in 1954, he established the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, for the veneration of Mary’s mercy and motherly authority. The same year, he instituted a “Marian year” and in a message to the Philippine people proclaimed the Rosary their “national Marian devotion” and their country the “Kingdom of the Rosary”. He also wrote an encyclical to promote the praying of the Rosary in families, and so promote a devout spirit of prayer and family unity. Pope Pius XII loved Mary deeply and brought the Church “through Mary to Jesus”.
Publish date: 2018 - 9 - 8


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about Blessed James Alberione

Blessed James Alberione was born in 1884 in Northern Italy. As a child, he spent hours praying at Marian shrines, seeing Mary as helper of Jesus, and sharer of Jesus’ life with the Apostles – this he developed into a special devotion to Mary as Queen of the Apostles. He was a pioneer of Catholic media, called by Pope John Paul II the “first apostle of the new evangelization”. In 1900, he was inspired during prayer to serve the people of the new century. He established the Pauline family of ten religious organizations, including the male Society of St. Paul and the female Daughters of St. Paul. Through modern telecommunications (such as periodicals, movies, television, radio), they promoted living holy lives and spread holy doctrine. In 1954, he founded the Basilica of St. Mary Queen of Apostles at Montagnola in Rome, which was designated a titular see in 1965, and assigned to Cardinal John Tong Hon of Hong Kong in 2012. Blessed James would pray the Rosary constantly, even on the streets, in the bus, on the train, or in the waiting room. Every day, he would rise at 3:30am, pray for seven hours, and recommended spending a Holy Hour before the Eucharist daily. He refused to be lazy, was always vigilant, and extended his prayer to action, sensing the signs of the times to touch people’s souls. He died in 1971 and was beatified in 2003.
Publish date: 2018 - 9 - 1


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. Maximilian Kolbe

In the early 20th century, the Church responded to Freemasonry and Modernism with two lay movements – one from Western Europe and another from Eastern Europe. In 1917, St. Maximilian Kolbe from Poland founded the Knights of the Immaculata, a group of Catholics dedicated to proclaiming the message of Mary in a society of error and indifference, taking the Miraculous Medal as their symbol. Fr. Kolbe was recognized early for his sanctity, and his hair was secretly collected for relics. In 1941, he was brought to the Nazi concentration camps and became a light in the dark – he led the praying of the Rosary and was executed after voluntarily taking the place of another prisoner. In 1921, Frank Duff founded the Legion of Mary in Ireland. In 1917, he read Louis de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary” and used his spirituality to lead his group “to Jesus through Mary”. Every year, the members of the Legion reconsecrate themselves – body, soul, possessions, and fruits of work – for Mary to use as she sees fit. The Legion of Mary spread throughout the world, especially in mission territories. Members pray the Rosary at weekly meetings, as Frank Duff believed its mysteries to be the work of the Holy Spirit. In 1965, he attended the Second Vatican Council as a lay observer and died in 1980, aged 91.
Publish date: 2018 - 8 - 25


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. Anthony Claret

St. Anthony Claret was born in 1807, a Spaniard who grew up praying the Rosary with his family and became devoted to the Rosary after reading a book on it. He would often go to church with his younger sister to pray the Rosary, even leading other parishioners. In 1829, he entered seminary and began to pray three decades daily. In 1835, he was ordained as a diocesan priest, having left the Jesuit novitiate due to ill health. He was a prolific preacher, sometimes preaching twelve times in a day. In 1839, he went to Italy, and became devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary after seeing the people’s devotion. In 1847, he started a Marian sodality and the Claretian missionary order dedicated to the Immaculate Heart in 1849. In 1850, he was consecrated bishop to Cuba. There, he stipulated that all parishes publicly pray the Rosary on Sundays and feast days, and sometimes made unannounced inspections. He was called the “St. Dominic of the 19th Century”, so great was his promotion of the Rosary. But St. Anthony suffered fifteen assassination attempts on his life. Once, an assailant stabbed his cheek but St. Anthony was able to commute his death sentence to a prison sentence. After seven years as bishop, he was called back to Spain to serve as confessor to Queen Isabella II. With plentiful time, he dedicated himself to printing theological publications. After a revolution in 1868, St. Anthony followed his dethroned queen into exile in France, where he died in 1870, aged 62. St. Anthony Claret taught us to venerate the Immaculate Heart and diligently pray the Rosary.
Publish date: 2018 - 8 - 18