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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (18)

In 1937, St. Josemaría Escrivá and his companions were smuggled out of Barcelona. Not long after, the Communist police cracked down on the place they had been staying at. During their escape, they stayed in a farmhouse and celebrated Mass with a glass as the chalice and a notebook as the Missal. There was still a risk of capture, so they moved to an abandoned rectory nearby. St. Josemaría began having doubts whether it was the will of God that he leave Madrid and escape Communist-controlled territory. He prayed to the Virgin Mary to give him a rose as a sign that he was doing the will of God. One day, as he told his companions that he would not be celebrating Mass, he went to an abandoned church and emerged ecstatic. In his hands was a wooden rose – he would celebrate Mass that day. At another time, they had to hide in a cabin in the woods to wait for more refugees before continuing. St. Josemaría named it St. Raphael’s Cabin and prayed for the angel’s intercession. As a witness later recounted, the Mass that he celebrated in the forest was very sacred. The priest was recollected and focused and the singing of birds added to the atmosphere.
Publish date: 2019 - 3 - 16


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Andrew and Iris Cheng: A Journey of Love and Grace

Andrew Cheng, a former Hong Kong Legislative Council member, used to spend most hours in his career, leaving little time for his family. A few years ago, under the guidance of God, Andrew’s relationship with his wife has improved significantly. Fountain of Grace has invited Andrew and Iris, his wife, to share with us the journey they have gone through over the past decade.
Publish date: 2019 - 3 - 9


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (17)

St. Josemaría Escrivá had evaded capture thus far in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War, but his friends knew that it was a matter of time before he was caught by the Communists. They brought him to some smugglers in Barcelona, who would take him to the Nationalist-controlled area. St. Josemaría had an influential friend in Barcelona, an old classmate while studying law, and an atheist. Upon arrival in Barcelona, the friend invited him over for dinner and tried to convince him to accept a legal career to save his life. But St. Josemaría was adamant that he would not abandon his priestly vocation. Seeing this, the friend told him, “If you ever get captured, tell them you are my brother, and I will see what I can do.” In 1937, Barcelona suffered famine and in their apartment, a starving dog was so hungry that it ate the belt and sock of St. Josemaría’s travelling companion. Nonetheless, St. Josemaría gave his food to the poor children and when that ran out, he played with them, giving them love and concern.
Publish date: 2019 - 3 - 9


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The Lord calls. My family responds.

Deacon Paul Ma was ordained to the permanent diaconate in the Archdiocese of Toronto in 2014. How did God call him? How did he and his family respond to God's calling?
Publish date: 2019 - 3 - 2


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (16)

During the Spanish Civil War, St. Josemaría Escrivá hid in the Honduran Consulate; not wanting to waste his time, he continued to celebrate the Mass, pray the Rosary, and meditate with fellow refugees. They also studied other languages in the hopes of spreading the Opus Dei around the world after the war. He personally wrote prolifically and read the classics and theological works. He also sought Confession from other priests once a week. A follower, named Isidoro, used his Argentine citizenship to transit freely in and out of Communist-occupied Madrid. He served as St. Josemaría’s messenger, carrying spiritual reflections and the Eucharist to others. However, as all priests in Madrid had either fled or were in hiding, many people died without receiving the Sacraments. St. Josemaría decided to leave the Consulate, carrying fake documents and dressed as a civilian. He prayed many Rosaries on the streets, heard Confessions, consoled people, and preached secretly. Sometimes, he would narrowly evade capture, saved only by the careful attention of his sympathizers.
Publish date: 2019 - 3 - 2


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (15)

For five months in the Spanish Civil War, St. Josemaría Escrivá hid from the Communists in an insane asylum. Many of the “patients” were actually refugees; as many of the medical staff had Communist sympathies, they would report suspected refugees to the secret police. However, some doctors taught St. Josemaría how to imitate an insane person. Assigned to him were three nurses – two of whom were Communist sympathizers and one, the head nurse María Luisa, who was a reliable person. St. Josemaría told her that he was a Catholic priest and asked her to stand guard as he celebrated Mass in his room. In 1936, due to the severe religious persecution, the Holy See exempted priests in Spain from the usual requirements of an altar, liturgical vessels, and vestments for celebrating the Mass. Every day, St. Josemaría secretly celebrated the Mass and brought the Eucharist to other political refugees in the asylum. He would also write letters to encourage the other patients, using codewords to disguise their contents: “Don Manuel” meant Jesus, “Don Manuel’s mother” meant Mary, and grandfather meant God the Father. St. Josemaría wrote his letters like a grandfather to his grandchildren. In 1937, he moved to hide at the Honduran Consulate; before leaving, he gave the Eucharist to the other refugees wrapped in paper so they could receive without touching it with their hands. Because consulates enjoy diplomatic immunity, they sheltered many Catholic refugees, although they suffered overcrowding and starvation. He would offer Mass every day on luggage cases as an altar, with a crystal glass as a chalice, and with a suit and tie as vestments.
Publish date: 2019 - 2 - 23


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (14)

During the Spanish Civil War, St. Josemaría Escrivá was on the run from the Communists. On August 28, 1936, he hid in the third-floor apartment of a man named Manuel and one of Manuel’s maternal relatives. The troops began searching from the ground floor up and the three men moved up to the rooftop and hid. As the troops neared, St. Josemaría told the relative, “I am a priest. If you wish, you can make a perfect contrition and your sins will be forgiven.” As the relative later recalled, revealing his priestly office was very courageous, for had the troops found them, he could have sold out St. Josemaría to save his own life. St. Josemaría began praying to his guardian angel, encouraged the other two men to do so too, and forgave their sins. They asked, “What will happen if they find and kill us?” He replied, “Then you will go to heaven.” The footsteps neared the door they were hiding behind, then stopped, and turned around. Of all the doors of the apartment, the soldiers neglected to search the one hiding the three men! At another time, St. Josemaría learned that his friend Fr. Pedro had been killed and he wept. Before the war, they had discussed the possibility of being martyred and had agreed that whichever one was martyred first would pray for the other in heaven. A few days before his death, Fr. Pedro said, “Now is the time to study the lives of the early Christians, to know how they worked amidst persecution, obeyed the Church, proclaimed Jesus Christ, prepared for martyrdom, forgave their persecutors. Fr. Pedro was canonized in 2003. Starting from October 1936, St. Josemaría hid in an insane asylum for five months.
Publish date: 2019 - 2 - 16


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (13)

St. Josemaría Escrivá would invite a priest known for being difficult to get along with to lunch every Wednesday. He would flag a taxi for him, order him good food, and prepare conversation topics beforehand. As Wednesdays were dedicated to St. Joseph, St. Josemaría would treat the priest as reverently as he would St. Joseph. St. Josemaría also went to lunch with a medical student, who was similarly friendless. At least he can experience some love from us, thought Josemaría. When the student went to university, St. Josemaría would clean his dorm room for him. From 1936 to 1939, Spain was in civil war; in the Communist-occupied regions, priests and clergy were killed and laity were imprisoned for wearing religious symbols. The penalty for hiding a priest or attending a Mass was death. St. Josemaría sent his students home and went into hiding. Many friends did not want to take him in, and one person was executed because of him; St. Josemaría would henceforth pray for his soul at every Mass. During this period, St. Josemaría had no bread and wine to consecrate, so he would pray a “dry Mass”, saying all the prayers of the Mass except for the consecration. With a fervent heart, St. Josemaría made spiritual communion where sacramental communion was impossible.
Publish date: 2019 - 2 - 9


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A Guide to a Happy Marriage 1

Sr. Cecilia Hong originally dedicated herself to the education field. Later on she shifted her focus to marriage and family counselling. What caused her to make this move? Fountain of Grace invited Sr. Cecilia Hong from the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception to share with us how marriage preparation helps the engaged to build the foundation to a happy marriage.
Publish date: 2019 - 2 - 2


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (12)

In 1935, St. Josemaría Escrivá requested the permission of the Bishop of Madrid to retain the Blessed Sacrament in the chapels of his schools. This was approved and St. Josemaría was ecstatic, telling his friend Pedro that God mustn’t feel lonely or forgotten at his schools. On March 1st, St. Josemaría celebrated a Mass in honour of St. Joseph, welcomed the new students and introduced the newest resident – Jesus. He was devoted to the Eucharist and decorated the Tabernacle with flowers, thinking that they were like kisses to call the mind to the presence of God. In 1936, Spain held an election and the leftist parties won, immediately sparking anti-Catholic persecution: Catholics were killed and churches plundered. Despite the danger, St. Josemaría still openly wore his priestly cassock in the streets, unwilling to hide his priestly identity in case someone needed him to administer the Sacraments. Whenever he encountered dangerous situations, he would pray to Mary for protection. In the few weeks before the Spanish Civil War, he met with Fr. Pedro and discussed the possibility that they too would be martyred. But they both agreed that their friendship would not end with death, that if one of them were killed, they would pray for the other in Heaven.
Publish date: 2019 - 2 - 2


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Resolved to Follow Christ

Originally a Toronto-based physician, Jacqueline was drawn closer to God through Opus Dei. As a response to God's calling, Jacqueline set aside her medical profession and went to Rome in order to pursue a degree in theology.
Publish date: 2019 - 1 - 26


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Fighting Depression: Light in the Darkness

Depression is a common mental disorder. Many people fall into depression without being aware of it. Stanley was no exception. Through an unexpected encounter with God, he found a way out of depression. Stanley shares with us his journey of recovery.
Publish date: 2019 - 1 - 19


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (10)

In February 1933, St. Josemaría Escrivá began to teach catechism to university students. He brought an image of Mary to class which he had found on the floor of an anti-religious place, ripped from a catechism textbook. In a spirit of love and reparation, he dubbed it “Our Lady of the Catechism” and framed it. After class, he took his three students to a chapel for Benediction – ten years later, he described feeling that God was blessing not just those students, but innumerable people of all races. More students came and they began to teach children themselves. In June, he founded a college in a small apartment – there were two classrooms, a reading room, a guest room, a living room, a kitchen, and his own office. He taught law, architecture, math, physics, and languages. While studying a doctorate in law himself, he still found time to teach, correspond by mail, hear Confessions, provide spiritual direction, visit the sick, and pray three Rosaries a day.
Publish date: 2019 - 1 - 19


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (9)

In 1931, St. Josemaría Escrivá served as spiritual director to some Augustinian nuns and would carry their statue of the Child Jesus in his arms. In 1932, the anti-religious Spanish government banned the Jesuit order and the teaching of religion in government schools. Many parents begged St. Josemaría to teach their children catechesis. One of his students, a girl who later became a nun, remembered that he would come twice a week and use pictures as teaching aids. In January, he met a prostitute who repented on her death bed. After giving her Last Rites, he whispered, “Suffering is blessed. Suffering is beloved. Suffering is sanctified. Suffering is glorified.” She repeated these words and died. A month later, he found a stabbed man who wanted to say his confession and on receiving a Rosary, kissed it reverently. Later that year, St. Josemaría visited some Catholic students in prison from an uprising. He exhorted them to continue studying and working, and to frequent Mass and venerate the Blessed Virgin. He also told them to act kindly to the irreligious prisoners and transform them with their good example.
Publish date: 2019 - 1 - 12


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Brother William Ng 2: A Prayerful Life

When it comes to prayers, many people tend to think of rote prayers. But many aspects in our lives can also be tied to prayers. Fountain of Grace invites Br. William Ng, OFM to share with us the Franciscan tradition of prayer, as well as how he integrates prayers with his daily life.
Publish date: 2019 - 1 - 5


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (8)

St. Josemaría started to focus on the matters at Opus Dei. He also started to write down his meditation and issued reflection books. One of the books he has written is called 'The Way'. He also later recruited the first woman member of Opus Dei. St. Josemaría continued to care for the sick people and the needy, and his work has gained many support.
Publish date: 2019 - 1 - 5


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Brother William Ng 1: A Voice for the Vulnerable

Br. William Ng, OFM grew up in a Protestant family. He came into contact with the Catholic faith through a chance encounter and eventually joined the Order of Friars Minor. He seeks to live out the values of St. Francis of Assisi, which focus on fraternity and the minority. Fountain of Grace invites him to share his vocation journey.
Publish date: 2018 - 12 - 29


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (7)

Isidoro Zorzano, an Argentine, was one of the first members of Opus Dei. In 1930, he was unable to find St. Josemaría at home in Madrid and decided to take the streetcar. Suddenly, a force moved him to walk to another street. When he did so, he ran into St. Josemaría. He confessed that he felt God calling him, that he liked working in engineering but that he wasn’t called to be a religious. St. Josemaría explained his work teaching people to sanctify themselves in regular work. Isidoro joined Opus Dei and worked diligently as an engineer. During the Spanish Civil War, Isidoro was able to freely enter and leave Madrid to provide spiritual and material help. He grew sick and surprised many by his patient and joyful endurance until he died in 1943. During the Civil War, bandits attacked religious institutions and newspapers criticized the Church, but St. Josemaría would secret away the Blessed Sacrament in disguise and pray a Rosary for their souls.
Publish date: 2018 - 12 - 29


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (6)

In 1928, God finally answered St. Josemaría Escrivá’s prayer and revealed his mission while he was on retreat. A nearby church bell rang and he clearly saw himself teaching all nationalities and races to attain holiness amidst everyday life. St. Josemaría immediately thanked God despite thinking that, other than the grace of God and a sense of humour, he had nothing. He knew that the best reparation for sin was to do his best in all things. He also practiced self-denial: keeping silent to deny his curiosity, not complaining, not indulging his appetite. In 1930, he realized his mission was also to women and invited women to join Opus Dei. St. Josemaría thought himself useless, so he constantly asked for others’ prayers that he might complete his God-given mission. He also had a bad temper, so he kept a funny picture of his own angry face as a reminder.
Publish date: 2018 - 12 - 22


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Fr. Franco Mella: A Companion of the Marginalized

Fr. Franco Mella, an Italian priest, has been journeying with the most marginalized and vulnerable in Hong Kong. What sustains him in his relentless fight for the persecuted?
Publish date: 2018 - 12 - 15


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Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St Josemaria Escrivá (5)

In 1924, St. Josemaría Escrivá was ordained a deacon and was struck with awe when he first touched the Eucharist, praying that he would not get used to it. In 1925, he was ordained a priest and his family members moved to Saragossa as well. He was sent to serve at a local parish and he prayed with the parishioners, taught catechesis, visited the sick, and heard confession. When he returned to Saragossa, he was given no pay, so he had to find other means of finding money. However, his uncle, a priest, wanted him to disobey his father’s wish that he study law and take up a priestly position to support his family. He was transferred to Madrid in 1927, where he obtained his doctorate in law of Law and administered the Sacraments to local nuns and convincing the most obstinate to repent. That year, his family members joined him in Madrid. In order to support them, he took up a job teaching law. When the other professor told the students that St. Josemaría spent much time helping the poor, the disbelieving students followed him around the poor districts comforting and administering the Sacraments to the poor and sick.
Publish date: 2018 - 12 - 15


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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 (3)

When St. Josemaría Escrivá was 12, his father’s business collapsed and he insisted on repaying all his creditors even while not legally required to. His family became impoverished and he took a job as a clothing shop assistant. His father would go to Mass every morning, was very polite, and respected by all his co-workers. His mother was an excellent housewife who took careful care of the household. From his parents, Josemaría learned to do all things attentively. At school, he got good grades, especially in literature and mathematics. At the time, he did not feel called to the priesthood and wanted to become an architect. His mother taught him how to choose a wife: she should be neither too pretty nor too ugly, or else she would either mislead or scare him. When he was 15, he loved to read the news and pray for religious freedom in Ireland. Before his 16th birthday, he saw some barefoot prints in the snow – they were those of a Carmelite priest. His heart was disturbed – if someone can sacrifice for God, why shouldn’t I do the same? God had chosen him to do something, Josemaría just didn’t know what yet. He began to increase his prayer, attend daily Mass, and receive spiritual direction. He wanted to enter the Carmelite Order but discerned it was not God’s will – he decided to become a diocesan priest. But his father had other plans, so when he told his father, his father wept and said, “You must think this through carefully. But whatever you decide, I will not oppose.” After Josemaría confirmed his decision, his father became worried that no-one would remain to support the family, so Josemaría prayed and soon after, his mother revealed that she was pregnant. In 1919, his little brother was born.
Publish date: 2018 - 12 - 1


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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