She was born blind, without any pupils in her eyes. But at seven years old, through the intercession of her Confessor, Padre Pio, she was then able to see — even without pupils. Her name is Gemma di Giorgio.

On October 13, 1917, as tens of thousands gathered near Fatima in Portugal, a phenomenal occurrence of the sun happened, coinciding with an apparition of Our Lady to three children.

He was once a persecutor of believers, but one day, had an encounter with Jesus that changed the course of his life. He then became the apostle to the Gentiles.

These three stories have one thing in common: they all are miracles. Miracles take on different forms — from signs and wonders in nature, to physical healings, to inner transformations. They supersede the natural realm, and thus are deemed supernatural.

The word “miracle” comes from the Latin word “miraculum,” from “mirari” which means “to wonder.” Miracles are “wonders performed by supernatural power as signs of some special mission or gift and explicitly ascribed to God” (Catholic Encyclopedia).

So what makes something a miracle?

Biblical Scholar John Paul Meier maintains that there are three basic parts that comprise a miracle, namely: 1) It must be an unusual event that can be observed by others; 2) It cannot be explained on a natural level; 3) It appears to be the result of an act of God.

Miracles may come directly through God’s immediate action, or through creatures as means or instruments. Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is an example of the former, while St Peter being delivered from prison through the aid of an angel is an example of the latter.

Today, miracles — especially physical healings — help in determining whether someone can be considered for sainthood. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints is responsible for this, requiring a verification process where the potential miracle has to be instant, complete and without scientific explanation, as well as attributed to the candidate’s intercession.

They then turn over their findings to the Consulta Medica, a board of doctors who scrutinize the reports. Upon declaration that there is no scientific explanation for the cure, a panel of cardinals and priests will come together to verify whether the healing took place because of the candidate’s intercession. Once proven, the incident is declared a miracle.

More than anything else, miracles are signs of God’s presence. They are not just meant for the individual’s welfare; rather, on a larger scale and greater purpose, they are meant to lead people to salvation.

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You find yourself at Mass, and when it’s time to say the Apostles’ Creed, you recite with the rest of the congregation: “I believe in…the communion of saints….”

But have you ever wondered what “the communion of saints” actually means?

Connection. Unity. Family. All these words have something to do with the communion of saints. It is the relationship among members of the Church who share a supernatural bond, with Christ Himself as the Head.

Blessed Pope Paul VI explains it in his “Credo of the People of God,” which is also quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (962):

“We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers.”

There are three states of the Church: 1) The Church Triumphant; 2) The Church Militant; and 3) The Church Suffering.

  • The Church Triumphant. This refers to the saints and angels in heaven who have gained the crown of victory and are experiencing the full light of God’s glory.
  • The Church Militant. This is us, the faithful on earth. We are “militant” because we pilgrims on earth continue to struggle against sin and temptation.
  • The Church Suffering. This refers to the souls in purgatory, who are being purified from their sins and will one day share the eternal joy of heaven.

All these members of the Church are connected to one another and help one another.

  • The blessed ones in heaven pray for the living and the souls in purgatory.
  • The faithful on earth pray to the blessed in heaven and pray for the souls in purgatory.
  • The souls in purgatory pray to the angels and saints, and also pray for the faithful on earth.

Thus, a cycle of spiritual merits and graces flows through the Church, the Body of Christ, a family of love. Now isn’t it great to know that we are part of this family?

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Product Feature Post: Chaplets

I admit it… I hadn’t heard of a chaplet until I was 33. I had no idea what they were. So I know there are many of you who know what a chaplet is, but probably many more who, like me, are continuing to discover many beautiful things about the Catholic Church.

Sometimes things are new to us that are old hat to others, and we think “I’m supposed to know all of this already. Does that mean I’m not a good Catholic?” This is the same question I asked myself when I first came across chaplets. Continue reading Quick Lesson on Chaplets

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It’s human nature. Something incredible happens, people are inspired, spirits are lifted… and then… what?

Most of the time it wanes away.

What of Pope Francis’s visit? His inspiring words challenged us to be better people. But many times we make the mistake of saying “see – people should be better” without actually reflecting on what I can do to help bring Pope Francis’s vision alive.

It’s actually a little uncomfortable to think about. It certainly takes me outside my comfort zone. What can I be doing to follow Pope Francis’s example? Not to duplicate it, but just to move my life a little bit more towards that direction? Continue reading Now what?

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Keep up with the Holy Father’s visit from afar.

For those of us that can’t be on the East Coast for Pope Francis’s 2015 USA visit, here is a list of websites where you can watch all of the events LIVE.

Find the live feed for most events at EWTN and Vatican News.

In case you miss something, live and recorded events at WalkWithFrancis. Continue reading The Ultimate Guide to Pope Francis’ Visit to the USA

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Sometimes I get to the end of my day and realize I wish I had prayed more throughout the day. Even in simple ways like putting intention into my work and being conscience of giving my best work to Him. Here are a few ways to put a little more prayer in your life and help develop the habit of daily prayer.

1. Good Morning to God

A little whisper of thanksgiving to God with your waking breath takes the edge off the blare of the alarm clock. Added bonus:  you start your day with gratitude, which lifts your mood automatically.

2. Singing hymns in the shower

Showers are a great place to sing! Belt out praise and glory in God as you lather up. Think about the words of the hymns that pass your lips and offer it up as prayer. Added bonus: You get to pick your favorite hymns that seem to never get sung at church. Continue reading 7 Simple Ways to Add a Little Prayer to Your Day

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Why is it silver? Why did it look like iron? Who designed it?

It’s not iron (but they thought it was). It’s not gold (but it usually is).

The first time I laid eyes on Pope Francis’ pectoral cross, I remember thinking it was unlike anything else I had ever seen. When the first shipment of crosses arrived at our office, I noted a few different things… the detail, the signature on the back… and the hologram seal?

Turns out, the cross design is copyrighted and the seal makes sure my customers are getting the real deal. But there is so much more behind that story. Continue reading The Story Behind Pope Francis’ Pectoral Cross

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Our diocese recently celebrated our 125th anniversary. The weekend was packed with bishops, speakers, performers and, of course, Mass. My notebook was jammed with notes and so many things I want to remember.

But the main stand-out idea came from Curtis Martin, the founder of Focus. (If you ever have the chance to hear him speak, GO!!) He was talking about lectio devina, prayerful reading of the scripture. The verse he had spent weeks on was from John 1:39 where John tells us the time of day: 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

Why was this time important? Mr. Martin turned this over in his mind over and over until it hit him. John was telling us what time it was when his life changed forever and he chose to follow Christ. Just like I know exactly where I was when I heard my first news report of 9/11. It was John’s “Where were you when…” experience. Continue reading When was your 4:00 Moment?

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In case you missed the coverage of Pope Francis’s Christmas speech to the Curia, here are just a few of the headlines that it produced:

Pope Francis, At Christmas Gathering, Blasts Vatican’s Bureaucrats : The Two-Way : NPR.

Pope warns Curia against ‘spiritual diseases’ | Crux.

Pope issues scathing critique of Vatican bureaucracy in pre-Christmas meeting | National Catholic Reporter.

Pope Francis

This is what I am really loving about Pope Francis. He doesn’t worry about the bureaucracy or playing nice and leaving things as is; If he see something that needs to get fixed, he tells us. Continue reading Christmas Speech by Pope Francis

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The song Hallelujah is one of my all time favorite songs. I first heard it on Jeff Buckley’s album Grace years ago. Since then, I have heard many variations of it performed by a variety of artists from Lenard Cohen (the original writer) to Justin Timberlake, to A-Capella groups and even in the movie Shrek.

However, I just found this version from the group Cloverton. They change up the lyrics (which always had a very spiritual feel to it) to tell the story of Christ’s birth.

Here is their version:

Here is my favorite version from Jeff Buckley

Have a wonderful Christmas season everyone.

-Travis

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