(This prayerful, devotional walk through her, our church was written by Claire in her last days. It is our privelege to share it.)

St. Boniface Church, The Treasure Within

by Claire Susbauer Rohan

Holy Water at the Entrance to the Church Angel with Holy Water

Holy water is mentioned in the Old Testament, however, somewhere around the year 120 AD, the sixth Pope, St. Alexander (115-125A.D.) decreed that Holy Water (blessed water) should always be kept in the places of worship and in the homes of the faithful for the purpose of driving away Lucifer and the other bad angels. To this very day Catholic Churches keep Holy Water at all of their church doors. If there is no Holy Water chances are that you are not in a Catholic Church. It seems to me very proper that a good angel hold the Holy Water since it is an object of terror to Satan and his minions and which sanctifies (makes holy) everything it touches. Holy Water is a sacramental, and like the sacraments derives its supernatural power from the suffering of Christ, in His tears, in His blood, in His humiliations, in His death; the merits, of which are applied to certain objects by the power of the priesthood. If the Sign of the Cross is prayed devoutly, upon entering church, ones venial sins are forgiven. It is best to have our soul sparkling in the state of grace, free from all venial sin upon receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord in Holy Communion. Our souls first entered into the sea of grace at Baptism in water. With Holy Water let us renew our Baptismal promises in the Name of Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Many centuries ago, before the printing press, few people knew how to read, but they loved to look at pictures and statues, particularly of Saints. An artist could not write the name of the Saint beside the picture because no one could read it anyway. So they made every Saint have a little something that was always in his or her picture or statue so that every one could tell who it was. It was usually like a kind of riddle for people who couldn't read. For example, St. Lucy has two eyes on a plate, because it is with our eyes that we see the light and the name Lucy means light. This refers to a legend in which Lucy's eyes were put out by Diocletian as part of his torture. It concludes with God restoring Lucy's eyes. So, statues and pictures of St. Lucy have three things in them; eyes, a sword (she was killed with a sword), and a palm leaf signifying martyrdom. Palm Sunday calls to mind the Martyr of Martyrs. Lilies signify the purity of virginity. Those who study the Lives of the Saints will find that they can get pretty good at identifying them in unnamed statues and paintings.

In the 0ld Testament the Holy of Holies represented heaven, and since the gates of heaven were closed there existed two gold statues of angels in adoration of the tabernacle wherein God, in the person of the Holy Spirit dwelt. This suggested to the Hebrews that the only inhabitants of heaven were God and angels. Now, as we know on Good Friday, at three o'clock Our Divine Savior Jesus Christ died on the cross and at that moment the enormously thick curtain separating the Holy of Holies tore apart, ripped in two, making it very clear that the gates of heaven were indeed open to men of "good will". The Catholic Sanctuary symbolizes heaven which is now peopled. The statues of the angels and of the saints suggest visually what is in fact a supernatural reality. Let us look at some of the saints of St. Boniface Church:

Saint Boniface, St. Boniface Patron saint of Germany, Feast Day June 5

St. Boniface is to Germany what St. Patrick was to Ireland. St. Boniface was born in 680 AD in England. He went to Rome to obtain the Pope's blessing on his mission to Germany. St. Boniface destroyed temples of idols and built churches on their sites. He once chopped down a huge oak tree which was dedicated to the false god Jupiter, he then used the wood to build a church which he dedicated to St. Peter. Because of this incident, you will always see an axe at his feet. St. Boniface eventually became a bishop and established many dioceses in Germany.

Saint Catherine of Siena (see Cross with Saints picture below, second right from Jesus) Feast Day, April 30

St. Catherine was born in the year 1380 AD, the youngest of twenty-five children. When she was six years old Our Lord appeared to her in a vision. She prepared herself very early with fervent prayer and penance for the special work Our Lord wanted her to do. Catherine took care of the sick and poor and often worked all day in the hospital. She acquired leprosy from one of her patients but later was miraculously healed. Catherine was so devoted, unreservedly to God that her whole body seemed to be transformed, so as to have no life of her own, but only that of the soul. The Blessed Sacrament was frequently the only food she took for weeks on end. So complete was her union with Christ that she received the impress of the sacred stigmata and with them the most excruciating pain. She was given the gift of miracles and she was lavish in using them for the benefit of her fellow creatures. Our Lord granted St. Catherine a vision of seeing a soul in the state of grace.

St Catherine died at age thirty-three, having lived the same number of years as our Savior, she breathed forth her pure soul into the hands of God and went to continue in heaven her ministry of intercession for the church she loved so much on earth and for souls redeemed in the precious blood of her Divine Spouse. She is one of the greatest saints. Ask her to pray the Mass with you and intercede for you.

The Soul in the State of Grace - Catherine of Siena was permitted by God to see the beauty of a soul in the state of grace. It was so beautiful that she could not look on it; the brightness of that soul dazzled her. The blessed Raymond, her confessor, asked her to describe to him, as far as she was able, the beauty of the soul she had seen. St. Catherine thought of the sweet light of that morning, and of the beautiful colours of the rainbow, but that soul was far more beautiful. She remembered the dazzling beams of the noonday sun, but the light which beamed from that soul was far brighter. She thought of the pure whiteness of the lily and of the fresh snow, but that is only an earthly whiteness. The soul she had seen was bright with the whiteness of Heaven, such as there is not to be found on earth. " My father," she answered. "I cannot find anything in this world that can give you the smallest idea of what I have seen. Oh, if you could but see the beauty of a soul in the state of grace, you would sacrifice your life a thousand times for its salvation. I asked the angel who was with me what had made that soul so beautiful, and he answered me, "It is the image and likeness of God in that soul, and the Divine Grace which made it so beautiful."

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus (see Cross with Saints picture below, third right from Jesus) called "The Little Flower," Feast day, Oct. 1

St.Therese is called thus because she loved the Infant Jesus,and like a child did little things to please God. Born in 1873, she was educated by Benedictine Nuns of Lisieux, France. She entered the Carmelite Order at the age of 15. On her deathbed she said, "I do not intend to remain inactive in heaven. I wish to go on working for the Church and for souls. I wish to spend my heaven in doing good upon earth." When Therese was dying she pressed the crucifix to her heart and said "God, I love you." Mary Frances Therese Martin was canonized in 1925, and in 1927 was proclaimed patron of the missions. To St. Therese "little things" were what mattered. Let us never be annoyed by the little problems and sufferings, but offer them to God as acts of love. The favors obtained by the faithful through her intercession are without number.

St. Joseph St. Joseph Feast day, March 19

The close association of St. Joseph with the Christ Child and with His Immaculate Mother is so evident in the Gospel narrative that the Church delights in paying him high honor. It is written; "give honor where honor "is due." In modern times the Church accorded St. Joseph a veneration called protodulia, that is higher than any given to Angels and Saints, except for Mary who receives a veneration called hyperdulia. Of course, the highest type of veneration is worship and that is given to God only who is infinitely above any creature. His is called dulia. Good St. Joseph, savior of Our Savior, and just as he was protector of the Christ Child, he is protector of the Mystical Body of Christ, His Church. By proclamation of Pius IX, St. Joseph is "Patron of the Universal Church." St. Joseph is invoked as the patron of Christian homes, and of a happy death (as he had both Jesus and Mary at his deathbed, we hope for the same). He is the model of domestic virtues and of honest labor and the exponent of humility, justice, faithfulness and charity. As Joseph of the Old Testament protected the grain which would save Egypt during years of famine, so St. Joseph guarded Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, the Food which brings salvation to mankind. The following words are attributed to St. Joseph during the Holy Family's painful hour of flight into Egypt; "Even if we should have nothing else, we shall always have everything, because we shall have Him".

The Apostle John: (next to Jesus in Cross with Saints picture below) Mary, the Mother of God, is always seen at the right hand side of the cross, while on the left hand side stands John, the Apostle and Evangelist. St. John's feast day is December 27, the "Beloved Disciple" who sat next to our Lord at the institution of the Eucharist, stood faithfully at the foot of the cross when the other Apostles had deserted Christ, and accepted from Jesus the care of our Lady when addressed with the divine words; "Behold thy Mother," St. John is the author of the fourth Gospel, the Apocalypse and three of the New Testament Epistles. (A total of five books: could he have written in memory of the five wounds of Christ?)

The fourth Gospel is represented in art by an eagle, whose soaring flight recalls the lofty beauty of St. John's writing. On the sixth of May we celebrate a feast which commemorates an unsuccessful attempt to take St. John's life by immersing him in boiling oil. He outlived the other Apostles and died at an advanced age. Although as I understand, his remains have never been found.

Mary, Mother of God Mary

Blessed Mary, Mother of Jesus and of the Mystical Body of Christ, His Church. Mary, the second Eve (Eve meaning "mother of all"); Ave, Maria. "Now a great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars." Rev. 2:1, The sun, that is Christ, the moon, the Church; all changeable things of this world under her feet, and the twelve stars with which she is crowned; her doctrine being delivered by the twelve apostles and their successors. "Powerful indeed are the prayers of a holy person." James 5:16. Since Mary was the holiest person who ever lived and in addition to being Jesus's Mother, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Church, Queen of Angels and Saints and Heaven and Earth, Dispenser of Grace, her prayers are phenomenally powerful. Mary even prays for people in mortal sin, so let us all pray the rosary fervently and daily.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Sacred Heart Feast day, Oct. 17

Born in France in 1647, St. Margaret Mary became a Visitation Nun at the age of twenty-three. She had been granted visions of the mysteries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and before her death in 1690 promoted devotion to. the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Nine First Friday Devotions have saved countless souls from damnation. Children should be encouraged to avail themselves of these rich mercies while they are still innocent and in the state of grace. (I give this devotion my personal endorsement as I believe with all my heart that this is what saved me from an unprovided death.)

Faithful Catholics consecrate to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the spirit of reparation, the First Friday of each month. Jesus himself made the following promises to St. Margaret Mary in favor of those who practice and promote this devotion.

I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
I will establish peace in their homes.
I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all in death.
I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy.
Tepid souls shall become fervent.
Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart shall be exposed and honored.
I will give the priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart, never to be effaced.
I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in my disgrace nor without receiving their Sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

St. Anthony (middle), St. Mary Magdalen (bottom), St. Francis (top) Saints

Saint Anthony of Padua: Feast day June 13, 1195-1231 AD. St. Anthony was a great follower and friend of St. Francis of Assisi. Anthony too, renounced his wealth to become a poor Franciscan. Unlike St. Francis who was a brother, St. Anthony became a priest and brought many sinners back to God by his example and by his preaching. In the town of Montpelier an incident occurred while teaching a course in theology, a book of commentaries on the Psalms disappeared. The loss of this volume caused Anthony much grief until it was returned. This is thought to be the origin of the popular devotion whereby his intercessory prayers are very powerful in recovering lost items. (could this be the book the Christ Child is sitting upon?) If you want your prayers answered it is always helpful to find some one close to God, that is someone who is holy, either in heaven or earth, who experienced similar needs. These people seem to pray especially well. (Since I have had cancer I have noticed that my prayers for other cancer stricken patients are very intense and fervent) Thus we have patron saints for this and that due to their earthly experiences. This is another great advantage of learning the Lives of the Saints so that one can take advantage of their powerful intercessory abilities. You might want to pray the Litany the of Saints sometime before Mass.

"One day, when St. Anthony was praying in his room, the Infant Jesus appeared to him, put His little arms around his neck, kissed him. This wonderful favor was given because he kept his soul free from even the smallest sin. He holds a lily due to his perpetual purity. You will notice that some orders of religious have bald heads. Since humility is the opposite virtue of pride many monks would shave their heads in an attempt to climb the ladder of perfection. St. Anthony is the patron of poor and of lost articles."

St. Mary Magdalene is known as the Sinner, and represents all sinners at the foot of the cross. You will notice in Scripture where ever she is mentioned she takes the lowest position whether she's perfuming Jesus' feet, listening to Him at Bethany, or with Him at the foot of the cross. The next time we venerate the crucifix, like Mary Magdalene, let us kiss His feet and plead for mercy. Mary Magdalene spent the remainder of her life in prayer and penance for her sins. Feast day July 22.

St. Francis of Assisi: Feast day Oct. 4, 1182-1226
St. Francis is one of the most popular and universally loved saints. When his mother was about to give birth to Francis, a stranger suddenly appeared at the door and announced that if she wanted everything to go well for hereto go to the stable. She did and consequently gave birth to St. Francis in a stable. St. Francis renounced his wealth; "if one is to be rich in heaven, one must be poor on earth." Through intense prayer, penance, and holy poverty he learned to imitate Christ so closely he regained the condition of Adam in the garden of Eden. Thus, as he passed along, the flocks would welcome him, the fishes would follow his boat in the water; the birds would gather round him and joyfully obey him. And why? Francis drew all things to himself because all things drew him to God. The Pope granted St. Francis the privilege to start a new religious order, the Franciscans. One evening while in prayer, St. Francis had a vision in which he saw Jesus hanging from the cross. The marks of the five wounds, of Jesus were left in his hands, his side, and his feet for the remainder of his life. He is the first in church history to receive the honor of the stigmata. Hence forth many were to follow. This is a phenomena that exists only in the Catholic Church. There have been at least four hundred documented cases. The late Padre Pio was a stigmatist for fifty years, look closely at the statue and you will see the marks of the stigmata on St. Francis. The Christmas tradition of the crib was introduced by St. Francis! St. Francis is the Patron Saint of Catholic Action and Animals.

"It is Christmas Day, December 25, 1223. Francis wants to relive Christ's birth. He orders that a crib be made in the forest. Side by side there is a live ox and an ass. At midnight, at the stroke of the bells, friars and town folk flock to the wood. Francis serves Mass as a deacon. He sings the holy Gospel. At the words, "and the Word was made flesh," a miracle takes place. The Infant Jesus appears in His divine splendor in the arms of Francis. Everyone is struck with wonder. They all kneel and adore Him."

Alpha and Omega

The Base of the Altar: Notice the Greek letters at the bottom of the Altar. Rev .22:13 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End," the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.

The candles on the Altar: The number seven represents a complete work - in other words, perfection.
The equation on the altar is 3+1+3=7. The six candles represent six of the seven sacraments. The tabernacle contains the Holy Eucharist which of course, is "The Sacrament". The seven sacraments were prefigured in the 0ld Testament by the lamp stand of the seven lights just outside the Holy of Holies, in the Holy. The candelabrum was made from purest gold, was six feet high, Christ's stature. An interesting point here is that in the Jewish ceremonial rituals this middle light was never lit, foreshadowing the promised Messiah who would be the Light of the World. For this reason, when presented in the Temple, Simeon took the child Christ in his arms, and filled with the Holy Spirit, burst forth into the prophecy and poetry written in this candelabra:

Now thou dost dismiss thy servant,
0 Lord, according to thy word, in peace;
Because my eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared,
Before the face of all peoples,
A Light to the revelation of the Gentiles,
And the Glory of thy people Israel.

Incidentally, when Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper, Jesus, who is the Lamb sat between six candles which brings us to that same equation; three candles + The Light + three candles = seven, and seven Sacraments.

The Tabernacle: In Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit rested in the tabernacle over the Ark of the Covenant between two status of angels in adoration. Notice the two angels in similar adoration of Jesus Christ hidden in consecrated bread locked inside our tabernacle. Notice how the angel on your left has her hands folded together. Now during the middle ages, Europeans, when acknowledging their earthly king, held their hands in this manner, fingertips pointed in the direction of their earthly king, who in return clasped his hands around his subjects hands. It is fitting that when we pray to our Heavenly King that we give the same respect and acknowledge Him as our King of Kings. This is an act of worship. Notice the angel on the right has her hands folded and crossed over her heart. This is an ancient prayer position and frequently seen in old paintings. It is said that Our Blessed Mother had her hands crossed over her heart while in prayer at Midnight when the Angel Gabriel made the Annunciation. Exactly nine months later at Midnight, Dec. 25, Jesus was born and thus, the Midnight Mass) Notice the tabernacle door, the chalice and host inscribed with IHS, which is Greek for Jesus. Sometimes thin veils are used to suggest that what is covered is precious.

You might find it helpful to meditate on the following: In Bethlehem (House of Bread) Mary placed Jesus in a manger (French word meaning "to eat"), this being the first Mary-Christ-Mass. In the Gospel of John, Chapter 6, verses 25-71, Jesus gives His discourse on the Bread of Life. Take note that Chapter 6:66 (this is the mark of Satan) mentions those who did not believe in the Bread of Life "who followed Him no more." This is the sum and essence of our faith, this is what the scriptures mean; "to believe in Me."

Cross with Saints Cross with Saints

The steps leading up to the altar remind us of the hill of Calvary. The crucifix above the altar reminds us that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the same as the Sacrifice of the Cross. The Mass is Calvary continued and is worth as much as the sacrifice of our Lord's life, sufferings and death. At the hour of our death, our greatest consolation will be the Masses that we have gone to. (Notice above the cross the Sacred Heart of Jesus.) Now, what actually takes place during the Offertory at Mass is a touching of heaven and earth which is suggested by the architectural design of the spires, a reaching up to the heavens. Immediately after the offertory we recite the Our Father, and if you look closely at this prayer again a touching of heaven and earth takes place. The Our Father consists of seven petitions; the first three to the triune God and the remaining four for our earthly needs, "Our daily bread." This is not the bread that goes into the body, but the bread of eternal life, that supports the life of the soul. So, this brings us to the greatest treasure: The Holy Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament.

References: Comprehensive Catholic Commentary by Fr. Leo Haydock, How Christ Said the First Mass by Fr. James Meagher DD, The Liturgical Year (15 vol.) by Abbot Gueranger 0SB, Sixty Saints for Boys and Sixty Saints for Girls by Joan Windham.

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