It’s a common question, often frightening or mysterious to think about.
This week, Angela Santana hosts Fr. Moses of Jesus Pillari, of the Mission of Divine Mercy religious community based in New Braunfels, for a candid discussion on ‘the last things,’ God’s mercy, and the visions a certain saint received of heaven, hell, and purgatory.
Join us this Solemnity of All Souls (or Dia de los Muertos) to learn about these important subjects. We hope it will give you faith, courage, and renewed hope.
Our regular hosts, Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox, are off for the next couple of weeks; The Pilgrim Center of Hope is leading a pilgrim group to Marian shrines in Europe from October 31 to November 11. Join them spiritually by clicking on the link for the ‘Spiritual Pilgrimage’ listed in the bullets below.
Sounds great! How can I participate in this program?
South Texans can tune into Time Warner Cable channel 15 or radio 89.7 FM – and anyone can listen online by clicking the LISTEN LIVE button on CatholicismLive.com from 8pm – 9pm Central Time!
Submit questions / comments using the form on CatholicismLive.com or call during the program: (210) 734-5371
More information related to this episode of Catholicism Live!:
- Official Website of The Mission of Divine Mercy
- More about the message of Divine Mercy
- Read the Diary of St. Faustina online
- Spiritual Pilgrimage with the Foxes to Marian Shrines of Europe
‘Saint’ of the Week: Blessed Theodore Romzha (November 1)
A young Bishop killed at the age of 36. Theodore Romzha — whose canonization cause was introduced on 8 November 1997 — is one of the multitude of witnesses to the faith who paid with their lives for their fidelity to Christ and to the Church during the blood-stained 20th century and were victims of the insane ideologies that sought in violent and treacherous ways to uproot the faith from European history.
The Carpathian region of Ukraine was the scene of dramatic events in the last century. Until 1918 the area belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It then became part of Czechoslovakia until it too fell under Stalin’s heel in 1944. The Greek Catholic Church in Transcarpathia was relentlessly persecuted and in 1949 was officially suppressed.
The young Byzantine-rite Bishop of Mukachevo, Theodore Romzha, found himself living in a critical period. Shortly before the arrival of the Red Army, he wrote: “The frontier between Uzhorod and the Soviet Union is only 60 kilometres away…. Whatever will be will be. My goal is to do my apostolic work precisely among them. I have no intention of running away…. Besides, it would be no disgrace if they were to kill me. To die for Christ is to live for eternity.”
When the Red Army arrived in Uzhorod, the Bishop received a courteous visit from the commander, who “reassured” him about the future and even invited him to speak at the celebrations for the anniversary of the Russian Revolution. The Bishop’s text was obviously prudent: he thanked the Lord for the end of the war and exhorted the people to pray for a stable and lasting peace. The Soviets however were dissatisfied and had a doctored version of his speech published in the papers. This was the go-ahead for systematic persecution. Churches were occupied and assigned to the Orthodox. Priests were arrested. Bishop Romzha was asked to make a declaration supporting the regime. He refused and was summoned by Generals Petrov and Mechlis to account for his actions. Mechlis, who represented the Soviet power, shouted in his face that now was the moment to break with the Pope. Romzha firmly replied “no”.
Two laws were enacted: one on the freedom to change religion without formalities, and the other on the confiscation of Catholic parish property. Romzha tried to prevent the situation from deteriorating, but since even speaking to priests was becoming more and more difficult for him, he undertook by horse and buggy a general pastoral visit that lasted over a month.
The situation was not easy. The Soviets tried to convince certain priests to let themselves be arbitrarily named Bishops on condition that they collaborate. They received only scornful refusals. On 29 June 1945 Carpathian Ukraine was annexed to Soviet Ukraine. The situation deteriorated. But the more the regime tightened its grip, the more Bishop Romzha insisted on his pastoral missions. The last straw was the celebration of the Assumption attended by 83,000 pilgrims. Only 3,000 were Orthodox; the other 80,000 were Catholic. This was too much, and the Soviets did not tolerate it: they decided to ambush the Bishop as he was returning from one of his pastoral visits.
The account of his assassination reads like the script of a B-grade horror film. On 27 October 1947 the Bishop was returning from Lavki, where he had consecrated a church. He was accompanied by two priests and two seminarians. On the road between Cereivitsi and Ivanovtsi, a lorry filled with soldiers and police drove into the buggy at high speed, with the obvious intention of knocking it over and passing off the Bishop’s death as an accident. The horses died instantly. The buggy was smashed to pieces. But Romzha and his companions survived the accident unscathed. Then the soldiers, armed with iron bars, attempted to finish the job: they kept hitting them until they appeared unconscious and were then left for dead. Some passersby later came to their rescue and took them in very serious condition to the Mukachevo hospital. The priests and seminarians were discharged after a while, but Bishop Romzha stayed in the ward since his injuries were more serious.
As the days passed his condition improved. But the Basilian Sisters who were nursing him were suddenly dismissed and replaced with a “trusted” nurse of the regime. It was she who gave him the coup de grâce on 1 November 1947 by poisoning him with gas. He died saying: “O Jesus…”.
In a short time there was almost nothing left of the Ukrainian Church. Five Dioceses, 10 Bishops, 3,500 priests 1,000 sisters and 500 seminarians, along with schools, newspapers and publishing houses all vanished into nothing. Four million faithful were deprived of pastors.
Theodore Romzha carried out an intense mission for 36 years. He was born in 1911 at Veliky Bychkiv in Transcarpathia. He grew up in the complicated reality of that land. Born in Hungary, he became a Czechoslovak citizen and died under the Soviet regime. He saw his country’s name change at least five times.
After studying at the secondary school in Chust from 1922 to 1930, he was sent to the Pontifical German-Hungarian College in Rome to study at the Pontifical Gregorian University. On 7 September 1934 he was transferred to the Russicum, while continuing his studies at the Gregorian. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Evreinov on Christmas Day 1936 in the Basilica of St Mary Major.
At the Pontifical German-Hungarian College he “changed places”, practically speaking, with Alojzije Stepinac, another persecuted Pastor and martyr. Stepinac had come to Rome in 1924, was ordained a priest on 26 October 1930 and celebrated Holy Mass at St Mary Major on All Saints Day. After completing his studies, Stepinac returned to Croatia in JuLy 1931.
Theodore Romzha also returned home after completing his studies and hoped to be able to return to Rome for further study. In 1937 he was drafted into military service in Prague, since the Eparchy of Mukachevo was located in Czechoslovakia. After experience in several Transcarpathian parishes he was appointed spiritual director at the seminary and professor of philosophy. On 24 September 1944 he was consecrated Bishop in the cathedral of Uzhorod by the Apostolic Administrator, Miklos Dudas. Latin-rite Bishop Janos Settler of Satu Mare, Romania, and Bishop Istvan Madaras of Kosice were ordained with him. His episcopal mission began at that moment: three years into the tragedy of the Second World War.
Blessed Theodore Rumzha, pray for us! Click to read his autobiography and other writings.
Biography adapted from L’Osservatore Romano, via EWTN.
Pearl of the Week: The Mission of Divine Mercy – Mission la Divina Misericordia
The Mission of Divine Mercy is a monastic, contemplative religious community based in New Braunfels, Texas. Their property, called Mission la Divina Misericordia, consists of several acres of beautiful, peaceful hill country near Canyon Lake.
The Mission is intended to be a peaceful place of prayer, devotion, and community.
Currently, the Mission is conducting a campaign to draw support for their desire to erect a monastery for the community to live on the property, a sanctuary for worship, and retreat center for all who wish to be renewed in God’s mercy there on the property.
Visit their website to…
- View an excellent video about their ministry and history.
- See schedule of Masses, Confessions, devotions, retreats, and other programs available to you at the Mission.
- Submit your prayer requests to the community.
- Learn about becoming involved with the family of the Mission community.
- and Support making the Mission’s dream of a monastery, sanctuary, and retreat center a reality.
The Mission of Divine Mercy
1531 Indian Chief Trail
New Braunfels, TX 78132
**UPDATE: Upcoming event at the Mission: “Morning of Prayer for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.” There are three possible dates you can catch this event – Saturday, November 12, 2011 in Spanish – or Wednesday, November 16, 2011 in English – or Saturday, November 19, 2011 in English. See the flyer for details: (English) (Spanish)