If you love stories of Catholic martyrs and other saints, images of beautiful Catholic cathedrals, or people meeting their long-lost relatives for the first time, then EWTN’s new mini-series, “Polish Catholic” with Fr. Mitch Pacwa is for you! (Airs the week of Feb. 22 at 5 p.m. ET on EWTN.)
Fr. Mitch invites viewers to accompany him on a personal journey of faith as he follows in the footsteps of famous and not-so-famous Catholic martyrs such as St. Andrew Boboula (“his body is incorrupt, you can see the kinds of tortures he went through”); St. Maximillian Kolbe (“whose body was burned to ashes at Auschwitz”); St. Stanislaus of Krakow (“the bishop martyred in a church by the King of Poland because he was fighting for the rights of the poor and for the Church”); St. Faustina (“we got inside her room in the convent”), and St. John Paul II (“we saw the museum that is his house”).
Chapel in the residence of the Archbishop of Krakow, where St. John Paul II lived and where he was ordained a priest.
“We went to all the places of each of these saints except for St. Andrew Boboula because he was martyred in Russia,” said Fr. Mitch. “But we filmed the episode in front of his body in the glass coffin in Warsaw.”
In addition to its martyrs, Poland is known for gorgeous Catholic cathedrals and the series doesn’t disappoint. You will go inside the incomparable Czestochowa Cathedral, aka the Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Family, where Father was able to celebrate Mass; and the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow, where St. Faustina lived.
The square in which the late Pope John Paul II famously addressed the people of Warsaw.
However, one of the more fascinating stories revolves around St. Mary’s Church, where a trumpeter plays a hymn every hour, which ends on a broken note. “They do that because a Tatar shot the trumpeter through the throat while playing a hymn [to warn the people of an impending Mongol invasion] so they still play it like he did in his day,” says Fr. Mitch. “It’s a hymn to Our Lady.” Because of that trumpeter, the city of Krakow was saved!
Father Mitch has been to Poland numerous times, and he knew the mother’s side of his dad’s family. But he had never met the father’s side of his dad’s family. In this series, you will see Father Mitch meet these relatives for the first time!
Some of Father Mitch Pacwa’s ancestors!
“I saw the house where my dad was born. There were about five houses with Pacwas in them! That’s not a common name. The only Pacwas were my relatives.”
Father Mitch shocks his relatives (and us) by revealing that his grandfather on his dad’s side of the family emigrated to the United States to escape the police because he was a murderer!
A cemetery on the grounds on which St. Maximillian Kolbe started a friary with his all important printing presses..
“My mother was pregnant with me when he died of alcoholism so I never knew him,” Father Mitch said. “My relatives had no idea there were these problems. But they told me about my grandfather’s brothers, who had stayed in Poland. Some were killed by Germans during the war. Other members of the family survived, and there was one priest in the family who died just last year. I would have loved to have met him!”
Father Mitch also visits the village of his grandmother, about whom he knew nothing.
A gorgeous Cathedral in Krakow.
Father discovered much of this history by researching his family on ancestry.com. He even found photos of the ships on which his family came to America: His grandfather’s photo was on the register of the SS Furnessia, and his grandmother’s was on the SS Rotterdam.
Father Mitch hopes EWTN’s viewers will check out his new series: “We were able to see how much things have changed in Poland since [the fall of] Communism. This is well worth seeing!”
If you are a fan of travel shows – or simply love visiting Catholic sites where the most amazing miracles have taken place — you won’t want to miss the first of many episodes of “Explore With the Miracle Hunter.” First up: Lourdes! (This new 30-minute program debuts at 6:30 pm ET, Thursday, Feb. 11, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.)
“Lourdes is perhaps the greatest of all the miracle places in the world,” says Writer/Producer Michael O’Neill, who is best known to EWTN viewers for his series, “They Might Be Saints.” (More on this in a moment.) “The Basilica, the wheelchairs and stretchers, the waters, the candlelight procession attended by thousands in normal years. It’s stunning to see.”
In the first episode of “Explore,” O’Neill not only visits the famous Lourdes Basilica and the miraculous waters, but also travels to Nevers, France to see Visionary Bernadette Soubirous’ incorrupt body, and he dazzles us with spectacular drone footage of thousands upon thousands of people honoring Mary in a pre-pandemic nighttime candlelight procession.
That’s not all. As O’Neill walks around Lourdes, and all of the other places on his itinerary this year, viewers will also enjoy exquisite re-creations of apparitions and other miracles. In this first episode, viewers will see St. Bernadette’s visions of Mary.
“People see what happened because of this 14-year-old girl having 18 visions of Mary in 1858,” said O’Neill. “It gives viewers a sense of Catholic pride. People are not traveling right now, so this series is a chance for them to see some of the most sought after and exciting places where miracles took place right from their own couches. Travelers get a hint of what they would experience if they were able to go.”
Future episodes will take viewers to Paray-le-Monial, the site of the Sacred Heart apparitions; San Giovanni Rotondo, home of Padre Pio, the Holy House of Loreto; Lanciano, site of Eucharistic miracles; Rue du Bac, where St. Catherine Laboure received the Miraculous Medal, and many more.
Ven. Bishop Alphonse Gallegos
We would be remiss, however, if we didn’t mention the Miracle Hunter’s other EWTN series, “They Might Be Saints.” The Feb. 20 episode, the third to air in 2021, features Ven. Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, known in Sacramento, California as the Bishop of the Barrio. (Airs 5:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, Feb.20 on EWTN.)
“We have this conception of bishops in their offices and cathedrals, and you never see them except at a Mass,” O’Neill said. “But this bishop went to people’s homes and had dinner with them. He walked around the neighborhood. There was a lot of gang violence. The police would call him in to talk to the [gang members]. He would talk to low riders in their vehicles and encourage them to go to Mass. He was just a spectacular example [of the priesthood].”
Bishop Gallegos has been declared Venerable. This means that based on an examination of all of his writings and speeches, as well as witness testimonies, he is determined to have lived a life of virtue. The Bishop now needs a miracle to be beatified, and a second miracle to be canonized. Although a miracle has been submitted to Rome, the Feb. 20 episode, which airs at 5:30 p.m. ET, focuses on a remarkable cure that wasn’t submitted to Rome because it didn’t meet the requirements of “an instantaneous and lasting cure with no medical treatment.”
The patient, who had some medical treatment, was diagnosed with cancer that was so progressed that the doctors told him he had only two hours to live! However, this man had been one of the Bishop’s altar boys.
“He prayed, his family prayed, they had prayers cards asking for Bishop Gallegos’ intercession,” O’Neill said. “Decades later, this man is cancer free. It’s beyond remission. The cancer is completely gone. We have the testimony of this man talking about his condition. It’s a very emotional thing.”
Next month, O’Neill will present an episode focusing on Ven. Aloysius Schwartz, a priest who served poor orphans in Mexico, the Philippines and Korea and founded two orders.
As the Miracle Hunter tells us: “We have such a supernatural faith. We forget that sometimes. These miracle stories are a great reminder of that!”
November is the month when the Church Militant prays for the Church Suffering, meaning the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Most of us submit the names of loved ones to our parish or a Mass society to be remembered during this month. But ask yourself this:
What else can I do to make a difference for my loved ones who may still be suffering in purgatory?
Besides the Anointing of the Sick, is there anything I can do to spiritually assist a loved one who is dying?
For answers to these questions, I turned to EWTN Chaplain Fr. Joseph Mary. Here’s what Fr. Joseph recommends we do in November:
For the Souls in Purgatory:
November 1-8: You can obtain a plenary indulgence applicable only to the souls in purgatory if you “devoutly visit a cemetery and, at least mentally, pray for the departed.”
(That means you don’t have to pray out loud, but you certainly can!) If you are reading this after Nov. 8, don’t worry. You can still receive a partial indulgence by performing the actions above.)
On All Soul’s Day (Nov. 2): You can receive a plenary indulgence for the souls in purgatory, if you “devoutly visit a church or oratory and recite an Our Father and the Creed.”
Daily in November: Here’s a suggestion Father Joseph was given and really likes – so he is passing it on to EWTN’s viewers. Get out your calendar, and write down the name of a deceased family member or friend that you intend to pray for that day. Offer up everything, good and bad, that happens to you that day, and pray as much as you can for their release, if necessary, from purgatory. This is an important spiritual work of mercy!
At any time, you can gain a partial indulgence for the poor souls by reciting morning or evening prayer from the Office of the Dead, or devoutly reciting the prayer “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”
For Those in Danger of Death:
There are many benefits of working at EWTN. When my husband was dying of cancer, I knew I needed to ask a priest to administer the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. In fact, my husband had been anointed a number of times over the eight years he battled the disease.
However, when EWTN Chaplain Father Joseph Mary visited our home in the days before my husband’s death, he asked my husband if he would like to receive an “Apostolic Blessing.” That’s something I didn’t know about. You definitely want to ask your priest to administer this blessing to a loved one who is dying as part of the last rites, which state, “A priest who administers the sacraments to someone in danger of death should not fail to impart the apostolic blessing to which a plenary indulgence is attached.”
If a priest is not present as a person is dying, and they haven’t previously received the apostolic blessing during that sickness (which would suffice), the Church “grants to the Christian faithful, who are duly disposed, a plenary indulgence to be acquired at the point of death, provided they are in the habit of reciting some prayers during their lifetime; in such a case, the Church supplies for the three conditions ordinarily required for a plenary indulgence” (confession, communion, and prayers for the intention of the pope). In those situations, the Church also commends the devout use of a crucifix.
All of the above has yet another benefit. Father Joseph says that #958 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that our prayer for the souls in purgatory “is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.”
Did you know that? While the Holy Souls can no longer pray for themselves, they can pray for us! Think of the greeting you will get one day when you meet a soul whom you helped obtain release from purgatory! In helping them, we may very well be one day helping ourselves, when they are in heaven and we are not yet there!
(Note: For the LIVING to receive an indulgence we must go to confession 20 days before or after we perform the indulgenced actions; receive Holy Communion, preferably on the day or days we perform the actions; pray for the Holy Father’s intentions; and be unattached to sin. That latter is a tough one, but all is not lost. Since most of us are attached to something, we may receive a partial indulgence rather than a plenary indulgence.)
Every practicing Catholic has at least heard of the Knights of Columbus, but few know that it was founded by a Connecticut priest while still in his 20s – a priest with a heart for widows and orphans, a priest who would become known as an apostle of Christian family life, a priest who would found an organization that was a testament to spiritual brotherhood and charity. In a series of programs this week, EWTN invites you to learn more about this model priest and to watch as Father Michael McGivney becomes America’s newest Blessed.
Coverage begins with the Solemn Mass and Beatification, which airs live at 10 a.m. ET, Saturday, Oct. 31 (with an encore at 8 p.m. ET) from the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford in Conn. (2:30 hrs)
However, you will not want to miss two half-hour specials on Father’s extraordinary life as well as the miracle attributed to his intercession:
“Father Michael McGivney: An American Blessed,” which explores Father McGivney’s life, airs 9:30 a.m. ET, Saturday, Oct. 31.
“A Witness for the World: The Global Impact of Blessed Michael McGivney,” which explores the priest’s vision and impact, airs 5 p.m. ET, Saturday, Oct. 31 and 11 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 1.
Young Michael McGivney’s difficult early years would be essential to his later understanding of his parishioners’ problems and to his vision for solving them. His parents were Irish immigrants – at the bottom of the social ladder. At age 13, the young boy completed his studies and asked to enter the seminary. But, at his father’s behest, he went to work in a factory making spoons. At age 16, he was finally given permission to enter a seminary in Quebec.
However, his father died, and the young seminarian had to move back home to help support his family. Fortunately, the Bishop of Baltimore later arranged for him to complete his studies and McGivney became a parish priest.
Learn how Father McGivney reached out to parish youth; to male parishioners who were being lured away from their faith by the promise of riches; to a young man in prison who would be hanged for shooting a police officer while drunk; and to widows and orphans, going so far as to accept guardianship of a widow’s child so he could stay with his family after his father died. That young child would on day become a graduate of Yale Law School.
But most of all learn how he founded an organization that was able to provide both spiritually, materially and fraternally for his parishioners, an organization that is still impacting millions today – and about the miracle attributed to Fr. McGivney’s intercession.
Father McGivney died of the Asian flu two days after his 38th birthday, which was common for overworked priests in those days. Even before his death, his parishioners considered him to be a saint. Why?
Powered by his deep prayer life, Father McGivney not only preached the faith, but lived it by transforming friends into brothers who were concerned about and who cared for one another. As St. John Chrysostom famously said: “A martyr dies once. A pastor dies daily for his people.”
Don’t miss a moment of this great priest’s story, which will appeal to young and old and everyone in between.
“I who am a Son of the land of Poland and who am also Pope John Paul II—I cry from all the depths of this Millennium, I cry on the vigil of Pentecost: Let your Spirit descend. Let your Spirit descend, and renew the face of the earth, the face of this land. Amen.”
This stirring prayer of Pope John Paul II during his visit to Warsaw in 1979 galvanized the Polish people, who were crushed by Communism and forbidden from practicing their faith, even as it instilled hope in the heart of Lech Walesa, head of a movement that would help topple Communism in his country.
The future St. John Paul II and U.S. President Ronald Reagan were brothers in Christ!
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
In 1987, less than 10 years later, U. S. President Ronald Reagan would deliver words that were equally stirring to the people of Berlin. By the end of 1991, the Berlin Wall, which separated the citizens and families of East and West Berlin, would fall and the Soviet Union would splinter into competing republics. With the smashing of this so-called Iron Curtain, which Pope John Paul II himself had witnessed being built as a child, the Cold War came to an end.
Few know the whole story behind these historic events, events which changed the world. Few know that both the Pope and the President worked together to not only tear down the Wall but to bring down the dictatorship of Communism, which has caused so much misery for so many people.
Authors Robert Orlando and Paul Kengor wrote the bestselling book, “The Divine Plan.”
To remedy this, Authors Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando wrote the bestselling book, “The Divine Plan,” and now they are bringing a beautifully filmed documentary of the same name to EWTN. The 90-minute film airs at 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Oct. 21 and 4 p.m. ET, Thursday, Oct. 22.
“The Divine Plan” dives deep into the pivotal bond between Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan. Just six weeks apart in the spring of 1981, the Pope and the President took bullets from would-be assassins. Surviving strikingly similar near-death experiences, they confided to each other a shared conviction: that God had spared their lives for the purpose of defeating communism.
The film features exclusive interviews with renowned historians, scholars, journalist, and church officials including: Douglas Brinkley, H.W. Brands, Anne Applebaum, John O Sullivan, Craig Shirley, George Weigel, close Reagan adviser Richard V. Allen, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and Bishop Robert Barron.
Behind the scenes of “The Divine Plan” with Bishop Robert Barron.
As a famous actor, we learn that Reagan had personal experience with Communists who were trying to take over the unions in Hollywood. One man even threatened to cut his “movie star face,” which caused him to sleep with a gun.
However, Reagan’s first connection with the Pope came through the evening news, which he was watching with a friend, Richard B. Allen, who would later became his National Security Advisor. Allen says future President was “astounded by the crowd size” and was so “deeply moved by the outpouring of emotion” that he actually “saw a tear in Ronald Reagan’s eye.”
The New York Times would write that while the Pope’s visit to Poland may have inspired its citizens, it didn’t threaten the order of a nation or Eastern Europe. But Reagan saw it differently. It was at that moment that he said to Allen: “We’ve got to find a way to get elected, to reach out to the new Pope and make him an ally.”
And allies they would become. The Pope and the President would meet in person five times over eight years. However, the in-person meetings were only an outgrowth of the letters, telegrams and electronic communications that would go back and forth between them. So deep was their bond that Reagan actually shared classified CIA documents with the Pope, something a leader would only do with an ally. According to the film: “Reagan took the moral aspect of the Cold War more seriously than other American presidents. Others wanted to manage the Cold War. Reagan wanted to win it.”
While both the Pope and President had many problems with Communism, which the film notes was bringing about shortages of food and crumbling factories in the Soviet Union, their two biggest concerns, according to papal biographer George Weigel, had to do with its misreading of human beings and its repression of religious freedom.
“It [Communism] would not acknowledge the inherent dignity and God given value of every individual human life,” Weigel said. “If you don’t get that right, if you don’t get …the idea of the human person right, you are going to make a big mess out of your policy, your society, your economy, your culture.”
Later, Weigel notes that: “Repression of religious freedom is what most bothered both Reagan and the Pope. When you let that genie out of the bottle, you can’t put it back in. … Once a totalitarian state begins to acknowledge one human right, like a tapestry, if you tug hard enough the whole thing will unravel.”
This documentary continues to astound as it reveals the deep spirituality of the two men and even, to a lesser extent of course, Mikhail Gorbachev. The Soviet Leader was another player in this 80s drama, who we discover was secretly baptized as a young child in the Russian Orthodox Church!
Both the Pope and the President delivered their resounding Cold War victories after being shot and disabled. It’s impossible to watch this film and not to be inspired by their courage, their sacrifices and their deep spirituality.
President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan with Pope John Paul II.
Today, less than 30 years after the celebrated fall of the Berlin Wall, the specter of Communism is once again rearing its demonic head around the world. Watch this film and remember that the freedoms many countries of the world now experience were bought at a price and are now in the hands of the citizens of this generation. How will we respond?
EWTN’s new film, “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing II – The Gender Agenda,” examines the origins and depravity of the so-called Sexual Revolution, with its current emphasis on gender dysphoria and homosexuality, and explains how the battle over marriage and family will be won.
The film airs at 10 p.m. ET, Saturday, Oct. 17, and will be preceded at 8:30 p.m. ET by the original “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” documentary, which explores the rise of Marxism in the U.S.
Simone de Beauvoir
The new film begins with Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, whose existential philosophy started a dumbing-down of the culture. But the two-hour program really shines in its exposure of Alfred Kinsey’s fake science and child abuse, which kicked off the Sexual Revolution, and its corresponding assault on marriage and family.
It was Kinsey – with his “research” involving 200 sexual psychopaths, 1400 sex offenders and more – who birthed a man like Hugh Hefner and a woman like Kate Millet, co-founder of the National Organization of Women.
It fact, it is Millet’s sister Mallory, Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, who tells viewers that every meeting of NOW opened with a call to destroy the American family. She reveals that their plan was to destroy both the American Patriarch and the ethic of monogamy by promoting promiscuity, eroticism, prostitution, abortion and homosexuality.
We also learn it was Kinsey’s sex therapists, and Communists such as Bella Dodd (who told Dietrich and Alice von Hildebrand that she helped infiltrate U.S. seminaries with 1,100 Communists), who helped usher in the sex abuse crisis which has roiled the Catholic Church in modern times.
New York Times Best Selling Author Dr. Paul Kengor, Professor of Political Science at Grove City College.
“[Current revolutionaries understand] “what earlier radical movements such as the Communist movement understood, which is that you’ve got to take down God…because religion gets in your way,” says Dr. Paul Kengor, Author and Professor of Political Science at Grove City College.
Fortunately, the film does not leave viewers without hope. The final third of the program transitions to calls from Archbishop Fulton Sheen, St. Louis Marie de Montfort, Fatima Visionary Sister Lucia and others who not only predict what will happen, but show viewers that the way out is actually the way up.
In the film, Archbishop Sheen decries those who, even in the 50s, were tearing down schools, tearing down churches, tearing down teachers, tearing down the government, and tearing down the police. He said: “Can you build anything down?” He says it’s time for our nation to change the words we use. “Let’s begin now to use the word up. Up from all this filth, up from the violence, up from the indifference of course, up, up to God!”
De Montfort says the time will come – or perhaps is already here – when the Lord will raise up saints, devoted to the Blessed Virgin, who will surpass in holiness all the other saints, a word that is meant to both challenge and comfort us.
The current assault is nothing more than “a house of cards,” says Brian Camenker, founder and director of Mass Resistance, a leading nonprofit that provides information and guidance to people who confront the assault on traditional family, school children, and the moral foundation of society. “[And while] it is not permanent…it’s not going to go away by itself. It’s going to take a push and it can either happen now or it can happen in 80 years like the Soviet Union. It’s up to us.”
Over the past couple years, EWTN viewers have enjoyed “Miracle Hunter” Michael O’Neill’s series “They Might Be Saints,” which chronicles the untold story of Americans who are on the path to possible canonization. Now, thrill to his newest show for EWTN: “The Miracles of Padre Pio, which premieres at 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Sept. 23 following a special 8 p.m. ET “EWTN Live” interview with O’Neill.
Michael O’Neill, who recently joined EWTN, talks about his EWTN special “The Miracles of Padre Pio,” which premieres 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Sept. 23.
And that’s just the first of many such shows viewers will enjoy, as O’Neill has recently joined the EWTN Team and will now be producing this type of content exclusively for EWTN. You’ll be able to listen to him on a new radio show called “The Miracle Hunter,” which will premiere at 7 p.m. ET, Saturday, Oct. 3 on the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network. You’ll be able to see O’Neill himself on various EWTN radio and television shows, and you’ll be able to view even more episodes of “They Might Be Saints,” as well as a Dec. 12 special entitled “The Miracles of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
However, the story behind the filming of “The Miracles of Padre Pio,” which airs next week, is as fascinating as the program itself.
“I’ve studied miracles for many years,” O’Neill said. “Three of the all-time best I’ve ever heard of are all in this piece!”
Vera Marie Calandra
Like many people, O’Neill said he was very aware of the supernatural phenomena and miracles attributed to Padre Pio. In fact, he said two of the most incredible interviews of his life occurred at the National Center for Padre Pio in Bartow, Pa. There, he heard the story of Vera Marie Calandra, whose bladder was removed by future U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. In 1968, Calandra was blessed by Padre Pio and her bladder grew back!
He also heard the story of Paul Walsh, who had been irreversibly brain damaged and had slipped into a coma after being in a car wreck. He had a vision of Padre Pio while he was in his hospital bed and was miraculously cured.
O’Neill was aware of all of this the day he arrived in Italy’s San Giovanni Rotondo for the 50th Anniversary Feast of Padre Pio.
“This was before coronavirus, so hundreds of thousands of people were there,” O’Neill said. “I had my summer crew with me and we filmed a bit about Padre Pio.”
However, more than the miracles and the bilocation for which Padre Pio is known, the people O’Neill spoke with at San Giovanni Rotondo were most enthusiastic about the work the famous priest did to build “a very modern and completely Catholic hospital,” which is known as Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza. O’Neill was able to get a tour of the hospital, and to interview some of the doctors and administrators who work there.
Dr. Alfredo Del Gaudio, the Miracle Boy’s surgeon.
O’Neill said to one of them: “I heard the miracle used for Padre Pio’s canonization happened in this hospital. Is there a single person still here who might be able to tell a bit of that story? The woman [I was speaking to] got on the phone, called upstairs, and said to me, “You’re in luck! The doctor who did the surgery that day is here today; he is available right NOW, and he speaks English!”
O’Neill raced upstairs with his camera crew and sat down with Dr. Alfredo Del Gaudio, Chief of the Department of Anesthesiology and Resuscitation, who had an “incredible testimony.” The surgeon said he was operating on Matteo Colella, when he died on the surgery table. He immediately began praying to Padre Pio.
Miracle Boy Matteo Colella’s parents.
Said O’Neill: “The doctor said he gave a heart massage to this patient for one-and-a-half hours. In all of his 20 plus years of medicine, he said he had never seen a patient who has come back to life after that who didn’t have brain damage and other physical malfunctions. The boy’s heart rate was at 0, and it came right back up. When boy came to, he said he had had a vision of Padre Pio himself, who interacted with the boy while he was out. So [the boy] had his own vision of Padre Pio while everyone was praying to Padre Pio, including the surgeon!”
But O’Neill’s interview with the surgeon wasn’t the end of the incredible string of “coincidences” that he experienced that day.
Someone told him they had a connection to the father and mother of the miracle boy and asked if O’Neill wanted their contact information. He texted the mother and said he was only going to be in San Giovanni Rotondo for one day and asked the couple could meet with him. She said she was sorry, but they were very busy that day. Nevertheless, O’Neill said if anything changed to let him know.
“At 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., they called and said, ‘We’re available. If you can come right now, we will tell you about the miracle of our son!”
Again, O’Neill found himself racing to make an interview, this time at the home of the miracle boy’s parents. At that late hour, he even managed to bring an interpreter because the couple only spoke Italian! “Everything fell into place in a beautiful way,” he said.
You truly do not want to miss O’Neill’s beautiful recreations of each of these miracle stories when “The Miracles of Padre Pio” premieres at 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Sept. 23 on EWTN!
Most Catholics know that Martin Luther was a dissident priest who broke away from the Catholic Church to start his own sect as part of the so-called ‘Reformation’. However, as EWTN viewers will learn in the latest episode of “The ‘Reformation:’ Disagreement & Chaos,” the rebellious monk almost immediately lost control of his own rebellion. (Tune in or record this episode which airs 5:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7; and 2:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 8.)
In fact, as one group after another broke from Luther, it soon seemed that the only thing that the different so-called Protestant sects could agree upon was their hatred of the Catholic Church. Among other things, various sects set about replacing Latin with the vernacular, destroying religious imagery, and throwing out cassocks and other religious garb. Most importantly, they denied the Real Presence, which led to Protestants seeing the Mass not as a sacrifice but as a meal or a remembrance.
However, as Director Stefano Mazzeo says, it wasn’t just the different sects that couldn’t reconcile their beliefs. Martin Luther’s own religious beliefs were “a moving target.” At one point, Luther restored the Latin Mass and decided that clergy should wear habits. But later, he rescinded this, and even decided that clergy should marry. In fact, Luther himself married a former nun.
Each sect also had its own interpretation of the Bible, which made the Bible itself a bone of contention. One of Luther’s main competitors was a man named Ulrich Zwingli from Zurich, Switzerland, who decided that “someone” needed to adjudicate these differing interpretations of the Bible and see to it that the one who was “wrong” would be “silenced.” In Zwingli’s view, that someone would obviously not be the Catholic Church. Instead, it would be the Civic Counsel of Zurich.
As EWTN’s own Father Mitch Pacwa points out in this episode: “They [the Zwinglians] put the secular authorities over the Church; the State above God and the Church! … That’s an important lesson for everyone, [especially] Catholics tempted to some kind of watering down of the faith.” Why? Because it led to secularization, especially in Prussia and Scandinavia.
The Protestant sects also banned many pious customs, including praying to the saints, and they destroyed centuries of art, all of which led to fewer visits to church and less prayer. A person who didn’t stop into the Church to light a candle or to enjoy the art, also didn’t take a moment to also pray to God. Luther himself would decry the fact that liberty during that time was being confused with licentiousness, and that morals quickly became worse under Protestantism than they had been, in his mind, under the Papacy.
In fact, Luther was so upset about those who rebelled against Lutheranism that he stated: “Rebels must be killed as you would a mad dog. If you do not kill him, he shall fall upon you and the whole land.”
Zwingli had a similar intolerance for the Anabaptists, a group which rejected infant baptism in favor of adult baptism. Although the Catholic Church is frequently accused of believing in works over faith, she in fact supports infant baptism because she believes that it is Christ who saves. So while the Catholic Church and the Zwinglians agree on infant baptism, they certainly did not agree on Zwingli’s penalty for those who believe in adult baptism. That penalty was death by drowning!
Interestingly, one of the biggest bones of contention between many Protestant sects and the Catholic Church is notion of Sola Scriptura, which contends that the Bible alone is the source of authority and truth. However, as Father Mitch points out, this logically means that somewhere in the Bible this “truth” must be stated. Unfortunately for Protestants, that statement cannot be found in the Bible.
In fact, as 2 Thessalonians 2:15 states: “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” In other words, Catholics hold fast to Scripture AND Tradition.
Another bone of contention is the Catholic belief in the Real Presence, which is based on the words of Jesus Himself in the Bible (John 6: 53-58). If the Bible is the source of authority and truth, you would think Protestants would hold the same view. However, most Protestants either don’t believe in the Real Presence or have a different interpretation of the Real Presence than Catholic do.
Want to understand more about the Protestant break from the Catholic Church and the beliefs of the differing sects, which persist to this day? Then tune in this week when EWTN airs Episode four of “The ‘Reformation.’”
If you love Our Lady and her apparitions to St. Bernadette in Lourdes, France, plan to spend the week of July 13-17 with EWTN. Each weekday, tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET for the premiere of an EWTN original five-part mini-series “Lourdes with the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word.” This is an incredible and exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the famous Lourdes Shrine as you have never seen it!
Then, at 4 a.m. ET, Thursday, July 16, you can either turn on EWTN television or log onto EWTN’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ewtnonline) for “Lourdes United in Prayer” e-pilgrimage, which includes a one-hour special at 9 a.m. ET, and continues for 15 hours throughout the day with a full slate of Masses, Eucharistic Processions, rosaries and more in five languages. (For more information, please go to www.ewtn.com/friars.)
You’ll be more prepared for the spiritual experience of “Lourdes United for Prayer” if you tune into the mini-series with Father Joseph Mary Wolfe and Father John Paul Mary Zeller, two of EWTN’s favorite friars, for the mini-series. The lushly filmed 30-minute specials were filmed in high definition during a glorious week in Lourdes this past August.
EWTN’s Director of Studio Operation Stephen Beaumont (filming the friars), also took many of the photos in this blog post. Peter Gagnon, EWTN Vice President of Programming and Production, directs.
Your faith will be strengthened as the friars explain what it’s like to enter the healing baths at Lourdes; interview Dr. Alessandro De Franciscis, head of the Lourdes Medical Bureau, who explains how doctors determine if a miracle has occurred; discuss Mother Angelia’s own experience at Lourdes after her cerebral hemorrhage, and so much more.
“There are 70 officially investigated and approved miracles, but 7,000 people have claimed to have received a cure from Lourdes,” says Fr. Joseph. “Lourdes receives 30 to 35 claims of cures annually, but Dr. De Franciscis believes the number is much higher because most people don’t report the cure.”
Dr. De Franciscis takes EWTN’s friars – and you – behind the scenes of the famous Shrine where they attend the staff’s morning prayer session, takes the friars on a tour of the area in which records of medical cures are kept (they are now in the process of digitizing them), and shows them the book visiting physicians sign in the event their expertise is needed. Two of the signatures in the book are of special interest.
“One was Gianna Molla; the other was Giuseppe Moscati!” said Fr. Joseph said. “Both of them visited Lourdes [during their lives] and signed the book.” And now they are recognized as saints!
Father John Paul and Father Joseph praying in front of the remains of St. Peter Julian Eymard, a champion of our Eucharistic Lord. Miracles at Lourdes frequently happen during Eucharistic processions in addition to the grotto baths!
The friars also visit the Paris chapel where the remains of St. Peter Julian Eymard are interred. Says Father Joseph: “One of the reasons we wanted to go is because the miracles of Lourdes happened in other ways. One major way was in Eucharistic processions. Once they started, more miracles started taking place through the blessing of the Blessed Sacrament.”
For Fr. Joseph, Fr. John Paul, and the EWTN crew, a highlight of the trip was the opportunity to go into the baths themselves.
Peter Gagnon, EWTN’s Vice President of Programming and Production, works behind the scenes as Fr. Joseph and Fr. John Paul discuss their experience in the baths at Lourdes!
“It was very cold – very, very cold – but it was worth it!” Fr. Joseph said. “You leave there and you just feel renewed. The cold water does that, but it’s more than that. As one person described it, you feel like you are being wrapped in the mantle of Mary because you are surrounded by the water. Immediately after that, we went across the river to a covered area with candles to talk about what we experienced. Behind us, you can see people waiting to go into the baths.”
The Lourdes countryside!
Fr. Joseph said one of the more recently approved miracles involves Sister Luigina Traverso, a 30-year-old Salesian nun, who was completely paralyzed. She asked her superior if she could go to Lourdes because she was unable to do her job, which was to teach children.
“During the Eucharistic procession, she felt this warmth go through her body,” Father Joseph said. “She was completely healed!”
While not everyone who goes to Lourdes is physically healed, Father Joseph says everyone who goes there with an open heart receives something.
“They receive a healing of the heart. Instead of being anguished by the trials they are going through, they receive a greater acceptance or understanding of suffering in their lives, a greater peace. There is strong sense of Mary’s motherly presence there.
“In Lourdes, you are not loved for what you do, you are loved because you exist,” Father continues. “People in wheelchairs are first in line. They are the front line of the Candlelight Procession and the Eucharistic procession. They are the people of honor.”
In the final episode, the friars discuss Mother Angelica’s trip to Lourdes after her cerebral hemorrhage. “Raymond [Arroyo] relates this story in his biography of Mother,” said Fr. Joseph. “She had hoped to be cured so she could get back to work, but what she received in Raymond’s mind was an even greater understanding and acceptance of the value of suffering, which we discuss.”
Fr. Joseph said he can attest to the fact that not all cures at Lourdes are reported. While it’s not included in the series, Fr. Joseph relays the story of EWTN’s own Director of Acquisitions John Elson and his wife Claudia. Lourdes “works” because of volunteers and a decade ago John and Claudia spent a week doing just that. They also prayed that Claudia would conceive. Six months later, the Pius VI Institute in Omaha, Nebraska called the couple to ask if they would be willing to move up the date of a planned surgery to help make this happen. Guess what the date of the surgery was? Feb. 11, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes! The couple now has a beautiful 10-year-old son named Joseph. Miracle? You decide!
As many viewers know, it was at Lourdes that Mary first proclaimed herself to be “the Immaculate Conception.”
“During the very first Baltimore Council of all the U.S. bishops in 1846, the bishops unanimously voted to put the United States under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception,” Father Joseph said. “The dogma wasn’t proclaimed until 1854; Lourdes didn’t happen until 1858! Pope Pius VI granted them permission to place the U.S. under her patronage. It’s why we have the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.”
Father said knowing the United States is under the care of Our Lady under the title of the Immaculate Conception can provide hope for our hurting world.
“I think one of the things that can give us heart is that we are under her patronage and, in these trying times, we can look to her. She really is our mother. She brings help and healing. That’s what you experience in Lourdes. That’s what we hope our viewers will too. She who is without sin can help our country in this time. Maybe this series is a way to renew that [consecration].”
Feeling in need of a lift? Tune into EWTN television all next week for your daily behind-the-scenes dose of inspiration at Our Lady’s famous shrine in Lourdes, and log onto EWTN’s Facebook page Thursday, July 16, for the “Lourdes United in Prayer” e-pilgrimage for a special day of devotions.
Said Fr. Joseph: “Hopefully, the content will inspire people and give them hope at this time in our history.”
Near the end of his Mother’s Day homily on Sunday, May 10, Fr. Joseph asked EWTN viewers to send flowers to Our Lady during the month of May. However, there was a catch. Each flower had to represent one rosary. The next day, Father John Paul reiterated the message.
As EWTN viewers know, a veritable tsunami of flowers now surround a beautiful statue of Our Lady, sprawl across the floor around the altar in Our Lady of the Angels Chapel in Irondale, Ala., and flow into an adjoining room known as St. Michael’s Hall. The flowers are affectionately being called “Mary’s Garden.” The catch seems to have deterred no one.
The avalanche of flowers has proved to be a blessing not only to EWTN and its viewers, who get to enjoy the amazing sight during each Mass, but to florists and many others across the local area and beyond.
From the first day, viewers from around the country, and in some cases the world, began calling Birmingham, Alabama area florists and ordering anywhere from three flowers to several dozen flowers – almost all of them roses, which are associated with the rosary and Mary. That same day, Father Joseph began hearing from local florists whose pandemic-ravaged businesses have benefited by these orders from across the country,
“Yesterday, shortly after the morning Mass broadcast by EWTN, the flower shop was inundated with calls from all over the country,” said Shirley Carmack of Shirley’s Florist in Trussville, Ala. in a post on her shop’s Facebook page which was shared by the Trussville Chamber of Commerce. “Father Joseph asked the faithful followers of EWTN to send roses to the Virgin Mary. We have honestly spoken to people from every state in our nation. After closing my shop due to the coronavirus, this was a true blessing to me, Robin Monteabaro, and our employees. Our bills will be paid and we will make payroll because a man of God told the world to do this. I’m sure God told him to do this. Prayers are answered, maybe not the way we expected, but they are answered. Every small flower shop in the Birmingham area has been blessed this week. Thank you Eternal [Word] Television Network!”
In a follow-up interview, Carmack said she had received 100 orders averaging $50 apiece. “It was like Valentine’s Day,” she said. “We were flabbergasted to be honest. We lost so much business due to COVID-19. I pray daily for my business to survive this. We’re financially sound, but I don’t care how healthy your business is, no weddings for four to six weeks is detrimental – and not just to us, but also the growers and the third-party wholesalers. This was a blessing for a lot of people. It all trickles down.”
Cameron Pappas of Norton’s Florist said his shop fielded 500 phone calls on Tuesday alone – at least 200 of which were attributable to EWTN viewers. He said he typically receives 50 to 60 boxes of flowers twice a week, but that after Mother Day, the flower farms that supply U.S. florists had run out of their usual assortment.
“But they DID have roses so we got 20 boxes of roses and five of other stuff. It’s a God thing [since that’s what EWTN viewers were ordering]! The people who were calling had no idea what a blessing, what an impact it had on our company. It’s just amazing how God works!”
Dorothy McDaniel of Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market said that 40% of U.S. flower shops closed their doors during the 2018 financial crisis and many are anticipating that a significant number of smaller florists will close their doors due to the coronavirus. While Mother’s Day was good for McDaniel, she said all of her events from March through June have been cancelled. Fortunately, that blow has been softened by the 150 orders she has received in less than a week from EWTN viewers.
It appears that it may not be just florists who will benefit from the attention this brought to the Birmingham area.
“One lady wants to make a pilgrimage to EWTN,” McDaniel said. “She asked me if there were any nice B&Bs in the area because she doesn’t like big hotels. Another gentleman said when things calm down they are going to come visit the chapel [and they will need a place to stay.]”
All of the florists commented on how inspired they were by the faith of EWTN’s viewers.
“Everybody included cards to Mary,” said Shirley’s Florist’s Carmack. “They prayed with us. They witnessed to us over the phone. It was just unbelievable. A more devout group I’ve never known. It was so heartfelt, so full of love. It’s not all about the money, although money is good to keep us going. But it’s such a feeling of being a part of something that big, that makes such a difference in people’s lives.”
McDaniel, who is not Catholic, said a conversation with one caller inspired her to look up the message of Our Lady of Fatima, whose feast was celebrated May 13. The feast commemorates Our Lady’s appearance to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, in which Our Lady called for prayer and fasting in order to attain peace and the end of the Great War (World War I). McDaniel said she found it “very relevant to what we’re going through today.”
But McDaniel was also inspired by the viewers themselves.
“I can’t begin to tell you how meaningful this experience has been to me. Just to talk to these people from all over the country who felt so deeply this message that Fr. Joseph and Fr. John Paul sent out. It really did touch me. Obviously, this was important to a lot of people. At a time when hope is so important, it gave them hope.”