Germaine Cousin: Patron of Child Abuse Victims

God works in mysterious ways. He loves the lowly and blesses those humble of hearts. And, Germaine Cousin was a living testimony to that unconditional love. 

God Loves the Little Children

Germaine Cousin was a simple and pious young girl who lived in Pibrac, France. She was born in 1579 to poor parents. Her father was named Laurent Cousin, a farmer. Her mother died when she was still an infant. Germaine was born with a deformed right arm and hand. She was weak and paralyzed. Germaine’s father remarried soon after the death of her mother. Unfortunately, his new wife, Hortense, was filled with disgust for Germaine’s condition. She tormented and neglected Germaine, She even taught her siblings to do so as well.

When Hortense decided to marry Laurent Cousin, it was not out of love for his infant daughter. Germaine was everything Hortense despised. She treated the young girl with cruelty and abuse. Laurent, who had a weak character, pretended not to notice that Germaine had been given so little food, that she had learned to crawl in order to get to the dog’s dish. He wasn’t there to protect her when Hortense left Germaine in a drain while she cared for chickens — and forgot her for three days. He didn’t even interfere when Hortense poured boiling water on Germaine’s legs.

With this kind of treatment, it’s no surprise that Germaine became even more ill. She came down with a tubercular disease called scrofula. This condition causes Germaine’s neck glands to swell up. Sores began to appear on her neck. making her vulnerable to every disease that came along. Instead of awakening Hortense’s pity, this condition only made her despise Germaine more for being even uglier in her eyes.

Germaine received no sympathy and love from her siblings. Watching their mother’s treatment of their half-sister, they learned how to despise and torment her. They put ashes in her food and pitch in her clothes. Their mother found this very entertaining.

Germaine’s Horrible Condition and Her Faith in God

Hortense did finally get concerned about Germaine’s sickness — because she was afraid her own children would catch it. So, she made Germaine sleep out in the barn. The only warmth Germaine had on frozen winter nights was the woolly sheep who slept there, too. The only food she had were the scraps Hortense might remember to throw her way.

Germaine was soon entrusted with the sheep. No one expected her to have any use for education so she spent long days in the field tending the sheep. Germaine suffered so much abuse any other children could not bear. And yet, her response to that abuse is astounding. Instead of being lonely, she found a friend in God. She didn’t know any theology, but only the basics of the faith that she learned from catechism. But she had a Rosary made of knots in string and her very simple prayers:

“Dear God, please don’t let me be too hungry or too thirsty. Help me to please my mother. And help me to please you.”

Out of that simple faith, grew a profound holiness and a deep trust of God. And, she had the most important prayer of all — the Mass. Every day, without fail, she would leave her sheep in God’s care and go to Mass. Villagers wondered that the sheep weren’t attacked by the wolves in the woods when she left. But, God’s protection never failed her. One day, when the rains had swollen the river to flood stage, a villager saw the river part so that she could cross to get to the church in time for Mass.

No matter how little Germaine had, she shared it with others. Her scraps of food were given to beggars. Her life of prayer became stories of God that entranced the village children. But most startling of all was the forgiveness she showed to the woman who deserved her hatred.

The Power of Forgiveness

Hortense, furious at the stories about her stepdaughter’s holiness, waited only to catch her doing wrong. One cold winter day, after throwing out a beggar that Germaine had let sleep in the barn, Hortense caught Germaine carrying something bundled up in her apron. Certain that Germaine had stolen bread to feed the beggar, she began to chase and scream at the child. As she began to beat her, Germaine opened her apron. Out tumbled what she had been hiding in her apron — bright beautiful flowers that no one had expected to see for months. Where had she found the vibrant blossoms in the middle of the ice and snow? There was only one answer and Germaine gave it herself, when she handed a flower to her stepmother and said,

“Please accept this flower, Mother. God sends it to you in sign of his forgiveness.”

As the whole village began to talk about this holy child, even Hortense began to soften her feelings toward her. She even invited Germaine back to the house. But, Germaine had become used to her straw bed and continued to sleep in it. There she was found dead at the age of 22, overcome by a life of suffering.

04B - Saint Germain Fun Facts

Germaine’s Incorruptible Body

With all the evidence of her holiness, her life was too simple and hidden to mean much beyond her tiny village. Until God brought it too light again. When her body was exhumed forty years after her death, it was found to be undecayed — what is known as incorruptible.

As is often the case with incorruptible bodies of saints, God chooses not the outwardly beautiful to preserve but those that others despised as ugly and weak. It’s as if God is saying in this miracle that human ideas of beauty are not His. To Him, no one was more beautiful than this humble lonely young woman.

After her body was found in this state, the villagers started to speak again of what she had been like and what she had done. Soon miracles were attributed to her intercession and the clamor for her canonization began.

In this way, the most unlikely of saints became recognized by the Church. Germaine didn’t found a religious order nor did she reach a high Church post. She didn’t write books or teach at universities. And, she didn’t go to foreign lands as a missionary or convert thousands. What Germaine rather did was to live a life devoted to God and her neighbor no matter what happened to her. And that is all God asks.

St. Germaine was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867 and inscribed into the canon of virgins. her feast day is on June 15.

[This article is a reprint from Catholic.org]

Depression Is A Serious Condition

“For someone suffering from anxiety or depression, saying ‘I’m fine’ is just deflecting the question of how they really are doing.”

depressionDepression is real and a serious condition. It drains the person’s energy and motivation. Oftentimes, we could not detect when someone is suffering from such a condition. They would never readily tell their story. When asked how he or she is doing, the most common answer we would hear from them is, “I’m fine!”. This is because they find it difficult to relate on a deep emotional level with anyone. Not even with those who are close to them.

Nevertheless, let’s be there for the person. The best thing we could do is to be around them and let them feel we are ready to help. We don’t need to give advice, they might only want a compassionate listener. Perhaps, our companionship and support may be all that matters to help them recover.

03B - Depression

Conversation Starter

Let’s not act as if we want to try to “fix” the person’s problems. Our simple gesture of talking with them face to face is already a massive help. Once they are ready to speak, we must assure them of our willingness to listen without judgment.

It can be hard to find the right words to say when talking with a depressed individual. He might feel insulted, react negatively, or ignore our concerns. We may be unsure of how to start the conversation.

That said, let me share some conversation starters with a depressed person. You may say:

“You’re not alone. Know that I’m always here for you during this tough time.”
“Please tell me what I can do to help you.”
“You’re important to me.”

Most importantly, be gentle with the person. Expect that depressed people may sometimes tend to withdraw from others during your initial conversation. But, be persistent anyhow.

Moreover, you must be ready to allot time for a series of conversations. A single session is not enough.

Holy Eucharist Elevation: Its Meaning

A Deeper Understanding of the Mass
by Fr. John Harris
St. Faustina’s Vision of the Sacred Host during Mass
Low Sunday – 28th April 1935

In the Diary of St. Faustina, she records various visions she had of Our Lord in the Sacred Host. Of one vision, she writes,

“Toward the end of the service, when the priest took the Blessed Sacrament to bless the people, I saw the Lord Jesus as He is represented in the Image. The Lord gave His blessing, and the rays extended over the whole world” (Diary 420).

What St. Faustina saw in vision happens each time we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. What she saw in a vision, we believe in by faith.

02A - Last Supper

The Priest Raises the Sacred Host Three Times During Every Mass

During the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the priest raises the Sacred Host three times. When we are aware of these three elevations, we come to appreciate the Holy Mass ever more deeply. The first elevation of the Sacred Host is immediately after the Consecration, secondly at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer when the priest sings “Through Him, and with Him and in Him” and finally the priest holds the Sacred Host before the congregation saying, “Behold the Lamb of God”, which is then presented to each of those receiving Holy Communion personally. Each of these actions teaches us the various aspects of the Holy Mass.

When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to Myself

Jesus told His disciples, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32).

During the Mass, this “lifting up” of Christ is made truly present to us. Each “lifting up” calls us to relive the meaning of the Mass. Each Mass is the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary, the real presence of the living Christ, now in glory in Heaven, and the preparation for the great feast in the banquet of God’s glory in Heaven.

In one of his prayers in honour of the Blessed Sacrament, St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of these aspects of the Holy Mass and the Blessed Eucharist, “O sacred banquet in which Christ is received, the memory of His Passion is renewed, our minds are filled with His grace and we receive a pledge of the glory that is to be ours”.

The First Elevation of the Host

The first elevation after the consecration reminds us that the Mass is the re-presentation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Cross on Calvary now in un-blooded form. Christ on the Cross is lifted up and offers Himself in expiation for all the sins of the world. He is lifted up before the whole of creation as the sacrifice which takes all sins away. His perfect giving of himself to the Father, on our behalf, cancels all the sins of our failure to be open to God and turning away from Him in our human pride.

When the priest lifts up the Sacred Host, we are there present, in the moment of the perfect sacrifice of Christ, as love overcomes evil and mercy flows freely over the whole world. At the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the moment of mercy is present for us in our own time and in the midst of our daily struggles. Christ, in His sacred humanity, offers Himself to the Heavenly Father for us and as the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, Christ offers us in Himself the eternal love of the Father. He is truly ‘lifted up’ so that we can see Christ, the one true mediator between God and man. Before this great mystery of love, we kneel and bow in adoration.

The Second Elevation of the Host

Secondly, at the end of the Eucharistic prayer, again the priest lifts up the Sacred Host, higher now than after the consecration. For now, we are remembering at the Holy Mass is made present not simply the sacrifice of Calvary but also the joy of the Resurrection and Ascension. It is the living Lord Jesus that is present in the Sacred Species. Christ is now in glory and He has, because of his obedience on Calvary, become the Lord of all time and the universe. He is truly Our Lord and God. It is through Him and with Him and in Him that all fitting glory is offered to God the Father. By our response of the “Great Amen” (this is what the Church calls it), we claim Jesus as Lord of our lives and we hand ourselves over completely to Him.

So we should shout out that “Great Amen” at the end of the Eucharistic prayer with great love and trust. In “Great Amen”, we say from the depths of our lives, “Jesus I trust in you as my Lord and God and I give you my life, for you are the Risen Lord now in glory in Heaven”.

The Third Elevation of the Host

Finally, the priest again elevates the Sacred Host at the time of Holy Communion, first of all before the whole congregation when he says “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” and then to each of us as we receive the Blessed Sacrament into our own lives.

This third elevation reminds us of yet another aspect of the Holy Mass which is the hope of the heavenly banquet when we will sit with the Lord in truly holy communion. This is a foretaste of Heaven and heavenly communion. At the sacred banquet in Heaven will come the fruitfulness of the sacrifice of Calvary when all the redeemed in the power of Our Lord’s Resurrection and Ascension will be gathered into the presence of the living and true God and in Jesus be united into the very heart of the Blessed Trinity Himself.

Jesus suffered all so that you and I could enter into the heavenly banquet of the love shared by the Most Blessed Trinity. As we become more aware of the moments of the elevations at Mass, we come to enter more deeply into the celebration and receive ever more graces. For the Lord Jesus is truly “lifted up” for us and for our salvation and is the source of love and mercy for the whole world.

[Source: The Divine Mercy Apostolate]

Quote of the Day: Life’s Purpose

You Are Relevant Just As You Are!

“Everything has a purpose and meaning. Learn the purpose, and you will have the meaning.”

The above quote is taken from the book, Mirrors of Life: What is Your Life in the Mirror? by Neal Owens.

We’re now halfway through 2021. Life is still uneasy, I know. Living in the ‘new normal’ set-up remains a challenge as COVID-19 still hovers. But, come to think of it: the fact that you survived 2020 is one big reason to be thankful. That only means your life’s purpose is unfinished yet! So, don’t allow the pandemic to drag you down this year. Be joyful wherever and whatever life may throw at you. Check out the video below and learn from it.