There are angels around us;

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Jan 15, 2011, 1:59:30 PM1/15/11
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There are angels around us;
Look close and you may see
That the ones you least expected
Are the ones that they may be.
--Joan Stephan


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January 15th - St. Ita of Limerick, Virgin
(Also known as Deirdre, Dorothy, Ida, Ide, Meda, Mida, Ytha)

Died c. 570. Saint Ita is the most famous woman saint in Ireland after
Saint
Brigid (f.d. February 1), and is known as the Brigid of Munster. She
is said to
have been of royal lineage, born in one of the baronies of Decies near
Drum in
County Waterford, and called Deirdre.

An aristocrat wished to marry her, but after praying and fasting for
three days
and with divine help, she convinced her father to allow her to lead
the life of
a maiden. She migrated to Hy Conaill (Killeedy), in the western part
of
Limerick, and founded a community of women dedicated to God, which
soon
attracted many young women. She also founded and directed a school. It
is said
that Bishop Saint Erc gave into her care Saint Brendan (f.d. May 16),
who would
become a famous abbot and missionary (though the chronology makes this
unlikely). Many other Irish saints were taught by her for years. For
this
reason, she is often called "foster-mother of the saints of Ireland."

Brendan once asked her what three things God especially loved. She
replied,
"True faith in God with a pure heart, a simple life with a religious
spirit, and
open-handedness inspired by charity."

An Irish lullaby for the Infant Jesus is attributed to her. Saint
Ita's legend
stresses her physical austerities. The principle mark of her devotion
was the
indwelling of the Holy Trinity. Like other monastic figures of
Ireland, she
spent much time in solitude, praying and fasting, and the rest of the
time in
service to those seeking her assistance and advice.

She and her sisters helped to treat the sick of the area. Many
miracles are also
attributed to her including one in which she reattached the head to
the body of
a man who had been decapitated, and another that she lived only on
food from
heaven.

Although her life is overlaid by much unreliable material, because she
has been
so popular and her "vita" was not written for centuries, there is no
reason to
doubt her existence. There are church dedications and place names that
recall
her both in her birthplace and around her monastery. She is also
mentioned in
the poem of Blessed Alcuin (f.d. May 19), and her cultus is still
vibrant
(Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Montague, Riain, Walsh,
White).


------------ An extract from the entry on St. Ita in Edward Sellner's
"The
Wisdom of the Celtic Saints."

Ita (also Ite or Ide) is, after Brigit, the most famous of Irish women
soul
friends. Her hagiographer even describes her as "a second Brigit." A
sixth-century abbess, Ita founded a monastery in Country Limerick at
Killeedy
(which means Cell of Church of Ita). She came from the highly
respected clan of
the Deisi, and her father, like Brigit's, was resistant to her
becoming a nun.
After gaining his permission, Ita left home and settled at the foot of
Sliabh
Luachra, where other women from neighbouring clans soon joined her.
There she
founded a monastic school for the education of small boys, one of whom
was
Brendan of Clonfert. She evidently had many students, for she is
called the
"Foster-mother of the Saints of Erin."

Ita's original name, some claim, was Deirdre, but because of her
thirst (iota)
for
holiness she became known as Ita. This quality may have been what drew
so many
women to join her monastery and families to send their sons to her.
Ita wanted
her students to become acquainted with the saints as soul friends.
Besides her
mentoring, Ita is associated with competence in healing and with an
asceticism
that an angel had to warn her about.

Ita died in approximately 570. Her grave, frequently decorated with
flowers, is
in the ruins of a Romanesque church at Killeedy where her monastery
once stood.
A holy well nearby, almost invisible now, was known for centuries for
curing
smallpox in children and other diseases as well.

Ita's Qualities as a Child, and the Fiery Grace of God

Ita was born in Ireland of noble lineage, that is, of the stock of
Feidhlimidh
Reachtmiher, by whom all Ireland was supremely ruled for many years
from the
royal fort of Tara. He had three sons, Tiacha, Cond and Eochaid. Ita
was born of
the people called the Deisi, and from her baptism on she was filled
with the
Holy Spirit. All marvelled at her childhood purity and behaviour, and
her
abstinence on the days she had to fast. She performed many miracles
while she
was yet a small child, and when she could speak and walk she was
prudent, very
generous and mild toward everyone, gentle and chaste in her language,
and
God-fearing. She consistently attempted to overcome evil and always
did what she
could to promote good. As a young girl she lived at home with her
parents.

One day, while Ita was asleep in her room the whole place seemed to be
on fire.
When her neighbours came to give assistance, however, the fire in her
room
seemed to have been extinguished. All marvelled at that, and it was
said that it
was the grace of God that burned about Ita as she slept. When she
arose from her
sleep, her whole appearance seemed to be angelic, for she had beauty
that has
never been seen before or since. Her appearance was such that it was
the grace
of God that burned about her. After a short interval, her original
appearance
returned, which certainly was beautiful enough.

Ita's Dream and the Angel that Helped Discern Its Meaning

Another day when she went to sleep, Ita saw an angel of the Lord
approach her
and give her three precious stones. When she awoke she did not know
what that
dream signified, and she had a question in her heart about it. Then an
angel
appeared to her and said, "Why are you wondering about that dream?
Those three
precious stones you saw being given to you signify the coming of the
Blessed
Trinity to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Always in your sleep and
vigils the
angels of God and holy visions will come to you, for you are a temple
of God, in
body and soul." After saying this, the angel left her.

Ita's Desire to be Consecrated to Christ, and her Parents' Resistance

Another day Ita came to her mother and announced to her the divine
precepts the
Holy Spirit had taught her. She asked her mother to seek her father's
permission
so that she might consecrate herself to Christ. But her father was
defiantly
opposed to what she desired. The request was also very displeasing to
her
mother, and when others added their petitions, Ita's father vehemently
refused
to give
permission. Then Ita, filled with the spirit of prophecy, said to all:
"Leave my
father alone for a while. Though he now forbids me to be consecrated
to Christ,
he will come to persuade me and eventually will order me to do so, for
he will
be compelled by Jesus Christ my Lord to let me go wherever I wish to
serve God."
And it happened as she had predicted. This is how it came about.

Not long afterward, Ita fasted for three days and three nights. During
those
days and nights, through dreams and vigils, it became clear that the
devil was
waging several battles against Ita. She, however, resisted him in
everything,
whether she slept or watched. One night, the devil, sad and grieving,
left Ita
with these words: "Alas, Ita, you will free yourself from me, and many
others
too will be delivered."


Saint Quote:
Consider seriously how quickly people change, and how little trust is
to be had
in them; and hold fast to God, who does not change.
-St. Teresa of Avila

Bible Quote
Of the fruit of his own mouth shall a man be filled with good things:
but the
soul of transgressors is wicked. 3 He that keepeth his mouth, keepeth
his soul:
but he that hath no guard on his speech shall meet with evils.
(Proverbs
13:2-3)


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Saint Anthony, Liberator of Prisoners

Dear St. Anthony, I am imprisoned by walls of selfishness,
prejudice, suspicion. I am enslaved by human respect and
the fear of other people's opinions of me. St. Anthony,
Liberator of Prisoners, tear down my prison walls. Break the
chains that hold me captive. Make me free with the freedom
Christ has won for me. To your powerful intercession I also
recommend these intentions. (Name them.)

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