October is a month of giants in the church as well as for the shrine.
October begins with the commemoration of St. Thérése of Lisieux and ends with All Hallows Eve, the night of spirits who do not so much haunt streets as inspire hearts. Spread throughout the month is the feast of: Francis of Assisi, who rebuilt the church and inspired centuries of holy souls; Teresa of Avila, mighty doctor of the church and reformer of the Carmelites; Anthony Claret, missionary, founder, archbishop of Cuba, and chaplain to the Queen of Spain; Simon, Jude, and Luke, apostles and evangelist; Ignatius of Antioch, one of our earliest bishops, a martyr in Rome; Margaret Mary Alacoque, Visitation contemplative, who with her Jesuit friend Claude La Colombière bequeathed the Sacred Heart devotion to the church.
October is also special for the shrine. The shrine celebrates the feast of St. Thérése in a special way since the Monastery and the Church were originally dedicated to St Teresa of the Child Jesus, the patroness of the missions. But as divine providence intervened, Mary Our Mother of Perpetual Help became the patron of the shrine.
The whole month of October is also special for the shrine as it is Rosary month. During the whole month, the rosary is recited daily at the shrine. During the rosary, there is a meditation on the life of Mary especially about the lessons that we can derive from her life for us today.
On October 4th the shrine celebrates the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.with a blessing of animals. After the morning mass, some devotees bring their beloved pets–dogs, cats, hamsters, bird, turtles and others for the blessing. This began in 2005. Since then it has become a yearly tradition in the shrine.
A big day in October is the celebration of the feast of St. Gerard Majella on October 16th. St. Gerard was a Redemptorist brother who despite being always frail in health was so passionate in giving all his time and talents to the poor and in prayer to God. He is the patron of pregnant mothers and children. After the morning mass, there is a blessing of pregnant mothers and children and the distribution of medals of St. Gerard for free.
We are grateful for the shining example and legacy the saints have left us. In spite of their human weakness and shortcomings, they were able to fully maximize their potentials in service to God and to others. This offers us hope that we too we can become saints if only we freely open ourselves to God’s power in our lives. As Matthew Fox said:
“Saint applies to each of us. All who are attempting to imitate the Christ in their lives merit the title of ‘saint.’ Some do it more fully than others and are willing to let go of more to get the job done.”