Thursday, January 17, 2019

Our Lady of Hope

On this day in 1871 the heavens opened at Pontmain in France. Once again, the Blessed Mother gave hope to her children. According to Fr. Mark:
Before the beautiful Lady appeared a blood red crucifix. At the top of the cross, on a white crosspiece, the Name of Jesus Christ was written in red letters. The beautiful Lady grasped the crucifix in both hands and showed it to the children while a small star lit the four candles in the blue oval. Everyone prayed in silence. They sang the Ave Maris Stella. The red crucifix disappeared. The beautiful Lady extended her hands in a gesture of welcome. A small white cross appeared on each shoulder. Everyone knelt down in the snow. A white veil, like a great sheet, covered the beautiful Lady from foot to head. “It’s finished,” said the children. Eleven days later the armistice was signed. The Prussians never entered Laval. (Read more.)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

We Have Seen the True Light

Baptism of Christ by Grigory Gaagarin
The Baptism of the Lord. From Vultus Christi:
Very few Catholics grasp the reality of their divine sonship by adoption. For too many, the great baptismal grace that is divine adoption remains something notional. something vague and, as it were, something obscure in the back of one’s mind. This is why, in every age, God raises up saints, and doctors, and mystics to call us back to what makes Christianity different from every other religion, philosophy, ethical system, and mystical meandering on the planet: divine sonship by adoption. We are, by grace, what Jesus is by nature. All the Fathers taught this. The Doctors scrutinised it and marveled at the divine condescension. Mother Mectilde seized upon this in the 17th century and wrote about it in her letters. Saint Thérèse, Blessed Abbot Marmion, Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity, and the Venerable Itala Mela, all of these were raised up in modern times to say to souls: You are not mere seekers after wisdom, you are not slaves in submission to a remote divinity, you are not keepers of a moral order; you are sons in the Son. This is so stupendous a mystery that many put it aside and prefer to concentrate on things less unsettling.

We bring Thee offerings, O Lord, for the appearing of Thy new born Son, humbly beseeching Thee that, as He is the author of our gifts, so also He may mercifully receive them. (Secret of the Mass) (Read more.)
(Image source.)

Baptism of the Lord

Today in America we are able to celebrate it on the actual day.
And Jesus being baptized, forthwith came out of the water; and lo, the heavens were opened to Him and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him. And behold a voice from heaven saying, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased."
Jesus stoops so low as to mingle with the multitude of sinners, and forthwith the heavens are opened to magnify Him — He acknowledges Himself worthy of the strokes of divine justice, and behold, the Father declares that He takes all His delight in Him: Humiliavit semetipsom... propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum.
It is at this moment that the mission of Jesus, as One sent by God, is declared authentic. The Father's testimony accredits, so to speak, His Son before the world, and hence this testimony relates to one of the characters of Christ's work as regards ourselves. The mission of Jesus has a double aspect: it bears at the same time the character of redemption and of sanctification. It is to redeem souls, and, this done, to infuse life into them. That is the whole work of the Savior.
Christ in His Mysteries by Dom Columba Marmion

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Novena to Our Lady of Hope

From Return to Order:
I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope.
In me is all grace of the way and of the truth; in me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come to me all that desire me and be filled with my fruits. (Ecclesiasticus 24:24-26).
O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Grace, Hope of the world
Hear us, your children, who cry to you!
Let Us Pray
O God, Who by the marvelous protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary has strengthened us firmly in hope, grant we beseech You, that by persevering in prayer at her admonition, we may obtain the favors we devoutly implore. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen. 
Prayer to Our Lady of Hope 
O Mary, my Mother, I kneel before you with heavy heart. The burden of my sins oppresses me. The knowledge of my weakness discourages me. I am beset by fears and temptations of every sort. Yet I am so attached to the things of this world that instead of longing for Heaven I am filled with dread at the thought of death. O Mother of Mercy, have pity on me in my distress. You are all-powerful with your Divine Son. He can refuse no request of your Immaculate Heart. Show yourself a true Mother to me by being my advocate before His throne. 
O Refuge of Sinners and Hope of the Hopeless, to whom shall I turn if not you? Obtain for me, then, O Mother of Hope, the grace of true sorrow for my sins, the gift of perfect resignation to God’s Holy Will, and the courage to take up my cross and follow Jesus. Beg of His Sacred Heart the special favor that I ask in this novena. (Make your request.) But above all I pray, O dearest Mother, that through your most powerful intercession my heart may be filled with Holy Hope, so that in life’s darkest hour I may never fail to trust in God my Savior, but by walking in the way of His commandments I may merit to be united with Him, and with you in the eternal joys of Heaven. Amen.
Mary, our Hope, have pity on us.
Hope of the Hopeless, pray for us.
Say three (3) Hail Marys

Read about Our Lady of Hope of Pontmain, HERE.

St. Andrew Corsini

A thaumaturge of the Carmelite order and a Bishop of the Church. January 9 is his feast on the Carmelite calendar.
St. Andrew was born at the beginning of the fourteenth century in Florence and before his birth, his holy parents offered him to the Blessed Virgin as the first fruits of their marriage.  On the night in which he was born, his mother, Peregrina, had a dream which filled her with alarm.  It seemed to her, as if she had brought forth a wolf, who, fleeing to a church, was changed into a lamb.  This was a picture of what was afterwards to happen to Andrew.  His pious parents employed every care and precaution, to bring him up in the fear of God; but, as too often happens, through the influence of bad company, an immoderate desire of play, and neglect of duty, he fell into the greatest disorders. Dissipation hurried him from one vice to another until he was without affection for his parents,whom he disobeyed without remorse; so that all who knew him were full of apprehension for the future.
Meanwhile, his mother, mindful of her dream, sought consolation from Mary by continual prayer. Andrew, while one day preparing for a party of pleasure, expressed himself to his mother in a very disrespectful manner and she burst into tears and told him the depth of her affliction.  She told him about her dream and that before his birth she had offered him to the Blessed Virgin.  This made such an impression on Andrew that he was unable to sleep during the following night.  The thought that he had been dedicated to the Mother of God occupied his mind.  At that point, he exclaimed "Virgin Mother, because I am thy servant, I will unceasingly serve thee."

The following day, he went to the church of the Carmelites, and prostrating himself before an image of Mary, offered himself up to this merciful Mother, and bade her change this wolf into a lamb. He frequently repeated this prayer and it was heard.  He made great advances in virtue and was subsequently ordained a priest. (Read more.)

(Picture source)

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

St. Peter Thomas

Here is a biographical account of a phenomenal saint, including a prophecy he received from Our Lady: “Peter, fear not, the Order of Carmel will endure unto the end of the world; Elias has obtained this from my Son.” To quote:
. . . . .He was appointed Bishop of Patti and Archbishop of Candia. Charged by Innocent VI with no less than fourteen important embassies, he was sent to the Court of Louis, King of Pouille, to the Emperor Charles IV, and to John VI, Emperor of Constantinople. This City he reconciled to the See of Rome. In 1356, he was sent as Legate to the East and Examiner on questions of faith. In 1360 he anointed Peter I of Lusignan, King of Cyprus and Jerusalem, and the following year the pestilence attacked the Isle of Cyprus. The population were in consternation at the horrors they witnessed; death everywhere and in a horrible form. Peter multiplied himself, and his devotion during the pest has become a tradition in the Order. He was everywhere and everything; consoler, physician, father to the sick, to the dying, and to those who wept and could not die, for death was easier than life amid such scenes. His history would require a large volume, and through all his embassies, missions and legations, we see the humble servant of Our Lady, the Saint, moving obdurate hearts, inspiring heroic deeds, advancing the interests of the Holy See, and shrinking from the honors that were thrust upon him.
In the midst of the splendor of the times and with his rank as Bishop and Legate, he lived simply like his Brethren; went on foot when possible, lived in his own Monasteries whenever he could, though his presence was claimed as an honor by Kings and Princes.

In 1365, he was made Legate and sent to preach the Crusade against the Turks. He blessed the fleets of the Crusaders amid repeated cries of “Live, Peter of Jerusalem!” “Live, the King of Cyprus against the Saracens!” Thanks to his prudence and prayers, the army of the infidels was routed, and the city of Alexandria taken October 4, 1365. As was his wont, after the battle he went at once to the Carmelite Monastery of Famagusta, to remain for the celebration of Christmas. He had been wounded during the siege, by a Turkish arrow, and this was the cause of his lingering death. (Read entire post.)

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Monday, January 7, 2019

Birthday of St. Bernadette

Another French saint born on the Epiphany is Saint Bernadette (1844-1879). During the 1858 apparitions, Our Lady said to fourteen-year-old Bernadette: "I cannot promise to make you happy in this world, only in the next." St. Bernadette had a life of suffering indeed, but it was suffering infused with love. Her childhood was spent in destitution and she was afflicted with a lifetime of bad health. The apparitions intensified her trials. Her spirit was never broken, which is no small victory. As one article says:
What, apart from this bare chronology, can we know about Bernadette Soubirous? One thing is certain: she strove with all her might to fulfill the vocation announced to her by the Virgin at Massabielle-----to do penance, to pray and suffer for sinners. And she did suffer. The Mother Superior at Nevers testified, "It took her an hour to find a bearable position, during which her face changed and she became as if dead. Even when asleep, the faintest movement of her leg made her cry out. Such sharp cries that her companions in the dormitory could not sleep. She shrank to nothing." In fact, she had tuberculosis. Bernadette did not 'enjoy' suffering, though she spoke of it as 'my job'. And she once said, "I pray to St. Bernard, but I do not imitate him. St. Bernard liked suffering, but I avoid it if I can."
Apart from her physical pain, she bore much personal grief. Her mother died early, at forty-one. Her sister Toinette's first child, also named Bernadette, died in February of 1871, to be followed by her father a month later. In fact all five of Toinette's babies died and Bernadette wrote to her: "I like to imagine that dear little group praying in Heaven for us poor exiles on this miserable earth."
Bernadette suffered, too, from the interrogations of religious historians who tried to make her offer elaborate theological explanations for her visions. But she replied, "It is best for people to speak and write very simply. It is more moving to read the Passion than to have it explained."
In the last stages of her final illness, she requested to be left only with the crucifix sent to her by Pope Pius IX. When she became too weak to hold it, she had it fastened to her breast. After her death she was first beatified in 1925 and then canonized as St. Bernadette in 1933.
St. Bernadette suffered greatly at school and later in the convent at the hands of Sister Vauzous, whose jealousy and revulsion for the simple peasant was so great she was unable to contain it. How sad that the saint's greatest tormentor was not a pagan but her own sister in Christ! Too often, we Christians make life miserable for each other; it usually boils down to jealousy, envy and the refusal to forgive. As one biographical account relates:
Acting under the quite unfounded notion that Bernadette's visions and all the attendant publicity might have made the young woman vain or self-important, Sister Marie Therese Vauzous, now novice-mistress at Nevers, was very severe with her former pupil. Although she made life difficult for Bernadette, the little novice met all tests with perfect humility. She cheerfully performed the menial tasks assigned to her, at first in the convent kitchen, although this work must have taxed her strength. Later, when it was noted that her sympathetic manner made her a favorite with sick people, she was appointed assistant infirmarian. Her step and touch were light, and her very presence brought comfort. But during these years, Bernadette was suffering from the chronic disease which was slowly draining her life away. She was finally given work in the sacristy, where cleverness with the needle made her work admired and cherished. She displayed a real gift for design and color in embroidering the sacred vestments. To all tasks she brought a pure grace of spirit and an utter willingness to serve.
Through St. Bernadette's patient endurance many miracles, cures, and conversions occurred. She allowed herself to be an instrument of God, and God used her offering of herself to bring joy and faith to others. We are not all called to suffer in the same degree as a victim soul like Bernadette, but we can each participate in the redemption of the world by uniting our trials with those of Jesus on the cross.
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