Sunday, October 19, 2014

The North American Martyrs

The bravest of the brave. One of the best online accounts I could find was here:
Members of the Society of Jesus who dedicated themselves to the conversion of the American Indians took Christ’s words very literally. They journeyed from Renaissance France to the frontiers of North America that they might preach and baptize. After pouring the saving waters of Baptism on a dying Indian child, Saint John de Brebeuf, the great pioneer of this mission, exclaimed with joy, “For this one single occasion I would travel all the way from France; I would cross the great ocean to win one little soul for Our Lord!” And so pleased was God with the genuine zeal and the extraordinary sacrifices of these Jesuit apostles that He bestowed upon Father Brebeuf and seven of his fellow missionaries the glorious crown of martyrdom. The following is the incredible tale of the Eight North American Martyrs.

The Society of Jesus had been founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola during the turbulent times following the Protestant Revolution. By the dawning of the seventeenth century the Jesuits had won renown as zealous missionaries and ardent defenders of the Catholic Faith.

The Order was still at the peak of its power, prestige, and holiness when a new mission field began to unfold. France, eldest daughter of the Church, was beginning to colonize North America, and the vast untamed regions of the New World were inhabited by pagan natives who had never before been evangelized. (Read entire post.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Oblation of Saint Thérèse

On June 9, 1895, at the Carmel of Lisieux, Saint Thérèse made the Act of Oblation to Merciful Love. In her autobiography she said: "I received the grace to understand, more than ever, how much Jesus desires to be loved." Instead of offering herself as victim to the justice of God, as did other religious, taking upon themselves the "punishment reserved for sinners," Saint Thérèse decided to offer herself as a victim to the Merciful Love of God. She asked to be consumed as a holocaust in the fire of the Sacred Heart, in order to console that Heart and save souls. "Fire transforms all things into itself, " the saint wrote in her Act of Oblation. "I know that the fire of love is more sanctifying than the fire of Purgatory."
 
With her Act of Oblation, Saint Thérèse did not expect sufferings to go away. "I wish to suffer for Love's sake and for Love's sake even to rejoice...I will sing always, even if my roses must be gathered among thorns...." In a letter to her sister Celine, she explained: "The burden of our song is suffering. Jesus offers us a chalice of great bitterness. Let us not withdraw our lips from it, but suffer in peace. He who says peace does not say joy, or at least sensible joy....Do not think we can find love without suffering...."

Through her Oblation to Merciful Love, Saint Thérèse gained a deep insight into her Carmelite vocation. "I understand that love embraces all vocations, that it is all things, and that it reaches out through all ages, and to the uttermost limits of the earth, because it is eternal....In the heart of the Church my Mother, I will be love." She prayed that after her death she be allowed to "return to earth" to keep saving souls. She said: "I want to spend my heaven doing good upon earth."

"You will look down from Heaven, will you not?" asked her sister when Saint Thérèse was mortally ill. 

"No," replied the dying young woman. "I will come down." Another time she said: "After my death, I will let fall from Heaven a shower of roses." On September 30, 1897, in great mental and physical agony, the twenty-four year old nun, gasping for breath, proclaimed: "I do not regret having surrendered myself to Love." A few hours later, her last words were: "My God, I love You."

The miracles which followed her death took the Church and the world by storm.

(All quotations are from the book Soeur Thérèse of Lisieux, The Little Flower, 1912)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Novena to the Little Flower

It begins today. Here are some lovely recommended prayers:
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus,
Please pick a rose for me
From the heavenly gardens
And send it to me
As a message of love.
O little flower of Jesus,
Ask God today to grant the favors
I now place with confidence
In your hands.
(Mention your specific requests)
St. Therese, help me to always believe, As you did, In God's great love for me, so that I might imitate your "Little Way" each day. Amen


O Glorious St. Therese, whom Almighty God has raised up to aid and inspire mankind, I implore your Miraculous Intercession. You are so powerful in obtaining every need of body and spirit from the Heart of God. Holy Mother Church proclaims you 'Prodigy of Miracles... the Greatest Saint of Modern Times.' Now I fervently beseech you to answer my petition (mention here) and to carry out your promises of spending Heaven doing good on earth...of letting fall from Heaven a Shower of Roses. Little Flower, give me your childlike faith, to see the Face of God in the people and experiences of my life, and to love God with full confidence. St. Therese, my Carmelite Sister, I will fulfill your plea 'to be made known everywhere' and I will continue to lead others to Jesus through you. Amen

Friday, September 19, 2014

Our Lady of La Salette

Our Lady wept at La Salette on September 19, 1846. It was roughly two years before another wave of revolutions would sweep across Europe, breaking down the structures what was left of Christendom. Once again, France was the site chosen by heaven for messages of supreme importance for the world. Taking God's name in vain and violating the Lord's day were not regarded as small matters by the Mother of Jesus. The Blessed Virgin spoke to two peasant children in the Dauphiné province in terms that they could understand, as the following shows:
'If my people do not obey, I shall be compelled to loose my Son's arm. It is so heavy I can no longer restrain it. How long have I suffered for you! If my Son is not to abandon you, I am obliged to entreat Him without ceasing. But you take no heed of that. No matter how well you pray in the future, no matter how well you act, you will never be able to make up to me what I have endured on your behalf. I have given you six days to work. The seventh I have reserved for myself, yet no one will give it to me. This is what causes the weight of my Son's arm to be so crushing. The cart drivers cannot swear without bringing in my Son's name. These are the two things which make my Son's arm so heavy.'
The Lady then went on to speak about the coming punishments for these sins of Sabbath breaking and blasphemy, including crop blights and famine, at one point switching from French, which the children did not understand perfectly, to the local patois. Then she spoke to Maximin alone, imparting a secret to him which Mélanie could not hear, before turning to her to give a secret that Maximin likewise could not hear. Presently she again spoke to both saying that if the people were to be converted then the fields would produce self-sown potatoes and the stones become wheat.
She then asked a significant question: 'Do you say your prayers well, my children?' They replied that they hardly prayed, and she told them they should say at least their morning and night prayers, before continuing: 'Only a few rather old women go to Mass in the summer. Everyone else works every Sunday all summer long. And in the winter, when they don't know what else to do, they go to Mass only to scoff at religion. During Lent, they go to the butcher shops like dogs.'
She then asked the children if they had ever seen spoiled wheat and when both replied that they had not, the Lady reminded Maximin that he had once seen it when on a visit to a nearby hamlet with his father; he then remembered that what she had said was true. Finally the Lady spoke to them in French: 'Well, my children, you will make this known to all my people,' before moving forward between them. She went on a few yards and then re-emphasized her message to them without turning around: 'Now, my children, be sure to make this known to all my people.'
Sources: Jaouen, A Grace called La Salette; Beevers, The Sun Her Mantle.
Here is a book about La Salette in which Louis XVII is mentioned since one of the pretenders approached Maximin, hoping for validation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

St. Albert of Jerusalem

Albert, by the grace of God, Patriarch of Jerusalem, to his beloved sons, Brocard and the other religious hermits who live under his obedience, near the fountain of Elias, on Mt. Carmel, health in the Lord, and the blessings of the Holy Spirit.
Thus opens the primitive Rule of St. Albert, one of the four great Rules of the Roman Church. Written for the early Carmelites, it is the shortest of all the Rules, because minimal attention is placed on material things and the affairs of the world. The heavenly strivings of the Hermit Brothers of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel are thereby emphasized. St Albert's exhortations on solitude, silence, poverty, obedience, fasting, and manual labor are all well-supported by his thorough knowledge of Sacred Scripture. Although the Rule was written for the hermits, its charism can be lived by any who seek to live a life of contemplation, even amid the cares of this world. The heart of the Rule is that the Carmelite should be "meditating day and night on the Law of the Lord, and watching in prayer." Is not our striving for interior recollection an attempt to mirror this precept?

St. Albert of Vercelli, an Italian by birth, was sent to Palestine by Pope Innocent III because his wisdom and diplomacy were needed in that turbulent region. As the Latin Patriarch, St. Albert gained the respect of the eastern Christians and even of the Moslems. As an Augustinian Canon of the Holy Cross, St. Albert knew the religious life first hand. Between 1206 and 1210 he composed the Rule for the Carmelite hermits. On September 14, 1214, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, St. Albert was stabbed to death by a disgruntled, immoral cleric whom he had deposed. St. Albert's feast on the Carmelite calendar is September 17.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Novena to Our Lady of Mercy

I ask whoever is able to join me in this novena to Our Lady of Mercy, also known as Our Lady of Ransom, for the women and girls who are enslaved by ISIS. The novena begins today and ends on September 23. September 24 is the feast of Our Lady of Ransom, a feast especially dedicated to the deliverance of the enslaved and unjustly imprisoned.
Blessed be Thou, O Mary, the honor and the joy of Thy people! On the day of Thy glorious Assumption, Thou didst take possession of Thy queenly dignity for our sake; and the annals of the human race are a record of Thy merciful interventions. The captives whose chains Thou hast broken, and whom Thou hast set free from the degrading yoke of the Saracens, may be reckoned in the millions. We are still rejoicing in the recollection of Thy dear Birthday; and Thy smile is sufficient to dry our tears and chase away the clouds of grief. And yet, what sorrows there are still upon the earth, where Thou Thyself didst drink such long draughts from the cup of suffering! Thou alone, O Mary, canst break the inextricable chains, in which the cunning prince of darkness entangles the dupes he has deceived by the high-sounding names of equality and liberty. Show thyself a Queen, by coming to the rescue. The whole earth, the entire human race, cries out to Thee, in the words of Mordochai: “Speak to the King for us, and deliver us from death!” (Esther 15: 3)
(State your request here)
Let us Pray. O God, Who through the most glorious Mother of Thy Son wast pleased to give new children to Thy Church for the deliverance of Christ's faithful from the power of the heathen, grant, we pray Thee, that we who affectionately honor her as the Foundress of so great a work, may, by her merits and intercession, be delivered from the slavery of sin and the eternal flames of Hell. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the Unity of the Holy Ghost, One God, forever, unto ages of ages. Amen.
(Source)

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Holy Name of Mary

On September 12, the fifth day within the octave of the Nativity of the Virgin, in 1683, the army of the Turkish Sultan, 300,000 strong, was miraculously defeated at the gates of Vienna after an attempt to sweep across Europe. The King of Poland, Jan Sobieski, had come to the aid of the Habsburg Emperor Leopold, and they attributed the victory to the fact that they had put the name of Mary on their banners, thus invoking the aid of the Mother of God. The triumph, won against overwhelming odds, saved Europe from becoming a Moslem colony, and September 12 became the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary.

"Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, as terrible as an army set in array?" Canticle of Canticles 6:9

"And the virgin's name was Mary...." St. Luke 1:27
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