Saturday, January 24, 2015

St. Francis de Sales

Today is the feast of Saint Francis de Sales. He is a saint very close to my heart. Here is one of his best-known sayings:
Do not look forward to the mishaps of this life with anxiety, but await them with perfect confidence so that when they do occur, God, to whom you belong, will deliver you from them. He has kept you up to the present; remain securely in the hand of his providence, and he will help you in all situations. When you cannot walk, he will carry you. Do not think about what will happen tomorrow, for the same eternal Father who takes care of you today will look out for you tomorrow and always. Either he will keep you from evil or he will give you invincible courage to endure it. Remain in peace; rid your imagination of whatever troubles you.
Fr. Mark writes on confidence and peace according to St. Francis de Sales.
Once we have accepted that all things are in the hand of God, and that the great events of history, like the smallest details of our own lives, are willed or permitted by Him, we begin to experience an unassailable peace of heart. “In everything, says Saint Paul, God works for good with those who love Him” (Rom 8:28). Worry has never advanced the kingdom of heaven. Worry has never made anyone holy. Panic, fretting, and anxiety are not fruits of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost produces confidence in God, trust in His mercy, abandonment to His designs, surrender to His will and, always, peace.
Control
Again, Saint Francis de Sales has a word for people who have the need always to be in control:
When we let go of everything, our Lord takes care of all and manages all. If we hold back anything — this shows a lack of trust in Him — He lets us keep it. It is as if he said, “You think yourself wise enough to handle this matter without me; I allow you to do so; you will see how you come out in the end.”
It is a sound observation of human psychology that the more one feels that the big things in one’s life are spinning out of control, the more one grasps at the little things, trying desperately to control what one can. (Read more.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

St. Agnes


Today is the birthday of a virgin; let us imitate her purity. It is the birthday of a martyr; let us offer ourselves in sacrifice. It is the birthday of Saint Agnes, who is said to have suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve. The cruelty that did not spare her youth shows all the more clearly the power of faith in finding one so young to bear it witness.
~from a treatise "On Virgins" by Saint Ambrose, bishop, in the Roman breviary.
More HERE:
Of all the virgin martyrs of Rome none was held in such high honour by the primitive church, since the fourth century, as St. Agnes. In the ancient Roman calendar of the feasts of the martyrs (Depositio Martyrum), incorporated into the collection of Furius Dionysius Philocalus, dating from 354 and often reprinted, e.g. in Ruinart [Acta Sincera Martyrum (ed. Ratisbon, 1859), 63 sqq.], her feast is assigned to 21 January, to which is added a detail as to the name of the road (Via Nomentana) near which her grave was located. The earliest sacramentaries give the same date for her feast, and it is on this day that the Latin Church even now keeps her memory sacred.
Since the close of the fourth century the Fathers of the Church and Christian poets have sung her praises and extolled her virginity and heroism under torture. It is clear, however, from the diversity in the earliest accounts that there was extant at the end of the fourth century no accurate and reliable narrative, at least in writing, concerning the details of her martyrdom. On one point only is there mutual agreement, viz., the youth of the Christian heroine. St. Ambrose gives her age as twelve (De Virginibus, I, 2; P.L., XVI, 200-202: Haec duodecim annorum martyrium fecisse traditur), St. Augustine as thirteen (Agnes puella tredecim annorum; Sermo cclxxiii, 6, P.L., XXXVIII, 1251), which harmonizes well with the words of Prudentius: Aiunt jugali vix habilem toro (Peristephanon, Hymn xiv, 10 in Ruinart, Act. Sinc., ed cit. 486). Damasus depicts her as hastening to martyrdom from the lap of her mother or nurse (Nutricis gremium subito liquisse puella; in St. Agneten, 3, ed. Ihm, Damasi epigrammata, Leipzig, 1895, 43, n. 40). We have no reason whatever for doubting this tradition. It indeed explains very well the renown of the youthful martyr.
The Amo Christum isan ancient Responsory for the feast of Saint Agnes, also used at religious professions:
I love Christ, into whose chamber I shall enter, whose Mother is a virgin, whose Father knows not woman, whose music and melody are sweet to my ears. When I love Him, I remain chaste; when I touch Him, I remain pure; when I possess Him, I remain a virgin. With His ring my Lord Jesus Christ has betrothed me and He has adorned me with the bridal crown.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Our Lady and Epiphanytide

The Wedding at Cana
From Fr. Mark:
Epiphanytide, with its five distinctive Gospels, actualises the manifestation and inbreaking of God in the Church today. Each of these five Gospels manifests the adorable divinity of Jesus Christ, “God from God, Light from Light, Very God from Very God”. In response to these mystery–events, one can only fall down and adore. The five Gospels of Epiphanytide are:

1. Matthew 2:1-12, Our Lord makes himself known to the Magi by means of a star, and receives their adoration in Bethlehem.
And behold the star which they had seen in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was. And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him. (Mt 2:9-11)
2. John 1:29-34 — At His Baptism in the Jordan by John, the Holy Ghost descends in the form of a dove, and the voice of the Father reveals Jesus as His Beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased.
Now it came to pass, when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also being baptized and praying, heaven was opened; And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, as a dove upon him; and a voice came from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. (Lk 3:21-22)
3. John 2:1-11 — At the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee, Jesus, at His Mother’s bidding, changes water into wine.
And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye. (Jn 2:3-5)
4. Matthew 8:1-13 — Jesus, with a word, cleanses a leper.
And behold a leper came and adored him, saying: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus stretching forth his hand, touched him, saying: I will, be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed. (Mt 8:2-3)
5. Matthew 8:23-27 — Jesus calms the raging sea.
And behold a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves, but he was asleep. And they came to him, and awaked him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish. And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm. (Mt 8:24-25)
The Seven Utterances of the Mother of God
The particular mystery–event that illumines the Second Sunday after Epiphany is the miraculous sign given at the wedding feast of Cana: water changed into wine at the behest of the Mother of God. A number of truths emerge from this Gospel. First of all, it tell us much about the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Our Lady speaks but seven times in the Gospels. Today’s Gospel gives us the last of these seven utterances.
1. “And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?” (Luke 1:34)
2.”And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.” (Luke 1:40).
3. “And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)
4. “And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him. He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.” (Luke 1:46–55)
5. “And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” (Luke 2:48)
6. “And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine.” (John 2:3)
7. “His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.” (John 2:5)
The Maternal Heart of Mary
What does this last recorded utterance of the Blessed Virgin Mary tells us about her? It tells us, first of all, that Our Lady is observant. No one spoke to the Mother of Jesus of the lack of wine that would have brought humiliation upon the bridegroom and troubled the joy of the feast. Mary observed quietly. She noticed what would have escaped the attention of another. Her maternal Heart compelled her to intervene, and so she spoke to her Son” “They have no wine” (John 2:3).

There is no detail of our lives that escapes Our Lady’s notice. Her maternal Heart is at every moment attentive to the circumstances of our lives. Mary is, according the lovely expression of the poet John Lynch, “a woman wrapped in silence”. Mary’s silence is not the silence of one removed from those around her and absorbed in herself. It is the silence of a maternal Heart intent on observing everything that impinges upon the life of her children. There is no sorrow of ours, no need, no anguish that Our Lady does not see and take to heart. (Read more.)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

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.)

(Image)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Epiphany of the Lord

 Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light us come....And the gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising....All they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord. (Isaias 60, 1-6)
Here is a quote on the Epiphany from Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen's Divine Intimacy:
A star often appears in the heaven of our souls; it is the inspiration from God, clear and intimate, urging us to greater generosity and calling us to a life of closer union with Him. Like the Magi, we too must always follow our star with faith, promptness and selfless generosity. If we allow it to guide us, it will certainly lead us to God; it will bring us to the One whom we are seeking.
The Magi did not give up their quest, although the star- at one point- disappeared from their sight. We should follow their example and their perseverance, even when we are in interior darkness. This is a trial of faith which is overcome only by the exercise of pure, naked faith. I know that He wills it, I know that God is calling, and this suffices for me: Scio cui credidi et certus sum (2 Timothy 1:12); I know whom I have believed. No matter what happens, I shall trust Him. (Divine Intimacy, pp. 122-123)

Abbot Gueranger discusses the mystery of the Magi, HERE
.


(Artwork:
Journey of the Magi, 1902 by James Tissot)

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Holy Name of Jesus

From New Advent:
We give honour to the Name of Jesus, not because we believe that there is any intrinsic power hidden in the letters composing it, but because the Name of Jesus reminds us of all the blessings we receive through our Holy Redeemer. To give thanks for these blessings we revere the Holy Name, as we honour the Passion of Christ by honouring His Cross (Colvenerius, "De festo SS. Nominis", ix). At the Holy Name of Jesus we uncover our heads, and we bend our knees; it is at the head of all our undertakings, as the Emperor Justinian says in his law-book: "In the Name of Our Lord Jesus we begin all our consultations". The Name of Jesus invoked with confidence
  • brings help in bodily needs, according to the promise of Christ: "In my name They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover". (Mark 16:17-18) In the Name of Jesus the Apostles gave strength to the lame (Acts 3:6; 9:34) and life to the dead (Acts 9:40).
  • It gives consolation in spiritual trials. The Name of Jesus reminds the sinner of the prodigal son's father and of the Good Samaritan; it recalls to the just the suffering and death of the innocent Lamb of God.
  • It protects us against Satan and his wiles, for the Devil fears the Name of Jesus, who has conquered him on the Cross.
  • In the Name of Jesus we obtain every blessing and grace for time and eternity, for Christ has said: "If you ask the Father anything in my name he will give it you." (John 16:23) Therefore the Church concludes all her prayers by the words: "Through Our Lord Jesus Christ", etc.
So the word of St. Paul is fulfilled: "That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (Philippians 2:10).

The devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus is linked to the Holy Face devotion. More HERE.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Octave-day of Christmas

It is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.
Your blessed and fruitful virginity is like the bush, flaming yet unburned, which Moses saw on Sinai. Pray for us, Mother of God. (Antiphon for Vespers of January 1)
We recall that on the eighth day after His birth, Our Lord shed His first drops of blood for the redemption of the world. Fr. Blake reminds us that this feast was formerly known as "The Circumcision of the Lord."  
Up until recently today's feast had the title of the "The Circumcision of the Lord", it must have been incredibly embarrassing for nuns to explain to little girls, but today it seems a shame that we do not remember this very Jewish aspect of the Lord's life, such glorious material to preach on, especially when according to the Jewish Council of great Britain there is a rise of anti-semitism in Europe and the US. The Circumcision reminds us of the very Jewishness of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, of the importance of Jewish ritual and Law in his life. As lovely as it is to think of the Blessed Virgin as Mother of God, Theotokos, earlier title of the Feast gives us an great deal of catechetical material. I have no knowledge of why this feast's name should be changed but it does seem paradoxical that it should happen after the Council which called us to be ever more conscious of the Jewish origins of our faith. (Read more.)
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