Saturday, January 21, 2017

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.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Novena to the Immaculate Conception for Inauguration Day

Let us pray a novena in honor of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States of America, for our country on inauguration day, January 20. And here is an excerpt from the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, much of which is based on Sacred Scripture:
Holy Mary, Mother of God, I firmly believe in thy Immaculate Conception. I bless God for having granted thee this glorious privilege. I thank Him a thousand times for having taught it to me by the infallible voice of the Church. Receive my heart, O Immaculate Virgin; I give it to thee without reserve; purify it; guard it; never give it back to me, preserve it in thy love and in the love of Jesus during time and eternity. AMEN.

V. Thy name, O Mary, is as oil poured out.
R. Thy servants have loved thee exceedingly.

Let us pray.
O God, Who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, did prepare a worthy habitation for Thy Son: we beseech Thee, that as in view of the death of that Son, Thou didst preserve her from all stain of sin, so Thou wouldst enable us, being made pure by her intercession, to come unto Thee. Through the same Christ Our Lord. AMEN.
I am adding this prayer to St. Joseph to the novena:  
O Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.  O Saint Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, so that, having engaged here below your heavenly power I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers. O Saint Joseph, I never weary in contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.  Saint Joseph, patron of departing souls - pray for me. Amen

Sunday, January 8, 2017

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)

Epiphany: the Festival of Adoration

From Fr. Mark:
When a soul perceives the light of Christ, that soul is compelled to adore. Thus do we hear in the Holy Gospel: “And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him.” (Matthew 2:11).

There are, if you will, three moments in the grace of adoration. The first of these is the perception of the light. To see the light of Christ one must enter into the house that is the Church; from the outside, it appears, to some, small and, perhaps, confining. But when one enters the house of the Church, one discovers, from within, that it is immensely spacious. The Church is the place of the Divine Hospitality on earth. Not only is their room in the house of the Church for all; there is also pure water for cleansing; oil for the healing of every infirmity; and a banquet made ready with the living Bread come down from heaven, and with the joy-giving chalice of Christ’s Precious Blood.

The house of the Church is Mary’s house. Therein she is Mother: Mother, not only of Christ the Head, the Infant nourished at her breast, but also of the members of the Body of Christ, from the least to the greatest, all of whom she draws to her Immaculate Heart. Mary’s Virgin Body is the radiant monstrance of the Body of Christ; she holds Him in such a way as to show Him to us. She says to every soul who enters the house of the Church, “Arise, be enlightened, for thy light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.” (Isaiah 60:1).

The light that illumines Mary’s house, the house of the Church, shines from the adorable Body of Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. How can one open one’s eyes to the radiant Body of Christ, exposed in what Mother Mectilde de Bar called the soleil (sun) of the monstrance, and not see the fufilment of the words of the prophet Malachy? “The Sun of justice shall arise, and health — meaning healing and wholeness — in his wings” (Malachy 4:2)

The second moment in the grace of adoration is to fall down as it is written in the Gospel: “and falling down they adored him” (Matthew 2:11). What is this mysterious falling down? It is a response to the brightness of the Light; it is the first movement of one who would adore. To fall down is to attempt to become level with the ground. It is the expression of a profound desire to become very little, very lowly. It is an attempt to say with one’s whole body, that one would wish to be able to pour oneself out, to break oneself open, to allow one’s essence to be spent to the last molecule, like the precious perfume that flowed from the vase of alabaster, filling the whole house with its fragrance (John 12:3). This is what Mother Mectilde of the Holy Sacrament means when she speaks of anéantissement, and when she makes it the very condition of adoration in spirit and in truth. (Read more.)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

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.

Birthday of La Pucelle

The great feast of Epiphany coincides with the birthday of Saint Joan of Arc, who called herself La Pucelle, "The Maid." Here is a link to some of her most famous quotations, in addition to those included below.
Je me attens a Dieu, mon createur, de tout; je layme (l'ayme) de tout mon cuer.
"I place trust in God, my creator, in all things; I love Him with all my heart."

Je suis cy envoiée de par Dieu, le roy du ciel.
"I am sent here by God, the King of Heaven".

Je me attens a mon juge, cest (c'est) le roy du ciel et de la terre.
"I trust in my Judge, who is the King of Heaven and Earth".

Friday, January 6, 2017

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