Thursday, June 24, 2021

Carmel and St. John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist has long been a favored saint among Carmelites not only because of his kinship to Jesus and Mary, but because of his connection with the Prophet Elias as well. As one history of the Carmelite Order says:
The date of the foundation of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel has been under discussion from the fourteenth century to the present day, the order claiming for its founders the prophets Elias and Eliseus, whereas modern historians, beginning with Baronius, deny its existence previous to the second half of the twelfth century. As early as the times of the Prophet Samuel there existed in the Holy Land a body of men called Sons of the Prophets, who in many respects resembled religious institutes of later times. They led a kind of community life, and, though not belonging to the Tribe of Levi, dedicated themselves to the service of God; above all they owed obedience to certain superiors, the most famous of whom were Elias and his successor Eliseus, both connected with Carmel, the former by his encounter with the prophets of Baal, the latter by prolonged residence on the holy mountain. With the downfall of the Kingdom of Israel the Sons of the Prophets disappear from history. In the third or fourth century of the Christian Era Carmel was a place of pilgrimage, as is proved by numerous Greek inscriptions on the walls of the School of the Prophets: "Remember Julianus, remember Germanicus", etc. Several of the Fathers, notably John Chrystostom, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, and Jerome, represent Elias and Eliseus as the models of religious perfection and the patrons of hermits and monks. These undeniable facts have opened the way to certain conjectures. As St. John the Baptist spent nearly the whole of his life in the desert, where he gathered around him a number of disciples, and as Christ said he was endowed with the spirit and virtue of Elias, some authors think that he revived the institute of the Sons of the Prophets. (Read more.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Midsummer's Eve

It is St. John's Eve. Tomorrow is the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, born without the stain of original sin. It was a tradition in the days of Christendom to have a bonfire in honor of the saint who was a "burning and shining light." (John 5:35) In some places, they still do; my father always had a bonfire in honor of the Birthday of the Baptist. In the Middle Ages, there were St. John carols (carols were not just for Christmas), dancing, and everyone would burn rubbish and old bones as a sign of the end of the old covenant. Houses would be decorated with St. John's Wort, and young girls would sleep with wildflowers under their pillows in the hope that they would dream of their future spouse. Fish Eaters, which has the details about the festivity, also discusses how the Vespers hymn for St. John's Day is the origin for "Do, Re, Mi:"
Another interesting thing about the Feast of St. John: the Breviary's hymn for this day, Ut queant laxis -- the hymn sung or recited during the blessing of the bonfire -- is the source of our names of musical notes -- Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do. The hymn, attributed to Paulus Diaconus (Paul the Deacon, ca. A.D. 720-799), was noted by a monk to rise one note in the diatonic C-Scale with each verse. The syllables sung at each rise in pitch give us the names of our notes (the "Ut" was later changed to "Do" for easier pronunciation):
Ut queant laxis
Re
sonare fibris
Mi
ra gestorum
Fa
muli tuorum,
So
lve polluti
La
bii reatum,
Sanc
Te Ioannes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Two English Martyrs



 Father Mark's post on St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher is so beautiful, anything I could say would be redundant. To quote:
Men of Fire and of Light
We remember today two martyrs, one a bishop and the other a husband, father, lawyer, statesman, and philosopher: Saints John Fisher and Thomas More. Both were men of fire and of light. Both fought manfully and suffered the martyrdom of John the Baptist, the Friend of the Bridegroom of whom Our Lord said, “He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light” (Jn 5:35).
The Sun Snatched from the Universe
Saint John Fisher was alone among all the bishops of the realm to stand against Henry VIII in the “great affair” of his divorce and against the Act of Supremacy by which the King repudiated the jurisdiction of the Pope over the Church in England. The Church in England was to become the Church of England. Protestantization would follow and, above all, the suppression of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered according to the rite of the Church of Rome. Concerning Holy Mass, Bishop John Fisher had written: “He who goes about to take the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass from the Church, plots no less a calamity than if he tried to snatch the sun from the universe.” (Read more.)

The following excerpts are from St. Thomas More's A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation:
If we reflect on these things and remember them well, we shall not murmur or complain in time of tribulation. Instead, we shall first take our pain patiently and see it as something of worth. Then we shall grow in goodness and see ourselves as quite worthy of tribulation. And then we shall realize that God has sent it for our own good, and so be moved to thank God for it....
Let us, then, never hope for our life to be long. We should keep it while we can, because God has so commanded, but if God so arranges that in his good graces we may go, let us be glad of it, and long to go to him. And then shall the hope of heaven comfort our heavy hearts, and out of our transitory tribulation shall we go to everlasting glory....

Monday, June 21, 2021

Hidden in the Sacred Heart of Jesus

From Fr. Mark:
Devotion to the Sacred Heart, thus understood, is a manifestation in the Church of the Holy Spirit, "helping us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought" (Rom 8:26).5 The Sacred Heart is, in the life of the Church, the organ by which "the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom 8:27).
Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: "We see who Jesus is if we see him at prayer. The Christian confession of faith comes from participating in the prayer of Jesus, from being drawn into his prayer and being privileged to behold it; it interprets the experience of Jesus' prayer, and its interpretation of Jesus is correct because it springs from a sharing in what is most personal and intimate to him".6

This is the prayer of the Sacred Heart, the prayer that filled the days and nights of Jesus' earthly life, the prayer that suffused his sufferings and ascended from the Cross at the hour of his death, the prayer that with him descended into the depths of the earth, the prayer that continues uninterrupted in the glory of his risen and ascended life, the prayer that is ceaseless in the Sacrament of the Altar....

The prayer of the Heart of Christ at the hour of his sacrifice passes entirely into the heart of the Church, where it is prolonged and actualized "from the rising of the sun to its setting" (Mal 1:11) in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the mystery of the Eucharist.

Cardinal Ratzinger asks if, after the once-for-all Pasch of Jesus, anything more is needed. "After the tearing of the Temple curtain and the opening up of the heart of God in the pierced heart of the Crucified, do we still need sacred space, sacred time, mediating symbols? Yes, we do need them, precisely so that, through the 'image', through the sign, we learn to see the openness of heaven. We need them to give us the capacity to know the mystery of God in the pierced heart of the Crucified".14

It is through the liturgy, first and above all, that we pass over into the prayer of the Sacred Heart, the word to the Father forever inscribed in his pierced side. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Life of Joy

A life of joy is the most delightful fruit of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.... "We only do that well which we do with joy" (St. Thomas). If, then, we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to Him and to them--"servite in laetitia." Oh, let us do this, and not change the nature of things--God is joy; true devotion is joy; love is joy; sacrifice is the source of joy; the Cross itself is the condition of solid joy. Let us, then, open wide our hearts. It is joy which invites us. Press forward, and fear nothing. Let us always rejoice and ever advance in love and in joy.

~ Love, Peace and Joy by the Reverend André Prévot

Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Joy of Charity

Charity flows abundantly from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Here is what Father Lovasik says about charity in The Hidden Power of Kindness (Sophia Institute Press, 1999):
Joy is the reward of charity. This intimate joy of the soul is distinguished from all other joys by its purity. The joy that is the fruit of charity is abiding. All earthly happiness exhausts itself, except the happiness of a loving heart that knows how to share the joys and sorrows of others. The joy of charity is one of the few joys that support you at the hour of death.


Friday, June 18, 2021

Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, June 19-27


Novena Prayers to Our Mother of Perpetual Help
First Prayer

Behold at thy feet, O Mother of Perpetual Help, a wretched sinner who has recourse to thee and confides in thee. O Mother of mercy, have pity on me. I hear thee called by all the refuge and the hope of sinners: be then, my refuge and my hope. Assist me, for the love of Jesus Christ; stretch forth thy hand to a miserable fallen creature who recommends himself to thee, and who devotes himself to thy service for ever. I bless and thank Almighty God, who in His mercy has given me this confidence in thee, which I hold to be a pledge of my eternal salvation. It is true that in the past I have miserably fallen into sin, because I had not recourse to thee. I know that, with thy help, I shall conquer. I know too, that thou wilt assist me, if I recommend myself to thee; but I fear that, in time of danger, I may neglect to call on thee, and thus lose my soul. This grace, then, I ask of thee, and this I beg, with all the fervor of my soul, that in all the attacks of hell I may ever have recourse to thee. O Mary, help me. O Mother of Perpetual Help, never suffer me to lose my God.
Three Hail Marys.

Second Prayer
O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying. O purest Mary, O sweetest Mary, let thy name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, O Blessed Lady, to help me, whenever I call on thee; for, in all my temptations, in all my needs, I shall never cease to call on thee, ever repeating thy sacred name, Mary, Mary. O what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence, what emotion, fill my soul when I utter thy sacred name, or even only think of thee. I thank the Lord for having given thee, for my good so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely uttering thy name. Let my love for thee prompt me ever to hail thee, Mother of Perpetual Help.
Three Hail Marys.

Third Prayer
O Mother of Perpetual Help, thou art the dispenser of all the gifts which God grants to us miserable sinners; and for this end He has made thee so powerful, so rich, and so bountiful, in order that thou mayest help us in our misery. Thou art the advocate of the most wretched and abandoned sinners who have recourse to thee: come to my aid, for I recommend myself to thee. In thy hands I place my eternal salvation, and to thee I entrust my soul. Count me among thy most devoted servants; take me under thy protection, and it is enough for me. For, if thou protect me, I fear nothing; not from my sins, because thou wilt obtain for me the pardon of them; nor from the devils, because thou art more powerful than all hell together; nor even from Jesus, my judge, because by one prayer from thee He will be appeased. But one thing I fear: that in the hour of temptation I may through negligence fail to have recourse to thee and thus perish miserably. Obtain for me, therefore, the pardon of my sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance, and the grace ever to have recourse to thee, O Mother of Perpetual Help.
Three Hail Marys.

Invocations to Our Lady
O Mother of Perpetual Help, thou whose very name inspires confidence.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may be victorious in the trying time of temptation.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may quickly rise again should I have the misfortune to fall into sin.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may break asunder any bonds of Satan in which I may have become entangled.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
Against the seductions of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may return to my former fervour should I ever become lukewarm.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may approach the Sacrament of Penance with a heart pierced by sorrow for my sins.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may receive and adore the Most Holy Eucharist with love, thanksgiving, and awe.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
[Priests: That I may live my holy priesthood in intimate union with thy Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Victim and Priest.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.]
Against my own inconstancy.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
Against my own infidelity.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
In the spiritual battle against my vices and sins.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
When the powers of darkness threaten me.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may persevere to the end in faith, hope and charity.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may never despair of the Mercy of God.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may ever love thee and serve thee and invoke thine assistance.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may make thy Perpetual Help known to others.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may invite others to pray to thee and to venerate thy sacred image.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
At the hour of my death.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
Blessing of the Sick By A Priest
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who hath made Heaven and earth.

V. O Lord hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.
Look down, O Lord, upon Thy servants failing from bodily weakness,
and refresh their souls which Thou hast created
that being bettered by Thy chastening
they may presently feel themselves healed and saved by Thy pity.

Grant, O Lord, we beseech Thee that these Thy servants
may enjoy continual health of body and soul,
and through the glorious intercession of the Blessed Mary ever Virgin,
Our Mother of Perpetual Help,
be freed from their present sorrow and enjoy eternal gladness.
Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

The Lord Jesus Christ be with you to defend you;
within you to preserve you;
before you to lead you,
behind you to guide you;
above you to bless you,
Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns forever and ever.
R. Amen.

The blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit
descend upon you and remain with you always.
R. Amen
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