Friday, October 2, 2015

Feast of the Guardian Angels

Here is a brief history of the liturgical feast of the Holy Guardian Angels:
This feast, like many others, was local before it was placed in the Roman calendar.... Paul V placed it (27 September, 1608) among the feasts of the general calendar as a double "ad libitum" (Bäumer, op. cit., II, 277)....At the request of Ferdinand of Austria, afterwards emperor, he made them obligatory in all regions subject to the Imperial power; to all other places he conceded them ad libitum, to be celebrated on the first available day after the Feast of the Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel. It is believed that the new feast was intended to be a kind of supplement to the Feast of St. Michael, since the Church honoured on that day (29 September) the memory of all the angels as well as the memory of St. Michael.... Among the numerous changes made in the calendar by Clement X was the elevation of the Feast of Guardian Angels to the rank of an obligatory double for the whole Church to be kept on 2 October, this being the first unoccupied day after the feast of St. Michael....Finally Leo XIII (5 April, 1883) favoured this feast to the extent of raising it to the rank of a double major.
The following is an old English bed-time prayer for children, of which there are many variations:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
Bless this bed that I lay on.
Before I lay me down to sleep,
I give my soul to Christ to keep.
Four corners to my bed,
Four angels 'round my head,
One to watch, one to pray,
And two to bear my soul away.
I go by sea, I go by land,
The Lord made me with his right hand,
If any danger come to me,
Sweet Jesus Christ, deliver me.
For he's the branch and I'm the flower,
Pray God send me a happy hour,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Needless to say, the belief in angel guardians is of ancient origin and has a strong Biblical foundation, as the Book of Exodus bears witness:
20 Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared. 21 Take notice of him, and hear his voice, and do not think him one to be contemned: for he will not forgive when thou hast sinned, and my name is in him. 22 But if thou wilt hear his voice, and do all that I speak, I will be an enemy to thy enemies, and will afflict them that afflict thee. 23 And my angel shall go before thee.... (Exodus 23:20-23)
Recta Ratio has some pictures and some thoughts as well. More HERE.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Passion of Saint Thérèse

In June of 1895, two years before her death, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face made an "Act of Oblation to Merciful Love." She expressed her gratitude to God for the grace of suffering: "Since you deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to resemble You and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your Passion." (The Story of a Soul, trans. by Fr. John Clarke, OCD, p.277)

In the mental and physical sufferings that St. Thérèse experienced in the weeks preceding her early demise, she came to resemble her Crucified Spouse very much. As the tuberculosis consumed her body, a trial of faith and hope, in which heaven and eternity seemed closed to her, tortured her soul. The coughing of blood and persistent sore throat led to a treatment of painful cauterization with silver nitrate. Eventually, "gangrene ate away her intestines and she lost blood two or three times a day. Drinking only intensified her burning thirst. She had a terrible feeling of suffocation which could not be eliminated by the administration of ether. Finally, her bones protruded through her flesh to such an extent that, when she was made to sit upright to get some relief, it seemed to her that she was seated on iron spikes." (Complete Spiritual Doctrine of St. Therese of Lisieux by Rev. Francois Jamart, pp. 187-188) She confided to her sister, Mother Agnes of Jesus, that her pain was so intense that at times she was tempted to commit suicide: "What a grace it is to have faith! If I had no faith I would have inflicted death on myself without hesitating a moment!" (The Story of a Soul, p. 264)

On the afternoon of September 30, 1897, she entered into her agony. "Everything I have written about my desires for suffering," she gasped. "Oh, it is true just the same. I am not sorry for having surrendered myself to love. Oh, I am not sorry, on the contrary!" (The Story of a Life by Bishop Guy Gaucher, p. 204)

Nevertheless, Mother Agnes was so distressed by her sister's ordeal that she knelt before a statue of the Sacred Heart and begged for the grace of final perseverance for her little Thérèse. When the other nuns of the Carmel were summoned to the infirmary to support their sister with prayers in her dying moments, they saw her purplish hands holding her profession crucifix. Shortly after seven o'clock in the evening, the saint looked at the crucifix and breathed forth her last words: "My God, I love You!" After gazing a few moments with an expression of ecstatic joy at the statue of Our Lady, the beloved "Virgin of the Smile," brought from her childhood home, she died peacefully, her own face transfigured and smiling. On October 4, she was buried in the cemetery of the town of Lisieux. Only a few relatives and friends were present at the burial of the twenty-four year old nun. No one guessed that a storm of glory, a shower of miracles, was about to break forth.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Who is like God?

It is the feast of St. Michael the Archangel. The name "Michael" means "Who is like God?" It is a name which contains in itself the simplicity of the angelic being, for in those words the ineffable supremacy of God is magnified. It is a name which signifies the dark night of the soul in its ascent to God, for as St. John of the Cross says: "All the beauty of creatures compared to the infinite beauty of God is the height of ugliness." (The Ascent of Mount Carmel) In the eternal question "Who is like God?" many truths can be boiled into one: there is no one like God; He is our end, He is our ultimate and only goal, there is nothing else worth striving for if it is outside of Himself. While in our human nature it is impossible to obtain anything resembling the unwavering angelic attention and single-mindedness, it is possible in Christ to strive to model the dedication of St. Michael to the cause of God.

The Archangel Gabriel said to the Prophet Daniel: "And, behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me . . . and none is my helper in all these things, but Michael your prince."(Daniel 10:13) In the midst of the present battle, may St. Michael be our champion, our brother, our protector, not only of individual souls but of the whole Church, the people of God.

Angels Everywhere

From Fr. Mark on the feast of St. Michael:
Are we in danger of forgetting the angels? While the liturgy mentions them repeatedly, all too often we assist at the Sacred Mysteries as if the angels were not there, joining in our praises, observing our attitudes, grieving over lack of zeal, and rejoicing to see us recollected and reverent. Saint Benedict speaks explicitly of the presence of the angels in Chapter 19 of the Rule: “We must therefore consider how we should behave in the sight of the Divine Majesty and his Angels, and as we sing our Psalms let us see to it that our mind is in harmony with our voice” (RB 19:6-7).
One thing is certain. We need the angels. God created the angels for the praise of his glory and for our salvation, that is, to participate in his work of bringing us to wholeness, to peace, and to life everlasting in his presence. The angels are sent to us to comfort us in the hour of trial and affliction. Saint Luke, the evangelist most sensitive to angelic interventions, relates that an angel was sent to console Jesus during His agony in the garden (cf. Lk 22:43).
The angels are sent to bring us the healing of heavenly medicine, and the brightness of God’s deifying light. The angels are sent before every advent of the Word, to dispose our hearts and unstop our ears. The angels are sent before Christ, our Priest and our Victim, present in the offering of His Body and of His Blood. The angels are sent to bear our prayers up to heaven, and to descend to us, laden with heavenly blessings. The angels protect us in all our ways. They do all of these things gladly, joyfully, and unhesitatingly in obedience to the command of God. (Read more.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

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

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Novena to St. Michael

We need to pray for the Holy Father's visit and the synod on the family. Let us unite in praying together the Novena to St. Michael the Archangel:
Saint Michael the Archangel, loyal champion of God and His people, I turn to you with confidence and seek your powerful intercession. For the love of God, Who made you so glorious in grace and power, and for the love of the Mother of Jesus, the Queen of the Angels, be pleased to hear my prayer. You know the value of my soul in the eyes of God. May no stain of evil ever disfigure its beauty. Help me to conquer the evil spirit who tempts me. I desire to imitate your loyalty to God and Holy Mother Church and your great love for God and people. And since you are God's messenger for the care of His people, I entrust to you this special request: (Mention your request).
Saint Michael, since you are, by the Will of the Creator, the powerful intercessor of Christians, I have great confidence in your prayers. I earnestly trust that if it is God's holy will my petition will be granted.
Pray for me, Saint Michael, and also for those I love. Protect us in all dangers of body and soul. Help us in our daily needs. Through your powerful intercession, may we live a holy life, die a happy death, and reach heaven where we may praise and love God with you forever.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

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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