Saturday, November 28, 2009

Purgatory

As the month of the Holy Souls comes to an end, here are some reflections upon the place of purgation.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Some reflections from an Irish poetess.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An Inconvenient Faith

Atheists often accuse Christians of embracing their faith as a sort of wishful thinking to give psychological comfort in a cold cruel world. I have had debates with a relative (on the Irish side) who claims that religious belief is merely a comfort for those who are afraid to face the void. No. Faith is not comfortable, although it has its moments. I do not believe what I believe because it is a comfort. I believe what I believe because of the overwhelming reality of revealed truth. To deny what has been revealed by God through the Church would be foolish and insane for me. To accept it only because it feels good would not be faith but sentimental drivel. To take up the cross means enduring contradictions. It is a lifelong struggle. Yes, there is love, but it is often unfelt. Yes, there is joy, and overall peace, but joy and peace are often hidden guests. Yes, there is hope of heaven, but sometimes heaven seems far away, even when one stands at the threshold. Faith is challenging, for it demands accountability. To believe in Christ requires all of oneself. To believe is to say with Saint Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. But I believe and am convinced that you are the Christ, the Son of God."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blessed Miguel Pro

Bishop Olmsted offers a moving reflection on the martyred Jesuit, Blessed Miquel Pro, who died invoking Christ the King. To quote:
Upon arrival at the wall of execution, the priest asked permission to pray before being executed. Being granted his wish, he knelt before the wall riddled with bullet holes from previous executions and, clasping the crucifix and the rosary next to his heart, he asked God for the grace of a holy death. Then, he rose, kissed the crucifix, extended his arms in the form of a cross and, facing the firing squad, declared: “May God have mercy on you. May God bless you. Lord, you know that I am innocent. With all my heart I forgive my enemies.” Finally, as the firing squad took aim, Padre Pro said in a calm and steady voice, “¡Viva Cristo Rey!” “Long live Christ the King!”

Ann Ball wrote an excellent biography of the Mexican priest
, which I highly recommend.

Christus Rex

A meditation from Fr. Trigilio.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Night's Dark Shade

O high and glorious King, O Light and Brightness true!
God of Power, Lord, suppose it pleases you,
Make my comrade welcome, and grant him all your aid.
For him I have not seen since fell the night's dark shade,
and soon will come the dawn.
~ from a twelfth century poem by Guirault de Bornheil


I would like to announce the release of my new novel The Night's Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars. One of the first reviews is by Christine Niles of Laudem Gloriae, who says:
Elena Maria Vidal, author of Trianon, Madame Royale and, most recently, The Night's Dark Shade, has a gift for writing beautifully while transporting one into past times and places and keeping one's attention riveted as if there oneself.

In the 13th century, Catharism–"The Great Heresy"–had swept through Languedoc, France and gained a stronghold, its adherents of noble and common stock alike. The problem was so serious the Catholic Church had instituted a crusade against the heretics, who had drawn numbers of the faithful away by their esoteric teachings. Louis VIII, crowned in 1223, would lead the crusade, reclaiming Aquitaine and much of the southern territories and leaving to his heir, St. Louis IX, a Capetian reign that extended from England to the Mediterranean.

In the midst of this medieval landscape, enter the maiden RaphaĆ«lle de Miramande, vicomtesse, protagonist of The Night's Dark Shade, who, bereft of her father as well as her betrothed, both killed fighting alongside King Louis "the Lion" in the crusade, fears an unclear future. The Knights Hospitaller of St. John, that august military order whose members numbered the fiercest warriors against the Saracens, play a prominent part in this novel. Without giving away two much, two knights in particular represent opposite poles in young RaphaĆ«lle's moral life–on the one hand, duty, obligation, and fidelity, and on the other, passion and temptation....

The Night's Dark Shade will be a book kept on the shelves of our family library, and will be mandatory reading for my little ones once they've gotten a bit older. Elena Maria Vidal has been gifted with an eye for historical detail, an energetic imagination, an elegant writing style, and a keen and informed faith, all of which blend attractively together in this her latest work.
Thank you, Christine!

Author Stephanie Mann has also composed an insightful review. The following is an excerpt:
Historical fiction is a fascinating genre because when done well it reveals truths about both the past and the present. It allows us to experience both what was unique to the era of its setting while recognizing what is universal in our humanity.

The Night’s Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars represents historical fiction done well, particularly when revealing the dangers of the Cathar movement in the 13th century and holding up a mirror to the 21st.

By telling the story of Raphaelle de Miramande’s encounter with a castle occupied by Cathars, especially with the Perfecta who may become the young heiress’ mother-in-law, Elena Maria Vidal bravely dramatizes the consequences of Cathar teaching. I say bravely because the Cathars or Albigensians are very often depicted as heroes for their opposition to the Catholic Church or as victims for their suffering in the Albigensian crusades against them in southern France—perhaps because their admirers sympathize with their sexual ethics and their Gnostic elitism....

Highly recommended for historical fiction buffs of any age for its plotting, characterizations and often eloquently descriptive prose, The Night’s Dark Shade is particularly suited to young readers. Anyone who enjoys the genre, however, will revel in their escape into the world of 13th century southern France.
Thank you, Stephanie!

The Night's Dark Shade can be purchased HERE, and will soon be on Amazon as well. Signed copies of the book are currently available directly from me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Memento Mori

Artist Daniel Mitsui displays some rosaries from the Middle Ages that were designed to help people "remember death" and the transitory nature of earthly life.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Blessed Josepha Naval Girbes

A virgin of the secular order of Carmel.

A quote from the General Promoter of the Faith, Monsignor Petti, at the conclusion of the Theological Consultors’ examination says:

'Josefa Navel Girbes is an exceptional mistress of secular holiness: a model of Christian life in her heroic simplicity; a model of parish life. Her entire life proves how one can reach holiness in all states of life in a total consecration to God and in a selfless love for one’s brothers and sisters, even while living in the world. Without extraordinary gifts and without dazzling events in her life, the Servant of God was an exceptional woman in her genuine simplicity as a daughter of the people. She carried out her duties faithfully, in intense union with God, in the midst of the ordinary circumstances of her working day.'

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Blessed Frances of Amboise, Duchess of Brittany

Frances d'Amboise Here is the life of Blessed Frances d'Amboise, the duchess who became a Carmelite nun:
Bl. Frances D'Amboise was born in 1427, probably at Thouars, France. At fifteen years of age, she was married to Peter II, Duke of Brittany and crowned with him in the cathedral at Rennes in 1450. She was widowed in 1457 and, not wanting a second marriage, she turned towards religious life. For this purpose, she built a Carmel for sisters at Bondon in 1463 following the advice of Blessed John Soreth, Prior General of the Carmelites. However, she herself only entered the monastery in 1468. In 1477 she transferred to the monastery at Nantes, another of her foundations. The records show that, as prioress, she had a strong personality but coupled with a motherly understanding and considerable psychological awareness. Some of the inspired spiritual direction which she gave to her sisters has been preserved. To her is due the introduction of frequent communion (daily for those who were sick) and the fourth vow of strict enclosure. She died on 4th November 1485 and her last testament was the phrase which she had said most often during her life: "In everything, do that which will make God loved the more!" Her cult was approved in 1863 by Pope Pius IX, as a recognition of the faithfulness of the Bretons to the Catholic Church and to their duchess. She is considered the foundress of the Carmelite nuns of France. She was beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1866.
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