Friday, December 9, 2011

Saint Juan Diego

The Aztec who saw Our Lady.
Most historians agree that Juan Diego was born in 1474 in the calpulli or ward of Tlayacac in Cuauhtitlan, which was established in 1168 by Nahua tribesmen and conquered by the Aztec lord Axayacatl in 1467; and was located 20 kilometers (14 miles) north of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City).
His native name was Cuauhtlatoatzin, which could be translated as "One who talks like an eagle" or "eagle that talks". The Nican Mopohua describes him as a 'macehualli' or "poor Indian", one who did not belong to any of the social categories of the Empire, as priests, warriors, merchants,...but not a slave; a member of the lowest and largest class in the Aztec Empire. When talking to Our Lady he calls himself "a nobody", and refers to it as the source of his lack of credibility before the Bishop....

Monday, December 5, 2011

Faith, Reason and the Virgin Birth

It is the ancient and constant teaching of the Church that Our Lady gave birth without loss of her virginity. In the words of Father Angelo:
In the Catholic view of things, faith and reason are mutually compatible, although through faith we are able to know things that we could not know by reason alone.  Hence, faith is both reasonable and transcends reason, just as grace builds on nature but also transcends it.  Reason shows us that what God has revealed is compatible with nature.  In other words, God is not arbitrary.  The natural law written in our hearts is confirmed by supernatural revelation not contradicted by it....

Among Catholics there is much confusion as to the precise meaning of the Virgin Birth.  It is not to be confused with the Virginal Conception of Our Lord.   The Church, from the earliest times, has articulated the Perpetual Virginity of Our Lady as pertaining to three distinct moments:  before the birth of Jesus (ante partum), during the birth of Jesus (in partu), and after birth of Jesus (post partum).  Virtually every time the magisterium has spoken on the subject, this threefold distinction is made.  This teaching is derived from the early fathers of the Church, who maintained, defended and made the teaching a universally held truth of the Catholic Church.

The Virginity of Our Lady “before the birth of Jesus” (ante partum) refers to the Virginal Conception, namely, that Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, and not by the seed of man.  That is fairly clear.  It is also clear that the Virginity of Our Lady “after the birth of Jesus” (post partum) refers to the fact that Our Lady never had sexual relations, even after the birth of Jesus, a fact that many Protestants deny.  For many Catholics, unfortunately, these two points say everything that is to be said about the Virginity of Our Lady and such Catholics proceed to explain away the Virginity of Our Lady “during the birth of Jesus” (in partu).  They say that the Virginity of Our Lady in partu, just refers to her “spiritual virginity,” an idea that is contrary to magisterial clarifications.  Or, they say, that the “Virgin Birth” is a misnomer for “Virginal Conception.”

But the middle moment of Our Lady’s Perpetual Virginity is real and its reality is the only viable reason why the Church would continue to insist on a threefold distinction as opposed to a twofold one.  In fact, unless the Virginity of Our Lady in partu means exactly what the Fathers of the Church said it means, namely, miraculous birth, then it means nothing at all and as a statement of faith is completely superfluous and meaningless.

Theologians can speculate all they want on what does or does not belong to the essential matter of the Church’s definition of the Perpetual Virginity, but the only reason anyone would doubt that the birth of Jesus is any less miraculous than the conception is a lack of faith.  People will cite this or that theologian, whose convoluted explanation of the Virgin Birth allows for a natural birth, including pain and afterbirth, but they cannot cite any ancient authorities or magisterial affirmations.  They do not want to believe the full truth of the Virgin Birth because it is hard to believe—and because it is not convenient doctrine for Apologetics. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

St. Francis Xavier

Fr. Blake comments on the catechesis of the great missionary Jesuit. As Father says: "I think our failure to convert, catechize and retain our faithful stems from the vagueness of message."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Blessed Charles of Jesus

Born the Vicomte de Foucauld, of a wealthy and illustrious family, Blessed Charles died alone in poverty and obscurity, a monk in the desert. He was martyred by marauders on December 1, 1916. In 1899 he wrote:
Bona crux. It is through the cross that we achieve union with him who was nailed there, our Heavenly Spouse. We should accept, as we would a favor, every moment of our lives and whatever they may bring, whether it is good or bad, but the crosses with even greater gratitude than the rest. Crosses release us from this world and by doing so bind us to God.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Present Moment

Meanwhile, the present alone is ours, and we let it slip through our fingers. The past is gone, whether for evil or for good, to be stored up in better hands than ours. The future still belongs to God alone; and it is not the least of His wonderful mercies that He keeps it entirely to Himself. It is what I am now, not what I have been or shall be, it is what I do now, not what I have done or shall do, that here and now matters most, to me, to God and to all the world besides.
Those who face what is actually before them, unburdened by the past, undistracted by the future, are they who live, who make the best use of their lives. These are those who have found the secret of contentment. For such, there is no day that cannot be lived through, no matter what it may bring. There is no circumstance that cannot be put to the best advantage, no matter how contrary and galling.
~ from Spiritual Excellence by Alban Goodier

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When Chastity is Loveless

Fr. Mark quotes the saints.
A haughty and coldhearted chastity is an affront to the King of Virgins. Purity of heart disposes one to receive the living flame of divine love, a love that manifests itself above all in mercy, in gentleness, and in humility. In this regard, I cannot help but think of Father Lev Gillet -- the "monk of the Eastern Church" -- who synthesized in his very person a childlike purity and a boundless compassion in the face of every weakness and sin. In one of his dialogues with Our Lord, Father Lev hears Him say:
Take to thyself everything in the sinner which, however deviously, comes from Me and continues to be Mine. Discover in the midst of the visible impurities and egoisms the secret action of My absolute Purity, and of the generosity of Love. Unite thyself to My effort to transfigure what is not of Me. By thy brotherly prayer, by thy sympathy, not for the sin but for the sinner, join in My work of purification (In Thy Presence, p. 64).
(Read entire post.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Return to Paris

The Carmelite friars have returned to Paris.
PARIS-FRANCE (16-10-2011).- On the feast of St. Teresa, the Discalced Friars of Paris returned to the very heart of Paris, 400 years after the original foundation.

The return of the Carmelites to “Rue de Vaugirard” -the site of their home on their arrival in 1611 - marked a very special occasion for the Carmelite Province of Paris and, indeed, for the whole Church in Paris. It was heralded with a series of conferences at the Catholic Institute of Paris and a special concert. It concluded with solemn celebration of the Feast of St. Teresa in the Carmelite Church of San Jose.

During the series of lectures, a distinguished group of historians, theologians and philosophers analysed the repercussion of the arrival of Carmelites in the religious and cultural context of 17th century France. Their contribution to the Catholic Reform was also discussed as were themes of personal relationship with God and Carmel’s place in contemporary society.

Celebrations marking the re-inauguration of a Carmelite presence in central Paris concluded with solemn Eucharist in the Church of San Jose on St. Teresa’s feast day. The Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, presided and Fr. General was also present. (More.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

The New English Translation of the Missal

"This is the chalice of my blood."
Currently, the priest refers to Jesus’ blood as having redemptive value “for all”:

“This is the cup of My blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all for the forgiveness of sins…”

But as of November 27, the new translation replaces the words “for all” with “for many.”

Some have raised concerns that the words “for many” limit the universal scope of Jesus’ saving mission.  They hold that the revision implies that Jesus did not die on the cross for everyone—that he offered his blood on Calvary not “for all” but just for a select group of people, “for many.”  This is a misunderstanding of the text.
First, we should happily note that the new translation renders more exactly Jesus’ words at the Last Supper. There our Lord said that His blood was shed “for many” (see Matthew 26:28). It is also more harmonious with the Latin text of the Mass, as has been used for centuries.

Above and beyond all else, the new translation points to the grievous reality that, although Jesus died for all, not everyone chooses to accept the gift of salvation. Every individual must choose, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, to embrace salvation in Christ and live according to God’s grace, and so be counted among “the many,” the holy elect.

A number of Scripture scholars have observed that the particular language of the Last Supper recalls “the many” that are three times mentioned in Isaiah 53:11-12.  In this prophecy, Isaiah foretold that God would eventually send His servant as “an offering for sin,” to bear the transgressions of “many” and making “many” righteous (Isaiah 53:10-12).  Jesus, by speaking thusly of His own blood being poured out “for many,” consciously associated Himself with the Suffering Servant foreshadowed by Isaiah.  Jesus is the One who offers His life for the “many.”


In closing, let us briefly consider one other change to the words of consecration: This is the cup of my Bloodwill soon become, This is the chalice of my Blood.
The choice to use “chalice” instead of “cup” reflects a formalized rendering of the Latin text. It underscores the solemn and sacred qualities of the liturgy. It also reminds worshipers that the bread and wine are no ordinary meal, but the Body and Blood of the Lord, offered in holy vessels set aside from daily use. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Meditation on Death, Part III

Here are more words from St. Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church. Gentle and scholarly, the saint did not mince words when it came to warning people about the end of life.
Consider that death is a moment on which eternity depends. Take a view of a man who is on the point of expiring, and reflect that he is just going to enter into one or other of two eternities; his fate is pending but for a moment: when that is expired, he is either saved or condemned forever. O this last breath! O this moment on which depends an eternity!an eternity either of torment or of glory; an eternity either always happy or always miserable; an eternity either of all that is good or of all that is evil; an eternity either of heaven or of hell. If you are then saved, you will be secure from all evils, and at the summit of happiness and content; if you are condemned, you will live in punishment and despair as long as God will be God. In death you will understand the meaning of heaven, hell, sin, an offended God, the contempt of divine laws, sins concealed in confession, ill-gotten goods unrestored, injustices not pardoned. "Unhappy me!" will the dying man say, "in a few moments I must appear in the presence of God. What will my sentence be? Whither shall I go? To heaven or to hell? Shall I be happy with the saints or burned with the damned? Shall I be a child of God or a slave of the devil? Alas! But a minute more and I shall know; and the destiny which I shall then receive will last for all eternity." Then will you detest a thousand times the day on which you had the misfortune to sin. But it will be too late; your sorrow will be fruitless, because it will proceed from the fear and not from the love of God. Ah, my God! from this hour I will turn to thee: I will not delay my repentance until death. I now love thee, I embrace thee, and I wish to die in Thy embraces. O Mary! my true Mother, let me die under thy protection: help me at that critical and decisive moment.
~from Preparation for Death by St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 396-397

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Meditation on Death, Part II

St. Alphonsus continues to explain why it is important to be prepared for death ahead of time.
Consider that, at the hour of your death, you will be extended on a bed, with your relatives and friends weeping over you, a priest to assist you, a lighted taper by your side, within one step of the terrible passage into eternity. Your head will be oppressed with pain, your eyes will become dim, your tongue parched with heat, your blood cooling in your veins, and your heart in agony: you will see the world passing from before you. No sooner will your soul become separated from your body than you will be stripped of all things, and cast into the earth to rot. There you will become the food of worms, which will gnaw and devour your flesh, and in a short time nothing will remain of your body but a few withered bones and a little dust. Open a grave, and take a view of the state of that rich and avaricious man! of that vain woman! Ah! Such is the termination of human life; such is the end of mortal man, and such will soon be yours. But penetrate with the eyes of faith into the other world, and see the condition in which your soul will be placed. It will instantly be surrounded by the monsters of hell, representing before you all the sins that you have committed from your very childhood. At present the devil hides from you the malice of your crimes: he persuades you that there is little evil in this act of vanity, this indulgence, this resentment, this dangerous company; but in death he will display before your eyes the enormity of your sins, to make you despair. Then you will discover in the light of God himself the evil which you have committed in offending his infinite goodness. Ah! Hasten then, whilst time remains, to make reparation for what is past: at the hour of death it will be too late.

~from Preparation for Death by St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 395-396

Thursday, November 10, 2011

St. Leo the Great

From Nobility:
Leo’s pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity. At a time when the Church was experiencing the greatest obstacles to her progress in consequence of the hastening disintegration of the Western Empire, while the Orient was profoundly agitated over dogmatic controversies, this great pope, with far-seeing sagacity and powerful hand, guided the destiny of the Roman and Universal Church.

Leo was descended of a noble Tuscan family, but born at Rome. His father’s name was Quintianus. Our earliest certain historical information about Leo reveals him a deacon of the Roman Church under Pope Celestine I (422-32). Even during this period he was known outside of Rome, and had some relations with Gaul, since Cassianus in 430 or 431 wrote at Leo’s suggestion his work “De Incarnatione Domini contra Nestorium” (Migne, P.L., L, 9 sqq.), prefacing it with a letter of dedication to Leo.

During the pontificate of Sixtus III (422-40), Leo was sent to Gaul by Emperor Valentinian III to settle a dispute and bring about a reconciliation between Aëtius, the chief military commander of the province, and the chief magistrate, Albinus. This commission is a proof of the great confidence placed in the clever and able deacon by the Imperial Court. Sixtus III died on 19 August, 440, while Leo was in Gaul, and the latter was chosen his successor. Returning to Rome, Leo was consecrated on 29 September of the same year, and governed the Roman Church for the next twenty-one years.

Whilst the Eastern empire was distracted by heretical factions, the Western was harassed by barbarians. Attila the Hun, enriched with the plunder of many nations and cities, marched against Rome. The Huns, a savage nation from that part of Scythia which now lies in Muscovy, had passed the Palus Mæotis, in 276, and made their first inroads upon the coasts of the Caspian Sea, and as far as Mount Taurus in the East. Almost two hundred years after this, Attila, the most powerful and barbarous of all the kings of that nation, in 433, had marched first into the East, then subject to Theodosius the Younger, and having amassed a vast booty in Asia, returned into Pannonia, where he was already master of a large territory. (Read entire article.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Blessed Francisco Palau y Quer

A saint with a passion for the Church.
In 1860-61 he (Bl. Francisco Palau) founded the Congregations of the Carmelite Brothers and Sisters in Balearic Islands. In 1867 the Apostolic Commissary of the Discalced Carmelites of Spain appointed Fr. Francisco to be the Director of the Tertiaries of the Order and in 1872 he wrote the Rules and Constitutions of the Tertiary Order.

His spiritual life centered on the Church as a "loved person", a Mystical Body, but also a Mystical Person with whom he could relate. No where in Christian history do we have anyone else with this Church-centered mysticism. He sees the personality of the Church is mystical and the living reality of the Church is an unfathomable mystery. One of the aspects of this mystery is the joining of Her visible structures with the supreme reality of love among men and their love of Christ in the Holy Spirit, Who gives Her life and gathers Her into unity. He teaches that Christ and mankind cannot be separated from each other and he sees the Church as The Whole Christ, The Mystical Christ. This is a bountiful topic for meditation that can bring us a deeper love of, and Obedience to, the Church.

His second original intuition for the spiritual life, and later corresponded with Vatican II, is that to think of Our Blessed Mother independently of the framework of the Church would distort her person and her mission. Mary is the perfect model of the Church's holiness and purity and the mirror in which all the perfections of the Church are reflected.

Our beloved brother in Carmel left us with an indispensable condition for keeping our apostolic service free from purely human interest and professional attitudes. He taught that supernatural motivation nourished by prayer is required. And he stressed that prayer and the theological virtues are the double cornerstone of the spiritual life, but it cannot endure without a constant attitude of self-denial. This is shared from his personal experiences.

Bl. Palau enlarged the spirituality of the Teresian Carmel. He challenges us to press on tirelessly whenever love may call us in the service of our brothers and sisters and of the Church. He says, "I live and will live for the Church; I live and will die for her." 
(Read more.)

More HERE.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Praying for the Holy Souls

Some thoughts from Fr. Mark:
The offering of the Precious Blood of Christ for the Holy Souls is a mighty form of intercession on their behalf. Given that I am a firm believer in the value of repetitive prayer, of simple invocations repeated over and over again in the form of a chaplet or rosary, I began to pray for the Holy Souls in this way. Readers of Vultus Christi may want to make this prayer their own during the month of November, even on a daily basis. It is prayed on an ordinary rosary.
On the large beads:
V. Eternal Father,
I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Thy Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Lamb without blemish or spot (1 P 1:19) --
R. For the refreshment and deliverance of the souls in Purgatory.

(One can add here, especially those of my family, or of my ancestry, or of priests. The Holy Spirit sometimes moves one to pray for particular groups of Holy Souls.)
Ten times on the small beads:
V. By Thy Precious Blood, O Jesus --
R. Purify and deliver their souls.

After having said five decades, one concludes with:
V. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.

(Read entire post.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

To Hope Against All Hope

Some wisdom from Dom Marmion:
Nothing is more pleasing to God than unshaken faith and confidence in the midst of darkness. Make great practice of acts of confidence, even when you feel nothing. It is precisely in these moments of dryness and darkness that these acts are most meritorious, most pleasing to God and most useful to your soul. Ordinary souls, that have not given themselves without reserve to God, find no difficulty in making acts of love and confidence in God during times of consolation and success, but it is the property of those whom God calls to union, to more intimate familiarity with Himself, to persist in hoping in Him in spite of every appearance which might tend to make them doubt the Divine promises. Such as these say with holy Job: ‘Although He should kill me, I will trust in Him.’ (Job 13:15). They say to God: ‘My God you are my Father, Your Son Jesus has said that You are our Father, that you love us, that You never refuse anything we ask in His Name. My God I believe all this, and although the world, the devil and all Hell should tell me the contrary, I believe Your word simply because You have said it.’ Never forget that faith is the beginning, the progress and the consummation of perfection.” (13th January 1895) (Read entire post.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Abyss of Death

From a recent homily by Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI:
The passage taken from the prophet Hosea turns our thoughts immediately to the resurrection of Jesus, to the mystery of his death and his rising to unending life. This text of Hosea -- the first half of Chapter 6 -- was deeply impressed upon the heart and mind of Jesus. In fact, more than once in the Gospels he repeats Verse 6: "I want love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God more than holocausts." Jesus does not cite Verse 2 but he makes it his own and he realizes it in the Paschal Mystery: "After two days he will give life back to us and on the third he will raise us up again, and we will live in his presence." In the light of these words the Lord Jesus entered into the passion, he decisively embarked upon the road to the cross; he spoke openly to his disciples of what must happen to him in Jerusalem, and the words of the Prophet Hosea echoed in his own words: "The Son of man will be given over into the hands of men and they will kill him; but, once he is killed, after three days, he will rise again" (Mark 9:31).

The evangelist observes that the disciples "did not understand these words and they were afraid to question him" (9:32). We too, in the face of death, cannot fail to experience the sentiments and thoughts characteristic of our human condition. And we are always surprised and overcome by a God who draws so close to us that he does not even stop before the abyss of death, who rather passes through it, remaining for two days in the tomb. But exactly here the mystery of the "third day" occurs. Christ takes on our mortal flesh completely that it might be invested with the glorious power of God, by the breath of the life-giving Spirit, who transforms and regenerates it. This is the baptism of the passion (Luke 12:50), which Jesus received for us and about which St. Paul writes in the Letter to the Romans. The expression used by the Apostle -- "baptized into his death" -- never ceases to strike us, such is the concision with which he summarizes the dizzying mystery. Christ's death is the font of life, for into it God poured all of his love, as in a great cataract, which makes us think of the image of Psalm 41: "Abyss calls to abyss, in the roar of your torrents; all your billows and waves have passed over me" (8). The abyss of death is filled by another abyss that is greater still, namely, the love of God, which is such that death no longer has power over Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 8:9), nor over them who, by faith and baptism, are associated with him: "If we have died with Christ," says St. Paul, "we believe that we will also live with him" (Romans 8:8). This "living with Jesus" is the fulfillment of the hope prophesied by Hosea: "… and we will live in his presence" (6:2).

In truth, it is only in Christ that such a hope finds its real foundation. Before [Christ] it ran the risk of becoming an illusion, a symbol taken from the rhythm of the seasons: "like the autumn rain, like the spring rain" (Hosea 6:3). At the time of the Prophet Hosea the faith of the Israelites was in danger of being contaminated with the naturalistic religions of the land of Canaan, but this faith is not able to save anyone from death. But God's intervention in the drama of human history does not obey any natural cycle; it only obeys his grace and faithfulness. The new and eternal life is the fruit of the tree of the cross, a tree that blossoms and bears fruit from the light of the sun of God. Without the cross of Christ all the energy of nature remains impotent before the negative force of sin. A beneficent force greater than that which moves the cycles of nature, a Good greater than that of creation itself: a love that proceeds from the "heart" itself of God and that, while it reveals the ultimate meaning of creation, renews it and directs it toward its original and final goal. (Read entire homily.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Meditation on Death, Part I

Consider that this life may soon terminate. The sentence is already passed: You must die. Death is certain, but the moment of it is uncertain: we know not when it will come. But to how many casualties and accidents is human life constantly exposed? The bleeding of an artery, a stroke of apoplexy, the bite of a venomous animal, an inundation, an earthquake, a thunderbolt, and numberless other causes that we can neither foresee nor prevent, may deprive you instantly of human life. Death may surprise you when you least expect it. How many have gone to bed at night in apparent good health, and in the morning have been found dead? And may not the same happen to you? Numberless others, who have been visited by sudden death, never expected to die in that manner; and, if they were then found in mortal sin, what is now their fate, and what will it be through all eternity? But, at all events, it is certain that either the night, or the day will come, when you will no more see the night. "I shall come," says Jesus Christ, "like a thief in the night, when I am the least expected." Matt. xxiv.44. Your good master warns you of this beforehand, because he wishes your salvation. O Sinner! Correspond, then, with this mercy, profit by this admonition, hold yourself always in readiness for death. When that moment comes there will be no time for preparation. Consider well that you must certainly die. The scene of this world must soon terminate for you, though you know not when. Who can tell whether it will be within a year, within a month, within a week, or even whether you will be alive tomorrow? Oh my Jesus! Give me light, and pardon me.

~from Preparation for Death by St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 394

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Saints Crispin and Crispianus

Crispin and Crispinian are the patron saints of shoemakers, saddlers, and tanners.
Martyrs of the Early Church who were beheaded during the reign of Diocletian; the date of their execution is given as 25 October, 285 or 286. It is stated that they were brothers, but the fact has not been positively proved. The legend relates that they were Romans of distinguished descent who went as missionaries of the Christian Faith to Gaul and chose Soissons as their field of labour. In imitation of St. Paul they worked with their hands, making shoes, and earned enough by their trade to support themselves and also to aid the poor. During the Diocletian persecution they were brought before Maximianus Herculius whom Diocletian had appointed co-emperor. At first Maximianus sought to turn them from their faith by alternate promises and threats.

But they replied: “Thy threats do not terrify us, for Christ is our life, and death is our gain. Thy rank and possessions are nought to us, for we have long before this sacrificed the like for the sake of Christ and rejoice in what we have done. If thou shouldst acknowledge and love Christ thou wouldst give not only all the treasures of this life, but even the glory of thy crown itself in order through the exercise of compassion to win eternal life.”

When Maximianus saw that his efforts were of no avail, he gave Crispin and Crispinian into the hands of the governor Rictiovarus (Rictius Varus), a most cruel persecutor of the Christians. Under the order of Rictiovarus they were stretched on the rack, thongs were cut from their flesh, and awls were driven under their finger-nails. A millstone was then fastened about the neck of each, and they were thrown into the Aisne, but they were able to swim to the opposite bank of the river. In the same manner they suffered no harm from a great fire in which Rictiovarus, in despair, sought death himself. Afterwards the two saints were beheaded at the command of Maximianus. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Has the Virgin Mary Appeared Again in Egypt?

A report from the OCP Media Network:
It is reported that, after the events of the massacre of Copts in Maspero, Virgin Mary appeared in Cairo and Alexandria.

Reports says that, Virgin Mary in the sky, in Cairo and Alexandria and at different areas nearby. Lights appeared in the sky, followed by voice. Copts believe that the voice came from heaven to reassure that their prayers are heard after what they have suffered severely in the events of Maspero, which killed 27 believers and left dozens wounded.

Some of the TV channels have broadcasted the miraculous appearance of the holy Theodokos.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Carmelite Nun to be Beatified

The Catholic News Agency reports:
Sister Maria Carmen Crespo Roig, or Teresa of the Incarnation, was born in Beniarres, Spain on March 25, 1912. “From a young age she was very involved in the life of her parish and worked tirelessly in its activities and movements,” the Archdiocese of Valencia said.

During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, she risked her life to help priests and nuns who were in need of assistance. In 1941, she entered the Carmelite convent at Ontinyent, “where she lived for the Church and the salvation of souls” until her death on Feb. 4, 2006.

“Day after day, during her 93 years of life and 65 years as a religious, Maria Carmen Crespo learned to offer her joys and sufferings to God in good spirits.” As a Carmelite, “she was an example to her religious sisters and to those she met with and were her friends,” the archdiocese said.

She also patiently bore her sufferings, as she was of frail health from a young age.  At the end of her life, she suffered both from a stroke that left her unable to move and from cancer. (Read entire article.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

On Holy Humility

Thoughts of Blessed Charles de Foucauld.
God has not bound salvation to science, to intelligence, to riches, to much experience, to rare gifts which not all have received, no.  He has bound it to that which is within the reach of everyone, absolutely everyone, the young and the old, human beings of every age and class, of whatever degree of intelligence and of whatever condition…He has bound it to that which everyone, absolutely everyone, can give Him, to that which every human being, whoever he may be, can give Him, having a little good will: a little good will is all that is necessary in order to gain this Heaven which Jesus binds here to humility,  in making yourself little,  in taking the last place,  in obeying, and which elsewhere He links to poverty of spirit, to purity of heart, to love of justice, to a spirit of peace, etc. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Maxims of St. Teresa

Here are the spiritual maxims of the Holy Mother St. Teresa, for her nuns.
1. Untilled ground, however rich, will bring forth thistles and thorns; so also, the mind of man.
2. Speak well of all that is spiritual, such as religious, priests, and hermits.
3. Let thy words be few when in the midst of many.
4. Be modest in all thy words and works.
5. Never be obstinate, especially in things of no moment.
6. In speaking to others be always calm and cheerful.
7. Never make a jest of anything.
8. Never rebuke any one but with discretion, and humility, and self-abasement.
9. Bend thyself to the temper of whomever is speaking to thee: be merry with the mirthful, sorrowful with the sad: in a word, make thyself all things to all, to gain all.
10. Never say anything thou hast not well considered and earnestly commended to our Lord, that nothing may be spoken which shall be displeasing unto Him.
11. Never defend thyself unless there be very good reasons for it.
12. Never mention anything concerning thyself which men account praiseworthy, such as learning, goodness, birth, unless with a hope of going good thereby, and then let it be done with humility, remembering that these are gifts of God.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Prayer Tips from the Carmelites

I found these suggestions worth pondering:
  • Take a line from the liturgy of the day and repeat it during the day – a new line every day. The responsorial psalm and the Gospel Acclamation theme are good ones to use.
  • Let a spiritual thought from a hymn or a book or Mass be as background music in your mind during the day.
  • Take a holy card (or picture) of Christ and place it where you can see it so that you may think of Him.
  • Make a spiritual communion every hour. I set the stop watch I use.
  • Fix your inward gaze upon Him amidst your occupations.
  • Find a “trigger moment,” such as putting your keys on the desk; turning off the computer, or laying out clothes for the next day that can serve as a reminder to take a moment for short prayer.
  • Instead of a coffee break, take a short prayer break. In the mid-morning or mid-afternoon, get up and move into a different space and think of God.
  • I think of God every time I look at a watch or clock.
  • I sing hymns in my heart during the day.
  • Make Spiritual aspirations during the day. (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Temple of God

The little world of each of us with its persons and places, its sunshine and its shadows, its joys and its pain, is the one and only Holy of Holies, in which is tabernacled the Will of God, the chosen temple in which He alone accepts our worship. "I shall dwell in their midst" was His promise, and He is present in every happening.

The saints are those who see God speaking His desires to them in every situation of their lives. They were not less human than we, and God's Will is not less in our lives than in theirs.

Whatever the future holds, your part is peaceful abandonment- there is no greater gift to God. It makes one a living Amen to His least good pleasure.

Love and sacrifice are the essentials for a life of union with God. How many opportunities for both lie daily around us. Grace and great graces are hidden in every one, if we are but generous enough to correspond with the designs of Divine Providence in fashioning them. An ever increasing faith sees God's design in even the most trivial things- His design to sanctify us.
~Fragrance from Alabaster by Mother Aloysius of the Blessed Sacrament, OCD

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Simple English Propers

For those who are tired of having banality at Mass, Fr. Mark recommends a wonderful book.
This extraordinary book has been met with widespread acclaim for the beauty and versatility of the music - and also for being the first generally accessible book of chanted propers in English for every parish. It provides complete entrance, offertory, and communion propers in English with Psalms in modal chant, with four-line notation, for all Sundays and feasts. They can be sung by a single cantor or a full choir. The modes from the Gregorian original are wholly preserved to capture the sound and feel of the Graduale Romanum proper chants. They follow a total of 24 chant formulas to make singing easy for any choir in any parish. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cling to Jesus

Michael O'Brien passes on some powerful advice.
Confusion is created everywhere through media.  Media is the primary shaper of consciousness of our times.  In every nation it was the primary worry of apostolic people—clerics as well as lay apostles.  The unprecedented power of film and television is something we Christians have never had to deal with before on this scale. So new strategies are being initiated everywhere in every country that I went.”

“Everywhere there is the sense of facing a Goliath, a monster that feeds or is driven by money, profit and an underlying agenda of social revolution on a scale I don’t think we have ever seen before in the history of man.  What we are looking at is the dismantling of the great treasure Christianity gave Western civilization.”

“When I was in Italy, I had the most awesome privilege of meeting the fiction writer in his 80’s named Eugenio Corti. His name is being touted around for the Nobel Prize in literature, but I don’t think that is going to happen.”

O’Brien asked Corti: ‘Do you have a word of advice for me?.’  “He leaned forward and he took my hand and he said, ‘We are at war.  We are at war and we will be at war until the end of time.  Cling to Jesus—through everything that is about to happen.’” (Read entire article.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Propers of the Mass

Then and now. Fr. Mark explains.
Until the approval of The New Roman Missal by Pope Paul VI on 3 April 1969, there had existed for four hundred years a substantial unity between the texts of the Proper of the Mass contained in the Graduale Romanum and those given in the Roman Missal. The Missal, in effect, reproduced the complete texts of those sung parts of the Mass that in the Graduale Romanum are fully notated.

The Missal takes the text of the Chants of the Proper of the Mass from the Graduale Romanum, and not the Graduale Romanum from the Missal. The Missal, in fact, contains the very same texts found in the Graduale, but in the Missal they are printed without the musical notation that allows them to be brought to life in song and, in a certain sense, interprets them in the context of the liturgy. The melodic vesture of the texts functions as a liturgical hermeneutic, allowing them to be sung, heard, and received in the light of the mysteries of Christ and of the Church.

Originally Mass was always sung. Not until the eighth or ninth century did the so called Low Mass or missa privata come to be celebrated at the lateral altars and private chapels of abbatial and collegiate churches. The Chants of the Proper of the Mass were not omitted at these Low Masses; they were recited by the priest alone. This fact, of itself, suggests that well before the eighth century, the Proper Chants were, in effect, considered to be constitutive elements of the Mass, deemed indispensable to the very shape of the liturgy.

What are the Propers? (Read entire article.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In the Garden of the Rosary

Fr. Mark reflects on the mysteries.
The Rosary, like the Psalter it parallels, grows with the one who prays it. It is like the manna in the desert that accommodated itself to the taste of each one. There are seasons in each man's life with God, and the garden of the Rosary changes with these seasons. The Rosary is especially valuable in times of dryness; it becomes a way of inviting Our Blessed Lady into one's desert. When Mary comes into the dry and weary land of our soulscapes, she irrigates it with the grace of her presence, causing it to blossom like the rose.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sufferings and the Soul

The uses of adversity.
Entrust yourself to God and abandon yourself to His holy action. Consent to all the designs that He has to bring you, by means of these troubles and sufferings, to nothingness. You must be more passive than active in your state. Even if the violence [of these troubles and sufferings] sometimes sweeps you away, the powerful hand of God will one day calm this tempest. Wait upon Him for everything, and lose yourself in the infinite goodness of His that bears with you in the rebellions of nature. (Read entire post.)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Self-Abandonment to God

From Mother Mechtilde de Bar:
I beseech you to offer me mightily and with insistence to God, and to pray Him to mobilize all the powers of my soul, in such a way that I would die a thousand times rather than offend Him. This fear of falling into evil gives me a thousand apprehensions and prevents me from being perfectly resigned to having to go forth from here, although I abandon myself to God as much as I can. Very willingly would I descend into hell rather than than displease God; help me in this by your prayers. (Read entire post.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Sacred Liturgy and Mary Most Holy, Parts 2 and 3

The continuation of the series from Rorate Caeli, Part 2 and Part 3.
The Most Holy Virgin has a considerable position in liturgical worship, because she is linked, with an indissoluble connection, to Jesus Christ, who is the center. She is, together with Jesus Christ, the masterpiece with which God displayed His power and His goodness. Because Jesus was born of Mary, she takes greater part in all of His gifts and in His life; she also takes part in His glory and in the distribution of the goods of grace. She received from all creatures and presents it all to Jesus Christ. Thus we have the Mediator between God and men: Jesus Christ; and we have the Mediatrix between Jesus Christ and mankind: Mary – she sings her Magnificat, offering God all the praises, honor, and requests that the creatures send her. (Read both posts, HERE and HERE.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

God Will Provide

Some truths we must remember. To quote St. Francis de Sales:
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. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Sacred Liturgy and Mary Most Holy, Part I

Some quotes from the late Fr. James Alberione:
The liturgy is the court service of the Church before the Divine King, it is the social worship, regulated by her; it is the most worthy thing that a creature may give to the Most High.

There are three kinds of prayer. The private prayer of the Christian, who, in the privacy of his room, or in the mystical shadow of the temple, elevates himself to God on the wings of faith and love, is beautiful. Jesus Christ and the Church desire this prayer, and recommend it to all the faithful (see St. Matthew, vi, 6).

Collective prayer is more efficacious; it is the one by two or more persons, joined together to praise God, to ask for His mercy, to thank the Divine Goodness. In fact, Jesus Christ said, “if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning any thing whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven.” (St. Matthew, xviii, 19). And the reason for it is further presented, “For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (St. Matthew, xviii, 20). It is Jesus who prays with them.

But the most sublime one is the liturgical prayer. Here, it is the Church herself, the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, who prays. The liturgical prayer is the breath of the mystical organism of the Church; it is the vital and sanctifying activity of the Eternal Priesthood and of the Visible Priesthood. The Priest, when he celebrated and when he administers the Sacraments, is, as it were, absorbed in unity of action by Jesus Christ.

Glory to the Most High. The Liturgy is, thus, the great prayer of the Church. She prays to God: each time the Holy Mass is celebrated anywhere on Earth; each time a soul, receiving the Sacraments, acquires supernatural life, either because she rises up from sin, or because she increases in grace; each time the Priest blesses in the name of the Church or in which a Christian makes use of a Sacramental.

Liturgical prayer is unceasing; for the pure Oblation is offered to God continuously from East to West; and for, without interruption, men are sanctified by the sacred rites. How pleasing is to the Lord this most perfumed incense, that rises from the thurible that is the heart of the Church. This heart of the Church is always holy, always thankful to God, because Jesus Christ has created it pure, immaculate. (Read entire post.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

St. Pio

It is his feast. Here is a biography of our modern thaumaturge. To quote:

From his early childhood, it was evident that Padre Pio had a deep piety. When he was five years old, he solemnly consecrated himself to Jesus. He liked to sing hymns, play church and preferred to be by himself where he could read and pray. As an adult, Padre Pio commented that in his younger years he had conversed with Jesus, the Madonna, his guardian angel, and had suffered attacks by the devil.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Call of Matthew

Fr. Mark analyzes the painting by Caravaggio in light of the Scriptures:
The call of Matthew, as recounted in his Gospel and as portrayed in Caravaggio's painting, is more than the story of one man's experience of Jesus Christ over two thousand years ago. It is your story and mine. It concerns each one of us just as much as it concerns Saint Matthew, for the Lord Jesus says: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. . . . For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mt 9:12-13). (Read entire post.)


I enjoy reading Father Lawrence Lovasik's book The Hidden Power of Kindness (Sophia Institute Press, 1999) over and over again. The following is a passage which never fails to leap out at me:
Soul-pain is the price of conversions. No sin can be blotted out except by the soul-pain we know as supernatural contrition. If you want to win souls for Christ, you must be willing to endure the anguish for sin that sinners do not experience, in order to win ultimately the grace of repentance for them. You may have to go through the agonies of delayed hopes for many hearts, and even seeming failure at the end, for someone whose soul has been your deep concern. But your sincere devotion to bring a soul to Christ will not be in vain. God knows the secret workings of His grace in souls.
I recommend Fr. Lovasik's book as spiritual reading for any time of the year.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"A Tranquil Mediocrity"

 From Laudem Gloriae:
"God does not give Himself wholly until He sees that we are giving ourselves wholly to Him." --St. Teresa of Avila
St. Teresa laughs somewhat mischievously at those who are afraid of doing too much for God, and under pretext of prudence, measure their acts of virtue with a yardstick: "You need never fear that they will kill themselves; they are eminently reasonable folk! Their love is not yet ardent enough to overwhelm their reason. How I wish ours would make us dissatisfied with this habit of always serving God at a snail's pace! As long as we do that we shall never get to the end of the road. Do you think that if we could get from one country to another in a week, it would be advisable to take a year over it?" (Int. Castle, III, 2).
To become generous, we must learn to do with our whole heart, not only what is a duty, but also what, though not obligatory, will give more glory to God...[to do otherwise is] settling down into a tranquil mediocrity.
--Divine Intimacy, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., 290

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2015: The Year of Prayer

According to Communicationes:
ROME-ITALY (11-09-2011).- The Carmelite bishops who came to the Extraordinary Definitory have petitioned the Holy See to declare 2015 a year of prayer. In a letter addressed to the Pope our Carmelite bishops are requesting this declaration from Benedict XVI in view of the celebration of the Fifth Centenary of the Birth of Saint Teresa.

They announced this on Sunday afternoon to the superiors of the Extraordinary Definitory just before it ended.

It was the turn of the Latin American group to plan the Eucharist for Sunday morning. Bishop Gustavo López (presider at it) invited the members of the Extraordinary Definitory and the bishops present to live to the full their allegiance to Christ and take seriously St. Paul’s message in the second reading and let one’s ability to forgive grow to the measure desired by Christ in the day’s Gospel passage (“seven times seven”).

Work in the meeting hall resumed at 9:45 a.m. when the bishops were introduced and asked to share a little about their experiences as Carmelites and bishops.

Following that Bishop Braulio Sáez delivered a conference on what local churches expect of the Discalced Carmelites. His talk stood in for that of Bishop Silvio Báez who, unfortunately, could not attend the get-together of our OCD bishops. Father General read a note from Bishop Báez which received a sympathetic reply from the entire Extraordinary Definitory through an expression of solidarity for the very difficult situation currently found in his diocese.

Bishop Braulio asked those present not to try to find excuses for the hard times we are in, nor a scarcity of vocations, nor for secularization. . . The Lord goes on inviting us in these times and believers are expected to answer Him. Bishop Braulio re-evoked the reference made by Father General to Saint Teresa earlier in the meeting and called his Carmelite brothers to live in suchwise as to incarnate and prove the identity given them by the Teresian charism.

“We Carmelites ought to consider ourselves one of those creative minorities mentioned by Pope Benedict XVI—called to help the societies in which we live find again the best of their heritage.” Just as Blessed John Paul II said, religious life benefits from a glorious past, but has much to accomplish in the future.

Following what was noted by the Aparecida Document, Bishop Braulio challenged us not to complain, but to re-read the Gospel as Good News for the reality in which Carmel finds itself.

To do this the children of Saint Teresa–just as Latin America’s Carmelite Major Superiors stated at their recent meeting in Londrina, Brazil—are called to return to the true heart of their vocation and remain alert to the teaching of their Foundress and Teacher, go to the very essence of the Carmelite charism, with fidelity to the Church, by living consistently its contemplative and apostolic dimension (Martha and Mary must always coexist).

Each community, Bishop Sáez went on to say as he cited once again the document of the Aparecida meeting [of the Latin American episcopal conferences], has to share an outpouring of the life of Christ (= “pastoral conversion”). This is valid not only for any Christian community at all, but most especially for Teresian Carmelite communities. This means to live in Christ by prayer, the liturgy and fraternal community life, so as to thereby share what one lives out as he/she meets others, particularly the most materially and spiritually poor and needy.

Bishop Braulio referred again to the Aparecida document, as well as to Bl. John Paul II in Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 23, and asked the Major Superiores mayores to live and induce the practice of “pastoral charity” in their circumscriptions: grafted onto Christ Christ –with one’s eyes fixed on our Spouse. We are to open ourselves to the reality of the Church and not avoid the problems, needs, hopes and plans for evangelization of the local churches with the joys and suffering of their people, as we think to safeguard our charism.

He see three keys to assist Discalced Carmelites in this process of responding to the demands of shared local church life: 1) live an intense experience of life in Christ within ourselves, that transforms us,(according to Benedict XVI writing in Deus Caritas Est; 2) live intensely community life in a Teresian manner so as to serve as an example of communion for the local church; and 2); live intensely a commitment to mission so as to announce openly the Gospel, thus rendering specialized service to the ecclesial communities in which our Teresian Carmel is present.
In the late afternoon the Extraordinary Definitory, happily accepted the letter that the bishops had drawn up and will send to His Holiness the Pope, in order to ask of him the dedication of the year 2015 as a Year of Prayer with Saint Teresa as its Patron Saint. (Read entire article.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mystical Substitution

Fr. Mark has been sharing some magnificent meditations from Mother Mechtilde de Bar on reparation and the Holy Eucharist:
If then, a religious of the Holy Sacrament wants to understand the spirit of her vocation, let her hold herself always in a state of victimhood in Our Lord's holy Presence, and if she wants to live in a state of true victimhood, let her, at times, see herself as an object of love and of good pleasure before her Divine Lord, who willingly receives the reparation she makes to His glory and, at other times, see herself as an object of horror and of wrath before her Sovereign Judge, who demands in justice the expiation due Him for so many profanations. Let her, on the one hand, believe herself called to all that is most holy and divine in the spiritual life; and on the other hand, believe herself called to what is most mortifying, most crucifying, and most annihilating in the life of penitence. Finally, let her remain in a state of indifference with regard to the effects of Mercy and Divine Justice, which she is bound her honour equally in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar by virtue of her profession.
Let there be no cross, disdain, suffering, death, or annihilation that she will not embrace with joy out of zeal for Divine Justice, for the expiation of all the sins of profanators of the Most Holy Sacrament; just as there are no virtues, graces, merits, perfections, holiness, blessings, praises, adorations, prayers, and good works, that love and piety would not cause her to seek with ardour for the reparation of the honour and infinite glory, the grandeurs, and the excellences, of the same Holy Sacrament. (Read entire post.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Silence of God

It is only apparent. From VIS news:
VATICAN CITY, 14 SEP 2011 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father travelled by helicopter from the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo to the Vatican, where he held his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall. In his catechesis he dwelt on the first part of Psalm 22, focusing on the theme of prayers of supplication to God.

The Psalm, which reemerges in the narrative of Christ's Passion, presents the figure of an innocent man persecuted and surrounded by adversaries who seek his death. He raises his voice to God "in a doleful lament which, in the certainty of faith, mysteriously gives way to praise".

The Psalmist's opening cry of "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" is "an appeal addressed to a God Who appears distant, Who does not respond", said the Holy Father. "God is silent, a silence that rends the Psalmists heart as he continues to cry out incessantly but finds no response". Nonetheless, he "calls the Lord 'my' God, in an extreme act of trust and faith. Despite appearances, the Psalmist cannot believe that his bond with the Lord has been severed entirely".

The opening lament of Psalm 22 recurs in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark in the cry the dying Jesus makes from the cross. This, Benedict XVI explained, expresses all the desolation the Son of God felt "under the crushing burden of a mission which had to pass through humiliation and destruction. For this reason He cried out to the Father. ... Yet His was not a desperate cry, as the Psalmist's was". (Read entire post.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bride of Christ

Rosalind Moss becomes Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God. Te Deum laudamus!  To quote Bishop Slattery:
In every age and place, the Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life, is at work in the Body of Christ to regenerate and extend the various forms of consecrated life by which the Church is enriched and made present in the world.

Beginning with the vocation of Saint Antony of Egypt, the Father of every form of consecrated life in East and West, and continuing through the charisms of Saint Pachomius, Saint Basil, Saint Augustine, and Saint Benedict, and of the myriads of holy founders and foundresses in every century the Church has never been without new and varied expressions of the call to follow the poor and virginal Christ, obedient unto death, even death on a Cross.

Moreover, from Apostolic times, unmarried women and widows have sought to imitate the Daughter of Sion, the Blessed Virgin Mary in her unconditional surrender to the will of the Father and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Having said her "Yes" in response to the message of the Archangel Gabriel, the Virgin of Nazareth became blessed above all women, the Joy of Israel, and the Glory of Jerusalem.

Among the women who seek to imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary and aspire to share in her spiritual motherhood today, are the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope. The mystery of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is the luminous pattern of their ecclesial mission to all peoples: Jew and Gentile, young and old, rich and poor.

Contemplating that mystery, they rejoice that the Light of the World has come, and receive the Child Jesus, Israel's Hope and Consolation, from the arms of His Blessed Mother as did Simeon; their mission is to teach others to do likewise, and so find hope in this valley of tears.

They listen to Simeon's prophetic utterance and recognize in his arms the Promised One, who from the altar of the Cross will offer Himself to the Father as the Atoning Lamb. Thus are they compelled to undertake works of catechesis so that all peoples may find in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the wellspring of salvation, life, and resurrection.

They observe Anna, the Daughter of Phanuel, who gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all who were looking for the redemption of Israel; strengthened by holy Anna's courage and zeal, they will devote themselves to a missionary outreach to "those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death," to apostolic works of evangelization, to the consolidation of family life, and to the promotion of a Catholic culture of goodness, beauty, truth, and life.

New foundations of consecrated life are fragile undertakings; they must welcome the wisdom of past generations with humility and gratitude, learning from the teaching and example of the saints who never grow old. It is by a sure and praiseworthy instinct, then, that the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope, have chosen to graft their tender shoot onto the age-old tree of the Benedictine tradition. (Read more.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monks as Outcasts

Here are some words which can be applied to all who are trying to live the contemplative life.
From the beginning, monks have elected to live outside the conventional configurations of power, both ecclesiastical and secular. The Church is essentially eschatological, a community of outsiders in the world. Within the community of outsiders that is the Church, the fathers and mothers of the desert constituted yet another community of outsiders. The monastic heart suffers a certain affinity with the outcast, with the person who lives on the edge, with those who question "the done thing," with those who risk intoning "a new song" (Ps 97:1). This is the price of life in the light of the Kingdom. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Our Holy Mother St. Teresa and the New Age

How genuine Carmelite spirituality transcends the lies of the New Age.
St. Teresa of Avila's understanding of the link between the trinity and all other human mysteries is enough to discredit the pseudo-mysticism of the New Age, according to a Spanish prelate.

Bishop Cecilio Raúl Berzosa Martínez of Ciudad Rodrigo said this Sept. 4 at the conclusion of the weeklong 2nd International Teresian Congress.

Bishop Berzosa is the author of "Nueva era y cristianismo. Entre el diálogo y la ruptura" (New Age and Christianity: Between Dialogue and Rupture).

He explained that St. Teresa's "The Way of Perfection" provides "keys or antidotes to confront the mystical deceits of the New Age." For example, he drew from her teachings to refute pantheism, and the pretension of being able to save oneself.

The prelate detailed spiritual features and theological elements of New Age and highlighted some of the points in which it contrasts with Christianity. He contrasted it with the mysticism of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross....

Bishop Berzosa went on to point out four spiritual "lies or temptations" of the New Age, which already appear in Genesis and whose author is the Tempter: You will be like gods (pantheism); you will never die (reincarnation), you will know good and evil (moral relativism and subjectivism), and your eyes will be opened (Enlightenment esoterics).

"The Christian faith is not an esoteric initiation," he said. "Nor does salvation consist of an experience of cosmic plenitude through a process of reincarnation." (Read entire article.)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Conjugal Love

A quote from Dietrich von Hildebrand:
The physical union between man and woman still retains its subjective significance and its intrinsic beauty. Is conjugal love in itself not sublime enough to sanctify and justify this union? Is not the reason for the creation of woman stated in Genesis: "It is not good for man to be alone; let us make him a help like unto himself." Can a childless marriage be regarded as a failure, as something that did not fulfill its meaning? Can we justly assert that it would have been better if such a marriage had not been brought to pass? Can it not have its full divinely-appointed meaning simply as the highest communion of love, and glorifying God by this very fact? Is not the ideal of marriage fulfilled to an even higher degree when both partners, even though childless, belong to each other in the most perfect conjugal love, in unchangeable loyalty to one another, in imitation of the union of the soul with God, than in the case of a marriage with perhaps many children, where the partners are unfaithful to each other and desecrate the sacred tie by lack of love and loyalty?...Is this not a clear indication that marriage is a symbol of the union of the soul with God, that it possesses, as such, a sublime importance and that it exists in the first place for its own sake and not exclusively for the sake of any result that it produces? (Read entire post.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

As the Morning Rising

A meditation for Our Lady's Nativity, which is tomorrow.
How amazed, then, was the whole of creation at the Birth of this creature, the most amiable in the eyes of God, because She was the one most full of grace and merit! Hugo of St. Victor affirms that the Virgin Mary can be compared to the dawn which ends the night, because the centuries which preceded Her had been in darkness. Mary Most Holy is the true forerunner of the light of grace: She is the Star that announces the Sun of Justice, Who will be born from Her womb. In fact, “all the time which passed from the fall of Adam to the Birth of Our Lady, was an endless darkness, a long, deep, icy night. And yet at timers a star rose to brighten up those times: it was the holy Patriarchs and Prophets who enlightened the ignorance of those people by their virtue.” But the holiness and virtues of all the Saints turn pale compared to the Mother of God. “The Virgin Mary is the most refulgent dawn, Whose magnificent splendour obscures that of the ancient Fathers.” (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thoughts on Chapel Veils

I think that this blog post is a grand meditation on human respect in general.
I was hung up about being seen as holier-than-thou if I wore a chapel veil.  And I, too,  had this longing in my heart for a *long* time to wear one. I had read much on veil wearing in booklets, blog posts and articles. Through that reading, prayer and supportive discussions with my husband my desire grew. I wanted a very personal way that I could show my love, respect and belief in Our Lord truly present in the Holy Eucharist. A gift to Him and a reminder to myself. In the simplest terms it is for me an outward act of Faith, Hope, and Love. I have been wearing a chapel veil to Mass and Adoration now for the past two years. I started wearing one after the day I realized that, for me personally, it would be an act of humility. Because everything in me wants to blend in and not stand out. I don't want people to judge me or not like me. Unfortunately, I focus too much on people pleasing. This fear of mine is/was rooted in pride. I had to force myself to just wear it to Mass one time. Sure, I got some looks the first few times, but that's because I'm the only one at my parish wearing one. People will naturally look at something that is new or different. Now, I get nothing. No looks or comments. It turned out to be no big deal after all. Just like most things in life that we like to stress about.
I also have to point out that my fear wasn't just the thought of others judging me as little-miss-piety, but that they would think that I was somehow judging them. I didn't want other women thinking that I was somehow saying (by my wearing a veil) that they weren't holy without one. It's laughable really, that any woman would think that just because they cover their heads that they are somehow better or closer to God than other women. It's also laughable that anyone would assume that just because a woman would cover her head that she would somehow think less of those that don't. The whole thing is ridiculous really. What we women do to ourselves and to one another. Over-thinking everything. Will we be judged? Will they feel judged?'s endless, isn't it? (Read entire post.)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Memories of Mother Teresa

From Ireland's Cardinal Brady:
Mother Teresa wrote in her diaries that her first year of this new mission was fraught with difficulties. She had no income. She had to resort to begging for food and supplies. She experienced doubt, loneliness and the temptation to return to the relative security of convent life. She wrote in her diary: ‘Our Lord wants me to be a free nun covered with the poverty of the cross … Of free choice, my God, and out of love for you, I desire to remain and do whatever be your Holy will in my regard.’

The fact is, anyone who earnestly desires to follow Christ will, sooner or later, come to this same decisive moment in their life. For most of us, it confronts us many times, even many times in the same day! It is that moment when, with the full weight of our own free will, we are invited to first choose and then to trust in God’s will and logic when our own will and ‘logic’ is drawing us in a more comfortable, even a more reasonable direction.

This tension is played out in the Gospel passage we have just heard. Peter rejects the idea of a Christ who will suffer greatly and be put to death.  For him, the cross represents failure and who wants to be part of a failure? It is worth remembering that Peter is also a strong man.  Trusting others, even a good man like Jesus, was never going to be easy. Yet that is what Jesus asks him to do. He asks him to set aside his human instinct for strength, for security, for certainty and logic and to accept the utter poverty of the cross.  By rejecting suffering and death, Christ tells Peter that he is thinking, not as God thinks, he is thinking as human beings do.  St Paul tells us all that we must put on the mind of the Lord.

‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Mt 16:24). It is interesting to note that Jesus does not say here that you must take up ‘my’ cross.  Instead he says to each disciple that he must take up ‘his’ cross. There is always a temptation to imagine that we already know beforehand what our cross and time of testing will be. It is often much more difficult to recognise the cross Jesus intends for us personally and to accept it once we have recognised it. It is one thing to know about carrying our cross in the abstract; it is another to live it in the daily anguish of our deeply personal hopes and fears. Each of you I know will have your own personal cross that you carry with you here today. (Read entire article.)

The Sacred Wounds

They are our glory. In the words of St. Pius X:
Do not despair, however, because Christ foresaw that his Church would be persecuted; and it must be a glory for us to carry the Wounds of Our Divine Redeemer. If the world hates you, Christ says, know also that it hated me first. Remember those words that I said: The servant cannot be more than his master; if they have persecuted Me, also you will be persecuted: "Si Me persecuti sunt, et vos persequentur."

In the world, you will be troubled, "pressurant habebitis," but be trustful: I have overcome the world: "Ego vici mundum;" and this victory is assured by the very word of Christ, who guards and protects His Spouse, the Church, and repeats to her the words of Isaias: The peoples and the realms who have not served you will perish, "Gens et regnum quod non servierit Ubi, peribit," but you will not end until the end of the world, "Ecce ego vobiscum sum usque ad consummationem saeculi."

Also, even in tribulation, consolations will not lack. You will always have the one that is clear when good is done, when duty is accomplished, when suffering with Christ, secure in the predestination to the eternal award, conforming yourselves to the image of the Divine Son. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

On Beauty as a Way to God

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict recently said:
Today, I would like to consider briefly one of these channels that can lead us to God and also be helpful in our encounter with Him: It is the way of artistic expression, part of that "via pulchritudinis" -- "way of beauty" -- which I have spoken about on many occasions, and which modern man should recover in its most profound meaning.

Perhaps it has happened to you at one time or another -- before a sculpture, a painting, a few verses of poetry or a piece of music -- to have experienced deep emotion, a sense of joy, to have perceived clearly, that is, that before you there stood not only matter -- a piece of marble or bronze, a painted canvas, an ensemble of letters or a combination of sounds -- but something far greater, something that "speaks," something capable of touching the heart, of communicating a message, of elevating the soul.

A work of art is the fruit of the creative capacity of the human person who stands in wonder before the visible reality, who seeks to discover the depths of its meaning and to communicate it through the language of forms, colors and sounds. Art is capable of expressing, and of making visible, man's need to go beyond what he sees; it reveals his thirst and his search for the infinite. Indeed, it is like a door opened to the infinite, [opened] to a beauty and a truth beyond the every day. And a work of art can open the eyes of the mind and heart, urging us upward.

But there are artistic expressions that are true roads to God, the supreme Beauty -- indeed, they are a help [to us] in growing in our relationship with Him in prayer. We are referring to works of art that are born of faith, and that express the faith. We see an example of this whenever we visit a Gothic cathedral: We are ravished by the vertical lines that reach heavenward and draw our gaze and our spirit upward, while at the same time, we feel small and yet yearn to be filled. … Or when we enter a Romanesque church: We are invited quite naturally to recollection and prayer. We perceive that hidden within these splendid edifices is the faith of generations. Or again, when we listen to a piece of sacred music that makes the chords of our heart resound, our soul expands and is helped in turning to God. I remember a concert performance of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach -- in Munich in Bavaria -- conducted by Leonard Bernstein. At the conclusion of the final selection, one of the Cantate, I felt -- not through reasoning, but in the depths of my heart -- that what I had just heard had spoken truth to me, truth about the supreme composer, and it moved me to give thanks to God. Seated next to me was the Lutheran bishop of Munich. I spontaneously said to him: "Whoever has listened to this understands that faith is true" -- and the beauty that irresistibly expresses the presence of God's truth.

But how many times, paintings or frescos also, which are the fruit of the artist's faith -- in their forms, in their colors, and in their light -- move us to turn our thoughts to God, and increase our desire to draw from the Fount of all beauty. The words of the great artist, Marc Chagall, remain profoundly true -- that for centuries, painters dipped their brushes in that colored alphabet, which is the Bible.

How many times, then, can artistic expression be for us an occasion that reminds us of God, that assists us in our prayer or even in the conversion of our heart! In 1886, the famous French poet, playwright and diplomat Paul Claudel entered the Basilica of Notre Dame in Paris and there felt the presence of God precisely in listening to the singing of the Magnificat during the Christmas Mass. He had not entered the church for reasons of faith; indeed, he entered looking for arguments against Christianity, but instead the grace of God changed his heart.

Dear friends, I invite you to rediscover the importance of this way for prayer, for our living relationship with God. Cities and countries throughout the world house treasures of art that express the faith and call us to a relationship with God. Therefore, may our visits to places of art be not only an occasion for cultural enrichment -- also this -- but may they become, above all, a moment of grace that moves us to strengthen our bond and our conversation with the Lord, [that moves us] to stop and contemplate -- in passing from the simple external reality to the deeper reality expressed -- the ray of beauty that strikes us, that "wounds" us in the intimate recesses of our heart and invites us to ascend to God.

I will end with a prayer from one of the Psalms, Psalm 27: "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple" (Verse 4). Let us hope that the Lord will help us to contemplate His beauty, both in nature as well as in works of art, so that we might be touched by the light of His face, and so also be light for our neighbor. Thank you. (Read entire article.)
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