Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Blessed Nativity


Today the Virgin gives birth to him who is above all being,
and the earth offers a cave to him whom no one can approach.
Angels with shepherds give glory,
and magi journey with a star,
for to us there has been born
a little Child, God before the ages.

Bethlehem has opened Eden, come, let us see;
we have found delight in secret, come, let us receive
the joys of Paradise within the cave.
There the unwatered root whose blossom is forgiveness has appeared.
There has been found the undug well
from which David once longed to drink.
There a virgin has borne a babe
and has quenched at once Adam's and David's thirst.
For this, let us hasten to this place where there has been born
a little Child, God before the ages.

(And Mary said to the child,)
“High King, what have you to do with beggars?
Maker of heaven, why have you come to those born of earth?
Did you love a cave or take pleasure in a manger?
See, there is no place for your servant in the inn,
I do not say a place, not even a cave,
for that too belongs to another.
To Sarah, when she bore a child,
a vast land was given as her lot. To me, not even a fox hole.
I used the cavern where willingly you made your dwelling,
a little Child, God before the ages.”

“Save the world, O Savior. For this you have come.
Set your whole universe aright. For this you have shone
on me and on the magi and on all creation.
For see, the magi, to whom you have shown the light of your face,
fall down before you and offer gifts,
useful, fair and eagerly sought.
For I have need of them, since I am about
to go to Egypt and flee with you and for you,
my Guide, my Son, my Maker, my Redeemer,
a little Child, God before the ages.”

~from the Kontakion on the Nativity, by St. Romanos the Melodist, 6th century

Monday, November 19, 2012

St. Raphael Kalinowski

Today on the Carmelite calendar is commemorated a saint who worked for true ecumenism, without compromising his convictions. His motto was: "Mary, always and in everything." St Raphael said: 
For Carmelite friars and nuns, it is of capital importance to honor the Most Blessed Virgin. And we love her if we endeavor to imitate her virtue, especially humility and recollection in prayer. Our gaze ought to be constantly turned to her, our affections directed to her, ever keeping in mind the remembrance of her benefits and trying always to be faithful to her.
More HERE.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

All Carmelite Souls

On the Carmelite calender to day is the feast of All Carmelite Souls. We pray for all those united in the Order of Carmel who have passed from this world. Here is a meditation on purgatory by Fr. Angelo, based on the writings of St. Catherine of Genoa. To quote:
Remembrance of the holy souls is self-forgetfulness. It is the cure . . . for them, and for us. Unless, God forbid, we go to hell, someday we will forget ourselves and remember the ultimate realities: God and our obligations toward one another. We can do it now or we can do it later. The souls in Purgatory would have us do it now.
They remember us. Do we remember them? This is no time to sleep. Rest will come, but until now, we have not toiled for God nearly enough.
The good men we have canonized at their funerals will not thank us for the kind and laudatory eulogies. We forget the sufferings of others so as to console our families, and ourselves and in this no one is served, not ourselves, not our families, and certainly not the souls of the departed.
Oh, sweet sleep. How we crave rest, yet we will not find it unless we give it. During this November we would do well to do more than a casual visit to a cemetery or a write a check and conveniently hand it to our pastor for yearly masses, though both of these we should do. Indeed, nothing can be more efficacious than the Mass, except a Mass that is dedicated by the stipend of our own hearts.
The apostles slept through Our Lord’s agony and we sleep through the agony of the poor souls. It is so easy to do. Perhaps we could offer time with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, or more frequent communions for the grace to understand better the extremity of the situation and how the deliverance of the poor souls from their suffering will help protect us against our own peril, and how our imitation of their selfless desire for purity may save us from their present distress.
Love is not loved. But it need not be that way. Now is not the time for us to rest.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Saint Elisabeth of the Trinity

As the Bride of Christ, she meditated on the Divine Indwelling. (More HERE.) In her own words:
O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, would that I might be for you a spouse of your heart! I would anoint you with glory, I would love you - even unto death! Yet I sense my frailty and ask you to adorn me with yourself; identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm. me, substitute yourself in me that my life may become but a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, Redeemer and Saviour.

O Eternal Word, Word of my God, would that I might spend my life listening to you, would that I might be fully receptive to learn all from you; in all darkness, all loneliness, all weakness, may I ever keep my eyes fixed on you and abide under your great light; O my Beloved Star, fascinate me so that I may never be able to leave your radiance.
 Here is a beautiful account of Saint Elisabeth's life and death from Laudem Gloriae.
The prioress described the last eight and a half months of Elizabeth’s life as "a true ascent of Calvary." Addison’s disease, a then-incurable sickness, attacks the adrenal glands, which then cease to function. The results are gastrointestinal pains, inability to eat, vomiting, and emaciation, until one dies of exhaustion and starvation. Toward the end of her illness, she ate less and less, until her last week, during which she ate and drank nothing at all.
Father Mark discusses the ongoing mission of the Carmelite nun, as follows:
Before her death, Elizabeth sensed that she would be entrusted with a mission in heaven. "I think," she said, "that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls by helping them go out of themselves to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within that will allow God to communicate Himself to them and transform them into Himself."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Prayer of a Father

From Father Mark:
Jesus is in the midst of speaking. He allows this certain ruler, called Jairus, to interrupt his discourse. Jairus enters the scene suddenly, almost breathlessly. He adores Jesus, that is to say that he falls down before Him. His prayer goes straight to the point. It is simple and artless: "Lord, my daughter is even now dead; but come, lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live." It strikes me that Jairus must have blurted out his prayer after having prepared it in his heart on the way to Jesus. He has even devised a little "sacramental rite" that includes the laying on of Jesus' hand. (Read entire post.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Gaze of Christ

From Vultus Christi:
The Face of Christ or, if you will, the Gaze of Christ, is a motif that recurs frequently in the preaching of Pope Benedict XVI, as well as in his writings. In today's Angelus Address, the Holy Father alludes to that mysterious exchange of gazes, by which a particular vocation -- and often one to the priesthood or monastic life -- is both offered and received. That exchange of gazes is, of course, but the beginning. A priestly or monastic (or religious) vocation cannot be sustained except by growing into an exchange of gazes that becomes habitual. And this habitual exchange of gazes is, in fact, the gift of contemplation.

There may be readers of Vultus Christi who have, at one time or another, recognized the gaze of Christ resting upon with with an unspeakable tenderness. This sometimes happens when one is lingering in the radiance of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus. It may also happen when one is bent over the Word of God, or praying the Psalms. Meet the gaze of Christ with your own gaze. Look at Him. Begin to live, as Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity says, with "your eyes in His eyes." And should He call you to monastic life, communicate with us at Silverstream Priory. Do not go away sad. Say "yes" to the joy of having nought but Christ, and of preferring nothing whatsoever to His love. (Read entire post.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Year of Faith

It opens today. In the words of Our Holy Father:
Recent decades have seen the advance of a spiritual “desertification”. In the Council’s time it was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like, but now we see it every day around us. This void has spread. But it is in starting from the experience of this desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing, its vital importance for us, men and women. In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today’s world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life. And in the desert people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive. Living faith opens the heart to the grace of God which frees us from pessimism. Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path. The first reading spoke to us of the wisdom of the wayfarer (cf. Sir 34:9-13): the journey is a metaphor for life, and the wise wayfarer is one who has learned the art of living, and can share it with his brethren – as happens to pilgrims along the Way of Saint James or similar routes which, not by chance, have again become popular in recent years. How come so many people today feel the need to make these journeys? Is it not because they find there, or at least intuit, the meaning of our existence in the world? This, then, is how we can picture the Year of Faith: a pilgrimage in the deserts of today’s world, taking with us only what is necessary: neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money, nor two tunics – as the Lord said to those he was sending out on mission (cf. Lk 9:3).... (Read entire article.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Pope on Tepidity

From The Catholic Herald:
Because faith isn’t an abstract notion, Christians also must live their faith and share it with the world through acts of charity and love, the Pope said.

“Being tepid is the greatest danger for Christians,” he said. “We pray that faith becomes like a fire in us and that it will set alight others.”

The synod formally opened on yesterday with a Mass in St Peter’s Square.

During his homily, Pope Benedict said that the “Church exists to evangelise” by sharing the Gospel with people who have never heard of Christ, strengthening the faith of those who already have been baptised and reaching out to those who “have drifted away from the Church”.

“At various times in history,” he said, “divine providence has given birth to a renewed dynamism in the church’s evangelising activity”, as happened, for example, with the evangelisation of the Americas beginning late in the 15th century.

“Even in our own times, the Holy Spirit has nurtured in the Church a new effort to announce the good news,” the Pope said.(Read entire article.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Scruples and Their Cure

From Fr. Doyle:
It is a fundamental truth that we cannot love God unless we believe in His love for us. Scrupulosity completely represses such a belief, and thus paralyses all generous effort. At every moment it creates trouble between the soul and its Creator by pessimistic feelings about the past, and about its present dispositions and actions. The conclusions foolishly arrived at under the influence of these feelings boldly give the lie to the wise decisions of the confessor, and lead the soul to rebel against his spiritual guidance, and to put itself at the mercy of its enemy.
Soon the soul, seriously believing itself to be in a bad way, becomes discouraged, and often begins to commit real sin.
Even though sin does not follow from scruples, scrupulosity, nevertheless, retards the soul's progress in several other ways. It represents prayer as full of difficulties. It stops the ears of the poor downcast soul to the consoling voice of the Holy Ghost. It destroys confidence. It prevents the frequentation of the Sacraments, and thus stops their strengthening effects. It almost takes away the power of resisting temptation. It causes discouragement, and may even lead to despair. (Read entire post.)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cure for Scrupulosity

Fr. Mark quotes St. John of Avila, our new Doctor of the Church:
How long will you continue your minute self-examinations? It is like raking up a dust heap from which nothing can come but rubbish and unpleasantness. Feel sure of this, that it is not for your own merits, but for those of Jesus crucified, that you are loved and made whole. Do not give way to such discouragement about your faults, the results will show you how displeasing it is to God. It would be far better to be courageous and strong-hearted. Meditate on the benefits you have received through Jesus Christ in the past and possess now; reflect on them in such a manner as to lead you to sorrow for your sins against Him and to avoid offending Him, without losing your peace and patience if you happen to fall. (Read entire post.)

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Cross and Its Exaltation

From Father Mark:
There are those, even, alas, among Catholics, who would argue that the Passion of Christ, once accomplished, at a given moment in history, is over and done with, swallowed up in the triumph of the Resurrection and, in no way, prolonged in history. Divine Revelation, however (being both Scripture and Tradition), as well as the experience of the saints and mystics affirm that Christ suffers, and will continue to suffer, in His Mystical Body and in His Eucharistic Body, and this until the end of time....

Mother Mectilde practiced what she preached. Readily she accepted whatever humiliations, calumnies, accusations, and offenses came her way, seeing in them so many occasions of mystical union with the Christus Passus. Not without wit, Mother Mectilde declared, "The Invention [Finding] of the Cross is a feast that occurs every day, because, ceaselessly, one encounters suffering; but it is not so with the Exaltation of the Cross; nothing is more rare than to see tribulation honoured and accepted."  (Read entire post.)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Two New Doctors of the Church

On October 7 Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI will proclaim St. Hildegard von Bingen and St. John of Avila to be Doctors of the Church, which is like a canonization of their teachings.
ROME, SEPT. 28, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See announced today that Pope Benedict XVI will preside at the Solemn Mass for the opening of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, during which the Holy Father will proclaim two new Doctors of the Church: Saint John of Avila and Saint Hildegard of Bingen.

Joining the ranks of Saint Therese of Avila, Saint Catherine of Sienna, and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, German mystic Saint Hildegard of Bingen, canonized this past May, will be the fourth woman in Church history to be declared Doctor of the Church. Born circa 1098 in County Palatine of the Rhine (a region in modern-day Germany), she was a Benedictine abbess known for her visions, which she began to receive at the age of three. Hildegard was also known for her contribution to medieval music, having composed dozens of original pieces throughout her lifetime. She died Sept. 17, 1179.

Saint John of Avila, canonized in 1970 by Pope Pius VI, was born May 10, 1500, to a wealthy Catholic family of Jewish descent in Almodòvar del Campo, Spain. He was known for his preaching and for his reform of clerical life in his native country. Included among his followers were Saint Francis Borgia, and fellow Doctors of the Church, Saints John of God and Teresa of Avila. He died in Seville on May 10, 1569.
A doctor of the Church is one whose writings have proved to be of particular value to the life of the Church, especially in the area of theology and Doctrine. For a saint to be named "doctor of the Church" these three conditions must be present: eminens doctrina (eminent learning), insignis vitae sanctitas (high degree of sanctity), and Ecclesiae declaration (proclamation by the Church). (Read entire post.)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Homilies on Our Lady

From Fr. Angelo at Downside Abbey in Cornwall.



More HERE.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Monsieur Vincent


He is a saint who reminds us of what it is to be a Catholic. Orthodoxy and true belief cannot get one very far if not accompanied by love, kindness, patience, humility, and effective intervention on behalf of the poor. St. Vincent de Paul renounced his early clerical ambition in order to become a servant of the indigent. His manner was characterized by courtesy and wisdom, tempered by shrewd insight, which made his counsel sought by bishops and kings. St. Vincent was a friend of both St. Francis de Sales and King Louis XIII. The humble priest intervened in matters of great import for Church and state, as is told here:
The great political and religious conflict known as the Thirty Years War was now raging. Vincent, on hearing of the wretchedness of the people of Lorraine, collected alms for them in Paris. He sent missionaries to other countries affected by the war. Recalling his own sorrows as a slave in Tunisia, he raised enough money to ransom some twelve hundred Christian slaves in Africa. He had influence with the powerful Cardinals Richelieu and De Retz, directors of French foreign policy; and was sent for by King Louis XIII, to minister to him as he lay dying. The king's widow, Anne of Austria, now Queen Regent, had him made a member of the Council of Conscience of the five-year-old prince, the future Louis XIV. Vincent continued to be in favor at court, and during the civil war of the Fronde, tried to persuade the Queen Regent to give up her unpopular minister, Cardinal Mazarin, to help pacify and unify the people.
It was St. Vincent who later appeared to St. Catherine Labouré, encouraging her to join his order. It was on his feast in 1830, formerly kept on July 19, that St. Catherine had the first of the amazing apparitions at the Rue de Bac, which were to have such immense significance to France and to the world.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

St. Joseph of Cupertino

He was a child of poverty who became a great saint amid many persecutions from his own brethren, as the following biographical account relates:
Ill fortune seemed to have set its seal on Joseph before he was born. His father, a carpenter by trade, was a good enough man in his way, but he was a poor hand at dealing with money; what little he earned seemed to slip at once through his fingers. At the very moment when his son came into the world his house was in the hands of bailiffs, and his effects were being sold up. Joseph was born in a shed at the back of the house, where his mother had hid herself out of very shame. With such a beginning Joseph had very poor prospects. As a child, utterly underfed and sickly, he was a very miserable specimen of humanity. He seemed to catch every disease that came his way; many a time he was at death's door, and, to tell the truth, if he had died it would have been a great relief to those responsible for him. Even his mother wearied of him. She, too, was good in her way, but she was hard by nature, and circumstances had made her harder; Joseph was ever in fault, and for every offense she punished him without mercy, according to her notions of a mother's duty. When he was little more than seven years old he developed a running ulcer which would not heal; and his mother was the more embittered against him, for now she supposed that even if the boy grew up he would probably be always to the family nothing but a burden. (Read more.)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pope Benedict in Lebanon

Muslim women welcome the Pope in Lebanon
The full texts. To quote Our Holy Father:
You have a special place in my heart and in the whole Church, because the Church is always young! The Church trusts you. She counts on you! Be young in the Church! Be young with the Church! The Church needs your enthusiasm and your creativity! Youth is the time when we aspire to great ideals, when we study and train for our future work. All this is important and it takes time. Seek beauty and strive for goodness! Bear witness to the grandeur and the dignity of your body which "is for the Lord" (1 Cor 6:13b). Be thoughtful, upright and pure of heart! In the words of Blessed John Paul II, I say to you: "Do not be afraid! Open the doors of your minds and hearts to Christ!" An encounter with Jesus "gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction" (Deus Caritas Est, 1). In Christ you will find the strength and courage to advance along the paths of life, and to overcome difficulties and suffering. In him you will find the source of joy. Christ says to you: "Salàmi ō-tīkum" This is the true revolution brought by Christ: that of love.

The frustrations of the present moment must not lead you to take refuge in parallel worlds like those, for example, of the various narcotics or the bleak world of pornography. As for social networks, they are interesting but they can quite easily lead to addiction and confusion between the real and the virtual. Look for relationships of genuine, uplifting friendship. Find ways to give meaning and depth to your lives; fight superficiality and mindless consumption! You face another temptation, too: that of money, the tyrannical idol which blinds to the point of stifling the person at the heart. The examples being held up all around you are not always the best. Many people have forgotten Christ’s warning that one cannot serve both God and mammon (cf. Lk 16:13). Seek out good teachers, spiritual masters, who will be able to guide you along the path to maturity, leaving behind all that is illusory, garish and deceptive. (Read entire article.)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Gaze Upon Christ

From Fr. Mark Kirby:
I have known souls whose concentration on sin is more intense than their concentration on the Face of Christ and on the merciful love of His Heart. These souls are never at peace. They are forever examining themselves, and searching for evidence of sin and imperfection where they should be searching for evidence of the grace of Christ and His readiness to raise up the fallen, heal the broken-hearted, and bind up their wounds.

It is more effective, and more fruitful, to love virtue than to live, at every moment, in the fear of vice. By this I do not mean that one should not fear vice and hate sin; I mean, rather, that to focus on such things is unhealthy for the soul and breeds a spirituality of pessimism and gloom. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

September Martyrs of the French Revolution


Let us not forget the September Martyrs, including the murder of Madame de Lamballe.
Now the gang fell upon the first priests they met and cut them down. Then they called out, “The Archbishop of Arles!” Archbishop John du Lau of Arles was praying in the chapel. When summoned, he came out and he said, “I am he whom you seek.” Thereupon, they cracked his skull, stabbed him and trampled him underfoot. Then the leader set up a “tribunal” before which the imprisoned were herded and ordered to take the oath. All refused; so, as they passed down the stairway, they were hacked to pieces by the murderers. The bishop of Beauvais had earlier been wounded in the leg. When summoned, he answered, “I do not refuse to die with the others, but I cannot walk. I beg you to have the kindness to carry me where you wish me to go.” For a moment, his courtesy silenced the assassins. But, when he, too, refused the oath, he was killed like the rest.

Friday, August 31, 2012

St. Raymond Nonnatus

The saint who ransomed slaves.
Raymond, universally known as Nonnatus or not born due to his atypical birth, is the Mercedarian saint who achieved the greatest popularity among Christians in the places, kingdoms and nations where Mercedarians became established.

According to the most reliable Mercedarian tradition, Saint Raymond was born in the town of Portello, situated in the Segarra region of the Province of Lérida at the dawn of the thirteenth century. He was given the surname of Nonnatus or not born because he came into the world through an inspired and urgent incision which the Viscount of Cardona made with a dagger in the abdomen of the dead mother. In his adolescence and early youth, Raymond devoted himself to pasturing a flock of sheep in the vicinity of a Romanesque hermitage dedicated to Saint Nicholas where an image of the Virgin Mary was venerated. His devotion to the Holy Mother of Jesus started there.

He joined the Order of Mercy at a very early age. Father Francisco Zumel relates that young Raymond was a “student of the watchful first brother and Master of the Order, Peter Nolasco.” Therefore, Raymond was a redeemer of captives in Moorish lands. In a redemption which took place in Algiers, they had to stay behind as hostages. It was then that he endured the torment of having his lips sealed with an iron padlock to prevent him from addressing consoling words to Christian captives and from preaching the liberating good news of the Gospel. After he had been rescued by his Mercedarian brothers, Pope Gregory IX appointed him Cardinal of the Church of San Eustaquio. Summoned by the Supreme Pontiff, Raymond was on his way to Rome when he met death in the strong and rocky castle of Cardona in 1240. The Order of Mercy, the viscount and the city of Cardona were all arguing over his dead body, and where it should be buried, it was entrusted to Divine Providence on the harness of a blind mule. Without anyone leading it, the mule accompanied by a crowd trotted to Saint Nicholas hermitage where the venerable body was buried. (Read entire post.)

Monday, August 27, 2012

St. Monica

It is a feast for those of us who have been praying for decades for the conversion of certain people. As St. Monica found, prayers that are accompanied by tears are never in vain.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Little Arab

Today on the Carmelite calendar it is the feast of Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified, Miriam Baouardy, known as the "Little Arab." Miraculous phenomena surrounded her. Let us pray to her for Christians who are suffering persecution in Moslem countries. She said:

“Everything passes here on earth. What are we? Nothing but dust, nothingness, and God is so great, so beautiful, so lovable and He is not loved.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our Lady of Knock

The Irish people suffered a great deal for their faith over the centuries. In 1879, at Knock in County Mayo there was a miraculous occurrence.
County Mayo was in the center of a region of Ireland that had suffered great distress in the 1870's. Various famines and economic dislocations produced by forced evictions had created yet another wave of Irish immigration. It was into this environment that the Lord again sent His Mother to visit with His oppressed children.
The Apparition at Knock took place on 21st August, 1879, eight years after Pontmain in 1871. The two apparitions are broadly similar, in that they both took place in the evening and only lasted for three hours or so, and similarly, in both, no words were spoken.
On the evening of Thursday, 21 August 1879, two women from the small village of Knock, Mary McLoughlin and Mary Beirne, were walking back to their home in the rain when they passed by the back of the town church. There against the wall of the church stood the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, and an altar with a lamb and a cross on it. Flying around the altar were several angels. The women called several other people to the church. They too saw the apparition. What they and thirteen others saw in the still-bright day was a beautiful woman, clothed in white garments, wearing a large brilliant crown. Her hands were raised as if in prayer. This woman was understood by all who saw her tobe the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Queen of the Angels. Other villagers, who were not involved with the apparition, nonetheless reported seeing a very bright light illuminating the area around where the church was located. There were subsequent reports of inexplicable healings associated with visits to the church at Knock.
Our Lady was silent during the apparitions perhaps because there was nothing more to say to those who had already suffered so much for the sake of the Gospel and from political oppression.
Here are the words of the Hail Mary in Gaelic:
Sé do bheath' a Mhuire, atá lán de ghrásta, tá an Tiarna leat.
Is beannaithe thú idir mná agus is beannaithe toradh do bhruinne losa.
A Naomh Mhuire, a mháthair Dé, guí orainn na peacaithe, anois is ar uair ar mbás. Amen.

And here is an old Irish litany in honor of the Blessed Virgin:
Great Mary,
Greatest of Marys,
Greatest of Women,
Mother of Eternal Glory,
Mother of the Golden Light,
Honor of the Sky,
Temple of the Divinity,
Fountain of the Gardens,
Serene as the Moon,
Bright as the Sun,
Garden Enclosed,
Temple of the Living God,
Light of Nazareth,
Beauty of the World,
Queen of Life,
Ladder of Heaven,
Mother of God.
Pray for us.

Monday, August 20, 2012

St. Bernard on Our Lady

To quote from the great Cistercian saint and Doctor:
If squalls of temptations arise, or thou fall upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star, call upon Mary. If thou art tossed by the waves of pride or ambition, detraction or envy, look to the star, call upon Mary. If anger or avarice or the desires of the flesh dash against the ship of thy soul, turn thine eyes towards Mary. If, trouble by the enormity of thy crimes, ashamed of thy guilty conscience, terrified by dread of the judgment, thou beginnest to sink into sink into the gulf of sadness or the abyss of despair, think of Mary. In dangers, in anguish, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let her be ever on thy lips, ever in thy heart; and the better to obtain the help of her prayers, imitate the example of her life. Following her, thou strayest not; invoking her, thou despairest not; thinking of her, thou wanderest not; upheld by her, thou fallest not; shielded by her, thou fearest not; guided by her, thou growest not weary; favoured by her, thou reachest the goal. And thus dost thou experience in thyself how good is that saying: And the Virgin's name was Mary' [from a homily of St. Bernard of Clairvaux....] (Read more.)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saint Clare

Today is the feast of the great Holy Mother St. Clare. Don Marco reflects:
There is something singularly appealing about Saint Clare of Assisi. In many ways she resembles her brother and father in Christ, Saint Francis, and yet Clare is Clare . . . fearless, spontaneous, unconventional, and strong-willed. She could have satisfied the expectations of her family and of society by marrying some promising young nobleman. Or she could have entered some respectable and established monastery; with her family background and her personal gifts, she would certainly have become a grand Lady Abbess and wielded the crosier over a comfortable little monastic domain, but Clare cared little for conventions and respectability. She did not hesitate to put behind her “houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children and land” (Mt 19:29) for the sake of Jesus Christ and of His Gospel.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Women and Silence


Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith. But if they would learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church. ~I Corinthians 14: 34
This elusive verse, when not totally ignored, is a matter of controversy, as scholars and theologians try to explain it away. St. Paul, not caring a fig for political correctness, past or present, wanted it to be clear that women were not to usurp the functions of priests at the altar. On another level, the spiritual director at our Secular Carmelite meeting said that the verse is not to be seen as a negation of women but as a call, a call to silence, both interior and exterior. It is in the deep silence of the soul that spiritual warfare on behalf of the Church, her ministers and her people, is best waged. Many women have sought a life of prayer and have become prayer warriors, from the earliest days of the Church, when Our Lady prayed in the cenacle for the Holy Spirit to descend. Women have sought the contemplative life in great numbers, building monasteries that became centers of learning and culture, where kings and bishops went for advice. Sometimes it harder to fight a long hidden battle, a battle with no glory or outward appreciation, yet it is such battles that win graces for the multitudes. As Dr. Alice von Hildebrand writes:
Because a woman by her very nature is maternal -- for every woman, whether married or unmarried, is called upon to be a biological, psychological or spiritual mother -- she knows intuitively that to give, to nurture, to care for others, to suffer with and for them -- for maternity implies suffering -- is infinitely more valuable in God's sight than to conquer nations and fly to the moon.
When one reads the life of St. Teresa of Avila or St. Thérèse of Lisieux, one is struck by the fact that they constantly refer to their "weakness." The lives of these heroic women -- and there are many -- teach us that an awareness and acceptance of one's weakness, coupled with a boundless confidence in God's love and power, grant these privileged souls a strength that is so great because it is supernatural.
Natural strength cannot compete with supernatural strength. This is why Mary, the blessed one, is "strong as an army ready for battle." And yet, she is called "clemens, pia, dulcis Virgo Maria."
This supernatural strength explains -- as mentioned by Dom Prosper Gueranger in "The Liturgical Year" -- that the devil fears this humble virgin more than God because her supernatural strength that crushes his head is more humiliating for him than God's strength.
This is why the Evil One is today launching the worst attack on femininity that has ever taken place in the history of the world. For coming closer to the end of time, and knowing that his final defeat is coming, he redoubles his efforts to attack his one great enemy: the woman. It says in Genesis 3:15: "I will put enmity between you and the woman." The final victory is hers, as seen in the woman crowned with the sun.
Women like St. Teresa of Avila and St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who embraced a lifestyle of silence, are both regarded as Doctors of the Church, with St. Thérèse hailed as Patroness of the Missions. Thus the Church acknowledges that the struggle to seek and find God in silence is a struggle with far-reaching consequences for the entire world.
St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) describes the redemptive suffering of spiritual motherhood:
The difficult struggle for existence is allocated primarily to man and the hardship of childbirth to woman. But a promise of redemption is present inasmuch as the woman is charged with the battle against evil;; the male sex is to be exalted by the coming of the Son of God. The redemption will restore the original order. The pre-eminence of man is disclosed by the Savior's coming to earth in the form of man. The feminine sex is ennobled by virtue of the Savior's being born of a human mother; a woman was the gateway through which God found entrance to mankind....A woman should honor the image of Christ in her husband by free and loving subordination; she herself is to be the image of God's mother; but that also means she is to be in Christ's image. (Essays on Woman, ICS Publications, 1985, p.69)

I hope that someday silence will again be seen as grace-filled and life-giving rather than as oppressive. Strength and power can be found in acknowledging one's weakness and helplessness before God. Women can have great influence, not in sharing the ministerial duties traditionally given to men but in the battlefield of the spirit, where all real battles are fought.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Imbued With Joy

A recent message from Our Holy Father the Pope:
Now, some might say, is it right to be so happy, while the world is so full of suffering, when there is so much darkness and so much pain? Is it legitimate to be so defiantly joyful? The answer can only be a yes! Because saying 'no' to this joy benefits nobody, but only makes the world darker. And those who do not love themselves cannot give to love their fellow man, can not help them, can not be a messenger of peace. We know this from our faith, and we see it every day: the world is beautiful and God is good and He became man and entered into us, suffers and lives with us, we know this definitely and concretely : yes, God is good and it is good to be Man. We live in this joy, and try to bring this joy to others, to reject evil and to be servants of peace and reconciliation. (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

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

Some magnificent prayers, courtesy of Fr. Mark.
Novena Prayers to Our Mother of Perpetual Help
First Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 11, 2012

Theology of the Sacred Heart

They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.
Theology is, first of all, God’s word addressed to us. Apply this immediately to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The pierced Heart of the Crucified is God speaking a word to us, a word carved out in the flesh of Jesus’ side by the soldier’s lance. It is the love of God laid bare for all to see: “God stepping out of his hiddeness.” When we speak of a theology of the Sacred Heart, we mean this first of all: not our discourse about love, but the love of God revealed first to us, the poem of love that issues forth from the Heart of God. This is exactly what Saint John, whom the Eastern tradition calls, “The Theologian,” says in his First Letter: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10).
The difficulty here is that, in order to receive this word inscribed in the flesh of the Word (cf. Jn 1:14), we have first to stop in front of it, to linger there, and to look long at the wound made by love. “They shall look on him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37). To contemplate is to look, not with a passing glance, but with the gaze of one utterly conquered by love. Jeremiah says, “You have seduced me O Lord, and I was seduced; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed” (Jer 20:7).
The call to be an adorer of the Sacred Heart, and the call to be an apostle of the Sacred Heart is addressed to every Christian. The apostle is, in essence, the bearer of a word, one sent forth and entrusted with a message. The message that the apostle carries into the world is the one he has learned by looking long with the eyes of adoration at the pierced Heart of the Crucified.
The word of Crucified Love is hard to pronounce — hard to pronounce, I mean, not with our lips but with our lives. Adoration is the school wherein one learns how to say the Sacred Heart. It is in adoration that the apostle receives the word of the pierced Heart that, in turn, becomes his life’s message. Adoration and apostleship together model a spirituality accessible to all Christians: the word received in adoration is communicated in the dynamism of one sent forth with something to say. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Consecration to the Sacred Heart

Fr. Mark discusses the importance of enthroning the Sacred Heart of Jesus as King of our families.
The value of images of the Sacred Heart derives from this: that the pierced Heart of Jesus sets before our eyes the whole mystery of the merciful love of God, softens our resistances to that love, and invites us to grown in confident surrender to it. One understands just why Our Lord said to Saint Margaret Mary: "I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated."
Enthronement of the Sacred Heart
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me" (Ap 3:20). The enthronement of an image of the Sacred Heart in one's home is a way of opening family life to the merciful love of Christ. Those who introduce an image of the Sacred Heart into their homes express their desire to say with the Apostle John, "So do we know and believe the love God has for us" (1 Jn 4:16). God who inspires that desire will also fulfill it.

Deus Caritas Est

God is love.
One Sunday after Pentecost, on the 28th of June, 1767, when Sister Teresa Margaret was officiating in choir, she read out the little chapter at Terce: “Deus caritas est.” She had heard these words repeatedly, Sunday after Sunday, for the past three years, but now it seemed as though she understood them for the first time - or rather, her understanding of them was raised to an entirely different plane. (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Darkness and Doubts

A letter to a young monk.
I realized then that there are seasons and hours in the spiritual life when, in spite of one's best efforts, one is unable to say to Our Lord with Saint Peter, "Thou knowest that I love Thee." There is too much self-doubt. One's prayer is inhibited by fear. In such seasons and in such hours, I propose, dear Wilfrid, that you say only the first part of Saint Peter's prayer: "Lord, thou knowest all things." Repeat it over and over, until the Lord Himself, operating in you by the Divine Comforter, the Holy Ghost, makes it possible for you to say the second half of it: "Thou knowest that I love Thee."

Pray then, as you can, Wilfrid, and not as you can't. When one tries to pray as one can't, one strains too much the faculties of the soul, and so brings on oneself a kind of spiritual exhaustion. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pastoral Authority of St. Peter, Part 2

More from Fr. Angelo:
Applying the principles of the faith to the problems of the modern world has been a complicated process.  Progressives used the liberty granted by the Council as a pretext for a modernist revolution.  It was a risk all the postconciliar popes have been to say was necessary to take, and while we can continue to argue to the end of the world about what hypothetically would have happened had there been no Council, Peter, to whom Christ entrusted his Church, has settled the matter. (Read entire post.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

Today is her feast.
Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm, for love is as strong as death....Many waters cannot quench charity, neither can the floods drown it: if a man should give all the substance of his house for love, he shall despise it as nothing. ~Canticle of Canticles 8: 7-8

The Pastoral Authority of St. Peter

Fr. Angelo offers a helpful discourse.
Take away the sovereign Pontiff and the Catholic Church would no longer be catholic. Moreover, without the supreme, effective, and authoritative pastoral office of Peter the unity of Christ’s Church would collapse. It would be vain to look for other principles of unity in place of the true one established by Christ Himself. As St. Jerome rightly observed: “There would be as many schisms in the Church as there are priests” (emphasis mine).
We would add that this cardinal principle of holy Church is not a supremacy of spiritual pride and a desire to dominate mankind, but a primacy of service, ministration, and love. It is no vapid rhetoric which confers on Christ’s vicar the title: “Servant of the servants of God.”
This passage from the first encyclical of Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam (1964, 110) focuses its attention on the pastoral authority of the pope.  It is no less apropos today as it was during the Second Vatican Council.  There are countless schisms in the Church today across the whole spectrum of belief, so that while liberal and conservative are unfortunate and inadequate appelatives in reference to Catholic belief, we nevertheless find it necessary to distinguish between the dissenters of both extremes.  Often the argument is given, regardless where the dissenter lies along the spectrum, that this or that particular teaching of the Church is not “infallible.”  It is the same argument, whether it has to do with Humanae Vitae or Dignitatis Humanae. (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Saint Rita: A Messy Life

This is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have ever read. To quote Fr. Mark:
Catholicism is the religion of those tormented by gnawing hungers of the heart and thirsts of the spirit who, with faith and the fear of God, approach the inexhaustible Chalice of the Holy Mysteries for healing and relief. It is the untidy religion of those who trust that God and his saints can sort out whatever mess we have made of our lives and, in the end, by grace alone set all things aright. It all makes one supremely happy, and grateful, to be Catholic.
A Messy Life
This was the religion of Saint Rita of Cascia, the wife of a husband who was murdered, the mother of two sons set on vengeance, a widow marked by emotional scars and lacerated by the cruel tongues of the pious. Finally, the doors of the cloister opened to admit her for the last stage of her life, one marked by sickness. Saint Rita’s life was messy.
The Gaze of Christ
Saint Rita lifted her eyes to meet the gaze of Christ and lived in His radiance; He blessed her with a thorn from His bloody crown and with a rose to console her in her final hour. By means of these very material signs, “the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth” (Jn 15:26) bore witness in Saint Rita’s life and in the Church to the abiding presence of the Crucified and Risen Lord.
Mother Church
Saint Rita, pray for us today, that we may not live in denial of the messiness of our lives but, rather, find comfort in the bosom of a Church warm with the intercession of the saints, a Church wide open to little children, a Church hospitable to failures and to fools, a Church who knows the value of the “little things” by which all of life can be suffused by paschal grace. (Read entire post.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Roy Campbell and St. John of the Cross

How the South African poet saved the letters of Our Holy Father St. John from being destroyed in the Spanish Civil War.
It was March 1936. A series of anti-clerical riots swept through Toledo. Churches were burned and priests and monks were attacked in the streets. During these disturbances several Carmelite monks, disguised in lay clothes, sought shelter in the home of the South African poet, Roy Campbell, who had moved to the city with his wife, Mary, and their two young daughters in the previous year. Four months later, on July 21, republican forces advanced on the city. Under cover of darkness, the Carmelite monks once again called on the Campbells. This time, however, they were not seeking refuge for themselves but for their priceless archives, which included the personal papers of St John of the Cross. Campbell agreed to take possession of these precious archives and that night a heavy trunk of ancient documents was delivered secretly from the Carmelite library to the hallway of the Campbells’ house.

During the following day republican forces advanced through the city, forcing the defenders to fall back towards the Alcazar. Without the soldiers of the garrison to defend them, the priests, monks and nuns fell prey to the republican militiamen. The 17 monks from the Carmelite monastery were rounded up, herded into the street and shot. In the square outside Toledo’s town hall the Madrid militia lit huge bonfires which were fueled with crucifixes, vestments, missals and any other religious items discovered in looted churches and houses. From their home, the South African poet and his family watched in horror as they saw the Carmelite library set ablaze.

Several days later the Campbells were visited by a search party of militiamen. Expecting such an intrusion, Roy and Mary had already taken the precaution of removing all crucifixes and religious pictures from the walls. Their main fear was that the trunk containing the Carmelite archives, including the personal letters of St John of the Cross, would be discovered. The search, however, was not particularly thorough. At one stage some of the militiamen even leaned their rifles on the trunk without thinking of opening it. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Checkmate of Pope Benedict

Our Holy Father works to unify the Church.
Pope Benedict has effectively brought the dialogue between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X to a magisterial conclusion.  Bishop Fellay has certainly transformed his way of looking at things.  In responding to the grave concerns of three SSPX bishops, Mons. Fellay is now selling Pope Benedict’s hermeneutic of continuity.  Or is he? (Read entire post.)

The Maternal Heart of Mary

From Father Mark in Ireland:
In his Marian Consecration of Priests at Fatima in May 2010, and again in Rome in June of the same year, Pope Benedict XVI chose to use, from among any number of expressions possible, that of the Maternal Heart. It was a remarkable English woman, the Venerable Mother Mary Potter (1847-1913), who, with energy and perseverance, devoted herself to promoting the title of the "Maternal Heart of Mary."
...Pope Leo XIII addressed the following words to the universal Church in his Encyclical Letter Octobri Mense:
Mary is this glorious intermediary; she is the mighty Mother of the Almighty; but-what is still sweeter - she is gentle, extreme in tenderness, of a limitless loving-kindness. As such God gave her to us. Having chosen her for the Mother of His only begotten Son, He implanted in her a maternal heart that breathes nothing but pardon and love. Such Christ desired she should be, for He consented to be subject to Mary and to obey her as a son a mother. Such He proclaimed her from the cross when he entrusted to her care and love the whole of the race of man in the person of His disciple John. Such, finally, she proves herself by her courage in gathering in the heritage of the enormous labours of her Son, and in accepting the charge of her maternal duties towards us all. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

St. Angelus

 Here is the biography of an extraordinary saint. To quote:
"Angelus came into Sicily with the religious who emigrated to the island from Carmel and he died there, according to the traditional data — which, however, seem worthy of belief — having been killed at Licata at the hands of "impious infidels", during the first half of the XIII cent. Since he was considered a martyr, a church was erected in his honor on the site of his death, and his body was placed upon an altar in the church. These brief details are gathered from the Catalogue of Saints, which dates from the end of the XIV cent. or the beginning of the XV, while another mention, gathered, it is said, about 1370 by Nicholas Processi, a beneficiary of St. John Lateran's, speaks of a visit of Angelus to Rome.

Especially well-known and widespread is the life written by a certain Henoch, who is said to have been a Carmelite and a patriarch of Jerusalem. (Read More)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Novena to Our Lady of Fatima


The novena to Our Lady of Fatima begins today:

Most holy Virgin, who hast deigned to come to Fatima, to reveal the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with a sincere love of this devotion, that meditating on the Mysteries of Our Redemption recalled therein, we may obtain the conversion of Russia. And (here name other favors you are praying for); which we ask you in this Novena, for greater glory of God, for your own honor, and for the good of souls. Amen.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Commending Oneself to Mary

A prayer.
O holy Mary, my Mistress, into thy blessed trust and special blessing, into the bosom of thy tender mercy, this day, every day of my life and at the hour of my death, I commend my soul and body; to thee I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life, that through thy most holy intercession and thy merits, all my actions may be ordered and disposed according to thy will and that of thy divine Son. Amen. (Read more.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Flame of Joy

From the biography of Sister Marie-Angélique of Jesus:
"With true psychological insight, Marie-Angélique in her Autobiography (unedited passage) noted the dangers of the musical art: the amount of work which this art imposes is not reconcilable with a life of pleasure, nor even with too easy a life. But Yvonne [Sr Marie-Angélique's baptismal name], so vibrant, did not ignore 'the extraordinary development which it gives to human passions.' - 'If the artist does not vibrate for God, joy, sorrow, hate, love increase -in nature- all the more as the art makes it vibrate further.'

And of the danger of vanity: 'to be tempted to vainglory, one has to be truly an artist.'

'Personally,' she adds, 'although I went through only the early stages of art, I can say that, by divine grace, my soul never vibrated except for its Creator. I don't believe that there has ever been a false note in my chant, yes, I have always had Jesus Christ in view but I have not escaped totally from the temptation of vainglory, and in spite of my vigilance, if my Savior had not withdrawn me from there, it is certainly by this way what I would have been lost. Thanks to the zeal of the divine Master for preserving me from all evil, indifferent to things from without, I passed that year entirely with Him.' One of Sr Marie-Angélique's novitiate companions later noted with what insistence she said to her one day: 'One must have tasted human glory in order to realize how intoxicating it is, what fascination it can exercise on the soul.'

This preservation extended to her entire life int he world, and one person who knew her well, could say: 'Yvonne passed by without seeing anything, her eyes fixed on her ideal. Nothing evil touched her, even lightly. She was really the rose that blossomed among thorns.'"

-- Flame of Joy: Souvenirs, Autobiography, Letters of  Marie-Angélique of Jesus, ocd

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Church in Pakistan

Let us pray for the brethren.
Six people – including two children – were burned alive in anti-Christian attacks on 1st August 2009. That same day, an elderly man – the children’s grandfather – was shot dead. The killings happened as thousands of people rampaged through the Christian quarter of Gojra in the Punjab Province. It had been reported that Christians had cut up pages of the Qur’an to make wedding confetti. The mob, carrying sticks, clubs and firearms, attacked property including more than 150 homes and two churches.

This attack – described in detail on pp103-04 – is one of many inextricably linked to the country’s blasphemy laws (paragraphs B and C of Section 295 of Pakistan’s Penal Code). Offences against the Qur’an receive a sentence of life imprisonment and insults against the Prophet Mohammed can be punished by death. According to the Catholic Church’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), between 1986 and 2010 at least 993 people were charged with either desecrating the Qur’an or slandering Mohammed. Most of the charges have been brought against Muslims: 479 of the accused were Muslims (many from the Shia group) and 340 were Ahmadis, an Islamic religious movement regarded by many orthodox Muslims as heretical. 120 of those accused were Christians.

Reports show that the blasphemy laws are often invoked by people with a personal vendetta against a particular group or individual. Since 2001 at least 50 Christians have been killed by those using the blasphemy laws as a pretext. Accusations against alleged blasphemers are often false or motivated by petty interests, encouraging mobs to mete out rough justice without reference to the law. (Read more.)
HERE is an interview with a Pakinstani bishop, via Zenit.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Birth of Our Holy Mother St. Teresa

Avila celebrates the birth of La Santa.
AVILA-SPAIN (28-03-2012).- A solemn celebration of the Eucharist, at which presided the Vicar Provincial of the Castile province, Fr Luis Javier Fernández Frontela, brought to the close a day full of events to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Saint Teresa of Jesus.

Religious from throughout the city, together with a great number of others, gathered to take part in the Eucharist celebrated in the “La Santa” church which is built over the house where Teresa of Jesus was born.

In his sermon, Fr Luis Javier mentioned incidents from the childhood of this saint from Avila, and stressed the importance of family, the home and family house in the early years of the one who was to become the foundress of the Discalced Carmel. (Read entire post.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Illusion of Coziness

Easter, or Pascha as the Church calls it in her official liturgical books, is about moving out and moving on. Out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Out of darkness into light. Out of sin into holiness. Out of decrepitude into vigor. Out of a pitiful self-absorption into fascination with the beauty of holiness that shines on the Face of Christ. Out of death into life.
The Illusion of Coziness
It is a strange thing that, when it comes to getting on with it spiritually, some of us drag our feet. There is something inside us that remains attached to that old life of bondage under Pharaoh in Egypt. We reminisce about the "bad old days" and our imagination twists them into the "good old days" that they never were. There is nothing worthy of nostalgia about living in sin, under sin, or with sin. One of the devil's ploys is to make us feel comfortable in our sins. He likes nothing better than to appeal to our innate desire for feeling cozy, and he creates the illusion of coziness by using our sins. In this way, he suggests that we really need not move forward, that things are fine just as they are, and that those think otherwise are either fanatics or idealists.
Today's Introit says that the Lord brought forth His people with joy, and His chosen ones with gladness. Joy because a new life was opening before them. Gladness because God had taken care of their enemies -- a symbol of the old sins that pursue us -- by sending them headlong into the churning waters of the Red Sea. Joy, because "the strife was o'er, the battle won." Gladness because, as the Exultet puts it, we have been "restored to grace . . . and separated from the vices of the world and the darkness of sinners." (Read entire post.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rogation Days

Scott Richert explains what they are, since most of us have no idea. Rogation Days are one of those many things that the Second Vatican Council did not abolish but made optional, which then, for some reason, led to them being completely forgotten. Perhaps if we revive such public devotions in a spirit of penitence, God will guide the Church out of the bog of scandal into which she has fallen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mystogia

Fr. Angelo on the discipline of the secret.
Even so, we may regret, at least theoretically, the complete loss of the discipline of the secret, especially today when the introduction of the mundane and even the profane into the precincts of our sanctuaries have stripped the faithful of a sense of the sacred and mysterious.  The tragic consequence of this has been the systematic cultivation of irreverence.

But the discipline of the secret is built into the sacred mysteries we celebrate during Easter.  Our Lord celebrated the first Mass in the upper room into which he ensconced the apostles for the preservation of the mysteries of Holy Thursday.  Into that enclosed space they would return, as a huddled and fearful band, after the events of Good Friday, and into that enclosed and locked space Our Lord would reenter in order to reveal to them that which he did not reveal to all.  As St. Peter said of himself and his companions, the Lord manifested Himself not to all the people, but to witnesses preordained by God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him, after he arose again from the dead (Acts 10:41).

Our Lord also initially hid Himself from His inner circle, as He did to St. Mary Magdalen at the Holy Sepulcher, to the disciples on the road to Emmaus and to Peter and his companions at the Lake of Galilee.  Certainly this deprivation of their ability to recognize Him was symbolic of their own lack of faith and of the power of the Resurrection to break down that barrier against faith. They knew him in the breaking of bread (Lk 24:35).  But may we not also reflect that the revelation of what was hidden underscores the mysterious content of the faith and the mystical or dark way in which the activity of God touches our soul?

St. Bonaventure says that we must enter the tomb with Jesus—into another enclosed space—and there we must die and experience the suspension of our senses.  He is not necessarily referring to ecstasy, but what belongs more fundamentally to the mystical life, namely, a new way of thinking that is not dependent on what we see, but on what the Lord tells us.  Of course, first of all that means what the Church teaches, but it also must mean the manner in which we assimilate it through our own efforts to surrender in faith in the silence of prayer. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

On Persecution

Our Holy Father the Pope invites us to face persecution with prayer, as did the martyrs before us.
As with the first Christian community, prayer helps us to interpret personal and collective history according to the right and faithful perspective, that of God. And we too want to renew the request for the gift of the Holy Spirit, that warms the heart and illumines the mind, to see how the Lord realizes what we plead for according to his will of love and not according to our ideas. Guided by the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, we will be able to face every situation of life with serenity, courage and joy and boast with St. Paul “in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces patience, patience proved virtue and proved virtue hope”: that hope that “does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been bestowed upon us” (Romans 5:3-5). (Read entire post.)
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Friday, April 20, 2012

The Soul of the Apostolate

Dom Chautard and living a devout life in the world. As Fr. Angelo says:
As anyone who is trying to live the interior life knows, there is an inherent tension between the interior and active life, and though in no way mutually exclusive, one can tend to dominate and destroy the other.  In the vast majority of cases it is the active life and encroaches on the interior life, because, in fact, it is easier to be active than prayerful.  In fact, Dom Chautard writes that nothing is more difficult than fidelity to the interior life.  It also may and does happen that certain interior souls adopt unsound habits and allow their personal devotions to impinge upon their responsibilities, for example, a mother to her children, but by far the most common problem is that we sacrifice our prayer to our work.  This problem is critical because of the primacy of prayer over action: without grace our work has no merit and prayer is our conduit to the grace of God. (Read entire post.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

On Beauty

From a Carmelite friar (via The Association of Catholic Women Bloggers):
Rarely do we ever receive direct access into God, but when our lives are in harmony — with those around us, with nature, and especially interiorly — we become aware of all the interconnections and how exquisitely they are crafted. And in times of super-harmony, all the events of our lives make sense and fit together. Then, we begin to understand the Composer and even glimpse the Composer. Yes, I think we see God’s Beauty when we strive to live in harmony and peace with our neighbor and strive to find interior harmony and interior peace. Therefore, to live a spiritual life is to strive to live a harmonious life. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Come to Me

It is already the marriage supper of the Lamb. As Father Mark says:
How are we to understand this Introit today? Our Lord is addressing the newly-baptized. His first word to them is, "Come." Venite, benedicti Patris mei. Where else do we hear this same word, Venite, in the mouth of Jesus? In Matthew 11:28: "Come to me, all you that labour and are burdened; I will give you rest." I see Our Lord pronouncing this word with His arms spread wide in a gesture of welcome. The hands nailed to the wood of the Cross shine with His glorious wounds. His Holy Face is radiant. A torrent of light flows from His Open Side. When He says, "Come," who can resist His invitation?

Our Lord calls the newly-baptized benedicti Patris mei, blessed of my Father. Is not this what Saint Paul develops in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Ephesians? "Blessed be that God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us, in Christ, with every spiritual blessing, higher than heaven itself" (Eph 1:3). There is no greater blessing than incorporation into the Body of Christ that is the Church. The children of the Church, the Bride of Christ, are nourished from the altar of His Sacrifice with the mysteries of His Body and Blood. It is in the Eucharist that we are blessed, here and now, with every spiritual blessing, higher than heaven itself.
To receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion is to receive "the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world" (Mt 25:34). The Most Holy Eucharist is a foretaste of heaven. It is already the "Wedding Banquet of the Lamb" (Ap 19:9). The Orthodox theologian, Father Alexander Schmemann, calls the Eucharist, "the ascent of the Church to the heavenly altar." The kingdom prepared for us since the foundation of the world is offered to us sacramentally in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Mass is the Church assumed into heaven, and heaven filling the Church.
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