Wednesday, February 29, 2012

St. Hedwig

So young a queen.
Born, 1371. Died, 17 July 1399 during child birth. Hedwig was the youngest daughter of King Louis I of Hungary. Because she was great-niece to King Casimir III of Poland, she became Queen of Poland in 1382 upon her father‘s death. She was engaged to William, Duke of Austria, whom she loved, but broke off the relationship in order to marry Jagiello, non-Christian Prince of Lithuania, for political reasons.

In 1384, upon the death of Louis I of Hungary and Poland, the Polish nobles, having crowned his daughter Hedwig, decided that as the new queen was but fifteen years old, she must be provided with a consort capable of protecting her dominions. Their choice fell upon Jagiello, or Jagello, the Prince of Lithuania, whose hostility to the Teutonic Order made him their natural ally. (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

St. Anne Line

Killed for trying to protect priests.
She was the daughter of William Heigham of Dunmow, Essex, a gentleman of means and an ardent Calvinist, and when she and her brother announced their intention of becoming Catholics both were disowned and disinherited. Anne married Roger Line, a convert like herself, and shortly after their marriage he was apprehended for attending Mass. After a brief confinement he was released and permitted to go into exile in Flanders, where he died in 1594.

When Father John Gerard established a house of refuge for priests in London, Mrs. Line was placed in charge. After Father Gerard’s escape from the Tower in 1597, as the authorities were beginning to suspect her assistance, she removed to another house, which she made a rallying point for neighboring Catholics.

On Candlemas Day, 1601, Father Francis Page, S.J. was about to celebrate Mass in her apartments, when priest-catchers broke into the rooms. Father Page quickly unvested, and mingled with the others, but the altar prepared for the ceremony was all the evidence needed for the arrest of Mrs. Line. She was tried at the Old Bailey 26 Feb., 1601, and indicted under the Act of 27 Eliz. for harboring a priest, though this could not be proved. The next day she was led to the gallows, and bravely proclaiming her faith, achieved the martyrdom for which she had prayed. Her fate was shared by two priests, [Blessed] Mark Barkworth, O.S.B., and Roger Filcock, S.J., who were executed at the same time. (Read entire post.)

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Judgment of God

From an old homily.
Make use of the time given you to work your salvation, and live such a life as may end with a happy death, and so obtain that favorable judgment which shall say: "Come, O soul, blessed of God my Father, possess the kingdom which is prepared for you from the beginning of the world."

There is no better means to avoid the rigor of God's judgments than to consider them continuously. Imitate the tree ... which, being designed to make a ship, and finding itself wind-shaken as it grew upon the land, said, "What will become of me in the sea?" If we be already moved in this world by the sole consideration of the punishment due to sin, think what it will be in that vast sea and dreadful abyss of God's judgment....
Nicolas Caussin, S.I.
La sagesse évangelique pour les sacrés entretiens de carême
1635
(Transl.: Sir Basil Brooke, adapted)
(Read entire post.)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Practice of the Presence of God

Here is a magnificent passage from Fr. Killian Lynch, O.Carm.:
This hunger for God is our opportunity, as Carmelites – sons and daughters of the Prophet – to present the Practice of the Presence of God to our age in such a way that it will be relevant. It is our duty to re-vitalize this old Exercise that has been the very substance of Carmelite spirituality.

The time seems to be opportune. Fr. Dalrymple, who is a man of wide experience in England, holds that young people today find the beginnings of their prayer in things about them, especially in people, and from there they rise to God. He adds that “The idea of presence is an increasingly meaningful one to describe prayer and contemplation. By considering the different ways we are present to a stranger, a friend and a lover, we can see how prayer develops beyond the stage of saying prayers to an abiding sense of being with God in all the multifarious activities of the day till an enduring relationship (I-Thou) to God is achieved.” [4] (Read entire post.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Confidence in God's Love

Fr. Mark offers some quotes from the great St. Peter Damian.
Your heart should beat with confidence in God's love and not grow hard and impenitent in the face of your great crime. It is not sinners, but the wicked who should despair; it is not the magnitude of one's crime, but contempt of God that dashes one's hopes. If, indeed, the devil is so powerful that he is able to hurl you into the depths of this vice, how much more effective is the strength of Christ to restore you to the lofty position from which you have plummeted? "Shall he that has fallen never get up again?" (Psalm 40:9). "If the ass of your flesh has fallen amuck under its load," (cf. Exodus 23:5) it is the goad of penance that urges it and the hand of the spirit that manfully draws it free. . . .

Thursday, February 23, 2012

In the Desert with Jesus

Fr. Mark quotes the holy Benedictine abbess, Mother Mechtilde de Bar:
We must flee from creatures, withdraw into solitude, and keep a profound silence, and, through these things, enter into the dispositions of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not necessary that we should go looking for Him in the deserts of Palestine, where once He withdrew and fasted for forty days. He is solitary in the desert of the Most Holy Sacrament: there He has taken upon Himself the sins of all men, becoming (for our sakes) the penitent of the Eternal Father. (Read entire post.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Consecration to Mary

Among the devotions which enrich this sacred season, I would not hesitate to recommend making the total consecration to Mary according to St. Louis Grignion de Montfort. For those who wish to make their consecration on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, then today begins the thirty-three days of spiritual excercises.

Such are the great men who are to come. By the will of God, Mary is to prepare them to extend his rule over the impious and unbelievers..... They will carry the crucifix in their right hand and the rosary in their left, and the holy names of Jesus and Mary on their heart. ~ The Secret of Mary

Saturday, February 18, 2012

St. Claude in England

The spread of the Sacred Heart devotion.
Of a sudden, at the end of 1678, he was calumniously accused and arrested in connection with the Titus Oates "papist plot". After two days he was transferred to the severe King's Bench Prison where he remained for three weeks in extremely poor conditions until his expulsion from England by royal decree. This suffering further weakened Claude's health which, with ups and downs, deteriorated rapidly on his return to France.

During the summer of 1681 he returned to Paray, in very poor condition. On 15th February 1682, the first Sunday of Lent, towards evening Claude suffered the severe hemorrhage which ended his life.

On the 16th of June 1929 Pope Pius XI beatified Claude La Colombière, whose charism, according to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, was that of bringing souls to God along the gospel way of love and mercy which Christ revealed to us.
(Read entire post.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Seven Servites

Seven young men who left the world.
This order was founded on the feast of the Assumption, 1233 when the Blessed Virgin appeared to seven noble Florentines, Buonfiglio dei Monaldi (Bonfilius), Giovanni di Buonagiunta (Bonajuncta), Bartolomeo degli Amidei (Amideus), Ricovero dei Lippi-Ugguccioni (Hugh), Benedetto dell’ Antella (Manettus), Gherardino di Sostegno (Sosteneus), and Alessio de’ Falconieri (Alexius). They belonged to seven patrician families of that city, and had earlier formed a confraternity of laymen, known as the Laudesi, or Praisers of Mary.

Our Lady bade them leave the world and live for God alone. On the following feast of her Nativity, 8 September, they retired to La Camarzia, just outside the walls of the city, and later on to Monte Senario, eleven miles from Florence.

Here again they had a vision of the Blessed Virgin. In her hands she held a black habit; a multitude of angels surrounded her, some bearing the different instruments of the Passion, one holding the Rule of St. Augustine, whilst another offered with one hand a scroll, on which appeared the title of Servants of Mary surrounded by golden rays, and with the other a palm branch. She addressed to them the following words: “I have chosen you to be my first Servants, and under this name you are to till my Son’s Vineyard. Here, too, is the habit which you are to wear; its dark colour will recall the pangs which I suffered on the day when I stood by the Cross of my only Son. Take also the Rule of St. Augustine, and may you, bearing the title of my Servants, obtain the palm of everlasting life.”

Among the holy men of the order was St. Philip Benizi, who was born on the day the Blessed Virgin first appeared to the Seven Founders (15 August), and afterwards became the great propagator of the order. The order developed rapidly not only in Italy but also in France and Germany, where the holy founders themselves spread devotion to the Sorrows of Mary. Their glorious son St. Philip continued the work and thus merited the title of Eighth Founder of the Order. The distinctive spirit of the order is the sanctification of its members by meditation on the Passion of Jesus and the Sorrows of Mary, and spreading abroad this devotion. (Read entire post.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

La Salle Martyrs to be Beatified

According to Zenit:
A great number of Church buildings were attacked and set on fire in 1931, including the most important school of the La Salle Brothers, the school Las Maravillas of Madrid. Moreover, some brothers who were canonized by Pope John Paul II -- I say canonized, because there was a miracle after their beatification -- were killed in Turón, Asturias, in 1934.

Then the Civil War followed and the killings continued and even worsened. At times things get somewhat mixed up and from this stems the mistake I just mentioned. It is the task of canonical processes to demonstrate with documents and testimonies the solely religious reasons that caused so many deaths. (Read entire article.)

"Soeur Espagne, sainte Espagne... tu as choisi!
Onze évêques, seize-mille prêtres massacrés... et pas une apostasie!"


~ Paul Claudel, "Aux martyrs espagnols"

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Virgin of the Poor

Fr. Mark reminds us of the Virgin of the Poor.
At Banneux, the Blessed Virgin revealed herself under two names. On January 19th, 1933, she said to little Mariette Béco, "I am the Virgin of the Poor." On the following March 2nd, she added, "I am the Mother of the Saviour, the Mother of God." Three times in the course of the apparitions, the Blessed Virgin asked Mariette to pray much. On Saturday, February 11th, she said, "I come to relieve suffering." (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Five Martyrs and Their Shrine

From Supremacy and Survival:
Haydock had for a long time shown a great devotion to St. Dorothy, and was accustomed to commit himself and his actions to her daily protection. It may be that he first entered the college at Douai on that day in 1574-5, but this is uncertain. The "Concertatio Ecclesiae" says he was arrested on this day in 1581-2, but the Tower bills state that he was committed to the Tower on the 5th, in which case he was arrested on the 4th. On Friday the 7th all five were found guilty, and sentenced to death. The other four were committed in shackles to "the pit" in the Tower, but Haydock, probably lest he should elude the executioner by a natural death, was sent back to his old quarters. Early on Wednesday the 12th he said Mass, and later the five priests were drawn to Tyburn on hurdles; Haydock, being probably the youngest and certainly the weakest in health, was the first to suffer. An eyewitness has given us an account of their martyrdom, which Father Pollen, S.J., has printed in the fifth volume of the Catholic Record Society. (Read entire post.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Blessed Thomas Sherwood

An English layman, tortured for the Faith.
He was by profession a wool draper and was associated with other Catholic families, in particular the family of Lady Tregonwell. The son of Lady Tregonwell turned him in to the authorities, who sent him to the Tower of London. There he was tortured in order to discover where he heard Mass, who the priest was who celebrated the Mass, and the names of other Catholics with whom he was associated.

St. Thomas More's son-in-law, William Roper, tried to send him money for medicine and food, but the officer at the Tower would not permit money to be spent on anything but clean straw for him to sleep on. Blessed Thomas Sherwood was twenty-seven years old at the time of his arrest, and his brother wrote an account of his sufferings and martyrdom. We also possess the directions given to the lieutenant of the Tower from the privy council, ordering him to obtain information from Thomas Sherwood on the rack. After his execution, his mother was arrested and put in prison, where she died fourteen years later. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Le Pèlerinage de Lourdes

A meditation from Pope Pius XII.
In many ways the nineteenth century was to become, after the turmoil of the Revolution, a century of Marian favors. To mention but a single instance, everyone is familiar today with the "miraculous medal." This medal, with its image of "Mary conceived without sin," was revealed to a humble daughter of Saint Vincent de Paul... .

A few years later, from February 11 to July 16, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary was pleased, as a new favor, to manifest herself in the territory of the Pyrenees to a pious and pure child of a poor, hardworking, Christian family. "She came to Bernadette," We once said. "She made her her confidante, her collaboratrix, the instrument of her maternal tenderness and of the merciful power of her Son, to restore the world in Christ through a new and incomparable outpouring of the Redemption."

...
In a society which is barely conscious of the ills which assail it, which conceals its miseries and injustices beneath a prosperous, glittering, and trouble-free exterior, the Immaculate Virgin, whom sin has never touched, manifests herself to an innocent child. With a mother's compassion she looks upon this world redeemed by her Son's blood, where sin accomplishes so much ruin daily, and three times makes her urgent appeal: "Penance, penance, penance!" She even appeals for outward expressions: "Go kiss the earth in penance for sinners." And to this gesture must be added a prayer: "Pray to God for sinners."

As in the days of John the Baptist, as at the start of Jesus' ministry, this command, strong and rigorous, shows men the way which leads back to God: "Repent!" Who would dare to say that this appeal for the conversion of hearts is untimely today?

... the world, which today affords so many justifiable reasons for pride and hope, is also undergoing a terrible temptation to materialism ...

This materialism is not confined to that condemned philosophy which dictates the policies and economy of a large segment of mankind. It rages also in a love of money which creates ever greater havoc as modern enterprises expand, and which, unfortunately, determines many of the decisions which weigh heavy on the life of the people. It finds expression in the cult of the body, in excessive desire for comforts, and in flight from all the austerities of life. It encourages scorn for human life, even for life which is destroyed before seeing the light of day. ...

May priests be attentive to [the Blessed Virgin's] appeal and have the courage to preach the great truths of salvation fearlessly. The only lasting renewal, in fact, will be one based on the changeless principles of faith, and it is the duty of priests to form the consciences of Christian people. (Read entire post.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Saint Scholastica on Lent

Preparing for Lent by reading the wisdom of the past. The Holy Abbess says:
My venerable brother recommends four Lenten practices: “prayer with tears, reading, compunction of heart, and abstinence” (RB 49:4). The first, prayer with tears, has always come easily to me. God has never refused me anything I asked of him with tears. I have no doubt that he “has set my tears in his sight” (Ps 55:9). Tears in prayer are no cause for alarm. The heart pressed by the hand of God in prayer weeps just as a sponge held tightly in your hand or mine gives forth water.

Sacred reading is my brother’s second Lenten practice. He considers it so important that he completely changes the horarium of his monastery during Lent to make more time for it. Here we do the same. Nothing is done at Monte Cassino that we do not do here at Plombariola. In Lent our hours of reading are “from the morning until the end of the Third Hour” (RB 48:14). This means we do not begin work after Prime, as is the custom at other times, but consecrate to sacred reading the best three hours of the morning. We are alert then, and the early morning light in the cloister is wonderfully clear and bright. (Read entire post.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Quis ut Deus?

Esther and I are reading the same book. Some thoughts, here:
Who is like God?

According to Father Charles Arminjon, the above was the war-cry uttered in heaven at the very beginning of time. This was cried out right from the moment when Lucifer the most "dazzling and radiant of the archangels" rebelled against God and became the ugliest and basest of the devils.

"There was then a great battle, in which truth and justice triumphed. The archangel Michael drew attention to the excellence and dignity of the Most High God. He reminded the good angels of the beneficence of Him who had created them... he kept them in fidelity and submission by saying to them, 'Quis ut Deus? Who is like God?'"...
At the time Father wrote his book The End of the Present World, (that is to say in 1881) he enjoined Christians to utter that battle-cry in order to awake the complacent and those blinded to the growing evils in the world. He wrote:
"Modern society today, in the face of heaven and earth, has proclaimed the most audacious boast every conceived by human pride; it declares that it will exclude God from laws and institutions, creating a social order and felicity completely independent of Him; and, confronted with this satanic design, it is our duty to protest loudly, saying, with the archangel, Quis ut Deus?
The foregoing could have been written in the present! We see our society more and more accepting of sin and evil and those who oppose it are maligned as the enemy. But take heart! Good will triumph over evil! It may not be an easy road to follow, but Christians cannot lose sight of God; we cannot lose hope. (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Castle at Lourdes



Aside from being the site of the famous apparitions of 1858, Lourdes has an interesting history, surprisingly turbulent at times for a place that is truly in the middle of nowhere. Most of the events were focused on the Château-Fort de Lourdes, the old castle which was at one time a Moorish stronghold, although its origins go back to antiquity. According to a traveler's guide:

The Gauls, Roman, Barbars and Moors successively took turns to strengthen the Lourdes rock on which the castle stands. This antique fortress is clothed in legend. In 778, Charlemagne and his army besieged the castle which was occupied at the time by Mirat, the Saracen, and his Moors. Despite attacks by the Francs and the onslaught of famine, Lourdes castle remained impenetrable.

Suddenly an eagle appeared in the sky. It flew around the fort and dropped an enormous trout from its beak, which landed at Mirat's feet. The clever Moor grabbed the fish and took it to Charlemagne to make him believe that he still had plenty of food reserves.

Charlemagne was just preparing to lift the siege when Turpin, his friend and Bishop of Puy-en-Velay, became inspired and was granted permission to go and talk to the besieged. He suggested that Mirat surrender, not to the sovereign but to the Queen of the skies.

This proposal pleased the Moor leader who promptly set down his weapons at the foot of the Black Virgin of Puy and was baptized. On the day of his baptism, Mirat was given the name "Lorus". This name was transferred to the village, which, in time, became Lourdes.
When I first visited Lourdes in April 1994 the castle intrigued me almost as much as did the shrines. I had never heard of it until arriving there, and when our guide took us up inside, the view of the Pyrenees was breathtaking. There are all kinds of legends and mysteries associated with the castle, including the caves which lie underneath the edifice. I decided to make it the setting for a novel about the Cathars, since for a time it had been a Cathar fortress. In spite of heresy and turmoil, it is a spot favored by the Mother of God.

Novena Prayer

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

Friday, February 3, 2012

St. Blase

"Through the intercession of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
(Blessing of Saint Blase)

More here. And HERE.
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