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.)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Days of Fire and Light

Don Marco has a fascinating post about how the suppression of the Octave of Pentecost in 1969 made Pope Paul VI weep. I love the octaves of the great solemnities. Certain feasts are too wonderful to be confined to one day. It takes an octave to absorb the joy and mystery which even in a lifetime we can never fully comprehend. (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.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Our Lady, Help of Christians

The history of the feast.
This commemoration was introduced in the liturgical calendar by decree of Pope Pius VII on September 16, 1815, in thanksgiving for his happy return to Rome after a long and painful captivity in Savona and France due to Napoleon’s tyrannical power.

By order of Napoleon, Pius VII was arrested, 5 July, 1808, and detained a prisoner for three years at Savona, and then at Fontainebleau. In January, 1814, after the battle of Leipzig, he was brought back to Savona and set free, 17 March, on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, the Patroness of Savona.
The journey to Rome was a veritable triumphal march. The pontiff, attributing the victory of the Church after so much agony and distress to the Blessed Virgin, visited many of her sanctuaries on the way and crowned her images (e.g. the “Madonna del Monte” at Cesena, “della Misericordia” at Treja, “della Colonne” and “della Tempestà” at Tolentino). The people crowded the streets to catch a glimpse of the venerable pontiff who had so bravely withstood the threats of Napoleon. He entered Rome, 24 May, 1814, and was enthusiastically welcomed.  (McCaffrey, “History of the Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Cent.”, 1909, I, 52).

The invocation “Help of the Christians” is very old, having been included in the Litany of Loreto by Pope Saint Pius V in 1571, as a token of gratitude to the Most Holy Virgin, by virtue of Christendom’s’ victory in the famous battle of Lepanto. (Read entire article.)

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.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Apparition of St. Michael the Archangel

Here is a post about the Defender of the people of God.
"That the blessed Archangel Michael hath oftentimes been seen of men is attested on the authority of the Holy Bible, and also by the ancient traditions of the Saints.  For this reason such visions are held in remembrance in many places.  As of old time did the Synagogue of the Jews, so now doth the Church of God venerate Michael as her watcher and defender.  But during the Popedom of Gelasius I, the summit of Mount Gargano in Apulia, at whose foot lieth the town of Siponto, was the scene of an extraordinary appearance of this same Archangel Michael.
And it came to pass on this wise.  A certain man had a bull grazing with the flock upon Mount Gargano, and it strayed.  And when they had sought it for a long while they found it jammed in the mouth of a cavern.  Then one that stood there shot an arrow at it to slay it, but the arrow turned round and came back against him that had shot it.  They therefore that saw it, and all those that heard it, were sore afraid because of that which had come to pass, so that no man dared any more to draw near to the cavern.  But when they had sought counsel of the Bishop of Siponto, he answered, that it behooved to seek the interpretation from God, and proclaimed three days of fasting and prayer.
After three days the Archangel Michael gave warning to the Bishop that that place was under his protection, and that he had thus pointed out by a sign that he wished that worship should be offered to God there, with remembrance of himself and of the Angels.  Then the Bishop and the citizens made haste and came to the cavern; and when they found that the form thereof was somewhat after the fashion of a Church  they began to perform the public worship of God  therein: which sanctuary hath been glorified with many miracles.  It was not long after these things that Pope Boniface IV hallowed the Church of St. Michael on Hadrian's Mole at Rome, on the 29th day of September, on the which day the Church also holdeth in remembrance All Angels.  But this present day is hallowed in remembrance of the manifestation of the Archangel Michael."
-- From the Breviary of St Pius X (1911)
More HERE.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

By His Holy and Glorious Wounds

The Cross triumphant.
Although the Feast of the Finding (or Invention) of the Holy Cross on 3 May was removed from more recent liturgical books, it remains in the 1934 edition of the Benedictine Antiphonale that is still widely used, and continues to be celebrated in not a few Benedictine monasteries. While the Office is substantially the same as on 14 September (The Exaltation of the Holy Cross), on 3 May it is shot through and through with alleluias. It presents a vision of the Passion and Cross of the Lord in the light of the Resurrection. Theologically, mystically, and catechetically the Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross on 3 May is a liturgical piece of genius.

The feast commemorates Saint Helena's finding of the Cross in Jerusalem, and the signs and wonders that accompanied it and verified its authenticity. Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, carried part of the Cross back to Rome, where it was enshrined in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, on the site of the Sessorian palace.

The entire Mass and Office of the Finding of the Holy Cross deserve to be meditated and held in the heart. The liturgical texts of the feast demonstrate and support that, far from being inappropriate during Paschaltide, the contemplation and celebration of the mysteries of the Lord's Passion and Cross emerge, in the light of these fifty days of jubilation, as an inexhaustible wellspring of healing and of hope. (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
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