Monday, December 30, 2013

Our Lady of Zeitoun and the Flight into Egypt

Unveiling the Apocalypse offers an intriguing interpretation of Scripture and approved apparitions of modern times. To quote:
Despite being officially recognised as authentic by the local Cardinal Patriarch, the fact that Our Lady chose to appear over Coptic churches in Egypt, rather than Catholic churches elsewhere in the world has baffled some commentators, and can perhaps explain the lack of adequate devotion to these apparitions amongst Catholics.  It seems that many have failed to recognise the true significance of these apparitions lies above all in their timing and location. The Virgin Mary chose to appear over Coptic churches for two very simple reasons - firstly because she is re-tracing the steps of the Holy Family's flight into Egypt (and the vast majority of churches in Egypt are Coptic, especially those in locations associated with the sojourn of the Holy Family), and secondly, that despite not being in full communion with Rome, they show that Our Lady has deep love and respect for the Coptic Church, which like the rest of Oriental Orthodoxy, as well as the Eastern Orthodox Church, offers a great devotion to her.
 
While some have recognised that Our Lady is in some way re-enacting the journey of the Holy Family during their flight into Egypt, none (to my knowledge) have went on to ponder the primary reason for their escape into the Egyptian wilderness and attempt to re-apply the same conditions to a modern context; or compare them with the account of Woman adorned with the Sun given in Rev 12 - which is basically the story of the nativity seen through an apocalyptic lens. 
 
The main and indeed only reason that the Holy Family fled into Egypt, was to escape from King Herod, who in an attempt to quash any potential Messianic usurpers to his throne, had ordered the massacre of any infants in the vicinity of Bethlehem under two years of age:
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. (Matt 2:13-21)
 (Read more.)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Example of St. Joseph

In the words of Our Holy Father Pope Francis:
The Gospel does not explain his thoughts, but it tells us the basics: he seeks to do God's will and is ready to make a radical renunciation. Instead of defending himself and asserting his rights, Joseph chooses a solution that represents, for him, a great sacrifice. And the Gospel tells us that Joseph, 'being a righteous man and unwilling to disgrace her, decided to divorce her secretly'. This short sentence encapsulates a real inner drama, if we consider Joseph's love for Mary. But, as in the case of Abraham, the Lord intervenes: 'Joseph, son of David', he said, 'don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit'. (Read more.)

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Meditations from Fr. Mark. To quote:
In the end, for those who allow themselves to be illumined by the grace of the sacred liturgy today, there is a return to the song of the beginning. “Rejoicing, I will rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God. He has clothed me with the garment of salvation, and with the robe of justice he has wrapped me about, as a bride adorned with her jewels” (Is 61:10). This is the song not only of the beginning of today’s Mass; it is the song of Mary’s beginning in her mother’s womb. It is the song of every new beginning in grace. It is the song of every man and woman once paralyzed by fear, but now set free to stand unafraid in the sight of the Father. It is the song of every heart darkened and stained by sin, but now made bright and clean by grace. It is the song of every life wounded by sin, but healed by the Sun of Justice who, even now, will rise glorious above the altar “with healing in his wings” (Mal 4:2). The last word and the first belong to joy. (Read more.)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent Begins

From Fr. Mark:
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
In less than four weeks time we will be singing the opening antiphon of First Vespers of Christmas: Rex pacificus magnificatus est, cujus vultum desiderat universa terra, “The King of Peace is magnified, whose countenance the whole world desires [to see]“. Christ is the King of Peace. At His birth the choirs of angels filled the skies over Bethlehem, singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will” (Luke 2:14). The angels knew that the Son of God had come to establish peace between heaven and earth. Whereas Adam’s sin had set earth against heaven, and caused heaven to weep over the sin that devastated the face of the earth, Christ, by His coming, fulfilled the psalmist’s prophecy that earth would be be inhabited by peacemakers, and that He would give peace to all who would welcome Him into their hearts and allow Him to rule over them as King. “The meek shall inherit the land, and shall delight in abundance of peace” (Psalm 36:11). (Read more.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Remedies for Sadness and Melancholy

From St. Francis de Sales:
Vigorously resist all tendencies to melancholy, and although all you do may seem to be done coldly, wearily and indifferently, do not give in.

The Enemy strives to make us languid in doing good by depression, but when he sees that we do not cease our efforts to work, and that those efforts become all the more earnest by reason of their being made in resistance to him, he leaves off troubling us.

Make use of hymns and spiritual songs; they have often frustrated the Evil One in his operations, as was the case when the evil spirit which possessed Saul was driven forth by music and psalmody.

It is well also to occupy yourself in external works, and that with as much variety as may lead us to divert the mind from the subject which oppresses it, and to cheer and kindle it, for depression generally makes us dry and cold. (Read more.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Comets and Prophecy

From Unveiling the Apocalypse:
The recent outburst of activity in ISON has helped to dispel some of the fears that this comet will turn out to be a dud, and it still has plenty of potential to put on a spectacular display in December, as it emerges from its close encounter with the Sun expelling large amounts of dust and gas from the melting ice of its nucleus. Given that ISON is a "sun-grazing" comet, and that its course will bring it perilously close to to the Sun, there is a strong chance that it will break up during perihelion, before the full potential of its display is realised. If it emerges from perihelion intact however, it will have the potential to be one of the greatest comets of the 21st century. During perihelion on Nov 28th, when it makes its closest approach to the Sun, ISON will be practicably unobservable from earth, and will not be seen again until it emerges from the Sun's glare in early to mid December, and theoretically, it should be at its most impressive state when it makes it closest approach to earth on 26th December - the feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
If it does indeed put on its greatest display at this time, it will be tempting to link this the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, that took place on this exact date, and which I believe was connected in some way with the Signs in the Sky that appeared during the turn of the millennium, and may foreshadow events to come:
“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken". (Luke 21:25-26)
 (Read more.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

St. Teresa of Avila and Our Lady

The French Carmelite Père Joseph de Saint Marie, OCD, in some of his conferences on St. Teresa and in his book Notre Dame du Mont-Carmel remarks about the fact that many of the significant events in St. Teresa's life happened on or around the feast of the Assumption. Her vision of hell, which inspired her to begin the monastic reform, occurred in the month of August, as did the foundation of St. Joseph's monastery in Avila. Two magnificent visions of Our Lady took place, in different years, on August 15. In her Life, St. Teresa describes the visions. Of the first one she writes:

...In a rapture there was pictured to me [Our Lady's] ascent into Heaven and the joy and solemnity with which she was received in the place where she now is. To explain how this happened would be impossible for me. Exceeding great was the glory which filled my spirit when it saw such glory. The fruits of the vision were wonderful and I was left with a great desire to serve Our Lady, because of her surpassing merits....
In the second apparition, which occurred on August 15, 1561, St. Teresa found herself transfigured, with Our Lady on her right and St. Joseph on her left. They clothed her in a mantle of great "whiteness and brightness," which meant she was "cleansed of [her] sins." According to St. Teresa's autobiography: "Our Lady suddenly took me by the hands and told me that I was giving her great pleasure by serving St. Joseph and that I might be sure that all I was trying to do about the convent would be accomplished and that both the Lord and they would be greatly served in it." Our Lady gave her a jeweled cross on a golden chain (similar to that of an abbess) signifying the saint's authority as a mother foundress. The vision left St. Teresa feeling "greatly comforted and full of peace." In such mystical experiences the strong Marian aspect of the Carmelite charism was once again emphasized, as a witness for those who would come after.

(All quotations from Msgr. Doheny's Selected Writings of St. Teresa)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Something is Happening

October 13 is a special anniversary. Terry Nelson has some prayerful observations:
The Holy Father will consecrate the World to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun.  He is leading the Church in prayer and adoration.  Recall what happened in Syria after the vigil for peace.  Something is happening.

I think of the prayer of Esther...

Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish, had recourse to the Lord. Taking off her splendid garments, she put on garments of distress and mourning. In place of her precious ointments she covered her head with dirt and ashes. She afflicted her body severely; all her festive adornments were put aside, and her hair was wholly disheveled...
We have a Pope who set aside his splendid garments, the trappings of his office... who humbles himself in prayer before the Madonna.

Something is happening. (Read more.)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Mystical Moment

The source of Our Holy Father's boldness and freedom. To quote:
Fr Rosica confirmed that, after accepting, the newly elected Pope was then led to the “Room of Tears” to the left of the main altar of the Sistine Chapel where he removed his cardinal’s robes and was vested with the simple white cassock (and chose to retain his black shoes and pectoral cross). He was then led out of the Sistine Chapel to the Pauline Chapel where a moment of prayer took place before proceeding to the loggia for the “Habemus Papam” before the eyes of the world.

It was in the Pauline chapel that the experience of prayer occurred. (Read more.)

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Dangers of Envy

Why we must avoid the trap of envy at all costs:
The sin of envy's effects can be seen in our every day lives - our bitterness towards a co-worker's promotion, our annoyance at another's stroke of "good luck" that we think is undeserved, a sense of self-justifying pride that we deserve what another has.  Here too, I like what St. John Chrysostom says - "And what, tell me, dost thou envy? That thy brother has received a spiritual gift? But from whom did he receive it, tell me; was it not from God? That means that thou art at enmity with Him Who gave to him."2

One needs to know that the disease of envy is harder to cure than any other.  I would say that someone striken by its poison is almost beyond healing."3 (St. John Cassian)  These words frighten at first, especially since I often succumb to the venom of envy myself. (Read more.)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Church is a Hospital

Terry Nelson quotes The Little Flower:
From the life of St. Therese:

One day in the infirmary during her last illness, my sister called my attention to the soft, downy linens which the infirmarian, Sr. Stanislaus always had at hand for the benefit of her patients.  "Souls should be treated with the same tender care," Therese said, "but why is it that we forget this so frequently, and allow those about us to go on unnoticed in the endurance of sharp interior pain?  Shouldn't the spiritual needs of the soul be attended to with the same clarity, with the same delicate care we devote to our neighbor's bodily necessities?  For some souls are really sick; there are many weak souls on earth, and all souls without exception suffer at one time or other during life.  How tenderly we should not only love them but also show our love for them. - My Sister, St. Therese, By Celine Martin
(Read more.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

St. Joan and St.Thérèse



Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus had great devotion to St. Jeanne d'Arc. Here are the verses which she wrote and dramatized in honor of the Maid of Lorraine, with herself dressed as Jeanne. St.Thérèse wrote:

Thy Church, O conquering God! through all the earth,
Begs Thee to crown with the saint's royal crown,
A virgin, martyr, warrior, whose true worth
In heaven's high courts e'en now hath won renown.
Our tumults calm;
Her cause advance!
The halo and the palm
Give unto Jeanne of France!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Death of St.Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

From Terry Nelson:
Little Therese died on September 30, 1897 at 7:20 in the evening, after a prolonged agony.  From Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face (Celine) book, My Sister, St. Therese; Celine wrote:
Once in the infirmary - just a few days ago (1897) in fact...
I had been going to and fro in the Infirmary, and became upset because something had gone wrong. Therese called, "Bo-bonne, no interior anxiety if you please!" (September 3) I can almost hear her say that. Therese always knows when something is wrong.  Her death reminds me so much of the death of love Our Lord suffered... today she cries out:
"Oh! It is pure suffering, because there is not a drop of consolation, no, not one."  No, I would never have believed that it was possible to suffer so much... never, never. I can only explain it by my extreme desire to save souls." (September 30) 
Celine continued: 
"She was trembling from head to foot..." 
At one point she told Celine, "Va, va, ma Celine, je serais avec toi..." "Go on with courage... I shall be with you."

Finally, gazing on her crucifix, Little Therese cried out:
"Oh!... Je L'aime!... Mon Dieu, je... vous... aime!" "Oh! ...I love Him! ...My God, I ...love ...you!"
(Read more.)

On Going to Confession

From Dorothy Day:
Going to confession is hard--hard when you have sins to confess and hard when you haven't, and you rack your brain for even the beginnings of sins against charity, chastity, sins of detraction, sloth or gluttony. You do not want to make too much of your constant imperfections and venial sins, but you want to drag them out to the light of day as the first step in getting rid of them. The just man falls seven times daily.

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned," is the way you begin. "I made my last confession a week ago, and since then. . ." Properly, one should say the Confiteor, but the priest has no time for that, what with the long lines of penitents on a Saturday night, so you are supposed to say it outside the confessional as you kneel in a pew, or as you stand in line with others.

"I have sinned. These are my sins." That is all you are sup­posed to tell; not the sins of others, or your own virtues, but only your ugly, gray, drab, monotonous sins. (Read more.)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

In the School of the Host

From Fr. Mark:
The hard and rugged paths by which a novice walks towards God are set before him in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.  The novice has only to gaze upon the Sacred Host to discover the true spirit of his vocation.

In finem dilexit. “Before the festival day of the pasch, Jesus knowing that his hour was come, that he should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 13:1).  Showing His “love unto the end,” Jesus walked towards His Father along the hard and rugged way of the Cross, leaving us the adorable mysteries of His Body and Blood as the abiding memorial of His Passion.  The true spirit of our Benedictine life is one of participation in Our Lord’s Eucharistic kenosis (self–emptying).  Compelled by an excess of divine pity, it was not enough for Christ to become for our sake “obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:); He chose to perpetuate the kenosis of His passion, even after His glorious resurrection and ascension in heaven, in the adorable Sacrament of His Body and Blood.  In the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar we find Our Lord Jesus Christ in a condition of profound humiliation that, until His return in glory, announces the mystery of His death. “For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come” (1 Corinthians 11:26). (Read more.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Coming Consecration

On October 13, 2013, Our Holy Father Pope Francis is going to Fatima to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Author Emmett O'Regan ties this occurrence in with many other events, past, present, prophetic and liturgical. This calls for wisdom. To quote:
As regular readers will by now already know, Pope Francis has promised to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 13th, 2013, as part of several planned events to mark the end of the Year of Faith. This act seems a rather fitting close to a year that has already proven itself to be of major prophetic importance. Between the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI's abdication and the lightning strikes on St. Peter's Basilica that followed just hours afterwards on 11th February, to the Chelyabinsk Meteor Strike a few days later on 15th February, as well as the timing of the election of Pope Francis in relation to the "Worthy Shepherd Prophecy" of Bl. Tomasuccio de Foligno, this year has already been stacked full of both "signs in the sky" and striking prophetic coincidences in connection with them. So the timing of the appearance of Comet ISON in November of this year just after the scheduled date for the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 13th would also appear to be of some similar prophetic significance. (Read more.)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Solemnity of Thursday

Paradise on earth. To quote Fr. Mark:
Thursday: one can name it the day of the magnificences and profusions of divine love. It is on this day that Jesus Christ unfurls all the grandeurs of His munificence and gives to men the most incomprehensible proof of His charity, by instituting the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. O precious day! Day that we shall never know how to celebrate enough! Holy day, happy day, of which every instant must be infinitely precious to us who have the honour of being wholly consecrated to this august mystery....

In the Eucharist, our adorable Saviour has a love that surpasses all other loves; His heart is open to all as a wellspring abounding in graces and in mercies. How hard one would have to be not to be touched by so excessive a kindness, not to be burned by this most ardent charity! How obliged we are to Jesus Christ for having readily willed to set, in this way, Paradise on earth! A God makes Himself captive for us! He is in our new arks like a prisoner in his jail cell! How happy we are to possess in this way our most lovable Saviour in the Most Holy Sacrament, since we have in this august mystery the One whom the angels and the saints love and adore in heaven, the One who is the object of their eternal beatitude. What marvels! Can one contemplate them without falling into an eternal ravishment? Oh! the prodigious invention of divine charity! What is it, my God, what is the creature that You fill it so with the abundance of your graces? Man is but a nothing, and you are not satisfied with having created him, redeemed him, shed even the last drop of your blood for him, dying for his salvation. You yourself still give yourself to him . . . O ineffable grace! O inestimable gift! (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

To Seek God

We are called to Eucharistic transfiguration. To quote:
At the very center of the Transfiguration we see the Human Face of God, shining more brightly than the sun. Tradition gives us two privileged ways of seeking, of finding, and of contemplating the transfigured and transfiguring Face of Christ: the first is lectio divina. One who seeks the Face of Christ in the Scriptures -- the Face of the Beloved peering through the lattice of the text -- will be changed by the experience. The second way is Eucharistic adoration. One who remains silent and adoring before the Divine Host will be transfigured and healed in its radiance.
Monasteries exist for one thing only: to be places where souls seek God. And where is God to be found except in Christ? "The knowledge of the glory of God," says Saint Paul, "is given to us in the Face of His Christ" (2 Cor 4:6). Today's Introit is the liturgical expression of the whole monastic quest. "Thou hast said, 'Seek ye my Face.' My heart says to thee, 'Thy Face, Lord, do I seek.' Hide not thy Face from me" (Ps 27:8-9a). The Holy Spirit works in lectio divina and Eucharistic adoration to reproduce in us the traits of the Holy Face of Christ. Pope Benedict XVI has recommended that both forms of prayer -- lectio and Eucharistic adoration -- be part of the daily horarium of all consecrated men and women. Many flourishing communities have found a good balance in having lectio divina in the morning and Eucharistic adoration in the evening every day. (Read entire article.)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Consecration of the Vatican to St. Michael the Archangel

 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks, that stand before the Lord of the earth.~Apocalypse 11:4

 But at that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people: and a time shall come such as never was from the time that nations began even until that time. ~Daniel 12:1

Here we witness the two popes together, like Saints Peter and Paul or like Moses and Elias. From Vatican Radio:
To the joy of Vatican City State workers, Friday morning Pope Francis was joined by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in the gardens for a ceremony during which the Holy Father blessed a statue of St Michael Archangel, at the same time consecrating the Vatican to the Archangel’s protection.

Following a brief ceremony, Pope Francis addressed those present noting how St. Michael defends the People of God from its enemy par excellence, the devil. He said even if the devil attempts to disfigure the face of the Archangel and thus the face of humanity, St Michael wins, because God acts in him and is stronger: 

In the Vatican Gardens there are several works of art. But this, which has now been added, takes on particular importance, in its location as well as the meaning it expresses. In fact it is not just celebratory work but an invitation to reflection and prayer, that fits well into the Year of Faith. Michael - which means "Who is like God" - is the champion of the primacy of God, of His transcendence and power. Michael struggles to restore divine justice and defends the People of God from his enemies, above all by the enemy par excellence, the devil. And St. Michael wins because in him, there is He God who acts. This sculpture reminds us then that evil is overcome, the accuser is unmasked, his head crushed, because salvation was accomplished once and for all in the blood of Christ. Though the devil always tries to disfigure the face of the Archangel and that of humanity, God is stronger, it is His victory and His salvation that is offered to all men. We are not alone on the journey or in the trials of life, we are accompanied and supported by the Angels of God, who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us overcome so many dangers, in order to fly high compared to those realities that can weigh down our lives or drag us down. In consecrating Vatican City State to St. Michael the Archangel, I ask him to defend us from the evil one and banish him.  
We also consecrate Vatican City State in St. Joseph, guardian of Jesus, the guardian of the Holy Family. May his presence make us stronger and more courageous in making space for God in our lives to always defeat evil with good. We ask Him to protect, take care of us, so that a life of grace grows stronger in each of us every day.
(Read article.)
 Here is the full text of Pope Francis' new encyclical "Light of Faith." To quote Our Holy Father:
There is an urgent need, then, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim. The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfillment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Quo Vadis


Quo Vadis by the Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz is a jewel of historical fiction. While the 1951 film is excellent, it is dated; the novel, however, transcends time. The heartrending and vivid portrait of Roman life in the days of Nero combines a romance with the acta sanctorum amid breathtaking historical accuracy. The feelings of the young tribune Marcus Vinicius for the Christian maiden Ligia Callina are transformed by sacrifice and suffering from mere lust into profound love and devotion. In the meantime the early Church prepares to face a grueling ordeal at the hands of Nero. The brutality and decadence of Imperial Rome stand in glaring contrast to the indefatigable new sect, guided and instructed by Peter and Paul. The Christians must deal not only with the violence of the pagans but with some of their own members who betray and deceive. Indeed, part of the impact of the novel is the way it conveys continuity of the past with the present. Followers of Christ must struggle with their own sins and weaknesses as much as with the outside world which seeks to destroy them. It was not easy then; it is not easy now.

Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916) received the Nobel Prize for Quo Vadis. He was writing to encourage his Polish countrymen in their many difficulties, and combined superb story-telling with painstaking historical research. Although I prefer the book to the movie, I do not hesitate to recommend the latter. Among 1950's Biblical epics, Quo Vadis is outstanding. Peter Ustinov's performance as Nero is truly something worth watching; few actors could capture the same balance of comedy, pathos and unmitigated depravity. The sets are magnificent as well, and the flow of drama, quite piercing. It is a good way to glean both history and inspiration while being entertained.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Divine Office

Fr. Mark on where prayer begins. To quote:
I have long had an inner awareness that the Deus in adjutorium calls down the grace of the Holy Ghost in a unique way. Does not the Apostle say that, "the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings. And he that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what the Spirit desireth; because he asketh for the saints according to God" (Romans 8:26-27)? (Read entire post.)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Heavenly Word

The meaning of "Alleluia" in the liturgy. To quote Fr. Mark:
Among the holy words that grace the lips of man in prayer, there is perhaps none lovelier than Alleluia. It is a word that requires the development of melody. It calls for a soaring vocal jubilation. It contains within itself a cantus obscurior, the hidden and most secret form of verbal expression that the chant of the Church brings to life. Alleluia is a heavenly word, an echo and a foretaste of the liturgy described by Saint John in the Apocalypse:
After these things I heard as it were the voice of much people in heaven, saying: Alleluia. Salvation, and glory, and power is to our God. For true and just are his judgments, who hath judged the great harlot which corrupted the earth with her fornication, and hath revenged the blood of his servants, at her hands. And again they said: Alleluia. And her smoke ascendeth for ever and ever. And the four and twenty ancients, and the four living creatures fell down and adored God that sitteth upon the throne, saying: Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out from the throne, saying: Give praise to our God, all ye his servants; and you that fear him, little and great.
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of great thunders, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord our God the Almighty hath reigned. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath prepared herself. (Apocalypse 19:1-7)
(Read entire post.)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Two English Martyrs


Don Marco's post on St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher is so beautiful, anything I could say would be redundant. To quote:
Men of Fire and of Light
We remember today two martyrs, one a bishop and the other a husband, father, lawyer, statesman, and philosopher: Saints John Fisher and Thomas More. Both were men of fire and of light. Both fought manfully and suffered the martyrdom of John the Baptist, the Friend of the Bridegroom of whom Our Lord said, “He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light” (Jn 5:35).
The Sun Snatched from the Universe
Saint John Fisher was alone among all the bishops of the realm to stand against Henry VIII in the “great affair” of his divorce and against the Act of Supremacy by which the King repudiated the jurisdiction of the Pope over the Church in England. The Church in England was to become the Church of England. Protestantization would follow and, above all, the suppression of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered according to the rite of the Church of Rome. Concerning Holy Mass, Bishop John Fisher had written: “He who goes about to take the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass from the Church, plots no less a calamity than if he tried to snatch the sun from the universe.”
The following excerpts are from St. Thomas More's A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation:
If we reflect on these things and remember them well, we shall not murmur or complain in time of tribulation. Instead, we shall first take our pain patiently and see it as something of worth. Then we shall grow in goodness and see ourselves as quite worthy of tribulation. And then we shall realize that God has sent it for our own good, and so be moved to thank God for it....
Let us, then, never hope for our life to be long. We should keep it while we can, because God has so commanded, but if God so arranges that in his good graces we may go, let us be glad of it, and long to go to him. And then shall the hope of heaven comfort our heavy hearts, and out of our transitory tribulation shall we go to everlasting glory....

Friday, June 21, 2013

Companionship of the Saints

From Father Mark in Ireland:
In many places in northern Europe -- notably in France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands -- a certain Protestantisation crept into the liturgical sensibility prevalent during the years following the Second Vatican Council. This led to a suspicion of the cultus of the saints, their festivals, and their relics, and to a trend towards minimizing the role of the saints in Catholic life, and towards diminishing as much possible their place in the liturgy. This trend was fostered by the unfortunate introduction of so-called "optional memorials", by which certain saints were condemned to liturgical oblivion. It is a principle, easily observed in the recent history of the liturgy, that as soon as something is declared optional, it falls into desuetude.

Sentire Cum Ecclesia
It is noteworthy that Saint Ignatius of Loyola, in his sixth rule for holding fast to the sentiments of the Church (sentire cum ecclesia) recognized the threat of Protestant hostility to the cultus of the Saints and to Catholic piety, and so wrote: "To praise relics of the Saints, giving veneration to them and praying to the Saints; and to praise Stations, pilgrimages, Indulgences, pardons, cruzadas, and candles lighted in the churches."

The Companionship of the Saints
An authentic Benedictine piety delights in the cultus of the saints, of their relics, and of their altars. I remember being moved, in my monastic youth, by the simple devotion of monks who, either before Matins or after Compline, would go, as it were, in pilgrimage, from altar to altar, and from image to image, honouring the saints and seeking their intercession. "And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1-2). (Read entire post.)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Novena to St. Rita, Saint of the Impossible

There certainly is a lot to pray about. I have several impossible situations going on right now. Let us unite in prayer.


O Holy Patroness of those in need, St. Rita, whose pleadings before thy Divine Lord are almost irresistible, who for thy lavishness in granting favors hast been called the Advocate of the Hopeless and even of the Impossible; St. Rita, so humble, so pure, so mortified, so patient and of such compassionate love for thy Crucified Jesus that thou couldst obtain from Him whatsoever thou askest, on account of which all confidently have recourse to thee, expecting, if not alwavs relief, at least comfort; be propitious to our petition, showing thy power with God on behalf of thy suppliant; be lavish to us, as thou hast been in so many wonderful cases, for the greater glory of God, for the spreading of thine own devotion, and for the consolation of those who trust in thee. We promise, if our petition is granted, to glorify thee by making known thy favor, to bless and sing thy praises forever. Relying then upon thy merits and power before the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we pray: (here mention your request).
Obtain for us our request
By the singular merits of thy childhood,

Bv thy perfect union with the Divine Will,
By thy heroic sufferings during thy married life,
By the consolation thou didst experience at the conversion of thy husband,
By the sacrifice of thy children rather than see them grievously offend God,
By thy miraculous entrance into the convent,
By thy severe penances and thrice daily bloody scourgings,
By the suffering caused by the wound thou didst receive from the thorn of thy Crucified Savior,
By the divine love which consumed thy heart,
By that remarkable devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, on which alone thou didst exist for 4 years,
By the happiness with which thou didst part from thy trials to join thy Divine Spouse,
By the perfect example thou gavest to people of every state of life.
Pray for us, 0 holy St. Rita,
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray: O God, Who in Thine infinite tenderness hast vouchsafed to regard the prayer of Thy servant, Blessed Rita, and dost grant to her supplication that which is impossible to human foresight, skill and efforts, in reward of her compassionate love and firm reliance on Thy promise, have pity on our adversity and succor us in our calamities, that the unbeliever may know Thou art the recompense of the humble, the defense of the helpless, and the strength of those who trust in Thee, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Pope Francis on St. Francis

From Fr. Angelo:
I just noticed this quote from Pope Francis:
Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life. Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God! I am thinking now of some advice that Saint Francis of Assisi gave his brothers: preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words. Preaching with your life, with your witness. Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church’s credibility.
I have heard others a number of times take exception to both the attribution of the words emphasized above to St. Francis and to the soundness of the exhortation.  The argument has some merit.  The Franciscan sources do not support the attribution to St. Francis, and it is true that the words can be construed to mean that it is sufficient to be a witness to Christ by one’s life.  Efforts to evangelize are not essential.

But while St. Francis may have never said the words, they are an excellent summary of his spirituality. Pope Francis interprets the meaning of the phrase exactly.  Whoever first used the words did in fact understand St. Francis.  Perhaps it was one of the novices who were led by St. Francis through the streets of the town in their poor habits, telling them: “We are going to preach the gospel.”  After having returned to the friary without having spoken to anyone along the way, a novice asked St. Francis why they had not preached the gospel,  St. Francis simply answered, “We did.”

The Franciscan spirit is in the first place a way of life and a witness.  St. Francis was never afraid to speak out, but he was just as content to be driven out of town as he was to preach with apparent success.  He was not all that impressed by eloquence and declared to the friars that it was not the preachers who converted anyone but Christ alone and that the friars who were faithful to the Rule did more for the conversion of sinners than anyone else.  He called them his “Knights of the Round Table.” (Read entire post.)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Novena Rose Prayer

My dear friends, please join me in making a novena to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face in honor of the anniversary of her canonization on May 17.
Novena Rose Prayer
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus, please pick for me a rose from the heavenly gardens and send it to me as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus, ask God today to grant the favors I now place with confidence in your hands...(mention petitions)
St. Therese, help me to always believe as you did, in God's great love for me, so that I might imitate your "Little Way" each day.  Amen.

(Say this prayer for nine days and St. Therese will send you a rose!)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales


Today (formerly October 25) we remember so many valiant souls. More detailed accounts of them are here
"MERRY ENGLAND"

Merry, merry, merry England,
Isle of Saints and Martyrs blest!
Shining witnesses to Jesus,
Now enjoying Heavenly rest.
Happy England, Mary's Dowry,
Gladly own that cherished Name;
English hearts throughout the ages
Find their comfort in the same.

England, land of fairest Angles,
Apple of Saint Gregory's eye;
Fruitful land where Saints did scatter
Seeds of faith which never die.
Holy England, Catholic England,
Favoured Child of Church of Rome!
Once thy kings, as well as paupers
Kept the Faith within their homes.

Glorious England, land of Martyrs,
Giving forth a sweet perfume;
English Roses, crimson colored
'Neath the gallows thou didst bloom.
Watered by a tide most precious,
Strengthened by the Lord's own grace;
Manly courage shown in contest,
Crowned with victory in the race!

Merry England, Mary's England,
Be her Dowry as of old.
Thrive again beneath her mantle
In the One and Catholic Fold.
Saints of England send a blessing
 From thy place in Heaven above,
On the merry land which housed thee,
Homeland which thy hearts didst love!
By a Carmelite Nun of Rochester

Picture and poem courtesy of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Rochester, NY

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Legacy of Pope Benedict

Faith and the future. From Fr. Angelo:
In his first encyclical letter, Deus Caritas Est, “On Christian Love” (December, 25, 2005), Pope Benedict began his exposition on the three theological virtues, and there distinguishes the love of God from its counterfeits in relativistic society.  Modern secular society has exalted erotic love, or desire, and has accused the Church of destroying it.   But Pope Benedict directs our attention toward Jesus Christ and His friendship and proclaims that it is the Church, and only the Church, that saves desire from being closed off from the highest values of the soul.  Desire is purified, exalted and fulfilled when man, like Christ, becomes a gift to another in an act of oblation.  This kind of love is not simply an instinct or intuition, much less is it merely spontaneous passion.  It is not a love that revolves around the ego.  This kind of love is shaped by faith in Jesus Christ and is the result of communion with Him. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pope Francis on Salvation

From Scott Richert:
And now Pope Francis has arrived at the crux of the matter, the part that will surprise both those who trumpet "the spirit of Vatican II" and those who denounce the council as a departure from tradition. We can only be Christians through the Church,
Because it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church. The great Paul VI said: "Wanting to live with Jesus without the Church, following Jesus outside of the Church, loving Jesus without the Church is an absurd dichotomy." And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging. Identity means belonging. This belonging to the Church is beautiful.
This is why the missionary activity of the Church is so essential: We cannot know Christ outside of the Church. We are called to preach the Gospel to all nations, because that is the only way they can know Christ. Unless the Church is growing, preaching the Gospel and adding new members, we are not doing what we are called to do as Christians:
Think of this Mother Church that grows, grows with new children to whom She gives the identity of the faith, because you cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. Jesus Himself says in the Gospel: "But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep." If we are not "sheep of Jesus," faith does not come to us. It is a rosewater faith, a faith without substance.
"Now this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Yet we can know Christ only through the Church. (Read entire article.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Kenosis

We can never sink so low that Jesus cannot raise us up. From Fr. Mark:
The first phrase of this week's Collect merits attentive consideration: Deus, qui in Filii tui humilitate iacéntem mundum erexísti. It is by the utter humiliation of the Son that the world, cast down by the machinations of the devil and by sin, is raised up and rendered capable of communion with the Father. In the Incarnation, and in the bitter sufferings of His blessed passion, the Son emptied Himself; it is the mystery of his kenosis, that is, of His terrible abasement, His becoming, as it were, nothing, and all of this or our sakes.

Universal and Particular Import of the Liturgy
All that is said in the sacred liturgy in a universal sense can be applied in a particular sense as well. The graces the Church asks for herself universally, belong to each of her children. How necessary it is, then, to apply the texts of the liturgy to one's own life and experience, lest they remain remote and without any impact on one's here and now.

The Word Hidden and Despised
Any soul cast down and brought low by the world, the flesh, and the devil, can hope to be raised up by the humility of Christ. There is no degradation that cannot be turned into an exaltation by the effect of the Passion of Jesus Christ. The psalmist says, "My soul lies in the dust; by Thy Word revive me" (Psalm 118:25). The Word, by which the soul cast down into the dust is quickened and raised up, is none other than the Word made flesh, the Word brought, as it were, to nothing in the humiliations of His bitter passion, death, and burial. So disfiguring were the humiliations of Our Lord's passion that He became as one unrecognizable:
There is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him: Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not. (Isaias 53:2-3)
In the Most Holy Eucharist
The extreme humiliation of the Son in His passion, His self-emptying, and utter hiddenness, though completed in history, and swallowed up in the glory of the resurrection and ascension, remain, nonetheless, mysteriously present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. The Word made flesh hides Himself beneath the appearances of a fragile piece of bread, nearly weightless, and translucent. One cannot contemplate the Sacred Host without, at the same time, seeing the humility of the Son, by which we are raised up.

Sacrament of the Divine Humility
Mother Mectilde speaks often of the anéantissement, the ennothingment of the Son of God in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. The Eucharist is the sacrament of the divine humility. It is the descent to the altar of the Word made flesh, the crucified Word, the glorious Word, risen and ascended into heaven. There, upon the altar, the substance of a little piece of bread becomes the very substance of the Body and Blood of Christ, leaving only the appearance of bread to serve as veil concealing the awful Mystery. (Read entire post.)

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Zeal of Saint Elias

From Fr. Mark:
We see the glory of a good zeal in the prophet Saint Elijah: "And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said to him: Arise, eat: for thou hast yet a great way to go. And he arose, and ate, and drank, and walked in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights, unto the mount of God, Horeb. And when he was come thither, he abode in a cave: and behold the word of the Lord came unto him, and he said to him: What dost thou here, Elias? [10] And he answered: With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts" (1 Kings 19:7-10). The zeal of Elijah came to him with the mysterious food provided him from heaven, a figure of the Most Holy Eucharist. It disposed him to receive the Word of God, and to hear it. A good zeal never sets a man at odds with the Word of God, nor with the teachings of the Church. It is empowering -- yes-- but the power of a good zeal is deployed in the little, the lowly, and the weak. (Read entire post.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Pearl of York

Stephanie Mann discusses the martyrdom of St. Margaret Clitherow, saying:
When these activities were discovered, St. Margaret was arrested and put on trial. Because she would not plead the judge proclaimed this sentence:
You must return from whence you came, and there, in the lowest part of the prison, be stripped naked, laid down, your back on the ground, and as much weight laid upon you as you are able to bear, and so to continue for three days without meat or drink, and on the third day to be pressed to death, your hands and feet tied to posts, and a sharp stone under your back. . . .

Ten days were allowed to pass between her sentencing and execution. On the day of her execution she was calm and forgiving. When asked to pray for the Queen, she asked God to turn Her Majesty to the Catholic faith. They placed the board upon her and the hired executioners placed the huge stones upon her. Within a quarter of an hour she was dead. The sheriffs left the body under the door from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon. They then buried her body in some waste ground, where they hoped it would never be found.
More HERE.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Holy Grail of Pope Francis

Our Lady, Undoer of Knots
From Father Angelo:
The same silversmith collaborated with Cardinal Bergoglio in designing another chalice, embossed with the image of Our Lady Undoer of Knots, which the Cardinal presented to Pope Benedict shortly after he ascended to the Chair of St. Peter.

It is quite interesting that that this Argentinian pope should have a personal attraction to the German devotion.  It provides a kind of link between the two successors of St. Peter, of which there are others.

Even Our Lady of Lujan and the Undoer of Knots are connected by a common thread. The title “Undoer of Knots” is a reference to the teaching of St. Irenaeus in which he compares and contrasts Eve and Mary. In respect to the Fall and Redemption both are betrothed and yet virgins.  One union of man and woman delivers death, the other life.  In one case, faithlessness and disobedience brings destruction.  In the other, faith and obedience brings regeneration:
And thus also it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith.
(Read more.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Bishop in White

Pope Francis at his Inaugural Mass on March 19, 2013
And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. ~Sr. Lucia, from the third part of the Secret of Fatima

The Keys of the Kingdom

 And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. (Matthew 16: 18-19)
"Lowly yet Chosen" just like Mary and Joseph. To quote the Catholic World Report:
From the Vatican Information Service, here are details about the symbols found on Francis’ coat of arms:
The shield has a bright blue background, at the centre top of which is a yellow radiant sun with the IHS christogram on it representing Jesus (it is also the Jesuit logo). The IHS monogram, as well as a cross that pierces the H, are in red with three black nails directly under them. Under that, to the left, is a star representing Mary, Mother of Christ and the Church. To the right of the star is a nard flower representing Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. With these symbols the Pope demonstrates his love for the Holy Family. 

Francis’ papal motto, displayed with the coat of arms, is also the same as the one he used as a bishop; it is “miserando atque eligendo,” which in Latin means “by having mercy, by choosing him.” It is taken from a homily of the Venerable Bede on the call of St. Matthew: “Jesus saw the tax collector and by having mercy chose him as an Apostle saying to him: Follow me.” Vatican Radio explains the significance of this passage to the Holy Father: 

This homily, which focuses on divine mercy and is reproduced in the Liturgy of the Hours on the Feast of Saint Matthew, has taken on special significance in the Pope's life and spiritual journey.

In fact it was on the Feast of Saint Matthew in 1953 that a young, seventeen-year-old Jorge Bergoglio was touched by the mercy of God and felt the call to religious life in the footsteps of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

(Read entire article.)

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Prayer for the Pope

Monsignor John T. Myler sent me a link to this wonderful prayer:
Prayer for a Pope Who is “Both …”

...both Francis of Assisi and Francis Xavier:
         both reformer and missionary,
         both visionary and evangelizer...

...both Peter and Paul:
         both in the heart of the Church
         and the court of those yet to hear and believe...

...both urbi et orbi:
         both to the See of Rome and to all the world,
         to both hemispheres - north and south... 

... both Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes:
         the Vicar of Christ, Who is both
         "the light of all nations" and Who shares
         in both "our joys and our hopes",
         "our griefs and our anxieties"...

... both in continuity and in reform:
         both "father and teacher", just as the Church is
         both Mater et Magistra -
         from both Scripture and Tradition
         - the one font of Truth -
         to live both great commands:
         love of both God and neighbor.

... both priest and prophet,
    both servant and leader,
    at both altar and table, both Priest and Victim,
         both Source and Summit -
         offering sacrifice and sacrament
         for both men and women, both young and old,
         with both saints and sinners
         worshipping in both Spirit and Truth;

         calling for conversion of both heart and mind,
         to cleanse the cup both inside and out,
         both poor in spirit and rich in mercy,
         like the wise man of the Gospel
             who brings forth from the storeroom
             graces from the One
             both ever ancient and ever new...

... with keys for both the kingdom here
         and the kingdom to come,
         both still and still moving,
         by both word and deed,
         in both speaking and listening ...

... for both health and long life...

... for both courage in Jesus
    (whose Company he keeps)
         and consolation from the Mother
               also "Miserando atque eligendo" --
               both "lowly but chosen"...

... both in the burden of the Cross now carried
    and in the hope of the Resurrection to be shared;

... blessings both now and forever.  Amen.
By Monsignor John T. Myler


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Benedict and Francis: The Law and the Prophets

Nolite tangere christos meos et in prophetis meis nolite malignari. (I Par. 16:22, The Vulgate)

A superb, must-read post by Fr. Angelo. To quote:
The Catechism also teaches us that all the baptized participate in the triple office of Christ as priest, prophet and king (783).  However, priests, especially bishops who have the fullness of the priesthood and most especially the pope as the Vicar of Christ and Head of the apostolic college, have a mandate to exercise these three offices in a particular way.  These offices are the proper functions of the Holy Father and the bishops: the priest sanctifies by offering sacrifice; the prophet teaches by delivering God’s message; and the king governs by shepherding God’s people after the heart of Christ (cf.,  Jer 3:15).

But I believe there is a different but complimentary distinction that needs to accompany this tripartite distinction of office, and that is the twofold distinction of the Law and the Prophets, roughly corresponding to the dogmatic and pastoral teaching of the pope and the bishops.  The Prophetic Office actually encompasses both the teaching of the general principles of the faith (the law/dogma) and its practical application (the prophets/pastorality).  The first is protected by the guarantee of infallibility, the second is not.  And although clearly pastoral teaching must be subordinated to dogmatic teaching, neither can be dispensed with, and both involve faith, even if in some measure the latter involves human faith.

I think it is particular unhelpful and even “unhealthy” to minimize the legitimate and necessary role of the pope as prophet in the second sense, namely, in the role as Universal Shepherd (Pastor) of the Church.  Here I am not criticizing the conscientious objector, or the theologian acting in good faith, and with the urgency and necessity of a well-formed and sincere conscience, when this has to do with non-infallibly taught doctrinal and pastoral teaching that does not seem to be reconcilable with previous magisterial teaching, and when such objections are expressed directly to the magisterium itself.  Public dissent from magisterial teaching, on the other hand, causes immediate scandal to the faithful.  But the know-it-all zealotry has another deleterious effect: the cultivation of a habit of mind that reduces almost every aspect of faith to a calculation of human judgment. (Read entire post.)

Also, Francis on Francis.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Papam!

May God bless and protect Our Holy Father Pope Francis! This is a happy day!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Saints Perpetua and Felicity

The detailed account of their sufferings is one of the earliest and most highly authenticated testimonies from the early Church. The martyrs, two young mothers and their friends, faced their ordeal with courage and joy.

Now dawned the day of their victory, and they went forth from the prison into the amphitheatre as it were into heaven, cheerful and bright of countenance; if they trembled at all, it was for joy, not for fear. Perpetua followed behind, glorious of presence, as a true spouse of Christ and darling of God; at whose piercing look all cast down their eyes. Felicity likewise, rejoicing that she had borne a child in safety, that she might fight with the beasts, came now from blood to blood, from the midwife to the gladiator, to wash after her travail in a second baptism. And when they had been brought to the gate and were being compelled to put on, the men the dress of the priests of Saturn, the women the dress of the priestesses of Ceres, the noble Perpetua remained of like firmness to the end, and would not. For she said: For this cause came we willingly unto this, that our liberty might not be obscured. For this cause have we devoted our lives, that we might do no such thing as this; this we agreed with you. Injustice acknowledged justice; the tribune suffered that they should be brought forth as they were, without more ado. Perpetua began to sing, as already treading on the Egyptian's head. Revocatus and Saturninus and Saturus threatened the people as they gazed. Then when they came into Hilarian's sight, they began to say to Hilarian, stretching forth their hands and nodding their heads: You judge us, they said, and God you. At this the people being enraged besought that they should be vexed with scourges before the line of gladiators (those namely who fought with beasts). Then truly they gave thanks because they had received somewhat of the sufferings of the Lord.

[....]

But for the women the devil had made ready a most savage cow, prepared for this purpose against all custom; for even in this beast he would mock their sex. They were stripped therefore and made to put on nets; and so they were brought forth. The people shuddered, seeing one a tender girl, the other her breasts yet dropping from her late childbearing. So they were called back and clothed in loose robes. Perpetua was first thrown, and fell upon her loins. And when she had sat upright, her robe being rent at the side, she drew it over to cover her thigh, mindful rather of modesty than of pain. Next, looking for a pin, she likewise pinned up her dishevelled hair; for it was not meet that a martyr should suffer with hair dishevelled, lest she should seem to grieve in her glory. So she stood up; and when she saw Felicity smitten down, she went up and gave her her hand and raised her up. And both of them stood up together and the (hardness of the people being now subdued) were called back to the Gate of Life. There Perpetua being received by one named Rusticus, then a catechumen, who stood close at her side, and as now awakening from sleep (so much was she in the Spirit and in ecstasy) began first to look about her; and then (which amazed all there), When, forsooth, she asked, are we to be thrown to the cow? And when she heard that this had been done already, she would not believe till she perceived some marks of mauling on her body and on her dress. Thereupon she called her brother to her, and that catechumen, and spoke to them, saying: Stand fast in the faith, and love you all one another; and be not offended because of our passion.
 (Image)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Hidden in the Sacred Heart of Jesus

From Fr. Mark:
Devotion to the Sacred Heart, thus understood, is a manifestation in the Church of the Holy Spirit, "helping us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought" (Rom 8:26).5 The Sacred Heart is, in the life of the Church, the organ by which "the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom 8:27).
Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: "We see who Jesus is if we see him at prayer. The Christian confession of faith comes from participating in the prayer of Jesus, from being drawn into his prayer and being privileged to behold it; it interprets the experience of Jesus' prayer, and its interpretation of Jesus is correct because it springs from a sharing in what is most personal and intimate to him".6

This is the prayer of the Sacred Heart, the prayer that filled the days and nights of Jesus' earthly life, the prayer that suffused his sufferings and ascended from the Cross at the hour of his death, the prayer that with him descended into the depths of the earth, the prayer that continues uninterrupted in the glory of his risen and ascended life, the prayer that is ceaseless in the Sacrament of the Altar....

The prayer of the Heart of Christ at the hour of his sacrifice passes entirely into the heart of the Church, where it is prolonged and actualized "from the rising of the sun to its setting" (Mal 1:11) in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the mystery of the Eucharist.

Cardinal Ratzinger asks if, after the once-for-all Pasch of Jesus, anything more is needed. "After the tearing of the Temple curtain and the opening up of the heart of God in the pierced heart of the Crucified, do we still need sacred space, sacred time, mediating symbols? Yes, we do need them, precisely so that, through the 'image', through the sign, we learn to see the openness of heaven. We need them to give us the capacity to know the mystery of God in the pierced heart of the Crucified".14

It is through the liturgy, first and above all, that we pass over into the prayer of the Sacred Heart, the word to the Father forever inscribed in his pierced side. (Read entire post.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Thirty Days Prayer to St. Joseph

This exercise, to be made in preparation for the feast of St. Joseph on March 19, begins today. Let us unite in praying for Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI as he prepares to retire, as well as for the conclave in which the new Pope will be elected. And please remember my family in your prayers as we are faced with major decisions.
Ever blessed and glorious Joseph, kind and loving father, and helpful friend of all in sorrow!  You are the good father and protector of orphans, the defender of the defenseless, the patron of those in need and sorrow.  Look kindly on my request.  My sins have drawn down on me the just displeasure of my God, and so I am surrounded with unhappiness.  To you, loving guardian of the Family of Nazareth, do I go for help and protection.

Listen, then, I beg you, with fatherly concern, to my earnest prayers, and obtain for me the favors I ask. I ask it by the infinite mercy of the eternal Son of God, which moved Him to take our nature and to be born into this world of sorrow.

I ask it by the weariness and suffering you endured when you found no shelter at the inn of Bethlehem for the holy Virgin, nor a house where the Son of God could be born.   Then, being everywhere refused, you had to allow the Queen of Heaven to give birth to the world's Redeemer in a cave.

I ask it by that painful torture you felt at the prophecy of holy Simeon, which declared the Child Jesus and His holy Mother future victims of our sins and of their great love for us. I ask it through your sorrow and pain of soul when the angel declared to you that the life of the Child Jesus was sought by His enemies.  From their evil plan you had to flee with Him and His Blessed Mother to Egypt.  I ask it by all the suffering, weariness, and labors of that long and dangerous journey.

I ask it by all your care to protect the Sacred Child and His Immaculate Mother during your second journey, when you were ordered to return to your own country.  I ask it by your peaceful life in Nazareth where you met with so many joys and sorrows. I ask it by your great distress when the adorable Child was lost to you and His Mother for three days. I ask it by your joy at finding Him in the Temple, and by the comfort you found at Nazareth, while living in the company of the Child Jesus.  I ask it by the wonderful submission He showed in His obedience to you.

I ask it by the perfect love and conformity you showed in accepting the Divine order to depart from this life, and from the company of Jesus and Mary.  I ask it by the joy which filled your soul, when the Redeemer of the world, triumphant over death and hell, entered into the possession of His kingdom and led you into it with special honors. I ask it through Mary's glorious Assumption, and through that endless happiness you have with her in the presence of God. O good father!  I beg you, by all your sufferings, sorrows, and joys, to hear me and obtain for me what I ask.

(make your request)

Obtain for all those who have asked my prayers everything that is useful to them in the plan of God.  Finally, my dear patron and father, be with me and all who are dear to me in our last moments, that we may eternally sing the praises of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
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