Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Mind of the Immaculate

From Fr. Angelo:
The Immaculate is a living ideal, a pattern of life to be replicated by our external comportment, and more importantly, by our interior lives. She lives enthroned, not merely in paradise, but in the hearts and minds of those who truly love Her. In this way She is alive and active in and through us, influencing directly the choices we make as a Mother who loves and nurtures us. This we must remember every time we think of Her. Here we will find true enlightenment and our feet will be led into the way of peace (Luke 1:79) to “the summits of our desired holiness,” to peaceful rest and blissful union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But to achieve this our thought of Her must be prayerful and profound. This is only made possible by humble meditation and prayer.

Thinking about the Immaculate

St. Maximilian Kolbe was a man who during his whole life meditated and contemplated in this fashion. He was consumed by a truth in which he believed with all his mind and heart. Often he spoke of his love and zeal for the Mother of God in terms of a “fixed ideal,” and for love of Her he wished to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die.

Now, St. Maximilian was not an idealist, not a man chasing after a dream. Nor was his ideal some abstract principle formulated by philosophers, rather it was a person, the knowledge of whom had been handed on to him through infallible divine revelation. This person, the Church taught him, is the Immaculate Mother of God, given to us as our Mother by Her divine Son. Throughout the Christian era the Church had spoken about Her in the most solemn fashion, indicating the central and unique role She plays in salvation history, and defining precisely the nature of Her dignity and role in the lives of men. For this reason St. Maximilian came to fully appreciate the holiness of this Woman without stain, and the love of the Mother of God who became also our Mother.

For good reason, then, Saint Maximilian links together a disciplined reading or study habit with a filial prayer relationship with Mary. Perfectly harmonized spiritual reading or study and a prayerful dependence on grace constitute the kind of meditation, leading to contemplation that fuels progress in the interior life. This is not merely a philosophical approach to life, which deals with everything in terms of some abstract ideal, nor is it simply a convenient or consoling spiritual experience of a transcendent person. Rather, it is a deep relationship with God who reveals and saves, and who is the only theoretical and practical basis for resolving the demands of life in this world.

Truth and Life

In the person of St. Maximilian, truth and life are perfectly harmonized. A man of great apostolic works and a hero of charity, St. Maximilian is hailed by our production-preoccupied culture as a practical man. Publisher, journalist, founder, reformer, missionary, scientific and organizational genius: he was a man ahead of his times. However, his indomitable energy, productivity and his concern for his fellow man are senseless if not for his life-long contemplation of the truth. In particular, one question preoccupied his thoughts from his youth to the death cell: Who are you, O Immaculate? In his blurring activity St. Maximilian was not a fanatic, nor a superman. He was a poor banished child of Eve, like the rest of us, who had been transformed by his ideal, because this ideal was true, and because this truth was the Woman conceived without sin, who became the Mother of God and the Mediatrix of All Grace. (Read more.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Martinmas

It is the feast of St. Martin of Tours, the great thaumaturge who converted large parts of France. The cloak of St Martin was one of the most precious relics of France, borne before her armies, hence the word chape gave rise to our English words "chaplain" and "chapel." St. Martin spoke out against capital punishment for heretics. The shrine of St. Martin at Tours was one of the holiest of French pilgrimage sites; he is considered one of the patrons of the Holy Face devotion which also originated there. According to New Advent:
The Church of France has always considered Martin one of her greatest saints, and hagiographers have recorded a great number of miracles due to his intercession while he was living and after his death. His cult was very popular throughout the Middle Ages, a multitude of churches and chapels were dedicated to him, and a great number of places have been called by his name. His body, taken to Tours, was enclosed in a stone sarcophagus, above which his successors, St. Britius and St. Perpetuus, built first a simple chapel, and later a basilica (470). St. Euphronius, Bishop of Autun and a friend of St. Perpetuus, sent a sculptured tablet of marble to cover the tomb. A larger basilica was constructed in 1014 which was burned down in 1230 to be rebuilt soon on a still larger scale This sanctuary was the centre of great national pilgrimages until 1562, the fatal year when the Protestants sacked it from top to bottom, destroying the sepulchre and the relics of the great wonder-worker, the object of their hatred. The ill-fated collegiate church was restored by its canons, but a new and more terrible misfortune awaited it. The revolutionary hammer of 1793 was to subject it to a last devastation. It was entirely demolished with the exception of the two towers which are still standing and, so that its reconstruction might be impossible, the atheistic municipality caused two streets to be opened up on its site. In December, 1860, skilfully executed excavations located the site of St. Martin's tomb, of which some fragments were discovered. These precious remains are at present sheltered in a basilica built by Mgr Meignan, Archbishop of Tours which is unfortunately of very small dimensions and recalls only faintly the ancient and magnificent cloister of St. Martin. On 11 November each year the feast of St. Martin is solemnly celebrated in this church in the presence of a large number of the faithful of Tours and other cities and villages of the diocese.

(Artwork from The Western Confucian)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hell Unleashed

From Mark Mallet:
Brothers and sisters, we need to take these collective warnings very seriously. We are at war. But rather than dwell any more here on the explosion of evil we are seeing—that is, the intensifying Storm—I want to make some very concrete suggestions to you of how to guard your heart and that of your families using this daughter’s summary. For the main point above is this: don’t be surprised to see such manifestations of evil exponentially increase in the days and months ahead. The restrainer has been lifted, and only those who keep the restrainer over their own hearts from evil will be protected.
The words of Jesus come to mind:
I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you. (John 16:4)
(Read more.)

Friday, October 24, 2014

St. Raphael the Archangel


When thou didst pray with tears, and didst bury the dead, and didst leave thy dinner, and hide the dead by day in thy house, and bury them by night, I offered thy prayer to the Lord. And because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee. And now the Lord hath sent me to heal thee, and to deliver Sara thy son's wife from the devil. For I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord. ~Tobias 12:11-15
He is one of the mysterious seven who stand before God. More HERE. The late Fr. John Hardon wrote an essay on the on-going mission of St. Raphael in our lives, saying:
Thank God for the trials in your lives. Express your gratitude for the hardships and trials He gives us. Quoting the archangel Raphael, God sometimes enables us who love Him to love Him more through trials. How we need to hear this. God’s graces can be pleasant and enjoyable, but the graces can also be difficult and painful. Never deceive yourself that what is pleasing to us is displeasing to God. Raphael talked to Tobias’ son and is teaching us this.
Finally, Raphael told father and son to be at peace. As we have seen on Christmas morning, again not just one angel, but a host of angels tell us “Peace on earth to men of Good will”. Whatever else we should learn but from not only Raphael, but from God speaking through His angels, is that we should not just be at peace but cultivate peace in our minds and in our hearts. What is peace of mind? Peace of mind is the experience of knowing the truth. Behind that statement stands years of experience. One allegedly developed country after another has tried everything that this world can offer, but are not at peace. Why not? Because we are only as much at peace in our minds as our minds possess the truth. That is why when God became man, He identified Himself as, “I am the truth.”
What is the truth? Truth is our minds corresponding with reality. Yet, millions are living in a dream world of unreality. They do not posses the truth, and the truth, I repeat, is the agreement of the mind with reality. I keep telling one audience after another, statisticians tells us that ninety percent of reading American read is fiction. How we need to guard our minds from reading bewitched by the untruth.
How do we acquire the truth? We acquire it, of course, from God’s revelation. But it is one thing to say posses the truth-such as there are three persons in one God, or I know that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus Christ, the living God-man is present here on earth in the Holy Eucharist. But if we are to grow in this peace of mind, we are to grow in our understanding of the truth that God has revealed.
That is the main purpose of meditation. By prayerfully reflecting on God’s revealed truth we grow in our grasp and understanding of what God has revealed. And our minds grow in this blessed gift of peace of mind. But, as Raphael told father and son and is telling us, we are to have also peace of heart. A synonym for peace of heart is peace of will.
What is peace of heart? Peace of heart is the experience of doing God’s will. And that is the only true source and foundation of joy in this valley of tears. We shall have peace of heart only in the measure that we are doing God’s will. Ah, what an examination of conscience we must all make. How faithful to God’s will am I? How ready am I to accept the cross He sends me? How willing am I to share with others what God has so generously given me? How much attention do I give to prayer in my life? So the litany goes on. Peace of heart is the experience of doing the will of God, and that experience is the happiness of spirit. Know God’s will with the mind and doing it with the will.
As Christ later on will tell us, we are to be peace makers. We shall bring peace to others only if we are at peace ourselves. We will bring peace to others by sharing with them the truth which we believe. We shall bring peace to others only in the degree that we ourselves are generous, loyal and doing the will of God. All of this and far more is locked up in the most detailed and deepest revelation of an angel sent by God to teach us how we are to live our lives here on earth in anticipation of joining the choirs of angels in a heavenly eternity.
Lord of the angels, we thank you for providing for our needs by sending your angels to help us. Your angel Raphael’s name means “God heals,” send us your angels to heal us from such bodily infirmity as you wish us to have removed. But, dear Lord, heal us especially in our spirit from the sickness of soul so that healthy in mind and body we may bless you, the Lord of the angels, and that we may grow in our love for you, healed by you through your angels here on earth and that we may reach you and join you for all eternity.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blessed Charles of Austria

Today is his feast. Here is a biographical account, and another here.
Reduced to poverty, he lived with his family in a very humid house. He then fell fatally ill and accepted this as a sacrifice for the peace and unity of his peoples. Charles endured his suffering without complaining. He forgave all those who conspired against him and died April 1st 1922 with his eyes turned toward the Holy Sacrament. On his deathbed he repeated the motto of his life: “I strive always in all things to understand as clearly as possible and follow the will of God, and this in the most perfect way”.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The North American Martyrs

The bravest of the brave. One of the best online accounts I could find was here:
Members of the Society of Jesus who dedicated themselves to the conversion of the American Indians took Christ’s words very literally. They journeyed from Renaissance France to the frontiers of North America that they might preach and baptize. After pouring the saving waters of Baptism on a dying Indian child, Saint John de Brebeuf, the great pioneer of this mission, exclaimed with joy, “For this one single occasion I would travel all the way from France; I would cross the great ocean to win one little soul for Our Lord!” And so pleased was God with the genuine zeal and the extraordinary sacrifices of these Jesuit apostles that He bestowed upon Father Brebeuf and seven of his fellow missionaries the glorious crown of martyrdom. The following is the incredible tale of the Eight North American Martyrs.

The Society of Jesus had been founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola during the turbulent times following the Protestant Revolution. By the dawning of the seventeenth century the Jesuits had won renown as zealous missionaries and ardent defenders of the Catholic Faith.

The Order was still at the peak of its power, prestige, and holiness when a new mission field began to unfold. France, eldest daughter of the Church, was beginning to colonize North America, and the vast untamed regions of the New World were inhabited by pagan natives who had never before been evangelized. (Read entire post.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

St. Albert of Jerusalem

Albert, by the grace of God, Patriarch of Jerusalem, to his beloved sons, Brocard and the other religious hermits who live under his obedience, near the fountain of Elias, on Mt. Carmel, health in the Lord, and the blessings of the Holy Spirit.
Thus opens the primitive Rule of St. Albert, one of the four great Rules of the Roman Church. Written for the early Carmelites, it is the shortest of all the Rules, because minimal attention is placed on material things and the affairs of the world. The heavenly strivings of the Hermit Brothers of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel are thereby emphasized. St Albert's exhortations on solitude, silence, poverty, obedience, fasting, and manual labor are all well-supported by his thorough knowledge of Sacred Scripture. Although the Rule was written for the hermits, its charism can be lived by any who seek to live a life of contemplation, even amid the cares of this world. The heart of the Rule is that the Carmelite should be "meditating day and night on the Law of the Lord, and watching in prayer." Is not our striving for interior recollection an attempt to mirror this precept?

St. Albert of Vercelli, an Italian by birth, was sent to Palestine by Pope Innocent III because his wisdom and diplomacy were needed in that turbulent region. As the Latin Patriarch, St. Albert gained the respect of the eastern Christians and even of the Moslems. As an Augustinian Canon of the Holy Cross, St. Albert knew the religious life first hand. Between 1206 and 1210 he composed the Rule for the Carmelite hermits. On September 14, 1214, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, St. Albert was stabbed to death by a disgruntled, immoral cleric whom he had deposed. St. Albert's feast on the Carmelite calendar is September 17.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Mystery Bigger Than Ourselves

In meditating upon the mystery of the Assumption we remember that nothing is impossible with God.
Gaudeamus!...Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festival in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at whose Assumption the angels rejoice and all together praise the Son of God. This is no mere earthly joy; it is the joy of heaven spilling over, cascading down through the choirs of angels until, having reached us here below, it again takes flight heavenward, leaving us surprised by joy.

The joy of today's festival descends from heaven and returns to heaven. It leaves us caught up in a mystery bigger than ourselves, obliges us to set our sights "on the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God" (Col 3:1). It is as if the Virgin Mother herself, borrowing the words of the Apostle, speaks to us out of that glory in which she is "hidden with Christ in God" (Col 3:3), and says, "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Col 3:2). The Assumption of the Mother of God is a jubilant "Sursum corda!"(Read entire article.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Wholly Flaming Fire

From Vultus Christi on the feast of St. Bonaventure:
Pope Benedict XVI explained the mystical teaching of Saint Bonaventure in his General Audience on 10 March 2010; these are the words of a Doctor explaining a Doctor, of a mystic explaining a mystic, of a theologian of love explaining a theologian of love:
The six wings of the Seraph thus became the symbol of the six stages that lead man progressively from the knowledge of God, through the observation of the world and creatures and through the exploration of the soul itself with its faculties, to the satisfying union with the Trinity through Christ, in imitation of St Francis of Assisi. The last words of St Bonaventure’s Itinerarium, which respond to the question of how it is possible to reach this mystical communion with God, should be made to sink to the depths of the heart:  “If you should wish to know how these things come about, (the mystical communion with God) question grace, not instruction; desire, not intellect; the cry of prayer, not pursuit of study; the spouse, not the teacher; God, not man; darkness, not clarity; not light, but the fire that inflames all and transports to God with fullest unction and burning affection…. Let us then… pass over into darkness; let us impose silence on cares, concupiscence, and phantasms; let us pass over with the Crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that when the Father is shown to us we may say with Philip, “It is enough for me‘” (cf. ibid., VII 6).
Dear friends, let us accept the invitation addressed to us by St Bonaventure, the Seraphic Doctor, and learn at the school of the divine Teacher:  let us listen to his word of life and truth that resonates in the depths of our soul. Let us purify our thoughts and actions so that he may dwell within us and that we may understand his divine voice which draws us towards true happiness.
(Read more.)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart

Pious reader, you, who have followed us throughout, what is your most earnest desire? To honor the hearts of Jesus and Mary His Mother; to work for the conversion of poor sinners; to cooperate according to your means in the work of reparation? Well, you may attain all these ends in the surest, sweetest way, by Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. She will lead you with a mother's gentle hand. You will see and feel by a happy experience that, in abandoning yourself to her guidance, you will do more for the glory of God, your own sanctification, and the salvation of others, than by any other means....Have no fear to attribute to Mary too great a power over the Heart of her Son. Beyond all thought or expression, she is Queen of this Heart; for thus does Jesus love to honor His Mother.

~ Love, Peace and Joy by the Reverend André Prévot

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Confidence and Abandonment

...Abandonment is, I may dare to say, the principle virtue of souls devoted to the Sacred Heart....By abandonment He offers them a means by which they are enabled to participate in His almighty power. He opens to them them the treasures of His Heart, which undertakes to supply for all the shortcomings of souls abandoned to Him, and to perfect all their works. He makes them docile instruments, who place no obstacles to the action of God, and faithfully give Him the glory in all....Confidence by itself can easily obtain all things.

~ Love, Peace and Joy by the Reverend André Prévot

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sacrament of Health and Sweetness

Fr. Mark quotes St. Thomas Aquinas on the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi:
In the year of salvation 1264, to the end that the faithful might celebrate the institution of so great a Sacrament with a complete festal Office, Urban IV, Bishop of Rome, was moved by his devotion thereto, to put forth a godly ordinance, to the effect that the memory of the said institution should be celebrated by all the faithful on the Thursday next after the Octave Day of Pentecost. This day was chosen in order that we, who from one end of the year to the other do use this Sacrament to our soul's health, might particularly celebrate the institution thereof at that season wherein the Holy Ghost taught the hearts of the disciples to acknowledge the mysteries thereof; for then it was, as we read, that they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' Doctrine and Fellowship, and in the Breaking of the Bread and the Prayers.
From a Sermon by Saint Thomas Aquinas
Opusculum 57
(Read more.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pope Leo XIII on Devotion to the Holy Ghost

From Divinum Illud Munus:
How He should be invoked is clearly taught by the Church, who addresses Him in humble supplication, calling upon Him by the sweetest of names: “Come, Father of the poor! Come, Giver of gifts! Come, Light of our hearts! O, best of Consolers, sweet Guest of the soul, our refreshment!” (Veni Sancte Spiritus). She earnestly implores Him to wash, heal, water our minds and hearts, and to give to us who trust in Him “the merit of virtue, the acquirement of salvation, and joy everlasting.” Nor can it be in any way doubted that He will listen to such prayer, since we read the words written by His own inspiration: “The Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings” (Rom 8., 26).

Lastly, we ought confidently and continually to beg of Him to illuminate us daily more and more with His light and inflame us with His charity: for, thus inspired with faith and love, we may press onward earnestly towards our eternal reward, since He “is the pledge of our inheritance” (Eph 1, 14). . .(Read more.)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Light, Strength and Fire

From a conference by Mother Mectilde de Bar:
The Holy Spirit is, first of all, the light that illumines us in our darkness; strength in our weakness; fire in our coldness. We know by experience how much we have need of all these things, since we are so immersed in shadows that we see not even a single ray of light, and nearly always we know not what we are doing and where we are going. So weak are we that we are unable to carry out even those things that we know God expects of us. So cold are we towards God, so little fervour do we have and so low are our feelings. that we are ashamed of ourselves. See then how great is our need to receive the Holy Spirit. But what must we do to keep the Holy Spirit? Listen to what the Apostle Saint Paul says: “My brothers, above all else I pray you and recommend that you be very attentive not to grieve the Holy Spirit.” (Eph 4:30) And how can we grieve Him? Let us listen to what He Himself says to the Spouse: “Open to me, my sister,” “Open to me my sister, my spouse.” (Ct 5:2) (Read more.)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Friendship of the Saints

Saints are hated by the world but they are also greatly loved by those who are close to them. Human friendship is a gift as long as it does not become an inordinate attachment. From Catholic Exchange:
Our Lord Himself called the Apostles His friends, and He meant His particular friends because “all things whatsoever I have heard of my Father, I have made known to you.” This encouraged the saints — even the most detached of them — to seek out kindred souls to give them their confidence and their friendship. They were well aware that although the Gospel bases perfection upon detachment of heart, it does not therefore follow that we are forbidden to love anyone with an affection stronger and more sensible than that which we are obliged to entertain for all in general.

Indeed, a whole volume might be written on the friendships of the saints — friendships that were, in the best sense of the word, particular friendships. “There is not a man who has a heart more tender and more open to friendship than mine or who feels more keenly than I do the pain of separation from those I love.” This is St. Francis de Sales’s description of himself; and we may be sure that it could be applied to the majority of God’s great servants.

How delightful to find this in the autobiography of St. Thérèse of the Infant Jesus: “When I entered Carmel, I found in the novitiate a companion about eight years older than I was. In spite of the difference of age, we became the closest friends; and to encourage an affection that gave promise of fostering virtue, we were allowed to converse together.”

The Mirror of Perfection tells us that when St. Francis was dying, St. Clare also was very ill. “The Lady Clare, fearing she would die before him, wept most bitterly and would not be comforted, for she thought that she would not see before her departure her Comforter and Master.” Now, this is a very human situation and very human language, and we can appreciate both. This is exactly how great friends feel about one another.

St. Teresa of Avila wrote in this very strain to her friend, Don Francisco de Salcedo: “Please God you will live until I die; then I shall ask God to summon you promptly, lest I should be without you in Heaven.”

Like so many of the saints, St. Augustine had the power of winning and attracting devoted followers. Perhaps no Father of the Church had so many or such enthusiastic friends. And in the letters that passed between them, we see how generously he re­sponded to these affections. For example, he addresses Nebridius as “My sweet friend,” and he writes to St. Jerome, “O that it were possible to enjoy sweet and frequent converse with you; if not by living with you at least by living near you.”

St. Bernard thus laments the death of his friend Humbert of Clairvaux: “Flow, flow, my tears, so eager to flow. He who prevented your flowing is here no more. It is not he who is dead but I — I who now live only to die. Why, oh why, have we loved and why have we lost one another?”

We are told of St. Philip Neri that friendship was one of the few innocent joys of life that he permitted himself; and certainly Providence lavished friends upon him in spite of the fact that no man ever tried the patience and virtue of his friends as did he.

Indeed, it seems to have been only necessary for people to come in contact with these saints to love them. “It is a favor bestowed on me by God,” wrote St. Teresa, “that my presence always gives pleasure to others.” One of her earliest biographers, Ribera, said of her, “She was and she looked so amiable that everybody loved her.”

Bl. Angela of Foligno had such a hold upon the affections of all who knew her, that out of pity for their feelings, she concealed the knowledge she had of her approaching death. Gallonio said of St. Philip Neri, “He hid the secret of his approaching death, lest our hearts should be crushed with sorrow.” (Read more.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Life of Joy


A life of joy is the most delightful fruit of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.... "We only do that well which we do with joy" (St. Thomas). If, then, we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to Him and to them--"servite in laetitia." Oh, let us do this, and not change the nature of things--God is joy; true devotion is joy; love is joy; sacrifice is the source of joy; the Cross itself is the condition of solid joy. Let us, then, open wide our hearts. It is joy which invites us. Press forward, and fear nothing. Let us always rejoice and ever advance in love and in joy.

~ Love, Peace and Joy by the Reverend André Prévot

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Mystery of the Cenacle

From Vultus Christi:
In a word, our Christianity is, in essence and in its most intimate principle, Divine Grace, because real Christianity is the life of Jesus Christ living in us, and Jesus Christ is Divine Grace, living and personified in Himself. The Cenacle is the image and the living abridgment of true Christianity, in that the intimate core of Christianity is manifested in its visible form, the organization of the liturgical life and of ceaseless prayer. In each and in all, and in the whole universe, Divine Grace is born, grows, develops and fructifies by prayer. As Jesus Christ in His mortal life prayed and prayed again, so Christianity, which is Jesus Christ Himself dilated throughout the universe, prays. The whole of Christianity is an immense prayer; it is a ceaseless rhythm of prayer rising from all the parts of the universe where Christianity reigns.

As in the Cenacle, the prayer of the Church is persevering and permanent prayer, for the clock of time strikes not an hour when prayer does not spring forth from the hearts of millions and millions of Christians. Literally, that voice of prayer in the bosom of Christianity is not hushed day or night. As in the Cenacle, the Church’s universal and permanent prayer is magnificently unanimous, and, it may be added, divinely harmonious. (Read more.)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Feast of St. Joan

"O how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory: for the memory thereof is immortal...." Wisdom 4:1
In 1431 May 30 fell upon a Wednesday, the Vigil of Corpus Christi. It was around noon when Jehanne Darc, or Jehanne la Pucelle, "the Maid," as she called herself, was led into the public square of Rouen by enemy soldiers to where the stake awaited her. Nineteen years old, her head shaven, surrounded by placards branding her a witch, idolatress, and abjured heretic, she invoked the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and St Michael the Archangel. She had been calumniated and condemned by those whose holy office it was to guide and protect her soul; she had been exposed to lewdness and impurity by those whose sacred duty it was to shelter her innocence and virginity. She was abandoned by the king whose crown her victories had won. She was in great interior darkness; the voices of her saints were silent.

Although she conversed with angels and saints, Joan the Maid was known to be practical and blunt. Very feminine, she missed her embroidery and her mother, yet she emerges on the pages of late medieval history like someone from the Acts of the Apostles. Surrounded by miracles, she was herself a Miracle; she led an army to victory at the age of 17, an illiterate peasant girl, who knew nothing of war or politics. She saved France as a nation, for it had all but ceased to exist when she came on the scene.

Such was her Faith that she confounded her judges, while exhausted, frightened and pushed to the breaking point of her mental and physical strength. Denied the Sacraments by her persecutors, she gazed upon the upheld crucifix, calling out, "Jesus! Jesus!" as the flames consumed her. When Joan's ashes were scattered in the river, her heart was found, untouched by the flames, and still bleeding.

"If I walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me, O Lord Jesus." Communion Antiphon for the Feast of St Joan

St. Joan, pray for us!

Catherine Delors explores the art and literature which honors La Pucelle. To quote Madame Delors:
But Jehanne is not content to win battles. She knows that military success is meaningless if it is not consolidated by the symbolic and religious power of the French monarchy. She convinces the Dauphin to have himself crowned King. Here she is, attending the coronation ceremony of Charles VII at Reims, still holding the banner she carried into battle. This moment is her work, and marks the peak of her glory in this world.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day


"Mary is more Mother than Queen."
~St. Thérèse of Lisieux

"O blessed confidence, O sure refuge, you, the Mother of God, are my Mother! How can I fail to hope, since my salvation and my sanctity are in the hands of Jesus my Brother, and Mary, my Mother?"
~St. Anselm

Thursday, May 8, 2014

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)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

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, April 26, 2014

The Divine Mercy and the Canonizations

"These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks, that stand before the Lord of the earth...And they heard a great voice from heaven, saying to them: Come up hither. And they went up to heaven in a cloud: and their enemies saw them." Apocalypse 11: 4,12
From Terry Nelson:
A great event is taking place the weekend.

Something Blessed Pope John Paul II said:

“Right from the beginning of my ministry in St. Peter’s See in Rome, I considered this message (of Divine Mercy) my special task. Providence has assigned it to me in the present situation of man, the Church and the world. It could be said that precisely this situation assigned that message to me as my task before God.” - JP II 1981, at the Shrine of Merciful Love in Italy
Something Blessed John XXIII said:
"In these days, which mark the beginning of this Second Vatican Council, it is more obvious than ever before that the Lord's truth is indeed eternal. Human ideologies change. Successive generations give rise to varying errors, and these often vanish as quickly as they came, like mist before the sun.

The Church has always opposed these errors, and often condemned them with the utmost severity. Today, however, Christ's Bride prefers the balm of mercy to the arm of severity. She believes that, present needs are best served by explaining more fully the purport of her doctrines, rather than by publishing condemnations." - John XXIII Opening Address for the Council
Something Pope Francis said:
In his homily for the Canonization, which took place in 2000, John Paul II emphasized that the message of Jesus Christ to Sr Faustina is located, in time, between the two World Wars and is intimately tied to the history of the 20th century. And looking to the future he said: “What will the years ahead bring us? What will man’s future on earth be like? We are not given to know. However, it is certain that in addition to new progress there will unfortunately be no lack of painful experiences. But the light of divine mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to return to the world through Sr Faustina’s charism, will illumine the way for the men and women of the third millennium” (Homily, Sunday, 30 April 2000). It is clear. Here it is explicit, in 2000, but it was something that had been maturing in his heart for some time. Through his prayer, he had this intuition.
(Read more.)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Aurora Caelum Purpurat

The Easter Hymn for Lauds (lyrics HERE.) The video is from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This ancient hymn is included in the current version of the Roman breviary.

Ad cenam Agni providi

The Easter Vespers hymn (lyrics HERE).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Annunciation

The solemnity of the Annunciation is today. Here is a reflection from Divine Intimacy by Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen, OCD:
The Angel's explanation does not prevent future events and circumstances from remaining hidden and obscure to Mary. She finds herself face to face with a mystery, a mystery which she knows intuitively to be rich in suffering; for she has learned from the Sacred Scriptures that the Redeemer will be a man of sorrows, sacrificed for the salvation of mankind. Therefore, the ineffable joy of the divine maternity is presented to her wrapped in a mystery of sorrow: to be willing to be the Mother of the Son of God means consenting to be the Mother of one condemned to death. Yet Mary accepts everything in her fiat: in the joy as well as in the sorrow of the mystery, she has but one simple answer: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord."

Monday, March 24, 2014

Surrender

From the writings of Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo (1882-1970) on how to change worry into prayer:
Jesus speaks to our souls: “Why do you confuse yourselves by worrying? Leave the care of your affairs to me and everything will be peaceful. I say to you in truth that every act of true, blind, complete surrender to me produces the effect that you desire and resolves all difficult situations.

"Surrendering to me does not mean to fret, to be upset or to lose hope, nor does it mean offering to me a worried prayer asking me to follow you and change your worry into prayer. Surrender means to placidly close the eyes of the soul, to turn away from thoughts of tribulation and to put yourself in my care, so that only I act, saying: ‘You take care of it.' It is against this surrender, deeply against it, to worry, to be nervous and to desire to think about the consequences of anything.

"It is like the confusion that children feel when they ask their mother to see to their needs, and then they try to take care of those needs for themselves, so that their childlike efforts get in their mother’s way.

"Close your eyes and let yourself be carried away on the flowing current of my grace; close your eyes and do not think of the present, turning your thoughts away from the future just as you would from temptation. Repose in me, believing in my goodness, and I promise you by my love that, if you say, ‘You take care of it.’ I will take care of it all, I will console you, liberate you and guide you." (Read more.)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I Love Lent

Lent is one of the best seasons of the year for me. I never look forward to it the way I do to Christmas, but once Lent is underway, it is a happy and peaceful time. Facing reality can be both healing and satisfying. Lent is a public acknowledgment that life is a valley of tears, the world is a dangerous place, and we are all going to die. It is like one big AA meeting where, instead of admitting to alcoholism, everyone confesses to being a sinner, a dysfunctional being who has made a mess of his life and the lives of others. But Lent is here; recovery has begun. It is time to clean up the spilled milk, pick up the pieces, and start all over again. Lent is the hour of truth; staring the truth in the face can be disarming but it can also produce the peace and joy that only penitence in Christ can bring.

Monday, March 3, 2014

On Penances for Lent

It is important to go to Confession during Lent, too.
The best penance of all, I was once told, is to accept without complaining the mortifications, trials, and vicissitudes of daily life. The penances which God Himself sends us are the ones best designed to benefit our souls. I remember in the past being upset that my health or my schedule did not permit me to do all the penances I wanted to do for Lent. I failed to see that the penances had already been provided. I do not mean to imply that it is not of value to make other sacrifices for Lent. I think when people are young (and even when they are old) giving up dessert or alcohol, etc. help to discipline the soul and the body. For me, the challenges are mostly interior. We should always try to give up bad habits, negative thought patterns, and activities that are becoming addictive. It is good to examine oneself for inordinate attachments that are taking over the thought patterns, especially those of anger, lust, or resentment. It is always valuable to try to make extra prayers or sacrifices, as the duties of our state in life permit, for special intentions and the needs of the world.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Pray for Ukraine!

From Abbey-Roads:
Russia may act in a surprise way, when you least expect it… [God's] justice will begin in Venezuela.The Bridge to Heaven: Interviews with Maria Esperanza of Betania
I've not been a follower of the Servant of God, Maria Esperanza, but the recent developments in the Ukraine and Crimea seem to be cause for concern.  Venezuela is having its problems as well.  Hence her prophecy comes to mind as I watch the news and read about the latest developments in Russia. 
More on Maria Esperanza, HERE.

Here is an article about Our Lady and Ukraine.

More on Putin and Ukraine, HERE and HERE.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Church is a Hospital

Often, being a Catholic means leaving your comfort zone in order to be healed. First, you must acknowledge your wounds. It can be very inconvenient at times. It is not a "feel good" religion although there are moments of peace and joy. But it is worth it in the end. From Aleteia:
The reason is that it’s not that kind of inn. It’s a place where the weary can rest, for sure, but it’s a place for the afflicted. It answers our deepest needs, not our momentary whims.  That is the role of the Church in the world, and the role of each member of the Church. We must care for the afflicted, those in deep need of body and soul. And so very often we may chafe when our true needs are addressed. It always hurts when the wound is touched, even when it is for healing.

On Thursday, the Holy See issued a press release about its participation in the world Expo in Milan in 2015. The theme of the Expo is Feeding the Planet - Energy for Life. The theme of the Holy See’s pavilion will be Not by Bread Alone. While the Expo’s website speaks about Italy’s fame for food and “living well,” the Church reminds us that we are not in fact living well. Creature comforts alone cannot remedy the ills of fallen creatures.

The Good Samaritan did not bring the unfortunate man a Happy Meal and an iTunes gift card. There are so many who need the bodily basics: clean water, shelter, sufficient food. And there are many more who need the spiritual essentials: truth from sound teaching, counsel, comfort, prayer. (Read more.)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Pope-bashing

Here is an article from ChurchMilitantTV on why they will not engage in pope-bashing. To quote:
While we greatly admire and are the beneficiaries of the work of those on whose shoulders we stand in the work to help restore the Catholic Church to its authentic glory, we can neither support nor encourage their ongoing, unnecessary and harmful attacks on the Church and the Holy Father....

Faithful Catholics need help in persevering through their anxieties and doubts, not continual reinforcement and encouragement of those troubling states. Less faithful Catholics form their judgments of "traditional Catholics" through the lens of perceived dissatisfaction and unhappiness with the Church and the Holy Father. Those who relentlessly criticize the Church, Her leaders, and especially the Holy Father, do immense harm to the Church Herself and discourage both potential converts and those struggling to stay faithful through the crisis that is all around us. The sad reputation of "traditional Catholics" as angry dissidents from virtually everything in the Church today is as well deserved as the reputations of those rightly described as modernists.

A line must be drawn when it comes to criticism of the Holy Father, even when he says or does things that would invite appropriate criticism when said or done by those of lower ecclesiastical rank. Errant priests and bishops can be replaced. The Pope cannot. It may make us cringe at times but it always was and always will be true that ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia. There have been extraordinarily awful Popes in the past but, for all that, the Church not only survived but thrived. The Popes immediately before, during and after the Protestant Revolt showed little recognition or understanding of the catastrophe unfolding before them (not unlike the post-conciliar Popes of our own time) yet, from such unpromising soil emerged an astonishing number of great Saints, and the Council of Trent.

Australian Mary MacKillop became St. Mary of the Cross [LINK] in circumstances astonishingly similar to what we now perceive happening with the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FFI). She founded a religious order, was replaced as Mother Superior by her local bishop, served for many years under her replacement before being restored as Mother Superior, was unjustly excommunicated by her bishop, and the order that she founded is, today, a complete mess. But she became a Saint through all that. She showed respect for her local bishop who truly didn't deserve it, even finding excuses for his behavior. During the time she was excommunicated, she didn't seek to start an alternative order to preserve the integrity of what she had started. She was obedient, humble, trusted God, and she became a Saint. (Read more.)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mother Mectilde and Friends

Here are more beautiful passages about the holy Benedictine Abbess Mother Mectilde de Bar from Fr. Mark:
Abbot Louys’ friendship with Catherine–Mectilde de Bar would have been akin to other more famous spiritual friendships of the 17th century: that of Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac, of Francis de Sales and of Jeanne–Françoise de Chantal, of Jean–Jacques Olier and Catherine de Langeac.

Mother Mectilde’s circle of male friends included besides Jean de Bernières and several other notable laymen, Benedictine monks of the Congregation of Saint–Maur, Premonstratensians, Cistercians, Cordeliers (Franciscan Friars), Tiercelin Penitents (Franciscans of the Third Order Regular), Carmelite Fathers, Capuchins, Lazarists, and Sulpicians. Mectilde de Bar was not narrow–minded. (Let us not rashly assume that the conspicuous absence of Jesuits means anything in particular!)

Mectilde de Bar was no shrinking violet when it came to engaging with the men of her day. She maintained her dignity, her exquisite sense of decorum and, at the same time, was not afraid of confronting her own humanity and the humanity of others on the terrain — or should I say battlefield? — of real life. Far from being a pious dreamer lost to this world and time, Mother Mectilde was, like Saint Teresa of Avila, a contemplative fully engaged in the messiness of life. Rarely, if ever, did things go as she hoped they would. Mectilde de Bar persevered in her Benedictine and Eucharistic vocation, quietly trusting God in the midst of war, famine, poverty, sickness, pillage, harassment from a rejected suitor, insecure housing, constant travel, vexing lawsuits, calumny, an attempted house invasion by the agents of a fake princess, and insidious detractions. God sent Abbot Épiphane Louys into her life to support her, defend her interests, and deepen her attraction to a fully Eucharistic life of adoration and reparation.

Born in 1614, the same year as Catherine–Mectilde de Bar, Épiphane (born Nicolas) Louys, was also, like her, a native of the Lorraine. Their peregrinations through a war–torn France led them both, at about the same time, to Paris. Early in 1664, Abbot Louys called on Mother Mectilde to give her news of her community in the Lorraine. A few months later, he appears as the protagonist in the drama surrounding the foundation of a monastery of perpetual adoration in Toul; the city’s notables are all opposed to it. Abbot Louys winning arguments prevail. He installs in the new monastery an image of Our Lady of Benoistevaux, a sanctuary in the care of the Premonstratensians. On 8 December 1664, Abbot Épiphane himself exposes the Blessed Sacrament in the monastery of Toul, thereby inaugurating the new observance. (Read more.)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Angel of the Seven Thunders

The Angel of Revelation by William Blake
Author Emmett O'Regan analyzes the Book of Revelation in the light of the writings of St. Bonaventure, as well as Scripture and history. To quote:
St. Bonaventure's contention that the "time of great peace" which takes place at the start of the seventh age would be marked with the shout of the seven thunders is noteworthy in the fact that the sound produced by the angel here is described as being like a "roaring lion". In the earlier post The Third Secret of Fatima and the Angel with the Flaming Sword, we have already discussed how the prophecy of the angel of the seven thunders can be connected to the terrible events of 9/11. We shall discuss this in some more detail shortly below. The link between the shout of the angel of the seven thunders and the attacks on the World Trade Centre recalls some remarkable private revelations given to Venezuelan mystic Maria Esperanza (1928-2004), who was proclaimed a Servant of God by Bishop Paul Bootkoski in 2010. (Read more.)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Invisible Star of Grace

From Mother Mectilde de Bar:
Tomorrow we shall celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, which signifies the manifestation of Jesus to the holy Magi Kings, who sought Him in the manger of Bethlehem to offer Him their respect and their adoration. This feast must bring us a special devotion because it corresponds more than any other to the spirit of our vocation which deputes us to adore the same Christ Jesus, whom the Magi adored, in the august Sacrament of the Altar, the mystery that contains within itself all the other mysteries of His holy life. For this reason, you can adore there [in the Most Holy Sacrament] the little Child of the manger; you can adore Him together with the Holy Kings and you can say even as they did, “We have seen his star in the east, and are come to adore him” (Matthew 2:2). The call to to the Institute [of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar] was your star, and even though you did not see a visible star, as the Magi did, you have had nonetheless the interior inspiration of grace, which is by far more secure than outward signs.

God Has Chosen Us
You have, then, seen His star, and you have come to adore Him. But what duration and extent must such adoration have? Every instant of our life, and with all our being. We are called  . . . of Perpetual Adoration. Oh, let us not bear so beautiful a name in vain; let us not be illusory adorers, let us correspond with all our capacity to this calling and to God’s choice of us to adore Him continually. Has He need of us for this, poor and miserable creatures [that we are] who can do nothing good of ourselves unless we be moved by His grace? Has He not millions of angels and heavenly spirits who ceaselessly render Him perfect adoration even in our churches, which are altogether full of them? Although we do not see them, this is the truth. All the same, He has chosen us and wants us to have the privilege of adoring Him as they do, and of being His perpetual adorers. We must, in a holy manner, glory in so lofty a vocation! But to carry out such a vocation, it is not enough to spend an hour or some in His presence in choir.

In Spirit and in Truth
Our adoration must be perpetual because the same God whom we adore in the Most Holy Sacrament is always present to us in every place.  We must adore Him in spirit and in truth. In spirit, by means of a holy interior recollection; in truth, by acting in such wise that all our observances become a continual adoration, and this by giving ourselves faithfully to God in all that He asks of us, because as soon as we fail in fidelity, we stop adoring.
Our Institute was created uniquely to make perpetual adorers of us. You have been called to this; it is, therefore, up to you to realise its grace and holiness by becoming authentic adorers who adore in spirit and in truth. Yes, such must be your care and diligence in adoring this God of majesty in spirit and in truth, so as to correspond to His choice of you. In spirit, by the certainty of your faith, believing all that He is in Himself, even without understanding it. His divine greatnesses and perfections deserve your homage, your respect, your adoration. In truth, by adoring Him with your whole being, in such wise that there be nothing in you that you do not wish to hand over and sacrifice to Him in order to adore Him as perfectly as possible according to your capacity and with all your heart. (Read more.)
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