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.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Our Lady, Help of Christians

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

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

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

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.)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Month of May, Month of Mary

The month of May is traditionally dedicated to the Holy Mother of God. As Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen says in Divine Intimacy:
It is a great comfort on our spiritual way, which is often fatiguing and bristling with difficulties, to meet the gentle presence of a mother. One is so at ease near one's mother. With her, everything becomes easier; the weary, the discouraged heart, disturbed by storms, finds new hope and strength, and continues the journey with fresh courage.
(Picture courtesy of House Art Journal)

May processions and crownings are beautiful traditions. A simple May altar in the home is lovely as well. May is also a good time to make the rosary a part of one's daily devotions, if it is not already.

Here is a "May Day Carol," a folk song we sang at school in Maryland.
The moon shines bright, the stars give a light A little before 'tis day
Our Heavenly Father, he called to us
And bid us awake and pray.
Awake, awake, oh pretty, pretty maid
Out of your drowsy dream
And step into your dairy below
And fetch me a bowl of cream

If not a bowl of thy sweet cream
A cup to bring me cheer
For the Lord knows when we shall meet again
To go Maying another year.

A branch of May I've brought you here
And at your door I stand
'Tis nothing but a sprout, but it's well budded out
By the work of our Lord's hand.

My song is done and I must be gone
No longer can I stay
So it's God bless you all, both great and small
And send you a joyful May.
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