Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Blessed Francisco Marto

From Fr. Mark:
The words of the Angel of Fatima,  “Console your God”,  engraved themselves in young Francisco’s heart. They became the compelling inspiration of his short life of eleven years (1908–1919). Francisco wanted, more than anything else, to be the Consoler of the Hidden Jesus. He did this by praying rosary after rosary, and by spending hours close to the tabernacle of the parish church.

Readers familiar with the story of Fatima will recall that on 13 May 1917, after hearing the Lady say, “I come from heaven”, Lucia asked if she and her little companions would go to heaven. The Lady replied that both Lucia and Jacinta would go to heaven , but that Francisco would need to say many rosaries first.

This enigmatic utterance concerning Francisco has, over the years, given rise to a certain amount of speculation as to its meaning. Various interpretations have been ascribed to it, but I found none of them satisfying. Some commentators even suggested that Francisco was somehow held back in his spiritual development and, therefore, needed more prayer than his sister Jacinta and his cousin Lucia. (Read more.)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Praying the Rosary

From Fr. Mark:
In a not so distant past, when the Rosary was prayed aloud, the individual leading the prayers would, invariably, do so while kneeling at a prie–dieu facing the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. All were united in turning to the representation of Our Lady’s presence. The shift from the prie–dieu to the ambo, and the change in direction, has brought about and continues to foster an altogether unsettling development in the public recitation of the Rosary, analogous to what happens when the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated at a forward–facing altar. Inevitably, the Rosary takes on a didactic character, in contrast to the contemplative, supplicatory, and doxological movement that has always been its very soul.

During my pilgrimage I could not help but notice the inflation of a verbose didactic approach to the Rosary. Each decade of the Rosary became an opportunity for someone to hold forth about something. These were not mere meditations on the mysteries but, rather, moralising and exhortatory fervorini stitched together with all the fashionable pastoral buzz words. My sense was that people would have preferred to get on with their prayers, and found all this holding forth wearisome. (Read more.)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Paray-le-Monial, 1689


In 1689, St. Margaret Mary confided in a letter to her superior Mother de Saumaise about a vision of Our Lord she had recently experienced. Here are the words of Our Lord concerning France and the consecration to the Sacred Heart as she recorded them:
He desires, then, it seems to me, to enter with pomp and magnificence into the palaces of kings and princes, therein to be honored as much as He has been despised, humiliated, and outraged in His Passion. May He receive as much pleasure therein at seeing the great ones of the world abasing and humbling themselves before Him as He once felt bitterness at beholding Himself annihilated at their feet!
Here are the words that I heart on this point: 'MAKE KNOWN TO THE ELDEST SON OF MY HEART,' SPEAKING OF OUR KING, 'THAT AS HIS TEMPORAL BIRTH WAS OBTAINED THROUGH DEVOTION TO THE MERITS OF MY HOLY CHILDHOOD, IN THE SAME MANNER HE WILL OBTAIN HIS BIRTH OF GRACE AND ETERNAL GLORY BY THE CONSECRATION THAT HE WILL MAKE OF HIMSELF TO MY ADORABLE HEART, which wishes to triumph over those of the great ones of the world. IT WISHES TO REIGN IN HIS PALACE, TO BE PAINTED ON HIS STANDARDS AND ENGRAVEN ON HIS ARMS, IN ORDER TO RENDER HIM VICTORIOUS OVER ALL HIS ENEMIES.'

In The Life of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque the Right Reverend Emile Bougaud comments thus:
To comprehend Almighty God's request with regard to the standard, we must recall that, from the earliest ages, France had always had a sacred standard, one that was not borne to vulgar combats; one that rested in the sanctuary of St. Denis under the shadow of the country's holy protectors. It was removed from its sacred shrine only when the monarch headed the army, when it was solemnly sought in the hour of the greatest danger, or when it was to be carried afar to the holy wars. It symbolized the religious soul of France, and floated like a sacred prayer amid the nation's banners. It was a standard of this kind that God had given to Joan of Arc. He had prescribed its form and emblems, and communicated to it the secret virtue that roused exhausted France to unhoped-for triumphs. Today, through the lips of the virgin of Paray, God asked of the king of France something of the same kind, a sacred standard which was to symbolize an act of faith. It was to be borne side by side with the nation's flag, and, in a voice that could be distinctly heard above the proverbial bravado of her enemies, proclaim that France places her trust in the blessing of God.
When St. Margaret Mary did not hear from her superior, she wrote again:
Live + Jesus!
August, 1689,
The Eternal Father, wishing to repair the bitterness and agony that the Adorable Heart of His Divine Son endured in the palaces of earthly princes, amidst the humiliations and outrages of His Passion, wishes to establish His empire in the heart of our great monarch, of whom He desires to make use in the execution of His designs, which is to have an edifice erected in which shall be a picture of His divine Heart, to receive the consecration and homage of the king and all the court.
Moreover, this divine Heart wishes to make itself the defender of the sacred person of the king, his protector against all his enemies. Therefore has it chosen him as its faithful friend, to have the Mass authorized by the Holy Apostolic See, and to obtain all the other privileges that ought to accompany devotion to this divine Heart.
It is by this divine Heart that God wishes to dispense the treasures of His graces of sanctification and salvation, by bestowing His benediction on the king's undertakings, according a happy success to his arms, and making him triumph over the malice of his enemies
.
Fr. Bougaud makes the following assessment:
We have not Mother de Saumaise's answer to his letter of August, 1689. She who had known how to reach Rome and arouse the thoughts of the Sovereign Pontiffs would neglect nothing to to reach even Louis XIV. We know that she had recourse to the Superioress of the Visitation of Chaillot, the refuge of Mlle. de la Fayette, where dwelt the queen of England, and which held, so to say, its door open to the court of Louis XIV. Might it happen that Pere de la Chaise would not dare to speak of it to the king? Might it happen that Louis XIV's soul would not be sufficiently humble to comprehend the Christian grandeur of such a thought? Be that as it may, those tender and magnanimous advances to the Heart of Jesus were not understood, and Margaret Mary's last admonitions were without avail, were lost in oblivion. They were, indeed, her last words, we are at the close of 1689, and she was nearing her death.
1689! Involuntarily we pause at this date, for it evokes another, 1789! A century has just rolled by between the epoch in which the humble virgin, hidden in the depths of a cloister, pointed out to Louis XIV the ark of salvation prepared for him by the goodness of God, and that other epoch in which arose the storm that was to sweep away the monarchy, and with it all other monarchies. If told in the days of his splendor of the perils in store in France, of the necessity of seeking a remedy, a shelter far above man, yea, even in the Adorable Heart of Jesus, Louis XIV would have smiled incredulously. And yet this was true. From Louis XIV France descended to Louis XV, from Louis XV to Voltaire, from Voltaire to Robespierre and Marat; that is to say, from pride to corruption, from corruption to impiety, and from both the one and the other to a hatred of God and man which was to bring about her universal punishment. (Right Reverend Emile Bougaud, The Life of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. Published in 1890 by Benziger Brothers. Re-printed by TAN Books and Publishers, 1990, pp. 267-273.)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Feast of Our Holy Mother St. Teresa


The following is an account of the death of the Great Teresa on October 4, 1582 at Alba de Tormes, by her secretary Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew.
Two days before she died, she asked to be given the Most Holy Sacrament, for she knew now that she was dying. On seeing that they were bringing it to her, see sat up in bed in such a spirited way that it looked as if she were going to get up, so they had to restrain her. Then she said, with great joy: "My Lord, it is time to set out...." She gave hearty thanks to God that she was a daughter of the Church and was dying as such, saying that through the merits of Christ she hoped to be saved, and she asked us all to beseech God to pardon her sins and to look, not at them, but only at His own mercy. With great humility she asked pardon of all, telling them not to take into account the things she had done and the bad example she had set them.
When the sisters saw that she was dying, they begged her to say something to them that would be to their profit, and she entreated them, for the love of God, to keep strictly to their Rule and Constitutions. There was nothing that she wished to add to this. Afterwards, she said little more save for repeating again and again that verse of David which says: Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus; cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies ("A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit, a humble and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise." Psalm 50:19, The Vulgate) Especially the phrase cor contritum-- this she kept repeating till she could say no more. Before this she had asked for Extreme Unction which she received with great devotion.

On St. Francis' Day, at nine o'clock in the evening, Our Lord took her to be with Him and left us all in such sorrow and grief that, if I had to describe it here, there would be a great deal to say. I heard a few things which the Holy Mother said before she expired, but so wonderful are they that I shall not set them down here. My superiors can relate them if they think it well to do so.


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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dance of the Sun

October 13 marks the anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, when the sun swirled in the sky, a phenomenon witnessed by thousands of people. The three children-- Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta-- saw Our Lady appear as the joyful Virgin Mother, the Sorrowful Mother, and finally as Our Glorious Lady of Mount Carmel. They also saw St. Joseph in the sky, holding the Child Jesus. In his book entitled St. Joseph, Fatima, and Fatherhood, Monsignor Joseph A. Cirrincione offers some thought-provoking reflections.
The role of the priest in relation to Christ is strikingly analogous to the role of St. Joseph in relation to God the Father. Just as the Eternal Father willed to share His Fatherhood with St. Joseph...so Jesus willed to share His Fatherhood with the priest.... (p.28)
Likewise, "the sun stands out in a special way as a symbol and figure of God, and also of His Church...." Monsignor goes on to say that at Fatima "the 'miracle of the sun' represents not so much a threat of evils to come as it does a foreshadowing of the dethronement of God the Father, and an intimation of the appalling consequences inevitably to follow." One month after the "dance" of the sun in Fatima, the Communists took control of Russia.
The combination of atheism and secularism-- which practically speaking amounts to the universal and official rejection of the Fatherhood of God by mankind across the entire face of the earth....And I believe it was foreshadowed by the 'miracle of the sun' at Fatima in 1917.

[....]
Rejection of the Fatherhood of God by the vast majority of mankind inevitably has set in motion a chain reaction of consequences affecting fatherhood under every aspect that we have considered here. The notion of fatherhood in many families, for example, has been reduced to a biological fact. And the role of the father as the head of the family has completely gone out of style...the disintegration of the family inexorably and inevitably is leading to the disintegration of society itself....But the spirit of anti-fatherhood has entered even the Catholic Church. Recognition of the fatherhood of the Vicar of Christ...has eroded to an alarming degree...the role of priestly fatherhood is now coveted by women, seeking to escape the noble destiny which God has prepared for their sex, but which nevertheless they are taught to regard as drudgery. (pp.40-41)
Our Lady of Fatima's remedy for societal and moral ills is the prayer of the rosary, consecration to her Immaculate Heart (symbolized by wearing the brown scapular), and the loving performance of our daily duties. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for Christians to perform the most basic duties of their individual states of life. Yet it is the fulfillment of our ordinary duties upon which our salvation depends. Let us have an ever increasing confidence in the prayers and protection of the Mother of Mercy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Our Lady of Victory

 It is the anniversary of the battle of Lepanto, now known as the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Victory.

Here is a history of the rosary.

Don Marco discusses the comfort of the beads.
Sacramentals should be things of beauty. The soul thrives in an environment of chaste loveliness, harmony, and order. Finely crafted beads invite to prayer. There is no shame in going to God by means of the senses He has given us. The Word became flesh so that we, in our flesh and not in spite of it, might be able to go to God.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Feast of the Guardian Angels

Here is a brief history of the liturgical feast of the Holy Guardian Angels:
This feast, like many others, was local before it was placed in the Roman calendar.... Paul V placed it (27 September, 1608) among the feasts of the general calendar as a double "ad libitum" (Bäumer, op. cit., II, 277)....At the request of Ferdinand of Austria, afterwards emperor, he made them obligatory in all regions subject to the Imperial power; to all other places he conceded them ad libitum, to be celebrated on the first available day after the Feast of the Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel. It is believed that the new feast was intended to be a kind of supplement to the Feast of St. Michael, since the Church honoured on that day (29 September) the memory of all the angels as well as the memory of St. Michael.... Among the numerous changes made in the calendar by Clement X was the elevation of the Feast of Guardian Angels to the rank of an obligatory double for the whole Church to be kept on 2 October, this being the first unoccupied day after the feast of St. Michael....Finally Leo XIII (5 April, 1883) favoured this feast to the extent of raising it to the rank of a double major.
The following is an old English bed-time prayer for children, of which there are many variations:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
Bless this bed that I lay on.
Before I lay me down to sleep,
I give my soul to Christ to keep.
Four corners to my bed,
Four angels 'round my head,
One to watch, one to pray,
And two to bear my soul away.
I go by sea, I go by land,
The Lord made me with his right hand,
If any danger come to me,
Sweet Jesus Christ, deliver me.
For he's the branch and I'm the flower,
Pray God send me a happy hour,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Needless to say, the belief in angel guardians is of ancient origin and has a strong Biblical foundation, as the Book of Exodus bears witness:
20 Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared. 21 Take notice of him, and hear his voice, and do not think him one to be contemned: for he will not forgive when thou hast sinned, and my name is in him. 22 But if thou wilt hear his voice, and do all that I speak, I will be an enemy to thy enemies, and will afflict them that afflict thee. 23 And my angel shall go before thee.... (Exodus 23:20-23)
Recta Ratio has some pictures and some thoughts as well. More HERE.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Passion of Saint Thérèse


In June of 1895, two years before her death, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face made an "Act of Oblation to Merciful Love." She expressed her gratitude to God for the grace of suffering: "Since you deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to resemble You and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your Passion." (The Story of a Soul, trans. by Fr. John Clarke, OCD, p.277)

In the mental and physical sufferings that St. Thérèse experienced in the weeks preceding her early demise, she came to resemble her Crucified Spouse very much. As the tuberculosis consumed her body, a trial of faith and hope, in which heaven and eternity seemed closed to her, tortured her soul. The coughing of blood and persistent sore throat led to a treatment of painful cauterization with silver nitrate. Eventually, "gangrene ate away her intestines and she lost blood two or three times a day. Drinking only intensified her burning thirst. She had a terrible feeling of suffocation which could not be eliminated by the administration of ether. Finally, her bones protruded through her flesh to such an extent that, when she was made to sit upright to get some relief, it seemed to her that she was seated on iron spikes." (Complete Spiritual Doctrine of St. Therese of Lisieux by Rev. Francois Jamart, pp. 187-188) She confided to her sister, Mother Agnes of Jesus, that her pain was so intense that at times she was tempted to commit suicide: "What a grace it is to have faith! If I had no faith I would have inflicted death on myself without hesitating a moment!" (The Story of a Soul, p. 264)

On the afternoon of September 30, 1897, she entered into her agony. "Everything I have written about my desires for suffering," she gasped. "Oh, it is true just the same. I am not sorry for having surrendered myself to love. Oh, I am not sorry, on the contrary!" (The Story of a Life by Bishop Guy Gaucher, p. 204)

Nevertheless, Mother Agnes was so distressed by her sister's ordeal that she knelt before a statue of the Sacred Heart and begged for the grace of final perseverance for her little Thérèse. When the other nuns of the Carmel were summoned to the infirmary to support their sister with prayers in her dying moments, they saw her purplish hands holding her profession crucifix. Shortly after seven o'clock in the evening, the saint looked at the crucifix and breathed forth her last words: "My God, I love You!" After gazing a few moments with an expression of ecstatic joy at the statue of Our Lady, the beloved "Virgin of the Smile," brought from her childhood home, she died peacefully, her own face transfigured and smiling. On October 4, she was buried in the cemetery of the town of Lisieux. Only a few relatives and friends were present at the burial of the twenty-four year old nun. No one guessed that a storm of glory, a shower of miracles, was about to break forth.
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