Sunday, December 25, 2016

What Child is This?

This Child is God.

(Picture from Holy Cards)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Fatima Jubilee Indulgence

From the National Catholic Register:
For the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, Pope Francis has decided to grant a plenary indulgence opportunity throughout the entire anniversary year, which began Nov. 27, 2016, and will end Nov. 26, 2017. The rector of the Fatima Shrine in Portugal, André Pereira, explained to CNA that the plenary indulgence can be obtained during the entire jubilee year. There are three ways of obtaining the indulgence, detailed in a statement on the shrine’s website. To obtain the plenary indulgence, the faithful must also fulfill the ordinary conditions: Go to confession and Communion, be interiorly detached from sin, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father. (Read more.)

Holy House of Loreto

Today is the feast honoring the Holy House of Loreto. To quote:
Since then, it has become the greatest shrine to Our Lady in the world, ranking even greater than Mary Major in Rome. Over 2,000 canonized, beatified and venerable children of the Church have paid homage to the “Singular Vessel of Devotion” by visiting the home in which she was born, and raised the Son of God. These include: St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, St. John Berchmans, St. Philip Neri, St. Francis de Sales, St. John Capistrano, St. Clement Hofbauer, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, St. Louis de Montfort, St. Benedict Joseph Labre, St. John Neumann, St. John Bosco, St. Therese, Blessed Maximilian Kolbe, Mother Cabrini — just to mention a few. More than fifty Popes have issued Bulls and briefs testifying to its authenticity. Hundreds of Papal documents have granted it privileges, exemptions and authorizations to receive benefits, etc. In 1669 it was given a Mass of its own in the Missal. One of the five litanies approved for public recitation is called after it, the Litany of Loreto.

It is a place of many miracles. Those who have come throughout the ages, beseeching aid from the “Comforter of the Afflicted” usually return home spiritually aided or physically cured. Three successors to the chair of Peter have physically experienced the benevolence of the “Virgin Most Merciful” and were restored to health. They were Pope Pius II, Pope Paul II and Pope Pius IX. Even today cures continue, for Our Lady still exercises her Queenship by interceding for her subjects who implore her aid under the title of Our Lady of Loreto.

Sweet were the days she spent in the little home with Saint Joseph and the Holy Child. Their life within the clay walls was affluent with poverty, resonant with silence and illustrious in humility.

“Her actual life, both at Nazareth and later, must have been a very ordinary one…” said Saint Therese, the Little Flower of Jesus, who once visited the Holy House. “She should be shown to us as some one who can be imitated, some one who lived a life of hidden virtue, and who lived by faith as we do….” (Read entire article.)

More HERE.

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Prayer for America on Election Day

In thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: deliver me in thy justice. Bow down thy ear to me: make haste to deliver me. Be thou unto me a God, a protector, and a house of refuge, to save me. For thou art my strength and my refuge; and for thy name's sake thou wilt lead me, and nourish me. Thou wilt bring me out of this snare, which they have hidden for me: for thou art my protector. Into thy hands I commend my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth. Psalm 30: 1-5 (Douai version)

Monday, October 31, 2016

All Hallows Eve: The Origins

The Christian feast of All Saints was not invented by the Roman Church to replace the pagan Celtic New Year celebration called Samhain, although eventually the two coincided. The feast of All Saints was originally celebrated on May 13 and later transferred to November 1. The Roman Pantheon, once the temple dedicated to all the gods, was dedicated on May 13, 609 to Our Lady Queen of All the Martyrs. It was then that the bones of many martyrs were taken from the catacombs and placed with honor in the Pantheon. As Abbot Gueranger describes in his masterpiece The Liturgical Year, Vol XV:
When Rome had completed the conquest of the world, she dedicated to all the gods, in token of her gratitude, the Pantheon, the most durable monument of her power. But when she herself had been conquered by Christ, and invested by him with the empire over souls, she withdrew her homage from vain idols and offered it to the Martyrs; for they, praying for her as she slew them, had rendered her truly eternal. To the martyrs then, and to Mary their Queen, she consecrated for ever, on the morrow of her merciful chastisement, the now purified Pantheon.
"Come forth from your dwellings, ye Saints of God, hasten to the place prepared for you." For three centuries the catacombs were the resting-place of our Lord's athletes, when they were borne from the arena. These valiant warriors deserved the honours of a triumph far better than did the great victors of old. In 312, however, Rome disarmed but not yet changed in heart, was not at all disposed to applaud the men who had conquered the gods of Olympus and of the Capitol. While the Cross surmounted her ramparts, the white-robed army still lay entrenched in the subterranean crypts that surrounded the city like so many outworks. Three centuries more were granted to Rome, that she might make satisfaction to God's justice, and take full cognizance of the salvation reserved for her by his mercy. In 609 the patient work of grace was completed; the Sovereign Pontiff Boniface IV uttered the word for the sacred crypts to yield up their treasures. It was a solemn moment, a forerunner of that wherein the Angel's trumpet-call shall sound over the sepulchres of the world. The successor of St. Peter, in all his apostolic majesty, and surrounded by an immense crowd, presented himself at the entrance of the catacombs. He was attended by eighteen chariots magnificently adorned for the conveyance of the martyrs. The ancient triumphal way opened before the Saints; the sons of the Quirites sang in their honour: "You shall come with joy and proceed with gladness; for behold, the mountains and the hills exult, awaiting you with joy. Arise, ye Saints of God, come forth from your hiding-places; enter into Rome, which is now the holy city; bless the Roman people following you to the temple of the false gods, which is now dedicated as your own church, there to adore together with you the majesty of the Lord."
Thus, after six centuries of persecution and destruction, the martyrs had the last word; and it was a word of blessing, a signal of grace for the great city hitherto drunk with the blood of Christians. More than rehabilitated by the reception she was giving to the witnesses of Christ, she was now not merely Rome, but the new Sion, the privileged city of the Lord. She now burned before the Saints the incense they had refused to offer to her idols; their blood had flowed before the very altar, on which she now invited them to rest, since the usurpers had been hurled back into the abyss. It was a happy inspiration that induced her, when she dedicated to the holy martyrs the temple built by Marcus Agrippa and restored by Severus Augustus, to leave upon its pediment the names of its primitive constructers and the title they had given it; for then only did the famous monument truly merit its name, when Christian Rome could apply to the new inhabitants of the Pantheon those words of the Psalm: I have said, you are gods. The thirteenth of May was the day of their triumphant installation.
Every dedication on earth reminds the Church, as she herself tells us, of the assembly of the Saints, the living stones of the eternal dwelling which God is building for himself in heaven. It is not astonishing, then, that the dedication of Agrippa's Pantheon, under the above-mentioned circumstances, should have originated the feast of today. Its anniversary, recalling the memory of the martyrs collectively, satisfied the Church's desire of honouring year by year all her blessed sons who had died for the Lord; for at an early date it became impossible to celebrate each of them on the day of his glorious death. In the age of peace there was added to the cultus of the martyrs that of the other just, who daily sanctified themselves in all the paths of heroism opened out to Christian courage. The thought of uniting these with the former in one common solemnity, which would supply for the unavoidable omission of many of them, followed naturally upon the initiative given by Boniface IV.
In 732, in the first half of that eighth century which was such a grand age for the Church, Gregory III dedicated, at St. Peter's on the Vatican, an oratory in honour of the Saviour, of his blessed Mother, of the holy Apostles, of all the holy Martyrs, Confessors, and perfect Just, who repose throughout the world. A dedication under so extensive a title did not, it is true, imply the establishment of our feast of All Saints by the illustrious Pontiff; yet from this period it began to be celebrated by divers churches, and that too on the first of November; as is attested, with regard to England, by Venerable Bede's Martyrology and the Pontifical of Egbert of York. It was far, however, from being universal, when in the year 835 Louis le Debonnaire, at the request of Gregory IV and with the consent of all the bishops of his realm, made its celebration obligatory by law. This decree was welcomed by the whole Church and adopted as her own, says Ado, with reverence and love.
The councils of Spain and Gaul, as early as the sixth century, mention a custom then existing, of sanctifying the commencement of November by three days of penance and litanies, like the Rogation days which precede the feast of our Lord's Ascension.
The main reason the Pope changed the feast of All Saints from May to November was that in the fall after the harvest there was more food to feed the pilgrims who came to Rome to venerate the relics of the martyrs. May 13 is still regarded as the feast of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, and it was on that day that the Blessed Mother first appeared at Fatima in 1917, at the beginning of the century when more Catholics would be killed for their beliefs than ever before.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Novena for Election Day

Let us pray a novena in honor of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States of America, for our country on election day. And here is an excerpt from the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, much of which is based on Sacred Scripture:
Holy Mary, Mother of God, I firmly believe in thy Immaculate Conception. I bless God for having granted thee this glorious privilege. I thank Him a thousand times for having taught it to me by the infallible voice of the Church. Receive my heart, O Immaculate Virgin; I give it to thee without reserve; purify it; guard it; never give it back to me, preserve it in thy love and in the love of Jesus during time and eternity. AMEN.

V. Thy name, O Mary, is as oil poured out.
R. Thy servants have loved thee exceedingly.

Let us pray.
O God, Who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, did prepare a worthy habitation for Thy Son: we beseech Thee, that as in view of the death of that Son, Thou didst preserve her from all stain of sin, so Thou wouldst enable us, being made pure by her intercession, to come unto Thee. Through the same Christ Our Lord. AMEN.
I am adding this prayer to St. Joseph to the novena:
O Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.  
O Saint Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, so that, having engaged here below your heavenly power I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers. O Saint Joseph, I never weary in contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.  Saint Joseph, patron of departing souls - pray for me. Amen

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Oblation of Saint Thérèse

On June 9, 1895, at the Carmel of Lisieux, Saint Thérèse made the Act of Oblation to Merciful Love. In her autobiography she said: "I received the grace to understand, more than ever, how much Jesus desires to be loved." Instead of offering herself as victim to the justice of God, as did other religious, taking upon themselves the "punishment reserved for sinners," Saint Thérèse decided to offer herself as a victim to the Merciful Love of God. She asked to be consumed as a holocaust in the fire of the Sacred Heart, in order to console that Heart and save souls. "Fire transforms all things into itself, " the saint wrote in her Act of Oblation. "I know that the fire of love is more sanctifying than the fire of Purgatory."
 
With her Act of Oblation, Saint Thérèse did not expect sufferings to go away. "I wish to suffer for Love's sake and for Love's sake even to rejoice...I will sing always, even if my roses must be gathered among thorns...." In a letter to her sister Celine, she explained: "The burden of our song is suffering. Jesus offers us a chalice of great bitterness. Let us not withdraw our lips from it, but suffer in peace. He who says peace does not say joy, or at least sensible joy....Do not think we can find love without suffering...."

Through her Oblation to Merciful Love, Saint Thérèse gained a deep insight into her Carmelite vocation. "I understand that love embraces all vocations, that it is all things, and that it reaches out through all ages, and to the uttermost limits of the earth, because it is eternal....In the heart of the Church my Mother, I will be love." She prayed that after her death she be allowed to "return to earth" to keep saving souls. She said: "I want to spend my heaven doing good upon earth."

"You will look down from Heaven, will you not?" asked her sister when Saint Thérèse was mortally ill. 

"No," replied the dying young woman. "I will come down." Another time she said: "After my death, I will let fall from Heaven a shower of roses." On September 30, 1897, in great mental and physical agony, the twenty-four year old nun, gasping for breath, proclaimed: "I do not regret having surrendered myself to Love." A few hours later, her last words were: "My God, I love You."

The miracles which followed her death took the Church and the world by storm.

(All quotations are from the book Soeur Thérèse of Lisieux, The Little Flower, 1912)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Michaelmas

Happy Michaelmas Day!

To St. Michael in Time of Peace

Michael of the Morning,
Michael of the Army of the Lord,
Stiffen thou the hand upon the still sword, Michael,
Folded and shut upon the sheathed sword, Michael,
Under the fullness of the white robes falling,
Gird us with the secret of the sword.
When the world cracked because of a sneer in Heaven,
Leaving out for all time a scar upon the sky,
Thou didst rise up against the Horror in the highest,
Dragging down the highest that looked down on the Most High:
Rending from the seventh heaven the hell of exaltation
Down the seven heavens till the dark seas burn:
Thou that in thunder threwest down the Dragon
Knowest in what silence the Serpent can return.

Down through the universe the vast night falling
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Morning!)
Far down the universe the deep calms calling
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Sword!)
Bid us not forget in the baths of all forgetfulness,
In the sigh long drawn from the frenzy and the fretfulness
In the huge holy sempiternal silence
In the beginning was the Word.

When from the deeps of dying God astounded
Angels and devils who do all but die
Seeing Him fallen where thou couldst not follow,
Seeing Him mounted where thou couldst not fly,
Hand on the hilt, thou hast halted all thy legions
Waiting the Tetelestai and the acclaim,
Swords that salute Him dead and everlasting
God beyond God and greater than His Name.

Round us and over us the cold thoughts creeping
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the battle-cry!)
Round us and under us the thronged world sleeping
(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Charge!)
Guard us the Word; the trysting and the trusting
Edge upon the honour and the blade unrusting
Fine as the hair and tauter than the harpstring
Ready as when it rang upon the targe.

He that giveth peace unto us; not as the world giveth:
He that giveth law unto us; not as the scribes:
Shall he be softened for the softening of the cities
Patient in usury; delicate in bribes?
They that come to quiet us, saying the sword is broken,
Break man with famine, fetter them with gold,
Sell them as sheep; and He shall know the selling
For He was more than murdered. He was sold.

Michael, Michael: Michael of the Mustering,
Michael of the marching on the mountains of the Lord,
Marshal the world and purge of rot and riot
Rule through the world till all the world be quiet:
Only establish when the world is broken
What is unbroken is the Word.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Holy Name of Mary

On September 12, the fifth day within the octave of the Nativity of the Virgin, in 1683, the army of the Turkish Sultan, 300,000 strong, was miraculously defeated at the gates of Vienna after an attempt to sweep across Europe. The King of Poland, Jan Sobieski, had come to the aid of the Habsburg Emperor Leopold, and they attributed the victory to the fact that they had put the name of Mary on their banners, thus invoking the aid of the Mother of God. The triumph, won against overwhelming odds, saved Europe from becoming a Moslem colony, and September 12 became the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary.

"Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, as terrible as an army set in array?" Canticle of Canticles 6:9

"And the virgin's name was Mary...." St. Luke 1:27

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Little Way

From Vultus Christi:
My way is one of gentleness, of mercy, and of compassion. I offer My Cross to souls, but I never impose it, and when a soul begins to say “Yes” to the sweet and terrible exigencies of My love, I fit My Cross to her shoulders and, then, help her to carry it step by step, increasing its weight only as that soul grows in love and in the fortitude that comes from the Holy Spirit.

Conversions that are sudden and excessive are not My habitual way of leading souls in the way of holiness. I prefer to see souls advance by little steps along a way of spiritual childhood, trusting in Me to bring them to Calvary and to the fullness of joy in My presence and in the presence of My Father.

This way is no less demanding than the high road along which, by reasons known to Me alone, I lead certain other souls. The little way, marked by little steps, is, nonetheless, the way I prefer, because it perfects souls quickly in the image of My own littleness, My poverty, and My abandonment to the Father’s will. (Read more.)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Prayer, Mortification and Fraternal Charity

On the feast of the Franciscan martyr St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe it is a privilege to read one of his homilies translated from Polish by Fr. Angelo. In the words of the heroic priest-martyr:
Prayer, above all prayer, is the effective weapon to use in the fight for the liberty and happiness of souls. Why?

Because only supernatural means lead to a supernatural end. Heaven—if one may say—is the divinization of the soul, a supernatural reality in the full sense of the term. Consequently, it cannot be attained by merely natural power. It is also indispensable to have a supernatural means, that is, divine grace. And this is obtained by humble and confident prayer. Grace, and only grace, which enlightens the intellect and strengthens the will, is the cause of conversion or the liberation of the soul from the bonds of evil.

But a prayer lifted up to God through the hands of the Immaculate cannot remain without effect, as it is said in the invocation of St. Bernard: "Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection was ever abandoned by You." So before all else there must be humble, confident and unfailing prayer. (Read more.)
More HERE about the saint of Auschwitz.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

On Carmel's Height

From Vultus Christi:
We are compelled to ponder today what can only be called a core text of the liturgical and spiritual tradition of Carmel. I refer, of course, to the lesson from the Third Book of Kings. This is a text — no, more than a text, a living word — that has, over the centuries, captured the heart of those called to live on Carmel’s heights.
Elias went up to the top of Carmel, and casting himself down upon the earth put his face between his knees, And he said to his servant: Go up, and look towards the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said: There is nothing. And again he said to him: Return seven times. And at the seventh time, behold, a little cloud arose out of the sea like a man’s foot. And he said: Go up and say to Achab: Prepare thy chariot and go down, lest the rain prevent thee. And while he turned himself this way and that way, behold the heavens grew dark, with clouds, and wind, and there fell a great rain. (3 Kings 18:42–45)
Its context is important.  First of all, a terrible drought has come over the land; God withholds his life–giving rain. Over the land ruled by Achab, a weak king, influenced by his wife’s devotion to the great sky–god, Baal, the heavens are closed. Elias determines that this state of affairs must be resolved. The true God, the God of Israel must be glorified in the sight of all. «And Elias coming to all the people, said: How long do you halt between two sides? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people did not answer him a word» (3 Kings 18:21).
Elias summons the prophets of Baal, favourites of the wicked Queen Jezebel, to a public showdown on Mount Carmel. A holocaust is prepared. By the sign of fire from heaven the true God will make Himself known. The prophets of Baal were the first to begin the dreadful rite. The heavens were not moved by their frantic entreaties; Baal was distant and deaf to their cries, even though they cut themselves with swords and lances, joining blood to their futile ravings. (Read more.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Fr. Peter and the Immaculate

I was blessed as a young Carmelite to be taught by Fr. Peter. Here is a magnificent conference by Fr. Angelo about Fr. Peter's Marian writings. To quote:
At the Symposium titled "Sursum Actio" at Notre Dame Univ. from Jun 8-9, 2015, in honor of the life work of Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I., Fr. Angelo Geiger, FI, from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas, gives the thirteenth conference which he titles, "In the Counsels of the Immaculate: Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner’s Contribution to the Renewal of Franciscan Immaculatism". He points out how much Fr. Peter has contributed to renewing the great Marian tradition of the Franciscan Conventuals and how this is the way they will regroup and fulfill their mission of renewing the Church. Fr. Peter did this primarily by bringing to light the great patrimony of St. Maximilian Kolbe in promoting total consecration to Mary in the Church as a way of bringing to fruition the declaration of the Immaculate Conception as a dogma in 1854. (Read more.)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Gabrielle de Bossis

From Mystics of the Church:
Gabrielle Bossis (1874-1950) was a Catholic Mystic and layperson who lived in France in the 20th century. Born in Nantes, France in 1874, she was the youngest child of a family of four children. As a child in a well to do family, she was taught and raised in proper social graces and etiquette, and she grew up to be a graceful, happy and high spirited young woman, but as from her childhood she possessed a strong yearning for God and the things of the Spirit. She obtained a Degree in Nursing, and enjoyed the fine arts of that time, including sculpting, painting, illuminating and music. Later in life she discovered that she had another talent- that of writing moral plays and also acting. From that point on until two years before her death she traveled extensively in France and abroad, producing her own plays and acting in the principal role. Those who still remember her remark about her infectious laughter and her unfailing charm.

On very rare occasions in her early life, Gabrielle had been surprised by a Mysterious Voice, which she heard and felt with awe, and sometimes anxious questionings, which she perceived to be the Voice of Christ. It was only at the age of 62, however, that this touching dialogue with the "Inner Voice" began in earnest, continuing (at least in her notes) until two weeks before her death on June 9, 1950.

The journal that she kept of her dialogue with the Inner Voice has been published in numerous languages under the title "He and I" (see note above) and has become a source of deep inspiration and edification for those who read it. Below are a few excerpts from this extraordinary dialogue between "the Inner Voice" and Gabrielle. (Read more.)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lough Derg and Croagh Patrick

Local tradition, as well as substantiated historical evidence and artifacts, prove that Saint Patrick did pray in seclusion on the island of Lough Derg, performing penances for his new flock of wayward Irish converts. It is called "Saint Patrick's Purgatory" because of the cave that was supposed to lead to the nether world. People are still able to make pilgrimages at this holy site, going barefoot and fasting on tea and toast, while sleeping in bee-hive cells, just like the old monks. It would be an interesting place for a retreat.

We often forget what St. Patrick endured to bring the faith to Ireland. The Irish had such a reputation for fierceness and piracy so that most missionaries were afraid to go there. Saint Patrick had suffered as a slave in Ireland (he would make a great patron of the enslaved) after being kidnapped from his home. That he would have the courage to return to the place of his degradation is amazingly heroic in itself. Once in Ireland as a missionary, Saint Patrick had many ordeals. The druids hated him and tried to kill him at least once; he was often hunted like an animal. In order to recollect himself and gain strength and grace for his apostolic endeavors, he would retreat to a mountain called "Croagh Patrick."

According to New Advent:

A mountain looking out on the Atlantic ocean from the southern shore of Clew Bay, in the County Mayo, and called "the Sinai of Ireland." In pagan times it was known as Cruachan Aigli. It rises in a perfect cone to a height of 2510 feet. The account given below is taken from sources that post-date the saint's death by three hundred years. There are, however, good reasons to believe that the traditions they embody are genuine, St. Patrick was careworn and fatigued when he came to this remote part of the country. He longed to retire for a while to refresh his soul in solitude, and for that purpose on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday in the year 441, he betook himself to the mountain top. Here he spent the days of Lent, chastising his body with fasts, pouring out his heart to God, and entreating Him with prolonged importunity and with tears that the Faith may not fail in the land of Erin. The "Book of Armagh" mentions that God summoned all the saints of Erin, past, present and future, to appear before their father in the Faith to comfort him with a vision of the teeming harvest his labours would produce, and to join him in blessing their kinsmen and their country.
It is good to know that even the great saints had times when they had to fight discouragement. They rejuvenated themselves by being alone with God. Croagh Patrick is still a place of pilgrimage.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The True Light of Epiphany

From Vultus Christi:
If one wants to know what God is offering one on any given day, one must open one’s missal and there, in the prayers of the Mass, discover those things for which the Church is asking. One may want other things. One may have other ideas. One may think one needs certain graces. The Church, however, in the sacred liturgy always asks for exactly the things one needs. To receive these things one must practice a certain abnegation. One must say to one’s soul:
My soul, thou hast thy desires; leave them all aside and enter into the desires of God. Thou hast thy plans and thy dreams; let go of them and lay hold of the plan of God so as to fulfil His dreams for thee. Thou hast thy preoccuptions, thy worries, thy anxieties, and thy needs; seek to discover what God would give thee, and ask for that thing. If thou askest for what God already desireth to give thee, thou art asking rightly and will be heard promptly, for God is quick to grant the things for which He Himself moveth us to ask.
(Read more.)
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