Friday, May 26, 2017

Pentecost Novena

The Pentecost novena begins today, even for those who did not get to celebrate the Ascension yesterday. Scott Richert provides the prayers here. The Golden Sequence makes a superb novena prayer as well.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus,        Come, Holy Spirit,
et emitte caelitus                send forth the heavenly
lucis tuae radium.               radiance of your light.

Veni, pater pauperum,      Come, father of the poor,
veni, dator munerum         come giver of gifts,
veni, lumen cordium.         come, light of the heart.

Consolator optime,             Greatest comforter,
dulcis hospes animae,         sweet guest of the soul,
dulce refrigerium.               sweet consolation.

In labore requies,                In labor, rest,
in aestu temperies               in heat, temperance,
in fletu solatium.                  in tears, solace.

O lux beatissima,                 O most blessed light,
reple cordis intima               fill the inmost heart
tuorum fidelium.                  of your faithful.

Sine tuo numine,                  Without your divine will,
nihil est in homine,               there is nothing in man,
nihil est innoxium.                nothing is harmless.

Lava quod est sordidum,     Wash that which is unclean,
riga quod est aridum,           water that which is dry,
sana quod est saucium.        heal that which is wounded.

Flecte quod est rigidum,      Bend that which is inflexible,
fove quod est frigidum,        warm that which is chilled,
rege quod est devium.          make right that which is wrong.

Da tuis fidelibus,                    Give to your faithful,
in te confidentibus,                who rely on you,
sacrum septenarium.            the sevenfold gifts.

Da virtutis meritum,             Give reward to virtue,
da salutis exitum,                  give salvation at our passing on,
da perenne gaudium,            give eternal joy.
Amen, Alleluia.                      Amen, Alleluia.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ascension of the Lord

(Icon of the Ascension by Andrei Rublev)

Let us look towards Heaven.
Our desires, on this Day, should be, that we may follow our Jesus to life everlasting, and overcome all the hindrances that we may have to encounter on the way thither....
A tradition, handed down from the early ages, and confirmed by the revelations of the Saints, tells us that the Ascension of our Lord took place at the hour of Noon. The Carmelites of St. Teresa's Reform honour this pious tradition by assembling in the Choir, at the hour of mid-day on the Ascension; and spend it in the contemplation of this last of Jesus' mysteries, following him, in thought and desire, to the throne of his glory.
Let us, also, follow him; but before looking on the bright Noon which smiles on his triumph, let us go back in thought to his first coming among us. It was at mid-night, in the stable of Bethlehem. That dark and silent hour was an appropriate commencement to the three and thirty years of his life on earth. He had come to accomplish a great mission: year by year, and day by day, he laboured in its fulfillment. It was nigh to its fulfillment, when men laid their sacrilegious hands upon him, and nailed him to a Cross. It was mid-day, when he was thus raised up in the air; but the Eternal Father would not permit the sun to shine on Jesus' humiliation. Darkness covered the face of the earth ; and that Day had no Noon. Three hours after, the sun re-appeared. Three days after, the Crucified rose again from the Tomb, and it was at the early dawn of light.
On this day, yea at this very hour, his work is completed. He has redeemed us, by his Blood, from our sins ; he has conquered death by his "Resurrection to life :—had he not a right to choose, for his Ascension, the hour when the sun is pouring forth his warmest and brightest beams... ~Abbot Gueranger's The Liturgical Year
Here is the Ascension hymn, translated by Fr. Mark:
Jesu, nostra redemptio,
Amor et desiderium,
Deus Creator omnium,
Homo in fine temporum.


O Jesus, our redemption,
our love, and our desire,
God, Creator of all things,
become Man in the fullness of time.

Quae te vicit clementia,
Ut ferres nostra crimina,
Crudelem mortem patiens,,
Ut nos a morte tolleres!


What tender love, what pity
compelled Thee to bear our crimes,
to suffer a cruel death
that we, from death, might be saved?

Inferni claustra penetrans,
Tuos captivos redimens,
Victor triumpho nobili
Ad dextram Patris residens:


Into death’s dark cloister didst Thou descend,
and from it captives free didst bring;
Thy triumph won, Thou didst take Thy place,
Thou, the Victor, at the Father’s right.

Ipse te cogat pietas,
Ut mala nostra superes,
Parcendo, et voti compotes
Nos tuo vultu saties.


'Twas a tender love, a costly compassion
that pressed Thee our sorrows to bear;
granting pardon, Thou didst raise us up
to fill us full with the splendour of Thy face.

Tu esto nostrum gaudium,
Qui es futurus praemium:
Sit nostra in te gloria
Per cuncta semper saecula. 


Thou art already the joy of all our days,
Thou Who in eternity will be our prize;
let all our glory be in Thee,
forever, and always, and in the age to come.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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.)

Monday, May 22, 2017

54 Day Holy Face Novena for Our President

From Fr. Richard Heilman:
I am convinced we are in the throes of the greatest spiritual war of all times (I wrote about it here). While much of it is played out in the political theatre, it goes to the heart of everything we Christians hold near and dear to us, because it is a battle fought for Deus Vult (The will of God). The enemy, just as it was in the Crusades, is seeking to seize ground by force and unjust tactics, while we are trying to protect this ground or even reclaim surrendered ground. Daniel Greenfield writes
A civil war has begun.

This civil war is very different than the last one. There are no cannons or cavalry charges. The left doesn’t want to secede. It wants to rule. Political conflicts become civil wars when one side refuses to accept the existing authority. The left has rejected all forms of authority that it doesn’t control.
 Our President and his administration are experiencing an unprecedented full-on assault. They are using the classic Saul Alinsky “Rules for Radicals,” Rule #12:
“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.“ Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.”
A civil war, yes, but, without a doubt, a spiritual war. Even the witches are coming out and joining forces to seize power for the radical secular – anti-God – left (read HERE).

But, we have the supernatural power of God on our side. Of the many spiritual weapons at our disposal, the Chaplet of the Holy Face remains one of the most powerful. The Chaplet of the Holy Face of Jesus is a favorite of Cardinal Burke’s, especially in times of intense spiritual warfare, which we all understand we face at this moment in time.

Saint Athanasius relates that the devils on being asked what verse in the Scriptures they feared the most, replied: “That with which the 67th Psalm commences: Let God arise, and let His Enemies be scattered, and let them that hate Him flee from before His face!” They added that this verse always compelled them to take flight.

While we are all gearing up for Novena for Our Nation, beginning August 15 to October 7 (please mark your calendar), many feel we need to stay in the battle “right now.”

So, here is what we are going to do …
54 Day Holy Face Novena
Beginning Wednesday, May 24, we are asking as many as possible to join ranks in this spiritual combat to ask protection for the President and his administration. May 24th “happens” to be a day the witches are doing their “spells thing” and May 24th “happens” to be the day the President is meeting with Pope Francis. This will conclude 54 days later on July 16, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Those who enlist in this 54 Day Holy Face Novena, will be asked to offer three things each day
  1. Pray the Chaplet of the Holy Face (the “how to” can be found HERE)
  2. Pray St. Patrick’s Lorica Prayer for the President (found HERE)
  3. Add a daily penance (see March to Mount Carmel) (Read more.)
**********************************************************************************
May 24 is the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, a good day to begin the 54 days of prayer. I have never heard of the "March to Mount Carmel" penance suggested but if Fr. Richard recommends it then no doubt it is worthwhile. I do not know what became of my Holy Face Chaplet, if I ever had one, although I seem to have every other imaginable chaplet. So I will be substituting the Holy Face novena prayer and litany (below) for the chaplet.

The image above is the drawing of the imprint of Our Lord's face on the Veronica veil, as it is venerated in the Carmelite Order, and propagated by Sister Marie de Saint Pierre and Venerable Leo Dupont. It was a devotion spread to protect the people from Communism, which had begun to manifest itself as a political movement in 1848.

Here is the prayer of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux to the Holy Face:
O Jesus, who in Thy bitter Passion didst become "the most abject of men, a man of sorrows," I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead; but now it has become for me as if it were the face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize Thy infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men. The tears which well up abundantly in Thy sacred eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, whose adorable Face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy divine image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.
Another site with everything about the Holy Face devotion is HERE.

Relic of the Veronica Veil at St. Peter's Basilica

The Litany of the Holy Face of Jesus
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven,
R. Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world.
R. Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
R. Have mercy on us.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, radiant splendour of the Father,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, spotless mirror of the majesty of God and image of His goodness,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, where radiates the consuming fire of the Holy Spirit,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, joy of the Virgin Mary,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, Who allowed Thyself to be embraced by little children,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, covered with sadness at the departure of the rich young man,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, Whose gaze converted the sinful woman
and transformed the heart of Peter,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, sought by all those who love Thee,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, light of all the upright of heart,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, Whose radiant beauty is veiled to the proud,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, in Whose light our misery lies open,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, Whose compassionate gaze wants to take away our bitterness,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, Whose meekness is so sweet that it transforms souls,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, on which we read Thine infinite Charity,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, Whose look of mercy enfolds the whole world,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, which will never be sufficiently honoured,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, covered with a sweat of blood,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, touched by the infamous traitor’s kiss,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, crowned with thorns,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, insulted by hatred, negligence, and infidelities,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, buffeted by servants, struck by soldiers, and bruised abusively by the crowd,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, stained with spittle, dust, and blood,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, despised by the powerful of this world,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, trembling with sorrow upon meeting Mary,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, tenderly wiped by Veronica,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, on which we can read all the traces of our sins,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, hidden in the Holy Sacrament,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, which the Angels so greatly desired to see and before which they can only be silent and adore,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, Whose brightness will one day be the reward of the just and the most burning punishment of sinners,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, before which the elect cast their crowns in everlasting praise,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, Whose radiance is all the beauty of holy souls,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Most Holy Face of Jesus, which will transfigure us from glory to glory,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
V. Behold, O God our protector.
R. And look upon the Face of Thy Christ.
Let us pray.
O Lord Jesus Christ, glory of the Heavenly Father
and light of souls,
we beseech Thee with confidence that,
as we make our way amidst the shadows of this world,
the splendour of Thy Face may shine upon us,
that in the light of Thy Countenance,
we may at length merit to contemplate the eternal light
in which Thou livest and reignest with God the Father,
in the unity of the Holy Ghost,
forever and ever.
R. Amen.
Psalm 67 is used in exorcisms.
Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered: and let them that hate him flee from before his face.
2As smoke vanisheth, so let them vanish away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.
3And let the just feast, and rejoice before God: and be delighted with gladness.
4Sing ye to God, sing a psalm to his name, make a way for him who ascendeth upon the west: the Lord is his name. Rejoice ye before him: but the wicked shall be troubled at his presence,
5who is the father of orphans, and the judge of widows. God in his holy place:
6God who maketh men of one manner to dwell in a house: Who bringeth out them that were bound in strength; in like manner them that provoke, that dwell in sepulchres.
7O God, when thou didst go forth in the sight of thy people, when thou didst pass through the desert:
8The earth was moved, and the heavens dropped at the presence of the God of Sina, at the presence of the God of Israel.
9Thou shalt set aside for thy inheritance a free rain, O God: and it was weakened, but thou hast made it perfect.
10In it shall thy animals dwell; in thy sweetness, O God, thou hast provided for the poor.
11The Lord shall give the word to them that preach good tidings with great power.
12The king of powers is of the beloved, of the beloved; and the beauty of the house shall divide spoils.
13If you sleep among the midst of lots, you shall be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and the hinder parts of her back with the paleness of gold.
14When he that is in heaven appointeth kings over her, they shall be whited with snow in Selmon.
15The mountain of God is a fat mountain. A curdled mountain, a fat mountain.
16Why suspect, ye curdled mountains? A mountain in which God is well pleased to dwell: for there the Lord shall dwell unto the end.
17The chariot of God is attended by ten thousands; thousands of them that rejoice: the Lord is among them in Sina, in the holy place.
18Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts in men. Yea for those also that do not believe, the dwelling of the Lord God.
19Blessed be the Lord day by day: the God of our salvation will make our journey prosperous to us.
20Our God is the God of salvation: and of the Lord, of the Lord are the issues from death.
21But God shall break the heads of his enemies: the hairy crown of them that walk on in their sins.
22The Lord said: I will turn them from Basan, I will turn them into the depth of the sea:
23That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thy enemies; the tongue of thy dogs be red with the same.
24They have seen thy goings, O God, the goings of my God: of my king who is in his sanctuary.
25Princes went before joined with singers, in the midst of young damsels playing on timbrels.
26In the churches bless ye God the Lord, from the fountains of Israel.
27There is Benjamin a youth, in ecstasy of mind. The princes of Juda are their leaders: the princes of Zabulon, the princes of Nephthali.
28Command thy strength, O God: confirm, O God, what thou hast wrought in us.
29From thy temple in Jerusalem, kings shall offer presents to thee.
30Rebuke the wild beasts of the reeds, the congregation of bulls with the kine of the people; who seek to exclude them who are tried with silver. Scatter thou the nations that delight in wars:
31ambassadors shall come out of Egypt: Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands to God.
32Sing to God, ye kingdoms of the earth: sing ye to the Lord: Sing ye to God,
33who mounteth above the heaven of heavens, to the east. Behold he will give to his voice the voice of power:
34give ye glory to God for Israel, his magnificence, and his power is in the clouds.
35God is wonderful in his saints: the God of Israel is he who will give power and strength to his people. Blessed be God.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Secret of Fatima and a New Evangelization

Cardinal Burke calls for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. From Voice of the Family:
I now return to the third part of the Secret or Message of Fatima. Without entering into a discussion regarding whether the third part of the Secret has been fully revealed, it seems clear from the most respected studies of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, that it has to do with the diabolical forces unleashed upon the world in our time and entering into the very life of the Church which lead souls away from the truth of the faith and, therefore, from the Divine Love flowing from the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus. Frère Michel de la Sainte Trinité, in his monumental study of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, writes the following regarding the third part of the Secret or what is often called the Third Secret:
In short, the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary undoubtedly refers much more to the third Secret than even the second. For the recovery of peace will be a gift from Heaven, but it is not, properly speaking, the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her victory is of another order, supernatural, and then temporal by addition. It will first be the victory of the Faith, which will put an end to the time of apostasy, and the great shortcomings of the Church’s pastors.[23]
 As horrible as are the physical chastisements associated with man’s disobedient rebellion before God, infinitely more horrible are the spiritual chastisements for they have to do with the fruit of grievous sin: eternal death. As is clear, only the Faith, which places man in the relationship of unity of heart with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the mediation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, can save man from the spiritual chastisements which rebellion against God necessarily brings upon its perpetrators and upon the whole of both society and the Church.

The teaching of the Faith in its integrity and with courage is the heart of the office of the Church’s pastors: the Roman Pontiff, the Bishops in communion with the See of Peter, and their principal co-workers, the priests. For that reason, the Third Secret is directed, with particular force, to those who exercise the pastoral office in the Church. Their failure to teach the faith, in fidelity to the Church’s constant teaching and practice, whether through a superficial, confused or even worldly approach, and their silence endangers mortally, in the deepest spiritual sense, the very souls for whom they have been consecrated to care spiritually. The poisonous fruits of the failure of the Church’s pastors is seen in a manner of worship, of teaching and of moral discipline which is not in accord with Divine Law. (Read more.)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fatima

"And a great sign appeared in the heavens, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon at her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." Apocalypse 12:1

During her final apparition at Fatima in October 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary was dressed as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, holding the brown scapular; she was obviously encouraging everyone to wear the garment of grace, just as she urged everyone to pray the rosary on a daily basis. 750 years before, Our Lady had given the scapular to St Simon Stock, telling him: "Whosoever shall die wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire."

On July 13, 1917, Our Lady at Fatima showed the three little children the Vision of Hell; it was the first part of the controversial "Secret of Fatima," and in some ways, the most terrible aspect of it, for hell is a place where anyone can go if they break God's law and do not repent. The children were so frightened by the vision that afterwards all earthly sufferings seemed like nothing. I think someone once said that Our Lord in the Gospels warns His disciples about hell "where the worm dieth not, and the flame is not extinguished" (Mark 9 :44) more often than He promises them Heaven, "for straight is the way and narrow is the gate that leads to life, and few there are that find it." (Matthew 7:14)

Along with the scapular and rosary, Our Lady asked that we perform the duties of our state in life; she knew that in future times how difficult it would become to fulfill one's most basic obligations to God and to other people, and yet the fulfillment of those duties often is the difference between heaven and hell. Yet, as the saints testify, many have been saved because they clung to some small token of devotion to Our Lady in spite of everything, and the Mother of Mercy interceded for them. As the angel at Fatima instructed the three children to pray:

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are in most need of thy mercy!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Compunction

From Vultus Christi:
Repentance is not something that we produce in ourselves. It is not an emotion that we wring out ourselves by morbid introspection. Certain discourses about “exciting” oneself to sentiments of contrition would almost suggest that it has to do with a manipulation of one’s emotions. Repentance — compunction — begins not with us, but with God. A man repents when the Word of God, “more piercing than any two edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12), strikes the heart and pierces it through, leaving a great gaping wound that becomes a port of entry for divine grace. It has always been thus.
So shall my word be, which shall go forth from my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please, and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it. (Isaias 55:11).
This speeding Word, shot like an arrow from God to man, is the very Word that in the second chapter of the book of Acts struck and pierced the hearts of those who listened to Peter:
Now when they had heard these things, they had compunction in their heart, and said to Peter, and to the rest of the apostles: What shall we do, men and brethren? (Acts 2:37)
This is the Word that struck and pierced the heart of the young Antony in Egypt in about the year 270. Saint Athanasius recounts, in his Life of Antony, that no sooner had Antony heard the liturgical proclamation of the Gospel than he went out of the church to put into practice what he had heard. The man wounded by the Word of God is compelled to cry out, even if it is with much groaning, “I cannot remain as I am. Things cannot remain as they are. Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?” (Read more.)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Novena to Our Lady of Fatima


The novena to Our Lady of Fatima begins today. Let us join in prayer in honor of the one hundredth anniversary of those extraordinary apparitions of Mary the Mother of God which began on May 13, 1917. Nothing is impossible with God.

Most holy Virgin, who hast deigned to come to Fatima, to reveal the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with a sincere love of this devotion, that meditating on the Mysteries of Our Redemption recalled therein, we may obtain the conversion of Russia. And (here name other favors you are praying for); which we ask you in this Novena, for greater glory of God, for your own honor, and for the good of souls. Amen.
For those who like to pray Scripture as part of a novena, here are some favorite passages: 
And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the ark of his testament was seen in his temple, and there were lightnings, and voices, and an earthquake, and great hail. And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars....(Apocalypse 11:19-12:1)
  But as the same Lord liveth, his angel hath been my keeper both going hence, and abiding there, and returning from thence hither: and the Lord hath not suffered me his handmaid to be defiled, but hath brought me back to you without pollution of sin, rejoicing for his victory, for my escape, and for your deliverance. Give all of you glory to him, because he is good, because his mercy endureth for ever. And they all adored the Lord, and said to her: The Lord hath blessed thee by his power, because by thee he hath brought our enemies to nought....Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth. Blessed be the Lord who made heaven and earth, who hath directed thee to the cutting off the head of the prince of our enemies. Because he hath so magnified thy name this day, that thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men who shall be mindful of the power of the Lord for ever, for that thou hast not spared thy life, by reason of the distress and tribulation of thy people, but hast prevented our ruin in the presence of our God....Blessed art thou by thy God in every tabernacle of Jacob, for in every nation which shall hear thy name, the God of Israel shall be magnified on occasion of thee....And when she was come out to him, they all blessed her with one voice, saying: Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel, thou art the honour of our people....(Judith 13:20-2, 23-25, 31,15:10 )

Monday, May 1, 2017

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.

St. Joseph the Worker

Abbot Gueranger, O.S.B. says in The Liturgical Year that devotion to St. Joseph was reserved for "these latter times." He quotes the 1645 book La gloire de Saint-Joseph by Father Jean Jacquinot, S.J.:
O thou bright sun, thou father of our days! speed thy onward course, and give us that happy day whereon are to be fulfilled the prophecies of the saints. They have said that in the latter ages of the world, the glories of Saint Joseph will be brought to light; that God will draw aside the veil, which has hitherto prevented us from seeing the wonderful sanctuary of Joseph's soul....
 Here is a quote from the encyclical Quamquam Pluries by Pope Leo XIII from Louange de sa gloire:
Thus in giving Joseph the Blessed Virgin as spouse, God appointed him to be not only her life's companion, the witness of her maidenhood, the protector of her honour, but also, by virtue of the conjugal tie, a participator in her sublime dignity. And Joseph shines among all mankind by the most august dignity, since by divine will, he was the guardian of the Son of God and reputed as His father among men. Hence it came about that the Word of God was humbly subject to Joseph, that He obeyed him, and that He rendered to him all those offices that children are bound to render to their parents. From this two-fold dignity flowed the obligation which nature lays upon the head of families, so that Joseph became the guardian, the administrator, and the legal defender of the divine house whose chief he was. And during the whole course of his life he fulfilled those charges and those duties. 
 Father Mark urges us to "go to Joseph," saying:
The month of May begins with a feast of Saint Joseph. It is significant that the commemoration of Saint Joseph both precedes and follows the heart of the whole liturgical year: the glorious Pasch of the Lord. We celebrated Saint Joseph on March 19th; he returns to us again today. 

Saint Joseph is never far from the Blessed Virgin Mary, his immaculate spouse and, yes, his best friend, the friend of his heart, the love of his life, the unfailing cause of his joy in the midst of anxieties, hardship, and sorrow. Saint Joseph participated intimately in all those sorrows of hers that announced and prefigured the mysteries of Christ's passion, death, and burial: the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the disappearance of the boy Jesus in Jerusalem. If you would empathize with the Heart of Mary, go to Joseph. (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Our Lady of Good Counsel

Thank you, Our Mother of Good Counsel, for many favors received. Fr. Mark has a beautiful meditation on this miraculous picture of the Holy Mother of God. To quote:
One who seeks counsel of the Mother of God is never disappointed and never without hope. She is the most compassionate and effective of all counselors. The liturgy takes a wonderful promise from the book of Proverbs, and places it in Our Lady's mouth: "He that shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord" (Prov 8:35).

The verse that follows is also significant: "But he that shall sin against me, shall hurt his own soul. All that hate me love death" (Prov 8:36). One who sins against Mary, hurts his own soul. One who hates Mary loves death. The place given — or not given — to the Virgin Mother of God is a fundamental criterion in the discernment of spirits. The love of Mary is a wellspring of healing and of life. Love Mary, then, and all the rest will be given you besides. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Low Sunday

It is Divine Mercy Sunday. Father Mark says it better than I ever could. To quote:
The Church is a community of wounded persons who have contemplated the glorious wounds of the Risen Christ. Our wounds are the means by which the mercy of the Risen Christ penetrates into the secret places of the soul. Those who have no wounds, or those who pretend to have none, shut out the healing mercy of Christ. A certain kind of virtue — self-sufficient and hard — renders one impenetrable to the balm of Divine Mercy. Those who know themselves to be wounded and who expose their wounds to the radiance of Christ’s glorious wounds, experience the power of his resurrection. These alone are sent forth by Christ to carry on his work of healing mercy in the world. (Read entire post.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Novena to Our Lady of Good Counsel


The feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel is April 26. Let us pray for the Holy Father.


Holy Virgin, moved by the painful uncertainty we experience in seeking and acquiring the true and the good, we cast ourselves at thy feet and invoke thee under the sweet title of  Mother of Good Counsel.  We beseech thee: come to our aid at this moment in our worldly sojourn when the twin darknesses of error and of evil that plots our ruin by leading minds and hearts astray.

Seat of Wisdom and Star of the Sea, enlighten the victims of doubt and of error so that they may not be seduced by evil masquerading as good; strengthen them against the hostile and corrupting forces of passion and of sin.

Mother of Good Counsel, obtain for us from thy Divine Son the love of virtue and the strength to choose, in doubtful and difficult situations, the course agreeable to our salvation. Supported by thy hand we shall thus journey without harm along the paths taught us by the word and example of Jesus our Savior, following the Sun of Truth and Justice in freedom and safety across the battlefield of life under the guidance of thy maternal Star, until we come at length to the harbor of salvation to enjoy with thee unalloyed and everlasting peace. Amen.
(By Pope Pius XII, 23 January 1953)

Litany of Our Lady of Good Counsel
 
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Beloved Daughter of the Eternal Father, pray for us.
August Mother of God the Son, pray for us.
Blessed Spouse of God the Holy Ghost, pray for us.
Living temple of the Holy Trinity, pray for us.
Queen of Heaven and earth, pray for us.
Seat of Divine Wisdom, pray for us.
Depositary of the secrets of the Most High, pray for us.
Virgin most prudent, pray for us.
In our doubts and difficulties, pray for us.
In our tribulations and anguish, pray for us.
In our discouragements, pray for us.
In perils and temptations, pray for us.
In all our undertakings, pray for us.
In all our needs, pray for us.
At the hour of death, pray for us.
By thine Immaculate Conception, pray for us.
By thy happy nativity, pray for us.
By thine admirable presentation, pray for us.
By thy glorious Annunciation, pray for us.
By thy charitable Visitation, pray for us.
By thy Divine Maternity, pray for us.
By thy holy Purification, pray for us.
By the sorrows and anguish of thy maternal heart, pray for us.
By thy precious death, pray for us.
By thy triumphant Assumption, pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
R. And obtain for us the gift of good counsel.

Let Us Pray.
V. Lord Jesus, Author and Dispenser of all good, Who in becoming incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin hast communicated to her lights above those of all the Heavenly intelligences, grant that in honoring her under the title of Our Lady of Good Counsel, we may merit always to receive from her goodness counsels of wisdom and salvation, which will conduct us to the port of a blessed eternity.
R. Amen.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Christ is Risen! Alleluia, Alleluia!


I like the idea that beauty and holiness are the apologia for Christianity. The beauty of Christianity needs to shine out more; this is where the celebration of the liturgy becomes central. And the goodness of Christianity, i.e. the holiness of self-giving love (the witness of charity) and of prayer, needs to be sustained and developed. And this too, certainly: that the one thing Christianity has to offer is Easter. Simply: Christ is risen!Dom Hugh Gilbert (from A Conservative Blog for Peace)
The Regina caeli is said in place of the Angelus during Eastertide.
Queen of Heaven
V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Regina caeli
V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.



Saturday, April 15, 2017

Holy Saturday

From Fish Eaters:
It was to the Limbo of the Fathers that Christ descended, a place of the dead that was emptied through His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension, and no longer exists. By this "Harrowing of Hell," as His Descent is sometimes called, the doors to Heaven were swung open so that those who die in a state of grace may enter in, alleluia! Adam, Eve, Noe, Abraham, Moses, the good thief on the cross -- all the righteous were illuminated by the Presence of Christ in the place of death, making Sheol itself a paradise. They remained there with Him until His Bodily Resurrection when the the "bars of Hell" were broken down and they were later able to enter into Heaven itself with His glorious Ascension.

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began....He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him -- He who is both their God and the son of Eve.. "I am your God, who for your sake have become your son....I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead." [Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C; LH, Holy Saturday, OR]
Because of this great silence, today there will be no Mass (until the Vigil Mass tonight, which technically is Easter); instead, there is a solemn service. Today is traditionally a day of abstinence in addition to being a day of fasting, until the Vigil Mass, when the Lenten Fast ends. Though this fasting requirement was abolished in the new Code of Canon Law, traditional Catholics follow the traditional practice. In some churches today, priests will bless Easter baskets containing the foods eaten tomorrow (in other places, the baskets will be blessed after the liturgy tomorrow). Baskets bearing Easter bread, Easter eggs, meats, butter, horseradish, and salt are brought to church, blessed, and taken home to await the great feast tomorrow.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday


Fr. Mark quotes the Desert Fathers: 
Abba Joseph related that Abba Isaac said, 'I was sitting with Abba Poemen one day and I saw him in ecstasy and I was on terms of great freedom of speech with him, I prostrated myself before him and begged him, saying, 'Tell me where you were." He was forced to answer and he said, "My thought was with Saint Mary, the Mother of God, as she wept by the cross of the Saviour. I wish I could always weep like that."
The Divine Mercy novena begins today. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

"My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!...I gave you a royal scepter, but you gave me a crown of thorns." ~from the Improperia.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Holy Thursday


Let us prepare for the Last Supper with Our Lord. Dom Gueranger writes of the Mass of the Lord's Supper in The Liturgical Year, Vol. VI:
The Mass of Maundy Thursday is one of the most solemn of the year; and although the feast of Corpus Christi is the day for solemnly honouring the mystery of the holy Eucharist, still, the Church would have the anniversary of the last Supper to be celebrated with all possible splendour. The colour of the vestments is white, as it is for Christmas day and Easter Sunday; the decorations of the altar and sanctuary all bespeak joy, and yet, there are several ceremonies during this Mass; which show that the holy bride of Christ has not forgotten the Passion of her Jesus, and that this joy is but transient. The priest entones the angelic hymn, Glory be to God in the highest! and the bells ring forth a joyous peal, which continues during the whole of the heavenly canticle: but from that moment they remain silent, and their long silence produces, in every heart, a sentiment of holy mournfulness. But why does the Church deprive us, for so many hours of the grand melody of these sweet bells, whose voices cheer us during the rest of the year? It is to show us that this world lost all its melody and joy when its Saviour suffered and was crucified. Moreover, she would hereby remind us, how the apostles (who were the heralds of Christ, and are figured by the bells, whose ringing summons the faithful to the house of God), fled from their divine Master and left Him a prey to His enemies.
Fr. Mark explains the mystery of the Sacred Triduum, saying:
The annual celebration of "the most sacred Triduum of the crucified, buried and risen Lord" is the liturgical, theological and spiritual center of the Church's life and "the culmination of the entire liturgical year." The Paschal Triduum begins with the Vesperal Mass of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday, continues through the Friday of the Lord's Passion, reaches its summit in the Solemn Paschal Vigil, and comes to a close with Sunday Vespers of the Lord's Resurrection.

Gregorian Chant
As an integral element of the Sacred Triduum, Gregorian Chant takes its place in the complexus of sacred signs by which the Paschal Mystery is rendered present to the Church, and the Church drawn into the Paschal Mystery. The chant of the Church is thus essentially related to the Paschal Mystery and to the new life which it imparts. The transcendent value of liturgical chant, especially during the annual celebration of the Paschal Triduum, is properly theological and spiritual. The chants of the Paschal Triduum constitute therefore a point of reconciliation and unity "between theology and liturgy, liturgy and spirituality." What Father Alexander Schmemann wrote concerning the Paschal Triduum of the Byzantine liturgy and its hymnography is also true, mutatis mutandis, of the liturgy of the Roman Rite and of its proper chants:
The liturgy of the Paschal Triduum -- Holy Friday, Great and Holy Saturday and Sunday -- reveals more about the "doctrines" of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Death and Resurrection than all the other "loci theologici" together; and, let me stress it, not merely in the texts, in the magnificent Byzantine hymnography, but precisely by the very "experience" -- ineffable yet illuminating -- given during these days in their inner interdependence, in their nature; indeed as epiphany and revelation. Truly if the word mystery can still have any meaning today, be experienced and not merely "explained," it is here, in this unique celebration which reveals and communicates before it "explains"; which makes us witnesses and participants of one all-embracing Event from which stems everything else: understanding and power, knowledge and joy, contemplation and communion.
The Whole Person in the Whole Church
Participation in the sacred liturgy makes "witnesses and participants" of those who thus experience the Paschal Mystery as something revealed and communicated, men and women capable of saying, "We have seen the Lord" (Jn 20:24). Paradoxically, while each worshiper must enter personally into the Paschal Mystery, making a personal profession of faith at Baptism, and uttering a personal Amen to the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, the effect of such a personal engagement is participation in the Body of Christ and the unity of the Holy Spirit. The saving mystery of Christ's death and Resurrection embraces and sanctifies the integral human person within the communion of the Church. The symbolic language of the liturgy therefore engages the human person bodily, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. (Read entire post.)


"And there appeared to Him an angel from Heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony, he prayed the longer." Luke 22:43

Monday, April 10, 2017

Into the Harbor of the Sacred Passion

From Vultus Christi:
Most of us are repulsed by the Cross. We live in fear of suffering. We are willing to contemplate the Cross from a distance, willing to place it on our walls or to wear it on a chain over our hearts. It is quite another thing to be lifted up in its arms, to surrender to its embrace and to remain there naked, exposed and vulnerable. And yet, the saints are unanimous in testifying that for those who surrender to the embrace of the Cross and remain there, it becomes the Tree of Life, the Marriage Bed, and the Altar of Sacrifice.

My Yoke is Sweet
An ancient liturgical text describes the beginning of Holy Week as a ship coming into harbour. The Cross of Christ is our haven and our rest. Our Lord speaks to us and says: “Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-29).

The Will of the Father is Always Love
The sweet yoke of Jesus is fashioned from the wood of the Cross. Those whom He draws to Himself find rest with Him in the arms of the Cross. When we struggle and strain against the Cross, we condemn ourselves to a long and restless agony, saying with Job: “My heart is in turmoil and is never still” (Job 30:27). When we surrender to the embrace of the Cross, we rest with Jesus in the will of the Father. We discover that the will of the Father is always love, and so begin to pray: “Father, not my will, but Thine, be done” (Lk 22:42).

Tree of Life, Marriage Bed, and Altar
The Cross is the “tree that is planted beside flowing waters, that yields its fruit in due season and whose leaves never fade” (Psalm 1:3). Incandescent with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Cross is the bush that Moses saw “burning and yet not consumed” (Exodus 3:2). The Cross is the marriage bed upon which Christ the Bridegroom and His Bride, the Church consummate their love. The Cross is the altar from which ascends a fragrant sacrifice: the immolation of the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.

The Mass
How do we pass over from struggle to rest, from the tempest to the harbour? How do we pass over from the barren desert to the Tree of Life, from isolation to communion? How do we pass over from the threshold to the altar, and from the altar to God? By the Cross. Holy Week is the time of our great passover: from darkness to light, from sadness to joy, from time to eternity, from death to life. If you would leave behind the rot of your sins, and the darkness of untruth, and the horror of all that attacks innocence and outrages the Face of Love, then let yourself be drawn to the Cross. To each of us, and in every Mass, Our Lord offers the healing wood of the Cross. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the place, and the means, and the price of our Passover; the Mass is the Church held in the embrace of the Cross. (Read more.)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday


After this, I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb. Apocalypse 7:9-10
It is the triumphant entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem as He comes there to die. Let us grasp the palms which celebrate His martyrdom and our own. I have always loved Palm Sunday, since I was a small child. There is a sense during this week of weeks of being transported beyond time and space into the Jerusalem of old. All Christians become citizens of Jerusalem during Holy Week as we watch the greatest drama in the history of the world unfold. The Passion of Our Savior is the source and center of all tragedy, of all poetry, of all great art, of all the love, hope, and tears that ever were and that ever will be. We are confronted with our own weakness and sin as we see ourselves not only as helpless but as guilty. It is only in immersing ourselves in the bitter suffering and abandonment of Our Lord Jesus Christ that the chaos, turmoil and useless agony of life and the world make any sense at all.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Passiontide

Source
Today we veil the statues and pictures of our home altar with purple cloth, in observance of Passiontide. Although the Fifth Sunday of Lent is not designated as "Passion Sunday" on the new calendar, it is still permissible to cover the statues and sacred images during this week and the next. It really helps to create a spirit of mourning in honor of the sufferings of Our Lord. The Church offers a treasury of beautiful hymns which draw the soul into the mystery of Christ's passion and death.

As Abbot Gueranger writes in The Liturgical Year, Vol VI:
Let us hope that, by God's mercy, the holy time we are now entering upon will work such a happy change in us, that, on the day of judgment, we may confidently fix our eyes on Him we are now about to contemplate crucified in the hands of sinners. The death of Jesus puts the whole of nature in commotion; the midday sun is darkened, the earth is shaken to its very foundations, the rocks are split; may it be that our hearts, too, be moved and pass from indifference to fear, from fear to hope, and, at length from hope to love; so that having gone down with our Crucified to the very depths of sorrow, we may deserve to rise with Him unto light and joy, beaming with the brightness of His Resurrection, and having within ourselves the pledge of new life, which shall then die no more.
During Passiontide, it is good to reflect upon the nature of envy and jealousy, for it is envy and jealousy which killed Jesus.
Envy disrupts social life generally. It sets the child against the father, brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, and nation against nation. It kills friendship, undermines business relationships, and hinders reconciliation. It is one of the chief sources of misunderstanding, criticism, hatred, vengeance, calumny, detraction, and perverse attacks upon private life.

Envy and greed, the source of the world's unrest and wars, are sins against charity, because they make us seek what belongs to others. Often, even at the cost of harm to our neighbor, we want what does not belong to us....The envious person becomes distrustful, unjust, suspicious. Envy makes its victims ill-tempered, sad, and unapproachable....

Jealousy implies the fear of being displaced by a rival, or of being deprived of that which is rightfully ours or of that which we think ought to be ours. Jealousy is anther form of envy. Jealousy has to do with our own possessions, whereas envy has to do with the possessions of others. We resent an intrusion upon that which belongs to us, and we are prone to become vengeful at this disregard of our rights and claims.

Jealousy goes a step further than envy; it not only tries to lessen the good opinion others enjoy and criticizes those who are praised and rewarded, but is characterized by an excessive love of our own personal good and brings on a fear that we will be deprived of it. Jealousy prefers to see good left undone rather than lose a single degree of praise.
(Excerpt from The Hidden Power of Kindness by Father Lawrence Lovasik, Sophia Institute Press, 1999, pp.62-63)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Laetare Sunday

Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae. (Psalm) Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus. Gloria Patri.
Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. (Psalm) I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord. Glory be to the Father.
It is Laetare Sunday. As Fr. Mark explains so well:
Jerusalem is, according to the psalmist, “the dwelling of all joy” (cf. Ps 86:7). In Rome, where the Lenten liturgy is celebrated in ancient stational churches, the Mass of Laetare Sunday is set in the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. In that context, the great cry, “Jerusalem!” has a special resonance. You may ask why this basilica came to be called “in Jerusalem” when, in fact, it stands in Rome. In antiquity, it was called simply, “Jerusalem.” To go to the Basilica of the Holy Cross was to go “up to Jerusalem.” When, in the year 326, Saint Helena returned from the Holy Land, laden with relics, she had with her the most astonishing treasure: she had filled the entire hold of a ship with earth excavated from the holy places in Jerusalem. She had this sacred earth from Jerusalem deposited beneath the Sessorian palace that, enriched with relics of Our Lord’s blessed Cross and Passion, was to become her own church. Saint Helena’s church became “Jerusalem come to Rome.” Today’s stational celebration is a way of going “up to Jerusalem” without leaving Rome and, in a very real sense, a going up to the joys of heaven, a foretaste of the joy that lies beyond the gates of heaven thrown open by Christ the Prince of Life. The psalm that accompanies the entrance antiphon sings just that: “O my joy when they said to me: Let us go up to the house of the Lord” (Psalm 121:1). To go up to Jerusalem is to go up to the highest joy. The psalmist prizes Jerusalem “above all his joys” (cf. Psalm 136:6).(Read more.)
Here is a meditation from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger, O.S.B.:
This Sunday, called, from the first word of the Introit, Lætare Sunday, is one of the most solemn of the year. The Church interrupts her lenten mournfulness; the chants of the Mass speak of nothing but joy and consolation; the organ, which has been silent during the preceding three Sundays, now gives forth its melodious voice; the deacon resumes his dalmatic, and the subdeacon his tunic; and instead of purple, rose-coloured vestments are allowed to be used. These same rites were practised in Advent, on the third Sunday, called Gaudete. The Church's motive for introducing this expression of joy into today's liturgy is to encourage her children to persevere fervently to the end of this holy season. The real mid-Lent was last Thursday, as we have already observed; but the Church, fearing lest the joy might lead to some infringement on the spirit of penance, has deferred her own notice of it to this Sunday, when she not only permits, but even bids, her children to rejoice!...
The blessing of the golden rose is one of the ceremonies peculiar to the fourth Sunday of Lent, which is called on this account Rose Sunday. The thoughts suggested by this flower harmonize with the sentiments wherewith the Church would now inspire her children. The joyous time of Easter is soon to give them a spiritual spring, of which that of nature is but a feeble image.
 Hence, we cannot be surprised that the institution of this ceremony is of a very ancient date. We find it observed under the pontificate of St. Leo IX (eleventh century); and we have a sermon on the golden rose preached by the glorious Pope Innocent III, on this Sunday, and in the basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem. In the middle ages, when the Pope resided in the Lateran palace, having first blessed the rose, he went on horseback to the church of the Station. He wore the mitre, was accompanied by all the Cardinals, and held the blessed flower in his hand. Having reached the basilica, he made a discourse on the mysteries symbolized by the beauty, the colour, and the fragrance of the rose. Mass was then celebrated.
After the Mass, the Pope returned to the Lateran palace. Surrounded by the sacred college, he rode across the immense plain which separates the two basilicas, with the mystic flower still in his hand. We may imagine the joy of the people as they gazed upon the holy symbol. When the procession had reached the palace gates, if there were a prince present, it was his privilege to hold the stirrup, and assist the Pontiff to dismount; for which filial courtesy he received the rose, which had received so much honour and caused such joy. ~ Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year, Vol. V
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