Friday, November 17, 2017

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

On November 17 the Church gives us the feast of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231) who in her twenty-four years on earth embodied virtues which in today's world have almost ceased to exist: honesty, modesty, courage, chastity, self-denial and fidelity. She was not queen of Hungary, as many people think, but a princess. Her parents were the king and queen. Being royal in those days meant that your life was not your own. Marriages between two ruling families would form an alliance between countries and keep two countries from going to war. So from her infancy, Elizabeth was a living pledge of peace, since she was promised in marriage to the heir of Thuringia.

Elizabeth was sent to Germany at the age of four to be raised in the household of her betrothed, Louis of Thuringia, as was the practice of the time. It was heartbreaking for her parents to separate from their lively, dark-haired little girl, but they commended her to God and Our Lady. Louis' family disliked her, as was often the case with foreign royal brides, but he always cherished and protected his little fiancée. Elizabeth, although far from home, was a Magyar princess, and there was an intensity in her commitment to God and her husband which was repugnant to the placid Thuringians. They were married when Elisabeth was fourteen and Louis was about seventeen; he had inherited the dukedom of Thuringia from his father by then. Thuringia is roughly where Hesse-Darmstadt is now. In the thirteenth century it was a prosperous and powerful territory, although Louis was a duke, not a king.

Elizabeth had always shown a strong inclination toward piety as well as a great love of helping the needy and downtrodden. She opened a hospital for the poor in one of her castles and ran a soup kitchen. She was passionately in love with her husband, which is one of her most appealing aspects - she was a saint but she was also very much a woman. Louis truly loved his wife and sought for a fervent priest to guide her spiritual life. Unfortunately, her later confessor, the overzealous Conrad of Marburg, was excessively harsh with Elizabeth.

As Duchess, she established the Franciscan order in Thuringia and became herself a tertiary (with St. Louis of France, she is the patroness of tertiaries.) . Louis and Elizabeth had three children.

When Elizabeth was twenty, her husband died while on crusade. She ran shrieking through the castle, as if she had lost her mind. Her brother-in-law coveted the inheritance; he evicted Elizabeth and her three small children from their home. He forbade everyone in Thuringia to give them shelter. The little family had to hide in a pig pen from the rain. Poverty, loss and persecution did not embitter Elizabeth, as it would have embittered others, especially when it involved the suffering of her small children. She accepted everything from the hand of God.

Finally, someone got word to Elizabeth's father the King of Hungary, and he prevailed upon the Holy Roman Emperor to intervene. Elizabeth's lands were restored to her but she voluntarily chose holy poverty. After securing her children's welfare, she lived in a small room in the hospital she had founded and cared for the sick and the lepers. That would be like someone going to live with AIDS patients today.

Emperor Frederick begged for Elizabeth's hand in marriage but she refused. She died at the age of twenty-four and as she passed from this world a great light filled the room. Many miraculous cures were reported at her grave site. She was buried wearing the imperial crown which she had refused in life.

Thinking of St Elizabeth can help us when ever we feel afraid of poverty, or of being alone. Her spirit of humility and the renunciation of worldly honors can be imitated by all.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

St. Margaret of Scotland

St. Margaret (1045-1092) was a royal Saxon princess. From a dethroned and exiled family, riches and power meant nothing to her, for she saw how quickly such things can pass away. Consequently, she was deeply drawn to the monastic life. However, the Scottish King Malcolm Canmore sought her hand in marriage, so attracted was he by her beauty and virtue. They were married. Malcolm was on the wild side, but he and Margaret loved each other completely, and died three days apart.

As Queen of Scots, St. Margaret bore eight children, was devoted to the poor, and helped to reform the liturgy. As one article states:

Under Queen Margaret's leadership Church councils promoted Easter communion and, much to joy of the working-class, abstinence from servile work on a Sunday. Margaret founded churches, monasteries and pilgrimage hostels and established the Royal Mausoleum at Dunfermline Abbey with monks from Canterbury. She was especially fond of Scottish saints and instigated the Queen's Ferry over the Forth so that pilgrims could more easily reach the Shrine of St. Andrew.
Mass was changed from the many dialects of Gaelic spoken throughout Scotland to the unifying Latin. By adopting Latin to celebrate the Mass she believed that all Scots could worship together in unity, along with the other Christians of Western Europe. Many people believe that in doing this, it was not only Queen Margaret's goals to unite the Scots, but also Scotland and England in an attempt to end the bloody warfare between the two countries.
In setting the agenda for the church in Scotland Queen Margaret also ensured the dominance of the Roman Church over the native Celtic Church in the north of the country.
It is interesting how St Margaret championed the practices of the Roman rite over the Celtic traditions, although I have no doubt that the Celtic liturgy and devotions were quite beautiful. St. Margaret, however, saw the importance of harmony of worship for the people of her country, especially after the upheavals of their century.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

All Carmelite Souls

On the Carmelite calendar to day is the feast of All Carmelite Souls. We pray for all those united in the Order of Carmel who have passed from this world. Here is a meditation on purgatory by Fr. Angelo, based on the writings of St. Catherine of Genoa. To quote:
Remembrance of the holy souls is self-forgetfulness. It is the cure . . . for them, and for us. Unless, God forbid, we go to hell, someday we will forget ourselves and remember the ultimate realities: God and our obligations toward one another. We can do it now or we can do it later. The souls in Purgatory would have us do it now.
They remember us. Do we remember them? This is no time to sleep. Rest will come, but until now, we have not toiled for God nearly enough.
The good men we have canonized at their funerals will not thank us for the kind and laudatory eulogies. We forget the sufferings of others so as to console our families, and ourselves and in this no one is served, not ourselves, not our families, and certainly not the souls of the departed. Oh, sweet sleep. How we crave rest, yet we will not find it unless we give it. During this November we would do well to do more than a casual visit to a cemetery or a write a check and conveniently hand it to our pastor for yearly masses, though both of these we should do. Indeed, nothing can be more efficacious than the Mass, except a Mass that is dedicated by the stipend of our own hearts.
The apostles slept through Our Lord’s agony and we sleep through the agony of the poor souls. It is so easy to do. Perhaps we could offer time with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, or more frequent communions for the grace to understand better the extremity of the situation and how the deliverance of the poor souls from their suffering will help protect us against our own peril, and how our imitation of their selfless desire for purity may save us from their present distress.
Love is not loved. But it need not be that way. Now is not the time for us to rest. (Read more.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

All Carmelite Saints

"With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts." ~3 Kings 19:10

Today the Carmelite Order commemorates the members of our Order who have ascended the mountain of perfection to their heavenly home. They sought God alone, conversing with Him in the depths of their hearts. Our Lord once said to the Holy Mother St. Teresa: "I desire that you no longer hold conversation with men, but with angels," and in many ways those words can be applied to all who follow the Carmelite way. The habits of the interior life, of recollection and mortification, must be cultivated amid our daily duties in order to create an atmosphere conducive to contemplation. In the Rule of St. Albert, the medieval hermits were told: "In silence and hope shall your strength be." (Isaias 30:15) During the theophany on Mt. Horeb, Elias the prophet experienced the Lord God, not in the earthquake, or in the fire, but in a "whistling of gentle air." (3 Kings 19:12) It is in silence and solitude that generations of Carmelites have sought to live in imitation of Elias, "meditating day and night on the law of the Lord and watching in prayer." (Rule of St. Albert)

The primary example of the saints and blessed of the Order has been Our Lady, the Queen and Beauty of Carmel, both in her hidden life at Nazareth and in her anguish at the foot of the Cross. St. Teresa enjoined her nuns to meditate on the lives of Christ's Mother, and His saints. "We need to cultivate and think upon and seek the companionship of those who, though living on earth like ourselves, have accomplished such great deeds for God." (The Interior Castle, p.172)

Speaking particularly of the hermits of old, the Holy Mother exhorts her daughters in The Way of Perfection:
Let us remember our holy fathers of the past, those hermits whose lives we aim to imitate. What sufferings they endured! What solitude, cold, hunger, and what sun and heat, without anyone to complain to but God! Do you think that they were made of steel? Well, they were as delicate as we. (The Way of Perfection, p.81)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Martinmas

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

(Artwork from The Western Confucian)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

"How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven."
~Gen. xxviii. 17

Today the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the Dedication of St John Lateran, also called the Basilica of the Savior. As the Pope's official church, it is known as the "Mother Church of the World." Every Christian is called to be a Temple of the Lord, a tabernacle for the Divine Indwelling. This feast celebrates the holiness of the house of God, of every church building consecrated to His glory, of every Christian who through baptism becomes a sanctuary of the Most High. We look beyond the scandals of this world to the Bride of Christ, coming down out of Heaven from God, to the nuptial banquet at the end of time, of which we have already partaken. For every church is a miniature heaven, and every Mass is the marriage supper of the Lamb.

The purpose of the feast is here described:
By making the dedication of the papal church a feast throughout the world, the Church intends to stress Catholic unity without detracting from the glories of lesser churches. Other churches also have feasts, and each diocese celebrates the anniversary of its cathedral's dedication. Every church consecrated with chrism and marked on its stone-work with twelve crosses has its anniversary. But today, all churches everywhere, even bare rooms in poor towns, or huts in tropical missionary lands, align themselves in prayer with the Church's church: "Grant that whosoever enters this temple to ask good things from thee may rejoice in the obtaining of all his petitions" (Collect).
While we have one great High Priest, Jesus Christ, one Sacrifice in the holy Mass, one Faith, one Baptism, still it is for our convenience that in thousands of places we have God's temple, with thousands of human priests through whom Christ acts. The underlying unity of the Catholic Church compares with Christ's seamless robe: it is a mark of true Christianity.
For more than a thousand years successive popes ruled the true Church from their home near the Lateran basilica. Now, basilica means "house of a king," and you will recall that Pilate styled Jesus "King of the Jews" in mockery. Today the Lateran basilica is home of the King of Kings, and occasions a feast of praise. But the feast's special significance is that the Vicar of Christ the King maintains this church as his cathedral. The Pope lives now on the Vatican hill, near St. Peter's church, but he keeps the tradition of St. Sylvester: "This is that holy place in which the priest prays for the offenses and sins of the people" (Breviary).
Here is a beautiful quotation from Butler's Lives for November 9:
Hence churches have been usually consecrated by solemn rites and prayers, and it is a grievous sacrilege to profane them, or do in them anything but what has an immediate relation to the divine service: the church being the house of God. Though he be everywhere, he is said to reside particularly in heaven, because he there displays his presence by his glory and gifts. In like manner he honours the church with his special presence, being there in a particular manner ready to receive our public homages, listen to our petitions, and bestow on us his choicest graces.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Saint Elisabeth of the Trinity

As the Bride of Christ, she meditated on the Divine Indwelling. (More HERE.) In her own words:
O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, would that I might be for you a spouse of your heart! I would anoint you with glory, I would love you - even unto death! Yet I sense my frailty and ask you to adorn me with yourself; identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm. me, substitute yourself in me that my life may become but a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, Redeemer and Saviour.

O Eternal Word, Word of my God, would that I might spend my life listening to you, would that I might be fully receptive to learn all from you; in all darkness, all loneliness, all weakness, may I ever keep my eyes fixed on you and abide under your great light; O my Beloved Star, fascinate me so that I may never be able to leave your radiance.
Father Mark discusses the ongoing mission of the Carmelite nun, as follows:
Before her death, Elizabeth sensed that she would be entrusted with a mission in heaven. "I think," she said, "that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls by helping them go out of themselves to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within that will allow God to communicate Himself to them and transform them into Himself."

Friday, November 3, 2017

Contemplatives and Social Media

Written for Benedictines but applicable to Carmelites. From Vultus Christi:
The computer, like the tongue, can be used to praise God and bless men. It can also be misused, even to the point of sin. The oblate seated in front of his or her computer screen must be vigilant, practicing restraint. At the click of a key, words can be disseminated over the face of the earth. Ill–considered words can cause irreparable harm, wound charity, foment division, and give scandal. Saint Benedict’s injunction that one “ought at times to refrain even from good words for the sake of silence” must be applied to the use of the internet and social media. The oblate will take care never to use wounding sarcasm or indulge in deprecating humour. (Read more.)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

All Souls

The day following All Saints is the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, All Souls Day. "It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they might be loosed from their sins." (2 Maccabees 12: 46) These words reflect the Jewish origins of the practice of praying for the dead, a practice continued by the Church. On All Souls Day, every priest has the privilege of celebrating three Masses. A full plenary indulgence can be gained for a soul of the faithful departed on November 2 and on everyday of the week that follows, by fulfilling the usual conditions. As The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.

An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin.The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.” (CCC, 1471)
The custom of gaining indulgences for the living and the dead goes back to the early Church. As explained by Fr. William Saunders:
From the earliest days of the Church, individuals have offered prayers and good works for the salvation of sinners. In those times, absolution was not granted until both confession and penance had been performed (and the penances were very lengthy in duration, even lasting months). Penitents oftentimes asked martyrs facing death for aid (to offer their sufferings for the atonement of the penitents’ sins) so that full reconciliation with the Church and re-admission to the sacraments could be obtained more speedily. When a martyr offered his sufferings to expiate the sins of a penitent, the Church recognized this charitable act and granted absolution. For example, St. Cyprian (d. 258) stated, "Those who have received certificates from the martyrs and are able to be assisted by their privileged position before God" may be absolved and "come to the Lord with the peace which the martyrs, as indicated in letters sent to us, desired to be given them" ("Letter to the Clergy," 18 (12), 1). In such cases, the penitents received an indulgence which satisfied their penance. Herein lies part of the basis for our belief. (Fr. William Saunders, The Catholic Herald, January 27, 2005)
However, it is not only on All Souls Day but on every day of the year that Holy Mother Church prays for her departed children. Every Mass is offered for both the living and the dead. According to the Council of Trent, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the chief means of bringing succor to the souls in Purgatory. The prayers and good works of the faithful can also benefit the dead.

St. Teresa of Avila had a great love for the suffering souls, a love that was willing to bear the vicissitudes of life in order to aid them. We, too, can bear the pin pricks of inconveniences, of gossip, of calumny and misunderstanding, to gain deliverance from the chastisements of the netherworld those whom we have loved, family members, and even our enemies.

Purgatory is not inevitable, but we can undergo our purgation here on earth by our patient endurance of trials. It is not the intensity of the trial itself that expiates sin; rather it is the intensity of the love for God with which the trial is accepted. Love is what matters most.

(Published in the November-December 2008 issue of Canticle Magazine.)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Solemnity of All Saints

On November 1 the Church commemorates the "cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1), both hidden and renowned, who have ascended the mountain of perfection to their heavenly home. As the nineteenth century French liturgist Dom Gueranger expressed it:
Blessed are they who are called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb! Blessed are we all, who have received in baptism the nuptial robe of holy charity, which entitles us to a seat at the heavenly banquet! Let us prepare ourselves for the unspeakable destiny reserved for us by love. To this end are directed all the labors of this life; toils, sufferings, struggles for God's sake, all adorn with priceless jewels the garment of grace, the clothing of the elect....Let us sing, then, with the psalmist: "I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord...." (Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year, Vol XV, p.58)
The Little Flower greatly relied upon the intercession of the saints. In her autobiography, St Thérèse wrote:
Remembering the prayer of Eliseus to his Father Elias when he dared to ask him for his double spirit, I presented myself before the angels and saints and I said to them: 'I am the smallest of creatures; I know my misery and feebleness, but I know also how much noble and generous hearts love to do good. I beg you then, O Blessed Inhabitants of Heaven, I beg you to adopt me as your child. To you alone will be the glory which you will make me merit, but deign to answer my prayer. It is bold, I know; however, I dare to ask you to obtain for me your twofold spirit.' (The Story of a Soul, pp.195-196)
Shortly before her death, St. Thérèse had a dream in which the Venerable Mother Anne of Jesus, one of the foundresses of the Carmelite reform in the sixteenth century, assured her that she would soon possess eternal beatitude. The saint of Lisieux was surprised because, as she penned:
I was, up until then, absolutely indifferent to Venerable Mother Anne of Jesus. I never invoked her in prayer and the thought of her never came to mind....And when I understood to what a degree she loved me, how indifferent I had been towards her, my heart was filled with love and gratitude, not only for the saint who visited me, but for all the blessed inhabitants of heaven. (The Story of a Soul, pp.191-192)
We will never know in this life how individual saints, perhaps ones we have never heard of, have interceded for us. Through prayer and the Eucharist, we can draw upon the merits of our brothers and sisters in Paradise. Such richness is ours in the Communion of Saints, for all belong to Christ.

(Published in the November-December 2008 issue of Canticle Magazine.)

Image from Vultus Christi.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween: Christian or Pagan?

Here is an excellent bit of exegesis from Mystagogy:
The story is, in fact, more complicated. By the mid-fourth century Christians in the Mediterranean world were keeping a feast in honour of all those who had been martyred under the pagan emperors; it is mentioned in the Carmina Nisibena of St Ephraim, who died in about 373, as being held on 13 May. During the fifth century divergent practices sprang up, the Syrian churches holding the festival in Easter Week, and those of the Greek world preferring the Sunday after Pentecost. That of Rome, however, preferred to keep the May date, and Pope Boniface IV formally endorsed it in the year 609. By 800 churches in England and Germany, which were in touch with each other, were celebrating a festival dedicated to all saints upon 1 November instead. The oldest text of Bede’s Martyrology, from the eighth century, does not include it, but the recensions at the end of the century do. Charlemagne’s favourite churchman Alcuin was keeping it by then, as were also his friend Arno, bishop of Salzburg, and a church in Bavaria. Pope Gregory, therefore, was endorsing and adopting a practice which had begun in northern Europe. It had not, however, started in Ireland, where the Felire of Oengus and the Martyrology of Tallaght prove that the early medieval churches celebrated the feast of All Saints upon 20 April. This makes nonsense of Frazer’s notion that the November date was chosen because of ‘Celtic’ influence: rather, both ‘Celtic’ Europe and Rome followed a Germanic idea…. (Read entire post.)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

St. Jude

The saint of desperate, hopeless and impossible cases is an old and dear friend to my family. I have lit many a votive light at his beautiful shrine. Let us pray to him for the Christians in Iraq! As one St. Jude site says:
Jude was then called to be one of Jesus 12 Apostles, and began preaching the Good News of Jesus to Jews throughout Galilee, Samaria, and Judea.

St. Jude went to Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) around 37 A.D., and became a leader of the Church of The East that St. Thomas established there.  For a fascinating account of St. Jude's influence in that region, read my article The St. Jude- Iraq Connection.

St. Jude was a true internationalist, traveling throughout Mesopotamia, Libya, Turkey, and Persia with St. Simon, preaching and converting many people to Christianity.  He was credited with helping the early creation of the Armenian church, and other places beyond the borders of the Roman Empire.

Around the year 60 A.D., St. Jude wrote a Gospel letter to recent Christian converts in Eastern churches who were under persecution.  In it, he warned them against the pseudo-teachers of the day who were spreading false ideas about the early Christian faith.   He encouraged them to persevere in the face of the harsh, difficult circumstances they were in, just as their forefathers had done before them. He exhorted them to keep their faith and to stay in the love of God as they had been taught. His inspirational support of these early believers led to him becoming the patron saint of desperate cases.

He is believed to have been martyred in Persia or Syria around 65 A.D. The axe or club that he is often shown holding in pictures symbolizes the way in which he was killed. Truly, he paid the ultimate price for his faith.  After his death his body was brought back to Rome and was placed in a crypt beneath St. Peter's Basilica, which people visit to this day

St. Jude is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand or close to his chest. This idea comes from a Biblical story in which King Abgar of Edessa (a city located in what is now southeast Turkey) asked Jesus to cure him of leprosy and sent an artist to bring him a drawing of Jesus. Impressed with Abgar's great faith, Jesus pressed his face into a cloth and gave it to St. Jude to take to Abgar. Upon seeing Jesus' image, The King was cured and he converted to Christianity along with most of the people under his rule. This cloth is believed to be the famous Shroud of Jesus which is currently on display in Turin, Italy.


St. Jude is often shown in paintings with a flame around his head.  This represents his presence at Pentecost, when he received the Holy Spirit with the other apostles.

In the Middle Ages, St. Bernard of Clairvaux (France) was a renowned devotee of St. Jude, as was St. Bridget of Sweden who, in a vision, was encouraged by Jesus to turn to St. Jude with faith and confidence. He told her that, in accordance with Jude's surname, Thaddeus (which means generous, courageous, and kind), "he will show himself to be the most willing to give you help."

Devotion to St. Jude began again in earnest in the 1800's, starting in Italy and Spain, spreading to South America, and finally to the U.S. (originally in the Chicago area) in the 1920's.  Novena prayers to St. Jude helped people, especially newly-arrived immigrants from Europe, deal with the pressures caused by the Great Depression, Second World War, and the changing workplace and family life.

Why has devotion to St. Jude continued to grow to the present day?

In spite of (or possibly because of) all the advances human society has made, human beings find themselves under incredible stress and have difficulty coping at one time or another.  Increasingly, people are finding that technology and other man-made innovations are unable to provide comfort and hope when it is truly needed, so millions of people around the world turn to St. Jude when they feel the most helpless and alone. St. Jude has proven to be a true friend and a beacon of hope to those who call on him--always willing to help and seek help no matter how desperate the need. And in today's tumultuous times, we need him more than ever.
(Read more.)
 St. Jude, pray for us!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

St. Raphael the Archangel


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

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The North American Martyrs

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

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

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

Novena to St. Jude

It's that time of the year again. It is time to go to the Apostle and Martyr St. Jude Thaddeus with petitions for his aid in some hopeless and desperate situations and for certain hopeless and desperate persons (including myself).

Novena Prayer
Saint Jude, glorious apostle, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor has caused you to be forgotten by many. But the Church honors and invokes you universally as the patron of difficult and desperate cases, of things despaired of. Pray for me who am so miserable. Make use, I implore you, of that particular privilege accorded to you to bring visible and speedy help where help was almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations and sufferings, particularly — (here make your request) — and that I may bless God with you and all the elect throughout all eternity.

I promise you, O blessed JUDE, to be ever mindful of this great favor, and I will never cease to honor you as my special and powerful patron and do all in my power to encourage devotion to you. Amen.

Saint Jude, pray for us and for all who honor you and invoke your aid.

(Say the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be to the Father, 3 times.)

Monday, October 16, 2017

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.)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

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)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Of Fatima, the King of France, and the Consecrations

In honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Dance of the Sun at Fatima on October 13, 1917, it is good to revisit a post by Fr. Richard Heilman on Roman Catholic Man:
On Sunday May 13th, 1917, the children were pasturing their flock as usual at the Cova da Iria, which was about a mile from their homes. They were playing when suddenly a bright shaft of light pierced the air. The lady spoke to them and said: “Fear not! I will not harm you.” “Where are you from?” the children asked. “I am from heaven” the beautiful lady replied, gently raising her hand towards the distant horizon. “What do you want of me?”, Lucia asked. ” I came to ask you to come here for six consecutive months, on the thirteenth day, at this same hour. I will tell you later who I am and what I want.”

It was Mary’s final appearance, on Oct. 13, 1917 (exactly 33 years, to the day, after Pope Leo XIII’s vision), that became the most famous. An estimated 70,000 people were in attendance at the site, anticipating the Virgin’s final visit and with many fully expecting that she would work a great miracle. As everyone gazed upward, and saw that a silvery disc had emerged from behind clouds, they experienced what is known [as] a ‘sun miracle.’ Not everyone reported the same thing; some present claimed they saw the sun dance around the heavens; others said the sun zoomed toward Earth in a zigzag motion that caused them to fear that it might collide with our planet (or, more likely, burn it up). Some people reported seeing brilliant colors spin out of the sun in a psychedelic, pinwheel pattern. The whole event took about 10 minutes.

With these apparitions at Fatima, God asked for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Pope in union with all of the bishops of the world. Our Lady of Fatima said that if the Consecration of Russia was done, Russia would be converted and there would be peace. However, if the Pope and the bishops did not obey the request, Our Lady said that Russia would spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church and of Holy Father, the martyrdom of the good and the annihilation of nations. I find it interesting that Our Lady appeared in Fatima with these warnings exactly 100 years before the 500th anniversary of the Protestant revolt (1517-2017).

[...]

At Rianjo, Spain in August 1931, Our Lord communicated to Sister Lucy His dissatisfaction with the Pope’s and the Catholic bishops’ failure to obey His command to consecrate Russia. He said:
Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My requests, they will follow him into misfortune. It is never too late to have recourse to Jesus and Mary.
In another text Lucy wrote that Our Lord complained to her:
They did not wish to heed My request! Like the King of France they will repent of it, and they will do it, but it will be late. Russia will have already spread its errors in the world, provoking wars and persecutions against the Church. The Holy Father will have much to suffer.
 The reference by Jesus to the King of France’’s disobedience and punishment is as follows:
On June 17, 1689 the Sacred Heart of Jesus manifested to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque His command to the King of France that the King was to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart. For 100 years to the day the Kings of France delayed, and did not obey. So on June 17, 1789 the King of France was stripped of his legislative authority by the upstart Third Estate, and four years later the soldiers of the French Revolution executed the King of France as if he were a criminal. In 1793 France sent its King, Louis XVI, to the guillotine. He and his predecessors had failed to obey Our Lord’s request that France be consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and thus misfortune had befallen both the King and his country. (Read more.)
Now it must be noted that Louis XVI, with the consent and guidance of his confessor, the Eudist priest Fr. Hebert, made a Vow to the Sacred Heart in the spring of 1791 when he and his family were under house arrest at the Tuileries Palace in Paris. To quote from the Vow:
O Jesus-Christ! divine Redeemer of all our iniquities, it is in Your Adorable Heart that I want to deposit the overflowing of my afflicted heart. I call upon the help of the tender Heart of Mary, my majestic protector and my mother, and the assistance of Saint Louis, my most famous patron and of my ancestor. O adorable Heart, by the so pure hands of my powerful intercessors, receive with kindness the wishes that confidence inspires in me and that I offer to You like the humble expression of my feelings. If, by an effect of the infinite kindness of God, I recover my freedom, my crown and my royal power, I promise solemnly:
1. To revoke as soon as possible all the laws which will be indicated to me, either by the Pope, or by a Council, or by the four Bishops chosen among most enlightened and most virtuous of my kingdom, with the purity and the integrity of the faith, the discipline and the spiritual jurisdiction of Holy Catholic, Apostolic Church, Roman, and in particular to revoke the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. (Read more.)
The King was killed before he could fulfill his Vow. There are more details in my biography of Louis's wife, Marie-Antoinette.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Burke has called for Russia to be consecrated in the manner requested by Our Lady of Fatima:
“It is evident that the consecration (of Russia) was not carried out in the manner requested by Our Lady,” said Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke in his keynote address marking the highlight and conclusion of the Fatima Centennial Summit held over the weekend.

“I do not doubt for a moment the intention of Pope St. John Paul II to carry out the consecration on March 25, 1984,” said Cardinal Burke. He noted that Sister Lucia stated that “Our Lady had accepted it.”

He continued nonetheless, “Recognizing the necessity of a total conversion from atheistic materialism and communism to Christ, the call of Our Lady of Fatima to consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart in accord with Her explicit instruction remains urgent.”

The former head of the Vatican’s highest court reissued his call, first made at the Rome Life Forum in May, for the faithful to pray and work for the consecration of Russia according to Our Lady’s specific instruction. He quoted the end of the famous secret to the children where Our Lady Herself predicted: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” With some 700 attendees, the conference was the largest Fatima centennial celebration in North America. To a standing ovation both before and after he spoke, Cardinal Burke delved deeply into the message of Our Lady of Fatima, her predictions and the consequences of failing to heed her warnings to the world. The Cardinal drew a direct line from the famous Third Secret of Fatima’s dire predictions for the massacre of priests, religious and the death of the Pope to the current crisis in 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,” he said. “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.”

Cardinal Burke, who has suffered publicly for his defense of the faith, urged the faithful, “Let us not fail to embrace whatever suffering comes from our faithful witness to Him Who is the true Treasure of our hearts.”

“Let us not give way to discouragement but rather remember that the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary assumed into glory, never ceases to beat with love for us, the children Her Divine Son gave to Her as He was dying on the cross,” he said. (Read more.)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Our Lady's Words on October 13, 1917

From TFP:
As on the other occasions, the seers first saw a bright light, and then they saw Our Lady over the holm oak.
Lúcia: What does Your Grace wish of me?
Our Lady: I wish to tell you that I want a chapel built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue to pray the Rosary everyday. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.
Lúcia: I have many things to ask you: if you would cure some sick persons, and if you would convert some sinners….1
Our Lady: Some yes, others no. They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins.
“Becoming sadder, she added, ‘Let them offend Our Lord no more, for He is already much offended.’
“Then, opening her hands, Our Lady shone the light issuing from them onto the sun, and as she rose, her own radiance continued to be cast onto the sun.”
At that moment, Lúcia cried, “Look at the sun!”
Once Our Lady had disappeared in the expanse of the firmament, three scenes followed in succession, symbolizing first the joyful mysteries of the Rosary, then the sorrowful mysteries, and, finally, the glorious mysteries. Lúcia alone saw the three scenes; Francisco and Jacinta saw only the first. (Read more.)

Dance of the Sun

October 13 marks the 100th 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 return to God throug 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.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Our Lady of the Pillar

"I dwelt in the highest places, and my throne is in a pillar of cloud." Ecclesiasticus 24:7

On this feast day, Columbus first glimpsed the New World, bringing with him a great devotion to Our Lady, as Plinthos explains:
The ship that brought Columbus was Holy Mary of the Immaculate Conception. Spanish Catholics have had a clear and unrelenting devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary for at least five hundred years.

Just thirty nine years later Our Lady herself from Guadalupe converted millions in New Spain to faith in Jesus Christ. There were countless tireless and very effective Spanish missionaries in the first century of the evangelization of America, including the Apostle of South America. It is no accident that the patroness of USA, therefore, is The Immaculate Conception. She was brought here on Columbus Day!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Mary, Tabernacle of God

In honor of the ancient feast of the Maternity of Mary. From Catholic Scot:
Which brings me to Mary and the Tabernacle of the Lord. The Tabernacle was that structure sitting at the heart of the nation of Israel where God dwelt among His people in a special manner. It first took shape as the Tent of Meeting at the time of Moses and later became the Temple of Solomon. There is no doubt that God dwelt in a special way too in Mary, the mother of the Son of God. I would suggest that the principles which underlay the construction of the first Tabernacle, made by human hands, also underlay the creation of Mary in the womb of her mother St Ann by the hand of God.

What were these principles? The details for the Tent of Meeting were laid out at some length in two passages of the Book of Exodus. Chapters 25-31 contain the plans outlined by the Lord to Moses on Mount Sinai and Chapters 35-40 describe its actual construction. Significantly the final verses of the final chapter of Exodus (40) concern themselves with God inhabiting the Tabernacle. It would take up to much space to go through every point here but there are some key aspects to highlight
  • Moses was not just told how to build the Tent but was shown its divine blueprint "Look well, and make everything in due accord with the pattern which has been shewn to thee on the mountain." (Exodus 25:40) Which means that before it existed on earth it was fully formed in God's mind i.e. it existed from eternity.
  • It was to be constructed of the best of all possible materials available, gold, silver, jewels, linen, wools and so on. " Provide thyself with spices, a stone of the best and choicest myrrh, and half a stone of cinnamon, and half a stone of scented cane, a stone, too, of cassia" (Exodus 30:23-24)
  • The most skilled craftsmen (and women) were to be employed on this work and the Lord would fill them with wisdom to complete their tasks. "And now the Lord said to Moses, Here is the name of the man I have singled out to help thee, Beseleel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Juda. I have filled him with my divine spirit, making him wise, adroit, and skilful in every kind of craftsmanship...and I have inspired the hearts of all the craftsmen with skill to carry out the commands which I have given thee." (Exodus 30:1-6)
(Read more.)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

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. The young girl holding the dagger and kneeling before Our Lady in the painting is St. Justina the Virgin-Martyr, whose feast it was the day of the 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.

Thursday, October 5, 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 the Dance of the Sun which occurred on October 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 )

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

St. Francis of Assisi


It is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, and so let us pray for Our Holy Father on his name-day. Here is an excerpt from one of his letters:
It was through his archangel, Saint Gabriel, that the Father above made known to the holy and glorious Virgin Mary that the worthy, holy and glorious Word of the Father would come from heaven and take from her womb the real flesh of our human frailty. Though he was wealthy beyond reckoning, he still willingly chose to be poor with his blessed mother. And shortly before his passion he celebrated the Passover with his disciples. Then he prayed to his Father saying: Father, if it be possible, let this cup be taken from me. 
Nevertheless, he reposed his will in the will of his Father. The Father willed that his blessed and glorious Son, whom he gave to us and who was born for us, should through his own blood offer himself as a sacrificial victim on the altar of the cross. This was to be done not for himself through whom all things were made, but for our sins. It was intended to leave us an example of how to follow in his footsteps. 
And he desires all of us to be saved through him, and to receive him with pure heart and chaste body.

Monday, October 2, 2017

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.
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