Saturday, March 25, 2017

Lady Day

 From A Clerk of Oxford:
Today is the feast of the Annunciation, 'Lady Day'. As I explored last year, the medieval church considered 25 March to be the single most important date in history, at once the beginning and the end of Christ's life on earth: it was the date of the Annunciation, the Crucifixion, the eighth day of Creation, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the sacrifice of Isaac, all profoundly meaningful events in the carefully-crafted divine story of salvation history. Its resonances reached even unto Middle Earth, as Tolkien aligned the downfall of the Ring to this most auspicious of dates. (Read more.)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Glory of St. Joseph

Here is a beautiful meditation given by Prof. Plinio CorrĂȘa de Oliveira:
Saint Joseph—prince of the House of David, prince of a royal family that, although dethroned and decadent, was at its apogee because from it was born the Hope of the Nations—knocks at the door and is rejected! But in this rejection is his first glory....He took the first step of his martyrdom: he led Our Lady to a cave suitable only for animals, where the Child Jesus was born.

To this glory—which was certainly a negative one—were added many others: the glory of being considered a person of no consequence although all public honors were due him; the glory of taking upon himself all the humiliation, all the ignominy and all the weight of the opprobrium that was to fall upon Our Lord. From the very beginning, he had the special bliss of being refused for his love of justice and his grandeur of soul. (Read more.)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Visions of St. Patrick

Saint Patrick had many visions during his life. He once spent forty days and forty nights in deep prayer on a mountain, in imitation of Moses. According to New Advent:
His only shelter from the fury of the elements, the wind and rain, the hail and snow, was a cave, or recess, in the solid rock; and the flagstone on which he rested his weary limbs at night is still pointed out. The whole purpose of his prayer was to obtain special blessings and mercy for the Irish race, whom he evangelized. The demons that made Ireland their battlefield mustered all their strength to tempt the saint and disturb him in his solitude, and turn him away, if possible, from his pious purpose. They gathered around the hill in the form of vast flocks of hideous birds of prey. So dense were their ranks that they seemed to cover the whole mountain, like a cloud, and they so filled the air that Patrick could see neither sky nor earth nor ocean. St. Patrick besought God to scatter the demons, but for a time it would seem as if his prayers and tears were in vain. At length he rang his sweet-sounding bell, symbol of his preaching of the Divine truths. Its sound was heard all over the valleys and hills of Erin, everywhere bringing peace and joy. The flocks of demons began to scatter, He flung his bell among them; they took to precipitate flight, and cast themselves into the ocean. So complete was the saint's victory over them that, as the ancient narrative adds, "for seven years no evil thing was to be found in Ireland." The saint, however, would not, as yet, descend from the mountain. He had vanquished the demons, but he would now wrestle with God Himself, like Jacob of old, to secure the spiritual interests of his people. The angel had announced to him that, to reward his fidelity in prayer and penance, as many of his people would be gathered into heaven as would cover the land and sea as far as his vision could reach. Far more ample, however, were the aspirations of the saint, and he resolved to persevere in fasting and prayer until the fullest measure of his petition was granted. Again and again the angel came to comfort him, announcing new concessions; but all these would not suffice. He would not relinquish his post on the mountain, or relax his penance, until all were granted. At length the message came that his prayers were heard:
  • many souls would be free from the pains of purgatory through his intercession;
  • whoever in the spirit of penance would recite his hymn before death would attain the heavenly reward;
  • barbarian hordes would never obtain sway in his Church;
  • seven years before the Judgment Day, the sea would spread over Ireland to save its people from the temptations and terrors of the Antichrist; and
  • greatest blessing of all, Patrick himself should be deputed to judge the whole Irish race on the last day.
Such were the extraordinary favors which St. Patrick, with his wrestling with the Most High, his unceasing prayers, his unconquerable love of heavenly things, and his unremitting penitential deeds, obtained for the people whom he evangelized.
Saint Patrick, although he did not die for the faith, came very close to red martyrdom.
He tells us in his "Confessio" that no fewer than twelve times he and his companions were seized and carried off as captives, and on one occasion in particular he was loaded with chains, and his death was decreed. But from all these trials and sufferings he was liberated by a benign Providence. It is on account of the many hardships which he endured for the Faith that, in some of the ancient Martyrologies, he is honoured as a martyr.
The reward of his sufferings was an extraordinary vision that was granted him before he died.
He saw the whole of Ireland lit up with the brightest rays of Divine Faith. This continued for centuries, and then clouds gathered around the devoted island, and, little by little, the religious glory faded away, until, in the course of centuries, it was only in the remotest valleys that some glimmer of its light remained. St. Patrick prayed that the light would never be extinguished, and, as he prayed, the angel came to him and said: "Fear not: your apostolate shall never cease." As he thus prayed, the glimmering light grew in brightness, and ceased not until once more all the hills and valleys of Ireland were lit up in their pristine splendour, and then the angel announced to St. Patrick: "Such shall be the abiding splendour of Divine truth in Ireland."
Many in Ireland said, after Saint Patrick passed from this world, that the night was no longer as dark as it had been before.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Faith

Here is a meditation on the Eucharist by a Carmelite tertiary who shall be known on this blog as Mi Amigo
If God, by His Word, who incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth, created the world, if He breathed into each of us His life, why cannot God submit Himself in all His fullness into bread and wine so that we may eat with Him in communion? If He chooses this manner of giving Himself to us, this simple and humble form of communion that, in our “advanced” modern age, really makes more sense than any other way, if He chooses this manner to feed us while at the same time forming us by His sustenance into a temple in which He desires to dwell, we who so earnestly desire His presence, what is there to doubt? 

Our being, and its development during the short period of our lives, alone, is a miracle in itself. We take in food to give our bodies sustenance, as He determined from the beginning of ages; how simply, magnificently meaningful, that He has determined to build and sustain each of us as His temple to receive His presence by giving Himself to us as food?

Giving Himself to us in consecrated bread and wine is Wisdom: the Wisdom spoken of and anticipated by Moses, Noah, David, Solomon, Daniel, Ben Sirach, Elijah who was fed by the raven, and Isaiah, among others, and possibly most notably, the Wisdom that Melchisedec celebrated with Abraham. This Wisdom calls us to step out onto the water and keep our gaze fixed on His, knowing and trusting in His power, His fidelity, His interest in our individual and communal fulfillment, trusting that this world, after all, is His, to step out of our comfort zones walled in by insubstantial pride, to follow after Him with trust and love, without shame or fear, and to experience, live and share, the continuing miracle, the gift, the freedom, of His being, His life, the answer to the human inquiry, "what is love?"

This is the day the Lord has made; this is the way He has chosen to give Himself to us, Himself being the Way. Faith.

In a world in which we take pride in our technological advancement, cell phones, internet, medicine, political correctness, and a short period of relative self-dependence that ends in the earth from which it emerged, God gives Himself to us in the simple elements of bread and wine, a Stone upon which the proud trip and stumble.

"If deliberately cultivated, doubt can lead to spiritual blindness." CCC 2088

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