Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

It is the feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
In dangers, in hardships, in every doubt,
think of Mary, call out to Mary.
Keep her in your mouth, keep her in your heart.
Follow the example of her life
and you will obtain the favour of her prayer.

~St. Bernard

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Carmel and St. John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist has long been a favored saint among Carmelites not only because of his kinship to Jesus and Mary, but because of his connection with the Prophet Elias as well. As one history of the Carmelite Order says:
The date of the foundation of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel has been under discussion from the fourteenth century to the present day, the order claiming for its founders the prophets Elias and Eliseus, whereas modern historians, beginning with Baronius, deny its existence previous to the second half of the twelfth century. As early as the times of the Prophet Samuel there existed in the Holy Land a body of men called Sons of the Prophets, who in many respects resembled religious institutes of later times. They led a kind of community life, and, though not belonging to the Tribe of Levi, dedicated themselves to the service of God; above all they owed obedience to certain superiors, the most famous of whom were Elias and his successor Eliseus, both connected with Carmel, the former by his encounter with the prophets of Baal, the latter by prolonged residence on the holy mountain. With the downfall of the Kingdom of Israel the Sons of the Prophets disappear from history. In the third or fourth century of the Christian Era Carmel was a place of pilgrimage, as is proved by numerous Greek inscriptions on the walls of the School of the Prophets: "Remember Julianus, remember Germanicus", etc. Several of the Fathers, notably John Chrystostom, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, and Jerome, represent Elias and Eliseus as the models of religious perfection and the patrons of hermits and monks. These undeniable facts have opened the way to certain conjectures. As St. John the Baptist spent nearly the whole of his life in the desert, where he gathered around him a number of disciples, and as Christ said he was endowed with the spirit and virtue of Elias, some authors think that he revived the institute of the Sons of the Prophets. (Read more.)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Midsummer's Eve

It is St. John's Eve. Tomorrow is the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, born without the stain of original sin. It was a tradition in the days of Christendom to have a bonfire in honor of the saint who was a "burning and shining light." (John 5:35) In some places, they still do; my father always had a bonfire in honor of the Birthday of the Baptist. In the Middle Ages, there were St. John carols (carols were not just for Christmas), dancing, and everyone would burn rubbish and old bones as a sign of the end of the old covenant. Houses would be decorated with St. John's Wort, and young girls would sleep with wildflowers under their pillows in the hope that they would dream of their future spouse. Fish Eaters, which has the details about the festivity, also discusses how the Vespers hymn for St. John's Day is the origin for "Do, Re, Mi:"
Another interesting thing about the Feast of St. John: the Breviary's hymn for this day, Ut queant laxis -- the hymn sung or recited during the blessing of the bonfire -- is the source of our names of musical notes -- Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do. The hymn, attributed to Paulus Diaconus (Paul the Deacon, ca. A.D. 720-799), was noted by a monk to rise one note in the diatonic C-Scale with each verse. The syllables sung at each rise in pitch give us the names of our notes (the "Ut" was later changed to "Do" for easier pronunciation):
Ut queant laxis
Re
sonare fibris
Mi
ra gestorum
Fa
muli tuorum,
So
lve polluti
La
bii reatum,
Sanc
Te Ioannes.

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus


"I have come to cast a fire on the earth: what will I, but that it be kindled?" (Luke 12:49)

During the first millennium of Christianity, many saints wrote with unction of the pierced side of Our Lord, from which flowed "blood and water" (John 19:34), symbolizing the sacraments of the Church. It was not until the later ages, "when the charity of many [had] grown cold" (Matthew 24:12), that Our Lord chose to reveal the hidden treasures of His Sacred Heart. The gnostic excesses of the Manicheans, the upheavals of the Protestant revolt, and the chilling exaggerations of Jansenism required as an antidote the gradual but compelling manifestations of the love and mercy of the Heart of God.

It was in the thirteenth century that mystic souls such as St. Bonaventure, St. Mechtilde, and St. Gertrude began to write explicitly about devotion to the Sacred Heart, focusing on the infinite love which pursues and surrounds us.St. Gertrude the Great relates that in one of her many visions St. John the Evangelist said to her:
To these latter times was reserved the grace of hearing the eloquent voice of the Heart of Jesus. At this voice the time-worn world will renew its youth, be roused from its lethargy, and again be inflamed with the warmth of Divine Love. ( Love, Peace and Joy by the Reverend André Prévot)
 Our Lord told St. Mechtilde:  
In this wound of love, so great that it embraces Heaven and earth, unite thy love to My Divine Love, that it may be perfect; and even as iron glowing with fire becomes, as it were, one with it, so let your love be transformed and absorbed into Mine. (Ibid.)
In the early 1600's, St John Eudes and St Francis de Sales, among others, promoted the cult of the Sacred Heart. However, it was the famous apparitions of Jesus Christ to St. Margaret Mary in the 1670's and 80's that led to the widespread, public homage of the Savior's heart. Our Lord revealed to St. Margaret Mary His desire for the establishment of a feast in honor of His Heart, to be held on the Friday after the Corpus Christi octave, as a day of reparation. He promised special graces to those who receive Holy Communion in a spirit of reparation and penitence on the First Friday of nine consecutive months.

Jesus further requested that France, the eldest daughter of the Church, be consecrated by her king to the Sacred Heart, in order to spare the kingdom from future cataclysmic events. For several reasons, the consecration was not performed until France was in the throes of a bloody and anti-Christian revolution. In 1791, the imprisoned King Louis XVI secretly made the consecration. However, it seems the formal, public consecration of France has never taken place.

In 1856, Pope Pius IX placed the feast of the Sacred Heart on the universal calendar. Meanwhile, the storm of modernism, communism, socialism, and secular humanism broke upon the Church and the world. Our Lord said to St. Margaret Mary in 1689: "It will take time, but I will reign despite Satan and his supporters." (The Sign of Her Heart by John Haffert)

While we prayerfully await the public acknowledgment of Christ the King by the nations, let us imitate the Carmelite saints in making Jesus the King of our hearts, immersing ourselves into the unfathomable mystery of His love. In the words of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus: 
If I to see Thy glory would aspire
Then I must know Thy crucible of flame

Thy burning love, Heart of my God, I claim.

Then when my soul wings upward like a dove,

Called from the earth to heaven's home of light,

May it go forth in one pure act of love,
 
Plunge to Thy Heart in one unswerving flight.
(Carmelite Proper of the Liturgy of the Hours)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Corpus Christi

Fr. Mark speaks of Our Eucharistic Savior, both Victim and the Priest:
As the paschal Victim, Christ allows himself to be handed over to death; as Priest he hands himself over to the Father in the Spirit. Here again is an icon of the “Eucharistic face of Christ.” “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. . . . This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:25).

A Eucharistic Inebriation

Standing before this Pauline icon of the “Eucharistic Face of Christ,” the Church bursts into song:
Sing forth, O Sion, sweetly sing
The praises of thy shepherd king,
In hymns and canticles divine.
. . . Then be the anthem clear and strong,
Thy fullest note, thy sweetest song,
The very music of the breast.
Today the sobriety characteristic of the Roman Rite becomes a Eucharistic inebriation. The Lauda Sion exploits all the possibilities of the seventh mode, the mode of ecstatic jubilation. Like a bird in flight, the praise of the Church soars and descends as if on the wings of the wind, to say, nearly breathless, in the end,
Behold, the bread of angels, sent
The bread for God’s true children meant,
For pilgrims in their banishment.
(Read entire post.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

St. Eliseus the Prophet

"In his life he did great wonders, and in death he wrought miracles" (Ecclus., xlviii, 15).

Today on the Carmelite calendar, it is the feast of the prophet of God St. Eliseus, also known as Elisha, the disciple of St. Elias. More HERE.

Here is a homily on the call of St. Elisha:
 God gave Elijah three tasks: he was to anoint Hazael to be king over Syria, to anoint Jehu to be king over the northern kingdom of Israel, and to appoint Elisha to be prophet in his place. In today's first reading, Elijah carries out the third task, manifesting his prompt obedience to God's word.

The appointing of Elisha looks forward to an episode in the New Testament, when Jesus calls a man to follow him. Elisha says to Elijah: "Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you". And Elijah allows him to do so. In the Gospel of Matthew, one of the disciples says to Jesus: "Lord, let me first go and bury my father". But Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead" (Matthew 8:21-22). The Gospel of Luke reads: "To another he said, 'Follow me'. But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father". But Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:59-60).

Since, children were responsible for mourning and burying their parents and other relatives (Tobit 1:16-20; 4:3; 6:15), it could seem like Jesus violates the Fourth Commandment to honor one's parents. This, however, is not the case, for two reasons. First, Jesus is calling men and women to a new family, the family of God. The new family is formed by adherence to Jesus himself, to his Law; communion with Jesus is filial communion with the Father - it is a yes to the fourth commandment on a new level. It is entry into the family of those who call God Father, of those who are united with Jesus and, "by listening to him, united with the will of the Father, thereby attaining to the heart of the obedience intended by the Torah" (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth vol. I, 115-117).

Second, Jesus is the new Moses and brings the old law to perfection. Jesus' authority to interpret the law in a new way rests on his divine sonship. He has divine authority and transfers the ten commandments into the context of God's universal family. He brings the God of Israel to all nations. He is the "new Moses", the prophet-like-Moses that God raised up (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth vol. I, 122; Deuteronomy 18:15).
Jesus, then, can do what Elijah cannot: there is something greater than Elijah here. We also get the sense of the urgency and radicality of Jesus' call. His hour is approaching; the time of the Kingdom is here.

In today's Gospel, we see how Jesus brings the law to fulfillment. Not making false oaths is the bare minimum. Jesus, however, invites his followers to not swear an oath at all, to not place themselves unnecessarily in a position of divine judgment. In everything they say and do, Jesus' followers are to be truthful.

When Jesus calls us to follow him, he is inviting us to say with the Psalmist: "You, O Lord, are my portion and cup; you, O Lord, are my inheritance". This inheritance makes us sons and daughters of God who share in eternal life. Our souls are not abandoned to the netherworld for we will rise to life with the Son. (Read more.)

Sacred Heart Novena

Efficacious Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

I. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you." Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of...... (here name your request)
Our Father....Hail Mary....Glory Be to the Father....Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

II. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you." Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of.......(here name your request) Our Father...Hail Mary....Glory Be To the Father....Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

III. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away." Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of.....(here name your request) Our Father....Hail Mary....Glory Be to the Father...Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.

Say the Hail, Holy Queen and add: St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.


-- St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Joy of Charity

Charity flows abundantly from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Here is what Father Lovasik says about charity in The Hidden Power of Kindness (Sophia Institute Press, 1999):
Joy is the reward of charity. This intimate joy of the soul is distinguished from all other joys by its purity. The joy that is the fruit of charity is abiding. All earthly happiness exhausts itself, except the happiness of a loving heart that knows how to share the joys and sorrows of others. The joy of charity is one of the few joys that support you at the hour of death.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Trinity Sunday

Rublev's Holy Trinity icon
The Sunday after Pentecost is the feast of the Holy Trinity on which the Church gives for our meditation the most sublime mystery of our Faith. In the words of the Carmelite Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen: "In the presence of the unspeakable mystery of the Trinity, the highest praise is silence, the silence of the soul that adores, knowing that it is incapable of praising or glorifying the divine Majesty worthily." (from Divine Intimacy, p.587) The Trinity is one God in three Persons, as the Athanasian Creed states: "The Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is one: the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal....In like manner, the Father is Almighty, the Son is Almighty and the Holy Spirit is Almighty, and yet there are not three Almighties, but One Almighty." The threeness of God was revealed by Our Lord Jesus Christ during His public ministry, specifically at His baptism (Matthew 3:16-17), at His Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5) and before His Ascension (Matthew 28:19). Yet the mystery of the Trinity is alluded to in the Old Testament, even in the first chapter of Genesis, when God speaks in the plural: "Let us make man to Our image and likeness" (Gen. 1:28), and later when the prophet Isaias beholds the seraphim chanting their trisagion of praise: "Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God of Hosts!" (Isaias 6:3)

At Fatima, the angel taught the children the following invocation: "O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, my God, my God, I adore you in the Blessed Sacrament." We can encounter the Trinity in the Blessed Eucharist, in the depths of our souls, and through devotion to the Heart of Mary who is daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son, and spouse of God the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew


Today is the feast of a Carmelite saint, Blessed Anne, the secretary and confidante of the Holy Mother St. Teresa of Avila.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Days of Fire and Light

Fr. Mark has a fascinating post about how the suppression of the Octave of Pentecost in 1969 made Pope Paul VI weep. I love the octaves of the great solemnities. Certain feasts are too wonderful to be confined to one day. It takes an octave to absorb the joy and mystery which even in a lifetime we can never fully comprehend. To quote:
 The story goes that on the Monday after Pentecost in 1970 His Holiness Pope Paul VI rose early and went to his chapel for Holy Mass. Instead of the red vestments he expected, green ones were laid out for him. He asked the Master of Ceremonies, “What on earth are these for? This is the Octave of Pentecost! Where are the red vestments?” “Your Holiness,” replied the Master of Ceremonies, “this is now The Time Throughout the Year. It is green, now. The Octave of Pentecost is abolished.” “Green? That cannot be,” said the Pope, “Who did that?” “Your Holiness, you did.” And Paul VI wept.
Paul VI did not weep alone. Many wept with him. It was reported that Catherine de Hueck Doherty of Madonna House was inconsolable. Faithful the world over were speechless at the brutal removal of one of the Church Year’s most cherished moments. In some countries the hierarchy were frightfully embarrassed: the civil calendar had retained the Monday and Tuesday after Pentecost as holidays, while the Church had erased them from hers. Little by little, the voices of those seeking the restoration of the Pentecost came to be heard in high places. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pentecost

"For our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:29

The fiftieth day after the Pasch is Pentecost. In the old dispensation Pentecost commemorated the fiery theophany on Mt. Sinai when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, establishing the Law for the Chosen People. (Exodus 19, 20) For Christians, the solemnity celebrates the birth of the New Israel, the Church, on the day when the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, accompanied by tongues of flame, upon the Apostles. The frightened, ordinary men were given the fortitude and courage to preach the Gospel in unknown tongues and to endure suffering and death for the name of Jesus. (Acts 2) "The Holy Spirit appeared under the form of fire because He consumes the dross of our sins, drives the darkness of ignorance out of our souls, melts the icy coldness of our hearts, and inflames us with the love of God and love of our neighbor...." (Fr. Spirago The Catechism Explained, p.220) The Third Person of the Blessed Trinity has never ceased to be poured out upon the Church; He is the soul of the Church, guiding her throughout the ages.

The Holy Spirit comes to each of us at our baptism and later at our Confirmation, which is our own personal Pentecost. There is much discussion today of the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as the gift of tongues, of prophecy, of discernment of spirits, of visions, etc. but they are extraordinary gifts given in special circumstances to benefit the Church and souls. The "ordinary" gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to each of us through the sacraments and it is for us to use and develop them. The seven gifts are wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord; it is these gifts which will make us into saints. They increase in proportion to the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. In the words of St. John of the Cross: "For the purer and the more refined in faith is the soul, the more it has of the infused charity of God; and the more charity it has, the more it is illumined and the more gifts of the Holy Spirit are communicated to it, for charity is the cause and means whereby they are communicated to it." (Ascent of Mt. Carmel, Book II, Ch. 29)

It is through prayer, the sacraments, and good works that we nourish the precious gifts of the Holy Spirit, invoking the Divine Paraclete Himself to inflame us with the fire of perfect charity. "If we do not become saints, it is not because the Holy Spirit does not will it-- He was sent to us and comes to us for this very purpose-- but it is because we do not give full liberty to His action." ( Fr Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, p.563) The Holy Spirit will Himself remove all obstacles to His work from our souls if we ask Him with perseverance and confidence. "Thus you, O Holy Spirit, when You come down from Heaven with the fiery dart of your divine love, You do not repose in proud hearts or in arrogant spirits, but You make Your abode in souls that are humble...in their own eyes." (St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi, quoted in Divine Intimacy, p.559)

O Lux beatissima Reple cordis intima! "O Most Blessed Light, fill the inmost hearts of Thy faithful!" (The Golden Sequence, Veni Sancte Spiritus)

Friday, June 2, 2017

An Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart

I give myself and consecrate to the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ, my person and my life, my actions, pains and sufferings, so that I may be unwilling to make use of any part of my being other than to honor, love and glorify the Sacred Heart. This is my unchanging purpose, namely, to be all His, and to do all things for the love of Him, at the same time renouncing with all my heart whatever is displeasing to Him. I therefore take You, O Sacred heart, to be the only object of my love, the guardian of my life, my assurance of salvation, the remedy of my weakness and inconstancy, the atonement for all the faults of my life and my sure refuge at the hour of death.
Be then, O Heart of goodness, my justification before God the Father, and turn away from me the strokes of his righteous anger. O Heart of love, I put all my confidence in You, for I fear everything from my own wickedness and frailty, but I hope for all things from Your goodness and bounty.
Remove from me all that can displease You or resist Your holy will; let your pure love imprint Your image so deeply upon my heart, that I shall never be able to forget You or to be separated from You.
May I obtain from all Your loving kindness the grace of having my name written in Your Heart, for in You I desire to place all my happiness and glory, living and dying in bondage to You.
Amen.
By Saint Margaret Mary.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Month of the Sacred Heart

The month of June is traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Here is an excerpt from Love, Peace and Joy by the Reverend André Prévot:
The source of devotion to the Sacred Heart is love-- that is to say, the Heart of Jesus would give us this devotion as a last effort of His love, and the most perfect gift that He can bestow. It is love which desires to give itself without reserve, even to the end of time, to the ends of the earth, to the utmost limits of its affection; love which seeks to warm the world, where charity is now so cold; love which has come to bring fire on earth, and desires at the end of time to consume it entirely in its flames; love which aims more at loving than being loved, for that is the law of love.... In former days, victims had to be consumed by fire that they might rise to Heaven as an odor of sweetness; in like manner the Church must also be consumed by the fire of love, that as a pure victim immolated with Jesus she may rise to Heaven when her sacrifice is accomplished.
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