Saturday, May 26, 2018

Into the Silence of Mary and of the Host

From Vultus Christi:
The silence of Mary leads one into the silence of the Host. Of this silence of the Host I have spoke to you before. Friends and lovers speak one to the other to express what they hold in their hearts; once these things have been expressed, it is enough for them to remain united one to the other in the silence that is the more perfect expression of their love. So many souls are afraid of the silence into which Our Lord would lead them if only they would let Him. Fear is what causes souls to hide behind a barrage of words and concepts. Our Lord’s desire is to unite us directly to Himself by means of faith, hope, and especially, of love. The theological virtues do not require words. Words, in fact, can impede the pure expression of the theological virtues in a prayer that seeks to rise above them. (Read more.)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

Today is her feast.
Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm, for love is as strong as death....Many waters cannot quench charity, neither can the floods drown it: if a man should give all the substance of his house for love, he shall despise it as nothing. ~Canticle of Canticles 8: 7-8

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Our Lady, Help of Christians

The history of the feast.
This commemoration was introduced in the liturgical calendar by decree of Pope Pius VII on September 16, 1815, in thanksgiving for his happy return to Rome after a long and painful captivity in Savona and France due to Napoleon’s tyrannical power.

By order of Napoleon, Pius VII was arrested, 5 July, 1808, and detained a prisoner for three years at Savona, and then at Fontainebleau. In January, 1814, after the battle of Leipzig, he was brought back to Savona and set free, 17 March, on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, the Patroness of Savona.
The journey to Rome was a veritable triumphal march. The pontiff, attributing the victory of the Church after so much agony and distress to the Blessed Virgin, visited many of her sanctuaries on the way and crowned her images (e.g. the “Madonna del Monte” at Cesena, “della Misericordia” at Treja, “della Colonne” and “della Tempestà” at Tolentino). The people crowded the streets to catch a glimpse of the venerable pontiff who had so bravely withstood the threats of Napoleon. He entered Rome, 24 May, 1814, and was enthusiastically welcomed.  (McCaffrey, “History of the Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Cent.”, 1909, I, 52).

The invocation “Help of the Christians” is very old, having been included in the Litany of Loreto by Pope Saint Pius V in 1571, as a token of gratitude to the Most Holy Virgin, by virtue of Christendom’s’ victory in the famous battle of Lepanto. (Read entire article.)
And please pray for Ireland!!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Novena to St. Joan of Arc


Here are some prayers in honor of Saint Joan, whose feast day is May 30.
SAINT JOAN OF ARC, GIVE ME STRENGTH!
In this, my time of need, I beg thee to come to my aid.
I humbly ask thee to help me bear my trials with honor,
As I remember you in your earthly agonies.
BLESSED JOAN, DUTY BOUND TO GOD, GIVE ME COURAGE!
You who left family and friends to enter into God’s service,
Devout and valiant to uphold righteousness to the end,
While being insulted and harmed by your enemies.
HOLY JOAN, DAUGHTER OF GOD, GIVE ME FORTITUDE!
Help me to prevail in life and death over evil,
While bearing my injuries with the dignity you showed
When wounded in the breast, head, thigh, and heel.
PIOUS JOAN, HELP ME TO BE FEARLESS!
Abandoned by the king you yourself had crowned,
Captured and sold to the highest bidder,
You put your trust in the King of Heaven to deliver you.
VENERABLE JOAN, HELP ME TO BE UNWAVERING IN MY FAITH!
Beaten, bruised, questioned and accused,
You were denied that which you loved most:
Communion, confession, mass and public prayer.
HEROIC JOAN, HELP ME TO UPHOLD JUSTICE!
Imprisoned, neglected, threatened and condemned,
Sentenced to die as a heretic the most cruelest death,
To die by the fire and be raised up in heaven!
GLORIOUS VIRGIN, PLEASE INTERCEDE FOR ME.
Hear this petition and my heartfelt plea.
Pray for me in this, my time of need,
For I believe God will deny you nothing. Amen.
(Here mention you specific request.)

And this:

1) This is Joan, a most pious and simple maiden, who much feared the Lord, and of whom no one ever said an evil word.
2) The Lord raised her up, and behold the maiden was clad in the armor of God, so that she might withstand the snares of the enemy.
3) Her loins girt with verity and covered with the laurels of justice, she took up the shield and helmet of salvation.
4) And behold she raised her hand to the people and showed the nations the miracle of the Lord, so as to put the adversary to flight. Alleluia!
5) The angel guarded her; and when going and when stopping, and when returning, as well as in the midst of the fire, he never abandoned her. Alleluia!

And here is a litany:
Lord, have mercy on us!
Jesus Christ, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
Jesus Christ, hear us!
Jesus Christ, graciously hear us!
Our Heavenly Father, Who is God, have mercy on us!
Son, Savior of the world, Who is God, have mercy on us!
Holy Spirit, Who is God, have mercy on us!
Holy Trinity, Who is God, have mercy on us!
Holy Mary, virgin mother of God, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Assumption, principal patron of France, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, patron and special protector of France, pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria, virgin and martyr, pray for us.
Saint Margaret of Antioch, virgin and martyr, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, chosen by God at Domremy, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, informed [of her mission] by Saint Michael, the Archangel and his angels, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, compliant to the call of God, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, confidant [in] and submissive to her voices, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, model of family life and labor, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, faithfully devoted to Our Lady, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, who delighted in the Holy Eucharist, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, model of generosity in the service to God, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, example of faithfulness to the Divine vocation, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, model of union with God in action, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, virgin and soldier, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, model of courage and purity in the field [of battle], pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, compassionate towards all who suffer, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, the pride of Orleans, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, glory of Reims, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, liberator of the Country, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, abandoned and imprisoned at Compiegne, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, pure and patient in your prison, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, heroic and valiant before your judges, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, alone with God at the hour of torment, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, martyr of Rouen, pray for us.
Saint Joan or Arc and Saint Therese of Lisieux patronesses of France, pray for us.
All the Saints of France, intercede for us.
Lamb of God, Who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, Lord.
Lamb of God, Who take away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, Lord.
Lamb of God, Who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, Lord.
Saint Joan of Arc, pray for us, that we may become worthy of the promises of Our Savior Jesus Christ.
Let us pray.
Oh God, Who has raised up in an admirable manner, the virgin of Domremy, Saint Joan of Arc, for the defense of the faith and [our] country. By her intercession, we ask You that the Church [may] triumph against the assaults of her enemies and rejoice in lasting peace; through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
 Let us pray for our all of our soldiers who are in harm's way. Let us pray for peace.
O Joan, holy liberator of France, the powerful holy force in the days of old, as you yourself said, "Peace would be found only at the point of a lance," who used the weapons of war when no other means were able to obtain a just Peace, take care and help today those who do not want to do violence and patiently try to employ all possible peaceful means of resolution, but now allow the violence of war. Heroine of Orleans, transmit to our leaders, your talent to inspire your soldiers to accomplish great deeds of valor, in order that our soldiers’ efforts will come to a rapid and successful end. Triumphant One of Reims, prepare for us the just peace under the shield of a force that will be henceforth vigilant! Martyr of Rouen, be near to all the soldiers who fall in battle, in order to support, console, and help them and those dear ones that they leave behind. Saint of the Country, excite in all souls, in every home of the world, the zeal to contribute to the salvation of the world and the return of peace, works which you crave, the rediscovery of a more Christian life, through holy thoughts and actions, forgiveness and persistent prayer, that as you yourself once said, "God must be served first." Amen.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pentecost: Ireland 2018

A powerful exhortation to the people of Ireland. From Vultus Christi:
The Spirit of the Lord, in ages past, filled Ireland with a mighty wind, sweeping away the idols that held her people in the grip of fear, violence, and superstition; and infusing men, women, and children, rich and poor, powerful and weak, learned and ignorant with a sweet and liberating power that no one could contest or resist. The irrefutable evidence of the Holy Ghost is Ireland’s saints. Wheresoever the Holy Ghost passes, He leaves behind Him a trail of saints. Ireland, long known as the island of saints, was, in ages past, a wholly Pentecostal island, a place ablaze with the fire and light of the Holy Ghost.
The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds. They shall judge nations, and rule over people, and their Lord shall reign for ever. They that trust in him, shall understand the truth: and they that are faithful in love shall rest in him: for grace and peace is to his elect. (Wisdom 3:7–9)
The Holy Ghost, we sang in the introit, “hath knowledge of the voice”. Knowledge of what voice? The voice of whom? The psalmist tells us: “The Lord hath not forgotten the cry of the poor” (Psalm 9:13), and again, “The Lord hath heard the desire of the poor: thy ear hath heard the preparation of their heart.” (Psalm 9:38). Do not listen to those who would want you to think that the Irish have given up on the Holy Ghost or, what is worse, that the Holy Ghost has given up on Ireland. The words of Frank Duff, pronounced in 1997, are today prophetic:
Your ambition [said the great man] is colossal: to conquer with a single blow, to convert a population in a week or so. It is magnificent and fantastic at the same time. But it does become possible if you can make yourselves the outlet point of the Holy Spirit. For He can convert at a stroke, in the twinkling of an eye.
“The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world, alleluia” — this includes Ireland, Ireland today; an Ireland fascinated by glittering images of a new identity; an Ireland seduced by the lying discourses of those who call good what is evil, and evil what is good; an Ireland tempted to give ear to the deception of the age–old serpent. Today’s feast of Pentecost is a magnificent manifestation of the liturgical providence of God. It is an immense ἐπίκλησις, an invocation, a calling–down of the Holy Ghost upon Ireland. The Collect of today’s Mass, becomes, in the context of the this coming week in Ireland, a prayer that one might think crafted in view of what will face us on Friday:

O God, who on this day didst teach the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost: grant unto us, by the same Spirit, to be wise in what is right, and ever to rejoice in His consolation.
To be wise in what is right. Why should Ireland follow nations become foolish in what is wrong? Why should Ireland open her doors to the industry of death that ravages England, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, the United States, and so many other nations? An Ireland enlightened by the Holy Ghost will show the world the consolation that comes from relishing those things that are right — always and everywhere right — and from holding fast to the laws that uphold and protect such things. All of Ireland needs a new Pentecost, a great cleansing as by a mighty wind. All of Ireland needs to be set ablaze again with the fire of the Holy Ghost that blazed up long ago when Saint Patrick enkindled his fire on the Hill of Slane. Take the verse of the First Alleluia and make it today a prayer for Ireland:
Emitte Spiritum tuum, et creabuntur, et renovabis faciem terrae.
Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Send forth Thy Spirit, and they — sons and daughters quickened in the Holy Faith — shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of Ireland. There are, to be sure, naysayers and prophets of doom who declare the death of Catholicism in Ireland. The first error of such people is to assume that the Holy Faith of our Fathers is an “ism”. “Isms” come and go. They are in fashion and out of fashion. They are the subject of debate and of ideological wars. The faith of the Church is not an “ism”. It is fire and light. It cannot be stopped, or consigned to cultural museums, or contained by iniquitous laws. “The Spirit breatheth where He will; and thou hearest His voice, but thou knowest not whence He cometh, and whither He goeth”(John 3:8). (Read more.)

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, May 18, 2018

Funeral Homily for Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner

By Fr. James McCurry, OFM, Conv. May 11, 2018.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Ascension, Time and Eternity

From the Sisters of Carmel Newsletter:
In the midst of this great work of life, the work of our salvation, weariness is bound to plague us: the way seems so very long!  But we have Our Lord's own testimony that it is but "a little while." (John 16)  "Christ's return is both His real presence now in our lives and in the life of the Church and His glorious return at the end of time.  Even the second is not far off, says St. Augustine: 'It seems long because now time is still passing by; but when the wait is over we shall see how short it was.'" (St. Andrew's, Matins Lesson, 3rd Sunday after Easter)

"Time."  What is it?  And what is its worth?  In this perpetually moving and busy world of ours, where we seem to have more and more to do and less time to do it, where we are constantly on the move from one task to the next, always having to think of the next thing, and almost constantly "multi-tasking," how often is it that we think about this great treasure in our lives - and how by it God means to form and mold us?  Time shakes us each/ like a sieve/causing what is true in us/to rise towards the surface (-S. R.)

We cannot pause time, nor slow it down or speed it up, nor replay what has already passed.  We have been given only so much of it by our good God, and it is constantly passing by.  Understanding time, and its value, is perhaps done best by realizing what time is not: time is not eternity.  How often we can read in the writings and counsels of the Saints the importance of knowing the shortness of time and the length of eternity.  By reminding us of this, they mean to instruct us that our hearts, far from being attached to the passing things of earth, should rather be "fixed where true joys are." (Paschaltide liturgy)  The eminent theologian, Fr. Reginald Garrigou- Lagrange, wrote beautifully and succinctly to explain this, and it merits reading, meditation - and further re-reading and consideration.  It is counsel for a lifetime:

 Father Garrigou-Lagrange"As the present minute is passing, let us bear in mind that what exists is not merely our body with its sensibility, its varying emotions of pain and pleasure; but also our spiritual and immortal soul, and the actual grace we receive, and Christ who exerts His influence upon us, and the Blessed Trinity dwelling within us.  We shall then have some idea of the infinite riches contained in the present moment and the connection it has with the unchanging instant of eternity into which we are someday to enter.  We should not be satisfied with viewing the present moment along the horizontal line of time, as the connecting link between a vanished past and an uncertain temporal future; we ought rather to view it along that vertical line of time which links it up with the unique instant of unchanging eternity."
- Fr. Reginald Garrigou- Lagrange
(Read more.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

St. Simon Stock and the Scapular

From Louange de sa Gloire:
The Brown Scapular is a Marian devotion which originated at about the same time as the Rosary, and like the Marian shrine at Walsingham, had its origin in England. In the thirteenth century, during the time of the Crusades, Simon Stock went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where he met a group of hermits on Mount Carmel. These claimed to be the successors of Elijah and his followers, and, attracted by their way of life, Simon returned with them to England when the situation became too dangerous in Palestine because of the Saracens.
They settled at Aylesford in Kent and in 1254 Simon was elected Superior-general of the now mendicant Carmelites, who were regarded somewhat like the other mendicant orders such as the Franciscans and Dominicans.
Simon founded other houses as the order began to grow but he faced many problems as the original 'solitary' ideal of the hermits changed towards the more communal approach of the mendicants. These weren't just internal problems, as older orders also resented the arrival of these newcomers with their own particular devotion to Mary. 
Simon withdrew to his monastic room or 'cell' - probably at Cambridge by this time - to try and gain some relief from the problems faced both by himself and his Carmelite order, and in order to pray to Mary; it was then that he had his famous vision of her bringing the Brown Scapular to him with the following words, which are preserved in a fourteenth century narrative: "This will be for you and for all Carmelites the privilege, that he who dies in this will not suffer eternal fire.  
The Scapular promise is based on the two elements of Mary's spiritual maternity and her mediation of grace, that is that she is the 'spiritual' mother of all mankind, as well as the 'channel' by which all grace comes to us, understood in the sense that she too is dependent on the sole mediation of Christ, her son. 
This promise implies that Mary will intercede to ensure that the wearer of the Scapular obtains the grace of final perseverance, that is of dying in a state of grace. The modern Scapular consists of two pieces of brown rectangular cloth, roughly an inch by an inch and a half, which are usually decorated with appropriate Marian pictures, and are connected by two narrow brown cords, are worn around the neck and shoulders, hanging down to the front and back. 
The Scapular promise has come in for criticism, on somewhat similar grounds to those argued against Walsingham, that is, a lack of early supporting documentation. However it seems that the above account was found in the earliest record of St Simon Stock's life, and it is unreasonable to expect written evidence from the thirteenth century, since the Carmelite order didn't produce much literature until it had grown somewhat larger in the mid-fourteenth century.
It was about this time that the wearing of the Scapular spread to the laity, and gradually over the centuries it has gained in popularity, particularly following promotion of the 'Sabbatine Privilege' by popes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This is an idea which probably grew out of a deepened understanding of the promise originally made to St Simon, and essentially involves the idea that Mary will intervene to help those who have worn the Scapular before death and now find themselves in purgatory, particularly on a Saturday, the day traditionally dedicated to Mary. 
In order to be eligible for the Scapular promise, which is really a sign of consecration to Mary and hence to God, it is necessary for the wearer to have observed the virtue of chastity according to their state in life, whether married or single, and to have complied with the spirit of inner devotion which the wearing of the Scapular implies. 
This is a devotion which has also been continually encouraged by more recent popes, and so it is not something which has lost its power, even if it may have become unfashionable in some circles. If, as in the case of the Rosary, a whole series of popes, have, by virtue of their unique position of authority, approved the Scapular devotion, then clearly it just cannot be dismissed out of hand, at least not by Catholics who take the teaching and pastoral authority of the Church seriously. There is also an emphasis on the Scapular in the apparitions at Fatima which means it retains its relevance for today.

Sources: Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints; Carol, Mariology, Vol. 3

St. Simon Stock (1165-1265)


The son of a noble family, St. Simon Stock was born in England in 1165. At the age of twelve, he became a hermit in one of the vast forests for which England was then famous. He lived in the hollow trunk of an ancient tree, whence he derived the surname "Stock." Herbs, roots, berries, and an occasional crust of bread were his sustenance. He would leave his woodland retreat to visit different shrines of Our Lady, which in those days could be found throughout the kingdom. His devotion to Mary was so great that he would carve her holy name on the trees of the forest.

The Mother of God often appeared to St. Simon. During one apparition, she told him that the holy hermits of Mount Carmel, her special sons, would come to England and he was to join their order. Years passed by, and as prophesied, the "Brothers of Our Lady" came to Aylesford in Kent. They accepted St. Simon into their ranks. After his ordination, he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where he stayed with the hermits on Mount Carmel in silence and contemplation like Elias of old. He returned to Europe to help establish the Order in the West. In 1245, the first General Chapter of the Carmelite Order in the West was held at Aylesford. St. Simon was elected Father General of the Order.

It was a formidable task. Because of the rise of Islam in Palestine, it was of vital importance that the Order become firmly established in Europe. This meant advocating a "mixed life" of prayer and active ministry, similar to the Franciscans, rather than a purely eremetical, contemplative life. St. Simon sent the young hermits to the universities to recieve the training necessary to be preachers. His decision was strongly criticized by some of the hermits who thought their charism was being destroyed. Many prelates were trying to have the Carmelites completely suppressed. The very existence of the Order was threatened.

St. Simon composed a prayer to Our Lady which begins: "Flower of Carmel, blossoming vine, splendor of Heaven, Mother Divine, none like to thee." He begged Our Lady to grant his order a privilegium or pledge of protection in exchange for total loyalty and service, such as a king or queen would grant a knight or a vassal in feudal society. On the night of July 15-16, 1251, the Queen of Heaven appeared to St. Simon, the Infant Jesus on her arm, surrounded by a multitude of angels. She gave him a large brown scapular. A scapular was a monastic apron worn by monks during their manual labor to protect their habits. Our Lady said: "Receive, my beloved son, this habit of thy Order: this shall be to thee and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this scapular shall never suffer eternal fire." What had been an apron now became a symbol of consecration to the Virgin Mary, a sign of her constant protection.

From that night on, the fortunes of the Carmelite Order improved. They received the protection of the Pope. The brown scapular became the main part of their habit, while small scapulars were distributed among the faithful. The brown scapular has become one of the most highly indulgenced sacramentals of the Church. In the fourteenth century, after a vision of Our Lady, Pope John XXII published the"Sabbatine Bull," promising delivery from purgatory on the Saturday following one's death to all who worthily wear the brown scapular, fulfilling the prescribed conditions.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Fatima

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Fr. Peter Damian, R.I.P.

Fr. Peter on The Marian Issue in the Church, Greenwood, 2007

Fr. Peter on Hope in Difficult Times

 Fr. Peter on The Mystical City of God

 Fr. Peter on Fatima vs Communism

A saint has gone home to heaven. I learned much from Fr. Peter's conferences and homilies and thank God for sending me such a wonderful spiritual father, even for a short time.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Pentecost Novena

http://wp.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/files/2011/06/restout-pentecost-7.jpg 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ascension of the Lord

(Icon of the Ascension by Andrei Rublev)

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Novena Rose Prayer

My dear friends, please join me in making a novena to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face in honor of the anniversary of her canonization on May 17.
Novena Rose Prayer
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus, please pick for me a rose from the heavenly gardens and send it to me as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus, ask God today to grant the favors I now place with confidence in your hands...(mention petitions)
St. Therese, help me to always believe as you did, in God's great love for me, so that I might imitate your "Little Way" each day.  Amen.

(Say this prayer for nine days and St. Therese will send you a rose!)

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Apparition of St. Michael the Archangel

Here is a post about the Defender of the people of God.
"That the blessed Archangel Michael hath oftentimes been seen of men is attested on the authority of the Holy Bible, and also by the ancient traditions of the Saints.  For this reason such visions are held in remembrance in many places.  As of old time did the Synagogue of the Jews, so now doth the Church of God venerate Michael as her watcher and defender.  But during the Popedom of Gelasius I, the summit of Mount Gargano in Apulia, at whose foot lieth the town of Siponto, was the scene of an extraordinary appearance of this same Archangel Michael.
And it came to pass on this wise.  A certain man had a bull grazing with the flock upon Mount Gargano, and it strayed.  And when they had sought it for a long while they found it jammed in the mouth of a cavern.  Then one that stood there shot an arrow at it to slay it, but the arrow turned round and came back against him that had shot it.  They therefore that saw it, and all those that heard it, were sore afraid because of that which had come to pass, so that no man dared any more to draw near to the cavern.  But when they had sought counsel of the Bishop of Siponto, he answered, that it behooved to seek the interpretation from God, and proclaimed three days of fasting and prayer.
After three days the Archangel Michael gave warning to the Bishop that that place was under his protection, and that he had thus pointed out by a sign that he wished that worship should be offered to God there, with remembrance of himself and of the Angels.  Then the Bishop and the citizens made haste and came to the cavern; and when they found that the form thereof was somewhat after the fashion of a Church  they began to perform the public worship of God  therein: which sanctuary hath been glorified with many miracles.  It was not long after these things that Pope Boniface IV hallowed the Church of St. Michael on Hadrian's Mole at Rome, on the 29th day of September, on the which day the Church also holdeth in remembrance All Angels.  But this present day is hallowed in remembrance of the manifestation of the Archangel Michael."
-- From the Breviary of St Pius X (1911)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

That Your Joy May Be Full

From Vultus Christi:
On this Sunday before Ascension Thursday, we are again admitted into the Cenacle. There Our Lord is deep in conversation with His Apostles. He is opening their hearts and minds to what is and to what will come. He acts upon His own by the secret operations of His grace, and so renders them capable of receiving what He desires to give them, and of desiring what He gives. This is Our Lord’s way of acting with each of us. The man who tarries in the presence of Christ will find himself gently opened to the truth. He will be surprised by the light that shines within him and by the fire enkindled in his heart.

Origen passed on a saying attributed to Our Lord but found nowhere in the Scriptures: “The Saviour himself saith: He who is near me is near the fire; he who is far from me, is far from the kingdom” (Homil. in Jer., XX, 3). It seems to me that all through Paschaltide, in listening to the reading of the Discourse in the Cenacle, we are very near the fire. With us, it is, I think, as with the disciples who said one to the other: “Was not our heart burning within us, whilst he spoke in the way, and opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32).

What does Our Lord says to us today? He says, “The Father Himself loveth you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came out from God” (John 16:27). If ever you have looked for divine assurance, know that you find it in these words of Jesus: “The Father Himself loveth you”. Any preacher, it seems to me, would be fully justified in repeating only this, and saying nothing more. This is the word that every soul waits to hear, lives to hear. This is the word that, once heard, allows a man to live as Christ would have him live. “I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

But there is more: Jesus tells us why the Father loves us. The Father loves us because we have loved Jesus, and believed that He came forth from God. Loved and believed: charity and faith. Even these are not the effect of some human industry or the result of human seeking, willing, thinking, and knowing. Charity and faith are themselves gifts of God, and, together with hope, they are the gifts by which God renders us capable of receiving His love. (Read more.)

Fatima Triptych

A conference on Fatima by Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, FFI from October 2011. A must-listen.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Irish Litany to Our Lady

From Vultus Christi:
O GREAT MARY, pray for us.
Mary, greatest of Marys, pray for us.
Most great of women, pray for us.
Queen of the angels, pray for us.
Mistress of the heavens, pray for us.
Woman full and replete with the grace of the Holy Spirit, pray for us.
Blessed and most blessed, pray for us.
Mother of eternal glory, pray for us.
Mother of the heavenly and earthly Church, pray for us.
Mother of love and indulgence, pray for us.
Mother of the golden light, pray for us.
Honor of the sky, pray for us.
Harbinger of peace, pray for us.
Gate of heaven, pray for us.
Golden casket, pray for us.
Couch of love and mercy, pray for us.
Temple of the Divinity, pray for us.
Beauty of virgins, pray for us.
Mistress of the tribes, pray for us.
Fountain of the gardens, pray for us.
Cleansing of sins, pray for us.
Washing of souls, pray for us.
Mother of orphans, pray for us.
Breast of the infants, pray for us.
Refuge of the wretched, pray for us.
Star of the sea, pray for us.
Handmaid of God, pray for us.
Mother of Christ, pray for us.
Abode of the Godhead, pray for us.
Graceful as the dove, pray for us.
Serene like the moon, pray for us.
Resplendent like the sun, pray for us.
Destruction of Eve’s disgrace, pray for us.
Regeneration of life, pray for us.
Perfection of women, pray for us.
Chief of the virgins, pray for us.
Garden enclosed, pray for us.
Fountain sealed, pray for us.
Mother of God, pray for us.
Perpetual Virgin, pray for us.
Holy Virgin, pray for us.
Prudent Virgin, pray for us.
Serene Virgin, pray for us.
Chaste Virgin, pray for us.
Temple of the Living God, pray for us.
Throne of the Eternal King, pray for us.
Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, pray for us.
Virgin of the Root of Jesse, pray for us.
Cedar of Mount Lebanon, pray for us.
Cypress of Mount Sion, pray for us.
Crimson Rose in the land of Jacob, pray for us.
Fruitful like the olive, pray for us.
Blooming like the palm, pray for us.
Glorious Son-bearer, pray for us.
Light of Nazareth, pray for us.
Glory of Jerusalem, pray for us.
Beauty of the world, pray for us.
Noblest born of the Christian people, pray for us.
Queen of life, pray for us.
Ladder of Heaven, pray for us.
Hear the petition of the poor; spurn not the wounds and the groans of the miserable. Let our devotion and our sighs be carried through thee to the presence of the Creator, for we are not ourselves worthy of being heard because of our evil deserts.
O powerful Mistress of heaven and earth,
wipe out our trespasses and our sins.
Destroy our wickedness and depravity.
Raise the fallen, the debilitated, and the fettered.
Loose the condemned.
Repair through thyself the transgressions of our immorality and our vices.
Bestow upon us through thyself the blossoms and ornaments of good actions and virtues.
Appease for us the Judge by thy prayers and thy supplications.
Allow us not, for mercy’s sake, to be carried off from thee among the spoils of
our enemies.
Allow not our souls to be condemned, but take us to thyself for ever under thy protection.
We, moreover, beseech and pray thee, Holy Mary, to obtain, through thy potent supplication, before thy only Son, that is, Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, that God may defend us from all straits and temptations.
Obtain also for us from the God of Creation the forgiveness and remission of all our sins and trespasses, and that we may receive from Him further, through thy intercession, the everlasting habitation of the heavenly kingdom, through all eternity, in the presence of the saints and the saintly virgins of the world; which may we deserve to enjoy, in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

(Read more.)

Novena to Our Lady of Fatima

"If My requests are granted ... there will be peace"

The novena to Our Lady of Fatima begins today. 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 )

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Month of May, Month of Mary

The month of May is traditionally dedicated to the Holy Mother of God. As Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen says in Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD:
It is a great comfort on our spiritual way, which is often fatiguing and bristling with difficulties, to meet the gentle presence of a mother. One is so at ease near one's mother. With her, everything becomes easier; the weary, the discouraged heart, disturbed by storms, finds new hope and strength, and continues the journey with fresh courage.
(Picture courtesy of House Art Journal)

May processions and crownings are beautiful traditions. A simple May altar in the home is lovely as well. May is also a good time to make the rosary a part of one's daily devotions, if it is not already.

Here is a "May Day Carol," a folk song we sang at school in Maryland.
The moon shines bright, the stars give a light A little before 'tis day
Our Heavenly Father, he called to us
And bid us awake and pray.
Awake, awake, oh pretty, pretty maid
Out of your drowsy dream
And step into your dairy below
And fetch me a bowl of cream

If not a bowl of thy sweet cream
A cup to bring me cheer
For the Lord knows when we shall meet again
To go Maying another year.

A branch of May I've brought you here
And at your door I stand
'Tis nothing but a sprout, but it's well budded out
By the work of our Lord's hand.

My song is done and I must be gone
No longer can I stay
So it's God bless you all, both great and small
And send you a joyful May.

St. Joseph the Worker

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

Saint Joseph is never far from the Blessed Virgin Mary, his immaculate spouse and, yes, his best friend, the friend of his heart, the love of his life, the unfailing cause of his joy in the midst of anxieties, hardship, and sorrow. Saint Joseph participated intimately in all those sorrows of hers that announced and prefigured the mysteries of Christ's passion, death, and burial: the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the disappearance of the boy Jesus in Jerusalem. If you would empathize with the Heart of Mary, go to Joseph....
Saint Joseph and Immigrants   
We recommend immigrants to Saint Joseph. He knows their struggles. He knows their anxieties, their hardships, and the fears. Saint Joseph was, after all, an immigrant in Egypt. He arrived there, in a strange land, with his Virgin Spouse and her Infant Son. He had to find housing, to look for work, to endure the suspicion, the prejudice, and the slights that are the lot of immigrants in every time and place.

Saint Joseph and Priests
And we recommend priests to Saint Joseph. The Church, in her wisdom, proposes to her priests two prayers in honour of Saint Joseph each day, one before Holy Mass, and one after. Every priest can find in Saint Joseph a friend, a model, a protector. Saint Joseph stands ready at every moment to introduce priests into a deeper intimacy with his Spouse, the Virgin Mary.
If you want to help priests, entrust them to Saint Joseph. All priests, especially parish priests, are exposed to being criticized and judged. It is a particular form of suffering that accompanies every priest from the day of his first Mass until the day of his last. I believe it was Archbishop Fulton Sheen who said that all priests are lacerated by the tongues of the pious! He knew of what he spoke; his own biography was entitled The Passion of Fulton Sheen. An effective way of countering the sins against charity that wound and discourage all priests is to entrust them to Saint Joseph.

Saint Joseph and Work
We recommend workers and those without work to Saint Joseph. People without meaningful work — be it manual or intellectual — fall more easily into depression. They have no self-esteem. They go from one thing to the next never finding the satisfaction and fulfillment that come from having a responsibility and from a job well done. Today let us not forget those suffering from idleness and unemployment. There is nothing more degrading to a human person. Even the sick and the very old find joy in work, in rendering the little service, in having others count on them for something.


Saint Joseph and the Dying
Finally, we recommend the dying to Saint Joseph. We will all want Saint Joseph near us at the hour of our death. Saint Joseph visits the dying because they are so much like little infants. They are vulnerable, weak, and subject to the attacks of evil spirits. Saint Joseph, exquisitely tender for souls redeemed by the Blood of Christ, is the “terror of demons.” He is the defense of those in the throes of the final combat. If you want to die in the company of Saint Joseph, live in the company of Saint Joseph. Pray to him, seek his company every day. (Read more.)
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