Saturday, June 30, 2018

Quo Vadis


Quo Vadis by the Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz is a jewel of historical fiction. While the 1951 film is excellent, it is dated; the novel, however, transcends time. The heartrending and vivid portrait of Roman life in the days of Nero combines a romance with the acta sanctorum amid breathtaking historical accuracy. The feelings of the young tribune Marcus Vinicius for the Christian maiden Ligia Callina are transformed by sacrifice and suffering from mere lust into profound love and devotion. In the meantime the early Church prepares to face a grueling ordeal at the hands of Nero. The brutality and decadence of Imperial Rome stand in glaring contrast to the indefatigable new sect, guided and instructed by Peter and Paul. The Christians must deal not only with the violence of the pagans but with some of their own members who betray and deceive. Indeed, part of the impact of the novel is the way it conveys continuity of the past with the present. Followers of Christ must struggle with their own sins and weaknesses as much as with the outside world which seeks to destroy them. It was not easy then; it is not easy now.

Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916) received the Nobel Prize for Quo Vadis. He was writing to encourage his Polish countrymen in their many difficulties, and combined superb story-telling with painstaking historical research. Although I prefer the book to the movie, I do not hesitate to recommend the latter. Among 1950's Biblical epics, Quo Vadis is outstanding. Peter Ustinov's performance as Nero is truly something worth watching; few actors could capture the same balance of comedy, pathos and unmitigated depravity. The sets are magnificent as well, and the flow of drama, quite piercing. It is a good way to glean both history and inspiration while being entertained.

Friday, June 29, 2018

What Fairer Light?

For the last few days I have been thinking on and off of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, whose martyrdom is celebrated today in the universal church, and of how two men with such different personalities would come to share a similar fate. St. Peter was a robust and practical fisherman from a small town. St. Paul was more cosmopolitan, a scholar, a pharisee, and a Roman citizen. They were both killed in a public and grisly manner far, far from their homeland. One was crucified, the other was beheaded.

How easy it would have been to have retired to some safe corner somewhere where they would not have bothered anyone! To just give up preaching, and writing all those letters, and generally harassing the pagans and correcting lax Christians...surely they had already done and suffered enough! Didn't they have a right to live their own life, and find some peace and quiet? After all, they had given up all for God, and now they were old...why couldn't they obscurely die in bed?


Ask St Peter, as he was fleeing from Rome, where Nero was burning Christians at his garden parties, and suddenly he ran into Our Lord, Who was walking along the Appian Way in the opposite direction.

Quo vadis, Domine? "Where are you going, Lord?" asked St Peter.

"To Rome, to be crucified again," Jesus replied. And St. Peter knew what he had to do...he had to go back. He was arrested and crucified, upside down, at his own request, for he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as his Master. He was always deeply humbled by the memory of his past denial.

Here are some words from the ancient and beautiful hymn for this feast, "What fairer light?"

Rejoice, O Rome, this day; thy walls they once did sign
With princely blood, who now their glory share with thee.
What city's vesture glows with crimson deep as thine?
What beauty else has earth that may compare with thee?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart

Pious reader, you, who have followed us throughout, what is your most earnest desire? To honor the hearts of Jesus and Mary His Mother; to work for the conversion of poor sinners; to cooperate according to your means in the work of reparation? Well, you may attain all these ends in the surest, sweetest way, by Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. She will lead you with a mother's gentle hand. You will see and feel by a happy experience that, in abandoning yourself to her guidance, you will do more for the glory of God, your own sanctification, and the salvation of others, than by any other means....Have no fear to attribute to Mary too great a power over the Heart of her Son. Beyond all thought or expression, she is Queen of this Heart; for thus does Jesus love to honor His Mother.

~ Love, Peace and Joy by the Reverend André Prévot

Monday, June 25, 2018

Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Holy Prophet Elias

From Speramus:
God choose in his providence that the Queen of Heaven and Earth was to make her last apparition at Lourdes on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16th 1858, and in the last public vision of Fatima, Our Lady also appeared as Our Lady of Mt Carmel on October 13, 1917.  At Fatima she  was holding the Rosary and the scapular out to a subdued and frightened crowd as they beheld  the Miracle of the Sun. Many in the crowd were terrified because they thought during the time it was the end of the world. 

Lourdes and Fatima belong to a long line of Approved Marian Apparitions leading back to the founding of the Carmelite Order on Mt Carmel by the Prophet Elijah. Here  Elijah battled 450 priests of Baal in a public spiritual contest which led to their defeat and ruin. He challenged the people to stop hobbling first on one foot and then on the other but to choose who is God in Israel Yahweh or Baal. According to the story, which can be found in the First Book of Kings, chapter 18, Elijah’s sacrifice was consumed by fire from heaven and proved to the people that Yahweh was the true God. Is it possible God is sending his Mother the Queen of prophets to help us defeat the prophets of Baal resurrected in our own time.                                                        
In the book of Malachi Elijah's return is prophesied to take place "before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord." He is  a forerunner in both advents of the Messiah. It seems that  Heaven has confirmed Our Lady at Fatima in the same mission of the prophet Elijah. Our Lady at Fatima appearing  in her Carmelite habit with a similar fire from Heaven during the miracle of the sun. The stupendous Fatima Miracle is the Greatest Supernatural Event of the 20th Century and does not belong [just] to faith or science; it is an Historical Event!

The Miracle of the Sun authenticated Fatima as supernatural in origin and also is a prefigurement or warning of a future catastrophe if the simple requests made at Fatima by our Lady are not heeded. (Read more.)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

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.)

Saturday, June 23, 2018

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.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Avoiding the Spirit of Criticism


It is with the moral infirmities we may see in one another- our defects of character or temperament, our faults, our failings- that I think we should try to be watchful to exercise charity in thought, word, and deed.

It is so easy and so natural to criticize; yet we cannot do so even interiorly without detriment to our soul. Such thoughts consented to, certainly retard our progress in the perfection of charity, if they do not offend God. And surely the aim of a Carmelite should be higher than to merely keep from offending God. Were we careful to live always that deep interior life that is our obligation as well as our privilege, we would realize that everyone has a right to the most delicate charity from us, and that it is a duty for each to have it for all. Let us try to bring a practical charity into our least relations with one another, never permitting the smallest criticism and always putting a charitable interpretation on the actions of others.

Let us cultivate the habit of thinking kindly of everyone and regarding as a temptation any impulse that would lead us ever to dwell upon the actions of others unless duty demands it of us, and as a greater temptation any impulse to correct them or mention them to another.

If we are watchful over our thoughts in relation to charity, our words will more easily take on a kindly tone. When our work brings us in contact with others, let us always show them the spirit of humility, respect, and deference that charity calls for, whether the persons we work with are older or younger, or in a higher or lower position that we are.

It is with this same delicate charity we should speak of one another if persons happen to to be the subject of our conversation either private or general, and this is only possible when our own spirit is being guided by the Holy Spirit Whose light would cause us to see our neighbor 'in the Sacred [Heart] of the Savior,' as St. Francis de Sales says. To be faithful to this charity means the practice of much self-denial. It will be to give place to that Spirit Who is all charity, Whose fruits are peace, joy and holiness.

~Fragrance from Alabaster
by Mother Aloysius of the Blessed Sacrament, OCD

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Confidence and Abandonment

...Abandonment is, I may dare to say, the principle virtue of souls devoted to the Sacred Heart....By abandonment He offers them a means by which they are enabled to participate in His almighty power. He opens to them them the treasures of His Heart, which undertakes to supply for all the shortcomings of souls abandoned to Him, and to perfect all their works. He makes them docile instruments, who place no obstacles to the action of God, and faithfully give Him the glory in all....Confidence by itself can easily obtain all things.

~ Love, Peace and Joy by the Reverend André Prévot

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Life of Joy

A life of joy is the most delightful fruit of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.... "We only do that well which we do with joy" (St. Thomas). If, then, we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to Him and to them--"servite in laetitia." Oh, let us do this, and not change the nature of things--God is joy; true devotion is joy; love is joy; sacrifice is the source of joy; the Cross itself is the condition of solid joy. Let us, then, open wide our hearts. It is joy which invites us. Press forward, and fear nothing. Let us always rejoice and ever advance in love and in joy.

~ Love, Peace and Joy by the Reverend André Prévot

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, June 19-27


Novena Prayers to Our Mother of Perpetual Help
First Prayer

Behold at thy feet, O Mother of Perpetual Help, a wretched sinner who has recourse to thee and confides in thee. O Mother of mercy, have pity on me. I hear thee called by all the refuge and the hope of sinners: be then, my refuge and my hope. Assist me, for the love of Jesus Christ; stretch forth thy hand to a miserable fallen creature who recommends himself to thee, and who devotes himself to thy service for ever. I bless and thank Almighty God, who in His mercy has given me this confidence in thee, which I hold to be a pledge of my eternal salvation. It is true that in the past I have miserably fallen into sin, because I had not recourse to thee. I know that, with thy help, I shall conquer. I know too, that thou wilt assist me, if I recommend myself to thee; but I fear that, in time of danger, I may neglect to call on thee, and thus lose my soul. This grace, then, I ask of thee, and this I beg, with all the fervor of my soul, that in all the attacks of hell I may ever have recourse to thee. O Mary, help me. O Mother of Perpetual Help, never suffer me to lose my God.
Three Hail Marys.

Second Prayer
O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying. O purest Mary, O sweetest Mary, let thy name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, O Blessed Lady, to help me, whenever I call on thee; for, in all my temptations, in all my needs, I shall never cease to call on thee, ever repeating thy sacred name, Mary, Mary. O what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence, what emotion, fill my soul when I utter thy sacred name, or even only think of thee. I thank the Lord for having given thee, for my good so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely uttering thy name. Let my love for thee prompt me ever to hail thee, Mother of Perpetual Help.
Three Hail Marys.

Third Prayer
O Mother of Perpetual Help, thou art the dispenser of all the gifts which God grants to us miserable sinners; and for this end He has made thee so powerful, so rich, and so bountiful, in order that thou mayest help us in our misery. Thou art the advocate of the most wretched and abandoned sinners who have recourse to thee: come to my aid, for I recommend myself to thee. In thy hands I place my eternal salvation, and to thee I entrust my soul. Count me among thy most devoted servants; take me under thy protection, and it is enough for me. For, if thou protect me, I fear nothing; not from my sins, because thou wilt obtain for me the pardon of them; nor from the devils, because thou art more powerful than all hell together; nor even from Jesus, my judge, because by one prayer from thee He will be appeased. But one thing I fear: that in the hour of temptation I may through negligence fail to have recourse to thee and thus perish miserably. Obtain for me, therefore, the pardon of my sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance, and the grace ever to have recourse to thee, O Mother of Perpetual Help.
Three Hail Marys.

Invocations to Our Lady
O Mother of Perpetual Help, thou whose very name inspires confidence.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may be victorious in the trying time of temptation.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may quickly rise again should I have the misfortune to fall into sin.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may break asunder any bonds of Satan in which I may have become entangled.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
Against the seductions of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may return to my former fervour should I ever become lukewarm.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may approach the Sacrament of Penance with a heart pierced by sorrow for my sins.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may receive and adore the Most Holy Eucharist with love, thanksgiving, and awe.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
[Priests: That I may live my holy priesthood in intimate union with thy Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Victim and Priest.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.]
Against my own inconstancy.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
Against my own infidelity.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
In the spiritual battle against my vices and sins.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
When the powers of darkness threaten me.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may persevere to the end in faith, hope and charity.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may never despair of the Mercy of God.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may ever love thee and serve thee and invoke thine assistance.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may make thy Perpetual Help known to others.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
That I may invite others to pray to thee and to venerate thy sacred image.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
At the hour of my death.
R. Help me, O loving Mother.
Blessing of the Sick By A Priest
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who hath made Heaven and earth.

V. O Lord hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.
Look down, O Lord, upon Thy servants failing from bodily weakness,
and refresh their souls which Thou hast created
that being bettered by Thy chastening
they may presently feel themselves healed and saved by Thy pity.

Grant, O Lord, we beseech Thee that these Thy servants
may enjoy continual health of body and soul,
and through the glorious intercession of the Blessed Mary ever Virgin,
Our Mother of Perpetual Help,
be freed from their present sorrow and enjoy eternal gladness.
Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

The Lord Jesus Christ be with you to defend you;
within you to preserve you;
before you to lead you,
behind you to guide you;
above you to bless you,
Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns forever and ever.
R. Amen.

The blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit
descend upon you and remain with you always.
R. Amen

Monday, June 18, 2018

Catastrophe

How the lack of the interior life has led to catastrophe within the Church. From Toronto Catholic Witness:
Faith is manifested in actions and not words. Words, should be the result of action. For example, it was not the brilliance of St. Bernard's speech, but his disposition, his obvious Faith that attracted. Faith is a supernatural gift and can only be breached by God alone, and not the intellect. It is the holiness (or lack of) coming from the priest or the layman that assists in attracting (or repulsing) the us.

Hope is manifested by a man of prayer. The secret and joy of the Cross must be lived, or all our efforts will fall on stoney ground. This means to embrace suffering joyfully. Difficult, at times seemingly impossible, yet with Christ all is possible.  

Charity is the road to sanctity. The detaching of a soul from sin is best achieved by living and demonstrating the love of Christ. The sinner (me and you) needs to catch a glimpse, a feeling, that they are engaged with a person who really loves Jesus Christ. 

Kindness will come to the soul who is dominated by Christ. Words and actions will be full of kindness. Without kindness zeal is not charitable, and therefore not genuine. Fr. Faber tells us that "kindness shows itself the best pioneer of the Precious Blood..." 

Humility is the living the words of Christ: "without me you can do nothing". St. Vincent de Paul warned his priests to consider themselves more fit for ruining than making success. The modern man, surrounded by individualism and a so-called false "liberty" has great difficulty with being humble. Without humility correct doctrine and good judgment will not preserve us from falling. Without Humility we are at the mercy of our passions. 

Firmness and Gentleness implies that we be - like St. Bernard - pitiless towards errors - but showing great affection for the sinner. St. Francis de Sales astonished Protestants with his firmness and gentleness. Such meekness does not mean weakness. Our Lord excoriated the scribes and pharisees, yet out of love, and charity to prevent the spread of evil.

If we do anything less, we are, as St. Paul wrote: "enemies of the Cross". Catholicism is not social conformity, or a habit of external practices handed down by tradition. Religious practice to have real meaning must be united to the combat of passions, the living of the Gospel in daily life. It is impossible to win disciples for Christ if we have no interior life ourselves

The above I drew liberally from the "The Soul of the Apostolate" by Dom Chautard. (Read more.)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

"I am Meek, and Humble of Heart"

From Vultus Christi:
The humility of the Heart of Jesus so impressed itself on Saint Peter that, years later, he enjoined the sheep of his flock to remain humble and trusting when visited by suffering:
Be you humbled under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in the time of visitation casting all your care upon Him, for He hath care of you. (1 Peter 5:6–7)
The Epistle begins with the 6th verse of Chapter 5, but one who applies himself to his lectio divina will discover that it is the 5th verse of the same Chapter that casts light over all that follows:
In like manner, ye young men, be subject to the ancients. And do you all insinuate humility one to another, for God resisteth the proud, but to the humble he giveth grace. (1 Peter 5:5)
The quaint expression, “do you all insinuate humility one to another” may strike one as curious, given the modern slightly negative connotation of the verb “to insinuate”, but the word, understood according to its etymology is exactly right. Insinuate contains the two Latin words, in sinu, meaning in the bosom, in the breast, or in the heart. The man who insinuates humility takes it deeply into himself. Saint Peter would have the young men, whom he is addressing, hold humility in their hearts. What humility? The humility of Jesus, Peter’s Divine Master, who presents Himself to us as meek, and humble of heart. Every time one receives Holy Communion, it is an insinuation (a taking into the deepest part of oneself) of the humility of Jesus. The soul who abides silent and receptive before the Most Blessed Sacrament will, over time, experience an insinuation of the silence of the Host, of the humility of the Host, of the hiddenness of the Host. (Read more.)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Theology of the Sacred Heart

They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.
Theology is, first of all, God’s word addressed to us. Apply this immediately to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The pierced Heart of the Crucified is God speaking a word to us, a word carved out in the flesh of Jesus’ side by the soldier’s lance. It is the love of God laid bare for all to see: “God stepping out of his hiddeness.” When we speak of a theology of the Sacred Heart, we mean this first of all: not our discourse about love, but the love of God revealed first to us, the poem of love that issues forth from the Heart of God. This is exactly what Saint John, whom the Eastern tradition calls, “The Theologian,” says in his First Letter: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10).
The difficulty here is that, in order to receive this word inscribed in the flesh of the Word (cf. Jn 1:14), we have first to stop in front of it, to linger there, and to look long at the wound made by love. “They shall look on him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37). To contemplate is to look, not with a passing glance, but with the gaze of one utterly conquered by love. Jeremiah says, “You have seduced me O Lord, and I was seduced; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed” (Jer 20:7).
The call to be an adorer of the Sacred Heart, and the call to be an apostle of the Sacred Heart is addressed to every Christian. The apostle is, in essence, the bearer of a word, one sent forth and entrusted with a message. The message that the apostle carries into the world is the one he has learned by looking long with the eyes of adoration at the pierced Heart of the Crucified.
The word of Crucified Love is hard to pronounce — hard to pronounce, I mean, not with our lips but with our lives. Adoration is the school wherein one learns how to say the Sacred Heart. It is in adoration that the apostle receives the word of the pierced Heart that, in turn, becomes his life’s message. Adoration and apostleship together model a spirituality accessible to all Christians: the word received in adoration is communicated in the dynamism of one sent forth with something to say. (Read entire post.)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Madame Elisabeth's Prayer


Here is a prayer of Madame Elisabeth, the sister of Louis XVI, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:
Adorable heart of Jesus, sanctuary of the love that led God to make himself man, to sacrifice his life for our salvation, and to make of his body the food of our souls: in gratitude for that infinite charity I give you my heart, and with it all that I possess in this world, all that I am, all that I shall do, all that I shall suffer. But, my God, may this heart, I implore you, be no longer unworthy of you; make it like unto yourself; surround it with your thorns and close its entrance to all ill-regulated affections; set there your cross, make it feel its worth, make it willing to love it. Kindle it with your divine flame. May it burn for your glory; may it be all yours, when you have done what you will with it. You are its consolation in its troubles, the remedy of its ills, its strength and refuge in temptation, its hope during life, its haven in death. I ask you, O heart so loving, the same favour for my companions. So be it.
O divine heart of Jesus! I love you, I adore you, I invoke you, with my companions, for all the days of my life, but especially for the hour of my death.
O vere adorator et unice amator Dei, miserere nobis. Amen.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

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.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

If, then, you ask for miracles....

It is the feast of St Anthony the Wonderworker. In spite of the claims of Protestants and some modernist Catholics, it is not superstitious to ask St Anthony for help in finding lost articles. I could write a book about all the things he has found for me; things that I thought were gone forever. But it is not only in finding what is lost that St Anthony excels; he is a big brother and comforter in every kind of trial, especially in spiritual struggles. It is hard to explain to non-Catholics and "progressive" Catholics how a saint can be a friend; I would not even know where to begin. One must have trust, a child-like faith, and a sense of the Communion of Saints. The saints are our friends, our needs are their concerns and nothing is too small for their intercession.

Here is some information about St Anthony's Chapel in Pittsburgh, one of the most amazing and overlooked shrines in the world.

Today is also the anniversary of the second apparition of Our Lady at Fatima in 1917. Our Lady told the three children that Our Lord wished to establish in the world devotion to her Immaculate Heart. She showed them her heart encircled with thorns and said: "I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God." To ponder such words in the depths of contemplation is to share in the wonder of the mystery of God's mercy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Sacred Fire: Practicing Devotion to the Heart of Jesus

Sacred Fire by Philip Michael Bulman is a gem of a book about the development of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus among the Catholic faithful. From the words of Jesus Himself and the piercing of his Heart to the mystic writings of St. Gertrude and St. Margaret Mary, to the Carmelite saints and ending with St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy revelations, the author shows how the Sacred Heart devotion is firmly rooted in Scripture and Tradition. Not only has the devotion long been a part of the piety of the faithful but in times of crisis the symbol of the Heart of Our Savior has emerged with special power. The back of the book has many prayers, litanies and other devotions. Sacred Fire is a book for every Catholic household.


Monday, June 11, 2018

Hidden in the Sacred Heart of Jesus

From Fr. Mark:
Devotion to the Sacred Heart, thus understood, is a manifestation in the Church of the Holy Spirit, "helping us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought" (Rom 8:26).5 The Sacred Heart is, in the life of the Church, the organ by which "the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom 8:27).
Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: "We see who Jesus is if we see him at prayer. The Christian confession of faith comes from participating in the prayer of Jesus, from being drawn into his prayer and being privileged to behold it; it interprets the experience of Jesus' prayer, and its interpretation of Jesus is correct because it springs from a sharing in what is most personal and intimate to him".6

This is the prayer of the Sacred Heart, the prayer that filled the days and nights of Jesus' earthly life, the prayer that suffused his sufferings and ascended from the Cross at the hour of his death, the prayer that with him descended into the depths of the earth, the prayer that continues uninterrupted in the glory of his risen and ascended life, the prayer that is ceaseless in the Sacrament of the Altar....

The prayer of the Heart of Christ at the hour of his sacrifice passes entirely into the heart of the Church, where it is prolonged and actualized "from the rising of the sun to its setting" (Mal 1:11) in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the mystery of the Eucharist.

Cardinal Ratzinger asks if, after the once-for-all Pasch of Jesus, anything more is needed. "After the tearing of the Temple curtain and the opening up of the heart of God in the pierced heart of the Crucified, do we still need sacred space, sacred time, mediating symbols? Yes, we do need them, precisely so that, through the 'image', through the sign, we learn to see the openness of heaven. We need them to give us the capacity to know the mystery of God in the pierced heart of the Crucified".14

It is through the liturgy, first and above all, that we pass over into the prayer of the Sacred Heart, the word to the Father forever inscribed in his pierced side. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, June 10, 2018

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.


Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Immaculate Heart of Mary


"My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God." (Psalm 83:4)

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary has grown along side of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, for the heart of the Mother can never be separated from that of her Son. According to the visionary St. Bridget of Sweden (14th century), Our Lady said: "As Adam and Eve sold the world for one apple, so my son and I redeemed the world, as it were, with one Heart." (Sign of Her Heart by John Haffert)

St. John Eudes, who in the 17th century promoted devotion to the Two Hearts, reported to have heard Our Lord saying: "I have given you this admirable heart of My dearest Mother which is but one with Mine, to be truly your heart also, in order that the children may have but one heart with their Mother...." (Ibid.)

The Belgian mystic Berthe Petit (1870-1943) experienced several revelations concerning the "Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary." She recorded Jesus as saying:
This devotion to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of My Mother will restore faith and hope to broken hearts and to ruined families...it will sweeten sorrow. It will be a new strength for My Church, bringing souls not only to confidence in My Heart, but also to abandonment to the Sorrowful Heart of my Mother. (Prayers and Heavenly Promises by Joan Carroll Cruz)
The 1917 apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal led to Pope Pius XII instituting the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Originally kept on August 22, the memorial of the Immaculate Heart is presently kept on the day after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart.

The mystery of the Immaculate Heart is the mystery of the Mercy of God; the mercy He showed to Mary by preserving her from all stain of original sin; the mercy He bestows on us through the prayers of the Mother of Mercy, the Mediatrix of all Graces, on our behalf. It is a mystery of compassion, for Mary's heart was pierced with sorrow at the foot of the cross. The brown scapular of Carmel is a sign of one's personal consecration to Our Lady, as well as of the compassionate intercession we hope to receive from her at the hour of death.

Sr. Lucy of Fatima said: "Our Lady wants all to wear the scapular." (Haffert) The scapular is an exterior sign of interior abandonment to the Heart of Mary. The Carmelite Venerable Michael of St. Augustine wrote:
We can live in Mary if we strive, in all our deeds and omissions, in our penances and trials and afflictions, to preserve and promote within ourselves a filial, tender inclination of soul towards Mary....Our love will then flow, as it were, from God to Mary and from Mary back to God. (Life with Mary by Ven. Michael of St. Augustine)

Friday, June 8, 2018

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.

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 7, 2018

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.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

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.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Novena to Saint Anthony of Padua

THE MIRACULOUS RESPONSORY OF ST. ANTHONY
By St. Bonaventure

1. If then you ask for miracles,
Death, error, all calamities,
The leprosy and demons fly,
And health succeeds infirmities.
Chorus:
The sea obeys, and fetters break,
And lifeless limbs thou dost restore,
Whilst treasures lost are found again,
When young and old thine aid implore.
2. All dangers vanish at thy prayer,
And direst need doth quickly flee;
Let those who know thy power proclaim,
Let Paduans say: "These are of thee."
Chorus:
The sea obeys, and fetters break,
And lifeless limbs thou dost restore,
Whilst treasures lost are found again,
When young and old thine aid implore.
3. To Father, Son, may glory be,
And Holy Spirit eternally.
Chorus:
The sea obeys, and fetters break,
And lifeless limbs thou dost restore,
Whilst treasures lost are found again,
When young and old thine aid implore.
Pray for us, St. Anthony,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
O God! May the votive commemoration of St. Anthony, Thy Confessor and Doctor, be a source of joy to Thy Church, that she may always be fortified with spiritual assistance and may deserve to possess eternal joy. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Sacrament of Health and Sweetness

Fr. Mark quotes St. Thomas Aquinas on the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi:
In the year of salvation 1264, to the end that the faithful might celebrate the institution of so great a Sacrament with a complete festal Office, Urban IV, Bishop of Rome, was moved by his devotion thereto, to put forth a godly ordinance, to the effect that the memory of the said institution should be celebrated by all the faithful on the Thursday next after the Octave Day of Pentecost. This day was chosen in order that we, who from one end of the year to the other do use this Sacrament to our soul's health, might particularly celebrate the institution thereof at that season wherein the Holy Ghost taught the hearts of the disciples to acknowledge the mysteries thereof; for then it was, as we read, that they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' Doctrine and Fellowship, and in the Breaking of the Bread and the Prayers.
From a Sermon by Saint Thomas Aquinas
Opusculum 57
(Read more.)

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Roots Of Carmel

A beautiful new Carmelite monastery in Fairfield, PA. More HERE.
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