Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Saint Rita: A Messy Life


This is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have ever read. To quote Fr. Mark:
Catholicism is a fleshy affair: it is the religion of thorns in the flesh and roses in the snow. It is the religion of little children making furtive neighborhood pilgrimages, weaving crowns of flowers for the Mother of God, and secretly lighting candles to the saints. It is the religion of men quietly telling their beads, interceding for their families. It is the religion of those who kneel in prayer at at the tombs of the saints and shed tears over holy relics. Catholicism is the religion of little old ladies stopping in church laden with plastic shopping bags and burdened, even more, with concern for their children and their children’s children. It is the religion of the lonely, the confused, the broken, and the wounded who know that, in spite of everything, there is no shame in going to the Crucified Jesus, for He was “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Is 53:3).
Catholicism is the religion of those tormented by gnawing hungers of the heart and thirsts of the spirit who, with faith and the fear of God, approach the inexhaustible Chalice of the Holy Mysteries for healing and relief. It is the untidy religion of those who trust that God and his saints can sort out whatever mess we have made of our lives and, in the end, by grace alone set all things aright. It all makes one supremely happy, and grateful, to be Catholic.
This was the religion of Saint Rita of Cascia, the wife of a husband who was murdered, the mother of two sons set on vengeance, a widow marked by emotional scars and lacerated by the cruel tongues of the pious. Finally, the doors of the cloister opened to admit her for the last stage of her life, one marked by sickness. Saint Rita’s life was messy.
Saint Rita lifted her eyes to meet the gaze of Christ and lived in His radiance; He blessed her with a thorn from His bloody crown and with a rose to console her in her final hour. By means of these very material signs, “the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth” (Jn 15:26) bore witness in Saint Rita’s life and in the Church to the abiding presence of the Crucified and Risen Lord.
Mother Church
Saint Rita, pray for us today, that we may not live in denial of the messiness of our lives but, rather, find comfort in the bosom of a Church warm with the intercession of the saints, a Church wide open to little children, a Church hospitable to failures and to fools, a Church who knows the value of the “little things” by which all of life can be suffused by paschal grace. (Read entire post.)

More HERE.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

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.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

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.

Monday, May 13, 2019

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!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Song of the Found Sheep

Good Shepherd mine;
Whatever made You leave the ninety-nine
To come like this in search of one lost sheep?
What raging fire
Constrained Your loving Heart? What mad desire
Impelled You on to comb the mountain steep?

Strange mystery:
That you should find such joy in finding me
When it should seem the joy should all be mine.
Please hold me fast;
Don't let me stray again as in days past,
But hide me safe within Your arms divine.

When in the West
The sun of my life's day shall sink to rest,
Enfold me still, O Lord, in Love's embrace.
Then with the dawn
Of that new Day, when night fore'er is gone,
Dear Shepherd mine, let me behold Your Face.
By a Carmelite Nun

Published with the kind permission of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Rochester, NY

Friday, May 10, 2019

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.

Madame Elisabeth was guillotined on May 10, 1794 and her Cause for Beatification has been introduced. More HERE.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

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!)

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

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)

Saturday, May 4, 2019

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 )

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

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. (Read more.)

 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.)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

St. Pius V

The shepherd who became a Shepherd.
Born to impoverished Italian nobility, the son of Paolo Ghislieri and Domenica Augeria. Worked as a shepherd as a boy. Received an excellent training in piety and holiness, including a scholastic education from a Dominican friar; he joined the Order himself in 1518, taking the name Michele. Studied in Bologna, Italy. Ordained in 1528 in the diocese of Genoa, Italy. Teacher of philosophy and divinity in Genoa. Professor of theology in Pavia, Italy for sixteen years. Master of novices and prior of several Dominican houses, working for stricter adherence to the Order’s Rule. Inquisitor in Como and Bergamo, Italy. Commissary general of the Roman Inquisition in 1551. On 4 September 1556 Michele was consecrated Bishop of Nepi e Sutri, Italy against his will. Inquisitor in Milan and Lombardy in 1556. Created cardinal on 15 March 1557. Grand inquisitor on 14 December 1558. Part of the conclave of 1559 that elected Pope Pius IV. Bishop of Mondovi, Italy on 17 March 1560. As bishop, Michael worked to lead his flock with words and examples, and served as a continual messenger encouraging personal piety and devotion to God. Chosen 225th pope in 1566.
Upon his ascension to the papacy, Pius V immediately faced the task of enacting the reforms of the Council of Trent. New seminaries were opened, a new breviary, new missal, and new catechism were published; foundations were established to spread the Faith and preserve the doctrine of the Church. Pius spent much time personally working with the needy. He built hospitals and used the papal treasury to care for the poor. Pius faced many difficulties in the public forum, both in the implementation of the Tridentine reforms and in interaction with other heads of state. At the time of his death he was working on a Christian European alliance to break the power of the Islamic states. (Read more.)

Monday, April 29, 2019

Two Dominican Saints

Catherine Delors writes of her patroness, St. Catherine of Siena, who spoke truth to power.

And Terry reminds us that yesterday was the feast of St. Peter of Verona, who was murdered by the Cathars. According to one account:
Saint Peter Martyr was born in the year 1205 at Verona in Italy. His family belonged to a religious sect called the Cathars meaning "pure ones", which were popular in the region of Verona at that time. The Cathars were perceived as dangerous as they spread the word that Rome had betrayed and corrupted the original purity of the message of Christianity. Peter of Verona (Peter Martyr) received a good education and attended a Catholic school and went on to study at the University of Bologna where he met met Saint Dominic and then joined the Dominican Friars, forsaking the beliefs of the Cathars and adhering to the traditional Catholic Faith. His preaching was so successful that he attracted the attention of Pope Innocent III. Pope Innocent III had come to power in 1198 and had been determined to began a programme of conversion for the Cathars. By 1229 Inquisition he established an Inquisition to discover the leaders and followers of Catharism. Pope Innocent IV became Pope in 1243 and in 1252 appointed Peter Martyr the Inquisitor for Lombardy. Cathars who refused to recant were dealt with severely and punishments ranged from being sentenced to galley slaves or burned at the stake. In 1252 St. Peter Martyr was murdered by the hired Cathar assassins of two noblemen of the Venetian States whom he had handed over to the secular authorities accused of adhering to Catharism, and who, in consequence, had been imprisoned. St. Peter Martyr was attacked with an axe receiving wounds to his head and then stabbed in the heart.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Low Sunday

It is Divine Mercy Sunday. Father Mark says it better than I ever could. To quote:
The Church is a community of wounded persons who have contemplated the glorious wounds of the Risen Christ. Our wounds are the means by which the mercy of the Risen Christ penetrates into the secret places of the soul. Those who have no wounds, or those who pretend to have none, shut out the healing mercy of Christ. A certain kind of virtue — self-sufficient and hard — renders one impenetrable to the balm of Divine Mercy. Those who know themselves to be wounded and who expose their wounds to the radiance of Christ’s glorious wounds, experience the power of his resurrection. These alone are sent forth by Christ to carry on his work of healing mercy in the world. (Read entire post.)

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Eighth Day

From Abbot Gueranger:
Let, then, the week with its Sabbath pass by; what we Christians want is the eighth day, the day that is beyond the measure of time, the day of eternity, the day whose light is not intermittent or partial, but endless and unlimited. Thus speak the holy Fathers, when explaining the substitution of the Sunday for the Saturday. It was, indeed, right that man should keep, as the day of his weekly and spiritual repose, that on which the Creator of the visible world had taken his divine rest; but it was a commemoration of the material creation only. The Eternal Word comes down in the world that he has created; he comes with the rays of his divinity clouded beneath the humble veil of our flesh; he comes to fulfil the figures of the first Covenant. Before abrogating the Sabbath, he would observe it as he did every tittle of the Law; he would spend it as the day of rest, after the work of his Passion, in the silence of the sepulchre: but, early on the eighth day, he rises to life, and the life is one of glory.
'Let us,' says the learned and pious Abbot Rupert, 'leave the Jews to enjoy the ancient Sabbath, which is a memorial of the visible creation.... But our Sabbath has been transferred from the seventh to the eighth day, and the eighth is the first. And rightly was the seventh changed into the eighth, because we Christians put our joy in a better work than the creation of the world.... Let the lovers of the world keep a Sabbath for its creation: but our joy is in the salvation of the world, for our life, yea and our rest, is hidden with Christ in God.'

The mystery of the seventh followed by an eighth day, as the holy one, is again brought before us by the number of weeks which form Eastertide. These weeks are seven; they form a week of weeks, and their morrow is again a Sunday, the glorious feast of Pentecost. These mysterious numbers-which God himself fixed when he instituted the first Pentecost after the first Pasch-were adopted by the Apostles when they regulated the Christian Easter, as we learn from St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Isidore, Amalarius, Rabanus Maurus and from all the ancient interpreters of the mysteries of the holy Liturgy. 'If we multiply seven by seven' says St. Hilary, 'we shall find that this holy season is truly the Sabbath of sabbaths, but what completes it and raises it to the plenitude of the Gospel, is the eighth day which follows, eighth and first both together in itself. The Apostles have given so sacred an institution to these seven weeks that, during them, no one should kneel, or mar by fasting the spiritual joy of this long feast. The same institution has been extended to each Sunday; for this day which follows the Saturday has become, by the application of the progress of the Gospel the completion of the Saturday, and the day of feast and joy.'
From the Easter Sermon by Saint John Chrysotom:
 Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!
Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; If any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the intention He commends.
  Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!
Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaias foretold this when he said, "You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive. Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see. O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?  Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Mystery of Faith

Fr. Angelo explores the mystery at hand.
Indeed, the New Garden of Paradise is the Heart of Mary and it is like the enclosed space of the Cenacle where the first Mass was celebrated. It is like Garden of the Agony of Jesus where He resigned Himself to the Chalice of Suffering. And it is like the Garden of the Passion and Resurrection, where the New Tree of Life grows and bears fruit. Her virginal womb is truly the Virgin Earth from which grows forth the Tree of Life, and, one way or another, it is the exemplar for the enclosed space in which the Victim and Victor is laid and from which He rises. It is the true Grail of the Blood of Christ where we enter into The Mystery of Faith. St. Louis de Montfort writes that devotion to Mary is the secret that the Holy Spirit unseals for us (The Secret of Mary, 20). We are invited to enter this Enclosed Garden and Fountain Sealed, if we are willing to be humble in the face of the mysterium fidei.
The Easter mystery is all about sacrificial love, Christ’s, first of all, then ours in the Heart of the Immaculate Coredemptrix, the one in whom the mysteries we celebrate are fully realized. The Great Sacrifice makes Jesus present as our food, and in Him, in our participation in that Sacrifice through Holy Communion, we are incorporated into the mystery, mysticism and transformation in preparation for our own resurrection. This is what we celebrate as we witness the Bride of Christ decked out in all Her liturgical glory. This is the real secret of liturgical reform and its only real object.
May the Peace of Easter be yours. (Read more.)

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Exultet

The Easter Proclamation or Exultet from the Holy Saturday liturgy is one of the most sublime chants in the Roman rite, although it has gone through some changes over the years. Here is the authorized English translation from the 1970 Missale Romanum:


Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,

that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

(For it is fed by the melting wax,
which the mother bee brought forth
to make this precious candle.)

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

Holy Saturday

From Fish Eaters:
It was to the Limbo of the Fathers that Christ descended, a place of the dead that was emptied through His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension, and no longer exists. By this "Harrowing of Hell," as His Descent is sometimes called, the doors to Heaven were swung open so that those who die in a state of grace may enter in, alleluia! Adam, Eve, Noe, Abraham, Moses, the good thief on the cross -- all the righteous were illuminated by the Presence of Christ in the place of death, making Sheol itself a paradise. They remained there with Him until His Bodily Resurrection when the the "bars of Hell" were broken down and they were later able to enter into Heaven itself with His glorious Ascension.

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began....He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him -- He who is both their God and the son of Eve.. "I am your God, who for your sake have become your son....I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead." [Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C; LH, Holy Saturday, OR]
Because of this great silence, today there will be no Mass (until the Vigil Mass tonight, which technically is Easter); instead, there is a solemn service. Today is traditionally a day of abstinence in addition to being a day of fasting, until the Vigil Mass, when the Lenten Fast ends. Though this fasting requirement was abolished in the new Code of Canon Law, traditional Catholics follow the traditional practice. In some churches today, priests will bless Easter baskets containing the foods eaten tomorrow (in other places, the baskets will be blessed after the liturgy tomorrow). Baskets bearing Easter bread, Easter eggs, meats, butter, horseradish, and salt are brought to church, blessed, and taken home to await the great feast tomorrow.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday


Fr. Mark quotes the Desert Fathers: 
Abba Joseph related that Abba Isaac said, 'I was sitting with Abba Poemen one day and I saw him in ecstasy and I was on terms of great freedom of speech with him, I prostrated myself before him and begged him, saying, 'Tell me where you were." He was forced to answer and he said, "My thought was with Saint Mary, the Mother of God, as she wept by the cross of the Saviour. I wish I could always weep like that."
The Divine Mercy novena begins today. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

"My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!...I gave you a royal scepter, but you gave me a crown of thorns." ~from the Improperia.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Holy Thursday


Let us prepare for the Last Supper with Our Lord. Dom Gueranger writes of the Mass of the Lord's Supper in The Liturgical Year, Vol. VI:
The Mass of Maundy Thursday is one of the most solemn of the year; and although the feast of Corpus Christi is the day for solemnly honouring the mystery of the holy Eucharist, still, the Church would have the anniversary of the last Supper to be celebrated with all possible splendour. The colour of the vestments is white, as it is for Christmas day and Easter Sunday; the decorations of the altar and sanctuary all bespeak joy, and yet, there are several ceremonies during this Mass; which show that the holy bride of Christ has not forgotten the Passion of her Jesus, and that this joy is but transient. The priest entones the angelic hymn, Glory be to God in the highest! and the bells ring forth a joyous peal, which continues during the whole of the heavenly canticle: but from that moment they remain silent, and their long silence produces, in every heart, a sentiment of holy mournfulness. But why does the Church deprive us, for so many hours of the grand melody of these sweet bells, whose voices cheer us during the rest of the year? It is to show us that this world lost all its melody and joy when its Saviour suffered and was crucified. Moreover, she would hereby remind us, how the apostles (who were the heralds of Christ, and are figured by the bells, whose ringing summons the faithful to the house of God), fled from their divine Master and left Him a prey to His enemies.
Fr. Mark explains the mystery of the Sacred Triduum, saying:
The annual celebration of "the most sacred Triduum of the crucified, buried and risen Lord" is the liturgical, theological and spiritual center of the Church's life and "the culmination of the entire liturgical year." The Paschal Triduum begins with the Vesperal Mass of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday, continues through the Friday of the Lord's Passion, reaches its summit in the Solemn Paschal Vigil, and comes to a close with Sunday Vespers of the Lord's Resurrection.

Gregorian Chant
As an integral element of the Sacred Triduum, Gregorian Chant takes its place in the complexus of sacred signs by which the Paschal Mystery is rendered present to the Church, and the Church drawn into the Paschal Mystery. The chant of the Church is thus essentially related to the Paschal Mystery and to the new life which it imparts. The transcendent value of liturgical chant, especially during the annual celebration of the Paschal Triduum, is properly theological and spiritual. The chants of the Paschal Triduum constitute therefore a point of reconciliation and unity "between theology and liturgy, liturgy and spirituality." What Father Alexander Schmemann wrote concerning the Paschal Triduum of the Byzantine liturgy and its hymnography is also true, mutatis mutandis, of the liturgy of the Roman Rite and of its proper chants:
The liturgy of the Paschal Triduum -- Holy Friday, Great and Holy Saturday and Sunday -- reveals more about the "doctrines" of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Death and Resurrection than all the other "loci theologici" together; and, let me stress it, not merely in the texts, in the magnificent Byzantine hymnography, but precisely by the very "experience" -- ineffable yet illuminating -- given during these days in their inner interdependence, in their nature; indeed as epiphany and revelation. Truly if the word mystery can still have any meaning today, be experienced and not merely "explained," it is here, in this unique celebration which reveals and communicates before it "explains"; which makes us witnesses and participants of one all-embracing Event from which stems everything else: understanding and power, knowledge and joy, contemplation and communion.
The Whole Person in the Whole Church
Participation in the sacred liturgy makes "witnesses and participants" of those who thus experience the Paschal Mystery as something revealed and communicated, men and women capable of saying, "We have seen the Lord" (Jn 20:24). Paradoxically, while each worshiper must enter personally into the Paschal Mystery, making a personal profession of faith at Baptism, and uttering a personal Amen to the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, the effect of such a personal engagement is participation in the Body of Christ and the unity of the Holy Spirit. The saving mystery of Christ's death and Resurrection embraces and sanctifies the integral human person within the communion of the Church. The symbolic language of the liturgy therefore engages the human person bodily, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. (Read entire post.)


"And there appeared to Him an angel from Heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony, he prayed the longer." Luke 22:43

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Wednesday of Holy Week

Madonna of the Precious Blood
From Vultus Christi:
We confess the self-emptying obedience of Christ, obedience even to the death of the cross, calling him LORD. We summon the entire cosmos — things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth — to adoration of his Name! Already, we lift our eyes to the see the glory of the risen and ascended Christ. The very melody of the introit scales an entire octave to soar into the heights, obliging us to “seek the things that are above” (Col 3:1). Dame Aemiliana speaks of “the irresistible, shining tone of triumph with which today’s Mass straightaway puts the approaching shadows of evening to flight.” Like Saint Stephen at the hour of his death, we see Christ in the glory of God the Father. “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). The Crucified is our Kyrios, the triumphant king, raised up into the glory of the Father.
[...]

The Communion Antiphon begins today with a mysterious word, a word of the suffering Christ, given to sustain us. Potum meum cum fletu temperebam. “I mingled my drink with weeping” (Ps 101:10). The chalice is given Christ by the Father. “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk 22:42). The chalice of Christ’s sufferings is made full when he adds to it his own tears, the tears of a Man, the tears of God. This is the chalice offered us in the Eucharist: a communion with the suffering Christ, a communion in his blood and in his tears. He mingled his drink with weeping to make our drink sweet. He was lifted up and thrown down (cf. Ps 101:10) that we who are thrown down might, by grace, be lifted up. He became withered like the grass (cf. Ps 101:11) that the garden of the kingdom might be planted and flourish and grow beautiful among us. (Read more.)
Precious Blood of Jesus

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tuesday of Holy Week

 From Vultus Christi:
The Eucharist is the awful reality of the Christus passus. The mystery of the suffering Christ is made present to us and for us. For our healing, his wounds are pressed against ours. For our cleansing, his Blood flows impetuous like a torrent. For our life, his breath is given over in death. The Eucharist is the Crucified “lifted up and drawing all men to himself”(cf. Jn 12:32). It is the Eucharist that causes us to cry out, “O great Passion! O deep wounds! O outpouring of Blood! O death suffered in every bitterness, give us life.” (Read more.)


Scott Richert discusses the spirit of sacrifice and Holy Week.

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