Saturday, October 20, 2018

A Very Great Silence

Anne of Austria doing penance with Mother Mectilde and the nuns
From Fr Mark:
Catherine–Mectilde de Bar (1614 –1698) lived in times no less troubled and troubling than our own. The life of the Church in her day was marked by worldliness; lust for power; shameful compromises with Mammon; scandals among the clergy and in cloisters; desecrations of the Most Blessed Sacrament; and not a little dabbling in the occult. At the same time, the Church was blossoming prodigiously; a true spiritual springtime followed the Council of Trent. Immense graces were in evidence everywhere: the reform of priestly life; zeal for missionary labours; the institution of good seminaries; the reform of ancient Orders; the foundation of new ones; and underlying it all, a wonderful application to prayer by people in every state of life.

Monasteries have always been listening posts. One might imagine that, given the monastic enclosure — a real and effective separation from the world — and the investment of so many hours of the day in divine worship, work, study, and solitary prayer, little of what generates controversy in the wider Church would impinge upon the silence of the cloister. Not so, not so. Clergy and layfolk alike learned centuries ago that monks are good listeners. Although we monks have neither television nor newspapers, although we have rigorous norms with regard to the use of the internet, and exercise discretion and prudence in such things as reading blogs and frequenting the hubs of the “Catholic” internet, we often find ourselves in the awkward position of being well informed! What then? We choose silence over discourse, prayer over debate, and praise and adoration over what the psalmist calls, “the contradiction of tongues” (Psalm 30:21). Still we “hear tell of wars, and rumours of war” (Matthew 24:6) even within the Church. What is our response? (Read more.)

Do it as you can and as God will permit you to do it.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Novena to St. Jude

It's that time of the year again. It is time to go to the Apostle and Martyr St. Jude Thaddeus with petitions for his aid in some hopeless and desperate situations and for certain hopeless and desperate persons (including myself).

Novena Prayer
Saint Jude, glorious apostle, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor has caused you to be forgotten by many. But the Church honors and invokes you universally as the patron of difficult and desperate cases, of things despaired of. Pray for me who am so miserable. Make use, I implore you, of that particular privilege accorded to you to bring visible and speedy help where help was almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations and sufferings, particularly — (here make your request) — and that I may bless God with you and all the elect throughout all eternity.

I promise you, O blessed JUDE, to be ever mindful of this great favor, and I will never cease to honor you as my special and powerful patron and do all in my power to encourage devotion to you. Amen.

Saint Jude, pray for us and for all who honor you and invoke your aid.

(Say the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be to the Father, 3 times.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Paray-le-Monial, 1689


In 1689, St. Margaret Mary confided in a letter to her superior Mother de Saumaise about a vision of Our Lord she had recently experienced. Here are the words of Our Lord concerning France and the consecration to the Sacred Heart as she recorded them:
He desires, then, it seems to me, to enter with pomp and magnificence into the palaces of kings and princes, therein to be honored as much as He has been despised, humiliated, and outraged in His Passion. May He receive as much pleasure therein at seeing the great ones of the world abasing and humbling themselves before Him as He once felt bitterness at beholding Himself annihilated at their feet!
Here are the words that I heart on this point: 'MAKE KNOWN TO THE ELDEST SON OF MY HEART,' SPEAKING OF OUR KING, 'THAT AS HIS TEMPORAL BIRTH WAS OBTAINED THROUGH DEVOTION TO THE MERITS OF MY HOLY CHILDHOOD, IN THE SAME MANNER HE WILL OBTAIN HIS BIRTH OF GRACE AND ETERNAL GLORY BY THE CONSECRATION THAT HE WILL MAKE OF HIMSELF TO MY ADORABLE HEART, which wishes to triumph over those of the great ones of the world. IT WISHES TO REIGN IN HIS PALACE, TO BE PAINTED ON HIS STANDARDS AND ENGRAVEN ON HIS ARMS, IN ORDER TO RENDER HIM VICTORIOUS OVER ALL HIS ENEMIES.'

In The Life of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque the Right Reverend Emile Bougaud comments thus:
To comprehend Almighty God's request with regard to the standard, we must recall that, from the earliest ages, France had always had a sacred standard, one that was not borne to vulgar combats; one that rested in the sanctuary of St. Denis under the shadow of the country's holy protectors. It was removed from its sacred shrine only when the monarch headed the army, when it was solemnly sought in the hour of the greatest danger, or when it was to be carried afar to the holy wars. It symbolized the religious soul of France, and floated like a sacred prayer amid the nation's banners. It was a standard of this kind that God had given to Joan of Arc. He had prescribed its form and emblems, and communicated to it the secret virtue that roused exhausted France to unhoped-for triumphs. Today, through the lips of the virgin of Paray, God asked of the king of France something of the same kind, a sacred standard which was to symbolize an act of faith. It was to be borne side by side with the nation's flag, and, in a voice that could be distinctly heard above the proverbial bravado of her enemies, proclaim that France places her trust in the blessing of God.
When St. Margaret Mary did not hear from her superior, she wrote again:
Live + Jesus!
August, 1689,
The Eternal Father, wishing to repair the bitterness and agony that the Adorable Heart of His Divine Son endured in the palaces of earthly princes, amidst the humiliations and outrages of His Passion, wishes to establish His empire in the heart of our great monarch, of whom He desires to make use in the execution of His designs, which is to have an edifice erected in which shall be a picture of His divine Heart, to receive the consecration and homage of the king and all the court.
Moreover, this divine Heart wishes to make itself the defender of the sacred person of the king, his protector against all his enemies. Therefore has it chosen him as its faithful friend, to have the Mass authorized by the Holy Apostolic See, and to obtain all the other privileges that ought to accompany devotion to this divine Heart.
It is by this divine Heart that God wishes to dispense the treasures of His graces of sanctification and salvation, by bestowing His benediction on the king's undertakings, according a happy success to his arms, and making him triumph over the malice of his enemies
.
Fr. Bougaud makes the following assessment:
We have not Mother de Saumaise's answer to his letter of August, 1689. She who had known how to reach Rome and arouse the thoughts of the Sovereign Pontiffs would neglect nothing to to reach even Louis XIV. We know that she had recourse to the Superioress of the Visitation of Chaillot, the refuge of Mlle. de la Fayette, where dwelt the queen of England, and which held, so to say, its door open to the court of Louis XIV. Might it happen that Pere de la Chaise would not dare to speak of it to the king? Might it happen that Louis XIV's soul would not be sufficiently humble to comprehend the Christian grandeur of such a thought? Be that as it may, those tender and magnanimous advances to the Heart of Jesus were not understood, and Margaret Mary's last admonitions were without avail, were lost in oblivion. They were, indeed, her last words, we are at the close of 1689, and she was nearing her death.
1689! Involuntarily we pause at this date, for it evokes another, 1789! A century has just rolled by between the epoch in which the humble virgin, hidden in the depths of a cloister, pointed out to Louis XIV the ark of salvation prepared for him by the goodness of God, and that other epoch in which arose the storm that was to sweep away the monarchy, and with it all other monarchies. If told in the days of his splendor of the perils in store in France, of the necessity of seeking a remedy, a shelter far above man, yea, even in the Adorable Heart of Jesus, Louis XIV would have smiled incredulously. And yet this was true. From Louis XIV France descended to Louis XV, from Louis XV to Voltaire, from Voltaire to Robespierre and Marat; that is to say, from pride to corruption, from corruption to impiety, and from both the one and the other to a hatred of God and man which was to bring about her universal punishment. (Right Reverend Emile Bougaud, The Life of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. Published in 1890 by Benziger Brothers. Re-printed by TAN Books and Publishers, 1990, pp. 267-273.)

Monday, October 15, 2018

Feast of Our Holy Mother St. Teresa


The following is an account of the death of the Great Teresa on October 4, 1582 at Alba de Tormes, by her secretary Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew.
Two days before she died, she asked to be given the Most Holy Sacrament, for she knew now that she was dying. On seeing that they were bringing it to her, see sat up in bed in such a spirited way that it looked as if she were going to get up, so they had to restrain her. Then she said, with great joy: "My Lord, it is time to set out...." She gave hearty thanks to God that she was a daughter of the Church and was dying as such, saying that through the merits of Christ she hoped to be saved, and she asked us all to beseech God to pardon her sins and to look, not at them, but only at His own mercy. With great humility she asked pardon of all, telling them not to take into account the things she had done and the bad example she had set them.
When the sisters saw that she was dying, they begged her to say something to them that would be to their profit, and she entreated them, for the love of God, to keep strictly to their Rule and Constitutions. There was nothing that she wished to add to this. Afterwards, she said little more save for repeating again and again that verse of David which says: Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus; cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies ("A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit, a humble and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise." Psalm 50:19, The Vulgate) Especially the phrase cor contritum-- this she kept repeating till she could say no more. Before this she had asked for Extreme Unction which she received with great devotion.

On St. Francis' Day, at nine o'clock in the evening, Our Lord took her to be with Him and left us all in such sorrow and grief that, if I had to describe it here, there would be a great deal to say. I heard a few things which the Holy Mother said before she expired, but so wonderful are they that I shall not set them down here. My superiors can relate them if they think it well to do so.


(from Msgr. Doheny's Selected Writings of St. Teresa)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Rosary: Our Greatest Weapon

From U Catholic:
Amid this dark persecution, Pope Saint Pius V reminisced about King David who raised his eyes, weeping but full of hope, to the Lord of refuge:

“A song of ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2).

And so, Pope Pius urged all Christians across Europe to invoke Our Lady’s intercession through the rosary: Following the example of our predecessors, seeing that the Church militant, which God has placed in our hands, in these our times is tossed this way and that by so many heresies, and is grievously troubled and afflicted by so many wars, and by the depraved morals of men, we also raise our eyes, weeping but full of hope, unto that same mountain, whence every aid comes forth… (Pope Saint Pius V, Consueverunt Romani Pontifices, 17 September 1569).

He also called upon all the Christian princes of Europe to unite against this imminent threat and form the Holy League – to be commanded by the 24-year-old Don John of Austria. But on October 7, 1571, the morning of the Battle of Lepanto, the odds were stacked against the Holy League. Not only were they severely outnumbered by the Ottoman army, but the wind was against them. Clinging to their last glimmer of hope, Don John and his army turned to prayer. Suddenly, by the end of the day, the wind shifted in favor of the Holy League who defeated the Ottomans and liberated the 12,000 Christian slaves.

The powerful weapon of the rosary saved Christendom from the clutches of the Ottoman invaders. And so, Pope Pius V established that October 7 would be the feast day in honor of Our Lady of Victory as their triumph was attributed to the Virgin Mary’s intercession.

Our Lady’s powerful role in fighting the battles of the Lord and conquering evil through fortitude and patience is beautifully depicted in the private revelations of Venerable Mary of Agreda (1602-1665), a Spanish Franciscan nun. After Jesus’ death, Our Lady, accompanied by St John, was on her way to the Council of Apostles. During the voyage from Ephesus to Jerusalem, Mary of Agreda saw how Satan and his terrifying army of demons appeared before Our Lady to threaten her. But she defeated them.
“Lucifer and his demons with increasing fury threatened the powerful Queen by telling her that she would perish in this sea and not escape alive. But these and other threats were but spent arrows and the most prudent Mother despised them, not even listening to them, or looking upon the demons, or speaking to them a single word. They themselves, on the other hand, could not bear even to glance at her face on account of the virtue of the Most High shining from it. And the more they strove to overcome this virtue, the weaker they became and the more were they tormented by those offensive weapons, with which the Lord had clothed his most holy Mother” (Mystical City of God, Book 8, Chapter 2).

And in the same way, Our Lady is a powerful intercessor for us, especially when we invoke her protection through the Holy Rosary. How did this ancient weapon come to be? (Read more.)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Dance of the Sun

October 13 marks the 101th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, when the sun swirled in the sky, a phenomenon witnessed by thousands of people. The three children-- Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta-- saw Our Lady appear as the joyful Virgin Mother, the Sorrowful Mother, and finally as Our Glorious Lady of Mount Carmel. They also saw St. Joseph in the sky, holding the Child Jesus. In his book entitled St. Joseph, Fatima, and Fatherhood, Monsignor Joseph A. Cirrincione offers some thought-provoking reflections.
The role of the priest in relation to Christ is strikingly analogous to the role of St. Joseph in relation to God the Father. Just as the Eternal Father willed to share His Fatherhood with St. Joseph...so Jesus willed to share His Fatherhood with the priest.... (p.28)
Likewise, "the sun stands out in a special way as a symbol and figure of God, and also of His Church...." Monsignor goes on to say that at Fatima "the 'miracle of the sun' represents not so much a threat of evils to come as it does a foreshadowing of the dethronement of God the Father, and an intimation of the appalling consequences inevitably to follow." One month after the "dance" of the sun in Fatima, the Communists took control of Russia.
The combination of atheism and secularism-- which practically speaking amounts to the universal and official rejection of the Fatherhood of God by mankind across the entire face of the earth....And I believe it was foreshadowed by the 'miracle of the sun' at Fatima in 1917.

[....]
Rejection of the Fatherhood of God by the vast majority of mankind inevitably has set in motion a chain reaction of consequences affecting fatherhood under every aspect that we have considered here. The notion of fatherhood in many families, for example, has been reduced to a biological fact. And the role of the father as the head of the family has completely gone out of style...the disintegration of the family inexorably and inevitably is leading to the disintegration of society itself....But the spirit of anti-fatherhood has entered even the Catholic Church. Recognition of the fatherhood of the Vicar of Christ...has eroded to an alarming degree...the role of priestly fatherhood is now coveted by women, seeking to escape the noble destiny which God has prepared for their sex, but which nevertheless they are taught to regard as drudgery. (pp.40-41)
Our Lady of Fatima's remedy for societal and moral ills is return to God throug the prayer of the rosary, consecration to her Immaculate Heart (symbolized by wearing the brown scapular), and the loving performance of our daily duties. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for Christians to perform the most basic duties of their individual states of life. Yet it is the fulfillment of our ordinary duties upon which our salvation depends. Let us have an ever increasing confidence in the prayers and protection of the Mother of Mercy.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Our Lady of the Pillar

"I dwelt in the highest places, and my throne is in a pillar of cloud." Ecclesiasticus 24:7
On this feast day, Columbus first glimpsed the New World, bringing with him a great devotion to Our Lady, as Plinthos explains:
The ship that brought Columbus was Holy Mary of the Immaculate Conception. Spanish Catholics have had a clear and unrelenting devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary for at least five hundred years.

Just thirty nine years later Our Lady herself from Guadalupe converted millions in New Spain to faith in Jesus Christ. There were countless tireless and very effective Spanish missionaries in the first century of the evangelization of America, including the Apostle of South America. It is no accident that the patroness of USA, therefore, is The Immaculate Conception. She was brought here on Columbus Day!
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