Sunday, June 16, 2019

Trinity Sunday

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

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

Friday, June 14, 2019

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.)

Thursday, June 13, 2019

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.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Mater Ecclesiae

The Monday after Pentecost Sunday is the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church. From Northwest Catholic:
A few moments before dying, Jesus made us heirs of his most precious treasure on Earth: his own Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26-27) Jesus knew his mother should not be alone. She needed children to look after, children who would make her feel she was their mother, who would come to her aid and who would seek refuge under her mantle. 
Jesus’ beloved disciple, representing all the beloved disciples of Jesus, welcomes Mary into his home from that day. In this way, the church embraces Mary as its mother for all ages. The apostles first, and then the entire church, will need a Mother who can summon them in love, who can help them to reconcile after a feud, who appeases them when tension arises, who consoles them when things don’t go as expected, who gives them hope when all seems lost, and who prays with them and for them. In such a way, the Mother of God becomes the mother of the beloved disciple and the Mother of the Church. (Read more.)

Days of Fire and Light

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

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Pentecost

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 7, 2019

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew


Today is the feast of a Carmelite saint, Blessed Anne, the secretary and confidante of the Holy Mother St. Teresa of Avila. Here her biography:
She entered in 1570 at the age of 21, taking the religious name Sr. Anne of St. Bartholomew and becoming the first discalced Carmelite lay sister. She made her profession on August 15th 1572 and was given the duty of infirmarian. In 1574 Anne went with St. Teresa to Valladolid and Medina del Campo. After that she became ill herself and was unable to travel for two years, but Teresa thought very highly of Anne and in 1577 she became her secretary and nurse. In the last five years of her life Teresa needed help with her large correspondence as she was often too tired or too ill to write herself, but she was able to dictate her letters. Anne had still not learnt to write, so Teresa gave her two lines of her own handwriting and told her to learn. In one afternoon Anne persevered and obeying Teresa’s directive she learned to write; this was cited as one of Teresa’s miracles in the process for her beatification, though it is true that, since Anne could read, she was already familiar with letters, which no doubt helped her learn to write. In the last years of Teresa’s life Anne wrote a great many letters for Teresa at her dictation. Teresa wanted Anne to receive the black veil and become a choir nun, but Anne begged to remain a lay sister, as she did not know how to read Latin which was required for the Divine Office and she said she would prefer to serve the community in practical ways than have the burden of administration. Teresa allowed her to remain a lay sister but predicted correctly that she would eventually become a choir nun. Anne visited many monasteries with Teresa and helped her with the foundations of Villanueva de la Jara, Palencia, Soria and Burgos. She was a dedicated nurse helping Teresa through her many health problems and attending to her lovingly in her last journeys. Teresa died in Anne’s arms at Alba de Tormes in 1582. (Read more.)
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