Saturday, September 24, 2022

An Icon of Our Lady of Walsingham

It is the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. From The Catholic Herald:
In her painting of Our Lady of Walsingham (detail pictured above), the Virgin Mary is depicted dressed in Anglo-Saxon attire and holding up the Child Jesus. The image includes the coat of arms of St Edward the Confessor, a patron saint of England, and it depicts Lady Richeldis, who built a replica of the “holy house” of Nazareth following an apparition. The image also shows a frog in the place of the serpent, following a traditional Old English telling of Genesis in art. 
The icon measures 75cm by 40.5cm (30in by 16in) and is made in a traditional way. It is painted with egg tempera on gesso mounted on a birch panel, before varnish was added for protection. The value of iconography over other art forms, according to Mrs de Pulford, is the clarity of the message the painter seeks to convey. 
“Symbolism occurs in many art forms, and iconography is no exception,” she says. “But you don’t have to be able to unpick the symbolism to understand the painting because the imagery is so clear. It’s clear what is going on, it’s clear who the people are, and if you contemplate for long enough the meaning will become clear.” 
She adds: “What I hope is that for those who see it the icon will inspire a renewed sense of the overwhelming generous love which inspired God to give Himself to the world, and Our Lady to reciprocate that love with her willing cooperation.” 
Richard II’s dedication of England was carried out amid great political turmoil, with the intention that the country and her people would be set aside for the guidance and protection of Our Lady. The dedication coincided with the growth of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham into one of the four great pilgrimage destinations of medieval Europe. 
The shrine was destroyed during the Reformation and the original statute is believed to have been burned at Chelsea by Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s henchman. But it was re-established in the 19th century and the English bishops decided in 2017 that a re-dedication was desirable. 
The National Day of Dedication involves Catholics making a personal “Angelus promise” to God in union with the “yes” of Mary at the Annunciation. Communal acts of entrustment will be made in cathedrals at noon, renewing the vows of dedication made by Richard II. Schools are invited to join the re-dedication on Monday, March 30. (Read more.)

Our Lady of Ransom


This is a special feast for all who suffer any type of enslavement. The origins of the Feast can be found in the little known Mercedarian Order. This was founded in the early thirteenth century by St Peter Nolasco and St Raymond of Penafort (who can both be seen at Our Lady's feet in the picture above) to ransom Christian slaves taken by the Muslims during their frequent raids on Europe. The Order's original name was the 'Order of the Virgin Mary of Mercy of the Redemption of Captives of St Eulalia' (an early martyr venerated in Barcelona). Christian captives in Muslim lands were a huge problem up until the eighteenth century. Barbary pirates even troubled English waters - 466 English ships were taken between 1609 and 1616 and a thousand people were taken captive after a raid on the West Country in 1625. We ask Our Lady of Ransom to intercede for Christians who experience hardships in Muslim countries today. Mother of Mercy, pray for us!

Friday, September 23, 2022

Novena to Our Guardian Angels

Here is the novena to our Angel Guardians in preparation for their feast on October 2:
O holy angels, whom God, by the effect of His goodness and His tender regard for my welfare, has charged with the care of my conduct, and who assists me in all my wants and comforts me in all my afflictions, who supports me when I am discouraged and continually obtains for me new favors, I return thee profound thanks, and I earnestly beseech thee, O most amiable protector, to continue thy charitable care and defense of me against the malignant attacks of all my enemies. Keep me away from all occasions of sin. Obtain for me the grace of listening attentively to thy holy inspirations and of faithfully putting them into practice. In particular, I implore thee to obtain for me the favor which I ask for by this novena. [Here mention your need(s).] Protect me in all the temptations and trials of this life, but more especially at the hour of my death, and do not leave me until thou hast conducted me into the presence of my Creator in the mansions of everlasting happiness. Amen.
Artwork: Juan Antonio Escalante, An Angel Awakens the Prophet Elijah (c. 1667)

Martyrs

 


From Catholicism:

The Church was born out of blood and persecution. As the traditional saying credited to Tertullian went: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians.” All of the Apostles were martyrs, including Saint John, who, although submerged into boiling oil during the persecution of Emperor Domitian, was miraculously preserved from death and bodily harm. The fact that he was willing to die for Christ (tradition has it that he also felt the pain) merited for him the martyr’s crown. All of the saints named in the canon of the Mass were martyrs, except for Our Lady, whose unique, un-bloody martyrdom was like a sword piercing her soul. The first thirty-three popes were martyrs. It was revealed to Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori that in the first three centuries of persecution, from the Edict of Nero (which began the persecutions) in the year 66 to the Edict of Milan (which ended them) in 313 eleven million of the faithful were martyred for their Faith in Christ. Finally, in the last days, during the reign of antichrist, the faithful will endure the worst of all persecutions, and martyrs will usher in the final triumph of the Church, which will precede the end of the world.

Truly, then, we belong to a Church of martyrs. Every age has contributed its share, some ages many more than others, but there have been martyrs at all times, some of whom are known only to God, His angels, and His saints. We have our martyrs today and we shall surely have them tomorrow.

Some of the victims of Communism who were spared the shedding of blood unto death suffered more than the martyrs, even thirty years of prison or in labor camps, under the most inhuman of conditions. In Communist China, to be a bishop loyal to the pope, guaranteed a prison sentence with at least mental torture, or death.

Why does God require so much blood from His servants? Why such a price? Why so much suffering?

Could it be that God wishes to exact from His closest disciples that greatest of all acts of love which Jesus was Himself to manifest for all men: “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13)?

At the Last Supper, in anticipation of His Passion and Death, Our Lord was very anxious to assure His Apostles that they were now His intimate friends: “I will not now call you servants: for the servant knoweth not what his lord doth. But I have called you friends: because all things whatsoever I have heard of my Father, I have made known to you” (John 15:15).

It was in His Passion and Death that Christ manifested how great was His love for men. “In this we have known the charity of God, because he hath laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1John 3:16). So, too, with the martyrs, in their passion and death they manifest how great a love they have for their Savior.

Nevertheless, many of the holiest of saints, even though they desired the crown of martyrdom, were not asked to make that sacrifice. Rather their whole lives were continual oblations of self-sacrifice. Think of Saints Francis of Assisi or Teresa of Avila. Then, there are the stigmatists, such as Saint Padre Pio, who suffered a martyrdom in his hands, feet, and side, on the cross every day, but without death, for fifty years. (Read more.)

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Novena to the Little Flower

It begins today. Here are some lovely recommended prayers:
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus,
Please pick a rose for me
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 your specific requests)
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


O Glorious St. Therese, whom Almighty God has raised up to aid and inspire mankind, I implore your Miraculous Intercession. You are so powerful in obtaining every need of body and spirit from the Heart of God. Holy Mother Church proclaims you 'Prodigy of Miracles... the Greatest Saint of Modern Times.' Now I fervently beseech you to answer my petition (mention here) and to carry out your promises of spending Heaven doing good on earth...of letting fall from Heaven a Shower of Roses. Little Flower, give me your childlike faith, to see the Face of God in the people and experiences of my life, and to love God with full confidence. St. Therese, my Carmelite Sister, I will fulfill your plea 'to be made known everywhere' and I will continue to lead others to Jesus through you. Amen

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Novena to St. Michael

Let us unite in praying together the Novena to St. Michael the Archangel.
Saint Michael the Archangel, loyal champion of God and His people, I turn to you with confidence and seek your powerful intercession. For the love of God, Who made you so glorious in grace and power, and for the love of the Mother of Jesus, the Queen of the Angels, be pleased to hear my prayer. You know the value of my soul in the eyes of God. May no stain of evil ever disfigure its beauty. Help me to conquer the evil spirit who tempts me. I desire to imitate your loyalty to God and Holy Mother Church and your great love for God and people. And since you are God's messenger for the care of His people, I entrust to you this special request: (Mention your request).
Saint Michael, since you are, by the Will of the Creator, the powerful intercessor of Christians, I have great confidence in your prayers. I earnestly trust that if it is God's holy will my petition will be granted.
Pray for me, Saint Michael, and also for those I love. Protect us in all dangers of body and soul. Help us in our daily needs. Through your powerful intercession, may we live a holy life, die a happy death, and reach heaven where we may praise and love God with you forever.
Amen.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Our Lady of La Salette

Our Lady wept at La Salette on September 19, 1846. It was roughly two years before another wave of revolutions would sweep across Europe, breaking down the structures what was left of Christendom. Once again, France was the site chosen by heaven for messages of supreme importance for the world. Taking God's name in vain and violating the Lord's day were not regarded as small matters by the Mother of Jesus. The Blessed Virgin spoke to two peasant children in the Dauphiné province in terms that they could understand, as the following shows:
'If my people do not obey, I shall be compelled to loose my Son's arm. It is so heavy I can no longer restrain it. How long have I suffered for you! If my Son is not to abandon you, I am obliged to entreat Him without ceasing. But you take no heed of that. No matter how well you pray in the future, no matter how well you act, you will never be able to make up to me what I have endured on your behalf. I have given you six days to work. The seventh I have reserved for myself, yet no one will give it to me. This is what causes the weight of my Son's arm to be so crushing. The cart drivers cannot swear without bringing in my Son's name. These are the two things which make my Son's arm so heavy.'
The Lady then went on to speak about the coming punishments for these sins of Sabbath breaking and blasphemy, including crop blights and famine, at one point switching from French, which the children did not understand perfectly, to the local patois. Then she spoke to Maximin alone, imparting a secret to him which Mélanie could not hear, before turning to her to give a secret that Maximin likewise could not hear. Presently she again spoke to both saying that if the people were to be converted then the fields would produce self-sown potatoes and the stones become wheat.
She then asked a significant question: 'Do you say your prayers well, my children?' They replied that they hardly prayed, and she told them they should say at least their morning and night prayers, before continuing: 'Only a few rather old women go to Mass in the summer. Everyone else works every Sunday all summer long. And in the winter, when they don't know what else to do, they go to Mass only to scoff at religion. During Lent, they go to the butcher shops like dogs.'
She then asked the children if they had ever seen spoiled wheat and when both replied that they had not, the Lady reminded Maximin that he had once seen it when on a visit to a nearby hamlet with his father; he then remembered that what she had said was true. Finally the Lady spoke to them in French: 'Well, my children, you will make this known to all my people,' before moving forward between them. She went on a few yards and then re-emphasized her message to them without turning around: 'Now, my children, be sure to make this known to all my people.'
Sources: Jaouen, A Grace called La Salette; Beevers, The Sun Her Mantle.

Here is a book about La Salette in which Louis XVII is mentioned since one of the pretenders approached Maximin, hoping for validation.

More commentary HERE.

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