Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Little Way

Pope Benedict XVI once spoke of the Little Way of the Little Flower and recommended reading The Story of a Soul.
  "Little Therese", the Pope continued, "never failed to help the most simple souls, the little ones, the poor and the suffering who prayed to her, but also illuminated all the Church with her profound spiritual doctrine, to the point that the Venerable John Paul II, in 1997, granted her the title of Doctor of the Church ... and described her as an 'expert in scientia amoris'. Therese expressed this science, in which all the truth of the faith is revealed in love, in her autobiography 'The Story of a Soul', published a year after her death".

  Therese was born in 1873 in Alencon, France. She was the youngest of the nine children of Louis and Zelie Martin, and was beatified in 2008. Her mother died when she was four years old, and Therese later suffered from a serious nervous disorder from which she recovered in 1886 thanks to what she later described as "the smile of the Virgin". In 1887 she made a pilgrimage to Rome with her father and sister, where she asked Leo XIII for permission to enter Carmel of Lisieux, at just fifteen years of age. Her wish was granted a year later; however, at the same time her father began to suffer from a serious mental illness, which led Therese to the contemplation of the Holy Face of Christ in his Passion. In 1890 she took her vows. 1896 marked the beginning of a period of great physical and spiritual suffering, which accompanied her until her death.

  In those moments, "she lived the faith at its most heroic, as the light in the shadows that invade the soul" the Pope said. In this context of suffering, living the greatest love in the littlest things of daily life, the Saint realised her vocation of becoming the love at the heart of the Church".

Monday, May 16, 2022

St. Simon Stock and the Scapular

From Louange de sa Gloire:
The Brown Scapular is a Marian devotion which originated at about the same time as the Rosary, and like the Marian shrine at Walsingham, had its origin in England. In the thirteenth century, during the time of the Crusades, Simon Stock went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where he met a group of hermits on Mount Carmel. These claimed to be the successors of Elijah and his followers, and, attracted by their way of life, Simon returned with them to England when the situation became too dangerous in Palestine because of the Saracens.
They settled at Aylesford in Kent and in 1254 Simon was elected Superior-general of the now mendicant Carmelites, who were regarded somewhat like the other mendicant orders such as the Franciscans and Dominicans.
Simon founded other houses as the order began to grow but he faced many problems as the original 'solitary' ideal of the hermits changed towards the more communal approach of the mendicants. These weren't just internal problems, as older orders also resented the arrival of these newcomers with their own particular devotion to Mary. 
Simon withdrew to his monastic room or 'cell' - probably at Cambridge by this time - to try and gain some relief from the problems faced both by himself and his Carmelite order, and in order to pray to Mary; it was then that he had his famous vision of her bringing the Brown Scapular to him with the following words, which are preserved in a fourteenth century narrative: "This will be for you and for all Carmelites the privilege, that he who dies in this will not suffer eternal fire.  
The Scapular promise is based on the two elements of Mary's spiritual maternity and her mediation of grace, that is that she is the 'spiritual' mother of all mankind, as well as the 'channel' by which all grace comes to us, understood in the sense that she too is dependent on the sole mediation of Christ, her son. 
This promise implies that Mary will intercede to ensure that the wearer of the Scapular obtains the grace of final perseverance, that is of dying in a state of grace. The modern Scapular consists of two pieces of brown rectangular cloth, roughly an inch by an inch and a half, which are usually decorated with appropriate Marian pictures, and are connected by two narrow brown cords, are worn around the neck and shoulders, hanging down to the front and back. 
The Scapular promise has come in for criticism, on somewhat similar grounds to those argued against Walsingham, that is, a lack of early supporting documentation. However it seems that the above account was found in the earliest record of St Simon Stock's life, and it is unreasonable to expect written evidence from the thirteenth century, since the Carmelite order didn't produce much literature until it had grown somewhat larger in the mid-fourteenth century.
It was about this time that the wearing of the Scapular spread to the laity, and gradually over the centuries it has gained in popularity, particularly following promotion of the 'Sabbatine Privilege' by popes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This is an idea which probably grew out of a deepened understanding of the promise originally made to St Simon, and essentially involves the idea that Mary will intervene to help those who have worn the Scapular before death and now find themselves in purgatory, particularly on a Saturday, the day traditionally dedicated to Mary. 
In order to be eligible for the Scapular promise, which is really a sign of consecration to Mary and hence to God, it is necessary for the wearer to have observed the virtue of chastity according to their state in life, whether married or single, and to have complied with the spirit of inner devotion which the wearing of the Scapular implies. 
This is a devotion which has also been continually encouraged by more recent popes, and so it is not something which has lost its power, even if it may have become unfashionable in some circles. If, as in the case of the Rosary, a whole series of popes, have, by virtue of their unique position of authority, approved the Scapular devotion, then clearly it just cannot be dismissed out of hand, at least not by Catholics who take the teaching and pastoral authority of the Church seriously. There is also an emphasis on the Scapular in the apparitions at Fatima which means it retains its relevance for today.

Sources: Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints; Carol, Mariology, Vol. 3

Great talk on the scapular, HERE.

Friday, May 13, 2022

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!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

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.

Monday, May 9, 2022

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!)

Sunday, May 8, 2022

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

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)

 

From Dom Gueranger

Devotion to St. Michael was sure to spread through the Church, especially after the worship of idols had been banished from the various countries, and men were no longer tempted to give divine honor to creatures. Constantine built in honor of the great Archangel a celebrated Church called Michaëlion; and at the time of Constantinople’s falling under the power of the Turks, there were no less than fifteen Churches that bore the name of Saint Michael, either in the City or the suburbs. In other parts of Christendom, this devotion took root only by degrees; and it was by the holy Archangel’s appearing to men that the Faithful were prompted to have recourse to him. These apparitions were local, and for reasons which to us might seem of secondary importance: but God, who, from little causes, produces great effects, made use of them whereby to excite Christians to have confidence in their heavenly protector. The Greeks celebrate the apparition that took place at Chone, the ancient Colossa, in Phrygia. There was, in that city, a Church dedicated to St. Michael, and it was frequently visited by a holy man named Archippus, who was violently persecuted by the pagans. One day, when Archippus was at his devotions in his favorite St. Michael’s, his enemies resolved to destroy both him and the Church. Hard by, ran a brook which flowed into the river Lycus: this they turned off, and flooded the ground on which stood the Church. Suddenly, there appeared the Archangel St. Michael, holding a rod in his hand: the water immediately receded, and flowed into a deep gulf, near Colossa, where the Lycus empties itself and disappears. The date of this apparition is not certain, beyond its having occurred at the period when the pagans were numerous enough in Colossa to harass the Christians.

Another apparition, which encouraged devotion to St. Michael in Italy, took place on Mount Gargano, in Apulia; it is the one honored by today’s feast. A third happened on Mount Tomba, on the coast of Normandy: we will commemorate it on the 16th October. (Read more.)

 

More HERE.

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