Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Fr. Mark has a beautiful post for this solemnity. Here are the words of the Mother of God to the Aztec, Saint Juan Diego:
Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my dear little son: let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you: let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Also do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need?
Fr. Angelo also has a magnificent discussion on such a sublime feast day for our country:
The iconography of heaven referenced in my post for the Immaculate Conception, particularly as it relates to the Miraculous Medal, finds an antecedent in the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that was painted on St. Juan Diego’s tilma by the Virgin Herself. She is clothed with the sun and is standing on the moon. Though the artists rendition above includes the serpentine imagery from Apocalypse 12, the actual image on the tilma has no depiction of the serpent. One might think that any reference to Genesis 3:15 is only indirect by way of the allusion through the commonality of The Woman. But not so. In fact, the heavenly iconography of Guadalupe passes from the prophecy of Genesis and the vision of St. John right into the history that it was intended to address. The image itself is a miracle that manifests and perpetuates the Virgin’s presence. We see what Juan Diego saw. Once Our Lady’s command to build a temple was obeyed the image came to rest on Tepeyac Hill, where formerly, before the conquest of Mexico by Cortes, there had been a shrine to the Aztec goddess Coatlicue....
Think about this: Juan Diego was given a mission to be Our Lady’s instrument to crush the serpent’s head in New Spain. He simply obeyed in trust and total abandonment. All he really needed to do was take the message to the bishop. The result was that the image was produced miraculously and then placed where our Lady wanted it, right over the serpent’s head, over the mockery of truth, life, beauty and motherhood.
Here are the words of Pope John Paul II on the final struggle:
We are today before the greatest combat that mankind has ever seen. I do not believe that the Christian community has completely understood it. We are today before the final struggle between the Church and the Anti-Church, between the Gospel and the Anti-Gospel.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

St. Maravillas of Jesus

Today is the memorial of Saint Maria Maravillas de Jesus, OCD. What fascinates me about this saint is that she led her nuns through the Second Vatican Council to a more profound living of the Carmelite charism without discarding tradition. She sought only the original inspiration of the foundress, the Holy Mother Saint Teresa, as was recommended by the council fathers.
It redounds to the good of the Church that institutes have their own particular characteristics and work. Therefore let their founders' spirit and special aims they set before them as well as their sound traditions-all of which make up the patrimony of each institute-be faithfully held in honor. (Perfectae Caritatis)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Holy House of Loreto

Today is the feast honoring the Holy House of Loreto. To quote:
Since then, it has become the greatest shrine to Our Lady in the world, ranking even greater than Mary Major in Rome. Over 2,000 canonized, beatified and venerable children of the Church have paid homage to the “Singular Vessel of Devotion” by visiting the home in which she was born, and raised the Son of God. These include: St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, St. John Berchmans, St. Philip Neri, St. Francis de Sales, St. John Capistrano, St. Clement Hofbauer, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, St. Louis de Montfort, St. Benedict Joseph Labre, St. John Neumann, St. John Bosco, St. Therese, Blessed Maximilian Kolbe, Mother Cabrini — just to mention a few. More than fifty Popes have issued Bulls and briefs testifying to its authenticity. Hundreds of Papal documents have granted it privileges, exemptions and authorizations to receive benefits, etc. In 1669 it was given a Mass of its own in the Missal. One of the five litanies approved for public recitation is called after it, the Litany of Loreto.

It is a place of many miracles. Those who have come throughout the ages, beseeching aid from the “Comforter of the Afflicted” usually return home spiritually aided or physically cured. Three successors to the chair of Peter have physically experienced the benevolence of the “Virgin Most Merciful” and were restored to health. They were Pope Pius II, Pope Paul II and Pope Pius IX. Even today cures continue, for Our Lady still exercises her Queenship by interceding for her subjects who implore her aid under the title of Our Lady of Loreto.

Sweet were the days she spent in the little home with Saint Joseph and the Holy Child. Their life within the clay walls was affluent with poverty, resonant with silence and illustrious in humility.

“Her actual life, both at Nazareth and later, must have been a very ordinary one…” said Saint Therese, the Little Flower of Jesus, who once visited the Holy House. “She should be shown to us as some one who can be imitated, some one who lived a life of hidden virtue, and who lived by faith as we do….” (Read entire article.)

More HERE.

Second Sunday of Advent

Here is a meditation from Dom Gueranger:
The Roman Church makes the Station today in the basilica of Holy-Cross-in-Jerusalem. It was in this venerable church that Constantine deposited a large piece of the true Cross, together with the title which was fastened to it by Pilate's order, and which proclaimed the kingly character of the Saviour of the world. These precious relics are still kept there; and, thus enriched with such a treasure, the basilica of Holy-Cross-in-Jerusalem is looked upon, in the Roman liturgy, as Jerusalem itself, as is evident from the allusions made in the several Masses of the Stations held in that basilica. In the language of the sacred Scriptures and of the Church, Jerusalem is the image of the faithful soul; and the Office and Mass of this Sunday have been drawn up on this idea, as the one of the day. We regret not to be able here to develop the sublime beauty of this figure; and must proceed at once to the passage, which the Church has selected from the prophet Isaias. There she tells her children how well founded are her hopes in the merciful and peaceful reign of the Messias. But first let us adore this Divine Messias:

Come, let us adore the King, our Lord, Who is to come.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Fr. Angelo has a magnificent post about our Queen. To quote:
This interpretation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is confirmed and strengthened with the support of the Church’s understanding of Apocalypse 12, another militant passage in which the Woman is pitted against the serpent (this time in the form of a red dragon). In this passage Our Lady is clothed with sun, stands on the moon and is crowned with twelve stars. In some images of the Immaculate Conception of the Imagery of Genesis 3 and Apocalypse 12 are combined, both strengthening the symbolism and using the one passage to interpret the other (as Ruben’s renders it above). This imagery of Apocalypse 12 indicates both a state of militancy and triumph. Our Lady is both suffering here on earth and glorified in heaven. This is because She is the personification of the Church, which is both militant and triumphant. Those of us who still suffer already share in the victory of those who have passed through the veil. This is particularly true in the way in which we participate in the victory of the Woman. (Read more.)

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Virgin Mary in the Writings of Our Holy Mother St. Teresa

Here is an article which pulls it all together.
St Teresa's whole Marian experience is found scattered throughout her writings, from which we can put together a lovely mosaic of Mary. We will make use of three important traits of Teresian doctrine. a) Devotion to Mary and Marian mystical experience  From the first page of Teresa's writings the Virgin Mary appears among the most important memories of her childhood. She recalls the devotion taught her by her mother Beatriz, which found expression in the recitation of the Rosary(8). The episode of her prayer to Our Lady after the loss of her mother at the age of 13 is very moving: "in my affliction I went to an image of our Lady and begged her with many tears to be a mother to me. It seems to me that though I did this in simplicity, it has been of much help to me; for I know that I have always found favour with this sovereign lady when I have commended myself to her and in the end, she has drawn me to herself"(9). Teresa then attributes to the Virgin the grace of a constant protection and in a special way the grace of her conversion: "She has drawn me to herself." Other texts from the autobiography reveal to us the permanence of the devotion to Mary: when she turns to the Virgin in her sufferings(10), when she remembers her feasts of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception(11) or the Holy Family(12) or her devotion to the Rosary(13). 
Very quickly the devotion to the Virgin, like other aspects of the Saint's life, passed into an experience of her mysteries, when God made Teresa enter into contact with the mystery of Christ and all that pertains to it. In Teresa's mystical experience of the mystery of Our Lady there is, as it were, a progressive penetration into the most important moments of the Virgin's life, as we find it in the Gospels. Thus, for example, we have an intuition of the mystery of the overshadowing of the Virgin and of her humble and wise attitude at the Annunciation(14). We know of at least two mystical experiences Teresa enjoyed connected with the first words of Mary's canticle, the Magnificat(15) which, according to the testimony of Mary of St Joseph, Teresa used to repeat frequently "softly, in Castilian"(16). 
She contemplates with amazement the mystery of the Incarnation: "The Lord wills to enter into the womb of his most holy Mother. Such is the Lord, he brings liberty with him, and thus he loves to make himself like us"(17). She contemplates the presentation of Jesus in the temple and finds the meaning of Simeon's words to the Virgin(18): "Do not think that when you see my Mother holding me in her arms, she enjoyed this happiness without grave torment. From the time that Simeon spoke these words to her, My Father gave her clear light whereby to see what I would have to suffer"(19). She thinks about the flight into Egypt and the hidden life of the Holy Family(20). 
She had a special intuition of the presence of Mary in the paschal mystery of her Son, on the pain of her desolation and the joy in the Lord's resurrection. Teresa loved to contemplate Mary's fortitude and her communion with Christ at the foot of the Cross(21). In Concepts of the Love of God she describes the Virgin's attitude: "She was up, and not sleeping, but suffering in her most holy soul, dying a cruel death"(22). She had entered mystically into the sorrow of the Virgin when the Lord was placed in her arms "as it is portrayed in the fifth sorrow"(23) and had experience at Easter in Salamanca in 1571 of desolation and anguish (a dark night of the spirit) which made her remember the loneliness of the Virgin at the foot of the Cross(24). On this same occasion the Lord said to her, "On my resurrection I went to our Lady who was in great need.... and I stayed long with her for she was in very great need of consolation"(25). 
On various occasions it was given to her to contemplate the glorification of the Virgin on the feast of her Assumption(26). She was conscious that the Virgin always accompanied the community at prayer with her constant intercession, as happened at St Joseph's in Avila(27) and at the Incarnation(28). 
When it was given to her to know the mystery of the Trinity she perceived the closeness of the Virgin to this mystery, and the fact that the Virgin, along with Christ and the Holy Spirit, are the ineffable gifts of the Father: "I have given you my Son and the Holy Spirit and this Virgin. What can you give to me?"(29) It can be stated that the Holy Mother had a profound mystical experience of Mary, that she enjoyed her presence. Teresa also experienced the mysteries of Mary's life. Consequently in Teresa's doctrine there runs a deep conviction that the mysteries of the Humanity of Christ and those of his Virgin Mother form part of the mystical experience of those tending to perfection(30). (Read More)

The Immaculate Conception and the Popes

On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus solemnly defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Here are the majestic words of the Vicar of Christ which echoed throughout the galleries and domes of St. Peter's in Rome:
...By the authority of Jesus Christ Our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: We declare, pronounce, and define that the...most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her Conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.
The Holy Father explained the consequences of rejecting the dogma in very strong terms.
...If anyone shall dare- God forbid- to think otherwise...let him know that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he is separated from the unity of the Church....
The pontiff hoped that the declaration of the dogma would bring many blessings to the Church, which in the mid-19th century was already beleaguered by modernism.
We have complete confidence that this most Blessed Virgin will ensure by her powerful patronage that all errors will be dissipated...Under her guidance...nothing is to be feared, nothing is hopeless.
Although the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception had been believed and taught since apostolic times, at least implicitly, it was during the turbulent modern era that Pope Pius IX saw the necessity of declaring it a matter of faith. Why? Fifty years later, Pope St. Pius X in his encyclical Ad Diem Laetissimum (1904) explains that belief in the Immaculate Conception is a remedy for the ills which flow from modernist, secular thinking.
What in fact is the starting point of the enemies of religion in spreading great and grievous errors by which the faith of so many is shaken? They begin by denying that man has fallen by sin...they regard as mere fables original sin and the evils that are its consequence.
St. Pius affirmed that belief in the Immaculate Conception will restore belief in original sin and in the need for Christ and His Church in order to be saved. "Thus Rationalism and Materialism will be torn up by the roots and destroyed...." He goes on to speak of the disobedience to authority, so prevalent in modern times, which leads to anarchy.
Now the evil which is equally fatal to society at large and to Christianity is dispelled by the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by which we are impelled to recognize in the Church that power to which not only must the will be subject but also the mind.
The holiness of God demanded that His Mother be conceived without original sin. That this honor would be conferred upon a member of our race was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. Pope St. Pius mentions several prophetic incidents:
Adam, the father of mankind looked to Mary crushing the serpent's head...; Noe thought of her when shut up in the ark of saftey...; Moses was amazed at the sight of the bush which burned but was not consumed...; Elias as he looked at the little cloud that rose out of the sea.
Carmelite tradition has also long asserted that Elias had a prophetic glimpse of the Immaculate Virgin in the cloud from the sea. It is one reason why Carmelites long defended the belief in the Immaculate Conception. She who was hailed "full of grace" by the angel Gabriel experienced that fullness from the first moment of her existence. The evil one never had any part of her. How powerful is her prayer with God! As Pius IX concluded in Ineffabilis Deus: "What she asks, she obtains. Her pleas never can be unheard."

(All quotations from Papal Teachings: Our Lady. Monks of Solemnes, St. Paul Editions, 1961)

(Artwork: "The Immaculate Conception" by Velasquez)
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