Friday, December 13, 2019

Saint Lucy, Bride of Christ

"Lucy, Bride of Christ, by your sufferings you have gained mastery of your soul." —The Roman Breviary
St. Lucy died in 304 in Syracuse, Sicily during the persecution of Diocletian. She is the patroness of eye ailments. From Aleteia:
St. Lucy was a holy young woman...who was inspired by St. Agatha to dedicate her life to God. At the time she was betrothed to a man, but Lucy felt called by God to remain a virgin and distribute her dowry to the poor. This enraged her betrothed, who brought her in front of consul Paschasius for being a Christian. Paschasius commanded her to offer sacrifice to the pagan idols. Lucy adamantly refused and remained steadfast in the practice of her Christian faith. Paschasius was astonished by the fearless responses of Lucy and sought to break her will. The medieval text known as the Golden Legend narrates what happens next.
“The sting of the whip will silence your lip!”Lucy: “Those who live chaste lives are the temples of the Holy Spirit." 
“Then I shall have you taken to a brothel,” said Paschasius, “your body will be defiled and you will lose the Holy Spirit.” 
“The body is not defiled,” Lucy responded, “unless the mind consents. If you have me ravished against my will, my chastity will be doubled and the crown will be mine. You will never be able to force my will. As for my body, here it is, ready for every torture. What are you waiting for? Son of the devil, begin! Carry out your cruel designs!”
(Read more.)
"The Martyrdom of St. Lucy" by Pietro Novelli

Thursday, December 12, 2019

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.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

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)

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

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.

Monday, December 9, 2019

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)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

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.)

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 7, 2019

Tota pulchra es Maria

From Fr. Mark:
The Divine Office gives me the very words that the Holy Ghost would have us pronounce and the very melody that best carries them. I have only to take a breath, and sing what the Church wants me to sing. Her words, not mine: words crafted by the Church under the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost; words for all of Eve’s hapless children who know not how to pray as they ought.
Tota pulchra es Maria, et macula originalis non est in te. “Thou art all fair, O Mary, there is no spot of original sin in thee” (Ct 4, 7). Tota pulchra: all fair, all lovely, all beautiful or, to use the words of the Angel Gabriel, gratia plena, full of grace. In Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot,” one of his characters comments on the portrait of a woman named Nastassya Filippovna, saying, “One could turn the world upside down with beauty like that.” The beauty of the Immaculate Conception does not turn the world upside down; it is more radical than that. It is the beginning of a new world. It is the beauty of a new genesis, of paradise reinvented in a little girl conceived, as Bernanos put it, “younger than sin.”

Immaculate beauty crushes the head of the ancient serpent. Read Genesis 3: 9-15, 20. The human race receives in the person of the Immaculate Conception a new “mother of all the living.” The heartbeat of hope begins its rhythm in the womb of Saint Anne. Nothing will ever again be the same.
The second antiphon describes Mary as she appeared to Bernadette in 1858, in the grotto overlooking the Gave River: Vestimentum tuum candidum quasi nix, et facies tua sicut sol. Thy raiment is white as snow, and thy countenance as the sun (Ct 1:3, 4). It was 155 years ago that the young woman robed in white, with her countenance indescribably radiant, said to Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The Virgin revealed to Bernadette the mystery of her identity hidden in God from before the creation of the world and unspoiled in time, untouched by the ravages of sin. (Read more.)

Friday, December 6, 2019

St. Nicholas the Wonder-Worker

 Russian artist Ilya Repin shows St. Nicholas delivering an innocent man from execution.
Saint Nicholas of Myra, the "Wonder-worker," was in some ways the Padre Pio of the fourth century. If people of some distant century were to read of the extraordinary miracles of Saint Pio, they would surely think them to be legendary, except that so many of his healings are documented. Saint Nicholas did not have the advantage of modern medical science to affirm the healings worked by God through him, but he has the devotion of the Church of the East and the West, and has long been venerated as patron of children, mariners, prisoners, miners and brides. He is the patron saint of brides because he gave dowries to poor girls. St. Nicholas is an Advent guide, leading us to the Christ Child. According to Fr. Mark:
To my mind, the most important thing to remember about Saint Nicholas is the spirit of godly fear and adoration with which he stood before the Holy Altar at the moment of the Divine Liturgy. Everything else in his life — including the countless miracles attributed to him — flowed from the Holy Mysteries. The Divine Liturgy served by Saint Nicholas must have been like the Mass of Padre Pio. While the holy gifts were being carried in procession to the altar, the people sang of Our Lord’s Eucharistic advent among them: “We who mystically represent the Cherubim, who sing to the life-giving Trinity the thrice holy hymn, let us now lay aside all earthly cares, that we may receive the King of all who comes escorted invisibly by Angelic hosts. alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.”

Saint Nicholas and the other saints of Advent surround the Eucharistic Advent of the Lord just as they will surround Him with the angels in the glory of His Advent at the end of time. How important it is to acknowledge the saints of Advent, to seek their intercession, to rejoice in their lives. Those who would banish the saints from the celebration of the Advent liturgy are misled and mistaken. The mission of the saints of Advent is to prepare us for the coming of Christ: for His final advent as King and Judge, yes, but also for His humble daily advent hidden under the species of bread and wine. In no way do the saints detract from the intensity of the Advent season. Each of them is given us as a companion and intercessor, charged with making ready our hearts for the advent of the Bridegroom-King. (Read more.)

Thursday, December 5, 2019

St. John Damascene and the "Ishmaelites"

When I first came upon this post, I wondered at first glance which ultramontane rabble-rouser had authored it, before realizing that it was from the writings of St. John Damascene. He was the last of the Greek Fathers and lived at a time when the ancient Christian communities were falling into Moslem hands. St. John did not mince words. To quote:

They furthermore accuse us of being idolaters, because we venerate the cross, which they abominate. And we answer them: ‘How is it, then, that you rub yourselves against a stone in your Ka’ba [107] and kiss and embrace it?’ Then some of them say that Abraham had relations with Agar upon it, but others say that he tied the camel to it, when he was going to sacrifice Isaac. And we answer them: ‘Since Scripture says that the mountain was wooded and had trees from which Abraham cut wood for the holocaust and laid it upon Isaac, [108] and then he left the asses behind with the two young men, why talk nonsense? For in that place neither is it thick with trees nor is there passage for asses.’ And they are embarrassed, but they still assert that the stone is Abraham’s. Then we say: ‘Let it be Abraham’s, as you so foolishly say. Then, just because Abraham had relations with a woman on it or tied a camel to it, you are not ashamed to kiss it, yet you blame us for venerating the cross of Christ by which the power of the demons and the deceit of the Devil was destroyed.’ This stone that they talk about is a head of that Aphrodite whom they used to worship and whom they called Khabár. Even to the present day, traces of the carving are visible on it to careful observers. (Read more.)

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

St. Barbara, Virgin and Martyr

She is venerated in both the east and the west.
Barbara was the daughter of a rich heathen named Dioscorus. She was carefully guarded by her father who kept her shut up in a tower in order to preserve her from the outside world. An offer of marriage which was received through him she rejected. Before going on a journey her father commanded that a bath-house be erected for her use near her dwelling, and during his absence Barbara had three windows put in it, as a symbol of the Holy Trinity, instead of the two originally intended. When her father returned she acknowledged herself to be a Christian; upon this she was ill-treated by him and dragged before the prefect of the province, Martinianus, who had her cruelly tortured and finally condemned her to death by beheading. The father himself carried out the death-sentence, but in punishment for this he was struck by lightning on the way home and his body consumed. Another Christian named Juliana suffered the death of a martyr along with Barbara. A pious man called Valentinus buried the bodies of the saints; at this grave the sick were healed and the pilgrims who came to pray received aid and consolation. The emperor in whose reign the martyrdom is placed is sometimes called Maximinus and sometimes Maximianus; owing to the purely legendary character of the accounts of the martyrdom, there is no good basis for the investigations made at an earlier date in order to ascertain whether Maximinus Thrax (235-238) or Maximinus Daza (of the Diocletian persecutions), is meant. The traditions vary as to the place of martyrdom, two different opinions being expressed: Symeon Metaphrastes and the Latin legend given by Mombritius makes Heliopolis in Egypt the site of the martyrdom, while other accounts, to which Baronius ascribes more weight, give Nicomedia. In the "Martyrologium Romanum parvum" (about 700), the oldest martyrology of the Latin Church in which her name occurs, it is said: "In Tuscia Barbarae virginis et martyris", a statement repeated by Ado and others, while later additions of the martyrologies of St. Jerome and Bede say "Romae Barbarae virginis" or "apud Antiochiam passio S. Barbarae virg.". These various statement prove, however, only the local adaptation of the veneration of the saintly martyr concerning whom there is no genuine historical tradition. It is certain that before the ninth century she was publicly venerated both in the East and in the West, and that she was very popular with the Christian populace. The legend that her father was struck by lightning caused her, probably, to be regarded by the common people as the patron saint in time of danger from thunder-storms and fire, and later by analogy, as the protector of artillerymen and miners. She was also called upon as intercessor to assure the receiving of the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist at the hour of death.
St. Barbara is also regarded as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, very popular in the Middle Ages.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Advent Wreath


Tell us if you are he who is to reign over the people of Israel?
~from The Roman Breviary, Matins responsory, First Sunday of Advent
Here is a link from Fish Eaters about making an Advent wreath, with accompanying meditations.

Ad te levavi

It is the First Sunday of Advent. Here is the Entrance Antiphon (Introit):
Unto you have I lifted up my soul. O my God, I trust in you, let me not be put to shame; do not allow my enemies to laugh at me; for none of those who are awaiting you will be disappointed.
V. Make your ways known unto me, O Lord, and teach me your paths (Ps 24:1-4).
From Vultus Christi:
 There is movement in today’s liturgy: a great sweep upward and away from all that holds us bound and confined “in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Lk 1:79). This is the ecstatic movement of prayer, of all right worship: out of self, upward, and into “the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19). The Introit sets the tone, not only for this the first Mass of Advent, but also for the rest of the Advent season and, indeed, for the whole new liturgical year. “To Thee, my God, I lift up my soul” (Ps 24:1) or, as Ronald Knox translated it, “All my heart goes out to Thee, my God.”

The heart, in going out to God, leaves much behind and cannot look back. This is the law of prayer, this is what it makes it costly, sacrificial and, at the same time, unspeakably sweet. The things we leave behind are mere trifles but, oh, the hold they can have on us! The old self, fearful and anxious about many things, grasps at every illusory promise of security, clings to things, arranges them in great useless piles, looks on them caressingly and takes inventory of them. The loss of any thing, even the most insignificant, represents for the old self, the loss of control, the loss of power, and of comforting familiar pleasures. All of this in incompatible with the prayer that the liturgy places on our lips today: “All my heart goes out to Thee, my God” (Ps 24:1). The upward flight of today’s Introit has nothing to do with cheap pious sentiment. It is an uncompromising call to detachment, to poverty of spirit, and to an obedience that is off and running with all speed, ready for the leap of hope. (Read more.)
More First Sunday of Advent meditations from Silverstream Priory, here:
 There is a second way of hearing today’s Introit. The stational church in Rome for the First Sunday of Advent is the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, the oldest temple in Christendom dedicated to the Mother of God. By singing this particular psalm in this particular place the Church is suggesting that we are to hear the voice of the Virgin Mary in it. Everything in Our Blessed Lady is in readiness for the advent of God. The Mother of God, Our Lady of Advent, prays and teaches us to pray, “All my heart goes out to thee, O God” (Ps 24:1). The second part of the verse is equally important. “Of those who wait for thee, not one is disappointed” (Ps 24:3). The Virgin Mary teaches us to pray Psalm 24 as she prayed it; by teaching us to pray with her, she becomes the Mother of our Hope. (Read more.) 

 Many people struggle with loneliness during this season of the year. Here are some words from the great Benedictine Dom Hubert van Zeller: 
After sin, the three evils most to be dreaded are doubt, fear and loneliness. Of these, loneliness is the worst. Loneliness can give rise to doubt and fear, while if a man knows he is not alone he can fight his doubt, and disguise- which is half the battle- his fear. We can force ourselves to laugh at our doubts and fears, but loneliness forbids laughter. Loneliness is an echoing ache in the soul, it hollows out the heart and scoops away at our reserves. It even communicates itself to the senses, and all the outer world seems indifferent and hostile. We must have something with which to meet this evil. We must find something which will turn it into good....

This is where we need to have faith. This is where we pull ourselves up and cry "It's a mood. It will pass. It is only a mood." That désespoir des lendemains de fête will melt away in time, giving place to color and light and normality and, finally, joy.
~ Dom Hubert van Zeller's We Die Standing, pp.62-63

Saturday, November 30, 2019

O Bona Crux

On this day, Andrew the poor fisherman from Galilee, patron saint of Scotland, of Greece, and of Russia, passed into eternal glory after many ordeals. Here is an excerpt from the old Martyrology for November 30, Feast of St Andrew the Apostle, as quoted in Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year, Vol XV :
Andrew, having been brought to the place of execution, seeing the cross at some distance, began to cry out: O good cross, made beautiful by the body of my Lord! so long desired, so anxiously loved, so unceasingly sought after, and now at last ready for my soul to enjoy! take me from amidst men, and restore me to my Master; that by thee He may receive me, Who by thee redeemed me. He was therefore fastened to the cross, on which he hung alive two days, preaching without cessation the faith of Christ....

Hail and Blessed

Here is an old prayer which if meditated upon daily from the feast of St. Andrew until Christmas Eve is said to be instrumental in bringing many graces. An old Italian nun once told me it was supposed to be pondered fifteen times a day, rather like the prayer of the rosary, so that the soul comes to taste the meaning of the words, and enter into the ineffable mystery.
Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment when Jesus Christ was born of the pure Virgin Mary at midnight in Bethlehem in piercing cold. At that hour vouchsafe O my God to hear my prayer and grant my petition through the intercession of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary His Mother. Amen.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Novena to the Immaculate Conception

Drawing close to Our Lady in the mystery of her Immaculate Conception is one of the best ways I can think of to spiritually ready the soul for the great feasts that are to come. The novena in honor of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States of America, begins today. And here is an excerpt from the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, much of which is based on Sacred Scripture:
Holy Mary, Mother of God, I firmly believe in thy Immaculate Conception. I bless God for having granted thee this glorious privilege. I thank Him a thousand times for having taught it to me by the infallible voice of the Church. Receive my heart, O Immaculate Virgin; I give it to thee without reserve; purify it; guard it; never give it back to me, preserve it in thy love and in the love of Jesus during time and eternity. AMEN.

V. Thy name, O Mary, is as oil poured out.
R. Thy servants have loved thee exceedingly.

Let us pray.
O God, Who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, did prepare a worthy habitation for Thy Son: we beseech Thee, that as in view of the death of that Son, Thou didst preserve her from all stain of sin, so Thou wouldst enable us, being made pure by her intercession, to come unto Thee. Through the same Christ Our Lord. AMEN.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Novena to St. Nicholas the Wonder-worker

Let us pray the novena to St. Nicholas of Myra, the patron saint of children, mariners, prisoners, miners and brides. Our children especially need his prayers to protect their innocence. As the charity of St. Nicholas once saved three young girls from a life of prostitution, so let us pray for his intercession for all those in sexual slavery, as well as for those who choose to live in a state of concubinage. And may he help all women and girls who seek an honorable marriage with a Christian husband. And deliver all those tormented by evil spirits. From the St. Nicholas Center:
St. Nicholas, Glorious Confessor of Christ,
assist us in thy loving kindness.

Glorious St. Nicholas,
my special Patron from thy throne in glory,
thou dost enjoy the presence of God,
turn thine eyes in pity upon me
and attain for me from our Lord
the graces and help that I need
in my spiritual and temporal necessities (and especially this favor provided that it be profitable to my salvation).
Be mindful likewise,
O Glorious and Saintly Bishop,
of our Sovereign Pontiff of our Holy Church
and of all Christian people.
Bring back to the right way of salvation all those who are living steeped in sin,
blinded by darkness of ignorance, error and heresy.
Comfort the afflicted,
provide the needy.
Strengthen the fearful,
defend the oppressed,
give health to the infirm.
Cause all [people] to experience the effects
of thy powerful intercession
with the supreme giver
of every good and perfect gift. Amen.
Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be to the Father.
Pray for us, O Blessed Nicholas,
that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us Pray.
O God who has glorified Blessed St. Nicholas,
thine illustrious Confessor and Bishop,
by means of countless signs and wonder,
and who does not cease daily so to glorify him ,
grant we beseech thee,
that we, being assisted by his merits and prayers,
be delivered from the fires of hell
and from all dangers through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

The Miraculous Medal

Today is the feast of the Miraculous Medal. The apparitions of Our Lady to Saint Catherine Labouré at the convent of the Daughters of Charity on the Rue de Bac in Paris are quite famous. Many people are unaware that the novice from Burgundy also experienced a vision of Christ the King, which foretold to her the July Revolution of 1830, and the final fall of the House of Bourbon. The July Revolution sent the Duchesse d'Angoulême and her family into permanent exile, as is told in the novel Madame Royale.

Fr. Joseph Dirvin describes the vision of June 6, 1830 in detail in his biography of St. Catherine.
On Trinity Sunday, June 6, 1830, Sister Laboure was given a special vision of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, or more specifically of Christ as King. This time she is precise as to the moment of the vision. Our Lord appeared to her, robed as a king, with a cross at His breast, during the Gospel of the Mass. Suddenly, all His kingly ornaments fell from Him to the ground—even the cross, which tumbled beneath His feet. Immediately her thoughts and her heart fell, too, and were plunged into that chasm of gloom that she had known before, gloom that portended a change in government. This time, however, she understood clearly that the change in government involved the person of the King, and that, just as Christ was divested of His royal trappings before her, so would Charles X be divested of his throne. 
It is a startling thing, this sacred vision of God Himself coming in majesty to foretell the fall of an earthly monarch, and the vision of Christ the King to Catherine Laboure seems to have had no other purpose than to foretell the fall of Charles X of France. The mystery of it will never be fully solved; yet here and there the mind may mull over certain clues. 
The greatest of these clues is the nature of the French monarchy itself, which, as Hilaire Belloc understood so well, was a holy thing, wedded to the people it ruled, and the prototype of all the monarchies of Europe. This ancient royalty had its roots in Rome and had received its Christian mandate in the crowning of Charlemagne by the Pope on Christmas Day, 800 A.D. It had lived for more than a thousand years in one line of men. 
No matter how great the goodness or wickedness of these royal men—and there was an ample supply of both—the sanctity of the monarchy itself and its mystical espousal to the French people is not to be questioned. In its institutions, its duties, its relationship to those it governed, its elaborate ritual, it was an imitation on a much lower plane of the Church of God. The French, kings and subjects alike, knew this well. Jeanne d'Arc was in an agony until the Dauphin should be crowned at Rheims and his body anointed and consecrated in the sacred rite which was so essential to this kingly religion; in a sense, it was her sole mission, and it is significant that her fortunes declined afterward. Louis XI had the Ampulla of holy oil brought from Rheims that his dying eyes might rest on it. 
Napoleon III sought to sanctify his usurpation by having himself anointed with the small, hard lump that was all that remained of the holy oil in 1853. The Kings of France, no matter how absolute their rule, had to be born and to die, had to eat and drink, take their recreation, and pray in the sight of the people. At the birth of her ill-fated Dauphin, Marie Antoinette almost died of suffocation, because of the press of the common people in her chamber, witnessing her lying-in; only the quick-witted action of a bystander, breaking a window to let in the fresh air, saved her. 
The double religious family to which Catherine belonged had had official relationships with the French monarchy. Louis XIII had died in the arms of Vincent de Paul. The Founder continued to serve his widow, Anne of Austria, during the early part of her Regency, both as her confessor and as an important member of the royal Council of Conscience, a body established for the reform of the Church. Under Louis XV and Louis XVI, the Vincentian Fathers had been royal chaplains at Versailles, and, after the restoration, had been privileged to form a guard of honor about the bier of Louis XVIII. 
That the vision of Christ the King had some intimate relationship with the end of the Bourbon dynasty seems evident, for Charles X was the last of the royal Bourbons; his cousin Louis Philippe, who succeeded him, belonged to a lateral line. Again we are confronted with the astonishing preoccupation of Heaven with the fortunes of France. 
Before leaving this vision, we must point out the noteworthy fact that Catherine Laboure was the first saint in modern times to be vouchsafed a vision of Christ as King. In the light of the great present-day devotion to the Kingship of Christ, we would seem justified in questioning whether the vision might not have a mystical meaning. In announcing the end of the oldest of monarchies, might not Christ have meant to point up the passing quality of all earthly authority, and to foretell present-day devotion to His Kingship as the index of the eternal quality of His own Reign? 
Certainly, however, Sister Laboure did not ponder thus in her heart. She knew only, as the common people know, that there was to be "a change in government," and that, as inevitably came to pass, "many miseries would follow." She knew only, as the common people know, that there had been too many changes of government in France over the last forty years, too many miseries following, and, with this instinctive knowledge of the people, she grew sad and feared. 
The statesmen and politicians of the land would have laughed at the long, prophetic thoughts of the little Sister, for national order seemed well established and peace reigned. Indeed, the government was enjoying the flush of esteem that had come with the brilliant victory of the French troops in Algiers, a victory which the nation had asked through the intercession of St. Vincent. In certain coffee houses and wine shops of Paris, however, there would have been no laughter. The brutal men assembled there would merely have smiled with grim satisfaction at this forecast of success for the revolution they were plotting.
(~from St. Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal by Fr. Joseph Dirvin)

Monday, November 25, 2019

St. Catherine of Alexandria

Today is traditionally the feast of the virgin martyr St. Catherine of Alexandria, one of the saints who spoke to St. Joan of Arc.
From the tenth century onwards veneration for St. Catherine of Alexandria has been widespread in the Church of the East, and from the time of the Crusades this saint has been popular in the West, where many churches have been dedicated to her and her feast day kept with great solemnity, sometimes as a holy-day of obligation. She is listed as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of mankind among the saints in Heaven; she is the patroness of young women, philosophers, preachers, theologians, wheelwrights, millers, and other workingmen. She was said to have appeared with Our Lady to St. Dominic and to Blessed Reginald of Orleans; the Dominicans adopted her as their special protectress. Hers was one of the heavenly voices heard by St. Joan of Arc. Artists have painted her with her chief emblem, the wheel, on which by tradition she was tortured; other emblems are a lamb and a sword. Her name continues to be cherished today by the young unmarried women of Paris.
Fr. Mark has a magnificent post about this great saint, who was removed from the Roman Calendar but has been put back again. To quote:
Saint Catherine of Alexandria vanished from the reformed Roman Calendar in the reform of 1969 and, Deo gratias, reappeared in 2002. Why? Part of the answer can be found, I think, by comparing the lovely old Collect for Saint Catherine with the one newly composed for the 2002 edition of the Roman Missal. In the traditional liturgy, which we celebrate here at Silverstream Priory, on November 25th the Church prays:

O God Who gavest the Law to Moses on the summit of Mount Sinai,
and didst miraculously place the body of Thy blessed virgin-martyr Catherine in the selfsame spot by the ministry of Thy holy angels,
grant, we beseech Thee, that her merits and pleadings
may enable us to reach the mountain which is Christ.


The Collect focuses on the image of Mount Sinai, the sacred mountain which prefigures Christ himself. The first phrase of the prayer takes up Exodus 31:18, the inspiration of the Great O Antiphon that we will be singing on December 18th:
O ADONAI, and Ruler of the House of Israel, who appeared unto Moses in the burning bush and gave him the Law on the summit of Sinai: come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!
(Read more.)

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Solemnity of Christ the King

It would be a grave error, on the other hand, to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since, by virtue of the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all things are in his power. Nevertheless, during his life on earth he refrained from the exercise of such authority, and although he himself disdained to possess or to care for earthly goods, he did not, nor does he today, interfere with those who possess them. Non eripit mortalia qui regna dat caelestia.[27]
Thus the empire of our Redeemer embraces all men. To use the words of Our immortal predecessor, Pope Leo XIII: "His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ."[28] Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society. "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved."[29] He is the author of happiness and true prosperity for every man and for every nation. "For a nation is happy when its citizens are happy. What else is a nation but a number of men living in concord?"[30] If, therefore, the rulers of nations wish to preserve their authority, to promote and increase the prosperity of their countries, they will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to the rule of Christ. What We said at the beginning of Our Pontificate concerning the decline of public authority, and the lack of respect for the same, is equally true at the present day. "With God and Jesus Christ," we said, "excluded from political life, with authority derived not from God but from man, the very basis of that authority has been taken away, because the chief reason of the distinction between ruler and subject has been eliminated. The result is that human society is tottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation."[31]
~Pope Pius XI "Quas Primas"

Friday, November 22, 2019

St. Cecilia


While in Rome, my mother bought me a small statue of Saint Cecilia, the Roman martyr from the turn of the early third century. It is based on the life-size one in her basilica, sculpted after her incorrupt body was exhumed in the sixteenth century. She is lying on her side in her dressing gown with her neck half-severed. Cecilia was killed in her bathroom, and the executioner who hacked at her neck was put off by her calm dignity. It took her three days to die. The prelude to her ordeal was an attempt to scald her, which was why she was found near the bath - one of those huge Roman baths. For Cecilia belonged to one of the ancient Roman families and possessed great wealth. She was young, beautiful, and desired, but she died because she refused to renounce her Savior.

While journeying through life it is easy to understand why so many of the martyrs were very young. When people are young they do not understand what it is to lose life. Sacrifices are easier when you do not fully grasp what is being renounced. There is a special valor, a reckless courage, possessed by young soldiers which old soldiers do not always have. And yet Christians of every age are called to be soldiers of Christ and martyrs in spirit if not in body. The fortitude that seemed so effortless in my grandparents in their old age I see now was no small thing.

As Abbot Gueranger wrote in The Liturgical Year, Vol XV :
The lesson will not be lost if we come to understand this much: had the first Christians feared, they would have betrayed us, and the word of life would never have come down to us; if we fear, we shall betray future generations, for we are expected to transmit to them the deposit we have received from our fathers.
Those who had faith and courage, whether it was Saint Cecilia in her agony, or my grandmothers in their nursing homes, where they spent many years before they died, have passed on to me a priceless gift.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Presentation of Mary

Presentation of Mary by Titian
Father Mark offers some history and thoughts to ponder on the feast commemorating Our Lady being taken to the Temple at the age of three by her parents.
In the hidden recesses of the old Temple, the Holy Ghost prepares the new Temple, the all-holy Virgin, to become the Mother of God . Destined to be the living Temple of the Word, Mary dwells in the Temple of the Old Dispensation. She hears the chanting of the psalms, the prophets, and the Law. Was it there that the Most Holy Virgin learned Psalm 118, the long litany of loving surrender to the Word? And was it from Psalm 118, held in her heart from so tender an age, that she drew her response to the message of the Angel, “Be it done unto me according to Thy Word” (Luke 1:38)?
There planted in the Lord, the dew of His Spirit made her flourish in the courts of her God, and like a green olive she became a tree, so that all the doves of grace came and lodged in her branches. (Saint John Damascene, Upon the Orthodox Faith, Book IV, ch. 15)
Virgin Mother of the Lamb
There Mary smells the fragrance of incense and burnt offerings. There she observes the faithful of Israel streaming towards Zion, filling the Temple, seeking the Face of the Lord. Priest, altar, and oblation are not unfamiliar to the Virgin who, gazing upon her Son, will recognize in Him the Eternal priest, the Altar of the New Covenant, the pure Victim, the holy Victim, the spotless Victim offered in unending sacrifice.
To Belong to God
In the seventeenth century — the age of France’s “mystical invasion” — the mystery of the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple captivated the hearts of Monsieur Olier and of others on fire with zeal for the holiness of the priesthood, for the beauty of the consecrated life, and for the worthy praise of God. The so-called French School of spirituality, marked above all by the imperative of adoration and the virtue of religion, gravitated to the feast of November 21st as to the purest liturgical expression of the desire to be offered to God, to belong to God, and to abide in God’s house.
Virgo Sacerdos
When, in 1641, Jean-Jacques Olier (1608 – 1657) established the seminary of Saint-Sulpice, he placed it under the patronage of the Virgin Mary in the mystery of her Presentation in the Temple. The Child Mary, hidden in the Temple, learns the meaning of sacrifice and oblation; she is the sacerdotal Virgin, prepared by the Holy Spirit to stand at the altar of the Cross united to her Son, High Priest and immolated Lamb. Under the influence of the French Sulpicians, many religious congregations, established after the horrors of the French revolution, chose the feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary as their foundation day, the day of religious profession, and of the renewal of vows. (Read more.)

This feast is a wonderful prelude to Advent. According to Dom Gueranger:
Mary, led to the Temple in order to prepare in retirement, humility, and love for her incomparable destiny, had also the mission of perfecting at the foot of the figurative altar the prayer of the human race, of itself ineffectual to draw down the savior from heaven. (From Abbot Gueranger's The Liturgical Year, Vol XV )
"For better is one day in thy courts above thousands. I have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, rather than to dwell in the tabernacles of sinners." Psalm 83:11 (The Vulgate)

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

St. Raphael Kalinowski

Today on the Carmelite calendar is commemorated a saint who worked for true ecumenism, without compromising his convictions. His motto was: "Mary, always and in everything." From the Discalced Friars website:
St. Raphael of St. Joseph was born as Joseph Kalinowski on September 1, 1835. In spite of losing his mother early on, Joseph was a happy child and grew up in a very warm and affectionate Christian home. The phrase, “To be a Catholic and to be a Pole,” summed up his youth. 
Because of his many intellectual gifts, Joseph left home to study agronomy in St. Petersburg at the age of sixteen. All around him the spirit of irreligion reigned, so Joseph himself stopped attending Mass and receiving the sacraments. After graduation he joined the Czarist army as an engineering officer. Joseph struggled with poor health and was sent to Warsaw to be treated at a sanitarium. There he became friends with a young woman who was on fire with her faith. Their conversations were so powerful that a process of conversion began in him. In Warsaw, he discovered the terrible plight of his countrymen under Imperialist Russia. When a patriotic cousin was going to be sent into exile in Siberia, Joseph sought to procure a crucifix for him from his sister. She agreed to give it to him on one condition: he must go to confession! He sheepishly agreed, bringing about the final push in his conversion. Afterward, he simply said: “It was an exhilarating experience.” 
Around this time, Joseph was asked to join the secret Polish government behind a plot of insurrection. He knew this was futile and would lead to much bloodshed, but he also saw that it was necessary to make this sacrifice for the sake of his fellow Poles. In very little time he was discovered, arrested, and sentenced to ten years of labor in the salt mines of Siberia. In the camp, 100-200 prisoners shared a barracks with only wooden planks for beds in the freezing cold. He took care of his fellow prisoners, giving money and food to those who needed it, often going hungry himself. He loved to take time alone for quiet prayer and also helped organize prayer services for the men. He said in a letter: “God empties my heart of all natural attachment, probably to fill it with things more pure, of which nothing surpasses the desire to do good to my neighbor.” In Siberia, he also felt a strong attraction toward religious life. 
After serving his sentence, Joseph was released and returned home a changed man. He was hired to tutor a young Polish nobleman, Prince Auguste Czartoryski. In Krakow, he met a cousin of the young prince who had become a Carmelite nun. She gave Joseph a book on the spirituality of St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross. Through his reading, he also discovered that Carmel was placed under Mary’s patronage in a unique way. His newfound love for Carmelite spirituality and deep devotion to Our Lady sealed the deal; he knew God was calling him to become a Carmelite. 
While the young Prince Auguste was saddened to be without his tutor, he also went on to religious life. Eventually, he entered the Salesians, receiving the habit from the hands of St. John Bosco. Father Auguste would help bring the Salesians to Poland and was himself beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004. Joseph entered the Discalced Carmelite Friars on November 26, 1877, at the age of forty-two and took the name Raphael of St. Joseph. He made solemn profession and was ordained a priest on January 15, 1882, in Czerna, Poland. (Read more.)


More HERE.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

On November 17 the Church gives us the feast of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231) who in her twenty-four years on earth embodied virtues which in today's world have almost ceased to exist: honesty, modesty, courage, chastity, self-denial and fidelity. She was not queen of Hungary, as many people think, but a princess. Her parents were the king and queen. Being royal in those days meant that your life was not your own. Marriages between two ruling families would form an alliance between countries and keep two countries from going to war. So from her infancy, Elizabeth was a living pledge of peace, since she was promised in marriage to the heir of Thuringia.

Elizabeth was sent to Germany at the age of four to be raised in the household of her betrothed, Louis of Thuringia, as was the practice of the time. It was heartbreaking for her parents to separate from their lively, dark-haired little girl, but they commended her to God and Our Lady. Louis' family disliked her, as was often the case with foreign royal brides, but he always cherished and protected his little fiancée. Elizabeth, although far from home, was a Magyar princess, and there was an intensity in her commitment to God and her husband which was repugnant to the placid Thuringians. They were married when Elisabeth was fourteen and Louis was about seventeen; he had inherited the dukedom of Thuringia from his father by then. Thuringia is roughly where Hesse-Darmstadt is now. In the thirteenth century it was a prosperous and powerful territory, although Louis was a duke, not a king.

Elizabeth had always shown a strong inclination toward piety as well as a great love of helping the needy and downtrodden. She opened a hospital for the poor in one of her castles and ran a soup kitchen. She was passionately in love with her husband, which is one of her most appealing aspects - she was a saint but she was also very much a woman. Louis truly loved his wife and sought for a fervent priest to guide her spiritual life. Unfortunately, her later confessor, the overzealous Conrad of Marburg, was excessively harsh with Elizabeth.

As Duchess, she established the Franciscan order in Thuringia and became herself a tertiary (with St. Louis of France, she is the patroness of tertiaries.) . Louis and Elizabeth had three children.

When Elizabeth was twenty, her husband died while on crusade. She ran shrieking through the castle, as if she had lost her mind. Her brother-in-law coveted the inheritance; he evicted Elizabeth and her three small children from their home. He forbade everyone in Thuringia to give them shelter. The little family had to hide in a pig pen from the rain. Poverty, loss and persecution did not embitter Elizabeth, as it would have embittered others, especially when it involved the suffering of her small children. She accepted everything from the hand of God.

Finally, someone got word to Elizabeth's father the King of Hungary, and he prevailed upon the Holy Roman Emperor to intervene. Elizabeth's lands were restored to her but she voluntarily chose holy poverty. After securing her children's welfare, she lived in a small room in the hospital she had founded and cared for the sick and the lepers. That would be like someone going to live with AIDS patients today.

Emperor Frederick begged for Elizabeth's hand in marriage but she refused. She died at the age of twenty-four and as she passed from this world a great light filled the room. Many miraculous cures were reported at her grave site. She was buried wearing the imperial crown which she had refused in life.

Thinking of St Elizabeth can help us when ever we feel afraid of poverty, or of being alone. Her spirit of humility and the renunciation of worldly honors can be imitated by all.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

St. Margaret of Scotland

St. Margaret (1045-1092) was a royal Saxon princess. From a dethroned and exiled family, riches and power meant nothing to her, for she saw how quickly such things can pass away. Consequently, she was deeply drawn to the monastic life. However, the Scottish King Malcolm Canmore sought her hand in marriage, so attracted was he by her beauty and virtue. They were married. Malcolm was on the wild side, but he and Margaret loved each other completely, and died three days apart.

As Queen of Scots, St. Margaret bore eight children, was devoted to the poor, and helped to reform the liturgy. As one article states:
Under Queen Margaret's leadership Church councils promoted Easter communion and, much to joy of the working-class, abstinence from servile work on a Sunday. Margaret founded churches, monasteries and pilgrimage hostels and established the Royal Mausoleum at Dunfermline Abbey with monks from Canterbury. She was especially fond of Scottish saints and instigated the Queen's Ferry over the Forth so that pilgrims could more easily reach the Shrine of St. Andrew.
Mass was changed from the many dialects of Gaelic spoken throughout Scotland to the unifying Latin. By adopting Latin to celebrate the Mass she believed that all Scots could worship together in unity, along with the other Christians of Western Europe. Many people believe that in doing this, it was not only Queen Margaret's goals to unite the Scots, but also Scotland and England in an attempt to end the bloody warfare between the two countries.
In setting the agenda for the church in Scotland Queen Margaret also ensured the dominance of the Roman Church over the native Celtic Church in the north of the country.
It is interesting how St Margaret championed the practices of the Roman rite over the Celtic traditions, although I have no doubt that the Celtic liturgy and devotions were quite beautiful. St. Margaret, however, saw the importance of harmony of worship for the people of her country, especially after the upheavals of their century.

Friday, November 15, 2019

All Carmelite Souls

On the Carmelite calendar to day is the feast of All Carmelite Souls. We pray for all those united in the Order of Carmel who have passed from this world. Here is a meditation on purgatory by Fr. Angelo, based on the writings of St. Catherine of Genoa. To quote:
Remembrance of the holy souls is self-forgetfulness. It is the cure . . . for them, and for us. Unless, God forbid, we go to hell, someday we will forget ourselves and remember the ultimate realities: God and our obligations toward one another. We can do it now or we can do it later. The souls in Purgatory would have us do it now.
They remember us. Do we remember them? This is no time to sleep. Rest will come, but until now, we have not toiled for God nearly enough.
The good men we have canonized at their funerals will not thank us for the kind and laudatory eulogies. We forget the sufferings of others so as to console our families, and ourselves and in this no one is served, not ourselves, not our families, and certainly not the souls of the departed. Oh, sweet sleep. How we crave rest, yet we will not find it unless we give it. During this November we would do well to do more than a casual visit to a cemetery or a write a check and conveniently hand it to our pastor for yearly masses, though both of these we should do. Indeed, nothing can be more efficacious than the Mass, except a Mass that is dedicated by the stipend of our own hearts.
The apostles slept through Our Lord’s agony and we sleep through the agony of the poor souls. It is so easy to do. Perhaps we could offer time with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, or more frequent communions for the grace to understand better the extremity of the situation and how the deliverance of the poor souls from their suffering will help protect us against our own peril, and how our imitation of their selfless desire for purity may save us from their present distress.
Love is not loved. But it need not be that way. Now is not the time for us to rest. (Read more.)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

All Carmelite Saints

"With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts." ~3 Kings 19:10

Today the Carmelite Order commemorates the members of our Order who have ascended the mountain of perfection to their heavenly home. They sought God alone, conversing with Him in the depths of their hearts. Our Lord once said to the Holy Mother St. Teresa: "I desire that you no longer hold conversation with men, but with angels," and in many ways those words can be applied to all who follow the Carmelite way. The habits of the interior life, of recollection and mortification, must be cultivated amid our daily duties in order to create an atmosphere conducive to contemplation. In the Rule of St. Albert, the medieval hermits were told: "In silence and hope shall your strength be." (Isaias 30:15) During the theophany on Mt. Horeb, Elias the prophet experienced the Lord God, not in the earthquake, or in the fire, but in a "whistling of gentle air." (3 Kings 19:12) It is in silence and solitude that generations of Carmelites have sought to live in imitation of Elias, "meditating day and night on the law of the Lord and watching in prayer." (Rule of St. Albert)

The primary example of the saints and blessed of the Order has been Our Lady, the Queen and Beauty of Carmel, both in her hidden life at Nazareth and in her anguish at the foot of the Cross. St. Teresa enjoined her nuns to meditate on the lives of Christ's Mother, and His saints. "We need to cultivate and think upon and seek the companionship of those who, though living on earth like ourselves, have accomplished such great deeds for God." (The Interior Castle, p.172)

Speaking particularly of the hermits of old, the Holy Mother exhorts her daughters in The Way of Perfection:
Let us remember our holy fathers of the past, those hermits whose lives we aim to imitate. What sufferings they endured! What solitude, cold, hunger, and what sun and heat, without anyone to complain to but God! Do you think that they were made of steel? Well, they were as delicate as we. (The Way of Perfection, p.81)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

St. Josaphat, Martyr

St Josaphat Saint of Ruthenia.jpg

It is the feast of St. Josaphat the Martyr. There is a fascinating passage in Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year, Vol XV for his feast, dealing with the conversion of the Russian Empire. The Liturgical Year was written long before the apparitions at Fatima in 1917, and so the mention of the "conversion of Russia," that is, the return of Russia and the East to the union with the Holy See, is remarkable. (No offense to my many dear Orthodox friends, but I hope our churches are truly united someday.) Here is what Dom Gueranger said over a hundred and fifty years ago, in the days of the tsars:
Russia becoming Catholic would mean an end to Islamism, and the definitive triumph of the cross on the Bosphorus, without any danger to Europe; the Christian empire in the East restored with a glory and a power hitherto unknown; Asia evangelized, not by a few poor isolated priests, but with the help of an authority greater than Charlemagne; and lastly, the Slavonic race brought into unity of faith and aspirations, for its own greater glory. This transformation will be the greatest event of the century that shall see its accomplishment; it will change the face of the world.
One might say the old monk was dreaming, but I thought it interesting in light of what followed.

More HERE.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Martinmas


It is the feast of St. Martin of Tours, the great thaumaturgus who converted large parts of France. The cloak of St Martin was one of the most precious relics of France, borne before her armies, hence the word chape gave rise to our English words "chaplain" and "chapel." St. Martin spoke out against capital punishment for heretics. The shrine of St. Martin at Tours was one of the holiest of French pilgrimage sites; he is considered one of the patrons of the Holy Face devotion which also originated there. According to New Advent:
The Church of France has always considered Martin one of her greatest saints, and hagiographers have recorded a great number of miracles due to his intercession while he was living and after his death. His cult was very popular throughout the Middle Ages, a multitude of churches and chapels were dedicated to him, and a great number of places have been called by his name. His body, taken to Tours, was enclosed in a stone sarcophagus, above which his successors, St. Britius and St. Perpetuus, built first a simple chapel, and later a basilica (470). St. Euphronius, Bishop of Autun and a friend of St. Perpetuus, sent a sculptured tablet of marble to cover the tomb. A larger basilica was constructed in 1014 which was burned down in 1230 to be rebuilt soon on a still larger scale This sanctuary was the centre of great national pilgrimages until 1562, the fatal year when the Protestants sacked it from top to bottom, destroying the sepulchre and the relics of the great wonder-worker, the object of their hatred. The ill-fated collegiate church was restored by its canons, but a new and more terrible misfortune awaited it. The revolutionary hammer of 1793 was to subject it to a last devastation. It was entirely demolished with the exception of the two towers which are still standing and, so that its reconstruction might be impossible, the atheistic municipality caused two streets to be opened up on its site. In December, 1860, skilfully executed excavations located the site of St. Martin's tomb, of which some fragments were discovered. These precious remains are at present sheltered in a basilica built by Mgr Meignan, Archbishop of Tours which is unfortunately of very small dimensions and recalls only faintly the ancient and magnificent cloister of St. Martin. On 11 November each year the feast of St. Martin is solemnly celebrated in this church in the presence of a large number of the faithful of Tours and other cities and villages of the diocese.
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