Thursday, October 31, 2019

All Hallows' Eve

For the ancient Celts, November 1 was Samhain, their New Year's day. It is not necessary to detail some of the more gruesome pagan customs which accompanied the festivities in pre-Christian times, customs which eventually disappeared as the Faith spread and took hold. Nevertheless, on a more positive note, the Celts believed that on the day in question the veil between the worlds grew thin, and one could easily pass from world to world, from time into eternity.

As Christians, in celebrating the Solemnity of All Saints, the sacred liturgy permits us to glimpse the place where the blessed ones dwell in light. We are led to think of all the dead, of the awe-inspiring realities of death, judgment, heaven and hell. On All Souls' Day we recall those who are still undergoing purgation in the realm beyond time. We, too, through the Mass and through prayer, pass from world to world, for all are present to God.

Here is an article (via A Conservative Blog for Peace) which elucidates on the history of All Hallows' Eve, the pagan versus Christian aspects and how the Irish, French, Germans, and English brought it all to North America. To quote:
Halloween can still serve the purpose of reminding us about Hell and how to avoid it. Halloween is also a day to prepare us to remember those who have gone before us in Faith, those already in Heaven and those still suffering in Purgatory. The next time someone claims Halloween is a cruel trick to lure our children into devil worship, I suggest you tell them the real origin of Halloween and let them know about its Catholic roots and significance. (By Fr Scott Archer)

All Hallows Eve: The Origins

The Christian feast of All Saints was not invented by the Roman Church to replace the pagan Celtic New Year celebration called Samhain, although eventually the two coincided. The feast of All Saints was originally celebrated on May 13 and later transferred to November 1. The Roman Pantheon, once the temple dedicated to all the gods, was dedicated on May 13, 609 to Our Lady Queen of All the Martyrs. It was then that the bones of many martyrs were taken from the catacombs and placed with honor in the Pantheon. As Abbot Gueranger describes in his masterpiece The Liturgical Year, Vol XV:
When Rome had completed the conquest of the world, she dedicated to all the gods, in token of her gratitude, the Pantheon, the most durable monument of her power. But when she herself had been conquered by Christ, and invested by him with the empire over souls, she withdrew her homage from vain idols and offered it to the Martyrs; for they, praying for her as she slew them, had rendered her truly eternal. To the martyrs then, and to Mary their Queen, she consecrated for ever, on the morrow of her merciful chastisement, the now purified Pantheon.
"Come forth from your dwellings, ye Saints of God, hasten to the place prepared for you." For three centuries the catacombs were the resting-place of our Lord's athletes, when they were borne from the arena. These valiant warriors deserved the honours of a triumph far better than did the great victors of old. In 312, however, Rome disarmed but not yet changed in heart, was not at all disposed to applaud the men who had conquered the gods of Olympus and of the Capitol. While the Cross surmounted her ramparts, the white-robed army still lay entrenched in the subterranean crypts that surrounded the city like so many outworks. Three centuries more were granted to Rome, that she might make satisfaction to God's justice, and take full cognizance of the salvation reserved for her by his mercy. In 609 the patient work of grace was completed; the Sovereign Pontiff Boniface IV uttered the word for the sacred crypts to yield up their treasures. It was a solemn moment, a forerunner of that wherein the Angel's trumpet-call shall sound over the sepulchres of the world. The successor of St. Peter, in all his apostolic majesty, and surrounded by an immense crowd, presented himself at the entrance of the catacombs. He was attended by eighteen chariots magnificently adorned for the conveyance of the martyrs. The ancient triumphal way opened before the Saints; the sons of the Quirites sang in their honour: "You shall come with joy and proceed with gladness; for behold, the mountains and the hills exult, awaiting you with joy. Arise, ye Saints of God, come forth from your hiding-places; enter into Rome, which is now the holy city; bless the Roman people following you to the temple of the false gods, which is now dedicated as your own church, there to adore together with you the majesty of the Lord."
Thus, after six centuries of persecution and destruction, the martyrs had the last word; and it was a word of blessing, a signal of grace for the great city hitherto drunk with the blood of Christians. More than rehabilitated by the reception she was giving to the witnesses of Christ, she was now not merely Rome, but the new Sion, the privileged city of the Lord. She now burned before the Saints the incense they had refused to offer to her idols; their blood had flowed before the very altar, on which she now invited them to rest, since the usurpers had been hurled back into the abyss. It was a happy inspiration that induced her, when she dedicated to the holy martyrs the temple built by Marcus Agrippa and restored by Severus Augustus, to leave upon its pediment the names of its primitive constructers and the title they had given it; for then only did the famous monument truly merit its name, when Christian Rome could apply to the new inhabitants of the Pantheon those words of the Psalm: I have said, you are gods. The thirteenth of May was the day of their triumphant installation.
Every dedication on earth reminds the Church, as she herself tells us, of the assembly of the Saints, the living stones of the eternal dwelling which God is building for himself in heaven. It is not astonishing, then, that the dedication of Agrippa's Pantheon, under the above-mentioned circumstances, should have originated the feast of today. Its anniversary, recalling the memory of the martyrs collectively, satisfied the Church's desire of honouring year by year all her blessed sons who had died for the Lord; for at an early date it became impossible to celebrate each of them on the day of his glorious death. In the age of peace there was added to the cultus of the martyrs that of the other just, who daily sanctified themselves in all the paths of heroism opened out to Christian courage. The thought of uniting these with the former in one common solemnity, which would supply for the unavoidable omission of many of them, followed naturally upon the initiative given by Boniface IV.
In 732, in the first half of that eighth century which was such a grand age for the Church, Gregory III dedicated, at St. Peter's on the Vatican, an oratory in honour of the Saviour, of his blessed Mother, of the holy Apostles, of all the holy Martyrs, Confessors, and perfect Just, who repose throughout the world. A dedication under so extensive a title did not, it is true, imply the establishment of our feast of All Saints by the illustrious Pontiff; yet from this period it began to be celebrated by divers churches, and that too on the first of November; as is attested, with regard to England, by Venerable Bede's Martyrology and the Pontifical of Egbert of York. It was far, however, from being universal, when in the year 835 Louis le Debonnaire, at the request of Gregory IV and with the consent of all the bishops of his realm, made its celebration obligatory by law. This decree was welcomed by the whole Church and adopted as her own, says Ado, with reverence and love.
The councils of Spain and Gaul, as early as the sixth century, mention a custom then existing, of sanctifying the commencement of November by three days of penance and litanies, like the Rogation days which precede the feast of our Lord's Ascension.
The main reason the Pope changed the feast of All Saints from May to November was that in the fall after the harvest there was more food to feed the pilgrims who came to Rome to venerate the relics of the martyrs. May 13 is still regarded as the feast of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, and it was on that day that the Blessed Mother first appeared at Fatima in 1917, at the beginning of the century when more Catholics would be killed for their beliefs than ever before.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Triduum of the Dead

From Stephanie Mann:
Tomorrow is Halloween--All Hallow's Eve--and the Liturgical Arts Journal has a post from the publisher of a prayer booklet for the day and evening of the beginning of these days of special remembrance for the faithful departed:
Halloween is a liturgical holiday. Anyone would be forgiven for not knowing that, because almost nobody keeps it that way anymore—to such a degree that some Catholics are of the opinion that we should wash our hands of the whole business. But Halloween has always belonged properly to the Church, and as such it should be made a key strategic objective in a cultural Reconquista. To help illustrate why, I’d like to walk through the day of October 31st, not as the world celebrates it now, but as the Latin Church celebrated it for centuries, listed in the Martyrology as Vigilia omnium Sanctorum.

The Thirty-first of October would traditionally have begun with the office of Matins before sunrise. Traditionally, weekdays in October Matins featured readings from the Books of Maccabees. But on the 31st, the readings switch to Luke 6 and Ambrose’s homily on the Beatitudes. These lessons appointed for Halloween come from the common “Of Many Martyrs”, and we will see this theme of the Beatitudes reappear not only later in the vigil day but also in the feast of All Saints to follow. . . .
Please read the rest there.(Read more.)

Halloween: Christian or Pagan?



 Here is an excellent bit of exegesis from Mystagogy:
The story is, in fact, more complicated. By the mid-fourth century Christians in the Mediterranean world were keeping a feast in honour of all those who had been martyred under the pagan emperors; it is mentioned in the Carmina Nisibena of St Ephraim, who died in about 373, as being held on 13 May. During the fifth century divergent practices sprang up, the Syrian churches holding the festival in Easter Week, and those of the Greek world preferring the Sunday after Pentecost. That of Rome, however, preferred to keep the May date, and Pope Boniface IV formally endorsed it in the year 609. By 800 churches in England and Germany, which were in touch with each other, were celebrating a festival dedicated to all saints upon 1 November instead. The oldest text of Bede’s Martyrology, from the eighth century, does not include it, but the recensions at the end of the century do. Charlemagne’s favourite churchman Alcuin was keeping it by then, as were also his friend Arno, bishop of Salzburg, and a church in Bavaria. Pope Gregory, therefore, was endorsing and adopting a practice which had begun in northern Europe. It had not, however, started in Ireland, where the Felire of Oengus and the Martyrology of Tallaght prove that the early medieval churches celebrated the feast of All Saints upon 20 April. This makes nonsense of Frazer’s notion that the November date was chosen because of ‘Celtic’ influence: rather, both ‘Celtic’ Europe and Rome followed a Germanic idea…. (Read entire post.)

Monday, October 28, 2019

St. Jude

The saint of desperate, hopeless and impossible cases is an old and dear friend to my family. I have lit many a votive light at his beautiful shrine. Let us pray to him for the Christians in the Middle East! As one St. Jude site says:
Saint Simon and Saint Jude were apostles, which means they were followers of Christ. After Christ's Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, the apostles travelled all over the world, bringing the word of Christ to the people. This is what Christ asked them to do, and he gave them instructions on how they were to travel and what they were to teach.

Saint Simon was called 'the Zealot' to keep his name different from Saint Peter (whose name was really Simon, Jesus called him 'Peter' which means 'rock') and from Saint Simeon, the brother of Saint James the Less. The name 'Zealot' means someone who is very energetic and dedicated to a cause. Saint Simon loved Jesus and His teachings and was very determined to spread the Good News of Christ's teachings. He traveled to Persia and was martyred there.

Saint Jude was the brother of Saint James the Less and Saint Simeon. There were several brothers and cousins among the Apostles - after all, if you had found the Messiah, who would you tell first, your own family or a stranger on the street? Andrew and Simon Peter were brothers, Saint James the Greater and Saint John the Evangelist were brothers, and Saint Jude, Saint James the Less (called that because he was shorter, not less important) and Saint Simeon were brothers.

These two apostles probably did not travel together. Saint Jude preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Syria, and Mesopotamia. When he was quite old, in 62 AD, he returned to Jerusalem to help with the selection of a bishop for Jerusalem. It is interesting to realise that in just 62 years, or maybe even less, the Church that Jesus Christ began by giving his life, and that the Apostles build and spread with their lives, had grown so large that it needed bishops to help the priests and deacons look after and teach the people.

When Saint Simeon, Saint Jude's brother was elected Bishop of Jerusalem, Saint Jude went back to travelling and teaching. He was martyred in Armenia, a country which did not completely convert to Christianity for another 250 years. (Read more.)
 St. Jude, pray for us!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

St. Raphael the Archangel


When thou didst pray with tears, and didst bury the dead, and didst leave thy dinner, and hide the dead by day in thy house, and bury them by night, I offered thy prayer to the Lord. And because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee. And now the Lord hath sent me to heal thee, and to deliver Sara thy son's wife from the devil. For I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord. ~Tobias 12:11-15

He is one of the mysterious seven who stand before God. More HERE. The late Fr. John Hardon wrote an essay on the on-going mission of St. Raphael in our lives, saying:
Thank God for the trials in your lives. Express your gratitude for the hardships and trials He gives us. Quoting the archangel Raphael, God sometimes enables us who love Him to love Him more through trials. How we need to hear this. God’s graces can be pleasant and enjoyable, but the graces can also be difficult and painful. Never deceive yourself that what is pleasing to us is displeasing to God. Raphael talked to Tobias’ son and is teaching us this.
Finally, Raphael told father and son to be at peace. As we have seen on Christmas morning, again not just one angel, but a host of angels tell us “Peace on earth to men of Good will”. Whatever else we should learn but from not only Raphael, but from God speaking through His angels, is that we should not just be at peace but cultivate peace in our minds and in our hearts. What is peace of mind? Peace of mind is the experience of knowing the truth. Behind that statement stands years of experience. One allegedly developed country after another has tried everything that this world can offer, but are not at peace. Why not? Because we are only as much at peace in our minds as our minds possess the truth. That is why when God became man, He identified Himself as, “I am the truth.”
What is the truth? Truth is our minds corresponding with reality. Yet, millions are living in a dream world of unreality. They do not posses the truth, and the truth, I repeat, is the agreement of the mind with reality. I keep telling one audience after another, statisticians tells us that ninety percent of reading American read is fiction. How we need to guard our minds from reading bewitched by the untruth.
How do we acquire the truth? We acquire it, of course, from God’s revelation. But it is one thing to say posses the truth-such as there are three persons in one God, or I know that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus Christ, the living God-man is present here on earth in the Holy Eucharist. But if we are to grow in this peace of mind, we are to grow in our understanding of the truth that God has revealed.
That is the main purpose of meditation. By prayerfully reflecting on God’s revealed truth we grow in our grasp and understanding of what God has revealed. And our minds grow in this blessed gift of peace of mind. But, as Raphael told father and son and is telling us, we are to have also peace of heart. A synonym for peace of heart is peace of will.
What is peace of heart? Peace of heart is the experience of doing God’s will. And that is the only true source and foundation of joy in this valley of tears. We shall have peace of heart only in the measure that we are doing God’s will. Ah, what an examination of conscience we must all make. How faithful to God’s will am I? How ready am I to accept the cross He sends me? How willing am I to share with others what God has so generously given me? How much attention do I give to prayer in my life? So the litany goes on. Peace of heart is the experience of doing the will of God, and that experience is the happiness of spirit. Know God’s will with the mind and doing it with the will.
As Christ later on will tell us, we are to be peace makers. We shall bring peace to others only if we are at peace ourselves. We will bring peace to others by sharing with them the truth which we believe. We shall bring peace to others only in the degree that we ourselves are generous, loyal and doing the will of God. All of this and far more is locked up in the most detailed and deepest revelation of an angel sent by God to teach us how we are to live our lives here on earth in anticipation of joining the choirs of angels in a heavenly eternity.
Lord of the angels, we thank you for providing for our needs by sending your angels to help us. Your angel Raphael’s name means “God heals,” send us your angels to heal us from such bodily infirmity as you wish us to have removed. But, dear Lord, heal us especially in our spirit from the sickness of soul so that healthy in mind and body we may bless you, the Lord of the angels, and that we may grow in our love for you, healed by you through your angels here on earth and that we may reach you and join you for all eternity.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Novena to St. Jude

It's that time of the year again. It is time to go to the Apostle and Martyr St. Jude Thaddeus with petitions for his aid in some hopeless and desperate situations and for certain hopeless and desperate persons (including myself).

Novena Prayer
Saint Jude, glorious apostle, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor has caused you to be forgotten by many. But the Church honors and invokes you universally as the patron of difficult and desperate cases, of things despaired of. Pray for me who am so miserable. Make use, I implore you, of that particular privilege accorded to you to bring visible and speedy help where help was almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations and sufferings, particularly — (here make your request) — and that I may bless God with you and all the elect throughout all eternity.

I promise you, O blessed JUDE, to be ever mindful of this great favor, and I will never cease to honor you as my special and powerful patron and do all in my power to encourage devotion to you. Amen.

Saint Jude, pray for us and for all who honor you and invoke your aid.

(Say the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be to the Father, 3 times.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Feast of Our Holy Mother St. Teresa


The following is an account of the death of the Great Teresa on October 4, 1582 at Alba de Tormes, by her secretary Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew.
Two days before she died, she asked to be given the Most Holy Sacrament, for she knew now that she was dying. On seeing that they were bringing it to her, see sat up in bed in such a spirited way that it looked as if she were going to get up, so they had to restrain her. Then she said, with great joy: "My Lord, it is time to set out...." She gave hearty thanks to God that she was a daughter of the Church and was dying as such, saying that through the merits of Christ she hoped to be saved, and she asked us all to beseech God to pardon her sins and to look, not at them, but only at His own mercy. With great humility she asked pardon of all, telling them not to take into account the things she had done and the bad example she had set them.
When the sisters saw that she was dying, they begged her to say something to them that would be to their profit, and she entreated them, for the love of God, to keep strictly to their Rule and Constitutions. There was nothing that she wished to add to this. Afterwards, she said little more save for repeating again and again that verse of David which says: Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus; cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies ("A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit, a humble and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise." Psalm 50:19, The Vulgate) Especially the phrase cor contritum-- this she kept repeating till she could say no more. Before this she had asked for Extreme Unction which she received with great devotion.

On St. Francis' Day, at nine o'clock in the evening, Our Lord took her to be with Him and left us all in such sorrow and grief that, if I had to describe it here, there would be a great deal to say. I heard a few things which the Holy Mother said before she expired, but so wonderful are they that I shall not set them down here. My superiors can relate them if they think it well to do so.


(from Msgr. Doheny's Selected Writings of St. Teresa)

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Dance of the Sun

October 13 marks the 101th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, when the sun swirled in the sky, a phenomenon witnessed by thousands of people. The three children-- Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta-- saw Our Lady appear as the joyful Virgin Mother, the Sorrowful Mother, and finally as Our Glorious Lady of Mount Carmel. They also saw St. Joseph in the sky, holding the Child Jesus. In his book entitled St. Joseph, Fatima, and Fatherhood, Monsignor Joseph A. Cirrincione offers some thought-provoking reflections.
The role of the priest in relation to Christ is strikingly analogous to the role of St. Joseph in relation to God the Father. Just as the Eternal Father willed to share His Fatherhood with St. Joseph...so Jesus willed to share His Fatherhood with the priest.... (p.28)
Likewise, "the sun stands out in a special way as a symbol and figure of God, and also of His Church...." Monsignor goes on to say that at Fatima "the 'miracle of the sun' represents not so much a threat of evils to come as it does a foreshadowing of the dethronement of God the Father, and an intimation of the appalling consequences inevitably to follow." One month after the "dance" of the sun in Fatima, the Communists took control of Russia.
The combination of atheism and secularism-- which practically speaking amounts to the universal and official rejection of the Fatherhood of God by mankind across the entire face of the earth....And I believe it was foreshadowed by the 'miracle of the sun' at Fatima in 1917.

[....]
Rejection of the Fatherhood of God by the vast majority of mankind inevitably has set in motion a chain reaction of consequences affecting fatherhood under every aspect that we have considered here. The notion of fatherhood in many families, for example, has been reduced to a biological fact. And the role of the father as the head of the family has completely gone out of style...the disintegration of the family inexorably and inevitably is leading to the disintegration of society itself....But the spirit of anti-fatherhood has entered even the Catholic Church. Recognition of the fatherhood of the Vicar of Christ...has eroded to an alarming degree...the role of priestly fatherhood is now coveted by women, seeking to escape the noble destiny which God has prepared for their sex, but which nevertheless they are taught to regard as drudgery. (pp.40-41)
Our Lady of Fatima's remedy for societal and moral ills is return to God throug the prayer of the rosary, consecration to her Immaculate Heart (symbolized by wearing the brown scapular), and the loving performance of our daily duties. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for Christians to perform the most basic duties of their individual states of life. Yet it is the fulfillment of our ordinary duties upon which our salvation depends. Let us have an ever increasing confidence in the prayers and protection of the Mother of Mercy.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Our Lady of the Pillar

"I dwelt in the highest places, and my throne is in a pillar of cloud." Ecclesiasticus 24:7
On this feast day, Columbus first glimpsed the New World, bringing with him a great devotion to Our Lady, as Plinthos explains:
The ship that brought Columbus was Holy Mary of the Immaculate Conception. Spanish Catholics have had a clear and unrelenting devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary for at least five hundred years.

Just thirty nine years later Our Lady herself from Guadalupe converted millions in New Spain to faith in Jesus Christ. There were countless tireless and very effective Spanish missionaries in the first century of the evangelization of America, including the Apostle of South America. It is no accident that the patroness of USA, therefore, is The Immaculate Conception. She was brought here on Columbus Day! (Read more.)

Friday, October 11, 2019

Mary, Tabernacle of God

In honor of the ancient feast of the Maternity of Mary. From Catholic Scot:
Which brings me to Mary and the Tabernacle of the Lord. The Tabernacle was that structure sitting at the heart of the nation of Israel where God dwelt among His people in a special manner. It first took shape as the Tent of Meeting at the time of Moses and later became the Temple of Solomon. There is no doubt that God dwelt in a special way too in Mary, the mother of the Son of God. I would suggest that the principles which underlay the construction of the first Tabernacle, made by human hands, also underlay the creation of Mary in the womb of her mother St Ann by the hand of God.

What were these principles? The details for the Tent of Meeting were laid out at some length in two passages of the Book of Exodus. Chapters 25-31 contain the plans outlined by the Lord to Moses on Mount Sinai and Chapters 35-40 describe its actual construction. Significantly the final verses of the final chapter of Exodus (40) concern themselves with God inhabiting the Tabernacle. It would take up to much space to go through every point here but there are some key aspects to highlight
  • Moses was not just told how to build the Tent but was shown its divine blueprint "Look well, and make everything in due accord with the pattern which has been shewn to thee on the mountain." (Exodus 25:40) Which means that before it existed on earth it was fully formed in God's mind i.e. it existed from eternity.
  • It was to be constructed of the best of all possible materials available, gold, silver, jewels, linen, wools and so on. " Provide thyself with spices, a stone of the best and choicest myrrh, and half a stone of cinnamon, and half a stone of scented cane, a stone, too, of cassia" (Exodus 30:23-24)
  • The most skilled craftsmen (and women) were to be employed on this work and the Lord would fill them with wisdom to complete their tasks. "And now the Lord said to Moses, Here is the name of the man I have singled out to help thee, Beseleel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Juda. I have filled him with my divine spirit, making him wise, adroit, and skilful in every kind of craftsmanship...and I have inspired the hearts of all the craftsmen with skill to carry out the commands which I have given thee." (Exodus 30:1-6)
(Read more.)

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Montjoie Saint Denis!

The Oriflamme
St. Denis carrying his own head
It is the feast of St. Denis the martyr, whose name was the battle-cry of France. Montjoie Saint-Denis referred to the oriflamme, the ancient banner of the kings of France. Saint Denis and his companions died from decapitation on Montmartre, now in Paris, as would many Parisians perish fifteen hundred years later. The Basilica of Saint Denis is where St. Denis was buried along with most of the kings and queens of France, until the tombs were despoiled during the French Revolution. The Carmel of St. Denis was where Blessed Thérèse of Saint Augustine sought the rigors and joys of the monastic life. From New Advent:
Bishop of Paris, and martyr. Born in Italy, nothing is definitely known of the time or place, or of his early life. His feast is kept on 9 October. He is usually represented with his head in his hands because, according to the legend, after his execution the corpse rose again and carried the head for some distance. That, however, while still very young he was distinguished for his virtuous life, knowledge of sacred things, and firm faith, is proved by the fact that Pope Fabian (236-250) sent him with some other missionary bishops to Gaul on a difficult mission. The Church of Gaul had suffered terribly under the persecution of the Emperor Decius and the new messengers of Faith were to endeavour to restore it to its former flourishing condition. Denis with his inseparable companions, the priest Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius, arrived in the neighbourhood of the present city of Paris and settled on the island in the Seine. The earliest document giving an account of his labours and of his martyrdom (Passio SS. Dionsyii, Rustici et Eleutherii), dating from the end of the sixth or the beginning of the seventh century and wrongly attributed to the poet Venantius Fortunatus, is interwoven with much legend, from which, however, the following facts can be gleaned. 
On the island in the Seine Denis built a church and provided for a regular solemnization of the Divine service. His fearless and indefatigable preaching of the Gospel led to countless conversions. This aroused the envy, anger and hatred of the heathen priests. They incited the populace against the strangers and importuned the governor Fescenninus Sisinnius to put a stop by force to the new teaching. Denis with his two companions were seized and as they persevered in their faith were beheaded (about 275) after many tortures. Later accounts give a detailed description of the confessors' sufferings. They were scourged, imprisoned, racked, thrown to wild beasts, burnt at the stake, and finally beheaded. Gregory of Tours simply states: "Beatus Dionysius Parisiorum episcopus diversis pro Christi nomine adfectus poenis praesentem vitam gladio immente finivit" (Hist. Franc. I, 30). The bodies of the three holy martyrs received an honourable burial through the efforts of a pious matron named Catulla and a small shrine was erected over their graves. This was later on replaced by a beautiful basilica (egregium templum) which Venantius celebrated in verse (Carm. I, ii). (Read more.)


Monday, October 7, 2019

Our Lady of Victory

Battle of Lepanto
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary
Our Lady of Victory with St. Justina
Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth....for that thou hast not spared thy life, by reason of the distress and tribulation of thy people, but hast prevented our ruin in the presence of our God....Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel, thou art the honour of our people....(Judith 13:23-25, 15:10 )
It is the anniversary of the battle of Lepanto, now known as the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Victory. The young girl holding the dagger and kneeling before Our Lady in the painting (above) is St. Justina the Virgin-Martyr, on whose feast was the day of the victory.

Here is a history of the rosary.

Don Marco discusses the comfort of the beads.
Sacramentals should be things of beauty. The soul thrives in an environment of chaste loveliness, harmony, and order. Finely crafted beads invite to prayer. There is no shame in going to God by means of the senses He has given us. The Word became flesh so that we, in our flesh and not in spite of it, might be able to go to God. (Read more.)

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Novena to Our Holy Mother St. Teresa of Jesus


Novena to St. Teresa of Avila by St. Alphonsus of Liguori

Beginning on October 7 and ending on October 15, here is a novena in honor of the Feast of Our Holy Mother St. Teresa. Let us pray for vocations.

First Day: O most amiable Lord Jesus Christ! We thank Thee for the great gift of faith and of devotion to the Holy Sacrament, which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits and by those of Thy faithful spouse, to grant us the gift of a lively faith, and of a fervent devotion toward the most Holy Sacrament of the altar; where Thou, O infinite Majesty! hast obliged Thyself to abide with us even to the end of the world, and wherein Thou didst so lovingly give Thy whole Self to us.
Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.
V. St. Teresa, pray for us:
R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Second Day: O most merciful Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the great gift of hope which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy holy spouse, to give us a great confidence in Thy goodness, by reason of Thy Precious Blood, which Thou hast shed to its last drop for our salvation.
Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.
V. St. Teresa, pray for us:
R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Third Day: O most loving Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the great gift of love which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy most loving spouse, to give us the great, the crowning gift of Thy perfect love.
Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.
V. St. Teresa, pray for us:
R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Fourth Day: O most sweet Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the gift of great desire and resolution which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa, that she might love Thee perfectly; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy most generous spouse, to give us a true desire, and a true resolution of pleasing Thee the utmost of our power.
Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.
V. St. Teresa, pray for us:
R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Fifth Day: O most kind Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the great gift of humility which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy most humble spouse, to grant us the grace of a true humility, which may make us ever find our joy in humiliation, and prefer contempt before every honour.
Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.
V. St. Teresa, pray for us:
R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Sixth Day: O most bountiful Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the gift of devotion towards Thy sweet mother, Mary and her holy spouse, Joseph, which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy most dear spouse, to give us the grace of a special and tender devotion towards Thy most holy mother, Mary, and towards Thy beloved foster-father, Joseph.
Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.
V. St. Teresa, pray for us:
R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Seventh Day: O most loving Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the wonderful gift of the wound in the heart which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy seraphic spouse, to grant us also a like wound of love, that, henceforth, we may love Thee and give our mind to the love of nothing but Thee.
Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.
V. St. Teresa, pray for us:
R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Eighth Day: O most beloved Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the eminent gift of the desire for death which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy most constant spouse, to grant us the grace of desiring death, in order to go and possess Thee eternally in the country of the blessed.
Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.
V. St. Teresa, pray for us:
R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Ninth Day: Lastly, O dearest Lord Jesus Christ! we thank Thee for the gift of the precious death which Thou didst grant to Thy beloved Teresa, making her sweetly to die of love; we pray Thee, by Thy merits, and by those of Thy most affectionate spouse, to grant us a good death; and if we do not die of love, yet, that we may at least die burning of love for Thee, that so dying, we may be able to go and love Thee for evermore with a more perfect love in heaven.
Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.
V. St. Teresa, pray for us:
R. That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray: Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation! that as we rejoice in the commemoration of the blessed virgin Teresa, so we may be nourished by her heavenly doctrine, and draw from thence the fervour of a tender devotion; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Ame

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St. Joseph

While Pope Leo XIII's prayer to St. Michael is known, his prayer to St. Joseph has been almost forgotten. The pontiff intended it to be recited after the Holy Rosary, especially in the month of October. (Via East of the Sun, West of the Moon.)

Friday, October 4, 2019

St. Francis of Assisi


It is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, and so let us pray for Our Holy Father on his name-day. Here is an excerpt from one of his letters:
It was through his archangel, Saint Gabriel, that the Father above made known to the holy and glorious Virgin Mary that the worthy, holy and glorious Word of the Father would come from heaven and take from her womb the real flesh of our human frailty. Though he was wealthy beyond reckoning, he still willingly chose to be poor with his blessed mother. And shortly before his passion he celebrated the Passover with his disciples. Then he prayed to his Father saying: Father, if it be possible, let this cup be taken from me. 
Nevertheless, he reposed his will in the will of his Father. The Father willed that his blessed and glorious Son, whom he gave to us and who was born for us, should through his own blood offer himself as a sacrificial victim on the altar of the cross. This was to be done not for himself through whom all things were made, but for our sins. It was intended to leave us an example of how to follow in his footsteps. (Read more.)

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Feast of the Guardian Angels

Here is a brief history of the liturgical feast of the Holy Guardian Angels:
This feast, like many others, was local before it was placed in the Roman calendar.... Paul V placed it (27 September, 1608) among the feasts of the general calendar as a double "ad libitum" (Bäumer, op. cit., II, 277)....At the request of Ferdinand of Austria, afterwards emperor, he made them obligatory in all regions subject to the Imperial power; to all other places he conceded them ad libitum, to be celebrated on the first available day after the Feast of the Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel. It is believed that the new feast was intended to be a kind of supplement to the Feast of St. Michael, since the Church honoured on that day (29 September) the memory of all the angels as well as the memory of St. Michael.... Among the numerous changes made in the calendar by Clement X was the elevation of the Feast of Guardian Angels to the rank of an obligatory double for the whole Church to be kept on 2 October, this being the first unoccupied day after the feast of St. Michael....Finally Leo XIII (5 April, 1883) favoured this feast to the extent of raising it to the rank of a double major.
The following is an old English bed-time prayer for children, of which there are many variations:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
Bless this bed that I lay on.
Before I lay me down to sleep,
I give my soul to Christ to keep.
Four corners to my bed,
Four angels 'round my head,
One to watch, one to pray,
And two to bear my soul away.
I go by sea, I go by land,
The Lord made me with his right hand,
If any danger come to me,
Sweet Jesus Christ, deliver me.
For he's the branch and I'm the flower,
Pray God send me a happy hour,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Needless to say, the belief in angel guardians is of ancient origin and has a strong Biblical foundation, as the Book of Exodus bears witness:
20 Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared. 21 Take notice of him, and hear his voice, and do not think him one to be contemned: for he will not forgive when thou hast sinned, and my name is in him. 22 But if thou wilt hear his voice, and do all that I speak, I will be an enemy to thy enemies, and will afflict them that afflict thee. 23 And my angel shall go before thee.... (Exodus 23:20-23)
Recta Ratio has some pictures and some thoughts as well. More HERE.

And here is the prayer duet from the opera Hansel and Gretel.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

St.Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face


With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts. (3 Kings 19:10)~Motto of the Carmelite Order

Today is the feast of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (1873-1897), whom Pope Pius XI hailed as being "the greatest saint of modern times." Her Little Way of love and self-surrender is vital to our modern materialistic age because she, like the sister of Lazarus, sought the "one thing necessary." (Luke 10:42) As she wrote to her sister Celine in 1889:
There is only one thing to do during the night, the one night of life which will come only once, and this is to love, to love Jesus with all the strength of our heart and to save souls for Him that He may be loved! (General Correspondence, Vol.I, ICS Publications, p.588)
In order to save souls, she was willing to embrace every suffering that came her way, from the petty annoyances of daily existence, to the physical and mental torments of the last months of her earthly life. In a letter to Celine, she exclaims:
Sanctity does not consist in saying beautiful things, it does not consist in thinking them, in feeling them!...It consists in suffering and suffering everything...A day will come when the shadows will disappear, and there will remain only joy, inebriation...Let us profit from our one moment of suffering...Let us see only each moment!...A moment is a treasure...one act of love will make us love Jesus better...it will bring us closer to Him during the whole of eternity...! (Ibid. pp 557-558)
Part of Saint Thérèse's secret of sanctity is that she kept the thought of eternity ever before her. "Just as this year passed, so also will our life pass, and soon we shall say: 'It is gone.' Let us not waste our time, soon eternity will shine for us." (Ibid, p.602)

Her profound realization of the shortness of life and her zeal for souls combined with a thirst for martyrdom. Through God's grace, she found the courage to face humiliations and disappointments that would have embittered lesser souls. Her father's mental deterioration and his committal to an asylum was a heavy trial for the teenage nun. Nevertheless, she wrote to Celine:
Let us die as martyrs! Unkown martyrdom, known to God alone, which the eye of the creature cannot cannot discover, a martyrdom without honor, without triumph....That is love pushed to the point of heroism....Let us hurry to fashion our crown; let us stretch forth our hand to seize the palm. And if we love much, if we love Jesus with a passion, He will not be so cruel as to leave us for a long time on this earth of exile....Celine, during the short moments that remain to us, let us not lose our time...let us save souls! (Ibid, p.578)
During her fatal illness, Saint Thérèse reflected upon upon a glass of brightly covered but foul-tasting medicine, comparing it to her own life.
My life in the eyes of others must have seemed to be filled with the most pleasant colors....To them, I seemed to be drinking an exquisite draft, but in reality it was bitterness. I say bitterness and yet my life has not been bitter, for I have been able to find joy and sweetness in all that bitterness. (Father Jamart, The Complete Spiritual Doctrine of St. Therese , p.217)
Truly her love for Christ and souls was heroic. In her autobiography, St. Thérèse wrote: "When thinking of the torments which will be the lot of Christians at the time of the Anti-christ, I feel my heart leap with joy, and I would like these torments to be reserved for me." (The Story of a Soul, trans. by Father John Clarke, p. 193) Such zeal led her to offer herself as a victim to the Merciful Love of God in order to save souls, longing to spend her heaven "doing good upon earth." (Ibid, p.263)

God has honored the desires of His Little Flower. The efficacy of her intercession has been experienced in every part of the globe; her writings have been pondered by popes, saints, and scholars; she has drawn many souls to holiness by her prayer and example. Her Christ-like humility is the antidote for the intellectual pride of our time. Her zeal counteracts our sloth and dullness of mind, so suffocated are we by an excess of comforts and stimuli. She is a prophet of eternal beatitude; a guide to heaven for those on the brink of despair. She is Carmel's gift to modern man. How appropriately a Carmelite nun expressed it in one of the hymns for October 1:
Yet joy itself could not portray
The surge of her immense desire

Nor cloister walls have strength to stay

A love that swept the world like fire.

(Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD)
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