Saturday, February 29, 2020

An Icon of Our Lady of Walsingham

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

More HERE.

Friday, February 28, 2020

A Physician’s Analysis of the Crucifixion

The Crucifixion of Christ by Andrea Mantegna
From YWAM:
Several years ago I became interested in the physical aspects of the passion, or suffering, of Jesus Christ when I read an account of the crucifixion in Jim Bishop’s book, The Day Christ Died. I suddenly realized that I had taken the crucifixion more or less for granted all these years – that I had grown callous to its horror by a too-easy familiarity with the grim details. It finally occurred to me that, as a physician, I did not even know the actual immediate cause of Christ’s death. The gospel writers do not help much on this point.
Since crucifixion and scourging were so common during their lifetimes, they undoubtedly considered a detailed description superfluous. For that reason we have only the concise words of the evangelists: “Pilate, having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to them to be crucified … and they crucified Him.”
Despite the gospel accounts’ silence on the details of Christ’s crucifixion, many have looked into this subject in the past. In my personal study of the event from a medical viewpoint, I am indebted especially to Dr. Pierre Barbet, a French surgeon who did exhaustive historical and experimental research and wrote extensively on the topic.
An attempt to examine the infinite psychic and spiritual suffering of the Incarnate God in atonement for the sins of fallen man is beyond the scope of this article. However, the physiological and anatomical aspects of our Lord’s passion we can examine in some detail. What did the body of Jesus of Nazareth actually endure during those hours of torture? (Read more.)

Thursday, February 27, 2020

I Love Lent

Lent is one of the best seasons of the year for me. I never look forward to it the way I do to Christmas, but once Lent is underway, it is a happy and peaceful time. Facing reality can be both healing and satisfying. Lent is a public acknowledgment that life is a valley of tears, the world is a dangerous place, and we are all going to die. It is like one big AA meeting where, instead of admitting to alcoholism, everyone confesses to being a sinner, a dysfunctional being who has made a mess of his life and the lives of others. But Lent is here; recovery has begun. It is time to clean up the spilled milk, pick up the pieces, and start all over again. Lent is the hour of truth; staring the truth in the face can be disarming but it can also produce the peace and joy that only penitence in Christ can bring.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Ash Wednesday

Remember, man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.
Our forty days of penance commence with the reception of blessed ashes. The words from the book of Genesis (3:19) help us to think of the shortness of life, of our last end, and of that moment when each shall come before God to be judged. "Remember," wrote Saint Teresa of Avila, "that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; that there is only one glory, which is eternal."

Since Old Testament times, ashes have been a symbol of sorrow for sin. "For I did eat ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping." (Psalm 101:10) In the early Church, only "public" sinners, those guilty of murder, adultery, or idolatry, who had formally repented, would receive ashes on Ash Wednesday. During Lent, they would humbly kneel at the doors of the church, not entering until they were given absolution on Holy Thursday. The famous liturgist, Abbot Gueranger, gives a description of the ceremony "of the Wednesday in Quinquagesima:"
Before the Mass of the day began, they [the penitents] presented themselves at the church....The priests received the confession of their sins, and then clothed them in sackcloth, and sprinkled ashes on their heads...the clergy and the faithful prostrated themselves and recited aloud the seven penitential psalms. A procession, in which the penitents walked barefooted, then followed; and on its return, the bishop then addressed these words to the penitents: 'Behold, we drive you from the doors of the church by reason of your sins and crimes, as Adam, the first man, was driven out of paradise....' The clergy then sang several responsories, taken from the book of Genesis....The doors were shut, and the penitents were not to pass the threshold until Maunday Thursday, when they were to come to receive absolution. (The Liturgical Year, Vol IV , p 204-205)
During the Middle Ages, it became the custom for all of the faithful to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday. We are blessed that so many indulgences can now be gained with very little effort on our part. How light are the penances now demanded of us; what little fasting is required of us! Perhaps the best penance is the patient and loving endurance of hardships and sorrows which come our way; those unchosen mortifications can be heavy enough. Interiorly, we can share the contrition of the brave penitents of old by receiving the ashes with great love for Christ and a determination to follow Him, no matter what. It is time for a new beginning, and for trying, again, to be a disciple.

Lent is like a retreat for the entire church in which all Christians strive more vigorously against the world, the flesh, and the devil, our spiritual enemies. The three works which Holy Mother Church exhorts us to perform during Lent in order to overcome those enemies are prayer, fasting, and alms giving. Through prayer, we grow in strength to conquer the evil one. It is important to make more time for prayer during Lent because it arouses compunction, charity, humility, and other dispositions without which the other two practices would be empty of merit.

We fast in order to imitate Our Lord's forty day fast in the desert. Unlike Him, we need to tame the concupiscence of the flesh, acquire self-discipline, and atone for our personal sins. It was by breaking God's commandment to abstain from eating a certain fruit that Adam and Eve lost the earthly paradise. Both Moses and Elias fasted for forty days before encountering the living God. (Exodus 24:18 and 3 Kings 19:8)

In former times, every day of Lent (except for Sundays and first-class feasts) was a fast day. Now, only two fast days remain -- Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are also days of abstinence from meat, as are all Fridays of Lent. Many people think that the Second Vatican Council did away with Friday abstinence, but it did not. Every Friday of the year is a day of abstinence from meat unless the bishops of the country decide to substitute another form of penance. In the United States, it is up to every individual to perform some other Friday penance if they are not able to abstain from meat. However, every Friday of Lent remains a day of strict abstinence.

The third Lenten good work is almsgiving, by which we overcome the "world," that is, the love of riches, luxuries, and honors. Through almsgiving we not only help the poor, the missions, and the temporal needs of the Church, but we mortify any inordinate desires for material things. By having Masses offered, our alms can assist the "Church Suffering" in purgatory. As the aged Tobias said to his son: "Prayer is good with fasting and alms more than more than to lay up treasures of gold. For alms delivereth from death, and...purgeth away sins." (Tobias 12:8-9) As Jesus commands in the Gospel for Ash Wednesday: "Let not your right hand know what your left hand is doing." (Matthew 6:3) It is most important that all our good works are accompanied by charity, humility, and the desire to please God alone.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday is the feast of the Holy Face of Jesus. Don Marco has some excellent meditations on this beautiful devotion. To quote:
Face and Person are synonymous, not only by reason of the Greek etymology, but even more because there is nothing more personal, nothing more precious, nothing dearer than the face of a loved one. The psalmist’s cry, “I long to see Thy Face” (Ps 26:8), is the cry of every lover to his beloved, the cry of child to parent, of parent to child, and of friend to friend. The most poignant moment in the rites of death and burial comes when the face of the deceased is covered for the last time. We cherish photographs of those we love, but what is a photograph without a face? The relationships that we call “heart to heart” never tire of the “face to face.”
The Holocaust that took place during the Second World War was, at the deepest level, an attempt to erase the dignity and uniqueness of each person, a sin against the Face of Christ, the Holy Face mirrored in millions of Jewish faces. Every sin against the dignity of the human person is a sin against the Face of Christ. Every act of violence, irreverence, or scorn directed against the human person is a sin against the Face of Christ. The abortion that prevents a child’s face from seeing another human face in the light of day is a sin against the Face of Christ. Torture and cruel ridicule are sins against the Face of Christ. The hard, stony gaze that looks at a person without seeing him is a sin against the Face of Christ. The eyes that judge, the look that condemns, is a sin against the Face of Christ. The refusal to see Christ in the faces of the sick, the stranger, and the immigrant is a sin against his Holy Face.
Reparation is the prayer that seeks to make whole what is fragmented by putting love where there is no love, by gazing with reverence upon what has been disdained, by allowing our eyes to rest on “One from whom men hide their faces” (Is 53:3). The extraordinary thing about the prayer of reparation is that it is healing not only for the one offended but for the offender as well. If by sin we offend the Face of Christ, by reparation to the Holy Face we are healed of our sins. “Thou has set our iniquities before thee,” says the psalmist, “our secret sins in the light of Thy Face” (Ps 89:8).

The prayer of reparation is most at home in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The light that shines from the Eucharistic Face of Christ heals us sinners, and heals those against whom we have sinned. The love we bring to the Eucharistic Face of Christ reaches every human face. The prayer of reparation is the veil of Veronica lifted to the face of Christ in His Passion; it is the hand that seeks to wipe away every disfiguring stain of filth, of blood, and of tears. (Read more.)
The image to the left is the representation of the imprint of Our Lord's face on the Veronica veil, as it is venerated in the Carmelite Order, and propagated by Sister Marie de Saint Pierre and Venerable Leo Dupont.

Here is the prayer of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux to the Holy Face:
O Jesus, who in Thy bitter Passion didst become "the most abject of men, a man of sorrows," I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead; but now it has become for me as if it were the face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize Thy infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men. The tears which well up abundantly in Thy sacred eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, whose adorable Face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy divine image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.
Another site with everything about the Holy Face devotion is HERE.And more HERE.

Here is a formula from the ancient Ambrosian liturgy, as quoted by Abbot Gueranger in The Liturgical Year for Shrove Tuesday:
Sweet is this present life, but it passes away; terrible, O Christ is thy judgment, and it endures forever. Let us, therefore, cease to love what is unstable, and fix our thought on what is eternal: saying: Christ, have mercy upon us!
Now the time has come to go into the desert, the desert of Lent.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Preparing for Lent

Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Here is a meditation by a Carmelite tertiary who shall be known on this blog as Mi Amigo:
Our first parents ate, against the will of our Father, the forbidden fruit. What is the fruit? We might consider, "Is the 'fruit' of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil the birth of “conscience”? Prior to eating the fruit, Adam and Eve did not have any knowledge of evil in their nakedness. Was their realization of “something wrong” in their self-exposure the birth of human conscience?
The Banishment of Adam and Eve by Masaccio 
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1776, states, "Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment….For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God….His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."

In the human heart, God inscribes his Law. In the heart, we are either single-minded toward the will, the law, of God, or we are double-minded, divided in ourselves between God and the world. The season of Lent is upon us, a time of reflection, to turn within to our most secret core and sanctuary, our conscience, and listen to the voice of God echoing in our depths, a time to repent from our double-mindedness and, a time of conversion, to re-commit ourselves with single-mindedness to the will and love of God in those areas of our life to which our conscience directs us.

This Lenten season, let us turn within and from our hearts pray as Thomas a Kempis, "O God my Truth, make me one with you in eternal love. Often I become weary with reading and hearing many things. You are all that I want and desire. Let all teachers be mute and all creation keep silence before you. Speak to me, You and You alone."
Jesus in Gethsemane by Carl Bloch

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Quinquagesima Sunday

The Caravan of Abraham by James Tissot: "And the Lord said to Abram: Go forth out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and out of they father's house, and come into the land which I shall shew thee." Genesis 12:1

It is Quinquagesima Sunday. According to New Advent:
The period of fifty days before Easter. It begins with the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, called Dominica in Quinquagesima....
For many early Christians it was the beginning of the fast before Easter....For some, Quinquagesima marked the time after which meat was forbidden....In many places this Sunday after and the next two days were used to prepare for Lent by a good confession; hence in England we find the names Shrove Sunday and Shrovetide.
As the days before Lent were frequently spent in merry-making, Benedict XIV by the Constitution "Inter Cetera" (1 Jan., 1748) introduced a kind of Forty Hours' Devotion to keep the faithful from dangerous amusements and to make some reparation for sins committed.

In the words of Dom Gueranger for Quinquagesima Sunday:
We are commanded to use this world as if we used it not; to have an abiding conviction of our not having here a lasting city, and of the misery and danger we incur when we forget that death is one day to separate us from everything we possess in this life.
~from Abbot Gueranger's The Liturgical Year, Vol. IV
More HERE.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto

 Saint Jacinta Marto died a hundred years ago today. Our Lady told Jacinta that she would die alone in a hospital but that she, Our Lady, would come and take her to heaven. From EWTN:
Following the miracle of the sun, Jacinta complied with many requests for her intercessions. On one occasion she seems to have bilocated, in order to help a wayward youth find his way home. Lost in a stormy wood, he had knelt and prayed, and Jacinta appeared and took him by the hand, while she was at home praying for him.

When she came down with influenza, she was removed from her family to a hospital a few miles away. She did not complain, because the Blessed Mother had forewarned her that she would go to two hospitals, not to be cured, but to suffer for the love of God and reparation for sinners. She stayed in the first hospital for two months, undergoing painful treatments, and then was returned home. She developed tuberculosis and was sent to Lisbon, first to a Catholic orphanage. There she was able to attend Mass and see the Tabernacle, and she was happy. But her stay there was short. She was soon transferred to the second hospital prophesied by the Blessed Mother, where Jacinta was to make her final offering in dying alone. Her body came to rest in the Sanctuary built at the Cova da Iria, where the Lady had appeared to her. (Read more.)
 More HERE.

Saint Francisco died in the great flu edpidemic on April 4, 1919, the day after receiving his First Communion. From Fr. Mark:
The words of the Angel of Fatima,  “Console your God”,  engraved themselves in young Francisco’s heart. They became the compelling inspiration of his short life of eleven years (1908–1919). Francisco wanted, more than anything else, to be the Consoler of the Hidden Jesus. He did this by praying rosary after rosary, and by spending hours close to the tabernacle of the parish church.

Readers familiar with the story of Fatima will recall that on 13 May 1917, after hearing the Lady say, “I come from heaven”, Lucia asked if she and her little companions would go to heaven. The Lady replied that both Lucia and Jacinta would go to heaven , but that Francisco would need to say many rosaries first.

This enigmatic utterance concerning Francisco has, over the years, given rise to a certain amount of speculation as to its meaning. Various interpretations have been ascribed to it, but I found none of them satisfying. Some commentators even suggested that Francisco was somehow held back in his spiritual development and, therefore, needed more prayer than his sister Jacinta and his cousin Lucia. (Read more.)

More HERE.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Thirty Days Prayer to St. Joseph

Here is a devotion in honor of the most chaste spouse of Our Lady, the foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us offer it for the Christians who are being persecuted throughout the world.
Ever blessed and glorious Joseph, kind and loving father, and helpful friend of all in sorrow!  You are the good father and protector of orphans, the defender of the defenseless, the patron of those in need and sorrow.  Look kindly on my request.  My sins have drawn down on me the just displeasure of my God, and so I am surrounded with unhappiness.  To you, loving guardian of the Family of Nazareth, do I go for help and protection.

Listen, then, I beg you, with fatherly concern, to my earnest prayers, and obtain for me the favors I ask.

I ask it by the infinite mercy of the eternal Son of God, which moved Him to take our nature and to be born into this world of sorrow.

I ask it by the weariness and suffering you endured when you found no shelter at the inn of Bethlehem for the holy Virgin, nor a house where the Son of God could be born.   Then, being everywhere refused, you had to allow the Queen of Heaven to give birth to the world's Redeemer in a cave.

I ask it by that painful torture you felt at the prophecy of holy Simeon, which declared the Child Jesus and His holy Mother future victims of our sins and of their great love for us.

I ask it through your sorrow and pain of soul when the angel declared to you that the life of the Child Jesus was sought by His enemies.  From their evil plan you had to flee with Him and His Blessed Mother to Egypt.  I ask it by all the suffering, weariness, and labors of that long and dangerous journey.

I ask it by all your care to protect the Sacred Child and His Immaculate Mother during your second journey, when you were ordered to return to your own country.  I ask it by your peaceful life in Nazareth where you met with so many joys and sorrows.

I ask it by your great distress when the adorable Child was lost to you and His Mother for three days.  I ask it by your joy at finding Him in the Temple, and by the comfort you found at Nazareth, while living in the company of the Child Jesus.  I ask it by the wonderful submission He showed in His obedience to you.

I ask it by the perfect love and conformity you showed in accepting the Divine order to depart from this life, and from the company of Jesus and Mary.  I ask it by the joy which filled your soul, when the Redeemer of the world, triumphant over death and hell, entered into the possession of His kingdom and led you into it with special honors.

I ask it through Mary's glorious Assumption, and through that endless happiness you have with her in the presence of God.

O good father!  I beg you, by all your sufferings, sorrows, and joys, to hear me and obtain for me what I ask.

(make your request)
Obtain for all those who have asked my prayers everything that is useful to them in the plan of God.  Finally, my dear patron and father, be with me and all who are dear to me in our last moments, that we may eternally sing the praises of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

(Image source.)

Monday, February 17, 2020

Novena to the Holy Face

For the nine days before Shrove Tuesday.
O Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, through the intercession of Holy Mary, whose soul was pierced through by a sword of sorrow at the sight of the passion of her Divine Son, we ask Thy help in making a perfect Novena of reparation with Jesus, united with all His sorrows, love and total abandonment. We now implore all the Angels and Saints to intercede for us as we pray this Holy Novena to the Most Holy Face of Jesus and for the glory of the most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. (Start novena)

"All those who, attracted by my love, and venerating my countenance, shall receive, by virtue of my humanity, a brilliant and vivid impression of my divinity. This splendor shall enlighten the depths of their souls, so that in eternal glory the celestial court shall marvel at the marked likeness of their features with my divine countenance." (Our Lord Jesus Christ to St. Gertrude)

First Day (Console Holy Face and recite Daily Preparatory Prayer) Psalm 51, 3-4.Have mercy on me, O God in Thy goodness, in Thy great tenderness wipe away my faults;wash me clean of my guilt, purify me from my sin.O most Holy Face of Jesus, look with tenderness on us who are sinners. Thou art a merciful God, full of love and compassion. Keep us pure of heart, so that we may see Thee always. Mary, our Mother, intercede for us; Saint Joseph, pray for us.Through the merits of Thy precious blood and Thy Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, Pardon and Mercy.

Prayer to Our Almighty Father Almighty Father, come into our hearts, and so fill us with Thy love that forsaking all evil desires, we may embrace Thee, our only good. Show us, O Lord our God, what thou art to us. Say to our souls, I am Thy salvation, speak so that we may hear. Our hearts are before Thee; open our ears; let us hasten after Thy voice. Hide not Thy Face from us, we beseech Thee, O Lord. Open our hearts so that Thou mayest enter in. Repair the ruined mansions, that Thou mayest dwell therein. Hear us, O Heavenly Father, for the sake of Thine only Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever Amen.(St. Augustine)Pray one (1) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary's, (1) Glory Be, O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (Three times)

Second Day (Console Holy Face and recite Daily Preparatory Prayer)Psalm 51, 5-6a. My offenses truly I know them; My sin is always before me. Against Thou, Thou alone, have I sinned;What is evil in Thy sight I have done.Most Holy Face of Jesus, we are truly sorry that we have hurt Thee so much by constantly doing what is wrong; and for all the good works we have failed to do. Immaculate Heart of Mary, Saint Joseph, intercede for us, help us to console the Most Holy Face of Jesus. Pray that we may share in the tremendous love Thou hast for one another, and for the most Holy and Blessed Trinity. Amen.Through the merits of Thy precious blood and Thy Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, Pardon and Mercy.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit Come, Holy Spirit, Sanctifier, all powerful God of love, Thou who didst fill the Virgin Mary with grace, Thou who didst wonderfully transform the hearts of the apostles, Thou who didst endow all Thy martyrs with a miraculous heroism, come and sanctify us, illumine our minds, strengthen our wills, purify our consciences, rectify our judgments, set our hearts on fire and preserve us from the misfortune of resisting Thine inspirations. We consecrate to Thee our understanding, our heart and our will, our whole being for time and for eternity. May our understanding be always submissive to Thy heavenly inspirations and to the teachings of Thy Holy Catholic Church, of which Thou art the infallible guide; may our heart be ever inflamed with love of God and neighbor; may our will be ever conformed to the divine will, and may our whole life be a faithful imitation of the life and virtues of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and Thee be honor and glory forever. Amen. Pray one (1) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary's, (1) Glory Be.O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (Three times)

Third Day (Console Holy Face and recite Daily Preparatory Prayer) Psalm 51, 6b-7.Thou art just when Thou passest sentence on me, blameless when Thou givest judgment. Thou knowest I was born guilty, a sinner from the moment of conception.

Prayer of Pope Pius IX O Jesus! Cast upon us a look of mercy; turn Thy Face towards each of us as Thou didst to Veronica; not that we may see it with our bodily eyes, for this we do not deserve, but turn it towards our hearts, so that, remembering Thee, we may ever draw from this fountain of strength the vigor necessary to sustain the combats of life. Amen. Mary, Our Mother, and Saint Joseph, pray for us.Through the merits of Thy precious blood and Thy Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petitions, Pardon and Mercy.

Prayer of Saint Francis All highest, glorious God, cast Thy light into the darkness of our hearts, give us true faith, firm hope, perfect charity and profound humility, so that with wisdom, courage and perception, O Lord, we may do what is truly Thy holy will. Amen.

To the Angels and Saints We salute Thee, through the Holy Face and Sacred Heart of Jesus, O all you Holy Angels and Saints of God. We rejoice in your glory, and we give thanks to our Lord for all the benefits which He has showered upon you; we praise Him and glorify Him, and offer you for an increase of your joy and honor, the most Holy Face and gentle Heart of Jesus. Pray that we may become formed according to the heart of God. Amen.Pray (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary's, one (1) Glory Be. O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (Three times.)

Fourth Day (Console Holy Face and recite Daily Preparatory Prayer) Psalm 51, 8-9.Indeed Thou lovest truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me Wisdom. O purify me, then I shall be clean; O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.O Lord Jesus, who has said, learn of me for I am meek and gentle of heart, and who did manifest upon Thy Holy Face the sentiments of Thy divine heart, grant that we may love to come frequently and meditate upon Thy divine features. We may read there Thy gentleness and Thy humility, and learn how to form our hearts in the practice of these two virtues which Thou desires to see shine in Thy servants. Mary our Mother and Saint Joseph help us.Through the merits of Thy precious blood and Thy Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, Pardon and Mercy.

Prayer in Honor of the Dolors of the Blessed Virgin O Most Holy and afflicted Virgin, Queen of Martyrs! Who stood beneath the cross, witnessing the agony of Thy dying Son, look down with a mother's tenderness and pity on us as we kneel before Thee to venerate Thy Dolors, and place our requests, with filial confidence, in the sanctuary of Thy wounded heart. Present them on our behalf to Jesus, through the merits of His most sacred Passion and Death, together with Thy sufferings at the foot of the cross, and through the united efficacy of both, obtain the favor which we humbly ask. To whom shall we go in our wants and miseries if not to Thee. O Mother of Mercy, who having so deeply drunk of the chalice of Thy Son, graciously alleviate the sufferings of those who still sigh in this land of exile. Amen.

Prayer to the Souls in Purgatory My Jesus, by the sorrows Thou suffered in Thine agony in the garden, in Thy scourging and crowning with thorns, in the way to Calvary, in Thy crucifixion and death, have mercy on the souls in Purgatory, and especially on those that are most forsaken. Deliver them from the dire torments they endure. Call them and admit them to Thy most sweet embrace in Paradise. Amen. Pray one (1) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary's, (1) Glory Be. O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (Three times)

Fifth Day (Console Holy Face and recite Daily Preparatory Prayer) Psalm 5 1, 10-11.Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, that the bones Thou hast crushed may revive. From my sins turn away Thy Face, and blot out all my guilt.Holy Face of Jesus, Sacred Countenance of God, how great is Thy patience with humankind, how infinite Thy forgiveness. We are sinners, yet Thou lovest us. This gives us courage. For the glory of Thy Holy Face and of the Blessed Trinity, hear and answer us. Mary our Mother, intercede for us, Saint Joseph, pray for us.Through the merits of Thy precious blood and Thy Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, Pardon and Mercy.

Prayer to Saint Joseph Dear Saint Joseph! Adopt us as Thy children, take charge of our salvation; watch over us day and night; preserve us from occasions of sin; obtain for us purity of body and soul, and the spirit of prayer, through Thy intercession with Jesus, grant us a spirit of sacrifice, of humility and self-denial; obtain for us a burning love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and a sweet, tender love for Mary, our Mother.Saint Joseph, be with us in life, be with us in death and obtain for us a favorable judgment from Jesus, our merciful Savior. Amen.Pray one (1) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary's, (1) Glory Be. O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (Three times)

Sixth Day(Console Holy Face and recite Daily Preparatory Prayer) Psalm 51, 12-13.A pure heart create for us O God, put a steadfast spirit within us. Do not cast us away from Thy presence nor deprive us of Thy Holy Spirit.May our hearts be cleansed, O Lord, by the inpouring of the Holy Spirit, and may He render them fruitful by watering them with His heavenly dew, Mary, the most chaste spouse of the Holy Spirit, intercede for us, Saint Joseph pray for us.Through the merits of Thy precious blood and Thy Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, Pardon and Mercy.

Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel O Victorious Prince, most humble guardian of the Church of God and of faithful souls, who with such charity and zeal took part in so many conflicts and gained such great victories over the enemy, for the conservation and protection of the honor and glory we all owe to God, as well as for the promotion of our salvation, come, we pray Thee, to our assistance, for we are continually besieged with such great perils by our enemies, the flesh, the world and the devil; and as Thou wast a leader for the people of God through the desert, so also be our faithful leader, and companion through the desert of this world, until Thou conduct us safely into the happy land of the living, in that blessed fatherland from which we are all exiles. Amen. (St. Aloysius) Pray one (1) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary's, (1) Glory Be. O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (Three times)

Seventh Day (Console Holy Face and recite Daily Preparatory Prayer) Psalm 51, 14-15.Give me again the joy of Thy help, with a spirit of fervor sustain me, that I may teach transgressors Thy ways and sinners may return to Thee.Lord Jesus! After contemplating Thy features, disfigured by grief, after meditating upon Thy passion with compunction and love, how can our hearts fail to be inflamed with a holy hatred of sin, which even now outrages Thy Adorable Face! Lord, suffer us not to be content with mere compassion, but give us grace so closely to follow Thee in this Calvary, so that the opprobrium destined for Thee may fall on us, O Jesus, that thus we may have a share, small though it may be, in expiation of sin. Amen. Mary, our Mother, intercede for us, Saint Joseph pray for us.Through the merits of Thy precious blood and Thy Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, Pardon and Mercy.

Prayer in Honor of Mary Hail Mary, Daughter of God the Father! Hail Mary, Mother of God the Son! Hail Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit! Hail Mary, Temple of the Most Holy Trinity! Hail Mary, our mistress, our wealth, our mystic rose, Queen of our hearts, our Mother, our life, our sweetness and our dearest hope! We are all Thine, and all we have is Thine. O Virgin blessed above all things, may Thy soul be in us to magnify the Lord; may Thy spirit be in us to rejoice in God. Place Thyself, O faithful Virgin, as a seal upon our hearts, that in Thee and through Thee we may be found faithful to God. Grant, most gracious Virgin, that we may be numbered among those whom Thou art pleased to love, to teach and to guide, to favor and to protect as Thy children. Grant that with the help of Thy love, we may despise all earthly consolation and cling to heavenly things, until through the Holy Spirit, Thy faithful spouse, and through Thee, His faithful spouse, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, be formed within us for the glory of the Father. Amen. (St. Grignon de Montfort) Pray one (1) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary's, (1) Glory Be. O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (Three times)

Eighth Day(Console Holy Face and recite Daily Preparatory Prayer) Psalm 51, 16-17.O rescue me, God my helper, and my tongue shall ring out Thy goodness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.Most merciful Face of Jesus, who in this vale of tears was so moved by our misfortunes to call Thyself the healer of the sick, and the good Shepherd of the souls gone astray, allow not Satan to draw us away from Thee, but keep us always under Thy loving protection, together with all souls who endeavor to console Thee. Mary, our Mother, intercede for us, Saint Joseph, pray for us.Through the merits of Thy precious blood and Thy Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, Pardon and Mercy.

Prayer to Saint Peter O glorious Saint Peter, who in return for Thy lively and generous faith, Thy profound and sincere humility and Thy burning love, was honored by Jesus Christ with singular privileges, and in particular, with the leadership of the other apostles and the primacy of the whole church, of which thou was made the foundation stone, do thou obtain for us the grace of a lively faith, that shall not fear to profess itself openly in its entirety and in all of its manifestations, even to the shedding of blood, if occasion should demand it, and to the sacrifice of life itself in preference to surrender. Obtain for us likewise a sincere loyalty to our Holy Mother the Church. Grant that we may ever remain most closely and sincerely united to the Holy Father, who is the heir of Thy faith and of Thy authority, the one true visible head of the Catholic Church. Grant, moreover, that we may follow, in all humility and meekness, the Church?s teaching and counsels and may be obedient to all her precepts, in order to be able here on earth to enjoy a peace that is sure and undisturbed, and to attain one day in heaven to everlasting happiness. Amen.Pray one (1) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary's, (1) Glory Be. O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (Three times)

Ninth Day (Console Holy Face and recite Daily Preparatory Prayer) Psalm 51, 18-21.For in sacrifice Thou takest no delight, burnt offering from me Thou wouldst refuse, my sacrifice a contrite spirit. A humbled, contrite heart Thou wilt not spurn. In Thy goodness, show favor to Zion; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem Then Thou wilt be pleased with lawful sacrifice, holocausts offered on Thine altar,Sacred Face of our Lord and our God, what words can we do to express our gratitude? How can we speak of our joy? That Thou hast deigned to hear us, that Thou hast chosen to answer us in our hour of need. We say this because we know that our prayers will be granted. We know that Thou, in Thy loving kindness, listened to our pleading hearts, and will give, out of Thy fullness, the answer to our problems. Mary, our Mother, thank you for Thy intercession on our behalf. Saint Joseph, thank you for your prayers.Through the merits of Thy precious blood and Thy Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, Pardon and Mercy.

Prayer to the Holy Trinity Most Holy Trinity, Godhead indivisible, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our first beginning and our last end. Since Thou hast made us after Thine own image and likeness, grant that all the thoughts of our minds, all the words of our tongues, all the affections of our hearts and all our actions may be always conformed to Thy most Holy Will, so that after having seen Thee here on earth in appearances and in a dark manner by the means of faith, we may come at last to contemplate Thee face to face, in the perfect possession of Thee forever in paradise. Amen.Pray one (1) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary's, (1) Glory Be. O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (Three times)

Act of Consecration O Lord Jesus, we believe most firmly in Thee, we love Thee. Thou art the Eternal Son of God and the Son Incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Thou art the Lord and Absolute Ruler of all creation. We acknowledge Thee, therefore, as the Universal Sovereign of all creatures. Thou art the Lord and Supreme Ruler of all mankind, and we, in acknowledging this Thy dominion, consecrate ourselves to Thee now and forever. Loving Jesus, we place our family under the protection of Thy Holy Face, and of Thy Virgin Mother, Mary most sorrowful. We promise to be faithful to Thee for the rest of our lives and to observe with fidelity Thy Holy Commandments, We will never deny before men, Thee and Thy Divine rights over us and all mankind. Grant us the grace to never sin again; nevertheless, should we fail, O Divine Savior, have mercy on us and restore us to Thy grace. Radiate Thy Divine Countenance upon us and bless us now and forever. Embrace us at the hour of death in Thy Kingdom for all eternity, through the intercession of Thy Blessed Mother, of all Thy Saints who behold Thee in Heaven, and the just who glorify Thee on earth, O Jesus, be mindful of us forever and never forsake us; protect our family. O Mother of Sorrows, by the eternal glory which Thou enjoyest in Heaven, through the merits of Thy bitter anguish in the Sacred Passion of Thy Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, obtain for us the grace that the Precious Blood shed by Jesus for the redemption of our souls, be not shed for us in vain. We love Thee, O Mary. Embrace us and bless us, O Mother. Protect us in life and in death. Amen.Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sexagesima Sunday

Parable of the Sower
Scott Richert discusses the significance. To quote:
Sexagesima Sunday is the second Sunday before the start of Lent, which makes it the eighth Sunday before Easter. Traditionally, it was the second of three Sundays (Septuagesima is the first and Quinquagesima is the third) of preparation for Lent.
Sexagesima literally means "sixtieth," though it only falls 56 days before Easter. It most likely takes its name from Quinquagesima Sunday, which is 49 days before Easter, or 50 if you count Easter itself.
When the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar was revised in 1969, the three pre-Lenten Sundays were removed; they are now denominated simply as Sundays in Ordinary Time. Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima are all still observed in the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass. (Read entire post.)
Here is some guidance on lectio divina from Fr. Mark for Sexagesima week.

Scripture readings, HERE. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Saint Valentine


According to the legend:
The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in a The Nuremberg Chronicle, a great illustrated book printed in 1493. [Additional evidence that Valentine was a real person: archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine.] Alongside a woodcut portrait of him, text states that Valentinus was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius the Goth [Claudius II]. Since he was caught marrying Christian couples and aiding any Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius in Rome [when helping them was considered a crime], Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner -- until Valentinus made a strategic error: he tried to convert the Emperor -- whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn't do it, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate [circa 269].

Saints are not supposed to rest in peace; they're expected to keep busy: to perform miracles, to intercede. Being in jail or dead is no excuse for non-performance of the supernatural. One legend says, while awaiting his execution, Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer's blind daughter. Another legend says, on the eve of his death, he penned a farewell note to the jailer's daughter, signing it, "From your Valentine."

St. Valentine was a Priest, martyred in 269 at Rome and was buried on the Flaminian Way. He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travelers, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses. (Read more.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Castle at Lourdes



Aside from being the site of the famous apparitions of 1858, Lourdes has an interesting history, surprisingly turbulent at times for a place that is truly in the middle of nowhere. Most of the events were focused on the Château-Fort de Lourdes, the old castle which was at one time a Moorish stronghold, although its origins go back to antiquity. According to a traveler's guide:
The Gauls, Roman, Barbars and Moors successively took turns to strengthen the Lourdes rock on which the castle stands. This antique fortress is clothed in legend. In 778, Charlemagne and his army besieged the castle which was occupied at the time by Mirat, the Saracen, and his Moors. Despite attacks by the Francs and the onslaught of famine, Lourdes castle remained impenetrable.

Suddenly an eagle appeared in the sky. It flew around the fort and dropped an enormous trout from its beak, which landed at Mirat's feet. The clever Moor grabbed the fish and took it to Charlemagne to make him believe that he still had plenty of food reserves.

Charlemagne was just preparing to lift the siege when Turpin, his friend and Bishop of Puy-en-Velay, became inspired and was granted permission to go and talk to the besieged. He suggested that Mirat surrender, not to the sovereign but to the Queen of the skies.

This proposal pleased the Moor leader who promptly set down his weapons at the foot of the Black Virgin of Puy and was baptized. On the day of his baptism, Mirat was given the name "Lorus". This name was transferred to the village, which, in time, became Lourdes.
When I first visited Lourdes in April 1994 the castle intrigued me almost as much as did the shrines. I had never heard of it until arriving there, and when our guide took us up inside, the view of the Pyrenees was breathtaking. There are all kinds of legends and mysteries associated with the castle, including the caves which lie underneath the edifice. I decided to make it the setting for a novel about the Cathars, since for a time it had been a Cathar fortress. In spite of heresy and turmoil, it is a spot favored by the Mother of God.

Available free from Kindle through St. Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Septuagesima Sunday

"Upon the waters of Babylon, there we sat and wept, as we remembered Zion." ~Psalm 136 (Vulgate)
It is Septuagesima Sunday, according to the traditional calendar. The season of Septuagesima is a time to start thinking about Lent; the "seventy" days until Easter are symbolic, among other things, of the seventy years of the Israelites' Babylonian captivity. We have all made mistakes; it is not too late to make amends while there is still time. We are being given a second chance. Redemption is at hand.

According to Dom Gueranger in The Liturgical Year, Vol. IV: "We are sojourners upon this earth: we are exiles and captives in Babylon, that city which plots our ruin. If we love our country, we long to return to it...."

Fr. Mark Kirby expresses it thus:
The seventy-day period that begins with Septuagesima recalls the seventy-year exile of the children of Israel in Babylon. Seventy is the perfect number, signifying that God has fixed for us a delay of mercy to pass from the anguish of sinful Babylon to the beatitude of Jerusalem. “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Ps 136:4). We do well to recall Pope John Paul II’s assertion that, “the power that imposes a limit on evil is Divine Mercy.” The seventy days before Pascha signify this, and so become a season of hope for all who sit and weep by the waters of Babylon (cf. Ps 136:1).
At the same time, the history of the world is divided into seven ages. The first is from the creation of the world to the flood; the second, from the renewal after the flood to the call of Abraham; the third from the covenant with Abraham to the call of Moses; the fourth from Moses to King David; the fifth from the reign of David to the Babylonian exile; and the sixth from return from captivity to the birth of Christ. With the birth of Our Lord comes the seventh age: the appearance of the Sun of Justice who rises over the world “with healing in his wings” (Mal 4:2). This seventh age of “these last days” (Heb 1:2) stretches until Christ’s second coming as Judge of the living and the dead. The seven weeks before Pascha are a review of salvation history.
In the traditional Roman Rite Septuagesima Sunday is marked by putting away the Alleluia; the Gloria is omitted and, already, violet vestments are used in preparation for Lent. Sound psychology and practical pastoral wisdom indicate the need for a kind of countdown before Ash Wednesday. Otherwise Lent arrives all of a sudden, finding us flustered and frightfully ill prepared. (Read more.)
We are far away but drawing ever nearer; let us encourage our fellow travelers, and keep on going. In a little while it will be eternity.

Fr. Mark offers some suggested readings for lectio divina during Septuagesima week.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Veil: A Mystical Symbol

Most people are familiar with the injunction of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: 5,6, 13 for women to wear veils in church. It is interesting, however, to reflect upon other scriptural passages in which persons or things are covered out of reverence for God, beginning in the Old Testament. In ancient times, covering oneself, and especially hiding the face, was a sign of respect and obeisance. In Genesis 24:65 Rebecca covers herself at the approach of her bridegroom. In Exodus 34:33 Moses veils himself after beholding the glory of God. Exodus 36 describes in detail the curtains which were to veil the Holy of Holies. What was sacred was generally veiled. When I was a child, the tabernacles of Catholic churches were always veiled.

In II Kings 15:30 King David ascended the Mount of Olives weeping for his sins, barefoot like one in mourning, with his head covered so that no one could see him. In III Kings 19:13 Elias covers his face with his mantle at the manifestation of the power of God. Isaiah (6:2) describes the seraphim covering their faces with their wings before the Divine Majesty. Ezekiel 16:8 describes the spouse covering the bride with his garment.

The Navarre Bible footnotes present an interesting commentary on 1 Corinthians 11: 5-13. Women were to cover their heads as a sign that they have an important role in the Church, but one distinct from men. "Christian practice and profane custom show women's dress to be not unimportant.... Customs are a way of thinking. External comportment is important because it reflects people's inner dispositions." In our society, what is feminine is replaced by what is immodest and yet modesty and chastity are the greatest ornament of women. Head-coverings for women at Mass are part of an ancient tradition which the Apostle St. Paul insisted upon in the new dispensation as a continuation of a sacred sign of bridal holiness and reverence. All women are to be brides at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

There have been interesting discussions over the years on the topic of head-coverings for women in the National Catholic Register. I believe that if women feel called to wear hats or veils in the house of God then they should do so, without human respect.

More HERE.

Monday, February 3, 2020

St. Blase

"Through the intercession of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
(Blessing of Saint Blase)

St. Blase is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. From New Advent:
It can perhaps be assumed that St. Blasius was a bishop and that he suffered martyrdom at the beginning of the fourth century...According to the legend Blasius was a physician at Sebaste before he was raised to the episcopal see. At the time of the persecution under Licinius he was taken prisoner at the command of the governor, Agricolaus. The hunters of the governor found him in the wilderness in a cave to which he had retired and while in prison he performed a wonderful cure of a boy who had a fishbone in his throat and who was in danger of choking to death. After suffering various forms of torture St. Blasius was beheaded; the Acts relate also the martyrdom of seven women. (Read more.)

More HERE.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Lourdes Novena

It begins today.
O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfort to the Afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Deign to cast upon me a look of mercy. By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary, whence you dispense your favors; and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for favors, I will endeavor to imitate your virtues that I may one day share your glory. (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.)
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!
Saint Bernadette, pray for us!
 Petitions can be sent directly to Lourdes.

Candlemas Day


Adorn thy bridal chamber, O Sion, and receive Christ the King. Salute Mary, the gate of Heaven; for she beareth the King of Glory, Who is the new Light....

Antiphon for feast of the Presentation of the Lord

On the fortieth day after Christmas we celebrate the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, where He is offered by His Mother and St Joseph to the Eternal Father for the sins of the world. Many prophecies were fulfilled that day, unknown at the time except to Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna, all persons of prayer and of special consecration to God. In a time of great darkness there was suddenly and quite publicly a great light, to be received only by those whose hearts were open. A small Child is the ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of humanity, but He is not alone; He is with His family. The Holy Family stand between us and utter chaos and despair. Like the Child Jesus, we do not make our offering alone, we make it with Mary and Joseph, we make it in the context of our own families.
Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; and thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed. --St. Luke 2:34-35
 The "Purification of Our Lady" as the feast is traditionally called, is a feast of the Virgin as well as the Virgin's Son. We marvel at the humility of Immaculate Mary who submits to the ritual of purification for all Jewish mothers, although she herself had no need to be purified. It is also known as Candlemas Day because since early times, candles have been blessed and carried in procession in honor of Christ, the Light of the World.

At Christmas, we adored Him with the shepherds at dawn; at Epiphany, we rejoiced in the brightness of His manifestations to the nations; at Candlemas, with the aged Simeon, we take Him into our arms. With the prophetic words of Simeon, the day also becomes a preparation for Lent and the Passion of Our Lord. We must offer ourselves with Jesus to the Father; we must embrace our own purification.
 

This feast day links Christmas with Lent, the joyful mysteries with the sorrowful mysteries. Mary's Heart is pierced as Simeon's prophecy is uttered, for a mother suffers for her child, especially when that Child is God. Fr Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. wrote so magnificently of this feast in his book Divine Intimacy:
O Jesus, through the hands of Mary, I wish to offer myself today with You to the eternal Father. But You are a pure, holy, and Immaculate Host, while I am defiled with misery, and sin....O Virgin Most pure, lead me along the way of a serious and thorough purification; accompany me yourself, so that my weakness will not make me faint because of the roughness of the road.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

St. Brigid of Kildare

It is the feast of the great Irish abbess, St. Brigid of Kildare. During the fall of Rome and before the rise of Islam, as Europe descended into chaos, Brigid built a center of learning, contemplation, art, and scholarship that would last a thousand years. To quote:
Born in 451 or 452 of princely ancestors at Faughart, near Dundalk, County Louth; d. 1 February, 525, at Kildare. Refusing many good offers of marriage, she became a nun and received the veil from St. Macaille. With seven other virgins she settled for a time at the foot of Croghan Hill, but removed thence to Druin Criadh, in the plains of Magh Life, where under a large oak tree she erected her subsequently famous Convent of Cill-Dara, that is, "the church of the oak" (now Kildare), in the present county of that name. It is exceedingly difficult to reconcile the statements of St. Brigid's biographers, but the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Lives of the saint are at one in assigning her a slave mother in the court of her father Dubhthach, and Irish chieftain of Leinster. Probably the most ancient life of St. Brigid is that by St. Broccan Cloen, who is said to have died 17 September, 650. It is metrical, as may be seen from the following specimen:
Ni bu Sanct Brigid suanach
Ni bu huarach im sheire Dé,
Sech ni chiuir ni cossens
Ind nóeb dibad bethath che. (Saint Brigid was not given to sleep,
Nor was she intermittent about God's love;
Not merely that she did not buy, she did not seek for
The wealth of this world below, the holy one.)
More on the abbey she founded here and here.

St. Brigid is the patroness of two characters in my novel The Paradise Tree.
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