Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Novena Prayer to St Joan of Arc for America

In honor of the saint's birthday on January 6.
O Maid of Orleans, Savior of France, light of patriots, and strength of the Church Militant, hear our prayers for this great nation, the United States of America! Come to our aid now, as you did for France in your day. Help those of us who love this country to stand firm in the battle for what is right until the very end. Grant us strength to continue the fight for all that is sacred as we defend our nation from those who would tear it apart. Numerous forces of evil and dissolution threaten our very lives and culture. Vanquish them by your mighty intercession. Fortify our faithful people with your zeal and righteous fervor. Give virtue to our works and grace to our hearts so that we can look to the future with hope. Above all, bless our President and his allies in their struggles against the increasing darkness that is taking possession of our beloved homeland. Make him the point of the sword that purges this clear and present evil from our midst. Come with your assistance, holy Joan of Arc, friend of warriors and patron of our spiritual battle, and present our needs to the great Shepherd of souls, Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with the Father and Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

 

Monday, December 28, 2020

Epiphany Novena

From Fish Eaters:

Novena to the Magi in anticipation of the Epiphany
This Novena is especially prayed beginning on 28 December (the Feast of the Holy Innocents) and ending on 5 January (the Vigil of the Epiphany).

28 December:
O holy Magi! You were living in continual expectation of the rising of the Star of Jacob, which would announce the birth of the true Sun of justice; obtain for us an increase of faith and charity, and the grace to live in continual hope of beholding one day the light of heavenly glory and eternal joy. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

29 December:
O holy Magi! who at the first appearance of the wondrous star left your native country to go and seek the newborn King of the Jews; obtain for us the grace of corresponding with alacrity to every divine inspiration. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

30 December:
O holy Magi! who regarded neither the severity of the season, nor the inconveniences of the journey that you might find the newborn Messiah; obtain for us the grace not to allow ourselves to be discouraged by any of the difficulties which may meet us on the way of salvation. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

31 December:
O holy Magi, who, when deserted by the star in the city of Jerusalem, sought humbly, and without human respect, from the rulers of the Church, the place where you might discover the object of your journey; obtain for us grace to have recourse, in faith and humility, in all our doubts and perplexities to the counsel of our superiors, who hold the place of God on earth. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

1 January:
O holy Magi, who were gladdened by the reappearance of the star which led you to Bethlehem; obtain for us from God the grace, that, remaining always faithful to Him in afflictions, we may be consoled in time by His grace, and in eternity by His glory. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

2 January:
O holy Magi, who, entering full of faith into the stable of Bethlehem, prostrated yourselves on the earth, to adore the newborn King of the Jews, though he was surrounded only by signs of poverty and weakness; obtain from the Lord for us a lively faith in the real presence of Jesus in the blessed Sacrament, the true spirit of poverty, and a Christ-like charity for the poor and suffering. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

3 January:
O holy Magi, who offered to Jesus Christ gold, incense, and myrrh, thereby recognizing Him to be at once King, God, and Man; obtain from the Lord for us the grace never to present ourselves before Him with empty hands; but that we may continually offer to Him the gold of charity, the incense of prayer, and the myrrh of penance and mortification. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

4 January:
O holy Magi, who, when warned by an angel not to return to Herod, traveled back to your country be another road; obtain for us from the Lord, the grace that, after having found Him in true repentance, we may avoid all danger of losing Him again. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

5 January:
O holy Magi, who were first among the Gentiles called to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and who persevered in the faith till your deaths, obtain for us of the Lord the grace of living always in conformity to our baptismal vows, ever leading to a life of faith; that like you we may attain to the beatific vision of that God Who now is the object of our faith. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end..

Holy Innocents



Hail, martyr flowers!
On the very threshold of your life
Christ's persecutor destroyed you,
As a whirlwind does the budding roses.
~
Salvete flores martyrum
According to Butler's Lives:
Our Divine Redeemer was persecuted by the world as soon as he made his appearance in it. For he was no sooner born than it declared war against him. Herod, in persecuting Christ, was an emblem of Satan and of the world. That ambitious and jealous prince had already sacrificed to his fears and suspicions the most illustrious part of his council, his virtuous wife Mariamne, with her mother Alexandra, the two sons he had by her, and the heirs to his crown, and all his best friends. Hearing from the magians who were come from distant countries to find and adore Christ that the Messias, or spiritual king of the Jews, foretold by the prophets, was born among them, he trembled lest he was come to take his temporal kingdom from him. So far are the thoughts of carnal and worldly men from the ways of God, and so strangely do violent passions blind and alarm them. The tyrant was disturbed beyond measure and resolved to take away the life of this child, as if he could have defeated the decrees of heaven. He had recourse to his usual arts of policy and dissimulation, and hoped to receive intelligence of the child by feigning a desire himself to adore him. But God laughed at the folly of his short-sighted prudence, and admonished the magians not to return to him. St. Joseph was likewise ordered by an angel to take the child and his mother, and to fly into Egypt. Is our Blessed Redeemer, the Lord of the universe, to be banished as soon as born....
Fr. Mark writes of the Passion of the Infant Christ, HERE. To quote:
I can never celebrate this feast of the Holy Innocents without returning to a book written many years ago by Caryll Houselander: The Passion of the Infant Christ. Writing in London during the Second World War — literally “under the bombs” — she was inspired to speak of the Passion of the Infant Christ. Seeing the sufferings of her own life and of those she loved with the pure vision of one become a child in Christ, she recognized in both cradle and cross wood hewn from the same tree.
The way to begin the healing of the wounds of the world is to treasure the Infant Christ in us; to be not the castle but the cradle of Christ, and in rocking that cradle to the rhythm of love, to swing the whole world back into the beat of the Music of Eternal Life. It is true that the span of an Infant’s arms is absurdly short; but if they are the arms of the Divine Child, they are as wide as the reach of the arms on the cross; they embrace and support the whole world; their shadow is the noonday shade for its suffering people; they are the spread wings under which the whole world shall find shelter and rest (Caryll Houselander, The Passion of the Infant Christ).
Houselander understood that nothing of the paschal mystery of Christ is locked in an irretrievable past. The liturgy is the passion of the Infant Christ made present to us and for us, here and now, in all its fullness. Are you in Egypt, “groaning under bondage” (Ex 2:23), learning to pray in suffering? Are you wandering in a desert waste, tortured by hunger and thirst, a prey to temptations and terrors of the night? Have you crossed over into that good and broad land where milk and honey flow? Through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the Infant Christ is with you, his prayer in yours, and yours in his: a prayer that says “Yes” to the wood of the cradle, to the wood of the Cross, and to everything that lies in between. (Read more.)

Saturday, December 26, 2020

St. Stephen the First Martyr


"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" From Scott Richert:
Not much is known about Saint Stephen's origin. He is first mentioned in Acts 6:5, when the apostles appoint seven deacons in order to minister to the physical needs of the faithful. Because Stephen is a Greek name (Stephanos), and because the appointment of the deacons occurred in response to complaints by Greek-speaking Jewish Christians, it is generally assumed that Stephen was himself a Hellenist. However, a tradition arising in the fifth century claims that Stephen's original name was Kelil, an Aramaic word that means "crown," and he was called Stephen because Stephanos is the Greek equivalent.
In any case, Stephen's ministry was conducted among Greek-speaking Jews, some of whom were not open to the Gospel of Christ. Stephen is described in Acts 6:5 as "full of faith, and of the Holy Ghost" and in Acts 6:8 as "full of grace and fortitude," and his talents for preaching were so great those Hellenist Jews who disputed his teaching "were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit that spoke" (Acts 6:10).
Unable to combat Stephen's preaching, his opponents found men who were willing to lie about what Saint Stephen taught, to claim that "they had heard him speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God" (Acts 6:11). In a scene reminiscent of Christ's own appearance before the Sanhedrin (cf. Mark 14:56-58), Stephen's opponents produced witnesses who claimed that "we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place [the temple], and shall change the traditions which Moses delivered unto us" (Acts 6:14). (Read more.)

(Image)

Monday, December 7, 2020

Tota pulchra es Maria

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

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

Saturday, December 5, 2020

St. John Damascene and the "Ishmaelites"

When I came upon this post, I wondered at first glance which ultramontane rabble-rouser had authored it, before realizing that it was from the writings of St. John Damascene. He was the last of the Greek Fathers and lived at a time when the ancient Christian communities were falling into Moslem hands. St. John did not mince words. To quote:
They furthermore accuse us of being idolaters, because we venerate the cross, which they abominate. And we answer them: ‘How is it, then, that you rub yourselves against a stone in your Ka’ba [107] and kiss and embrace it?’ Then some of them say that Abraham had relations with Agar upon it, but others say that he tied the camel to it, when he was going to sacrifice Isaac. And we answer them: ‘Since Scripture says that the mountain was wooded and had trees from which Abraham cut wood for the holocaust and laid it upon Isaac, [108] and then he left the asses behind with the two young men, why talk nonsense? For in that place neither is it thick with trees nor is there passage for asses.’ And they are embarrassed, but they still assert that the stone is Abraham’s. Then we say: ‘Let it be Abraham’s, as you so foolishly say. Then, just because Abraham had relations with a woman on it or tied a camel to it, you are not ashamed to kiss it, yet you blame us for venerating the cross of Christ by which the power of the demons and the deceit of the Devil was destroyed.’ This stone that they talk about is a head of that Aphrodite whom they used to worship and whom they called Khabár. Even to the present day, traces of the carving are visible on it to careful observers. (Read more.)

Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Four Introits of Advent


Fr. Mark discusses the joy of the Advent liturgy.
He who is to come is already here, near to us, close at hand. God is present, and from his presence streams all grace, all loveliness, all joy. Paul draws a very practical conclusion from this: “Nothing must make you anxious” (Phil 4:6). Were God absent, had God not yet come in His Christ and in the gift of His Holy Spirit, we would have reason to worry, reason for anxiety, and for fear. Worry and anxiety are an affront to the graciousness of God, a denial of His nearness to us, a turning from Him who has turned His Face towards us. Self-indulgence in fretting and anxiety is a sin that does not often appear on the radar screen of our consciences, and so it is a sin that, more often than not, goes unconfessed.

A thousand reasons not to follow the Apostle’s mandate come to mind. It is easy to listen to the voices of our fears, our insecurities, our need to arrange, rearrange, and attempt to control even things beyond our control. The Apostle says, “Have no anxiety about anything,” but we hold ourselves excused, saying, “Is not a little anxiety, just a little bit of worry reasonable and right?” Saint Paul is not moved by our rationalizations. “Nothing must make you anxious” (Phil 4:6). (Read more.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Alma Redemptoris Mater

The Alma Redemptoris Mater is sung after Night Prayer (Compline) throughout Advent until Candlemas on February 2nd.

 

Loving mother of the Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea, assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again, To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator, yet remained a virgin after as before, You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting, have pity on us poor sinners.

 

(Image: Virgin of Vladimir)

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

St. Edmund Campion

Here is the Agnus Dei of the English Jesuit and martyr St. Edmund Campion, whose feast is today. To quote:
....The Agnus Dei [was] carried by St. Edmund Campion on his clandestine missions, and a gift of Pope Gregory VIII. Campion was found hiding in Lynford Grange, Berkshire on July 17, 1581, and was hanged, drawn, and quartered five months later. The Agnus Dei was found wrapped in a list of indulgences stuffed in the rafters of Lynford Grange when the roof underwent renovation in 1959. Fr. Nicholas Schofield has blogged of Stonyhurst's collection here.

 

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