Saturday, February 25, 2023

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

Some thoughts from Irenikon:
Oh Lord and Master of my life, give to me not the spirit of sloth...” In this striking and powerful opening to the prayer above, St. Ephrem does two things:

He surrenders all of himself to Christ by calling on him as Lord and as Master, but not just as Lord and Master at a distance, but as Lord and Master of
my life!! A Lord and Master intimately and personally engaged with each of us, from the very beginning of our life.
And then he implores of Him, this divine ruler and teacher, author of life, to protect him from all temptations of the spirit of sloth. He begs to be relieved from this one great debilitating weakness, from even the least temptation toward doubt, or lameness of spirit. He begs freedom from spiritual lassitude and apathy that deadens the heart and the intellect equally leaving one open to all the rest of what comes when we convince ourselves we cannot ever become truly holy, when we kill in ourselves all hope and thus all faith, and thereby all our capacity to truly love selflessly.
The Greek text here translates as acedia, or sloth prompted by spiritual despondency, which is the self-delusion of the impossibility of ever achieving sanctity. Acedia is the great scourge of the monastic, and of all lay men and women who choose to follow the royal way of contemplative prayer and ascetic living, and even of those who watch from a distance but still try to lead a life influenced by the gospels and by liturgy and liturgical prayer.
To pray this prayer aloud and with open heart, it cannot help but plunge us into the depths of humility. St. Ephrem declares emphatically, from the very first moment, that none but Christ is Master of Life, Master of each individual life, whether we offer ourselves to Him or not.
None of the rest of the prayer can be prayed without this initial surrender and the humble petition for the spiritual freedom, the graced freedom necessary to fulfill the rest of the prayer. (Read more.)

Thursday, February 23, 2023

The Trial of St. Joan

Here is link to the first interrogation of St. Joan's trial, with the other sessions following. She was tormented and betrayed by those who should have been her spiritual fathers. She answered firmly and boldly, even as had her beloved St. Catherine of Alexandria before her. As another excellent article says:
The story of her prison life is a record of shame to her goalers. Chained, mocked at, threatened, and insulted, her serenity never failed. She was in God's hand, and she bowed to His will. Months of suffering and anxiety passed over her before her captors made up their minds as to the course they would take to bring about her death under the semblance of legal execution. If she could be convicted by an ecclesiastical court of crimes against the faith, her condemnation would redound to the fair fame of England and of the pious House of Lancaster, while covering the French and their sovereign with confusion as the allies and associates of a minister of hell. (3).... ( The House of Lancaster was fervently orthodox. Persecution of heretics begins with Henry IV. The "Cardinal of England" (Beaufort Bishop of Winchester) was the malicious attacker of heretics at home and abroad. He spoke against the Hussites at the Council of Basle, and he planned Crusades against both heretics and "Saracens.")
Pliant churchmen were at hand to give countenance and help in this undertaking bishops full of zeal and loyalty for our sovereign lord Henry VI, by the grace of God King of France and England.The worst of these servile churchmen was the wretched Bishop of Beauvais, Pierre Cauchon. Many other prelates were Caesar's friends, but he sits exalted in solitary infamy. He came to the Burgundian camp and claimed his victim in the name of Bedford, Regent of France for the English King. Had Jeanne been detained by the Burgundians, it is impossible to believe that Charles VII would not have procured her release. Had she been held as a prisoner of war by the English, it is very likely that the shame of holding a woman captive in their hands would have made it possible to arrange for her ransom. But once charged with heresy and taken out of the hands of the Burgundians such hopes and chances were closed. Still, as an ecclesiastical prisoner she would have been entitled to counsel and guidance by religious persons, the Church offering admonition before preferring grave charges of rebellion against any of her children. But this would render her punishment uncertain. Grave doctors of the law and eminent churchmen had at Poitiers, after long inquiry, declared her worthy of trust and they might do so again. 
Therefore it was determined that she should be held in a lay prison though charged with an ecclesiastical offense. Cut off in this way from all spiritual help and instruction, she was to be brought, when the process was ripe, before a well-chosen court bent on her destruction, and ready to entangle her in questions which might entrap her into erroneous or heretical statements. And once more we are confronted, if we try to rationalize her life and put away all belief in inspiration, with the amazing problem as to where and how this untutored girl drew her stores of logic, law, and theology.
Hallowed Ground has some rare images of St. Joan and her beatification.

Monday, February 20, 2023

How Bravely Embracing Suffering Can Lead to Joy

From TFP:

Of course, we hate the cross of suffering that will always be placed upon our shoulders. We have an aversion to suffering. However, suffering has its benefits. Through it, we come to see that everything worthwhile takes time and effort. We can learn great lessons from our misfortunes. The satisfaction of a duty well done is the source of happiness. Moreover, God blesses our lives with moments of great joy between the sufferings that visit us.

Our postmodern society needs to learn this lesson if we are to overcome the present crisis. There is no easy way out of this crisis brought upon us by our iniquities. The longer we put off the acceptance of suffering, the greater it will be. Either we embrace the coming suffering with resignation, or we will perish.

The cruel reality of our situation is allowing evil to reach a climax. If we are to survive, we cannot face this danger alone.

We must have recourse to the Church that teaches us how to overcome our fears and embrace suffering. When united with the infinitely precious suffering of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we can share in His redemptive suffering. We can offer up our sufferings for the salvation of souls. Our sufferings then gain meaning and purpose. They impact society and history.

Thus, the Christian perspective on suffering goes far beyond our trials. It puts them in the context of eternity, which should fill us with joy. Then we can truly say, “forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.” However, the joy will not only be an earthly joy but a heavenly one. (Read more.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Saint Valentine

How ironic that the patron saint of true love is a martyr. 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.)

Saturday, February 11, 2023

The Spring of Lourdes

The stream of the river maketh the city of God joyful: the most High hath sanctified his own tabernacle. (Psalm 45:5)
On February 25, 1858 St. Bernadette was instructed by "the Lady" to dig in the dirt near the grotto of Massabielle, the town dump, and "drink from the spring." Bernadette humbly complied, in spite of the mockery of the crowd; a spring did bubble up on the spot where she dug, and it flows to this day. What is more, there have been many miraculous cures connected with bathing in or drinking from the water of the spring, some of which have been formally recorded. Although it is not an intrinsic part of the pilgrimage, thousands of people still line up every year in order to be plunged into the icy waters of Lourdes. The spring has been channeled into several large baths in which people can immerse themselves. Most of the healings do not occur at the baths themselves but during the Eucharistic procession which takes place every afternoon. Those seeking healing of any kind, be it spiritual, emotional or physical, are encouraged to make going to confession and receiving holy communion a part of their pilgrimage. Bathing in the spring is ultimately to be seen as a symbol of the renewal of one's baptismal commitment to Christ.

Related Posts with Thumbnails