Sunday, April 30, 2006

SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER
The Good Shepherd Sunday - I am the good Shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know Me

"Counsels To A Religious On How To Reach Perfection" by St. John of the Cross

Jesus Mariae filius
1. Your holy Charity with few words asked me for a great deal. An answer would require much time and paper. Seeing, then, that I lack both of these, I will try to be concise and jot down only certain points and counsels that in sum will contain much, so that whoever observes them perfectly will attain a high degree of perfection. The one who wishes to be a true religious and fulfill the promises of the profession that was made to God, advance in virtue, and enjoy the consolations and the delight of the Holy Spirit, will be unable to do so without trying to practice with the greatest diligence the four following counsels concerning resignation, mortification, the practice of virtue, and bodily and spiritual solitude.
2. In order to practice the first counsel, concerning resignation, you should live in the monastery as though no one else were in it. And thus you should never, by word or by thought, meddle in things that happen in the community, nor with individuals in it, desiring not to notice their good or bad qualities or their conduct. And in order to preserve your tranquility of soul, even if the whole world crumbles you should not desire to advert to these things or interfere, remembering Lot's wife who was changed into hard stone because she turned her head to look at those who in the midst of much clamor and noise were perishing [Gn. 19:26]. You should practice this with great fortitude, for you will thereby free yourself from many sins and imperfections and guard the tranquility and quietude of your soul with much profit before God and others. Ponder this often, because it is so important that, for not observing it, many religious not only failed to improve through their other works of virtue and religious observance, but ever slipped back from bad to worse.
3. To practice the second counsel, which concerns mortification, and profit by it, you should engrave this truth on your heart. And it is that you have not come to the monastery for any other reason than to be worked and tried in virtue; you are like the stone that must be chiseled and fashioned before being set in the building. Thus you should understand that those who are in the monastery are craftsmen placed there by God to mortify you by working and chiseling at you. Some will chisel with words, telling you what you would rather not hear; others by deed, doing against you what you would rather not endure; others by their temperament, being in their person and in their actions a bother and annoyance to you; and others by their thoughts, neither esteeming nor feeling love for you. You ought to suffer these mortifications and annoyances with inner patience, being silent for love of God and understanding that you did not enter the religious life for any other reason than for others to work you in this way, and so you become worthy of heaven. If this was not your reason for entering the religious state, you should not have done so, but should have remained in the world to seek your comfort, honor, reputation, and ease.
4. The second counsel is wholly necessary for religious so they may fulfill the obligations of their state and find genuine humility, inward quietude, and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you do not practice this, you will know neither how to be a religious nor even why you came to the religious life. Neither will you know how to seek Christ (but only yourself), or find peace of soul, or avoid sinning and often feeling troubled. Trials will never be lacking in religious life, nor does God want them to be. Since he brings souls there to be proved and purified, like gold, with hammer and the fire [Ecclus. 2:5], it is fitting that they encounter trials and temptations from human beings and from devils, and the fire of anguish and affliction.2 The religious must undergo these trials and should endeavor to bear them patiently and in conformity to God's will, and not so sustain them that instead of being approved by God in this affliction he be reproved for not having wanted to carry the cross of Christ in patience. Since many religious do not understand that they have entered religious life to carry Christ's cross, they do not get along well with others. At the time of reckoning they will find themselves greatly confused and frustrated.
5. To practice the third counsel, which concerns the practice of virtue, you should be constant in your religious observance and in obedience without any concern for the world, but only for God. In order to achieve this and avoid being deceived, you should never set your eyes on the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the work at hand as a motive for doing it or failing to do it, but on doing it for God. Thus you must undertake all things, agreeable or disagreeable, for the sole purpose of pleasing God through them.
6. To do this with fortitude and constancy and acquire the virtues quickly, you should take care always to be inclined to the difficult more than to the easy, to the rugged more than to the soft, to the hard and distasteful in a work more than to its delightful and pleasant aspects; and do not go about choosing what is less a cross, for the cross is a light burden [Mt. 11:30]. The heavier a burden is, the lighter it becomes when borne for Christ. You should try, too, by taking the lowest place always, that in things bringing comfort to your brothers in religion they be preferred to you. This you should do wholeheartedly, for it is the way to becoming greater in spiritual things, as God tells us in his Gospel: Qui se humiliaverit exaltabitur3 [Mt. 23:12].
7. To practice the fourth counsel, which concerns solitude, you should deem everything in the world as finished. Thus, when (for not being able to avoid it) you have to deal with some matter, do so in as detached a way as you would if it did not exist.
8. Pay no heed to the things out in the world, for God has already withdrawn and released you from them. Do not handle any business yourself that you can do through a third person. It is very fitting for you to desire to see no one and that no one see you. And note carefully that if God will ask a strict account from all the faithful of every idle word, how much more will he ask it of religious who have consecrated all their life and works to him. And God will demand all of this on the day of reckoning.
9. I do not mean here that you fail to fulfill the duties of your state with all necessary and possible care, and any others that obedience commands, but that you execute your tasks in such a way that no fault is committed; for neither God nor obedience wants you to commit a fault. You should consequently strive to be incessant in prayer, and in the midst of your corporal practices do not abandon it. Whether you eat, or drink, or speak, or converse with lay people, or do anything else, you should always do so with desire for God and with your heart fixed on him. This is very necessary for inner solitude, which demands that the soul dismiss any thought that is not directed to God. And in forgetfulness of all the things that are and happen in this short and miserable life, do not desire to know anything in any way except how better to serve God and keep the observance of your institute.
10. If your Charity observes these four counsels with care, you will reach perfection in a very short time. These counsels are so interdependent that if you are lacking in one of them, you will begin to lose the profit and gain you have from practicing the others.
Degrees Of Perfection
1. Do not commit a sin for all there is in the world, or any deliberate venial sin, or any known imperfection.
2. Endeavor to remain always in the presence of God, either real, imaginative, or unitive insofar as is permitted by your works.
3. Neither do anything nor say any notable word that Christ would not have done or said were he in the state I am, as old as I, and with the same kind of health.
4. Strive for the greater honor and glory of God in all things.
5. Do not omit mental prayer for any occupation, for it is the sustenance of your soul.
6. Do not omit examination of conscience because of any of your occupations, and for every fault do some penance.
7. Be deeply sorry for any time that is lost or that passes without your loving God. 8. In all things, both high and low, let God be your goal, for in no other way will you grow in merit and perfection.
9. Never give up prayer, and should you find dryness and difficulty, persevere in it for this very reason. God often desires to see what love your soul has, and love is not tried by ease and satisfaction.
10. In heaven and on earth, always the lowest and last place and office.
11. Never interfere in what you are not ordered to do, or be obstinate about anything, even though you may be right. And if, as the saying goes, they give you an inch, do not take a mile. Some deceive themselves in such matters and think they have an obligation to do that which - if they reflect upon it well - in no way obliges them.
12. Pay no attention to the affairs of others, whether they be good or bad, for besides the danger of sin, this is a cause of distractions and lack of spirit.
13. Strive always to confess your sins with a deep knowledge of your own wretchedness and with clarity and purity.
14. Even though your obligations and duties are difficult and disagreeable to you, you should not become dismayed, for this will not always be so. And God, who proves the soul by a precept under the guise of a trial [Ps.94:20], will after a time accord it the experience of blessing and gain.
15. Remember always that everything that happens to you, whether prosperous or adverse, comes from God, so that you become neither puffed up in prosperity nor discouraged in adversity.
16. Remember always that you came here for no other reason than to be a saint; thus let nothing reign in your soul that does not lead you to sanctity.
17. Always be more disposed toward giving to others than giving to yourself, and thus you will not be envious of or selfish toward your neighbor. This is to be understood from the viewpoint of perfection, for God is angered with those who do not give precedence to his good pleasure over that of humans.

Soli Deo honor et gloria.

Copyright ICS Publications. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, if this copyright notice is included. Read whole post......
St. Catherine of Siena
From Catholic Encyclopedia

Dominican Tertiary, born at Siena, 25 March, 1347; died at Rome, 29 April, 1380.
She was the youngest but one of a very large family. Her father, Giacomo di Benincasa, was a dyer; her mother, Lapa, the daughter of a local poet. They belonged to the lower middle-class faction of tradesmen and petty notaries, known as "the Party of the Twelve", which between one revolution and another ruled the Republic of Siena from 1355 to 1368. From her earliest childhood Catherine began to see visions and to practise extreme austerities. At the age of seven she consecrated her virginity to Christ; in her sixteenth year she took the habit of the Dominican Tertiaries, and renewed the life of the anchorites of the desert in a little room in her father's house. After three years of celestial visitations and familiar conversation with Christ, she underwent the mystical experience known as the "spiritual espousals", probably during the carnival of 1366. She now rejoined her family, began to tend the sick, especially those afflicted with the most repulsive diseases, to serve the poor, and to labour for the conversion of sinners. Though always suffering terrible physical pain, living for long intervals on practically no food save the Blessed Sacrament, she was ever radiantly happy and full of practical wisdom no less than the highest spiritual insight. All her contemporaries bear witness to her extraordinary personal charm, which prevailed over the continual persecution to which she was subjected even by the friars of her own order and by her sisters in religion. She began to gather disciples round her, both men and women, who formed a wonderful spiritual fellowship, united to her by the bonds of mystical love. During the summer of 1370 she received a series of special manifestations of Divine mysteries, which culminated in a prolonged trance, a kind of mystical death, in which she had a vision of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, and heard a Divine command to leave her cell and enter the public life of the world. She began to dispatch letters to men and women in every condition of life, entered into correspondence with the princes and republics of Italy, was consulted by the papal legates about the affairs of the Church, and set herself to heal the wounds of her native land by staying the fury of civil war and the ravages of faction. She implored the pope, Gregory XI, to leave Avignon, to reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States, and ardently threw herself into his design for a crusade, in the hopes of uniting the powers of Christendom against the infidels, and restoring peace to Italy by delivering her from the wandering companies of mercenary soldiers. While at Pisa, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, 1375, she received the Stigmata, although, at her special prayer, the marks did not appear outwardly in her body while she lived.

Mainly through the misgovernment of the papal officials, war broke out between Florence and the Holy See, and almost the whole of the Papal States rose in insurrection. Catherine had already been sent on a mission from the pope to secure the neutrality of Pisa and Lucca. In June, 1376, she went to Avignon as ambassador of the Florentines, to make their peace; but, either through the bad faith of the republic or through a misunderstanding caused by the frequent changes in its government, she was unsuccessful. Nevertheless she made such a profound impression upon the mind of the pope, that, in spite of the opposition of the French king and almost the whole of the Sacred College, he returned to Rome (17 January, 1377). Catherine spent the greater part of 1377 in effecting a wonderful spiritual revival in the country districts subject to the Republic of Siena, and it was at this time that she miraculously learned to write, though she still seems to have chiefly relied upon her secretaries for her correspondence. Early in 1378 she was sent by Pope Gregory to Florence, to make a fresh effort for peace. Unfortunately, through the factious conduct of her Florentine associates, she became involved in the internal politics of the city, and during a popular tumult (22 June) an attempt was made upon her life. She was bitterly disappointed at her escape, declaring that her sins had deprived her of the red rose of martyrdom. Nevertheless, during the disastrous revolution known as "the tumult of the Ciompi", she still remained at Florence or in its territory until, at the beginning of August, news reached the city that peace had been signed between the republic and the new pope. Catherine then instantly returned to Siena, where she passed a few months of comparative quiet, dictating her "Dialogue", the book of her meditations and revelations.

In the meanwhile the Great Schism had broken out in the Church. From the outset Catherine enthusiastically adhered to the Roman claimant, Urban VI, who in November, 1378, summoned her to Rome. In the Eternal City she spent what remained of her life, working strenuously for the reformation of the Church, serving the destitute and afflicted, and dispatching eloquent letters in behalf of Urban to high and low in all directions. Her strength was rapidly being consumed; she besought her Divine Bridegroom to let her bear the punishment for all the sins of the world, and to receive the sacrifice of her body for the unity and renovation of the Church; at last it seemed to her that the Bark of Peter was laid upon her shoulders, and that it was crushing her to death with its weight. After a prolonged and mysterious agony of three months, endured by her with supreme exultation and delight, from Sexagesima Sunday until the Sunday before the Ascension, she died. Her last political work, accomplished practically from her death-bed, was the reconciliation of Pope Urban VI with the Roman Republic (1380).

Among Catherine's principal followers were Fra Raimondo delle Vigne, of Capua (d. 1399), her confessor and biographer, afterwards General of the Dominicans, and Stefano di Corrado Maconi (d. 1424), who had been one of her secretaries, and became Prior General of the Carthusians. Raimondo's book, the "Legend", was finished in 1395. A second life of her, the "Supplement", was written a few years later by another of her associates, Fra Tomaso Caffarini (d. 1434), who also composed the "Minor Legend", which was translated into Italian by Stefano Maconi. Between 1411 and 1413 the depositions of the surviving witnesses of her life and work were collected at Venice, to form the famous "Process". Catherine was canonized by Pius II in 1461. The emblems by which she is known in Christian art are the lily and book, the crown of thorns, or sometimes a heart--referring to the legend of her having changed hearts with Christ. Her principal feast is on the 30th of April, but it is popularly celebrated in Siena on the Sunday following. The feast of her Espousals is kept on the Thursday of the carnival.

The works of St. Catherine of Siena rank among the classics of the Italian language, written in the beautiful Tuscan vernacular of the fourteenth century. Notwithstanding the existence of many excellent manuscripts, the printed editions present the text in a frequently mutilated and most unsatisfactory condition. Her writings consist of

the "Dialogue", or "Treatise on Divine Providence";
a collection of nearly four hundred letters; and
a series of "Prayers".
The "Dialogue" especially, which treats of the whole spiritual life of man in the form of a series of colloquies between the Eternal Father and the human soul (represented by Catherine herself), is the mystical counterpart in prose of Dante's "Divina Commedia".
A smaller work in the dialogue form, the "Treatise on Consummate Perfection", is also ascribed to her, but is probably spurious. It is impossible in a few words to give an adequate conception of the manifold character and contents of the "Letters", which are the most complete expression of Catherine's many-sided personality. While those addressed to popes and sovereigns, rulers of republics and leaders of armies, are documents of priceless value to students of history, many of those written to private citizens, men and women in the cloister or in the world, are as fresh and illuminating, as wise and practical in their advice and guidance for the devout Catholic today as they were for those who sought her counsel while she lived. Others, again, lead the reader to mystical heights of contemplation, a rarefied atmosphere of sanctity in which only the few privileged spirits can hope to dwell. The key-note to Catherine's teaching is that man, whether in the cloister or in the world, must ever abide in the cell of self-knowledge, which is the stable in which the traveller through time to eternity must be born again. Read whole post......

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Saturday - Day of our Lady

"The Glories of Mary" by St. Alphonsus of Liquori

Tenth devotion
In this tenth and last Devotion I unite several devotions which may be practised in honour of Mary
1. To say or to hear Mass, or to have Mass said in honour of the Blessed Virgin. It is true that the holy sacrifice of the Mass can be offered to God alone principally as an acknowledgement of His supreme dominion. But the sacred Council Trent says this does not prevent its being, at the same time, offered to God in thanksgiving for the graces granted to the Saints and to His most holy Mother, that whilst we are mindful of them, they may deign to intercede for us. And for this reason at mass we say, "That it may avail to their honour, but to our salvation - Ut illis proficiat ad honorem, nobis autem ad salutem". Our Blessed Lady herself revealed to a holy soul, that this devotion of offering the Mass, as also of saying the Mass, as also saying three 'Paters,' 'Aves,' and 'Glorias', in honour of the most Holy Trinity, and in thanksgiving for the graces granted to her, was most pleasing to her; for the Blessed Virgin, being unable fully to thank our Lord for all the precious gifts He has bestowed on her, rejoices greatly when her children help her to thank God.
2.To reverence the Saints which are most closely related to Mary, as St. Joseph, St. Joachim, St. Ann. The Blessed Virgin herself recommended a certain nobleman to be devout towards her mother, St. Anne. We should also honour the Saints who were most devouted to the Divine Mother, such as St. John Evangelist, St John the Baptist, St Bernard, St. John Damascen the defender of her images, St. Ildephonsus the defender of her virginity.
3. To read every day the book which treats of the Glories of Mary; to preach, or at least to try to instill into all, and particularly our relations, devotions to the Divine Mother. The Blessed Virgin Mary once said to Saint Bridget, 'Take care that thy children are also my children.' To pray every day for the most devoted clients of Mary, both living and dead. We should remember the many indulgences granted by sovereign pontiffs to those who in various ways honour the Queen of heaven. Read whole post......
The Feast of St. Louis de Montfort
after Catholic Encyclopedia:
From his childhood, he was indefatigably devoted to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and, when from his twelfth year he was sent as a day pupil to the Jesuit college at Rennes, he never failed to visit the church before and after class. He joined a society of young men who during holidays ministered to the poor and to the incurables in the hospitals, and read for them edifying books during their meals. At the age of nineteen, he went on foot to Paris to follow the course in theology, gave away on the journey all his money to the poor, exchanged clothing with them, and made a vow to subsist thenceforth only on alms. He was ordained priest at the age of twenty-seven, and for some time fulfilled the duties of chaplain in a hospital. In 1705, when he was thirty-two, he found his true vocation, and thereafter devoted himself to preaching to the people. During seventeen years he preached the Gospel in countless towns and villages. As an orator he was highly gifted, his language being simple but replete with fire and divine love. His whole life was conspicuous for virtues difficult for modern degeneracy to comprehend: constant prayer, love of the poor, poverty carried to an unheard-of degree, joy in humiliations and persecutions.

The following two instances will illustrate his success. He once gave a mission for the soldiers of the garrison at La Rochelle, and moved by his words, the men wept, and cried aloud for the forgiveness of their sins. In the procession which terminated this mission, an officer walked at the head, barefooted and carrying a banner, and the soldiers, also barefooted, followed, carrying in one hand a crucifix, in the other a rosary, and singing hymns.

Grignion's extraordinary influence was especially apparent in the matter of the calvary at Pontchateau. When he announced his determination of building a monumental calvary on a neighbouring hill, the idea was enthusiastically received by the inhabitants. For fifteen months between two and four hundred peasants worked daily without recompense, and the task had just been completed, when the king commanded that the whole should be demolished, and the land restored to its former condition. The Jansenists had convinced the Governor of Brittany that a fortress capable of affording aid to persons in revolt was being erected, and for several months five hundred peasants, watched by a company of soldiers, were compelled to carry out the work of destruction. Father de Montfort was not disturbed on receiving this humiliating news, exclaiming only: "Blessed be God!"

This was by no means the only trial to which Grignion was subjected. It often happened that the Jansenists, irritated by his success, secure by their intrigues his banishment form the district, in which he was giving a mission. At La Rochelle some wretches put poison into his cup of broth, and, despite the antidote which he swallowed, his health was always impaired. On another occasion, some malefactors hid in a narrow street with the intention of assassinating him, but he had a presentiment of danger and escaped by going by another street. A year before his death, Father de Montfort founded two congregations -- the Sisters of Wisdom, who were to devote themselves to hospital work and the instruction of poor girls, and the Company of Mary, composed of missionaries. He had long cherished these projects but circumstances had hindered their execution, and, humanly speaking, the work appeared to have failed at his death, since these congregations numbered respectively only four sisters and two priests with a few brothers. But the blessed founder, who had on several occasions shown himself possessed of the gift of prophecy, knew that the tree would grow. At the beginning of the twentieth century the Sisters of Wisdom numbered five thousand, and were spread throughout every country; they possessed forty-four houses, and gave instruction to 60,000 children. After the death of its founder, the Company of Mary was governed for 39 years by Father Mulot. He had at first refused to join de Montfort in his missionary labours. "I cannot become a missionary", said he, "for I have been paralysed on one side for years; I have an affection of the lungs which scarcely allows me to breathe, and am indeed so ill that I have no rest day or night." But the holy man, impelled by a sudden inspiration, replied, "As soon as you begin to preach you will be completely cured." And the event justified the prediction. Grignion de Montfort was beatified by Leo XIII in 1888.

[Note: Louis de Montfort was canonized by Pius XII in 1947.] Read whole post......

Friday, April 28, 2006

1st Week after Easter. "Meditative reading" fragments from "Divine Intimacy" by Fr Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene OCD

PRESENCE OF GOD - O Lord, teach me to seek You, even when my heart is dry and my mind distracted.
MEDITATION.
1.The simplest way of conversing with God is certainly vocal prayer, properly made; but as the soul progress in the spiritual life, it is natural for it to feel the need of a more interior prayer, of one more intimate; and so it spontaneously turns toward mental prayer. If the divine attraction takes hold of the soul by giving it some sensible devotion, no difficulty is experienced in becoming recollected in God; on the contrary, this exercise becomes extremely easy and pleasant. But it is quite different when the soul is left to itself, especially if an excessive activity of the imagination makes thoughts on a definite subject almost impossible....Those who are in this condition are easily tempted to give up mental prayer, which has become so painful that they find it almost impossible. The Saint has an entirely different opinion, and insist that even these can apply themselves to mental prayer with profit, although they ought to do it in a somewhat special way. This way consists in helping themselves by reading a book, which, she says, "will be a great help to recollection, and is practically indispensable; let the read, therefore, even if only a little, but let them read" (Life, 4).
.....we should use some devout book in which we can find, from time to time, a good thought which serves to recollect us in God, to put us in contact with Him. St. Therese of Child Jesus, who suffered habitually from aridity, often used this method. "In my helplessness", she said, "the Holy Scriptures and the Imitation are of the greatest assistance....it is the Gospels, however, that I derive most help in the time of prayer; I find in their pages all that my poor soul needs, and I am always discovering there new lights and hidden, mysterious meanings" ( St, 8).

2. St. Teresa of Jesus, who before she was raised to the highest state of contemplation had long known aridity and the torment of importunate thoughts during prayer, confesses: "I passed more than fourteen years unable to meditate, except with the help of the book....With this help, I was able to collect my wandering thoughts, and the book acted like a bait to my soul. Often, I only needed to open the book; sometimes I read a little, at other times much, according to the fevour which the Lord showed me" (Way 17 - Life, 4).
It is important to chose a book which will arouse devotion, such as, in general, the writings of the saints. It will be usually preferable to take a book we have already read and one which we know will be helpful. Wee can even have marked some passages in it which have made an impression on us, whereas with the new book we would somewhat lost and perhaps exposed to the temptation of reading out of curiosity. We must avoid selecting authors who are too speculative, and choose instead those who are more practical and affective, since we are not interested in studying or learning but in praying, which consists much more in the exercise of love than in the work of the mind.
Hence we should, from time to time, only what is necessary to put the soul in a proper mood of conversing with God. As soon as we have read enough - and it may be only a sentence - to arouse in us good thoughts and holy affections which will occupy our mind devoutly, we must stop reading and turn our attention directly to God: meditating in His presence on the thoughts we have read, or savouring in silence the devotion they have awakened in our heart, or even speaking to Him the loving words inspired by the reading.....

COLLOQUY
......Grant me, O Lord, this grace, without which no reading, however sublime, can inspire me with devotion; no reasoning, however lofty, can move my heart to love You and my will to accomplish good. Read whole post......

Thursday, April 27, 2006

1st Week after Easter. "Vocal prayer" fragments from "Divine Intimacy" by Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene OCD

PRESENCE OF GOD - Lord, teach me to pray!
MEDITATION
1. When one of His disciples said to Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Lk 11,1), He taught them a very simple vocal prayer: the Our Father. It is certainly the most sublime formula possible and contains the whole essence of the most elevated mental prayer. However, Jesus gave it as a formula for vocal prayer: "When you pray, say..."(ibid.11,2). This is enough to make us understand the value and importance of vocal prayer, which is within the reach of everyone - even children, the uneducated, the sick, the weary.....[but] vocal prayer does not consist only in the repetition of a certain formula. If it were true, we should have a recitation but not a prayer, for a prayer always requires a movement, an elevation of the soul toward God.....Therefore, in order that our vocal prayer be real prayer, we must first recollect ourselves in the presence of God, approach Him, and make contact with Him. Only when we have such dispositions will words we promounce with our lips express our interior devotion and be able to sustain and nourish it. Unfortunately, inclined as we are to grasp the material part of things instead of the spiritual, it is only too easy in our vocal prayer to content ourselves with a mechanical recitation, without taking care to direct our heart to God; hence we should always be vigilant and alert. Vocal prayer made only by the lips dissipates and wearies the soul instead of recollecting it in God; it cannot be said that this is a means of uniting us more closely to Him.

COLLOQUY
....I cannot distinguish mental prayer from vocal prayer when faithfully recited with a realization that it is You, O Lord, that we are addressing. Further, we are nnot under the obligation of trying to pray attentively? (T.J.Way, 22-24). Read whole post......

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Our Lady of Good Counsel Feast Day
On the Feast of Saint Mark, April 25 1467, the people of Genazzano, Italy witnessed a marvellous sight. A cloud descended upon an ancient church dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel. When the cloud disappeared, an image of Our Lady and the Child Jesus was revealed which had not been there before. The image, on a paper-thin sheet, was suspended miraculously.
Soon after the image's appearance many miracles were attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Because of this, Pope Paul II ordered an investigation and the results have been preserved. It was later discovered that the very same image had been seen in a church dedicated to the Annunciation in Scutari, Albania. The image in this church was said to have arrived there in a miraculous manner. Now, the image had been transported from Albania miraculously to avoid sacrilege from Moslem invasion. A commission of enquiry determined that a portrait from the church was indeed missing. An empty space the same size as the portrait was displayed for all to see. Many miracles continue to be attributed to Our Lady of Good Counsel. Pope Saint Pius V, for example, credited victory in the Battle of Lepanto to Her intercession. Several Popes have approved the miraculous image. In 1682 Pope Innocent XI had the portrait crowned with gold. On July 2 1753 Pope Benedict XIV approved the Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and was the first to wear it. In 1884 a special Mass and Office of the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel was approved by Pope Leo XIII. For more than 500 years the image has continued to attract countless pilgrims. Although much of the church was destroyed during World War II, the image has remained intact — and continues to be suspended miraculously.

Prayer to Our Lady of Good Counsel after www.catholictradition.org
Most Glorious Virgin, chosen by the Eternal Counsel to be the Mother of the Eternal Word made flesh, thou who art the treasurer of Divine graces, and the advocate of sinners, I, thy most unworthy servant, have recourse to thee; be thou pleased to be my guide and counselor in this vale of tears.
Obtain for me through the Most Precious Blood of thy Divine Son, the forgiveness of my sins, the salvation of my soul, and the means necessary to obtain it.
In like manner, obtain for Holy Mother the Church victory over her enemies, and the spread of the kingdom of Jesus Christ upon the whole earth. Amen.

Imprimatur: + Patrick A. O'Boyle Read whole post......

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

1st Week after Easter. From "The Roman Breviary" at Matins for Tuesday. From the Acts of Apostles

Lesson i (c. 2: 1-8)
And when the days of Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming: and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire: and it sat upon every one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost: and they began to speak with divers tongues according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devouted men, out of every nation under heaven. And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together and were confounded in mind, because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue. And they were all amazed and wondered, saying: Behold, are not all these that speak Galileans? And how have we heard every man our own tongue wherein we were born?

Lesson ii
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and spoke to them: Ye men of Israel, why wonder at this? Or why look you upon us, as if by our strength or power we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus, whom you indeed delivered up and denied before the face of Pilate, when he judged he should be released. But you denied the Holy One and the Just: and desired a murderer to be granted unto you. But the author of life you killed, whom God hath raised from the dead: of which we are witnesses. And in the faith of his name, this man whom you have seen and known, hath his name strengthened. And the faith which is by him given this perfect soundness in the sight of you all.
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Monday, April 24, 2006

1st Week After Octave of Easter. From "The Roman Breviary" - at Matins

Here begins the book of the Acts of the Apostles

Lesson i: c.I, 1-26
The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day on which, giving commandments by the Holy Ghost to the apostles whom he had chosen, he was taken up. To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them and speaking of the Kingdom of God. And eating together with them, he commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of the Father, which you have heard (saith he) by my mouth. For John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence. They therefore who were come together asked him, saying: Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? But he said to them: It is not for you to know the times or moments, which the Father hath put in his own power: but you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth.

Lesson ii
And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments. Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven shall so come as you have seen him going into heaven. Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a sabbath day's journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alfeus and Simon Zelotes and Jude the brother of James. All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

From "The Saint Andrew Daily Missal" - Historical note for Easter
....I went forth from the Father and am come into the world: again I leave the world and go to the Father. Rejoice, for I go to prepare a place for you in heaven, so that there where I am, you may be also. Yet a little while and you shall see me no more, and then you shall be plunged into sadness. But I will not leave you fatherless, I will come to you again through my Holy Spirit, for if anyone love Me in this Holy Spirit, my Father will love him and We will come to him and make our abode with him. I will therefore, ask My Father to send you the Holy Ghost, and you will then rejoice always. And when this Holy Spirit is come, He will give testimony of Me and you will then ask the Father in My name (that is, resting on my merits all the efficacy of which you will then understand, for I have strengthened you that you may go forth and bear fruit). I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abideth in Me and I in him, he bringeth forth much fruit. And you shall be purged that you may bring forth still more, for as the world has persecuted me, so it will persecute you also. But fear not, for the Holy Ghost will speak by you and by the mouth He will convict the world of sin, showing by you that with Satan it is already judged, because it has rejected Him whom the the Father sent and glorified (Ressurection and Ascension), and that in rejecting the Son it has rejected the Father, for he sees also the Father who sees the Son.
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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Low Sunday

From "The Roman Breviary" At MATINS
Nocturn I
From the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Colossians:

Lesson i:c.3,1-17
Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: mind the things that are above, not the things that upon earth. For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is the service of idols. For which things the wrath of God cometh upon the children of unbelief, in which you also walked some time, when you lived in them.

Lesson ii
But now put also all away: anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy speech out of your mouth. Lie not to one another; stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds, and putting on the new, him who is renewed unto knowledge, according to the image of him that created him. Where there is neither gentile nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free. But Christ is all, and in all. Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience: bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also.

Lesson iii
But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection: and let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Little Chapter: 1 John, 5,4.
Dearly beloved: Whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world; and this is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith

Collect
Grant, we beseech thee, almigthy God: that we who have celebrated the Easter rites may, through thy bounty, ever cleave to them in our life and conversation. Through our Lord.
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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Saturday - Day of Our Lady

"Of having frequent recourse to Mary" from "The glories of Mary" by St. Alphonsus of Liquori

Of all devotions, there is none so pleasing to our Mother as that of having frequent recourse to her intercession, seeking her help in all our wants; for example, when we give or ask advice, in dangers, afflictions, and temptations; and particularly in temptations against purity. The Divine Mother will then certainly deliver us, if we have recourse to her with the antiphon, ' We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen. '; or by only invoking the most holy name of Mary, which has particular power against the devils. Blessed Santi, of the order of Saint Francis, being once tempted with an impure thought, had recourse to Mary: she immediately appeared to him, and placing her hand on his breast delivered him. It is also useful on these occasions to kiss or press to our heart our rosary or scapular, or to look at an image of the Blessed Virgin. It is well also to know that Benedict XIII granted fifty days' indulgence to those who pronounce the names of Jesus and Mary. Read whole post......

Friday, April 21, 2006

FRIDAY IN EASTER WEEK
From The Roman Breviary
At MATINS
The reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
Lesson I: c., 28, 16-20

At that time: The eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And seeing him they adored: but some doubted. And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

Lesson iii
Homily of St. Jerome, Priest
Book 4, Commentary on Matthew
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. This arrangement is important: he commanded the Apostles, first to teach all nations, then to steep them in the sacrament of faith, and after imparting faith and administering baptism, to instruct them in the precepts they must observe. And lest we should think these precepts to be few in number, and of small importance, he added: All things whatsoever I have commanded you; so that all those, who had believed and been baptized in the Trinity, should do all those things that are commanded. And behold I am with you even to the consummation of the world. He, who promises to be with his disciples even to the consummation of the world, also shows them that they will live for ever, and that he will never depart from those who believe in him. Read whole post......

Thursday, April 20, 2006

EASTER THURSDAY
Easter, Feast of Holiness from the "Word of Life" on the margin of the Roman Missal by Don Columba Marmion.

In her litanies, the Church applies certain qualifying titles to some of the mysteries of Jesus. She says of His Resurrection that it is "holy": Per sanctam resurrectionem tuam. Why is the Resurrection, in preference to all the other mysteries of Jesus, called "holy"? Because it is in this mystery that Christ particularly fulfills the conditions of holiness; because if, by all His life, He is the Way, and the Light, if He gives the example of every virtue compatible with His Divinity, in His Resurrection Christ is above all the example of holiness. What, then, are the elements that constitute holiness? Holiness can be resumed for us into two elements: separation from all sin, detachment from every creature; and the belonging totally and steadfastly to God. Now, in Christ's Resurrection, these two characters are found in a degree not manifested before His coming forth from the tomb. Although the Word Incarnate had been, during His entire existence, the "Holy One" like to none other, it is with effulgent brightness that He especially reveals Himself to us under this aspect in His Resurrection and it is therefore that the Church sings: Per sanctan resurrectionem tuam
.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

EASTER WEDNESDAY
The second miraculous draught of fishes (St. Matth., xxviii, 16; St. John, xxi, 1-14)
After this the eleven disciples went into Galilee; [and] Jesus shewed Himself again to [them] at the sea of Tiberias. And He shewed Himself after this manner: there were together Simon Peter, and Thomas who is called Didymus, and Nathaniel who was of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples.
Simon Peter saith to them:
"-I go a fishing."
They say to him:
"-We also come with thee."
And they went forth and entered into the ship: and that night they caught nothing.
But when the morning was come, Jesus stood on the shore: yet the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
Jesus therefore said to them:
"-Children, have you any meat?"
They answered:
"-No."
He saith to them:
"-Cast the net on the right side of the ship; and you shall find."
They cast therefore: and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. That disciples therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter:
"-It is the Lord."
Simon Peter, when he had heard that it was the Lord, girt his coat about him (for he was naked) and cast himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the ship (for they were not far from the land, but as it were two hundred cubits) dragging the net with fishes. As soon as they came to land, they saw hot coals lying, and a fish laid thereon and bread. Jesus saith to them:
"-Bring hither of the fishes which you have caught."
Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of great fishes, one hundred fifty three. And although there were so many, the net was not broken.
Jesus saith to them:
"-Come and dine."
And none of them who were at meat, durst ask Him: Who art thou? Knowing that it was the Lord. And Jesus cometh and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish in like manner. This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to His disciples, after he was risen from the dead.

At Matins from the Roman Breviary

Lesson iii
Homily of St. Gregory, Pope

Again, it may be asked why, when the disciples were labouring on the sea, the Lord appeared, after his resurrection, standing upon the shore, while before his resurrection he had walked upon the waves of the sea in the sight of the disciples. We shall soon see the reason of this, if we consider the inner nature of the case. For what does the sea represent, if not this present world, surging with the tumult of its ever-shifting fortunes, and with the billows of this corruptible life? What is signified by the solidity of the shore, if not the everlasting peace of eternity? Since therefore the disciples were as yet surrounded by the bellows of this mortal life, they were struggling on the sea: but since our Redeemer had now passed beyond the corruption of the flesh after his resurrection he was standing on the shore.
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Monday, April 17, 2006

EASTER MONDAY

PRESENCE OF GOD
Do not leave me, O Jesus, gentle Pilgrim; I have need of You

MEDITATION
1. God has made us for Himself, and we cannot live without Him; we need Him, we hunger and thirst for Him; He is the only One who can satisfy our hearts. The Easter liturgy is impregnated with this longing for God, for Him who is from on high; it even makes it the distinctive sign of our participation in the Paschal mystery. "If you be risen with Christ, seek the things, that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God; mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth" (Col 3:1,2). The more the soul revives itself in the Resurrection of Christ, the more it feels the need of God and of heavenly truth; it detaches itself more and more from earthly things to turn toward those of heaven.
Just as physical hunger is an indication of a living, healthy organism, so spiritual hunger is a sign of a robust spirit, one that is active and continually developing. The soul which feels no hunger for God, no need to seek Him and to find Him, and which does not vibrate or suffer with anxiety in its search, does not bear within itself the signs of the Resurrection. It is a dead soul, or at least one which has been weakened and rendered insensible by lukewarmness. The Paschal alleluia is a cry of triumph at Christ's Resurrection, but at the same time it is an urgent invitation for us to rise also. Like the sound of reveille, it calls us to battles of spirit, and invites us to rouse and renew ourselves, to participate ever more profoundly in Christ's Resurrection....

2. We read in today's Gospel the very beautiful story of the disciples at Emmaus (Lk 24: 13-35). Here we find the earnest supplication: "Stay with us, because it is towards evening, and the day is now far spent." Stay with us, Lord! It is the cry of the soul who has found God and never again wishes to be separated from Him. Let us too, as the disciples at Emmaus, go in search of the Lord. Our whole life is a continuous journey toward Him, and we are often sad, even as they were, because we do not succeed in finding Him, because not understanding His mysterious ways, it seems that He has abandoned us. "We hoped that it was He that should have redeemed Israel....but....," said the two disciples, frustrated by the death of Jesus, at the very moment when they were about to relinquish all hope, was there close to them, disguised as their fellow traveler. We have often shared this experience of Him. Hidden in the obscurity of faith, God draws near our soul, makes Himself our traveling companion, and still more, lives in us by grace. It is true that here below He does not reveal Himself in the clarity of the "face to face" vision which is reserved for eternity; we see Him only as through a glass in a dark manner (1 Cor 13:12); nevertheless, God knows how to make Himself known. To us as to the disciples at Emmaus, His presence is revealed in an obscure manner; yes, but unmistakably, because of the unique ardour which He alone can kindle in our hearts. The soul who has found the Lord.....cannot fail to direct Him the cry: "Stay with me!".....Let us, therefore, beg Him ardently: teach us, O Lord, to stay with You, to live with You.

QOLLOQUY
.....Remember my great misery, O Lord, and look upon my weakness, since You know all things (TJ Exc, 7 - Life).

credit: text from "Divine Intimacy" by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen OCD

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

EASTER SUNDAY





PRESENCE OF GOD - O risen Jesus, make me worthy to share in the joy of Your Resurrection.

MEDITATION
This is a day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad and rejoice therein (Psalm 118:24).

1. Joy in truth: According to the vibrant admonition of St. Paul. "Let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven....but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." In this world there are many ephemeral joys, based on fragile, insecure foundations; but the Paschal joy is solidly grounded on the knowledge that we are in the truth, the truth which Christ brought to the world and which he confirmed by His Resurrection. The Resurrection tells us that our faith is not in vain, that our hope is not founded on a dead man, but on a living one, the Living One par excellence, whose life is so strong that it vivifies, in time as in eternity, all those who believe in Him. "I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that beliveth in Me, although he be dead, shall live" (Jn 11:25). Joy in truth: for only sincere and upright souls who seek the truth lovingly and, still more, "do the truth" can fully rejoice in the Resurrection. We are sincere when we recognise ourselves for what we are, with all our faults, deficiencies, and need for conversion. From this knowledge of our miseries springs the sincere resolve to purify ourselves of the old leaven of the passions in order to be renewed completely in the risen Christ. Truth, however, must be accomplished in charity - veritatem facientes in caritatem, doing the truth in charity (Eph 4:15); therefore the Postcommunion prayer that is placed on our lips is more timely than ever: "Pour forth upon us, O Lord, the spirit of Thy love, to make us of one heart." Without unity and mutual charity there can be no real Paschal joy.

2. The Gospel (Mk 16:1-7) places before our eyes the faithful holy women who, at the first rays of the Sunday dawn, run to the sepulcher, and on the way, wonder: "Who will roll back the stone from the door of the sepulcher for us?" This preoccupation, although it is well justified on account of the size and weight of the stone, does not deter them from proceeding with their plans; they are too much taken up with the desire of finding Jesus! And behold! Hardly have they arrived when they see "the stone rolled back". They enter the tomb and find an Angel who greets them with the glad announcement: "He is risen; He is not here." At this time, Jesus does not let Himself be found or seen; but a little later when, in obedience to the command of the Angel, the women leave the tomb to bring the news to the disciples, he will appear before them saying, "All hail!" (Mt 28:9), and their joy will be overwhelming.
We, too, have a keen desire to find the Lord; perhaps we have been seeking Him for many long years. Further, this desire may have been accompanied by serious preoccupation with the question of how we might rid ourselves of the obstacles and roll away from our souls the stone which has prevented us thus far from finding the Lord, from giving ourselves entirely to Him, and from letting Him triumph in us. Precisely because we want to find the Lord, we have already overcome many obstacles, sustained by His grace; divine Providence has helped us roll away many stones, overcome many difficulties. Nevertheless, the search for God is progressive, and must be maintained during our whole life. For this reason, following the example of the holy women, we must always have a holy preoccupations about finding the Lord, a preoccupation which will make us industrious and diligent in seeking Him, and at the same time confident of the divine aid, since the Lord will certainly take care that we arrive where our own strength could never bring us, because He will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Every year Easter marks a time of renewal in our spiritual life, in our search for God; every year we reascend the path toward Him in novitate vitae, in newness of life (Rom 6:4).

COLLOQUY
....."I pray You, Lord, give my soul the wings of an eagle, that I may fly without weakening, fly, until I reach the splendour of Your glory. There, You will feed me on Your secrets at the table of the heavenly citizens, in the place of Your Pasch, near the celestial fount of eternal satiety. Let my heart rest in You, my heart which resembles a great ocean, agitated by tumultuous waves" (St. Augustine). This is the most excellent day, the happiest day in the whole year, because it is the day when "Christ, our Pasch, has been sacrificed." Christmas, too, is a joyous feast, but whereas Christmas vibrates with a characteristic note of sweetness, the Paschal solemnity resounds with an unmistakable note of triumph; it is joy for the triumph of Christ, for His victory. The liturgy of the Mass shows us this Paschal joy under two aspects: joy in truth and joy in charity

Credit: text from "Divine Intimacy" - 'The Resurrection of the Lord' (by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen OCD)

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

HOLY SATURDAY
"WHY OUR LORD WENT DOWN TO LIMBO" - "Meditations for Lent" from St. Thomas Aquinas
From the descent of Christ to hell we may learn, for our instruction, four things:
1. Firm hope in God.
No matter what the trouble in which a man finds himself, he should always put trust in God's help and rely on it. There is no trouble greater than to find oneself in hell. If then Christ freed those who were in hell, any man who is a friend of God cannot but have great confidence that he too shall be freed from whatever anxiety holds him. Wisdom forsook not the just when he was sold, but delivered him from sinners; she went down with him into the pit and in bands she left him not (Wis. X.13-14). And since to His servants God gives a special assistance, he who serves God should have still greater confidence. He that feareth the Lord shall tremble at nothing, and shall not be afraid: for he is his hope (Ecclus. xxxiv.16).
2. We ought to conceive fear and to rid ourselves of presumption.
For although Christ suffered for sinners, and went down into hell to set them free, he did not set all sinners free, but only those who were free of mortal sin. Those who had died in mortal sin He left there. Wherefore for those who have gone down to hell in mortal sin there remains no hope of pardon. They shall be in hell as the holy Fathers are in heaven, that is for ever.
3. We ought to be full of care.
Christ went down into hell for our salvation, and we should be careful frequently to go down there too, turning over in our minds hell's pain and penalties, as did the holy king Ezechias as we read in the prophecy of Isaiah, I said: In the midst of my days I shall go to the gates of hell (Isaiah xxxviii.10). Those who in their meditation often go down to hell during life, will not easily go down there at death. Such meditations are a powerful arm against sin, and a useful aid to bring a man back from sin. Daily we see men kept from evildoing by the fear of the law's punishments. How much greater care should they not take on account of the punishment of hell, greater in its duration, in its bitterness and in its variety. Remember thy last end and thou shalt never sin (Ecclus. vii. 40).
4. The fact is for us an example of love.
Christ went down into hell to set free those that were his own. We, too, therefore, should go down there to help our own. For those who are in purgatory are themselves unable to do anything, and therefore we ought to help them. Truly he would be a harsh man indeed who failed to come to the aid of a kinsman who lay in prison, here on earth. How much more harsh, then, the man who will not aid the friend who is in purgatory, for there is no comparison between the pains there and the pains of this world. Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you my friends, because the hand of the Lord hath touched me (Job xix. 21).
We help the souls in purgatory chiefly by these three means, by masses, by prayers, and by almsgiving. Nor is it wonderful that we can do so, for even in this world a friend can make satisfaction for a friend. Read whole post......

Friday, April 14, 2006

OUR LADY SEVEN SORROWS

Stabat Mater dolorósa
iuxta crucem lacrimósa,
dum pendébat Fílius.

Cuius ánimam geméntem,
contristátam et doléntem
pertransívit gládius.

O quam tristis et afflícta
fuit illa benedícta,
mater Unigéniti!

Quæ mærébat et dolébat, pia Mater, dum vidébat Nati poenas íncliti.

Quis est homo qui non fleret, Matrem Christi si vidéret tanto supplício?

Quis non posset contristári, piam Matrem contemplári doléntem cum Fílio?

Pro peccátis suæ gentis vidit lesum in torméntis, et flagéllis súbditum.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum moriéndo desolátum, dum emísit spíritum.

Eia, Mater, fons amóris me sentíre vim dolóris fac, ut tecum lúgeam.

Fac ut árdeat cor meum in amándo Christum Deum, ut sibi compláceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas, Crucifíxi fige plagas cordi meo válide.

Tui Nati vulneráti, tam dignáti pro me pati, poenas mecum divide.

Fac me tecum pie flere, Crucifíxo condolére, donec ego víxero.

Iuxta crucem tecum stare, ac me tibi sociáre in planctu desídero.

Virgo vírginum præclára, mihi iam non sis amára, fac me tecum plángere.

Fac ut portem Christi mortem, passiónis fac me sortem, et plagas recólere.

Fac me plagis vulnerári, cruce hac inebriári, et cruóre Filii.

Flammis urar succénsus, per te, Virgo, sim defénsus in die iudícii.

Fac me cruce custodíri, morte Christi præmuníri, confovéri grátia.

Quando corpus moriétur, fac ut ánimæ donétur Paradísi glória. Read whole post......

Thursday, April 13, 2006

HOLY THURSDAY
The Gift of Love fragments from "Divine Intimacy" Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen OCD

PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, grant that I may fathom the immensity of that love which led You to give us the Eucharist.

MEDITATION
1. "Having loved His own....He loved them unto the end" (Jn 13, 1-15), and in those last intimate hours spent in their midst, He wished to give them the greatest proof of love. Those were hours of sweet intimacy, but also of most painful anguish. Judas had already set the price of the infamous sale; Peter was about to deny his Master; all of them within a short time would abandon Him. The institution of Eucharist appeared then as the answer of Jesus to the treachery of men, as the greatest gift of His infinite love in return for the blackest ingratitude. The merciful God would pursue his rebellious creatures, not with threats, but with the most delicate devices of His immense charity. Jesus had already done and suffered so much for sinful man, but now, at the moment when human malice is about to sound the lowest depths of the abyss, He exhausts only as the Redeemer, who will die for him on the Cross, but also as the food which will nourish him. He will feed man with His own Flesh and Blood; moreover, death might claim Him in a few hours, but the Eucharist will perpetuate His real, living presence until the end of time. "O You who are mad about Your creature!" exclaimed St. Catherine of Siena, "true God and true Man, You have left Yourself wholly to us, as food, so that we will not fall through weariness during our pilgrimage in this life, but will be fortified by Your celestial Nourishment!"
Today's Mass is, in a very special way, the commemoration and the renewal of the Last Supper, in which we are all invited to participate. Let us enter the Church and gather close around the altar as if going into the Cenacle to gather around Jesus. Here we find, as did the Apostle at Jerusalem, the Master living in our midst, and He Himself, through the person of His minister, will renew once again the great miracle which changes bread and wine into His Body and Blood; He will say to us, "Take and eat...take and drink."
It was Jesus Himself who made the arrangements for the Last Supper, choosing "a large room" (Lk 22,12), and bidding the Apostles to prepare it suitably. Our hearts, dilated and made spacious by love, must also be a "large" cenacle, where Jesus may come and worthily celebrate His Pasch. Read whole post......

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wednesday of Holy Week
"THE MAN OF SORROWS" from "Divine Intimacy" by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen OCD

PRESENCE OF GOD - O suffering Jesus, grant that I may read in Your Passion Your love for me.

MEDITATION
1. Today's Mass contains two lessons from Isaias (62,11; 63, 1-7; 53, 1-12) which describe in a very impressive way the figure of Jesus, the Man of Sorrows. It is the suffering Christ who presents Himself to us, covered with the shining purple of His Blood, wounded from head to foot."Why then is Thy apparel red, and Thy garments like theirs that tread in the winepress? I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the Gentiles there is not a man with Me." All alone Jesus trod the winepress of His Passion. Let us think of His agony in the Garden of Olives, where the vehemence of His grief covered all His members with a bloody sweat. Let us think of the moment when Pilate, after having Him scourged, brought Him before the mob, saying: "Behold the Man!" Jesus stood there, His head crowned with thorns, His flesh lacerated by the whips; the brilliant red of His Blood mingled with the purple of His cloak of derision with which the soldiers had clothed their mock king. Christ was offering Himself as a sacrifice for men, shedding His Blood for their salvation, and men were abandoning Him. "I looked about and there was none to help; I sought, and there was none to give aid" (Roman Missal). Where were the sick whom He had cured, the blind, who at the touch of His hand had recovered their sight, the dead who were raised to life, the thousands whom he had miraculously fed with bread in the wilderness, the wretched without number who in countless ways had experienced His goodness? Before Jesus there was only an infuriated mob clamoring: Crucify Him! Crucify Him Even the Apostles, His most intimate friends, had fled; indeed one of them had betrayed Him: "If he that hated Me had spoken great things against Me, I would perhaps have hidden Myself from him! But thou, a man of one mind, My guide, and My familiar, who didst take sweetmeats together with Me" (Ps 54, 13.14). We read these words today, as on all the Wednesdays of the year, in the psalms of Terce. To this text which is so deeply expressive of the bitterness Jesus felt when betrayed and abandoned by His own, there is a corresponding response at Matins: "Instead of loving Me, they decried Me, and returned evil for good, and hate in exchange for My love" (Roman Breviary). As we contemplate Jesus in His Passion, each one of us can say to himself, dilexit me, et tradidit semetipsum pro me, He loved me, and delivered Himself for me (Gal 2,20); and it would be well to add,"How have I repaid His love?"

2. Jesus is singularly worthy of the gratitude and fidelity of men. No one has ever done more for them than He; yet no one has suffered more than He the bitterness of ingratitude and treachery. Let us review for a moment the prologue of St. John's Gospel, which presents Jesus to us in all His divine Majesty, in the eternal splendour of the Word, the "true light which enlightened every man that cometh into this world." Compare it then with the lesson from Isaias (2nd lesson of the Mass), which describes the opprobrium and ignominy to which His Passion has reduced Him. The result should be a deeper understanding of the two great truths that emerge: the exceeding charity with which Jesus has loved us, and the enormous gravity of sin. Of Him, the Son of God, it is written: "There is no beauty in Him, nor comeliness: and we have seen Him, and there was no sightliness that we should be desirous of Him: despised and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows.....His look was, as it were, hidden." He has no beauty, He who is the splendour of the Father. He seeks to hide His face, He, the sight of whose face is the beatitude of the angels and saints. He is so disfigured that He seems like a leper, so abject that no account is made of Him. To this pitiable condition our sins have reduced Him. "Surely He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows" - infirmities and sorrows are the consequences of sin....The Lord took all our iniquities upon Himself."
The consideration of the horror of sin should throw into relief the other great truth of the Passion; namely, the inexpressible love of Christ. This love made Him willingly accept His Passion; and having accepted it because "He willed it," he did not evade His enemies, but freely gave Himself into their hands. Let us recall the moment when Jesus, by His divine power, cast to the ground the soldiers who had come to arrest Him, and having said that, if he wished, He could have legions of angels to defend Him, allowed them to take and bind Him without any resistance. Let us remember that, when He was taken prisoner and condemned, He did not hesitate to say to the Roman governor, "Thou shouldst not have any power against Me, unless it were given thee from above" (Jn 19,11). Jesus is the victim. He goes willingly to be sacrificed; he immolates Himself lovingly, with sovereign liberty. We touch here the summit of love, the summit of liberty, for we speak of the love and the liberty of God....... Read whole post......

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tuesday in Holy Week
The Roman Breviary
At MATINS
From Jeremias the Prophet
Lesson i: c.11,15-20
What is the meaning that my beloved hath wrought much wickedness in my house? Shall the holy flesh take away from thee thy crimes in which thou hast boasted? The Lord called thy name, a plentiful olive tree, fair, fruitful, and beautiful: at the noise of a word, a great fire was kindled in it and the branches thereof are burnt. And the Lord of hosts that planted thee hath pronounced evil against thee: for the evils of the house of Israel and of the house of Juda which they have done to themselves, to provoke me, offering to Baalim. But thou, O Lord, hast shewn me, and I have known: then thou shewedst me their doings. And I was as a meek lamb that is carried to be a victim: and I knew not that they had devised counsels against me, saying: Let us put wood in his bread and cut him off from the land of the living, and let his name be remembered no more. But thou, O Lord of Sabaoth, who judgest justly and tries the reins and the hearts, let me see thy revenge on them: for to thee have I revealed my cause.
R. I have suffered reproaches and fears from them who were my familiars, and continued at my side, saying: Let us entice him: but thou, O Lord, art with me as a strong warrior. Let them fall into everlasting confusion, that I may see they vengeance upon them, for unto thee I have opened my cause.
V. Judge, O Lord, the cause of my soul, O thou the defender of my life.

Lesson ii: c.12, 1-4
Thou indeed, O Lord, art just, if I plead with thee, but yet I will speak what is just to thee: Why doth the way of the wicked prosper? Why is it well with all them that transgress and do wickedly? Thou hast planted them, and they have taken root: they prosper and bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth and far from their reins. And thou, O Lord, hast known me and proved my heart with thee: gather them together as sheep for a sacrifice, and prepare them for the day off slaughter. How long shall the land mourn and the herb of every field wither for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? The beasts and the birds are consumed: because they have said: He shall not see our last end.
R. For thy sake, O God of Israel, I have borne reproach, shame hath covered my face, I am became a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children: For zeal of thy house hath eaten me up.
V. Draw nigh unto my soul, and deliver it, save me because of my enemies.

Lesson iii
I have forsaken my house, I have left my inheritance, I have given my dear soul into the hand of her enemies. My inheritance is become to me as a lion in the wood: it hath cried out against me. Therefore have I hated it. Is my inheritance to me as a speckled bird? Is it as a bird dyed throughout? Come ye, assemble yourselves, all ye beasts of the earth, make haste to devour. Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard: they have trodden my portion under foot, they have changed my delightful portion into a desolate wilderness. They have laid it waste, and it hath mourned for me. With desolation is all the land made desolate, because there is none that considereth in the heart.
R. The congregation of the people hath surrounded me: and I have not made a return to them that did evils to me. O Lord, let the wickedness of sinners be brought to naught, and thou shalt direct the just.
V. Judge me, O Lord, according to thy justice, and according to thy justice, and according to my innocence in me. Read whole post......

Monday, April 10, 2006

Monday in Holy Week
The Roman Breviary
The reading of the holy Gospel according to John
Lesson i: c.12,1-9
Six days before the Pasch Jesus came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life. And they made him a supper there: and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that were at table with him. Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of a great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him, said: Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein. Jesus therefore said: Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial. For the poor you have always with you; but me you have not always. A great multitude therefore of the Jews knew that he was there; and they came, not for Jesus's sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.

Homily Of St. Augustine, Bishop
Treatise 50 on John
Lest men should think that he had risen from the dead, Lazarus was one of them who reclined at table. He lived, he spoke, he feasted; the truth was made manifest, and the disbelief of the Jews brought to confusion. Jesus, then, sat down to table with Lazarus and the rest; Martha, one of the sisters of Lazarus, served. But Mary, the other sister of Lazarus, took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. We have heard what was done: let us seek out the mystery.
R. The ungodly said: Let us oppress the just man without cause, and swallow him up alive as the grave: let us make his memory to perish from the earth: and let us cast lots for his spoils: and these murderers laid up stores for themselves of evil. Fools and evil men hate wisdom: and are guilty in their thoughts.
V. Such things they imagined, and were deceived: and their wickedness blinded them.

Lesson ii
Whosoever thou art , if a faithful soul, thou wouldst anoint with Mary the feet of the Lord with precious ointment. That ointment signified justice, and therefore it was of the weight of a libra [pound; balance]. It was moreover ointment of right spikenard, of a great price. That it is called pisticium, we might understand as referring to some place from which this costly ointment came. But this does not exhaust its possible meanings, and it harmonizes well with a sacramental symbol. The Greek pistis is called in Latin fides (faith). Thou wast seeking to work justice. The just man liveth by faith. Anoint the feet of Jesus; by a good life, follow the footsteps of the Lord. Wipe them with thy hair: what thou hast in superfluity, give to the poor, and thou hast wiped the feet of the Lord: for the hair of the body seems to be a superfluity. Here is something for thee to do with thy superfluous goods: they are superfluous to thee, but necessary to the feet of the Lord, upon earth suffer want.
R.I am become a reproach unto mine enemies; they saw me, and shook their heads: Help me, O Lord my God.
V. They have spoken against me with deceitful tongues, and have compassed me about with words of hatred.

Lesson iii
For of whom, if not of his members, will it be said at the last: As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it unto me? You spent your superfluous riches: but you rendered a service to my feet. And the house was filled with the odour signifies good fame. Those who live evil lives, and are called Christians, do not injury to Christ: of such it is said, that through them the name of the Lord is blasphemed. If through such as these the name of God is blasphemed, through good man the name of the Lord is praised. Listen to the Apostle: We are the good odour of Christ, he says, in every place.
R. Unjust and merciless men have risen up against me, and have sought to kill me: neither spared they to spit in my face, their spears have wounded me: and all my bones are out of joint: But as for me, I counted myself as one that was dead upon the earth.
V. They poured forth their fury upon me, and they gnashed their teeth at me. Read whole post......

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Palm Sunday
The Roman Breviary
MATINS
Nocturn iii
The reading of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
Lesson vii: c.21, 1-9
At that time: When Jesus drew nigh to Jerusalem, and was come to Bethphage, unto Mount Olivet: then he sent two disciples, saying to them: Go ye into the village that is over against you, and immediately you shall find an ass tied, and bring them to me. And if any man shall say anything to you, say ye, that the Lord hath need of them: and forthwith he will let them go. Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: Tell ye the daughter of Sion: behold thy king cometh to thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of her that is used to the yoke (Isa.62.11; Zach.9.9;John12.15). And the disciples going, did as Jesus commanded them. And they brought the ass and the colt, and laid their garments upon them, and made him sit thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way: and others cut boughs from the trees, and strewed them in the way: And the multitudes that went before and that followed, cried, saying:Hossanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.

Homily of St. Ambrose, Bishop
Book 9 on Luke

It is beautifully shown that when the Lord had deserted the Jews, that he might take up his abode in the hearts of the Gentiles, he went up into the temple. For this is the true temple, wherein the Lord is adored, not according to the letter, but in spirit. This is the temple of God, whereof he has laid the courses, not in stones built one upon another, but in faith. Thus they who hated him are forsaken: they are chosen who will love him. And so he comes to Mount Olivet, to plant upon the heights of virtue his slips of olive, whose mother is the Jerusalem which is above. In this mountain dwells the heavenly husbandsman: and thus when all are planted in the house of God, each one of them can say: But I, as a fruitful olive-tree in the house of Lord.
R. The Lord is with me as a strong warrior: therefore have they persecuted, me and have not been able to understand: O Lord, thou triest the reins and the heart: Unto thee have I laid open my cause.
V. Thou hast seen, O Lord, their iniquity against me: judge thou my cause.

Lesson viii
And perhaps Christ himself is this mountain. For who other than he could ever bear such a wealth of olive-trees, not, that is, of trees weighed down with the abundance of their fruit, but of the Gentiles fruitful with the fullness of the spirit? He it is by whom we ascend, and he, again, to whom we ascend. He is the gate, he is the way, he it is that is opened and he, also, who opens: it is he that is opened and he, also, who opens: it is he that is knocked at by those who enter in, and he that is adored by these who have obtained their reward. To return to the narrative: the colt was in the village, tied with the ass: he could not be loosed but by the Lord's command. It was an apostolic hand that set him free. Such as the work is, such the life, such the grace. Be then thyself also such, that thou mayst loose them that are bound.
R. The wicked have said, reasoning with themselves, but not aright: Let us lie in wait for the just one, because he is contrary to our doings: he boasteth that he hath the knowledge of God, and calleth himself the Son of God, and boasteth that he hath God for his father: Let us see if his words be true: and, if he be indeed the Son of God, let him deliver him from our hand: let us condemn him to a shameful death.
V. We are esteemed by him as triflers, and he astaineth from our ways as from our ways as from filthiness: and he preferred the latter end of the just.

Lesson ix
Now let us consider who those were, that being detected in error, and cast out of paradise, were consigned to the village. And thou seest, how those who have been driven out by death, are called back again by life. Therefore, according to Matthew, we read of an ass and colt: this is because when man was banished, both sexes were represented, and now, as typified by these two animals, both sexes are recalled. There, then, in the mother-ass, is figured Eve as the mother of error: and here too in the colt is shown the multitude of the Gentile nations: hence he is seated upon the colt of an ass. And well is it said: On which no one hath sitten: for, before Christ, no one called the people of the nations to the Church. Finally, according to Mark, thou findest these words: Upon which no man yet hath sat.
R. Liars have surrounded me: they have fallen upon me with scourges without cause: But do thou, O Lord, my defender, avenge me.
V. For trouble is near, and there is none to help. Read whole post......

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Saturday - Day of Our Lady

Saturday in Passion Week
"The Seven Sorrows of Mary" from "Divine Intimacy" by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen OCD
PRESENCE OF GOD -Permit me, O Mary, to remain near the Cross, that I may share with you in the Passion of Jesus.

MEDITATION
1. We find in Simeon's prophecy the first explicit announcement of the part the Blessed Virgin was to have in the Passion of Jesus: "Thy own soul a sword shall pierce" (Lk 2,35). This prophecy was fulfilled on Calvary. "Yes, O Blessed Mother," says St. Bernard, "a sword has truly pierced your soul. It could penetrate Your Son's flesh only by passing through your soul. And after Jesus had died, the cruel lance which opened His side did not reach His soul, but it did pierced yours. His soul was no longer in His body, but yours could not be detached from it." This beautiful interpretation shows us how Mary, as a Mother, was intimately associated with her Son's Passion. The Gospel does not tell us that Mary was present during the glorious moments of the life of Jesus, but it does say that she was present on Calvary. "Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus, His Mother, and His Mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen" (Jn 19,25). No one had been able to keep her from hastening to the place where her Son was to be crucified, and her love gave her courage to stand there, erect, near the Cross, to be present at the sorrowful agony and death of the One whom she loved above all, because he was both her Son and her God. Just as she had once consented to become His Mother, so she would now agree to see Him tortured from head to foot, and to be torn away from her by a cruel death. She not only accepted, she offered. Jesus had willingly gone to His Passion, and Mary would willingly offer Her well-beloved Son for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity and the salvation of men. That is why the sacrifice of Jesus become Mary's sacrifice, not only because Mary offered it together with Jesus, and in Him, offered her own Son; but also because, by this offering, she completed the most profound holocaust of herself, since Jesus was the center of her affections and of her whole life. God, who had given her this divine Son, asked, on Calvary, for a return of His gift, and Mary offered Jesus to the Father with all the love of her heart, in complete adherence to the divine will.

2. The liturgy puts on the lips of Our Lady of Sorrows these touching words: "O you who pass by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow" (Roman Missal). Yes, her grief was immeasurable, and was surpassed only by her love, a love so great that it could encompass that vast sea of sorrow. It can be said of Mary, as of no any other creature, that her love was stronger than death; in fact it made her able to support the cruel death of Jesus. "Who could be unfeeling in contemplating the Mother of Christ suffering with her Son?" chants the Stabat Mater; and immediately it adds, "O Mother....make me feel the depth of your sorrow, so that I may weep with you. May I bear in my heart the wounds of Christ; make me share in His Passion and become inebriated by the Cross and Blood of your Son." In response to the Church's invitation, let us contemplate Mary's sorrow, sympathize with her, and ask her for the invaluable grace of sharing with her in the Passion of Jesus. Let us remember that this participation is not to be merely sentimental - even though this sentiment is good and holy - but it must lead us to real compassion, that is, to suffering with Jesus and Mary. The sufferings God sends us have no other purpose. The sight of Mary at the foot of the Cross makes the lesson of the Cross less hard and less bitter; her maternal example encourages us to suffer and makes the road to Calvary easier. Let us go, then, with Mary, to join Jesus on Golgotha; let us go with her to meet our cross; and sustained by her, let us embrace it willingly, uniting it with her Son's.

COLLOQUY
"O Mary, mother of Jesus Crucified, tell me something about His Passion, for you felt and saw it more than all the others who were present, having contemplated it with the eyes of your body and soul, and given it all the attention possible, O you who love him with such great love" (St. Angela of Foligno).
"O Mary, grant that I may stand with you near the Cross; permit me to contemplate with you the Passion of your Jesus, and to have a share in your sorrow and tears. O holy Mother, impress deeply in my heart the wounds of the Crucified; permit me to suffer with Him, and to unite myself to your sorrows and His" (cf Stabat Mater).
....That my desire for suffering may not be sterile, help me, O sweet mother, to recognize in each daily suffering the Cross of your Jesus and to embrace it with love. Read whole post......