Saturday, June 30, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
"These are the men who, living in the flesh, have planted the Church in their blood; They have drunk the Lord's Chalice and are become the friends of God. Their utterance fills every land. Their message reaches the ends of the earth." (Response.)
In the Gospel, Peter appears as the disciple; in the Acts, as the chief Shepherd, the unflinching leader of God's people. In the first, he is a child, very dear to Christ, to whose love he responded so naturally and so generously that we barely notice its growth. We can guess how rich in fruit these three years were, when we hear Christ ask him: "Simon, son of John, dost thou care for me more than these others?" Three times he puts the question, and after the third answer adds, "Feed my sheep," and, twice over, "Follow me."
John remains as he was. Whose love was greater? There is no absolute measure. We are inclined to put John first; Peter had perhaps something known to the Father who sees in secret. We can never judge each other; we do not know how the individual reacts to grace; God alone is the judge of what is hidden in the heart of man. in the Acts, we find beside Peter, already matured by God and full of the Holy Ghost, Paul. The grace of God had struck him down and Ananias had been sent to him that he too might be filled with the Holy Ghost. From now on, each in the sphere allotted to him by God, Peter and Paul will work together. God's Providence will bring them to Rome at the same hour, that they may also die together. We may truly say that the fruit borne by the Apostles is universal, as is that of the Church founded by Christ, his divine Bride, animated by his Spirit, one with her Head, the Bridegroom. She is the Virgin Mother, who in time prepares herself by a purity which ever increases, and who in the timelessness in which she celebrates her espousal with the Lamb is become immaculate. None is so much a mother as she. Her motherhood passes all description. Her love, her greatness of heart, her prudence and wisdom, her confidence and her courage, the force by which she protects whatever has been confided to her, are the astonishment of all those who reflect seriously. She is infinitely dear to us by his lovableness, Paul by his greatness. Were they, psychologically speaking, opposite poles? From the beginning, the Church gave proof of a broadmindedness which some onlookers take for difference of opinion. Peter was the head of the organization, Paul the animator present everywhere, the thirteenth and yet the first of the Apostles . O Felix Roma! O happy Rome! When she was at the height of her power and wore the crown of empire, she sowed the good seed in one distant province after another. When, under Tiberius, the ripened seed died, her invincible divine life manifested itself, informing the fruits of her death with the power of the resurrection. In the meantime, under Nero the first signs of the decadence of the Empire had appeared. The seed, bearing the germ of a new civilization, was scattered abroad; even decadence becomes important, thanks to the life-giving power of the germ. "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."
Rome has the good fortune to receive into her sanctified soil the bodies of the two great pillars of the Church. Peter and Paul, by their martyrdom, planted the germ of that unbelievable harvest which, by the blessing of God, in two hundred and fifty years was to spring up all over the empire and produce an incomparable culture. O Felix Roma! Your grandeur was the fertile soil on which grew and flourished the Christian race. Your sense of order and organization gave the young Church a firm foundation. O Felix Roma! - who knew the time of your salvation! You are still the new Jerusalem! The heart of the Church beats within your walls, and in your bosom rest the bodies of God's best-beloved sons. "The capital of the world rests on the two pillars of the Church; all those who envy her crown gnaw at her heart, to find that they are biting upon a diamond." (Vondel.).
Today's picture is by Albrecht Durer "Four holy men". St Peter of course holds keys, St Paul is depicted as a bolding and bearded man holding an open book. The image is from www.galeries.fototagger.com
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
When Alfred Bessette came to the Holy Cross Brothers in 1870, he carried with him a note from his pastor saying, "I am sending you a saint." The Brothers found that difficult to believe. Chronic stomach pains had made it impossible for Alfred to hold a job very long and since he was a boy he had wandered from shop to shop, farm to farm, in his native Canada and in the United States, staying only until his employers found out how little work he could do. The Holy Cross Brothers were teachers and, at 25, Alfred still did not know how to read and write. It seemed as if Alfred approached the religious order out of desperation, not vocation. Alfred was desperate, but he was also prayerful and deeply devoted to God and Saint Joseph. He may have had no place left to go, but he believed that was because this was the place he felt he should have been all along. The Holy Cross Brothers took him into the novitiate but soon found out what others had learned -- as hard as Alfred, now Brother Andre, wanted to work, he simply wasn't strong enough. They asked him to leave the order, but Andre, out of desperation again, appealed to a visiting bishop who promised him that Andre would stay and take his vows. After his vows, Brother Andre was sent to Notre Dame College in Montreal (a school for boys age seven to twelve) as a porter. There his responsibilities were to answer the door, to welcome guests, find the people they were visiting, wake up those in the school, and deliver mail. Brother Andre joked later, "At the end of my novitiate, my superiors showed me the door, and I stayed there for forty years."
In 1904, he surprised the Archbishop of Montreal if he could, by requesting permission to, build a chapel to Saint Joseph on the mountain near the college. The Archbishop refused to go into debt and would only give permission for Brother Andre to build what he had money for. What money did Brother Andre have? Nickels he had collected as donations for Saint Joseph from haircuts he gave the boys. Nickels and dimes from a small dish he had kept in a picnic shelter on top of the mountain near a statue of St. Joseph with a sign "Donations for St. Joseph." He had collected this change for years but he still had only a few hundred dollars. Who would start a chapel now with so little funding? Andre took his few hundred dollars and built what he could ... a small wood shelter only fifteen feet by eighteen feet. He kept collecting money and went back three years later to request more building. The wary Archbishop asked him, "Are you having visions of Saint Joseph telling you to build a church for him?" Brother Andre reassured him. "I have only my great devotion to St. Joseph to guide me." The Archbishop granted him permission to keep building as long as he didn't go into debt. He started by adding a roof so that all the people who were coming to hear Mass at the shrine wouldn't have to stand out in the rain and the wind. Then came walls, heating, a paved road up the mountain, a shelter for pilgrims, and finally a place where Brother Andre and others could live and take care of the shrine -- and the pilgrims who came - full-time. Through kindness, caring, and devotion, Brother Andre helped many souls experience healing and renewal on the mountaintop. There were even cases of physical healing. But for everything, Brother Andre thanked St. Joseph. Despite financial troubles, Brother Andre never lost faith or devotion. He had started to build a basilica on the mountain but the Depression had interfered. At ninety-years old he told his co-workers to place a statue of St. Joseph in the unfinished, unroofed basilica. He was so ill he had to be carried up the mountain to see the statue in its new home. Brother Andre died soon after on January 6, and didn't live to see the work on the basilica completed. But in Brother Andre's mind it never would be completed because he always saw more ways to express his devotion and to heal others. As long as he lived, the man who had trouble keeping work for himself, would never have stopped working for God. In His Footsteps: Brother Andre didn't mind starting small. Think of some service you have longed to perform for God and God's people, but that you thought was too overwhelming for you. What small bit can you do in this service? If you can't afford to give a lot of money to a cause, just give a little. If you can't afford hours a week in volunteering, try an hour a month on a small task. It is amazing how those small steps can lead you up the mountain as they did for Brother Andre.
Blessed Brother Andre, your devotion to Saint Joseph is an inspiration to us. You gave your life selflessly to bring the message of his life to others. Pray that we may learn from Saint Joseph, and from you, what it is like to care for Jesus and do his work in the world. Amen
Copyright 1996-2000 by Terry Matz. All Rights Reserved.
Text after Catholic online
Monday, June 25, 2007
Esther Blondin, in religion "Sister Marie Anne", was born in Terrebonne (Quebec, Canada) on April 18, 1809, in a family of deeply Christian farmers. From her mother she inherited a piety centered on Divine Providence and the Eucharist and, from her father, a deep faith and a strong patience in suffering. Esther and her family were victims of illiteracy so common in French Canadian milieux of the nineteenth century. Still an illiterate at the age of 22, Esther worked as a domestic in the Convent of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, that had been recently opened in her own village. A year later, she registered as a boarder in order to learn to read and write. She then became a novice in the Congregation but had to leave, due to ill health.
In 1833, Esther became a teacher in the parochial school of Vaudreuil. Little by little, she found out that one of the causes of this illiteracy was due to a certain Church ruling that forbade that girls be taught by men and that boys be taught by women. Unable to finance two schools, many parish priests chose to have none. In 1848, under an irresistible call of the Spirit, Esther presented to her Bishop, Ignace Bourget, a plan she long cherished: that of founding a religious congregation "for the education of poor country children, both girls and boys in the same schools". A rather new project for the time! It even seemed quite rash and contrary to the established order. Since the State was in favor of such schools, Bishop Bourget authorized a modest attempt so as to avoid a greater evil.
The Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Anne was founded in Vaudreuil on September 8, 1850. Esther, now named "Mother Marie Anne", became its first superior. The rapid growth of this young Community soon required larger quarters. During the Summer of 1853, Bishop Ignace Bourget transferred the Motherhouse to Saint Jacques de l'Achigan. The new chaplain, Father Louis Adolphe Marechal, interfered in an abusive way in the private life of the Community. During the Foundress' absence, Father changed the pupils' boarding fees. Should he be away for a while, he asked that the Sisters await his return to go to confession. After a year of this existing conflict between the chaplain and the Foundress, the latter being anxious to protect the rights of her Community, Bishop Bourget asked Mother Marie Anne, on August 18, 1854, "to resign". He called for elections and warned Mother Marie Anne "not to accept the superiorship, even if her sisters wanted to reelect her". Even though she could be reelected, according to the Rule of the Community, Mother Marie Anne obeyed her Bishop whom she considered God's instrument. And she wrote: "As for me, my Lord, I bless Divine Providence a thousand times for the maternal care she shows me in making me walk the way of tribulations and crosses".
Mother Marie Anne, having been named Directress at Saint Genevieve Convent, became the target of attacks from the Motherhouse authorities, influenced by the dictatorship of Father Marechal. Under the pretext of poor administration, Mother Marie Anne was recalled to the Motherhouse in 1858, with the Bishop's warning: "take means so that she will not be a nuisance to anyone." From this new destitution and until her death on January 2, 1890, Mother Marie Anne was kept away from administrative responsibilities. She was even kept away from the General Council deliberations when the 1872 and 1878 elections reelected her. Assigned to mostly hidden work in the laundry and ironing room, she led a life of total self-denial and thus ensured the growth of the Congregation. Behold the paradox of an influence which some wanted to nullify! In the Motherhouse basement laundry room in Lachine, where she spent her days, many generations of novices received from the Foundress a true example of obedience and humility, imbued with authentic relationships which ensure true fraternal charity. To a novice who asked her one day why she, the Foundress, was kept aside in such lowly work, she simply replied with kindness : "The deeper a tree sinks its roots into the soil, the greater are its chances of growing and producing fruit".
The attitude of Mother Marie Anne, who was a victim of so many injustices, allows us to bring out the evangelical sense she gave to events in her life. Just as Jesus Christ, who passionately worked for the Glory of His Father, so too Mother Marie Anne sought only God's Glory in all she did. "The greater Glory of God" was the aim she herself gave her Community. "To make God known to the young who have not the happiness of knowing Him" was for her a privileged way of working for the Glory of God. Deprived of her most legitimate rights, and robbed of all her personal letters with her bishop, she offered no resistance and she expected, from the infinite goodness of God, the solution to the matter. She was convinced that "He will know well, in his Wisdom, how to discern the false from the true and to reward each one according to his deeds".
Prevented from being called "Mother" by those in authority, Mother Marie Anne did not jealously hold on to her title of Foundress; rather she chose annihilation, just like Jesus, "her crucified Love", so that her Community might live. However, she did not renounce her mission of spiritual mother of her Community. She offered herself to God in order "to expiate all the sins which were committed in the Community"; and she daily prayed Saint Anne "to bestow on her spiritual daughters the virtues so necessary for Christian educators".
Like any prophet invested with a mission of salvation, Mother Marie Anne lived persecution by forgiving without restriction, convinced that "there is more happiness in forgiving than in revenge". This evangelical forgiveness, guarantee of "the peace of soul which she held most precious", was ultimately proven on her death bed when she asked her superior to call for Father Marechal "for the edification of the Sisters".
As she felt the end approaching, Mother Marie Anne left to her daughters her spiritual testament in these words which are a resume of her whole life : "May Holy Eucharist and perfect abandonment to God's Will be your heaven on earth". She then peacefully passed away at the Motherhouse of Lachine, on January 2, 1890, "happy to go to the Good God" she had served all her life.
Text after The life of St Mary Anne Blondin - Vatican, Saints
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Today's picture is by Diego Velazquez and depicts "John the Baptist"
Text after Catholic Online
We proceeded towards Soho Square and our first stop was at the St Olave's Church:
We reached Tyburn Convent in the late afternoon and participated in Nuns Verspers and Mass.
Friday, June 22, 2007
From what has been said, it is certain that St. Alban has been continuously venerated in England since the fifth century. Moreover, his name was known about the year 580 to Venantius Fortunatus, in Southern Gaul, who commemorates him in the line: Albanum egregium fecunda Britannia profert. ("Lo! fruitful Britain vaunts great Alban's name.") ("Carmina", VII, iii, 155). His feast is still kept as of old, on 22 June, and it is celebrated throughout England as a greater double.
Text excerpts after Catholic Encyclopedia www.newadvent.org
Picture is the copy of Folio 358r showing St Alban from The Golden Legend Flanders: c.1400-1410 MS Gen 1111. After University of Glasgow special collections
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a remedy for common want of modern times - lack of charity. "It is getting cold in Europe nowadays" - are the words of some political celebrity of our times. Nations grow in wealth, the welfare and humanitarian aid systems develop, we should expect proportional progress in mutual help and loving relationship among humankind. However, it seems that it is far from ideal, exactly as St Paul once summed up the evils of spreading paganism: "Know also this, that, in the last days, shall come dangerous times. Men shall be lovers of themselves, covetous, haughty, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, wicked, without affection, without peace, slanderers, incontinent, unmerciful, without kindness, traitors, stubborn, puffed up, and lovers of pleasures more than of God: Having an appearance indeed of godliness, but denying the power thereof." (2 Timothy 3:2-5). How often those who think themselves heralds of modern humanitarianism do this out of selfish motives, to promote their political careers etc. In reality the main agenda today is war; war between social classes, at work, in families, between nations. Even the best pacifist movement is helpless with this sad tendency. In the middle of these, the Sacred Heart of Our Lord calls to the whole world: "Learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls" (Matt 11:29). The example of His life can be even more appealing: "who went about doing good" (Acts 10:38). His charity was in reality for all, for healthy and sick, living and dead, rich and poor. His message was clear: " For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have?" (Matt 5:46). It was what He was doing Himself, during His Passion He prayed for His oppressors: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). How different it is from what we see around us. Can we imagine the Kingship of meak and humble Heart of Our Lord in the modern world? It would be enough to make this very hostile and troubled world the oasis of peace in the spirit of genuine Christian brotherhood. How remarkable therefore, are the words of Our Lord: "A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another." (John 13:34)
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Text excerpts after Catholic Online website
The picture depicts "St Aloysius Gonzaga in Glory" by Giovanni Battiste Tiepolo
The Holy Catholic Church propagates devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus as the simplest and easiest way to attain holiness of life. The devotion present to us Heart of Jesus saddened for our iniquities, the main obstacle to sanctity. To repay for those sins, out of charity, the Heart offered itself up for us, giving us example for sacrifices necessary to achieve sanctification. The Heart beats for each one of us and asks in return for similar commitment through sanctity of life. How real therefore is the invocation: "Heart of Jesus, fountain of life and holiness". Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the beacon of Christian sanctity, for the Heart lived in hypostatic union with God, and for God's Glory, in love for us, deep in humility and meakness. St Mary Margaret Alacoque usually said that nothing could be more sanctifying than Sacred Heart devotion. And indeed, in the last several hundred years, all Saints venerated in the Catholic Church without exception were Sacred Heart devotees. Therefore, if we think seriously about attaining any level of personal holiness we should have or be ready to develop this devotion. We should recommend ourselves to the Mother of God and Mother of the Heart of Jesus that was formed from her very blood. She was first to love It the most and she was the first and perfect follower of Sacred Heart. We need to ask her for devotion most genuine and practical to our state of life: "You shall draw waters with joy out of the saviour's fountains" (Isaias 12:3)
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
As we are still in the octave of the Most Sacred Heart Feast then it is edifying to meditate on the origin of this devotion. It could be found in the Scriptures, when Our Lord says: "Learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart" (Matt 11:29), and warns us in the same Gospel: "from the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies." (Matt 15:19). He teaches us that all good things, all His great acts of charity and mercy have their source in His Heart.When His side was opened on the Cross, the Divine Providence has shown us this way His Heart burned out of love. Devotion to the Sacred Heart began well before 16th century, however, Lutheran Reformation suppressed it for a while. Afterwards, the Lord choose St Mary Margaret Alacoque as the instrument in His plan to make this devotion known and loved. However, great obstacles appeared on the way and devotion together with the Mass in honout of the Most Sacred Heart have been approved by the Church not earlier than one hundred years later. But in the end it was to be fulfilled what Our Lord said to St Mary Margaret, that His Heart will conquer the world. All that is great in the Kingdom of Mercy is marked with the Cross and must be fought for. Therefore, we can remain in peace in every persecution and trouble. In devotion to the Sacred Heart we need to follow Our Lord example and become meek through patience and love in our own families, and humble through conquering pride and delusions in matters of religion and faith in particular. Let us pray with love and understanding the arrow prayer: "Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto yours!"
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
widely recognized as a respected associate of the Hungarian, Franz Liszt (1811-86), one of the greatest pianists of all time. Then suddenly, in the midst of his growing fame, Hermann Cohen, unaccountably and quietly, slipped away from the concert circuit into virtual oblivion. Several years later, he caused one of the greatest sensations of the hour when he reappeared in the streets of Paris dressed in the garb of a Carmelite monk. He had undergone a wondrous spiritual conversion to the Catholic Faith. On fire with his new found Faith, he quickly applied for admission to the Order of Mount Carmel and was warmly accepted. He was vested in the Religious habit and given the name in Religion of Augustine. In due course he pronounced the solemn vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, completed his theological studies and was ordained to the priesthood. Father Augustine's inspired zeal and tireless missionary labors soon became even more celebrated among the Parisians than his masterful keyboard performances of old. As once with unparalleled passion he strove to fill the ears of his audience with the beauty of sound, now with even greater passion, he strove to fill them with the beauty of eternal Truth. Although the holy Carmelite was unceasing in prayer for the conversion of his beloved mother, she died without being received into the Church. Father Augustine was deeply grieved that his mother should die an unconverted Jewess, but let us see how our merciful Lord, whom he loved so tenderly, consoled him. The death of Madame Cohen took place on December 13, 1855. Father Augustine was at the time preaching the Advent sermons in Lyons. He announced the sad news to a friend in Cuers in the following touching words: --"God had just inflicted a terrible blow on my heart. My poor mother is dead,... and I am in uncertainty. Nevertheless, so many prayers have been offered up for her, that we must hope that something special occurred between her soul and God, of which we know nothing. I have been ordered to Paris to console my family." The sorrow of the son was great; but his hope in the infinite goodness of God supported him. He was to preach on the evening when this crushing news reached him. Many in his place would have been totally unfit for the duty; but he, after weeping and praying much, ascended the pulpit as usual. He preached on death; and, according to the testimony of all that heard him, it was in words that sank into the lowest depths of the hearts of his audience, exciting salutary and durable emotions. And when, toward the end of his discourse, he breathed his own sorrow into the souls of his audience, his words found in every heart a sympathetic echo. Not long afterward he confided to the holy Cure of Ars his anxiety about his mother's death -- departing this life without the grace of Baptism. "Hope," said the man of God to him, "hope! You will one day, on the Festival of the Immaculate Conception, receive a letter which will be very consoling to you."
These words were nearly forgotten, when on December 8, 1861, six years after his mother's death, a letter was handed to Father Augustine by a priest of the Society of Jesus. The writer of the letter had died in the odor of sanctity. Her letter was as follows: - "On the 18th of October, after Holy Communion, I found myself in one of those moments of intimate union with our Lord wherein he so sweetly makes me feel His presence in the Sacrament of His Love, that it seems to me as if faith were no longer necessary in order to believe in it. After some moments He made His voice audible to me, and was pleased to give me some explanations relative to a conversation that I had had the previous evening. I remembered then that, in this conversation, one of my friends had expressed to me her astonishment that our Lord, who promised everything to prayer, had nevertheless remained deaf to those of Father Hermann, so often offered up for the conversion of his mother; her surprise amounted almost to discontent, and I had found some difficulty in making her understand that we must adore the justice of God, and not seek to penetrate His secrets. I have the boldness to ask our Lord how it was that He, who is Goodness itself, could have resisted the prayers of Father Hermann, and not grant the conversion of his mother. This was His answer: " 'Why will she always seek to sound the secrets of My justice, and try to penetrate into mysteries that she cannot understand? Tell her that I owe my grace to no one, that I give to whomsoever I please, and that in acting thus I do not cease to be just, and Justice itself. But let her know also that, sooner than fail in the promises that I have made to prayer, I would overthrow the heavens and the earth and that every prayer that has My glory and the salvation of souls for its object is always heard, when it has the necessary qualities. "He also said: 'And to prove this truth to you, I will let you know what took place at the moment of the death of Father Augustine's mother.' . . .I was made to understand, the moment that the mother of Father Hermann was on the point of breathing her last, when she seemed deprived of consciousness, and life was almost gone, Mary, our good Mother, presented herself before her Divine Son, and prostrating herself at His feet, said to Him: 'Grace, mercy, O my Son! For this soul that is about to perish. Another moment and it will be lost, lost for all eternity! . . . The soul of his mother is what is dearest to him; a thousand times he has consecrated it to me; he has confided it to the tenderness, to the solicitude of my heart. Can I allow it to perish? This soul is mine; I want it, I claim it as a heritage, as the price of Thy Blood, and of my sorrows at the foot of Thy Cross.' "Hardly had the most holy suppliant ceased to speak, when a grace, strong, mighty, escaped from the source of all graces, the adorable Heart of Jesus, and fell upon the soul of that poor dying Jewess, and triumphed instantly over its obstinacy. The soul immediately turned with loving confidence toward Him whose mercy pursued her even in the arms of death, and she said: 'O Jesus, God of the Christians, God whom my son adores, I believe, I hope in Thee, have mercy on me!' "In this cry which was heard by God alone, and which came from the lowest depths of the heart of the dying woman, there were included sincere regrets for her obstinacy and her sins, the desire of Baptism, the explicit wish to receive it, and to live according to the rules and precepts of our holy religion if she could return to life. This outburst of faith and hope in Jesus was the last sentiment of this soul; as she was uttering it before the throne of Divine Mercy, the feeble threads that still held her in her earthly tenement were broken, and she threw herself at the feet of Him who had been her Saviour before being her Judge. "After having shown me all these things, our Lord added: 'Make this known to Father Augustine; it is a consolation that I wish to grant to his long sufferings, in order that he may everywhere bless and cause to be blessed the goodness of My Mother's heart and her power over Mine.' "An entire stranger to the Rev. Father Hermann, the poor sick woman that has just penned these lines is happy to think that they will bring consolation and balm to the ever-bleeding wound of his heart - the heart of a son and a priest. She presumes to ask of him the alms of his fervent prayers, and she hopes that he will not refuse them to one who, although unknown to him is united to him by the sacred bonds of the same faith and the same hopes . . ." What seems to add greater authority to this letter is the fact that it had been announced to Father Hermann six years before hand by the saintly Cure of Ars, as above mentioned. (From "Glimpses of the Supernatural," Thomas B. Noonan & Co., Boston, 1884.)
Taken from the May 2005 edition of "Fatima Findings" - Reparation Society, I.H.M., 7920 Beverly Ave., Baltimore, Maryland 21234-5308 after Our Lady of the Rosary Library
The picture shows Fr Hermann Cohen as a Carmelite saying his Rosary
Monday, June 18, 2007
This is exactly what Our Lord does until now, when we receive Him in the Blessed Sacrament. What a fountain of goodness and charity! Once, God used to share Paradise with man, led him through the desert and even lived in the midst of His chosen people. To think how delicious must have been the fruit from the tree in Paradise, the manna, the mysterious bread of prophet Elias and bread miraculously multiplied for the multitude following Jesus, the teacher. But now He has simply giving Himself to us in the form of bread every time we communicate. And how humble is He in the Blessed Sacrament. Once upon the Mount of Sinai His appearances were announced by thunders and lightnings; in the Temple no one could approach the Holy of Holies, and He will certainly come at the Last Judgment Day to judge all of us, the living and the dead - The Lord of all. But now He simply lives with us hidden in the Most Holy Eucharist. In times of Old Covenant He lived only in one Temple, now He lives in thousands of Churches around the world. It does not matter to Him who the faithful are, what is our state of life, how expensive clothes we wear, how spiritually imperfect we are - as long as our hearts are free from mortal sin and in the state of grace - we are welcome. Let us think for a moment about dramatic moments of establishing the Sacrament of the Altar. Our Lord already experienced ingratitude of the chosen people. He could see faint-hearted actions of His disciples. He was aware of the future meanness and indifference that He will be given for the greatest miracle of charity. But He proceeded, He did not hesitate. When we look at the light of Perpetual Lamp glowing before Tabernaculum in the Church, let us keep in mind the living proof of greatest charity, the Holy Eucharist and let us comfort Jesus by participating often in the Holy Benediction and receiving Him in the Communion repeating in our hearts beautiful arrow prayer: " Most Sacred Heart of Jesus I implore, that I may love daily more and more"
Friday, June 15, 2007
On the feast of the Sacred Heart celebrated on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi an act of reparation is prescribed for recitation in every church in the world. On the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King, the last Sunday of October, an act of consecration of the human race is prescribed. Though this devotion was practiced by saintly souls before 1675, it is due to the apparitions of our Lord to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in the Visitation Monastery at Paray-le-Monial that the feast of the Sacred Heart is now kept on the day assigned by Our Lord. In spite of much opposition the feast was allowed in 1765, and extended to the world in 1856; in 1929 it was raised to the highest rank. Special manifestations of the devotion are the Communion of Reparation on the first Friday of the month, and the Holy Hour in union with Our Lord in His Agony.
Link to: Fish Eaters
Link to: Catholic Tradition
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Pope Leo XIII once rebuked the propagators of restricted reception of the Holy Communion. Those people would say: "Holiness is for saints only" - typical logic of jansenism, the heresy which once emptied Catholic Churches in France and made many a faithful almost psychologically blocked from approaching Lord's table. It is true the Council of Trent declared the Lord's table can be approached only with utmost reverence and in state of personal holiness. This is christian holiness meaning the communicant should be in the state of grace and free from mortal sin. Exactly the same rule is prescribed by ecclesiastical law concerning receiving of the Blessed Sacraments. It is the state of mortal sin that excludes someone from approaching communion rails and in equal measure to any form of non-Christian, uncharitable behaviour. Nothing more than that. Another group of people would say that everyday routine makes something less attractive and desirable. Wrong again, for the Most Holy Communion is always equally effective and powerful in increasing sanctifying grace and heavenly glory. It should be always gratefully and eagerly received and the custom of daily Holy Communion zealously propagated among the faithful. Our Lord does not desire us to become 'super-humans' to receive him in Holy Communion. He gives himself up to us because of our nothingness and weaknesses. For this reason theology says, the Sacraments are for ordinary people like us. Not the other way around. Otherwise, heretics would be right declaring the more restricted receiving of the Holy Communion produces more desirable fruits. In other words, the more the soul is hungry the more eagerly it will approach Lord's table and with greater spiritual appetite. So this logic imply the most important would be for souls to become weak and deprived. What a nonsense! The Most Holy Communion should be for us the same as for the first Christians, the first beginning of the day. All fears and doubts should be gone for Our Lord says majestically: "Be of good heart: it is I, fear ye not." (Matt 14:27)
Today's image is Brussel's tapestry of Eucharist theme by Rubens:"Triumph of the Holy Eucharist over Idolatry"
Monday, June 11, 2007
"Quick, go out into the streets and lanes of the city; bring in the poor, the cripples, the blind and the lame....give them no choice but to come in, that so my house may be filled." (Antiphon of the Magnificat, on Sunday).
This antiphon forms part of yesterday's Gospel - the parable of the man that gave a great supper (Luke 14:16-24). Although the parable is usually applied to the Blessed Eucharist, it is easy to find in it an allusion to our calling as members of the Church Christ came to found; a calling for which we can never be sufficiently thankful, and with which we must co-operate. We thank you, O Jesus, both for your Sacrament of the Altar and for our vocation to the true Church. Jesus tells the Pharisee the parable of the banquet. The table is sumptuously spread; the baked meats are prepared, all is in order, but no guests appear. The great man sends his servant to tell them that all is now ready, and they begin, with one accord to make excuses. Thereupon the host declares that none of those who were first invited shall taste of his supper. He says to his servant, "Quick, go out into the streets and lanes of the city; bring in the poor, the cripples, the blind and the lame" They do so, but still there is room. Then he bids his servant "Go out into the highways and the hedge-rows, and give them no choice but to come in, that so my house may be filled". The banquet signifies the means of grace that the Church offers. Did mankind ever receive a greater gift, a more pressing invitation? And yet, how many refuse it? We remember, with profound gratitude, that God has called us from the highways and hedge-rows of heathendom to the shelter of his Church. Why were we not born, like so many others, in a pagan land, where the light of the Gospel had not yet shone? Do we thank God daily for our election and the grace of our baptism? It is not so natural as it may seem to us, that we should be Christians, members of the one true Church, rather than heathen, like millions of others, who would perhaps have responded better to God's call. There is but one reason - the loving-kindness of our heavenly Father, the grace he has granted us (Phil. 1:29). May we be ever thankful, fulfilling faithfully and in a spirit of love the duties it imposes! Thankful also because we are God's guests who sit daily at his table, where Christ, our Host, is also our meat; a Host whose desire is that his house may be filled! He tells us today, and bids us, his elect, help to fill his Church, his House on earth. Our life is full of petty sacrifices which we can offer in union with that which our Head offers thousands of times in one day. Jesus demands the co-operation of his servants, his privileged souls. He complains: "If I lack apostle to carry on my work of redemption, it is because many of them do not live as my consecrated helpers should" . Let our resolution today be to lead in future a holier, a more truly religious life.
The meanest task, offered for the salvation of souls, can help priests and missionaries in their labour and obtain the grace of a true conversion for those entrusted to them. Our aim must be to bring all Christ's children to his banquet. Our special vocation gives us many occasions of doing so; there are the children we teach, the sick we nurse, all those who come our way and who are seeking truth and the peace it brings. We shall succeed, not so much by insistence as by prayer and example. If we ourselves receive Holy Communion with true piety, living from day to day on the strength it brings us, it will not escape the notice of those with whom and for whom we work.
Lord, we thank you for your infinite love and goodness, which have called us to your Church. May we say with the great Apostle, "By God's grace, I am what I am, and the grace he has shown me has not been without fruit" (1 Cor. 15:10).
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Mary's justice was based on her total trust and hope in God. Can we imagine someone who relies only on his/her own nothingness and by contrast how different, in God's eyes, is the attitude of total abandonment and trust in His mercy and omnipotence. This was the way of Our Lady, and for this reason we invoke her in the Litany under the title "Mirror of justice". Her hope and trust in God was particularly strong, she was following David's words: "in God I have put my trust, I will not fear what flesh can do against me" (Psalm 55:5). Can we imagine what she had to endure from others; Emperor August edict, rejection in Betlehem, wickedness of Herod. But Our Lady knew: "that to them that love God, all things work together unto good" (Rom 8:28). Her strength was based on her exemplary faith. Let us think about Cana wedding, when she says: "They have no wine", her Son gives the answer that sounds negative. But she is not discouraged, with her usual trust and calm, she gives order: "Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye". (John 2;5). Let us imagine Our Lady standing under the Cross on Calvary, all her hopes and expectations seemed to be lost and her heart was pierced by sword of sorrow for her Son was dying shameful death of crucifixion amidst unconceivable physical and spiritual sufferings. But she was standing there like a rock: "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother" (John 19:25). The verse says it all. Let us remember well to look always at Our Lady and learn from her. Let us not be afraid, in every difficulty let us keep in heart the examples of her trust in God. Even if all seem lost, she is our helper. Let us not give in to discouragement, distrust. In the spirit of Immaculata let us keep in mind St. Paul's words: "Let no temptation take hold on you, but such as is human. And God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able: but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it" (1Cor 10:13)
"Stephen Lochner (b. ca. 1400, Meersburg am Bodensee, d. 1451, Köln)
This small panel which employs several iconographic models is an especially charming remnant of Cologne Gothic. It depicts the "humble Madonna" (Madonna dell' Umilta) as Mary is sitting on the ground or on a pillow placed on the ground, gently holding an infant in her lap. Their figures are surrounded by adoring angels who offer flowers and fruits to the baby Jesus. To create a backdrop for the scene, two diligent angels stretch out a golden brocade curtain which reminds the viewer of the reigning, victorious Madonna. At the same time, this curtain insures separation from the rest of the world and the intimacy of the holy family. Above, surrounded by light-rays, we can see God the Father and the dove of the Holy Spirit. This intimates the Immaculate Conception; thus the painting includes the depiction of the Holy Trinity. This is the picture of completeness with the Divine Mother as its centre. The image of being enclosed is reinforced by another motif: the low stone wall around Mary, which recalls the "hortus conclusus" (enclosed garden), the symbol of Mary's purity and innocence. The spectacular carpet of flowers covering the ground intimates the earthly Garden of Eden, as does the bower of roses. Roses were often connected with the Madonna; such a simile appears in several medieval Latin hymns to the Virgin. The musical child angels in the foreground play an important part in the creation of an idyllic atmosphere. Their instruments - two different sized lutes, a harp and a portative organ - are realistically rendered, and their small hands reveal their musical expertise."
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Daily food of the soul.
Thus, in Communion heavenly joys and blessings are poured into our hearts without stint or measure. "God, who in this wonderful sacrament hast left us a memorial of thy passion, enable us, we pray thee, so to venerate the mysteries of thy Body and Blood that we may constantly feel in our lives the effects of thy redemption!"(Collect for Corpus Christi.)
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
King David, the man after God's heart, is nevertheless forced to admit: "Thou was the witness of my wrongdoing." (First response in today's Matins). God had overwhelmed his servant with benefits and graces, had even spoken to him and allowed him to see His face. One imprudent glance made of the friend of God a sinner, and even a murderer. To rid himself of Uriah, he sent him to the forefront
battle, where death was a certainty. We must all admit, to our shame, that we are sinners, and that God is the witness of our wrong-doing. "Sin is with us; if we deny that, we are cheating ourselves; it means that truth does not dwell in us." (1 John 1:8). Even St Paul, possessed as he was by the love of God, complains, "What I do is not what I wish to do, but something which I hate" (Rom. 7:15). "There is no place so holy that sin cannot enter there; we carry its germ in ourselves," says the author of the Imitation. It is by the grace of Christ only that man can overcome evil by good. Lord, grant us grace to walk with a pure heart in your presence! Mortal sin is a triple crime against the divine majesty. In the first place, it is disobedience, which neither respects his laws nor keeps his commandments. By deed, if not by word, the sinner says, "No serviam".
Secondly, it shows a contempt for God. Man puts his own satisfaction, often shameful, before God.
Thirdly, it is inconceivable ingratitide; the soul turns God's gifts against Him. Man can have no greater misfortune than that of commiting a mortal sin. He losses by it sanctifying grace, the life of the soul. He becomes z paralysed member of the mystical Body, a dead branch on the true Vine, fit only to be cut off and cast into the fire. He has no longer any communion with God; the Father in heaven leaves him to himself and his weakness. To use our human language, we might say: What a disappointment for Him who made that soul so noble, enriched it with such graces, to see it in an instant thus hideoulsy deformed! Lord, I tremble at the thought of my own weakness! save me, I beseech you, from mortal sin, the greater of all evils! When Nathan, sent by God, reproached David with his crime, the King made no attempt to excuse it. Weeping, imploring mercy, he confesses it: "Thou hast been the witness of my wrong-doing." He did not refuse the expiation imposed on him, and uttered the most sublime of all acts of contrition - the Miserere.
We too have dishonoured God, We have had the courage to brave Him and break His laws; we must also have the courage to expiate our sins, and to repeat with David, "Have mercy on me, O God, as thou art ever rich in mercy; in the misdeeds. Wash me clean, cleaner yet, from my guilt, purge me of my sin, the guilt of which I freely acknowledge, the sin which is never lost to my sight." (Ps. 50:3-5).
Lord, I will gratefully receive every trial it pleases you to send me. I have but one life in which to expiate my faults; let me not waste an hour of it! there have been saints who have asked you to give them many hearts with which to love you, in order to expiate by their acts of love, their own sins and those of others.
God punishes, and punishes justly. Adam's one sin lost sanctifying grace for his posterity; Moses, for one sin, was refused the entry to the promised Land. Yet such punishment are but a shadow of those which await the unrepentant sinner in eternity! Therefore we can and should offer in a spirit of penence whatever seems to us painful or merely disagreeable. Above all, we must never forget that we have at our disposition the Sacrifice of the Mass with which to make reparation for our own sins and those of others.
Lord, I humble myself to the ground before you, the most High, whom I have dared to resist, imploring you to grant me your grace, without which I cannot hope to conquer the smallest temptations. The most bitter of my gifts is to think that I have offended you. May I die rather than offer you again!
O God, be merciful to me, a sinner!
Refuge of sinners, pray for me!
After "With the Church" meditations on topics from Missal and Breviary - edited by Fr M. Goosens OFM
Today's image is "King David in prayer" by Pieter de Grebber
Saturday, June 02, 2007
This invocation is in the group of three: "Mirror of justice", "Seat of Wisdom" and "Cause of our joy" - they all refer beautifully to each other . We invoke Our Lady as "Mirror of justice" - for she is the spiritual vessel of justice based on faith. Faith makes us spiritual by elevating thoughts and actions into heavenly places, enabling to look at all and refer to all in spiritual manner. The life of Our Lady was most spiritual and filled with faith. Tertulian says Eve brought death on earth for she put her trust - breaking God's commandment - in deceitful words of perfidious serpent; but Mary, Our Queen brought salvation, for she put her trust in the words spoken by Angel". How faithful she was to Our Lord and His Divinity! He appeared to her as a little, helpless baby born in the most humble surroundings. She put all trust and faith in her newborn baby although she needed take care of and provide Him in all necessities. Keeping little Jesus in her arms, she had no doubts in His Almightiness, Wisdom and Holiness. For more than thirty years she did not need any miracle to believe in Him. How true are St Elisabeth's words: "Blessed art thou that hast believed because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord" (Luke 1:45). Our Lady was granted the most severe trial of faith during Jesus' Passion. Jerusalem rejected Him, people verbally and physically abused Him, Pharisees calumniated Him as deceiver and traitor. Even His disciples had second thoughts about their Master. Only His mother was the rock of unshaken faith. She is our example, and because of this we need to have recourse to her in all trials send by God. Let us stay strong in faith when we find some traces of human weakness in religion, errors in careless Christians and religious. See always remains magnificent even if we find quite repugnant things left on the shore after tide. Our Holy Church and Catholic religion is the most magnificent child of God, and some human weaknesses and misery cannot defile it. Let us be like Our Lady, spiritual vessels full of humble and unshaken faith: " Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, do manfully, and be strengthened". (1 Cor 16:13).
Picture today is "The Virgin and the Child" Cuzco School, 19th century
More details in link below:
Daily Telegraph - News
Cathedral in the 'Private Eye'
Westminster Cathedral has attracted the notice of Private Eye. In the current edition, there is a piece on page 12 "Music and Musicians" reporting on a new work by John Tavener, commissioned by the Prince of Wales that is to be performed in the Cathedral. According to the article:
It is based on the Koran and sets the 99 names of Allah to music, to be intoned over an hour and a half with choir, full orchestra and Tibetan gongs.
To a liberal minded Christian this may all seem unexceptionable, even worthy. But it's treading dangerous ground, not least because no one seems to have done much research into what Muslims will think about giving the names of Allah full choral treatment in a Catholic cathedral. "It will be a respectful, reverent event and we're not anticipating problems," said a spokesman. So that's alright then.
Photo: Joee Blogs
It may be that singing the names of Allah in the Cathedral is intended as a conciliatory gesture but I do hope that Lunchtime O'Boulez is wrong and that somebody has checked how this will go down with the Muslims. Webislam seem happy enough at any rate.
Of course, from a Catholic point of view, there are questions to be raised about the appropriateness of the initiative. I wonder what the Bishop of Cordoba would say. He has resisted requests from the Junta Islámica de España to use the Cathedral (a former mosque) for prayer, saying that it would generate confusion and lead to religious indifference. (Article in Typically Spanish)
For horrible blasphemies like the one cited above, I provide some prayers of reparation:
PRAYERS OF REPARATION FOR BLASPHEMIES
It seems like blasphemy has become a standard of entertainment lately. It's hard to watch a TV show, movie, play or comedian without being subjected to blasphemous humor or ideas. Here are some prayers we can say when confronted by such blasphemy.
"Golden Arrow" prayer
This prayer is said to have been revealed by Jesus Himself to a Carmelite Nun of Tours in 1843 as a reparation for blasphemy. "This Golden Arrow will wound My Heart delightfully," He said, "and heal the wounds inflicted by blasphemy."
Praise to the Holy Name of JesusMay the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most mysterious and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in heaven on earth and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the altar. 1
The Holy Name of our Saviour is taken in vain so often. When we hear someone use the Name above all names as a common swear word, we can cross ourselves and reverence the precious Name being defamed. Another commendable practice involves the devout, fervent recitation of the following prayer:
May the Holy Name of Jesus be infinitely blessed!
May the Holy Name of Jesus be infinitely blessed!
May the Holy Name of Jesus be infinitely blessed!
May the Holy Name of Jesus be infinitely blessed!
May the Holy Name of Jesus be infinitely blessed!
Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, animated with a desire to repair the outrages unceasingly offered to Thee, we prostrate before Thy throne of mercy, and in the name of all mankind, pledge our love and fidelity to Thee.
The more Thy mysteries are blasphemed, the more firmly we shall believe them, O Sacred Heart of Jesus!
The more impiety endeavors to extinguish our hope of immortality, the more we shall trust in Thy Heart, sole Hope of mankind!
The more hearts resist Thy Divine attractions, the more we shall love Thee, O infinitely amiable Heart of Jesus!
The more unbelief attacks Thy Divinity, the more humbly and profoundly we shall adore It, O Divine Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy holy laws are transgressed and ignored, the more we shall delight to observe them, O most holy Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Sacraments are despised and abandoned, the more frequently we shall receive them with love and reverence, O most generous Heart of Jesus!
The more the imitation of Thy virtues is neglected and forgotten, the more we shall endeavor to practice them, O Heart, model of every virtue!
The more the devil labors to destroy souls, the more we shall be inflamed with desire to save them, O Heart of Jesus, zealous Lover of souls!
The more sin and impurity destroy the image of God in man, the more we shall try by purity of life to be a living temple of the Holy Spirit, O Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Holy Church is despised, the more we shall endeavor to be her faithful children, O Sweet Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Vicar on earth is persecuted, the more will we honor him as the infallible head of Thy Holy Church, show our fidelity and pray for him, O kingly Heart of Jesus!
O Sacred Heart, through Thy powerful grace, may we become Thy apostles in the midst of a corrupted world, and be Thy crown in the kingdom of Heaven. Amen. 2
Imprimatur - + Samuel A. Stritch, December 17, 1943 Archbishop of Chicago.
Praise to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Reparation for Blasphemy
Mary, my Immaculate Mother, I desire to offer you reparation for the offenses which your Immaculate Heart receives from the horrible blasphemies which are uttered against you. I offer you these praises to console you for so many ungrateful children who so not love you, and to console the Heart of your Divine Son Who is so deeply offended by the insults offered to you.
Receive, my Purest mother, this little act of homage. Make me love you more each day and look with pity on those blasphemers that they may not delay to cast themselves into your maternal arms. Amen.
V. Grant that I may praise you, O Holy Virgin.
R. Give me strength against your enemies.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary Most Holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be her Immaculate Heart.
Blessed be her Virginal Purity.
Blessed be her Divine Maternity.
Blessed be her Universal Mediation.
Blessed be her sorrows and her tears.
Blessed be the graces with which the Lord crowned her Queen of Heaven and Earth.
Glory be to Mary, Daughter of the Father,
Glory be to Mary, Mother of the Son,
Glory be to Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
My Mother, I love you for those who do not love you; I praise you for those who blaspheme you; I surrender myself to you for those who will not recognize you as their Mother.
(Repeat the portion in bold type five times)
1"The Golden Arrow", Pieta Prayer Book, (Hickory Corners, MI: MLOR Corporation, 1995) 61. © MLOR Corporation 1995. ("Pictures or prayers may be reproduced for personal use, not for commercial purposes")
2"Act of Reparation", Holy Hour of Reparation booklet, pages 12-13; copyright © 1945 Soul Assurance Plan(TM), Chicago, IL.
after : Prayers for reparation