Sunday, September 30, 2007

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost
At the Introit of the Mass the Church prays for the peace which God has promised by His prophets:

Give peace, O Lord, to them that patiently wait for thee, that thy prophets may be found faithful: hear the prayers of thy servant, and of thy people Israel (Ecclus. 36:18). I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord. (Ps. 71:1) Glory etc.

O Lord, inasmuch as without Thee we are not able to please Thee, let Thy merciful pity rule and direct our hearts, we beseech Thee. Thro'.

EPISTLE (1Cor 1: 4-8)
Brethren, I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God that is given you in Christ Jesus, that in all things you are made rich in him, in all utterance and in all knowledge: as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ who also will confirm you into the end without crime, in the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Paul shows in this epistle that he possesses true love for his neighbor, because he rejoices and thanks God that he enriched the Corinthians with different graces and gifts, thus confirming the testimony of Christ in them, so that they could without fear expect His arrival for judgment. - Do thou also rejoice, with St. Paul, for the graces given to thy neighbor, for this is a mark of true charity.

GOSPEL (Matt. 9: 1-8)
At that time, Jesus entering into a boat, passed over the water, and came into his own city. And behold, they brought to him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed. And Jesus seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son; thy sins are forgiven thee. And behold, some of the Scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth. And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? whether it is easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins (then said he to the man sick of the palsy): Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. And he arose, and went into his house. And the multitude seeing it feared, and glorified God who had given such power to men.

1. Those who brought this sick man to Christ, give us a touching example of how we should take care of the sick and help them according to our ability. Christ was so well pleased with their faith and charity, that He cured the man sick of the palsy, and forgave him his sins. Hence we learn how we might assist many who are diseased in their soul, if we would lead them to God by confiding prayer, by urgent admonitions, or by good example.

2. Christ did not heal the man sick of the palsy until He had forgiven him his sins, by this He wished to teach us, that sins are often the cause of sicknesses and other evils, by which we are visited, and which God would remove from us if we were truly repentant. This doctrine Jesus confirmed, when He said to the man, who had been sick for thirty-eight years: Sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee (John 5:14). Would that this were considered by those who so often impetuously demand of God to be freed from their evils, but do not intend to free themselves from their sins, which are the cause of these evils, by a sincere repentance.

3. "He blasphemeth" - thus thought the Jews, in their perverted hearts, of Christ, because they believed that He in remitting the sins of the sick man, usurped the rights of God and thus did Him a great injury; for it is blasphemy to think, say, or do any thing insulting to God or His saints. But these Jews did not consider that they by their rash judgment calumniated God, since they blasphemed Christ who by healing the sick man, and by numerous other works had clearly proved His God-head. If Christ so severely reprimanded the Jews, who would not recognize Him as God, for a blasphemous thought against Him, what will He do with those Christians who, though they wish to be adorers of God and His Son, nevertheless, utter blasphemies, curses, and profanations of the holy Sacraments?

4. When Jesus saw their thoughts, He said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? This may be taken to heart by those who think that thoughts are free from scrutiny, and who never think to confess their evil and shameful thoughts. God; the most Holy and most just, will, nevertheless, not leave a voluntary unchaste, proud, angry, revengeful, envious thought unpunished, any more than an idle word (Matt 12: 36). The best remedy against evil thoughts would be the recollection that God who searches the heart sees them, and will punish them.

How great, O Jesus, is Thy love and mercy towards poor sinners, since Thou not only forgavest the sins of the man sick of palsy, but calling him son, didst console and heal him! This Thy love encourages me to beg of Thee the grace, that we may rise from our bed of sins by true penance, amend our life, and through the ways of Thy commandments enter the house of eternal happiness.

Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee (Matt 9: 2)

The same that Christ says to the man sick of the palsy, the priest says to every contrite sinner in the confessional, and thus remits the crime or the guilt of his sins, and the eternal punishment, by virtue of the authority given him by God. But since sins not only bring with them guilt and eternal punishment, but also temporal(1) and indeed spiritual or supernatural punishment, such as, painful conditions of the soul, as well in this world as in purgatory, and natural ones, as: poverty, disease, all sorts of adversities and accidents, we should endeavor to liberate ourselves from them by means of indulgences.

What is an indulgence?
It is a total or partial remission of the temporal punishment which man would have to suffer either in this or the next life, after the sins have been remitted.

How do we know that after the remission of the sins there still remains temporal punishment?
From holy Scripture; for our first parents after the forgiveness of their sin, were still afflicted with temporal punishment (Gen.3). God likewise forgave the sins of the children of Israel, who murmured so often against Him in the desert, but not their punishment, for He excluded them from the Promised Land, and caused them to die in the desert (Num. 14). Moses and Aaron experienced the same, on account of a slight want of confidence in God (Num. 20: 12, Deut. 37: 51, 52). David, indeed, received pardon from God through the Prophet Nathan for adultery and murder (2 Kings 12), still he had to endure heavy temporal punishment. Finally, faith teaches us, that we are tortured in purgatory for our sins, until we have paid the last farthing (Matt. 5: 26).

Did the Church always agree with this doctrine of Scripture?
Yes; for she always taught, that by the Sacrament of Penance the guilt and eternal punishment, due to sin, are indeed forgiven for the sake of the infinite merits of Jesus, but that temporal punishment still remains, for which the sinner must do penance. Even in the earliest ages she imposed great penances upon sinners for their sins which were already forgiven. For instance, murder or adultery was punished by a penance of twenty years; perjury, eleven; fornication, denial of faith or fortune-telling, by seven years of severe penance with fasting, etc. During this time it was not allowed to travel, except on foot, to be present at the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, or to receive the holy Eucharist. If the penitents showed a great zeal for penance and sincere amendment, or if distinguished members of the Church, particularly martyrs, interceded for them, the bishops granted them an indulgence, that is, they remitted the remaining punishment either totally or partially. In our days, on account of the weakness of the faithful, the Church is lenient. Besides the ecclesiastical, the spiritual punishments which would have to be suffered either here or in purgatory for the taking away of sins, are shortened and mitigated by indulgences through the treasure of the communion of saints.

Has the Church the power to remit temporal punishments, or to grant indulgences?
The Council of Trent expressly states, that the Church has power to grant indulgences (Sess. 25) and this statement it supports by the words of Christ. For as Christ protests: Amen, I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; so He also promised, that whatever the Church looses upon earth, is ratified and loosed in heaven: "Whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven" (Matt. 18: 18). In the person and by the power of Christ, that his spirit might be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 2: 10, 1Cor. 5: 4, 5) St. Paul forgave the incestuous Corinthian, upon whom he had imposed a heavy punishment.

What is meant by saying, indulgences are granted out of the treasury of the saints or of the Church?
By this is meant that God, by the Church, remits the temporal punishment due to sin for the sake of the merits of Christ and the saints, and supplies, as it were, by these merits what is still wanting in our satisfaction.

What kinds of indulgences are there?
Two; plenary and partial indulgences. A plenary indulgence, if rightly gained, remits all ecclesiastical and temporal punishment, which we would otherwise have to expiate by penance. A partial indulgence, however, remits only so many days or years of the temporal punishment, as, according to the penitential code of the primitive ages of the Church; the sinner would have been obliged to spend in severe penance. Hence the name forty day's indulgence, etc.

What is a Jubilee? (2)
It is a plenary indulgence, which the pope grants to the faithful of the entire world, whereby all the temporal punishments of sin, even in cases reserved to the pope or the bishops, are remitted, and forgiven in the name of God, if the sinner confesses contritely and receives the holy Eucharist and has a firm purpose of doing penance.

What is required to gain an indulgence?
First, that we should be in the state of grace, and have already obtained, by true repentance, forgiveness of those sins, the temporal punishment of which is to be remitted by the indulgence; and secondly, that we should exactly perform the good works prescribed for the gaining of the indulgence.

Do indulgences free us from performing works of penance?
By no means: for there are few in the proper state to receive a plenary indulgence in its fulness, since not only purity of soul is necessary but also the inclination to sin must be rooted out, it therefore cannot be the intention of the Church to free us from all works of penance by granting us indulgences. She cannot act contrary to the word of Jesus: "Unless you do penance, you shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13: 3). She rather wishes to assist our weakness, to supply our inability to do the required penance, and to contribute what is wanting in our penance, by applying the satisfaction of Christ and the saints to us by indulgences. If we, therefore, do not wish to do penance for our own sins, we shall have no part in the merits of others by indulgences.

Can indulgences be gained for the souls of the faithful departed?
Yes, by way of suffrage, so far as we comply with the required conditions, and thus beg of God, for the merits of His Son and the saints, to release the souls in purgatory. Whether God receive this petition or not, remains with Him, He will act only according to the condition of the deceased. We must, therefore, not depend upon the indulgences and good works which may be performed for us after death, but rather endeavor, during our life-time, to secure our salvation by leading a pious life; by our own good works and by the gaining of indulgences.

What follows from the doctrine of the Church concerning indulgences?
That an indulgence is no grant or license to commit sin, as the enemies of the Church falsely assert; that an indulgence grants no forgiveness of sins past or future, much less is permission given to commit sin; that no Catholic can believe that by gaming indulgences he is released from penance, or other good works, free from the fight with his evil inclinations, passions and habits, from compensating for injuries, repairing scandals, from retrieving neglected good, and glorifying God by works and sufferings; but that indulgences give nothing else than partial or total remission of temporal punishment; that they remind us of our weakness and lukewarmness which is great when compared with the zeal and fervor of the early Christians; that they impel us to satisfy the justice of God according to our ability. Finally, they remind us to thank God continually that He gave the Church a means in the inexhaustible treasure of the merits of Christ and His saints, to help our weakness and to supply what is wanting in our penance.

1. See Instruction on Satisfaction on the fourth Sunday in Advent.
2. The word jubilee signifies deliverance, remittance. With the Jews every fiftieth year was so called, and all the prisoners and slaves were to be set free in this year, according to the command of God, the inheritances which had been sold, restored to their masters, the debts cancelled, and the earth left untilled. This was a year of grace and rest for the Jews. This Jubilee of the Jews is a figure of the Catholic jubilee, in which the captives of sin and Satan are liberated, the debt of sin remitted, and the inheritance of heaven, which the sinner had sold to Satan, is restored to him.
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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Who is like God?

St Michael is mentioned three times in Holy Scriptures. In the book of Daniel (chapters 10, 12) he is the protector and liberator of God's people: "Michael, that high lord who is guardian of thy race." (Dan. 12:1). Judas Thaddeus repeats the legend of his strife with the devil for the body of Moses. In the Apocalypse we are told that "Michael and his angels fought against the dragon...and flung him down to earth"(Apoc. 12: 7-9); Who is like God? Love gives its direction to the will, enlightened by understanding. The angels, those "flames of fire" as the Psalmist calls them, are burning with love. True, sincere love is the song which we must know if we would join the choir of angels in the kingdom of God."(Ruysbroeck). The Church has special devotion to St. Michael and its origin, doubtless, is in the Bible, but it has much increased in the course of ages; it has been, so to speak, christened. From protector of the Jewish race, he has became protector of the new people of God, the Church. As one of the seven who stands and watches by the Blessed Eucharist, and after leads souls of the faithful up to the throne of God after death. Protector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was considered as the Chief of the Christian armies in the wars against the Mahometans and the Turks in the Vth and XVth centuries. St Louis IX, did all "by my Lord St.Michael", and Joan of Arc was always led by him. He has his place in literature; Roland was taken to heaven by him; Vondel gives Michael's portrait in his "Lucifer". His statue stands in many towns which have chosen him for their patron, and he has inspired the artists of every century.

What gives him such an attraction?

The Psalmist, speaking of man, says, "thou hast placed him only a little below the angels" (Ps.8:6).
We know that the angels, those richly endowed and highly privileged beings, are far above us. The angel's knowledge is intuitive; he does not need the medium of reason; he was created with a strong will, and is confirmed in grace. His faculties are all in order and under control, making of him a unit of the highest perfection. That mighty being gave itself freely and once for all to God; his choice was absolute, making him for ever "free for God", and therefore perfectly adapted to his service. None but the Queen of Angels, whose being is yet greater and richer in grace, can surpass their praise and their service. They are a mighty host, strong powers, flames of fire. "Bless the Lord, all you angels of his; angels of sovereign strength, that carry out his commandment....bless the Lord, all you hosts of his, the servants that perform his will."(Ps. 102:20, 21). It is not difficult to see why St. Michael is so beloved. No other angel has been allowed to show us his virtues and qualities so clearly. No other has proved to us so often and so distinctly the inexorable nature of his choice, none has defended it more unceasingly. Today's Collect says, "God, who ordained the service of angels and men in a wonderful order, be pleased to grant that our life on earth may be guarded by those who stand always ready to serve thee in heaven." It is really he who called God's wrath down upon the fallen angels? Was he then, in the abyss of time, already God's well-beloved? Is the last day really his day? Is he to have the honour of bringing all souls to the foot of God's throne? Is he the trusted servant, the great general who will bring the last standard, taken from the enemy, to his king? For the Christian folk, he is the ideal of the great military leader. All who love the Church have the protector of God's kingdom here on earth, so penetrated is he by the will of the Lord of the angels. We in our weakness claim his help in our fight with the devil. Michael and his angels, so full of God's own power, are actual and invincible forces, infinitely greater than those of hell. In our day, the Church, more than ever, needs his protection against her enemies.

The Feast of Saint Michael, or Michaelmas Day, is September 29. As it is not certain just what church is commemorated as having been dedicated on this day, the pious belief has gained favor that the entire Catholic Church is here indicated. For by casting the rebel spirits into the abyss, St. Michael dedicated the Church Triumphant in Heaven as the peaceful abode of the Angels; and as he wards off the devil and his colleagues from the Church upon earth, he has dedicated the Church Militant as the secure dwelling place of the faithful upon earth. Finally, as helper and consoler of the souls in Purgatory, the Church Suffering is place under his care. This feast of St. Michael has ever been one of the outstanding feasts of the Church. However, the liturgy for the feast is not confined to the veneration of St. Michael alone, but includes all the Angels, particularly those who are appointed as guardians of mankind.

O Glorious Prince of the heavenly hosts and victor over rebellious spirits, be mindful of me who am so weak and sinful and yet so prone to pride and ambition. Lend me, I pray, thy powerful aid in every temptation and difficulty, and above all do not forsake me in my last struggle with the powers of evil. Holy Michael, Archangel, protect us in the day of battle, and so on the day of judgment, that we may be saved from eternal loss!

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Queen of Apostles, pray for us!

St Paul gives us very accurate explanation about Apostles mission: "For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord; and ourselves your servants through Jesus." (2Cor 4:5). Mary, however, was the one: "of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ" (Mt 1:16), therefore, she is above the Apostles as much as deeds outdo words. The Apostles presented themselves to the world in particular way: "Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God" (1Cor 4:1), whereas Mary was mother of Christ and chosen by God to nourish and hide great mystery of our faith in her own virginal womb for nine months. The Apostles declared: "But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4), whereas Mary was the source of God's word and she could teach Apostles about Incarnation of Jesus, His birth followed by Holy Family's flight to Egypt, about Jesus' childhood in Nazareth. We read in Acts of Apostles following Jesus Ascension into Heaven, all Apostles were gathered in the upper room and: "persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus" (Acts 1:14). Mary's presence explains extraordinary fullness of graces bestowed upon all present there after Holy Spirit descended from Heaven, for His Spouse was in their midst. St Paul ensures us: "For we forecast what may be good not only before God, but also before men" (2 Cor 8:21). Mary, our Mother through Christ, full of grace and virtues, is always best example and help for every Christian aspiring to achieve holiness of life. From this reflections we can only draw one conclusion and agree with the Invocations of the Litany of Loretto - Mary IS the Queen of Apostles. We should follow her and run under her mantle in every trouble and need, every one of us, no matter what profession, authority or resposibility God bestowed upon us. We are all her children, given to her in last words of dying Christ. Let us find and fulfill as best as we can our own apostolates in our own homes, at work whatever our responsibilities are let us be a living example of Christian charity to give witness to Our Lord, keeping in mind words: "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8).
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Daily Reading
In this passage of St Matthew Gospel we read the same words St Therese found particularly inspiring on her way to close union with God. We can also find there Our Lord's serious warning about dangers of the world and human weakness. Very edifying reading for daily meditation.
Mt 18:1-10
At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Who, thinkest thou, is the greater in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus, calling unto him a little child, set him in the midst of them. And said: amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven. And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me. But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh. And if thy hand, or thy foot, scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to go into life maimed or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

We often associate St. Francis of Assisi with birds. There are 13th-century stories of Francis preaching to birds in trees. A famous painting by Giotto portrays Francis humbly admiring birds on the ground, his hand raised in blessing. In popular images of Francis today, we see birds circling his head or perched on his shoulders.....

In reading St. Bonaventure’s Life of St. Francis recently, I was surprised by where Bonaventure positioned what was Francis’ most famous story of preaching to birds. He has the story occurring right at the point in Francis’ life where Francis is struggling with a deep personal dilemma: Should he retire from the world and devote himself entirely to prayer or should he continue traveling about as a preacher of the gospel? To answer this question, St. Francis sends brothers to seek the advice of two of his most trusted colleagues: Brother Sylvester and the holy virgin Clare and her sisters. The word comes back very quickly from both Sylvester and Clare that it is their clear judgment that God wants Francis to keep proclaiming the good news of God’s saving love. No sooner does Francis hear their response than he immediately stands up, and in the words of St. Bonaventure, “without the slightest delay he takes to the roads, to carry out the divine command with great fervor.”

Francis’ sermon to the birds
The typical reader at this juncture, I believe, would expect St. Bonaventure to portray St. Francis as rushing off to the nearest village or marketplace to begin preaching the gospel to the people gathered there. But where does Francis actually go? Francis’ very next stop, according to Bonaventure, is this: “He came to a spot where a large flock of birds of various kinds had come together. When God’s saint saw them, he quickly ran to the spot and greeted them as if they were endowed with reason….“He went right up to them and solicitously urged them to listen to the word of God, saying, ‘Oh birds, my brothers and sisters, you have a great obligation to praise your Creator, who clothed you in feathers and gave you wings to fly with, provided you with pure air and cares for you without any worry on your part.’…The birds showed their joy in a remarkable fashion: They began to stretch their necks, extend their wings, open their beaks and gaze at him attentively. “He went through their midst with amazing fervor of spirit, brushing against them with his tunic. Yet none of them moved from the spot until the man of God made the sign of the cross and gave them permission to leave; then they all flew away together. His companions waiting on the road saw all these things. When he returned to them, that pure and simple man began to accuse himself of negligence because he had not preached to the birds before.” Thomas of Celano, who wrote an earlier biography of St. Francis, told this same story of Francis’ sermon to the birds, including Francis’ admission of “negligence,” but Celano adds this sentence: “From that day on, [Francis] carefully exhorted all birds, all animals, all reptiles, and also insensible creatures, to praise and love the creator…” (see I Celano XXI)

All creatures form one family
Bonaventure’s story of Francis preaching to birds was a minor shock to me and perhaps to you also. Had Francis not just learned from his special advisors Brother Sylvester and Lady Clare that God wanted him to continue his preaching ministry? And should we not assume that the primary audience of his preaching should be other human beings—and not bunches of birds? I believe that Bonaventure is trying to shock us into widening our horizons, and into learning with St. Francis that the whole family of creation deserves more respect and ought to be invited to praise God along with us human beings. Maybe just as Francis accused himself of negligence for not inviting the birds—and other animals, reptiles, and so forth—to praise God with him, so we need to admit the same kind of negligence, too. The more St. Francis grew in wisdom and in his understanding that God’s saving love goes out to all creatures, the more he began to see that all creatures make up one family. The most important key to Francis’ understanding that all creatures form one family is the Incarnation. Francis had a great fascination for the feast of Christmas. He was deeply aware of that one moment in history in which God entered creation and the Word became flesh. In his mind, this awesome event sent shockwaves through the whole fabric of creation. The Divine Word not only became human. The Word of God became flesh, entering not only the family of humanity but the whole family of creation, becoming one in a sense with the very dust out of which all things were made. Francis had a keen sense that all creatures—not just humans—must be included in the celebration of Christmas. Francis’ biographers tell us that he wanted the emperor to ask all citizens to scatter grain along the roads on Christmas Day so that the birds and other animals would have plenty to eat. Walls, too, should be rubbed with food, Francis said, and the beasts in the stable should receive a bounteous meal on Christmas Day. He believed that all creatures had a right to participate in the celebration of Christmas. More and more, Francis harbored within himself a profound instinct that the saving plan of God, as revealed by the child-Savior born in Bethlehem, was to touch every part of the created world. Given this vision, it was natural for Francis to take literally Jesus’ command in Mark’s Gospel to “proclaim the gospel to every creature”—to birds and fish, rabbits and wolves, as well as to humans. St. Francis refused to be a human chauvinist—presuming that he was to be saved apart from the rest of creation.

Fragments from American Catholic - Friar Jim's inspirations
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Thursday, September 27, 2007


Suffering, be it of body or soul, of heart or mind, is the lot of all men here below; as the Cross, its noblest symbol, was scandal for some, folly for others, so is suffering today. From a purely natural point of view, pain appears as an enemy to be dreaded; supernaturally speaking, it is a means of salvation and sanctification. To help us accept it and to carry our cross patiently, if not willingly, we have the example of Christ in His Passion. We will ask him to make us understand the true sense of suffering and to love the Cross. The Cross was the climax of the Saviour's work on earth; it completed the sacrifice by which He glorified His Father, saved us men, and opened for us the sources of grace. Knowing well every torment of soul and body that awaited Him, He accepted them all. His Passion is unfathomable, even in it smallest details, all of which were foretold by psalmist and prophet, and of which the last was fulfilled when Jesus cried: "I thirst!". It was by His Passion and death that Christ reached His resurrection and glory. Since then, suffering, far from being merely a punishment for sin, is a blessing and a grace. Christ himself tells us: "A grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die, or else it remains nothing more than a grain of wheat; but if it dies, then it yields rich fruit." (John 12: 24)
In proportion as we, by self-denial and mortification, diminish the obstacles that hinder our spiritual growth, our lives become richer. Christ tells us that God sends us suffering to attain that end. "I am the true vine, and it is my Father who tends it. The branch that yields no fruit in me, he cuts away; the branch that does yield the fruit, he trims clean, so that it may yield more fruit....My Father's name has been glorified, if you yield abundant fruit."(John 15: 1,2,8). When God sees a soul united to Christ by sanctifying grace and consecrated to him, he takes the spiritual conduct of that soul into his own hands. By suffering and humiliation, he cuts away the branches that bear no fruit, and prunes the others of all that is superfluous. Nothing should therefore dishearten us, neither trials nor temptations. The nearer a soul is to God, the heavier its trials may be; Jesus himself followed that road. His disciples and brides must follow him if they would be like him. St.Paul says that all the science of the interior life may be reduced to "the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and of him as crucified" (1 Cor: 2. 2). When the Father prunes His vine, His hand seems heavy, even to his saints, who are reduced to cry Him mercy. He tries them by the temptations He permits, by the adversities He sends, and sometimes by a cruel sensation of loneliness and abandonment. Happy those who allow Him to work His will on them, and to make them more like their Master. There is often so much that is human in our prayers and good works that our progress is hesitating and slow. It would be more rapid if we yielded ourselves to God's conduct. If the father sends us the cross, with all its pain and suffering, we will take it from his hand, willingly and thankfully, saying with St. Paul,"I am glad of my suffering....I help to pay off the debt which the afflictions of Christ still leave to be paid, for the sake of His body, the Church."(Col. 1.24). Teresa of Avila sighed without ceasing, "Let me suffer or die; give me the Cross or death". Other saints seemed it a grace to suffer for Jesus' sake; a grace of which they knew themselves unworthy.

O, Jesus, give us strength to bear to the end whatever cross you send us. As you yourself by your Passion and death entered into the glory, so we hope by suffering to gain eternal life. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee, because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world! Sorrowful Mother, make us strong as thou wert!

Meditation after "With the Church" by Fr M. Goossens
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007


ST GERARD, sometimes surnamed Sagredo, the apostle of a large district in Hungary, was a Venetian, born about the beginning of the eleventh century. At an early age he consecrated himself to the service of God and after some time he left for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. While passing through Hungary he became known to the king, St Stephen, who made him tutor to his son, Bd Emeric, and Gerard began as well to preach with success. When St Stephen established the episcopal see of Csanad he appointed Gerard to be its first bishop. The greater part of the people were heathen, and those that bore the name of Christian were ignorant, brutish and savage, but St Gerard laboured among them with much fruit. He always so far as possible joined to the perfection of the episcopal state that of the contemplative life, which gave him fresh vigour in the discharge of his pastoral duties. But Gerard was also a scholar, and wrote an unfinished dissertation on the Hymn of the Three Young Men (Daniel iii), as well as other works which are lost. King Stephen seconded the zeal of the good bishop so long as he lived, but on his death in 1038 the realm was plunged into anarchy by competing claimants to the crown, and a revolt against Christianity began. Things went from bad to worse, and eventually, when celebrating Mass at a little place on the Danube called Giod, Gerard had prevision that he would on that day receive the crown of martyrdom. His party arrived at Buda and were going to cross the river, when they were set upon by some soldiers under the command of an obstinate upholder of idolatry and enemy of the memory of King St Stephen. They attacked St Gerard with a shower of stones, overturned his conveyance, and dragged him to the ground. Whilst in their hands the saint raised himself on his knees and prayed with St Stephen, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. They know not what they do." He had scarcely spoken these words when he was run through the body with a lance; the insurgents then hauled him to the edge of the cliff called the Blocksberg, on which they were, and dashed his body headlong into the Danube below. It was September 24, 1046. The heroic death of St Gerard had a profound effect, he was revered as a martyr, and his relics were enshrined in 1083 at the same time as those of St Stephen and his pupil Bd Emeric. In 1333 the republic of Venice obtained the greater part of his relics from the king of Hungary, and with great solemnity translated them to the church of our Lady of Murano, wherein St Gerard is venerated as the protomartyr of Venice, the place of his birth.

fragmants from the Butler's Lives of the Saints
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Spiritual Bouquet: Each will receive his own reward according to his labor. I Cor. 3:8

The Holy North American Martyrs are eight in number; five died in what is now Canada, three in what is now the United States. All are Jesuits, all are French in origin. They came in the 1640's to New France, to add their strength to that of the Franciscan Recollets, who had preceded them by a few years. There was not yet any bishop to assist them; the first bishop of Quebec, Blessed Monsignor Francis Montmorency de Laval, arrived only in 1658. Words strive in vain to convey to a comfortable world the virtue of the first missionaries, and to describe the difficulties confronted by these heros desiring to implant Christianity amid the savage nations of the north. Building materials, chapel accessories, everything in effect had to be imported from France; the Indian languages were varied and difficult; customs were at best non-Christian; insects infested the woods where they dwelt; the tribes were migrant and had to be followed from place to place. There were less belligerent ones who responded rapidly to the pacifying and sanctifying influences of the Faith, but the Iroquois of the northeast were dreaded, and it was to them that the eight martyrs all fell victims, over a period of seven years.

The Martyrs of Canada:
Father Antoine Daniel was the first to die in Canada, after ten years among the Hurons. The chapel of the village where his mission stood was filled with his faithful Christians, and he had just finished saying Mass, when the Iroquois attacked in July of 1648. The men ran to the palisades; the priest, when the invaders broke through, went to the chapel door and faced the Iroquois, warning them of God’s anger. They slew him at once and threw him into the chapel they had already set on fire, still occupied by the women and children.

Saint John de Brebeuf, “the giant of the Huron missions” was a native of Normandy, noted for his physical height and strength and still stronger love of God. Arriving in 1625, at the age of 32 years, he spent three years with the Hurons of Ontario, winning their love and respect to such a degree that they wept when he was recalled to Quebec City for a time in 1628. “We still do not know how to adore the Master of life as you do!” Political questions obliged him to return to Europe in that year, but he was back in Canada in 1633, and among his Hurons the following year. He labored until 1649, in which year the luminous Cross he had seen in the sky the year before, presage of his martyrdom, became a reality for this glorious father of the Faith in America. The Iroquois took him prisoner in the village of Saint Louis near the Georgian bay of Lake Huron. He was tortured, scalped; pieces of his flesh were removed and eaten before his eyes; boiling water was poured over him, hatchets heated red-hot were placed on his chest, back and shoulders. He did not utter a single cry. His death occurred in March of 1649.

His young companion in the mission, Father Gabriel Lallemant, 39 years old in that year and of a delicate constitution, was martyred the next day; he had been forced to witness the death of his beloved Father Brebeuf. He cried out: “Father, we are given up as a spectacle to the world, the Angels and men!” And he went up to him and kissed his bleeding wounds. Facing the same fate afterwards, he knelt down and embraced the stake to which he was to be tied, to make his final offering to God. He himself survived for longer still, seventeen hours. The Iroquois set fire to the bark they had attached to him; he was “baptized” in mockery of the faith, in boiling water, not once but many times. The savages cut the flesh of his thighs to the bone and held red-hot axes in the wounds. They finally tired of their task and finished him with a blow from an axe.

Nine months after the martyrdom of these two, Saint Charles Garnier, also missioned with the Hurons, fell victim in his turn. He was a valiant priest who had said: “The source of all gentleness, the sustenance of our hearts, is Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.” He was of a wealthy family, and as a student in the Jesuit college of Clermont, would deposit his weekly allowance in the church’s collection box for the poor. In the mission he slept without a mattress, and when traveling with the Indians, would carry the sick on his shoulders for an hour or two to relieve them. He died the day before the feast of the Immaculate Conception, on December 7, 1649, while aiding the wounded and the dying; an Iroquois fired two bullets directly into his chest and abdomen. Seeing a dying man near him, twice he tried to stand and go to him, and twice he fell heavily. Another Iroquois then ended his life with an axe.

Saint Noel Chabanel had been a professor in France; he suffered the temptation to return to Europe when he saw clearly the state of the souls of the natives. He overcame it and made a vow in writing of perpetual stability in the Huron mission. He died alone when, pursued by the Iroquois in the company of a few of his Huron neophytes, he had to stop, exhausted, in the woods. He told the others to flee. It was later that an apostate Huron avowed he had killed him in hatred of the Christian religion and cast his body into a river. He died on the feast of Our Lady which he particularly loved, that of the Immaculate Conception, one day after the martyrdom of Father Garnier, on December 8, 1649.

The Martyrs of New York State:
The great missionary Isaac Jogues was martyred, as it were, twice; after being surprised by the Iroquois while traveling, he might have escaped from the midst of his Hurons who were being seized at the same time, but did not want to abandon them. He was tortured in ways like those we have described for the others, but he survived and was held prisoner under the most painful conditions for long months, by the Iroquois of what is now New York State. He finally escaped and returned to Europe, aided by the Dutch. He was not recognized when he knocked on the door of the Jesuit house in Paris. When the Holy Father Urban VIII was asked for a dispensation for him to say Mass, since his fingers had been badly mutilated, he replied: “Can one deny the right to say Mass to a martyr of Christ?” The Saint returned to Quebec and offered himself for an Iroquois mission, saying he would not return. He was killed in 1646 by a sudden blow of an axe from behind, by a savage of the mission where he stayed.

During the original captivity of Father Jogues, his assistant, Brother René Goupil, was with him, a prisoner like himself. He was the first of the Jesuit martyrs to die. He was a donné, a coadjutor Brother who desired to come to the American missions to assist the priests, having been found to have too unstable a health to be ordained. He was said never to have lost the smile which characterized his gentle disposition. He died in 1642, when least expecting it, from the blow of an axe, while he was helping a little child to make the sign of the cross. Father Jogues succeeded in burying his young assistant, at once calling him a martyr, because slain in hatred of God and the Church, and of their sign which is the Cross, and while exercising ardent charity towards his neighbor.

And finally, Saint Jean de la Lande, who had “the heart of an apostle,” engaged himself to work as an auxiliary of the missionaries, for love of Jesus Christ and souls. On the day of his departure, he was expecting to meet with death in the new world. Unafraid of the sufferings he knew awaited him, he accompanied Father Jogues and was slain in the same mission as the priest, on the following day, October 19, 1646.

It seems fitting to include here the picture of Blessed Kateri who was remarkable for her holiness and is the first beatified tribal native Indian of North America. May the Name of the Lord be blessed for ever.

Source: Nos Gloires (L’Église du Canada), by Gerard Champagne (Jésus Marie et Notre Temps: Montreal, 1976).

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Daily Readings
In the Reading below Our Lord reminds us what charity means.

Ephes 4:1-6.
I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called: With all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity. Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. One body and one Spirit: as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.

Mt 22:34-46.

But the Pharisees, hearing that he had silenced the Sadducees, came together. And one of them, a doctor of the law, asked him, tempting him: Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets. And the Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying: What think you of Christ? Whose son is he? They say to him: David's. He saith to them: How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying: The Lord said to my Lord: Sit on my right hand, until I make thy enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word: neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

after Per Ipsum
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Brethren, if a man is found guilty of some fault, you, who are spiritually minded, ought to show a spirit of gentleness in correcting him." Gal. 6.1
Thus St. Paul urges us to practice apostleship in a spirit of charity and humility. Psalm 36 tells us: "Patient souls are the land's heirs, enjoying great peace" v.11; and Solomon: "A gentle answer is a quarrel averted; a word that gives pain does but fan the flame of resentment."Proverbs 15.1.
A man who is gentle can do much good. Gentleness is necessary, especially where its contrary exists. It is a question of how we react to an unkind word or deed which we were not expecting, or to sin of another. To be gentle under such circumstances requires self-control, and far from being a sign of weakness, as a proof of a strong personality and long training; self-love and selfishness must have been, as far as may be, conquered.
A man who is gentle, or as the Bible says, "meek", has pity on the sinner who has offended him. He refuses to see malice or bitterness in the words and deeds of others; words and deeds which do more harm to the sinner than to the sinned against. He has pity on him, because he is his fellow man; he remains calm and friendly; his answer is not an angry defense of his own conduct, but a kindly word welling up from a heart in which God's peace dwells, and which therefore brings peace with it. The hothead is calmed down by it, and his anger drops.
Jesus praises the meek who will possess his land, his kingdom, and declares: "Blessed are the peace-makers; they shall be counted the children of God" (Matt. 5:9). Few man are gentle by nature. It supposes true Christianity; it is a grace to be obtained only by prayer and by following the example of him who was meekness itself, and of whom Isaias prophesied: "He himself bows to the stroke; no word comes from him. Sheep led away to the slaughter-house, lamb that stands dumb while it is shorn; no word from him." (Isaias 53:7). He himself urges us to follow his example:"learn from me; I am gentle and humble of heart; and you shall find the rest for your souls" (Matt. 11: 29).
He, the meekest of men, bore insult and mockery for our sake, died a shameful death on the cross, to save us sinners. If we remember him, we shall find it impossible to be hard and unforgiving, however ill men may treat us. They can never behave to us as they behaved to him!
O Jesus, we long to be gentle, as you are, and thus to bring your peace upon earth. You give yourself daily to us as Food and drink, and assure us that thereby we shall live, as you live, in the Father. Give us grace that we may help others to be gentle, and may win them over to your ideal of unity and love and peace.

After "With the Church - meditations on the topics from Breviary and Missal" by Fr M. Goossens OFM
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Saturday, September 22, 2007


The Prophets were highly honored by both Jews and Gentiles on account of their holy lives, their great zeal for the Law of God, and their miracles and prophecies. They had to endure many sufferings and a number of them ended their lives by martyrdom. But above them all, in honor and in suffering, is Our Lady, whom Isaias and David call the "prophetess", "Virgin", "Mother of the Divine Redeemer", and "the King's daughter clothed in splendor". Animated by lively zeal, the Prophets put forth their whole energy to rescue the Israelites from temporal and eternal ruin. They fought against the vice of idolatry and immorality. Both Prophets and Israelites were longing and praying to God for the coming of Messiah, born of the Virgin Mother: "Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened, and bud forth a saviour (Isa 45: 8). Mary, the Virgin Mother, is likened in this passage to the "earth opened" for she brought forth, fed and raised Our Redeemer. Like God's Prophets, Mary was predestined to suffer: "And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed." (Luke 2, 34.35). Mary have sacrificed her own Son to rescue sinners. If she could have spared Him without injury to our redemption, she would willingly have sacrificed her own life. And now, enthroned in heaven, so great is her love for us that she is ever active in rescuing sinners from danger and in saving their souls.

Oh, Queen of Prophets,
help us to imitate the Prophets and your own example. They never sought the world with its pleasures, but God alone. They were willing to suffer for Him in their zeal to save souls. Teach us to be zealous for the honor of God and for the salvation of our souls and that of our neighbor. Help us to realize that the most divine of all divine things is to labour with God for the salvation of souls.

Part of the text adopted from
Inter Mirifica
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Friday, September 21, 2007

St. Therese and the Missions - by Christine J. Murray

St. Therese of Lisieux had a special affinity with the missions even before she entered the convent. Her autobiography, Story of A Soul, relates her first retreat at an abbey in preparation of her First Communion. She stood out from the rest because she wore the big crucifix her sister Leonie had given her, "which, like the missionaries, I had fastened to my belt." And like most saints, the interpretation of the outward sign was misguided. She had entered the Lisieux Carmel, the saint wanted to go to the new Carmel in Saigon, but knew she would never be able to when she was diagnosed with tuberculosis about a year before she died in 1897 at the age of twenty-four. Pope John Paul II has directed the faithful to use St. Therese as a model for the missions. Hers was a life of intense prayer, which is necessary in any missionary work. As Christians, we must practice charity. Some missionary organizations have de-emphasized the role of bringing the Gospel into their lives, as Jesus exhorted to the Apostles. Recently, the director of a missionary home for orphaned and abandoned boys in Jamaica spoke at a parish. The nun explained the abject poverty and how many parents are abandoning their children at younger ages. Many of the children cared for there are homeless and without discipline. She spoke of the challenges of making them take direction, then teaching them to read, then learn a trade so their own children do not end up in the same boat. She also mentioned that she has learned to trust God to provide for the home and to keep it from closing.

This is all very noble, but she failed to mention whether these boys learn to trust God, or if they ever hear of Him. Do they learn, in the time that they learn and live there, about Jesus and Christian morality? Do they have the chance of not only living a more materially rich life, but also a spiritually rich one? Maybe they do learn these things. If so, why was not it deemed important enough to mention? After all, she had an audience of church-going Catholics. This oversight could be more easily excused if it were an isolated incident. Sadly, that is not the case. It is more pathetic that the people sitting in the pews do not notice. The Holy Father has called for new missionary zeal in the Catholic Church. In his message of the World Day for the Missions, which will be observed October 19, Pope John Paul II does point out that not all Christians are called to become missionaries in the traditional sense. However, the Second Vatican Council states that missions are "the special undertakings in which preachers of the Gospel, sent by the Church and going into the whole world, carry out the work of preaching the Gospel and implanting the Church among people who do not yet believe in Christ" (Ad gentes, no. 6). St. Therese participated in missionary work through her own prayer and sacrifice at the Carmel convent in Lisieux. She even "adopted" two missionary priests for this purpose, with all her good works and self-said "poor merits" offered for their work. This a large reason why the Little Flower is the patroness of the missions. Indeed, prayer is the "stone foundation" for any missionary work to truly succeed. She engaged in this work in the Martin home while growing up, in her work in Carmel, and while she lay dying in an infirmary bed. All of us can do this according to our own state of life. We need to see Jesus in everyone we meet, including the lady a few pews behind us singing terribly off key.

We also need to carry out mission work in today's pagan world. As the Holy Father said in his catechesis on missions, "There is the consideration that in the Churches of the first evangelization, from which came many missionaries working in Ômission countries', there is an increasing awareness that their territory is becoming Ôa mission land' requiring a Ônew evangelization'" (General audience May 3, 1995, no. 3). This is true in several dioceses, particularly in the United States, where the Faith has been lost. This can be more challenging missionary activity than going to a land where no one has ever heard of Jesus. People who have heard the Gospel, but have been misled about the Church's teachings, can be just as or more tenacious about holding on to their beliefs. And the religious relativism prevalent in today's world has many people feeling comfortable in believing and practicing "whatever" in the name of tolerance. Many children exposed to catechetical programs in the past 30 years have not received the fullness of the Catholic Faith, which makes it easier for them to turn away from it. As Pope John XXIII stated in his encyclical Princeps Pastorum in 1959, "The sheer number of Christians means little if they lack virtue; that is, if, while enjoying the name of Catholic, they do not stand firm in their determination." After baptism, they need solid catechesis.

But we cannot give up part of Christian teaching in a particular culture so the truth may be more easily accepted. And it is impossible to embrace customs that are in direct conflict with the Gospel. As St. Therese and every other saint has shown, it is not enough to believe that Jesus was a "good guy." Her simplicity and desire to do everything, no matter how little, totally in union with God's will shows us the way to reach eternal life.

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Daily Reading

Matt 9:9-13

And when Jesus passed on from thence, he saw a man sitting in the custom house, named Matthew; and he saith to him: Follow me. And he arose up and followed him. And it came to pass as he was sitting at meat in the house, behold many publicans and sinners came, and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And the Pharisees seeing it, said to his disciples: Why doth your master eat with publicans and sinners? But Jesus hearing it, said: They that are in health need not a physician, but they that are ill. Go then and learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. For I am not come to call the just, but sinners.
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

In this little essay Charles Mangan explains misinterpretation of the passage from St Therese Autobiography, picked up by those in favour of women-priests, that St Therese had a desire and vocation for the priesthood.

St. Therese and the Priesthood by Charles M. Mangan

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, in her renowned autobiography Story of a Soul, asserts strongly her deepest feelings to exercise various vocations for love of God and the Church. The Little Flower contends: "I feel within me other vocations. I feel the vocation of the WARRIOR, THE PRIEST, THE APOSTLE, THE DOCTOR, THE MARTYR." It may seem strange to the twentieth-century believer that this humble, French Discalced Carmelite nun experienced a forceful attraction to be a priest. After all, the present-day "wish" on the part of some women to become priests is part and parcel of the rampant dissent which has run wild, mostly throughout North America and Western Europe, and which routinely scorns the longstanding teaching of the Magisterium. Therefore, because this text from Story of a Soul has been used to defend the notion that women are indeed invited by God to participate in the ordained priesthood of Jesus Christ, we do well to examine precisely just what Saint Therese wrote a century ago.

The Little Flower explains her desire. "I feel in me the vocation of the PRIEST. With what love, O Jesus, I would carry You in my hands when, at my voice, You would come down from Heaven. And with what love would I give You to souls! But alas! while desiring to be a Priest, I admire and envy the humility of St. Francis of Assisi and I feel the vocation of imitating him in refusing the sublime dignity of the Priesthood." Saint Therese certainly is not challenging the ancient doctrine of the Church that only men are to be admitted to the ordained priesthood. Rather, she confesses her relentless prayer to do as the priest does, namely, to give Christ to hungry souls. She acknowledges that even if she could accept the God-given gift of the ordained priesthood, she would have to refuse, given her own unworthiness to become an alter Christus. She cites the moving example of Saint Francis of Assisi who, as a deacon, would go no further in the hierarchy evident in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. When reflecting on the Little Flower's comments, one sees clearly that both the priest and those not ordained as priests can benefit spiritually from her poignant reflection. Priests come away from the text with a renewed sense of their own unworthiness in the sight of the Lord. Who can really claim the privilege of acting in persona Christi? When priests offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, they take the place of Christ; they possess the awesome authority to "command" Jesus, in the words of Saint Therese, to "come down from heaven." No priest can presume to have earned this precious grace this amazing gift comes from God alone. Those who are not priests also are enriched by meditating on this paragraph in Story of a Soul. Every Christian by virtue of his Baptism is called to share the Gospel with his neighbor. This is not a suggestion but a serious obligation. With genuine concern for the honor of God and the salvation of souls, one is to"carry" the Savior to others, thereby helping to contribute to their eventual everlasting salvation in Christ.

Saint Therese had a true sense of her own identity. She knew exactly to what she was called as a consecrated religious. She had no illusions as to what the Lord required of her in her personal vocation as a "Carmelite, Spouse, Mother." She wanted for nothing other than to do as she was directed by the Almighty Himself. Then, she realized, she would be well on the way thanks to God's abundant grace to authentic holiness. The Little Flower's burning passion to bring the Redeemer to others is to take root in our souls. Whether as a member of the clergy, the consecrated religious, or the laity, each of us has an urgent task: to reveal Jesus to those around us. We imitate the "Little Way" of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, devoid of pride and ambition, in sharing the Messiah with others, confident that He will bless and strengthen them as He has us. Saint Therese, fully aware of your divinely-inspired vocation to carry Jesus to others, pray for us!

Father Mangan is a priest of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Spiritual Bouquet: May the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind toward one another. Rom. 15:5

On September 19, 1846, the Mother of God appeared to two young shepherds, Melanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud, on the heights of the mountain of La Salette in France. There She dictated to them a public message which She asked to make known to all Her people. And to each little shepherd privately She confided a secret, concerning which She gave special directives. Our text for the feast of Blessed Maximin Giraud, September 20th, gives in his own words a brief description of the apparition. And we summarize [tomorrow] the public message, with its warnings and predictions, all of which have already been fulfilled. Blessed Melanie Calvat was invested with the mission of founding a new religious Order, the Order of the Mother of God, which would associate under one single common rule more than one community, and would include the Apostles of the Latter Times announced by Saint Louis Mary de Montfort in his Prophetic Prayer. Blessed Melanie was told by the Mother of God to make known her secret after the year 1858, and she published it herself in the face of great difficulties. It was important, and remains important, for the Church to be aware of its contents. We therefore will summarize today, briefly, the secret of La Salette for those who may not yet know it, or even of it.

The Blessed Virgin announced that it was primarily the defections of the Church which will bring down on the world the exemplary chastisement: “God is going to strike in an unprecedented manner. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth! God is going to exhaust His wrath, and no one will be able to resist so many concerted woes... Many will abandon the faith, and the number of priests and religious who will dissociate themselves from the true religion will be great... Many religious institutes will lose the faith entirely and will cause the loss of many souls. The Church will pass through a frightful crisis... The Holy Father will suffer greatly. I will be with him to the end to receive his sacrifice... For a time God will not remember France or Italy because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is no longer known... [But the] prayers, penance and tears of the just will ascend to heaven, and the entire people of God will beg for pardon and mercy and will ask My assistance and My intercession. Then Jesus Christ, by an act of His justice and His great mercy toward the just [will intervene and] then there will be peace, the reconciliation of God with men... Charity will flourish everywhere.. The Gospel will be preached everywhere, and men will make great progress in the faith, because there will be unity among the workers of Jesus Christ and men will live in the fear of God.”
To call Her children to combat for God in the days of darkness and sin, the Mother of God concludes: “I address an urgent appeal to the earth: I summon the true disciples of God who lives and reigns in heaven; I summon the true imitators of Christ made man, the one true Saviour of men; I summon My children, My true devotees, those who have given themselves to Me so that I might lead them to My divine Son, those whom I carry, so to speak, in My arms, those who have lived according to My spirit; finally, I summon the Apostles of the Latter Times, the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who have lived in scorn of the world and of themselves, in poverty and in humility, in contempt and in silence, in prayer and in mortification, in chastity and in union with God, in suffering and unknown to the world. It is time for them to arise and come forth to enlighten the earth. “Go, and show yourselves as My cherished children; I am with you and in you, provided that your faith be the light that enlightens you in these days of woe. May your zeal cause you to be as famished for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ. Fight, children of light, you little number who see; for behold the time of times, the end of ends.”

Source: The Apparition of the Blessed Virgin on the Mountain of La Salette (Magnificat: St. Jovite, 1973).
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SAINT JANUARIUS Bishop of Beneventum, Martyr (†305)

Many centuries ago, Saint Januarius died for the Faith during the persecution of Diocletian. God, through the blood which His servant shed for Him, some of which is conserved in Naples, continues to strengthen the faith of the Church, and to work there a regular miracle by its means.

This beloved Saint of the late third century was the bishop of Beneventum, and had a friend, a deacon named Sosius, who like himself was occupied with fortifying the Christians faced with martyrdom. When the prefect of Pouzzoles, where Sosius had been imprisoned, heard that Januarius was coming to visit him and three other fervent Christians being held there, he had him arrested. He urged him to cease his exhortations, forbidden by the imperial edicts, and to offer incense to the idols, if he wanted to avoid torture. The holy bishop replied that he could not do so. He was submitted to torments, the first one of which left him miraculously uninjured. The judge attributed the miracle to magic, as was often said of the Christians whom God chose to spare. He ordered another torture which left the bishop lame, before he was sent to the same prison as the others.

When two ecclesiastics of Benevent came to visit the confessors, they were arrested and condemned to die with the other five in an amphitheater, by the teeth of wild beasts. The animals, furious when released into the space where the seven Confessors stood, came and quietly lay down at their feet, renewing a miracle seen more than once in the history of the first centuries. By this prodigy and other miracles which preceded their execution, five thousand persons were converted. The bishop and his companions were decapitated on September 19, 305. A church was built on a nearby mountain to honor the memory of Saint Januarius.

Little did the heathen governor think, when he condemned them, that he would be the instrument in God’s hand for ushering in a long succession of miracles which commemorate the faith and attest the sanctity of Januarius. His relics repose in the cathedral of Naples, and it is there that the liquefaction of his blood occurs. The blood is congealed in two glass vials, but when it is brought near the martyr’s head, it melts and flows like the blood of a living man. This ordinarily occurs on his feast day celebrated on September 17th in Naples, and on anniversaries of miracles attributed to him, which have preserved the city from eruptions of Mount Vesuvius or the plague. Some have tried to explain this miracle by natural causes, but none have ever contested the reality of the facts.

Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 11; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).
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St Therese of Lisieux, by Fr JA Hardon, SJ

Historical Setting
Unlike the great Catholic books of history, the Autobiography of St.Therese of Lisieux hardly has a historical setting that occasioned its publication or shaped its composition. Its author lived only twenty-four years, and nine of those were spent in the obscurity of a Carmelite cloister. Yet there is a deep sense in which we can speak of the historical circumstances in which the book was written. Two French writers, who were contemporaries of St.Therese, give us some insight into the devastating ideas that began to plague Christianity in her day. Ernest Renan, the ex-seminarian of Brittany, repudiated the divinity of Christ, portrayed Him as a charming Galilean preacher, and denied that He had ever worked any miracles. Alfred Loisy, a priest from Lorraine, denied that Christ ever founded a Church or instituted any of the sacraments. No contrast could be more startling than to compare, for example, Renan's Life of Jesus or Loisy's Gospel and the Church, with the Autobiography of St. Therese. She is writing in a spirit of deep faith, especially faith in the Divinity of Christ, Time and again she speaks to Jesus, as "My God"; whereas Renan and Loisy abandoned the faith they once had, and then studiously contradicted what they had formerly believed. What should be emphasized, however, is that St.Therese's faith was severely tested. An essential part of her sanctity, therefore, was her courageous profession of faith in spite of the serious temptations against the faith that God allowed her to experience. The latest publication of Therese's sayings reveals this side of her life which many commentators have overlooked. She was not only plagued with trials about the faith, but she saw the sufferings that God sent her as a providential means of obtaining or restoring faith for unbelievers. "I offer up," she confided to her superior, "these very great pains to obtain the light of faith for poor unbelievers, for all those who separate themselves from the Church's beliefs." Keeping this in mind will give an entirely new dimension to St.Therese's practice of spiritual childhood. She was an extraordinarily gifted person, with a penetrating intellect. Yet she believed and grew in the faith almost because her faith was so sorely tried by the Lord.

Our Spiritual Focus
From the library of literature on the Little Flower, there are five chapters in her autobiography that give us the core of her spirituality.
1. "Towards the Heart of Charity" may be called a personal commentary on the meaning and practice of supernatural love. The author brings out the sobering lesson that our love for God must be shown in deeds. Moreover, the normal and constant opportunity for loving God comes from the cheerful patience we show to the sometimes difficult persons that God puts into our lives.
2. "Therese as Novice-Mistress" brings out one aspect of God's providence that we are liable to overlook. As the directress of novices, she learned how differently God dispenses His grace to different souls. It not for us to ask the reason why. After all, He is Master of His gifts, which He distributes to whom and as much us He wills.
3. "On Prayer" reveals the lack of sensible consolation that Therese experienced for long periods of time. It also shows us something about her that many believers can identify in their own lives. "It's a terrible thing to admit," she confessed, "but saying the Rosary takes it out of me more than any hair shirt ... Try as I will, I cannot meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary. I just cannot fix my mind on them."
4. "Therese and her Brothers on the Mission" gives some explanation of why she was declared patroness of the missions, along with St. Francis Xavier. She recognized that "prayers and sacrifices ... are the best help one can give to missionaries." It was on this basis that the Second Vatican Council made a surprising statement. "Institutes of the contemplative life, by their prayers, penances and trials, are of the greatest importance in the conversion of souls, since it is in answer to prayer that God sends workers into His harvest, opens the minds of non-Christians to hear the Gospel, and makes fruitful the word of salvation in their hearts" (Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity, no. 40).
5. "Her Apostolate of Prayer" provides a simple explanation of a profound truth, that prayer is the most powerful means we have for bringing souls to God. The final reason is hidden in the mystery of the Trinity. But we get some understanding of what this means from the comparison of prayer with a fulcrum. Therese quotes Archimedes as saying, "Give me a lever and a fulcrum,""and I'll shift the world." She went on to explain that "the saints have really enjoyed the privilege he asked for; the fulcrum God told them to use was Himself, nothing less than Himself, and the lever was prayer."
This year is the centennial of the death of St. Therese of Lisieux. It comes almost on the eve of the twenty-first century. We can safely say that never before in Christian history has there been more need for an unhappy world, intoxicated with self-love, to learn from her that the only true happiness comes from surrendering one's heart to the Heart of God.

Father Hardon, S.J. is the Executive Editor of The Catholic Faith magazine.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

In today's reading we have excellent reminder of what charity really means; in very simple words, we are being charitable towards others by forgetting real and often imaginative injuries and not counting them, by wishing well and praying for both friends and enemies and rejoicing at their good fortunes and spiritual progress. We do not know what is in other people hearts, and because of this we should always try to find charitable explanation for other's actions, even if they hurt us - remembering that Our Lord prayed on the Cross for His enemies.

Daily Reading
1 Cor. 13:1-8.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should
deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil: Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth: Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void or tongues shall cease or knowledge shall be destroyed.

Mt 22:1-14.
And Jesus answering, spoke again in parables to them, saying:
The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king who made a marriage for his son. And he sent his servants to call them that were invited to the marriage: and they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my beeves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Come ye to the marriage. But they neglected and went their ways, one to his farm and another to his merchandise. And the rest laid hands on his servants and, having treated them contumeliously, put them to death. But when the king had heard of it, he was angry: and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers and burnt their city. Then he saith to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready; but they that were invited were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways; and as many as you shall find, call to the marriage. And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good: and the marriage was filled with guests. And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment? But he was silent. Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.

after Per Ipsum, link on this page
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