Friday, November 30, 2007

Avoiding superfluity of words

1. Fly the tumult of men as much as thou canst; for treating of wordly affairs hinders very much although they be discoursed of with a simple intention. For we are quickly defiled and ensnared with vanity. I wish I had oftener been silent and that I had not been in company. But why are we so willing to talk and discourse with one another, since we seldom return to silence without prejudice to our conscience. The reason why we are so willing to talk is, because by discoursing together we seek comfort from one another; and would gladly ease the heart, wearied by various thoughts. And we very willingly talk and think of such things as we must love and desire, or which we imagine contrary to us.

2. But, alas! it is often in vain and to no purpose: for this outward consolation is no small hindrance to interior and divine comfort. Therefore, we must watch and pray -Matt. 26:41,
- that our time may not pass away without fruit. If it be lawful and expedient to speak, speak those things which may edify. A bad custom, and the neglect of our spiritual advancement, are a great cause of our keeping so little guard upon our mouth. But devout conferences concerning spiritual things help very much to spiritual progress, especially where persons of the same mind and spirit are associated together in God.

After 'Imitation of Christ' the favoured spiritual book of St Therese
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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Acquiring Peace and Zeal for Our Spiritual Progress

1. We might have much peace if we would not busy ourselves with the sayings and doings of others and with things which belongs not to us. How can he remain long in peace who entangles himself with other's peoples cares, who seeks occasons abroad, and who is little or seldom inwardly recollected? Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace.

2. What was the reason why some of the saints were so perfect and contemplative? Because they made it their study wholly to mortify in themselves all their earthly desires; and thus they were enabled, with every fibre of the heart, to cleave to God, and freely to attend to themselves. We are too much taken up with our own passions, and too solicitous about transitory things. And seldom do we perfectly overcome so much as one vice nor are we earnestly bent upon our daily progress; and therefore we remain cold and tepid.

3. If we were perfectly dead to ourselves, and in no way entangled in our interior, then might we be able to relish things divine and experience something of heavenly contemplation. The whole and greatest hindrance is, that we are not free from passions and lusts; and strive not to walk in the perfect way of the saints. And when we meet with any small adversity we are too quickly dejected and turn away to seek after human consolation.

4. If we strove like valiant men to stand up in the battle, doubtless we should see our Lord help us from heaven. For He is ready to help them that fight and trust in His grace: Who furnishes us with occasions of combat that we may overcome. If we place our progress in religion in these outward observances only our devotion will quickly be at the end. But let us lay the axe to the root that, being purged from passions, we may possess a quiet mind.

5. If every year we rooted out one vice we should soon become perfect men. But now we often find it quite otherwise: that we were better and more pure in the beginning of our conversion than after many years of our profession. Our fervour and progress ought to be every day greater, but now it is esteemed a great matter if a man can retain some part of his first fervour. If we would use but a little violence upon ourselves in the beginning, we might afterwards do all things with ease and joy.

6. It is hard to leave off our old customs; but harder to go against our own will. But if thou dost not overcome things that are small and light when wilt thou overcome greater difficulties? Resist thy inclination in the beginning, and break off thy evil habit, lest perhaps by little and little the difficulty increase upon thee. Oh, if thou wert sensible how much peace thou wouldst procure to thyself and joy to others; by behaving thyself well thou wouldst be more solicitous for thy spiritual progress.
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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Utility of Adversity

1. It is good for us to have sometimes troubles and adversities: for they make a man enter into himself, that he may know that he is in a state of banishment, and may not place his hopes in anything of this world. It is good that we sometimes suffer contradictions and that men have an evil or imperfect opinion of us when we do and intend well. These things are often helps to humility and defend us from vainglory. For then we better run to God, our inward witness, when outwardly we are despised by men and little credit is given to us.

2. Therefore should a man so establish himself in God as to have no need of seeking many comforts from men. When a man of good will is troubled, or tempted, or afflicted with evil thoughts, then he better understands what need he has of God, "without whom he finds he can do no good" - John 15:5 Then also he laments, he sights, and prays, by reason of the miseries which he suffers. Then he is weary of living longer, and he wishes death to come that he may be "dissolved and be with Christ" - Phil 1:23. Then also he will perceive that perfect security and full cannot be found in this world.

After Thomas a Kempis "Imitation of Christ"
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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

From Reading for this day, a beautiful reminder what is to be a good Catholic - excellent for daily reflection. This fragment also can be used as a nice petition prayer.

Coloss. 1:9-14

Therefore we also, from the day that we heard it, cease not to pray for you and to beg that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding: That you may walk worthy of God, in all things pleasing; being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God: Strengthened with all might according to the power of his glory, in all patience and longsuffering with joy, Giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins:

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Resisting Temptations.

1. As long as we live in this world we cannot be without tribulation and temptation. Hence it is written in Job: "The life of man upon earth is a temptation" - Job 7:1. Therefore ought everyone to be solicitous about his temptations, and to watch in prayer, lest the devil, who never sleeps, but "goeth about seeking whom he may devour" - 1 Peter 5:8. No man is so perfect and holy as not to have sometimes temptations; and we cannot be wholly without them.

2. Yet temptations are often very profitable to a man although they be troublesome and grievous: for in them a man is humbled, purified, and instructed. All the saints have passed through many tribulations and temptations and have profited by them; and they who could not support temptations have became reprobates and fallen away. There is no order so holy, nor place so retired, where there are not temptations and adversities.

3. A man is never entirely secure from temptations as long as he lives; because we have within us the source of temptation, having been born in concupiscence. When one temptation or tribulation is over another comes on; and we shall have always something to suffer, because we have lost the good of our original happiness. Many seek to fly temptations and fall more grievously into them. By flight alone we cannot overcome; but by patience and true humility we are made stronger than our enemies. He who only declines them outwardly and does not pluck out the root will profit little; nay, temptations will sooner return to him, and he will find himself in a worse condition. By degrees, and by patience, with longanimity, thou shalt by God's grace better overcome them than by harshness and thine own importunity. In temptation often take counsel, and deal not roughly with one that is tempted; but comfort him as thou wouldst wish to be done to thyself.

Taken form Book One - Useful Admonishes for a Spiritual Life
of "My Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis. Revised translation edited by Confraternity of the Precious Blood, Imprimatur Thomas Edmundus Molloy, Archbishop of Brooklyn, 1954
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Saturday, November 24, 2007

SAINT JOHN of the CROSS - Doctor of the Church (1542-1591)

Spiritual Bouquet: My just man lives by faith. Heb. 10:38

Saint John of the Cross was born near Avila in Spain. As a child, he was playing near a pond one day. He slid into the depths of the water, but came up unharmed and did not sink again. A tall and beautiful Lady came to offer him Her hand. “No,” said the child, “You are too beautiful; my hand will dirty Yours.” Then an elderly gentleman appeared on the shore and extended his staff to the child to bring him to shore. These two were Mary and Joseph. Another time he fell into a well, and it was expected he would be retrieved lifeless. But he was seated and waiting peacefully. “A beautiful lady,” he said, “took me into Her cloak and sheltered me.” Thus John grew up under the gaze of Mary. One day he was praying to Our Lord to make known his vocation to him, and an interior voice said to him: “You will enter a religious Order, whose primitive fervor you will restore.” He was twenty-one years old when he entered Carmel, and although he concealed his exceptional works, he outshone all his brethren. He dwelt in an obscure corner whose window opened upon the chapel, opposite the Most Blessed Sacrament. He wore around his waist an iron chain full of sharp points, and over it a tight vestment made of reeds joined by large knots. His disciplines were so cruel that his blood flowed in abundance. The priesthood only redoubled his desire for perfection. He thought of going to bury his existence in the Carthusian solitude, when Saint Teresa, whom God enlightened as to his merit, made him the confidant of her projects for the reform of Carmel and asked him to be her auxiliary. John retired alone to a poor and inadequate dwelling and began a new kind of life, conformed with the primitive Rules of the Order of Carmel. Shortly afterwards two companions came to join him; the reform was founded. It was not without storms that it developed, for hell seemed to rage and labor against it, and if the people venerated John as a Saint, he had to accept, from those who should have seconded him, incredible persecutions, insults, calumnies, and even prison. When Our Lord told him He was pleased with him, and asked him what reward he wished, the humble religious replied: “To suffer and to be scorned for You.” His reform, though approved by the General of the Order, was rejected by the older friars, who condemned the Saint as a fugitive and an apostate and cast him into prison, from which he only escaped, after nine months’ suffering, with the help of Heaven and at the risk of his life. He took refuge with the Carmelite nuns for a time, saying his experience in prison had been an extraordinary grace for him. Twice again, before his death, he was shamefully persecuted by his brethren, and publicly disgraced. When he fell ill, he was given a choice of monasteries to which he might go; he chose the one governed by a religious whom he had once reprimanded and who could never pardon him for it. In effect, he was left untended most of the time, during his last illness. But at his death the room was filled with a marvelous light, and his unhappy Prior recognized his error, and that he had mistreated a Saint. After a first exhumation of his remains, they were found intact; many others followed, the last one in 1955. The body was at that time found to be entirely moist and flexible still. Saint John wrote spiritual books of sublime elevation. A book printed in 1923 which has now become famous, authored by a Dominican theologian*, justly attributed to Saint John and to Saint Thomas Aquinas, whom the Carmelite Saint followed, the indisputable foundations for exact ascetic and mystical theology. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1926 by Pope Pius XI.

*Rev. Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., Perfection chrétienne et contemplation, selon S. Thomas d’Aquin et S. Jean de la Croix (Éditions de la vie spirituelle: Saint-Maximin, 1923).
Source: Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).


The picture is of the statue of St. John of the Cross in the Discalced Carmelite Convent Church in Lisieux
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In the reading today, St Paul reminds us how important it is to live lives worthy of Christ and be good example to others in the world. This is very important, for many people convert to Catholic faith being impressed by exemplary charity of good Catholics. Let us remember always the words of Christ from today's Gospel reading as encouragement and warning: "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing anymore but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men". St Paul warns us also to resist false teaching and heresy. Very edifying text for daily meditation.

2 Tim 4:1-8
I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming and his kingdom: Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist,
fulfil thy ministry. Be sober. For I am even now ready to be sacrificed: and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight: I have finished my course: I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming. Make haste to come to me quickly.

Mt 5:13-19
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing anymore but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

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Saturday - Day of Our Lady

Queen of the Holy Rosary, Pray for us!

The 'Queen of the Holy Rosary' title is our consoling reminder what the Mother of God is to us, how close she is to her devout clients. Praying Rosary is to meditate on the life of Our Lady - how she shared the joys and sufferings of Jesus, we ponder on her good works that made her worthy of the heavenly glory. The Rosary prayers are the Jacob's ladder leading us up to heaven via fifteen mystery steps. Our devotion to the Holy Rosary makes Our Lady particularly happy. The Angelic Salutation - 'Hail Mary' - which was the beginning of her heavenly happiness is so pleasing to her that according to St Bernardine of Siena, every time we greet her this way she in turn greets us from heaven. The Holy Rosary is also wonderful way to express our gratitude to the Mother of God and in itself it is a great and effective ejaculatory prayer. The Church, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, assures us that praying the Holy Rosary is particularly pleasing to Our Lady and is the quick and easy way to obtain God's mercy that brings salvation and help in every need to every faithful person in the world. Let us remember that Saints were very devout to the Queen of the Holy Rosary. Let us live our lives with blessed Rosary beads in our pockets – the blessing of the beads brings blessing and protection to the Rosary owner. For a busy person, even single Rosary decade prayed devoutly in honour of the Queen of Heaven is sufficient to please her and can bring us every spiritual help, in particular in the last hour. Our Blessed Mother tells us: Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord: But he that shall sin against me, shall hurt his own soul. All that hate me love death (Prov. 8:34-36).
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Friday, November 23, 2007

Of the benefits which the soul receives from not setting its rejoicing upon the good things of nature.

MANY are the benefits which come to the soul through the withdrawal of its heart from this rejoicing; for, besides preparing itself for the love of God and the other virtues, it makes a direct way for its own humility, and for a general charity toward its neighbours. For, as it is not led by the apparent good things of nature, which are deceitful, into affection for anyone, the soul remains free and able to love them all rationally and spiritually, as God wills them to be loved. Here it must be understood that none deserves to be loved, save for the virtue that is in him. And, when we love in this way, it is very pleasing to the will of God, and also brings great freedom; and if there be attachment in it, there is greater attachment to God. For, in that case, the more this love grows, the more grows our love toward God; and, the more grows our love toward God, the greater becomes our love for our neighbour. For, when love is grounded in God, the reason for all love is one and the same and the cause of all love is one and the same also.
2. Another excellent benefit comes to the soul from its renunciation of this kind of rejoicing, which is that it fulfils and keeps the counsel of Our Saviour which He gives us through Saint Matthew. 'Let him that will follow Me', He says, 'deny himself.' This the soul could in no wise do if it were to set its rejoicing upon the good things of nature; for he that makes any account of himself neither denies himself nor follows Christ.
3. There is another great benefit in the renunciation of this kind of rejoicing, which is that it produces great tranquillity in the soul, empties it of distractions and brings recollection to the senses, especially to the eyes. For the soul that desires not to rejoice in these things desires neither to look at them nor to attach the other senses to them, lest it should be attracted or entangled by them. Nor will it spend time or thought upon them, being like the prudent serpent, which stops its ears that it may not hear the charmers lest they make some impression upon it. For, by guarding its doors, which are the senses, the soul guards itself safely and increases its tranquillity and purity.
4. There is another benefit of no less importance to those that have become proficient in the mortification of this kind of rejoicing, which is that evil things and the knowledge of them neither make an impression upon them nor stain them as they do those to whom they still give any delight. Wherefore the renunciation and mortification of this rejoicing result in spiritual cleanness of soul and body; that is, of spirit and sense; and the soul comes to have an angelical conformity with God, and becomes, both in spirit and in body, a worthy temple of the Holy Spirit. This cannot come to pass if the heart rejoices in natural graces and good things. For this reason it is not necessary to have given consent to any evil thing, or to have remembrance of such; for that rejoicing suffices to stain the soul and the senses with impurity by means of the knowledge of evil; for, as the Wise Man says, the Holy Spirit will remove Himself from thoughts that are without understanding -- that is, without the higher reason that has respect to God.
5. Another benefit of a general kind follows, which is that, besides freeing ourselves from the evils and dangers aforementioned, we are delivered also from countless vanities, and from many other evils, both spiritual and temporal; and especially from falling into the small esteem in which are held all those that are seen to glory or rejoice in the said natural gifts, whether in their own or in those of others. And thus these souls are held and esteemed as wise and prudent, as indeed are all those who take no account of these things, but only of that which pleases God.
6. From these said benefits follows the last, which is a generosity of the soul, as necessary to the service of God as is liberty of spirit, whereby temptations are easily vanquished and trials faithfully endured, and whereby, too, the virtues grow and become prosperous.

Chapter 23 "Ascent of Mount Carmel"
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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Of the evils which come to the soul when it sets the rejoicing of its will upon the good things of nature.

ALTHOUGH many of these evils and benefits that I am describing in treating of these kinds of joy are common to all, yet, because they follow directly from joy and detachment from joy (although comprised under any one of these six divisions which I am treating), therefore I speak under each heading of some evils and benefits which are also found under another, since these, as I say, are connected with that joy which belongs to them all. But my principal intent is to speak of the particular evils and benefits which come to the soul, with respect to each thing, through its rejoicing or not rejoicing in it. These I call particular evils, because they are primarily and immediately caused by one particular kind of rejoicing, and are not, save in a secondary and mediate sense, caused by another. The evil of spiritual lukewarmness, for example, is caused directly by any and every kind of joy, and this evil is therefore common to all these six kinds; but fornication is a particular evil, which is the direct result only of joy in the good things of nature of which we are speaking.
2. The spiritual and bodily evils, then, which directly and effectively come to the soul when it sets its rejoicing on the good things of nature are reduced to six principal evils. The first is vainglory, presumption, pride and disesteem of our neighbour; for a man cannot cast eyes of esteem on one thing without taking them from the rest. From this follows, at the least, a real disesteem for everything else; for naturally, by setting our esteem on one thing, we withdraw our heart from all things else and set it upon the thing esteemed; and from this real contempt it is very easy to fall into an intentional and voluntary contempt for all these other things, in particular or in general, not only in the heart, but also in speech, when we say that such a thing or such a person is not like such another. The second evil is the moving of the senses to complacency and sensual delight and lust. The third evil comes from falling into adulation and vain praise, wherein is deception and vanity, as Isaias says in these words: 'My people, he that praises thee deceives thee.' And the reason is that, although we sometimes speak the truth when we praise grace and beauty, yet it will be a marvel if there is not some evil enwrapped therein or if the person praised is not plunged into vain complacency and rejoicing, or his imperfect intentions and affections are not directed thereto. The fourth evil is of a general kind: it is a serious blunting of the reason and the spiritual sense, such as is effected by rejoicing in temporal good things. In one way, indeed, it is much worse. For as the good things of nature are more closely connected with man than are temporal good things, the joy which they give leaves an impression and effect and trace upon the senses more readily and more effectively, and deadens them more completely. And thus reason and judgment are not free, but are clouded with that affection of joy which is very closely connected with them; and from this arises the fifth evil, which is distraction of the mind by created things. And hence arise and follow lukewarmness and weakness of spirit, which is the sixth evil, and is likewise of a general kind; this is apt to reach such a pitch that a man may find the things of God very tedious and troublesome, and at last even come to abhor them. In this rejoicing purity of spirit is invariably lost -- at least, in its essence. For, if any spirituality is discerned, it will be of such a gross and sensual kind as to be hardly spiritual or interior or recollected at all, since it will consist rather in pleasure of sense than in strength of spirit. Since, then, the spirituality of the soul is of so low and weak a character at that time as not to quench the habit of this rejoicing (for this habit alone suffices to destroy pure spirituality, even when the soul is not consenting to the acts of rejoicing), the soul must be living, so to say, in the weakness of sense rather than in the strength of the spirit. Otherwise, it will be seen in the perfection and fortitude which the soul will have when the occasion demands it. Although I do not deny that many virtues may exist together with serious imperfections, no pure or delectable inward spirituality can exist while these joys are not quenched; for the flesh reigns within, warring against the spirit, and, although the spirit may be unconscious of the evil, yet at the least it causes it secret distraction.
3. Returning now to speak of that second evil, which contains within itself innumerable other evils, it is impossible to describe with the pen or to express in words the lengths to which it can go, but this is not unknown or secret, nor is the extent of the misery that arises from the setting of our rejoicing on natural beauty and graces. For every day we hear of its causing numerous deaths, the loss by many of their honour, the commission of many insults, the dissipation of much wealth, numerous cases of emulation and strife, of adultery, rape and fornication, and of the fall of many holy men, comparable in number to that third part of the stars of Heaven which was swept down by the tail of the serpent on earth. The fine gold has lost its brilliance and lustre and is become mire; and the notable and noble men of Sion, who were clothed in finest gold, are counted as earthen pitchers that are broken and have become potsherds. How far does the poison of this evil not penetrate?
4. And who drinks not, either little or much, from this golden chalice of the Babylonian woman of the Apocalypse? She seats herself on that great beast, that had seven heads and ten crowns, signifying that there is scarce any man, whether high or low, saint or sinner, who comes not to drink of her wine, to some extent enslaving his heart thereby, for, as is said of her in that place, all the kings of the earth have become drunken with the wine of her prostitution. And she seizes upon all estates of men, even upon the highest and noblest estate -- the service of the sanctuary and the Divine priesthood -- setting her abominable cup, as Daniel says, in the holy place, and leaving scarcely a single strong man without making him to drink, either little or much, from the wine of this chalice, which is vain rejoicing. For this reason it is said that all the kings of the earth have become drunken with this wine, for very few will be found, however holy they may have been, that have not been to some extent stupefied and bewildered by this draught of the joy and pleasure of natural graces and beauty.
5. This phrase 'have become drunken' should be noted. For, however little a man may drink of the wine of this rejoicing, it at once takes hold upon the heart, and stupefies it and works the evil of darkening the reason, as does wine to those who have been corrupted by it. So that, if some antidote be not at once taken against this poison, whereby it may be quickly expelled, the life of the soul is endangered. Its spiritual weakness will increase, bringing it to such a pass that it will be like Samson, when his eyes were put out and the hair of his first strength was cut off, and like Samson it will see itself grinding in the mills, a captive among its enemies; and afterwards, peradventure, it will die the second death among its enemies, even as did he, since the drinking of this rejoicing will produce in them spiritually all those evils that were produced in him physically, and does in fact produce them in many persons to this day. Let his enemies come and say to him afterwards, to his great confusion: Art thou he that broke the knotted cords, that tore asunder the lions, slew the thousand Philistines, broke down the gates and freed himself from all his enemies?
6. Let us conclude, then, by giving the instruction necessary to counteract this poison. And let it be this: As soon as thy heart feels moved by this vain joy in the good things of nature, let it remember how vain a thing it is to rejoice in aught save the service of God, how perilous and how pernicious. Let it consider how great an evil it was for the angels to rejoice and take pleasure in their natural endowments and beauty, since it was this that plunged them into the depths of shame. Let them think, too, how many evils come to men daily through this same vanity, and let them therefore resolve in good time to employ the remedy which the poet commends to those who begin to grow affectioned to such things. 'Make haste now,' he says, 'and use the remedy at the beginning; for when evil things have had time to grow in the heart, remedy and medicine come late.' Look not upon the wine, as the Wise Man says, when its colour is red and when it shines in the glass; it enters pleasantly and bites like a viper and sheds abroad poison like a basilisk.

fragments from chapter 22 St John of the Cross "Ascent of Mount Carmel"
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Tuesday, November 20, 2007


If you wish to escape from Satan in religion, you must give heed to three things, without which you cannot be in safety from his cunning. In the first place I would have you take this general advice, which you should never forget, namely, that it is the ordinary practice of Satan to deceive those who are going on to perfection by an appearance of good: he does not tempt them by what seems to be evil. He knows that they will scarcely regard that which they know to be wrong. You must therefore continually distrust what seems to be good, and especially when obedience does not intervene. The remedy here is the direction of one whom you ought to consult. Let this then be the first precaution.

Never set about anything, however good or charitable it may seem, either to yourself or to any other, whether in the community or out of it, except under obedience, unless you are bound to do it by the rule of your order. If you do this you will acquire merit, and be in security. You will be safe against yourself and against evil; you will also avoid evils of which you are ignorant, and of which God will require an account one day. If you do not observe this in little things as well as in great, notwithstanding your apparent progress, Satan will most certainly deceive you little or much. Even if your whole error consist in your not being guided in everything by obedience, you are plainly wrong, because God wills obedience rather than sacrifice (1 Kings 15:22), and the actions of a religious are not his own, but those of obedience, and if he withdraws them from the control of obedience, he will have to give account of them as lost.

The second precaution is a very necessary one, because the devil interferes exceedingly in the matter to which it refers. The observance of it will bring great gain and profit, and the neglect great loss and ruin. Never look upon your superiors, be they who they may, otherwise than if you were looking upon God, because they stand in His place. Keep a careful watch upon yourself in this matter, and do not reflect upon the character, ways or conversations or habits of your superior. If you do, you will injure yourself, and you will change your obedience from divine into human, and you will be influenced by what you see in your superior, and not by the invisible God Whom you should obey in that person. Your obedience will be in vain, or the more barren the more you are troubled by the untowardness, or the more you are pleased by the favour, of your superior. I tell you that a great many religious in the way of perfection are ruined by not looking upon their superiors as they ought; their obedience is almost worthless in the eyes of God, because influenced by human considerations. Unless you force yourself therefore to be indifferent as to who your superior may be, so far as your private feelings go, you will never be spiritual, neither will you faithfully observe your vows.

The third precaution against Satan is this: strive with all your heart after humility in thought, word and deed, taking more pleasure in others than in yourself, giving way in every thing to others, and doing so as far as you can from a sincere heart. In this way you will overcome evil with good, drive the devil away, and have joy in your heart. Deal thus with those who are less agreeable to you; for be assured, if you do not, you will never have true charity nor make progress in it. Be always more ready to receive instruction from any one than to give it, even to the least of your fellow brethren and sisters.

If you wish to be delivered from the uneasiness and imperfections of which the habits and conversation of the religious may be the occasion, and profit by everything that may happen, you must keep in mind that you entered the community to be mortified and tried, and that all those in authority in it are there, as in truth they are, for that purpose. Some have to mortify you by words, others by deeds, and others by what they think of you; in all this you are to submit yourself, unresisting as a statue to the polisher, the painter and the gilder of it. If you do not, you will never be able to live as you ought with the religious in the monastery; you will not attain to holy peace, nor will you escape from much evil.

Never omit any practices, if they are such as befit you, because they are disagreeable; neither observe them because they are pleasant, unless they be as necessary as those which are not agreeable. Otherwise you will find it impossible to acquire firmness, and conquer your weakness.

In all your spiritual exercises never set your eyes upon the sweetness of them and cling to it, but rather on that in them which is unpleasant and troublesome, and accept it. If you do, you will never destroy self-love, nor acquire the love of God.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

In today's reading we have beautiful and meaningful reminder what does it mean to be a good wife in God's eyes. We can also meditate on the Kingdom of God which is in the hearts of the faithful and on the value of true happiness which is finding God hidden in the soul.

Prov. 31:10-31
Who shall find a valiant woman? far, and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her. The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and he shall have no need of spoils. She will render him good, and not evil all the days of her life. She hath sought wool and flax, and hath wrought by the counsel of her hands. She is like the merchant's ship, she bringeth her bread from afar. And she hath risen in the night, and given a prey to her household, and victuals to her maidens.
She hath considered a field, and bought it: with the fruit of her hands she hath planted a vineyard. She hath girded her loins with strength, and hath strengthened her arm. She hath tasted, and seen that her traffic is good: her lamp shall not be put out in the night. She hath put out her hand to strong things, and her fingers have taken hold of the spindle. She hath opened her hand to the needy, and stretched out her hands to the poor. She shall not fear for her house in the cold of snow: for all her domestics are clothed with double garments. She hath made for herself clothing of tapestry: fine linen, and purple, is her covering. Her husband is honourable in the gates, when he sitteth among the senators of the land. She made fine linen, and sold it, and delivered a girdle to the Chanaanite. Strength and beauty are her clothing, and she shall laugh in the latter day. She hath opened her mouth to wisdom, and the law of clemency is on her tongue. She hath looked well on the paths of her house, and hath not eaten her bread idle. Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her. Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands: and let her works praise her in the gates.

Mt 13:44-52.
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in a field. Which a man having found, hid it, and for joy thereof goeth, and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant seeking good pearls. Who when he had found one pearl of great price, went his way, and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a net cast into the sea, and gathering together of all kinds of fishes. Which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting by the shore, they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad they cast forth. So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have ye understood all these things? They say to him: Yes. He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old.
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If any religious desires to attain in a short time to holy recollection, spiritual silence, detachment and poverty of spirit-where the peaceful rest of the spirit is enjoyed, and union with God attained; if he desires to be delivered from all the hindrances which created things put in his way, to be defended against all the wiles and illusions of Satan, and to be protected against himself, he must strictly practise the following instructions. If he will do this, with ordinary attention, without other efforts or other practices, at the same time carefully observing the obligations of his state, he will advance rapidly to great perfection, acquire all virtue and attain unto holy peace. All the evils to which the soul is subject proceed from the three enemies already mentioned: the world, the devil and the flesh. If we can hide ourselves from these we shall have no combats to fight. The world is less difficult, and the devil more difficult, to understand; but the flesh is the most obstinate of all, and the last to be overcome together with the 'old man'. If we do not conquer the three, we shall never perfectly conquer one; and if we conquer one, we shall also conquer the others in the same proportion. In order to escape perfectly from the evils which the world inflicts, there are three things to be observed.

The first is, preserve an equal love and an equal forgetfulness of all persons whether relatives or not; withdraw your affections from the former as well as from the latter, yea rather more more from the former, on account of the ties of blood, for the natural affections which people feel for their kindred always subsists. You must mortify this affection if you are to attain to spiritual perfection. Look upon your kindred as strangers, and you will thereby the more completely discharge your duty to them; for by not withdrawing your heart from God on their account, you will fulfil your duties towards them better by not giving to them those affections which are due unto God. Do not love one person more than another, for if you do you will fall into error. He whom God loves most is the most worthy of love, and you do not know who he is. But if you strive to forget all people alike-as holy recollection requires you to do-you will escape all error, whether great or small. Do not think about them; have nothing to say to them either good or bad. Avoid them as much as you possibly can. If you do not observe this, as things go, you will never become a good religious, you will never attain to holy recollection, nor will you get rid of your imperfections. If you will indulge yourself here, Satan will in some way or other delude you, or you will delude yourself under the pretence of good or evil. If you will observe this direction you will be safe; and in no other way can you get rid of imperfections and escape the evils which result to your soul from intercourse with others.

The second precaution against the world relates to temporal goods. If you desire in earnest to escape the evils which worldly goods occasion and restrain your excessive desires, you must hold all personal possession in abhorrence, and cast from you every thought about it. You must not be solicitous about what you eat or drink or wear, or about any created thing whatever: you must not be 'solicitous for tomorrow', but occupy yourself with higher things-with the Kingdom of God, that is fidelity to Him-for all these things, as our Lord says in the Gospel, 'shall be added unto you' (Matthew 6:33). He who takes care of the beasts of the field will not forget you. If you do this you will attain to silence, and have peace in your senses.

The third precaution is most necessary, that you may avoid all evil in your relation with the other religious of the community. Many person from not heeding this have not only lost their peace of mind, but have fallen and fall daily, into great disorders and sin. Be especially careful never to let your mind dwell upon, still less your tongue to speak of, what is passing in the community, its past or present state. Do not speak to any religious in particular, do not discuss their condition or their conversation, or their actions, however grave, either under the cloak of zeal, or of remedying what seems amiss, except only to the one who of right should be spoken to, and then at the fitting time. If you lived among the angels and gave heed to what was going on many things would seem to you not to be good, because you do not understand them. Take warning from the example of Lot's wife who, because she was disturbed at the destruction of Sodom, turned back to look at it. God punished her for this, and she was 'turned into a pillar of salt' (Genesis 19:26). This teaches you that it is the will of God, even if you were living among devils, you should so live as not to turn back in thought to consider what they are doing, but forget them utterly. You are to keep your soul wholly to God, and not to suffer the thought of this or that to disturb you.

Be sure of this, there is no lack of stumbling blocks in religious houses, because there is no lack of devils who are labouring to throw down the saints. God permits this in order to try them and to prove them, and if you are not on your guard, you will never become a religious, do what you may, neither will you attain to holy detachment and recollection, or avoid loss. If you live otherwise, in spite of your zeal and good intentions, Satan will lay hold of you in one way or another, and indeed you are already sufficiently in his power, when your soul is allowed such distractions as these. Remember those words of the apostle St James, 'If any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, this man's religion is vain'. This is applicable to the interior, quite as much as to the exterior, tongue-to thoughts as well as words.
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Sunday, November 18, 2007


"And Pilate asked him: Art thou the king of the Jews? But he answering, saith to him: Thou sayest it" (Mark 15:2).

If, as had been said by respected Catholic historians, the thirteenth century was the greatest of the centuries in the history of the Church and of the Reign of Christ the King, it nevertheless was, at its conclusion, the time when the process of decay began. This process has continued ever since. Men's public and national acknowledgment of God's plan in the Creation and Redemption of mankind has progressively, and with increasing alacrity, faded into obsolescence, even into virulent rejection. This sad process has been, from time to time, dramatically hastened by various events that can be recognized as significant phases of this process of decay in that they summarize all their insidious antecedents. One of the more recent events of this tragic process was the emergence of Freemasonry with its duplicitous shibboleth: "libert, egalite, fraternite." It seduced the "Eldest daughter of the Church" to trade her allegiance to Christ the King for the chains of Satan and his terrorists. The French Revolution planned and implemented by Freemasons brought about this dramatic and radical transformation between 1789 and 1791. Masonic Lodges were soon established in South America, and at the General Convention in Buenos Aires in 1906, it was resolved that, amongst other things, religious persecution should be begun and carried on zealously by every possible means. Mexico is a typical example of the rapidity with which the closing stages of disruption may be carried through. That Mexico was ripening for the Masonic harvest we learn from an article by A. Preuss, which appeared in the Fortnightly Review of 15th October, 1913. The distinguished writer, in describing the state of religion in Mexico, pointed out that the Indians had never lost the faith taught them by the first Spanish missionaries, but that, while the Mexican women were devout and pious, the men of the so-called educated classes were mostly Masons. He adds that the often assisted, on Sundays, at the spectacle of men accompanying women to the door of the church, but then lighting a cigar and sitting down outside the church until the end of Mass. Doubtless, he comments, it would be wrong to say that all men behave this way, but the number of those who do so is considerable. They are the "liberal" as opposed to the "fanatical Catholics." No wonder then that, when persecution came, so many women, but relatively few men, were found staunch. The triumph of Naturalism was celebrated by the solemn conferring of the medal for Masonic Merit on President Calles of Mexico by the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, while the American Masonic Review, Masonic Tidings, in its August (1926) issue, extolled in flattering terms of the same "strong character." The press of the world, after having made no attempt to inform its readers of the real causes of the events chronicled about Mexico, nor of the lengthy preparations for them, discreetly lets the curtain fall on yet another country from which Our Lord has been expelled. Father Miguel Agustin Pro, S.J. fell before a firing squad in Mexico City on November 23, 1927, accused of trumped up charges out of hatred for his zeal for Christ the DivineKing. His execution and death are known to be as follows: In Father Pro's case, President Plutarco Calles, the Masonic Communist, wanted the execution to be a "big show " and had instructed his underlings to invite representatives from all the government secretariats, the press and photographers. His intention was to show the Catholics as groveling cowards. Instead, the photos spoke eloquently of their heroism. After the execution, an attempt was made to recall the photographs, and possession of them was made a crime. But the damage had been done. The world had seen. Today the photos bear mute testimony to the bravery of the first martyr for Christ the King. At 10 am, Father Pro was led out of his narrow cell to execution. Carrying his small crucifix and his rosary, he walked steadily across the yard. At his request, Miguel asked to be allowed to pray. He knelt in front of the bullet-pocked walls and fervently prayed briefly. He kissed the crucifix and stood. Rejecting the traditional blindfold, Miguel stretched his arms out in the form of a cross and facing the firing squad said, "May God bless you. Lord, you know that I am innocent. With all my heart I forgive my enemies." As the firing squad took aim, Father Pro pronounced his last words. In a firm, clear voice, he exclaimed: "Viva Cristo Rey!" Long live Christ the King. The firing squad was shaken by Pro's unflinching heroism; the bullet wounded, but did not kill him. Then a soldier walked over and shot him at close range, killing him.

Although Calles had forbidden any public demonstration, the people acted in open defiance. Never had the city seen such an enormous turnout for a funeral. As the martyr's casket left the house, a spontaneous cry went up "Viva Cristo Rey!" Thousands thronged the streets and balconies, throwing flowers, praying the rosary and singing. It was a triumph, a glorious witness to the heroism of the martyr for Christ the King.

After "Fatima Findings" - a monthly bulletin of The Reparation Society of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

"Christ, King of Nations" - booklet from OLRL
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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday - Day of Our Lady


Addressing Our lady with this title, we praise her privilage to be chosen the Mother of God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Our Lady
"was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to the role of Jesus mother". "Full of grace" was therefore salutation of Archangel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation was - "full of grace". In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace. Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception tells us as was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1854: The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. The "splendor of an entirely unique holiness" by which Mary is "enriched from the first instant of her conception" comes wholly from Christ: she is "redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son". God the Father blessed Mary more than any other created person "in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" and chose her "in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love". The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God "the All-Holy" (Panagia), and celebrate her as "free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature". By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.

Let us pray that Our Lady conceive without sin will lead us to detest the sin! Let us call her every time are tempted:
"O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee"!

after Catechism of the Catholic Church-Vatican website

Picture is "Mary Immaculate" Cuzco School of Art
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Friday, November 16, 2007


St Paul reminds us we owe all to God and should give Him thanks and praise for every success and achievement in our lives. He also warns us against false teachers (heresy) that the Church can remain unblemished and chaste spouse of Christ (Matt 9:13, Apocalypse 21:2). In the Gospel Reading we have excellent parable to meditate on the value of good works.

2 Cor. 10:17-18, 11:1-2.
But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he who commendeth himself is approved: but he, whom God commendeth. Would to God you could bear with some little of my folly! But do bear with me. For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God. For I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

Mt 25:1-13.
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like to ten virgins, who taking their lamps went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride. And five of them were foolish and five wise. But the five foolish, having taken their lamps, did not take oil with them. But the wise took oil in their vessels with the lamps. And the bridegroom tarrying, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh. Go ye forth to meet him. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise: Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out. The wise answered, saying: Lest perhaps there be not enough for us and for you, go ye rather to them that sell and buy for yourselves. Now whilst they went to buy the bridegroom came: and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage. And the door was shut. But at last came also the other virgins, saying: Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answering said: Amen I say to you, I know you not. Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour.

Explanation of the Gospel reading after Haydock Commentary
Ten virgins. By these are signified all mankind. By the bridegroom, Christ; by the bride, the Church; by oil, grace and charity. (Witham) --- The kingdom of heaven is not unfrequently compared to the Church militant; which, as it is composed of both just and wicked, reprobate and elect, is deservedly compared to five wise and five foolish virgins: the wise constantly aspiring after their blessed country; the foolish, with all their fasts and austerities, wishing to procure nothing more than the empty esteem of men. (St. Gregory) --- Went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride; in the Greek, it is simply, before the bridegroom. The custom among the Jews was, that the bridegroom should go to fetch his spouse, and conduct her with solemnity to his house. (Bible de Vence) --- This was the conclusive ceremony, and done in the night-time. The young women of the vicinity, in order to do her honour, went to meet her with lighted lamps. Modern travellers inform us, that this custom still obtains with the eastern nations, particularly the Persians. Hence the Latin phrase, ducere uxorem, to marry.

But the wise took oil. Under this parable, we have the state of all Christians in their mortal pilgrimage justly delineated. The wise took oil in their lamps, the necessary qualifications of grace and charity, joined with divine faith, and an additional supply of oil in their vessels; i.e. they laid up in store for themselves a solid foundation of good works. St. Gregory teaches, that by the lamps, faith is meant; and by the light, good works. Hence he concludes that the bad, although they have lamps, i.e. faith, no less than the good, shall be excluded; because their lamps are out, i.e. their faith is dead, without charity and good works to enlighten them (Hom. 12) --- St. Augustine also declares, that these lighted lamps are good works, viz. works of mercy and good conversation, which shine forth before men (ep. 120, chap 23) --- And, that this oil is a right inward intention, directing all our works to the greater glory of God, and not to the praise of ourselves in the sight of men. (St. Augustine, ep. 120, chap 23) --- The foolish virgins had a little oil in their lamps at first, sufficient to shine before men, by some little external shew of piety, or certain works done through fear, profit, or human respects; but had made no provision of solid piety and charity, by means of which they might, like the prudent virgins, produce good works to salvation (Jansenius)
And while the bridegroom (Jesus Christ) tarried, i.e. delayed his coming, and thus protracted the time of repentance, they all slumbered and slept; viz. they all died. Hence St. Paul, nolo vos ignorare de dormientibus. But the reason why Jesus Christ says they slumbered is, because they were to rise again: and by the expression, whilst the bridegroom tarried, Christ wishes to shew us that a very short time will elapse between his first and second coming. (St. Jerome)
There was a cry. So shall we all have to rise again at the sound of the last trumpet, to meet our judge, either like the wise virgins, who having their oil ready, and their lamps trimmed and burning, soon prepare themselves to give in their accounts to their Lord; or, like the foolish, who having made no provision of the oil of good works, are compelled to seek it at the time they are to be judged. (St. Augustine) --- It is said he will come at midnight; i.e. when least expected.
For our lamps are gone out. Thus too many trusting to their faith alone, and leading a tepid indifference life, are negligent in preparing themselves by good works for the coming of the bridegroom. But when they perceived themselves called away from this life, to go and meet their judge, they then begin to find their lamps extinguished, and to think of procuring for themselves the oil of good works, by bequeathing their effects to the poor. Though we ought not to despair of the salvation of these, still there is great room to fear; for, a death-bed repentance is seldom sincere, more seldom, or never perfect, and always uncertain. (Jansenius)

Go you
rather to them that selle . The wise virgins do not there advise the foolish to go and buy, but upbraid them for the poor store of good works they have laid up. They had before only sought the praises of men in their good actions, and therefore are answered by the wise: "go now to those to whom you have given all your actions; go and see what their praises will avail, what peace of conscience they can give you: and, if they have praised you, and made you esteemed in the eyes of men, see if they can do the same before God." (St. Augustine)

And the door was shut. After the final day of judgment, there will be no room for prayers and good works. (St. Jerome) --- For, after having received those within its walls, who have put on in some degree the nature of the angels, the gate to the city of bliss is closed for ever. (St. Augustine)

Watch ye. St. Augustine asks, how can we be always watching, it being necessary for each one to give himself sufficient time to sleep and rest from his many labours? He answers the question in these words: We may always keep watching to our hearts by faith, hope, charity, and all other good works. But when we awake, like the five wise virgins, we must arise and trim our lamps, by supplying them with the oil of good works. Then they will not go out, nor will the soothing oil of a good conscience be wanting to us. Then will the bridegroom come and introduce us to his house, where we shall never need sleep or rest; nor will our lamps ever be in danger of going out. Whilst we are in this life, we labour; and our lamps, blown about by the winds of innumerable temptations, are always in danger of being extinguished; but soon their flame shall become more brilliant, and the temptations we have suffered here shall not diminish, but increase its lustre. (St. Augustine, serm 24)

Application (for meditation). Picture to yourself the consternation and despair of those who are shut for ever from the happiness of heaven. "We fools!" they will say, "for we might have been saved! We had so many means of grace, so many opportunities of doing good. But we wasted them, and are now, by our own fault, lost for ever!". Do you wish to be one of those unhappy ones? No! The begin at once, while you are young, to be zealous in the service of God.
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On the sale of Jesus by the traitor Judas

Lord Jesus Christ, Supreme Goodness and Eternal Majesty, I bless and thank you for being unjustly sold by your own disciple, for so ignoble and meager price as thirty pieces of silver. I praise and glorify you for your patient sufferance of that disloyal disciple, for though you foresaw that he was hastening to betray you, nevertheless, you did not manifest any anger toward him, nor did you speak any harsh words to him. You dod not make his evil intentions known to others, nor after so villainous a deed did you remove him from his office or refuse him Holy Communion. How great is your patience, most gentle Jesus, and how great my impatience! Alas! How poorly I tolerate a brother when he has said or done something against me. But you, for so long a time and without complaint, have endured your disciple Judas, who would soon sell and betray you, while I, for a paltry insult, quickly yield to anger and think of various ways of vindicating myself or of offering excuses. Where then is my patience, where is my meekness?
Help me good Jesus, and install the virtue of your meekness in my heart in greater abundance, for without your inspiration and special grace i cannot enjoy peace of soul amid this life's many vexations.

"On the Passion of Christ According to the Four Evangelists - Prayers and Meditations" - Fr. Thomas a Kempis
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

All Souls of the Carmelite Order

On this day the Order remembers in prayer all the members of the Carmelite Family who have died.
Let us pray.
Lord, you are the glory of those who serve you. Look lovingly on our departed brothers and sisters, united in following Christ and his Mother by the waters of baptism and the bonds of Carmel. In your mercy grant them everlasting sight of you their Creator and Redeemer. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

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In the reading today we can reflect on the importance of living the Word of God based on Scriptures meditations in our modern and anti-religious times as St Paul rightly predicted. Christians are the salt of the earth, and light of the world - we should remember this always and try our best to live the faith and be example to the world, otherwise we would be 'trodden on by men'.

Daily Reading

2 Tim 4:1-8.

I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming and his kingdom: Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove,entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober. For I am even now ready to be sacrificed: and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight: I have finished my course: I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming. Make haste to come to me quickly.

Mt 5:13-19.

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing anymore but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On the shameful arrest and leading away of the Lord

LORD JESUS CHRIST, Hope of the saints and Tower of strength in every tribulation, I bless and thank you for underdoing so violent an arrest by hateful enemies, for the arrogant laying of sacrilegious hands on you by those sent to arrest you, and for the brutal looks and menacing shouts of those carrying arms against you. I bless and thank you for your harsh and cruel binding, for your rough and ruthless detention, for your painful pummeling, and for your being so abruptly dragged away. Amid all this tumult, while you were being rushed to your death by mean-spirited and worthless villains, your dear disciples, who had deserted you, looked upon you from a distance with great sorrow. Lord, King of kings, you, who have dominion over all creatures and who alone among mortals are truly free, why did you allow yourself to be so violently taken captive and to be so wickedly led away by despicable men, whom you yourself had created and for whom you have always done good? How grave a crime was commited against you, who are free of all sin, and how rash the insult to your almighty power, when you, deliverer of the souls, were bound with a criminal's cord and were led away captive, as if you were the worst of thieves. Loving jesus, supreme Exemplar of virtue, you chose most patiently to suffer this cruelty for us, in order to give us an example of your singular meekness and to fulfill Isaiah's clear prophecy: He shall be led as a sheep to a slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth. He was offered because it was his own will (Isa. 53:7).
My soul, show compassion on the sorrow and arrest of the beloved Lord, your God, who voluntarily suffers all this for your sins. May your lament be endless, and may your eyes yield its tears because it is the only Son of God who is being so unworthily treated for you. See, what those impudent men are doing. They hold Jesus captive and take him bound before the high priest Annas and Caiaphas. When arrested, he does not resist; when bound, he does not complain; when led away, he does not rebuke; when led away, he does not protest; when dragged off, he does not rebuke, rather he meekly goes, silent as a lamb and, though innocent, he follows after them and humbly endures it all.

My God, I ask, that the bitter pain you experienced in your sorrowful captivity may often enter into my heart's depths but especially during the night hour of Matins. May it arouse in me a fervent love for this holy prayer, may it banish sloth and make me watchful and eager to persevere in praising you. In this way, and in some measure at least, I may repay you for your love and for all that you have done for me. You were born into this world during the night, and during the night you were betrayed, arrested, and bound with ropes. Therefore, Lord, during night prayer I will be especially mindful of your name and reflect on how greatly you have suffered for me, who am the worst of sinners.

After "On the Passion of Christ According to the Four Evangelists - Prayers and Meditations" - Fr. Thomas a Kempis
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Of the benefits that come to the soul from its withdrawal of joy from temporal things.

THE spiritual man, then, must look carefully to it that his heart and his rejoicing begin not to lay hold upon temporal things; he must fear lest from being little it should grow to be great, and should increase from one degree to another. For little things, in time, become great; and from a small beginning there comes in the end a great matter, even as a spark suffices to set a mountain on fire and to burn up the whole world. And let him never be self-confident because his attachment is small, and fail to uproot it instantly because he thinks that he will do so later. For if, when it is so small and in its beginnings, he has not the courage to make an end of it, how does he suppose, and presume, that he will be able to do so when it is great andmore deeply rooted. The more so since Our Lord said in the Gospel: 'He that is unfaithful in little will be unfaithful also in much.' For he that avoids the small sin will not fall into the great sin; but great evil is inherent in the small sin, since it has already penetrated within the fence and wall of the heart; and as the proverb says: Once begun, half done. Wherefore David warns us, saying: 'Though riches abound, let us not apply our heart to them.'
2. Although a man might not do this for the sake of God and of the obligations of Christian perfection, he should nevertheless do it because of the temporal advantages that result from it, to say nothing of the spiritual advantages, and he should free his heart completely from all rejoicing in the things mentioned above. And thus, not only will he free himself from the pestilent evils which we have described in the last chapter, but, in addition to this, he will withdraw his joy from temporal blessings and acquire the virtue of liberality, which is one of the principal attributes of God, and can in no wise coexist with covetousness. Apart from this, he will acquire liberty of soul, clarity of reason, rest, tranquillity and peaceful confidence in God and a true reverence and worship of God which comes from the will. He will find greater joy and recreation in the creatures through his detachment from them, for he cannot rejoice in them if he look upon them with attachment to them as to his own. Attachment is an anxiety that, like a bond, ties the spirit down to the earth and allows it no enlargement of heart. He will also acquire, in his detachment from things, a clear conception of them, so that he can well understand the truths relating to them, both naturally and supernaturally. He will therefore enjoy them very differently from one who is attached to them, and he will have a great advantage and superiority over such a one. For, while he enjoys them according to their truth, the other enjoys them according to their falseness; the one appreciates the best side of them and the other the worst; the one rejoices in their substance; the other, whose sense is bound to them, in their accident. For sense cannot grasp or attain to more than the accident, but the spirit, purged of the clouds and species of accident, penetrates the truth and worth of things, for this is its object. Wherefore joy, like a cloud, darkens the judgment, since there can be no voluntary joy in creatures without voluntary attachment, even as there can be no joy which is passion when there is no habitual attachment in the heart; and the renunciation and purgation of such joy leave the judgment clear, even as the mists leave the air clear when they are scattered.
3. This man, then, rejoices in all things -- since his joy is dependent upon none of them -- as if he had them all; and this other, through looking upon them with a particular sense of ownership, loses in a general sense all the pleasure of them all. This former man, having none of them in his heart, possesses them all, as Saint Paul says, in great freedom. This latter man, inasmuch as he has something of them through the attachment of his will, neither has nor possesses anything; it is rather they that have possessed his heart, and he is, as it were, a sorrowing captive. Wherefore, if he desire to have a certain degree of joy in creatures, he must of necessity have an equal degree of disquietude and grief in his heart, since it is seized and possessed by them. But he that is detached is untroubled by anxieties, either in prayer or apart from it; and thus, without losing time, he readily gains great spiritual treasure. But the other man loses everything, running to and fro upon the chain by which his heart is attached and bound; and with all his diligence he can still hardly free himself for a short time from this bond of thought and rejoicing by which his heart is bound. The spiritual man, then, must restrain the first motion of his heart towards creatures, remembering the premiss which we have here laid down, that there is naught wherein a man must rejoice, save in his service of God, and in his striving for His glory and honour in all things, directing all things solely to this end and turning aside from vanity in them, looking in them neither for his own joy nor for his consolation.
4. There is another very great and important benefit in this detachment of the rejoicing from creatures -- namely, that it leaves the heart free for God. This is the dispositive foundation of all the favours which God will grant to the soul, and without this disposition He grants them not. And they are such that, even from the temporal standpoint, for one joy which the soul renounces for love of Him and for the perfection of the Gospel, He will give him a hundred in this life, as His Majesty promises in the same Gospel. But, even were there not so high a rate of interest, the spiritual man should quench these creature joys in his soul because of the displeasure which they give to God. For we see in the Gospel that, simply because that rich man rejoiced at having laid up for many years, God was so greatly angered that He told him that his soul would be brought to account on that same night. Therefore, we must believe that, whensoever we rejoice vainly, God is beholding us and preparing some punishment and bitter draught according to our deserts, so that the pain which results from the joy may sometimes be a hundred times greater than the joy. For, although it is true, as Saint John says on this matter, in the Apocalypse, concerning Babylon, that as much as she had rejoiced and lived in delights, so much torment and sorrow should be given her, yet this is not to say that the pain will not be greater than the joy, which indeed it will be, since for brief pleasures are given eternal torments. The words mean that there shall be nothing without its particular punishment, for He Who will punish the idle word will not pardon vain rejoicing.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007


Its Basis
The Blessed Trinity has crowned the Blessed Virgin Mary with three diadems: God the Father had endowed the Blessed Virgin with Power in Heaven, on earth and in hell; God the Son had endowed her with Wisdom of God and of His creatures; God the Holy Spirit has endowed her with Love for God and for man. Through the devotion of the "Three Hail Marys", we remember these three crowns and honor her for this God-given privilege; thus the purpose of this devotion is to give glory to God. This was revealed by Our Lady herself to St. Matchilda.

The Vision of St. Gertrude

In a vision, St. Gertrude saw the following: Three Beams of Light issue from the Heart of the Three Divine Persons and penetrate into the Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Then, They return to Their Source in the Blessed Trinity. Herein lies the admirable compendium of the entire Marian Theology. In this vision, Mary is presented to us as "the splendor of the Eternal Light, the mirror of the Divine Majesty and the image of the Infinite Goodness", receiving and reflecting all the graces of the Blessed Trinity. Through the devotion of the "Three Hail Marys", Our Lady shows us her gratitude to the Blessed Trinity, reminding us of this august Mystery.
Moreover, this devotion enables us to honor the Mother of God in a suitable manner, for -- as Our Lady herself revealed to St. Mathilda -- the "Hail Mary" is the best prayer we can offer to Our Lady to recall her God-given privilege as Mother of God and to give her due honor for it.

Practiced and Recommended
Many great saints have practiced and recommended the devotion of the "Three Hail Mary". Here are the names of but a few of them: St. Leonard of Port Maurice, St. Bruno, St. Bonaventure, St. John Berchmans, St. John Baptist Mary Vianney (Cure of Ars), St. Anthony of Lisbon and of Padua, St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, St. John Joseph of the Cross, St. John Baptist de Rossi, St. Gerard Majella, St. Gabriel of Our
Lady of Sorrows, Blessed Marcellinus Champagnat, and, above all, the great Marian doctor St. Alphonsus Liguori who, in his writings recommended this devotion about twenty times.
As a result, this devotion has been spreading, and we are reminded of it in many ways: at shrines, in churches and chapels, through association and sodalities, through novenas, pictures, statues and medals, and especially by the innumerable graces and favors received through the practice of this devotion. No doubt, one day in the near future, it will be numbered among
the universally-known important Marian devotions. Moreover, various Popes have indicated that they favor this devotion: Some (like Pius IX, Leo XIII and St. Pius X) have granted special
indulgences for the practice of this devotion. Others (since Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095) have proposed it as a means for obtaining the triumph of the Church; while still others (like Leo XIII and St. Pius X) have ordered its recitation after the Mass for the same intention. (This was the reason the "Three Hail Marys" were recited after the Low Masses before
the Liturgical Reform.) St. Pius X said: "This devotion will save Mexico", and so he recommended all the faithful to practice it.

Innumerable Fruits
"Astonishing conversions, increase in virtues, cure of the sick, temptations conquered, business difficulties solved, holy death and salvation." (This is the promise made by the Blessed Virgin to St. Matchilda). The "Three Hail Marys", are "the best safeguard for chastity" (in the words of St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori). This statement was recorded and attributed to St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori by St. Pius X; "that it is true, has been confirmed by our experiences as well as those of many missionaries" (according to Frassinetti). Even the number of graces and favors obtained through the practice of this devotion show us just how pleasing it is to the
Blessed Virgin Mary.

Devotion for Everyone
This devotion is suitable for everyone: For sinners, it is a classic example of a devotion approved especially for them by the Church. Even if the complete renewal in our way of life does not occur immediately, at least a great change for the better will be noted. Our faithful perseverance in this practice will succeed in obtaining the complete change, sooner or later, through Our lady's intercession. (This is what St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori wrote about this devotion.) Of course, it is understood that the person who is praying for the favor -- even if he/she be a great sinner -- must have pure intentions and good will, and pray with great attention, fervor and constancy. For those who progress in spiritual life, the "Three Hail Marys" are powerful arms against temptations, especially those against purity. "From my
wide experience, I know that boys and girls who faithfully honor Mary, do not usually commit serious sins" (according to Frassinetti). And this devotion is really very easily practiced, for its very brevity makes it suitable for everyone, however busy they may be, since it does not even take one minute to pray the "Three Hail Marys". (It takes only some 40 seconds.) Therefore, of the 1,440 minutes in each day, are we unable to devote about one minute and half per day to reciting the "Three Hail Marys" in the morning and at night in order that we may obtain our eternal salvation?!

How to Pray the "Three Hail Marys"
Although the devotion of the "Three Hail Marys" is very easy, there are certain conditions which we should observe:
1. Our intentions must be pure, and we must have good will.
2. We must pray with attention, fervor and constancy.
3. With each "Hail Mary", we must have the intention of honoring one of the three privileges granted by the Blessed Trinity to the Blessed Virgin Mary: POWER, WISDOM and MERCY.
4. Since the main aim of these "Three Hail Marys" is our sanctification and salvation, we should add one of the ejaculations which recall this aim. Some of them had been recommended and indulgenced by Leo XIII or by St. Pius X.

Here are some examples:
a) "Mary, my Mother, keep me free from mortal sin during this day" or "during this night" (as the case may be).
b) "O Mary, by your Immaculate Conception, keep my body pure and my soul holy."
c) "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee and also for those who do not have recourse to thee, especially for the enemies of the Church."

Its Effectiveness
Here is the personal testimony of a sinner who used the devotion with good results: "For the last three years, I have been the slave of a bad habit against the virtue of purity. How could I get rid of this terrible passion? I tried every means available, but all proved useless. I used to give in to very serious sins and even to sacrileges. This was most disheartening. "Then, one day, someone recommended to me the devotion of the "Three Hail Marys". And now, it is not yet quite one month since I started to pray the "Three Hail Marys" every morning and every night without fail. I cannot explain what has happened within me, but I do know and can assure you that, since the very first moment, it has produced wonderful results within me: I have not succumbed to the impure temptations since then. When I have been weak and just about ready to succumb, something or another has happened which has stopped me from giving in; and, indeed, I do know that it was something stronger than my desire of sinning."

Fatal Delay in Explaining
Although the recitation of the "Three Hail Marys" was recommended after Low Masses, at the beginning of each Rosary, etc., the importance of this devotion was not explained to the faithful on a wide scale. Therefore, most Catholics did not know its meaning or its importance, and so, they did not pray them with the proper dispositions. As a result, anti-Christian forces -- like Atheism, Communism, etc. -- have been able to organize secret societies to attack the Church.
Let us hasten to start practicing this devotion of the "Three Hail Marys" every morning and every night! Let us not put it off till tomorrow! Moreover, let us introduce this devotion to our friends and relations and urge them to recite the "Three Hail Marys" daily, every morning and every night! Through the practice of this simple devotion we may be led to study the Message of Fatima in greater detail, and so we may lead a life of greater prayer, sacrifice and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The suppression of the anti-Christian doctrines, the conversion of sinners and of Russia, and -- above all -- peace in the world depends on our
obtaining the necessary graces from God through our prayers and sacrifices!

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