Tuesday, October 30, 2007

FR. ÁNGEL MARIA PRAT O.CARM. AND COMPANIONS DECLARED BLESSED

In 1936 seventeen Spanish members of various Carmelite communities gave their lives in defence of and in witness to their Christian faith and consecration to Jesus Christ.

On 28 July at the railway station in Tarrega, twelve religious belonging to the Tarrega community were arrested. They were moved to Clots dels Aubens di Cervera and were shot at dawn on 29 July while they called on Jesus’ name and that of the Mother of Carmel. These men were: Fr. Ángel Maria Prat Hostench, the prior, Fr. Eliseo Maria Maneus Besalduch, novice master, Fr. Anastasio Maria Dorca Coramina, from the community of Olot (Girona) who had been preaching at Tarrega for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Fr. Eduardo Maria Serrano Buj, a professor. There were also philosophy students: Bros. Pedro Maria Ferrer Marin, Andrés Maria Solé Rovina, Juan Maria Puigmitjà Rubió, Miguel Maria. Soler Sala and Pedro–Tomás MariaPrat Colledecarrara and the lay brother Eliseo Maria Fontdecaba Quiroga, as well as the novices, Bros. Elías Maria Garre Egea and José Maria Escoto Ruíz.

During the night of 13 August in Vic, Barcelona, Sr. Mary of St. Joseph Badía Flaquer, an enclosed nun from the monastery of Vic, was arrested. She was killed the same night defending her chastity and witnessing to her consecration to Christ.
Bro. Eufrosino Maria Raga Nadal, a sub deacon and member of the community of Olot, was killed on 3 October.
Bros. Ludovico Maria Ayet Canós and Angel Maria Presta Batlle, Carmelites from the community of Terrassa (Barcelona) were arrested on 21 July and imprisoned in the Modelo jail in Barcelona. On 13 August they were shot in the cemetery in Terrassa.
The prior of the community of Olot, Fr. Fernando Maria Llobera Puigsech, was killed in the ditches of Santa Elena of Montjuic (Barcelona) after a summary trial, and for simply being a religious.

The process for the beatification of this group began in the diocese of Barcelona in September 1959. On 26 June 2006, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, signed the decree for their beatification. On 28 October 2007 the were declared Blesseds among a group of 498 Spanish Martyrs of the 20th Century.

Text and picture after O.Carm website
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King of kings and Lord of lords

Christ is both God and man; Son of God, he became man for our sakes. As God, his power is both sovereign and eternal. Thanks to its union with the Godhead, his humanity is royal, with a royalty that surpasses all others. Since his humanity and his divinity make one Person in Christ, it follows that he is King of kings and Lord of lords, to whom all nations have been given for his heritage, and who will possess the ends of the world. He rules from sea to sea. Christ is our King; royalty is his birthright. His kingship forms part of his nature. he rules over all creation by a right which is not that of force or of anything that is extraneous to himself.
It is equally true that it is not only thanks to his birthright that Christ is our sovereign Lord. His reign is also founded on his victory over Satan, won in deadly strife at the cost of his own blood and by the merits of his sacrifice. Man, born in original sin, lived under the yoke of the power of darkness. Christ, because he loved us, broke that yoke, when in a bloody battle he cast the prince of darkness from his throne. In that combat, we were the stake; it was our soul that he won back from the power of Satan. Formerly, kings of the earth wore a purple mantle, the sign that they were ready to give their life for the ir subjects. Who has more rihgt to wear it than our King, who gave the last drop of his blood for his people? "Behold your King!" What prince can history show us who has more right to the love of his people than Christ, the King of kings? All the titles that nations have ever given to their princes are his by right. He alone among the mightiest is the Almighty. Of his kingdom there is no end; to him is glory and power through all the ages.
He is truly "the Great"; through all the ages his people have greeted him, Tu solus altissimus!
He is "the Good", far above all who have been so called; we call him Father.
He is "the Strong"; Solomon, the wisest of the kings of the earth, says of him: "Behold your King! He is the All-highest, the Almighty, the All-best, the Father who dwells in our true Fatherland."

St Francis, in his Canticle of the Sun, sings:
"O all-highest, almighty, all-good Lord!
To you be praise and glory and honour!
To you be all blessing, for you alone are worthy.
We are not worthy even to name you!"

"My kingdom is not of this world!" His kingdom is of a higher order, a more solid construction than those of earth. The law of the kingdom knows but one commandment; its Magna Carta is contained in one word: Love! Love God above all things and your neighbour as yourself.
His kingdom is a kingdom of love. How can the good Shepherd, the good Samaritan, the generous Father, reign otherwise than by love?
His speach from the throne spoke of salvation. In his kingdom there is but one judge, who is as good as he is wise, as almighty as he is good.
Faithful and True is his name; his judgement is just. On the borders of his robe is written, "King of kings and Lord of lords". He is the highest Sovereign, to whom we must all submit.

"Almighty, everlasting God, who hast willed that in thy beloved Son, the universal King, all things should be made new, grant in thy loving-kindness that all the peoples of the earth, now torn asunder by the wound of sin, may be sundued to the gentle sway of him who is God. living and reigning with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen."

After "With the Church" - ed by Fr Goosens
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Today, on October 28, 2007 at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, 498 martyrs of the 20th century in Spain will be beatified.

Carmelites in Barcelona at the onset of civil war
The friars at the Carmelite monastery in Barcelona, located at the corner of LIuria Street and Diagonal Avenue, were still asleep at 4:30 Sunday morning when suddenly they were awakened by shouts and banging at the door. On that morning of July 19, 1936, the quiet streets of Barcelona had turned into a battlefield when nationalist troops were sent to secure the cross streets between Paseo de Gracia and Diagonal. The troops were ambushed between Callis and Llüria Street by republican assault guards and city militia. The civil war had come to Barcelona. The sounds of horrible gun fire and the militia shouting “Viva Ia Republica” and “Viva el Ejercito” grew louder and louder. The banging at the door was increasingly frantic— shouting through the door that the wounded needed care. The monastery door was opened and infantry men from the Santiago cavalry barged in bringing with them several armed soldiers. The community had rapidly set up an infirmary in the largest room in the monastery close to the entrance. They had laid the wounded on mattresses that the friars had taken from all their cells. Food was scarce for so many inside, but the friars made sure that the wounded and fatigued were well nourished, even if it meant abstaining from food themselves. Soldiers from the infantry continued to storm into the monastery bringing weapons and ammunition and placing themselves in strategic areas throughout the compound and turning the Carmelite monastery into a military fort.

An American reporter, Magan Laird, was vacationing with her family at an apartment across from the monastery when she heard what sounded like firecrackers and rockets. But when she looked out of her apartment and found no one coming out, she knew something was wrong: “The first sign of life is a private car coming rapidly up Calle Lluria ... It stops in the next block in front of the church and monastery of the Carmelites. Two assault guards get out hurriedly, grasp the rifles in firing position, and station themselves behind a tree. At the same moment, I see other assault guards running, rifles in their hands, down the diagonal, another block away ... There is a crackle and a puff of smoke from the tower of the Carmelite church. In the street below, an assault guard, sheltered behind a tree knoll, raises his rifle and fires ... this is no fiesta. This is war.” The cavalry had set a perimeter with soldiers on the bell tower, on windows inside the cells, and church areas. Laird recounts, “From time to time the air is torn with their sharp pum-pum-pum ... Suddenly the drone of an airplane motor is heard directly above our heads. In a minute the plane itself dips into our line of vision, flying high and circling above the Carmelite church. There is the sharp rattle of machine guns from the plane. They are firing at random on the streets and houses below.” In the midst of this chaos, the whole Carmelite community was able to celebrate Sunday Mass and pray the Divine Office. As evening drew near, the wounded were transferred to the library where they would be safer and make more space for the incoming troops from the street. “Cars are passing more frequently in the streets—beautiful cars, luxurious limousines, and open sport models, polished and shining—the cars of the wealthy, filled now with men and soldiers in shirt sleeves, firing constantly as they careen wildly through the streets. All of them have painted letters on the sides — FAI and CNT ...“ The streets finally fell quiet late Sunday night. Inside the monastery, as it was forbidden to light any lamps, many soldiers rested in the pews, refectory, sacristy, and basement. The Carmelites did not go back to their cells but attended to the needs of the soldiers and prisoners who had been captured by the military. “The night air is very cold ... here and there, among darkened buildings of the city, rises a column of white, heavy smoke. They are burning the churches. Off to the right, and elevated on a little hill, one church stands up like liquid gold against the night.” Early Monday morning, the friars celebrated Mass in the middle of gunfire, which was heavier than Sunday. Throughout the morning, many officers and troops inside came to the Carmelites to be enrolled in the Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. With no reinforcements to relieve the soldiers, it was a matter of time before they could no longer hold down the monastery. Seeing that surrender was inevitable, the Carmelite community gathered in the church and knelt before the Blessed Sacrament. Fr. Lucas, the provincial, proceeded to distribute all the consecrated hosts to be consumed. Shortly after this, everyone was alerted that there was an agreement to surrender, with the condition that the lives of the officers, the troops, the wounded, and the religious be spared.

For safety, the Carmelites were told not to wear their habits outside, One friar recalls: “We took off our Carmelite habits and clothed ourselves in civilian attire ... all of us were ready to die after having received the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.” Laird continues: “Presently, in the top of the bell tower, the white flag is run up. Instantly the streets are filled with cheering mobs. The police are powerless to hold them back; they surge against the church, shaking their fists, dancing with rage. Many carry lighted torches.” The mob had infiltrated the monastery by breaking doors and windows. The civil guard was able to give some of the friars a safe passage outside, but the mob became so uncontrollable that there was no longer any guarantee for their safety. Some friars tried to escape by blending with the crowd, but for some it was no use. Fr. Jorge of St. Joseph and Bro. Juan Jose of Jesus were killed as soon as they were discovered to be friars.


Martyrdom of Fr. Lucas of St. Joseph (Tristany), O.C.D.

Witnesses testify to seeing Fr. Lucas as he came out of the monastery through the smaller door adjacent to the tower bell with his face covered with blood, his head bandaged with a colored handkerchief, and accompanied by two civil guards. The mob wanted to lynch Father, but the soldiers forced them back telling them they wanted to take him to the authorities. As they approached Diagonal Avenue, one of the civil guards with him said, “I gave you my word that I will save your life.” From a distance, however, a patrol shot the guard in the head killing him. The other soldiers fell back as the mob grew restlessly violent. Fr. Lucas crossed Diagonal Avenue alone under fire and took refuge before a large portal. A patrol, armed with two rifles, pushed him ruthlessly onto the Avenue. The patrol approached him again striking him on the head with rifle butts. Fr. Lucas was ordered to walk down the Avenue and “with an uncertain gait, he staggers slowly down the Diagonal, his palms joined before his breast praying.” After walking a few yards, he was shot from behind and fell to the ground. Wounded, Fr. Lucas was able to crawl some distance before he died near a small oak tree in front of a doctor’s clinic on Diagonal Avenue. Fr. Lucas was lying on the ground with his face turned to the Carmelite monastery until 8 o’clock that night when a Red Cross ambulance from Lluria Street came to take away the body.

Martyrdom of Fr. Eduardo of the Child Jesus (Farré), O.C.D.
Fr. Eduardo, who was prior of the community in Tarragona at that time, was preaching a novena to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to the Carmelite nuns in Tiana, for it was a custom at that monastery to begin the novena on the 16th. On the feast day of St. Elijah (July 20), Fr. Eduardo received news of the war and urged the nuns to be ready to leave the cloister. By midmorning, they saw their neighboring church on fire and rapidly changed into civilian clothes and left the cloister safely.


Outside, before they parted to take refuge at family homes, the nuns knelt for a blessing from Fr. Eduardo who told them that this could be their last meeting—“until we meet again in heaven. ”

Frs. Gabriel and Eduardo took refuge at the home of the Noruega family. The fathers found a welcoming and loving home where they could feel protected. Perhaps such notion of safety and optimism made the priests less cautious and fearless of their surroundings. The priests would secretly go to the nuns to celebrate Mass for them until it became too dangerous. At 6 o’clock in the evening of July 25, as the priests and family were at home, they saw about thirty militia men running in formation past the house with more riding in privately-owned vehicles.

Some of them surrounded the Noruega’s house and entered through the door demanding to register and inspect the household. Mr. Noruega, realizing that the inspection might cost the lives of the priests, asked them what to do. Fr. Gabriel suggested that he tell them they were just friends of the family. However Fr. Eduardo with great fervor and courage strongly disagreed and said that they should know who they were. As the militia interrogated the family and turned to the priests, these words were heard: “Yes sir! We are two Discalced Carmelite friars!” They seized them immediately and took them to headquarters. The friars were transferred to a large truck where a woman armed with a rifle directed them on board. That was the last time they were seen. It is speculated that their bodies were buried in common graves perhaps near the town of Montcada. Fr. Eduardo died at the age of 39.

Text after California-Arizone Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars
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The Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ
video

Reading

Coloss. 1:12-20
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: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers. All things were created by him and in him. And he is before all: and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may hold the primacy: Because in him, it hath well pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell: And through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth and the things that are in heaven.


John 18:33-37
Pilate therefore went into the hall again and called Jesus and said to him: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of me? Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thy own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee up to me. What hast thou done? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence. Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

In the slide show above the last picture is of little girl kissing the hand of Our crucified Lord and this picture is after Hallowedground blog Read whole post......

Feast of Christ, the King

St Matthew 22: 15-21
At that time : The Pharisees went and took counsel how they might entangle Jesus in his talk. And they sent to him their disciples with the Herodians, saying: Master, we know that thou art a true speaker, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou dost not regard the person of men. Tell us therefore what dost thou think, is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? But Jesus knowing their wickedness, said: Why do you tempt me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the coin of the tribute. And they offered him a penny. And Jesus saith to them: Whose image and inscription is this? They say to him: Caesar's. Then he saith to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God, the things that are God's.

Comments from the Homily by St. Hilary the Bishop (after Matins lessons)
The Pharisees had oftentimes been put to confusion, and were not able to find any ground to accuse him out of anything that he had hitherto said or done. His words and works are, of necessity, faultless; but still, from spite, they set themselves to seek in every direction for some cause to accuse him. He was calling all to turn away from the corruptions of the world, and the superstitious practices of devotion invented by men, and to fix their hopes upon the kingdom of heaven. They therefore arranged a question calculated to entrap him into an offence against civil government, namely : Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness: for in sooth there is nothing hidden in the heart of man, but what God seeth it; and so he said: Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? shew me the tribute-money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them : Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's. How wonderful is this answer! How perfect the fulfilment of the Divine Law herein prescribed! So beautifully doth he here strike the balance between caring not for the things of the world, on the one hand, and the offence of injuring Caesar, on the other, that he proveth the perfect freedom of minds, however devoted to God, to discharge all human cases and duties, by commanding them to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's. If we have nothing which is Caesar's, then we have nothing which we are bound to render unto him. But if we are concerned with the things which are his, if we are entrusted by him with the use of delegated power, if we are subject to him as paid servants to take care of property which is not our own, there can be no dispute but that it is our duty to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's. But unto God all of us are bound always to render the things that are God's, that is to say, our body, soul, and will. These are things which we hold from him, and whereof he is the Author and Maker. This is therefore no more than mere justice―that they, who acknowledge that they owe to him their being and creation, should render to him all that they are.

Prayer to Christ the King
O Christ Jesus, I acknowledge Thee as universal King. All that has been made, has been created for Thee. Exercise over me all Thy rights. I renew my baptismal promises, I renounce Satan, his pomps and his works; and I promise to live a good Christian life. In particular I pledge myself to labour, to the best of my ability, for the triumph of the rights of God and of Thy Church. Amen.
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Saturday, October 27, 2007


Latin Mass Society Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden in London.

October is the Month of the Holy Rosary and London's Catholics show devotion to Our Lady through participation in the Rosary Crusade of Reparation, and in the Pilgrimages to the Shrines of Our Lady of Walsingham and Our Lady of Willesden. Today we visited Our Lady of Willesden shrine where Our Blessed Mother and Queen was honoured and venerated since 10th century up to Reformation upheaval. Pilgrimages and devotion to Our Lady was forbidden whereas her statue was burnt at stake. The shrine was visited by thousands of Catholics, including prominent political and religious figures such as St Thomas Moore, great scholar, martyr and Lord Chancellor in times of King Henry the VIIIth. St Thomas lost his life for being faithful to his Christian principles and faith. He defended the practice of pilgrimages (citing Willesden as an example) against the attacks of reformers like Thomas Bilney. His last visit to the shrine was in 1534, just before his arrest. He was beheaded in 1535 and canonised by Pope Pius XI in 1935.

Another prominent religious figure and saint who visited the Shrine was St Josemaria Escriva, the founder of the Opus Dei. He made two visits, on 15th August 1958 and 17th August 1962, to renew consecration of Opus Dei to the Name of Mary. St Josemaria died in 1975 and was canonised by Pope John Paul II in 2002. Every year, on the Feast of the Assumption, members of Opus Dei living in London make private pilgrimages to Willesden, in the footsteps of their Founder.

Our pilgrimage started with Holy Rosary recitation followed by small conference held by Fr Laurence Hemming. He told us a beautiful legend of the origin of devotion to Our Lady of Willesden. The small plaque above Church's door depict the story and can be seen on the movie below. The legend tells us about certain monk who lived in the Middle Ages. Sadly, he was addicted to gambling, however, he was devoted to Our Lady throughout his whole life and whenever he came across Our Lady's statue or shrine he promptly knelt down and said his prayers. His inordinate life brought him to death without confession and at that time, when the rules of religious life where kept very carefully, his body could not stay overnight in the Church, as his soul was considered lost, but was kept outside in the Church's courtyard. During the night, Our Lady appeared in a dream to parish priest of the Church and she asked him very firmly to bring poor man's body inside the Church. She said he was very faithful in his devotion to her and all his prayers were very pleasing to her, like if a lily grew out of his mouth. After the conference, Solemn High Mass was celebrated - (celebrant was Revd Fr Patrick Hayward) and our little pilgrimage came to the end with after Mass prayers before the statue of Our Lady. It was very beautiful day and spiritually rich experience, and if anyone would like to read more about OLW shrine I include the link: HERE

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Saturday - Day of Our Lady

QUEEN OF SAINTS, PRAY FOR US

The Most Blessed Virgin, Immaculate Mother of God and Queen of Saints, is most richly endowed with grace, virtue, glory and power. The Church venerates divine mystery of her sanctity with beautiful words and visions. The Queen of Heaven is praised for her virtues: "I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus" her sanctity: "and as a cypress tree on mount Sion",
for her abandonment and trust in God: "I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades" for her charity:"and as a rose plant in Jericho" and particularly for her charity towards us poor sinners:"As a fair olive tree in the plains". She is praised for her virtuous life:" and as a plane tree by the water in the streets, was I exalted, I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon. and aromatical balm: I yielded a sweet odour like the best myrrh " (Ecclus 24: 17-20).
How very just it is to follow Our Lady on the way to Christian perfection and to look at her life as the perfect example of holiness
. No matter that we might fail over and over again, let us not be discouraged. Let us pray to Our Mother and Queen for help to overcome ourselves in all sinful tendencies, bad habits, imperfections, little and not so little addictions that separate us from God, remembering what He commanded us and what Mary perfected so well in her life: You shall be holy unto me, because I the Lord am holy, and I have separated you from other people, that you should be mine " (Leviticus 20:26).
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Friday, October 26, 2007

SAINTS OF CARMEL

ST JOHN OF THE CROSS - ASCEND OF MOUNT CARMEL

BOOK III, CHAPTER XIX, part 1

Of the evils that may befall the soul when it sets its rejoicing upon temporal blessings.

IF we had to describe the evils which encompass the soul when it sets the affections of its will upon temporal blessings, neither ink nor paper would suffice us and our time would be too short. For from very small beginnings a man may attain to great evils and destroy great blessings; even as from a spark of fire, if it be not quenched, may be enkindled great fires which set the world ablaze. All these evils have their root and origin in one important evil of a privative kind that is contained in this joy -- namely, withdrawal from God. For even as, in the soul that is united with Him by the affection of its will, there are born all blessings, even so, when it withdraws itself from Him because of this creature affection, there beset it all evils and disasters proportionately to the joy and affection wherewith it is united with the creature; for this is inherent in withdrawal from God. Wherefore a soul may expect the evils which assail it to be greater or less according to the greater or lesser degree of its withdrawal from God. These evils may be extensive or intensive; for the most part they are both together.
2. This privative evil, whence, we say, arise other privative and positive evils, has four degrees, each one worse than the other. And, when the soul compasses the fourth degree, it will have compassed all the evils and depravities that arise in this connection. These four degrees are well indicated by Moses in Deuteronomy in these words, where he says: 'The beloved grew fat and kicked. He grew fat and became swollen and gross. He forsook God his Maker and departed from God his Salvation.'
3. This growing fat of the soul, which was loved before it grew fat, indicates absorption in this joy of creatures. And hence arises the first degree of this evil, namely the going backward; which is a certain blunting of the mind with regard to God, an obscuring of the blessings of God like the obscuring of the air by mist, so that it cannot be clearly illumined by the light of the sun. For, precisely when the spiritual person sets his rejoicing upon anything, and gives rein to his desire for foolish things, he becomes blind as to God, and the simple intelligence of his judgment becomes clouded, even as the Divine Spirit teaches in the Book of Wisdom, saying: 'the use and association of vanity and scorn obscureth good things, and inconstancy of desire overturneth and perverteth the sense and judgment that are without malice.' Here the Holy Spirit shows that, although there be no malice conceived in the understanding of the soul, concupiscence and rejoicing in creatures suffice of themselves to create in the soul the first degree of this evil, which is the blunting of the mind and the darkening of the judgment, by which the truth is understood and each thing honestly judged as it is.
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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Forty Martyrs (RC) of England and Wales 25 October 1570

In the years following the quarrel between Henry VIII of England and the Pope of Rome, questions of religious faith became entangled with questions of political loyalty. Henry when young had married his brother's widow, Catharine of Aragon (Spain), who bore him a daughter, Mary. Marriage with one's brother's widow was not permitted in those days, and Henry's marriage had taken place by special permission of the Pope. Later, Henry claimed that the Pope had no right to make an exception, and that the marriage was null and void. He set Catharine aside, and married Anne Boleyn, who bore him a daughter, Elizabeth. Henry later accused Anne of adultery, had her beheaded, and married Jane Seymour, who bore him a son, Edward, and died shortly after giving birth. Roman Catholics held that Mary was born in wedlock, but that Elizabeth was not and had no right to inherit the throne. Protestants held the reverse opinion. (There were exceptions on both sides.) Not surprisingly, Mary grew up Roman Catholic, and her half-sister Elizabeth grew up Protestant.

In 1970, the Vatican selected as representatives of a larger group (totalling perhaps three hundred) forty Roman Catholic men and women, both clergy and laity, who suffered death for their faith during the years from 1535 to 1679. Their names are given below, with years of death. Those marked with an asterisk (*) are Welsh, the others English.

Religious Orders (monks, friars, etc.):
Carthusians:
John Houghton, Augustine Webster, Robert Lawrence, 1535;
Brigittine: Richard Reynolds; 1535.
Augustinian friar: John Stone; 1539.
Jesuits:
Edmund Campion, 1581;
Robert Southwell, Henry Walpole, 1595;
Nicholas Owen, Jesuit laybrother, 1606;
Thomas Garnet, 1608;
Edmund Arrowsmith, 1628;
Henry Morse, 1645;
Philip Evans*, David Lewis*, 1679.
Benedictines:
John Roberts*, 1610;
Ambrose Barlow, 1641;
Alban Roe, 1642.
Friar Obervant, John Jones*, 1598;
Franciscan, John Wall, 1679.

Secular Clergy (parish priests not in monastic orders):
Cuthbert Mayne, 1577;
Ralph Sherwin, Alexander Briant, 1581;
John Pain, Luke Kirby, 1582;
Edmund Gennings, Eustace White, Polydore Plasden, 1591;
John Boste, 1594;
John Almond, 1612;
John Southworth, 1654;
John Lloyd*, John Plessington, John Kemble, 1679.


Laymen:
Richard Gwyn*, poet and schoolmaster 1584;
Swithun Wells*, schoolmaster, 1591;
Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel and Surrey, died in prison (poisoned?) 1595;
John Rigby, household retainer of the Huddleston family, 1600.


Laywomen:
Margaret Clitherow, wife, mother, and schoolmistress, 1586;
Margaret Ward, for managing a priest's escape from prison, 1588;
Anne Line, widow, "harborer of priests", 1601.


Of all the Tyburn martyrs, St. Edmund Campion is one of the best-known. A play on his name described what he was - the Pope's C(h)ampion. Nothing could daunt his ardour or break his spirit; neither promises of worldy gain, the basest calummy, public ridicule, nor the appalling torture of the rack.

When he was fifteen, he won a scholarship to St. John's College, Oxford, and two years later became a Junior Fellow. Although he was the centre of an admiring crowd, and a brilliant career was opening out before him, he became more and more dissatisfied with his position. His Catholic tendencies were known, and in due course, he had to leave Oxford, being unable to say that he was a sincere Protestant. He was now a suspect, and soon after was forced to flee the country. He went first to Douay, but later entered the Society of Jesus in Rome, 1573. In 1579, he and Father Persons were chosen to lead the first Jesuit Mission to England, where they arrived in 1580. For a year, Campion laboured without ceasing, and it was by a series of hairbreadth escapes that he carried forward an apostolate of marvellous fruitfulness. His natural gifts stood him in good stead, for he had the wit and eloquence that he had exercised with effect in the days when he cared for a Queen's praise. Now he devoted all his talents to the Heavenly Master, hoping for no greater reward than that which granted to him at the age of forty-two.

He was so cruelly tortured in prison that his enemies feared that he rackmen had gone too far, and that the gallows would be cheated of its prey; yet they failed to wring from him any statement that might be used to convict him of treason. Finally, the Council drew up a fictitious charge against him, in which it was asserted that the preceding year, in Rome and at Rheims, Campion had connived with William Allen, Nicholas Morton, and Father Person in a conspiracy to murder the Queen....

Notwitstanding the terrible sufferings he had undergone, St. Edmund Campion was in a state of calm cheerfulness on the day of his glorious triumph at Tyburn. (He was hung, drawn, and quartered. The next martyr that day, St. Ralph Sherwin, kissed with great devotion the blood of Edmund Campion dripping from the hands of the executioners.)

About age 33, St. Margaret Clitherow was executed in York, England for inviting Catholic priests into her home to say Mass during the time of the penal laws under Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603), when this was a capital offense. She was martyred by being crushed to death under a large door loaded with heavy weights, a particularly painful style of execution, then still called by its French name - peine forte et dure ("severe and harsh punishment). The law prescribed this type of death because she refused to plead; she did this in order to save her children and her servants from being pressured to give evidence against her, and to save the jury from participating from sentencing her to death. At this time, Margaret had three children, and was likely expecting her fourth. Yet, though she was leaving her greatest human loves, Margaret - always merry in life - remained peaceful and even joyous to the end.

Trawsfynydd, Merionethshire, Wales, has its title to fame as the birthplace of St. John Roberts.... [I]n 1599, he was admitted ot the Benedictine Congregation of St. Benito de Valladolid (in Spain), and went to make his novitiate at the abbey of St. Martin Pinario, just outside the walls of Compostela.... [A] priest from England called at the monastery, bringing news of the glorious martyrdom of Blessed Mark Barkworth. He declared that the name of Benedict was still the sweetest to the English after that of Jesus and Mary, and added that he was of the opinion that the conversion of England would be reserved to the Benedictine Order. As a result of this visit, an approach was made to the Holy See, petitioning that some Benedictine monks be authorized to go and work in England. This petition was granted in 1602, and St. John was one of the first to set off and face the death for which he had been preparing himselfby his strict monastic life....

St. John was imprisoned and exiled many times, but he always found means of returning to England. When the Plague broke out in the country, he spent himself untiringly, ministering to the victims of the terrible scourge in London, at the same time, making many converts.

It was on the first Sunday in Advent of the year 1610 that he was finally arrested while he was saying Mass and taken off to prison, still wearing the sacred vestments. The trial and condemnation were not long in coming, and on December 10th, he was dragged to Tyburn on a hurdle to suffer a barbarous death. The spirit of peace and joy that had characterised him at all times was particularly manifest as his death approached, so much so that he was heard to express a certain fear, lest his joy might offend those around him. (He was executed by being hung, drawn, and quartered. It was traditional to disembowel the victims whilst still alive - but the crowd would not allow this - these were the poor folk that he had cared for during the Plague, and they remembered his kindness, therefore the executioner had to wait until he was dead.)

Prayer for England
O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England, thy Dowry, and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope, was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us, thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross. O Sorrowful Mother, intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold, they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. Pray us all, dear Mother, that by faith, fruitful in good works, we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home. Amen.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

SAINT RAPHAEL the ARCHANGEL

Spiritual Bouquet: Do nothing out of contentiousness or out of vainglory, but in humility let each one regard the others as his superiors. Phil. 2:3

This holy Archangel identified himself to the exiled Jew Tobias as “one of the Seven who stand before God” (Tob. 12:15). His name means the healing of God, and he is thought to be the Angel who came down and agitated the water of the pool of Bethsaida in Jerusalem. The sick, who always lay around the pool, strove to be the first to enter the water afterwards, because that fortunate one was always cured. We read of this in the story of the paralytic cured by Jesus, who had waited patiently for thirty-eight years, unable to move when the occasion presented itself. (Cf. John 5:1-9) Saint Raphael is best known through the beautiful history of the two Tobias, father and son, exiled to Persia in the days of the Assyrian conquest in the eighth century before Christ. In their story, the Archangel plays the major role. The father Tobias was a faithful son of Jacob and was old and worn out by his manifold good works; for many years he had assisted his fellow exiles in every possible way, even burying the slain of Israel during a persecution by Sennacherib, and continuing this practice despite the wrath that king manifested towards him. Having been stripped of all his possessions, he desired to have his son recover a substantial sum of money he had once lent to a member of his family in a distant city. He needed a companion for the young Tobias. God provided that guide in the Archangel Raphael, whom the son met providentially one day, in the person of a stranger from the very area where he was to go, in the country of the Medes. Raphael to all appearances was a young man like himself, who said his name was Azarias (Assistance of God). Everything went well, as proposed; the young Tobias recovered the sum and then was married, during their stay in Media, to the virtuous daughter of another relative, whom Providence had reserved for him. All aspects of this journey had been thorny with difficulties, but the wise guide had found a way to overcome all of them. When a huge fish threatened to devour Tobias, camped on the shores of the Tigris, the guide told him how to remove it from the water, and the fish expired at his feet; then remedies and provisions were derived from this creature by the directives of Azarias. When the Angel led Tobias for lodging in the city of Rages, to the house of his kinsman Raguel, father of the beautiful Sara, the young man learned that seven proposed husbands had died on the very day of the planned marriage. How would Tobias fare? The Angel reassured him that this would not be his own fate, and told him to pray with his future spouse for three nights, that they might be blessed with a holy posterity. Sara was an only daughter, as Tobias was an only son, and she was endowed with a large heritage. During the absence of the young Tobias, his father had become blind when the droppings of a pigeon had fallen into his eyes. When the two travelers returned after an extended absence, which had cost his mother many tears, the young Tobias was deeply grieved to find his father unable to see him and his new daughter-in-law. But Raphael told the son how to cure his father’s blindness by means of the gall of the fish; and after the remedy had proved efficacious, all of them rejoiced time in their blessings. When Tobias the son narrated his story and told his father that all their benefits had come to them through this stranger, both father and son wished to give Azarias half of the inheritance. Raphael declined and revealed his identity, saying he was sent to assist the family of the man who had never failed to obey and honor the blessed God of Israel. Raphael, before he disappeared, said to the family: “It is honorable to reveal and confess the works of God. Prayer is good, with fasting and alms, more than to lay up treasures, for alms deliver from death and purge away sins, and cause the giver to find mercy and life everlasting... When thou didst pray with tears and didst bury the dead, and didst leave thy dinner to hide the dead by day in thy house, and bury them by night, I offered thy prayer to the Lord. And because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that trials prove thee... I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the Lord.”

Source: The Holy Bible: Old and New Testaments.

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The upper image is possibly by Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506) and the lower one is after the 'Prayer Booklet for Travelers' by W. Löhe's Reisende and depicts Archangel Raphael as the patron Saint of emigrants.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Today's Reading can help us reflect on the great value of vocation to the priesthood established by Our Lord in His Church. Gospel Reading will be helpful to reflect on Sacrament of Penence, great gift from God to all the faithful to 'watch and be ready' by means of forgiveness of sins.

Heb 7:23-27

And the others indeed were made many priests, because by reason of death they were not suffered to continue: But this, for that he continueth for ever, hath an everlasting priesthood: Whereby he is able also to save for ever them that come to God by him; always living to make intercession for us. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens: Who needeth not daily (as the other priests) to offer sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, in offering himself.

Mt 24:42-47
Watch ye therefore, because you know not what hour your Lord will come. But this know ye, that, if the goodman of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Wherefore be you also ready, because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come. Who, thinkest thou, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath appointed over his family, to give them meat in season? Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come he shall find so doing. Amen I say to you: he shall place him over all his goods.
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost
At the Introit of the Mass is said a prayer of Mardochai, which may be used in all necessities:

INTROIT
All things are in thy will, O Lord: and there is none that can resist thy will: for thou hast made all things, heaven and earth, and all things that are under the cope of heaven: thou art Lord of all. (Esth 13: 9, 10). Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord. (Ps. 118) Glory etc.

COLLECT
Keep, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy family by Thy continued goodness: that, through Thy protection, it may be free from all adversities, and devoted in good works to the glory of Thy name. Thro'.

EPISTLE (Ephes 6: 10-17)
Brethern, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power. Put you on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil: for our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in high places. Therefore take unto you the armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: in all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of, the most wicked one: and take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.

EXPLANATION
The apostle teaches the Ephesians how hard and dangerous a struggle every Christian has to make, not against human enemies of flesh and blood, but against spiritual, invisible enemies, who were at one time powerful princes in heaven, but through sin became princes of the darkness of this world, who govern the adherents of the world, and exercise their evil influence in the air as well as on the earth, as far as God permits them, for our chastisement or trial. He shows us also the manner in which we can gain the victory in the evil day, that is, the time of temptation, and particularly at the hour of death, when he admonishes us to have confidence in God and gives us the weapons for the contest. We should, therefore, gird ourselves with the girdle of truth, which shows us that honor, concupiscence and riches are vain and useless; we should put on the breast-plate of justice which is made of good works: the shoes, by regulating our lives according to the precepts of the gospel, which alone can give us true peace; the shield of faith, which teaches us how richly God rewards virtue and how terribly He punishes those who succumb to temptation and sin; the helmet of salvation, namely, confidence in God and the hope of heaven; the sword of the word of God, by making use, when violently tempted, of consoling and strengthening expressions of Holy Scripture, by which we can put the devil to flight, according to the example of Christ (Matt 4) and the saints. - Let us diligently use these weapons, and we shall be victorious in this spiritual combat, and be crowned with eternal glory in heaven.

GOSPEL (Matt 18: 23-35)
At that time, Jesus spoke to his disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who would take an account of his servants. And when he had begun to take the account one was brought to him that owed him ten thousand talents. And as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. But that servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And the lord of that servant, being moved with pity, let him go, and forgave him the debt. But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow-servants that owed him a hundred pence: and laying hold of him, he throttled him, saying: Pay what thou owest. And his fellow-servant falling down besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not; but went and cast him into prison till he paid the debt. Now his fellow-servants, seeing what was done, were very much grieved: and they came and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him, and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me: shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellowservant, even as I had compassion on thee? And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.

Who are understood by the king, and the servants?
The King is God, and the servants are all mankind.

What is meant by the ten thousand talents?
The ten thousand talents, according to our money more than ten million dollars, signify mortal sin, the guilt of which is so great that no creature can pay it; even all the works of the saints cannot make atonement, because by every mortal sin the infinitely great, good, and holy God is offended, which offense it is as impossible for any creature to cancel as it is for a poor servant to pay a debt of ten million dollars. Nevertheless God is so merciful that He remits the whole immeasurable debt of sin, on account of the infinite merits of Christ, if the sinner contritely begs forgiveness and amends his life.

Why did the master order, not only the debtor, but also his wife and children to be sold?
Probably because they assisted in contracting the debt, or gave occasion for its increase. This is a warning to those who in any way make themselves partakers of others' sins, either by counsel, command, consent, provocation, praise or flattery, concealment, partaking, silence and by defending ill-done things.

What is understood by the hundred pence?
By the hundred pence are understood the offences committed against us, and which, in comparison with our debt against God, are very insignificant.

What does Jesus intend to show by this parable?
That if God is so merciful and forgives us our immense debts, we should be merciful and willingly forgive our fellow-men the slight faults and offences, which they commit against us; he who does not this, will not receive pardon from God, in him will be verified the words of the apostle St. James: Judgment without mercy to him that hath not done mercy (James 2: 13).

Who are those who throttle their debtors?
These are, in general, the unmerciful, but particularly those who have no compassion for their debtors; those who immediately go to law and rest not until the debtor is left without house or home; those who oppress widows and orphans, if they owe them anything, thus committing one of the sins which cry to heaven for vengeance; (Ecclus 35: 18, 19) those who even in just lawsuits act harshly and severely with their opponent, without the slightest inclination to come to an agreement with him; finally, rulers and landlords who overburden their subjects with excessive tithes and taxes, and exact their share with the greatest rigor.

Who are those who accuse these hardened men before God?
They are the guardian angels and their own conscience; the merciless act itself cries to God for vengeance.

What is at to forgive from the heart?
It is to banish from the heart all hatred, ill-will and revengeful desires, to treasure a true and sincere love towards our offenders and enemies not only in our hearts, but also manifest it externally by deeds of charity. Therefore those have not forgiven from their hearts, who, indeed, say and believe, that they have no ill-will against their enemy, but everywhere avoid him, refuse to salute him, to thank him, to pray for him, to speak to him, and to help him in necessity, even when they might do so, but who rather rejoice at his need.

INSTRUCTION ON THE VIRTUE OF PATIENCE
Have patience with me (Matt 18: 26).

Since God has such great patience with us, ought not this to move us to have patience likewise with the faults and weaknesses of our fellow-men, and to resign ourselves patiently in all the sufferings and tribulations sent us from God? What will your impatience avail you? Will you thereby change or ease your sufferings? Do you thereby correct the faults of your neighbor? No; on the contrary, it makes suffering more oppressive, misfortune greater, and the erring neighbor more obstinate, so that he will ultimately refuse even mild and patient corrections. Besides impatience leads to many sins, to cursing, raillery, quarreling, contention, and murder. The pious Job gives us a good example of true patience and resignation to the will of God. He was a wealthy, respected, God-fearing man in the land of Hus, the father of seven sons and three daughters, and lived peacefully and happy. God wished to try him and permitted the devil to vent his entire rage upon him. Job was deprived of his children and all his property, and, finally, he was himself afflicted with the most painful disease of leprosy. But in the midst of all these dreadful misfortunes he remained calm. Naked, covered only with a few patches, he sits on a dunghill, a picture of misery, and yet no sound of murmuring comes from his lips, he does not curse, does not blaspheme God, but says resignedly: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord. To all this misery was added the baseness of his own wife, who came and mocked him, and of three intimate friends, who instead of consoling him, judged him falsely and said, that his misery was a just punishment from heaven. Still Job did not murmur against God's wise dispensations; with unshaken patience he faithfully confided in God, and he was not forsaken. God rewarded him well for his fidelity and patience; for He restored him to health, and gave him greater wealth than he had previously. See what patience can do, what reward is in store for it! And thou a Christian, a follower of Christ, the patient, crucified Lamb, art immediately irritated, become angry and morose at every little cross which you meet! Be ashamed of your weakness, and learn from the pious Job, to practice the virtue of patience, for patience proves hope, and hope permits us not to be put to shame. Patience always gains the victory, and will be rewarded in heaven. If you find yourself inclined to impatience, make every morning a firm resolution to battle bravely against this vice and often ask God for the virtue of patience in the following prayer:

O God who by the patience of Thy only-begotten Son hast humbled the pride of the old enemy, vouchsafe that devoutly considering what He has suffered for us we may cheerfully bear our adversities, through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, etc.


From Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine's "The Church's Year"
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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday - Day of Our Lady

QUEEN OF VIRGINS, PRAY FOR US

Mary is the Queen of virgins and the first one who glorified this virtue. In Jewish beliefs, it was the great honour to join through marriage the blood line of Messiah but Mary was different. Full of holy admiration, St Bernard says:"O prudent and holy Virgin, who taught you that virginity is most pleasing to God? Where is the Old Testament law advising it or praising it? You could not be aware of St Paul's words:" Therefore, both he that giveth his virgin in marriage, doth well; and he that giveth her not, doth better"(1 Cor 7, 38) . You did not know either the other words of the apostle of the gentiles: "Now concerning virgins, I have no commandment of the Lord; but I give counsel, as having obtained mercy of the Lord, to be faithful" (1 Cor 7, 25). YOU were the first to consecrate your virginity to God". These words of the Doctor of the Church say all. They induce in us the desire to honour the purity of virgins - followers of the Queen. We should never ever under any circumstances think or say anything against virginity, even if you feel strong contempt to a particular person living in this state because of her/his personality or external ways of piety observance that are not to our liking. Do you chop off the big and beautiful tree when you find several less attractive fruits? Look at our heavenly Queen and praise the virtue of virginity and do not try change the mind of anyone who feel the vocation to enter the consecrated life in the cloister. Let us always remember the words of St Paul: "But I would have you to be without solicitude. He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of the world, how she may please her husband."(1 Cor 7, 32-24)
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Friday, October 19, 2007

SAINT PETER of ALCANTARA
Franciscan Priest, Reformer (1499-1562)

Spiritual Bouquet: Be careful to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph. 4:3

Saint Peter was born in 1499 near the Portuguese border of Spain. While still a youth of sixteen, he left his home at Alcantara and entered a convent of Discalced Franciscans near Valencia. He rose quickly to high posts in the Order, as a guardian, a definitor, and then Superior of the Province of Saint Gabriel. But his thirst for penance was still unappeased, and in 1539, being then forty years old, he founded the Congregation of Saint Joseph of the “Strict Observance,” to conserve the letter of the Rule of Saint Francis. He suffered great tribulations to conserve that Rule in its integrity. Eventually Saint Peter himself, the year before his death, raised it to the status of a province under obedience to the Minister General of the entire Seraphic Order. The Reform he instituted has since been extended even to the farthest Orient and the Indies; it is believed God ordained that it repair the ravages to the faith of the sixteenth century. The modesty of Saint Peter remains proverbial in the Franciscan Order; never did he raise his eyes to look at the non-essentials of his interior life with God. His fast was constant and severe; he lived perpetually on bread and water alone, even during his illnesses. He devised a sort of harness to keep him upright on his seat during the short hour and a half of sleep which he took every day, for forty years. He acknowledged to Saint Teresa of Avila that this mortification was the one which cost him the most. The cells of the friars of Saint Joseph resembled graves rather than dwelling-places. That of Saint Peter himself was four and a half feet in length, so that he could never lie down; his sackcloth habit and a cloak were his only garments; he never covered his head or feet. In the bitter winter he would open the door and window of his cell in order that, by closing them again, he might be grateful for the shelter of his cell. Among those whom he guided to perfection we may name Saint Teresa, who fully appreciated this remarkable director. He read her soul, approved her spirit of prayer, and strengthened her to carry out her reforms. Everywhere he could do so, he planted crosses, for the Passion of Our Lord was engraved in his heart. Wherever they were to be placed, even on mountains, and however heavy they might be, he went to the destined sites carrying them on his shoulders. From these heights he would then preach the mysteries of the Cross, afterwards remaining in prayer there. Shepherds saw him several times in the air, at the height of the highest trees of the forests. Never did he go anywhere except on foot, even in his old age. He was often seen prostrated before a large crucifix, shedding torrents of tears; and he was found in ecstasy once at the height of the traverse of a crucifix. Saint Peter died at the age of sixty-three, repeating with the Psalmist, “I rejoiced when it was said unto me, let us go unto the house of the Lord!” The date was October 18, 1562; he was kneeling in prayer.

Reflection: If men do not go about barefoot now, nor undergo sharp penances as Saint Peter did, there remain many ways of trampling on the spirit of the world; and Our Lord teaches them, when He finds in souls the necessary courage.

Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 12; 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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"He was already very old when I met him for the first time," said St. Teresa. She continued: "He was thin and his skin seemed more like the bark of a withered tree. He used to speak only when he was addressed. He had very good sense, and his conversation was amiable and pleasant" These were the words of St. Peter of Alcantara when, after his death, he appeared to St. Teresa of Avila telling her what had been reserved for him in Heaven. She recounted those penances that the Saint himself had described to her when he was alive. For a period of 40 years he slept for only one and a half hours each day. To keep sleep from overcoming him, he used to remain standing or kneeling. When he permitted himself to sleep, he did so seated on a bench with his head resting on a block of wood fixed on the wall. He always went barefoot. His only clothing was his habit and a cape, and often in the winter he would take off his cape and keep the door and windows open to suffer the cold. He would eat only every three days. His poverty was extreme.

Comments of Prof. Plinio:
The figure of this Saint terrifies the new generations. I think that a few words are necessary to explain him.
First, his life proves that man can support much more suffering than one thinks. There are many people who came through the concentration camps in World War II and were reduced to skeletons. Afterward they became healthy and fat again, and still today many are alive and active everywhere in Europe. Second, one can see how mankind is deteriorating today, and can no longer support the same penances that St. Peter of Alcantara in the 16th century willingly took on himself. It seems that the ensemble of mankind is losing its strength, following the general degradation of the universe. The biological make-up, the biological fullness of man is becoming less than what it used to be. Third, one has to understand that besides the great human strength that permitted men of times past to suffer the way St. Peter of Alcantara did, there was also the role of grace. Many of things he did, he could not have done without a special grace, perhaps even a miracle, helping him. Without these graces he could not have led such a rigorous lifestyle.

Jay comment: In his book, "Golden treatise on mental prayer", wrote by St Peter
on request of many lay people, men and women, the Saint in very lovely and amicable style explains very clear that all should be prudent and careful not to damage health and strength of the body in practising external penancies. In this I agree with Prof. Oliveira comments that it was the special grace which allowed St Peter of Alcantara to suffer willingly so much for the love of God. I found it helpful explanation when the want of mortification exists, God Himself sometimes sends different sort of crosses both internal and external to recompense.

Fourth, one can ask why such severe penances as those taken on by St. Peter of Alcantara existed in the Catholic Church. There are reasons for that. Since man was able to support them, it offered a great glory for God that His sons and daughters would voluntarily suffer those penances for love of Him. Also it was indispensable that we have a record of such extraordinary penances so that we might understand how good and merciful God is when He does not ask us to do the same. He accommodates Himself to our weakness and misery. This is a reason to make us more grateful to Him.

Fifth, there is a touching contrast between the grandiose way of sanctity of St. Peter of Alcantara and the little way of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. She carried out the normal penances of a Carmelite nun, which were far from being the terrifying penances of St. Peter of Alcantara. Nonetheless, to die with tuberculosis at age 24 as she did implies a great deal of suffering. To have such an illness that corrodes the human organism in a certain sense is more trying than his great mortifications. But it was a different kind of suffering, a suffering of the little way, a suffering accessible to all, and not those tremendous self-imposed exercises of St. Peter of Alcantara, such as his decision to endure the winter cold in Spain. Many of you have no idea how strong and intense a cold wind in Spain is. He was pleased to suffer it for the love of God.

Sixth, someone could ask me: Are those penances of St. Peter of Alcantara something we should do? Certainly today we arenít call to make those grand physical penances. There is a form of suffering to which all of us are called, a kind of suffering that both St. Peter of Alcantara and St. Therese of the Child Jesus had to bear intensely. It is to endure sufferings of the spirit. It is to carry great spiritual crosses and endure the great sufferings of soul that accompany our apostolate.

I am sure that St. Peter of Alcantara, seeing the situation of the Franciscan Order at his time, suffered a lot. Such suffering was a strong stimulus for him to reform the Order, which he did. St. Therese of the Child Jesus also suffered greatly from living in a Convent where almost no one, including her superior, understood her. This represented a great cross. Also she voluntarily chose to offer herself in holocaust for love of God, which is indisputably a tremendous suffering.

All of us can relate in some way to this kind of suffering, especially if one takes seriously the great crisis that afflicts the ensemble of the Catholic Church. Such sufferings often appear on our pathways. We should support them with patience and joy because to be a Catholic is to be one who suffers. The Catholic who does not suffer is unworthy, his life futile. He does not follow the same path of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the path of the cross.

These are some considerations that I offer you admiring the penances of the great St. Peter of Alcantara. Let us ask him to help us to support the spiritual sufferings we are called to bear in as worthy and holy a way as he did with his grandiose physical and moral penances.

Today's main picture is by Giovanni Battista Pittoni "The Apotheosis of Saint Jerome with Saint Peter of Alcantara and an Unidentified Franciscan about 1725
St Jerome on a cloud is guided heavenwards by a guardian angel. His hand rests on a skull, symbolizing the transience of earthly life. The painting was made for an altar in the nave of the popular Venetian church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli. The church was run by Franciscan nuns and in the foreground is a Franciscan friar who can be identified as the renowned sixteenth-century Spanish preacher St Peter of Alcantara. He emphasizes the spiritual character of the event, experiencing the vision of St Jerome inwardly. The altarpiece, which was painted around 1725, was originally arched at the top.
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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

SAINT MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE
Virgin, Apostle of the Sacred Heart (1647-1690)

Spiritual Bouguet: Bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).

Saint Margaret Mary, a soul of divine predilection, was born at Terreau in Burgundy, on July 22, 1647. During her infancy she showed a wonderfully sensitive revulsion to the very idea of sin, and while still a young child always recited the entire Rosary every day. She lost her father at the age of eight years, and her mother placed her with the Poor Clares. She was often sick and for four years was bedridden, losing almost entirely the use of her members. She made a vow to Our Lady to become one of Her daughters if She cured her, and was suddenly entirely well. She was of a gay temperament and her heart became easily attached to human affections. God began her purification when the charge of her mother’s house was confided to persons who reduced the family to a sort of servitude. Margaret Mary turned to God for strength and consolation when she was accused of various crimes she had not committed. In short, the Saint of the Sacred Heart learned to suffer for Christ, with patience, what innocence can suffer in such situations. She desired to be a religious, but her mother could not bear to hear a word of that desire. Finally God came to her assistance through a Franciscan priest, who told her brother that he would answer to God for the vocation of his sister. In 1671 she entered the Order of the Visitation of Mary, at Paray-le-Monial, and was professed the following year. She followed all the practices of the monastery in perfect obedience, spending as much time as she could in the chapel with her Lord. After sanctifying her by many trials, Jesus appeared to her in numerous visions, displaying to her His Sacred Heart, sometimes burning as a furnace, and sometimes torn and bleeding on account of the coldness and sins of men. “Behold this Heart which has so loved men, and been so little loved by them in return!”In 1675, she was told by Our Lord that she, with the aid of Father Claude de la Colombiere of the Society of Jesus, was to be His instrument for instituting the feast of the Sacred Heart, and for spreading that devotion everywhere. This was not accomplished without great sufferings. The good Jesuit did all in his power to make known and loved the Heart of Jesus, but when it seemed all obstacles were about to disappear, his credit diminished, and his Superiors sent him to England. He returned to France exhausted and soon died. Saint Margaret Mary was for a time Mistress of Novices, and in this office exercised a true apostolate, working to win for the Heart of Jesus the hearts of the young girls who were aspiring to religious consecration. She was persecuted when she sent one of them home, not having seen in her the indications of a genuine vocation; the family attempted to have her deposed. She remained in the charge but was deprived of Holy Communion on the First Friday of the month. This practice was one of Our Lord’s specific requests; for souls who communicate nine First Fridays in succession, He promised the most wonderful graces. The demons also persecuted her visibly; nonetheless her entire Community was finally won over to devotion to the Divine Heart.

Saint Margaret Mary died at the age of forty-two years, on October 17, 1690, and everywhere was heard in the city: “The Saint is dead! The Saint is dead!” She was beatified in 1864 by Pope Pius IX, and canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

Reflection: Love for the Sacred Heart especially honors the Incarnation, and makes the soul grow rapidly in humility, generosity, patience, and union with its Beloved.

Sources: 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); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 12.

after www.magnificat.ca
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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

ST. GERARD MAJELLA - Patron Saint of expecting mothers. In Traditional Liturgical calendar today is the feast of St Gerard and I post this commemoration in thanksgiving to this great Saint for answering my prayers that, as I believe, resulted in very smooth and happy delivery of my second grandson.

GERARD was born in Muro, Italy, on April 23, 1726. His father, a tailor, died when the boy was twelve, leaving the family in poverty. Gerard could not join the Capuchins because of ill health, but he was accepted by the Redemptorists as a lay brother. He served as sacristan, gardener, porter, infirmarian and tailor.

Even during his life Gerard was called "the wonder-worker" because so many miraculous things happened through his intercession. He was given extraordinary knowledge. He had a heroic spirit of penance which caused him to suffer in silence when falsely accused of immoral conduct by an evil woman who later confessed her lie. Because of this or because he helped a woman on the verge of childbirth, be is invoked as a patron of expectant mothers.

Gerard died of tuberculosis in 1755 at the age of twenty-nine. His last request was that this small note be tacked to his door: "Here the will of God is done, as God wills, and as long as God wills." Brother Gerard was canonized by Pope St. Pius X, December 11, 1904.

Today's picture depicts St Gerard in conversation with St Alphonsus
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Monday, October 15, 2007

INTERIOR CASTLE CHAPTER THREE

Describes what is meant by the Prayer of Recollection, which the Lord generally grants before that already mentioned. Speaks of its effects and of the remaining effects of the former kind of prayer, which had to do with the consolations given by the Lord.

THE effects of this kind of prayer are numerous; some of them I shall explain. First of all, I will say something (though not much, as I have dealt with it elsewhere)[98] about another kind of prayer, which almost invariably begins before this one. It is a form of recollection which also seems to me supernatural for it does not involve remaining in the dark, or closing the eyes, nor is it dependent upon anything exterior. A person involuntarily closes his eyes and desires solitude; and, without the display of any human skill there seems gradually to be built for him a temple in which he can make the prayer already described; the senses and all external things seem gradually to lose their hold on him, while the soul, on the other hand, regains its lost control.

It is sometimes said that the soul enters within itself and sometimes that it rises above itself;[99] but I cannot explain things in that kind of language, for I have no skill in it. However, I believe you will understand what I am able to tell you, though I may perhaps be intelligible only to myself. Let us suppose that these senses and faculties (the inhabitants, as I have said, of this castle, which is the figure that I have taken to explain my meaning) have gone out of the castle, and, for days and years, have been consorting with strangers, to whom all the good things in the castle are abhorrent. Then, realizing how much they have lost, they come back to it, though they do not actually re-enter it, because the habits they have formed are hard to conquer. But they are no longer traitors and they now walk about in the vicinity of the castle. The great King, Who dwells in the Mansion within this castle, perceives their good will, and in His great mercy desires to bring them back to Him. So, like a good Shepherd, with a call so gentle that even they can hardly recognize it, He teaches them to know His voice and not to go away and get lost but to return to their Mansion; and so powerful is this Shepherd's call that they give up the things outside the castle which had led them astray, and once again enter it.

I do not think I have ever explained this before as clearly as here. When we are seeking God within ourselves (where He is found more effectively and more profitably than in the creatures, to quote Saint Augustine, who, after having sought Him in many places, found Him within)[100] it is a great help if God grants us this favour. Do not suppose that the understanding can attain to Him, merely by trying to think of Him as within the soul, or the imagination, by picturing Him as there. This is a good habit and an excellent kind of meditation, for it is founded upon a truth -- namely, that God is within us. But it is not the kind of prayer that I have in mind, for anyone (with the help of the Lord, you understand) can practise it for himself. What I am describing is quite different. These people are sometimes in the castle before they have begun to think about God at all. I cannot say where they entered it or how they heard their Shepherd's call: it was certainly not with their ears, for outwardly such a call is not audible. They become markedly conscious that they are gradually retiring[101] within themselves; anyone who experiences this will discover what I mean: I cannot explain it better. I think I have read that they are like a hedgehog or a tortoise withdrawing into itself[102]; and whoever wrote that must have understood it well. These creatures, however, enter within themselves whenever they like; whereas with us it is not a question of our will -- it happens only when God is pleased to grant us this favour. For my own part, I believe that, when His Majesty grants it, He does so to people who are already leaving the things of the world. I do not mean that people who are married must actually leave the world -- they can do so only in desire: His call to them is a special one and aims at making them intent upon interior things. I believe, however, that if we wish to give His Majesty free course, He will grant more than this to those whom He is beginning to call still higher.
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St. Teresa of Jesus
After Roman Breviary Lessons

The virgin Teresa was the daughter of a father and mother, equally honourable on account of their birth and of their godliness, and was born at Avila in Spain. She was brought up from the dawn of her life in the fear of God, and when still only seven years old she gave startling forecast of the holy earnestness of her later years. The reading of the acts of the holy martyrs so inflamed and excited her imagination, that she ran away from her father's house, with the design of going to Morocco and the hope there to lay down her life for the glory of Christ Jesus and the salvation of souls. She was met by an uncle and brought back to her mother, and was fain to slake her thirst for martyrdom by giving to the poor all the alms she could, and by other godly exercises, though still ever bewailing with tears that the highest prize had been snatched from her. Upon the death of her mother she besought the blessed Virgin to be a mother to her in her stead. This she gained ; thenceforth she lived always as a daughter under the shelter of the Mother of God. In the twentieth year of her age she withdrew herself among the nuns of St. Mary of Mount Carmel. There she dwelt for two-and-twenty years, tormented by grievous sicknesses and divers temptations, and so bravely served her time in the hardest ranks of Christ's army, starved even of that comforting knowledge of God's reconciled love, wherein his holy children are so commonly used even upon earth to rejoice.Strengthened in the graces of an angel, the wideness of her love embraced in its tender care the salvation of other souls as well as her own. To this end, under the blessing of God, and the approbation of Pius IV, she set, first before women and then before men, the observance of the stern Rule of the Old Carmelites. The blessing of the Almighty and merciful Lord did indeed rest most evidently upon this design. This penniless virgin, helped by no man, and in the teeth of many that were great in this world, was enabled to build two-and-thirty houses. The darkness of unbelievers and misbelievers drew from her unceasing tears, and she willingly gave up her own body to God to be tortured, to soften the fury of his indignation against them. His own love so blazed in her heart that she attained to see an Angel run her through with a fiery spear, and Christ himself take her by the hand, and to hear him say : Henceforth thou shalt love mine honour as a wife indeed. At his inspiration she took the extremely difficult vow to do always that which should seem to her to be most perfect. She wrote much, full of heavenly wisdom, whereby the minds of the faithful are enkindled to long for the Fatherland above.Earnest as were the ensamples of graces which she had shewn, and grievous as was the state of her body, afflicted by disease, she still burnt with the desire of tormenting it. She tortured it with sackcloth, chains of spikes, handfuls of nettles, and heavy scourging. She rolled herself sometimes among thorns, and was used to cry to God : Lord! to suffer, or to die! As long as she remained exiled from the heavenly Fountain of eternal life, her life was to her a lingering death. She was eminent for the gift of prophecy, and God did indeed so pour forth his bounties upon her, that she often cried to him in entreaty not to bless her so as to make her forget her sins. It was worn out rather by the fever of her love than by the wasting of disease that she sank upon her deathbed at Alva. She foretold the day of her own death, received the Sacraments of the Church, and exhorted her disciples to peace, love, and strictness in observing the Rule, and then her soul, like a pure dove, winged its flight to rest with God, on the 15th day of October in the year 1582, New Style, being then 67 years of age. At her death she had a vision of Christ Jesus surrounded by Angels. A dead tree hard by the cell instantly broke into foliage. Her body is untouched by corruption even unto this day, and lieth in a sort of perfumed oil, regarded with godly reverence. She was famous for miracles both before and after her death, and was numbered by Gregory XV, among the Saints.


The photos represent the view of town of Avila and the family house of St. Teresa
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