Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Veni Creator Spiritus, Veni Sancte Spiritus



We begin New Year singing hymn in honour of the Holy Spirit, Veni Creator Spiritus. Happy and blessed New Year!





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BIRD CAGE OF THE INFANT JESUS

Beautiful poem of St Therese where she compares Carmelites to little birds enclosed in the Child Jesus' birdcage and singing lovingly songs to Him to be rewarded with the sweetest smile of the Holy Child.




For us, poor exiles from our birth,
God made the pretty little birds;
Among the hills and dales of earth
They sing His praises without words;
But sometimes playful childish hands,
Choosing the ones they like the best,
Keep them in cages, where the bands
Are gilded bars for these oppressed.
O Jesus, little Brother dear!
For us from Heaven didst Thou flee;
Thou knowest well Thy birdcage here
Is Carmel, and Thy birds are we.


Our cage is gilded not at all,
Yet oh! how precious 'tis to me!
To hill or plain from its high wail
Not one of us would wish to flee.
Let not the outer world intrude!
No joy to us it now could bring.
Child Jesus! in our solitude
For Thee, for Thee alone, we sing.
Thy tiny hand has us beguiled;
Thy infant charms no words can tell;
Thy smile, most sweet and Holy Child!

Has won Thy birds to love Thee well.
Here finds the simple, candid soul
The only object of its love;
Here is the vulture's fierce control
No longer dreaded by the dove.
Upon the wings of burning prayer
The ardent heart ascends on high,
As swift the lark doth cleave the air,
With sweet, enraptured, joyful cry.
Here, in Thy praises to engage,
The nightingale and veery came.
O Little Jesus! in Thy cage
Thy birds are carolling Thy Name.
The little bird it always sings,

Nor fear for its small meal doth know;
A grain of wheat contentment brings;
It sows not, spins not, here below.
Within this cage where we have fled,
Is all provided through Thy care;
The one thing needful, Thou hast said,
Is just to love Thee, Child most fair!
So, through the hours, we sing Thy praise,
With glad, pure spirits ever blest.
We know the angels, all the days,
Love Carmel's birds within their nest.
Jesu! Thy bitter tears to dry,
That sinful men have wrung from Thee,

Thy birds to win back souls will try,
By their sweet songs of ecstasy.
One day, when earth and time are o'er,
And Thy clear call to us is given,
Then angel hands shall open the door;
Thy birds shall take their flight to Heaven;
And there, with charming, songful hosts
Of little cherubs glad and gay,
Thy happy birds from Carmel's coasts



Taken from 'The poetry Of St Therese of Lisieux'
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To the Child Jesus - St Therese



O Little Child Jesus! My only Treasure. I abandon myself to Your Divine Whims. I want no other joy than that of making You smile. Imprint on me Your childish virtues and graces so that on the day of my birth into heaven, the angels and saints may recognize Your little bride.

(St Therese "Prayers of St Therese of Lisieux")




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Monday, December 29, 2008

Feast of St Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury - click for link



Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit you out of My mouth. Apoc 3:16

Saint Thomas, son of an English nobleman, Gilbert Becket, was born on the day consecrated to the memory of Saint Thomas the Apostle, December 21, 1117, in Southwark, England. He was endowed by both nature and grace with gifts recommending him to his fellow men; and his father, certain he would one day be a great servant of Christ, confided his education to a monastery.



His first employment was in the government of the London police. There he was obliged to learn the various rights of the Church and of the secular arm, but already he saw so many injustices imposed upon the clergy that he preferred to leave that employment rather than to participate in iniquity. He was perfectly chaste and truthful, and no snares could cause to waver his hatred for any form of covert action. He was employed then by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who sent him on missions to Rome and permitted him to study civil law at the University of Bologna (Italy) for an entire year. After a few years, witnessing his perfect service, he made him his Archdeacon and endowed him with several benefices. The young cleric’s virtue and force soon recommended him also to the king, who made of him his Lord Chancellor. In that high office, while inflexible in the rendition of justice, he was generous and solicitous for the relief of misery. He was severe towards himself, spending the better part of every night in prayer. In a war with France he won the respect of his enemies, including that of the young king Louis VII. To Saint Thomas, his own sovereign, Henry II, confided the education of the crown prince. Of the formation of the future king and the young lords who composed his suite, the Chancellor took extreme care, knowing well that the strength of a State depends largely on the early impressions received by the elite of its youth. When Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury died, the king insisted on the consecration of Saint Thomas in his stead. Saint Thomas at first declined, warning the king that from that hour their friendship would be threatened by his own obligations to uphold the rights of the Church against infringement by the sovereign, whose tendencies were not different from those of his predecessors. In the end he was obliged by obedience to yield. The inevitable conflict was not long in coming. Saint Thomas resisted when the king’s courtiers drew up a list of royal “customs” at Clarendon, where the parliament of the king was assembled, and Henry obliged all the bishops as well as the lords to sign a promise to uphold these without permitting any restrictions whatsoever. Many of these pretended “customs” violated the liberties of the Church, and some were even invented for the occasion. Saint Thomas, obliged in conscience to resist, was soon the object of persecution, not only from the irritated king but by all who had sworn loyalty to his nefarious doings. Saint Thomas took refuge in France under the protection of the generous Louis VII, who resisted successfully the repeated efforts of Henry to turn away his favor from the Archbishop. The Pope at that time was in France, and he, too, was besieged by Henry’s emissaries, but knew well how to pacify minds and protect the defender of the Church. Thomas retired to a Benedictine monastery for two years, and when Henry wrote a threatening letter to its abbot, moved to another. After six years, his office restored as the Pope’s apostolic legate, a title which Henry had wrested from him for a time, he returned to England, to preach again and enforce order in his see. He knew well that it was to martyrdom that he was destined; it is related that the Mother of God appeared to him in France to foretell it to him, and that She presented him for that intention with a red chasuble. By this time the persecuted Archbishop’s case was known to all of Christian Europe, which sympathized with him and elicited from king Henry an appearance of conciliation. A few words which the capricious Henry spoke to certain courtiers who hated Thomas, sufficed for the latter to decide to do away with the prelate who contravened all their unchristian doings. They violated a monastic cloister and chapel to enter there while he was assisting at Vespers; the Saint himself prevented the monks from resisting the assassins at the door. Refusing to flee the church as the assassins summoned him to do, he was slain before the altar, by cruel and murderous repeated blows on the head. He died, saying: “I die willingly, for the name of Jesus and for the defense of the Church.” The actions of the Pope in this conflict make clear what all of history teaches: the lives of the Church’s Saints themselves comprise the history of the world. The humility of Thomas had prompted him, after a moment of weakness he had manifested in a difficult situation, to judge himself unfit for his office and offer his resignation as Archbishop. The Pope did not hesitate a moment in refusing his resignation. He judged with apostolic wisdom that if Thomas should be deprived of his rank for having opposed the unjust pretensions of the English royalty, no bishop would ever dare oppose the impingements of iniquity on the Church’s rights, and the Spouse of Christ would be no longer sustained by marble columns, but by reeds bending in the wind.

The martyred Archbishop was canonized by Pope Alexander III on Ash Wednesday, 1173, not yet three years after his death on December 29, 1170, to the edification of the entire Church.

Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 14.
Today's image is altarpiece 'Martyrdom of St. Thomas of Canterbury (St. Thomas Becket)' painted by German Meister Francke, Hamburg.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday within Octave of Christmas



Luke 2: 33-40
And his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel and for a sign which shall be contradicted.

And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser. She was far advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow until fourscore and four years: who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day. Now she, at the same hour, coming in, confessed to the Lord: and spoke of him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel. And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth. And the child grew and waxed strong, full of wisdom: and the grace of God was in him.


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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Feast of St John the Evangelist

John 21: 20-24.
Peter turning about, saw that disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also leaned on his breast at supper and said: Lord, who is he that shall betray thee? Him therefore when Peter had seen, he saith to Jesus: Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith to him: So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? Follow thou me. This saying therefore went abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. And Jesus did not say to him: He should not die; but: So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things and hath written these things: and we know that his testimony is true.

Tradition says that St John the Evangelist was one of Christ's original twelve apostles; the only one to live into old age; and not martyred for his faith. He is said to have lived and been buried in Ephesus. While on exile to Patmos he wrote the Book of Revelation, however, some scholars attributes the authorship to John of Patmos or John the Presbyter.

John was the brother of James the Greater and in the Scriptures, the two brothers are often called after their father "the sons of Zebedee" and Christ gave them the title of Boanerges, or "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17). Originally they were fishermen and with their father fished in the Lake of Genesareth. For a time they became disciples of John the Baptist, and were called by Christ, together with Peter and Andrew, to become His disciples (John 1:35-42) and remained for some time with Jesus (John 2:12,22; 4:2,8,27). After the second return from Judea, John and his companions went back to their original trade until they were called again by Christ to definitive discipleship (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20). John, Peter, James witnessed the raising of Jairus's daughter (Mark 5:37), of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1), and of the Agony in Gethsemani (Matthew 26:37). John and Peter were sent by Jesus into the city to make the preparation for the Last Supper (Luke 22:8) and at the Supper John's place was next to Christ on Whose breast he leaned (John 13:23, 25). John was also that "other disciple" who with Peter followed Christ after the arrest into the palace of the high-priest, Anas (John 18:15). John alone remained near his beloved Master at the foot of the Cross on Calvary with the Mother of Jesus and the pious women. After crucifixion, John took Mary into his care as the last legacy of Christ (John 19:25-27). After the Resurrection, together with Peter, John were the first of the disciples to hasten to the grave and the first to believe that Christ had truly risen (John 20:2-10). When later Christ appeared at the Lake of Genesareth John was also the first of the seven disciples present who recognized his Master standing on the shore (John 21:7). The Fourth Evangelist has shown us most clearly how close he always stood to his Lord and Master by the title with which he is accustomed to indicate himself without giving his name: "the disciple whom Jesus loved". After Christ's Ascension and the Descent of the Holy Spirit, John took, together with Peter, a prominent part in the founding and guidance of the Church. We see him in the company of Peter at the healing of the lame man in the Temple (Acts 3:1) and with Peter he is also thrown into prison (Acts 4:3).

John with the other Apostles remained some twelve years in Palestine until the persecution of Herod Agrippa which led to the scattering of the Apostles through the various provinces of the Roman Empire (Acts 12:1-17). Possibly, at that time, John went for the first time to Asia Minor and exercised his Apostolic office in various provinces there. He returned with the other disciples to Jerusalem for the Apostolic Council (about A.D. 51). St. Paul in opposing his enemies in Galatia names John explicitly along with Peter and James the Just as a "pillar of the Church", and refers to the recognition which his Apostolic preaching of a Gospel free from the law received from these three, the most prominent men of the old Mother-Church at Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9). When Paul came again to Jerusalem (Acts 18:22; 21:17) he seems no longer to have met John there who may already left the Palestine. Both the Epistles of John and the Apocalypse, presuppose that their author, John, eyewitnessed the life and work of Christ (1 John 1:1-5; 4:14), that he had lived for a long time in Asia Minor, that he was thoroughly acquainted with the conditions existing in the various Christian communities there, and that he had a position of authority recognized by all Christian communities as leader of this part of the Church. Moreover, the Apocalypse tells us that its author was on the island of Patmos "for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus", when he was honoured with the heavenly Revelation contained in the Apocalypse (Revelation 1:9).

Picture is 'St John at Patmos' by Hieronimus Bosch

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Friday, December 26, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!


Best wishes to all visitors and followers of this blog!
For prayers in honour of the Infant Jesus please -





Daily Prayer to Infant Jesus up to the Feast of Epiphany
Our most lovable Lord Jesus Christ, Who, becoming an Infant for us, didst vouchsafe to be born in a stable to free us from the darkness of sin, to draw us more closely to Thee, and to inflame us with Thy holy love, we adore Thee as our Creator and Redeemer, we acknowledge and choose Thee for our King and Lord, and we offer to Thee the tribute of all the affections of our poor hearts. Dear Jesus, Our Lord and God, deign to accept this offering, and, in order that it may be worthy of Thy gracious acceptance, forgive us our sins, enlighten us, inflame us with that holy fire which Thou didst come to bring into the world to enkindle in our hearts. May our souls thus become a perpetual sacrifice in Thy honor; grant that we may always seek thy greater glory here on earth, in order that we may one day come to enjoy the beauty of Thy infinite perfections in Heaven. Amen.


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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Oh come, let us adore Him!



When he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith: And let all the angels of God adore him. And to the angels indeed he saith: He that maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire. But to the Son: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of justice is the sceptre of thy kingdom. (Heb 1:6-8)

The words of an old hymn sum up this scene of Christ's nativity. Born to the Virgin Mary who, together with her husband Joseph, knew of his divine origin, Christ was immediately the object of both love and veneration.


Here Mary and Joseph are joined by two other worshippers, the Virgin Mary's mother, Anna, who is often shown wearing a green cloak over a red robe (green symbolizing spring and rebirth; red standing for love). The younger man may represent one of the shepherds who first heard of Christ's birth from an angel. As they crowd the Christ Child, they responds to him with gestures of surprise and veneration.


The painter of this noble scene is Matthias Stomer, one of the last Dutch followers of Caravaggio, who worked in Italy most of his adult life.

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Christmas Devotions in Honour of the Infancy of Jesus - 25th December - 2nd January - click for link



Behold the dear Infant Jesus, and adore Him fervently. Contemplate His poverty, and humility, in imitation of His most holy Mother and of Saint Joseph. Repose near Him as sweetly as you can, He will not fail to love your heart, void as you find it of tenderness and feeling. Nothing will be wanting to you, since you will be in the presence of that holy Infant. Abide there, and learn of Him how meek and humble He is, how simple and amiable. See how lovingly He has written your name in the depth of His Divine Heart, which beats on that couch of straw from the impassioned zeal it has for our advancement, and heaves not one single sigh unto His Father in which you have not a part, nor a single movement of His spirit except for your happiness - Saint Francis de Sales

Picture by Guido Reni - St Joseph holding the Infant Jesus




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Christmas Day - click for link




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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Nativity Masterpieces





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Christmas Eve


"Let us therefore make him a little chamber, and put a little bed in it for him and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick, that when he cometh to us, he may abide there"(4 Kings 4:13)
Such was the Sunamite woman's regard for the prophet Eliseus, that she would make such preparations for his entertainment! Will we do as much for Christ who is ready to come to us? Take pains, O Christian, to occupy this night in pious thoughts, and aspirations, for the love of God and for the good of your own soul, making yourself worthy to receive the graces which He is ready when He comes, to give you. Think how Mary, who was near her time, and Joseph her spouse obedient to the Imperial command, and perfectly submissive to the will of God, journeyed with the greatest inconvenience to Bethlehem, and when, because of the multitude of people, they found no place to receive them they took refuge, as God willed it, in a most miserable stable, at the extreme end of the town. What love does not the Savior deserve, who for love of us so humbled Himself!


COLLECT
O God, who makest us rejoice in the yearly expectation of the feast of our redemption: grant, that we who cheerfully receive Thy only-begotten Son as a Redeemer, may behold without fear the same Lord Jesus Christ, coming as our judge. Through our Lord.

Beautiful Nativity scene was painted by Geertgen Tot Sint Jans
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

St John the Baptist preparing the way of the Lord



Luke 3:1-6
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina.




Under the high priests Anna and Caiphas: the word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins. As it was written in the book of the sayings of Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways plain. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Pictures of St John the Baptist preaching in the desert are by Bartholomeus Breenbergh and Harmenszoon van Rijn Rembrandt


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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fourth Sunday of Advent - click for link





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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ember Saturday, instructions and explanations - click for link




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Saturday - Our Lady's Day


And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria.


And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David, To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:2-7)

Picture is an Altarpiece painting by Christus Petrus

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St John Vianney, the Cure of Ars "The Little Catechism - Exhortations and Explanations" - click for link


Advent should be spent best in reflection and recollection both in preparation for joyful celebration of the coming of the Word Incarnate into this world and in expectation for the second Coming of Our Lord. This is also perfect time for devotion to Our Lady and the coming Feast of Immaculate Conception may bring many graces to the faithfuls.
For reflections, prayers, Novenas please follow the link: Seasonal Devotions-Advent

I will try my best to limit posting during the Season of Advent in the spirit of self-denial and I will pray for the visitors and followers of this blog and ask for your prayers.

Picture is 'Judgement' by Hieronimus Bosch.




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Friday, December 12, 2008

Sometimes when I am in such a state of spiritual dryness that not a single good thought occurs to me, I say very slowly the "Our Father," or the "Hail Mary," and these prayers suffice to take me out of myself. St Therese of Lisieux





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Monday, December 08, 2008

Feast of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary


On this day and the ensuing eight days, the Catholic Church celebrates with special solemnity the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

What does the Catholic Church understand by the Immaculate Conception?


By the Immaculate Conception she does not understand that great grace by which Mary preserved herself pure from every, even the least, actual sin; for, as concerns this, the Church has long since declared that Mary never sinned: nor does she understand by it her continual virginity, for it has been for a long time a doctrine of faith that both before and after the birth of her divine Son Mary remained a pure virgin; nor yet that she was sanctified before birth; as were the Prophets Jeremias and John the Baptist, who were both conceived in sin, but by a special grace of God were released from it before their birth; neither does she understand by it the conception of Christ from the Holy Ghost, that is, that Mary unstained conceived the Son of God of the Holy Ghost; and without the assistance of man, for this was always the unalterable doctrine of the Church: she does understand by it that exalted favor, that unshared privilege, by which the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first moments of her conception, by a special grace and favor on the part of God in reference to the merits of Jesus, our Saviour, was preserved from every stain of original sin.

What has until now been held by the Church in regard to this privilege?
The Catholic Church has always been of the pious opinion that Mary, the blessed Mother of the Redeemer, was conceived immaculate, that her most pure soul had never from the first moment of her existence the least shadow of sin. This doctrine was embraced by all the saints, the most learned and most faithful children of the Church. We have testimony of this, as far back as the times of the apostles, in a document concerning the sufferings of St. Andrew, in which it is said: "As the first man was created from the spotless earth, so was it necessary that the perfect man (Christ Jesus) should be born of an immaculate virgin." St. Justin, who died a martyr in the year 167 after Christ, compares the Blessed Virgin to Eve, before she sinned and while she was still a virgin. St. Amphilochus says: "He who created the first Eve free from shame, created the second without spot or stain." Origen, one of the Fathers of the Church, writes that she was neither surprised by the personated serpent, nor infected by his poison, and calls her a pure and immaculate mother. St. Ephrem calls her the undefiled, the strong, the inviolate, the most chaste virgin, far removed from all spot and stain. The Abbot St. Sabbas says of Mary: "On thee who never took part in any guile, I place my hope. No one but thou, O Lady, is without fault, and besides'thee no one is unsullied and spotless." St. Ambrose calls Mary a virgin who by the grace of God remained always free from all shadow of sin. St. Augustine says: "When there is mention made of sin, the Virgin of whom on account of our Lord no question is to be asked, must be excepted." St. Proclus says, "that the holy Mother of God was made by the purest God free from all stain." St. Fulgentius says: "The wife of the first man was led astray and her soul soiled toy the malice of sin, but in the mother of the second (Christ) the grace of God preserved the soul as well as the body inviolate." St. Paschasius Radbertus testifies: "It is certain that Mary was free from original sin;" and St. Peter Barman says: "The flesh of the Virgin taken from Adam, would not submit to the stain of Adam," and before him the pious Doctor Alcuin wrote of Mary: "Thou art beautiful as the moon and free from all spot and every shadow of changeableness!" And St. Ildephonsus says: "It is certain that Mary was free from original sin." An immense number of saintly men and theologians maintained the same. Many of them argued with the greatest keenness and the most indefatigable zeal the part of the Blessed Virgin; the teachers at the universities of Paris, Salamanca, Coimbra, Naples, Cologne, Mayence, Ingolstadt, &c., made it their duty by vows to inculcate this great privilege of the most favored Virgin, and to defend it by speech and by writings. Celebrated orders of monks, especially the orders of St. Benedict, St. Francis and St. Ignatius, made it their duty to advance this pious faith of the Immaculate Conception among the people. A great number of popes and bishops also honored the Immaculate Conception, and forbade the contrary doctrine to be taught. Even kings, princes and emperors counted it a great honor to pay homage to the Immaculate Conception of the Queen of Heaven. Finally, the Catholic Church gave definite expression to this universal belief, by declaring in the Council of Trent, that in the resolutions relating to original sin, the Virgin Mary was not included, and she confirmed the festival of the Immaculate Conception, introduced in the tenth century by St. Anselm, the worthy son of the great St. Benedict, and since that time observed in all the Churches. This veneration for the Immaculate Conception, this pious view held by the whole Catholic Church was not yet a matter of faith, that is, the Catholic Church had not yet laid down this great privilege of the Mother of God as a dogma. We were not commanded to believe it, although to preach or teach against it was forbidden. But when, in the course of time, a large number of the faithful, among whom were archbishops, bishops, whole religious orders, as well as great monarchs, besought the pope as head of the Church to pronounce concerning the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, that is, to elevate the belief so widely spread throughout the Catholic Church to a dogma, the pope could no longer hesitate to raise his voice in regard to this most important affair.

What did the supreme pastor of the Church, the pope, then do in regard to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin?
Pope Pius IX. who, as he himself testified, had in many ways experienced the assistance of the great Queen of Heaven, was urged by his love and childlike veneration for the Blessed Mother of our Lord, to set the last brilliant diamond in her crown of glory by declaring the Immaculate Conception an article of faith. Not wishing to be precipitate, he first addressed a circular to all the primates, patriarchs, archbishops and bishops, of the whole Catholic world, February 2, 1849, requesting them to send him reports of the devotion of their clergy and the faithful concerning the Immaculate Conception, and the extent of their desire in the matter, that the case might be decided by the Apostolic See; at the same time he urged them to pray with him that God would give him the necessary enlightenment, and to call upon the clergy and the faithful for their prayers. When this was done, five hundred bishops in different parts of the world declared that they and their flocks firmly believed that Mary, the most favored Virgin, was preserved from every stain of original sin, and that they earnestly desired that the pope might raise this pious opinion to a dogma of the Church. Then the holy father, filled with delight, invited the bishops of the different countries to Rome, to consult with him upon the matter. About one hundred and fifty bishops, and a large number of learned men and superiors of spiritual orders, met at Rome and the whole subject was once more maturely examined; and at last, the 8th of December, 1854, the day on which the Church celebrates the feast of the Immaculate Conception, was appointed as the day on which the pope, the supreme head of the Church, the mouth of the apostles, should solemnly announce the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. On this day the holy father ascended the Apostolic Chair in the splendid Church of St. Peter at Rome, and surrounded by the assembled cardinals, archbishops, and bishops, the clergy and the people he once more invoked the light of the Holy Ghost, and amid the perfect silence which reigned in that immense church, the holy father in a loud voice and with the most profound reverence and emotion read the decree by which he solemnly pronounced and established, that:

"It is an article of faith that the Blessed Virgin Mary by a special grace and privilege of God, on account of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, was from the first instant of her conception protected and preserved from every stain of original sin."

Thus has the head of Catholic Christianity drawn aside the veil, which until then obscured the full glory of the Queen of Heaven, which now shines in stainless loveliness radiant over the whole world. The truth that the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived immaculate is no longer a pious opinion, but an article of faith which every Catholic who wishes to remain a child of the Church, must profess with heart and with lips.

But, perhaps the decision of the pope concerning the Immaculate Conception is a new doctrine?
By no means; it is an old belief, established upon the holy Scriptures and laid down in the bosom of the Church, but not solemnly pronounced and made public previously. The pope cannot make a new article of faith, but he can and must announce that, as a revealed truth, which is established by the holy Scriptures and has been everywhere and at all times believed as a revealed truth by all true Christians. But if there is a truth founded on the holy Scriptures and tradition, of which the pope, the representative of Christ on earth, speaks officially, then every Catholic is bound to believe and openly to acknowledge the same. As we have already seen, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception has been believed since the time of the apostles, and it is also established by the Scriptures. In the oldest of the sacred Books, in the Book of Genesis, (iii. 15.) is one of the most weighty passages on this subject which reads: I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed; she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. After the fall of the first man, God spoke to the serpent, Satan, announcing that a woman would come and crush his head, that is, destroy his power; and all Catholic interpreters and holy Fathers agree that this woman is the Blessed Virgin. Mary is, therefore, placed by God Himself as Satan's enemy, and must have been free from original sin from the first moment of her conception, otherwise she would have been, as St. Paul, the Apostle, says, a child of God's wrath and under the power of Satan. In the gospel of St. Luke, (i. 28.) it is further said: And the Angel being come in, said unto her: Hail full of grace: the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women. The angel, by the direction of God, called Mary full of grace, that is, more than any of the just endowed with God's sanctifying grace, as the holy Fathers agree. But would Mary be full of sanctifying and all other graces, had she for one moment of her life been without grace and burdened with sin? Would God have permitted the Blessed Mother of His only begotten Son, from whom He received flesh, to be touched by sin, even though for an instant, and be in the power of Satan? No; God's hand preserved her; by His grace and by the infinite merits of her divine Son she remained free from every stain of sin, and the Church most justly applies to her the words of holy Scripture:
Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee. (Cant. iv. 7.)

What instructive meaning has the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin for every Catholic?
The Immaculate Conception teaches Catholics to know in some measure the infinite sanctity of the holy Trinity which makes sin so hateful and detestable to Him. The Heavenly Father could not see His beloved daughter for one moment stained by sin. The Divine Son could not wish to choose for His mother a virgin upon whose soul there was a vestige of sin. The Holy Ghost whose most pure bride Mary is, was not willing that her heart, His dwelling-place, should ever be for one instant soiled by sin. Behold how God detests sin! The Immaculate Conception also teaches us the inestimable treasure of sanctifying grace. Mary received this priceless treasure from God even in the first moment of her conception, without it she would never have become the Mother of the Saviour. Thou, my Christian, hadst not this treasure at thy conception, it is true, but thou didst receive it in holy baptism; there God's hand arrayed thee in the white garment of innocence; there He sanctified thy soul, and the Holy Ghost selected it for His dwelling-place. Mary preserved this inestimable treasure until death, she was always blooming as a pure lily, the breath of sin never soiled her loveliness. Ask thyself: Do I still possess this treasure, which was given to me in holy baptism; have I preserved my soul's beauty from the poison of sin, have I soiled it, destroyed it, lost it? Oh, if thou hast lost this precious gift, how unhappy art thou! if thou hast had this great misfortune to have stained thy garment of baptismal innocence by sin, Mary, the peerless virgin, has borne for thee the Saviour whose precious blood cleanses from every sin, whose infinite merits will restore to thee sanctifying grace, if thou art contrite and dost confess thy sin. But for the Saviour this treasure would be forever lost to thee, and thy soul forever forfeited. But for this Saviour Mary would not have been preserved from original sin, would not have received sanctifying grace at her conception. We can here learn the necessity cf salvation through Christ, gratefully thank God who has given it to us, and praise Mary who had the grace to conceive and give birth to Him. In the Immaculate Conception, O Christian, thou canst learn to know something of the priceless value of virginity. Jesus chose a pure and immaculate virgin for His mother, who should be the mirror of all virginal souls, her most pure and immaculate image should be continually presented to the corrupted world to show how virginity is esteemed in the eyes of our Lord.

INTROIT I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God: for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation: and with the robe of justice He hath covered me, as a bride adorned with her jewels. (Isai. Ixi. 10.) I will extol Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast upheld me: and hast not made my Enemies to rejoice over me. f/fr.xxix.) Glory ect.

COLLECT O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, didst prepare a worthy habitation for Thy Son: we beseech Thee, that as Thou didst through the foreseen death of Thy same Son, preserve her from all stain, so Thou wilt also grant that we may reach Thee cleansed through her intercession. Through the same Jesus etc.

LESSON (Prov. viii. 22—35.) The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before he made any thing, from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old, before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived: neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out: the mountains with their huge bulk had not as yet been established: before the hills I was brought forth: he had not yet made the earth, nor the rivers, nor the poles of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was present; when, with a certain law and compass, he enclosed the depths; when he established the sky above, and poised the fountains of waters; when he compassed the sea with its bounds, and set a law to the waters, that they should not pass their limits; when he balanced the foundations of the earth. I was with him, forming all things, and was delighted every day, playing before him at all times, playing in the world; and my delights were to be with the children of men. Now, therefore, ye children, hear me: Blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my door. He that shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.

EXPLANATION AND APPLICATION This lesson is first a panegyric on the divine, uncreated Wisdom, the eternal Son of God, who at all times and before all things was with God and in God, by whom was made everything that was made, ordered and preserved; who rejoices in His works, loves them, and who admonishes man to love and imitate Him, and promises him eternal and temporal happiness. The Church causes this lesson to be read on this day, because the greater part of it can be applied to Mary; for it can truly be said of her, that she, as the most holy and excellent of all creatures, possessed the first place in the heart of God. For this reason the Church applies to her the words of the wise man: I came out of the mouth of the most High, the first-born before all creatures. (Ecclus. xxiv. 5.) For, as St. Richard says, she is the most worthy of all; no one has received so full a measure of purity, and of all supernatural gifts; in no creature are the marvels of divine goodness so visible as in her. Admire, devout soul, this master-piece of Almighty God, and make frequent use of the words of St. Chrysostom:

"Hail Mother of God and our Mother! Hail O Heaven in which God Himself dwells! O Throne of grace from which the Lord distributes His graces! Pray always to Jesus for us, that on the Day of Judgment we may receive forgiveness and eternal salvation."

GOSPEL. (Luke i. 26—28.) at that time, The angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And the Angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women.

Why is this gospel read today?
Because it has a significant relation to the Immaculate Conception, and proclaims the great honor shown to the Blessed Virgin by these words: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women.

Why did the angel call Mary full of grace?
Because Mary was filled with grace, even before she came into this world; because she always increased in grace; because she was to bear the Author of all grace; that we may consider how Mary obtains for us the treasures of divine grace. Mary was filled with grace even before her birth. As we are all conceived in sin, being children of a sinful ancestor, we are, therefore, burdened by sin before our birth. Mary was free by the privilege of the Immaculate Conception from all sin; her soul, pure and adorned with sanctifying grace, came forth from the hands of the Creator, and without the least prejudice to its purity and sanctity was united to her most pure body, from which the Saviour was to take His humanity. She could not from the first instant of her existence be wanting in that original sanctity and justice, which were the most beautiful adornments of our natural ancestress, Eve. But Mary from the first moment of her conception was not only in grace but full of grace, because God appointed her for the highest dignity, of being the Mother of His only-begotten Son, and had consequently endowed her with the full measure of corresponding plenitude of graces and gifts of the Holy Ghost; according to the opinion of many learned men, the measure of grace which the Blessed Virgin received at her Immaculate Conception, was greater than that which all the angels and blessed possess now in glory. Mary ever increased in grace: But the path of the just, as a shining light, goeth forward and increaseth even to perfect day. (Prov. iv. 18.) These words of the Holy Ghost are verified especially in the life of the Blessed Virgin. What abundance of grace did she not receive, when the Holy Ghost overshadowed her, and the divine Son, who is Himself the infinite plenitude of grace, was conceived in her most pure body! Above all this, there yet came that rich supply of grace by which her zealous, constant, perfect and faithful cooperation made Mary increase every moment in grace. Thus St. Bonaventure says: "As all the waters meet in the sea, so all the graces were united in Mary."

Why did the angel say to Mary: The Lord is with thee?
Because God is with the Blessed Virgin in an extraordinary manner. It is well to notice particularly, that the archangel Gabriel did not say to Mary as the angel did to Gideon: The Lord be with thee, (Judges vi. 12.) but: The Lord is with thee. These words are not, therefore, the wish that the favor, the blessing, the protection of God may be with Mary, but the positive declaration that the Lord really is with her, not simply because of His omnipotence and omnipresence by which He is with all His creatures, nor merely because of His goodness, love and intimacy by which He is with all the just. He is with her in a peculiar manner, since she by her dignity of being the Mother of God came into such close relationship with the Triune God that our intellect can conceive nothing nearer. She became the chosen Mother of the Son of God, the dearest, the most favored daughter of the Heavenly Father, and the pure, beloved bride of the Holy Ghost. "God the Father was with her," says St. Bonaventure, "as with His most noble Daughter; God the Son was with her as with His most worthy Mother; God the Holy Ghost was with her as with His most pure Bride."

Why did the angel say to Mary: Blessed art thou amongst women?
Because he desired to honor her as the most blessed of her sex, since she alone was chosen of all the others to be the Mother of God; because the first woman brought the curse, but Mary, the salvation of the world.
Mary, Mother of God! An honor, indeed, which in its exaltation is second only to divinity. Mary, the Virgin Mother of God! Mother and Virgin at the same time, what a wonderful prerogative! Though the greatest and most glorious of all mothers, she is the purest and most spotless of virgins, the queen of virgins.
But not only on account of her double glory as Mother of God and as a Virgin, Mary is the most blessed of her sex, but because it was given to her to mediate for us and for the whole world. She is that woman, promised to our first and sinful parents in Paradise, who would crush the serpent's head; she gave to her Son the body with which He, by His death on the cross, accomplished the great work of salvation.

ACT OF PRAISE
"Praised and blessed be the holy and Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary!"
(Pope Pius VI. granted an indulgence of one hundred days to those who, with contrition and devotion repeat the above act of praise.)


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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Immaculate Conception Novena - starts today


Praying Novena piously may bring aboundant graces on devotees if it be the Divine will. (29 Nov - 7th Dec)
For link to Traditional Immaculate Conception Novena CLICK HERE


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Second Sunday in Advent





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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Saturday - Day of Our Lady and coming Feast of Immaculate Conception


REGINA SINE LABE ORIGINALI CONCEPTA

And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars (Apoc 12:1).


Behold, thou art fair, O my love; behold, thou art fair (Cant. 1:14).
Thou wast perfect in Thy ways from the day of thy creation (Ezec 27:15).
Thou wast in the pleasures of the paradise of God, and every precious stone was thy covering: the sardius, the topaz and the jasper, the chrysolite, and the onyx, and the beryl. the sapphire, and the carbuncle, and the emerald; gold the work of thy beauty....Thou wast a cherub stretched out, and protecting, and I set thee in the holy mountain of God (Ezec 13:14).
Thou art all fair, O My love, and there is not a spot in thee (Cant 4:7).

What a joy it must have been to the angels and the whole heavenly court to see Mary's soul, which had gone forth radiantly fair from the hand of its Creator, return to Him, after a sojourn of sixty or seventy years in this wicked world, not only unspotted by a single stain, but with its beauty and brilliancy increased to an incredible degree! And might not Mary have said, what Judith said to the ancients of Israel: "As the same Lord liveth, His angel hath been my keeper both going hence and abiding there, and returning from thence hither; the Lord hath not suffered me, His handmaid, to be defiled, but hath brought me back to you without pollution of sin, rejoicing by His victory for my escape and for your deliverance"? Yes, dearest Mother, thy joy is threefold. Thy sinlessness is a triumph for God's power and goodness, an honour for thyself, and a glory for the whole human race. Thou art indeed the glory of thy people. And we, what can we say of ourselves? Though we were not, it is true, conceived without sin, did we not receive a spotless robe of grace at our baptism? have we not had one of God's angels ever at our side throughout life? Shall we be able to give back our souls unstained to their Creator, and adorned with many graces? O sinless Mother, obtain for us that, at any rate, they may be washed in the Blood of the Lamb, and purified by tears of contrition. God has said that, though our sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow, if we cease to do evil and learn to do well. So, Queen conceived without sin, pray for us that we, as children of the Church, Christ's spotless Bride, may have a holy emulation to keep our souls unsullied by actual sin, wilful sin. Help us to conquer our evil inclinations, to do penance for the past, that when invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb in the heavenly kingdom, we may be found clothed with the nuptial garment and adorned with the virtues befitting our state.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us.


Picture credit to Hallowedground blog

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

St Francis Xavier - Apostle of Indies

Rm 10:10-18.
For, with the heart, we believe unto justice: but, with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith: Whosoever believeth in him shall not be confounded. For there is no distinction of the Jew and the Greek: for the same is Lord over all, rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be sent, as it is written: How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good things? But all do not obey the gospel. For Isaias saith: Lord, who hath believed our report? Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ. But I say: Have they not heard? Yes, verily: Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth: and their words unto the ends of the whole world.




A charge to go and preach to all nations was given by Christ to his apostles. This commission the pastors of the church have faithfully executed down to this present time; and in every age men have been raised by God and filled with His Holy Spirit for the discharge of this important function who, being sent by the authority of Christ and His Name by those who have succeeded the apostles in the government of His church,have brought new nations to the fold of Christ for the advancement of the divine honor and filling up the number of the saints. This conversion of nations according to the divine commission is the prerogative of the Catholic Church, in which it has never had any rival.


Of all the valiant messengers of the divine Word who have, during the last few hundred years, proclaimed the good tidings among infidel nations, there is not one whose glory is greater, who has worked greater wonders or who has shown himself a closer imitator of the first apostles than the modern apostle of the Indies, St. Francis Xavier. He labored only ten years in the missions before he was taken to heaven. And what years they were! In so brief a time, this one man, animated by God in a most extraordinary way, won for Christ over a million souls.

The life and apostolate of this wonderful man were a great triumph for our mother the holy Catholic Church; for St. Francis came just at a period when heresy, encouraged by false learning, by political intrigues, by covetousness and by all the wicked passions of the human heart, seemed on the eve of victory. Emboldened by all these, this enemy of God spoke, with the deepest contempt, of that ancient Church which rested on the promises of Jesus Christ; it declared that she was unworthy of the confidence of men, and dared even to call her the harlot of Babylon, as though the vices of her children could taint the purity of the mother. God's time came at last, and He showed Himself in His power: the garden of the Church suddenly appeared rich in the most admirable fruits of sanctity. Heroes and heroines issued from that apparent barrenness; and while the pretended reformers showed themselves to be the most wicked of men, two countries, Italy and Spain, gave to the world the most magnificent saints.

The sixteenth century is worthy of comparison with any other age of the Church. The so-called reformers of those times gave little proof of their desire to convert infidel countries, when their only zeal was to bury Christianity beneath the ruin of her churches. But at that very time, a society of apostles was offering itself to the Roman Pontiff, that he might send them to plant the true faith among people who were sitting in the thickest shades of death. But, we repeat, not one of these holy men
so closely imitated the first apostles as did Francis, the disciple of Ignatius. He had all the marks and labors of an apostle: an immense world of people evangelized by his zeal, hundred of thousands of infidels baptized by his indefatigable ministration, and miracles of every kind, which proved him, to the infidel, to be marked with the sign which they received who, living in the flesh, planted the Church, as the Church speaks in her liturgy. So that, in the sixteenth century, the east received from the ever holy city of Rome an apostle, who, by his character and his works, resembled those earlier ones sent her by Jesus Himself. May our Lord Jesus be forever praised for having vindicated the honor of the Church, His bride, by raising up Francis Xavier, and giving to men, in this His servant, a representation of what the first apostles were, whom He sent to preach the Gospel when the whole world was pagan.

St. Francis Xavier was born in 1506 in Navarre, Spain not far from the present French border. Incredible were the labors of the saint. His food was the same as that of the poorest people, rice and water. His sleep was but three hours a night at most and that in a fisherman's cabin on the ground. The remainder of the night he passed with God or with his neighbor. In the midst of the hurry of his external employments, he ceased not to converse interiorly with God, who bestowed on him such an excess of interior spiritual delights that he was often obliged to desire the divine goodness to moderate them.

His day began on his knees praying for guidance for the day lying ahead. Prayer was followed by offering of the Mass. The intensity of his preoccupation with the mysteries of the altar filled with the awe the little group of the faithful who came for the Holy Sacrifice at dawn. "Frequently," one learns, "the Father seemed transfigured at his Mass. Especially at the elevation when he was seen raised in the air, and a radiant light streamed about his head." Reference is made in all his
biographies to this matter of levitation. It happened during his Mass and occasionally when he was distributing Holy Communion upon his knees, his usual posture for giving the Bread of Life to his people.

Miracles, the likes of which the world has never before witnessed, began to follow the servant of God wherever he ventured. In Travancore, God, for the first time, bestowed upon His servant the gift of tongues. It happened suddenly, before an immense crowd of people who had gathered in some remote area to hear the man whose name had been echoed up and down the coast as far north as Calcutta. As the holy priest opened his mouth to give word to the interpreter, he began to speak in the very Tamilese dialect proper to the audience before him. Moreover, at other times, as the crowds grew even larger, many different tribes, composed of as many varying dialects, all simultaneously heard the foreigner speak as if he had been raised among them. But hear even more! If the glory of God were not manifest enough in these prodigies, an even greater one occurred. For as the crowds continued to swell, often reaching as many as ten thousand, the missionary inevitably would be bombarded with a deluge of questions, too many for him to have satisfied even one percent of the inquiries. The
generosity of our heavenly Father, however, was not to be outdone. As the wonder worker opened his mouth to answer a question (in a tongue he had never spoken) the very waves of his voice were transformed in mid-air so as to bring home to the ears of his listeners as many answers to as many different questions as had been hurled at him. Indeed "the Lord is good to them that seek him!" (Lam:3:25) This phenomenon, as well as so many others, drew forth converts by the droves. Whole villages, en masse, together with their rajah, vied with one another to be the first to receive the saving
waters of Baptism.

As the saint was preaching one day at Coulon, a village in Travancore near Cape Comorin, perceiving that few were converted by his discourse, he made a short prayer that God would honor the blood and name of His beloved Son by softening the hearts of the most obdurate. Then he bade some of the people open the grave of a man who was buried the day before, near the place where he preached; and the body was beginning to putrefy with a noisome scent, which he desired the bystanders to observe. Then falling on his knees, after a short prayer, he commanded the dead man in the Name of the living God to arise. At these words the dead man arose and appeared not only living but vigorous and in perfect health. All who were present were so struck with this evidence that, throwing themselves at the saint's feet, they demanded baptism. The holy man also raised to life, on the same coast, a young man who was a Christian, whose corpse he met as it was being carried to the grave. To preserve the memory of this wonderful action, the parents of the deceased, who were present, erected a great cross on the place where the miracle was wrought. These miracles made so great impressions on the people, that the whole kingdom of Travancore was subjected to Christ in a few months, except the king and some of his courtiers.

Our saint raised about 25 people from the dead. He built over 100 churches. He destroyed forty thousand idols in the pagan East. After ten and a half years of tremendously successful work in the Indies and Japan, St. Francis wished to continue his missionary work in China. He took passage on a Portuguese ship to the island of Sancian on the coast of China; but Almighty God was pleased to accept his will in this good work and took him to Himself. A fever seized the saint on the 20th of November, and at the same he had a clear knowledge of the day and hour of his death, which he
openly declared to a friend, who afterwards made an authentic deposition of it by a solemn oath. On the 2nd of December, having his eyes all bathed in tears and fixed with great tenderness of soul upon his crucifix, he pronounced these words, "In Thee, O Lord, I have hoped; I shall not be confounded for ever"; and at the same instant, transported with celestial joy which appeared upon his countenance, he sweetly gave up the ghost in 1552.

In what remains of the story of St. Francis Xavier, the world catches a glimpse of what Our Dear Lord thought of the saint. Truly the hand of God is here. The burial of Francis' body took place upon the day he died. His face after death stayed beautiful with such red coloring that he seemed yet alive. The Portuguese Captain and two others carried the corpse to a hastily dug grave. Two bags of quicklime were poured about the body. It was with the purpose of bringing the bones of the saint back to India later when convenient that the quicklime was used so that all would be decomposed except the bones. In mid February, when it was time for the ship to return
to Malacca, the coffin was exhumed and opened with the covering of lime removed. Now we see the finger of God begins to write the record of divine approval of Francis Xavier. His body is found unaffected by the lime. It is fresh and with the red glow of health which gives the appearance, not of death, but of sleep. The flesh is soft and blood still stands in the veins. An incision made near the left knee bleeds freely. Late in the evening of March 22nd, the vessel reached Malacca. The plague which for some weeks had laid waste to the town, all of a sudden ceased. The body was interred in a damp church yard; yet in August, was found entire, fresh and still exhaling a sweet odor and being honorably put into a ship, was transported to Goa,
where it was received and placed in the church in the college of St. Paul on the 15th of March in 1554; upon which occasion several blind persons recovered their sight and others, sick of palsies and other diseases, recovered their health and the use of their limbs. The body of our Saint is still incorrupt residing in a glass coffin in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, India.

Holy zeal may properly be said to have formed the character of St. Francis Xavier. Consumed with an insatiable thirst for the salvation of souls and of the expansion of the honor and kingdom of Christ on earth, he ceased not with tears and prayers to conjure the Father of all men not to suffer those to perish whom He had created in His own divine image, made capable of knowing and loving Him and redeemed with the adorable blood of His Son.

St. Francis was a model for missionaries, formed upon the spirit of the apostles. So absolute a master he was of his passions that he knew not what it was to have the least notion of anger or impatience and in all events was perfectly resigned to the Divine Will; from whence proceeded an admirable tranquility of soul, a perpetual cheerfulness and equality of countenance. He rejoiced in afflictions and sufferings and said that one who had once experienced the sweetness of suffering for Christ, will ever after find it worse than death to live without a cross. By humility the saint was always ready to follow the advice of others and attributed all blessings to their prayers which he most earnestly implored. St. Francis Xavier was canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622, and was proclaimed "Patron of Missions", a title he shares with St. Theresa of Lisieux.

ou will find a more extensive article on the life of St. Francis Xavier, which you are welcome to print and distribute, at Our Lady of the Rosary Library.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Feast of St Andrew the Apostle - click for link


As in the case of all the apostles except Peter and John, the Gospels give us little about the holiness of Andrew. He was an apostle. That is enough. He was called personally by Jesus to proclaim the Good News, to heal with Jesus' power and to share his life and death. Holiness today is no different. It is a gift that includes a call to be concerned about the Kingdom, an outgoing attitude that wants nothing more than to share the riches of Christ with all people.

“The Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word’” (Acts 6:2-4).



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Saturday, November 29, 2008

First Sunday in Advent - click for link





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Saturday - Day of Our Lady



Mine is the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine, and God Himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask then, my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage yourself in something less, nor pay heed to the crumbs which fall from your Father's table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in It and rejoice, and you will obtain the supplications of your heart.

From St John of the Cross 'Prayer of the Soul Taken with Love'






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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Our Lady of Miraculous Medal and St Catherine Laboure - click to visit website of the Chapel and shrine at rue du Bac in Paris


Story of St Catherine and Miraculous Medal - by Fr Joseph Dirvin

alternatively for 'busy-busy' or 'lazy bones' - Youtube short movie by Bob and Penny Lord







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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In the liturgy today we can read invaluable words that may be consolation for those chosen souls discerning their vocation:



Mt 19:27-29.
Then Peter answering, said to him: Behold we have left all things, and have followed thee: what therefore shall we have? And Jesus said to them: Amen I say to you, that you who have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of his majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting.

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Summorum Ponificum in the Parish - interesting lecture





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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Week of St John of the Cross


Vain cares and necessary solicitudes - continued

It is especially on the subject of vain cares and desires, that we may profitably remember the sublime maxims of St John of the Cross on renouncement of one's self and temporal goods; for as one of the holy Fathers has said, the desire of earthly things is still more hurtful to the soul than their enjoyment.
1. To enjoy all, take emjoyment in nothing.
2. To attain to know all, desire to know nothing.
3. To obtain possession of all, wish to possess nothing.
4. To attain to being all, desire to be nothing.
5. To arrive at that which you do not relish, proceed by that which displeases you.
6. To acquire that which you do not know, go by the way do not know.
7. To attain that which you do not possess, traverse that which you do not possess.
8. To become that which you are not, pass by that which you are not.

Means by which not to impede the All.

1. When you stop at something, you cease to give yourself up to the All.
2. For to proceed from all to the All, you must renounce yourself wholly in all.
3. And when you attain the possession of All, you must possess it without desiring anything;
4. For if you desire to have anything at all, you have not purely your treasure in God.
Endeavour to arrive at this state where all creatures shall be of no importance whatever to you, nor you to them; in order that, in the forgetfulness of all things, you may be alone with your God, in the secret of your retreat.
He who does not allow himself to be carried away by his desires, will take his flight as lightly as the bird, who has not lost a single feather.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cardinal Stafford comments on American Election of the most pro-abortion President in recent years - click for link

I encourage and ask prayers for good Cardinal Stafford who had a courage to criticise the election of the new US President. I have read somewhere, long time ago, the number of human casualties in the second World War equaled the number of aborted children.


It is clear we live in Apocalyptic times, we need to reflect on our lives, we need to pray more and change for better ways of life in better conformity to God's will. There is no doubt God loves us but He is also just, even in this life. I have read in the weekly Catholic newspaper, "The Universe" praising hymns for the election of the first black President of the biggest and richest country in the world, that the era of racism is finally at the end, everybody loves President elect, and those words were written by three Catholic commentators in their weekly columns. The pro-choice stance of the new President does not seem to bother them at all. It is amazing the Catholic commentators has only imaginative issue of racism on their minds in the ruling era of political correctness, nothing else bothers them at all. I feel repulse to buy this Catholic weekly again, although I will miss Lord Alton's, who is dedicated pro-life supporter, weekly column there. We must then remember these words of Saint Paul: "For there it will come a time when they will not endure sound doctrine: but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears." "Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, 'rebuke in all patience and doctrine."

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Last Sunday after Pentecost - click for link


Beautiful picture 'Last Judgment' by Jacob de Becker


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Third part of Bl Titus Brandsma lecture on Carmelite devotion to Our Lady

Good remainder for reflection how truly and deeply Marian Order Carmelites are and should be always.


The last part of Bl Titus Brandsma lecture "The Brothers of Our Lady"

Mary in Us as Living Through Us.
There is, however, yet another profound idea in the devotion to Mary on Carmel. It is based on the former indeed, and we cannot say that it was unknown in the first stages of our Order's history, even though it was more prominent in later times. I have called it the union with Mary. If we wish to conform ourselves to Mary in order to enjoy more fully the intercourse with God, by following her example, we should obviously become other Marys. We ought to let Mary live in us. Mary should not stand outside the Carmelite, but he should live a life so similar to Mary that he should live with, in, through, and for Mary. Even in the Middle Ages, in the first period of the Order's history, the idea was propagated that we should be serfs of Mary; in those days, even a stronger term, "slave," was used. In the 18th century, Blessed Grignion de Montfort drew attention again to this most vigorous Marian devotion. He wrote a work on True Devotion to Mary but it remained hidden during his lifetime and even for years after his death. It was not until 1842 that it was discovered, published and spread to all countries. It is a glorious utterance of Marian life. However, it is not new. Not only did the idea exist even in the Middle Ages, but also in later times it was brilliantly elaborated in the mystic school of Carmel. The admirers of the True Devotion to Mary by Blessed Grignion de Montfort admit willingly that the Saint had a remarkable prototype in the mystic writings of one of the dominant figures of later Carmelite mysticism, the Provincial of the Dutch Calced Carmelites, Michael of St. Augustine (Ballaert), in the middle of the 17th century. His treatise on Devotion to Mary was printed two years before Blessed Grignion de Montfort was born and was reprinted during the latter's life in Latin and Dutch. As he sees in Mary the Mediatrix of all graces, he says that just as the grace of God or of the Holy Ghost, is communicated to those who are susceptible of it, makes them active and excites divine life in them, so all graces, received through Mary and the spirit of Mary, will excite in us a truly Marian life. He wants the spirit of Mary to dwell in us so that we all may live in that spirit. As we should live in God, work and labour in Him, live and die in Him, so we can live in Mary because of the intimate union of Mary with God and because of her election to the office of Mediatrix of all graces.

Carmelite - Another Mary.
However beautiful the description of the devotion to Mary in the works of Fr. Michael of St. Augustine may be, there is yet another representation of that devotion living in the tradition of Carmel, which in the above-mentioned work is indeed touched upon but not elaborated. Still, in order to sound the deepest depths of the school of Carmel, it is necessary to see its characteristic features. We should attain similarity to Mary, especially in that we recognise her as the highest perfection which human power by the grace of God has attained. This perfection can also be developed in us to a considerable extent, if we reflect ourselves in Mary and unite ourselves to her. This ought to be the aim of our devotion to Mary, that we be another mother of God, that God should be conceived in us also, and brought forth by us. The mystery of the Incarnation has revealed to us how valuable man is to God, how intimately God wants to be united to man. This mystery draws the attention of our minds to the eternal birth of the Son from the Father as the deepest reason for this mystery of Love. In the celebration of the three Holy Masses on Christmas, the birth from the Father is first celebrated, secondly from the Holy Virgin Mary, thirdly God's birth in ourselves. This is not done without significance and this threefold birth must be understood to be a revelation of one eternal Love. It should be ever Christmas to us and we should always remember that threefold birth as phases of one great process of love. Mary is the daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son and Spouse of God the Holy Ghost. In her that threefold birth has been realised. We also have been chosen by the Holy Trinity for a dwelling, to share the privileges which we admire in Mary, but which God is willing to bestow on us also. Seen in this way, I should like to say that "the mystery of the Incarnation is another summary of Carmelite mysticism, Carmelite spiritual life."

Sunflowers in the Garden of Carmel.
The devotion to Mary is one of the most delightful flowers in Carmel's garden. I should like to call it a sunflower. This flower rises up high above the other flowers. Borne aloft on a tall stem, rich in green leaves, the flower is raised yet higher from among the green foliage. It is characteristic of this flower to turn itself towards the sun and moreover it is an image of the sun. It is a simple flower; it can grow in all gardens and it is an ornament to all. It is tall and firm and has deep roots like a tree. In the same way, no devotion is firmer than that to Mary. The fresh foliage, the green leaves point to the abundance of virtues, with which the devotion to Mary is surrounded. The flower itself represents the soul created after God's image in order to absorb the sunlight of God's bounty. Two suns shining into each other, one radiant with an unfathomable light, the other absorbing that light, basking in that light and glowing like another sun, but so enraptured by the beams of the Sun which shines on it, that it cannot turn itself away from Him, but can only live for Him and through Him. Such a flower was Mary. Like her, so may we, flowers from her seed, raise our flower-buds to the Sun, Who infused Himself into her, and will transmit to us also the beams of His light and warmth.
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Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Memorial - click for more


NOVENA in Preparation for the Feast of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (12th - 21st November)
By Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D.





Meditations and Prayers
Days 1, 4 and 7
Mary, Mother of God, tradition tells us that when you were three years of age, your parents, Joachim and Anne, took you to the Temple in Jerusalem to fulfill their vow. The holy couple offered you to God by the ministry of the priest in charge, who invoked the blessing of God upon you and your parents. How fervently your mother and father thanked God for having given you to them and begged Him to accept the offering which they were making! They then left a small offering of silver required by the Law of Moses.What a beautiful example for parents to imitate! Their children also belong to God, for they are His gift. Teach parents to care for their children as God’s sacred trust, to guard them from sin and to lead them in the way of virtue. May they consider it to be the greatest privilege bestowed upon them by God to dedicate their sons and daughters to His holy service. Help them to become worthy of this blessing through their ownprayers and good example.
Mary, My Mother, your first presentation to God, made by the hands of your parents, was an offering most acceptable in His sight. Let my consecration of myself to God be made under your patronage and assisted by your intercession and in union with your merits. Amen.

Days 2, 5 and 8:
Mary, Mother of God, already in your childhood you dedicated yourself to the love and service of God. Led by divine inspiration to His house, you prepared yourself for your sublime dignity of Divine Motherhood in silence and solitude with God. Though the designs of God were unknown to you, you, nevertheless, detached your heart from the world in order to give all your love to God. I can picture you alone with your God, following with devotion the life led in common by the virgins of God’s house. You were trained there with other girls, under the care of holy women, and with deepest reverence you assisted at the sacred functions. But the true sanctuary in which you dwelt with God was not the palace of worship at Jerusalem but the immaculate temple of your heart. You may have remained in the Temple till the age of twelve. When you later returned to your home, you were under the loving care of your mother, Saint Anne. With her you loved to sing the psalms and canticles of the inspired authors of your nation. From Anne you heard the touching story of the chosen people. You learned to read the sacred books by yourself and tried to penetrate their hidden meaning. You often discussed the coming of the Messiah, since you knew He would be of your race and family. I cannot even imagine the heavenly beauty that adorned your innocent soul as you were being prepared by the Eternal Father to be the Mother of His Divine Son and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. The wisdom and power of God was constructing a living temple for the Savior of the world.
Mary, My Mother, you were laying the foundation of that hidden life in which, by the practice of the highest virtues, you were to reach that sublime degree of holiness to which you were predestined as Mother of the Son of God and Mother of all the souls for whom He was to die. Attentive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, you diligently gathered up all His lessons, preserving them in your soul with zealous care. Amen.


Days 3, 6 and 9:
Mary, Mother of God, may the perfect gift of yourself to God through love in your presentation in the temple be an inspiration to me. You loved God with your whole heart and mind and strength. Obtain for me the grace to love God with my whole heart—so that all the love my heart is capable of may be consecrated to Him, and all other affection subordinated to the love I owe God. Help me to love God with my whole soul—so that all the faculties of my soul may be consecrated to Him, and that I may make use of them only to make Him known, loved and served. Help me to love God with my whole mind—so that my mind may be habitually occupied with God and that I may value His good pleasure above everything else—above my convenience, above all earthly treasures, above all knowledge and friendship, above health and life. Help me to love God with my whole strength—so that I may consecrate undividedly, unreservedly and continually to His service, my life, my health and all I am and have.
Mary, My Mother, pray that the love of God above all things and detachment from the world and its false pleasures, may also make my soul the temple of the living God. After your example, I desire to be known to God and unknown to men, to possess God and to be forgotten by creatures. May God dwell in me and may I live to Him alone through frequent Holy Communion and still more frequent prayer so that God may direct my whole life—my thoughts, words and actions—to His greater honor and glory. Amen.

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