Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jesuit's Churches in Rome - Il Gesu and St Ignatius of Loyola

I visited Rome during first week after Easter 2007. The main purpose was devotional pilgrimage to the seven major and minor Basilicas, as recommended by St Philip Neri. The major Basilicas are as follows: San Giovanni in Lateran, San Pietro in Vatican, San Paolo fuori le mur, Santa Maria Maggiore, whereas three minor basilicas: San Lorenzo fuori le mura, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme and Santuario della Madonna del Divino Amore. The last of these was added by Pope John Paul II for the Great Jubilee of 2000, replacing San Sebastiano fuori le mura. Planning my little pilgrimage, I was determined to visit two Jesuit Churches, Il Gesu and St Ignatius of Loyola, as St Ignatius is my Patron Saint. Below is the little movie I compiled from pictures I have taken, but I also included several pictures from the web. The movie starts with Il Gesu (The Church of the Holy Name of Jesus) which is the Jesuit Mother Church. It is built on the very place St. Ignatius chose for his headquarters shortly after he founded the Society of Jesus in 1540. In the same time, Pope Paul III presented new formed Religious Order with a small neighborhood chapel, Santa Maria della Strada (Our Lady of the Wayside), which soon proved too small for quickly expanding Society. It took over 40 years, three foundation-stone ceremonies, and six architects (Nanni di Baccio Bigio, Michelangelo, Vignola, Giacomo della Porta, and Jesuits Giovanni Tristano and Giovanni de Rosis), before Il Gesù was consecrated in 1584. However, it did not happen during St Ignatius lifetime. The plan of Il Gesù became the model for Jesuit churches throughout the world. The Church stands in the heart of downtown Rome, for St. Ignatius placed a great deal of emphasis on the location of the Society's churches. He always built his headquarters in urban centers, where the Jesuits could easily carry out their preaching, teaching and social ministries. II Gesu's façade was designed by Giacomo delta Porta and was in absolute agreement with St Ignatius' idea of the Church façade as a gateway through which the Jesuits emerge for their apostolic activities in the city and in the world, and through which the city is drawn into the sacramental life of the church. It stands, carefully oriented to the surrounding streets and piazza, as a great portal inviting the passerby to enter (picture 2). The Church interior is the nave forming a huge hall, a shallow apse with the altar moved up front, and side chapels blocked off as separate entities (so that all attention is riveted to the altar)(picture 3-5). The significance of Jesuit architecture was not its novelty, but its functionalism. The interior accentuates the two great functions of a Jesuit church: its large central nave with the laterally placed pulpit serves as a great auditorium for preaching, and the highly visible and prominent altar serves as a prominent stage for the celebration of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. Il Gesù's decorations are largely Baroque, dating from the late 17th century. With Baroque decorations, Jesuit churches appeal to the heart as well as the head, providing splendid stage sets for celebration of the Mass. Giovanni Battista Gaulli, known as "Il Baciccia," painted most of Il Gesù's beautiful ceiling frescoes between 1672-1685. The vault fresco, representing 'The Glory of the Holy Name of Jesus,' seems to open up a hole in the ceiling, through which heavenly light pours onto downwards-cascading colossal figures and into the nave and altar. Thus the Jesuit church becomes not only a gateway to and from the world, but a window into paradise (pictures 6-10).

The lateral chapels, which are separated from the nave and each surrounded by lovely candlelit balustrades, are serene little corners attracting faithful devotees. One of these chapels is dedicated to St. Ignatius and his tomb is situated under the altar (pictures 11-13). The Chapel is the example of Baroque magnificence, with lapis lazuli, alabaster, semi-precious stones, all kinds of colored marbles, gilded bronze, and silver plate. It took more than 100 artists, under the direction of Andrea Pozzo to accomplish this magnificent artistic effects. St Ignatius' original solid silver statue (picture 16) was carted off and melted down by Napoleon's French in 1798.
Directly across from St. Ignatius' chapel is that of the first Jesuit missionary saint, Francis Xavier, designed by Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669) and Carlo Maratta (1625-1713). A plaque tells us that the saint's arm, "which blessed so many converts in far away lands," now resides in the silver and lapis reliquary above the altar (pictures 14,15). Two more lateral Chapels are of great devotional significance and are dedicated to the Holy Trinity (picture 17) and Sacred Heart of Jesus (picture 18). To the left of St Ignatius' Chapel is situated little chapel of the Madonna della Strada, which hosts an image from the façade of Ignatius' first church (pictures 19-21). At the back of the Church we can venerate Cross lying on the floor with Jesus just nailed on it, the Cross is of natural size (picture 22).

Now we move to St Ignatius Church located very close to Il Gesu.
The Church of St. Ignatius was constructed half a century later than Il Gesù. It is entirely Baroque in style, and can be said to represent the Jesuits' triumphant phase, and that of the Counter Reformation. This was originally part of the Roman College, one of the Society's earliest and finest educational institutions. Founded in 1551 as a "school of grammar, humanities, and Christian doctrine, free of charge," the Roman College embodied St. Ignatius' conviction that "all the good of Christianity and the world depends on the good education of the young" (as his spokesman wrote to Philip II of Spain in 1556). By the early seventeenth century, the Roman College's original chapel had become too small for its bustling 2,000 students. Gregory XV Ludovisi, who was a Roman College alumnus and had canonized Ignatius in 1622, nudged his nephew Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi into funding a new church. Work of architectural design was entrusted to the College's own mathematics professor, Orazio Grassi, and the church was opened in 1651. As mentioned above, the Church of St. Ignatius originally formed part of the large and complicated complex of the Roman College. It now faces on to one of Rome's most unique (rococo) and lovely piazzas. Its tripartite façade is very similar to that of Il Gesù, which, as we have said, provided the model for many Jesuit churches worldwide (picture 23). St Ignatius interior presents with huge nave and side pulpit (picture 24). Much of the transept ceiling painting was done by young art students at the Roman College, under the guidance of their professor, Brother Andrea Pozzo. We can identify portraits the students did of each other and of their relatives. The final important characteristic of St. Ignazio is that it is a superb example of Baroque illusionism. When money ran out before a dome could be built, the clever Jesuit artist Andrea Pozzo (1681-1701) painted a fake dome over the altar. The trompe d' oeil perspective is the biggest joke in Rome (the uninitiated standing underneath never guess that the ceiling is really flat) (pictures 25)
The fresco shows St. Ignatius in Glory and his Apostolate in the World and has four monumental women, appropriately dressed to represent the four continents which were being converted by Jesuit missionary activity at that time. This triumphant burst of emotion and color seems a fitting tribute to Jesuit successes and the victorious Catholic Revival, one century after Ignatius' first church was opened for worship (pictures 26,27). One of the chapels close to main altar is dedicated to Pope Gregory XV who canonized St Ignatius, was alumni of Roman College and took care of securing funds for building of the Church (picture 28). In two side chapels, two of the Jesuits' most beloved young saints are buried, St. Aloysius Gonzaga [1568-91], who refused the honor of becoming a Spanish prince to study at the Roman College, entered the Jesuit order, and died at the age of 23, after ministering in Rome's plague hospitals; and St. John Berchmans [d. 1621], a young student at the Roman College, who died here at 22 years of age. The elaborate Baroque tombs of these appealing Saints face each other from both sides of the transept (pictures 29,30) The Church also contains relics of great Jesuit Cardinal St Robert Bellarmine (picture 31).

text adopted from In Italy online

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Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola

Inigo de Loyola was born in 1491 in Azpeitia in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa in northern Spain. He was the youngest of thirteen children. At the age of sixteen years he was sent to serve as a page to Juan Velazquez, the treasurer of the kingdom of Castile. As a member of the Velazquez household, he was frequently at court and developed a taste for all it presented, especially the ladies. He was much addicted to gambling, very contentious, and not above engaging in swordplay on occasion. For a number of years he went about in the dress of a fighting man, wearing a coat of mail and breastplate, and carrying a sword and other sorts of arms. Eventually he found himself at the age of 30 in May of 1521 as an officer defending the fortress of the town of Pamplona against the French, who claimed the territory as their own against Spain. The Spaniards were terribly outnumbered and the commander of the Spanish forces wanted to surrender, but Ignatius convinced him to fight on for the honor of Spain, if not for victory. During the battle a cannon ball struck Ignatius, wounding one leg and breaking the other. Because they admired his courage, the French soldiers carried him back to recuperate at his home, the castle of Loyola, rather than to prison. His leg was set but did not heal, so it was necessary to break it again and reset it, all without anesthesia. Although he was told to prepare for death, on the fest of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29) he took an unexpected turn for the better. The leg healed, but he was left with one leg shorter than the other. For the rest of his life he walked with a limp.

Conversion of St. Ignatius

During the long weeks of his recuperation, he was extremely bored and asked for some romance novels to pass the time. Luckily there were none in the castle of Loyola, but there was a copy of the life of Christ and a book on the saints. Desperate, Ignatius began to read them. The more he read, the more he considered the exploits of the saints worth imitating. However, at the same time, he continued to have daydreams of fame and glory, along with fantasies of winning the love of a certain noble lady of the court. The identity of this lady has never been discovered but she seems to have been of royal blood. He noticed, however, that after reading and thinking of the saints and Christ he was at peace and satisfied. Yet when he finished his long daydreams of his noble lady, he would feel restless and unsatisfied. Not only was this experience the beginning of his conversion, it was also the beginning of spiritual discernment, or discernment of spirits, which is associated with Ignatius and described in his Spiritual Exercises. The Exercises recognize that not only the intellect but also the emotions and feelings can help us to come to a knowledge of the action of the Spirit in our lives. Eventually, completely converted from his old desires and plans of romance and worldly conquests, and recovered from his wounds enough to travel, he left the castle in March of 1522. He had decided that he wanted to go to Jerusalem to live where our Lord had spent his life on earth. As a first step he began his journey to Barcelona. He first proceeded to the Benedictine shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat, made a general confession, and knelt all night in vigil before Our Lady's altar, following the rites of chivalry. He left his sword and knife at the altar, went out and gave away all his fine clothes to a poor man, and dressed himself in rough clothes with sandals and a staff.

The Experience of Manresa
He continued towards Barcelona but stopped along the river Cardoner at a town called Manresa. He stayed in a cave outside the town, intending to linger only a few days, but he remained for ten months. He spent hours each day in prayer and also worked in a hospice. It was while here that the ideas for what are now known as the Spiritual Exercises began to take shape. It was also on the banks of this river that he had a vision which is regarded as the most significant in his life. The vision was more of an enlightenment, about which he later said that he learned more on that one occasion that he did in the rest of his life. Ignatius never revealed exactly what the vision was, but it seems to have been an encounter with God as He really is so that all creation was seen in a new light and acquired a new meaning and relevance, and experience that enabled Ignatius to find God in all things. This grace, finding God in all things, is one of the central characteristics of Jesuit spirituality. Ignatius himself never wrote in the rules of the Jesuits that there should be any fixed time for prayer. Actually, by finding God in all things, all times are times of prayer. He did not, of course, exclude formal prayer, but he differed from other founders regarding the imposition of definite times or duration of prayer. One of the reasons some opposed the formation of the Society of Jesus was that Ignatius proposed doing away with the chanting of the Divine Office in choir. This was a radical departure from custom, because until this time, every religious order was held to the recitation of the office in common. For Ignatius, such recitation meant that the type of activity envisioned for the Society would be hindered. He finally arrived at Barcelona, took a boat to Italy, and ended up in Rome where he met Pope Adrian VI and requested permission to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Once he arrived in the Holy Land he wanted to remain, but was told by the Franciscan superior who had authority over Catholics there that the situation was too dangerous. (At the time, the Turks were the rulers of the Holy Land.) The superior ordered Ignatius to leave. He refused, but when threatened with excommunication, he obediently departed.

The Return to School
By now he was 33 years old and determined to study for the priesthood. However, he was ignorant of Latin, a necessary preliminary to university studies in those days. So he started back to school studying Latin grammar with young boys in a school in Barcelona. After two years he moved on to the University of Alcala. There his zeal got him in trouble, a problem that continued throughout his life. He would gather students and adults to explain the Gospels to them and teach them how to pray. His efforts attracted the attention of the Inquisition and he was thrown into jail for 42 days. When he was released he was told to avoid teaching others. (In the eyes of Inquisitors, anyone who was teaching and was not ordained was suspect.) Because he could not live without helping souls, Ignatius moved on to the University of Salamanca. There, within two weeks, the Dominicans had thrown him back into prison again. Though they could find no heresy in what he taught, he was told that he could only teach children and then only simple religious truths. Once more he took to the road, this time for Paris. At the University of Paris he began school again, studying Latin grammar and literature, philosophy, and theology. It was also in Paris that he began sharing a room with Francis Xavier and Peter Faber. He greatly influenced a few other fellow students directing them all at one time or another in what we now call the Spiritual Exercises. Eventually six of them plus Ignatius decided to take vows of chastity and poverty and to go to the Holy Land. If going to the Holy Land became impossible, they would go to Rome and place themselves at the disposal of the Pope for whatever he would want them to do. They did not think of doing this as a religious order or congregation, but as individual priests. For a year they waited, however no ship was able to take them to the Holy Land because of the conflict between the Christians and Muslims. It was during this time of waiting that Ignatius was ordained a priest, but he did not say Mass for another year. It is thought that he wanted to say his first Mass in Jerusalem in the land where Jesus himself had lived.

The Company of Jesus
Ignatius, along with two of his companions, Peter Faber and James Lainez, decided to go to Rome and place themselves at the disposal of the Pope. It was a few miles outside of the city that Ignatius had the second most significant of his mystical experiences. At a chapel at La Storta where they had stopped to pray, God the Father told Ignatius, "I will be favorable to you in Rome" and that he would place him (Ignatius) with His Son. Ignatius did not know what this experience meant, for it could mean persecution as well as success since Jesus experienced both. When they met with the Pope, he very happily put them to work teaching scripture and theology and preaching. It was here on Christmas morning, 1538, that Ignatius celebrated his first Mass at the church of St. Mary Major in the Chapel of the Manger. It was thought this chapel had the actual manger of Bethlehem, so, if Ignatius was not going to be able to say his first Mass at Jesus' birthplace in the Holy Land, then this would be the best substitute. During the Lent of 1539, Ignatius asked all of his companions to come to Rome to discuss their future. They had never thought of founding a religious order, but now that going to Jerusalem was out, they had to think about their future--whether they would spend it together. After many weeks of prayer and discussion, they decided to form a community, with the Pope's approval, in which they would vow obedience to a superior general who would hold office for life. They would place themselves at the disposal of the Holy Father to travel wherever he should wish to send them for whatever duties. A vow to this effect was added to the ordinary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Formal approval of this new order was given by Pope Paul III the following year on September 27, 1540. Since they had referred to themselves as the Company of Jesus (in Latin Societas Jesu), in English their order became known as the Society of Jesus. Ignatius was elected on the first ballot of the group to be the superior, but he begged them to reconsider, pray and vote again a few days later. The second ballot came out as the first, unanimous for Ignatius, except for his own vote. He was still reluctant to accept, but his Franciscan confessor told him it was God's will, so he acquiesced. On the Friday of Easter week, April 22, 1541, at the Church of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, the friends pronounced their vows in the newly formed Order.

The Years As Superior General
Ignatius, whose love it was to be actively involved in teaching catechism to children, directing adults in the Spiritual Exercises, and working among the poor and in hospitals, would for the most part sacrifice this love for the next fifteen years. From his election as superior general until his death he would work out of two small rooms, his bedroom and next to it his office, directing this new society throughout the world. He would spend years composing the Constitutions of the Society and would write thousands of letters to all corners of the globe to his fellow Jesuits dealing with the affairs of the Society and to lay men and women directing them in the spiritual life. From his tiny quarters in Rome he would live to see in his lifetime the Society of Jesus grow from eight to a thousand members. The Jesuits would found colleges and houses all over Europe and as far away as Brazil and Japan. Some of the original companions were to become the Pope's theologians at the Council of Trent, an event which played an important role in the Catholic Counter Reformation.

The Jesuits and Schools
Perhaps the work of the Society of Jesus begun by Ignatius that is best known is that of education. It is interesting that he had no intention of including teaching among the Jesuits' works at the beginning. As already mentioned, the purpose of the first members was to be at the disposal of the Pope to go where they would be most needed. Before 1548 Ignatius had opened schools in Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and India. These schools, however, were intended primarily for the education of the new young Jesuit recruits. Ten such colleges built within six years indicated the rapid growth of the Jesuits. But in 1548 at the request of the magistrates of Messina in Sicily, Ignatius sent five men to open a school for lay as well as Jesuit students. It soon became clear by requests from rulers, bishops and cities for schools that this work was truly one of the most effective ways to correct ignorance and corruption among the clergy and the faithful, to stem the decline of the Church in the face of the Reformation, and to fulfill the motto of the Society of Jesus, "Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam,"--to the greater glory of God. This was clearly in keeping with one of Ignatius' first principles in choosing apostolates: all other things being equal, choose those apostolates that will influence those who have the most influence on others. Maybe the best expression of this idea was in a letter he wrote about the founding of colleges in December of 1551: From among those who are now merely students, in time some will depart to play diverse roles--one to preach and carry on the care of souls, another to government of the land and the administration of justice, and others to other callings. Finally, since young boys become grown men, their good education in life and doctrine will be beneficial to many others, with the fruit expanding more widely every day. From then on, Ignatius helped to establish Jesuit schools and universities all over Europe and the world.

Ignatius the Person

It is probably true that the picture of Ignatius that most people have is that of a soldier: stern, iron-willed, practical, showing little emotion -- not a very attractive or warm personality. Yet if this picture is exact, it is hard to see how he could have had such a strong influence on those who knew him. Luis Goncalves de Camara, one of his closest associates wrote: He (Ignatius) was always rather inclined toward love; moreover, he seemed all love, and because of that he was universally loved by all. There was no one in the Society who did not have much great love for him and did not consider himself much loved by him. We regard a number of saints as great mystics but never think of Ignatius as one of them. We have recounted a few of the many visions and mystical experiences in his life. His holiness, however, did not consist in such, but in the great love that directed his life to do everything A.M.D.G., for the greater glory of God.

Last Illness
Ever since his student days in Paris, Ignatius had suffered from stomach ailments and they became increasingly troublesome in Rome. In the summer of 1556 his health grew worse, but his physician thought he would survive this summer as he had done others. Ignatius, however, thought that the end was near. On the afternoon of July 30th he asked Polanco, his secretary, to go and get the Pope's blessing for him, suggesting by this to Polanco that he was dying. Polanco, however, trusted the physician more than Ignatius and told him he had a lot of letters to write and mail that day. He would go for the Pope's blessing the next day. Shortly after midnight Ignatius took a turn for the worse. Polanco rushed off to the Vatican to get the papal blessing, but it was too late. The former worldly courtier and soldier who had turned his gaze to another court and a different type of battle had rendered his soul into the hands of God. Ignatius was beatified on July 27, 1609 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622 together with St. Francis Xavier. Ignatius' feast day is celebrated by the universal Church and the Jesuits on July 31, the day he died.

This material is extracted from essay by Rev. Norman O'Neal, S.J., The Life of St Ignatius

For more information on the life of St Ignatius, click for link to read, 1900 illustrated edition - The autobiography of St Ignatius of Loyola, ed. by Joseph o'Conor, SJ. In the preface we read that to fully understand Ignatian spiritual exercises, we should knwo something about the man who wrote them. We discern the Saint's natural disposition, which was the foundation of his spiritual character. We learn of his conversion, his trials, the obstacles in his way, the heroism with which he accomplished his great mission. Wow, it is worth to read!
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Sunday, July 27, 2008


At the Introit of the Mass, with the priest, pray to God for brotherly love, and for protection against enemies. Within and without. "God, in His holy place; God, Who maketh men of one mind to dwell in a house, He shall give power and strength to His people. Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Him flee before His face" (Ps 67). Glory be to the Father, etc

O almighty and everlasting God, Who in the abundance of Thy mercy dost exceed the desires and deserts of Thy suppliants, pour forth Thy mercy upon us, that Thou mayest forgive what our conscience fears, and grant what our prayer does not presume to ask. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, etc.

1Cor. 15: 1-10

I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; By which also you are saved, if you hold fast after what manner I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all, which I also received: how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures: And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the scriptures: And that he was seen by Cephas; and after that by the eleven. Then he was seen by more than five hundred brethren at once: of whom many remain until this present, and some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen by James, then by all the apostles. And last of all, he was seen also by me, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God, I am what I am; and his grace in me hath not been void, but I have laboured more abundantly than all they: yet not I, but the grace of God with me.

This epistle teaches us that as the holy apostle Paul was not elated with vanity by the revelations he has received from God, but rather felt himself unworthy of them, ascribing it to God's grace that he was what he was, even so the truly humble man thinks little of himself, is willing to be despised by others, and gives glory to God alone. Such humility is a most difficult lesson to our sensual nature. But are we not sinner, and far greater sinners that St.Paul was? and shall we then esteem ourselves highly? And granting that we have not to reproach ourselves with any great sins, and have even done much good, is it not presumption and robbery to claim for ourselves what belongs to grace? Let us learn, therefore, to be humble, and to count ourselves always unprofitable servants.

O most humble Saviour, banish from my heart the spirit of pride, and impart to me the most necessary grace of humility. Give me grace to know that, of myself, I can do nothing that is pleasing to Thee, that all my sufficiency for good comes from Thee, and that Thou worketh in us both to will and to accomplish (2 Cor. 3:5; Phil. 2:13).

Mark 7: 31-37
And again going out of the coasts of Tyre, he came by Sidon to the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring to him one deaf and dumb; and they besought him that he would lay his hand upon him. And taking him from the multitude apart, he put his fingers into his ears, and spitting, he touched his tongue: And looking up to heaven, he groaned, and said to him: Ephpheta, which is, Be thou opened. And immediately his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke right. And he charged them that they should tell no man. But the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal did they publish it. And so much the more did they wonder, saying: He hath done all things well; he hath made both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Who among Christians are like the deaf and dumb of this Gospel?
Those who are deaf to the voice of God, and dumb in prayer, in the praise of God in the defence of religion, and of the good name of their neighbour, and in confessing their sins.

Why did Christ take the deaf man aside?
Because he did not seek the praise of men, and at the same time was loath to provoke too soon the hatred of His enemies.

Why did Jesus put His finger into the ears of the deaf and dumb, and spitting, touch his tongue?
To show this unfortunate person by signs that it was He Who freed him from bodily evils, and that the healing power was not the consequence of secretly given remedies, but proceeded immediately from Himself.

Why did Jesus look up to heaven and groan?
1. To show that He acted not as mere man, but that he had received all power from His eternal Father.
2. That he might thereby awaken and animate the deaf and dumb man to confidence in His power and belief in His divine mission. Learn hence to practice the beautiful virtue of compassion for other's sufferings, and to acknowledge that every good gift is from above.

Why did Christ charge them that they should tell no man?
That we might learn not to seek the praise of men for our good deeds. Let us learn to make known the works of God to His glory; for He is continually working before our eyes every day so many wonders, in order that we may praise His benignity and omnipotence.

O Jesus, great physician of souls, open mine ears to attend to Thy holy will; loosen my tongue to proclaim and praise forever Thy love and goodness.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Feast of St Anne - the hidden life and Christian perfection

The Kingdom of God is built up in silence; it is, before all, interior, and in the depth of the soul: Vita vestra est absondita cum Christo in Deo. Undoubtedly, grace possess a virtue which nearly always overflows in works of charity, but the principle of its power is entirely within. It is in the depth of the heart that the true intensity of the Christian life lies, it is there that God dwells, adored and served by faith, recollection, humility, obediance, simplicity, labour and love. Our outward activity has no stability nor supernatural fruitfulness save in so far as it is linked to this interior life. We shall truly only bear fruit outwardly according to the measure of the supernatural life. Nothing favours this intense union of the soul with God like the hidden life. And this is why souls living the inner life, and enlightened from on high, love to contemplate the life of Jesus of Nazareth. They find in it a special charm and, moreover, abundant graces of holiness.

Abbot Columba Marmion reflection on the Feast Of St Anne taken from 'Words of life - on the margin of the Missal'.

Today is the Feast of St Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin and also in Church's tradition Saturday is Our Lady's Day with Masses offered in her honour in Traditional Roman rite. Therefore I will offer on this day the short meditation on the Immaculate conception of Our Lady in her own words said once in the vision to St Bridget.The Angel announcing the birth of the Virgin to St Anne and St Joachim is represented in picture above the text

The Immaculate Conception - The Blessed Virgin speaks.

And it is a truth that I was conceived without original sin, and not in sin; because, as my Son and I never sinned, so no marriage was more holy than that from which I was born (Lib 6, ch 49). A golden hour was my conception, for then began the principle of the salvation of all, and darkness hastened to light. God wished to do in His work something singular and hidden from the world, as he did in the dry rod blooming. But know that my conception was not known to all, because God wished that as the natural law and the voluntary election of good and bad preceded the written law, and the written law followed, restraining all inordinate nations, so it pleased God, that His friends should piously doubt of my conception, and that each should show zeal till the truth became clear in its preordained time (Lib. 6, ch.55).

Prof Plinio Correa de Oliveira (Tradition in Action) provides interesting insight on how Tradition of the Church and Carmelite Tradition connect with St Anne, her family and her life. To read more, please follow LINK
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Feast of St Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin

Beautiful, refreshing and encouraging meditation for every Catholic mother. St Anne, pray for us!

Spiritual Bouquet: He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me... And I will love him and manifest Myself to him (St. John 14:21)

Saint Anne, chosen by God to be the mother of Mary, His own Blessed Mother on earth, was the spouse of Saint Joachim. Ancestor of the Eternal King and High Priest, Joachim was of the royal house of David, while Anne was of Levitical descent. Their lives were wholly occupied with prayer and good works. One thing only was wanting to their union — they were childless, and this was held as a bitter misfortune among the Jews. At length, when Anne was well advanced in age, Mary was born, the fruit rather of grace than of nature, and the child more of God than of man. With the birth of Mary the holy matron began a new life; she watched Her every movement with reverent tenderness, and, aware of the little one’s destiny, felt herself hourly sanctified by the presence of her Immaculate Child. But she had vowed her daughter to God; to God the child Mary had already consecrated Herself, and to Him Anne gave Her back. Mary was three years old when Anne and Joachim led Her to the Temple steps, saw Her pass by Herself into the inner sanctuary, and then saw Her no more. Thus was Anne left childless in her old age, and deprived of her purest earthly joy. The holiest parents on earth could not, in the plan of God, raise this Child as was needed: Mary had to suffer from Her earliest years. Saint Anne and Saint Joachim humbly adored the Divine Will, and continued to watch and pray, until God called them to unending rest.

France and Canada possess the principal sanctuaries of Saint Anne: in France, at Apt in Provence, and at Auray in Britanny; in Canada at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in the Province of Quebec. At Apt the discovery in 792 of Saint Anne’s relics, brought by Lazarus and his two sisters to France, was wholly miraculous, authenticated by the presence of Charlemagne during the discovery, and the signature of Pope Adrian I on the written account of the facts.

Reflection: Saint Anne is glorious among the Saints, not only as the mother of Mary, but because she gave Mary to God. Learn from her to reverence a religious vocation as the highest privilege, and to sacrifice every natural bond, however holy, at the call of God.

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).

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Beautiful wood carved 'Head of St Anne' - of Tilman workshop Read whole post......

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It is good to reflect on the final instructions Our Lord gave to His disciples at the Last Supper. Someone said once the reason Romans persecuted Christians so severely was their inability to understand and accept Christ teaching concerning love of ones enemies, for their philosophy was to hate, to conquer and preferably to kill enemies. Therefore Christianity was considered as dangerous to the Roman Imperial integrity. For men of the world honours, riches and power are most desirable and worthy of every effort and pain. The disciples, acting like typical men of the world were busy distributing among themselves imaginary honours and riches in the promised Kingdom of their Master. How different was to be their future and how they were changed by Christ Death, Resurrection and the descent of the Holy Ghost. How huge is the gap between worldly and spiritual man....

Luke 22:24-30
And there was also a strife amongst them, which of them should seem to be the greater. And he said to them: The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that have power over them are called beneficent. But you not so: but he that is the greater among you, let him become as the younger: and he that is the leader, as he that serveth. For which is greater, he that sitteth at table or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at table? But I am in the midst of you, as he that serveth. And you are they who have continued with me in my temptations: And I dispose to you, as my Father hath disposed to me, a kingdom; That you may eat and drink at my table, in my kingdom: and may sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Picture by Duccio di Buoninsegna

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

St Mary Magdalen, Penitent

St. Mary was given the name 'Magdalen' because, though a Jewish girl, she lived in a Gentile town called Magdale, in northern Galilee, and her culture and manners were those of a Gentile. St. Luke records that she was a notorious sinner, and had seven devils removed from her. She was present at Our Lords' Crucifixion, and with Joanna and Mary, the mother of James and Salome, at Jesus' empty tomb. Fourteen years after Our Lord's death, St. Mary was put in a boat by the Jews without sails or oars - along with Sts. Lazarus and Martha, St. Maximin (who baptized her), St. Sidonius ("the man born blind"), her maid Sera, and the body of St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin. They were sent drifting out to sea and landed on the shores of Southern France, where St. Mary spent the rest of her life as a contemplative in a cave known as Sainte-Baume. She was given the Holy Eucharist daily by angels as her only food, and died when she was 72. St. Mary was transported miraculously, just before she died, to the chapel of St. Maximin, where she received the last sacraments.

When Mary Magdalen first saw Our Lord she was very beautiful and very proud sinner, but after she met Jesus, she felt great sorrow for her evil life. When Jesus went to supper at the home of a rich man named Simon, Mary came to weep at His feet. Then with her long beautiful hair, she wiped His feet dry and anointed them with expensive perfume. Some people were surprised that Jesus let such a sinner touch Him, but Our Lord could see into Mary's heart, and He said: "Many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved very much." Then to Mary He said kindly, "Your faith has made you safe; go in peace." From then on, with the other holy women, Mary humbly served Jesus and His Apostles. When Our Lord was crucified, she was there at the foot of His cross, unafraid for herself, and thinking only of His sufferings. No wonder Jesus said of her: "She has loved much." After Jesus' body had been placed in the tomb, Mary went to anoint it with spices early Easter Sunday morning. Not finding the Sacred Body, she began to weep, and seeing someone whom she thought was the gardener, she asked him if he knew where the Body of her beloved Master had been taken. But then the person spoke in a voice she knew so well: "Mary!" It was Jesus, risen from the dead! He had chosen to show Himself first to Mary Magdalen, the repentent sinner.

Image by Giovanni Cima da Conegliano

Text based on Catholic Online
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Gospel and Reading

We should learn from this gospel that God looks upon the humble and exalts them, but is far from the proud (Ps. CXXXVII: 6). The Pharisee went to the temple entirely wrapt up in himself, and the good works which he thought he had performed, but returned empty and hated by God; the Publican, on the contrary, appearing before God as a public but penitent sinner, returned justified. Truly, an humble sinner is better in the sight of God than a proud just man!

He who glories in his own good works, or performs them to please men, or to win their praise, loses his merit in the eyes of the most High, for Christ says: Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven (Matt. 6:1). In order that we may learn to despise vain glory, these doctrines should be well borne in mind. We should consider that it will happen to those who seek after vain glory, as to the man who, made many toilsome journeys on land and sea in order to accumulate wealth, and had no sooner acquired it than he was shipwrecked, and lost all. Thus the ambitious man avariciously seeking glory and honor will find, when dying, that the merit which he might have had for his good works, is now lost to him, because he did not labor for the honor of God. To prevent such an evil, strive at the commencement of every good work which you undertake, to turn your heart to God by a good intention. But that you may plainly recognize this vice, which generally keeps itself concealed, and that you may avoid it, know that pride is an inordinate love of ostentation, and an immoderate desire to surpass others in honor and praise. The proud man goes beyond himself, so to speak, makes far more of himself than he really is, and, like the Pharisee, despises others; the humble man, on the contrary, has a low estimate of himself, looks upon himself as nothing and, like the Publican, despises no one but himself, and thus is pleasing in the sight of God.

O God, who hearest the prayers of the humble, but dost resist the proud, I earnestly beseech Thee to give me an humble heart, that I may imitate, the humility of Thy only?begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and thereby merit to be exalted with Him in heaven.

In the epistle of this day the Apostle St. Paul speaks of the different gifts of the Holy Ghost which He distributes as He pleases. These extraordinary graces which the apostle mentions, are not necessary for salvation. But the Church teaches, that the grace of the Holy Ghost is necessary for salvation, because without it we could neither properly believe, nor faithfully observe the commandments of God. For the holy religion of Jesus teaches, and experience confirms, that since the fall of our first parents we are weak and miserable, and of ourselves, and by our own strength, we cannot know or perform the good necessary for our salvation. We need a higher aid, a higher, assistance, and this assistance is called grace.

What, then, is grace?
Grace is an inward, supernatural gift which God through finite goodness, and in consideration of Christ's merits, ants us to enable us to work out our salvation. Grace is a gift, that is, a present, a favor, a benefit is an inward and supernatural gift; an inward gift, Because it is bestowed upon man's soul to distinguish it tom external gifts and benefits of God, such as: food, clothing, health; grace is a supernatural gift, because it is above nature. In creating our souls God gives us a certain degree of light which enables us to think, reflect, judge, to acquire more or less knowledge: this is called natural light. In the same way He gives our souls the power in some measure to overcome sensual, vicious inclinations; this power is called natural power (virtue). To this natural light and power must be added a higher light and a higher power, if 'man would be sanctified and saved. This higher light and higher power is grace. It is, therefore, called a supernatural gift, because it surpasses the natural power of man, and produces in his understanding and in his will wholesome effects, which he could not produce without it. For example, divine faith, divine love is a supernatural gift or grace of God, because man of his own power could never receive as certain God's revelations and His incomprehensible mysteries with so great a joy and so firm a conviction, and could never love God above all things and for His own sake, unless God assisted him by His grace. God grants us grace also through pure benevolence without our assistance, without our having any right to it; He grants it without cost, and to whom He pleases; but He gives it in consideration of the infinite merits of Christ Jesus, in consideration of Christ's death on the cross, and of the infinite price of our redemption. Finally, grace is a gift of God, by which to work out our salvation, ,that is, it is only by the grace of God that we can perform meritorious works which aid us in reaching heaven. Without grace it is impossible for us to perform any good action, even to have a good thought by which to gain heaven. From this it follows that with the grace of God we can accomplish all things necessary for our salvation, fulfil all the commandments of God, but without it we can do nothing meritorious. God gives His grace to all, and if the wicked perish, it is because they do not cooperate with its divine promptings.

How is grace divided?
Into two kinds, actual and sanctifying grace. Actual grace is God's assistance which we always need to accomplish a good work, to avoid sin which we are in danger of committing, or that grace which urges us on to good, and assists us in accomplishing it; for it is God, says the Apostle Paul (Phil. 2:13) who worketh in you both to will and to accomplish. If a good work is to be performed by us, God must enlighten our mind that we may properly know the good and distinguish it from evil; He must rouse our will and urge it on to do the known good and to avoid the evil; He must also uphold our will and increase our strength that what we wish to do, we may really accomplish. This actual grace is, therefore, necessary for the just, that they may always remain in sanctifying grace, and accomplish good works; it is necessary for the shiner that he may reach the state of sanctifying grace.

What is sanctifying grace?
It is the great benefit which God bestows upon us, when He sanctifies and justifies us; in other words: sanctifying grace is the love of God, given to us by the Holy Ghost, which love dwells in us and whose temple we become, or it is the advent and abiding of God in our hearts, as promised in the words of Jesus: If any one love me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him (John 16: 23). He who possesses sanctifying grace, possesses the greatest treasure that a man can have on earth. For what can be more precious than to be beautiful in the sight of God, acceptable to Him, and united with Him! He who possesses this grace, carries within himself the supernatural image of God, he is a child of God, and has a right to the inheritance of heaven.

How is this sanctifying grace lost?
It is lost by every mortal sin, and can only be regained by a complete return to God, by true repentance and amendment. The loss of sanctifying grace is a fax greater injury than the lass of all earthly possessions. How, terrible, then, is mortal sin which deprives us of this treasure!

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday - Day of Our Lady

House of Gold, pray for us!

With this invocation we venerate in Our Lady the gift of knowledge. This gift helps to understand better God's design and fills the soul with strong and holy desire for perfection that it may become like a pure gold that once adorned Solomon's temple. When Solomon completed construction of the temple, he prayed: "I have built a house to his name, that he might dwell there for ever" (2 Paralipomenon 6:1). Our Lady herself is like shining golden temple of virtue. Our Lord praised her obedience when He answered words of admiration towards His mother expressed by woman of Jerusalem: "Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it" (Luke 11:28). How profitable could it be for the soul to follow the example of the Blessed Virgin in effort to achieve spiritual perfection by gathering the gold of true knowledge from daily readings of the Holy Scriptures and humble and careful listening to sermons: "When you have received from us the word of the hearing of God, you received it not as the word of men, but (as it is indeed) the word of God, who worketh in you that have believed." (Luke 2:13).

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI visiting Australia

The picture from the streets of Sydney where His Holiness is enthusiastically welcomed by Australians young and old alike. I hope this post will make happy all my Australian friends sometimes visiting the blog. Fr Z posted many videos from current Papal visits and I have seen them all, they are really great, but why on earth are all these Aborigenes keep dancing around the Pope all the time?? It looks bit like this...

Honestly, I have nothing against native Australian dancing their tribal dances around our Holy Father walking the streets of Sydney, as long as His Holiness is happy, maybe they have just gone truant from their RCIA classes to greet the Pope?

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The explanation why Our Lord drove away the money changers from the Temple we can find reading the Gospel text, but who the money changers were and what they did in the Temple? Here is the answer I have found:
The money changers in the Temple were there because of the Roman occupation and the insistence that Jews pay for their sacrifices in shekels. The Romans only allowed Roman currency in their conquered nations, so if you wanted to make a sacrifice in the Temple you had to exchange your Roman currency for Temple currency. The money changers provided this service in the Temple courtyard, but they charged a hefty fee for doing so. They made quite a lot of money doing this as Jews were required to make sacrifices frequently, and your sacrifice was either money, which had to be in shekels, or a sacrifical animal, which had to be purchased right there in the Temple and also purchased with shekels. While the high priests did exchange back sacrificed shekels for Roman currency (to purchase what they needed in the markets), the wealth in the vaults functioned as a kind of Jewish bank. You could obtain a loan in Roman currency from the Temple vaults at very high rates of interest. The Gospels use the phrases "den of thieves" and "house of merchandise". The first is obvious on its face, as the money changers were stealing money from people who were just trying to follow their religion. The latter was a reference to the sacrificial animals available for purchase in the Temple.

Lk 19:45-49

And entering into the temple, he began to cast out them that sold therein and them that bought. Saying to them: It is written: My house is the house of prayer. But you have made it a den of thieves. And he was teaching daily in the temple. And the chief priests and the scribes and the rulers of the people sought to destroy him.

Picture by Alexander Bida 'Jesus drives away the money changers from the Temple

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Feast of St Elizabeth of Portugal - Franciscan Tertiary

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

To read more about St Elizabeth please follow link Patron Saints index Read whole post......

Monday, July 07, 2008

"And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity; that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings." (Luke 16:9)

In this passage, Our Lord advices the rich to use their wealth to win the prize of eternal happiness rather than meet the end of young and rich but careless man: "rich man.. died: and he was buried in hell." (Luke 16:22). In this way, by almsgiving, money of the rich may be used in charity to improve lives and satisfy the needs of the poor. Sadly, quite often, money are used rather to multiply riches of those who already possess them and often by means of mere exploitation of those less fortunate, and this is what is named 'mammonism'. Webster dictionary (1977 edition) defines the term of 'mammon' as : 1) the false god of riches and avarice. 2) riches regarded as an object of worship and greedy pursuit; wealth as an evil, more or less personified. Love of riches is one of the capital vices, and has been declared fruitless in the Holy Scripture: "he that loveth riches shall reap no fruit from them" (Ecclesiastes 5:9). The Church in her teachings has been always clear against 'mammonism', because of its uncharitableness: "Prayer is not genuine but false if it is not supported by charity towards God and the neighbour". The Church has also been giving good example by distributing alms and defense of social justice:" Is not this rather the fast that I have chosen? loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are broken go free, and break asunder every burden. Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house: when thou shalt see one naked, cover him, and despise not thy own flesh." (Isaias 58:6,7). We have rights to earn decent wages for our work, to be able to provide proper nurishment, education and standard of living for our families including decent leisure time: "for the workman is worthy of his meat." (Matt 10:10). Those in authority should always listen to justified demands and needs of their working force, for those who exploit others well deserve to be reprimanded by Christ: "Beware of the scribes, who desire to walk in long robes, and love salutations in the marketplace, and the first chairs in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts: Who devour the houses of widows, feigning long prayer. These shall receive greater damnation." (Luke 20:46).

Image: 'Lazarus at the rich man house' by Gustave Dore

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Eight Sunday after Pentecost

And the same was accused unto him.
(Luke 16:1)

The steward in the gospel was justly accused on account of the goods he had wasted; but there are many who lose their good name and honor by false accusations, and malicious talk! Alas, what great wrongs do detracting tongues cause in this world! How mean a vice is detraction, how seldom attention is paid to its evil, how rarely the injury is repaired!

When is our neighbor slandered?
When he is accused of a vice of which he is not guilty; when a secret crime is made known with the intention of hurting him, or when our duty does not require us to mention it; when we attribute an evil intention to him or entirely misconstrue his actions and omissions; when his good qualities or commendable actions are denied or lessened, or his merits underrated; when we remain silent, or speak ambiguously in cases where praise is due him; when we lend a willing ear to detractions, and make no effort to stop them; and lastly, when joy is felt in the detraction.

Is detraction a great sin?
Yes, for it is directly opposed to the love of our neighbor, therefore to the love of God, hence it is, as St. Ambrose says, hateful to God and man. By it we rob our neighbor of a possession greater than riches (Prov. 22: 1), and often he is plunged by it into want and misery, even into the greatest vices; St. Ambrose says: "Let us fly from the vice of detraction, for it is altogether a satanic abyss, full of deceit." Finally, detraction is a great sin, because it can seldom be recalled, and the injury done by it is very great, and often irreparable.

What should we do when we have committed this sin?
We should retract the calumny as soon as possible and repair the injury done to our neighbor in regard to his name or temporal goods; we should detest this sin, regret it, and be cleansed from it by penance, we should daily pray for him whom we have injured, and in future guard against the like fault.

Are we ever allowed to reveal the wrongs of our neighbor?
To make public the faults of our neighbor only for the entertainment of idle people, or for the sake of news, and to satisfy the curiosity of others, is always sinful. But if after having reproached or advised our neighbor fraternally, without obtaining our end, we make known his faults to his parents or superiors for the sake of punishment and reformation, far from being a sin it is rather a duty, against which those err who are silent about the sins of their neighbor, when by speaking they could prevent the sin and save him much unhappiness.

Is it a sin to listen willingly to detraction?
Yes, for we thus give the detractors occasion and encouragement. Therefore St. Bernard says: "Whether to detract is a greater sin than to listen to detraction, I will not decide. The devil sits on the tongue of the detractor as he does on the ear of the listener." In such cases we must strive to interrupt, to prevent the detracting words, or else withdraw; or if we can do none of these, we must show in our countenance our displeasure, for the Holy Ghost says: The northwind driveth away rain, so doth a sad countenance a backbiting tongue (Prov. 25: 23). The same demeanor is to be observed in regard to improper language.

What varieties of detraction are there?
There is a certain detestable kind of detraction which degrades and ridicules others by witty and sneering words. Still worse is that detraction which carries the faults of others from one place to another, thus exciting those who are on good terms to hard feeling, or making those who are living in enmity more opposed to each other. The whisperer and the double tongued, says the Holy Ghost, is accursed, for he hath troubled many that were at peace.

What should deter us from detraction?
The thought of the enormity of this sin; of the difficulty, even impossibility of repairing the injury caused; of the punishment it incurs, for St. Paul expressly says: Calumniators shall not possess the kingdom of God, (1 Cor. 6: 10). and Solomon writes: My son, fear the Lord, and the king: and have nothing to do with detractors; for their destruction shall rise suddenly (Prov. 24: 22).

Guard me, O most loving Jesus, that I may not be so blinded, either by hatred or, envy, as to rob my neighbor of his good name, or make myself guilty of such a grievous sin.

If your good name has been taken away by evil tongues, you may be consoled by knowing that God permitted this to humble you, to exercise you in patience and free you from pride and vain self-complacency. Turn your eyes to the saints of the Old and the New Law, to the chaste Joseph who was cast into prison on a false charge of adultery (Gen. 39), to the meek David publicly accused by Semei as a man of blood, (2 Kings 16: 7) to the chaste Susanna who was also accused of adultery, tried and condemned to death (Dan. 13). Jesus, the king of saints, was called a drunkard, accused and condemned as a blasphemer, a friend of the devil, an inciter of sedition among the people, and like the greatest criminal was nailed to the cross between two thieves. Remember besides that it does not injure you in the sight of God, if all possible evil is said of you, and that He, at all times, cares for those who trust in Him; for he who touches the honor of those who fear God, touches, as it were, the pupil of His eye (Zach. 2: 8), and shall not go unpunished. St. Chrysostom says: "If you are guilty, be converted; if you are innocent, think of Christ."


O most innocent Jesus, who wert thus calumniated, I submit myself wholly to Thy divine will, and am, ready like Thee, to bear all slanders and detractions, as with perfect confidence I yield to land care my good name, convinced that Thou at Thy pleasure wilt defend and protect it, and save me from the hands of my enemies.

At the head of the post we have a page fragment from the manuscript kept in the Melbourne library with the drawing depicting envy carrying her daughters, treachery and detraction.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Good News for Carmelites

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI officially recognised heroic virtues and approved the second miracle required for the Canonization of the Blessed Nuno of St. Mary, Carmelite friar. The news was announced by the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints yesterday in published statement. Blessed Nuno of St Mary (Bl Alvares Pereira) died as a simple Carmelite brother on April 1, 1431 and was beatified on January 23, 1918. He entered Carmelite monastery as a widower, but before that, Bl Nuno lived as a nobleman and great knight, and patriotic hero of his native Portugal. He was the Third Count of Ourem and Founder of the Royal House of Braganca. After the marriage of his daughter, he renounced his many titles and gave away all his possessions. One third of his wealth was given to the poor and orphans. He built several churches including the beautiful Carmelite monastery in Lisbon, which he later entered as a humble brother. He did much to spread the devotions of the rosary and the scapular in Portugal and is known as the "Precursor of Fatima", "The Holy Constable", and the "Peacemaker". His memorial Mass is celebrated on April 1.

To read more about Bl Nuno of St Mary and to pray in his honour, please visit following webpages: Blessed Nuno Society
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The life of Blessed Virgin with St Joseph

The Blessed Virgin speaks:
Know most certainly that before he married me, Joseph knew in the Holy Ghost, that I had vowed my virginity to my God, and was immaculate in thought, word, and deed, and that he espoused me with the intention of serving me, holding me in the light of a sovereign mistress, not a wife. And I knew most certainly in the Holy Ghost that my perpetual virginity would remain intact, although by a secret dispensation of God I was married to a husband. But when I had consented to the annunciation of God, Joseph, seeing my womb increase by the operation of the Holy Ghost, feared vehemently; not suspecting anything amiss in me, but remembering the sayings of the prophets, foretelling that the Son of God should be born of a virgin, deeming himself unworthy to serve such a mother, until the angel in a dream ordered him not to fear, but to minister unto me in charity.
Of worldly things Joseph and I reserved naught to ourselves, except the necessities of life for the honour of God, distributing the rest for the love of God. When the time of my Son's nativity approached, I came according to the foreknowledge of God to Betlehem, bringing a most clean dress and clothes for my Son, which no one had ever used. In these I first wrapped Him who was born of me in all purity, and although from all eternity I was ordained to sit on the highest throne and honour, yet in my humility, I did not disdain to prepare and minister what was necessary for Joseph and myself. (Lib 7, c 35)

Picture is "The wedding of the Blessed Virgin and St Joseph"
Text after 'Revelations of St Bridget'
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