Sunday, August 31, 2008


(starts 30th August and ends on Sept 7th the vigil of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or alternatively may be said on nine consecutive hours on the vigil day, Sept 7th)

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.
O God, who hast taught the hearts of Thy faithful people by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant us in the same Spirit to relish what is right, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen

(State your intention)

Most holy Mary, Elect One, predestined from all eternity by the Most Holy Trinity to be Mother of the only-begotten Son of the Eternal Father, foretold by the Prophets, expected by the Patriarchs, desired by all nations, Sanctuary and living Temple of the Holy Ghost, Sun without stain, conceived free from original sin, Mistress of Heaven and of Earth, Queen of angels:- humbly prostrate at thy feet we give thee our homage, rejoicing that the year has brought round again the memory of thy most happy Nativity; and we pray thee with all our hearts to vouchsafe in thy goodness now to come down again and be reborn spiritually in our souls, that, led captive by thy loveliness and sweetness, they may ever live united to thy most sweet and loving heart.

So now whilst we say nine angelic salutations, we will direct our thoughts to the nine months which thou didst pass enclosed in thy mother’s womb; celebrating at the same time thy descent from the royal house of David, and how thou didst come forth to the light of heaven with high honour from the womb of holy Anna, thy most happy mother.
Ave Maria.

We hail thee, heavenly Babe, white Dove of purity; who in spite of the serpent wast conceived free from original sin.
Ave Maria.

We hail thee, bright Morn; who, forerunner of the Heavenly Sun of Justice, didst bring the first light to earth.
Ave Maria.

We hail thee, Elect; who, like the untarnished Sun, didst burst forth in the dark night of sin.
Ave Maria.

We hail thee, beauteous Moon; who didst shed light upon a world wrapt in the darkness of idolatry.
Ave Maria.

We hail thee, dread Warrior-Queen; who, in thyself a host, didst put to flight all hell.
Ave Maria.

We hail thee, fair Soul of Mary; who from eternity wast possessed by God and God alone.
Ave Maria.

We hail thee, dear Child, and we humbly venerate thy most holy infant body, the sacred swaddling-clothes wherewith they bound thee, the sacred crib wherein they laid thee, and we bless the hour and the day when thou wast born.
Ave Maria.

We hail thee, much-loved Infant, adorned with every virtue immeasurably above all saints, and therefore worthy Mother of the Saviour of the world; who, having been made fruitful by the Holy Spirit, didst bring forth the Word Incarnate.
Ave Maria.

O most lovely Infant, who by thy holy birth hast comforted the world, made glad the heavens, struck terror into hell, brought help to the fallen, consolation to the sad, salvation to the weak, joy to all men living; we entreat thee, with the most fervent love and gratitude, to be spiritually reborn in our souls by means of thy most holy love; renew our spirits to thy service, rekindle in our hearts the fire of charity, bid all the virtues blossom there, that so we may find more and more favour in thy gracious eyes. Mary! be thou our Mary, and may we feel the saving power of thy sweetest name; may it ever be our comfort to call on that name in all our troubles; may it be our hope in dangers, our shield in temptation, and our last utterance in death. Let the name of Mary be honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, joy in the heart. Amen.

V. Thy Nativity, O Virgin Mother of God.
R. Hath brought joy to the whole world.

Let us pray.
Grant to us Thy servants, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the gift of heavenly grace; that to all those for whom the delivery of the Blessed Virgin was the beginning of salvation, this her votive festival may give increase of peace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Main picture is A.Durer "Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary" and the figurine is "Nino Maria" from Carmelite Monastery in Andalucia, Spain Museum.

Read whole post......

Interview with Carmelite monk of ancient observance from Carmelite Monastery in Wyoming

Pertinacious Papist posted an interview with Carmelite monk from Monastery in Wyoming and we can read a story of Br Simon Mary vocation HERE

Read whole post......

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lanherne, the oldest Carmel in England - the whole story

Is is good to ponder sometimes on old, happier times, when vocations flourished, convents, monasteries and churches were full to the brim and people were probably much happier than today. It may help to keep us hopeful and prayerful for better times to come, trusting in Our Lady of Mount Carmel love for her Order.

Lanherne ancient Manor House in a beautiful Cornish village of St Mawgan-in-Pydar set in Vale of Lanherne has always been the jewel of the village, and was endowed to the Carmelite nuns by the Arundells of Lanherne who lived there from the 13th to 18th centuries.

The Chapel of Lanherne serves as the Roman Catholic Parish Church. It is very small, built in the style of Louis XIV, with some highly decorative features including the Bathstone altar with carved medallions depicting the Agony in the Garden, the Crucifixion and the Last Supper. Of particular interest is the Arundell sanctuary lamp. Tradition claims that it has not been extinguished since pre-Reformation days. Lanherne is the oldest Carmel in England founded by Antwerp Carmel in 1619. In that year Ven Anne of Jesus, the chosen companion of the great St Teresa, being unable to go to Antwerp in person, sent two of her community to that City to open a Convent for English Carmelites. She was assisted financially in foundation work by Lady Mary Lovel. This lady, who was left a widow in 1616, had a great desire to help Catholics persecuted at Penal times in their own country. Lady Lovel, after seeking advice decided upon the establishment of an English Carmel in Flanders. Both St Teresa and Ven Anne of Jesus loved England, and there were already three English nuns in the Order: Anne Worsley - Sister Anne of the Ascension who was sub-Prioress at Mechlin; Teresa Ward - Sister Teresa of Jesus who has just returned to Mons after being sub-Prioress at Cracow (Poland) for six years, and Clare Leithwaite - Sister Clare of Jesus who entered at Louvain. These three were sent to the new convent at Antwerp which was established in that quarter of the city called Hopland, the site having been shown by the Blessed Virgin on three different occassions to Lady Lovel, Anne Worseley, and the Provincial of the DIscalced Carmelite Friars.
The foundation flourished greatly, and before her death in 1644 the first Prioress, Anne Worsley, gave the habit to fifty ladies and sent filiations to Bois-le-Duc (later removed to Alost), Cologne (associated later with St Edith Stein), and Dusseldorf. The first Prioress, Teresa Ward, (sister of Mary Ward, the foundress of the "English Ladies" or Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary) made a foundation at Lierre, which is now Darlington. In 1687, a third English foundation was made at Hoogstraet, now the Carmelite Convent at Chichester. These three Carmels remained wholly English, but nuns from Antwerp made foundations and ruled as Prioresses, or filled other important offices in Munstereigel and Neuburg, as well as in Aix-la-Chapelle. And so for 175 years the work went on, as generation after generation of English women, many of noble birth, crossed the sea to Belgium, to learn at the feet of Our Lady of Mount Carmel the virtues of the inner life, the home of Nazareth. At length God willed that they should be transplanted to their own country. In 1794 the French revolutionary armies attacked Belgium for the second time, and the nuns had to flee the country. The Toleration Act of 1781 had brought an improvement in the status of Catholics in England, and by the passing of the Act, the oaths and declarations required of Catholics in previous reigns were no longer enforced, they were permitted to live in London, and religious worship was permitted in those Chapels which had been certified at the quarter sessions.
On Sunday morning, June 29th, in company with the Augustinian nuns of Bruges they chartered a corn boat from Rotterdam and set sail for their native land. They arrived at Wapping on the 12th of July. The little party of nuns from Antwerp were entertained for some weeks in London by Mrs Tunstall at her house - 3 Orchard Street, Portman Sq, then through the kindness of Lord and Lady Arundell of Wardour the old Manor House of Lanherne was placed at their disposal.

On the 10th of September, 1794, the Mother Prioress Elizabeth Maddocks accompanied by twelve nens and three lay sisters took up their residence in that halllowed spot. The house, however, had fallen into state of disrepair through prolonged absence of its owners. Noble family of Arundell has always been dedicated and illustrious Catholics and suffered a lot during Penal times, the Manor House returned to the family some time before the nuns arrived and required a lot of refurbishment. One of the nuns shortly after their arrival from Antwerp wrote: "only three rooms were habitable, it was a place where smugglers hid their goods, having free ingress at all times, so much so that one of our sisters once met one of these gentlemen, to his great surprise." The repairs to the Convent, dedicated to St Joseph and St Anne, took several years, and it was not until February 27th, 1797, that the first plan of enclosure was drawn up by Dr. Walmsey, Bishop of Rama and Vicar Apostolic. After the alterations were completed, with what thankful hearts the sisters must have resumed their lives of prayer and penance in this historic spot, where the light of the true Faith has burned brightly through so many centuries of history.

The Convent Building.

The setting of the house alone would have brought peace and atonement; situated as it is on a little height at the end of one of the sweetest valleys in Cornwall; nestling among green fields and orchards, with a gallant band of age-old elms to screen it from the gaze of the passer-by. At the foot of the hill a little stream rustles its way through the ever-widening valley to the sea two miles distant. It is a rocky coast at Mowgan Parth, and in the winter, and on stormy nights, the roar of the great Atlantic breakers must often reach the ears of the nuns in their quiet retreat. But on a fine summer evening, when the waves roll in the slow and easy motion, and we retrace our steps up the valley, we find the cows standing knee deep in the pools of the stream, silently one or two anglers watch for the trout to dart from behind the boulders; the smell of thousands of small wild flowers hangs sweetly on the air, only the chirrup of crickets breaks the stillness, and the tiny breeze of sunset, which has accompanied us on our way, rippling the stream, and bending the lush grasses, dies away in a sigh among the aged elms standing sentinel before the Convent. And peace, the very peace of heaven it would seem, settles over the vale of Lanherne.

The entrance to the Convent, the old staircase, and the windows on the centre court inside the Convent are Elizabethan. Sir Christopher Wren refaced the building and in later days Bishop Vaughan caused considerable alterations to be made.

The Chapel.

As the Teresian Carmelites are strictly enclosed, the only part of the Convent open to the public is the comparatively modern chapel attached to the main building. The Chapel, small in dimension, is built in the style of Louis XIV with rich ornamentations, and contains a beautiful altar of Bath stone in the Gothic style; three exquisite medallions in the front of the altar represent the Sacrifice of Isaac, the Crucifixion, and the Last Supper; in the niches are finely sculptured figures representing Our Lady, St John the Baptist, St Anne, St Teresa, St Joseph, and the Angel Raphael. Pillars of marble and alabaster surmounted by four beautifully carved angels in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. The nuns' choir is behind the grille on the left hand site of the Chapel facing the second altar. The old silver lamp burning before the Blessed Sacrament is the one which tradition claims has not been extinguished since pre-reformation days; it bears the crest of the Arundells - three swallows; "les hirondelles" was formerly a punning version of the name.

During September, 1895, the nuns kept the centenary of their arrival at Lanherne. Pontifical High Mass was sung by the Right Rev C. Graham DD (Coadjutor Bishop of Plymouth) in celebration of the event. On the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16th, 1919, they celebrated the third centenary of Antwerp foundation, the late Bishop of Plymouth (Rev. John Kelly) pontificating on this occasion. The convent Chapel serves as the parish church for the Catholics of Mowgan and the district, the beautiful neighbouring 13th century church having passed at the reformation into Anglican parish.

The Arundell aisle in this church remained for some years the property of that family and of the Convent, and ten of the Carmelite nuns are buried there.

The old Cross of Lanherne.

Near the chapel door, in what was formerly the nuns' burial ground, stands the four-holed cross of Lanherne. It is one of the most beautifully executed specimens of a decorated Celtic Cross in the country and is in a very good state of preservation. It is made of Pentewan stone, and it makes it softer and easier to work than granite. It was brought to Lanherne chapel many years ago from the field called "Chapel Close" on the Barton of Roseworthy in the parish of Gwinear near Camborne. It has inscriptions in Hiberno-Saxon characters possibly of the name of Bl Ide the Irish Martyr. The cross is very similat to the one set in the churchyard of St Ives (depicted below).

The Treasures of Lanherne
The most guarded treasure of Lanherne Convent was the skul of the Blessed Martyr, Cuthbert Mayne, Catholic convert and companion of St Edmund Campion at St John College in Oxford. He was ordained Catholic priest at Douai in 1575 and was martyred on November 29th 1577. He is one of Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

It was lent annually by the nuns, for the pilgrimage to Louceston, when this holy relic is carried in procession through the streets of the town. Among many valuable and ancient vestments, the Community prized especially the set of vestments worked by Lady Lovel for the opening of the Antwerp Carmel in 1619, and which were worn by the late Bishop of Plymouth at the celebration of the third centenary of the foundation in 1919. A fine oil painting of the Scourging of our Lord, attributed to Rubens, was brought over from Antwerp, the Reverend Mother carrying it rolled round her person during the nuns' flight from that town. The Community also possess portraits of ten of the English martyrs, which came to them through Miss Mary Gifford, of Staffordshire, in remarkable circumstances. The Carmel of Antwerp being at one time short of vocations, the nuns made a novena to the English Martyrs; shortly after miss Giffort presented herself; she was admitted, and in due course made her profession on April 8th, 1681, taking the name of Sister Mary of the English Martyrs. She brought with her to Antwerp the portraits of the Holy Martyrs with whom her own father had been for a time imprisoned for the Faith. On the eve of their execution he draw their portraits, and although he had never before done any drawing or painting, he succeded in a marvelous manner. Another member of the family - Margaret - entered the order much earlier; she was professed on June 17th, 1627, her name in religion being Sister Angela of the Holy Ghost.

In June 1914 a little band of sisters set out from Notting Hill Carmel to found the Carmel of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, in Eccleston, St. Helens. Interestingly, at least half of them were converts. The Community flourished and the peaceful rythm of Carmelite Life was lived with deep prayer. In the late eighties extensive dry rot was found in the old mansion house and so new living accommodation had to be built. The Chapel, Choir etc. which had been built at the time of the foundation were not affected. This new building led in time to the next stage in the history of the convent. In the Summer of 2001 the Carmel of Lanherne amalgamated with Carmel of St Helen.

Read whole post......

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The English Teresians and their American Sisters - to be continued

Today I commence posting pieces of my little study on the history of Carmel in the post-Reformation era in England and America. It might be helpful to those interested in Carmelite Spirituality, to understand it better in the context of historical development of the Order and its missionary work. These needs arose after suppression of Catholicism in England. The text is based on very informative yet charming in zeal and devotion book compiled from approved sources by anonymous in the Convent of Discalced Carmelites of Boston and Santa Clara and entitled "Carmel - its history, spirit, and saints" (1927) with imprimatur by Archbishops of Boston and San Francisco.

Venerable Mother Ann of the Ascension (Worsley)
After the suppression of monastic life in England the first Carmel Community for English ladies was established in the year 1619 in Antwerp (Belgium) thanks to charity and zeal of Lady Lovel. The first Prioress was Mother Ann of the Ascension (Worsley). She was of noble birth, her father went over to Low Countries with King Philip of Spain and followed the King to Spain preferring life of immigrant rather than to remain under the rule of a Protestant Queen in his own country. Over the following years he married a noble Spanish lady of royal blood and became a father to two illustrious for their sanctity daughters, for both of them entered Carmel and became shining lights in the Order. The younger girl, Teresa of Jesus, was the first novice to head the Profession Book in the English convent at Antwerp, of which her older sister was Prioress. The admirable traits which these two noble souls had inherited from their parents naturally fitted them for the the work God called them to do, which was to engraft upon the solidity of the English character the lofty enthusiasm and seraphic love of the glorious daughter of Spain, the incomparable Teresa. The attestation of the work of Mother Ann can be found in the letter preserved in old Chronicle of the Monastery in Antwerp and written in the year 1621 by Br Mathias of St Francis, General of the Discalced Province, who visited English Monastery of St Joseph and have found the nuns 'well disposed' by the grace of God, both spiritual and temporal, most virtuous and observant. The Chronicle relate further significant increase of vocations from among English ladies of the most ancient families who 'in flower of their youth hearkening to the inspirations of the Divine Spirit, became forgetful of the house of their father and, forsaking their friends and native land, came to Israel, which He has shown them, where they lived in such great perfection and union of minds as it might be truly said of them with the primitive Christians, 'This happy multitude had but one heart and one soul'. In all proceedings, great sincerity, alacrity, and peace of mind, zeal of observance, love of poverty, a high esteem of their vocation; and such an obedience as it was sufficient for them to understand the inclinations of their Superiors; a total fortgetfulness and contempt of the world; a continual emulation in the progress of virtue'...'The temporal means at first were small, and necessary expenses many, yet we never wanted, Divine Providence admirably supplying by sending alms when we were in need. Many times pieces of gold were laid in the Turn without the Turn sister knowing how they came there, and one day, wanting bread for dinner, we found in the Turn just as much as was necessary without ever knowing whence it came.'
Before the death of Venerable Mother Ann of the Ascension, the Divine Majesty was pleased to show many signs to the Community. A full choir of voices was heard singing these words of the Office of All Saints, "Vidi turbam magnam", and music was heard that could not come by any natural means. At the very time of her decease, one of the Religious, being absent, was wakened out of her sleep by the sound of music, at which being frightened, for it was about midnight, she came with great speed, conceiving our Mother was dying, as indeed she was, or rather beginning a better life, adorned with celestial graces and merits, she being the first person who brought our Blessed Mother Teresa into the English nation, and maintained the Community from its very infancy , not only in perfect observance, but in a matchless and divine spirit of peace and love. Thus, after many labours and languishing desires after the Beloved of her heart, repeating these words, "Veni Domini, et noli tardare" - "Come, Lord, and tarry not" - she went to enjoy in His Divine Presence the eternal reward of her labours, dying in great fame and opinion of sanctity in the year of our Lord 1644. Our Most Reverend Lord Bishop Gaspar Nemius, out of devotion and affection towards her, sang the mass, preached the funeral sermon and buried her. This illustrious prelate was wont to call this Community "the Children of his heart," which he made appear on all occasions, declaring publicly the interior satisfaction he received from their obervance and union. This he testified under his hand to Pope Innocent IV, of which we yet keep a copy. Similar report was given by the predecessor of Bb Nemius, Lord John Maldernus, where he affirmed that the true Constitutions of our glorious Mother St Teresa were here in vigour and that in his visits and in all the informations which were brought him, he had never found anything that could amount to a venial sin.
There can be found more testimonies of from other Superiors, including Lord Bishop of Antwerp and Lord Bishop Ambrosius Capello who wrote to Archb Mechlin as follows: "I assure your Lordship, that in all my Diocese I have not any Monastery of Nuns in which there is greater regular observance, charity and edifying love, than in these two English houses of Antwerp and Lierre, which may truly serve as patterns to all the Monasteries in the world."
Mother Ann of the Ascension was succeeded in office by great and worthy souls, who continued the work she had begun; the Religious were remarkable for their sanctity and the lives of several have been written, giving accounts of these chosen souls. In the course of one hundred years, seven incorrupt bodies were found in the three Carmelite communities of Antwerp, Musterfeld and Newburg (the latter two being founded from Antwerp). The Chronicles continue: "the heroical actions of leaving friends, country and plentiful fortunes, in young ladies of the prime nobility and some of the blood royal of England, endowed with many others gifts of nature, may give us a sufficient idea of the many celestial graces and favours with which God is often pleased to reward such even in this life.

Sister Mary of St Albert (Trentum)
We read in Chronicles, her practice of virtues, self-denials and mortifications were exemplary and her silence was so exact that she could never accuse herself to have broken it with reflection. She lived in constant awareness of the presence of Almighty God and so great was her internal joy therein, that she was often forced to divert herself to keep it from appearing publicly. After her death her confessor said we might esteem her for her virtues and practices as a second to none.

Sister Mary of Jesus (Morgan)
Was descendant of Herberts family and was heiress to the large and ample possessions of her father, and as well for that as for the perfections and graces of her person, was asked in marriage by the greatest Earls of the Kingdom. Her particular vocation to the Carmelite Order was admirable, for so contrary to her complexion were all our observances, that she knew they must shorten her life, as in reality it proved; but this knowledge she kept to herself, and with an unwearied fervor, constantly persevered in all observances without the least dispensation, till her last sickness, which was but three days before her happy death;..Her obedience was most exemplary, and this obedience she observed not only to her superiors, but to the least subordinate official, with an incomparable sweetness and humility, which was the more admirable in her by reason of the natural greatness of her mind and the habitual sudtom she had to command. Her charity and love to the Community appeared by the entire donation she made to this Monastery of her whole estate, which ahd been sufficient to found in a plentiful manner two other such monasteries, had not the miseries of our distressed country detained ud from our right. Her humility was do great, that she thought herself the most incapable person in the world. She lived only five years (in the convent), yet the examples of her virtues are innumerable and never and never to be forgotten in the Community.

Sister Ann of the Angels (Lady Mary Somerset)
She could not be contend till she became poor in the house of Jesus Christ, in which she ever sought the meanest employment, performing them with such delight as was of most exemplary edification. Her friends, considering her physical weakness, thought our Order much too hard for her, but breaking through many difficulties and oppositions to enter amongst us, she truly experienced and showed to the world hos light love makes the heaviest burdens. She was particularly favoured by our Lord in a supernatural way; whereby the Divine Majesty finding her ripe for Heaven, took her to His Celestial Paradise, there to receive the reward of her great virtues.

In the profession list of Antwerp are found the names of seven of the Howard family and several of Wakemans.

Sister Mary of St Joseph (Vaughn) of Courtfield
She was born in 1632 and was professed in 1649 and the age of seventeen. She had been sent as novice on the new foundation to Lierre, which had been began in 1648, and was not completed until the following year. She died at the ripe age of seventy-seven years, in 1709, having during that long religious life never lost her first fervour, but increased every day in continual tendency to religious perfection.

The Vaughns were always staunch Catholics; their record of fine, imprisonment, and double land tax for their fidelity to the old faith, is superb one. Bishop Challoner says of Rev Thomas Vaughn, ordained at Douai, 1622, that though he did not suffer at the common place of execution, he was a martyr for his character and religion, and took his life in his hands, serving the English Missions for many years. he appears to have died at Cardiff after "suffering hard usage", in 1650 just after the Profession of his young relative in Carmel.

Read whole post......

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday - Day of Our Lady

Our Lord Appearance - The Blessed Virgin speaks
Such as my Son is in Heaven you cannot behold. But hear what He was in body in the world. He was so beautiful of countenance that no one looked Him in the face without being consoled by His aspect, even if heartbroken with grief. The just were consoled with spiritual consolation; and even the bad were relieved from worldly sadness as long as they gazed upon Him. Hence, those in grief were wont to say: "Let us go and see Mary's Son; we shall be relieved for that time." In His twentieth year He was perfect in manly strength and stature. Amid those of modern times He would be large, not fleshy, but of large frame and muscle. His hair, eyebrows, and beard were of a light brown, His beard a hand's width long. His forehead not prominent or retreating, but erect. His nose moderate, neither small nor large; his eyes were so pure that even His enemies delighted to look upon Him; His lips not thick, but clear red. His chin was not prominent or over long, but graceful in beautiful moderation. his cheeks modestly fleshy, His complexion clear white and red. His bearing erect, and His whole body spotless. (Lib. iv., c.70)

Text after St Bridget 'Revelations', and the picture is beautiful crown image of Polish Madonna from Rokitno - with blessings to my fellows Poles visiting the blog.

Read whole post......

Monday, August 18, 2008

Little gem from St Therese.

To prove that God looks only to the love which inspires our actions, one day Soeur Therese related the following story to us:

"Once there was a great lord who built a church in his realm as a lasting memorial to his liberality. On the day of the grand dedication, this sovereign's name and the name of his family could be clearly seen, carved in bold letters on one of the prominent stones of the building. The next day, hhowever, the only name to be seen on the stone was that of some unknown woman. Needless to say, the original inscription, which had been completely obliterated, was restored at once, but the same phenomenon again took place. After several renewed attempts to by-pass the miracle were similarly frustrated, the orate lord began an investigation. he had at the outset forbidden his subject to contribute, even in a small way, to this project; he was to be the sole donor.. Now he began to suspect that somebody had secretly interfered with his plan. the unknown name was, therefore, duly identified, and the guilty woman summoned to justice. Denying, at first, all responsibility in the matter, she suddenly remembered....During the building operations, she had noticed how difficult it was for the horses to drag along the heavy cartloads of stone, and with her last coin, she had bought a truss of hay for them. 'These dumb animals are, in certain way, participating in this great work,' she had reasoned,'and as I have been deprived of the privilage of contributing directly to this temple, perhaps God will accept the offering I am making through them...' That was the extent of her guilt. The humbled sovereign fully understood...and there was no further interferance with the miraculous inscription."

"This proves," Therese added, "that the most trivial work, the least action when inspired by love, is often of greater merit than the most outstanding achievement. It is not on their face value that God judges our deeds, even when they bear the stamp of apparent holiness, but solely on the measure of love we put into them....And there is no one," she concluded, "who can object that he is incapable of even this much, for such love is within the reach of all men."

from 'A memoir of my sister St Therese'
Read whole post......

Sunday, August 17, 2008


At the Introit of the Mass excite in your heart an ardent desire for heaven, with these words:

Behold, O God, our protector, and look on the face of thy Christ:, for better is one day, in thy courts above thousands. How lovely are thy taber­nacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord. (Ps 133) Glory etc.

Keep, We beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy Church with Thy perpetual favor; and because without Thee the weakness of man is ready to fall, may it be withheld by Thy aid from all. things hurtful, and devoted to all things profitable to salvation. Thro'.

EPISTLE (Gal 5: 16-24)
Brethren, Walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh: for the flesh lusteth against ,the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh: for these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the things that you would. But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are, fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunken­ness, revellings, and such like: of the which I foretell to you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mild­ness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified their flesh with the vices and concupiscences.

What is it to walk in the spirit?
It is to obey the inspirations of the Holy Ghost always, and in all things. He who does this, says St. Paul, will not do the evil works of the flesh, which are here enumerated, but he will rather suppress and mortify all sensual desires, in this manner crucify his flesh together with its vices and lusts, and make himself worthy of the fruits of the Holy Ghost, which are also mentioned; he will belong to Christ, and secure for himself eternal happiness. On the contrary, he who lives according to the flesh, that is, gives way to the desires of the flesh, has no hope of salvation. Is it not strange, that all Christians wish to belong to Christ and become heirs of His kingdom, but are unwilling to crucify the flesh and its lusts, though Christ says to all; If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Matt 16: 24).

Intercede for me, O St. Paul, that God may give me grace to crucify my flesh with its lusts, that I may have part with thee in Christ:

GOSPEL (Matt 6: 24-33)
At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will sustain the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon. Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat, and the body more than the raiment? Behold the birds of the air; for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns, and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you, by taking thought, can add to his stature one cubit? And for raiment, why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they labor not, neither do they spin; but I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. Now, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which is to-day, and to morrow is cast into the oven, how much more you, O ye of little faith? Be not solicitous, therefore, saying: What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that .you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God and his justice; and all these things shall be added unto you.

What is meant by serving God?
Doing the will of God, or performing faithfully and zealously all that God asks of us according to our age and condition, and for love of Him.

Who are the two masters whom we cannot serve alike?
God and Mammon or riches, whereby also, the other goods and pleasures of the world are understood. These we cannot serve at the same time, because they command things diametrically opposed to each other; for instance, God prohibits usury, theft, deceit, &c.; to which the desire for wealth impels us. God commands that we keep holy Sundays and holy days, and devote them to His service; the desire for riches tempts man to omit religious worship and to seek temporal gain; it disturbs him even in church, so that he is only present with his body, but absent in mind with his temporal goods and business.

To whom can riches be useful?
To those who, like the saints, perform works of mercy with them, and thus lay up treasures for themselves in heaven.

Why does Christ call our attention to the birds of the air and the lakes of the field?
To, excite in us confidence in the providence of God, which preserves even the birds and the flowers. Surely, if God feeds the young ravens which cry to Him (Ps 146: 9); if He nourishes the birds which neither sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns; if He vests the flowers of the field so beautifully, how much more will He care for man whom He has made to His own image and likeness, and adopted as His child, if he only acts as such, keeps His commandments, and always entertains a filial confidence in Him.

Should we, therefore, lay aside all care and never work?
This does not follow from what has been said. Christ condemns only the superfluous cares, which cause man to forget God and to neglect the salvation of his soul. Besides, God has Himself ordered (Gen 3: 17-19) that man should obtain the fruits of the earth with much labor, that he should earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. St. Paul says: If any man will not work, neither let him eat. (2Thess 3: 10)

What should preserve us from superfluous cares?
A firm and lively faith, that God can and will help us. That He can is evident, because He is almighty; that His will is certain, because He promises it in so many pas­sages of Holy Writ, and because He is infinitely faithful to all His promises. Christ encourages us to this lively confidence with these, words: All things whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive and they shall come unto you (Mark 11:24) Therefore the apostle also commands us to throw all cares upon the Lord, who provides for us (1 Pet 5:7). And why should God not care for us, since He sent us His Son and with Him all; for which reason St. Augustine says: "How can you doubt that God will give you good things, since He vouchsafed to assume evil for you!"

O Lord Jesus! give me a firm confidence in Thy Divine Providence, and daily increase it in me, that when in necessity I may confidently believe if I seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, the rest shall be added unto me.

Be not solicitous for your life (Matt 6:25)

If you were born in poverty, or accidentally, or through your own fault have become poor, be consoled, because God has sent you this poverty for your own good; for good things and evil, life arid death, poverty and riches are, from God. (Ecclus 11:14). Therefore receive it from the hand of God without impatience or murmuring, as a means by which He wishes to keep you from forgetting Him, which would, perhaps, happen if He were to bless you with temporal prosperity. Riches are a source of destruction for many. If you have brought poverty upon yourself by a licentious and sinful life, receive it in a spirit of penance as a just and salutary chastisement, and thank God that He gives you an opportunity to do penance for your sins. But if you have become poor through no fault of your own, be consoled by the example of the saints, of whom St. Paul says: they bear the unjust taking away of their goods with joy, because they know that a better and an unchangeable treasure is in store for them in heaven. (Hebr 10:34) But you should particularly take courage from the example of Christ who, being rich, became poor for us, (2 Cor 8:9) and had not a place whereon to lay His head. (Matt 8: 20). In your distress say with Job: The Lord gave and the Lord bath taken away: as it pleased the Lord, so it is done: blessed be the name of the Lord. Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither (Job 1: 21). Fear not my son, says Tobias, we lead indeed a poor life, but we shall have many good things if we fear God, and depart from all sins, and do that which is good. (Tob 6: 23) To serve God and to be content with few things always brings rich reward, if not in this, at least in the next life. Therefore Christ promised the kingdom of heaven to the poor in spirit, that is, not only to the humble, busy also to the poor who imitate Christ in all patience and resignation. Follow, therefore, the poor Jesus, follow His poor mother, by imitating their example, and you will possess the kingdom of heaven.

You cannot serve God and Mammon (Matt 6: 24).

Usury is to demand more than legal interest from our neighbor, to whom we have lent something, or who is otherwise indebted to us. Those are also commonly called usurers, who, in times of want, hoard up necessary food, such as grain, flour, &c., and only sell it at an exorbitant price; or who buy up all such articles to sell them to the needy for enormous prices. This is a grievous sin, and usurers are threatened with eternal death, for Christ ex­pressly prohibits lending with usury (Luke 6: 34, 35).
Usurers are the real leeches of the poor, whom they rob of their sweat and blood, and since they transgress the natural law, but still more the divine, which commands us to love our neighbor, and be merciful to the needy, they will surely not possess the kingdom of heaven. Would to God, the hard-hearted sinner might consider this, and take to heart the words of Christ: What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul (Matt 16: 26).

Text after Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine's 'The Church's Year'.
Picture is by Gustave Dore 'Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7)'.

Read whole post......

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It has always been Carmelite devotion to venerate parents of Our Blessed Lady. The picture below shows the moment of Joachim and Anna meeting at the Golden Gate of the Temple (by Hans Fries, dutch Master). In today's reading we have this beautiful fragment of the Book of Sirach to reflect upon how different and mysterious are God's ways:

Sirach 31:8-11.
Blessed is the rich man that is found without blemish: and that hath not gone after gold, nor put his trust in money nor in treasures. Who is he, and we will praise him? for he hath done wonderful things in his life. Who hath been tried thereby, and made perfect, he shall have glory everlasting. He that could have transgressed, and hath not transgressed: and could do evil things, and hath not done them: Therefore are his goods established in the Lord, and all the church of the saints shall declare his alms.

Father of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary
(† ca. 7 B.C.)

Joachim, of the tribe of Juda and the family of David, was a shepherd of Nazareth. Stolanus, father of Saint Anne, gave him his pious daughter in marriage. The two spouses lived in the fear of the Lord and the practice of good works. They divided all their wealth into three parts: the first was regularly given to the temple, for its support and that of the ministers of religion; they gave the second part to the poor, while the last and least excellent served for the needs of the family. Nonetheless, happiness had not come to this home — the spouse of Joachim was unable to conceive a child.

For twenty years already they had prayed to God to deliver them from this opprobrium. The holy couple invariably went, according to custom at the Feast of Tabernacles, to the Holy City. There the high priest was immolating the victims when Joachim presented himself in his turn, bearing a lamb; Anne followed him. The high priest had only words of contempt and reproach for them, and in the presence of the people he rejected their offering.

Joachim did not have the heart to return to Nazareth; his grief prompted him to seek solitude and prayer. Anne returned alone to their residence, and he retired to a region near Jerusalem, where shepherds were pasturing their sheep. The silent calm of pastoral life, brought some relief to the wound of his heart. Who has not known how solitude brings one closer to God?

One day when he was alone in the fields, the Angel Gabriel came and stood before him. Joachim prostrated himself, trembling with fear. “Do not fear,” said the heavenly messenger. “I am the Angel of the Lord, and it is God Himself who sends me. He has heard your prayers; your alms have come before His presence. Anne, your spouse, will bear a daughter whose happiness will be above that of other women; She will be blessed, and named the Mother of eternal blessing. You will name the Child Mary and consecrate Her to God when the time comes. The Holy Spirit, from the time She is in the womb of Her mother, will dwell in Her soul, and He will accomplish in Her great things.” With those words, the Angel disappeared.

The Archangel’s announcement and the Lord’s promise were fulfilled. Joachim in his turn was faithful to the commands of the Lord. His daughter received the name of Mary, and when She was three years old, he and Saint Anne entrusted Her to the pious women who in the temple of Jerusalem brought up young girls consecrated to the Lord. Mary had lived there under the gaze of God for eight years, when Joachim died, laden with merits and virtues. Anne, his spouse, had him buried in the Valley of Josaphat, not far from the Garden of Gethsemane, and one year later rejoined him there.

Sources: La vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé Pradier; Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 9.

Read whole post......

Friday, August 15, 2008


link to pray Novena

For more information about the Feast of Assumption, devotions and the sermon of St John Damascenes on the dormition of Mary, please follow LINK

Read whole post......

Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady

Pius XII states in the constitution "Munificentissimus Deus," which defined belief in the Assumption as a matter of faith:

"All the arguments and considerations of the Fathers and theologians rest on Sacred Scripture for their ultimate foundation. The Scriptures present the beloved Mother of God as most intimately united with her divine Son as ever sharing in his lot. Hence, it seems all but impossible to see her who conceived Christ. . .as separated from him, if not in soul, yet in body, after her life on earth was over. . .Seeing that by preserving her from the corruption of the tomb he could give her such great honor, we must believe that he actually did so."

St. John Damascene (d. 749) called the Doctor of the Assumption, writes, "On this day the holy and animated Ark of the living God, which had held within it its own Maker, is borne to rest in that Temple of the Lord, which is not made with hands. David, whence it sprang, leapeth before it, and in company with him the Angels dance, the Archangels sing aloud, the Virtues ascribe glory, the Principalities shout for joy, the Powers make merry, the Dominions rejoice, the Thrones keep holiday, the Cherubim utter praise, and the Seraphim proclaim its glory."
Documentation testifies that the feast was celebrated first in the Eastern Church in the second half of the sixth century. Pope Sergius I (687-701) ordered its observance in Rome. At first it was kept as a memorial of Mary's death, her falling asleep (dormition), and it gradually came to be a commemoration of her Assumption as such.

1. The Blessed Virgin Mary, whom we contemplate today assumed body and soul into heaven, reminds us very definitely that our permanent abode is not on earth but in heaven where she, with her divine Son, has preceded us in all the fullness of her human nature. This is the dominant thought in today's liturgy. "O Almighty and everlasting God, who hast taken up body and soul into heavenly glory the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Thy Son: grant, we beseech Thee, that, ever intent upon heavenly things, we may be worthy to be partakers of her glory" (Collect).

The Feast of the Assumption is a strong appeal to us to live "ever intent upon heavenly things," (or to have always on mind our salvation - Jay) and not allow ourselves to be carried away by the vicissitudes and seductions of the world. Not only was our soul created for heaven, but also our body, which, after the resurrection, will be welcomed into our heavenly home and admitted to a participation in the glory of the spirit. Today we contemplate in Mary, our Mother, this total glorification of our humanity. That which has been wholly realized in her, will be realized for us, as well as for all the saints, only at the end of time. This privilege was very fitting for her, the all-pure, the all-holy one, whose body was never touched by even the faintest shadow of sin, but was always the temple of the Holy Spirit, and became the immaculate tabernacle of the Son of God. It is a reminder to us to ennoble our whole life, not only that of the spirit, but also that of the senses, elevating it to the heights of the celestial life which awaits us. "O Mother of God and of men," exclaims Pius XII in his beautiful prayer for the Assumption, "we beg you to purify our senses, so that we may begin to enjoy God here on earth and Him alone, in the beauty of creatures."

2. Mary's Assumption shows us the route we must follow in our spiritual ascent: detachment from the earth, flight toward God, and union with God. Our Lady was assumed body and soul into heaven because she was Immaculate; she was all-pure -- free not only from every shadow of sin, but even from the slightest attachment to the things of earth, so that she "never had the form of any creature imprinted in her soul, nor was moved by such, but was invariably guided by the Holy Spirit" (John of the Cross 'AS' 3: 2,10). The first requirement for attaining God is this total purity, the fruit of total detachment. The Blessed Virgin, who lived her earthly life in absolute detachment from every created thing, teaches us not to allow ourselves to be captivated by the fascination of creatures, but to live among them, occupying ourselves with them with much charity, but without ever letting our heart become attached to them, without ever seeking our satisfaction in them (very important point to understand what attachment is really all about, it means do not make a little idols out of ourselves (that happens quite often! - signs of it - great care, time and money spend on outfits, bodycare, hairstyle etc etc, on psychological level, selfishness and manipulativeness) from our dear ones, friends, work, or from any material possessions (Jay).

In her Assumption Mary speaks to us of flight toward heaven, toward God. It is not enough to purify our heart from sin and all attachment to creatures, we must at the same time direct it toward God, tending toward Him with all our strength. The Church has us pray in today's Mass, "O Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary who was assumed into heaven, may our hearts, enkindled by the fire of Thy love, continually aspire toward Thee" (Secret). Our earthly life has value for eternal life insofar as it is a flight toward God, a continual seeking after Him, a continual adherence to His grace. When this flight fails, the supernatural value of our existence lessens.

Mary has been taken up to heaven because she is the Mother of God. This is the greatest of her privileges, the root of all the others and the reason for them; it speaks to us, in a very special way, of intimate union with God, as the fact of her Assumption speaks to us of the beatific union of heaven. Mary herself stretches out her maternal hand to guide us to the
attainment of this high ideal. If we keep our eyes fixed on her, we shall advance more easily; she will be our guide, our strength, and our consolation in every trial and difficulty.

From "Divine Intimacy" by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

To read previous posts released on the Feast of Our Lady's Assumption Link 1
Link 2
Read whole post......

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Today is memorial of two martyrs who died reconciled enemies, the Pope and antipope. Edifying story to meditate upon, the story of two Saints zealous for the faith each in different way.

Optional memorial of St Pontian and Hyppolytus (d.235)

Two men died for the faith after harsh treatment and exhaustion in the mines of Sardinia. One had been pope for five years, the other an antipope for 18. They died reconciled.

Pontian was a Roman who served as pope from 230 to 235. During his reign he held a synod which confirmed the excommunication of the great theologian Origen in Alexandria. Pontian was banished to exile by the Roman emperor in 235, and resigned so that a successor could be elected in Rome. He was sent to the “unhealthy” island of Sardinia, where he died of harsh treatment in 235. With him was Hippolytus (see below) with whom he was reconciled. The bodies of both martyrs were brought back to Rome and buried with solemn rites as martyrs.

As a presbyter in Rome, Hippolytus (the name means “a horse turned loose”) was at first “holier than the Church.” He censured the pope for not coming down hard enough on a certain heresy—calling him a tool in the hands of one Callistus, a deacon—and coming close to advocating the opposite heresy himself. When Callistus was elected pope, Hippolytus accused him of being too lenient with penitents, and had himself elected antipope by a group of followers. He felt that the Church must be composed of pure souls uncompromisingly separated from the world, and evidently thought that his group fitted the description. He remained in schism through the reigns of three popes. In 235 he was also banished to the island of Sardinia. Shortly before or after this event, he was reconciled to the Church, and died with Pope Pontian in exile.
Hippolytus was a rigorist, a vehement and intransigent man for whom even orthodox doctrine and practice were not purified enough. He is, nevertheless, the most important theologian and prolific religious writer before the age of Constantine. His writings are the fullest source of our knowledge of the Roman liturgy and the structure of the Church in the second and third centuries. His works include many Scripture commentaries, polemics against heresies and a history of the world. A marble statue, dating from the third century, representing the saint sitting in a chair, was found in 1551. On one side is inscribed his table for computing the date of Easter, on the other a list of how the system works out until the year 224. Pope John XXIII installed the statue in the Vatican library.

Hippolytus was a strong defender of orthodoxy, and admitted his excesses by his humble reconciliation. He was not a formal heretic, but an overzealous disciplinarian. What he could not learn in his prime as a reformer and purist, he learned in the pain and desolation of imprisonment. It was a fitting symbolic event that Pope Pontian shared his martyrdom.

“Christ, like a skillful physician, understands the weakness of men. He loves to teach the ignorant and the erring he turns again to his own true way. He is easily found by those who live by faith; and to those of pure eye and holy heart, who desire to knock at the door, he opens immediately. He does not disdain the barbarian, nor does he set the eunuch aside as no man. He does not hate the female on account of the woman’s act of disobedience in the beginning, nor does he reject the male on account of the man’s transgression. But he seeks all, and desires to save all, wishing to make all the children of God, and calling all the saints unto one perfect man” (Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist).

The picture is of the famous statue of St Hyppolytus.
Text after American Catholic

Read whole post......

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Today is the Feast of St John Berchmans SJ, illustrious spiritual son of St Ignatius, well remembered for the purity of heart and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. The meditation below describes well pious disposition and preparation of the Saints to receive the Holy Communion. Good point to meditate upon in these days when Communion is commonly received in the hand while 'walking'.

Qui manet in charitate, in Deo manet, et Deus in eo - Who abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)

See why we never arrive at sanctification after so many Communions as we make! It is because we do not suffer the Lord to reign in us as He would desire. He enters our breasts and finds our hearts full of desires, affections and trifling vanities. This is not what He seeks. He would wish to find them quite empty, in order to render Himself absolute master and governor of them. (St. Francis de Sales)

The Saint himself possessed a heart of this latter kind. His confessor testifies of him that he would permit no affection to remain in it that was not of God and for God. And so, if he saw anything alien to this springing up, he was ready to extirpate it, as it were, with steel and fire. The Lord once said to a good soul that the best disposition for receiving abundant graces in Holy Communion is to empty the heart of everything. For if a great noble goes to the house of one of his retainers with the intention of filling all his boxes and chests, but finds them full of chaff and earth and sand, he is forced to retire with regret. This is the reason why holy souls have been so earnest in making good Communions. The Empress Leonora, who received three times a week, spent two hours in previous meditation.... After receiving, she remained for a quarter of an hour prostrate with her face upon the ground, conversing with her Divine Guest in sweet and tender welcome. Then, to retain the warmth of devotion through the day, she remained in silence and solitude in her room. St. Aloysius Gonzaga gave the whole week to his Communion. He offered the actions of the three days preceding it as a preparation, and so endeavored to do them well; and those of the three following days he intended for a thanksgiving.

The venerable Monseigneur de Palafox, after his conversion and while still a secular, communicated often, that is, once a week. He took up the practice of asking God for one virtue at each Communion, and resolving to extirpate some particular fault, occupying in this sometimes days, sometimes whole weeks. He thus endeavored, by the aid of Divine grace, to conquer his evil inclinations and to change his long-established habits, with a success that could be noticed from day to day. St. John Berchmans was unwilling to receive Communion on holidays, because, as he said, he could not preserve the necessary quiet and devotion on such days; and if he was to Communicate, he asked permission to remain in the house. He said on one occasion that each time he received Holy Communion he felt his soul perceptibly revived and invigorated.

Credits: Catholic Tradition website - "Catholic Virtues - a Year with the Saints". The painting depicting St John of the Cross in anticipation of Christ coming is by Nicolo Lorenese.

Read whole post......

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This story is said by St Therese' sister, Celine, and refers to the time both sisters shared in the Convent. This particular fragment showing us Therese in the last months of her illness in great suffering but still retaining warm, loving and light-hearted personality.

During the winter 1896-1897, in order to protect Therese's feet from the cold, Mere Marie de Gonzague, our Prioress, gave her an order of obedience to use a foot-warmer. This would enable my little sister who was already in a decline to have a warm pair of alpargates (sandals worn by Carmelites) always at hand. But the Saint never used this dispensation unless the necessity was great - and even then, only because it was Reverend mother's wish. Consequently, except when she was unusually chilled, Therese allowed the foot-warmer to cool off, much to my evident displeasure. "Other souls, at death," she observed in her light-hearted way, "present themselves before the heavenly court weighted down by their instruments of penance, whereas I shall appear there holding up my chaufferette (foot-warmer). Never mind, it is only love and obedience that count..."

taken from "A Memoir of My Sister St Therese", by Sr Genevieve (Celine Martin). Read whole post......

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Pray today at the Introit of the Mass with the Church against her enemies: Have regard, O Lord, to thy conversant, and forsake not to the end the souls of thy poor: arise, O Lord, and judge thy cause, and forget not the voices of them that seek thee. O God, why hast thou cast us off unto the end: why is thy wrath enkindled against the sheep of thy pasture? (Ps 73) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT Almighty and ever­lasting God, give unto us an increase of faith, hope and charity; and that we may obtain that which Thou dolt promise, make us to love that which Thou dost command.

EPISTLE (Gal 3:16-22)
Brethren, To Abraham were the promises made, and to his seed. He saith not: And to his seeds, as of many; but as of one: And to thy seed, which is Christ. Now this I say, that the testament which was confirmed by God, the law which was made after four hundred and thirty years doth not annul, or make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise. But God gave it to Abraham by promise. Why, then, was the law? It was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come to whom he made the promise, being ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not of one: but God is one. Was the law, then, against the promises of God? God forbid. For if there had been a law given which could give life, verily justice should have been by the law. But the scripture hath con­cluded all under sin, that the promise by the faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.


St. Paul in this epistle proves to the Galatians who were misled by false doctrines, and ad­hered too much to the Jewish Law, that they could be saved only through a lively faith in Christ, enriched by good works. Therefore he says that the great promises, made by God to Abraham, referred to Christ, through whom all nations of the earth, who would believe in Him, would be blessed and saved. (Gen 12:3 3 and 22: 18) The law, indeed, does not annul these promises, since it rather leads to their attainment, yet it must be placed after them because of their advantages, nay, even cease to exist, because the promises are now fulfilled, Christ, the promised Messiah, has really, appeared and liberated man, who could not be freed from their sins by the Jewish law.

ASPIRATION O, let us be grateful for this promise, yet more, how­ever, for the Incarnation of Christ, whereby this promise has been fulfilled.

GOSPEL (Luke 17: 11-19)
At that time, As Jesus was going to Jerusalem, he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee: and as he entered into a certain town, there met him ten men that were lepers, who stood afar off, and lifted up their voice, saying: Jesus, master, have mercy on us. Whom, when, he saw, he said: Go, show yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass, that as they went, they were made clean. And one of them, when he saw that he was made clean, went back, with a loud voice glorifying God, and he fell on his face before his feet, giving thanks: and this was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering, said: Were not ten made clean? And where are the nine? There is no one found to return, and give glory to God, but this stranger. And he said to him: Arise go thy way; for thy faith hath made thee whole.

What may be understood by leprosy in a spiritual sense?
Sin, particularly impurity, by which the soul of man is stained much more than is the body by the most horrid leprosy: In the Jewish law (Lev. 13) three kinds of leprosy are enumerated: the leprosy of the flesh, of garments, and of houses. Spiritually, the impure are af­flicted with the leprosy of the flesh who easily infect others, and are therefore to be most carefully avoided. The leprosy of garments consists in extravagance of dress and scandalous fashions, whereby not only individuals, but also whole communities are brought to poverty, and many lose their innocence. The leprosy of houses, finally, is to be found in those places, where scandalous servants are retained, where nocturnal gatherings of both sexes are en­couraged, where, obscenities are indulged in, where unbe­coming dances and plays are held, and filthy actions per­formed; where married people allow themselves liberties in presence of others, and give scandal to their household, where they take their small children and even such as al­ready have the use of reason, with themselves to bed, where they permit children of different sexes to sleep together. Such houses are to be avoided, since they are infected with the pestilential leprosy of sin, and woe to them who vol­untarily remain in them.

Why did the lepers remain standing afar off?

Because it was thus commanded in the law of Moses (Lev. 13: 46) so that no one would be infected by them. From this we learn that we must carefully avoid scandalous persons and houses; for he who converses with lewd, vain and unchaste persons, will soon become like them. (Ecclus. 13: 1)

Why did Christ send the lepers to the priests?
This He did to show the honor due to the sacerdotal dignity and to the law of God: for it was commanded (Lev 14), that the lepers should show themselves to the priests, in order to be declared by them clean or unclean; He did it to try the faith, the confidence, and the obedience of these lepers: for Christ did not wish to heal them upon their mere prayer, but their cure was to cost them something, and they were to merit it by their cooperation. Their purification, therefore, was the reward of their obedience and faith. Further, Christ sent these lepers to the priests to show figuratively, as it were, that he who wishes to be freed from the leprosy of sin, must contritely approach the priest, sincerely confess his sins, and be cleansed by him by means of absolution.

Why did Christ ask for the others, who were also made clean?
To show how much ingratitude displeases Him. Although He silently bore all other injuries, yet He could not permit this ingratitude to pass unresented. So great, therefore, is the sin of ingratitude, hateful alike to God and man! "Ingratitude," says St. Bernard," is an enemy of the soul, which destroys merits, corrupts virtues, and impedes graces: it is a heavy wind, which dries up the fountain of goodness, the dew of mercy, and the stream of the grace of God." "The best means," says St. Chrysostom, "of preserving benefits, is the remembrance of them and gratitude for them, and nothing is more acceptable to God than a grateful soul; for, while He daily overloads us with innumerable benefits, He asks nothing for them, but that we thank Him." Therefore, my dear Christian, by no means forget to thank God in the morning and evening, before and after meals. As often as you experience the blessing of God in your house, in your children, and your whole property, thank God, but particularly when you take in the fruits of the earth; (Lev 23:10) by this you will always bring upon yourself new blessings and new graces. "We cannot think, say, or write anything better or more pleasing to God," says St. Augustine, "than: Thanks be to God."

O most gracious Jesus! who, as an example for us, wast always grateful to Thy Heavenly, Father, as long as Thou didst live upon earth, grant, that I may always thank God for all His benefits, according to Thy example and the teaching of Thy servant St. Paul (Col. 3: 17).

Picture is "Jesus Healing the Leper" by Jean Marie Melchior Doze
Read whole post......

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Saturday - day of Our Lady

The life of Jesus before His Passion

Mary speaketh: I have spoken to thee of my dolors; but that dolor was not the least which I experienced when I bore my Son in my flight to Egypt, and when I heard the innocents slaughtered, and Herod pursuing my Son. But although I knew what was written of my Son, yet my heart, for the excessive love I bore my Son, was filled with grief and sadness. You may perhaps ask what my Son did all that time of His life before His Passion. I reply that, as the Gospel says, He was subject to His parents, and He acted like other children till He reached His majority. Nor were wonders wanting in His youth: how idols were silenced, and fell in numbers in Egypt at His coming; how the Wise Men foretold that my Son should be a sign of great things to come; how, too, the ministers of angels appeared; how too, no uncleanness appeared upon Him, nor entanglement in His hair, all which it is unnecessary for thee to know, as signs of His divinity and humanity are set forth in the Gospel, which may edify thee and others. But when He came to more advanced years, He was in constant prayer, and obediently went up with us to Jerusalem and elsewhere to the appointed feasts; so wonderful then were His sight and words, and so acceptable, that many in affliction said: "Let us go to Mary's Son, by whom we may be consoled." But increasing in age and wisdom, wherewith He was replete from the first, He laboured with His hands in such things as are becoming, and spoke to us separately words of consolation and divinity, so that we were continually filled with unspeakable joy. But when we were in fear, poverty, and difficulty, He did not make for us gold and silver, but exhorted us to patience, and we were wonderfully preserved from the envious. Necessaries were occasionally furnished to us by the compassion of pious souls, sometimes from our own labour, so that we had what was necessary for our actual support, but not for superfluity, for we only sought to serve God. After this, He conversed familiarly with friends who came to the house, on the law, and its meanings and figures; He also openly disputed with the learned, so that they wondered, saying: "Ho! Joseph's Son teaches the masters; some great spirit speaketh in Him." Once as I was thinking of His Passion, seeing my sadness, He said: "Dost thou not believe, Mother, that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? Wast thou sullied when I entered thee, or in pain when I came forth? Why art thou contracted by sadness? For it is the will of My Father that I suffer death; nay, My will with the Father. What I have of the Father cannot suffer; but the flesh which I took of thee shall suffer, that the flesh of others may be redeemed, and their spirits saved." He was so obedient that when Joseph by chance said: Do this or that, He immediately did it, because He so concealed the power of His divinity that it sould not be discerned excepth by me, adn sometimes Joseph, who both often saw an admirable light poured around Him, and heard angelic voices singing over Him. We also saw that unclean spirits, which could not be expelled by tried exorcists in our law, departed at the sight of my Son's presence.

The picture is of Our Lady of Mt Carmel.

Read whole post......

Friday, August 08, 2008

Feast of St John M. Vianney, Confessor (1786-1859).
Patron Saint of Parish Priests.

Today we have an opportunity to read testimonies of many pious people, including devout Chanoine Gardette, chaplain to the Carmel of Chalon-sur-Saone, describing the Cure of Ars prayer life, his ability of recollection and union with God amidst extremely busy life and duties of parish priest. All testimonies were taken during process of Beatification and are cited and commented upon in the well known and beloved book by Abbe Francis Trochu "The Cure of Ars":

"M. Vianney once expressed himself thus in my presence: 'Oh, how I wish I could lose myself, never again to find myself except in God!'. Well, watching him at work, one could see that his wish had been fulfilled. Indeed, he knew so well how to abandon himself to God's good pleasure that amid the manifold and laborious activities of his ministry he appeared as when engaged in his religious exercises. He always seemed but one thing to do - viz. the duty of the present moment. The keenness he displayed was that of apostolic zeal, never that of merely natural love of activity. Thus, whether one watched him on the morning, at noon, or at night, he invariably exhibited true liberty of spirit, meekness of disposition, and interior peace. It seems to me that here we have the realization of the ideal union with God - that is, the fullest possible development of perfect love." (said Chaplain Gardette.) We further read the comment made by Abbe Trochu: A soul united to God as to its centre may indeed perform a series of holy actions and yet not itself be holy. To avoid such a danger the Cure d'Ars constantly lifted up his heart to God - in the pulpit, in the confessional, in the midst of conversations and the most varied occupations. "He had acquired the habit of the saints, which consists in leaving God for active work, when this was required of him, and returning to God by prayer at the earliest possible moment." Prayer was the greatest joy of his soul and his habitual refuge. "Prayer is a fragrant dew," he used to say; "the more we pray, the more we love to pray." In fact, if all his life he longed so earnestly for solitude, it was that he might give himself up wholly to prayer and the contemplation of the things of God. Alas! the time had come when he could no longer give himself, as did his brother priests, even to the refreshing exercises of the annual retreat. On the very last occasion when he thus hoped to quicken his spirit - it was in 1835, at the Seminary of Brou - Mgr. Devie sent him back to his parish even before the opening exercise. "You have no need of a retreat," the prelate declared, "whereas over there sinners want you." And he went home without a word. There were times, however, when he was heard to groan as he remembered the far-off days when he lived in the solitude of the fields. "Oh, how happy I was then! Then my head was not racked as it is to-day; it was so easy to pray!" And he would add with a smile: " I believe my vocation was to remain a shepherd all my life." Yet when he became a priest - a shepherd of souls - he was able, at least during the first years, to indulge his holy passion for prayer. At that time he had assuredly attained to that exalted degree of prayer which is called "the prayer of simplicity," "where intuition replaces, for the most part, discourse or reasoning, where affections and resolutions vary but little and are expressed in but few words." "Before the great work of the pilgrimage began," says the Abbe Claude Rougement, vicaire of Ars, "according to the testimony of the old inhabitants, M.Vianney was for ever to be seen in church, on his knees, and praying without using a book." "His prayer was affective," says the Baronne de Belvey, " rather than made up of reflections and reasonings." He gazed at the tabernacle and never ceased from assuring our Lord that he loved him. In this he followed no other method than that of Pere Chaffangeon: "I look at the good God, and the good God looks at me." Frere Jerome declares in his turn that "when the influx of pilgrims put an end to his long hours of prayer, M. le Cure accustomed himself to choosing, in the morning, a subject of meditation to which he referred all the actions of the day." "I once asked him for advice on mental prayer," says the Abbe Dufour. "'I no longer have time for regular prayer,' was his answer 'but at the very first moment of the day I endeavour to unite myself closely to Jesus Christ, and I then perform my task with the thought of this union in mind.'" "From which I infer," adds M.Dufour, "that his life was one long prayer." In this way he concentrated the attention of his heart upon some scene of the life of our Lord, our Blessed Lady, or upon one of his favourite saints. His preferences were, however, for the sorrowful mysteries, and he usually accompanied our Lord throughout the divers phases of His Passion. That he might the more readily recall them to mind, he asked Catherine Lassagne to write them down in the margin of his Breviary, in this way, whilst reciting his Office, he lived over again, with tearful emotion, every one of the stages of the work of our redemption. As he walked among the crowds he frequently bore the appearance of one who feels quite alone, so deeply was he absorbed in holy considerations. Hence, whilst living a most active life, he ever remained the contemplative that he had wished to be. "That is real faith," he used to say, "when we speak to God as we would converse with a man." This ideal was fully realized in his own life.

To read fragments of St John Vianney - The Little Catechisms please follow the highlighted link Read whole post......