Friday, December 31, 2010

Farewell message

It is almost five years since I have started this blog and originally it was supposed to be for one year only. One year became two, two became three and I found myself pretty much attached to writing posts and sharing my Carmelite journey into Tradition. At the beginning the blogs committed to Traditional Catholicism were sparse and treated with suspicion - is that blog sede or not? Since His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI published Summorum Pontificum motu proprio, interest in the subject grew substantially and Traditionalism is no longer taboo, thanks God for this. A lot of good, traditional blogs are available on the net and I am thinking of finishing my blogging journey - my health and energy are not any longer the same as they were five years ago. I will be still posting occasionally, but not on the regular basis. All visitors are invited to use search facility to browse the posts and subjects. God bless you all!

Picture represents 'The scribe' (from 'Scribes and Illuminators', C. de Hamel, British Museum Press).

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Friday, December 24, 2010


"...the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son" (Luke 2: 6).

(Christ) I am the Lover of purity, and the Giver of all holiness. I seek a pure heart, and there is the place of My rest. Make ready for me a large supper room, and I will make the pasch with Thee (Mark 24: 15)

Perhaps Jesus wished to show me the world before his first visit that I could more freely choose the way I should promise to follow him.

God, the divine Guest of our hearts, knows our poverty, all He asks, and expects to find, is an empty tabernacle.

In spite of all the graces Heaven was showering upon me, I was far from deserving them. I had a great desire for virtue, but all that I did was full of imperfections. i was so sensitive that i was a very great trial to others; it was useless to reason with me, for I was powerless to correct this fault. How could I expect to be received at Carmel?  It would need a miracle to make me grew up once and for all, and God worked this little miracle on a date i shall never forget: December 25, 1886. The newborn Child turned my darkness into light; having for my sake become small and weak, he made me strong and brave; He armed me with His own weapons, and after that I ran my course  like a giant (Ps 18), going from victory to victory. The fountain of my tears was dried up, and very rarely flowed again.  This is how I received the grace of conversion. They still treated me at home like a baby, filling my shoes with presents and putting them by the fire-place on Christmas Eve. My father had always shared in my  delight as I drew out each gift, but this year Our Lord wished to cure me of my childishness. As I went up to my room after midnight Mass, I heard my father say: "Therese is too big a girl for such a nonsense; I hope this will be the last year." The words cut me to the heart, and Celine, knowing my sensitiveness, begged me not to go down at once, as I would be sure to cry; but I was no longer the same,  Jesus had changed my heart. I went down to the dining-room as though nothing had happened, and gaily pulled out the presents one by one, my father joining in the merriment. Celine thought that she was dreaming, but the fact remained that I had found once more the fortitude I had lost at the age of four and a half. On that blessed night the third period of my life opened, the most beautiful and full of graces. The work I had attempted for years, was done in an instant by Our Lord, who accepted my good will. Like the Apostles, I could say: Master we have laboured all the night, and have taken nothing (Luke 5:5), but Our Lord did more for me than He did for them, for He cast the net Himself and drew it in full of fish, and changed me into a fisher of souls. Charity took possession of my soul and filled me with the spirit of self-forgetfulness, and from that time I was always happy. 

...true greatness is found in one's soul and not in one's name. (...) Thus, it is in heaven that we will find our true value. Then, "each of us will receive our just reward from God." He who has chosen to be poorest and most forgotten for the sake of Jesus on earth, will become the first, the noblest, and the richest.

i experienced several transports of love; one during my novitiate, lasted a whole week, during which time I seemed to make use of a borrowed body, and felt far away from this world, which was veiled from my sight. Yet I was not burned by real flame, and could enjoy these delights without hope of their breaking my hold upon life; whereas if other experience (see March 29) of which I told you, had been prolonged for a few instants, I would have died....Alas! I came back on earth, and immediately my soul become a prey to dryness of spirit.

Speaking of the Communion of Saints, she said: "With the virgins we shall be virgins, with the doctors we shall be doctors, with the martyrs we shall be martyrs, for all the Saints are our kindred; but those who followed the way of spiritual childhood will always keep the charm of children. From my earliest days God has given me the conviction that I would die young. (Novissima Verba)  

Opening the Gospel my eyes fell upon these words: Going up into a mountain he called to him whom he would (Mark 3:13). These words sum up the mystery of my vocation and of my whole life, and above all the mystery of the special graces bestowed on my soul. He does not choose those who are worthy, but those whom He is pleased to call. As St Paul says, quoting Exodus: I will have mercy on whom i will have mercy (Exod. 33:19). So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy (Rom 9:16) 

Picture represents 'Concert of Angels and Nativity' by Matthias Gruenewald 

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

St John of the Cross - click to read more

Several spiritual maxims from John of the Cross: 

I did not know Thee, my Lord, because I still desired to know and relish trifling things. My spirit became dry because it forgot to rest in Thee.

If you wish to attain holy recollection, you will do so not by approving but by denying.

The devil fears a soul united to God as he does God Himself.

The purest suffering produces the purest understanding.

Through small things, one reaches the great. The evil that at the beginning appears insignificant, later becomes enormous and without remedy.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our Lady of Guadelupe - click for more to read

Nearly a decade after Spain’s conquest of Mexico, the future of Christianity on the American Continent was very much in doubt. Confronted with a hostile colonial government and Native Americans wary of conversion, the newly appointed bishop-elect of Mexico wrote to tell the king of Spain that unless there was a miracle, the continent would be lost. Between December 9 and December 12, 1531, that miracle happened, and it forever changed the future of the continent.

It was then that the Virgin Mary famously appeared to a Native Mexican Christian convert named Juan Diego on a hilltop outside of what is now Mexico City. The image she left imprinted on his cloak, or tilma, has puzzled scientists for centuries, and yet Our Lady of Guadalupe’s place in history is profound. A continent that just months before the apparitions seemed completely lost to Christianity suddenly and inexplicably embraced it by the millions. Our Lady of Guadalupe’s message of love replaced the institutionalized violence of the Aztec culture and built a bridge between two worlds.

Today, Our Lady of Guadalupe continues to inspire the devotion of millions. She is revered as Patroness of the Americas since she appeared in the center of North and South America. Reproductions of the Virgin’s miraculous image can especially be seen throughout North and South America, and in the Philippines. Her shrine in Mexico City, where the miraculous image is housed to this day in an enormous basilica, surrounded by several smaller churches from various epochs and a vast esplanade, is one of the most visited Marian Shrines in the world.

Previous post HERE

Our Lady of Guadelupe images HERE

Images of Saints HERE

Text credit to 'A Moment With Mary'

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

How to Attend Mass with Devotion and Reverence - hints from St. Leonard of Port Maurice

"Then, holy Mass being ended, make an act of thanksgiving to God in the words, Agimus tibi gratias; and leave the church with a contrite heart, as if you were coming down from Calvary." (St. Leonard of Port Maurice 'The Hidden Treasure: Holy Mass')

To listen to the advice of the Franciscan saint, Leonard of Port Maurice, and to leave the church as though one were coming down from Calvary, is to leave Church with the disposition of Our Lady of Sorrows. In the book The Hidden Treasure, Saint Leonard offers many reflections to encourage reverent attendance at Mass.

I. First part of the Mass from the beginning to the Gospel

1. "Humble yourself with Jesus, and plunge yourself down in thought into the depth of your nothingness; confess sincerely how wretched and how merely nothing you are before so immense a majesty;

2. "Pursue the exercise of forming many such internal acts of joy, that God should thus be infinitely honored. Repeat, over and over again: ‘Yes, my God, I delight in the infinite honor which results to Thy Majesty from this Holy Sacrifice."

II. From the Gospel to the Elevation

1. Contrition for past sins

2. "O dearest Jesus, give me the tears of Peter, the contrition of Magdalene, and the grief of those saints who, once sinners, were afterward true penitents, in order that in this Mass I may obtain a general pardon of my sins."

III. From the Elevation to Communion

1. "Stir your soul to wonder at the overflowing torrent of great and good gifts either bestowed on you or designed for you by God, and then offer to Him in return a gift of infinite value, that is, the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Then invite all the angels also, and all the saints, to thank God in your behalf…"

IV. From Communion to the end

1. Make a spiritual communion

2. "Look upon God Who is within you, and then summon up holy courage to ask of Him many graces, … do not ask things of small importance, but ask great graces…"

3. "Offer petitions also again and again for yourself, your children, your friends, relations, and acquaintance; ask help for all your needs, both spiritual and temporal; ask also the fullness of all good, and relief from all evils for holy Church: and do not ask any of these things with lukewarmness, but rather with a great confidence, making sure that your prayers, united with those of Jesus, shall indeed be heard. Then, holy Mass being ended, make an act of thanksgiving to God in the words, Agimus tibi gratias, etc.; and leave the church with a contrite heart, as if you were coming down from Calvary." St. Leonard of Port Maurice, The Hidden Treasure: Holy Mass, (Tan Books: 1952), 57-61.

Following St Leonard, pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary:
"O Most Holy Virgin, already I am at hand and about to receive thine and my Jesus. From thy hands, I propose to receive Him. Hold Him forth to me as thou didst to the shepherds, and the holy kings, and to St. Simeon prepare me to receive Him with love. Give Him to me quickly and pray to Him to fill me with His dearest benediction; and do thou accompany it with thine." (St. Leonard of Port Maurice)

And give her your holy resolution:
The next opportunity I have to attend Mass, I will bring these suggestions along with me and I will try to leave Church remembering Our Lady of Sorrows. For today, I will make a spiritual Communion and read through the prayers of this great saint.

Be thankful to God for graces received.

The picture represents the Mass at the RC Church in Oxford St in Manchester. Several times in the past I have attended FSSP celebrated Traditional Mass at this Church while visiting relatives and it brings me a lot of good memories.

Adopted from Mary's Vitamin 

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St Therese and her remedy for dark night of the soul

I will hear what the Lord will speak to me (Ps 84)

Happy is that soul which heareth the Lord speaking within her, and from His mouth receiveth the word of comfort! Happy ears, which receive the accents of the divine whisper, and take no notice of the whisperings of the world. Happy ears, indeed, which hearken to Truth itself teaching within, and not to the voice which soundeth without. (Imitation of Christ, Book 3)

When I was seventeen and eighteen I found much light in the writings of St John of the Cross, and he was my principal guide, but later on all spiritual writers left me in great dryness of spirit, and do so still. However beautiful and moving a book may be, as soon as I begin to read I am incapable of taking it in, and my heart is troubled; or if I do understand, my mind is unable to meditate further. In this state of helplessness the Scriptures and the Imitation come to my assistance, and in them I find a hidden manna, pure and sustaining.
The Gospel is my chief support in prayer, and I find in it all that my poor little soul needs. I am always finding new light there, and hidden, mysterious meanings; I learn by experience that the kingdom of God is within us (Luke 17: 21). The divine Master has no needs of books or rather teachers to do His work; He instructs the soul silently, without words. I have never heard Him, but i know that He is within me, inspiring and prompting me at the moment I need it most. it is not usually at my prayer that I see this new light, but when doing my ordinary work during the day. (St Therese 'Histoire d'une Ame')

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

I do not serve Thee, Lord, for gain,
That were a hireling's way!
Love does not wait with outstretched hand
For payment day by day.
My heart's love is my only wealth,
And this I bring to Thee;
I only ask that to the end
Thy handmaid I may be.
St Therese 'Poems'

Picture represents painting displayed in the choir of the Discalced Carmelite Church of Our Lady of the Brown Scapular and St Elijah in Czerna Friary where St Raphael Kalinowski was a prior. To visit photogalery of the Church and the cloister click here

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Monday, November 15, 2010

St Raphael Kalinowski OCD - click to read short biography from Vatican Website

Jesus, hope of suffering humanity, our refuge and our strength, whose light pierces the black cloud that hang over our stormy sea, enlighten our eyes so that we can direct ourselves toward You Who are our harbour. Guide our bark with the rudder of the nails of Your cross, lest we drown in the storm. With the arms of this cross rescue us from the turbulent waters and draw us to Yourself, our only repose, Morning Star, Sun of Justice, for with our eyes obscured by tears, we can catch a glimpse of You there, on the shores of our heavenly homeland. Redeemed by You, we pray: Salvos nos fac propter nomen tuum - "Save us for the sake of Your holy name". And all this through Mary. ("Saint Raphael Kalinowski: An Introduction to His Life and Spirituality" by S. Praskiewicz, OCD)

To read polish translation of the book by Jean-Baptiste Bouchaud "Le R.P. Raphaël de S. Joseph. Deuxième partie. Vie religieuse" click HERE
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

'Saints For Sinners' - click to read online great classic by Archb Alban Goodier, SJ

For a long time I wondered why God has His preferences, and why souls did not all receive the same measure of grace. I was astonished that great sinners like St Paul, St Augustine and St Mary Magdalen should be granted such extraordinary favours, and almost forced to accept them. When reading the Lives of the Saints I could not understand why our Lord treated some as privileged souls even in their cradles, removing any obstacles that might keep the from Him, and preserving unspotted their baptismal innocence, whilst on the other hand innumerable savages died without ever hearing the name of God.
Jesus Himself taught me this mystery. He laid open before me the book of Nature, and I understood that all the flowers He has created are beautiful; that the loveliness of the rose and the purity of the lily in no way lessen the sweet scent of the hidden violet of the appealing simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the little flowers wanted to be roses, Nature would lose her garb of Spring, and the fields would no longer be starred with little blossoms. It is the same in the domain of souls, the living garden of the Lord. (St Therese 'Story of the Sols')

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Feast of Christ the King - click to read Quas Primas,On the Feast of Christ the King

You, my God, are an eternal King, and Yours is no borrowed Kingdom....When the Credo says: 'of Your Kingdom there shall be no end' this phrase nearly always makes me feel particularly happy. Yes, I praise you, Lord, and bless You, for Your Kingdom will endure forever" (Teresa of Jesus, Way of Perfection, 22)

....Do we not read throughout the Scriptures that Christ is the King? He it is that shall come out of Jacob to rule, who has been set by the Father as king over Sion, his holy mount, and shall have the Gentiles for his inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession. In the nuptial hymn, where the future King of Israel is hailed as a most rich and powerful monarch, we read: "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the scepter of thy kingdom is a scepter of righteousness." (Ps 44) There are many similar passages, but there is one in which Christ is even more clearly indicated. Here it is foretold that his kingdom will have no limits, and will be enriched with justice and peace: "in his days shall justice spring up, and abundance of peace...And he shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.... (From the encyclical of Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas)


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Three great Feasts of Christ the King, the Holy Souls and All Saints coming! Queen of All Saints, pray for us!

"O saints of heaven, I am the least of all creatures. I know my worthlessness, but I also know how noble and generous hearts love to do good. Therefore, O blessed inhabitants of the heavenly City, I entreat you to adopt me as your child. All the glory you may help me to acquire will be yours; deign, then, to hear my prayer and obtain for me...your love...(St Therese "Story of a Soul")

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ireland and the Rosary

With the victory of Cromwell’s armies, Ireland entered a period of harsh persecutions during which it became more and more difficult for Catholic priests to meet the spiritual needs of the faithful. From that time dates the very special importance the Irish attribute to the Rosary, among the devotions in honor of the Blessed Virgin.

When a priest couldn’t be there to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice for the faithful, the assembly would pray the Rosary as a form of public prayer. It is not an exaggeration to affirm that, for more than three hundred years, the Rosary has been the most characteristic form of devotion of the Irish people. In each Catholic home, the recitation of the Rosary has become a daily, scrupulously observed ritual.

If sailors were setting sail to cross the seas and expose their lives, a pubic Rosary was offered before the ship hoisted the anchor. Fishermen used to recite it before lifting their nets. It is the traditional prayer at Catholic funerals; the one also that families recite when they gather at the bedside of one of their beloved who is dying. During the 19th century, when emigration dispersed Irish Catholics throughout the world in faraway countries often deprived of Catholic priests, the Rosary was the most efficient support for the poor exiles. (A. Gwynn, SJ 'Our Lady of Ireland')

credit: after 'A Moment with Mary'
picture represents colonial style painting of 'Our Lady of the Rosary and Saints', Brooklyn Museum, NJ 

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary - click to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii

Today we remember and reflect on the conversion and works of charity of
Bl Bartolo Longo
and his devotion to the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Above is the miraculous image of Our Lady of the Rosary that was given to Bl Bartolo by the nuns who were in custody of the image for some time. He restored the image and placed it in the Church built in the valley of Pompeii, the place where he built the shrine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Pompeii.

The story of Bl Bartolo may tell us a lot about grace of God and good work of one faithful friend. Bartolo was born into a wealthy middle class family and was trained to become a lawyer. He fall under the influence of bad companion, entered the satanic sect, became a satanic priest and staunch enemy of the Catholicism who would publicly ridicule Catholic religion. However, he had a good and devout friend who had not abandoned him in this misery but prayed for him and managed to help Bartolo to convert and return to Catholicism. He put Bartolo in touch with devout Dominican priest who was instrumental in helping Bartolo to develop deep devotion to Our Lady and the Holy Rosary. Bartolo entirely abandoned his past and decided to do all he could in reparation the sins he committed through good works with the poor living in the Valley of Pomepii, which was the place of utter desolation, crime and poverty. After many attempts he managed to convert people living there back to Catholicism, built the shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii and established Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. No need to say how much the lives of the Valley of Pompeii inhabitants was changed through the work of Bl Bartolo and his wife. 
There is a Petition Prayer composed by Bl Bartolo and I encourage all who have devotion to the Holy Rosary to pray this prayer.

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Holy Rosary, click to read more on this devotion

The Holy Rosary, the Carmelite Devotion - read more Here

Why pray the Rosary today? Certainly, to grow in holiness and in one's prayer life. The following are a few others reasons why the Rosary should be prayed often, even daily:

"Among all the devotions approved by the Church none has been so favored by so many miracles as the devotion of the Most Holy Rosary" (Pope Pius IX).

"Say the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world" (Our Lady of Fatima).

"There is no surer means of calling down God's blessings upon the family . . . than the daily recitation of the Rosary" (Pope Pius XII).

"We do not hesitate to affirm again publicly that we put great confidence in the Holy Rosary for the healing of evils of our times" (Pope Pius XII).

"No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the Rosary" (Bishop Hugh Doyle).

"The Rosary is a magnificent and universal prayer for the needs of the Church, the nations and the entire world" (Pope John XXIII).

"The Rosary is the compendium of the entire Gospel" (Pope Paul VI quoting Pope Pius XII).

"Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary . . . can be an excellent preparation for the celebration of those same mysteries in the liturgical actions [i.e. the Mass] and can also become a continuing echo thereof" (Pope Paul VI).

"My impression is that the Rosary is of the greatest value not only according to the words of Our Lady at Fátima, but according to the effects of the Rosary one sees throughout history. My impression is that Our Lady wanted to give ordinary people, who might not know how to pray, this simple method of getting closer to God" (Sister Lucia, one of the seers of Fátima).

"How beautiful is the family that recites the Rosary every evening" (Pope John Paul II).

Pope John Paul II has called the Rosary his "favorite prayer," after the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours.

St. Louis de Montfort warns us against both the ignorant and scholars who regard the Rosary as something of little importance..."the Rosary is a priceless treasure inspired by God."

and more quotes:

"What actually is the Rosary? A compedium of the Gospel. It brings us back again and again to the most important scenes of Christ's life, almost as if to let us''breathe' his mystery. The Rosary is the privileged path to contemplation. It is, so to speak, Mary's way. Is there anyone who knows and
loves Christ better?" John Paul II, Pastoral Visit to the shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary in Pompeii

"It is a solemn custom of the faithful during the month of October to weave the prayers of the Rosary into mystical garlands for the Mother of Christ." Pope Paul VI Christi Matri

"Yet another excellent fruit follows from the Rosary, exceedingly opportune to the character of our times. This we have referred to elsewhere. It is that, whilst the virtue of Divine Faith is daily exposed to so many dangers and attacks, the Christian may here derive nourishment and strength for his faith. Now Christ stands forth clearly in the Rosary. We behold in meditation His life, whether His hidden life in joy, or His public life in excessive toil and sufferings unto death, or His glorious life from His triumphant resurrection to His eternal enthronement at the right hand of the Father." Pope Leo XIII, Fidentem Piumque Animum

"We exhort them, citing Our own example, not to let even one day pass without saying the Rosary, no matter how burdened they may be with many cares and labors." Pope Pius XI Ingravescentibus Malis (On the Rosary)

"We would like to repeat one admonition from [Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Ingruentium Malorum] Turn in spirit with ever greater confidence to the Virgin Mother of God, the constant refuge of Christians in adversity, since she 'has been made a source of salvation for the human race.'" Bl. Pope John XXIII Grata Recordatio (On Pope Leo XIII's encyclicals Ingruentium Malorum)

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dedication of St Michael, Michaelmas Day - click to read more

Their angels in heaven always look on the face of my heavenly Father (Mt 18:10)
The angels are our shepherds, because they carry not only our messages to God but also those of God to our souls, feeding them with sweet inspirations and divine communications. As good shepherds they protect us and defend us from wolves, which are the evil spirits. Through the secret inspirations which the angels convey to the soul, they effect a deeper knowledge of God and make it love him the more, till they leave it wounded with love...The light of God, which illumines angels, enlightening and setting them on fire with love as pure spirits disposed for that inflowing, ordinarily illumines people in darkness, pain and distress because of their impurity and weakness...
When a person has become spiritualized and refined in the fire of divine, purifying love, he is then within the union and inflowing of that loving illumination with the same sweetness as angels receive them...Consider what utter vanity it is to rejoice in anything but in the service of God, how dangerous and how fatal. How ruinous it proved to those angels who rejoiced and were complacent in their own beauty and natural endowments; for this they fell, deformed, into the abyss. (St John of the Cross, Spiritual Maxims)
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Friday, September 24, 2010

Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham

Our Lady of Walsingham belongs to England. And it is a 15th-century poet, laureate of the famous chapel now destroyed, who sang that England belonged to Mary:

O England, great cause thou hast glad for to be,
Compared to the land of promised Sion,
Thou attainest my grace to stand in that degree
Through this glorious Lady’s supportation,
To be called in every realm and region
The holy land, Our Lady’s dowry;
Thus art thou named of old antiquity.

One cannot doubt that Our Lady is still looking with a maternal love on this island where, for centuries, countless pilgrims came to put down their burden at her shrine «where grace is poured out daily upon men of all ages» and, when they departed, they carried with them in the intimate recess of their heart the peace of heaven, sprung from the faith of their childhood, which brings peace to the heart and lifts up the veil that hides the vision of a pure and everlasting joy. (His Holiness Pope Pius XII - An address to British Soldiers on April 11, 1947)

credit 'A Moment with Mary'

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bl John Henry Newman - click to read the story of his life written by William Henry Barry

Bl John Henry Newman's spiritual autobiography Apologia pro vita sua

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virign Mary

Drink of the chalice of thy Lord lovingly, if thou desirest to be His friend, and to have part with Him. (Imitation, Bk2) 

Upon the accidental death of his holy wife, Jacopone da Todi experienced a profound conversion. He realized the hair shirt worn under his dear wife’s garments was worn as penance for him. He completely renounced his former way and lived a life of "foolish poverty." He became a Third Order Franciscan. In his last years he composed the Stabat Mater and would cry out to all:

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above;
Make my heart with thine accord.

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ our Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.

After 'Mary's Vitamin'

During her long agony which lasted twelve hours, she cried out: "O my God, O sweet Virgin Mary, come to my help! My chalice is overflowing; I could not have thought it possible to suffer so much....I can only explain it by my great longing to save souls, O my God, Thy will be done, only have pity on me!" (St Therese, Story of the Soul)

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Exaltation of the Cross

So must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life (Jn 3:14-15

Lord Jesus, I have received the cross, I have received it from Thy hand: and I will bear it until death, as Thou hast laid it upon me. indeed the life of a good religious man is a cross, but it is cross that conducts him to Paradise. (Imitation of Christ, Bk 3)

Instead of reproaching Our Lord for having sent us this cross, I cannot fathom the depths of divine love which  move Him so to treat us. God must love Father very dearly to sent him such suffering. What a joy for us to share this humiliation with him! (St Therese, Letters)

Let us not believe that it is possible to love without suffering, without suffering a great deal...That is our poor human nature and it is not there for nothing!...It is our wealth, our livelihood! It is so precious that Jesus came on earth just to have it. (St Therese, Letters)

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI visit to the UK - click to see the itinerary

Excerpts from the Message from the Holy Father for his Visit to the United Kingdom.

I am very much looking forward to my visit to the United Kingdom in a week's time and I sent heartful greetings to all people of GB. I am aware that a vast amount of work has gone into the preparations for the visit, not only by the Catholic community but by the Government, the local authorities in Scotland, London and Birmingham, the communications media and the security services, and I want to say how much I appreciate the efforts that have been made to ensure that the various events planned will be truly joyful celebrations. Above all I thank the countless people who have been praying for the success of the visit and for a great outpouring of God's grace upon the Church and the people of your nation.

It will be a particular joy for me to beatify the Venerable John Henry Newman in Birmingham on Sunday 19th September. This truly great Englishman lived an exemplary priestly life and through his extensive writings made a lasting contribution to Church and society both in his native land and in many other parts of the world. It is my hope and prayer that more and more people will benefit from his gentle wisdom and be inspired by his example of integrity and holiness of life.

...While I regret that there are many places and people I shall not have the opportunity to visit, I want you to know that you are all remembered in my prayers. God bless the people of the United Kingdom!

Benedictus PP XVI

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

On the eve of Papal visit to England, the words of Cardinal Newman on the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the second Eve.

She holds, as the Fathers teach us, that office in our restoration which Eve held in our fall: - now, in the first place, what were Eve's endowments to enable her to enter upon her trial? She could not have stood against the wiles of the devil, though she was innocent and sinless, without the grant of a large grace. And this she had; - a heavenly gift, which was over and above and additional to that nature of hers, which she received from Adam, a gift which had been given to Adam also before her, at the very time (as it is commonly held) of his original formation. This is Anglican doctrine, as well as Catholic ;

....If Eve was raised above human nature by that indwelling moral gift which we call grace, is it rash to say that Mary had even a greater grace? And this consideration gives significance to the Angel's salutation of her as "full of grace," - an interpretation of the original word which is undoubtedly the  right one, as soon as we resist the common Protestant assumption that grace is a mere external approbation or acceptance, answering to the word "favour," whereas it is, as the Fathers teach, a real inward condition or superadded quality of soul.
Suppose Eve had stood the trial, and not lost her first grace; and suppose she had eventually had children, those children from the first moment of their existence would, through divine bounty, have received the same privilege that she had ever had; that is, as she was taken from Adam's side, in a garment, so to say, of grace, so they in turn would have received what may be called an immaculate conception. They would have then been conceived in grace, as in fact they are conceived in sin. What is there difficult in this doctrine? What is there unnatural? Mary may be called, as it were, a daughter of Eve unfallen.

And if Eve had this supernatural inward gift given her from the first moment of her personal existence, is it possible to deny that Mary too had this gift from the very first moment of her personal existence? I do not know how to resist this inference: - well, this is simply and literally the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. I say the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is in its substance this, and nothing more or less than this (putting aside the question of degrees of grace); and it really does seem to me bound up in the doctrine of the Fathers, that Mary is the second Eve.
Suppose Eve had stood the trial, and not lost her first grace; and suppose she had eventually had children, those children from the first moment of their existence would, through divine bounty, have received the same privilege that she had ever had; that is, as she was taken from Adam's side, in a garment, so to say, of grace, so they in turn would have received what may be called an immaculate conception. They would have then been conceived in grace, as in fact they are conceived in sin. What is there difficult in this doctrine? What is there unnatural? Mary may be called, as it were, a daughter of Eve unfallen. (Cardinal John Henry Newman, from the letter to Pusey, 1866)

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Little Way of St Therese - virtue of obedience

(Christ) Son, thou hast many things still to learn, which thou hat not yet well learned.
(Disciple) What are these things, O Lord?
(Christ) That thou conform in all things thy desire to My good pleasure; and that thou be not a lover of thyself, but earnestly zealous that My will may be done. Desires often inflame thee, and violently hurry thee on; but consider whether it be for My honour or thy own interest that thou art more moved. (Imitation of Christ Bk 3)

My year of novitiate, which had seemed so long, at last come to an end, but Mother Prioress told me that my Profession was out of question, as our ecclesiastical Superior would not allow it. I was obliged, therefore, to wait for another eight months.
At first I found it hard to make the sacrifice, but soon God enlightened my soul. I was meditating at the time on P. Surin's Foundations of the Spiritual Life. One day during prayer I understood how much self-love there was in my longing to make my vows. If I belonged to Jesus as His little plaything, to rejoice and comfort Him, I ought not to force Him to do my will instead of His own. I also understood that a bride should be adorned with jewels on her wedding day, and i had not thought of this. I therefore said to Our Lord: I will no longer ask to make my Profession; I am content to wait, but I do not want our union to be put off through my fault, so I will prepare a bridal dress resplendent with diamonds and precious stones. When it is rich enough, Thou wilt take me for Thy bride. (St Therese of Child Jesus)

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August - the month of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

In August we celebrate the great Marian feast dedicated to Our Lady, the feast of Assumption. The prayers recommended for August are the prayers to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart, the Novena prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and prayer of Consecration.
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa - click to visit Sanctuary website

The Polish people often call the Blessed Virgin « Mother of my heart » (serdeczna Matke), but this tender love never becomes an indiscreet familiarity. The Mother of Hearts never ceases for a moment to enjoy in the people’s consciousness the unutterable prerogatives of her divine motherhood. She is “our mother” only because she is first of all the “Mother of God” (Matka Boska).

For a long period of time, in some provinces, this respect kept people from naming their daughters after Mary. By antonomasia they would be named Maria-Anna. While negotiating the marriage of Marie of Gonzague with the Polish King Ladislas IV, the French ambassador, Count of Brégyn, wrote in July 1645: “The royal fiancée will have to change her name during the celebrations of the coronation, because the Polish do not admit any other Queen Mary beside the One whose protecting vision sometimes protects their army from on high beyond the clouds.”

Later, Maria-Josephina of Saxony just refused the title of Queen of Poland in the rite of coronation, saying that “this title belongs only to Mary, the Queen of Heaven.” The attribution of that royalty must have been quite exclusive to force royal princesses and their spokespersons to think twice about claiming it! Indeed, from times immemorial, the Polish people recognize only one “Queen of Poland,” Mary, and they jealously ensure that no one usurps this title. 
The sense of Mary’s royalty was so anchored in the Polish soul that the occupying forces felt offended by it. In the Russian zone it was severely forbidden to invoke her under this title. Angry Prussians recorded some impressive answers coming from very young children in their files of complaints against schools “for refusing to learn the catechism and pray in German.”

“Do you think that Poland will rise again?” an inspector asked the children of Wrzesnia.
“Yes, we believe it.”
“And who will be the king?” he continued, smelling a conspiracy.
“We don’t know who the king will be, but we already have a queen.”
“Who is she?”
“Our Lady.” (In the text: « the Mother of God. »)

Pressured by schism, heresy and Islam, for centuries Poland had to defend her territory in order to defend her faith. Any Tartar or Turkish invasion transformed the churches into mosques and planted the crescent instead of the cross. Any Christian victory brought back Christ to the ravaged regions.

Thus Our Lady had a direct interest in the affairs of her Son, and the people who had elected her Queen didn’t fail to remind her of it. Polish literature is replete with naive and exquisite allusions to the military exploits of the Warrior Virgin.

It is a common theme in popular poetry: “You have arranged your army for battle. You have destroyed the forces of Islam. You have crushed the presumptuous Turks. You have sheltered us under your mantle. Defend your kingdom O mighty Virgin. Do not forget that you are our Queen...”

(Marie Winoska, The Marian Cult in Poland, In Maria – Studies about the Virgin Mary –Volume 4)

The pictures represent the altar with Black Madonna painting in the Chapel at Jasna Gora Basilica and the photo of Pauline Monastery at Jasna Gora in Czestochowa, 100km north of Cracow. Third picture shows the main altar in the Basilica.

credit: after A Moment with Mary

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday, God's own feast-day

...Although big feasts did not often occur, there was one, very dear to me, that each week brought round - Sunday. It was the day of rest, God's own feast-day. The happy day was over all too soon, and so was tinged with melancholy. Until Compline my happiness was complete, but as soon as the evening office had been said, my heart grew sad. i thought of the morrow, when ordinary life would begin again, with work to be done and lessons to be learnt. This world seemed a land of exile and I longed for eternal rest, for the Sunday which would have no sunset in our own true home-land... (St Therese)

Picture represents colonial style painting of Our Lady of Mt Carmel with the Saints - Brooklyn Museum

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Friday, August 20, 2010

"If a man take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him (Matt. 5:40).

To let go one's cloak must surely mean to give up all rights, to consider oneself the servant and slave of others. It is easier to walk or run without a cloak, so Jesus adds: Whosoever will force thee one mile, go with him other two (ibid, 41). It is not enough to give what is asked of me, I must foresee another's meed, show that she does me an honour by asking a service of me; and if anything is taken from me, appear glad to be rid of it.
It is not always possible to obey this passage from the Gospel literally; sometimes I am obliged to refuse. But where charity has taken deep root in a soul, it shows outwardly: a refusal may be so gracious that it gives as much pleasure as a gift. An obliging person is, of course, being made use of continually, but that is no reason for avoiding those whom one might have to refuse, for Our Lord says: From him that would borrow of thee, turn not away (ibid, 42). Nor must I be obliging merely to appear so, or in the hope of getting some little service in return, for Our Lord has said: If you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thanks are to you? for sinners also lend to sinners, for to receive as much, Do good, and lend, hoping for nothing thereby: and your reward shall be great (Luke 6: 34, 35) (St Therese "Story of the Soul")

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Excerpts from the great encyclical of Pope Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus

...[T]he scholastic Doctors have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as something signified, not only in various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos (Rev 12:1). Similarly they have given special attention to these words of the New Testament: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women,"(Lk 1:28) since they saw, in the mystery of the Assumption, the fulfillment of that most perfect grace granted to the Blessed Virgin and the special blessing that countered the curse of Eve....

....Among the holy writers who at that time employed statements and various images and analogies of Sacred Scripture to Illustrate and to confirm the doctrine of the Assumption, which was piously believed, the Evangelical Doctor, St. Anthony of Padua, holds a special place. On the feast day of the Assumption, while explaining the prophet's words: "I will glorify the place of my feet"(Is 61:13) he stated it as certain that the divine Redeemer had bedecked with supreme glory his most beloved Mother from whom he had received human flesh. He asserts that "you have here a clear statement that the Blessed Virgin has been assumed in her body, where was the place of the Lord's feet. Hence it is that the holy Psalmist writes: 'Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark which you have sanctified."' And he asserts that, just as Jesus Christ has risen from the death over which he triumphed and has ascended to the right hand of the Father, so likewise the ark of his sanctification "has risen up, since on this day the Virgin Mother has been taken up to her heavenly dwelling."(St Anthony of Padua, Sermons)...

....When, during the Middle Ages, scholastic theology was especially flourishing, St. Albert the Great who, to establish this teaching, had gathered together many proofs from Sacred Scripture, from the statements of older writers, and finally from the liturgy and from what is known as theological reasoning, concluded in this way: "From these proofs and authorities and from many others, it is manifest that the most blessed Mother of God has been assumed above the choirs of angels. And this we believe in every way to be true."(St Albert the Great, Mariale). And, in a sermon which he delivered on the sacred day of the Blessed Virgin Mary's annunciation, explained the words "Hail, full of grace"- words used by the angel who addressed her-the Universal Doctor, comparing the Blessed Virgin with Eve, stated clearly and incisively that she was exempted from the fourfold curse that had been laid upon Eve (St Albert the Great, Sermons)...

....Following the footsteps of his distinguished teacher, the Angelic Doctor, despite the fact that he never dealt directly with this question, nevertheless, whenever he touched upon it, always held together with the Catholic Church, that Mary's body had been assumed into heaven along with her soul (St Thomas Aquinas, Sermons)....

....Along with many others, the Seraphic Doctor held the same views. He considered it as entirely certain that, as God had preserved the most holy Virgin Mary from the violation of her virginal purity and integrity in conceiving and in childbirth, he would never have permitted her body to have been resolved into dust and ashes (St Bonaventure, Sermons). Explaining these words of Sacred Scripture: "Who is this that comes up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved?"(Songs 8:5) and applying them in a kind of accommodated sense to the Blessed Virgin, he reasons thus: "From this we can see that she is there bodily...her blessedness would not have been complete unless she were there as a person. The soul is not a person, but the soul, joined to the body, is a person. It is manifest that she is there in soul and in body. Otherwise she would not possess her complete beatitude"(St Bonaventure, Sermons)...

...In the fifteenth century, during a later period of scholastic theology, St. Bernardine of Siena collected and diligently evaluated all that the medieval theologians had said and taught on this question. He was not content with setting down the principal considerations which these writers of an earlier day had already expressed, but he added others of his own. The likeness between God's Mother and her divine Son, in the way of the nobility and dignity of body and of soul-a likeness that forbids us to think of the heavenly Queen as being separated from the heavenly King- makes it entirely imperative that Mary "should be only where Christ is."(St Bernardine of Siena, Sermons). Moreover, it is reasonable and fitting that not only the soul and body of a man, but also the soul and body of a woman should have obtained heavenly glory. Finally, since the Church has never looked for the bodily relics of the Blessed Virgin nor proposed them for the veneration of the people, we have a proof on the order of a sensible experience (ibid)...

....St. Francis of Sales, after asserting that it is wrong to doubt that Jesus Christ has himself observed, in the most perfect way, the divine commandment by which children are ordered to honor their parents, asks this question: "What son would not bring his mother back to life and would not bring her into paradise after her death if he could?" (St Francis de Sales, Sermons). And St. Alphonsus writes that "Jesus did not wish to have the body of Mary corrupted after death, since it would have redounded to his own dishonor to have her virginal flesh, from which he himself had assumed flesh, reduced to dust."(St Alphonsus Liquori, The Glories of Mary)...

....All these proofs and considerations of the holy Fathers and the theologians are based upon the Sacred Writings as their ultimate foundation. These set the loving Mother of God as it were before our very eyes as most intimately joined to her divine Son and as always sharing his lot. Consequently it seems impossible to think of her, the one who conceived Christ, brought him forth, nursed him with her milk, held him in her arms, and clasped him to her breast, as being apart from him in body, even though not in soul, after this earthly life. Since our Redeemer is the Son of Mary, he could not do otherwise, as the perfect observer of God's law, than to honor, not only his eternal Father, but also his most beloved Mother. And, since it was within his power to grant her this great honor, to preserve her from the corruption of the tomb, we must believe that he really acted in this way....

....It is to be hoped that all the faithful will be stirred up to a stronger piety toward their heavenly Mother, and that the souls of all those who glory in the Christian name may be moved by the desire of sharing in the unity of Jesus Christ's Mystical Body and of increasing their love for her who shows her motherly heart to all the members of this august body. And so we may hope that those who meditate upon the glorious example Mary offers us may be more and more convinced of the value of a human life entirely devoted to carrying out the heavenly Father's will and to bringing good to others. Thus, while the illusory teachings of materialism and the corruption of morals that follows from these teachings threaten to extinguish the light of virtue and to ruin the lives of men by exciting discord among them, in this magnificent way all may see clearly to what a lofty goal our bodies and souls are destined. Finally it is our hope that belief in Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven will make our belief in our own resurrection stronger and render it more effective....

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady

In Christ shall all be brought to life, each one in proper order (1Co 15:22-23)

...Today the Virgin Mary rises gloriously to heaven. She completes the happiness of angels and saints. For it was she whose simple word of greeting made the child in his mother's womb leap for joy (Lk 1:44). What, then, must have been the rejoicing of the angels and saints when they found themselves able to hear her voice, see her face, and rejoice in her blessed presence! And what a great feast her glorious Assumption is for us, beloved brethren, what reason for happiness and cause for joy today! Mary's presence brightens the whole world, so greatly do the heaven shine, lightened up by the brilliance of the most holy Virgin. Therefore it is altogether fitting that the heavens resound with thanksgiving and praise.

Yet isn't it also right that, just as heaven rejoices in Mary's presence, we of the this world should mourn her absence? Not at all. Let us not weep since we have no lasting city here below (Heb 13:14) but seek that to which the Virgin Mary has come today. If even now we are registered among that city's inhabitants then it is fitting that we should call it to mind today..., share its joy, participate in the rejoicing that gladdens God's city today; for today it falls like dew upon our earth. Yes she, our queen, has gone before us and been received with so great a glory that we, her humble servants, may trustfully follow our sovereign, crying [with the Bride of the Song of Songs]: "Draw us! We will run to the sweet scent of your perfumes!" (Sg 1:3-4). Pilgrims on earth, we have sent our advocate before us..., the mother of mercy who will successfully plead our salvation. (St Bernard, Sermon for the Assumption)

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Novena to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary starts today (6th-14th) - click to read

More about the Feast of Assumption HERE

English translation of the Papal Bull, Munificentissimus Deus that defined the dogma of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Fra Bartolomeo's 'Assumption of the Virgin Mary', one of the masterpieces lost during WW2

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St Maximilian Kolbe, Martyr and Knight of the Immaculate Virgin

Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in My Name, He will give it to you. St. John 16:23

IMMACULATE CONCEPTION: These words fell from the lips of the Immaculata herself. Hence, they must tell us, in the most precise and essential manner, who she really is.

Since human words are incapable of expressing Divine realities, it follows that these words, "Immaculate" and "Conception", must be understood in a much more profound, much more beautiful and sublime meaning than usual: a meaning beyond that which human reason at its most penetrating commonly gives to them.

Who then are you, O Immaculate Conception?

Not God, of course, because He has no beginning. Not an angel, created directly out of nothing. Not Adam, formed out of the dust of the earth. Not Eve, molded from Adam's rib. Not the Incarnate Word, Who exists before all ages, and of Whom we should use the word "conceived" rather than "conception."

Humans do not exist before their conception, so we might call them created "conceptions." But you, O Mary, are different from all other children of Eve. They are conceptions stained by Original Sin; whereas you are the unique, Immaculate, Conception.

Everything which exists, outside of God Himself, since it is from God and depends on Him in every way, bears within itself some semblance to its Creator; there is nothing in any creature which does not betray this resemblance, because every created thing is an effect of the Primal Cause.


Who is the Father? What is His personal life like? It consists in begetting, eternally, because He begets His Son from the beginning and forever.

Who is the Son? He is the Begotten-One, because from the beginning, and for all eternity, He is begotten by the Father.

And Who is the Holy Spirit? The flowering of the love of the Father and the Son. If the fruit of created is a created conception, then the fruit of Divine love, that prototype of all created love, is necessarily a Divine "conception." The Holy Spirit is, therefore, the "uncreated, eternal conception," the prototype of all the conceptions that multiply life throughout the whole universe.

The Father begets; the Son is begotten; the Spirit is the "conception" that springs from their love; there we have the intimate life of the Three Persons by which They can be distinguished from one another. But They are united in the Oneness of Their Nature, of Their Divine existence. The Spirit is, then, this thrice holy "conception," this infinitely holy Immaculate Conception.


The creature most completely filled with this love, filled with God Himself, was the Immaculata, who never contacted the slightest stain of sin, who never departed in the least from God's will. United to the Holy Spirit as His spouse, she is one with God in an incomparably more perfect way than can be predicated of any other creature.

What sort of Union is this? It is above all an interior union, a union of her essence with the "essence" of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in her; lives in her. This was true from the first instance of her existence. It was always true and it will always be true.

And in what does this life of the Spirit in Mary consist? He Himself is uncreated Love in her; the Love of the Father and of the Son, the Love by which God loves Himself, the very love of the Most Holy Trinity. She is a fruitful Love, a "Conception." Among creatures made in God's image, the union brought about by married love is the most intimate of all. In a much more precise, more interior, more essential manner, the Holy Spirit lives in the soul of the Immaculata, in the depths of her very being. He makes her fruitful, from the very first instance of her existence, all during her life, and for all eternity.

This eternal "Immaculate Conception" [the Holy Spirit] produces in an immaculate manner Divine life itself in the womb or depths of Mary's soul, making her the Immaculate Conception, the human Immaculate Conception. And the virginal womb of Mary's body is kept sacred for Him; there He conceives in time the human life of the Man-God.

... she, the Immaculata, grafted into the Love of the Blessed Trinity, becomes, from the first moment of her existence and forever afterwards, the "complement of the Blessed Trinity." In the Holy Spirit's union with Mary we observe more than the love of two beings... .

So it is that, in this union, Heaven and Earth are joined; all of Heaven with the Earth, the totality of eternal love with the totality of created love. It is truly the summit of love. (St Maximilian Kolbe: Meditation on the Immaculate Conception)

credit: Rorate caeli blog

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Prayer to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by Pope Pius X

O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God and Mother of Humanity, we believe with all the fervour of our faith in your triumphal Assumption both in body and in soul into heaven where you are acclaimed as Queen by all the choirs of angels and all the legions of saints; we unite with them to praise and bless the Lord who has exalted you above all other pure creatures and to offer you the tribute of our devotion and our love.

We know that your gaze, which on earth watched over the humble and suffering humanity of Jesus, in heaven is filled with the vision of that humanity glorified and with the vision of uncreated Wisdom, and that the joy of your soul in the direct contemplation of the adorable Trinity causes your heart to throb with overwhelming tenderness; and we, poor sinners whose body weights down the flight of the soul, beg you to purify our hearts so that, while we remain below, we may learn to see God and God alone in the beauties of his creatures.

We trust that your merciful eyes may deign to gaze down upon our miseries and anguish, upon our struggles and our weaknesses; that your countenance may smile upon our joys and our victories; that you may hear the voice of Jesus saying to you of each one of us, as He once said to you of His Beloved Disciple:

"Behold you son," and we who call upon you as our Mother, we, like John, take you as the guide, strength and consolation of our mortal life.

We are inspired by the certainty that your eyes, which wept over the earth crimsoned by the blood of Jesus, are yet turned toward this world racked by wars and persecutions, the oppression of the just and the weak. From the shadows of this vale of tears, we seek in your heavenly assistance, tender mercy, comfort for our aching hearts, and help in the trials of Church and country.

We believe finally that in the glory where you reign, clothed with the sun and crowned with stars, you are, after Jesus, the joy and gladness of all the angels and the saints, and from this earth, over which we tread as pilgrims, comforted by our faith in the future resurrection, we look to you our life, our sweetness, our hope; draw us onward with the sweetness of your voice, so that one day, after our exile, you may show us Jesus, the blessed fruit of your womb.

O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.


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Feast of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world - Matthew 25:34

He showed me [His Mother's] ascend to heaven, the happiness and solemnity with which she was received, and the place where she is...The glory my spirit experienced in seeing so much glory was magnificent. The effects of this favour were great. (St Teresa of Avila, 'Collected Works' 1:353)

That life from above,
That is true life...
Death, be not aloof,
In dying first, may life be,
I die because I do not die
(St Teresa of Avila "Collected Works" 3: 376)

According to apocryphal writings, after the Ascension, or after dispersal of the Apostles, Mary lived between fifteen and twenty-two years in her house in Jerusalem. Three days before her death an angel announces her approaching end. It happened when Mary was coming down the Mount of Olives, when she was met by the Archangel Gabriel, who gace her a palm in token of her triumphal entry into heaven. This was three days before her death. The place is still known as 'et Tamir', the palm Tree, and the ruins of a church were still visible there until 1882. On the third day, when Apostles forewarned, have arrived, a Sunday, Mary dies: Jesus receives her soul which He consigns to Michael. Jesus ordered the burial of Mary in Gethsemane. The Apostles carried the bier, but are attacked by the Jews who wish to snatch the corpse, and who were struck blind (up to this day the site is marked on Mt Sion). Having placed the body in Gethsemane, it was transported to paradise by angels, where it was reunited with the soul. According to some the Assumption took place after three days, and some relate that the reunion of the soul would take place only at the final resurrection. This in short is the early tradition of the Church, as shown in the apocryphal writings which show remarkable harmony in their various versions. It is possible to quote the early Fathers of the Church, but they reflect in great part the early tradition of Jerusalem.

After crossing the Brook of Cedron we have at the foot of the Mount of Olives the Church of the Assumption erected on the tomb that received the mortal remains of the Blessed Virgin. From this tomb she was taken into heaven, for not being subject to the yoke of sin, she bore not the consequences of sin, which are the corruption of flesh. Therefore,
she only went through the tomb but did not delay there; her tomb became the shrine of her glorious Assumption into Heaven. That Mary, at the end of her earthly existence was assumed into heaven was defined as an article of faith on November 1, 1950. Jerusalem Catholics celebrated the definition by a great procession...A first Church was erected by the patriarch Modestus but it was again destroyed, except the little edicule over the Tomb, before the arrival of the Crusaders, who rebuilt it, keeping the form of a lower and upper Church.

The Church was committed to the care of the Benedictines of Cluny, and besides it stood the well-known abbey of the Valley of Josaphat. When Saladin took the city in 1187, he ordered the destruction of the monastery and the upper church, but allowed the lower to remain out of respect for the Mother of Jesus, whom the Moslems hold in veneration. Probably at this time the Moslems excavated in the Byzantine wall of the crypt, to the right of the Tomb, a praying niche (a mihrab). Although few of them formally pray there nowadays, many of them brings offerings candles, oil and incense in fulfillment of vows.

The ruin of the sacred monument would nevertheless have been inevitable, had not the Franciscans entered into possession of the Church in the second half of the 14th century and carried out important restorations. For two centuries the Franciscans had the exclusive and peaceful possession of the Tomb, while the Armenians, the Greeks, the Abyssinians and the Syrians carried out their liturgy on altars within the crypt. With the coming of the Turks, in 1517, began the intrigues of the Greeks and finally in 1757 the Franciscans lost the place completely. This usurpation has never been made good, and today the Church is shared by the Greeks and the Armenians, while the Syrians and the Copts are allowed to celebrate the liturgy within the shrine.
The building today is very badly kept, but beneath all the filth one can recognize its one time beauty in the Crusader and Byzantine structures. The church was completely flooded in 1948 and 1955, and it unexpectedly helped to clean it.

We stand beside the death-bed of Mary: no physical pain torments her, simply the longing to be with her Divine Son is consuming her earthly tenements of flesh. Mary dies without pain as gently as ripe fruit falls from the tree. With St John Damascene we can say: "The Blessed Virgin Mary did not on this day return to dust. For no sinful propensity ever inclined her towards the earth. No, the sentiments of her heart were ever directed upwards towards heaven. Why should she have to taste death from whom was born the true life of all? Still she submits to the general law of death, since it was promulgated by her son. As a daughter of Eve she submits to the ancient decree, as indeed her Son, who is Life Itself, submitted to it. But, inasmuch as she is the Mother of the Living God, she was worthy to be taken up to Him. Eve harkened to the voice of the serpent. the pains of motherhood and of death are therefore her punishment and in the gloomy dungeons of Limbo she is appointed a dwelling. But the Blessed Mother of Christ harkened to the Word of God and then the efficacious might of the Holy Ghost descended upon her.
How could she became the prey of the ravages of death. How could decomposition claim possession of the body in which the life of Our lord was conceived" (Second Seromn of Assumption)."

Excerpts from "Marian Shrines of the Holy Land" by Fr Hoade, 1958 edition

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