Saturday, January 30, 2010

Septuagesima Sunday - click for link

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Saturday, Day of Our Lady - The Rosary, Prayer of Spouses, Payer of the Family

Now that we frequently happen to receive newlyweds in audience, not only do we give them a rosary, strongly recommending that they use it, but we also exhort them to not go a single day, in spite of the greatest fatigues and preoccupations, without reciting the Rosary. (Pius XI)

It is especially in the midst of the family that we wish to see this recitation of the Holy Rosary spread everywhere. For one will fail to consolidate the shaken bases of the civilian society if the domestic society, the founding principle of human society, does not rest upon the laws of the Gospel. To reach such a difficult goal, we affirm that nothing is more efficient than the family recitation of the Rosary. (Pius XII)

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Wisdom of Carmelite Saint


Now I realize that true charity consists in putting up with all one's neighbor's faults, never being surprised by his weakness, and being inspired by the least of his virtues. (St. Therese)

Faithfulness of heart
About that time I chose two little girls of my own age as friends, but, alas, how fickle are human hearts! One of them returned home and was away for several months; I did not forget her and welcomed her back lovingly, only to receive a casual glance. I was deeply hurt, and resolved no to play the part of a beggar for so inconstant an affection. However, God has endowed me with a faithful heart, which once given is never taken back, so that I still love my school-friend and pray for her. (St Therese)

And be you kind to one another, merciful, forgiving one another, even as God hath forgiven you in Christ. (Ephesians 4:32)
'And forgive us, Lord, our debts, as we forgive our debtors'
But my Lord, are there some persons in my company who have not understood this? If there are, I beg them in Your name to remember this and pay no attention to the little things they call wrongs. It seems that, like children, we are making houses out of straw with these ceremonious little rules of etiquette. Oh God help me, Sisters, if we knew what honour is and what losing honour consists in!....O Lord, Lord! Are You our Model and Master? Yes, indeed! Well then, what did Your honour consists of, You who honoured us? Didn't You indeed lose it in being humiliated unto death? No, Lord, but You won it for all (St Teresa)

Mental prayer
Marie, no doubt thinking that I was quite pious enough for my age, would only allow me time for my vocal prayers, and none for mental prayer, much as I would have loved it. One of my mistresses at the Abbey asked me how I spent my whole holidays, when I remained at home. I answered shyly that ny drawing the curtains of my bed I could make a little recess in which I could hide, and there I would sit and think. "Oh" said the good nun, laughing, "and pray what do you think about?" "About God, the shortness of life, eternity; in fact, I just think."
My mistress remembered this, and later used to remind me of my thinking and asked if I still keep it up. I realize now that I was really praying, whilst my divine Master gently taught  my soul. (St Therese) 

In the 'Treatise on Prayer' Ven Fr John of Jesus Mary, master of mystical theology, tells us: Meditation is nothing else than a process of reasoning by which the understanding excites the will to good or turns it away from evil, and reflects seriously on the reading that has been made in view of prayer. Meditation therefore ought to be regulated according to the disposition and needs of the heart, that is to say, it should be employed as a means of moving the will and making it produce acts of virtue; consequently meditation is to be interrupted when the will is inflamed with fervour, and it must be resumed when devotion wanes. For more time and care must be given to the acts of the affection than to the meditation itself; and this is so true that, generally speaking, the more the meditation is short and concise, the more excellent is the prayer, because of the numerous acts of the affection with which it is enriched.

St Teresa in her 'Interior Castle' writes: I call meditation the discourse acts which the understanding makes in this manner: we begin by thinking of the grace of God has bestowed on us in giving us His only Son, and without stopping there, we pass on to the mysteries of His glorious life; or we begin by the prayer in the garden of Olives, and the understanding, without delaying at this mystery, follows the divine Master step by step and considers His sufferings until it contemplates Him nailed to the cross; or again, we take a particular point of the Passion, for example, the arrest of our Lord by His enemies, and, to arrive at the depth of this mystery, we consider in detail all that can strike the mind and touch the heart as the betrayal of Judas, the flight of the Apostles, and so for the other excellent and of very great merit.

Love of God and neighbour

Make of my soul a sanctuary,
Thy holy dwelling-place;
Make it a garden of delight
Where every flower seeks the Light:
The glory of Thy face. (St Therese)

..I wish to smile, resting on Your Heart and there tell You again and again that I love You, O my Lord. (St Therese)

When in the Old Law God commanded His people to love their neighbour as themselves, He had not yet come down upon earth, and considering how strong self-love is, He could not have asked more. But when Christ gave His new commandment to the Apostles, he required them not merely to love their neighbour as themselves, but as He loved him, unto the end. O Jesus! I know that Thou canst not command anything impossible; Thou knowest my weakness and imperfection better than I do, and that I could never succeed in loving my Sisters as Thou hast done, unless Thou, my divine Saviour, dost continue to love them in me. In giving this new commandment, Thou didst intend to grant me this grace, and it is dear to me because I have the assurance that Thou wilt Thyself love in me those whom I a bidden to love. (St Therese)

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

St Cyril, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of Carmelite Order, click to read the story of Carmel in the Holy Land

Cyril, the Bishop of Alexandria, was born of noble parents . He was nephew, on the father's side, of Theophilus, then Bishop of Alexandria, who sent the youth to Athens to pursue his studies. There Cyril made marked progress, and afterwards sought out John, the Bishop of Jerusalem, that he might be thoroughly instructed in the perfection of Christian life. Strenghtened by his intercourse with the Bishop, Cyril retired to Mount Carmel, where he led for some time the life of heaven upon earth...Later he returned to Alexandria, his native city, and was ordained a priest of the church. Shortly afterwards Theophilus died, who was Bishop, as well as Cyril's uncle, and Cyril was raised to the vacant seat by general consent. As Bishop he gave himself up wholly to the duties of the episcopal  charge....He attacked the Nestorian heretics, and he was therefore appointed the legate of Celestine the First, at the Council of Ephesus, where he uprooted almost entirely the baneful dogma of the Nestorians, and proved the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the true mother of God.  

O Blessed Cyril! Great Doctor, Light of the Holy Church, Lover of God's law, implore the Son of God in our behalf.

Father of heavenly light! who, with the light of wisdom and of the mind of Blessed Cyril, thy Confessor and Pontiff, that he might defend the honour of Mary, the Mother of Thy Son and ever Virgin, from the errors of heretics; grant, through his intercession, that the hearts of them that go astray may return to the unity of Thy truth, and that we may be one in obedience to Thy will. Through our Lord.. 

Text based on the Proper Offices of the Saints in Discaled Carmelite Breviary, 1896 edition.

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Monday, January 25, 2010


The great Apostle Paul, named Saul at his circumcision, was born in Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia, and was by that privilege a Roman citizen, to which quality a great distinction and several exemptions were granted by the laws of the Empire. He was early instructed in the strict observance of the Mosaic law, and lived up to it in the most scrupulous manner. In his zeal for the Jewish law, which he believed to be the divine Cause of God, he became a violent persecutor of the Christians. He was one of those who combined to murder Saint Stephen, and then he presided in the violent persecution of the faithful which followed the holy deacon’s martyrdom. By virtue of the power he had received from the high priest, he dragged the Christians out of their houses, loaded them with chains, and thrust them into prison. In the fury of his zeal he applied for a commission to seize in Damascus all Jews who confessed Jesus Christ, and to bring them in bonds to Jerusalem, that they might serve as examples for the others.

But God was pleased to manifest in him His patience and mercy. While Saul was journeying to Damascus, he and his party were surrounded by a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, and suddenly the chief was struck to the ground. And then a voice was heard saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” And Saul answered, “ and the voice replied, Who art Thou, Lord?”“I am Jesus, whom you persecute.” This mild admonition of Our Redeemer, accompanied with a powerful interior grace, cured Saul’s pride, assuaged his rage, and wrought at once a total change in him. Therefore, trembling and astonished, he cried out, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me do?” Our Lord ordered him to proceed on his way to the city of Damascus, where he would be informed of what was expected of him. Saul, arising from the ground, found that although his eyes were open, he saw nothing.

He was led into the city, where he was lodged in the house of a Christian named Judas. To this house came by divine appointment a holy man named Ananias, who, laying his hands on Saul, said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your journey, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he recovered his sight; then he arose and was baptized. He stayed a few days with the disciples at Damascus, and began immediately to preach in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God. Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an Apostle, and chosen as one of God’s principal instruments in the conversion of the world.
“He who would keep the grace of God, let him be grateful for grace when it is given, and patient when it is taken away. Let him pray that it may be given back to him, and be careful and humble, lest he lose it.”(Imitation of Christ)

Sources: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); The Holy Bible: Old and New Testaments.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Third Sunday after Epiphany, Carmelite meditations

Presence of God - O divine Saviour, I, too, am poor leper; receive me: "If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean!"

1. Today's Gospel (Mt 8:1-13) places before us two miracles of Jesus, two profound lessons in humility, faith, and charity. Observe the humble faith of the leper: "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean." He is so certain that Jesus can heal him that he feels nothing else is necessary for his cure other than the Lord's will. Christian faith does not wander about in subtle reasoning; its logic is simple: God can do all that He wills; therefore, His will alone is necessary. Yet the leper does not insist; one who lives by faith knows that God always wills whatever is best for him, even if it brings him suffering. Therefore, instead of insisting, he prefers to abandon himself to God's good pleasure.

Next comes centurion. The strong, proud Roman soldier is not ashamed to personally beg Jesus, a Galilean, to help his paralyzed servant. Our Lord is touched by this humble, charitable act, and says at once, "I shall go and heal him!" But the centurion continues, "I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed." At this point humility becomes still more profound, and faith reaches its maximum; it is not necessary for the Lord to go; His power is so great that a word spoken from afar suffices to perform any miracle. Jesus Himself "marveled and said:'Amen, I say to you, I have not found so great in Israel!'" Is this not a complaint against those who live so close to Him, who perhaps live in His own house, receiving constant favors from Him, while their faith remains very weak and therefore inefficacious?
2. According to Jewish law, lepers were kept apart from society and no one was allowed to go near them; likewise, the pagans were to be shunned because they did not belong to the chosen people. Jesus goes beyond the old law and in the name of universal charity He welcomes and heals the leper, listens to the foreign centurion and cures his pagan servant. Thus Christ teaches us to make no distinction of persons, not to despise sinners and infidels, but to welcome all with loving kindness. He does not wish the good to enclose themselves in a little circle, but to open the doors to everyone, doing good to all without concerning themselves about the traits and opinions of others. All men are children of God; and our charity, like the mercy of our heavenly Father, should extend to all. This is the dominant thought of today's Epistle (Rom 12: 16-21), where St. Paul exhorts us to practice charity, especially toward our enemies. "To no man rendering evil for evil.... If it be possible, as much as in you, have peace with all men. Revenge not yourselves....but if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat....Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good."
Jesus conquered evil, both physical and moral evil, by His mercy and love. This must be our strategy too. Whatever the evil around us, whatever the suffering it may cause us, we shall never overcome it by arguments and discussion or by taking a stand and adhering rigidly to it. This can only be accomplished by a delicate charity which understands intuitively the mentality, the tastes, and the needs of others, and which knows precisely when to intervene, to condescend and to sacrifice itself for the good of another, even if that other is unfriendly toward us - only such charity can triumph over evil.

"Being what we are and having our free will, when we do not receive what pleases us, we sometimes refuse what the Lord gives us, even though the gift might be the best one possible....But no, my God, no, more trust in anything which I can desire for myself: do You desire for me that which You are pleased to desire; for that is my desire, since all my good consist in pleasing You. And, if You, my God, should be pleased to please me, by fulfilling all that my desire asks of You, I know that I should not be lost (T.J. Way, 30-Exc, 17).
O my Jesus, I trust You, I abandon myself to You, dispose of me, of my health and of all that concerns me, according to what You know is best for my spiritual advancement. I beg but one thing: heal my poor soul. I too, spiritually, am a poor leper, a poor paralytic. My pride and vanity are always ready to impair and vitiate the little good I accomplish. Sloth and inertia seek to paralyze my efforts toward perfection. Behold me at Your feet, O Lord; I need Your help like the leper and the paralytic servant. I too, O Lord, believe that, if You will, You can heal me. "Miserable though I am, I firmly believe that You can do what You will; and the greater are Your marvels that I hear spoken of, and the more I reflect that You can work others still greater, the stronger grows my faith and the greater is the resolution with which I believe that You will hear my requests" (T.J.Exc, 4).
O sweet Jesus, I beg for a little of Your overflowing charity, which is so universal, so kind. You well know the difficulties I sometimes encounter when practicing this virtue, especially toward those whose ways of acting and thinking are so different from mine. O Lord, fill my heart with warm, sincere kindness toward them. Only the charity which comes from You will give me strength to overcome all the conflicts which arise from difference in temperament, education and ideas. Only this charity can enable me to sacrifice myself generously for those who hurt me and to continue to act kindly toward those whom I naturally dislike. O Jesus, You came on earth to enkindle the fire of charity: enkindle in me an ardent love for my neighbor.

Meditation from the "Divine Intimacy" by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene OCD.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

St Agnes, virgin and martyr - click to read more

Today we celebrate the feast of the most honoured and loved Saint of the early Church, St Agnes,patroness of purity and chastity

Sirach 51:1-8,12.
A prayer of Jesus the son of Sirach. I will give glory to thee, O Lord, O King, and I will praise thee, O God my Saviour. I will give glory to thy name: for thou hast been a helper and protector to me. And hast preserved my body from destruction, from the snare of an unjust tongue, and from the lips of them that forge lies, and in the sight of them that stood by, thou hast been my helper. And thou hast delivered me, according to the multitude of the mercy of thy name, from them that did roar, prepared to devour. Out of the hands of them that sought my life, and from the gates of afflictions, which compassed me about: From the oppression of the flame which surrounded me, and in the midst of the fire I was not burnt. From the depth of the belly of hell, and from an unclean tongue, and from lying words, from an unjust king, and from a slanderous tongue: My soul shall praise the Lord even to death. How thou deliverest them that wait for thee, O Lord, and savest them out of the hands of the nations.

Mt 25:1-13
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like to ten virgins, who taking their lamps went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride. And five of them were foolish and five wise. But the five foolish, having taken their lamps, did not take oil with them. But the wise took oil in their vessels with the lamps. And the bridegroom tarrying, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh. Go ye forth to meet him. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise: Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out. The wise answered, saying: Lest perhaps there be not enough for us and for you, go ye rather to them that sell and buy for yourselves. Now whilst they went to buy the bridegroom came: and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage. And the door was shut. But at last came also the other virgins, saying: Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answering said: Amen I say to you, I know you not. Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour.

The picture represents the relic of St Agnes' skull, preserved in St Agnes in Agony Church in Piazza Navona, Rome.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY - click for readings, explanations and instructions

Loving kindness of the Heart of Jesus,
manifestation of the Divine goodness.

One of the principal and most touching aspects of the economy of the Incarnation is the manifestation of the Divine perfections made to man through the Human Nature. God's attributes, His eternal perfections are incomprehensible to us here below, they surpass our understanding. But, in becoming man, the Incarnate Word reveals to the most simple minds the inaccessible perfections of His Divinity.
See Him at the marriage of Cana. For our human hearts, what an unexpected revelation of the Divine tenderness and delicacy! Some austere ascetics may be scandalized to see a miracle asked or wrought in order to hide the temporal need of a poor household during a wedding banquet. And yet it is this that the Blessed Virgin does not hesitate to ask, it is this that Christ vouchsafes to work. Jesus allows Himself to be touched by the embarrassment in which these poor people were about to find themselves; so as to spare them, he works a great prodigy. And what His heart herein reveals to us of human goodness and humble condescention is but the outward manifestation of Divine goodness whence the other has its source.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Feast of Our Lady of Victories - click to visit Basilica of Our Lady of Victories in Paris

Following St Therese, Carmelites have devotion to Our Lady of Victories. St Therese honoured Our Lady with the beautiful poem, and we may read and reflect on it today. It is a good moment to pray for the conversion of sinners with all confidence and trust in Our Lady unceasing help for those who turn to her with the prayer of Pope Pius XI. The prayer is in its original form and may sound shocking to our post-Vatican II ears, but in all truth and reality this prayer of Pope Pius XI is as much up to date as it was almost 80 years ago when it was composed. We may also visit OLOV Basilica in Paris, and read more about Lisieux Carmel and Our Lady of Victories in the link provided at the end of this post. Our Lady of Victories, pray for us and for all sinners!

To Our Lady of Victories

You who fulfill my hope, 
O Mother, hear the humble song
Of love and gratitude
That comes from the heart of your child...

You have united me forever
With the works of a Missionary,
By the bonds of prayer,
Suffering and love.

He will cross the earth
To preach the name of Jesus.
I will practice humble virtues
In the background and in mystery.

I crave suffering
I love and desire the Cross...
To save one soul,
I would die a thousand times...

Ah! For the Conqueror of souls
I want to sacrifice myself in Carmel,
And through Him to spread the fire 
That Jesus brought down from Heaven

Through Him, what a ravishing mystery,
Even as far as east Szechuan
I shall be able to make loved
The virginal name of my tender Mother!...

In my deep solitude,
Mary....I want to win hearts.
Through your Apostle, I shall convert sinners
As far as the ends of the earth.

Through Him, the holy waters of Baptism
Will make of the tiny newborn babe
The temple where God Himself
Designs to dwell in His love.

I want to fill with little angels 
The brilliant eternal abode...
Through Him hosts of children
Will take flight to heaven!...

Through Him, I'll be able to gather
The palm for which my soul yearns.
Oh what hope! dear Mother 
I shall be the sister of a Martyr!!!

After this life's exile,
On the evening of the glorious fight,
We shall enjoy the fruits of our apostolate
In our Homeland.
For Him, Victory's honour
For me...the reflection of His Glory
For all eternity in the Heavens!...
The little sister of a Missionary. (St Therese) 


O Mary, merciful Refuge of Sinners and Mother of all mankind! Behold how many souls are lost every hour! Behold how countless millions of those who live in India, in China, and in barbarous regions do not yet know Our Lord Jesus Christ! See, too, how many others are far from the bosom of Mother Church which is Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman! O Mary ... life of our hearts ... let not the Precious Blood and fruits of Redemption be lost for so many souls!

Grant that a ray of Heavenly light may shine forth to enlighten those many blinded understandings and to enkindle so many cold hearts. Intercede with thy Divine Son, and obtain grace for all pagans, Jews, heretics, and schismatics in the whole world to receive supernatural light and to enter with joy into the bosom of the true Church. Hear the confident prayer of the Supreme Pontiff that all nations may be united in one faith, that they may know and love Jesus Christ, the blessed fruit of thy womb ... And then all men shall love thee also, thou who art the salvation of the world, arbiter and dispenser of the treasures of God . . . And, glorifying thee, O Queen of Victories, who, by means of thy Rosary, dost trample upon all heresies, they shall acknowledge that thou givest life to all nations, since there must be a fulfillment of the prophecy: "All generations shall call me blessed." Amen.

More about Our Lady of Victories HERE

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Our Lady of Banneux - click to read more

"Our Lady of Banneux, Virgin of the Poor, you have said: "I come to relieve suffering." Holy Mother of God and Mother of the Savior, you make us hear anew the merciful call of your divine Son: "Come to me, all ye who are burdened and who suffer, and I will relieve you." Mother of all men, you have come for all nations and you ask us to pray much. We place our trust in You. Deign to hear our prayers. Look upon our spiritual and temporal miseries. Lead back to Jesus the poor straying souls and increase the faith of the faithful. Holy Virgin Mary, bring aid to the indigent; help us to sanctify the trials of life; relieve the sick and pray for all your children. O Virgin of the Poor, you are our hope! By your maternal mediation, may the reign of Christ the King spread over all nations. Amen."
Imprimatur: Friburg, June 1, 1945. 

Banneux Notre-Dame, the land of Mary
During the tragic days of the German invasion, at the beginning of WWI, all the populated areas of the region were devastated and burned. Seeing the flames in the distance, the villagers gathered inside the church and made the solemn vow to consider their land as the "land of Mary" and to add the name of Our Lady to that of Banneux if they were spared. Indeed the Germans passed through quickly, in the direction of France, and nothing tragic happened there, neither at that time nor during the next four years of conflict. At the end of the war the new name of Banneux Notre-Dame was requested and obtained for the village. There, too, Mary was truly "at home."(Vittorio Messori, L'enigma of Banneux)
After 'A Moment with Mary'

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Sunday, January 10, 2010


The cult of the Holy Family was approved in 1665, a fact lauded by Pope Leo XIII in his Apostolic Letter "Neminem fugit" and the fragments of this letter we may read below. The Feast is a spiritual occasion particularly suitable for the moments of prayer and reflection on the Christian family. 

Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience: bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against one another:even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection: And let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be you thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God (Col:3:12-16)

When God in his mercy determined to accomplish the work of man's renewal, now through long ages awaited, he so appointed and ordained this work, that its very earliest beginnings might exhibit to the world the august spectacle of a Family Divinely constituted, in which all men might behold a perfect model of a domestic life, and of all virtues and holiness. For such indeed was that Family of Nazareth, where dwelt in secret the Sun of justice, until the time when he should shine out in full splendour in the sight of all nations. Christ, our God and Saviour, lived with his Virgin Mother, and with Joseph, a most holy man, who held to him the place of father. There can be no doubt that every virtue called forth by an ordinary home life, with its mutual services of charity, its holy intercourse, and its practices of piety, was displayed in the highest degree in that Holy Family, since it was destined to be a pattern to all others. For that very reason was it established by the merciful designs of Providence, that every Christian, in every place, might easily, if he would but give heed to it, have before him a motive and a pattern for the practice of every virtue...Truly, to fathers of families, Joseph is a superlative model of paternal vigilance and care. In the most holy Virgin Mother of God, mothers may find an excellent example of love, modesty, submission of spirit, and perfect faith. Whilst in Jesus, who was subject to his parents, the children of the family have a divine model of obedience which they can admire, reverence, and imitate. Those who are of noble birth may learn, from this Family of royal blood, how to live simply in times of prosperity, and how to retain their dignity in times of distress. The rich may learn that virtue is to be more highly esteemed that wealth. Artisans, and all such as are bitterly annoyed by the narrow and slender means of their families, if they would but consider the sublime holiness of the members of this domestic fellowship, could not fail to find cause for rejoicing in their lot, rather than being dissatisfied with it. In common with the Holy Family, they have to work, and to provide for the daily wants of life, Joseph had to engage in trade, in order to live: even the divine hands laboured at an artisan's calling. It is not to be wondered at, that the wealthiest men, if truly wise, have been willing to cast away their reaches, and to embrace a life of poverty with Jesus, Mary and Joseph (From the Apostolic Letter of Pope Leo XIII, Neminem Fugit, June 1892)

Picture: "Holy Family" by Claudio Coelo. Text selected from the Breviary lessons.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Saturday - Day of Our Lady and fourth day within the octave of Epiphany

We are in the Octave of the great Feast of Epiphany of Our Lord, therefore, with all love and adoration we may spent several minutes meditating upon the moments described in Scriptures, when the star having risen in the East and foretold by Balaam, so greatly inspired the hearts of Three gentile Kings from the east, whose hearts were full of the expectation of the promised Redeemer, that they were immediately inflamed with the desire of going in search of Him. Through His beloved Mother today, we may ask Our Lord we may never cease to follow Him, who is our Star.

The three Kings, docile to the divine inspiration, suddenly leave their country, their riches, their quiet, in order to follow a star: the power of that God, who had called them, unites them in the same path, as they were already one in faith. The star goes on before them, marking out the route they were to follow: the dangers of such a journey, the fatigues of a pilgrimage which might last for weeks or months, the fear of awakening suspicions in the Roman Empire towards which they were evidently tending - all this was nothing to them; they were told to go, and they went.
The first stay as at Jerusalem, They, Gentiles, come into this Holy City... to announce that Jesus Christ is come! With all the simple courage and all the calm conviction of Apostles and Martyrs, they declare their firm resolution of going to Him and adoring Him. Their earnest inquiries constrain Israel, who was the guardian of the divine prophecies, to confess one of the chief marks of the Messias - his Birth in Bethlehem. The Jewish Priesthood fulfils, though with...ignorance, its sacred ministry, and Herod sits restlessly on his throne, plotting murder. The Magi leave the faithless City....[T]he Star reappears in the heavens, and invites them to resume their journey. Yet a few hours, and they will be at Bethlehem, at the feet of the King of whom they are in search.

O dear Jesus! we also are following thee; we are walking in Thy light, for Thou hast said, in the Prophecy of Thy beloved Disciple: I am the bright and morning Star (Apoc 22:16). The meteor that guides the Magi is but Thy symbol, O divine Star! Thou art the morning Star for Thy Birth proclaims that the darkness of error and sin is at an end. Thou art the morning Star; for, after submitting to death and the tomb, Thou wilt suddenly arise from that night of humiliation to the bright morning of Thy glorious Resurrection. Thou art the morning Star; for by Thy Birth and the Mysteries which are to follow, thou announcest unto us the cloudless day of eternity. May Thy light ever beam upon us! May we like the Magi, be obedient to its guidance, and ready to leave all things in order to follow it! We were sitting in darkness when Thou didst call us to Thy grace, by making this Thy light shine upon us. We were fond of our darkness, and Thou gavest us a love for the Light! Dear Jesus, keep up this love within us. Let not sin, which is darkness, ever approach us. Preserve us from the delusion of a false conscience. Avert from us that blindness into which fell the City of Jerusalem and her king, and which prevented them from seeing the Star. May Thy Star guide us through life, and bring us to Thee, our King, our Peace, our Love!

We salute thee, too, O Mary, thou STAR OF THE SEA that shinest on the waters of this life, giving calm and protection to thy tempest-tossed children who invoke thee! Thou didst pray for the Magi as they traversed the desert; guide also our steps, and bring us to Him who is thy Child and thy Light eternal.

Text after Dom Gueranger "The Liturgical Year" 

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Novena to the Magi in anticipation of the Epiphany - starts 28th December

28 December:

O holy Magi! You were living in continual expectation of the rising of the Star of Jacob, which would announce the birth of the true Sun of justice; obtain for us an increase of faith and charity, and the grace to live in continual hope of beholding one day the light of heavenly glory and eternal joy. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

29 December:

O holy Magi! who at the first appearance of the wondrous star left your native country to go and seek the newborn King of the Jews; obtain for us the grace of corresponding with alacrity to every divine inspiration. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

30 December:
O holy Magi! who regarded neither the severity of the season, nor the inconveniences of the journey that you might find the newborn Messiah; obtain for us the grace not to allow ourselves to be discouraged by any of the difficulties which may meet us on the way of salvation. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

31 December:
O holy Magi, who, when deserted by the star in the city of Jerusalem, sought humbly, and without human respect, from the rulers of the Church, the place where you might discover the object of your journey; obtain for us grace to have recourse, in faith and humility, in all our doubts and perplexities to the counsel of our superiors, who hold the place of God on earth. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

1 January:
O holy Magi, who were gladdened by the reappearance of the star which led you to Bethlehem; obtain for us from God the grace, that, remaining always faithful to Him in afflictions, we may be consoled in time by His grace, and in eternity by His glory. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

2 January:
O holy Magi, who, entering full of faith into the stable of Bethlehem, prostrated yourselves on the earth, to adore the newborn King of the Jews, though he was surrounded only by signs of poverty and weakness; obtain from the Lord for us a lively faith in the real presence of Jesus in the blessed Sacrament, the true spirit of poverty, and a Christ-like charity for the poor and suffering. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

3 January:
O holy Magi, who offered to Jesus Christ gold, incense, and myrrh, thereby recognizing Him to be at once King, God, and Man; obtain from the Lord for us the grace never to present ourselves before Him with empty hands; but that we may continually offer to Him the gold of charity, the incense of prayer, and the myrrh of penance and mortification. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

4 January:
O holy Magi, who, when warned by an angel not to return to Herd, traveled back to your country be another road; obtain for us from the Lord, the grace that, after having found Him in true repentance, we may avoid all danger of losing Him again. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

5 January:
O holy Magi, who were first among the Gentiles called to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and who persevered in the faith till your deaths, obtain for us of the Lord the grace of living always in conformity to our baptismal vows, ever leading to a life of faith; that like you we may attain to the beatific vision of that God Who now is the object of our faith. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end

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Friday, January 01, 2010

The Feast of Circumcision


Why is this day so called?

Because the secular year begins with this day, as the Church year begins with the First Sunday in Advent.

What should we do on this day?
An offering of the new year should be made to God, asking His grace that we may spend the year in a holy manner, for the welfare of the soul.

Why do we wish each other a "happy new year"?
Because to do so is an act of Christian love; but this wish should come from the heart, and not merely from worldly politeness, otherwise we would be like the heathens (Mt. 5:47), and receive no other reward than they.

What feast of the Church is celebrated today?
The Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord, Who, for love of us, voluntarily subjected Himself to the painful law of the Old Covenant, that we might be freed from the same.

What was the Circumcision?
It was an external sign of the Old Law, by which the people of that day were numbered among the chosen people of God, as now they become, by baptism, members of the Church of Christ.

What is the signification of Circumcision in the moral or spiritual sense?
It signifies the mortification of the senses, of evil desires, and inclinations. This must be practiced by Christians now, since they have promised it in baptism which would be useless to them without the practice of mortification; just as little as the Jew by exterior Circumcision is a true Jew, just so little is the baptized a true Christian without a virtuous life. Beg of Christ, therefore, today, to give you the grace of the true Circumcision of heart.

I thank Thee, O Lord Jesus, because Thou hast shed Thy blood for me in Circumcision, and beg Thee that by Thy precious blood I may receive the grace to circumcise my heart and all my senses, so that I may lead a life of mortification in this world, and attain eternal joys in the next. Amen.

[The INTROIT of the Mass is the same as is said in the Third Mass on Christmas.]

COLLECT O God, Who, by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary, hast bestowed upon mankind the rewards of eternal salvation; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may feel the benefit of her intercession for us, through whom we have deserved to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who livest and reignest, etc.

[The EPSTLE is the same as is said in the First Mass on Christmas.]

GOSPEL (Lk. 2:21).
At that time, after eight days were accomplished that the child should be circumcised, his name was called Jesus, which was called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Why did Jesus submit to Circumcision?
That He might show His great love for us, which caused Him even at the very beginning of His life, to shed His blood to cleanse us thereby from all our sins. Furthermore to teach us obedience to the commandments of God and His Church, since He voluntarily subjected Himself to the Jewish law, although He was not in the least bound by it, which ordered that every male child should be circumcised on the eighth day after its birth (
Lev. 12:3).

Why was He named Jesus?
Because Jesus means Redeemer and Savior, and He had come to redeem and save the world (
Mt. 1:21). This is the holiest, most venerable, and most powerful name by which we can be saved.

What power has this name?
The greatest power, for it repels all attacks of the evil Spirit, as Jesus Himself says (
Mk. 16:17). And so great is the efficacy of this most holy name that even those who are not righteous, can by it expel devils (Mt. 7:22). It has power to cure physical pains and evils, as when used by the apostles (Acts. 3:3-7), and Christ promised that the faithful by using it could do the same (Mk. 16:17). St. Bernard calls the name of Jesus a "Medicine"; and St. Chrysostom says, "This name cures all ills; it gives succor in all the ailments of the soul, in temptations, in faintheartedness, in sorrow, and in all evil desires, etc." "Let him who cannot excite contrition in his heart for the sins he has committed, think of the loving, meek, and suffering Jesus, invoke His holy name with fervor and confidence, and he will feel his heart touched and made better," says St. Lawrence Justinian. It overcomes and dispels the temptations of the enemy: "When we fight against Satan in the name of Jesus," says the martyr St. Justin, "Jesus fights for us, in us, and with us, and the enemies must flee as soon as they hear the name of Jesus." It secures us help and blessings in all corporal and spiritual necessities, because nothing is impossible to him who asks in the name of Jesus, whatever tends to his salvation will be given him (Jn. 14:13). Therefore it is useful above all things, to invoke this holy name in all dangers of body and soul, in doubts, in temptations, especially in temptations against holy chastity, and still more so when one has fallen into sin, from which he desires to be delivered; for this name is like oil (Cant. 1:2) which cures, nourishes, and illumines.

How must this name be pronounced to experience its power?
With lively faith, with steadfast, unshaken confidence, with deep­est reverence and devotion, for in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (
Phil. 2:10). What wickedness, then, is theirs who habitually pronounce this name carelessly and irreverently, upon every occasion! Such a habit is certainly diabolical; for the damned and the devils constantly abuse God and His holy name.

Why does this name so seldom manifest its power in our days?
Because Christian faith is daily becoming weaker, and confidence less, while perfect submission to the will of God is wanting. When faith grows stronger among people, and confidence greater, then will the power of this most sacred name manifest itself in more wonderful and consoling aspects.

O Jesus! Consolation of the afflicted! Thy name is indeed poured out like oil; for Thou dost illumine those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; Thou dost disperse the blindness of the soul and dost cure its ills; Thou givest food and drink to those who hunger and thirst after justice. Be also, O Jesus! my Savior, the phy­sician of my soul, the healer of its wounds. O Jesus! Succor of those who are in need, be my protector in temptations! O Jesus! Father of the poor, do Thou nourish me! O Jesus! joy of the angels, do Thou comfort me! O Jesus! my only hope and refuge, be my helper in the hour of death, for there is given us no other name beneath the sun by which we may be saved, but Thy most blessed name Jesus!

St. Paul says: All whatsoever you do in word or in work, all things do ye in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (
Col. 3:17). We should, therefore, follow the example of the saints, and continually say, at least in our hearts: "For love of Thee, O Jesus, I rise; for love of Thee I lie down; for love of Thee I eat, drink, and enjoy myself; for love of Thee I work, speak, or am silent." Thus we will accustom ourselves to do all in the name of Jesus, by which everything is easily or at least meritoriously accomplished.

O God, Heavenly Father of Mercy, God of all Consolation! we thank Thee that from our birth to this day, Thou hast so well pre­served us, and hast protected us in so many dangers; we beseech Thee, through the merits of Thy beloved Son, and by His sacred blood which He shed for us on this day in His circumcision, to for­give all the sins which, during the past year, we have committed against Thy commandments, by which we have aroused Thy indig­nation and wrath against ourselves. Preserve us in the coming year from all sins, and misfortunes of body and soul. Grant that from this day to the end of our lives, all our senses, thoughts, words, and works, which we here dedicate to Thee for all time, may be directed in accordance with Thy will, and that we may finally die in the true Catholic faith, and enjoy with Thee in Thy kingdom a joyful new year, that shall know no end. Amen.

credits: text from Fr. Leonard Goffine's 'The Church's Year', the picture represents Albrecht Durer's woodcut - "Circumcision"

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