Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jesus wants to dwell within you - invite Him to be your friend

"Blessed is he who appreciates what it is to love Jesus and who despises himself for the sake of Jesus. Give up all other love for His, since He wishes to be loved alone above all things.
Affection for creatures is deceitful and inconstant, but the love of Jesus is true and enduring. He who clings to a creature will fall with its frailty, but he who gives himself to Jesus will ever be strengthened.
Love Him, then; keep Him as a friend. He will not leave you as others do, or let you suffer lasting death. Sometime, whether you will or not, you will have to part with everything. Cling, therefore, to Jesus in life and death; trust yourself to the glory of Him who alone can help you when all others fail.
Your Beloved is such that He will not accept what belongs to another -- He wants your heart for Himself alone, to be enthroned therein as King in His own right. If you but knew how to free yourself entirely from all creatures, Jesus would gladly dwell within you.
You will find, apart from Him, that nearly all the trust you place in men is a total loss. Therefore, neither confide in nor depend upon a wind-shaken reed, for "all flesh is grass" and all its glory, like the flower of grass, will fade away.
You will quickly be deceived if you look only to the outward appearance of men, and you will often be disappointed if you seek comfort and gain in them. If, however, you seek Jesus in all things, you will surely find Him. Likewise, if you seek yourself, you will find yourself -- to your own ruin. For the man who does not seek Jesus does himself much greater harm than the whole world and all his enemies could ever do."
-- Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Memorial of Bl Maria Teresa of St. Joseph

"Anna Maria Tauscher -- was born on June 19, 1855 in Sandow, Germany, which is now in Poland.  She came from a deeply religious Protestant pastor's family.  God guided this richly talented and capable woman on steep and stony roads to the Catholic faith.  On October 30, 1888 she was received into the Catholic Church.  From then on she herself became poor for the sake of the poor, homeless for the sake of the homeless.  She placed her life in the service of God.  In order to realize this goal, she founded a religious Congregation, the Carmel of the Divine Heart of Jesus on July 2, 1891.

Mother Maria Teresa took for a model St. Teresa of Jesus, the great Spanish Mystic and Reformer of the Order of Carmel.  Mother Maria Teresa took the Carmelite spirit of prayer and coupled it with apostolic service.  Her concern was aimed especially at poor and neglected children, above all those who had no home.  Her loving dedication was further directed to families and individuals who had left the Church, to the lonely, the aged, to immigrants and transient workers--simply all who were homeless in any way.  So it was that contemplative prayer coupled with active charity became the distinguishing mark of the Carmel of the Divine Heart of Jesus.

After a long life of dedicated service, Mother Maria Teresa died at the age of 83 on September 20, 1938 at the Mother House of the Carmel DCJ, in Sittard, Holland.  Bishop W. Lemmens opened her beatification process in Sittard on February 2, 1953. On December 20,2002 Pope John Paul II declared Mother Mary Teresa of St. Joseph venerable. In December 2005, Pope Benedict XVI approved the miracle necessary for her beatification. Mother Maria Teresa was beatified on May 13, 2006 in Roermond, Netherlands.

Before her death she wrote: 'To be able to dry tears, to heal wounds of souls from the heights of heaven, this is my ardent wish.'"

-- From the website of the Congregation of Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus

Friday, October 29, 2010

The privilege to stand in the person of all men and chant the praises of God

"From the very beginning we were made aware of the grave and serious obligation that would always be ours to recite this Office. But we were made no less aware of the privilege that was ours to stand in the person of all men and chant the praises of God for the good of the Church and the salvation of souls. We received the right to harmonize with angels at the feet of the Lord. We were blessed to sing the chants of the suffering Christ; to raise our voices in joy at His victory.

Of all the men on the face of the earth, we were the relative few who had been chosen to pray for those who would not or could not pray. We had been given the right to use the official prayers of the Church which in the matter of sheer beauty and expressiveness stand unsurpassed. We lived every mood of the prayers we sang. Felt every pain. Experienced every joy. We wept with those lamentations of the Old Law which foretold the immolation of the Lamb. We rejoiced in the relentless poundings of the glorious Alleluias.

All this was, and is today, our privilege and our heritage as men of God. So we make our voices rise and fall in the unique cadences of the chant. We might be expected to kneel down and kiss the floor when we have made an obviously incorrect addition or omission. We might wish at times that the long chanting of prayers would come to an end, and all the constant movement cease. We might feel acutely our unworthiness to intercede with God for those which might have been, if given the opportunity, far better than we ourselves are. Still, we are the ones to do this. It is our life, our love, our sacrifice.

But easy or hard, it is always a consolation to know that in days when men have plotted to upset the throne of God on earth, when they have stood defiantly before their Creator with jutting jaws and hard, glowering eyes, it is a consolation for us to be able to stand in choir with our breviaries in our hands and make reparation for the sins of the world, to pray in its behalf.

And for each blasphemy that is spewed recklessly toward heaven, the friars in their brown and white can turn their eyes to the tabernacle, and with their many voices praying as one, keep the pages turning and the plea ever resounding: 'Spare us, O Lord, spare thy people. And be not angry with us forever.'"

-- Men in Sandals by Fr Richard of the Immaculate Conception (Madden), ocd

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Feast of Sts Simon and Jude

"St Simon is surnamed the Canaanean or Canaanite, and the Zealot, to distinguish him from St. Peter, and from St. Simeon, the brother of St. James the Less, and his successor in the see of Jerusalem. From the first of these surnames some have thought that St. Simon was born at Cana, in Galilee: certain modern Greeks pretend that it was at his marriage that our Lord turned the water into wine. It is not to be doubted but he was a Galilean. Theodoret says, of the tribe either of Zabulon or Nepthali. Hammond and Grotius think that St. Simon was called the Zealot, before his coming to Christ, because he was one of that particular sect or party among the Jews called Zealots, from a singular zeal they possessed for the honour of God and the purity of religion. A party called Zealots were famous in the war of the Jews against the Romans. They were main instruments in instigating the people to shake off the yoke of subjection; they assassinated many of the nobility and others in the streets, filled the temple itself with bloodshed and other horrible profanations, and were the chief cause of the ruin of their country. But no proof is offered by which it is made to appear that any such party existed in our Saviour's time, though some then maintained that it was not lawful for a Jew to pay taxes to the Romans At least if any then took the name Zealots, they certainly neither followed the impious conduct nor adopted the false and inhuman maxims of those mentioned by Josephus in his history of the Jewish war against the Romans.

St. Simon, after his conversion, was zealous for the honour of his Master, and exact in all the duties of the Christian religion; and showed a pious indignation toward those who professed this holy faith with their mouths, but dishonoured it by the irregularity of their lives. No further mention appears of him in the gospels than that he was adopted by Christ into the college of the apostles. With the rest he received the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost, which he afterwards exercised with great zeal and fidelity. If this apostle preached in Egypt, Cyrene, and Mauritania, he returned into the East; for the Martyrologies of St. Jerome, Bede, Ado, and Usuard place his martyrdom in Persia, at a city called Suanir, possibly in the country of the Suani, a people in Colchis, or a little higher in Sarmatia, then allied with the Parthians in Persia; which may agree with a passage in the Acts of St. Andrew, that in the Cimmerian Bosphorus there was a tomb in a "rot, with an inscription importing that Simon the Zealot was interred there. His death is said in these Martyrologies to have been procured by the idolatrous priests. Those who mention the manner of his death say he was crucified. St. Peter's Church on the Vatican at Rome and the Cathedral of Toulouse are said to possess the chief portions of the relics of SS. Simon and Jude."

-- The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints by Fr Alban Butler

** Painting of St Simon by El Greco

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The one true friend of our hearts

"Jesus Christ is the only and true friend of our hearts, that have been created just for Him; that is why they cannot find happiness, rest or fulfillment except in Him."

-- St Margaret Mary Alacoque
translated by ocdsister

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You need to be serious about your faith

"The reading we heard today from the Book of the Prophet Malachi [Malachi 3:13-20] is very important. It is a very famous reading because Jesus refers to it in talking about John the Baptist and what would happen before the time of the coming of the Lord. Yet, we see it in a different way as well. We can certainly understand the reading in today's present context, with people saying, "What good is it to serve the Lord? Why should we hold Him in awe? Why pray? What difference does it make anyway? After all, those who are evildoers, those who are steeped in sin, they have dollars coming out of their ears! Bucks everywhere! Power and authority and all kinds of prestige! Yet, they fly right in the face of God! And then, if you try to serve God nothing works. You just get stomped on and trampled, you get dragged through the mud and, uh, what good is it to serve God?" Then we can look at it and say, "Just look through society! You cannot tell the difference between the ones who serve the Lord and the ones who do not, most of the time!" That is precisely the point that God is making through Malachi. It is what happened a couple of thousand years ago and it is what is happening again.

But the Day of the Lord is coming, and it is going to come with fire. It is going, as the Lord says, to burn all the evildoers and it will leave them neither root nor branch. Our Lady made very clear at Akita that when the time of the purification comes it will happen by fire falling from the sky and it will kill the greater part of humanity. Every single person in the state of mortal sin will die and some, who are in the state of grace, also will die. The Day of the Lord is coming and it will, indeed, burn like a fire. It will destroy all evildoers and it will be very clear those who serve the Lord and those who do not.

So we need to be faithful to Him. That is the point that is made also in Malachi, it says: "Then, those who serve the Lord spoke, and the Lord listened attentively." The Lord hears your prayers; do not ever doubt that. Do not ever question whether the Lord hears your prayers. He does not always answer them the way you think that He ought. And He certainly does not always answer them in the time frame that you think you have laid out for Him - as if we are going to play God and tell Him how He ought to do what we want Him to do. He is God; we are not. Part of the test of our faith, as well as of our hope and of our charity, is that we have to keep going back.

In the Gospel reading [Luke 11:5-13], we hear about the man who will get what he wants, not because of friendship but because of persistence. We need to keep going to the Lord. It is not just a matter of saying, "Lord, listen, this is what I want. If I get it, well then, I am happy; and if I do not, well then, God must not listen to my prayers and I am useless. Why should I do this anymore?" But rather, it is a matter that we have to be able to show how desperately we want union with Christ. Now, that is a hard concept for most of us. Most of us sit back with this romantic idea of how nice it would be to be united with the Lord. But, we are not really willing to do what it will cost to get there: the struggles and the sufferings, the detachments, and all of the problems that will arise.

But the only way that we are going to survive these next times is if we pray and if we are united to the Lord. So, let the word to the wise be sufficient: You best pray earnestly to the Lord. "Seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened; ask and you will receive." But you must be earnest about it. We cannot be doing any of this flippant prayer stuff anymore. We cannot be going to prayer just rambling on aimlessly, talking to ourselves and really paying no attention to God. We need to be earnest, or else we are going to be like the evildoers who say, "This is useless. Why should I keep this up? What good is it doing me to serve the Lord because things are only getting worse."

Know today that things are going to get worse - things are going to get much worse in the very near future. And do not think it is because God is not hearing your prayers; it is because there is a purification that has begun and this is going to culminate only on the Day of the Lord, when He comes with fire. So prepare yourself because only those who are faithful to the Lord will survive. Only those who are true to the Lord are going to have the grace necessary to be able to make it through what is coming. And so you need to be serious about your faith.

Right now, we cannot see much of a difference between those who worship God and those who do not. That is a pretty sad statement for us who worship God. In this society, if we cannot see the difference between those who serve God and those who do not, we are not doing what we ought to be doing. That means we have become like everyone else. That distinction had better become very clear very quickly because the Day of the Lord is coming with fire. We need to be prepared. There is only one way that we will survive, that is, if we are united with Our Lady and with her Son. That is the only way. Prepare yourself with prayer, with fasting, with repentance, with penance. Unite yourself to Jesus Christ because the Day of the Lord is coming."

-- From a homily by Fr Robert Altier, ocds (11 October 2001)

Monday, October 25, 2010

The sign of the cross

"I believe that if our signs of the cross were always made as if in the presence of God, rather than as if we were chasing away flies, they would open for us the heart of God. Each sign of the cross brings us nearer to God. For each sign of the cross well made, there is one added degree of eternal glory. Each sign of the cross made with devotion deposits within your heart another degree of love, which you would not have had without it."

-- Fr Almire Pichon, SJ

** Fr Pichon was the spiritual director of St Thérèse and the Martin Family in Lisieux.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Charity gives life to our hearts

"Behold at length, Theotimus, how God, by a progress full of ineffable sweetness, conducts the soul which he makes leave the Egypt of sin, from love to love, as from mansion to mansion, till he has made her enter into the land of promise, I mean into most holy charity, which to say it in one word, is a friendship, and a disinterested love, for by charity we love God for his own sake, by reason of his most sovereignly amiable goodness. But this friendship is a true friendship, being reciprocal, for God has loved eternally all who have loved him, do, or shall love him temporally. It is shown and acknowledged mutually, since God cannot be ignorant of the love we bear him, he himself bestowing it upon us, nor can we be ignorant of his love to us, seeing that he has so published it abroad, and that we acknowledge all the good we have, to be true effects of his benevolence. And in fine we have continual communications with him, who never ceases to speak unto our hearts by inspirations, allurements, and sacred motions; he ceases not to do us good, or to give all sorts of testimonies of his most holy affection, having openly revealed unto us all his secrets, as to his confidential friends. And to crown his holy loving intercourse with us, he has made himself our proper food in the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist; and as for us, we have freedom to treat with him at all times when we please in holy prayer, having our whole life, movement and being not only with him, but in him and by him.

Now this friendship is not a simple friendship, but a friendship of dilection, by which we make election of God, to love him with a special love. He is chosen, says the sacred spouse, out of thousands—she says out of thousands, but she means out of all, whence this love is not a love of simple excellence, but an incomparable love; for charity loves God by a certain esteem and preference of his goodness so high and elevated above all other esteems, that other loves either are not true loves in comparison of this, or if they be true loves, this love is infinitely more than love; and therefore, Theotimus, it is not a love which the force of nature either angelic or human can produce, but the Holy Ghost gives it and pours it abroad in our hearts. And as our souls which give life to our bodies, have not their origin from the body but are put in them by the natural providence of God, so charity which gives life to our hearts has not her origin from our hearts, but is poured into them as a heavenly liquor by the supernatural providence of his divine Majesty.

For this reason, and because it has reference to God and tends unto him not according to the natural knowledge we have of his goodness, but according to the supernatural knowledge of faith, we name it supernatural friendship. Whence it, together with faith and hope, makes its abode in the point and summit of the spirit, and, as a queen of majesty, is seated in the will as on her throne, whence she conveys into the soul her delights and sweetnesses, making her thereby all fair, agreeable and amiable to the divine goodness. So that if the soul be a kingdom of which the Holy Ghost is king, charity is the queen set at his right hand in gilded clothing surrounded with variety. if the soul be a queen, spouse to the great king of heaven, charity is her crown, which royally adorns her head; and if the soul with the body be a little world, charity is the sun which beautifies all, heats all, and vivifies all.

Charity, then, is a love of friendship, a friendship of dilection, a dilection of preference, but a preference incomparable, sovereign, and supernatural, which is as a sun in the whole soul to enlighten it with its rays, in all the spiritual faculties to perfect them, in all the powers to moderate them, but in the will as on its throne, there to reside and to make it cherish and love its God above all things. O how happy is the soul wherein this holy love is poured abroad, since all good things come together with her!"

-- Treatise on the Love of God by St Francis de Sales

Saturday, October 23, 2010

We must remain vigilant

"Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, tells us that just as sin came into the world through one man, so righteousness comes into the world through one man; that through one act of disobedience, all sinned, so through one act of obedience, all will become righteous. Now, it is not quite as simple as that. On the one hand, it is true that because Adam sinned, every single person born into the world - except Our Lady, conceived without sin - is conceived with Original Sin. It is not something that we have a choice in; it is something that is passed on. It is something that we receive as an inheritance from our first parents. And so it is truly the case that every single person is born into sin because of the disobedience of one.

Where the difference comes is that the obedience of Christ is enough to more than make up for all sin. But that one has to be a choice. In other words, we have no choice with regard to Original Sin, but we have to make a choice with regard to grace. Grace abounds and it is there to make up for all sin, and even more. But it is not simply automatic. It is not like Original Sin, where everybody who is born has it; rather, it is something that we have to make a choice about.

Therefore, the Lord tells us what that is going to look like for us. When we choose Christ, we have to make some adjustments in our lives. He tells us that we have to be like servants awaiting the master's return from a wedding. We do not know when the Master is going to arrive to call each one of us. We do not know when He is going to come back the second time. It seems pretty evident (if we look at it from our perspective now) that He probably did not come in the first or second watch. So we are probably into the third watch by now. It is getting late and the Lord is delayed in coming, if you will, therefore we have to make sure that we are vigilant on His arrival. We have to make sure that we do not say, "Well, since the Master is delayed in His return, then we can eat and drink and abuse the servants (and do all the other things that He talks about in another Gospel) because we do not know where He is. We do not know when He is coming." We were ready if He would have come at a certain time, but maybe the world is not so ready anymore. We need to be very careful that we maintain that vigilance, that we know we are simply waiting for the Master and we need to be prepared for when He comes.

Once we make the choice to say, "Yes, I want to be part of that righteousness of Christ. I want to accept and to receive the grace that He has won for me," it is not enough just to be able to say that once. Once we say that, then we need to live according to that grace. That means to maintain the virtue, to remain vigilant waiting for the Master to return. That is a daily situation - every moment of every day. For us who believe, for those who have made that choice, now we need to live the choice that we have made.

The grace is there and Saint Paul tells us that the grace is there so that we can reign with Him. If we are going to reign with Him, while we share in that reign even in this life, it is ultimately in the next. And the only way that is going to happen is if we remain vigilant. If the Master finds us doing our duty when He returns, if He finds us ready to open the door immediately when He comes and knocks, then we will be blessed. He tells us that He will put on an apron, seat us at table, and proceed to wait on us. That is, to seat us in the heavenly banquet and to take care of everything.

In the meantime, we are His servants. He has given us a job to do and we are expected to do it. If He seems to delay in coming, we still know exactly what our job is and we need to keep doing it. Then, when the Master arrives, if He finds that we have been doing our work, that we are on duty, that we continue to do the work and He finds us doing what we should when He arrives, blessed will those servants be."

-- From a homily by Fr Robert Altier, ocds (23 October 2001)

** Fr Robert Altier is one of the holiest priest I've ever met. He used to be associate pastor at St Agnes Catholic Church in St Paul, Minnesota. I remember many years ago, if you went to Confession to him, you could expect to wait in line an hour, sometimes more, in the middle of the week. His homilies, never prepared in advanced, were always a spiritual treat for hungry souls. Many, many people have benefited from his sound advice, charitable admonitions, and humility.

Friday, October 22, 2010

All the good that is in us comes from God

"Humility is charitable, interpreting all things for the best and pitying and excusing the faults of others as much as possible. For this reason St. Peter, wishing to exhort us to love and have compassion upon our fellow-creatures, also exhorts us at the same time to be humble: "Having compassion one of another, being lovers of the brotherhood-----humble," [1 Pet. iii, 8] for there can be no charity without humility, and therefore to censure and criticize too readily the actions of our neighbors and to judge and speak ill of them are vices which are directly opposed to the virtue of humility. Who has given me the power to judge my brethren? When I thus constitute myself their judge and in the tribunal of my thoughts condemn first one and then another, I am usurping an authority I do not possess and which belongs to God alone: "For God is Judge." [Ps. xlix, 6] And if this is not pride, what is pride? In punishment of such arrogance God often permits us to fall into the very faults that we have condemned in others, and it is well for us to remember the teaching of St. Paul: "Wherefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest. For wherein thou judgest another thou condemnest thyself." [Rom. ii, 1] There is always some pharisaical pride in the heart of him who judges and speaks evil of others, because in belittling others he exalts himself. It is in vain that we try hard cover our evil-speaking under ,the veil of some good motive; it must always be the result of pride which is quick to find out the weaknesses of others while remaining blind to its own.

If we are guilty of pride let us try and amend and not flatter ourselves that we possess the smallest degree of humility, until by our good resolutions carefully carried out we have mortified our evil tendency to speak ill of our neighbor. Let us hearken to the Holy Ghost: "Where pride is there also shall be reproach, but where humility is there also is wisdom." [Prov. xi, 2]

The proud man is scornful and arrogant in his speech; and the humble alone knows how to speak well and wisely. If there is humility in the heart it will be manifested in the speech, because "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good."  [Luke vi, 45] 

But in order to acquire humility, it is necessary also to be prudent in not speaking well of oneself. "Let another praise thee," says the inspired word, "and not thy own mouth, a stranger and not thy own lips." [Prov. xxvii, 11]

It is very easy for us to fall into this fault of praising ourselves "Until it becomes a habit, and with this habit so opposed to humility how can we be humble?

What good qualities have we of our own for which we can praise ourselves? All the good that is in us comes from God, and to Him alone we must give praise and honor. When, therefore, we praise ourselves we are usurping glory which is due to God alone. Even though in praising ourselves we sometimes refer all to the honor of God, it matters little; when there is no absolute necessity it is better to abstain from self-praise, for although we refer all to the glory of God with our lips, our ingenious and subtle self-love cannot fail to appropriate it secretly. And even speaking depreciatingly of ourselves there may lurk some hypocritical pride in our words, such as was mentioned by the sage of old when he said: "There is one that humbleth himself wickedly, and his interior is full of deceit." [Ecclus xix, 23]

Therefore we can never watch over ourselves enough, because there is nothing that teaches us so well to know the pride of our heart as our words, with which we either reveal or hide the depravity of our affections. And this is the characteristic of the proud, according to St. Bernard: "One who boastfully proclaims what he is, or lies about what he is not." [Epist. lxxxvii]

Let us bear in heart and mind this precious advice given by Tobias to his son: "Never suffer pride to reign in thy mind or in thy words." [Tob. iv, 14] The words of a proud man are nauseous, whether he speaks of himself or others, and they are hated both by God and man: therefore we should detest this vice, not only from the Christian but also from the human standpoint."

-- Humility of Heart by Fr Cajetan Mary da Bergamo

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Do not be discouraged - place your confidence in God

"As all our strength for conquering the enemy derives from distrust of self and confidence in God, I think I should give some additional advice, very necessary for obtaining these virtues.

In the first place, everyone must be convinced that neither all natural or acquired abilities, nor all supernatural gifts or perfect knowledge of the Scriptures, nor even whole ages spent in the service of his Creator, can enable him to do the will of God. He cannot perform his duty unless the Hand of the Almighty sustains him as often as any good action is to be done, temptation to be overcome, dangers to be avoided, or crosses to be borne according to the Will of God. This truth must be kept in mind every day, hour, and moment of his life. In this way he will lose all presumption and will never rashly trust in himself.

In order to acquire complete confidence in God, he must firmly believe that He as perfectly capable of conquering a great number of enemies as a few, the strong and experienced as the weak and inexperienced. Consequently, although a soul is overwhelmed by sins, although it has labored in vain to tear away from vice and follow virtue, although it should find its inclination to evil increasing daily instead of diminishing in favor of virtue, yet it must not fail to place its confidence in God; it must not be discouraged or abandon its spiritual works. On the contrary, it must arouse itself to new fervor and redouble its efforts against the enemy.

In this kind of battle, the victory will be won by him who has the courage not to throw down his arms or out aside his confidence in God. His assistance is always present for those who fight His battles, though He may sometimes permit them to be wounded. Persevere to the end. Victory depends on this. There is a swift and effective remedy for the wounds of anyone who fights for God's cause and who places his entire trust in Him. When he least expects it, he will see his enemy at his feet."

-- The Spiritual Combat by Lorenzo Scupoli

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Expect from Him alone succor and victory

"Although distrust of self is absolutely necessary as we have shown it to be in the spiritual combat, nevertheless, if this is all we have to rely on, we will soon be routed, plundered, and subdued by the enemy. Unless we would be put to flight, or remain helpless and vanquished in the hands of our enemies, we must add to it perfect trust in God, and expect from Him alone succor and victory. For as we, who are nothing, can look for nothing from ourselves but falls, and therefore should utterly distrust ourselves; so from our Lord may we assuredly expect complete victory in every conflict. To obtain His help, let us therefore arm ourselves with a lively confidence in Him. And this also may be accomplished in four ways.

First. To ask it with great humility.

Second. To contemplate with an ardent faith the immense power and infinite wisdom of the Supreme Being. To Him nothing is difficult; His goodness is unlimited; His love for those who serve Him is always ready to supply them with the necessities for their spiritual life, and for gaining a complete victory over themselves.

All that He demands is that they turn to Him with complete confidence. Can anything be more reasonable? The amiable Shepherd for thirty-three years or more sought after the lost sheep through thorn-roughened ways, with so much pain that it cost Him the last drop of His Sacred Blood. When this devoted Shepherd see His strayed sheep finally returning to Him with the desire of being guided in the future by Him alone, and with a sincere, though perhaps weak intention of obeying Him, is it possible that He would not look upon it with pity, listen to its cries, and bear it upon His shoulders to the fold? Doubtless he is greatly pleased to see it united again to the flock, and invites the Angels to rejoice with Him on the occasion.

For if He searches so diligently after the drachma in the Gospel, which is a figure of the sinner, if He leaves nothing untouched in order to find it, can He reject those who, like sheep longing to see their Shepherd, return to the fold?

Third. Another means of acquiring this salutary confidence is frequently to recall what we are assured of in the Holy Scriptures, the witnesses of truth, in a thousand different places----that no one who puts his trust in God will be defeated.

Fourth. The final means of acquiring both distrust of self and confidence in God is that before attempting to perform any good action, or to encounter some failing, we should look at our own weakness on the one hand, and on the other contemplate the infinite power, wisdom, and goodness of God. Balancing what we fear from ourselves with what we hope from God, we shall courageously undergo the greatest difficulties and severest trials. Joining these weapons to prayer, as we shall see later, we shall be able to execute the greatest plans and gain decisive victories.

But if we neglect this method, though we may flatter ourselves that we are actuated by a principle of confidence in God, we will usually be deceived. Presumption is so natural to man that, without notice, it insinuates itself into the confidence he imagines he has in God and the distrust he fancies he has of himself. Consequently, in order to destroy all presumption and to sanctify every action and the two virtues opposite to this vice, the consideration of one's own weakness must precede that of the Divine Power. Both of these must precede all undertakings."

-- The Spiritual Combat by Lorenzo Scupoli

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Memorial of St Peter of Alcántara

"Peter was born at Alcántara in Spain, to parents of good extraction.  The holiness of his life was foreshadowed from his earliest years.  In the sixteenth year of his age he entered the Order of Friars Minor, wherein he shewed himself a pattern to all.  He undertook the work of preaching in obedience to his Superiors, and thereby brought many to turn away from sin to true repentance.  He conceived a great desire to bring back the observance of the Rule of St. Francis to the uttermost straitness of old times, and to that end, supported by God's help, and armed with the approval of the Apostolic See, he founded a new stern and poor house near Pedroso, from which the harder way of life, therein happily begun, spread marvellously through divers Provinces of Spain even to the Indies.  He was an helper to holy Teresa, with whom he was like-minded, in bringing about the Reformation of the Carmelites.  She was taught of God that no one should ask anything in the name of Peter without being heard, and was used to ask him to pray for her, and to call him a Saint while as he was yet alive.

He humbly excused himself from accepting the courtesies of princes, by whom his advice was sought as that of an oracle, and declined to become the Confessor of the Emperor Charles V.  He was a very careful keeper to poverty, and contented himself with a single tunic than which none was worse.  Purity he carried to such a point that when he was lying sick of his last illness, he would not allow the brother who ministered to him to touch him, how lightly soever.  He brought his body into bondage by unceasing watching, fasting, scourging, cold, nakedness, and all manner of hardships, having made it a promise never to allow it any rest in this world.  The love of God and his neighbour, which was shed abroad in his heart, somewhiles burnt so that he was fain to run from his cell into the open air to cool himself.

It was marvellous how his thoughts became altogether rapt in God, so that somewhiles it befell that he neither ate nor drank for the space of several days.  He was oftentimes seen to rise into the air, shining with an unearthly glory.  He passed dry-shod over torrents.  When his brethren were in the last state of need, he fed them with food from heaven.  A staff which he fixed in the earth grew presently into a green fig-tree.  Once while he was travelling by night in the midst of an heavy snowstorm, and took refuge in a ruined and roofless house, then the falling snow made a roof over him lest he should be overwhelmed.  Holy Teresa beareth witness that he had the gift of prophecy and of the discerning of spirits.  At length, in the 63rd year of his own age, at the hour which he had himself foretold, he passed away to be for ever with the Lord, cheered in his last moments by a wonderful vision and by the presence of Saints.  At the instant of his death, blessed Teresa, then afar off, saw him carried to heaven.  He appeared to her afterwards, and said: O what happy penance, to have won for me such glory!  After his death he became famous for very many miracles, and Clement IX inscribed his name among those of the Saints."

-- From the 1911 Breviary of St Pius X (1955 ed)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Feast of St Luke the Evangelist

"Luke was a physician of Antioch, who, as appeareth from his writings, knew the Greek language.  He was a follower of the Apostle Paul, and his fellow-traveller in all his wanderings.  He wrote a Gospel, whereof the same Paul saith: We have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the Churches.  Of him, he writeth unto the Colossians, Luke, the beloved physician greeteth you.  And again, unto Timothy, Only Luke is with me.  He also published another excellent book intituled The Acts of the Apostles, wherein the history is brought down to Paul's two-years sojourn at Rome, that is to say, until the fourth year of Nero, from which we gather that it was at Rome that the said book was composed.

The silence of Luke is one of the reasons why we reckon among Apocryphal books The Acts of Paul and Thecla, and the whole story about the baptism of Leo.  For why should the fellow-traveller of the Apostle, who knew other things, be ignorant only of this?  At the same time there is against these documents the statement of Tertullian, almost a contemporary writer, that the Apostle John convicted a certain Priest in Asia, who was a great admirer of the Apostle Paul, of having written them, and that the said Priest owned that he had been induced to compose them through his admiration for Paul, and that he was deposed in consequence.  There are some persons who suspect that when Paul in his Epistles useth the phrase, According to my Gospel, he meaneth the Gospel written by Luke.

Howbeit, Luke learned his Gospel not from the Apostle Paul only, who had not companied with the Lord in the flesh, but also from other Apostles, as himself declareth at the beginning of his work, where he saith: They delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word.  According to what he had heard, therefore, did he write his Gospel.  As to the Acts of the Apostles, he composed them from his own personal knowledge.  He was never married.  He lived eighty-four years.  He is buried at Constantinople, whither his bones were brought from Achaia in the twentieth year of Constantine, together with the relicks of the Apostle Andrew."

-- Book on Ecclesiastical Writers by St Jerome

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Be a witness of the Great Love that God has for mankind

"From my own interview with Mother and the chapter nuns in the New York Carmel that Thanksgiving Day and from interviews with other girls which I subsequently attended as a nun, I must report that above all things Mother Teresa was interested in a girl's love for Our Lord.

She said one must have great love to take up her cross every day and follow in faith her Beloved Jesus. Only such love can make the life possible. Attraction for the religious life is not sufficient. Any girl who comes 'to seek peace' is to be carefully and seriously tested, as is one who 'loves solitude.'

Aptitude also was rated far below the supreme test of love and determination to strive for perfection. Aptitude, or general fitness for the life, is absolutely necessary, but aptitude without a personal love of Our Lord is not sufficient. As to aptitude for the vows, Mother Teresa said, 'No one could say she was unsuited to poverty; no normal person would have difficulty with the vow of chastity; and even those least disposed to submission can become obedient - people in the world must obey their superiors.' Nor should there be any difficulty for a normal girl in living a community life. It was, and still is after many years, Mother's opinion that the aptitudes needed for success in the world - the same qualities - are needed in the religious state. And she always added that a person who chooses marriage is not by any means barred from the life of Christian perfection, for there are many saints in the kitchens, factories, and offices of the world. Not all the contemplatives are found in the cloister; among the priests and nuns engaged in the active apostolate, there are contemplatives, and there are contemplatives in the world. Spared of the distractions of the world, we in the cloister should normally be able to spend more time in contemplation than others.

Mother Teresa summed up the interview in some such way as this:

'Cecilia, my child, we shall let you know soon what decision the nuns have come to about your interview. Meanwhile, do not forget to exercise yourself in all the virtues, especially love and faith. We in Carmel are supposed to be witnesses before men of the Great Love that God has for mankind. We are to think constantly of God and rejoice in Him and want to be near Him to love Him.

'Our cloistered life is one of all or nothing. If you desire to be a Carmelite, you should want to give yourself completely. You must have a strong longing for God alone.'"

-- My Beloved: the Story of a Carmelite Nun by Mother Catherine Thomas, ocd

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Adore, O my soul, adore in silence

"Loves in Jesus, then, with Him and in Him; adore, praise abandon yourself to the movement of His Sacred Heart, as Jesus abandons Himself. Repeat with Him: Father, my Father, holy Father, just Father, behold me; I am Thine, I give myself entirely to Thee; I desire naught but Thee, nothing else, but all of that...

And Thou, O Jesus, my God, fulfill Thy sublime, incomparable prayer, the prayer which Thou alone could have the divine audacity so to express:

'Father, this soul whom Thou hast given Me, whom Thou dost sanctify, at this instant, in the Truth that I am, I will that where I am, in Thy bosom, she may be with Me; and that thus she may see My glory, that glory which Thou didst give Me unceasingly when Thou dost engender Me.

'This glory I give to her as the Life eternal that I am in Thee, that she may share, together with all who are hers, in Our oneness; that the Love with which Thou hast loved Me, the Spirit uniting and consummating Us, may be in her; and that I Myself may be in her what I am in Thee, the object of Thy complacency.'

This is already far beyond my comprehension. But these thoughts immerse me in the Three, and I adore within me the living, true, eternal God.

Adore, O my soul, adore in silence. Leave yourself and all things. How good, were it only for a few moments, to have escaped each morning, from this world where one is forever dying, to drink one's fill of the life that never ends!

Adore and be still; and never will your silence be more fruitful. It re-echoes the silence of God the Father generating His Son, His Word, consubstantial with Himself, in the Love which binds them together, Father and Son; while simultaneously, it encompasses you in Their ineffable unity."

-- Pledge of Glory: Meditations on the Eucharist and the Trinity by Dom Eugene Vandeur 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Solemnity of holy mother St Teresa of Avila

"During the 16th Century, Spain was the ruler of the largest empire that the world had yet seen, and all but master of the world. During these years of outward glory, a child was born who would witness by her life that a person’s greatest good is within and won “by giving up everything”. This child became St. Teresa of Avila.

On March 28, 1515 Teresa de Ahumada was born into a wealthy family of Avila, Spain, where she received an excellent upbringing within her pious family. She was a beautiful and lively child, and the favorite of her father. A natural leader, Teresa one day persuaded an older brother to escape from home in order to seek martyrdom from the Moors. Fortunately they were met by an uncle who was riding on horseback into Avila. But the family’s remonstrances didn’t stop her or her enthusiasm for religion and she then got her brother to help her build hermitages from stones.

Eventually, Teresa did escape from home to enter a Carmelite Monastery. She did this with great anguish as she deeply loved her widowed father, yet she felt that she must enter as she felt that that was the best place for her in order to save her soul. Teresa had yet to learn that doing things for love is a higher motive. Yet God did bless her good intention by giving her much joy in her new life. However after some time she felt that she wasn’t serving God enough; she felt He was asking more of her. The Community she entered was very numerous, with much going on. She wanted a poorer, simpler life, where more time would be available for prayer and recollection, where she and a few others would live together with warm charity. She thought that since Our Lord has so few friends she wanted to console him by living her vows truly and with great love; then by thus pleasing Him to ask of Him those graces that would make the leaders of the Church holy. She believed that theologians and priests of the Church are in the forefront of the battle of the Church in the world, and they need many graces in order to defend the Church and lead the people to holiness of life.

Without realizing it, Teresa was being inspired to renew the Carmelite Order, both for the Nuns, and then for the Friars. God gave her an abundance of mystical graces whereby He blessed this work He inspired in her. This reform eventually came to be called the Discalced Carmelite Order.

St. Teresa was asked by her confessors and spiritual directors to write her about her life and her spiritual experiences. She obeyed, and displayed a rare talent for writing - profound, human, warm and witty. She thus bequeathed to the Church a number of great books: the book of her Life, the Foundations, The Way of Perfection, and the Interior Castle. So deeply did she grasp the ways of God and prayer that she has been called Mater Spiritualium (Mother of Spirituality). Teresa was canonized on March 12th, 1622. On September 27th, 1970, Pope Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church."

-- From the Carmel of St Joseph in Ontario

Sancta Mater Teresia, ora pro nobis!
Mater Spiritualium, ora pro nobis!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jesus is drawing you into sharing His affections as Son for the Father

"Commune, my soul, through Jesus Hostia, with the infinite complacency of this Father in the Son whom He contemplates, in His Word, His Thought, all His Glory; in whom He admires His own image and the splendor of His adorable perfections, the spotless mirror of His being, issue of His love.

You are, at this moment, the heaven of infinite delight for the Father and the Son. As at the Jordan, as on Thabor, nay, more appropriately than there, since you live in Jesus, the Father repeats over His Son: This day I have begotten thee. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Beyond doubt, He repeats these words over you whom Jesus causes to participate in this paternal affection.

To this limitless love of the Father for His Son, the Son makes a similar return of love, eternal and infinite like unto His Father's. O, what a love is this! What an embrace, what a caress and kiss! This mutual love of each for the other is the Holy Spirit Himself. What a consummation, then, in the unity of this Spirit!

At this moment, Jesus is drawing you into sharing His affections as Son for the Father. He communicates them to you; He causes you to love God as He Himself loves Him. His heart becomes your heart, aspiring to this caress, this embrace.

Christian soul, do you not feel the fire of love devouring the heart of the Son of God, enveloping you with its own flames?"

-- Pledge of Glory: Meditations on the Eucharist and the Trinity by Dom Eugene Vandeur

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The grace of the moment is a very beautiful thing

"The grace of the moment is a very beautiful thing. It comes with each duty, or pleasure, or fresh effort of any kind, and it is exactly proportionate to the purpose for which it is given. We shall often find, for instance, that, at the end of a long piece of work, we suddenly begin to go very much faster and with an ease which is quite new. We could not imagine ourselves beginning any set project at that pace, it would seem fantastic for the start, and still less could we maintain it through all the weary middle. This is quite simply the grace of the end, that unconscious crescendo which carries us to a successful conclusion and is a matter of both supernatural and psychological tension, of pleasure at the achievement of a satisfactory effort - a last spurt so to speak.

So it is for most things in life, and one would love to thing that one might have the grace to die to a Crescendo Fortissimo, as befits one going to meet Eternal Love, and not a Rellentando, as is sometimes the fate, one fears, of those who have habitually wasted their grace during life. It is worth thinking of, perhaps.

We get grace for each fresh thing, fresh turn of events, trial, duty, pleasure, effort; but instead of acting upon it at once, how often we try, by our plans and our home-made rules, and unconscious self-will, to construct, as it were, a reservoir, with pipes all over the place, to hold it. It is never of any avail for, as a matter of fact, we can neither store our actual grace nor postpone it; it is given us now, for the thing we have to do to-day, at this very hour. All we can do, if we do not use it, is to lose it. It is not applicable to anything else, for that other thing, when it comes, will require its own special grace, which again will vary with a precise and delicate variability straight from God. We must quite simply use our grace: that is the only thing to do if we want to live continually at full pitch spiritually. To take the grace of the moment for the moment's work, and - as far as possible, even in the perfectly ordinary Christian life - let the work be primarily the work of God. We have to live, of course, and most of us have to work for our living; but God knows that a great deal better than we do, and He is not likely to make the achievement of the one clash with the achievement of the other.

There is, however, one dishonesty into which it is never permissible to fall under any circumstances: and that is to use God's grace for our own ends. That is a theft which is unworthy of us and which, in the long run, will surely never bring with it anything but pain."

-- Catch Us Those Little Foxes by A Carmelite Nun

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jesus offers us opportunities to help him

"In the crosses of life that come to us, Jesus offers us opportunities to help him redeem the world. Let us profit by his generosity."

-- Ven Solanus Casey, OFM Cap

Monday, October 11, 2010

Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"His Mother was chosen a Virgin of the kingly lineage of David, and when she was to grow heavy with the sacred Child, her soul had already conceived him before her body.  She learned the counsel of God announced to her by the Angel, lest the unwonted events should alarm her.  The future Mother of God knew what was to be wrought in her by the Holy Ghost, and that her modesty was absolutely safe.  For why should she, unto whom was promised all sufficient strength through the power of the Highest, have felt hopeless merely because of the unexampled character of such a conception?  She believeth, and her belief is confirmed by the attestation of a miracle which hath already been wrought.  The fruitfulness of Elizabeth, before unhoped for, is brought forward that she might not doubt that he who had given conception unto her that was barren, would give the same unto her that was Virgin.  And so the Word of God, the Son of God, who was in the beginning with God, by whom all things were made, and without whom was not anything made that was made, to deliver man from eternal death, was made man.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, descending from his throne in heaven, but leaving not that glory which he hath with the Father, cometh into this lower world by being born after a new order and in a new birth.  He cometh after a new order, in that he who is unseen among his own, was seen among us; the Incomprehensible was fain to be comprehended, and he that is from everlasting to everlasting began to be in time.  He was the Offspring of a new birth; conceived of a maiden, without the passion of any fleshly father, without any breach of his Mother's virginity, since such a birth beseemed the coming Saviour of mankind, who was to have in him the nature of man's being, and to be free of any defilement of man's flesh.  Though he sprung not as we spring, yet is his nature as our nature; we believe that he is free from the use and custom of men; but it was the power of God which wrought that a maiden should conceive, that a maiden should bring forth, and yet abide a maiden still."

-- From a sermon by St Leo the Great

** This feast is observed by all following the 1962 traditional liturgical calendar

Sunday, October 10, 2010

St John of the Cross and contemplative prayer

"St. John’s teaching on the transition from ordinary prayer to contemplation can be distilled into the following points:

By ordinary prayer St. John meant any kind of prayer that we can do by our own efforts aided by God’s grace. He called this meditation. In it we make use of our natural faculties, that is, our senses, imagination, intellect, memory and will in order to pray.

But since this is not how we understand meditation today, it is important to see the difference. Meditation today brings to mind a particular formula for praying in which we imagine a scene from the Gospel, for example, and draw conclusions about what it means for our lives, and this process stirs our hearts to praise, thank and love God, and to amend our lives. The realm of ordinary prayer, that is, prayer that we can do ourselves, is now divided between this kind of meditation and other more simplified and affective prayers that go under the names of the prayer of simplicity, or the prayer of the practice of the presence of God, and so forth. These kinds of prayers make much less use of the discursive activity of the intellect and much more of the will in acts of love. But for John of the Cross, who lived at a time before these distinctions fully emerged, meditation embraces all these kinds of ordinary prayer.

John also gives a precise meaning to the word contemplation. It is a kind of prayer that we cannot do whenever we want, for it does not depend on the natural working of the faculties. It is a prayer given by God in the depths of the heart so it is called infused contemplation, or mystical experience. The goal of the Christian life is union with God, and contemplation is a mysterious experience of that union.

St. John also gives us a schema of the evolution of the life of prayer. The beginning of our serious interest in the life of prayer, or conversion to God, is often marked by a period of sensible consolation. God feels present to us. We feel a warm glow in our spiritual exercises, a glow that pervades our feelings and thoughts, indeed, all our natural faculties, and serves the good purpose of drawing us from the things of the world to the things of God. But eventually this sense of God’s presence falls away. This can happen gradually or suddenly, and we are left in darkness. It can feel like God has abandoned us, and in our anxiety we wonder if we have committed some sin to bring about what appears to be a terrible state of affairs. And most of all, we want things to be back the way they were. This could be called the dark night of the senses in the wider meaning of the term, and is a common experience in those devoted to the life of prayer.

But this is not precisely what St. John is interested in. It is true, he says, that this dark night might be due to our lukewarmness or sins, or even to some kind of psychological problem which, in the language of his day, he called melancholy. But most of St. John’s energy goes into analyzing another possibility. This dark night might be a very distinctive kind of dark night that is meant to lead us from ordinary prayer or meditation to infused contemplation. His famous three signs were meant to guide us so we could discover whether we were actually called to this kind of contemplation or not.

The first sign is that we cannot pray like we did before. The second – in order to rule out a disinclination coming from our own bad conduct – is that we have no desire to fix our attention on other things. The third sign is meant to rule out melancholy, or a disinterest in things coming from some kind of psychological cause. But it goes beyond all that and is, by far, the most important sign. We are beginning to experience an interior quiet and rest that we are inclined to give ourselves to even while we may still be thinking that we should be going back to our old way of praying with our faculties, and that to give into this new inclination is to give into idleness. This inner quiet is the beginning of contemplation, itself. It is a loving knowledge that comes, not through the faculties of sense, imagination, intellect, memory or will, but wells up from the depths of the heart and draws us into those depths, to rest there and receive what God is giving us.

John was so concerned that someone might miss this call to contemplation that he described it in exquisite detail. He explains, for example, how this new experience could be so gentle and subtle, and we are so used to pounding away with the faculties, that it might be imperceptible at first – insensible, he says – to our ordinary consciousness. We would have to quiet ourselves and be lovingly attentive to this new experience in order to taste it. "

-- From St John of the Cross to us by James Arraj

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Silence of Action

"To pause in order to better understand the meaning of our actions; to avoid being submerged and
distracted by an abundance of things to do; to discern our motivations hidden in our activities and to
know how to choose what is essential. For the danger is always there to let ourselves be carried away
by our precipitation and neglect love. The frenzy of the present moment hides us from a profound and
free awareness of the meaning of life, by making us « surf » on the wave of our being. The silence of
action allows us to discern where God wants us now for the good of our surroundings and of society.

For the monk, the silence of action is also an awareness of ones actions, it is living the present moment
which contributes to ones inner calm and to the silence of the monastery by making as little noise as

-- Twelve degrees of silence by Sr Marie-Aimée de Jésus, ocd

** Sr Marie-Aimée (1839-1874) was a discalced carmelite in Paris who died in the odour of sanctity. She entered the Carmel on Avenue de Saxe (Paris) on 27 August 1859. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Sr Marie-Aimée supported her sisters by her quiet confidence and unalterable inner prayer. Despite poor health, in her later years of life she took care of the novices. She died of pleurisy on 4 May 1874. Sr Marie-Aimée's community was exiled in Beligium in 1901 due to the Law of Associations (passed in July 1901) which was aimed at controlling and persecuting religious orders in France. The Church was greatly persecuted between the years 1901-1907. In 1920 the community refounded in Créteil near Paris. At present, the only discalced carmelite monastery in Paris is in Montmartre, behind the great Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Martyr of Filial Respect

"The days were gone when Mme Bisiaux [Yvonne/Sr Angélique's mother] used to train her child tenderly to piety. Her daughter's vocation seemed to have 'eradicated from her heart its last religious fibers.'

Yvonne was forbidden access to the parish church during the week and her mother tirelessly took up to watch in the town grocery store in order to have an eye on the church door. Yvonne received Holy Communion only at the price of heroic effort. When it was possible for her to do without her breakfast in spite of her mother's surveillance, she informed the good and devout parish priest who in spite of his great age rejoined her at the chapel of the Sisters of Nevers, sometimes around eleven o'clock or noon. Canon Parinet, later recalling his memories of Yvonne Bisiaux, said he was deeply edified by her greatness of soul, her perfect limpidity, and her ardent love for Our Lord. But these occasions were rare and Yvonne, famished for her God, needed to be comforted by an exceptional grace of prayer to face the daily difficulties of her life.

From Mme Filhoulaud, to whom we owe the greater part of the Souvenirs of Yvonne's sojourn at Bourganeuf, we learn of violent scenes supported 'with angelic sweetness and submission' by her who rightfully has been called 'the Martyr of Filial Respect.' No title could better characterize Yvonne's attitude and merit at home, for a Bourganeuf as at Paris, those who were with her attest that she never complained no matter what were the incoherences, the constraints and the harshness of which she was the victim. For example, when asked one day to play the piano, she began a religious melody, and 'her mother interrupted her rudely with abusive words.' Yvonne stopped without saying a word and played something else.

Her sweetness seemed even excessive to certain people who did not fathom its supernatural origin. Others were always disconcerted by the delicate and warm tenderness with which, to the very end, she enveloped this mother who appeared so unsympathetic. 'Treated with the greatest brutality,' attests Mme M, 'Yvonne ever docile, amiable and smiling, used to call her mother 'Little mama with a heart of gold!' However, she couldn't help but see and feel.'

With a respectful silence, she concealed the maternal wrongs and her own suffering: proof of her filial considerateness and strength of soul. But it is time now to raise the veil from this family trial. 'In a period when the sense of the hierarchical family no longer exists, God raised up Yvonne as a model and placed her in the most difficult circumstances to remind Christians who are tempted to forget it, that parents, no matter what their natural worth, are to their very last days God's representatives to their children.' (Extract from the account drawn up by Father Jacques de Jésus, ocd on Sr Marie-Angélique.)


And in a letter to Mother Thérèse of Jesus, July 11, 1912: 'As for mama, I put my whole heart into accomplishing the IVth commandment.' In fact, Mme F confirms that Yvonne gave 'an example of such admirable filial love that only divine grace and the love of God could raise it to this height.' One friend, indignant at the mother's behavior on certain occasions, exclaimed one day: 'That's the limit, do something!' A protest at once gentle and firm stopped her: 'But she's my mama!'

After all, it's not a question of putting this poor Mme Bisiaux on trial, for she had her good hours even though these were tributary to her temperament. It must be emphasized that in her daughter's life she played her role as an unconscious instrument of a truly beautiful work: the sanctification of a  privileged soul. In this light, the unreasonable demands and event he maternal caprices assume values as means. 

Yvonne's rare merit consisted in always profiting supernaturally from this rude treatment, regarding her mother by the light of faith illumined by love."

-- Flame of Joy: Mother Marie-Angélique of Jesus, ocd

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Feast of the Holy Rosary

"Such is Mary’s Rosary, a new and fruitful vine, which began to blossom at Gabriel’s salutation, and whose fragrant garlands form a link between earth and heaven."    Abbot Guéranger

"It is customary with men of the world to balance their accounts at the end of the year and determine their profits. The Church is now preparing to do this as she comes to the Feast of Christ the King, and that of All Saints and All Souls and the end of the Liturgical Year.

But today’s feast is a reckoning even more solemn, the profits even bigger: the Church opens her balance-sheet with the gain accruing to Our Lady from the mysteries, which compose the entire liturgical cycle.

Christmas, the cross, the triumph of Jesus, these produce the holiness of us all; but before and above all, the holiness of Mary. The crown, which the Church thus offers today to the Queen of heaven and earth, is made up of the triple crown of those sanctifying mysteries; joyful, sorrowful and glorious. These were the cause of her joy, the cause of her sorrow and of her glory.

The Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries and the glorious Mysteries in the life of Jesus her Divine Son. They are an integral part of her life as well. Such is Mary’s Rosary; a new and fruitful vine, which began to blossom at Gabriel’s salutation, and whose fragrant garlands form a link between earth and heaven.

In its present form, St. Dominic made the rosary known to the world at the time of the struggles with the Albigensians, that social war of such ill-omen for the Church. The rosary was then of more help than armed forces against the power of Satan; it is now the Church’s last resource.

It would seem that, the ancient forms of social prayer being no longer loved by the people, the Holy Spirit has willed by this easy and ready summary of the liturgy to maintain, in the isolated devotion of these unhappy times, the essential of that life of prayer, faith, and Christian virtue, which the public celebration of the Divine Office formerly kept up among the nations.

This simple weapon given by the Mother of God and conceived by the eternal Wisdom of God is far-reaching in its effects. It leads wandering man to the Queen of Mercy, it destroys ignorance of the fundamentals of the Faith, ignorance which is the food of heresy, and it teaches him to find once more ‘the paths consecrated by the Blood of the Man-God, and by the tears of His Mother.’ (Pope Leo XIII, Sept. 8, 1892 Encyc. On the Rosary)

Pope Leo XIII and every Pontiff of modern times has pointed out, over and over again, that the Holy Rosary is the means of salvation more than once experienced by our fathers. In fact, Pope Leo consecrated the entire month of October to the Holy Rosary, this devotion that is so dear to heaven. Pope Leo honored Our Lady in her litanies with a new title, Queen of the most holy rosary; and raised this day to the honor of a second class feast with a proper Office. This feast is also a memorial of glorious victories, which do honor to Our Lady of the Rosary.

Heaven itself corroborated these honors given to Our Lady. Only a short time after this, Our Lady of Fatima appeared in 1917, and in October of that year, the very month dedicated to the Holy Rosary, She announced to the world: "I am the Lady of the Rosary."

Let us list here a small fraction of the victories directly obtained from God through the Holy Rosary.
  • The Battle of Lepanto which saved Rome and Vienna, and thus the Pope and the Emperor, from Moslem subjugation
  • The deliverance of Vienna by Sobieski
  • The victory given to Prince Eugene of Peterwardein
  • The raising of the siege of Corfu
  • The taking of Belgrade
  • The deliverance of Brazil from Communism in this century
  • The withdrawal from Soviet Troops from Austria on Oct. 26, 1955
On this Feast of the Holy Rosary, the joys experienced on the other feasts of the Mother of God, are all gathered up and resumed in this one, for us, for the angels, and for Our Lady herself. Like the angles then, let us offer, together with Mary, the homage of our just delight to the Son of God, her Son, her King and ours.

The mysteries of Jesus and Mary are our instruction and our hope. The Church prays today that they may also be our rule of life and our pledge of eternal salvation. That is the power of the Holy Rosary.

Our Lady’s mysteries are before all time in God’s sight, like those of Her Divine Son; like these they will endure for all eternity; like them they rule the ages, which circle round the Word and Mary, preparing for both in the Old Testament and perpetuating their presence by the ceaseless praise of the most holy Trinity, in whose name all Christians are baptized.

The Rosary honors all these mysteries. Today’s feast is a glance back upon the cycle of Redemption as it draws to a close. From these mysteries and today’s view of them all, we learn from Our Lady herself in this passage from Proverbs, which the Church applies to Mary: "Now therefore, my children, consider my ways; imitate me, that you may find happiness." ‘Blessed is he that watches at her gates.’

Let us pray to Mary, rosary in hand, thinking of her at the same time, meditating on her life and her greatness, and watching, for even just 15 minutes each day, at the entrance to the palace of this incomparable Queen. The more faithful we are to the Rosary, the more assured will be our salvation and our progress in true life.

Let us congratulate the Queen of the Holy Rosary on her perfect life, all truth, and justice, and meekness, which won her the love of the supreme King. Let us proclaim the nobility of her race, unequalled in the whole world. All grace, all light, all life, are to be found in our Lady; by her holy rosary she has multiplied flowers and fruits in the garden of the Church. Every offering acceptable to God comes from Mary, with and by Jesus.

The Rosary, piously meditated, prepares us for the Sacrifice of the altar, that august memorial of the mysteries which it imprints in the heart and mind of the Christian. Why not then, pray the holy rosary in the car as one drives to holy Mass. Pray it in thanksgiving on the way home."

-- The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger, osb