Friday, April 30, 2010

Ven Magdalen of St Joseph

"Magdalen was born in Paris on May 17, 1578, into a family from Tours. She was the sixth of fifteen children, and grew up in Paris and in Tours; here, in 1603, she met Peter de Berulle, who was about to introduce the Teresian Carmel into France. Won over by the ideal proposed by the future cardinal, she decided to join the Discalced Carmelites; and in July, 1604, in Paris, she joined the group which, under the guidance of Barbara Acarie (the future Bl. Mary of the Incarnation), was being prepared to embrace the reform of Teresa.

On Oct. 17, 1604, after the first Discalced Carmelite nuns had arrived from Spain, Magdalen and her companions entered the monastery of the Incarnation, built for them in Paris; on Nov. 12, 1605, she became the first professed nun of the group. On the following day, Bl. Anne of St. Bartholomew, the companion and confidant of St. Teresa, named the young nun mistress of novices, an office that she held for two and a half years. Thus she shaped the first generation of French Discalced Carmelite nuns who were afterward to diffuse the Teresian flame throughout the nation and were always upheld by the prayer, the counsels and the prudence of Magdalen.

On April 20, 1608, Magdalen was elected prioress, and immediately showed her spiritual and apostolic maturity in the guidance of her religious and in the spread of the Teresian ideal. Reelected in 1611, she ruled the monastery until March of 1615. Then, in July of this year, she was sent to Tours to help the prioress of the monastery there which had been established by Magdalen's father; the local prioress was, in fact, little prepared for the direction of the monastery. Then after a brief stop in Paris (March-July, 1616), onJuly 8, 1616, she founded the monastery of Lyons, and on Sept.

7, 1617, another in Paris dedicated to the «Mother of God». To this foundation she brought Catherine of Jesus (d. 1623), the celebrated mystic of whom Magdalen was the confidant, the guide and, after her death, on the insistence of the queen, Marie de'Medici, her biographer. In 1624 she was called back to the monastery of the Incarnation in Paris and was reelected prioress, in which office she remained until 1635. She died in Paris, in the first monastery of the Incarnation, on April 30, 1637.

Her process was begun in 1645; in 1650 the cause was introduced at Rome. When the decree of heroicity of her virtues seemed imminent, various contingent historical circumstances, extrinsic to the cause itself, halted it. This until July 16, 1789, when Pius VI promulgated the decree that recognized such heroicity. Then the French revolution completely halted the cause, which seemed to be progressing again with success, as a result, too, of the graces that were attributed to the intercession of the venerable.

Magdalen is one of the figures of greater distinction in the vast and glorious band of «spirituals» of the «grand century» of France. Very highly esteemed by St. Francis de Sales and by St. Jane Frances Fremiot de Chantal, she was particularly dear to Card. de Berulle, whom she upheld and encouraged in the foundation of the Oratory and whom she followed in the spirituality centered on the Incarnate Word and His mysteries. At her request, and following the summary notes that she had outlined, G. Gibieuf composed La vie et les grandeurs de la tres saincte Vierge (Paris, 1637), which in many passages reflects the thought and the teaching of Magdalen. Pope Urban VIII, Marie de'Medici, Louise de Marillac, Richelieu had called on her with esteem and with confidence in her prayers and asked her for counsel even on political matters. St. Vincent de Paul was also in contact with her, and at the process of beatification gave his written testimony about her virtues.

Humble, simple, smiling, she enjoyed divine communications from a tender age. God poured out His grace in her, above all through the sacred humanity of Christ. She participated in the mysteries of Christ's life in a special, mystical way. These graces nourished her faith and her charity to an eminent degree and increased her fervor for the Eucharist, her devotion to the Church, and her zeal for the salvation of souls. In the midst of her mystical graces and in contact with so many souls who had recourse to her for counsel about the secret ways of God, she followed the absolute norm of relying in everything upon the Church and its decisions. She was convinced that, even if someone came face to face with true charisms, «that which comes from the Church's part and which is based upon its authority is incomparably better».

A Teresian soul, formed by distinguished nuns who had been in contact with the Saint of Avila, she sought to form herself and her daughters according to the spirit of prayer typical of the Carmelite reform. Hence it can be said that by her counsels and her influence she shaped all of the forty-seven Carmels erected in France during the period between her first priorate and her death. Her still unedited letters show this."

-- From a biography by Valentine Macca, ocd

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Memorial of St Catherine of Siena

"My sweet Lord, look with mercy upon your people and especially upon the mystical body of your Church. Greater glory is given to your name for pardoning a multitude of your creatures than if I alone were pardoned for my great sins against your majesty. It would be no consolation for me to enjoy your life if your holy people stood in death. For I see that sin darkens the life of your bride the Church - my sin and the sins of others.

It is a special grace I ask for, this pardon for the creatures you have made in your image and likeness. When you created man, you were moved by love to make him in your own image. Surely only love could so dignify your creatures. But I know very well that man lost the dignity you gave him; he deserved to lose it, since he had committed sin.

Moved by love and wishing to reconcile the human race to yourself, you gave us your only-begotten Son. He became our mediator and our justice by taking on all our injustice and sin out of obedience to your will, eternal Father, just as you willed that he take on our human nature. What an immeasurably profound love! Your Son went down from the heights of his divinity to the depths of our humanity. Can anyone’s heart remain closed and hardened after this?

We image your divinity, but you image our humanity in that union of the two which you have worked in a man. You have veiled the Godhead in a cloud, in the clay of our humanity. Only your love could so dignify the flesh of Adam. And so by reason of this immeasurable love I beg, with all the strength of my soul, that you freely extend your mercy to all your lowly creatures."

-- Dialogues (4,13) by St Catherine of Siena

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Coming soon: Flame of Joy

Many months ago, I made a post from the book Flame of Joy: Souvenirs, Autobiography, Letters of Marie-Angélique of Jesus of the Carmel of Pontoise. I had the book in my hand just one day and, thus, was not able to provide interested readers with more selections. But, praise God, today, feast of the great Marian St Louis Marie de Montfort, I've been able to secure 1 copy of this book. The price was obscene for anyone trying to imitate Christ's poverty, but it's spiritual value, "like-new" condition, and the rarity of this book took some of the guilt when placing the purchase. I expect to receive it in about 3 weeks and hope to make posts soon thereafter. If you read French, I found copies starting at $25 plus postage from Europe. 

Yvonne Bisiaux (1893-1919) was a famous pianist who entered the Carmel of Pontoise. Founded in 1605 by Bl Anne of St Bartholomew (holy mother's secretary, nurse and companion) and Bl Marie of the Incarnation (Madame Acarie), Pontoise was the second Carmel founded in France. Most of the buildings date from 1607-1610. Yvonne - Sr Marie-Angélique of Jesus - entered Carmel at the age of 21 and died 5 years later, leaving a testimony of radiant joy. Another famous pianist entered Carmel at 21 and died 5 years later: Bl Elizabeth of the Trinity (Elisabeth Catez 1900-1926) of the Carmel of Dijon.

A blessed day to all of you.

Please pray for me.

Memorial of St Louis Marie de Montfort

"Jesus is gentle in his actions and in the whole conduct of his life. "He did everything well" (Mt. 7:37), which means that everything he did was done with such uprightness, wisdom, holiness and gentleness that nothing faulty or distorted could be found in him. Let us consider what gentleness our loving Saviour always manifested in his conduct.

Poor people and little children followed him everywhere seeing him as one of their own. The simplicity, the kindliness, the humble courtesy and the charity they witnessed in our dear Saviour made them press close about him. One day when he was preaching in the streets the children who were usually about him, pressed upon him from behind. The apostles who were nearest to our Lord pushed them back. On seeing this Jesus rebuked his apostles and said to them, "Do not keep the children away from me" (Mt. 19:14). When they gathered about him he embraced and blessed them with gentleness and kindness.

The poor, on seeing him poorly dressed and simple in his ways, without ostentation or haughtiness, felt at ease with him. They defended him against the rich and the proud when these calumniated and persecuted him, and he in his turn praised and blessed them on every occasion.

But how describe the gentleness of Jesus in his dealings with poor sinners: his gentleness with Mary Magdalene, his courteous solicitude in turning the Samaritan woman from her evil ways, his compassion in pardoning the adulterous woman taken in adultery, his charity in sitting down to eat with public sinners in order to win them over? Did not his enemies seize upon his great kindness as a pretext to persecute him, saying that his gentleness only encouraged others to transgress the law of Moses, and tauntingly called him the friend of sinners and publicans? With what kindness and concern did he not try to win over the heart of Judas who had decided to betray him, even when Jesus was washing his feet and calling him his friend! With what charity he asked God his Father to pardon his executioners, pleading their ignorance as an excuse.

How beautiful, meek and charitable is Jesus, the incarnate Wisdom! Beautiful from all eternity, he is the splendour of his Father, the unspotted mirror and image of his goodness. He is more beautiful than the sun and brighter than light itself. He is beautiful in time, being formed by the Holy Spirit pure and faultless, fair and immaculate, and during his life he charmed the eyes and hearts of men and is now the glory of the angels. How loving and gentle he is with men, and especially with poor sinners whom he came upon earth to seek out in a visible manner, and whom he still seeks in an invisible manner every day."

-- The Love of Eternal Wisdom by St Louis Marie de Montfort

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Love for the sake of love

"The kernel of Thérèse’s teaching is often called “the little way,” meaning that no Christian is too humble or too insignificant to follow it. No matter what spiritual darkness you find yourself in, choose as your North Star a tender love for the persons that life’s contingencies have put next to you. Do not go looking around for more fascinating neighbors to love. Love those who are nearest. You cannot see God, even if you try. But you can see your neighbor, the tedious one, who grinds on you: Love him, love her. As Jesus loves them. Give them the tender smile of Jesus, even though your own feelings be like the bottom of a bird cage. Do not ask to see Jesus, or to feel him: That is for children. Love him in the dark. Love for the invisible divine, not for the warm and comforting human consolation. Love for the sake of love, not in order to feel loved in return."

-- Way of Darkness: The Suffering of Mother Teresa by Michael Novak
Published in National Review, September 24, 2007

Monday, April 26, 2010

The spirit of Carmel

"In spite of the mystery of its beginnings, on this point no hesitation is possible. This spirit consists essentially in a longing for union with God.

It will be objected that all spiritual men know this longing. This is true. Nevertheless at Carmel this aspiration has a quality of immediacy, an insistence on prompt realization that distinguishes the Order's religious attitude. Carmel makes contemplation its proper end and to attain this end it practices absolute detachment in relation to all demands, or at least to all temporal contingencies. Eminently theocentric, Carmel refers itself wholly to the living God: "As the Lord liveth the God of Israel, in whose sight I stand" (3 Kgs. 17: 1).

From the earliest ages union with God has been its "raison d'etre" and its soul. No doubt it was "the anticipated dawn of the Savior's redemptive grace" that made this possible. No doubt, too, that it has benefited by the progress and development of revelation down the centuries. Nevertheless at Carmel from the beginning, union with God has been and continues to be central."

Characterized by an awareness of the presence within man's heart of the very being of God, the spirit of Carmel also includes a sense of the sacred and a thirst for things divine. Progress in the experience of God only serves to deepen and develop this basic and truly essential element. Without it neither the wise nor the simple could enter into and intensify their relations with God,

No matter how individual is this spirit and with what difficulty it is analyzed, this spirit is to be identified with the most authentic mysticism. At Carmel nothing imitative or esoteric is to be found and Carmelite tradition is singularly sober as to the content of spiritual experiences though their presence is frequently attested. Always objective, it merely affirms the possibility and the reality of direct contact with God and points out the necessity, if this is to be attained, of recourse to a particular kind of life--the eremitic life. It assigns no date to its first manifestations but instead states forcefully that, granted certain conditions, it is possible for man truly to live the divine life. For this it suffices for him to realize in himself the climate of the original desert, and after withdrawing into this interior solitude, "to hold himself in the presence of the living God". Than the light of truth will come to purify, enlighten and enkindle his soul.

Foundations are thus laid for a personal experience of God and the intimate relations that a creature may have with Him. Going back through the ages Carmel will never hesitate to recognize itself in the first hermit whom the Bible describes for us and to model its life on that of men vowed to the contemplation of divine things in silence and solitude."

-- Carmelite Spirituality  by Paul Marie de la Croix, ocd

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Feast of St Mark Evangelist

"The second Gospel was written by St. Mark, who, in the New Testament, is sometimes called John Mark. Both he and his mother, Mary, were highly esteemed in the early Church, and his mother's house in Jerusalem served as a meeting place for Christians there.

St. Mark was associated with St. Paul and St. Barnabas (who was Mark's cousin) on their missionary journey through the island of Cyprus. Later he accompanied St. Barnabas alone. We know also that he was in Rome with St. Peter and St. Paul. Tradition ascribes to him the founding of the Church in Alexandria.

St. Mark wrote the second Gospel, probably in Rome sometime before the year 60 A.D.; he wrote it in Greek for the Gentile converts to Christianity. Tradition tells us that St. Mark was requested by the Romans to set down the teachings of St. Peter. This seems to be confirmed by the position which St. Peter has in this Gospel. In this way the second Gospel is a record of the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of the Prince of the Apostles. His feast day is April 25. He is the patron saint of notaries."

** Mural of St Mark from the Doppelkirche ("Double Church") in Schwarzrheindorf, Bonn

Saturday, April 24, 2010

We need to be working with God

"The working man and woman need help finding a deeper meaning for their labors. We need to be working with God, and John of the Cross shows us how to do this, daily. He does not pamper us, does nothing to feed the fires of envy or resentment; instead, he shows us how all the ups and downs of ordinary living are purifications of an all-too-human faith, that must be transformed into pure, naked searching for the God who is our Ransom and our Reward. We need to learn not to envy the rich, nor to be beholden to the powers of this world, but to take charge of our own feelings so as to turn them towards the imitation of Christ. He is our only Lord; all the rest of us are brothers and sisters, in the same human condition."

-- John of the Cross for carpenters: The ordinary way of the dark night of faith by Denis Read, ocd

Friday, April 23, 2010

Memorial of Bl Teresa Maria of the Cross

"She was born at Campi Bisenzio, Florence, where in 1874 she founded the Congregation of Carmelite Sisters of Saint Teresa, whom she also sent to Lebanon and the Holy Land. She lived joyfully, body and soul, the mystery of the Cross in full conformity to the will of God, and she was outstanding for her love for the Eucharist, and her maternal care for children and for the poor. She died at Campi Bisenzio on 23rd April, 1910."

-- From the Discalced Carmelite Proper

Bl Teresa Maria of the Cross was beatified on 19 October 1986 by John Paul II. She is the patron saint of people ridiculed for their piety.


"When I was in the world, it was enough that I was doing a fashion, because all my companions would follow. So, I thought, if they all come back to me in doing wrong, they will also come in doing good."

-- From the writings of Bl Teresa Maria of the Cross, ocd
translated by ocdsister

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Prayer of a Soul Taken with Love

"Lord God, my Beloved, if you still remember my sins in such a way that you do not do what I beg of you, do your will concerning them, my God, which is what I most desire, and exercise your goodness and mercy, and you will be known through them. And if you are waiting for my good works so as to hear my prayer through their means, grant them to me, and work them for me, and the sufferings you desire to accept, and let it be done. But if you are not waiting for my works, what is it that makes you wait, my most clement Lord? Why do you delay? For if, after all, I am to receive the grace and mercy that I entreat of you in your Son, take my mite, since you desire it, and grant me this blessing, since you also desire that. Who can free themselves from lowly manners and limitations if you do not lift them to yourself, my God, in purity of love? How will human beings begotten and nurtured in lowliness rise up to you, Lord, if you do not raise them with your hand that made them? You will not take from me, my God, what you once gave me in your only Son, Jesus Christ, in whom you gave me all I desire. Hence I rejoice that if I wait for you, you will not delay. With what procrastinations do you wait, since from this very moment you can love God in your heart? Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me.What do you ask, then, and seek, my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage yourself in something less or pay heed to the crumbs that fall from your Father's table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in it and rejoice, and you will obtain the supplications of your heart."

-- St John of the Cross

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Keep clean from the stain of mortal sin

"The first thing that a soul should do, is to keep herself clean from the stain of mortal sin, in such sort as to be sensible not to have upon her conscience any mortal offence which she has not confessed entirely: That she remain not in an uncertainty or scruple not to have declared every one sully in confession; so likewise must she have done some convenient suitable penance, and also make as often as possible most firm purposes and resolutions not to commit any sin though never so small, not for the whole world, nay, not if it should cost the life a hundred thousand times over. For if before we are arrived at this purity of conscience, we will force ourselves, or attempt to attain great perfection, we labour but in vain, for so long as we find ourselves terrified with any mortal sin, of which we endeavour not to dispossess ourselves by a salutary repentance, we shall never attain to the true Love of God, neither will perfection ever begin in our Hearts, so long as they are perplexed with remorse about sins, which we fear not to have so well conferred."

--  A Burning Lamp by Jerónimo de la Madre de Dios Gracián, ocd

** This is the same Fr Jerome Gratian that holy mother St Teresa loved so much.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Repay God’s love by carrying out daily duties faithfully

"Carmelites can repay God’s love by their everyday lives in no other way than by carrying out their daily duties faithfully in every respect—all the little sacrifices that a regimen structured day after day in all its details demands of an active spirit; all the self-control that living in close proximity with different kinds of people continually requires and that is achieved with a loving smile; letting no opportunity go by for serving others in love. Finally, crowning this is the personal sacrifice that the Lord may impose on the individual soul. This is the “little way,” a bouquet of insignificant little blossoms that are daily placed before the Almighty—perhaps a silent, life-long martyrdom that no one suspects and that is at the same time a source of deep peace and hearty joyousness and a fountain of grace that bubbles over everything—we do not know where it goes, and the people whom it reaches do not know from whence it comes."

-- On the history and spirit of Carmel by St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, ocd

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sanctity made easy

"I believe that if those souls that tend towards sanctity were instructed as to the conduct they ought to follow, they would be spared a good deal of trouble. I speak as much of people in the world as of others. If they could realise the merit concealed in the actions of each moment of the day: I mean in each of the daily duties of their state of life, and if they could be persuaded that sanctity is founded on that to which they give no heed as being altogether irrelevant, they would indeed be happy. If, besides, they understood that to attain the utmost height of perfection, the safest and surest way is to accept the crosses sent them by Providence at every moment, that the true philosopher’s stone is submission to the will of God which changes into divine gold all their occupations, troubles, and sufferings, what consolation would be theirs! What courage would they not derive from the thought that to acquire the friendship of God, and to arrive at eternal glory, they had but to do what they were doing, but to suffer what they were suffering, and that what they wasted and counted as nothing would suffice to enable them to arrive at eminent sanctity: far more so than extraordinary states and wonderful works. O my God! how much I long to be the missionary of Your holy will, and to teach all men that there is nothing more easy, more attainable, more within reach, and in the power of everyone, than sanctity. How I wish that I could make them understand that just as the good and the bad thief had the same things to do and to suffer; so also two persons, one of whom is worldly and the other leading an interior and wholly spiritual life have, neither of them, anything different to do or to suffer; but that one is sanctified and attains eternal happiness by submission to Your holy will in those very things by which the other is damned because he does them to please himself, or endures them with reluctance and rebellion. This proves that it is only the heart that is different. Oh! all you that read this, it will cost you no more than to do what you are doing, to suffer what you are suffering, only act and suffer in a holy manner. It is the heart that must be changed. When I say heart, I mean will. Sanctity, then, consists in willing all that God wills for us. Yes! sanctity of heart is a simple “fiat,” a conformity of will with the will of God.

What could be more easy, and who could refuse to love a will so kind and so good? Let us love it then, and this love alone will make everything in us divine."

-- Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, SJ

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Goodness renders life valid and important

"I admire you sincerely for the courage, resignation and strength of soul with which you have accepted and borne your heavy cross. You alone, who have experienced the weight of your mortified life, have been able to measure its burden.

One who has always been well cannot understand what suffering means, above all the suffering that does not concede one moment of respite. I am with you always with my thoughts and with prayer: that the Lord may lighten your suffering and help you always to understand better that it is not physical efficiency that renders life valid and important but goodness. And He certainly will not fail to compensate with eternal joy the bitterness of these days of yours."

-- From a letter from Fr Attilio of St Joseph (Sergio Sorgon), ocd, to his sister Lavinia 22 November 1968.

** Fr Attilio was a missionary carmelite assassinated in Madagascar in 1985.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Memorial of Bl Baptist of Mantua Spagnoli

"Bl. Baptist was born at Mantua on April 17, 1447, son of the Spanish Peter Modover and of Constance Maggi, of Brescia. He did his early studies in his native city, under the guidance of Gregory Tifernate and of George Merula, his former school-fellow, and later at Padua, at the school of Paul Bagelardi. While still very young he entered the Mantuan Congregation of the Carmelite Order at Ferrara, where he made his religious profession in 1464. In 1469 he gained a bachelor's degree, and in 1475 that of master of theology at the university of Bologna.

His exceptional talents quickly gained for him the esteem and the trust of his superiors. Already in 1466, when he was not yet twenty years old, he was charged with giving the official discourse at the chapter of Brescia. He served as prior at Parma in 1471 and at Mantua in 1479, and in 1483 was entrusted with the highest responsibility of vicar general of the Congregation, an office to which he was returned five more times until, in 1513, he was elected prior general of the entire Order.

His activity was not limited to the confines of his own religious family. In 1481, while he was regent of studies at Bologna, he was a member of the juridical commission in the process against George Novara; in 1513 he was invited to participate in the Fifth Lateran Council; in 1515 he was charged by Pope Leo X with a mission of peace between the king of France and the duke of Milan.

But in a special way he dedicated the fruitfulness of an uncommon literary genius to the service of his Order and of the Church. As the principal proof of his love for Carmel there remains the Apologia pro Ordine Carmelitano; and testimony of his complete devotion to the Church are not only his poems in honor of Popes Innocent VIII, Julius II and Leo X, but also all those writings like the Objurgatio cum exhortatione ad capiendo, arma contra infideles ad reges et principes Christianas /An objurgation with an exhortation to taking up arms against the infidels, to Christian kings and princes/. They reveal his active participation in the most significant problems of Christianity at that time. The events which were then disturbing the life of his nation stirred his spirit. His poems Pro pacata Italia post helium ferrariense /For a peaceful Italy, after the war of Ferrara/, In Romam bellis tumultantem /To Rome tumultuous with wars/, De hello veneto commentariolus /Commentary on the Venetian war/, his Trophaeus pro Gallis expulsis pro duce Mantuae/ A memorial for the Duke of Mantua, after the expulsion of the French/ and, above all, De calamitatibus temporum /About the calamities of the times/ — reprinted about thirty times between 1489 and 1510 alone — show how Bl. Baptista, even when his vision was at times restricted by political interests bound up with certain courts and when he wrote in the courtly style proper to so many humanists, deeply felt the drama that was upsetting Italy in those days. The friendship that bound him to John Pico della Mirandola, to Pomponius Leto, to Jovian Pontano, to Philip Beroaldo, to John Sabbadino degli Arienti, to Andrew Mantenga and to other distinguished personages of the epoch, is proof of his high prestige in the world of culture. He was, in fact, one of the most famous protagonists of the humanistic movement, especially because of that Bucolica seu adolescentia in decem aeglogas divisa /Pastoral or youthful poems, divided into ten eclogues/. About one hundred and fifty editions of this work can be listed, over a hundred of which were published in the XVI cent. alone. This poem induced his contemporaries, even Erasmus of Rotterdam, to proclaim him the Christian Virgil. The influence of his poetry — the fame of which is acknowledged even by Shakespeare, who repeats some lines of Baptist in Love's Labours Lost — was felt especially in English literature: Alexander Barclay paraphrased his Eclogues, Edmund Spencer imitated him in his Shepheardes Calender, John Milton did the same in his Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity.

The labors resulting from the tasks assigned to him and his intense literary activity did not take him away from the Carmelite ideals of the interior life and from his special devotion to Our Lady. The exercise of the virtues and the renunciation of the world were the themes of De Beata Vita /About a happy life/, a dialogue that he wrote when he was just sixteen years old. His aspiration to solitude and his desire for the presence of God were constantly found in his successive works and in his correspondence. He composed various poems in honor of Our Lady, and one poem in three books — Parthenices Mariana /On Mary's Virginity/ — which had a rapid diffusion throughout Europe (in some seventy editions, fifteen of which appeared in the XV cent. and about fifty in the XVI). He labored to have the custody of the sanctuary of Loreto entrusted to his Congregation; in 1489 he obtained this custody, though only for a few years.

The six Parthenices /Books on virginity/ composed in honor of the martyrs Catherine, Margaret, Agatha, Lucy, Apollonia and Cecilia, and the poems in honor of St. John Baptist, of St. George and of other saints, together with the twelve books De sacris diebus /On the holy days/, are other indications of his religious piety.

Struck by the spreading corruption of the clergy and of the people, he expressed his anxiety for reform, not only with apposite literary means — as in his ninth eclogue De moribus curiae romanae /On the habits of the Roman Curia/ — but also with a vibrant discourse pronounced in 1489 in the Vatican basilica before Pope Innocent VIII and the cardinals. Some particularly severe phrases led Luther himself to depend upon the authority of the blessed in taking a position against Rome; and in an Anthologia... sententiosa collecta ex operibus Baptistae Mantuani /A sententious anthology... collected from the works of Baptist of Mantua/, published at Nürnburg in 1571, the Protestants even pointed to the Carmelite as a precursor of the German reformation. It is superfluous to note the essential difference between the spirit of reform of Bl. Baptist, who intended to work within the Church, and the Lutheran reform, which was to lead to schism.

Bl. Baptist died in his native city on March 20, 1516; and his cult, which began immediately after his death, was approved by Pope Leo XIII on Dec. 17, 1885. His body is preserved in the cathedral of Mantua; and his memorial is observed on April 17."

-- Biography by Edmund Coccia, OCarm

** Though Bl Baptist's writings were a "must read" for a long time, they're now not as appreciated. If you read Latin, you may find some of his poems here. For the curious, his body is incorrupt.

In a poem he dedicated to Pope Leo X, Baptist told the Holy Father that one of the greater needs of the times was the reform of the Roman Curia, "she who is infected by a profound corruption that spreads venom through all the countries. Help, Holy Father Leo!" Interesting, eh? I've read this bit in a couple of biographical sketches, but I can't find the title to the actual poem.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ven Alessandro of St Francis

Member of the noble family Ubaldini, grandson of Leo XI of the Medici, Lelio Ubaldini entered the novitiate of the Scala in 1605 and received the habit of the Reform on April 2, the day after the elevation to the pontificate of Rome of his uncle Cardinal Alexander of the same name. Lelio received the name of Alessandro of St Francis.

Alessandro completed his novitiate  under the guidance of Ven Fr John of Jesus Mary who closely followed the spiritual journey of his disciple and noted with amazement the rapid ascent to the summit of contemplation. He accepted only under obedience to be ordained priest, and only under obedience he accepted immediate the service of the province and the Order in the tasks that he was conferred.
Alessandro will be the second provincial of his province after Fr James of St Vincent, who had worked with the Father General to return Fr Alexander from Paris to the province to make use of good example and the government of a religious so virtuous and holy.

Alessandro will even be provincial councilor (1625), prior of Saint Maria della Scala (1619), visitor and Definitor General (1626). But he can repeat what has been said of his teacher, Fr John of Jesus Mary, namely, the office that most distinguished his work was that master of novices. The young man exercised this office in Cremona, then in Paris and Charenton from 1611 to 1619, and then at Saint Maria della Scala from 1625 to 1629. And he accomplished this with such tact and skill as to deserve the recognition of his disciples and the praise of his  biographers, such as the following from Fr Phillip Mary of St Paul: "take out Fr John of Jesus Mary, the Reform has not had a better teacher".
He wrote many valuable spiritual works, and gave the Italian Carmel  the first complete translation of the works of Sr John of the Cross, which had the honor of a dozen reprints. But Fr Alexander is not mentioned so much for what he did and wrote, but for what he was, "a perfect image of the true teresian","a most exact copy of our Seraphic Mother"... "Such that there will hardly be a resemblance so perfect and appropriate".
Alessandro died at just 42 years [on 16 April at Saint Maria della Scala] after he renewed his profession in the hands of Fr General and after singing the "Te Deum" alternating one verse the Father and the other the whole community "(Letter of Father Gabriel of the Resurrection, Prior of Caprarola, 20 April 1630).

-- Slightly modified from the website of the Discalced Carmelite Friars of the Rome Province
translated by ocdsister

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Leave a little ray of light

"In all the works I'm doing I try to put the seal of our Christian spirit, because I want everything to be saturated with Christ, and, wherever is possible, to leave a little ray of light."

-- From the writings of the Servant of God María Felicia of Jesus-Sacrament,ocd
translated by ocdsister

** María Felicia, affectionately known as Chiquitunga, was a young woman from Paraguay. Very active in Catholic Action, she had a boyfriend but she realized that her call to give herself to Christ was much greater than her love for her friend. She entered Carmel and, after a debilitating illness, she died at the age of 34 in 1959. A potential miracle is currently being studied by the Holy See that may lead to her beatification. Her life story is fascinating, especially for youth nowadays. I'll see about providing a longer biographical sketch of her in the near future.

Photo © 2009 Yahoo!-American Greetings

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Lord seeks the little and humble ones

"The Lord seeks the little and humble ones; be much so of heart to reach intimate union with Him."

-- St Maravillas of Jesus
translated by ocdsister

** Painting by Greg Olsen

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church gets our attention in the same sense when it speaks of modesty: "Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity. Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.

"There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements.... Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies. The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening consciousness of being a subject. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person."(2521-2524). In an instruction on December 8, 1995, the Pontifical Council for the Family speaks up against certain tendencies to immodesty in contemporary society: "Even if they are socially acceptable, there are ways of speaking and dressing which are morally incorrect and which represent a vulgarization of sexuality, reducing it to an object to be consumed. Parents should teach their children the value of Christian modesty, of sober dressing, of the necessary liberty concerning fashions, which are all characteristics of a mature masculine or feminine personality" (97)."

-- From the spiritual letter of December 18, 1996, by Dom Antoine Marie, osb. Reproduced with permission through the kindness of Fr Jacques Marie, osb.

** Dom Antoine is a benedictine priest at Saint Joseph de Clairval Abbey in Flavigny

Monday, April 12, 2010

He is a beggar of love

"Are you afraid of the eyes of God? Pay attention! How can you stop just like that and fool yourself uttering pretexts and reservations in your own solitude? You stay there, calmed, with all the excuses you invent, putting before you I don't know what obligations that seem more urgent than the Love of God?

Look, the Lord calls your your door. He is a beggar of love. And don't [let] these words scandalize you. The truest [thing] is that He has come before you, calling your silence and your intimacy... You leave Him alone instead of your occupations?"

-- En Presencia de la eternidad by Alberto Justo, OP
translated by ocdsister

** Painting by Greg Olsen

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Divine Mercy Sunday

"Today on Easter Sunday I would like to address those among you who come to Mass only on Easter Sunday and so miss a super special event called Divine Mercy Sunday.

Divine Mercy Sunday is a Super-Special Sunday for those who need more and want more.

There is more, there is more, there is so much more!

All of us have desires that are so deep within us that we hardly recognize them and rarely express them – but there is a longing for more: more peace, more joy, and more love.  There is thirst for knowledge of God and for a union with Him – a communion with Him.

The Lord wants to respond to this deep desire of ours for more.  So, seek the God of love and mercy who waits for our free “yes” and free acknowledgement that it is the Lord Himself that we seek.  The Lord cries out to each and all of us: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28).  The Lord offers us an invitation and he stands at the door of our hearts: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3:20).  If we open our hearts to Him and to His desire for us, which is greater than our desire for Him, then He comes in and dines with us!

This is the Super-Special gift of the Sunday after Easter, the eighth day known as Divine Mercy Sunday!  It was officially declared by the late Pope John Paul II of happy memory, as a feast for the whole Church, a feast for the Third Millennium, focusing on God’s Merciful love for you and me.

Come to the Feast for the fulfillment of your deepest desires.  Come prepared with a good Confession in order to receive the best and holiest Communion you ever received and dine at the Lord’s Table and feast on the gift of Himself to you.  Enter into Holy Communion with the Lord Jesus and be blessed by His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.  Come to the feast and drink deeply of the desire of your life.  The Lord’s desire for you is an infinite ocean of love and mercy.

The feast emerges from the depths of the Lord’s mercy (see Diary entry #420) and the Lord pours out a whole ocean of graces – upon souls who approach the fount of His Mercy on that day.  On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened.  Let no soul fear to draw near to the Lord, even though its sins be as scarlet.  The mercy of the Lord is so great that no mind, be it of man or angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity (see Diary 699).

Don’t let your sins of the past be an obstacle.  Approach the “Tribunal of Mercy” (Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession).  The Lord’s presence is only veiled by the presence of the priest (see Diary 1602).

The Lord Jesus calls out to you, from His Merciful Heart, “Come to the feast and Trust even more!”  Trust in Jesus even more!

Receive the gifts and grace of Divine Mercy Sunday with thanksgiving, and then share them with others, so that they too may experience the fulfillment of their deepest desires of their hearts.  Tell them to trust in Jesus even more!

St. Faustina “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time” (John Paul II, Divine Mercy Sunday, April 10th, 1994) recorded the words of the Lord about His desire for the salvation of souls and His desire for our holiness:

“How very much I desire the salvation of souls!  My dearest secretary, write that I want to pour My Divine Life into human souls and to sanctify them if only they were willing to accept My grace.  The greatest sinners would achieve great sanctity, if only they would Trust in My Mercy….”(Diary 1784).

Trust in Jesus even more!"  

-- From a homily by Rev. George W. Kosicki, C.S.B
©Copyright 2002-2006, Apostles of Divine Mercy

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Infinite Love

Because of the great,
infinite love which God has for all humankind,
he makes no distinction in love between the blessed soul of Christ
and the lowliest of the souls that are to be saved....
We should highly rejoice that God dwells in our soul
and still more highly should we rejoice that our soul dwells in God.
Our soul is made to be God's dwelling place,
and the dwelling place of our soul
is God who was never made.

 -- Julian of Norwich

Friday, April 9, 2010

God dwells within me and I am in God

"Thus did Jesus speak. And who is Jesus but He who declares Himself to the God when, in the face of Jews who would stone Him on that very account, He replies:  I and the Father are one.

The One who at this moment lives in my breast, then, is He, a God; He is my God. A God dwells within me and I am in God. Can it be possible? Is it true? Yes, quite possible; my faith reiterates it to me unto satiety. There is nothing truer than that truth.

This God who is within me, I can and must call my God by every claim, a God who is my very own. It is this thought, the thought of a God, of my God in me which, at this moment, wrenches me free of myself and submerges me in Him.

O my God! What can I say to Thee now, how can I express at once greater respect, fear and love than by this cry of my soul: My God!

I forget myself entirely, to the extent that a creature may lose self-consciousness, so as to think of my God, believe in Him, cling to Him alone, at this most sacred instant of my day when, aware of Thy presence in me I can only say to Thee: My God! ... My God!

Far from me then, at this hour, be all other thought and care, every worry, grief and even joy; away, my heart, with pleasant memories, legitimate enjoyments, permissible satisfactions; let the silence of all things invade my being; may my interior faculties be still and recollect themselves.

I am in God; God is in me. My God! Yes, I believe that Thou art here, in the innermost depths of my being. My God! 

I possess our Lord Jesus Christ within me. His flesh sustains me; His blood slakes my thirst; His soul is profoundly united to mine. His humanity fuses with my humanity somewhat as a wax taper runs down and melts into another taper. But this sacred humanity is that of the Word, the Word that was in the beginning; it is that of God, the God whom I adore devoutly, the hidden God."

-- Pledge of Glory: Eucharistic Meditations based on the Prayer of Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity by Dom Eugene Vandeur

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The one true thing: that we may contemplate the joy of the Lord for ever

"Perhaps you may still ask why the apostle said, We know not what to pray for as we ought, for it is wholly incredible that either he or those to whom he wrote were ignorant of the Lord's Prayer. He could not say this either rashly or falsely; what, then, do we suppose to be his reason for the statement? Is it not that vexations and troubles in this world are for the most part profitable either to heal the swelling of pride, or to prove and exercise patience, for which, after such probation and discipline, a greater reward is reserved, or to punish and eradicate some sins; but we, not knowing what beneficial purpose these may serve, desire to be freed from all tribulation? To this ignorance the apostle showed that even he himself was not a stranger (unless, perhaps, he did it notwithstanding his knowing what to pray for as he ought), when, lest he should be exalted above measure by the greatness of the revelations, there was given unto him a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him; for which thing, not knowing surely what he ought to pray for, he besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from him. At length he received the answer of God, declaring why that which so great a man prayed for was denied, and why it was expedient that it should not be done: My grace is sufficient for you; my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Accordingly, we know not what to pray for as we ought in regard to tribulations, which may do us good or harm; and yet, because they are hard and painful, and against the natural feelings of our weak nature, we pray, with a desire which is common to mankind, that they may be removed from us. But we ought to exercise such submission to the will of the Lord our God, that if He does not remove those vexations, we do not suppose ourselves to be neglected by Him, but rather, in patient endurance of evil, hope to be made partakers of greater good, for so His strength is perfected in our weakness. God has sometimes in anger granted the request of impatient petitioners, as in mercy He denied it to the apostle. For we read what the Israelites asked, and in what manner they asked and obtained their request; but while their desire was granted, their impatience was severely corrected. Again, He gave them, in answer to their request, a king according to their heart, as it is written, not according to His own heart. He granted also what the devil asked, namely, that His servant, who was to be proved, might be tempted. He granted also the request of unclean spirits, when they besought Him that their legion might be sent into the great herd of swine. These things are written to prevent any one from thinking too highly of himself if he has received an answer when he was urgently asking anything which it would be more advantageous for him not to receive, or to prevent him from being cast down and despairing of the divine compassion towards himself if he be not heard, when, perchance, he is asking something by the obtaining of which he might be more grievously afflicted, or might be by the corrupting influences of prosperity wholly destroyed. In regard to such things, therefore, we know not what to pray for as we ought. Accordingly, if anything is ordered in a way contrary to our prayer, we ought, patiently bearing the disappointment, and in everything giving thanks to God, to entertain no doubt whatever that it was right that the will of God and not our will should be done. For of this the Mediator has given us an example, inasmuch as, after He had said, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, transforming the human will which was in Him through His incarnation, He immediately added, Nevertheless, O Father, not as I will but as You will. Wherefore, not without reason are many made righteous by the obedience of One.

But whoever desires from the Lord that one thing, and seeks after it, asks in certainty and in confidence, and has no fear lest when obtained it be injurious to him, seeing that, without it, anything else which he may have obtained by asking in a right way is of no advantage to him. The thing referred to is the one true and only happy life, in which, immortal and incorruptible in body and spirit, we may contemplate the joy of the Lord for ever. All other things are desired, and are without impropriety prayed for, with a view to this one thing. For whosoever has it shall have all that he wishes, and cannot possibly wish to have anything along with it which would be unbecoming. For in it is the fountain of life, which we must now thirst for in prayer so long as we live in hope, not yet seeing that which we hope for, trusting under the shadow of His wings before whom are all our desires, that we may be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of His house, and made to drink of the river of His pleasures; because with Him is the fountain of life, and in His light we shall see light, when our desire shall be satisfied with good things, and when there shall be nothing beyond to be sought after with groaning, but all things shall be possessed by us with rejoicing. At the same time, because this blessing is nothing else than the peace which passes all understanding, even when we are asking it in our prayers, we know not what to pray for as we ought. For inasmuch as we cannot present it to ourminds as it really is, we do not know it, but whatever image of it may be presented to our minds we reject, disown, and condemn; we know it is not what we are seeking, although we do not yet know enough to be able to define what we seek."

-- From a letter of St Augustine to Proba

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I must wipe the tablet clean of everything

"Although God is Almighty, He can only work in a heart when He finds readiness or makes it. He works differently in men than in stones. For this we may take the following illustration: if we bake in one oven three loaves of barley-bread, of rye-bread, and of wheat, we shall find the same heat of the oven affects them differently; when one is well-baked, another will be still raw, and another yet more raw. That is not due to the heat, but to the variety of the materials. Similarly God works in all hearts not alike but in proportion as He finds them prepared and susceptible. If the heart is to be ready for the highest, it must he vacant of all other things. If I wish to write on a white tablet, whatever else is written on the tablet, however noble its purport, is a hindrance to me. If I am to write, I must wipe the tablet clean of everything, and the tablet is most suitable for my purpose when it is blank. Similarly, if God is to write on my heart, everything else must come out of it till it is really sanctified. Only so can God work His highest will, and so the sanctified heart has no outward object at all."

 -- From a sermon by Meister Eckhart

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Let us begin to be devoted to Him in good earnest

"GOD knoweth best what is needful for us, and all that He does is for our good. If we knew how much He loves us, we should be always ready to receive equally and with indifference from His hand the sweet and the bitter; all would please that came from Him. The sorest afflictions never appear intolerable, but when we see them in the wrong light. When we see them in the hand of GOD, who dispenses them: when we know that it is our loving FATHER, who abases and distresses us: our sufferings will lose their bitterness, and become even matter of consolation. Let all our employment be to know GOD: the more one knows Him, the more one desires to know Him. And as knowledge is commonly the measure of love, the deeper and more extensive our knowledge shall be, the greater will be our love: and if our love of GOD were great we should love Him equally in pains and pleasures. Let us not amuse ourselves to seek or to love GOD for any sensible favours (how elevated soever) which He has or may do us. Such favours, though never so great, cannot bring us so near to GOD as faith does in one simple act. Let us seek Him often by faith: He is within us; seek Him not elsewhere. Are we not rude and deserve blame, if we leave Him alone, to busy ourselves about trifles, which do not please Him and perhaps offend Him? ‘Tis to be feared these trifles will one day cost us dear. Let us begin to be devoted to Him in good earnest. Let us cast everything besides out of our hearts; He would possess them alone. Beg this favour of Him. If we do what we can on our parts, we shall soon see that change wrought in us which we aspire after. I cannot thank Him sufficiently for the relaxation He has vouchsafed you. I hope from His mercy the favour to see Him within a few days. Let us pray for one another."

-- Fifteenth letter by Br Lawrence of the Resurrection, ocd

Monday, April 5, 2010

Let Him guide you

"Let Him guide you wherever He wants, without sadness or worries."

-- St Maravillas of Jesus
translated by ocdsister

** This painting, by Greg Olsen, is appropriately titled Take My Hand

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!

Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection day, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

** Painting by Peter Paul Rubens

Victimae paschali laudes

A sample of one of my favorite pieces by Palestrina.


Victimae paschali laudes
immolent Christiani.

Agnus redemit oves:
Christus innocens Patri
reconciliavit peccatores.

Mors et vita duello
conflixere mirando:
dux vitae mortuus,
regnat vivus.

Dic nobis Maria,
quid vidisti in via?

Sepulcrum Christi viventis,
et gloriam vidi resurgentis:

Angelicos testes,
sudarium, et vestes.

Surrexit Christus spes mea:
praecedet suos in Galilaeam.

Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mortuis vere:
tu nobis, victor Rex, miserere.


Christians, to the Paschal victim
offer your thankful praises!

A lamb the sheep redeemeth:
Christ, who only is sinless,
reconcileth sinners to the Father.

Death and life have contended
in that combat stupendous:
the Prince of life, who died,
reigns immortal.

Speak, Mary, declaring
what thou sawest, wayfaring:

"The tomb of Christ, who is living,
the glory of Jesus' resurrection;

"Bright angels attesting,
the shroud and napkin resting.

"Yea, Christ my hope is arisen;
to Galilee he will go before you."

Christ indeed from death is risen,
our new life obtaining;
have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!

Piece from Palestrina: Stabat Mater, conducted by Andrew Carwood

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Holy Saturday

"They imagine wickedness, and practise it; that they keep secret among themselves, every man in the deep of his heart.  And they say that no man shall see them.  Now one known as Man came up against these communings, and in the form of Man he did suffer himself to be laid hold upon.  For they could not have laid hold upon him, had he not been Man; neither could he have been seen, had he not been Man; nor been scourged, had he not been Man; nor been crucified, nor died, had he not been Man.  As Man, therefore, he came to endure all those sufferings which could have had none effect upon him had he not been Man.  And further, had he not been Man, in no wise could man have been redeemed.  So it was, as the Psalmist saith, that he came, as Man, unto a deep heart; that is, something that passeth human understanding.  For he shewed his Manhood to the eyes of men, but kept his Godhead hidden deep within: thus concealing the form of God, wherein he is equal to the Father; but exhibiting the form of a servant, wherein he is inferior to the Father.

How far did they encourage themselves in those diligent searchings, wherein they failed so greatly?  So far that even when the Lord was dead and buried, they set a watch over the sepulchre.  For they said of Christ to Pilate: That deceiver.  By this name the Lord Jesus Christ was named, to the comfort of his servants, when they be called deceivers.  That deceiver (say they to Pilate) said while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again: command, therefore, that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead; so the last error shall be worse than the first.  Pilate said unto them: Ye have a watch; go your way, make it as sure as ye can.  So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and settling a watch.

They placed a watch of soldiers over the sepulchre.  The earth quaked!  The Lord rose again!  Such were the miracles wrought round about the sepulchre, that the very soldiers who kept watch might have become witnesses, if they had been willing to declare the truth.  But that covetousness which possessed the disciple and companion of Christ, possessed also the soldiers who guarded his tomb.  We will give you money (say they), and say ye that his disciples came and stole him away while ye slept.  Truly, they failed in their snare and communings.  What is this thou saidst, O wretched cunning?  Dost thou so far forsake the light of prudence and duty, and plunge thyself so deep in craftiness, as to speak thus: Say ye that his disciples came and stole him away while ye slept?  Thou producest sleeping witnesses!  Surely thou wast thyself asleep, who didst thus snare thyself in such a snare."

-- From the Treatise on the Psalms by St Augustine

Friday, April 2, 2010

Angustias by José de Mora

O Sacred Head Surrounded

Good Friday

Lo, there He hangs -
Ashened figure pinioned against the wood.
God grant that I might love Him
Even as I should.
I draw a little closer
To feel His love divine,
And Hear Him gently whisper,
“Ah, precious child of mine -

If now I should embrace you,
My hands would stain you red,
An if I leaned to whisper,
My thorns would pierce your head.” 

‘Twas there I learned in sorrow
That love demands a price;
‘Twas then I learned that suffering
is but the kiss of Christ.

-- The Kiss of Christ by a Trappist monk