Monday, December 26, 2011

Memorial of St. Stephen

"If you know what witness means, you understand why God brings St. Stephen, St. John, and the Holy Innocents to the crib in the cave as soon as Christ is born liturgically. To be a witness is to be a martyr. Holy Mother Church wishes us to realize that we were born in baptism to become Christ — He who was the world's outstanding Martyr." 

-- Love Does Such Things by Rev. M. Raymond, O.C.S.O.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Memorial of Bl Louis Morbioli

"The oldest biography of Blessed Louis is a poem composed between 1485 and 1489 (Saggi dates it in the autumn of 1486) by Bl. Baptist of Mantua, who lived in Bologna for many years. Louis belonged to a family of the lower middle class; his father was called Francis of Anthony, his mother Agnes, and these were blessed with six children, five boys and one girl. Louis was born in Bologna in 1433; his youth was happy and carefree, nor did his life change after his marriage with Lucy, daughter of John Tura.

In 1462 he moved to Venice, where he was struck by a serious illness, taken into the hospice of the Canons Regular of St. Savior, he underwent a profound spiritual crisis that resulted in a radical change in his life. He probably returned to Bologna in 1470, and aroused admiration and amazement for his austere and penitent conduct. He separated from his wife, put on a plain grey habit, much like that of the Carmelites (hence the erroneous affirmation that he was a Carmelite tertiary), which he afterwards changed for a white one with a cross on his breast and which he wore both summer and winter. He went through the streets of Bologna preaching penance and mortification, and accompanied those condemned to the scaffold. He visited other cities of Emilia (Modena, Ferrara) on donkey back. He traveled the streets holding a cross in his hand and preaching penance. When he became sick, he refused every relief. He died at Bologna on Nov. 9, 1485, as he himself had foretold.

He was buried in the cathedral of St. Peter. Although a popular cult to him began immediately after his death, his bones were not found in the restoration of the cathedral, which occurred under Gabriel Card. Paleotti (1566-97). Already in 1582, Louis was inscribed in the catalogue of saints of Bologna, and Card. Paleotti included him in the Archiepiscopalis Bononiensis /Of the Archdiocese of Bologna/ in 1594. Under Jerome Card. Boncompagni a regular process of canonization was begun (1654), but the work was never brought to a conclusion. In 1843 his cult was permitted for the diocese of Bologna and for the Carmelite Order, which erroneously claimed him as one of its tertiaries. The liturgical celebration at Bologna is fixed for Nov. 17, as an optional memorial."

-- Biography by John Dominic Gordini

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Memorial of Bl Lucas of St Joseph and companions

"Fr. Lucas of St. Joseph (José Tristany Pujol) was born on December 14, 1872. He was only six months old when his father died. It became such a hardship that his mother, Rosa, had to ask her older sons and daughter to live on their own. She took with her the two younger boys to live near a hermitage on the estate called Saint Justin. They later moved to the town of Cardona where Rosa died shortly after.

Jose, as a child, was taken in by a neighboring farm family that hoped to eventually train him to be a sheepherder. This only lasted for a short time until his Uncle Antonio and Aunt Margarita brought José to their home in Tarragona after his older brother, Meliton, who became known as Ludovico of the Sacred Hearts, entered the Discalced Carmelite Order. It was here that Jose spent his adolescent years and where he became interested in carpentry. He was frequently found helping at the local carpenter’s shop on Florencio Vives Street. As the boy grew older, his relatives thought he would marry. However the young man felt in his heart the vocation to be a priest. At fifteen years of age, he began his studies in Humanities at the seminary. At age eighteen, Jose, along with his relatives, made a visit to the Carmelite Desert Monastery of Las Palmas—the same monastery where his brother had lived. He began his novitiate there in 1890 and made his first profession of vows the following year. He made his solemn vows in 1894 at the hands of his brother, Fr. Ludovico.

After his ordination to the priesthood on May 27, 1899, Fr. Lucas was made superior and professor of Philosophy. He became well known for his preaching and spiritual writings. His great intellectual capacity was coupled with a warm, generous heart that he placed at the service of God, the Order, and souls. His conviction as a Carmelite friar inspired him to write these prophetic words in an article: “As long as God preserves my vocation, I will not lower my head in shame for anybody because I am a religious ... If we die for the truth, we will have triumphed.”

Fr. Lucas was sent to Mexico in 1902 where his apostolic work began in Mazatlan and Durango. His personality attracted many people and helped in the building up of the good name of the Carmelites. As a result, the bishop of Mazatlan requested more friars for ministry and handed over to them a parish in the city with Fr. Lucas being appointed its first pastor. However the situation was not as smooth in Durango, and both Frs. Pedro of St. Elijah and Lucas had difficulties making a Carmelite establishment in that city. The issues that impeded them from establishing in the diocese were lifted upon the installation of a new bishop in Durango who granted them all the permissions necessary to minister to the people there and establish a monastery. It was soon after these negotiations that Fr. Lucas contracted typhoid that almost cost him his life were it not for the diligent care of a religious sister who was a nurse.

The religious persecution in Mexico brought the Discalced Carmelites to the Diocese of Tucson in the United States in 1912. The Catalonian Carmelites vigorously served twenty-two mission churches in the surrounding mining towns and camps. Bishop Henry Granjon, as a sign of his appreciation for the work done by the friars, assigned the newly-built Holy Family Church in the city of Tucson to the Carmelites and appointed Fr. Lucas as its first pastor in 1915. He left the United States and returned to Barcelona when he was elected provincial of the Catalonian Province in 1924. A year later, Fr. Lucas was transferred to Rome to serve as general definitor. After completing his tenure there in 1933, he returned to Barcelona and served as prior. In 1936, he assumed the office of provincial and was stationed at the Carmelite monastery in Barcelona."

-- From the website of the Discalced Carmelite Friars of the California-Arizona Province

"The political ambiance was gradually simmering on an anticlerical attitude since the assassination of General Miguel Primo de Rivera who had established a military dictatorship. The republican government, headed by President Manuel Azaña, had passed laws and restrictions including the confiscation of church property and the prohibition of clergy from teaching in public schools. When the monarchy had been overthrown by the exile of King Alfonso XIII and with the republican government established for a second time in 1931, churches in Madrid and in Andalucia were burned.Fearful that the government would lose popular support, police authorities were unwilling to stop the destruction. In the new republican government, the Catholic Political Party (CEDA) demanded representation. However in 1934, leftist groups responded with a rebellion by killing thirty-four priests, brothers, and seminarians in the mining area of Asturias.

By election time in February 1936, the Popular Front Party, comprised of liberals, socialists, and communists with anarchist support, had taken power over the government. In July, the military rose up against the Popular Front government, which in turn called the working-class organizations to bear arms in response.

The uprising turned into a civil war and thereby began what one historian called “the greatest clerical bloodletting in the entire history of the Christian Church.”Carmelites in Barcelona at the onset of civil warThe friars at the Carmelite monastery in Barcelona, located at the corner of LIuria Street and Diagonal Avenue, were still asleep at 4:30 Sunday morning when suddenly they were awakened by shouts and banging at the door.

On that morning of July 19, 1936, the quiet streets of Barcelona had turned into a battlefield when nationalist troops were sent to secure the cross streets between Paseo de Gracia and Diagonal.The troops were ambushed between Callis and Llüria Street by republican assault guards and city militia. The civil war had come to Barcelona. The sounds of horrible gun fire and the militia shouting “Viva Ia Republica” and “Viva el Ejercito” grew louder and louder. The banging at the door was increasingly frantic— shouting through the door that the wounded needed care. The monastery door was opened and infantry men from the Santiago cavalry barged in bringing with them several armed soldiers.

The community had rapidly set up an infirmary in the largest room in the monastery close to the entrance. They had laid the wounded on mattresses that the friars had taken from all their cells. Food was scarce for so many inside, but the friars made sure that the wounded and fatigued were well nourished, even if it meant abstaining from food themselves. Soldiers from the infantry continued to storm into the monastery bringing weapons and ammunition and placing themselves in strategic areas throughout the compound and turning the Carmelite monastery into a military fort.

An American reporter, Magan Laird, was vacationing with her family at an apartment across from the monastery when she heard what sounded like firecrackers and rockets. But when she looked out of her apartment and found no one coming out, she knew something was wrong: “The first sign of life is a private car coming rapidly up Calle Lluria ... It stops in the next block in front of the church and monastery of the Carmelites. Two assault guards get out hurriedly, grasp the rifles in firing position, and station themselves behind a tree. At the same moment, I see other assault guards running, rifles in their hands, down the diagonal, another block away ... There is a crackle and a puff of smoke from the tower of the Carmelite church. In the street below, an assault guard, sheltered behind a tree knoll, raises his rifle and fires ... this is no fiesta. This is war.”

The cavalry had set a perimeter with soldiers on the bell tower, on windows inside the cells, and church areas. Laird recounts, “From time to time the air is torn with their sharp pum-pum-pum ... Suddenly the drone of an airplane motor is heard directly above our heads. In a minute the plane itself dips into our line of vision, flying high and circling above the Carmelite church. There is the sharp rattle of machine guns from the plane. They are firing at random on the streets and houses below.”

In the midst of this chaos, the whole Carmelite community was able to celebrate Sunday Mass and pray the Divine Office.As evening drew near, the wounded were transferred to the library where they would be safer and make more space for the incoming troops from the street. “Cars are passing more frequently in the streets—beautiful cars, luxurious limousines, and open sport models, polished and shining—the cars of the wealthy, filled now with men and soldiers in shirt sleeves, firing constantly as they careen wildly through the streets. All of them have painted letters on the sides — FAI and CNT ...“ The streets finally fell quiet late Sunday night.Inside the monastery, as it was forbidden to light any lamps, many soldiers rested in the pews, refectory, sacristy, and basement.

The Carmelites did not go back to their cells but attended to the needs of the soldiers and prisoners who had been captured by the military. “The night air is very cold ... here and there, among darkened buildings of the city, rises a column of white, heavy smoke. They are burning the churches. Off to the right, and elevated on a little hill, one church stands up like liquid gold against the night.”Early Monday morning, the friars celebrated Mass in the middle of gunfire, which was heavier than Sunday.

Throughout the morning, many officers and troops inside came to the Carmelites to be enrolled in the Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. With no reinforcements to relieve the soldiers, it was a matter of time before they could no longer hold down the monastery. Seeing that surrender was inevitable, the Carmelite community gathered in the church and knelt before theBlessed Sacrament. Fr. Lucas, the provincial, proceeded to distribute all the consecrated hosts to be consumed. Shortly after this, everyone was alerted that there was an agreement to surrender, with the condition that the lives of the officers, the troops, the wounded, and the religious be spared.For safety, the Carmelites were told not to wear their habits outside, One friar recalls: “We took off our Carmelite habits and clothed ourselves in civilian attire ... all of us were ready to die after having received the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.”

Laird continues: “Presently, in the top of the bell tower, the white flag is run up. Instantly the streets are filled with cheering mobs. The police are powerless to hold them back; they surge against the church, shaking their fists, dancing with rage. Many carry lighted torches.” The mob had infiltrated the monastery by breaking doors and windows. The civil guard was able to give some of the friars a safe passage outside, but the mob became so uncontrollable that there was no longer any guarantee for their safety.

Some friars tried to escape by blending with the crowd, but for some it was no use. Fr. Jorge of St. Joseph and Bro. Juan Jose of Jesus were killed as soon as they were discovered to be friars.Martyrdom of Fr. LucasWitnesses testify to seeing Fr. Lucas as he came out of the monastery through the smaller door adjacent to the tower bell with his face covered with blood, his head bandaged with a colored handkerchief, and accompanied by two civil guards. The mob wanted to lynch Father, but the soldiers forced them back telling them they wanted to take him to the authorities.

As they approached Diagonal Avenue, one of the civil guards with him said, “I gave you my word that I will save your life.” From a distance, however, a patrol shot the guard in the head killing him. The other soldiers fell back as the mob grew restlessly violent.Fr. Lucas crossed Diagonal Avenue alone under fire and took refuge before a large portal. A patrol, armed with two rifles, pushed him ruthlessly onto the Avenue. The patrol approached him again striking him on the head with rifle butts.

Fr. Lucas was ordered to walk down the Avenue and “with an uncertain gait, he staggers slowly down the Diagonal, his palms joined before his breast praying.” After walking a few yards, he was shot from behind and fell to the ground. Wounded, Fr. Lucas was able to crawl some distance before he died near a small oak tree in front of a doctor’s clinic on Diagonal Avenue. Fr. Lucas was lying on the ground with his face turned to the Carmelite monastery until 8 o’clock that night when a Red Cross ambulance from Lluria Street came to take away the body."

-- Account of martyrdom from Tucson priests blog.

Memorial of St Nuño of St Mary (Alvares Pereira)

"Nuno was born at Sernache do Bomjardim (Portugal) on June 24, son of the noble, Don Alvaro Gonçalves Pereira, grand prior of the priory of Crato, of the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Nuno grew up in the company of the knights dependent on his father and was given to the reading of the knightly and military deeds of the Round Table. At the age of thirteen he was admitted to the court of King Ferdinand, in view of a military career. He soon gave such proofs of bravery that while still thirteen years old he was chosen as an equerry of the queen and created a knight. In imitation of Galahad, the pure knight of the Holy Grail, he would have wished to remain celibate; but, so as not to oppose his father, on Aug. 15, 1376, he consented to take Lady Eleonora de Alvim as his wife. He had three children, two of whom died young; the third, Beatrice, in 1401 married Don Alphonse, a son of King John I. Don Alphonse was also Count of Barcelos and the first Duke of Braganza, the founder of several princely and royal dynasties of Europe.

During the war between Portugal and Castile Nuno had many occasions to show his valor, which, however, was fully revealed only in the political crisis that followed the death of King Ferdinand (Oct. 22, 1383). Among the supporters of the right of Beatrice to the throne of Portugal—she was the daughter of the deceased King Ferdinand and the wife of the King of Castile—were not a few Portuguese, among them Nuno's own brothers. Nuno, however, tenaciously opposed the incorporation of Portugal into the kingdom of Castile and, in order to safeguard national independence, defended the candidacy of John, Master of Aviz, a brother of King Ferdinand; at the same time Nuno endeavored to overcome the hesitations and opposition of his compatriots. On April 6, 1384, he overcame the followers of the King of Castile in the battle of Atoleiros. A year later the Master of Aviz was proclaimed king of Portugal, and he chose Nuno as his Constable. Thus, at only twenty-five years of age, Nuno became the supreme commander of the army. On Aug. 14, 1385, he engaged in the battle of Aljubarrota and the definitive defeat of the Castilians, despite the fact that the Portuguese were greatly outnumbered. Nuno then passed to the offensive and gained another glorious victory in Castilian territory at Valverde (Oct. 1385). Atoleiros, Aljubarrota and Valverde were but the more salient points on a chain of guerilla encounters drawn out for several years.

To his military valor Nuno joined a profound Christian piety. He nourished special devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the Virgin Mary; he assisted at two Masses every day, and three on Saturdays and Sundays. He went often to confession, and to Communion on Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and the feast of the Assumption. In honor of Our Lady he fasted on every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, as well as on the vigils of her feasts, even when they were days of battle. On his banner were depicted the sacred images of the Crucifixion, Our Lady, and the two patrons Of knighthood, St. James and St. George. Before battle he prepared his soldiers spiritually, exhorting them to trust in God and having them receive the sacraments. He attributed his stupendous victories to the help of God through the intercession of Our Lady. At Valverde, in the thick of the battle, when victory seemed unattainable, Nuno was found on his knees between two rocks, with hands raised up in the act of prayer.

He manifested his gratitude to Our Lady by making frequent pilgrimages to Marian sanctuaries and building churches in her honor. Thus, at Nuno's expense, the churches of Vila Viçosa, Souzel, Portel, Monsaraz, Mou-rao, fivora, Camarate were erected. All of them were dedicated to the Virgin Mary, as was the magnificent temple of Carmel in Lisbon, later destroyed by the earthquake of 1755. He also built a chapel to the Virgin Mary and to St. George exactly where his banner had stood during the battle of Aljubarrota. At Estremoz he completed the construction of a temple of Our Lady of the Martyrs, begun by King Ferdinand. Finally, bound up with the name of Nuno are the monastery and church of St. Mary of Victory, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture in Portugal and better know by the name of Batalha, ordered built by Don John I to commemorate the victory of Aljubarrota and to fulfill a vow made on the field of battle. After the death of his wife in 1387, Nuno constantly refused to enter into a second marriage. Military engagements had made him live far from home ever since 1383; yet, according to the testimony of Portuguese historians, he always gave the example of an unsullied life and never tolerated any licentiousness among his soldiers. He was always very generous in assisting the needy of every kind. When definite peace had been reestablished with Castile, Nuno distributed a great part of his immense possessions to his comrades in arms. In 1415 he took part in the Portuguese expedition to Ceuta; and then on Aug. 15, 1423, to the wonder and surprise of the whole country, Nuno abandoned all his remaining possessions and was clothed in the Carmelite habit in the convent of Lisbon, which had also been established and endowed by him. He chose the status of the so-called Oblates and dedicated himself to the most humble tasks of the convent.

He took the name Brother Nuno of St. Mary. Only the intervention of the prince, Don Edward, son of King John I, was able to prevent him from actualizing his desire to betake himself to another convent far from Portugal, so that he could avoid the frequent visits of illustrious citizens. He also expressed the desire of begging publicly for his daily food, but his superiors and the same prince Edward did not allow him this. He died in 1431 /the same year as St. Joan of Arc/, probably on April 1, after eight years of a life completely dedicated to prayer and penance. His funeral was a most solemn celebration, with the participation of the entire royal court. He was buried in the Carmelite church of Lisbon."

-- Biography by Elias Cardoso, OCarm

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In the Hands of God

I am Yours and born of You,
What do You want of me?

Majestic Sovereign,
Unending wisdom,
Kindness pleasing to my soul;
God sublime, one Being Good,
Behold this one so vile.
Singing of her love to you:
What do You want of me?

Yours, you made me,
Yours, you saved me,
Yours, you endured me,
Yours, you called me,
Yours, you awaited me,
Yours, I did not stray.
What do You want of me?

Good Lord, what do you want of me,
What is this wretch to do?
What work is this,
This sinful slave, to do?
Look at me, Sweet Love,
Sweet Love, look at me,
What do You want of me?

In Your hand
I place my heart,
Body, life and soul,
Deep feelings and affections mine,
Spouse -- Redeemer sweet,
Myself offered now to you,
What do You want of me?

Give me death, give me life,
Health or sickness,
Honor or shame,
War or swelling peace,
Weakness or full strength,
Yes, to these I say,
What do You want of me?

Give me wealth or want,
Delight or distress,
Happiness or gloominess,
Heaven or hell,
Sweet life, sun unveiled,
To you I give all.
What do You want of me?

Give me, if You will,prayer;
Or let me know dryness,
And abundance of devotion,
Or if not, then barrenness.
In you alone, Sovereign Majesty,
I find my peace,
What do You want of me?

Give me then wisdom.
Or for love, ignorance,
Years of abundance,
Or hunger and famine.
Darkness or sunlight,
Move me here or there:
What do You want of me?

If You want me to rest,
I desire it for love;
If to labor,
I will die working:
Sweet Love say
Where, how and when.
What do You want of me?

Calvary or Tabor give me,
Desert or fruitful land;
As Job in suffering
Or John at Your breast;
Barren or fruited vine,
Whatever be Your will:
What do You want of me?

Be I Joseph chained
Or as Egypt's governor,
David pained
Or exalated high,
Jonas drowned,
Or Jonas freed:
What do You want of me?

Silent or speaking,
Fruitbearing or barren,
My wounds shown by the Law,
Rejoicing in the tender Gospel;
Sorrowing or exulting,
You alone live in me:
What do You want of me?

Yours I am, for You I was born:
What do You want of me?

-- St Teresa of Avila

Friday, August 12, 2011

Memorial of Bl Isidore Bakanja

"Isidore Bakanja worked as an assistant mason for white colonists in what was then the Belgian Congo and later known as Zaire. Convert, baptized 6 May 1906 at age 18 after receiving instruction from Trappists missionaries. Rosary in hand, he used any chance to share his faith; though untrained, many thought of him as a catechist. He left his native village because there were no fellow Christians.

He further worked as a domestic on a Belgian rubber plantation. Many of the Belgian agents were atheists who hated missionaries due to their fight for native rights and justice; the agents used the term "mon pere" for anyone associated with religion. Isidore encountered their hatred when he asked leave to go home. The agents refused, and he was ordered to stop teaching fellow workers how to pray: "You'll have the whole village praying and no one will work!" He was told to discard his scapular, and when he didn't, he was flogged twice. The second time the agent tore the scapular from Isidore's neck, had him pinned to the ground, and then beaten with over 100 blows with a whip of elephant hide with nails on the end. He was then chained to a single spot 24 hours a day.

When an inspector came to the plantation, Isidore was sent to another village. He managed to hide in the forest, then dragged himself to the inspector. "I saw a man," wrote the horrified inspector, "come from the forest with his back torn apart by deep, festering, malodorous wounds, covered with filth, assaulted by flies. He leaned on two sticks in order to get near me - he wasn't walking; he was dragging himself". The agent tried to kill "that animal of mon pere", but the inspector prevented him. He took Isidore home to heal, but Isidore knew better. "If you see my mother, or if you go to the judge, or if you meet a priest, tell them that I am dying because I am a Christian."

Two missionaries who spent several days with him reported that he devoutly received the last sacraments. The missionaries urged Isidore to forgive the agent; he assured them that he already had. "I shall pray for him. When I am in heaven, I shall pray for him very much." After six months of prayer and suffering, he died, rosary in hand and scapular around his neck."

-- Biography from

** Isidore was born around 1887 and died in 1909. He was a lay young man invested with the Scapular of Our Lady of Mt Carmel. Carmelites observe his feast on 12 August since we celebrate the Assumption of Our Lady on the 15th, the day of his entering into eternal life.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Letter of Pope Pius XII on the Scapular

To the Most Reverend Fathers
Prior General of the Order of the Brothers
of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (O.Carm.)
Prepositus General of the Order of the Discalced Brothers
of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (O.C.D.)

Christ is the way; Mary reflects the way; her Scapular is our keepsake on the way.

There is no one who is not aware how greatly a love for the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, contributes to the enlivening of the Catholic faith and to the raising of the moral standard. These effects are especially secured by means of those devotions which, more than others, are seen to enlighten the mind with celestial doctrine and to excite souls to the practise of the Christian life. In the first rank of the most favoured of those devotions, that of the Holy Carmelite Scapular must be placed — a devotion which, adapted to the minds of all by its very simplicity, has become so universally widespread among the faithful and has produced so many and such salutary fruits.

Therefore it has pleased Us greatly to learn of the decision of our Carmelite Brethren both Calced and Discalced; namely, to take all pains to pay homage to the Blessed Virgin Mary in as solemn a manner as possible on the occasion of the Seventh Centenary of the Institution of the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Prompted therefore by Our constant love for the tender Mother of God and mindful also of Our own enrolment from boyhood in the Confraternity of this same Scapular, most willingly do We commend so pious an undertaking and We are certain that upon it will fall an abundance of divine blessings. For not with a light or passing matter are We here concerned, but with the obtaining of eternal life itself which is the substance of that Promise of the Most Blessed Virgin that has been handed down to us. We are concerned, namely, with that which is of supreme importance to all and with the manner of achieving it safely. For the Holy Scapular, which may be called the Habit or Garment of Mary, is a Sign and a Pledge of the protection of the Mother of God. But not for this reason, however, may they who wear the Scapular think that they can gain eternal salvation while remaining slothful and negligent of spirit, for the Apostle warns us: “In fear and trembling shall you work out your salvation.” —Phil. 2:12.

Therefore all Carmelites, whether they live in the cloisters of the First and Second Orders or are members of the Third Order Regular or Secular or of the Confraternities, belong to the same Family of Our Most Blessed Mother and are attached to it by a special bond of love. May they all see in this Keepsake of the Virgin herself a Mirror of humility and purity; may they read in the very simplicity of the Garment a concise lesson in modesty and simplicity; above all, may they behold in this same Garment, which they wear day and night, the eloquently expressive symbol of their prayers for the divine assistance; finally, may it be to them a Sign of their Consecration to the Most Sacred heart of the Immaculate Virgin, a consecration which in recent times We have so strongly recommended.

And certainly this gentle Mother will not delay to open as soon as possible, through her intercession with God, the gates of Heaven for her children who are expiating their faults in Purgatory - a trust based on that Promise known as the Sabbatine Privilege.

Now, therefore, as a pledge of the divine protection and help, and as an assurance of Our own special predilection We most lovingly impart to you, Beloved Sons, and to the whole Carmelite Order, the Apostolic Benediction.

Given In Rome At The See Of Peter
On The Eleventh Day Of February,
On The Feast Of The Apparition Of The Immaculate Virgin Mary,
In The Year 1950,
And The Eleventh Of Our Pontificate.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Share your spiritual treasure: preach the word of God

"There is a spiritual life that we share with the angels of heaven and with the divine spirits, for like them we have been formed in the image and likeness of God. The bread that is necessary for living this life is the grace of the Holy Spirit and the love of God. But grace and love are nothing without faith, since without faith it is impossible to please God. And faith is not conceived unless the word of God is preached. Faith comes through hearing, and what is heard is the word of Christ. The preaching of the word of God, then, is necessary for the spiritual life, just as the planting of seed is necessary for bodily life.

Christ says: The sower went out to sow his seed. The sower goes out as a herald of justice. On some occasions we read that the herald was God, for example, when with a living voice from heaven he gave the law of justice to a whole people in the desert.

On other occasions, the herald was an angel of the Lord, as when he accused the people of transgressing the divine law at Bochim, in the place of weeping. At this all the sons of Israel, when they heard the angel's address, became sorrowful in their hearts, lifted up their voices, and wept bitterly. Then again, Moses preached the law of the Lord to the whole people on the plains of Moab, as we read in Deuteronomy. Finally, Christ came as God and man to preach the word of the Lord, and for the same purpose he sent the apostles, just as he had sent the prophets before them.

Preaching therefore, is a duty that is apostolic, angelic, Christian, divine. The word of God is replete with manifold blessings, since it is, so to speak, a treasure of all goods. It is the source of faith, hope, charity, all virtues, all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, all the beatitudes of the Gospel, all good works, all the rewards of life, all the glory of paradise: Welcome the word that has taken root in you, with its power to save you.

For the word of God is a light to the mind and a fire to the will. It enables man to know God and to love him. And for the interior man who lives by the Spirit of God, through grace, it is bread and water, but a bread sweeter than honey and the honeycomb, a water better than wine and milk. For the soul it is a spiritual treasure of merits yielding an abundance of gold and precious stones. Against the hardness of a heart that persists in wrongdoing, it acts as a hammer. Against the world, the flesh and the devil it serves as a sword that destroys all sin."

-- Sermo Quadragesimalis 2 by St Lawrence of Brindisi, OFM Cap

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Since union with God, precious fruit of silence, could not exist if calmness did not reign within and around us, we must, by a vigilant mortification of the tongue and of the imagination, repress without ceasing the too great love of talking as well as the curious desire of knowing everything."

-- Mother Catherine Aurelia Caouette, Foundress of the Sisters Adorers of the Most Precious Blood

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Precious Blood Prayer to the Mother of God

Dear Mother of God and purest virgin, do offer to the Heavenly Father the Precious Blood and merits of Jesus Christ for all poor sinners and for the prevention of mortal sin.

Dear Mother of God and Protectress of the Holy Church, do offer to the Heavenly Father the Precious Blood and Merits of Jesus Christ for our Holy Mother Church, for our Holy Father the Pope and his intentions, for our Bishop and his diocese.

Dear Mother of God, and my Mother also, do offer to the Heavenly Father the most Precious blood and the merits of Jesus Christ, His most holy and Divine Heart, and His infinite merits, for our cruelly persecuted brethren in every land where Christians suffer persecution. Offer them also for the unhappy pagans that they may learn to know Jesus, Thy Son, and their Redeemer, and for the liberty, victory, and extension of the Catholic Faith in all the countries of the world. Obtain also for the newly converted fidelity and constancy in our holy Faith. Amen.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Seven Offerings of the Precious Blood

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the merits of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy Beloved Son and my Divine Redeemer, for the propagation and exaltation of my dear Mother the Holy Church, for the safety and prosperity of her visible Head, the Holy Roman Pontiff, for the cardinals, bishops and pastors of souls, and for all the ministers of the sanctuary.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Blessed and praised forevermore be Jesus Who hath saved us by His Precious Blood! Amen.

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the merits of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy Beloved Son and my Divine Redeemer, for the peace and concord of nations, for the conversion of the enemies of our holy faith and for the happiness of all Christian people.

Glory be...

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the merits of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy Beloved Son and my Divine Redeemer, for the repentance of unbelievers, the extirpation of all heresies, and the conversion of sinners.

Glory be...

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the merits of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy Beloved Son and my Divine Redeemer, for all my relations, friends and enemies, for the poor, the sick, and those in tribulation, and for all those for whom Thou willest I should pray, or knowest that I ought to pray.

Glory be...

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the merits of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy Beloved Son and my Divine Redeemer, for all those who shall this day pass to another life, that Thou mayest preserve them from the pains of hell, and admit them the more readily to the possession of Thy Glory.

Glory be...

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the merits of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy Beloved Son and my Divine Redeemer, for all those who are lovers of this Treasure of His Blood, and for all those who join with me in adoring and honoring It, and for all those who try to spread devotion to It . . .

Glory be...

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the merits of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy Beloved Son and my Divine Redeemer, for all my wants, spiritual and temporal, for the holy souls in Purgatory, and particularly for those who in their lifetime were most devoted to this Price of our redemption, and to the sorrows and pains of our dear Mother, most Holy Mary . . .

Glory be...

Blessed and exalted be the Blood of Jesus, now and always, and through all eternity. Amen.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Memorial of Bl Maria Crocifissa Curcio

"Maria Crocifissa [Kroh-Chee-FEE-sah] Curcio [KUR-chee-oh], foundress of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, was born in Ispica (Rg), southeast Sicily, in the diocese of Noto, on January 30, 1877. Her parents were Salvatore Curcio and Concetta Franzò.  Being the seventh of ten siblings, she spent her childhood in a highly cultural and social home environment, in which she quickly exhibited lively intelligence and a pleasant personality. She was very strong-willed and determined, and in her early teens she developed a strong tendency towards piety, with specific attention and solidarity towards the weak and marginalized.

At home she was raised under the strict moral guidelines, by virtue of which her father not only impeded her yearning for an intense life of faith, but according to the customs of the era, he did not permit her to study beyond grade six at the elementary level. 

These deprivations cost her greatly. However, eager to learn, she drew comfort from the many books in the family library, where she found a copy of the Life of Saint Teresa of Jesus. The impact of this saint enabled her to come to know and love the Carmel, and so she began her "study of celestial things".

In 1890, at the age of thirteen, she succeeded, and not without difficulty, in enrolling in the Carmelite Third Order, which had only recently been re-established in Ispica. Because of her regular attendance at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and her deep devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, who "had captured her heart since childhood" by assigning her the mission of“making the Carmel reflourish”, her knowledge of Carmelite Spirituality made her understand the divine plans in store for her.

Her desire to share the ideal of a Missionary Carmel, which unites the contemplative dimension with that of a specifically apostolic dimension, she began an initial experience of community life with a few fellow members of the Third Order in a small apartment in her ancestral home, which her siblings had bequeathed to her. She then transferred to Modica (Rg) where she was entrusted with the management of the "Carmela Polara” conservatory for the acceptance and assistance of young females who were orphans or in any way needy, with the firm resolution to turning them into"worthy women who would be useful to themselves and to society".

After several years of trials and hardships in the vain attempt to see this undertaking of hers in some way supported and officially recognized by the local ecclesiastic authorities, she finally managed to obtain the support and agreement of her missionary ideal in Father Lorenzo Van Den Eerenbeemt, a Carmelite Father of the Ancient Order.  On May 17, 1925, she came to Rome for the canonization of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, and the next day, accompanied by father Lorenzo, she visited Santa Marinella, a small town on the Latium coast north of Rome.  She was struck by the natural beauty of this region, but also by the extreme poverty of a great number of this town’s inhabitants and it was here that she finally realized that she had reached her landing place.  Having obtained an oral permission “of experiment” from the bishop of the Diocese of Porto Santa Rufina, Cardinal Antonio Vico, on July 3,1925, she definitively settled in Santa Marinella, and on July 16 of the following year, she received the decree of affiliation of her small community with the Carmelite Order, hence sealing her belonging to Mary in the Carmel forever more.

In 1930, after many sufferings and crosses, her small nucleus obtained the recognition of the Church and Cardinal Tommaso Pio Boggiani, Ordinary of the diocese Porto Santa Rufina, erected the Congregation of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St. Therese of the Child Jesus as an institute of diocesan rights.

“To bring souls to God” is the objective that brought to life the numerous openings of educational and charitable institutions in Italy and abroad.  For this reason she urged her daughters to bring a Christian point of view to families.  She was able to achieve her missionary yearning in 1947 when, on the ashes of the second world war, she sent the first sisters to Brazil with the mandate to “never forget the poor”, continuing to dream of increasingly vast horizons towards which to drive the sails of her missionary Carmel.

With her entire life marked by poor health and diabetes, which she forced herself to always accept with strength and a serene adhesion to the will of God, she passed the last years of her life in illness, continuing to pray and to give of herself to her sisters, to whom she offers a precious example of virtues, which became all the more transparent and bright.

Her prayer was an imitate and constant dialogue with Jesus, the Father, and all the Blessed, inspired by a filial confidence, spousal love, sentiments of gratitude, praise, adoration and amends, that she sought to transmit, first of all, to her spiritual daughters and to all those who had the opportunity to know her through the example of her life, always nourishing the “desire to have holy daughters, eucharistic daughters, and daughters that know how to pray”.

She intensely cultivated the union of love with Christ in the Eucharist by giving all of herself to satisfy the desire to make amends “for the immense number of souls who do not know and do not love God” and by offering to be the victim of atonement along “with the Great Martyr of Love”.  An amends which made her capable of sharing the pains and anxieties of humanity; of becoming aware of their various needs, with charity and justice; of providing a voice to those who do not have one; and of perceiving the image of the Crucified Christ in those whose image had been distorted by pain and suffering.  For this reason she urged the sisters to “love with holiness the treasures with which the Divine Goodness entrusts you; the souls of the youth, the hope of the future.” And to not spare oneself in the service of the youth most humiliated and abandoned by “freeing in them the gold from the mud”, in order to restore in every creature the dignity and the image of being a child of God.

From the Mother of Jesus she learned to be a mother to those in need.  With St. Therese of the Child Jesus she found spiritual bliss in the “regular and faithful fulfilment of one’s duties”, doing “with love and dedication even the smallest deeds”; experiencing with humility and simplicity, joy and tenderness, every human relationship and everyday achieving that unity of life and faith “by peacefully combining” the untiring activity of Martha and the profound mysticism of Mary.

On July 4, 1957, in Santa Marinella, she serenely returned forever to Christ, her spouse, leaving behind in everyone’s heart a live memory of her love and of her holiness."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

All men are under obligation to make reparation

"Among the various devotions paid to the Sacred Heart, the one foremost in importance and interest is assuredly the Act of Consecration, whereby we give to the divine Heart of Jesus both ourselves and all that is ours; in recognition of the truth that all we have cometh unto us out of the infinite charity of the eternal Deity.  But it is expedient that any attempt of ours at self-consecration be accompanied with the purpose of making expiation (otherwise called reparation) to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  In consecration the predominant intention may be said to be the purpose to repay (as it were) the love of the Creator by the love of us his creatures.  But since Love Uncreate is passed over by human forgetfulness, and dishonoured by the sins of mankind, we should endeavour to repair such outrages; and the performance of this duty is ordinarily known as reparation.

If we are, for the aforesaid reasons, to undertake both of those practices, we must recognize that we are impelled to the duty of reparation by the most powerful motives of justice and love: of justice, in order to expiate the injury done to God by our sins, and to re-establish through penance the divine order which was violated by them; of love, in order to suffer together with Christ, (who patiently endured all possible dishonour,) so that we may offer him some solace in return for his sufferings.  For it is our duty to do more than honour God by the worship of adoration, whereby we adore his infinite Majesty, or by means of prayer, when we recognize his supreme dominion over us, or by acts of thanksgiving, when we praise his infinite generosity towards us.  Because we are sinners, burdened with many offences, we must also make satisfaction to the offended justice of God, because of the numberless sins, offences and negligences we have committed.  Wherefore, we must add to the act of consecration, by which we offer ourselves to God, and become thereby, as it were, sacred unto God by reason of the holiness which naturally floweth from an act of consecration, as the Angelic Doctor teacheth.  We must add the act of reparation, by means of which all our faults are blotted out, lest perchance the sanctity of Infinite Justice spurn our arrogant unworthiness, and look upon the gift of ourselves as something to be rejected rather than accepted.

All men are under obligation to make reparation; for our souls are disfigured as the Christian faith teacheth by original sin as a result of the pitiable fall of Adam.  We are also subject to passions, whereby we are corrupted in a truly sad state, and have thus made ourselves worthy of everlasting condemnation.  It is true that the proud philosophers of this world deny the aforesaid verities, and in their place do raise up again the ancient heresy of Pelagius: which taught that in human nature there is a certain innate goodness wherewith, by our own powers, we are raised up to ever higher levels of perfection; but such false theories, born of human pride, have been condemned by the Apostle in his saying that all men are by nature the children of wrath.  As a matter of fact, from the very beginning of the creation of the world, mankind recognized, in one way or another, the obligation of making reparation, impelled thereto, as by a natural instinct, in an endeavour to placate God by offering public sacrifices unto him."

-- From the Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius XI

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The priesthood of Christ is derived from sacrifice

"In what was done by Melchisedech the priest we recognize a type of the Sacrament of the Lord's Sacrifice.  For thus it is written in the writings of God: And Melchisedech, King of Salem, brought forth bread and wine, for he was the priest of the Most High God, and he blessed Abraham.  Concerning the fact that Melchisedech was a type of Christ, the Holy Ghost himself doth testify in the Psalms, where the First Person of the Holy Trinity (that is, the Father) is set before us as saying unto the Second Person (that is, the Son): Before the day-star have I begotten thee: Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedech.  And doubtless the sameness of order in the priesthood of Christ and of Melchisedech is derived from sacrifice, and proceedeth from this, namely; that Melchisedech was the priest of the Most High God; that he offered bread and wine; and that he blessed Abraham.

For who is so truly the priest of the Most High God as is our Lord Jesus Christ?  And he it is that hath made an offering unto God the Father, and the same offering that Melchisedech made, Bread and Wine, that is to say, his own Flesh and his own Blood.  And so far as Abraham is concerned, the blessing which Melchisedech gave him so long ago belongeth also to us.  For if Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness, verily then, whosoever believeth God and liveth by faith, the same is found righteous, and is made manifest unto us as one who hath thereby attained the blessing given faithful Abraham; which same is also justified as the Apostle Paul proveth, where he saith: Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness; know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham; and the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

To the end therefore, that this blessing of Abraham by Melchisedech the priest might be duly solemnized, it was preceded (as we are told in Genesis) by a symbolic sacrifice consisting of bread and wine.  Completing and fulfilling this sacrifice, our Lord Jesus Christ offered up bread, and a cup of wine mingled with water.  And thus he who came, (not to destroy, but to fulfil, the Law and the Prophets,) utterly satisfied all the implications prefigured in the oblation made by Melchisedech.  Through Solomon's Proverbs also did the Holy Ghost clearly foreshadow, as it were in a parable, the Lord's Sacrifice, saying: Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out seven pillars: referring thus to the Church.  In the same passage he pointeth to the victim slain, and the bread and wine, saying: She hath killed her beasts, she hath mingled her wine.  He pointeth to the altar in the words: She hath also furnished her table.  And to the apostolic priesthood in the words: She hath sent forth her servants, she crieth upon the highest places of the city, saying, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither unto me; as for them that want understanding, she saith to them, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled for you."

-- From the letter to Caecilius by St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr

Monday, June 27, 2011

"St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that 'the first thing that is necessary for every Christian is faith, without which no one is truly called a faithful Christian. Faith brings about four good effects. The first is that through faith the soul is united to God, and by it there is between the soul and God a union akin to marriage. 'I will espouse thee in faith.''

In other words, that Therese Martin should become St. Therese, a bride of Christ, should only appear logical to us in light of St. Thomas' doctrine. If espousal with God is the fruit of the act of faith, then this must also be a universal vocation and not something exclusive to consecrated souls. God's courtship of the soul begins in baptism. Certainly, the nature of love is that it must be freely offered and the response must also be given in freedom, but often God's proposal is left unrequited - hence, the scandal of sin. But when his offer is accepted whole-heartedly and with the radical response demanded of an authentic act of faith, then the soul enters into a marital covenant with God and takes upon itself all the dignity and privileges accorded to this state.

This faithful matrimonial love implies total participation in the life of one's spouse, experiencing in one's own soul the spouse's interior and exterior trials. Naturally, St. Therese of Lisieux, faithful spouse to Christ, could do no less than offer herself together with her divine Spouse as an expiatory victim for the salvation of sinners.

Her formal relationship with Christ and her new insertion into his life began fittingly on Christmas. Also fittingly, her relationship with him on earth would end on Calvary.

Between Bethlehem and Calvary, St. Therese of Lisieux would share in her Spouse's joys, sorrows, trials and always his peace. Further, like her Spouse, she could not remain indifferent to his rejection by so many souls. Her relationship with these souls began under the auspices of maternal love and intercession. It would transform with time into fraternal love and solidarity - and the vicarious suffering to which both loves expose themselves."

-- St. Therese of Lisieux: Spouse and Victim by Cliff Ermatinger