Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Fourth Week after Epiphany.
'Prayer' - part 2 of the chapter form the book by Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen OCD, "Unity with God according to St John of the Cross".

St John of the Cross wants us to pray, uniting faith and love. For him, faith is the obscure but secure adhesion to the divine word, which particularly reveals to us the divine transcendence, the supreme grandeur of our God, who is so sublime, and so good, so omnipotent, but also so merciful. Faith places us in the presence of God as He is; not that it makes us see Him, but it makes us believe, and so places our intellect in contact with Him. Faith is then followed by charity, understanding by love. The soul that believes intensely that God is truly God, that He is the supreme Being to whom we all belong and who merits all our love, will love Him vehemently, and then will be fulfilled in him that which the Saint promised here: "The soul will merit that love will reveal what faith contains in itself" (Canticle I,II); thus faith speaks to us of the divine transcendence above all creatures. Love will make us delight in it and almost experience it; love will do this in contemplative prayer. The love of charity however is pure benevolence toward God; its purity is the condition of its perfection and its intensity. Thus this love ought to consist in one sole desire, that of pleasing God, without seeking self-satisfaction. It will not be directed to God in view of His gifts, but only for Him, meriting to be loved in the highest degree for His infinite lovableness. Our prayer perhaps is not yet so disinterested, so theocentric so purely directed toward the divine interests, interests that Jesus in the Pater Noster teaches us to put always in the first place: Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done. - We will sometimes be tempted to put in the first place: give us this day our daily bread, including in this bread all our interest, all our satisfaction. Although God wishes to grant us all we need from Him (He makes us ask for this precisely), He wishes however that we subordinate our satisfaction to His will, and to the fulfillment of the divine plans which, besides, aim only at procuring man's supernatural happiness. If we do not as yet find ourselves at this moral and spiritual height, nothing on that account hinders us from tending to it. As we possess divine grace, we can legitimately hope that, by maturing this grace within us, and together with its tendencies to raise us to God and to unite us to Him, we will at last arrive there. Hence there is also hope for us that prayer may one day become that intense exercise of faith and charity in which "love reveals what faith contains in itself", in which, namely, love lets us enjoy what faith simply teaches, and so communicates the "sense of God": of His uniqueness, of His grandeur, of His transcendence.
If this initial and quasi experimental perception of God then increases in our soul, why should not the Saint's promise regarding contact with God present in the soul also be accomplished in us?"... Then in the secret place you will feel Him and you will love Him and will enjoy Him... above all that language and sense can attain." (Canticle I,9)
The Spiritual Canticle which from its first lines places before our eyes a vision so enchanting, prospects so immense, and a doctrinal synthesis so rich and well-balanced, seems therefore the book most suitable for fully understanding our Saint.
From the beginning of the meditation on the first strophe, we already know where the Saint wants to lead us; to the summit of contemplative union with God, where the soul, still on earth, attains a certain possession of Him by feeling Him and enjoying Him. Not only that, but the Saint has put it, I would say, almost under our eyes, so close is the union to us, since that God with whom we are to be united already present in the soul, or rather, dwelling in it, He offers Himself to it to be known and loved. With knowledge and love, then, we will come near to God. However, this knowledge and this love are exercised especially in prayer, will not develop and will not attain the necessary intensity unless they are nourished in the climate of abnegation and renunciation of the creatures. There are two wings with which the soul rises to divine union: mortification and prayer, that is, spoliation and recollection, or in other words, detachment and prayer. We have already learned their necessity, and we have also understood that these means, indicated by the Saint, are within reach of all Christian souls, not only of religious, but also of persons in the world: to these latter also are possible therefore the beautiful achievement described by the Saint. For that reason we will gladly follow the Saint now in his lesson of total detachment; we will no longer fear his demands. It is with the pain of imposing on ourselves a little effort to reach so sublime a goal, to embrace a little suffering in order to attain even on this earth, so serene a joy. Let us conclude with St John:
"Arise, then beautiful soul; since you know that your so-desired Beloved dwells in your heart, endeavor to be well hidden with Him, and in your breast embrace Him and you will feel Him with tenderness of love." (Canticle I,10)
Next: Stanza II of Spiritual Canticle Read whole post......

Monday, January 30, 2006

Fourth Week after Epiphany.
'Prayer' chapter from the book "Union with God according to St. John of the Cross" by Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD 1990 reprint of 1961 edition. Part I

...After having invited us, by the renunciation of excessive preoccupations regarding created things, to descent into the inmost seclusion of our spirit where we are in the presence of God, the Saint continues:"Here, with the door closed behind you, that is with the will closed to everything, pray to your Father in secret."
These words of the Saint recall the teaching of Jesus with respect to the conditions for good prayer: "When you wish to pray, enter into your room, close the door, and pray there to your heavenly Father; and your heavenly Father, who sees what is done in secret, will repay you. "(Matt.6,6)
Jesus, to teach us to pray well, begins by making us withdraw from creatures. St. John of the Cross has only expounded the teachings of Jesus; we see here why his doctrine has the universal character of the gospel doctrine. Let us pay attention therefore with faith to what he teaches us regarding prayer. The search for God comprises a double movement, the first of separation from creatures, the second of approach to God. In what way, then, do we approach Him? Listen to the Saint's instructions: "You hear a word full of substance and of inaccessible truth: seek it in faith and in love, without wishing to derive satisfaction from anything, neither enjoying it, nor understanding it, any more than one is obliged to do. (Canticle 1,11).
The Saint is teaching us pure prayer, prayer in which the soul seeks God and not itself, in that it does not wish to find its own satisfaction, but to give satisfaction to God. How mean are the concepts we often have of our relations with God! It seems that certain persons pray only to achieve their particular ends, or rather only to succeed with the help of the Lord, in obtaining what they cannot procure through their own efforts. Then if they do not quickly obtain what they desire they become impatient, and are almost offended, as if God ought to be benevolently at the service of their human interests. How shallow is our sense of the divine transcedence! We are not the masters but He. He has created and prepared us for His glory, so that we will be able to procure the accomplishment of His most holy will in everything. That is the reality of things that we sometimes turn upside down, carried away by the impetuousity of our desires.
In St John of the Cross we find instead a most profound sense of the divine supereminence. God is, and we, of ourselves, we are nothing; we exist only through God. God is the center of the universe, not we. Our perfection and holiness consist in being united to Him, not in becoming persons who have "brought their talent of humanity to the greatest and most harmonious development", as a recent "formula of sanctity" would have us believe. To speak in this way one must have lost the sense of supernatural realities which, strictly speaking, are "super human" and with which alone man may attain holiness.
It is divine grace that makes us live in God and God in us. This will certainly bring about the harmony of all our faculties which will all apply themselves in concert, each according to its own mode, to procure with their operations "the honour and glory of God". This is simply an effect of holiness which, as Pope Pius XI of venerated memory one day admirably defined it, is none other than "the Christian life carried out according to the thought and desire of the divine Inventor". Holiness is not anthropocentric, it is theocentric! Holiness is not simply human life, it is Christian life, and that signifies the supernaturalization of human life, through the working of divine grace. In our days, one needs to insist on the divine transcendence, on its absolute elevation above all creatures, even above us human creatures, made by Him and for Him. We ourselves are not to dictate laws of to God, but He imposes them on us, and imposing them, He indicates to us the way of true happiness , the way that leads to union with Him in which our beatitude consists. We cannot be truly and entirely happy unless we are united to our Principle. True happiness of the present life consists in being united with God even on earth. We will procure this happiness for ourselves by seeking to please our God, entering into His divine plan, through which we are prepared to render Him honour and glory. The surest way to become happy is to seek to serve God in everything, forgetting ourselves.
It is exactly this disinterested search for God that our Saint recommends when he teaches: "Seek Him in faith and in love, without wishing to draw satisfaction from anything". Oh, how pleasing to the Lord is the prayer of a heart detached from itself that seeks only to please Him, who truly merits this sincere and total homage from His creature! Read whole post......

Sunday, January 29, 2006

29th of January

Feast of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church.
Born in a castle to a well-placed family, his parents intended that he become a lawyer, enter politics, and carry on the family line and power. Studied at La Roche, Annecy, Clermont College in Paris, and law at the University of Padua. Doctor of Law. He returned home, and found a position as Senate advocate. It was at this point that he received a message telling him to "Leave all and follow Me." He took this as a call to the priesthood, a move his family fiercely opposed. However, he pursued a devoted prayer life, and his gentle ways won over the family. Provost of the diocese of Geneva, Switzerland, a stronghold of Calvinists. Preacher, writer and spiritual director in the district of Chablais. His simple, clear explanations of Catholic doctrine, and his gentle way with everyone, brought many back to the Roman Church. Bishop of Geneva at age 35. Travelled and evangelized throughout the Duchy of Savoy, working with children whenever he could. Friend of Saint Vincent de Paul. Turned down a wealthy French bishopric. Helped found the Order of the Visitation with Saint Jeanne de Chantal. Prolific correspondent (information from the Patron Saint Index).
In the lesson 5 in the Matins for today Feast, we read:....He had to suffer the harshest treatment on the part of the heretics, who frequently sought to take his life, calumniated him, and laid plots against him. But he showed heroic courage in the midst of all these dangers and persecutions, and, by the divine assistance, converted, as it is stated, seventy two thousand heretics to the Catholic faith, among whom were many distinguished by high position and by learning.

O, God, by whose gracious will blessed Francis, thy Confessor and Bishop, became all things unto all men for the saving of their souls; mercifully grant, that, being filled with the sweetness of thy love, we may, through the guidance of his counsel and by the aid of his merits, attain unto the joys of life eternal. Through our Lord.

Let us reflect on the excerpt from Saint Francis writing in His famous treatise "Introduction to the devout life" The Newmann Press, 1951. This fragment is compatible with main meditation theme, based on today's Liturgy which encourage us to have unfailing confidence in Our Lord's love and mercy in difficulties and temptations of our everyday life; in all these innumerable little obstacles on the way to Christian perfection.

Chapter VIII
That we must resist small temptations.

Although we must fight great temptations with invincible courage, and although the victory which we gain over them is very profitable to us, yet perhaps we may be able to gain great greater profit in fighting well against small temptations; for just as the great temptations surpass the small ones in quality, so the small ones surpass the great ones so much in number, that the victory over these may be comparable to that over the greater ones. Wolves and bears are certainly more dangerous than flies, but they do not cause us so much annoyance, nor do they exercise our patience so much. It is easy to refrain from murder, but it is difficult to avoid those little outbursts of anger, whereof the occasions present themselves every moment. It is easy for a man or a woman to refrain from adultery, but it is not easy to refrain from amorous glances, from giving or receiving love, from seeking little favours, from saying and receiving words of flattery. It is easy to admit of no rival to the husband or to the wife, as far as the body is concerned, but it is not so easy to do the same in regard to the heart; very easy not to defile the marriage bed, but very difficult to refrain from everything that may be injurious to married love; easy not to steal the goods of others, but difficult to refrain from envy and covetousness; easy not to bear false witness in a court of law, but difficult never to lie in conversation; easy never to get drunk, but difficult always to be temperate; easy never to desire the death of another, but difficult never to wish ill to him; easy never to defame him, but difficult never to despise him.
In a word, these little temptations to anger, suspicion, jealousy, envy, flirtation, frivolity, vanity, duplicity, affectation, artifice, impure thoughts, continually exercise those very persons who are most devout and resolute; and therefore, my dear Philotea, we must prepare ourselves for this combat with great care and diligence; and rest assured that for every victory which we gain over these little enemies, a precious stone will be set in the crown of glory which God is preparing for us in heaven. It is for this reason that I say, that whilst we must be ready to fight well and valiantly against great temptations, should they come, we must defend ourselves well and diligently against these little and weak assaults.

Chapter IX
Of remedies against small temptations

Now, as to these small temptaions to vanity, suspicion, peevishness, jealousy, envy, flirtation, and such like follies, which like flies and midgets, hover before our eyes, and sometimes sting us on the cheek, sometimes on the nose, because it is impossible to be altogether free from their importunity, the best way of resisting them is not to allow ourselves to be worried by them; for they cannnot hurt us, although they can annoy us, provided that we are firmly resolved to serve God.
Despise, then, these little attacks, and do not so much as think of what they suggest, but let them buzz about your ears as much as they like, and fly here and there about you, just as we do with the flies; and when they are about to sting you, and you see them settling on your heart, do nothing more than quite quietly to drive them away, not fighting against them, nor answering them, but performing acts contrary to them, whatever they may be, and especially acts of the love of God. For if you will believe me, you will not persist in wishing to oppose to the temptation which you feel the virtue which is contrary to it, because that would be, as it were, to have a mind to dispute with it; but after having performed an act of the contrary virtue, if you have had the leisure to recognize the quality of temptation, you will turn your heart simply towards Jesus Christ Crucified, and by an act of love of him, you will kiss his sacred feet. It is the best way to overcome the enemy both in small and great temptations, for the love of God, containing in itself all the perfections of all the virtues, and more excellently than the virtues themselves, is also a sovereign remedy against all vices; and your soul, accustoming herself in all temptations to resort to this general rendezvous, will not be obliged to consider and examine what the temptations she has had; but on feeling herself troubled, she will without more ado ask calm in this great remedy, which is, moreover, so terrifying to the evil spirit, that, when he sees that these temptations stir us up to this divine love, he ceases to trouble us with them.
So much for the little and frequent temptations; whosoever would occupy himself with them in detail would waste his time and accomplish nothing. Read whole post......

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Saturday - Day of Our Lady

Third Week after Epiphany. The Virtues of Mary. From "The Glories of Mary" by St. Alphonsus of Liquori. TAN Books reprint from 1868 edition.

Section II. Of Mary's Charity towards God.
Saint Anselm says, that 'wherever there is the greatest purity, there is also the greatest charity' (ubi major puritas, ibi major charitas). The more a heart is pure, and empty of itself, the greater is the fulness of its love toward God. The most holy Mary, because she was all humility, and had nothing of self in her, was filled with divine love, so that 'her love towards God surpassed that of all men and angels' (Serm. de Glor. Nom. M. art.I cap.2) as Saint Bernardine writes. Therefore Saint Francis of Sales with reason called her 'the Queen of love'. God has indeed given men the precept to love Him with their whole hearts, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart;" (Matt. XXII.37) but, as Saint Thomas declares, 'this commandment will be fully and perfectly fulfilled by men in heaven alone, and not on earth, where it is only fulfilled imperfectly'.(2.2.q.XXIV.art.8). On this subject, blessed Albert the Great remarks, that, in a certain sense, it would have been unbecoming had God given a precept which was never to have been perfectly fulfilled. But this would have been the case, had not the Divine Mother perfectly fulfilled it. The Saint says, 'Either some one fulfilled this precept, or no one; if any one, it must have been the Most Blessed Virgin. (Sup.Missus.q.135). Richard of Saint Victor confirms this opinion, saying, 'The Mother of our Emmanuel practised virtues in their very highest perfection. Who has ever fulfilled as she did that first commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord the God with thy whole heart"? In her Divine love was so ardent, that no defect of any kind could have access to her.' (Lib. II. de Emanuele, cap.29,30). 'Divine love', says Saint Bernard, 'so penetrated and filled the soul of Mary, that no part of her was left untouched; so that she loved with her whole heart, with her whole soul, with her whole strength, and was full of grace. Therefore Mary could well say, "My beloved has given Himself all to me, and I to Him". 'Ah! well might even the Seraphim', says Richard, 'have descended from heaven to learn, in the heart of Mary, how to love God'.
God, who is love (1 Joan, IV.8), came on earth to enkindle in the hearts of all the flame of His Divine love; but in no heart did He enkindle it so much as in that of His Mother; for her heart was entirely pure from all earthly affections, and fully prepared to burn with this blessed flame. Thus Saint Sophronius says, that 'Divine love so inflamed her, that nothing earthly could enter her affections; she was always burning with the heavenly flame, and, so to say, inebriated with it'. Hence the heart of Mary became all fire and flames, as we read of her in the sacred Canticles: "The lamps thereof are fire and flames, burning within through love, as Saint Anselm explains it, and flames shining without, by the example she gave to all in the practice of virtues. When Mary, then, was in this world, and bore Jesus in her arms, she could well be called, 'fire carrying fire'; and with far more reason than a woman spoken of by Hippocrates, who was thus called because she carried fire in her hand. Yes, for Saint Ildephonsus said, that 'the Holy Ghost heated, inflamed, and melted Mary with love, as fire does iron; so that the flame of this Holy Spirit was seen, and nothing was felt but the fire of the love of God. Saint Thomas of Villanova says, that the bush seen by Moses, which burnt without being consumed, was a real symbol of Mary's heart. Therefore with reason, says Saint Bernard, was she seen by Saint John clothed with the sun: "and there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun;" 'for', continues the Saint, she was so closely united to God by love, and penetrated so deeply the abyss of divine wisdom, that, without a personal union with God, it would seem impossible for a creature to have a closer union with Him'.
Hence Saint Bernardine of Sienna asserts that the most Holy Virgin was never tempted by hell; for, he says: 'As flies are driven away by a great fire, so were the evil spirits driven away by her ardent love; so much so, that they did not even dare to approach her'. Richard of Saint Victor also says, that 'the Blessed Virgin was terrible to the princes of darkness, so that they did not presume to tempt or approach her; for the fire of her charity deterred them.(In Cant.cap.XXVI)' Mary herself revealed to Saint Bridget, that in this world she never had any thought, desire, or joy, but in and for God: 'I thought, 'she said, 'of nothing but God, nothing pleased me but God; so that her blessed soul being in the almost continual contemplation of God whilst on earth, the acts of love which she formed were innumerable, as father Suarez writes:'The acts of perfect charity formed by the Blessed Virgin in this life, were without the number; for nearly the whole of her life, was spent in contemplation, and in that state she constantly repeated acts of love. But a remark of Bernanrdine de Bustis pleases me still more: he says that Mary did not so much repeat acts of love as other saints do, but that her whole life was one continued act of it; for, by a special privilage, she always actually loved God. As a royal eagle, she always kept her eyes fixed on the Divine Sun of Justice: 'so that' Saint Peter Damian says, ;the duties of active love did not prevent her from loving, and love did not prevent her from attending to these duties.' Therefore Saint Germanus says, that the altar of propitiation, on which the fire was never extinguished day or night, was a type of Mary. Neither was sleep an obstacle to Mary's love for God; since Saint Augustine asserts, 'the dreams, when sleeping, of our first parents, in their state of innocence, were as happy as their lives when waking; and if such a privilage were granted them, it certainly cannot be denied that it was also granted to the Divine Mother, as Suarez, the Abbot Rupert, and Saint Bernardine fully admit. Saint Ambrose is also of this opinon; for speaking of Mary, he says, 'while her body rested, her soul watched, verifying in herself the words of the wise man: "Her lamp shall not be put out in the night." Yes, for while her blessed body took its necessary repose in the gentle sleep, 'her soul' says Saint Bernardine, 'freely tended towards God; so much so, that she was then wrapped in more perfect contemplation than any other person ever was when awake. Therefore could she well say with the Spouse in the Canticles, "I sleep, and my heart wacheth." (Cant.V.2). 'As happy in sleep as awaking', as Suarez says. In fine, Saint Bernardine asserts, that as long as Mary lived in this world she was continually loving God: 'The mind of the Blessed Virgin was always wrapped in the ardour of love'. The Saint moreover adds, that she never did anything which the Divine Wisdom did not show her to be pleasing to Him; and that she loved God as much as she thought He was to be loved by her; so much so, indeed, that, according to blessed Albert the Great, we can well say that Mary was filled with so great charity, that greater was not possible in any pure creature on earth. Hence saint Thomas of Villanova affirms, that by her ardent charity the Blessed Virgin, became so beautiful, and enamoured her God, that, captivated as it were by her love, He descended into her womb and become man. Wherefore Saint Bernardine exclaims, 'Behold the power of the Virgin Mother: she wounded and took captive the heart of God.'
But since Mary loves God so much, there can be nothing which she so much requires of her clients as that they also should love Him with their utmost. This precisely she one day told blessed Angela of Foligno after communion, saying, 'Angela, be thou blessed by my Son, and endeavour to love Him as much as thou canst'. She also said to Saint Bridget, 'Daughter, if thou desirest to bind me to thee, love my Son'. Mary desires nothing more that to see her beloved, who is God, loved. Novarinus asks why the Blessed Virgin, with the Spouse in the Canticles, begged the angels to make the great love she bore Him known to Our Lord, saying, "I adjure you, O daugthers of Jerusalem, if you find my Beloved, that you tell Him that I languish with love." Did not God know how much she loved Him? 'Why did she seek to show the wound to her Beloved, since He it was who had inflicted it?' The same author answers, that the Divine Mother thereby wished to make her love known to us, not to God; that as she was herself wounded, so might she also be enabled to wound us with Divine love. And 'because Mary was all on fire with the love of God, all who love and approach her are inflamed by her with this same love; for she renders them like unto herself'. For this same reason Saint Catherine of Sienna called Mary 'the bearer of fire', the bearer of the flame of Divine love. If we also desire to burn with these blessed flames of Divine love, let us endeavour always to draw nearer to our Mother by our prayers and the affections of our souls. Ah, Mary, thou Queen of love, of all creatures the most amiable, the most beloved, and the most loving, as Saint Francis of Sales addressed thee, - my own sweet Mother, thou wast always and in all things inflamed with love towards God; deign, then, to bestow at least a spark of it in me. Thou didst pray thy Son for the spouses whose wine had failed: "They have no wine". And wilt thou not pray for us, in whom the love of God, whom we are under such obligations to love, is wanting? Say also, 'They have no love', and obtain us this love. This is the only grace for which we ask. O Mother, by the love thou bearest to Jesus, graciously hear and pray for us. Amen
Read whole post......

Friday, January 27, 2006

Third Week after Epiphany.
"The way that leads to God - practical counsel for those who aspire after true piety" by Abbot A.Saudreau, R&T Washbourne, LTD, London 1911.
On recollection and the union with God, part 3. How the mind should be nourished with the Holy Thoughts.

92. It is impossible, as a matter of fact, to maintain the intelligence in a state of absolute repose; the mind is incessantly at work; thought is as necessary to it as air is to the lungs. According to the Fathers of the desert, as transmitted by Cassian (Conf.,I,18), our minds are the mills, the wheels of which, set in motion by the water of the river, communicate a continuous movement to the millstones. The river's flowing does not depend upon the human will, but lies in the power of the master to decide whether the mill should be employed in the grinding of wheat, barley, or tares. So we are free to offer to our minds either idle thoughts or salutary reflections. Often, it is true, we shall not be the absolute masters; in spite of us, the mill will fill itself with trifles and vanities. These will be the tares which find their way in; but often, also, we shall provide it with materials for its labours, and we shall constrain it to produce for our heart's nourishment pure and strengthening food.

93. Amongst all the holy thoughts that might occupy our minds, which should we prefer? We must consult the supernatural instincts implanted in us by the Holy Spirit, and return faithfully to those truths which He renders ever more and more luminous and attractive to us. Some are taken captive, as it were, by the thought of the salvation of souls. The picture of the Good Shepherd, seeking after His lost sheep, lavishing His devotion upon them, desiring at all costs of snatching them from the evil which threatens them, is ever before their eyes. To these the Divine Master communicates His burning zeal for souls. Others feel themselves constantly drawn towards the Tabernacle; the Most Adorable Sacrament is the centre of all their thoughts, of their care, their love. Some nourish their hearts with meditations upon the Holy Childhood and the Holy Family; they steep themselves in the simplicity and the humility of Nazareth. Others are never at rest away from Calvary; they are penetrated with the patience and the love of the Cross.
But whatever the virtue for which the individual soul feels an attraction, it is important that we should not consider it in itself, after the manner of the philosophers, contenting themselves with examining its foundation and weighing its advantages. We should be in great danger of not considering it long under its supernatural aspects, and of passing involuntarily from the thought of this virtue to some worldly consideration. The heart which is made for God must have God Himself. We must look at each virtue of Jesus, the model of all virtues, rising from the consideration of His Sacred Humanity to the thought of His Divinity. Jesus is the Way that leads to the Father. He calls the faithful soul, bidding it plunge into that infinite ocean of beauty and love in which it is to take delight, and from which it will never again entirely emerge, even when it applies itself to its ordinary and profane duties. For so it is that, whatever the road by which it has come to God, when once a soul has found Him and tasted of His sweetness, it can never again depart from Him; for it finds in Him its light and its strength, its joy and its all. Such is the life of faith in its full perfection, and thus the just soul live by faith - justus ex fide vivit. Read whole post......

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Third Week after Epiphany
"Spiritual Canticle" by St. John of the Cross. 'Stanza the First' cont. Translation by E. Allison Peers, Image Books edition, 1961


11. There can be no medicine for the wounds of love save that which comes from him that dealt the wounds. For this cause the soul says that she went out, calling - that is, after Him that had wounded her - begging for medicine and crying out at the violence of the burning that was caused by the wound. And it must be known that this going out is understood in two ways: the one, a going forth from all things, which she does by holy abhorrence of herself through love of God; and this raises her after such wise that it makes her to go out from herself and from her judgment and the ways that are natural to her, and to call for God. And to these two ways of going forth the soul refers when she says: 'I went out'; for both these, and no less, are needful for one that would go after God and enter within Him. And thus it is as if though she said: By this Thy torch and wound of love, my Spouse, Thou hast drawn me forth, not only from all things, from which Thou hast far withdrawn me, but likewise from myself (for truly it seems at such a time that God is drawing the soul away from her very flesh) and hast raised me up to Thyself, so that I cry for Thee and loose myself from all things that I may cling to Thee. 'And thou wert gone'.

12. As though she had said: At the time when I desired to possess Thy presence I found Thee not, and for Thy sake I remained empty and loosed from all things, and yet I bound not myself to Thee; I was buffeted woefully by the gales of love and found support neither in myself nor in Thee. This going forth in order to go to God, as the soul here terms it, is called by the Bride in the Songs to 'rise', where she says: I will rise and go about the city; in the streets and the broad ways I will seek
Him Whom my soul loveth. I sought Him and I found Him not. This rising is here understood, spiritually, as of an ascent from the low to the high, which is the same as to go out from oneself - that is, from one's own low way of life and love of self to the high love of God. But she gives it to be understood that she was afflicted because she found Him not. Thus one that is enamoured of God goes through this life ever in affliction, for he is already surrendered to God, and has expectation of being paid in the same coin - to wit, by the surrender to him of the clear possession and vision of God, for which he 'calls' and which in this life is not granted him. He has lost himself already for love of God, yet has found no gain to compensate him for his loss, for he lacks the said possession of the Beloved for which he lost himself. Wherefore, if a man goes about afflicted for God, it is sign that he has given himself to God and that he loves Him.

13. This affliction and sorrow for the absence of God is wont to be so great in those that are approaching ever nearer to perfection, at the time of these Divine wounds, that, if the Lord provided not for them, they would die. For, as they have kept the palate of the will and the spirit clean, healthy and well prepared for God, and as in that experience whereof we have spoken He gives that to taste something of the sweetness of love, for which they yearn above all things. For there is shown to them in glimpses an immense good and it is not granted to them; wherefore their affliction and torment are unspeakable. Read whole post......

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Third Week after Epiphany. 25th January.
Conversion of St. Paul. Fragments from "The Liturgical Year, vol3, Christmas Book 2, by Dom Prosper Gueranger OSB, Jubilee Edition, 2002

...Oh! the power of our dear Jesus! How wonderful! how irresistible! He wishes that the first worshippers at His Crib should be humble Shepherds- and he invites them by his Angels, whose sweet hymn is enough to lead these simple-hearted men to the Stable, where, in swaddling-clothes, he lies who is the hope of Israel. He would have the Gentiles Princes, the Magi, do him homage - and bids a star to arise in the heavens, whose mysterious apparition, joined to the interior speaking of the Holy Ghost, induces these men of desire to come from the far East, and lay at the feet of an humble Babe their riches and their hearts. When the time is come for forming the Apostolic College, he approaches the banks of the sea of Tiberias, and with this single word: Follow me, he draws after him such as he wishes to have as his Disciples. In the midst of all the humiliations of his Passion, he has but look at the unfaithful Peter, and Peter is a penitent. Today, it is from heaven that he evinces his power: all the mysteries of our redemption have been accomplished, and he wishes to show mankind that he is the sole author and master of the Apostolate, and that his alliance with the Gentiles is now perfect: he speaks; the sound of his reproach bursts like thunder over the head of the Pharisee, who is bent on annihilating the Church; he takes this heart of the Jew, and, by his grace, turns it into the heart of the Apostle, the Vessel of the election, the Paul who is afterwards to say of himself: I live, not I, but Christ liveth in me (Gal. II 20).
The commemoration of this event was to be a Feast in the Church, and it had a right to be kept as near as might be to the one which celebrates the martydrom of St. Stephen, for Paul is the Protomartyr's convert. The anniversary of his martydrom would, of course, have to be solemnized at the summer solstice; where, then, place the feast of his Conversion if not near Christmas, and thus our own Apostle would be at Jesus' Crib, and Stephen's side? Moreover, the Magi, could claim him, as being the conqueror of that Gentile world of which they were the first-fruits. And lastly, it was necessary, in order to give the court of our Infant-King its full beauty, that the two Princes of the Church - the Apostle of the Jews, and the Apostle of the Gentiles - should stand close to the mystic Crib; Peter with his Keys, and Paul with his Sword. Bethlehem thus becomes the perfect figure of the Church, and the riches of this season of the Cycle are abundant beyond measure. Let us borrow from the ancient Liturgies a suitable expression of our admiration of our Apostle's Conversion. The following Sequence, which belongs to the tenth century, is found in the old Missals of the Churches of Germany. It is full of mysterious allusions, which bear a certain grandeur of thoughts.

The Lord said: I will turn him from Basan (the land of bareness); I will turn him into the deep sea (of my faith)
What he said he did, when he prostrated Saul, and raised him up Paul.
By his Incarnate Word, by whom also he made the world.
It was whilst opposing this Word, that the Jew heard the voice: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
I am Christ: it is hard for thee to kick against the goad.
The earth was moved at the presence of the Lord; it trembled and then was at rest.
Paul, when he knew the Lord Jesus, believed, and ceased to persecute Christians.
He became, O God, the tongue of thy faithful ones; leaving thine enemies, he returned to thee.
For it is Paul who, by the mouth of the priests throughout the world, proclaims the commandments,
Teaching that the Crucified is no other than God, the Christ,
Who reigneth with the Father and the Holy Ghost; and Paul is his witness.
By the light of his teaching the priests meditate on the law and the Gospel; and by these, as with two mill-stones, have pounded.
And prepared every spiritual medicine, whereby the wounded are healed, and the hungry are fed.
O Jesus! hear his prayers for us sinners; turn to us; give us life;
Who didst turn Paul into a true convert, for the sake of all who are to return to thee,
and didst make him the vessel of election.
When he preached God to men, the sea beheld and fled, the Jordan was turned back,
Because the multitude of the nations, returning from the depths of sin, to the confusion of Og the King of Basan,
Now adore but thee, O Christ! their creator, whom they believe to have come in the flesh to redeem them. Amen Read whole post......

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Third Week after Epiphany.
"On recollection and union with God" part 2. From "The Way that leads to God - Practical counsels for those who aspire after true piety" by Abbot A. Saudreau, R&T Washbourne, LTD 1911.

2. Conflict with useless thoughts
90. What ceaseless vigilance is necessary for those who desire to live the life of faith! They must repress the activity of the mind, struggle against the flood of idle thoughts which invade it in spite of themselves, and preserve interior silence - a much more difficult and more important achievement than the silence which is exterior. This is the great battle which all souls aspiring after the perfect life must fight, and those who fight it ill can never live the life of faith, will never attain to perfection. Many and diverse are the thoughts which come to harass the poor human mind; those minor incidents of life - things which have no importance whatsoever, and which we ought to forget as soon as they have passed - return incessantly to our memories, suggesting the most useless reflections. We are occupied about things which we cannot alter; our neighbour's mistakes, his blunders, his wrongdoings, excite our indignation. Instead of asking God to enlighten our brethren and to correct their faults, we sit in judgment upon them in our minds. Politics also furnish their contingent of idle thoughts, for the march of events is not affected by our cogitations. But, more than any others, personal things are the chief source of our idle thinking. We occupy ourselves with criticism which may have been passed upon us, or which we might encounter in the future, or with the praise which we fancy that we deserve; we think how we might have acted on some bygone occasion and what the results would have then have been. And how tenacious and deeply rooted these vain thoughts are! Expel them, and back they come again, like importunate flies which will not be driven away; they renew their buzzing, repeating incessantly what they have already said.
And even when our reflections are legitimate, they often become useless when prolonged. To reflect upon the best means to of performing our duty, to consider the proper steps to be taken, to weight the consequences of our actions, is certainly commendable. But when once we have reviewed the circumstances and decided our course of action, a repetition of the same process becomes idle, and it is usually a sign that the individual is more concerned as to his personal success or possible humiliations than with the desire to please God. If half an hour's reflection is sufficient, and then for half a day we go over and over the same objections, giving the identical replies; if we fall back incessantly into the same preoccupations; of we constantly hold up to ourselves the same hopes - what precious time shall we not have lost?
91. Everyone allows that this mental labour is generally useless, and all fervent souls recognize and deplore the fact that it is very prejudicial to any advance in virtue. There are few, however, who will bring to bear the courage and energy necessary for its curtailment. The mortification of the imagination or of the memory is rarer that the practice of bodily austerities, little as this is understood; and the reason is that it is even more difficult and painful. The maxims of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Ignatius - "Be like a corpse" (Perinde ac cadaver) - might be applied here, with a slight variation of its original sense. Be dead to all earthly things - to all those, at any rate, with which you have no concern, or which you have no power to change. To all that happens give only the least possible measure of your attention, sufficient to enable you to fulfil your social duties and to prevent you appearing as an alien amongst your fellow-men. Fix your thoughts on such things only as you are responsible for, and even here let there be no disturbance and anxiety. And, finally, direct your mind, emptied of all earthly thoughts, towards the things of God.

Next: How the mind should be nourished with the Holy Thoughts. Read whole post......

Monday, January 23, 2006

Excerpts from "The Practice of the Presence of God" by Br Lawrence of the Resurrection

The fourth conversation. November 25, 1667
Brother Lawrence spoke to me, openly and with deep fervour, about his way of going to God of which I have already related somewhat.
He told me that it consist in one good act of renunciation of all those things which we recognize do not lead to God, so that we may accustom ourselves to a continual communion with Him; a communion devoid both of vagueness and of artifice. We need only to realize that God is close to us and to turn to Him at every moment, to ask for His help to learn His will in doubtful things, and to do gladly those which we clearly perceive He requires of us, offering them to Him before we begin, and giving Him thanks when they have been finished for His honour.
That in this uninterrupted communion we are unceasingly occupied in praising, worshipping and loving God for His infinite goodness and perfection. That we ought confidently to beseech His grace, not regarding our sins, but relying upon infinite merits of our Lord. He had sensibly experienced that God never fails to offer His grace at our every action; but we do not perceive it when our minds have wandered from God, or if we have forgotten to ask His aid. That in times of doubt God will always enlighten us, provided that we wish only to please Him and act for His love. That our sanctification does not depend upon certain works, but upon doing for God that which we ordinarily do for ourselves. It was sad to see that so many people mistake the means for the end, who for reasons of human respect attach great importance to works which they do very imperfectly. That he found the best way of reaching God was through those ordinary occupations which (so far as he was concerned) he received under obedience: doing them for the love of God and with as little regard for human respect as possible. That it was a great delusion to imagine that prayer time should be different from any other, for we are equally bound to be united to God by work at work-time as by prayer at prayer-time.
That his prayer was simply to realize the presence of God, at which time, his soul was unconscious of aught else but love; and afterwards he found scarcely any difference, for he continued with God, praising and blessing Him with all his might. And so, he passed his life in unbroken joy; yet hoping that God would give him, somewhat, to suffer when he should grow stronger.
That we ought once and for all to make an act of faith in God that He would not delude us, and so make a complete surrender to Him. That we ought not to get tired of doing little things for the love of God, because He looks at the love rather than the work. And we need not be surprised at our frequent failures at first; the time will come when we shall make our acts naturally and with gladness.
That in order to submit entirely to the will of God, faith, hope and charity alone are necessary. Other considerations are unimportant and only to be used as a bridge to be passed over quickly on the way to abnegation, by confidence and love, in the Origin of all things. That all things are possible to him that believes, less difficult to him that hopes, still less difficult to him that loves, and easiest of all to him that persevers in all three virtues. That the end we ought to purpose to ourselves in this life is to become as good worshippers of God as we possibly can, as we hope to be His perfect worshippers for all eternity. That when we enter upon the spiritual life we ought to consider in detail what manner of folk we are. We shall then find ourselves worthy of contempt, unworthy of the name of Christ: subject to all sort of distress, and the numberless mischances which upset us and makes us unreliable in our health, our temper and our disposition, whether internal, or public-in fact, people whom God must humiliate by pain and trials both within and without. Is it then to be wondered at that we experience crosses, temptation, contradictions, at the hands of our fellow men? Ought we not rather to submit to them, bearing them so long as God may please, as things which are really to our advantage? The greater the perfection to which a soul aspires, the more dependent it is upon divine grace.
Read whole post......
Third Week after Epiphany. 23rd January - The Espousal Of the Blessed Virgin Mary - (DESPONSATIO BEATÆ MARIÆ VIRGINIS) from the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition

A feast of the Latin Church. It is certain that a real matrimony was contracted by Joseph and Mary. Still Mary is called "espoused" to Joseph ("his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph", Matthew 1:18) because the matrimony was never consummated. The term spouse is applied to married people until their marriage is consummated (Colvenerius, Cal. Marian., 23 Jan.). Peter d'Ailly, chancellor of the University of Paris. (died 1420),and his famous disciple, Jean Charlier, called Gerson, were the first energetic propagators of the devotion in honour of St. Joseph. Gerson worked many years to effect the institution of a special votive feast (Thursday of ember week in Advent), the object of which should be the virginal espousal of Mary and Joseph. Gerson's friend, Henry Chicoti, canon of the cathedral chapter of Chartres, had bequeathed a certain sum for the celebration in the cathedral of this votive feast, for which Gerson had composed a proper Office. It seems that Gerson carried out the will of his friend, but tradition does not tell us on what day the feast was celebrated.

The first definite knowledge of a feast in honour of the espousals of Mary dates from 29 Aug., 1517, when with nine other Masses in honour of Mary, it was granted by Leo X to the Nuns of the Annunciation, founded by Sainte Jeanne de Valois. This feast was celebrated on 22 October as a double of the second class. Its Mass, however, honoured the Blessed Virgin exclusively; it hardly mentioned St. Joseph and therefore did not correspond to the idea of Gerson. Also purely as a feast of Mary it appears in the Missal of the Franciscans, to whom it was granted 21 Aug., 1537, for 7 March (double major). About the same time the Servites obtained the feast for 8 March. The Office of the Nativity of Mary was recited, changing the word Nativilas to Desponsatio. After the religious orders, among the dioceses which adopted the feast of the Espousals of Mary, Arras takes the lead. It has been kept there since 23 Jan., 1556. The first proper Office was composed by Pierre Doré, O. P. (died 1569), confessor of Duke Claude of Lorraine. This Office followed the outlines given by Gerson and commemorated both Joseph and Mary. Pierre Doré in 1546 unsuccessfully petitioned Paul III to extend the feast of the Desponsatio B. M. V. to the Universal Church. But even without the recommendation of the Apostolic See, the feast was adopted by many Churches. In Moravia it was in the sixteenth century kept on 18. July. In subsequent times Rome did not favour any further extension of the feast, but after it had been refused (1655) to the King of Spain, it was granted to the German Emperor for Austria, 27 Jan., 1678 (23. Jan.); in 1680 it was conceded to Spain, but transferred (13 July, 1682) to 26 Nov., because in Spain the feast of St. Ildephonsus or St. Raymond is kept 23. Jan. In 1680 it was extended to the entire German Empire, 1689 to the Holy Land (double, second class), 1702 to the Cistercians (20 Feb.), 1720 to Tuscany, and 1725 to the Pontifical States. In our days it is kept in nearly the entire Latin Church on 23 Jan., in the Spanish-speaking countries on 26 Nov., but it has never been extended to the Universal Church. Since Pius V abolished the Office of Pierre Doré and introduced the modern Office, it is again a feast of Mary. The commemoration of St. Joseph in Mass, Vespers, Lauds (decree 5 May, 1736) can only be made by a special privilege. Read whole post......

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Saturday - Day of Our Lady

Second Week after Epiphany. 21 January; The Feast of St Agnes, Virgin and Martyr.
At the Magnificat: Ant. Blessed Agnes in the midst of the flames, stretched forth her hands and prayed: I entreat thee earnestly, O Father almighty, who art to be adored, to be worshipped, to be feared, and to be adored, because through thy holy Son I have escaped the threats of sacrilegious tyrant, and by an unspotted path have avoided the defilements of the flesh: behold now I come to thee whom I have loved, whom I have sought, and for whom I have always longed.

Of the virtues of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. I. Of the Humility of Mary. From "Glories of Mary" by St Alphonsus of Liquori TAN Books 1977 reprint of original Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1868 edition.

'Humility', says Saint Bernard, 'is the foundation and guardian of virtues;' and with reason, for without it no other virtue can exist in a soul. Should she possess all virtues, all will depart when humility is gone. But, on the other hand, as Saint Francis of Sales wrote to Saint Jane de Chantal, 'God so loves humility, that wherever He sees it, He is immediately drawn thither.' This beautiful and so necessary virtue was unknown in the world; but the Son of God Himself came on earth to teach it by His own example, and willed that in that virtue in particular we should endeavour to imitate Him: "Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart" (Math:11,29). Mary, being the first and most perfect disciple of Jesus Christ in the practice of all virtues, was the first also in that of humility, and by it merited to be exalted above all creatures. It was revealed to Saint Matilda that the first virtue in which the Blessed Mother particularly exercised herself, from her very childhood, was that of humility.
The first effect of humility of heart is a lowly opinion of ourselves: 'Mary had always so humble an opinion of herself, that, as it was revealed to the Saint Matilda, although she saw herself enriched with greater graces that all other creatures, she never preferred herself to any one. The Abbot Rupert, explaining the passage of the sacred Canticles, "Thou hast wounded my heart, my sister, my spouse,...with one hair of thy neck", says that the humble opinion which Mary had of herself was precisely that hair of the Spouse's neck with which she wounded the heart of God. Not indeed that Mary considered herself a sinner: for humility is truth, as Saint Teresa remarks; and Mary knew that she had never offended God: neither was it that she not acknowledge that she had received greater graces from God that all other creatures; for an humble heart always acknowledges the special favours of the Lord, to humble herself the more: but the Divine Mother, by the greater light wherewith she knew the infinite greatness and goodness of God, also knew her own nothingness, and therefore, more than all others, humbled herself, saying with the sacred Spouse: "Do not consider that I am brown, because the sun hath altered my colour" (Cant.I,5). That is, as Saint Bernard explains it, 'When I approach Him, I find myself black' (Cant. 28). Yes, says Saint Bernardine, for 'the Blessed Virgin had always the majesty of God, and her own nothingness, present to her mind (Sermon on the Conception of BVM, III,2). As a beggar, when clothed with a rich garment, which has been bestowed upon her, does not pride herself, being reminded thereby of her own poverty; so also the more Mary saw herself enriched, the more did she humble herself, remembering that all was God's gift; whence she herself told Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, that 'she might rest assured that she looked upon herself as most vile, and unworthy of God's grace'. (S.Bonav. de Vita C. cap.III) Therefore Saint Bernardine says, that 'after the Son of God, no creature in the world was so exalted as Mary, because no creature in the world ever humbled itself so much as she did' (Serm.de Concep.BVM I,3).
Moreover, it is an act of humility to conceal heavenly gifts. Mary wished to conceal from St Joseph the great favour whereby she had become the Mother of God, although it seemed necessary to make it known to him, if only to remove from the mind of her poor spouse any suspicions as to her virtue, which he might have entertained on seeing her pregnant: or at least the perplexity in which it indeed threw him: for Saint Joseph, on the one hand unwilling to doubt Mary's chastity, and on the other ignorant of the mystery "was minded to put her away privately" (Matth I, 19). This he would have done, had not the angel revealed to him that his Spouse was pregnant by the operation of the Holy Ghost. Again, a soul which is truly humble refuses her own praise; and should praises be bestowed on her, she refers them all to God. Behold, Mary is disturbed at hearing herself praised by Saint Gabriel; and when Saint Elizabeth said, "Blessed art thou among women.... and whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord come to me?...blessed art thou that hast believed (Luc.I.42-44). Mary referred all to God, and answered in that humble Canticle, "My soul doth magnify the Lord", as if she has said: 'Thou dost praise me, Elizabeth; but I praise the Lord, to whom alone honour is due: thou wonderest that I should come to thee, and I wonder at the Divine goodness, in which alone my spirit exults: "and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour". Thou praisest me because I have believed; I praise my God, because He hath been pleased to exalt my nothingness: "because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid." (Luc.I 46, 47). Hence Mary said to Saint Bridget: 'I humbled myself so much, and thereby merited such great grace, because I thought, and knew, that of myself I possessed nothing. For this same reason I did not desire to be praised; I only desired that praises should be given to the Creator and Giver of all (Rev. II, c.23). Wherefore an ancient author, speaking of the humility of Mary, says:'O truly blessed humility, which hath given God to men, opened heaven, and delivered souls from hell! (Serm. de Assump.int.Ov.S.Augustini).
It is also a part of humility to serve others. Mary did not refuse to go and serve Elizabeth for three months. Hence Saint Bernard says, 'Elizabeth wondered that Mary should have come and visit her; but that which is still more admirable is, that she came not to be ministered to, but to minister' (Serm de Aquaed). Those who are humble are retiring, and choose the last places; and therefore Mary, remarks Saint Bernard, when her Son was preaching in a house, as it is related by Saint Matthew (Matt. XII), wishing to speak to Him, would not of her own accord enter, but 'remained outside, and did not avail herself of her maternal authority to interrupt Him. (Serm. Sign. Magn.). For the same reason also when she was with the Apostles awaiting the coming of the Holy Ghost, she took the lowest, as Saint Luke relates, "All these were persevering with one mind in prayer, with the women and Mary the Mother of Jesus" (Act.I.14). Not that Saint Luke was ignorant of the Divine Mother's merits, on account of which he should have named her in the first place amongst the Apostles and women; and therefore he described them all, as an author remarks, in the order in which they were. Hence Saint Bernard says, 'Justly has the last become the first, who being the first of all became the last" (In Sign. Magn.). In fine, those who are humble love to be contemned; therefore we do not read that Mary showed herself in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, when her Son was received by the people with so much honour; but on the other hand, at the death of her Son she did not shrink from appearing on Calvary, through fear of the dishonour which would accrue to her when it was known that she was the Mother of Him who was condemned die an infamous death as a criminal. Therefore she said to Saint Bridget, 'What is more humbling than to be called a fool, to be in want of all things, and to believe oneself the most unworthy of all? Such, O daughter, was my humility; this was my joy; this was all my desire, with which I thought how to please my Son alone' (Rev. lib.II cap. 23). The venerable sister of Paula of Foligno was given to understand in an ecstasy, how great was the humility of our blessed Lady; and giving an account of it to her confessor, she was so filled with astonishment at its greatness that she could only exclaim, 'O the humility of the Blessed Virgin! O father, the humility of the Blessed Virgin, how great was the humility of the Blessed Virgin! In the world there is no such thing as humility, not even in its lowest degree, when you see humility of Mary.' On another occasion our Lord showed Saint Bridget two ladies. The one was all pomp and vanity: 'She' He said, 'is Pride'; but the other one whom thou seest with her head bent down, courteous towards all, having God alone in her mind, and considering herself as no one, is Humility, her name is Mary (Rev. lib.I.cap.29). Hereby God was pleased to make known to us that the humility of His blessed Mother was such that she was humility itself. There can be no doubt, as Saint Gregory of Nyassa remarks, that of all virtue there is perhaps none the practice of which is more difficult to our nature, corrupted as it is by sin, than that of humility. But there is no escape; we can never be true children of Mary if we are not humble. 'If', says Saint Bernard, 'thou canst not imitate the virginity of this humble Virgin, imitate her humility.' She detests the proud, and only invites the humble to come to her: "Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me." (Prov. IX.4). 'Mary', says Richard of Saint Lawrence, 'protects us under the mantle of humility.' (De Laud.. Virg. lib.II.cap.I) The Mother of God herself explained what her mantle was to Saint Bridget, saying, 'Come, my daughter, and hide thyself under my mantle; this mantle is my humility (Rev. lib.II cap.23). She then added, that the consideration of her humility was a good mantle with which we could warm ourselves: but that as a mantle only renders this service to those who wear it, not in thought but in deed, 'so also would her humility be of no avail except to those who endeavoured to imitate it.' She then concluded in these words, 'Therefore, my daughter, clothe thyself with this humility. 'O, how dear are humble souls to Mary!' says Saint Bernard; 'this blessed Virgin recognises and love those who love her, and is near to all who call upon her; and especially to those whom she sees like herself in chastity and humility.' (In Salv. Reg.). Hence the Saint exhorts all who love Mary to be humble: 'Emulate this virtue of Mary, if thou lovest her.' (Serm. in Sign. Magn.). Marinus, or Martin d'Alberto, of the Society of Jesus, used to sweep the house, and collect the filth, through love for this Blessed Virgin. The Divine Mother one day appeared to him, as Father Nieremberg relates in his life, and thanking him, as it were, said, 'O, how pleasing to me is this humble action, done for my love!' Then, o my Queen, I can never be really thy child unless I am humble; but dost thou not see that my sins, after having rendered me ungrateful to my Lord, have also made me proud? O my Mother, do thou supply remedy. By the merit of thy humility obtain that I may be truly humble and thus become thy child. Amen. Read whole post......

Friday, January 20, 2006

Second week after Epiphany. Commentary on the first Stanza of Spiritual Canticle, Union with God, by Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen OCD

Seeking the Hidden God
For the soul desirous of union it is not enough to know where one ought to go to seek God; it also wants to find Him. The soul responds to the Spirit with a new question:
"Granted that He whom I love is within me, why do I not feel Him and do not find Him?"
There is a great difference between having God and being introduced into His divine company, and thus living with Him.
"God is in me' the soul says, "why does He not reveal His presence to me?".
To this the Saint will reply by explaining to us a whole plan of conquest. Listen to why the soul enamored of God and in whom He dwells does not feel Him:
"The reason for this is that He is hidden, and you do not hide yourself as He does so that you may find Him and feel Him. He who is looking for a hidden things should secretly penetrate the hiding place, and when he finds it he too is hidden as it is."(Spiritual Canticle,I,9). Yes, it is true, God is within us, but He is hidden, concealed under the cumulation of our too human preoccupations, all the obstacles to the fulfillment of personal plans for our own profit and gain, plans that we want to carry out without taking sufficient account of the divine will and of the rights of others. In our interior there is too often a whole world of tendecies, of impulses, of very lively passions, that thrust us toward creatures and make us give them our heart. They make us place our hope in them and seek our comfort in the remembrance of them. So we live in this superficial world, which occupies us to such a point that it that it make us to forget that more profound life that we could live but do not live, that truly interior where the soul could be in relation with its God, and could end by finding Him. The Lord waits for us, so to speak, in the depth, taken up as we are by "our affairs" to which we give all our concern.
Now you see why we do not find Him!
To find Him we will have to go where He is and escape therefore from that immersion in creatures in which we live. Yes, we must "hide ourselves as He is hidden", and flee our superficial existence to enter a deep interior life, abandoning the more exterior sphere of our human interests, where everything moves around our little "ego", to descend into the deeper center of our soul, where it learns to live together with its God.
Listen to the instructions of the Saint:
"Since therefore thy beloved Spouse (God) is the treasure hidden in the vineyard of your soul....it is necessary that you too, forgetting everything and withdrawing from all creatures, hide yourself, until you find Him in the intimate seclusion of your spirit. Here, with the door shut behind you, namely the will closed to everything, pray in secret to your Father, and then...in secret you will hear Him and love Him and enjoy Him...above all that tongue and sense can understand". (Spiritual Canticle I,9).
The Saint thus encourages us with the most beautiful promise; he assures as that we will find our God, but at the same time he insist upon and traces for us a plan of conquest that appears difficult. Let us examine it more closely.

In substance the Saint is asking two things of us, namely to make use of two instruments that we have often heard called the characteristics of the contemplative life; he invites us to renunciation and to earnest entreaties, to mortification and to prayer....But perhaps you will say: "The Saint asks us to do what we cannot do: forget all our concerns, our business, our duties of state and family. That is not lawful. And then 'withdraw from all creatures'. How is it possible for us who have to live at home, who have dear persons to whose care we have devoted our life? It would be absurd to want to separate from them! This cannot be the will of God."
And indeed, it is not! We gladly take this occasion to respond promptly to a difficulty that more than once has been held against the Saint's doctrine, alleging that it is inhuman, that it asks impossible sacrifices of us, and that therefore his teachings, at the most, can be followed only in solitary cloisters, be persons "buried alive."
He who speaks thus shows that he has not indeed understood the Saint's doctrine. He is more "spiritual" than many might think, even in his very doctrine of detachment. Several times in his writings he has expressly declared that, when he speaks of withdrawing from creatures, he does not mean material withdrawal, as if it were necessary to leave all and go to live as a hermit. But, as he specifies in this same strophe on which we are commenting, it is a question "of leaving all things according to the affection of the will," that is, of not being attached; and truly this is not the same as not loving it! Let us not forget: God wants us to love creatures, but He does not want us to be attached to them.
In reality there are some affections that are not only legitimate, but even holy and positively will by God. To give some examples of this, the mutual love of Christian spouses and the love of a mother for her children. Do you think it could be the will of God that a mother not love her children, and that she forget them? On the contrary, if she should do this, she would offend her God, she would commit a grave sin. Then what does he mean to say when he writes of "forgetting creatures" and of "leaving them according to the affection of the will?" He is only telling us to avoid every inordinate affection, every attachment. For the Saint, this is the meaning of the word "attachment:" love that binds the heart in a way that is not according to the will of God, or in an exaggerated manner. This can be found, and is often found, unfortunately, in the most legitimate affections.
Does it not happen at times that a Christian mother cannot resign herself when the Lord asks for her daughter in order that she may become His spouse in the religious life? I do not say that the good woman cannot test her daughter's vocation to see if it is genuine; but once they have all reasonable guarantees on this point, to continue to oppose it, and for fear of the inevitable separation, which doubtless will make the maternal heart bleed, then to insist on "no" is no longer to love according to God. Let us come down to more humble examples. Suppose there is someone who loves mountain with its courageous heights, with its bracing air, with its grandiose panorama: splendor of the world that speak with such eloquence of the beauty of the Creator and fill a believing soul with love for Him. Be it so; but he who cannot renounce such an enchanting trip when there is a duty of office or charity to fulfill, would show himself undoubtedly attached to it.
When Peter George Frassati, in the company of friends, showed he enjoyed a good dish of macaroni, or a savory dish or rice and meat a la Milanese, I could not accuse him of attachment because he could also fast generously when it was a fast day. But one who, to satisfy his taste and appetite would go beyond the allowed amounts at collation on a fast day, or would allow himself to go quite to the excess of gluttony, would evidently be "attached" to such vulgar satisfaction. Often each of us is attached, little or much, to so many things, and they are even attachments which, creating superfluous preoccupations, are not to God, and which we cannot take with us into His presence, preoccupations that draw us away from Him and shut us up in studied research of personal satisfactions: this is the superficial world that conceals and impedes the interior life and which anyone - secular or religious - who wishes to attain intimate union with God ought to endeavor to leave. St John therefore does not ask anything that cannot be done even by a lay person who has many duties of state and family; in reality it is not a matter of suppressing these, of forgetting them, quite otherwise. It is matter of suppressing all excessive and useless attachments, which are too exclusively human and therefore not according to God, and which often accompany the accomplishment of these duties and render their fulfillment less genuine, less sublime and less noble. In short, St John's teaches us freedom from all that is inferior, by establishing us in a limpid and clear life, lived entirely according to the will of God which is the golden rule of our spiritual perfection.
In the hour of prayer, concentrating our attention of God Himself with whom we wish to speak, we will be led spontaneously to turn away from creatures. One might then be able to see in prayer a fulfillment of the saints counsel, namely to forget creatures. But this too should be well understood, because we ought not to believe that in prayer one cannot speak to God of those who are the object of our legimitimate affection.
Certainly it would be wrong to ask Him to bless an affection not conformed to His will, or to satisfy a desire of ours that He does not approve; that would be to ridicule God. But to speak to Him of what we are obliged to do through duty, and hence according to the indications of His most holy will, which is manifested in the knowledge of what our duties are, is a thing not only legitimate and therefore not blameworthy, but rather quite opportune. This is to treat with our heavenly Father with all that pertains to our life, and to confide to Him all the thoughts of our heart.
So we hope, by the above explanation, to have made it understood that the renunciation required by the saint is feasible even by persons who live in the world, and that such renunciation can also be "spiritually" positive for them, because it is not a matter of material separation from things, but the renunciation of every attachments. There should not be attachments in anyone, not even in one on whom depend the most extensive social duties. A man can be detached from everything not only in the domestic life, and indeed everyone could be so. Perhaps in the depth of our heart we even think: "Would that there were at least some! Our political world would get along better!" Read whole post......

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Second Week after Epiphany.

"Spiritual Canticle" by St John of the Cross. Stanza the first. Part 2

7. Here it is to be observed that in the Songs the Bride compares the Spouse to the hart and the mountain goat saying: My Beloved is like to the goat, and to the young of the harts. And this because of the swiftness wherewith He hides and reveals Himself, as the Beloved is wont to do in the visits which he makes to the soul, and in the withdrawals and absences which He makes them experience after such visits. In this way He makes them to grieve the more bitterly for His absence, as the soul now declares when she says:

8. Which is as though she had said: Not sufficient of themselves were the sorrow and grief which I suffer ordinarily in Thy absence: Thou didst wound me yet more, by love, with Thine arrow, and, having increased my passion and desire for the sight of Thee, didst flee with the swiftness of the heart and allowedst not Thyself to be in the smallest degree comprehended.
9. For further exposition of this line we must know that, beside many other different ways wherein God visits the soul, wounding it and upraising it in love, He is wont to bestow on it a certain enkindling touches of love, which like a fiery arrow strike and pierce the soul and leave it wholly cauterized with the fire of love. And these are properly called the wounds of love, whereof the soul here speaks. So greatly do these wounds enkindle the will in affection that the soul finds itself burning in the fire and flame of love, so much so that it appears to be consumed in that flame, which causes it to go forth from itself and be wholly renewed and enter upon another mode of being, like the phoenix, that is burned up and re-born anew. Of this David speaks and says: My heart was kindled and my reins were changed and I was brought to nothing and I knew not. The desires and affection, which the Prophet here describes as reins, are all stirred, and in that loving enkindlement of the heart are changed into Divine affections, and the soul through love is reduced to naught, and knows naught, save love only. And at this season of love there takes place this stirring of these reins of the desire of the will, which is much like to a torture of yearning to see God.....not because it has been wounded thereby (for afortime it held such wounds of love to be health), but because it is left thus wounded and grieving, and has not been wounded further, even to the point of death, in which case it would see itself united with Him in a clear and revealed vision of perfect love. Wherefore the soul magnifies or describes the pain of the wound of love caused her by this absence, and says: "Having wounded me".
10. And thus there comes to pass in the soul this grief, that is great, inasmuch as when God inflicts upon the soul that wound of love its will rises with sudden celerity to the possession of the Beloved, Whom it has felt to be near by reason of that His touch of love which it has experienced. And with equal celerity it feels His absence and is conscious of sighing thereat, since in one and the same moment He disappears from the soul and hides Himself, and it remains in emptiness and with the greater sorrow and sighing.....For these visits of love that wound are not like others wherein God is wont to refresh and satisfy the soul by filling it with gentle peace and repose. These visits He makes to wound the soul rather to heal it, and to afflict rather than to satisfy, since they serve but to quicken the knowledge and increase the desire, and consequently, the pain. These are called wounds of love, and are most delectable to the soul, for which cause it would fain ever dying a thousand deaths from these lance-thrusts, for they cause it to issue forth from itself and enter into God. Read whole post......
Second Week after Epiphany. St Telesphorus, Carm. Pope and Martyr ca. 125 - 138 AD

St Telesphorus was a Greek who had been an anchorite. He ruled the Church in the time of Emperor Antoninus Pius. To St. Telesphorus are attributed some church practices which endure down to this day. According to the "Liber Pontificalis" St. Telesphorus ordered a fast for seven weeks before Easter. That the Lenten fast goes back even before the time of Telesphorus, St. Irenaeus gives testimony. But the length of the fast varied considerably in those early days. It is probable enough that Pope St. Telesphorus did make some regulation as to the length of the Lenten fast.

A custom much loved even today is also attributed to St. Telesphorus. He is said to have ordered that although Mass was not celebrated before the hour of tierce (i.e., 9 to 12 o'clock in the morning) at Christmas time Mass should be celebrated at night. This is the first mention of the beloved midnight Mass. However, scholars doubt whether this decree actually does go back to the time of St. Telesphorus.

St. Telesphorus is said also to have decreed that the Gloria in excelsis should be sung at the Christmas Mass and only at the Christmas Mass. This magnificent hymn of praise is not said at all Masses even today. As late as the eleventh century, though the Pope could say it oftener, priests were not allowed to say it except at Easter.

St. Telesphorus died a martyr as is known not only from the "Liber Pontificalis" but also from the earlier testimony of St. Irenaeus. He was buried near St. Peter on the Vatican. His feast is kept on January 5 in the Roman liturgy and February 22 in the Greek. Read whole post......

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Second Week after Epiphany. St Peter's Chair at Rome.

The Roman Breviary, Part 3: Winter. Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd, 1936

At Matins; Hymn:Quodcumque inorbe nexibus revinxeris

Peter, whatever thou shalt bind on earth,
The same is bound above the starry sky;
What here thy delegated power doth loose
Is loosed in heaven's supremest court on high:

To judgment shalt thou come,
when the world's end is nigh
Praise to the Father through all ages be;
Praise to the consubstantial Son,

And Holy Ghost, one glorious Trinity;
To whom all majesty
and might belong;
So sing we now, and such be our eternal son. Amen

Matins Nocturn I & II Resposories & Versicles:

R.Simon Peter, before I called thee out of the ship. I knew thee, and appointed thee for a captain over my people, And I have given unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heavensV. Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, it shall be bound also in heaven:
and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

R. If thou lovest me, Simon Peter, feed my lamb. Lord, thou knowest that I love thee, And I will lay down my life for thee. V. If I will die with thee, I shall not deny thee.

R. Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it: And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. V Whatsoever...

R. Thou art the shepherd of the sheep, O Prince of the Apostles: to thee hath God given all the kingdoms of the world: And therefore unto thee are given the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. V. Whatsoever...

R. I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not: And thou being once converted, confirm thy brethren. V. Flesh and blood has not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.

R. Peter, lovest thou me? Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. Feed my sheep. V. Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than that? Lord thou knowest that I love thee.

Nocturn III
Lesson 7
Homily of St. Hilary, Bishop
Commentary on Matthew, can. 16, 13-19:

"At that time: Jesus came into the quarters of Cesarea Philippi:
and asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the son of men is?"

The Lord asked his disciples, whom did men say that he was; and he used the words, the son of man. For we must so confess him, as to remember that he is both Son of God and son of man: the one without the other could give us no hope of salvation. When he had thus elicited the various opinions held of him by men, he asked what they themselves thought. Peter answered: Thou art Christ the Son of the living God. But Peter had duly weighed the terms of the question. For the Lord has said: Whom do men say that I, the son of man, am? Bodily sight certainly showed him to be the son of man. But when he added: Whom do they say that I am, he meant that there was more in him than was perceived by the senses; he was indeed the son of man. What opinion of himself, then did he seek? Not, we must think, that which he himself said of himself; but it was hidden thing which he sought, which the faith of those that believe in him should embrace

R.Jesus said to his disciples: Whom do men say that Son of man is? Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God. And I say to thee: that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. V. Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven

Lesson 8

Peter's confession received a worthy reward, for he saw the Son of God in man. Blessed is he, who was praised for having gazed at and seen what human eye could not see: he did not contemplate what was of flesh and blood, but saw the Son of God by the revelation of the heavenly Father; and he was judged worthy to be the first to recognize the divine in Christ. O how happily was the Church founded in the giving of his new name, how worthy to be built on is her rock, which was to destroy the infernal laws and the gates of hell, and all the barriers of earth! O blessed is the door-keeper of heaven, to whose judgment the keys of the eternal entrance are entrusted, whose sentence on earth is already ratified in heaven! So that what he binds or looses on earth, the same decision shall be ratified in heaven.

First Blessing:
May the reading of the Gospel be our safety and protection Read whole post......

Monday, January 16, 2006

Second Week after Epiphany. St Peter Thomas Carm. BC
What does it mean to be a Carmelite in the words of St Elizabeth of the Trinity, CTS Publications, tr. by J.Moorcroft

To the Mother, August 1905
The whole of nature seems so full of God to me: the breeze rustling in the great trees, the singing of the little birds, the beautiful blue sky - everything speaks to me of him. I just have to tell you that my happiness is growing all the time - it is getting nearly as infinite as God himself, and it is such a calm and gentle joy. I have to share my secret with you! St Peter says in his first letter: "You believe in him, although you do not see him. So you rejoice with a great and glorious joy which words cannot express (1 Peter 1:8). I believe that a Carmelite can indeed get all her happiness from this divine source. She believes in 'the love which God has for us', as St John says (1 Jn 4:16). She believes that the same love which drew him down to earth draws him to herself, for Truth itself said in the Gospel:, 'live in me and I in you' (John 15:9), so she simply obeys this loving command and lives in close union with the God who lives within her, and who is far more present to her than she is to herself (St Augustine, Confessions). This is not wishful thinking or imagination but a pure faith that makes her so strong that the good God can say to her the word he spoke of old: 'You are a woman of great faith' (Matthew 15:28).

To Germaine de Gemeaux, 7 August 1902
A Carmelite is someone who has looked at the Crucified One, who has seen him offering himself to the Father as a Victim for us; pondering on this tremendous vision of Christ's love she has longed to give herself as he has....
On the mountain of Carmel, in silence and solitude, in unceasing prayer that continues whatever the circumstances, the Carmelite lives as if she is already in heaven 'with God alone'. The One who will one day be her bliss and will completely satisfy her in glory is already giving himself to her. He never leaves her, he lives within her, more than that, they are but one.
She is hungry for silence in order to listen, to penetrate at every moment more deeply into his infinite Being. She is identified with the one she loves, she finds him everywhere, she sees his radiance in everything!

Surely this is heaven on earth! You carry heaven within you, you can be a Carmelite already because Jesus recognizes a Carmelite by what she is like inside, in the depths of her being. Never leave him, do everything beneath his divine grace and live joyfully in his peace and love, bringing happiness to those you love.

St. Peter Thomas - Bishop
Born about 1305 in southern Perigord in France, Peter Thomas entered the Carmelites when he was 21. He was chosen by the Order as its procurator general to the papal court at Avignon in 1345. After being made bishop of Patti and Lipari in 1354, he was entrusted with many papal missions to promote peace and unity with the Eastern Churches. He was translated to the see of Corone in the Peleponnesus in 1359 and made papal legate for the East. In 1363 he was appointed Archbishop of Crete and in 1364 Latin Patriarch of Constantinople. He won a reputation as an apostle of church unity before he died in Farmagosta on Cyprus in 1366. Read whole post......

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Second Sunday after Epiphany
Meditation themes during week after Epiphany and second Sunday after Epiphany from 'Divine Intimacy' by Fr Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen OCD.

"The Soul of Jesus". 1.Although grace was created equally by the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, without any difference or distinction, its diffusion in souls is usually attributed especially to the Third Person, the Holy Spirit, to whom everything that concerns the work of sanctification is referred by appropriation. In this sense the tremendous gift of grace which filled the soul of Jesus must be attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit. The soul of Jesus possess every supernatural gift because "the Holy Spirit dwells in Christ with such plentitude of grace that no greater plentitude can be imagined" (Mystici Corporis)....The soul of Christ is uniquely beautiful, holy, intimately united to the divinity, and all this to such a degree that the Holy Spirit "takes delight in abiding in it as His chosen temple" (ibid.). He dwells in it with such plentitude and sovereignty that He inspires, directs and guides all the actions of Jesus, and that is why the Holy Spirit "is correctly called the Spirit of the Son". The Gospel tells us several times that Jesus acted under the influence of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 4,1). This happened, not under certain special conditions, but always;
2. Jesus, by His Passion and death, merited for us not only grace, but even the very Author of grace, the Holy Spirit, whom He had promised to the Apostles and whom He had sent to them at Pentecost. We too receive the Holy Spirit through Jesus; it is always He who, together with the Father, sends us the Holy Spirit.... We receive the Holy Spirit according to the measure of our union with Christ; the Holy Spirit, in turn, unites us to Christ. In fact, as St. Paul says, "Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ be in you...the Spirit liveth, because of justification" (Rom 8,9.10). "Christ is in us by His Spirit whom He communicates to us and by means of whom He acts in us in such a way that it may be said that everything that is divine is accomplished in us by the Holy Spirit and also by Christ" (Mystici Corporis).
..."O Holy Spirit, come into my Heart; by Your power draw it to You, O God of truth; grant me charity with fear...warm me and inflame me with Your most sweet love" (St Catherine of Siena).

"Living in Christ". 1. Unless the man is born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Jn 3,5). We can attain to God and His Kingdom only through Christ, through our incorporation in Him. This was effected in us by "water and the Holy Spirit", on the day of our Holy Baptism. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "You must be born again"; and this means truly a new birth, because in Baptism we receive the seed of a new life. Before we receive this Sacrament, we have only a human life; afterwards, we participate in divine life...St Paul wrote to the Galatians, "For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ" (Gal 3,27). On the day of our Baptism, we are born in Christ and in Him we have become that "new creature" born not of the will of man," but solely "of God" (Jn 1,13). Being born in Christ, we are to live in Christ, and walk in Christ, following the exhortation of the Apostle, "Walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and confirmed in the faith" (Col 2,6.7)....the other Sacraments are not only to restore, but also to root, invigorate, and built up our life in Christ.
2....Every sin, fault, or voluntary negligence dishonors Christ, our Head, and grieves the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. A consecrated soul, however, cannot remain content with merely avoiding sin; we must also strive to make Christ's life increase in us. In the life of nature, we grow without the help of our own wills; b but this is not true of the life of grace. Without our cooperation, it is possible for this life to remain stationary in us for twenty, thirty, fifty years after our baptism, after hundreds of confessions and Holy Communions. What a tremendous disproportion!. We may be adults, or even aged in years, but children according to grace! We must grow in Christ; and He must increase in us. The words of St John the Baptist form our program, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (Jn 3,30). see what the development of grace in us exacts - the death of the "old man" with his bad habits, faults, and imperfections, so that the "new man", the Christ-life in us, may grow to perfection.
....Your love alone, O Lord, can conquer the great inconstancy of my mind and heart, and establish them in You, so that my life may become interior, rather than exterior, centered on You and Your grace instead of on myself and the things of earth.

" The first miracle of Jesus" .
Presence of God - O Jesus. I beg You to transform my soul as You once transformed the water for the bride and bridegroom at Cana
1. Now that the cycle of Jesus' childhood has ended, the liturgy begins to speak of His public life. During the days following the Epiphany, it recalled Our Lord's baptism in the Jordan, the event which marked the beginning of His apostolate. Today it tells us about His first miracles, destined, like the Epiphany and His baptism, to manifest to the world His glory as the Son of God.
"And the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the Mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited...to the marriage" (Gosp:Jn2,1-11). For the first time we see the Blessed Virgin in her maternal function as mediatrix of all graces. The Cana miracle, Jesus' first, was worked precisely because of her intercession which was so powerful that it made Jesus anticipate His hour. "My hour is not yet come", the Saviour had answered His Mother, and Mary was neither dismayed by this apparent refusal nor did she insist on her request. Secure in the knowledge of her Son and full of loving confidence in Him, she says to the servants, "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye." Her humility, consideration for others, faith, and trustful abandonment win Jesus, and to show us the greatness of her power over His divine heart, He grants her wish; the miracles takes place. Mary's faith is admirable; and also worthy of admiration is the faith and prompt obedience of the servants who, following Mary's advice, immediately carry out the orders of Jesus; they fill the waterpots with the water and then pour from them. Not a moment of doubt, not a protest - they simply obey. May we not learn from them how to believe, how to obey? Shall we not have recourse to Mary's powerful intercession?
2. "The water was made wine". A miracle much more wonderful than the one which Jesus performed at Cana is repeated daily on our altars; a little bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, and given to us as the Food of our souls. The Communion antiphon of today's Mass repeats the passage in the Gospels which speaks of the water made wine. Yes, for us pre-eminently, Jesus has "kept the good wine until now". It is the precious wine of the Holy Eucharist, inebriating our souls with His Body and Blood. ....by means of grace, the water of our poor human nature becomes a sharer in God's divine nature; it is transformed into the sacred wine of the life of Christ Himself....Today our Lady tells us how we can and should foster this precious transformation; she says to us as she once did to the servants at the Cana feast, "Whatsoever He shall say to, do ye."
In these words, Mary invites us to that complete transformation in Christ which is effected by the generous practice of all that He teaches and commands. Let us, then, with humble, docile hearts, with lively faith and perfect abandonment, entrust ourselves to Jesus through Mary's Hands.
How encouraging it is O Lord, for me to find Your sweet Mother beside You today! Everything becomes simple and easy near Mary, beneath her maternal eye, under the protection of her powerful intercession. How good You were, O Jesus, to give us Your dear Mother to be the Mother of our spiritual life! I will follow Mary's precious advice and do everything You tell me, everything You wish me to do.
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