Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled? Luke 12:49

From the earliest centuries of the Catholic Church, Christians have addressed suppliant prayers and hymns of praise to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the hope they have placed in the Mother of the Saviour has never been disappointed. They have looked upon Her as Queen of Angels, Queen of Patriarchs, Queen of Prophets, Queen of Apostles, Queen of Martyrs, Queen of Virgins. Because of Her eminence, She is indeed entitled to the highest honors that can be bestowed upon any creature. Saint Gregory Nazianzen called Her Mother of the King of the entire universe, and the Virgin Mother who brought forth the King of the entire world.
His Holiness Pope Pius XII, in his Encyclical Letter of October 11, 1954, “Ad Coeli Reginam - On the Royal Dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Institution of Her Feast, ordaining its celebration throughout the world every year on May 31st, reminds us of what Pope Pius IX had said of Mary: “Constituted by the Lord as Queen of Heaven and earth, and exalted above all the choirs of Angels and the ranks of the Saints in heaven, standing at the right hand of Her only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, She petitions most powerfully with Her maternal prayers, and obtains what She seeks.” Pope Pius XII adds another ordinance: “We ask that on the feast day be renewed the consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Upon this is founded a great hope that there may arise an era of happiness which will rejoice in the triumph of religion and Christian peace. Therefore let all approach, with greater confidence than ever before, to the throne of mercy and grace of our Queen and Mother, to beg help in difficulty, light in darkness and solace in trouble and sorrow.”
In asking this, the Holy Father was responding to the request of the Virgin Herself at Fatima in 1917, that the world and each soul individually be consecrated to Her Immaculate Heart. She promised that it will be then that “a time of peace will be given to the world.” Do not Mary’s rights as Queen require respect? And will we deny to Her maternal Heart the love it merits, for twenty centuries of uninterrupted intercession on behalf of Her children?
1. Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my supplication in Thy truth: hearken unto me for Thy justice' sake
2. And enter not into judgement with Thy servant: for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified.
(Ps 142)

Consecration to Immaculate Heart of Mary
This is the formula whose making and living has opened the heavens for so many favoured souls:

"O Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom! O sweetest and most adorable Jesus! True God and true man, only Son of the Eternal Father, and of Mary, always virgin! I adore Thee profoundly in the bosom and splendours of Thy Father during eternity; and I adore Thee also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Thy most worthy Mother, in the time of Thine Incarnation.
"I give Thee thanks for that Thou hast annihilated Thyself, taking the form of a slave in order to rescue me from the cruel slavery of the devil. I praise and glorify Thee for that Thou hast been pleased to submit Thyself to Mary, Thy holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me Thy faithful slave through her. But, alas! Ungrateful and faithless as I have been, I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to Thee in my Baptism; I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called Thy child, not yet thy slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit Thine anger and Thy repulse, I dare not come by myself before Thy most holy and august Majesty. It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of Thy most holy Mother, whom Thou hast given me for a mediatrix with Thee. It is through her that I hope to obtain of Thee contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom.
"Hail, then, O Immaculate Mary, living tabernacle of the Divinty, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden and to be adored by angels and by men! Hail, O sure Refuge of Sinners, whose mercy fails no one. Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end receive the vows and offerings which in my lowliness I present to thee.
"I, N., a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him that I have ever been before.
"In the presence of all the heavenly court I choose thee this day for my Mother and Mistress. I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greater glory of God, in time and in eternity.
"Receive, o benignant Virgin, this little offering of my slavery, in honour of, and in union with, that subjection which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to have to thy maternity, in homage to the power which both of you have over this poor sinner, and in thanksgiving for the privilages with which the Holy Trinity has favoured thee. I declare that I wish henceforth, as thy true slave, to seek thy honour and to obey thee in all things.
"O admirable Mother, present me to thy dear Son as His eternal slave, so that as He has redeemed me by thee, by thee He may receive me! O Mother of mercy, grant me the grace to obtain the true Wisdom of God ; and for that end receive me among those whom thou lovest and teachest, whom thou leadest, nourishest and protectest as thy children and thy slaves.
"O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ thy Son, that I may attain, by thine intercession and by thine example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. AMEN."

Credits: text of consecration after "Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary According to the Spirit of St. Louis de Montfort's True devotion to Mary"- by Fr Nicholas A. Norman
Meditation after 'Heavenly Friends: a Saint for each Day' by Rosalie Marie Levy (Saint Paul Editions: Boston, 1958). 

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006


The Lord will make her regent over all his kingdom and give her a crown, that she shall be mother to his son and reign.
(1 Mach 6, 14-15)*

A golden crown upon her head, signed with the emblem of Holiness, of glory and of honour of the might of her deeds. (Ecclus. 45, 14)

fragments form "Divine Intimacy" by Fr Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen OCD

PRESENCE OF GOD - O Mary, since Jesus willed to come to us through you, grant that I may go to Him through you.

1. The Church teaches us to invoke Mary as Mediatrix of all graces. This title summarizes what the Blesses Virgin is for us, in our relations with her beloved Son: the Mediatrix of grace, of mercy, the treasurer of all the graces which Jesus merited for us. "By the communion of sorrows and of will between Christ and Mary," says St. Pius X, "she merited to become the dispenser of all the benefits which Jesus acquired for us by shedding His Blood" (Encyclical:Ad Diem Illium. Mary, who was associated in the closest and most intimate way with the life, the work, and the Passion of her Son, cooperated with Him in our redemption to such an extent that the grace, which Jesus alone could merit for us condignly, was merited also by Mary, although in a secondary way and by congruity only. Thus Mary obtained real power over all the supernatural treasures acquired by her Son; and since she obtained them together with Him, she also distributes them to us with Him. Leo XIII says, "It may be affirmed that, according to God's will, nothing comes to us without going through Mary's hands. Just as no one can approach the Almighty Father except through the Son, so no one can approach the Almighty Father except through the Son, so no one can approach Christ except through His Mother" (Encyclical: Octobri Mense). After Jesus, who is the only Mediator, Mary is the Mediatrix: as Jesus continually intercedes with the Father in heaven on our behalf, so Mary intercedes with Jesus for us; she obtains and dispenses to us all the graces we need. The Introit of the Mass for the Feast of Mary Mediatrix of All Graces very fittingly applies to Mary the words spoken by St. Paul about Jesus: "Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, to obtain mercy and pardon." Next to Jesus, Mary is really the "throne of grace", and she can obtain everything for us from her Son. She is the omnipotent supplex, the all-powerful intercessor: all-powerful in her prayer as Mother.

2. Mary is the Mediatrix between her Son and us for a twofold reason: she gives Jesus to us and she brings us to Him. The Gospel tells us this several times, showing us the typically maternal attitude of Mary as she brought Jesus to mankind. Our Lady offered the Infant Jesus to the adoration of the shepherds and the Wise Man; she took Him to the Temple and presented Him to Simeon; by her intercession at Cana, she obtained the first miracle from her Son. On Calvary, Mary received into her arms the martyred, lifeless Body of her beloved Son, whom she offered to mankind as the price of its redemption. In the Cenacle, she begged the plenitude of the Holy Spirit for the Apostles and, from that day to the day of her Assumption. She sustained the infant Church by her prayers and maternal encouragement. To find Mary is to find Jesus to the world and to souls, and with Jesus, to give His grace and blessings. As St. Bernard says, Mary is truly the channel which carries the living water of grace to mankind; furthermore, she brings Jesus, the very source of grace.
As Mediatrix, Mary also leads men to Jesus by teaching them the way to her Son and by showing them how to please Him. We are always poor little children incapable of making presentable gifts to God, but Mary our Mother, with maternal delicacy, arranges and embellishes our gifts, our acts, our prayers and sacrifices, and offers them with her own hands to her divine Son. She, like a true mother, gives particular attention to our hearts, which she desires to make pleasing to Jesus: Mary wants to form in each one of us a heart which is pure, full of love and goodness, a heart which can beat in unison with the heart of her Son. Let us then, place our hearts in Mary's hands, that she may fill them "with grace and truth, life and virtue" (RM).

....O Lady Our Mediatrix and our advocate, reconcile us with your Son, recommend us to your Son, present us to your Son! You are blessed by the grace you have found, by the privileges you have found, by the mercy you have brought to the world. Obtain for us that Jesus, who through you deigned to share our infirmity and our wretchedness may grant us also through you a share in His glory and in His beatitude" (St. Bernard).

*Holy Scripture quotations after St. Joseph 2006 Calendar Read whole post......

Monday, May 29, 2006

St Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin, Carmelite (1566-1607)

Spiritual Bouquet:
Blessed are those servants whom the master, on his return, shall find watching. St. Luke 12:37

Saint Mary Magdalene of Pazzi was the only daughter of the illustrious Camille de Pazzi, related to the Medicis of Florence. She was born in the year 1566, and was baptized with the name of Catherine. As a child she loved to go into solitary places to enter into prayer with God, who revealed Himself to her from her tender years without the aid of teachers, as her Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. She made a crown of thorns one day, and wore it for an entire night, enduring great pain. She received her First Communion at ten years of age; at twelve years, she made a vow of virginity and took great pleasure in teaching Christian doctrine to poor children.
Her father, not knowing of her vow, wished to give her in marriage, but she persuaded him to allow her to become a religious, and chose the Carmelites, because there the nuns received Communion frequently. She entered in the year of the death of Saint Teresa of Avila, 1582, at the age of sixteen. It had been more difficult to obtain her mother’s consent; while she was a novice, her mother sent a portrait artist to the convent, with instructions that her daughter be portrayed in lay clothing. The Sisters complied with her request, and the portrait can still be seen in the Convent. She became professed at eighteen years of age in the Carmelite monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence, May 17, 1584, Feast of the Holy Trinity. She changed her name of Catherine to that of Mary Magdalene on becoming a nun, and took as her motto, “Either suffer or die.”

Her life thereafter was one of penance for sins not her own, and of love for Our Lord, who tried her in ways fearful and strange. She was obedient, observant of the Rule, humble and mortified, and had great reverence for the religious life. One day, when she seemed to be at the last hour of her life, she rose from her sickbed and hastened everywhere throughout the convent, saying during her ecstasy, “O Love! O Love! No one knows You, no one knows You, no one loves You!” For five years she was tormented by demons with fearful temptations of pride, sensuality, gluttony, despair, blasphemy; they became so violent that she said, “I do not know whether I am a reasonable creature or one without reason; I see nothing in myself but a little good will never to offend the divine Majesty.”

God raised her to elevated states of prayer and gave her rare gifts, enabling her to read the thoughts of her novices, and filling her with wisdom to direct them. She was twice chosen mistress of novices, and then made Superior. On her deathbed she asked her Sisters to love only Our Lord Jesus Christ, to place all hope in Him, and be perpetually ardent with desire to suffer for love of Him. God took her to Himself on May 15, 1607. Her body remains incorrupt.

Saint Mary Magdalene of Pazzi was so filled with the love of God that her Sisters saw it in her love for them, and called her “Mother of Charity,” and “the Charity of the Monastery.”

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Saturday - Day of Our Lady

"MARY'S FAITH' from "Divine Intimacy" by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene OCD

PRESENCE OF GOD - O my Mother, show me how to have firm faith in God and how to entrust myself entirely to Him.

1. Using St. Elisabeth's words, the Church says in praise of Mary: "Blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord" (Lk1,45). Great things indeed were to be accomplished in Mary; and she had the great merit of believing in them. On the word of God as announced by the Angel, she believed that she would become a mother without losing her virginity; she, who was so humble, believed that she would be truly the Mother of God, and that the fruit of her womb would really be the Son of the Most High. She adhered with entire faith to all that had been revealed to her, accepting, without the least hesitation, a plan that would upset the whole natural order of things; a virgin mother; a creature, Mother of the Creator. She believed when the Angel spoke to her; she continued to believe even when the Angel left her alone and she found herself in the condition of an ordinary woman who knows that she is about to become a mother. "The Virgin", St Bernard says, "so little in her own eyes, was magnanimous in her faith in God's promise! She, who considered herself nothing but a poor handmaid, never had the least doubt concerning her vocation to this incomprehensible mystery, to this marvelous change, to this inscrutable sacrament; she firmly believed that she would become the true Mother of the God-Man.
The Blessed Virgin teaches us to believe in our vocation to sanctity, to divine intimacy. We did believe in it when God revealed it to us in the brightness of interior light, and the words of His minister confirmed it; but we should also believe in it when we find ourselves alone, in darkness, amid difficulties that tend to disturb and discourage us. God is faithful, and he does not do things by halves: He will finish His work in us, provided we have complete confidence in Him.

2. It would be very far from the truth to think that the divine mysteries were so revealed to Mary, and the divinity of Jesus was so evident to her that she had no need of faith. Excepting the Annunciations and events surrounding the birth of Jesus, we do not find any extraordinary manifestations of the supernatural in her life. Mary lived by pure faith, trusting in God's word even as we must. The divine mysteries which took place in her and around her remained habitually hidden under the veil of faith, assuming an outward appearance common to the various circumstances of ordinary daily life. Hence, they were often concealed under obscure, disconcerting aspects such as, the extreme poverty in which Jesus was born, the necessity of fleeing into exile in order to save Him, the King of heaven, from the wrath of an earthly king, the toil undergone to procure for Him the strict necessities, and the lack of even these, perhaps. Yet Mary never doubted that this weak, helpless Child, who needed her maternal care and protection just like any other child, was the Son of God. She always believed, even when she did not understand. Witness for example, the unexpected disappearance of the twelve-year-old Boy who had remained in the Temple without His parents' knowledge. St. Luke relates that when Jesus explained His action, giving as a reason that He was carrying out the mission entrusted to Him by His heavenly Father, Mary and Joseph "did not understand His words" (cf. 2,50). Although Mary knew that Jesus was the Messiah, she did not know how was to accomplish His mission; at this time, therefore, she did not see the connection between the divine will and his remaining behind the Temple. Nevertheless, she believed that Jesus was her God, and that was enough for her; she was certain, absolutely certain of Him. Sometimes in our spiritual life, we come to a halt because we insist on understanding and searching into God's plans for our soul. A faithful soul, on the other hand, does not linger to inquire about God's actions; even though not fully understanding them, it believes, following blindly, if necessary, the manifestations of the divine will. This is pleasing to God who does not ask us to understand, but only to believe with all our strength.

....O Mary, help me to have complete faith, so that I can give myself wholly to God, adhere to all His plans, accept with my eyes closed every disposition of divine Providence. Make me believe so that I shall be able to face storms with courage, abandon myself entirely to God's action, and advance with confidence along the road to sanctity. If you are with me, O Mary, I shall have no fear. The strength of your faith will be the support and refuge of mine, so weak and languid. Read whole post......
SAINT BEDE the VENERABLE Father of the Church (673-735)

Spiritual Bouquet: Only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the best part, and it will not be taken away from her. St. Luke 10:4

Saint Bede, the illustrious ornament of the Anglo-Saxon Church and its first English historian, was consecrated to God in 680 at the age of seven, and entrusted to the care of Saint Benedict Biscop at Weremouth. He became a monk in the sister-house of Jarrow, which he would never leave, and there he trained no fewer than six hundred scholars, whom his piety, learning, and sweet disposition had gathered around him.

He was ordained a priest in 702. To the toils of teaching and the exact observance of his Rule he added long hours of private prayer, with the study of every branch of science and literature then known. He was familiar with Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. In a treatise which he compiled for his scholars, still extant, he assembled all that the world had then conserved of history, chronology, physics, music, philosophy, poetry, arithmetic, and medicine. In his Ecclesiastical History he has left us beautiful lives of Anglo-Saxon Saints and holy Fathers, while his commentaries on the Sacred Scriptures are still in use by the Church.

It was to the study of the Divine Word that he devoted the whole energy of his soul, and at times his compunction was so overpowering that his voice would break with weeping, while the tears of his scholars mingled with his own. Once he was accused of heresy by certain jealous ones, but this scholar who had always made a great effort not to depart from tradition, wrote a letter which vindicated him and stopped the bad reports. He had little aid from others, and during his later years suffered from constant illness; yet he worked and prayed up to his last hour. It has been said of him that it is easier to admire him in thought than to do him justice in expression.

The Saint was employed in translating the Gospel of Saint John from the Greek, even to the hour of his death, which took place on the eve of the Ascension in the year 735. “He spent that day joyfully,” writes one of his scholars. In the middle of the afternoon he said: “It is time that I return to the One who gave me being, creating me out of nothing... The moment of my liberty is approaching; I desire to be freed from the bonds of the body and to join Jesus Christ. Yes, my soul longs to see Jesus Christ its king, in the splendor of His glory.” In the evening a scribe attending him said, “Dear master, there is yet one chapter unwritten; would you be disturbed if we asked you additional questions?” He answered, “No; take your pen, and write quickly,” which the disciple did. He prayed then until his last breath.

Reflection. The Imitation of Christ says: “The more a man is at peace within himself and interiorly simple, the more and deeper things does he understand without labor; for he receives the light of understanding from on high.”

St Bede writings on Matthew the Appostle
"Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: Follow me."

Jesus saw Matthew, not merely in the usual sense, but more significantly with his merciful understanding of men.He saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: Follow me. This following meant imitating the pattern of his life - not just walking after him. St. John tells us: Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

"And he rose and followed him."

There is no reason for surprise that the tax collector abandoned earthly wealth as soon as the Lord commanded him. Nor should one be amazed that neglecting his wealth, he joined a band of men whose leader had, on Matthew's assessment, no riches at all. Our Lord summoned Matthew by speaking to him in words. By an invisible, interior impulse flooding his mind with the light of grace, he instructed him to walk in his footsteps. In this way Matthew could understand that Christ, who was summoning him away from earthly possessions, had incorruptible treasures of heaven in his gift.

"As he sat at table in the house, behold many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples."

This conversion of one tax collector gave many men, those from his own profession and other sinners, an example of repentance and pardon. Notice also the happy and true anticipation of his future status as apostle and teacher of the nations. No sooner was he converted than Matthew drew after him a whole crowd of sinners along the same road to salvation. He took up his appointed duties while still taking his first steps in the faith, and from that hour he fulfilled his obligation and thus grew in merit. To see a deeper understanding of the great celebration Matthew held at his house, we must realise that he not only gave a banquet for the Lord at his earthly residence, but far more pleasing was the banquet set in his own heart which he provided through faith and love. Our Savior attests to this: Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

On hearing Christ's voice, we open the door to receive him, as it were, when we freely assent to his promptings and when we give ourselves over to doing what must be done. Christ, since he dwells in the hearts of his chosen ones through the grace of his love, enters so that he might eat with us and we with him. He ever refreshes us by the light of his presence insofar as we progress in our devotion to and longing for the things of heaven. He himself is delighted by such a pleasing banquet. - Bede the Venerable (Hom. 21: CCL 122, 149-15) Read whole post......

Friday, May 26, 2006

SAINT PHILIP NERI Founder (1515-1595)

Spiritual Bouquet: Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. St. Luke 10:41

Saint Philip, one of the glories of Florence, was born of an illustrious Christian family in that city of Tuscany, in 1515. His parents lived in the fear of God and the observance of His commandments, and raised their son to be obedient and respectful. Already when he was five years old, he was called good little Philip. He lost his mother while still very young, and it seemed he should have died himself when he was about eight or nine years old. He fell, along with a horse, onto a pavement from a certain height. Though the horse landed on top of him, he was entirely uninjured. He attributed his preservation to a special intervention of God, destined to permit him to dedicate his life to the service of God.
He fled from a prospective inheritance to Rome, where he desired to study, and there undertook to tutor the two sons of a nobleman who offered him refuge. He led so edifying a life that word of it reached Florence, and his sister commented that she had never doubted he would become a great Saint. He studied philosophy and theology, and after a short time seemed to need to study no longer, so clear were the truths of God in his mind. He always kept the Summa Theologica of Saint Thomas Aquinas near him for consultation; this and the Holy Bible were his only books.
Saint Philip seemed surrounded by a celestial splendor, the effect of his angelic purity, which he never lost in spite of the many dangers that surrounded him; he came victorious from every combat, through prayer, tears and confidence in God. He often visited the hospitals to serve the sick and assist the poor. At night he would go to the cemetery of Saint Callixtus, where he prayed near the tombs of the martyrs.
He attracted a number of companions who desired to perform these devotions with him. He loved young boys most of all; he wanted to warn them against the world’s seductions and conserve their virtue in all its freshness. He would wait for them and talk to them after their classes; and many whom his examples impressed consecrated themselves to God. Assisted by his excellent confessor, he founded a Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity for the relief of the poor, convalescents, and pilgrims who had no place of refuge. He gave lodging to many in the great jubilee year of 1550, even receiving several complete families in the houses he had obtained.

At the age of 36 he was not yet a priest, and his confessor commanded him under obedience to receive Holy Orders, which he did in the same year of 1551. He joined a society of priests and heard many confessions. Saint Ignatius of Loyola called him Philip the Bell, saying he was like a parish church bell, calling everyone to church, but remaining in his tower — this because he determined so many souls to enter into religion, without doing so himself. He himself was about to follow Saint Francis Xavier’s renowned examples, by going to India with twenty young companions, but was advised by an interior voice to consult a saintly priest. He was then told that the will of God was that he live in the city of Rome as in a desert.
The famous Society of Saint Philip, called The Oratory, began when a group of good priests joined him in giving instructions and conferences and presiding prayers; for them he drew up some rules which were soon approved. He became renowned all over Italy for the instances of bilocation which were duly verified during his lifetime. Many holy servants of God were formed in the Oratory, a society of studious priests, made ready by ten years of preparation in the common life for a service founded on sacerdotal perfection. Saint Philip died peacefully in 1595 on the Feast of Corpus Christi at the age of 80, having been ill for only one day. He bears the noble titles of Patron of Works of Youth, and Apostle of Rome.

Reflection. Philip wished his spiritual children to serve God, like the first Christians, in gladness of heart. He said such was the true filial spirit, expanding the soul, giving it liberty and perfection in action, power over temptations, and aid towards its final perseverance.

Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 5. Read whole post......

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ascension Day - Holy Day of obligation


O King of glory! Who didst on this day ascend victoriously above the heavens, leave us not orphans, but send us, from the Father, the Spirit of truth Whom Thou hast promised, and receive us all into Thy glory.
Why, on this day, is the Easter-candle extinguished and carried away after the Gospel? It is done in remembrance of the hour in which Christ, Who is typified by the Easter-candle, left this Church.

Spritual readings from the "Roman Breviary" - at Matins

Jesu, tibi sit glória,
Qui victor in cælum redis,
Cum Patre et almo Spíritu,
In sempitérna sæcula.  Amen.

Lesson 1-3
Book of the Apostles Ch 1; 1-14

The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pértaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.  For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?  And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.  And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.  Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.  And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.  These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

EXPLANATION (after "Devout Instructions" by L.Goffine)
For forty days after His resurrection, Jesus remained with His disciples, to convince them of the truth of His resurrection, to teach them in regard to His kingdom, that is, His Church, and their vocation; and as they were still thinking of an earthly kingdom to be established by Christ, He refferred them to the instruction of the Holy Ghost, and then ascended to heaven, whence he shall come to be our judge. Rejoice over the instructions which are preserved for you through the Church; but rejoice especially that Jesus has taken possession of the glory gained by his most profound humiliations, for now he is there an intercessor for you; there He prepares for you a mansion; there is now your home. To-day look up to heaven where Christ is, hope, suffer, love, and pray.

Psalm 46.  Omnes Gentes

CLAP your hands together, all ye peoples: * O sing unto God with the voice of melody.
2  For the LORD is high, and to be feared; * he is the great King upon all the earth.
3  He shall subdue the peoples under us, * and the nations under our feet.
4  He shall choose out an heritage for us, * even the excellency of Jacob, whom he loved.
5  God is gone up with a merry noise, * and the LORD with the sound of the trump.
6  O sing praises, sing praises unto our God; * O sing praises, sing praises unto our King.
7  For God is the King of all the earth: * sing ye praises with understanding.
8  God reigneth over the nations; * God sitteth upon his holy seat.
9  The princes of the peoples are joined unto the people of the God of Abraham; * for God, which is very high exalted, doth defend the earth, as it were with a shield.

Sermon of St. Leo, the Pope on Ascension

After the blessed and glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (wherein was raised up in three days that true Temple of God which had been destroyed by the ímpiety of Jewry), there came by God's providential ordering a season of forty days, the annual commemoration of which endeth on this day.  The original great forty days, dearly beloved, were spent by the Lord in profitable instruction for our benefit.  On this wise, his bodily presence was still given to the earth during all these forty days, that our faith in his resurrection might be armed with all needful proofs.  For the death of Christ had troubled the hearts of many of his disciples ; their thoughts were sad when they remembered his agony upon the cross, his giving up of the Ghost, and the burial in the grave of his lifeless body : and so a sort of hesitation had begun to weigh on them. Hence the most blessed Apostles and all the disciples who had been fearful concerning the death on the cross, and doubtful of the trustworthiness of the report of Christ's resurrection, were so strengthened by the clear demonstration of the truth, that, when they saw the Lord going up into the heights of heaven, they sorrowed not ; nay, they were even filled with great joy.  And, in all verity, it was a mighty and unspeakable cause of rejoicing for all the holy multitude of believers, when they perceived that the nature of mankind was thus exalted above all creatures, even the heavenly spirits, so as to pass above the ranks of the Angels, and be raised beyond the heights of the Archangels.  For on this wise they perceived that no limit was set upon the uplifting of that nature short of the right hand of the Eternal Father, where it was to be Sharer of his throne, and Partaker of his glory ; and nevertheless it was still nothing more than that nature of man, which the Son hath taken upon him.
Therefore, dearly beloved, let us also rejoice with fitting joy.  For the Ascension of Christ is exaltation for us.  And whither the glory of the Head of the Church is passed in, thither is the hope of the body of the Church called on to follow.  Let us rejoice with exceeding great joy, and give God glad thanks.  This day is not only the possession of paradise made sure unto us, but in Christ our Head we are actually entering into the heavenly mansions above.  Through the unspeakable goodness of Christ we have gained more than ever we lost by the envy of the devil.  For those whom our venomous enemy cast down from the happiness of their first estate, those same hath the Son of God made to be of one body with himself, and hath given them a place at the right hand of the Father : with whom he liveth and reigneth, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.

The Lesson is taken from the Holy Gospel according to Mark Ch. 16; 14-20
14 At length he appeared to the eleven as they were at table: and he upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart, because they did not believe them who had seen him after he was risen again. 15 And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues. 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. 19 And the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God. 20 But they going forth preached every where: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.

"Let us," says St Augustine, "in spirit, ascend with Christ, that when the time comes we may follow Him in body also. But we must know, dear brethren, that neither pride, nor avarice, nor impurity can ascend with Christ, our Lord, for pride does not keep company with the teacher of humility, nor wickedness with the source of all good, nor impurity with the Son of the Virgin." (from "Devout Instructions" by Fr L.Goffine)

From the Homily 29 of St. Gregory the Pope

I may be allowed to say that the disciples' slowness to believe that the Lord had indeed risen from the dead, was not so much their weakness as our strength.  In consequence of their doubts, the fact of the Resurrection was demonstrated by many infallible proofs.  These proofs we read and acknowledge.  What then assureth our faith, if not their doubt?  For my part, I put my trust in Thomas, who doubted long, much more than in Mary Magdalene, who believed at once.  Through his doubting, he came actually to handle the holes of the Wounds, and thereby closed up any wound of doubt in our hearts.To confirm to our minds the trustworthiness of the fact that our Lord did indeed rise again from the dead, it is well for us to remark one of the statements of Luke : Eating together with them, he commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem : and a little afterward : While they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight.  Consider these words, note well these mysteries.  After eating together with them, he was taken up.  He ate and ascended : that the fact of his eating might shew the reality of the Body in which he went up.  But Mark telleth us that before the Lord ascended into heaven he upbraided his disciples with their unbelief and hardness of heart.  From this I know not what we should gather, but that the Lord then upbraided his disciples, from whom he was about to be parted in the body, to the end that the words which he spake unto them as he left them might be the deeper imprinted on their hearts.When, then, he had rebuked the hardness of their hearts, what command did he give them?  Let us hear.  Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.  Was the Holy Gospel, then, my brethren, to be preached to things insensate, or to brute beasts, that the Lord said to his disciples : Preach the Gospel to every creature?  Nay ; but by the words Every creature, we must understand man, in whom are combined qualities of all creatures.  Being he hath in common with stones, life in common with treees, feeling in common with beasts, understanding in common with angels.  If, then, man hath something in common with every creature, man is to a certain extent every creature.  The Gospel, then, if it be preached to man only, is preached to every creature. Read whole post......

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Our Lady, Help of Christians - Memorial 24 May
The feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, was instituted by Pope Pius VII. By order of Napoleon, the Pope was arrested on 5 July 1808, and imprisoned at Savona and Fontainebleau. In January 1814, after the battle of Leipzig, he was brought back to Savona and set free on 17 March, the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, the patroness of Savona. The journey to Rome was a veritable triumphal march with the pontiff, attributing the victory of the Church after so much agony and distress, to the Blessed Virgin. He visited many of her sanctuaries on the way, crowning her images, and entered Rome on 24 May 1814 to enthusiastic crowds. To commemorate his own sufferings and those of the Church during his exile he extended the feast of the Seven Dolours of Mary to the universal Church on 18 September 1814.

When Napoleon left Elba and returned to Paris, Murat was about to march through the Papal States from Naples. Pius VII fled to Savona on 22 March 1815, where he crowned the image of Our Lady of Mercy on 10 May 1815. Following the Congress of Vienna and Battle of Waterloo, he returned to Rome on 7 July 1815. To give thanks to God and Our Lady he instituted the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians for the Papal States on 15 September 1815; is was celebrated on 24 May, the anniversary of his first return. The dioceses of Tuscany adopted it on 12 February 1816, and it spread over nearly the entire Latin Church. They hymns of the Office were composed by Brandimarte. It is the patronal feast of Australasia, a double of the first class with an octave, and is celebrated with great splendour in the churches of the Fathers of the Foreign Missions of Paris. It has attained special celebrity since Saint John Bosco dedicated the mother church of his congregation at Turin to Our Lady, Help of Christians. The Salesian Fathers have carried the devotion to their numerous establishments, and prayers for her intervention are credited with the miraculous cure of Blessed Artemide Zatti.

- taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia article by F G Holweck, copyright 1911, Nihil Obstat, 1 February 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor; Imprimatur. +John Read whole post......

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"MARY'S HUMILITY" fragments from "Divine Intimacy" by Fr Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene OCD

PRESENCE OF GOD - O Mary, humblest of all creatures, make me humble of heart.

1. St. Bernard says: "It is not hard to be humble in a hidden life, but to remain so in the midst of honours is a truly rare and beautiful virtue." The Blessed Virgin was certainly the woman whom God honoured most highly, whom He raised above all other creatures; yet no creature was so humble and lowly as she. A holy rivalry seemed to exist between Mary and God; the higher God elevated her, the lowlier she became in her humility. The Angel called he "ful of grace", and Mary "was troubled" (LK,1, 28.29). According to St. Alphonsus' explanation, "Mary was troubled because she was filled with humility, dislike praise, and desired that God only be praised." The Angel revealed to he the sublime mission which was to be entrusted to her by the Most High, and Mary declared herself "the handmaid of the Lord" (ibid.,38). Her thoughts did not linger over the immense honour that would be hers as the woman chosen from all woman to be the Mother of the Son of God; but she contemplated in wonder the great mystery of a God who willed to become incarnate in the womb of a poor creature. If God wished to descend so far as to give Himself to her as a Son, to what depths should not his little handmaid abase herself? the more she understood the grandeur of the mystery, the immensity of the divine gift, the more she humnbled herself, sumberging herself in her nothingness. Her attitude was the same when Elizabeth greeted her, "Blessed arethou amongs women" (ibid.,42). These words did not astonish her, for she was already the Mother of God; yet she remained steadfast in her profound humility. She attributed everything to God whose mercies she sang, acknowledging the condenscension, with which He had "regarded the humility of His handmaid" (ibid,.., 48). That God had performed great works in her she knew and acknowledged, but instead of boasting aout them, she directed everything to His glory. With reason St. Bernardine exclaims: "As no other creature, after the Son of God, has been raised in dignity and grace equal to Mary, so neither has anyone descended so deep in to the abyss of the humilityu." Behold the effect that graces and divine favours should produced in us: an increase of humility, a greater awarness of our nothingness.
2. "if you cannot equal Mary's abolute purity," says St. Bernard, "at least imitate her humility. The virtue of chastity is admirable, but humility is essential.......We can be saved without virginity, but not without humility. Even Mary's virginity would not have been pleasing to God without humility....

...O Mary, had you not been humble, the Holy Spirit would not have come uopn, and you woul not have become Mother of God. O(St Bernardnien....Grant then O Holy Virgin, that your, which was so pleasing, may obtain pardon for my pride, and a truly humble heart. Read whole post......

Monday, May 22, 2006


Psalm 43;26
26 Arise, O Lord, help us and redeem us for thy name's sake.
Litaniae Sanctorum
Kyrie, eleison (Kyrie, eleison.)
Christe, eleison (Christe, eleison.)
Kyrie, eleison (Kyrie, eleison.)
Christe, audi nos (Christe, audi nos.)
Christe, exaudi nos (Christe, exaudi nos.)
Pater de caelis, Deus, (miserere nobis.)
Fili, Redemptor mundi, Deus, (miserere nobis.)
Spiritus Sancte, Deus, (miserere nobis.)
Sancta Trinitas, unus Deus, (miserere nobis.)
Sancta Maria, (ora pro nobis)
Sancta Dei Genetrix,
Sancta Virgo virginum,

Sancte Michael, (ora pro nobis)
Sancte Gabriel,
Sancte Raphael,
Omnes sancti Angeli et Archangeli,
Omnes sancti beatorum Spirituum ordines,
Sancte Ioannes Baptista,
Sancte Ioseph,
Omnes sancti Patriarchae et Prophetae, (orate pro nobis)

Sancte Petre, (ora pro nobis)
Sancte Paule,
Sancte Andrea,
Sancte Iacobe,
Sancte Ioannes,
Sancte Thoma,
Sancte Iacobe,
Sancte Philippe,
Sancte Bartolomaee,
Sancte Matthaee,
Sancte Simon,
Sancte Thaddaee,
Sancte Matthia,
Sancte Barnaba,
Sancte Luca,
Sancte Marce,
Omnes sancti Apostoli et Evangelistae, (orate pro nobis)
Omnes sancti discipuli Domini,

Omnes sancti Innocentes, (orate pro nobis)
Sancte Stephane, (ora pro nobis)
Sancte Laurenti,
Sancte Vincenti,
Sancti Fabiane et Sebastiane,
Sancti Iohannes et Paule,
Sancti Cosma et Damiane,
Sancti Gervasi et Protasi,
Omnes sancti martyres,

Sancte Sylvester, (ora pro nobis)
Sancte Gregori,
Sancte Ambrosi,
Sancte Augustine,
Sancte Hieronyme,
Sancte Martine,
Sancte Nicolae,
Omnes sancti Pontifices et Confessores, (orate pro nobis)
Omnes sancti Doctores,

Sancte Antoni, (ora pro nobis)
Sancte Benedicte,
Sancte Bernarde,
Sancte Dominice,
Sancte Francisce,
Omnes sancti Sacerdotes et Levitae,
Omnes sancti Monachi et Eremitae,

Sancta Maria Magdalena, (ora pro nobis)
Sancta Agatha,
Sancta Lucia,
Sancta Agnes,
Sancta Caecilia,
Sancta Catharina,
Sancta Anastasia,
Omnes sanctae Virgines et Viduae
ore(te) pro nobis
Omnes Sancti et Sanctae Dei, (intercedite pro nobis.)
Propitius esto, (parce nos, Domine.)
Propitius esto, (exaudi nos, Domine.

Ab omni malo, (libera nos Domine)
Ab omni peccato,
Ab ira tua,
A subitanea et improvisa morte,
Ab insidiis diaboli,
Ab ira et odio et omni mala voluntate,
A spiritu fornicationis,
A fulgure et tempestate,
A flagello terraemotus,
A peste, fame et bello,
A morte perpetua,
Per mysterium sanctae Incarnationis tuae,
Per adventum tuum,
Per nativitatem tuam,
Per baptismum et sanctum ieiunium tuum,
Per crucem et passionem tuam,
Per mortem et sepulturam tuam,
Per sanctam resurrectionem tuam,
Per admirabilem ascensionem tuam,
Per adventum Spiritus Sancti Paracliti,
In die iudicii,
Te rogamus audi nos
Ut nobis parcas, - (Te rogamus audi nos)
Ut nobis indulgeas, -
Ut ad veram paenitentiam nos perducere digneris, -
Ut Ecclesiam tuam sanctam regere et conservare digneris, -
Ut domum Apostolicum et omnes ecclesiasticos ordines in sancta religione conservare digneris, -
Ut inimicos sanctae Ecclesiae humiliare digneris, -
Ut regibus et principibus christianis pacem et veram concordiam donare digneris,
Ut cuncto populo christiano pacem et unitatem largiri digneris,
Ut omnes errantes ad unitatem Ecclesiae revocare, et infideles universos ad Evangelii lumen perducere
Ut nosmetipsos in tuo sancto servitio confortare et conservare digneris,
Ut mentes nostras ad caelestia desideria erigas,
Ut omnibus benefactoribus nostris sempiterna bona retribuas,
Ut animas nostras, fratrum, propinquorum et benefactorum nostrorum ab aeterna damnatione eripias,
Ut fructus terrae dare et conservare digneris,
Ut omnibus fidelibus defunctis requiem aeternam donare digneris,
Ut nos exaudire digneris,
Fili Dei,
Te rogamus audi nos
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, (parce nobis, Domine.)
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, (exaudi nos, Domine.)
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, (miserere nobis.)

Christe, (audi nos.)
Christe, (exaudi nos.)
Kyrie, eleison. (Kyrie, eleison.)
Christe, eleison. (Christe, eleison.)
Kyrie, eleison. (Kyrie, eleison.)

[Pater noster silentio] Et ne nos inducas in tentationem. (Sed libera nos a malo.)

Psalm 69

Deus in adjutorium. A prayer in persecution.

2 O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me. 3 Let them be confounded and ashamed that seek my soul: 4 Let them be turned backward, and blush for shame that desire evils to me: Let them be presently turned away blushing for shame that say to me: Tis well, tis well. 5 Let all that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee; and let such as love thy salvation say always: The Lord be magnified.

4 "Tis well, tis well"... Euge, euge. St. Jerome renders it, vah, vah! which is the voice of one insulting and deriding. Some understand it as a detestation of deceitful flatterers.

6 But I am needy and poor; O God, help me. Thou art my helper and my deliverer: O Lord, make no delay.

St James Epistle 5;16-20

16 Confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much. 17 Elias was a man passible like unto us: and with prayer he prayed that it might not rain upon the earth, and it rained not for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again: and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. 19 My brethren, if any of you err from the truth, and one convert him: 20 He must know that he who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way, shall save his soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins.

16 "Confess therefore your sins one to another"... That is, to the priests of the church, whom (ver. 14) he had ordered to be called for, and brought in to the sick; moreover, to confess to persons who had no power to forgive sins, would be useless. Hence the precept here means, that we must confess to men whom God hath appointed, and who, by their ordination and jurisdiction, have received the power of remitting sins in his name.

Rogation Days
"Rogation" comes from the Latin "rogare," which means "to ask," and these are days on which we seek to appease God's anger, ask His mercy, avert His chastisements manifest through natural disasters, and ask for His blessings, particularly with regard to farming, gardening, and other agricultural pursuits. It is set aside to remind us how radically dependent we are on Mother Earth, how we should be good stewards, and how prayer can help protect us from nature's ways.

Rogation Days are divided between the Major Rogation -- 25 April (by coincidence alone, the Feast of St. Mark) -- and the Minor Rogation, which consists of the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Ascension Thursday. The Major Rogation is of Roman origin, but the Minor Rogations came about in the 5th c., when St. Mamertus, Bishop of Vienne, Dauphiné, France instituted them after a series of calamities, including earthquakes. They became honored throughout France, and in A.D. 816, Pope Leo III introduced them into Rome, after which they became standard throughout the Church. In the Novus Ordo world, the honoring of Rogation Days is left to the discretion of local Bishops.
The liturgy, during which the priest is vested in purple, begins with Psalm 43:26, which is followed by the Litany of the Saints. At the Litany's "Sancta Maria," all stand and the procession begins, which in older times was (and still is in rural areas) usually around the border of the parish, giving to the procession the name of "beating the bounds." The Litany is followed by Psalm 69, a series of petitions, and the Mass, with readings from James 5:16-20 and Luke 11:5-14. In places where the Rogation Days are not kept, all Catholics should pray that God blesses the earth and renders it fruitful for us, and that we are protected from nature's whims. It is also a good day to read great inspirational works that see nature as a sign of God's Goodness; works such as St. Robert Bellarmine's large work, "The Minds Ascent to God by the Ladder of Created Things," or St. Francis's brief "Canticle of the Creatures" would be lovely:

Canticle of the Creatures
By St. Francis of Assisi

Most High, all powerful, good Lord God, Thine are the praises, the glory, the honour, and every blessing, To Thee alone, most High, do they belong, and no man is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be Thee, my Lord, with all Thy creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, Who is the day and through whom Thou givest us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour; and bears a likeness of Thee, Most High One.

Praised be Thee, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be Thee, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather through which Thou givest sustenance to Thy creatures.

Praised be Thee, my Lord, through Sister Water, which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be Thee, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom Thou lightest the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be Thee, My Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.

Praised be Thee, My Lord, through those who give pardon for the sake of Thy love, and bear infirmity and tribulation. Blessed are they who endure in peace, for by Thee, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be Thee, my Lord, through our Sister Death, from whom no living man can escape. Woe only to those who die in mortal sin. Blessed are those whom death will find in Thy most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks And serve Him with great humility.

After Read whole post......

Sunday, May 21, 2006


At Matins - from Nocturn I, Lesson iii
St Peter Epistle c.1; 13-21

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

Nocturn ii
From the Book of St Ambrose, Bishop, on the faith in the resurrection
Lesson iv-vi
The Wisdom of God could not die. And what could not die could not rise from the dead. Therefore the Wisdom of God took to himself flesh which could die, so that that what is wont to die (as is its nature) might die, and rise again. Moreover the resurrection of the dead could not come otherwise than by man ; for since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. Therefore, as Man, he arose again, since it was as Man that he had died. And thus Manhood was quickened but the Godhead was the Quickener. He was Man, then, as touching the flesh ; but now he is God over all things. For we know Christ no longer after the flesh ; but we owe it to the flesh that we know him as the first-fruits of them that slept, and the first-begotten of the dead.
The first fruits are of the same kind and nature as the other fruits, and they are brought as an offering to God, to win his blessing on the ingathering ; an holy offering made on behalf of all, and as it were the homage of restored nature. Christ then is the first-fruits of them that sleep. But is he the first fruits only of his own beloved ones? That is, only of those who fall asleep in him, and lie as it were untouched by death, wrapt in a sweet slumber? Or is he the first-fruits of all the dead? But (as Scripture saith) as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. So that, as in Adam were the first-fruits of the death, wherein all do die, even so in Christ were the first-fruits of the resurrection, wherein we all do rise again. But let no man be hopeless ; neither let the righteous think it a belittlement of righteousness that the resurrection will be common to all men ; for the righteous do rightly look forward to that day wherein the harvest of his life will nobly realize itself. All indeed shall rise again, but, as saith the Apostle : Every man in his own order. The harvest of God's mercy will be for all, but in reward one man shall differ from another.
We note how grievous an outrage against God it is not to believe in the resurrection. If we shall not rise again, then did Christ die in vain, then is Christ not risen. For if he rose for us, and if he had not us to rise for, then certainly, he is not risen. In him the world, in him the heavens, in him the earth rose again. For there shall be a new heaven, and a new earth. He needed not to rise again, so far as it concerned himself, whom death could not hold in bonds. For although he died as Man, yet was he free in the netherworld itself. Wouldest thou hear how free? I am as a man that hath no strength, free among the dead. Well is he called free, who was able to take up his life again at will, even as he had said : Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Well is he called free, who descended into hell only to redeem others therefrom.

Benediction 7: May the Gospel's holy lection be our safeguard and protection.
R. Amen.
Read whole post......

"Efficacious prayer" - fragments from "Divine Intimacy" by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen OCD.

PRESENCE OF GOD - O, Jesus, make me understand that my prayer is of no avail unless it is made in Your Name; that my faith is vain unless I convert it into works


1. In today's Gospel [Fifth Sunday after Easter], taken from the discourse of Jesus after Last Supper (Jn 16, 23-30), the Church continues to prepare us for the Ascension and Pentecost. "I came forth from the Father and am come into the world," Jesus said "again I leave the world, and I go to the Father.". Thus He announces His approaching Ascension. Having reached the end of His ministry on earth, Jesus presents it in synthesis as a long journey from the Father to the world and from the world to the Father. These words repeat the idea of "pilgrimage", which every Christian should apply to his own life, considering it as a "night" during which his heart is turned toward the radiant tomorrow of eternal life.
"The hour cometh when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will show you plainly of the Father". Jesus is now referring to Pentecost, to the intervention of the Holy Spirit by whom Jesus will enlighten His Apostles, giving them a clear undestanding of the divine mysteries, so that the Father will no longer be unknown to them. All that we can study and learn about the things of God is a dead letter if the Holy Spirit does not enlighten us concerning them. Our need for Him is absolute; our desire for His coming should be unbounded. Yet another subject is brought to our attention in today's Gospel. Jesus had spoken to the Apostles many times about prayer and the way they should pray; today He reveals the secret of efficacious prayer: "If you ask the Father anything in My Name, he will give it you." Jesus is going, but He leaves the Apostles an unfailing means of approach to the Father and for our salvation, deserves to be "heard for His reverence (Heb. 5,7)"

2. To pray "in the Name of Jesus" establishes the conviction that our prayer, as well as all our good works, have no value unless they are founded on the infinite merits of Jesus. We must be presuaded that, however much we do or pray, we are always "unprofitable servants" (Lk 17,10); we have no sufficiency in ourselves, but all our sufficiency comes from Crucified. Consequently, the first condition of prayer made "in the Name of Jesus" is humility, an ever deeper and more realistic sense of nothingness. It must be complemented by the second condition, a boundless confidence in the merits of Jesus, which surpass all our poverty, misery, necessities, needs. In view of Jesus' infinite merits, we can never ask too much in His Name; we can never be too bold in imploring the plentitude of divine grace for our souls, in aspiring to that sanctity which is hidden, perhaps, but genuine. There is no fault, no want of fidelity, no evil tendency, no sin, which if sincerely detested, cannot be cleansed, purified, and pardoned by the Blood of Jesus; there is no weakness which He cannot cure, strenghten, and transform. Moreover,there is no creature of good will, no matter how weak and insignificant, who, in the Name of Jesus, cannot aspire to sanctity.
However, in order to make our prayer effective, a third condition is required: our life must correspond to our prayer, our faith must be translated in to good works. "Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was". This strong exhortation of St. James, which is found in today's Epistle (1, 22-27), is an urgent remainder of the practical character of the Christian life. Vain is our prayer, vain our confidence in God, if we do not add our generous efforts to perform all our duties, to live up to our high vocation. We can, and we should, hope for everything in the Name of Jesus, but He expects a constant effort on our part to be entirely faithful to Him.


...."O my the terrible sorrows of Your Son, pardon my sins! Grant, O God, that His goodness may overcome my wickedness, that His meekness may atone for my perversity, that His mildness may dominate my irascibility. May His humility make amends for my pride; His patience, for my impatience; His benignity, for my harshness; His obedience, for my disobedience; His tranquility, for my anxiety, His sweetness, for my bitterness; may His charity blot out my cruelty! "(St. Augustine). Read whole post......
Jesuit, Martyr

Spiritual Bouquet: Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me that I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls. St. Matthew 11:29

Saint Andrew Bobola, born in Poland in 1592, was sent while still young to the Jesuit school at Sandomir; his family had always protected the Jesuits and shown itself very liberal towards them. God blessed both the family and the Jesuits in this future martyr, who would bring both of them great glory. He entered that Order in 1611.

As a student he showed great talent, and after studying philosophy for three years taught it in their institutes. In 1622 he was ordained a priest. Three years later he was employed in preaching at the church of Saint Casimir at Wilna; in 1630 he became Superior of the residence of Bobruisk. During a pestilence he spared himself no pains in caring for the sick, without contracting the malady.

Saint Andrew in 1636 resigned his post as Superior to preach for twenty-one years along all the roads of Lithuania, which he was evangelizing. Poland and Lithuania, its neighbor, were being ravaged in those days by the Cossacks, Russians and Tartars, and the Jesuits suffered much from these invaders, who did not like them and their religion. The people were enduring great misery; Father Andrew sustained their courage and helped to combat the invading religious errors.

At Pinsk the Jesuits were offered a refuge by a Catholic prince. When Saint Andrew went there, he was already certain that he was going to martyrdom, as this was a center for the enemies of the Latin Church. Everywhere he was hooted and harassed, and the organized bad treatment continued for several years. Even the children hounded him, instructed by their elders. The holy priest considered it a joy to resemble his Master, for is not that the happiness of every disciple?

One day his enemies decided to put an end to him. They waited for him after he had said Mass, pursued him and attached him to a tree, where they beat him, then led him to their leader with a cord around his neck. The barbaric soldiers, at their chief’s orders, tore out one of his eyes, nearly severed his hand with a blow from a saber, then burnt him with torches, telling him to renounce his faith. He was then strangled and the skin of his head and back hacked off. Like the great Canadian martyr John de Brebeuf, his nose and lips were cut off, and he was thrown on a heap of rubble; but two hours later it was still necessary to end the life of the victim for Christ with a blow from a saber. He was buried by the Catholics at the Jesuit College at Pinsk.

Forty-five years later, by a miracle, God revealed the whereabouts of his forgotten tomb to the Jesuit Fathers, who had seen the continuing evils of war ruin many of their works. His tombstone, then buried underground, was found after the Saint appeared twice in vision to the Rector of the College, saying he wished to protect his brethren and the students, and indicating to him the location of his grave. His mutilated body was incorrupt, and a fine fragrance came from the open tomb. Saint Andrew was beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1853, and canonized in April of 1938 by Pope Pius XI.

Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 5. Read whole post......

Saturday, May 20, 2006

'Jesus, crucified for me, with the nails of Your love fasten my whole self to You' - St. Bernardine of Siena

Franciscan Missionary Preacher (1380-1444)

Spiritual Bouquet: Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. St. Matthew 11:2

One day in the year 1408 the great apostle Saint Vincent Ferrer suddenly interrupted his sermon, to declare that there was among his hearers a young Franciscan who would be one day a greater preacher than himself, and who would be placed in honor by the Church before himself. This unknown friar, who would be canonized only six years after his death, was Bernardine, then 28 years old. Of noble birth, he had spent his youth in works of mercy, caring for the sick before he entered religion at the age of 24.Owing to a speech defect, Bernardine’s success as a preacher at first seemed doubtful, but by the prayers of Our Lady, this obstacle was miraculously removed in 1417, and the Franciscan friar began an apostolate which lasted until he died. One day, preaching in praise of the Blessed Virgin, he applied to Her the verse of the Apocalypse: “A great sign appeared in heaven, a Woman clothed with the sun...” At once a brilliant star appeared over his head. He was understood, when he spoke in Italian, by listeners of the Greek language who knew only their maternal tongue. He obtained miraculous conversions and reformed the greater part of Italy by his burning words and by the power of the Holy Name of Jesus. He preached that devotion, displaying at the end of his sermons, the Holy Name written on a tablet. He was also a zealous apostle of the cult of Saint Joseph. It is said that during sixteen years, and some say eighteen, he did not pass a single day without preaching.But his success had to be purified by the cross. The Saint was denounced as a heretic, and his devotion as idolatrous. After many trials he lived to see his innocence proved. In 1427 he refused the bishopric of Siena, and a few years later two others, in order to continue his preaching. He miraculously cured lepers and other sick persons, and raised to life several deceased persons. The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, established in 1530, was extended to the entire Church in 1721 by Pope Innocent XIII.
Saint Bernardine was appointed Vicar General of his Order in 1438, which office he held for five years, then preached again for a time until his last illness forced his retreat in 1444. He died on Ascension Eve of that year, while his brethren were chanting the antiphon, “Father, I have manifested Thy Name to men.” Already in 1450, a Jubilee year, he was canonized.

Sources: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Heavenly Friends: a Saint for each Day, by Rosalie Marie Levy (Saint Paul Editions: Boston, 1958).

Devotion to the Holy Name - fragments taken from

Luke 2:21 "...Et vocatum est Nomen eius IESUS"
("And His Name was called JESUS")

Psalm 90:14 "Because he hoped in me I will deliver him:
I will protect him because he hath known My Name."

Zacharias 10:12 "I will strengthen them in the Lord,
and they shall walk in His Name, saith the Lord."

Apocalypse 3:8 "I know thy works. Behold, I have given before thee a door opened, which no man can shut: because thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied My Name."

Apocalypse 15:4 "Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and magnify Thy Name?..."

Throughout Sacred Scripture, God Himself names those who have a great role to play in our salvation. As recorded in the fifth chapter of Genesis, He named the first man Adam, which means "Man of the Earth", 1 and He changed the name of our spiritual Father from Abram to "Abraham," which means "Father of Many Nations," and changed that of Abraham's wife, Sarai, to "Sarah," which means "Princess" and foretells that she would be the spiritual mother to kings (Genesis 17). Our first Pope had been named "Simon" before he became "Peter" to signify his status as the earthly rock of the Church as Christ is the Foundation and Head. And so, too, the Name "Jesus" has meaning: His Holy Name means "God Saves" ("Emmanuel"), and that Our Lord would receive this Name was foretold by the divinely inspired Prophet Isaias:

Isaias 7:14-15
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. He shall eat butter and honey, that he may know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good.
Our Lady learned how she was to name her Child from the Archangel Gabriel:

Luke 1:26-33
And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end.
... and St. Joseph heard it from an angel in a dream:

Matthew 1:18-25
Now the generation of Christ was in this wise. When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name JESUS. For he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. And Joseph rising up from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife. And he knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Then, when He was circumcised on the 8th day after His Nativity, He received the Holy Name:

Luke 2:21
And after eight days were accomplished, that the child should be circumcised, his name was called JESUS, which was called by the angel, before he was conceived in the womb.
And what of it? St. Peter sums it up after he healed the lame man and was then asked by the high priest, "By what power, or by what name, have you done this?":

Acts 4:8-12
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said to them: Ye princes of the people, and ancients, hear: If we this day are examined concerning the good deed done to the infirm man, by what means he hath been made whole: Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him this man standeth here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other Name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.
When we say the Name "Jesus" (or "Iesus," "Iesu," "Yeshua," etc.) consciously, with deep reverence, we are re-realizing the core Truth of the holy Faith: "God Saves" -- and all gratitude and humility are summoned. Say that Holy Name, ponder it, feel it in your mouth and in your heart! "IESUS -- GOD SAVES!" When you pronounce it, know its meaning and humble yourself before it; feel in your heart how you are addressing and referring to Lord Christ. "IESUS -- SAVIOR!"

So holy is His Name that uttering it piously is an indulgenced act. So revered is it that:

Catholic men remove their hats any time and anywhere it is heard or spoken by them, and all Catholics bow their heads when speaking it or hearing it. 2 when His Name is taken in vain, the Catholic in the room will (or at least should) make reparation by crossing himself and praying "Sit nomen Dómini benedíctum!" ("Blessed be the Name of the Lord!"), to which another Catholic who might be in the room replies, "Ex hoc nunc, et usque in sæculum!" ("from this time forth for evermore!") or "per ómnia saecula saeculórum" ("unto ages of ages"). Inspired by the example and words of St. Bernardine of Siena (see below), we place the monogram of His Name ("IHS") over our doors for protection, in the same way that the Israelites in Egypt used lamb's blood during the first Passover:
Exodus 12:21-24
And Moses called all the ancients of the children of Israel, and said to them: Go take a lamb by your families, and sacrifice the Phase. And dip a bunch of hyssop in the blood that is at the door, and sprinkle the transom of the door therewith, and both the door cheeks: let none of you go out of the door of his house till morning. For the Lord will pass through striking the Egyptians: and when he shall see the blood on the transom, and on both the posts, he will pass over the door of the house, and not suffer the destroyer to come into your houses and to hurt you. Thou shalt keep this thing as a law for thee and thy children for ever. His Name is invoked in times of fear and temptation, and devils flee at the sound of it.
This Catholic attitude of deep respect toward the Holy Name is exactly as it should be according to Sacred Scripture:

Philippians 2:8-10
He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: That in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth:
It is "in His Name" that the Gentiles shall hope (Matthew 12:21); "in the Name of Jesus Christ" that the Apostles baptized (Acts 2:38), healed (Acts 3:6, 16), cast out demons (Acts 16:18), preached (Acts 9:27), and anointed (James 5:14); it is "by the Name" of Jesus that signs and wonders were seen (Acts 4:30).

And it is in His Name that we should place our faith, do our works, and say our prayers:

I John 3:23
And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the Name of his Son Jesus Christ: and love one another, as He hath given commandment unto us.

Colossians 3:17
All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.

John 16:23-24
...Amen, amen I say to you: if you ask the Father any thing in My Name, He will give it you. Hitherto you have not asked any thing in My Name. Ask, and you shall receive; that your joy may be full.

Formalized devotion to the Holy Name is the fruit of the work of St. Bernardine of Siena, A.D. 1380-1444, the Franciscan who reformed his Order and preached fiery sermons all over Italy. An excerpt from one: When a fire is lit to clear a field, it burns off all the dry and useless weeds and thorns. When the sun rises and darkness is dispelled, robbers, night-prowlers and burglars hide away. So when Paul's voice was raised to preach the Gospel to the nations, like a great clap of thunder in the sky, his preaching was a blazing fire carrying all before it. It was the sun rising in full glory. Infidelity was consumed by it, false beliefs fled away, and the truth appeared like a great candle lighting the whole world with its brilliant flame.

By word of mouth, by letters, by miracles, and by the example of his own life, Saint Paul bore the Name of Jesus wherever he went. He praised the Name of Jesus "at all times," but never more than when "bearing witness to his faith."

Moreover, the Apostle did indeed carry this Name "before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel" as a light to enlighten all nations. And this was his cry wherever he journeyed: "The night is passing away, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves honorably as in the day." Paul himself showed forth the burning and shining-light set upon a candlestick, everywhere proclaiming "Jesus, and Him crucified."

And so the Church, the Bride of Christ strengthened by his testimony, rejoices with the psalmist, singing: "O God from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds." The psalmist exhorts her to do this, as he says: "Sing to the Lord, and bless His Name, proclaim His salvation day after day." And this salvation is Jesus, Her savior.
During these very popular sermons, he would hold up for veneration the monogram of Christ's Name -- the letters "IHS" (or "JHS") -- surrounded by rays. This ancient monogram is a Latinization of the Greek monograms for Iesous Christos, "IH XP" and "IC XC," and it became even more popularized after St. Bernardine encouraged a playing card maker in Bologna -- a man whose business had been ruined because of the Saint's preaching against gambling -- to make holy cards depicting it instead of making his usual fare. St. Bernardine's apostleship of the Holy Name was carried on by St. John Capistran, A.D. 1385-1456, and to them both is attributed the Litany of the Holy Name.

Because of the influence of St. Bernardine's work, the Name "Jesus" was added to the Hail Mary prayer, and the Feast of the Holy Name was later added to the calendar (celebrated on the 1st Sunday of the year, or 2 January if this Sunday falls on the 1st, 6th, or 7th). The office of this Mass was written by Bernardine dei Busti, and it makes use of the beautiful 12th century hymn, Iesu Dulcis Memoria which speaks of His Name and was written by another who had devotion to it, St. Bernard of Clairvaux (A.D. 1090-1153). The entire month of January is devoted to the worship of the Holy Name and to Christ's Divine Childhood.
Honor the Holy Name of Our Lord, and use it with only the deepest reverence. As St. John the Evangelist described his vision of the end of time when writing from the island of Patmos:

Apocalypse 22:1-4
And He showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street thereof, and on both sides of the river, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruits every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no curse any more; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. And they shall see His face: and His Name shall be on their foreheads.
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"The secret of Mary" by St. Louis Marie de Montfort continued-

3. The interior constituents of this consecration and its spirit

43. I have already said that this devotion consists in performing all our actions with Mary, in Mary, through Mary, and for Mary.

44. It is not enough to give ourselves just once as a slave to Jesus through Mary; nor is it enough to renew that consecration once a month or once a week. That alone would make it just a passing devotion and would not raise the soul to the level of holiness which it is capable of reaching. It is easy to enrol in a confraternity; easy to undertake this devotion, and say every day the few vocal prayers prescribed. The chief difficulty is to enter into its spirit, which requires an interior dependence on Mary, and effectively becoming her slave and the slave of Jesus through her. I have met many people who with admirable zeal have set about practising exteriorly this holy slavery of Jesus and Mary, but I have met only a few who have caught its interior spirit, and fewer still who have persevered in it.

Act with Mary

45. 1. The essential practice of this devotion is to perform all our actions with Mary. This means that we must take her as the accomplished model for all we have to do.

46. Before undertaking anything, we must forget self and abandon our own views. We must consider ourselves as a mere nothing before God, as being personally incapable of doing anything supernaturally worthwhile or anything conducive to our salvation. We must have habitual recourse to our Lady, becoming one with her and adopting her intentions, even though they are unknown to us. Through Mary we must adopt the intentions of Jesus. In other words, we must become an instrument in Mary's hands for her to act in us and do with us what she pleases, for the greater glory of her Son; and through Jesus for the greater glory of the Father. In this way , we pursue our interior life and make spiritual progress only in dependence on Mary.

Act in Mary

47. 2. We must always act in Mary, that is to say, we must gradually acquire the habit of recollecting ourselves interiorly and so form within us an idea or a spiritual image of Mary. She must become, as it were, an Oratory for the soul where we offer up our prayers to God without fear of being ignored. She will be as a Tower of David for us where we can seek safety from all our enemies. She will be a burning lamp lighting up our inmost soul and inflaming us with love for God. She will be a sacred place of repose where we can contemplate God in her company. Finally Mary will be the only means we will use in going to God, and she will become our intercessor for everything we need. When we pray we will pray in Mary. When we receive Jesus in Holy Communion we will place him in Mary for him to take his delight in her. If we do anything at all, it will be in Mary, and in this way Mary will help us to forget self everywhere and in all things.

Act through Mary

48. 3. We must never go to our Lord except through Mary, using her intercession and good standing with him. We must never be without her when praying to Jesus.

Act for Mary

49. 4. We must perform all our actions for Mary, which means that as slaves of this noble Queen we will work only for her, promoting her interests and her high renown, and making this the first aim in all our acts, while the glory of God will always be our final end. In everything we must renounce self- love because more often than not, without our being aware of it, selfishness sets itself up as the end of all we work for. We should often repeat from the depths of our heart: "Dear Mother, it is to please you that I go here or there, that I do this or that, that I suffer this pain or this injury."

50. Beware, chosen soul, of thinking that it is more perfect to direct your work and intention straight to Jesus or straight to God. Without Mary, your work and your intention will be of little value. But if you go to God through Mary, your work will become Mary's work, and consequently will be most noble and most worthy of God.

51. Again, beware of doing violence to yourself, endeavouring to experience pleasure in your prayers and good deeds. Pray and act always with something of that pure faith which Mary showed when on earth, and which she will share with you as time goes on. Poor little slave, let your sovereign Queen enjoy the clear sight of God, the raptures, delights, satisfactions and riches of heaven. Content yourself with a pure faith, which is accompanied by repugnance, distractions, weariness and dryness. Let your prayer be: "To whatever Mary my Queen does in heaven, I say Amen, so be it." We cannot do better than this for the time being.

52. Should you not savour immediately the sweet presence of the Blessed Virgin within you, take great care not to torment yourself. For this is a grace not given to everyone, and even when God in his great mercy favours a soul with this grace, it remains none the less very easy to lose it, except when the soul has become permanently aware of it through the habit of recollection. But should this misfortune happen to you, go back calmly to your sovereign Queen and make amends to her.
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Friday, May 19, 2006


"The secret of Mary" by St. Louis Marie de Montfort

2. The excellence of this practice of devotion [to Our Lady]

35. I would need much more enlightenment from heaven to describe adequately the surpassing merit of this devotional practice. I shall limit myself to these few remarks:

1. In giving ourselves to Jesus through Mary's hands, we imitate God the Father, who gave us his only Son through Mary, and who imparts his graces to us only through Mary. Likewise we imitate God the Son, who by giving us his example for us to follow, inspires us to go to him using the same means he used in coming to us, that is, through Mary. Again, we imitate the Holy Spirit, who bestows his graces and gifts upon us through Mary. "Is it not fitting," remarks St Bernard, "that grace should return to its author by the same channel that conveyed it to us?"

36. 2. In going to Jesus through Mary, we are really paying honour to our Lord, for we are showing that, because of our sins, we are unworthy to approach his infinite holiness directly on our own. We are showing that we need Mary, his holy Mother, to be our advocate and mediatrix with him who is our Mediator. We are going to Jesus as Mediator and Brother, and at the same time humbling ourselves before him who is our God and our Judge. In short, we are practising humility, something which always gladdens the heart of God.

37. 3. Consecrating ourselves in this way to Jesus through Mary implies placing our good deeds in Mary's hands. Now, although these deeds may appear good to us, they are often defective, and not worthy to be considered and accepted by God, before whom even the stars lack brightness.

Let us pray, then, to our dear Mother and Queen that having accepted our poor present, she may purify it, sanctify it, beautify it, and so make it worthy of God. Any good our soul could produce is of less value to God our Father, in winning his friendship and favour, than a worm-eaten apple would be in the sight of a king, when presented by a poor peasant to his royal master as payment for the rent of his farm. But what would the peasant do if he were wise and if he enjoyed the esteem of the queen? Would he not present his apple first to her, and would she not, out of kindness to the poor man and out of respect for the king, remove from the apple all that was maggoty and spoilt, place it on a golden dish, and surround it with flowers? Could the king then refuse the apple? Would he not accept it most willingly from the hands of his queen who showed such loving concern for that poor man? "If you wish to present something to God, no matter how small it may be," says St Bernard, "place it in the hands of Mary to ensure its certain acceptance."

38. Dear God, how everything we do comes to so very little! But let us adopt this devotion and place everything in Mary's hands. When we have given her all we possibly can, emptying ourselves completely to do her honour, she far surpasses our generosity and gives us very much for very little. She enriches us with her own merits and virtues. She places our gift on the golden dish of her charity and clothes us, as Rebecca clothed Jacob, in the beautiful garments of her first- born and only Son, Jesus Christ, which are his merits, and which are at her disposal. Thus, as her servants and slaves, stripping ourselves of everything to do her honour, we are clad by her in double garments - namely, the garments, adornments, perfumes, merits and virtues of Jesus and Mary. These are imparted to the soul of the slave who has emptied himself and is resolved to remain in that state.

39. 4. Giving ourselves in this way to our Lady is a practice of charity towards our neighbour of the highest possible degree, because in making ourselves over to Mary, we give her all that we hold most dear and we let her dispose of it as she wishes in favour of the living and the dead.

40. 5. In adopting this devotion, we put our graces, merits and virtues into safe keeping by making Mary the depositary of them. It is as if we said to her,"See, my dear Mother, here is the good that I have done through the grace of your dear Son. I am not capable of keeping it, because of my weakness and inconstancy, and also because so many wicked enemies are assailing me day and night. Alas, every day we see cedars of Lebanon fall into the mire, and eagles which had soared towards the sun become birds of darkness, a thousand of the just falling to the left and ten thousand to the right. But, most powerful Queen, hold me fast lest I fall. Keep a guard on all my possessions lest I be robbed of them. I entrust all I have to you, for I know well who you are, and that is why I confide myself entirely to you. You are faithful to God and man, and you will not suffer anything I entrust to you to perish. You are powerful, and nothing can harm you or rob you of anything you hold."

"When you follow Mary you will not go astray; when you pray to her, you will not despair; when your mind is on her, you will not wander; when she holds you up, you will not fall; when she protects you, you will have no fear; when she guides you, you will feel no fatigue; when she is on your side, you will arrive safely home" (Saint Bernard). And again, "She keeps her Son from striking us; she prevents the devil from harming us; she preserves virtue in us; she prevents our merits from being lost and our graces from receding." These words of St Bernard explain in substance all that I have said. Had I but this one motive to impel me to choose this devotion, namely, that of keeping me in the grace of God and increasing that grace in me, my heart would burn with longing for it.

41. This devotion makes the soul truly free by imbuing it with the liberty of the children of God. Since we lower ourselves willingly to a state of slavery out of love for Mary, our dear Mother, she out of gratitude opens wide our hearts enabling us to walk with giant strides in the way of God's commandments. She delivers our souls from weariness, sadness and scruples. It was this devotion that our Lord taught to Mother Agnes de Langeac, a religious who died in the odour of sanctity, as a sure way of being freed from the severe suffering and confusion of mind which afflicted her. "Make yourself," she said, "my Mother's slave and wear her little chain." She did so, and from that time onwards her troubles ceased.

42. To prove that this devotion is authoritatively sanctioned, we need only recall the bulls of the popes and the pastoral letters of bishops recommending it, as well as the indulgences accorded to it, the confraternities founded to promote it, and the examples of many saints and illustrious people who have practised it. But I do not see any necessity to record them here. Read whole post......