Sunday, April 30, 2017

What does God want?

Such is the will of God
that we should have everything
through Mary.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

The Robber Who Stole Heaven

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. His occupation being what it was, he would only increase his property by decreasing that of his victims.
One day, he was admonished by a local religious to change his course of life and thereby insure his eternal salvation. The only answer the robber gave was that for him there was no remedy.
"Do not say so," said the religious, "do what I tell you. Fast on each Saturday in honor of the Virgin Mary, and on that day of the week do no harm to anyone. She will obtain for you the grace of not dying in God’s displeasure.”
The robber thought to himself, “This is a small price to pay to insure my salvation; I will do as this holy man has prescribed.” He then obediently followed the religious’ advice, and made a vow to continue to do so. That he might not break it, from that time on he traveled unarmed on Saturdays.
Many years later, our robber was apprehended on a given Saturday by the officers of justice, and that he might not break his oath, he allowed himself to be taken without resistance. The judge, seeing that he was now a gray-haired old man, wished to pardon him.
Then the truly miraculous occurred. Rather than jump for joy thanking the judge for his leniency, the old robber, said that he wished to die in punishment of his sins. He then made a public confession of all the sins of his life in that same judgment hall, weeping so bitterly that all present wept with him.
He was beheaded, a death reserved for the nobility, rather than hanged. Then his body was buried with little ceremony, in a grave dug nearby.
Very soon afterwards, the mother of God came down from Heaven with four holy virgins by her side. They took the robber’s dead body from that place, wrapped it in a rich cloth embroidered with gold, and bore it themselves to the gate of the city.
There the Blessed Virgin said to the guards: "Tell the bishop from me, to give an honorable burial, in such a church to this dead person, for he was my faithful servant." And thus it was done.
All the people in the village thronged to the spot where they found the corpse with the rich pall, and the bier on which it was placed. And from that moment on, says Caesarius of Heisterbach, all persons in that region began to fast on Saturdays in honor of she who was so kind to even a notorious robber.
From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

Pope St. Pius V

Antonio Ghislieri was born in 1504 in Bosco, in the Tortona diocese. He received the Dominican habit at age fourteen, and after his ordination in Genoa, taught theology and philosophy for some years. He was Prior and Novice Master of several priories during a time of great moral laxity.

In 1556, he was consecrated Bishop of Nepi and Sutri and, the following year, was made Inquisitor General and raised to the rank of Cardinal.

Pope Pius IV transferred him to the bishopric of Mondovi in Piedmont, a diocese that had suffered much from the ravages of war. Under the care and guidance of the new bishop, the region was soon restored to peace and prosperity.

Recalled to Rome at the death of Pius IV, he was chosen as his successor, due in great part to the efforts of St. Charles Borromeo who saw in him the reformer the Church needed.

Taking the name of his predecessor, Pius V immediately introduced a new austerity and sobriety in the Papal States, re-directing sums customarily used for celebrations and festivities to aiding hospitals, poor convents and the truly indigent. He also initiated the tradition of the pope wearing white, as he continued to wear his white Dominican habit after being raised to the papal throne.

With zeal and apostolic energy, he launched numerous reforms, from ridding the Papal States of brigands to passing legislation against prostitution. In countering the widespread practice of granting favors and nominations to family members, or nepotism, he kept relatives at a distance.

Pope Pius V also had the best edition of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica published and, in 1567, he declared him Doctor of the Church. He promulgated the Catechism of the Council of Trent and had it translated into foreign languages. He also imposed on all parish priests the duty of using the Catechism to instruct the young in the tenets of the Faith.

Politically, materially and prayerfully, he supported Don Juan of Austria and Marc Antonio Colonna in the war against the Turkish fleet at Lepanto, the maritime battle that broke the Ottoman power in the Mediterranean. From the very onset of the conflict, the Pope had prayed almost continuously, often with arms raised like Moses on the mountain. At the decisive hour of victory, as a Rosary procession wound its way through Rome, the Pope interrupted his work, walked over to a window, and with radiant face, exclaimed, “The Christian fleet is victorious!”

To commemorate the great deliverance on October 7, 1571, he instituted the title of “Our Lady Help of Christians” and the feast of the Holy Rosary.

In the following year the pope was struck with a painful disorder from which he had long suffered, but which his austerities aggravated. He died on May 1, 1572, at the age of sixty-eight.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Origin of the Holy Rosary


Second Rose, from the Secret of the Rosary, by Saint Louis de Montfort

Rosary Guide Booklet Banner

Since the Holy Rosary is composed, principally and in substance, of the Prayer of Christ and the Angelic Salutation, that is, the Our Father and the Hail Mary, it was without doubt the first prayer and the first devotion of the faithful and has been in use all through the centuries from the time of the Apostles and disciples down to the present.
But it was only in the year 1214, however, that Holy Mother Church received the Rosary in its present form and according to the method we use today. It was given to the Church by Saint Dominic who had received it from the Blessed Virgin as a powerful means of converting the Albigensians and other sinners.
I will tell you the story of how he received it, which is found in the very well-known book "De Dignitate Psalterii" by Blessed Alan de la Roche.
Saint Dominic, seeing that the gravity of people's sins was hindering the conversion of the Albigensians, withdrew into a forest near Toulouse where he prayed unceasingly for three days and three nights. During this time he did nothing but weep and do harsh penances in order to appease the anger of Almighty God. He used his discipline so much that his body was lacerated, and finally he fell into a coma.
At this point Our Lady appeared to him, accompanied by three angels, and she said:
"Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?"
"Oh, my Lady," answered Saint Dominic, "you know far better than I do because next to your Son Jesus Christ you have always been the chief instrument of our salvation."
Then Our Lady replied:
"I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the battering ram has always been the Angelic Psalter which is the foundation stone of the New Testament. Therefore if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter."
So he arose, comforted, and burning with zeal, for the conversion of the people in that district he made straight for the Cathedral. At once unseen angels rang the bells to gather the people together and Saint Dominic began to preach.
At the very beginning of his sermon an appalling storm broke, out, the earth shook, the sun was darkened, and there was so much thunder and lightning that all were very much afraid. Even greater was their fear when looking at a picture of Our Lady exposed in a prominent place they saw her raise her arms to heaven three times to call down God's vengeance upon them if they failed to be converted, to amend their lives, and seek the protection of the Holy Mother of God.
God wished, by means of these supernatural phenomena, to spread the new devotion of the Holy Rosary and to make it more widely known.
At last, at the prayer of Saint Dominic, the storm came to an end, and he went on preaching. So fervently and compellingly did he explain the importance and value of the Holy Rosary that almost all the people of Toulouse embraced it and renounced their false beliefs. In a very short time a great improvement was seen in the town; people began leading Christian lives and gave up their former bad habits.

Of what should we be afraid?

And of what should we be afraid?
Our captain on this battlefield is Christ Jesus.
We have discovered what we have to do.
Christ has bound our enemies for us and weakened them that
they cannot overcome us
unless we so choose to let them.
So we must fight courageously and
mark ourselves with the sign of the most Holy Cross.

St Catherine of Siena

St. Catherine of Siena

Catherine Benincasa was born in Siena, Tuscany, in 1347. The twenty-third child of Giacomo, a well-to-do dyer, and his wife Lapa, the lively and happy girl grew up in the Benincasa’s spacious house. Their family home is preserved to this day.

At six years of age, Catherine saw Our Lord Jesus dressed as a Pontiff atop the Church of the Dominicans. This vision left such a deep impression upon her that she pledged herself to Christ.

Under family pressure, when she turned twelve, Catherine consented to pay more attention to her appearance and had her beautiful hair dressed to the fashion of the day. Repenting of this “great sin”, she cut it all off and declared she would never marry – a scandal to her family. She was set to menial labor, and harried and scolded continuously in an attempt to break her resolve. One day her father found her praying, a dove hovering over her. From that moment he ordered that she be left alone to a life of prayer.

Received into the Dominican Order as a tertiary in 1366, Catherine had a vision in which Jesus, accompanied by His Blessed Mother, officially betrothed her and placed a ring on her finger.

After this mystical betrothal, she was told that her seclusion was over and she must mingle with her fellow human beings seeking their salvation. Gradually, there gathered around her a group of followers whom she guided in the spiritual life. As her renown for holiness grew and the fame of her miracles spread, former suspicion turned to veneration.

Catherine became the arbiter of a serious feud between Florence and Perugia and the Holy See then at Avignon, France. She visited Pope Gregory XI and convinced him to return to Rome. Finally, through her mediation the cities were reconciled to the Holy See.

Around this time she produced the great work – later entitled “Dialogue of Saint Catherine of Siena” – which she dictated under the inspiration of God the Father.

With the death of Pope Gregory XI in 1378, and the election of Urban VI, the cardinals in Avignon disputed the choice and elected a rival pope giving rise to the great schism. Catherine spared no effort in establishing recognition of Urban. Far from resenting her help, he called the holy mystic to Rome to profit from her advice.

But early in 1380, thirty-three year old Catherine suffered a strange seizure after she offered herself as a victim for the healing of the Church. On April 29, after much suffering, Catherine gave up her ardent soul to her Divine Spouse.

She was canonized in 1461 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The goodness of correction

He that loveth correction, loveth knowledge:
but he that hateth reproof is foolish.
He that is good, shall draw grace from the Lord:
but he that trusteth in his own devices doth wickedly.

Book of Proverbs, (12:1-3)