Saturday, March 28, 2020

The unlimited power of prayer

Prayer is powerful beyond limits when we turn to the Immaculata
who is queen
even of God's heart. 

St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Tutilo

Tutilo was an Irish man who, while visiting the renowned Benedictine Abbey of St. Gall in present-day Switzerland, delayed his departure – and stayed his whole life.

Said to have been a large, powerful, handsome and quick-witted Irishman, Tutilo was also genial in that he was a teacher, an orator, a poet, an architect, a painter, a sculptor, an accomplished illuminator, a musician, even a mathematician and astronomer. His numerous talents and gifts led to his being much in demand and, by permission of his abbot, he fulfilled many artistic commissions outside the monastery. One of these was his sculpture of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Cathedral at Metz, considered to be a masterpiece.

He was a member of the abbey at the zenith of its influence throughout all of Europe. Many of the Gregorian chant manuscripts that survive to this day, and some of the most authentic, are undoubtedly Tutilo’s own work.

Of all his many talents, the one Tutilo loved the most was music. According to tradition, he could play and teach all of the instruments in the monastery and had a fine musical voice.

King Charles had a great admiration for the gifted monk and remarked that it was a great pity for so much talent to be hidden away in a monastery. But the saint himself shrank from publicity and when obliged to go to the great cities he strove to avoid notice and compliments. All he wanted was to use his gifts for the service of God. Though Tutilo was the epitome of today's "Renaissance man", sanctity was his real crown.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Courage

Courage, my soul,
through prayer we can do all that is asked of us.
The Heart of Jesus is there:
let us knock.

St. Bernadette Soubirous

St. John of Egypt

John of Egypt was born in present-day area of Asyut and was trained as a carpenter. At the age twenty-five he submitted himself to the direction of a hermit who spent several years training him in the virtues of obedience and self-denial.

John came to love obedience and obeyed unquestioningly no matter how unreasonable the task thrust upon him. At the command of his spiritual director, he once spent an entire year watering a dry stick, thrust into the mud, as if it were a flowering plant.

As a reward for his humility and prompt obedience the Lord granted John extraordinary gifts such as the gift of prophecy, the power of reading thoughts, and miracles.

After spending four or five years visiting various monasteries, John retired to the top of a steep hill in which he opened three small cells: one for a bedroom, one for a workroom and living room, and another for an oratory. He then walled himself in leaving a small window through which he received necessaries and spoke to visitors.

During five days of the week he conversed with God, but on Saturdays and Sundays he received visitors, men only – no women – who wished to consult him on spiritual and temporal matters. He predicted future military victories to Emperor Theodosius the Great.

Though he founded no religious community he is considered as a father of ascetics.

Shortly before his death he was visited by Palladius to whom he prophesied that he would become a bishop. Palladius left an interesting account of their meeting.

The holy recluse died at the age of ninety. Three days before his death he shut the small window to his cell, and demanded to be left alone. He was found dead in a position of prayer.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Keep it simple

There is no danger
if our prayer is without words or reflection
because the good success of prayer depends neither on words nor on study.
It depends upon the simple raising of our minds to God,
and the more simple and stripped of feeling it is,
the surer it is.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal

St. Braulio of Zaragoza

Braulio was a brilliant scholar and a pupil of St. Isidore, who founded a university in Seville, Spain. He eventually became a mentor to his mentor, and went on to advise not only ecclesiasts but kings.

At the death of his brother, Bishop John of Zaragoza, Braulio was nominated as his successor, a dignity he accepted. As bishop, he labored with zeal for his people, and also to extirpate the last vestiges of Arianism, still festering among them despite the conversion of King Recaredo.

He took part in the Council of Toledo, and was charged by the same council to write a response to Pope Honorius I who had accused the Spanish bishops of pastoral negligence. His defense was both dignified and convincing.

The good bishop spent many a night in prayer in the Church of Our Lady of the Pilar, which houses a miraculous statue delivered to St. James, the first apostle of Spain, by Our Lady herself.

He abhorred luxuries of all kinds, wore a hair shirt beneath the vestments of his office, and led a simple, austere life. An ardent preacher and a keen apologist, Braulio's deep sincerity was as convincing as his clear arguments. His generosity to the poor was only matched by the care he took of his flock.

Towards the end of his life he was afflicted by the loss of his sight, a heavy cross for anyone but especially burdensome to a scholar. As death approached, he gave up his spirit to his Lord while reciting the Psalms.

How to make an Act of Perfect Contrition


How to Make an Act of Perfect Contrition

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Saint Maximilian Kolbe wrote a letter to his followers.
The purpose of this letter was to exhort his disciples to prepare themselves for the approaching feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8.
But it also showed them how to receive forgiveness for sin in the coming war, where priests were scarce and it was hard to receive sacramental confession.

He wrote:
"Whoever can, should receive the Sacrament of Penance.  Whoever cannot, because of prohibiting circumstances, should cleanse his soul by acts of perfect contrition: i.e., the sorrow of a loving child who does not consider so much the pain or reward as he does the pardon from his father and mother to whom he has brought displeasure."

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This is a magnificent formula and lesson on how to make an act of perfect contrition.
As most people know, there are two types of contrition:
- perfect: out of love of God;
- imperfect: out of fear of Hell.
Catholic teaching distinguishes a twofold hatred of sin; one, perfect contrition, rises from the love of God Who has been grievously offended; the other, imperfect contrition, arises principally from some other motives, such as loss of heaven, fear of hell, the heinousness of sin, etc. (Council of Trent, Sess. XIV, ch. iv de Contritione). (The Catholic Encyclopedia, "Contrition")
When we go to confession, imperfect contrition is sufficient to receive the pardon of our sins.
However, in extraordinary circumstances where [when] we cannot get to confession, we can make an act of perfect contrition, which is sufficient to have our sins forgiven.

Important: The act of perfect contrition includes the desire for the sacrament of Penance (or Reconciliation) and the intention to receive sacramental confession at the very first opportunity.

NOTE: One who is conscious of mortal sin may not receive the Holy Eucharist without prior sacramental confession.
The fact that we can always make an act of perfect contrition, in any circumstance, and at any time, is very consoling and very important to remember.
Especially when we think of our troops who are in harm's way.  They may not have a chaplain in their battalion before entering battle.  In that case, they should always say an act of perfect contrition.
Actually, not only in extraordinary circumstances should we make acts of perfect contrition. At any time, if we have the misfortune of committing a mortal sin, we should seek to reconcile ourselves with God as soon as possible by an act of perfect contrition, before going to confession.
Furthermore, even not being guilty of serious sin, we should make frequent acts of perfect contrition to ask forgiveness for the serious sins of the past, and for the venial sins of the present.
In doing so, we show our love for God. And we prove our aversion to sin, which offends Him. In doing so, we surely receive more abundant graces to sin no more. A highly recommended practice is to include an act of contrition in our "before bed" prayers.

Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
Amen. 



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