Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Stories of Mary 5: Mary Assists Her Servants In Purgatory


Too happy are the servants of this most kind mother, since not only
in this world they are aided by her, but also in purgatory
they are assisted and consoled by her protection.
Mary Assists her Servants in Purgatory
Too happy are the servants of this most kind mother, since not only in this world they are aided by her, but also in purgatory they are assisted and consoled by her protection.
For succor being there more needed, because they are in torment and cannot help themselves, so much the more does this mother of mercy strive to help them.
EXAMPLE:
Father Eusebius Nierembergh relates that there lived in the city of Aragona a girl, named Alexandra who, being noble and very beautiful, was greatly loved by two young men.
Through jealousy, they one day fought and killed each other. Their enraged relatives, in return, killed the poor young girl, as the cause of so much trouble, cut off her head, and threw her into a well.
A few days after, St. Dominic was passing through that place, and, inspired by the Lord, approached the well, and said: “Alexandra, come forth,” and immediately the head of the deceased came forth, placed itself on the edge of the well, and prayed St. Dominic to hear its confession. The saint heard its confession, and also gave it communion, in presence of a great concourse of persons who had assembled to witness the miracle.
Then, St. Dominic ordered her to speak and tell why she had received that grace.
Alexandra answered, that when she was beheaded, she was in a state of mortal sin, but that the most holy Mary, on account of the rosary, which she was in the habit of reciting, had preserved her in life. Two days the head retained its life upon the edge of the well, in the presence of all, and then the soul went to purgatory.
But fifteen days after, the soul of Alexandra appeared to St. Dominic, beautiful and radiant as a star, and told him, that one of the principal sources of relief to the souls in purgatory is the rosary which is recited for them; and that, as soon as they arrive in paradise, they pray for those who apply to them these powerful prayers.
Having said this, St. Dominic saw that happy soul ascending in triumph to the kingdom of the blessed.
PRAYER:
Oh Queen of heaven and of earth, oh mother of the Lord of the world, oh Mary, creature most great, most exalted, most amiable, it is true that many on the earth do not love thee and do not know thee; but there are innumerable angels and
saints in heaven who love and praise thee continually. On this earth, too, how many souls burn with love of thee, and live enamored of thy goodness.
Ah, if I, too, might love thee, my most lovely Lady! Oh, that I might always be engaged in serving thee, in praising thee, in honoring thee, and in striving to awaken love of thee in others.
A God hath been enamored of thee, who, by thy beauty, if I may so speak, hast drawn him from the bosom of the eternal Father, to come upon the earth and become man and thy Son; and I, a miserable worm, shall I not be enamored of thee?
Yes, my most sweet mother, I also will love thee, love thee much, and do all in my power to make thee loved by others.
Accept, then, oh Mary, the desire I have to love thee, and help me to fulfill it: I know that thy lovers are regarded with much favor by thy God. Next to his own glory, he desires nothing more than thy glory, in seeing thee honored and loved by all.
From thee, oh Lady, I await all my blessings. Thou must obtain the pardon of all my sins, thou must obtain for me perseverance, succor in death, deliverance from purgatory, in a word, thou must conduct me to paradise.
All this thy lovers hope from thee, and they are not deceived. This I also hope, who love thee with all my heart, and above all things next to God.
DISCOURSE:
St. Bernardine of Sienna says, that in that prison of souls who are spouses of Jesus Christ, Mary has a certain dominion and plenitude of power to relieve them, as well as deliver them from their pains. And, in the first place, as to relieving them, the same saint, applying the words of Ecclesiasticus: I have walked in the waves of the sea: adds, visiting and relieving the necessities and sufferings of my servants, who are my children.
St. Bernardine says, that the pains of purgatory are called waves, because they are transitory, unlike the pains of hell, which never end: and they are called waves of the sea, because they are very bitter pains. The servants of Mary tormented by those pains are often visited and succored by her.
See, then, how important it is, says Novarino, to be a servant of this good Lady; for she never forgets such when they are suffering in those flames. And although Mary succors all the souls in purgatory, yet she always obtains more indulgences and alleviations for those who have been especially devoted to her.
This divine mother, in her revelations to St. Bridget, said: I am the mother of all the souls in purgatory; and all the sufferings which they merit for the sins committed in life are every hour, while they remain there, alleviated in some measure by my prayers.
This kind mother sometimes condescends even to enter into that holy prison, to visit and console these her afflicted children. I have penetrated into the bottom of the deep: as we read in Ecclesiasticus;* and St. Bonaventure, applying these words, adds: I have penetrated the depth of this abyss, that is, of purgatory, to relieve by my presence those holy souls.
Oh, how kind and beneficent is the holy Virgin to those who are suffering in purgatory! says St. Vincent Ferrer; through her they receive continual consolation and refreshment.
And what other consolation have they in their sufferings than Mary, and the help of this mother of mercy? St. Bridget one day heard Jesus saying to his mother: Thou art my mother, thou art the mother of mercy, thou art the consoler of those who are in purgatory.
And the blessed Virgin herself said to St. Bridget, that as a poor sick person, suffering and deserted on his bed, feels himself refreshed by some word of consolation, so those souls feel themselves consoled in hearing only her name.
The name alone of Mary, a name of hope and salvation, which these beloved children often invoke in that prison, is for them a great comfort.
But, then, says Novarino, the loving mother, on hearing herself invoked by them, adds her prayers to God, by which these souls receive comfort, and find their burning pains cooled as if by dew from heaven.
But not only does Mary console and succor her servants in purgatory; she also releases them from this prison, and delivers them by her intercession.
From the day of her glorious assumption, in which that prison is said to have been emptied, as Gerson writes; and Novarino confirms this by saying, that many weighty authors relate that Mary, when about to [be assumed] to paradise, asked this favor of her Son, that she might take with her all the souls that were then in purgatory; from that time, says Gerson, the blessed Virgin has possessed the privilege of freeing her servants from those pains.
And this also is positively asserted by St. Bernardine, who says that the blessed Virgin has the power of delivering souls from purgatory by her prayers and the application of her merits, especially if they have been devoted to her.
And Novarino says the same thing, believing that by the merits of Mary, not only the torments of these souls are assuaged, but also abridged, the time of their purgation being shortened by her intercession: and for this it is enough that she presents herself to pray for them.
St. Peter Damian relates, that a certain lady, named Marozia, after death, appeared to her god mother, and told her that on the day [feast day] of the Assumption of Mary she had been released by her from purgatory, with a multitude of souls exceeding in number the whole population of Rome.
St. Denis the Carthusian relates, that on the festivals of the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Mary descends into purgatory, accompanied by troops of angels, and releases many souls from their torments. And Novarino believes that the same thing happens on every solemn festival of the holy Virgin.
Every one has heard of the promise made by Mary to Pope John, to whom she appeared, and ordered him to make known to all those who should wear the sacred scapular of Carmel, that on the Saturday after their death they should be released from purgatory.
And this was proclaimed by the same pontiff, as Father Crasset relates, in a bull which he published. It was also confirmed by Alexander V., Clement VIL, Pius V., Gregory XIII. , and Paul V., who, in 1612, in a bull said: “That Christians may piously believe that the blessed Virgin will aid by her continual intercession, by her merits and special protection, after death, and principally on Saturday, which is a day consecrated by the Church to the blessed Virgin, the souls of the members of the confraternity of holy Mary of Mount Carmel, who shall have departed this life in the state of grace, worn the scapular, observing chastity according to their state of life, recited the office of the Virgin, and if they have not been able to recite it, shall have observed the fasts of the Church, abstaining from flesh meat on Wednesdays, except on Christmas-day.
And in the solemn office of the feast of holy Mary of Mount Carmel, we read that it is piously believed, that the holy Virgin, with a mother’s love, consoles the members of the confraternity of Mount Carmel in purgatory, and by her intercession conducts them to their heavenly country.”
Why should we not also hope for the same graces and favors, if we are devoted to this good mother? And if with more special love we serve her, why cannot we hope to obtain the grace of going immediately after death to paradise, without entering into purgatory? as we read that the holy Virgin said to the blessed Godfrey, through brother Abondo, in these words: “Go and tell brother Godfrey to advance in virtue, for thus he will be a child of my Son, and mine also; and when his soul quits the body, I will not permit it to go to purgatory, but I will take it and present it to my Son.”
And if we would assist the holy souls in purgatory, let us endeavor to remember them in all our prayers to the blessed Virgin, applying to them especially the holy rosary, which procures for them great relief.

“Stories of Mary” are taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888 by P.J. Kennedy

Most efficacious apostolate

Good example
is the most efficacious apostolate.
You must be as lighted lanterns and
shine like brilliant chandeliers among men.
By your good example
and your words,
animate others to know and love God.

St. Mary Joseph Rossello

St. Romanus of Condat

Romanus was just 35 years old when he dedicated his life to that of a hermit, living humbly in prayer in the Jura Mountains between Switzerland and France. At first, Romanus lived under the protection of a large tree, and survived on the seed he had brought with him. Before long, however, he was joined by his brother, sister and a number of other followers. The brothers’ built two monasteries and a nunnery for their sister and each sibling governed their respective establishments.

Romanus decided to visit the place of martyrdom of the Theban Legion, a band of 6600 Catholic soldiers who were killed in 286 A.D. when they refused to assist in the eradication of Christianity. As he traveled, the holy monk came upon two lepers, and miraculously cured them. News of this miracle spread, and Romanus became well-known as a man of God.

Romanus died around 460 and was buried in the church of the nunnery where his sister governed.
Photo by: Giogo

Monday, February 27, 2017

Stories of Mary 4: Hope For Worst Of Sinners

What, then, must a sinner do who finds himself so unhappy as to have become an enemy of God?
 

Mary is the Peace Maker between Sinners and God
What, then, must a sinner do who finds himself so unhappy as to have become an enemy of God? He must find a mediator who will obtain pardon for him and enable him to recover the lost friendship of God. 
But if ever, adds the saint [Saint Bernard], you fear to have recourse to Jesus Christ because his divine majesty alarms you, since when he became man he did not cease to be God, if you ever wish for another advocate with this mediator, invoke Mary, for she will intercede for you with the Son, who will surely graciously listen to her, and the Son will intercede with the Father, who can refuse nothing to this Son.
And so, concludes St. Bernard, this divine mother, oh my children, is the ladder of sinners, by which they ascend anew to the height of divine grace. This is my greatest confidence; this is the whole ground of my hope.
For this end, says St. John Chrysostom, the Virgin Mary was made mother of God, that those sinners who, by reason of their wicked life, could not be saved according to the divine justice, might obtain salvation through her sweet compassion and powerful intercession.*
St. Anselm confirms this when he says that Mary has been exalted to be mother of God for sinners rather than for the just, since Jesus Christ announced that he came not to call the just, but sinners.
And so the holy Church sings: Sinners thou dost not abhor, since but for them thou never wouldst have been worthy of such a Son; St. Bernard takes up the subject, and says: Give then thanks to him who has provided thee with such a mediatrix.*
Whoever thou art, oh sinner, plunged in the mire of guilt, hoary in sin, do not despair; thank thy Lord, who in order to show mercy to thee, has not only given thee his Son for an advocate, but, to increase thy confidence and courage, has provided thee with such a mediatrix, who, by her prayers, obtains whatever she wishes. Have recourse to Mary, and thou wilt be saved.
EXAMPLE:
It is related by Rupensis (Ros. Sacr. p. 5, c. 60.), and by Boniface (Stor. Virg. 1. 1, c. 11.), that in Florence there lived a young girl, named Benedetta (the blessed), although she might better have been called Maladetta (the cursed), from the scandalous and wicked life she led.
Happily for her, St. Dominic happened to preach in that city, and she, from mere curiosity, went one day to hear him. But the Lord touched her heart during the sermon, so that, weeping bitterly, she went to make her confession to the saint.
St. Dominic heard her confession, gave her absolution, and directed her to say the rosary. But the unhappy girl, by the force of her evil habits, returned to her wicked life. The saint heard of it, and going to her, induced her to confess once more.
God, in order to confirm her in her good life, one day showed hell to her, and some persons there who had been already condemned on her account.
Then opening a book, he made her read in it the frightful record of her sins. The penitent shuddered at the sight, and, full of confidence, had recourse to Mary, asked her help, and learned that this divine mother had already obtained from God for her time enough to mourn for her numerous sins.
The vision disappeared, and Benedetta devoted herself to a good life; but seeing always open before her eyes that dark catalogue, she one day prayed in these words to her consoler: “Oh mother, it is true that for my sins I should now be deep in hell; but since thou, by thy intercession, hast liberated me from it, by obtaining for me time for repentance, most merciful Lady, I ask of thee one other favor. I will never cease to weep for my sins; but do thou obtain for me that they may be cancelled from that book.”
After this prayer, Mary appeared to her, and told her that in order to obtain what she asked, she must preserve an eternal remembrance of her sins, and of the mercy of God towards her; and still more, that she must meditate on the passion of her Son, which he suffered for love of her; and also that she must bear in mind that many had been damned who had committed fewer sins than she had done.
She also revealed to her that a child of only eight years of age, one mortal sin only, had been that day condemned to hell.
Benedetta, having faithfully obeyed the most holy Virgin, one day beheld Jesus Christ, who showed her that book, and said to her: Be hold, thy sins are cancelled; the book is white, inscribe on it now acts of love and of virtue. Benedetta did this, led a holy life, and died a holy death.
PRAYER:
Then, oh my most sweet Lady, if thy office is, as William of Paris says, to interpose as a mediatrix between the sinner and God, I will say to thee with St. Thomas of Villanova: Ah, then, oh our advocate, fulfill thy office.
Fulfill at once thy office also in my behalf. Do not tell me that my cause is too difficult to be gained; for I know, and all tell me, that no cause, how ever desperate, if defended by thee, was ever lost; and will mine be lost? No, I fear not this. I have only to fear, when I behold the multitude of my sins, that thou wilt not undertake my defense; but considering thy vast compassion and the great desire that fills thy most loving heart to help the vilest sinners, I no longer fear even this.
And who was ever lost that had recourse to thee? I invoke, then, thy aid, oh my great advocate, my refuge, my hope, and my mother Mary. To thy hands I commit the cause of my eternal salvation. To thee I consign my soul; it was lost, but thou must save it.
I always thank the Lord that he gives me this great confidence in thee, which, notwithstanding my unworthiness, I believe will secure my salvation. One fear alone remains to afflict me, my beloved queen: it is, that I may one day lose, through my neglect, this confidence in thee.
Therefore I pray thee, oh Mary, by all thy love for thy Jesus, to preserve and increase more and more in me this most sweet confidence in thy intercession, by which I certainly hope to recover the divine friendship, which I have hitherto so foolishly despised and lost; and once having recovered it, I hope by thy means to preserve it and preserving it, I hope finally, through thee, to go one day and thank thee for it in paradise, and there to sing the mercies of God and thine through all eternity. Amen.
Thus I hope, so may it be, and so it shall be.


“Stories of Mary” are taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888 by P.J. Kennedy

We must be pure

We must be pure.
I do not speak merely of the purity of the senses.
We must observe great purity
in our will, in our intentions, in all our actions.

St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Anne Line

Anne was the daughter of William Heigham of Dunmow, Essex, a gentleman of means and an ardent Calvinist. When Anne and her brother converted to Catholicism, they were disowned and disinherited by their family. In 1583, Anne married Roger Line, a convert like herself. But shortly after their marriage Roger was arrested for attending Mass and exiled to Flanders in Belgium, where he died in 1594.

Anne remained in London, where, despite her poor health, she was put in charge of two houses of refuge for priests in the city. But soon, the English authorities began to suspect the widow's activities and she removed herself to another location. Then, on Candlemas Day in 1601, just as a Jesuit priest was about to celebrate Mass in Anne’s apartments, priest-catchers, men paid handsomely to root out Catholic clergy forced to celebrate Mass in secret, broke into the rooms. On this day, February 2, a blessing of candles traditionally takes place before Mass and a large number of people had gathered for the feast day. Quickly unvesting, Father Francis Page mingled with those in attendance as a form of concealment, but the altar prepared for the ceremony was all the evidence needed for Anne’s arrest. She was imprisoned in Newgate Prison and later brought to trial at Sessions House. Anne was so weak from fever that she had to be carried in a chair to her trial on February 26. She was indicted under Elizabeth I's 1585 Act Against Jesuits and Seminarists (Elizabeth 27, Cap. 2) for providing haven to a Catholic Jesuit priest, and sentenced to be hanged at Tyburn. The next day she was led to the gallows, bravely proclaiming her faith to the crowd before her sentence was carried out. Anne had finally achieved the martyrdom for which she had prayed and is known as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why Ash Wednesday? Why Ashes?

Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of Lent symbolic of the forty days Our Lord fasted in the desert. Occurring forty six days before Easter, it is consequently moveable-as early as February 4 and as late as March 10.
The ashes applied to the forehead, made from the palms of the previous year’s Palm Sunday, are blessed, perfumed with incense, and hydrated with a little holy water or oil as a binding agent. Thus treated, the ashes are considered a Sacramental.
The Catholic Church is replete with sacramentals, holy objects, words and rituals that we can see, touch and hear to help convey to our spirit an attitude of openess to Grace.
The ash used on Ash Wednesday, accompanied by the words "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return," or, "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel" places us in a disposition of penance and humility, which is the attitude needed for a fruitful, Grace-filled Lent.
Sacramentals are specially potent when well explained to children who are so visual and touch oriented. They are a powerful means to convey the unseen mysteries of our Faith to their young minds.

WOC Devotional Set Flag

If Mary is Mother, who is father?

All true children of God
have God for their father
and Mary for their mother.
Anyone who does not have Mary for their mother
does not have God for his father.

St. Louis de Montfort

St. Alexander of Alexandria

Alexander was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and in 313, the gentle mannered man was made Patriarch of Alexandria because of his kindness, fervent religiousness and great love of God.

When heresy arose in the form of Arius, a wicked priest who was jealous of Alexander’s selfless and charitable ways as well as his title, Alexander became known for his zealous defense of the Catholic faith. Arius started a heretical faith called Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ. At first, Alexander was kind to Arius, and tried to convince him to return to the church. But when the heretic refused, and instead began to gather a larger following, Alexander began to take steps to have him excommunicated.

Then, in 325, Alexander was part of an assembly of the ecumenical council, which was held in Nicaea. The council officially excommunicated Arius, condemned his heresy, and sent him and a few of his followers into exile. Victorious in his battle for the faith, Alexander returned home to Alexandria, where he died in 328 after naming St. Athanasius his successor.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

If you believe what you like

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and
reject what you don't like,
it is not the gospels that you believe,
but in yourself.

Saint Augustine of Hippo

St. Tarasius of Constantinople

Tarasius was born around the middle of the eighth century. Raised in a patrician family, Tarasius was surrounded by earthly wealth and possessions, but lived a most austere and holy life. His virtue gained the esteem of the empire, and Tarasius was made Patriarch of Constantinople.

The emperor of the time, Constantine VI, became enamored of Theodotah, a maid of his wife, and sought to divorce his wife and marry her maid. As he strove to convince Tarasius to marry him to Theodota, the emperor sent a message to the holy man. Tarasius adamantly refused, replying to the emperor's ambassador, “I would rather suffer death and all manner of torments than consent to his design." He continued to reject the emperor’s requests, and the ceremony was performed by another.

Just before his death, Tarasius fell into a trance. As his biographer, who was an eyewitness, relates, he was heard arguing with a number of unseen accusers. Tarasius defended himself against the accusers, and answered everything laid to his charge. Later, a great peacefulness came over him, and Tarasius gave up his soul to God in 806.

Stories of Mary 3: Mary Sings

Daily, daily sing to Mary,
Sing, my soul, her praises due:
All her feasts, her actions honor
With the heart's devotion true.

Oesarius relates that a certain Cistercian monk, who was a devoted servant of our blessed Lady, desired very earnestly a visit from his dear Lady, and was praying [to] her continually to grant him this favor.
He went one night into the garden, and while he stood there looking up to heaven, breathing forth to his queen in ardent sighs his desire to see her, a beautiful and radiant virgin descended, and said to him: “Thomas, wouldst thou like to hear me sing?”
“Certainly,” he answered, and then she sang so sweetly that it seemed to the devout religious that he was in paradise. Having finished her song, she disappeared, leaving him absorbed with an ardent desire to know who it could have been; and, soon after, another extremely beautiful virgin appeared to him, who, like the other, allowed him the pleasure of hearing her sing.
He could not refrain from asking this one who she was, and the virgin answered: “She whom you saw a little while ago was Catherine, and I am Agnes, both martyrs for Jesus Christ, sent by our Lady to console you. Give thanks to Mary, and prepare for a greater favor.”
Having said this she disappeared, but left the religious with a greater hope of finally seeing his queen. Nor was he deceived, for shortly afterwards he saw a great light and felt a new joy flowing into his heart, for in the midst of that light the Mother of God appeared to him surrounded by angels, and of a beauty far surpassing that of the other two saints who had appeared to him.
She said to him, “My dear servant and son, I have been pleased with the devotion which you have offered me, and have graciously heard your prayers: you have desired to see me; look on me, and I too will sing to you.”
Then the most holy Virgin began to sing with so great sweetness, that the devout religious lost his senses, and fell with his face upon the ground.
The matin-bell sounded, the monks assembled, and, not seeing Thomas, searched for him in his cell and other parts of the convent, and at last, going into the garden, found him apparently lifeless. The superior commanded him to tell what had befallen him. And coming to himself, by the power of obedience, he related all the favors which the Mother of God had bestowed upon him.

Commentary: It seems evident from this story that Our Lady’s voice is so sweet that even those holy souls privileged to hear it must first have their senses prepared for the “shock” by first hearing less holy heavenly voices. - - - And even then, the sweet impact of Our Lady’s voice can leave us senseless…just one more reason to fight for Our Lady’s cause so we can listen to her sing God’s praises forever.


“Stories of Mary” are taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888 by P.J. Kennedy

Friday, February 24, 2017

How do we measure our love of God?

God wishes to be served
to the last breath, to the exhaustion of the last drop of strength,
and He multiplies our capacities for suffering and doing
so that our dedication may reach the extreme limit
of the unforeseeable, the improbable, the miraculous.
The measure of the love of God is
to love Him without measure, said Saint Francis de Sales.
The measure of fighting for God consists
in fighting without measure, it may be said.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

February 24 – First Christian King Among the English

St. Ethelbert, King of Kent Born, 552; died, 24 February, 616; son of Eormenric, through whom he was descended from Hengest.

King St Ethelbert
He succeeded his father, in 560, as King of Kent and made an unsuccessful attempt to win from Ceawlin of Wessex the overlordship of Britain. His political importance was doubtless advanced by his marriage with Bertha, daughter of Charibert, King of the Franks. A noble disposition to fair dealing is argued by his giving her the old Roman church of St. Martin in his capital of Cantwaraburh (Canterbury) and affording her every opportunity for the exercise of her religion, although he himself had been reared, and remained, a worshiper of Odin. The same natural virtue, combined with a quaint spiritual caution and, on the other hand, a large instinct of hospitality, appears in his message to St. Augustine when, in 597, the Apostle of England landed on the Kentish coast.

In the interval between Ethelbert’s defeat by Ceawlin and the arrival of the Roman missionaries, the death of the Wessex king had left Ethelbert, at least virtually, supreme in southern Britain, and his baptism, which took place on Whitsunday next following the landing of Augustine (2 June, 597) had such an effect in deciding the minds of his wavering countrymen that as many as 10,000 are said to have followed his example within a few months.
The Conversion of St Ethelbert by St. Augustine. Detail of a mosaic by Clayton & Bell in the chapel of St Gregory and St Augustine in Westminster Cathedral.
The Conversion of St Ethelbert by St. Augustine. Detail of a mosaic by Clayton & Bell in the chapel of St Gregory and St Augustine in Westminster Cathedral.
Thenceforward Ethelbert became the watchful father of the infant Anglo-Saxon Church. He founded the church which in after-ages was to be the primatial cathedral of all England, besides other churches at Rochester and Canterbury. But, although he permitted, and even helped, Augustine to convert a heathen temple into the church of St. Pancras (Canterbury), he never compelled his heathen subjects to accept baptism. Moreover, as the lawgiver who issued their first written laws to the English people (the ninety “Dooms of Ethelbert”, A.D. 604) he holds in English history a place thoroughly consistent with his character as the temporal founder of that see which did more than any other for the upbuilding of free and orderly political institutions in Christendom.
  When St. Mellitus had converted Sæbert, King of the East Saxons, whose capital was London, and it was proposed to make that see the metropolitan, Ethelbert, supported by Augustine, successfully resisted the attempt, and thus fixed for more than nine centuries the individual character of the English church. He left three children, of whom the only son, Eadbald, lived and died a pagan.
STUBBS in Dict. Christ. Biogr., s.v.; HUNT in Dict. Nat. Biogr., s.v.; BEDE, Hist. Eccl., I, II; GREGORY OF TOURS, Historia Francorum, IV, IX; Acta SS.; BUTLER, Lives of the Saints, 24 Feb.
E. Macpherson (Catholic Encyclopedia)

St. Praetextatus

Praetextatus became the bishop of Rouen, France, in 549. The thirty-five years during which he occupied the position of bishop were riddled with troubles involving the Frankish monarchy, a result of which was a time of exile for the saint.
Among the players of this political drama was Fredegund, mistress of King Chilperic, a murderous woman responsible for several deaths in the royal family. Fredegund despised Praetextatus and opposed his return from exile, but a council in Rouen overruled her interference and reinstated the holy bishop to his see.

“The time is coming when you shall revisit the place of your exile.” She threatened the saint shortly before his death. “I was a bishop always, whether in exile or out of exile, and a bishop I shall remain; but as for you, you shall not always enjoy your crown.” He said, as he urged the queen to convert.

The wicked queen refused to reform her life, and in 586 as Praetextatus was offering Holy Mass, Fredegund had an assassin stab him under the arm. The mortally wounded bishop managed to drag himself to the altar and receive Holy Communion before he died.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Stories of Mary 2: When Jesus Turns Away From Us




Hail O sure Refuge of Sinners, 
whose mercy fails no one …

The blessed John Erolto, who, through humility, called himself The Disciple, relates that there was once a married man who lived in disgrace in the sight of God. 
His wife, a virtuous woman, not being able to induce him to abandon his vicious courses, entreated him that at least, while he was in so miserable a condition, he would offer this devotion to the mother of God, namely, to say a Hail Mary every time he passed before her altar. He accordingly began to practice this devotion. 
One night, when he was about to commit a sin, he saw a light, and, on closer observation, perceived that it was a lamp burning before a holy image of the blessed Virgin, who held the Infant Jesus in her arms. He said a Hail Mary, as usual but what did he see?
He saw the infant covered with wounds, and fresh blood flowing from them. Both terrified and moved in his feelings, he remembered that he himself too had wounded his Redeemer by his sins, and began to weep, but he observed that the Child turned away from him. 

In deep confusion, he had recourse to the most holy Virgin, saying:
“Mother of mercy, thy Son rejects me; I can find no advocate more kind and more powerful than thou, who art His mother; my queen, aid me, and pray to Him in my behalf.” 
The divine mother answered him from that image:
“You sinners call me mother of mercy, but yet you do not cease to make me the mother of misery, renewing the passion of my Son, and my sorrows.” 
But because Mary never sends away discontent those who cast themselves at her feet, she began to entreat her Son that He would pardon that miserable sinner. 
Jesus continued to show Himself unwilling to grant such a pardon, but the holy Virgin, placing the Infant in the niche, prostrated herself before Him, saying:
“My Son, I will not leave Thy feet until Thou hast pardoned this sinner. 
“My Mother,” answered Jesus, “I can deny thee nothing; dost thou wish for his pardon? For love of thee I will pardon him. Let him come and kiss My wounds.” 
The sinner approached, weeping bitterly, and as he kissed the wounds of the Infant, they were healed. Then Jesus embraced him as a sign of pardon. 
He [the sinner] changed his conduct, led a holy life, and was ever full of love to the Blessed Virgin, who had obtained for him so great a favor.


 “Stories of Mary” are taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888 by P.J. Kennedy

The easiest way to pray

Prayer is the conversation
of a child with its Father; of a subject with his King;
of a servant with his Lord; of a friend with the Friend
to whom he confides
all his troubles and difficulties.

St. John Vianney

St. Polycarp

Polycarp, a holy man and bishop of Smyrna, was part of the group of early bishops. When heresy arose in Asia, violence toward Catholics arose with it, and Polycarp was persuaded by his friends to go into hiding.

Eventually Polycarp was found and arrested. When his persecutors arrived at his hideout, he went to them and served them a meal, asking for a short time to pray before being taken away. Polycarp was sent to trial, where his captors tempted him with freedom and tried to convince him to denounced Our Lord. “Fourscore and six years I have served Him and He hath done me no wrong,” he said, “how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”

Soon after this, in the year 155, Polycarp was burnt at the stake – though there was no odor of burning flesh: instead a smell of incense was in the air. When the fire seemed to do him no harm, a spear was thrust into his side, killing him. A dove flew out of the wound, and Polycarp’s blood quenched the fire, causing part of his body to remain intact. However, his remains were later burned to ash because the heretics feared other Catholics would revere the body as a relic.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Holding Hands with The “Gate of Heaven”

Of all the invocations to our Lady, Gate of Heaven is one of the most beautiful. This title gained a new meaning for me when I arrived for a Fatima home visit at the house of Dominique McGuire and found her in tears. Her mother, Marie Jeannine Michel, a native from Haiti, had suffered a massive heart attack the day before and was now dying. I was more than happy to take the statue to visit her at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was painfully clear, when we arrived in the Intensive Care Unit, that this poor soul was reaching the end.
Over the next couple of hours we prayed numerous rosaries, litanies and the prayers for the dying by her bedside. We also struggled to provide the dying women with all the spiritual assistance we could.
As we prayed, the attending nurse, who happened to be Catholic, kept calling local Churches to find a priest who would administer last rites. Whenever she entered the room to care for Mrs. Michel she would join in the responses to the Hail Mary. Overwhelmed by the scene, she exclaimed, “I hope when I am dying someone will bring the statue to visit me and pray the rosary.”
Moments before the priest arrived, Dominique asked me if I had an extra scapular for her mother. I did not. As the priest administered the last rites I scurried from the room in search of this precious sacramental, only to find I was the only person wearing one. Mrs. Michel was in much more need of it than me, so with the help of a doctor we temporarily removed her oxygen mask and placed my scapular around the dying woman’s neck. Dominique then took her Miraculous Medal and pinned it on to the scapular.
The most moving part of this visit occurred when Mrs. Michel opened her eyes and showed signs she wanted to speak. When they removed the oxygen mask, Dominique told her mother, in their native tongue, that “Momma Mary” was in the room.
Since Mrs. Michel seemed to be already looking into eternity, with a type of “fog of death” in her gaze, I carried the statue over next to her bed. Surprisingly she reached up and took hold of our Lady’s hands and held on for some moments. The oxygen mask was then replaced as the nurse administered morphine to deaden the pain she was experiencing.
Mrs. Michel died at 6:00 AM the following morning with Dominique praying beside her bed.
While the America Needs Fatima home visitation program is a very rewarding apostolate, nothing on earth compares to the satisfaction of a visit like this. A person going through such a moving ordeal, however, could naturally ask, “Was there something more we could have done?”
In the case of Mrs. Michel, the answer is a resounding no. She received the last rites of Holy Mother Church, was clothed in the brown Scapular, and was almost continuously surrounded by the melodious sound of the Angelic Salutation.
Hours before she passed into eternity, Mrs. Michel also had the grace to hold hands with She who truly is the Gate of Heaven.
By: Norman Fulkerson

Stories of Mary 1: Abandoned…But Not By Mary

Mary, Queen of Mercy!

(3 minute read - Enjoy!)

Let us then always have recourse to this most sweet queen, if we would be sure of our salvation; and if the sight of our sins terrifies and disheartens us, first remember that Mary was made queen of mercy for this very end, that she might save by her protection the greatest and most abandoned sinners who have recourse to her.
They are to be her crown in heaven, as her divine spouse has said: Come from Libanus, my spouse, come from Libanus, come; thou shall be crowned from the dens of the lions, from the mountains of the leopards; And what are these dens of wild beasts and monsters, if not miserable sinners, whose souls become dens of sins, the most deformed monsters?
Now, by these same sinners, as Rupert, the abbot, remarks, who are saved by thy means, oh great Queen Mary, thou wilt be crowned in heaven; for their salvation will be thy crown, a crown indeed worthy and fit for a queen of mercy and let the following example illustrate this.

EXAMPLE:
We read in the life of Sister Catherine, an Augustinian nun, that in the place where that servant of God lived, there lived also a woman named Mary, who, in her youth, was a sinner, who obstinately persevered in her evil courses, even to extreme old age. For this she was banished by her fellow-citizens, forced to live in a cave beyond the limits of the place, and died in a state of loathsome corruption, abandoned by all, and without the sacraments; and on this account was buried in a field, like a beast.
Now Sister Catherine, who was accustomed to recommend very affectionately to God the souls of those who had departed this life, after learning the miserable death of this poor old woman, did not think of praying for her as she and everyone else believed her already among the damned.
Four years having past, a soul from purgatory one day appeared to her, and said, Sister Catherine, how unhappy is my fate! You commend to God the souls of all those who die, and for my soul alone you have had no pity.
"And who are you?" asked the servant of God.
She answered: "That poor Mary who died in the cave."
"How? Are you saved?!" exclaimed Sister Catherine.
“Yes, I am saved,” she said, “by the mercy of the Virgin Mary. And how?... when I saw death drawing near, finding myself laden with sins, and abandoned by all, I turned to the mother of God and said to her, ‘Lady, thou art the refuge of the abandoned, behold me at this hour deserted by all; thou art my only hope, thou alone canst help me; have pity on me.’”
“The Holy Virgin obtained for me the grace of making an act of contrition; I died and am saved, and my queen has also obtained for me the grace that my pains should be abridged, and that I should, by suffering intensely for a short time, pass through that purification which otherwise would have lasted many years. A few masses only are needed to obtain my release from purgatory. I pray thee cause them to be offered for me, and I promise to pray to God and Mary for thee.”
Sister Catherine immediately caused those masses to be said for her, and that soul, after a few days, appeared to her again, more brilliant than the sun, and said to her, "I thank thee, Sister Catherine. Behold, I am now going to Paradise to sing the mercy of God and pray for thee."


 "Stories of Mary” are taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888 by P.J. Kennedy

Why does God conceal Himself?

In times of desolation,
God conceals Himself from us
so that we can discover for ourselves
what we are without Him.

St. Margaret of Cortona

St. Margaret of Cortona

Margaret was born in Laviano, a little town in Tuscany, to a farmer and his wife. When she was only seven, her mother died and her father remarried a hard and difficult woman, who spared no great love for the free-spirited girl.

Margaret ran away with a rich young man. For nine years she lived in sin, and during that time bore him a son. Her immoral relationship caused great scandal, and Margaret strove to convince him of marriage, but to no avail. One day, the man took his dog and went riding. When he did not return, Margaret became anxious. After some time, his dog returned and led her to a forest. There Margaret found the broken body of her lover, dead for some days, and took it as a sign from God to amend her life.

Then Margaret traveled to Cortona where she lived a life of prayer and penance near the Franciscan Friars. She devoted herself to caring for the sick, living off of alms, eating and sleeping little, and eventually took the habit of the third order of St. Francis. She sent her son to school in Arezzo, where he later entered the Franciscan Order.

During the twenty-nine years she lived as a penitent, Margaret often spoke with God. A result of her dedication to the sick is the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy, which she founded. She died at age fifty, and was proclaimed a saint immediately. The people of Cortona built a church in her honor, where her remains are housed. She was officially canonized in 1728.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

To satisfy the heart

Who except God can give you peace?
Has the world ever been able
to satisfy the heart?

St. Gerard Majella

St. Peter Damian

Peter Damian was born in Ravenna, Italy. His parents died when he was still very young, and he was adopted by his older brother who sent him to school, where he excelled in his studies and eventually worked as a professor.

Fasting and prayer were the great hallmarks of his sanctity. He had a great love for those less fortunate than himself, and frequently dined with the poor at his table, serving them with his own hands.

Leaving all his earthly possessions, Peter became a hermit in the Order of St. Benedict. Though reluctant to do so, he later became abbot of the hermitage in 1043. He guided his holy brothers with great piety, and eventually founded five other hermitages.

Peter’s wisdom was valued greatly within the Church, and in time, he was asked to be Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia. He reluctantly accepted, but often asked to be reinstated as a simple monk. Eventually his wish was granted, and he returned to his simple life as a hermit, though he continued to assist the Church in matters of importance. He died at Faenza in 1072 of a severe fever.

The Hildebrandine reform in the Church – the stress for clerical celibacy and the fight against simony – is largely due to St. Peter Damian. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1828.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta Marto - February 20



Blesseds Francisco (1908-1919) and Jacinta Marto (1910-1920) - February 20

Francisco and Jacinta Marto, brother and sister, were born in the tiny town of Aljustrel, Portugal, two years apart in a family of ten siblings.
Francisco was a handsome boy with light hair and dark eyes and a retiring disposition. Jacinta was a beautiful girl, also light haired and dark eyed but of a spritely temperament. With their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, brother and sister pastured their families’ sheep.

In 1916 their calm, rural life was changed forever by the apparition of an angel in a field near Aljustrel. The angel, calling himself “The Angel of Portugal”, prepared them spiritually for a series of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On May 13, 1917 the Mother of God appeared to the three children atop of a holm oak near the village of Fatima. The Virgin asked the children to return another five times and promised to work a miracle at the last apparition so that all would believe, which she did by making the sun “dance” before 70,000 in October of 1917. At that time she also called herself, “Lady of the Rosary.”

Throughout the apparitions, the Mother of God made prophecies about the advent of Communism and its spread throughout the world, about the coming of World War II, spoke of the sinfulness of the humanity, and asked for prayer (specially the daily recitation of the Rosary), penance and conversion of life as a means of obtaining peace for the world.


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She also asked the children if they were willing to pray and sacrifice to help save the souls of poor sinners. She assured Francisco and Jacinta that she would take them soon to heaven but that Lucia would stay on earth longer.
Francisco and Jacinta convinced that they were not long for this world, and interiorly transformed by great mystical graces as well as a terrifying vision of hell, accepted a type of  “spiritual victimhood”  for the sake of offering reparation to God and saving the souls of sinners.
Francisco spent hours on end in prayer, and contemplation even giving up his games and play time. Jacinta embarked on a life of prayer and penance, offering many small sacrifices for the salvation of sinners.
In 1918 both fell victims to the influenza ripping through Portugal, gladly embracing their illness and all its suffering.
Francisco died with a smile on his face on April 3, 1919 at his home in Aljustrel. And Jacinta died in a hospital in Lisbon on February 20, 1920 which day she had predicted.

Brother and sister were beatified on May 13, 2000.

Jacinta's Transformation: Something Akin to the Secret of Mary

By Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira 

Considering Our Lady’s action upon the three Fatima children in a broader sense, the changes she brought about in them was something extraordinary — something far beyond their capacity. From this, we gather that Our Lady suddenly and suavely transformed them through her repeated apparitions.
Here we discover something akin to the “Secret of Mary,” of which Saint Louis de Montfort speaks. We see grace working profoundly in souls, and we see how it works silently, without the person perceiving it. As a result, the person feels truly free. More than ever, the person feels inspired to practice virtue and reject the evil chains of sin; consequently, their love of God blossoms.
Their desire to serve Him increases, and so does their hatred of sin. This marvelous transformation of soul occurs in such a way that the person does not experience the systematic uphill struggle of those who follow the classical system of the spiritual life to obtain virtue, sanctity, and Heaven. Much to the contrary, Our Lady changes them suddenly.
The changes in the two children Our Lady called to Heaven, Jacinta and Francisco, was particularly striking. What does this mean? Does this mean Our Lady will perform the same transformation upon us?
Is it a foretaste of how Our Lady intends to change Humanity when she fulfills her Fatima promises?
Can I say that the transformation in the souls of Jacinta and Francisco are the beginning of Our Lady’s reign? Is this not her triumph over the souls of Jacinta and Francisco, heralds of Our Lady’s message, who helped others accept the Fatima message through their prayers and sacrifices? And who still help us today through their prayers in Heaven?
If this is true, it is logical that Jacinta and Francisco be our intercessors before Our Lady and obtain the coming of her reign in our hearts. Is this not the mysterious transformation that we call the “Secret of Mary”?
I firmly believe that we must ask Jacinta and Francisco to transform us, to grant us the same gifts they received, and to guide us, whose mission it is to live and to preach the Fatima message.


Adapted from a lecture of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira on October 13, 1971.

He waits

He loves, He hopes, He waits.
If He came down on our altars on certain days only,
some sinner, on being moved to repentance, might have
to look for Him, and not finding Him, might have to wait.
Our Lord prefers to wait Himself for the sinner
for years
rather than keep him waiting one instant.

St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Wulfric of Haselbury

Wulfric was born south of Bristol in Compton Martin. Assigned to a parish in Deverill near Warminster after his priestly ordination, he avidly continued some of his more worldly pursuits. Hunting – with both hawks and hounds – had been a passion with him and he was loath to give either of them up until a chance conversation with a beggar. Converted to more godly pursuits by the words of the poor man, Wulfric moved back to his native village, now as its parish priest.

In 1125, desiring to live as an anchorite, Wulfric withdrew to a cell adjacent to the Church of St. Michael and All the Angels in Haselbury Plunett, Somerset. He had failed to obtain his bishop’s permission to do so, but was supported by the Cluniac monks at Montacute and others, who shared a great respect for his holiness.

His cell stood on the cold northern side of the church. In these simple quarters, Wulfric lived alone for twenty-nine years, devoting his time to prayer, meditation, the study of the Scriptures and severe bodily mortifications: he slept little, ate frugally, abstained from meat, exposed his emaciated body to extreme temperatures and wore a hair shirt and heavy chain mail tunic.

People soon sought him out for his blessing and then for his guidance and counsel. He came to be known as a healer of body, mind and spirit; miracles and prophesies followed. From his humble abode, the saintly anchorite came to exercise a powerful influence even at court. To King Henry I he predicted his imminent death; his successor, King Stephen, he chastised for the evils of his government.

Wulfric was one of the most influential anchorite priests of medieval England. Upon his death on February 20, 1154, a scuffle erupted in and around the church that had sheltered him in its shadows for nearly three decades. The Cluniac monks of Montacute maintained that since they had provided food for the holy man for many years, this gave them a claim to the hermit’s mortal remains while the pastor of Haselbury, the town’s inhabitants and their neighbors from Crewkerne, forcibly retained their possession of the same. Wulfric was buried in his own cell by the Bishop of Bath who had come to visit him shortly before his death.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

We must decide

This world and the world to come
are two enemies.
We cannot therefore be friends to both; but
we must decide which we will forsake
and which we will enjoy.

Pope St. Clement I

St. Boniface of Lausanne

Boniface was born in Belgium in 1205, and when he was just 17, was sent to study at a university in Paris. Once he completed his education, he remained at the university as a teacher, and over the course of seven years, became a very popular lecturer.

When the students at the university became locked in a dispute with their teachers and started boycotting classes, Boniface left Paris to fill a post at the cathedral school in Cologne.

Just two years later, in 1230, Boniface was elected Bishop of Lausanne. He accepted his new position enthusiastically and devoted all his energies to the spiritual leadership of his diocese.

But his eight years as Bishop of Lausanne were riddled with disputes, and the people of his diocese were discontented with his frank and open ways in the pulpit: he publicly scolded Emperor Frederick II and the local clergy for their corruption.

As a result of this rebuke, in 1239 he was attacked and gravely wounded by Frederick's men. This caused Boniface to ask Pope Gregory IX for permission to resign as bishop. The pope agreed, and Boniface returned to his native Belgium and began living at the Cistercian monastery at La Cambre. Although he stayed there for the rest of his life and wore the habit of the order, he apparently never became a Cistercian.

Boniface was canonized in 1702.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

It sums up man’s entire relation to God

Charity
may be a very short word,
but with its tremendous meaning of pure love, it
sums up man’s entire relation to God
and to his neighbor.

St. Aelred of Rievaulx

St. Theotonius

Born in 1082 into a wealthy and pious family in northern Portugal, Theotonius was a nephew to the Bishop of Coimbra and studied with him from a young age to prepare for the priesthood.

When Theotonius was ordained a priest, he lived most austerely, avoiding luxury. After the death of his uncle around the year 1112, the young priest, now thirty years old, accepted – though not without reluctance – the office of the Superior of the Cathedral Chapter of Viseu.

The Countess Teresa of Portugal (referred to by Pope Paschal II in 1116 as "Queen," a title that remained from that time onwards) and her husband, Henry of Burgundy, with the consent of the clergy and at the urging of the people, often sought to appoint Theotonius as Bishop of Coimbra, but he always refused.

In an effort to dissuade the Queen from her intentions, Theotonius resigned his office as Prior of the Cathedral Chapter and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. After he returned to Portugal, he resumed his work as a priest and Chapter member in Viseu, but refused to take up again the office of Prior.

Theotonius was fearless in rebuking sinful behavior, in public or in private. In one instance, the now widowed queen was attending Holy Mass celebrated by Theotonius. She was accompanied by the Galician nobleman Fernando Pérez de Traba and the nature of their scandalous relationship had become well-known. Theotonius' sermon, though not naming them, was clearly directed at their conduct. On another occasion, Theotonius was about to begin Holy Mass when the queen had a message sent asking him to say the Mass quickly. He replied simply that there was another Queen in heaven, far more noble, for whom he ought to say the Mass with the greatest reverence and devotion. If the queen did not wish to stay, she was free to leave, but he would not rush – Theotonius was ever insistent on the exact and reverent recitation of holy prayers.

Theotonius’s priestly life was distinguished by a great love for the poor and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for whom he offered Mass every Friday. The Mass was followed by a procession to the cemetery, and large sums were donated to the priest, but Theotonius distributed the money to the poor.

Theotonius died in 1162 at the age of eighty. When he heard the news, Don Afonso Henriques, Queen Teresa's son and the first king of Portugal, who was a good friend of Theotonius’s, remarked of him, “his soul will have gone up to Heaven before his body is lowered into the tomb.”

February 18 – Fra Angelico brought part of heaven to earth

Blessed Fra Angelico
A famous painter of the Florentine school, born near Castello di Vicchio in the province of Mugello, Tuscany, 1387; died at Rome, 1455. He was christened Guido, and his father’s name being Pietro he was known as Guido, or Guidolino, di Pietro, but his full appellation today is that of “Blessed Fra Angelico Giovanni da Fiesole”. He and his supposed younger brother, Fra Benedetto da Fiesole, or da Mugello, joined the order of Preachers in 1407, entering the Dominican convent at Fiesole. Giovanni was twenty years old at the time the brothers began their art careers as illustrators of manuscripts, and Fra Benedetto, who had considerable talent as an illuminator and miniaturist, is supposed to have assisted his more celebrated brother in his famous frescoes in the convent of San Marco in Florence. Fra Benedetto was superior at San Dominico at Fiesole for some years before his death in 1448. Fra Angelico, who during a residence at Foligno had come under the influence of Giotto whose work at Assisi was within easy reach, soon graduated from the illumination of missals and choir books into a remarkably naive and inspiring maker of religious paintings, who glorified the quaint naturalness of his types with a peculiarly pious mysticism.

He was convinced that to picture Christ perfectly one must need be Christlike, and Vasari says that he prefaced his paintings by prayer. His technical equipment was somewhat slender, as was natural for an artist with his beginnings, his work being rather thin dry and hard. His spirit, however, glorified his paintings. His noble holy figures, his beautiful angels, human but in form, robed with the hues of the sunrise and sunset, and his supremely earnest saints and martyrs are permeated with the sincerest of religious feeling. His early training in miniature and illumination had its influence in his more important works, with their robes of golden embroidery, their decorative arrangements and details, and pure, brilliant colours. As for the early studies in art of Fra Angelico, nothing is known. His painting shows the influence of the Siennese school, and it is thought he may have studied under Gherardo, Starnina, or Lorenzo Monaco.
On account of the struggle for the pontifical throne between Gregory XII, Benedict XIII, and Alexander V, Fra Giovanni and his brother, being adherents of the first named, had in 1409 to leave Fiesole, taking refuge in the convent of their order established at Foligno in Umbria. The pest devastating that place in 1414, the brothers went to Cortona, where they spent four years and then returned to Fiesole. There Fra Angelico remained for sixteen years. He was then invited to Florence to decorate the new Convent of San Marco which had just been allotted to his order, and of which Cosmo de’ Medici was a munificent patron.

At Cortona are found some of his best pictures. It was at Florence, however, where he spent nine years, that he painted his most important works. In 1445, Pope Eugenius IV invited Fra Angelico to Rome and gave him work to do in the Vatican, where he painted for him and for his successor, Pope Nicholas V, the frescoes of two chapels. That of the cappella del Sacramento, in the Vatican, was destroyed later by Paul III. Eugenius IV than asked him to go to Orvieto to work in the chapel of the Madonna di San Brizio in the cathedral. This work he began in 1447, but did not finish, returning to Rome in the autumn of that year. Much later the chapel was finished by Luca Signorelli. Pope Eugenius is said to have offered the painter the place of Archbishop of Florence, which through modesty and devotion to his art he declined. At Rome, besides his great paintings in the chapels of the Vatican, he executed some beautiful miniatures for choral books. He is buried in Rome in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

Among the thirty works of Fra Angelico in the cloisters and chapter house of the convent of San Marco in Florence (which has been converted into a national museum) is notable the famous “Crucifixion”, with the Saviour between the two thieves surrounded by a group of twenty saints, and with bust portraits of seventeen Dominican fathers below. Here is shown to the full the mastery of the painter in depicting in the faces of the monks the emotions evoked by the contemplation of heavenly mysteries. In the Uffizi Gallery are “The Coronation of the Virgin”, “The Virgin and Child with Saints”, “Naming of John the Baptist”, “The Preaching of St. Peter”, “The Martyrdom of St. Mark”, and “The Adoration of the Magi”, while among the examples at the Florence Academy are “The Last Judgement”, “Paradise”, “The Deposition from the Cross”, “The Entombment”, scenes from the lives of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, and various subjects from the life of Christ. At Fiesole are a “Madonna and Saints” and a “Crucifixion”.

The predella in London is in five compartments and shows Christ with the Banner of the Resurrection surrounded by a choir of angels and a great throng of the blessed. There is also there an “Adoration of the Magi”. At Cortona appear at the Convent of San Domenico the fresco “The Virgin and Child with four Evangelists” and the altar-piece “Virgin and Child with Saints”, and at the baptistry an “Annunciation” with scenes from the life of the Virgin and a “Life of St. Dominic”. In the Turin Gallery “Two Angels kneeling on Clouds”, and at Rome, in the Corsini Palace, “The Ascension”, “The Last Judgment”, and “Pentecost”. At the Louvre in Paris are “The Coronation of the Virgin”, “The Crucifixion”, and “The Martyrdom of St. Cosmas and St. Damian”. Berlin has, at the Museum, a “Last Judgment”, and Dublin, at the National Gallery, “The Martyrdom of St. Cosmas and St. Damian”.

Angel of the Annunciation, by Bl. Fra Angelico
At Madrid is “The Annunciation”, in Munich “Scenes from the Lives of St. Cosmas and St. Damian”, and in St. Petersburg a “Madonna and Saints”. Mrs. John L. Gardner has in the art gallery of her Boston residence an “Assumption” and a “Dormition of the Virgin”. There are other works at Parma, Perugia, and Pisa. At San Marco, Florence, in addition to the works already mentioned are “Madonna della Stella”, “Coronation of the Virgin”, “Adoration of the Magi”, and “St. Peter Martyr”.

 
The Chapel of St. Nicholas in the Vatican at Rome contains frescoes of the “Lives of St. Lawrence and St. Stephen”, “The Four Evangelists”, and “The Teachers of the Church”. In the gallery of the Vatican are “St. Nicholas of Bari”, and “Madonna and Angels”. The work at Orvieto finished by Signorelli shows Christ in “a glory of angels with sixteen saints and prophets”. Bryan, Dictionary of Painters and Engravers; Edgecombe-Haley, Fra Angelico.
AUGUSTUS VAN CLEEF (Catholic Encyclopedia)
To view some of his paintings click here

Friday, February 17, 2017

On such occasions

Trials and tribulations offer us a chance
to make reparation for our past faults and sins.
On such occasions the Lord comes to us
like a physician to heal the wounds left by our sins.
Tribulation is the divine medicine.

St. Augustine of Hippo

Seven Holy Founders of the Servites

Between 1225 and 1227, seven men from prominent families of Florence, Italy, left their lives of luxury and devoted themselves to prayer.
After some time, as they prayed on the feast of the Assumption, the Virgin Mary appeared to them, urging them to devote themselves to her service. Upon making arrangements for their families (two of the seven were married, and two others were widowers), the men withdrew to Monte Senario and established a simple and austere community there.

In 1240, Our Lady again appeared to the seven penitents. This time she asked them to wear a black habit and follow the Rule of St. Augustine and take the name “The Servants of Mary,” or “Servites.”

The seven men were ordained priests, and the order grew and expanded. The Order was not fully recognized by the Pope until 1304, over sixty years after its establishment.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Can you love the Blessed Virgin as much as Jesus did?

Never be afraid
of loving the Blessed Virgin too much.
You can never love her more than Jesus did.

St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Gilbert of Sempringham

Gilbert was born in Lincolnshire, England, around 1083 to a wealthy knight and his wife. Deformed at birth, he was unfit to be a knight, and instead dedicated himself to learning. Over time, Gilbert was ordained a priest, and made pastor of two churches on his father’s estate.

Among his parishioners were seven devout young women who lived under his direction. Hoping to establish a religious community for them, he built a modest house and developed an order based upon the rule of St. Benedict. Soon, he admitted lay sisters to their community, and later, as the order gradually spread, lay brothers to provide manual labor. Lastly, Gilbert included chaplains for the nuns. Thus the Gilbertines, the only medieval religious order of English origin, developed, with Gilbert himself eventually becoming head of the order.

His generosity was legendary. He had such love for the less fortunate, that most of the alms received from his parishioners were donated to the poor. At his table he always had an additional plate, which he called “the plate of the Lord Jesus.” On this plate he put the highest quality food available and then gave it to the poor.

Gilbert remained head of the order until he began to go blind. He died in 1189 at 106, and was canonized in 1202.

February 15 - St. Sigfrid of Växjö

Sigfrid was a priest from York, England. He was one of three missionary bishops sent by the king to evangelize Norway. After spending some time spreading the word of God there, the three companions made their way to Sweden, where Sigfrid converted Olaf, the king. Olaf was baptized in a spring which later was named after the holy man, and credited with many miracles.
Over the years, Sigfrid made his home at Växjö, and invited his three nephews to be his assistants. His nephews, who were all religious, eventually took over the direction of his diocese as he traveled on missions to other areas. During his absence, a violent group of heretics came to Växjö and looted the church, killing the three nephews by severing their heads from their bodies. When he heard the news, Sigfrid returned to Växjö and enshrined his nephew’s heads, on which occasion, it is said, the three heads spoke. The king wished to put the murderers to death, but the holy man interceded in their behalf, and instead the king fined them heavily. The large sum was offered to Sigfrid, but in spite of his great poverty, he refused. After missionary work in Denmark, he died sometime in 1045.

February 15 - St. Claude de la Colombière

St. Claude de la Colombiere
Missionary and ascetical writer, born of noble parentage at Saint-Symphorien-d’Ozon, between Lyons and Vienne, in 1641; died at Paray-le-Monial, 15 Feb., 1682. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1659. After fifteen years of religious life he made a vow, as a means of attaining the utmost possible perfection, to observe faithfully the rule and constitutions of his order under penalty of sin. Those who lived with him attested that this vow was kept with great exactitude. In 1674 Father de la Colombière was made superior at the Jesuit house at Paray-le-Monial, where he became the spiritual director of Blessed Margaret Mary and was thereafter a zealous apostle of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
St. Claude de la Colombière
In 1676 he was sent to England as preacher to the Duchess of York, afterwards Queen of Great Britain. He lived the life of a religious even in the Court of St. James and was as active a missionary in England as he had been in France. Although encountering many difficulties, he was able to guide Blessed Margaret Mary by letter. His zeal soon weakened his vitality and a throat and lung trouble seemed to threaten his work as a preacher. While awaiting his recall to France he was suddenly arrested and thrown into prison, denounced as a conspirator. Thanks to his title of preacher to the Duchess of York and to the protection of Louis XIV, whose subject he was, he escaped death but was condemned to exile (1679). The last two years of his life were spent at Lyons where he was spiritual director to the young Jesuits, and at Paray-le-Monial, whither he repaired for his health. His principal works, including “Pious Reflections”, “Meditations on the Passion”, “Retreat and Spiritual Letters”, were published under the title, “Oeuvres du R. P. Claude de la Colombière” (Avignon, 1832; Paris, 1864). His relics are preserved in the monastery of the Visitation nuns at Paray-le-Monial.
SEQUIN, Vie du P. de la Colombière (Paris, 1876), tr. in Quarterly Series (London, 1883); LUBEN, Der ehrwurdige Diener Gottes P. Claudius de la Colombière (Einsiedeln, 1884); LETIERCE, Le Sacre Coeur, ses apotres et ses sanctuaires (Nancy, 1886); Lettres inedites de la bienheureuse Marguerite Marie (Toulouse, 1890); CHARRIER, Histoire du V. P. Claude de la Colombière (Paris, 1894); Bougaud, Histoire de la bienheureuse Marguerite Marie (Toulouse, 1900); Oeuvres completes du R. P. de la Colombière (Grenoble, 1901); HATTLER, Lebensbild der ehrwurdige P. Claudius de la Colombière (1903); POUPLARD, Notice sur le serviteur de Dieu, le R. P. Claude de la Colombière.
GERTRUDE DANA STEELE (Catholic Encyclopedia)
[Ed. note: He was canonized 31 May, 1992, by Pope John Paul II]

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How to go to God

Go to God simply,
with great confidence that His goodness will guide you;
let yourself go confidently as your heart draws you, and
fear nothing but pride and self-love.

St. Claude de la Colombière

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

You learn to love by loving

You learn to speak by speaking,
to study by studying, to run by running,
to work by working, and just so,
you learn to love by loving.
All those who think to learn in any other way
deceive themselves.

St. Francis de Sales