Thursday, March 21, 2019

Why temptation?

Virtue is nothing
without the trial of temptation, for
there is no conflict without an enemy,
no victory without strife.

Pope St. Leo the Great

St. Enda of Aran

In the land evangelized by St. Patrick, there emerged in subsequent centuries a number of saints, who by the sanctity of their lives firmly established Christianity in Ireland. Among these is to be numbered the great St. Enda of Aran.

Enda was born in the sixth century to Oriel of Ulster, son of Conall Derg of Ergall, to whose principality he succeeded upon his death. One of his sisters was married to Oengus the king of Munster; another, the holy Fanchea, was abbess of a monastery. It was the pious exhortations of the latter that compelled him to leave the world and embrace the monastic life. He embarked on a pilgrimage to Rome to venerate the relics of the Apostles and was there ordained a priest.

Upon his return to Ireland, he built a church in Drogheda along the River Boyne and founded a religious community. From his brother-in-law, King Oengus of Munster, he obtained the grant of the wild and barren isle of Aran (Aranmore) in the Bay of Galway, where he founded the famous Monastery of Killeaney. Such was the fame acquired by this monastery and its abbot, that the island was called “Aran of the Saints”. Many of the great Irish saints had some connection with Aran and St. Enda: St. Brendan the Voyager, St. Kiaran of Clonmacnoise, St. Columba of Iona, St. Finnian of Clonard and others. So numerous were the pilgrims to Aran that St. Columba called it “The Rome of Pilgrims”.

Enda divided the island into ten parts, in each of which he built a monastery and over which he set superiors. His monastic settlement was known for its austerity, holiness and learning, and became a burning light of sanctity for centuries in Western Europe.

This father of Irish monasticism died in advanced old age and was buried on Aran Mor.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Pure love of neighbor

He alone loves the Creator perfectly
who manifests a pure love for his neighbor.

St. Bede the Venerable

St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne

Orphaned early in life, Cuthbert was brought up by a widow who loved him like a son. According to St. Bede, he was a Briton. One night, while working as a shepherd, he had a marvelous vision of angels carrying the soul of St. Aidan to heaven. This occurrence seems to have impressed him deeply, though he went on to soldiering and possibly fought against the Mercians.

It was as a soldier that he knocked at the gate of Melrose Abbey. As a monk, he went on to become prior of the abbeys of Melrose and Lindisfarne. After some years at Lindisfarne, wishing to grow even closer to God, he retired as a hermit first to Holy Island, today named after him, and then to an even more remote location among the Farne Islands. Still, people persisted in following him even to this isolated place, and he graciously built a guest house near the landing stage of the isle to accommodate them.

Illustrations taken from the Venerable St. Bede’s Life of Cuthbert
Later, at the insistence of the Abbess St. Elfleda, a daughter of King Oswiu, he reluctantly accepted a bishopric and was consecrated Bishop of Lindisfarne. The two years of his episcopate were spent visiting his diocese preaching, teaching, distributing alms and working so many miraculous cures that during his lifetime he was known as the Wonderworker of Britain.

Weakened by his labors and austerities, Cuthbert sensed death approaching and again retired to his beloved retreat in the Farne Islands. He received the last sacraments and died peacefully, seated, his hands uplifted and his eyes raised heavenward. The Venerable St. Bede also records in his life of the saint that when Cuthbert's sarcophagus was opened nine years after his death, his body was found to have been perfectly preserved or incorrupt.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Why St. Joseph is the terror of demons (Feast: March 19)


Header-Why St Joseph is the Terror of Demons

Although detailed accounts of St. Joseph's life remains scarce, we learn from Scriptures and Sacred Tradition about his unshakeable faith, his assiduous perseverance, his admirable purity and his exceptional humility. The Church, in her wisdom, left the faithful with a legacy of a series of beautiful invocations in his honor called the Litany of St. Joseph. The vivid appellations found therein draw us closer to the saint and remind us of his many virtues. We find a particularly intriguing invocation full of meaning and truth, "Terror of Demons." Now, one wonders why?

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A Noble Vocation

Given the grandeur of his vocation – the protection, sustenance and care of the Blessed Mother and Our Lord Jesus Christ as head of the Holy Family - we can expect that God also endowed him with an equally proportional grace to carry out such a lofty mission in life. And certainly we can picture him as a sublime icon of manliness and a pillar of strength that would sow terrible fear among the powers of darkness given the noble task under his watch.

Commitment to Purity
In the writings of the venerable Mary of Agreda detailed in the City of God, we read that St. Joseph was a native of Nazareth, was of comely figure and agreeable countenance, very modest and incomparably genteel in appearance. He was related to the Blessed Virgin in the third degree, made a vow of perpetual chastity at age twelve, renewed and kept it in marriage much to the delight and joy of the Most Holy Virgin who vowed the same. He was thirty-three years old at that time.
It is beautiful to note here that when the holy priest Simeon gathered all the young men of Jerusalem from the house of David at the temple to choose who would be the rightful spouse of Our Lady, he was inspired by God to give each man a dry rod. After a period of prayer asking for the manifestation of the Divine Will, pure white lilies - the symbol of purity - blossomed from St. Joseph's staff and a white dove, most pure and brilliant, hovered over his head giving Simeon the sign that he was the chosen one.
Hence, St. Joseph is the epitome of a pure man: pure in thought, pure in heart; pure in body and soul – destined to be the most chaste spouse of Mary Most Holy conceived without sin. In face of such sublime purity and holiness, it would not be farfetched to believe that the ugly, filthy infernal spirits would cower in petrified fear in his presence.

The success of Christ's mission depended on St. Joseph
And in his hands lay the unenviable yet most exalted duty of protecting the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the pinnacle of all creation. God became Man to redeem mankind and to endow it with the most perfect and ultimate gift of Eternal Life through His Sacred Body and Blood. To fulfill His Divine mission, God the Father deigned to entrust His Son to the paternal care of St. Joseph. What a formidable and powerful man St. Joseph must have been!
We can certainly attribute this plan to God's Eternal Wisdom which has predestined us for Eternal Life through His Son. For this holy cause, He granted His Son to be born of a most pure Mother unblemished by the stain of Original Sin. And to ensure and preserve the integrity of that Immaculate Mother, He betrothed her to a beloved and most chaste spouse: Joseph.

Protector of the Church
And as the protector and guardian of Our Lord and Our Lady, St. Joseph is also invoked as the Patron of the Universal Church in apt recognition of his prowess and fortitude. The Catholic Church, born from the water that gushed forth from Jesus' side, and nurtured by the maternal love of Our Lady, sought comfort and protection from the snares and malice of Satan and his followers in the hands of St. Joseph, indeed, the terror of demons!. In recognition of this special place, Holy Mother Church honors him with the highest veneration called protodulia, higher than any given to angels and saints except for Mary who receives a special veneration called hyperdulia.

Patron of a Good Death
While Our Lady enjoyed the most singular privilege of perfect beauty of complexion and form even when she reached the age of seventy by virtue of her sinless body, God denied this favor to St. Joseph. Thus, he suffered bodily deterioration, pain and suffering with advancing age. Ultimately, he ceased from working and accepted his fate with resignation. Henceforth, he gave himself up entirely to the contemplation of the mysteries of which he was the depositary, and to the heroic practice of virtues.
Sacred Tradition tells us that Our Lord and Our Lady assisted him in his dying moments and his death was surpassed in holiness by no other saint – save by Jesus and Mary. By virtue of this, St. Joseph came to be known as the Patron of the Dying. Through the ages, the Catholic faithful lovingly prayed to him for the grace of a good and holy death. St. Joseph died at the age of sixty years.

Signal Graces obtained through St. Joseph's intercession
Finally, again citing Mary of Agreda's City of God, we learn the following consoling revelations:
•    "First, those who invoke him shall obtain from God, by his intercession, the gift of chastity, and shall not be conquered by the temptation of the senses;
•    Secondly, they shall receive particular graces to deliver them from sin;
•    Thirdly, they shall obtain a true devotion to the Blessed Virgin;
•    Fourthly, they shall have a good and happy death, and in that all-decisive moment be defended against the assaults of Satan;
•    Fifthly, they shall be delivered when expedient for them, from bodily sufferings, and shall find help in their afflictions;
•    Sixthly, if married, they shall be blessed with offspring;
•    Seventhly, the demons shall have extreme dread of the glorious name of St. Joseph.
With so many graces to be obtained through his powerful intercession, let us not tarry nor hesitate in asking humbly for the protection and aid of dear St. Joseph, Terror of demons!



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When sinners come to Jesus

When sinners come to Him, Jesus hurries to meet them.
Like the father of the prodigal son,
He is waiting for the return of the ungrateful ones.
Like the good shepherd, He seeks after the lost sheep; and
when He finds it, He places it on His divine shoulders and
restores it to the fold.

The Book of Confidence – Fr. Thomas de Saint-Laurent

St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

As a direct descendant of King David, Joseph was of royal lineage. Although of noble birth and ancestry, this heir of the throne of David was circumstantially poor and a carpenter by trade.

Chosen by God as the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the protector of her honor, Joseph respected her vow of virginity as evidenced in the Virgin’s response to the Archangel Gabriel when he announced that she was to bear a son, “How shall this be done, because I know not man?”(Luke 1:34)

Though the Gospels reveal little about Joseph, the simple eulogy of the Holy Scriptures, “being a just man,” (Matt. 1:19) encompasses his greatness.

It was this “just man” who perceiving the expectant state of his wife, and knowing not the origin, trusting in her holiness against the evidence of his eyes, refused to denounce her. God rewarded his heroic faith: an angel appeared to Joseph in the night and revealed to him that his holy spouse had conceived “the expectation of nations” (Gen. 49:10) by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We next read of this “just man,” now in the role of protector of both the mother and the divine Son in Bethlehem, looking for suitable lodgings for the birth of the incarnate Word, and being systematically refused. We read of him offering two turtle doves, again evidence of his poverty, as a ransom for the Child at the Temple. Then, again, an angel appears in his dream and warns him of the envy of King Herod. Immediately taking to the dusty road, this “just man” braves the frightful desert on foot, leading a donkey bearing the Creator of the Universe and His mother to safety in Egypt.

Though there is no scriptural record of Saint Joseph’s death, we know he was absent at Jesus’ crucifixion, which points to his having died before.

The Roman Martyrology commemorates March 19 as the feast of St. Joseph.  Blessed Pope Pius IX, acceding to the universal desire and prayers of the Catholic world declared the holy patriarch Patron of the Universal Church. It is only fitting that he who protected the mother and the Son, also protect the bride.