Friday, December 6, 2019

The value of fear

The people of this world are wary of evil-doing
for fear of temporal punishment.
How much more, then, should they be wary for fear of
the punishment of Hell, which is greater,
both in respect to its severity and in respect to its manifold nature:
Remember thy last end, and thou shall never sin.”

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Nicholas of Bari

Nicholas is thought to have been born in Patara, Lycia, a province of Asia Minor. Myra was the capital, close to the ocean, and an episcopal see. When the see became vacant, Nicholas was chosen bishop and became famous and beloved for his extraordinary piety, zeal and many astonishing miracles.

He suffered imprisonment for his faith and made a glorious confession during the persecution of Diocletian.

He was also present at the Council of Nicaea and there condemned Arianism. St. Methodius asserts that thanks to the teaching of St. Nicholas, Myra alone was untouched by the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ.

Legend has it that the tradition of gift giving attached to St. Nicholas comes from the fact that he once helped a father and his three daughters. Hearing that they were destitute, and therefore could find no husbands, he slipped a bag of gold through the family’s window under the cover of darkness. At intervals, he did the same for the second and third girl, saving all three from a life of want and shame.

Nicholas died and was buried in his city of Myra, and by the time of Justinian, there was already a basilica built in his honor in Constantinople. Later, his relics were moved to the city of Bari, Italy, and many miracles were attributed to his intercession.

The devotion to St. Nicholas spread not only in the East but also in the West, and his image was amply reproduced, second only to that of Our Lady. In the later Middle Ages, there were nearly four hundred churches in England alone dedicated to him. In the East, St. Nicholas is venerated as patron of sailors, and in the West, of children.

In several European countries he is beloved as the pre-Christmas “gift giver”. The modern “Santa Claus” is a secular corruption of the saint.

1st Friday & 1st Saturday Devotions

 Header 1st Friday and 1st Saturday Devotions
NINE FIRST FRIDAYS DEVOTION

When Our Lord appeared to Saint Margaret Mary in 1673, He promised to grant the following favors to all those who practiced devotion to His Sacred Heart:

12 Promises of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary:
1)  I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2)  I will give peace in their families.
3)  I will console them in all their troubles.
4)  I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5)  I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6)  Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7)  Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8)  Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9)  I will bless those places wherein the image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10) I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11) Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12) In the excess of the mercy of my heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

A veritable treasure chest of spiritual gems! And what does He ask of us in return?

How to complete the Nine First Fridays Devotion:
On the first Friday of nine consecutive months:
1. Receive Holy Communion on each of the First Fridays;
2. The nine first Fridays must be consecutive;
3. They must be made in honor of and in reparation to His Sacred Heart.



 FIVE FIRST SATURDAYS DEVOTION

In December of 1925, Our Lady appeared to Sister Lucia, giving her the following guaranty of salvation for those who complete the First Five Saturdays Devotion:
“I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls."

Why Five Saturdays?
The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
1) Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception.
2) Blasphemies against her virginity.
3) Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men.
4) Instilling indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children.
5) Direct insults against Her sacred images.

How to complete the Five First Saturdays Devotion:
On the first Saturday of five consecutive months:
1. Go to confession;
2. Receive Holy Communion;
3. Say five decades of the Rosary;
4. Keep Our Lady company for 15 minutes, meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary;
5. Have the intention of making reparation to Our Lady for the offenses listed above.




Thursday, December 5, 2019

Impossible

It is impossible to save one's soul
without devotion to Mary
and without her protection.

Saint Anselm, Doctor of the Church

St. Sabas

(Also spelled Sabbas).
Hermit, born at Mutalaska near Caesarea in Cappadocia, 439; died in his laura 5 December, 532. He entered a Basilian monastery aat the age of eight, came to Jerusalem in 456, lived five years in a cavern as a disciple of St. Euthymius, and, after spending some time in various monasteries, founded (483) the Laura Mar Sabe (restored in 1840) in the gorges of the Cedron, southeast of Jerusalem. Because some of his monks opposed his rule and demanded a priest as their abbot, Patriarch Salustius of Jerusalem ordained him in 491 and appointed archimandrite of all the monasteries in Palestine in 494. The opposition continued and he withdrew to the new laura which he had built near Thekoa. A strenuous opponent of the Monophysites and the Origenists he tried to influence the emperors against them by calling personally on Emperor Anastasius at Constantinople in 511 and on Justinian in 531. His authorship of "Typicon S. Sabæ" (Venice, 1545), a regulation for Divine worship throughout the year as well as his authorship of a monastic rule bearing the same title (Kurtz in "Byzant, Zeitschrift", III, Leipzig, 1894, 167-70), is doubtful. After him was named the Basilica of St. Sabas with its former monastery on the Aventine at Rome. His feast is on 5 December. Other saints of this name are:


  • St. Sabbas, a Goth, martyred 12 April, 372, by being drowned in the Musæus, a tributary of the Danube;
  • St. Sabbas, also a Goth, martyred with about seventy others at Rome, under Aurelian;
  • St. Julianus Sabbas, a hermit near Edessa, d. about 380;
  • St. Sabbas the Younger, a Basilian abbot, 6 February, 990 or 991, at the monastery of St. Caesarius in Rome;
  • St. Sabbas, Archbishop of Serbia, d. at Trnawa, 14 January, 1237.
A Life in Greek by Cyril of Scythopolis was edited by Cotelier in Eccl. Graecae Monum., III (Paris, 1686) 220-376, and by Ponjalovskij together with an Old-Slavonian version (St. Petersburg, 1890); another old Life in Greek was edited by Koiklydes (Jerusalem, 1905).
MICHAEL OTT (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe - Dec. 4 to Dec. 12


Header-Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe


Memorare of Our Lady of Guadalupe
(to be prayed each day)
Remember, O most gracious Virgin of Guadalupe, that in your heavenly apparitions on the mount of Tepeyac, you promised to show your compassion and pity towards all who, loving and trusting you, seek your help and call upon you in their necessities and afflictions. You promised to hear our supplications, to dry our tears, and to give us consolation and relief.
Never has it been known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, we fly to you, O Mary, ever-Virgin Mother of the true God! Though grieving under the weight of our sins, we come to prostrate ourselves before you. We fully trust that, standing beneath your shadow and protection, nothing will trouble or afflict us, nor do we need to fear illness or misfortune, or any other sorrow.
O Virgin of Guadalupe, you want to remain with us through your admirable Image, you who are our Mother, our health, and our life. Placing ourselves beneath your maternal gaze, and having recourse to you in all our necessities, we need do nothing more.
O Holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer us. Amen



First Day - December 4
Dearest Lady of Guadalupe, fruitful Mother of holiness, teach me your ways of gentleness and strength. Hear my humble prayer offered with heartfelt confidence to beg this favor...
(Here mention your requests)

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Memorare of Our Lady of Guadalupe



Second Day - December 5
O Mary conceived without sin, I come to your throne of grace to share the fervent devotion of your faithful children who call upon you under the glorious title of Guadalupe. Obtain for me a lively faith to do your Son’s holy will always: May His will be done on earth as it is in heaven...
(Here mention your requests)

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Memorare of Our Lady of Guadalupe


Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe-Image 1

Third Day - December 6
O Mary, most sorrowful, whose Immaculate Heart, was pierced by seven swords of grief, help me to walk valiantly amid the sharp thorns strewn across my pathway. Obtain for me the strength to be a true imitator of you. This I ask you, my dear Mother...
(Here mention your requests)

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Memorare of Our Lady of Guadalupe



Fourth Day - December 7
Dearest Mother of Guadalupe, I beg you for a fortified will to imitate your divine Son’s charity, to always seek the good of others in need. Grant me this, I humbly ask of you...
(Here mention your requests)

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Memorare of Our Lady of Guadalupe



Fifth Day - December 8
O most holy Mother, I beg you to obtain for me the pardon of all my sins, abundant graces to serve your Son more faithfully from now on, and lastly, the grace to praise Him with you forever in heaven...
(Here mention your requests)

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Memorare of Our Lady of Guadalupe


Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe-Image 2
Sixth Day - December 9
Mary, Mother of vocations, we beg you to multiply priestly vocations and fill the earth with religious houses which will be light and warmth for the world, and safety in stormy nights. Beg your Son to send us many holy priests and religious. This we ask of you, O Mother...
(Here mention your requests)

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Memorare of Our Lady of Guadalupe



Seventh Day - December 10
O Lady of Guadalupe, we beg you that parents live a holy life and educate their children in accordance with the true Catholic faith; that children obey and follow the directions of their parents; and that all members of the family pray and worship together. This we ask of you, O Mother...
(Here mention your requests)

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Memorare of Our Lady of Guadalupe



Eighth Day - December 11
O Lady of Guadalupe, with my heart full of the most sincere veneration, I prostrate myself before you, O Mother, to ask you to obtain for me the grace to fulfill the duties of my state in life with faithfulness and constancy...
(Here mention your requests)

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Memorare of Our Lady of Guadalupe


Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe-Image 3

Ninth Day - December 12 - Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
O God, you have been pleased to bestow upon us unceasing favors by having placed us under the special protection of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Grant us, your humble servants, who rejoice in honoring her today upon earth, the happiness of seeing her face to face in heaven...
(Here mention your requests)

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Memorare of Our Lady of Guadalupe




Read:

How to test love

He who limits himself
to performing only what is his obligation
. . .  

does not love. 

St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. John Damascene

Born at Damascus, about 676; died some time between 754 and 787. The only extant life of the saint is that by John, Patriarch of Jerusalem, which dates from the tenth century (P.G. XCIV, 429-90). This life is the single source from which have been drawn the materials of all his biographical notices. It is extremely unsatisfactory from the standpoint of historical criticism. An exasperating lack of detail, a pronounced legendary tendency, and a turgid style are its chief characteristics. Mansur was probably the name of John's father. What little is known of him indicates that he was a sterling Christian whose infidel environment made no impression on his religious fervour. Apparently his adhesion to Christian truth constituted no offence in the eyes of his Saracen countrymen, for he seems to have enjoyed their esteem in an eminent degree, and discharged the duties of chief financial officer for the caliph, Abdul Malek. The author of the life records the names of but two of his children, John and his half-brother Cosmas. When the future apologist had reached the age of twenty-three his father cast about for a Christian tutor capable of giving his sons the best education the age afforded. In this he was singularly fortunate. Standing one day in the market-place he discovered among the captives taken in a recent raid on the shores of Italy a Sicilian monk named Cosmas. Investigation proved him to be a man of deep and broad erudition. Through the influence of the caliph, Mansur secured the captive's liberty and appointed him tutor to his sons. Under the tutelage of Cosmas, John made such rapid progress that, in the enthusiastic language of his biographer, he soon equalled Diophantus in algebra and Euclid in geometry. Equal progress was made in music, astronomy, and theology.
On the death of his father, John Damascene was made protosymbulus, or chief councillor, of Damascus. It was during his incumbency of this office that the Church in the East began to be agitated by the first mutterings of the Iconoclast heresy. In 726, despite the protests of Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, Leo the Isaurian issued his first edict against the veneration of images. From his secure refuge in the caliph's court, John Damascene immediately entered the lists against him, in defence of this ancient usage of the Christians. Not only did he himself oppose the Byzantine monarch, but he also stirred the people to resistance. In 730 the Isaurian issued a second edict, in which he not only forbade the veneration of images, but even inhibited their exhibition in public places. To this royal decree the Damascene replied with even greater vigour than before, and by the adoption of a simpler style brought the Christian side of the controversy within the grasp of the common people. A third letter emphasized what he had already said and warned the emperor to beware of the consequences of this unlawful action. Naturally, these powerful apologies aroused the anger of the Byzantine emperor. Unable to reach the writer with physical force, he sought to encompass his destruction by strategy. Having secured an autograph letter written by John Damascene, he forged a letter, exactly similar in chirography, purporting to have been written by John to the Isaurian, and offering to betray into his hands the city of Damascus. The letter he sent to the caliph. Notwithstanding his councillor's earnest avowal of innocence, the latter accepted it as genuine and ordered that the hand that wrote it be severed at the wrist. The sentence was executed, but, according to his biographer, through the intervention of the Blessed Virgin, the amputated hand was miraculously restored.
The caliph, now convinced of John's innocence, would fain have reinstated him in his former office, but the Damascene had heard a call to a higher life, and with his foster-brother entered the monastery of St. Sabas, some eighteen miles south-east of Jerusalem. After the usual probation, John V, Patriarch of Jerusalem, conferred on him the office of the priesthood. In 754 the pseudo-Synod of Constantinople, convened at the command of Constantine Copronymus, the successor of Leo, confirmed the principles of the Iconoclasts and anathematized by name those who had conspicuously opposed them. But the largest measure of the council's spleen was reserved for John of Damascus. He was called a "cursed favourer of Saracens", a "traitorous worshipper of images", a "wronger of Jesus Christ", a "teacher of impiety", and a "bad interpreter of the Scriptures". At the emperor's command his name was written "Manzer" (Manzeros, a bastard). But the Seventh General Council of Nicea (787) made ample amends for the insults of his enemies, and Theophanes, writing in 813, tells us that he was surnamed Chrysorrhoas (golden stream) by his friends on account of his oratorical gifts. In the pontificate of Leo XIII he was enrolled among the doctors of the Church. His feast is celebrated on 27 March.
John of Damascus was the last of the Greek Fathers. His genius was not for original theological development, but for compilation of an encyclopedic character. In fact, the state of full development to which theological thought had been brought by the great Greek writers and councils left him little else than the work of an encyclopedist; and this work he performed in such manner as to merit the gratitude of all succeeding ages. Some consider him the precursor of the Scholastics, whilst others regard him as the first Scholastic, and his "De fide orthodoxa" as the first work of Scholasticism. The Arabians too, owe not a little of the fame of their philosophy to his inspiration. The most important and best known of all his works is that to which the author himself gave the name of "Fountain of Wisdom" (pege gnoseos). This work has always been held in the highest esteem in both the Catholic and Greek Churches. Its merit is not that of originality, for the author asserts, at the end of the second chapter of the "Dialectic", that it is not his purpose to set forth his own views, but rather to collate and epitomize in a single work the opinions of the great ecclesiastical writers who have gone before him. A special interest attaches to it for the reason that it is the first attempt at a summa theologica that has come down to us.
The "Fountain of Wisdom" is divided into three parts, namely, "Philosophical Chapters" (Kephalaia philosophika), "Concerning Heresy" (peri aipeseon), and "An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" (Ikdosis akribes tes orthodoxou pisteos). The title of the first book is somewhat too comprehensive for its contents and consequently is more commonly called "Dialectic". With the exception of the fifteen chapters that deal exclusively with logic, it has mostly to do with the ontology of Aristotle. It is largely a summary of the Categories of Aristotle with Porphyry's "Isagoge" (Eisagoge eis tas kategorias). It seems to have been John Damascene's purpose to give his readers only such philosophical knowledge as was necessary for understanding the subsequent parts of the "Fountain of Wisdom". For more than one reason the "Dialectic" is a work of unusual interest. In the first place, it is a record of the technical terminology used by the Greek Fathers, not only against the heretics, but also in the exposition of the Faith for the benefit of Christians. It is interesting, too, for the reason that it is a partial exposition of the "Organon", and the application of its methods to Catholic theology a century before the first Arabic translation of Aristotle made its appearance. The second part, "Concerning Heresy", is little more than a copy of a similar work by Epiphanius, brought up to date by John Damascene. The author indeed expressly disclaims originality except in the chapters devoted to Islamism, Iconoclasm, and Aposchitae. To the list of eighty heresies that constitute the "Panarion" of Epiphanius, he added twenty heresies that had sprung up since his time. In treating of Islamism he vigorously assails the immoral practices of Mohammed and the corrupt teachings inserted in the Koran to legalize the delinquencies of the prophet. Like Epiphanius, he brings the work to a close with a fervent profession of Faith. John's authorship of this book has been challenged, for the reason that the writer, in treating of Arianism, speaks of Arius, who died four centuries before the time of Damascene, as still living and working spiritual ruin among his people. The solution of the difficulty is to be found in the fact that John of Damascene did not epitomize the contents of the "Panarion", but copied it verbatim. Hence the passage referred to is in the exact words of Epiphanius himself, who was a contemporary of Arius.
"Concerning the Orthodox Faith", the third book of the "Fountain of Wisdom", is the most important of John Damascene's writings and one of the most notable works of Christian antiquity. Its authority has always been great among the theologians of the East and West. Here, again, the author modestly disavows any claim of originality — any purpose to essay a new exposition of doctrinal truth. He assigns himself the less pretentious task of collecting in a single work the opinions of the ancient writers scattered through many volumes, and of systematizing and connecting them in a logical whole. It is no small credit to John of Damascus that he was able to give to the Church in the eighth century its first summary of connected theological opinions. At the command of Eugenius III it was rendered into Latin by Burgundio of Pisa, in 1150, shortly before Peter Lombard's "Book of Sentences" appeared. This translation was used by Peter Lombard and St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as by other theologians, till the Humanists rejected it for a more elegant one. The author follows the same order as does Theodoret of Cyrus in his "Epitome of Christian Doctrine". But, while he imitates the general plan of Theodoret, he does not make use of his method. He quotes, not only form the pages of Holy Writ, but also from the writings of the Fathers. As a result, his work is an inexhaustible thesaurus of tradition which became the standard for the great Scholastics who followed. In particular, he draws generously from Gregory of Nazianzus, whose works he seems to have absorbed, from Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril of Alexandria, Leo the Great, Athanasius, John Chrysostum, and Epiphanius. The work is divided into four books. This division, however, is an arbitrary one neither contemplated by the author nor justified by the Greek manuscript. It is probably the work of a Latin translator seeking to accommodate it to the style of the four books of Lombard's "Sentences".
The first book of "The Orthodox Faith" treats of the essence and existence of God, the Divine nature, and the Trinity. As evidence of the existence of God he cites the concurrence of opinion among those enlightened by Revelation and those who have only the light of reason to guide them. To the same end he employs the argument drawn from the mutability of created things and that from design. Treating, in the second book, of the physical world, he summarizes all the views of his times, without, however, committing himself to any of them. In the same treatise he discloses a comprehensive knowledge of the astronomy of his day. Here, also, place is given to the consideration of the nature of angels and demons, the terrestrial paradise, the properties of human nature, the foreknowledge of God, and predestination. Treating of man (c.xxvii), he gives what has been aptly called a "psychology in nuce". Contrary to the teachings of Plotinus, the master of Porphyry, he identifies mind and soul. In the third book the personality and two-fold nature of Christ are discussed with great ability. This leads up to the consideration of the Monophysite heresy. In this connexion he deals with Peter the Fuller's addition to the "Trisagion", and combats Anastasius's interpretation of this ancient hymn. The latter, who was Abbot of the monastery of St. Euthymius in Palestine, referred the "Trisagion" only to the Second Person of the Trinity. In his letter "Concerning the Trisagion" John Damascene contends that the hymn applies not to the Son alone, but to each Person of the Blessed Trinity. This book also contains a spirited defence of the Blessed Virgin's claim to the tile of "Theotokos." Nestorius is vigorously dealt with for trying to substitute the title of "Mother of Christ" for "Mother of God". The Scriptures are discussed in the fourth book. In assigning twenty-two books to the Old Testament Canon he is treating of the Hebrew, and not the Christian, Canon, as he finds it in a work of Epiphanius, "De ponderibus et mensuris". His treatment in this book of the Real Presence is especially satisfactory. The nineteenth chapter contains a powerful plea for the veneration of images.
The treatise, "Against the Jacobites", was written at the request of Peter, Metropolitan of Damascus, who imposed on him the task of reconciling to the Faith the Jacobite bishop. It is a strong polemic against the Jacobites, as the Monophysites in Syria were called. He also wrote against the Manicheans and Monothelites. The "Booklet Concerning Right Judgment" is little more than a profession of Faith, confirmed by arguments setting forth the mysteries of the Faith, especially the Trinity and the Incarnation. Though John of Damascus wrote voluminously on the Scriptures, as in the case of so much of his writing, his work bears little of the stamp of originality. His "Select Passages" (Loci Selecti), as he himself admits, are taken largely from the homilies of St. John Chrysostom and appended as commentaries to texts from the Epistles of St. Paul. The commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians is taken from Cyril of Alexandria. The "Sacred Parallels" (Sacra parallela) is a kind of topical concordance, treating principally of God, man, virtues, and vices.
Under the general title of "Homilies" he wrote fourteen discourses. The sermon on the Transfiguration, which Lequien asserts was delivered in the church on Mt. Tabor, is of more than usual excellence. It is characterized by dramatic eloquence, vivid description, and a wealth of imagery. In it he discourses on his favorite topic, the twofold nature of Christ, quotes the classic text of Scripture in testimony of the primacy of Peter, and witnesses the Catholic doctrine of sacramental Penance. In his sermon on Holy Saturday he descants on the Easter duty and on the Real Presence. The Annunciation is the text of a sermon, now extant only in a Latin version of an Arabic text, in which he attributes various blessings to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. The second of his three sermons on the Assumption is especially notable for its detailed account of the translation of the body of the Blessed Virgin into heaven, an account, he avers, that is based on the most reliable and ancient tradition. Both Liddledale and Neale regard John of Damascus as the prince of Greek hymnodists. His hymns are contained in the "Carmina" of the Lequien edition. The "canons" on the Nativity, Epiphany, and Pentecost are written in iambic trimeters. Three of his hymns have become widely known and admired in their English version — "Those eternal bowers", "Come ye faithful raise the strain", and "Tis the Day of Resurrection". The most famous of the "canons" is that on Easter. It is a song of triumph and thanksgiving — the "Te Deum" of the Greek Church. It is a traditional opinion, lately controverted, that John Damascene composed the "Octoëchos", which contains the liturgical hymns used by the Greek Church in its Sunday services. Gerbet, in his "History of Sacred Music", credits him with doing for the East what Gregory the Great accomplished for the West — substitution of notes and other musical characters for the letters of the alphabet to indicate musical quantities. It is certain he adapted choral music to the purposes of the Liturgy.
Among the several works that are dubiously attributed to John Damascene the most important is the romance entitled "Barlaam and Josaphat". Throughout the Middle Ages it enjoyed the widest popularity in all languages. It is not regarded as authentic by Lequien, and the discovery of a Syriac version of the "Apology of Aristides" shows that what amounts to sixteen printed pages of it was taken directly from Aristides. The panegyric of St. Barbara, while accepted as genuine by Lequien, is rejected by many others. The treatise entitled "Concerning those who have died in the Faith" is rejected as spurious by Suarez, Bellarmine, and Lequien, not only on account of its doctrinal discrepancies, but for its fabulous character as well. The first Greek edition of any of the works of John Damascene was that of the "Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" brought out at Verona (1531) under the auspices of John Matthew Gibertus, Bishop of Verona. Another Greek edition of the same work was published at Moldavia (1715) by John Epnesinus. It was also printed in a Latin edition at Paris (1507), by James Faber. Henry Gravius, O.P., published a Latin edition at Cologne (1546) which contained the following works: "Dialectic", "Elementary and Dogmatic Instruction", "Concerning the two Wills and Operations", and "Concerning Heresy". A Greek-Latin edition with an introduction by Mark Hopper made its appearance at Basle (1548). A similar edition, but much more complete was published at the same place in 1575. Another Latin edition, constituting a partial collection of the author's works is that by Michael Lequien, O.P., published at Paris (1717) and Venice (1748). To the reprint of this edition, P.G., XCIV-XCVI (Paris, 1864), Migne has added a supplement of works attributed by some to the authorship of John Damascene.
John B. O'Connor (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Prayer to the Immaculate Conception (Feast: December 8)

Prayer to the Immaculate Conception
by St. Maximillian Mary Kolbe  
 
Allow me to praise Thee, O most holy Virgin Mary, with my personal commitment and sacrifice.
Allow me to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die for Thee, just for Thee.
Allow me to bring the whole world to Thee.
Allow me to contribute to your ever-greater exaltation, to Thine greatest possible exaltation.
Allow me to give Thee such glory that no one else has ever given up to now.
Allow others to surpass me in zeal for Thine exaltation and me to surpass them, so that by means of such noble rivalry, your glory may increase ever more profoundly, ever more rapidly, ever more intensely as He Who has exalted Thee so indescribably, above all other beings Himself desires.
Amen.

What counts

It is not the actual physical exertion that counts toward a man’s progress,
nor the nature of the task,
but the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken.

St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier

Born in the Castle of Xavier near Sanguesa, in Navarre, 7 April, 1506; died on the Island of Sancian near the coast of China, 2 December, 1552. In 1525, having completed a preliminary course of studies in his own country, Francis Xavier went to Paris, where he entered the collège de Sainte-Barbe. Here he met the Savoyard, Pierre Favre, and a warm personal friendship sprang up between them. It was at this same college that St. Ignatius Loyola, who was already planning the foundation of the Society of Jesus, resided for a time as a guest in 1529. He soon won the confidence of the two young men; first Favre and later Xavier offered themselves with him in the formation of the Society. Four others, Lainez, Salmerón, Rodríguez, and Bobadilla, having joined them, the seven made the famous vow of Montmartre, 15 Aug., 1534.
After completing his studies in Paris and filling the post of teacher there for some time, Xavier left the city with his companions 15 November, 1536, and turned his steps to Venice, where he displayed zeal and charity in attending the sick in the hospitals. On 24 June, 1537, he received Holy orders with St. Ignatius. The following year he went to Rome, and after doing apostolic work there for some months, during the spring of 1539 he took part in the conferences which St. Ignatius held with his companions to prepare for the definitive foundation of the Society of Jesus. The order was approved verbally 3 September, and before the written approbation was secured, which was not until a year later, Xavier was appointed , at the earnest solicitation of the John III, King of Portugal, to evangelize the people of the East Indies. He left Rome 16 March, 1540, and reached Lisbon about June. Here he remained nine months, giving many admirable examples of apostolic zeal.
On 7 April, 1541, he embarked in a sailing vessel for India, and after a tedious and dangerous voyage landed at Goa, 6 May, 1542. The first five months he spent in preaching and ministering to the sick in the hospitals. He would go through the streets ringing a little bell and inviting the children to hear the word of God. When he had gathered a number, he would take them to a certain church and would there explain the catechism to them. About October, 1542, he started for the pearl fisheries of the extreme southern coast of the peninsula, desirous of restoring Christanity which, although introduced years before, had almost disappeared on account of the lack of priests. He devoted almost three years to the work of preaching to the people of Western India, converting many, and reaching in his journeys even the Island of Ceylon. Many were the difficulties and hardships which Xavier had to encounter at this time, sometimes on account of the cruel persecutions which some of the petty kings of the country carried on against the neophytes, and again because the Portuguese soldiers, far from seconding the work of the saint, retarded it by their bad example and vicious habits.
In the spring of 1545 Xavier started for Malacca. He laboured there for the last months of that year, and although he reaped an abundant spiritual harvest, he was not able to root out certain abuses, and was conscious that many sinners had resisted his efforts to bring them back to God. About January, 1546, Xavier left Malacca and went to Molucca Islands, where the Portuguese had some settlements, and for a year and a half he preached the Gospel to the inhabitants of Amboyna, Ternate, Baranura, and other lesser islands which it has been difficult to identify. It is claimed by some that during this expedition he landed on the island of Mindanao, and for this reason St. Francis Xavier has been called the first Apostle of the Philippines. But although this statement is made by some writers of the seventeenth century, and in the Bull of canonization issued in 1623, it is said that he preached the Gospel in Mindanao, up to the present time it has not been proved absolutely that St. Francis Xavier ever landed in the Philippines.
By July, 1547, he was again in Malacca. Here he met a Japanese called Anger (Han-Sir), from whom he obtained much information about Japan. His zeal was at once aroused by the idea of introducing Christanity into Japan, but for the time being the affairs of the Society demanded his presence at goa, whither he went, taking Anger with him. During the six years that Xavier had been working among the infidels, other Jesuit missionaries had arrived at Goa, sent from Europe by St. Ignatius; moreover some who had been born in the country had been received into the Society. In 1548 Xavier sent these missionaries to the principal centres of India, where he had established missions, so that the work might be preserved and continued. He also established a novitiate and house of studies, and having received into the Society Father Cosme de Torres, a spanish priest whom he had met in the Maluccas, he started with him and Brother Juan Fernandez for Japan towards the end of June, 1549. The Japanese Anger, who had been baptized at Goa and given the name of Pablo de Santa Fe, accompanied them.
They landed at the city of Kagoshima in Japan, 15 Aug., 1549. The entire first year was devoted to learning the Japanese language and translating into Japanese, with the help of Pablo de Santa Fe, the principal articles of faith and short treatises which were to be employed in preaching and catechizing. When he was able to express himself, Xavier began preaching and made some converts, but these aroused the ill will of the bonzes, who had him banished from the city. Leaving Kagoshima about August, 1550, he penetrated to the centre of Japan, and preached the Gospel in some of the cities of southern Japan. Towards the end of that year he reached Meaco, then the principal city of Japan, but he was unable to make any headway here because of the dissensions the rending the country. He retraced his steps to the centre of Japan, and during 1551 preached in some important cities, forming the nucleus of several Christian communities, which in time increased with extraordinary rapidity.
After working about two years and a half in Japan he left this mission in charge of Father Cosme de Torres and Brother Juan Fernandez, and returned to Goa, arriving there at the beginning of 1552. Here domestic troubles awaited him. Certain disagreements between the superior who had been left in charge of the missions, and the rector of the college, had to be adjusted. This, however, being arranged, Xavier turned his thoughts to China, and began to plan an expedition there. During his stay in Japan he had heard much of the Celestial Empire, and though he probably had not formed a proper estimate of his extent and greatness, he nevertheless understood how wide a field it afforded for the spread of the light of the Gospel. With the help of friends he arranged a commission or embassy the Sovereign of China, obtained from the Viceroy of India the appointment of ambassador, and in April, 1552, he left Goa. At Malacca the party encountered difficulties because the influential Portuguese disapproved of the expedition, but Xavier knew how to overcome this opposition, and in the autumn he arrived in a Portuguese vessel at the small island of Sancian near the coast of China. While planning the best means for reaching the mainland, he was taken ill, and as the movement of the vessel seemed to aggravate his condition, he was removed to the land, where a rude hut had been built to shelter him. In these wretched surroundings he breathed his last.
It is truly a matter of wonder that one man in the short space of ten years (6 May, 1542 - 2 December, 1552) could have visited so many countries, traversed so many seas, preached the Gospel to so many nations, and converted so many infidels. The incomparable apostolic zeal which animated him, and the stupendous miracles which God wrought through him, explain this marvel, which has no equal elsewhere. The list of the principal miracles may be found in the Bull of canonization. St. Francis Xavier is considered the greatest missionary since the time of the Apostles, and the zeal he displayed, the wonderful miracles he performed, and the great number of souls he brought to the light of true Faith, entitle him to this distinction. He was canonized with St. Ignatius in 1622, although on account of the death of Gregory XV, the Bull of canonization was not published until the following year.
The body of the saint is still enshrined at Goa in the church which formerly belonged to the Society. In 1614 by order of Claudius Acquaviva, General of the Society of Jesus, the right arm was severed at the elbow and conveyed to Rome, where the present altar was erected to receive it in the church of the Gesu.
Antonio Astrain (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Monday, December 2, 2019

From the innocent

A society that needs healing and regeneration will receive it mostly
from the innocent.
The pure can look on the impure without contempt.
It was Divine Innocence Who asked of a sinful woman:
Where are they who accused you?” (John 8:10)

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Chromatius of Aquileia

Chromatius was brought up in the city of Aquileia, at the head of the Adriatic Sea. In all likelihood, he was probably born here as well. His father died when he was young, and he lived with his widowed mother, older brother and unmarried sisters. His mother had the good opinion of St. Jerome, which the saint expressed in a letter to her in 374. His brother also became a bishop.

After his ordination, Chromatius took part in the synod against Arianism in 381. Later, as bishop, he rooted Arianism out of his diocese.

He baptized the monk, theologian, and historian, Rufinus in his early manhood.

On the death of St. Valerian in 388, Chromatius was elected bishop of Aquileia, and became one of the most distinguished prelates of his time.

Situated at one of the busiest crossroads of the Roman Empire, Aquileia was a major center of trade and commerce. Under Chromatius' care, guidance and influence it also became renowned as a center of learning and orthodoxy.

He kept up an extensive correspondence with both Sts. Ambrose and Jerome and also with Rufinus.  A scholarly theologian himself, Chromatius encouraged the Bishop of Milan to write exegetical works, and St. Jerome in his own writings. He helped St. Heliodorus of Altino to finance St. Jerome’s translation of the Bible.  It was also owing to Chromatius’ encouragement that Rufinus undertook the translation of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History and other works.

He acted as mediator in a dispute that arose between St. Jerome and Rufinus concerning the writings of Origen. He also wrote to Emperor Honorius in defense of St. John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, over his troubles with the bishop of Alexandria and the Empress Aelia Eudoxia, who resented Chrysostom’s denouncements of extravagance. Though Honorius wrote to his brother Emperor Arcadius in Constantinople, the intervention had no effect.

Chromatius was also an active exegete. Seventeen of his treatises on St. Matthew’s Gospel survive, as well as a fine homily on the Eight Beatitudes. Chromatius died about the year 407.

Photo Credit: GFreihalter

Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Beautiful Season of Advent



Advent, beginning with the Sunday nearest to the feast of St. Andrew, November 30, is a season of preparation for the birth of Our Lord Jesus. Advent comprises four Sundays.
Just as Lent prepares us for the Passion of the Lord and Easter, Advent prepares us for the birth of the Lord, Christmas.
As opposed to Lent, which prepares our hearts focusing on the sufferings of Christ Jesus, Advent is a time of preparation that focuses on His birthday, the greatest ever. So although the liturgical season of Advent is still penitential in the sense of making our spirits ready, it carries a marked note of joy.
Any form of penitence or penance, which includes contrition, atonement and reparation, only has one purpose: to prepare the house (our hearts) for divine visitation. It’s what we call, “cleaning house”. We do it for any guest, and certainly for a divine Guest.
So the idea is to spiritually prepare for Christmas by a closer focusing on the marvelous mystery of the Nativity, by reading, meditation, prayer and the reception of the Sacraments: Confession and Holy Communion
The Custom of the Advent Wreath
A great way to make Advent visual, palpable, and to involve children, is to make an Advent Wreath, a European custom that has lately grown popular in the US. The wreath includes four candles, one for each Sunday of Advent. Three of the candles are purple, symbol of penitence, and one is pink, symbol of joy.
The wreath is a symbol of God, because a circle has no beginning and no end. The decorations attached to the wreath symbolize the joy of the divine birth and salvation that approaches.
For the first week of Advent, one purple candle is lit every day before the evening meal and an accompanying prayer said. The flame, symbol of Christ, the Light of the World, stays lit during the meal.
All these symbolisms should be explained to children, as symbols are visual signs that make an invisible reality easier to grasp, take in, and make their own.
For the second week of Advent, another purple candle is lit, and the same procedure followed.
For the Third week of Advent the pink candle is lit in sync with the liturgical Gaudete Sunday or “Sunday of Joy” a kind of “break” the Church takes from the penitential spirit, as Christmas draws near. The same procedure follows.
And for the Fourth week of Advent the fourth purple candle is lit, in a last penitential gesture as the great day becomes imminent. The same procedure is kept.
An Advent wreath can be made or bought at any Catholic book/devotionals store, or googled for several options. The wreath can be decorated in a thousand ways, as simply or as creatively as wished.  Only make sure the holders are safe and each candle is extinguished after the meal and prayers.


By Andrea F. Phillips
References: Catholic Online, Wikipedia
Photo: by Andrea F. Phillips

Something of a miracle

The world is so corrupt that it seems almost inevitable 
that religious hearts be soiled, if not by its mud, at least by its dust. 
It is something of a miracle for anyone to stand firm 
in the midst of this raging torrent and not be swept away... 
It is Mary, the singularly faithful Virgin over whom Satan had never
any power,
who works this miracle for those who truly love her. 


St. Louis de Montfort

St. Edmund Campion and Companions

Edmund Campion’s father was a bookseller in London. The future martyr was born around 1540, and at the age of fifteen was given a scholarship to St. John’s College, Oxford, where he was known for his intelligence and his sweet, yet fiery, disposition. Gifted with oratory, he was chosen to lead a public debate before Queen Elizabeth, and readily won her goodwill and patronage as well as that of the powerful William Cecil and the Earl of Leicester.

He had taken the oath of royal supremacy and was persuaded to receive the diaconate from the Anglican Church. But he had harbored doubts about the same Church, and his conscience disturbed, he left the country for Ireland in 1569 where he wrote a history of that country.

By 1571, he was a suspected person in England.  Reconciled to the Catholic Church in France, he was received into the Society of Jesus in Rome in 1573. As there was not as yet an English Province, he was assigned to the Austrian Province and entered the novitiate in Brunn, Moravia. For six years the young Englishman taught Rhetoric and Philosophy at the Jesuit College in Prague. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1578.

In 1580 he was chosen to accompany Fr. Robert Persons on a mission to England. As superior, Fr. Persons was to counterbalance Campion’s fervor and impetuosity. Surprised to be selected for this endeavor, Edmund expressed the fear that he lacked constitutional courage.

Campion arrived in England disguised as a jewel merchant and went right to work. In Lancashire he preached almost daily with conspicuous success. Pursued by spies and several times almost apprehended, he managed not only to make many converts, but also to write his “Ten Reasons” in which he challenged Protestants to openly debate religion with him. This treatise was printed in secret and widely distributed, causing quite a commotion.

Campion was betrayed while saying Mass at a house in Norfolk and was captured with two other priests in a hideout above the gateway. During his imprisonment in the Tower of London, Edmund was labeled, “Campion, the seditious Jesuit,” a title which did not deter the Queen herself from attempting to dissuade him from his convictions.

Twice, before his trial, he was racked. Notwithstanding his torments, Campion led his own defense as well as that of his companions. His fortitude and courage so touched the heart of Phillip Howard, the Earl of Arundel – another of the Queen’s favorites – that this nobleman made a full conversion and later received the crown of martyrdom. Prior to his sentence of death being read, Campion boldly addressed the court with this final challenge:

“In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors, all our ancient bishops and kings; all that was once the glory of England — the island of saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter.”

On December 1, a wet, muddy day, Frs. Campion, Ralph Sherwin and Alexander Briant were taken to the scaffold at Tyburn and there were executed with the usual barbarities. As he was being hung, drawn and quartered, some of Campion’s blood splattered on one of those present at his execution. The onlooker's name was Henry Walpole. He too became a Jesuit and was canonized with Campion as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

States in life and sanctity

Our Lord has created persons for all states in life, and
in all of them we see people who achieved sanctity
by fulfilling their obligations well.

St. Anthony Maria Claret

St. Andrew the Apostle

   “O most beautiful Cross that was glorified by carrying the Body of Christ! Glorious Cross, sweetly desired, ardently loved, always sought, and finally prepared for my heart that has so long awaited you. Take me, O Cross! Embrace me. Release me from my life among men. Bring me quickly and diligently to the Master. Through you He will receive me, He, Who through you has saved me.”

Thus did the Apostle Andrew salute the cross upon which he was to die. For two days he hung upon it and never ceased preaching to the crowds that gathered round him. Who was Andrew? And how had he come to embrace so willingly – no, more, to long for – this universal symbol of infamy?

Andrew was an elder brother of Simon Peter and both plied their trade of fishermen on the tempestuous Sea of Galilee. Sons of Jonas, they lived in the fishing village of Bethsaida, a town much frequented by Our Lord during His public ministry. Andrew had become an early disciple of St. John the Baptist and it was while listening to him preach on the banks of the River Jordan one day that John’s words set him on a course he was to follow for the rest of his life. “Behold the Lamb of God,” proclaimed the Baptist on seeing Our Lord approach. Immediately, Andrew and another disciple followed Him.

The words of this beautiful prayer attributed to the Apostle Andrew upon meeting his cross show that he had known for a long time that he would be a martyr. He had meditated on it in relation to the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He entirely understood and loved the hour of his supreme suffering. He completely accepted the chalice God had prepared for him to drink.

The cross was a symbol of punishment and was reserved for criminals. But for Andrew, it was a “most beautiful” thing because it had been “glorified by carrying the body of Christ.”

Then, he added that he had “sweetly desired it.” With this, one understands that for years he had prepared himself to offer this disinterested holocaust: to be killed for the love of Our Lord, to allow himself to be consumed and spent like the perfume that Mary Magdalene spilt to honor Our Lord. There was no practical goal in those acts of homage. They were sacrifices made for no other reason than to please God: to expend precious things to manifest love for Him. Even if his sacrifice would not produce a good for souls and a humiliation for the enemies of the Church, Andrew wanted do die a martyr to prove how much he loved Our Lord. This is why he said he had “sweetly desired” to be crucified. The words express the splendor of the soul of a martyr.
The Apostle continued by saying that he had “ardently awaited” the cross. Today men flee far from any kind of suffering, any kind of fight against their own passions, any kind of renunciation. For them to live is to enjoy a good life. Andrew, however, ardently awaited his own cross because he understood that what counts in life is not the pleasure he has, but the sacrifice he makes. This is what gives meaning to life. Therefore, the truly supernatural man is a friend of the cross, as St. Louis Marie de Montfort said so well.

Andrew not only accepted the crosses given him during his life, but he looked for them. This is clear when he said that he had “always sought” sacrifice. Then, in the hour of his martyrdom he had that marvelous reaction – he said that his “heart had long awaited” the crucifixion. Which one of us can say a thing like that? What a sublime courage Andrew had in saying these words, which, however, came to his lips naturally and with complete serenity because he had always lived in preparation for that.

Our Lord said that there is no greater friend than one who would give his life for the other. No one can give a greater proof of friendship with Our Lord than to desire the cross like this Apostle did.

He continued: “Take me, O Cross! Embrace me. Release me from my life among men. Bring me quickly and diligently to the Master. Through you He will receive me, He, Who through you has saved me.” Can any soul be more prepared for the beatific vision than one who would make this prayer at the hour of his death?

After his crucifixion, Andrew remained two days hanging on the cross before dying. While he was on the cross he was teaching the people who came to watch him die. How priceless that teaching was! What "cathedra" could ever be more sublime to teach people from? These were his last words:

Lord, eternal King of glory, receive me hanging from the wood of this sweet cross. Thou who art my God, whom I have seen, do not permit them to loosen me from the cross. Do this for me, O Lord, for I know the virtue of Thy Holy Cross.”

Friday, November 29, 2019

They don't go away by themselves

Problems do not go away.
They must be worked through or else they
remain
forever a barrier to the growth and
development of the spirit.


Dr. Scott Peck M.D.

St. Radbod, Bishop of Utrecht, Confessor

This holy prelate was, by his father, of noble French extraction; and, by his mother, Radbod, the last king or prince of the Frisons was his great grandfather, whose name was given him by his mother.
The first tincture of learning and piety he received under the tuition of Gunther, bishop of Cologne, his uncle by the mother: his education was completed in the courts of the emperors Charles the Bald, and his son Louis the Stammerer, to which he repaired not to aspire after honors, but to perfect himself in the sciences, which were taught there by the ablest masters.
The hymns and office of St. Martin, an eclogue on St. Lebwin, a hymn on St. Swidbert, and some other pious poems which are extant, are monuments of his piety and application to polite literature, as it was then cultivated: but the sacred duties principally employed him.
In a short chronicle which he compiled, he says upon the year 900; “I Radbod, a sinner, have been assumed, though unworthy, into the company of the ministers of the church of Utrecht; with whom I pray that I may attain to eternal life.” Before the end of that year he was unanimously chosen bishop of that church; but opposed his election, understanding how much more difficult and dangerous it is to command than to obey. The obstacles which his humility and apprehensions raised, being at length removed, he put on the monastic habit, his most holy predecessors having been monks, because the church of Utrecht had been founded by priests of the monastic Order. After he had received the episcopal consecration, he never tasted any flesh meat, often fasted two or three days together, and allowed himself only the coarsest and most insipid fare. His charity to the poor was excessive. By a persecution raised by obstinate sinners he was obliged to leave Utrecht; and died happily at Daventer, on the 29th of November in 918.
See his life written by one in the same century in Mabillon, sæc. 5. Ben. et Annal. Ben. t. 3. l. 40. § 26. Usuard, Molanus, Miræus, Becka, etc.
Lives of the Saints, by Fr. Alban Butler, Volume XI: November, p. 580.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Give Thanks and be Happy


Thanksgiving Article Header
 By M. Taylor

He stood in the road, a note of sadness in his simple, yet majestic demeanor, as He watched the ten men disappear in the distance.  Presently, a shape detached from the hazy group, and hurried back to thank the divine power that healed him of the dreaded leprosy.  “Were not ten made clean?” Jesus asked, “Where are the other nine?” (Luke, 17:17)
Indeed, gratitude is a virtue that our human nature often leaves by the wayside. I don’t know if we so much mean to be ungrateful, as that we easily take for granted what is given us, and so, forget the source–especially in a moment of joy. At times we can also have unrealistic expectations and thus fail to recognize the gift.
So, for a country to have made the giving of thanks a national holiday, and thus, so to speak, institutionalized gratitude, is indeed a great thing, and excellent thing, a thing that can’t fail to please God, the giver of all good things.
While many countries have some form of thanksgiving on their national calendars, Thanksgiving Day is primarily celebrated in the United States and Canada.
In Canada, the origin of the celebration has roots in English harvest festivals and, actually, precedes the origin of the American feast.
First ThanksgivingIn the US, Thanksgiving dates back to the first colonists in Plymouth, M.A. in 1621, who organized a feast in thanks for a good harvest.
After that first gathering, religious and civil leaders offered various forms of thanksgiving through the years, but it was George Washington, while president of the United States, who proclaimed the first nation-wide Thanksgiving-Day on November 26, 1789.
He established the holiday “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”
An attitude of gratitude moves the heart of God, as it moves the heart of anyone who is the object of sincere thanks.
Indeed, who knows but that the many and great blessings of our country are derived from that first attitude of grateful prayer of our first president?
In his marvelous little book, The Way of Trust and Love, Fr. Jacques Philippe, contemporary spiritual master, calls the virtue of gratitude “one of the secrets of the spiritual life that is also one of the laws of happiness.” 1
Expounding on the mysterious Gospel passage, “for to him who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away (Matt. 13:12),” Fr. Philippe elucidates that if we recognize and are grateful for all the good things we have received in life, we will receive even more. But if we choose to camp out in the barren land of resentment and discontent, we will receive less and less. 
This is a law written into nature. Indeed, a life lived with trust and gratitude shines, even in difficult moments. A life steeped in bitterness and resentment is miserable even amidst the greatest ease.
St. Paul invites us to “Give thanks in all circumstances …” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  He also adds with force, “And be thankful!” (Colossians 3:15)
In the sight of God we are all lepers, our souls filled with sinful sores. As a nation, despite our great qualities, and our brave generosity, we have sinned grossly and continue to do so. Suffice it to mention the holocaust of abortion.
Yet God Our Lord makes His magnificent sun rise on us each day, and warms our lives, and grows our food and shines on our journey, ever inviting us back to Him.
So this Thanksgiving, as we carve that juicy turkey, and enjoy that velvety pumpkin pie, may America and Americans resolve to be the leper that not only comes to Him for forgiveness and healing, but who does not forget to return and thank–always.
  

 References:
Douay Rheims Bible OnlineWikipedia1 The Way of Trust and Love by Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 112Painting: Jennie Brownscombe - 1914 The First Thanksgiving 

Morality and freedom

Everyone is free to deny morality. 
No one is free to escape the effects of its violations.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Catherine Labouré

Catherine was born Zoé Labouré on May 2, 1806, the ninth of eleven children born to a farm family in Fain-les-Moutiers, France. When only eight years old, her mother died and Catherine was made responsible for the running the house and helping her father. Although she would remain illiterate her whole life, she was allowed to enter the convent of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul on the Rue du Bac in the French capital when she was twenty-two and took the name Catherine upon her profession.

Late on the night of July 18, 1830, Catherine was awakened by the vision of a young child who led her to the convent chapel. Arriving there, she found the Blessed Virgin awaiting her. Our Lady spoke to Catherine for more than two hours and revealed to her that God wished to charge her with a particular mission.

On November 27 of that same year, Our Lady appeared to her a second time in the chapel. She held a globe in her hands upon which the word France was written. Our Lady told Catherine that it represented the entire world, but that she had a special desire to help France in particular. Then the vision changed and Sister Catherine saw Our Lady standing on a globe crushing the serpent under her foot, with rays of light streaming from her hands. These words surrounded the vision: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” The vision changed again and another image appeared of a cross surmounted by a capital M, and below it, two hearts, one thorn-crowned and the other pierced with a sword. The Virgin then spoke and instructed Catherine to have a medal made in replication of what she had seen and promised special graces to those who wore it.

Catherine told only her confessor about these visions. Though he was doubtful at first, he soon came to believe. He and the Archbishop of Paris were the only ones who ever knew that she was the sister who received the revelations – not even the Mother Superior of her convent knew – and with their help the first medals were forged and distributed in 1832. Soon many miracles were being attributed to them, and it took only a few years for their fame to spread throughout Europe.

Sister Catherine was transferred to the convent of Enghien-Reuilly and lived there for over 40 years, unknown, carrying out the humble functions of a gate-keeper, head of the poultry yard, and caring for the aged in the convent’s hospice. Only eight months before her death did she receive permission from her confessor to reveal to her Superior, Mother Dufès, that she was the one who had received the apparitions of Our Lady. She died on December 31, 1876. Soon after her funeral, miracles began being attributed to her intercession; and when her body was exhumed in 1933 it was found completely fresh and supple. She was canonized by Pope St. Pius XII on July 27, 1947.
Second Photo by: Mbzt

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Documented Miracles Attributed to the Miraculous Medal

Header - Miracles of the Miraculous MedalFrom America, Europe and Asia

The United States:

Texas (1841)
From a letter written by Bishop Odin, Vicar Apostolic of Texas:
April 11, 1841
Once I had the occasion to see, in the town of Nacogdoches, how much Mary Immaculate deigns to hear those who place all their confidence in her. A lady from Maryland was given a Miraculous Medal by her confessor as she departed from her home state to go to live in Texas. As he gave it to her, he recommended she always pray: “O Mary conceived without sin, etc.” and told her that this good Mother would not permit her to die without receiving the sacraments.
She was faithful to his advice. Having been bedridden for four years, many times her friends thought her last moment had come. However, her confidence in Mary Immaculate always made her hope she would have the joy of receiving the sacraments before departing this life. As soon as she heard of our arrival, she immediately sent us a message. She received the Holy Viaticum and Extreme Unction and died some days later full of gratitude to her Heavenly benefactress.

Louisiana (1865)
In the hospital of the Daughters of Charity in New Orleans, a nun tried to instruct a Protestant in the truths of the Faith and to dispose him to receive Baptism. However, he did not want to speak about the subject.
Miracles of the MM - image 1One day she showed him a Miraculous Medal and explained its origin to him. He seemed to pay attention, but when she offered it to him, he became annoyed and snapped angrily: “Take that away, this Virgin is just an ordinary woman.” “I will leave it on the table,” the nun replied, “I am certain that you will think about what I said.” He did not answer her, but, in order not to see the medal, he placed his bible on top of it.
Every day the nun, with the pretext of cleaning the table, made sure the medal was still there. Days passed and the sickness became increasingly worse.
One night when he was suffering acutely, he saw a marvelous light around his bed, while the rest of the room was in total darkness. Surprised, he struggled to get up in spite of his frailty and turned up the flame in the gas lamp to see if he could discover what this strange light was. He could find nothing and returned to his bed.
Moments later he noticed that the light came from the medal. He then took it into his hands and kept it there the rest of the night. As soon as the nun’s rising bell rang at 4 o’clock in the morning, he called the nurse and asked him to tell the nun that he wanted to be baptized.
They advised the chaplain immediately who exclaimed “That is impossible!” He had spoken with the sick man many times and knew how he felt about the matter.
Nonetheless, he went to him and found him perfectly disposed and receptive to him. He baptized him and gave him the sacraments, and a little while later the sick man died, praising God and the Holy Virgin for the graces he had received.

New York (1866)
A girl, some twenty years old, came to the hospital covered with the most repugnant scabs which the doctors had said were incurable. The nun, who cared for her wounds, one day told her that the Most Holy Virgin had the power to cure her and that, if she wanted to wear the medal and ask for a cure, she would obtain it. Knowing the doctors had given up, she answered roughly: “I do not believe in your Holy Virgin, nor do I want a medal.” “Very well then,” the nun answered, “in that case, keep your wounds.”
Some days later, she asked for the medal and placed it around her neck, and prepared to be baptized. Shortly thereafter she left the hospital in perfect health to the great astonishment of the doctors who had been unanimous in considering her sickness incurable.


Europe:

France (1834)
Father Bégin, an eyewitness to this cure that took place in Saint-Maur where he was chaplain, wrote a report in which he attested to the following facts:
a) that the sick person was gravely ill;
b) that she was cured on March 14, 1834; and
c) that she declared that she only used the medal and prayer.
One hundred witnesses from the nursing home signed this document.
The bishop of Châlons also added his signature to the document:
“We certify that the testimony of Father Bégin should be taken as wholly trustworthy, as well as that of the nuns and so many others who were eye witnesses and spoke according to their consciences without any other interest except that of stating the truth. Châlons, May 30, 1834 + M.S.F.V., Bishop of Châlons.”

Miracles of the MM - image 2Mrs. C.H., a 70-year-old widow, had been admitted in impoverished circumstances to the nursing home of Saint-Maur because of a bad fall that occurred on August 7, 1833. She walked with great difficulty and even with the help of a crutch needed someone’s arm for support. She also found it hard to sit and only with great difficulty was she able to rise again. It was almost impossible for her to climb stairs, as she had to hold on to whatever she could to do so. She could not bend down or kneel, and had to drag her left leg, as that was where the problem lay.
At the beginning of January, 1834, she was told of a medal that was reported to be miraculous. Described as having, on one side, Mary crushing the infernal serpent and on the reverse of the medal were depicted the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and the letter “M” with a cross on top, she also heard of marvelous things that had happened to those who wore it with confidence.
From that moment she felt her heart enkindled with the consoling hope of finding some relief that the wearing of this medal promised to her, and she could not wait for the moment she would receive one. Finally, on March 6, she received the much longed-for medal as a gift from Heaven. She then went to confession in order to dispose herself to receive the favor she desired.
The following day, the first Friday of the month, after receiving Holy Communion, she started a novena to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. She venerated the medal, which she wore around her neck, twenty times a day. In a short while, she obtained a happy answer to her requests. After only seven days of the novena, she felt free from the painful infirmities she had suffered so cruelly for seven months.
We cannot describe the surprise and admiration of everyone on the morning of March 14th upon seeing this woman walk about unaided when the previous evening she had been crippled. She was able to bend down, kneel, go up and down stairs. Everyone cried out: “Miracle!” and was greatly edified by such a prodigious cure. They congratulated her on such a great grace from God and Mary Most Holy.
The Mother Superior, who had taken care of her innumerable times since she had been taken ill and daily witnessed her sufferings, wanted a Te Deum to be sung by the whole community in the house chapel to celebrate solemnly this extraordinary grace. The sick lady remained cured and no longer felt the effects of her former infirmity.

Italy (1836)
Testimony of a parish priest of Bologna on February 8, 1836.
There was a young man in my parish, 27 years of age, who lived a dissolute life. In order to have fewer impediments to his excesses, he had left the family home. Sometime later he became gravely ill with pneumonia. Dr. Giovanni Pulioli, a distinguished doctor, treated him; but the illness was stronger than the medicine of the day.
The youth was left in a lamentable state, unable to move. By then he was living scandalously with a woman and had declared, from the beginning of the illness, that he would not consent to a priest being called.
My chaplain went to visit him and exhorted him to put an end to the scandal through marriage; but he failed to convince the young man. I went there and spoke with him about legitimizing the union, rather than breaking it up; but I found him to be in a state of complete religious indifferentism.
Miracles of the MM - image 3Despite my every effort to persuade him, I also failed. I then thought it better to allow him to reflect a little while and to return another day to find out his decision. In the meantime, I asked him to have recourse to the Most Holy Virgin, refuge of sinners; and, without telling him, I placed a Miraculous Medal in his pillow and departed.
I did not need to return to the house of my own accord; the sick youth himself called me through his mother with whom he had already reconciled himself. He told me that he had reasons, which were justified, for not speaking personally with the woman with whom he had been living, and requested I ask her to leave. The unfortunate woman condescended and left.
Once I had accomplished this, I told the sick youth how happy I was. When I presented the medal to him, he began to kiss it with feelings of sincere gratitude, even though the state of his health was extremely grave. He then showed signs of sincere repentance and confessed his sins, received the Holy Viaticum and Extreme Unction, because we expected him to die at any moment. This took place on January 19, 1836.
The young man felt the greatest tranquility, which he attributed to the Most Holy Virgin. From then on he started to feel better and had totally recuperated within a few days. He still perseveres in his good resolutions and is full of love for his Heavenly benefactress whose medal he keeps as something precious, frequently kissing it with great devotion.
I myself witnessed this fact and I write not only with the young man’s approval, but at his request, so that it may serve for the greater glory of God that, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, this miracle took place. To this written testimony I have appended the medical report proving the sickness and the cure.

Belgium (1836)
Miracles of the MM - image 4On November 9, 1835, Rosalie Ducas from Jauchelette, near Jodoigne, suddenly lost her sight. She was only four and a half years old, in perfect health with no signs of illness. Any light or breeze disturbed her to the point of having to cover her face with a cloth folded in four. The pains the child suffered day and night caused everyone much grief.
At this point, a pious person brought a blessed Miraculous Medal. The mother took it and started a novena. She put another medal around the girl’s neck on June 11, 1836 at about 6 o’clock in the evening. By midnight the girl had stopped complaining. On the fourth and fifth day of the novena, her eyes opened. The parents redoubled their supplications to the Most Holy Virgin. On the ninth day in the afternoon, the girl regained her sight completely to the great surprise of the neighbors and all those who witnessed the event.
The parish priest of Jodoigne-la-Soveraine, who had given the medal to the family, went to see the girl who lived only a mile and a half away, and testified that she had recovered her sight completely. No pain whatsoever was left. These facts are known by everyone and attest to the honor we owe to the Virgin Mary.

Asia:

China (1838)
Father Perboyre told the next story on August 10, 1839. It is interesting to mention that this missionary was taken prisoner one month later out of hatred for religion. He confessed the Faith generously for a whole year amidst horrible tortures and then had the joy of receiving the martyr’s palm on September 11, 1840.
While I was on mission in the Christian community of Honan in November 1837, the Christians there presented a woman to me who had been suffering from mental confusion for eight months. They added that she ardently desired to make her confession to me even though she was incapable of doing so and implored me not to deny her this consolation that she had so much at heart.
Her unfortunate state really made the exercise of my ministry appear futile. But I heard her confession out of compassion and as she departed I gave her a Miraculous Medal so she would be under the protection of the Virgin. She did not understand the value of this holy remedy, but she soon recognized its virtue as she started to get better.
Her progress was such that she was another person after four or five days. Her mental confusion, her worries that had caused her mortal anguish—in which I had noticed a diabolical influence—gave way to common sense, tranquility and happiness.

Macau (1841)
Letter from a missionary in Macau dated August 25, 1841.
A widow who had been brought up as a pagan had only one son. One day she saw him come under the power of the devil, in other words, possessed. Everyone fled from him as he wandered through the fields making fearful cries. If someone dared to grab him, the boy would immediately throw the person to the ground.
The poor mother was full of pain and sorrow, but Divine Providence had pity on this unfortunate family. One day the boy was more tormented than ever, not knowing where he went and brutally repelling all who drew near. In his wanderings he came upon a Christian, who, animated by a lively faith and seeing that the devil tyrannically mistreated the unfortunate boy, told those who were close by to leave. He said that only he was able to calm him down, hold him and return him to his mother. This manner of speaking surprised the pagans. They warned him of the danger, but let him get on with it.
Miracles of the MM - image 5This Christian carried a Miraculous Medal and took it into his hand. Drawing near to the possessed boy, he showed it to him, ordering the devil to leave him alone and depart, which happened immediately. The boy, seeing the Christian with the medal, threw himself to the ground before this image without knowing what it was. The pagans, who had watched him from afar, were astounded.
The Christian then said to him that he should rise and follow him. In this manner he brought him to his mother’s house. As soon as the boy saw her he said: “Do not cry, I am free. The devil left as soon as he saw this medal.”
Imagine the joy of the mother upon hearing these words. She did not know whether or not she was dreaming. The Christian certified the truth of what the boy was saying and told her what had happened. He added that her son would be free forever as long as he renounced the idols and became a Christian. The boy sincerely promised to do so and both of them began removing the false gods from a sort of altar where they were kept.


Conclusion:
I hope these marvelous stories may also help you, dear reader!
The Miraculous Medal continues to multiply its prodigies even today. We know of countless other impressive stories of conversions, graces of moral regeneration, cures of attachment to vices, and infallible protection against the action of the devil. There are innumerable accounts of cures and relief procured in every kind of illness, as well as assistance to expectant mothers and of astounding protection against assault, robbery, kidnapping, accidents and other dangers. And who can count those who have found employment and resolved financial difficulties by means of this devotion? Even in our days, so lacking in true Faith, the facts that take place never cease to surprise and edify us.
MM imageWhen she revealed the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady clearly promised that “everyone who wears it, when it is blessed, will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around their neck.” She did not put restrictive conditions; she said “everyone.” And then completed the phrase with: “The graces will be abundant to those who use it with confidence.”
We all need great graces, especially in these difficult and critical times. Let us turn to the Virgin Mother of God in all our needs and concerns, and ask her with a childlike confidence to answer our prayers.
Dear reader, are you not also in need of a particular grace? Or maybe someone in your family is in need of one, or one of your friends? It was for people like you that the Virgin, the best of all mothers, in her unfathomable mercy, gave the Miraculous Medal.




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