Saturday, March 28, 2020

The unlimited power of prayer

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

St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Tutilo

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 27, 2020

Courage

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

St. Bernadette Soubirous

St. John of Egypt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Keep it simple

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

St. Jane Frances de Chantal

St. Braulio of Zaragoza

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to make an Act of Perfect Contrition


How to Make an Act of Perfect Contrition

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Solemnity of the Annunciation, March 25th

Header - The Angelus, Honoring the Incarnation Year Round

On March 25th, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Annunciation: an important moment for us to pause to recall what suddenly happened in the history of mankind, so that man could be changed profoundly and saved. In order to honor the Annunciation all throughout the year, the Church has given the faithful the Angelus prayer, the name of which is derived from the first word of its Latin form. To say it is to replay the drama of the Annunciation once more, placing it vividly before our eyes and within our hearts.

The AnnunciationThe Angelus
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, etc...
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to Your Word.
Hail Mary, etc...
V. And the Word was made flesh,
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary, etc...
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech You, O Lord,
Your Grace into our hearts;
that as we have known the incarnation of Christ,
your Son by the message of an angel,
so by His passion and cross
we may be brought to the glory of His Resurrection.
Through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.


Medieval custom of triple Hail Mary in the evening
The Angelus as we know it sprung organically from an even more ancient tradition. The practice of reciting the Hail Mary three times in a row dates at least to the 12th century, and Saint Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) strongly recommended it. This devout practice was a great favorite also of Saint Mechtilde of Helfta (1241-1298) in her Revelations. Saint Bonaventure, in a Chapter of the Order of the Friars Minor in 1269, proposed they recite three Hail Mary's in the evening after Compline, meditating on the mystery of Christ's Incarnation, urging at the same time that the recitation be preceded always by the ringing of a bell so that the brothers and all the faithful nearby would know that it was time for the triple Hail Mary.

The morning Angelus
Stopping work to pray the AngelusShortly after the recital of the three Hail Mary’s at evening had become familiar, a custom established itself of ringing a bell in the morning and of saying the Ave thrice. It was the town bell which was rung in this case, for the preservation of peace, whence it was called "the peace bell." The same designation was also applied elsewhere to the evening bell.
In a culture in which the activities of the Church and those of her children were intertwined, it seems probable enough that this morning bell was also an imitation of the monastic triple peal for the morning prayers. The morning Angelus soon became a familiar custom in all the countries of Europe and was almost as generally observed as that of the evening.

The Angelus Today
In most Franciscan and contemplative monasteries, the Angelus continues to be prayed three times a day. In the United States and Canada, some Catholic radio stations run by laity broadcast the Angelus daily.
In Ireland, the Angelus is currently broadcast every night at 6:00 pm on the main national TV channel, RTÉ One, and on the broadcaster's sister radio station, Radio 1, at noon and 6:00 pm. RTÉ Audience Research finds that a clear majority of Irish viewers still favors keeping the Angelus broadcasts, chimes and all. Its appeal is summarized by one audience member as follows, "To the person of faith, it's a moment of grace; to the person without faith, it's a moment of peace. What's not to like?"
In the Philippines, radio and television stations run by the Catholic Church and some religious orders broadcast the Angelus at 6:00 am, noon, and 6:00 pm. The devotion is also broadcast over the public address system at noon and 6:00 pm in some shopping malls, and in many Catholic educational institutions mostly at noon on schooldays (some only ring bells at 6:00 pm).
Could there be a connection between these two countries continuing to honor the moment when “the Word became Flesh” and the fact that unborn children still find protection in the laws of both Ireland and the Philippines?

Incorporate the Angelus into Your Day
The Angelus should be recited three times a day: as early in the morning as possible (at 6:00 a.m., or upon awakening), again at noon, and once more at 6:00 p.m. It may be said privately, of course, but whenever recited with others, one person leads it by saying aloud the verses and the first half of the Hail Mary—that is, until “blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” The others make the responses and say the second part of the Hail Mary;—then all join in to say the closing prayer. (see below)
It is common practice that during the recital of the Angelus prayer, for the lines "And the Word was made flesh/And dwelt among us," those reciting the prayer bow or genuflect. Either of these actions draws attention to the moment of the Incarnation of Christ into human flesh.
Jesus loved us enough to die for us so that we might live with Him eternally! When we pray the Angelus with humility and love, we are emulating Mary’s faith in His goodness. We are blessed in that we can ask both God and His Blessed Mother for their assistance on our journey towards Eternal Life!



A MEDITATION

It is 3:00 on the afternoon of March twenty-fifth; it is a Friday. Taking on the appearance of a man, the Archangel Gabriel, whose name means Strength of God, leaves heaven for earth; he has a divine proposal to deliver—and a reply to receive.
His destination? A certain little house on a quiet street in the tiny Galilean town of Nazareth, for there she lives, whose coming God has anticipated from all eternity. She has ravished the Heart of God with her love for Him and her humility before Him, and in her we find the only perfect source of consolation that God has reserved for Him-self on earth-the only perfect refuge of comfort He has allowed Himself. Having remained faultless of any offence against God—never by one thought, word or deed did she fail to measure up to the supreme and consummate perfection of a creature conformed to the Will of God—her purity and sinlessness is beyond utterance. Her vocation was so select and sublime and divine that He created her soul free from Original Sin, the sin of Adam.
Thus at this moment her glorious title is that of the Immaculate Conception—but, kneeling in prayer, she is soon to be offered another…
“And the angel being come in, said unto her: ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women…Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a Son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus.’
The Virgin of virgins asks, “How shall this be done, because I know not man?”
“And the angel answering said to her: ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.’
Having thus made known to her His desire-and only after receiving her sweet and meek consent:
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
R. Be it done to me according to thy word.”—did God effect an event greater than that of the creation of the universe and the dawn of time. For within the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived a God-Man—the Savior of the human race.
V. And the Word was made flesh,
R. And dwelt among us.
Lo! Eternity and time have met, the Word has been made flesh! The Lord has become Our Lord—Jesus Christ. This holiest of names, Jesus, means Savior, Christ means the Anointed One; and now indeed the Redemption of the world is at hand. Oh, can we not feel the very trembling of the angels? It is the Incarnation that has finally come to pass! Although 2,017 years old, It is a Beauty ever new. Jesus said: “Abraham rejoiced that he might see My day;”—even the holy ones of the Old Law may now rest, satiated—”he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56) Emmanuel—God—is with us, and He shall not be taken away.
Now may we say:
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.



Benefits of prayer

Virtues are formed by prayer.
Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger.
Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy.
Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Ghost,
and raises man to Heaven.

St. Ephrem the Syrian

St. Lucy Filippini

Lucy was born in 1672 in Tarquinia in Tuscany. Orphaned early in life, she was raised by her aristocratic aunt and uncle.

Her early inclination to piety was strengthened by a great seriousness of purpose and her remarkable gifts attracted the attention of the Cardinal-Bishop of the diocese, Marcantonio Barbarigo, who persuaded the young lady to take advantage of an institute for training teachers in Montefiasconi. Lucy excelled in the institute and won all hearts by her modesty and charity, her intense conviction of spiritual things, her common sense and her courage.

At the teachers' institute, Lucy met Blessed Rose Venerini, whose educational experience Cardinal Barbarigo had likewise recruited. In Montefiascone the two holy women trained schoolmistresses and co-founded the Maestre Pie or the Pious Matrons. Together they trained girls in the art of running a good home, weaving, embroidery, reading and Christian doctrine. Their work prospered. Both shared a tremendous gift for effective communication.

In 1707, at the express desire of Pope Clement XI, Lucy went to Rome and founded the first school of the Maestre Pie. The school flourished and children flocked to it from all over the region. Though only able to remain in Rome for six months, when Lucy left the Eternal City she was known as the “Maestra Santa”, the Holy School Mistress.

Unfortunately, the task sapped Lucy’s strength and she became seriously ill in 1726. Though she had good medical care, she never quite regained her health and died a most holy death on March 25, 1732, the day she had predicted.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Annunciation and Saint Gabriel


Header - Reflection on St Gabriel and the Annunciation

This is a reflection on Saint Gabriel and the Annunciation. It discusses both since the feast of Saint Gabriel the Archangel is on March 24th, the vigil of the Annunciation.

Statues on a Church
A comment on a passage taken from Saint Luke:

And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee". Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought to herself what manner of salutation this might be. And the angel said to her: "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God."
"Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end."


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And Mary said to the angel: "How shall this be done, because I know not man?"
And the angel answering, said to her: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
"And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God."
And Mary said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her."
As far as I can recall, the only thing we know of Saint Gabriel, the Archangel is found in this episode. He was sent by God to deliver this magnificent message to Our Lady. We can have some idea of what this archangel is like by looking at the nature of the task he was given.
There is a correlation between the angel and his virtue on the one hand, and the mission he receives from God, on the other. Through one, we can make conjectures about the other.
Thus, what was the message that Saint Gabriel, which means "the strength of God," took to Our Lady? It is a message that affirms the Incarnation of the Word and therefore the greatest act of power and domination that God could exercise upon the world.
Fra Angelico - Annunciation ImageWith the Incarnation of the Word, God was preparing to rescue the world. In doing this, He, who is king of the world by right, also became king by conquest.
Thus, He – the second Person of the Blessed Trinity – entered the earth to conquer on the cross, in this special way, He established His kingship upon the world.
"Behold the king has come! He is going to reign!"
Saint Gabriel must be seen, therefore, as announcing the victorious entry of Our Lord Jesus Christ into humanity. He was like a herald that goes before a victorious king overcoming all obstacles in his way and announcing: "Behold the king has come! He is going to reign!" This is a first view that we have of this archangel.
Another view we must have is that of the devotee of Mary par excellence. He was the one who made the first Hail Mary; he was the one who gave Our Lady a message that revealed to her who she was. For up until that moment, according to all the interpretations I have read, she did not know she was to become the Mother of God.
She prayed for the Messias to come soon to the earth and also that she might become the servant of His Mother so as to render her some small services. That was her great ambition.
When Gabriel the Archangel came and announced that she herself was going to be the Mother of the Messias, he made her, so to speak, understand who she was. His message explained to her why she had continuously received an immense river of graces throughout her life. She understood the depth of the sanctity for which she was called. The angel's announcement made her comprehend her own mission.
Hence, when he made this revelation to Mary, he rendered Her this outstanding service, which was an act of supreme nobility ordered by God. As a result, this act established a very special bond between Saint Gabriel and Our Lady. In this sense, he was a kind of prophet who manifested to Our Lady what her whole life would be like and what her mission would be. Thus, another aspect of this archangel's personality is a great union with Our Lady and a great devotion to her.
 
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Finally, we can consider another side, which is the manner in which he gave his message. It was impregnated with a great purity. No message is more chaste than this one, which announced the virginal maternity. It showed such a love for purity on the part of God, that, in order to safeguard Our Lady's virginal chastity, He decided on a way to conceive Our Lord Jesus Christ that involved no work of man: She would be the Spouse of the Holy Ghost.
St GabrielIn the Annunciation, the archangel is particularly protective of her purity and chastity.  If we were to see him, he would inspire in us a thousand desires and acts of admiration and longing to possess purity to a eminent degree.
From this, we can draw some applications for the prayers we can still address to him today. Saint Gabriel announced the coming and triumph of the Messias to Our Lady and thus to all men. We should ask that he now announce the recovery of God's effective kingship upon the earth through the coming of the fulfillment of the Fatima message.
Today we are in a situation that is even worse than that of the ancient world before Our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we can ask that Our Lord Jesus Christ reign once again, that He establish His reign on earth in Mary and through Mary, and that this period of darkness in which we find ourselves come to an end. He has done one thing, let Him do the other.
He had the key to do it to close the era of antiquity, and thus opened a new epoch.  Let Him close this era and open the Reign of Mary.
Second: we should ask Saint Gabriel for an enormous, superabundant devotion to Our Lady and that this devotion grows every instant until the end of our lives.
Third: we should ask him for a most ardent, intransigent, vigilant and therefore most militant love of purity; and to have every form of revulsion and disdain for impurity in every way and degree.  This is what we should ask him.  May he thus protect us and bring us closer to Our Lady.


The above text was taken from an informal lecture given by Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision. –Ed.

What brings us to Heaven?

Contradictions bring us to the foot of the Cross,
 and the Cross, to the gate of Heaven.


St. John Vianney

St. Gabriel the Archangel: “Strength of God”

Detail of the painting by Blessed Fra Angelico of the Archangel Gabriel.
Detail of the painting by Blessed Fra Angelico of the Archangel Gabriel.

“Fortitudo Dei”, one of the three archangels mentioned in the Bible. Only four appearances of Gabriel are recorded:
  • In Dan., viii, he explains the vision of the horned ram as portending the destruction of the Persian Empire by the Macedonian Alexander the Great, after whose death the kingdom will be divided up among his generals, from one of whom will spring Antiochus Epiphanes.
  • In chapter ix, after Daniel had prayed for Israel, we read that “the man Gabriel . . . . flying swiftly touched me” and he communicated to him the mysterious prophecy of the “seventy weeks” of years which should elapse before the coming of Christ. In chapter x, it is not clear whether the angel is Gabriel or not, but at any rate we may apply to him the marvelous description in verses 5 and 6.
  • In the New Testament he foretells to Zachary the birth of the Precursor, and
  • to Mary that of the Savior.
Thus he is throughout the angel of the Incarnation and of Consolation, and so in Christian tradition Gabriel is ever the angel of mercy while Michael is rather the angel of judgment. At the same time, even in the Bible, Gabriel is, in accordance with his name, the angel of the Power of God, and it is worthwhile noting the frequency with which such words as “great”, “might”, “power”, and “strength” occur in the passages referred to above. The Jews indeed seem to have dwelt particularly upon this feature in Gabriel’s character, and he is regarded by them as the angel of judgment, while Michael is called the angel of mercy. Thus they attribute to Gabriel the destruction of Sodom and of the host of Sennacherib, though they also regard him as the angel who buried Moses, and as the man deputed to mark the figure Tau on the foreheads of the elect (Ezech., 4). In later Jewish literature the names of angels were considered to have a peculiar efficacy, and the British Museum possesses some magic bowls inscribed with Hebrew, Aramaic, and Syriac incantations in which the names of Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel occur. These bowls were found at Hillah, the site of Babylon, and constitute an interesting relic of the Jewish captivity. In apocryphal Christian literature the same names occur, cf. Enoch, ix, and the Apocalypse of the Blessed Virgin.


As remarked above, Gabriel is mentioned only twice in the New Testament, but it is not unreasonable to suppose with Christian tradition that it is he who appeared to St. Joseph and to the shepherds, and also that it was he who “strengthened” Our Lord in the garden (cf. the Hymn for Lauds on 24 March). Gabriel is generally termed only an archangel, but the expression used by St. Raphael, “I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tob., xii, 15) and St. Gabriel’s own words, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God” (Luke 1, 19), have led some to think that these angels must belong to the highest rank; but this is generally explained as referring to their rank as the highest of God’s messengers, and not as placing them among the Seraphim and Cherubim (cf. St. Thomas, I, Q. cxii, a.3; III, Q. xxx, a.2, ad 4um).

St. Irenaeus of Sirmium

Sirmium, then the capital of Pannonia, is in present-day Serbia. Apart from his position as bishop, Irenaeus seems to have been a man of local importance. Arrested during the terrible persecution of Diocletian, Irenaeus was brought before the governor, and commanded to offer sacrifice to the gods. At his refusal, he was stretched on the rack, but did not relent. His mother, wife (at that time the laws of celibacy were different) and children hung about his neck begging him to save himself and not to abandon them.

Steeling himself against their entreaties, the holy prelate maintained silence, and was again imprisoned, willingly submitting himself to the cruelty of the torments by which the pagans hoped to shake him. Publicly interrogated a second time – once more without effect – Bishop Irenaeus was sentenced to death by drowning for disobedience to the imperial edict.

At his protest that death by drowning was unworthy of a confessor of Christ, he begged to face the cruelest torments. He was finally beheaded.

Monday, March 23, 2020

How do we touch the most responsive chord in the Sacred Heart of Christ?

When we appeal to the throne of grace
we do so through Mary,
honoring God by honoring His Mother,
imitating Him by exalting her,
touching the most responsive chord in the Sacred Heart of Christ
with the sweet name of Mary.

St. Robert Bellarmine

St. Toribio of Mogrovejo

Born in Mayorga de Campos near Valladolid of a noble Spanish family, and named for the fifth-century saint, Turibius of Astorga, Toribio did not intend to be a priest though his family was notably religious. For his professional career he chose the law in the practice of which he shone. As professor of law at the University of Salamanca, he attracted the attention of King Phillip II who appointed him General Inquisitor.

As the seat for the Archbishopric of Lima in Peru, became vacant, the king turned to Judge Toribio de Mogrovejo as the only man with enough strength of character to rein in the scandals in the colony. Shocked at the prospect, he prayed, and in writing to the king pleaded his own incapacity and other canonical impediments, among them the canon forbidding laymen from being promoted to such dignities. Finally, compelled by obedience, Toribio accepted the charge. After a suitable time of preparation, he was ordained to the priesthood, consecrated bishop, and immediately nominated for the Archdiocese of Lima. He was forty-three years of age.

Arriving in the Peruvian capital in 1581, he soon took in the arduous nature of the task thrust upon him by Divine Providence. The attitude of the Spanish conquerors toward the natives was abusive, and the clergy were often the most notorious offenders.

His first initiative was to restore ecclesiastical discipline, proving himself inflexible in regard to clerical scandals. Without respect to persons or rank, Toribio reproved vice and injustice and championed the cause of the natives. He succeeded in eradicating some of the worst abuses, and founded many churches, convents and hospitals as well as the first seminary in the New World.

Learning the local dialects, he traveled throughout his enormous diocese (170,000 sq. miles), often on foot and alone, traversing the difficult Andes, facing all sorts of obstacles from nature and men. He baptized and confirmed half a million souls including St. Rose of Lima, St. Martin de Porres and St. John Massias.

From 1590 onwards he had the great help of another zealous missionary, St. Francis Solano.

Years before he died, he had predicted his own death. In Pacasmayo he contracted fever but labored to the very end. Dragging himself to the sanctuary in Sana, he received Holy Viaticum and died soon after on March 23, as those around him sang the psalm, “I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord".

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The key to Heaven


Holiness without suffering is just a dream.

The Cross is the key to Heaven.

St. Magdalena of Canossa

St. Nicholas Owen

Perhaps no single person did more for the preservation of the Catholic Faith when its practice was forbidden in England than Nicholas Owen.

A “diminutive man” according to one report, and called “Little John” on that account, Nicholas Owen was possibly a builder by trade. He worked for eighteen years with the clandestine Jesuit missionaries Fathers Henry Garnet and John Gerard and built expertly concealed hiding places for priests and Catholic fugitives.

In an age of license, Nicholas led a singularly innocent life, untainted by the allurements of the world. His confessor affirms that he preserved his baptismal innocence unto death.

Every time Nicholas was about to design a hiding place, he began the work by receiving the Holy Eucharist, accompanied the project by continuous prayer and offered the completion of the work to God alone. No wonder his hiding places were nearly impossible to discover.

After working in this fashion for some years, he was received into the Society of Jesus by Father Garnet as one of England’s first lay brothers. For reasons of concealment, his association with the Jesuits was kept a secret.

He was arrested with Father John Gerard on St. George’s day in 1584. Despite terrible torture, he never revealed the least information about the whereabouts of other Catholics. He was released on a ransom paid by a Catholic gentleman, as his services in contriving hiding places were indispensable.

The unique and successful escape of Father Gerard from the Tower of London was most certainly planned by Owen, although the escape itself was carried out by two others.

Finally, on January 27, 1606, after a faithful service of twenty years, Nicholas Owen fell once more into the hands of his enemies. Closely pursued by government officials, he and three other Jesuits successfully avoided detection for eight days, hidden in a couple of priest holes at Hindlip Hall in Worcester- shire. Concealed in the two small cramped spaces in which they could neither stand upright nor stretch their legs, they received nourishment through small drinking straws hidden in the building’s own structure. Attempting to protect the two priests by drawing attention to himself, Owen left his hiding place first. His fellow lay brother was arrested with him as soon as he emerged from hiding; Fathers Garnet and Oldcorne were seized soon after.

His enemies exulted when they realized they finally had their hands on the great builder of hiding places. Father Gerard wrote of him: "I verily think no man can be said to have done more good of all those who labored in the English vineyard. He was the immediate occasion of saving the lives of many hundreds of persons, both ecclesiastical and secular.”

Brother Nicholas was hung upon a wall; during “interrogation” periods, iron gauntlets were fastened about his wrists from which he hung for hours on end, day after day. When this torture proved insufficient to make him talk, weights were added to his feet. Finally, the pressure caused his entrails to burst forth, causing his death. He revealed nothing.
First Photo by: Quodvultdeus
 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

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.

Friday, March 20, 2020

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.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

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.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

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?


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!



WOC Devotional Set Banner

Three reasons to work

The first end I propose in our daily work is
to do the will of God;
secondly, to do it in the manner He wills it; and
thirdly to do it because it is His will.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Though Cyril’s birthplace is unknown, he was certainly brought up in Jerusalem. His parents, very probably Christians, gave him an excellent education.

St. Jerome relates that Cyril was ordained to the priesthood by St. Maximus, the Bishop of Jerusalem, who thought so highly of Cyril's teaching that he was charged with the important duty of instructing the catechumens. Nineteen of these catechetical discourses, delivered without a book, have come down to us. These are invaluable as an exposition of the teaching and ritual of the Church in the fourth century.

Upon the death of St. Maximus, Cyril was elected to his episcopal see. Not long after his consecration as Bishop of Jerusalem, however, misunderstandings arose between Cyril and Bishop Acacius because of the latter’s leanings to Arianism – a heresy that denied the divinity of Christ. He was summoned before a council convened by Acacius but refused to appear. Accused of rebellion, and of distributing Church goods to the poor – which he justifiably did – Cyril entered a crucible of suffering through persecution.

His life as bishop was plagued with charges by the Arians and consequent exiles by Arian-supporting emperors. Sixteen of the thirty-five years of his episcopate were spent in exile. With the accession of Emperor Theodosius he was recalled and ruled undisturbed for the last eight years of his life.

Cyril participated in the great Council of Constantinople, when the Nicene Creed was promulgated in its amended form. He is thought to have died in 386 around the age of seventy. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1882.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer

St Patrick's Breast-Plate
The beautiful prayer of St. Patrick, popularly known as "St. Patrick's Breastplate", is supposedto have been composed by him in 433 A.D. in preparation for his victory over Paganism.

St Patrick's Breastplate Card St Patrick's Day Card 1 St Patricks Day Card 2
Click on above cards to print


The following is a literal translation from the old Irish text:

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
 Shamrock/Clover
I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself todayGod's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
Shamrock/Clover 
I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me todayAgainst every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
Shamrock/Clover




How much does Our Lady love us?

Our Lady of Mercy!
It is thus that the faithful people call upon Our Lady when they contemplate her seated
with the divine corpse of her Son on her lap.
Mercy, because her whole being is nothing but compassion:
compassion for her Son, and compassion for her children, because she has not only one son.
His Mother became the Mother of all men, and she has compassion
not only on her Son, but also on her children.
She sees our pains, our sufferings and our struggles. She smiles upon us in danger;
she weeps with us in sorrow. She relieves our sadness and sanctifies our joy.
Proper to the heart of a mother is the intimate participation in everything that stirs the hearts of her children.
Our Lady is our Mother.
She loves each of us individually even the most miserable and sinful  much more
than the combined love of all the mothers of the world.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

St. Patrick of Ireland


Patrick of Irish fame was born in Kilpatrick, Scotland in 387 to Christian parents of means and position. At the age of sixteen Patrick was abducted and sold into slavery. In Ireland he worked as a shepherd in the service of the chieftain Milchu of Dalriada, who was also a Druid high priest. Alone with the sheep, young Patrick developed a deep prayer life. Referring to this period of his life in his “Confessio” he writes: “… and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused …”

Patrick became acquainted with the Celtic language, and with the ways of the Druids, a knowledge that was to be crucial to his effectiveness in ridding Ireland of pagan Druidism.

Led by an angel, after six years Patrick fled captivity, walked 200 miles to the sea and boarded a ship, ultimately returning to his people.  They begged him to remain, but Patrick felt the call to dedicate his life to God. He spent time in the monastery of St. Martin de Tours and on the island sanctuary of Lérins and was ordained a priest by his mentor, the great St. Germain.

But the “voices” of Ireland called out to Patrick to return. Commended to Pope St. Celestine by St. Germain, Patrick received the commission to bring the green isle into the fold of Christ.

Returning to Ireland, Patrick proceeded to win over the pagan chieftains, druids and ultimately the king by his daring, meekness, miracles and inspired teaching. The tradition of a three-leafed shamrock originated in  the fact that he held the shamrock up before the Irish chieftains as he explained the doctrine of the Holy Trinity of three divine Persons in one God.

Before the apostle’s faith, ardent fervor and miracles, druid magic melted away and druid strongholds succumbed. As Patrick and his companions announced the glad tidings of Redemption, Ireland was cloaked in the green mantle of new hope and faith.

After wrestling with paganism, Patrick wrestled with God in prayer and penance, obtaining from Him great blessings for Ireland and was granted to be the judge of Ireland on the Last Day. Before his death, he was also granted a vision in which he saw the light of the Catholic faith shining in Ireland for many centuries, then dimming to the point of only prevailing in certain areas, then growing and glowing again.

Patrick died on March 17 having spent forty years in preaching the Gospel in Ireland.
First Photo by: Andreas F. Borchert
Shamrock Emblem by: Setanta Saki

Monday, March 16, 2020

Only the first step is painful

On the Way of the Cross, you see, my children,
only the first step is painful.
Our greatest cross is the fear of crosses …
We have not the courage to carry our cross, and we are very much mistaken;
for, whatever we do,
the cross holds us tight  we cannot escape from it.
What, then, have we to lose?
Why not love our crosses, and
make use of them to take us to heaven?

St. John Vianney

St. Abraham Kidunaia

Abraham was born near Edessa in Mesopotamia, in present-day Iraq, into an extremely wealthy family. Though he preferred the celibate life, his parents chose a bride for him but on the seventh day of the customary festivities preceding the marriage, Abraham disappeared.

After searching for seventeen days the family found the fugitive groom in the desert, leading a life of intense prayer. Oblivious to threats and entreaties, he built a cell and walled himself in with only an orifice through which food could be passed. After his parents’ death, Abraham commissioned a friend to distribute his wealth among the poor.

As people began to flock to Abraham for council and guidance, the Bishop of Edessa ordained him a priest against his humble protests. He then asked him to leave his hermitage to preach to the nearby colony of Beth-Kiduna, a seat of idolaters who had resisted every attempt at evangelization.

Reluctant but obedient, the hermit settled in Beth-Kiduna where he built a church and, after earnest prayer, set out to destroy pagan altars and topple idols. Needless to say, the infuriated villagers beat him and expelled him from their midst. In the morning he was back praying in his church and from there went out to harangue the people urging them to give up their superstitions and abominations. This time he was stoned and left for dead, but recovering, again returned and bearing insults, isolation and mistreatment, he persevered.

After three years, the inhabitants of Beth-Kiduna realized that there was something to this man’s meekness and patience, and began to listen to him.  After baptizing and confirming the many converts in the region, Abraham passed his apostolic work onto another and returned to the desert where he lived for many years until his death at the age of seventy.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The reason for confidence and trust

Our Lord showed even greater evidence of His love
in the conversion of sinners
than in the continuation of His graces to the just.
This is seen in the case of the Samaritan woman where
everything He said and did was a manifestation of love.
This should lead me to place
great confidence and trust in His goodness,
knowing that He will grant me His holy love at the end.
However, I must work for this and listen to His Word.

St. Louise de Marillac

St. Louise de Marillac

Louise was the daughter of Louis de Marillac, the Lord of Ferrières, a French nobleman. She never knew her mother who died shortly after her birth. Ordinarily there is something wanting in a child not brought up in a mother’s care; in Louise, however, this privation in her own childhood made her better understand the love necessary for the little motherless beings that she would one day snatch from death. She was raised partially by her father and partially by her aunt, for whom she was named, a Dominican religious at Poissy.

Intelligent, ardent and pious, she first wished to become a religious but at twenty-two, under her confessor’s advice, she accepted marriage to Antoine Le Gras, a young secretary to Queen Marie de Medicis. The couple was happily married in February of 1613 and had an only son, Michel.

In 1619, Mlle. Le Gras came to know Francis de Sales who was to provide her with great support and consolation in her future trials. Around 1621, Antoine contracted a chronic illness, believed to have been a form of tuberculosis, and eventually became bedridden. Troubled by the thought that she had rejected an early call to the religious life, Louise took a vow in 1623 never to remarry should her husband die before her. Antoine’s illness did, in fact, accompany him to his deathbed and he died on December 21, 1625.

Francis de Sales, the Bishop of Geneva, had introduced her to the spiritual director of his religious of the Visitation in Paris, Monsieur Vincent de Paul. Under his cautious and prudent direction after her husband’s death, Louise gradually became involved in Monsieur Vincent’s works of charity in the French capital. These charitable works were funded by wealthy and pious aristocratic ladies; however, Monsieur Vincent and Mlle. Le Gras both saw the need for a more formalized organization of charity. In 1633 Louise invited four young women into her home where she began to train them to serve the poor and the infirm. “Love the poor and honor them as you would honor Christ Himself,” she instructed them. The small group practiced in local hospitals where they were soon in demand. This first nucleus developed into the religious institute of the Daughters of Charity which received official approval in 1655.

Louise, who had struggled with ill health all her life, led the Daughters of Charity until her death on March 15, 1660, a mere six months before the death of her beloved mentor, Monsieur Vincent. She was sixty-eight, and left more than forty houses of charity throughout France. The order was to spread throughout the world, her spiritual daughters universally recognized by their “winged” white headdress.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Your actions speak

Actions speak louder than words.
Let your words teach
and your actions speak.

St. Anthony of Padua

St. Leobinus of Chartres

Lubin’s parents were peasants from the region of Poitiers in France. As a young boy, Lubin had an aptitude for learning and applied to a monastery where he was employed in menial tasks. His work occupied him the entire day, and he was obliged to do most of his studying at night, screening his candle as best he could. The monks complained that the light disturbed their slumbers, but by much humility and perseverance Lubin advanced in knowledge.

He eventually joined the monastery and, probably at the suggestion of St. Carilef, for a time lived as a hermit under the guidance of St. Avitus. Later, after some misadventures, he settled in an abbey near Lyons, remaining for five years.

In a war between the Franks and the Burgundians this monastery was raided and all the monks fled with the exception of Lubin and an old monk. The enemy, unable to extort from Lubin the location of the monastery’s "treasure", tortured him by first strangling him with a rope and then by tying his feet and dipping him, head first, into the river. Left for dead, he recovered, and was received in the monastery of Le Perche.

Bishop Aetherius of Chartres nominated Lubin the Abbot of Brou and had him ordained to the priesthood. His responsibility as abbot weighed so heavily upon him that he begged – although in vain – to be relieved of it. Instead, upon the death of the bishop, he was elevated and consecrated in his place. He brought about various reforms and became renowned for his miracles. Lubin participated in the Fifth Council of Orleans and in the Second Council of Paris, and died on March 14, about the year 558, after a long illness.
Photo by: Chatsam

Friday, March 13, 2020

How mothers prepare us for heaven

Someone who in the first stages of life
experienced the joy of having a good mother
understands that life on earth can be very difficult,
but as long as he remembers his mother,
he will retain the paradisiacal remembrance of his infancy.
And retaining this remembrance, the person
maintains hope in the Celestial Paradise.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

St. Euphrasia

Euphrasia’s father, Antigonus, was a kinsman of the Emperor Theodosius I, and her mother, also named Euphrasia, was of an equally exalted station.

Both parents were as virtuous as they were socially privileged and wealthy. When Antigonus died a year after Euphrasia’s birth, the emperor took the widow and child under his protection. At five years of age, Euphrasia was promised in marriage by Emperor Theodosius to the son of a wealthy senator.

When the young widow herself began to be sought in marriage, she took her child and moved to Egypt to live near a monastery of nuns known for their holiness and austerity.  At age seven, feeling drawn to religious life, the little girl begged to be allowed to join the religious. Delighted, the mother cautiously allowed her a time in the monastery, but realizing that her daughter, despite her youth, was in dead earnest, the widow entrusted her child to the motherly care of the abbess. Soon after, feeling herself close to death, Euphrasia counseled her daughter: "Fear God, honor your sisters, and serve them with humility. Never think of what you have been, nor say to yourself that you are of royal extraction. Be humble and poor on earth, that you may be rich in heaven.”

And, in fact, young Euphrasia edified her sisters by her astounding meekness and humility. Once, being tempted by all the things and honors she had left, her superior had her move a great pile of stones, at which task she persevered for thirty days, conquering her temptation.
Upon the death of her mother, and Euphrasia having reached a marriageable age, the emperor pressed his claim requesting her return to court. But she sent him the following reply written in her own hand: “Invincible emperor, having consecrated myself to Christ in perpetual chastity, I cannot be false to my engagement, and marry a mortal man, who will shortly be the food of worms. For the sake of my parents, be pleased to distribute their estates among the poor, the orphans, and the church. Set all my slaves at liberty, and discharge my vassals and servants, giving them whatever is their due. Order my father’s stewards to acquit my farmers of all they owe since his death that I may serve God without let or hindrance, and may stand before him without the solicitude of temporal affairs. Pray for me, you and your empress, that I may be made worthy to serve Christ.” The emperor shed many tears upon reading Euphrasia’s reply, as did those senators who were present. Overcome, one of them exclaimed in admiration: “She is the worthy daughter of Antigonus and Euphrasia, of your royal blood, and the holy off-spring of a virtuous stock.” Shortly before his own death in 395, the emperor fulfilled all as she had desired.

Euphrasia died at age thirty and was favored with the gift of miracles before her death.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

How do we love God?

It is certain that the love of God
does not consist in
this sweetness and tenderness which we for the most part desire;
but rather in serving Him
in justice, fortitude, and humility.
His Majesty seeks and loves courageous souls.

St. Teresa of Avila