As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. (Sg:2:2:)
How mighty are God’s works! The word went forth that the human race should be redeemed by the Son of God made man. He was to come unto His own, and His own were to be made ready for His coming. And great was the preparation: the whole world was in peace; the whole Roman world was enrolled, Mary was conceived Immaculate. And this last was the greatest wonder of all!
Adam’s sin betrayed as it were the whole human race to Satan. It handed over to him the vast dominion of this world. Every child of Adam came under Satan’s ban. So much his was every soul, that to belong again to God it had to be repurchased at an infinite price.
Every child but one — Mary, daughter of Joachim and Anna: Mary who was to be Mother of God. She was, through the merits of her Son, without stain from the first moment of her existence. God by a meek maid conquered the rebellious spirit who thought to be as the Most High, and crushed with Mary’s heel the serpent’s head. She was the sole triumph of the four thousand years before her birth and of the two thousand years that followed. Never again shall we see an Immaculate One upon the earth.
If we could only understand what sin is, how we should rejoice in our Lady’s Immaculate Conception. Immaculate, without stain, or spot, or blemish. We are so dull and have grown so callous to sin and its horrors that we almost take it as a matter of course. But indeed sin is not a matter of course, even for the weakest of us. It is one of the devil’s lies to make men believe that sinning is necessary, unavoidable, a part of the present system. Sin is terrible, horrible; disfiguring the soul in this world and torturing it in the next. It is the whole evil of the world, the source of all suffering and misery. And it can be resisted, can be overcome. As a powerful engine makes its way over a rough sea and against a strong wind, so can our will, fortified with grace, overcome the world, the devil, and the flesh. That there are shipwrecks, partial or total, and millions of them, does not take away the possibility of a safe transit.
But why talk of sin today, of all days in the year, when we are celebrating Mary’s spotlessness? Let us rather turn our weary eyes away from that evil to which we are akin and lift them up to rest on Mary. And it is a rest. If there were a spot on earth where we could truly say, “Here no sorrow can come!” how would people flock to that spot.
But there is no such place. Still there is Mary! Hers is a soul where perfect peace and holy joy dwell undisturbed. She was foreshadowed in the Old Testament under the most beautiful types: the dove that could find no spot clean enough for a resting-place; the many-colored rainbow, reaching from heaven to earth and ratifying God’s promise to man; the fiery bush, burning but unconsumed; the majestic cloud of flame that led the Israelites into the Promised Land; Aaron’s rod with its pure white blossom; the Ark of the Covenant, God’s home on earth; Gideon’s fleece, exempt from the common lot; “the garden enclosed” of the Canticle — these and many more were faint symbols of Mary’s soul.
And this beautiful one, God’s Mother, is my Mother too, given to me to be my own. What shall I do to please her? How shall I make much of her? The sight of her radiant beauty turns my thoughts to my own soul, and a sense of shame comes over me. I see there blemishes, imperfections, evil tendencies. Well! let me take them to my Mother and say with the humble saints: “Behold the fruits of my garden.” And Mary will look down with love, and with the tender hand of a Mother will help me to uproot the evil, overcome the bad, and strengthen the good. But perhaps her awful purity keeps me back; I shudder to present before her sinless eyes the sight of my wounded soul. That must not be. Purity never makes the heart hard: the most innocent are the most compassionate. She has never repulsed a sinner because of his frailty.
“Coming to Mary” perhaps sounds vague. It means turning the eyes of one’s soul towards Mary, the Mother of God, and saying to her in the depth of one’s heart some vocal prayer, or, better still, some half-uttered, half-thought-out petition. It means babbling out to the vision in one’s mind one’s troubles, one’s cares, one’s sins, and asking with a firm, strong faith for relief and help. We shall see no beautiful face, no doubt, hear no sweet voice, nor feel a healing touch. But we shall rise from our prayer purified, strengthened, and consoled.
The Manual of the Holy Catholic Church
James J. McGovern
On the 8th of December, 1854, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, our own Pius IX., in the presence of the vast concourse of Catholic Bishops who thronged the Basilica of St. Peter, solemnly defined the Immaculate Conception of Mary to be an article of faith:
“In honor of the most Holy and Undivided Trinity, for the glory and ornament of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith and the spread of the Christian religion, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own, we pronounce and define, that the doctrine, which maintains that the most blessed Virgin Mary, in the first moment of her conception, was, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in regard of the merits of Christ Jesus, the Saviour of the human race, preserved free from the stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and is, therefore, to be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful.”
The Star often embroidered on the right shoulder of the Virgin’s mantle or in front of her veil refers to the most expressive of her many titles, Stella Maris, “Star of the Sea,” an interpretation of her Jewish name Miriam. Several pictures are called La Madonna della Stella. She is also Stella Matutina, the “Morning Star”; Stella non Erratica, the “Fixed Star”; and Stella Jacobi, the “Star of Jacob.”
The Sun and the Moon. “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the morn, clear as the sun” (Solomon’s Song, vi. 10). This text is applied to the Virgin and she is also the woman of the Apocalypse, “A woman clothed with the sun, having the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Hence she is portrayed with the glory of the sun about her, and the crescent moon beneath her feet.
The Enclosed Garden is a symbol borrowed from the Song of Solomon (Cant. iv. 12) as well as a Fountain Sealed, a Well of Living Waters, the Tower of David, the Temple of Solomon, and the City of David.
The Porta Clausa or Closed Gate is taken from Ezekiel (xliv., 2).
The Lily, the Rose. “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys” (Cant. ii., i).
The Palm, the Cypress, and the Olive are all emblems of the Virgin. The first signifies victory, the second points to heaven, and the third denotes peace, abundance, and hope.
The Cedar of Lebanon (“exalted as a cedar in Lebanon”), because of its imperishable nature, its perfume, its healing qualities, and its great height, denotes also the virtue, greatness, and beauty of the Virgin.
The Sealed Book, as a symbol in the hands of the Virgin, refers to the text: “In that book were all my members written”; also to the “book that is sealed which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned” (Is. xxix., 11-12).
Besides these symbols, which are mystical and sacred and belong only to the Virgin, there are others of a more general nature that appear in pictures of the Madonna and Child.
The Globe, as the symbol of sovereignty, was early placed in the hands of the divine Infant. When it is under the feet of the Madonna with a serpent twining about it, it is the symbol of redemption.
The Apple, in the hands of the Infant Christ, symbolizes the fall of man; in the hands of the Virgin it indicates that she is the second Eve.
The Serpent is the general emblem of Satan and sin, but it is used in reference to the prophecy, “She shall bruise thy head,” when placed under the feet of the Madonna.
The Pomegranate, the ancient symbol of hope, is often placed in the hands of the Child, who is seen presenting it to His mother.
The Book, when the Madonna holds it open, or has a finger between the leaves, or when the Child is turning the pages, is the Book of Wisdom, and is supposed to be open at the seventh chapter. When clasped or sealed, as before explained, it is a mystical emblem of the Virgin herself.
Birds represent the soul. The Dove is the Holy Spirit hovering about the Virgin. The Seven Doves, typifying the gifts of the Spirit, when they surround the Virgin, characterize her as Mater Sapientia, “Mother of Wisdom.” Doves near her when she is working or reading in the Temple express the meekness and tenderness of her nature.
Certain women of the Old Testament are regarded as especial types of the Virgin, viz.: Eve, Rachel, Ruth, Abishag, Bathsheba, Judith, and Esther, and it is because of this that these Jewish heroines so often appear in religious pictures.
The correct and traditional dress of the Virgin is a blue robe or mantle worn over a close red tunic with long sleeves. In early pictures her head is veiled and the colors are pale and delicate. The enthroned Madonna unveiled was introduced about the end of the fifteenth century.
In the historical pictures she is simply dressed, but in the devotional pictures wherein she is portrayed as the Queen of Heaven, she wears a magnificent crown wrought with jewels interwoven with roses and lilies; her blue robe is richly embroidered with gold and gems, and lined with ermine or stuff of gorgeous colors, carrying out the text: “The king’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework” (Ps. xlv., 13-14).
In the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, the Virgin wears a white tunic, or white strewn with gold stars. In all subjects that relate to the passion and those that follow the crucifixion she should wear violet or grey. This rule is not always followed, however.
Sacred Symbols in Art
Elizabeth E. Goldsmith
I love them that love me: and they that in the morning early watch for me, shall find me. … He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord. (Prv:8:17,35)
“O lord, for I am thy servant; I am thy servant and the son of thy handmaid.” (Ps:116:16)
To reign such is the ambition of great souls, the stimulus of bold enterprises. But there are two ways of reigning. The first is that of tyrants, who govern with the sword and prevail by violence and wrong. Such a reign is of short duration and the memory of the tyrant is speedily buried in oblivion: “There memory hath perished with a noise.” (Ps:9:6) Others, on the contrary, choose charity for their scepter and humility for their throne. Such a scepter cannot be shattered, and a throne thus founded is never cast down; these are the throne and scepter of Jesus Christ, King of kings, Lord of lords, and Prince over the princes of the earth: “Christ reigns, Christ conquers, Christ commands.” The kingdom of Jesus Christ, founded under the shadow of the cross, strengthened by fierce persecutions, is forever extending: it knows neither ruin nor decay: “Thy kingdom is a kingdom of all ages.” (Ps:145:13)
Now, what is the basis of a kingdom so permanent, of a throne so unshaken? Strange to say, it is none other than the condition of a servant, freely chosen by Jesus Christ: “He took the form of a servant.” (Phil:2:7) Indeed, all that may be procured by ambition and pride is frail and perishable: on the other hand, self-abasement leads to an eternal kingdom, for it is written that “humility goeth before glory.” (Prv:15:33)
Mary reigns with her Son Jesus Christ, and her kingdom, like unto His, is a kingdom of imperishable glory, because hers is a throne of clemency, mercy and pardon: “Hail, holy Queen Mother of Mercy.” And what is the secret of this glorious royalty? None other, but the humble condition of a servant of the Lord: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” (Lk:1:38)
No sooner had the Blessed Virgin uttered these words, than she commenced her reign, for in that moment she became the Mother of our King: “And the Word was made flesh.” Mary’s sway over the world never diminishes: it ever goes on extending, until it embraces the entire universe.
Happy the servants of the Mother of God! Under the protection of a Queen so kind and powerful, they are not lacking in the necessaries of life; and as for the goods of the soul, they have them over and above, for “all her domestics are clothed with double garments.” (Prv:31:21)
A Christian who is covetous of true and lasting regal splendor, should imitate Mary and faithfully serve the Lord, for He will exalt him to the incomparable dignity of priest and king, according to the words of St. Peter: “You are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people: that you may declare His virtues, who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1Pt:2:9) But, in order worthily to serve the Lord, we must also learn how to serve Mary: in serving so great a Queen we shall naturally be led to serve God, wherein our greatest dignity consists. To serve Mary is therefore to reign: Servire Maria regnare est.
The reign of one who serves Mary is no tyranny, no reign of oppression and cruelty: it is rather a reign of charity and mercy, directed to alleviating the woes of those who are in affliction. It is a reign of peace, which repays injury by benefit: a reign of humility, which subjects the passions to the yoke of Christ: a splendid and glorious reign, worthy of the ambition of magnanimous minds, the foreshadowing of that eternal kingdom of bliss which is held out to us in heaven.
Oh, if only men knew what a happiness it is to serve Mary, they would contentedly lay aside their wish of ambition and earthly grandeur, and would consecrate themselves, with all the ardor of their souls, to the service of so glorious a Queen.
“Flower Of Paradise”
Considerations On The Litany of The Blessed Virgin Enriched with Examples of the Saints
Very Rev. ALEXIS M.LEPICIER, O.S.M.
If mosaics, priceless paintings and imposing statues are conspicuous in grand cathedrals, equally precious in God’s sight are humble wayside shrines. The tradition began in the earliest decades of the Catholic Church with the establishment of markers and small chapels to commemorate Christ. the Blessed Virgin Mary and the martyrs, often at the location of their faithful martyrdom.
Excerpt from “The Legends of The Blessed Virgin” 1853
They who have never visited the towns and villages of a Catholic country, cannot conceive the feeling of delight with which the pious traveler is affected at the sight of those monuments of piety and religious recollection, which, in the shape of crucifixes, images of the Blessed Virgin, and favorite saints, are placed at the angle of streets, in squares, and public places, on bridges, fountains, and obelisks, or between the stalls of a village market or fair. These works of popular art and devotion, formerly existed in great cities also, recalling to the passenger’s mind thoughts of the object and end of his earthly pilgrimage.
They also served a benevolent purpose, and exercised a civilizing influence over the passions of men. Many a pure spring would have been adulterated but for the presence of its presiding saint. Often has the revengeful spirit of an enemy been appeased, when on the point of immolating his victim, by the sight of a man-god suffering for all mankind. The poor soul of some betrayed girl plunged in deep despair and meditating self destruction passes on her way the figure of our Lady of Sorrows, and falling on her knees, obtains comfort and strength from the Mother of Holy Hope and sweet consolation. Again in ancient times cities were but badly lighted and towns not at all. Piety supplied this deficiency. Each statue or holy image had its little lantern which gave honor to the saint and light to the locality.
Some pretended philosophers may sneer at these objects of popular devotion. But have they ever considered the benefits of which they have been the source, the evils they have remedied, the griefs they have calmed and the crimes they have stayed?
Among the cities nearest our shores, Antwerp is one which has most fully preserved this mediaeval custom and contains innumerable pious souvenirs of the ages of faith. Paris was formerly equally distinguished.
“At the comer of every street,” writes the Abbé Orsini, “a little image of Mary rose from amidst a heap of flowers, which the pious people of the neighborhood renewed each morning as soon as the trumpets from the towers of Chatlet announced the break of day. During the night lamps burnt constantly before them illuminating their little grey niches and on Saturdays their number was greatly increased. This was the first attempt to light the streets. A poor illumination, perhaps, when compared to our modem gaslights, yet had it one great advantage over ours for to it was added a pious object, which excited the people to holy reflection.
The silver lights of the Madonna’s shrines shot forth at intervals like a string of stars from their flowery beds, and seemed to say to those who wandered abroad with ill intent, — “There watches over this city, wrapt in slumber, an eye that never closes, but which sees through all our hearts — the eye of God.”
The bells might be silent all over the world,
The toll of the Angelus never be heard;
Yet nature, the banner of Christ holds unfurl’d,
And her Mother is blessed by the “Angelus Bird.”
When traveling in the forests of Guinea and Paraguay it is not uncommon to meet with a bird whose music greatly resembles that of an Angelus bell when heard from a distance.
The Spaniards call this singular bird a bell ringer, though it may be still more appropriately designated as the Angelus bird, for, like the Angelus bell, it is heard three times a day, morning, noon, and night.
Its song, which defies all description, consists of sounds like the strokes of a bell, succeeding one another every two or three minutes, so clearly and in such a resonant manner, that the listener, if a stranger, imagines himself to be near a chapel or convent.
But it turns out that the forest is the chapel, and the bell a bird. The beauty of the Angelus bird is equal to his talent; he is as large as a jay, and as white as snow, besides being graceful in form and swift in motion. Whenever the Angelus bird begins to discourse his sweet music, the monkeys protest like evil spirits, and rend the air with their shrill chattering as they scamper up the trees to escape from the unwelcome sound.
THE ANGELUS BIRD
In the woods of Guinea there hovers a bird
Whose plumage is gorgeous and notes are sublime;
Thrice daily its carol is distinctly heard,
Like the sweet, solemn toll of the Angelus chime,
At morning it wakens the echoes around
With the ring of it magical, sacred notes;
At noon can be heard its thrice-uttered sound,
And at eve, tho the forest, its soft measure floats.
‘Tis the “Angelus Bird” of Paraguay s coast,
That chants the grand key of the holiest prayer;
Its altars, the forest- the day god, its host-
The heaven, its vault -what temple so fair!
‘Twould seem that when darkness o’ershadow’d the land
And the light of the Christian was yet to be seen,
That the God of Creation created this grand
Living bell, to intone the pure hymn o’er the scene!
From the moment ‘twas said that the Mother should be
“Hailed Blessed,” all over the earth, by the Word;
E’en the savage afar, by that Southern Sea,
Could hear her true praise in the “Angelus Bird.”
While temples were torn by iconoclast hands,
And the Faith of Redemption shone only in blood,
When the praise of the Virgin, in civilized lands,
Was hushed -it was heard in Paraguay s wood.
The bells might be silent all over the world,
The toll of the Angelus never be heard;
Yet nature, the banner of Christ holds unfurl’d,
And her Mother is blessed by the “Angelus Bird.“
Grant, Mother of God, that a lesson we take,
From this creature so strange, so truly sublime;
Let us honor the bird that such music can make,
May silence ne’er muffle its Angelus chime. Dr. J. K. Foran
THE APPARITIONS AND SHRINES OF HEAVEN S BRIGHT QUEEN
In Legend, Poetry and History
William J. Walsh
An almost divine power seemed to have inspired him as he portrayed the history of human suffering, and of the soul’s bright faith of a beautiful home above. Perhaps, as he toiled on, the portals of that home were open to his vision, and the voices of the blessed were stealing around him.
Hence the heavenly radiance which beams from the face, and lingers around the figure of our Holy Saviour. As Raphael eagerly painted and triumphantly gazed upon the realization of his wondrous conception, death snatched him away at the early age of thirty-seven.
Often had I read those touching lines of Rogers, wherein he describes the mournful scene when the dead body was placed beneath that last great painting, whose colors were yet moist from the artist’s brush. All Rome loved him, and Rome poured forth her noblest people to gaze upon the angelic face. The glory around the head of Christ seemed reflected upon the lifeless form. All wept.
“And when all beheld him where he lay, how changed from yesterday—him in that hour cut off, and at his head his last great work;
When, entering in, they looked.
Now on the dead, then on that masterpiece —
Now on his face, lifeless and colorless.
Then on those forms divine that lived and breathed. And would live on for ages—all were moved.
And sighs burst forth and loudest lamentations.” -Samuel Rogers
The intention of the painter is to produce a work, in which the calamities of life should lead the afflicted to look to Heaven for comfort and relief. In the upper part of the composition is Mount Tabor; the three apostles are lying on the ground, unable to bear the supernatural light proceeding from the divinity of Christ, who is floating in the air, accompanied by Moses and Elijah, as a personification of the power of the Lord and the source of Christian consolation.
Below is a representation of the sufferings of humanity: on one side are nine apostles; on the other a crowd of people are bringing to them a boy possessed of a devil. His limbs are fearfully convulsed, and every countenance wears an expression of terror. Two of the apostles point upwards to indicate the only Power by whom he can be cured.
“In the fury of the possessed, in the steady faith of the father, in the affliction of a beautiful and interesting female, and the compassion evinced by the apostles, he has depicted the most pathetic story he ever conceived.” (Luigi Lanzi, Italian art historian -1732-1810)
And yet even all this does not excite our admiration so much as the primary subject on the Mount. There the figures of the two prophets and the three disciples are truly admirable; but still more admirable is that of the Saviour, in which we seem to behold that effulgence of eternal glory, that spiritual lightness, that air of divinity, which will one day bless the eyes of the elect. In the head of the Saviour, on which he lavished all his powers of majesty and beauty, we see at once the last perfection of art and the last work of Raphael.
The Ave Maria
A Journal devoted to the Honor of the Blessed Virgin
“Never. It is such a comfort to me. I am always finding some new beauty in it. The thought came to me today that the rosary is very like our lives.”
“It is divided into three parts: Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries. Do they not correspond to youth, maturity and old age? In youth all things are bright and full of promise: here we have the Annunciation, the Visitation and the Nativity. The first foreboding of sorrow may be found in the Presentation—the prophecy of Simeon—and in losing the Holy Child on the return from Jerusalem; yet when He is found in the temple, the joy far outweighs the pain of loss. So it is in youth; trouble is short lived and is quickly forgotten when the cloud has passed away.”
“The Sorrowful mysteries correspond to the years of maturity, when the cares of life press heavily upon us. Who has not knelt in Gethsemane and cried, with our dear Lord: ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me!’ And how few of us have the grace to add: ‘Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.’ And how often are we scourged. First by our passions, which are so hard to conquer; by ill-health, by disagreeable companions or uncongenial surroundings. We have all to wear the thorny crown of adversity, when our best, our most prayerful efforts fail to stem the tide which has set in against us. Do we not all have a daily cross, whether some great sorrow or an accumulation of petty trifles it matters not. We struggle on more or less bravely and many times fall beneath its weight. Ah! If we but fasten our sins to the cross and offer our hearts to our crucified Saviour, we will not have lived through the Sorrowful mysteries in vain.”
“The last of the three are the Glorious mysteries. They correspond to old age. The soul that has lived down its passions, thrown off its sinful garment and risen above its human frailties, experiences the sublime grandeur of the Resurrection. Once free and untrammeled, the soul can ascend high enough to receive worthily the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Then may our souls, like the body of our Blessed Mother, be ‘assumed into heaven’ and then —“our crown.”
Extract from The Living Rosary
The Rosary Magazine, Volume 26
It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins
(2 Mac 12:46)
Devout Christian, do you wish for favors from God? Be very compassionate to the souls in purgatory. That charity which you have shown to them, God will show much more to you.
Be compassionate to them, not in heart only, but by works, and by every sort of suffrage; by prayers, alms according to your power, by mortifications and pious exercises; above all, by the application of holy indulgences, and by hearing Mass, or getting it celebrated in relief of these poor and much afflicted souls.
Endeavour, O Christian, to suffragate them with generosity of heart; and then in your own necessities, spiritual and temporal too, you will obtain of God, your kind Father, whatever you wish. If you do so, beloved brother, be sure that you will be amply rewarded’ in this life, and much more in the life to come. St. Catherine of Bologna, when she wished for any favors, had recourse to the souls in purgatory, and forthwith she found her prayer heard.
Do you, then, succor these holy souls, and God will hear your prayers, and will be your help. Do, then, enter into this pious association, the whole business of which is to show compassion to these blessed souls, not in heart only, but also by good works, and every kind of suffrages. God, who loves them dearly, will abundantly reward your charity, and will bless you in life, and at the hour of death. The grace of the Lord be with you evermore!
Any one that has a mind to join this pious association has only to determine so to do with himself, and before God, without any form or external compact: it will be enough to form the intention of uniting in spirit in the works and prayers of all the other faithful who have joined it for the same object, if you fulfill the following obligations:
1. Let every associate endeavor, as much as in him lies, to find some one else who will enroll himself in his spiritual society; and this can be done either by word of mouth, or by getting copies of this sheet, in order to obtain a continually increasing number of people, who endeavor by good works and fervent prayers to give suffrages to the holy souls in purgatory. The associates may belong to either sex.
2. Every associate will recite every day, as a suffrage for these holy souls, a prayer of his own selection which has some indulgence annexed to it, or will hear a Mass, or do some other good work, as, for instance, an act of abnegation of his own will, or mortification of his appetite, or eyes, or by fleeing from some dangerous occasion, or by the practice of any other virtue.
3. Every month, too, each associate will go to confession and communion, praying for the dead who belonged to the society. The charity due to all the dead is much more due to those of the confraternity, who have passed into another life.
Purgatory Opened To The Piety of the Faithful: or The Month of November Consecrated to the Relief of the Souls in Purgatory
As a reminder of our duty to pray for the suffering faithful in Purgatory, the Church has dedicated the entire month of November to the Holy Souls. Every Catholic should make some extraordinary effort to join with the spirit of the Church this month to do what he can for the alleviation of the torments of purgatory.
Our intercession for the suffering now will enlist their intercession in our behalf from their place in heaven hereafter. Truly may we say that in a manner the souls in purgatory are our captives, for their release in a great measure devolves on us. We may liken them to Lazarus begging crumbs from the rich man’s table; they are imploring our aid, so let us in our generosity and from the charity of our hearts lend them every possible assistance.
Of the various forms of prayer, kinds of mortification, and acts of piety that may be performed for the atonement of the sins of the suffering, no prayer or deed can be more salutary, at once more simple or more effective, than the beautiful prayer adaptable to all necessities, the prayer of the Rosary.
Another exercise of charity would be to remember all of your family and loved ones that have died by enrolling them in The Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society. By doing this for them, you ensure that they will have 42 holy priests and numerous laymen saying Traditional Latin Masses, and countless prayers for the repose of their souls. No stipend is required for this act of charity, but you can always pay it forward by supporting any good Christian cause.
All Souls’ Day commemorates the faithful departed. The Roman Catholic celebration is based on the doctrine that the souls of the faithful which at death have not been cleansed from the temporal punishment due to venial sins, or have not fully been purged from attachment to mortal sins, cannot attain the beatific vision in heaven yet, and that they may be helped to do so by prayer and by the sacrifice of the Mass.
In other words, when they died, they had not yet attained full sanctification and moral perfection, a requirement for entrance into Heaven. This sanctification is carried out posthumously in Purgatory.
One of the most commonly recited Catholic prayers, Requiem Aeternam (Eternal Rest) has fallen into disuse in the last few decades. Prayer for the dead, however, is one of the greatest acts of charity we can perform, to help poor suffering souls during their time in Purgatory, so that they can enter more quickly into the fullness of heaven.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.
In a statement given to a judge explaining why her daughter should no longer suffer, Charlotte said her daughter longed for peace.
After reading the heartbreaking words Justice Eleanor King at the High Court of Justice granted the request and Nancy died in hospital.
The ruling sets a precedent as it is the first time a child breathing on their own, not on life support and not suffering from a terminal illness, has been allowed to die.
In her summing up the judge said Charlotte’s love for her daughter is apparent and she had “great admiration” for her devotion to Nancy.
“The last day was the hardest of my life. It was absolutely horrifying. I miss my beautiful girl every day and although I know it was the right thing to do, I will never forgive myself. It shouldn’t have to be a mother’s decision to end their child’s life; doctors should be able to take that away from you.”
Medicine of God and His Healing Angel, prince of the Guardian Angels and guide of travelers, promoter and protector of holy wedlock, — such are the gracious offices assigned in Holy Writ, according to the traditions of God’s chosen people and the Christians of the first centuries, to Raphael, Archangel; attracting us by his benignity, charming us, from the first age of Christian art to this present one, by the representations of his affable consideration for our humanity under its most engaging and its most pathetic aspects; for glorious as his presence must have been under all its manifestations, the glory was tempered to meet the fallen condition of our race.
Thus, while Michael was regarded by the Hebrews as the prince of the hosts of the Lord in heaven and on earth, to Raphael were committed those journeyings which make so significant a part of the story of God’s chosen people; going back even to the patriarch Abraham, who expresses this traditional belief in his instructions to the elder servant of his house who was over all that he had, when sending him to his own country, Ur of the Chaldees, to secure a wife for his son Isaac: ” The Lord God of heaven, who took me out of my father’s house and out of my native country, who spoke to me and swore to me, saying: To thy seed will 1 give this land; He will send His angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife for my son thence.” Again to Moses, setting forth on that journey of forty years through the desert: “Behold I send my angel before thee, to keep thee on thy journey and bring thee into the place which I have prepared”; and this promise was renewed immediately after the grievous fall of the Hebrews into idolatry at the foot of Mount Sinai. Still again, when, the desert passed, Moses, making request of the King of Edom to pass through his country to their promised destination, says: “The Lord sent our angel who hath brought us out of Egypt.”
In none of these instances is the name of the angel given, but Raphael has been regarded in every age as the guide of the Israelites to the Promised Land; and it was in accordance with this tradition as held by the Hebrew people that his office as guide of travelers was brought out in the Book of Tobias. According to Archbishop Kenrick — who, we may say here, is quoted as authority throughout the Roman Breviary translated out of Latin into English by John, Marquis of Bute — this book, named Tobias, was composed during the captivity of the Jews in Chaldee. Saint Jerome found a copy of it, which he translated from the Chaldean language into Latin with the aid of a Jew, who explained it to him in Hebrew. Hippolytus, a Roman of the early part of the third century, speaks of the prayer of Tobias and of Sara, and of the angel sent to heal them. It is also mentioned by Origen, who was a witness, so early as 254, to the belief of Christians; by Saint Basil in 379; Saint Ambrose, 397; Saint Jerome, 420; and before 430 by Saint Augustine. The Book of Tobias is included in the Canon composed in the Council of Hippo, and also in the Third Council of Carthage, at which Saint Augustine was present.
Coming to the New Testament, and to the fifth chapter of Saint John, we have an account of the miracle performed by our Lord upon the paralytic, preceded by a detailed account of the same at a pool in Jerusalem called Probatica in Greek, signifying sheepfold, because near a sheep market; in Hebrew, Bethsaida, or fishing pool, with its five porches. “In these,” the evangelist tells us,” lay a great multitude of sick, of blind, of lame, of withered, waiting for the stirring of the water. And an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pool and the water was stirred. And he that went down first into the pond after the stirring of the water was cured of whatever infirmity he suffered.” The Angel of the Probatica is understood to be the Angel Raphael, as the Healing Angel, his name signifying, strictly, the ” Medicine of God”; and it is under this aspect that he is regarded as the patron of physicians — of all who practice the benevolent healing art; while this is emphasized in all its lovely circumstances by the narrative of Tobias.
The devotional figures of Raphael often represent him in the dress of a pilgrim, girded, sandals on his feet, his hair bound with a fillet, the staff in his hand, and sometimes a water-bottle or a wallet slung from his belt. This, of course, indicates him as the Angel of the journey; but in other instances he carries a small casket, or box, in which is the gall or liver of the fish, as a protector against evil spirits, and also as a healing ointment, according to the angel’s directions to the young Tobias for the restoration of his father’s sight. He is thus represented in an exquisite picture by Pietro Perugino. His tunic is girded; his mantle, resting on one shoulder, is tucked under his belt; his left hand holds that of the young Tobias, while his right hand bears, with a gesture indicating advice or instruction, the casket with its precious ointment from the liver of the fish, taken at the very outset of their journey. The feet are unshod; all the draperies suggestive of peace; and the beautiful head — how can we describe it? The hair, parted on the forehead, falls in loose waves on the shoulders; the face is bent toward his young charge, their eyes upon each other, — in the Angel’s a look of the most tender, even solemn, solicitude, in the youth’s one of affectionate veneration; over the whole an air of angelic watchfulness, but also of angelic peace, which passes into the soul of him who meditates as he looks upon it; rich in its lessons of heavenly wisdom, consoling in its assurances of angelic love.
A charming composition gives us the return of Tobias, with the Angel Raphael, to his aged parents. In Bernardino Luini’s all the figures are half-length, but everything is told or suggested : the eager Anna pressing close to her returned son, devouring him with her happy eyes; the patient Tobias, patient in his blindness, both hands on his staff, listening to his beloved son, who is looking into his sightless eyes with tender compassion, while he tells the story of his journey, of the sojourn with their kinsman Raguel, — one hand laid on his breast, as if this recital were of the heart more than of the memory; while his left hand still holds that of his beloved guide, protector, friend, to whom he owes all the joy he is communicating to his dear ones, who have waited and watched so long for his coming.
And our Angel, our Raphael — his tunic is girded and tucked under his belt, as one who has fared swiftly on his way; one hand, as we have said, still in that of his young charge, the other raised slightly with a gesture as if every word spoken were his own, so lively is his sympathy, so personal his interest in every detail as it is related. The wings, unseen by those whom he has served, rise softly from his shoulders, over which the parted hair falls in beauty; the eyelids are lowered, as if he were still minding his charge; but on the lips is a gentle smile of satisfaction, remembering lovely things accomplished, — a smile such as only Luini or Leonardo da Vinci has ever left on paper or canvas. The gentleness of the joy, almost tearful, fills the heart with a gratitude which is called forth by heavenly favors, a sense of celestial benefactions.
Never has the fidelity of art to the Written Word, to the cherished oral traditions of thousands of years, been more beautifully exemplified than in the masterpieces we have cited; inspired as they have been by Raphael, that most gracious, most amiable of Archangels. “I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the Lord.”
The Three Archangels and the Guardian Angels in Art
Eliza Allen Starr (1899)
Of the real history of St. Luke we know very little. He was not an apostle; and, like St. Mark, appears to have been converted after the Ascension. He was a beloved disciple of St. Paul, whom he accompanied to Rome, and remained with his master and teacher till the last. It is related, that, after the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul, he preached the Gospel in Greece and Egypt; but whether he died a natural death, or suffered martyrdom, does not seem clear. The Greek traditions represent him as dying in peace, and his death was thus figured on the ancient doors of San Paolo at Rome. Others affirm that he was crucified at Patras with St. Andrew.
There is some ground for the supposition that Luke was a physician. (Col: 4:14) But the pretty legend which makes him a painter, and represents him as painting the portrait of the Virgin Mary, is unsupported by any of the earlier traditions. It is of Greek origin, still universally received by the Greek Church, which considers painting a religious art, and numbers in its calendar of saints a long list of painters, as well as poets, musicians, and physicians. In the west of Europe, the legend which represents St. Luke as a painter can be traced no higher than the tenth century; the Greek painters introduced it; and a crude drawing of the Virgin discovered in the catacombs, with an inscription purporting that it was “one of seven painted by Luca,” confirmed the popular belief that St. Luke the evangelist was meant. Thus originated the fame of innumerable Virgins of peculiar sanctity, all attributed to his hand, and regarded with extreme veneration. Such ancient pictures are generally of Greek workmanship, and of a black complexion.
In the legend of St. Luke we are assured that he carried with him everywhere two portraits, painted by himself; one of our Saviour, and one of the Virgin; and that by means of these he converted many of the heathen, for not only did they perform great miracles, but all who looked on these bright and benign faces, which bore a striking resemblance to each other, were moved to admiration and devotion. It is also said, that St. Luke painted many portraits of the Virgin, delighting himself by repeating this gracious image; and in the church of Santa Maria in Via Lata, at Rome, they still show a little chapel in which, “as it hath been handed down from the first ages, St. Luke the Evangelist wrote, and painted the effigy of the Virgin-mother of God.”
On the strength of this tradition, St. Luke has been chosen as the patron saint of painters. Academies of art are placed under his particular protection; their chapels are dedicated to him, and over the altar we see him in his charming and pious avocation, that of painting portraits of the Blessed Virgin for the consolation of the faithful.
The devotional figures of St. Luke, in his character of evangelist, represent him in general with his gospel and his attendant ox, winged or unwinged, but in Greek Art, and in those schools of Art which have been particularly under the Byzantine influence (as the early Venetian), we see St. Luke as evangelist young and beardless, holding the portrait of the Virgin as his attribute in one hand, and his gospel in the other. A beautiful figure of St. Luke as evangelist and painter is in the famous “ Heures d’Anne de Bretagne.” In an engraving by Lucas van Leyden Netherlands, 1494-1533, executed as it should seem in honor of his patron saint, St. Luke is seated on the back of his ox, writing the gospel; he wears a hood like an old professor, rests his book against the horns of the animal, and his inkstand is suspended on the bough of a tree. But separate devotional figures of him as patron are as rare as those of St. Matthew.
St. Luke painting the Virgin has been a frequent and favorite subject. The most famous of all is a picture in the Academy of St. Luke, at Rome, ascribed to Raphael. Here St. Luke, kneeling on a footstool before an easel is busied painting the Virgin with the child in her arms, who appears to him out of heaven sustained by clouds: behind St. Luke stands Raphael himself looking on. Another of the same subject, a very small and beautiful picture, also ascribed to Raphael, is in the Grosvenor Gallery. In neither of these pictures is the treatment quite worthy of that great painter, wanting his delicacy both of sentiment and execution. There is a most curious and quaint example in the Munich Gallery, attributed to Van Eyck – here the Virgin, seated under a rich Gothic canopy, holds on her lap the Infant Christ, in a most stiff attitude; St. Luke, kneeling on one knee, is taking her likeness. There is another, similar in style, by Aldegraef, in the Vienna Gallery. Carlo Maratti represents St. Luke as presenting to the Virgin the picture he has painted of her.
Sacred and Legendary Art – Volume 1
Mrs. Jameson (Anna), Estelle May Hurll – 1897
On the sixth day of creation God formed man out of the slime of the earth, and breathed into his face the breath of life, and gave him a companion, Eve, whom He drew in a wondrous manner from the side of the sleeping Adam.
By so doing, God willed that couple to be the source of the human race, which was to be propagated by successive generations; and, in order that His wise designs might be the better accomplished, He endowed the union of man and woman with the qualities of unity and perpetuity.
Christ Himself taught that, by its very institution, marriage should be between two only ; that the two became one flesh, and that the marriage tie was so close that no man could loose it. (Mt:19:5-6)
But the primitive perfection of marriage gradually became corrupted even among God’s own chosen people. Moses permitted them, on account of the hardness of their heart, to give a bill of divorce.
“If a man take a wife, and have her, and she find not favor in his eyes, for some uncleanness: he shall write a bill of divorce, and shall give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.” (Dt: 24:1)
Among the Gentiles every sort of abomination prevailed, so that woman was degraded from being the man’s companion to being his drudge or his toy, and children became the mere chattels of their parents. These evils, however, were not to be without a remedy. Jesus Christ, Who restored man’s dignity and perfected the Mosaic law, took marriage under His special care. He deigned to be present at the wedding feast at Cana, and made it the occasion of His first miracle.
He reproved the Jews for their corrupt practices regarding marriage, and particularly forbade divorce. But He did far more. He raised matrimony to the dignity of a sacrament, thereby giving it the power to confer upon those who receive it the grace required by their state, and making it a figure of the union between Himself and His Church.
“Husbands, love your wives,” says St. Paul to the Ephesians “as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered Himself up for it, that He might sanctify it. … Men ought to love their wives as their own bodies. . . . No man ever hateth his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the Church; because we are members of His body, of His flesh, and His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh. This is a great sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the Church.” (Eph:5:22-32)
A Manual of Catholic Theology based on Scheeben’s “Dogmatik,”
by Joseph Wilhelm and Thomas B. Scannell
Benziger Bros. -1908
And for raiment why are you solicitous?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin.
But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. – Mt:6:28-29
More beautiful flowers:
Aldous Huxley, social critic and author of Brave New World, talks to Wallace about threats to freedom in the United States, overpopulation, bureaucracy, propaganda, drugs, advertising, and television.
WALLACE: This is Aldous Huxley, a man haunted by a vision of hell on earth. A searing social critic, Mr. Huxley 27 years ago, wrote Brave New World, a novel that predicted that some day the entire world would live under a frightful dictatorship. Today Mr. Huxley says that his fictional world of horror is probably just around the corner for all of us. We’ll find out why, in a moment.
WALLACE: Good evening, I’m Mike Wallace. Tonight’s guest, Aldous Huxley, is a man of letters, as disturbing as he is distinguished. Born in England, now a resident of California, Mr. Huxley has written some of the most electric novels and social criticism of this century.
He’s just finished a series of essays called “Enemies of Freedom,” in which he outlines and defines some of the threats to our freedom in the United States; and Mr. Huxley, right of the bat, let me ask you this: as you see it, who and what are the enemies of freedom here in the United States?
HUXLEY: Well, I don’t think you can say who in the United States, I don’t think there are any sinister persons deliberately trying to rob people of their freedom, but I do think, first of all, that there are a number of impersonal forces which are pushing in the direction of less and less freedom, and I also think that there are a number of technological devices which anybody who wishes to use can use to accelerate this process of going away from freedom, of imposing control…
Faustus is the hubristic protagonist in Christopher Marlowe’s ever-popular play, “The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus.” Frustrated by human limitations on learning , he negotiated with Mephistopheles, Hell’s emissary, to gain for himself a twenty-four-year period of godhood by selling his soul to the emissary’s lord, Lucifer.
No longer constrained by such ordinary disciplines as philosophy, medicine, law, and theology, Faustus explored new frontiers of knowledge through the occult arts, among them alchemy, astrology, necromancy, numerology, and demonology.
Fatefully, the knowledge Faustus craved did not presuppose wisdom. While enjoying his superhuman powers, he failed to realize that all he really had was knowledge — knowledge that couldn’t be wisely applied to humanity’s betterment. When the twelfth hour arrived, Faustus, with nothing more than a useless, encyclopedic collection of facts, faced his tormentors who tore his body to pieces and introduced him to the worst of punishments: eternal absence of God’s love.
Pride, Faustus’ undoing, often finds fertile ground for bringing itself to fruition in human cowardice. As American Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once said, “Pride is an admission of weakness; it secretly fears all competition and dreads all rivals.”
In the high drama of current American politics, there are Faustian characters who smugly strut and swagger their hour upon the stage, and risk departing in ignominy.
As well they should. After all, what has taken Americans two and a half centuries to build up — a democracy of, by, and for the people, which is the shining light of hope for oppressed peoples the world over — is in jeopardy of being subverted in the eye-blink of one presidential term.
Archbishop Sheen was right: Those possessed of overweening pride fear dissenters and demonize them in cowardly ad hominem fashion. That may be effective when attacking individuals, such as conservative news commentators, but it’s no defense against an entire population awakening to the fact that its security, wellbeing, and freedom are being endangered by a handful of unscrupulous, dog-and-pony-show politicians.
On the home front, many Americans are coming to grips with the unsettling reality that the socialistic Health Care Law will destroy the best health care system in the world by trying to perform an impossible feat of legalistic legerdemain: giving bureaucracy the responsibility of lowering costs in a free enterprise society. When has bureaucracy ever lowered the cost of anything?
On the foreign front, nations having economic and defense ties with America are dismayed that some of her leaders are far too friendly with foreign fanatics fantasizing about the Great Satan’s fall. For example, in meetings with Iran’s president — a bona fide, fiendish, fanatical fruitcake — some of America’s highest echelon leaders, including the Secretary of State, have basically condoned his country’s right to build nuclear weapons!
Such leaders should take note of the warning given in the sixteenth chapter of Proverbs: “Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall.” If not, America may soon face Faustus’ fate.
Read the play “The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus” HERE
Jean Francois Millet, in Scribner’s Monthly
Published August 22 1880 The New York Times