Saints

In All Adversity -Go to Joseph

And when there also they began to be famished, the people cried to Pharao, for food. And he said to them: Go to Joseph: and do all that he shall say to you. (Gn:41:55)

Joseph, the son of the Patriarch Jacob, was the figure of St. Joseph, the son of another Jacob: “Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called the Christ. (Mt:1:16)

What was truly said of the first Joseph, as to his future, and as to his goodness, his chastity, his patience, his wisdom, his influence with the king, his power over the people, and his love for his brethren, is verified much more perfectly, even to this day, in the second Joseph.

Of old it was said to the needy and suffering people in the kingdom of Egypt: “Go to Joseph, and do all that he shall say to you.”

The same is now said by the Sovereign Pontiff to all needy and suffering people in the kingdom of the Church—” Go To Joseph.”

If you labor for your bread ; if you have a family to support; if you endure privation and suffering; if your heart is searched by trials at home; if you are assailed by some importunate temptation; if your faith is sorely tested, and your hope seems lost in darkness and disappointment; if you have yet to learn to love and serve Jesus and Mary as you ought, Joseph—the Head of the House, the Husband of Mary, the nursing Father of Jesus—Joseph is your model, your teacher, and your father. Truly, in all things, St. Joseph is the people’s friend.

But who is St. Joseph?
He is the adopted father of the God-man: St. Luke
He is the most faithful coadjutor of the incarnation: St. Bernard
He is one whose office belongs to the order of the hypostatic Union: Suarez
He is the Lord and Master of the Holy Family: St. Bernardine
He is the only one found worthy among men to be the spouse of Mary: St. Gregory
He is the consoler of Mary in her sorrows and trials: St. Bernard
He is the Saviour of the life of the Infant Jesus: .St. Matthew
He is the Saviour of the honor of His Mother: St. Jerome.
He is the man who lived 30 years with Jesus and Mary;
He is the man more beloved by Jesus and Mary than all other creatures: St. Isidore
He is third person of the earthly Trinity: Gerson
He is the model and image of apostolic men: St. Hilary
He is more an angel than a man in conduct:  Cornelius Cornelii a Lapide
He is the model of priests and superiors: Albertus Magnus
He is the master of prayer and of the interior life: St. Teresa Lallemant
He is the guardian of chastity, and honor of virginity: St. Augustine
He is the leader in the great procession of the afflicted: Avila
He is the patron of the married state: Paul de Pal
He is the procurator of the Church of God: In parv. off. St. Joseph
He is the patron of a happy death: St. Alphonsus
He is the patron of the Catholic Church: Decree S.C.R

“I took for my Patron and Lord the glorious S. Joseph, and recommended myself earnestly to him. I saw clearly that my Father and Lord delivered me out of this, and other troubles of greater importance, touching my honor and my soul. He rendered me greater services than I knew how to ask for. I cannot call to mind that I have at any time asked him for anything which he has not granted; and I am filled with amazement when I consider the great favors God has granted me through this blessed Saint, and the dangers from which he has delivered me, both of body and soul.

“To other Saints Our Lord seems to have given grace to succor men in some special necessity; but to this glorious Saint, I know it by experience, He has given the grace to help us in all things. Our Lord would have us to understand that as He was subject to Joseph on earth (St. Joseph bearing the title of His father, and being His guardian, could command Him), so now Our Lord in heaven grants all his petitions.

“I have asked others to recommend themselves to S. Joseph* and they too know the same thing by experience.
“I used to keep his feast with all the solemnity I could.

“Would that I could persuade all men to be devout to this glorious Saint; for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God. I have never known anyone who was really devout to him, and who honored him by particular services who did not visibly grow more and more in virtue: for he helps in a special way those souls who commend themselves to him. It is now some years since I have always on his feast asked him for something, and I always have it. If the petition be in any way amiss, he directs it aright for my greater good.

“If I were a person who had authority to write, it would be a pleasure to me to be diffusive in speaking most minutely of the graces which this glorious Saint has obtained for me and for others. But I ask for the love of God that he who does not believe me will make the trial for himself—when he will find out by experience the great good that results from commending oneself to this glorious Patriarch and in being devout to him.

“Those who give themselves to prayer should in a special manner always have great devotion to St. Joseph; for I know not how any man can think of the Queen of Angels, during the time that she suffered so much with the Infant Jesus, without giving thanks to Joseph for the services he rendered them then. He who cannot find anyone to teach him how to pray, let him take this glorious Saint for his master, and he will not wander out of the way.”— St. Teresa’s Life, by herself, c. VI.

“Go, then to Joseph, and do all that he shall say to you:”
Go to Joseph, and obey him as Jesus and Mary obeyed him;
Go to Joseph, and speak to him as They spoke to him;
Go to Joseph, and consult him as They consulted him;
Go to Joseph, and honor him as They honored him;
Go to Joseph, and be grateful to him as They were grateful to him;
Go to Joseph, and love him as They loved him, and as They love him still.

However much you love Joseph, your love will always fall short of the extraordinary love which Jesus and Mary bore to him. On the other hand, the love of Joseph necessarily leads us to Jesus and Mary. He was the first Christian to whom it was said, “Take the Child and His Mother.” This led a Father of the Church to say, “You will always find Jesus with Mary and Joseph.”

THE FRANCISCAN ANNALS,
VOLUME II.
Bishop of Salford.
1878


Advice of St Philip Neri To His Spiritual Children

1. Blessed are you, my children, who have time to do good.

2. Now is not the time for sleep; for Paradise was not made for cowards.

3. Children, keep up a cheerful temper. I will have no scruples or melancholy: only avoid sin.

4. Avoid inordinate mirth, because this roots up the little good which has been acquired.

5. You must not leave your devout exercises; but if you wish to recreate yourselves with a walk, let these be fulfilled, and then go.

6. Do not care to attempt too many devotions; but undertake a few, and persevere in them.

7. You must not look to becoming saints in four days, because perfection is acquired with great labor, and by degrees.

8. Do not have a fancy to be masters of spiritual matters and convert others, but attend to regulating yourself.

9. Children, mortify yourselves in small things, that you may afterwards be able the more easily to mortify yourselves in great things.

10. To choose your vocation, time is required, advice, and prayer.

11. To preserve chastity, it is an excellent prescription to discover your thoughts immediately to your confessor.

12. Do not nourish your body delicately; fly bad companions and evil communication.

13. Avoid idleness, especially during the hours after dinner; because it is at that time that the devil commonly makes his fiercest attacks.

14. Do not touch each other familiarly, not even in jest nor have private conversations with each other.

15. Have no familiarity with women, although they may be allied to you by relationship.

16. Do not trust yourselves whatever may be your experience, but fly every occasion.

17. Go often to confession, at least every eight days; and go to communion according to the advice of your confessor.

18. Be devout to Mary, because this is the best means of obtaining the grace of God.

19. Before choosing a confessor, recommend yourselves in prayer to God; but having once chosen, do not readily change without just cause.

20. When at confession, tell your worst sins first, that the devil may not tempt you to end by hiding them.

21. Take counsel always of your spiritual father, and recommend yourselves to the prayers of all.

22. Give yourselves always, and in all things, into the hands of your superiors; because obedience is a compendious way to acquire perfection.

23. Pray continually to the Lord, that He may grant you the gift of perseverance.

24. Endeavor to have God always before your eyes.

25. Never excuse yourselves when corrected; and keep yourselves from saying any thing in your own praise, even in jest.

26. Read, O my children, the lives of the Saints; hear sermons; and do not fail to practice the prayers and other exercises of the congregation; because they are very pleasing to the Divine majesty.

Children, in order not to fall into sin, keep profoundly engraved in your memories the three warnings given by a holy hermit to certain youths, and act according to them faithfully.

1st Warning. Fly the occasions of sin

2nd Warning. Fly the occasions of sin.

3rd Warning. Fly the occasions of sin.

Fly quickly, fly far, fly always.

Children, do you really desire to be saved! Then ever keep,

First, eternity in mind;

Secondly, God in your heart;

Thirdly, the world under your lee.

“This do and thou shalt live.” ( Lk:10:28)

Gate Of Heaven: Way Of The Child Of Mary
A Manual Of Prayers And Instructions,
Compiled From Approved Sources
For The Use Of Young Persons
(1879)


Light Out of Darkness

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.”

 


Ave Maria, Gratia Plena

“O Amor Mei Nomen Matris Dei”
“Oh name of the Mother of God, thou art my love.”-St. Anselm

We always see the more a man is for God, the more he appreciates and loves the Hail Mary. I do not know how it is, nor why, but nevertheless I well know that it is true; nor have I any better secret of knowing whether a person is for God than to examine if he loves to say the Hail Mary and the Rosary. I say, “if he loves”, for it can happen that a person for some reason may be unable to say the Rosary, but this does not prevent him from loving it and inspiring others to say it.

O predestinate souls! Slaves of Jesus in Mary! Learn that the Hail Mary is the most beautiful of all prayers after the Our Father. , It is the most perfect compliment which you can make to Mary, because it is the compliment which the Most High sent her by an archangel, in order to gain her heart; and it was so powerful over her heart by the secret charms of which it is so full, that in spite of her profound humility, she gave her consent to the Incarnation of the Word. It is by this compliment also that you will infallibly gain her heart, if you say it as you ought.

The Hail Mary well said, that is, with attention, devotion, and modesty, is, according to the Saints, the enemy of the devil, which puts him to flight, and the hammer which crushes him. It is the sanctification of the soul, the joy of Angels, the melody of the predestinate, the canticle of the New Testament, the pleasure of Mary, and the glory of the Most Holy Trinity. The Hail Mary is a heavenly dew which fertilizes the soul. It is the chaste and loving kiss which we give to Mary. It is a vermilion rose which we present to her; a precious pearl we offer her; a chalice of divine ambrosial nectar which we hold to her. All these are comparisons of the Saints.

I pray you urgently, by the love I bear you in Jesus and Mary, not to content yourselves with saying the Little Corona of the Blessed Virgin, but a whole Chaplet; or even, if you have time, the whole Rosary every day. At the moment of your death, you will bless the day and hour in which you have followed my advice. Having thus sown in the benedictions of Jesus and Mary, you will reap eternal benedictions in heaven: qui seminat in benedictionibus, de benedictionibus et metet.

THE TRUE DEVOTION THE BLESSED VIRGIN.
BY THE VENERABLE SERVANT OF GOD,
ST. LOUIS-MARIE DE MONTFORT
1712

In danger, in difficulty, or in doubt, think on Mary, call on Mary. Let her not be away from thy mouth or from thine heart, and that thou mayest not lack the succor of her prayers, turn not aside from the example of her conversation.

If thou follow her, thou wilt never go astray. If thou pray to her, thou wilt never have need to despair. If thou keep her in mind, thou wilt never wander. If she hold thee, thou wilt never fall. If she lead thee, thou wilt never be weary. If she help thee, thou wilt reach home safe at the last—and so thou wilt prove in thyself how meetly it is said: “And the virgin’s name was Mary.” (St Bernard)

Excerpt from The Roman Breviary for the Feast of the Holy Name of The Blessed Virgin Mary
(Sept. 12)


Mary, The Health of The Sick

 Mary, The Health of The Sick

The sin of our first parents not only deprived man of original justice and of all the gifts consequent thereon; it reduced him furthermore to a state of great weakness, so that it is impossible for us to accomplish works of supernatural value, without a special grace. Fallen man is like one sick, who has no relish for any nourishment whatever. He is deficient in vital energy, and his actions are wanting in that vigor which naturally belongs to a healthy person. He is strongly inclined to vice, and finds the practice of virtue tedious and difficult.

This natural incapacity regarding the performance of good works is further increased by actual sin, whether mortal or venial. The former, by depriving the soul of divine grace, which is the principle of spiritual life, hinders man from doing anything pleasing to God, so as to merit eternal happiness. The latter, by diminishing the fervor of charity, makes the practice of virtue laborious, since charity has for its effect precisely to facilitate the performance of what is good. Sin is therefore a great evil, because, if mortal, it saps altogether the spiritual energy of the soul, and if venial, it notably weakens it. If from individuals we pass on to nations, we perceive that sin, like a subtle poison, eats into the heart of them, weakening and preparing their ruin.

Divine bounty, which for bodily ailments, has procured us efficacious remedies, is not less industrious in providing the means to heal our spiritual maladies. With the sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ to restore our souls to grace or to augment it within us, God has also been pleased to grant us, in Mary’s aid, a potent remedy for our spiritual infirmities. In fact, Mary has not only given us Jesus Christ, the Pastor and Physician of our souls, but furthermore, she watches over us as a tender mother does by the cradle of an ailing child.

Besides this, Mary’s example encourages us in our conflict with the devil. For she is the Immaculate Virgin, who never was defiled by sin. Her sweet soul was always filled with the perfume of the noblest virtues.

Mary never ceases also to hearken to the voice of our supplications and to present them before the throne of God, often anticipating our requests, and obtaining for us, through her own merits and those of Jesus Christ, all the helps necessary to us in our spiritual needs.

And what Mary does for individuals, she also does for whole nations. As a pitiful Queen, she succors them in their distress; she raises them from their bed of sickness, and is for them a bulwark of defense. (Sg:8:10)

Mary’s power and motherly care not only embrace spiritual miseries: they also extend to the ills of the body. How often do we see Mary restoring health to the sick, who have recourse to her with filial confidence!

In Mary’s readiness to alleviate bodily ailments, shines forth most splendidly God’s love for her. It seems as if the Most High had placed no limit to the efficacy of His Mother’s intercession. While other saints are invoked only in particular cases of corporal infirmity, Mary’s power, on the other hand, is exercised over every kind of malady. Hence we may say that, at her word, as once at the word of Jesus, the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear. (Mt:11:5) The sole difference is that Jesus Christ, being God, wrought these miracles of his own personal authority, while Mary obtains for us, of the Divine Clemency, the graces she asks, by virtue of the efficacy of her intercession with God.

However, though Mary is so powerful in healing all bodily ailments, yet she does not always deliver her clients from every such trial, because God sees best to exercise them in patience, that they may thereby win the reward prepared for them in heaven. But when Mary does not restore bodily health, yet, for all that, she never ceases to act the part of a tender Mother toward us, watching over us, and obtaining for us, in place of bodily strength, resignation to the divine will and interior peace: two sovereign means of sanctification and salvation.

O Mary, Immaculate Virgin, our salvation lies in thy hands. Cleanse our souls, we beseech thee, from the leprosy of sin, and assist us in our corporal infirmities. And if it be the will of God that we must be acquainted with sickness and suffering, obtain for us, at least, perfect patience and resignation in whatsoever God may dispose. Amen.

FLOWER OF PARADISE
-CONSIDERATIONS ON THE LITANY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN, ENRICHED WITH EXAMPLES DRAWN
FROM THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS
Very Rev. Alexis M. Lepicier, O.S.M.
1922


Miraculous Picture of the Santissima Annunziata

When the Seven Holy Founders of the Order of the Servants of Mary were established in the Oratory of Santa Maria di Cafaggio, they decided to have painted a fresco of Our Lady representing her humbly proclaiming herself the handmaid of the Lord when greeted by the Angel. Being desirous that the painting should be worthy of the most holy Mother of God, they entrusted the work to an able and pious artist, named Bartholomew.

The saintly artist, relying on the aid of Heaven more than on his own skill, had recourse to Our Lady, fervently praying her that she would deign to direct his hand, that he might represent her in the most fitting manner. When he had completed the figure of the Angel and most of that of Our Lady, there yet remained to paint the features of the holy Mother of God. But how was he to depict the expression of this heavenly Mother in the act of pronouncing her admirable fiat, by which she became the Mother of God?

In this perplexity of mind the painter fell into a deep sleep. On awaking, how great was his astonishment to find the picture finished by an invisible hand! The faithful then flocked to witness this miracle and fixing their eyes on the Blessed Virgin, they repeatedly exclaimed: “What an angelical face, what heavenly features, what a celestial expression!” So beautiful indeed was the face of the Mother of God, that Michelangelo himself used to say this could not have been depicted by any human hand, but that it was truly a divine work.

‘Quivi non è arte di pennelli,onde sia stato fatto il volto della Vergine, ma è cosa divina veramente”. (Michelangelo)

‘There he is not art brushes,the face of the Virgin, but what is truly divine.’ ‘(Michelangelo)

Many were the graces bestowed by Our Lady on those who came to pray before this picture. Before long it was given the title of “Our Lady Saint Mary, full of grace.” This was the beginning of many further graces which the mercy of God granted, for more than six centuries, to those who came to invoke the Mother of God at this shrine.

Many people eminent for virtue came and knelt before this heavenly picture to implore Our Lady’s aid. It was before this wondrous picture that St. Aloysius Gonzaga made his vow of perpetual virginity. Here, also, both St. Charles Borromeo and in after years, Pope Pius IX, knelt in prayer and shed tears of tender devotion.

Very Rev. Alexis M. Lepicier, O.S.M. 1922.

http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/Santissima-Annunziata.html


All Souls Day: The Faithful Departed

The Day of the Dead by William Adolphe Bouguereau

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

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

Requiem aeternam dona eis  Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.


The Patience of the Saints and the Sleep of Death

And we will not have you ignorant brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that you be not sorrowful, even as others who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again: even so them who have slept through Jesus, will God bring with Him. (1Thes:4:13-14)

One great miracle in the new creation of God is this, that death is changed to sleep; and therefore in the writings of the New Testament we do not read of the ‘death ‘ of the saints.

St. Paul in the text speaks of the saints unseen as of those that ‘sleep in Jesus’; and Christians were wont to call their burial-grounds cemeteries, or sleeping-places, where they laid up their beloved ones to sleep on and take their rest. Let us see why we should thus speak of those whom we call dead.

First, it is because we know that they shall awake up again. What sleep is to waking, death is to the resurrection. It is only a prelude, a transitory state, ushering in a mightier power of life; therefore death is called sleep, to show that it has a fixed end coming

Again, death is changed to sleep, because they whom men call dead do really live unto God. They were dead while they lived this dying life on earth, and dead when they were in the last avenues of death. But after they had once died, death had no more dominion: they escaped as a ‘bird out of the snare of the fowler’; the snare ‘was’ broken, and they were delivered.

It may sound strange to unbelieving ears to say that we are dead while we live, and alive when we die. But so it is. Life does not hang on matter, nor on organization of matter.

It is not as the harmony which rings out of a cunning instrument; but it is a breath, a spirit, a ray of the eternal being, pure, immaterial, above all grosser compounds, simple and indissoluble. In the body it is allayed and tempered with weakness, shrouded about with obstructions; its faculties pent up by a bounded organization, and its energies repressed by the ‘body of this death.’ It is life subjected to the conditions of mortality. But, once dead, once dissolved, and the unclothed spirit is beyond the affections of decay. There is no weakness, nor weariness, nor wasting away, nor wandering of the burdened spirit; it is disenthralled, and lives its own life, unmingled, and buoyant. When the coil of this body is loosed, death has done all and his power is spent; thenceforth and for ever the sleeping soul lives mightily unto God.

Those whom the world calls dead are sleeping, because they are taking their rest. ‘I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth. Even so saith the Spirit; for they rest from their labours.’ Not as the heretics of old vainly and coldly dreamed, as if they slept without stir of consciousness from the hour of death to the morning of the resurrection. Their rest is not the rest of a stone, cold and lifeless; but of wearied humanity. They rest from their labours; they have no more persecution, nor stoning, nor scourging; no more martyrdoms; they have no more false witness, nor cutting tongues; no more bitterness of heart, nor iron entering into the soul; no more burdens of wrong, nor amazement, nor perplexity. Never again shall they weep for unkindness, and disappointment, and withered hopes, and desolation of heart. All is over now; they have passed under the share. The ploughers ploughed upon their back, and made long furrows; but it is all over, never to begin again.

They rest too from the weight of ‘ the body of our humiliation’ —from its sufferings and pains. Their last sickness is over. . . . Now is their weariness changed into refreshment; their weakness into excellence of strength; their wasting into a spirit ever new; their broken words into the perfection of praise; their weeping into a chant of bliss. And not only so, but they rest also from their warfare against sin, against all its strength, and subtilties, and snares. . . . There is no more inward struggle, no sliding back again, no swerving aside, no danger of falling; they have gained the shore of eternal peace. Above all they rest from the bufferings of evil in themselves. It is not persecution, nor oppression, nor the thronging assaults of temptation, that so afflict a holy man, as the consciousness that evil dwells in his own inmost soul. It is the clinging power of spiritual evil that sullies his whole being: it seems to run through him in every part; it cleaves to every movement of his life; his living powers are burdened and bruised by its grasp.

Evil tempers in sudden flashes, unholy thoughts shooting across the soul and kindling fires in the imagination, thoughts of self in holiest seasons, consciousness of self in holiest acts, in devoutness of spirit, earthliness of heart, dull musing heaviness in the life of God—all these burden even saints with an oppressive weight. They feel always the stretch and tension of their spiritual frame, as a man that is weary and breathless grappling with a foe whom, if he would live, he must hold powerless to the earth. But from all this, too, they rest. The sin that dwelt in them died, when through death they began to live. The unimpeded soul puts forth its new-born life, as a tree in a kindly soil invited by a gentle sky: all that checked it is passed away; all that draws it into ripeness bathes it with fostering power. . . .

Blessed and happy dead! In them the work of the new creation is well-nigh accomplished. What feebly stirs in us, in them is well-nigh full. They have passed within the veil, and there remaineth only one more change for them—a change full of a foreseen, foretasted bliss. How calm, how pure, how sainted, are they now! A few short years ago, and they were almost as weak and poor as we: harassed by temptations, often overcome weeping in bitterness of soul, struggling, with faithful though fearful hearts, towards that dark shadow from which they shrank as we shrink now. . . .

Let us be much in thought with them that are at rest. They await our coming; for without us they shall ‘not be made perfect.’ Let us therefore remember, and love, and follow them; that when our last change is over, we, with them, may ‘ sleep in Jesus.’

Cardinal H. E. Manning (1808-1892)


“Monstra Te Esse Matrem”

Child of Mary“Show Thyself A Mother.”

Mary made it constantly the business of her life to labour for the end for which God had created her. In her parents’ house, in that of Nazareth, in Bethlehem, in Egypt, upon Calvary, always humble, recollected, modest, pious, she had but one view: the glory and love of her divine Son. Child of Mary, walk in the footsteps of your Mother; appreciate as she did according to their just value, all the perfidious joys and the false enjoyments of the world; seek and desire one thing only: to love God, and to serve Him faithfully all your days.

May Your Immaculate Heart, 0 Mary, be praised, blessed, honored, loved, and imitated, throughout the whole world.

THE CHILD’S MONTH OF MARY
BY AN UNWORTHY CHILD OF MARY.
1851


Mary, The Consoler Of the Afflicted

Comforter of the Afflicted

“Holy Mary, succor the wretched, encourage the faint-hearted, cheer the mournful.” (Antiphon of the “Magnificat” in the First Vespers of the Office of Our Lady.)

Affliction, the inseparable associate of man during his earthly pilgrimage, is the natural consequence of the ills that befall us, either from within or from without. Bereavement, loss of fortune, calumny, malpractices designed against us, are so many causes of exterior affliction. Sickness, temptation, trouble, and, above all, the thought of having offended God by sin, and the danger we run of offending Him again—these and such like things give rise in us to interior sufferings.

Earthly goods are all insufficient to console us in the midst of so many evils. They may assuage our bitterness in part, but when all is said and done, they leave nought but an aching in our hearts, and are powerless to fortify us against fresh miseries.

As an offset against the ills of life, the infinite goodness of God has prepared for us, in the ever present aid of the most Holy Virgin, a copious source of consolation, for which indeed we ought to be grateful. It is enough to have recourse to this Mother of mercy, to be assured of receiving from her a prompt relief in the pains of life, a balm for the wounded heart, a comfort in the woes and calamities which overwhelm us.

Just as Jesus Christ invited us to seek our consolation in Him, when He said: “Come to me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you,” (Mt:11:28) thus also Mary holds out to us, in the midst of the sorrows of this life, the most soothing comfort: “Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.” (Eccl:24:26)

Mary’s power to comfort the wretched arises mainly from this, that she above all others has known sorrow. As the inseparable companion of Jesus, during the thirty-three years of His mortal life, Mary partook of all His sufferings. With Him she felt the pinch of poverty, experiencing all manner of privations. The reproaches of them that reproached Jesus fell also upon her; (Ps:69:9) and when the disciples forsook their Divine Master one by one, Mary followed Him faithfully even to Calvary, there to drink with Him to the dregs His bitter chalice.

Even after the Saviour had ended His mortal life of labor and toil, Mary continued to live on and suffer, until it pleased God to call her to Himself.

Mary’s faith and constancy joined with her inviolable attachment to the teachings of her Son are in themselves a source of consolation to us. For, this divine Mother teaches us, by her example, never to despair of divine assistance. She animates us to persevere in our good undertakings, whatever difficulties may oppose us. By obtaining for us, through her mediation, a large share in the virtue of the cross, she changes our sorrows into liveliest joys, as formerly the wood pointed out by God to Moses changed the bitter waters of the desert into sweet. (Ex:15:25)

If we have recourse to Mary in time of affliction, not only shall we receive from her consolation in our pains, but we shall also learn by her example to value at their proper worth the crosses wherewith Our Lord is pleased to visit us.

The time of suffering is by far the most precious time of this life; for it is then that the opportunity comes of practicing the highest virtues. These virtues are: faith in the wise ordering of Divine Providence, trust in the assistance of Heaven, and charity, both toward God, who allows us to be afflicted, and toward our neighbor, who may perhaps be the cause of our sufferings. The time of afflictions is then most precious, though we, alas! oftentimes value it at so low a rate. “If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace: but now they are hidden from thy eyes.” (Lk:19:42)

Beware, O my soul, of ever murmuring or losing patience. Bear all things with peace and joy, in company with Jesus Crucified and His sorrowing Mother. Recall to mind these comforting words of Our Saviour: “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Mt:5:5)

O most Holy Virgin, who art fitly called the Consoler of the Afflicted, obtain for me of Jesus Christ thy Son, the grace never to lose heart in the day of trouble, and to seek no comfort but in Jesus and thyself. Grant that I may ever have confidence in thy maternal heart pierced with the sword of sorrow, and that I may find therein my true and only consolation. Amen.

FLOWER OF PARADISE
-CONSIDERATIONS ON THE LITANY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN, ENRICHED WITH EXAMPLES DRAWN
FROM THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS
Very Rev. Alexis M. Lepicier, O.S.M.
1922


In Reasoning Pride, Our Error Lies

Karlskirche Frescos

Pride leads to destruction, and arrogance to downfall. — Prov, 16: 18

Pride is an inordinate esteem and love for one’s self, whose effect is to regard ourselves above all others, and to refer everything to ourselves, and nothing to God. Pride is offensive to God in that we give glory to ourselves for His gifts, instead of glorifying Him. Hence spring vanity and the inordinate desire for esteem and praise.—— St. John Baptist de la Salle

The proud man is like one tormented with a painful abscess; you cannot touch it with the end of a finger without extorting cries of pain.——Idem

“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.” —C.S. Lewis

He that is proud eats up himself; pride is his glass, his trumpet, his chronicle; and whatever praises itself but in the deed, drowns the deed in the praise. — Shakespeare.

Of all the causes which conspire to blind man’s erring judgment, and mislead the mind, what the weak head with strongest bias rules, is pride — that never failing vice of fools. — Alexander Pope.

“You must ask God to give you power to fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy – the root of all that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud.” —St. Vincent de Paul

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. —Saint Augustine

Humility is the only thing that no devil can imitate. — St John Climacus

In pride, in reasoning pride, our error lies;
All quit their sphere and rush into the skies;
Pride still is aiming at the blessed abodes,
Men would be angels, angels would be gods,
Aspiring to be gods, the angels fell,
Aspiring to be angels, men rebel;
And who but wishes to invert the laws
Of order, sins against th’ Eternal Cause. — Alexander Pope

Climb not too high, lest the fall be the greater. — A Good Old Axiom.


St. Raphael Archangel -Medicine of God and His Healing Angel

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.

archangel-raphael-with-tobias

Archangel Raphael with Tobias -Pietro Perugino

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.

Bernardino Luini' Tobias

Tobias, with the Angel Raphael -Bernardino Luini (1482,-1532)

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)


St. Luke, Evangelist and Painter of The Blessed Virgin Mary

Åâàíãåëèñò Ëóêà

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


St. Teresa of Ávila

St. Teresa of ÁvilaO Lord! all our ills come from not fixing our eyes on Thee: if we looked at nothing else but where we are going we should soon arrive, but we fall a thousand times and stumble and go astray because we do not keep our gaze bent on Him Who is the “Way”. It looks so new to us that one would suppose no body had walked in it before. Indeed, this is a grievous pity: one would think we were not Christians at all, nor had ever read the Passion in our lives. Lord have mercy on us — we are touched in a point of honour! If people tell us not to notice it, we at once call them unchristian — I laugh, or I grieve sometimes, at what I hear of such foibles in the world, as I do at my own foibles in religion. To be undervalued in the least is unbearable to us: we at once cry out: “We are not angels, nor saints!” That is true enough. God deliver us, my daughters, when we fall into any imperfection, from saying: ‘We are not angels! We are not saints!’ Although we are not, still, it is the greatest help to believe that, with the aid of God, we can be if we strive our hardest. There is no fear of His failing to do His part if we do ours.

Since we came here for nothing else, let us put our hands to the plough, as they say. Let there be nothing which we know would further our Lord’s service that we dare not undertake with the assistance of His grace. I wish such audacity to exist in this house — it always increases humility. Ever nourish this holy daring, for God aids the valiant and is no respecter of persons.” Both to you and me He will give the help needed.

The Way to Perfection
St. Teresa of Ávila
16th century


Feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

MATERNITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGINThe humble Virgin of Nazareth, Mary, being the nearest and most intimately united to God, is, of all His creatures, the most holy. A closer union with God never existed, nor could there be a more perfect one than that which resulted from the divine maternity.

Notwithstanding Mary’s intimate relationship with God, her divine motherhood, it would have availed her but little had she not carried Jesus Christ in her heart, even more than in her chaste womb. She shunned the world, abhorred sin, and lived only for Jesus. All her days were passed in the practice of virtue. With greater reason than Saint Paul could she exclaim: “And I live, now, not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gall. 11—20).

She was holy in her eyes, ears, tongue, hands and feet; she was godly in her thoughts, desires, words, heart, and in all the powers of her soul; she was saintly in all her movements, all her actions; in a word, she was holy in both body and soul.

Jesus was, by nature, impeccable, Mary having been preserved by a special dispensation of divine grace from the blight of the original defilement, was exempt from any actual stain, even from the least imperfection. Jesus dwelt in Mary’s immaculate womb for nine months, was nourished at her breasts in infancy, and spent thirty of the thirty-three years of his life under her roof. Mary took part in His labors and shared in His joys and ignominies.

From the blessed moment of her conception, super eminent beauty graced her pure soul. In her tender infancy she consecrated herself to God, Whom she loved with an affection beyond that of all creatures capable of serving Him. She had no thought, no desire, save that of honoring Him. She performed no duty, she undertook no task but what tended to His greater glory. Her mind was in perfect harmony with His mind; her heart pulsated only in union with that of her Creator; her soul was filled with joyous rapture in her ecstasy of devotion to Him. Never for one moment in her life did she displease Him in thought, word or deed.

She knew not evil; no shadow of sin ever obscured her life, no stain of any kind ever darkened her soul. She not only lived, but died for love of God, for it was her excessive love to be dissolved and be with Him that caused her soul to wing its flight to his bosom, and the sweet embrace of her divine Son, Jesus.

Like Him, she was tried; nevertheless, her sorrows drew her closer to God, to whom she had recourse for help and consolation. In the spirit of her divine Son, Jesus, who exclaimed, “Not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mark XIV— 36), did she humbly submit to God’s holy will in these words: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to Thy word” (Luke 1—38).

Though she understood not the words spoken to her by the holy man Simeon, concerning her divine Son, her love for, and her confidence in her Maker was such, that, albeit, at almost every step in life, her heart was transfixed with a sword of sorrow, her mind and heart were at all times one with that of God. “Be it done unto me according to Thy word,” came forth every moment from her pure and holy soul.

She was humble, like the meek and humble Jesus, and the Lord “hath regarded the humility of His handmaid” (Luke I—48). Her devotion for Jesus was like that of St. Peter; her charity, like that of St. John; her obedience, like that of Abraham; her patience, like that of Isaac; her resignation, like that of Jacob; her immaculateness excelled the chastity of all the Angels and Saints; her constancy was like that of Josue; her goodness, like that of Samuel; her tenderness, like that of David, and her abstinence, like that of Daniel.

Responding faithfully to every requirement of a perfect life, of exalted sanctity, she is indeed that Holy Mary of whom it is said in the inspired volume: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women” (Luke I—28).

The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary: As Set Forth in Her Litany
By Cornelius Joseph O’Connell (1914)


When Even Wolves Kept Their Word…

St. Francis of Assisi – October 4

During the time that St. Francis was preaching in Gubbio, an enormous and ferocious wolf appeared in that area. It not only devoured other animals, but also men; and since it often came near the town, the inhabitants were taken by great fear. When the people went out to the fields, they would go armed as if for combat. Nonetheless, if any of the townspeople, even if armed, came upon it alone, he could not defend himself against it. The fear of this wolf became so great that no one had the courage to go beyond the city walls.

St. Francis, however, decided to go and meet the wolf, although all the inhabitants counseled him not to do so. Making the Sign of the Cross and putting all his trust in God, he walked out of the town with his brothers. At a certain point, his companions feared to go further, so St. Francis continued alone on the road that led to the place where the wolf stayed.

Many townspeople were following him from the distance to see what would happen. This is what they saw: The wolf advanced toward St. Francis with its mouth open. Approaching him, St. Francis made the Sign of the Cross and called out to the wolf saying: “Come here, brother wolf. In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, I order you not to do any harm to me or any other person.”

Then a marvelous thing happened! As soon as the Saint spoke those words, the wolf closed its mouth, stopped advancing, and meekly laid itself down at the feet of St. Francis as if it were dead.

Then St. Francis spoke to the wolf: “Brother wolf, you are doing much harm and have committed great evils in this land, destroying properties and killing the creatures of God without His permission. You have not only killed and devoured animals, but you have dared to kill men, made in the image and likeness of God. For this, you deserve to be hanged as the terrible thief and murderer that you are. The people clamor and murmur against you, and this entire land is your enemy. But I want, brother wolf, to make peace between you and them, so that you will no longer offend them and they will forgive your past crimes, and neither men nor dogs will chase you any longer.”

As he finished saying these words, the wolf moved its body and tail and bowed its head to show that it had accepted the Saint’s proposal. Then St. Francis said: “Brother wolf, since you wish to accept and keep this peace, I promise you that the men of this land will always feed you while you live so that you will not be hungry, for I know well that it was out of hunger that you have done so many evils. But in granting you this great grace, I want you to promise me never to harm any man or animal. Do you promise this?”

The wolf, bowing its head, made an evident sign of agreement. Still not satisfied, St. Francis asked: “Brother wolf, I want you to give me a pledge of this promise, so that I can trust in it fully.” St. Francis extended his hand to receive the wolf’s pledge, and the wolf raised its right paw and meekly put it in St. Francis’ hand, giving him the requested guarantee.

Then St. Francis said: “Brother wolf, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ I command you to follow me without any fear, so that we may conclude this peace in the name of God.” And the wolf obediently followed him into the city as if it were a docile lamb. The townspeople marveled greatly at this, and the news spread quickly through the entire city so that everyone, men and women, great and small, young and old, went to the public square to see St. Francis with the wolf.

When all the people were gathered together there, St. Francis arose and preached to them with these words: “It is because of our sins that God permits calamities like this. Much more dangerous than the fury of a wolf, which can only kill the body, are the flames of Hell that will last eternally for those condemned. See how such a great multitude fears the mouth of a little animal, but you should fear the mouth of Hell much more. Make, sincere penance for your sins, therefore, and God will free you now from the wolf, and in the future from the infernal fire.”

St. Francis continued: “Listen to me, my brothers. Brother wolf, who is here before you, has promised and pledged to me to make peace with you and not offend you in anything as long as you promise to give it the food it needs each day. I offer myself as surety that it will strictly observe this pact.

All the people in unison promised to feed it always. And before all St. Francis said to the wolf: “Brother wolf, do you promise to observe with these people a pact of peace, offending neither any human creature nor his belongings?” The wolf knelt down and inclined its head, and with subdued movements of its body showed that it wanted to observe the entire pact.

But still St. Francis said: “Brother wolf, the same way you made your pledge to me outside the walls, I want you to give me assurance of your promise before all the people, that you will not deceive me about the surety I offer on your behalf.” Then the wolf, raising its right paw, put it in the hand of St. Francis.

After all this took place, there was such great joy and admiration among the entire people, both because of the virtue of the Saint and the novelty of the miracle, that all began to shout to Heaven, praising and thanking God for sending them St. Francis, who by his merits had freed them from the jaws of that ferocious beast.

After that, the said wolf lived two more years in Gubbio. It would enter docilely into the houses, going from door to door, without harming anyone and not being harmed by anyone. It was courteously fed by the people, and as it went about through the houses and city, no dog ever barked at it or chased it. When the worf died of old age after two years, all the townspeople mourned the loss greatly because in seeing it walking through the city so tame, they were better reminded of the virtue and charity of St. Francis of Assisi.

http://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/h023rp.FrancisWolf_OReilly.html


Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel

St Michael the Archangel

Resplendent intelligences, magnificent exponents of the infinite wisdom, power, and beauty of God; spiritual bodies, immortal, impassible, moving with a swiftness transcending that of light ; abiding in the immediate presence of God and radiant with the splendors shed over them by the Beatific Vision!

One moment of the silence born of awe then the full burst of praise, thanksgiving, adoration, from Archangels, Seraphim, Cherubim, Powers, Principalities; rank on rank, file on file, group weaving into group; hosannas mingling with alleluias, and the infinite sweetness of harmonious sounds has been born in heaven!

Such were the angels before a blast of defiance, as if there could be discord in heaven ? And, lo ! Lucifer, son of the morning, the most resplendent in all those ranks of shining ones, his place nearest to the Beatific Vision, its rainbows breaking over his wings, stands forth in open rebellion to his Maker, drawing with him a third part of the host of heaven. But that trumpet-blast is answered by a battle-cry : ” Who is like God? ” And Michael, next in beauty, next in majesty, leads his host against Lucifer, and Saint John tells us, in the Apocalypse,

…And there was a great battle in heaven : Michael and his angels fought with Lucifer and his angels ; but these last prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven.” Lucifer was cast forth, and with him his angels ; and hell sprang into being by the same creative word which had called forth, to bliss, the angelic hosts ; while, as a reward for their fidelity, Michael and his angels, having used their free-will on the side of God, were confirmed by Him in their perfection, to be thenceforth incapable of sin.

The Three Archangels and the Guardian Angels in Art
Eliza Allen Starr (1899)

Prayer in Honor  of The Holy Archangel Michael

HOLY Archangel Michael, glorious chief and champion of
the heavenly host, conqueror of the rebel angels, valiant
guardian of the souls of men, protector of the Church of God,
our worthy leader; vouchsafe to free us from every ill, aid us,
who have recourse to thee with full confidence, in all our necessities,
and by thy incomparable guidance and protection enable
us to make progress every day in the faithful service of our
Blessed Master, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Padre Pio’s Counsels

Padre Pio et ostie

 Some helpful spiritual counsels from the stigmatist Capuchin priest, Padre Pio.

Today (September 17) is the Commemoration of the Stigmata of St. Francis, wherein we remember the miraculous impression of the sacred Wounds of Christ upon the body of the great mystic—the first ever to receive this honor.

From one of St. Francis of Assisi’s friars minor, Padre Pio (also privileged to bear the stigmata), we offer a compilation of counsels that the saintly Capuchin would give to those who came for advice.

Common Sayings

Duty before everything else, even something holy.

Whenever necessary you must look without seeing, and see without thinking about it.

If Jesus reveals Himself, thank Him; if He hides Himself thank Him also. All is a pleasantry of His love.

Always do a little work. Work, therefore, and though you keep on advancing slowly, you will nevertheless go a long way.

Pray, hope and do not worry!

Only one thing is necessary: to lift up your spirit and love God.

The time best spent is that which is spent for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

Offset the Devil’s Work

Despise your temptations and do not dwell on them.

Walk in the way of the Lord with simplicity and do not torment your spirit.

Often kiss Jesus with affection and you will recompense Him for the sacrilegious kiss of the unfaithful Apostle, Judas.

The devil is like a rabid dog tied to a chain; beyond the length of the chain he cannot seize anyone. And you, keep your distance!

That which proceeds from God begins with a salutary fear and finishes with peace of mind. That which comes from Satan begins with calmness and ends in storm, indifference and apathy.

Devotions

When there is not time for both, meditation is to be preferred to vocal prayer, because it is more fruitful.

Don’t draw back, and worse still, don’t stop going up the Calvary of life. Jesus will extend His hand to steady you.

If you want to assist at Mass with devotion and with fruit, think of the Sorrowful Mother at the feet of Calvary.

Let us bind ourselves rightly to the Sorrowful Heart of our heavenly Mother and reflect on its boundless grief and how precious is our soul.

Be firm in your resolutions; stay in the ship in which I placed you and let the storm come. Long live Jesus! You will not perish.

Walk amid wind and waves, but with Jesus. If fear strongly grips you, exclaim with St. Peter: “O Lord, save me!” He will extend His hand to you. Seize it firmly and walk cheerfully.

http://sspx.org/en/news-events/news/counsels-padre-pio-4822


“In Dangers, in Doubts, in Difficulties …”

Queens, New York: October 30, 2012

“In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.”
-Saint Bernard of Clairvaux 

DEFEND us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, from all
dangers both of soul and body ; and, by the intercession
of the glorious and blessed Mary ever Virgin,
Mother of God, of blessed St. Joseph, of Thy holy Apostles
Peter and Paul,  and of all Thy Saints,
grant us, in Thy mercy, health and peace ; that all
adversities and errors being done away, Thy Church
may serve Thee with a pure and undisturbed devotion. Amen


Feast of Pope St. Pius X – September 3

In our time more than ever before, the chief strength of the wicked lies in the cowardice and weakness of good men… All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going weakness of Catholics. Oh! If I might ask the Divine Redeemer, as the prophet Zachary did in spirit: What are those wounds in the midst of Thy hands? The answer would not be doubtful: With these was I wounded in the house of them that loved Me. I was wounded by My friends, who did nothing to defend Me, and who, on every occasion, made themselves the accomplices of My adversaries. And this reproach can be leveled at the weak and timid Catholics of all countries. ~Pope St. Pius X, Discourse at the Beatification of St. Joan of Arc, Dec. 13, 1908

Pope St. Pius X,
POOR AND HUMBLE OF HEART
UNDAUNTED CHAMPION OF THE CATHOLIC FAITH
ZEALOUS TO RESTORE ALL THINGS IN CHRIST

St. Pius X, pray for us.


The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven


” Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed “-  Lk:1:48

THE Church teaches that twelve years after the Crucifixion, Mary gave up her sorrowful soul to God.  We believe that He of whom it has been said that He would not ” let this Holy One see corruption,” did not allow Our Lady’s body to remain in the grave, but admitted her at once into Heaven, where ever since she has pleaded powerfully on our behalf.

Non-Catholic Christians honestly believe that the worship they owe to Christ would be minimized by veneration of His Blessed Mother. In their desire to honor His Godhead, they forget His Manhood. They forget that no human being among the countless millions, who throughout the ages have inhabited this earth, has ever stood in a more intimate relation to their Creator than Mary, the Mother of Our Saviour.

From all eternity the Almighty had singled her out for the greatest honor ever conferred upon a created being. Through her it was that our Blessed Lord was given to us, to her care He was entrusted in childhood, she never ceased in her pure and selfless worship of Him, she kept all His sayings in her heart.

For thirty three years she was His daily companion; she, unlike the disciples, never betrayed Him, but remained with Him until the end at the foot of the Cross. Can we for one moment imagine that she can have been anything but most pure, most chaste, most patient, most lovable, most admirable?

We often judge the moral worth of men and women by their devotion to their mothers.  If human children are capable of the most intense love and devotion to their mothers, what must not the love and devotion of Jesus have been for His? Can we believe Him to have been less loving, less obedient, less devoted, than the most perfect son on earth?

We take it for granted that nothing could have exceeded Our Lord’s love and respect for His mother. Almost His last thought on the Cross was to provide for her, in leaving her in the care of His beloved disciple, St. John. In the person of “the disciple whom Jesus loved” He gave her to us all as a mother. Hear Mary herself: “All generations shall call me blessed.” Hear the Archangel from heaven, God’s own messenger, ” Thou art highly favored, thou hast found favor with God.”  Hear St. Elizabeth: “Blessed art thou among women!”

From the earliest times the Church has always given to Mary the most wholehearted devotion, the most profound respect, the most filial love. We believe her to be very powerful with God, and therefore have recourse to her in our troubles. She is our intercessor with God, our “Mother of good Counsel,” the” Comforter of the afflicted, and “the” Refuge of sinners.”

We should therefore strive to acquire a very special devotion for Our Lady, for the Church bids us to go to her, and if we do so, she will in time become most dear to us, and in very truth a Mother.

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners that we may learn to love and venerate thee as we should, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

THE CONVERT’S ROSARY
ALICE M. GARDINER
1913


Feast Day of St. Joseph, March 19, 2012

Behold a faithful and wise servant, whom the Lord hath set over His household.
V. Glory and riches shall be in his house.
R. And his justice endureth for ever and ever.

Happy and blessed art thou, O St. Joseph, to whom it was given, not only to see and to hear The God whom many kings desired to see and saw not and to hear and heard not;  but also to bear Him in thine arms, to embrace Him, to clothe Him, and to guard and defend Him.

Pray for us, O Blessed St. Joseph.


The Communion of Saints

Church Triumphant, Church Militant, Church Suffering

For as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office: so we being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.  ROM. xii. 4, 5 

Few other tenets of Catholic belief and practice have been combated by the religious revolutionists of the sixteenth century with such persistent violence as that Of “The Communion of the Saints “ yet few other tenets of Catholic belief and practice are so solidly grounded in Scripture and Tradition, or afford to the Christian soul so much sweetness of thought, so much hopefulness of life and action.

For ages the Apostles Creed reechoed through Christendom “ I believe in the “Communion of the Saints” and to this article of the Creed solemn significance was given in universal ritualistic observance. Suddenly all was changed. ”Justification by faith alone“; the vital, though most erroneous principle of the new religion, was the argument for the exclusion of all secondary or mediate intercession. The Saints, those on earth or those in Heaven, it was said, must be silenced. Intervention on their part is needless. It is injurious to the Saviour of Calvary. It indicates either in the Saviour insufficiency of power and merit, or in the believer insufficiency of personal appropriation of the fullness of salvation proffered by Him to mankind. Henceforward, the article in the Creed “I believe in the Communion of the Saints” “was to be a mere verbal expression, void of substantial meaning or living reality.

Much more that the Saints be once forever ejected from prerogatives and privileges heretofore accorded to them, war was waged against their names and memories, against things whatsoever that might recall them to the Christian mind, or suggest recognition of their deeds of holiness. The doctrine of “ The Communion of the Saints“ as interpreted and reduced to practice by the Catholic Church, before and after the so-called “Reformation” was distorted and calumniated to the end that seen only under a vile and blackened image, it be abominated the more cordially and buried the more deeply in abiding oblivion. The recognition of the Saints, as known in the Catholic Church, it was said, is rank superstition, degraded idolatry: to invoke their intercession, to venerate their virtues, to picture them in stone or on canvas, is the revival of olden paganism. Thus inaugurated, opposition to the Saints traveled down the centuries, though here and there somewhat shorn of its asperity as justice and common sense were allowed a hearing. The opposition lives to-day. Even to-day the Saints need to be defended. Misrepresentation must be denied, and truth set forth in its full armor of defense.

What is “The Communion of the Saints” It is the fellowship of mutual love and help among the sons of Christ, members of His mystic body, the Church, whether still battling for salvation on earth, or reigning in bliss in Heaven, or enduring for a time the cleansing fires of Purgatory. “There is no other name under Heaven given to man, whereby he must be saved “no other name than that of Jesus, Redeemer and Saviour. Jesus is sole Redeemer, sole Mediator, the sole One, capable of bringing God to man, and man to God this, certainly, the indubitable and uncontestable teaching of the Christian dispensation. None may doubt this teaching: none may set up, in doctrine or practice, aught to impair, in slightest iota, its over-mastering integrity. The supremacy of Jesus, as Redeemer and Saviour, was at all times the solemn asseveration of the Christian religion: it is to-day the solemn asseveration of the Catholic Church.

Whence, then, the intercessory function attributed to the Saints by the Catholic Church, clearly implied, the Church teaches, in the article of the Apostles Creed “I believe in the Communion of the Saints “? We answer: From the free-willed ordering of the Redeemer and Saviour Himself, due altogether to His love and merciful condescension.

In the Christian dispensation love is supreme. The whole dispensation had its birth in God s eternal love for mankind: its whole course through time was to be the outward effusion of this love. As one of the effects of this love, the Incarnate Word willed that men be united to Him in closest, most intimate bond, even to become, as it were, members of His own body : “Now” writes St. Paul, “you are the body of Christ, and members of member.” And, then, as the consequence of their union with Himself, He willed that they be united with one another, even to become members of one another: “So we being many are one body in Christ, and every one members one of an Other” And, further, in result of their mutual love, He ordered that they help one another: “That there might be no schism in the body, but the members might be mutually careful one for another”. Thence the privilege of the members to intercede one for an other. As a token of His love for His members, as an encouragement to them to love one another, He, the Head, authorizes the members to take, through petition, one for another graces from the divine treasury, and in this manner, in a degree otherwise impossible, to be mutually “careful one for another” “The Communion of the Saints” in its intercessory function, is one of the many beauteous blossomings of that mysterious love for mankind which bade the eternal Word from Heaven to Bethlehem, from Bethlehem to Calvary.

In the prerogative of intercession given to the members of the body of Christ no shadow is there of infringement upon the mediatorship of the one Saviour: no shadow of substitution of human for divine merit. The Saints offer prayers that through His love and mercy the merits of the Saviour be applied to fellow members of the same mystic body. When we address the Saints, we ask for their intercession. We say to them: “Pray for us”. Never to the Saints do we say: Grant us grace, grant us salvation. To grant grace and salvation is the privilege solely of Him who merited grace, who alone is entitled to dispose of it. Before Him the Saints are as having nothing: outside of Him the Saints, however high in favor, are power less of will and void of hand to help us.

But why in any manner bring the Saints into action? Why not at once mount to the Source of grace, and there without aid from other creatures take immediate draught from its all-copious flow? No absolute need, indeed, is there of the company of the Saints, when we present ourselves before the Great Mediator: to Him the road is always open: alone we may travel it: alone we often do travel it. Yet, there is a signal advantage in approaching Him hand in hand with fellow members of His mystic body. The Great Mediator is pleased when His members put into practice His man date that they love one another, that they be mutually “careful one of the other” And, then, our prayers for love and mercy reach the Throne of Grace, worthier and more compelling when mingled with the prayers of others, nearer and dearer to Jesus. Slight our personal value: poor and weak our claims upon the divine treasury. The prayers of the Saints united with our prayers, the deeds of the Saints are made ours. Not we, unworthy ones, who then pray, but those more beloved of God, whose titles to a hearing He more readily acknowledges.

Continue to Part II


Communion of Saints Part II

Church Triumphant, Church Militant, Church Suffering

What, again, “The Communion of the Saints” It is the veneration of the Saints the gift of honor to the celestial beauty resplendent in them, to the graces by which they are enriched in reward of sublime virtues put into practice, of noble deeds done in the service of the Sovereign Master.Again, misrepresentation and calumny. The veneration of the Saints, it was asserted, is a derogation in favor of the creature from the supreme worship due to the Creator a sacrilegious reaction from the monotheism of true religion to the polytheism of pre-Christian paganism.

God alone is Creator and Sovereign Master: to Him alone is given such adoration and worship, as would imply in its object supreme sovereignty. So far as the terms, adoration and worship, have come to mean the recognition of supreme sovereignty, adoration and worship ascend only to God. To think or to act other wise, were, indeed, idolatry, the reaction from Christian truth to pagan polytheism. But how far from this perverseness must we not account the veneration of the Saints, as it is believed and acted upon in the Catholic Church? In the Catholic Church the veneration of the Saints is nought else than the recognition of the sparklings of divine truth and goodness that constitute sainthood sparklings from the eternal Fount of all truth and all goodness, the eternal and Almighty God sparklings to be admired and revered as proceeding from God and imaging in the Saints God s own infinite essence. In its immediate object honor paid to the Saints is partial and secondary: in ultimate analysis its object is God Himself whom we honor, when, for His sake, we honor His servants and beneficiaries. The most exalted of the Saints, the Virgin Mary, receives veneration only because of the choice made of her to be the Mother of the Incarnate, and of the copious graces following upon this choice : “ For behold all generations shall call me blessed, because He that is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is His name” By the veneration of the Saints, nothing, assuredly, is taken from the supreme worship due to the Almighty God: rather, it is an ungracious and unwarranted shortening of that supreme worship, to refuse the honor of love and reverence to those whom God is delighted to honor, in whom glows resplendent the reflex of His power and mercy.

By Protestantism the Saints were bidden to depart from the life of Christendom. Their shrines were pillaged; their relics cast to the winds; their images forbidden in homes and public places; their names condemned to oblivion. Poor at once was the world of Protestantism in solaces and comforts of the supernatural life. To those who comprehend the teachings of the Catholic Church with regard to “The Communion of the Saints” and in mind and heart conform with it, there come sweetest joyousness and most precious inspiration.

We are made to live in society to be mutually helpful to one another in giving and in receiving. Solitariness is unbearable. It is written: “Woe to him that is alone; for when he falleth, he hath none to pick him up. “ In the natural order God created us one for the other; we are one to the other intermediaries of His gifts. Why were it different in the supernatural order? Why, there, where lie our dearest interests, where the best of our being finds its highest complement, should separateness be decreed, intercommunion of love and service forbidden?

Happily the truth remains: denials of men are powerless against the teachings of the Church of Christ. “The Communion of the Saints “remains. Death snatches from us our loved ones. Affrighted, we cry out: shall we not again know them, not again be known by them? Across the grave that hides their mortal remains, arises the voice of Christian faith: Death has not ravished them from you: only from bodily vision have they gone: their closeness, now the exclusive closeness of soul to soul, is intimate as never before. Through God s gracious love, souls on earth live amid souls in Heaven, amid souls in Purgatory; souls in Heaven help us by their prayers; souls in Purgatory are helped by ours. The gloom of the grave vanishes: “Death is swallowed up in victory: O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy Sting?”

The eyes of faith bear us through the portals of Paradise. There pass in glorious review the hosts of God s elect, men and women of every family of mankind, of every condition of human life, who, once, in all forms of circumstances, amid trials and temptations, held themselves pure and holy, and now, in reward of loyalty to the laws of the Sovereign Master, live in ever-ending bliss. What we are, they were: what they are, we are called to be, on the condition that to-day we be what yesterday they were. The Saints of Heaven are exemplars to be copied into our Lives; over and above this, they are helpers, ceaselessly invoking upon us divine blessings, ceaselessly offering to the Great Dispenser of grace their well-earned rewards in substitution for our coldness of heart and weakness of effort. This the joyousness of “The Communion of the Saints “this the stimulus from it so to live, so to battle and triumph, that we be to-day saints on earth, saints to-morrow in Heaven.

We are sons of our ideals. Tell me whom you admire, whom you love and speak of, and I will tell what you are. The nation portrays in statue and painting its great men, noted for prowess and unselfish civism: it seeks to create a posterity that will rival them in deeds of service. In like manner and for like reason the Church, intent on the sanctification of souls, on the upbuilding of God s Kingdom on earth, the mirror of God s Kingdom in Heaven, makes effort to enliven in the souls of its members the remembrance of its saints and heroes. Its loyalty to its saints and heroes proves it to earth and to Heaven: the doctrine of “The Communion of the Saints “responds to the deepest and truest instincts of human nature: it responds to the clearest teachings and traditions of divinely-given revelation.

As it is to-day in the Catholic Church with regard To “The Communion of the Saints” so it was through out all Christian ages. As it is to-day in Catholic temples, so it was in the Catacombs, the home of Christ s earliest martyrs and confessors. What the adornment of the rude tufa walls of the Catacombs? The Cross of Calvary, the Maid of Bethlehem and her divine infant, the Patriarchs of the Old Testament, the Apostles of the New. What the voice emerging from the brick or marble, closing the tombs of martyrs and confessors? The voice of prayer that the departed be in peace with God, that in Heaven they intercede for friends on earth. What see we in the Catholic temples of to-day? The Cross; statues and paintings of the Virgin Mother; statues and paintings of the Saints of one or of the other of the nineteen centuries of Christ s reign on earth. And what there hear we? First, chants of supreme adoration to Him, to whom alone supreme adoration is due, solemn intonations of sacrificial worship in honor of Him to whom alone sacrifice may be offered and, then, converse of love and reverence with the Saints of Heaven, humble supplication for solace to God s servants in Purgatory. Where in Christendom to-day would the martyrs and the confessors of the Catacombs be at home, were they now to revisit the earth? Assuredly, in the temples of the Catholic Church there and there only. The Catholic Church makes no alteration in its doctrines and practices no alteration in its doctrine and practices with regard to “The Communion of the Saints”

THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS
Rev. Charles F. McGinnis
1912

Back to Part I