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.
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,
Bishop of Salford.
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)
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.
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)
IMAGO SACRA MILLE GRATIARUM VALET (A holy picture is worth a thousand graces)
Sacramentals are religious objects that the Church gives us to increase our devotion. The two most common sacramentals are the Sign of the Cross and holy water, but the rosary, scapulars, holy cards, and statues are sacramentals, too. Through them, we keep our thoughts on God, thus obtaining grace. Baltimore Catechism No. 2 -Lesson Twenty-Seventh
The 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)
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.
G.K. Chesterton said that “Ideals are the most practical thing in the world.” This is why we still defend the family. This is why we insist on the ideal of marriage as a permanent union between one man and one woman, which creates the only proper setting for bringing new souls into the world, and that this purely natural act should not be interfered with.
The social trends have steadily moved in the opposite direction from this ideal in the last century. It is no longer a matter of a few loud critics getting a little testy at our quaint ideas of morality; we have gone past being attacked to being brazenly ignored. But if the society at large does not understand the moral arguments for the family, perhaps it will gain some appreciation for the practical arguments. And the recent bad news has been good news in this regard. Our arguments have been given a huge boost with the collapse of the world financial markets and the continuing economic fallout.
An economy built on massive lending and spending cannot be sustained. But the reason it cannot be sustained is not merely economic, it is moral. It regards material wealth as the ultimate goal, and people as merely a commodity to achieve that goal. It is selfish and therefore self-destructive.
An economy based on the family is self-sustaining. Its focus is on the nurturing and training of children and not on the mere acquisition of goods. The family ideal as defended by Chesterton is something quite different than the industrialized consumer family, where the family members leave the house each morning by the clock and on a strict schedule to pursue work and recreation and the majority of life outside the home. Chesterton’s ideal was the productive home with its creative kitchen, its busy workshop, its fruitful garden, and its central role in entertainment, education, and livelihood. Unlike the industrial home, life in a productive household is not amenable to scheduling and anything but predictable.
The only thing surprising about this ideal is that it was once shared by almost everyone. Children used to be considered an asset; at some point they began to be seen as a liability.
Chesterton saw the beginning of this problem when he noticed people preferring to buy amusements for themselves rather than to have children. He pointed out prophetically that children are a far better form of entertainment than electrical gadgets. The irony today is that the retailers that sell the electronic amusements are going out of business because there are not enough people to buy this merchandise.
But there is another worse problem why children are now considered a liability. They don’t merely make other material desires cost-prohibitive, they are cost-prohibitive themselves. They must be educated. The cost of educating them is obscene. A college education is the most overpriced product on the planet, and over-rated as well. Parents have the privilege of sacrificing nearly everything to send their children to college, only to have them get their heads filled with doubts and destructive ideas, undermining everything their parents have taught them.
But there are fewer parents because there are fewer children.
When social security was instituted, each retiree was supported by 15 workers. Now each retiree is supported by only three workers. Those of us who are still working spend 15% of our income to support those who aren’t working.
Our lack of domestic life is reflected in the fact that we don’t have a domestic economy. We don’t produce anything. We are suddenly watching massive layoffs, but the people being laying off (no offense to them) were not producing anything. They were either selling things, or sitting at desks and computer terminals, being paid with borrowed money, so that they could also go into debt. Now the financial center of the country has moved from New York to Washington, DC, as Gudge has passed the baton to Hudge,* who has promised that all the problems that were caused by too much borrowing will all be solved by even more borrowing.
But the younger generation cannot pay the older generation because we have committed demographic suicide. We are paying a high price not only for slaughtering our unborn children but for contracepting them. In fact, we have demonstrated that we cannot afford the high price.
We have seen the natural consequences of unnatural acts. We have witnessed a monumental economic disaster that is not the result of inflation or recession but of the devaluation of children.
Chesterton says that every high civilization decays by forgetting obvious things. The obvious things are the ordinary things, and we have forgotten them. The modern world that we have created has brought with it great strain and stress so that even the things that normal men have normally desired are no longer desirable: “marriage and fair ownership and worship and the mysterious worth of man.” Those are the normal and ordinary things. Those are the things we have lost, and we need to recover them.
“The disintegration of rational society,” says Chesterton, “started in the drift from the hearth and the family; the solution must be a drift back.”
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.