Saturday, August 19, 2017

100th Anniversary of the Fourth Fatima Apparition




On August 13, the day the fourth apparition was to take place, the seers were not at Cova da Iria.
They had been abducted by the mayor of Vila Nova de Ourém, who attempted to force from them the secret revealed in the apparition of July 13. The children held fast despite the mayor imprisoning them, and threatening to plunge them in boiling oil.

At Cova da Iria, thunder, followed by lightning, was heard at the usual time.
The spectators noticed a small white cloud that hovered over the holm oak for a few minutes. Phenomena of coloration were observed on the faces of the people, the clothing, the trees, and the ground.
Our Lady had certainly come, but she had not found the seers.
On August 19, at about four o'clock in the afternoon, Lucia was with Francisco and another cousin at Valinhos, a property belonging to one of her uncles, when the atmospheric changes that preceded the apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria began to occur: a sudden cooling of the temperature and a waning of the sun.
Feeling that something supernatural was approaching and enveloping them, Lucia sent for Jacinta, who arrived in time to see Our Lady appear – heralded as before by a bright light – over a holm oak slightly larger than the one at Cova da Iria.

Lucia: What does Your Grace wish of me?
Our Lady: I want you to continue to go to Cova da Iria on the thirteenth of each month and to continue to pray the Rosary every day. On the last month, I will perform the miracle for all to believe.
Then Our Lady’s face became more serious, and even upset.
Our Lady: If they had not taken you to Ourém, the miracle would have been even greater.
Lucia: What does Your Grace want done with the money that the people leave at Cova da Iria?
Our Lady: Have two portable stands made. You and Jacinta with two other girls dressed in white carry one of them, and let Francisco carry the other one with three other boys. The portable stands are for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The money that is left over should be contributed to the chapel that they shall build.
Lucia: I would like to ask you for the healing of some sick persons.
Our Lady: Yes, I will cure some during the year.
Becoming sadder, she recommended anew the practice of mortification, saying lastly, 'Pray, pray much, and sacrifice for sinners, for many souls go to hell because there is no one to sacrifice and pray for them.'
As usual, she then began to rise toward the east. The seers cut boughs off the tree over which Our Lady had appeared to them and took them home. The boughs gave off a uniquely sweet fragrance.




Read:  Fifth Apparition


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Why so many souls go to hell

Pray, pray much,
and make sacrifice for sinners,
for many souls go to hell
because there is no one to sacrifice and pray for them.

Our Lady to Lucia dos Santos

St. John Eudes

John Eudes was born in 1601 in the Norman village of Ri, France, to devout parents who consecrated him to the Holy Virgin. In 1615 he made a vow of chastity while he was studying with the Jesuits of Caen. On that occasion he consecrated himself to Mary, from which time he was notable for his fervent devotion to her.

Eudes left the Jesuits to enter the Congregation of the Oratory, founded by the famous Fr. Pierre de Berulle, who worked to re-establish orthodoxy of doctrine and sanctity of life among the clergy. John Eudes thought that the training of priests should also be a priority, so in 1643, he left the Oratory and founded the Society of Jesus and Mary to specialize in seminary education. The first seminary of the Eudists Fathers, as they became known, opened in Caen, shortly followed by many others.

In order to convert women of ill-fame and assist those who had converted from a wayward life, he founded another institution, the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity. He also instituted the parish mission to evangelize neglected souls. For many years, he preached to large crowds in churches or open fields, in the courts of nobles and the King. His sermons were renowned for his strong condemnation of the vices of his audience, the brilliant eloquence with which he delivered them and, above all, the eminent sanctity which shone forth from him and gave substance to all his words.
He spread the devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and was instrumental in procuring the Church’s approval of liturgical offices in Their honor. Always faithful to the Chair of Peter, he was persecuted by the Jansenists, whom he counter-attacked with energy.

He died on August 19, 1680, with the names of Jesus and Mary on his lips.

Friday, August 18, 2017

How to judge clothes

An excess of immodesty in fashion involves, in practice, the cut of the garment.
The garment must not be evaluated according to the estimation of
a decadent or already corrupt society,
but according to the aspirations of a society
which prizes the dignity and seriousness of its public attire.

Pope Pius XII

St. Helena of Constantinople

Helena was born about the middle of the third century on the Nicomedian Gulf. The daughter of a humble innkeeper, she became the lawful wife of the Roman general Constantius Chlorus and bore him a son, Constantine, in the year 274.

When Constantius became co-Regent of the West in 292, he forsook Helena to marry Theodora, the step-daughter of the Emperor Maximianus Herculius, his patron. But her son remained faithful and loyal to his mother. Upon the death of Constantius, in 308, Constantine, who succeeded him, summoned his mother to the imperial court, conferred upon her the title of Augusta, ordered that all honor should be paid her as the mother of the sovereign, and had coins struck bearing her effigy.

Her son’s influence caused Helena to embrace Christianity after his victory over Maxentius. From the time of her conversion she led an earnestly Christian life and by her own influence and generosity favored the wider spread of Christianity. She had many churches built in the West where the imperial court resided.

Despite her advanced age, in the year 324, at the age of sixty-three, she undertook a journey to Palestine where she had resolved to bring to God, the King of kings, the homage and tribute of her devotion. When she “had shown due veneration to the footsteps of the Savior,” she had two churches erected for the worship of God: one was raised in Bethlehem near the Grotto of the Nativity, the other on the Mount of the Ascension, near Jerusalem. She also embellished the sacred grotto with rich ornaments.

Everywhere she went, Helena Augusta visited churches with pious zeal and enriched them by her benevolence. Her generosity embraced not only individuals but entire communities. The poor and destitute were the special objects of her charity.

Her memory in Rome is chiefly identified with the church of S. Croce in Gerusalemme, built in honor of the true Cross. Also enshrined in the basilica are the other relics of the Passion of Our Lord which the Emperor’s mother had brought back to Rome from the Holy Land.

Constantine was with his mother when she died, at the advanced age of eighty years or thereabouts. This must have been about the year 330, for the last coins which are known to have been stamped with her name bore this date. Her body was brought to Constantinople and laid to rest in the imperial vault of the church of the Apostles. In 849, her remains were transferred to the Abbey of Hautvillers, in the French Archdiocese of Reims.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

When you feel the assaults of passion and anger

When you feel the assaults of passion and anger,
then is the time to be silent
as Jesus was silent
in the midst of His ignominies and sufferings.

St. Paul of the Cross

St. Beatriz da Silva

Beatriz de Menezes da Silva was one of eleven children of Rui Gomez da Silva, the first Magistrate of Campo Maior, on the border of Spain and Portugal, and of Isabel de Menezes, an illegitimate daughter of Dom Pedro de Menezes, the 1st Count of Vila Real and the 2nd Count of Viana do Alentejo, under whom Silva served in Ceuta. João de Menezes da Silva, better known as Blessed Amadeus of Portugal and a noted reformer of the Order of Friars Minor, was her brother.

In 1447 Beatriz accompanied the Princess Isabel of Portugal, to Castile as her lady-in-waiting when Isabel left to marry King John II of Castile and became Queen of Castile and León. Although they had been close friends, Beatriz's great beauty began to arouse the irrational jealousy of the Queen, who had Beatriz imprisoned in a tiny cell without food.

During her incarceration, Our Lady, attired in the blue and white habit of the Conceptionist Order, appeared to Beatriz and instructed her to found an order in her honor. With much difficulty, she finally escaped her imprisonment after three days and took refuge in the Dominican monastery of Toledo. Beatriz lived with the Dominicans for nearly forty years without becoming a member of the Order.

Queen Isabel was a frequent visitor during those years and was of great material assistance to her former lady-in-waiting in the foundation of the religious order in honor of the Immaculate Conception of Mary Most Holy. In 1484 Beatriz, with some companions, took possession of a monastery in Toledo deeded to their new community by Queen Isabel. The new religious order adopted the Cistercian Rule in 1489, bound themselves to the daily recitation of the Office of the Immaculate Conception and were placed under obedience to the Archdiocese of Toledo.
Beatriz da Silva died on August 9, 1492, ten days before the solemn inauguration of her new Order. She is buried in the first monastery given to the Conceptionists by Queen Isabel, the motherhouse of the Order in Toledo. In 1501, Pope Alexander VI placed the Conceptionists under the Rule of St. Clare and, in 1511, Pope Julius II granted them a Rule of their own.

Among Beatriz da Silva’s illustrious spiritual daughters are to be found two remarkable mystics: Madre Mariana de Jesús Torres y Berriochoa (c.1563-1635) to whom appeared Our Lady of Good Success and were given many revelations concerning the crisis in the Church in the twentieth century and the Venerable María de Jesús de Ágreda (1602-1665) author of the Mystical City of God.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

There will be consequences

One must live the way one thinks
or end up thinking
the way one has lived.

Paul Bourget

St. Stephen of Hungary

The first King of Hungary was born a pagan in 975, the son of the Hungarian chieftain Géza. Together with his father, he was baptized in 985 by St. Adalbert, the Archbishop of Prague, on which occasion he changed his heathen name Vaik (Vojk) to Stephen.

In 995, he married Gisela, a sister of Henry, the Duke of Bavaria, the future Emperor St. Henry II, and in 997 he succeeded his father as chief of the Hungarian Magyars.

In order to make Hungary a Christian nation and to establish himself more firmly as ruler, Stephen sent the Abbot Astricus to Rome to petition Pope Sylvester II for the royal dignity and the power to establish episcopal sees. The pope acceded to his wishes and, in addition, presented Stephen with a royal crown in recognition of his sovereignty.

The new King of the Hungarians endeavored above all to establish his nation on a sound moral foundation and to that end he suppressed blasphemy, murder, adultery and other public crimes, and established a feudal system throughout Hungary. To this day, King Stephen is universally recognized as the architect of the independent realm of Hungary.

He founded a monastery in Jerusalem and hospices for pilgrims at Rome, Ravenna, and Constantinople. A close friend of St. Bruno, he also corresponded with St. Odilo of Cluny. The last years of his life were embittered by illness and family troubles. When late in 1031 his only son, Emeric, lost his life on a bear hunt, his cherished hope of transferring the reins of government into the hands of a pious Christian prince were shattered.

During his lifetime a quarrel arose among his various nephews concerning the right of succession, and some of them even took part in a conspiracy against his life. He was buried beside his son at Stuhlweissenburg, and both were canonized together in 1083.
First Photo by: Andrzej Otrebski                                                                     Second Photo by: Granada Turnier

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

It was fitting...

"It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep
her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who
had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles.
It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live
in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross
and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had
escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father.
It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that
she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God."

Pope Pius XII—Definition of the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God."
"Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out with powerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges.

"Gathering together the testimonies of the Christians of earlier days, St. Robert Bellarmine exclaimed: 'And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the thought that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought him into the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes ... '"

Quotes above are taken from Pope Pius XII’s Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus defining the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Mary is the most perfect and most holy work of God

Mary is the most perfect and most holy work of God, for
as St. Bonaventure said,
God can create a greater and more perfect world,
but He cannot exalt a creature to higher dignity
than that to which He exalted Mary.

St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe

About the Feast of the Assumption




The Feast of the Assumption
The Feast of the Assumption

The Assumption was a beautiful favor God granted to His mother. It began when Our Lady, very suavely died. Her passing is customarily called Our Lady’s dormition because the grace with which she passed from this life and the short elapse before her resurrection, made her death seem more like a dream.After death, Our Lady resurrected, in imitation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. God then assumed her, body and soul, into Heaven, in the presence of the Apostles and many of the faithful.
The Assumption was a true glorification of Our Lady before the eyes of men and will remain so until the end of the world. Nevertheless, it was a mere foreshadowing of the glory she received in Heaven.
To benefit fully from this mystery, we will make a “composition of place,” according to the method of Saint Ignatius. Thus, we will imagine how the Assumption took place. In this, we are free to reconstruct the event as best conforms to our piety, because there are no detailed descriptions of it.

So we begin, imagining the Apostles, assembled before Our Lady’s body, on their knees in prayer. The presence of all the princes of the Church made the atmosphere ineffable, noble, sublime and recollected. Their countenances mimicked those found in the paintings of Fra Angelico.
The Feast of the Assumption
Fra Angelico’s artwork.


Meanwhile, the Angels in Heaven were slowly gathering and filling the celestial court. Their faces were also like those portrayed by Fra Angelico. Empyrean Heaven was filled with the most diverse, yet nuanced, colors that radiated in such a way, as to create a truly incomparable scene.
Certainly, things could have happened this way, for if Our Lady was able to fill the sky with such diverse colors during the miracle of the sun at Fatima, why could she not have filled Heaven with colors on the day of her Assumption?
Her soul descended to earth and reunited with her body, revivifying it. She then stood up, body and soul, as the respect and recollection of all those around increased. The physical similarity between her and Our Lord, as mother and Son, was more apparent than usual. Also present, the Savior stood, transfigured, before her and increasingly communicated Himself to her.
As a result, her majesty and queenliness increased together with her motherly kindness. Everything about her that was most intimate was supremely manifested at that moment.
Some Angels – perhaps the most splendid of Heaven – approached and began to lift her upwards. As she slowly rose, the skies were marvelously transformed, until little by little, they returned to their normal state and the witnesses dispersed with a sensation similar to what they had experienced when Our Lord ascended.

They were filled with reverence and awe. The event had shown them that Our Lady was greater than anything they had dared imagine. However, their admiration was already transfixed by deep longings for their motherly queen, who would no longer be with them.
The Feast of the Assumption
The Assumption was a true glorification of Our Lady before the eyes of men and will remain so until the end of the world. Nevertheless, it was a mere foreshadowing of the glory she received in Heaven.

Meanwhile in Heaven, Our Lady’s triumph was just beginning. The entire Church Triumphant received her, especially Saint Joseph. Our Lord welcomed her and the Holy Trinity crowned her as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
These two aspects show the glorification of Our Lady before the Church Triumphant and Militant. And what about the Church Suffering?
Certainly, the souls in Purgatory were also inundated with graces. It is not too audacious to suppose that the Queen of Heaven took most of them to Heaven that day. Thus, there was exuberance throughout the entire Church.
I believe something similar to this will be repeated at the onset of the Reign of Mary,1 prophesied by Saint Louis de Montfort, when we will see the world transformed and Our Lady’s glory shining on earth.

Her reign will begin with marvelous days of graces, the likes of which have seldom, if ever, been seen before. Our Lady’s magnificence must be thus projected before the eyes of men. To understand why, we need only think of the tremendous celebrations men have prepared for victorious war leaders throughout history.
For example: the enormous ticker tape parade given for General MacArthur in 1951 and the tremendous feasts the Romans prepared for victorious generals show that men understand that the glory of a conqueror must be made manifest.
Since Our Lord is infinitely more generous than men and Our Lady’s victory will be greater than that of any conqueror, He will certainly usher in her triumph in an immeasurably greater way than these celebrations. Her glory will shine before men like it did during the Assumption.
The Feast of the Assumption
The entire Church Triumphant received her, especially Saint Joseph. Our Lord welcomed her and the Holy Trinity crowned her as Queen of Heaven and Earth.

We should meditate on this as we approach the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption. We should also consider which virtue we should ask of her on this holy day. Certainly, everyone should ask for the virtue he most lacks. However, this does not prevent us from asking Our Lady for a sense of her glory and the understanding that everything in Creation represents her splendor.

Since she is the highest created expression of God, we should struggle to defend and strive to establish the highest possible expression of her spirit on earth. This will make us true knights and crusaders of Our Lady, struggling for her glory on earth. I believe this is the most proper virtue for which to ask on the feast of Our Lady’s Assumption.

The preceding text was taken from an informal lecture Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on August 14, 1965. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision. – Ed.

Footnotes

The great Marian saint spoke numerous times of a coming, worldwide rebirth of the Church and Christian civilization, which he called the “Reign of Mary.” Such a prediction fits perfectly with the promise Our Lady made at Fatima, when she said: “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will Triumph!”

St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe

The second son of pious parents, St. Maximilian Kolbe was born on January 8, 1894 at Zdunska Wola in Poland, which at that time was under Russian occupation. In Baptism he received the name of Raymond.

Seriousness and recollection marked his nature even as a child. One day, while correcting him, his mother chided him saying, “Son, I don’t know what is going to become of you!” This comment so impressed itself upon him that Raymond turned to Our Lady in prayer asking her the same question. The Virgin Mary appeared to him and presented him with two crowns, one of white roses, the other of red ones. She asked him if he were willing to accept either of them, explaining that the white one symbolized a life of perfect chastity and the red that he would die a martyr. The boy joyfully replied that he would accept both. For the rest of his life, Raymond preserved a strong and tender devotion for the Blessed Virgin who, time and time again, was to prove his unfailing intercessor and constant protector. His confidence in Our Lady was total.

Raymond Kolbe enrolled in the Franciscan minor seminary at Lwów in 1907 where he received the religious name of Maximilian. He professed his final vows in 1914 in Rome, at which time he adopted the additional name of Maria in honor of his devotion to the Blessed Virgin, whom he invoked under the title of “the Immaculata.” Ordained in 1918, he returned to Poland the following year with doctorates in theology and philosophy, but seriously ill with tuberculosis. His lectures and conversations during his year and a half in the sanatorium of Zakopane, where he was sent for his own recovery from the brink of death, became the catalyst of a number of conversions.

Friar Maximilian was an avid defender of Holy Mother Church and of the Holy Father. While still a seminarian in Rome, he organized the Militia of the Immaculata – a spiritual army explicitly founded to combat Communism and Freemasonry, which were taking hold in Russia and Europe, to work for the conversion of sinners and the enemies of the Catholic Church through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. He boldly launched into publishing as a means of apostolate and was soon running one of the largest publishing houses in the entire world that produced a daily newspaper, a monthly magazine, a calendar, and books on various topics, all printed in several languages. Radio was likewise utilized as a means of evangelization and to speak out against the growing atrocities of the Nazi regime.

In 1927 Maximilian Kolbe founded Niepokalanów, the “City of the Immaculata” where he fulfilled the office of superior until 1930. The next six years he spent as a missionary in Japan where he taught philosophy in the major seminary. There he also founded a second “City of the Immaculata” which became one of the great missionary centers in Japan. From 1936 until his death, he again served as superior in Niepokalanów, Poland. By 1939 the religious community there consisted of 762 friars and presented a considerable moral force in Poland on the very eve of the Second World War.

Maximilian Kolbe was arrested by the German Gestapo on February 17, 1941. He was transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp three months later. At the end of July, when three prisoners disappeared, ten men were picked to be starved to death in punishment and as a warning to anyone else who attempted to escape. Kolbe volunteered to take the place of one of the men who was a young husband and father.

While awaiting death, Maximilian helped prepare the souls of the condemned men and encouraged them by constant reminders that they would soon be in heaven. After two weeks of starvation and dehydration, he was the only one left alive and on August 14 the guards gave him a lethal injection of carbolic acid. His emaciated body was cremated on the feast of the Assumption of Mary.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How a country gains respect

He who is faithful to God
is faithful to his country and to his family,
and the more the fear of God animates the citizens of a country,
the greater and the more respected will the nation be.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus

Pontian was elected pope in 230 and reigned until the year 235. The schism of Hippolytus continued during his episcopate. Towards the end of his pontificate there was a reconciliation between the schismatic party and its leader with the Roman pontiff. After the condemnation of Origen at Alexandria, a synod was held by Pontian in Rome, which concurred in the decisions of the Alexandrian synod against Origen.

In 235 during the reign of Maximinus the Thracian a persecution directed chiefly against the heads of the Church began. One of its first victims was Pontian, who with Hippolytus was banished to the unhealthy island of Sardinia. To make the election of a new pope possible, Pope Pontian resigned his holy office on September 28, 235. Consequently, Anteros was elected in his stead but reigned for less than two months. Shortly before this or soon afterwards Hippolytus, who had been banished with Pontian, became reconciled to the Roman Church, and with this the schism he had caused came to an end.

How much longer Pontian endured the sufferings of exile and harsh treatment in the Sardinian mines is unknown. According to old and no longer existing accounts, he died in consequence of the privations and inhuman treatment he had to bear.

Pope Fabian (236-50), successor to Pope Anteros, had the remains of Pontian and Hippolytus brought to Rome at a later date and Pontian was buried in the papal crypt of the Catacomb of Callixtus.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

How to make all things easy

The reformation of the soul starts in
self-knowledge and confidence in God.
Our self-knowledge will let us know
we have many things to correct and reform

and that it cannot be done by our own efforts.
Confidence in God will let us hope in Him, know that we can do all in Him,
and that with His grace all things are possible and easy.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal

St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Born at Dijon in France in 1572, Jane was very pious and religious from a very young age. In 1592 she married the Baron de Chantal, who inherited many debts along with his title. Despite the early financial worries, she and her husband were devoted to each other and to their four children. She restored order in the household, which was on the brink of ruin, and was generous with the little she had by allowing the poor to visit her home for food. Often people who had just received food from her would pretend to leave, go around the house and get back in line for more. When asked why she let them get away with this, she replied, "What if God turned me away when I came back to him again and again with the same request?"

In 1601, the Baron was accidentally killed while hunting. It was said he forgave the man who shot him before he died. Left a widow with four young children at the age of twenty-eight, Jane took a vow of chastity and begged God to send her a spiritual guide. In a vision, God showed her the one He had intended for this very purpose. During Lent in the year 1604, while visiting her father in Dijon, the young widow recognized the orator preaching the sermon as the mysterious director who had been shown to her, and placed herself under his guidance. Francis de Sales was the Bishop of Geneva and later co-founded the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary with her.

St. Francis de Sales’ method of attaining perfection consisted in always keeping one’s will united to the Divine will, in taking so to speak one’s soul, heart, and longings into one’s hands and giving them into God’s keeping, and in seeking always to do what is pleasing to Him.

The Order of the Visitation was founded in 1610 for those women desirous of seeking perfection but unable to subject themselves to the austere practices of penance and mortification in force in all the religious orders at the time.

Often sought after for spiritual counsel, Mother de Chantal would frequently advise: "Should you fall even fifty times a day, never on any account should that surprise or worry you, instead, ever so gently set your heart back in the right direction and practice the opposite virtue, all the while speaking words of love and trust to Our Lord after you have committed a thousand faults, as much as if you had committed only one. Once we have humbled ourselves for the faults which God allows us to become aware of in ourselves; we must forget them and go forward."

Jane Frances de Chantal died in 1641 at sixty-nine years of age and was canonized in 1767.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Endurance demands faith

Gladly endure whatever goes against you
and do not let good fortune lift you up: for
the latter destroys faith, while the former demands it.

St. Clare of Assisi

St. Clare of Assisi (Feast: August 11)


Once, during an enemy attack against Assisi, the fierce Saracens invaded San Damiano, entered the confines of the monastery and even the very cloister.
Fainting in terror, their voices trembling with fear, they cried out to their Mother, Saint Clare. What happened next was recorded by the Franciscan friar, Tommaso da Celano:
“Saint Clare, with a fearless heart, commanded them to lead her, sick as she was, to the enemy, preceded by a silver and ivory case in which the Body of the Saint of saints was kept with great devotion.
And prostrating herself before the Lord, she spoke tearfully to her Christ: ‘Behold, my Lord, is it possible You want to deliver into the hands of pagans Your defenseless handmaids, whom I have taught out of love for You? I pray You, Lord, protect these Your handmaids whom I cannot now save by myself.’
Suddenly a voice like that of a child resounded in her ears from the tabernacle: ‘I will always protect you!’ ‘My Lord,’ she added, ‘if it is Your wish, protect also this city which is sustained by Your love.’ Christ replied, ‘It will have to undergo trials, but it will be defended by My protection.’
Then the virgin, raising a face bathed in tears, comforted the sisters: ‘I assure you, daughters, that you will suffer no evil; only have faith in Christ.’ Upon seeing the courage of the sisters, the Saracens took flight and fled back over the walls they had scaled, unnerved by the strength of she who prayed.
And Clare immediately admonished those who heard the voice I spoke of above, telling them severely: ‘Take care not to tell anyone about that voice while I am still alive, dearest daughters.’”
The miracles performed during her life by this first spiritual daughter of St. Francis were indeed numerous. Her confidence in her divine Spouse was total and unconditional. Having once renounced all earthly possessions for love of Him, she tenaciously thwarted every attempt – even by several well-meaning popes – to mitigate the absolute poverty she and her religious sisters had so willingly embraced.
After St. Francis’ death in 1226 and until her own in 1253, Clare continued to hold fast to the counsels St. Francis had given her and to direct the order in the true spirit of its founder: total renunciation of all earthly possessions and an unconquerable faith and confidence in Divine Providence.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

This is worth more than all the knowledge in the world

There is more value in a little study of humility
and in a single act of it
than in all the knowledge in the world.

St. Teresa of Avila

St. Lawrence Martyr

St. Lawrence, one of the deacons of the Roman Church, was one of the victims of the persecution of Valerian in 258, like Pope Sixtus II and many other members of the Roman clergy. At the beginning of the month of August, in the year 258, the Roman emperor issued an edict, commanding that all bishops, priests, and deacons should be put to death. This imperial command was immediately carried out in the city of Rome. On the 6th Pope Sixtus II was apprehended in one of the catacombs, and executed without delay. As he was led to execution, Lawrence followed him. “Father, where are you going without your deacon?" he said. "I am not leaving you, my son," answered the Pope, "in three days you will follow me." Two other deacons, Felicissimus and Agapitus, were put to death the same day. Three days later, on the 10th of August of that same year, Lawrence, the last of the seven deacons, also suffered a martyr’s death.

St. Ambrose of Milan and the poet Prudentius, give particular details about St. Lawrence’s death. Ambrose relates that when St. Lawrence was asked to bring forth the treasures of the Church he hastily traveled throughout the city, gathering the poor. On the third day, he brought them to the prefect, who believed the Church had treasure hidden away, and said, “These are the treasures of the Church." The disappointed prefect angrily condemned Lawrence to death. The saint was stripped of his clothing and tied on top of a gird-iron over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little. Defiant in spite of his intense suffering, the holy deacon audaciously commanded his executioners “Turn me over. That side is cooked.” The holy audacity of this deacon-martyr inspires noble souls until today.

St. Lawrence is considered one of the most venerated martyrs of the Catholic Church since the fourth century.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

If you want to be always in God's company, pray and read

Prayer purifies us,
reading instructs us …
If a man wants to be always in God’s company,
he must pray regularly and read regularly.
When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us.

St. Isidore of Seville

Bl. Amadeus of Portugal

João Mendes da Silva, better known as the Blessed Amadeus of Portugal, was born in 1420 in Campo Maior on the eastern side of the country. The youngest son of twelve children, he was closely related to the Counts of Vila Real and Viana do Alentejo, whose lands lay near the border of Portugal and Spain. St. Beatriz da Silva, the foundress of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, was one of his sisters, and a strong devotion to this prerogative of Our Lady – centuries before it was defined as a dogma – was a profound spiritual characteristic they both shared.

João was married very young, but soon after entered the Hieronymite monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe in Spain, where he spent about ten years. Inspired by a vision of the Immaculate Conception of Mary Most Holy to join the Franciscans, he sought admission to their friary in Ubeda in Lombardy where he entered as a lay brother in 1452 and took the name of Amadeus.

Initially not well received by his confreres, some of whom took him for a religious fraud, he was widely persecuted within the Order bearing all the humiliations inflicted upon him with great patience. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1459 at the insistence of his superiors. Amadeus subsequently became renowned throughout the houses of the Order for his holiness and miracles.

In 1469, he founded the Friary of Notre Dame de la Paix under the protection of the Archbishop of Milan. This friary soon became the center of a Franciscan reform which eventually spread throughout Italy and beyond. When the Minister General of the Franciscan Order, Francesco della Rovere, was elected to the throne of Peter as Pope Sixtus IV, he summoned Amadeus to Rome to be his confessor and counselor.

The reform of the Franciscan Order begun by St. Amadeus led to his founding of a distinct branch of the Friars Minor which was ultimately named after him. Amadeus later returned to Milan, where he died in 1482.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Love? Or selfishness?

What a weakness it is to love Jesus Christ
only when He caresses us,
and to be cold immediately once He afflicts us.
This is not true love.
Those who love thus love themselves too much
to love God with all their heart.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. Dominic de Guzman

Dominic was born in 1170 in Castile, Spain, to Felix Guzman and Joan of Aza (who later became a blessed). He was sent to school in Palencia when he was fourteen, and while he was still a student, was made Canon of the Cathedral of Osma. He went on to complete his studies and was ordained a priest, taking up his role at Osma.

Around the year 1204, Dominic accompanied the bishop of Osma to Denmark. Their travels took them through Languedoc, in southern France, where the Albigensian heresy, the belief that the body is evil, was rampant. The host at an inn where they stopped was an Albigensian. Dominic spent a whole night in discussion with him and by morning he had converted the innkeeper. That is when Dominic saw his true vocation in spreading and defending the Catholic Faith.

With papal permission, Dominic spent nearly ten years preaching in France with a small group of men living under the rule of St. Augustine. Then, in the year 1216, his small group became a community: the Order of Preachers. Dominic sent his followers far and wide, establishing friaries in Spain, France and Italy.

Dominic became ill and died in 1221 at the age of fifty-two.

Monday, August 7, 2017

When we fall...

One may fall,
one may not be always faithful;
but Love, knowing how to draw profit from all,
very quickly consumes whatever may displease Jesus, leaving nothing
but profound and humble peace in the depths of the soul.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

St. Cajetan

Cajetan was born in 1480 in Vicenza, Italy to Caspar, the Count of Thiene and Mary di Porto, both members of the nobility of Vicenza. He educated himself in theology and Cannon Law, and in 1516, was ordained a priest. He joined the Oratory of Divine Love in Rome, a group devoted to piety and charity, shortly after his ordination. He returned to Vicenza in 1528 and joined a religious order similar to the Oratory of Divine Love, but consisting only of men of the lowest stations of life. He sought out the sick and poor and served them.

In 1524 Cajetan was part of a group of holy men who strived to reform the Church, which was in moral chaos at that time. He and three other men made their profession in the presence of a papal delegate and named their congregation The Theatine Clerks Regular.

Cajetan died in 1547, after a life of service to the Catholic Church and to the poor. He was canonized in 1671.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Why did Jesus show Himself transfigured?

He led them up the mountain and showed them
His kingship before His passion, and His power before His death,
His glory before His disgrace, and His honor before His dishonor, so that,
when He was arrested and crucified by the Jews,
they might know that He was not crucified through weakness,
but willingly by His good pleasure
for the salvation of the world.

St. Ephrem the Syrian

Transfiguration of Our Lord



"And after six days Jesus took Peter and James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain apart. And He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here.

If Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for Thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him.
And the disciples hearing this, fell upon their faces, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them and said to them, Arise, and fear not. And they lifting up their eyes saw no one but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man is risen from the dead." (Matthew 17:1-6)
The feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord celebrates the revelation of Christ's divinity on Mount Tabor in Galilee (Mark 9:1-8; Luke 9:28-36).
By drawing aside the veil that hid the splendor of His divine nature from their physical sight, Our Lord desired to strengthen them spiritually for the suffering of His upcoming Passion and Death.
Just as His humanity cloaked His divinity while He walked the earth, so now in the Holy Eucharist, both His humanity and His divinity are hidden from our earthly sight. Veiled under the appearance of bread and wine is the same Lord and God that was transfigured before the astonished gaze of Peter, James and John on the heights of Mount Tabor.



Saturday, August 5, 2017

When? Where?

To the servant of God
… every place is the right place,
and every time is the right time.

St. Catherine of Siena

Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major

Santa Maria Maggiore or St. Mary Major is the largest church in the world honoring the Virgin Mary and was erected in the immediate aftermath of the Council of Ephesus of 431, which proclaimed Mary Mother of God.
Standing atop one of Rome’s seven hills, the Esquiline, it is also called Santa Maria ad Nives, or "at the snow." It is said that the Mother of God chose this location for a church dedicated in her honor by a miraculous snow that fell upon this spot in summer. Legend has it a rich and pious Roman senator and his wife thought of donating their money and properties to the Church. That night, in August of 358, Our Lady appeared in the dreams of the senator and Pope Liberius asking them to build her a basilica in the exact place where snow would fall that night. Since then, Our Lady has been venerated in Italy as “Our Lady of the Snow.”

The basilica is also home to a few remnants of the humble crib in which Christ was laid at His birth. These pieces of the manger were carried to Rome by Christians fleeing the Muslim conquest of the Holy Land in the 7th century. They are preserved in a silver reliquary resembling an ordinary manger, upon which lies an image of the Infant Jesus. The Holy Crib is the object of particular devotion and veneration during the liturgical ceremonies of Christmas Eve and Midnight Mass. On Christmas morning there is a procession in honor of the Holy Crib of the Infant Jesus, which culminates in the exposition of the sacred relic on the high altar.

Another venerable treasure of Santa Maria Maggiore is the icon of Our Lady under the invocation of  "Salus Populi Romani," literally translated as "health (or salvation) of the Roman people." According to tradition, this image of Mary embracing Jesus as a young boy was the work of the evangelist St. Luke, who painted it on a tabletop made by Our Lord himself in St. Joseph's carpentry shop. This miraculous icon has been carried in processions around Rome on many occasions. In 593 the newly-elected Pope St. Gregory the Great had the icon carried in public procession through the streets of Rome praying for an end to the Black Plague. Pope St. Pius V followed his example in 1571 to pray for victory during the Battle of Lepanto, as did Pope Gregory XVI in 1837 to pray for the end of the cholera epidemic.
Second Photo by: Fczarnowski

Friday, August 4, 2017

First Saturday Devotion



The Five First Saturdays devotion is one of the principal points of the Fatima message. It centers on the urgent need for mankind to offer reparation and expiate for the many injuries that the Immaculate Heart of Mary suffers from the hands of both impious and indifferent men.



On the First Saturday during 5 Consecutive Months, the Devotion consists of:
1. Going to Confession,
2. Receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion,
3. Saying five decades of the Rosary,
4. Meditating for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary.
All this offered in REPARATION for the sins of blasphemy and ingratitude committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 

History
During the third apparition on July 13, 1917, Our Lady revealed that she would come to ask for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart and for the Communion of Reparation of the Five First Saturdays. Consequently, she asked for the devotion in 1925 and the consecration in 1929.
While staying at the House of the Dorothean Sister in Pontevedra, Portugal, Sister Lucia received a vision on December 10, 1925 where the Blessed Mother appeared alongside a Boy who stood over a luminous cloud. Our Lady rested one hand on the Boy’s shoulder while she held on the other hand a heart pierced with thorns around it.
Sister Lucia heard the Boy say, "Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother which is covered with thorns with which ingrate men pierce it at every moment with no one to make an act of reparation to pull them out."
Our Lady expressed her request in the following words,
"See, my daughter, My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ingrates pierce me at every moment with blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, make sure to console me and announce that all those who for five months, on the first Saturdays, go to confession, receive Communion, say five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to Me, I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls."
A few days afterward, Sister Lucia detailed this vision in a letter addressed to Monsignor Manuel Pereira Lopes, her confessor when she resided in the Asylum of Vilar in the city of Oporto, Portugal.

Why Five Saturdays?     
Sister Lucia’s confessor questioned her about the reason for the five Saturdays asking why not seven or nine. She answered him in a letter dated June 12, 1930. In it she related about a vision she had of Our Lord while staying in the convent chapel part of the night of the twenty-ninth to the thirtieth of the month of May, 1930. The reasons Our Lord gave were as follows:
The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They are:
  a.    Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception
  b.    Blasphemies against her virginity
  c.    Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men
  d.    Instilling , indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children
  e.    Direct insults against Her sacred images
Let us keep the above reasons firmly in our minds. Devotions have intentions attached to them and knowing them adds merit and weight to the practice.

1st Five Saturdays Devotion Card Banner

Modifications to the Five First Saturdays Devotion to facilitate its observation
The original request of Our Lady asks one to confess and receive Communion on five consecutive first Saturdays; to say five decades of the Rosary; to meditate during 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary for the purpose of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in reparation for the sins of men.
In subsequent private visions and apparitions however, Sister Lucia presented to Our Lord the difficulties that devotees encountered in fulfilling some conditions. With loving condescension and solicitude, Our Lord deigned to relax the rules to make this devotion easy to observe:
  • Confession may be done on other days other than the First Saturdays so long as one receives Our Lord worthily and has the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  • Even if one forgets to make the intention, it may be done on the next confession, taking advantage of the first occasion to go to confession.
  • Sister Lucia also clarified that it is not necessary to meditate on ALL mysteries of the Rosary on each First Saturdays. One or several suffice.
With much latitude granted by Our Lord Himself, there is no reason for the faithful to hesitate or delay this pious practice in the spirit of reparation which the Immaculate Heart of Mary urgently asks.

This devotion is so necessary in our days
The culture of vice and sin remains unabated even as one reads this. Abortion, blasphemy, drug abuse, pornography, divorce and bad marriages, religious indifference, the advances of the homosexual agenda and others are just some of society’s many plagues that cut deeply into the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
We must console Our Lady amidst all these insults and injuries to her and her Divine Son. She asks for reparation, she pleads for our prayers, she hopes for our amendment of life. Let us listen to her maternal pleas and atone for the ingratitude of men.
The First Five Saturdays devotion stimulates the spirit of reparation; it instills a tender love for the Holy Sacraments of Confession and the Blessed Eucharist. It nurtures a holy affection for the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Rosary. Above all, it is an excellent means to maintain one in the state of grace while immersed in the daily spiritual battles and prosaic existence in the neo-pagan world that we live in.
Let us not delay in observing this devotion for it too gives us hope for eternal salvation.


REFERENCE:
Solimeo, Luiz Sergio, Fatima, A Message More Urgent than Ever 
(Spring Grove, PA: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property-TFP, 2008.)
  
1st Five Saturdays Devotion Card Banner

Also Read:

How to draw down the blessing of Heaven on yourself and on all you do

Before beginning your work, my dear brethren,
never fail to make the Sign of the Cross …
Offer quite simply all your difficulties to God
and renew from time to time this offering, for by that means
you will have the happiness of drawing down the blessing of Heaven
on yourself and on all you do.

St. John Mary Vianney

St. John Mary Vianney

John Vianney was born in France in 1786, just three years before the beginning of the French Revolution. He grew up assisting a local priest offer the holy mass in secret, as religious persecution forced many of the Vianneys and other Catholics into hiding.

At eighteen, John realized his vocation to the priesthood. Two years later he began studying in preparation for holy orders, but studying did not come easily to him. Instead of becoming a priest, he was drafted into the army in 1809. Soon after, he found himself an accidental deserter: he was tricked by some fellow soldiers into abandoning his unit. He immediately reported to the mayor of the commune, who advised him to remain in hiding. John lived dangerously, often narrowly escaping capture by concealing himself in hay bales. He returned home fourteen months later when the king proclaimed an amnesty for all defectors.

In 1815, after much hardship in his studies, John was ordained a deacon, then a priest. In 1818 he was given care of a dilapidated parish in a remote part of France called Ars-en-Dombes. The 230 parishioners in Ars had become lax in their faith, and John preached relentlessly to them for twenty-five years about the importance of practicing modesty, avoiding blasphemy, profanity and obscenity, and unlawful work on Sunday. Not only did Ars become a model Christian town, but his influence reached far beyond the confines of the country village.

He remained at Ars for a total of forty-one years. The year before he died, over 100,000 pilgrims visited Ars to see the holy man, who had become known as the Cure of Ars. His three attempts to escape to live in the quiet seclusion of a monastery failed, and he died at Ars in 1859.

John was canonized in 1925 by Pius XI. Four years later, the same pope named him patron saint of parish priests throughout the world.
Second Photo by Herwig Reidlinger

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Tomorrow is First Friday



“I promise you, in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the first Friday for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance; they shall not die in my disgrace nor without receiving the sacraments; my divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in that last moment.”  Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary

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


ACT OF REPARATION TO THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
Sacred Heart of Jesus, animated with a desire to repair the outrages unceasingly offered to Thee, we prostrate before Thy throne of mercy, and in the name of all mankind, pledge our love and fidelity to Thee!
The more Thy mysteries are blasphemed, the more firmly we shall believe them, O Sacred Heart of Jesus!
The more impiety endeavors to extinguish our hopes of immortality, the more we shall trust in Thy Heart, sole hope of mankind!
The more hearts resist Thy Divine attractions, the more we shall love Thee, O infinitely amiable Heart of Jesus!
The more unbelief attacks Thy Divinity, the more humbly and profoundly we shall adore It, O Divine Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy holy laws are transgressed and ignored, the more we shall delight to observe them, O most holy Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Sacraments are despised and abandoned, the more frequently we shall receive them with love and reverence, O most liberal Heart of Jesus!
The more the imitation of Thy virtues is neglected and forgotten, the more we shall endeavor to practice them, O Heart of Jesus, model of every virtue!
The more the devil labors to destroy souls, the more we shall be inflamed with desire to save them, O Heart of Jesus, zealous Lover of souls!
The more sin and impurity destroy the image of God in man, the more we shall try by purity of life to be a living temple of the Holy Spirit, O Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Holy Church is despised, the more we shall endeavor to be her faithful children, O Sweet Heart of Jesus!
The more Thy Vicar on earth is persecuted, the more we will honor him as the infallible head of Thy Holy Church, show our fidelity and pray for him, O kingly Heart of Jesus!
O Sacred Heart, through Thy powerful grace, may we become Thy apostles in the midst of a corrupted world, and be Thy crown in the kingdom of heaven.  Amen.

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



 
Sacred Heart Devotional Set

Also Read:

How does Jesus relieve and comfort you?

Jesus who cannot suffer long to keep you in affliction
will come to relieve and comfort you
by infusing fresh courage into your soul.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

St. Waltheof of Melrose

Waltheof was born of English nobility. The son of Simon, the Earl of Huntingdon, and Maud, the grand-niece of William the Conqueror, he was also the grandson of Saint Waldef of Northumbria. As a child, Waltheof felt drawn to churches and the religious life. Following his father's death, he, and his mother and brother moved to Scotland where Maud married King David I. As part of the royal court, he was educated and became a spiritual student of St. Aelred.

Following his long-held inclination to contemplation and desiring to dedicate himself entirely to God, Waltheof left Scotland and traveled to Yorkshire to join the Augustinian Canons at the monastery at Nostell. He was soon chosen as prior, and led the monks in a more austere rule. Some time later, Waltheof left Nostell for the more austere life of the Cistercian monks.
Four years after receiving the Cistercian habit, he was nominated as abbot of Melrose, a newly established monastery. Then, in 1154, he was chosen as the new Archbishop of St. Andrews, but in his humility, he begged St. Aelred to oppose the election and not oblige him to accept.

Waltheof died in 1160 of old age. It has been said that he strove so greatly for perfection, that his confessors often found him irksome.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What is the state of grace?

The state of grace is nothing other than purity,
and it gives heaven to those who clothe themselves in it.
Holiness, therefore, is simply the state of grace
purified, illuminated, beautified by the most perfect purity,
exempt not only from mortal sin but also from the smallest faults.
Purity will make saints of you!
Everything lies in this.

St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Eusebius of Vercelli

Eusebius was born on the island of Sardinia where his father died a martyr. His mother took him and his sister to live in Rome where Eusebius eventually joined the clergy and was ordained a lector. He was sent to Vercelli and served the Church so well there that he was chosen as its bishop. He is the first bishop of Vercelli whose name was recorded.

In 354 he was sent by Pope Liberius to persuade the Emperor Constantius to call a council to settle Catholic-Arian disputes. When it was called at Milan, Eusebius went reluctantly, sensing that the Arians would have their way. He refused to go along with the condemnation of Saint Athanasius, who’s  refusal to tolerate Arian heresy was the cause of many trials and persecutions. Eusebius insisted on Athanasius’ innocence and reminded the emperor that secular force should not be used to influence Church decisions. At first the emperor threatened to kill him, but later sent him into exile in Palestine. There the Arians dragged him through the streets and shut him up in a little room, releasing him only after Eusebius undertook a four-day hunger strike. They soon resumed their harassment.

His exile continued in Asia Minor and Egypt, until the new emperor permitted him to return to his see in Vercelli. He died in 371.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

For God and for His glory

As soon as she [Mary] had the use of reason, that is, from the first moment
of her immaculate conception in the womb of St. Anne, from that time
she began with all her powers to love her God; and thus she continued to do,
ever advancing more in perfection and love through her whole life.
All her thoughts, her desires, her affections, were wholly given to God;
not a word, not a motion, not a glance of the eye, not a breath of hers that was not
for God and for His glory, never departing one step,
nor separating herself for one moment

from the divine love.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

Alphonsus was born in 1696 near Naples, Italy, to a naval officer and his Spanish wife. Educated at the University of Naples, Alphonsus received his doctorate at the age of sixteen. By nineteen he was practicing law, but he decided to give his life to God and left the practice to do apostolate.

On December 21, 1726, Alphonsus was ordained a priest. He spent six years doing apostolate throughout Naples, gathering followers as he went. In 1732, he formed the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, a group comprised of priests and brothers who had dedicated themselves to God and did missionary work in poor areas. By 1749 the congregation became officially approved by Pope Benedict XIV.

In 1762, Alphonsus became bishop of Naples, although he vigorously tried to decline the honor. As bishop he immediately began to reform his diocese. For thirteen years Alphonsus fed the poor, reorganized the seminary and religious houses, taught theology, and wrote extensively. His personal austerities were rigorous, while he daily endured the severe pain from the rheumatism that was beginning to deform his body. He spent several years having to drink from tubes because his head was so bent forward.

In 1780, Alphonsus was tricked into signing a submission for royal approval of his congregation. This submission altered the original rule, and as a result Alphonsus was denied any authority among the Redemptorists.
Deposed and excluded from his own congregation, Alphonsus suffered great anguish. He died in 1787 at Nocera di Pagani near Naples.  He was beatified in 1816 and canonized in 1839. In 1871, Alphonsus was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX.

Monday, July 31, 2017

How to go to sleep more cheerful and pleased

Do not let any occasion of gaining merit
pass without taking care to draw some spiritual profit from it; as,
for example, from a sharp word which someone may say to you;
from an act of obedience imposed against your will;
from an opportunity which may occur to humble yourself,
or to practice charity, sweetness, and patience.
All of these occasions are gain for you, and you should seek to procure them; and
at the close of that day, when the greatest number of them have come to you,
you should go to rest most cheerful and pleased …

St. Ignatius Loyola

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Inigo de Loyola was born in 1491 in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa in northern Spain. Of the noble family of Loyola, as a boy he was sent as a page to serve the treasurer of the kingdom. There, he had access to court and developed a taste for all its ways, including the ladies.

Intelligent, of a fiery temperament and handsome, Inigo, or Ignatius, harbored dreams of romance and worldly conquests. He was addicted to gambling, and wasn’t above sword play, once getting into serious trouble.

At age thirty we find him a soldier defending the fortress of Pamplona against the French. Hugely outnumbered, the Spanish commander wished to surrender but Ignatius egged him to fight on. As the fight continued, Ignatius’ leg was fractured by a canon shot. Honoring his courage, the French allowed him to be treated at his castle of Loyola rather than in prison.

After enduring an operation without anesthetics, it was found that there was a bone protruding from under his knee. The thought of not being able to wear the slimming leggings of the time was unendurable, so he had doctors saw off the bone – without anesthetics. Still, he always limped as one leg remained shorter than the other.

Convalescing, he asked for romance novels, but was given to read the only books in the castle: a life of Christ and lives of the saints. As he begrudgingly picked up the volumes, he began to notice that while his thoughts of romance and fantasy left him restless and agitated, these books gave him peace and a sense of true accomplishment and well-being.  Slowly moved by what he read, he made a powerful conversion.

Shedding his fineries and donning a poor habit, he ultimately came to the cave of Manresa by a river where he stayed for ten months. Here, he had a powerful revelation, an experience of God as He really is so that he now looked at all of creation in a new light – an experience that allowed Ignatius to find God in all things – one of the central characteristics of Jesuit spirituality. It was in the seclusion of Manresa that ideas for his famous Spiritual Exercises began to take shape.

After a trip to the Holy Land, the holy wanderer decided to go back to school to learn Latin with the goal of entering the priesthood. He ultimately went to the University of Paris where he met several young men whom he led in the Spiritual Exercises. Two of these men were Francis Xavier, and Peter Faber. Once ordained, he and his group decided to place themselves at the disposition of the Pope in Rome. They taught catechism to children, worked in hospitals and instructed adults in the Spiritual Exercises.

In September of 1540, this first nucleus was approved by Pope Paul III, as the order of The Company of Jesus, an institution that was to be instrumental in countering the protestant reform of Martin Luther. They were also active in the missions, and later became unparalleled academic instructors of young men, as well as performing countless other services in the Church.

Since his early conversion days, because of indiscreet, severe penances, St. Ignatius had developed stomach troubles that plagued him for the rest of his life. In the summer of 1556 his complaint grew worse, and his health ailing, he felt the end approaching. Still, those around him were not unduly alarmed. But shortly after midnight on July 31, the former soldier presented arms at the heavenly court.