Friday, April 20, 2018

There is only one ladder to heaven

Apart from the cross
there is no other ladder by which
we may get to heaven.

St. Rose of Lima

St. Agnes of Montepulciano

Around the year 1268 in the Tuscan village of Gracchiano-Vecchio, a child was born to a well-to-do couple, a little girl who was to become one of the great women saints of the Dominican Order.

Attracted  to prayer from an early age, even as a child Agnes would spend hours on her knees praying the Our Father and Hail Mary. At nine years of age, she convinced her parents to place her in the nearby Franciscan monastery at Montelpuciano. In the austerity of monastic life, she advanced in virtue by leaps and bounds.

Five years later, Agnes was called upon to leave Montepulciano to assist in the foundation of a new convent in Proceno. As soon as it was known that Agnes was at Proceno, several girls offered themselves as postulants. With special papal dispensation, the fifteen-year-old Agnes was elected abbess.

From that day onwards, she redoubled her austerities, living for fifteen years on bread and water, and sleeping on the ground with a stone pillow.

Still, the inhabitants of Montelpuciano pined for their now famous saint, and on the plans to build a new convent for her, she returned. The establishment flourished under her rule and guidance, and she remained prioress of this convent until her death.

In her later years, she suffered from a painful illness but did not allow this condition to interfere with her duties. She died at the age of forty-nine.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Why does God subject us to such long trials?

The longer the trial to which God subjects you,
the greater the goodness
in comforting you during the time of trial and
in the exaltation after the combat.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

St. Alphege of Canterbury

As a youth, Alphege became a monk in the monastery of Deerhurst in Gloucestershire, England, afterwards an anchorite and later an abbot in a monastery in Bath. At thirty, at the insistence of St. Dunstan and to his great consternation, he was elected Bishop of Winchester. As bishop, he maintained the same austerity of life as when a monk. During his episcopate he was so generous toward the poor that there were no beggars left in the diocese of Winchester.

Alphege served twenty-two years as bishop of this see and was then translated to the see of Canterbury at the death of Archbishop Aelfric.

During this period, England suffered from the ravages of the Danes who joined forces with the rebel Earl Edric, marched on Kent and laid siege to Canterbury. When the city was betrayed, there was a terrible massacre, men and women, old and young, dying by the sword.

The Archbishop hastened to the defense of his people, and pressing through the crowd begged the Danes to cease the carnage. He was immediately seized, roughly handled, and imprisoned.

A mysterious and deadly plague broke out among the Danes, and, despite the fact that the holy prelate had healed many of their own with his prayers and by giving them blessed bread, the Danes demanded an exorbitant ransom for his release. As the Archbishop protested that the country was too poor to pay such a price, he was brutally assassinated.

St. Alphege was the first Archbishop of Canterbury to die a violent death. In 1023, the martyr's body was translated with great ceremony to Canterbury accompanied by the Danish King Canute. Although he did not die directly in defense of the Faith, St. Alphege is considered a martyr of justice.

Secret of Mary

Considering Our Lady’s action upon the three Fatima children in a broader sense, the changes she brought about in them was something extraordinary — something far beyond their capacity. From this, we gather that Our Lady suddenly and suavely transformed them through her repeated apparitions.
   
    St. Francisco Marto     St. Jacinta Marto
Here we discover something akin to the “Secret of Mary,” of which Saint Louis de Montfort speaks. We see grace working profoundly in souls, and we see how it works silently, without the person perceiving it. As a result, the person feels truly free. More than ever, the person feels inspired to practice virtue and reject the evil chains of sin; consequently, their love of God blossoms.
Their desire to serve Him increases, and so does their hatred of sin. This marvelous transformation of soul occurs in such a way that the person does not experience the systematic uphill struggle of those who follow the classical system of the spiritual life to obtain virtue, sanctity, and Heaven. Much to the contrary, Our Lady changes them suddenly.
The changes in the two children Our Lady called to Heaven, Jacinta and Francisco, was particularly striking. What does this mean? Does this mean Our Lady will perform the same transformation upon us?
Is it a foretaste of how Our Lady intends to change Humanity when she fulfills her Fatima promises?
Can I say that the transformation in the souls of Jacinta and Francisco are the beginning of Our Lady’s reign? Is this not her triumph over the souls of Jacinta and Francisco, heralds of Our Lady’s message, who helped others accept the Fatima message through their prayers and sacrifices? And who still help us today through their prayers in Heaven?
If this is true, it is logical that Jacinta and Francisco be our intercessors before Our Lady and obtain the coming of her reign in our hearts. Is this not the mysterious transformation that we call the “Secret of Mary”?
I firmly believe that we must ask Jacinta and Francisco to transform us, to grant us the same gifts they received, and to guide us, whose mission it is to live and to preach the Fatima message.
Adapted from a lecture of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira on October 13, 1971.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

How to sanctify others

Sanctify yourself
and
you will sanctify society.

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Galdinus of Milan

Galdinus was born about the year 1096 into the Della Salla family, of minor Milanese nobility.

He lived in a tumultuous time for the Church in Italy with the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa causing trouble. Opposed to the election of Pope Alexander III in 1159, Barbarossa proceeded to rally a few dissident cardinals that elected another Pope. When the people of Milan sided with the legitimate Pope, the Emperor invaded.

Galdinus, who occupied the post of chancellor and archdeacon under Hubert, the Archbishop of Milan, was obliged to follow the prelate into exile.

In 1165 Galdinus was created Cardinal, and upon the death of Archbishop Hubert, was consecrated his successor by Pope Alexander III himself. The new prelate went about comforting his war-weary people and gathering his dispersed flock. He also re-enforced discipline among his clergy who had, during the troubled times, become lax.

Throwing himself heart and soul into the new undertaking, Galdinus preached constantly, not only healing the spiritual wounds caused by the schism but clarifying the faith to those confused by the heretical doctrine of the Cathars, then widely prevalent in the north of Italy. The Cathari, or Albigensians, rejected the seven sacraments, had special hatred for the Holy Eucharist and Matrimony, and believed that the physical world was all evil. Among their bizarre beliefs was that women must be reborn as men in order to achieve salvation.

On the last day of his life, too weak to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the ardent shepherd could not be kept from his pulpit. When the zealous preacher came to the end of his discourse, he simply died at his post.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What is the paradise of God?

The heart of man is, so to speak,
the paradise of God.
Since His delights are to be with you,
let yours be found in Him.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

St. Stephen Harding

Stephen Harding was an Englishman of an honorable family, and heir to a large estate. Born in Dorset, he was educated at the monastery of Sherborne and spoke English, Norman, French and Latin.

Desirous of seeking a more perfect way of Christian perfection, he, with a devout companion, traveled into Scotland and afterwards to Paris and to Rome. On their return journey, the two travelers chanced upon a collection of huts in the forest of Molesme in Burgundy, where monks lived in great austerity. Struck by their way of life and finding kindred spirits in Robert the Abbot, and Alberic the Prior, he bid his friend goodbye and threw in his lot with the monks.

After some years, finding that religious fervor had waned considerably, Stephen, Robert, Alberic and others went to Lyons and with the support of Bishop Hugh struck a new foundation in the forest of Citeaux sponsored by Rainald, Lord of Beaune, and Odo, Duke of Burgundy.

Later Robert returned to his monks of Molesme who reclaimed him as their abbot, and upon the death of Alberic, in 1109, Stephen succeeded him as Abbot of Citeaux.

He immediately instituted such austere measures to keep the spirit of the world out that he alienated the support of many who had helped to establish the abbey. Novices ceased applying, and to make matters worse, a mysterious disease decimated his monks to the point that even Stephen’s stout heart began to quiver wondering if he were really doing God’s will.

God answered him dramatically when thirty noblemen knocked at the abbey’s door seeking admittance. They were headed by young St. Bernard who in his zeal had convinced his brothers, uncles and a number of his acquaintances to give up the world with him.

Increasing numbers called for additional foundations and the first two were made at Morimond and Clairvaux. To the general surprise, Stephen appointed twenty-four-year-old Bernard as Abbot of Clairvaux. When nine abbeys had sprung from Citeaux, Stephen drew up the statutes of his Charter of Charity which officially organized the Cistercians into an order.

Stephen Harding died in 1134, advanced in age and nearly blind, and having served as Abbot of Cîteaux for twenty-five years.

Monday, April 16, 2018

How to make a man go to Heaven

Think well. Speak well. Do well.

These three things,
through the mercy of God,
will make a man go to Heaven.

St. Camillus de Lellis

St. Bernadette Soubirous

Bernadette Soubirous, baptized Marie Bernarde, was the oldest of a family of six, the daughter of a miller, François Soubirous and his wife, Louise Casteròt. They lived in Lourdes, a small town in the French Pyrenees.

Hit by hard times, her father had to give up the mill and move the family into the only lodging available, a former prison. "Le cachot" or "the dungeon," was damp and cold. Always sickly, Bernadette had contracted cholera as a child and suffered from severe asthma attacks. Considered a slow learner, she had the simplicity of a dove, was good, patient, and nothing but honest.

On February 11, 1858 while out with her sister and two friends, her companions skipped over stones to cross the River Gave to gather sticks for fuel near the grotto of Massabielle.

Hesitant about wading into the frigid water, the asthmatic Bernadette was seated on a rock when a sudden gust of wind made her look up. In the grotto she beheld a luminous lady, dressed in white with a blue sash around her waist, golden roses on her feet and a rosary over her arm.

Report of the vision caused a commotion, and people began to accompany Bernadette to the grotto where, altogether, there were eighteen apparitions in a period of two months. On March 25 the lady revealed herself as “The Immaculate Conception”, four years after the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The Virgin’s message was one of prayer and personal conversion and she also asked for a church to be built and that people come on pilgrimage.

During one of the apparitions, Bernadette suddenly began to dig inside the grotto, from whence emerged a fountain that flows abundantly today. Its water has worked countless cures, though only 67 are officially recognized by the Church and medicine.

After the apparitions, though her father’s life improved with offers of work, Bernadette’s was continuously harassed by visitors and ecclesiastical inquiries.

In 1866 she entered the convent of Notre Dame de Nevers where, despite her delicate health, she served as infirmarian and sacristan.  Developing painful, fatal tuberculosis of the bone, Bernadette suffered patiently until her death at age thirty-five on April 16, 1879. She died reaffirming the veracity of the apparitions.

Today, Lourdes is one of the most visited and beloved Catholic shrines in the world. Bernadette’s body lies in the convent chapel in Nevers, miraculously incorrupt.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The three steps of grace

Every grace granted to man
has three degrees in order:
by God it is communicated to Christ,
from Christ it passes to the Virgin, and
from the Virgin it descends to us.

St. Bernardine of Siena

St. Hunna

Little is known about St. Hunna other than that she was an aristocratic lady from the royal family of Alsace and married to a nobleman, Huno of Hunnaweyer, a small village in the diocese of Strasbourg. She was known to be so caring of the poor around her that she even lent a hand in doing the washing for her neighbors in need. Because of this she was known as “the holy washerwoman”.

She also donated properties to monasteries and financed the construction of churches.

Hunna had a son who was baptized by the holy bishop of Nevers, St. Deodatus, and was given his name in Baptism. This son later entered a monastery founded by the same St. Deodatus at Ebersheim.

Hunna was canonized in 1520 by Pope Leo X at the instance of Duke Ulric of Wurtemberg.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Why seek knowledge?

Some seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge:
that is curiosity.
Others seek knowledge that they may themselves be known:
that is vanity.
But there are still others who seek knowledge in order to serve and edify others,
and that is charity.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

St. Bénézet of Avignon

Bénézet or “Little Benedict” was a French lad, pious and thoughtful beyond his years who minded his mother’s sheep. He was deeply concerned about how dangerous it was for poor people to cross the unpredictable Rhône River.

It is said that during an eclipse, in the year 1177, he heard a voice that said to him: "Bénézet, take your rod and go down to Avignon, the capital's waterfront: talk to people and tell them that we must build a bridge."

In the Middle Ages the construction and repair of bridges was considered a work of mercy. Though Bénézet knew nothing of building bridges, he took his staff and obeyed the call.

At first the bishop of Avignon dismissed him as being daft, but after witnessing several miracles performed by the holy shepherd lad, he supported the enterprise, and the Brotherhood of Bridge Builders was formed with wealthy sponsors. For seven years Bénézet conducted the operations.

The Provençal shepherd-turned-bridge-builder died in 1184 when most of the difficulties with the construction had been overcome. The mighty bridge, completed four years later, measured 900 meters long and spanned the river with 22 arches, connecting one of the main pilgrimage routes from Italy to Covadonga on the Atlantic coast of Spain.

Bénézet’s body was interred in a small chapel on the bridge itself. This chapel, standing on one of the bridge's piers, was dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of the Rhône boatmen. In 1669, when part of the bridge collapsed from the force of the current, his coffin was taken up and in 1670 opened before the Grand Vicar. The body was found to be intact, even the bowels were sound and the color of his eyes fresh. The body was first translated to the Cathedral of Avignon and finally interred in the Church of St. Didier in the city.

The fame of Bénézet's bridge in Avignon was spread far beyond the borders of France by the children’s song, Sur le Pont d’Avignon, which is sung all over the world, even in China.
        Photo on Left by: Elliott Brown                                               Photo on Right by: Charles Greenhough

Friday, April 13, 2018

What is the greatest type of courage?

Of the several types of courage which a man needs,
one of the greatest – or the greatest –
is the courage to decide to be pure.


To be pure requires
great manliness,great seriousness,
great strength of will.


Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Pope St. Martin I

Pope Martin I is historically acclaimed as a heroic defender of the Faith, a man of exalted virtue and untiring courage. Born in Umbria, his biographer Theodore describes him as “of noble birth, a great student, of commanding intelligence, of profound learning, and of great charity to the poor.”

Elected as the successor of the Fisherman in 649, Martin governed the Church during a time when the Emperor of Constantinople, Constans II, supported Paul, the Patriarch of Constantinople and others in the Monothelite heresy, which proposed that Christ had a reduced human nature and human will.

At the patriarch's adamant refusal to recant his heretical doctrine, the Pope refused to remain silent, issued an excommunication against the Patriarch Paul and summoned a Lateran Council which formally condemned the heresy. Infuriated at this “slap in the face” Constans II sent a man to Rome to assassinate the Pope, but Martin was protected by God and the attempt failed. After this, many calamities befell the Emperor, but obstinate, he ordered his governor and soldiers in Italy to arrest the Pope and bring him to Constantinople, which, after some difficulties, was finally carried out.

In Constantinople the Pope was subject to public ridicule, extreme ill treatment and then a cruel imprisonment. Lastly, Constans II exiled him to the Crimea where he suffered from the famine of the land, from total friendlessness and abandonment of his own. He died two years later in 656 a martyr to the right of the Church to define and uphold doctrine even in the face of Imperial power.
Photo by: Wolfgang Sauber

St. Hermenegild

Hermenegild and his brother Reccared were the sons of Leovigild, a Visigothic King of Spain and his first wife, Theodosia. Leovigild shared his kingdom with his two sons, placing Hermenegild upon the throne of Seville. Both had been raised as Arians, a heretical sect that denied the divinity of Christ.

Hermenegild, the elder, was married to Inguthis, a daughter of the Frankish King Sigibert I. Whereas he was Arian, she was a zealous Catholic, and her patient fortitude in the persecutions and torments inflicted on her by Leovigild’s second wife, Gosvint, as well as the instructions and exhortations of the Bishop of Seville, St. Leander, eventually lead to Hermenegild’s conversion.

Despite his father’s rage at his decision and the pressure from his family, Hermenegild held firm in his newfound Catholic faith. As the sovereign King of Seville, Hermenegild defended himself and his subjects against Leovigild’s attacks. However, being much too weak to withstand the sieges of such a strong power, and having been unable to secure any assistance from Constantinople and, subsequently, suffering a bitter betrayal at the hand of the Roman generals, Hermenegild fled, seeking refuge in a much venerated church in Osseto. King Leovigild refused to violate this sanctuary and, instead, sent Hermenegild’s brother Reccared in to promise him pardon should he submit and come out. Hermenegild complied and came out to the convincing pretense of sincerity and joy from his father. However, once back in Leovigild’s camp, the king ordered him stripped of his royal robes, bound, and imprisoned in the tower of Seville, where the young prince had reigned for two short years.

His father's cruelty failed to move the young king from his resolve. Hermenegild was unwavering in his faith and even imposed additional austerities and penances upon himself during his imprisonment in spite of his already intense suffering. The last straw came for Leovigild when his son refused Communion from the hand of an Arian bishop who came to visit him during the solemnity of Easter. He was subsequently beheaded on this day in the year 586.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

“Why Don’t They Tell us These Things”

JacintaIt often happens that while traveling with the Fatima statue we get into conversations with host families about the Fatima message. Such was the case one evening in Atlanta, Georgia while chatting with one father and his 12 year old daughter, Lillie.

The last time I had seen this girl was close to five years ago. In the interim, she has developed into a lovely respectful young lady with an artistic talent matched by her keen desire for knowledge.
The subject that evening was children who had attained sanctity. This naturally led to a conversation about the heroic sacrifices of the youngest seer at Fatima, Blessed Jacinta Marto.  I never tire of telling the story of her heroism that was so well recounted by William Thomas Walsh in his masterful book, Our Lady of Fatima.
One of the stories that particularly touched me was Jacinta’s final illness with the dreaded flu of the time and her death — alone in a hospital far from home. It was actually there in the hospital that she had a private apparition in which Our Lady asked her if she would undergo such suffering for poor sinners. Jacinta unhesitatingly accepted but in her weak moments, she would break down in tears as she contemplated her situation. She was, after all, only 8 years old, dying in a strange hospital, far away from her mother and Lucia, whom she loved so much. 
However, she had an iron will and she would regain her composure the minute she remembered the good she was capable of doing for poor sinners by her suffering. Immediately she would wipe away her tears and offer up her suffering.

Telling this story, I noticed that Lillie was paying close attention absorbing it in all its details. Realizing this, I made it a point not to leave out any detail in the narration of the life of this heroic little girl. When I finished, Lillie asked a simple yet pungent question: “Why don’t they tell us these things?”

“That is a very good question,” I responded.

And although I don’t know if I know the answer, one thing I do know: young people are starving for marvelous examples like that of Blessed Jacinta Marto.
Written by Norman Fulkerson

Invitation to learn more about Blessed Jacinta Marto:

Jacinta’s Story is the Fatima story imaginatively told through the eyes of Blessed Jacinta Marto, the youngest of the three seers to whom Our Lady appeared in 1917 to deliver the most important message of our times. The book is hardbound and richly illustrated by author Andrea F. Phillips.
Jacinta’s Story contains many vital lessons for children—why it is so important that they pray the Rosary, obey their parents and follow the difficult but rewarding road of virtue in this life.
Visit our On-Line store to place your book order: http://store.tfp.org

Show yourself as you are

Love TRUTH.
Show yourself as you are,
without pretense, without fears and cares.
And if the truth means your persecution, accept it;
if it means your torment, bear it.
And if for the truth's sake,
you should sacrifice yourself and your life,
be strong in your sacrifice.

St. Giuseppe Moscati

St. Alferius of La Cava

Alferius was born in 930 into the Pappacarboni family which descended from the ancient princes of Lombardy.

In the year 1002, at the age of seventy-two, Alferius was sent to France by Guaimaro the Duke of Salerno as an ambassador to the court of King Henry II. Falling gravely ill on the way, before crossing the Alps, he took refuge in the monastery of San Michele della Chiusa. While the rest of the delegation continued on their journey, Alferius remained behind in the care of the monks and vowed to enter religious life should he be cured. Upon recovering, he joined the Abbey of Cluny under the great St. Odilo. A few years later, he was recalled by Duke Guaimaro who wished Alferius to reform the monasteries of his own principality.

Feeling himself unprepared for the task, Alferius retired to a secluded location in the mountains northwest of Salerno. There, after a while, many sought to join him but initially he only accepted twelve disciples. From this first nucleus developed the famous Abbey of La Trinità della Cava, which became the principal center of monastic reform of its time. It was modeled on the Abbey of Cluny and the Duke of Salerno became its greatest patron and benefactor.

Alferius is said to have lived to the great age of 120. Just a few years after his death there were in southern Italy and Sicily 30 abbeys dependent on the Abbey of La Trinità della Cava and 3000 monks. The first four abbots are canonized saints and eight of their immediate successors are beatified. One of the Saint’s disciples was Desiderius, who became Blessed Pope Victor III.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

How to see God

When we do not consent to temptation,
we keep our hearts clean,
of which it is said,
“Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God."

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Gemma Galgani

Gemma Galgani is one of the Church’s mystics. She was born in Camigliano, Italy on March 12, 1878 of devout parents. The fifth child and eldest daughter in a family of eight, she was given the name “Gemma” meaning “gem”. The family later moved to Lucca where Enrico Galgani practiced as a pharmacist.

Gemma’s beloved mother was the first to show her the way of Christian piety. “It was Mamma,” Gemma was to say, “who made me desire to go to heaven”. But tuberculosis took Aurelia Galgani when Gemma was only seven. This great grief was softened by Gemma’s first mystical communication which assured the little girl that her mother was in Heaven.

Gemma began to attend school with the Sisters of St. Zita and was considered bright. She longed to receive Holy Communion and so begged and pleaded that she was granted the favor at age nine, then an early age for first communicants. “I feel a fire burning here” was her comment as she pointed to her heart.

At home, Gemma worked diligently to fill her mother’s shoes. She loved the poor, giving them what she could. She also taught religion to children, and visited the sick in hospitals.

By age nineteen, Gemma was doubly orphaned by the death of her father, and had also lost two brothers and a little sister.

All the while she made great strides in her spiritual life, her desire to suffer with Jesus for the good of souls increasing. Gemma came down with a spinal meningitis that almost took her life, but was healed through the intercession of St. Gabriel Possenti of the Passionist Order who appeared to her and to whom she became greatly attached.

Refused entry into a Passionist convent, partially because of her health, Gemma submitted to God’s will. From the time of her healing she began to experience mystical graces that eventually led to her receiving the stigmata of Christ.  At this time she and other family members were living with an aunt, and as her ecstasies became more frequent, she had little privacy or understanding.

Through the influence of the Passionists, she was introduced to the exceptionally devout Giannini family, who ultimately adopted her as a daughter. The Gianninis became the “reliquary” that enshrined the “gem” so her sanctity could develop to the fullest.

Two other great friends were to accompany Gemma during her life: her confessor Fr. Germanus, who guided her wisely and securely, and her Guardian Angel, whom she saw often, and who instructed and admonished her, delivered letters and messages to Fr. Germanus for her, and who even brought her coffee in bed during her illnesses.

On Pentecost Sunday in 1902, Gemma was stricken with a mysterious illness which led to her death on Holy Saturday in 1903. She was twenty-five.

Gemma was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1940.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Money - it might kill you

Earthly riches are like the reed.
Its roots are sunk in the swamp, and
its exterior is fair to behold; but inside
it is hollow.
If a man leans on such a reed,
it will snap off and pierce his soul.

St. Anthony of Padua

St. Fulbert of Chartres

Fulbert is said to have been born in Italy of poor parents. As a student at the Cathedral School of Rheims, he was purportedly one of its most distinguished scholars for when the celebrated Gerbert d'Aurillac, professor of mathematics, became Pope Sylvester II, he summoned Fulbert to Rome.

Upon his return to France, Bishop Odo of Chartres appointed him Chancellor. Under Fulbert's care and direction, the cathedral schools became the greatest educational center in Europe. His pupils esteemed him so highly as a teacher that they called him “venerable Socrates”.

After Bishop Odo’s death, Fulbert was consecrated Bishop of Chartres, and came to be recognized as the counselor of the spiritual and temporal leaders of France.

When the Cathedral of Chartres burned down, he immediately set to rebuilding it, harnessing the financial help of several kings of Europe. Still, this is not the sacred edifice we now know.

Fulbert had a great devotion to Our Lady and composed many hymns in her honor. When the beautiful new cathedral was consecrated, he celebrated the recently introduced feast in honor of her nativity with great solemnity. He was an outspoken opponent of simony and of bestowing ecclesiastical endowments upon laymen. Fulbert was also a prolific writer and his epistles have great historical value, especially on the subject of the liturgical practices of the eleventh century.

After nearly twenty-two years as Bishop of Chartres, he died on April 10, 1029.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Feast of the Annunciation - April 9, 2018

 By Father Thomas de Saint-Laurent

Out of love for us, the Eternal Word was made flesh in the chaste womb of Mary.  His plan was marvelously arranged.  From all eternity, He chose a man after His heart who would be the virginal spouse of His divine Mother, His adopted father on earth, and the guardian of His childhood.
While not granting Joseph the same privileges He had granted our Blessed Mother, the Lord adorned his soul with the rarest virtues and raised him to great holiness.
When Our Lady had completed her education in the Temple, she was wed to this humble artisan. Like her, Saint Joseph belonged to the royal race of David, then fallen from its ancient splendor. Also like her, he had consecrated his virginity to God and ardently desired to see with his own eyes the promised Messias, the salvation of Israel.


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The Most High had prepared this excellent union by revealing His will to these humble and obedient souls. Mary accepted Joseph as the guarantor of Divine Providence, while Joseph received Mary as a precious treasure entrusted to him by Heaven. Neither one nor the other suspected what blessings the Lord would lavish on their modest dwelling. The young spouses had lived but a short time in the little house of Nazareth when the scene of the Annunciation took place in all of its divine simplicity.
The last days of March had brought the return of spring to the Galilean countryside. The fig trees had begun to unfold their ample leaves and the doves to build their nests in the hollows of the rocks. Flowers dotted the rejuvenated fields. Soon another flower, infinitely more precious, would blossom from the root of Jesse.
In Heaven, the Holy Ghost acclaimed the spotless conception of the Immaculate Virgin with admiration and seemed impatient for the hour when the work of His infinite charity would be fulfilled. No longer did the Divine Spouse wish to delay. He resolved to send an extraordinary messenger to her whom He called "My Spouse" —Soror mea, sponsa. 1
God chose the Archangel Gabriel from among the princes of the celestial court who remained constantly before the throne of the Almighty. He entrusted to him the most important and glorious assignment ever confided to a creature, the mission of announcing to the Virgin the awesome mystery of the Incarnation.
All Heaven now looked upon that simple house of Nazareth, where a profound peace reigned. Joseph probably rested from his hard labor. In the adjoining room, his virgin spouse was praying. The angel appeared and respectfully bowed before his Queen. His countenance resplendent with supernatural joy, he said to her, "Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." 2  Saint Gabriel uttered but the strictest truth.
Rosary Guide Booklet - Annunciation PicAt the moment of Mary's conception, divine grace flooded her magnificent soul. Ever since then, this grace had grown ceaselessly in proportions far surpassing our feeble understanding. Now, at this moment, the adorable Trinity wanted this already extraordinary holiness to shine with even greater brilliance: Our Lady would shelter in her womb the very Author of grace.
Yet, the Archangel's salutation troubled the Immaculate Virgin. By divine enlightenment she had long understood the immensity of God and the nothingness of creatures. In her prodigious humility, she considered herself the lowliest of creatures and thus wondered at receiving such praise. She pondered what hidden meaning could be shrouded in such words.
Seeing this most incomparably perfect of all creatures with such a humble opinion of herself, the celestial ambassador exulted with admiration. "Mary," he said to the trembling Virgin, "fear not, for thou hast found grace with God."3
Then slowly, majestically, in the name of the Eternal God, he communicated his sublime message: "Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father, and He shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end."4
These words were far too clear to Our Lady for any hesitation in grasping them. She immediately understood the incomparable honor reserved for her. It seems that she experienced no hesitation on account of her virginity. Indeed, it would be a gratuitous insult to her intelligence to suspect her of such ignorance. She was aware of the prophecy of Isaias that the Emmanuel would be born of a virgin.
Rather, she simply sought to know how God, so rich in miracles, would accomplish such a marvel. "How shall this be done," she asked the angel, "for I know not man?"5 "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Therefore, the child which shall be born of thee shall be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who is called barren; for nothing shall be impossible with God."6 Profound silence filled that small room in Nazareth, one of those dramatic silences wherein the world's destiny hangs in the balance.
The angel had ceased speaking and Mary was quiet. How many thoughts crowded in upon her! In her mind's eye, she saw the resplendent crown divine motherhood would place on her head, yet she remained too profoundly humble for any complacency about this singular grandeur. She saw the indescribable joys that would surely fill her heart when holding her dear treasure against her bosom, her Jesus, both God and infant. Yet again, her self-mortification would not allow that she be guided by the allure of joy alone, even the most holy of joys.
She also saw the awful martyrdom that would rend her soul. Through Holy Scripture she knew that the Messias would be delivered to His death like a tender lamb to the slaughter. She foresaw and heard the mournful cry: "I am a worm, and no man; the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people."7 Yet, such was her fortitude that she would not allow future sorrow to dishearten her. Above everything, she saw the extremely lofty, fatherly, and holy will of God. She owed obedience to Him; she did not hesitate.


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The Immaculate Virgin at last broke the solemn silence. The angel waited to receive her consent in the name of the Holy Ghost. In accepting, she pronounced one of those sublime expressions that only the genius of humility can find. It was the most simple and modest formula of a soul completely submissive to the will of God: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word."8At that, the grandest of all miracles took place. From the very flesh of the Immaculate Virgin, the Holy Ghost formed a small human body. To this body He joined a human soul; to this body and soul He united the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, the Word of God.
Although it is necessary to explain these three facts separately to make clear what took place, the three took place completely simultaneously as a single act. Not even for a second were this small body and soul separated from the Word. From that first instant the Child formed in the womb of Our Lady was the Word Incarnate. Without losing her virginity, Mary became the Mother of God, and in becoming the Mother of Christ, our Head, she also became the Mother of men—our Mother.
In this chapter I have simply followed the Gospel narrative step by step. We will later study the nearly infinite dignity the Immaculate Virgin confers on divine motherhood. We shall see how this privilege should inspire our Christian hearts to great respect, deep gratitude, limitless confidence, and filial devotion. But let us first complete our meditation on this mystery.
Fra Angelico - AnnunciationThrough God's infinite love for us, the Word utterly humbled Himself in the womb of the Virgin. At the same time, other events took place in her soul. When God entrusts a mission to one of His creatures, He also provides the grace to accomplish it fully. Thus, the Most High, having granted a double motherhood to the Blessed Virgin Mary (to be mother of God and of men), conferred upon her a love that was doubly maternal. Such was the splendor in this work of grace that we will never perfectly understand it. Never will we completely understand the ardor of Mary's love for Jesus or the merciful goodness by which the Virgin loves each one of us in particular. Indeed, were we to further reflect upon this mystery, we would pray to her with greater fervor, and serve her with greater zeal. She, in turn, would lavish torrents of grace on us.
The Incarnation had just been completed. Our Lady remained in ecstasy. Every theologian agrees that during this thrice-holy moment God raised her to the most sublime contemplation a pure creature can attain upon earth. Perhaps she was even granted a momentary glimpse of the beatific vision. The Archangel Gabriel had fulfilled his mission. Upon his arrival he had respectfully bowed before the Queen of heaven. Before departing, he prostrated himself, for Mary was no longer alone. In true justice, the Child she bore in her womb merited the adoration of the archangel, who adored the God-made-man and then returned to Heaven.
From this mystery, we must draw a stronger and deeper devotion to the Blessed Virgin. The Church, which encourages us to pay special honor to the Immaculate Mother, does not wish to place her on the same level as the Most High. While Mary reigns over all the angels and saints in Heaven, she is still but a simple creature and, accordingly, an infinite distance stands between her and her adorable Son. Nevertheless, God has united Jesus and Mary so intimately that we cannot separate Them. By consenting to the work of the eternal God, Our Lady has become ipso facto the moral cause of our salvation. She is morally necessary for us to go to Jesus.
Souls today are powerfully attracted to the Heart of Jesus. To penetrate this adorable Heart, the sanctuary of the Divinity, more fully, we must go through Mary. Let us ask Our Lady for the sovereign grace of placing us confidently in the arms of Jesus and there, upon His heart, let us rest both in time and in eternity.


 Written by Father Thomas de Saint-Laurent
 Notes:
1. Canticle of Canticles 4:9. [back]
2. Luke 1:28. [back]
3. Luke 1:30. [back]
4. Luke 1:31-33. [back]
5. Luke 1:34. [back]
6. Luke 1:35-37. [back]
7. Psalm 21:7. [back]
8. Luke 1:38. [back]

Which feelings are suspect?

Outpourings of affection for God,
of resting in His presence,
of good feelings toward everyone and sentiments and prayers like these …
are suspect
if they do not express themselves in practical love
which has real effects.

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Waudru or Waldetrudis

Waldedrudis, or Waudru in French, was the daughter of the Duke of Lorraine, St. Walbert and his wife St. Bertilia and closely related to the Merovingian royal family. Her sister, St. Aldegundis of Maubeuge, was a foundress and abbess.

Waldedrudis was married to the noble St. Vincent Madelgar, Count of Hainault with whom she had four children, all of them canonized saints.

Although her family life was serene and exemplary, she suffered much from the slander of others, and from severe interior trials and temptations. God, after some years, recompensed her fidelity with a holy peace, and great spiritual consolations.

Sometime after the birth of their fourth child, the Count Madelgar withdrew into the Benedictine Abbey of Haumont which he had founded, taking the name of Vincent. Waldedrudis retired to a small house where she lived a life of prayer, poverty and simplicity. Such was the influx of people seeking her counsel, however, that the holy matron eventually founded a convent around which grew the city of Mons in Belgium.

St. Waudru, as she is known in Belgium, was renowned for her works of charity and for the numerous miracles she performed during her life and after death. She is the patroness of Mons.
Photos by: Guy Debognies

Sunday, April 8, 2018

How to become like angels

Every virtue in your soul
is a precious ornament
which makes you dear to God and to man.
But holy purity, the queen of virtues, the angelic virtue,
is a jewel so precious
that those who possess it become like the angels of God in Heaven,
even though clothed in mortal flesh.

St. John Bosco

St. Julie Billiart

Born on July 12, 1751 in Cuvilly, France, Marie Rose Julie Billiard was the daughter of fairly well-to-do peasant farmers who also owned a small shop. From early childhood Julie had a keen interest in spiritual things and by seven years of age she had memorized the catechism and attained an understanding of it beyond her years.

During her youth, her father’s shop was robbed and her father attacked. This so traumatized his daughter that she became ill and gradually a physical paralysis took hold of her. Deprived of the use of her legs, she eventually had great difficulty in even speaking. Julie's paralysis lasted for twenty-two years, and throughout this whole trial she continued to teach her beloved catechism to children and to trust unwaveringly in the everlasting goodness of “le bon Dieu”. Her infirmities drove her to an even deeper life of prayer and union with God.

During the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution when the pastor of Cuvilly was superseded by a constitutional priest sworn to the new atheistic government, Julie influenced her friends and neighbors to boycott the intruder. Though an invalid herself, she worked to hide and assist fugitive priests who remained loyal to the Catholic Church, and for this charitable work she was herself persecuted and obliged to escape from place to place – on one occasion, hiding all night under a haystack.

While taking refuge with the aristocratic family of Gézaincourt, Julie met Françoise Blin de Bourdon, a noblewoman who had barely escaped the guillotine by the fall of Robespierre before her execution. The two became close friends and collaborators.

After the Terror, they both dedicated themselves to the spiritual care of poor children, and the Christian education of girls in a generation sorely neglected by the ravages of the Revolution.

In 1804, after a novena to Him, Julie Billiart was miraculously healed of the paralysis of her legs on the feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus. Now physically free to pursue a full range of activity, her educational work increased rapidly.

At odds with the bishop of Amiens through the meddling influence of a misguided young priest, Julie and Françoise were obliged to move to Namur, in present-day Belgium, where with the full support of the local bishop, they proceeded with their work, eventually founding the Institute of Notre Dame de Namur, today in sixteen countries around the world.

Julie Billiart died on April 8, 1816 while praying the Magnificat. She was canonized in 1969.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Decorum and civility

Most Christians regard decorum and civility
only as human qualities,
and do not realize that these virtues can relate us
to God, to our neighbor, and to ourselves.


St. John Baptist De La Salle

St. Jean-Baptiste de la Salle

Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, the famous founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, or the Christian Brothers, was born in Rheims of the noble family of la Salle. Showing signs of a rare piety from an early age, Jean-Baptiste was destined for the priesthood, which fit well with his own inclinations regarding the future. He entered the seminary in 1670 at nineteen and was ordained in 1678.

A young man of refinement and good connections, he seemed to be destined for high office in the Church. But in 1679 he met a layman, Adrian Nyel, who had the idea of starting a school for poor boys in Rheims. The newly-ordained Fr. Jean-Baptiste became engrossed in the project and began to guide Nyel and seven schoolmasters in the high educational ideals taking shape in his own mind. He even invited the group into his paternal home to live. But there, unwilling to submit to the discipline for which they had not bargained, they took leave.

Undaunted, the reformer waited patiently. Soon, he was joined by another group of interested men. To these Fr. Jean-Baptiste imparted a new method of teaching, which revolutionized the elementary schooling of the day. Until then, children had been taught on an individual basis. Jean-Baptiste introduced into education the classroom setting, silence during lessons, and teaching in the vernacular rather than in Latin.

Soon requests began to arrive for teachers trained in the new method. Parish priests also began to send young men to the institute to be trained as masters for their own parish schools.

In time, Fr. Jean-Baptiste formed a novitiate and a rule of religious life. After much prayer, he also established that his teaching institute would be constituted of lay brothers and not priests. From France the Christian Brothers spread throughout Europe and the world.

In 1717 the founder resigned the headship of his institute and lived like the humblest of brothers. Suffering from asthma and rheumatism, Fr. Jean- Baptiste gave up none of his austerities. Early in 1719 he met with an accident which ultimately led to his death on Good Friday of that year. He was sixty-eight years of age.

The Catholic Church set her seal of approval upon the life and apostolate of this man, a reformer and innovator of primary importance in the history of education, by canonizing him in 1900. In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared him patron of all school teachers.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Freed from a Contract with the Devil

Eutychian, Patriarch of Constantinople, relates the following well-known story of Theophilus (6th century). The Patriarch was an eyewitness of the fact which we relate here, and which is also confirmed by St. Peter Damian, St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Antoninus, and others.
Theophilus was an archdeacon of the Church of Adanas, a city of Cilicia, and was so well esteemed that the people wished him to become their bishop, but his humility prevented his consent.
Afterwards, some malicious persons slandered him, and he was deposed from his office. Upset and blinded by passion, he went to a magician, who induced him to apply to Satan for help in his misfortunes.
The devil answered that if he wished his assistance, he must renounce Jesus, and Mary his mother, and hand over to him the act of renunciation, written with his own hand.  Theophilus executed the vile document. On the following day the bishop, having heard of the wrong done him by his calumniators, asked his forgiveness, and restored him to his office. 
But Theophilus began to feel so tortured by the pangs of remorse over the great crime he had committed, that he wept continually.
Entering a church, he prostrated himself in tears before an altar of the Blessed Virgin, exclaiming: “O, mother of God, having you who art so merciful, I will not despair of your help.”
Thus he persevered for forty days, weeping and praying to the Holy Virgin.
Behold, one night the mother of mercy appeared to him and said: “O, Theophilus, what have you done? You have renounced my friendship and that of my Son, and for whom, but for the sake of your enemy and mine!”
“O, Lady,” answered Theophilus, “it is in thy hand to pardon me, and to obtain my pardon from thy Son.”
Then, Mary, seeing his confidence, answered, “Take courage and I will pray for thee.”
Theophilus, encouraged by these words, redoubled his tears, his penance, and his prayers, remaining constantly at the foot of the altar. And, behold, Mary appeared to him again, and with a joyful countenance said to him:
“Theophilus, rejoice, I have presented thy tears and thy prayers to God; He hath accepted them, and hath already pardoned thee; henceforth be grateful and faithful.”
“Lady,” replied Theophilus, “this is not sufficient to console me; the enemy still possesses the impious deed, by which I have renounced thee and thy Son; thou canst obtain it for me.”
After three days, Theophilus awoke one night, and found the paper on his breast.
The next day, when the bishop with a large assembly were present in church, Theophilus cast himself at his feet, related the whole story, weeping bitterly, and handed him the infamous writing, which the bishop immediately ordered to be burned in the presence of the congregation. The people wept for joy, praising the goodness of God, and the mercy of Mary towards that miserable sinner.
Theophilus returned to the church of the Virgin, and there, three days later, died happily, with thanksgivings to Jesus and his holy mother on his lips.
References:  Glories of Mary, New Revised Edition of 1888, p.196

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.

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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.)
  
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Also Read:

How to put up with people, according to St. Thérèse of Lisieux

True charity consists in
putting up with all one’s neighbor’s faults,
never being surprised by his weakness, and
being inspired by the least of his virtues.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

St. William of Eskilsoë

William was born into an illustrious French family and raised in the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés under the tutelage of his uncle, Abbot Hugh.  The regularity of his conduct and virtuous life earned him the admiration of the community.

After being ordained a sub-deacon, he was appointed a canon of the Church of Sainte-Geneviève-du-Mont in Paris where the sanctity of his life greatly annoyed his worldly and lax fellow-canons. They mocked him for his more disciplined life and so persecuted him that William was forced to resign his canonry. However, in 1148, during a visit to Paris by Blessed Pope Eugene III, the latter observed the canonical laxity that reigned at Sainte-Geneviève-du-Mont and replaced the canons with more observant men thus vindicating William’s reputation. Under the direction of the famous Abbot Suger a new canonry with a stricter set of rules was established. William rejoined the community and, in a short time, became sub-prior.

William tempered his zeal for regular discipline with so much sweetness and humility that he led all to practice the rule with joy. The fame of his wisdom and sanctity even reached the ears of Absalon, the Bishop of Roskilde in Denmark, who sent his provost, the historian Saxo the Grammarian, to ask William to come to Denmark to help with the much-needed reforms there.

The prospect of hardships and challenges in the service of Our Lord inspired William to accept the invitation, and he cheerfully traveled to Denmark. There, he was appointed Abbot of Eskilsoë and, although he faced many difficulties both from powerful people and from within himself, he triumphed through prayer and patience. His apostolic zeal and perseverance bore much fruit for the Catholic Faith in Denmark during the thirty years he lived among the Danes. He also founded the Abbey of St. Thomas in Aebelhold (Ebelholt) in Zeeland and traveled to Rome to intercede with the Pope on behalf of the king’s sister, Ingelburga, who had been repudiated by her royal husband, King Philip Augustus of France.

William died in Denmark on April 6, 1203 and was canonized in 1224 by Pope Honorius III.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Three Rosary Stories

 

Story I

A survivor’s gripping account gives a convincing testimony of the power of the Rosary. A 25 year-old female student who lost her brother and her mother in the terrorists attack in the Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad on October 31, 2010 relates:

“Next to my brother, there was also a woman who was bleeding profusely. She asked the terrorist: ‘Kill me, please, do not let me suffer any more.’ He answered her: "No, suffer; that way you will experience hell on earth and after your death." And he repeated: "You are infidels, Allah ou akbar!" And I, then, prayed the rosary, with my head bent down towards the floor. A terrorist came and asked me: "What are you praying? What do you venerate? Do you venerate Christ?" And then, some grenades exploded and we truly had the impression that the church was going to collapse on us. I myself absolutely did not think that I would survive. I prayed as if I was about to die. It is Our Mother who saved us.”
Needed more than ever in our times

Amid that horrific bedlam and terrible carnage, the student courageously hung on to her rosary and prayed even as the Islamic terrorist accosted her. By the grace of God, she was spared from death.

Story II

Vienna, Austria, September 12, 1955: After World War II, Austria was divided between four countries: America, France, the United Kingdom, and Russia, which was still communist. The section of Austria controlled by the communists was the richest, and included the city of Vienna. The Viennese were subject to all the atrocities and tyrannies of communism.

With all of his country’s problems weighing heavily on his heart, Capuchin Fr. Petrus Pavlicek made a pilgrimage to Mariazell, the principle Marian shrine in Austria. While deep in prayer before the miraculous image of Our Lady above the shrine’s high altar, he was told by an interior voice: “Do as I say and there will be peace.”
To obey this inspiration of Our Lady, Fr. Pavlicek founded the Holy Rosary Crusade of Reparation in 1947. His Crusade consisted of the Viennese faithful coming out of their homes in order to participate in a public Rosary procession in the streets of the city. The intentions of the Rosary were for the end of communism in their country and in the world. Father traveled throughout Austria with a statue of Our Lady of Fatima promoting the Rosary Crusade. At first, the processions were miniscule, but in time they grew to staggering proportions. The Prime Minister and other members of the Austrian government soon joined the ranks, along with all of the nation’s bishops.
In 1955, after eight years spreading the word about the Crusade throughout Austria, the Rosary processions would reach the size of half a million people, about one-tenth of the Austrian population.
Finally, through the help of Our Lady, the Soviet forces pulled out of Austria in October of 1955, leaving the country for good.
Each year on September 12th, the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, thousands gather in Vienna to thank the Mother of God for her intercession in freeing their country from communist domination.

Story III

It was a cold, wintry night in Ohio when homes used coal for fuel. One home had only enough to make it till dawn. Young Mary, who writes this story, tells us her family was going through hard times as her Dad had lost his job.

As she sat around the kitchen table with her parents, there was talk that she and her eight siblings might have to go to the Children’s Home on the morrow. They could only hope the relief truck would come in the morning. But there was no guarantee. It was then they decided to say a Rosary.
As they finished, there was the rumble of a motor in the lane. The coal truck! Mary’s Dad ran out to help unload. Back in, he remarked, “Funny, I've never seen that man, and he didn't give me a paper to sign or anything.”
That night they slept warm, and worriless. But next morning there was the coal truck again. Mary's Mom informed the driver, a cousin, that they had a delivery the night before.
The cousin chuckled, “Mine is the only relief truck in the area…If you got a load last night, St. Joseph must have brought it!”
Mary’s family never knew who the delivery man was…It didn't help that they never got a bill.

Power to touch the most hardened hearts



“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:

Sin and happiness

I cannot understand how anyone
conscious of mortal sin 
can laugh or be merry. 

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Vincent Ferrer

Vincent Ferrer, although born in Valencia in Spain, was from Scotch-English descent on his father’s side. His parents instilled in him a deep devotion to Our Lord and Our Lady and a tremendous love for the poor.

In 1367 he entered the Dominican Order, and before he reached the age of twenty-one was already teaching philosophy at Lérida, the most famous university in Catalonia.

Transferred to Barcelona to preach to the public, he arrived in the coastal city to find the citizens ravaged by hunger. A famine was raging through that region and the people were desperate for the arrival of a ship of corn. Vincent foretold that the ship would be in harbor before nightfall, and so it happened, at which the people acclaimed the young Dominican preacher a prophet and his superiors cautiously moved him to Toulouse.

Vincent inflamed souls with the ardor of his preaching, rousing sinners to penance, lax Catholics to fervor, and converting a number of Jews to the Faith, one of them the Rabbi of Burgos who went on to become a bishop.

It was the time of the great schism with a pope in Rome and another in Avignon, a time when even saints were confused. For a time Vincent favored Benedict XIII, or Peter de Luna, as he was popularly known, who ruled from the French city of Avignon. Vincent was also de Luna's confessor. But as the Church began moving to rule against the claim of Peter de Luna, and the latter remained obstinate, Vincent distanced himself from the claimant, and, eventually, played a major role in Benedict XIII’s abdication in favor of Church unity.

Vincent Ferrer preached throughout Europe as far north as the Netherlands, and his learning, ardent preaching and miracles worked numerous conversions.  In one location Vincent worked so many miracles that an hour was reserved every day for healing the sick. At Liguria in Italy he convinced the ladies to modify their fantastic headdress, which one of his biographers calls “the greatest of all his marvelous deeds”.

In Granada in Spain, then under Moorish rule, 8000 Muslims asked for Baptism after hearing him preach.

Vincent spent the last three years of his life in France, where he became ill after preaching a sermon in 1419, and died on Wednesday of Passion Week. He was canonized in 1455 by Pope Calixtus III.