Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Father's Prayer to Saint Joseph



Saint Joseph look I am tired tonight,
But somehow I think that you care;
For being a father and one who works
Are things that both of us share.
It tires a man, yet the heart is high,
For, Patron Saint, it’s all worthwhile.
Its rich reward is a loving wife,
And joyous light in a child’s smile.
O, father, worker, bear with me,
Help me, Saint Joseph, to do my best,
To love and protect my family
‘Til work shall cease and heaven is rest.
Amen



Parents

If I had to advise parents, I should tell them
to take great care
about the people with whom their children associate …
Much harm may result from bad company,
and we are inclined by nature to follow what is worse
than what is better.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

St. Albert Chmielowski

Born on August 20, 1845, Albert belonged to a wealthy, aristocratic Polish family. Involved in politics from a young age, at eighteen he lost his leg during an uprising against Czar Alexander III of Russia.

Albert had a great talent for painting, and eventually became a well-know and rather popular artist. But he soon became aware of the suffering of the poor of the city, and felt compelled to help those in need. He abandoned his art and became a Secular Franciscan to dedicate his life to helping those in need. In 1887, he founded the Brothers of the Third Order of Saint Francis, Servants of the Poor, known as the Albertines or the Gray Brothers. Then, in 1891, he founded a community of Albertine sisters, known as the Gray Sisters. The Albertines organized food and shelter for the poor and homeless of any age or religion, dedicating their good works to God.

Albert died on Christmas Day, 1916.  He was canonized on November 12, 1989.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Resentment

We should blush with shame
to show so much resentment at what is done or said against us,
knowing that so many injuries and affronts
have been offered to our Redeemer and the saints.

St. Teresa of Avila


St. Lutgardis

Born in the Netherlands in 1182, Lutgardis was sent to a Benedictine convent at the age of twelve because her merchant father had lost the money meant for her dowry, and marriage without it seemed unlikely.

She was fond of worldly things, and had no inclination toward a religious life. However, one afternoon she had a vision of Our Lord, Who showed her His sacred wounds and asked her to love Him and Him alone.

Lutgardis immediately renounced all worldly pleasures and became a religious. She often saw Christ while engaged in prayer, and was allowed to share in His sufferings: her forehead and hair were often made wet with drops of blood when she meditated on The Passion.

Desiring to live under a stricter rule, Lutgardis later joined a Cistercian convent at Aywieres. There she spent the final thirty years of her life, becoming known as a mystic with the gifts of healing and prophecy. During the last eleven years prior to her death she was totally blind, an affliction which she treated as an extraordinary gift from God because it reduced the distractions of the outside world.

Before she died, Our Lord appeared to her to warn her of her approaching death, and asked her to prepare for this event in three ways. She was to give praise to God for what she had received, pray constantly for the conversion of sinners and rely in all things on God alone. She died soon after the vision on June 16, 1246.

Friday, June 15, 2018

You can only take with you a heart enriched

Remember when you leave this earth, you
can take with you nothing that you have received
– only what you have given:
a heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Germaine of Pibrac

Germaine was born in 1579 in Pibrac, a village in southern France. Her mother died soon after her birth, leaving the child in the care of her husband. Germaine’s father, who had no love for her on account of her right hand being paralyzed and deformed, eventually remarried. Her new step-mother was abusive, forcing her to sleep in the stable or in a cupboard under the stairs. She gave the sickly girl scraps and isolated her from her healthier step-siblings.

As soon as she was old enough, she was charged with the care of the family’s flock of sheep. During this time, surrounded by nature as she was, Germaine became closer to God, and attended Mass as often as she could. If she heard the church bells toll for the beginning of Mass, she would plant her crook and her distaff in the ground, commend her flock to her guardian angel and hurry to receive Holy Communion.

When she returned, she would find that though she had left the flock unattended, not one of the sheep in her flock had strayed or fallen prey to the wolves that often lurked nearby.

One winter day, when the ground was still frozen, her step-mother chased her with a stick, accusing her of concealing stolen bread in her apron. But when Germaine let her apron fall, summer flowers tumbled onto the hard ground. Her parents realized the deformed girl had been touched by God, and showing her kindness at last, invited her to live with them in the house. Yet she refused, and continued to live as before until one morning in 1601, she was found dead in the little cupboard under the stairs. She was twenty-two years old.

Germaine was buried in the church of Pibrac. Forty-three years after her death, her body was accidentally exhumed and was found incorrupt and flexible.

A Letter from Above

Young Lady Jane was as sweet as she was lovely. Being the daughter of a prince, the whole world lay before her, full of possibilities.
At a young age, Jane chose the road less traveled, that of giving her life to her Savior as His bride. With her parents’ blessing she entered a monastery, not too distant from her ancestral home. Sadly, the discipline of this monastery was so relaxed, that, although she was a young person of good intentions, she advanced but little in virtue.
But her Divine Spouse watched over Jane and sent her a blessing in the form of a holy confessor. This devout man of God recognized Jane’s plight – though she herself did not – and with all seriousness implored her to pray a Rosary every day. With youthful enthusiasm Jane took her confessor’s advice to heart and she began to say the Rosary, daily thinking about the mysteries as she prayed. This simple devotion caused her to become so changed that she was an example to all.
Unfortunately, her fervor pricked the consciences of those who enjoyed the laxity allowed in the monastery. The other religious, taking offence at her for withdrawing from them, attacked her on all sides, to induce her to abandon her newly-begun way of life.
One day while she was repeating the Rosary, and praying to Mother Mary to assist her in this persecution, she saw a letter fall from above. The paper was of purest white, feeling almost silky to Jane’s touch. The script flowed along the page as if it were dancing the most elegant of dances. On the outside were written these words: "Mary, mother of God, to her daughter Jane, greeting;" and within :
"My dear child, continue to say my Rosary ; withdraw from conversation with those who do not help you to live well ; beware of idleness and vanity ; take from your cell two superfluous things, and I will be your protectress with God."
The young nun kept her letter close and read it often. More importantly, she followed her Mother’s gentle advice to the letter and continued to hold fast in the face of persecution. It is no small thing to remain close to Our Lady while being deprived of human companionship, but Jane did all within her power to please her “protectress.”
It was not long before the abbot of that monastery paid a visited. Seeing the lack of discipline and virtue among the majority of its inhabitants, he attempted to reform it, but did not succeed. One day, to his horror, he saw a great number of demons entering the cells of all the nuns, except that of Jane. Drawing closer to the favored cell, the abbot came upon Jane kneeling before an image of Our Lady. At one glance the abbot could see that same heavenly mother banishing the demons from Jane’s cell.
He quietly withdrew and entered the gardens to pray for guidance. After a time, he called the young nun to his side, asking her the most general questions about her life in the monastery and her religious practices. When he heard from her of the devotion of the Rosary which she practiced, and the letter she had received from above, everything became clear. He now had a sure means of reform for the entire monastery! He ordered all the others to repeat it, and it is related that this monastery soon became a paradise under the gentle gaze of its protectress.
From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

What is the essence of a Christian life?


The whole essence of a Christian life is
to reject the corruption of the world
and to oppose constantly
any indulgence in it.

Pope Leo XIII

St. Methodius of Constantinople

Born in Sicily in the eighth century, Methodius, well educated and wealthy, hoped to receive a place in the Court of Constantinople. However, influenced by a holy monk, he decided to abandon materialism and become a religious, and built a monastery on the island of Chios.
In 815, during the second outbreak of the iconoclastic persecution, the movement against the veneration of icons, Methodius was sent to Rome as a representative of Patriarch Nicephorus, who was exiled by Emperor Leo V the Armenian for refusing to yield to the imperial decrees on the destruction of icons. The holy man spoke in favor of the reverence for holy images, seeking acceptance and approval for the icons, but he returned to Constantinople unsuccessful.

Methodius returned to Rome in 821 when a new emperor, Theophilius, sat on the throne, hoping to convince him to allow the veneration of icons. Instead, he was scourged and imprisoned for seven years.

In 843 he was consecrated as Patriarch of Constantinople with the backing of the Empress Theodora, Theophilius’ widow, and convened a council. Theodora was an ardent supporter of the veneration of icons and was the reason icons were restored to Catholic churches.

Methodius died in Constantinople in 847 of dropsy, or what is now called edema.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Jesus wishes to use you


Jesus wishes to use you in order to make me known and loved.
He wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world.
I promise salvation to those who embrace it; and
these souls will be beloved of God
like flowers arranged by me to adorn His throne.

Our Lady of Fatima to Lucia dos Santos

St. Anthony of Padua

Anthony was born Fernando Martins in Lisbon, Portugal, in August, 1195. His noble and wealthy family arranged for him to be instructed at the Cathedral school where he was instilled with a deep religious piety. At fifteen, Fernando entered the Augustinian Order at the Abbey of Saint Vincent on the outskirts of Lisbon and there studied theology, Latin and the Holy Scriptures.It was after his ordination to the priesthood that Fernando first came into contact with some Franciscan friars who settled near his monastery. From the beginning, Fernando was strongly attracted to the simple, evangelical lifestyle of the friars. However, it was not until the news came of the first martyrs of their order – five Franciscans beheaded in Morocco – and Fernando saw their mutilated bodies, which had been ransomed, being buried in the Abbey of Santa Cruz, that he obtained permission to leave the Augustinian Order and join the Franciscans, where he received the new name of Anthony. So inspired was he by the martyrs’ example that he set out for Morocco himself, with the hope of becoming a martyr too. However, he fell seriously ill en route and was forced to return to Portugal to regain his health. According to the designs of Divine Providence, on the return voyage, the ship was blown off course and landed in Sicily.

From Sicily he made his way to Tuscany where he was assigned to a convent of the order, but he was later assigned to the rural hermitage of San Paolo near Forlì, Romagna, a choice made after considering his poor health. There he lived in a cell made by one of the friars in a nearby cave and spent his time in private prayer and study.

One day, in 1222, in the town of Forli, on the occasion of an ordination, Anthony was persuaded to be the homilist. So simple and resounding was his teaching of the Catholic Faith that even the most unlettered and innocent might understand it and it made a great impression on all who heard. Not only his rich voice and arresting manner, but the entire theme and substance of his discourse and his moving eloquence, held the attention of his hearers. Everyone was impressed with his knowledge of Scripture, acquired during his years of solitude at the hermitage of Forli.

Anthony was known as the “hammer of the heretics” in Italy. His great protection against their lies and deceits in the matters of Christian doctrine was to utter, simply and innocently, the Holy Name of Mary. Outstanding among the stories of his dealings with the heretics – who would not listen to him as he tried to teach them the truths and joy of the Gospel – is the one which recounts how he became so frustrated one day by their stubbornness that he went out and preached to the fishes, who gathered in droves to listen attentively to his words, poking their heads up out of the water and refusing to leave until they had received the saint’s blessing.

Anthony died in 1231, at the age of thirty-five, and was canonized by Pope Gregory IX less than a year later. He was declared a Doctor of the Church and is especially invoked as the patron saint of lost articles.

101 Years Ago Today: What did Our Lady say at Fatima?



Preceding the second apparition, the seers, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, once again saw a great brilliance, which they called lightning. Some people in the group of fifty spectators noticed that the light of the sunlight dimmed during the first few minutes of the conversation. Others said that the top of the budding holm oak bent down, as if under the weight of something. During Our Lady's conversation with the seers, some of the bystanders heard a whispering, like the humming of a bee.

Lucia: What does Your Grace wish of me?
Our Lady: I want you to come here on the thirteenth of next month, to pray the rosary every day, and to learn to read. I shall later say what I want.
(Lucia asked for the healing of a sick person.)
Our Lady: If he converts, he will be healed within the year.
Lucia: I would like to ask you to take us to heaven.
Our Lady: Yes, I shall take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you will remain here for some time yet. Jesus wishes to use you in order to make me known and loved. He wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. I promise salvation to those who embrace it; and these souls will be beloved of God like flowers arranged by me to adorn His throne.
Lucia: Will I stay here alone?
Our Lady: No, daughter. Does that make you suffer much? Do not be dismayed. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart shall be your refuge and the road that shall lead you to God.

Lucia writes, ”Upon saying these last words, she opened her hands, and for the second time she communicated to us the reflection of that intense light. We could see ourselves in it, as if immersed in God. Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in the part of this light that went up toward heaven, and I in the part that was cast toward the ground. In front of Our Lady's right hand there was a heart encircled by thorns that seemed to pierce it. We understood that it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, insulted by the sins of humanity and which desires reparation."
When this vision ceased, the Lady, still surrounded by the light that she radiated, rose from the little tree and glided toward the east until she disappeared completely. Several persons who were closer noticed that the buds at the top of the holm oak were bent in the same direction, as if they had been drawn by the Lady's clothes. They returned to their usual position only some hours later.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

There is no problem that cannot be resolved by the Holy Rosary


The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live
has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent
that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is,
whether temporal or above all spiritual,
in the personal life of each one of us, of our families
- that cannot be solved by the Rosary.
There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is,
that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.

Sister Lucia dos Santos

St. Paula Frassinetti

Paula Frassinetti was born in Genoa, Italy into a Catholic family. At nineteen, she left home to live with her brother, who was a priest, to fulfill the call she felt toward a life of servitude to God.
Paula often assisted her brother in teaching poor children at his parish, and soon realized her vocation as an educator. In 1834, she and six other women began a school for the poor, and became known as the Sisters of St. Dorothy. The congregation grew quickly, and the schools eventually spread across Italy, then to Europe and Africa, Asia and onto the Americas, many of which remain open to this day.

Sister Paula Frassinetti died in 1882 and was canonized in 1984 by Pope John Paul II.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Our souls are fields of battle

The field of battle between God and Satan
is the human soul.
This is where it takes place every moment of our lives.
The soul must give free access to our Lord and be completely
fortified by Him with every kind of weapon.
His light must illuminate it to fight the darkness of error.
He must put on Jesus Christ, His truth and justice, the shield of faith,
the word of God to overcome such powerful enemies.
To put on Jesus Christ we must die to ourselves.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

St. Barnabas the Apostle


Though Barnabas, a Jew of Cyprus, was not one of the Twelve chosen by Our Lord, he is still considered an apostle. He was closely involved with the apostles after Pentecost, and was principally responsible for their accepting Paul, who was a recent convert, into their midst.

Barnabas was sent by the disciples to lend a guiding hand to recent evangelization efforts in Antioch. The success in Antioch led to his first official mission trip: the holy man traveled all over, preaching the Gospel to all who would listen, even the Gentiles. Barnabas took Paul with him, and the two continued to evangelize and preach the Gospel together for many years.

Later, when the two apostles decided to revisit their missions, a sharp contention arose between them over whether John Mark should accompany them, and they parted company going their separate ways: Paul with Silas to Asia Minor and Barnabas with John Mark sailing to Cyprus. In the Apostle Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians he indicates that their friendship was unimpaired by this disagreement.

It has been said that Barnabas was stoned to death at Salamis, the Greek city-state near Cyprus in about the year 60.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Irresistible Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus



O my Jesus who didst say: “Indeed I say to you, ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.” Here I am, knocking, seeking, and asking the grace (mention your request).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,I place all my trust in Thee.
 
O my Jesus who didst say: “Indeed I say to you, whatever you shall ask the Father in My name, it shall be granted to you.” Here I am, asking Thy Father in Thy name for the grace (mention your request).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee.

O my Jesus who didst say: “Indeed I say to you, heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass.” Here I am, and supporting myself on the infallibility of Thy words, I ask Thee the grace (mention your request).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee.

Prayer:
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom only one thing is impossible and that is not to feel compassion for the wretched, have pity on us, miserable sinners, and grant us the grace which we ask Thee through the Immaculate Heart of She who is Thy tender Mother and also ours. Hail Holy Queen…  
Saint Joseph foster father of Jesus, pray for us.



Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to Families
Who Honor His Most Sacred Heart:

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their families.
  3. I will bless every house in which a picture of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
  4. I will console them in all their difficulties.
  5. I will be their refuge during life and especially at the hour of death.
  6. I will shed abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
  7. Sinners shall find in My Heart a fountain and boundless ocean of mercy.
  8. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  9. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
  10. I will give to priests the power of touching the hardest hearts.
  11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.
  12. I promise thee, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all who communicate on the first Friday of the month for nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My displeasure nor without the sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.



Memorare:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.




Also Read:

This is much more profitable

One of the most admirable effects of Holy Communion
is to preserve the soul from sin, and
to help those who fall through weakness to rise again.
It is much more profitable, then, to approach this divine Sacrament
with love, respect, and confidence,
than to remain away
through an excess of fear and scrupulosity.

St. Ignatius Loyola

St. Ithamar of Rochester

We know very little about St. Ithamar, but we do know that he was consecrated to the see of Rochester after the death of St. Paulinius.

He was the first Anglo-Saxon bishop in Britain, but according to the Venerable Bede, his wisdom and piety were equal to that of his predecessors.

In 655, Ithamar consecrated a fellow countryman as the Archbishop of Canterbury. He died just a year later in 656, and many churches were dedicated to him on account of his reputation for miracles.

His relics were enshrined in 1100.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Devotion to the Heart of Mary Will Save the World

Our Lady appeared to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, and gave them messages for the world. The seers affirmed these apparitions were to be made known to the Holy Father, the Sacred Hierarchy, and to all Christendom. Thus, either the proofs are clear, certain, and conclusive, rendering the apparitions worthy of credit, or the proofs are doubtful, confusing, debatable, and the messages false. If Our Lady wanted to make her message known to the world, she would not fail to arrange the events so as to supply mankind with reasonable motives to believe the messages authenticity and she did. Therefore, if the proofs are certain and the messages are authentic, we cannot fail to attach the greatest importance to what they contain. If Our Lady really spoke to us through the seers, we must attach the highest regard to her words, meditate on them, and through diligent analysis, draw the utmost from their meaning. On the other hand, if the proofs are uncertain, we had better not waste a second on the subject. Just as one cannot somewhat believe the messages, so also one cannot merely attribute some importance to their contents.


The Gravity of the World Situation According to the Fatima Message

Our Lady spoke to the world. She described the situation as extremely grave, pointed out mankind's frightening moral decadence as the cause of this situation, and threatened us with terrible earthly punishments a new war, the spread of the errors of Communism, persecutions of the Church, and what is a thousand times worse, eternal punishment if we fail to amend, and prescribed the necessary means for us to avoid all these punishments.

Despite some happy-go-lucky optimists who close their eyes to reality and say that our world of doubt, naturalism, moral laxity and worship of earthly pleasures is in accordance with God, we must believe the contrary because the contrary is what Our Lady tells us. Some evolutionist sociologists delight in saying today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will necessarily be better than today. However, Our Lady affirms that reality is altogether different: Tomorrow will be better than today only if we amend our lives and do penance. Otherwise, no matter how much material progress is made in the realms of medicine, finance, entertainment and personal comfort, we are marching toward a huge universal collapse.

Unfortunately, many optimistic theologians also try to create a nice atmosphere by claiming that hardly anyone is ever condemned to Hell. However, Our Lady teaches the opposite, not only with words but with an invincible, concrete argument: She showed Hell to the terrified little shepherds so they can tell the world what they have seen. And we should rather believe Our Lady than a wishy-washy theologian.


Supernatural Life is the True Solution

Our Lady points out prayer, penance and amendment of ones life as fundamental remedies for the contemporary world. According to her, on these three spiritual measures hinge the maintenance of world peace, the preservation of the West against Communist propaganda, and the very survival of civilization.

This could shock many incautious Catholics who place all their hopes in human resources such as seminaries, universities, newspapers, magazines, bookstores, movie,  theaters, works of charity and social assistance. Through this concept, everything is reduced to the material realm. De-Christianization is caused by a lack of resources and means of action to promote the Faith.

The day we remedy this insufficiency we will have overcome de-Christianization. However, Our Lady appears in Fatima and does not utter a word about all these means of action. How to explain this mystery? And how to explain that the popes have recommended unceasingly that which Our Lady silenced? Are the Fatima messages in contradiction with papal guidelines?

The popes untiringly recommend using all natural and legitimate means to promote the social kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. However, in countless documents the popes also show that natural means would be useless without a continuous life of piety, mortification, and sacrifice. The soldiers of Christ must constantly bear in mind that the natural means must be channels for the grace of God; and that an apostle, whether a cleric or a lay person, must himself be a reservoir of the graces that must vivify his works.

In other words, the popes have unceasingly promoted the essential theses in Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard's book, The Soul of the Apostolate, and these are the same principles that Our Lady teaches us at Fatima. Far from discouraging us from dedicating ourselves entirely to apostolic works, the Holy Virgin nevertheless repeats the teaching of Our Lord in Bethany: One must live in close union with God, because everything emanates from this union, and without it even the best and most useful and opportune works remain sterile.

A Nation's Guardian Angel

Let us now quickly review other aspects of the Fatima messages. The apparition of the Angel of Portugal reminds us of Church doctrine, that each nation has its own Guardian Angel. There was a time when nations had a special devotion to their Guardian Angels, invoking him in their tribulations and especially in the struggle to maintain their people within the fold of the Church. Have we thought about this? Do we honor our own country's Guardian Angel?

Love and Fear of God

The Angel prayed in the presence of the shepherds who were bowed to the ground. It is an example we should imitate. In our prayers, we must be confiding, intimate, and filial. We should not forget that true filial piety does not exclude the most profound respect. This is another point in which the Fatima revelations contain precious teachings for modern man. By dint of talking constantly about democracy, at times we tend to introduce an egalitarian tone even in our relations with God.


A Devotion that Liturgists Combat

A certain liturgist mindset inside the Church for years turned Catholics against certain devotions, including worshipping the Most Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass and reciting the Holy Rosary. Still, these two devotions are strongly recommended at Fatima. To God, nothing is impossible, and had He so pleased, the three little shepherds could have been transported to some place where the Holy Sacrifice was being celebrated so they could receive Holy Communion. Yet Providence determined that an angel give them Holy Communion. If worshipping the Blessed Sacrament extra Missam was in any way opposed to the true manner of understanding the Real Presence, Divine Providence would not have decided that the Angels Eucharistic adoration and the first communion of the little shepherds take place the way it actually did.

As for recitation of the Holy Rosary, it could hardly have been recommended with greater insistence. "I am the Lady of the Rosary," revealed the Blessed Virgin at the last apparition. And in nearly all apparitions she insisted on that devotion with the little shepherds. Fortunately, both devotions are returning today by popular demand.


Devotions that Liturgists Seek to Erase from Peoples Hearts

Fatima also teaches with great insistence, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which also has been cast aside by a certain style of spirituality. All theologians have considered devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus one of the most precious graces comforting the Church over the last few centuries. It was destined to rekindle in men the love of God, numbed by the naturalism of the Renaissance and the errors of Protestants, Jansenists, deists and rationalists. It was through this devotion that, in the 19th century, the Apostolate of Prayer produced an admirable reflourishing of religious life around the world, and since the evils from which the Sacred Heart of Jesus must preserve us grow daily, obviously the need for this incomparable devotion grows accordingly.

Nevertheless, one must add that in the present aggravation of contemporary evils, Divine Providence, so to speak, wanted to outdo itself by pointing out to men the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which in a certain way refines the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and takes it to its fullness. Studies about, and devotion to, the Heart of Mary are not new. However, a simple reading of the Fatima messages shows how insistently Our Lady wants this devotion for our days. The mission she entrusted to Sister Lucia was especially to remain on earth to attract men's hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

During the visions, this devotion is often commended. At the second apparition, this Most Holy Heart appears crowned with thorns by our sins and asking for prayers of reparation on the part of mankind. It seems to us that this point, as it were, contains in itself all the treasures of the Fatima messages.

* * *

Thus, on the whole, the Fatima apparitions on the one hand instruct us about the terrible gravity of the world situation and about the true causes of our evils, and on the other hand, they teach us the means by which we must avoid the earthly and eternal punishments that await us. To people in antiquity, God sent the prophets. In our days, He spoke to us through the Queen of Prophets herself. Having thus studied what Our Lady said, what can we say?

The only suitable words are those of Our Lord in the Gospel: If any man has ears to hear, let him hear (Mark 4:23).

[Catolicismo, n. 30, June 1953.]

My Immaculate Heart

“My Immaculate Heart
will be your refuge
and the way that will lead you to God.”

Our Lady to Sister Lucia dos Santos

St. Ephrem the Syrian

Ephrem was born about the year 306 in Nisibis in Mesopotamia and is the only Syrian Doctor of the Church. He was a vigorous defender of the Faith, taking it upon himself to expose and combat many false doctrines of his time.

In 350, Ephrem and other Christians were forced to flee their homes when the Persians attacked their city. The holy deacon retired to a cave in a rocky height overlooking Edessa and lived most austerely until his death in 373.

Ephrem is known as the “Harp of the Holy Spirit” because he was a great poet and composer of holy songs. It has been said that Ephrem prayed to Our Lord to “stop the flow of inspiration” because he could not work fast enough to pen all the compositions in his head.

“St. Ephrem’s Prayer” is considered to be the Lenten prayer par excellence in the Byzantine Rite tradition as it succinctly summarizes the true spirit of Great Lent:
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency, lust for power and idle talk.
But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of chastity (integrity), humility, patience and love.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brother.
For blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Also called “the zither of Mary,” Ephrem wrote most of his compositions in his cave above Edessa, dedicating many of them to Our Lady, to whom he had a great devotion. He is credited with bringing song into the offering of the Holy Liturgy of the Mass

Pope Benedict XV proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church in 1920.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Sacred Heart: Bridge & Refuge

By Michelle Taylor
“Come to me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” Matt.11:28

Though this age stresses “happy” and “safe,” in reality it has produced a steady diet of dire news, often uncomfortably close to home: teen pregnancies, substance abuse, marriage break-ups, suicides, murder in schools and so on.
One day when sharing with a pastor of many years the news of a friend’s divorce, he sadly retorted; “And how do you think I feel, counseling couple after couple, blessing their marriages, and then watching many of those marriages hit the rocks?…”
The world has sadly turned away from God and it has become in many respects a ferocious river taking with it all that it can engulf and destroy within its torrential waters.

 

Is there a way out of the torrent?
The great saint and mystic, doctor of the Church Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), while in ecstasy, dictated an amazing book called The Dialogue. Many know it as The Dialogue of St. Catherine.

In this book God the Father describes the world and its ways as a raging torrent, and His Son, Jesus Christ, as the “bridge” on which we must climb if we wish to avoid inevitable destruction. By getting out of the river of perdition and standing on the Bridge, we are able to cross over safely from one shore–earthly life–to the other–eternal life.
Wounded and confused by the Original Sin of our first parents, our human nature easily miscalculates the river as more “exciting.” Things, pleasures and people, like water, make their way down stream while holding onto the illusion of standing on firm ground.

Our Good Lord invites us to get off the torrent and onto the safe Bridge, but we fear going against the “current,” and making the effort and the commitment of climbing onto the safe pass.
The Father speaks of this “bridge” as made from the solid virtues and example of His divine Son. This Bridge is STRONG, and SAFE. And though Our Lord Jesus Christ returned to the Father, He left us His life-giving teaching in His Church.
This teaching, says God the Father to St. Catherine, “…has been verified by the apostles, and proclaimed in the blood of the martyrs. It has been lighted up by the doctors, attested to by the confessors, and committed to writing by the evangelists…” 1
“So you see,” continues the Father, “…I have shown you my way, which is truth, and the devil’s way, which is falsehood. These are the two ways, and both are difficult.” 2
But though both ways are indeed difficult, the way of the Bridge has the promise of divine refreshment and final victory, “How foolish and blind,” says the Father, “are those who choose to cross through the water when the road (bridge) has been built for them! This road is such a joy for those who travel by it that it makes every bitterness sweet… and every burden light.” 3
But, again, like children, we are easily seduced by water. And even though the water is icy-cold and destructive, we take the plunge.

The “Bridge” as a Burning Heart.  
In the seventeenth century, God Our Lord again appeared to another saint, Margaret Mary Alacoque. He complained to her that “hearts had grown cold.” and, as a remedy, He revealed to her His burning heart.
He spoke to her of His great desire to be loved by men and of diverting souls from the path of ruin into which Satan hurls entire crowds. It was this wish which led Him to reveal His Heart, with all its treasures of love, and grace.

To those who practice this devotion to Our Lord’s exposed heart, and enthrone an image of Him thus pictured in their homes, He makes twelve amazing promises:
1.   I will give them all the graces necessary for their state in life.
2.   I will establish peace in their families.
3.   I will comfort them in their trials.
4.   I will be their secure refuge during life, and, above all, in death.
5.   I will shed abundant blessings on all their undertakings
6.   Sinners will find in My Heart an infinite ocean of mercy.
7.   Lukewarm souls will become fervent.
8.   Fervent souls will rapidly grow in holiness and perfection.
9.   I will bless every place where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10.  I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11.  The names of those who promote this devotion will be written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.
12.  I promise thee, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion (having previously gone to Confession if aware of mortal sin) on the First Friday of nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

What’s there to lose?
Let us take the Bridge. Let us enter the Refuge.
Above all, let us show our children the way to the Bridge by teaching them early about Christian virtue, self-discipline and good manners, by igniting in their hearts and minds a thirst for Scripture and Catholic doctrine, by habituating them to prayer (according to their capacity as they grow) and the life-giving Sacraments, and by dazzling them with all that is beautiful in God’s nature, centuries-old Catholic culture and history.
We couldn’t enroll them in a better “Insurance Policy” for happiness and safety. Let’s take the upward “plunge” and do what it takes to climb the bridge and enter the burning Heart of our all-powerful Father. It surely pays–here and beyond.


Notes:
1 Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue, The Classics of Western Spirituality, p.692 Ibid, p.673 Ibid, p.68
Also Read:

Sacred Heart Novena Banner

I promise you

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 Fridays of nine consecutive months
the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace,
nor without receiving the sacraments.
My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. William of York

William, Archbishop of York, is a rather intriguing saint due to the conflicts surrounding his “on again, off again” reign as archbishop, due in part to its timing. It was during a period of great civil unrest in England known as the Anarchy (1135-54) when the armies of the two cousins – Stephen of Blois and Empress Matilda – were fighting each other for the English crown. William was the nephew of Stephen of Blois, which launched his ecclesiastical career right into the middle of the political conflict.

William was the unusually young treasurer of York Minster prior to his election as Archbishop of the diocese in 1141; but, even though he was elected by majority vote and with the support of Stephen, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theobald of Bec, who stood behind Empress Matilda on the other side of the political chasm, refused to recognize the canonical election and would not consecrate William. Indignant, Stephen authorized his brother, also William’s uncle, Archbishop Henry of Winchester, to consecrate him…without waiting for papal approval. Despite this, the clergy and people of York loved their new bishop for they saw in him a man of deep and intense piety, personal austerity, kindheartedness, and devoted generosity, especially towards the poor.

However, the Cistercians of Yorkshire, who had supported Henry Murdac, the Cistercian Abbot of Fountains Abbey, in the election, with the support and help of the renowned St. Bernard of Clairvaux, succeeded in accusing him of simony, sins against chastity, and intrusion, resulting in his deposition by Pope Eugenius III (also a Cistercian) and the corresponding appointment of Henry Murdac to head the diocese in William's place. However, the clergy of York refused to admit Murdac into the city and he was forced to withdraw and retire to Beverley for the remainder of his days. He died in 1147.

From this time until 1153, William took refuge with his friend the King of Sicily, where he lived a very austere life as a monk. By this time, the opponents to his election had died and the civil war in England had ended, and William appealed to the new pope, Anastasius IV, to restore him to his office. The Pope concurred and conferred on William the papal pallium. Thus, Archbishop William reentered his diocese in April, 1154, to the accompaniment of such a mass of exuberant supporters that the bridge over the Ouse collapsed under the weight. That no one was killed in the accident is considered a miracle.

Sadly, he was hardly back in office a month, before he died on June 8th, 1154, allegedly from his chalice being poisoned during Mass. He was canonized in 1227, by Pope Honorius III due to the large number of miracles reported at his tomb.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

This drives out the devil - always!

The devil can be driven out in a thousand ways:
the only infallible way
is through obedience.

St. Joseph Marello

St. Anthony Gianelli

Anthony Maria Gianelli was born in 1789 into a middle-class family living near Genoa in the north of Italy. As a child, people were often struck by his gentle nature, industriousness, and extraordinary intelligence. When he came of age, the lady who owned the farm his family lived on became his generous benefactress and financed his schooling and entry into the ecclesiastical seminary in Genoa.

He quickly distinguished himself by his virtue and exceptional eloquence, thus earning him the unusual privilege of being allowed to preach while still a subdeacon. In 1812, when he was twenty-three years old, he was granted special dispensation to be ordained a priest two years before the required canonical age.

Although Fr. Anthony was dedicated to his educational work, he also devoted himself to the work of preaching and hosting missions which resulted in a great harvest of souls. All this was in addition to all his ordinary duties and functions as a parish priest – indeed, he was often confined to his confessional for long stretches of time in order to accommodate the endless stream of penitents who flocked to him for spiritual aid. He was ordained a bishop in 1838 and appointed to the diocese of Bibbio, where he led his flock by his extraordinary example of virtue, prudence and firm government.

Before his death from a fever in 1846, at the age of fifty-seven, Bishop Gianelli founded three religious orders - two for men and one for women. The Missionaries of St. Alphonsus and the Oblates of St. Alphonsus were established in 1827-1828; but sadly, both lasted only twenty years. The Sisters of Our Lady of the Garden were founded in 1829 and dedicated their lives to teaching poor children and caring for the ill and infirm. They are still active and well known today in Italy and in other parts of the world as well.

Anthony Gianelli was canonized in 1951 by Pope Pius XII.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Power of a Single Hail Mary

One day, when Saint Mechtilde was praying and trying to think of some way in which she could express her love of the Blessed Mother better than she had done before, she fell into ecstasy.
Our Lady appeared to her with the Angelic Salutation in flaming letters of gold upon her bosom and said to the saint, “My daughter, I want you to know that no one can please me more than by saying the salutation, which the Most Adorable Trinity sent to me and by which He raised me to the dignity of Mother of God.
“By the word Ave, which is the name for Eve, I learned that in His infinite power God had preserved me from all sin and its attendant misery that Eve had been subject to.
“The name Mary, which means ‘lady of light,’ shows that God has filled me with wisdom and light, like a shining star, to light up heaven and Earth.
“The words full of grace remind me that the Holy Spirit has showered so many graces upon me that I am able to give these graces in abundance to those who ask for them through me as Mediatrix.
“When people say The Lord is with thee, they renew the indescribable joy that was mine when the Eternal Word became incarnate in my womb.
“When you say to me blessed art thou among women, I praise Almighty God’s divine mercy, which lifted me to this exalted plane of happiness.
“And at the words blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, the whole of heaven rejoices with me to see my Son Jesus Christ adored and glorified for having saved mankind.”
*Adapted from Saint Louis de Montfort’s The Secret of the Rosary (Montfort Publications, Bay Shore, N.Y., 1954), 44–45.

God gave Himself

God gave Himself
to you:
give yourself to God.
St. Robert Southwell

St. Norbert of Magdeburg

Norbert was born in the year 1080 in Xanten, Germany, to a noble and wealthy family. Norbert lived a life of pleasure until one day he lost consciousness after being thrown from his horse during a thunderstorm. He awoke an hour later, and said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” “Turn from evil and do good: seek after peace and pursue it,” came the heavenly reply.

After his conversion, Norbert pursued the priesthood and was ordained in 1115. He received special permission from the Pope to preach the Gospel wherever he chose. Fiinding himself at Prémontré in France, Norbert founded a community under the rule of St. Augustine, with the sanction of the Holy See. At first, Norbert had only thirteen followers but the numbers increased to forty by 1121 and by 1125, eight abbeys and two convents had been established.

In 1126, Norbert was chosen Archbishop of Magdeburg. He struggled to reform the clergy, many of whom were leading careless lives, and ultimately succeeded in his reformation endeavors. Four years later, he defended Pope Innocent II, whose claim to the papacy was threatened by Antipope Anacletus II. Norbert won over the hierarchy of the Church in Germany to Innocent’s cause and influenced the German King Lothar to defend Innocent.

Norbert died in Magdeburg in 1134 at the age of fifty-three. He was formally recognized as a saint by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Novena to Saint Anthony



OPENING PRAYER:
O wonderful St. Anthony, gloriously named “Miracle Worker” on account of your many miracles and through the sweetness of Jesus coming in the form of a little child to rest in your arms, obtain for me from His bounty the grace which I ardently desire from the depths of my heart. You who were so compassionate toward miserable sinners, regard not the unworthiness of those who pray to you, but the glory of God that it may once again be magnified by the granting of the particular request which I now ask with complete trust in your kindness. Amen.
One Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father.
Saint Anthony, pray for us!



DAY ONE DAY TWO DAY THREE
DAY FOUR DAY FIVE DAY SIX
DAY SEVEN DAY EIGHT DAY NINE
  CONCLUDING PRAYERS  



DAY ONE
O holy St. Anthony, gentlest of saints, your love for God and charity for His creatures made you worthy while on earth to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited your word, which you were ever ready to speak for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me the favor I seek in this novena. The answer to my prayer may require a miracle; even so, you are the Saint of miracles. O gentle and loving Saint Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the Infant Jesus, Who loved to be folded in your arms, and the gratitude of my heart will always be yours.
One Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father.
Saint Anthony, pray for us!



DAY TWO
O miracle-working St. Anthony, remember that it never has been heard that you did not leave without help or relief anyone who in his need had recourse to you. Animated now with the most lively confidence, even with full conviction of not being refused, I fly for refuge to you, O most favored friend of the Infant Jesus. Eloquent preacher of the Divine mercy, despise not my supplications but, bringing them before the throne of God, strengthen them by your intercession and obtain for me the favor I seek in this novena.
One Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father.
Saint Anthony, pray for us!



DAY THREE
O purest St. Anthony, who through thine Angelic virtue was made worthy to be caressed by the Divine Child Jesus, to hold Him in your arms and press Him to your heart. I entreat you to cast a benevolent glance upon me. O glorious St. Anthony, born under the protection of Mary Immaculate, on the Feast of her Assumption into Heaven, and consecrated to her and now so powerful an intercessor in Heaven, I beseech you to obtain for me the favor I ask in this novena. O great wonder-worker, intercede for me that God may grant my request.
One Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father.
Saint Anthony, pray for us!




DAY FOUR
I salute and honor you, O powerful helper, St. Anthony. The Christian world confidently turns to you and experiences your tender compassion and powerful assistance in so many necessities and sufferings that I am encouraged in my need to seek your help in obtaining a favorable answer to my request for the favor I seek in this novena. O holy St. Anthony, I beseech you, obtain for me the grace that I desire.
One Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father.
Saint Anthony, pray for us!



DAY FIVE
I salute you, St. Anthony, lily of purity, ornament and glory of Christianity. I salute you, great Saint, cherub of wisdom and seraph of Divine love. I rejoice at the favors our Lord has so liberally bestowed upon you. In humility and confidence, I entreat you to help me, for I know that God has given you charity and pity, as well as power. I ask you by the love you felt toward the Infant Jesus as you held Him in your arms to tell Him now of the favor I seek in this novena.
One Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father.
Saint Anthony, pray for us!




DAY SIX
O glorious St. Anthony, chosen by God to preach His Word, you received from Him the gift of tongues and the power of working the most extraordinary miracles. O good St. Anthony, pray that I may fulfill the will of God in all things so that I may love Him, with you, for all eternity. O kind St. Anthony, I ask you, obtain for me the grace that I desire, the favor I seek in this novena.
One Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father.
Saint Anthony, pray for us!



DAY SEVEN
O renowned champion of the faith of Christ, most holy St. Anthony, glorious for your many miracles, obtain for me from the bounty of my Lord and God the grace which I ardently seek in this novena. O holy St. Anthony, ever attentive to those who invoke your assistance, grant me the aid of your powerful intercession.
One Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father.
Saint Anthony, pray for us!





DAY EIGHT
O holy St. Anthony, you have shown yourself to be so powerful, so tender and so compassionate towards those who honor you and invoke you in suffering and distress. I ask you most humbly and earnestly to take me under your protection in my present necessities and to obtain for me the favor I desire. Recommend my request to the merciful Queen of Heaven, that she may plead my cause with you before the throne of her Divine Son.
One Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father.
Saint Anthony, pray for us!



DAY NINE
Saint Anthony, servant of Mary, glory of the Church, pray for our Holy Father, our bishops, our priests, our Religious Orders, that, through their pious zeal and apostolic labors, all may be united in faith and give greater glory to God. St. Anthony, helper of all who invoke you, pray for me and intercede for me before the throne of Almighty God that I be granted the favor I so earnestly seek in this novena.
One Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father.
Saint Anthony, pray for us!




CONCLUDING PRAYERS
May the Divine assistance remain always with us. Amen.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
O God, may devotion to blessed Anthony, Thy confessor, be a source of joy to Thy Church, that she may always be fortified with spiritual assistance, and deserve to enjoy eternal rewards. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Read:

The Church is like a great ship

In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church
is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses.
Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course.

St. Boniface of Mainz

St. Boniface of Mainz

Boniface was born Winfrid around the year 680 to a respected and noble English family, and it was to his father’s great displeasure that, at the young age of five, his son devoted himself to the monastic life.

Educated at the monastery school close to Exeter, with further studies guided by the monks and, later, directed by the learned Abbot Winbert at the Abbey of Nursling in Winchester, Boniface became a very learned and popular scholar. His popularity and skill in teaching attracted many other students and scholars, for whose benefit he wrote the first Latin grammar known to have been compiled in English. After continued studies, he was ordained to the priesthood at the age of thirty.

Convinced of his calling to be a missionary, Winfrid declined the position of abbot at the monastery of Nursling and obtained from his superior permission to travel to Frisia to assist the famous missionary, St. Willibrord, who had been struggling for a long time to bring the Gospel home to his people. However, the mission ended in failure and Winfrid was forced to return to England a few months later.

Refusing to give up though, Winfrid set out for Rome to ask the Holy Father himself for an official mission and the backing of the Church. Pope Gregory II consented, gave him the new name of Boniface, and assigned him to work in German Thuringia, where the Church was in bad shape, isolated, and subjected to superstition and heresy. However, Boniface received no help from the local clergy and once more traveled to Frisia to join Willibrord and to be trained by the expert missionary. He was so helpful that St. Willibrord wanted to make Boniface his successor; but after three years of formation, Boniface still felt the pull of the missionary work in Germany that he had left behind. Returning first to Rome where he was consecrated bishop by the pope, Boniface set out once more for Hesse.

Boniface had enormous work ahead of him. The pagans, though attracted to Christianity, were still bound by fear and superstition to their old religion and gods. To prove to them the falseness of their beliefs and the reality of the one true God, Boniface called the people together and, approaching the “sacred” oak of Geismar, struck it down with an axe, whereupon it split into four parts and fell to the grown in the shape of a cross. Yet, there stood Boniface, still holding his axe, unharmed by their gods.

The work of evangelization and conversion advanced steadily thereafter; and in answer to his appeal, monks and nuns enthusiastically began to arrive from England to assist him.

Boniface also lent his own support to the Frankish Church which was also in sad need of repair, setting up councils and synods and instituting reforms which revitalized the Church there.

One day, while camped in the open fields near the banks of the little river Borne with his attendants, he was awaiting the arrival of some confirmandi when they were attacked by a hostile band of pagans. The saint exhorted his companions to faith and courage and they all died the death of martyrs. St. Boniface’s body was taken to Fulda where it still rests.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Despair is the last extreme of selfishness and self-love

Children in a family without love
become rebellious, recalcitrant, stubborn,
selfish and cruel.
Adults who live in a loveless or Godless world
end in despair
which is the last extreme of self-love.
Those who are loved
become kind, ready for service
and quick to love others.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Francis Caracciolo

On October 15, 1563 Francis Caracciolo was born into a noble Italian family. When he was twenty-two, he developed a skin disease similar to leprosy. The disease was incurable, but Francis vowed that if he was healed, he would dedicate his life to God and the service of others. He quickly recovered after his vow and the healing was reported to be miraculous.

Francis then became a priest, and on June 1, 1588, officially began the Minor Clerks Regular, an order that combined the active with the contemplative life. Some of the priests and brothers lived in hermitages, devoting themselves entirely to prayer and contemplation, but the others worked mainly as missionaries and attended to those in hospitals and prisons.

Though he was opposed to filling the post himself, Francis eventually became superior. For seven years he remained in this position, all the while taking his turn maintaining household tasks. He founded houses in Madrid, Valladolid and Alcala before being allowed to retire in 1607 that he might prepare himself for death.

In 1608, at the age of forty-four, Francis was seized with a fever and died. He was canonized in 1807.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

How much love?

The particular object of this devotion
 [to the Sacred Heart of Jesus]
is the immense love of the Son of God which induced Him
to deliver Himself up to death for us and
to give Himself entirely to us in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.
The thought of all the ingratitude and all the outrages
which He was to receive in this state of immolated victim until the end of time
did not prevent Him from operating this prodigy.
He preferred to expose Himself each day to the insults and opprobrium of men
rather than be prevented from testifying
– by working the greatest of all miracles –
to what excess He loved us!

Fr. Jean Croiset, spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. Charles Lwanga and Companions

Charles Lwanga was one of twenty-two Ugandan martyrs who were converted from paganism by the Society of Missionaries of Africa. Chief of the royal pages, Charles eventually became a moral leader: he protected the other pages from the immoral demands of the Babandan ruler, Mwanga, and instructed them in the Catholic Faith, even baptizing some of them. He inspired and encouraged his companions to remain chaste and to be faithful to God even through imprisonment and persecution.
When Mwanga began to see the Catholics as a threat to his rule, he sentenced them to death. He ordered his pages into a great room and ordered the Catholics to separate themselves from the rest. Then he asked if they intended to remain true to their faith, even when faced with persecution. “Until death!” they responded.

On June 3, 1886, the converts were tortured and burned alive. Soon persecution spread, and more and more Catholics were sacrificing their lives rather than deny Christ. The twenty-two martyrs were solemnly beatified in 1920 and canonized in 1946.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

June: The Month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus


 

Hope of a Hopeless World
If there is an age whose sole hope lies in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is our own. The evils committed by mankind today can scarcely be exaggerated. To mention just a few, these include blasphemy, the destruction of the family through abortion, divorce, euthanasia, widespread pornography, immoral fashions and lifestyles, homosexuality and so on. As Pope Pius XI once said, the contemporary world is so morally depraved that at any moment it could be plunged into a deeper spiritual misery than that reigning in the world when Our Blessed Redeemer was born. In consideration of so many crimes, the idea of divine vengeance naturally comes to mind. When we view this sinful world, groaning beneath the weight of a thousand crises and a thousand afflictions but nevertheless unrepentant; when we consider the alarming progress of neo-paganism, which is on the verge of conquering humanity; and when, on the other hand, we consider the lack of resolve, foresight, and unity among the so-called remnant, we are understandably terrified at the grim prospects of catastrophes that this generation may be calling upon itself.

There is something liberal in imagining that so many crimes do not deserve punishment, that such a widespread apostasy of humanity is merely the fruit of some intellectual error without moral accountability. The reality is otherwise, for God does not abandon His creatures. Rather, He continuously assists and supports them with sufficient grace to aid them in choosing the right path. If they choose to follow a way other than His, the responsibility is theirs.

Behold the grim picture of the contemporary world: on one hand, an iniquitous and sinful civilization and, on the other, the Creator holding high the divine scourge. Is there nothing left for mankind but fire and brimstone? As we begin a new millennium, can we hope for a future other than the scourge foretold by Sacred Scriptures for the final impenitence of the last days? Were God to act solely according to His justice, there is no doubt what we should expect. Indeed, could we even have made it as far as the twentieth century? Nevertheless, since God is not only just but also merciful, the gates of salvation have not yet been shut against us. A people unrelenting in its impiety has every reason to expect God’s rigor. However, He Who is infinitely merciful, does not want the death of this sinful generation but that it “be converted...and live” (Ezech.18:23). His grace thus insistently pursues all men, inviting them to abandon their evil ways and return to the fold of the Good Shepherd.

If an impenitent humanity has every reason to fear every catastrophe, a repentant humanity has every reason to expect every mercy. Indeed, for God’s mercy to be poured on the contrite sinner, his repentance need not have run its full course. Even while still in the depths of the pit, if the sinner but sincerely and earnestly turn to God with a budding repentance in his heart, he will immediately find help, for God never disregards him.
The Holy Ghost says in Sacred Scripture: “Can a woman forget her infant…. And if she should forget, yet will not I forget thee” (Isa. 49:15). That is, even in such extreme cases where even a mother gives up, God does not. God’s mercy benefits the sinner even while divine justice cuts him down on the way of iniquity. Modern man cannot lose sight of these two basic concepts of divine justice and divine mercy—justice lest we dare presume that we can save ourselves without merits; mercy, so that we do not despair of our salvation as long as we repent and start anew.


God is charity, so the simple mention of the Most Holy Name of Jesus evokes love. It is the infinite, limitless love that drove the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity to become man. It is the love expressed in the utter humiliation of a God Who comes to us as a poor infant, born in a cave. It is the love shown in those thirty years of hidden life spent in the humility of the strictest poverty, in the three grueling years of evangelization, when the Son of Man traveled highways and country roads, climbed mountains, crossed valleys, rivers and lakes, visited cities and villages, walked through deserts and hamlets, spoke to rich and poor, dispensing love and, for the most part, reaping ingratitude. It is the love manifested in that supreme moment of the Last Supper when, after generously washing the feet of His apostles, He instituted the Holy Eucharist. It is the love of that last kiss taken from Judas, of that poignant look at Peter, of those insults received and born patiently and meekly, of those sufferings endured until the last drop of blood was shed. It is the love in that last pardon of Dismas, which enabled the dying thief to steal heaven. Finally, it is the love manifested in the supreme gift of a heavenly mother for a wretched humanity! Each of these episodes has been painstakingly studied by the learned, wondrously reproduced by artists, devoutly contemplated by saints, and, above all, incomparably celebrated in the Divine Liturgy.

In venerating the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Church specially praises the infinite love demonstrated by Our Lord Jesus Christ to men. Since His heart is the symbol of love, by venerating His Heart, the Church celebrates Love.


Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
Many and beautiful are the invocations used by Holy Mother Church in reference to Our Blessed Lady. Yet, every single one of these clearly underscores her relationship to God’s love. Each celebrates either a gift of God to her, to which she was perfectly faithful, or some special power or influence she has with her Divine Son.
Now, what are God’s gifts but a special manifestation of His love? And what is Our Lady’s power of intercession with God in our favor but a sublime aspect of God’s special love for us? Thus, it is perfectly appropriate to call her Speculum Justitiae, “mirror of justice” on one hand and “omnipotent intercessor” on the other. She is the mirror of justice because God so loved her that He concentrated in her all perfections possible to a human creature. In no other creature is He so well reflected as in her. Thus, she mirrors His justice perfectly. She is the omnipotent intercessor because no grace is obtained without Our Lady and there is no grace she cannot obtain for us. Thus, on invoking Mary as Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, we make a beautiful synthesis of all the other invocations; we recall the purest reflection of the Divine Maternity; we simultaneously strike all the chords of love in beautiful harmony, the same chords we strike when we recite her litany or sing the Salve Regina.

Yet, there is one other invocation of Our Lady that I especially wish to recall. It is “Advocate of Sinners.” Our Lord Jesus Christ is our judge, and as great as is His mercy, He nevertheless remains our supreme judge and cannot fail to exercise His judicial duty. But Our Lady is our advocate and does solely what an advocate is supposed to do—defends the accused. Do we not have in Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, the Advocate of Sinners, an all-powerful advocate before the bar of divine justice whose pleas for mercy will not be refused? To say then, that Our Lady of the Sacred Heart is our advocate is equivalent to saying that we have an omnipotent advocate in heaven who holds the golden key to an infinite store of mercy. So, what better solution for a sinful humanity, a humanity that falls deeper into sin if justice is not mentioned but despairs of salvation if it is mentioned? By all means, let justice be mentioned; it is a duty; its omission has produced only sorry fruits. But right alongside justice, which targets the sinner, let us never forget mercy. Mercy helps the seriously repentant sinner to abandon sin and thus be saved as He desires with all His Heart—the Sacred Heart of Jesus.