From The Victories of the Martyrs by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, one of my two “favorite” Saints, some excerpts from a sermon he gave on The Dolors of Mary. The excerpt is cut and pasted from pages towards the back of the book which are not numbered, which makes referencing them extra fun. At any rate, with the “Little Christmas” of The Annunciation coming up this Saturday, I thought it timely to post this material, which closes with the four promises made to St. Elizabeth of Hungary by our Blessed Lord, concerning the benefits He would shower on those who develop a deep devotion of, and meditation on, the Dolors of Our Sorrowful Mother:
To understand how great was the grief of Mary we must understand, says Cornelius a Lapide, how great was the love she bore her Son.” But who can ever measure this love? Blessed Amadeus says that “natural love towards Him as her Son, and supernatural love towards Him as her God, were united in the heart of Mary.” Those two loves were blended into one, and this so great a love that William of Paris does not hesitate to assert, that Mary loved Jesus “as much as it was possible for a pure creature to love Him.” So that, as Richard of St. Victor says, “as no other creature ever loved God as much as Mary loved Him, so there never was any sorrow like Mary’s sorrow.”…….
…….St. Bernadine of Siena even says that “the sufferings of Mary were such, that had they been divided amongst all creatures capable of suffering, they would have caused their immediate death.” Who, then, can ever doubt that the martyrdom of Mary was without its equal, and that it exceeded the sufferings of all the martyrs; since, as St. Antoninus says, “they suffered in the sacrifice of theri own lives; but the Blessed Virgin suffered by offering the life of her Son of God, a life which she loved far more than her own.”
………[L]et us be devout to the dolors of Mary, Saint Albert the Great writes, that “as we are under great obligations to Jesus Christ for His death, so also are we under great obligations to Mary for the grief she endured when she offered her Son to God by death for our salvation.” This the angel revealed to St. Bridget: he said that the Blessed Virgin, to see us saved, herself offered the life of her Son to the Eternal Father; a sacrifice which cost her greater suffering than all the torments of the martyrs, or even death itself. But the divine Mother complained to St. Bridget that very few pitied her in her sorrows, and that the greater part of the world lived in entire forgetfulness of them. Therefore she exhorted the saint, saying: “Though many forget me, do not thou, my daughter, forget me.” For this purpose the Blessed Virgin herself appeared in the year 1239 to the founder of the Order of Servites, or servants of Mary, to desire them to institute a religious order in remembrance of her sorrows; and this they did.
Jesus Himself one day spoke to Blessed Veronica of Binasco, saying, “Daughter, tears shed over My Passion are dear to Me; but as I love My Mother Mary with an immense love, the meditation of the sorrows which she endured at My death is also very dear to Me.” It is also well to know, as Pelbart relates it, that it was revealed to St. Elizabeth of Hungary, that our Lord had promised four special graces to those who are devout to the dolors of Mary: first, that those who before death invoke the divine Mother, in the name of her sorrows, should obtain true repentance of all their sins; second, that He would protect all who have this devotion in their tribulations, and that He would protect them especially at the hour of death; third, that He would impress upon their minds the remembrance of His Passion, and that they should have their reward for it in Heaven; fourth, that He would commit such devout clients to the hands of Mary, with the power to dispose of them in whatever manner she might please, and to obtain for them all the graces she might desire.
I have great appreciation for the all the writings of the Moral Doctor (Liguori), but I have found The Victories of the Martyrs the least best of the nine volumes of his ascetical writings that I have read to date. Saint Alphonsus, probably due to limitations of time, focused exclusively on the early martyrs of the Roman Empire, and then skipped ahead to covering the 17th century martyrs of Japan, which he covered in detail one might describe as excruciating. There is nothing in between, even with the martyrdom (white or red) of millions of Catholics at the hands of muslims, or Eastern Orthodox, or pagans in northern Europe, or wherever.
Certainly a volume attempting to category every major Christian martyr from every time would quickly turn into a library itself, but I was hoping that the saint might cover a bit broader range of martyrs both chronologically and geographically. Perhaps my expectations were out of line.
Please understand, I am not saying I don’t like the book. Only that compared to the sublime excellence of the other eight volumes I’ve read, this one was only very good. So far, I still have probably 50-60 pages left (it’s hard to tell, with the inexplicable editorial decision not to number the last 100-odd pages). Perhaps I’ll be blown away in the 10% or so remaining, but perhaps not.
I am looking forward to seeing other volumes by Liguori, who wrote torrentially, translated into English (or re-printed, since there are translations long out of print). The twenty-two volumes of his ascetical works were only a small portion of his total output. Since good souls have taken on the project of translating much of Bellarmine’s writings into English (previously available only in Latin), I pray they consider delving into this saint, as well.
That is, if anyone at Mediatrix Press is
listening reading. Hint.
There are actually nine counsels in total, but that would make far too long of a post, so I picked a few I thought might be common temptations people experience when trying to focus on prayer and/or meditation. I pray you find this commentary useful, they come from pp. 136-9 of St. Peter’s Treatise on Prayer and Meditation:
Against temptations to infidelity, the remedy for a man is to reflect on the littleness of human nature, on the one hand, and on the greatness of God on the other. Let him think of the Commandments of God without being curious to scrutinize His works, since much that we see altogether exceeds our understanding. As for one who would enter into this sanctuary of the works of God, let him approach with great humility and reverence and lift up the simple eyes of the dove, not those of a malevolent serpent, and let his heart be as that of a disciple and not as that of one ready to judge rashly. Let him become as a little child, for to such does God declare His secrets. Let him not strive to know the why of the works of God; let him close the eye of his understanding and open that of his faith, for this is the instrument with which to examine the works of God. For studying the works of man, it is excellent, this eye of human reason; but for seeing those that are divine, there is nothing more completely unfit.
As this temptation is also usually most trying……..so is the remedy the same – viz;, to make light of it. It is a trial rather than a fault. There can be no fault where the will is opposed, as we have already declared.
Some people, when the set themselves to pray alone and by night, are harassed by terrifying imaginations. The remedy for this temptation is to do violence to oneself and to persevere in one’s exercises. Our fear increases if we fly from it, while our courage grows stronger as we resist. It is well to reflect that neither the devil nor any power at all can devise anything to our harm without Our Lord’s permission. Useful also is it to remember that we have by our side our Angel Guardian and that he is even nearer to us in prayer than at other times, for then he stands by to help us and to bear our prayers heavenwards and to shield us from the enemy, who thus is powerless to do us any harm.
…….As for temptations to distrust and to presumption, these being contrary vices, differing remedies must naturally be applied. For distrust, the remedy is to consider that in this business success is not to be achieved by personal efforts alone, but by the Grace of God, which is secured all the more promptly in proportion as a man is distrustful of his own strength and confident in the sole goodness of God, to whom all is possible.
For presumption, the remedy lies in remembering that there is no surer sign of being far away from God than fancying one is near, for on this journey those who cover the more ground are those precisely who are the quicker to see how very much is still wanting to them. Hence they make little of what they have when they compare it to what they long for. Use the lives of the Saints and of other holy persons still living as you would a mirror; consider yourself therein, and finding that compared to them you are like a dwarf in the presence of a giant, you will no longer be filled with presumption.
I especially like that last one. If souls striving to be devout have a weakness, it might be towards presumption or self-exaltation. Thank God I am not like those dirty sinners over there. Being always cognizant of our own sins and failings is, as Saint Peter relates, a great means to overcome this particular temptation to pride.
This book is very good. I strongly recommend it.
A Beautiful, Edifying Episode from the Life of St. Simeon Stylite January 26, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, episcopate, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, history, Interior Life, mortification, reading, Saints, sanctity, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
The man who stood upon ever-taller stone columns for decades, St. Simeon Stylite is probably better known among Eastern Christians than those in the West. Fortunately, St. Francis de Sales included the following episode from the life of St. Simeon Stylite in some of his letters, letters which were compiled into a book called Finding God’s Will For You. There are serious lessons regarding obedience in this tale, too, but obedience is an issue so fraught with peril in today’s Church, where so much of the leadership has gone amok. How to deal with authority that is demanding acceptance of grave sin and destructive error under threat of severe persecution? There are writings from the Tradition that help guide us, but they are not terribly voluminous or comprehensive.
This situation we are going through is not entirely unique. In the protestant revolt, whole bishops and princes tried to take dioceses and countries into error. Did souls go along, under obedience or more prurient motives? Most did. But in almost every locale, some remained faithful. Many of those are called Saints or Blesseds today.
I think the lesson, as it develops below, also serves as a guide to us. Worthy shepherds will give broad latitude to subordinates who show a willingness to be obedient. But those seeking to impose their will, and heterodox beliefs, on the Church, will always seek to impose their will in virtually every regard, and won’t grant such latitude. Whenever it comes down to promotion of error, subordinates are freed from their duty of obedience. Unfortunately, those seeking to impose a different religion often know how to mask their efforts to at least some degree, making the process of discernment a most difficult one. Pray that God may enlighten you as to which matters require your obedience.
Anyway, from Finding God’s Will For You, pp. 61-2:
While the incomparable Simeon Stylites was still a novice at Telada (a monastery in Syria), he refused to respond to the advice of his superiors who wished to keep him from practicing the many strange forms of austerity he observed with inordinate severity. For this reason he was expelled from the monastery as a man not very susceptible to mortification of heart and much given to that of the body. Afterward he came to his senses, became more devout and wiser in the spiritual life, and behaved quite differently, as is proved by the following event.
When the hermits who were scattered about the desert regions near Antioch learned of the extraordinary life he led on his pillar, where he seemed to be either an angel on earth or a man from Heaven, they sent him a representative whom they instructed to speak for them in the following fashion: “Simeon, why have you left the great path of the devout life, trodden by so many great and holy predecessors, and followed another path unknown to men and far distant from everything seen or heard of up to the present? Simeon, get down from that pillar, and join the others in the way of life and method of serving God used by those good fathers who were our predecessors.”
In the event that Simeon agreed with their advice and showed himself ready and willing to descend from his pillar so as to condescend to their will, the hermits had instructed their messenger to leave him free to persevere in the kind of life he had begun. Bu such obedience, those good fathers said, they could easily recognize that he had entered this kind of life under divine inspiration. On the contrary, if he resisted, despised their exhortation, and wished to follow his own will, then they resolved that it would be necessary to take him down by force and make him give up his pillar. [These were most wise shepherds with the love of Christ in their hearts. They are happy to give wide space for novel forms of devotion, even when they do not fully understand them, provided sufficient submission to Christ and His Church is evident]
When the deputy had arrived at the pillar, he had no sooner announced his mission than the great Simeon without delay, without reservation, and without any reply, started to descend with obedience and humility worthy of his rare sanctity. When the delegate saw this, he said, “Simeon, stop and stay there, persevere with constancy, and have good courage. Follow valiantly your enterprise. Your sojourn on that pillar is from God.”
….I implore you to observe carefully how those holy anchorites of old in general meeting found no surer mark of heavenly inspiration in a matter so extraordinary as the life of St. Stylites than to see that he was simple, gentle, and tractable under the laws of most holy obedience. God blessed the submission of that great man and gave him the grace to persevere for thirty whole years upon a column more than fifty feet high….Thus this bird of paradise, living in air and not touching earth, was a spectacle of love for angels and of admiration for men. In obedience, everything is safe, apart from obedience, all is subject to suspicion……..
……..A man who ways that he is inspired and then refuses to obey his superiors and follow their advice is an impostor. All prophets and preachers inspired by God have always loved the Church, always adhered to Her Doctrine, and always had Her approval……… [When the superiors give evidence of being impostors by not adhering to Doctrine, the entire machine breaks down. Especially when even the highest authority gives such evidence. The great trouble is, after 50 years of successively advancing inculcation of error in souls, there are very few who don’t hold erroneous beliefs, who don’t support some form of abuse. If it were not for her supernatural element, I daresay, the machine stops.]
I get in “trouble,” sometimes, as I am viewed as not being sufficiently supportive, or critical, of groups like the SSPX. But in this time of mass confusion and untold calamity, I have a difficult time telling someone “you err” in their differing responses to the crisis. I do have some limits – I think sede vacantists go too far, and those who reject the Church altogether and leave for some other sect/church – but overall I have a hard time blaming someone, in this unending mass of confusion and conflict, from arriving at a little bit different conclusion than my own. I think the key remains: “Love God, and do what you will.” I pray He will be merciful and understanding with us all who are groping about in the dark in this time of so little light.
Ten Hindrances to Devotion by St. Peter of Alcantara January 24, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Domestic Church, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, mortification, priests, reading, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
Part two, as promised in yesterday’s post, which provided aids to developing a rich interior life. Today’s post covers those things that tend to inhibit the development of a strong practice of devotion to Our Lord and Lady. From Treatise on Prayer and Meditation pp. 128-131:
Just as there are certain things which help with devotion, so there are others which impede it. Among the latter:
1] Sin is the first, and not merely mortal sin, but venial sins also; for these, although they do not deprive us of charity, diminish the fervor of charity, which is practically the same thing as devotion. Consequently, we should be very much on our guard against them, not so much for the evil they work in us as for th egreat good of which they despoil us.
2] A second hindrance is the remorse of conscience, when it is excessive, which proceeds from these sins, for it disturbs and casts down the soul, frightens it and makes it unfit for every good work. [Excessive lamentations or remorse can also be a sign of pride, as in thinking one too good to have done X or Y. Just something to keep in mind. We certainly should have remorse for our sins, but that remorse should lead to humility and an understanding of our total need for God’s Grace, and not deep depression or other disturbances of our interior life]
3] Scruples, for the same reason, constitute another hindrance. They are like thorns, allowing the soul no rest, so that it can neither repose in God nor enjoy true peace. [Being afflicted with scruples can be a truly hellish experience, and one almost always self-inflicted. I have a daughter that is struggling with certain scruples, please pray for her.]
4] Every kind of bitterness and sourness of heart and unreasoning depression are also hindrances, for then one can hardly relish the taste and sweetness of a good conscience and of spiritual joy.
5] Overmuch worry is a further hindrance. Cares are like the flies of Egypt, which distress the soul and prevent it from enjoying that spiritual rest which is experienced in prayer. It is precisely then, more than at other times, that they disturb the soul and turn it away from this exercise. [A trend should be discernible – anything that tends to rob the soul of peace for long periods are detrimental to the interior life. Something to consider when we get exercised over the state of things in the Church and world today. A certain level of knowledge is of course beneficial and even necessary, but if reading news begins to seriously affect our peace of soul or derail our practice of the Faith – or even, God forbid, tempts us to fall away – then we need to retract from whatever is causing us to lose peace and focus on other, happier things, at least for a while]
6] Too many occupations are also a hindrance, for they take up much time, stifle the soul, and leave a man without leisure or heart for divine things. [Recreation is necessary. So are distractions, at times.]
7] Pleasure and worldly consolations, if indulged in to excess, hinder a man from prayer. “He who devotes himself overmuch to the delights of the world,” says St. Bernard, “does not deserve those of the Holy Ghost.”
8] Delicacy and abundance in food and drink form another hindrance, and especially long-drawn-out meals. These are a very bad foundation for spiritual exercises and devout watching. When the body is weighed down and charged in excess with food, the soul is very unfitted to soar aloft.
9] The vice of curiosity in the senses and in the intellect is a hindrance too. Seeking to hear and see all sorts of things, wishing to have about oneself things that are pretty or quaint…..all this takes up time, embarrasses the senses, disturbs the soul and diverts it in every direction, and thus impedes devotion. [We must be very careful in what we allow ourselves, and our families, to be exposed to. Everyone has their own needs, their own limits, and their own weaknesses. The best way to proceed is experientially, paying attention to how we feel and how we behave, internally and externally, to see if new or changed levels of stimuli produce a positive or negative effect in our spiritual lives. Anything that tends towards the negative must be eliminated or sharply curtailed.]
10] Finally, any interruption of the holy exercises, unless for a good and pious reason, is a hindrance, for as a learned writer said, the spirit of devotion is something very delicate, and once it goes, it either does not return at all, or at least only after much difficulty. [While St. Peter was originally writing primarily for religious, thus the seriousness of an interruption of the exercises religious are required under duty and obedience to perform, we can still take from this an understanding that we should try to develop a regular prayer regimen for ourselves, to the extent possible, and not deviate from it. We should not allow our concentration to be interrupted during prayer time by needless distractions. Prayers said mechanically are unworthy of significant grace. Strive to grow in focus during periods of prayer and meditation]
Thank you for the kind comments to the previous post on St. Peter of Alcantara. His book is excellent. He’s been hard to excerpt, but these two short chapters were perfect for a blog. I’ll certainly share anything else I can that is not too onerous for online reading.
Some Spiritual Gems from the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer January 9, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Our Lady, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
A few excerpts from recent issues of the awesome Catholic newspaper, published by the Transalpine Redemptorists quarterly. The first is on humility, the second contains statements by various Saints in praise of Our Blessed Mother.
On Humility: These lessons may seem superficial, even credulous, but they are actually very powerful. What we learn below is that all our acts of piety – hours of prayer, great acts of penance, numerous devotions, fasting, etc. – can all be undone of spiritual benefit if we lack humility. In fact, humility is the prerequisite for advance in the interior life. It’s also one of the most difficult to obtain virtues, so contrary to our nature is it. Humility comes from meekness, which comes from willed embrace of suffering – something our natures and the entire world scream at us is unnatural and unacceptable. Enough of me, the quote from Catholic:
The most powerful weapon for overcoming the devil is humility, because as he is a perfect stranger to the employment of it, so he knows not how to defend himself against it – St. Vincent de Paul
One day, as St. Macarius was returning to his cell, he met the devil with a scythe in his hand: the fiend endeavored to wound him, and cut him in two with it; but he was unable to do so, because the moment he came near to him he lost all his strength. Upon which, being filled with rage, he said to him, “I suffer great violence from thee, O Macarius, because though I greatly desire to hurt thee, I am unable to do so. Strange indeed it is! I do all that you do, and even more: you fast sometimes, and I never eat at all; you sleep but little, it is true, but I never close my eyes; you are chaste and so am I; in one respect alone you surpass me.” “And what is that?” replied Macarius. The devil answered, “It is in your great humility.” And having said this, he disappeared without letting the saint behold him another moment.
On a certain occasion the devil appeared to a monk in the form of the Archangel Gabriel, and told him that he was sent to him by God; but the monk feeling himself altogether unworthy of such a visit replied, “See if you were not sent to another,” and forthwith the devil disappeared.
As an aged priest was exorcising a possessed individual, the devil said he would never leave that body until he had told him who were the goats and who the lambs. The good priest immediately replied, “the goats are all those who are like me; who the lambs are is known to God.” At which words the devil cried out aloud, “I am forced by thy humility to go away,” and forthwith he fled.
In Praise of Mary: No introduction needed.
Seek refuge in Mary because she is the city of refuge. We know that Moses set up three cities of refuge for anyone who inadvertently killed his neighbor. Now the Lord has established a refuge of mercy, Mary, even for those who deliberately commit evil. Mary provides shelter and strength for the sinner. – St. Anthony of Padua
Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the great praise we lavish on the Mother; for the more she is honored, the greater is the glory of her Son. There can be no doubt that whatever we say in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son. – St. Bernard of Clairvaux [Dang right! Listen to that, protestants!]
Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did. – St. Maximilian Kolbe
We never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor His Mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor Him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way of leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son. – St. Louis Grignon de Montfort
Let us run to her, and, as little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence. – St. Francis de Sales
With reason did the Most Holy Virgin predict that all generations would call her blessed, for all the Elect obtain eternal salvation through the means of Mary. – St. Ildephonsus [I believe it!]
As in the natural life a child must have a father and a mother, so in the supernatural life of grace a true child of the Church must have God for his Father and Mary for his mother. If he prides himself on having God for his Father but does not give to Mary the tender affection of a true child, he is an impostor and his father is the devil. [ouch] – St. Louis de Montfort
Alright, one more on a different subject, from the Angelic Doctor himself, Thomas Aquinas:
Nothing created has ever been able to satisfy the heart of man. God alone can fill it infinitely.
Lord, do I ever know that. I tried to fill it with everything imaginable, but it remained a vacuum until I at least tried to start filling it with You. It feels much fuller now. I pray it is.
Start Novena to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Today! November 29, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Interior Life, Novenas, Our Lady, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, Virtue.
That’s today, 11/29/16. Ideally, you’d start today. If you would, in your charity, consider adding MJD, who provided the prayer below, to your intentions. She is having eye surgery next week (on Dec. 8th itself).
Immaculate Virgin Mary, you were pleasing in the sight of God from the first moment of your conception in the womb of your mother, St. Anne. You were chosen to be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I believe the teaching of holy Mother the Church, that in the first instant of your conception, by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race and beloved Son, you were preserved from all stain of original sin. I thank God for this wonderful privilege and grace he bestowed upon you as I honor your Immaculate Conception.
Look graciously upon me as I implore this special favor:(mention your request).
Virgin Immaculate, Mother of God and my Mother, from your throne in heaven turn your eyes of pity upon me. Filled with confidence in your goodness and power, I beg you to help me in this journey of life which is so full of dangers for my soul. I entrust myself entirely to you, that I may never be the slave of the devil through sin, but may always live a humble and pure life. I consecrate myself to you forever, for my only desire is to love your divine Son Jesus. Mary, since none of your devout servants has perished, May I too be saved. Amen.
Another version of the Novena is below, so that you may have your choice:
O most pure Virgin Mary conceived without sin, from the very first instant, you were entirely immaculate. O glorious Mary full of grace, you are the mother of my God – the Queen of Angels and of men. I humbly venerate you as the chosen mother of my Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Prince of Peace and the Lord of Lords chose you for the singular grace and honor of being His beloved mother. By the power of His Cross, He preserved you from all sin. Therefore, by His power and love, I have hope and bold confidence in your prayers for my holiness and salvation.
I pray first of all that you would make me worthy to call you my mother and your Son, Jesus, my Lord.
I pray that your prayers will bring me to imitate your holiness and submission to Jesus and the Divine Will.
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
Now, Queen of Heaven, I beg you to beg my Savior to grant me these requests…
(Mention your intentions)
My holy Mother, I know that you were obedient to the will of God. In making this petition, I know that God’s will is more perfect than mine. So, grant that I may receive God’s grace with humility like you.
As my final request, I ask that you pray for me to increase in faith in our risen Lord; I ask that you pray for me to increase in hope in our risen Lord; I ask that you pray for me to increase in love for the risen Jesus!
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
Finally, the Saint Andrew 25 day Novena for Christmas also starts tomorrow 11/30. The prayer is below, though I know you already know it:
The 25 day St. Andrew Novena starts today, Nov. 30. The prayer is as follows, pray it 15 times a day through Christmas Eve:
HAIL AND BLESSED BE THE HOUR AND MOMENT IN WHICH THE SON OF GOD WAS BORN OF THE MOST PURE VIRGIN MARY, AT MIDNIGHT, IN BETHLEHELM, IN PIERCING COLD.
IN THAT HOUR, VOUCHSAFE, O MY GOD, TO HEAR MY PRAYER AND GRANT MY PETITIONS,
(MENTION YOUR INTENTIONS HERE)
THROUGH THE MERITS OF OUR SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST AND OF HIS BLESSED MOTHER. AMEN.
I typically just make an en bloc petition for the day for all 15 recitations. If you say them all together, it only takes a few minutes.
Two Great Saints on Prayer November 28, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
From the first Chapter of St. Peter of Alcantara’s Treatise on Prayer and Meditation, two meditations on the absolutely vital role of our prayer lives in the working out of our salvation through God’s Grace. The first is ostensibly from St. Bonaventure, but may in fact come from another Franciscan called Joannes a Caulibus. The second most definitely comes from St. Lawrence Justinian. Both clearly relate the importance – the absolutely vital role – a deeply committed prayer life must play in our development of virtue and growth in the interior life. Just some spiritual fruit for you as we launch into a new liturgical year and a season that should be deeply immersed in prayer and penance, Advent. I pray you find this excerpt edifying:
“If you would endure with patience the adversities and miseries of this life, be a man of prayer. If you would acquire strength and courage to vanquish the temptations of the enemy, be a man of prayer. If you would crush your self-will, with all its inclinations and desires, be a man of prayer. If you would know the wiles of satan and defend yourself against his snares, be a man of prayer. If you would live with a joyous heart and pass lightly along the road of penance and sacrifice, be a man of prayer. If you would drive away vain thoughts and cares which worry the soul like flies, be a man of prayer. If you would nourish the soul with the sap of devotion and have it always filled with good thoughts, be a man of prayer. If you would strengthen and establish your heart in the ways of God, be a man of prayer. Finally, if you would uproot from your soul all vices and plant virtues in their place, be a man of prayer. For herein does a man receive the unction and grace of the Holy Ghost, who teaches all things. Nay more, would you mount to the summit of contemplation and enjoy the sweet embraces of the Spouse, exercise yourself in prayer, for it is the road that leads to contemplation and to the taste of what is heavenly. Do you see now how great is the strength and power of prayer? In proof of all that has been said – apart from the witness of the divine Scriptures – let that suffice for the moment as proof sufficient what we have heard and seen, what we see every day, viz., many simple persons who have achieved all we have enumerated above, and even greater, by the exercise of prayer.”
Such are the words of St. Bonaventure. What treasure could one find richer or fuller than that? Listen again to what another very religious and holy doctor says on this subject, speaking of the same virtue (St. Lawrence Justinian):
“In prayer the soul cleanses itself from sin, charity is nourished, faith is strengthened, hope is made secure, the spirit rejoices, the soul grows tender, and the heart is purified; truth discovers itself, temptation is overcome, sadness takes to flight, the senses are renewed, failing virtue is made good, tepidity disappears, the rust of sin is rubbed away. In it are brought forth lively flashes of heavenly desires, and in these fires rises the flame of divine love. Great are the excellences of prayer, great its privileges. The heavens open before it and unveil therein their secrets, and to it are the ears of God ever attentive.”
I don’t know about you, but I found both exhortations to prayer moving and beautiful. May God be praised for sharing His Divine wisdom with such Saints, who in turn share it with us, prayerfully groping along the hard and rocky path to salvation, while we watch others laughing at us and mocking us as they speed by on the wide road to perdition.
Spare some prayers for them, too. And may God keep us on the narrow way to salvation, rather than the superhighway to destruction. Pray for the grace of always making good, thorough confessions! Many souls are lost because they are too embarrassed to share some sin they keep hidden away in the recesses of their soul. The priests have heard everything! Don’t let embarrassment and shame – tricks of the devil – keep you from making a good, full, detailed confession, and implore God the grace also to have true contrition for your sins and the firmest purpose of amendment.
Two Powerful Prayers for the Family to St. Anne October 19, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, mortification, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, Virtue.
Well, one really just mentions the parents of the only sinless entirely human person to ever live – the Blessed Mother – but they are both very good and apropos in this time of constant assaults against, and undermining of, the family. More than that, so many individual families are under particular assaults from satan, his minions, and the democrats, but I repeat myself.
The second prayer in particular is of enormous benefit in this time when the world, the flesh, and the devil are having so much success at fooling children off the narrow path towards salvation and onto the wide, 400 lane highway to perdition. We lose so many kids out of the Church in these times, and gravest sin is, many of those are lost because of errors and sins they are taught are perfectly OK by authority figures in the Church. But I’ll demure from riding that hobby horse for now, and get to the prayers, which are from a small booklet on Good Saint Anne and are really short and easy to say:
Prayer for God’s Blessing on the Married
I bless Thee, most gracious Lord Jesus Christ, for having ordained that Thy holy Mother, the Virgin Mary, of whom Thou, O Redeemer of all men, didst will to assume flesh, should proceed from the chaste union of Joachim and Anne. By Thy goodness, I beseech Thee, through the merits of the holy parents Joachim and Anne, have mercy on <my spouse and I or all on> all who, in their memory, sanctify their life in the state of holy Matrimony. Give them peace and rest, health of body and soul; make them fruitful in good children, and after this exile, grant them eternal glory to Thy praise and honor, O sweetest and most gracious Savior. Amen.
Prayer for a Wayward Child
O Holy Mother, St. Anne, so rich in graces! Thou wilt never leave unheard the pleadings and tears of a mother <parent> who invokes thee for a wayward child. Thou knowest my grief and the anguish of my heart. Look down with thy maternal eyes upon this poor erring child, and bring him (her) back upon the way of salvation, that he (she) may again serve God faithfully and thus obtain eternal happiness. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Hail Mary (three times)
I know several of my regular readers are suffering with children or spouses who have gone off the reservation, so to speak, or seem to be about to do so. Of course, sometimes kids, no matter how well raised, no matter what parish/kind of Mass you attend, go crazy. I’ve seen it happen many times. But if they’ve been raised well, which I’m certain most all the kids raised by readers of this blog have, many will come back. It may take a while, but I’ve seen that happen many times, as well. The key thing is not to give up. Keep praying for them. Pray Novenas. Make a perpetual Novena to St. Anne using the prayer above or some other prayer. Of course, pray the Rosary as often and as devoutly as possible. Offer sacrifice and self-denial for your wayward child (or spouse, for that matter, there’s been a sudden flap of spouses going crazy and leaving the wife/husband and Church of late). Have Masses offered for their conversion. Just don’t give up! That doesn’t mean you have to give in and become indifferent to their sin. Don’t give up on their salvation, which is the only thing that really matters in this life. God often surprises us with sudden conversions from out of the blue.
And that’s it. I told you they were short and easy. Unfortunately for me, I’m out of time for the day. It’s been one of those days where finding even 5 minutes to hit the blog has been all but impossible. Till now, but I’ve got more things to do before I wrap them up.
Saint Justin Martyr was a cultured man of letters and one of the first great post-apostolic apologists for the Faith. He carried on a unique and extensive correspondence with the 15th Emperor of Rome, Titus Fulvus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, commonly known as Antoninus Pius, who reigned from AD 138-161. This correspondence is well known among those with more than a very limited knowledge of early Church history, and is one of numerous testimonies from the earliest Church Fathers that prove, without equivocation or the slightest doubt, that the Faith of the Catholic Church of Rome is the exact Faith that was practiced by the earliest Church. This is confirmed in numerous doctrinal beliefs, but one of the most important, and, concomitantly, easiest to confirm, is the total belief in the Real Presence of Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar held by the early Church. This is confirmed by numerous writings dating to the earliest part of the 2nd century (over 200 years before Constantine supposedly “corrupted the Church,” according to protestants) from St. Ignatius of Antioch and others on (adding to several FIRST century references a la Pope Saint Clement’s Epistles to Corinth, among others) to the best of the 2nd century, Justin Martyr.
You have to understand the context in which Saint Justin Martyr was writing. Christianity was still almost entirely a secret religion due to persecution. The Mass was not open to the public. As part of the persecution, and partly due to human nature when encountering anything new and different, wild, calumniating rumors flew regarding what went on during the Mass, which was known to feature a Sacrifice. Many of these wild rumors and innuendo’s were started by the earliest Church’s first enemies, the Jews. Jews claimed that Christians sacrificed babies and ate their bodies during the Mass, mixing up scattered bits of the Nativity and Easter narratives, or just being plain malicious. These rumors added further fuel to the already extant persecutions, making them much more severe.
At any rate, the educated, urbane Justin set out to set matters straight, and rather than mess around with middlemen, went straight to the top man himself. He used his connections to establish a correspondence with the Emperor Antoninus Pius. The critical part of the exchange, quoted by St. Alphonsus Liguori in the Victories of the Martyrs (but far more and better coverage is in either Jurgen’s The Faith of the Early Fathers Volume 1, or the The Anti-Nicene Fathers by Roberts and Donaldson but beware the anti-Catholic notes in this Anglican work):
Wherefore having explained the sacred ceremonies of baptism, he proceeds to speak of the Eucharist in the following terms: “He that presides in the assembly is presented with bread and a chalice of wine, mixed with water; whereupon, in the name of the Son and the Holy Ghost, he renders glory to the Father. And by these gifts doth he make thanksgiving, which all the faithful confirm by the word ‘Amen.’ The prayers, praises, and thanksgivings being terminated, the deacons take of the bread and the wine, mixed with water, over which all these holy prayers have been recited, and having distributed them among those present, they carry some to the absent also.
[Liguori here notes that these men would have been the equivalent of today’s full deacons, acting as delegates of the priest or, as he was then called, the presbyter. They were considered separate and “above” lay persons and had received consecration for the task of handling the Sacred Species. The circumstances of the Church under persecution made recourse to use of deacons (and, yes, sometimes lay people) commonly to distribute the Eucharist necessary, and are not an endorsement of lay handling of the Blessed Sacrament as per modern practice. By the late 4th century, doctrine had clearly evolved, as demonstrated in the Spanish Council of Elvira, against ANY lay handling of the Blessed Sacrament. This Doctrine came into place as soon as the period of vicious persecution ended] This food is by us called Eucharist; of which no one can partake who believeth not our doctrines, and who hath not been cleansed from sin in the laver of regeneration. This is not common food or drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior was, for our redemption, by virtue of the Divine Word, composed of flesh and blood; so we are aware that, by virtue of the prayer containing His Divine words, the food by which we are nourished is the Flesh and Blood of the Word Incarnate.” [This is really our Faith in a nutshell. From the Eucharist, everything else flows. That is why the protestants had to turn the Eucharist into a symbol, because with the Eucharist intact, all their changes to the moral law and claims of private interpretation would, in time, crumble upon themselves. And this is no outlier. From the early Fathers you can find confirmation of virtually any Catholic Doctrine you choose, almost always directly but occasionally by inference. Confession? Absolutely. Works vital for salvation? Certainly. Communion/”membership” in the Church necessary for salvation. Heck yes. A hierarchical Church with the pope at its head? You bet.]
Thus we see that the present doctrine of the Catholic Church is that which was believed and practiced in the apostolic times, in which our Saint flourished.
Unfortunately, Saint Justin failed to convince the obstinate infidel “Pius.” He also got his head lopped off for his trouble.
There you go. You get a double-dose of catechesis today. Perhaps this bit of knowledge might come in handy when dealing with protestant family and/or friends.
First Class Relics of Saints JPII and Faustina to Be Available for Veneration at Cathedral Oct 7 October 5, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, fun, General Catholic, Grace, Interior Life, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, the struggle for the Church, Virtue.
All the Masses below are of course Novus Ordo. There hasn’t been a TLM at the former Sacred Heart Cathedral, now Catedral Santuario de la Virgen de Guadalupe, since Bishop Gorman was the last really solid Bishop of Dallas in the 60s.
But, while some (many?) traditional Catholics continue to harbor reservations regarding the process of canonization for post-conciliar popes, and with the Divine Mercy devotion, there will still probably be significant interest in the availability of first class relics of Saints John Paul II and Faustina for veneration at the Cathedral this Friday October 7 2016. See details below, via the very generous MJD:
Masses at the Cathedral on Friday:
7:00 AM English
12 Noon English
7:00 PM Spanish
The first class relics of
SAINT JOHN PAUL II / SAINT FAUSTINA
will be at the Guadalupe Cathedral
(corner of Ross and Pearl St. – downtown Dallas)
on Friday, Oct. 7 2016 from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM
with the Divine Mercy Chaplet prayed every hour
and the Sacrament of Confession from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM
Parking is available in the Cathedral parking garage. Bring your
ticket to the office on the 1st floor to receive another ticket
that will get you out of the garage without paying for parking!
call the Cathedral office for questions: 214-871-1362
I imagine there will be significant crowds at the busier times of day (early morning, lunch, after work). You might want to plan ahead. There is free parking also near the Dallas Theater Center and maybe at the Myerson?