New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Baby Jesus and Baby St John the Baptist

When I was in Brazil last Chirstmas some of the best paintings I saw was Baby Jesus with his cousin and extended family (St Elizabeth )

(Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist By Piero di Cosimo)

(The Holy Family with the Infant St. John the BaptistBy a follower of Raffaello Sanzio)

(Adoration of the Christ Child by Francesco Granacci)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

I would like to wish you all a very Merry and Holy and Blessed Christmas. These wishes are for all my readers but especially for my dearest wife, my fellow bloggers - Warren, Adrienne, Crescat and Jackie Parkes. Thanks for your great blogs.

Please feel free to copy this onto your blogs and pass it on.

A special thanks to Stathis as well for encouraging me to use my creative talents for a Higher good.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Crib in and Indian House

This is typically what a Christmas Crib would look like in an Indian house or a housing colony. Note to all Canadians and USA people, India is a country which is 80% hindu, yet Catholics can put up Christmas decorations and cribs. Why is it that Canada and USA which have more Catholics and Christians are not allowed to put up Nativity scenes on front lawns? Time for some self examination

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

No Christmas trees in India

You do know that we don't have conifers in India so we are a little creative when it comes to Christmas trees...Behold a decorated banana tree

Nativity Scenes

Christmas midnight mass in India

You see India is not as tolerant about religious minorities as it used to be when I was a little kid. As a teen it was very common to see lots of police outside Church at the Christmas Midnight mass this was done as a two fold reason, on the one hand it was to protect Catholics from attacks from the religious majority. It was also done to intimidate Catholics and make us feel like outsiders in our own country.

Christmas in India

In India during Christmas, Catholics put up a big star outside their houses, or if the apartment building is full of Catholics then a big star like the one above is put up. This star reminds us about the Star that led the Wise men to our Lord Jesus Christ. I miss seeing such stars outside Catholic homes in Canada.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

BL. Pope Urban V - 19th December 2009

Blessed Urban V, whose family name was William de Grimoard, was born in Mende, on a mountain of the Cevenne hills. He rapidly mastered the various disciplines of literature and the sciences. It was religious life which then appeared to him as the ideal which could best respond to the propensities of his mind and the needs of his heart. He went to knock at the door of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Victor near Marseille, and there, in the peaceful shadows of the cloister, he advanced day by day in all the virtues. He was remarked in particular for his tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

Religious profession had augmented his ardor for learning, and his Superiors soon judged the humble monk capable of teaching. In effect, his illustrious voice brought honor to the professorial chairs confided to him in Montpellier, Paris, Avignon and Toulouse. A few years later, after serving for a short time as Abbot of Saint Germain d’Auxerre, he was sent to Italy by Pope Clement VI as his legate. This, unbeknown to himself, was to be a step toward the highest existing dignity. He was elected Pope in October of 1362 and took the name of Urban V, because all the popes who had borne that name had ennobled it by the sanctity of their lives.

It is he who added to the papal tiara a third crown, not out of pride, but to symbolize the triple royalty of the pope over the faithful, the bishops, and the Roman States. When he mounted the throne of Saint Peter at that time in Avignon, he envisioned three great projects — the return of the Papacy from Avignon to Rome, the reformation of morals, and the propagation of the Catholic faith in distant lands. His return to Rome, which had not seen a Pope for sixty years, was a triumph. Nonetheless, the morals of Rome had undergone a sad decline.

Urban lived as a Saint during the days of his great works, fasting like a monk and directing all glory to God. At his death, he asked that the people be allowed to circulate around his bed: “The people must see,” he said, “how Popes die.”

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ven Delia Tetreault - 18th December 2009

For the life of this Venerable Canadian Nun, please refer to the following link

Thursday, December 17, 2009

St. Lazarus - 17th December 2009

Reputed first Bishop of Marseilles, died in the second half of the first century.

According to a tradition, or rather a series of traditions combined at different epochs, the members of the family at Bethany, the friends of Christ, together with some holy women and others of His disciples, were put out to sea by the Jews hostile to Christianity in a vessel without sails, oars, or helm, and after a miraculous voyage landed in Provence at a place called today the Saintes-Maries. It is related that they separated there to go and preach the Gospel in different parts of the southeast of Gaul. Lazarus, of whom alone we have to treat here, went to Marseilles, and, having converted a number of its inhabitants to Christianity, became their first pastor. During the first persecution under Nero he hid himself in a crypt, over which the celebrated Abbey of St.-Victor was constructed in the fifth century. In this same crypt he was interred, when he shed his blood for the faith. During the new persecution of Domitian he was cast into prison and beheaded in a spot which is believed to be identical with a cave beneath the prison Saint-Lazare. His body was later translated to Autun, and buried in the cathedral of that town. But the inhabitants of Marseilles claim to be in possession of his head which they still venerate.

Like the other legends concerning the saints of the Palestinian group, this tradition, which was believed for several centuries and which still finds some advocates, has no solid foundation. It is in a writing, contained in an eleventh century manuscript, with some other documents relating to St. Magdalen of Vézelay, that we first read of Lazarus in connection with the voyage that brought Magdalen to Gaul. Before the middle of the eleventh century there does not seem to be the slightest trace of the tradition according to which the Palestinian saints came to Provence. At the beginning of the twelfth century, perhaps through a confusion of names, it was believed at Autun that the tomb of St. Lazarus was to be found in the cathedral dedicated to St. Nazarius. A search was made and remains were discovered, which were solemnly translated and were considered to be those of him whom Christ raised from the dead, but it was not thought necessary to inquire why they should be found in France.

The question, however, deserved to be examined with care, seeing that, according to a tradition of the Greek Church, the body of St. Lazarus had been brought to Constantinople, just as all the other saints of the Palestinian group were said to have died in the Orient, and to have been buried, translated, and honoured there. It is only in the thirteenth century that the belief that Lazarus had come to Gaul with his two sisters and had been Bishop of Marseilles spread in Provence. It is true that a letter is cited (its origin is uncertain), written in 1040 by Pope Benedict IX on the occasion of the consecration of the new church of St.-Victor in which Lazarus is mentioned. But in this text the pope speaks only of relics of St. Lazarus, merely calling him the saint who was raised again to life. He does not speak of him as having lived in Provence, or as having been Bishop of Marseilles.

The most ancient Provençal text alluding to the episcopacy of St. Lazarus is a passage in the "Otia imperialia" of Gervase of Tillbury (1212). Thus the belief in his Provençal apostolate is of very late date, and its supporters must produce more ancient and reliable documentary evidence. In the crypt of St.-Victor at Marseilles an epitaph of the of the fifth century has been discovered, which informs us that a bishop named Lazarus was buried there. In the opinion of the most competent archæologists, however, this personage is Lazarus, Bishop of Aix, who was consecrated at Marseilles about 407, and who, having had to abandon his see in 411, passed some time in Palestine, whence he returned to end his days in Marseilles. It is more than likely that it is the name of this bishop and his return from Palestine, that gave rise to the legend of the coming of the Biblical Lazarus to Provence, and his apostolate in the city of Marseilles.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent Poem - St. John of the Cross

If you want, the Virgin will come walking down the road
pregnant with the holy, and say,
"I need shelter for the night,
please take me inside your heart, my time is so close."
Then, under the roof of your soul,
you will witness the sublime intimacy,
the divine, the Christ, taking birth forever,
as she grasps your hand for help,
for each of us is the midwife of God, each of us.
Yes there, under the dome of your being
does creation come into existence eternally,
through your womb, dear pilgrim - the sacred womb of your soul,
as God grasps our arms for help:
for each of us is his beloved servant, never far.
If you want, the Virgin will come walking down the street
pregnant with Light and sing...

St. Adelaide - 16th December 2009

Born in 931, St. Adelaide was the daughter of Rudolph of Burgundy. Still a child she was betrothed for political reasons to Lothair of Provence, heir of King Hugh of Italy. Hugh married Adelaide's widowed mother. At the age of sixteen she married Lothair, now Icing of Italy, and a daughter, Emma, was born of the marriage. It was an unhappy union but a short one, for in 950 Lothair died. His successor, Berengar, imprisoned her when Adelaide refused to marry his son. After four months' confinement she escaped in August 951, and when that same year the German Emperor Otto appeared in Italy and proposed marriage, she accepted. Four children were born to them, the future Otto II and three daughters, two of whom became nuns. A revolt led by Ludolf, Otto's son by his first marriage, was crushed. It would appear to have been Adelaide's influence which encouraged, if it did not inspire, Otto's policy of close collaboration with the church. During a sojourn of six years in Italy Otto and Adelaide received the imperial crown from John XII.
When her husband was succeeded in 973 by their son Otto II, Adelaide for some years exercised a powerful influence. Later, however, her daughter-in-law, the Byzantine princess Theophano, turned her husband against his mother, and she was driven from court. Finally a reconciliation was effected, and in 983 Otto appointed her his viceroy in Italy.

He died the same year, and the new emperor, Otto III, still a minor, was entrusted to the joint regency of his mother and grandmother. Theophano was able once again to oust Adelaide from power and the court. Her death in 991 restored the regency to Adelaide. She was assisted by St. Willigis, bishop of Mainz. In 995 Otto came of age, and Adelaide was free to devote herself exclusively to pious works, notably the foundation or restoration of religious houses. She had long entertained close relations with Cluny, then the center of the movement for ecclesiastical reform and in particular with its abbots St. Majolus and St. Odilo. On her way to Burgundy to support her nephew Rudolph III against rebellion, she died at a monastery she had founded at Seltz. She had constantly devoted herself to the service of the church and peace, and to the empire as guardian of both; she also interested herself in the conversion of the Slavs. She was thus a principal agent—almost an embodiment—of the work of the Catholic church during the dark ages in the construction of the religion-culture of western Europe. Her feast is kept in many German dioceses.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Update on Communion situation in Toronto in realtion to swin Flu

I just received this document via email from the Archbishops' office. We can now receive Holy Communion on our tongues again. I am so happy that this is happening before Christmas.

December 15, 2009

Ongoing Communication regarding the H1N1 Flu Virus

To all clergy and employees of the Archdiocese of Toronto,

I would like to provide a further update regarding our H1N1 planning. In my communication of November 2, I outlined a series of temporary measures that were implemented after consultation with local health experts, church officials, and others with extensive experience in pandemic planning.

In recent days, we have seen the number of cases of H1N1 decrease significantly. While we are relieved that the virus appears to have peaked, we must remain vigilant in maintaining good hygiene practices, especially during the winter months and traditional flu season. Over the last several weeks, all Ontarians have been provided the opportunity to receive vaccination against the H1N1 virus, in addition to the traditional flu shot offered at this time of year.

I would encourage parishes to continue the following pro-active measures:

· Provide hand cleaning stations near church entrances.

· Ask all those distributing communion to wash their hands before mass. You may wish to provide an alcohol-based sanitizer so that all ministers may sanitize their hands before and after distributing communion.

· Kindly remind your parishioners that if they are feeling sick or ill, it is best for them to stay home.

In terms of our liturgical practices, effective Wednesday, December 16, I am removing the temporary restrictions that I imposed in the communication of November 2.

Although it was not mentioned in that communication, I encourage parishes to provide the faithful with Holy Water in the fonts at the entrances to the church.

As in the past and to ensure consistency in our churches, please communicate these changes to your parishioners. This update will also be available on our website and through our H1N1 page:

To our family of faith, I extend my gratitude for your patience over the last number of weeks. As we await the birth of the Christ child, we are ever mindful of our call to serve the most vulnerable among us just as Christ cares for each member of his family.

Sincerely in Christ,

Thomas Collins

Archbishop of Toronto

Venerable Bishop Vital Grandin - 15th December 2009

Venerable Bishop Vital Grandin, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Bishop of St. Albert, Alberta, Canada, born in St. Pierre-la-Cour, France on February 8, 1829, died at St. Albert, Alberta, June 3, 1902.
As a pioneering Oblate missionary of the Canadian West, he became the first bishop of the then vast and newly created diocese of St. Albert in 1871. Wholly dedicated to bringing Roman Catholicism to the people of the plains, he worked despite great hardship to develop the missions. Through difficulties and dangers he travelled incessantly over the vast prairie regions in an endeavour to save souls. He endured his crosses with true courage and with a genuine love for his fellow man.
His cause for sainthood was introduced at Rome in 1937. His motto was "Infirma mundi elegit Deus" - God chooses the weak of this world - his coat of arms was a bent reed and a cross.
On December 15, 1966, Pope Paul VI promulgated the official decree of the heroic virtues of Bishop Grandin, OMI, and he was declared "Venerable."
"I owe my vocation to God and after Him, to my mother. I am convinced that a call to a religious or ecclesiastical vocation comes directly from God, who uses prudent Christian parents as instruments by which He makes His will known." Bishop Vital Grandin

Monday, December 14, 2009

Recognising the mystery hidden within Christ Jesus

Though holy doctors have uncovered many mysteries and wonders, and devout souls have understood them in this earthly condition of ours, yet the greater part still remains to be unfolded by them, and even to be understood by them.
We must then dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides.
For this reason the apostle Paul said of Christ: In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering, enduring interior and exterior labours, and unless it first receives from God very many blessings in the intellect and in the senses, and has undergone long spiritual training.
All these are lesser things, disposing the soul for the lofty sanctuary of the knowledge of the mysteries of Christ: this is the highest wisdom attainable in this life.
Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross.
Saint Paul therefore urges the Ephesians not to grow weary in the midst of tribulations, but to be steadfast and rooted and grounded in love, so that they may know with all the saints the breadth, the length, the height and the depth – to know what is beyond knowledge, the love of Christ, so as to be filled with all the fullness of God.
The gate that gives entry into these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate, while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it.

Sacred Heart Santacruz

Sacred Heart Parish Santacruz was the Church where I was baptized, received my first holy communion, confirmation and sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

Stained glass at our parish

Below is a picture of our church decorated for Christmas

St. John of the Cross - 14th December 2009

Today is the feast of St. John of the Cross, let us read what Dr. Plinio has to teach us.

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) was a confessor and doctor of the Church. He was co-reformer of the Carmelite Order with St. Teresa of Avila. He was a great mystic and left many famous maxims about the spiritual life. Some of them are the following:

* I did not know Thee, my Lord, because I still desired to know and relish trifling things. My spirit became dry because it forgot to rest in Thee.

* If you wish to attain holy recollection, you will do so not by approving but by denying.

* The devil fears a soul united to God as he does God Himself.

* The purest suffering produces the purest understanding.

* Through small things, one reaches the great. The evil that at the beginning appears insignificant, later becomes enormous and without remedy.

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

Let me comment one sentence at a time.

I did not know Thee, my Lord, because I still desired to know and relish trifling things. My spirit became dry because it forgot to rest in Thee.
The love for trifles is one of the most deeply-rooted things that exist in the human soul. When one of us goes to a public square or a restaurant or when we take a bus where people are chatting, if we observe well, we will see that most of the time they are talking about trifling things. Also, when they are quiet they are usually thinking about trifling matters.

St. John of the Cross said: I didn’t know Thee, My Lord, because I wanted to relish trifles. What he means is that one who likes to taste trifles cannot taste the things of God. What is the reason for this? It is because the two are contrary things and no one is able to love opposite things at the same time. God is infinite, transcendent, and magnificent. A trifle is a very insignificant thing. The person who loves insignificant things cannot love the grandeur of God. So, we should ask Our Lady to free us from our attachments to trifles and prepare us to have true love for God.

The second part of the sentence – My spirit became dry because it forgot to rest in Thee – confirms the first. What kind of souls rest in God? They are persons who like to think about the situation of the Catholic Church, Catholic doctrine, the history of the Church and the supreme interests of God. These person can say that they rest in God. Such men are sheep who graze and feed themselves on divine grass.
If you wish to attain holy recollection, you will do so not by approving but by denying.
This is a magnificent sentence! It is based on a very anti-liberal principle. Optimistic and liberal souls who only want to see the positive side of everything do not have holy recollection, according to St. John of the Cross. On the contrary, those souls who vigilantly see the evil around them, discern it, and then deny it – these are the ones who attain true recollection. Therefore, the discernment of evil is the door that opens the way for holy recollection.

The devil fears a soul united to God as he does God Himself.

It is beautiful! One sees in every day life the hatred of the Devil for the true Catholic, the true counter-revolutionary. It is a hatred that comes from fear. He trembles before good Catholic as he trembles before God Himself, because he sees God in that person.

The purest suffering produces the purest understanding.

It is a twofold affirmation. First, it says that each one of us should suffer purely, which is to accept our cross to the end, to honestly and gladly suffer what is asked of us without tricks and frauds.

Second, it states that whoever does this receives a greater capacity to understand the things of God, that is, to reach the highest and noblest part of reality. This understanding is not only the understanding of the intelligence but also of the sensibility of the soul. Therefore, accepting suffering makes the entire soul – the will, intelligence, and sensibility – more perfect and closer to God.

Through small things, one reaches the great. The evil that at the beginning appears insignificant, later becomes enormous and without remedy.

This is an eminently counter-revolutionary principle, eminently anti-liberal. One of the characteristics of the liberal mind is to imagine that everything will end well. Therefore, based on this principle, we should live life without concerns, optimistically. There would be no reason to intervene in affairs, because normally they go in the right direction and rarely finish badly. This liberal facet is also naturalistic. It does not take into account the supernatural and the preternatural, original sin and the chastisement God gave us for that sin. At depth, the man is optimistic because he does not believe in the consequences of original sin.

For this reason, the liberal becomes astonished when something goes wrong. How could it happen? he asks. How could it be that this or that person did such a bad thing?

The man who is anti-liberal thinks the opposite. He knows that without the help of supernatural grace, man has a strong tendency to evil, and that if he does not take special care, the evil will take root and grow in his soul. He realizes that if he makes a concession to some small vice, it can shortly reach the extreme of evil. Therefore, a bad glance, a bad thought, a first revolt, an initial laziness may lead to extreme consequences.

Let me exemplify this with laziness. Someone takes a lapse position in face of an important matter regarding the Catholic cause that is being reported to him. Because he is lazy, he does not want to make an effort to think and react on the high plane the topic demands. He does this many times, and he acquires the habit of not responding to serious matters in the Catholic cause.

After a while, this habit of omission is transformed into indifference toward the great Catholic panoramas. He loses the appetite for the good, which is, according to St. Thomas, related to the death of the love of God. That is to say, something that began as a small concession, in a short time ended in the death of the love of God. For this reason, St. John of the Cross warns us to be vigilant and snuff out evil in its first spark; otherwise we will be facing a wide-ranging fire.

This principle also applies to History. Louis XVI did not take effective action to stop the beginning sparks of the French Revolution, and it ending by cutting off his head. Pope Leo X did not stop Protestantism in the beginning and it went on to sever one-third of Europe from the Church. We could make a sad and long list of catastrophes that should have been stopped in the beginning but were not, and became irreversible calamities.

These are a few of the maxims St. John of the Cross left for us to meditate on. We should ask Our Lady to help us make them firm principles for the good of our souls.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Lord Jesus Christ- God's Final Word - St John of the Cross

The principal reason why the Old Law permitted us to ask questions of God, and why prophets and priests had to seek visions and revelations of God, was because at that time faith had no firm foundation and the law of the Gospel was not yet established; and thus it was necessary that men should enquire of God and that he should speak, whether by words or by visions and revelations or whether by figures and images or by many other ways of expressing His meaning. For all that he answered and revealed belonged to the mysteries of our faith and things touching it or leading to it.

But now that the faith is founded in Christ, now that in this era of grace the law of the Gospel has been made manifest, there is no reason to enquire of God in that manner nor for him to speak to us or answer us as he did then. For, in giving us, as he did, his Son, who is his one and only Word, he spoke to us once and for all, in this single Word, and he has no occasion to speak further.

And this is the meaning of that passage with which the Letter to the Hebrews begins, trying to persuade the Hebrews that they should abandon those first ways of dealing and communicating with God which are in the law of Moses, and should set their eyes on Christ alone: At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, in the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son. That is, God has said so much about so many things through his Word that nothing more is needed, since that which he revealed partially in the past through the prophets, he has now revealed completely by giving us the All, which is his Son.

Therefore if someone were now to ask questions of God or seek any vision or revelation, he would not only be acting foolishly but would be committing an offence against God – for he should set his eyes altogether upon Christ and seek nothing beyond Christ.

God might answer him after this manner, saying: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him. I have spoken all things to you in my Word. Set your eyes on him alone, for in him I have spoken and revealed to thee all things, and in him you shall find more than you ask for, even more than you want.

I descended upon him with my Spirit on Mount Tabor and said This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him. You have no reason to ask for new teaching or new answers from me because if I spoke to you in the past then it was to promise Christ. If people asked questions of me in the past then their questions were really a desire of Christ and a hope for his coming. For in him they were to find all good things, as has now been revealed in the teaching of the Evangelists and the Apostles.

Gaudette Sunday 13th December 2009

John is the voice, and Christ is the Word - A sermon by St. Augustine

John is the voice, but the Lord is the Word who was in the beginning. John is the voice that lasts for a time; from the beginning Christ is the Word who lives for ever.
Take away the word, the meaning, and what is the voice? Where there is no understanding, there is only a meaningless sound. The voice without the word strikes the ear but does not build up the heart.
However, let us observe what happens when we first seek to build up our hearts. When I think about what I am going to say, the word or message is already in my heart. When I want to speak to you, I look for a way to share with your heart what is already in mine.
In my search for a way to let this message reach you, so that the word already in my heart may find place also in yours, I use my voice to speak to you. The sound of my voice brings the meaning of the word to you and then passes away. The word which the sound has brought to you is now in your heart, and yet it is still also in mine.
When the word has been conveyed to you, does not the sound seem to say: The word ought to grow, and I should diminish? The sound of the voice has made itself heard in the service of the word, and has gone away, as though it were saying: My joy is complete. Let us hold on to the word; we must not lose the word conceived inwardly in our hearts.
Do you need proof that the voice passes away but the divine Word remains? Where is John’s baptism today? It served its purpose, and it went away. Now it is Christ’s baptism that we celebrate. It is in Christ that we all believe; we hope for salvation in him. This is the message the voice cried out.
Because it is hard to distinguish word from voice, even John himself was thought to be the Christ. The voice was thought to be the word. But the voice acknowledged what it was, anxious not to give offence to the word. I am not the Christ, he said, nor Elijah, nor the prophet. And the question came: Who are you, then? He replied: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord. The voice of one crying in the wilderness is the voice of one breaking the silence. Prepare the way for the Lord, he says, as though he were saying: “I speak out in order to lead him into your hearts, but he does not choose to come where I lead him unless you prepare the way for him.”
What does prepare the way mean, if not “pray well”? What does prepare the way mean, if not “be humble in your thoughts”? We should take our lesson from John the Baptist. He is thought to be the Christ; he declares he is not what they think. He does not take advantage of their mistake to further his own glory.
If he had said, “I am the Christ,” you can imagine how readily he would have been believed, since they believed he was the Christ even before he spoke. But he did not say it; he acknowledged what he was. He pointed out clearly who he was; he humbled himself.
He saw where his salvation lay. He understood that he was a lamp, and his fear was that it might be blown out by the wind of pride.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

St. Nicholas - 6th December 2009

Saint Nicholas, the patron Saint of Russia, has won the warmest of praises from other Saints such as Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Peter Damian, who called him the glory of young men, the honor of the elderly, the splendor of priests and the light of Pontiffs. All the world was filled with his praises, Saint Peter added. The universal Church, in the Collect of his office, claims that God made known his nobility by an infinite number of miracles.

He was born during the third century, nephew of the Archbishop of Myra. He had lost his parents while still very young, and he desired not to conserve his rich heritage. Gradually he gave away everything of which he could dispose, establishing dowries for poor maidens and seeking out the needy wherever they could be found. The Archbishop, his uncle, already aware of his vocation to sanctity, ordained Saint Nicholas priest and appointed him Abbot of the monastery of Holy Sion near Myra. He undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, resurrecting a sailor who fell from a mast during the voyage; he prayed for the frightened passengers in a near-fatal tempest and calmed it. He visited Saint Anthony of the Desert and healed many sick persons in Alexandria during a stopover in Egypt.

On the death of the Archbishop of Myra, he was elected to the vacant see. Immediately after the pontifical Mass, he resurrected an infant who had fallen into a fire.

A persecution broke out under the emperor Licinius; Saint Nicholas was banished and kept in chains. He suffered from severe mistreatment but returned to his church when Constantine the Great defeated Licinius, and in 313 then put a definitive end to the persecutions. Saint Nicholas labored in his domains to stop the worship of false gods, still practiced there as elsewhere. With his own hands he cut down a huge tree, site of a sacrilegious cult of the goddess Diana. During a famine his prayers multiplied the provisions of wheat which he had ordered for the port of Myra, to such an extent that what would have sufficed for his people for only a few days, was found to be sufficient for more than two years. He rescued from death, just before they were hanged, three innocents condemned by a judge who had been corrupted by money, reprehended the latter for his crime and sent these liberated ones home, entirely exonerated.

Throughout his life he retained the bright and simple manners of his early years; no one could converse with him without finding himself spiritually renewed. Saint Nicholas was the special protector of the innocent and the wronged. He is usually represented at the side of a container in which a cruel butcher had concealed the bodies of three young persons, whom he had killed and was intending to use in his commerce, but who were restored to life by the Saint. This miracle was reported by Saint Bonaventure in a sermon.

Saint Nicholas rejoiced when God made known to him that the end of his pilgrimage was near. He retired to his Monastery of Holy Sion, and after a short but intense episode of fever, died in the year 342. He is the patron of schoolchildren, sailors, travelers and pilgrims, prisoners and many others. His relics were translated in 1087 to Bari, Italy, where a church was built in their honor. And there, after fifteen centuries, the manna of Saint Nicholas still flows from his bones and heals all kinds of illnesses.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

St. Sabas - 5th December 2009

Saint Sabas, one of the most renowned patriarchs of the monks of Palestine, was born in the year 439, near Caesarea. At the age of fifteen, in the absence of his parents, he suffered under the conduct of an uncle, and weary of the world’s problems decided to forsake the world and enter a monastery not far from his family home. After he had spent ten years in religious life, his two uncles and his parents attempted to persuade him to leave the monastery to which he had migrated in Palestine. He replied: “Do you want me to be a deserter, leaving God after placing myself in His service? If those who abandon the militia of earthly kings are severely punished, what chastisement would I not deserve if I abandoned that of the King of heaven?”

When he was thirty years old, desiring greater solitude, he began to live an angelic life so far above nature that he seemed no longer to have a body. The young sage, as he was called by Saint Euthymius, Abbot of a nearby monastery, dwelt in a cavern on a mountain near Jerusalem, where he prayed, sang Psalms and wove baskets of palm branches. He was forty-five years old when he began to direct those who came to live as hermits, as he did, and he gave each of them a place to build a cell; soon this was the largest monastery of Palestine. He left the region when certain agitators complained of him, for he considered himself incapable of maintaining good discipline. The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sallustus, did not easily credit the complaints, and instead ordained Sabas a priest, that he might say Mass for his disciples — for they had been displeased by his lack of desire for that honor. He was at that time fifty-three years old. The Patriarch presented him to them as their father, whom they should obey and honor, and made him Superior of all the Palestine monasteries. But several monks remained obstinate, and Saint Sabas again went elsewhere, to a cavern near Scythopolis.

As the years passed, he was in charge of seven monasteries; but his influence was not limited to Palestine. The heresies afflicting religion were being sustained by the emperor of Constantinople, who had exiled the Catholic Patriarch of that city, Elias. Saint Sabas converted the one who had replaced Elias, and wrote to the emperor that he should cease to persecute the Church of Jerusalem, and to impose taxes on the cities of Palestine which they were unable to pay. In effect, the people were reduced to extreme misery. The emperor died soon afterwards, and the pious Justin replaced him. Justin restored the true faith by an edict and recalled the exiles, re-establishing the exiled prelates in their sees.

When Saint Sabas was ninety-one years old, he made the long journey to Constantinople to ask Justinian, successor to Justin, not to act with severity against the province of Palestine, where a revolt had occurred by the non-submission of a group of Samaritans. The emperor honored him highly and wished to endow his monasteries with wealth, but the holy Patriarch asked him to use the riches he was offering to build a hospice for pilgrims in Jerusalem, to decorate the unfinished Church of the Blessed Virgin, to build a fortress where the monks could take refuge when barbarians invaded the land, and finally, to re-establish preaching of the true Faith, by edicts proscribing the various errors being propagated. The holy Abbot lived to be ninety-two years old, and died in 531, in the arms of the monks of his first monastery.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Marian Prayer of St. John Damascene

Today, the root of Jesse has produced its shoot:
she will bring forth a Divine flower for the world.
Today, the Creator of all things,
God the Word,
composes a new book:
a book issuing from the heart of his Father
and written by the Holy Spirit,
who is the tongue to God.

O daughter of King David and Mother of God,
the universal King;
O Divine and living object
whose beauty has charmed God the Creator;
your whole soul is completely open
to God’s action and attentive to God alone.

All your desires are centered
only on what merits to be sought
and is worthy of love.
You harbour anger only for sin and its author.
You will have a life superior to nature,
but not for your own sake.
For it has not been created for you
but has been entirely consecrated to God,
who has introduced you into the world
to help bring about our salvation
in fulfillment of his plan,
the Incarnation of his Son
and the Divinization of the human race.

Your heart will find nourishment in the words of God,
like the tree planted near the living waters of the Spirit,
like the tree of life
that has yielded its fruit in due time,
the incarnate God who is the life of all things.

Your ears will be ever attentive to the Divine words
and the sounds of the harp of the Spirit,
through whom the Word has come to take on our flesh.
Your nostrils will inhale the fragrance of the Bridegroom,
the Divine fragrance with which He scented His humanity.

Your lips will savour the words of God
and will rejoice in their Divine sweetness.
Your most pure heart,
free from all stain,
will ever see the God of all purity
and will experience ardent desire for Him.

Your womb will be the abode
of the one whom no place can contain.
Your milk will provide nourishment for God,
in the little Infant Jesus.
Your hands will carry God,
and your knees will serve
as a throne for Him
that is more noble
than the throne of the Cherubim.

Your feet, led by the light of the Divine Law,
will follow Him along an undeviating course
and guide you to the possession of the Beloved.

You are the temple of the Holy Spirit,
the city of the living God,
made joyous by abundant flowers,
the sacred flowers of Divine grace.
You are all-beautiful
and very close to God,
above the Cherubim
and higher than the Seraphim,
right near God Himself!

I miss Christmas as it was

I moved to a new country 5 years ago. I moved in the month of October and the first big Catholic feast was Christmas. I have to say that I have never enjoyed Christmas at my newly adopted home and country. For some reason it is not the same it feels empty something is missing. While I have a more prayerful attitude to the incarnation and the whole God almighty coming down as a human and this is something i love thinking about, I still miss something from back home.
I feel empty on Christmas day its like a holiday but not Christmas. While back home we would all wonder what a white Christmas would be like, here where I have a white Christmas I dont feel like it is Christmas.
Back home we would chop down a branch of a tree, let it dry so the leave would fall and then wrap up the tree in cotton so that it would look like the branch of the tree was covere with snow we would then decorate the snow covered tree. Here we have snow and real conifer trees and yet I dont feel like its Christmas.
I dont know the failing I will admit is mine.
I do have a special treat for all of you who read my blog as we come to the last week of advent.

St. John Damascene - 4th December 2009

Biographical selection:

St. John Damascene, 8th century, was the grand vizir of the Caliph of Damascus. While he was holding this office, Emperor Leo the Isaurian began a campaign to destroy the Catholic statues, the beginning of the iconoclast heresy. In 726 he issued his first edict against the veneration of images.

John Damascene immediately took up his pen to defend this ancient practice of Catholics, just as before he had attacked the heresies of his time. Because of this defense, the hand that wrote it was chopped off , but the Virgin Mary appeared and reattached the hand.

He retired to the monastery of St. Sabas southeast of Jerusalem and died there as a monk dedicated to prayer and study. He wrote numerous works and beautiful verses. His style was vigorous and polemic. For example, writing against the Emperor he called him a new Mahomet, an enemy of Christ, and despiser of the Saints. He also attacked the sycophant Bishops, calling them slaves of their stomachs, disposed to compromise and lie.

Writing about the holy statues, he said:

“Regarding the Most Holy Mother of God, I confess her holier than the Seraphim and Cherubim, more sublime than Heaven, more elevated than all creatures, for she brought to light of day Christ our God.

“As for the Saints who combated for Him, I honor and venerate them, kissing their precious relics. In the Bible the sacred writer gives an account of the Incarnation of Christ. The sculptor pictures the glory of the Church from the first Adam to the birth of Christ. The writer and artist concur on the same truth. The Church benefits from both, but you, O heretic, venerate the book and destroy the statue. What an extravagance!

“If some ignorant person commits some excess in this matter, it is your fault. If someone makes the mistake of taking the image of Christ for Christ Himself, you should instruct him. This is why you are Bishops, priests and deacons. The true Shepherds and Doctors, the shining lights of times past, dedicated themselves to instructing the people for their good and salvation. But the Bishops of this century are preoccupied with horses, cows, sheep, flocks, fields and gold. They care only about accruing and spending money. They are very concerned about the body, but neglect their people and their own souls. It is as Scriptures says: The shepherds became wolves.

“Who should we follow now, St. Basil the Thaumaturge, or Bastilas the murderer of souls? The doctor or penance and salvation St. John Chrysostom or the doctor of disorder and perdition Tricarcade? Or perhaps Gregory, the profane patriarch of Constantine, plague of the people, who along with the head of the Empire cast out the venerable statues and holy doctrine of the Holy Church?

"To whom should we listen? The ensemble of venerable Patriarchs who spoke at the first six Councils or these hypocrite prelates who introduced adulterous dogmas in the Church, which were never confirmed by any Patriarch and are proscribed by the Letters of Synods?”

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

Some prior observations will help us to better understand this selection. In the Muslim world, the Caliph was a mixture of pope and emperor. He was a religious leader who at the same time exercised temporal power. The grand vizir was the equivalent of a prime minister. He was the man appointed by the caliph to administer the government. Normally the caliphs would not deign to associate with the people, who were considered unworthy to even be in their presence. It was the grand vizirs who represented them; they were the face of the caliph for the public.

St. John Damascene, then, was the grand vizir of the Caliph of Damascus. At that time the caliphs permitted Catholics to practice their religion and hold important public offices in that Muslim state. There was, therefore, this paradox: a Saint who was protected by a Muslim Caliphate and who attacked a heretic who was head of the Catholic Byzantine Empire.

Emperor Leo the Isaurian was the one who initiated the campaign against the statues. It was the Iconoclast heresy, which means those who destroy icons and statues. Leo the Isaurian was a pre-figure of the Protestants. Among other errors, he sustained that it was wrong to venerate statues. On his orders, the heretics burned and destroyed countless statues in the Byzantine churches.

In this most beautiful text of St. John Damascene, you see the indignation of a soul of fire against error. The excerpt demonstrates that the indignation of St. John Damascene was filled with love for the truth. He vigorously proclaims the truths he defends.

In this text there are some very valuable arguments. For example, when he addresses the Iconoclasts, he points out the inconsistency of their position of destroying the statues but venerating the Bible. The Bible, he argues, describes personages in words, that is, it gives a literary representation of the person. The artist, taking his inspiration from that description, paints a picture or sculpts a statue. Therefore, if one takes a stand against the statues of persons, he should also be against the Bible that describes them. Otherwise his position is contradictory. He would accept the literary description but condemn the artistic figure representing the former. It is a simple but iron-tight argument presented with great literary beauty.

In another argument against the heretic bishops and clergy, he says: “If an ignorant person commits some excess in this matter, it is your fault. If someone makes the mistake of taking the image of Christ for Christ Himself, you should instruct him. This is why you are bishops, priests and deacons.”

You can see that the heretics of those times used the same sophism of Protestants who would later affirm that Catholics adore statues and Our Lady. When the heretic bishops and clergy asserted that the statues should be destroyed to avoid such excesses, St. John Damascene replied: “You are in charge of the instruction of the people. If there is some excess in the veneration of statues, it is because you did not fulfill your duty. Therefore, to be consistent, if you want to condemn someone, you should condemn yourselves, and instead of censuring and breaking the statues, you should correct yourselves.” Again, it is a simple, strong logic that leaves no exit for the adversary.

We should not be surprised that the heretic Emperor ordered the hand of St. John Damascene to be chopped off. The heretic could not face this iron logic of the Saint, so Leo the Isaurian took this violent measure to stop the Saint from attacking him. But Our Lady – who is the destroyer of all heresies - restored his hand so that he could continue to write against the enemies of the Church.

A final important consideration is that St. John Damascene - with this spirit of fire and Catholic mentality - was chosen by the Caliph to be his grand vizir. The Caliph was a Muslim and an enemy of the Catholic Church; notwithstanding, he had the good sense to admire the honesty and capacity of St. John Damascene and appointed him to govern his temporal possessions.

Now let me ask you this: Do you imagine it would be possible today for a man with the mentality of St. John Damascene to ever be made prime minister of Russia? Or even a head of one of our Western States? Could he be prime minister of England or president of the United States? He would certainly not be accepted. Why?

Because the revolutionary mentality of the people today is much worse than the mentality of the enemies of the Church was in the 8th century. This comparison makes us understand how low we have sunk and how bad the revolutionary mentality is. Normally we are blinded by this revolutionary mentality and we do not realize how perverse it really is.

This example shows how hostile the modern world is to the Catholic cause, and how bad the progressivists are who are trying to adapt the Church to this world.

Let us pray to St. John Damascene and ask him to give us the mentality he had in order to destroy the Revolution just as he destroyed the Iconoclast heresy in his time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Basilica of Bom Jesus - Goa India

Old Goa, built in 1605, and now declared a World Heritage Monument. The church houses the sacred relics of St. Francis Xavier, patron saint of Goa, who died while on a sea voyage to China on December 2,1552. The following year, while transferring his remains to Goa, in accordance with his wishes, it was found that the saint's body was as fresh as the day it was buried. This miraculous phenomenon continues to attract the devout of all lands and an Exposition or public viewing of his body every ten years attracts lakhs of pilgrims. During the 450 years of Portuguese rule in Goa, St. Francis Xavier was believed to have afforded protection to the rulers who handed over their symbols of office to the saint during every changeover of the office of Governor General. The Saint had miraculous healing powers, which were experienced by the erstwhile Nizam of Hyderabad when he came for the Exposition of 1878.

St. Francis Xavier - 3rd December 2009

Not many of my readers know this but St. Francis Xavier is one of my favourite saints. He is buried in India in Goa which is where my ancestors come from. In addition to this, I did my university studies at St. Xavier's in Bombay which was run by the Jesuits. Thus I am very fond of St. Francis Xavier.

Francis Xavier, Apostle of India and Japan and perhaps the greatest missionary of the Church since Saint Paul, was born on April 7, 1506 near Sanguesa in Spain. After completing his preliminary studies in his own country, he went to Paris, France in 1525 and entered the College of Sainte-Barbe. In 1526, he met Pierre Favre and a warm friendship sprang between them. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) resided at this same college. He won the confidence of the two young men and they were the first to join with him in the formation of the religious order. They made their vows on August 15, 1534, binding themselves to the service of God.
Francis Xavier went to Venice, Italy and there he was ordained to the priesthood on June 24, 1537. After ordination, he served for a brief period in Rome.
On April 7, 1541, Francis departed for India as the Jesuits’ first foreign missionary. He landed in Goa and immediately began to learn the language, preach, minister to the sick and compose a catechism. His success there was most notable. Multitudes flocked to hear him, and he won many converts to the faith. He also faced many hardships. He had less success with the Brahman sect and a years’ worth of work among them resulted in only one convert. Francis Xavier’s converts in India were persecuted mercilessly and were often abused by the Protégées officials and merchants.
On April 17, 1549, he set sail for Japan filled with great zeal at the prospect f introducing Christianity to this country. After an apostolate of two years and three months, the Christian community in that nation numbered some two thousand and continued to grow rapidly.
He then set his sights on China. He arranged passage there on a merchant ship in August of 1552. The ship reached the desolate island of Sancian (Shang-chwan) near the Chinese coast not far from Canton. While there, Francis was seized with a fever on November 21, 1552. He grew weaker and died on December 3, 1552. He was buried the following day. After more than two months, the grave and coffin were opened and his body found incorrupt. His body was taken back to Goa, India and is enshrined in the Church of the Good Jesus.
Francis Xavier was beatified in 1619 and canonized a saint of the Catholic Church in 1622. In 1748 he was named the Patron Saint of the Orient. In 1904 he was declared the patron saint for the Propagation of the Faith and in 1927 named the patron of missions. Francis Xavier is also the Patron Saint of all Navigators.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blessed Rafal Chylinski - 2nd December 2009

Blessed Rafal Chylinski was pious youth, his family nicknamed him "the little monk." After graduating the Jesuit college in Poznan, Melchior joined the cavalry, and was made an officer within three years. In 1715, against the advice of his brothers in arms, Melchior joined the Conventual Franciscans in Kraków, took the name Rafal, and was ordained in 1717. He was known for simple and candid sermons, generosity, and as a great confessor. He was born in 1694 at Buk, Poznan, Poland as Melchior Chylinski, and died in 1741 at Lagiewniki, Poland; the Conventual church there became a place of pilgrimage.

The sermons preached by Rafal were powerfully reinforced by the living sermon of his life. The Sacrament of Reconciliation can help us bring our daily choices into harmony with our words about Jesus’ influence in our life

During the beatification homily, Pope John Paul II said, "May Blessed Rafal remind us that every one of us, even though we are sinners, has been called to love and to holiness" (L'Osservatore Romano, 1991, vol. 25, number 19).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advent reflections for Week 1

The twofold coming of Christ by St. Cyril of Jerusalem

We do not preach only one coming of Christ, but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom.
In general, whatever relates to our Lord Jesus Christ has two aspects. There is a birth from God before the ages, and a birth from a virgin at the fullness of time. There is a hidden coming, like that of rain on fleece, and a coming before all eyes, still in the future.
At the first coming he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. At his second coming he will be clothed in light as in a garment. In the first coming he endured the cross, despising the shame; in the second coming he will be in glory, escorted by an army of angels.
We look then beyond the first coming and await the second. At the first coming we said: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. At the second we shall say it again; we shall go out with the angels to meet the Lord and cry out in adoration: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
The Saviour will not come to be judged again, but to judge those by whom he was judged. At his own judgement he was silent; then he will address those who committed the outrages against him when they crucified him and will remind them: You did these things, and I was silent.
His first coming was to fulfil his plan of love, to teach men by gentle persuasion. This time, whether men like it or not, they will be subjects of his kingdom by necessity.
The prophet Malachi speaks of the two comings. And the Lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple: that is one coming.
Again he says of another coming: Look, the Lord almighty will come, and who will endure the day of his entry, or who will stand in his sight? Because he comes like a refiner’s fire, a fuller’s herb, and he will sit refining and cleansing.
These two comings are also referred to by Paul in writing to Titus: The grace of God the Saviour has appeared to all men, instructing us to put aside impiety and worldly desires and live temperately, uprightly, and religiously in this present age, waiting for the joyful hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Notice how he speaks of a first coming for which he gives thanks, and a second, the one we still await.
That is why the faith we profess has been handed on to you in these words: He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
Our Lord Jesus Christ will therefore come from heaven. He will come at the end of the world, in glory, at the last day. For there will be an end to this world, and the created world will be made new.

Prayer to the Holy Name of Jesus

Since, then, O my Jesus! Thou art the Saviour Who hast given Thy Blood and Thy life for me, I pray Thee to write Thine adorable name on my poor heart; so that having it always imprinted in my heart by love, I may also have it ever on my lips, by invoking it in all my necessities. If the devil tempts me, Thy name will give me strength to resist him; if I lose confidence, Thy name will animate me to hope; if I am in affliction, Thy name will comfort me, by reminding me of all Thou hast endured for me. If I find myself cold in Thy love, Thy name will inflame me by reminding me of the love Thou hast shown me. Hitherto I have fallen into so many sins, because I did not call on Thee; from henceforth Thy name shall be my defense, my refuge, my hope, my only consolation, my only love. Thus do I hope to live, and so do I hope to die, having Thy name always on my lips.
Most holy Virgin, obtain for me the grace of invoking the name of thy Son Jesus in all my necessities, together with thine own, my Mother Mary; but let me invoke them always with confidence and love, so that I may be able also to say to thee as did the devout Alphonsus Rodriguez: "Jesus and Mary, may I suffer for You; may I die for You; may I be wholly Yours, and in nothing my own!" O my beloved Jesus! O Mary, my beloved Lady! give me the grace to suffer and to die for Thy love, I will be no longer mine own, but altogether Thine; Thine in life, and Thine in death, when I hope by Thy help to expire saying, Jesus and Mary, help me!

Jesus and Mary, I recommend myself to Thee; Jesus and Mary, I love Thee, and I give and deliver up to Thee my whole soul.

St John Of Vercelli - 1st December 2009

John was born near Vercelli in northwest Italy in the early 13th century. Little is known of his early life. He entered the Dominican Order in the 1240s and served in various leadership capacities over the years. Elected sixth master general of the Dominicans in 1264, he served for almost two decades.
Known for his tireless energy and his commitment to simplicity, John made personal visits—typically on foot—to almost all the Dominican houses, urging his fellow friars to strictly observe the rules and constitutions of the Order.

He was tapped by two popes for special tasks. Pope Gregory X enlisted the help of John and his fellow Dominicans in helping to pacify the States of Italy that were quarreling with one another. John was also called upon to draw up a framework for the Second Council of Lyons in 1274. It was at that council that he met Jerome of Ascoli (the man who would later become Pope Nicholas IV), then serving as minister general of the Franciscans. Some time later the two men were sent by Rome to mediate a dispute involving King Philip III of France. Once again, John was able to draw on his negotiating and peacemaking skills.

Following the Second Council of Lyons, Pope Gregory selected John to spread devotion to the name of Jesus. John took the task to heart, requiring that every Dominican church contain an altar of the Holy Name; groups were also formed to combat blasphemy and profanity.

Toward the end of his life John was offered the role of patriarch of Jerusalem, but declined. He remained Dominican master general until his death.

Monday, November 30, 2009

St. John Damascene - 4th December 2009

Prayer to St. Andrew the Apostle

O glorious St. Andrew, you were the first to recognize and follow the Lamb of God. With your friend, St. John, you remained with Jesus for that first day, for your entire life, and now throughout eternity. As you led your brother, St. Peter, to Christ and many others after him, draw us also to Him. Teach us to lead others to Christ solely out of love for Him and dedication in His service. Help us to learn the lesson of the Cross and to carry our daily crosses without complaint so that they may carry us to Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Miraculous Medal

The Miraculous Medal was revealed to St. Catherine Laboure

The front side of the Medal: messages and symbolism

On the front side of the medal we see the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Victorious Woman of Genesis. God Himself put enmities between the Woman and the serpent, a battle to be carried on "in that ‘monumental struggle against the powers of darkness’ which continues throughout human history." (Mother of the Redeemer, #47, p.67; Pope John Paul II; March 25, 1987)

On the medal we see Mary Immaculate with her foot crushing the head of the serpent. "She who as the one ‘Full of Grace’ was brought into the Mystery of Christ in order to be His Mother and thus the Holy Mother of God . . . remains in that mystery as ‘the Woman’ spoken of by the Book of Genesis (3:15) at the beginning . . . " (Mother of the Redeemer, #24, p.23; Pope John Paul II; March 25, 1987). In many other official documents of the Church and writings of Saints we find Mary referred to as this Victorious Woman of Genesis destined to crush the proud head of the devil.

"The Bible is replete with the mystery of the Savior, and from Genesis to the Book of Revelation, also contains clear references to her who was the Mother and Associate of the Savior." (Marialis Cultus, #30, p.28; Pope Paul VI; Feb.2, 1974).

The year 1830 was shown inscribed on the globe at the base of the Medal, so it is clearly meant to convey some message. It can very well indicate the year which begins the final stages of the battle between the Woman and the serpent, between good and evil. It could be Heaven’s way of indicated the year opening the Marian Era.

Our Lady is standing on the globe of the world. Catherine could distinguish France in particular. In this we can see Mary both as the Victorious Woman and as the Queen of Heaven and Earth.

Mary’s hands are shown showering a cascade of brilliant rays on the world, as if she found them too heavy with graces and was eager to pour them on us. We can see her as our "Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix and Mediatrix. Of this intercession of hers for the People of God with the Son, the Church has been persuaded ever since the first centuries . . . " (The Great Sign, Part I, p.4; Pope Paul VI; May 13, 1967).

Around the oval frame of the medal we read the words, "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you." In this brief prayer we find the truth of (a) the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and (b) Mary’s intercessory power with God for us who ask for her aid.

The reverse side of the Medal

On the reverse side of the Medal we see a Cross, the symbol of Christ’s Redeeming Sacrifice on Mount Calvary for the salvation of the world.

At the base of the Cross is a bar, which symbolizes the foot of the Cross. Intertwined with the bar is the letter "M" symbolizing the Mary’s intimate involvement at the foot of the Cross with her Son’s Redemptive Sacrifice. We see the "M" is below the line or foot of the Cross, signifying Mary’s subordinate role to that of Jesus. "This union of the Mother and her Son in the work of Redemption (cf. Lumen Gentium, #57) reaches its climax on Calvary, where Christ ‘offered Himself as the perfect Sacrifice to God’ (Hebrew 9:14), and where Mary stood by the Cross (cf. John 19:25), ‘suffering grievously with her only-begotten Son. There she united herself with a maternal Heart to His Sacrifice, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth’ (II Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, #58), and also was offering to the Eternal Father." (Marialis Cultus, #20, p.19, Pope Paul VI, Feb.2, 1974)

It was also at the foot of the Cross that Jesus gave us, in the person of the Beloved Disciple, His own Mother to be our Mother. "Woman, behold your son; son, behold your Mother" (John 19, 25-27). And the beloved disciple gives us an example to follow, so that we learn to take Mary into our homes, into our lives, into our hearts, as do loving children.

So the "M" stands not only for Mary, but also for Mother. "The new Motherhood of Mary, generated by faith, is the fruit of the ‘new’ love which came to definite maturity in her at the foot of the Cross, through her sharing in the Redemptive Love of her Son. Thus we find ourselves at the very center of the fulfilment of the promise contained in the Proto-gospel . . . (Gen. 3:15)" (Mother of the Redeemer, #23-24; p.33; Pope John Paul II; March 25, 1987). "Mary’s mediation is intimately linked with her Motherhood." (ib. #39; p.54)

Since the Cross is the symbol of Christ’s Redemptive Sacrifice, we can also see a Eucharistic symbolism on the Medal. "To perpetuate down the centuries the Sacrifice of the Cross, the Divine Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice [the Mass], the Memorial of His Death and Resurrection, and entrusted it to His Spouse the Church" (cf. II Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, #47), which the Church continues to do "in union with the Saints in Heaven, and in particular with the Blessed Virgin." (Marialis Cultus, #20, p.19-20; Pope Paul VI; Feb. 2, 1974). In every Eucharistic Liturgy the Church involves the Blessed Virgin Mary, so befitting to her who stood heroically at the foot of the Cross uniting her sufferings to the Sacrifice of her Son, filling up in her body those things that are wanting to the sufferings of Christ, for the sake of His Mystical Body, the Church. (cf. Col. 1:24). In all of the approved apparitions of Our Lady there is a Eucharistic thrust. She usually asked for a church to be built, in which the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Blessed Sacrament always have prime place. Mary always leads us to Jesus, and Jesus is especially present in the Eucharist.

On the Medal beneath the Cross and the "M" we see the two Hearts, the Sacred Heart of Jesus encircled with a crown of thorns, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced with a sword. We see the prophesy of Holy Simeon fulfilled: the Son who was destined for the sign of contradiction, dying on the Cross, and the Mother pierced with a sword of sorrow beneath the Cross "so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Luke 2, 34-35). The union of the two Hearts foreshadows the message of Fatima: "The Sacred Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at His side." (Lucia Speaks, III Memoir, World Apostolate of Fatima, Washington, NJ: 1976; p.137). "God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart." (ib. p.126)

The two Hearts are surmounted by flames, symbolizing the burning love with which Jesus and Mary accomplished the work of Redemption, each in their proper way. No greater love does one have than to lay down one’s life. (cf. John 15:13). "Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her . . . " (Ephesus 5:25-27)

Around the oval frame of the Medal, encircling the Cross, the "M," and the two Hearts, we see a crown of twelve stars. This can be seen as a reference to the "the Great Sign" in the Book of Revelation/Apocalypse; the "Woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." The Woman engaged in battle with the "huge red Dragon . . . the ancient serpent, who is called the devil, or Satan" (Rev./Apoc. 12:3 & 9) is the Queen of the Apostles, the Mother of the Church. "The enmity, foretold at the beginning, is confirmed in the Apocalypse (the book of the final events of the Church and the world), in which there recurs the sign of the ‘Woman,’ this time ‘clothed with the sun’ (Rev. 12:1). Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word, is placed at the very center of that enmity, that struggle which accompanies the history of humanity on earth and the history of Salvation itself." (Mother of the Redeemer, #11; p.16; Pope Johne Paul II, March 25, 1987)

We can see then in the Miraculous Medal a symbol of the whole history of salvation from Genesis to Apocalypse, and we can see the vital role that the Victorious Woman is destined in the final defeat of the devil. It is amazing how in such a small medal God can give us so many profound lessons. As is the case with all of God’s graces, it is up to us to humbly accept what He offers, as Mary did (cf. Luke 1:38), and to cherish and ponder it in our hearts, as Mary did. (cf. Luke 2:19 & 51)

(Courtesy Here)

St. Catherine Labouré - 28th November 2009

The following is a commentary by Dr. Pilnio about St. Catherine Laboure

Biographical selection:

Zoé Labouré, the future Catherine, was born on May 2, 1806 , the ninth of eleven children born to a farm family in Fain-les-Moutiers, Côte d’Or, France. She never learned to read or write. At age 8, her mother died and she was put in charge of running the house and helping her father. Her father allowed her at age 22 to enter the convent of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent of Paul.

In religion she took the name of Catherine and was sent to the convent at Rue du Bac, Paris. At half past 11 o’clock on the night of July 18, 1830, she was awakened by the vision of a child who led her to the chapel where Our Lady spoke to her for more than two hours. She told Catherine that God wished to charge her with a mission.

On November 27 of that same year, Our Lady appeared to her a second time in the chapel. She held a globe in her hands upon which the word France was written. Our Lady told St. Catherine that it represented the entire world, but that she wanted to help France in particular.

Then, the vision changed and she saw Our Lady standing on a globe crushing the serpent under her feet, with rays of light streaming from her hands. These words in French surrounded the vision: “O Mary conceived without sin, Pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Then Catherine saw another picture with a capital M with a cross above it, and below it, two hearts, one thorn-crowned and the other pierced with a sword. The Virgin spoke, this time giving a direct order: "Have a medal struck as I have shown you. All who wear it will receive great graces."

She told only her confessor Fr. Father Jean Marie Aladel about these visions, and at first he did not believe her. No one but he and the Archbishop of Paris knew that it was she who received the revelations. In 1832 the first medals were issued and many miracles were worked because of them. In a few years the fame of the Miraculous Medal of Our Lady spread all over France and Europe.

In 1842 the Jew Alphonse Ratisbonne was visiting Rome. He was wearing the medal when he received a vision of Our Lady in the Church of St. Andrea delle Frate in Rome. This was the cause of his conversion, and later he founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Sion for the conversion of the Jews. This incident contributed significantly to the dissemination of the Miraculous Medal.

In the convent where St. Catherine lived, not even the Superior Mother knew who had received the revelations. St. Catherine was transferred to the convent of Enghien-Reuilly and lived there for over 40 years unknown, carrying out the humble functions as gate-keeper, head of the poultry yard, and caring for the aged in the convent’s hospice. Only eight months before her death did she receive permission from her confessor to reveal to her Superior, Mother Dufès, that she was the one who had received the apparitions of Our Lady. She died on December 31, 1876. Soon after her funeral miracles were worked through her intercession.

When her body was exhumed in 1933 it was found completely fresh and supple. Her incorrupt body is encased in glass beneath the side altar at 140 Rue du Bac, Paris, beneath one of the spots where our Lady appeared to her.

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

Given the extraordinary diffusion of the Miraculous Medal, I think we can say that St. Catherine Labouré was the woman who played the greatest role in History in spreading devotion to Our Lady. The greatest man was St. Louis Grignion de Monfort. However, their lives and how they spread Marian devotion were profoundly different.

St. Louis de Montfort
was a founder of two religious Congregations, a missionary, a pilgrim walking from one place to another, fighting, preaching, writing books, being attacked and counter-attacking in his turn. Therefore, he was constantly appearing in public in those few French provinces where he was allowed to preach by the Jansenist Bishops who had infiltrated the Catholic Church in France at that time. In those places his public example of virtue and continuous preaching about Our Lady caused his life and devotion to make a mark on History. His name appears wherever one speaks of true devotion to Our Lady.

The life of St. Catherine Labouré was the exact opposite. She was so unknown, so humble, so useless that the very sisters of her order did not know it was she who had received those revelations. Even her religious Superiors were unaware of this. They knew that some sister of their order had received revelations from Our Lady, but they did not know which one it was. Notwithstanding, she was the cause of an enormous diffusion of devotion to Our Lady. Our Lady wanted this devotion of the Miraculous Medal to be spread through St. Catherine, but in opposition to the life of St. Louis de Montfort, St. Catherine remained completely unknown.

She was also different from St. Bernadette Soubirous since everyone knew that St. Bernadette was the one who had seen Our Lady. St. Catherine’s vocation was only to report the revelations and the order for the medal to be struck. The miracles that immediately began to take place did all the rest.

There are many other comments that could be made about the different ways God acts in accordance with the various psychologies of His saints. But here I want to highlight only one general facet of the life of St. Catherine.

Let me point out that it is appropriate for a woman to live in obscurity when she enters a religious order. When she lives in the world, it is appropriate for her to remain within the limits of the family. Normally women do not have a public mission to fulfill. It is an exception to the rule when women are known in the Church for the public missions they exercised during their lives. Even when Divine Providence wants to use them for a mission of great relevance, they generally continue to live in the seclusion of their convents, away from the eyes of the public.

This is in accordance with the moral characteristics of a woman, with her role in the general plan of creation. In the life of St. Catherine Labouré, which is permeated with the supernatural in the accomplishment of a sublime mission, God was faithful to the general rule He established. He kept her in obscurity.

This leads us to see how mistaken modern civilization is in pushing women to have a public life either in the civil or religious sphere, entrusting them with tasks that normally should be given to men. What the Revolution presents as the emancipation of women is actually to enslave them to many kinds of work that are not according to their nature.

St. Catherine Labouré shows us the healthy characteristics of a woman. Being reserved and living in the obscurity of her religious order, she accomplished a work incomparably superior to that of I don’t know how many social leaders, business women and public representatives in Congress. God wanted her to remain entirely feminine, because to each sex God has a plan proper to its nature.

As counter-revolutionaries, we must highlight such aspects in the lives of the saints. Otherwise, we remain in the realm of common pious and respectable comments that do not prevent the Revolution from going forward. We must show the counter-revolutionary aspects of the Saints; otherwise we do not accomplish the mission Divine Providence gave us.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Having Faith when some one is sick

For me one of the toughest times to have faith that God is in charge is when some one I care for is sick. I think this goes back to when I was a kid and my grandma was in hospital in intensive care. It was my birthday and I went to see her. I don't remember what birthday it was, what I do remember is a my nana lying on this bed connected to all sorts of machines one of them was a kind of a canister with water in it and a solitary bubble in it (some of my nurse friends care to explain to me what this was.) and the bracelet my mum made me wear that day. Soon after nana passed away. Since then I cannot bear hospitals. They smell anitiseptic and in my mind people who go there die. I rarely go to hospitals or doctors when anyone is sick and least of all when I am ill.
I cannot bear to see people who I love for sick, this is becasue there is nothing I can do for them, I am not in control of the situation. It is difficult for me to see the hand of God in such situations becasue my faith is obviusly not at that level. It is hard to watch a person struggle with a debilitating disease knowing that they may well not make it. I guess for me the lesson is to learn to see God's hand in such situations.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved - Sermon by St Leonard of Port Maurice

(Domenico di Michelino paints Dante's Inferno)

The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved by St. Leonard of Port Maurice

The Teaching of the Fathers of the Church

It is not vain curiosity but salutary precaution to proclaim from the height of the pulpit certain truths which serve wonderfully to contain the indolence of libertines, who are always talking about the mercy of God and about how easy it is to convert, who live plunged in all sorts of sins and are soundly sleeping on the road to hell. To disillusion them and waken them from their torpor, today let us examine this great question: Is the number of Christians who are saved greater than the number of Christians who are damned?

Pious souls, you may leave; this sermon is not for you. Its sole purpose is to contain the pride of libertines who cast the holy fear of God out of their heart and join forces with the devil who, according to the sentiment of Eusebius, damns souls by reassuring them. To resolve this doubt, let us put the Fathers of the Church, both Greek and Latin, on one side; on the other, the most learned theologians and erudite historians; and let us put the Bible in the middle for all to see. Now listen not to what I will say to you – for I have already told you that I do not want to speak for myself or decide on the matter – but listen to what these great minds have to tell you, they who are beacons in the Church of God to give light to others so that they will not miss the road to heaven. In this manner, guided by the triple light of faith, authority and reason, we will be able to resolve this grave matter with certainty.

Note well that there is no question here of the human race taken as a whole, nor of all Catholics taken without distinction, but only of Catholic adults, who have free choice and are thus capable of cooperating in the great matter of their salvation. First let us consult the theologians recognized as examining things most carefully and as not exaggerating in their teaching: let us listen to two learned cardinals, Cajetan and Bellarmine. They teach that the greater number of Christian adults are damned, and if I had the time to point out the reasons upon which they base themselves, you would be convinced of it yourselves. But I will limit myself here to quoting Suarez. After consulting all the theologians and making a diligent study of the matter, he wrote, "The most common sentiment which is held is that, among Christians, there are more damned souls than predestined souls."

Add the authority of the Greek and Latin Fathers to that of the theologians, and you will find that almost all of them say the same thing. This is the sentiment of Saint Theodore, Saint Basil, Saint Ephrem, and Saint John Chrysostom. What is more, according to Baronius it was a common opinion among the Greek Fathers that this truth was expressly revealed to Saint Simeon Stylites and that after this revelation, it was to secure his salvation that he decided to live standing on top of a pillar for forty years, exposed to the weather, a model of penance and holiness for everyone. Now let us consult the Latin Fathers. You will hear Saint Gregory saying clearly, "Many attain to faith, but few to the heavenly kingdom." Saint Anselm declares, "There are few who are saved." Saint Augustine states even more clearly, "Therefore, few are saved in comparison to those who are damned." The most terrifying, however, is Saint Jerome. At the end of his life, in the presence of his disciples, he spoke these dreadful words: "Out of one hundred thousand people whose lives have always been bad, you will find barely one who is worthy of indulgence."

The Words of Holy Scripture

But why seek out the opinions of the Fathers and theologians, when Holy Scripture settles the question so clearly? Look in to the Old and New Testaments, and you will find a multitude of figures, symbols and words that clearly point out this truth: very few are saved. In the time of Noah, the entire human race was submerged by the Deluge, and only eight people were saved in the Ark. Saint Peter says, "This ark was the figure of the Church," while Saint Augustine adds, "And these eight people who were saved signify that very few Christians are saved, because there are very few who sincerely renounce the world, and those who renounce it only in words do not belong to the mystery represented by that ark." The Bible also tells us that only two Hebrews out of two million entered the Promised Land after going out of Egypt, and that only four escaped the fire of Sodom and the other burning cities that perished with it. All of this means that the number of the damned who will be cast into fire like straw is far greater than that of the saved, whom the heavenly Father will one day gather into His barns like precious wheat.

I would not finish if I had to point out all the figures by which Holy Scripture confirms this truth; let us content ourselves with listening to the living oracle of Incarnate Wisdom. What did Our Lord answer the curious man in the Gospel who asked Him, "Lord, is it only a few to be saved?" Did He keep silence? Did He answer haltingly? Did He conceal His thought for fear of frightening the crowd? No. Questioned by only one, He addresses all of those present. He says to them: "You ask Me if there are only few who are saved?" Here is My answer: "Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Who is speaking here? It is the Son of God, Eternal Truth, who on another occasion says even more clearly, "Many are called, but few are chosen." He does not say that all are called and that out of all men, few are chosen, but that many are called; which means, as Saint Gregory explains, that out of all men, many are called to the True Faith, but out of them few are saved. Brothers, these are the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Are they clear? They are true. Tell me now if it is possible for you to have faith in your heart and not tremble.

For the rest of the sermon click here