New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Saturday, August 29, 2009

St. Augustine's Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

For a biography of St. Augustine click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Feast of St Monica - 27 August 2009

It seems the bolg has been up for a year as we already have an entry for St Monica and hence this is a repost of what we did last year.

Today we celebrate the feast of St Monica, the mother of one of my favourite saints: St Augustine. I like St Monica cause she is a witty and naggy mom. She gave fitting and witty replies to her Great Son St Augustine. What follows is a brief history of this saint.



Our knowledge of Monica comes almost entirely from the writings of her son, the great Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine of Hippo. His relationship with his mother was a close one, especially during Monica's last years. In Book IX of St. Augustine's he gives us many details of her life, and expresses his gratitude for her devotion in moving terms.

St. Monica was born about the year 332 in Tagaste, North Africa, of a Christian family of some substance. We are given one episode of her childhood which suggests a possible origin for her firmness of will. She was sometimes sent down to the cellar to draw wine for the family, and fell into the habit of taking secret sips. She developed such a passion for wine that before long she was drinking great draughts of it whenever opportunity offered. One day a family slave who had been spying on the little girl denounced her as a wine-bibber, and Monica, covered with shame, gave up the habit. Soon afterward she was baptized, and thenceforth seems to have led a life of irreproachable virtue.

As soon as Monica had reached marriageable age, her parents found a husband for her, the pagan Patricius. He was a man of violent temper and their home could scarcely have been a happy one. Monica endured his outbursts with the utmost patience, although he was critical of Christians and their practices. The daily example of her gentleness and kindness finally had its rewards, and a year before his death, which occurred when Augustine was seventeen, Patricius accepted his wife's faith. Monica and Patricius had three children, Navigius, who seems to have been an exemplary son, Augustine, and Perpetua, a daughter, who became a religious. Augustine, the more brilliant of the sons, was sent to Carthage, so that he might develop his talents and become a man of culture. He took to learning naturally but he also spent time in youthful carousing. This caused his mother great anguish, and when he returned to Tagaste, she disapproved so strongly both of his loose living and of his espousal of the popular heresy of Manichaeism that she refused at first to allow him to live at home. She relented only after having seen a vision. One day as she was weeping over his behavior, a figure appeared and asked her the cause of her grief. She answered, and a voice issued from the mysterious figure, telling her to dry her tears; then she heard the words, "Your son is with you." Monica related this story to Augustine, and he replied that they might easily be together if she gave up her faith, for that was the main obstacle keeping them apart. Quickly she retorted, "He did not say I was with you: he said that you were with me." Augustine was impressed by the quick answer and never forgot it. Although his conversion was not to take place for nine long years, Monica did not lose faith. She continually fasted, prayed, and wept on his behalf. She implored the local bishop for help in winning him over, and he counseled her to be patient, saying, "God's time will come." Monica persisted in importuning him, and the bishop uttered the words which have often been quoted: "Go now, I beg you; it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish."

Augustine was twenty-nine and a successful teacher when he decided to go to Rome. Monica opposed the move, fearing that his conversion would be indefinitely postponed. Her son went on with his plan, and set off with his young mistress and little son Adeodatus for the seaport. His mother followed him there, and when he saw that she intended to accompany him, he outwitted her by a deception as to the time of sailing. He embarked while she was spending the night praying in a church. Although this grieved her deeply, Monica was still not discouraged about her wayward son, for she continued on to Rome. The ship on which she took passage was tossed about by a storm, and she cheered those on board by her serene confidence in God's mercy. On reaching Rome, Monica learned that her son had gone to Milan. There he had come under the influence of the great Bishop Ambrose. When his mother finally found him in the northern city, he had given up Manichaeism, although he was not yet a Christian. Monica's friendship with Ambrose is worth touching upon. She apparently made a friend of this eminent churchman and he entertained the highest opinion of her. Here in Milan, as at home in North Africa, Monica was foremost among the women in all charitable works, and also in her devotions. The bishop, however, persuaded her to give up some of the customs practiced by the Christians of her homeland, for they were derived from ancient pagan rites; carrying food and wine to the tombs of the martyrs was one of the customs which Monica now relinquished.

The joyous day of Augustine's conversion, which will be fully described in the life of that saint, came at last. For some time his mother had been trying to end her son's illicit relationship of so many years' standing. She hoped to find a suitable bride for him, but after his mistress went back to Africa Augustine informed her that he would now adopt a celibate life and devote himself to God's service. The give us glimpses of the period of preparation preceding his baptism. The time was passed in the house of a friend, where a close-knit group, consisting of his mother, brother, Adeodatus, and a few companions occupied themselves with discussions of religion and philosophy. At Easter, when Bishop Ambrose baptized Augustine, his mother's cup was full to overflowing.

Augustine and the members of his family now set out for their return to Tagaste. At the port of Ostia, Monica fell ill. She knew that her work had been accomplished and that life would soon be over. Her exaltation of spirit was such that her sons were unaware of the approach of death. As Monica's strength failed, she said to Augustine: "I do not know what there is left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled. All I wished for was that I might see you a Catholic and a child of Heaven. God granted me even more than this in making you despise earthly felicity and consecrate yourself to His service." Shortly afterwards they asked her if she did not fear to die so far from home, for she had earlier expressed a desire to be buried beside her husband in Tagaste. Now, with beautiful simplicity, she replied, "Nothing is far from God," and indicated that she was content to be buried where she died. Monica's death plunged her children into the deepest grief, and Augustine, "the son of so many tears," in the implores his readers' prayers for his parents. It is the prayers of Monica herself that have been invoked by generations of the faithful who honor her as a special patroness of married women and as an example for Christian motherhood. Her relics are alleged to have been transferred from Ostia to Rome, to rest in the church of San Agostino. Her emblems are a girdle and tears.



Courtesy EWTN

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

ST. JOSEPH CALASANZ - 26th August 2009


Joseph was born in 1556, in his father's castle in Spain. He went to college and became a lawyer. He was ordained a priest at the age of twenty-eight. Joseph was given high positions and he did his work well. Yet he felt that God was calling him to do some special work for poor children in Rome. Obedient to the Lord's call, he gave up everything he had in Spain and went to Rome. There his heart was filled with pity for all the orphans and homeless children he saw everywhere. They were ignorant and neglected. Joseph began to gather them together to teach them all the regular subjects, and especially their religion. Other priests joined him. Soon Joseph became the superior of a new religious order. But he never let his duties as founder and superior stop him from teaching his beloved children. He would even sweep the classrooms himself. He often led the little ones to their homes after school was over.

St. Joseph had much to suffer from people who tried to take over his order. They wanted to run it their way. Once he was even led through the streets like a criminal. He was almost put in jail, although the good priest had done nothing wrong. When he was ninety years old, the saint received terrible news. His order had been forbidden to continue in the way he had started it. Yet despite this suffering, Joseph only said: "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. My work has been done simply out of love for God."

Two years later, in 1648, the saint died a calm, peaceful death. He was ninety-two years old. Several years afterward, his order, the Piarist Fathers, was allowed to continue St. Joseph's wonderful mission. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Clement XIII in 1767. Pope Pius XII declared him patron of Christian schools in 1948.

Sometimes events or situations turn out differently from what we had planned. We might not be able to understand why. St. Joseph Calasanz shows us how to trust God and be patient. When we find that difficult, we can ask this saint to strengthen us.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

King Saint Louis's Last Instructions to his Eldest Son, Philip III

King Saint Louis's Last Instructions
to his Eldest Son, Philip III


1. To his dear first-born son, Philip, greeting, and his father's love.

2. Dear son, since I desire with all my heart that you be well "instructed in all things, it is in my thought to give you some advice this writing. For I have heard you say, several times, that you remember my words better than those of any one else.

3. Therefore, dear son, the first thing I advise is that you fix your whole heart upon God, and love Him with all your strength, for without this no one can be saved or be of any worth.

4. You should, with all your strength, shun everything which you believe to be displeasing to Him. And you ought especially to be resolved not to commit mortal sin, no matter what may happen and should permit all your limbs to be hewn off, and suffer every manner of torment, rather than fall knowingly into mortal sin.

5. If our Lord send you any adversity, whether illness or other in good patience, and thank Him for it, thing, you should receive it in good patience and be thankful for it, for you ought to believe that He will cause everthing to turn out for your good; and likewise you should think that you have well merited it, and more also, should He will it, because you have loved Him but little, and served Him but little, and have done many things contrary to His will.

6. If our Lord send you any prosperity, either health of body or other thing you ought to thank Him humbly for it, and you ought to be careful that you are not the worse for it, either through pride or anything else, for it is a very great sin to fight against our Lord with His gifts.

7. Dear son, I advise you that you accustom yourself to frequent confession, and that you choose always, as your confessors, men who are upright and sufficiently learned, and who can teach you what you should do and what you should avoid. You should so carry yourself that your confessors and other friends may dare confidently to reprove you and show you your faults.

8. Dear son, I advise you that you listen willingly and devoutly the services of Holy Church, and, when you are in church, avoid to frivolity and trifling, and do not look here and there; but pray to God with lips and heart alike, while entertaining sweet thoughts about Him, and especially at the mass, when the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are consecrated, and for a little time before.

9. Dear son, have a tender pitiful heart for the poor, and for all those whom you believe to be in misery of heart or body, and, according to your ability, comfort and aid them with some alms.

10. Maintain the good customs of your realm, and put down the bad ones. Do not oppress your people and do not burden them with tolls or tailles, except under very great necessity.

11. If you have any unrest of heart, of such a nature that it may be told, tell it to your confessor, or to some upright man who can keep your secret; you will be able to carry more easily the thought of your heart.

12. See to it that those of your household are upright and loyal, and remember the Scripture, which says: "Elige viros timentes Deum in quibus sit justicia et qui oderint avariciam"; that is to say, "Love those who serve God and who render strict justice and hate covetousness"; and you will profit, and will govern your kingdom well.

13. Dear son, see to it that all your associates are upright, whether clerics or laymen, and have frequent good converse with them; and flee the society of the bad. And listen willingly to the word of God, both in open and in secret; and purchase freely prayers and pardons.

14. Love all good, and hate all evil, in whomsoever it may be.

15. Let no one be so bold as to say, in your presence, words which attract and lead to sin, and do not permit words of detraction to be spoken of another behind his back.

!6. Suffer it not that any ill be spoken of God or His saints in your presence, without taking prompt vengeance. But if the offender be a clerk or so great a person that you ought not to try him, report the matter to him who is entitled to judge it.

17. Dear son, give thanks to God often for all the good things He has done for you, so that you may be worthy to receive more, in such a manner that if it please the Lord that you come to the burden and honor of governing the kingdom, you may be worthy to receive the sacred unction wherewith the kings of France are consecrated.

18. Dear son, if you come to the throne, strive to have that which befits a king, that is to say, that in justice and rectitude you hold yourself steadfast and loyal toward your subjects and your vassals, without turning either to the right or to the left, but always straight, whatever may happen. And if a poor man have a quarrel with a rich man, sustain the poor rather than the rich, until the truth is made clear, and when you know the truth, do justice to them.

19. If any one have entered into a suit against you (for any injury or wrong which he may believe that you have done to him), be always for him and against yourself in the presence of your council, without showing that you think much of your case (until the truth be made known concerning it); for those of your council might be backward in speaking against you, and this you should not wish; and command your judges that you be not in any way upheld more than any others, for thus will your councillors judge more boldly according to right and truth.

20. If you have anything belonging to another, either of yourself or through your predecessors, if the matter is certain, give it up without delay, however great it may be, either in land or money or otherwise. If the matter is doubtful, have it inquired into by wise men, promptly and diligently. And if the affair is so obscure that you cannot know the truth, make such a settlement, by the counsel of s of upright men, that your soul, and the soul your predecessors, may be wholly freed from the affair. And even if you hear some one say that your predecessors made restitution, make diligent inquiry to learn if anything remains to be restored; and if you find that such is the case, cause it to be delivered over at once, for the liberation of your soul and the souls of your predecessors.

21. You should seek earnestly how your vassals and your subjects may live in peace and rectitude beneath your sway; likewise, the good towns and the good cities of your kingdom. And preserve them in the estate and the liberty in which your predecessors kept them, redress it, and if there be anything to amend, amend and preserve their favor and their love. For it is by the strength and the riches of your good cities and your good towns that the native and the foreigner, especially your peers and your barons, are deterred from doing ill to you. I will remember that Paris and the good towns of my kingdom aided me against the barons, when I was newly crowned.

22. Honor and love all the people of Holy Church, and be careful that no violence be done to them, and that their gifts and alms, which your predecessors have bestowed upon them, be not taken away or diminished. And I wish here to tell you what is related concerning King Philip, my ancestor, as one of his council, who said he heard it, told it to me. The king, one day, was with his privy council, and he was there who told me these words. And one of the king's councillors said to him how much wrong and loss he suffered from those of Holy Church, in that they took away his rights and lessened the jurisdiction of his court; and they marveled greatly how he endured it. And the good king answered: "I am quite certain that they do me much wrong, but when I consider the goodnesses and kindnesses which God has done me, I had rather that my rights should go, than have a contention or awaken a quarrel with Holy Church." And this I tell to you that you may not lightly believe anything against the people of Holy Church; so love them and honor them and watch over them that they may in peace do the service of our Lord.

23. Moreover, I advise you to love dearly the clergy, and, so far as you are able, do good to them in their necessities, and likewise love those by whom God is most honored and served, and by whom the Faith is preached and exalted.

24. Dear son, I advise that you love and reverence your father and your mother, willingly remember and keep their commandments, and be inclined to believe their good counsels.

25. Love your brothers, and always wish their well-being and their good advancement, and also be to them in the place of a father, to instruct them in all good. But be watchful lest, for the love which you bear to one, you turn aside from right doing, and do to the others that which is not meet.

26. Dear son, I advise you to bestow the benefices of Holy Church which you have to give, upon good persons, of good and clean life, and that you bestow them with the high counsel of upright men. And I am of the opinion that it is preferable to give them to those who hold nothing of Holy Church, rather than to others. For, if you inquire diligently, you will find enough of those who have nothing who will use wisely that entrusted to them.

27. Dear son, I advise you that you try with all your strength to avoid warring against any Christian man, unless he have done you too much ill. And if wrong be done you, try several ways to see if you can find how you can secure your rights, before you make war; and act thus in order to avoid the sins which are committed in warfare.

28. And if it fall out that it is needful that you should make war (either because some one of your vassals has failed to plead his case in your court, or because he has done wrong to some church or to some poor person, or to any other person whatsoever, and is unwilling to make amends out of regard for you, or for any other reasonable cause), whatever the reason for which it is necessary for you to make war, give diligent command that the poor folk who have done no wrong or crime be protected from damage to their vines, either through fire or otherwise, for it were more fitting that you should constrain the wrongdoer by taking his own property (either towns or castles, by force of siege), than that you should devastate the property of poor people. And be careful not to start the war before you have good counsel that the cause is most reasonable, and before you have summoned the offender to make amends, and have waited as long as you should. And if he ask mercy, you ought to pardon him, and accept his amende, so that God may be pleased with you.

29. Dear son, I advise you to appease wars and contentions, whether they be yours or those of your subjects, just as quickly as may be, for it is a thing most pleasing to our Lord. And Monsignore Martin gave us a very great example of this. For, one time, when our Lord made it known to him that he was about to die, he set out to make peace between certain clerks of his archbishopric, and he was of the opinion that in so doing he was giving a good end to life.

30. Seek diligently, most sweet son, to have good baillis and good prevots in your land, and inquire frequently concerning their doings, and how they conduct themselves, and if they administer justice well, and do no wrong to any one, nor anything which they ought not do. Inquire more often concerning those of your household if they be too covetous or too arrogant; for it is natural that the members should seek to imitate their chief; that is, when the master is wise and well-behaved, all those of his household follow his example and prefer it. For however much you ought to hate evil in others, you shoud have more hatred for the evil which comes from those who derive their power from you, than you bear to the evil of others; and the more ought you to be on your guard and prevent this from happening.

3!. Dear son, I advise you always to be devoted to the Church of Rome, and to the sovereign pontiff, our father, and to bear him the the reverence and honor which you owe to your spiritual father.

32. Dear son, freely give power to persons of good character, who know how to use it well, and strive to have wickednesses expelled from your land, that is to say, nasty oaths, and everything said or done against God or our Lady or the saints. In a wise and proper manner put a stop, in your land, to bodily sins, dicing, taverns, and other sins. Put down heresy so far as you can, and hold in especial abhorrence Jews, and all sorts of people who are hostile to the Faith, so that your land may be well purged of them, in such manner as, by the sage counsel of good people, may appear to you advisable.

33. Further the right with all your strength. Moreover I admonish you you that you strive most earnestly to show your gratitude for the benefits which our Lord has bestowed upon you, and that you may know how to give Him thanks therefore

34. Dear son, take care that the expenses of your household are reasonable and moderate, and that its moneys are justly obtained. And there is one opinion that I deeply wish you to entertain, that is to say, that you keep yourself free from foolish expenses and evil exactions, and that your money should be well expended and well acquired. And this opinion, together with other opinions which are suitable and profitable, I pray that our Lord may teach you.

35. Finally, most sweet son, I conjure and require you that, if it please our Lord that I should die before you, you have my soul succored with masses and orisons, and that you send through the congregations of the kingdom of France, and demand their prayers for my soul, and that you grant me a special and full part in all the good deeds which you perform.

36. In conclusion, dear son, I give you all the blessings which a good and tender father can give to a son, and I pray our Lord Jesus Christ, by His mercy, by the prayers and merits of His blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, and of angels and archangels and of all the saints, to guard and protect you from doing anything contrary to His will, and to give you grace to do it always, so that He may be honored and served by you. And this may He do to me as to you, by His great bounty, so that after this mortal life we may be able to be together with Him in the eternal life, and see Him, love Him, and praise Him without end. Amen. And glory, honor, and praise be to Him who is one God with the Father and the Holy Spirit; without beginning and without end. Amen.

St. Louis IX, King of France - 25th August 2009


The following text from the Book of Wisdom is habitually applied to St. Louis:

“Hear, therefore, ye kings, and understand; learn, ye that are judges of the ends of the earth. Give ear, you that rule the people, and that please yourself in the multitude of nations: For power is given you by the Lord, and strength by the Most High, who will examine your works, and search out your thoughts ...

“To you, therefore, O kings, these are my words, that you may learn wisdom, and not fall from it. For they that have kept just things justly, shall be justified: and they that have learned these things, shall find what to answer.

"Covet ye, therefore, my words, and love them, and you shall have instruction. Wisdom is glorious, and never fadeth away, and is easily seen by them that love her, and is found by them that seek her” (6:2-4; 10-12).

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

St. Louis was a wise King in the full sense of the word, because the truly wise one is not the scientist who knows many facts, but the saint.

What is wisdom? It is the fundamental virtue by which man knows the most profound aspect of things, the ultimate reality of things. It is the virtue that allows one to penetrate and understand not only this or that subject, but the whole universe, the cosmos. It is wisdom that permits one to understand the meaning of one’s own existence, the meaning of human life in general, and the meaning of the ensemble of other created things.

How does one understand the ultimate reality of things? It is to know what the things are, what they represent, what they exist for. But wisdom is not just to understand. It is to understand in order to lead one’s life and order one’s actions in accordance with the answer one finds to these questions.

There is, then, an opposition between the wise and the foolish spirits. The foolish man is the one who is not concerned about these things. He only wants to enjoy himself. He doesn’t want to know the ultimate reason of things, the reality that is behind appearances. He doesn’t want to adapt his life to principles. He just wants to enjoy a good life. Not necessarily an immoral life, but a life where he doesn’t have to think about anything profound. To live a life like this is a complete absence of wisdom.

How many good ladies do you know who take reasonable care of their family duties, assist at Mass, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, but do not have wisdom? Certainly there are many. They do all these good things, but afterwards they are immersed in their little mediocre lives without any deep thought.

In his Treatise on Eternal Wisdom St. Louis de Montfort explains that wisdom is a presupposition for the Faith. Without wisdom the Faith can exist, but it lacks a foundation. Our Lady was the Seat of the Wisdom and was always seeking to increase her knowledge, love and service of God.

This virtue is demanded of kings, governors, and anyone who exercises some form of power. A king without wisdom loses his people. When he has wisdom, he saves his people, and is the glory of his people. For a man without wisdom, power becomes an instrument of his perdition.

Hence, we can understand the magnificent eulogy Scriptures made of the wise king. He leads peoples and things to their last end, which is God. This is the ultimate meaning of his kingship.

What we admire in St. Louis, King of France, is the model of a wise man placed on the throne to govern his kingdom.

We should ask him to give us the precious virtue of wisdom.

Monday, August 24, 2009

St. Bartholomew - 24th August 2009

Saint Bartholomew, Bar-Tolmai or son of Tolmai, was one of the twelve Apostles called to the apostolate by our Blessed Lord Himself. His name is more adequately rendered by his given name, Nathanael. If one wonders why the synoptic Gospels always call him Bartholomew, it would be because the name Nathanael in Hebrew is equivalent to that of Matthew, since both in Hebrew signify gift of God; in this way the Evangelists avoided all confusion between the two Apostles. He was a native of Cana in Galilee, a doctor of the Jewish law, and a friend of Philip.

Philip, advised by Peter and Andrew, hastened to communicate to his friend the good news of his discovery of Christ: “We have found Him whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, wrote! Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile.” (Cf. John 1:45-49) His innocence and simplicity of heart deserved to be celebrated with this high praise in the divine mouth of Our Redeemer. And Nathanael, when Jesus told him He had already seen him in a certain place, confessed his faith at once: “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel!”

Being eminently qualified by divine grace to discharge the functions of an Apostle, he carried the Gospel through the most barbarous countries of the East, penetrating into the remoter Indies, baptizing neophytes and casting out demons. A copy of the Gospel of Saint Matthew was found in India by Saint Pantænus in the third century, taken there, according to local tradition, by Saint Bartholomew. Saint John Chrysostom said the Apostle also preached in Asia Minor and, with Saint Philip, suffered there, though not mortally, for the faith. Saint Bartholomew’s last mission was in Greater Armenia, where, preaching in a place obstinately addicted to the worship of idols, he was crowned with a glorious martyrdom. The modern Greek historians say that he was condemned by the governor of Albanopolis to be crucified. Others affirm that he was flayed alive, which treatment might well have accompanied his crucifixion, this double punishment being in use not only in Egypt, but also among the Persians.