Saturday, November 28, 2009
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)
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
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 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
When thirteen years old, he went to the renowned Roman college where St. Aloysius once pursued his studies. There he so distinguished himself with piety, diligence, and good works that he was called another Aloysius. On completing his studies, he contemplated entering the medical profession, but during a visit to the Franciscan convent of St. Bonaventure in Rome, he received his call to the priesthood. He entered the Order on October 2, 1697 and soon became the glory of his convent. His exact observance of the rule was admirable; likewise were his fervor at prayer, his burning love of Jesus and Mary, his rigorous penance, his humility, and his tireless charity toward his neighbor.
Ardently he desired to preach the Gospel in China, but his delicate constitution for a while prevented even his preaching at home. Consumption seemed to have claimed him, but at the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, he was miraculously restored to health. He then devoted himself with renewed zeal to parish missions, and during twenty-four years he covered every section of Italy and the island of Corsica, which latter was notorious for lawless inhabitants. He scourged himself without compassion to obtain mercy for his sins and those of others, and the power of his words made a deep impression because of the austerity of his life. Thus he was able to convert innumerable sinners.
He caused to be built a retreat house for missionaries at Incontro near Florence, where preachers could withdraw a time in order to prepare themselves through a life of seclusion and penance for future activities. In Rome he founded several pious confraternities, most notably that of the Sacred Heart, whose compassion he taught the people to request with the little ejaculation: "My Jesus, mercy!" Wherever he went, he spread devotion to the Way of the Cross and perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He fostered also devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin by way of a pious obligation of gratitude, since he attributed to her mediation all the good he had ever received or done in his life.
Returning to Rome from a mission in Bologna, St. Leonard died in the convent of St. Bonaventure on November 26, 1751. God glorified him with miracles in his life, but more so after his death. Pope Pius VI, who had known him personally, beatified him in 1796; Pope Pius IX canonized him June 29, 1867. Pope Pius XI appointed him Patron of all missionaries. His Feast is celebrated in the Church calendar on November 26.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Artists have painted her with her chief emblem, the wheel, on which by tradition she was tortured; other emblems are a lamb and a sword. Her name continues to be cherished today by the young unmarried women of Paris.
Yet in spite of this veneration, we have few facts that can be relied on concerning Catherine's life. Eusebius, "father of Church history," writing around the year 320, had heard of a noble young Christian woman of Alexandria whom the Emperor ordered to come to his palace, presumably to become his mistress, and who, on refusing, was punished by banishment and the confiscation of her estates. The story of St. Catherine may have sprung from some brief record such as this, which Christians writing at a later date expanded. The last persecutions of Christians, though short, were severe, and those living in the peace which followed seem to have had a tendency to embellish the traditions of their martyrs that they might not be forgotten.
According to the popular tradition, Catherine was born of a patrician family of Alexandria and from childhood had devoted herself to study. Through her reading she had learned much of Christianity and had been converted by a vision of Our Lady and the Holy Child. When Maxentius began his persecution, Catherine, then a beautiful young girl, went to him and rebuked him boldly for his cruelty. He could not answer her arguments against his pagan gods, and summoned fifty philosophers to confute her. They all confessed themselves won over by her reasoning, and were thereupon burned to death by the enraged Emperor. He then tried to seduce Catherine with an offer of a consort's crown, and when she indignantly refused him, he had her beaten and imprisoned. The Emperor went off to inspect his military forces, and when he got back he discovered that his wife Faustina and a high official, one Porphyrius, had been visiting Catherine and had been converted, along with the soldiers of the guard. They too were put to death, and Catherine was sentenced to be killed on a spiked wheel.
When she was fastened to the wheel, her bonds were miraculously loosed and the wheel itself broke, its spikes flying off and killing some of the onlookers. She was then beheaded. The modern Catherine-wheel, from which sparks fly off in all directions, took its name from the saint's wheel of martyrdom. The text of the
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
This is from the Catholic Bishops Conference of India Web site
St. Anthony’s Church at Kavalbyrasandra was found forced open early November 9 morning, and cash and valuables missing.
The tabernacle had been desecrated and a cupboard ransacked.
The incident triggered a massive protest by the local Christians who feared another attack on a church in the state. Last month, vandals had uprooted statues of Jesus and Mary at a church at Hebbagodi on the outskirts of Bangalore.
Parish priest Father Arokiadas had closed the church Saturday, November 7, and retired to his first-floor room on the church premises.
Before Sunday Mass, Devadas, the sacristan, who assists in the preparation for Mass, came to the church around 5 a.m. to clean up the place and found the main door forcibly opened.
He immediately informed the priest about the incident.
The Holy Communion was removed from the tabernacle and spilled all over the floor.
Three dumb boxes containing cash offerings were found damaged and sacred vessels missing.
Devadas said: “I was shocked to see the front door of the church open. Somebody had forced the door and entered the church.”
Father Das told newspersons: “This is a deliberate act done to hurt our religious sentiments. What has hurt us deeply is the desecration of the Holy Communion.
“We renovated the church recently but we have never had any problem with the people of the area,” he added.
When the news of the attack spread, over 1,000 people gathered at the church in the morning.
Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore and senior police officials, including the additional commissioner of police, M.R. Pujar, and joint commissioner, Alok Kumar, rushed to the spot at 6.30 a.m.
The archbishop later told the media that he had spoken to Karnataka Home Minister V.S. Acharya over the phone and expressed his deep anxiety over another attack on a church in the city. He said the home minister, who was in New Delhi, had assured him that he would ask the police to act immediately.
The archbishop also spoke to police commissioner Shankar Bidari seeking his immediate intervention.
A dog squad, finger-print experts and several police officers were deployed at the church.
In a complaint to the police, the church authorities have stated that they suspected three men who were roaming about the area November 7 night.
Meanwhile, the police ruled out vandalism. “It must have been a thief who tried to rob cash and valuables and failed, as the church staff had already deposited the offering money in the bank.
Preliminary investigation indicates that it is a case of theft and not of vandalism,” said a police official said. Further investigation is on.
This whole post is to specify what the mass is becasue since Vatican II there has been an infiltration of protestant ideology about how and what the mass should be.
The Council of Trent taught that the Mass is the same as Calvary, "only the manner of offering being changed" from bloody to unbloody. Similarly Vatican II (On the Liturgy #10) said that the Mass is the renewal of the new covenant. Thus the mass is first and foremost a Sacrifice.
A sacrifice as Catholics understand it (in contrast to some pagan concepts) has two elements: the outward sign and the interior dispositions.
At the Last Supper, the outward sign was the seeming separation of body and blood, with the two species. This was a dramatized way of saying to the Father: "I know the command you have given me, I am to die tomorrow. Very good, I turn myself over to death - expressed by the seeming separation - I accept, I obey." On the next day He did as He pledged, but then the outward sign was the physical separation of body and blood, while the interior remained the same. In the Mass, by the agency of a human priest who acts "in the person of Christ" (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium # 10) Christ continues and repeats His offering. The external sign is multiplied as many times as there are Masses. But the interior disposition of Christ is not multiplied, it is continued from that with which He died. For death makes permanent the attitude of will with which one leaves this world.
At the Last Supper Christ ordered, "Do this in memory of me". Since we were not there, Christ wants us to join our dispositions to His. The great Liturgy Encyclical of Pius XII, Mediator Dei, explains well that the people can be said to exercise their royal priesthood, to offer the Mass with the priest: first, "from the fact that the priest at the altar in offering a sacrifice in the name of all His members, does so in the person of Christ," whose members they are.
Secondly the people can be said to offer sacrifice since: "The people join their hearts in praise, petition, expiation and thanksgiving with the prayers or intention of the priest, in fact, of the High Priest Himself, so that in the one and same of offering of the Victim... they may be presented to God the Father "(Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 39:556). Vatican II explains (LG # 10) that this is what it means for them to "offer spiritual sacrifices".
These spiritual sacrifices consist of their obedience to the will of the Father, already carried out, and planned for the future (Cf. LG #34). This includes their works, their bearing the troubles of life, their prayers, their apostolic efforts, their living out the duties of their state in life, even their relaxation of body and mind if all these things are done as part of the Father's plan, to enable them to serve Him better. Jesus Himself spent about 30 out of 33 years in family life, to show how greatly the Father values this if done precisely because it part of His plan.
It would be good to take a moment before each Mass to see what one has to join with the obedience of Christ, soon to be offered on the altar.It is good to recall too that His Mother Mary shared in this sacrifice by her obedience (cf. our comments on the Third Article of the Creed) on Calvary, and now, as John Paul II taught (Angelus Homily of Feb. 12, 1984) she "is at every altar" because "she was present at the original sacrifice", sharing in it, and now from heaven, she still joins her will to His, as He offers the flesh and blood He received from her.
The principal priest in every Mass is Jesus Christ, who offers to His heavenly Father, through the ministry of His ordained priest, His body and blood which were sacrificed on the cross. The Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross. It is now in the New Law, the sacrifice that is acceptable to God.
As we can clearly see from this the Mass is not a communal celebration it is a one to one sacrifice involving Christ who is the Priest and sacrifice, the preist who acts in the person of Christ (In persona Christi) and if present the people who also offer spiritual sacrifices.
A mass can be offered alone by the priest without any people present at all.
The priest is not the chief performer as the mass is not a performance. And the people are definitely not the most important factor for a mass to take place.
For more about what the mass is please click here
That conflict erupted after a Hindu leader was killed and fanatics blamed his death on Christians. At least 80 people died in the violence and dozens of Church properties were destroyed. Thousands fled the area.
The Indian episcopal conference's Commission for Ecumenism is proposing a remembrance day in honor of the priests, religious and laypeople who "sacrificed their lives because of their faith in Christ," the Fides news agency reported.
They are the "modern martyrs" of today's India, the commission stated.
The proposal has the agreement of all Christian confessions in India. If the proposal is approved, it will be celebrated as an ecumenical event, drawing in all Christian faithful.
Bishop Anil Couto of Jullundur, president of the Commission for Ecumenism, emphasized that martyrdom is the highest form of love.
He said that it is important to remember "all those who died in the name of the Lord Jesus."
"It is a memory we wish to confirm and continue for the benefit of the new generations," the bishop said. And he added that celebrating the martyrs in an ecumenical event reinforces Christian unity in India.
Meanwhile, delegates from an Indian Catholic youth movement are making an appeal for an end to the violence.
More than 500 young people of the group took part in a demonstration for peace, which was held in Mangalore.
The Christian community has criticized the delay of justice: Only a small percentage of those arrested for the Orissa violence have been sentenced. And those who have been released are considered a new threat to eye-witnesses of the violence.
This growth comes partly from the fact that since the earliest times the seed of the Faith has been watered by the blood of the martyrs of Vietnam – the missionary clergy, the local clergy and the ordinary Christian people. They have all shared the labour of apostolic work and have together faced death to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel. In the course of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries no less than 53 decrees, signed by the lords and emperors of the country from 1625 to 1886, launched one persecution of Christians after another, each one more savage than the last. Over the whole territory of Vietnam about 130,000 Christians were killed in these persecutions. Over the centuries the names of most of them have been lost, but their memory is still alive in the Catholic community.
Since the beginning of the 20th century 117 of these heroes (those whose sufferings were cruellest and best documented) were beatified, in four groups. They were all canonized together by Pope John Paul II on 19 June 1988.
Each one of them was a soul individually created and loved by God, with a life and gifts uniquely his or her own; but with such a huge crowd one can only classify. By nationality, there were 96 Vietnamese, 11 Spanish and 10 French. By status, there were 8 bishops, 50 priests, and 59 laymen and women. By mode of death, 75 were beheaded, 22 strangled, 6 burned alive, 5 torn to pieces while still alive, and 9 died of torture in prison.
For the life of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac click over his name for last years post.
For a history of the church of Vietnam click here
Monday, November 23, 2009
These things, beloved, we write unto you, not merely to admonish you of your duty, but also to remind ourselves. For we are struggling on the same arena, and the same conflict is assigned to both of us. Wherefore let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling. Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us. Let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world. Let us turn to every age that has passed, and learn that, from generation to generation, the Lord has granted a place of repentance to all such as would be converted unto Him. Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved. Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites; Jonah iii but they, repenting of their sins, propitiated God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens [to the covenant] of God.
The ministers of the grace of God have, by the Holy Spirit, spoken of repentance; and the Lord of all things has himself declared with an oath regarding it, "As I live, says the Lord, I desire not the death of the sinner, but rather his repentance;" Ezekiel 33:11 adding, moreover, this gracious declaration, "Repent, O house of Israel, of your iniquity." Ezekiel 18:30 Say to the children of my people, Though your sins reach from earth to heaven, and though they be redder Isaiah 1:18 than scarlet, and blacker than sack-cloth, yet if you turn to me with your whole heart, and say, Father! I will listen to you, as to a holy people. And in another place He speaks thus: "Wash you and become clean; put away the wickedness of your souls from before my eyes; cease from your evil ways, and learn to do well; seek out judgment, deliver the oppressed, judge the fatherless, and see that justice is done to the widow; and come, and let us reason together. He declares, Though your sins be like crimson, I will make them white as snow; though they be like scarlet, I will whiten them like wool. And if you be willing and obey me, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse, and will not hearken unto me, the sword shall devour you, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken these things." Isaiah 1:16-20 Desiring, therefore, that all His beloved should be partakers of repentance, He has, by His almighty will, established [these declarations].
(From New Advent)
St Clement, the son of Faustinus, a Roman by birth, was of Jewish extraction; for he tells us himself that he was of the race of Jacob. He was converted to the faith by St. Peter or St. Paul, and was so constant in his attendance on these apostles, and so active in assisting them in their ministry, that St. Jerome and other fathers call him an apostolic man; St. Clement of Alexandria styles him an apostle; and Rufinus, almost an apostle. Some authors attribute his conversion to St. Peter, whom he met at Cesarea with St. Barnabas; but he attended St. Paul at Philippi in 62, and shared in his sufferings there. We are assured by St. Chrysostom that he was a companion of the latter, with SS. Luke and Timothy, in many of his apostolic journeys, labours, and dangers. St. Paul (Phil. iv, 3) calls him his fellow-labourer, and ranks him among those whose names are written in the book of life; a privilege and matter of joy far beyond the power of commanding devils. (Luke x. 17) St. Clement followed St. Paul to Rome, where he also heard St. Peter preach, and was instructed in his school, as St. Irenaeus and Pope Zosimus testify. Tertullian tells us that St. Peter ordained him bishop, by which some understand that he made him a bishop of nations, to preach the gospel in many countries; others, with Epiphanius, that he made him his vicar at Rome, with an episcopal character to govern that church during his absence in his frequent missions. Others suppose he might at first be made bishop of the Jewish church in that city. After the martyrdom of SS. Peter and Paul, St. Linus was appointed Bishop of Rome, and after eleven years, succeeded by St. Cletus. Upon his demise in 89, or rather in 91, St. Clement was placed in the apostolic chair. According to the Liberian Calendar he sat nine years, eleven months, and twenty days.
At Corinth, an impious and detestable division, as our saint called it, happened amongst the faithful, like that which St. Paul had appeased in the same church; and a party rebelled against holy and irreproachable priests and presumed to depose them. It seems to have been soon after the death of Domitian in 96, that St. Clement, in the name of the church of Rome, wrote to them his excellent epistle, a piece highly extolled and esteemed in the primitive church as an admirable work, as Eusebius calls it. It was placed in rank next to the canonical books of the holy scriptures, and with them read in the churches. Whence it was found in the very ancient Alexandrian manuscript copy of the Bible, which Cyril Lucaris sent to our King James I, from which Patrick Young, the learned keeper of that king's library, published it at Oxford in 1633. St. Clement begins his letter by conciliating the benevolence of those who were at variance, tenderly putting them in mind how edifying their behaviour was when they were all humble-minded, not boasting of anything, desiring rather to be subject than to govern, to give than to receive, content with the portion God had dispensed to them, listening diligently to his word, having an insatiable desire of doing good, and a plentiful effusion of the Holy Ghost upon all of them. At that time they were sincere, without offence, not mindful of injuries, and all sedition and schism was an abomination to them. The saint laments that they had then forsaken the fear of the Lord, and were fallen into pride, envy, strife, and sedition; and pathetically exhorts them to lay aside all pride and anger, for Christ is theirs who are humble and not theirs who exalt themselves. The sceptre of the majesty of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, came not in the show of pride, though he could have done so; but with humility. He bids them look up to the Creator of the world, and think how gentle and patient he is towards his whole creation; also with what peace it all obeys his will, and the heavens, earth, impassable ocean, and worlds beyond it, are governed by the commends of this great master. Considering how near God is to us, and that none of our thoughts are hid from him, how ought we never to do anything contrary to his will, and honour them who are set over us! showing with a sincere affection of meekness, and manifesting the government of our tongues by a love of silence. "Let your children," says the saint, "be bred up in the instruction of the Lord, and learn how great a power humility has with God, how much a pure and holy charity avails with him, and how excellent and great his fear is."
It appears by what follows, that some at Corinth boggled at the belief of a resurrection of the flesh, which the saint beautifully shows to be easy to the Almighty power, and illustrates by the vine which sheds its leaves, then buds, spreads its leaves, flowers, and afterwards produces first sour grapes, then ripe fruit; by the morning rising from night; and corn brought forth from seed. The saint adds a strong exhortation to shake off all sluggishness and laziness, for it is only the good workman who receives the bread of his labour. "We must hasten," says he, "with all earnestness and readiness of mind, to perfect every good work, labouring with cheerfulness; for even the Creator and Lord of all things rejoices in his own works." The latter part of this epistle is a pathetic recommendation of humility, peace, and charity. "Let every one," says the saint, "be subject to another, according to the order in which he is placed by the gift of God. Let not the strong man neglect the care of the weak; let the weak see that he reverence the strong. Let the rich man distribute to the necessity of the poor, and let the poor bless God who give :h him one to supply his want. Let the wise man show forth his wisdom, not in words, but in good works. Let him that is humble, never speak of himself, or make show of his actions. Let him that is pure in the flesh, not grow proud of it, knowing that it was another who gave him the gift of continence. They who are great cannot yet subsist without those that are little; nor the little without the great. In our body, the head without the feet is nothing; neither the feet without the head. And the smallest members of our body are yet both necessary and useful to the whole." Thus the saint teaches that the lowest in the church may be the greatest before God, if they are most faithful in the discharge of their respective duties. St. Clement puts pastors and superiors in mind that, with trembling and humility, they should have nothing but the fear of God in view, and take no pleasure in their own power and authority. "Let us," says he, "pray for all such as fall into any trouble or distress; that being endued with humility and moderation, they may submit, not to us, but to the will of God." Fortunatus, who is mentioned by St. Paul, was come from the church of Corinth to Rome, to inform that holy see of their unhappy schism. St. Clement says, he had dispatched four messengers to Corinth with him, and adds, "Send them back to us again with all speed in peace and joy, that they may the sooner acquaint us with your peace and concord, so much prayed for and desired by us; and that we may rejoice in your good order."
We have a large fragment of a second epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthians, found in the same Alexandrian manuscript of the Bible; from which circumstance it appears to have been also read like the former in many churches, which St. Dionysius of Corinth expressly testifies of that church, though it was not so celebrated among the ancients as the other. In it our saint exhorts the faithful to despise this world and its false enjoyments, and to have those which are promised us always before our eyes; to pursue virtue with all our strength, and its peace will follow us with the inexpressible delights of the promise of what is to come. The necessity of perfectly subduing both the irascible and concupiscible passions of our souls, he lays down as the foundation of a Christian life, in words which St. Clement of Alexandria enforces and illustrates. Besides these letters of St. Clement to the Corinthians, two others have been lately discovered, which are addressed to spiritual eunuchs or virgins. Of these St. Jerome speaks, when he says of certain epistles of St. Clement, "In the epistles which Clement, the successor of the Apostle Peter, wrote to them, that is, to such eunuchs, almost his whole discourse turns upon the excellence of virginity." These two letters were found in a manuscript copy of a Syriac New Testament, by John James Westein, in 1752, and printed by him with a Latin translation at Amsterdam in 1752, and again in 1757. A French translation of them has been published, with short critical notes. These letters are not unworthy this great disciple of St. Peter; and in them the counsels of St. Paul concerning celibacy and virginity are explained, that state is pathetically recommended, without prejudice to the honour due to the holy state of marriage; and the necessity of shunning all familiarity with persons of a different sex, and the like occasions of incontinence is set in a true light.
St. Clement with patience and prudence got through the persecution of Domitian. Nerva's peaceable reign being very short, the tempest increased under Trajan, who, even from the beginning of his reign, never allowed the Christian assemblies. It was in the year 100 that the third general persecution was raised by him, which was the more afflicting, as this reign was in other respects generally famed for justice and moderation. Rufin, Pope Zosimus, and the council of Bazas in 452, expressly styles St. Clement a martyr. In the ancient canon of the Roman mass, he is ranked among the martyrs. Eusebius tells us, that St. Clement departed this life in the third year of Trajan, of Christ 100. From this expression some will have it that he died a natural death; but St. Clement says of St. Paul, who certainly died a martyr, that "he departed out of the world." It is also objected, that St. Irenaeus gives the title of martyr only to St. Telesphorus among the popes before St. Eleutherius. But it is certain that some others were martyrs, whatever was the cause of his omission. St. Irenaeus mentions the epistle of St. Clement yet omits those of St. Ignatius, though in some places he quotes him. Shall we hence argue, that St. Ignatius wrote none? When the Emperor Lewis Debonnair founded the great abbey of Cava, in Abruzzo, four miles from Slaerno, in 872, he enriched it with the relics of St. Clement, pope and martyr, which Pope Adrian sent him, as is related at length in the chronicle of that abbey, with a history of many miracles. These relics remain there to this day. The ancient Church of St. Clement in Rome, in which St. Gregory the Great preached several of his homilies, still retains part of his relics. It was repaired by Clement XI, but still shows entire the old structure of Christian churches, divided into three parts: the narthex, the ambo, and the sanctuary.
St. Clement inculcates, that the spirit of Christianity is a spirit of perfect disengagement from the things of this world. "We must," says he, "look upon all the things of this world, as none of ours, and not desire them. This world and that to come are two enemies. We cannot, therefore, be friends to both; but we must resolve which we would forsake, and which we would enjoy. And we think, that it is better to hate the present things, as little, short-lived, and corruptible; and to love those which are to come, which are truly good and incorruptible. Let us contend with all earnestness, knowing that we are now called to the combat. Let us run in the straight road, the race that is incorruptible. This is what Christ saith: keep your bodies pure and your souls without spot, that ye may receive eternal life."
Sunday, November 22, 2009
We remember saying that these manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics: and we said further, that as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ
It has long been a common custom to give to Christ the metaphorical title of "King," because of the high degree of perfection whereby he excels all creatures. So he is said to reign "in the hearts of men," both by reason of the keenness of his intellect and the extent of his knowledge, and also because he is very truth, and it is from him that truth must be obediently received by all mankind. He reigns, too, in the wills of men, for in him the human will was perfectly and entirely obedient to the Holy Will of God, and further by his grace and inspiration he so subjects our free-will as to incite us to the most noble endeavors. He is King of hearts, too, by reason of his "charity which exceedeth all knowledge." And his mercy and kindness which draw all men to him, for never has it been known, nor will it ever be, that man be loved so much and so universally as Jesus Christ. But if we ponder this matter more deeply, we cannot but see that the title and the power of King belongs to Christ as man in the strict and proper sense too. For it is only as man that he may be said to have received from the Father "power and glory and a kingdom," since the Word of God, as consubstantial with the Father, has all things in common with him, and therefore has necessarily supreme and absolute dominion over all things created.
This kingdom is spiritual and is concerned with spiritual things. This kingdom is opposed to none other than to that of Satan and to the power of darkness. It demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness. They must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this, they must deny themselves and carry the cross.
It would be a grave error, on the other hand, to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since, by virtue of the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all things are in his power. Nevertheless, during his life on earth he refrained from the exercise of such authority.
When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.
For the rest of the Encyclical click here
Thy Kingdom Come
(From the Office of Readings)