New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Monday, December 12, 2011

Joy in Times of Difficulty Because God Is with Us - Pope Benedict XVI

At 9 a.m. today, Benedict XVI travelled to the parish of "Santa Maria delle Grazie" at Casal Boccone, in the northern sector of the diocese of Rome. There, in the courtyard of the parish complex which were inaugurated last year, he was greeted with dances and songs by children from the local primary school. The Holy Father expressed his thanks for the welcome and pronounced some off-the-cuff remarks. "I wish everyone a happy Sunday. We know that Christmas is approaching so let us prepare ourselves, not just with gifts but with our hearts. Let us think that Christ the Lord is close to us, that He enters our lives and brings us light and joy. 'Pray incessantly' says St. Paul today in his Letter to the Thessalonians. ... What this means is that we must not lose contact with God in our hearts. If such contact exists then we have a reason to be joyful. To all of you I wish the joy of Christmas, the presence of the Baby Jesus Who is the God of our hearts". Mass began at 9.30 a.m. with a greeting delivered by the parish priest, Fr. Domenico Monteforte. Excerpts from Benedict XVI's homily are given below: "Advent is a time of waiting, hope and preparation for the visit of the Lord. As we heard in the Gospel reading, the person and preaching of John the Baptist invite us to take up this commitment". John the Baptist "is the precursor, a mere witness, entirely subject to the One Whom he announces. He is voice in the desert, just as today, in the desert of the great cities of this world, in the great absence of God, we need voices which tell us simply that God exists, that He is always close even when He seems distant". John the Baptist "is a witness of the light. This fact touches our hearts, because in a world so full of shadows and darkness, we are all called to be witnesses of the light. This is the mission of Advent: being witness of the light, and we can do this only if we carry the light within us. ... In the Church, in the Word of God, in the celebration of the Sacraments, in the Sacrament of Confession and the forgiveness we receive, in the Eucharist where the Lord gives Himself into our hands and hearts, in of all this we touch the light and receive our mission: the mission of bearing witness to the fact that the light exists, of bringing that light into our world". "This 'Gaudete' Sunday is the Sunday of joy. It tells us that, even amidst our doubts and difficulties, joy exists because God exists and He is with us". "Looking at this church and the parish buildings, I see the fruits of patience, dedication and love. At the same time, by my presence here, I wish to encourage you also to raise that Church of living stones, which you yourselves represent. Each of you should feel yourselves to be an element of this living structure. A community is constructed with the contribution each person makes, with the commitment of everyone. I am thinking in particular of the field of catechesis, the liturgy and charity, the columns which support Christian life". "I also wish to draw your attention to the importance and the central role of the Eucharist. May the Mass be the focus of your Sunday, which must be rediscovered and lived as the day of the Lord and of the community, a day on which to praise and celebrate the One Who was born for us, Who died and rose again for our salvation, and Who asks us to live together joyfully, to be a community open and ready to welcome anyone who is alone and in difficulty. Do not lose your understanding of the significance of Sundays, and remain faithful to your appointment with the Eucharist. Early Christians were ready to give their lives for this". "Another point I would like to raise is that of the witness of charity, which must characterise your life as a community. Over recent years you have seen a rapid growth in numbers, but you have also witnessed the arrival of many people in situations of difficulty and want. These people need you, they need your material aid but also and above all of your witness as believers. Ensure that your community always remains a concrete expression of the love of God Who is rich in mercy, and that it invites people to approach Him with trust". Following the Mass, the Pope held a brief meeting with the members of the parish council. Before returning to the Vatican for the Angelus prayer, he addressed some remarks to faithful waiting outside the church to bid him farewell. "Thank you for your presence and the warmth of your welcome", he said. "Your beautiful, open and heartfelt cordiality reminded me of my visit to Africa. It is a great joy to me to see how, ... in this new parish, people actively participate in the Eucharist and prepare for Christmas. "Today, preparing for Christmas is very difficult", the Holy Father added. "I know that people have many commitments, but getting ready for Christmas does not only mean shopping and making preparations, it means being in contact with the Lord, going out to meet Him. I feel it is important not to forget this dimension. ... This is not an additional burden, but the power that enables us to do all we need to do. I hope you maintain permanent contact with Jesus, that His joy and strength might help you to live in this world".

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pope Pius VI repeatedly condemned the false concept of liberty and equality of the French Revolution

Pius VI repeatedly condemned the false concept of liberty and equality. In the Secret Consistory of June 17, 1793, quoting the words of the encyclical Inscrutabilie Divinae Sapientiae of December 25, 1775, he declared:

“‘The most perfidious philosophers go farther. They dissolve all those bonds by which human beings are joined to one another and to their rulers and by which they are maintained in their sense of duty; they keep screaming and proclaiming to the point of nausea that human beings are born free and not subject to the rule of anyone, and that society is therefore a multitude of foolish human beings whose stupidity prostates them before priests, by whom they are deceived, and before kings, by whom they are oppressed; to such a point that concord between the priesthood and the empire is nothing other than a giant conspiracy against man’s innate liberty.’

“To this false and mendacious name of liberty, those vaunted patrons of the human race have added the equally deceptive name of equality, as if among human beings who have come together in civil society, although they are subject to various emotions and follow diverse and uncertain impulses according to their individual whims, there ought not be one who by means of authority and force might prevail upon, oblige, moderate, and recall them from their perverse ways of acting to a sense of duty, lest society itself, from the reckless and contrary impetus of many desires, should fall into anarchy and be utterly dissolved. It is like harmony, which derives from the agreement of many sounds and which, if it does not consist of a suitable combination of strings and voices, disintegrates into a disturbed and clearly dissonant clatter.” (Pii VI Pont. Max. Acta [Rome: Typis S. Congreg. De Propaganda Fide, 1871], Vol. 2, pp. 26-27.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Human History Is a History of Salvation - Pope Benedict XVI

During his general audience this morning the Holy Father dedicated his catechesis to Psalm 126 which, he said, "celebrates the great things which the Lord has done for His people, and which He continues to do for all believers".


The Psalm "speaks of 'restored fortunes'", the Pope explained, "in other words, fortunes restored to their original state". This was the experience of the People of Israel when they returned to their homeland after the Babylonian exile, which had been such a devastating experience not only in political and social terms but also from a religious and spiritual point of view.


"Divine intervention often takes unexpected forms which go beyond what man might expect. ... God works marvels in the history of mankind. ... He reveals Himself as the powerful and merciful Lord, the refuge of the oppressed Who does not ignore the cry of the poor. ... Thus, with the liberation of the People of Israel, everyone recognises the great and wondrous things God has done for His People and celebrates the Lord as Saviour".


However, the Holy Father went on, "the Psalm goes beyond the purely historical and opens to a broader, theological dimension". It uses images which "allude to the mysterious truth of redemption, in which the gift we have received and the gift we await, life and death, intertwine".


The watercourses of the Neg'eb symbolise divine intervention which, like water, "is capable of transforming the desert into a vast expanse of green grass and flowers", the Pope explained. Later the Psalm also uses the image of peasants cultivating their fields "to speak of salvation. The reference here is to the annual cycle of agriculture: the difficult and arduous time of sowing then the overriding joy of the harvest. ... The seed sprouts and grows".


"This is the hidden mystery of life, these are the 'great and wondrous things of salvation which the Lord achieves in the history of mankind, but the secret of which is unknown to man. Divine intervention, when fully expressed, has an overpowering dimension, like the watercourses of the Neg'eb and the grain in the fields. This latter image also evokes the disproportion typical of the things of God: disproportion between the fatigue of sowing and the immense joy of the harvest".


"The Psalmist refers to all these things to speak of salvation. ... The deportation to Babylon, like other situations of suffering and crisis, ... with its doubts and the apparent distance from God is, in reality, ... like a seedbed. In the mystery of Christ and in the light of the New Testament, the message becomes even clearer and more explicit: the believer who passes through the darkness is like the seed of grain that falls to earth and dies, but brings forth much fruit".


"This Psalm teaches us that ... we must remain hopeful and firm in our faith in God. Our history, though often marked by suffering, uncertainty and moments of crisis, is a history of salvation and 'restoration of fortunes'. In Jesus our exile ends: ... in the mystery of His cross, in death transformed into life, like the seed which splits in the earth and becomes an ear of wheat".

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Sacraments and Christian prayer - Bl. Pope John Paul II

Instituted by the Saviour, Baptism is the first of the Sacraments; it abolishes 'original sin' and restores 'sanctifying grace' to the soul, introducing those who receive it into the trinitarian life of God and making them 'adoptive children' of the Father, brothers and sisters of Jesus, full members of the Christian Church - the Mystical body of Christ - and heirs to the eternal joys of Paradise.  To be born means entering into a specific divine plan: no one comes into the world by accident; on the contrary, everyone has a particular mission to perform, which, of course, we cannot know all about from the start but which will be made completely clear to us one day. So let us be guided by our awareness of being instruments of a God who has created us out of love and wishes to be repaid with love by us.
The sacrament of Confirmation is, as it were, a completing of Baptism, the stage of maturity on the journey to full admittance into the mystery of Christ and to responsible acceptance of one's vocation in the Church. To understand the meaning of this sacrament, we need first of all to reflect on the function of all the Sacraments.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Excerpts from 'The Joy of Loving' by Bl. Teresa of Calcutta

'Let us not be afraid to be humble, small, helpless to prove our love for God. The cup of water you give the sick, the way you lift a dying man, the way you feed a baby, the way you teach a dull child, the way you give medicine to a sufferer of leprosy, the joy with which you smile at your own at home - all this is GOd's love in the world today.'

' In Minneapolis, a woman in wheelchair, suffering continuos convulsions from cerebral palsy asked me what people like her could do for others. I told her: You can do the most. You can do more than any of us because your suffering is united with the suffering of Christ on the Cross and it brings strength to all of us. There is a tremendous strength that is growing in the world through this continual sharing, praying together, suffering together and working together.'

'There are sick and crippled people who cannot do anything to share in the work. So they adopt a Sister or a Brother, who then involves the sick co-worker fully in whatever he or she does. The two become like one person, and they call each other their second self. I have a second self in Belgium, and when I was last there, she said to me, 'I am sure you are going to have a heavy time, with all the walking and working and talking. I know this from the pain I have in my spine.' That was just before her seventeenth operation. Each time I have something special to do, it is she behind me that gives me all the strength and courage to do it.'

'God dwells in us. It doesn't matter where you are as long as you are clean of heart. Clean of heart means openness, that complete freedom, that detachment that allows you to love GOd without hindrance, without obstacles. When sin comes into our lives that is a personal obstacle between us and GOd. Sin is nothing but slavery.'

' To doctors: Have you experienced the joy of loving? You can do that as doctors. YOU have a beautiful opportunity when the sick come to you with great trust and confidence not only to receive a few tablets from you but to receive your tender love and care and especially when you have to make a sacrifice to look after the poor. Jesus said: 'Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.'

'There is much suffering in the world - physical, material, mental. The suffering of some can be blamed on the greed of others. The material and physical suffering is suffering from hunger, from homelessness, from all kinds of diseases. But the greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, having no one. I have come more and more to realize that it is being unwanted that is the worse disease that any human being can ever experience.'

'To teachers: Do not neglect the weaker children. Consider the problems of the slow-witted, the dropouts - what will they become in society, if you do not look after them? Among the poor we have the rich poor - children who are better gifted. The rich poor child can still have a place but it is the child who is so dull, stupid, hungry that I must work for.'

'Let us beg form Our Lady to make our hearts 'meek and humble' like her Son's was. We learn humility through accepting humiliations cheerfully. Do not let a chance pass you by. It is so easy to be proud, harsh, moody and selfish, but we have been created for greater things. Why stoop down to things that will spoil the beauty of our hearts?'

Monday, November 7, 2011

Never Surrender to the Lure of Pessimism - Pope Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI today made a pastoral visit to Lamezia Terme and Serra San Bruno, located in the region of Calabria in southern Italy. He began the day by travelling by plane from Ciampino airport in Rome to Lamezia Terme where he celebrated Mass at an industrial area on the outskirts of the town.


"In this Sunday's liturgy we heard the parable narrating the wedding feast to which many guests were invited", said the Holy Father in his homily. "The image of a banquet is often used in Scripture to indicate joy in communion and in the abundance of the Lord's gifts. ... Many people were invited, but something unexpected happened: they refused to participate in the feast, they had other things to do". However this did not deter the king who was organising the feast. "He was not discouraged but sent his servants out to invite others. The refusal of the first invitees had the effect of extending the invitation to everyone, including the poor, the abandoned and the disinherited. ... However there was a condition to attending this wedding feast: guests had to wear the wedding robe. Entering the hall, the king realised that someone had chosen not to wear it and, for this reason, that guest was excluded from the feast".


To explain the significance of the "wedding robe", the Holy Father quoted from a commentary written by St. Gregory the Great. "In a certain sense, the guest who responded to God's invitation to participate in His banquet had faith, which opened the door of the hall to him, but he lacked something essential: the wedding robe, which is charity, love. ... In symbolic terms the robe is woven with two threads: ... love of God and love of neighbour. We are all invited to be guests of the Lord, to enter with faith into His banquet, but we must wear and preserve the wedding robe, which is charity, we must live with profound love for God and for neighbour".


"I have come to share with you the joys and hopes, the toils and commitments, the ideals and aspirations of this diocesan community", Benedict XVI told the faithful. "This beautiful region is seismic not only in a geological sense, but also in structural, behavioural and social terms. It is a land where problems are acute and destabilising, a land where unemployment is a great concern, where an often pitiless criminality damages the fabric of society, a land which seems to be in a perpetual state of emergency. To that emergency you people of Calabria have responded with surprising readiness, with an extraordinary capacity to adapt to difficulties. ... Never surrender to the lure of pessimism, never close in on yourselves. Draw on the resources of your faith and your human capacities; strive to increase collaboration, to look after one another and the public good; preserve the wedding robe of love".


The Pope then went on to recall that his visit coincided with the end of the five-year pastoral plan of the local Church. He praised the initiatives that had been completed during that time, including a school for the Social Doctrine of the Church, expressing the hope that "such initiatives will produce a new generation of men and women capable of promoting the common good more than private interests". He also had words of encouragement for clergy and lay people who work to prepare Christian couples for marriage and the family "providing a response that is both evangelical and effective to the many challenges facing the family and life today".



Finally, the Holy Father praised priests for the work they do, encouraging them "increasingly to root your own spiritual lives in the Gospel, ... detaching yourselves from the worldly consumer mentality which is such a recurring temptation in the times in which we live. ... Use discernment and ecclesiastical criteria to evaluate groups and movements", he said.


"Do not be afraid to live and bear witness to the faith in the various fields of society, in the multifarious situations of human life", he concluded, addressing the faithful. "Thanks to the light of faith and the force of charity, you have every reason to be strong, trusting and courageous".

Sunday, November 6, 2011

St. Hubert - Patron of the Hunt

Confessor, thirty-first Bishop of Maastricht, first Bishop of Liège, and Apostle of the Ardennes, born about 656; died at Fura (the modern Tervueren), Brabant, 30 May, 727 or 728. He was honored in the Middle Ages as the patron of huntsmen, and the healer of hydrophobia (rabies). He was the eldest son of Bertrand, Duke of Aquitaine, and grandson of Charibert, King of Toulouse, a descendant of the great Pharamond. Bertrand’s wife is variously given as Hugbern, and as Afre, sister of Saint Oda. As a youth, Hubert went to the court of Neustria, where his charming manners and agreeable address won universal esteem, gave him a prominent position among the gay courtiers, and led to his investment with the dignity of “count of the palace”. He was a worldling and a lover of pleasure, his chief passion being for the chase, to which pursuit he devoted nearly all his time.


The tyrannical conduct of Ebroin caused a general emigration of the nobles and others to the court of Austrasia. Hubert soon followed them and was warmly welcomed by Pepin Heristal, mayor of the palace, who created him almost immediately grand-master of the household. About this time (682) he married Floribanne, daughter of Dagobert, Count of Louvain, and seemed to have given himself entirely up to the ponp and vanities of this world. But a great spiritual revolution was imminent. On Good Friday morn, when the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubert sallied forth to the chase. As he was pursuing a magnificent stag, the animal turned and, as the pious legend narrates, he was astounded at perceiving a crucifix between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying: “Hubert, unless thou turnest to the Lord, and leadest an holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into hell”. Hubert dismounted, prostrated himself and said, “Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?” He received the answer, “Go and seek Lambert, and he will instruct you.”


Accordingly, he set out immediately for Maastricht, of which place St. Lambert was then bishop. The latter received Hubert kindly, and became his spiritual director. Hubert, losing his wife shortly after this, renounced all his honors and his military rank, and gave up his birthright to the Duchy of Aquitaine to his younger brother Eudon, whom he made guardian of his infant son, Floribert. Having distributed all his personal wealth among the poor, he entered upon his studies for the priesthood, was soon ordained, and shortly afterwards became one of St. Lambert’s chief associates in the administration of his diocese.


By the advice of St. Lambert, Hubert made a pilgrimage to Rome and during his absence, the saint was assassinated by the followers of Pepin. At the same hour, this was revealed to the pope in a vision, together with an injunction to appoint Hubert bishop, as being a worthy successor to the see. Hubert was so much possessed with the idea of himself winning the martyr’s crown that he sought it on many occasions, but unsuccessfully.


He distributed his episcopal revenues among the poor, was diligent in fasting and prayer, and became famous for his eloquence in the pulpit. In 720, in obedience to a vision, Hubert translated St. Lambert’s remains from Maastrict to Liège with great pomp and ceremonial, several neighboring bishops assisting. A church for the relics was built upon the site of the martyrdom, and was made a cathedral the following year, the see being removed from Maastricht to Liege, then only a small village. This laid the foundation of the future greatness of Liege, of which Lambert is honored as patron, and St. Hubert as founder and first bishop.


Idolatry still lingered in the fastnesses of the forest of Ardennes—in Toxandria, a district stretching from near Tongres to the confluence of the Waal and the Rhine, and in Brabant. At the risk of his life Hubert penetrated the remote lurking places of paganism in his pursuit of souls, and finally brought about the abolishment of the worship of idols in his neighborhood. Between Brussels and Louvain, about twelve leagues from Liège, lies a town called Tervueren, formerly known as Fura. Hither Hubert went for the dedication of a new church. Being apprised of his impending death by a vision, he there preached his valedictory sermon, fell sick almost immediately, and in six days died with the words “Our Father, who art in Heaven . . . ” on his lips. His body was deposited in the collegiate church of St. Peter, Liège. It was solemnly translated in 825 to the Abbey of Amdain (since called St. Hubert’s) near what is now the Luxemburg frontier; but the coffin disappeared in the sixteenth century. Very many miracles are recorded of him in the Acta SS., etc. His feast is kept on 3 November, which was probably the date of the translation. St. Hubert was widely venerated in the Middle Ages, and many military orders were named after him.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Minimalist Does Not Love - St Peter Julian Eymard

Our Lord wants us to have a passionate love for Him. No virtue or thought that does not become a passion will ever produce anything great. Love triumphs only when it becomes a vital passion. Otherwise, isolated acts of love can be produced, but one’s whole existence is neither conquered nor offered. For our love to become
a passion it must abide by the laws of human passions. I speak of decent, naturally good passions, since passions are indifferent in themselves. We make them evil when we direct them towards evil; it is up to us to use them for the good.
A dominant passion concentrates a man’s efforts and  makes him work exclusively to attain his goal no matter
what happens. Also, in the order of salvation, we need to have a passion that dominates our life and makes it produce for the glory of God all the fruits the Lord expects. Love a virtue, truth or mystery with a passion! Dedicate your life, thoughts and  labors to it or you will never achieve anything. Look at the saints. Their burning love carries them away, makes them suffer, spends their strength, and causes their death. Exaggerated? What is love if not an exaggeration? To exaggerate is to surpass the law. He who only fulfills his obligation does not love. Let us love our good Savior for His own sake! Let us forget ourselves and immolate ourselves a little! Look at how candles are consumed, leaving nothing for themselves!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Economic Crisis and the Social Doctrine of the Church

"Over the last 120 years, during which the social doctrine of the Church has developed, many great changes have taken place which were not even imaginable at the time of Leo XIII's historic Encyclical 'Rerum novarum'. Nonetheless, the alteration in external circumstances has not changed the inner richness of the social Magisterium, which always promotes human beings and the family in their life context, including that of business".


These words were addressed by the Pope this morning to participants in the annual congress of the "Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice" foundation, who are focusing their reflections on the relationship between families and business. The 2011 congress coincides with the twentieth anniversary of John Paul II's Encyclical "Centesimus annus" (published 100 years after "Rerum novarum"), and with the thirtieth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio".



"Vatican Council II spoke of families as a 'domestic Church', an inviolable sanctuary", said the Pope, "and economic laws must always take account of the interests and the protection of this fundamental cell of society". He then went on to recall how John Paul II, in his "Familiaris consortio", identified four tasks for the family: forming a community of persons; serving life; participating in the development of society, and sharing in the life and mission of the Church. "All four of these functions are founded on love, which is the goal of all education and formation in the family. ... It is first and foremost in the family that we learn that, in order to live well in society (including the world of work, economy and business), we must be guided by 'caritas', following a logic of gratuitousness, solidarity and mutual responsibility".


"In our own difficult times we are unfortunately witnessing a crisis in work and the economy which is associated with a crisis in families. ... What we need, therefore, is a new and harmonious relationship between family and work, to which the social doctrine of the Church can make an important contribution". In this context, the Pope referred to his own Encyclical "Caritas in veritate" saying that :"Commutative justice - 'giving in order to acquire' - and distributive justice - 'giving through duty' - are not sufficient in the life of society. In order for true justice to exist, it is necessary to add gratuitousness and solidarity. 'Solidarity is first and foremost a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone with regard to everyone, and it cannot therefore be merely delegated to the State'".


"Charity in truth, in this case, requires that shape and structure be given to those types of economic initiative which, without rejecting profit, aim at a higher goal than the mere logic of the exchange of equivalents, of profit as an end in itself", said Benedict XVI.



"It is not the task of the Church to find ways to face the current crisis", he concluded. "Nonetheless, Christians have the duty to denounce evils, and to foment and bear witness to the values upon which the dignity of the person is founded, promoting forms of solidarity which favour the common good, so that humankind may increasingly become the family of God".

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Truth Seekers vs. Open-Minded Cowards - By Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

The open mind is commendable when it is like a road that leads to a city, but the open mind is condemnable when it is like an abyss.

Those who boast of their open-mindedness are invariably those who love to search for truth but not to find it; they love the chase but not the capture; they admire the footprints of truth, but not catching up with it. They go through life talking about “widening the horizons of truth” without ever seeing the sun. Truth brings with it grave responsibilities; that is why so many keep their hands open to welcome it but never close them to grasp it.

The real thinker who is willing to embrace a truth at all costs generally has a double price to pay—first, isolation from popular opinion. For example, anyone who arrives at the moral conclusion that divorce prepares the way for civilization’s breakdown must be prepared to be ostracized by the Herods and Salomes of this world.

Nonconformity with popular opinion can be expected to bring down opposition and ridicule upon the offender’s head.

Second, those who discover a truth must stand naked before the uplifted stroke of its duties or else take up the cross that it imposes.  Those two effects of embracing truth make many people fearful.  In their cowardice, they keep their minds “open” so they will never have to close on anything that would entail responsibility, duty, moral correction or altered behavior.

The “open mind” does not want truth for truth implies obligation, which predicates responsibility, and responsibility is the only thing the “open mind” is most eager to avoid.  Avoiding responsibility only results in the abdication of one’s free will to another, whether it be to an ideology or to a director. The only real solution is for those with “open minds” to grasp truth, even though it does involve a change in behavior, for ultimately it is only truth that can make them free.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Best of Prayers - By Pope Leo XIII

In Mary, God has given us the most zealous guardian of Christian unity. There are, of course, more ways than one to win her protection by prayer, but as for us, We think the best and most effective way to her favor lies in the Rosary.
. . . When such faith is exercised by vocally repeating the Our Father and Hail Mary of the Rosary prayers, or better still in the contemplation of the mysteries, it is evident how close we are brought to Mary. For every time we devoutly say the Rosary in supplication before her, we are once more brought face to face with the marvel of our salvation; we watch the mysteries of our redemption as though they were unfolding before our eyes; and as one follows another, Mary stands revealed at once as God's Mother and our Mother.
. . . Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, often repeated in the spirit of faith, cannot help but please her and move her, the fondest of mothers, to show mercy to her children.
For that reason We say that the Rosary is by far the best prayer by which to plead before her the cause of our separated brethren. To grant a favorable hearing belongs properly to her office of spiritual Mother. For Mary has not brought forth -- nor could she -- those who are of Christ except in the one same Faith and in the one same love; for "Can Christ be divided?

St. Bruno

Confessor, ecclesiastical writer, and founder of the Carthusian Order. He was born at Cologne about the year 1030; died 6 October, 1101. He is usually represented with a death’s head in his hands, a book and a cross, or crowned with seven stars; or with a roll bearing the device O Bonitas. His feast is kept on the 6th of October.

According to tradition, St. Bruno belonged to the family of Hartenfaust, or Hardebüst, one of the principal families of the city, and it is in remembrance of this origin that different members of the family of Hartenfaust have received from the Carthusians either some special prayers for the dead, as in the case of Peter Bruno Hartenfaust in 1714, and Louis Alexander Hartenfaust, Baron of Laach, in 1740; or a personal affiliation with the order, as with Louis Bruno of Hardevüst, Baron of Laach and Burgomaster of the town of Bergues-S. Winnoc, in the Diocese of Cambrai, with whom the Hardevüst family in the male line became extinct on 22 March, 1784.

We have little information about the childhood and youth of St. Bruno. Born at Cologne, he would have studied at the city college, or collegial of St. Cunibert. While still quite young (a pueris) he went to complete his education at Reims, attracted by the reputation of the episcopal school and of its director, Heriman. There he finished his classical studies and perfected himself in the sacred sciences which at that time consisted principally of the study of Holy Scriptures and of the Fathers. He became there, according to the testimony of his contemporaries, learned both in human and in Divine science. His education completed, St. Bruno returned to Cologne, where he was provided with a canonry at St. Cunibert’s, and, according to the most probable opinion, was elevated to the priestly dignity. This was about the year 1055. In 1056 Bishop Gervais recalled him to Reims, to aid his former master Heriman in the direction of the school. The latter was already turning his attention towards a more perfect form of life, and when he at last left the world to enter the religious life, in 1057, St. Bruno found himself head of the episcopal school, or écolâtre, a post difficult as it was elevated, for it then included the direction of the public schools and the oversight of all the educational establishments of the diocese. For about twenty years, from 1057 to 1075, he maintained the prestige which the school of Reims has attained under its former masters, Remi of Auxerre, Hucbald of St. Amand, Gerbert, and lastly Heriman. Of the excellence of his teaching we have a proof in the funereal titles composed in his honour, which celebrate his eloquence, his poetic, philosophical, and above all his exegetical and theological, talents; and also in the merits of his pupils, amongst whom were Eudes of Châtillon, afterwards Urban II, Rangier, Cardinal and Bishop of Reggio, Robert, Bishop of Langres, and a large number of prelates and abbots.

In 1075 St. Bruno was appointed chancellor of the church of Reims, and had then to give himself especially to the administration of the diocese. Meanwhile the pious Bishop Gervais, friend of St. Bruno, had been succeeded by Manasses de Gournai, who quickly became odious for his impiety and violence. The chancellor and two other canons were commissioned to bear to the papal legate, Hugh of Die, the complaints of the indignant clergy, and at the Council of Autun, 1077, they obtained the suspension of the unworthy prelate. The latter’s reply was to raze the houses of his accusers, confiscate their goods, sell their benefices, and appeal to the pope. Bruno then absented himself from Reims for a while, and went probably to Rome to defend the justice of his cause. It was only in 1080 that a definite sentence, confirmed by a rising of the people, compelled Manasses to withdraw and take refuge with the Emperor Henry IV. Free then to choose another bishop, the clergy were on the point of uniting their vote upon the chancellor. He, however, had far different designs in view. According to a tradition preserved in the Carthusian Order, Bruno was persuaded to abandon the world by the sight of a celebrated prodigy, popularized by the brush of Lesueur—the triple resurrection of the Parisian doctor, Raymond Diocres. To this tradition may be opposed the silence of contemporaries, and of the first biographers of the saint; the silence of Bruno himself in his letter to Raoul le Vert, Provost of Reims; and the impossibility of proving that he ever visited Paris. He had no need of such an extraordinary argument to cause him to leave the world. Some time before, when in conversation with two of his friends, Raoul and Fulcius, canons of Reims like himself, they had been so enkindled with the love of God and the desire of eternal goods that they had made a vow to abandon the world and to embrace the religious life. This vow, uttered in 1077, could not be put into execution until 1080, owing to various circumstances.

The first idea of St. Bruno on leaving Reims seems to have been to place himself and his companions under the direction of an eminent solitary, St. Robert, who had recently (1075) settled at Molesme in the Diocese of Langres, together with a band of other solitaries who were later on (1098) to form the Cistercian Order. But he soon found that this was not his vocation, and after a short sojourn at Sèche-Fontaine near Molesme, he left two of his companions, Peter and Lambert, and betook himself with six others to Hugh of Châteauneuf, Bishop of Grenoble, and, according to some authors, one of his pupils. The bishop, to whom God had shown these men in a dream, under the image of seven stars, conducted and installed them himself (1084) in a wild spot on the Alps of Dauphiné named Chartreuse, about four leagues from Grenoble, in the midst of precipitous rocks and mountains almost always covered with snow. With St. Bruno were Landuin, the two Stephens of Bourg and Die, canons of St. Rufus, and Hugh the Chaplain, “all, the most learned men of their time”, and two laymen, Andrew and Guerin, who afterwards became the first lay brothers. They built a little monastery where they lived in deep retreat and poverty, entirely occupied in prayer and study, and frequently honoured by the visits of St. Hugh who became like one of themselves. Their manner of life has been recorded by a contemporary, Guibert of Nogent, who visited them in their solitude. (De Vitâ suâ, I, ii.)

Meanwhile, another pupil of St. Bruno, Eudes of Châtillon, had become pope under the name of Urban II (1088). Resolved to continue the work of reform commenced by Gregory VII, and being obliged to struggle against the antipope, Guibert of Ravenna, and the Emperor Henry IV, he sought to surround himself with devoted allies and called his ancient master ad Sedis Apostolicae servitium. Thus the solitary found himself obliged to leave the spot where he had spent more than six years in retreat, followed by a part of his community, who could not make up their minds to live separated from him (1090). It is difficult to assign the place which he then occupied at the pontifical court, or his influence in contemporary events, which was entirely hidden and confidential. Lodged in the palace of the pope himself and admitted to his councils, and charged, moreover, with other collaborators, in preparing matters for the numerous councils of this period, we must give him some credit for their results. But he took care always to keep himself in the background, and although he seems to have assisted at the Council of Benevento (March, 1091), we find no evidence of his having been present at the Councils of Troja (March, 1093), of Piacenza (March, 1095), or of Clermont (November, 1095). His part in history is effaced. All that we can say with certainty is that he seconded with all his power the sovereign pontiff in his efforts for the reform of the clergy, efforts inaugurated at the Council of Melfi (1089) and continued at that of Benevento. A short time after the arrival of St. Bruno, the pope had been obliged to abandon Rome before the victorious forces of the emperor and the antipope. He withdrew with all his court to the south of Italy.

During the voyage, the former professor of Reims attracted the attention of the clergy of Reggio in further Calabria, which had just lost its archbishop Arnulph (1090), and their votes were given to him. The pope and the Norman prince, Roger, Duke of Apulia, strongly approved of the election and pressed St. Bruno to accept it. In a similar juncture at Reims he had escaped by flight; this time he again escaped by causing Rangier, one of his former pupils, to be elected, who was fortunately near by at the Benedictine Abbey of La Cava near Salerno. But he feared that such attempts would be renewed; moreover he was weary of the agitated life imposed upon him, and solitude ever invited him. He begged, therefore, and after much trouble obtained, the pope’s permission to return again to his solitary life. His intention was to rejoin his brethren in Dauphiné, as a letter addressed to them makes clear. But the will of Urban II kept him in Italy, near the papal court, to which he could be called at need. The place chosen for his new retreat by St. Bruno and some followers who had joined him was in the Diocese of Squillace, on the eastern slope of the great chain which crosses Calabria from north to south, and in a high valley three miles long and two in width, covered with forest. The new solitaries constructed a little chapel of planks for their pious reunions and, in the depths of the woods, cabins covered with mud for their habitations. A legend says that St. Bruno whilst at prayer was discovered by the hounds of Roger, Great Count of Sicily and Calabria and uncle of the Duke of Apulia, who was then hunting in the neighbourhood, and who thus learnt to know and venerate him; but the count had no need to wait for that occasion to know him, for it was probably upon his invitation that the new solitaries settled upon his domains. That same year (1091) he visited them, made them a grant of the lands they occupied, and a close friendship was formed between them. More than once St. Bruno went to Mileto to take part in the joys and sorrows of the noble family, to visit the count when sick (1098 and 1101), and to baptize his son Roger (1097), the future Kind of Sicily. But more often it was Roger who went into the desert to visit his friends, and when, through his generosity, the monastery of St. Stephen was built, in 1095, near the hermitage of St. Mary, there was erected adjoining it a little country house at which he loved to pass the time left free from governing his State.

Meanwhile the friends of St. Bruno died one after the other: Urban II in 1099; Landuin, the prior of the Grand Chartreuse, his first companion, in 1100; Count Roger in 1101. His own time was near at hand. Before his death he gathered for the last time his brethren round him and made in their presence a profession of the Catholic Faith, the words of which have been preserved. He affirms with special emphasis his faith in the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and in the real presence of Our Saviour in the Holy Eucharist—a protestation against the two heresies which had troubled that century, the tritheism of Roscelin, and the impanation of Berengarius. After his death, the Carthusians of Calabria, following a frequent custom of the Middle Ages by which the Christian world was associated with the death of its saints, dispatched a rolliger, a servant of the convent laden with a long roll of parchment, hung round his neck, who passed through Italy, France, Germany, and England. He stopped at the principal churches and communities to announce the death, and in return, the churches, communities, or chapters inscribed upon his roll, in prose or verse, the expression of their regrets, with promises of prayers. Many of these rolls have been preserved, but few are so extensive or so full of praise as that about St. Bruno. A hundred and seventy-eight witnesses, of whom many had known the deceased, celebrated the extent of his knowledge and the fruitfulness of his instruction. Strangers to him were above all struck by his great knowledge and talents. But his disciples praised his three chief virtues—his great spirit of prayer, an extreme mortification, and a filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Both the churches built by him in the desert were dedicated to the Blessed Virgin: Our Lady of Casalibus in Dauphiné, Our Lady Della Torre in Calabria; and, faithful to his inspirations, the Carthusian Statutes proclaim the Mother of God the first and chief patron of all the houses of the order, whoever may be their particular patron.

St. Bruno was buried in the little cemetery of the hermitage of St. Mary, and many miracles were worked at his tomb. He had never been formally canonized. His cult, authorized for the Carthusian Order by Leo X in 1514, was extended to the whole church by Gregory XV, 17 February, 1623, as a semi-double feast, and elevated to the class of doubles by Clement X, 14 March, 1674. St. Bruno is the popular saint of Calabria; every year a great multitude resort to the Charterhouse of St. Stephen, on the Monday and Tuesday of Pentecost, when his relics are borne in procession to the hermitage of St. Mary, where he lived, and the people visit the spots sanctified by his presence. An immense number of medals are struck in his honour and distributed to the crowd, and the little Carthusian habits, which so many children of the neighbourhood wear, are blessed. He is especially invoked, and successfully, for the deliverance of those possessed.

As a writer and founder of an order, St. Bruno occupies an important place in the history of the eleventh century. He composed commentaries on the Psalms and on the Epistles of St. Paul, the former written probably during his professorship at Reims, the latter during his stay at the Grande Chartreuse if we may believe an old manuscript seen by Mabillon—”Explicit glosarius Brunonis heremitae super Epistolas B. Pauli.” Two letters of his still remain, also his profession of faith, and a short elegy on contempt for the world which shows that he cultivated poetry. The “Commentaries” disclose to us a man of learning; he knows a little Hebrew and Greek and uses it to explain, or if need be, rectify the Vulgate; he is familiar with the Fathers, especially St. Augustine and St. Ambrose, his favourites. “His style”, says Dom Rivet, “is concise, clear, nervous and simple, and his Latin as good as could be expected of that century: it would be difficult to find a composition of this kind at once more solid and more luminous, more concise and more clear”. His writings have been published several times: at Paris, 1509-24; Cologne, 1611-40; Migne, Latin Patrology, CLII, CLIII, Montreuil-sur-Mer, 1891. The Paris edition of 1524 and those of Cologne include also some sermons and homilies which may be more justly attributed to St. Bruno, Bishop of Segni. The Preface of the Blessed Virgin has also been wrongly ascribed to him; it is long anterior, though he may have contributed to introduce it into the liturgy.

The Virgin of the Rosary venerated by Carthusians. Painting by Francisco de Zurbarán

St. Bruno’s distinction as the founder of an order was that he introduced into the religious life the mixed form, or union of the eremitical and cenobite modes of monasticism, a medium between the Camaldolese Rule and that of St. Benedict. He wrote no rule, but he left behind him two institutions which had little connection with each other—that of Dauphiné and that of Calabria. The foundation of Calabria, somewhat like the Camaldolese, comprised two classes of religious: hermits, who had the direction of the order, and cenobites who did not feel called to the solitary life; it only lasted a century, did not rise to more than five houses, and finally, in 1191, united with the Cistercian Order. The foundation of Grenoble, more like the rule of St. Benedict, comprised only one kind of religious, subject to a uniform discipline, and the greater part of whose life was spent in solitude, without, however, the complete exclusion of the conventual life. This life spread throughout Europe, numbered 250 monasteries, and in spite of many trials continues to this day.

The great figure of St. Bruno has been often sketched by artists and has inspired more than one masterpiece: in sculpture, for example, the famous statue by Houdon, at St. Mary of the Angels in Rome, “which would speak if his rule did not compel him to silence”; in painting, the fine picture by Zurbaran, in the Seville museum, representing Urban II and St. Bruno in conference; the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin to St. Bruno, by Guercino at Bologna; and above all the twenty-two pictures forming the gallery of St. Bruno in the museum of the Louvre, “a masterpiece of Le Sueur and of the French school”.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Saint Alonso de Orozco Mena - 20th September 2011

Alphonsus de Orozco was born in Oropesa, Province of Toledo, Spain, on the 17th of October 1500, where his father was governor of the local castle. He began his studies in the nearby Talavera de la Reina and for three years he was a choir boy in the Cathedral of Toledo, where he made progress in the study of music. At the age of fourteen his parents sent him to the University of Salamanca, where an elder brother was already studying.

During the Lenten sermons preached by Thomas of Villanova in 1520, on the psalm “In exitu Israel de Aegipto”, his vocation to the religious life was brought to maturity and a little later, attracted by the religious atmosphere of the Friary of Saint Augustine, he entered that community, and there made his profession of vows at the hands of Saint Thomas of Villanova.

When ordained a priest in 1527 his superiors detected in him such deep spirituality and a capacity for proclaiming the Word of God, that very soon they appointed him to the ministry of preaching. From the age of thirty he held many offices, but in spite of his own austere life, his style of governing always showed him to be full of understanding. Inspired by a desire for martyrdom, he set off for Mexico as a missionary in 1549, but on his way, in the Canary Islands, he suffered a severe bout of arthritis and the doctors, fearing for his life, forbade him to continue his journey.

In 1554, when he was Prior of the Convent in Valladolid, a city which was for many decades the seat of the royal court, Alphonsus was appointed “royal preacher” to the court of the emperor Charles V. When the court was moved to Madrid in 1561, Alphonsus also had to move to the new capital of the Kingdom, and he took up his residence in the convent of Saint Philip the Royal.

In spite of the fact that he was now exercising an office which was outside the jurisdiction of his superiors and which also carried a stipend, he renounced all privileges and only wished to live as a humble friar in obedience to his superiors. He lived in austere poverty. He took only one daily meal at midday, he slept no more than three hours, because he said that was enough for the tasks of the new day. A table was his bed; cut vines his pillow. His room had just one chair, a candle, a broom and some books. By choice, the room was near the door so that he could better attend to the poor who used to come there to ask his help. Without neglecting his daily attendance in choir for prayer, he used to visit the sick in hospitals, the prisoners in the gaols and the poor in the streets and in their homes. He spent the day in prayer, in writing his books and preparing his sermons. He was very popular with members of every social class.

Personages of society and culture were witnesses in his process for canonisation, such as the Princess Isabel Clara Eugenia, the Dukes of Alba and of Lerma, the writer Lope de Vega, Francisco de Quevedo and González Dávila. Association with the upper classes did not divert him from his simple lifestyle. His fame spread throughout Madrid. The people who used to call him, much to his displeasure, the “saint of Saint Philip’s”, loved him for his gentle sensitivity in getting close to everyone without distinction.

He wrote many works, both in Latin as well as in Spanish. The simplicity of the titles indicate that they were written with a view to pastoral ministry: Rule for a Christian life (1542), Garden of prayer and the mount of contemplation (1544), Memorial of holy love (1576), Spiritual treasury (1551), The art of loving God and neighbour (1567), The book of the gentleness of God (1576), Tract on the crown of Our Lady (1588). Like his own life, these writings sprung from a spirit of contemplation and a study of sacred scripture. Such was his great devotion to the Virgin Mary, that he was convinced that he was writing in obedience to her command.

He was also fervently attached to the love of his own religious Order, writing about its history and spirituality, in the hope of encouraging good men to imitate the Augustinian way of life. Along these lines, led by a desire of internal reform, which would later develop into a movement of recollection in the Order, he was responsible for the foundation of Augustinian monasteries, both of friars and of contemplative nuns.

In August 1591, Friar Alphonsus fell ill of a fever, but this did not prevent him from celebrating his daily Mass, as he never, in spite of any illness, failed to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice, saying with a certain humour, “God does no harm to anybody”. During his illness, he was visited by the king, Philip II, by the heir to the throne and Princess Isabel and by the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo, Gaspar de Quiroga, who personally fed him and then asked for his blessing.

News of his death, which occurred on the 19 of September 1591 in the College of the Incarnation, which he had founded two years before and which today is the seat of the Spanish Senate, brought sadness to the whole city. The people of Madrid, as testified by Quevedo, filed past the chapel of rest and rushed the doors of the church of the college, knocking down the doors seeking some relic, a splinter of the bed, or a fragment of his clothes, his shoes or of his hair shirt. For many years the Cardinal Archbishop kept for himself the wooden cross which the “saint of Saint Philip’s” used to carry with him.

He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on the 15th January of 1882, and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blessed Mary de Cervellione - 19th September 2011

Popularly styled “de Socos” (of Help) Saint, born about 1230 at Barcelona; died there 19 September, 1290. She was a daughter of a Spanish nobleman named William de Cervellon. One day she heard a sermon preached by Blessed Bernard de Corbarie, the superior of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Ransom at Barcelona, and was so deeply affected by his pleading for the Christian slaves and captives in the hands of the Turks that she resolved to do all in her power for their alleviation. In 1265 she joined a little community of pious women who lived near the monastery of the Mercedarians and spent their lives in prayer and good works under the direction of Blessed Bernard de Corbarie. They obtained permission to constitute a Third Order of Our Lady of Ransom (de Mercede) and to wear the habit of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Ransom. In addition to the usual vows of tertiaries, they promised to pray for the Christian slaves. Mary was unanimously elected the first superior. On account of her great charity towards the needy she began to be called Maria de Socos (Mary of Help) a name under which she is still venerated in Catalonia. Her cult, which began immediately after her death, was approved by Innocent XII in 1692. She is invoked especially against shipwreck and is generally represented with a ship in her hand.

Monday, September 12, 2011

St Pio on abortion

"In the same manner, it will be a terrible day for humanity when men, frightened by - how do you say - the demographic boom, the damage of physics and economic sacrifices, lose their horror for abortion because it is precisely that day when they should reveal their horror."

-St. Pio

The Minimalist Does Not Love - St Peter Julian Eymard

Our Lord wants us to have a passionate love for Him. No virtue or thought that does not become a passion will ever produce anything great. Love triumphs only when it becomes a vital passion. Other- wise, isolated acts of love can be produced, but one’s whole existence is neither conquered nor offered.

For our love to become a passion it must abide by the laws of human passions. I speak of decent, natu- rally good passions, since passions are indifferent in themselves. We make them evil when we direct them towards evil; it is up to us to use them for the good.

A dominant passion concentrates a man’s efforts and makes him work exclusively to attain his goal no matter what happens.

Also, in the order of salvation, we need to have a passion that dominates our life and makes it produce for the glory of God all the fruits the Lord expects. Love a virtue, truth or mystery with a passion! Dedicate your life, thoughts and labors to it or you will never achieve anything. Look at the saints. Their burning love carries them away, makes them suffer, spends their strength, and causes their death. Exaggerated?
What is love if notan exaggeration? To exaggerate is to surpass the law. He who only fulfills his obligation does not love. Let us love our good Savior for His own sake! Let us forget ourselves and immolate ourselves a little! Look at how candles are consumed, leaving nothing for themselves!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Discovering the Wisdom of Saint Ignatius - Dr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

The Spiritual Exercises by Saint Ignatius of Loyola are often presented as a magnificent sequence of logical arguments that can lead a person to amend his life, save his soul, choose his state in life or make important resolutions.

While all these treasures are found in this work, we need to have an even broader vision that will allow us to see yet another treasure that is rarely pointed out. That treasure is his wisdom. If someone wants to have mental balance, nervous equilibrium and wisdom, let him read The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. His way of thinking is not just speculative reasoning. Rather there is no more sensible or logical way to think about the concrete problems of life today than that of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Anyone who becomes familiar with, and used to, his reasoning acquires a truly extraordinary and structured soul.

What is it about The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius that we should especially praise? First of all, the wisdom by which he lays out the topics. He always goes straight to the central points of a topic. For example, his consideration of sin leads us to reflect upon the gravity of sin and the rights of God. By taking conclusions about the gravity of sin, people then gauge the gravity of their own sins. From a central point, he always develops his reasoning in a logical, simple, direct and irrefutable way. We are left with the alternative of either admitting we have no faith or that he is right.

Secondly, Saint Ignatius teaches us to be completely honest when considering our private lives. The Exercises are laid out in such a way as to make us fully objective when considering our defects, virtues, circumstances and duties. The saint teaches us to fight against those numerous and devious (although mostly semi-subconscious) maneuvers that we often employ to avoid knowing ourselves. His logic is like a straight arrow that forces us to look at things head on and with all honesty. We see and recognize ourselves as we are. At the time of our spiritual self-examination, we are put in a position where we will not lie to ourselves or to God.

However comforting or painful this honest vision may be, we can then draw helpful conclusions and resolutions.

Finally, Saint Ignatius supplies us with an admirable equilibrium between the intelligence and the will on the one hand, and the sensibility on the other. He bases his arguments on reason, not sensibility or feelings. Nevertheless, once reason dominates, he asks man’s sensibility to follow reason. Thus, Saint Ignatius asks us to think about a topic and then imagine a place or situation that will help stir up good movements in our souls. That is to say, he tries to bring human sensibility into line with the logical arguments. If however, your sensibility or feelings are not moved by the argument, he advises us to carry on with the exercise without them because that is what reason indicates we should do. This is a marvelous equilibrium!

Saint Ignatius also strikes a balance between the supernatural and the natural. At every moment he asks us to make an act of love or make an act of the will. He asks our souls to “exercise” but he also constantly asks us to stop and ask God for an insight to consider this or that thing. We are asked to stop and ask God to move our souls in the direction He desires for us. In other words, he bends over backward to stir in us the right natural dispositions to accept the orientation God wishes to give us. This truly shows an extraordinary fullness of wisdom.

In this regard, Saint Ignatius is so opposed to everything that our times have of arbitrary, wild and crazy. All saints are the opposite of the hippie. Charles Manson, for example, was characteristically unbalanced, with regard for neither thinking nor law, a kind of wild beast loose in the world.

In Saint Ignatius we have the exact opposite. We have composure, logic, common sense and a sense of measure. From this standpoint, he is an incomparable master of wisdom.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jacinta’s last words - Our Lady of Fatima

  • The sins which cause most souls to go to Hell are the sins of the flesh.
  • To be pure of body is to keep chastity. To be pure in soul is not to commit sins, not look at what one should not see, not to steal, never to lie, always to tell the truth however hard it may be.
  • Fashions that will greatly offend Our Lord will appear. People who serve God should not follow fashions. The Church has no fashions. Our Lord is always the same.
  • Doctors do not have the light to cure the sick because they do not have love of God
  • Priests should only occupy themselves with the affairs of the Church. Priests should be pure, very pure. The disobedience of priests and religious to their superiors and to the Holy Father greatly offends Our Lord.
  • To be a woman religious, it is necessary to be very pure in soul and body.
  • Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord, and they are not of God.
  • Confession is a sacrament of mercy. Therefore, one must approach the confessional with confidence and joy.
  • My godmother, pray much for those who govern! Woe to those who persecute the religion of Our Lord. If the government left the Church in peace and gave freedom to the holy Faith, it would be blessed by God.
  • Wars are nothing but punishments for the sins of the world.
  • Our Lady can no longer hold back the arm of her beloved Son from the world. It is necessary to do penance. If people change their ways, Our Lord will still spare the world; but if they do not, the chastisement will come.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Zeal for the Most Holy Name of Mary - Dr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

In times past, people considered names to be symbolic of the person. This was so true that for a long time people even gave great importance to initials, a kind of symbol of the name, which in turn is a symbol of the person.

Thus, a name was considered to be a symbol of the more profound psychological, moral and spiritual aspects of the person. The name of Our Lady, like the Most Holy Name of Jesus, should then be considered symbolic of the hallowed virtue of Our Lady, her mission, and all that which she represents.

From this standpoint, we venerate the name of Our Lady since it is an affirmation of her interior glory, inner qualities and her person. The name of Mary is then the symbolic manifestation of all that exists of hallowed in Our Lady. By honoring this name we celebrate the glory that Our Lady has, had and will have, in heaven, earth and the entire universe.

Regarding her glory in heaven, all has been said. She is the queen of all angels and saints, placed above all creatures. She is placed incomparably and incommensurably above all creatures so that in the order of creation she is the high point toward which everything converges. She is our Mediatrix with God, Our Lord. The glory that she has by this fact is simply inexpressible and derives from her condition as Mother of the Savior, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Regarding her glory on earth, we consider how Our Lady must be glorified also on earth. The Glory be prayer states: Glory be to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The answer is: As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Thus, it is normal to affirm that Our Lady should also be venerated on earth; and for her most holy Name to be glorified in an ineffable way.

Imagine a world like that of Christendom which would be influenced by the spirit of the great Marian apostle Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort. Imagine if the disciples of Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort were the salt of the earth and really set the tone for devotion to Our Lady throughout Christendom. Then we could understand what Our Lady’s glory in the world should be like. It would be incomparably more than it is today.

We see how greatly Our Lady was glorified by Holy Mother Church (at least until progressivism entered the scene). To us this glory seemed immense. However, it was nothing in comparison to the glory that she should have according to the spirit of Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort. We must ardently love Our Lady’s glory because it is unbearable for her not to have the glory that she should have. It simply is most odious and execrable that vice, crime, the Revolution and the wickedness of men have managed to diminish the glory that she should receive from men.

Our zeal for the glory and name of Our Lady should be as children in their mother’s house. How could a son feel fine in his mother’s house when he sees others refusing to give the attention due to her? How can we feel happy on earth, which is under Our Lady’s queenship, when we see her being refused her rightful honors and respect? This must be a continuous reason for us to have much more than just grief but great indignation that the Queen is not being recognized by all in the role which is her own.

Monday, September 5, 2011

St. Laurence Justinian, Bishop and Confessor, First Patriarch of Venice - 5th September 2011

St. Laurence was born at Venice, in 1380. His father Bernardi Justiniani held an illustrious rank among the prime nobility of the commonwealth; nor was the extraction of his mother Querini less noble. By the death of Bernardo she was left a disconsolate widow with a nursery of tender children; though very young, she thought it her duty to sanctify her soul by the great means and advantages which her state afforded for virtue, and resolutely rejected all thoughts of any more altering her condition. She looked upon herself as called by her very state to a penitential and retired life, and devoted herself altogether to the care of her children’s education, to works of charity, fasting, watching, assiduous prayer, and the exercises of all virtues. Under her inspection her children were brought up in the most perfect maxims of Christian piety.

Laurence discovered, even from the cradle, an uncommon docility, and an extraordinary generosity of soul; and disdaining to lose any part of his time, loved only serious conversation and employs. His mother fearing some spark of pride and ambition, chided him sometimes for aiming at things above his age; but he humbly answered that it was his only desire, by the divine grace, to become a saint. Reflecting from his infancy that he was made by God only to serve him, and to live eternally with him, he kept this end always in view, and governed all his thoughts and actions so as to refer them to God and eternity.

In the nineteenth year of his age he was called by God to consecrate himself in a special manner to his service. He seemed one day to see in a vision the eternal wisdom in the disguise and habit of a damsel, shining brighter than the sun, and to hear from her the following words: “Why seekest thou rest to thy mind out of thyself, sometimes in this object, and sometimes in that? What thou desirest is to be found only with me: behold, it is in my hands. Seek it in me who am the wisdom of God. By taking me for thy spouse and thy portion, thou shalt be possessed of its inestimable treasure.” That instant he found his soul so pierced with the charms, incomparable honor, and advantages of this invitation of divine grace, that he felt himself inflamed with new ardor to give himself up entirely to the search of the holy knowledge and love of God.

A religious state appeared to him that in which God pointed out to him the path in which he might most securely attain to the great and arduous end which he proposed to himself. But, before he determined himself, he made his application to God by humble prayer, and addressed himself for advice to a holy and learned priest called Marino Querini, who was his uncle by the mother’s side, and a regular canon in the austere Congregation of St. George in Alga, established in a little isle which bears that name, situated a mile from the city of Venice, towards the continent.

The prudent director, understanding that he was most inclined to a religious state, advised him first to make trial of his strength, by inuring himself to the habitual practice of austerities. Laurence readily obeyed, and in the night, leaving his soft bed, laying on knotty sticks on the floor. During this deliberation, he one day represented to himself on one side honors, riches, and worldly pleasures, and on the other, the hardships of poverty, fasting, watching, and self-denial. Then said to himself: “Hast thou courage, my soul, to despise these delights, and to undertake a life of uninterrupted penance and mortification?” After standing some time in a pause, he cast his eyes on a crucifix, and said: “Thou, O Lord, art my hope.” In this tree are found comfort and strength. The ardor of his resolution to walk in the narrow path of the cross, showed itself in the extreme severity with which he treated his body, and the continual application of his mind to the exercises of religion. His mother and other friends, fearing lest his excessive mortifications should prove prejudicial to his health, endeavored to divert him from that course, and, with that view, contrived a proposal of an honorable match to be made for him. The saint perceiving in this stratagem that his friends had entered into a conspiracy to break his measures, fled secretly to the monastery of St. George in Alga, and was admitted to the religious habit.

His superiors even judged it necessary to mitigate the rigors which he exercised upon himself. He was only nineteen years of age, but surpassed all his religious brethren in his watchings and fasts. To make a general assault upon sensuality he never took any useless recreation, subdued his body by severe discipline, and never came near a fire in the sharpest weather in winter, though his hands were often benumbed with cold; he allowed to hunger only what the utmost necessity required, and never drank out of meals; when asked to do it under excessive heats and weariness, he used to say: “If we cannot bear this thirst, how shall we endure the fire of purgatory?” From the same heroic disposition proceeded his invincible patience in every kind of sickness. During his novitiate he was afflicted with dangerous scrofulous swellings in his neck. The physicians prescribed cupping, lancing, and searing with fire. Before the operation, seeing others tremble for his sake, he courageously said to them: “What do you fear? Let the razors and burning irons be brought in. Cannot He grant me constancy, who not only supported but even preserved from the flames the three children in the furnace?” Under the cutting and burning he never so much as fetched a sigh, and only once pronounced the holy name of Jesus.

In his old age, seeing a surgeon tremble who was going to make a ghastly incision in a great sore in his neck, he said to him: “Cut boldly, your razor cannot exceed the burning irons of the martyrs.” The saint stood the operation of this timorous surgeon without stirring, and as if he had been a stock that had no feeling.

At all public devotions he was the first in the church, and left it the last; he remained there from matins, whilst others returned to their rest, till they came to prime at sunrise.

Humiliations he always embraced with singular satisfaction. The meanest and most loathsome offices, and the most tattered habit were his desire and delight. The beck of any superior was to him as an oracle; even in private conversation he was always ready to yield to the judgment and will of others, and he sought everywhere the lowest place as much as was possible to be done without affectation. When he went about the streets begging alms with a wallet on his back, he often thrust himself into the thickest crowds, and into assemblies of the nobility, that he might meet with derision and contempt. Being one day put in mind, that by appearing loaded with his wallet in a certain public place, he would expose himself to the ridicule of the company, he answered to his companion: “Let us go boldly in quest of scorn. We have done nothing if we have renounced the world only in words. Let us today triumph over it with our sacks and crosses. Nothing is of greater advantage towards gaining a complete victory over ourselves, and the fund of pride which is our greatest obstacle to virtue, than humiliations accepted and borne with cheerfulness and sincere humility. To those which providence daily sends us opportunities of, it is expedient to add some that are voluntary, provided the choice be discreet, and accompanied with heroic dispositions of soul, clear of the least tincture of affectation or hypocrisy.”

Our saint frequently came to beg at the house where he was born, but only stood in the street before the door, crying out: “An alms for God’s sake.” His mother never failed to be exceedingly moved at hearing his voice, and to order the servants to fill his wallet. But he never took more than two loaves, and wishing peace to those who had done him that charity, departed as if he had been some stranger. The storehouse, in which were laid up the provisions of the community for a year, happening to be burned down, St. Laurence hearing a certain brother lament for the loss, said cheerfully: “Why have we embraced and vowed poverty? God has granted us this blessing that we may feel it.” Whilst he was superior, he was one day rashly accused in chapter of having done something against the rule. The saint could have easily confuted the slander, and given a satisfactory account of his conduct; but he rose instantly from his seat, and walking gently, with his eyes cast down, into the middle of the chapter room, there fell on his knees, and begged penance and pardon of the fathers. The sight of his astonishing humility covered the accuser with such confusion and shame, that he threw himself at the saint’s feet, proclaimed him innocent, and loudly condemned himself.

St. Laurence was promoted to the priesthood. Much against his inclination he was chosen general of his Order, which he governed with singular prudence, and extraordinary reputation for sanctity. He reformed its discipline in such a manner as to be afterwards regarded as its founder. By his inflamed entertainments he awakened the tepid, filled the presumptuous with saving fear, raised the pusillanimous to confidence, and quickened the fervor of all. He would receive very few into his Order, and these thoroughly tried, saying, that a state of such perfection and obligations is only for few, and its essential spirit and fervor are scarcely to be maintained in multitudes; yet in these conditions, not in the number of a religious community, its advantages and glory consist. It is not therefore to be wondered at that he was very attentive and rigorous in examining and trying the vocation of postulants. The most sincere and profound humility was the first thing in which he labored to ground his religious disciples, teaching them that it not only purges the soul of all lurking pride, but also that this alone inspires her with true courage and resolution, by teaching her to place her entire confidence in God alone, the only source of her strength. Whence he compared this virtue to a river which is low and still in summer, but loud and high in winter. So, said he, humility is silent in prosperity, never elated or swelled by it; but it is high, magnanimous, and full of joy and invincible courage under adversity. He used to say, that there is nothing in which men more frequently deceive themselves than humility; that few comprehend what it is, and they only truly possess it who, by strenuous endeavors, and an experimental spirit of prayer, have received this virtue by infusion from God. That humility which is required by repeated acts is necessary and preparatory to the other; but this first is always blind and imperfect. Infused humility enlightens the soul in all her views, and makes her clearly see and feel her own miseries and baseness; it gives her perfectly that true science which consists in knowing that God alone is the great All, and that we are nothing.

The saint never ceased to preach to the magistrates and senators in times of war and all public calamities, that, to obtain the divine mercy, and the remedy of all the evils with which they were afflicted, they ought, in the first place, to become perfectly sensible that they were nothing; for, without this disposition of heart they could never hope for the divine assistance. It was a maxim which he frequently repeated, that for a person to pretend to live chaste amid softness, ease, and continual gratifications of sense, is as if a man should undertake to quench fire by throwing fuel upon it. He often put the rich in mind, that they could not be saved but by abundant alms deeds. His discourses consisted more of effective amorous sentiments than of studied thoughts; which sufficiently appears from his works.

Pope Eugenius IV, being perfectly acquainted with the eminent virtue of our saint, obliged him to quit his cloister, and nominated him to the episcopal see of Venice in 1433. The holy man employed all manner of entreaties and artifices to prevent his elevation, and engaged his whole Order to write in the same strain, in the most pressing manner, to his Holiness, but to no effect. When he could no longer oppose the repeated orders of the pope, he acquiesced with many tears; but such was his aversion to pomp and show, that he took possession of his church so privately that his own friends knew nothing of the matter till the ceremony was over. The saint passed that whole night in the church at the foot of the altar, pouring forth his soul before God, with many tears; and he spent in the same manner the night which preceded his consecration. He was a prelate, says Dr. Cave (4), admirable for his sincere piety towards God, the ardor of his zeal for the divine honor, and the excess of his charity to the poor. In this dignity he remitted nothing of the austerities which he had practiced in the cloister.

Though he was bishop of so distinguished a see, in the ordering of his household he consulted only piety and humility. His household consisted only of five persons; he had no plate, making use only of earthen ware; he lay on a scanty straw bed covered with a coarse rag, and wore no clothes but his ordinary purple cassock. His example, his severity to himself, and the affability and mildness with which he treated all others, won everyone’s heart, and effected with ease the most difficult reformations which he introduced both among the laity and clergy. A certain powerful man who was exasperated at a mandate the zealous bishop had published against stage entertainments, called him a scrupulous old monk, and endeavored to stir up the populace against him. Another time, an abandoned wretch reproached him in the public streets as a hypocrite. The saint heard them without changing his countenance, or altering his pace. He was no less unmoved amidst commendations and applause. No sadness or inordinate passions seemed ever to spread their clouds in his soul, and all his actions demonstrated a constant peace and serenity of mind which no words can express. By the very first visitation which he made, the face of his whole diocese was changed. He founded fifteen religious houses, and a great number of churches, and reformed those of all his diocese, especially with regard to the most devout manner of performing the divine office, and the administration of the sacraments. Such was the good order and devotion he established in his cathedral, that it was a model to all Christendom. The number of canons that served it being too small, St. Laurence founded several new canonries in it, and also in many other churches; and he increased the number of parishes in the city of Venice from twenty to thirty.

It is incredible what crowds every day resorted to the holy bishop’s palace for advice, comfort, or alms; his gate, pantry, and coffers were always open to the poor. He gave alms more willingly in bread and clothes than in money, which might be ill spent; when he gave money it was always in small sums. He employed pious matrons to find out and relieve the bashful poor, or persons of family in decayed circumstances. No man ever had a greater contempt of money than our saint.

The popes held St. Laurence in great veneration. Eugenius IV, having ordered our holy bishop to give him a meeting once at Bologna, saluted him in these words: “Welcome the ornament of bishops.” His successor, Nicholas V, earnestly sought an opportunity of giving him some singular token of his particular esteem; when Dominic Michelli, patriarch of Grado, happened to die in 1451, his holiness, barely in consideration of the saint, transferred the patriarchal dignity to the see of Venice. The senate, always jealous of its prerogatives and liberty above all other states in the world, formed great difficulties lest such an authority should in any cases trespass upon their jurisdiction. Whilst this affair was debated in the senate house, St. Laurence repaired thither, and, being admitted, humbly declared his sincere and earnest desire of rather resigning a charge for which he was most unfit, and which he had borne against his will eighteen years, than to feel his burden increased by this additional dignity. His humility and charity so strongly affected the whole senate, that the Doge himself was not able to refrain from tears, and cried out to the saint, conjuring him not to entertain such a thought, or to raise any obstacle to the pope’s decree, which was expedient to the church, and most honorable to their country. In this he was seconded by the whole house, and the ceremony of the installation of the new patriarch was celebrated with great joy by the whole city.

St. Laurence never, on his own account, made any one wait to speak to him, but immediately interrupted his writing, studies, or prayers to give admittance to others, whether rich or poor; and received all persons who addressed themselves to him with so much sweetness and charity, comforted and exhorted them in so heavenly a manner, and appeared in his conversation so perfectly exempt from all inordinate passions, that he scarcely seemed clothed with human flesh, infected with the corruption of our first parent. Every one looked upon him as if he had been an angel living on earth. His advice was always satisfactory and healing to the various distempers of the human mind; and such was the universal opinion of his virtue, prudence, penetration, and judgment, that causes decided by him were never admitted to a second hearing at Rome; but in all appeals his sentence was forthwith confirmed. Grounded in the most sincere and perfect contempt of himself, he seemed insensible and dead to the flattering temptation of human applause; which appeared to have no other effect upon him than to make him more profoundly to humble himself in his own soul, and before both God and men. When he was not able to refrain his tears, which proceeded from the tenderness and vehemence of the divine love, and from the wonderful spirit of compunction with which he was endowed, he used to accuse himself of weakness and too tender and compassionate a disposition of mind. But these he freely indulged at his private devotions, and by them he purified his affections more and more from earthly things, and moved the divine mercy to shower down the greatest blessings on others.

The republic was at that time shaken with violent storms, and threatened with great dangers. A holy hermit, who had served God with great fervor above thirty years in the isle of Corfu, assured a Venetian nobleman, as if it were from a divine revelation, that the city and republic of Venice had been preserved by the prayers of the good bishop.

St. Laurence was seventy-four years old when he wrote his last work, entitled The Degrees of Perfection; he had just finished it when he was seized with a sharp fever. In his illness his servants prepared a bed for him; at which the true imitator of Christ was troubled, and said: “Are you laying a feather bed for me? No: that shall not be. My Lord was stretched on a hard and painful tree. Do not you remember that St. Martin said, in his agony, that a Christian ought to die on sackcloth and ashes?” Nor could he be contented till he was laid on his straw. He forbade his friends to weep for him, and often cried out, in raptures of joy: “Behold the Spouse; let us go forth and meet him.” He added, with his eyes lifted up to heaven: “Good Jesus, behold I come.” At other times, weighing the divine judgments, he expressed sentiments of holy fear. One saying to him that he might go joyfully to his crown, he was much disturbed, and said: “The crown is for valiant soldiers; not for base cowards, such as I am.” So great was his poverty that he had no temporal goods to dispose of, and he made his testament only to exhort in it all men to virtue, and to order that his body should be buried without pomp, as a private religious man would be, in his convent of St. George; though this clause was set aside by the senate after his death. During the two days that he survived, after receiving extreme unction, the whole city came in turns, according to their different ranks, to receive his blessing. The saint would have even the beggars admitted, and gave to each class some short pathetic instruction. Seeing one Marcellus, a very pious young nobleman, who was his favorite disciple, weep most bitterly, he comforted him, giving him the following assurance: “I go before, but you will shortly follow me. Next Easter we shall again meet in mutual embraces.” Marcellus fell sick in the beginning of Lent, and was buried in Easter week. St. Laurence, closing his eyes, calmly expired on the 8th of January, in the year 1455, being seventy-four years old, having been honored with the episcopal dignity twenty-two years, and four with that of patriarch. During the contestation about the place of his burial, his body was preserved entire, without the least ill savor or sign of corruption, sixty-seven days, and interred, according to a decree of the senate, on the 17th of March. The ceremony of his beatification was performed by Clement VII in 1524, and that of his canonization by Alexander VIII in 1690. His festival is kept on the 5th of September, the day on which he was consecrated bishop.

With St. Laurence Justinian, we must first labor strenuously in sanctifying our own souls before we can hope to preach to others with much fruit. Only he can inspire into others the perfect sentiments of Christian virtue, and instruct others well in the great practical truths of religion, who has learned them by experience, and whose heart is penetrated with them. The pastoral obligation is of great extent; it is not confined to those who are charged with the ministry of the word, and the distribution of the sacraments; it regards not only pastors of souls; every king is, in some degree, a pastor to his whole kingdom; and every parent and master to those who are under their care. He will be accountable to God for the loss of their souls, who is not, in a qualified sense, an apostle or pastor to all that are under his charge.

Padre Pio's Secret: His Shoulder Wound

I was in San Giovanni Rotondo on the 15th August 2011 and Br. Modestino Fucci had just passed away. There were a lot of Italians who had come to pay respects to him, and I was curious to find out who he was. This is what I found on the interwebs.

____________________________


Shortly after World War II was over, a young Polish priest who was studying in Rome, Fr. Karol Wojtyla, visited Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo. This encounter took place around 1947 or 1948. At that time in post-war Italy, it was possible to have access to Padre Pio, since travel was difficult and great crowds were not besieging the Friary. The young priest spent almost a week in San Giovanni Rotondo during his visit, and was able to attend Padre Pio’s Mass and make his confession to the saint. Apparently, this was not just a casual encounter, and the two spoke together at length during Fr. Wojtyla’s stay. Their conversations gave rise to rumors in later years, after the Polish prelate had been elevated to the Papacy, that Padre Pio had told him he would become Pope. The story persists to the present day, even though on two or three occasions "Papa Wojtyla" denied it.

Recently, new information about this visit has come to light, according to a new book in Italian published by Padre Pio's Friary, Il Papa e Il Frate, written by Stefano Campanella (1). As reported in this book, the future Pope and future Saint had a very interesting conversation. During this exchange, Fr. Wojtyla asked Padre Pio which of his wounds caused the greatest suffering. From this kind of personal question, we can see that they must have already talked together for some time and had become at ease with each other. The priest expected Padre Pio to say it was his chest wound, but instead the Padre replied, "It is my shoulder wound, which no one knows about and has never been cured or treated." This is extremely significant, not only because it reveals that Padre Pio bore this wound, but because, as far as is known, the future pope is the only one to whom Padre Pio ever revealed existence of this secret wound.

Centuries earlier, Our Lord himself had revealed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux in a vision, that his shoulder wound from carrying the heavy wooden cross caused him his greatest suffering, and that the cross tore into his flesh right up to the shoulder bone.

At one time, Padre had confided to his paisano from Pietrelcina, Brother Modestino Fucci, that his greatest pains occurred when he changed his undershirt. (Brother Modestino is currently the doorkeeper at Padre Pio’s friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.) Modestino, like Fr. Wojtyla, thought Padre Pio was referring to pains from the chest wound. Then, on February 4, 1971 Modestino was assigned the task of taking an inventory of all the items in the deceased Padre’s cell in the friary, and also his belongings in the archives. That day he discovered that one of Padre Pio’s undershirts bore a circle of bloodstains in the area of the right shoulder.

This reminded Brother Modestino that he had once read about a devotion to the shoulder wound of Jesus, caused by his bearing of the heavy cross beam, the patibulum, to Calvary. The beam could weigh up to 100 pounds. Part of this devotion to the shoulder wound of Christ is to pray daily three Our Father’s, Hail Mary’s and Glory Be’s, to honor the severe pains and lacerations Our Lord suffered from the weight of the patibulum.

On that very evening of February 4, 1971, Brother Modestino asked Padre Pio in prayer to enlighten him about the meaning of the bloodstained undershirt. He asked Padre to give him a sign if he truly bore Christ’s shoulder wound. Then he went to sleep, awakening at 1:00 AM with a terrible, excruciating pain in his shoulder, as if he had been sliced with a knife up to the shoulder bone. He felt that he would die from the pain if it continued, but it lasted only a short time. Then the room became filled with the aroma of a heavenly perfume of flowers – the sign of Padre Pio’s spiritual presence – and he heard a voice saying "Cosi ho sofferto io!" – "This is what I had to suffer!" Modestino remarked that he had a strange sensation after the pain subsided: that being deprived of this pain was also a suffering. His body had suffered from it, but his soul had desired it. He said, "It was painful and sweet at the same time."

What is the mystical and spiritual significance of the shoulder wound of St. Padre Pio? The book by journalist Saverio Gaeta, Sulla Soglia del Paradiso (2), reports that Padre Pio said this of his spiritual children: "When the Lord entrusts a soul to me, I place it on my shoulder and never let it go." From this statement, it can reasonably be inferred that the saint offered up the suffering and the extreme pain of his shoulder wound for his spiritual children.

Cleonice Morcaldi once said in the presence of Gaeta, "On the shoulders of Padre Pio rests the whole world and the Church." This expression seemed an exaggeration to the writer. But on the very same day that Gaeta had heard this, he later joined Padre Pio and some others in conversation. Padre Pio was telling the story of St. Christopher, and how he had carried the child Jesus on his shoulders across a river. Then, turning his gaze to look directly at Saverio Gaeta, Padre Pio pointedly said to the writer, "On my shoulders is the whole world."

References:

1. Campanella, Stefano, Il Papa e Il Frate, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, Edizioni Padre Pio da Pietrelcina, 2005.

2. Gaeta, Saverio, Sulla Soglia del Paradiso, Edizione speciale per Famiglia Christiana, San Paolo Edizioni, 2002.

Monday, August 8, 2011

St. Hormisdas - 8th August 2011

Isdegerdes, king of Persia, renewed the persecution which Cosroes II had raised against the church. It is not easy, says Theodoret, to describe or express the cruelties which were then invented against the disciples of Christ. Some were flayed alive, others had the skin torn from off their backs only, others off their faces from the forehead to the chin. Some were stuck all over with reeds split in two, and appeared like porcupines; then these reeds were forcibly plucked out, so as to bring off the skin with them. Some were bound hands and feet, and in that condition thrown into great vaults which were filled with hungry rats, mice, or other such vermin, which gnawed and devoured them by degrees, without their being able to defend themselves. Nevertheless, these cruelties hindered not the Christians from running with joy to meet death, that they might gain eternal life. Isdegerdes dying, the persecution was carried on by his son Varanes; and Hormisdas was one of the most illustrious victims of his tyranny and malice.

He was of the chief nobility among the Persians, son to the governor of a province, and of the race of the Achemenides. Varanes sent for him, and commanded him to renounce Jesus Christ. Hormisdas answered him: “That this would offend God, and transgress the laws of charity and justice; that whoever dares to violate the supreme law of the sovereign Lord of all things, would more easily betray his king, who is only a mortal man. If the latter be a crime deserving the worst of deaths, what must it be to renounce the God of the universe?” The king was enraged at this wise and just answer, and caused him to be deprived of his office, honours, and goods, and even stripped of his very clothes, except a small piece of linen that went round his waist; and ordered him in this naked condition to drive and look after the camels of the army.

A long time after, the king, looking out of his chamber window, saw Hormisdas all sunburnt, and covered with dust, and calling to mind his former dignity and riches, and the high station of his father, sent for him, ordered a shirt to be given him, and said to him: “Now at least lay aside thy obstinacy, and renounce the carpenter’s son.” The saint transported with holy zeal, tore the shirt or tunic, and threw it away, saying: “If you thought that I should so easily be tempted to abandon the law of God, keep your fine present with your impiety.” The king, incensed at his boldness, banished him again with indignation from his presence. St. Hormisdas happily finished his course; and is named in the Roman Martyrology.

Excerpts from 'The Joy of Loving' by Bl. Teresa of Calcutta

'Let us not be afraid to be humble, small, helpless to prove our love for God. The cup of water you give the sick, the way you lift a dying man, the way you feed a baby, the way you teach a dull child, the way you give medicine to a sufferer of leprosy, the joy with which you smile at your own at home - all this is GOd's love in the world today.'

' In Minneapolis, a woman in wheelchair, suffering continuos convulsions from cerebral palsy asked me what people like her could do for others. I told her: You can do the most. You can do more than any of us because your suffering is united with the suffering of Christ on the Cross and it brings strength to all of us. There is a tremendous strength that is growing in the world through this continual sharing, praying together, suffering together and working together.'

'There are sick and crippled people who cannot do anything to share in the work. So they adopt a Sister or a Brother, who then involves the sick co-worker fully in whatever he or she does. The two become like one person, and they call each other their second self. I have a second self in Belgium, and when I was last there, she said to me, 'I am sure you are going to have a heavy time, with all the walking and working and talking. I know this from the pain I have in my spine.' That was just before her seventeenth operation. Each time I have something special to do, it is she behind me that gives me all the strength and courage to do it.'

'God dwells in us. It doesn't matter where you are as long as you are clean of heart. Clean of heart means openness, that complete freedom, that detachment that allows you to love GOd without hindrance, without obstacles. When sin comes into our lives that is a personal obstacle between us and GOd. Sin is nothing but slavery.'

' To doctors: Have you experienced the joy of loving? You can do that as doctors. YOU have a beautiful opportunity when the sick come to you with great trust and confidence not only to receive a few tablets from you but to receive your tender love and care and especially when you have to make a sacrifice to look after the poor. Jesus said: 'Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.'

'There is much suffering in the world - physical, material, mental. The suffering of some can be blamed on the greed of others. The material and physical suffering is suffering from hunger, from homelessness, from all kinds of diseases. But the greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, having no one. I have come more and more to realize that it is being unwanted that is the worse disease that any human being can ever experience.'

'To teachers: Do not neglect the weaker children. Consider the problems of the slow-witted, the dropouts - what will they become in society, if you do not look after them? Among the poor we have the rich poor - children who are better gifted. The rich poor child can still have a place but it is the child who is so dull, stupid, hungry that I must work for.'

'Let us beg form Our Lady to make our hearts 'meek and humble' like her Son's was. We learn humility through accepting humiliations cheerfully. Do not let a chance pass you by. It is so easy to be proud, harsh, moody and selfish, but we have been created for greater things. Why stoop down to things that will spoil the beauty of our hearts?'

'Nowadays, young people especially, want to see. You speak of love, you speak of prayer. They want to know how you love and how you pray, and what compassion means to you. That is how they judge. How you really live the life of a co-worker, a carrier of God's love.'

'Humility always radiates the greatness and glory of God. Through humility we grow in love. Humility is the beginning of sanctity.'

'Don't neglect your family. Be at home. If today so many young people are misled, it is because the grandparents are in some institution, mother is so busy that she is not there when the child comes home from school. There is nobody to receive them, or play with them and they go back into the streets where there are drugs and drinks and so many other things. It is the same everywhere. Everything depends on how much we love one another.'

' Please don't kill the child. I want the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and give him or her to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child. At our children's home in Calcutta alone, we have save 3000 children from abortion. these children have brought such love and joy to their adoptive parents and have grown up so full of love and joy.'

'When we have nothing to give, let us give Him that nothingness.  Let us all remain as empty as possible, so that God can fill us. Even God cannot fill what is already full. God won't force Himself on us. YOu are filling the world with the love God has given you.'

'The very fact that God has placed a certain soul in our way is a sign that God wants us to do something for him or her. It is not chance; it has been planned by God. We are bound by conscience to help him or her.'

'We have small 'listening groups' of co-workers who go to the homes of old people and sit down with them and let them talk. very old people love to have somebody listen to them and let them talk, even if they have to tell the story of thirty years ago. To listen, when nobody else wants to listen, is a very beautiful thing.'

'It is easy to smile at people outside your own home. It is so easy to take care of the people that you don't know well. It is difficult to be thoughtful and kind and smile and be loving to your own in the house day after day, especially when we are tired and in a bad temper or a bad mood. We all have these moments and that is the time that Christ comes to us in a distressing disguise.'

'Once we take our eyes away from ourselves, from our interests, from our own rights, privileges, ambitions - then they will become clear to see Jesus around us.'

'Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for god loves a cheerful giver. he gives most who gives with joy. If in your work you have difficulties accept them with joy, with a big smile. The best way to show your gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy.'