Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Lady Who Snubbed the Rosary

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort writes of a pious but self-willed lady who lived in Rome. She was so devout that she put many a religious to shame.
One day, hearing of the holiness of St. Dominic, great apostle of the Rosary, she decided to make her confession to him. For penance the saint told her to say a Rosary and advised her to make it’s recitation her daily practice.
“But, Father, “ she protested, “I already say so many prayers and practice so many exercises…I walk the Stations of Rome every day, I wear sack-cloth and a hair-shirt, I scourge myself several times a week, and often fast…”

St. Dominic insistently advised that she adopt the recitation of the Rosary, but she would not hear it. Moreover, she left the confessional horrified at the methods of this new spiritual director who wanted to impose on her a devotion for which she had no taste.
One day, when she was saying her prayers, she was shown a vision. In this vision she saw her soul appear before the Supreme Judge. She also saw St. Michael holding the scale of her life. On one side he placed all her prayers and penances, and on the other all her sins and imperfections. Down went the scale on the side of sins and imperfections, outweighing all her good works.
Wide eyed, the good lady cried out for mercy, and turned to Our Lady imploring her help. Our Lady then gently set down on the tray of her good works the only Rosary she had ever said, which was the one St. Dominic had imposed on her as a penance.
This one Rosary was so heavy that it outweighed all her sins as well as good works.
Our Lady then reproved her for having refused to follow the counsel of her son Dominic and for refusing to adopt the practice of the daily recitation of the Rosary.
When the lady came to, she rushed to St. Dominic and casting herself down at his feet, told him what had happened. She begged forgiveness for her unbelief, and promised to say the Rosary faithfully every day. By this means she grew in holiness, and finally attained the glory of eternal life.
Thus says St. Louis de Montfort, “You who are people of prayer, learn from this the power, the value and the importance of this devotion of the holy Rosary when it is said with meditation on the mysteries.”

God could not give more

God in His omnipotence
could not give more,
in His wisdom
He knew not how to give more,
in His riches
He had not more to give,
than the Eucharist.

St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Philip of Heraclea and Companions

Philip, the bishop of Heraclea in Thrace, became a martyr of Christ during the persecution of Diocletian. He was a diligent, courageous shepherd who confirmed the faith of his people, and when induced to flee the persecution, chose to remain.

Severus and Hermes were a priest and deacon who endured tribulation, prison and martyrdom with him. At first, Bassus, the governor, ordered the door of the church sealed, to which Philip retorted: “Do you imagine that God dwells within walls, and not rather in the hearts of men?” and continued to hold assembly outside. Finally the sacred vessels and books were confiscated, the sacred books burned publicly, and the roof of the church incinerated.

Under torture, Philip was invincible. Pointing to a large statue of Hercules, Bassus bid him to only touch it, but the martyr refused saying that graven images had value only to stone-carvers but were helpless to worshipers. Then the deacon Hermes was asked if he would offer sacrifice, he refused.

Bassus’ term as governor being up, another, Justin, a ruthless man, stepped in.

Under Justin, Philip was beaten till his flesh was pulp.

Imprisoned with Hermes and another, the priest Severus, Philip faced martyrdom alongside Hermes by fire. Buried up to their knees, the martyrs were burned. But when the flames died and the smoke cleared, although the martyrs were dead, their bodies were found whole. Justin ordered the bodies to be thrown into the river, but pious citizens fished them out with nets and gave them proper burial.

In prison, the priest Severus rejoicing on hearing of their victory,  begged God to think him not unworthy of following in the footsteps of his bishop and Hermes, and suffered martyrdom the next day.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

O sinner, be not discouraged

O sinner, be not discouraged,
but have recourse to Mary in all your necessities.
Call her to your assistance, for such is the divine Will
that she should help in every kind of necessity.

St. Basil the Great

St. Hilarion

Hilarion was born of pagan parents in the village of Tabatha, south of Gaza. He was converted to Christianity in Alexandria and baptized at fifteen.

Visiting St. Anthony of the Desert, he lived with him for two months, but finding the desert hermit’s cave only a little less populated than the city, because of the continuous flow of people seeking the saint’s help and guidance, he retired into the desert of Majuma, in Palestine.

For years he only ate fifteen figs a day, and for an occupation, he tilled the earth and made baskets. His first abode was a small hut woven of reeds. Later, he made himself a cell, one so small that it was more like a tomb. As the years passed, he found he needed more nourishment than figs alone provided and included a few vegetables and bread in his diet.

In 356 he was informed by revelation of the death of St. Anthony. He was sixty-five and was so afflicted by the number of people who crowded to him that he resolved to leave Palestine. From then on, he became a pilgrim of solitude, seeking to be left alone with God. But though silent, his miracles spoke loudly and people sought him out in whatever wilderness he fled to.

Finally, after trying several remote places, including Sicily, Hilarion wished to go into a country where not even his language was understood. And so his friend, St. Heyschius, took him to Dalmatia. But again miracles defeated the saint’s intent of living alone. Fleeing to Cyprus, his popularity followed him there, so traveling inland a dozen miles and climbing to an inaccessible but pleasant place, he at last found peace and quiet.

After a few years in this spot, he died at the age of eighty. Among those who visited him in his last illness, was St. Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, who later wrote of him to St. Jerome. He was buried near Paphos, but St. Hesychius secretly removed his body to Hilarion’s old home of Majuma.

Friday, October 20, 2017

There is Hope for America

By John Horvat II
America Prays the Rosary In Massive Public Events
So many times, I look out at the general moral rottenness and grieve for the nation. I grieve because our decadence appears so overwhelming and it makes me fear the righteous justice of God who is deeply offended by the sins of men.
However, this October 14, I felt an immense hope for the country. This was because I knew that there were 21, 570 public square rosary rallies at locations nationwide. Where I had thought there was only iniquity, I found signs of the love of God and His Blessed Mother. Where I thought none dared speak, I found people praying in the public square.
The Public Square Rosary Rally campaign is a project of America Needs Fatima, an effort to win the hearts and souls of Americans for Our Lady and her Fatima message. In 2007, America Needs Fatima began asking Americans to pray for the conversion of the nation in the public square every year, on the Saturday closest to October 13. What started with 2,000 rallies has now flowered tenfold. The praying of the rosary in a conspicuous public place could be seen at 21,570 locations on October 14.
The rallies are held in October because it was the month of the “Miracle of the Sun” in Fatima in 1917. This year’s commemoration of the event was made more special by the fact that it marks the miracle’s one-hundred-year anniversary.

My Participation in This Historic Event
My impressions of hope for America were confirmed when I attended a public square rosary rally. It was not just any rosary rally or any public square. I had the great grace to be at America Needs Fatima’s flagship rally across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in New York City. A few hundred faithful gathered in front of the Rockefeller Center, praying in front of one of the nation’s most well-known locations. Passersby from all over the world witnessed the event—some in shock, others in awe.
I must admit that I did not see the conversion of America as a result of our public testimony. I saw many who were indifferent or opposed to our presence on Fifth Avenue. My exposure to the general public at this famous location only confirmed many of the reasons why I grieve for the nation. So many people seem intent not to think about God or Our Lady at all.
Our presence on Fifth Avenue mirrored those of hundreds of thousands of others who occupied public places from coast to coast. I am sure other participants also did not see immediate conversions as a result of their actions. However, millions did witness these scenes of prayerful petition to the Mother of God. I have no doubt it influenced those who were unfavorable, indifferent and sympathetic to our cause. Each took away something from seeing the public display of piety in the public square.

Those Who Disagreed or Who Were Indifferent
I noticed to my great sorrow that there were those who hated what we were doing on Fifth Avenue. These were people who do not grieve for the nation. They told us that they approve of abortion, same-sex “marriage” and other immoral acts that offend God. They did everything to discourage us from continuing, often with signs of rage.
However, I am inclined to think that our action did good even to those who raged against us. They were shocked to see that we were there on what they considered as “their” turf. We shook their certainties in what they believed. We broke in their minds the idea that everyone follows the ways of the world. They left the scene less convinced that they were right. Perhaps a seed was planted that might later bear fruit in times when they suffer and might look to God.
Perhaps the most tragic of the observers of the rallies were the indifferent ones. These looked upon the rallies as a nuisance. Those praying on the sidewalk forced them to change their path. The proceeding interrupted their jogging or cell phone conversation. Immersed in their own little world, these observers resisted our attempts to show that something exists besides themselves.
They pretended not to see the rallies. However, they did and took note in the back of their minds.

Those Who Were Sympathetic
The most touching support for the rallies were those who were sympathetic to its message. They read the rally banner that said: “As human efforts fail to solve America’s key problems, we turn to God, through His Holy Mother asking His urgent help.” They agreed with this message.
These were those who made the sign of the cross or joined the rallies on their own. These were Americans who also grieve for the state of the country. They have suffered from the brutal culture wars that have torn our land and families apart.
To these supporters, the rallies were a sign of great hope. Many would come up and say this is what the country needed. Others were visibly moved by the scene, perhaps because they recalled the Catholic faith of their youth. Some even shed a tear. For these, the rallies represented a ray of hope and joy.

There is Hope for America
The people that participated in the rallies were the most impressive part of the effort. These were Catholics from all walks of life who bravely appeared in the public square to pray for the nation. There were bishops, priests, religious and laity. There were faithful Catholics from all ethnic groups. There were plenty of children. In a country so bitterly divided, everyone at the rallies was united in joy and enthusiasm.
There was a great variety of rallies with all sorts of creative variations. Some were simple affairs of five or ten friends and family assembled at a busy corner. Others were groups of twenty or fifty with songs, chairs or even refreshments. Others were huge affairs with hundreds of people, featuring speeches, musical programs and even theatrical presentations. They all came to call upon Our Lady to save the nation in this hour of great affliction.
For me, this was something that filled me with hope for America. Granted, those who came to rallies were not a majority of the nation. However, so often in biblical contexts, God does not ask for the majority before rescuing His Cause. He usually asks for a tiny but impassioned minority that is willing to serve as the leaven to raise up His people.
In this sense, the rosary rallies were a source of great hope for a nation in need of it. As the rosary banner stated, there are no human solutions to our present problems. We must look to Heaven. On October 14, there were 21,570 points of light. These bright rays of hope pierced and vanquished our vast moral darkness and were welcomed by Our Lady in Heaven.

John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.

When you feel so unworthy a sentiment rising within you...

Beginners in the service of God
sometimes lose confidence when they fall into any fault.
When you feel so unworthy a sentiment rising within you, you must lift your heart to God
and consider that all your faults, compared with divine goodness,
are less than a bit of tattered thread thrown into a sea of fire.
Suppose that the whole horizon, as far as you can see from this mountain, were a sea of fire;
if we cast into it a bit of tattered thread, it will disappear in an instant.
So, when you have committed a fault, humble yourself before God,
and cast your fault into the infinite ocean of charity
and at once it will be effaced from your soul; at the same time all distrust will disappear.

St. Paul of the Cross