Friday, November 17, 2017

I want to adorn myself

I want to adorn myself, not out of worldly pride,
but for the love of God alone – in a fitting manner, however,
so as to give my husband no cause to sin, if something about me were to displease him.
Only let him love me in the Lord, with a chaste, marital affection,
so that we, in the same way, might hope for the reward
of eternal life from Him who has sanctified the law of marriage.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Also known as Elizabeth of Thuringia, she was born in Hungary in 1207. She was a daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary and his wife Gertrude, a member of the family of the Counts of Andechs-Meran; Elizabeth’s brother succeeded his father on the throne as Bela IV; St. Hedwig, the wife of Duke Heinrich I, the Bearded, of Silesia was her mother’s sister, while another saint, Queen St. Elizabeth of Portugal, the wife of the tyrannical King Diniz, was her great-niece.

In 1211 a formal embassy was sent by Landgrave Hermann I of Thuringia to Hungary to arrange a marriage between his eldest son Hermann and Elizabeth, who was then four years old. This marriage was the result of political considerations and intended as a ratification of an alliance against the German Emperor Otto IV, a member of the house of Guelph, who had quarreled with the Church. Not long after the little girl was taken to the Thuringian court to be brought up with her future husband and, in the course of time, to be betrothed to him.

The court of Thuringia was at this period famous for its magnificence. Its centre was the stately castle of the Wartburg, splendidly placed on a hill in the Thuringian Forest near Eisenach, where the Landgrave Hermann lived. Notwithstanding the turbulence and purely secular life of the court and the pomp of her surroundings, little Elizabeth grew up a very religious child with an evident inclination to prayer and pious observances and small acts of self-mortification. These religious impulses were undoubtedly strengthened by the sorrowful experiences of her life.

In the year 1213, Elizabeth’s mother was murdered by Hungarian nobles, probably out of hatred of the Germans. On December 31, 1216, the oldest son and heir of the landgrave, Hermann, who Elizabeth was to marry, died; after this she was betrothed to Ludwig, the second son. It was probably in these years that Elizabeth had to suffer the hostility of the more frivolous members of the Thuringian court, to whom the contemplative and pious child was a constant rebuke. Ludwig, however, must have soon come to her protection against any ill-treatment and his mother, the Landgravine Sophia, a member of the reigning family of Bavaria and a deeply religious and very charitable woman, became a kindly mother to the little Elizabeth.

The political plans of the old Landgrave Hermann involved him in great difficulties and reverses; he was excommunicated, lost his mind towards the end of his life, and died on April 25, 1217, still unreconciled with the Church. He was succeeded by his son Ludwig IV, who, in 1221, was also made regent of Meissen and the East Mark. The same year, Ludwig and Elizabeth were married, the groom being twenty-one years old and the bride fourteen. The marriage was in every respect a happy and exemplary one, and the couple were devotedly attached to each other. Ludwig proved himself worthy of his wife. He gave his protection to her acts of charity, penance, and her vigils, and often held Elizabeth’s hands as she knelt praying at night beside his bed. He was also a capable ruler and brave soldier.

They had three children: Hermann II (1222-41), who died young; Sophia (1224-84), who married Henry II, Duke of Brabant, and was the ancestress of the Landgraves of Hesse; and Gertrude (1227-97), Elizabeth’s third child, who was born several weeks after the death of her father and later in life became abbess of the convent of Altenberg.

The followers of St. Francis of Assisi had made their first permanent settlement in Germany the year of Elizabeth’s marriage to Ludwig. For a time, the German Franciscan Caesarius of Speier was her spiritual director and through him she became acquainted with the ideals of St. Francis. These strongly appealed to her and she began to put them into practice: she observed chastity, according to her state of life, and practiced humility, patience, prayer, and charity. Her position, however, prevented her from living one she ardently desired: voluntary and complete poverty. In 1225, with Elizabeth’s assistance, the Franciscans founded a monastery in Eisenach.

Shortly after their marriage, Elizabeth and Ludwig made a journey to Hungary; Ludwig was often after this employed by the Emperor Frederick II, to whom he was much attached, in the affairs of the empire. During the spring of 1226, when floods, famine, and the plague wrought havoc in Thuringia, Ludwig was in Italy attending the Diet at Cremona on behalf of the emperor. Under these disastrous circumstances Elizabeth assumed control of affairs, distributed alms, giving even state robes and ornaments to the poor. In order to care personally for the unfortunate she built below the castle of Wartburg a hospital with twenty-eight beds and visited the inmates daily to attend to their needs; at the same time she aided nine hundred poor daily. It is this period of her life that has preserved Elizabeth’s renown as the gentle and charitable chételaine of the Wartburg. Upon his return, Ludwig confirmed all that she had done in his absence.

The following year he set out with Emperor Frederick II on a crusade to Palestine but died of the plague on September 11 at Otranto. The news did not reach Elizabeth until October, just after she had given birth to her third child. Upon hearing the news the queen, who was only twenty years old, cried out: “The world with all its joys is now dead to me.” In that winter of 1227, Elizabeth directed the Franciscans to sing a Te Deum and left the castle of Wartburg, accompanied by two female attendants. Her brother-in-law, Heinrich Raspe, now acted as regent for her son Hermann, then only five years old.

At Pope Gregory IX’s recommendation, Master Conrad of Marburg, a well known preacher of the crusade and inquisitor, had become Elizabeth’s spiritual guide. He directed her by the road of self-mortification to sanctity, and after her death was very active in her canonization. Although he forbade her to follow St. Francis in complete poverty as a beggar, by the command to keep her dower she was enabled to perform works of charity and tenderness.

Elizabeth’s aunt, Matilda, Abbess of the Benedictine convent of Kitzingen near Würzburg, took charge of the widowed landgravine and sent her to her uncle Eckbert, Bishop of Bamberg. The bishop, however, was intent on arranging another marriage for her, although during the lifetime of her husband Elizabeth had made a vow of chastity in the event of his death; the same vow had also been taken by her attendants.

While Elizabeth was maintaining her position against her uncle the remains of her husband were brought to Bamberg by his faithful followers who had carried them from Italy. Weeping bitterly, she buried his body in the family vault of the landgraves of Thuringia in the monastery of Reinhardsbrunn. With the aid of Conrad she now received the value of her dower in money, namely two thousand marks; of this sum she divided five hundred marks in one day among the poor. On Good Friday, 1228, in the Franciscan house at Eisenach Elizabeth formally renounced the world; then going to Master Conrad at Marburg, she and her maids received from him the dress of the Third Order of St. Francis, thus being among the first tertiaries of Germany. In the summer of 1228 she built the Franciscan hospital at Marburg and on its completion devoted herself entirely to the care of the sick, especially to those afflicted with the most loathsome diseases. Conrad of Marburg still imposed many self-mortifications and spiritual renunciations, while at the same time he even took from Elizabeth her devoted domestics. Constant in her devotion to God, Elizabeth’s strength was consumed by her charitable labors, and she passed away in 1231 at the age of twenty-four.

Very soon after the death of Elizabeth miracles began to be worked at her grave in the church of the hospital. By papal command examinations were held of those who had been healed and at Pentecost of the year 1235, the solemn ceremony of canonization of the “greatest woman of the German Middle Ages” was celebrated by Pope Gregory IX at Perugia.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Stories of Mary 34: Mary Rewards Childlike Obedience




Mary Rewards
Childlike Obedience


(3 minute read - Enjoy!)

In 1832, the ravaging finger of cholera hit every home and house in the great city of Paris.
This terrible epidemic, a disease without cure, struck hundreds and beleaguered many more. And yet, an exceptional phenomenon was noticed. Those who devoutly wore a certain small medal around their neck were spared or relieved from the epidemic. Symptoms of the plague were observed to leave the victims and withdraw into the gutters of Paris.
What medal, what power, was this that through the course of time triumphed over such devastating odds? The answer lied among the winding streets of Paris, specifically at the bolted doors of a small sanctuary known as the Rue de Bac. It is here, at the convent of the Sisters of Charity, that so many miracles unfold by means of a small object: the Miraculous Medal.
The making of the Miraculous Medal came about through a humble nun, then a novice, whose body now lies beneath the stately main altar, incorrupt and untouched by time. She is none other than Saint Catherine Laboure. At the side of the altar is the chair that the Blessed virgin herself occupied when telling the awestruck novice of her wishes for the making of this medal.
Through the thousands of favors, cures, and conversions this medal has obtained, it quickly acquired its popular name.  And so it was that on my visit to the Rue de Bac I found myself graciously received by the Mother Superior, who allowed me to photograph evidence of the many prodigies that have occurred through the Miraculous Medal.
The kind sister who was assigned to accompany me through the convent told me of a recent miracle that cannot be left unrepeated. When telling it, she lowered her voice as if releasing a state secret; she was apprehensive since the Church had not yet officially accredited this latest phenomenon.

Miraculous Medal & Novena Banner

It all began when a Brazilian couple visited the Rue de Bac.
They came to ask Our lady of the Miraculous Medal to cure their five-year-old girl, who was paralyzed from her waist down. The parents fervently prayed for a cure and, at a certain point, the mother encouraged her child to approach and touch the chair in which the Blessed Virgin had sat.
Without explanation, the child refused to do so. The parents were naturally perplexed. After some time, they left and made their way back to Brazil. On the airplane, the mother questioned her daughter as to why she had refused to approach the chair.
To both parents’ bewilderment, the child responded in a matter of fact voice: “Because,” she said, “the lady told me not to.”
Still puzzled, the parents said nothing further about the matter. Upon arriving in Brazil, however, the little girl stood up on her own and proceeded to leave the airplane. She had been cured!
I was amazed, not to say a little skeptical. The sister, calm and serene at my slight incredulity, merely smiled and said, “My son, every day we receive letters attesting new miracles that have been granted to many.
If we were to put each incident on a small plaque and place these on the wall, I don’t think we would have enough walls. Furthermore,” she went on, “since each case is thoroughly screened by the Church before it is approved as an authentic miracle, we catalogue them in our library in alphabetical archives because there are so many.”
I would have liked to describe in greater detail these miracles, but it is not easy. Nevertheless, they serve to show that whoever prays devoutly and confidently to the Blessed Virgin will never go unheard or unanswered, if it is for your salvation.

Miraculous Medal & Novena Banner


 This “Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary” is taken from Crusade Magazine, March -April, 2001, M-50, p. 36, “Miracle at Rue de Bac” by Felipe Barandiaran.

This pierces My Heart

“The confidence that I truly have the power, the wisdom
and the goodness to aid a soul faithfully in all her miseries,
is the arrow which pierces My Heart,
and does such violence to My love that I can never abandon her.”

Our Lord to St. Gertrude the Great

St. Margaret of Scotland

Born around the year 1046, Margaret was a pious and virtuous English princess of the House of Essex. She and her family fled north to the court of the Scottish King Malcolm Canmore to take refuge from William the Conqueror. Malcolm was captivated by Margaret’s goodness and beauty, and in the year 1070, they were married at the castle of Dunfermline.

A veritable blessing for the people of Scotland, Margaret brought civilization, culture and education to the rough Scots. She benefited her adopted country both academically and spiritually by obtaining good priests and educators for her people. She softened her husband’s temper, cultivated his manners, and helped King Malcolm to become known throughout the land as one of the most virtuous kings of Scotland.

Margaret bore Malcolm six sons and two daughters and reared them with utmost attention to their Christian faith. One of her daughters later married Henry I of England and three of her sons occupied the Scottish throne. Margaret lived a most austere life, giving herself mostly to God by fasting often, denying herself sleep and praying for long periods of time, the king often sharing in her prayers.

In 1093, King William Rufus of England attacked Scotland, and Malcolm was killed in battle. Margaret, already on her deathbed, died four days later. She was buried in the Abbey of Dunfermline, one of the many churches she and her husband had founded. Canonized in 1250, she was named patroness of Scotland in 1673.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Sheer Power of Mary's Name

The Sheer Power of Mary's Name

At the name of Mary, the angels rejoice and the demons scramble.
Thomas a Kempis, author of the famous Imitation of Christ, affirms that:
“The devils fear the queen of heaven so much that by just hearing her name pronounced they fly from the person who utters it like from a burning fire”.
St. Ambrose compares her name to a sweet ointment, because whenever pronounced, it is a healing balm to our sinful souls.
“The name of Mary heals sinners, rejoices hearts and inflames them with God’s love”, says St. Alphonsus Liguori in his Glories of Mary.
Our Blessed Lady revealed to St. Bridget that there is not on earth a sinner, no matter how far he may be from God’s love who, on invoking her name with the resolution to repent, does not cause the devil to flee from him or her. No matter how imprisoned a sinner may be in the devil’s grip, as soon as the latter hears this sinner pronounce the sweet name of Mary, he is obliged to release him or her.
Our Lady also revealed to St. Bridget that in the same way as the devils fly from a person invoking her name, so do the angels approach pious souls that pronounce her name with devotion.
So, fellow sinners, this Lent let us invoke this “air-clearing” sweet and powerful name of Mary often! We and our loved ones will be the better, the freer and the happier for it!
Taken from The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

If we possess this, we possess God

It is by the path of love, which is charity, that
God draws near to man and man to God.
But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell. 
If, then, we possess charity, we possess God,  
for “God is Charity” (1 John 4:8).


St. Albert the Great

St. Albert the Great

Albert Bollstadt was born at the German castle of Lauinger on the River Danube in 1206. Nothing is known of his youth, but he studied at the University of Padua and in 1222, became a Dominican, much to the anger of his family. He taught at Cologne in 1228, and later, at a University in Paris, where he received his doctorate in 1245. He returned to Cologne in 1248 upon the request of his Dominican superiors to establish a school of advanced learning. He became regent of the school there, and during that time taught St. Thomas Aquinas.

Albert was well learned in physics, geography, astronomy, mineralogy, chemistry and biology, and authored many writings on these subjects. His reputation as a scientist grew from his endeavors at Cologne. He carried on experiments in chemistry and physics created a large collection of plants, insects and chemical compounds. However, he is most renowned for allowing the philosophies of Aristotle to become acceptable to Catholicism: with his learned background, he rewrote the works of the great man using the science of theology.

In 1260, he was appointed Bishop of Regensburg but resigned after less than three years. However, he was still called upon to advise Pope Urban IV and was sent on several diplomatic missions. He lived the rest of his life in Cologne, traveling to Lyons in 1274 to take part in the council there.  His final appearance in public was in Paris where he defended the teaching of his late student, Thomas Aquinas.

He died in Cologne on November 15, 1280 and is buried in the Church of St. Andrea. He was canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1931 by Pope Pius XI. For his great knowledge and scientific writings, he is considered the patron of scientists.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

No less a sin

Not to oppose error is to approve it;
and not to defend truth is to suppress it;
and indeed to neglect to confound evil men, when we can do it,
is no less a sin than to encourage them.

Pope St. Felix III

St. Laurence O'Toole

Born in 1128 in County Kildare, Ireland, Laurence was the son of Murtagh, chieftain of the Murrays. When he was ten years old, Laurence was taken hostage by King Dermot McMurrogh of Leinster in a raid and, after two years of mistreatment by his captor, was sent to live with the Bishop of Glendalough.

Guided by the bishop, Laurence became a monk, and in 1161, was consecrated as the Archbishop of Dublin. His first act as archbishop was to begin the reform of the clergy under his charge and require the canons of his church to receive the rule of the regular canons of Arrouaise, a rule reputed for its sanctity and austerity. Laurence himself followed this rule, and as an act of charity, had over thirty poor people dine with him every night. He became beloved for his charity, and was much sought after for his fatherly wisdom and advice.

In 1175, Laurence traveled to England to negotiated a treaty between King Henry II and Rory O’Conor, the new monarch of Ireland who succeeded to the throne after the death of Dermot McMurrogh. Henry was impressed by the holy man’s piety, and Laurence successfully negotiated peace.

Laurence died on November 4, 1180, and was canonized in 1225.
Photo by: Andreas F. Borchert

Monday, November 13, 2017

This is what the powers of hell fear

Men do not fear a powerful hostile army
as much as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary.

St. Bonaventure

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Born on July 15, 1850 into a family of Italian farmers near Lombardi, Frances was the youngest of thirteen children. Her parents, Augustine and Stella Cabrini, died in 1870 when she was eighteen, and Frances lived with her sister, Rosa. Though she was always a devout child, Frances became truly close to God as she grew older, and she became renowned for her holiness.

Around the year 1874, Frances was invited by her parish priest to assist at the House of Providence, an orphanage where she remained for six years. In 1877, she and seven of her close friends took their first vows. That same year, the Bishop asked her to found the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for poor children in schools and hospitals. She and her seven followers organized themselves at an old Franciscan friary at Codogno, and there Frances wrote a rule for the sisters to follow. By 1887, the process for the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to become officially recognized by the Church had begun, and houses were founded all over Italy.

In 1889, Pope Leo XIII asked Frances to travel to New York with six of her sisters to work among the Italian immigrants. When she arrived on March 31, she discovered the plan had fallen through: there was no building in which to teach, no orphanage and no home for the hard-traveled nuns to stay. Archbishop Corrigan apologized and suggested the nuns return to Italy, to which Frances replied, “No, Monsignor, not that. The Pope sent me here, and here I must stay,” and within a few weeks, she made progress with her mission, ultimately establishing schools, hospitals, and orphanages.

In 1892, Frances completed her most well-known achievement: the Columbus Hospital in New York. This success led to houses and schools being opened in Brazil, Chile and Europe. By 1907, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart were officially recognized by the Catholic Church. Their small community had grown to over a thousand, and free schools, orphanages and convents had been established in eight countries.

Her body had been failing for six years, but Frances’s death came suddenly. She died in the convent in Chicago on December 22, 1917. She was canonized in 1946.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Why we suffer

Without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace.
The gift of grace increases as the struggles increase.

St. Rose of Lima

St. Josaphat Kunsevich

John Kunsevich was born in Lithuania around the year 1580. His father, a burgess for a wealthy family, raised his son as a Catholic and instilled in him a great love for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. As a young man John spent much of his time learning Church Slavonic as he desired to assist and participate more fully in the divine worship that he loved so much. In 1604, he entered the Monastery of the Holy Trinity at Vilna taking the name Josaphat, and dedicated his life to uniting the Ruthenians with the Roman Church.

Josaphat was ordained a deacon and soon after, a priest, becoming widely known as a Catholic reformer. While retaining unity with Rome, Josaphat opposed the total Latinization of the Ruthenian peoples and the suppression of Byzantine traditions. He was beloved for his great sermons and preaching, eventually becoming abbot of the monastery in Vilna. By 1617, he was consecrated Bishop of Vitebsk, and after the death of the archbishop a year later, succeeded him. He immediately sought unity with Rome, and began to reinstate Catholic practices that had fallen into disuse. By 1620, he succeeded in the endeavor.

Soon after Josaphat’s great victory, however, his work began to unravel. Meletius Smotritsky, the Archbishop of Polotsk, claimed that Josaphat’s goal was to completely eliminate Byzantine traditions in the name of Catholic unity, and Latinize all Ruthenians. Meletius gained a number of followers and so frenzied was the agitation against him that a plan was contrived to kill Josaphat. As he walked to church for morning prayers, he was attacked by the group of Meletius’ followers. He was beaten and shot as his attackers cried, “Kill the papist!” His mutilated body was dragged to the river Dvina and carelessly thrown into the water.

St. Josaphat was canonized in 1867, the first saint of the Eastern churches to be officially canonized.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

What we need most

What we need most in order to make progress is
to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue,
for the language He best hears is silent love.

St. John of the Cross

St. Martin of Tours

Martin was born in German Sabaria about the year 316. His father, a military tribune, was transferred to Pavia when Martin was still quite young and the boy accompanied him to Italy. Upon reaching adolescence, Martin was enrolled in the Roman army in accordance with the recruiting laws of the time. Touched by grace at an early age, he was among the first attracted to Christianity, which had been in favor in the military camps since the conversion of Emperor Constantine.

Martin's regiment was soon sent to Amiens in Gaul, and this town became the scene of the celebrated "legend of the cloak." One bitterly-cold winter day, Martin met a shivering and half-naked beggar at the gates of the city. Moved with compassion, Martin divided his coat into two parts and gave one to the poor man. The part he kept for himself became the famous relic preserved in the oratory of the Frankish kings and known to all as “Saint Martin’s cloak.”

Martin, who was still only a catechumen, soon received Baptism and was finally released from military service at Worms on the Rhine. Freed from his obligations, he hastened to set out to Poitiers to enroll himself among the disciples of St. Hilary, the wise and pious bishop whose reputation as a theologian was already spreading beyond the frontiers of Gaul. However, he desired to see his parents again and returned to Lombardy across the Alps. The inhabitants of this region were infested with Arianism and bitterly hostile towards Catholicism. Martin did not conceal his faith and was very badly treated by order of Bishop Auxentius of Milan, the leader of the heretical sect in Italy. He was very desirous of returning to Gaul, but learning that the Arians also persecuted their opponents in that country and had even succeeded in exiling St. Hilary to the Orient, he decided to seek shelter on the island of Gallinaria, now Isola d’Albenga, in the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

As soon as Martin learned that an imperial decree had authorized St. Hilary to return to Gaul, he hastened to the side of his chosen master at Poitiers in 361. After having obtained permission from him to embrace the life of a hermit, which he had adopted in Gallinaria, he settled in a deserted region now called Ligugé. His example soon drew a great number of monks who settled near him. Such was the beginning of the celebrated Benedictine Abbey of Ligugé. Martin remained about ten years in this solitude and often left it to preach the Gospel in the central and western parts of Gaul where the rural inhabitants were still plunged in the darkness of idolatry and given up to all sorts of gross superstitions. The memory of these apostolic journeys survives to our day in the numerous local legends where Martin is the hero and which roughly indicate the routes that he followed.

When St. Lidorius, second Bishop of Tours, died in 371 or 372, the clergy of that city desired to replace him by the famous hermit of Ligugé. But, as Martin remained deaf to the prayers of the deputies who brought him this message, it was necessary to resort to a ruse to overcome his resistance. A rich citizen of Tours by the name of Rusticius went and begged him to come to attend to his wife who was in the throes of death. Without suspicion, Martin followed him in all haste, but hardly had he entered the city when, in spite of the opposition of a few ecclesiastical dignitaries, popular acclamation constrained him to become Bishop of Tours.
Consecrated on July 4, Martin fulfilled the duties to his office with all the energy and dedication that he had demonstrated in the past. He did not however change his way of life. He fled from the distractions of the large city and settled himself in a small cell a short distance from Tours, beyond the Loire. Other hermits soon joined him there and thus was gradually formed a new monastery that surpassed the Ligugé and came to be known as the Majus Monasterium, the “great monastery” or Marmoutier.

Thus, by an untiring zeal and great simplicity Martin administered to his pastoral duties and so succeeded in sowing Christianity throughout the region of Touraine. Nor was it a rare occurrence for him to leave his diocese when he thought that his appearance in some distant locality might produce some good. He even went several times to Trier, where the emperors had established their residence in order to plead the interests of the Church or to ask pardon for some condemned person.

His role in the matter of the Priscillianists and Ithacians was especially remarkable. Martin hurried to Trier, not to defend the Gnostic and Manichaean doctrines of Priscillian, but to remove him from the secular jurisdiction of the emperor. The Council of Saragossa had justly condemned the Spanish heresiarch Priscillian and his partisans and angry charges were brought before Emperor Maximus by some orthodox bishops of Spain, led by Bishop Ithacius.

Maximus at first consented to Martins’s request but when he departed, Maximus yielded to the solicitations of Ithacius and ordered Priscillian and his followers to be beheaded. Deeply grieved, Martin refused to communicate with Ithacius. However, when he went again to Trier a little later to ask pardon for two rebels, Narses and Leucadius, Maximus would only pardon them on the condition that Martin make his peace with Ithaeius. To save the lives of his clients, Martin consented to this reconciliation, but afterwards reproached himself bitterly for this act of weakness.

After a last visit to Rome, Martin went to Candes, one of the religious centers created by him in his diocese and there he was stricken with a malady, which ended his life. Ordering himself to be carried into the presbytery of the church, he died there at the age of about eighty-one, with the same exemplary spirit of humility and mortification that he had always practiced in life.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Victory

No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross.
No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ.

Pope St. Leo the Great

Pope St. Leo the Great

Although he descended of a noble Tuscan family, Leo was born in the Eternal City. He was already known outside of Rome even as a deacon under Pope Celestine I, and had some relations with Gaul during this period. During the pontificate of Pope Sixtus III, Leo was sent to Gaul by the Emperor Valentinian III to settle a dispute and bring about a reconciliation between Aëtius, the chief military commander of the province, and the chief magistrate, Albinus. This commission is a proof of the great confidence placed in the clever and able deacon by the Imperial Court. While Leo was away in Gaul, the Pope died on August 19, 440 and the deacon-delegate was chosen as his successor. Returning to Rome, Leo was consecrated as Vicar of Christ on September 29 of the same year, and governed the Church for the next twenty-one years.

Whilst the Eastern Empire was distracted by heretical factions, the Western was harassed by barbarian hordes. Halted in his ruinous advance through Gaul by the Roman general Aëtius, Attila the Hun turned south into Italy. Leaving blood and desolation in his wake, he sacked Milan, razed Pavia and laid waste whole provinces. The weak Emperor Valentinian III shut himself up in Ravenna, and the Romans, in the utmost terror, expected to see the barbarian invaders speedily before their gates. Such was the state of affairs when Pope Leo went to meet Attila.

They found the proud tyrant near Ravenna and contrary to the general expectation he received the pope with great honor, gave him a favorable audience, and, at his suggestion, concluded a treaty of peace with the empire on the condition of an annual tribute. It is said that Attila saw two venerable personages, supposed to be the apostles Peter and Paul, standing on the side of the pope whilst he spoke. The barbarian king immediately commanded his army to forbear all hostilities, and soon after recrossed the Alps, and retired beyond the Danube. On his way home “the Scourge of God” was seized with a violent vomiting of blood, of which he died in 453.

It was the glory of this saintly pope to have checked Attila’s fury and protected Rome, when it was in no condition to be defended. Pope Leo rose to its defense once again in the year 455, this time prevailing upon the Arian Vandal king Genseric to restrain his troops from slaughter and burning, and to content himself with the plunder of the city, thus demonstrating by his example that even in the worst of times, a holy pastor is the greatest comfort and support of his flock.

His militant vigilance was not limited to the defense of merely earthly treasures, but was above all active in the spiritual realm. Leo’s chief aim was to sustain the unity of the Church. Not long after his elevation to the Chair of Peter, he saw himself compelled to combat energetically the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West.

Former adherents of Pelagius (who denied original sin and its effects and believed in man’s self-justification without grace) who had been admitted to communion without an explicit abjuration of their heresy were directed to do so publicly before a synod and to subscribe to an unequivocal confession of Faith.

He emphatically warned the Christians of Rome to be on their guard against the Gnostic teachings of the Manichæans who, among other tenets, denied the divinity of Jesus Christ, taught an elaborate form of dualism, professed salvation through knowledge and repudiated marriage as evil. His pastoral zeal in waging war against Manichæism was ably followed up by a number of imperial decrees and the edict of June, 445 establishing civil punishments for the obdurate adherents of the sect.

In Spain, the heresy of Priscillianism still survived, and for some time had been attracting fresh adherents. In response to a letter from Bishop Turibius of Astorga regarding the spread of its false teachings in his jurisdiction, Pope Leo wrote a lengthy refutation of its errors and ordered that a council of neighboring bishops should be convened to determine to what extent the heresy had contaminated the hierarchy of the surrounding provinces. He also called for a universal synod of all the main pastors in the Spanish provinces. These two synods were in fact held in Spain to deal with the Gnostic-Manichæan doctrines of the Priscillianists.

In 448, Eutyches appealed to the pope after he had been excommunicated by Flavian, the Patriarch of Constantinople, on account of his Monophysite views which denied the hypostatic union of Christ and the fact that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. In response, Pope Leo wrote a sublime dogmatic letter to Flavian, concisely setting forth and confirming the doctrine of the Incarnation, and the union of the Divine and human natures in the one Person of Christ.

In Leo’s conception of his duties as supreme pastor, the maintenance of strict ecclesiastical discipline occupied a prominent place. This was particularly important at a time when the continual ravages of the barbarians were introducing disorder into all conditions of life, and the rules of morality were being seriously violated. Leo used his utmost energy in maintaining this discipline, insisted on the exact observance of the ecclesiastical precepts, and did not hesitate to rebuke when necessary.

The primacy of the Roman Church was thus manifested under this pope in the most various and distinct ways and we cannot but admire the clear, positive, and systematic manner in which Leo, fortified by the primacy of the Holy See, took part in this difficult entanglement.

Leo was no less active in the spiritual formation of souls, and his sermons are remarkable for their profundity, clearness of diction, and elevated style. Five of these discourses, delivered on the anniversaries of his consecration, manifest his lofty conception of the dignity of his office, as well as his thorough conviction of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome.

Leo died on November 10, 461, and was buried in the vestibule of Saint Peter’s on the Vatican. In 688 Pope Sergius had his remains transferred to the basilica itself, and a special altar erected over them. They rest today in Saint Peter’s, beneath the altar specially dedicated to St. Leo. In 1754 Benedict XIV exalted him to the dignity of Doctor of the Church.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Miracles Attributed to the Miraculous Medal

From America, Europe and Asia


The United States:

Texas (1841)
From a letter written by Bishop Odin, Vicar Apostolic of Texas:
April 11, 1841
Once I had the occasion to see, in the town of Nacogdoches, how much Mary Immaculate deigns to hear those who place all their confidence in her. A lady from Maryland was given a Miraculous Medal by her confessor as she departed from her home state to go to live in Texas. As he gave it to her, he recommended she always pray: “O Mary conceived without sin, etc.” and told her that this good Mother would not permit her to die without receiving the sacraments.
She was faithful to his advice. Having been bedridden for four years, many times her friends thought her last moment had come. However, her confidence in Mary Immaculate always made her hope she would have the joy of receiving the sacraments before departing this life. As soon as she heard of our arrival, she immediately sent us a message. She received the Holy Viaticum and Extreme Unction and died some days later full of gratitude to her Heavenly benefactress.

Louisiana (1865)
In the hospital of the Daughters of Charity in New Orleans, a nun tried to instruct a Protestant in the truths of the Faith and to dispose him to receive Baptism. However, he did not want to speak about the subject.
One day she showed him a Miraculous Medal and explained its origin to him. He seemed to pay attention, but when she offered it to him, he became annoyed and snapped angrily: “Take that away, this Virgin is just an ordinary woman.” “I will leave it on the table,” the nun replied, “I am certain that you will think about what I said.” He did not answer her, but, in order not to see the medal, he placed his bible on top of it.
Every day the nun, with the pretext of cleaning the table, made sure the medal was still there. Days passed and the sickness became increasingly worse.
One night when he was suffering acutely, he saw a marvelous light around his bed, while the rest of the room was in total darkness. Surprised, he struggled to get up in spite of his frailty and turned up the flame in the gas lamp to see if he could discover what this strange light was. He could find nothing and returned to his bed.
Moments later he noticed that the light came from the medal. He then took it into his hands and kept it there the rest of the night. As soon as the nun’s rising bell rang at 4 o’clock in the morning, he called the nurse and asked him to tell the nun that he wanted to be baptized.
They advised the chaplain immediately who exclaimed “That is impossible!” He had spoken with the sick man many times and knew how he felt about the matter.
Nonetheless, he went to him and found him perfectly disposed and receptive to him. He baptized him and gave him the sacraments, and a little while later the sick man died, praising God and the Holy Virgin for the graces he had received.

New York (1866)
A girl, some twenty years old, came to the hospital covered with the most repugnant scabs which the doctors had said were incurable. The nun, who cared for her wounds, one day told her that the Most Holy Virgin had the power to cure her and that, if she wanted to wear the medal and ask for a cure, she would obtain it. Knowing the doctors had given up, she answered roughly: “I do not believe in your Holy Virgin, nor do I want a medal.” “Very well then,” the nun answered, “in that case, keep your wounds.”
Some days later, she asked for the medal and placed it around her neck, and prepared to be baptized. Shortly thereafter she left the hospital in perfect health to the great astonishment of the doctors who had been unanimous in considering her sickness incurable.


Europe:

France (1834)
Father Bégin, an eyewitness to this cure that took place in Saint-Maur where he was chaplain, wrote a report in which he attested to the following facts:
a) that the sick person was gravely ill;
b) that she was cured on March 14, 1834; and
c) that she declared that she only used the medal and prayer.
One hundred witnesses from the nursing home signed this document.
The bishop of Châlons also added his signature to the document:
“We certify that the testimony of Father Bégin should be taken as wholly trustworthy, as well as that of the nuns and so many others who were eye witnesses and spoke according to their consciences without any other interest except that of stating the truth. Châlons, May 30, 1834 + M.S.F.V., Bishop of Châlons.”

Mrs. C.H., a 70-year-old widow, had been admitted in impoverished circumstances to the nursing home of Saint-Maur because of a bad fall that occurred on August 7, 1833. She walked with great difficulty and even with the help of a crutch needed someone’s arm for support. She also found it hard to sit and only with great difficulty was she able to rise again. It was almost impossible for her to climb stairs, as she had to hold on to whatever she could to do so. She could not bend down or kneel, and had to drag her left leg, as that was where the problem lay.
At the beginning of January, 1834, she was told of a medal that was reported to be miraculous. Described as having, on one side, Mary crushing the infernal serpent and on the reverse of the medal were depicted the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and the letter “M” with a cross on top, she also heard of marvelous things that had happened to those who wore it with confidence.
From that moment she felt her heart enkindled with the consoling hope of finding some relief that the wearing of this medal promised to her, and she could not wait for the moment she would receive one. Finally, on March 6, she received the much longed-for medal as a gift from Heaven. She then went to confession in order to dispose herself to receive the favor she desired.
The following day, the first Friday of the month, after receiving Holy Communion, she started a novena to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. She venerated the medal, which she wore around her neck, twenty times a day. In a short while, she obtained a happy answer to her requests. After only seven days of the novena, she felt free from the painful infirmities she had suffered so cruelly for seven months.
We cannot describe the surprise and admiration of everyone on the morning of March 14th upon seeing this woman walk about unaided when the previous evening she had been crippled. She was able to bend down, kneel, go up and down stairs. Everyone cried out: “Miracle!” and was greatly edified by such a prodigious cure. They congratulated her on such a great grace from God and Mary Most Holy.
The Mother Superior, who had taken care of her innumerable times since she had been taken ill and daily witnessed her sufferings, wanted a Te Deum to be sung by the whole community in the house chapel to celebrate solemnly this extraordinary grace. The sick lady remained cured and no longer felt the effects of her former infirmity.

Italy (1836)
Testimony of a parish priest of Bologna on February 8, 1836.
There was a young man in my parish, 27 years of age, who lived a dissolute life. In order to have fewer impediments to his excesses, he had left the family home. Sometime later he became gravely ill with pneumonia. Dr. Giovanni Pulioli, a distinguished doctor, treated him; but the illness was stronger than the medicine of the day.
The youth was left in a lamentable state, unable to move. By then he was living scandalously with a woman and had declared, from the beginning of the illness, that he would not consent to a priest being called.
My chaplain went to visit him and exhorted him to put an end to the scandal through marriage; but he failed to convince the young man. I went there and spoke with him about legitimizing the union, rather than breaking it up; but I found him to be in a state of complete religious indifferentism.
Despite my every effort to persuade him, I also failed. I then thought it better to allow him to reflect a little while and to return another day to find out his decision. In the meantime, I asked him to have recourse to the Most Holy Virgin, refuge of sinners; and, without telling him, I placed a Miraculous Medal in his pillow and departed.
I did not need to return to the house of my own accord; the sick youth himself called me through his mother with whom he had already reconciled himself. He told me that he had reasons, which were justified, for not speaking personally with the woman with whom he had been living, and requested I ask her to leave. The unfortunate woman condescended and left.
Once I had accomplished this, I told the sick youth how happy I was. When I presented the medal to him, he began to kiss it with feelings of sincere gratitude, even though the state of his health was extremely grave. He then showed signs of sincere repentance and confessed his sins, received the Holy Viaticum and Extreme Unction, because we expected him to die at any moment. This took place on January 19, 1836.
The young man felt the greatest tranquility, which he attributed to the Most Holy Virgin. From then on he started to feel better and had totally recuperated within a few days. He still perseveres in his good resolutions and is full of love for his Heavenly benefactress whose medal he keeps as something precious, frequently kissing it with great devotion.
I myself witnessed this fact and I write not only with the young man’s approval, but at his request, so that it may serve for the greater glory of God that, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, this miracle took place. To this written testimony I have appended the medical report proving the sickness and the cure.

Belgium (1836)
On November 9, 1835, Rosalie Ducas from Jauchelette, near Jodoigne, suddenly lost her sight. She was only four and a half years old, in perfect health with no signs of illness. Any light or breeze disturbed her to the point of having to cover her face with a cloth folded in four. The pains the child suffered day and night caused everyone much grief.
At this point, a pious person brought a blessed Miraculous Medal. The mother took it and started a novena. She put another medal around the girl’s neck on June 11, 1836 at about 6 o’clock in the evening. By midnight the girl had stopped complaining. On the fourth and fifth day of the novena, her eyes opened. The parents redoubled their supplications to the Most Holy Virgin. On the ninth day in the afternoon, the girl regained her sight completely to the great surprise of the neighbors and all those who witnessed the event.
The parish priest of Jodoigne-la-Soveraine, who had given the medal to the family, went to see the girl who lived only a mile and a half away, and testified that she had recovered her sight completely. No pain whatsoever was left. These facts are known by everyone and attest to the honor we owe to the Virgin Mary.


Asia:

China (1838)
Father Perboyre told the next story on August 10, 1839. It is interesting to mention that this missionary was taken prisoner one month later out of hatred for religion. He confessed the Faith generously for a whole year amidst horrible tortures and then had the joy of receiving the martyr’s palm on September 11, 1840.
While I was on mission in the Christian community of Honan in November 1837, the Christians there presented a woman to me who had been suffering from mental confusion for eight months. They added that she ardently desired to make her confession to me even though she was incapable of doing so and implored me not to deny her this consolation that she had so much at heart.
Her unfortunate state really made the exercise of my ministry appear futile. But I heard her confession out of compassion and as she departed I gave her a Miraculous Medal so she would be under the protection of the Virgin. She did not understand the value of this holy remedy, but she soon recognized its virtue as she started to get better.
Her progress was such that she was another person after four or five days. Her mental confusion, her worries that had caused her mortal anguish—in which I had noticed a diabolical influence—gave way to common sense, tranquility and happiness.

Macau (1841)
Letter from a missionary in Macau dated August 25, 1841.
A widow who had been brought up as a pagan had only one son. One day she saw him come under the power of the devil, in other words, possessed. Everyone fled from him as he wandered through the fields making fearful cries. If someone dared to grab him, the boy would immediately throw the person to the ground.
The poor mother was full of pain and sorrow, but Divine Providence had pity on this unfortunate family. One day the boy was more tormented than ever, not knowing where he went and brutally repelling all who drew near. In his wanderings he came upon a Christian, who, animated by a lively faith and seeing that the devil tyrannically mistreated the unfortunate boy, told those who were close by to leave. He said that only he was able to calm him down, hold him and return him to his mother. This manner of speaking surprised the pagans. They warned him of the danger, but let him get on with it.
This Christian carried a Miraculous Medal and took it into his hand. Drawing near to the possessed boy, he showed it to him, ordering the devil to leave him alone and depart, which happened immediately. The boy, seeing the Christian with the medal, threw himself to the ground before this image without knowing what it was. The pagans, who had watched him from afar, were astounded.
The Christian then said to him that he should rise and follow him. In this manner he brought him to his mother’s house. As soon as the boy saw her he said: “Do not cry, I am free. The devil left as soon as he saw this medal.”
Imagine the joy of the mother upon hearing these words. She did not know whether or not she was dreaming. The Christian certified the truth of what the boy was saying and told her what had happened. He added that her son would be free forever as long as he renounced the idols and became a Christian. The boy sincerely promised to do so and both of them began removing the false gods from a sort of altar where they were kept.


Conclusion:
I hope these marvelous stories may also help you, dear reader!
The Miraculous Medal continues to multiply its prodigies even today. We know of countless other impressive stories of conversions, graces of moral regeneration, cures of attachment to vices, and infallible protection against the action of the devil. There are innumerable accounts of cures and relief procured in every kind of illness, as well as assistance to expectant mothers and of astounding protection against assault, robbery, kidnapping, accidents and other dangers. And who can count those who have found employment and resolved financial difficulties by means of this devotion? Even in our days, so lacking in true Faith, the facts that take place never cease to surprise and edify us.
When she revealed the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady clearly promised that “everyone who wears it, when it is blessed, will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around their neck.” She did not put restrictive conditions; she said “everyone.” And then completed the phrase with: “The graces will be abundant to those who use it with confidence.”
We all need great graces, especially in these difficult and critical times. Let us turn to the Virgin Mother of God in all our needs and concerns, and ask her with a childlike confidence to answer our prayers.
Dear reader, are you not also in need of a particular grace? Or maybe someone in your family is in need of one, or one of your friends? It was for people like you that the Virgin, the best of all mothers, in her unfathomable mercy, gave the Miraculous Medal.




READ:  Conversion on Death Row
PRAY:  Novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Without noise of words

Jesus needs neither books nor Doctors of Divinity
in order to instruct souls; He, the Doctor of Doctors,
He teaches without noise of words.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Dedication of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome

Although most Catholics believe the Basilica of St. Peter’s to be the main church of the Pope, it is not: St. John Lateran, also called the Church of Holy Savior or the Church of St. John the Baptist, is the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, or the Pope’s church. “The Lateran” was built on land that the Emperor Constantine received from the wealthy and virtuous Lateran family. He, in turn, gave the land to the Church, who constructed the first basilica there in the early fourth century.

Consecrated in 324 by Pope Sylvester, the Lateran Basilica was where cardinals were consecrated to the papacy until the fourteenth century when Pope Gregory XI returned the papal enclave from Avignon in France to Rome and arrived to find the Lateran and the nearby papal palace ruined beyond repair. The Lateran was not restored until many years later, when Pope Innocent X built the current structure in 1646. One of the most marvelous and imposing churches in Rome, it has five large statues of Christ, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and twelve Doctors of the Church, and holds beneath the high altar what is left of the wooden table which St. Peter himself used as an altar to celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Since the Basilica of the Lateran is officially the Pope’s cathedral, it is also considered the parish church of all Catholics. It is called “omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput,” or "the mother and mistress of all the churches of Rome and of the world."
Photo by: Grenouille vert

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Have confidence

Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin.
All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly.
Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God.
Hope and have confidence in confession.

St. Isidore of Seville

St. Godfrey of Amiens

Godfrey was born about the year 1065 in Soissons, France. When he was only five years old, he was placed in the care of his godfather, the abbot of the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Quentin. Here he grew up and, in due course, became a monk and was ordained to the priesthood. In 1096 he was made the abbot of Nogent-sous-Coucy, a dilapidated abbey in the province of Champagne, where the community numbered a mere half a dozen monks who had become very lax in their discipline.

He rebuilt, restored and revitalized the abbey. Under Godfrey’s direction, monastic discipline and order were restored and the community began to flourish. News of his success spread and Godfrey was urged to accept the position of superior of the renowned Abbey of Saint-Remi. This he refused, saying “God forbid I should ever desert a poor bride by preferring a rich one!”

In 1097, Godfrey was offered the archbishopric of Rheims. This he likewise refused, counting himself as unworthy of this new honor as the previously-offered one.

When, in 1104, he was offered the bishopric of Amiens and once more refused the ecclesiastical dignity, he was ordered by the papal prelate to accept it.

A zealous reformer, as Bishop of Amiens, his strict discipline and rigid austerity – first with himself and then with those under his charge – his insistence upon clerical celibacy and his unrelenting struggle against drunkenness and simony, aroused bitter opposition among the lax clergy and even caused attempts upon his life. Godfrey ardently desired to resign and retire as a Carthusian monk during this time, nevertheless, he persevered. Finally, in 1114, he withdrew to the Grand-Chartreuse but, within a few months, the demands of his people won out and he was ordered by a Council held at Soissons and by King Philip himself to return to his diocese. Resigned to the will of God, Godfrey returned to his episcopal see.

While on his way to visit his metropolitan in 1115, Godfrey died at the Abbey of Saint-Crépin near Soissons. He was buried at the abbey and his tomb became renowned for the many miracles wrought there.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Clothed in Light



Imagine being just five feet away from Our Lady! Wouldn’t it be great to be but five feet away from her? But, what about having Our Lord within us? If only we would think of this when we receive Holy Communion.

She was “a Lady dressed all in white, more brilliant than the sun, shedding a light that was clearer and more intense than that of a crystal goblet filled with crystalline water and struck by the rays of the most brilliant sun.”
Her face, indescribably beautiful, was “neither sad nor happy, but serious,” with an air of mild reproach.
Her hands, joined together as if she were praying, were resting on her breast and pointing upward. A rosary hung from her right hand. Her clothes seemed to be made of light. The tunic was white. The veil, white and edged with gold, covered the head of the Virgin and descended to her feet. Neither her hair nor her ears could be seen..... 
Description of Our Lady by Sr. Lucia

As Sister Lucia recounts, when Our Lady appears, everything is white, everything is clean and everything is pure. She is, after all, the Virgin of virgins; entirely pure. The hymn Ave Maris Stella reminds us that Mary became the gate of heaven, while remaining a virgin. That is to say, it was through her that Christ, Our Lord, came into the world and yet her virginity suffered nothing.  Always entirely pure, she attracts us by her purity.
Also, we learn the way of an apostle through the example of Our Lady.  When she appeared, she attracted us to the beauty of purity.  Let us never make the mistake of adopting questionable customs as far as purity goes, in order that people will accept us.  No! To invite people to be pure, we must first show them the beauty of purity.  Impurity seeks all darkness to hide its evil deeds but purity loves daylight and thrives in open air.
At Fatima, Our Lady spoke to an impure world using all the symbols of purity.  Was that an invitation only to the little shepherds or was it to the world? She was dressed in white and bathed in light.
This reminds us of when Our Lord spoke of the lilies of the field, “But I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these” (Matt. 6:29)
Likewise, no one in all his or her glory was ever dressed as Our Lady was: in light.


The preceding text is taken from an informal address Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on June 5, 1984. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision. –Ed

I am worried about America!

I am worried about America! I am not so much
worried about its politics and economics,
important though they be: I am worried about its soul.
After all, politics and economics are determined
by the sense of values which underlies them.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. Willibrord

Willibrord was born in 658 in Northumbria. When he was seven he was sent to a monastery governed by St. Wilfrid, where he remained for thirteen years until he traveled to Ireland to join St. Egbert and St. Wigbert to study in monastic schools.

He studied in Ireland for the next twelve years, receiving ordination and extensive missionary training. In 690, he set out with a dozen companions for Friesland, or Frisia, to evangelize. In 693, he visited Rome to seek approval from Pope Sergius for his labors. Approval was granted and Willibrord was given relics to be used for the consecration of new churches. In 695, Willibrord again visited the Eternal City, this time with a letter of recommendation from the Frankish leader Pepin of Heristal. Willibrord returned to Frisia a consecrated archbishop, built the Church of Our Savior in Utrecht and in the year 696, established his episcopal see there.

Some years later, Willibrord founded the monastery of Echternach in Luxembourg to serve as a center of missionary endeavors and extended the efforts of missionaries into Denmark and Upper Friesland. Daily he faced menacing dangers from outraged pagans, including one who nearly murdered him after he tore down a pagan idol. In 714, the pagan Radbod reclaimed the extensive territories acquired by Pepin, and Willilbrord watched as all of the progress he had made become nearly undone. However, after Radbod's death, Willibrord began again with great enthusiasm, receiving invaluable assistance from St. Boniface (who spend three years in Friesland before going to Germany) and other colleagues, this time expanding into Holland, Zeeland and the Netherlands.

Willibrord died on retreat at the monastery of Echternach on November 7, 739 when he was eighty-one years old. For his apostolic efforts, he is called the Apostle of the Frisians.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Rosary Saves Soldiers in Kuwait

Veronica first learned of the Rosary as a small girl watching her father fingering the beads. At first she thought he was “playing” with the shiny strand, but later, realizing the full meaning of her father’s action, and under the promptings of Grace, she became a devotee of the Rosary as well.
The recitation of the Rosary was always a great help to Veronica, who felt the Blessed Mother’s protection in her life. But then, when her youngest son, Randy, was stationed in Kuwait during Desert Storm, the devotion was to play a crucial role.
While attending a convention of Catholic Women, and greatly concerned for her son’s safety, she confided to a presiding priest that Randy was serving overseas. The good priest then suggested she and others in the group join him in praying a Rosary for Randy’s safety and other pressing intentions. Something compelled Father and the ladies not only to say five decades, but to persevere for several hours.
Two weeks later Veronica received a letter from her son in which he described that he and fellow soldiers had been in a harrowing conflict. As the bullets whizzed by, he feared for his and his buddies’ lives and prayed with all his heart. Suddenly, a great calm came over him and he heard a voice, “from the sky” that assured him they would be alright.
Conferring dates and times, mother and son marvelled at finding that the time in which he and the others were in dire peril was the same day and hour Father, Veronica and her friends were persevering in reciting the Rosary.

Note: Based on a story from 101 Inspirational Stories of the Rosary by Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC

How to deal with evil

To tolerate an evil is to consent to its existence.
Just as good produces good, evil yields evil.
When we are obliged to tolerate something evil, we must limit
the evil effects
of this tolerance to the greatest degree possible
and diligently prepare the conditions for eradicating the evil,
rendering further toleration unnecessary.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

St. Illtud

Brittany, on the west coast of France, was so named for the Britons – primarily from Wales, Cornwall and Devon – that settled there from the island of Britain during the fifth to the seventh centuries. When the Roman legions withdrew from Gaul in the middle of the fifth century, the long-established trade connections between the two peoples were reinforced by religious links from the mainland and the migrant Britons that settled in the region left a lasting impression of themselves upon the language, place-names and traditions of Brittany.

Illtud was the son of a minor Breton prince named Bican Farchog who lived with his wife in Brittany during the sixth century. His father was King Arthur’s uncle on his mother’s side, thus making him and Illtud cousins. It was while visiting his royal cousin that the young Illtud met and married a woman named Trynihid. Later, he crossed over to Britain while serving in Arthur’s army, and subsequently joined the military services of a chieftain in Glamorgan in southern Wales. As a warrior he distinguished himself and gained renown for his military prowess earning for himself the title of “Illtud the Knight.”

Grief-stricken by the loss of several of his closest friends in a hunting accident, the soldier-knight was miraculously converted by St. Cadoc, who advised Illtud to leave the military and become a hermit. For a short time he lived with his wife in a reed hut by the river Nadafan, before an angel appeared to him, counseling him to leave her. He received the monk’s tonsure and was ordained by Dubricius and lived in austerity and solitude until disciples began to gather round about him. He then established a monastery, which soon flourished and became the first great monastic school of Wales, known as Llanilltud Fawr.

According to legend, this school was situated on a small waste island, which, at his prayer, was miraculously reunited with the mainland. The story of the miracle may have been inspired by the fact that the saint was skilled in agriculture, for he is supposed to have introduced the Welsh to better methods of farming and to have helped them reclaim land from the sea.

Renowned for his wisdom and piety, Illtud is considered one of the greatest of the Welsh saints.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

November is the Month of the Holy Souls



The powerful intercession of the souls in purgatory
Besides being a spiritual work of mercy and a powerful reminder of the afterlife, devotion to souls in Purgatory also affords us invaluable intercession as demonstrated by Church Tradition.
According to the dogma of the Communion of Saints, they form a part of the Church (called the Church Suffering) and are therefore united to us, and can intercede for us.


Examples of this abound in Church History and many readers have undoubtedly experienced such intercession. We will relate a few examples below.
The Countess of Stratford, an English protestant, having doubts about the existence of Purgatory, consulted the Bishop of Amiens, France. Hearing her objection, he answered, "Tell the Bishop of London (an Anglican) that I will leave the Faith and become an Anglican if he can prove that Saint Augustine never celebrated Mass or prayed for the dead, especially his mother."
Vision of PurgatoryFollowing his advice, the Countess wrote the Anglican bishop of London. Seeing that he did not respond, she converted.
At a certain point during her reform of the Carmelites, Saint Teresa was in need of a convent. A noble named Bernadine of Toledo responded to her need and donated a place for the convent. He died shortly afterwards. Saint Theresa received the revelation that he would remain in Purgatory until the first Mass was celebrated in the convent he had donated. She thus hastened to establish its foundation. During communion of this first Mass, she saw his soul radiant with splendor at the side of the priest. Thanks to that Mass which had been said for him, he was freed from Purgatory.
Whenever Saint Catherine of Bologna's prayers seemed unanswered, she would call upon the intercession of the souls in Purgatory. She affirmed that these prayers were always answered.

Few souls understand

Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them
if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him
and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly.

St. Ignatius Loyola

St. Bertilla

The future abbess was born of devout parents in Soissons, France in the first half of the seventh century. From an early age, she felt drawn to God and resolved to renounce the world in pursuit of eternal truths. In this resolution she was encouraged by St. Ouen the Bishop of Rouen. With the consent and support of her parents she entered the monastery of Jouarre, near the city of Meaux, recently founded under the rule of St. Columban.
Here she was formed in the strictest practice of monastic perfection and became a model of perfect obedience and piety. She was also remarkable for her prudence and tact and the duties of hospitality, ministering to the sick and infirm, and the care of the children educated at the monastery were in turn committed to her charge. Bertilla, however, had also a very strong temperament with a serious flaw: a temper. Her eighth-century biographer recounts the following incident in the life of the Saint:

“Once, when a troubled sister spoke angry words to her, Bertilla called down divine judgment upon her. Although the fault was forgiven, Bertilla worried about her curse. Then the sister died unexpectedly, choked by asthma. Not having heard the signal for the funeral, Bertilla asked the reason for the resounding chorus of psalms. When she learned of the sister’s death, she trembled fearfully. She hurried to the place where the little body lay lifeless and with great faith laid her hand on the dead nun’s breast. Bertilla ordered her receding soul through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, not to leave, but before she spoke with Him, to forgive her anger against her. And God permitted the spirit that had left the body to return to the corpse. To the amazement of all, the revived cadaver drew breath. Looking at the servant of God, she said: “What have you done, sister? Why did you retrieve me from the way of light?”
“I beg you sister,” said Bertilla humbly, “to give me words of forgiveness, for once I cursed you when you had a troubled spirit.”
“May God forgive you,” said the nun. “I harbor no resentment in my heart against you now and I love you. Please entreat God for me and permit me to go in peace and don’t hold me back. For I am ready for the bright road and now I cannot start without your permission.”
“Go then in the peace of Christ,” said Bertilla, “and pray for me, sweet sister.”

When St. Bathildis, the wife of King Clovis II, founded the Benedictine Abbey of Notre-Dame-des-Chelles about the year 658, Bertilla became its first abbess. She governed the abbey with austerity and virtue, attracting many by her example. The saintly queen herself retired to Chelles in 664 and died there in 680. Attracted by the news of the holy abbess, Hereswitha, the sister of St. Hilda and widow of the king of the East Angles, also joined. Having served as Abbess of Chelles for forty-six years, during which time her reputation for humility and gentleness spread widely, Bertilla died around the year 705.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Be sure this is first

If teaching and preaching is your job,
then study diligently and apply yourself
to whatever is necessary for doing the job well.

Be sure that you first preach by the way you live
.

St. Charles Borromeo

St. Charles Borromeo

Charles was born into a family both noble and devout and divided his early years between the family’s Castle of Arona on Lake Maggiore and their palace in Milan. At twelve he was admitted to minor clerical orders and received the revenues from a wealthy abbey nearby, but he showed his upright character by assigning the money to the poor except for those funds needed for his education. His college career paralleled that of St. Peter Canisius in that he avoided all circumstances and friendships that would compromise his purity of life. It differed, however, by receiving his doctorate in canon law at the University of Pavia.

Due to his extraordinary talent and seriousness, Charles took charge of all family business at the request of his father and older brother despite his youth. He even found time to restore the ancient monastic discipline in the abbey of which he was titular abbot. One week into his pontificate, Pius IV summoned him to Rome. Promotions and responsibilities soon followed, all leading to his appointment as Papal Secretary of State and Archbishop of Milan, although he was not permitted to reside in Milan during his uncle’s lifetime. His thoroughness, modesty, and zeal for work had the effect of concealing his capacity for superior judgment in handling the affairs of both the Church and the State, especially when he refused to enrich himself in the manner of the Renaissance era prelates. Virtually all diplomatic correspondence passed through his hands, to the point that historians cannot determine which instructions originated with the Pope and which came from his young administrator. William T. Walsh believes the reform of the Church during Pius IV’s pontificate was chiefly accomplished through the effort of his nephew, whose body is incorrupt to this day. Despite the uprightness of his life and self-sacrificing devotion to Church affairs, Charles did not practice the strict austerities and self-denial of his later years. He was exceptionally fond of hunting and paid much attention to the magnificence of his own household, which consisted of 150 servants. The improvement of his family’s circumstances also occupied much of his attention. His brother had married the daughter of the Duke of Urbina, a member of the illustrious della Rovere family, and his sisters made wealthy marriages with the Gonzaga and Colonna. Then with the family rising to the heights of the Farnese and de Medici, his brother died after a short illness at the age of twenty-seven. Although a Cardinal and administrator of the vacant diocesan see of Milan, Papal Secretary of State, and entrusted with the government of the Papal States, as well as supervisor of the Franciscans, the Carmelites and the Order of Malta, Charles was still only a sub-deacon at the time, which nevertheless precluded marriage. Many of his more worldly-minded relatives thought that he would certainly seek a dispensation and pursue fame and fortune to maintain his family’s position. But his brother’s sudden death opened his eyes to the vanity of such ambitions and Charles resolved instead to embrace his ecclesiastical state entirely. He was ordained a priest on September 4, 1563 and consecrated a bishop on December 7 the same year. He adopted a strict, ascetic life of prayer and fasting after making the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, now intent upon fulfilling the duties of his ecclesiastical office with dignity and without reserve.

Pope Pius IV had reopened the third and last period of the Council of Trent at the beginning of 1562 against strong opposition from numerous prelates who saw that their unwarranted privileges and incomes would be curtailed and many sovereigns who saw that their authority over Church matters would be contested. Yet the bark of Saint Peter steered through all the obstacles to bring the Council to a successful conclusion two years later.

Retained in Rome by the Pope and the heavy duties incumbent upon him by the work of the Council, Charles governed his diocese my means of personal representatives through whom he convoked a diocesan synod for the promulgation of the decrees of the Council. He began the much-needed reform of the clergy by fulfilling all things required in himself first, thus leading by example. The widespread clerical abuses required skilful and tactful treatment. Ecclesiastical discipline and the education of youth were foremost in his thoughts but his pastoral solicitude encompassed every detail involved in the monumental work: repression of avaricious priests, the founding and staffing of seminaries for the proper formation of the clergy, liturgical ceremony and church music, the manner of preaching, the renewal of strict observance of rule in the convents, etc. This last mentioned brought down upon him the wrath and displeasure of some of his own relatives, two Dominican aunts, sisters of Pope Pius IV. Notwithstanding the opposition and difficulties, Charles persevered, sparing himself in nothing. The apostolic zeal and charity with which he reformed his own household bore fruit in the remarkable number of its members who became distinguished bishops and prelates. The austerities which he practiced amidst the incredible fatigues of his apostolic life seem almost excessive.

Doctrinal and disciplinary controversies and heated disputes of every kind, both ecclesiastical and temporal; complicated questions of spiritual and civil jurisdictions; fierce attacks upon the rights of the Church and life-threatening physical attacks upon himself; heresy, witchcraft, sorcery and wickedness of every sort, libelous personal accusations and epidemic plagues – he faced them all with a moral courage and equanimity that won the grudging admiration of even his most bitter enemies. Ravaged by relentless attacks from every side, the Church weathered the fierce storm of the pseudo-Reformation. From the bosom of the Church, God called forth great saints in that era and they rallied to Her defense like ardent lions – souls of grandeur, on fire with the love of God and zeal for souls. The Church and Faith under attack brought forth unparalleled sanctity. Among these great saints of the sixteenth century is St. Charles Borromeo.

Physically worn out by the crushing weight of his many duties and responsibilities, he seemed to know when death was at hand and yet was determined to work as long as he had strength left. Towards the end of 1584, his health took a definite turn. In October he began his annual retreat and began his preparation for death with a general confession. Plagued with recurrent bouts of high fever, he carried on: visitations, correspondence, consultations. Indefatigable to the end, his ardent soul wore out his frail body. He died at Milan on November 3, 1584 at the age of forty-six. He was canonized in 1610 by Pope Paul V.
Second Photo by: Sailko

Friday, November 3, 2017

First Saturday



The Five First Saturdays devotion is one of the principal points of the Fatima message. It centers on the urgent need for mankind to offer reparation and expiate for the many injuries that the Immaculate Heart of Mary suffers from the hands of both impious and indifferent men.

On the First Saturday during 5 Consecutive Months, the Devotion consists of:

1. Going to Confession,
2. Receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion,
3. Saying five decades of the Rosary,
4. Meditating for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary.
All this offered in REPARATION for the sins of blasphemy and ingratitude committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 

History
During the third apparition on July 13, 1917, Our Lady revealed that she would come to ask for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart and for the Communion of Reparation of the Five First Saturdays. Consequently, she asked for the devotion in 1925 and the consecration in 1929.
While staying at the House of the Dorothean Sister in Pontevedra, Portugal, Sister Lucia received a vision on December 10, 1925 where the Blessed Mother appeared alongside a Boy who stood over a luminous cloud. Our Lady rested one hand on the Boy’s shoulder while she held on the other hand a heart pierced with thorns around it.
Sister Lucia heard the Boy say, "Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother which is covered with thorns with which ingrate men pierce it at every moment with no one to make an act of reparation to pull them out."
Our Lady expressed her request in the following words,
"See, my daughter, My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ingrates pierce me at every moment with blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, make sure to console me and announce that all those who for five months, on the first Saturdays, go to confession, receive Communion, say five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to Me, I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls."
A few days afterward, Sister Lucia detailed this vision in a letter addressed to Monsignor Manuel Pereira Lopes, her confessor when she resided in the Asylum of Vilar in the city of Oporto, Portugal.

Why Five Saturdays?     
Sister Lucia’s confessor questioned her about the reason for the five Saturdays asking why not seven or nine. She answered him in a letter dated June 12, 1930. In it she related about a vision she had of Our Lord while staying in the convent chapel part of the night of the twenty-ninth to the thirtieth of the month of May, 1930. The reasons Our Lord gave were as follows:
The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They are:
  a.    Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception
  b.    Blasphemies against her virginity
  c.    Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men
  d.    Instilling , indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children
  e.    Direct insults against Her sacred images
Let us keep the above reasons firmly in our minds. Devotions have intentions attached to them and knowing them adds merit and weight to the practice.

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Modifications to the Five First Saturdays Devotion to facilitate its observation
The original request of Our Lady asks one to confess and receive Communion on five consecutive first Saturdays; to say five decades of the Rosary; to meditate during 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary for the purpose of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in reparation for the sins of men.
In subsequent private visions and apparitions however, Sister Lucia presented to Our Lord the difficulties that devotees encountered in fulfilling some conditions. With loving condescension and solicitude, Our Lord deigned to relax the rules to make this devotion easy to observe:
  • Confession may be done on other days other than the First Saturdays so long as one receives Our Lord worthily and has the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  • Even if one forgets to make the intention, it may be done on the next confession, taking advantage of the first occasion to go to confession.
  • Sister Lucia also clarified that it is not necessary to meditate on ALL mysteries of the Rosary on each First Saturdays. One or several suffice.
With much latitude granted by Our Lord Himself, there is no reason for the faithful to hesitate or delay this pious practice in the spirit of reparation which the Immaculate Heart of Mary urgently asks.

This devotion is so necessary in our days
The culture of vice and sin remains unabated even as one reads this. Abortion, blasphemy, drug abuse, pornography, divorce and bad marriages, religious indifference, the advances of the homosexual agenda and others are just some of society’s many plagues that cut deeply into the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
We must console Our Lady amidst all these insults and injuries to her and her Divine Son. She asks for reparation, she pleads for our prayers, she hopes for our amendment of life. Let us listen to her maternal pleas and atone for the ingratitude of men.
The First Five Saturdays devotion stimulates the spirit of reparation; it instills a tender love for the Holy Sacraments of Confession and the Blessed Eucharist. It nurtures a holy affection for the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Rosary. Above all, it is an excellent means to maintain one in the state of grace while immersed in the daily spiritual battles and prosaic existence in the neo-pagan world that we live in.
Let us not delay in observing this devotion for it too gives us hope for eternal salvation.


REFERENCE:
Solimeo, Luiz Sergio, Fatima, A Message More Urgent than Ever 
(Spring Grove, PA: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property-TFP, 2008.)
  
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