Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Young Man and His Lady Love

In twelfth century England, a group of young men had gathered and were bragging of their various feats, as young men have done since the beginning of time.
The lively conversation went from archery to sword fighting to horsemanship, each trying to outdo the accomplishments of the others.
Finally, the young men began to boast of some foolish love affairs. Not to be outdone by his peers, a noble youth named Thomas declared that he, too, loved a great lady, and was beloved by her.
Thomas of Canterbury meant the most holy Virgin as the object of his affection, but afterwards, he felt some remorse at having made this boast. He did not want to offend his beloved Lady in any way.
Seeing all from her throne in heaven, Mary appeared to him in his trouble, and with a gracious sweetness said to him: "Thomas, what do you fear? You had reason to say that you loved me, and that you are beloved by me. Assure your companions of this, and as a pledge of the love I bear you, show them this gift that I make you."
The gift was a small box, containing a chasuble, blood-red in color. Mary, for the love she bore him, had obtained for him the grace to be a priest and a martyr, which indeed happened, for he was first made priest and afterwards Bishop of Canterbury, in England.
Many years later, he would indeed be persecuted by the king, and Thomas fled to the Cistercian monastery at Pontignac, in France.
Far from kith and kin, but never far from his Lady Love, he was attempting to mend his hair-cloth shirt that he usually wore and had ripped. Not being able to do it well, his beloved queen appeared to him, and, with special kindness, took the haircloth from his hand, and repaired it as it should be done.
After this, at the age of 50, he returned to Canterbury and died a martyr, having been put to death on account of his zeal for the Church.
From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

Always

Charity requires us always
to have compassion
on human infirmity.

St. Catherine of Siena

St. William of Vercelli

William was born in 1085 at Vercelli in the Piedmont region of Italy of noble and wealthy parents. When he was still very young, he determined to renounce the world and become a hermit.

He built his first hermitage on Monte Solicoli, and then went to Monte Vergine. Many disciples came to him there, attracted by the sanctity of his life and the many miracles he performed. From among this first group of followers, a community soon formed. William became their Abbot and a church dedicate to Our Lady was built on the site. For this reason, the mountain became known as Monte Vergine or the Mount of the Virgin.

After a while, however, their ardor growing tepid, the monks began to complain that William’s rule was too strict and life too austere. He therefore decided to leave Monte Vergine. He traveled south and founded a new hermitage on Monte Laceno, then others at Basilicata, Conza, Guglietto, and Salerno. He also became an adviser to King Roger I of Naples. William died at Guglietto on June 25, 1142.

The first congregation of Monte Vergine dissolved. The monastery, however, remained and came into the hands of the religious of Our Lady of Monte Cassino, who wear the white habit of St. William in commemoration of the founder of the monastery.

The following extraordinary fact is recorded about the Monte Vergine monastery, where the monks still lead a life of penance and austerity. According to the rule, it is not permitted to eat meat, eggs, milk, or cheese. If someone tried to violate this regulation, storm clouds would appear in the sky and the lightning would destroy the illicit foodstuff that had been brought into the monastery. This happened on many occasions, and always with the same result. It is the way God chose to show that He desires the traditions of penance and austerity of the great St. William to be maintained.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Miraculous Recovery

I walked into the kitchen and saw my mother hang up the phone, a worried look on her face.

“What is it, Mom?”

“It was your sister. She said one of the ambulance drivers for the medical office she works for is in a deep coma because of a gas leak in his trailer last night.”

“Wow… Will he recover soon?” I asked hopefully.

But as the weeks wore on, the young man failed to give any sign of life, and the doctors began to lose hope. The next time my mother asked after him, the decision had been made to disconnect life support.

Hearing of this decision, I felt a sudden rush of confidence: I remembered America Needs Fatima was launching a national drive to promote the Medal of Our Lady of Graces, a special devotional given to St. Catherine Labouré in an apparition of the Blessed Virgin in 1830. Coined to the exact specifications of Our Lady, so many blessings, graces and miracles have been granted to those who wear it, that it has consequently become known as the “Miraculous Medal.” 

“We need to get a Miraculous Medal to him!”  I told my mother. She enthusiastically agreed. My sister thought it a good idea, and asked a colleague of the sick man to deliver a medal to the hospital to be placed under his pillow (regulations forbade any metal on patients).

As we prayed, and shortly after the devotional was placed under his head, something incredible happened: the comatose began mumbling! The decision to disconnect life support was put on hold.

A few weeks later, the young man was released from the hospital and soon returned to work. He warmly thanked my sister for sending him the devotional and confided in her that he believed the Miraculous Medal saved his life.
By Andrea F. Phillips

When you have received Him

When you have received Him,
stir up your heart to do Him homage; speak to Him
about your spiritual life,
gazing upon Him in your soul where He is present
for your happiness; welcome Him
as warmly as possible, and behave outwardly
in such a way that your actions
may give proof to all of His Presence.

St. Francis de Sales

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

The Church usually observes the day of a saint's death as his feast, because that day marks his entrance into heaven. To this rule there are two notable exceptions, the birthdays of Blessed Mary and of St. John the Baptist, both born free of original sin (as John was cleansed of original sin in his mother’s womb). “I tell you, among those born of woman no one is greater than John…”  Jesus said.

John’s purpose was to prepare the way for the Redeemer.
Photo by: GFreihalter

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Sacred Heart: Bridge & Refuge

By Michelle Taylor
“Come to me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” Matt.11:28


Though this age stresses “happy” and “safe,” in reality it has produced a steady diet of dire news, often uncomfortably close to home: teen pregnancies, substance abuse, marriage break-ups, suicides, murder in schools and so on.
One day when sharing with a pastor of many years the news of a friend’s divorce, he sadly retorted; “And how do you think I feel, counseling couple after couple, blessing their marriages, and then watching many of those marriages hit the rocks?…”
The world has sadly turned away from God and it has become in many respects a ferocious river taking with it all that it can engulf and destroy within its torrential waters.

 

Is there a way out of the torrent?
The great saint and mystic, doctor of the Church Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), while in ecstasy, dictated an amazing book called The Dialogue. Many know it as The Dialogue of St. Catherine.

In this book God the Father describes the world and its ways as a raging torrent, and His Son, Jesus Christ, as the “bridge” on which we must climb if we wish to avoid inevitable destruction. By getting out of the river of perdition and standing on the Bridge, we are able to cross over safely from one shore–earthly life–to the other–eternal life.
Wounded and confused by the Original Sin of our first parents, our human nature easily miscalculates the river as more “exciting.” Things, pleasures and people, like water, make their way down stream while holding onto the illusion of standing on firm ground.

Our Good Lord invites us to get off the torrent and onto the safe Bridge, but we fear going against the “current,” and making the effort and the commitment of climbing onto the safe pass.
The Father speaks of this “bridge” as made from the solid virtues and example of His divine Son. This Bridge is STRONG, and SAFE. And though Our Lord Jesus Christ returned to the Father, He left us His life-giving teaching in His Church.
This teaching, says God the Father to St. Catherine, “…has been verified by the apostles, and proclaimed in the blood of the martyrs. It has been lighted up by the doctors, attested to by the confessors, and committed to writing by the evangelists…” 1
“So you see,” continues the Father, “…I have shown you my way, which is truth, and the devil’s way, which is falsehood. These are the two ways, and both are difficult.” 2
But though both ways are indeed difficult, the way of the Bridge has the promise of divine refreshment and final victory, “How foolish and blind,” says the Father, “are those who choose to cross through the water when the road (bridge) has been built for them! This road is such a joy for those who travel by it that it makes every bitterness sweet… and every burden light.” 3
But, again, like children, we are easily seduced by water. And even though the water is icy-cold and destructive, we take the plunge.

The “Bridge” as a Burning Heart.  
In the seventeenth century, God Our Lord again appeared to another saint, Margaret Mary Alacoque. He complained to her that “hearts had grown cold.” and, as a remedy, He revealed to her His burning heart.
He spoke to her of His great desire to be loved by men and of diverting souls from the path of ruin into which Satan hurls entire crowds. It was this wish which led Him to reveal His Heart, with all its treasures of love, and grace.

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To those who practice this devotion to Our Lord’s exposed heart, and enthrone an image of Him thus pictured in their homes, He makes twelve amazing promises:
1.   I will give them all the graces necessary for their state in life.
2.   I will establish peace in their families.
3.   I will comfort them in their trials.
4.   I will be their secure refuge during life, and, above all, in death.
5.   I will shed abundant blessings on all their undertakings
6.   Sinners will find in My Heart an infinite ocean of mercy.
7.   Lukewarm souls will become fervent.
8.   Fervent souls will rapidly grow in holiness and perfection.
9.   I will bless every place where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10.  I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11.  The names of those who promote this devotion will be written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.
12.  I promise thee, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion (having previously gone to Confession if aware of mortal sin) on the First Friday of nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

What’s there to lose?
Let us take the Bridge. Let us enter the Refuge.
Above all, let us show our children the way to the Bridge by teaching them early about Christian virtue, self-discipline and good manners, by igniting in their hearts and minds a thirst for Scripture and Catholic doctrine, by habituating them to prayer (according to their capacity as they grow) and the life-giving Sacraments, and by dazzling them with all that is beautiful in God’s nature, centuries-old Catholic culture and history.
We couldn’t enroll them in a better “Insurance Policy” for happiness and safety. Let’s take the upward “plunge” and do what it takes to climb the bridge and enter the burning Heart of our all-powerful Father. It surely pays–here and beyond.


Notes:
1 Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue, The Classics of Western Spirituality, p.69
2 Ibid, p.67
3 Ibid, p.68

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