Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sickness itself can be a prayer

The prayer of the sick person is
his patience and his acceptance of his sickness
for the love of Jesus Christ.
Make sickness itself a prayer, for there is none
more powerful, save martyrdom!

St. Francis de Sales

St. Theodore of Sykeon

Born in the Roman Galatian town of Sykeon in Asia Minor, Theodore was the son of a woman of ill repute, who kept an inn along the imperial highway.

As a child, he was so given to prayer that he would often give up a meal to spend time in church. From an early age he shut himself up first in the cellar of his mother’s house and then in a cave beneath a disused chapel. Later, for a time, seeking to further escape the world, he sought solitude on a mountain.

On a pilgrimage to Jerusalem Theodore assumed a monk’s habit, and though only eighteen years of age, was ordained a priest by his own bishop. His life was most austere, wearing an iron girdle about his body and only sparingly partaking of vegetables.

Endowed with the gift of prophecy and miracles, on a second pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he obtained abundant rain after a severe drought.

Theodore founded several monasteries, and ruled as abbot in Sykeon. He was consecrated Bishop of Anastasiopolis, though he deemed himself totally unfitted. After ten years he succeeded in relinquishing his post and retired to Sykeon.

From Sykeon he was recalled to Constantinople to bless the emperor and the senate and there healed one of the Emperor’s sons of a skin disease, reputedly leprosy.

Theodore had a great devotion to St. George and did much to propagate devotion to him.

He died in Sykeon on April 22, 613.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Why was Mary made Mother of God?

Mary was raised to the dignity of Mother of God
rather for sinners than for the just, since
Jesus Christ declares that
He came to call not the just, but sinners.

St. Anselm

St. Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm was born in Aosta in Italy about the year 1033. There was little sympathy between the lad and his father, a harsh man who practically drove him from home after his mother’s death to pursue his studies in Burgundy, France.

In the Benedictine monastery of Bec in Normandy, Anselm met and became the disciple and friend of its great abbot, Lanfranc. When Anselm was twenty-seven, Lanfranc was elected to higher office, and he himself appointed Prior of Bec. Fifteen years later, Anselm was chosen abbot, a position that entailed visits to England where the abbey had property, and where Lanfranc was now Archbishop of Canterbury.

An original thinker and great scholar, Anselm had a burning passion to learn about natural and supernatural truth. He developed a method of study for which he came to be known as the "Father of Scholasticism." Under his governance, first as prior and then as abbot, the Abbey of Bec became a center of true reformation in Normandy and England.

Above all, Anselm's great merit lay in his earnest and conscious effort of living according to what he learned from the study of divine truths. His life truly was a combination of contemplation, study, prayer, writing, and activity.

As the seat of Canterbury became vacant, the pastoral staff was forced into the monk’s reluctant hand. Now, as archbishop, he set about defending the liberties and rights of the Church against encroaching English monarchs for which he was sorely persecuted and exiled, but ultimately upheld, by Pope Urban II.

While in Rome in 1098, Anselm attended the Council of Bari and assisted in the definition of the doctrines challenged by the Greeks.

Anselm’s was a character of singular charm. He was known for his sympathy and sincerity which won him the affection of men of all classes and nationalities. A friend of the poorest of the poor, his care also extended to slaves, being one of the first to stand against slavery. In 1102, at the Council of Westminster, he obtained the passing of a resolution prohibiting the practice of selling men like cattle.

Anselm of Canterbury died in 1109 and was declared Doctor of the Church in 1720.

Stories of Mary 30: The Adulteress And The Wife



"Justice, Mother of God, justice."
Our blessed Lady answered:"Justice! do you seek
justice from me?" 

How Great is the clemency and mercy of Mary
Father Charles Bovius relates that in Doinana, in France, lived a married man who had held a criminal connection with another woman. Now the wife being unable to endure this, continually besought God to punish the guilty parties; and one day in particular went to an altar of the blessed Virgin, which was in a certain church to implore vengeance upon the woman who had alienated her husband from her; and this very woman went also every day to the same altar, to repeat a "Hail Mary."
One night the divine mother appeared in a dream to the wife, who, on seeing her, began her accustomed petition: "Justice, Mother of God, justice." But the blessed Lady answered: "Justice! do you seek justice from me? Go and find others to execute justice for you. It belongs not to me to do it for you. Be it known to you," she added, "that this very sinner offers every day a devotion in my honor, and that I cannot allow any sinner who does this, to suffer and be punished for her sins."
The next day the wife went to hear mass in the above named church of our Lady, and on coming out met her husband's friend; at the sight of her she began to reproach her and call her a sorceress, who had even enchanted with her sorceries the blessed Virgin.
"Be silent," cried the people: "what are you saying?"
"I be silent!" she answered: "What I say is only too true; this night the Virgin appeared to me; and when I implored justice of her, she answered me, that she could not grant it on account of a salutation which this wicked woman repeats daily in her honor."
They asked the woman what salutation she repeated to the Mother of God. She answered that it was the "Hail Mary"; and then on hearing that the Blessed Virgin had dealt with her so mercifully in return for that trivial act of devotion, she cast herself on the ground before the sacred image, and there, in the presence of all the people, asked pardon for her scandalous life, and made a vow of perpetual continence.
She afterwards put on a religious habit, built for herself a little cell near the church, where she retired, and persevered in continual penance until the day of her death.

PRAYER:
Oh mother of mercy! since thou art so compassionate, and hast so great a desire to do good to us sinners, and to satisfy our demands, I, the most wretched of all men, today have recourse to thy mercy, that thou mayest grant my requests. Let others ask what they will, health of body, wealth, or temporal advantages; I come to ask of thee, oh Lady, those things which thou thyself dost most desire of me, and which are most conformable and most pleasing to thy sacred heart.
Thou who wast so humble, obtain for me humility and love of contempt. Thou who wast so patient in the difficulties of this life, obtain for me patience in things contrary to my wishes. Thou who didst overflow with love to God, obtain for me the gift of a holy and pure love. Thou who wast all charity towards thy neighbor, obtain for me charity towards all men, and especially towards those who are my enemies. Thou who wast wholly united to the divine will, obtain for me a perfect uniformity with the will of that God in all his dispositions concerning me.
Thou, in a word, art the most holy of all creatures; oh Mary, obtain for me the grace to become a saint. Thy love is unfailing; thou canst and wilt obtain all things for me.
Nothing, then, can hinder me from receiving thy graces but my neglect to invoke thee, or my want of confidence in thy intercession. But thou thyself must obtain for me the grace to seek thee, and this grace of confidence in thy intercession.
These two greatest gifts I ask from thee – from thee will I receive them – from thee do I confidently hope for them. Oh Mary! Mary, my mother, my hope, my love, my life, my refuge, and my consolation. Amen.


 This "Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary" is taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888

Thursday, April 20, 2017

There is only one ladder to heaven

Apart from the cross
there is no other ladder by which
we may get to heaven.

St. Rose of Lima

St. Agnes of Montepulciano

Around the year 1268 in the Tuscan village of Gracchiano-Vecchio, a child was born to a well-to-do couple, a little girl who was to become one of the great women saints of the Dominican Order.

Attracted  to prayer from an early age, even as a child Agnes would spend hours on her knees praying the Our Father and Hail Mary. At nine years of age, she convinced her parents to place her in the nearby Franciscan monastery at Montelpuciano. In the austerity of monastic life, she advanced in virtue by leaps and bounds.

Five years later, Agnes was called upon to leave Montepulciano to assist in the foundation of a new convent in Proceno. As soon as it was known that Agnes was at Proceno, several girls offered themselves as postulants. With special papal dispensation, the fifteen-year-old Agnes was elected abbess.

From that day onwards, she redoubled her austerities, living for fifteen years on bread and water, and sleeping on the ground with a stone pillow.

Still, the inhabitants of Montelpuciano pined for their now famous saint, and on the plans to build a new convent for her, she returned. The establishment flourished under her rule and guidance, and she remained prioress of this convent until her death.

In her later years, she suffered from a painful illness but did not allow this condition to interfere with her duties. She died at the age of forty-nine.