Thursday, December 1, 2016

Something of a miracle

The world is so corrupt that it seems almost inevitable 
that religious hearts be soiled, if not by its mud, at least by its dust. 
It is something of a miracle for anyone to stand firm 
in the midst of this raging torrent and not be swept away... 
It is Mary, the singularly faithful Virgin over whom Satan had never
any power,
who works this miracle for those who truly love her. 


St. Louis de Montfort

St. Edmund Campion and Companions

Edmund Campion’s father was a bookseller in London. The future martyr was born around 1540, and at the age of fifteen was given a scholarship to St. John’s College, Oxford, where he was known for his intelligence and his sweet, yet fiery, disposition. Gifted with oratory, he was chosen to lead a public debate before Queen Elizabeth, and readily won her goodwill and patronage as well as that of the powerful William Cecil and the Earl of Leicester.

He had taken the oath of royal supremacy and was persuaded to receive the diaconate from the Anglican Church. But he had harbored doubts about the same Church, and his conscience disturbed, he left the country for Ireland in 1569 where he wrote a history of that country.

By 1571, he was a suspected person in England.  Reconciled to the Catholic Church in France, he was received into the Society of Jesus in Rome in 1573. As there was not as yet an English Province, he was assigned to the Austrian Province and entered the novitiate in Brunn, Moravia. For six years the young Englishman taught Rhetoric and Philosophy at the Jesuit College in Prague. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1578.

In 1580 he was chosen to accompany Fr. Robert Persons on a mission to England. As superior, Fr. Persons was to counterbalance Campion’s fervor and impetuosity. Surprised to be selected for this endeavor, Edmund expressed the fear that he lacked constitutional courage.

Campion arrived in England disguised as a jewel merchant and went right to work. In Lancashire he preached almost daily with conspicuous success. Pursued by spies and several times almost apprehended, he managed not only to make many converts, but also to write his “Ten Reasons” in which he challenged Protestants to openly debate religion with him. This treatise was printed in secret and widely distributed, causing quite a commotion.

Campion was betrayed while saying Mass at a house in Norfolk and was captured with two other priests in a hideout above the gateway. During his imprisonment in the Tower of London, Edmund was labeled, “Campion, the seditious Jesuit,” a title which did not deter the Queen herself from attempting to dissuade him from his convictions.

Twice, before his trial, he was racked. Notwithstanding his torments, Campion led his own defense as well as that of his companions. His fortitude and courage so touched the heart of Phillip Howard, the Earl of Arundel – another of the Queen’s favorites – that this nobleman made a full conversion and later received the crown of martyrdom. Prior to his sentence of death being read, Campion boldly addressed the court with this final challenge:

“In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors, all our ancient bishops and kings; all that was once the glory of England — the island of saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter.”

On December 1, a wet, muddy day, Frs. Campion, Ralph Sherwin and Alexander Briant were taken to the scaffold at Tyburn and there were executed with the usual barbarities. As he was being hung, drawn and quartered, some of Campion’s blood splattered on one of those present at his execution. The onlooker's name was Henry Walpole. He too became a Jesuit and was canonized with Campion as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

There are saints in all states of life

Our Lord has created persons for all states in life, and
in all of them we see people who achieved sanctity
by fulfilling their obligations well.

St. Anthony Maria Claret

St. Andrew the Apostle

















   “O most beautiful Cross that was glorified by carrying the Body of Christ! Glorious Cross, sweetly desired, ardently loved, always sought, and finally prepared for my heart that has so long awaited you. Take me, O Cross! Embrace me. Release me from my life among men. Bring me quickly and diligently to the Master. Through you He will receive me, He, Who through you has saved me.”

Thus did the Apostle Andrew salute the cross upon which he was to die. For two days he hung upon it and never ceased preaching to the crowds that gathered round him. Who was Andrew? And how had he come to embrace so willingly – no, more, to long for – this universal symbol of infamy?

Andrew was an elder brother of Simon Peter and both plied their trade of fishermen on the tempestuous Sea of Galilee. Sons of Jonas, they lived in the fishing village of Bethsaida, a town much frequented by Our Lord during His public ministry. Andrew had become an early disciple of St. John the Baptist and it was while listening to him preach on the banks of the River Jordan one day that John’s words set him on a course he was to follow for the rest of his life. “Behold the Lamb of God,” proclaimed the Baptist on seeing Our Lord approach. Immediately, Andrew and another disciple followed Him.

The words of this beautiful prayer attributed to the Apostle Andrew upon meeting his cross show that he had known for a long time that he would be a martyr. He had meditated on it in relation to the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He entirely understood and loved the hour of his supreme suffering. He completely accepted the chalice God had prepared for him to drink.

The cross was a symbol of punishment and was reserved for criminals. But for Andrew, it was a “most beautiful” thing because it had been “glorified by carrying the body of Christ.”

Then, he added that he had “sweetly desired it.” With this, one understands that for years he had prepared himself to offer this disinterested holocaust: to be killed for the love of Our Lord, to allow himself to be consumed and spent like the perfume that Mary Magdalene spilt to honor Our Lord. There was no practical goal in those acts of homage. They were sacrifices made for no other reason than to please God: to expend precious things to manifest love for Him. Even if his sacrifice would not produce a good for souls and a humiliation for the enemies of the Church, Andrew wanted do die a martyr to prove how much he loved Our Lord. This is why he said he had “sweetly desired” to be crucified. The words express the splendor of the soul of a martyr.
The Apostle continued by saying that he had “ardently awaited” the cross. Today men flee far from any kind of suffering, any kind of fight against their own passions, any kind of renunciation. For them to live is to enjoy a good life. Andrew, however, ardently awaited his own cross because he understood that what counts in life is not the pleasure he has, but the sacrifice he makes. This is what gives meaning to life. Therefore, the truly supernatural man is a friend of the cross, as St. Louis Marie de Montfort said so well.

Andrew not only accepted the crosses given him during his life, but he looked for them. This is clear when he said that he had “always sought” sacrifice. Then, in the hour of his martyrdom he had that marvelous reaction – he said that his “heart had long awaited” the crucifixion. Which one of us can say a thing like that? What a sublime courage Andrew had in saying these words, which, however, came to his lips naturally and with complete serenity because he had always lived in preparation for that.

Our Lord said that there is no greater friend than one who would give his life for the other. No one can give a greater proof of friendship with Our Lord than to desire the cross like this Apostle did.

He continued: “Take me, O Cross! Embrace me. Release me from my life among men. Bring me quickly and diligently to the Master. Through you He will receive me, He, Who through you has saved me.” Can any soul be more prepared for the beatific vision than one who would make this prayer at the hour of his death?

After his crucifixion, Andrew remained two days hanging on the cross before dying. While he was on the cross he was teaching the people who came to watch him die. How priceless that teaching was! What "cathedra" could ever be more sublime to teach people from? These were his last words:

Lord, eternal King of glory, receive me hanging from the wood of this sweet cross. Thou who art my God, whom I have seen, do not permit them to loosen me from the cross. Do this for me, O Lord, for I know the virtue of Thy Holy Cross.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Problems

Problems do not go away.
They must be worked through or else they
remain
forever a barrier to the growth and
development of the spirit.


Dr. Scott Peck M.D.

St. Radbod of Utrecht

The last pagan king of the Frisians was noted for saying that he preferred to be in Hell with his ancestors than in Heaven without them. However, his great-grandson and namesake became a saint.

Under the tutelage of his maternal uncle, Gunther, Bishop of Cologne, the young Radbod often wrote hymns and poems about the saints. In the year 900 he wrote: “I, Radbod, a sinner, have been taken, though unworthy, into the company of ministers of the church of Utrecht; with whom I pray that I may attain to eternal life.

Before the year was out, he was chosen bishop of that church. As the church of Utrecht had been founded by priests of a monastic order, Radhod made his profession as a monk before being consecrated its bishop.

From the time of his consecration the new bishop never ate meat, often fasted as long as three days and was renowned and loved for his kindness to the poor.

During a Danish invasion, Radhod moved his episcopal see from Utrecht to Denventer, and there died in peace in the year 918.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Freedom

Everyone is free to deny morality.
No one is free to escape the effects of its violations.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen