Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Holy Rosary Crusade of Reparation

After World War II, Austria was divided between four countries: America, France, the United Kingdom, and Russia. At the time, Russia was still communist. The section of Austria controlled by the communists was the richest, and included the city of Vienna. The Viennese were subject to the all the atrocities and tyrannies of communism. However, in 1946, Fr. Petrus Pavlicek, after making a pilgrimage to Mariazell, the principle Marian shrine in Austria, was told by an interior voice: “Do as I say and there will be peace.”
To obey this inspiration of Our Lady, Fr. Pevlicek founded the Holy Rosary Crusade of Reparation in 1947. This Crusade consisted of the Viennese faithful coming out of their homes in order to participate in a public Rosary procession in the streets of the city. The intentions of the Rosary were for the end of communism in their country and in the world.
At first, the processions were minuscule, but in time they grew to staggering proportions. In 1955, after eight years spreading the word about the Crusade throughout Austria, the Rosary processions would reach sizes of half a million people, about 1/10 of the Austrian population. Finally, through the help of Our Lady, the Soviet forces pulled out of Austria in October of 1955, leaving the country for good.

Whether we like it or not

Whether we like it or not, we are in combat
and it is a war of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong,
freedom vs. slavery,
civilization vs. chaos.

Brigadier General Steve Ritchie

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne

Born in Ireland, Aidan studied under St. Senan of Iniscathay on Scattery Island. He was made Bishop of Clogher, but resigned his bishopric to become a monk on Iona. This rugged and storm-swept island in the Scottish seas became renowned throughout Europe as the greatest center of Irish monasticism. The saints connected with Iona are legendary and read like a veritable litany.

King Oswald of Northumbria translates the sermon of Aidan into the Anglo-Saxon language, by A.M. von Ow, 1778.
Aidan’s virtues, however, outshone the remoteness of his seclusion and he was again selected for an episcopal see, this time for that of Lindisfarne, an island some two miles off the coast of Northumberland. The island mission was begun at the request of King Oswald, who had been educated by the Irish monk, and was then residing on the mainland at the royal fortress of Bamborough. Aidan, the monk-bishop the island of Iona, established his see on the island of Lindisfarne in 635 and it in turn became the center of great missionary activity and the religious capital of Northumbria. In fact, Lindisfarne so closely resembled the island of Iona, whence its first bishop had come, and gained for itself so sacred a reputation, that it came to be known as the Iona of England, or Holy Isle.

Having established his episcopal see, Aidan also founded a monastic community on the island. From this monastery were founded all the churches between Edinburgh and the Humber, as well as several others in the Midlands and in the country of East Anglia. In time, Aidan came to be regarded as the Apostle of Northumbria and the influence of his successors was considerable.

St. Bede is lavish in his praise of the holy bishop’s rule and of the monks who served under him, saying of St. Aidan “he was a pontiff inspired with a passionate love of virtue, but at the same time full of a surpassing mildness and gentleness.”

Aidan died a Bamborough, on the mainland, on the last day of August in the year 651. His remains were taken with great reverence to Lindisfarne to be buried among the monks of the monastery he had founded.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Even if you have one foot in Hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil…

Even if you are on the brink of damnation,
even if you have one foot in Hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil …
sooner or later you will be converted
and will amend your life and save your soul,
if and mark well what I say – if you say the Holy Rosary
devoutly every day until death for the purpose of
knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon of your sins.

St. Louis de Montfort

St. Margaret Ward

Margaret Ward was born a gentleman's daughter at Congleton in Cheshire, England, and for a time lived as a lady's companion in the house of a lady of distinction named Whitall, then residing in London.

Learning that William Watson, the priest who wrote the work known as the “Quodlibets,” was imprisoned in Bridewell, she became friendly with the jailer's wife and obtained permission to visit him. After several visits she disarmed the vigilance of the jailer and furnished the priest with a rope so he could make his escape. At the appointed time the boatman whom she had engaged to convey Father Watson down the river refused to carry out his part of the plan, and in her distress she confided her difficulty to a young man, John Roche, who agreed to assist her. He provided a boat and exchanged clothes with the fugitive, who made good his escape.

But the clothes betrayed John Roche, and the rope convinced the jailer that Margaret Ward had been instrumental in the flight of the prisoner. They were both arrested and clapped in irons. Margaret was flogged and hung up by the wrists, with only the tips of her toes touching the ground. This torture was prolonged for so long that she was crippled and paralyzed, but her sufferings only served to strengthen her all the more. Still refusing to betray the priest, they were offered their freedom if they would ask the Queen’s pardon and attend a Protestant service, both of which they refused.

Margaret was tried and condemned to death at Newgate. She was hanged at Tyburn in London on August 30, 1588. On the scaffold, she was denied any last words because her persecutors were afraid of the impression her speech would have on the attending crowd.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Fashions. What do they mean?

It is often said almost with passive resignation
that fashions reflect the customs of a people.
But it would be more exact and much more useful to say
that they express the decision and moral direction that a nation intends to take:
either to be shipwrecked in licentiousness
or maintain itself at the level to which it has been raised by
religion and civilization.

Pope Pius XII

The Passion of St. John the Baptist

Shortly after he had baptized Jesus on the banks of the Jordan, John the Baptist had denounced Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee, to his face. For thirty years the dissolute ruler had indulged himself and his every whim, while holding court in his palace overlooking the Dead Sea. His latest crime: Herod had divorced his own wife and married Herodias, the wife of his elder brother Philip.

Tolerated by his Roman overlords and useful to them for their own purposes, the licentiousness and excess of the revelries he held were notorious and scandalous, and yet none dared to confront him for fear of the cruelty that lurked just below the surface of his unpredictable character. None dared to speak out. None, that is, until this John, known as the Baptist, and believed by many to be a prophet – if not indeed the Messiah. In the same direct and fearless manner in which he censured the Jewish nation for the moral decadence into which it had fallen, and called sinners to repentance, John the Baptist spelled out clearly to Herod the evil he had done: “It is not lawful for you to have her.”

For proclaiming the truth, John was imprisoned. And yet Herod dared not take any further action against him. As is common with his kind, he was superstitious, and he knew him to be a “righteous man.” Moreover, John had for him an irresistible fascination. Who was this man? Herod’s anger gave way to curiosity. During the next four months, Herod’s visits to his prisoner began to have a strange affect on this master of revels. An irresistible awe gradually took possession of him, to be replaced by fear, which in turn gave place to respect. This did not go unnoticed by his courtiers, foremost among them, Herodias, and she bided her time, watchful for any opportunity that might be used, but impatient for John’s destruction.

A favorable occasion soon presented itself in the form of Herod’s birthday for which an elaborate banquet and lavish entertainment was to be laid on. His marriage to his brother’s wife and his arrest of John the Baptist had not been well received, though none but John dared to voice any open criticism. Thus, both Herod and Herodias took care that the celebrating and feasting should be more brilliant than usual, a luxurious affair that would purchase him the favor of his flatterers once again.

Influential and powerful officials, chiefs and magnates, from near and far, gathered at the palace – their differences dissolved round Herod’s loaded table. At a certain moment, well calculated for its affect, the succession of entertainers is replaced by a single dancer: Herodias's daughter, Salome. Her performance so pleased Herod that, caught up by the adulation of the crowd, he promised her whatever she should ask for, even if it be half of his kingdom. Thus was the elaborate trap set, that having pronounced a rash oath before such an audience, his pride would not permit him to withdraw it cost him what it may. Upon asking her mother’s advice, Salome requested the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

Although inwardly regretful, in his pride Herod could not refuse the request. As St. Augustine so aptly described what followed, “an oath rashly taken was criminally kept.” A guard was sent to behead John in prison. Thus, the "voice crying in the wilderness" was silenced. The head of the Precursor was placed on a platter and presented to Salome, who gave it to her mother.

John’s holiness was so evident that the Jews thought he might be the Messiah who had been promised, but John had protested and denied it. At the Jordan, John had pointed out Christ in person exclaiming: "Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sin of the world. This is he, of whom I said: After me there comes one, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose sandal I am not worthy to loose.” And that there be no doubt as to Whom he meant: “And I saw, and I give testimony that this is the Son of God.”

From that moment onwards, an eclipse takes place: “He must increase, and I must decrease.” His mission was to announce the Messiah. Therefore, once the Lamb of God had arrived, the prophecy of St. John Baptist was fulfilled, and his public mission decreased as he headed toward his martyrdom. On the contrary, Our Lord would increase until the complete fulfillment of His divine mission. The humility of St. John the Baptist was rewarded. After his martyrdom, his name was covered with glory. Our Lord said that no man born of woman was greater than he. It is impossible to have a higher praise or more honorable glorification. But this glory had as its foundation his most profound humility.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Why God allows evil

God judged it better

to bring good out of evil

than to suffer no evil to exist.

St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine of Hippo

Augustine was born on November 13, 354 at Tagaste, on the northern coast of Africa, in what is now Algeria. He was raised as a Christian by his mother, Monica, despite his father, Patricius, being a pagan. His mother’s example of fervent faith was a strong influence on the young boy, one that would follow him throughout his life.

Although he had been enrolled amongst the catechumens in his youth and had received a Christian education in Tagaste, Augustine had nevertheless deferred the reception of Baptism, and was as yet unbaptized when the question of his advanced studies arose. Proud of his son’s academic prowess and prospects, Patricius was determined to send Augustine to Carthage, but had not the means available and thus it was that his eldest son spent his sixteenth year in an idleness that proved fatal to his virtue.

Having thrown himself wholeheartedly into the pursuit of pleasure and gradually given up the practice of prayer, by the time Augustine reached Carthage late in the year 370, he was easily won over by the seductions of the half-pagan city. When his father died in 371, soon after he arrived in Carthage, Augustine became the nominal head of the family and set up a household with a concubine, the mother of his son, Adeodatus, born about 372.

At the university Augustine studied literature and poetry, Latin, public speaking, and rhetoric. A terrible crisis of faith followed close upon his moral dissipation and Augustine fell into the snares of the Manichæans, a heretical sect that believed all flesh and matter to be evil, denied free will and attributed the commission of a crime to a foreign principle. Once he was won over by the sect, Augustine devoted himself to it with all the vehemence of his ardent nature and drew into it a number of friends by his proselytizing. Over time Augustine became disenchanted with the irresolvable contradictions he observed in the teachings of the Manichæans, but it took nine years for the illusion to die completely.

At the age of twenty-nine, Augustine set off secretly for Rome, resorting to subterfuge to avoid being followed by his mother, Monica. After a brief sojourn in Rome, he applied for a vacant professorship in Milan, where he was soon joined by his mother. His meeting with St. Ambrose so impressed him that he became a regular attendant at the bishop’s sermons. Cicero’s work Hortensius was also instrumental in Augustine’s final conversion, inspiring him with the desire to seek the truth. His passions, however, were to enslave him for another three years. Finally, through the reading of the Holy Scriptures light penetrated his mind. Grace soon followed and the thirty-three-year-old Augustine resigned his professorship, put aside a prospective marriage arranged by his mother, and retired to a country estate to devote himself entirely to the pursuit of true philosophy, now inseparable in his mind from Christianity.

With his son, and the friends who had accompanied him into retirement, he was baptized on Easter Sunday in 387 by St. Ambrose. His ordination to the priesthood in 391 was followed by his consecration as Bishop of Hippo four years later. His priestly and episcopal ministries were both admirably fruitful: he fought heresy with lionlike tenacity, challenged heretics to public debates, attended Church councils, and was a prodigious writer and zealous preacher. One of the greatest theologians of all time, among his extant works can be found more than 300 sermons, 500 letters, and numerous other writings on a wide variety of topics. Whilst refuting a Pelagian heretic, Augustine was stricken with a fatal illness. For three months he suffered with unconquerable patience amid continuous prayer, and died on August 28 in the year 430.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Hell or paradise, even in this world

In this life there is no purgatory;
it is either hell or paradise; for
to him who serves God truly,
every trouble and infirmity turns into consolations, and
through all kinds of trouble he has a paradise within himself
even in this world: and he who does not serve God truly, and
gives himself up to sensuality,
has one hell in this world, and another in the next.

St. Philip Neri

St. Monica

Monica was born in 332 in Tagaste, North Africa. Although her parents were Christians, they gave her in marriage to a local pagan official. A violent and immoral man, Monica's married life with Patricius was far from being a happy one, especially as her husband's mother, who lived with them, seems to have been of a like disposition with himself. His wife’s almsdeeds and her habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence. Monica’s persistent prayers and untiring sweetness finally won out and, in 370, both her husband and mother-in-law converted to Christianity.

Patricius died a year after being baptized, leaving Monica to raise their three children alone. Augustine, the eldest of the three, had fallen prey to the Manichean heresy (which professes that all flesh and matter is evil) while yet an adolescent and was living an immoral life. She banished Augustine from her home for some time, but welcomed him back after she had a vision in which she was assured that her firstborn son would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. She would beg the prayers of priests who often avoided her because of her persistence at this seemingly hopeless endeavor. When Augustine secretly set sail for Rome, she followed him. When, upon her arrival in Rome she discovered that he had left for the northern city of Milan, she set out at once in pursuit of him.

For seventeen long years, the faithful mother continued undeterred in her prayers and fasting for the conversion of her son until finally, in 387, Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose in Milan. As if in confirmation that her earthly mission had been fulfilled, Monica died later that same year.
St. Monica with her son, St. Augustine 

Friday, August 26, 2016

In danger of losing your soul?

Fly from bad companions
as from the bite of a poisonous snake.
If you keep good companions, I can assure you that
you will one day rejoice with the blessed in Heaven;
whereas if you keep with those who are bad,
you will become bad yourself, and
you will be in danger of losing your soul.

St. John Bosco

St. Elizabeth Bichier des Ages

Born at Le Blanc in France in 1773, Elizabeth was the daughter of Antoine Bichier, the Seigneur of Ages and a public official, and Marie Augier de Moussac, whose father was a politician. She spent much of her childhood at the convent at Poitiers.

In 1792, after the death of her father, Elizabeth took her mother to live in La Guimetière. Near their new home was a parish left in chaos because of the French Revolution, and Elizabeth dedicated herself to rebuilding the community. Every night she gathered the parishioners for prayers and hymns. Elizabeth soon became aware of a nearby parish in a similar situation: a priest, André-Hubert Fournet (who later became a saint), offered the Sacrifice of the Mass in a local barn. They quickly became friends, and together they reestablished religion in the area.

With Fr. André Fournet’s spiritual guidance and assistance, Elizabeth found her true vocation. In 1806, she established a religious congregation of women to care for the sick and aged, for the education of children and to offer reparation for the blasphemies and sacrileges committed against the Most Blessed Sacrament during the French Revolution. The congregation was officially recognized by the diocese in 1816 and named “Daughters of the Cross.”

In 1836, Elizabeth fell seriously ill. After ten days of intense suffering, she died on August 26. She was canonized in 1947. Before she died, she opened over sixty convents under the rule of the Daughters of the Cross.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Timely Response to Our Lady’s Request

While visiting a home in Ohio, I heard an amazing story about the First Five Saturday devotion that Our Lady requested at Fatima. She asked all Catholics to make reparation to her on the first Saturday of five consecutive months by going to confession, praying at least one rosary, making a fifteen minute meditation and receiving Communion. Our Lady promised that she would “…assist them at the hour of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation.”   

The family, of good practicing Catholics, decided to take up the devotion. However, as it often happens when one sets out to do God’s will, all kinds of obstacles run into our path. On the Friday preceding the first Saturday they had a car accident. On the Saturday some were called to their jobs and some children fell ill. However, all still managed to fulfill Our Lady’s devotion requests, including the father.
Their resolution to do Our Lady’s request could not have been timelier. After completing the five month devotion, the father became extremely sick. Doctors found that he had cancer in an advanced stage and only had a few days to live.
The family asked their fellow parishioners for prayers and Masses in his intentions. Many family members began a round-the-clock vigil praying the rosary around his bed. For a whole week, those faithful prayer warriors continued to give him spiritual and psychological support with their generous vigil.
Through all the suffering, the completion of the 5 First Saturday devotion was a continuous source of consolation to the father and family. “I will see you in heaven,” he reassured his children. Shortly before his death a priest gave him last rites and he peaceably surrendered his soul to the Lord.

By Godofredo Santos

The great matter

It is easy to infuse
a most fervent devotion into others, even in a short time;
but the great matter is
– to persevere.

St. Philip Neri

St. Louis IX of France

In Louis IX of France were united the qualities of a just and upright sovereign, a fearless warrior, and a saint. This crusader king was a living embodiment of the medieval noble: he lived for the welfare of his subjects and the glory of God.

Born on April 25, 1214 at Poissy, near Paris, Louis never forgot the piety of his upbringing as it had been instilled in him by his mother, Queen Blanche of Castille. At his coronation in Rheims at the age of twelve, Louis asked of God courage, light, and strength to use his authority well, to uphold the divine honor, defend the Church, and serve the good of his people. In May, 1234 the young King married Marguerite, the eldest daughter of the Count of Provence, who bore him eleven children.

Louis did all he could to promote and inspire of a Christian culture. He gave encouragement and aid to the religious orders and often assisted in settling and housing them. Deeply religious, he loved to listen to sermons, heard two Masses daily, and often joined in singing the Divine Office. But, although he sought the company of the wise and experienced among the clergy and other ranks, he did not hesitate to oppose its members when they proved unworthy.

Ambitious to make France foremost among Christian nations, Louis was overjoyed at the opportunity to acquire the Crown of Thorns and other holy relics from the Eastern Emperor at Constantinople. He sent two Dominican friars to bring these sacred objects to France, and, attended by an impressive entourage, he met them at Sens upon their return. To house the relics, he built the shrine of Sainte-Chapelle, one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture in existence.

After recovering from a violent fever in 1244, Louis announced his long-cherished intention of undertaking a crusade to the East and set out from Paris on his first crusade on June 12, 1248. However, plagued with trouble after a seemingly promising start, Louis himself, weakened by dysentery, was taken prisoner in April, 1250, and his army routed.
After six years in captivity, he was released and returned to France to resume his sovereign role. He was involved intimately in the lives of his people. He had a passion for justice, and changed the "King's court" of his ancestors into a popular court, where, seated in his palace or under a spreading oak in the forest of Vincennes, he listened to any of his subjects who came with grievances and gave to them wise and impartial judgments.

In 1267, Louis once more determined to go on another crusade. His people objected, fearing they would lose their excellent and revered ruler, who, though only fifty-two years old, was worn with toil, illness, and austerities. Louis was determined though, and set sail on July 1, 1270, heading for Tunis. The crusade was a dismal failure. Dysentery and other diseases broke out among the crusaders, and Louis soon contracted the disease to which he succumbed on August 15. His bones and heart were taken back to France and kept enshrined in the abbey-church of St. Denis, until they were scattered at the time of the French Revolution.

He was canonized by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

This is more valuable than any treasure

 But above all preserve peace of heart.
This is more valuable than any treasure.
In order to preserve it there is nothing more useful than
renouncing your own will and substituting for it the will of the Divine Heart.
In this way His will can carry out for us whatever contributes to His glory, and
we will be happy to be His subjects and to trust entirely in Him.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. Bartholomew

Bartholomew is commonly identified with Nathaniel, whose approach Our Lord greeted with the exclamation: “Behold an Israelite in whom there is no guile.” He was introduced to Jesus by Philip and was the first among the Twelve Apostles to recognize Our Lord for who He truly was: “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel” (John 1:47-49).

According to the Gospel of Saint John, Bartholomew was from Cana in Galilee and was among the apostles in the boat when Jesus appeared on the shores of the Sea of Tiberius after His resurrection. The apostles had been fishing all night, and had caught nothing for their efforts. An unknown man on shore called for them to cast out the net again, and they obeying Him, caught so many fish that the net was in danger of breaking with the weight of the catch. They soon realized it was Jesus, and He called to them to come into the shore.

Roman legend says the Apostle Bartholomew preached in Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, India and Greater Armenia, where he was martyred. According to some, he was flayed alive and crucified upside-down by King Astyages for converting his brother, Polymius. His relics are preserved in the Church of St. Bartholomew on Tiber Island.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What is the greatest thing you can do?

Know that
the greatest service that man can offer to God
is to help convert souls.

St. Rose of Lima

St. Rose of Lima

Born Isabel Flores y de Oliva in Lima, the capital city of Peru, her nickname, “Rose,” came from a childhood incident in which a household servant attested to having seen the child’s face turn into a mystical rose. She took the name formally as her own, at her confirmation in 1597 by the saintly Archbishop of Lima, Turibio de Mogrovejo.

Remarkable, even as a child, for her great reverence and love for all that related to God, she developed an intense devotion to the Infant Jesus and His Holy Mother, and gave herself up to a life of prayer and mortification. Industrious and adept, she became very proficient in the arts of sewing, embroidery and lace-making, and used her needle to help support her home and family, and as a means to assist the many poor who came to depend on her generous alms.

In imitation of St. Catherine, whom she took as a saintly role model, she fasted three times a week, wore rough clothing, and roughened her face and hands to combat the temptations to vanity. She spent hours on her knees before the Blessed Sacrament and contrary to the usual practice of the time, was a daily communicant. Assailed by tremendous temptations against the Faith and the virtue of purity, which caused her excruciating agony of mind and desolation of soul, she multiplied her mortifications and prayers, and with her confessor’s approval, took a vow of virginity. In this last resolve, Rose had to combat the opposition of her parents, who wished her to marry. The battle of wills continued for ten years until, won over by her patience and prayer, they gave their consent to her decision. At the age of twenty, Rose received the habit of St. Dominic as a tertiary Dominican. From that moment onwards, the severity and variety of her mortifications redoubled.

With her brother’s help, she built herself a little cell from sun-dried bricks in the garden behind their home. Here she would retire at night for solitude and prayer and take whatever rest she permitted her body on a bed of broken glass and pottery, rough stones and thorns. She took to wearing an iron chain around her waist and a metal-spiked crown concealed about her head. Entire days without food would be followed by sleepless nights spent in prayer. During her suffering, Our Lord fortified her with the knowledge of His presence and consoled her with His love, frequently revealing Himself to her and drawing her soul into ecstasies that lasted for hours. During these sublime embraces with God, she offered Him all her penances and mortifications in reparation for the offences against His Divine Majesty, for the sins of idolatry, for the conversion of sinners, and for the souls in Purgatory.

During her last illness, her constant prayer was "Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase Your love in my heart.” Rose died in 1617 at the age of thirty-one years. She was beatified by Clement IX in 1667 and canonized in 1671 by Clement X, thus becoming the first American-born saint.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Queenship of Mary

“Since the great Virgin Mary was raised to the dignity of Mother of the King of Kings, the Church justly honors her, and wishes that she be honored with the glorious title of Queen,” writes St. Alphonsus de Liguori.

Blessed Pope Pius IX said of Mary: “Turning her maternal Heart toward us and dealing with the affair of our salvation, she is concerned with the whole human race. Constituted by the Lord Queen of Heaven and earth, and exalted above all choirs of Angels and the ranks of Saints in Heaven, standing at the right hand of Her only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, she petitions most powerfully with Her maternal prayers, and she obtains what she seeks.”

In his 1954 encyclical, Ad Coeli Reginam, Pope Pius XII established the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Universal Church. In so doing, the Holy Father was officially giving sanction to a devotion that had existed from the earliest centuries of the Church to the sovereign Mother and Queen of heaven and earth and Mediatrix of all graces. Because of her eminence, the Blessed Virgin Mary is entitled to the highest honor that can be bestowed upon any creature, for she is the glorious Queen of the universe.
“We commend that on the festival there be renewed the consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Upon this there is founded a great hope that there may arise an era of happiness that will rejoice in the triumph of religion and in Christian peace,” the Holy Father writes.

“Therefore, let all approach with greater confidence more than before, to the throne of mercy and grace of our Queen and Mother to beg help in difficulty, light in darkness and solace in trouble and sorrow…

“…Whoever, therefore, honors the lady ruler of the Angels and of men—and let no one think themselves exempt from the payment of that tribute of a grateful and loving soul—let them call upon her as most truly Queen and as the Queen who brings the blessings of peace, that She may show us all, after this exile, Jesus, who will be our enduring peace and joy.”

Do you want to win?

Prudence is a virtue whereby
we choose the adequate means for obtaining the end we have in mind.
Thus, great acts of heroism can be as prudent as strategic retreats.
If the goal is to win,
advancing is more prudent in ninety percent of the cases than retreating.
The evangelic virtue of prudence is nothing else.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveria

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Showdown with Satanism in Oklahoma

By Ben Broussard
“God Yes! Satan No!”
“Reparation! Reparation! Reparation!”
“Be Gone Satan! Be Gone Satan!”

The battlecries rang out in the evening heat. Hundreds of Catholics from around the country came to fight. They yielded the weapons of the prayers of the Church. And the angels descended in force.

On August 15, 2016, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, a satanic group called the Church of Ahriman took sacrilegious desecration to a new low. As had been advertised for months, the satanic group would use the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall, a taxpayer-funded venue. Registered sex offender Adam Daniels led a satanic ‘black mass.’ The Blessed Sacrament and the Catholic Mass were mocked and blasphemed. This was followed by a ceremony called the Consumption of Mary. Deliberately mocking Our Lady’s Assumption, a statue of the Blessed Mother was decapitated, and a pig’s heart inside consumed after smashing the statue to pieces.,, and collected online petitions, insisting local officials cancel the event. By August 14, the total number had reached over 306,000. But the city officials refused to act, adamant in defying public opinion.

The Roman Legion Arrives

TFP Student Action director Mr. John Ritchie stated, “To defile and smear the true Mass, the Blessed Sacrament, and the Mother of God is not even remotely a form of religious expression, but rather a direct act of anti-religious bigotry and hatred against God. And when government buildings open their doors and allow a satanic Black Mass that offends God so deeply, it begs the question: Where is our beloved nation headed? Are we still one nation under God?”

Thankfully, the Americans who came to oppose the satanic offensive showed that the answer to that question is yes! The intense summer heat didn’t stop anyone from coming. Catholics from around the country converged on Oklahoma City. Local faithful stood side by side with people from dozens of states to pray the Most Holy Rosary, sing hymns accompanied by the bagpipes and drums, and console Our Lord and His Mother.

In a statement to a local news venue, satanist Adam Daniels acknowledged the low turnout for his events, stating: “When you have the whole Roman legion out there, how likely are they to come and buy tickets?”

And the legion was there in force. The hymn Immaculate Mary resounded as TFP members in ceremonial habit processed with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. The litany of Saint Michael the Archangel quickly followed. Signs and banners were everywhere. “We Renounce the Devil and his Works.” “She Will Crush Thy Head.” “Down with Satan and the Sacrilegious Black Mass.” Unequivocal messages gave a militant aspect to the protest, and the faithful were very vocal in responding to the prayers.

Lucas from Louisiana remarked, “If we are truly going to be one nation under God, we have to fight. These satanists are pushing full steam ahead.”

Maria, who was at a previous protest in 2014, stated, “It’s so great to see so many show publicly their love for the Blessed Mother on her feast day. We have to console her here where she’s being attacked.”

Joseph from Missouri summed up his thoughts: “With the push for satanism in schools and in pop culture, the power of prayer is more crucial than ever.”

Children of Mary vs. Children of the Devil

As the protest finished, TFP members led a procession with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima as the faithful followed singing Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above. Meanwhile, inside the Civic Center the satanists were engaging in their heinous rituals.

In the book of Genesis, when God curses the serpent, He declares: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” (Gen. 3:15)

The Church teaches the woman is Mary and the serpent the devil. St. Louis de Montfort comments: “God has established only one enmity - but it is an irreconcilable one - which will last and even go on increasing to the end of time. That enmity is between Mary, his worthy Mother, and the devil, between the children and the servants of the Blessed Virgin and the children and followers of Lucifer.”1

If we are to remain one nation under God, we must show God whose side we are on. Either we are the faithful children of His Mother, or we will be the children of his great enemy, the devil. It is time for Americans to choose a side in the spiritual combat being waged for the soul of our country.

St. Louis de Montfort further consoles us: “But the humble Mary will always triumph over Satan, the proud one, and so great will be her victory that she will crush his head, the very seat of his pride.”2

May Mary Immaculate Gloriously Assumed into Heaven accept our acts of reparation and hasten to aid us her children in the battles against the children of Lucifer. We trust in God’s promise, and beg its fulfillment here in America: “She will crush thy head.”
1 True Devotion to Mary, Ch. 4, no. 52
2 True Devotion to Mary, Ch. 4, no. 53

My sacred duty

 How I tremble to think that souls can be punished for all eternity on account of the negligence of their pastor, that innocent people can be led from the path of truth because the words of the Inspired Text were never preached to them, and that the spirit of the world, and of our time especially, should pour into ill-instructed minds for want of a firm hand to check its tide. I have a sacred duty to defend the truth openly, for God will ask me to render an account for all those souls who have strayed into the ways of perdition.

Pope St. Pius X

Pope St. Pius X

Giuseppe Melchiore Sarto was born at Riese in the diocese of Treviso in 1835 to Giovanni Battista and Margherita Sanson Sarto. His childhood was one of poverty, being the son of the village postman. Though poor, his parents valued education, and Giuseppe walked six kilometers to school every day.

The excellence he demonstrated in all of his studies was only outdone by the sterling quality of his moral character, which evinced admiring accolades from his superiors at the seminary of Padua. Ordained at the age of twenty-three in 1858, Fr. Sarto spent nine years as curate in Tombolo and then nine as pastor in Salzano, striving to be “all to all” and truly living his priesthood to the fullest. In 1875, he was named a Canon of the Cathedral of Treviso and Chancellor of the diocese. Nine years later, he was consecrated as the Bishop of Mantua. Raised to the Cardinalate on June 12, 1893, he was made Patriarch of Venice three days later.

Upon the death of Pope Leo XIII in 1903, Cardinal Rampolla del Tindaro was posed to succeed him. However, against to the protests of the conclave, Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria, making use of an age-old privilege of the Holy Roman Emperors, used his power of veto against the Cardinal, and Cardinal Sarto was elected instead. Taking the name of Pius, the new pope immediately put an end to the rights of any civil authority to interfere with a papal election.

The name of Pope Pius X is associated with the battle against the errors of Modernism attacking the Church. With the laser-like quality of a saint, the new Pope penetrated the wiles of the new “ism” to its very essence. The whole tendency of Modernism is anti-dogmatic, seeking to tailor dogma to the culture of the age through ambiguity and dilution of divinely revealed doctrine. A 1907 decree of the Holy Office condemned certain writers and propositions. This decree was followed by the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, defining the dangerous tendencies and errors of the new heresy which Pius X defined as “the synthesis of all heresies”. Strong disciplinary measures followed, one of them being the requirement for all bishops, priests, and teachers to take the “Oath against Modernism,” an oath of fidelity to the perennial teachings and doctrines of the Catholic Church.

In this first encyclical letter Pope Pius X announced his ideal to “renew all things in Christ.” In the light of this ideal, he greatly promoted the Holy Eucharist, formally recommending daily Communion when possible, and reducing the age of first communicants from adolescence to the age of reason. He also facilitated the reception of Holy Communion by the sick, and urged daily reading of the Holy Scriptures.

In 1903 the Holy Father issued an instruction on sacred music which struck at current abuses. He was also responsible for a thorough reorganization of the tribunals, offices and congregations of the Holy See.

The eleventh anniversary of his election was met with the beginning of World War I. It is said the outbreak of the war killed him: he became ill and died in 1914. He was canonized in 1954 by his successor, Pope Pius XII.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

When affection becomes infection

The fact that spiritual goods
taste good to us no more, or
seem to be goods of no great account,
is chiefly due to our affections being infected
with the love of bodily pleasures, among which,
sexual pleasures hold the first place: for the love
of those pleasures leads man to have a distaste for spiritual things.

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Bernard was born in 1090 in Dijon, France, the third son of Tescelin, the noble Lord of Fontaines, and Aleth, a daughter of the Lord of Montbard. He and his five brothers were well-educated and well-learned in Latin and military exercises, Bernard being educated with particular care by his parents, because, while yet unborn, a devout man had foretold his great destiny.

Bernard fought the temptations of youth with assiduous prayer and the practice of virtue, often to a heroic degree and, at an early age, determined upon a life of solitude. His ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin, gave rise to some of the most sublime writings ever penned on the Queen of Heaven. He studied the Holy Scriptures so intensely that the Word of God became as it were his own language. In the year 1112, Bernard left his home to join the monastery of Citeaux, which followed the very austere Cistercian rule. Bernard brought with him some thirty men, among them four of his brothers and an uncle, who had no previous thought of the religious life.

In 1115, the abbot of Citeaux sent Bernard and twelve monks to build a new house in the region of Champagne. The beginnings of what came to be known as Clairvaux, were trying and painful. The monks lived under their new abbot most poorly, surviving off what little the coarse land had to offer. The austerities practiced were so severe that Bernard’s health was seriously impaired. Nevertheless, disciples flocked in droves to the new monastic community, and the monks soon numbered one hundred and fifty, among them his youngest brother and his own father.

Renowned for his wisdom, Bernard was often called upon by both Church and State authorities to settle disputes. He defended the rights of the Church against the encroachments of kings and princes and, in the schism that broke out in 1130, was chosen to judge between two rival popes. Until the death of the anti-pope in 1138, he was forced to leave the solitude of his cloister repeatedly by order of Pope Innocent II to combat the resurgence of the schism. In 1139, heresy took the place of schism, and he was once again championing the Church’s cause in the public arena. The year 1145 saw one of Bernard’s Cistercian sons elevated to the throne of Peter. Pope Eugene III lost no time in calling for a new crusade against the Muslims and commissioned Bernard to preach the crusade throughout Europe. His preaching was accompanied by numerous miracles and thousands flocked to the Cross.

As Abbot of Clairvaux for forty years, he founded one hundred and sixty-three monasteries in different parts of Europe. At his death, they numbered three hundred and forty-three. Having brought the Order out of obscurity, he is considered one of the founders of the Cistercian Order.

Bernard spent the last several years of his life in great pain. He saw the death of his contemporaries as a warning of his own approaching end and prepared himself accordingly. He died in 1153 and was canonized in 1174. Pope Pius VIII named Doctor of the Church in 1830.

It is a Subtle Snare of the Evil One

There are those who imagine they are slighting the Son by honoring the Mother. They fear that by exalting Mary they are belittling Jesus. They cannot bear to see people giving to Our Lady the praises due to her and which the Fathers of the Church have lavished upon her. It annoys them to see more people kneeling before Mary’s altar than before the Blessed Sacrament, as if these acts were at variance with each other, or as if those who were praying to Our Lady were not praying through her to Jesus. They do not want us to speak too often of her or to pray so often to her.
Here are some of the things they say: “What is the good of all these rosaries, confraternities and exterior devotions to our Lady? There is a great deal of ignorance in all this. It is making a mockery of religion. Tell us about those who are devoted to Jesus. We should go directly to Jesus, since he is our sole Mediator. We must preach Jesus; that is sound devotion.” 
There is some truth in what they say, but the inference they draw to prevent devotion to Our Lady is very insidious.  It is a subtle snare of the evil one under the pretext of promoting a greater good. For we never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor his Mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor Him all the more perfectly.  We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek - Jesus, her Son.
The Church, with the Holy Spirit, blesses our Lady first, then Jesus, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”  Not that Mary is greater than Jesus, or even equal to Him — that would be an intolerable heresy. But in order to bless Jesus more perfectly we should first bless Mary.
Let us say with all those truly devoted to her, despite these false and scrupulous devotees:
“0 Mary, blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy  womb, Jesus.”

Written by Saint Louis Marie de Montfort - Excerpt from True Devotion to Mary.

Friday, August 19, 2016

What Our Lady said 99 years ago today

On August 13, the day the fourth apparition was to take place, the seers were not at Cova da Iria.
They had been abducted by the mayor of Vila Nova de Ourém, who attempted to force from them the secret revealed in the apparition of July 13. The children held fast despite the mayor imprisoning them, and threatening to plunge them in boiling oil.

At Cova da Iria, thunder, followed by lightning, was heard at the usual time.
The spectators noticed a small white cloud that hovered over the holm oak for a few minutes. Phenomena of coloration were observed on the faces of the people, the clothing, the trees, and the ground.
Our Lady had certainly come, but she had not found the seers.
On August 19, at about four o'clock in the afternoon, Lucia was with Francisco and another cousin at Valinhos, a property belonging to one of her uncles, when the atmospheric changes that preceded the apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria began to occur: a sudden cooling of the temperature and a waning of the sun.
Feeling that something supernatural was approaching and enveloping them, Lucia sent for Jacinta, who arrived in time to see Our Lady appear – heralded as before by a bright light – over a holm oak slightly larger than the one at Cova da Iria.

Lucia: What does Your Grace wish of me?
Our Lady: I want you to continue to go to Cova da Iria on the thirteenth of each month and to continue to pray the Rosary every day. On the last month, I will perform the miracle for all to believe.
Then Our Lady’s face became more serious, and even upset.
Our Lady: If they had not taken you to Ourém, the miracle would have been even greater.
Lucia: What does Your Grace want done with the money that the people leave at Cova da Iria?
Our Lady: Have two portable stands made. You and Jacinta with two other girls dressed in white carry one of them, and let Francisco carry the other one with three other boys. The portable stands are for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The money that is left over should be contributed to the chapel that they shall build.
Lucia: I would like to ask you for the healing of some sick persons.
Our Lady: Yes, I will cure some during the year.
Becoming sadder, she recommended anew the practice of mortification, saying lastly, 'Pray, pray much, and sacrifice for sinners, for many souls go to hell because there is no one to sacrifice and pray for them.'
As usual, she then began to rise toward the east. The seers cut boughs off the tree over which Our Lady had appeared to them and took them home. The boughs gave off a uniquely sweet fragrance.

Read:  Fifth Apparition

Why so many souls go to hell

Pray, pray much,
and make sacrifice for sinners,
for many souls go to hell
because there is no one to sacrifice and pray for them.

Our Lady to Lucia dos Santos

St. John Eudes

John Eudes was born in 1601 in the Norman village of Ri, France, to devout parents who consecrated him to the Holy Virgin. In 1615 he made a vow of chastity while he was studying with the Jesuits of Caen. On that occasion he consecrated himself to Mary, from which time he was notable for his fervent devotion to her.

Eudes left the Jesuits to enter the Congregation of the Oratory, founded by the famous Fr. Pierre de Berulle, who worked to re-establish orthodoxy of doctrine and sanctity of life among the clergy. John Eudes thought that the training of priests should also be a priority, so in 1643, he left the Oratory and founded the Society of Jesus and Mary to specialize in seminary education. The first seminary of the Eudists Fathers, as they became known, opened in Caen, shortly followed by many others.

In order to convert women of ill-fame and assist those who had converted from a wayward life, he founded another institution, the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity. He also instituted the parish mission to evangelize neglected souls. For many years, he preached to large crowds in churches or open fields, in the courts of nobles and the King. His sermons were renowned for his strong condemnation of the vices of his audience, the brilliant eloquence with which he delivered them and, above all, the eminent sanctity which shone forth from him and gave substance to all his words.
He spread the devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and was instrumental in procuring the Church’s approval of liturgical offices in Their honor. Always faithful to the Chair of Peter, he was persecuted by the Jansenists, whom he counter-attacked with energy.

He died on August 19, 1680, with the names of Jesus and Mary on his lips.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

How to judge clothes

An excess of immodesty in fashion involves, in practice,
the cut of the garment.
The garment must not be evaluated according to the estimation of
a decadent or already corrupt society, but
according to the aspirations of a society
which prizes the dignity  and seriousness of its public attire.

Pope Pius XII

St. Helena of Constantinople

Helena was born about the middle of the third century on the Nicomedian Gulf. The daughter of a humble innkeeper, she became the lawful wife of the Roman general Constantius Chlorus and bore him a son, Constantine, in the year 274.

When Constantius became co-Regent of the West in 292, he forsook Helena to marry Theodora, the step-daughter of the Emperor Maximianus Herculius, his patron. But her son remained faithful and loyal to his mother. Upon the death of Constantius, in 308, Constantine, who succeeded him, summoned his mother to the imperial court, conferred upon her the title of Augusta, ordered that all honor should be paid her as the mother of the sovereign, and had coins struck bearing her effigy.

Her son’s influence caused Helena to embrace Christianity after his victory over Maxentius. From the time of her conversion she led an earnestly Christian life and by her own influence and generosity favored the wider spread of Christianity. She had many churches built in the West where the imperial court resided.

Despite her advanced age, in the year 324, at the age of sixty-three, she undertook a journey to Palestine where she had resolved to bring to God, the King of kings, the homage and tribute of her devotion. When she “had shown due veneration to the footsteps of the Savior,” she had two churches erected for the worship of God: one was raised in Bethlehem near the Grotto of the Nativity, the other on the Mount of the Ascension, near Jerusalem. She also embellished the sacred grotto with rich ornaments.

Everywhere she went, Helena Augusta visited churches with pious zeal and enriched them by her benevolence. Her generosity embraced not only individuals but entire communities. The poor and destitute were the special objects of her charity.

Her memory in Rome is chiefly identified with the church of S. Croce in Gerusalemme, built in honor of the true Cross. Also enshrined in the basilica are the other relics of the Passion of Our Lord which the Emperor’s mother had brought back to Rome from the Holy Land.

Constantine was with his mother when she died, at the advanced age of eighty years or thereabouts. This must have been about the year 330, for the last coins which are known to have been stamped with her name bore this date. Her body was brought to Constantinople and laid to rest in the imperial vault of the church of the Apostles. In 849, her remains were transferred to the Abbey of Hautvillers, in the French Archdiocese of Reims.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

When you feel the assaults of passion and anger

When you feel the assaults of passion and anger,
then is the time to be silent
as Jesus was silent
in the midst of His ignominies and sufferings.

St. Paul of the Cross

St. Beatriz da Silva

Beatriz de Menezes da Silva was one of eleven children of Rui Gomez da Silva, the first Magistrate of Campo Maior, on the border of Spain and Portugal, and of Isabel de Menezes, an illegitimate daughter of Dom Pedro de Menezes, the 1st Count of Vila Real and the 2nd Count of Viana do Alentejo, under whom Silva served in Ceuta. João de Menezes da Silva, better known as Blessed Amadeus of Portugal and a noted reformer of the Order of Friars Minor, was her brother.

In 1447 Beatriz accompanied the Princess Isabel of Portugal, to Castile as her lady-in-waiting when Isabel left to marry King John II of Castile and became Queen of Castile and León. Although they had been close friends, Beatriz's great beauty began to arouse the irrational jealousy of the Queen, who had Beatriz imprisoned in a tiny cell without food.

During her incarceration, Our Lady, attired in the blue and white habit of the Conceptionist Order, appeared to Beatriz and instructed her to found an order in her honor. With much difficulty, she finally escaped her imprisonment after three days and took refuge in the Dominican monastery of Toledo. Beatriz lived with the Dominicans for nearly forty years without becoming a member of the Order.

Queen Isabel was a frequent visitor during those years and was of great material assistance to her former lady-in-waiting in the foundation of the religious order in honor of the Immaculate Conception of Mary Most Holy. In 1484 Beatriz, with some companions, took possession of a monastery in Toledo deeded to their new community by Queen Isabel. The new religious order adopted the Cistercian Rule in 1489, bound themselves to the daily recitation of the Office of the Immaculate Conception and were placed under obedience to the Archdiocese of Toledo.
Beatriz da Silva died on August 9, 1492, ten days before the solemn inauguration of her new Order. She is buried in the first monastery given to the Conceptionists by Queen Isabel, the motherhouse of the Order in Toledo. In 1501, Pope Alexander VI placed the Conceptionists under the Rule of St. Clare and, in 1511, Pope Julius II granted them a Rule of their own.

Among Beatriz da Silva’s illustrious spiritual daughters are to be found two remarkable mystics: Madre Mariana de Jesús Torres y Berriochoa (c.1563-1635) to whom appeared Our Lady of Good Success and were given many revelations concerning the crisis in the Church in the twentieth century and the Venerable María de Jesús de Ágreda (1602-1665) author of the Mystical City of God.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How should we live?

One must live the way one thinks
or end up thinking
the way one has lived.

Paul Bourget

St. Stephen of Hungary

The first King of Hungary was born a pagan in 975, the son of the Hungarian chieftain Géza. Together with his father, he was baptized in 985 by St. Adalbert, the Archbishop of Prague, on which occasion he changed his heathen name Vaik (Vojk) to Stephen.

In 995, he married Gisela, a sister of Henry, the Duke of Bavaria, the future Emperor St. Henry II, and in 997 he succeeded his father as chief of the Hungarian Magyars.

In order to make Hungary a Christian nation and to establish himself more firmly as ruler, Stephen sent the Abbot Astricus to Rome to petition Pope Sylvester II for the royal dignity and the power to establish episcopal sees. The pope acceded to his wishes and, in addition, presented Stephen with a royal crown in recognition of his sovereignty.

The new King of the Hungarians endeavored above all to establish his nation on a sound moral foundation and to that end he suppressed blasphemy, murder, adultery and other public crimes, and established a feudal system throughout Hungary. To this day, King Stephen is universally recognized as the architect of the independent realm of Hungary.

He founded a monastery in Jerusalem and hospices for pilgrims at Rome, Ravenna, and Constantinople. A close friend of St. Bruno, he also corresponded with St. Odilo of Cluny. The last years of his life were embittered by illness and family troubles. When late in 1031 his only son, Emeric, lost his life on a bear hunt, his cherished hope of transferring the reins of government into the hands of a pious Christian prince were shattered.

During his lifetime a quarrel arose among his various nephews concerning the right of succession, and some of them even took part in a conspiracy against his life. He was buried beside his son at Stuhlweissenburg, and both were canonized together in 1083.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God."
"Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out with powerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges.

"Gathering together the testimonies of the Christians of earlier days, St. Robert Bellarmine exclaimed: 'And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the thought that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought him into the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes ... '"

Quotes above are taken from Pope Pius XII’s Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus defining the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It was fitting...

"It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep
her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who
had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles.
It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live
in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross
and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had
escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father.
It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that
she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God."

Pope Pius XII—Definition of the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Mary is the most perfect and most holy work of God

Mary is the most perfect and most holy work of God, for
as St. Bonaventure said,
God can create a greater and more perfect world,
but He cannot exalt a creature to higher dignity
than that to which He exalted Mary.

St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe

The second son of pious parents, St. Maximilian Kolbe was born on January 8, 1894 at Zdunska Wola in Poland, which at that time was under Russian occupation. In Baptism he received the name of Raymond.

Seriousness and recollection marked his nature even as a child. One day, while correcting him, his mother chided him saying, “Son, I don’t know what is going to become of you!” This comment so impressed itself upon him that Raymond turned to Our Lady in prayer asking her the same question. The Virgin Mary appeared to him and presented him with two crowns, one of white roses, the other of red ones. She asked him if he were willing to accept either of them, explaining that the white one symbolized a life of perfect chastity and the red that he would die a martyr. The boy joyfully replied that he would accept both. For the rest of his life, Raymond preserved a strong and tender devotion for the Blessed Virgin who, time and time again, was to prove his unfailing intercessor and constant protector. His confidence in Our Lady was total.

Raymond Kolbe enrolled in the Franciscan minor seminary at Lwów in 1907 where he received the religious name of Maximilian. He professed his final vows in 1914 in Rome, at which time he adopted the additional name of Maria in honor of his devotion to the Blessed Virgin, whom he invoked under the title of “the Immaculata.” Ordained in 1918, he returned to Poland the following year with doctorates in theology and philosophy, but seriously ill with tuberculosis. His lectures and conversations during his year and a half in the sanatorium of Zakopane, where he was sent for his own recovery from the brink of death, became the catalyst of a number of conversions.

Friar Maximilian was an avid defender of Holy Mother Church and of the Holy Father. While still a seminarian in Rome, he organized the Militia of the Immaculata – a spiritual army explicitly founded to combat Communism and Freemasonry, which were taking hold in Russia and Europe, to work for the conversion of sinners and the enemies of the Catholic Church through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. He boldly launched into publishing as a means of apostolate and was soon running one of the largest publishing houses in the entire world that produced a daily newspaper, a monthly magazine, a calendar, and books on various topics, all printed in several languages. Radio was likewise utilized as a means of evangelization and to speak out against the growing atrocities of the Nazi regime.

In 1927 Maximilian Kolbe founded Niepokalanów, the “City of the Immaculata” where he fulfilled the office of superior until 1930. The next six years he spent as a missionary in Japan where he taught philosophy in the major seminary. There he also founded a second “City of the Immaculata” which became one of the great missionary centers in Japan. From 1936 until his death, he again served as superior in Niepokalanów, Poland. By 1939 the religious community there consisted of 762 friars and presented a considerable moral force in Poland on the very eve of the Second World War.

Maximilian Kolbe was arrested by the German Gestapo on February 17, 1941. He was transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp three months later. At the end of July, when three prisoners disappeared, ten men were picked to be starved to death in punishment and as a warning to anyone else who attempted to escape. Kolbe volunteered to take the place of one of the men who was a young husband and father.

While awaiting death, Maximilian helped prepare the souls of the condemned men and encouraged them by constant reminders that they would soon be in heaven. After two weeks of starvation and dehydration, he was the only one left alive and on August 14 the guards gave him a lethal injection of carbolic acid. His emaciated body was cremated on the feast of the Assumption of Mary.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Why the citizens of a country should fear God

He who is faithful to God
is faithful to his country and to his family,
and the more the fear of God animates the citizens of a country,
the greater and the more respected will the nation be.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus

Pontian was elected pope in 230 and reigned until the year 235. The schism of Hippolytus continued during his episcopate. Towards the end of his pontificate there was a reconciliation between the schismatic party and its leader with the Roman pontiff. After the condemnation of Origen at Alexandria, a synod was held by Pontian in Rome, which concurred in the decisions of the Alexandrian synod against Origen.

In 235 during the reign of Maximinus the Thracian a persecution directed chiefly against the heads of the Church began. One of its first victims was Pontian, who with Hippolytus was banished to the unhealthy island of Sardinia. To make the election of a new pope possible, Pope Pontian resigned his holy office on September 28, 235. Consequently, Anteros was elected in his stead but reigned for less than two months. Shortly before this or soon afterwards Hippolytus, who had been banished with Pontian, became reconciled to the Roman Church, and with this the schism he had caused came to an end.

How much longer Pontian endured the sufferings of exile and harsh treatment in the Sardinian mines is unknown. According to old and no longer existing accounts, he died in consequence of the privations and inhuman treatment he had to bear.

Pope Fabian (236-50), successor to Pope Anteros, had the remains of Pontian and Hippolytus brought to Rome at a later date and Pontian was buried in the papal crypt of the Catacomb of Callixtus.

Friday, August 12, 2016

How to make all things possible and easy

The reformation of the soul starts in
self-knowledge and confidence in God.
Our self-knowledge will let us know
we have many things to correct and reform

and that it cannot be done by our own efforts.
Confidence in God will let us hope in Him, know that we can do all in Him,
and that with His grace all things are possible and easy.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal

St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Born at Dijon in France in 1572, Jane was very pious and religious from a very young age. In 1592 she married the Baron de Chantal, who inherited many debts along with his title. Despite the early financial worries, she and her husband were devoted to each other and to their four children. She restored order in the household, which was on the brink of ruin, and was generous with the little she had by allowing the poor to visit her home for food. Often people who had just received food from her would pretend to leave, go around the house and get back in line for more. When asked why she let them get away with this, she replied, "What if God turned me away when I came back to him again and again with the same request?"

In 1601, the Baron was accidentally killed while hunting. It was said he forgave the man who shot him before he died. Left a widow with four young children at the age of twenty-eight, Jane took a vow of chastity and begged God to send her a spiritual guide. In a vision, God showed her the one He had intended for this very purpose. During Lent in the year 1604, while visiting her father in Dijon, the young widow recognized the orator preaching the sermon as the mysterious director who had been shown to her, and placed herself under his guidance. Francis de Sales was the Bishop of Geneva and later co-founded the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary with her.

St. Francis de Sales’ method of attaining perfection consisted in always keeping one’s will united to the Divine will, in taking so to speak one’s soul, heart, and longings into one’s hands and giving them into God’s keeping, and in seeking always to do what is pleasing to Him.

The Order of the Visitation was founded in 1610 for those women desirous of seeking perfection but unable to subject themselves to the austere practices of penance and mortification in force in all the religious orders at the time.

Often sought after for spiritual counsel, Mother de Chantal would frequently advise: "Should you fall even fifty times a day, never on any account should that surprise or worry you, instead, ever so gently set your heart back in the right direction and practice the opposite virtue, all the while speaking words of love and trust to Our Lord after you have committed a thousand faults, as much as if you had committed only one. Once we have humbled ourselves for the faults which God allows us to become aware of in ourselves; we must forget them and go forward."

Jane Frances de Chantal died in 1641 at sixty-nine years of age and was canonized in 1767.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

This is worth more than all the knowledge in the world

There is more value in a little study of humility
and in a single act of it
than in all the knowledge in the world.

St. Teresa of Avila

St. Lawrence Martyr

St. Lawrence, one of the deacons of the Roman Church, was one of the victims of the persecution of Valerian in 258, like Pope Sixtus II and many other members of the Roman clergy. At the beginning of the month of August, in the year 258, the Roman emperor issued an edict, commanding that all bishops, priests, and deacons should be put to death. This imperial command was immediately carried out in the city of Rome. On the 6th Pope Sixtus II was apprehended in one of the catacombs, and executed without delay. As he was led to execution, Lawrence followed him. “Father, where are you going without your deacon?" he said. "I am not leaving you, my son," answered the Pope, "in three days you will follow me." Two other deacons, Felicissimus and Agapitus, were put to death the same day. Three days later, on the 10th of August of that same year, Lawrence, the last of the seven deacons, also suffered a martyr’s death.

St. Ambrose of Milan and the poet Prudentius, give particular details about St. Lawrence’s death. Ambrose relates that when St. Lawrence was asked to bring forth the treasures of the Church he hastily traveled throughout the city, gathering the poor. On the third day, he brought them to the prefect, who believed the Church had treasure hidden away, and said, “These are the treasures of the Church." The disappointed prefect angrily condemned Lawrence to death. The saint was stripped of his clothing and tied on top of a gird-iron over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little. Defiant in spite of his intense suffering, the holy deacon audaciously commanded his executioners “Turn me over. That side is cooked.” The holy audacity of this deacon-martyr inspires noble souls until today.

St. Lawrence is considered one of the most venerated martyrs of the Catholic Church since the fourth century.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

If you want to be always in God's company, pray and read

Prayer purifies us,
reading instructs us …
If a man wants to be always in God’s company,
he must pray regularly and read regularly.
When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us.

St. Isidore of Seville

Bl. Amadeus of Portugal

João Mendes da Silva, better known as the Blessed Amadeus of Portugal, was born in 1420 in Campo Maior on the eastern side of the country. The youngest son of twelve children, he was closely related to the Counts of Vila Real and Viana do Alentejo, whose lands lay near the border of Portugal and Spain. St. Beatriz da Silva, the foundress of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, was one of his sisters, and a strong devotion to this prerogative of Our Lady – centuries before it was defined as a dogma – was a profound spiritual characteristic they both shared.

João was married very young, but soon after entered the Hieronymite monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe in Spain, where he spent about ten years. Inspired by a vision of the Immaculate Conception of Mary Most Holy to join the Franciscans, he sought admission to their friary in Ubeda in Lombardy where he entered as a lay brother in 1452 and took the name of Amadeus.

Initially not well received by his confreres, some of whom took him for a religious fraud, he was widely persecuted within the Order bearing all the humiliations inflicted upon him with great patience. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1459 at the insistence of his superiors. Amadeus subsequently became renowned throughout the houses of the Order for his holiness and miracles.

In 1469, he founded the Friary of Notre Dame de la Paix under the protection of the Archbishop of Milan. This friary soon became the center of a Franciscan reform which eventually spread throughout Italy and beyond. When the Minister General of the Franciscan Order, Francesco della Rovere, was elected to the throne of Peter as Pope Sixtus IV, he summoned Amadeus to Rome to be his confessor and counselor.

The reform of the Franciscan Order begun by St. Amadeus led to his founding of a distinct branch of the Friars Minor which was ultimately named after him. Amadeus later returned to Milan, where he died in 1482.