Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Come As You Are by Crowder

St. Thérèse de Lisieux on Prayer


“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
― St. Thérèse de Lisieux

Pope Francis: Prepare and pray during our "dark times”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) Prepare and pray: they are the "things" to do ahead of those "dark times" that "we will all have".  And even lament, in those moments, becomes prayer and not "overdramatized". The was the focus of Pope Francis' homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta, inspired by a passage from the Book of Job who bent by misfortune, curses the day he was born.

The Pope noted that his prayer at first appears to us like a curse. He recalled how Job was "put to the test", how he "lost his entire family, everything he possessed", how he lost his health and "his body had become a plague, a disgusting plague". The Pope said in that moment "he had lost all patience and he says these things. They are ugly! But he was always accustomed to speak the truth and this is the truth that he feels at that moment". Pope Francis recalled how even Jeremiah, "uses almost the same words: 'Cursed be the day I was born!'", and then he asked: "But is this man blaspheming? This is my question: Is this man who is so very alone, blaspheming?".

"Is it blasphemy when Jesus complains - 'Father, why have You forsaken me'? This is the mystery. I have often listened to people who are experiencing difficult and painful situations, who have lost a great deal or feel lonely and abandoned and they come to complain and ask these questions: Why? Why? They rebel against God. And I say, 'Continue to pray just like this, because this is a prayer'. It was a prayer when Jesus said to his father: 'Why have You forsaken me!'".

The Pope continued that what Job is doing in the First Reading is praying, because prayer means being truthful before God. This was the only way Job could pray. "We should pray with reality - he added - true prayer comes from the heart, from the moment that we are living in". "It is prayer in times of darkness, in those moments of life that seem hopeless, where we cannot see the horizon". "And so many people, so many today, are in the same situation as Job. So many good people, just like Job, do not understand what has happened to them, or why. Many brothers and sisters who have no hope. Just think of the tragedies, the great tragedies, for example, of these brothers and sisters of ours who because they are Christians were driven out of their homes and left with nothing: 'But, Lord, I have believed in you. Why? Is believing in you a curse, Lord? '".

"Just think of the elderly who are sidelined - he continued - think of the sick, of the many lonely people in hospitals". The Pope assured that the Church prays for all of these people and for those of us when we walk in darkness. "The Church prays! She takes this pain upon herself and prays". And those of us who "are not sick, or hungry, who have no pressing needs, when we suffer a little darkness of soul, act like martyrs and stop praying".

The Pope continued that there are even those who say: "I am angry with God, I will not go to Mass". "But why? Over some trifling thing" is the answer. Pope Francis recalled that St. Therese of the Child Jesus, in the last months of her life, "tried to think of heaven, but heard a voice within herself, telling her not to be silly, not to be led astray by fantasies. Do you know what awaits you? Nothing!".

"We all go through this situation, we experience this situation. There are so many people who think it all ends in nothing. Yet Saint Teresa, prayed and asked for strength to persevere in the dark. This is called entering into patience. Our life is too easy, our complaints are overdramatized. Faced with the complaints of so many people, of so many brothers and sisters who are in the dark, who have almost lost all memory, almost lost all hope - who are experiencing this exile from themselves, who are exiled, even from themselves - nothing! Jesus walked this path: from sunset on the Mount of Olives to the last word from the Cross: 'Father, why have you forsaken me!".

Pope Francis concluded that there are two things that can help in such situations: "First, to prepare ourselves for when the darkness comes" which perhaps, will not be as hard as that of Job, "but which will come. Prepare your heart for that moment". Second: "Pray, pray as the Church prays, pray with the Church for so many brothers and sisters who suffer exile from themselves, who are in darkness and suffering, without hope at hand." It is the prayer of the Church for these 'Suffering Jesus' who are everywhere".


St. Therese of Lisieux on the Holy Eucharist


"Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you - for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart...don't listen to the demon, laugh at him, and go without fear to receive the Jesus of peace and love..."

"Receive Communion often, very often...there you have the sole remedy, if you want to be cured. Jesus has not put this attraction in your heart for nothing..."

"The guest of our soul knows our misery; He comes to find an empty tent within us - that is all He asks."

- St. Therese of Lisieux

Fr. James Martin, S.J. on St. Therese of Lisieux

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fraternite Monastique de Jerusalem

St. Jerome and the Psalms


Saint of the day: Jerome


Today is the Feast of the great St. Jerome. Jerome was the holy scripture scholar known as much for his love of the scriptures as for his bad temper! The following is from the American Catholic site:

Most of the saints are remembered for some outstanding virtue or devotion which they practiced, but Jerome is frequently remembered for his bad temper! It is true that he had a very bad temper and could use a vitriolic pen, but his love for God and his Son Jesus Christ was extraordinarily intense; anyone who taught error was an enemy of God and truth, and St. Jerome went after him or her with his mighty and sometimes sarcastic pen.

He was above all a Scripture scholar, translating most of the Old Testament from the Hebrew. He also wrote commentaries which are a great source of scriptural inspiration for us today. He was an avid student, a thorough scholar, a prodigious letter-writer and a consultant to monk, bishop and pope. St. Augustine said of him, "What Jerome is ignorant of, no mortal has ever known."

St. Jerome is particularly important for having made a translation of the Bible which came to be called the Vulgate. It is not the most critical edition of the Bible, but its acceptance by the Church was fortunate. As a modern scholar says, "No man before Jerome or among his contemporaries and very few men for many centuries afterwards were so well qualified to do the work." The Council of Trent called for a new and corrected edition of the Vulgate, and declared it the authentic text to be used in the Church.

In order to be able to do such work, Jerome prepared himself well. He was a master of Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Chaldaic. He began his studies at his birthplace, Stridon in Dalmatia (in the former Yugoslavia). After his preliminary education he went to Rome, the center of learning at that time, and thence to Trier, Germany, where the scholar was very much in evidence. He spent several years in each place, always trying to find the very best teachers.

After these preparatory studies he traveled extensively in Palestine, marking each spot of Christ's life with an outpouring of devotion. Mystic that he was, he spent five years in the desert of Chalcis so that he might give himself up to prayer, penance and study. Finally he settled in Bethlehem, where he lived in the cave believed to have been the birthplace of Christ. On September 30 in the year 420, Jerome died in Bethlehem. The remains of his body now lie buried in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Worn by Tenth Avenue North


Celebrating the Archangels: 7 things to know and share

The following comes from Jimmy Akin at NCR:

September 29th is the feast of St.s Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael—archangels.
These are the only three angels whose names are mentioned in Scripture, and this is their day.
Here are 7 things to know and share . . .
 
1) What is an archangel?
The word “archangel” (Greek, archangelos) means “high-ranking angel”—the same way that “archbishop” means a high-ranking bishop.
Only St. Michael is described as an archangel in Scripture (Jude 9), but it is common to honor St.s Gabriel and Raphael as archangels also.
 
2) Why are they called “saints” if they’re angels rather than humans?
The word “saint” (Greek, hagios) means “holy one.”
It does not mean “holy human being.” As a result, it can apply to holy ones that aren’t human.
Since St.s Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael all chose to side with God rather than the devil, they are holy angels and thus saints.
All angels that sided with God are saints, but these three’s names are known to us, and so they are picked out by name in the liturgy.
 
3) Does this day have any other names?
Yes. Traditionally in English it has also been called “Michaelmas” (i.e., the Mass that celebrates St. Michael, on the same principle that “Christmas” is the Mass that celebrates Christ’s birth).
 
4) What do we know about St. Michael?
His name means “Who is like God?” (The implied answer is: Nobody; God is the greatest there is.)
St. Michael is mentioned by name in three books of Scripture:
  • In Daniel, he is described as “one of the chief princes” in the heavenly hierarchy (Dan. 10:13). He is also described to Daniel as “your prince” (Dan. 10:12). The meaning of this phrase is later clarified, and Michael is described as “the great prince who has charge of your people” (Dan. 12:1). He is thus depicted as the guardian angel of Israel. These same passages also refer to Michael doing battle against the spiritual forces at work against Israel.
  • In Jude 9, Michael is said to have contended with the devil over the body of Moses. On this occasion, we are told, “he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’”
  • In Revelation, Michael and his angels are depicted fighting the devil and casting them out of heaven (Rev. 12:7-8). He is also commonly identified as the angel who binds the devil and seals him in the bottomless pit for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3), though the name “Michael” is not given on this occasion.
 
5) What do we know about St. Gabriel?
His name means “God is my warrior” (meaning, essentially, “God is my defender”).
St. Gabriel is mentioned in two books of Scripture:
  • In Daniel, he is assigned to help Daniel understand the meaning of a vision he has seen (Dan. 8:16). Later, while Daniel is in a prolonged period of prayer, Gabriel comes to him (Dan. 9:21) and gives him the prophecy of “seventy weeks of years” concerning Israel’s future (Dan. 9:24-27).
  • In Luke, he appears to Zechariah the priest and announces the conception and birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:13-19). Later, he appears to the Virgin Mary and announces the conception and birth of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:26-33).
 
6) What do we know about St. Raphael?
His name means “God heals.”
St. Raphael is mentioned in a single book of Scripture: Tobit.
In Tobit, the blind Tobit and the maid Sarah, whose seven husbands have been killed by the demon Asmodeus, pray to God.
The prayer of both was heard in the presence of the glory of the great God. And Raphael was sent to heal the two of them: to scale away the white films of Tobit’s eyes; to give Sarah the daughter of Raguel in marriage to Tobias the son of Tobit, and to bind Asmodeus the evil demon, because Tobias was entitled to possess her (Tob. 3:16-17).
Raphael thus becomes a travelling companion of Tobias, posing as a relative named Azarias son of Ananias (Tob. 5:12). He eventually binds the demon, enabling Tobias to safely marry Sarah, and provides the means for Tobit to be healed of his blindness.
Afterward, he reveals his true identity, saying:
I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One (Tob. 12:15).
 
7) How is this day celebrated?
In addition to its commemoration in the liturgy, there are various local ways of celebrating this day. See here for some examples.
See also here.
It might also be a good day to say the Prayer to St. Michael:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Feast of the Archangels


Angels are not like the other saints on the Church's calendar who were all human beings. Angels are celestial beings created on a higher order than man. They are completely spiritual beings; they have intelligence and will; they are personal and immortal creatures. Angels are the servants and messengers of God -- in fact, this is what the word "angel" means. Several different kinds (or ranks) of angels are mentioned in the Bible: angels, archangels, cherubim, seraphim, thrones, choirs, dominions, principalities, and powers.

The feast of Saint Michael, one of the seven archangels of Scripture, originated in the sixth century. It was known, in English, as "Michaelmas", and this name lives on in a wildflower, a white aster with many small star-like flowers, that blooms in late September, known as the Michaelmas daisy.

Recently two other of the archangels named in scripture, Gabriel and Raphael, are also honored on this day.

Michael the archangel, whose name in Hebrew means "Who is like God?", is revered as the leader of the angelic army who will conquer Satan and his armies of demons, and is considered the defender of the Church. Michael is more often represented in art thank any other angelic being. He is often shown wearing armor, in the act of slaying the great Dragon of the Apocalypse [Satan] in Revelation 12:7-9.

The archangel Gabriel, whose name in Hebrew means "Strength of God", announced the birth of John the Baptist to Zachariah, and soon after, announced to Mary that she was to become the mother of Our Lord. His address to her, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee" (the "angelic salutation") is familiar to all who say the Rosary.

The archangel Raphael, whose name means medic or ointment of God, is mentioned by name in the Old Testament book of Tobit (Tobias), whom the angel aided by healing him of blindness and guiding him on his travels.

To learn more about them click here.

A Prayer to Saint Michael
Saint Michael, Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness
and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.


-- Pope Leo XIII

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cistercian Chant: Testamentum Eternum

Feast of the day: Wenceslaus



The following comes from the Catholic Online site:

St. Wenceslaus (903-29), also known by Vaclav, was born near Prague, and was the son of Duke Wratislaw. He was taught Christianity by his grandmother, St. Ludmila. The Magyars, along with Drahomira, an anti-Christian faction murdered the Duke and St. Lumila, and took over the government. Wenceslaus was declared the new ruler after a coup in 922. He encouraged Christianity. Boleslaus, his brother, no longer successor to the throne, after Wenceslaus' son was born, joined a group of noble Czech dissenters. They invited Wenceslaus to a religious festival, trapped and killed him on the way to Mass. He is the patron saint of Bohemia and his feast day is Sept. 28.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saint of the day: Vincent de Paul

The following comes from the American Catholic site:

The deathbed confession of a dying servant opened Vincent's eyes to the crying spiritual needs of the peasantry of France. This seems to have been a crucial moment in the life of the man from a small farm in Gascony, France, who had become a priest with little more ambition than to have a comfortable life.
It was the Countess de Gondi (whose servant he had helped) who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among poor tenant farmers and country people in general. Vincent was too humble to accept leadership at first, but after working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the leader of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians. These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.

Later, Vincent established confraternities of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Daughters of Charity, "whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city." He organized the rich women of Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects, founded several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war and ransomed over 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. He was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and was instrumental in establishing seminaries.

Most remarkably, Vincent was by temperament a very irascible person—even his friends admitted it. He said that except for the grace of God he would have been "hard and repulsive, rough and cross." But he became a tender and affectionate man, very sensitive to the needs of others.

Pope Leo XIII made him the patron of all charitable societies. Outstanding among these, of course, is the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, founded in 1833 by his admirer Blessed Frederic Ozanam (September 7).

Friday, September 26, 2014

Kyrie Eleison

Saints Cosmos and Damian

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Changed by Rascal Flatts

The Art of Contemplative & Mystical Prayer

The following comes from The Catholic Exchange:

Contemplative prayer has the tendency to become ever simpler and more silent. As we gain experience in this form of prayer we need fewer and fewer thoughts, until finally one single thought may be sufficient to find the way to truth and God. Fewer thoughts demand fewer words. St. Francis used the phrase “My God and my all” as his theme of contemplation for a whole night.
In contemplation our mode of thinking changes. From its usual restlessness it becomes a quiet beholding and a comprehending, a watching and a witnessing. Our voice changes: it becomes softer and lower. Finally, speech dies down and its place is taken by a silent regarding and longing between the soul and God. If we should reach this stage in contemplation, we should not force ourselves back into the diversity of thought. When simplicity contains the essence, there is no need for diversity; when silence is eloquent, it is greater than words.
There are people to whom a profusion of thought and words are alien. With them, the state of quietude, which others take consid­erable time to establish, is very quickly reached. They require only very few words; anything beyond it would merely confuse them. They may not even need any words or thoughts in order to establish the state of mind in which they experience the presence of God. If that is so, they need not search any farther. They should, however, not take this for granted. It may happen that on another occasion they need a proper subject for contemplation and must have recourse to a proper text.
We cannot do more here than give a general description of the character and practice of contemplative prayer. It must take differ­ent forms with different people. Thus what we have said should not be regarded as a general rule but merely as a survey which may give some guidance in individual cases.
Some people find contemplation very much easier than others. Some people are by nature quieter and more introspective than others who are highly strung and permanently keyed up for action. Again, the form of contemplation must vary with individual disposition. The slow, plodding, and methodical person will set about it in a different way from someone who is quick and impres­sionable, the imaginative person in a different way from the abstract thinker.
There are no general rules. What matters is that we should seek the truth and that through truth we should strive after God. Also, contemplation changes in character with time and circumstances.

Mystical prayer erases barriers between man and God

It may happen in contemplation that we have a strange experience. We may have been reflecting on God in faith alone. Suddenly, God is present. This is not due to any intensity of devotion on our part, nor does it imply that we have an especially vivid idea of God or that our heart is overflowing with love for Him. It is not anything of this kind. It is a sudden feeling that we are faced with an entirely new and different experience: a wall which was there before is there no more.
Usually the idea of God is before us like everything else, including ourselves. It is before us in the space of our conscious­ness as a concept or thought. This concept of God affects us, moves us to love, or exhorts us to certain actions. In the experi­ence which we are discussing, the barrier of thought disappears and gives place to immediate and direct awareness.
This, at first, may be most confusing. We feel moved in an entirely new way; we feel that we have been transported into a state hitherto unknown. Our intuition tells us that this is God or at any rate connected with Him. This intimation may frighten us. We do not know whether we dare presume that this intuition is true and we are uncertain what to do. However, the intuition becomes a certainty, even an absolute certainty which leaves no room for doubt. The doubts may come afterwards when, for exam­ple, we discover that our usual ideas about the inner life have lost their meaning or when we discover that other people have no knowledge of these things.
Another element of confusion is that we lack the words to describe our experience. We know what it is but we also know that it cannot be conveyed in words — not only because it is so great and powerful, but simply because there is no expression for it. We can merely say something like: “It is holy; it is close; it is more important than anything else; it is sufficient in itself; it is quiet, tender, simple; it is almost nothing and yet it is everything — it is He.” We could put it this way, yet know that it would convey nothing to our listener unless he also had experienced it.