Sunday, December 17, 2017

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Saint of the day: John of the Cross


Today we remember a great mystic in the Church! Saint John of the Cross (24 June 1542-–14 December 1591) was a major figure of the Counter-Reformation, a Spanish mystic, and Carmelite friar and priest, born at Fontiveros, a small village near Ávila, Spain.

The following comes from the Catholic Online Site:

Born in Spain in 1542, John learned the importance of self-sacrificing love from his parents. His father gave up wealth, status, and comfort when he married a weaver's daughter and was disowned by his noble family. After his father died, his mother kept the destitute family together as they wandered homeless in search of work. These were the examples of sacrifice that John followed with his own great love -- God.

When the family finally found work, John still went hungry in the middle of the wealthiest city in Spain. At fourteen, John took a job caring for hospital patients who suffered from incurable diseases and madness. It was out of this poverty and suffering, that John learned to search for beauty and happiness not in the world, but in God.

After John joined the Carmelite order, Saint Teresa of Avila asked him to help her reform movement. John supported her belief that the order should return to its life of prayer. But many Carmelites felt threatened by this reform, and some members of John's own order kidnapped him. He was locked in a cell six feet by ten feet and beaten three times a week by the monks. There was only one tiny window high up near the ceiling. Yet in that unbearable dark, cold, and desolation, his love and faith were like fire and light. He had nothing left but God -- and God brought John his greatest joys in that tiny cell.

After nine months, John escaped by unscrewing the lock on his door and creeping past the guard. Taking only the mystical poetry he had written in his cell, he climbed out a window using a rope made of stirps of blankets. With no idea where he was, he followed a dog to civilization. He hid from pursuers in a convent infirmary where he read his poetry to the nuns. From then on his life was devoted to sharing and explaining his experience of God's love.

His life of poverty and persecution could have produced a bitter cynic. Instead it gave birth to a compassionate mystic, who lived by the beliefs that "Who has ever seen people persuaded to love God by harshness?" and "Where there is no love, put love -- and you will find love."

John left us many books of practical advice on spiritual growth and prayer that are just as relevant today as they were then.

Charlene Richard: "The Little Cajun Saint" and God's Healing Power

The following comes from the Chicago Tribune:

Mary Lou Swanson’s body was shutting down after battling a rare and debilitating autoimmune disease affecting her brain for nearly a decade.

The 54-year-old North Aurora woman could no longer eat solid food. She had signed legal documents asking medical personnel not to resuscitate her if her heart stopped beating. And after talking through funeral plans with her husband, she relied on her religious beliefs to bring her peace in the face of death, which Swanson felt was closing in.

“I thought this is God’s will, and this is his answer to all my pain and suffering,” Swanson recalled. “At that point, I didn’t have much of a life, and I thought maybe he’s just giving me peace as a gift.”

What happened next is something Swanson herself admits is almost inconceivable.


After seeing a segment on the long-running program “Unsolved Mysteries” about a grave site in Louisiana where hundreds of people flock weekly to pray for healing, Swanson persuaded her husband to take her there.

Within a day after running her fingers over the tombstone of 12-year-old Charlene Richard, “the Little Cajun Saint” who, according to legend, offered up all her suffering to others when she died of leukemia in 1959, Swanson’s symptoms began to disappear. Weeks later, her doctor confirmed Swanson’s disease, limbic encephalitis — which affects about 1 in 100,000 people and can be fatal — had suddenly gone into remission.

She no longer needed the medicine and treatments she had relied on for years.

“We are not sure exactly what happened, and we are not sure why it reversed itself,” said Dr. Ronald Glas, a family physician at Edward Hospital who has overseen Swanson’s care since before she was ever sick. “I’m not sure what to attribute it to.”


Read the rest here.




A PRAYER TO CHARLENE RICHARD

Charlene, when you were only twelve years old, you showed heroic faith, hope, and love; dying of leukemia, you joined yourself to Jesus on His Cross and offered your intense pain for others. You thereby echoed St. Pauls words to his people in Colossians 1, 24: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His Body, the Church.


Charlene, I believe you are with God. Please ask our Heavenly Father, His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit to grant me the following favor: (mention favor sought)


Charlene, thank you for helping me. May Jesus Christ always be praised. May Mary, Jesus Ever-Virgin Mother, always be called blessed.  Amen.




Monday, December 11, 2017

St. Juan Diego and the Miraculous Proof

The following comes from Word on Fire:
One of the ways to prove the Catholic claim is through miracles.  Catholicism, unique amongst all the faiths on Earth, has colorable claims of miraculous events with evidence.  One of these miraculous events is Our Lady's appearance to St. Juan Diego from December 9th to the 12th of 1531. You can find the full story here. And here's Her image on the tilma of St. Juan Diego.
 Now, there have been serious questions about whether this apparition is real.  I firmly believe it is, and the Church canonized St. Juan Diego, suggesting She does as well.  The arguments against the apparition become less compelling when you try and piece them together.  For example, it's claimed that since the Spanish didn't write about this event for over a decade (which is apparently true: the first existent writing we have from the Spanish is from 1548), then it didn't exist.  But given that the Spanish were often clueless about Aztec life, and didn't speak the Nahuatl language, this isn't a particularly troubling occurrence. There's little question that this was a devotion popular amongst Aztec converts, rather than Spanish cradle Catholics.  And while the Spanish don't write about the apparition (at first), there is plenty of historical evidence that after 1531, the number of Aztecs seeking Baptism jumps through the roof: As Called to Communion explains:

"This miracle precipitated the greatest flood of conversions in the whole history of Christianity. In the seven years following this miracle, approximately eight million Aztecs converted to Christianity [...]
Prior to this event, the Aztecs were offering thousands of human sacrifices per year in central Mexico, including child sacrifice. The conversion of the Aztecs to Christianity ended the brutal practice of human sacrifice, and helped bring Central and South America to Christianity."
Then there's also the fact that Santa Maria de Guadalupe is a religious devotion amongst the Spanish, leading other critics to claim that the Spanish made this myth up to convert the Aztecs.  This theory makes the most sense of the critical ones, but it doesn't hold water.  As we just established, the Spanish seemed unaware of the devotion in its early days.  Surely, if they were the ones spreading it, we'd see some documentation that they were - something in a diary about how they were explaining the Virgin of Guadalupe to the Aztecs.  There's nothing of the sort.  Instead, many of the earliest Spanish writings are skeptical, while it's the Aztecs themselves who are the believers. Besides this, fiber testing shows that this tilma isn't Spanish in origin, but is made from Mexican hemp.
 The picture that emerges is a fascinating one.  It seems too Mexican to be Spanish, and too Spanish to be Mexican.  And it's far too Christian to be a warmed-over Aztec goddess cult, one of the other theories.  Called to Communion notes:
"The image shows Mary as a humble but royal maiden. Under her feet is the Moon, which for the Aztecs represented the devil. In this way the image depicts Mary as crushing the head of the serpent, and corresponds to the description of the woman described in Revelation 12."
Consider this for a moment: Mary and Her Seed, Christ, are depicted stepping on the head of Satan in Genesis 3:15.  Later, She's depicted as pregnant with Jesus stepping on the moon in Revelation 12:1. Neither the Spanish nor the Aztecs made these accounts up.  They're from separate Books of Scripture, and each predate the apparitions by well over a millenia.  Yet given the Aztec symbology, with its curious identification of the moon with the devil, this image served as beautiful exegesis explaining Mary's Biblical role in salvation.  As an added twist, the Nahuatl word Coatlaxopeuh, which is pronounced like Guadalupe, means something like "One who crushes serpents" [Coa(serpent), tla (the), xopeuh (crush, stamp out)], again supporting that the one who appeared to St. Juan Diego was truly Mary, and not something sinister.

Ten Ways to Fall in Love with the Eucharist

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:


The saints are the mad-lovers of Jesus; they were on earth and now are in heaven loving God for all eternity.  In this article, we will give a list of what some saints have said in an excess of love for the most Holy Eucharist. Then we will give ten keys to unlock the treasure-case of gems to love the Eucharist more in our lives! Let us read and meditate on the fire of the saints and the Eucharist:
  •  “Holy Communion is the shortest and the safest way to Heaven.” (St. Pius X)
  •  “If the angels could be jealous of men, they would be for one reason: Holy Communion.” (St. Maximilian Kolbe)
  •  “In one day the Eucharist will make you produce more for the glory of God than a whole lifetime without it.” (St. Peter Julian Eymard)
  •  “How I love the feasts!… I especially loved the processions in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. What a joy it was for me to throw flowers beneath the feet of God!… I was never so happy as when I saw my roses touch the sacred Monstrance.” (St. Therese the Little Flower)
  •  “When you look at the Crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now.” (Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
  •  “From the Eucharist comes strength to live the Christian life and zeal to share that life with others.”  (St. John Paul II)
  •  “This is the bread of everlasting life which supports the substance of your soul.” (St. Ambrose)
  •  “The longer you stay away from Communion, the more your soul will be weak, and in the end you will become dangerously indifferent.”  (St. John Bosco)
  •  “The Eucharist is the consummation of the whole spiritual life.” (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Now let us dive into ten golden keys that can open up the infinite treasure house of jewels so as to derive countless graces and blessings from Jesus’ greatest Gift to the entire world: Holy Mass and Holy Communion, His Body, Blood Soul and Divinity!
Faith.  Beg the Lord for a greater faith in the sublime mystery of the most Holy Eucharist.   Let us say with the Apostles Saint Thomas:  “My Lord and my God.” Let us also so the prayer of the man of the Gospel: “Lord I believe but strengthen my faith!”
Visit. Make it a habit to visit the most Blessed Sacrament as often as is possible.  Hopefully when we die Jesus will not reproach us with these words: “Whenever I see a church I stop to make a visit so that when I die the Lord will not say:  “Who is it!”  Friends meet to chat, talk, and enjoy each other’s company; so should we, in visiting and talking frequently to Jesus.
Spiritual Communion. Highly recommended by St. Alphonsus Liguouri as well as Pope Benedict XVI in his document “Sacramentum Caritatis” is the frequent practice of the Spiritual Communion.   It can be done in a simple manner and as often as your heart desires.   You can say the simple prayer:  “Jesus I believe that you are truly present in the Tabernacle in your Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Now I cannot receive you sacramentally but come at least spiritually into my heart.”  Then enter into your heart and thank, praise and love the Lord who has come spiritually into your soul.  This can fan the flame of love for our Eucharistic Lord.
Read John 6.  The Gospel of John chapter six has three parts: Jesus multiples the loaves, walks on water, and then He gives a sublime discourse related to the Eucharist; actually it is a Eucharistic prophecy.   Best known as the “Bread of life discourse”, Jesus promises to give us the Bread of Life.  Also Jesus points out in no unclear terms that our immortal salvation depends upon our eating His Body and drinking His Blood, which obviously refers to Holy Communion.  Read and meditate this powerful chapter!
Fifteen Minutes. Years ago there was published a small booklet with the title “The fifteen minutes”.  It is a little gem where Jesus encourages the reader to enter into simple but profound conversation with Him. Basically Jesus wants to be our Best Friend and challenges us to open up the secret mysteries of our heart to Him and only He can truly understand the inner secrets, wounds and mysteries in our heart.   Read and pray through this booklet if possible in front of the Blessed Sacrament!
Holy Hour. Get into the habit of making a daily Holy Hour in front of the most Blessed Sacrament. It will transform your life if you persevere in the practice.  The Great Servant of God, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who made his Holy Hour faithfully for more than fifty years, called it THE HOUR OF POWER!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Stepping Deeper into Advent with Our Lady

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
Advent is a largely ignored season of the Church’s liturgical calendar. The main reason is that many of us live in cultures where the Christmas season begins on Thanksgiving, or even on Halloween. The stores and streets are decorated for Christmas earlier and earlier each year. Unfortunately, this means that a great many Catholics miss out on the motions of the liturgical year, including the beginning of a new year within the Church. It is no surprise that the Church begins the year in waiting. Advent is a season filled with meditations on the Christian life.
Advent is multi-faceted. We are waiting for the great Parousia, the Second Coming of Christ. The readings that begin the Advent season conjure up the images of Christ coming on the clouds as the Son of Man as seen in Daniel’s vision. This past Sunday we heard St. John the Baptist preparing the way for Christ. We are in a time of preparation; a time we need in our busy lives. Christmas is not something we check off our list each year. It is a holy season that goes well past the Christmas Eve Vigil which marks the beginning of the Christmas season. It is still Christmas Day on December 26, 27, 28 and on until the Octave ends. Then comes Epiphany and the Church still lives in the liturgical color of white until the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, at least in the Latin Rite.
Advent is the time we acknowledge that we are constantly waiting upon the Lord. We are waiting for him to return in His glory and wipe away every tear. We are waiting for the day we stand before the Beatific Vision upon our own death. We wait in the darkness of December for the tiny baby who is the Incarnate Word of God. Waiting is a part of the Christian journey, in fact, it is a critical part of the Christian life. We are not called to skip over Advent and jump right into Christmas. Instead the Church reminds us of the deep longing of our hearts, which is to dwell with Christ. We are reminded of the long wait of the Israelites as they awaited the Messiah. We too wait for Him to come as we watch the bloodshed, suffering, and pain of this mortal coil.
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.
Psalm 13:1-6
The best guide in this period of waiting is Our Heavenly Mother. She quietly carried and waited upon Our Lord for the 40 weeks as she held him in her womb. From the moment of her fiat at St. Gabriel’s announcement, she waited patiently to see the face of her Savior and ours. It is through her that we can contemplate the joy and sorrow of our waiting and learn what is required of us on this journey to holiness.

Humility

The great sin of Lucifer and the other fallen angels was pride. The Fall of Mankind was also mitigated by pride and a desire to be God. Humility is not self-deprecation, rather it is a proper ordering of ourselves before the Most Holy Trinity. We ask, who am I before God? Mary is the example par excellence of humility.
The angel begins with these words of humble greeting: “Hail, Mary, full of grace.” Hail, that is, most agreeable to God and full of his gifts, “the Lord is with you, and you are blessed above all women” (cf. Luke 1:28). This discourse is in a much loftier tone than the one that was addressed to Zechariah. To him the angel said, “Do not be afraid,” as to a man who has something to fear; and “your prayers have been heard.” Yet what is announced to Mary is something so sublime and excellent that she could not have asked for it in her prayers. Mary, humble, hidden, small in his eyes, could not have begun to think that an angel would greet her, especially not with such noble words. It is humility that made her heart troubled.
Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Mediations for Advent, page 41-42
When the Annunciation occurs, Mary is stunned that God has chosen her. She knows the greatness of God and her place in relation to Him, but she does not allow that knowledge to stop her from serving Him. She understands that humility also requires an acceptance of what God wants in our own lives. Humility is the beginning of the virtues of obedience and charity. In knowing our place, we are better suited to accept the mission God gives us in our own lives.
Humility should be at the forefront of our minds during this Advent season. How strange, glorious, and unexpected it is that the God of the Universe would lower Himself and become a babe in a human mother’s arms. This is not some story we accept as quaint, but true. The Incarnation is deeply disconcerting and a complete reversal of the power structures human beings have put in place since the Fall. We should fall on our faces in humility before the babe who is the Son of God and marvel at the wonderful things He has done for us. Advent is the time we prepare for this incredible mystery and we do so resting in the care of the Mother who bore Him.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception


The following is a meditation of Pope Benedict on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception from Zenit:

O Mary, Immaculate Virgin,

Again this year, with filial love, we meet at the foot of your image to renew to you the homage of the Christian community and of the city of Rome. Let us pause in prayer here, following the tradition inaugurated by previous Popes, on the solemn day in which the liturgy celebrates your Immaculate Conception, a mystery that is a source of joy and hope for all the redeemed.

We greet you and call upon you with the Angel's words: "full of grace" (Lk 1:28), the most beautiful name that God himself has called you from eternity.

"Full of grace" are you, Mary, full of divine love from the very first moment of your existence, providentially predestined to be Mother of the Redeemer and intimately connected to him in the mystery of salvation.

In your Immaculate Conception shines forth the vocation of Christ's disciples, called to become, with his grace, saints and immaculate through love (cf. Eph 1:4). In you shines the dignity of every human being who is always precious in the Creator's eyes.

Those who look to you, All Holy Mother, never lose their serenity, no matter what the hardships of life.

Although the experience of sin is a sad one since it disfigures the dignity of God's children, anyone who turns to you discovers the beauty of truth and love and finds the path that leads to the Father's house.

"Full of grace", are you, Mary, which, welcoming with your "yes" to the Creator's plan, opened to us the path of salvation. Teach us also at your school to say our "yes" to the Lord's will. Let it be a "yes" that joins with your own "yes", without reservations or shadows, a "yes" that the Heavenly Father willed to have need of in order to beget the new Man, Christ, the one Saviour of the world and of history.

Give us the courage to say "no" to the deceptions of power, money, pleasure; to dishonest earnings, corruption and hypocrisy, to selfishness and violence; "no" to the Evil One, the deceitful prince of this world; to say "yes" to Christ, who destroys the power of evil with the omnipotence of love. We know that only hearts converted to Love, which is God, can build a better future for all.

"Full of grace", are you, Mary! For all generations your name is a pledge of sure hope. Yes! Because as the great poet, Dante, wrote, for us mortals you are "a source of living hope" (Paradise, XXXIII, 12). Let us come once again as trusting pilgrims to draw faith and comfort, joy and love, safety and peace from this source, the wellspring of your Immaculate Heart.

Virgin "full of grace", show yourself to be a tender and caring Mother to those who live in this city of yours, so that the true Gospel spirit may enliven and guide their conduct; show yourself as Mother and watchful keeper of Italy and Europe, so that people may draw from their ancient Christian roots fresh vigour to build their present and their future; show yourself as a provident and merciful Mother to the whole world so that, by respecting human dignity and rejecting every form of violence and exploitation, sound foundations may be laid for the civilization of love.

Show yourself as Mother, especially to those most in need: the defenceless, the marginalized and outcasts, to the victims of a society that all too often sacrifices the human person for other ends and interests.

Show yourself, O Mary, as Mother of all, and give us Christ, the Hope of the world! "Monstra Te esse Matrem", O Virgin Immaculate, full of grace! Amen!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Novena to the Immaculate Conception: Day 9

Don Bosco Credited all his achievements to the Blessed Virgin; in his sermons and talks he kept repeating that all the success of the Oratory and the Congregation was due to Mary's goodness.  Throughout his life he never took an important step without first entrusting his plans to her protection.

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope.
To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To Thee do we send up our sighs mourning
and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
Thine Eyes of Mercy toward us,
and after this our exile show us the
Blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

O Mary, conceived without sin
Pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Saint Who Punched a Heretic


The following comes from Brandon Vogt

Today marks the feast of St. Nicholas, a saint remembered by most for his association with Santa Claus, some for his commendable charity, but a small number for his famous punch against a third-century heretic.
As the story goes, during the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea (AD 325) there was a big argument over the divinity of Christ. Arius, a heretical bishop, believed that Christ was not divine, but rather just a creature. The Council challenged him to defend his claims in front of his brother bishops, including jolly old St. Nicholas.
St. Nicholas tried to listen patiently but he considered Arius’ proposal so radical, so heretical, that he could no longer contain himself. In the middle of the speech, he rose with a scowl, charged toward Arius, and punched him right in the face.
The noted Punch is memorialized in many icons and works of art, including this piece:
Unfortunately, the Punch got St. Nichols into serious trouble. The Emperor Constantine was present at the Council, and he was so alarmed by St. Nicholas’ act of violence that he and the other bishops stripped Nicholas of his office and confiscated his two episcopal markers: his personal copy of the Gospels and his pallium, the vestment worn by all bishops in the East.
But the story didn’t stop there. According to tradition:
 
“After Nicholas was deposed, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary visited Nicholas who was being held in a prison cell for his fist-fight with the heretic.

Our Lord Jesus Christ asked Saint Nicholas, “Why are you here?” Nicholas responded, “Because I love you, my Lord and my God.”

Christ then presented Nicholas with his copy of the Gospels. Next, the Blessed Virgin vested Nicholas with his episcopal pallium, thus restoring him to his rank as a bishop.

When the Emperor Constantine heard of this miracle, he immediately ordered that Nicholas be reinstated as a bishop in good standing for the Council of Nicea. Today we recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday so we know how the controversy played out. The bishops at Nicea sided with Saint Nicholas and Saint Athanasius and they condemned Arius as a heretic.

To this very day, we still recite in the Creed that Christ is “God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.””

St. Nicholas’ redemption as a bishop is memorialized in the icon below. Notice Christ (left) holding out the book of the Gospels, Mary (right) holding out the episcopal pallium, and Nicholas (center) holding the Gospels and wearing the pallium:

Novena to the Immaculate Conception: Day 8

The boys often said among themselves: "Don Bosco must be very influential with Our Lady because she obtains so many favors for him!"

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope.
To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To Thee do we send up our sighs mourning
and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
Thine Eyes of Mercy toward us,
and after this our exile show us the
Blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

O Mary, conceived without sin
Pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Novena to the Immaculate Conception: Day 7

With his usual zeal, Dominic Savio selected several of hs most trusted friends and asked them to join him in founding a sodality to be called the Immaculate Conception Sodality. Its purpose was to seek the protection of the Mother of God in life and especially at the hour of death by promoting practices of piety in honor of Mary Immaculate as well as frequent communion. This initiative greatly consoled Don Bosco.

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope.
To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To Thee do we send up our sighs mourning
and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
Thine Eyes of Mercy toward us,
and after this our exile show us the
Blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

O Mary, conceived without sin
Pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Novena to the Immaculate Conception: Day 6

Once the plague (cholera) had completely spent itself in the city and its environs, Don Bosco wanted his boys to show their gratitude to God for having protected them so lovingly.  As a day of thanksgiving, he chose December 8th, 1854, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the very day when Pope Pius IX would solemnly proclaim the dogma in St. Peter's Basilica!

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope.
To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To Thee do we send up our sighs mourning
and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
Thine Eyes of Mercy toward us,
and after this our exile show us the
Blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

O Mary, conceived without sin
Pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Novena to The Immaculate Conception: Day 5

When giving his personal blessing Don Bosco invoked the powerful protection of Mary upon those present or far away.  He claimed credit for nothing and kept repeating: "How good Our Lady is!"

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope.
To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To Thee do we send up our sighs mourning
and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
Thine Eyes of Mercy toward us,
and after this our exile show us the
Blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

O Mary, conceived without sin
Pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Novena to The Immaculate Conception: Day 4


As a matter of policy, Don Bosco always began, pursued, and completed his undertakings by invoking her aid.

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope.
To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To Thee do we send up our sighs mourning
and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
Thine Eyes of Mercy toward us,
and after this our exile show us the
Blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

O Mary, conceived without sin
Pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Novena to The Immaculate Conception: Day 3

Don Bosco urged the festive oratory boys to say the rosary daily.  Rather than have them omit it for lack of time he asked them to say it while at work or on their way to and from the shops.  He maintained that the rosary was a wonderful means for acquiring the virtue of purity and a suer protection against the snares of the devil.

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope.
To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To Thee do we send up our sighs mourning
and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
Thine Eyes of Mercy toward us,
and after this our exile show us the
Blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

O Mary, conceived without sin
Pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fr. Robert Barron comments on C. S. Lewis

Mother Teresa's Quick Novena

The Quick Novena was, so to speak, Mother Teresa’s spiritual rapid-fire weapon. It consisted of ten Memorares—not nine, as you might expect from the word “novena”… Given the host of problems that were brought to Mother Teresa’s attention, not to mention the pace at which she traveled, it was often just not possible to allow nine days for an answer from Celestial Management. And so she invented the Quick Novena.

Mother Teresa used this prayer constantly: for petitions for the cure of a sick child, before important discussions or when passports went missing, to request heavenly aid when the fuel supply was running short on a nighttime mission…

The reason why Mother Teresa always prayed ten Memorares, though, is that she took the collaboration of heaven so much for granted that she always added a tenth Memorare immediately, in thanksgiving for the favor received.

—From Msgr. Leo Maasburg’s book, “Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait”. Learn more about this book or purchase at www.MotherTeresaStories.com

Novena to The Immaculate Conception: Day 2

No one could adequately describe Don Bosco's love for Our Lady. His devotion to her came second only to his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and he continually fostered it with visible filial love, whether preaching, hearing confessions, or talking informally. He seemed to live only for her. He often visited her shrines, and he always had a supply of medals and holy pictures to give away especially to children. As they crowded about him, he urged them to wear the medals devoutly and pray every day to the Blessed Virgin.

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope.
To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To Thee do we send up our sighs mourning
and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
Thine Eyes of Mercy toward us,
and after this our exile show us the
Blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.


O Mary, conceived without sin
Pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Novena to the Immaculate Conception: Day 1

For Don Bosco the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been the answer to many prayers and Masses he had said to hasten this long awaited definition. Now he continued to pray to and thank the Lord for having so glorified the Queen of Angels and men. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception became his favorite feast!

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope.
To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To Thee do we send up our sighs mourning
and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
Thine Eyes of Mercy toward us,
and after this our exile show us the
Blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.


O Mary, conceived without sin
Pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Monday, November 27, 2017

St. Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal


This vignette of the apparition of Our Lady to St. Catherine Laboure on the occasion of her request for the Medal was produced by the Franciscans of the Immaculate in conjunction with Susan Mackewich of Gizmo Productions and Dave Wroe. We include this segment on the happy occasion of the start of Air Maria and on the Feast of the Annunciation of the Archangel St. Michael to Our Lady resulting in the blessed Incarnation of the Son of God. This will also serve to introduce our series on the Miraculous Medal, hosted by Fr. Elias Mary, FI and Dave Wroe on the many miracles attributed to this medal.

The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

Ninth of eleven children born to a farm family, and from an early age Catherine felt a call to the religious life. Never learned to read or write. Forced to take over running the house at age eight after her mother died and her older sister joined the Sisters of Charity. Worked as a waitress in her uncle’s cafe in Paris, France. Upon entering a hospital run by the Sisters of Charity she received a vision in which Saint Vincent de Paul told her that God wanted her to work with the sick, and she later joined the Order, taking the name Catherine.

On 18 July 1830 she had a vision of Our Lady who described to her a medal which she wished struck. On one side it has the image of Our Lady, and the words, “O Mary, conceived wthout sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee”; on the other are the hearts of Jesus and Mary. Our Lady told Catherine that wearers of the medal would receive great graces, it has become known as the Miraculous Medal, and its wearing and devotion has spread worldwide. Miracles reported at her tomb.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Archbishop Fulton Sheen on the Spiritual Life

“The ideal of spirituality is to be found in the first and last words of Our Lord’s public life. The first word of His public life was: ‘come’ (John 1:39; Mark 1:17; Matthew 4:18). The last word was ‘go’ (John 20:21; Mark 16:20; Matthew 28:19). The disciple first comes to absorb His Truth, to become inflamed with His Love; then and then only, he goes to accomplish his mission. Both words are summarized in the summary of the call of the disciples: He called the men He wanted; and they went and joined Him….these He would send out to proclaim the Gospel (Mark 3:14). Unfortunately today, we have too many ‘go-goes’ and not enough ‘come-comes.’ The proper balance is found again in the story of Martha and Mary which follows in the Gospel the Good Samaritan. In the latter, social service is praised. But in the story of Martha and Mary, it is suggested that we are not to become too absorbed in serving, that we have become too absorbed in serving that we have no time to sit at the food of Jesus and learn

His lessons.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Those Mysterious Priests)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Devotion of Blessed Solanus Casey

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:


Thank God ahead of time.  This sentence nearly leapt off the page of a thin book of collected quotes by Father Solanus Casey that I purchased at the St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit.  I was a young college student, and my faith was in its springtime as I embraced my singlehood to grow and mature in everything related to Catholicism.  I only ended up at the Capuchin monastery, because my mother had invited me to a one-day pilgrimage there.  Having never heard of Father Solanus before that day, I eagerly accepted her invitation without expectation of what might happen or how I might be inspired.
But Father Solanus’s life changed mine that day as I traced his footsteps through the building, feeling his presence strongly with me.  It was as if Father Solanus came to life that day, and everything biographical about him captivated me in an instant.  His writings, too, were simple and yet incredibly profound.  I knew I met a kindred saint that day, despite the fact that he was not even beatified.
My mother’s interest in Father Solanus began with a casual conversation with her friend who owned the local Catholic bookstore in our area.  He explained that Father Solanus spent quite a bit of time in his later years living in our diocese, which piqued her interest further.  Then she heard some amusing personal stories from friends whose parents had known him, and somehow the camaraderie between Father Solanus and my mom was sealed.
I knew that day as I pondered his life and legacy why my mom asked me to join her.  The depth of my affinity towards this plain and quiet Franciscan perplexed me at first, mostly because I was the scholarly type who enjoyed intellectual debates and analyzing research in my spare time.  Father Solanus was nothing like me, but I was drawn to him.  I wanted to be more like him spiritually: poor in spirit and pure of heart.
After that pilgrimage, I began to ask for Father Solanus’s intercession, but only sporadically.  College and then graduate studies overwhelmed and distracted me, but his memory remained captured in my psyche.  From time to time I would wonder rhetorically (and silently), How can I be like Father Solanus?  How can I grow in such humility and with joy in being considered nothing?
You see, Father Solanus scrubbed the toilets at the monastery not only without complaint but, in fact, with great interior peace and joy.  I couldn’t fathom doing such a thing were I in his position, because my pride was too great.  But Father Solanus accepted what was given to him – whether it was bodily injury or a menial and demeaning task – with incredible resignation to the Divine Will.  He gave all to and for God.  That is what attracted me to his charism.
Years later, I found myself masked in darkness as I faced a dreaded c-section with our second daughter, Sarah, after an intense 24-hour labor.  My pride in shambles, I wept openly in front of perfect strangers who prepped me for the operation.  My heart was inconsolable, yet somewhere in the abyss of my fear, a tiny voice said to me, Say a prayer to Father Solanus.
Instantly I offered a silent supplication to my Capuchin friend in Heaven, and my heart was still and quiet.  I sensed a Heavenly presence, though I uttered not a word to a single person, including my husband, Ben.  And the operation not only went flawlessly, but I was told by the on-call obstetrician that it was “miraculous.” 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Chris Stefanick on the Mass


Friday, November 10, 2017

The Question for Our Age: “Quo Vadis?”

The following comes from the Catholic World Report:


Secular liberalism is at odds with Catholicism. The point seemed obvious to most people until the postwar period, when the thought took hold that an essentially harmonious relationship could be established that would draw on the American model. America, it seemed, was different from Europe with its long tradition of statism and anti-clericalism. It rejected an established church, but embraced religious freedom, an active and diverse civil society, and a limited and decentralized government that did not try to dominate culture and gave the Church the protection and freedom she needed to thrive.

The attempt to establish a harmonious relation with the liberal state has been less fruitful than hoped, and even in America has run into profound difficulties. Our government and other authoritative institutions have become more centralized and more concerned with remodeling all aspects of life, including the beliefs and attitudes of the people. We are becoming more like Europe, and to make matters worse the outlook of the governing classes on both sides of the Atlantic has moved in a direction radically opposed to both religion and natural law. Throughout the Western world, Catholics and Catholic institutions are increasingly required to conform to anti-Catholic norms, and in much of it you can be punished as a criminal for public assertion of Catholic moral doctrine.

The intolerance is aimed less at Catholicism in particular, although the Church is a highly-visible target, than any form of Christianity that does not reduce without remainder to progressive politics and private therapy. We are increasingly ruled by practical utopians who believe themselves comprehensively responsible for human relations, and their efforts leave no place for an independent and refractory organization like the Church that proposes a contrary vision that now counts as intrinsically antisocial and oppressive.

So where will the present situation lead if—as seems quite possible—our secular authorities continue on their present course? Will the blood of the martyrs once again be the seed of the Church, or will multiplying restrictions and disabilities wear down Catholic life until the Church all but disappears?

Many societies have been anti-Catholic. How effective their anti-Catholicism has been has depended on the nature of the society and its guiding principles. Roman society, for example, had nothing to propose that could fill the needs Christianity satisfied, and the Roman empire was more loosely organized and its activities more limited than modern states. As a result, Roman persecutions, however savage they might be, were mostly local, sporadic, and ineffectual. By the time the Romans saw a need for comprehensive enforcement of religious loyalty the Christians were too strong and the empire too divided for the policy to be effective.

Some of the Church’s more recent opponents have been more organized, focused, steady, and successful. The Muslims eliminated Catholicism from North Africa, the home of Cyprian and Augustine, and the Protestants did much the same over large stretches of Europe. They were able to do so because the governments they established had more comprehensive concerns than the Roman government did, they took the issue of religious unity more seriously, and they stood for principles that had the broad-based appeal and staying power needed to establish themselves at least somewhat durably among the people.

In the last century the most severe attacks were carried on by secular systems that functioned as religions but excluded transcendent truth and authority. The attacks were organized and focused to the point of fanaticism, and they often led to widespread martyrdom of clergy and ordinary believers, as with the radically anticlerical regimes in Mexico and Spain and the totalitarian regimes that ruled Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and their respective empires.

Those attacks were not enduringly effective because the regimes carrying them on were too much at odds with human nature and with the societies they dominated for their vision to endure. Thus, for example, religious belief has bounced back in Russia, and Christianity is making unprecedented advances in China. Both countries had been searching for some sort of guiding principle, and when communism failed Christianity stepped into the gap. (In regions like East Germany and the Czech Republic, where communism was imposed from outside on a society in which religion was already weak, Soviet domination does seem to have accelerated the loss of faith.)

It appears, then, that as a human matter suppression of Catholicism is likely to work if the system that carries it on endures, takes the effort seriously, and offers a reasonably appealing way of life that provides somewhat of a substitute for what is suppressed.

So what does that mean in the case of secular liberalism, assuming it remains as ideological a system as it now seems? It has been enormously successful as a practical matter, and the way of life it offers evidently appeals to a great many people. Further, its opposition to Catholicism has become much more serious and active during the post-60s period. The result is that it has been very successful in changing religious views and weakening Church authority among the laity and even among many clergy and religious.

Given all that, the obvious question as to the future of Catholicism in the West, humanly speaking, is how much staying power secular liberalism will have, and whether it will maintain its appeal to ordinary people. Luckily for Catholics (and for humanity in general), those requirements bring weak points of the liberal system into focus. Secular liberalism makes maximum equal satisfaction its highest good. That principle is what gives it popular appeal, but it means ever-greater demands on public resources, since people require more and more to be satisfied, and it also means ever-less discipline, loyalty, and public spirit to support the system, since it undermines ideals of love and sacrifice.

Secular liberalism lacks a grounded principle of authority, and its aspiration to universal satisfaction makes it adverse to widespread use of threats and force. As a result, its basic method for maintaining control is a system of payoffs, propaganda, and ever-more comprehensive regulation. That method has mostly been rather successful. Material benefits have been funded through the extraordinary productivity of capitalist economies in a technological age, propaganda facilitated by alliance with the mass media and the expertise and training industry (otherwise known as the educational system), and regulation made effective by a comparatively high degree of bureaucratic discipline and efficiency.

None of those resources are infinite or everlasting. Organizational discipline and efficiency don’t sit well with an emphasis on equal satisfaction, so they are unlikely to be maintained. Also, it is becoming harder and harder to fund public programs or provide individuals with satisfactory employment, so much so that public finance has been reduced to an endless series of short-term expedients that everyone knows cannot go on forever. When the money runs out, people start feeling real economic pressure, and the government is unable and seems unwilling to do anything for them, will they keep on believing what they are told? Why should they, when the basis of what they have been told is that they have a right to get what they want?

So it seems that during the coming decades it will be increasingly difficult for secular liberalism to maintain itself among the people as a minimally satisfying system of practice and belief. Still, historical change is generally slow, and liberalism has been very effective at weakening its competitors, so it is likely to be with us in an ever-less appealing and successful form for some time to come. The best analogy to the period we may have before us is therefore the Brezhnev era in the Soviet Union. Catholics can expect any number of petty restraints and stupid oppressions, but no terror, and less and less real belief in the official system. As a result, we can very likely expect a fertile field for Christian witness and for the growth of new forms of Christian life and revival of very old ones.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Prayer of St. Bernard for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Devotion of St. Bernard to the Shoulder Wound of Jesus

Releases many souls from purgatory each time it is prayed.

O Loving Jesus, meek Lamb of God, I a miserable sinner, salute and worship the most Sacred Wound of Your Shoulder on which You bore Your heavy Cross, which so tore Your Flesh and laid bare Your Bones as to inflict on You an anguish greater than any other Wound of Your Most Blessed Body. I adore You, O Jesus most sorrowful; I praise and glorify You and give You thanks for this most sacred and painful Wound, beseeching You by the crushing burden of Your heavy Cross to be merciful to the souls in purgatory and to me, a sinner, to forgive me all my mortal and venial sins, and to lead me on towards Heaven along the Way of Your Cross. Amen.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The meaning of sainthood: To be fully alive in Jesus Christ

The following comes from Archbishop Chaput:


Some years ago a friend told me that she secretly thought of the saints as boring. They smile at us sweetly from holy cards. Their lives can seem implausible compared to people more famous for their vices. And who would really want to be a saint, anyway? As Billy Joel once said, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun.”
But when we come to understand holiness rightly, we see that it’s anything but boring. Sanctity isn’t a matter of sentimental posturing or being nice. Sanctity is about being passionately in love with Jesus Christ.
The saints are men and women who glowed white-hot with the Holy Spirit. They lived fully what Father Richard John Neuhaus once called “the high adventure of Christian discipleship.” And that’s truly what the heart of sainthood is: not a life of legalistic drudgery, but a high adventure.
Think about the women and men we venerate as saintly: Mother Teresa, Francis Xavier, King Louis IX of France, Gianna Beretta Molla, Pier Giorgio Frassati, Catherine of Siena. They lived some of the most compelling lives in history. Their roads were hard. They endured great sacrifices and self-denial. But those sacrifices led to greater love and joy than many in the world have ever known.
If we think about sainthood like that, it can seem like the saints are a special class of people. Sainthood is for people like them, we think, not everyday people like us. And how do you live like a saint if you’re just an ordinary worker, a father or a mother? The good news is that the saints were ordinary people like us. Their “secret” was not something they possessed, but Someone who possessed them.
The saints were men and women whom Jesus Christ made his own. As baptized Catholics, we too have been made Christ’s own. We receive Jesus Christ’s healing mercy and forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation. We eat his body and drink his blood in the Eucharist. We speak with him in moments of quiet prayer.
This love that we receive from Jesus should break out into the rest of our lives. St. Josemaria Escriva put it this way: “When a Christian carries out with love the most insignificant everyday action, that action overflows with the transcendence of God.” This means that even when we fix another family’s plumbing, or fill out their legal paperwork, or drive our kids to soccer practice, we can act with the love of Jesus Christ in the same way that the saints did.
The great second century bishop, Irenaeus of Lyons, once said that “the glory of God is man fully alive.” First and foremost, this refers to Jesus Christ. Jesus shows us what it looks like for a human being to live life abundantly. This means that the closer we are to Jesus, the more intensely alive we become. And the saints are examples of men and women who have lived their lives to the fullest. Because of the love of Jesus, they glow with the glory of God. Because of the love of Jesus, they’re fully alive.
The saints aren’t just our models, though. They form what Paul called “a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1). The saints in heaven pray for us on earth, urging us on as we run the race of faith. They offer us hope in two ways. First, they show us that, by God’s grace, heroic Christian lives are possible. Second, they remind us of the destiny God has in store for those he loves. This life is a preparation for eternal union with God in heaven. That doesn’t mean sitting around forever with a pious halo, strumming a harp. Heaven is an eternity of the greatest love we have ever tasted in this life – growing deeper and stronger without end.
This All Saints’ Day, November 1, let’s reflect on what the saints really mean for us. Let’s remember the holy men and women whom we can emulate and to whom we can pray for help and guidance. Jesus said that he came so that we would have life, and have it abundantly (Jn. 10:10).
Let’s pray that we find the courage to seek out that abundant life with the saints. Let’s be women and men of love, witnesses of the glory of the God who makes us fully alive in Jesus Christ. There is no greater joy, no greater vocation.