A Desert Place for Prayer

Lenten Reading from Father Robert Nash, S.J.,  from back when Jesuits had the Faith.

“And rising very early, going out, He went into a desert place: and there He prayed.” (Mark 1, 35)

And so, we see Our Lord giving us a perfect model for our Lenten prayers. We rise a bit earlier, and then kneel in the quiet dim early morning. Even our sleepiness helps us; we find it easier to be hushed while our sleepy minds are still subdued. Later they will be busy with all our worldly distractions, but now we kneel with our Lord in the pre-dawn desert, trusting in Him to transform it to the Eden of His love.

Now, we know that Our Lord was not seeking solitude in order to attend closer to His Father, for He had always before Him the Beatific Vision. In going out into the desert, He was teaching us how to avoid the “fool of the house” as Saint Teresa aptly named the busybody imagination that is so easily distracted.

Continue reading “A Desert Place for Prayer”

The value of little souls

 

“It is God’s Will that in this world souls shall dispense to each other, by prayer, the treasures of Heaven” (Saint Thérèse)

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux has such down-to-earth and practical advice for us; and her simple clarity is a welcome remedy for the jarring cacophony of voices clamoring to be heard. One of the many dangers of this time is that the devil foments discord among us. But Saint Thérèse, the Little Flower of Carmel shows us how to foil satan and turn criticism and other causes of dissension into channels of grace.

From The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

The Imperfect Soul

“…That you should be found imperfect is just what is best. Here is your harvest. . . . Should earthly creatures think you devoid of holiness, they rob you of nothing, and you are none the poorer: it is they who lose. For is there anything more sweet than the inward joy of thinking well of our neighbor? . . . “As for myself I am glad and rejoice, not only when I am looked upon as imperfect, but above all when I feel that it is true. Compliments, on the contrary, do but displease me.” . . . “Honors are always dangerous. What poisonous food is served daily to those in high positions! What deadly fumes of incense! A soul must be well detached from herself to pass unscathed through it all.”

Continue reading “The value of little souls”

Hail, King of the Jews!

 

Then the soldiers of the governor taking Jesus into the hall, gathered together unto Him the whole band; And stripping Him, they put a scarlet cloak about him. And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand. And bowing the knee before Him, they mocked Him, saying: Hail, king of the Jews.  And spitting upon Him, they took the reed, and struck His head.  And bowing their knees, they adored Him.

Behold the Man, your King!

Even the pagan soldiers knew that a King must be invested with the symbols of his royalty, that is, draped with a royal mantle, crowned, and finally, given a scepter as a sign of his power and rule. And so the soldiers obliged this strange King, who had said “but now My kingdom is not from hence”. And so, what royal insignia might they find fitting?

The soldiers soon found a discarded scarlet rag of large enough size and after first ripping off His outer garment, they draped His now freshly bleeding shoulders in this dirty mockery of a robe. As we think on the vivid symbolism in this scene compare it to our Pontiff’s words and actions – what homage does he offer to the King of Kings? A royal robe?

Now, the Roman soldiers clearly understood the necessity of the Crowning, for their gods were always crowned, Apollo with laurel, Bacchus with grape vines, Jupiter with gold. And so a crown fit for this King must be found.

And the Jews too, understood that their high priest wore a tiara when he offered the sacrifice. And did not their bridegroom according to their custom, wear a diadem at his wedding?

And we who watch this scene, we also recall that in those days a conqueror was often crowned to celebrate his victory; how much more so then, this King who by His death and resurrection will conquer sin and death!

Continue reading “Hail, King of the Jews!”

Night in the Garden

 

“My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” (Matt. 26, 39)

Today, we will look at Our Lord’s Prayer in the Garden of Olives on that sad and beautiful night which began His Passion and saving death for us. Our basis for this is Father Groenings’ classic, “The Passion of Jesus and Its Hidden Meaning”, from TAN Books. It is available in Kindle and paperback.

As He left the Upper Room, Jesus led His disciples in a Passover hymn, the only time the scriptures record that He sang. When they reached the Garden of Gethsemane, He cautioned the disciples to “Watch, lest ye enter into temptation”. Taking Peter, James and John, He went a bit further and told them, “My soul is sorrowful even unto death. Stay you here and watch.” Going forward, He fell on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”

Twice, Jesus interrupted this prayer to return to His apostles, and after each disappointment, returned to this same prayer, “not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”  Luke then tells us, “And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony, He prayed the longer. And His sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground.”

This passage of the Gospel is one of the richest troves of wisdom for meditation available to us, particularly for times of severest trial and at the hour of death. By working on this now, we prepare ourselves for these inevitable times to come. The first and most obvious thing we all notice is that Jesus is alone in His agony, His closest friends are sleeping, unaware of His great agony of spirit nor even noticing His precious blood being shed.

Think on this. Christ prayed while they slept, unaware of the danger. We too, arise at night and pray for our sleeping brethren, who close their eyes to the danger and sleep on, oblivious. But we who know, must arise and pray with Jesus, our Lord and God. Father Groenings tells us that, “in a family, a single member who knows how to pray well, is often the greatest blessing of the rest. But if those must pray who are among the sleeping, how much more those who are among the dead, i.e., among sinners.” Yes, exactly!

Finally, Christ prayed while His enemies were banding together to take Him prisoner and deliver Him to death on the Cross. In this instance, we are shown the wisdom of Christ, His lesson for us especially at this time. His enemies were uniting in one satanic focus, to destroy Him. His response was to pray! Thus, Our Lord Jesus Christ shows us by His eloquent example that prayer is the primary, the essential weapon when we are attacked or when the Church is attacked by the dark powers of this world. The attack came from within – Judas – and from without – the synagogue of satan. Just as today. Just as today. These things never change. And prayer is the weapon given to us by Our Savior Himself. Without prayer, our other actions cannot succeed.

When Peter attempted violence, striking at Malchus’ ear, Our Lord reproved him, commanding him to sheath his sword. Thus armed with prayer, Our Lord went forth to complete the task given Him by His Father. Father Groenings reminds us, “We also, in these troublous times, should use trustingly the weapon of prayer and confidently hope that the liberation of Holy Mother Church may be brought about by Him (God).” Note that the foregoing was written at the end of the 19th century. Even then, Father could speak of liberating the Church. This was because of the bitter war waged against the Papacy by the Masonic powers of that time, which were even then determined in their resolve to destroy the Church.

Another lesson we see in this prayer in the Garden is that Christ prayed earnestly that this suffering be taken from Him. Thus, we see that it is permissible to ask for the relief of temporal suffering. And then, we see also, that we always must accept God’s will for us, and trust in His providence. He who extends this chalice of suffering, offers us rich graces in unimaginable profusion, just for the asking – and the trusting!

For our prayers to be heard, they must be like to Christ’s, that is; they must be respectful. Christ “knelt down and fell upon His face”. Father Groenings tells us, “If ever any man could deem Himself dispensed from external marks of reverence it was certainly the God-Man … if the Savior did not dare to raise His countenance toward Heaven, what awe should not appear in the sinner?” …

“Is it not remarkable that there should be Christian men who are ashamed to bend the knee to God Almighty…? But those who, in the house of God, give scandal to others by silly and impertinent behavior can only be people of thoughtless brains or of depraved morals. They are proud spirits, slaves of human respect.”  [Father Groenings  must have had prescient knowledge of our current Pontiff, who refuses to kneel for the Consecration at the Holy Sacrifice, yet kneels for heretics to “bless” him, and places beach balls and soccer jerseys on the altar, denigrating the Blessed Sacrament.]

As we consider Our Lord in His agony, we also note that He expresses His tender love for God His Father and His willingness to accept His Father’s will. We see then that the ultimate test for us is to turn with loving obedience to our heavenly Father in our times of greatest affliction. For it is precisely in these times that we earn the greatest merit, and many graces come to us from this. If we are truly Mary’s children, we must follow her Divine Son in His perfect resignation to His Father’s will,

“Nevertheless, not as I will but as Thou wilt.”
The Effects of Christ’s Prayer in the Garden

The first effect of Our Lord’s Prayer was, “And there appeared to Him an Angel from Heaven strengthening Him.”  Think on this! The Second Person of the most Holy Trinity, King of Angels, Consoler of hearts, is here consoled by an Angel! We recall that after His severe fast of forty days, Our Lord was ministered to by Angels. Do you see the humility of Our Lord? To take from His creatures consolation? Now think of His apparitions to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, begging our love in return for His love! How can we be so indifferent!

This most tender scene should move our hearts towards love of Our Lord and Savior and also instill in us trust in our allies, the Angels given to us to guide and guard, to sustain us in our struggles. What an exquisite example the most Holy Trinity provides us to remind us of God’s loving providence in all our needs.

And now we come to a most important lesson. Earlier, God demanded of Abraham the sacrifice of his son, Isaac. At the last moment, God spared Isaac. But here, in the Passion, the Father does not spare His beloved Son. The chalice does not pass from Him.

In the Last Joyful Mystery, Our Lord tells His Mother that He must be about His Father’s business. And now, in this, the First Sorrowful Mystery, we see precisely what is meant by His Father’s business. This chalice will not be removed. It will be consumed down to the last of its bitter dregs. The bitterness consisted of the realization that this precious sacrifice would be rejected, even despised by so many, to their own eternal damnation. Among those many damned souls would be so many shepherds. And today, their loss is the source of His continued sorrow in this, the Passion of His Church.

The Angel’s consolation renewed Our Lord’s determination and now, totally immersed in the will of His Father, He rouses His disciples, “Rise up, let us go”. By this example, Christ, our Head, leads us, His mystical body, as we too, rise up to meet the challenges of our day, the persecutions which await us all.

For although it appears that we are alone, among the sleeping and the dead, His Angels accompany us, and the Chalice of our bitter suffering, engraved with “Not my will but Thy will be done” comes to us from those loving, wounded hands.

Thank you for reading. I pray for you always!

This article originally published here in March, 2018.

 Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, obtain for us by your loving intercession the grace and courage to persevere in the coming trials of faith.

 Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.

 Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!

 St. Joseph, terror of demons, protect our priests!

 St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!

~ by evensong  for love of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary and the most Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King

Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin, give me strength against thine enemies.

 

St. Francis de Sales, Lent 2019

 

From our archives, for Lent:

I was won over to St. Francis de Sales when I obtained a battered paperback copy of his “Introduction to the Devout Life” for 25 cents in the parish church thrift shop many  years ago, and recently have been reading an ebook of his as part of my Lenten reading.  “The Saint Francis de Sales Collection, 16 Books”, by Catholic Way)

Here are some excerpts from this great Saint:

A Time of Fear
What words can oppose the flood of thoughts troubling your heart? Do not attempt to stop them; that will only make the pain worse. Do not try to conquer the temptations; the effort will only make them stronger. Disdain them, and do not dwell on them. Bring to mind an image of Jesus Christ crucified and say, “Here is my hope; here is the flowing fountain of my happiness. Here is the heart of my soul and the soul of my heart.” Hear our Lord say to Abraham and to you: “Be not afraid; I am your protector” (cf. Gen. 15:1). What is it that you seek upon the earth other than your God? And you already possess Him.

Be firm in your resolutions. Stay in the boat. Let the storm come. While Jesus lives, you will not die. He is sleeping, but He will awaken to calm the storm at the right time (Matt. 8:24-26). St. Peter, the Scriptures tell us, saw the great storm and was afraid, and as soon as he was afraid, he began to sink and drown. Whereupon he cried out, “O Lord, save me!” And our Lord took him by the hand and said to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:29-31). See this great apostle: he walked with dry feet upon the water, protected from wind and wave, but the fear of the wind and the wave would have killed him had not his Master relieved him.

(In that way) Fear is a greater evil than evil itself. O you of little faith: what is it you fear? Do not be afraid. You are walking on water, amid wind and wave, but you are with Jesus. What is there to fear? If fear takes hold of you, cry out strongly, “O Lord, save me!” He will hold out a hand to you. Hold on tight, and go forward with joy.

† .  † .  †

Means to Preserve Peace of Soul in Time of Trial
Nothing disturbs us so much as self-love and self-esteem. If our heart does not overflow with tender emotions, if our mind does not teem with sublime sentiments, if our soul is not inundated with exquisite sweetness, we are sad; if anything difficult is to be done, if any obstacle opposes our just designs, behold us in a state of precipitation to have it overcome, and we are overcome ourselves by the precipitation.

Why is this so? Undoubtedly, because we are too much attached to our comfort, our ease, our convenience. We would wish to say our prayers in a region of eau de cologne, and practice heroic virtue eating sugar cake; but we do not consider the meek Jesus, prostrate on the earth, sweating blood, through the dreadful combat that rages in His interior, between the feelings of the inferior part of His soul and the resolutions of the superior part.

Hence it happens that when we fall into any fault or sin, we are astonished, troubled, and impatient. We only desire consolations, and are unwilling to put a finger on our misery, our weakness, or our nothingness.  .  . Distrust over-anxious desires for good; they are full of self-love and of impatience to be something  . . .  In order to obtain the remission of light faults, it is better, after having acknowledged them, to turn humbly and lovingly towards God, than to preserve a sad remembrance of them and to remain a long time in fear. Whether your prevarications be serious or trivial, remain in pious sentiments of confidence towards the Lord, casting your sins into the abyss of His mercy, that they may be forever lost there; for there is no damnation to those who are in Jesus.

Peace
Were we to do a few things, we should find peace: let us have a pure intention to seek on all occasions the honour and glory of God; let us perform the little we can for this object, according to the advice of our spiritual father, and leave the rest to God. Why should he who has God for the object of his intentions, and who does what he can, torment himself? What has he to fear?

No, no, God is not so terrible to those who love Him; He is content with a little, for He knows that we have not much. And know that Our Lord is called in Scripture the Prince of Peace, and hence, wherever He is absolute Master, He preserves peace.

And War
It is nevertheless true, that, before establishing peace in any place, He first makes war there, separating the heart and soul from their dearest and most intimate affections, such as immoderate love of oneself, confidence and complacency in oneself, and other like evils. When Our Lord separates us from these cherished and favourite passions, it seems as if He excoriated our living heart, and we are filled with the most bitter sentiments; we can hardly prevent our whole soul from discussing its misfortune, so sensible is this separation.

But all this disputation of mind is not inconsistent with peace, when, though almost submerged by desolation, we still keep our will resigned to that of Our Lord, nailed to His divine good pleasure, and cease not from the performance of our duties, but fulfill them courageously.

Of which Our Lord gives us an example in the Garden; for, overwhelmed with interior and exterior affliction, He resigned His heart sweetly into His Father’s will, saying: “Not my will, but Thine be done,” and ceased not, great as was His anguish, to visit and admonish His disciples. To preserve peace in the midst of war, and sweetness in the midst of bitterness, is indeed worthy of the Prince of Peace.

From what I have just said, I desire you to draw three conclusions:

  • That we often imagine peace to be lost, because we are in pain, while it is not lost, as may easily be known by the fact that we still wish to renounce ourselves, to depend on the good pleasure of God, and to fulfill the duties of our state;
  • That we must of necessity endure interior pain, while God tears away the last remnant of the old man, to renovate us in the new man who is created according to God, and therefore we should not be troubled, or suppose that we have fallen into disgrace with Our Lord;
  • That all those thoughts which cause vexation and agitation of mind cannot proceed from God, who is the Prince of Peace, but are temptations of the enemy, and therefore to be rejected and disregarded.

In the draft post there was a note which appears a paraphrase and it seems to fit here:

To a nun who asked how to avoid distractions withdrawing the soul from God, the saint replied:

Distraction cannot withdraw your soul from God, since nothing withdraws us from God but sin, and the resolution we make in the morning to keep our soul united to God, and attentive to His presence, has the effect of preserving us thus always, even when we sleep, since we do all in the name of God, and according to His most holy will.

Even venial sins are not capable of turning us aside from the way which conducts to God; they undoubtedly retard us a little on our course, but they do not turn us aside: much less simple distractions. So far as prayer is concerned, it is not less useful, or less agreeable to God, when accompanied with many distractions; on the contrary, it may be more useful than if we had many consolations, because it is more laborious: provided, however, that we have the wish to withdraw from those distractions, and do not allow our mind to dwell on them willingly.

The very same observation applies to the difficulty which, during the day, we feel to fix our mind on God, and on heavenly things: provided we endeavor to keep our thoughts from running after trifles, and learn patience, by not growing weary of our labor, which is suffered for the love of God. For,

We must distinguish between God and a perception of God, between faith and a feeling of faith. A person about to suffer martyrdom for God does not always think of God at that time; and though he has no feeling of faith, yet he does not cease to merit, or to perform an act of the greatest love.

I recall reading St. Maximilian Kolbe to that same effect; having consecrated ourselves and all our works and intentions to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we may confidently proceed without scrupulosity. For it is not about our sensibilities but about surrendering our will to God. Humility. Obedience.

Pray the Rosary and confound satan and those who serve him!

  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
  Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
  Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
  St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
  St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.

Please pray for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!

The Annunciation and the Incarnation, 2019

 

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation, in which Our Lord introduces to us His Mother, and shows us her loveliness, her excellent virtues and her unique stature before the Holy Trinity. Thus, He shows us the model for our lives; “Here is My Mother”, He says, “see, we shall have the same Mother. She will teach you the virtues necessary to advance toward union with Me, so that we may rejoice together in heaven.”

Nestled within the feast of the Annunciation is the feast of the Incarnation of our Savior. The Annunciation carries within it the humility and obedience of Jesus and Mary, Who are our models for perfect, loving obedience, even unto death. And this obedience begins with the humble obedience of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word.

“Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word.”

In the Gospel of St Luke, the Holy Spirit reveals the unique importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary in God’s plan of Salvation for us. Let’s see what He tells us:

Luke, Chapter 1, 26-35. “And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: “Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.

Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father; and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of His kingdom there shall be no end.” And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?” And the angel answering, said to her: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

 

In this Gospel, God Himself is introducing to us the delightful creature He loves above all others, this Mary whom He chose from all time to be the most pure and holy Mother of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. God used as His messenger the Angel Gabriel whose name means Power of God. By this name He emphasizes that all of this, the Annunciation, the Incarnation which began our salvation, all of this is by and through the power of God.

And what does God tell us about Mary? Gabriel salutes Mary most respectfully, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women”. You can search the Bible cover to cover and never find a more respectful message from any angelic messenger. This is because, as the Gospel tells us, Mary is truly filled with grace, exempt from even original sin, and full of God’s sanctifying grace.

Note that the very first words of Mary, recorded in this Gospel are, How shall this be done, because I know not man?”  Why these words? Could it be that God wishes to emphasize to us the importance of Mary’s generous sacrifice to live her life in the utmost chastity and purity, foregoing the honors and pleasures of children? At that time, Jewish women were honored to be mothers of many children and to forego children was a tremendous sacrifice. Unlike today, in those times to be a “barren woman” was a reproach. Thus we know that Mary’s generous and sacrificial heart was most pleasing to Our Father. Her words also exemplify her great prudence. Today, prudence is a virtue held in low esteem by most Catholic leaders, who feel compelled to burst forth with every banal thought that crosses their minds. This Blessed Virgin, in contrast, first assured that Gabriel understood that she was and always will be, a virgin consecrated to God alone.

Whereas Eve, the first “Woman”, withdrew herself from her Creator in order to seek what she perceived to be her own good, Mary, the “Woman” of the New Testament, yielded herself totally to God, allowing Him to fill her with His life, thus she is “full of grace”. The virtues shown by these simple verses illustrate Mary’s perfect love of God, her total consecration to Him, her purity and her perseverance in keeping her vow.

Mary’s prudent question brought forth Gabriel’s reply, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which will be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Mary’s response was immediate, “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word.” With these words, the Most Blessed Virgin shows us humility and obedience, the two virtues so essential to combat the vices passed on to us of Eve’s pride and disobedience. In another post, I described these virtues as the “working virtues” because they are so necessary in our everyday struggle to live our lives in constant union with the Holy Family.

Sister Lucia of Fatima assures us that Jesus is the very best of Sons, and loves her and those who honor her. Today is an excellent time to renew our Total Consecration to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. By the way, do you know who made the first consecration to Mary? Was it St. Louis de Montfort? St. Dominic? No.

. . . Think harder. . .

. . . Give up?

It was our Lord Jesus Christ Himself Who chose Mary for His Mother. From this humble virgin of Nazareth He took the flesh and blood of His mortal life, the very body and blood with which He wrought our salvation. The body of Christ scourged for our sins, pierced for our transgressions, the precious blood poured out for us on Calvary’s cross, He took from Mary. To her He entrusted His earthly life, living within her virginal womb, beneath her immaculate heart. Through her, He baptized and consecrated St. John the Baptist; through her He performed His first miracle.  And with His dying words, He entrusted us to her, commanding Her to be our Mother and us to be her children.

It is fitting that the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary begins with the beautiful Mystery of the Annunciation, for with it began our salvation. Mary’s generous “Yes!”, opened the portal through which Our Lord wrought our salvation. Thus, her obedience preceded His most perfect obedience. And so, the Annunciation and the Incarnation are inseparable, as are Jesus and Mary, those two hearts forever united!

Hymn at Matins
The Lord whom earth and sea and sky
With one adoring voice proclaim
Who rules them all in majesty
Enclosed Himself in Mary’s frame.

Lo! In a humble Virgin’s womb
O’ershadowed by almighty power
He whom the stars and sun and moon
Each serve in their appointed hour.

O Mother blest! To whom was given
Within your body to contain
The architect of earth and heaven
Whose hands the universe sustain.

To thee was sent an angel down,
In thee the Spirit was enshrined,
Of thee was born that mighty One,
The long desired of all mankind.

O Jesus! Born of Virgin bright
To Thee immortal glory be!
Praise to the Father Infinite,
And Holy Ghost eternally!
Amen.

Please, don’t forget your Consecration! See in sidebar.

Pray the Rosary and confound the devil and all those who serve him!

  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.

~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the most Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.

Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin, give me strength against thine enemies.

© All Content Copyright 2013-2019 ReturntoFatima.org. All Rights Reserved.

On the Eve of the Annunciation, 2019

 

Today, the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation,  we conclude our Novena. And again we share the popular poem for the Annunciation by peregrine, a reader/contributor.

 

                 Annunciation

Hail Mary, Temple of the Trinity!

        Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,

Art thou astonished at His deference?

Fear not, for thou hast found grace with God.
             Thou shalt conceive … and bring forth a Son
                               Thou shalt call His name Jesus.

How shall it be?
          (Mindful of thy chastity)

And yet . . . it is thy purity draws Him down
Captivated by thy pure and humble love
                Thy Creator awaits at the door of thy will,

The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee
          . . .  the most High shall overshadow thee . . .
                        the Holy born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

His will is clear
          . . . moved by His will alone . . .

Behold the handmaid of the Lord
Be it done unto me…

The Architect of earth and heaven
                    Thus closed Himself in thy pure frame.
At thy “fiat” the Almighty Word
               leapt down from heaven
                              The Sword of Truth wrought death to death,
Obedient, He vanquished disobedient pride.

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,

peregrine, March 25, 2004

© All Content Copyright 2013-2018 ReturntoFatima.org. All Rights Reserved.

The Grace of the Present Moment

From Père de Caussade’s “Abandonment to Divine Providence, something lovely for today. My notes are in black italics.

 

The Will of God in the Present Moment

The present moment is the ambassador of God to declare His mandates. The heart listens and pronounces its “fiat.” Thus the soul advances by all these things and flows out from its centre to its goal. It never stops but sails with every wind. Any and every direction leads equally to the shore of infinity. Everything is a help to it, and is, without exception, an instrument of sanctity.

The one thing necessary can always be found for it in the present moment. It is no longer a choice between prayer and silence, seclusion and society, reading and writing, meditation and cessation of thought, flight from and seeking after spiritual consolations, abundance and dearth, feebleness and health, life and death, but it is all that each moment presents by the will of God.

In this is despoilment, abnegation, renunciation of all things created, either in reality or affectively, in order to retain nothing of self, or for self, to be in all things submissive to the will of God and to please Him; making it our sole satisfaction to sustain the present moment as though there were nothing else to hope for in the world. If all that happens to a soul abandoned to God is all that is necessary for it, then we can understand that nothing can be wanting to it, and that it should never pity itself, for this would be a want of faith and living according to reason and the senses which are never satisfied, as they cannot perceive the sufficiency of grace possessed by the soul.

Each moment, as we make our minute by minute reparation, we children of Mary say, “O my Jesus, it is for love of Thee”, we are making of each moment a sacred offering for love of Him. In this spirit, we trust that nothing is wanting, whatever befalls us, all things work for His good. 

And we see all around us in the wreckage of all that was once beautiful but is now tawdry and spoilt, blasphemy against our loving Savior. His name, the only name by which men are saved is constantly used as a sneering curse, mouthed by the vilest creatures. We counteract this with our constant prayer of reparation, “For the love of Thee, my Jesus and for the glory of Thy name!”

To hallow the Name of God, is according to the meaning of the holy Scripture, to recognise His sanctity in all things and to love and adore Him in them. Things, in fact, proceed from the mouth of God like words. That which God does at each moment is a divine thought expressed by a created thing, therefore all those things by which He intimates His will to us are so many names and words by which He makes known His wishes. His will is unity and has but one name, unknown, and ineffable; but it is infinitely diverse in its effects, which are, as it were, so many different characters which it assumes.

To hallow the Name of God is to know, to adore, and to love the ineffable Being whom this name designates. It is also to know, to adore and to love His adorable will at every moment and in all its decrees, regarding them all as so many veils, shadows and names of this holy and everlasting will. It is holy in all its works, holy in all its words, holy in all its diverse characters, holy in all the names it bears.

Job and the Name of God

It was for this reason that Job blessed the name of God in his utter desolation. Instead of looking upon his condition as ruin, he called it the name of God and by blessing it he protested that the divine will under whatever name or form it might appear, even though expressed by the most terrible catastrophes, was holy. David also blessed it at all times, and in all places. It is then, by this continual recognition of the will of God as manifested and revealed in all things, that He reigns in us, that His will is done on earth as it is in Heaven, and that our souls obtain nourishment.

The Our Father – Abandonment to the Divine Will

The whole matter of that incomparable prayer prescribed by Jesus Christ is comprised and contained in abandonment to the divine will. Many times daily it is recited vocally by the command of God and of Holy Church, but we repeat it at every moment in the centre of our hearts when we love to do, or to suffer whatever this holy will ordains. That which takes time to repeat in words, the heart pronounces at every moment, and it is in this way that simple souls are called to bless God.

Nevertheless they cannot bless Him as much as they desire, and this inability is a subject of grief to them; so true is it that by the very means that seem like privations, God bestows graces and favours on faithful souls. To enrich the soul at the expense of the senses, filling it by so much the more as they experience the more terrible emptiness, is a secret of the divine wisdom.

The Will of God in Every Moment

The events of every moment bear the impress of the will of God, and of His adorable Name. How holy is this name! It is right, therefore, to bless it, to treat it as a kind of sacrament which by its own virtue sanctifies those souls which place no obstacles in its way. Everything bearing the impress of this august Name should be held in the most profound veneration. It is a divine manna from Heaven, and imparts a constant increase of grace. It is the reign of holiness in the soul, the bread of angels eaten on earth as well as in Heaven.

We can no longer consider our moments as trifles since in them is a whole kingdom of sanctity and food for angels. “Yes, Lord, may your kingdom come in my heart to sanctify it, to nourish it, to purify it, and to render it victorious over all its enemies. Moment most precious! How insignificant in the eyes of the vulgar, but how great in those enlightened by faith. If it is great also in the eyes of my Father who is in Heaven, how can I regard it as insignificant? All that comes from His hand is essentially good and bears the impress of its origin.”

 

This morning, as I read John 13, in which Saint John refers to himself,  “there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” This was in the context of determining who was the betrayer of Jesus. The goal of these simple exercises is to rest on the bosom of Our Lord, aware of the beating of His Sacred Heart, offering each moment to Him, trusting in Him. In this way, we are not confused or deceived by the Judases posing as Apostles. 

As the Angel of peace enjoins us, ‘Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. You will thus draw down peace … Above all, accept and bear with submission the suffering which the Lord will send you.’

Many of us are not able to attend Mass and receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament each morning, but we can at least,  make a spiritual Mass and Holy Communion daily. Again, as the Angel enjoins,

‘Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men! Make reparation for their crimes and console your God.’

Let us resolve not to ever waste a single moment, but to consecrate each moment to Him, never straying from His Sacred Heart. “O my Jesus! It is for love of Thee!”

He has not left us orphans now any more than He did in His Passion. Look to Mary, for she is  “the seat of mercy, of goodness and of pardon, and the certain door by which we are to enter Heaven.”

 

The quotations from Père de Caussade: “Abandonment to Divine Providence: Including ‘Spiritual Counsels of Père de Caussade’ and ‘Letters on the Practice of Abandonment’ “ , Ramiere translation, Catholic Way)

 

‘O Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’ 

 

†  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.

~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.

Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!

St. Joseph II, 2019

 

 

“… Christ was promised to Abraham as man, to David as his successor in his kingdom, but to Joseph under the name of Saviour;  in order that we may be persuaded that, although Joseph had no share in the formation of the Body of Jesus neither did he place the crown upon His head, he nevertheless contributed to making Him the Saviour of all men, journeying and labouring and toiling along with Him, and supporting Him by the fruit of his toils for so many years. And thus (he says) he was the last of the Patriarchs to whom the Messias was promised, but in a more excellent manner than all.” (The Life and Glories of St. Joseph, Edward Healy Thompson, Aeterna Press, Kindle)

Thou salt call His name Jesus

Since St. Joseph is silent in the Scriptures, regrettably many erroneous impressions have been given of him. He was not, as some assert, a decrepit old man when he and the Blessed Virgin were betrothed, but was fair-haired and in his prime, about 33 years old. He had no other children, for he was a virgin, having made his vow to that effect at the age of 12. Joseph and Mary both knew of each others’ vow of chastity. For to marry under Hebrew Law without advising each other of that vow would have  been deceitful. And so, when Matthew 1, 18 tells us, “She was found with child, of the Holy Ghost”, it was Joseph himself who realized this, for he and the Blessed Virgin were aware of the sacred vows each had made, to offer their virginity to God as a sacred oblation. Most of the following is from the book cited above, with my comments.

St. Joseph did not ever, for one instant, doubt Our Lady, but simply sought God’s will. In his profound humility, he was abashed to think that the Lord God would choose him for the spouse and consort of the Mother of the Savior. When the Blessed Virgin saw that Joseph was perplexed, she prayed to God to enlighten him; a prayer which was heard by God most promptly. Thompson tells us that according to Eastern legend, not a night passed before Joseph was delivered from his uncertainty. As scripture tells us,

“But while he thought on these things, behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins”.

There is much insight available on this passage, but many writers do not make use of it and prefer instead to weave misleading fables about how Joseph was “afraid”, doubted God, doubted Mary and so on. Note that the angel called Joseph by his name, and added the honorific, “Son of David”. Thus showing him deference which would not have been indicated were he to have doubted God or the Blessed Virgin. We have already seen how Zachary was reproved for his doubts! Although many suppose that the angel’s words were an instruction to Joseph to wed the Virgin, the angel was actually telling him to remain with her.

According to Pope Benedict XIV, quoted by Edward Healy Thompson:

“The word of the angel by which he bade him not to fear to take unto him Mary for his wife is a Hebrew mode of expression, which does not signify the commencement of an act, but the continuation of an act already begun. The meaning of his mandate is this: ‘Retain and keep the wife you have taken, and do not forsake her’; and such is the interpretation of those who are adepts in the Hebrew idiom.”

The angel does not tell Joseph to discard his suspicions, for he has none. But the angel does tell Joseph, “thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins”. Now, note the wording here: the angel does not say, “His name shall be Jesus”, but says, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus”, which was also said to Mary, thus acknowledging Joseph’s rights and dignity as the foster father of Our Lord.

With this knowledge, St. Joseph’s soul was flooded with a superabundance of grace, for only by a special favor of God was he able to approach this true “Ark of the Covenant”, this most sacred “Temple of the Trinity”. In her Revelations, St. Bridget tells us that when Joseph beheld her with Child by the Holy Ghost, he feared exceedingly, suspecting no evil of her, but, remembering the words of the prophet which foretold how the Son of God would be born of a virgin, reputed himself unworthy to serve such a mother, until the angel in sleep bade him not to fear, but to minister to her with charity. And our Lady added: “From that moment Joseph never ceased to serve me as his sovereign and I humbled myself to the lowest offices to show him my submission.” (Thompson, op. cit.)

Continue reading “St. Joseph II, 2019”

Lent – 2019, Nisi solum Jesum

 

Lent should be an especially fruitful season for us who are blessed to attend the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Mystical Body, the Church. The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent is from St. Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration. In it, Jesus took Peter, James and John up on Mount Tabor and revealed to them the very slightest bit of His infinite glory for a few brief moments in order to confirm their faith; knowing as He did, that the events of His passion were to shake their faith utterly.

Nisi solum Jesum

“His face did shine as the sun and His garments became white as snow.” (Matthew 17, 2) In this vision the Apostles saw Moses and Elias speaking with Jesus. St. Luke tells us that, “they spoke of His decease that He should accomplish in Jerusalem”. (Luke 9, 31) By placing the Transfiguration narrative in this timeframe, the Church wishes to illustrate the close connection between the Transfiguration and the Passion and Death of Jesus. By revealing this brief glimpse of His glory, Jesus was showing His Apostles that it was impossible for Him as well as for them to reach the full glory of the Resurrection without passing through suffering. After the Resurrection, He would confirm that lesson as He met them at Emmaus, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and so to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24, 26).

Peter, ever the impetuous one, became so caught up in the rapture of the moment, that he cried out, “It is good for us to be here!”. And then he offered to make three tabernacles, one each for Jesus, Moses and Elias, but as he was speaking the Lord God interrupted him peremptorily, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye Him!”

There is much to learn from this gospel. Peter was understandably impressed with the splendor of the moment and strongly desired to remain right there, in such a spiritually satisfying place. But that would have been to miss the whole point of it, which was to prepare them for the immense scandal of the Passion, the terrible spectacle of their Master humbled even to the lowest imaginable specter of a common criminal, mocked and spit upon, stripped of all dignity and nailed to a cross to die in ignominy.

And so, God by His reply told Peter in no uncertain terms to listen to Jesus and follow Him. if Peter was to lead the Church, he must learn to follow Christ all the way to Golgotha, up to the place of the skull. In time, he must even follow Him to his own crucifixion. Father Gabriel in his meditations on the Transfiguration assures us, “God does not console us for our entertainment but rather for our encouragement, for our strengthening, for the increase in our generosity in suffering for love of Him.” (Divine Intimacy, TAN)

Abruptly, the glorious vision ended, “And they lifting up their eyes saw no one but only Jesus.” In the Vulgate, “Levantes autem oculos suos, neminem viderunt, nisi solum Jesum.” (Matthew 17, 8). Nisi solum Jesum, with Jesus alone, they came down from the mountain. Nisi solum Jesum, Jesus alone is sufficient for us. Everything else, even friends, family, encouragement, approval, may be stripped away; yet Jesus alone remains. If He in His wisdom withdraws all else, yet He abides with us, even when we “know Him not”. And we must affirm this, even though He choose for us to follow Him through His suffering, being faithful even unto the awful moment when we cry out in our soul’s desolation, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

Not as the world gives, does Jesus give. When it seems to the soul that He has withdrawn His love, withdrawn all consolation, it is only so that we follow Him with love and absolute trust as He endures the darkness of His Passion in order that He may bring about the glory of His true and lasting Transfiguration and share His glory with us eternally. This is as true for the Church as it is for us personally.

Just as the Transfiguration was only a momentary glimpse of His glory, so too the passion and death of Our Lord are destined to pass and yield to His glorious Resurrection. Let us keep our perspective then, even in these chaotic times, and abide “with Jesus alone”, accepting all that is given to us from His wounded hands, trusting in Jesus alone.

  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.

  Most Precious Blood of Jesus, save us, save our priests.

  St. Joseph, Protector of the Church, protect our priests!

  St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!

~ by evensong for love of the Immaculata ~

Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin, give me strength against thine enemies!