First Blood, January 1, 2018

Contemplating Him, we shall learn that deeds are better than words, that the greater the sacrifices they require, the greater the proof they give of real love. Furthermore, every undertaking must receive its baptism of blood in order to be fruitful. “
He has not yet spoken; the world does not yet know Him; but He is already shedding His blood for the salvation of mankind.
He has not yet spoken; the world does not yet know Him; but He is already shedding His blood for the salvation of mankind.

Today, the Octave of Christmas is the day we commemorate the first shedding of the precious blood of our Saviour, at His Circumcision.  It is fitting that we start off  the year with this commemoration of the first sacrifice of the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is His vivid lesson in humility and obedience, always necessary virtues.

From Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. we read:

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The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus 2017

 

Today, the Third Friday after Pentecost and nine days after the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Church honors the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At this time, we should have completed the reparative Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which we began on June 15th, Corpus Christi. Today is an excellent time to renew our Family Consecrations to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Reparation and Penance, Signs of Love

The themes of reparation and penance are prominent in Our Lord’s revelations to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and those of His Blessed Mother to Sister Lucia and the little shepherds of Fatima. It’s worth noting that while Our Lord’s messages to St. Margaret Mary were so tender, personal and appealing, those of St. Michael the Angel of Fatima and of Our Lady of Fatima stressed the impending Justice of God in an appeal for reparation.

“I will reveal My love to them more and more …”

Centuries have passed; the Sacred Heart of Jesus and now the Immaculate Heart of Mary in union with Him, have alike been spurned, even by Catholics.  Although Catholics are at least somewhat familiar with the Promises of the Sacred Heart, few take note of a most important passage contained in Our Lord’s  words to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. This overlooked passage is His Promise of the Cross.

St. Margaret Mary wrote the following in a letter to her former Superior, Mother Grayfie,

“It seems to me that our Lord made me see several names written in His Sacred Heart owing to their desire to cause It to be honored … But He does not say say that His friends would have nothing to suffer because He wishes that they make all their happiness consist in tasting His sorrows… Our Lord has never given us stronger proofs that He loves us than by making us share in His sufferings.”

And In a letter to Mother de Saumaise she wrote that Our Lord had explained to her, “Embrace the cross lovingly, whenever it comes, as the most precious token of love I can give you in this life.”  (“The Promises of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary“, by Father Paul Wenisch, S. J., Tamil Nadu, India).

It is eminently true to say that the Heart of Jesus was opened to bring us life.

But the Promise of the Cross does not mean that we will be forsaken, far from it! Taste and see the goodness of the Lord! St. Augustine, commenting on today’s Gospel (John 19, 31-37) notes that “The Evangelist says, ‘opened’ to show us  that thereby the door of life was thrown open, through which the Sacraments of the Church flow forth.”  And Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene adds, “And it is through these Sacraments that we receive the life of grace.”
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The Feast of the Purification of Mary, Candlemas

“Adorn thy bridal-chamber O Sion, and welcome Christ the King. With loving embrace greet Mary, the very gate of heaven, for she brought to thee the glorious King of new light. Ever Virgin she remaineth, yet in her arms doth bear the Son begotten before the day-star; that Child Whom Simeon did take into his arms and proclaim to the nations as Lord of life and Savior of the world.”

Today, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary marks the end of the Christmastide cycle of the liturgy. it is perhaps the oldest Marian feast and commemorates our Blessed Mother’s humility and obedience to the Mosaic Law by going to the Temple in Jerusalem and making the prescribed purification offerings forty days after the birth of her Divine Child. Obviously, the Immaculata had no need for purification but nevertheless performed this duty for the sake of obedience, thus continuing to teach us the lessons she has imparted since the “Fiat voluntas tua” of the Annunciation.

Once Jesus had died for our sins and arisen victorious from the dead, the Mosaic law no longer bound us, but until then, it was fitting that Mary obey the Old Law for obedience sake.Thus, Christmastide officially ends with an intimation of the purification to come in Lent.

Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, ... A light to enlighten the gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.
Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, … A light to enlighten the gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.

Additionally, this feast celebrates the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, which is the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Traditionally, today’s Mass is preceded by the blessing and distribution of candles and a procession with the lighted candles; thus it is called Candlemas. In the Prayers of Blessing, the Church prays, “O Lord Jesus Christ, the true Light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world, pour forth Thy blessing upon these candles and sanctify them with the light of Thy grace, and mercifully grant that as these lights enkindled with visible fire dispel the darkness of night, so our hearts illumined by invisible fire, that is, by the splendor of the Holy Ghost, may be free from every blindness due to vice, so that with clear sight our minds may discern what is pleasing to Thee and profitable to our salvation, so that after the darksome perils of this life we may deserve to attain to never-fading light.”

During the distribution of candles, the choir sings the Canticle of Simeon: “Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, in peace, according to Thy word. Because mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples. A light to enlighten the gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.”

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First Blood, 2017

“Contemplating Him, we shall learn that deeds are better than words, that the greater the sacrifices they require, the greater the proof they give of real love. Furthermore, every undertaking must receive its baptism of blood in order to be fruitful. “
He has not yet spoken; the world does not yet know Him; but He is already shedding His blood for the salvation of mankind.
He has not yet spoken; the world does not yet know Him; but He is already shedding His blood for the salvation of mankind.

Today, the Octave of Christmas is the day we commemorate the first shedding of the precious blood of our Saviour, at His Circumcision.  It is fitting that we start off 2017 with this commemoration of the first sacrifice of the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is His vivid lesson in humility and obedience, the requisite virtues for 2017, the year of Fatima.

From Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. we read:

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Immaculata, beautiful flower of Carmel, pray for us

O Mary Immaculate, Beauty of Carmel, you offer us your scapular, the very garment of your grace. By it, grant us graces to be your true children and grow in humility, obedience, holiness and purity.

Immaculate Mother of God, Flower of Carmel, pray for us, pray for the Church!
Immaculate Mother of God, Flower of Carmel, pray for us, pray for the Church!

Today, 16 July, we honor Our Blessed Mother under her title, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It is a title particularly pleasing to her, as she appeared at Fatima on 13 October, 1917 wearing the Carmelite habit and holding the Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel as if offering it to mankind. To her children, Mary’s suggestions are her commands and we would have expected that this apparition alone caused all devout Catholics worldwide to subsequently become enrolled in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. There should have been a vast movement of priests preaching this devotion, with Pope and Bishops leading the way. However, we all know that nothing of the sort happened.

In his wonderful book, Divine Intimacy, Father Gabriel tells us,
“The Blessed Virgin is a Mother who clothes us with grace and takes our supernatural life under her protection, in order to bring it to its full flowering in eternal life….The Scapular, the little habit, that Our Lady of Mount Carmel offers us, is only the external symbol of her unceasing, maternal care: the symbol, but also the sign, the pledge of eternal salvation. ‘My beloved son’, Mary said to St. Simon Stock, ‘Take this scapular…whoever dies clothed in it will not suffer eternal fire’. The Blessed Virgin gives the assurance of the supreme grace of final perseverance to all who wear worthily her little habit.”(Divine Intimacy, p. 1146, published by TAN Books.)

In Isaiah 32, verses 16-18, we read, “And judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and justice shall sit in Carmel. And the work of justice shall be peace, and the service of justice quietness, and security for ever. And my people shall sit in the beauty of peace, and in the tabernacles of confidence, and in wealthy rest.” Now, by the “wealthy rest” is not meant the protestant gospel of prosperity, which makes a virtue of usurious materialism, but the spiritual wealth accruing from a firm commitment to the sanctification of our souls by following Christ in justice. Carmel signifies Garden and Mary’s Immaculate Heart is truly a Garden of virtues to which she welcomes her children, those who wear her habit, even the little habit of her Brown Scapular.

It was such a delight to discover that Carmel means garden in Hebrew, because I have always pictured interiorly the Annunciation as occurring in Mary’s garden in Nazareth. I’ve been unable to locate an image online of the Annunciation which portrayed it outdoors. In my heart though, she is always in a garden as I visit her there each day to begin my Rosary with her First Joyful Mystery. Of course, the Mysteries of the Rosary being so interlinked with significance, that first mystery always leads one to Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, which is the First Sorrowful Mystery. And thus Mary’s sweet, obedient, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord”  is irrevocably linked to Our Lord’s obedience in, “Yet not My will, but Thine be done, Father.”

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The Purification of Mary

“Adorn thy bridal-chamber O Sion, and welcome Christ the King. With loving embrace greet Mary, the very gate of heaven, for she brought to thee the glorious King of new light. Ever Virgin she remaineth, yet in her arms doth bear the Son begotten before the day-star; that Child Whom Simeon did take into his arms and proclaim to the nations as Lord of Life and Savior of the world.”

Today, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary marks the end of the Christmastide cycle of the liturgy. it is perhaps the oldest Marian feast and commemorates our Blessed Mother’s humility and obedience to the Mosaic Law by going to the Temple in Jerusalem and making the prescribed purification offerings forty days after the birth of her Divine Child. Obviously, the Immaculata had no need for purification but nevertheless performed this duty for the sake of obedience, thus continuing to teach us the lessons she has imparted since the “Fiat voluntas tua” of the Annunciation.

Once Jesus had died for our sins and arisen victorious from the dead, the Mosaic law no longer bound us, but until then, it was fitting that Mary obey the Old Law for obedience sake.Thus, Christmastide officially ends with an intimation of the purification to come in Lent.

Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, ... A light to enlighten the gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.
Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, … A light to enlighten the gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.

 

Additionally, this feast celebrates the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, which is the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Traditionally, today’s Mass is preceded by the blessing and distribution of candles and a procession with the lighted candles; thus it is called Candlemas. In the Prayers of Blessing, the Church prays, “O Lord Jesus Christ, the true Light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world, pour forth Thy blessing upon these candles and sanctify them with the light of Thy grace, and mercifully grant that as these lights enkindled with visible fire dispel the darkness of night, so our hearts illumined by invisible fire, that is, by the splendor of the Holy Ghost, may be free from every blindness due to vice, so that with clear sight our minds may discern what is pleasing to Thee and profitable to our salvation, so that after the darksome perils of this life we may deserve to attain to never-fading light.”

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Evensong 2015

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In this twilight of our Christian era, the darkness gathers. Eventually it will bring a purifying chastisement and a rebirth of the Faith. I am struck by the coincidence of the closing of my own life with this transition of our Christian era. This is a repost an old entry, I hope you don’t mind.

“We must give every moment its full amount of love, and make each passing moment eternal, by giving it value for eternity.”
“We must give every moment its full amount of love, and make each passing moment eternal, by giving it value for eternity.”

Twilight was always the favorite time of day for my Father-in-law and thus, it became mine. Evensong is a hymn/prayer that stays with me in the evening of my life.

Sweet Savior, bless us ‘ere we go
Thy word into our hearts instill.
And make our lukewarm hearts to glow
With lowly love and fervent will.
Through life’s long day
And death’s dark night
O gentle Jesus, be our light.

My daily readings are from Divine Intimacy, by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. In his reading titled, ”Let Us Make Good Use of Time.” Father Gabriel reminds us that time ill spent is lost forever and that what degree of love we have achieved at the time of our death is what we shall have throughout eternity.

He then quotes Sister Carmela of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D. , who was under his spiritual direction, “We must give every moment its full amount of love, and make each passing moment eternal, by giving it value for eternity.” We do that by love, by doing every smallest task entrusted to us, with all the love of which we are capable.

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