Our Lady of Sorrows in the Passion of the Church

“The Cross is suffering viewed in the supernatural light of faith as an instrument of salvation and sanctification, and therefore, as an instrument of love.”

Today, September 15, is the Commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

Crucifixion by Wilhelm Kotarbinski
“O you who pass by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow.”

 

Although Our Lord’s own chosen Apostles fled His Passion, no one could keep the Woman away. Unlike the sentimental pictures which sometimes show Mary fainting at the foot of the Cross, Mary stood there, intent on sharing every excruciating detail of the ignominy her beloved Son suffered. Just as she had freely chosen to become His Mother, she chose to behold Him tortured from head to foot and torn from her by the cruelest of deaths. She not only accepted this, she offered this; this sharing in His Passion, sharing even in His death, uniting Their hearts forever for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity and in loving reparation for the sins of men, for our sins, for my sins.

Mary’s heart, like Christ’s whole crushed and bruised being , was transformed with anguish by the sins of mankind … Mary became the Queen of martyrs because, after Jesus, she has endured the greatest martyrdom of heart … her sufferings are fruitful for us in a way that we can scarcely suspect…(from Father Garrigou-Lagrange, “Mary, the Model of Reparation”).

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The Plenitude of God’s Gift

The divine gift to our souls reaches its culminating point in the gift of the Holy Ghost Who is the Gift par excellence: Altissimi Donum Dei, Gift of the Most High God.

The beautiful Feast of Pentecost is, in a way, the very crown of the Church’s liturgical year. And we have such need of it today! More than ever, faithful hearts cry out, “Come Holy Ghost!, Creator blest!” The following excerpted from Divine Intimacy by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D.

Pentecost is the plenitude of God’s Gift to us. On Christmas Day, God gives us His only begotten Son, Christ Jesus, the mediator, the Bridge connecting humanity and divinity. During Holy Week, Jesus, by His Passion, gives Himself entirely for us, even to death on the Cross. He bathes us, purifying us and sanctifying us in His Blood. At Easter, Christ rises and His Resurrection, as well as His Ascension, is the pledge of our own glorification. He goes before us to His Father’s house to prepare a place for us, for in Him and with Him, we have become a part of the Divine Family; we have become children of God, destined for eternal beatitude.

Pentecost by Titian
The Descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost

But the gift of God to men does not end there; having ascended into heaven, Jesus, in union with the Father, sends us His Spirit, the Holy Ghost. The Father and the Holy Ghost loved us to the point of giving us the Word in the Incarnation; the Father and the Word so loved us as to give us the Holy Ghost. Thus, the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity give Themselves to man, stooping to this poor nothing to redeem him from sin, to sanctify him, and to bring him into their own intimacy.

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Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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.

Mary, flower of Carmel, Immaculate Mother of Christ, pray for us, your children.
Mary, flower of Carmel, Immaculate Mother of Christ, pray for us, your children.

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 capitalism, 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.

It is true that our humble obedience will inevitably lead us, especially in these days of the Passion of the Mystical Body of Christ, to our own Gethsemane, our own, “Not my will, but Thine be done, Father.” The scapular will, if worn in the right spirit, enable us to silence the tumult of the world, the flesh and the devil that stir us always to so much discontent and doubt. Wear Our Lady’s scapular and join her in her Garden and you will find rest for your soul and nourishment for the way of the cross we all must follow if we are to serve Our Lord in truth and in justice.

St. Simon Stock, so devoted to Our Lady has left us this prayer, “O Mary, flower of Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, who brought forth the Son of God yet remained a Virgin, Sweet and Immaculate Mother, grant the favors that your children ask, O Star of the Sea”.

It is easy to make your own Brown Scapular. Once you get the hang of it, you can then make them for others.

Scapular of Mount Carmel is a good site for inexpensive supplies and also information regarding the correct size and other specified requirements for the scapulars. They also have the ritual for enrolling in the Scapular of Mount Carmel that you can print out for your priest to use, if he is unfamiliar. The website is here.

If you should desire to spread this wonderful devotion, may I suggest a great help is The Fatima Center’s beautiful booklet, “Our Lady’s Garment, The Brown Scapular: a Sign of Salvation and Protection. They offer all their materials at very reasonable prices and they are really nice booklets. Please note, the link I just gave is for the pdf file for the booklet. I cannot find the Fatima Shoppe online site from which I purchased this item previously, but will check on it for you.

Many saints have recommended the devotion of wearing Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s Brown Scapular and I cannot hope to improve on their words. My own testimony is simply that wearing Our Lady’s Scapular, her little habit, has gradually brought me to the realization that she is truly my Mother. I am flooded with gratitude even as I write these words, “my Mother!” As you wear her scapular, you are participating in a seemingly passive devotion, wearing her scapular, such a simple thing. Or is it? Try it for a while and you will find out what it means to be a child of the very Mother of Our Savior Himself.

With His dying words, Our Lord gave us His Mother and commanded her to be our Mother. The awesome responsibility and the incomprehensible graces attached to this will dawn on you as you wear her little habit and visit with her, in her Rosary Garden daily.

I hope that all who read this will avail themselves of this modest devotion. Wear her Scapular, pray her Rosary and you will have a joyful part in the triumph of her Immaculate Heart!

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us now and at the hour of our death!

Our Lady of the Rosary, be Queen of our hearts!

On the Eve of the Visitation

“And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
Because He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
For behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is His name.
And His mercy is from generation to generations unto them that fear Him.
He hath shewed strength in His arm:
He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
And hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away.
He hath helped Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy:
As He spoke unto our fathers, to Abraham and his seed for ever.” [Luke 1, 46-55]

The Magnificat, Our Lady’s Hymn of Praise
Considering Mary’s Magnificat, her beautiful hymn of praise to God, gives us insight into the Visitation, the second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, which event the Church honors tomorrow. Luke’s Gospel tells us that:

“when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.” [Luke 1, 41-45].

Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

 

Note that Elizabeth “was filled with the Holy Ghost” when she said, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” This means that Elizabeth’s praise of Mary was inspired by the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit, referred to earlier in Luke 1, 35, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee.”

To understand the Magnificat, consider that even as Elizabeth praised Mary, Mary responded with a hymn of praise to God. Mary, as the creature most perfect, most beloved of God, acknowledges that she is nothing without God. This perfect humility in Mary, this perfect obedience to God’s will in all things is what makes our devotion to Mary so beneficial. Mary is our quickest, surest way to the Heart of her beloved Son.

“My soul doth magnify the Lord.” How can a mere mortal “magnify” the Divine Lord? In the pure, clear soul of the Immaculata, God’s glory is reflected back as a mirror reflects back the brightness of the blazing sun. This image alone is such a rich source of contemplation, it would take volumes to begin to express properly.

Mary then proclaims, “my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaid.” In this, she confirms that she is only the servant of God, her Saviour. When, in the Magnificat Mary refers to herself as “His handmaid”, it is the second time she has done so. The first was when she said at the Annunciation, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” By this repetition, Mary is emphasizing the importance of her humble obedience. Mary’s entire role in the salvation of mankind is based on humility and obedience.

The following verse, “behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed”, must be overlooked by those who reject devotion to Mary. Our Blessed Mother quickly adds to that verse, “Because He that is mighty, hath done great things unto me; and holy is His name”. Thus, we see that Mary always keeps the divine order, and never fails to attribute her every blessing to God alone. It is impossible to be truly devoted to Mary and not at the same time adore the most Holy Trinity; Mary is the most beloved Daughter of God the Father, the most pure Mother of God the Son and the most glorious Spouse of God the Holy Spirit. Thus, Mary’s entire worth is in her perfect reflection of God.

Mary’s hymn reflects also her adoration of God’s most sacred name, “holy is His name.” This, of course is our first duty and Mary’s hymn exemplifies this exquisitely. The Magnificat is a salutary prayer to remedy the all-pervasive blasphemy of these times.

When Mary proclaims, “His mercy is from generation to generations, unto them that fear Him”, she is stating that God’s mercy is inextricably united with fearing Him. How long has it been since you heard a sermon on “fear of the Lord”? Unless you are as old as I am, or attend an SSPX Chapel, it is unlikely that you have ever heard any priest speak of this important virtue. Yet the Bible teaches, “Come, children, hearken to me: I will teach you fear of the Lord.” [Psalm 33, 12] Father Gabriel tells us that “this is the first lesson the Divine Paraclete teaches the soul” who is seeking closer union with God. (Divine Intimacy, Tan Publishers)

Fear of the Lord is such a tremendous love for God, such intimacy with Our Saviour, that we live in a holy fear of wounding Him in any way. If we truly love God as Mary teaches us, then we will always fear the loss of His love. Father Gabriel then says, “Captured by love for such a good father, the soul has but one desire, to return Him love for love, to give Him pleasure and to be united with Him forever.”

Mary goes on to proclaim God’s justice, which has, “scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart… put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away”. This reminder of God’s justice, following as it does the promise of His mercy “from generation to generations”, helps us understand the divine order. It is the remedy for the worldly false mercy of Bergoglio/Kasper. Our Blessed Mother, from Quito to Fatima has spoken of God’s mercy while warning of His justice. We must be mindful of the coming justice of God, even as the great mass of humanity continue to to be indifferent to His true mercy.

The closing verses return to the mercy of God, “He hath helped His servant Israel, being mindful of His mercy: As He spoke unto our fathers, to Abraham and his seed for ever.” Israel refers to the Church, founded by Christ to fulfill the law, enduring until He comes again. As we approach the final Synod, let us renew our prayers for the intercession of the Immaculate Mother God on behalf of our poor Church. And so we return to our Rosaries, renewed in our faith, encouraged by the promise of God’s mercy and justice, and inspired by our Most Blessed Mother to pray for the liberty and exaltation of our holy Mother the Church, seeking always the restoration of all things in Christ Jesus Our Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Pray the Rosary and confound the devil.

 

Pentecost 2015

The beautiful Feast of Pentecost is, in a way, the very crown of the Church’s liturgical year. And we have such need of it today! More than ever, faithful hearts cry out, “Come Holy Ghost!, Creator blest!” The following excerpted from Divine Intimacy  by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D.

Pentecost by Titian
The Descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost

Pentecost is the plenitude of God’s Gift to us. On Christmas Day, God gives us His only begotten Son, Christ Jesus, the mediator, the Bridge connecting humanity and divinity. During Holy Week, Jesus, by His Passion, gives Himself entirely for us, even to death on the Cross. He bathes us, purifying us and sanctifying us in His Blood. At Easter, Christ rises and His Resurrection, as well as His Ascension, is the pledge of our own glorification. He goes before us to His Father’s house to prepare a place for us, for in Him and with Him, we have become a part of the Divine Family; we have become children of God, destined for eternal beatitude. But the gift of God to men does not end there; having ascended into heaven, Jesus, in union with the Father, sends us His Spirit, the Holy Ghost. The Father and the Holy Ghost loved us to the point of giving us the Word in the Incarnation; the Father and the Word so loved us as to give us the Holy Ghost. Thus, the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity give Themselves to man, stooping to this poor nothing to redeem him from sin, to sanctify him, and to bring him into their own intimacy.

Such is the excessive charity with which God has loved us, and the divine gift to our souls reaches its culminating point in the gift of the Holy Ghost Who is the gift par excellence: Altissimi Donum Dei, Gift of the Most High God. The Holy Ghost, the bond and pledge of the mutual love of the Father and the Son, He Who accepts, seals and crowns Their reciprocal gift, is given to our souls through the infinite merits of Jesus, so that He will be able to complete the work of our sanctification. By His descent upon the Apostles under the form of tongues of fire, the Holy Ghost shows us how He, the Spirit of Love, is given to us in order to transform us by His charity, and having transformed us, lead us back to God.

The gift of the Holy Ghost is not a temporary gift, but a permanent one. In fact, for the soul who lives in charity, He is the Sweet Guest Who dwells within it. “If anyone love Me”, says Jesus in the words of today’s Gospel (John 14, 23-31), “We will come to him and will make Our abode with him.” However, this indwelling of the Trinity — and hence of the Holy Ghost — in the soul which is in a state of grace, is a gift which can and should increase; it is a continual giving. The first donation was made when we were baptized; it was renewed later, confirmed by the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Sacrament that is, so to speak, the Pentecost of every Christian soul. Progressive renewals of this gift were made with every increase in charity. And what of the present? The Holy Ghost, in union with the Father and the Son, continues to give Himself to the soul more completely, more profoundly and possessively.

Today’s Gospel speaks very forcefully about charity, which is at the same time both the condition for, and the result of, the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in our souls. It is the condition, because according to Jesus Himself, the three Divine Persons dwell only in a soul who loves; it is the result because “the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Who is given to us.” (Romans 5, 5). Divine Love completely preceded us at Baptism, without merit on our part and solely through the merits of Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost was given to us, and His charity was diffused in us. Thereafter, each time we corresponded to the Divine invitations, by making generous acts of charity, He renewed His invisible visits to our soul, giving us always new grace and new charity. Thus our supernatural life has developed under the action of the holy Ghost; it is caught up in the life-giving transforming current of His love. In this way we understand how the Feast of Pentecost can and should represent a new outpouring of the Holy Ghost in our souls, a new visit in which He fills us with His gifts:

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
And in our hearts, take up Thy rest,
Come with Thy grace, and heavenly aid,
To fill the hearts, which Thou hast made.

We close with this prayer from Sister Carmela of the Holy Spirit, O.C.D. : “Come, O lifegiving Spirit, to this poor world and renew the face of the earth; give us Your peace, that peace which the world cannot give. Help Your Church, give her holy priests and fervent apostles. Fill with holy inspirations the souls of the good; give repentance to sinful souls, consoling refreshment to the suffering, strength and help to those who are tempted, and light to those in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen.”

Come, Holy Ghost, renew the Church!

Come, Immaculate Mother of God, crush the head of satan and free the Church from evil!