Thursday, 14th December 2017

St Bernard of Clairvaux on the Degrees of Love

Posted on 13. Dec, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

Chapter IX.
Of the second and third degrees of love

So then in the beginning man loves God, not for God’s sake, but for his own. It is something for him to know how little he can do by himself and how much by God’s help, and in that knowledge to order himself rightly towards God, his sure support. But when tribulations, recurring again and again, constrain him to turn to God for unfailing help, would not even a heart as hard as iron, as cold as marble, be softened by the goodness of such a Saviour, so that he would love God not altogether selfishly, but because He is God? Let frequent troubles drive us to frequent supplications; and surely, tasting, we must see how gracious the Lord is (Ps. 34.8).

Thereupon His goodness once realized draws us to love Him unselfishly, yet more than our own needs impel us to love Him selfishly: even as the Samaritans told the woman who announced that it was Christ who was at the well: Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the saviour of the world’ (John 4.42). We likewise bear the same witness to our own fleshly nature, saying, No longer do we love God because of our necessity, but because we have tasted and seen how gracious the Lord is’. Our temporal wants have a speech of their own, proclaiming the benefits they have received from God’s favour. Once this is recognized it will not be hard to fulfill the commandment touching love to our neighbours; for whosoever loves God aright loves all God’s creatures.

Such love is pure, and finds no burden in the precept bidding us purify our souls, in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren (I Peter 1.22). Loving as he ought, he counts that command only just. Such love is thankworthy, since it is spontaneous; pure, since it is shown not in word nor tongue, but in deed and truth (I John 3.18); just, since it repays what it has received. Whoso loves in this fashion, loves even as he is loved, and seeks no more his own but the things which are Christ’s, even as Jesus sought not His own welfare, but ours, or rather ourselves. Such was the psalmist’s love when he sang: O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is gracious’ (Ps. 118.1). Whosoever praises God for His essential goodness, and not merely because of the benefits He has bestowed, does really love God for God’s sake, and not selfishly. The psalmist was not speaking of such love when he said: So long as thou doest well unto thyself, men will speak good of thee'(Ps. 49.18). The third degree of love, we have now seen, is to love God on His own account, solely because He is God.

Source: On Loving God by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

St Anthony of Padua’s Sermon on Love

Posted on 05. Dec, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

“God is love,” we read today at the beginning of the Epistle. (I John iv, 8) As love is the chief of all the virtues, we shall treat of it here at some length in a special way . . . .

If God loved us to the point that he gave us his well-beloved Son, by whom he made all things, we too should ourselves love one another. “I give you,” he says, “a new commandment, that ye love one another (John xiii, 34).” . . . We have, says St. Augustine, four objects to love. The first is above us: it is God. The second is ourselves. The third is round about us: it is our neighbor. The fourth is beneath us: it is our body. The rich man loved his body first and above everything. Of God, of his neighbor, of his soul, he had not a thought; that was why he was damned.

Our Body, says St. Bernard, should be to us like a sick person entrusted to our care. We must refuse it many of the worthless things it wants; on the other hand, we must forcefully compel it to take the helpful remedies repugnant to it. We should treat it not as something belonging to us but as belonging to Him who bought it at so higha price, and whom we must glorify in our body (I Corinthians vi, 20). We should love our body in the fourth and last place, not as the goal of our life but as an indispensable instrument of it.

Source: Les Sermons de St. Antoine de Padoue pour L’année Liturgique. Translated by Abbe Paul Bayart, Paris, n.d.) From Lives of Saints, John J. Crawley & Co., 1954

The Immaculate Conception, by St Alphonsus Ligouri

Posted on 05. Dec, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

In the first place, it was fitting that the eternal Father should create Mary free from the original stain, because she was his daughter, and his first-born daughter, as she herself attests: “I came out of the mouth of the Most High, the first-born before all creatures;” for this passage is applied to Mary by the sacred interpreters, by the holy Fathers, and by the Church herself, on the solemn festival of her Conception. Whether she be the first-born on account of her predestination, together with her Son, in the divine decrees, before all creatures, as the school of the Scotists will have it; or the first-born of grace, as predestined to be the mother of the Redeemer, after the prevision of sin, according to the school of the Thomists, all agree in calling her the first-born of God; which being the case, it was not meet that Mary should be the slave of lucifer, but that she should only and always be possessed by her Creator, as she herself asserts: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways.” Hence Mary was rightly called by Dionyshis, Archbishop of Alexandria: One and sole daughter of life: Una et sola filia vitae; differing in this from others, who being born in sin, are daughters of death.

Moreover, it was meet that the eternal Father should create her in his grace, since he destined her for the restorer of the lost world, and mediatrix of peace between man and God; and thus the holy Fathers name her, and especially St. John Damascene, who thus addresses her. Oh blessed Virgin, thou art born to procure the salvation of the whole world! St. Bernard says that Mary was already prefigured in the ark of Noe; for as by the ark men were saved from the deluge, so by Mary we are saved from the ship wreck of sin; but with this difference, that by means of the ark few only were saved, but by means of Mary the whole human race has been redeemed. Hence it is that Mary is called by St. Athanasius: The new Eve, the mother of life: Nova Eva, mater vitae. A new Eve, because the first was the mother of death, but the most holy Virgin is the mother of life. St. Theophanes, Bishop of Nice, exclaims: Hail to thee, who hast taken away the sorrow of Eve. St. Basil calls her: the peacemaker between God and men. St. Ephrem: The peacemaker of the whole world.

Now, certainly he who treats of peace should not be an enemy of the offended person, still less an accomplice of his crime. St. Gregory says, that to appease the judge his enemy certainly must not be chosen, for instead of appeasing him he would enrage him more. Therefore, Mary was to be the mediatrix of peace between God and man, there was every reason why she should not appear as a sinner and enemy of God, but as his friend, and pure from sin.

Besides, it was fitting that God should preserve her from original sin, since he destined her to bruise the head of the infernal serpent, who, by seducing our first parents, brought death upon all men, as our Lord predicted: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed; she shall crush thy head.” Now, if Mary was to be the strong woman brought into the world to crush lucifer, surely it was not fitting that she should first be conquered by lucifer, and made his slave, but rather that she should be free from every stain, and from all subjection to the enemy. As lie had in his pride already corrupted the whole human race, he would also corrupt the pure soul of this Virgin. But may the divine goodness be ever praised, who prevented her with so much grace, to the end that remaining free from every stain of sin, she could overthrow and confound his pride, as St. Augustine says, or whoever may have been the author of that commentary upon Genesis: As the devil was the head from whence original sin proceeded, that head Mary crushed, because no sin ever entered the soul of the Virgin, and therefore she was free from all stain. St. Bonaventure still more clearly expresses the same: It was meet that the blessed Virgin Mary, by whom our shame was to be removed, should conquer the devil, and there she should not yield to him in the least degree.

But it was especially fitting that the eternal Father should preserve his daughter from the sins of Adam, because he destined her for the mother of his only begotten Son. Thou wast preordained in the mind of God, before every creature, to bring forth God himself made man. If for no other reason, then, at least for the honor of his Son, who was God, the Father would create her pure from every stain. The angelic Doctor St. Thomas says, that all things ordained by God must be holy, and pure from every defilement. If David, when he was planning the temple of Jerusalem with a magnificence worthy the Lord, said; “Not for man a house is prepared, but for God;” now, how much greater cause have we to believe that the great Creator, having destined Mary to be the mother of his own Son, would adorn her soul with every grace, that it might be a worthy habitation for a God. God, the creator of all things, affirms blessed Denis the Carthusian, about to construct a worthy habitation for his Son, adorned her with all pleasing gifts. And the holy Church herself assures us of this, when she affirms that God prepared the body and soul of the Virgin to be, on earth, a habitation worthy of his only begotten Son. “Omnipotent, eternal God!” thus the holy Church prays, “who, by the co operation of the Holy Ghost, didst prepare the body and soul of the glorious Virgin mother, that she might become a worthy habitation for thy Son,”

A Most Beautiful Example

There came a woman to one of the houses of our little congregation, in this kingdom, to tell one of the fathers that her husband had not been to confession for many years, and that she did not know how to bring him back to his duties, for whenever she spoke to him of confession he beat her. The father told her to give him a little picture of Mary immaculate. Evening came, and the woman again begged her husband to go to confession; but the man being as deaf as before, she gave him the picture. He had no sooner received it than he said: “When will you take me to confession, for I am ready? ” The wife, at that sudden change, wept for joy. In the morning, he came to our church, and when the father asked him how long it was since he had been to confession, he answered: “Twenty eight years.” “And what has brought you to confession this morning?” said the father. “Father,” he said, “I was obstinate, but yesterday my wife gave me a picture of the Madonna, and immediately I felt my heart changed, so that last night appeared to me a thousand years long, and I thought the day would never come when I might go to confession.” He made his confession with great compunction, changed his life, and continued for a long time to go often to confession to the same father.

 

Source. The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri

The Glories of Mary by St. Alponsus Ligouri (1696-1787) is one of the greatest Catholic books ever written. Easily understood by all, this famous book is undoubtedly the best composite of teaching about the Blessed Virgin Mary ever penned and is one that will lead many souls to a greater love of Jesus through a more intimate knowledge of Mary and her exalted role in our salvation.

 

St John Vianney – Love of our Neighbour

Posted on 30. Nov, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

All of our religion is but a false religion and all our virtues are mere illusions and we ourselves are only hypocrites in the sight of God if we have not that universal charity for everyone, for the good and for the bad, for the poor people as well as for the rich, for all those who do us harm as much as for those who do us good.

No, my dear brethren, there is no virtue which will let us know better whether we are the children or God than charity.

The obligation we have to love our neighbour is so important that Jesus Christ put it into a Commandment which He placed immediately after that by which He commands us to love Him with all our hearts. He tells us that all the law and the prophets are included in this commandment to love our neighbour. Yes, my dear brethren, we must regard this obligation as the most universal, the most necessary and the most essential to religion and to our salvation. In fulfilling this Commandment, we are fulfilling all others. St. Paul tells us that the other Commandments forbid us to commit adultery, robbery, injuries, false testimonies. If we love our neighbour, we shall not do any of these things because the love we have for our neighbour would not allow us to do him any harm.

Source: The Sermons of the Cure of Ars by St John Vianney

Presentation of Mary by St Alphonsus Ligouri

Posted on 17. Nov, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

The divine mother herself revealed to St. Elizabeth, a Benedictine nun, in the convent of Sconaugia, as we read in St. Bonaventure, that when she was left in the temple by her parents, she resolved on having God alone for her father, and often thought what she could do to please him.

She determined, moreover, to consecrate to him her virginity, and to possess nothing in the world, giving her entire will to God. She also told her that above all the divine precepts to be observed, she placed before her eyes the precept, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,” and that she went in the middle of the night to pray the Lord before the altar of the temple, that he would grant her the grace to observe the commandments, and to see the mother of the Redeemer born while she lived, praying him that he would preserve her eyes to see her, her tongue to praise her, her hands and feet to serve her, and her knees to adore in her arms, his divine Son.

St. Elizabeth, on hearing this, said to her: “But, my Lady, were you not full of grace and virtue?” and Mary answered her: “Know that I esteemed myself the most vile, and unworthy of divine grace; therefore I prayed thus for grace and virtues.” And, finally, that she might persuade us of the absolute necessity we are all under, of asking from God the graces that we need, she added: “Do you think that I obtained grace and virtue without effort? Know that I received no grace from God without great effort, constant prayer, ardent desire, and many tears and penances.”

But above all, we should consider the revelations made to St. Bridget, of the virtues and exercises practiced by the blessed Virgin in her childhood, in these words: “Even from an infant Mary was filled with the Holy Spirit, and as she increased in age, she increased also in grace. Even from that time she resolved to love God with all her heart, so that he should never be offended by her actions or her words, and for this reason all the goods of earth were despised by her.

She gave all she could to the poor. In her food, she was so temperate that she only took what was absolutely necessary to support life. Discovering then from the sacred Scriptures, that this God was to be born from a virgin to redeem the world, her spirit was so kindled with divine love that she desired and thought only of God; and taking pleasure only in God, shunned the conversation even of her parents, that they might not hinder her from thinking of God.

And more than all did she desire that the coming of the Messiah might be in her day, that she might be the servant to that happy Virgin who merited to be his mother. Thus far the revelation made to St. Bridget.

Source. The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri

The Glories of Mary by St. Alponsus Ligouri (1696-1787) is one of the greatest Catholic books ever written. Easily understood by all, this famous book is undoubtedly the best composite of teaching about the Blessed Virgin Mary ever penned and is one that will lead many souls to a greater love of Jesus through a more intimate knowledge of Mary and her exalted role in our salvation.

St Leo the Great, Love of God.

Posted on 09. Nov, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

The love of God contrasted with the love of the world.

For there are two loves from which proceed all wishes, as different in quality as they are different in their sources. For the reasonable soul, which cannot exist without love, is the lover either of God or the world. In the love of God there is no excess, but in the love of the world all is hurtful. And therefore, we must cling inseparably to eternal treasures, but things temporal we must use like passers-by, that as we are sojourners hastening to return to our own land, all the good things of this world which meet us may be as aids on the way, not snares to detain us.

Therefore, the blessed Apostle makes this proclamation, “the time is short: it remains that those who have wives be as though they had none; and those who weep, as though they wept not; and those who rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and those who buy, as though they possessed not; and those that use this world, as though they used it not. For the fashion of this world passes away.”

But as the world attracts us with its appearance, and abundance and variety, it is not easy to turn away from it unless in the beauty of things visible the Creator rather than the creature is loved; for, when He says, “thou shalt love the Lord thy God from all thy heart, and from all thy mind, and from all thy strength,” He wishes us in noticing to loosen ourselves from the bonds of His love.

And when He links the love of our neighbour also to this command, He enjoins on us the imitation of His own goodness, that we should love what He loves and do what He does. For although we be “God’s husbandry and God’s building,” and “neither is he that planteth anything, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase,” yet in all things He requires our ministry and service, and wishes us to be the stewards of His gifts, that he who bears God’s image may do God’s will.

For this reason, in the Lord’s prayer we say most devoutly, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done as in heaven, so also on earth.” For what else do we ask for in these words but that God may subdue those whom He has not yet subdued, and as in heaven He makes the angels ministers of His will, so also on earth He may make men? And in seeking this we love God, we love also our neighbour: and the love within us has but one Object, since we desire the bond-servant to serve and the Lord to have rule.

……………………………

Source: Sermon LXXXVIII by St Leo the Great.

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy by St Alphonsus Ligouri

Posted on 22. Aug, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

As the glorious Virgin Mary has been raised to the dignity of Mother of the King of kings, it is not without reason that the Church honours her, and wishes her to honoured by all, with the glorious title of Queen. ‘If the Son is King,’ says an ancient writer, ‘the Mother who begot him is rightly and truly considered a Queen and Sovereign.’1

‘No sooner had Mary,’ says St Bernadine of Sienna, ‘consented to be Mother of the Eternal Word, than she merited by this consent to be made Queen of the world and of all creatures.’2 ‘Since the flesh of Mary,’ remarks the Abbot Arnold of Chartres, ‘was not different from that of Jesus, how can the royal dignity of the Son be denied to the Mother?’3 Hence we must consider the glory of the Son, not only as being common to, but as one with, that of His Mother.’4

And if Jesus is the King of the universe, Mary is also its Queen. ‘And as Queen,’ says the Abbot Rupert, ‘she possesses, by right, the whole kingdom of her Son.’5

Example of Mary Queen of Mercy

We read, in the life of Sister Catherine of St. Augustine, that in the place where she resided, there was a woman, of the name of Mary, who in her youth was a sinner, and in her old continued so obstinate in wickedness, that she was driven out of the city, and reduced to live in a secluded cave; there she died, half consumed by disease, and without the sacraments, and was consequently interred in a field. Sister Catherine, who always recommended the souls of those who departed this world, with great fervour to God, on hearing the unfortunate end of this poor woman, never thought of praying for her, and she looked upon her (as did everyone else) as irrevocably lost.

One day, four years afterwards, a suffering soul appeared to her, and exclaimed: ‘How unfortunate is my lot, Sister Catherine! Thou recommendest the souls of all those that die to God: on my soul alone thou hast not compassion.’

‘And who art thou?’ asked the servant of God. ‘I am,’ she replied, ‘that poor Mary, who died in the cave.’ ‘And art thou saved?’ said Catherine. ‘Yes,’ she answered, ‘by the mercy of the Blessed Virgin Mary.’ ‘And how?’ ‘When I saw myself at the point of death, loaded with sins, and abandoned by all, I had recourse to the Mother of God, saying, Lady, thou art the refuge of abandoned creatures: behold me, at this moment, abandoned by all; thou art my only hope; thou alone canst help me: have pity on me. The Blessed Virgin obtained me the grace to make an act of contrition. I died, and am saved; and besides this, she, my Queen, obtained that my purgatory should be shortened, by enduring, in intensity, that which otherwise would have last for many years: I now only want a few masses to be entirely delivered; I beg thee to get them said; and on my part, I promise always to pray for thee to God and to Mary.’

Sister Catherine immediately had the masses said, and after a few days that soul again appeared to her, shining like the sun, and said: ‘I thank thee, Catherine: behold, I go to Paradise, to sing the mercies of my God, and to pray for thee.’

 

  1. Serm. De Deip. Int. op. S. Athan.
  2. Tom. Iv. 90.
  3. De Laud. Virg.
  4. Ib.
  5. In Cant. 1. 3.

Source. The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri. ISBN: 978-0-89555-021-7

The Glories of Mary by St. Alponsus Ligouri (1696-1787) is one of the greatest Catholic books ever written. Easily understood by all, this famous book is undoubtedly the best composite of teaching about the Blessed Virgin Mary ever penned and is one that will lead many souls to a greater love of Jesus through a more intimate knowledge of Mary and her exalted role in our salvation.

 

Assumption of Mary by St Alphonsus Ligouri

Posted on 14. Aug, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

In each of the saints there were different graces, as Saint Paul says, “there are diversities of graces.”32 So that each of them, by corresponding with the grace he had received, excelled in some particular virtue – the one in saving souls, the other in leading a penitential life; one in enduring torments, another in a life of prayer: and this is the reason for which the holy Church, in celebrating their festivals, says of each, ‘there was not found one like him.’33

And as in their merits they differ, so do they differ in celestial glory: “for star differeth from star.”34 Apostles differ from martyrs, confessors from virgins, the innocent from penitents. The Blessed Virgin, being full of all graces, excelled each saint in every particular virtue: she was the apostle of the apostles; she was Queen of martyrs, for she suffered more than all of them; she was the standard-bearer of virgins, the model of married people; she united in her heart all the most heroic virtues that any saint ever practised.

Hence of her it was said that “the Queen stood on Thy right hand in gilded clothing, surrounded with variety.”35 For all the graces, privileges, and merits of the other saints were all united in Mary, as the Abbot of Celles says: ‘The prerogatives of all the saints, O Virgin, thou hast united thyself.’36

She possessed them in such a degree that, as ‘the splendour of the sun exceeds that of all the stars united,’ so, says Saint Basil of Seleucia, ‘does Mary’s glory exceed that of all the blessed.’37 Saint Peter Damian adds, that ‘as the light of the moon and stars is so entirely eclipsed on the appearance of the sun, that it is as if it was not, so also does Mary’s glory so far exceed the splendour of all men and angels, that, so to say, they do not appear in heaven.’38

Hence Saint Bernadine of Sienna asserts, with Saint Bernard, that the blessed participate in part in the divine glory, but that the Blessed Virgin has been, in a certain way, so greatly enriched with it, that it would seem that no creature could be more closely united with God than Mary is: ‘She has penetrated into the bottom of the deep, and seems immersed as deeply as it is possible for any creature in that inaccessible light.’39

Blessed Albert the Great confirms this, saying that our Queen ‘contemplates the majesty of God in incomparably closer proximity than all other creatures.’40 The above named Saint Bernadine moreover says, ‘that as the other planets are illumined by the sun, so do all the blessed receive light and an increase of happiness from the sight of Mary.’41 And in another place he also asserts, that ‘when the glorious Virgin Mother of God ascended to heaven, she augmented the joy of all its inhabitants.’42

For the same reason Saint Peter Damian says, that ‘the greatest glory of the blessed in heaven is, after seeing God, the presence of this most beautiful Queen.’43 And Saint Bonaventure, that, ‘after God, our greatest glory and our greatest joy is Mary.’44

Let us, then, rejoice with Mary that God has exalted her to so high a throne in heaven. Let us also rejoice on our own account; for though our Mother is no longer present with us on earth, having ascended in glory to heaven, yet in affection she is always with us.

Let us, in the meantime, dedicate ourselves to the service of this Queen, to honour and love her as much as we can; for, as Richard of St Lawrence remarks, ‘she is not like other rulers, who oppress their vassals with burdens and taxes; but she enriches her servants with graces, merits and rewards.’47

  1. 1 Cor. Xii. 4.
  2. Non est inventus similus illi.
  3. 1 Cor. Xv. 41.
  4. Ps. Xliv. 10.
  5. Contempl. B.V. cap. ii
  6. Orat. In B.V. et Incarnat. D.N.J.C.
  7. Serm. De Assumption. B.V.M.
  8. De Exalt. B.V. art. i. cap. 10.
  9. Sup. Missus, q. lxii.
  10. Loc. Cit. art. i. cap. 3.
  11. Serm. De Exalt. B.M.V. art. i. cap. 3.
  12. Serm. i. de Nat. B.M.V.
  13. Spec. B V. lect. 6.
  14. De Laud. V. l. vi. C. 13.

 

Source. Extract from The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri. ISBN: 978-0-89555-021-7

The Glories of Mary by St. Alponsus Ligouri (1696-1787) is one of the greatest Catholic books ever written. Easily understood by all, this famous book is undoubtedly the best composite of teaching about the Blessed Virgin Mary ever penned and is one that will lead many souls to a greater love of Jesus through a more intimate knowledge of Mary and her exalted role in our salvation.

St Dominic and the Rosary

Posted on 08. Aug, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

The account of St Dominic receiving the Rosary as recorded by Blessed Alan de la Roche.

Seeing that the gravity of the people’s sins was hindering the conversion of the Albigensians, St. Dominic withdrew to a forest near Toulouse. There he prayed unceasingly for three days and three nights, weeping and performing harsh penances in order to appease God’s anger. Throughout this time he flogged himself so much that his body was lacerated, and ultimately he fell into a coma.

At this point, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, accompanied by three Angels of heaven, and she said:

“My dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity has used to reform the world?” “My Lady,” replied St Dominic, “you know better than I because next to your Son Jesus Christ you were the chief instrument of our salvation.”

Our Lady added: “I want you to know that the principal means has been the Angelic Psalter (or Hail Mary), which is the foundation of the New Testament. That is why, if you want to win these hardened hearts for God, preach my Psalter.”

The Saint arose, comforted. Filled with zeal for the conversion of the Albigensians, he went straight to the cathedral church. Immediately, unseen Angels rang the bells to call to church the inhabitants of Toulouse, and St Dominic began to preach.

At the beginning of his sermon a frightful storm broke out. The earth shook, the sun became dim, and the thunder and lightning rendered his listeners pale and trembling. Their fright intensified when they glanced at an image of the Blessed Virgin, exposed in a prominent place, and saw her raise her arms to heaven three times to call down God’s vengeance upon the people of Toulouse if they failed to be converted and seek protection of the Holy Mother of God.

By means of these extraordinary happenings, God wanted to spread the new devotion of the Holy Rosary and make it more widely known.

At last, the storm came to an end in response to St Dominic’s prayers. He went on with his sermon and explained the value of the Holy Rosary so fervently and effectively that almost all the people of Toulouse embraced it and renounced their wrong beliefs. In a short time, a great change was seen in the city: people renounced their bad habits and began living truly Christian lives.

Source: The Secret of the Rosary by St Louis de Montfort (ISBN 978-0-89942-108-7)

“Martha, Martha” Catena Aurea by St Thomas Aquinas

Posted on 27. Jul, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

For the feast of St Martha on the 29th July we will look at Luke 10:40 which describes Martha serving while her sister Mary sits at our Lord’s feet listening to him.  Using St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea we can understand the passage more fully in light of the teachings of the Church Fathers.

Luke 10:40

  1. Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
  2. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
  3. But Martha was cumbered about much serving and came to him, and said, Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone, bid her therefore that she help me.
  4. And Jesus answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things:
  5. But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Below is St Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea description of the passage citing the Church Fathers

St Augustine. But the Lord, who came to his own, and his own received him not, was received as a guest, for it follows, and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house, as strangers are accustomed to be received. But still a servant received her Lord, the sick her Savior, the creature her Creator. But if any should say, “O blessed are they who have been thought worthy to receive Christ into their houses,” grieve not you, for He says, for inasmuch as you have done it to the least of my brethren, you have done it to me. But taking the form of a servant, He wished therein to be fed by servants, by reason of His condescension, not His condition. He had a body in which He was hungry and thirsty, but when He was hungry in the desert, Angels ministered to Him. In wishing therefore to be led, He came Himself to the feeder. Martha then, setting about and preparing to feed our Lord, was occupied in serving, but Mary her sister chose rather to be fed by the Lord, for it follows, and she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.

St John Chrysostom. It is not said of Mary simply that she sat near Jesus, but at His feet, to show her diligence, steadfastness, and zeal, in hearing, and the great reverence which she had for our Lord.

St Augustine. Now as was her humility in sitting at His feet, so much the more did she receive from him. For the waters pour down to the lowest part of the valley, but flow away from the rising of the hill.

St Basil. Now every work and word of our Saviour is a rule of piety and virtue for to this end did He put on our body, that as much as we can we might imitate His conversation.

St Cyril. By His own example then He teaches His disciples how they ought to behave in the houses of those who receive them, namely, when they come to a house, they should not remain idle, but rather fill the minds of those who receive them with sacred and divine teaching. But let those who make ready the house, go to meet their guests gladly and earnestly, for two reasons. First, indeed, they will be edified by the teaching of those whom they receive; nest also they will receive the reward of charity. And hence it follows here, But Martha was cumbered about much serving,

St Augustine. Martha was as well engaged in ministering to the bodily wants or wishes of our Lord, as of one who was mortal, but He who was clothed in mortal flesh, in the beginning was the Word. Behold then what Mary heard, The Word was made flesh. Behold then Him to whom Martha ministered. The one was laboring, the other at rest. But yet Martha, when much troubled in her occupation and business of serving, interrupted our Lord, and complained of her sister. For it follows, and said, Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? For Mary was absorbed in the sweetness of our Lord’s words; Martha was as preparing a feast for our Lord, in whose feast Mary was now rejoicing. While then she was listening with delight to those sweet words, and was feeding on them with the deepest affection, our Lord was interrupted by her sister. What must we suppose was her alarm, lest the Lord should say to her, “Rise, and help your sister?” Our Lord therefore, who was not at a loss, for He had shown He was the Lord, answered as follows, And Jesus answered and said to her, Martha, Martha. The repetition of the name is a mark of love, or perhaps of drawing the attention, that she should listen more earnestly. When twice called, she hears, you are troubled about many things. That is, you art busied about many things. For man wishes to meet with something when he is serving, and cannot; and thus between seeking what is wanting and preparing what is at hand, the mind is distracted. For if Martha had been sufficient of herself, she would not have required the aid of her sister. There are many, there are diverse things, which are carnal, temporal, but one is preferred to many. For one is not from many, but many from one. Hence it follows, but one thing is needful. Mary wished to be occupied about one, according to that, it is good for me to cling close to the Lord. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, are one. To this one he does not bring us, unless we being many have one heart.

St Cyril. Or else, when certain brethren have received God, they will not be anxious about much service, nor ask for those things which are not in their hands, and are beyond their needs. For everywhere and in everything that which is superfluous is burdensome. For it begets weariness in those who are wishing to bestow it, while the guests feel that they are the cause of trouble.

St Basil. It is foolish also to take food for the support of the body, and thereby in return to hurt the body, and to hinder it in the performance of the divine command. If then a poor man come, let him receive a model and example of moderation in food, and let us not prepare our own tables for their sakes, who wish to live luxuriously. For the life of the Christian is uniform, ever tending to one object, namely, the glory of God. But the life of those who are without is manifold and vacillating, changed about at will. And how in truth can you, when you set your table before your brother with profusion of meats, and for the pleasure of feasting sake, accuse him of luxury, and revile him as a glutton, censuring his indulgence in that which you yourself afford him? Our Lord did not commend Martha when busied about much serving.

St Augustine. What then? Must we think that blame was cast upon the service of Martha, who was engaged in the cares of hospitality, and rejoiced in having so great a guest? If this be true, let men give up ministering to the needy; in a word, let them be at leisure, intent only upon getting wholesome knowledge, taking no care what stranger is in the village in want of bread; let works of mercy be unheeded, knowledge only be cultivated.

St Theophylact. Our Lord does not then forbid hospitality, but the troubling about many things, that is to say, hurry and anxiety. And mark the wisdom of our Lord, in that at first He said nothing to Martha, but when she sought to tear away her sister from hearing, then the Lord took occasion to reprove her. For hospitality is ever honored as long as it keeps us to necessary things. But when it begins to hinder us from attending to what is of more importance, then it is plain that the hearing of the divine word is the more honourable.

St Augustine. Our Lord then does not blame the actions, but distinguishes between the duties. For it follows, Mary has chosen that good part, not yours a bad one, but hers a better. Why a better? because it shall not be taken away from her. From you the necessary burden of business shall one time be taken away. For when you come into that country, you will find no stranger to receive with hospitality. But for your good it shall be taken away, that what is better may be given you. Trouble shall be taken away, that rest may be given. You are yet at sea; she is in port. For the sweetness of truth is eternal, yet in this life it is increased, and in the next it will be made perfect, never to be taken away.

St Ambrose. May you then like Mary be influenced by the desire of wisdom. For this is the greater, this the more perfect work. Nor let the care of ministering to others turn your mind from the knowledge of the heavenly word, nor reprove or think indolent those whom you see seeking after wisdom.

St Augustine. Now mystically, by Martha’s receiving our Lord into her house is represented the Church which now receives the Lord into her heart. Mary her sister, who sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word, signifies the same Church, but in a future life, where ceasing from labour, and the ministering to her wants, she shall delight in Wisdom alone. But by her complaining that her sister did not help her, occasion is given for that sentence of our Lord, in which he shows that Church to be anxious and troubled about much service, when there is but one thing needful, which is yet attained through the merits of her service; but He says that Mary has chosen the good part, for through the one the other is reached, which shall not be taken away.

St Gregory. Or by Mary who sat and heard our Lord’s words, is signified the contemplative life; by Martha engaged in more outward services, the active life. Now Martha’s care is not blamed, but Mary is praised, for great are the rewards of an active life, but those of a contemplative are far better. Hence Mary’s part it is said will never be taken away from her, for the works of an active life pass away with the body, but the joys of the contemplative life the rather begin to increase from the end.

Source: Catena Aurea by St Thomas Aquinas.

St. Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea is a masterpiece anthology of Patristic commentary on the Gospels – it includes the work of over eighty Church Fathers.

St. Thomas Aquinas’ work demonstrates intimate acquaintance with the Church Fathers and is an excellent complement to the more recent attempts to understand the inner meaning of the Sacred Scriptures. For each of the four Gospel writers, the Catena Aurea starts by indicating the verses to be analysed, then phrase-by-phrase, provides the early Fathers’ insights into the passage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conversion of St Mary Magdalen

Posted on 20. Jul, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

 

Jesus ascended the mountain with his disciples, followed by the Pharisees, the Herodians, and the Sadducees, and took the teacher’s chair.

Magdalen had taken her seat among the other women with the self-confident air of a lady of the world, but her manner was assumed. She was inwardly confused and a prey to interior struggle.

At first she gazed around upon the crowd, but when Jesus appeared and began to speak, her eyes and soul were riveted upon Him alone. His exhortations to penance, His lively pictures of vice, His threats of chastisement, affected her powerfully, and unable to suppress her emotions, she trembled and wept beneath her veil.

When Jesus, Himself shedding tears full of loving compassion, cried out for sinners to come to Him, many of His hearers were transported with emotion. There was a movement in the circle and the crowd pressed around Him. Magdalen also , and following her example the other women likewise, took a step nearer.

But when Jesus exclaimed: “Ah! If even one soul would come to Me!” Magdalen was so moved that she wanted to fly to Him at once. She stepped forward; but her companions, fear some disturbance, held her back, whispering: “Wait! Wait!” This movement of Magdalen attracted scarcely any notice among the bystanders, since the attention of all was riveted upon Jesus’ words.

Jesus, aware of Magdalen’s agitation, uttered words of consolation meant only for her. He said: “If even one germ of penance, of contrition, of love, of faith, of hope has, in consequence of My words, fallen upon some poor, erring heart, it will bear fruit, it will be set down in favour of that poor sinner, it will live and increase. I Myself shall nourish it, shall cultivate it, shall present it to My Father.”

These words consoled Magdalen while they pierced her inmost soul, and she stepped again among her companions.

 

The above extract was taken from the book ‘The Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations – From the Visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich 1774 to 1824’, as recorded in the Journals of Clemens Brentano, arranged and edited by Very Reverend Carl E. Schmoger, C.SS.R. Volume Two of Four. TAN Books. ISBN 978-0-89555-788-9

Of the Scapular given to St Simon Stock

Posted on 13. Jul, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

As men esteem it an honour to have persons who wear their livery, so also is our Blessed Lady pleased that her clients should wear her scapular, as a mark that they have dedicated themselves to her service, and that they are members of the household of the Mother of God.

Modern heretics, as usual, ridicule this devotion; but the holy Church has approved it by many bulls and indulgences. Fathers Crasset and Lezzana, speaking of the scapular of Mount Carmel relate, that towards the year 1251, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Simon Stock, an Englishman, and giving him the scapular, said, that all who should wear it would be saved from eternal damnation.

She said, ‘Receive my beloved son, this scapular of thy order, the badge of my confraternity, a privilege granted to thee and to all Carmelites: whoever dies clothed with it will not suffer eternal flames.’

Moreover, Father Casset relates that Mary appeared to Pope John XXII., and commanded him to make it known that all those who should wear this scapular would be delivered from purgatory on the Saturday after their deaths; and this he did by a bull, which was afterwards confirmed by Alexander V., Clement VII., and other Pontiffs.

Paul V., as we have remarked in the first chapter of this work, gives us to understand the same thing, and seems to explain the bulls of his predecessors, and prescribes in his the conditions on which the indulgences may be gained. These conditions are: that each one should observe the chastity required in his state of life, and recitation of the little office of the Blessed Virgin; those who cannot do so must exact in keeping the fast-days prescribed by the Church, and abstain from meat on Wednesdays.

The indulgences, moreover, which are annexed to this scapular of Mount Carmel, as also to those of the Seven Dolores, of our Lady of Mercy, and especially to that of her Immaculate Conception, are innumerable, as well partial as plenary, both in life and for the hour of death. For my own part I have been careful to receive all these scapulars. To that of the Immaculate Conception in particular, very great indulgences have been attached by various sovereign pontiffs.

 

Source. The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri. ISBN: 978-0-89555-021-7

The Glories of Mary by St. Alponsus Ligouri (1696-1787) is one of the greatest Catholic books ever written. Easily understood by all, this famous book is undoubtedly the best composite of teaching about the Blessed Virgin Mary ever penned and is one that will lead many souls to a greater love of Jesus through a more intimate knowledge of Mary and her exalted role in our salvation.

Saint Benedict – Chapter 7 on Humility

Posted on 06. Jul, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

This Tuesday 11th July we celebrate the Feast of Saint Benedict who was born around 480 as a son of Roman noble of Norcia. He founded the famous monastery of Monte Cassino in Italy which became the roots of the Church’s monastic system and after 1500 year’s Benedictine monks still follow his rule even here in Ireland. In 1964 Pope Paul VI declared St Benedict Patron Saint of Europe.

Below is a part of Chapter 7 from the Rule of St Benedict on Humility:

Holy Scripture, brethren, cries out to us, saying,
“Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled,
and he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:11).
In saying this it shows us
that all exaltation is a kind of pride,
against which the Prophet proves himself to be on guard
when he says,
“Lord, my heart is not exalted,
nor are mine eyes lifted up;
neither have I walked in great matters,
nor in wonders above me” (Ps. 130[131]:1)
But how has he acted?
“Rather have I been of humble mind
than exalting myself;
as a weaned child on its mother’s breast,
so You solace my soul” (Ps. 130[131]:2).

Hence, brethren,
if we wish to reach the very highest point of humility
and to arrive speedily at that heavenly exaltation
to which ascent is made through the humility of this present life,
we must
by our ascending actions
erect the ladder Jacob saw in his dream,
on which Angels appeared to him descending and ascending.
By that descent and ascent
we must surely understand nothing else than this,
that we descend by self-exaltation and ascend by humility.
And the ladder thus set up is our life in the world,
which the Lord raises up to heaven if our heart is humbled.
For we call our body and soul the sides of the ladder,
and into these sides our divine vocation has inserted
the different steps of humility and discipline we must climb.

 

Source. Rule of Saint Benedict by Saint Benedict.

Except I See His Hands by St John Chrysostom

Posted on 29. Jun, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

John 20:24-25

“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said, Except I shall see in His hands —I will not believe.”

As to believe carelessly and in a random way, comes of an over-easy temper; so to be beyond measure curious and meddlesome, marks a most gross understanding. On this account Thomas is held to blame. For he believed not the Apostles when they said, “We have seen the Lord”; not so much mistrusting them, as deeming the thing to be impossible, that is to say, the resurrection from the dead. Since he says not, “I do not believe you,” but, “Except I put my hand— I do not believe.” But how was it, that when all were collected together, he alone was absent? Probably after the dispersion which had lately taken place, he had not returned even then. But do thou, when you see the unbelief of the disciple, consider the lovingkindness of the Lord, how for the sake of a single soul He showed Himself with His wounds, and comes in order to save even the one, though he was grosser than the rest; on which account indeed he sought proof from the grossest of the senses, and would not even trust his eyes. For he said not, “Except I see,” but, “Except I handle,” he says, lest what he saw might somehow be an apparition. Yet the disciples who told him these things, were at the time worthy of credit, and so was He that promised; yet, since he desired more, Christ did not deprive him even of this.

And why does He not appear to him straightway, instead of “after eight days”? John 20:26 In order that being in the meantime continually instructed by the disciples, and hearing the same thing, he might be inflamed to more eager desire, and be more ready to believe for the future. But whence knew he that His side had been opened? From having heard it from the disciples. How then did he believe partly, and partly not believe? Because this thing was very strange and wonderful. But observe, I pray you, the truthfulness of the disciples, how they hide no faults, either their own or others’, but record them with great veracity.

Jesus again presents himself to them, and waits not to be requested by Thomas, nor to hear any such thing, but before he had spoken, Himself prevented him, and fulfilled his desire; showing that even when he spoke those words to the disciples, He was present. For He used the same words, and in a manner conveying a sharp rebuke, and instruction for the future. For having said,

John 20:26

“Reach hither your finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither your hand, and thrust it into My side”; He added,

“And be not faithless, but believing.”

Do you see that his doubt proceeded from unbelief? But it was before he had received the Spirit; after that, it was no longer so, but, for the future, they were perfected.

And not in this way only did Jesus rebuke him, but also by what follows; for when he, being fully satisfied, breathed again, and cried aloud,

John 20:28

“My Lord, and my God,” He says,

John 20:29

“Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.”

For this is of faith, to receive things not seen; since, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 And here He pronounces blessed not the disciples only, but those also who after them should believe. “Yet,” says someone, “the disciples saw and believed.” Yes, but they sought nothing of the kind, but from the proof of the napkins, they straightway received the word concerning the Resurrection, and before they saw the body, exhibited all faith. When therefore anyone in the present day say, “I would that I had lived in those times, and had seen Christ working miracles,” let them reflect, that, “Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.”

 

Source. Translated by Charles Marriott. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 14. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1889.)

Sacred Heart Promises to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Posted on 21. Jun, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is this Friday 23rd June 2017. It is a good time to reflect on the apparition of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, where Jesus gives these twelve promises for those who are devoted to His Sacred Heart.

Prayer:

The Twelve Promises of Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary for those devoted to His Sacred Heart:

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their families.
  3. I will console them in all their troubles.
  4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
  5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
  9. I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
  10. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
  11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.
  12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

“Look at this Heart which has loved men so much, and yet men do not want to love Me in return. Through you My divine Heart wishes to spread its love everywhere on earth.”

Corpus Christi by St Peter Julian Eymard

Posted on 14. Jun, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

Haec est dies quam fecit Dominus.
This is the day which the Lord hath made. (Psalm cxvii. 24.)

Every day comes from God. They unfailingly succeed one another through His loving kindness. God allows man six days of the week for his labor and his needs, but the seventh He reserves for Himself. Sunday is therefore more particularly the day of the Lord. But of all the days there is one which is, in a more excellent manner, the day of God and is called the day of God: Fête-Dieu, as the French put it, which, done literally into English, would read God’s Feast Day. That is truly the day which the Lord has made for Himself, for His own glory, and for the manifestation of His love. Corpus Christi! God’s Feast Day! What a beautiful name! God’s Feast Day and ours also! Let us see in what way.

I. This feast day of God, which the Church calls Festum sacratissimi Corporis Christi, “Feast of the most sacred Body of Christ,” is the only day dedicated exclusively to the honor of His adorable Person, of His living presence in our midst.

The other feasts commemorate some mystery of His past life; they are beautiful; they glorify God; and they are a rich source of graces for us. But after all they are only reminders, anniversaries of an already distant past, which relives only in our piety and devotion. Our Savior is no longer personally present in those mysteries; He accomplished them once for all and left only His grace in them. But Corpus Christi is an actual mystery; the object of this feast is our Lord’s Person, living and present in our midst. That is why the celebration of it has a character all its own. No relics or symbols of the past are exposed, but the very object of the feast, which is living. In the countries where God is free, see how all the people proclaim His presence, how they prostrate themselves before Him! The impious themselves tremble and bow the head; God is there! How glorious for our Lord’s presence is this feast, on which all men acknowledge His presence and adore Him!

Corpus Christi is also the most lovable of feast days. We were not present at all the mysteries of our Savior’s life and death which we celebrate in the course of the year. We find joy in them because they are sources of grace. But on the feast of Corpus Christi we participate in the mystery itself, which takes place under our eyes. This mystery is for us.

There is a relation of life between Jesus living in the Sacrament and ourselves living in the midst of the world: a relation of body to body. For that reason this feast is not called simply the feast of our Lord, but the Feast of the Body of our Lord: Corpus Christi. Through this Body we touch Him; through it He is our Food, our Brother and our Guest. Feast of the Body of Jesus Christ: a name as full of love as it is unpretentious and well adapted to our misery! Our Lord asked for this Feast so as to draw still closer to us, just as a father is desirous of being wished a happy birthday by his child in order to have a reason for giving him a more ardent proof of his paternal affection, and or granting him some special favor.

Let this Feast therefore be one of joy, and let us expect from it the most abundant blessings. All the hymns and canticles of this solemnity express the thought that on this day our Lord will show Himself more gracious than ever. The Church, it seems, should have celebrated Corpus Christi on Holy Thursday, since the Eucharist was instituted on that day. But she could not have duly expressed her joy on that day of mourning; the Passion begins in Holy Thursday, and it is impossible to rejoice at the thought of death which predominates during the solemn days of Holy Week.

Corpus Christi
was also postponed until after the Ascension because sad farewells had still to be bidden and a painful separation effected. It was put off until after Pentecost so that, filled with the graces and joys of the Holy Ghost, we might be able to celebrate with all possible splendor the Feast of the Divine Bridegroom Who dwells among us.

II. CORPUS CHRISTI is the most solemn Feast of the Church. The Church is the Bride of our Lord in all His risen glory, not of Jesus Christ at His birth or His death; when these last two mysteries took place the Church was not yet in existence. Of course she follows her Divine Bridegroom to the Crib and accompanies Him in His sufferings, but of these mysteries she has only the remembrance and grace. But Jesus Christ lives with His Church in His Sacrament.

People who have never set foot inside one of her churches think she is widowed. They look upon her as a corpse, and upon her temples as places where only death and suffering are spoken of. But today the very ones who never attend her solemn festivals will see her in all her wealth and beauty, in a natural attractiveness which God, her Bridegroom, will enhance with His presence. What magnificence in the processions as they pass by! What reverence in the faithful as they kneel down!! The Church shows to everyone her Bridegroom in the radiant monstrance. Ah! Who today will presume to say she is widowed? Her friends are in adoration and her enemies tremble. Jesus shows Himself to all men; He gives His blessing to the good; He looks on sinners with compassion; He calls them and draws them to Himself. The Council of Trent calls this Feast the triumph of faith, and rightly so. It is also the triumph of the Church through her Divine Bridegroom.

 

Source. The Divine Eucharist: Meditations suitable for adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. First Series: The Real Presence (from the 9th French ed). By Saint Peter Julian Eymard (New York: Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament, 1906).

St Leo the Great’s Sermon on the Most Holy Trinity

Posted on 06. Jun, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

The Holy Ghost’s work did not begin at Pentecost, but was continued because the Holy Trinity is One in action and in will

Today’s festival, dearly-beloved, which is held in reverence by the whole world, has been hallowed by that advent of the Holy Ghost, which on the fiftieth day after the Lord’s Resurrection, descended on the Apostles and the multitude of believers, even as it was hoped. And there was this hope, because the Lord Jesus had promised that He should come, not then first to be the Indweller of the saints, but to kindle to a greater heat, and to fill with larger abundance the hearts that were dedicated to Him, increasing, not commencing His gifts, not fresh in operation because richer in bounty.

For the Majesty of the Holy Ghost is never separate from the Omnipotence of the Father and the Son, and whatever the Divine government accomplishes in the ordering of all things, proceeds from the Providence of the whole Trinity. Therein exists unity of mercy and loving-kindness, unity of judgment and justice: nor is there any division in action where there is no divergence of will.

What, therefore, the Father enlightens, the Son enlightens, and the Holy Ghost enlightens: and while there is one Person of the Sent, another of the Sender, and another of the Promiser, both the Unity and the Trinity are at the same time revealed to us, so that the Essence which possesses equality and does not admit of solitariness is understood to belong to the same Substance but not the same Person.

Each Person in the Trinity took part in our Redemption

The fact, therefore, that, with the co-operation of the inseparable Godhead still perfect, certain things are performed by the Father, certain by the Son, and certain by the Holy Spirit, in particular belongs to the ordering of our Redemption and the method of our salvation.

For if man, made after the image and likeness of God, had retained the dignity of his own nature, and had not been deceived by the devil’s wiles into transgressing through lust the law laid down for him, the Creator of the world would not have become a Creature, the Eternal would not have entered the sphere of time, nor God the Son, Who is equal with God the Father, have assumed the form of a slave and the likeness of sinful flesh. But because “by the devil’s malice death entered into the world -Wisdom 2:24,” and captive humanity could not otherwise be set free without His undertaking our cause, Who without loss of His majesty should both become true Man, and alone have no taint of sin, the mercy of the Trinity divided for Itself the work of our restoration in such a way that the Father should be appeased, the Son should appease, and the Holy Ghost enkindle.

For it was necessary that those who are to be saved should also do something on their part, and by the turning of their hearts to the Redeemer should quit the dominion of the enemy, even as the Apostle says, “God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father – Galatians 4:6,” “And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty – 2 Corinthians 3:17,” and “no one can call Jesus Lord except in the Holy Spirit – 1 Corinthians 12:3 .”

 

Source. Translated by Charles Lett Feltoe. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 12. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1895.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.

St Alphonsus Ligouri – Visitation of Mary Pt.3

Posted on 29. May, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

To be convinced of the desire that Mary has to be of service to all, we need only to consider the mystery of the present festival, that is, Mary’s visit to Saint Elizabeth. The Blessed Virgin, tender and delicate as she then was, and unaccustomed to such fatigue, did not delay her departure. And what was it that impelled her? It was that great charity with which her most tender heart was filled that drove her, so to say, to go and at once commence her great office of dispenser of graces.

Observe especially, says Saint Bonaventure, in this visit of Mary to Saint Elizabeth, the great power of her words. According to the Evangelist, at the sound of her voice the grace of the Holy Ghost was conferred on Saint Elizabeth, as well as her son Saint John the Baptist: “And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Ghost.”52

On this text Saint Bonaventure says, ‘See how great is the power of the words of our Lady; for no sooner, has she pronounced them, than the Holy Ghost is given.’53

“Let us go, therefore, with confidence to the throne of grace,” says the Apostle, exhorting us, “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid.”58 ‘The throne of grace is the Blessed Virgin Mary,’59 says blessed Albert the Great. If, then, we wish for graces, let us go to the Throne of Grace, which is Mary; and let us go with the certain hope of being heard; for we have Mary’s intercession, and she obtains from her Son all whatever she asks.

And if we credit that celebrated saying of Saint Anselm, ‘that salvation is occasionally more easily obtained by calling on the name of Mary than by invoking that of Jesus;62 we shall sometimes sooner obtain graces by having recourse to Mary than by having directly recourse to our Saviour Jesus Himself; not that He is not the source and Lord of all graces, but because, when we have recourse to the Mother, and she prays for us, her prayers have greater efficacy than ours, as being those of a mother. Let us never leave the feet of this treasurer of graces, but ever address her in the words of Saint John Damascene: ‘O Blessed mother of God, open to us the gate of mercy; for thou art the salvation of the human race.’63

A Most Beautiful Example

In the Franciscan chronicles it is related, that two religious of that order, who were going to visit a sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin, were overtaken by night in a great forest, where they became so bewildered and troubled, that they knew not what to do. But, advancing a little further, dark as it was, they thought they discovered a house. They went towards it, and felt the wall with their hands; they sought the door, knocked, and immediately heard someone within asking who they were. They replied that they were two poor religious, who had lost their way in the forest, and that they begged at least for shelter, that they might not be devoured by the wolves.

In an instant, the doors were thrown open, and two pages richly dressed stood before them, and received them with the greatest courtesy. The religious asked them who resided in that palace. The pages replied that it was a most compassionate Lady. ‘We should be glad to present her our respects, and thank her for her charity.’ ‘She also,’ the pages answered, ‘wishes to see you; and we are now going to conduct you into her presence.’ They ascended the staircase, and found all the apartments illuminated, richly furnished, and scented with an odour of Paradise.

Finally, they entered the apartment of the Lady, who was majestic and most beautiful in her appearance. She received them with the greatest affability, and then asked them where they were going. They answered, that they were going to visit a certain church of the Blessed Virgin, ‘O, since that is the case,’ she replied, ‘I will give you before you go a letter, which will be of great service to you.’ Whilst the Lady was addressing them, they felt their hearts inflamed with the love of God, and an internal joy which they had never before experienced. Then they retired to sleep, if, indeed, they could do so, overcome as they were by the happiness they experienced; and in the morning, they again went to take leave of the Lady and thank her, and also receive the letter, which she gave them, and they then departed.

But when they got a short distance from the house, they perceived that the letter had no direction; they turned about, and sought first on one side, then another, but in vain; they could no longer find the house. Finally, they opened the letter to see for who it was meant, and what it contained; and they found that it was from the most Blessed Virgin Mary, and addressed to themselves. In it she told them that she was the Lady whom they had seen the night before, and that on account of their devotion for her she had provided a lodging and refreshment for them in that wood.

She exhorted them to continue to serve her and to love her, for she always would amply reward their devotion, and would succour them in life and at death. At the foot of the page they read her signature: ‘I, Mary the Virgin’.

Let each one here imagine the gratitude of these good religious, and how they thanked the Divine Mother, and how greatly they were inflamed with the desire to love and serve her for their whole lives.65

 

52. Luc. i. 41.

53. Med. Vit. Christi, cap. v.

58. Heb. Iv. 16.

59. Serm. Liii. De Dedic. Eccl.

62. De Excel. B.M.V. cap. vi.

63. In Annunt.

65. Lyraeus, Tris. Mar. 1. 2. M. 26

 

Source. The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri. ISBN: 978-0-89555-021-7

The Glories of Mary by St. Alponsus Ligouri (1696-1787) is one of the greatest Catholic books ever written. Easily understood by all, this famous book is undoubtedly the best composite of teaching about the Blessed Virgin Mary ever penned and is one that will lead many souls to a greater love of Jesus through a more intimate knowledge of Mary and her exalted role in our salvation.

St Alphonsus Liguori – Visitation of Mary Pt.2

Posted on 22. May, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

Saint Bonaventure, speaking of the field in the gospel, in which a treasure is hidden, and which should be purchased at however great a price, “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in a field, which a man having found hid it, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath and buyeth that field,”17 says that ‘our Queen Mary is this field, in which Jesus Christ , the treasure of God the Father, is hid,’18 and with Jesus Christ the source of and flowing fountain of all graces.

Saint Bernard affirms that our Lord ‘has deposited the plenitude of every grace in Mary, that we may thus know that if we possess hope, grace, or anything salutary, that it is from her that it came.’19 Of this we are also assured by Mary herself, saying, “In me is all grace of the way and of the truth;”20 in me are all the graces of real blessings that you men can desire in life. Yes, sweet Mother and our Hope, we know full well, says Saint Peter Damian, ‘that all the treasures of Divine mercies are in thy hands.’21

Before Saint Peter Damian, Saint Ildephonsus asserted the same thing in even stronger terms, when, speaking to the Blessed Virgin, he said, ‘O Lady, all the graces that God has decreed for men He has determined to grant through thy hands; and therefore to thee has He committed all the measures and ornaments of grace;’22 so that, O Mary, concludes Saint Germanus, no grace is dispensed to anyone otherwise than through thy hands: ‘there is no one saved but by thee; no one who receives a gift from God but through thee.’23

Blessed Albert the Great makes a beautiful paraphrase of the words of the angel addressed to the most Blessed Virgin, “Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God:’24 ‘Fear not, O Mary, for thou hast found, not taken grace, as Lucifer tried to take it; thou hast not lost it as Adam lost it; thou hast not bought it as Simon Magus would have bought it; but though hast found it because thou hast desired and sought it.’25

Though hast found increated grace; that is, God himself become thy Son; and with that grace thou hast found and obtained every created good. Saint Peter Chrysologus confirms this thought, saying, ‘This great Virgin and Mother found grace to restore thereby salvation to all men.’26

And elsewhere he says that Mary found a grace so full that it sufficed to save all: ‘Thou hast found grace, but how great a grace! It was such that it filled thee; and so great was its plenitude, that it could be poured down as a torrent on every creature.’27 So much so indeed, says Richard of Saint Lawrence, ‘that God made the sun, that by its means light might be diffused on the whole earth, so has He made Mary, that by her all Divine mercies may be dispensed to the world.’28

Saint Bernadine adds, that ‘from the time that the Virgin Mother conceived the Divine word in her womb, she obtained a kind of jurisdiction, so to say, over all temporal manifestations of the Holy Ghost; so that no creature can obtain any grace from God that is not dispensed by this tender and compassionate Mother.’29

Hence let us conclude this point in the words of Richard Saint Lawrence, who says, ‘that if we wish to obtain any grace, we must have recourse to Mary, the finder of grace, who cannot but obtain all that she asks for her servants; for she has recovered the Divine grace which was lost, and always finds it.’30 This thought he borrowed from Saint Bernard, who says, ‘Let us seek grace, and seek it by Mary; for that which she seeks she finds, and cannot be frustrated.’31

If we, then, desire graces, we must go to this treasurer and dispenser of graces; for it is the sovereign will of the Giver of every good thing; and we are assured of it by the same Saint Bernard, that all graces should be dispensed by the hands of Mary: ‘for such is His will, who is pleased that we should have all by Mary.’32 All, all; and he who says all excludes nothing.

 

  1. Matt. Xiii. 44.
  2. Spec. M.M.V. lect. Vii.
  3. Serm. De Aquad.
  4. Eccles. Xxiv. 25.
  5. Serm. Ii. In Nat. B.M.V.
  6. In Cor. Virg. Cap. xv.
  7. De Zon. V.
  8. Luc. i. 30.
  9. Bbl. Mar. in Luc.
  10. Serm. Iii. De Annunt.
  11. Serm ii. De Annut.
  12. De Laud. V. 1. Vii. C. 3.
  13. Pro Fest. V.M. s. 5, c.8.
  14. De Laud. V. lib. Ii. Cap. 5.
  15. Serm. De Aquad.
  16. Mariam. – lb.

Source. The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri. ISBN: 978-0-89555-021-7

The Glories of Mary by St. Alponsus Ligouri (1696-1787) is one of the greatest Catholic books ever written. Easily understood by all, this famous book is undoubtedly the best composite of teaching about the Blessed Virgin Mary ever penned and is one that will lead many souls to a greater love of Jesus through a more intimate knowledge of Mary and her exalted role in our salvation.

St Alphonsus Ligouri – Visitation of Mary Pt.1

Posted on 16. May, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

Fortunate does that family consider itself which is visited by a royal personage, both on account of the honour that redounds from such a visit, and the advantages that may be hoped to accrue from it. But still more fortunate should that soul consider itself which is visited by the Queen of the world, the most holy Virgin Mary, who cannot but fill with riches and graces those blessed souls whom she deigns to visit by her favours. The house of Obededom was blessed when visited by the ark of God: “And the Lord blessed his house.”1 But with how much greater blessings are those persons enriched who receive a loving visit from this living ark of God, for such was the Divine Mother!

‘Happy is that house which the Mother of God visits,’2 says Engelgrave. This was abundantly experienced by the house of Saint John the Baptist; for Mary had scarcely entered it when she heaped graces and heavenly benedictions on the whole family; and for this reason the present feast of the Visitation is commonly called that of ‘our Blessed Lady of Graces’. Hence we shall see in the present discourse that the Divine mother is the treasurer of all graces.

We shall divide it into two parts. In the first we shall see that whoever desires graces must have recourse to Mary. In the second, that he who has recourse to Mary should be confident of receiving the graces he desires.

First point – After the blessed Virgin had heard from the archangel Gabriel that her cousin Saint Elizabeth had been six months pregnant, she was internally enlightened by the Holy Ghost to know that the Incarnate word, who had become her son, was pleased then to manifest to the world the riches of his mercy in the first graces that He desired to impart to all that family. Therefore, without interposing any delay, according to Saint Luke, “Mary, rising up,… went into the hill-country with haste.”3 Rising from the quiet of contemplation to which she was always devoted, and quitting her beloved solitude, she immediately set out for the dwelling of Saint Elizabeth; and because “charity beareth all things,”4 and cannot support delay, as Saint Ambrose remarks on this Gospel, ‘the Holy Holy Ghost knows not slow undertakings;’5 without even reflecting on the arduousness of the journey, this tender Virgin, I say, immediately undertook it.

On reaching the house, she salutes her cousin: “And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.”6 Saint Ambrose here remarks that Mary was ‘the first to salute’7 Elizabeth. The visit of Mary, however, had no resemblance with those of worldlings, which, for the greater part, consist in ceremony and outward demonstration, devoid of all sincerity; for it brought with it an accumulation of graces.

The moment she entered that dwelling, on her first salutation, Elizabeth was filled with the holy Ghost; and Saint John was cleansed from original sin, and sanctified; and therefore gave that mark of joy by leaping in his mother’s womb, wishing thereby to manifest the grace that he had received by the means of the Blessed Virgin, as Saint Elizabeth herself declared: “As soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.”8 Thus, as Bernadine de Bustis remarks, in virtue of Mary’s salutation Saint John received the grace of the Divine Spirit which sanctified him: ‘When the Blessed Virgin saluted Elizabeth, the voice of the salutation, entering her ears, descended to the child, and by its virtue he received the Holy Ghost.’9

And now, if all these first-fruits of Redemption passed by Mary as the channel through which grace was communicated to the Baptist, the Holy Ghost to Elizabeth, the gift of prophecy to Zachary, and so many other blessings to the whole house, the first graces which to our knowledge the Eternal Word had granted on earth after His Incarnation, it is quite correct to believe that from thenceforward God made Mary the universal channel, as she is called by Saint Bernard, through which all the other graces which our Lord is pleased to dispense to us should pass.

With reason, then, is this Divine Mother called the treasure, the treasurer, and the dispenser of Divine graces. She is thus called by the venerable Abbot of Celles, ‘the Treasure of God, and the Treasurer of graces;’10 by Saint Peter Damian, ‘the Treasurer of Divine graces;’11 by Blessed Albert the Great, ‘the Treasurer of Jesus Christ;’12 by Saint Bernadine, ‘the Dispenser of graces;’13 by a learned Greek, quoted by Petavius, ‘the Storehouse of all good things.’14 So also by Saint Gregory Thaumatiurgus, who observes that ‘Mary is said to be thus full of grace, for in her all the treasures of grace were hidden.’15

Richard of St Lawrence also says that ‘Mary is a treasure, because God has placed all gifts of graces in her as in a treasury; and from thence he bestows great stipends on his soldiers and labourers.’16 She is a treasury of mercies, whence our Lord enriches his servants.

  1. Paralip. Xiii. 14.
  2. Coel. Panth. In Vis 2.
  3. Luc. i. 39.
  4. 1 Cor. Xiii. 7.
  5. Exp. Evang. Sec. Luc. Lib. Ii. No. 19.
  6. Luc. 1. 40.
  7. Loc. Cu. No. 22.
  8. Luc. 1. 44.
  9. Marial. P. vi. Serm. 1, p. 3.
  10. Contempl. De. B.V.M. in Prol.
  11. Serm. Ii. De .nat. B.V.M.
  12. Thesauraria Jesu Christi.
  13. Serm. De Exalt. B.M.V. art. Ii. Cap. 3.
  14. Tu promtuarium omnium bonorum.
  15. Serm. 1. In Annunt. B.M.V.
  16. De Laud. V. 1. Iv. C. 21.

Source. The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri. ISBN: 978-0-89555-021-7

The Glories of Mary by St. Alponsus Ligouri (1696-1787) is one of the greatest Catholic books ever written. Easily understood by all, this famous book is undoubtedly the best composite of teaching about the Blessed Virgin Mary ever penned and is one that will lead many souls to a greater love of Jesus through a more intimate knowledge of Mary and her exalted role in our salvation.

St Alphonsus Ligouri – Mary obtains us the Pardon of our Sins

Posted on 02. May, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

To understand why the holy Church makes us call Mary our life, we must know, that as the soul gives life to the body, so does Divine grace give life to the soul; for a soul without grace has the name of being alive, but is in truth dead, as it was said of one in the Apocalypse, “Thou hast the name of being alive, and thou art dead.”1

Mary, then, in obtaining this grace for sinners by her intercession, thus restores them to life. See how the Church makes her speak, applying to her the following words of Proverbs: “They that in the morning early watch for me shall find me.”2 They who are diligent in having recourse to me in the morning, that is, as soon as they can, will most certainly find me. In the Septuagint the words “shall, find me” are rendered “shall find grace.” So that to, have recourse to Mary is the same thing as to find the, grace of God. A little further on she says, “He that shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.”3

‘Listen,’ exclaims St Bonaventure on these words, ‘listen, all you who desire the kingdom of God; honour the most Blessed Virgin Mary, and you will find life and eternal salvation.’4

St Bernadine of Siena says, that if God did not destroy man after his first sin, it was on account of His singular love for this holy Virgin, who was destined to be born of this race. And the Saint adds, ‘that he has no doubt but that all the mercies granted by God under the old dispensation were granted only in consideration of this most Blessed Lady.’5

Hence, St Bernard was right in exhorting us ‘to seek for grace, and to seek it by Mary;’6 meaning, that if we have had the misfortune to lose the grace of God, we should seek to recover it, but we should do so by Mary; for though we have lost it, she has found it; and hence the Saint calls her’ the finder of grace.”7 The angel Gabriel expressly declared this for our consolation, when he saluted the Blessed Virgin, saying, “Fear not, Mary, thou hast found grace.’8 But if Mary had never been deprived of grace, how could the archangel say that she had then found it?

A thing may be found by a person who did not previously possess it; but we are told by the same archangel that the Blessed Virgin was always with God, always in grace, nay, full of grace. “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.”9 Since Mary, then, did not find grace for herself, she always being full of it, for whom did she find it? Cardinal Hugo, in his commentary on the above text, replies that she found it for sinners who had lost it. ‘Let sinners, then,’ says this devout writer, ‘who by their crimes have lost grace, address themselves to the Blessed Virgin; for with her they will surely find it; let them humbly salute her, and say with confidence, ‘Lady, that which has been found must be restored to him who has lost it; restore us, therefore, our property which thou hast found.’10

On this subject, Richard of St Lawrence concludes, ‘that if we hope to recover the grace of God, we must go to Mary, who has found it, and finds it always.’11 And as she always was and always will be dear to God, if we have recourse to her, we shall certainly succeed.

  1. Apoc. iii. 1.
  2. Prov. viii. 17.
  3. Prov. viii. 35.
  4. Ps. Xlviii. B.V.
  5. Tom. Iv. Serm. 5, de B.V. c. 2.
  6. Serm. De Aquoed.
  7. De adv. D. Serm. 2.
  8. Luc. i. 30.
  9. Luc. i. 28.
  10. In cap. i. Luc.
  11. De Laud. V. l. ii. c. 5.

Source. The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri. (ISBN: 978-0-89555-021-7)

The Glories of Mary by St. Alponsus Ligouri (1696-1787) is one of the greatest Catholic books ever written. Easily understood by all, this famous book is undoubtedly the best composite of teaching about the Blessed Virgin Mary ever penned and is one that will lead many souls to a greater love of Jesus through a more intimate knowledge of Mary and her exalted role in our salvation.

St Leo the Great, Christ’s Passion is Realised Today

Posted on 24. Apr, 2017 in Featured, NEWS

The Present effect of Christ’s Passion is realised daily by Christians
Sermon by St Leo the Great

All therefore that the Son of God did and taught for the world’s reconciliation, we not only know as a matter of past history, but appreciate in the power of its present effect. It is He Who, born of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, fertilizes His unpolluted Church with the same blessed Spirit, that by the birth of Baptism an innumerable multitude of sons may be born to God, of Whom it is said, “who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn 1:13).”

It is He, in Whom the seed of Abraham is blessed by the adoption of the whole world (Gn 22:18), and the patriarch becomes the father of nations by the birth, through faith not flesh, of the sons of promise. It is He Who, without excluding any nation, makes one flock of holy sheep from every nation under heaven, and daily fulfils what He promised, saying, “Other sheep also I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (Jn 10:16).

For though to the blessed Peter first and foremost He says, “Feed My Sheep” yet the one Lord directs the charge of all the shepherds, and feeds those that come to the rock with such glad and well-watered pastures, that countless sheep are nourished by the richness of His love, and hesitate not to perish for the Shepherd’s sake, even as the good Shepherd Himself was content to lay down His life for His sheep. It is He whose sufferings are shared not only by the martyrs’ glorious courage, but also in the very act of regeneration by the faith of all the new-born.

For the renunciation of the devil and belief in God, the passing from the old state into newness of life, the casting off of the earthly image, and the putting on of the heavenly form— all this is a sort of dying and rising again, whereby he that is received by Christ and receives Christ is not the same after as he was before he came to the font, for the body of the regenerate becomes the flesh of the Crucified.

Source. Translated by Charles Lett Feltoe. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 12. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace.