Thursday, 19th April 2018

Annunciation of Mary by St Alphonsus Ligouri

Posted on 10. Apr, 2018 in Featured, NEWS

Thus, says St. Bernard, this innocent Virgin, although by her virginity she rendered herself dear to God, yet by humility afterwards rendered herself worthy, as much as a creature can render itself worthy, to be made the mother of her Creator. Although she pleased by her virginity, by her humility she conceived: “Etsi placuit ex virginitate, tamen ex humilitate concepit.” And St. Jerome confirms this by saying, that God chose her for his own mother more for her humility, than for all her other sublime virtues. Mary herself expressed this to St. Bridget, by saying to her: How much did I merit such a grace to be made the mother of my Lord, if not because I knew my nothingness, and humiliated myself? And this she declared before in her Canticle, so full of the deepest humility, when she said: “Because he hath regarded the humility of his hand maid . . . He that is mighty hath done great things to me.” Upon which words St. Lawrence Justinian remarks, that the blessed Virgin does not say, he regarded my virginity, my innocence, but only my humility. And by this humility, as St. Francis de Sales remarks, Mary did not intend to praise the virtue of her humility, but wished to proclaim that God had regarded her nothingness, humility, that is, nothingness: “Humilitatem, id est niliilitatem,” and through his pure goodness had willed thus to exalt her.

In a word, St. Augustine says that the humility of Mary was like a ladder, by which our Lord deigned to descend upon earth to become man in her womb. And St. Antoninus confirms this by saying that the humility of the Virgin was her most perfect and the next preparation to become the mother of God. And by this is explained what Isaias predicted: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. The blessed Albertus Magnus remarks, that the divine flower, namely, the only-begotten of God, according to Isaias, would come forth, not from the top or the trunk of the tree of Jesse, but from its root, which precisely denotes the humility of the mother, And, this is more clearly explained by the Abbot of Celles. Observe, says he, that not from the top, but from the root this flower is to spring up. And therefore, our Lord said to his beloved daughter; “Turn away thy eyes from me, for they have made me flee away.” And from whence flee, unless from the bosom of the Father to the womb of Mary? as St. Augustine says. Upon which the learned interpreter Fernandez observes, that the most humble eyes of Mary, with which she always contemplated the divine greatness, never losing sight of her nothingness, did such violence to God herself that they drew him into her bosom. And by this we are to understand, says Francone the Abbot, why the Holy Spirit so much praised the beauty of this his spouse for her eyes, which were like those of a dove: “How beautiful art thou, my love! how, beautiful art thou! thy eyes are like doves eyes;” because Mary, looking on God with the eyes of a simple, humble dove, he was so mucli enamored of her beauty, that with the bands of love she made him a prisoner in her virginal womb; these are the words of the abbot: In what place on the earth could so beautiful a virgin be found, who could allure the King of heaven by her eyes, and by a holy violence lead him captive, bound in the chains of charity? We will conclude this point by remarking that Mary, in the incarnation of the Word, as we have seen from the beginning, could not have humiliated herself more than she did. Let us now see how God could exalt her no higher than he did by making her his mother.

In order to comprehend, the greatness to which Mary was elevated, it would be necessary to comprehend the sublime majesty and grandeur of God. It is sufficient, then, only to say , that God made this Virgin his mother, to have it understood that God could not exalt her more than he did exalt her. Rightly did St. Arnold Carnotensis affirm, that God, by making himself the Son of the Virgin, established her in superior rank to all the saints and angels: ” Maria constituta est, -super oranem Creaturam.” So that, next to God, she is in comparably higher than the celestial spirits, as St. Ephrem asserts: “Nullacomparatione caeteris superis est gloriosior.” St. Andrew of Crete confirms this, saying: God excepted, she is the highest of all: “Excepto Deo, omnibus est altior.” And St. Anselm also says: Oh Lady, there is none equal to thee, because every other, is above or beneath thee; God alone is superior to thee, and all others are inferior. So great, in a word, says St. Bernardine, is the exaltation of this Virgin, that God alone is able to comprehend it.

This removes the surprise expressed by some persons, remarks St. Thomas of Villanova, that the holy Evangelists, who have so fully recorded the praises of a Baptist and a Magdalene, have been so brief in their descriptions of the privileges of Mary; for, says the saint, it was enough to say of her, that from her Jesus was born. What more would you wish the Evangelists to say, continues the saint, of the grandeur of this Virgin? let it be enough for you, that they atest her to be the mother of God. Having recorded in these few words the greatest, and, indeed, the whole of her merits, it was not necessary for them to describe each separately. And why not? because, as St. Anselm answers: To say of Mary this alone, that she was the mother of a God, transcends every glory that can be attributed to her, in thought or word, after God. Peter of Celles adds, remarking on this same thought: By whatever name you may wish to call her, whether queen of heaven, ruler of the angels, or any other title of honor, you will never succeed in honoring her so much as by calling her only the mother of God.

 

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.

Liturgical Calendar Note: The Assumption of Mary is celebrated on the Monday after the second Sunday of Easter this year and not on the 25th March.

 

 

Pope Francis’s Easter Homily 2018

Posted on 04. Apr, 2018 in Featured, NEWS

After listening to the Word of God, to this passage of the Gospel, three things come to me.

First: the announcement. There is an announcement there: the Lord has risen. That announcement that from the earliest times of the Christians went from mouth to mouth; it was the greeting: the Lord has risen. And the women, who went to anoint in the Lord’s body, found themselves in a surprise. Surprise … God’s announcements are always surprises, because our God is the God of surprises. It is so from the beginning of the history of salvation, from our father Abraham, God surprises you: “But go, go, leave, leave your land and go”. And there is always a surprise after another. God can not make an announcement without surprising us. And the surprise is what moves your heart, which touches you right there, where you do not expect it. To say it a little with the language of the young: surprise is a low blow; you do not expect it. And He goes and moves you. First: the announcement made a surprise.

Second: the rush. Women run, hurry to say: “But, we found this!”. The surprises of God set us on the road, immediately, without waiting. And so they run to see. And Peter and John run. The shepherds, that Christmas night, run: “Let’s go to Bethlehem to see what the angels told us”. And the Samaritan woman runs to tell her people: “This is new: I found a man who told me everything I did”. And people knew the things this had done. And those people, run, leave what he is doing, even the housewife leaves the potatoes in the pot – she will find them burned – but the important thing is to go, run, to see that surprise, that announcement. Even today it happens. In our neighborhoods, in villages when something extraordinary happens, people run to see. Go in a hurry. Andrew, did not waste time and in a hurry he went to Peter to tell him: “We found the Messiah”. The surprises, the good news, are always like that: in a hurry. In the Gospel there is one that takes some time; he does not want to risk it. But the Lord is good, waiting for him with love, it is Thomas. “I will believe when I see the wounds,” he says. Even the Lord has patience for those who do not go so fast.

The announcement-surprise, the response in a hurry and the third that I would like to tell you today is a question: “And me? My heart is open to the surprises of God, I am able to go in a hurry or always with that chant: “But, tomorrow will I see, tomorrow, tomorrow?”. What’s the surprise to me? Giovanni and Pietro ran to the tomb. And John tells us: “Believe”. Even Peter: “Believe”, but in his own way, with faith a little mixed with the remorse of having denied the Lord. The announcement made of a surprise, go in a hurry, and the question: “And I, today, in this Easter 2018, what am I doing? What do you do?

Source: www.vatican.va

Easter Ceremonies 2018

Posted on 27. Mar, 2018 in Featured, NEWS

St Alphonsus Ligouri – Lent, Happiness Deriving From Perfect Uniformity

Posted on 21. Mar, 2018 in Featured, NEWS

Acting according to this pattern, one not only becomes holy but also enjoys perpetual serenity in this life. Alphonsus the Great, King of Aragon, being asked one day whom he considered the happiest person in the world, answered: “He who abandons himself to the will of God and accepts all things, prosperous and adverse, as coming from his hands[32].’’ “To those that love God, all things work together unto good[33].” Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfill, even in adversity, the will of God. Afflictions do not mar their serenity, because by accepting misfortune, they know they give pleasure to their beloved Lord: “Whatever shall befall the just man, it shall not make him sad[34].” Indeed, what can be more satisfactory to a person than to experience the fulfillment of all his desires? This is the happy lot of the man who wills only what God wills, because everything that happens, save sin, happens through the will of God.

There is a story to this effect in the “Lives of the Fathers” about a farmer whose crops were more plentiful than those of his neighbors. On being asked how this happened with such unvarying regularity, he said he was not surprised because he always had the kind of weather he wanted. He was asked to explain. He said: “It is so because I want whatever kind of weather God wants, and because I do, he gives me the harvests I want[35].’’ If souls resigned to God’s will are humiliated, says Salvian[36], they want to be humiliated; if they are poor, they want to be poor; in short, whatever happens is acceptable to them, hence they are truly at peace in this life. In cold and heat, in rain and wind, the soul united to God says: “I want it to be warm, to be cold, windy, to rain, because God wills it.”

This is the beautiful freedom of the sons of God, and it is worth vastly more than all the rank and distinction of blood and birth, more than all the kingdoms in the world. This is the abiding peace which, in the experience of the saints, “surpasseth all understanding[37].’’ It surpasses all pleasures rising from gratification of the senses, from social gatherings, banquets and other worldly amusements; vain and deceiving as they are, they captivate the senses for the time being, but bring no lasting contentment; rather they afflict man in the depth of his soul where alone true peace can reside.

Solomon, who tasted to satiety all the pleasures of the world and found them bitter, voiced his disillusionment thus: “But this also is vanity and vexation of spirit[38].” “A fool,” says the Holy Spirit, “is changed as the moon; but a holy man continueth in wisdom as the sun[39].” The fool, that is, the sinner, is as changeable as the moon, which today waxes and tomorrow wanes; today he laughs, tomorrow he cries; today he is meek as a lamb, tomorrow cross as a bear. Why? Because his peace of mind depends on the prosperity or the adversity he meets; he changes with the changes in the things that happen to him. The just man is like the sun, constant in his serenity, no matter what betides him. His calmness of soul is founded on his union with the will of God; hence he enjoys unruffled peace. This is the peace promised by the angel of the Nativity: “And on earth, peace to men of good will[40].” Who are these “men of good will” if not those whose wills are united to the infinitely good and perfect will of God? “The good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God[41].”

By uniting themselves to the divine will, the saints have enjoyed paradise by anticipation in this life. Accustoming themselves to receive all things from the hands of God, says St. Dorotheus[42], the men of old maintained continual serenity of soul. St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi derived such consolation at hearing the words “will of God,” that she usually fell into an ecstasy of love[43]. The instances of jangling irritation that are bound to arise will not fail to make surface impact on the senses. This however will be experienced only in the inferior part of the soul; in the superior part will reign peace and tranquillity as long as our will remains united with God’s. Our Lord assured his apostles: “Your joy no man shall take from you . . . Your joy shall be full[44].” He who unites his will to God’s experiences a full and lasting joy: full, because he has what he wants, as was explained above; lasting, because no one can take his joy from him, since no one can prevent what God wills from happening.

The devout Father John Tauler[45]relates this personal experience: For years he had prayed God to send him someone who would teach him the real spiritual life. One day, at prayer, he heard a voice saying: “Go to such and such a church and you will have the answer to your prayers.” He went and at the door of the church he found a beggar, barefooted and in rags. He greeted the mendicant saying: “Good day, my friend.”

“Thank you, sir, for your kind wishes, but I do not recall ever having had a ‘bad’ day.”

“Then God has certainly given you a very happy life.”

“That is very true, sir. I have never been unhappy. In saying this I am not making any rash statement either. This is the reason: When I have nothing to eat, I give thanks to God; when it rains or snows, I bless God’s providence; when someone insults me, drives me away, or otherwise mistreats me, I give glory to God. I said I’ve never had an unhappy day, and it’s the truth, because I am accustomed to will unreservedly what God wills. Whatever happens to me, sweet or bitter, I gladly receive from his hands as what is best for me. Hence my unvarying happiness.”

“Where did you find God?”

“I found him where I left creatures.”

“Who are you anyway?”

“I am a king.”

“And where is your kingdom?”

“In my soul, where everything is in good order; where the passions obey reason, and reason obeys God.”

“How have you come to such a state of perfection?”

“By silence. I practice silence towards men, while I cultivate the habit of speaking with God. Conversing with God is the way I found and maintain my peace of soul.”

Union with God brought this poor beggar to the very heights of perfection. In his poverty he was richer than the mightiest monarch; in his sufferings, he was vastly happier than worldlings amid their worldly delights.

Source: Uniformity with God’s Will, chapter ‘Happiness Deriving From Perfect Uniformity” by St Alphonsus Ligouri.
ISBN:   9780895550194 Publisher: Saint Benedict Press, LLC TAN Books.

St Louis de Montfort – Means of Perfection

Posted on 09. Mar, 2018 in Featured, NEWS

The saints always made Our Lord’s life the principal object of their study; they meditated on His virtues and sufferings and in this way they arrived at Christian perfection.

Once Saint Bernard began this meditation he always continued it.

“At the very beginning of my conversion,” he said, “I made a bouquet of myrrh made up of the sorrows of my Saviour. I placed this bouquet upon my heart, thinking of the stripes, the thorns and the nails of His passion. I used all my mental strength to meditate on these mysteries every day.”

This was a practice of the Holy Martyrs too; we know how admirably they triumphed over the most cruel sufferings. Saint Bernard says that the Martyrs’ wonderful constancy could have only sprung from one source: their constant meditation on the wounds of Jesus Christ. The Martyrs were Christ’s athletes, His champions; while their blood gushed forth and their bodies were wracked with cruel torments, their generous souls were hidden in the wounds of Our Lord. These wounds made them invincible.

During her whole life the Blessed Mother’s chief concern was meditation on the virtues and sufferings of her Son. When she heard the Angels sing their hymns of joy at His birth and when she saw the shepherds adore Him in the stable, her heart and mind were filled with wonder and she meditated upon all these marvels.

She compared the greatness of the Word Incarnate to His deep humility and the way He lowered Himself; she thought of Him in His manger filled with straw and then on His Throne in Heaven and in the bosom of His Eternal Father. She compared the might of God to the weakness of a Baby—and His wisdom to His simplicity.

One day Our Lady said to Saint Bridget: “Whenever I meditated on the beauty, modesty and wisdom of my Son, my heart was filled with joy: and whenever I thought of His hands and feet which would be pierced with cruel nails, I wept bitterly and my heart was rent with sorrow and pain.”

After Our Lord’s ascension Our Blessed Lady spent the rest of her life in visiting the places that had been hallowed by His presence and sufferings. When she was in those places she used to meditate upon His boundless love and upon His terrible passion.

Saint Mary Magdalene did nothing other than religious exercises of this kind during the last thirty years of her life when she lived in the prayerful seclusion of Sainte Baume.

Saint Jerome says that devotion to the Holy Places was widespread among the faithful in the early centuries of the Church. They came to the Holy Land from all corners of Christendom so as to impress a great love and remembrance of their Saviour more deeply upon their hearts by seeing the places and things He had made holy by His birth, by His work, by His sufferings and by His death.

All Christians have but one Faith and adore one and the same God, all hoping for the same happiness in Heaven. They have one Mediator Who is Jesus Christ and therefore they must all imitate their Divine Model and in order to do this they must meditate on the mysteries of His life, His virtues and of His glory.

It is a great mistake to think that only priests and religious and those who have withdrawn from the turmoil of the world are supposed to meditate upon the truths of our Faith and the mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ. If priests and religious have an obligation to meditate on the great truths of our holy religion in order to live up to their vocation worthily, the same obligation, then, is just as much incumbent upon the laity—because of the fact that every day they meet with spiritual dangers which might make them lose their souls. Therefore they should arm themselves with the frequent meditation on the life, virtues and sufferings of Our Blessed Lord—which are so beautifully contained in the fifteen mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

 

Source: The Secret of the Rosary by St Louis de Montfort
ISBN:   9780895550569 Publisher:  Saint Benedict Press, LLC TAN Books.

 

 

St Francis de Sales – Lent, How to Resist Minor Temptations

Posted on 27. Feb, 2018 in Featured, NEWS

WHILE it is right to resist great temptations with invincible courage, and all such victories will be most valuable, still there is perhaps more absolute profit to our souls in resisting little ones. For although the greater temptations exceed in power, there are so infinitely more in number of little temptations, that a victory over them is fully as important as over the greater but rarer ones. No one will question but that wolves and bears are more dangerous than flies, but they do not worry and annoy us, or try our patience as these do. While is not a hard thing to abstain from murder, but it is very difficult to avoid all passing fits of anger, which assail us at every moment. A man or woman can easily keep from adultery, but it is less easy to abstain from all words and glances which are disloyal. While is easy to keep from stealing another man’s goods, but often difficult to resist coveting them; easy to avoid bearing false witness in direct judgment, difficult to be perfectly truthful in conversation; easy to refrain from getting drunk, difficult to be absolutely sober; easy not to wish for a neighbour’s death, difficult not to wish anything contrary to his interests; easy to keep from slander, difficult to avoid all contempt.

In short, all these minor temptations to anger, suspicion, jealousy, envy, levity, vanity, duplicity, affectation, foolish thoughts, and the like, are a perpetual trial even to those who are most devout and most resolute; and therefore, my daughter, we ought carefully and diligently to prepare for this warfare. Be assured that every victory won over these little foes is as a precious stone in the crown of glory which God prepares for us in Paradise. So, while awaiting and making ready for a steadfast and brave resistance to great temptations should they come, let us not fail diligently to fight against these meaner, weaker foes.

Source: An Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis de Sales
ISBN:   9780895552280 Publisher: Saint Benedict Press, LLC TAN Books.

St Francis de Sales – Lent, Morning Prayer

Posted on 15. Feb, 2018 in Featured, NEWS

BESIDES your systematic meditation and your other vocal prayers, there are five shorter kinds of prayer, which are as aids and assistants to the great devotion, and foremost among these is your morning prayer, as a general preparation for all the day’s work. It should be made in this wise.

1. Thank God, and adore Him for His Grace which has kept you safely through the night, and if in anything you have offended against Him, ask forgiveness.

2. Call to mind that the day now beginning is given you in order that you may work for Eternity, and make a steadfast resolution to use this day for that end.

3. Consider beforehand what occupations, duties and occasions are likely this day to enable you to serve God; what temptations to offend Him, either by vanity, anger, etc., may arise; and make a fervent resolution to use all means of serving Him and confirming your own piety; as also to avoid and resist whatever might hinder your salvation and God’s Glory. Nor is it enough to make such a resolution, you must also prepare to carry it into effect. Thus, if you foresee having to meet someone who is hot-tempered and irritable, you must not merely resolve to guard your own temper, but you must consider by what gentle words to conciliate him. If you know you will see some sick person, consider how best to minister comfort to him, and so on.

4. Next, humble yourself before God, confessing that of yourself you could carry out nothing that you have planned, either in avoiding evil or seeking good. Then, so to say, take your heart in your hands, and offer it and all your good intentions to God’s Gracious Majesty, entreating Him to accept them, and strengthen you in His Service, which you may do in some such words as these: “Lord, I lay before Thee my weak heart, which Thou dost fill with good desires. Thou knowest that I am unable to bring the same to good effect, unless Thou dost bless and prosper them, and therefore, O Loving Father, I entreat of Thee to help me by the Merits and Passion of Thy Dear Son, to Whose Honour I would devote this day and my whole life.”

All these acts should be made briefly and heartily, before you leave your room if possible, so that all the coming work of the day may be prospered with God’s blessing; but anyhow, my daughter, I entreat you never to omit them.

Source: An Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis de Sales
ISBN:   9780895552280 Publisher: Saint Benedict Press, LLC TAN Books

St Albert the Great on How the Heart Should Gather Within Itself

Posted on 09. Feb, 2018 in Featured, NEWS

What is more, as is said in the book On the Spirit and the Soul (of St. Augustine), to ascend to God means to enter into oneself. He who entering within and penetrating his inmost nature, goes beyond himself, he is truly ascending to God. So, let us withdraw our hearts from the distractions of this world, and recall them to the inner joys, so that we can establish them to some degree in the light of divine contemplation.

For this is the life and peace of our hearts – to be established by intent in the love of God, and to be sweetly remade by his comforting. But the reason why we are in so many ways hindered in the practical enjoyment of this matter and are unable to get into it is clearly because the human mind is so distracted by worries that it cannot bring its memory to turn within, is so clouded by its imaginations that it cannot return to itself with its understanding, and is so drawn away by its desires that it is quite unable to come back to itself by desire for inner sweetness and spiritual joy.

Thus, it is so prostrate among the sense objects presented to it that it cannot enter into itself as the image of God. It is therefore right and necessary for the mind to raise itself above itself and everything created by the abandonment of everything, with humble reverence and great trust, and to say within itself, He whom I seek, love, thirst for and desire from everything and more than anything is not a thing of the senses or the imagination, but is above everything that can be experienced by the senses and the intellect.

He cannot be experienced by any of the senses, but is completely desirable to my will. He is moreover not discernable, but is perfectly desirable to my inner affections. He cannot be comprehended, but can be loved in his fullness with a pure heart, for he is above all lovable and desirable, and of infinite goodness and perfection. And then a darkness comes over the mind and it is raised up into itself and penetrates even deeper. And the more inward-looking the desire for it, the more powerful this means of ascent to the mysterious contemplation of the holy Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity in Jesus Christ is, and the more interior the yearning, the more productive it is. Certainly in matters spiritual the more inward they are the greater they are as spiritual experiences.

For this reason, never give up, never stop until you have tasted some pledge, as I might say, or foretaste of the future full experience, and until you have obtained the satisfaction of however small a first fruits of the divine joy.

Source: On Cleaving to God by Saint Albert the Great.

 

Uniformity With God’s Will Part ll by St Alphonsus Ligouri

Posted on 02. Feb, 2018 in Featured, NEWS

The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God’s will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God. St. John of Avila used to say: “One ‘Blessed be God’ in times of adversity, is worth more than a thousand acts of gratitude in times of prosperity[20].”

Furthermore, we must unite ourselves to God’s will not only in things that come to us directly from his hands, such as sickness, desolation, poverty, death of relatives, but likewise in those we suffer from man — for example, contempt, injustice, loss of reputation, loss of temporal goods and all kinds of persecution. On these occasions we must remember that whilst God does not will the sin, he does will our humiliation, our poverty, or our mortification, as the case may be. It is certain and of faith, that whatever happens, happens by the will of God: “I am the Lord forming the light and creating the darkness, making peace and creating evil[21].” From God come all things, good as well as evil. We call adversities evil; actually they are good and meritorious, when we receive them as coming from God’s hands: “Shall there be evil in a city which the Lord hath not done[22]?” “Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches are from God[23].”

It is true, when one offends us unjustly, God does not will his sin, nor does he concur in the sinner’s bad will; but God does, in a general way, concur in the material action by which such a one strikes us, robs us or does us an injury, so that God certainly wills the offense we suffer and it comes to us from his hands. Thus the Lord told David he would be the author of those things he would suffer at the hands of Absalom: “I will raise up evils against thee out of thy own house, and I will take thy wives before thy face and give them to thy neighbor[24].” Hence too God told the Jews that in punishment for their sins, he would send the Assyrians to plunder them and spread destruction among them: “The Assyrian is the rod and staff of my anger . . . I will send him to take away the spoils[25].” “Assyrian wickedness served as God’s scourge for the Hebrews[26]‘‘ is St. Augustine’s comment on this text. And our Lord himself told St. Peter that his sacred passion came not so much from man as from his Father: “The chalice which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it[27]?”

When the messenger came to announce to Job that the Sabeans had plundered his goods and slain his children, he said: “The Lord gave and the Lord taketh away[28].” He did not say: “The Lord hath given me my children and my possessions, and the Sabeans have taken them away.” He realized that adversity had come upon him by the will of God. Therefore he added: “As it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done. Blessed be the name of the Lord[29].” We must not therefore consider the afflictions that come upon us as happening by chance or solely from the malice of men; we should be convinced that what happens, happens by the will of God. Apropos of this it is related that two martyrs, Epictetus and Atho, being put to the torture by having their bodies raked with iron hooks and burnt with flaming torches, kept repeating: “Work thy will upon us, O Lord.” Arrived at the place of execution, they exclaimed: “Eternal God, be thou blessed in that thy will has been entirely accomplished in us[30].’’

Cesarius points up what we have been saying by offering this incident in the life of a certain monk: Externally his religious observance was the same as that of the other monks, but he had attained such sanctity that the mere touch of his garments healed the sick. Marveling at these deeds, since his life was no more exemplary than the lives of the other monks, the superior asked him one day what was the cause of these miracles.

He replied that he too was mystified and was at a loss how to account for such happenings. “What devotions do you practice?” asked the abbot. He answered that there was little or nothing special that he did beyond making a great deal of willing only what God willed, and that God had given him the grace of abandoning his will totally to the will of God.

“No, Father,” came the reply. “On the contrary, I returned thanks to God — as is my custom in such circumstances — fully persuaded that God does all things, or permits all that happens, for his glory and for our greater good; thus I am always at peace, no matter what happens.” Seeing such uniformity with the will of God, the abbot no longer wondered why the monk worked so many miracles[31].

[20]St. John Avil. Letters 41.
[21]Isaias 45:6, 7.
[22]Amos, 3:6.
[23]Eccli. 11:14.
[24]2 Kings, 12:11.
[25]Isaias, 10:5, 6.
[26]St. Aug. in Ps. 73.
[27]St. John, 18:11.
[28]Job. 1:21.
[29]Ibid.
[30]ML (Vitae Patrum) 73-402, etc.
[31]Caesarius: Dial. distin. 10: cap. 9.

Source: Uniformity with God’s Will, chapter ‘Uniformity in all Things” by St Alphonsus Ligouri.
ISBN:   9780895550194 Publisher: Saint Benedict Press, LLC TAN Books.

The Necessity of Prayer by St Francis de Sales

Posted on 19. Jan, 2018 in Featured, NEWS

  1. PRAYER opens the understanding to the brightness of Divine Light, and the will to the warmth of Heavenly Love–nothing can so effectually purify the mind from its many ignorances, or the will from its perverse affections. It is as a healing water which causes the roots of our good desires to send forth fresh shoots, which washes away the soul’s imperfections, and allays the thirst of passion.

    2. But especially I commend earnest mental prayer to you, more particularly such as bears upon the Life and Passion of our Lord. If you contemplate Him frequently in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with Him, you will grow in His Likeness, and your actions will be moulded on His. He is the Light of the world; therefore in Him, by Him, and for Him we shall be enlightened and illuminated; He is the Tree of Life, beneath the shadow of which we must find rest;–He is the Living Fountain of Jacob’s well, wherein we may wash away every stain. Children learn to speak by hearing their mother talk, and stammering forth their childish sounds in imitation; and so if we cleave to the Savior in meditation, listening to His words, watching His actions and intentions, we shall learn in time, through His Grace, to speak, act and will like Himself. Believe me, my daughter, there is no way to God save through this door. Just as the glass of a mirror would give no reflection save for the metal behind it, so neither could we here below contemplate the Godhead, were it not united to the Sacred Humanity of our Saviour, Whose Life and Death are the best, sweetest and most profitable subjects that we can possibly select for meditation. It is not without meaning that the Saviour calls Himself the Bread come down from Heaven;–just as we eat bread with all manner of other food, so we need to meditate and feed upon our Dear Lord in every prayer and action. His Life has been meditated and written about by various authors. I should specially commend to you the writings of S. Bonaventura, Bellintani, Bruno, Capilla, Grenada and Da Ponte. 1

    3. Give an hour every day to meditation before dinner;–if you can, let it be early in the morning, when your mind will be less cumbered, and fresh after the night’s rest. Do not spend more than an hour thus, unless specially advised to do so by your spiritual father.

    4. If you can make your meditation quietly in church, it will be well, and no one, father or mother, husband or wife, can object to an hour spent there, and very probably you could not secure a time so free from interruption at home.

    5. Begin all prayer, whether mental or vocal, by an act of the Presence of God. If you observe this rule strictly, you will soon see how useful it is.

    6. It may help you to say the Creed, Lord’s Prayer, etc., in Latin, but you should also study them diligently in your own language, so as thoroughly to gather up the meaning of these holy words, which must be used fixing your thoughts steadily on their purport, not striving to say many words so much as seeking to say a few with your whole heart. One Our Father said devoutly is worth more than many prayers hurried over.

    7. The Rosary is a useful devotion when rightly used, and there are various little books to teach this. It is well, too, to say pious Litanies, and the other vocal prayers appointed for the Hours and found in Manuals of devotion, but if you have a gift for mental prayer, let that always take the chief place, so that if, having made that, you are hindered by business or any other cause from saying your wonted vocal prayers, do not be disturbed, but rest satisfied with saying the Lord’s Prayer, the Angelic Salutation, and the Creed after your meditation.

    8. If, while saying vocal prayers, your heart feels drawn to mental prayer, do not resist it, but calmly let your mind fall into that channel, without troubling because you have not finished your appointed vocal prayers. The mental prayer you have substituted for them is more acceptable to God, and more profitable to your soul. I should make an exception of the Church’s Offices, if you are bound to say those by your vocation–in such a case these are your duty.

    9. If it should happen that your morning goes by without the usual meditation, either owing to a pressure of business, or from any other cause, (which interruptions you should try to prevent as far as possible,) try to repair the loss in the afternoon, but not immediately after a meal, or you will perhaps be drowsy, which is bad both for your meditation and your health. But if you are unable all day to make up for the omission, you must remedy it as far as may be by ejaculatory prayer, and by reading some spiritual book, together with an act of penitence for the neglect, together with a steadfast resolution to do better the next day.

Source: An Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis de Sales
ISBN:   9780895552280 Publisher: Saint Benedict Press, LLC TAN Books.

Uniformity with God’s Will by Alphonsus Ligouri

Posted on 12. Jan, 2018 in Featured, NEWS

Perfection is founded entirely on the love of God: “Charity is the bond of perfection [2];” and perfect love of God means the complete union of our will with God’s: “The principal effect of love is so to unite the wills of those who love each other as to make them will the same things [3].” It follows then, that the more one unites his will with the divine will, the greater will be his love of God. Mortification, meditation, receiving Holy Communion, acts of fraternal charity are all certainly pleasing to God — but only when they are in accordance with his will. When they do not accord with God’s will, he not only finds no pleasure in them, but he even rejects them utterly and punishes them.

To illustrate: — A man has two servants. One works unremittingly all day long — but according to his own devices; the other, conceivably, works less, but he does do what he is told. This latter of course is going to find favor in the eyes of his master; the other will not. Now, in applying this example, we may ask: Why should we perform actions for God’s glory if they are not going to be acceptable to him? God does not want sacrifices, the prophet Samuel told King Saul, but he does want obedience to his will: “Doth the Lord desire holocausts and victims, and not rather that the voice of the Lord should be obeyed? For obedience is better than sacrifices; and to hearken, rather than to offer the fat of rams. Because it is like the sin of witchcraft to rebel; and like the crime of idolatry to refuse to obey [4].” The man who follows his own will independently of God’s, is guilty of a kind of idolatry. Instead of adoring God’s will, he, in a certain sense, adores his own.

The greatest glory we can give to God is to do his will in everything. Our Redeemer came on earth to glorify his heavenly Father and to teach us by his example how to do the same. St. Paul represents him saying to his eternal Father: “Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not: But a body thou hast fitted to me . . . Then said I: Behold I come to do thy will, O God [5].” Thou hast refused the victims offered thee by man; thou dost will that I sacrifice my body to thee. Behold me ready to do thy will.

Our Lord frequently declared that he had come on earth not to do his own will, but solely that of his Father: “I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me [6].” He spoke in the same strain in the garden when he went forth to meet his enemies who had come to seize him and to lead him to death: “But that the world may know that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I; arise and let us go hence [7].” Furthermore, he said he would recognize as his brother, him who would do his will: “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother [8].”

To do God’s will — this was the goal upon which the saints constantly fixed their gaze. They were fully persuaded that in this consists the entire perfection of the soul. Blessed Henry Suso used to say: “It is not God’s will that we should abound in spiritual delights, but that in all things we should submit to his holy will [9].’’ “Those who give themselves to prayer,” says St. Teresa, “should concentrate solely on this: the conformity of their wills with the divine will. They should be convinced that this constitutes their highest perfection. The more fully they practice this, the greater the gifts they will receive from God, and the greater the progress they will make in the interior life.” A certain Dominican nun was vouchsafed a vision of heaven one day. She recognized there some persons she had known during their mortal life on earth. It was told her these souls were raised to the sublime heights of the seraphs on account of the uniformity of their wills with that of God’s during their lifetime here on earth. Blessed Henry Suso, mentioned above, said of himself: “I would rather be the vilest worm on earth by God’s will, than be a seraph by my own [11].’’

[2]Col. 3:14.
[3]St. Denis Areop. De Div. Nom. c. 4.
[4]1 Kings, 15:22, 23.
[5]Hab. 10:5-7.
[6]John 6:38.
[7]John 14:31.
[8]Matt. 12:50.
[9]Bl.H. Suso L 2, c. 4.
[10]St. Teresa, Obras 4:27, 28.
[11]Suso, Serm. 2. (Opera Colon Agrip.)

Source: Uniformity with God’s Will, chapter ‘Excellence of this Virtue’ by St Alphonsus Ligouri. ISBN:   9780895550194 Publisher: Saint Benedict Press, LLC TAN Books.

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