Wednesday, 23rd May 2018

St Philip Neri a Saint for Pentecost

Posted on 17. May, 2018 in Featured, NEWS

When we think of Pentecost we always rightly think of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles in the Cenacle when the Holy Spirit descended upon them nine days after Our Lord’s ascension.

But an interesting saint to further remind us of the power of the Holy Spirit is Saint Philip Neri. He was a Christian missionary and founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, a community of Catholic priests and lay brothers and he is famously referred to as ‘The Apostle of Rome’.

He was born in Florence on July 21, 1515 and died in Rome on 27 May 1595. From a very young age, Philip was known for being cheerful and obedient. He was affectionately referred to as “good little Phil.” He received his early teachings from friars at the Dominican monastery in Florence, San Marco.

But it’s also hard to think of Saint Philip Neri without also thinking about the Holy Spirit. For Saint Philip Neri’s body and soul bore the marks of his extraordinary encounter with the Holy Spirit. In 1544, on the eve of Pentecost, here is how one of his biographers, Father Bacci, describes it:

While he was with the greatest earnestness asking of the Holy Ghost His gifts, there appeared to him a globe of fire, which entered into his mouth and lodged in his breast; and thereupon he was suddenly surprised with such a fire of love, that, unable to bear it, he threw himself on the ground, and, like one trying to cool himself, bared his breast to temper in some measure the flame which he felt. When he had remained so for some time, and was a little recovered, he rose up full of unwonted joy, and immediately all his body began to shake with a violent tremor; and putting his hand to his bosom, he felt by the side of his heart, a swelling about as big as a man’s fist, but neither then nor afterwards was it attended with the slightest pain or wound.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, after his death (sometime later) an autopsy found that two ribs had been broken and curved outward to accommodate his enlarged heart, which “had been dilated under the sudden impulse of love.”

Rosary Service

Posted on 16. May, 2018 in Faith, NEWS, Parish News

Rosary Service

Holy Trinity Church, Cookstown

23rd May at 7.00 pm

        

Prayer, scripture and music to honour Our Lady.

Led by the pupils of Holy Trinity College in support of their

pilgrimage to Medjugorje in September.

All welcome.

St Anthony of Padua Novena 2018

Posted on 10. May, 2018 in Featured, NEWS

This year there will be a Novena to St Anthony of Padua from Tuesday 5th June 2018 to Wednesday 13th June 2018 (the feast day of St Anthony of Padua).

From the 5th June to 10th June the Novena will continue at each 10am Mass.

On the 11th, 12th and 13th June there will be the Tridium of St Anthony of Padua at the 10am Mass and at 7pm in the evening.

Holy Trinity Primary- First Holy Communion

Posted on 04. May, 2018 in Faith, NEWS, Parish News

      

  Holy Trinity Primary  

   19th May at 10 am

 

The annual Armagh Diocesan Pilgrimage to Knock Shrine

Posted on 04. May, 2018 in Faith, NEWS, Parish News

Sunday 27th May.

Total cost, for bus, breakfast and evening meal is £35.00.

Book by 22nd May.

Tel: Eamon Harvey 8676 3865 or Dympna Corey 8676 2696.

Bus Pick-ups: Ulster Bank 7.15 am, Bank of Ireland 7.20 am, Chapel gate 7.25 am.

St Louis de Montfort – Salutary Effects of the Rosary

Posted on 03. May, 2018 in Featured, NEWS

SAINT AUGUSTINE says quite emphatically that there is no spiritual exercise more fruitful or more useful to our salvation than continually turning our thoughts to the sufferings of Our Saviour.

Blessed Albert the Great who had Saint Thomas Aquinas as his disciple learned in a revelation that by simply thinking of or meditating on the passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a Christian gains more merit than if he had fasted on bread and water every Friday for a whole year, or had beaten himself with his discipline once a week until the blood flowed, or had recited the whole Book of Psalms every day. If this is so, then how great must be the merit that we can gain by the Holy Rosary which commemorates the whole life and passion of Our Saviour!

One day Our Lady revealed to Blessed Alan that, after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is the most important as well as the living memorial of Our Blessed Lord’s passion there could not possibly be a finer devotion or one of greater merit than that of the Holy Rosary, which is like a second memorial and representation of the life and passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Father Dorland says that in 1481 Our Lady appeared to Venerable Dominic, the Carthusian, who lived at Treves, and said to him: “Whenever one of the faithful who is in a state of grace says the Rosary while meditating on the mysteries of the life and passion of Jesus Christ, he obtains full and entire remission of all his sins.”

Our Lady also said to Blessed Alan: “I want you to know that, although there are numerous indulgences already attached to the recitation of my Rosary, I shall add many more to every fifty Hail Marys (each group of five decades) for those who say them devoutly, on their knees—being, of course, free from mortal sin. And whosoever shall persevere in the devotion of the Holy Rosary, saying these prayers and meditations, shall be rewarded for it; I shall obtain for him full remission of the penalty and of the guilt of all his sins at the end of his life. Do not be unbelieving, as though this is impossible. It is easy for me to do because I am the Mother of the King of Heaven, and He calls me full of grace. And, being full of grace, I am able to dispense grace freely to my dear children.”

Saint Dominic was so convinced of the efficacy of the Holy Rosary and of its great value that, when he heard confessions, he hardly ever gave any other penance. You have seen an example of this already in the story that I told you of the lady in Rome to whom he gave one single Rosary for her penance. Saint Dominic was a great Saint and other confessors should be sure to walk in his footsteps by asking their penitents to say the Rosary together with meditation on the sacred mysteries, rather than giving them other penances which are less meritorious and less pleasing to God, less likely to help them advance in virtue and not as efficacious as the Rosary for helping them avoid falling into sin. Moreover, while saying the Rosary, people gain countless indulgences which are not attached to many other devotions.

And, as Abbe Blosius says: “The Rosary, with meditation on the life and passion of Jesus Christ, is certainly most pleasing to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother and is a very successful means of obtaining all graces; we can say it for ourselves as well as for others for whom we wish to pray and for the whole Church. Let us turn, then, to the Holy Rosary in all our needs, and we shall infallibly obtain the graces we ask of God to save our souls.”

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

Blessing of Graves

Posted on 20. Apr, 2018 in Faith, NEWS, Parish News

Blessing of Graves:
10th June – Slatequarry 10.30 am.
17th June – Rock 10.30 am.
Weather permitting Mass will be celebrated outside for Rock & Slatequarry.
17th June – Cookstown 3.00 pm.
12 NOON Mass will be celebrated for the recently deceased

 

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

Important Notice for Viewing TV Stream with Mobile Device

Posted on 09. Feb, 2018 in Faith, NEWS, Parish News

If you are viewing the Parish TV stream online using a mobile device (e.g. iPad) the sound is automatically muted. The streaming provider has informed us that this is necessary to keep within the service agreement set by Apple and other mobile device providers. There is a small ‘speaker symbol’ that must be clicked to turn the volume ‘on’.

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.

 

Armagh Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes on 12th May to 17th May 2018

Posted on 02. Feb, 2018 in Faith, NEWS, Parish News

Armagh Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes 2018 – The annual pilgrimage to Lourdes will depart from Belfast on Sat 12th May, returning Thurs 17th May. Fare costs €720 including 3 daily meals and coach transfers. For further info contact Sinead 0781082028 or Nuala 07879416977.

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.

Pilgrimage to Fatima and Saint Anthony’s Shrine 2018

Posted on 12. Jan, 2018 in Faith, NEWS, Parish News

 
Pilgrimage to Fatima and Saint Anthony’s Shrine
Lisbon – 28th June 2018 – 5th July 2018,
Cost £749 including £29.00 insurance and transfers.
All Inclusivefour days Fatima and three days Estoril. For more details contact the Parish Office 86763490.

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