30 June 2009

The Preparatory Prayers

While I usually attend the Ordinary Form of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, I am also very much a proponent of the Extraordinary Form. It’s hard to ignore wonderful reflections as these on the Preparatory Prayers, something that is not part of the Ordinary Form of the Liturgy. These were written by a Roman Catholic priest as he reflects on the Tridentine Liturgy. The prayers reflected upon can be found here.

Preparation of the People
The preparation of the people is subdivided into two parts, the penitential and instructive parts.

The Penitential Subdivision
Robed in his sacerdotal garments, the priest, entrusted with the most august and most redoubtable ministry, proceeds with humility and awe to the foot of the altar, where he is to consummate the great act that reconciles heaven and earth.

Of all the dispositions with which we should approach the altar of God, humility and contrition of heart are the most essential. Woe to that man who encompasses the altar of God and is present at the august Sacrifice, without feeling a regret for his sins, and a desire to be freed from them!

Wherefore, the priest commences the Mass at the foot of the altar; he does not presume to ascend to it till he has first humbled himself before God, and implored His mercy and forgiveness. Like the publican, he stands afar off, striking his breast, and acknowledging his unworthiness.

The priest commences by making on himself the Sign of the Cross, together with an express invocation of the Most Holy Trinity; because it is in the name and in honor of the Holy Trinity that he is about to renew the Sacrifice of Christ’s Passion and Death.

He then recites, alternately with the ministers, the forty-second Psalm, which is one of preparation to the Sacrifice, and which was used during the Mosaic dispensation.

This Psalm encourages him, notwithstanding his unworthiness, not to be dejected, but to put his confidence in God, and to approach His altar with a cheerful heart; because the Almighty, Who is our salvation, will make glad the hearts of all who confess to Him, and put their trust in Him. He implores the assistance of the Almighty against his enemies; he reproves his soul for being disheartened, while it ought to trust in God; and finally, he prays to God to illuminate and console him. The priest recites this alternately with the ministers of the people, because the people, as well as the priest, should excite themselves to approach the altar with faith and confidence.

The Confiteor
While at the foot of the altar, the priest, though encouraging himself not to be dejected, but to put his confidence in God, does not lose sight of his unworthiness. He therefore makes, together with the people, a general and public confession of his sins.

In the old law, previously to the offering up of sacrifice, a general confession of his sins was required by the high priest. An acknowledgement of sins is still more necessary in the new law, as a preparation for the Sacrifice.

The formulary of confession of sins, used by the Church, consists of two parts: in the former, we confess to the Almighty, and to the whole court of heaven, that we have sinned exceedingly in every way, in thought, word and deed; and in the latter part, we appeal to the whole court of heaven, to pray to the Almighty, to obtain of Him for us the remission of our sins. This confession is mutually made, by both priest and people; they repeat the prayer, which contains an avowal of the sins of which they are guilty. It is first made by the priest, because he should set the example of those holy dispositions, and testify and acknowledge that he stands in need of the same indulgence which he solicits for others. Conscious of his unworthiness, and of the holiness of the function which he is about to perform, He calls on God for His assistance, saying: “Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”

He thus commences (with the Confiteor).

Explanation of the Confiteor
I accuse myself, in the presence of Almighty God, of all the injustices of my past life. Not only does he confess to God, and to the spirits of the just made perfect, who at the last day shall sit in judgment on us, but also to his fellow creatures on earth. The angels and saints have been witnesses of his sins; he therefore acknowledges his guilt in their presence, that he may conciliate their intercession. First, he makes this confession to the most merciful of Virgins, who herself never knew the least defilement of sin; to an archangel, who triumphed over the chief of the rebellious spirits and over his followers; to the Baptist, the most holy of men, who was the friend of the Spouse; to the two chief apostles, Saints Peter and Paul, the most powerful of all the saints upon earth, who were vested with the power of binding and unbinding consciences; and lastly, to all the saints, the friends of God, and to his brethren on earth.

Striking his breast, in imitation of the publican, who by his humility before God, he says, “through my fault,” for I have had so many motives and means of avoiding sin; “through my fault,” my perversity has alone been the cause of my sins; I do not attribute them to either the occasions of sin, or to the violence of temptation; “through my most grievous fault,” my sins are most grievous, owing to the obligations of my baptism, and to the great and numerous graces that, in preference to many others, I have received from God.

The second part of the Confiteor consists of an invocation of all the angels and saints to pray to God for him.

Sinking under the burden of his sins, he says: Shall I despair? God forbid! Religion inspires me with other sentiments; it commands me to pray, and to invoke all the angels and saints, that they may pray to God in my behalf. I no longer presume to address God directly; I confine myself to entreating all the saints of heaven, and my brethren on earth, who have been witnesses of my sins, to become my intercessors with my Lord and my God.

By means of this general confession of sins, made by both priest and people, a sort of concert, a kind of unison of sighs and tears is established.

The two absolving prayers, Misereatur and Indulgentiam, which immediately follow the Confiteor, these prayers, I say, are not authoritative, but supplicatory prayers, being used in the same sense by both priest and people; for in them the priest makes himself a part of the people.

With short and energetic expressions do the priest and his ministers terminate the prayers which detain them at the foot of the altar.

Thus the devotion with which the faithful ought to be occupied while the priest remains at the foot of the altar, is chiefly to excite themselves to sorrow for their sins, which render them unworthy to be present at the Sacrifice, and earnestly to beseech the Almighty to remove the cause of their unworthiness. They should then particularly implore the grace of God, which alone can discover to them the malice of sin, and obtain for them true repentance.

The last words which the priest pronounces at the foot of the altar, are Dominus Vobiscum; by which he prays that Christ may be in the midst of them, that the Spirit of God may repose on them, that He would grant them the spirit of prayer, and the dispositions of fervor and repentance, so necessary to obtain the objects of their supplications.

27 June 2009

Dominica Tertiadecima per Annum - Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24
The author of the Book of Wisdom identifies himself as Solomon but many scholars believe that the writings are of Greek origin. Wisdom is often portrayed in Scripture as female in gender evidenced by the use of feminine pronouns. That may be due to the fact that the Greek word for wisdom is “Sophia”. Mystically, the Virgin Mary is addressed in her Litany with the Latin words, “Sedes Sapientiæ” -- “Seat of Wisdom”.

“God formed man to be imperishable” but man’s gift of free will succumbed to “the envy of the devil” sentencing man to death. But God entered into the world through the Seat of Wisdom to experience the life of man in every facet, even to the point of death. Christ suffered death on the Cross but in doing so confronted man’s adversary. He took on man’s eternal sentence and defeated it fulfilling God’s will that man should be imperishable.

To choose God is to choose eternal life. Because of free will, however, it is possible to choose the devil and “belong to his company.” As absurd as that choice sounds, we’re all very much aware of our own weaknesses, and the struggles we go through to not surrender to the temptations that appeal to those weaknesses. Without the existence of prayer and penance in one’s life, it’s very possible to not only give in to those weaknesses constantly but also dig a hole that is too deep to get out of because the pleasures that feeds those weaknesses becomes a god. The devil can only offer an eternity of condemnation, but he is quite capable of making the deceptive road that leads to it very attractive.

2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15
The opening verse is a little confusing as Saint Paul prays for us to excel in our Christian walk; but when he writes, “and in the love we have for you” almost reads like we are to excel in the love Paul has for us, which doesn’t make sense. What follows clears it up a little with the words, “may you excel in this gracious act also”; in other words, excel in the love we have for each other using Paul’s love for us as a model, which, of course, is a model of Christ’s love. The Latin translates more clearly as it reads: “abound… in your charity towards us.”

To excel or abound in the Christian faith and all that goes along with it, first and foremost requires a trusting relationship with Jesus Christ. In His poverty He wore the crown of thorns in order that we may wear the crown of glory. He accepted the hatred from His enemies, even though He prayed for them, so that we may know the love of the Father. He lived in poverty so that we may live in the mansions of His Father’s Kingdom.

When Paul speaks of equality, certainly this could be applied to temporal goods -- those who have much helping those who have little to nothing. On a spiritual level, however, those with a rich faith, through means of evangelization and living out a life of faith, by the charity of the Holy Spirit, can bring comfort and build up those who struggle with matters of faith. We are all made in the Image and likeness of God and are called to share in an eternal destiny which promises the riches of the Father’s Kingdom.

Mark 5:21-43
Parish communities, id est, crowds gather on Sunday for Mass and sometimes crowds will gather for Eucharistic Adoration. Jesus welcomes us together as His Mystical Body but as also evidenced in this Gospel, Jesus gives His undivided attention to us as individuals as well.

Being in the Presence of Jesus as a community of believers doesn’t require us to be pushing each other in order to get His attention or vie for position. He loves us communally and individually with a boundless dose of unconditional, perfect Divine Love. Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is an inexpressible joy and blessing both communally and individually. And our community is not limited to those within the walls of our parish church. Mass is an eternal event which connects us to every Mass that has ever occurred or will occur in both heaven and earth as well as to every soul because we are the Mystical Body of Christ.

Walls as well as the laws of time and space cannot divide us nor can they disturb the re-presenting of One Supreme Sacrifice. When looking at a community from that perspective, Jesus loving us as individuals becomes even more mind boggling.

When Jesus heals the twelve year old girl, He orders her to be given something to eat. Now ask yourself, which is better: To be physically healed and fed a hamburger, or to continue with a physical frailty and have your soul fed with the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ? Even when given a second chance at life, one should consider how that second chance can be used to grow closer to Jesus. Another example for your consideration: Is it better to touch the garment of Jesus and have your physical infirmity healed even though your physical body will continue to decay as the years pass by; or is it more desirable to have your soul touched and healed by Christ’s Eucharistic Self -- a soul, by the way, that will live on forever?

If you have a personal prayer need, there is no better time to ask our Lord than right after receiving the Eucharist. You will never in this life be more intimately connected to Jesus than right after being fed with His Precious Body and Blood. Hear the Voice that comes from your soul when He says: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Jesus praises the faith of the woman who touched His garment. But perhaps a more praiseworthy faith is one that does not despair when a prayer need is not met, but instead simply and submissively accepts that Christ’s perfect and Divine will always is and forever shall be superior to our own. It is then that our Lord’s words to the woman in this Gospel have a much deeper and intimate meaning: “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

25 June 2009

The Carthusian Priest: A Vocation of Conformity to Jesus

A priest of the Carthusian Order spends a great deal of his day in a hermitage; there he conducts his activities, which, as their vocational brochure reads, “nurture a deeply contemplative life.” The priest’s day of activities in the hermitage include prayer, studying, reading and manual labor. Before his day ends he will have prayed all the hours of the Canonical Office as well as all the hours of Our Lady’s Office. Once a week the Office of the Dead is also prayed.

Only three times per day does the Carthusian Father leave his cell: Canonical Matins and Lauds (Night Office), Mass and Canonical Vespers, all of which are done in the Church and make up the monks’ life in community. All other Offices are prayed in the solitude of the cell. Because of this schedule, a Carthusian Father’s priestly ministry is exercised for his fellow Carthusian brothers and vocational retreatants.

Generally, the Carthusians do not accept retreatants unless they feel they may have a Carthusian vocation. This makes a Carthusian’s priestly ministry different than most since they will have virtually no contact with the outside world; his vocation is designed for “greater conformity to Jesus, the High priest, Who unites the monk in a special and sacramental way to His life of prayer and sacrifice.”

Here is a typical Horarium of a Carthusian Father, which is different than that of a Brother:

11:30 PM
Matins of Our Lady in the cell

12:15 AM
Canonical Matins and Lauds in the Church

Between 2:15 & 3:15 AM
Return to the cell
Lauds of Our Lady
Retire to bed

6:30 AM
Rise – Remain in the Cell
Prime of Our Lady
Canonical Prime
Mental Prayer

7:45 AM
Community Mass in the Church
Private Masses

Between 9:00 & 9:30 AM
Return to the Cell
Free Time
Mental Prayer
Terce of Our Lady
Canonical Terce
Spiritual Reading
Manual Work

11:45 AM
In the Cell
Sext of Our Lady
Canonical Sext
Dinner (always meatless – bread and water on Friday)
Free time

2:00 PM
In the Cell
None of Our Lady
Canonical None
Spiritual Reading
Manual Work

4:00 PM
Vespers of Our Lady in the Cell

Canonical Vespers in the Church
After Vespers, return to the Cell for free time and a light meal

7:00 PM
In the Cell
Examination of Conscience
Canonical Compline
Compline of Our Lady

8:15 PM
Retire to Bed

You may have noticed that the Carthusians pray the Angelus four times per day instead of the usual three times and they have a divided sleep schedule.

A few words about life in the Charterhouse:
There are no radios, televisions or secular newspapers and magazines. Any noteworthy news occurring in the world is left to the wisdom of the Prior as whether or not to share such news with the monks. The monks may not know specifics but they know this is a troubled world and its healing is what they pray for – that the Light of Christ will overcome the darkness.

Scripture is very important in their spiritual reading. The Carthusian Statutes read: “For they are mistaken who think they can easily attain to interior union with God, while previously having neglected the study of the Word of God, or later abandoned it altogether” (5:2).

Please remember these dedicated men in your prayers in this “Year for Priests” whose life is hidden with God.

24 June 2009

In Nativitate Sancti Ioannis Baptistæ

O house of Zachary greeted with a voice
The barren one’s infant leaps in her womb
Reproach removed, thy child doth rejoice
‘Tis the Ark, carrying the Victor over the tomb

Elizabeth, thy husband at the altar of incense
Met with great fear the angel hailed as Gabriel
Zachary, thy prayer has been heard, hence
Your wife bears a son, thinkest thou surreal

Armed with the spirit and power of Elias
His voice in the wilderness will cry for penance
More than a prophet, your son, and pious
Thy disbelief has reduced thee to silence

O priestly voice cut off from the outside world
Hear the inner Voice of God speaking to thee
His plan of salvation is about to be unfurled
Thy son preparing the way for this mystery

At thy house is the blessed who has believed
For three months she will stay with thy wife
She too, although a Virgin, has conceived
And she shall bring forth the Bread of Life

O house of Zachary thy kindred greets thy son
Circumcised before witnesses more than a few
Isaias foretold of this child of God’s creation
The dividing line of Testaments Old and New

What shall he be called, a kinfolk’s name no less
Zachary, the name given to his father the priest
Nay, the pronouncement of angelic lips: Ioannes
His name be, on locusts and honey shall he feast

Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel, Zachary speaks
For salvation from our enemies is made present
Ninety-nine may be safe, but one lost He seeks
Whether that be man or woman, rich or peasant

You, my son, prophet of the Appeaser of wrath
Prepare ye the way for heaven to meet earth
From the desert shall you make straight His path
This Child of Spirit presented by Virgin birth

The repentant shall come to thee to be baptized
The Jordan shall hear many confessions of guilt
And now comes to thee prophecies now realized
The Cornerstone on which the house of God is built

I should be baptized by Thee, the precursor pleads
For within Thee there is found not spot or stain
Suffer it be so now, fulfilling all justice’s needs
That which I do My heavenly Father ordain

Thou brood of vipers O Pharisee and Sadducee
Think ye not Abraham an enemy of the Lamb
Faith’s Father longed to hear: “Ecce Agnus Dei”
And see Him Who’ll be sacrificed for thy scam

The Tetrarch’s fear renders the baptizer incarcerated
The femme fatale of Herodias, a promise discussed
Dance for me and I give thee till thy heart is sated
The man of God beheaded because of Herod’s lust

The netherworld where waits Patriarch and Prophet
Ye men of God, let us continue with prayer and fasting
For He Whom thou have preached of, thus have I met
He will soon join us here and take us to life everlasting


23 June 2009

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus

On the day of my ordination I made two resolutions:

1. I would offer the Holy Eucharist every Saturday in honor of the Blessed Mother to solicit her protection on my priesthood.
2. I resolved also to spend a continuous Holy Hour everyday in the Presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

In the course of my priesthood I have kept both resolutions. The Holy Hour had its origin in a practice I developed a year before I was ordained.

Here are some reasons why I have kept up this practice:

The Holy Hour is not a devotion; it is a sharing in the work of redemption. Our Blessed Lord uses the words “hour” and “day” in two totally different connotations in the Gospel of John. “Day” belongs to God; the “hour” belongs to evil. Seven times in the Gospel of John, the word “hour” is used, and in each instance it refers to the demonic, and to the moments when Christ is no longer in the Father’s Hands, but in the hands of men. In the Garden, our Lord contrasted two “hours” – one was the evil hour, “this is your hour” – with which Judas could turn out the lights of the world. In contrast our Lord asked: “Could you not watch one hour with Me?” In other words, He asked for an hour of reparation to combat the hour of evil; an hour of victimal union with the Cross to overcome the anti-love of sin.

The only time our Lord asked the apostles for anything was the night He went into His agony. Then He did not ask all of them… perhaps because He knew He could not count on their fidelity. But at least He expected three to be faithful to Him: Peter, James and John. As often in the history of the Church since that time, evil was awake, but the disciples were asleep. That is why there came out of His anguished and lonely Heart the sigh: “Could you not watch one hour with Me?” Not for an hour of activity did He plead, but for an hour of companionship.

As Paul puts it: “We are transfigured into His likeness, from splendor to splendor.” We become like that which we gaze upon. Looking at the Eucharistic Lord for an hour transforms the heart in a mysterious way as the face of Moses was transformed after his companionship with God on the mountain. Something happens to us similar to that which happened to the disciples at Emmaus. On Easter Sunday afternoon when the Lord met them, He asked why they were so gloomy. After spending some time in His Presence, and hearing again the secret of spirituality – “The Son of Man must suffer to enter into His glory” – their time with Him ended, and their “hearts were on fire.”

The Holy Hour. Is it difficult? Sometimes it seemed to be hard; it might mean having to forgo a social engagement, or rise an hour earlier, but on the whole it has never been a burden, but a joy.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

22 June 2009

Great Dignity = Tending the Flock

Jesus said to Simon Peter: Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these? He said to Him: Yes, Lord, You know that I love You. He said to him: Feed My lambs. He said to him again: Simon, son of John, do you love Me? He said to Him: Yes, Lord, You know that I love You. He said to him: Feed My lambs. He said to him the third time: Simon, son of John, do you love Me? Peter was grieved because He had said to him the third time: Do you love Me? And he said to Him: Lord, You know all things: You know that I love You. He said to him: Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17)

What advantage could be greater than to be seen doing those things which Christ with His own Lips declared to be proofs of love to Himself? The Master asked the disciple if He was loved by him, not in order to get information but in order to teach us how great an interest He takes in the superintendence of these sheep. It will likewise be manifest that a great and unspeakable reward will be reserved for him whose labors are concerned with these sheep, upon which Christ places such a high value. For when we see anyone bestowing care upon members of our household, we count his zeal for them as a sign of love towards ourselves; yet all these things are to be bought for money -- with how great a gift then will He requite those who tend the flock which He purchased, not with money, nor anything of that kind, but by His own death, giving His own Blood as the price of the herd.

His words were, "Peter, do you love Me more than these?" Yet He might have said to him, "If you love Me practice fasting, sleeping on the ground, and prolonged vigils, defend the wronged, be as a father to orphans, and supply the place of a husband to their mother." But as a matter of fact, setting aside all these things, what does He say? "Tend My sheep."

The priestly office is indeed discharged on earth, but it ranks among heavenly ordinances; and very naturally so; for neither man, nor angel, nor archangel, nor any other created power, but the Paraclete Himself, instituted this vocation, and persuaded men while still abiding in the flesh to represent the ministry of angels. Wherefore the consecrated priest ought to be as pure as if he were standing in the heavens themselves in the midst of those powers.

When you see the Lord sacrificed, and laid upon the altar, and the priest standing and praying over the Victim, can you then think that you are still among men, and standing upon the earth? Are you not, on the contrary, straightway translated to Heaven, and casting out every carnal thought from the soul, do you not with disembodied spirit and pure reason contemplate the things which are in Heaven? Oh what a marvel! What love of God to man! He Who sits on High with the Father is at that hour held in the hands of all, and gives Himself to those who are willing to embrace and grasp Him. And this all do through the eyes of faith!

If any one will consider how great a thing it is for one, being a man, and compassed with flesh and blood, to be enabled to draw near to that blessed and pure nature, he will then clearly see what great honor the grace of the Spirit has vouchsafed to priests. For they who inhabit the earth and make their abode there are entrusted with the administration of things which are in Heaven, and have received an authority which God has not given to angels or archangels. For it has not been said to them, "Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven" (Matthew 18:18). What authority could be greater than this? The Father has committed all judgment to the Son (cf. John 5:22). But I see it all put into the hands of these men by the Son. For they have been conducted to this dignity as if they were already translated to Heaven, and had transcended human nature, and were released from the passions to which we are liable. For transparent madness it is to despise so great a dignity, without which it is not possible to obtain either our own salvation, or the good things which have been promised to us.

~Saint John Chrysostom~

20 June 2009

Adorned with All Virtues and All Graces

O Lord Jesus, my God, I give You thanks for Your boundless love, and for the favors bestowed upon the Angels and men, and upon the whole world, from the noblest and worthiest of all Your creatures, the most holy Virgin Mary, Your Mother, down to me the most unworthy of all, unfit to appear before You on account of my sins and ingratitude.

Be forever blessed, O infinitely good Jesus, Who has from all eternity chosen Mary, this matchless Virgin, to be Your Mother! You made her wholly Immaculate. You preserved her from all sin. You prepared and possessed her soul, and adorned it with the fullness of all virtues and all graces. You were conceived in her womb; she is Your Mother. You were nourished at her holy breast. You willed that she should be present at Your preaching and at the sufferings of Your Passion and death. You allowed her to take part in our redemption. And now that she has been taken up to Heaven in body and soul, and is crowned with very great glory, You have given her to us to be our advocate, the Queen of mercy, and our Mother. Praise, glory and honor be to You forever for all these benefits! Most sweet Jesus, I offer you the heart of Mary and her merits, and through her I commend myself to Your most kind Heart.

O clement, O loving, O sweet Mary, may I be all yours and you all mine! Keep me, guide me, deliver me, preserve me from all sin, from all harm, from all danger, and remove from me everything that might come between my soul and God.

~a Carthusian monk~

19 June 2009

The Development of the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Here is the reflection given in the Second Nocturn for the hour of Matins in today’s traditional Divine Office for the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For those who are unfamiliar with the traditional Office, you’ll see in the final paragraph the term “double of the first class” which indicates a Feast of the highest rank. Today, that ranking has been changed to the term “Solemnity.”

Among the wonderful developments of sacred teaching and piety, by which the plans of the divine Wisdom are daily made clear to the Church, hardly any is more manifest than the triumphant progress made by the devotion of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Very often indeed, during the course of past ages, Fathers, Doctors, and Saints have celebrated our Redeemer's love; and they have said that the Wound opened in the Side of Christ was the hidden fountain of all graces. Moreover, from the Middle Ages onward, when the faithful began to show a more tender piety towards the most sacred Humanity of the Savior, contemplative souls became accustomed to penetrate through that Wound almost to the very Heart itself, wounded for the love of men. And from that time, this form of contemplation became so familiar to all persons of saintly life, that there was no country or Religious Order in which, during this period, witnesses to it were not to be found. Finally, during recent centuries, and most especially at that period when heretics, in the name of a false piety, strove to discourage Christians from receiving the most Holy Eucharist, the veneration of the Most Sacred Heart began to be openly practiced, principally through the exertions of Saint John Eudes, who is by no means unworthily called the founder of the liturgical worship of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

But in order to establish fully and entirely the worship of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and to spread the same throughout the whole world, God Himself chose as His instrument a most humble virgin from the Order of the Visitation, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, who even in her earliest years already had a burning love for the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and to whom Christ the Lord had very many times appeared, and was pleased to make known the riches and the desires of His Divine Heart. The most famous of these apparitions was that in which Jesus revealed Himself to her in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, showed her His Most Sacred Heart, and complaining that in return for His unbounded love, He met with nothing but outrages and ingratitude from mankind, He ordered her to concern herself with the establishment of a new Feast, on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi, on which His Heart should be venerated with due honor, and that the insults offered Him by sinners in the Sacrament of love should be expiated by worthy satisfaction. But there is no one who doesn’t know how many and how great were the obstacles which the handmaid of God experienced, in carrying out the commands of Christ; but endowed with strength by the Lord Himself, and actively aided by her pious spiritual directors, who exerted themselves with an almost unbelievable zeal, up to the time of her death she never ceased faithfully to carry out the duty entrusted to her by heaven.

At length, in the year 1765, the Supreme Pontiff Clement XIII approved the Mass and Office in honor of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus; and Pius IX extended the Feast to the universal Church. From then on the worship of the Most Sacred Heart, like an overflowing river, washing away all obstacles, has poured itself forth over all the earth, and at the dawn of the new century, Leo XIII, having proclaimed a jubilee, decided to dedicate the whole human race to the Most Sacred Heart. This consecration was actually carried out with solemn rites in all the churches of the Catholic world, and brought about a great increase of this devotion, leading not only nations but even private families to it, who in countless numbers dedicated themselves to the Divine Heart, and submitted themselves to its royal sway. Lastly, the Sovereign Pontiff Pius XI, in order that, by its solemnity, the Feast might answer more fully to the greatly widespread devotion of the Christian people, raised the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus to the rite of a double of the first class, with an octave; and moreover, that the violated rights of Christ, the Supreme King and most loving Lord, might be repaired, and that the sins of the nations might be bewailed, he ordered that annually, on that same Feast day, there should be recited an expiatory form of prayer in all the churches of the Christian world.

18 June 2009

On the Eve of the Great Solemnity

O Mother of Sorrows how could you have known
As your every limb was paralyzed on the hill
That the thrust of a spear from an angry soldier
Was fulfilling your Son’s Most Holy will

That Heart, that Most Sacred Heart so tender
The Door that leads to ecstatic Eternity
Only the mysterious plan of Providence
Could make a warrior’s blade the key

Spilling Blood and Water of lasting Testament
Unlocked, His fleshy Organ of no pebble
Answering Abel’s cry from the dust of earth
Poured out for the sake of mankind’s every rebel

“Enter in silence,” the Master says, “to My Cell
Hear the faintest chants of angels in converse
My Heart is your holy Stable of Bethlehem
My sanctifying Desert of solitude, immerse”

O Mother how can I enter a place so holy
That eternally pulsating Sanctuary
“I gave Him this Heart” she said, “emptied,
Drained for love of man, be not wary”

O Light of lights overpowering the tomb
Shine on Your brethren, make them whole
O Beacon of beacons emit Your warm rays
Illumine the dark night of the soul

From the enemy’s deceiving lure, hide me, I plead
From the lion’s prey, lock me in this Sacred Booth
O Redeemer, permit me to reside in this saving City
Where even the prince of lies must speak the truth

O lance, controlled by a fist of rage
Grateful I am for opening this Sacred Chest
Now availed to me are all the King’s treasures
And to all for whom He lovingly hails blest

“Come, My love, rest here like beloved Ioannes
Enter, and firmly embrace everlasting peace”
O My Savior, my soul is punctured with guilt
Cor Iesu Sacratissimum, miserere nobis!


17 June 2009

What the Priest Says About Priests

What is a priest? A man who holds the place of God -- a man who is invested with all the powers of God. When the priest remits sins, he does not say, “God pardons you”; he says, “I absolve you.” At the Consecration, he does not say, “This is the Body of our Lord”; he says, “This is My Body…”

Saint Bernard tells us that everything has come to us through Mary; and we may also say that everything has come to us through the priest; yes, all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts. If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should not have our Lord. Who placed Him there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest.

Go to confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel, will they absolve you? No. Will they give you the Body and Blood of our Lord? No. The Holy Virgin cannot make her Divine Son descend into the Host. You might have two hundred angels there, but they could not absolve you. A priest, however simple he may be, can do it; he can say to you, “Go in peace; I pardon you.” Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love. Without the priest, the Death and Passion of our Lord would be of no avail.

The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you. After God, the priest is everything. Leave a parish twenty years without priests; they will worship beasts. When people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer any priest there is no Sacrifice, and where there is no longer any Sacrifice there is no religion. Who makes ready the feast, and who serves the table? The priest. And what is the Food? The precious Body and Blood of Our Lord. O God! O God! How You have loved us! See the power of the priest; out of a piece of bread the word of a priest makes a God. It is more than creating the world.

If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I should salute the priest before I saluted the angel. The latter is the friend of God; but the priest holds His place. Saint Teresa kissed the ground where a priest had passed. When you see a priest, you should say, "There is he who made me a child of God, and opened Heaven to me by holy Baptism; he who purified me after I had sinned; who gives nourishment to my soul.

What joy did the Apostles feel after the Resurrection of our Lord, at seeing the Master Whom they had loved so much! The priest must feel the same joy, at seeing our Lord whom he holds in his hands. Great value is attached to objects which have been laid in the drinking cup of the Blessed Virgin and of the Child Jesus, at Loretto. But the fingers of the priest, that have touched the adorable Flesh of Jesus Christ, that have been plunged into the chalice which contained His Blood, into the pyx where His Body has lain, are they not still more precious? The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ.

~Saint Jean Marie Vianney~

16 June 2009

The Sweat of Blood

Dom Antonio de Molina is the next author of the continuing reflections on the Sacred Heart of Jesus from the Carthusian Order. He was a Carthusian of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and Prior of the monastery at Miraflores. He first was a Superior for the Order of Augustinian Hermits in Spain where he taught theology. He joined the Carthusians to fulfill a desire for a stricter observance of ascetical discipline. He wrote in the Spanish language and authored a few works on ascetics designed especially for priests. His best known work is titled: “Instruccion de Sacerdotes, en que se dá doctrina muy importante para conocer la alteza del sagrado oficio Sacerdotal, y para exercitarle debidamente.” Here is his Sacred Heart reflection:

His sweat became as drops of blood. (Saint Luke 22:44)

Consider how our Lord in His agony gives us a proof of His having taken our human nature. He Who but lately consoled His disciples and concealed from them His own sadness, is now so forsaken and deprived of all aid, that He reveals His sorrows to the Apostles. He comes to them for consolation, and asks for their assistance, saying: "Stay you here, and watch with Me" (Saint Matthew 26:38). The Heart of Jesus was certainly weighed down by excessive anguish when He pronounced these words, and as this suffering of His Heart was all within, and was not apparent, He wished to make it known to us. Indeed, it was not fitting that so great a sorrow, and one so worthy of our gratitude, should remain unknown. For the same reason, when hanging on the Cross, He cried out: "I thirst" (Saint John 19:28), thus manifesting the kind of suffering He endured, which we could learn only from His own Lips. Understand then how bitter were the pangs that tortured the Heart of Jesus!

Our Lord received consolation when the Angel appeared to Him, but seeing that His Passion was irrevocably determined, the anguish of His Soul was so acute that He suffered a deadly agony, and drops of Blood issued in abundance from His whole Body, that they wetted the ground. Contemplate with loving and sincere compassion your most amiable Redeemer, plunged into such sorrow, the deep sighs heaving from His Breast. But what of His most afflicted Soul while from His feeble and tender Body this extraordinary sweat poured out? His Heart was cruelly strained between the weight of natural fear of the torments of His Passion, and the desire to accomplish His Father's will, and thus to procure the salvation of men. The will and superior part of the soul did great violence to the sensitive part, so that it might be wholly conformed to the divine will, and say: "Non mea voluntas, sed tua fiat -- Not My will, but Yours be done" (Saint Luke 22:42). All this so oppressed the Heart of Jesus that every pore opened and the Blood gushed out. In time of great suffering, the blood is concentrated in the heart in order to strengthen the principal member -- hence the exterior parts of the body become pale -- but in this exceptional case, strength of mind so forcibly overcame natural weakness that it refused this aid, and sent back the Blood to the outside as a sign of its readiness to be spilt without waiting for the hand of the executioner to shed it by force. In this way, the most perfect charity of Jesus Christ and His will were the executioners that tortured His most holy Body, even to the shedding of His Blood.

This extraordinary agony and sweat of Blood were also caused by the clear and distinct knowledge our Lord then had of all the sins of the world, past, present, and future. He had taken upon Himself to answer for us before the Eternal Father, and to expiate our sins in our stead; God then showed them all to Him distinctly and separately, and put their load on the shoulders of our most innocent Redeemer. The weight of this burden made Him sweat Blood from His whole Body.

Let us observe, by the way, that the Saints tell us that mortal sin is so horrible and such an insult to the Divine Majesty, that if a man could understand the enormity of those of which he is guilty, he would be unable to bear the pain he would feel. He would either break his heart with grief, or lose his reason. Now, our Lord, seeing and knowing the sins of all men, and knowing the depth of their hideousness, felt as great sorrow as if He had really committed them. It was then a miracle that His Heart did not break. He preserved His life to be able to suffer all that He still had to endure in His Passion. Nevertheless He wept bitterly. From His Eyes and His whole Body He shed tears of Blood, and consumed with zeal for God's honor, instead of tearing His clothes like the Jews when they heard blasphemy, He rent His whole Body, and poured out His Blood on all sides.

15 June 2009

The Recitation of the Divine Office

By the Divine Office God is honored, the fury of the enemy is repelled, and the divine mercies are obtained for sinners. But to attain these ends it is necessary to recite the Office in a proper manner: it is necessary to say it carefully and devoutly.

Carefully, by pronouncing the words distinctly; devoutly, that is, with attention, as Cassian teaches: “Let that be considered in the heart which is uttered by the lips.”

“How,” asks Saint Cyprian, “can you expect that God will hear you when you do not hear yourself?” Prayer made with attention is the odoriferous incense that is most agreeable to God, and obtains treasures of grace; but prayer made with voluntary distraction is a fetid smoke that provokes the divine wrath, and merits chastisement. Hence, while we recite the Office, the devil labors strenuously to make us say it with distractions and defects. We should, then, take all possible care to recite it in a proper manner.

It is necessary to enliven our faith, and to consider that in reciting the Divine Office we unite with the angels in praising God. “We begin here upon earth the Office of the inhabitants of heaven,” says Tertullian. We then perform on earth the Office of the citizens of heaven, who unceasingly praise God, and shall praise Him for an eternity. “Hence,” as Saint John Chrysostom remarks, “before we enter the church or take up the breviary we must leave at the door and dismiss all thoughts of the world.”

In reciting the Divine Office we must take care that our affections accompany the sentiments contained in what we read. It is necessary, says Saint Augustine “we must pray when the Psalmist prays, sigh when he, sighs, hope when he hopes.” It is useful to renew our attention from time to time; for example, at the beginning of every psalm. We must be careful not to give occasion to mental distractions. How can he who recites the Office in a public place, or in the midst of persons who are jesting and amusing themselves, how, I ask, can he say it with piety and devotion?

Oh! what treasures do they lay up who daily recite the Divine Office with devout attention! Saint John Chrysostom says that they are filled with the Holy Spirit. But, on the other hand, they who say it negligently lose great merits, and have to render a great account to God.

~Saint Alphonsus Liguori~

13 June 2009

Some Thoughts On Corpus Christi

Unfortunately for many Catholics, the sands of time and a secularized culture have buried the remembrance that a Catholic’s encounter with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is not intended to be at Mass alone, but also by frequent adoration and Holy Hours. Exercising our free will to make adoration a familiar part of our lives draws us to a closer union with our Lord. How could it not! It is always Jesus’ desire that our relationship with Him grows to heights of celestial intimacy. But He cannot force the issue, for that would not be an act of love. It must be our own unflinching desire conjoined with our Lord’s eternal desire that will ultimately strengthen our affection for Him and form an unshakable bond of love.

I heard a very alarming statistic the other day which stated that less than one percent of the world’s Catholics make Eucharistic Adoration a regular part of their lives. That statistic moves from alarming to horrifying when considering that priests and religious are among that statistical assembly of the world’s Catholics.

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, in his homily given on 3 May 2009 during the Mass for the Ordination to the Priesthood of Nineteen Deacons of the Diocese of Rome, said that the daily forms of prayer for a priest should be Holy Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, Lectio Divina, the Holy Rosary, and yes, Eucharistic Adoration.

As Cardinal Ratzinger, in his book titled, “God Is Near Us,” our future Holy Father wrote: “Communion and adoration do not stand side by side, or even in opposition, but are indivisibly one. For communicating means entering into fellowship. Communicating with Christ means having fellowship with Him. That is why Communion and contemplation belong together: a person cannot communicate with another person without knowing him. He must be open for him, see him, and hear him. Love or friendship always carries within it an impulse of reverence, of adoration. Communicating with Christ therefore demands that we gaze on Him, allow Him to gaze on us, listen to Him, get to know Him. Adoration is simply the personal aspect of Communion. We cannot communicate sacramentally without doing it personally. Sacramental Communion becomes empty, and finally a judgment for us, unless it is repeatedly completed by us personally. The saying of the Lord in the book of Revelation is valid not only for the end times: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My Voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him and he with Me’ (3:20). This is at the same time a description of the most profound content of Eucharistic piety. True Communion can happen only if we hear the Voice of the Lord, if we answer and open the door. ‘Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration and… [let] our adoration never cease’ (Dominicæ Cenæ).

Of course, the often haphazard ways of our modern day world have dictated that many of our churches have their doors locked during the week, making a trip to spend time before the tabernacle a bit difficult. Just as there are spiritual Communions, fortunately, there is also spiritual adoration. When you can’t get to a church or if it is not open during the week, you can adore our Lord spiritually by asking our Lord to spiritually place you before the tabernacle of your local parish or another parish. A priest friend of mine recently wrote in an email to me that before the days of living under the same roof with the Blessed Sacrament, as he does now, he would ask Jesus to spiritually place him before the tabernacle in the location of where our dear Lord is most ignored or rejected. What a brilliant idea!

Recently on the blog, Vultus Christi was a post titled, “Adoration at Home.” It’s about a priest named Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey (1875-1960). He and the blog’s owner, also a priest, offer some advice on being in spirit before the tabernacle. Please check it out!

Saint Jean Marie Vianney, the model which the Church offers us for the upcoming “Year for Priests” was no stranger to adoration. Read these astonishing words from the holy Curé d’Ars: “In times of discouragement when, after the Consecration, I hold in my hands the most holy Body of our Lord, seeing myself to be only worthy of hell, I say to myself: ‘Ah, if only I could take Him with me! Hell would be sweet near Him; it would not be painful to stay there suffering for all eternity if we were there together. But then there would not be any more hell – the flames of love would extinguish those of justice.’ ”

It was on a Christmas night at Mass, during the elevation, as he held the Host above the chalice, tears were falling from his eyes. Saint Jean Marie Vianney would later reveal that he was saying within himself: “My God, if I knew that I was to be damned, now that I hold You, I would not let You go again.”

Perhaps hell and thoughts of being damned crossed this great saint’s mind because of the frequency of Satan’s attacks on him physically, psychologically and emotionally. He was also verbally mocked by the evil one. But even when the prince of lies confronts a man who has such an intimate union with Truth, then the master of deceit must also speak the truth. This is what the devil said to the Curé d’Ars: “If there were three such priests as you, my kingdom would be ruined.”

Saint Jean Marie Vianney was a priest, he is a model for all priests, and he is the patron saint of priests. But his sanctity is contagious. May we all – Priests, Religious and Laity – be infected! And may our Lady, who is the perfect adorer, help us to adore her Son and guide our steps to a glorious intimacy with Him.

The Heart Of Jesus Opened

Up next in the Carthusian reflections on the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the work of Dom Polycarpe de la Riviere, a seventeenth century Carthusian who was an author of many works. He was Prior of the Charterhouse at Bordeaux and also at Bonpas near Avignon.

O pitiless and inhuman lance, what do you seek in this Heart, the love of my soul, the Heart of my true God of love? Is it His disciples? They all abandoned Him yesterday. Is it His Flesh you desire? It is exposed on the Cross by the judge's sentence. Are you thirsting for His Blood? Do you not see how It has been spilt all along the streets? But perhaps you would have His garments? Ah! It is too late, for the soldiers have already divided them, and cast lots for His coat. Would you then have His beautiful Soul? It has descended into hell to take by surprise and overcome the strong man armed, and deprive him of the precious spoil he has kept shut up there. If you mean to kill Him, He is already dead; if to deprive Him of His honor, the Cross has shamed and dishonored Him enough; if to fasten Him to the Tree, the nails have forestalled you; if to shed His Blood, do you not see that He no longer lives, and that your work is useless? But O unsparing lance, it is His Heart you seek. His Divine Heart, that you may kill His nearly lifeless Mother by striking the dead Body of her Son.

But how is it, O sweet Jesus, and by what law of medical science do You thus bleed to heal our infirmities, You Who are the beloved and holy Physician of our souls? What physician ever took the draught prescribed for the sick person he wished to restore to health? Whoever had his veins opened with a spear instead of a lancet? Whoever preferred a rash Longinus to an experienced and skilful surgeon? Who was ever known to have himself nailed and lifted up on a cross of fifteen feet in length and eight feet in breadth, with his whole body and his heart presented to the lance of a deluded soldier, so that he might not miss his aim? But why should the Savior's Side and Heart be struck, rather than His Arms, His Feet, or His Head?

There is a very great mystery in this. Certainly, our friends in the world sometimes open their houses to us, so that we may go in, converse and stay there without restraint; occasionally they throw open their barns and cellars and let us take out the corn and wine; rarely they open their chests and treasures and place them at our disposal; but what friend has ever laid open his heart so freely that he has not kept back at least some secret thoughts? Jesus Christ only, the holy Lover of the redeemed, has never refused either favors or pleasures to His friends. He has never failed them in time of need, nor has He hidden from them one secret or thought that was for their good. And even after His death, He suffered His Side to be opened by a spear thrust, in order that we might see with what good-will He had suffered, and how ardently He was inflamed with love of us and with desire for our salvation. Why then, my soul, do you not raise up your heart to this Heart and unite your side to this Divine Side? Why not hasten to mingle your blood with this precious Blood, in which tears of compassion and devotion are mingled with joy and hope of the everlasting glory awaiting us? For this opening of the Side of Jesus, and the wonderful shedding of Blood and Water, should fill us with a sweet gladness, tempered with tears of sorrow for our common evil, but full of rejoicing at the remembrance of the death of our death, and how the Tree of Life, grafted on to that of the Cross, has produced the fruit of our salvation.

In the opening of Your Sacred Heart, O Jesus, may my heart be enriched and adorned with the inestimable treasure and incomparable radiance of Your love. May all my affections be in You. May all my thoughts, imaginations, intentions, and the employment of my mind be for You. May all my faculties, passive, sensitive, incentive, progressive, and appetitive, tend towards You. I desire to be so transformed and united to You, that my life may be forever hidden in Yours.

But why lament, why weep and sigh so much over the death and the wounded and pierced Heart of this immortal Love? Was not His death to be our life, as our life was the cause of His death? If we would enter Heaven, we must go into this Heart; this Side must be opened for us, if we are to enjoy felicity; and the iron that opened it has closed hell against us. Cease then to mourn, O my soul, for in this Heart, open and laid bare, you have the everlasting happiness of a glorious immortality.

Let the needy seek wealth, the ambitious thirst for honor, the miser think only of his treasures. You will find all these, and also the completion and perfection of every good desire in this holy Heart, which is filled with gifts and graces, and is the wealth of the children of God, the treasury of divine riches, the light of our understanding, the fervor of our will, the store-house of our memory, the remedy of our passions, the curb of our fears, the anchor of our hope, the savor of our spiritual delights; in short, the strength of the weak, the comfort of the defeated, the solace of the weary, the North pole of the navigator, the secure haven of those who are dashed against the rock, the holy death of the living, the true life of the dead, and the pledge of everlasting happiness.

12 June 2009

What The Holy Curé D'Ars Says About Thanksgiving

Saint Jean Marie Vianney’s love for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is well-documented. As he was seen kneeling on the altar steps gazing at the tabernacle in what may very well have been ecstatic adoration, he would call these times spent with the tabernacle and its Resident, “bathing in the flames of love.” Some of what he shares here about thanksgiving after Holy Communion is a bit dated because he talks about those who begin praying the Rosary or read prayer books after receiving Holy Communion. That is not a common practice today but even in this great saint’s day, it was a practice that he discouraged. Here are some of his thoughts on thanksgiving.

When we have communicated, if anyone said to us, “What are you taking home with you?” we might answer, “I am taking heaven.” One of the saints used to say that we are “God-bearers.” It is quite true, but we don’t have enough faith. We do not comprehend our dignity. When leaving the holy table, we are as blessed as the Magi would have been if they could have taken away the Child Jesus.

Rise modestly, return to your place, kneel down, and do not immediately take up your book or Rosary. I do not like to see people begin to read after directly having come from the holy table. Oh, no, what good are the words of man when it is God Who is speaking? We must be like someone who is very curious and listens at the door. We must listen to all that the good God says at the door of our heart.

Thinking of your happiness in bearing Jesus Christ within you, keep guard over all your thoughts, words, and deeds that you may keep the grace of the good God all your life.

The Curé d’Ars was, one might say, magnetized to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. If anyone entered the church building needing to speak privately to Saint Jean Marie Vianney, he would step outside with that person so that reverent silence was always kept inside. When he was finished with his conversation outside, he would politely excuse himself and say that Someone was waiting for him inside.

11 June 2009

Le Saint-Sacrement Du Corps Et Du Sang Du Christ

Today’s traditional observance of Corpus Christi seemed like a good day to get a pre-game pep-talk from the model given us by the Church, as we get ever closer to the big game: the “Year for Priests.” Here are some wonderful words of wisdom from Saint Jean Marie Vianney.

If we consider all that God has made, heaven and earth, and that beautiful order which reigns in this vast universe – all manifests an infinite Power which has created all things, an admirable wisdom which governs all things, and a supreme goodness which provides for all with the same facility as if it were occupied with one creature alone; and all these marvels cannot but fill us with admiration and astonishment.

But if we speak of the adorable Sacrament of the Eucharist, we may say that here is the marvel of the love of God for us. Here it is that His power, His grace, and His goodness shine in a manner altogether extraordinary. Here is the Bread come down from Heaven, the Bread of angels, which is given us for the Food of our souls; here is the Bread of strengthening which comforts and sweetens our sorrows, the traveler’s Bread, the Key which opens heaven to us. And to give us this Bread, Jesus multiplies miracles, turns the world of nature upside down, and suspends all its laws.

By Baptism, it is true, we receive the title of God’s children; heaven is opened to us in consequence, and we are made participators in all the treasures of the Church. By Penance, the wounds of our soul are healed, and the friendship of God is restored to us. By Confirmation, Jesus Christ gives us the Spirit of light and power. By Extreme Unction, He clothes us with the merits of His death and Passion. By Holy Orders, He communicates to the priest all His powers. By Matrimony, He sanctifies all our actions, even those in which man seems only to follow natural inclinations. Mercies truly worthy of a God Who is in all things infinite!

But all this seems to be only an apprenticeship of His love for men; in the adorable Sacrament of the Eucharist He goes further.

If we love our Lord, we should have that gilded tabernacle, that house of the good God, always before our mind’s eye. When we see a spire from the road, that sight ought to make our hearts beat like the heart of a lover at sight of the roof under which his love dwells. We ought to be unable to take our eyes off it.

A mortal man, a creature, feeds himself, satiates himself, with his God, taking Him for his daily Bread, his Drink. O miracle of miracles! O love of loves! O joy of joys!

Every created being must be fed in order to live; that is why the good God has made trees and plants grow – they are a well-furnished table to which all the beasts come to get their own proper food.

But the soul also must be fed. Where, then is its food? When God desired to give food to our soul to sustain it in the pilgrimage of life, He looked upon creation and found nothing that was worthy of it. Then He turned again to Himself and resolved to give Himself. O my soul, how great you are, since only God can satisfy you! The Food of the soul is the Body and Blood of a God. O glorious Food! The soul can feed only on God; only God can suffice it; only God can fill it; only God can satiate its hunger. Its God is absolutely necessary to it.

My God, how can it be that Christians actually remain so long without giving this Food to their poor souls? They leave them to die of want. They are close to this glorious Sacrament, like a person dying of thirst by the side of a river, when he has only to bend his head. My God, what misery and blindness!

What confusion you would feel, if your faith were not extinguished or weakened, to see a father or mother, a brother or sister, a friend or neighbor, go to the holy table to be fed with the adorable Body of Jesus Christ and yourself abstaining from it! My God, what a misfortune! Do not say that you are not worthy of it. It is true, you are not worthy, but you have need of it. If our Lord had been thinking of our worthiness He would never have instituted His glorious Sacrament of love, for no one in the world is worthy of it – not the saints, nor the angels, nor the archangels, nor the Blessed Virgin – but He was thinking of our needs.

You have the happiness of possessing Him in your heart, where He is in Body and Soul, as He was on earth during His mortal life. Ask Him for all the graces you desire for yourself and others; the good God will be able to refuse you nothing if you offer Him His Son and the merits of His holy death and Passion. Then invite the Blessed Virgin and all the saints and angels to thank the good God with you. Do not go away directly after holy Mass, but stay a moment to ask God to strengthen you well in your good resolutions. If you keep our Lord well by recollection after Communion, you will feel for a long time that devouring fire which inspires in your heart an inclination to good and a repugnance for evil.

What is Jesus Christ doing when we carry Him in procession? He is like a good king in the midst of his subjects, like a good father surrounded by his children, like a good shepherd visiting his sheep. Let us accompany Him with a lively faith, firm trust, and atoning love. Let us imagine in this procession, the Savior going to Calvary: some were kicking Him, others loading Him with abuse and blasphemies. Only a few holy souls followed Him, weeping and mingling their tears with His precious Blood with which He was sprinkling the paving-stones.

Of how many profanations, of how many sacrileges has He been the object during this long procession of nineteen centuries, from the institution of the Eucharist to this day! Is it possible that a God Who loves us so much should be so despised and maltreated?

Let us be like one friend sorrowing over the misfortunes of another and thus showing Him true friendship. Let us grieve over the contempt cast upon Jesus Christ, and try to make amends for it by a greater and more ardent love.

The Curé d’Ars mentions in these words the need to stay a moment after Mass for thanksgiving. He lived what he preached. A typical day began for him by rising between one and two o’clock in the morning. He prayed Matins and Lauds which took him to about four o’clock, and then he would adore our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament until seven o’clock, which is when Mass began. After Mass he offered thanksgiving until noon.

May our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament be praised, adored, and loved, with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time!

O Sacrament Most Holy! O Sacrament Divine!
All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!

10 June 2009

The Agony Of The Heart Of Jesus

Continuing with reflections on the Sacred Heart of Jesus from the Carthusian Order, next up is Dom John of Torralba, Prior of Aula Dei. He died in 1578.

My heart is become like melting wax. (Psalm 21:15)

Consider, O my soul, what our Redeemer does when, for the last time, He devotes Himself to the holy exercise of prayer. He withdraws from His disciples into solitude, so that He may the better pour out the bitterness of His Soul before His Father, the one Consoler of those who are in anguish, Who alone is near to hearts in tribulation. At the sight of the torments that await Him, the inferior and sensitive part of His Soul seems for a moment overcome by terror. The Soul of Jesus Christ is filled with such great dread, that for the time He seems to forget what He is and why He came into this world. He prostrates Himself, and beseeches His Father to remove from Him, if possible, this chalice of suffering which He sees in store for Him. Nevertheless, the reasonable part of the Soul fully and freely submits its will to that of God; but between the inferior and superior parts, there is so sharp a struggle that our Lord is covered with sweat, a sweat of Blood, which oozes out in great drops and trickles down to the ground.

O my soul, consider attentively and inwardly contemplate the great agony of the most tender Heart of our Redeemer at this moment. On the one hand, His burning charity urges Him gladly to sacrifice Himself entirely for our salvation; but on the other, He is seized with horror at the thought of the terrible sufferings He foresees. A frightful combat is waged between love and fear, and His all-loving Heart is so overwhelmed in the struggle, that from His whole Body and its members there springs so abundant a sweat of Blood, that it penetrates His garments and wets the ground on which His Face is bent. Tell me, O my soul, hast thou ever seen a man so crushed under the weight of affliction and enduring so great an agony that he sweated blood? No, never has it been known for anyone to be reduced to this extremity. Only our Lord Jesus Christ, Who for our souls has become a true spouse of blood, has suffered this! Gather up these drops of Blood so precious; place them on thy heart, which is so hard; and their efficacy will soften it, and inflame it with love.

O heavenly Father, dost Thou not see the anguish of Thy Son? Is not Thy just anger allayed by all the sorrows that break His Heart?

O my Jesus, my sweet Jesus! Thou hast sacrificed Thyself in my stead, and hast most willingly suffered the divine wrath and vengeance, which should be cast on me, to fall on Thee! O good Lord Jesus Christ, what more couldst Thou have done for me? Love took such full possession of Thy Heart that It was induced to drink the bitter chalice of Thy Passion, even before Thy enemies came to torture Thee and to deliver Thee up to death. Yes, long before they put Thee to death, Thou didst suffer an interior death through the excessive sadness that oppressed Thy Heart. So ardent was Thy thirst to work out our salvation, that Thou didst Thyself perform all that was in Thy power in order to procure it, leaving to Thy enemies only what Thou couldst not do Thyself. What heart then, were it a heart of stone, would not be kindled by the fire of Thy Heart, which burns with the most intensive love?

Make me then feel compassion for Thy sufferings, O most loving and most sweet Jesus. O my Savior, so afflicted and so sorrowful, I cannot shed tears of blood, perhaps not even tears of water, but at least I can desire it, and my heart will know how to weep. Through the sadness and the oppression of Thy Heart, through this bloody sweat which, after so much suffering, gushed from all Thy members and abundantly watered the ground, I implore Thee, most sweet Jesus, to give me true contrition for my sins, to soften my hard heart with compunction, to inflame it with devotion, and to give to my eyes and abundance of tears, so that, by day and by night, I may weep for the injuries I have done Thee, the sins by which I have offended Thee. Put, I beseech Thee, this great sorrow of Thy Heart between Thy justice and my poor soul, that I may thereby be spared all that my iniquities deserve, and may be cleansed by Thy sweat of Blood.

Most sweet Jesus, Thou hast fought against the dread of death by a complete resignation. Thou hast subjected the natural love for Thy Humanity to be the uncreated love of the Divinity, and, with full consent, hast been obedient to Thy Father, even to the death of the Cross. Bestow upon me the same grace, in order that I may renounce my own will, be unmindful of self, and in such perfect submission to God and to all creatures for His sake, that I may only acknowledge in the depth of my soul, but also feel that I am indeed the most vile and worthless of beings. May I give up my will, and live without desires or choice, as though I had never had a will of my own. May Thy almighty power strengthen my weakness, in order that I may conquer the sensuality of my rebellious and unmortified nature, entirely overcome every inordinate desire for anything that is not Thee, and become perfectly detached from all that might sully my heart. Grant, in short, that I may love Thee with as pure and steadfast a love as is possible for a creature that is mortal. Make my heart so just, so upright, so pure, so conformable to Thy Heart, that between Thee and me there may be nothing to offend Thee or estrange Thee from me. In all my words and actions, may I seek, wish and have in view one thing only, namely, to please and honor Thee. I desire to perform all that is pleasing to Thee. I desire to love Thee with all my heart; and my unceasing care shall be to return Thee at least some little love for Thy great charity. Amen.

09 June 2009

Psalm Prayers In The Liturgy Of The Hours

The “Questions Answered” section in the June 2009 edition of “Homiletic & Pastoral Review” may be of interest to those who pray the Liturgy of the Hours. The question concerns the Psalm Prayers found in the English language–American version of the breviary. The answer to the question is provided by the publication’s Contributing Editor and a familiar face to EWTN viewers, Father Brian T. Mullady, O.P. Here’s how it appears in the publication:

Question: Throughout the four-week psalter we encounter the “Psalm Prayer.” These are not contained in the Editio Typica nor in the U.K. volumes: solely in the American edition of the Liturgy of the Hours. Who decided to insert these prayers, who composed them and why?

Answer: One of the animating principles behind Vatican II was called resourcement, a return to the sources of our faith. This was true in theology and it was also true in the liturgy. The revised rites exhibit numerous attempts to return to practices used in the early Church, before the evolution that occurred in the Middle Ages. Some of these have been more effective and helpful than others.

One example of this return is the addition to the Liturgy of the Hours of the Psalm Prayer, which is printed in the American edition of the breviary immediately after the psalm and before the antiphon. According to liturgical experts, the present prayers are probably German in origin. They most likely reflect a practice of the monks in Egypt. When they prayed a psalm they would first listen and since many of them were illiterate, individuals would repeat phrases from the psalm or add some petitions. The abbot would then pull them all together according to a common theme. This practice died out long ago.

It seems that, for the present liturgy, it was thought advisable for more solemn celebrations to revive the custom of composing thematic applications of the meaning of the psalm, much as those ancient monks. These were approved in Latin and published by the Holy See for optional use. They are not printed in the Latin edition of the breviary, nor are they in many of the vernacular editions including the edition published in the United Kingdom. The editors of the breviary used in the United States evidently thought it would be helpful to provide all aids to recitation which were available and so they added the prayers in the present edition. They are given to aid reflection or for private meditation.

Some priests and religious seem to think because they are printed in the breviary that they are obligatory. They are not. In fact, the antiphon placed with the psalm provides the primary application and reflection on the psalm. There is nothing wrong with using the Psalm Prayers, but they are strictly optional and as such do not form part of the Liturgy of the Hours. There is therefore no obligation to use them.

08 June 2009

The Revolt Of The Intellect Against God

Last month I posted “The Antichristian Revolt” by Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, the Archbishop of Westminster from 1865 to 1892. Here is another post from His Eminence which still seems pertinent in today’s culture.

“But yet, the Son of Man, when He cometh, shall He find, think you, faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).

By this question our Divine Lord intends us to understand that, when He comes, He shall find many who do not believe, many who have fallen from the faith. Saint Paul says, “Now the Spirit manifestly saith that, in the last times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1). And again, Saint John says, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist cometh, even now there are become many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). The meaning therefore of our Lord is this: not that when He comes He will not find the Church He founded in all the plenitude of its power, and the faith He revealed in all the fullness of its doctrine. “The city seated upon the hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14). It can never be separated from its Divine Head in heaven. The Spirit of Truth, Who came on the day of Pentecost, according to our Divine Lord’s promise will abide with it forever; therefore when the Son of God shall come at the end of the world, there shall be His Church as in the beginning, in the amplitude of its Divine authority, in the fullness of its Divine faith, and the immutability of its teaching. He will find then the light shining in vain in the midst of many who will be willingly blind; the teacher in the midst of the multitudes, of whom many will be willingly deaf; they will have eyes, and not see; and ears, and hear not; and hearts that will not understand. This, then, is the plain meaning of our Lord’s words.

The rejection of the Divine authority necessarily throws men upon the only alternative – human criticism applied to Scripture, to antiquity, to Fathers, to history, to Councils, and to the acts of the Holy See. There is nothing on the face of the earth which the human reason does not claim to subject to itself, to sit in judgment upon, to test as if it were the creation of man, to decide its credibility as if man were the measure of truth, to pronounce upon whether it be Divine or not. The result of this anarchy of criticism is, that multitudes of men have rejected Christianity altogether. Having applied the false principle of human criticism to the matter of Divine revelation, they have logically and consistently carried out the application of a false premise. The premise is false, its result is logical.

Moderate Rationalism consists in this: retaining a belief in Christianity, or the professing to believe it; but the believing of it only so much as, upon private criticism and its own judgment, the individual mind is disposed to retain. But is it not obvious at once that the human reason can only stand related to the revelation of God, either as a critic, or as a disciple in the presence of a Divine Teacher? The moment the human reason begins to criticize, to test, to examine, to retain, or to reject, it has ceased to be a disciple; it has become the critic; it has ceased to be the learner, it has become the judge; and yet find me, if you can, any middle point where the reason of man can stand between the two extremes of submitting to the Divine authority of faith as a disciple, and of criticizing the whole revelation of God as a judge. There is nothing between the two. He who shall believe all the articles of faith, and yet reject one of them, in that rejection rejects the whole Divine authority upon which all the articles of faith alike depend. This spirit of criticism begins in the rejection of the principle of Divine authority and the adoption of private judgment, which is essentially, though at first covertly, a violation of that Divine authority. The human reason thereby unconsciously assumes to itself to be the test and the measure of that which is to be believed.

The revolt of the intellect against God is against His existence, or against His revelation, or against His Divine authority. And there are two stealthy and incipient forms of intellectual revolt to which Catholics are tempted: the one of diminishing what they believe to a minimum, the other in reducing to the least that which they are bound to submit to in point of authority, or to practice in point of devotion.

07 June 2009

Quicumque Vult

Today for the celebration of the Most Holy Trinity, in the traditional Roman Breviary, the early morning and dawn hours are blessedly lengthy. Matins has three Nocturns and the hour of Prime contains the annually prayed Athanasian Creed. Here is the Latin translation of that Creed – the English translation follows.

Quicumque vult salvus esse, ante omnia opus est, ut teneat Catholicam fidem:
Quam nisi quisque integram inviolatamque servaverit, absque dubio in æternum peribit.
Fides autem Catholica hæc est: ut unum Deum in Trinitate, et Trinitatem in unitate veneremur.
Neque confundentes personas, neque substantiam separantes.
Alia est enim persona Patris, alia Filii, alia Spiritus Sancti:
Sed Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti una est divinitas, æqualis gloria, coæterna maiestas.
Qualis Pater, talis Filius, talis Spiritus Sanctus.
Increatus Pater, increatus Filius, increatus Spiritus Sanctus.
Immensus Pater, immensus Filius, immensus Spiritus Sanctus.
Æternus Pater, æternus Filius, æternus Spiritus Sanctus.
Et tamen non tres æterni, sed unus æternus.
Sicut non tres increati, nec tres immensi, sed unus increatus, et unus immensus.
Similiter omnipotens Pater, omnipotens Filius, omnipotens Spiritus Sanctus.
Et tamen non tres omnipotentes, sed unus omnipotens.
Ita Deus Pater, Deus Filius, Deus Spiritus Sanctus.
Ut tamen non tres Dii, sed unus est Deus.
Ita Dominus Pater, Dominus Filius, Dominus Spiritus Sanctus.
Et tamen non tres Domini, sed unus est Dominus.
Quia, sicut singillatim unamquamque personam Deum ac Dominum confiteri Christiana veritate compellimur: ita tres Deos aut Dominos dicere Catholica religione prohibemur.
Pater a nullo est factus: nec creatus, nec genitus.
Filius a Patre solo est: non factus, nec creatus, sed genitus.
Spiritus Sanctus a Patre et Filio: non factus, nec creatus, nec genitus, sed procedens.
Unus ergo Pater, non tres Patres: unus Filius, non tres Filii: unus Spiritus Sanctus, non tres Spiritus Sancti.
Et in hac Trinitate nihil prius aut posterius, nihil maius aut minus: sed totæ tres personæ coæternæ sibi sunt et coæquales.
Ita ut per omnia, sicut iam supra dictum est, et unitas in Trinitate, et Trinitas in unitate veneranda sit.
Qui vult ergo salvus esse, ita de Trinitate sentiat.
Sed necessarium est ad æternam salutem, ut Incarnationem quoque Domini nostri Iesu Christi fideliter credat.
Est ergo fides recta ut credamus et confiteamur, quia Dominus noster Iesus Christus, Dei Filius, Deus et homo est.
Deus est ex substantia Patris ante sæcula genitus: et homo est ex substantia Matris in sæculo natus.
Perfectus Deus, perfectus homo: ex anima rationali et humana carne subsistens.
Æqualis Patri secundum divinitatem: minor Patre secundum humanitatem.
Qui licet Deus sit et homo, non duo tamen, sed unus est Christus.
Unus autem non conversione divinitatis in carnem, sed assumptione humanitatis in Deum.
Unus omnino, non confusione substantiæ, sed unitate personæ.
Nam sicut anima rationalis et caro unus est homo: ita Deus et homo unus est Christus.
Qui passus est pro salute nostra: descendit ad inferos: tertia die resurrexit a mortuis.
Ascendit ad cælos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis: inde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos.
Ad cuius adventum omnes homines resurgere habent cum corporibus suis; et reddituri sunt de factis propriis rationem.
Et qui bona egerunt, ibunt in vitam æternam: qui vero mala, in ignem æternum.
Hæc est fides Catholica, quam nisi quisque fideliter firmiterque crediderit, salvus esse non poterit.

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith.
Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
And the Catholic Faith is this:That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance.
For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Spirit uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals, but One eternal.
As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but One uncreated, and One incomprehensible.
So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty.
And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty.So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
And yet they are not three Gods, but One God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord.
And yet not three Lords, but One Lord.
For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be both God and Lord,So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion, to say, here be three Gods, or three Lords.
The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is One Father, not three Fathers; One Son, not three Sons; One Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other; none is greater, or less than another;
But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal.
So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man;God, of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Substance of His Mother, born in the world;Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting;Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching his Manhood.
Who although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but One Christ;One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God;One altogether, not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person.
For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is One Christ;Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead.
He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right Hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
At Whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works.
And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.

06 June 2009

All Graces Come From The Heart Of Jesus

Continuing with reflections on the Sacred Heart of Jesus from the Carthusian Order, this next installment is from Dom Dominic of Treves, born in Prussia in 1384, and a Carthusian of both Sierk and Treves.

Out of the good treasure of his heart he bringeth forth that which is good. (Saint Luke 6:45)

If you wish to be easily and thoroughly cleansed from sin, freed from all your imperfections, and enriched with many graces, you must cut off all unnecessary occupations, and surrender yourself to the eternal charity which is taught by the Holy Ghost, in order to become its disciple. Without any effort of the imagination, but by the sole force of the mind and the will, frequently offer, give up, and cast your heart and soul into the most sweet Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ, your Creator, your Redeemer, your crucified Friend -- into His Heart so full of love; into His Heart, the abode of the most Holy Trinity; into His Heart, where "dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead corporally" (Colossians 2:9); into His Heart, through which "we have access both in one Spirit to the Father" (Ephesians 2:18); into His Heart, finally, which, in Its infinite love, contains and embraces all the elect in Heaven and on earth.

Lift up your heart to the bountiful Heart of your God, taking care above all to be very recollected at all times and in all places, especially when you are singing the Divine praises, and during your prayers and other exercises. Thus God commands you in these or similar words: "Come unto Me, and take My yoke upon you (Saint Matthew 11:28,29). Give Me thy heart, and let thine eyes keep My ways (Proverbs 23:26). Put Me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm…" (Canticle of Canticles 8:6). Let your humble reply be: "My heart is ready (Psalm 107:2), I will extol Thee, O God my King, and will bless Thy Name forever, yea forever and ever (Psalm 144:1); I will lift up my hands and my heart unto Thee." And is not this His right since all virtues are found in the Heart of Jesus? There we find mercy, justice, meekness, strength. There we find salvation, the fountain of life, perfect consolation, "the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world" (Saint John 1:9), especially the man who makes this Divine Heart his refuge in trials and sorrows. Truly, all the blessings we can desire come most abundantly from Jesus, and every grace we receive is poured out upon us from no other source than that of His Heart sweeter than honey. His Heart is the furnace of Divine love, always burning with the fire of the Holy Spirit and purifying, kindling and transforming into Himself all who yield themselves to Him, or who wish to be His.

Since all good flows from the most sweet Heart of Jesus, you must offer back to His Heart all the gifts, graces and blessings which have been bestowed upon you and upon all men. You should do this for the greater glory of God and for the benefit of the Holy Church, not attributing to yourself anything of the good you may have done, nor regarding with self-satisfaction the gifts of God, but ascribing all to Him, and returning all to their original Source, which is the Heart of Jesus. Make this offering especially when you say the Gloria Patri or recite psalms and hymns which speak of the glory of God.

Place all your sins in the Heart of Jesus. Through that Heart you should ask for grace and pardon, and should praise and bless God, not only for yourself, but for all who are committed to your care and for the whole Catholic Church, whose triumph you desire, invoking from the depth of your misery the depth of God's mercy ("Deep calleth on deep" Psalm 41:8). Out of gratitude you will then often kiss a picture of the Heart of Jesus, of this most kind Heart, of this Heart in which are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God (Colossians 2:3). If you have not a picture of the Sacred Heart, you can make use of one of Jesus on the Cross.

Desire unceasingly to behold your Savior face to Face. Confide to Him your troubles. Draw His Heart into yours, with Its spirit and Its love, Its graces and Its virtues. Abandon yourself lovingly to It in sorrow and in joy. Confide in It and cling to It. Dwell in the Heart of Jesus, being "careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3), so that He in turn may vouchsafe to take up His abode within your heart. Lastly, sleep and take your rest in the Heart of Jesus. The hearts of mortals will prove false or will forsake you; but the most faithful Heart of Jesus will never abandon you.

Do not neglect moreover to honor devoutly and to invoke the glorious Mother of God, the Mother of mercy, the most sweet Virgin Mary, that she may vouchsafe to obtain for you from the most sweet Heart of her Son all that you need. Offer what you have received to the Heart of Jesus through the blessed hands of His Mother. Beseech her Maternal goodness to help you, so that, with all the saints and elect of God, you may praise and bless the Lord for all the benefits He has bestowed upon you down to the present time, and for all those He will grant to all eternity. Amen.