31 July 2009

I'm Back...

Greetings Everyone!

I have returned from an exhausting but very enjoyable holiday.

I was on a cruise along the Eastern Mediterranean. My flight landed in Venice, Italy which is where I boarded the ship. The ship sailed to the ports of Bari, an old town in southern Italy, to Olympia in Greece, to Izmir in Turkey where I was able to go to the ancient biblical city of Ephesus to see the House of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the tomb of Saint John the Evangelist, and then off to Istanbul, Turkey; the final stop before returning to Venice was the very scenic city of Dubrovnik in Croatia.

Over time I hope to share with you some of the Christian sights from this cruise. As many of you know, I try to adhere to Carthusian spirituality as much as I possibly can in my state in life, and Carthusian spirituality breathes with both lungs of the Church; it has a good mix of the Latin West as well as ingredients from the Christian East. It was very rewarding for me to experience the Christian East on this excursion, something I’m not often exposed to.

In addition to visiting these very exciting cities, there was also a day at sea which was relaxing but also edifying. I sailed on an Italian owned cruise line. On deck 4 of the ship was a Catholic chapel which had the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the Tabernacle. Mass was offered daily in Italian on the ship as one member of the crew was a Roman Catholic priest. The chapel was quite attractive: the Tabernacle of gold was recessed into the wall just to the right of the altar, and on both the left and rights sides of the chapel were individual icons of the apostles running the length of the walls in the chapel.

Stay tuned as I try to share many of the things I learned through tours and tour guides and from publications I purchased.

18 July 2009


Dear Readers,

I will be away and will not be posting on the blog for the next ten days.

Laudetur Iesus Christus!


16 July 2009

On This Feast Day...

Dear Readers,

In honor of this great Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, please take a few moments to visit this link that I have listed on this blog; and please say a prayer for this wonderful community of Carmelite Hermits. Thank you!

Saint Thérèse’s Song of Gratitude to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

From the first moments of my life,
You took me in your arms.
Ever since that day, dear Mother,
You’ve protected me here below.

To preserve my innocence,
You placed me in a soft nest.
You watched over my childhood
In the shade of a holy cloister.

Later, in the days of my youth,
I heard Jesus’ call
In your ineffable tenderness,
You showed Carmel to me.

“Come, my child, be generous,”
You sweetly said to me.
“Near me, you’ll be happy,
Come sacrifice yourself for your Savior.”

Close to you, O my loving Mother!
I’ve found rest for my heart.
I want nothing more on earth.
Jesus alone is all my happiness.

If sometimes I feel sadness
And fear coming to assail me,
Always supporting me in my weakness,
Mother, you deign to bless me.

Grant that I may be faithful
To my divine Spouse Jesus.
One day may His sweet Voice call me
To flyaway among the elect.

Then, no more exile, no more suffering.
In Heaven I’ll keep repeating
The song of my gratitude,
Lovable Queen of Carmel!

15 July 2009

Restoration of the Sacred

Perhaps there is no Order in the Church that seeks to fulfill the vision of Pope Benedict XVI like the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius. They are an Order of priests and brothers whose mission is to restore the sense of the Sacred through liturgy, art, music, and the traditional devotions of the Church. Based out of Saint John Cantius Parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago, they keep a very impressive daily schedule of prayer.

For their liturgies they have various choirs:

The Resurrection Choir which sings the classical liturgical music of the Church with the great composers like Mozart, Haydn, and Schubert.

The Cantate Domino Choir are young women who sing liturgical music composed for treble voices.

The Saint Cecilia Choir’s specialty is Renaissance polyphony.

The Sine Nomine Ensemble are musicians who offer the classical sacred masterpieces.

The Saint Gregory the Great Schola Cantorum are men who sing Gregorian Chant.

The Chorus Innocentium Sanctorum is composed of the youth.

Their schedule of Masses includes the Ordinary Form of the Mass in both Latin and English; and they offer the Extraordinary Form in both the Low and High Mass.

The Canons Regular has done a great deal in training priests to say the Extraordinary Form of Mass by offering instructional workshops and online tutorials through their Sancta Missa website.

Recently they spent a week with the EWTN family, and while there they offered the Solemn Latin Mass in the Ordinary Form, a Pontifical Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form with Bishop Joseph N. Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago as the Celebrant, a Pontifical Solemn Mass in the Ordinary Form with Bishop Perry as the Celebrant, and a Latin High Mass in the Ordinary Form.

The Order is also booming in vocations.

14 July 2009

If you haven't seen it yet...

(Eternal Word Television Network)


(3 hrs) Step into the riveting silence of Philip Groning's stunning new documentary on the spirituality of Carthusian monks. Filmed without narration and very little dialogue at the Monastery of the Grand Chartreuse in France, Mr. Groning captures the brimming vitality of monastic life and the overpowering sound of God. (airs in US only)

Sun 7/19/09 3:30 AM ET / 12:30 AM PT
Sat 7/25/09 8:00 PM ET / 5 PM PT

13 July 2009

Mystic and Founder of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood

Reflecting on her years as a youth, Mother Catherine Aurelia Caouette said: “I could sense the Divine from an early age.” Most unusual about her childhood was her desire to spend long hours in a church for adoration. And this desire was actually manifested in her early years as she would spend hours in church on her knees gazing at the Tabernacle. Her parents noticed in her something special and when they confided to their parish priest about their daughter, he said to them: “You have a child of predilection. Watch carefully over your treasure.” She was permitted to receive her First Communion at age nine which was about three years sooner than the norm for that time.

As a student, she played the role of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, in the play written by Reverend Joseph Sabin Raymond titled: “The Martyrdom of Saint Catherine.” In that play young Aurelia proclaimed with great passion a line which touched the audience, and a line which she would later say that her extraordinary devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ was brought to light at that moment. The line in the play was: “I feel in my soul all the energy of the Divine Blood; it is a generous Blood which desires only to be shed.”

Father Joseph Sabin Raymond became her spiritual director. Because of Aurelia’s incredible sanctity and Father Raymond’s expertise in spiritual matters, he told her to keep a diary to which she was obedient. Because of her obedience to making entries in the diary, the world knows a great deal about her interior life. In October of 1849, she wrote: “Lord, You know what my heart desires most ardently: to be united to You in Your Sacrament of Love. It is so consoling for a miserable creature to possess You. You inflame me with such a burning love, You inspire me with so many beautiful sentiments, that it seems heaven is in my heart. If, however, O my Divine Savior, I am not worthy to possess You now in Your heavenly home, I wish, at least, to go often to adore You in Your Tabernacle, where I have already passed so many happy moments, where You have spoken mysteriously to my soul and where You have so many times given Yourself to me.”

In November of 1849 was this entry: “O my God, I conjure You, increase my desire to love You, to belong to You alone. O my Jesus, I shall love You all my life. You alone shall possess my heart. It is towards You, it is towards heaven that I wish, above all, to elevate my thoughts, my affections. Dispose of my entire being as it shall please You, but grant me, O well beloved Jesus, Your holy love, because without it, life would be too long, too sad. May all my actions be a continual prayer and may my heart be always turned towards You, O Infinite Beauty!”

Keep in mind that these are the writings of a sixteen year old. Feeling an intimate closeness to the Blessed Mother as well, in December of 1849 she wrote: “O Mary, permit me today to bless you in seeing you so pure! I love you, I venerate you, all beautiful Dove, the favorite of God and of His Elect. Amiable Mother, do not fail to cast a tender look upon the wounds of my soul. Draw my heart towards you and have pity on me. O my Mother, I long for you, I burn with the desire of seeing you in heaven.”

In 1850, after finishing her studies, she returned to her family, but remained under the direction of Father Raymond, whereby she wanted to occupy her soul with God alone. The now seventeen year old submitted to Monsignor Raymond a plan for her spiritual life which included meditation, Mass, work, adoration, silence, and spiritual reading.

She very much saw God in His creation. She wrote: “How glorious and sublime it is to enjoy the sight of an exquisite night! This clear sky which is obscured by no cloud, these brilliant stars which ornament the azure firmament, the moon, that queen of night which diffuses its soft light, this calm, this peace which reigns in all places, inspire one with thoughts of heaven. Omnipotent God, how this silence touches my soul! How it fills it with religious sentiments!” Her mysticism is now becoming more apparent.

This was her experience of watching the Tabernacle on Holy Thursday night, as recorded in her diary: “The consideration of the Agony of Jesus has continually occupied my mind. I have mingled the tears of my repentance with the Blood of my Well Beloved. I have suffered with Him. At one o’clock I was left alone for a few moments. I do not know what secret sentiment inspired me, I dared in spite of my fears, to mount to the altar – I kissed it, I bathed it with my tears – I pressed my lips to the door of the Tabernacle which encloses our love. It felt so good to be so near! I blessed, I loved, I thanked, I wept over my numerous sins. As I saw the Divine Blood flow in large drops, I presented to Him our souls. He blessed them in His Sacred Heart. Jesus asked the sacrifice of my entire self, docility and submission. I have the firm conviction that He will make me share some of His sufferings. I can suffer; it is my consolation! I wish only for suffering.”

In her spiritual hunger she wrote: “Father, the remembrance of Communion returns to me unceasingly. I am dying of hunger!”

In 1851 a dire illness kept her in bed for ten months. She said that she was cured miraculously at the end of a novena to Saint Catherine of Siena. She wrote: “It seemed to me that I saw my amiable protectress. Her whiteness equaled that of the lily. She was dazzling with grace and beauty and seemed to be blessing me with her hand in the Name of Jesus Christ, and in a whisper, she told me to hope and love.” This started what would blossom into a great devotion to Saint Catherine of Siena.

In 1853 she made a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Succor in Montreal. She told Father Raymond of her mystical experience there in which she saw the Blessed Virgin clothed in dazzling white, praying to her Son. Our Lady told her to make frequent Communions to console Jesus because of the many souls that forget Him.

Providence led to her to be the Founder of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood, the first contemplative Order of nuns whose beginnings were in St. Hyacinth, Quebec. It was her deep contemplation of Christ’s love through His Passion which led to her great devotion of the Precious Blood.

The cause for her canonization officially began in November of 1984.

11 July 2009

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Extraordinary Form)

Holy Church reminds us today of the effects of the two great Sacraments: Baptism and the Eucharist, which she has conferred at Easter and Pentecost (The Roman Missal 1962).

Introit (Psalm 27:8, 9)
The Lord is the strength of His people, and the protector of the salvation of His anointed: save, O Lord, Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance, and rule them forever. Psalm ibid. 1. Unto Thee will I cry, O Lord: O my God, be not Thou silent to me, lest if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. Glory be to the Father… The Lord is the strength…

The Lord chose us, thus His people in the truest sense are those who also choose Him, those who are baptized, and He is their protector and their Saviour; we are His inheritance. He is our strength because He is our Food which nourishes and strengthens our souls. Prophetically, we accept the word “salvation” as eternal life. The Hebrew text, however, literally translates as the plural “salvations,” which means that we also need to apply these verses from the Psalm to this life also. The Lord saved the Patriarchs, the Prophets, His chosen people during the Exodus, and King David from danger: these are examples of how God is also a Saviour in this life’s occurrences. The Father’s of the Church apply verse 1 of this Psalm, “Until Thee will I cry…” to the suffering, death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. There’s a bit of a twist in Saint Jerome’s Vulgate that deals with the physical senses. “Be not Thou silent to me” deals more with the sense of speech (sileas) as the psalmist pleads with the Lord to not be silent, that is, please answer my prayer. Saint Jerome’s Vulgate, however, deals more with the sense of hearing (obsurdescas) as it translates to mean: “Be not Thou deaf to me.”

O God of hosts, to Whom all that is best doth belong, graft in our hearts the love of Thy Name, and grant us an increase of religion: that Thou mayest foster what is good, and with tender zeal guard what Thou hast fostered. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of…

It is the Name above all names, the Name in which every knee should bow, writes Saint Paul (cf. Philippians 2:9-10). And for those who love Him, it is the Name that protects with a “tender zeal.” For His enemies, however, it is a Name which instills fear: “What have we to do with Thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us?” (Mark 1:24). “That it may be no farther spread among the people, let us threaten them that they speak no more in this Name to any man. And calling them, they charged them not to speak at all, nor teach in the Name of Jesus” (Acts 4:17-18). Perhaps a great way for us to foster love and a healthy fear for the Name of Jesus is through the frequent praying of the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Epistle, Romans 6:3-11
Gospel, Mark 8:1-9

Saint Paul teaches us that through the Sacrament of Baptism we are buried with Christ and rise to a new life in Him. In the early Church, Baptisms were always done by immersion which gives one a real sense of death. The “old man” dies and the “new man” rises to serve sin no more. Being faithful to our Baptism is a serious responsibility: to serve Christ with all our hearts while making every effort to avoid the occasions of sin.

Jesus said: “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus is stating the reality, not what He desires. And in this highly secularized culture of our day, it’s hard to argue with what Jesus said.

There’s a predominating mindset today which accepts that if God is Love, He is Love to a fault. From a Catholic perspective it means: I’m really a good person, but I don’t need to go to Mass. God is Love, therefore no one will go to hell, and if anyone does go to hell, it’s only the really evil people. It’s a nice thought but contrary to the Gospel. There’s power in numbers: If you get enough people to accept something, right or wrong, it changes an entire culture. What we have in today’s culture is a universality that is based on untruth; that Gospel values are insignificant. Jesus said the road to life is narrow and few find it. Few! Being among the few begins with being faithful to our Baptism.

In the Gospel is the very familiar story of the multiplication of loaves and fishes. Jesus desires to feed His flock. It is his His disciples who distribute the loaves and fishes, which points this story to the Eucharist. Jesus feeds us with His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity through the hands of His priests. But how many take those privileged steps to the priest to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament without being faithful to their Baptism, having serious sin on their soul?

What remained was gathered up by the disciples. There’s something to be said here about our moral outlook: avoiding greed, desiring that which is sufficient as our Lord said to Saint Paul: “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Corinthians 12:9). And interestingly for some, the grace of the Eucharist was all that was needed to sustain them in this life. Temporal food was not consumed. Thus, when we pray: “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are asking for what we need as judged and determined by our all-knowing God; we are not asking for any surplus.

One can become discouraged or shy away from using their gifts and talents for fear of rejection, or perhaps embarrassment. Whatever it is that makes us timid, even if well-founded, can be completely transformed when placed into the Hands of Jesus. If we place what little we think we have into the Hands of Jesus, watch what happens. Remember it was fishermen who became the pillars of the Church; it was the language of pagans that turned into the “official” language of worship for the Church. Jesus says to us: “Give Me what you have, and I will use it for the greater glory of the Kingdom.” That is another lesson that can be taken from seven loaves and a few fishes feeding a multitude.

Finally, fifth century theologian, Theodoret, teaches that the works of Jesus in this Gospel passage verifies His promise that if we seek first the Kingdom of God, all necessary things shall be added unto us. And seeking the Kingdom of God “first,” takes us right back to being faithful to our baptism.

10 July 2009

Living Friendship

Real friendship is very rare, extremely rare in history, for it calls for natures that are already very lofty, and it elevates them still more.

Friendship with Jesus, however, is of a far more exquisite quality, and it brings to souls blessings that are infinitely superior. It consecrates friendships that are purely natural, and raises them up and endows them with a supernatural quality. That is why we should cultivate both at the same time.

Unfortunately, this second friendship is difficult, because the object of our love is not such as comes with the scope of our senses, and our relations with Jesus are bound to follow the way of spiritual things. These make little impression on us, just because they do not appeal to our senses. One needs time to understand the things of the soul, and to experience the relations that souls can have with one another. How often to we not say: “I do not forget you; you are always in my thoughts.” But do we reflect on the deep reality that lies beneath our words?

We do not understand, or rather we do not realize, that when two souls are united, they do not lie side by side like two bodies; they are really each in the other. And this is the principle of all love union, and in particular of that friendship which is the highest form of that union. Two friends become one, because their minds and their hearts are in perfect harmony, in the worship of the same truth and in the love of the same good. That community of love – note the word “community” which means “community-unity” and is very significant – increases our life twofold, and makes our being greater with all the greatness of the life of the one we love. That is how, when we love God and when we enter into these relations of friendship with Him, our life takes on a wideness which is measureless, and becomes eternal life.

~Augustin Guillerand~

09 July 2009

The Holy Father Continues to Teach from Heaven

The Lord of the Work

A constant danger for apostolic workers is to become so involved in their activity for the Lord that they forget that Lord is in every activity.

They must be aware, therefore, of the ever-increasing importance of prayer in their lives and must learn to devote themselves to it generously. To accomplish that, they need silence in their entire being, which requires regular periods of silence and personal discipline to encourage contact with God.

Prayer is the First Priority

Silence is vital space devoted to the Lord, in an atmosphere of listening to His word and assimilating it; it is a sanctuary of prayer, the hearth of reflection and contemplation. Jesus did not call the Twelve only to “send them forth to preach and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out devils” but, above all, so that “they should be with Him.”

Being with Jesus: let this be your greatest desire. Be with Him as the Apostles were and, earlier, in Nazareth, Mary and Joseph. Speak to Him in an intimate way, listen to Him, and follow Him docilely: this is not only a comprehensible requirement for those who want to follow the Lord; it is also an indispensable condition of all authentic and credible evangelization. He is an empty preacher of the Word – Saint Augustine aptly observes – who does not first listen to it within himself.

Frequent practice of the Sacrament of Repentance, devout participation in the Holy Mass, celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, the Lectio Divina, Eucharistic worship, the Spiritual Exercises, reciting the Rosary – should be sought and cherished by you.

Easily Avoiding Temptation

The soul that lives habitually in the presence of God and is filled with the warmth of His charity will easily avoid temptation to biases and conflicts that carry the risk of divisiveness.

The Sweetness of Prayer

You have felt an urgent need to encounter the Absolute, and so you have discovered the importance of inwardness, of silence, of meditation, in enabling one to grasp a definitive, reconciling sense of existence. You have tasted the sweetness of prayer and of the constantly renewed, enduring reconciliation of friendship with the Lord, fixed in your hearts by an existential attitude of humble and industrious obedience to the Heavenly Father. With Saint Benedict, then, I will address to you the eternal invitation: “Ausculta, O fili, verba Magistri”: Listen, O my child, to the teachings of the Master, and make your hearts attentive in the silence of prayer, to return, through the effort of docile obedience to the sound precepts, to Him, from Whom denial or rebellion has distanced us. Present yourselves often before the inner Teacher, and those who represent Him, in the attitude of a true disciple, who knows how to be silent and how to listen.

~Pope John Paul II~

08 July 2009

"The Nine First Fridays of the Sacred Heart have Saved You"

Bruno Cornacchiola, although a baptized Catholic, did not lead a model Christian lifestyle. He would eventually leave the Church at a time when he was fighting in the Spanish Civil War. During this time he decided to adhere to Protestant beliefs and eventually became a Seventh Day Adventist.

He was an abusive husband to his Catholic wife, had affairs with other women and habitually spoke using obscenities. During a picnic with his three children, he was preparing a speech that he planned to give which attacked the Church’s teaching on the Immaculate Conception. On the way to the picnic he approached a statue of Our Blessed Lady. He decided to vandalize it by writing on the base: “You are neither Virgin nor Mother.”

Bruno’s hatred for the Catholic Church even extended to a plan in which he would assassinate Pope Pius XII. He planned to carry it out on 8 September 1947, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

During the picnic with his children, one of them came to him and asked him to help them find the ball they were playing with. Bruno put down the speech he was preparing along with his Protestant bible and helped them search for the missing ball. While searching he saw his youngest son kneeling in prayer at the entrance of a cave. He was so deep in prayer that it’s possible he was in ecstasy. He kept repeating the words, “Beautiful Lady!” This scene frightened Bruno. Not long after, Bruno’s remaining two children also dropped to their knees and seemed to be in ecstatic prayer. Then all three of his children were saying: “Beautiful Lady!” Bruno tried to nudge them and distract them but with no success.

Bruno then went blind but not in total darkness, instead his eyes were filled with light and he felt weightless. When he regained his sight he also saw in the cave the beautiful Lady. He described her as a woman with black hair, a white dress with a rose sash and a green mantle. The beautiful Lady identified herself as: “Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse and Temple of the Holy Spirit.” She wasn’t wearing any shoes and on her feet was a black cloth which had on it a smashed Crucifix.

Here’s what the Lady said: “I am the one that is of the Divine Trinity. I am the Virgin of the Revelation. Return to the pure source of the Gospel.” Then saying directly to Bruno: “You persecute me – enough of it now! Enter into the true fold, which is the Celestial Court on earth. The nine first Fridays of the Sacred Heart have saved you, which your faithful wife persuaded you to observe, before you walked down the road of lies. Live the divine doctrine. Practice Christianity. Live the faith. The Hail Marys that you pray with faith and love are like golden arrows that go straight to the Heart of Jesus. Pray much and recite the Rosary for the conversion of sinners. I promise this special favor: with this sinful soil, I will perform great miracles for the conversion of sinners and unbelievers.” She was referring to the soil of the cave. She continued: “Science will deny God and refuse His calls. My body could not and did not decay. I was Assumed into heaven by my Son and the angels. You must go to the Holy Father, the Pope, the Supreme Pastor of Christianity and personally tell him my message. Bring it to his attention.”

When Our Lady was finished, she smiled at Bruno and disappeared as she walked through the walls of the grotto.

After a very intense investigation in which Bruno and his children were interrogated separately, no differences in their accounts were discovered. The Vicariate of Rome approved the apparition. On 5 October 1947, a special statue was made and blessed by Pope Pius XII.

Of course, all of this led to Bruno’s return to the Church. On 9 December 1949, Bruno along with others were invited to pray the Rosary with Pope Pius XII in his private chapel. After praying the Rosary His Holiness asked if anyone would like to speak with him. Bruno, without hesitation, knelt before the Holy Father, showing him the dagger he planned to use to kill him. Bruno did so with tears flowing from his eyes. He begged the Pope for his forgiveness which he naturally granted.

In a more recent interview, Bruno Cornacchiola also revealed this among other things that Our Lady spoke of: “The Virgin spoke to me of Christian unity. She stated clearly that there is only one Church, and only one true apostolic faith. She reveals that Christian unity lies in the understanding that there is one flock, and one Church, with one leader in the Church.”

06 July 2009

A Short Life Larger Than Life

At the Canonization Mass of Maria Goretti, Pope Pius XII said: “There is still in this world, apparently sunk and immersed in the worship of pleasure, not only a meager little band of chosen souls who thirst for heaven and its pure air -- but a crowd, nay, an immense multitude on whom the supernatural fragrance of Christian purity exercise an irresistible and reassuring fascination. Know that above the unhealthy marshes and filth of the world, stretches an immense heaven of beauty. It is the heaven which fascinated little Maria; the heaven to which she longed to ascend by the only road that leads there, which is, religion, the love of Christ, and the heroic observance of His Commandments. We greet you, O beautiful and lovable saint! Martyr on earth and angel in heaven, look down from your glory on this people, which loves you, which venerates, glorifies and exalts you. On your forehead you bear the full brilliant and victorious name of Christ.”

In more recent times, Pope John Paul II, speaking about Saint Maria Goretti, said: “Her martyrdom reminds us that the human being is not fulfilled by following pleasurable impulses, but by living his life in love and responsibility.”

That perhaps is the lesson that cries out from this saintly youth more than all others: Being responsible Christians, being all that God made us to be, following in the footsteps of Christ, hearing and accepting the call to holiness.

I suspect that if Maria Goretti were living in our world today, she would find reading the breviary, praying the Rosary, daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, spending time with our Lord in the Scriptures much more preferable and fruitful activities than all those “pleasurable impulses” that seem to take precedence over our own reaching out to touch the garment of Jesus. Pope Pius XII spoke of “an immense multitude” who are fascinated by the “supernatural fragrances” of saintly people. Indeed, the funeral of Pope John Paul II was the largest in this world’s history. There was mass media coverage of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta when she passed from this world. The limited resources of the 1960’s, compared to today’s technology, gave its all for the passing of Padre Pio.

These great Christian heroes seem to fascinate the world, and when one passes from this life we have a tendency to wait and see who God will raise up next. The truth is that God calls all of us to extraordinary sanctity; maybe not on the world stage, for that requires supernatural humility, but certainly in our own little corner of the world.

Alessandro Serenelli, Maria’s murderer, had a major conversion experience during his incarceration which he credits to a dream he had of Maria Goretti. In the dream he said that Maria had handed to him some lilies that she was gathering, and the lilies suddenly appeared to have a heavenly radiance, and he felt her forgiveness. No surprise that he would dream of her forgiveness since she was concerned for his soul as he was attacking her. She said: “No Alessandro! It is a sin. You will go to hell.” Alessandro Serenelli became a model prisoner and was released from prison three years before his sentence was completed. Unfortunately Maria’s forgiveness did not stretch out to the rest of the community, and Alessandro was forced to live as a snubbed vagabond doing some gardening work at various monasteries. It was at a Capuchin community where he died at the age of 87.

Saint Maria Goretti is a model for all of us, teaching us to prefer Christ to all things. She is also a wonderful role model for our youth, teaching them the importance of chastity and their own dignity as children of God.

Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us!

04 July 2009

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (Extraordinary Form)

“The Liturgy presents to us today a great lesson in Christian charity. We must live in union with one another. We are children of God, and we must love Him and our neighbour, who participates as we do in the divine nature” (The Roman Missal 1962).

Introit (Psalm 26:7, 9)
“Hear, O Lord, my voice with which I have cried to Thee: be Thou my helper, forsake me not, do not Thou despise me, O God my Saviour.” Psalm ibid. 1. “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? Glory be to the Father… -- Hear, O Lord, my voice…”

Great words to begin a Liturgy! Because of our sinfulness, we hope for God’s leniency and His mercy. He Who is Love surely cannot despise. Saint Augustine tells us that God gives both light and strength, so that no enemy can hurt His servants. And with confidence in Him, we praise Him with the Trinitarian doxology: Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.

“O God, Who hast prepared for them that love Thee such good things as pass understanding: pour into our hearts such love towards Thee, that we, loving Thee in all things and above all things, may obtain Thy promises which exceed all that we can desire. Through our Lord…”

This prayer reflects the words found in 1 Corinthians 2:9. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the mystery of blessed communion with God and all who are in Christ is beyond all understanding and description. Scripture speaks of it in images: life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine of the kingdom, the Father’s house, the heavenly Jerusalem, and paradise (cf. CCC 1027). Perhaps we could relate to this better by reflecting on when we were children on Christmas Eve. We knew some goodies were coming our way but were never quite sure what it would be. Now, as adults, but still children of God, this prayer calls us to not only live with that same anticipation and excitement as kids on Christmas Eve, but also to fall head over heels in love with the gift Giver.

Epistle, 1 Peter 3:8-15
The Epistle begins with that beautiful Latin word, “Carissimi” – “Beloved” or even “Dearly Beloved”; and yet it sets the tone for what Saint Peter means by “Be ye all of one mind.” We need to be loved and we need to love. Peter expounds on this by giving examples of how we go about doing that: “Having compassion on one another, being lovers of the brotherhood,” or being lovers of the family of God; being “modest, humble, not rendering evil for evil” but instead giving a “blessing.” This sort of echoes the words of the psalmist: “Turn away from evil and do good” (Psalm 33:15).

These instructions come from our first Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ on earth. These are not mere suggestions, but, as he tells us, “unto this you are called.” These are heavenly commands. We live in a trouble world that could use a heaping dose of love; but when engaged in spiritual battle, there’s bound to be suffering but Saint Peter tells us that when that happens, “blessed are ye.”

He closes with the words we heard often in our modern day from Pope John Paul II: “Be not afraid.” Let us sanctify the Lord in our hearts.

Gospel, Saint Matthew 5:20-24
Our Lord Jesus Christ continues with same theme of Saint Peter. The example that we see offered to us in this very secularized culture is one of which our Saviour instructs us to rise above: “Except your justice abound more than that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” Strong words! The Scribes and Pharisees were actually held in great honor by many. We see something quite similar today. People are chasing after an ideology that is very appealing: relativism, being my own god, my own pope, I will decide what’s good for me and what isn’t; there is no such thing as absolute truth. Jesus not only calls us to something different, but something quite difficult and elevated. Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us that our Redeemer delivered such strong words to show us that He desires us to live at a great height of perfection. It is not enough to simply believe, but to keep even the very least of His Commandments. We do this through grace. It is the power of the Spirit of the law at work in the letter of the law.

Jesus also touches on the subject of anger. He says that “whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment.” Anger comes in stages but need not ever leave the first stage. Harboring anger leads to more serious stages even to the point to which our Lord says “shall be in danger of hell fire.” Allowing anger to fester makes it quite difficult to heed to Saint Peter’s words: “Sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts.”

“If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee, leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother.” Jesus, even after all His suffering before arriving at Calvary, harbored no anger, nor had anything against anyone; and thus He was able to offer the gift of Himself on the Altar of the Cross. Cultivating a humble heart and the process of conversion of heart is a daily, ongoing process.

03 July 2009

Perfect Love

During the time for ordained prayer, the devil is wont to arrive in the soul, causing much more conflict and trouble than when the soul is not occupied in prayer. This he does in order that holy prayer may become tedious to the soul.

The devil often places himself upon the tongues of creatures, causing them to chatter nonsensically, with the purpose of preventing the prayer of the soul.

Do not think that the soul receives… ardor and nourishment from prayer, if she prays only vocally, as do many souls whose prayer are words rather than love. But if you ask Me, whether the soul should abandon vocal prayer, I should reply, “No.” The soul should advance by degrees, and I know well that, just as the soul is at first imperfect, and afterwards perfect, so also is it with her prayer. She should nevertheless continue in vocal prayer, while she is yet imperfect, so as not to fall into idleness. But she should not say her vocal prayers without joining them to mental prayer, that is to say, that while she is reciting, she should endeavor to elevate her mind in My love, with the consideration of her own defects and of the Blood of My only-begotten Son, wherein she finds the breadth of My charity, and the remission of her sins.

I do not wish defects to be considered in particular, but in general, so that the mind may not be contaminated by the remembrance of particular and hideous sins. But as I said, I do not wish the soul to consider her sins, either in general or in particular, without also remembering the Blood and the broadness of My mercy, for fear that otherwise she should be brought to confusion. And together with confusion would come the devil, who has caused it. You know that the pride of the devil cannot resist the humble mind, nor can any confusion of spirit be greater than the broadness of My good mercy, if the soul will only truly hope therein.

The soul… should season the knowledge of herself with the knowledge of My goodness, and then vocal prayer will be of use to the soul who makes it, and pleasing to Me, and she will arrive, from the vocal imperfect prayer, exercised with perseverance, at perfect mental prayer.

Perfect prayer is not attained to through many words, but through affection of desire, the soul raising herself to Me, with knowledge of herself and of My mercy. Thus she will exercise together mental and vocal prayer, for, even as the active and contemplative life is one, so are they.

The soul who wishes to arise above imperfection should await My Providence in the House of Self-Knowledge, with the light of faith, as did the disciples, who remained in the house in perseverance and in watching, and in humble and continual prayer, awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit. She should remain fasting and watching, the eye of her intellect fastened on the doctrine of My Truth, and she will become humble because she will know herself in humble and continual prayer and holy and true desire.

It now remains to be told to you how it can be seen that souls have arrived at perfect love. This is seen by the same sign that was given to the holy disciples after they had received the Holy Spirit, when they came forth from the house, and fearlessly announced the doctrine of My Word, My only-begotten Son, not fearing pain, but rather glorifying therein. They did not mind going before the tyrants of the world, to announce to them the truth, for the glory and praise of My Name. So the soul, who has awaited Me in self-knowledge, receives Me, on My return to her, with the fire of charity, in which charity, while still remaining in the house with perseverance, she conceives the virtues by affection of love, participating in My power; with which power and virtues she overrules and conquers her own sensitive passions, and through which charity she participates in the wisdom of My Son, in which she sees and knows, with the eye of her intellect, My Truth and the deceptions of spiritual self-love, that is, the imperfect love of her own consolations, and she also knows the malice and deceit of the devil, which he practices on those souls who are bound by imperfect love. She therefore arises, with hatred of that imperfection and with love of perfection, and through this charity, which is of the Holy Spirit, she participates in His will, and coming out of the house through My Name, she brings forth the virtues on her neighbor.

~Dialogue of Saint Catherine of Siena~

02 July 2009

Vianney, Curé of Ars

The folks at Saint Luke Productions are producing the play “Vianney, Curé of Ars” which will be touring the United States. The Curé d’Ars role is being played by a familiar name to Catholic drama, Leonardo Defilippis. He is also the Founder and Director of Saint Luke Productions. On both film and stage he has played various Catholic heroes like John of the Cross and Maximilian Kolbe. Saint Luke Productions also received much attention in recent history with the film, “Thérèse.” You can look at the touring schedule on their website as well as schedule a performance in your area.

Revisiting Sister Nazarena

Back on 30 December 2008, I posted a story on Julia Crotta, also known in religious life as Sister Nazarena. She was a Camaldolese recluse. My post was based on a book I read titled, “Nazarena, an American Anchoress.” Time Magazine also did a story on her. Here’s a look back to that article from 13 April 1962.

In a coarse sackcloth robe worn over a hairshirt, she sits alone in her stone-floored cell. Her food is bread, water, an occasional cooked vegetable. Through a small grilled window she may look into a chapel, and down a narrow passageway there is another barred window where she takes her daily communion. In the cell is a straight chair, a table, a board that serves as her bed and a small washroom with a cold shower. Not since she closed the door behind her 16 years ago has she ever left this confined area.

This austere regime belongs to a 54-year-old American woman, one of the nuns in the Camaldolese Convent in the fashionable Aventine Hill section of Rome. Her name is Julia Crotta; to her sister nuns, who may now and then hear her cough or murmur but never see her, she is known as Sister Nazarena.

All the Camaldolese sisters rise at 4 for prayer, observe silence for most of the day, abstain entirely from meat during Lent and Advent. But Sister Nazarena practices a degree of asceticism that is extraordinary even for her order. She is one of the few nuns in the world with ecclesiastical permission to attempt the hermitlike life known as reclusion. Her only contacts with the outside world are with the priest who daily gives her communion and with the convent abbess who visits her from time to time. This week Sister Nazarena and her sister nuns are busy cutting palm leaves for the Vatican's Palm Sunday. It is a time of "extra strict silence."

Not even her family quite understands why Julia Crotta undertook so arduous a vocation. She was born and raised in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Julia, her family remembers, was a cheerful, fun-loving girl with an aptitude for music. She studied violin and theory at the Yale School of Music, but left to take a four-year liberal arts course at New Haven's Albertus Magnus College for women. "She loved life, dancing, good movies and good clothes," says a brother-in-law.

After college, Julia taught violin and piano, worked in Manhattan. She was briefly engaged to marry, but broke it off and joined a convent of Carmelite nuns in Newport, R.I. The Carmelites were not strict enough for her; she left the convent and went to Rome, where a priest advised her to try the Camaldolese. In 1945 her abbess gave Sister Nazarena permission to attempt reclusion.

Rome's Camaldolese sisters make ends meet by cooking and scrubbing for a local pensioner, and laundering altar linens for a nearby Benedictine seminary. Sister Nazarena shares in the convent work by sewing and cutting the palms; her materials are delivered to her cell by a nun who taps at her door, whispers "Deo gratias," waits long enough for Sister Nazarena to hide in a recess of her cell, then sets the cloth or fronds inside the door.

At night, long after the other nuns have retired, she stays awake to pray; in her cell she has a "discipline" with the tiny whip that certain religious use to scourge themselves in mortification. In her solitary life, Sister Nazarena prays, explains one nun, "for you, for me, for all of us." Solitude with her God seems to agree with her. "She is the most serene person I have ever known," says her abbess Mother Hildegarde. "She is a saint."

01 July 2009

Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Blood of Christ, only-begotten Son of the eternal Father, save us.
Blood of Christ, Incarnate Word of God, save us.
Blood of Christ, of the New and Eternal Testament, save us.
Blood of Christ, falling upon the earth in Agony, save us.
Blood of Christ, shed profusely in the Scourging, save us.
Blood of Christ, flowing forth in the Crowning with Thorns, save us.
Blood of Christ, poured out on the Cross, save us.
Blood of Christ, price of our salvation, save us.
Blood of Christ, without which there is no forgiveness, save us.
Blood of Christ, Eucharistic drink and refreshment of souls, save us.
Blood of Christ, stream of mercy, save us.
Blood of Christ, Victor over demons, save us.
Blood of Christ, courage of Martyrs, save us.
Blood of Christ, strength of Confessors, save us.
Blood of Christ, bringing forth virgins, save us.
Blood of Christ, help of those in peril, save us.
Blood of Christ, relief of the burdened, save us.
Blood of Christ, solace in sorrow, save us.
Blood of Christ, hope of the penitent, save us.
Blood of Christ, consolation of the dying, save us.
Blood of Christ, peace and tenderness of hearts, save us.
Blood of Christ, pledge of eternal life, save us.
Blood of Christ, freeing souls from purgatory, save us.
Blood of Christ, most worthy of all glory and honor, save us.

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Lord.

You have redeemed us, O Lord, in Your Blood. And made us, for our God, a Kingdom.

Let us pray. Almighty and eternal God, You have appointed Your only-begotten Son the Redeemer of the world and willed to be appeased by His Blood. Grant, we beg of You, that we may worthily adore this price of our salvation and through its power be safeguarded from the evils of the present life so that we may rejoice in its fruits forever in heaven. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Solemnity of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ

In Egypt, at midnight, God threatened the Egyptians with the tenth plague, by which their first-born should perish, because they kept in captivity His first-born people. But, lest the beloved Jews should share their danger, because they were all in the same place, He found, in His wisdom, a remedy. Behold then a wonderful figure, that you may learn His power in truth. The anger of the divine indignation was expected, and the Angel of Death circled over every home. What, therefore, did Moses do? Kill, he said, a yearling lamb, and sprinkle the doors with its blood. What did you say, Moses? Is the blood of a sheep likely to deliver a reasoning man? In truth, he says, not by what that blood is in itself, but because by it, there is displayed a figure of the Blood of the Lord.

For as the statues of monarchs, mindless and speechless images though they are, have sometimes been a helpful refuge to men endowed with soul and reason, not because they are made of bronze, but because the likeness they bear is a King's. And just so did this unconscious blood deliver the lives of men, not because it was blood, but because it foreshadowed the shedding of the Blood of Jesus. On that night in Egypt, when the destroying Angel saw the blood upon the lintel and on the two side-posts, he passed over the door, and dared not to enter into the house. Even so now much more will the destroyer of souls flee away when he sees, not the lintel and the two side-posts sprinkled with the blood of a lamb, but the mouth of the faithful Christian, the living dwelling of the Holy Spirit, shining with the Blood of the True Messiah. For if the Angel stopped before the type, how much more shall the enemy tremble if he should perceive the reality itself? Would you like to hear more of the power of that Blood? I am willing. Consider from what source it wells up, from what fountain it springs forth. Its fountain is the Cross itself, its source is the Side of the Lord. The soldier opened His Side, and laid open the wall of that holy Temple; and I have found that most noble treasure, and I rejoice to discover the glittering riches.

And so was it done concerning that Lamb; the Jews killed a sheep, and I have learned the value of the sacrament. From the Side flowed forth Blood and Water. I would not, my hearer, that you should pass by the depths of such a mystery as this without pausing; for I have yet a mystical and mysterious discourse to deliver. I have said that the Water and Blood showed symbolically baptism and the sacraments. For from these, the holy Church was founded by the laver of regeneration, and the renovation of the Holy Spirit. Through baptism, I say, and through the sacraments, which seem to have issued from His Side. It was therefore out of the Side of Christ that the Church was created, just as it was out of the side of Adam that Eve was raised up to be his bride. This is the reason why Paul says, no doubt in allusion to his Side: We are members of His Body, and of His Bones. For even as God made the woman Eve out of the rib which He had taken out of the side of Adam, so has Christ made the Church out of the Blood and Water which He made to flow for us out of His own Side.

Saint John Chrysostom