Archive for the ‘Blesseds’ Category
TODAY, SHROVE TUESDAY (aka “Mardi Gras”) we celebrated the FEAST OF THE HOLY FACE OF JESUS, with Holy Mass and Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. On the first Sunday of every month, we also have Holy Face Devotions with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
DEVOTION TO THE HOLY FACE OF JESUS: This ancient and venerable Catholic practice is rooted in the representation of the Face of Christ said to have been left on the towel or veil used by a holy woman thought to be named Veronica. Through the revelations made in the 1840’s to the Servant of God, Sister Marie of Saint-Pierre and the Holy Family (1816-1848), a Carmelite Nun of Tours, and the work of spreading the devotion by the Venerable Leo Dupont (1797 – 1876) , a layman of Tours, the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face was established in Tours, France in 1884. The members make reparation for the blasphemies hurled at Christ, especially those which blaspheme the Holy Name, and for the profanation of Sundays and Holydays of Obligation. Since St. Therese’s devotion to the Holy Face has become known, this devotion has spread worldwide.
In addition, a devout and pious nun, Blessed Mary Pierina de Micheli (1890-1945), was given many visions of the Lord Jesus and Our Blessed Lady. They urged her to make reparation for the many insults Jesus suffered in His Passion, such as to be slapped, spit upon and kissed by Judas, as well as now being dishonored, by ordained and lay persons alike, in the Blessed Sacrament through neglect, sacrilege, and profanation.
THE FEAST OF THE HOLY FACE ON SHROVE TUESDAY (aka “Mardi Gras”): On April 17th, 1958, His Holiness, the Venerable Pope Pius XII approved the observance of the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus on Shrove Tuesday (Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. His Holiness granted this Feast to honor a request of Our Lord Himself to Blessed Pierina in 1938: “See how I suffer. Nevertheless, I am understood by so few. What gratitude on the part of those who say they love Me. I have given My Heart as a sensible object of My great love for man and I give My Face as a sensible object of My sorrow for the sins of man. I desire that it be honored by a special feast on Tuesday in Quinquagesima (Shrove Tuesday – the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, or Mardi Gras, or Carnivalé). The feast will be preceded by a novena in which the faithful make reparation with Me uniting themselves with My sorrow.”
From the Priest of Salem: Since today, October 5th, is a feria (4th class liturgical day) in the Province of St. Paul-Minneapolis, I kept my usual custom of celebrating the Memorial of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, C.Ss.R. Many of my parishioners are aware of Blessed Seelos, especially those I encourage to ask Fr. Seelos heavenly intercession for illness. Likewise, many of them are of German lineage, so Fr. Seelos and his life as a missionary are very attractive to them. While the Memorial of Blessed Seelos is an Obligatory Memorial in the Archdiocese of New Orleans (and houses of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, or the Redemptorists), and an Optional Memorial in the Ecclesiastical Provice of New Orleans, it certainly can be celebrated anywhere October 5th is a Feria or a Feria with an Optional Memorial.
Having been born and raised in New Orleans (and in later youth, Baton Rouge), as long as I can remember anything about life and the Faith, my family has fostered a loving, heavenly friendship with Father Francis Xavier Seelos, C.Ss.R. (1819-1867), who was beatified by the late Pope John Paul II in the Jubilee Year 2000. Also, my great-grandmother was baptized in St. Alphonsus Church in New Orleans, and my mother and aunt went to school at St. Mary’s in New Orleans. I attribute my ordination to the priesthood to Fr. Seelos’ intercession, and the example of a number of Redemptorist Fathers from my youth (in New Orleans and in Baton Rouge), who have now gone on to their eternal reward.
The Seelos Center’s wonderful website is: www.seelos.org. There you can find the liturgical texts and so much more information.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Father Seelos:
Written to a friend, 1867:
“Continue to work at your sanctification, because only this is God’s will for us; only this is important and momentous and absolutely the one thing necessary.”
To a friend, 1866:
“This is the greatest grace – to persevere to the end in a humble and contrite frame of mind.”
“Therefore, just do not lose courage; and very often ask for the grace of perseverence from the Mother of Jesus, the Refuge of Sinners, because this grace is dispensed in a special way by her.”
“Make it your basic principle of life to accept daily whatever hardships your state in life, your duty, or circumstances bring with them.”
To a friend, 1866: “I have made the rounds of all the houses in the province. Only New Orleans yet remains. I have come here to pass the rest of my days and find a lasting resting place at Saint Mary’s. I feel I have traveled enough. I shall never leave New Orleans.”
FROM HIS SERMONS:
Trust in God’s Mercy!:
It is not your justice but God’s mercy which is the motive of your trust. He is the God of all consolations and the Father of mercies. He does not wish the death of sinners but that they be converted and live. He came to heal the sick and to seek those who were lost. He spared the woman taken in adultery. He showed mercy to the thief crucified with him. He took upon himself our punishment. He prayed for his murderers. He now intercedes for us at the right hand of God. None of the damned was ever lost because his sin was too great, but because his trust was too small!
Oh, if only all the sinners of the whole wide world were present here! Yes, even the greatest, the most hardened, even those close to despair, I would call out to them: The Lord is kind and merciful, patient and full of love. I would show them why the Apostles call God the Father of Mercy, the God of all consolation. I would tell them that the prophet in the Old Testament even said that the earth is full of the mercy of God and that mercy is above all His works.
Oh, Mother of Mercy! You understood the Mercy of God when you cried out in the Magnificat–’His mercy is from generation to generation.’ Obtain for all sinners a childlike confidence in the Mercy of God!
Fools for Christ!:
This life is full of obstacles, difficulties for one whose purpose is the close following of Christ. O how few start on this road of the following of Christ! And for this reason it may sometimes appear that the true Christian life is something excessive. Our poor human nature may even call it at times a stupidity to despise a pleasure for God. It is as if somebody said to us: ‘How stupid you are to deny yourselves all innocent pleasures which others enjoy without scruple of conscience. Do you only want to go to Heaven? O what a dry, uninteresting form of existence!’ To such whisperings of the devil, you must never pay attention.
The Kindness of the Priest:
Want of urbanity effects no good and affability does no evil. The priest who is rough with people does injury to himself and to others; he sins, at least in ignorance, against charity, patience, poverty, humility and self-denial. He scandalizes all who see him and hear him. Hundreds of souls turn away him, from God and from religion. Thousands reject the Church and the sacraments and perish in eternity solely because they have been badly treated by a priest.
A long experience has taught me the great lesson that God leads men in a human manner by other men whom he appointed to be in His place and who should be of the same kindness as he himself was while on earth. Many a soul might be gained for the true faith and eternal life if sometimes a little more charity, a little more self-denial would be evinced, and if persons would be treated as their personal dispositions and human nature would require. It is true that it requires great virtue and experience to find always the right measure in these things, but we cannot fail much if our intention remains pure.
In an 1856 sermon, preached in Dublin while he was Rector of the Catholic University of Ireland, John Henry Newman reflects on a characteristic theme: how do human beings come to accept the Christian faith and the whole of Catholic teaching? According to Newman, Christianity can only be attractive to us – or better, we can come to accept it as true – only if we are faithful to our conscience, always doing, without self-deception, what we know to be right and avoiding everything that is evil. In this way, in the words of St John the Baptist, we ‘prepare the way of the Lord’ in our hearts and ‘make straight his paths’ so that we may embrace Christ as ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’:
The Holy Baptist was sent before our Lord to prepare His way; that is, to be His instrument in rousing, warning, humbling, and inflaming the hearts of men, so that, when He came, they might believe in Him. He Himself is the Author and Finisher of that Faith, of which He is also the Object; but, ordinarily, He does not implant it in us suddenly, but He first creates certain dispositions, and these He carries on to faith as their reward. When then He was about to appear on earth among His chosen people, and to claim for Himself their faith, He made use of St. John first to create in them these necessary dispositions; and therefore it is that, at this season, when we are about to celebrate His birth, we commemorate again and again the great Saint who was His forerunner, as in today’s Gospel, lest we should forget, that, without a due preparation of heart, we cannot hope to obtain and keep the all-important gift of faith. [...]
I think, then, that I shall be taking a subject suitable both to the [Advent] season … if I attempt to set before you, my Brethren, as far as time permits, how it is, humanly speaking, that a man comes to believe the revealed word of God, and why one man believes and another does not. And, in describing the state of mind and of thought which leads to faith, I shall not of course be forgetting that faith, as I have already said, is a supernatural work, and the fruit of divine grace; I only shall be calling your attention to what must be your own part in the process. [...]
[Our Lord] said, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not.” Elsewhere we read, “He wrought not many miracles then, because of their unbelief.” In these passages He implies that hardness of belief is a fault. Elsewhere He praises easiness of belief. For instance, “O woman, great is thy faith.” “Amen, I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel.” “Be of good heart, daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole.” “Thy faith hath made thee safe, go in peace.” “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” [John 4: 48; Matt. 13: 38; 15: 28; 8: 10; 9: 22; Luke 7: 50; Mark 9: 23] I might quote many other passages to the same effect, from the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and St. Paul’s Epistles. [...]
I think I shall not be wrong in understanding [these passages] thus,—that with good dispositions faith is easy; and that without good dispositions, faith is not easy; and that those who were praised for their faith, were such as had already the good dispositions, and that those who were blamed for their unbelief, were such as were wanting in this respect, and would have believed, or believed sooner, had they possessed the necessary dispositions for believing, or a greater share of the them. This is the point I am going to insist on: I am led to it by the Baptist’s especial office of “preparing the way of the Lord”; for by that preparation is meant the creating in the hearts of his hearers the dispositions necessary for faith. And I consider that the same truth is implied in the glorious hymn of the Angels upon Christmas night; for to whom was the Prince of Peace to come? They sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.” [Luke 2: 14] By “good will” is meant, “good disposition”; the peace of the Gospel, the full gifts of the knowledge, and of the power, and of the consolation of Christian Redemption, were to be the reward of men of good dispositions. They were the men to whom the Infant Saviour came; they were those in whom His grace would find its fruit and recompense; they were those, who … would be led on, as the Evangelist says, to “believe in His Name,” and “to be born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” [John 1: 12-13]
Now in order to show what this good will, or good disposition is, and how it bears upon faith, I observe as follows: What is the main guide of the soul, given to the whole race of Adam, outside the true fold of Christ as well as within it, given from the first dawn of reason, given to it in spite of that grievous penalty of ignorance, which is one of the chief miseries of our fallen state? It is the light of conscience, “the true Light,” as the same Evangelist says, in the same passage, “which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.” [John 1: 9] Whether a man be born in pagan darkness, or in some corruption of revealed religion,—whether he has heard the name of the Saviour of the world or not,— whether he be the slave of some superstition, or is in possession of some portions of Scripture, and treats the inspired word as a sort of philosophical book, which he interprets for himself, and comes to certain conclusions about its teaching,—in any case, he has within his breast a certain commanding dictate, not a mere sentiment, not a mere opinion, or impression, or view of things, but a law, an authoritative voice, bidding him do certain things and avoid others. I do not say that its particular injunctions are always clear, or that they are always consistent with each other; but what I am insisting on here is this, that it commands,—that it praises, it blames, it promises, it threatens, it implies a future, and it witnesses the unseen. It is more than a man’s own self. The man himself has not power over it, or only with extreme difficulty; he did not make it, he cannot destroy it. He may silence it in particular cases or directions, he may distort its enunciations, but he cannot, or it is quite the exception if he can, he cannot emancipate himself from it. He can disobey it, he may refuse to use it; but it remains. [...]
As the sunshine implies that the sun is in the heavens, though we may see it not, as a knocking at our doors at night implies the presence of one outside in the dark who asks for admittance, so this Word within us, not only instructs us up to a certain point, but necessarily raises our minds to the idea of a Teacher, an unseen Teacher: and in proportion as we listen to that Word, and use it, not only do we learn more from it, not only do its dictates become clearer, and at its lessons broader, and its principles more consistent, but its very tone is louder and more authoritative and constraining. And thus it is, that to those who use what they have, more is given; for, beginning with obedience, they go on to the intimate perception and belief of one God. His voice within them witnesses to Him, and they believe His own witness about Himself. They believe in His existence, not because others say it, not in the word of man merely, but with a personal apprehension of its truth. This, then, is the first step in those good dispositions which lead to faith in the Gospel.
In this passage from an 1838 sermon, the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) explains that Christian worship should prepare us on earth for meeting Christ our Judge. Only prayer, the sacraments, and profession of the whole mystery of faith can make us ready for that radically new life that awaits us in heaven:
Men sometimes ask, Why need they profess religion? Why need they go to church? Why need they observe certain rites and ceremonies? Why need they watch, pray, fast, and meditate? Why is it not enough to be just, honest, sober, benevolent, and otherwise virtuous? Is not this the true and real worship of God? Is not activity in mind and conduct the most acceptable way of approaching Him? How can they please Him by submitting to certain religious forms, and taking part in certain religious acts? Or if they must do so, why may they not choose their own? Why must they come to church for them? Why must they be partakers in what the Church calls Sacraments?
I answer, they must do so, first of all and especially, because God tells them so to do. But besides this, I observe that we see this plain reason why, that they are one day to change their state of being. They are not to be here for ever. Direct intercourse with God on their part now, prayer and the like, may be necessary to their meeting Him suitably hereafter: and direct intercourse on His part with them, or what we call sacramental communion, may be necessary in some incomprehensible way, even for preparing their very nature to bear the sight of Him.
Let us then take this view of religious service; it is “going out to meet the Bridegroom,” [see Matt. 25: 6] who, if not seen “in His beauty,” [Isaiah 33: 17] will appear in consuming fire. Besides its other momentous reasons, it is a preparation for an awful event, which shall one day be. What it would be to meet Christ at once without preparation, we may learn from what happened even to the Apostles when His glory was suddenly manifested to them. St. Peter said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” [Luke 5: 8] And St. John, “when he saw Him, fell at His feet as dead.” [Rev. 1: 17]
This being the case, it is certainly most merciful in God to vouchsafe to us the means of preparation, and such means as He has actually appointed. When Moses came down from the Mount, and the people were dazzled at his countenance, he put a veil over it. That veil is so far removed in the Gospel, that we are in a state of preparation for its being altogether removed. We are with Moses in the Mount so far, that we have a sight of God; we are with the people beneath it so far, that Christ does not visibly show Himself. He has put a veil on, and He sits among us silently and secretly. When we approach Him, we know it only by faith; and when He manifests Himself to us, it is without our being able to realize to ourselves that manifestation.
Such then is the spirit in which we should come to all His ordinances, considering them as anticipations and first-fruits of that sight of Him which one day must be. When we kneel down in prayer in private, let us think to ourselves, Thus shall I one day kneel down before His very footstool, in this flesh and this blood of mine; and He will be seated over against me, in flesh and blood also, though divine. I come, with the thought of that awful hour before me, I come to confess my sin to Him now, that He may pardon it then, and I say, “O Lord, Holy God, Holy and Strong, Holy and Immortal, in the hour of death and in the day of judgment, deliver us, O Lord!”
Again, when we come to church, then let us say:—The day will be when I shall see Christ surrounded by His Holy Angels. I shall be brought into that blessed company, in which all will be pure, all bright. I come then to learn to endure the sight of the Holy One and His Servants; to nerve myself for a vision which is fearful before it is ecstatic, and which they only enjoy whom it does not consume.
This evening, for the Vigil Mass of All Saints, the side altar of St. Aloysius was filled with the relics of many saints and blesseds. Next to this altar, in front of the statue of St. Michael from Ecuador, the November Book of Remembrance was placed. Here are some photos:
Blessed John XXIII decided to convene the 2nd Vatican Council on October 11, 1962, the traditional feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope John XXIII was attuned to the symbolic connections made through feast days.
A key motivation for calling the ecumenical council was John’s overwhelming desire to extend “an invitation to the faithful of the separated communities to participate with us in this quest for unity and grace?” Beginning the Council on this feast day expressed John’s desire to connect with the Orthodox Church, one of the “separated communities,” for whom the feast was especially significant. The readings for the Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrating the opening of the council were chanted in both Latin and Greek, signifying the unity of both East and West.
Pope John died in June of 1963 and was beatified on September 3, 2000. At that time, Pope John Paul II established October 11 as Blessed John’s feastday, the most significant day of his entire life. On this special day, let us pray for Church unity and peace, all through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and of the Church.
4. The Assumption of Mary into Heaven
If Christ Jesus wishes us to love all the members of His Mystical Body, should we not love above all others her who gave Him the very nature by which He became our Head, the same nature which He uses to communicate His grace to us? We cannot doubt but that the love which we show to his Mother is extremely pleasing to Christ.
We shall manifest our love by extolling the sublime privileges which Jesus has bestowed on His Mother, among which the Assumption is one of the most glorious. If we wish to please our Lord very much, we shall admire the wonderful gifts with which He has lovingly adorned the soul of His Mother. He wishes that we should sing the praises of the Virgin, who was chosen among all women to give the Savior to the world.
“Yes, we shall sing your praises, for you alone have delighted the heart of your God. May you be blessed, for you have believed the word of God, and in you the eternal promises have been fulfilled.”
5. The Coronation of Mary in Heaven
What is the purpose of all the mysteries of Christ? To be the pattern of our supernatural life, the means of our sanctification, the source of all our holiness. To create an eternal and glorious society of brethren who will be like unto Him. For this reason Christ, the new Adam, has associated with Himself Mary, as the new Eve. But she is, much more than Eve, “the Mother of all the living,” the Mother of those who live in the grace of her Son.
And since here below Mary was associated so intimately with all the mysteries of our salvation, at her Assumption into heaven Jesus crowned her not only with glory but also with power; He has placed His Mother on His right hand and has given her the power, in virtue of her unique title of Mother of God, to distribute the treasures of eternal life.
Let us then, full of confidence, pray with the Church: “Show yourself a Mother: Mother of Jesus, by your complete faith in Him, our Mother, by your mercy towards us; ask Christ, Who was born of you, to give us life; and Who willed to be your Son, to receive our prayers through you.”
From Dom Columba Marmion’s “Les Mysteres du Rosaire” originally published by the Abbey of Maredsous in Belgium; translated by the Monks of Marmion Abbey, Aurora, Illinois; copyright by Gerald Benkert, 1949.
Dom Columba Marmion was beatified by Pope John Paul 11 on September 3, 2000.