Archive for the ‘Blesseds’ Category

Rosary Prayers of Blessed Bartolo Longo

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

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Rosary Prayers of Blessed Bartolo Longo

The Joyful Mysteries

First Joyful Mystery. The Annunciation.
O Mary, immaculate lily, through the joy you felt when at the Angel’s message you became the Mother of God: obtain for me the virtue of purity and of humility, that I may become your worthy son/daughter and the brother/sister of Jesus.

Second Joyful Mystery. The Visitation.
O Mary, Mother of grace and of charity, through the joy you felt when, upon visiting Elizabeth, you brought joy to the home of Zechariah and the Baptist was sanctified at the sound of your voice: visit my soul, let it hear your Motherly voice, and fill it with love of God and love of neighbour.

Third Joyful Mystery. The Birth of Jesus.
O Mary, mirror of humility and of poverty, through the joy you felt when, turned away by the inhabitants of Bethlehem and forced to take refuge in a stable from the cold and darkness, you gave birth to the Divine Redeemer: grant that by accepting scorn and poverty I remain faithful to grace and gain the reward of eternal salvation by means of good works.

Fourth Joyful Mystery. The Presentation.
O Mary, the perfect model of obedience and of sacrifice, you who offered Jesus to the Eternal Father on our behalf: place your Child upon my bosom, that, together with you, I may offer him the sacrifice of my passions and of my whole being.

Fifth Joyful Mystery. The Finding in the Temple.
O Mary, a shining example of patience, through the joy you felt when, after three days of anxiously searching, you found Jesus in the Temple: grant that I too, seeking Jesus with love in every moment of my life in imitation of you, may find him at last in your arms at the hour of my death, never to lose him again.

 

The Sorrowful Mysteries

First Sorrowful Mystery. The Agony in the Garden.
O Grieving Virgin, through the anguish of that saddest of nights in which Jesus in agony in the garden sweat blood at the sight of my sins, and, betrayed, was tied as a criminal: obtain for me the perfect sorrow of my sins and perseverance in prayer, that I may never again betray his most loving Heart.

Second Sorrowful Mystery. The Scourging at the Pillar.
O most grieving Mother, through the pain you felt in knowing that your innocent and holy Son had been publicly stripped and bloodily scourged with biting whips: obtain for me the spirit of true repentance and the virtue of chastity and of the mortification of the senses.

Third Sorrowful Mystery. The Crowning with Thorns.
O Mother of sorrows, through the atrocious torment which pierced your heart when you saw Jesus, the King of glory, then become the King of suffering, crowned with thorns and shame, with a reed in his hands, derided by the crowd: ah!, encircle my intellect and my heart with these very thorns, that I may never offend him again with evil thoughts and sentiments; and obtain for me pureness in my thoughts and the right intentions in my actions.

Fourth Sorrowful Mystery. The Carrying of the Cross.
O grieving Mother, through the martyrdom of your heart, when you met your Son weighed down beneath the heavy cross, staining the road to Calvary with his blood: grant that I, clinging to Jesus’ cross, follow behind, daily carrying the cross of my troubles with meekness and with perfect conformity to the will of God.

Fifth Sorrowful Mystery. The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord.
O Queen of the Martyrs, through the extreme spasm of your heart when you witnessed Jesus dying on the cross in the midst of a thousand torments, forsaken and without comfort: grant that I die to myself, to the world and to sin, and live in the heart of Jesus alone, having abandoned myself in his most holy arms.

The Glorious Mysteries

First Glorious Mystery. The Resurrection.
O Most Holy Mother of God, through the joy you felt in seeing Jesus risen from the dead and surrounded in glory: obtain for me that I too rise from the death of sin to a life of grace and of faith, and may persevere in it till my very last breath.

Second Glorious Mystery. The Ascension.
O Queen of the Heavens, through the joy you experienced in seeing Jesus rising to Heaven triumphant as King of the Universe and as our Advocate by his Father: obtain his blessing for me also, so that I be changed by him from a sinner into a saint; moreover, by separating me from all earthly affection, through the virtue of hope may he kindle in me the desire of paradise.

Third Glorious Mystery. The Descent of the Holy Spirit.
O Queen of the Universe, through the joy you felt when the Holy Spirit descended on you and on the Apostles: grant that he come into my soul and fill it with his holy gifts and the heavenly fruits of charity, of joy, of patience and of peace.

Fourth Glorious Mystery. The Assumption.
O Queen, Lady of the Angels, through the joy you experienced when you were taken into heaven body and soul: come with Jesus to assist me at the hour of my death, and lead me with you to everlasting happiness.
Fifth Glorious Mystery. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
O Queen of all the Saints, and the honour and delight of humankind, through the joy you felt when the Most Holy Trinity crowned you as Queen of Heaven and Earth: inflame me with your love and with the love of God, that I may love and serve you on earth, and glorify you, O Queen of my heart, in heaven.

 

 

Blessed Bartolo Longo and Our Lady of the Rosary

Monday, October 3rd, 2016
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The tomb of Blessed Bartolo Longo is in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Pompeii. About three million pilgrims visit the basilica each year.Pompeii has more to offer than dusty ruins filled with plaster casts of people, and one unfortunate puppy, frozen in time. It is also, coincidently, home to the only church in Christendom built by an ex-Satanist.
It’s the same old story: boy from a religious family goes away to university, falls in with a bunch of New Age Satanists, becomes a satanic high priest, thinks better of his decision and ultimately reverts to the Church; it’s the basic satanic-rags-to-saintly-riches story.
I didn’t believe this story when I first learned about Blessed Bartolo Longo either. Having grown up the son of Italian immigrants, I was regaled with all of the lurid stories of El Barto’s excesses, debauchery and general dissoluteness. I came to Pompeii not just for the ruins but also to see if the stories were true.
Bartolo Longo was born on February 10 1841 to a wealthy family in the small town of Latiano, near Brindisi in southern Italy. His parents, Dr Bartolomeo Longo and Antonina Luparelli, were devout Catholics who prayed the rosary together daily.
When Longo’s mother died in 1851, he slowly drifted away from his Catholic faith. He was left to his own devices when he studied law at the University of Naples and became involved with a New Age pagan group which ultimately “ordained” him a satanist priest. He participated in séances, fortune-telling and the de rigueur orgies. Unsatisfied with merely practising his new pagan religion, he felt it important to publicly ridicule Christianity and did everything within his power to subvert Catholic influence. He even convinced many other Catholics to leave the Church and participate in occult rites.
But none of these activities brought him joy. In fact, his life was marked by extreme depression, paranoia, confusion and nervousness. He even began to show signs of demonic obsession, as opposed to demonic possession, which included being inflicted by diabolical visions and continually declining poor health. He ultimately experienced a mental breakdown.
In his despair, he heard the voice of his deceased father urging him to “Return to God! Return to God!” In fear and desperation, Longo turned to Professor Vincenzo Pepe, a friend from his home town, for guidance. Vincenzo convinced Longo to abandon Satan and introduced him to the Dominican priest, Fr Alberto Radente. Fr Radente heard his Confession and helped him to further reclaim his life.
One evening, as he walked near-chapel at Pompeii, Bartolo had a profound mystical experience. He wrote: “As I pondered over my condition, I experienced a deep sense of despair and almost committed suicide. Then I heard an echo in my ear of the voice of Friar Alberto repeating the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary: ‘If you seek salvation, promulgate the rosary. This is Mary’s own promise.’ These words illumined my soul. I went on my knees. ‘If it is true. I will not leave this valley until I have propagated your rosary.'”
To prove his new-found commitment to Christ and His Church Bartolo even attended a séance. In the midst of it, he stood and raised a medal of the Blessed Virgin Mother and cried out: “I renounce spiritism because it is nothing but a maze of error and falsehood.”
On March 25 1871, as part of his self-imposed penance, Longo became a Third Order Dominican, taking the name Brother Rosario in honour of the rosary. He joined a charitable group in Pompeii and worked alongside Countess Mariana di Fusco, a wealthy local widow whom he married a year later on Pope Leo XIII’s recommendation.
The happy couple decided to start a confraternity of the rosary. To serve as a spiritual focus for this group, Bartolo needed a painting of the Blessed Virgin. Sister Maria Concetta de Litala of the Monastery of the Rosary at Porta Medina offered him one that she got at a Neapolitan junk shop. She paid only 3.40 lire – a tiny, insignificant sum even at the time.
The painting portrayed Our Lady of the Rosary with St Dominic and St Catherine of Siena. Though it was of modest artistic accomplishment and in very poor condition, it served Bartolo’s purpose. He described it in his journal: “Not only was it worm-eaten, but the face of the Madonna was that of a coarse, rough country-woman . a piece of canvas was missing just above her head . her mantle was cracked. Nothing need be said of the hideousness of the other figures. St Dominic looked like a street idiot. To Our Lady’s left was a St Rose. This I had changed later into a St Catherine of Siena . I hesitated whether to refuse the gift or to accept . I took it.”
In addition, the sorcerer turned born-again Catholic restored a ramshackle church in October 1873 and then sponsored a feast in honour of Our Lady of the rosary. He installed the repaired painting in this very church. Within hours of its installation miracles began to be reported and people came to the church in droves. Seeing the devotion of the pilgrims, the Bishop of Nola encouraged Bartolo to construct a larger church. He approached architect Giovanni Rispoli to build it, making the following appeal: “In this place selected for its prodigies, we wish to leave to present and future generations a monument to the Queen of Victories that will be less unworthy of her greatness but more worthy of our faith and love.”
Work on the larger building began on May 8 1876 and was consecrated in May 1891 by Cardinal La Valetta who represented Pope Leo XIII. In 1906, he and his wife donated the Pompeii shrine to the Holy See but this didn’t diminish his evangelistic zeal. Bartolo continued promoting the rosary until his death in1926, at the age of 75. To spread devotion to the rosary and to the Blessed Virgin Mary Bartolo would evangelize young people at parties and in local cafes, explaining the dangers of occultism. He would witness continually as to the glories of Christ, the munificence of His mother and the beauty of the Catholic Faith.
In 1939 the church was enlarged and re-consecrated as a basilica and officially renamed the Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Pompeii. It soon became a focus of pilgrimages for more than a century as most Catholics and non-Catholics alike found a church built by a reformed ex-Satanist to be devilishly irresistible.
Bartolo had died a saintly death and his Cause for canonisation was almost immediately called for. He was beatified by John Paul II on October 26 1980 who called him the “Apostle of the Rosary”. More than 30,000 people attended the ceremony, and 50,000 pilgrims attended Pope Benedict’s historic pastoral visit to the shrine on October 19 2008. He consecrated the world, entrusting it to Mary’s hands, offering the Blessed Virgin a golden rose. In his homily, Benedict XVI likened Bartolo Longo to St Paul of Tarsus, who also initially persecuted the Church, described Bartolo as being “militantly anticlerical and engaging in spiritualist and superstitious practices”.
He continued by saying: “Wherever God comes in this desert, flowers bloom. Even Blessed Bartolo Longo, with his personal conversion, bears witness to this spiritual power that transforms man from within and makes him capable of doing great things according to God’s designs. This city which he re-founded, is thus a historical demonstration of how God transforms the world: filling man’s heart with charity.”
It’s not easy to get lost in Pompeii but I somehow managed to do exactly that. I finally spied the famous bronze cross that adorns the Basilica’s campanile. Apparently I am not the only person in the Sarno Valley to use it to orient myself. Technically speaking, every Christian uses the cross to orient himself so I wasn’t in the least bit ashamed for having to do so.
The white surface of the domed basilica and its lateral chapels both strike and comfort the visitor. The façade is only a little more than a century old, having been re-pointed by the architect Rispoli in 1901. As I passed the long passageways adjacent to the basilica, I noted that this is where Bartolo and his wife would stand to hand out food to the poor who would gather daily.
Upon entering the church one is struck not by its silence but rather the pervasive hushed susurration of pilgrims who stand in awe at the church’s beauty and God’s presence. The walls are replete with frescos, marble ornaments, mosaics, paintings and the ever-present votives. These small silver or tin plaques in the shape of heads, hands, legs and eyes hang everywhere as tokens of thanksgiving for Mary’s received protection and prayers.
The neoclassical Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii is decorated in the stereotypically exaggerated, over-the-top, pietistic art of the Italian peasantry that makes you smile and secretly wish you were Italian. It is, for good or bad, the art one associates with ancient churches and an even older faith. Stepping into this basilica reconnects one with 2,000 years of Christ’s presence in the world and in our hearts.
I asked as to the whereabouts of Blessed Bartolo and soon found myself face to beatified face with the Apostle of the Rosary himself. Like every other pilgrim standing next to me, I realised that this former, self-professed enemy of the Church rests peacefully in a tomb in its bosom of the very church he had hoped to destroy. More delicious and blessed irony one can hardly imagine.
As I looked at the oversized painting of Our Lady of Pompeii hanging over the church’s altar, I recalled St Maximilian Kolbe’s poignant words: “If anyone does not wish to have Mary Immaculate for his Mother, he will not have Christ for his Brother.”
One can’t but be moved when seeing this painting of him and recall the pain, horror and revulsion that this satanist-turned-saint experienced when he was confronted by his own sins.
Every student knows what happened to the city of Pompeii on August 24 79 AD. But most people don’t realise that the “new” Pompeii rose from the destroyed city’s ashes 1,796 years later because of Our Lady of the Rosary and her devotee. In his The History of the Shrine of Pompeii Bartolo wrote: 

“Next to a land of dead appeared, quite suddenly, a land of resurrection and life: next to a shattered amphitheatre soiled with blood, there is a living Temple of faith and love, a sacred Temple to the Virgin Mary; from a town buried in the filth of gentilism, arises a town full of life, drawing its origins from a new civilization brought by Christianity: the New Pompeii!. It is the new civilisation that openly appears beside the old; the new art next to the old; Christianity full of life in juxtaposition to long-surpassed paganism.”
The newly constructed basilica attracted new families, a railway station, postal and telegraph services, the police, roads, water, electricity, hotels, restaurants and shops. About three million pilgrims come to the basilica every year, thus bringing to life the long-dead city of Pompeii.
Thus, the resurrection and salvation of Pompeii is now eternally linked with the resurrection and salvation of Blessed Bartolo Longo; the prodigal son returned home.
In God, all things are possible. Thankfully.

 

The Supplica for Rosary Sunday

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

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The Supplica:

Petition to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii

Composed By: Blessed Bartolo Longo

Especially for the First Sunday in October (Rosary Sunday)

O August Queen of Victories, O Sovereign of Heaven and Earth, at whose name the heavens rejoice and the abyss trembles, O glorious Queen of the Rosary, we your devoted children, assembled here in Salem and united with our brethren assembled in your Temple of Pompeii, on this solemn day, pour out the affection of our heart  and with filial confidence express our miseries to You.

From the Throne of clemency, where You are seated as Queen, turn, O Mary, your merciful gaze on us, on our families, on our country, on Europe, on the world. Have compassion on the sorrows and cares which embitter our lives. See, O Mother, how many dangers of body and soul, how many calamities and afflictions press upon us.

O Mother, implore for us the mercy of your divine Son and conquer with clemency the heart of sinners. They are our brothers and your children who cause the heart of our sweet Jesus to bleed and who sadden your most sensitive Heart. Show all what you are, the Queen of Peace and of Pardon.

Hail Mary…

 It is true that, although we are your children, we are the first to crucify again Jesus into our heart by our sins and we pierce anew your heart.

We confess it: we are deserving of the most severe punishments but remember that, on Golgotha, You received with the divine Blood, the testament of the dying Savior, who declared You to be our Mother, the Mother of sinners.


You then, as our Mother, are our Advocate, our Hope. And we raise our suppliant hands to You with sighs crying: “Mercy!”


O good Mother, have pity on us, on our souls, on our families, on our relatives, on our friends, on our deceased, especially on our enemies, and on so many who call themselves Christian and yet offend the Heart of your loving Son. Today we implore pity for the misguided Nations, for all Europe, for all the world, so that it may return repentant to your heart. Mercy on all, O Mother of Mercy!

Hail Mary

Kindly deign to hear us, O Mary! Jesus has placed in your hands all the treasures of His graces and His mercies. You are seated a crowned Queen, at the right hand of your Son, resplendent with immortal glory above all the Choirs of Angels. You extend your dominion throughout heavens and the earth and all creatures are subject to you. You are omnipotent by grace and therefore You can help us. Were You not willing to help us, since we are ungrateful children and undeserving of your protection, we would not know to whom to turn. Your Mother’s heart would not permit to see us your children, lost. The Infant whom we see on your knees and the mystical Rosary which we gaze at your hand, inspire confidence in us that we shall be heard. And we confide fully in You, we abandon ourselves as helpless children into the arms of the most tender of mothers, and on this very day, we expect from You the graces we so long for.

 

Hail Mary


One last favor we now ask You, O Queen, which You cannot refuse us on this most solemn day. Grant to all of us your steadfast love and in a special manner your maternal blessing.


We shall not leave You until You have blessed us. Bless, O Mary, at this moment, our Holy Father. To the ancient splendors of your Crown, to the triumphs of your Rosary, whence you are called the Queen of Victories, add this one also, O Mother: grant the triumph of Religion and Peace to human Society. Bless our Bishops, Priests and particularly all those who are zealous for the honor of your Sanctuary. Bless finally all those who are associated with your Temple of Pompeii and all those who cultivate and promote devotion to the Holy Rosary.

 

O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet Chain which binds us to God, Bond of love which unites us to the Angels, Tower of salvation against the assaults of hell, safe Port in our universal shipwreck, we shall never abandon You. You will be our comfort in the hour of agony: to You the last kiss of our dying life. And the last word from our lips will be your sweet name, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompeii, O dearest Mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Consoler of the Afflicted. Be Blessed everywhere, today and always, on earth and in Heaven. Amen.

 

Hail, Holy Queen…

For Greater Glory now showing in Mitchell for one week!

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Blessed John XXIII: On Devotion to the Most Precious Blood

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011
Apostolic Letter of Pope John XXIII

ON PROMOTING DEVOTION TO THE MOST PRECIOUS BLOOD OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
To his Venerable Brother Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Local Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See
Venerable brethren: greetings and apostolic blessings.
From the very outset of our pontificate, in speaking of daily devotions we have repeatedly urged the faithful (often in eager tones that frankly hinted our future design) to cherish warmly that marvellous manifestation of divine mercy toward individuals and Holy Church and the whole world redeemed and saved by Jesus Christ: we mean devotion to his Most Precious Blood.
From infancy this devotion was instilled in us within our own household. Fondly we still recall how our parents used to recite the Litany of the Most Precious Blood every day during July.
The Apostle’s wholesome advice comes to mind: “Keep watch, then, over yourselves, and over God’s Church, in which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops; you are to be the shepherds of that flock which he won for himself at the price of his own blood.”[1] Now among the cares of our pastoral office, venerable brethren, we are convinced that, second only to vigilance over sound doctrine, preference belongs to the proper surveillance and development of piety, in both its liturgical and private expressions. With that in mind, we judge it most timely to call our beloved children’s attention to the unbreakable bond which must exist between the devotions to the Most Holy Name and Most Sacred Heart of Jesus — already so widespread among Christians — and devotion to the incarnate Word’s Most Precious Blood, “shed for many, to the remission of sins.”[2]
It is supremely important that the Church’s liturgy fully conform to Catholic belief (“the law for prayer is the law for faith”[3]), and that only those devotional forms be sanctioned which well up from the unsullied springs of true faith. But the same logic calls for complete accord among different devotions. Those deemed more basic and more conducive to holiness must not be at odds with or cut off from one another. And the more individualistic and secondary ones must give way in popularity and practice to those devotions which more effectively actuate the fullness of salvation wrought by the “one mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ, who is a man, like them, and gave himself as a ransom for them all.” [4] Through living in an atmosphere thus charged with true faith and solid piety the faithful can be confident that they are “thinking with the Church” and holding fast in the loving fellowship of prayer to Christ Jesus, the high priest of that sublime religion which he founded and which owes to him its name, its strength, its dignity.
The Church’s wonderful advances in liturgical piety match the progress of faith itself in penetrating divine truth. Within this development it is most heart-warming to observe how often in recent centuries this Holy See has openly ap proved and furthered the three devotions just mentioned. From the Middle Ages, it is true, many pious persons prac ticed these devotions, which then spread to various dioceses and religious orders and congregations. Nevertheless it remained for the Chair of Peter to pronounce them orthodox and approve them for the Church as a whole.
Suffice it to recall the spiritual favours that our predecessors from the sixteenth century on have attached to prac ticing devotion to the Most Holy Name of Jesus, which in the previous century St. Bernardine of Siena untiringly spread throughout Italy. Approval was given first to the Office and Mass of the Most Holy Name and later to the Litany.[5] No less striking are the benefits the popes have attached to practicing devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose rise and spread owe so much to the revelations of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.[6] So highly have all the popes regarded this devotion that again and again in their official acts they have expounded its nature, defended its validity, promoted its practice. Their crowning achievement on this devotion are three splendid encyclicals.[7]
Likewise the devotion to the Most Precious Blood, which owes its marvelous diffusion to the 19th-century Ro man priest, St. Gaspar del Bufalo, has rightly merited the approval and backing of this Apostolic See. We may recall that by order of Benedict XIV the Mass and Office in honour of the divine Savior’s adorable Blood were composed. And to fulfill a vow made at Gaeta Pius IX extended the feast to the whole Church.[8] Finally, as a commemoration of the nineteenth centenary of our redemption, Pius XI of happy memory raised this feast to the rank of first-class double, so that the greater liturgical splendour would highlight the devotion and bring to men more abundant fruits of the re deeming Blood.
Following our predecessors’ example we have taken further steps to promote the devotion to the Precious Blood of the unblemished Lamb, Jesus Christ. We have approved the Litany of the Precious Blood drawn up by the Sacred Congregation of Rites and through special indulgences have encouraged its public and private recitation throughout the Catholic world. Amid today’s most serious and pressing spiritual needs, may this latest exercise of that “care for all the churches”[9] proper to our sovereign office awaken in Christian hearts a firm conviction about the supreme abiding effectiveness of these three devotions.
As we now approach the feast and month devoted to honouring Christ’s Blood —- the price of our redemption, the pledge of salvation and life eternal — may Christians meditate on it more fervently, may they savour its fruits more frequently in sacramental communion. Let their meditations on the boundless power of the Blood be bathed in the light of sound biblical teaching and the doctrine of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. How truly precious is this Blood is voiced in the song which the Church sings with the Angelic Doctor (sentiments wisely seconded by our predecessor Clement VI [10] ) :
Blood that but one drop of has the world to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin. [11]
Unlimited is the effectiveness of the God-Man’s Blood — just as unlimited as the love that impelled him to pour it out for us, first at his circumcision eight days after birth, and more profusely later on in his agony in the garden,[12] in his scourging and crowning with thorns, in his climb to Calvary and crucifixion, and finally from out that great wide wound in his side which symbolizes the divine Blood cascading down into all the Church’s sacraments. Such surpassing love suggests, nay demands, that everyone reborn in the torrents of that Blood adore it with grateful love.
The Blood of the new and eternal covenant especially deserves this worship of latria when it is elevated during the sacrifice of the Mass. But such worship achieves its normal fulfillment in sacramental communion with the same Blood, indissolubly united with Christ’s Eucharistic Body. In intimate association with the celebrant the faithful can then truly make his sentiments at communion their own: “I will take the chalice of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. . . The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul for everlasting life. Amen.” Thus as often as they come worthily to this holy table they will receive more abundant fruits of the redemption and resurrection and eternal life won for all men by the Blood Christ shed “through the Holy Spirit.”[13] Nourished by his Body and Blood, sharing the divine strength that has sustained countless martyrs, they will stand up to the slings and arrows of each day’s fortunes — even if need be to martyrdom itself for the sake of Christian virtue and the kingdom of God. Theirs will be the experience of that burning love which made St. John Chrysostom cry out:
Let us, then, come back from that table like lions breathing out fire, thus becoming terrifying to the Devil, and remaining mindful of our Head and of the love he has shown for us. . . This Blood, when worthily received, drives away demons and puts them at a distance from us, and even summons to us angels and the Lord of angels. . . This Blood, poured out in abundance, has washed the whole world clean. . . This is the price of the world; by it Christ purchased the Church… This thought will check in us unruly passions. How long, in truth, shall we be attached to present things? How long shall we remain asleep? How long shall we not take thought for our own salvation? Let us remember what privileges God has bestowed on us, let us give thanks, let us glorify him, not only by faith, but also by our very works. [14]
If only Christians would reflect more frequently on the fatherly warning of the first pope: “Look anxiously, then, to the ordering of your lives while your stay on earth lasts.
You know well enough that your ransom was not paid in earthly currency, silver or gold; it was paid in the precious blood of Christ; no lamb was ever so pure, so spotless a victim.”[15] If only they would lend a more eager ear to the apostle of the Gentiles: “A great price was paid to ransom you; glorify God by making your bodies the shrines of his presence.”[16] Their upright lives would then be the shining ex ample they ought to be; Christ’s Church would far more effectively fulfill its mission to men. God wants all men to be saved,[17] for he has willed that they should all be ransomed by the Blood of his only-begotten Son; he calls them all to be members of the one Mystical Body whose head is Christ. If only men would be more responsive to these promptings of his grace, how much the bonds of brotherly love among individuals and peoples and nations would be strengthened. Life in society would be so much more peaceable, so much worthier of God and the human nature created in his image and likeness.[18]
This is the sublime vocation that St. Paul urged Jewish converts to fix their minds on when tempted to nostalgia for what was only a weak figure and prelude of the new covenant: “The scene of your approach now is mount Sion, is the heavenly Jerusalem, city of the living God; here are gathered thousands upon thousands of angels, here is the assembly of those first-born sons whose names are written in heaven, here is God sitting in judgment on all men, here are the spirits of just men, now made perfect; here is Jesus, the spokesman of the new covenant, and the sprinkling of his blood, which has better things to say than Abel’s had.” [19]
We have full confidence, venerable brethren, that these fatherly exhortations of ours, once brought to the attention of your priests and people in whatever way you deem best, will be put into practice not just willingly but enthusiastically. As a sign of heavenly graces and our affection we impart our most heartfelt apostolic blessing to each of you and to all your flocks, and particularly to those who respond with devout generosity to the promptings of this letter.
Given at St. Peter’s in Rome, the eve of the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Most Precious Blood, June 30, 1960, the second year of our pontificate.

1. Acts 20:28.

2. Matthew 26 :2&

3. Encyclical “On the Sacred Liturgy,” America Press edition (New York: 1954), No. 46.

4. I Timothy 2:5-6.

5. Acta Sanctae Sedis 18 (1886) :509.

6. Cf. Office for the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 2nd nocturn, lesson 5.

7. “On the Consecration of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” The

Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII (New York: 1903), 454– 461; “The Reparation Due to the Sacred Heart,” The Catholic Mind

26 (1928): 221-235; “On Devotion to the Sacred Heart,” The Pope

Speaks 3 (1956): 115-149.

8. Decree “Redempti Sumus,” Aug. 10, 1849, Decreta Authentica S.RC. (Rome: 1898), II, No. 2978.

9. II Corinthians 11:28.

10. Bull “The Only Begotten Son of God,” Jan. 25, 1343, The Sources of Catholic Dogma (St. Louis: 1957), No. 550.

1. Hymn “Adoro te devote.” Translation from Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins (Oxford: 1930), No. 89.

12. Luke 22:43.

13. Hebrews 9:14.

14. “Homily 46,” Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist (Fathers of the Church, New York: 1957), 469, 471-472.

15. 1 Peter 1:17-19.

16. I Corinthians 6:20.

17. Cf. I Timothy 2:4.

18. Cf. Genesis 1:26.

19. Hebrews 12:22-24.

Shrove Tuesday: Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

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.”

October 5: Memorial of Blessed Francis X. Seelos, C.Ss.R.

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

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.

Ven. John Henry Newman: Meditation for the 2nd Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

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’:

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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.

 

Ven. John Henry Newman: Meditation for the 1st Sunday of Advent

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

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:

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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.

All Saints at Salem

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

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: