Archive for the ‘Prayer/Spiritual Life’ Category

Pope John’s Encyclical: On Promoting Devotion to the Most Precious Blood

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

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 Christianns — 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 practising 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 marvellous 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 Saviour’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 sur passing 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 fulfilment 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 count less martyrs, they will stand up to the slings and arrows of each day’s fortunes — even if need be to martyrdom itself ffor 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 im part 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.

May 11th through 19th: Novena in Preparation for the Feast of Pentecost

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Pentecost Novena 2018

Passiontide and the Holy Face of Jesus

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

This week, our image of the Holy Face will be placed over the High Altar for Passiontide, in respect to the exposition and blessing given with the Original Veil of Veronica at St. Peter’s in Rome every year on the 5th Sunday of Lent.

Holy Face of Jesus

How the miraculous image of the suffering Face of Christ came to be printed on Veronica’s Veil:

Many present-day Catholics raise questions when shown a copy of the “true image” of the Holy Face of Jesus imprinted on the veil of Veronica during His Passion.  They ask how did it happen?  Who was Veronica? – Where is this reported in the Bible? and etc…  Tradition tells us that this incident occurred on the first Good Friday in Jerusalem as Our Lord carried His Cross on the way to Calvary to be crucified.  Therefore, let us recount the way to Our Lord’s Crucifixion…

The procession to Calvary was formed.  The cross was brought to Jesus.  He was to carry it.  He could scarcely support its weight.  He had been greatly weakened by the trial and maltreatment of the morning as well as severe blood loss from the scourging.  His Holy Face was swollen with open wounds; blood, flowing down from the piercing wounds of the thorn crown, was blinding.  Led by the Roman soldiers and mounted Sanhedrin priests, Jesus staggered along the crowded streets of Jerusalem followed by a motley rabble of angry people – mostly enemies, some friends.  He collapsed under the cross several times.  Finally, the soldiers forced a bystander to help carry the cross as the priests feared Jesus would die before reaching Calvary, the place of execution.

The procession stopped suddenly.  The door of one of the houses on the side of the street opened.  A Jewish matron of majestic appearance emerged.  The women fought her way through the crowd until she faced Jesus.  Without a word, she pressed a cloth she was carrying into Jesus’ hand.  Jesus took the cloth, quickly wiped His bloody Face and returned it to the woman.  The whole incident took only a moment.  The surprise of the interruption halted the procession just long enough to accomplish the relief Jesus needed so urgently.  The woman was roughly ordered to return to her house.  She quickly complied.  There inside, she opened the bloody cloth and discovered the Sacred Countenance fully imprinted thereon, perfectly detailed – Christ’s grateful gift to repay her unbelievable charity and heroic courage.

Tradition has passed down this act as witnessed by hundreds in the procession.  The woman’s name was not known but the miracles effected by the Imprint became manifest and the names Vera (true) Icon (image) and to its owner as “Veronica”.  Tradition has honored this incident all through the centuries.  Veronica’s memory is immortalized for all time in the 6th Station of the Way of the Cross set up in Roman Catholic Churches all over the world.

Wherever these authenticated replicas of Christ’s Suffering Holy Face have been displayed and venerated, it has been noticed that conversions have sprung up.  Blessings of all kinds have been experienced and the sweet peace of Jesus is enjoyed.

 

Monday, January 22nd: Sanctity of Human Life Day

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

TEXT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP’S DECLARATION:

Today, we focus our attention on the love and protection each person, born and unborn, deserves regardless of disability, gender, appearance, or ethnicity. Much of the greatest suffering in our Nation’s history — and, indeed, our planet’s history — has been the result of disgracefully misguided attempts to dehumanize whole classes of people based on these immutable characteristics. We cannot let this shameful history repeat itself in new forms, and we must be particularly vigilant to safeguard the most vulnerable lives among us. This is why we observe National Sanctity of Human Life Day: to affirm the truth that all life is sacred, that every person has inherent dignity and worth, and that no class of people should ever be discarded as “non-human.”

Reverence for every human life, one of the values for which our Founding Fathers fought, defines the character of our Nation.  Today, it moves us to promote the health of pregnant mothers and their unborn children.  It animates our concern for single moms; the elderly, the infirm, and the disabled; and orphan and foster children. It compels us to address the opioid epidemic and to bring aid to those who struggle with mental illness. It gives us the courage to stand up for the weak and the powerless. And it dispels the notion that our worth depends on the extent to which we are planned for or wanted.

Science continues to support and build the case for life. Medical technologies allow us to see images of the unborn children moving their newly formed fingers and toes, yawning, and even smiling. Those images present us with irrefutable evidence that babies are growing within their mothers’ wombs — precious, unique lives, each deserving a future filled with promise and hope. We can also now operate on babies in utero to stave off life-threatening diseases. These important medical advances give us an even greater appreciation for the humanity of the unborn.

Today, citizens throughout our great country are working for the cause of life and fighting for the unborn, driven by love and supported by both science and philosophy. These compassionate Americans are volunteers who assist women through difficult pregnancies, facilitate adoptions, and offer hope to those considering or recovering from abortions. They are medical providers who, often at the risk of their livelihood, conscientiously refuse to participate in abortions. And they are legislators who support health and safety standards, informed consent, parental notification, and bans on late-term abortions, when babies can feel pain. These undeterred warriors, many of whom travel to Washington, D.C., every year for the March for Life, are changing hearts and saving lives through their passionate defense of and loving care for all human lives. Thankfully, the number of abortions, which has been in steady decline since 1980, is now at a historic low. Though the fight to protect life is not yet over, we commit to advocating each day for all who cannot speak for themselves.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 22, 2018, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call on all Americans to reflect on the value of our lives; to respond to others in keeping with their inherent dignity; to act compassionately to those with disabilities, infirmities, or frailties; to look beyond external factors that might separate us; and to embrace the common humanity that unites us.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

DONALD J. TRUMP

“To see this immortal King face-to-face…”

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

“To see this immortal King face-to-face, the Church at present is preparing herself; and while she celebrates her temporal feasts here, she contemplates the festive and eternal joys of her native land, where her Spouse is praised by angelic instruments.  And all the saints, continually celebrating the day of great festivity that the Lord has made, cease not to praise with nuptial songs the immortal Bridegroom, beautiful in form before the sons of men, Who in His gratuitous mercy has chosen the Church for Himself.”

Mystical Mirror of the Church, 1160-1165

October 20th: St. Paul of the Cross

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

st_paul_of_the-_cross_123paul-of-the-cross-2

OCTOBER 20: Memorial of St. Paul of the Cross, confessor

St Vincent Strambi, Paul’s first biographer writing only 11 years after his death, stated that the Holy Spirit raised up Paul of the Cross to help people find God in their heart. Paul was convinced that God is most easily found by us in the Passion of Jesus Christ. He saw the Passion as being the most overwhelming sign of God’s love for us, and at the same time our best means for union with Him.

St Paul is most notable for his fervent love for God and his special devotion to the Passion of Jesus. Inspired and led by God, Paul travelled throughout Italy, preaching missions with a particular emphasis on the passion of Jesus. Along with his preaching vocation he was also inspired by God to found a order of Priests and Nuns devoted specifically to the Passion of Jesus. Thus, by the express will of God and through Paul’s continual prayers and sacrifices, he eventually became the founder and was elected the first Superior General of the “Congregation of Discalced Clerks of the Holy Cross and Passion of Our Lord”, more commonly known as the Passionists.
The devil, knowing in advance all the glory that the members of the Passionist Congregation would give to God, and of all the souls that would be snatched from him through their continual acts of sacrifice and penance, sought in earnest to inspire as much opposition as possible, in a hellish effort to block its foundation. And so it was that through many years of toil, sacrifices and sufferings that Paul, with the help of God, eventually founded the Passionist Congregation of Priests, and a few years later the Passionist Nuns.

Paul often spent many hours in prayer and adoration before Jesus crucified. Throughout his many travels while preaching missions and making foundations of his Passionist Order, he always carried with him a large wooden crucifix in honor of our Lord’s Passion, thus he became known by the popular name of “Paul of the Cross”. Undoubtedly the two greatest characteristics of St Paul were his fervent devotion to the Passion of Jesus and also his extraordinary sacrifices and penances that he made for the conversion of sinners.

Throughout his religious life, Paul continuously sacrificed and made special penances and mortification’s for the success of his preaching missions, that many souls may be converted. An example of his many penances was that he went barefoot in all his travels throughout Italy, regardless of the harsh seasons and climates. And God, Who was pleased with the heroic sacrifices and devotion of His servant, chose to perform countless extraordinary miracles through Paul’s intercession and prayers. As he went about doing good, the frequent extraordinary signs from heaven that accompanied him were a sign to all that God was with him in a most remarkable way. Like his holy predecessors the Apostles, immense crowds gathered and followed him as he went about preaching from town to town. His great love for God and his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary radiated to the crowds with remarkable unction through both his words and his actions, thereby causing countless conversions everywhere he went. His austere manner of life, full of sacrifices and penances, encouraged the people to make reparation to God for their own sins.

~St Paul of the Cross, pray for us!

Words and sayings of Saint Paul of the Cross:

“I want to set myself on fire with love…I want to be entirely on fire with love…and I want to know how to sing in the fire of love.”

“Look upon the face of the Crucified, who invites you to follow Him. He will be a Father, Mother–everything to you.”

“Oh Love, oh fire of charity; how powerful You are!”

“I enjoy remaining on the Cross. How beautiful it is to suffer for Jesus!”…..“I rejoice in the nails that hold me crucified”

“Ah, my Supreme Good. What were the sentiments of your Sacred Heart when You were scourged? My beloved Spouse, how greatly did the sight of my grievous sins and my ingratitude afflict You!  Oh, my only Love, why do I not die for You? Why am I not overwhelmed with sorrow? And then I feel that sometimes my spirit can say no more but remains thus in God with His sufferings infused into the soul- and sometimes it seems as if my heart would break.”

“Your crosses dear God, are the joy of my heart. How beautiful to suffer with Jesus!”

“I hope that God will save me through the merits of the Passion of Jesus. The more difficulties in life, the more I hope in God. By God’s grace I will not lose my soul, but I hope in His mercy.”

“I am a bottomless pit and deserve no light, so unworthy am I.”

“Christ Crucified is a work of love. The miracle of miracles of love. The most stupendous work of the love of God. The bottomless sea of the love of God, where virtues are found, where one can lose oneself in love and sorrow. A sea and a fire or a sea of fire. The most beneficial means of abandoning sin and growing in virtue, and so in holiness.”

“At holy Communion I had much sweetness. My dear God gave me infused knowledge of the joy which the soul will have when we see him face to face, when we will be united with Him in holy love. Then I felt sorrow to see Him offended and I told Him that I would willingly be torn to pieces for a single soul. Indeed, I felt that I would die when I saw the loss of so many souls who do not experience the fruit of the Passion of Jesus.”

“Oh my Love, what happened to Your heart in the Garden! Oh, what suffering; what shedding of blood! What bitter agony, and all for me!”.

“I felt pain in seeing my dear God so offended. I could faint from seeing so many souls lost for not feeling the fruit of the Passion of Jesus. A desire to convert all sinners will not leave me.”

“Oh good Jesus, how swollen, bruised, and defiled with spittle do I behold Thy
countenance! O my Love! Why do I see Thee all covered with wounds? Oh
infinite sweetness, why are Your bones laid bare? Ah, what sufferings! What
sorrows! O my God, why are You all wounded? Ah, dear sufferings! Dear wounds! I wish to keep you always in my heart.”

“Oh Jesus, my Love, may my heart be consumed in loving Thee; make me humble and holy; give me childlike simplicity; transform me into thy holy love. O Jesus, life of my life, joy of my soul, God of my heart, accept my heart as an altar, on which I will sacrifice to Thee the gold of ardent charity, the incense of continual, humble and fervent prayer, and the myrrh of constant sacrifices!  Amen.”

“The world lives unmindful of the sufferings of Jesus, which are the miracle of miracles of the Love of God”

“Oh my good God, how gentle You are! How sweet You are! Oh dear cross, I embrace you and press you to my heart!”

“We ought to glory in nothing other than the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are blessed and don’t know it. You have Jesus Crucified with you.”

Rosary Prayers of Blessed Bartolo Longo

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

young-longo

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
rosary6-pompeii
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blessed_bartolo_longo_at_pompei
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.

 

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Monday, August 15th, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady into Heaven, a first-class Feast.  Since it falls on a Monday this year, it is not a Holy Day of Obligation.  Never the less, the importance of the Feast remains in full force.  Therefore, on Monday, August 15th I will celebrate two Holy Masses: one in the morning in English (Ordinary Form) at 8:15 a.m. and a Solemn High Mass in Latin (Extraordinary Form) at 7:00 p.m.  There is an ancient custom of blessing the produce from home gardens and orchards, as well as seeds purchased for next year’s planting season, on the Feast of Our Lady’s  Assumption.  You may bring them to church and I will bless them before the evening Solemn High Mass.  Happy Assumption Day, our Easter in August!                                                                                                                                                                                         – Father Lawrence

 

Assumption of the BVM 2016

Feast of St. Philomena celebrated this Saturday at Noon

Friday, August 12th, 2016

St. Philomena 2016