Archive for the ‘The Blessed Virgin Mary’ Category

The Four Marian Doctrines We Believe as Catholics

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

Mary as Mother of God

In 431, the Council of Ephesus declared Mary to be the Mother of God (Theotokos). This was proclaimed to confirm Jesus’ dual nature as both human and divine. This tradition is based on the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel, when the angel tells Mary “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.” Mary responded with her willingness to take on the task. “Let it be done to me according to your word.” The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” teaches the following: “Called in the Gospels ‘the mother of Jesus,’ Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as ‘the mother of my Lord.’ In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos)” (495).

Pope John Paul II both confirmed and expanded that teaching in his 1987 encyclical, “Redemptoris Mater.” He understands Mary’s motherhood as also being one of faith. Not only was she the physical mother of Jesus, but she was also the first believer, the mother of the Church. “Mary as Mother became the first ‘disciple’ of her Son, the first to whom he seemed to say: ‘Follow me,’ even before he addressed this call to the Apostles or to anyone else” (RM 20).

 

The Immaculate Conception

The Doctrine of Mary as the Immaculate Conception was officially promulgated by the Church by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854. He wrote, “From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so lover her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.”

This declaration was confirmation of a long-standing tradition in the Church. In the time of St. Augustine (354-430), the Holy Virgin was already considered free from sin. In 1546, the Council of Trent confirmed this teaching when they declared that all men (and women) were born with original sin, but they exempted Mary from that designation.

 

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity

The Doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity is perhaps the one that garners the most debate. While most, if not all, Christians accept that Jesus was born of a virgin mother, what happened after that birth is not so easily agreed upon. After all, the Biblical record seems to imply that Jesus had brothers and sisters. The Catholic position on this has always been that the terms used for brothers and sisters did not mean an exclusive relationship as we take those terms to mean today — being born of the same mother and father. Rather, in Hebrew at that time, there were no terms for cousin, nephew, or uncle. The terms simply meant relatives or “brethren.” The individuals referred to could have been Joseph’s children from an earlier marriage or cousins.

The earliest record of Mary’s perpetual virginity goes back to 120 AD in the “Protoevangelium of James”. This is a noncanonical work whose main purpose was to illustrate that Mary was a consecrated virgin. It was written early enough in the Christian tradition, however, that had Mary had other children, that fact still would have been remembered and the document would have been deemed worthless. Jason Evert, writing in “This Rock,” states that “consecrated virginity was not common among first century Jews, but it did exist. According to some early Christian documents, such as the Protoevangelium of James (written around A.D. 120), Mary was a consecrated virgin. As such, when she reached puberty, her monthly cycle would render her ceremonially unclean and thus unable to dwell in the temple without defiling it under the Mosaic Law. At this time, she would be entrusted to a male guardian. However, since it was forbidden for a man to live with a woman he was not married or related to, the virgin would be wed to the guardian, and they would have no marital relations.”

 

The Assumption of Mary into Heaven

The Doctrine of the Assumption of Mary proclaims that at the end of her earthly life, Mary was brought up to heaven body and soul. It was declared by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950 and, like the Immaculate Conception, was a formal declaration of a belief that had long been held by the faithful. Pope Pius XII states that “So then, the great Mother of God, so mysteriously united to Jesus Christ from all eternity by the same decree of predestination, immaculately conceived, an intact virgin throughout her divine motherhood, a noble associate of our Redeemer as he defeated sin and its consequences, received, as it were, the final crowning privilege of being preserved from the corruption of the grave and, following her Son in his victory over death, was brought, body and soul, to the highest glory of heaven, to shine as Queen at the right hand of that same Son, the immortal King of Ages.”

While nowhere in scripture does it state that Mary was taken up to heaven body and soul, there are scriptural references that are used to support it. Genesis 3:15 which puts “the woman” in direct opposition to the devil is used to show that she conquered death. “Other passages include Revelation 12:1, in which Mary’s coronation implies her bodily assumption, and 1 Corinthians 15:23 and Matthew 27:52-53, which support the possibility of a bodily assumption. And lastly there is Psalm 132:8, which provides: Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark which you have sanctified. Mary is the new ark of the covenant (cf. Rev. 11:19-12:1), who physically bore the presence of God in her womb (cf. Lk. 1:42) before bearing Christ to the world” (Faith Facts, 1999).

One of the earliest proponents of the tradition of the Assumption was St. John Damascene (675-749), one of the last of the Fathers of the Church. He wrote that “It was right that she who had kept her virginity unimpaired through the process of giving birth should have kept her body without decay through death. It was right that she who had given her Creator, as a child, a place at her breast should be given a place in the dwelling-place of her God. It was right that the bride espoused by the Father should dwell in the heavenly bridal chamber. It was right that she who had gazed on her Son on the cross, her heart pierced at that moment by the sword of sorrow that she had escaped at his birth, should now gaze on him seated with his Father. It was right that the Mother of God should possess what belongs to her only and to be honored by every creature as the God’s Mother and handmaid.“ Already in the sixth century, there were liturgical feasts dedicated to Mary.

In Redemptoris Mater, Pope John Paul II reaffirms that tradition, “Preserved free from all guilt of original sin, the Immaculate Virgin was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory upon the completion of her earthly sojourn.” In heaven, she continues to serve, sharing in the kingdom of the Son (RM 41).

INGRAVESCENTIBUS MALIS: Encyclical of Pope Pius XI on the ROSARY

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

INGRAVESCENTIBUS  MALIS

ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI
ON THE ROSARY
TO THE VENERABLE BRETHREN, PATRIARCHS, PRIMATES,
ARCHBISHOPS, BISHOPS, AND OTHER ORDINARIES
IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE APOSTOLIC SEE.

  1. More than once have We asserted – and We recently repeated this in the Encyclical Letter Divini Redemptoris (Acta Ap. Sedis, 1937, Vol. XXIX, p. 65) – that there is no remedy for the ever-growing evils of our times except a return to Our Lord Jesus Christ and to His most holy precepts. Truly, only He “hath the words of eternal life” (Cf. John, vi, 69), and individuals and society can only fall into immediate and miserable ruin if they ignore the majesty of God and repudiate His Law.
  2. However, anyone who studies with diligence the records of the Catholic Church will easily recognize that the true patronage of the Virgin Mother of God is linked with all the annals of the Christian name. When, in fact, errors everywhere diffused were bent upon rending the seamless robe of the Church and upon throwing the Catholic world into confusion, our fathers turned with confident soul to her “alone who destroys all heresies in the world” (Roman Breviary), and the victory won through her brought the return of tranquillity.
  3. When the impious Mohammedan power, trusting in its powerful fleet and war-hardened armies, threatened the peoples of Europe with ruin and slavery, then – upon the suggestion of the Sovereign Pontiff – the protection of the heavenly Mother was fervently implored and the enemy was defeated and his ships sunk. Thus the Faithful of every age, both in public misfortune and in private need, turn in supplication to Mary, the benignant, so that she may come to their aid and grant help and remedy against sorrows of body and soul. And never was her most powerful aid hoped for in vain by those who besought it with pious and trustful prayer.
  4. But also in our day, dangers no less grave than in the past beset civil and religious society. In fact, because the supreme and eternal authority of God, which commands and forbids, is despised and completely repudiated by men, the result is that the consciousness of Christian duty is weakened, and that faith becomes tepid in souls or entirely lost, and his afterward affects and ruins the very basis of human society.
  5. Thus on the one hand are seen citizens intent on an atrocious struggle among themselves because some are provided with abundant riches and others must gain bread for themselves and their dear ones by the sweat of their brows. Indeed, as we all know, in some regions the evil had reached such a pitch that it seeks to destroy all private right of property, so that everything might be shared in common.
  6. On the other hand, there are not lacking men who declare that they honor and exalt, above all, the power of the State. They say they must use every means to assure civil order and enforce authority, and pretend that only thus are they able totally to repulse the execrable theories of the Communists. However, they despise the light of evangelic wisdom and endeavor to revive the errors of the pagans and their way of life.
  7. To this is added the clever and lamentable sect of those who, denying and hating God, declare themselves the enemies of the Eternal, and who insinuate themselves everywhere. They discredit and uproot all religious belief from souls. Finally, they trample on every human and Divine right. And while they cast scorn on the hope of heavenly reward, they incite men to seek, even by illicit means, false earthly happiness, and therefore drive them with brazen temerity to the dissolution of the social order, causing disorder, cruel rebellions and even the conflagration of civil war.
  8. Nevertheless, Venerable Brethren, though such great and numerous evils hang over us, and others still greater are to be feared for the future, we must not lose heart nor let the confident hope that rests solely on God become fainter. He who “made the nations of the earth for health” (Cf. Wisdom i, 14) without doubt will not let those perish whom He has redeemed with His Precious Blood, nor will He abandon His Church. But rather, as We said in the beginning, shall We beseech God through the mediation of the Blessed Virgin, so acceptable to Him, since, to use the words of St. Bernard: “Such is the will of God, who has wished that we should have all things through Mary.” (Sermon on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.)
  9. Among the various supplications with which we successfully appeal to the Virgin Mother of God, the Holy Rosary without doubt occupies a special and distinct place. This prayer, which some call the Psalter of the Virgin or Breviary of the Gospel and of Christian life, was described and recommended by Our Predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, with these vigorous passages: “Very admirable is this crown interwoven with the angelic salutation which is interposed in the Sunday prayer, and unites with it the obligation of interior meditation. It is an excellent manner of prayer . . . and very useful for the attainment of immortal life” (Acta Leonis, 1898, Vol. XVIII, pp. 154, 155).
  10. And this can well be deduced from the very flowers that form this mystic garland. What prayers in fact can be found more adaptable and holy? This first is that which our Divine Redeemer Himself pronounced when His disciples asked Him: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke xi, 1); a very holy supplication which both offers us the way – as far as it is possible for us – to render glory to God, and also takes into account all the necessities of our body and soul. How can the Eternal Father, when prayed to with the very words of His Son, refuse to come to our aid?
  11. The other prayer is the Angelic Salutation, which begins with the eulogies of the Archangel Gabriel and of St. Elizabeth, and ends with that very pious supplication by which we beg the help of the Blessed Virgin now and at the hour of our death. To these invocations, said aloud, is added the contemplation of the sacred mysteries, through which they place, as it were, under our eyes the joys, sorrows and triumphs of Jesus Christ and of His Mother, so that we receive relief and comfort in our sorrows. Following those most holy examples, we ascend to the happiness of the heavenly country by steps of ever higher virtue.
  12. This practice of piety, Venerable Brethren, admirably diffused by St. Dominic, not without the heavenly suggestion and inspiration of the Virgin Mother of God, is without doubt easy for all, even for the ignorant and the simple. But those wander from the path of truth who consider this devotion merely an annoying formula repeated with monotonous singsong intonation, and refuse it as good only for children and silly women!
  13. In this regard, it is to be noted that both piety and love, though always renewing the same words, do not always repeat the same thing but always express something new issuing from the intimate sentiment of devotion. And besides, this mode of prayer has the perfume of evangelic simplicity and requires humility of spirit; and, if we disdain humility, as the Divine Redeemer teaches, it will be impossible for us to enter the heavenly kingdom: “Amen, I say to you, unless you become as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. xviii, 3).
  14. Nevertheless, if men in our century, with its derisive pride, refuse the Holy Rosary, there is an innumerable multitude of holy men of every age and every condition who have always held it dear. They have recited it with great devotion, and in every moment they have used it as a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight, to preserve the integrity of life, to acquire virtue more easily, and in a word to attain real peace among men.
  15. Nor are there lacking men famous as to doctrine and wisdom who, although intensely occupied in scientific study and researches, never even for a day fail to pray fervently on bended knee, before the image of the Virgin, in this most pious form. Thus kings and princes, however burdened with most urgent occupations and affairs, made it their duty to recite the Rosary.
  16. This mystic crown, then, not only is found in and glides through the hands of the poor, but it also is honored by citizens of every social rank. And We do not wish here to pass over in silence the fact that the Blessed Virgin herself, even in our times, has solicitously recommended this manner of prayer, when she appeared and taught it to the innocent girl in the Grotto of Lourdes.
  17. Therefore why should We not hope for every grace if We supplicate Our Heavenly Mother in this manner with due disposition and holiness? We desire very earnestly, Venerable Brethren, that the Holy Rosary should be recited in a special manner in the month of October and with increased devotion both in the churches and in homes.
  18. And so much the more must it be done since the enemies of the Divine Name – that is, those who have rebelled against and denied and scorned the Eternal God – spread snares for the Catholic Faith and the liberty due to the Church, and finally rebel with insane efforts against divine and human rights, to send mankind to ruin and perdition. Through efficacious recourse to the Virgin Mother of God, they may be finally bent and led to penance and return to the straight path, trusting to the care and protection of Mary.
  19. The Holy Virgin who once victoriously drove the terrible sect of the Albigenses from Christian countries, now suppliantly invoked by us, will turn aside the new errors, especially those of Communism, which reminds us in many ways, in its motives and misdeeds, of the ancient ones.
  20. And as in the times of the Crusades, in all Europe there was raised one voice of the people, one supplication; so today, in all the world, the cities, and even the smallest villages, united with courage and strength, with filial and constant insistence, the people seek to obtain from the great Mother of God the defeat of the enemies of Christian and human civilization, to the end that true peace may shine again over tired and erring men.
  21. If, then, all will do this with due disposition, with great faith and with fervent piety, it is right to hope that as in the past, so in our day, the Blessed Virgin will obtain from her divine Son that the waves of the present tempests be calmed and that a brilliant victory crown this rivalry of Christians in prayer.
  22. The Holy Rosary, besides, not only serves admirably to overcome the enemies of God and Religion, but is also a stimulus and spur to the practice of evangelic virtues which it injects and cultivates in our souls. Above all, it nourishes the Catholic Faith, which flourishes again by due meditation on the sacred mysteries, and raises minds to the truth revealed to us by God.
  23. Every one can understand how salutary it is, especially in our times wherein sometimes a certain annoyance of the things of the spirit is felt even among the Faithful, and a dislike, as it were, for the Christian doctrine. Therefore, revive the hope of immortal welfare, while the triumph of Jesus Christ and of His Mother, meditated on by us in the last part of the Rosary, shows us Heaven open and invites us to the conquest of the Eternal Country.
  24. Thus while an unbridled longing for the things of this earth has penetrated into the hearts of mortals and each one more ardently longs for the short-lived riches and ephemeral pleasures, all feel a fruitful call back to the heavenly treasures “where thieves do not break in and neither rust nor moth doth consume” (Matt. xii, 33), and to the wealth that will never perish.
  25. And the charity which has been weakened and cooled in many, how can it fail to be rekindled into love in the souls of those who recall with a full heart the tortures and death of our Redeemer and the afflictions of His Sorrowful Mother? From this charity towards God, then, there cannot but rise a more intense love of one’s neighbor if one dwells on the labors and sorrows that Our Lord suffered for all, reinstating the lost inheritance of the children of God.
  26. Therefore see to it, Venerable Brethren, that such a fruitful practice shall be more diffused, more highly esteemed by all, and that common piety be increased. Through your work and that of the priests who help you in the care of souls, its praises and advantages shall be preached and repeated to the Faithful of every social class.
  27. From it, the young will draw fresh energy with which to control the rebellious tendencies to evil and to preserve intact the stainless purity of the soul; also in it, the old will again find repose, relief and peace from their anxious cares. To those who devote themselves to Catholic Action may it be a spur to impel them to a more fervent and active work of apostolate; and to all those who suffer in any way, especially the dying, may it bring comfort and increase the hope of eternal happiness.
  28. The fathers and mothers of families particularly must give an example to their children, especially when, at sunset, they gather together after the day’s work, within the domestic walls, and recite the Holy Rosary on bended knees before the image of the Virgin, together fusing voice, faith and sentiment. This is a beautiful and salutary custom, from which certainly there cannot but be derived tranquillity and abundance of heavenly gifts for the household.
  29. When very frequently We receive newly married couples in audience and address paternal words to them, We give them rosaries, We recommend these to them earnestly, and We exhort them, citing Our own example, not to let even one day pass without saying the Rosary, no matter how burdened they may be with many cares and labors.
  30. For these reasons, Venerable Brethren, We have thought fit earnestly to exhort you, and through you, all the Faithful, to carry out this pious practice. Nor do We doubt that you, listening, with your usual response to Our paternal invitation will bring about abundant fruits once more.
  31. And in addressing this Encyclical to you, another motive impels Us. We wish that, together with Us, Our many children in Jesus shall unite and render thanks to the Mother of God for the better health We have happily regained.
  32. This grace, as We have had occasion to write (Cf. Letter to Cardinal E. Pacelli, Osservatore Romano, September 5, 1937), We attribute to the special intercession of the virgin of Lisieux, St. Therese of the Child Jesus. But We know, though, that everything comes to us from Almighty God through the hands of Our Lady.
  33. And lastly, as there has been launched in the public press with rash insolence, a very grave injury to the Blessed Virgin, We cannot do less than profit by this occasion to offer, together with the Episcopate and the people of that nation which venerates Mary as “Queen of the Kingdom of Poland,” and with the homage of our piety, due reparation to the august Queen, and denounce to the whole world this sacrilege committed with impunity, as a painful and unworthy thing.
  34. Meanwhile, with a full heart We impart to you, Venerable Brethren, and to the flock entrusted to the care of each of you, the Apostolic Blessing as an augury of heavenly graces and in token to Our Paternal benevolence.

Given at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, on the 29th day of the month of September, on the Feast of the Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel, in the year 1937, the sixteenth of Our Pontificate.

PIUS XI

© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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

the_fifteen_mysteries_and_the_virgin_of_the_rosary

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…

June 18th – 26th: Novena in Preparation for the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Below are the prayers, included in this week’s bulletin, which we will use after every Holy Mass (2 pages).  On Monday, June 27th, there will be a special Evening Mass at 7:00 p.m. to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Novena for Parish June 18 through 26

Novena for Parish June 18 through 26

 

Photos from the Solemn High Mass for the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

On Saturday morning, August 15th, the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption into Heaven, St. Mary’s Parish in Salem celebrated a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form (only the second one since the changes made following implementation of Blessed Paul VI’s new Missal).  The Solemn Mass, where the Celebrant is assisted by a Deacon and Subdeacon, in addition to celebrating Our Lady’s Assumption, was also offered in celebration of the Quasquicentennial (125th Anniversary) of the Founding of the Diocese of Sioux Falls by Pope Leo XIII.  Reverend Father DeWayne F. Kayser, Pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Madison, South Dakota, served as the Deacon of the Mass and our parish seminarian, Mr. John E. Streff, F.S.S.P., entering his fourth year of studies at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska for the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, served as the Subdeacon of the Mass.  Thanks to parishioner and Parish Photographer, Sherry Stoffel, for the photos!

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Novena to Our Lady in Preparation for the Feast of Her Assumption

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Assumption-for-Novena-Card

 

Ave-Maria-2

Below is a copy of an email which was sent out to the parishioners of St. Mary’s Parish this morning.
The Novena Prayer we are using will be found below the quotation from Pope Emeritus Benedict:

 

My Dear Parishioners of St. Mary Church:

Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary Immaculate!

I am writing to remind you that today, August 7th, the first Friday of the month, we begin, as a parish family, the Novena to Our Lady in preparation for the Feast of her Assumption into Heaven – nine days of prayer (August 7th through the 15th). The special intention of this novena is for the return of those who have abandoned the practice of the Faith.  If you have forgotten about participating in these nine days of prayer, I earnestly invite you to be part of the novena – that we may be united in one heart and voice, asking the intercession of the Holy Mother of God to move the hearts of those who, for whatever reason, have left their Father’s house and are living without the powerful grace of the Sacraments, given by Our Divine Savior to His Church.  The Novena Prayer was included in last weekend’s bulletin.  If you have misplaced it, or didn’t receive a bulletin, I have it attached the Novena Prayer to this email in both Word and PDF formats.  We will also pray the Novena Prayer after the weekend Masses and after the Masses throughout the week leading up to the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption on Saturday, August 15th, the last day of the novena.

Deo gratias et Mariae,

-Father Lawrence

Ave-Maria

“By contemplating Mary in heavenly glory, we understand that the earth is not the definitive homeland for us either, and that if we live with our gaze fixed on eternal goods we will one day share in this same glory and the earth will become more beautiful. Consequently, we must not lose our serenity and peace even amid the thousands of daily difficulties. The luminous sign of Our Lady taken up into Heaven shines out even more brightly when sad shadows of suffering and violence seem to loom on the horizon.

“We may be sure of it: from on high, Mary follows our footsteps with gentle concern, dispels the gloom in moments of darkness and distress, and reassures us with her motherly hand. Supported by awareness of this, let us continue confidently on our path of Christian commitment wherever Providence may lead us. Let us forge ahead in our lives under Mary’s guidance.”

— Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, August 15, 2006

 

Ave-Maria-3

Novena Prayer to Our Lady

Assumed into Heaven Body and Soul

Asking Her Special Intercession for the return of those who have abandoned the practice of their Catholic Faith

O Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, we believe in your triumphant Assumption into heaven where the angels and saints acclaim you as Queen.

We join them in praising you and bless the Lord Who raised you above all creatures.  With them we offer you our devotion and love.

We are confident that you watch over our daily efforts and needs,  and we take comfort from the faith in the coming resurrection.

We look to you, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.   After this earthly life, show us Jesus, the blest fruit of your womb, O kind, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.   Amen.

Three Hail Mary’s are now prayed in honor of Our Lady’s threefold privilege of being the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son, and the Spouse of God the Holy Spirit.

SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION 2015

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

poster-for-Salem-Special

Rosary Sunday: October 5th – The External Solemnity of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Extraordinary Form

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

On Sunday, October 5th, before the 12 Noon Latin Mass we prayed the following prayer to Our Lady:

The Supplica:

Petition to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii

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 that 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 Jesus again in our hearts by our sins and 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. Have 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 the 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 where 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…