Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ascension of Our Lord

Upon entering Jerusalem, we recall that here rested Our Lord Jesus Christ in a close sepulcher, penetrated by neither air nor light, His Sacred Body disfigured by wounds. Wrapped in the Holy Shroud, Our Lord lies in utter darkness, reduced to isolated inertia and death. In the seeming hopelessness of the sepulcher, the triumph of the synagogue appears complete.
After two days, a ray of light penetrates the darkness, and then another, and yet another, as the angels manifest their presence. The heavy stone that guards the sepulcher cannot keep these pure spirits from entering. The angelic choir gathers and fills the empty silence with Heaven’s songs.
Suddenly, the sacred body stirs, as Our Lord raises Himself from the slab on which He lies and from death itself. He had been in Limbo, where He consoled the just with the Good News that the hour of their redemption was at hand. We may well imagine their joy and adoration as they welcomed their Redeemer!
As His Divine soul reanimates His mortal body, each wound shines with the sun’s brilliance. Christ’s crown of thorns is now a crown of light. Our Lord commands the stone to move, and the sun streams in, dispelling the tomb’s darkness as the Son vanquishes the despair of death in His eternal triumph.
Someone approaches. She is running. It is Mary Magdalen, and she is still weeping. Finding the sepulcher open with its stone rolled away and not a Roman guard in sight, she does not know what to think. Seeing a man whom she mistakes for a gardener, she asks, “Where is Jesus?” He answers with a single word: “Mary.” The scales fall from her eyes, and she responds, “Rabboni!” which means “Master.” However, Our Lord, whose glorious body can move faster than any rocket, is no longer there. He is in the Cenacle, where Mary Most Holy has retired to weep for her Son in the semi-darkness. Suddenly, Christ enters radiantly. She is not mistaken as Mary Magdalen was for she is His mother after all. Let us recall Jesus’ last gaze at His Mother from the height of the Cross. She is the last person He sees before He closes His eyes in death. It is a look of love that the world has never known— the love of God for His Holy Mother. Imagine then the first glance exchanged between Mother and Son after the Resurrection, as the deepest sadness becomes the greatest joy! In an instant, He returns to Mary Magdalen, for glorified, He is no longer limited to time and space.
He appears here and there, speaking first with one disciple and then another. Only at the Final Judgment will we know all those to whom Christ spoke during those days, giving courage and counsel, as He prepared His Church for the battles to come.
The hour of the Ascension is at hand. Accompanied by His holy mother, His Apostles and disciples, Jesus makes His way to the Mount of Olives. Theirs is not a simple farewell. With rapt attention, they hang on every word of His teaching. If Our Lord’s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor had left the Apostles awestruck, we can imagine how He must appear at the moment of His Ascension. As Jesus speaks, His body gradually begins to rise. He knows that He is rising to Heaven, but it is so natural, so proper and so normal for Him to ascend that at first, His Apostles might see it as simply another example of His glorification. However, at a certain moment, He is so high that they realize, “He is leaving us now!” And thus, the Risen Lord ascends into the glory of Heaven.

When it seems grace has been taken away...

“I will take away
not the grace but the feeling of grace.
Though I will seem to leave you
I will be closer to you.”

Our Lord to St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What leads to the annihilation of all religion?

Modernism leads to
the annihilation of all religion.
The first step in this direction was taken by Protestantism;
the second is made by Modernism;
the next will plunge headlong into atheism.

Pope St. Pius X

St. Vincent of Lérins

St. Eucherius of Lyons, describes St. Vincent of Lérins as “a man pre-eminent in eloquence and learning”. Little is known of his early life, though it seems that he was a soldier before taking the religious habit on the Mediterranean island of Lérins, now St. Honorat Island, after its founder.

His fame rests on his work, Commonitorium Against Heresies, which he wrote three years after the Council of Ephesus. Because of the many heresiarchs, each proposing a different heresy in the first centuries of the life of the Catholic Church, St. Vincent felt the need and the calling to define what constitutes heresy.

From the writings of the Church Fathers, he recorded certain principles for distinguishing Christian Truth from falsehood. These notes expanded into his Commonitorium, a serious treatise of forty-two short chapters, from which an immense body of literature has emerged.

He asks why, Scripture being complete, we need to guide ourselves by the interpretation of the Church: “For this reason,” St. Vincent explains, “…owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another, so that it (Scriptures) seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters. For Novatian expounds in one way, Sabellius in another, Donatus in another, Arius, Eunomius and Macedonius in another, Photinus, Apollinaris and Priscillian in another, Jovinian, Pelagius and Caelestius in another, and lastly Nestorius in another. Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various errors, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation. “ (The Vincentian Canon, Commonitorium)

In this book St. Vincent goes on to enunciate for the first time the axiom that for a dogma to be regarded as Catholic Truth it must have been held always, everywhere, and by all.

The exact date of St. Vincent’s death is uncertain, but is believed to have been in the year 445.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Our Lord was pleased to do this

Obedience is a virtue
of so excellent a nature, that
Our Lord was pleased to mark its observance
upon the whole course of His life; thus
He often says, He did not come to do His Own will,
but that of His Heavenly Father.

St. Francis de Sales

St. John Baptist de Rossi

Giovanni Battista de Rossi was born in the Piedmontese village of Voltaggio, in the diocese of Genoa, and was one of four children. His parents, of modest means, were devout and well esteemed.

A nobleman and his wife vacationing in Voltaggio, and impressed with the ten-year-old John Baptist, obtained permission from his parents to take him to live with them and be trained in their house in Genoa.

After three years, hearing of his virtues, John’s cousin, Lorenzo Rossi, Canon of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, invited him to join him in Rome. Thus John Baptist entered the Roman Jesuit College at thirteen. Despite episodes of epilepsy, brought on by excessive zeal in imposing harsh penances upon himself, he was granted a dispensation and was ordained at the age of twenty-three.

From his student days he loved visiting hospitals. Now, as a priest there was much more he could offer suffering souls. He particularly loved the Hospice of St. Galla, a night shelter for paupers. There he labored for forty years. He also worked at the hospital of Trinita dei Pellegrini and extended his assistance to other poor such as cattlemen who came to market at the Roman forum. He had a great pity for homeless women and girls and from the little that he made in Mass stipends, and the 400 scudi sent to him by the Pope, he rented a refuge for them.

John Baptist was also selected by Pope Benedict XIV to deliver courses of instruction to prison officials and other state servants. Among his penitents was the public hangman.

In 1731 Canon Rossi obtained for his cousin a post of assistant priest at St. Maria in Cosmedin. He was a great confessor to whom penitents flocked, and as a preacher, the saint was also in demand for missions and retreats.

On the death of Canon Rossi, Fr. John inherited his canonry, but applied the money attached to the post to buy an organ, and hire an organist. As to the house, he gave it to the chapter and went to live in the attic.

In 1763 St. John Baptist’s health began to fail, and he was obliged to take up residence in the hospital of Trinita dei Pellegrini. He expired after a couple of strokes on May 23, 1764 at sixty- six years of age. He died so poor that the hospital prepared to pay for his burial. But the Church took over and he was given a triumphant funeral with numerous clergy and religious, and the Papal choir, in attendance.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Rosary & True Beauty

As the century began anew, so did Catherine’s life.
Catherine was a young woman possessing great beauty. So much so, that she was known to those in Rome where she made her home as “Catherine the Beautiful.” Sadly, Catherine’s beauty went only skin deep, and she led a very sinful life.
One afternoon, strolling the streets of Rome, Catherine heard the voice of St. Dominic. This was the early 13th century and it was not unusual to cross paths with this great man of God.
On this particular day, he was preaching on the devotion to the Mother of God and the importance of praying her most holy Rosary. Caught up in the moment, Catherine had her name inscribed in the book of the confraternity and began to recite the Rosary. Though praying the Rosary gave her a sense of calmness she had not known before, Catherine did not abandon her sinful ways.
One evening, a youth, apparently a nobleman, came to her house. Catherine invited the handsome young man to stay to dine with her. When they were at supper, she saw drops of blood falling from his hands while he was breaking a piece of bread. Moments later, she observed, much to her discomfort, that all the food he took was tinged with blood.
Gathering up some courage to appease her curiosity, she asked him what that blood meant. With a firm but gentle look in his eyes, the youth replied that a Christian should take no food that was not tinged with the blood of Jesus Christ and sweetly seasoned with the memory of His passion.
Amazed at this reply, Catherine asked him who he was. "Soon," he answered, "I will show you." The rest of their meal passed uneventfully, yet always the drops of red catching Catherine’s eye, causing her to wonder about this man she supped with.
After dinner, when they had withdrawn into another room, the appearance of the youth changed. To Catherine’s stunned gaze, he showed himself crowned with thorns, his flesh torn and bleeding.
With the same firm but gentle gaze he said to her: “Do you wish to know who I am? Do you not know me? I am your Redeemer. Catherine, when will you cease to offend me? See how much I have suffered for you. You have grieved me enough, change your life."
Catherine began to weep bitterly, and Jesus, encouraging her, said: "Now begin to love me as much as you have offended me; and know that you have received this grace from me, on account of the Rosary you have been accustomed to recite in honor of my mother." And then he disappeared.
Catherine went in the morning to make her confession to St. Dominic, whose preaching on the Rosary had brought so marvelous a grace into her life. Giving to the poor all she possessed, from that day forward Catherine led so holy and joyful a life that she attained to great perfection.
It could now be said of her among the inhabitants of Rome that Catherine was indeed beautiful, but her beauty was no longer skin deep; her loveliness radiated from the depths of her soul.
The Most Holy Virgin often appeared to her; and Jesus himself revealed to St. Dominic, that this penitent had become very dear to him.
From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.