Monday, April 24, 2017

How to win

In the spiritual life, one does not sustain honorable losses.
War honors
come only with victory.
And winning consists in not abandoning the cross
even when one falls beneath it. It consists in persevering
amidst the apparent failures of external works,
amidst adversity, in the exhaustion of all of one’s strength.
It consists in carrying the cross to the height of Calvary, and, there,
letting oneself be crucified.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen

Fidelis was born Mark Rey in Sigmaringen in Prussia, and was the son of the town's burgomaster. Pursuing studies at the University of Freiburg in Bresigau, he eventually taught philosophy, while working towards a degree in law.

In 1604, he was appointed tutor to a small group of noble youths and with them made a six-year tour of Europe. His pupils, who grew to respect and love him, attested to the austerity and holiness of his life.

On his return to Germany, he took a doctorate in law and was soon known for his integrity and for his espousal of the cause of the oppressed. Still, the corruption within the legal profession disgusted him and he decided to enter the Capuchin branch of the Franciscan Order.

He was a preacher and confessor of great repute and from the beginning of his apostolic life fought heresy, especially in the form of Calvinism and Zwinglianism, not only through preaching but also with his pen.

Appointed, with eight others, apostle of the region of Grison with the mission of bringing its people back to the faith, he undertook the project with courage and dedication. From the start the wonderful effect of his zeal infuriated his adversaries. They roused the peasants against him by spreading the rumor that he was an enemy of their national aspirations and the agent of the Austrian Emperor.

Fidelis was warned, but chose to spend several nights in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament at the feet of a crucifix. On April 24 he was back at his pulpit. A gunshot fired from the crowd missed him, but once back on the road, he was attacked by a group of armed men demanding that he renounce his Faith. He refused and was struck down while calling on God to forgive his assailants, as they mangled his body with their weapons.

The conversion of a Zwinglian minister who witnessed the scene was one of the first fruits of his martyrdom. Fidelis was canonized by Pope Benedict XIV.

Stories of Mary 32: Mary’s Charity In The Visitation



 A Reflection

Mary’s Charity In The Visitation
WE must not imagine that the Blessed Virgin Mary was moved to undertake this long journey to visit her cousin, St. Elizabeth, by curiosity to know if what the Angel had told her were true, for she had not the slightest doubt of it. Our Blessed Lady was moved by a secret impulse of God, Who wished to commence the work of Redemption and the sanctification of souls in this visit, by the sanctification of the infant St. John.
The most ardent charity and most profound humility animated her, and gave her wings to fly across the mountains of Judea, and these two virtues were also the cause of her journey. As St. Ambrose says, charity or grace knows no delays nor cold deliberations: Nescit tarda molimina sancti spiritus gratiae.
It need not therefore surprise us if the Most Holy Virgin, filled as she was with charity (because she bore in her womb Him Who is Love itself), should exercise it in continual acts towards God, to Whom she was closely united by the sacred bond of perfect love, and towards her neighbors, whom she loved so tenderly and sincerely that she sighed for the salvation and sanctification of the whole world.
She went with all alacrity, because she knew with what happy results her visit would be attended, in the person of St. John, and also because she wished to congratulate her cousin who, notwithstanding her age and sterility, had conceived the long-predicted precursor of the Word Incarnate. She went that they might rejoice together, and excite each other to glorify the God of all mercy, and to thank Him for so many favors and benedictions.
St. Luke would teach us by the words, Exurgens Maria abiit cum festinatione in montana in dvitatem Juda –‘Mary arose and went into the mountain country with haste, into a city of Judea’ – the care and readiness with which we also ought to correspond to the Divine inspirations. As it is the work of the Holy Spirit to banish all tepidity and negligence from the heart, so He would have us execute His Divine Will with all care and diligence, and He is offended by any kind of delay.
The virginal purity of Mary, which so dearly loved solitude, also caused her to go with haste, for the best protection for virginal purity is to appear as little as possible in the tumult of the world.
Having reached the house of Zachary, she entered it. She saluted Elizabeth. The Evangelist does not relate that she saluted Zachary also, for her love of purity was so great that she spoke little with men. Let virgins learn from this that they cannot take too great care for the preservation of this virtue.
Who can imagine the sweet fragrance of this most beautiful lily in the house of Zachary during the three months that she remained there? How well did she spend every instant! What honey, what precious balsam, must those sacred lips have distilled in the few but excellent words that they uttered! Indeed, Mary could speak only that which filled her heart, and that was Jesus!
Let us consider the meaning of the words, that ‘Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost’ – Et repleta est Spiritu Sancto Elisabeth – that Elizabeth, who had already received the Holy Ghost with all His gifts, received a new fullness and a new increase of grace by this visit. Although the Lord grants His graces to the just in full measure, yet, as the Gospel says, this measure can be so augmented as to overflow on all sides: Mensuram bonam confertam et coagitatam et supereffluentem dabunt in sinum vestrum.
Let us well understand this important truth. The grace of the Holy Ghost can never be granted to us in this life in such full measure that it cannot be augmented; therefore, let us beware of saying: “It is enough; I am sufficiently enriched with graces and virtues. Mensura conferta est – the measure is filled up, further progress in mortification is unnecessary.”
He who should speak thus would only show too clearly his misery, or, rather, his presumption, and the great danger to which he exposes himself. Omni habenti dabitur et abundabit, ei autem qui non habet et quod videtur habere auferetur ab eo. This text signifies that to him who has received much – that is to say, who has labored much, and never gives up – much shall be given.
Such a one believes that he has never done enough; but, conscious of his own misery, he continues to labor with holy and sincere humility. He, then, who possesses much, shall receive with usury, and superabundantly; but from him who profits not by the grace received, letting it lie idle and fruitless, because he believes he is rich enough, from him shall be taken that which he thinketh himself to possess and that which he does not possess.
This means that graces already received shall be taken away, because he has not traded with them, and those which have been prepared for him shall not be bestowed upon him, since he has rendered himself unworthy of them by his negligence. All this, however, is not to be understood of sufficient grace, which is never denied by God to anyone, but of efficacious grace, which, by a just judgment of God, is not granted to tepid and ungrateful souls.
The thirst for riches and honors, by which worldlings are tormented, never allows them to say, Enough. And yet they ought to be contented with a little, for experience teaches us that the highest dignities and honors and great wealth frequently occasion the loss of souls. It is in regard of such temporal matters that we should say, I have sufficient.
But, with regard to spiritual goods, let us never believe that we possess them in sufficient abundance, so long as we remain in this land of exile, but let us make every possible effort to advance day by day from virtue to virtue.
Experience teaches us that plants and fruits do not attain maturity until they have produced their seeds, which are necessary for the reproduction of their species. In the same way our virtues will never be sufficiently perfected, or reach their maturity, until they produce within us an ardent desire to make further progress. This desire is
the spiritual seed which produces new degrees of virtue.

Consecration of the Saturday to Mary
Holy Church is ever desirous to maintain a tender devotion in the hearts of the faithful towards the Most Blessed Virgin, and from the earliest ages of Christianity she has encouraged the consecration of the Saturday to her.
It is related that there was in the church of Santa Sofia at Constantinople a picture of the Mother of God which was veiled during the rest of the week, but on Friday evening the veil was raised without human aid, and lowered on the evening of Saturday.
Thus did Almighty God manifest His Will that Saturday should be dedicated to Mary. It was on Saturday she took so great a part in the work of our redemption, and it was fitting that on the morrow of the day when she so bitterly wept over the sorrowful scene of Calvary we should remember her tears shed for us in a special manner.
Again, on Saturday God rested from His work in the creation of the world, and the Church consecrates this day to her, to honor the mysterious repose of the Holy Ghost in her Immaculate Heart, and that of Our Blessed Savior in her chaste womb. Saturday is the introduction to Sunday – the symbol of eternal rest – and the Holy Virgin is truly invoked under the title of “Gate of Heaven” – Janua Caeli.
Saturday, moreover, is the day between Friday, the day of mourning, and Sunday, the day of joy and the Holy Virgin is the mediatrix between God, Who is Eternal Beatitude, and man, who is subject to endless evils and miseries.
Mary is the way to arrive at Jesus, and Saturday is a prelude to the solemnity of Sunday. Saturday is as a magnificent portal consecrated to the Mother of God, by which we enter the Sanctuary of God Himself. The Saints held this day in great esteem – on it they redoubled their pious exercises – and many begged, as a signal favor, that they might die on a Saturday.


This “Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary” is taken from The Month of Mary, According to the Spirit of St. Francis de Sales; by Don Gaspar Gilli; translated and abridged from the Italian by a Sister of the Institute of Charity. Robert Washbourne, London. 1890. Nihil Obstat: Fr. T.A. Smith, O.P. Imprimatur:Henricus Eduardus, March 14, 1890.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Stories of Mary 31: Mary and The Jealous Wife



"Mary Is The Hope Of All"

It is related in the Fourth Part of the Treasure of the Rosary, miracle eighty-fifth, that a gentleman who was most devoted to the divine mother, had set apart in his palace an oratory where, before a beautiful statue of Mary, he was accustomed often to remain praying, not only by day, but also by night, interrupting his rest to go and honor his beloved Lady; but his wife, for he was married, though she was a very devout person, observing that her husband in the deepest silence of the night left his bed, and going from his apartment did not return for a long time, became jealous, and was suspicious of evil; wherefore, one day, to free herself from this thorn which tormented her, she ventured to ask him if he ever loved any other woman but herself.
Smiling, he answered her: "I assure you that I love the most amiable lady in the world; to her I have given my whole heart and rather would I die than cease to love her; if you knew her, you would say that I ought to love her more than I do."
He meant the most holy Virgin whom he loved so tenderly. But his wife, conceiving a greater suspicion than before, in order to ascertain the truth better, interrogated him anew, and asked him if he arose from his bed and left the room every night to meet that lady.
The gentleman, who did not perceive the great trouble of his wife, answered "Yes." The wife was completely deceived, and, blinded by passion, one night when her husband, according to his custom, had left the chamber, seized a knife in despair, cut her throat, and very soon died.
Her husband having finished his devotion, returned to his apartment, but on going to bed, found it wet. He called his wife; she did not answer: he tried to arouse her; she was immovable. At length he took a light, found the bed full of blood, and his wife dead, with her throat cut. Then he perceived that she had destroyed herself through jealousy.
What does he do? He locks the door of his apartment, returns to the chapel, prostrates himself before the most blessed Virgin, and shedding a torrent of tears, said to her: "Oh my mother, behold my affliction: if thou dost not console me, to whom shall I go? Remember I am so unfortunate as to see my wife dead and lost because I have come hither to pay thee honor, oh my mother, who dost help us in all our troubles, help me now."
How surely does every one obtain what he wishes if he supplicates with confidence this mother of mercy! No sooner did he offer this prayer than he heard a servant-maid calling him: "My lord, come to your apartment, for your lady calls you."
The gentleman could hardly believe these words for joy. "Return," he said to the servant, "and see if she really calls me." She returned, entreating him to go quickly, for her mistress was waiting for him. He went, opened the door, and found his wife living; she threw herself at his feet in tears and begged him to pardon her, saying: "Oh, my husband, the mother of God, through thy prayer, has delivered me from hell."
Weeping for joy, they went to their oratory to thank the blessed Virgin. The next day the husband made a feast for all their relations, to whom the wife herself related the facts, at the same time showing the marks of the wound, and all were more deeply inflamed with the love of the divine mother.

PRAYER:
Oh mother of holy love, oh our life, our refuge, and our hope, thou knowest that thy Son Jesus Christ, not content with making Himself our perpetual intercessor with the eternal Father, would have thee also engaged in obtaining for us, by thy prayers, the divine mercy.
He has ordained that thy prayers should aid in our salvation, and has given such power to them that they obtain whatever they ask; I, a miserable sinner, turn to thee then, oh hope of the wretched. I hope, oh Lady, through the merits of Jesus Christ and thy intercession, to secure my salvation. In these I trust; and so entirely do I trust in thee, that if my eternal salvation were in my own hands, I would wish to place it in thine; for in thy mercy and protection I would trust far more than in my own works.
My mother and my hope, do not abandon me, as I deserve. Behold my misery, pity me, help me, save me. I confess that I have often, by my sins, shut out the light and aid which thou hast obtained for me from the Lord.
But thy compassion for the wretched and thy power with God are far greater than the number and malignity of my sins. It is known in heaven and on earth that he who is protected by thee will certainly not perish. Let all forget me, but do not thou forget me, oh mother of the omnipotent God. Say unto God that I am thy servant, tell Him that I am defended by thee, and I shall be saved.
Oh Mary, I trust in thee: in this hope I live, and in this hope I wish to die, repeating always: "Jesus is my only hope, and after Jesus, Mary."


This "Stories of Mary – Stories of the Rosary" is taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888

How evil begins

The beginning of evil
is the lack of vigilance.

St. Poemen

St. George

Though the story of St. George is intertwined with legend, especially the account of him slaying a dragon, the historicity of his life is certain.
He was of Greek origin, seemingly of a noble, Christian family. His father was Gerondios, from Capaddocia, a prominent officer in the Imperial army. His mother was Polychronia, from the city of Lyda, now in Israel.

As a youth, he lost first his father and then his mother, after which he enlisted in the Roman army under Emperor Diocletian. The latter favored him in honor of his father’s service, and George was made an Imperial Tribune.

By imperial edict, Roman soldiers were forbidden to practice Christianity. Notwithstanding this prohibition, George loudly proclaimed himself a follower of Christ before the Emperor Diocletian and his fellow soldiers. Upset at the news, the Emperor offered George an abundance of earthly goods in exchange for his Christian Faith, but George was unmoved. He endured various tortures and was finally beheaded. The Empress Alexandra was converted by his courageous example, and some interpret that while the dragon often depicted being slain by St. George is the pagan Roman might, the lady in the background is the Empress.

Devotion to St. George spread throughout Asia Minor, and already early in the fourth century churches were being dedicated to his honor.

Throughout the history of Christian battles there have been reports of St. George’s heavenly assistance, Richard I of England and other Crusaders also confirming such intercession. It is not known how St. George was chosen as patron of England, though it is certain that his fame had reached the isle long before the Norman Conquest.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sickness itself can be a prayer

The prayer of the sick person is
his patience and his acceptance of his sickness
for the love of Jesus Christ.
Make sickness itself a prayer, for there is none
more powerful, save martyrdom!

St. Francis de Sales