A Pope and an Ursuline

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Saint Pius V, Pope
Blessed Marie de l'Incarnation, Ursuline

O God, who raised up Pope Saint Pius V within your Church
to uphold the faith
and to provide for a liturgy more worthy of you,
grant that, through his intercession,
we may participate in your mysteries
with a lively faith and a fruitful charity.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

The Teresa of the New World

There are two saints on today's calendar who can help us better understand what it means to be Catholic. Blessed Marie de l'Incarnation (1599-1672), the widow of Claude Martin and mother of an illustrious Benedictine of the same name, founded the Ursuline Monastery of Québec in 1639. She is counted among the great spiritual mothers of the Church in North America. Bossuet called her "the Teresa of the New World." There was nothing narrow about Marie de l'Incarnation; hers was a heart dilated by the Holy Spirit to the dimensions of the Heart of Christ.

My Spirit Did Not Cease Its Travels

What the cloistered Ursuline wrote in 1654 is extraordinarily relevant today:

In spirit I roamed through the vast stretches of the Indies, of Japan and China, and kept company with those laboring to spread the Gospel there. I felt closely united to these workers because I felt that I was one with them in spirit. While it is true that in body I was bound by my rule of enclosure, nevertheless my spirit did not cease its travels, nor did my heart cease its loving solicitations to the Eternal Father for the salvation of the many millions of souls whom I constantly offered him. (The Relation of 1654)

A Fruitful Pontificate

Better known is the Dominican Pope Saint Pius V (1504-1572). His was a wonderfully fruitful pontificate of only six years, from 1566 to 1572. In 1566, implementing the orientations of the Council of Trent, he promulgated the Roman Catechism; in 1568 he reformed the Divine Office; and in 1570 he gave the Church the Roman Missal that came to bear his name.

A Pope of the Rosary

Saint Pius V established the feast of Our Lady of Victory, later called Our Lady of the Rosary, on October 7th in thanksgiving for the victory of the Christian navy over the invading Turks. He attributed that victory to the Blessed Virgin and to the prayer of the Rosary. In 1588 the body of Saint Pius V was transferred to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, a fitting testimony to his devotion to the Mother of God.

The Sacred Liturgy

The Collect for the feast of Saint Pius V recalls, in particular, his promotion of the sacred liturgy. The liturgy of the Church is what saves us again and again from narrowness, from the limitations of our subjective impressions, and from spiritual fossilization. The liturgy is what opens us day after day to vast horizons, connecting us vitally to every cell of the Mystical Body vivified by the Precious Blood.

2 Comments

Thanks for writing about Blessed Marie de L'Incarnation. I did a little searching on her and found out ,"at night, at candlelight, she wrote thousands of letters to her son, to her friends and benefactors in France." She seems like she was a very interesting Saint from this, and also from what you wrote, Father Mark. I never heard of her before. Thanks again for teaching about this wonderful woman.

Excellent thought about the liturgy "saving us from narrowness, from the limitation of our subjective impressions and from spiritual fosilization." Sometimes people speak of "creative" liturgy as if being "creative" were broadening but just the opposite happens. "Creativity" is often nothing more than the impostion of one's personal ideology/theology/spirituality on the body of Christ.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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