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This may be something that happens somewhere between late middle and old age but, increasingly, I find myself recalling things read when I was in my teens. Thinking about Saint Mary Magdalene today, I remembered how much this passage impressed me when I came upon it in William T. Walsh's Life of Saint Teresa of Avila.

"I had a very great devotion to the glorious Magdalene, and very frequently used to think of her conversion--especially when I went to Communion. As I knew for certain that our Lord was then within me, I used to place myself at His feet, thinking that my tears would not be despised. I did not know what I was saying; only He did great things for me, in that He was pleased I should shed those tears, seeing that I so soon forgot that impression. I used to recommend myself to that glorious Saint, that she might obtain my pardon." (Autobiography of Saint Teresa of Jesus, Chapter IX)

My friend from long ago, Trappist Father Bernard Bonowitz, may not remember this, but back in the 1960s we both delighted in this passage. In some way it kindled a fire in our hearts.

Into the Secret Harbor

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An Endorsement

Once again, I want to endorse Secret Harbor -- Portus Secretioris, a blog that is, quite simply, the fruit of assiduous lectio divina and persevering prayer. Its author is Jeff, a married man and father.

One must be discriminating in reading blogs. How easy it is to waste time and to mistake reading about the interior life on the internet for living it! It isn't possible nor is it salutary to read everyone on everything, but I do suggest putting Secret Harbor on your daily reading list. I recommend it to anyone seeking to grow in Divine Intimacy.

Saints Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs

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Tomorrow, the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian, is Lisa Hoffer's 50th birthday. Born under the protection of the Holy Physicians, Lisa pursues their vocation. The daughter of a physician, Lisa is a marvelously competent and compassionate nurse, and soon will be a licensed Nurse Practitioner. Happy Birthday, Lisa! May Saints Cosmas and Damian intercede for you.

Saints of the Roman Canon

From the end of the fourth century right up until 1970 the Mass of the Roman Rite was never celebrated without commemorating today's martyrs, Saints Cosmas and Damian. The names of Cosmas and Damian are enshrined in the "Communicantes" prayer of the Roman Canon. For well over a thousand years, the Roman Canon was the only Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman Church. The fact that the names of Cosmas and Damian were pronounced in every single Mass celebrated from the time of Saint Gregory the Great to that of Paul VI has conferred on them an aura of venerable familiarity. They are inscribed in the collective Catholic memory.

Loved in the East

Looking Eastward, we see a similar attachment to Saints Cosmas and Damian. They are named explicitly at every Byzantine Divine Liturgy at the moment of the preparation of the bread and wine. Placing a piece of bread on the holy diskos, the priest says, "In honour and memory of the holy, wonderworking, and Moneyless Ones . . . and all the holy physicians labouring without pay." Moneyless physicians labouring without pay! What a marvelous notion! One begins to understand why Saints Cosmas and Damian came to occupy a place of choice in the affection of the Christian people.

Healing by the Power of Christ

Who were Cosmas and Damian? Tradition has it that they were twin brothers, Arabs by race, and physicians, practicing their profession without claiming payment from their patients. Hence they were known as the "moneyless" or "unmercenary" physicians. The lesson formerly read at Matins has this lovely line: "Not more by their knowledge of medicine than by the power of Christ they healed diseases which had been hopeless for others." Ultimately, Cosmas and Damian gave their lives in witness to the Divine Physician Christ. They were honoured first in the East, and by the sixth century they had their own basilica in Rome where they were depicted in mosaics which can still be seen today.

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Pray for Lisa Hoffer Today

O God, the life of Thy faithful,
and their Father most provident
amidst the changes and adversities of this life,
Who hast been pleased to bring Thy handmaid Lisa
to this her fiftieth birthday;
increase within her a lively faith,
an irrepressible hope,
and a tender charity;
renew for her the seven gifts of Thy Holy Spirit
and multiply for her His twelve fruits.

Thus, may she continue her pilgrimage in joy,
going from strength to strength,
and, in all circumstances, giving thanks.

Let the Blessed Virgin Mary,
the Immaculate Mother of Thine Only-Begotten Son,
enfold Lisa in her protecting mantle,
together with Christopher her spouse,
and Agathe and Theodor, their children
Let Thy holy Angels, we beseech Thee,
surround them in all their comings and goings.

Father of mercies,
graciously multiply Thy handmaid's days with many years
and by Thy kindly light, lead her, at length,
into Thy presence in heaven,
that she may sing Thy praises forever
in the company of Thy saints
and of those whom Thou hast given her
to cherish and to serve in this valley of tears.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Intercession for Physicians and Nurses

It is no surprise that Cosmas and Damian came to be invoked as the patron saints of physicians, surgeons, and other health care givers. For this reason, I remember today all the physicians and nurses who have cared for us in the past, and who care for us now.

The Word That Heals

In some way we are, all of us, moneyless health care givers. There is a long tradition of this -- an apostolic one, in fact. Remember Saint Peter saying at the "gate which is called Beautiful" (Ac 3:2) "I have no silver or gold, but I give you what I have" (Ac 3:6). Peter then offered healing in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The charism of healing may not given to all, but the word of comfort, the word of the Lord that dispels fear and brings assurance, is something that each of us can offer. Holy Father Benedict, speaking of the cellarer of the monastery, says that, "a good word is above the highest gift" (RB 31:14). If words can wound, bringing suffering, they can also heal, bringing light and peace.

Healing in the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of Christ

The words that bring us together day after day for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass -- "This is my Body which will be given up for you," and "This is the cup of my Blood" -- are words of healing. They come forth from the mouth of the Divine Physician, moneyless and unmercenary who, "though he was rich, yet for your sake became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (2 Cor 8:9).

Trentotto anni di messa!

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For The Reverend Monsignor Arthur B. Calkins on the 38th Anniversary of His Ordination to the Holy Priesthood:

"The Holy Spirit will honour Mary and, through Mary, the Holy Spirit will be honoured, beginning from the heart of priests. Two new glories are held in reserve for the world: the reign of the Holy Spirit through Mary and a new awareness stirred up by the Holy Spirit in the spiritual and Christian world of the sorrowful and loving years of Mary's solitude. In these two things, I too will be honoured together with my Father from whom I never separate myself, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

And so, if my priests want to make progress in virtue they must do it by means of Mary; if they want to grow in knowledge and in love for the Holy Spirit, they must become ever more hers. More and more then let them make known and glorify these years of her solitude.

There is nothing surer than to avail themselves of the Holy Spirit and of Mary for their transformation into Me and, even more, for the perfection (insofar as this is possible on earth) of the union of the members of the Church among themselves, and the perfect Unity in the Trinity that I am seeking in a thousand ways."

The text is from Sacerdoti di Cristo by Conchita Cabrera de Armida, p. 387. The translation is my own.

Sacred Triduum in Buffalo

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Father Jacob Restrick, O.P., Mother Mary Gemma, O.P., and the community of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Buffalo, New York were most gracious hosts during the Paschal Triduum. My friendship with Father Jacob goes back thirty years. It was a joy to see him again and to serve at the altar with him.

The Dominican Nuns of the Buffalo monastery sing Gregorian Chant, using both the Roman Gradual and the chant books proper to the Order of Preachers. I was invited to sing the Exultet in Latin, using the distinctive Dominican melody with its glorious melisms over key words, such as haec.

This was, by far, the most restful Sacred Triduum I have had in over three decades. Father Jacob and I were able to share the preaching and the officiating. Paul Z. acted as Master of Ceremonies with his customary competency. The community took care of the chant. It was lovely to be able to take a more quiet approach to the heart of the liturgical year!

On Holy Saturday morning, I was very happy to meet young Brendan Y., a Vultus Christi reader in Buffalo. In the afternoon, Father Jacob drove us to Lackawanna to visit the magnificent Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Victory, built by Father Nelson Baker in 1925.

Easter Sunday Mass was at 8:30. After a festive breakfast, Father Jacob drove Paul Z. and me to the airport to catch our flight back to Connecticut. Deo gratias, alleluia, alleluia.

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Monsignor Patrick Brankin was kind enough to remind me that the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Zapopan in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Expectation. The same Little Virgin is venerated at the Shrine of Saint Thérèse in Collinsville, Oklahoma.

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Santa Croce in Gerusalemme has a small monastic foundation in Guadalajara. One of the three solemnly professed monks there is my very dear friend, Fra Leone Maria. Fra Leone has a personal devotion to Nuestra Señora de la Expectacíon of Zapopan; his family has their own precious image of the diminutive and much loved Virgin. He had a picture of her in his cell at Santa Croce in Rome.

Shortly after the conquistador Francisco de Bobadilla founded Tzapopa (later called Zapopan) in 1541, Franciscan friars arrived to evangelize the native population. Fray Antonio of Segovia arrived carrying in one hand a crucifix and, in the other, a little statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The statue gave off sparks of heavenly light. The Indians, fascinated and subjugated by the Virgin Mother of Jesus, ceased their resistance and accepted the Gospel.

The Little Virgin won the hearts of the people of Zapopan by granting them abundant graces and miracles. In the mid-1600s, the bishop fixed her feast on December 18th, conferring on the statue the title of Nuestra Señora de la O or de la Expectacíon. It became customary to transfer the statue to Guadalajara in times of special need or crisis. Even today, the Little Virgin spends part of the year, from June 13th to October 5th in Guadalajara. Our Lady of Zapopan is the patroness of the state of Jalisco. On January 18, 1921 she was solemnly crowned.

The statue, made of wood, is very small: just a little over 13 inches tall. Our Lady's tunic is an earthy red and her mantle is blue. She stands on the crescent moon, just as she does at Guadalupe, and her hands are folded in prayer, just as they are at Guadalupe. It is customary to dress the statue in gorgeous clothes. The Little Virgin wears a wig and a golden crown set with jewels. A little reliquary containing an image of the Child Jesus is suspended below her breast. This is reminiscent of the Byzantine icons of Our Lady of the Sign.

Join with me in wishing Fra Leone and the community of the monastery of Santa Cruz of Guadalajara a very blessed feast of Nuestra Señora de la Expectacíon.

Ecce quam bonum et quam jucundum

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What do these Catholic bloggers do when they meet? Pray. Sing. Talk. Eat. Pray. Sing. Talk. Eat. Did I mention the singing? This photo of Father Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. of Rifugio San Gaspare, Richard Chonak of Catholic Light, and myself was taken in the entrance garden of the little church of the Monastery of the Glorious Cross, O.S.B. in Branford, Connecticut.

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Yesterday we sang the beautiful Ordinary XII (Pater cuncta), together with the Introit Salus autem and the Alleluia Te martyrum from the Mass of SS. Pontian and Hippolytus. Mass at the Monastery of the Glorious Cross is at 11:50 on weekdays and at 11:00 on Sundays and Solemnities. When I am not serving as chaplain the times of Mass may vary, so call ahead.

The monastery church had to be designed in an existing space. The building is the former Connecticut Hospice. The low ceiling posed real problems. We opened it up with two light wells: one directly over the altar, and another directly over the place where Holy Communion is distributed. The low walls surrounding the sanctuary were another challenge. They contain all sorts of pipes and wiring and could not be removed. We integrated them into the design to form a very effective delineation of the the sanctuary. The Benedictine nuns are in two choirs to the right and left of the sanctuary. The lay faithful have chairs and kneelers facing the sanctuary.

The crucifix came from the workshops of the Nuns of Bethlehem and of the Assumption. The icons of the Saviour and of the Mother of God are by a Benedictine of Jesus Crucified in France.

We are presently holding a Novena of Masses for the happy repose of the souls of all those who died in the monastery building while it was The Connecticut Hospice.

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Yes, I do celebrate Holy Mass ad orientem. The wrought iron gates in front of the tabernacle are closed during the Holy Sacrifice and remain open outside of Mass. The conical chasuble of red wool is the work of Vincent Crosby. He explains the conical form of the chasuble:

The chasuble originated in the everyday dress of the Roman citizen at the beginning of the Christian era. It was known as the paenula, the outer garment that entirely enveloped the figure and hung in radiating folds. It had a cone-like or conical shape. To free the hands it was necessary to gather up the material into graceful folds across the forearms.

Over the centuries the shape of the chasuble has altered, reflecting changes in liturgical theology and presidential style. But the classic form of the conical chasuble remains the authentic shape of the Eucharistic vestment.

For the artist, it is a more interesting garment to design because unlike the more static “gothic” chasuble, the conical chasuble changes as it responds to the human body. It is also a more rewarding garment to wear because of the beauty of its folds.


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. . . Having completed His sacrifice, and giving up His spirit, the side of Christ is pierced and out flowed blood and water. It is as if this heart of Christ, having spent itself totally in compassion for sinful man, has one last treasure to give in death. This is the final act, the completion of Christ’s total gift to us and to the Father.

Be sure to visit Rationabile Obsequium, the splendid new blog of a recently ordained priest whom I am privileged to count among my friends. Don't miss the homily of Father B's First Mass of Thanksgiving on the mystery of the pierced Heart of Christ. Bravo, dear Father!

Woundedness

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Terry's commentary on Jacob's struggle is magnificent. Read the whole text at Abbey–Roads2.

This wrestling in the night can also suggest the spiritual combat involved in overcoming temptation and sin - perhaps even our unconscious resistance to God’s grace.

Ultimately, the fight Jacob engaged in can inspire in a soul who struggles with temptation and sin an abiding hope, thus encouraging the soul to persevere in the spiritual combat that is the Christian life. God allows this wrestling to test the soul, enjoying the intimacy of man pressing against His Sacred Heart in the battle. . . .

It is something few of us ever realize, this intimate contact with God amidst our greatest struggles; in the experience of our deepest, darkest, and most painful moments. Oftentimes we cannot perceive His presence, much less His plan for us - while our human nature seeks desperately to repel the experience. And our Lord seems reluctant to give us any evidence of His love during these times, except that which Jacob received, the painful dislocation of his hip. Again, for me, this image suggests that in and through our woundedness, we thus enter into a deeper humility, with less confidence in our own devices and a greater dependence and confidence in the mercy and love of God.

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Let Thy gracious favour,
we beseech Thee, O Lord,
sustain Thy faithful,
that those whom Thou hast instructed
by the example of the virtues of Blessed Anna Maria,
may, by her intercession,
be strengthed in holy works on earth
so as to deserve to be crowned with her in heaven.

Women I Admire

June 9th is the feast of Blessed Anna Maria Taigi (1769-1837). She is dear to me because she reminds me of certain friends of mine — married women with children — who, like her, bear their crosses with generosity, dignity, and prayer. Blessed Anna Maria was gifted with a globe of light floating above her heads in which she could see the needs of the Church and of the world. In this “television” of spiritual energy she saw answers to her questions and solutions to her difficulties; from it she received direction for herself and for those who recommended themselves to her prayers. My friends do not have globes of light floating above their heads. They do have constancy in prayer, patience in tribulation, and love for their families.

Making a Home Catholic

Anna Maria arranged a little domestic oratory in her home: a crucifix, an image of the Blessed Mother and one of Saint Philomena, and a lamp, the oil of which was instrumental in working miracles. Her family prayed the rosary together every evening, followed by the reading of life of the saint of the day. They used Holy Water in their comings and goings, observed Sunday as a day of worship and of rest, and visited the sick in Rome’s hospitals. Early in her married life Anna Maria joined the Trinitarian Third Order and wore their distinctive white scapular with the blue and red cross on it. Once when Our Lord was about to ravish her into a mystical ecstasy, she said to Him, “Leave me alone. Be off with you. I have work to do. I am the mother of a family.”

Patience

She bore patiently with her husband’s roughness and outbursts of temper; he once sent the table set for dinner flying into the air and, another time, threw an upholstered chair out the window, aiming it at the head of his son running away in the street below. Anna Maria also cared for her aged parents — embittered, demanding people — with gentleness and calm.

Detachment

Cardinals, bishops, princes and noble ladies heard of Anna Maria’s mystical gifts and sought her counsel. She helped them with simplicity and never accepted money or gifts in exchange, even when these would have benefited her family. “One must not,” she said, “mix up money with the works of God.”

The Heavenly Patroness of Housewives and Mothers

On Friday 2 June 1837 she took to bed with a violent fever. A barbaric medical treatment exhausted her. She died on Friday, 9 February, at sixty–four years of age. Anna Maria left a reputation of holiness and good works. Her husband Domenico lived to give witness to her virtues at the canonical process in view of her beatification. After eighteen years, her coffin was opened: her body was like that of a person who had just fallen asleep. On 18 August 1865 her body was transferred to the Church of San Crisogono in Trastevere where it remains to the present day, still incorrupt. Pope Benedict XV beatified Anna Maria Taigi, wife and mother, on 30 May 1920.

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Cast into the furnace of love, the Heart of Jesus,
all your anxieties,
your trials, your fears,
so that He may burn them away.
— Mother Clelia Merloni


Mother Clelia Merloni founded the Congregation of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Viareggio, Italy on May 30, 1894, 113 years ago today. The photo is not of Mother Clelia but of one of the first Sisters sent from Italy to America. With one little orphan in her arms and another holding her hand, she is the perfect image of the Apostle called to be a spouse of Jesus Christ and a mother to those dearest to His Sacred Heart: the little, the vulnerable, the poor.

The daughters of Mother Clelia make reparation to the Sacred Heart by means of their life of adoration and apostolic service to the Church. For every "No" to the love and mercy of the pierced Heart of Christ, the Sister Apostle offers her own unconditional "Yes."

The Generalate of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is located within the parish confines of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, a mere five minutes from the basilica.

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"And it shall come to pass after this, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy: your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Moreover upon my servants and handmaids in those days I will pour forth my spirit" (Joel 2:28–29).

Brian Geraghty visited Santa Croce in Gerusalemme May 25 and 26, joining us in the choir and refectory. Brian also came to the novitiate Rosary in the chapel of the Madonna di Buon Aiuto on Saturday afternoon, leading a decade in English.

Brian left Rome for Poland on the Vigil of Pentecost after First Vespers. Fra Ryan Maria was kind enough to drive him and his enormous backpack to the train station. Brian's plans were to stop in Vienna for the Pentecost Mass in Saint Stephen's Cathedral and then continue on to Wadowice, Jasna Gora, and Auschwitz.

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View from the roof terrace of the Pontifical Irish College. In the foreground is the Augustinian Monastery of the Santi Quattro Coronati. The dome of Saint Peter's is visible in the distance

The Reverend Mr. Bernard Healy invited me to visit him at the Pontifical Irish College today. Before lunch he guided me through the house, pointing out the various works of art. Bernard knew of my special devotion to Blessed Abbot Columba Marmion (1858–1923), an alumnus of the College, and of my interest in Archbishop Tobias Kirby, its rector from 1850 to 1891.

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The wood sculpture of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Regina Coeli, is the work of a contemporary Irish artist and is in the chapel of the Irish Martyrs.

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In the same chapel is this tabernacle with its fine Celtic tracery. Bernard explained that its design is based on ancient Irish house reliquaries.

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Would you have recognized him? This is none other than Blessed Abbot Columba Marmion, O.S.B. He was obliged to travel in disguise during World War I while searching for a refuge in Ireland for the monks of his abbey of Maredsous in Belgium.

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This is the painting of Blessed Marmion — looking very abbatial — on the College's grand staircase.

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On the opposite side of the same staircase one finds Saint Oliver Plunkett.

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And this is Archbishop Tobias Kirby. Born on January 1, 1804, he was baptized on January 6, 1804. Kirby wrote an important thesis on Papal Infallibility. He was ordained in 1833 and was appointed Vice Rector of the Irish College in Rome in 1837, succeeding Cardinal Cullen as Rector in 1870. He was appointed Titular Bishop of Lita in 1882 and Archbishop of Ephesus in 1885. Old age obliged Archbishop Kirby to retire in 1891. He died on January 20, 1895 and was laid to rest in Rome.

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Last week this distinguished group of clergy bloggers met for discussion and refreshment in the piazza del Pantheon. From right to left: Michael, seminarian at the English College; the Rev. Mr. D. Bernard Healy, Pontifical Irish College; Brother Edward of the Oratory; the Rev. Tim Finegan, PP. of Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen; the Rev. Charles Briggs; and Don Marco, O.Cist. The photo was taken, I think, by Father Zuhlsdorf.

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Thirty–Seven Years of Mass

I am dedicating this special entry to my friend Monsignor Arthur Burton Calkins on the 37th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood or, as we say in Italian, “after 37 years of Mass.” Monsignor Calkins is more familiar than anyone else I know with the writings of the Servant of God Louise–Marguerite Claret de la Touche. I ask her to intercede for him today.

A Find at Santa Maria in Ara Coeli

I am becoming increasingly sensitive to the little manifestations of Divine Providence — God’s “gentle leadings with bands of love” — on a daily basis. Last Saturday a dear friend invited me to visit the Church of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli with her. After making our devotions and spending a moment before the church’s famous Santo Bambino, we stopped for a moment in the gift shop to look at its impressive display of icon reproductions. All of a sudden I was drawn to this particular image. It look vaguely familiar to me. I found the Face of Christ, the pierced Side, and the inscription, “It is mercy that I desire,” strangely compelling. I also felt that the little image was destined for my friend. She went home with it. Later that day, after some searching, I identified it as the image painted by Louise–Marguerite Claret de la Touche (1868–1915), one of the last century’s most notable mystics of the Sacred Heart and a spiritual advocate for priests.

The Painting

Mother Louise–Marguerite Claret de la Touche was fond of drawing and painting: a popular pastime in Visitation monasteries of the last century. She left a number of pictures of landscapes, animals, flowers, and still–lifes. It is, however, her inspired painting of the Merciful Jesus, that continues to touch hearts and move them to prayer.

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Father Charrier, S.J., Louise–Marguerite’s confessor, ordered her to execute the painting after she related to him a vision in which Our Lord manifested Himself revealing His wounded side. (The similarities with the experience of Saint Faustina Kowalska are striking.)

Meekness and Majesty

Louise–Marguerite painted the image at the end of 1902 and the beginning of 1903. It is unlike other pictures of the Sacred Heart dating from the same epoch. The Face of Christ resembles that of the Holy Shroud of Turin. The eyes of Christ seem to search the soul of the one meeting His gaze. Around the head of Christ the artist painted a double halo: the first represents a crown of thorns; the second, adorned with three stylized lilies, bears the inscription, Misericordiam volo, “It is mercy that I desire” (Mt 9:13).

Contemplating the image, one discovers at the same time the meekness of Jesus and His majesty. Meekness and majesty are inseparable in Him. Gesturing with His hand, Our Lord indicates His pierced Side. The opening in His tunic has, in effect, the shape of a heart.

The Sacred Side

The image represents the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy: “They shall look on Him whom they pierced” (Jn 19:37). The pierced Side of Christ reveals the infinite love of His Heart; it is the wellspring of His mercy.

Call Me Mercy

Mother Louise–Marguerite’s own writings tell of what inspired her in painting the image:
“One day, prostrate at the feet of Jesus, I was calling Him my soul’s one and only Good, the sovereign love of my heart, the infinite treasury of all riches. In the end I said to Him, ‘My Jesus, how do You want me to address you?’ And He answered, ‘Call me Mercy!’ O my sweet Mercy, O Jesus who died of love upon this Cross, grant that, brought back to you by the appeal of Your Mercy, we may live from Your love and for your love’! (Diary, Good Friday, 13 April 1900)

Priest, Temple, and Door

Notice that the image represents the majesty of the “Eternal High Priest,” of the “Divine Sacrificer” Who, from His open Side, continues to pour out “life–giving torrents of Infinite Love” upon humanity and, in particular, upon priests. The lanced pierced His right side: an evident allusion to the vision recounted in Chapter 47 of the prophet Ezekiel. Christ is, at once, the “High Priest” (Heb 4:14) and the Temple (Jn 2:21). Saving water streams out from below the right side of the Temple, and swells to become “a river” producing life in abundance wherever it flows. In this light, the wound in the Side of Christ is revealed also as “the door” (Jn 10:7) through which one enters the Holy of Holies to “obtain mercy and gind grace” (Heb 4:16).

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A Guest from the Irish College

The Reverend Mr. Bernard Healy of the Pontifical Irish College visited me today. He was interested in seeing the Chapel of the Madonna di Bon Aiuto. We strolled in the rain–washed monastery garden, enjoying the white roses that are blossoming in profusion, as you can see in the photo above.

May Devotions in the Chapel of Bon Aiuto

The postulants and novices returned with me for the second day of May to pray the holy rosary in the chapel of the Madonna di Bon Aiuto. The Rosary is a deceptively simple prayer. The power of the Rosary is completely disproportionate to the effort required to pray it well. The secret is to begin saying it and to persevere in saying it whether one feels consolation or not. The Rosary is powerful because, almost imperceptibly, it changes the heart of the one who prays it, liberates from sin, and heals wounds resistant to every other treatment.

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Why the Devil Hates the Rosary

The devil, of course, hates the Rosary, precisely because it changes hearts, detaches from sin, attaches to the all–pure Mother of God, and leads to conversion. One of the ploys he uses to deter people from praying it is to suggest that unless one can pray it well, i.e. perfectly, one shouldn't pray it at all. I would suggest, rather, that the Rosary, even prayed badly, is better than no Rosary at all. The Rosary, exactly like the Jesus Prayer, opens the heart to seeds of contemplation that, in the end, become the fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.


The Rosary in Bits and Pieces

One should use every opportunity to pray the Rosary, even when can do so only in bits and pieces. The Holy Mother of God knows well how to sort out the bits and pIeces offered by her children. Those who persevere in the humble recitation of the Rosary are able to say, quoting the psalmist, that it "revives the soul, gives wisdom to the simple, rejoices the heart, and gives light to the eyes" (Ps 18:7–8).

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Today I had the pleasure of welcoming Brian Geraghty, studying here in Rome with Loyola University, and his parents visiting from San Francisco. Mr. Geraghty is the brother of Sister M. Marcella, O.S.B. of the Monastery of the Glorious Cross in Branford, Connecticut. He is also a gardener and was impressed with our orto. Brian is not a first–time visitor to Santa Croce. He was pleased to have his parents join us for pranzo in the monastic refectory.

I also showed Brian and his parents the Basilica, the Chapel of the Sacred Relics of the Cross and Passion, the tomb of the Servant of God "Nennolina" Antonietta Meo, and the abbatial library. We also viewed the abbey garden from the roof terrace. See the photo below.

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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