Saints: February 2007 Archives


Blessed Marie de Jésus Deluil–Martiny

My dear friend, Monsignor A.C., reminded me earlier this week that today, besides being the feast of Saint Gabriel of the Addolorata, is also the dies natalis and liturgical memorial of Blessed Marie de Jésus Deluil Martiny. Born to upper middle class parents on May 28, 1841 in Marseille, Marie Deluil Martiny was the eldest of five children. She belongs to the vast family of saints and blesseds surrounding the Wounded Side and Sacred Heart of Jesus. Marie's own spiritual genealogy included her great grand–aunt, the Venerable Anne–Madeleine Rémuzat (1696–1730), a Visitandine like Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–1690) and, like the saint of Paray–le–Monial, an ardent apostle of the Sacred Heart.

The Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart

The vocation of Marie Deluil Martiny unfolded in two phases. In the first, she dedicated herself to propagating the Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart, a movement of reparation and of perpetual adoration of the Heart of Jesus present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. Marie du Sacré–Coeur, a Visitandine of the monastery of Bourg–en–Bresse launched the Guard of Honour on March 13, 1863. The following year the bishop of Belley recognized the movement as a confraternity, and in 1878 Pope Leo XIII elevated it to the rank of an archconfraternity in France and Belgium.

In the beginning, the movement obliged its members to spend an hour in adoration and reparation to the Heart of Jesus before the tabernacle. The hours of the day and night were so distributed among the members as to offer the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus an uninterrupted presence of reparation and adoring love. Later on, the manner of carrying out one's assigned hour was modified: no longer was a physical presence before the tabernacle required. One could participate in the Guard of Honour without interrupting one's daily activities, simply by offering an hour of one's day in the spirit of adoration and reparation to the Sacred Heart.

Zélatrice of the Sacred Heart

Marie Deluil Martiny was the first Zélatrice (or zealous apostle and promoter) of the Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart. So effective was her apostolate that she came to be known as the Zélatrice of the Sacred Heart.

The Wound of the Divine Heart

She explains the movement in these words: "The Guard [of Honour of the Sacred Heart], the Work in itself, was placed by the Infinite Love of our Master at the entrance of the Wound of His Divine Heart. There, it calls souls, unites them, calls them together, preaches to them, if one may say so, pushes them, and draws them into the interior of the Divine Wound . . . it leads them there, and introduces them therein, after having, so to speak, opened to them the door of this sacred refuge . . . Souls, entering this safe abode are sprinkled, washed, whitened, purified, healed, and supernaturalized, by a most efficacious application of the Blood and Water that came forth from the Divine Wound.

But Jesus wants even more: this is the new step that Our Lord desires to make the souls He chosen to this end take: they must enter by the gate of the City of God, that is into the Heart of Jesus by the Divine Wound; therein will be their world, their dwelling, their place of rest."

Saint Gabriel of the Addolorata

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Saint Gabriel of the Addolorata died on February 27, 1862 at twenty-four years of age. Pope Benedict XV canonized him on May 13, 1920. A blessed feast of Saint Gabriel to all the readers of Vultus Christi who joined me in making the novena! I invite you to acknowledge graces received through his intercession in the comments section.

Click here for the Novena Prayers.


The Rich Young Man

Saint Mark (10:17-27) describes in vivid detail Jesus’ encounter with a youthful seeker. The Gospel does not say that the man is young, but his gesture and his discourse suggest the kind of spiritual idealism that rarely survives middle age. He is eager, spontaneous, and perhaps a little hasty. Our Lord seems to find these traits endearing. The Gospel does tell us that he is rich.

A Word With Jesus

He runs up to Jesus. Why does he run to him at the last minute? Was something holding him back? Fear perhaps? Does he realize that this may be his one opportunity to have a word with Jesus? He kneels before him: a gesture of reverence and humility. Only then does he blurt out his question: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mk 10:17).

O Good Jesus!

Our Lord tests him. He answers the question with another question: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” (Mk 10:18). Jesus does not deny that he is good. He identifies goodness with God alone. He treats the young man as he treated the Samaritan woman at the well. “If you but knew the gift of God, and who it is that is speaking to you” (cf. Jn 4:10). Jesus is no mere teacher of goodness; he is goodness itself. Saint Bruno, tasting the sweetness of God, used to exclaim, O Bonitas! O Goodness! If only the rich young man knew whom he was calling good!

They Shall See God

Jesus reviews the commandments for him. One comes to the knowledge of the goodness of God by imitating it. The commandments lead to purity of heart, and purity of heart leads to the vision of God. “Blessed are the pure in heart,” says Jesus, “for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8).

And Jesus Loved Him

The young man’s answer is candid: “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth” (Mk 10:20). Looking into his heart, Jesus sees that he is ready for more. One of the most striking lines in Saint Mark’s Gospel follows: “And Jesus looking upon him loved him” (Mk 10:21). The eyes of Jesus shine divine light upon him. And the light of his eyes is love. The Latin version of this Gospel says that Jesus looked into him and loved him. “Iesus autem intuitus eum dilexit eum” (Mk 10:21).

Ninth Day of the Novena

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Yesterday in his Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI returned to the subject of his Lenten message: the contemplation of the Sacred Side of Jesus, pierced by the soldier's lance. Saint Gabriel of the Addolorata lived profoundly and passionately the contemplation of Jesus Crucified with the Blessed Virgin Mary and with Saint John the Beloved Disciple to which the Holy Father is inviting the whole Church this Lent. This is what he said:


Him Whom They Have Pierced

This year, the Lenten message is inspired in the verse of John's Gospel, which in turn goes back to a messianic prophecy of Zechariah: "They shall look on him whom they have pierced" (John 19:37).

Contemplation of Jesus Crucified

The beloved disciple, present with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the other women on Calvary, was an eyewitness of the thrust of the spear which pierced Christ's side, so that blood and water came out (cf. John 19:31-34). This gesture of an unknown Roman soldier, destined to be lost in oblivion, was imprinted on the eyes and heart of the apostle, who recounted it in his Gospel. In the course of the centuries, how many conversions have taken place precisely thanks to the eloquent message of love that he receives who contemplates Jesus crucified!

With Our Gaze Fixed on Jesus' Side

Therefore, we enter the Lenten season with our gaze fixed on Jesus' side. In the encyclical letter "Deus Caritas Est" (cf. No. 12), I wished to underline that only by gazing on Jesus, dead on the cross for us, can we know and contemplate this fundamental truth: "God is love" (1 John 4:8,16). "In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 12).

Sin and Mercy

Contemplating the Crucified with the eyes of faith, we can understand profoundly what sin is, its tragic gravity, and at the same time the incommensurable power of the Lord's forgiveness and mercy. During these days of Lent, let us not distance our hearts from this mystery of profound humanity and lofty spirituality.

An Inexhaustible Torrent of Merciful Love

On contemplating Christ, let us feel at the same time that we are contemplated by him. He whom we ourselves have pierced with our faults does not cease to shed over the world an inexhaustible torrent of merciful love. May humanity understand that only from this source is it possible to draw the spiritual energy indispensable to build that peace and happiness for which every human being is ceaselessly searching.

She Whose Soul Was Pierced

Let us pray to the Virgin Mary, whose soul was pierced next to her Son's cross, to obtain for us the gift of a firm faith. That, guiding us on our Lenten journey, she may help us leave everything that impedes us from listening to Christ and his word of salvation.

Click here for the Novena Prayers.

Eighth Day of the Novena

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Saint Gabriel of the Addolorata, even from his place in glory, makes friends easily. Like Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, he spends his eternity doing good on earth. He has the most charming way of making his presence known, of offering counsel, of showing sympathy, of placing his intercession at the service of the poor, the sick, the fearful, and the lonely. When necessary, he has been known to appear to those who need his presence: a smiling youth in his black Passionist habit. He has also been known to whisper a word of comfort or direction at precisely the right moment. With all who invoke him he shares his own tender and confident love for the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In the lesson formerly assigned to Matins on the feast of Saint Gabriel, we read:

In the novitiate, day by day he became conspicuous for regular observance and for the exercise of all the virtues, and in a short time he came to be considered a pattern of perfect holiness, not only by his companions and his seniors, but also beyond the confines of the monastery ; he became a sweet odour in Christ in every place. An assiduous devotee of the Lord's Passion, he spent days and nights meditating upon it. He was drawn by unbelievable zeal towards the Holy Eucharist, a memorial of that Passion ; and when he nourished himself with it, he burned with seraphic ardour. There was nothing more noticeable than his filial piety towards the great Mother of God. He was accustomed to pay her honour for every type of devotion, but especially to contemplate her stricken and afflicted by the sufferings of Jesus, with such sorrow that he shed floods of tears. The sorrowful Virgin was, as it were, the whole reason of his being, and the teacher of the holiness that he had acquired.

Click here for the Novena Prayers.

Seventh Day of the Novena

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The Merciful Christ wants us for Himself. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Lk 5:32). And should anyone out of shame, or confusion, or fear, hesitate in answering His call, there is, very close, the presence of a Mother, a reconciling Mother, the Mother of Mercy and the Refuge of Sinners, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I have known souls incapable of saying a heartfelt Act of Contrition and yet able to say the Hail Mary with humble sincerity. The strange and wonderful thing is that one who perseveres in saying the Hail Mary will be led gently, but inexorably, to true contrition and to compunction of heart.

Priests should never despair of penitents who return to Confession again and again with the same sins, even if these be grave sins. There is a sure and certain remedy: humble recourse to the Immaculate Mother of God.

Saint Alphonsus, one of the Church’s wisest spiritual physicians, knew that when all else fails, humble supplication to the Blessed Virgin Mary obtains miracles of grace. My own pastoral experience has taught me that the undoing of certain patterns of sin belongs in a special way to the Blessed Virgin. When one opens the door of one’s heart to her, she enters quietly and sweetly and, in the full force of her humility and purity, crushes the head of the menacing serpent.

It is worthy of note that the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary contains five formularies for use during Lent. Elements of these can be used most suitably when integrated with the Saturday Lenten Mass and with the Lenten lectionary. The Blessed Virgin Mary, the beloved Addolorata of Saint Gabriel, facilitates every return to her Son. With a gentle hand, she leads all who are sin-sick and weary to the Physician of souls.

Click here for the Novena Prayers.

Sixth Day of the Novena

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On December 30, 1861 Saint Gabriel of the Addolorata , who was twenty-three years old at the time, wrote these lines to his brother Michele. The young Gabriel comes across as somewhat cynical about human love and friendship. We know, however, from other sources, that he was sensitive, endearing, and capable of friendship. He wants, I think, to spare his brother the pain of romantic disappointments and, above all, lead him to an intimate relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Gabriel's last sentence reminds me of certain texts of Saint Bernard.

People here on earth cannot make you happy. They are inconstant, untruthful in love; and when you find someone who doesn't have these defects, the very thought of one day having to be separated saddens and torments the heart.

But this doesn't happen to one who chooses Mary for himself. She is lovable, faithful, constant; she never allows herself to be outdone in love, but always remains surpassing.

If you are in dangers, she runs quickly to deliver you; if you are afflicted, she consoles you; if you are weak, she sustains you; if you are in need, she helps you.

Click here for the Novena Prayers.

Fifth Day of the Novena

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Following the same evocative rite used by Saint Gabriel of the Addolorata in 1857, young Indonesian Passionists making their First Profession are symbolically crowned with thorns and charged with the wood of the cross.

Saint Bernard, meditating the mystery of Passion of Christ, writes:

[The Church] beholds King Solomon,
with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him
in the day of his espousals;
she sees the Sole-begotten of the Father bearing the heavy burden of His Cross;
she sees the Lord of all power and might bruised and spat upon,
the Author of life and glory transfixed with nails,
smitten by the lance, overwhelmed with mockery,
and at last laying down His precious life for His friends.

Contemplating this the sword of love pierces through her own soul also
and she cried aloud, 'Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples;
for I am sick of love.'
The fruits which the Spouse gathers from the Tree of Life
in the midst of the garden of her Beloved, are pomegranates (Cant. 4:13),
borrowing their taste from the Bread of heaven,
and their color from the Blood of Christ.
On Loving God, Chapter Three

Click here for the Novena Prayers.

Fourth Day of the Novena

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The fourth day of our novena coincides with the beginning of Holy Lent. At the beginning of his religious life Saint Gabriel of the Addolorata made a list of forty resolutions for the conversion of his life. Among them, we find the following:

— I will never excuse myself when I am blamed or corrected, nor even resent it interiorly, much less put the blame upon others.

— I will never speak of the faults of others, even though they may be public, nor will I ever show want of esteem for others, whether in their presence or in their absence.

— I will not judge ill of anyone.

— I will show the good opinion I have of each one by covering up his faults.

So, if you are looking for some serious Lenten practices, you need look no further.

Click here for the Novena Prayers.

Third Day of the Novena

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Today is the third day of our novena to Saint Gabriel of the Addolorata. At the Mass of the Holy Face we will be reading from the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according the Prophet Isaiah. Trusting in the intercession of Saint Gabriel, bring to the bruised and wounded Christ every bruise, every wound, every sorrow and infirmity of those for whom you are interceding in this novena. Remember that Christ Himself, the Immaculate Lamb, was judged as one "struck by God and afflicted."

Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother, imbued with the charism of Saint Paul of the Cross, learned that the wounds of Jesus are wellsprings of healing. He prayed every day, "Holy Mother, this impart, Deeply print within my heart, All the wounds my Saviour bore."

Despised, and the most abject of men,
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity:
and His look was as it were, hidden and despised,
whereupon we esteemed Him not.

Surely He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows:
and we have thought of Him as it were a leper,
and as one struck by God and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our iniquities,
He was bruised for our sins:
the chastisement of our peace was upon Him,
and by His bruises we are healed (Is 53:3–5).

Click here for the Novena Prayers.

Second Day of the Novena

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A word from Saint Gabriel of the Addolorata:

Love Mary!... She is lovable, faithful, constant.
She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme.
If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you.
If you are troubled, she will console you.
If you are sick, she will bring you relief.
If you are in need, she will help you.
She does not look to see what kind of person you have been.
She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her.
She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you,
embraces you and consoles and serves you.
She will even be at hand to accompany you on the trip to eternity.

Click here for the Novena Prayers.

Novena to Saint Gabriel of the Addolorata
February 18 — 27, 2007


The liturgical memorial of Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother falls quite suitably at the beginning of Lent on February 27th. I am very fond of Saint Gabriel. The affection I have for him goes back to my boyhood. The Passionist Fathers often preached missions in my home parish. At some point I must have been given a popular life of Saint Gabriel written for young lads. If I remember rightly, it was called "Boy in a Hurry." (Terry N. would know, or Father Gregory O., or Father Martin F. They probably read it too.) On the morning of February 27, 1862, Saint Gabriel died of tuberculosis. He was twenty-fours years old; although a professed Passionist, he was not yet ordained a priest

It occurred to me that some of the readers of Vultus Christi might want to join me in making a novena to Saint Gabriel from February 18—27. Here are two possibilities. The first prayer is suitable for everyone, but especially for parents and grandparents who want to recommend their children and grandchildren to him. The second set of prayers (antiphon, reading, litany, and collect) is inspired by the liturgical texts for Saint Gabriel's feast. Saint Gabriel is a wonderworker. There is no doubt about that. The miracles obtained through his intercession are too many to be counted.

Who Are the Saints?

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Saturday of the Sixth Week of the Year I
Mark 9:2–13

Jesus Alone With His Friends

Who are the saints? The saints are those who allow themselves to be taken by Jesus “up a high mountain apart by themselves” (Mk 9:2). The saints are those who accept the invitation of the Master to go with him to a place of solitude and to remain with him there. The saints are those who, leaving behind what is familiar and reassuring, choose the company of Jesus alone — a wondrous and fearful thing — amazed that Jesus has chosen to be alone with them. “It is not you who seek my company,” he says, “it is who seek yours.”

Those to Whom God Speaks Face to Face

The saints are the blessed companions of Moses to whom “the Lord used to speak face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex 33:11). They are the friends of Elijah fed by an angel in the wilderness (1 K 19:5-7): Elijah to whom God spoke not in a great wind, nor in an earthquake, nor in fire, but in “a still small voice” (1 K 19:13).

Seekers of the Face of God

The saints are those in whom the prayer of David is a ceaseless murmur by day and by night: “It is your face, O Lord, that I seek; hide not your face from me” (Ps 26:8-9). The saints are those before whom Jesus shows himself transfigured, “his garments glistening, intensely white” (Mk 9:3), his face “shining like the sun” (Mt 17:2) — and this as “in a mirror darkly” (1 Cor 13:12). The saints are those who, having caught a glimpse of “the fairest of the sons of men” (Ps 44:2) cannot detach their gaze from his face, those who live with their eyes fixed in his.

The Trust I Have In Your Mercy

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On the occasion of the visit of the relics of Saint Claude La Colombière to Ireland in 2006, a remarkable website was prepared by Father Bernard McGuckian, S.J. It offers a biography of the saint, a selection of quotations, and a number of his prayers. Among the latter is this one addressed to the Divine Mercy. I know that it will speak to the hearts of many.

Prayer to the Divine Mercy

O Lord, behold here before You a soul who exists in this world
in order to allow You to exercise Your admirable mercy
and manifest it before heaven and earth.
Others may glorify You through their faithfulness and perseverance,
thus making evident the power of Your grace.
How sweet and generous You are to those who are faithful to You!

Nevertheless I will glorify You by acquainting others with Your goodness to sinners,
and by reminding them that your mercy is above all malice,
that nothing can exhaust it, and that no relapse, no matter how shameful or criminal, should allow the sinner to despair of forgiveness.

I have offended You grievously, O beloved Redeemer,
but it would be still worse if I were to offend You
by thinking that You were lacking in enough goodness to forgive me.
I would rather be deprived of everything else than the trust I have in your mercy.

Should I fall a hundred times,
or should my crimes be a hundred times worse than they actually are,
I would continue to trust in your mercy.


I think it was in 1974 that a priest friend gave me a little book of the writings of Saint Claude La Colombière in French. The book was covered in a kind of onion–skin paper and had belonged originally to a Religious of the Cenacle. Saint Claude La Colombière became a dear friend. I count on his intercession. I turn to him when I feel my heart growing cold.

The Franciscan Saint John Wall (Joachim of Saint Anne), who was martyred for the crime of being a Catholic priest near Redhill, Corcester, England on August 22nd, 1679, knew Saint Claude. After having spent a night in spiritual conversation with him, the soon–to–be martyr said, "When I was in his presence I thought that I was dealing with Saint John returned to earth to rekindle that fire of love in the Heart of Christ.”

Here is one of Saint Claude's prayers, in the original French and in English translation.

Jésus, vous êtes le seul et le véritable ami.
Vous prenez part à mes maux, vous vous en chargez,
vous avez le secret de me les tourner en bien.
Vous m'écoutez avec bonté lorsque je vous raconte mes afflictions
et vous ne manquez jamais de les adoucir.

Je vous trouve toujours et en tout lieu;
vous ne vous éloignez jamais et, si je suis obligé de changer de demeure,
je ne laisse pas de vous trouver où je vais.

Vous ne vous ennuyez jamais de m'entendre;
vous ne vous lassez jamais de me faire du bien.
Je suis assuré d'être aimé si je vous aime.
Vous n'avez que faire de mes biens,
et vous ne vous appauvrissez point en me communiquant les vôtres.

Quelque misérable que je sois, un plus noble, un plus bel esprit,
un plus saint même ne m'enlèvera point votre amitié;
et la mort, qui nous arrache à tous les autres amis, me doit réunir avec vous.
Toutes les disgrâces de l'âge ou de la fortune ne peuvent vous détacher de moi;
au contraire, je ne jouirai jamais de vous plus pleinement,
vous ne serez jamais plus proche que lorsque tout me sera le plus contraire.

Vous souffrez mes défauts avec une patience admirable;
mes infidélités même, mes ingratitudes ne vous blessent point tellement
que vous ne soyez toujours prêt à revenir si je le veux.
O Jésus, accordez-moi de le vouloir, afin que je sois tout à vous,
pour le temps et pour l'éternité.

The Joy of All Our Days

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A Feast in Europe

In all of Europe today is the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius, co–patrons of Europe with Saint Benedict, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Birgitta of Sweden, and Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

The Ascension of the Lord

The Gospel given us today is Saint Mark's account of the Ascension of the Lord (Mk 16:15–20). This particular pericope is constructed like a triptych. The central panel is the radiant image of the ascended Lord Jesus, the King of Glory, seated at the right hand of the Father. "So then the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God" (Mk 16:19).


O Jesus, our redemption,
our love, and our desire,
God, Creator of all things,
become Man in the fullness of time.

What tender love, what pity
compelled you to bear our crimes,
to suffer a cruel death
that we, from death, might be saved?

You descended into death’s dark cavern,
and from it, brought forth captives free;
Your triumph won, you take your place,
you, the Victor, at the Father’s right.

It was a tender love, a costly compassion
that pressed you our sorrows to bear;
granting pardon, you raised us up
to fill us full with the splendour of your face.

You are already the joy of all our days,
who in eternity will be our prize;
let all our glory be in you,
forever, and always, and in the age to come.

(Iesu nostra redemptio, Hymn at Vespers of the Ascension)

The Things That Are Above

It is in the light of the glorious mystery of the Ascension, recapitulating the whole work of redemption, that Saint Paul writes: "Seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col 3:1–3). This, it seems to me, is the message that contemporary Europe and the whole Western world need to hear.

Go Into the World

The first panel in Saint Mark's triptych depicts Our Lord's command to "go into the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mk 16:15). Baptism is the necessary response to the prevenient gift of faith. Those who, having heard the preaching of the Gospel, refuse to put their belief in Christ, will be condemned by their own hardness of heart. The preaching of the Gospel is made compelling by the signs that accompany it. "And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover" (Mk 16:17–18).


Preaching Everywhere

The third panel of the Gospel triptych shows the Church's obedience to the command of the Lord. Saints Cyril and Methodius are, in fact, examples of the last verse of the Gospel: "And they went forth and preached every where, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen" (Mk 16:19–20). Saint Mark's phrase, "and the Lord worked with them," corresponds to Saint Matthew's expression of the same mystery: "Behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:20).

The Soul of the Apostolate

The preaching of the Gospel is sustained by the contemplation of the risen and ascended Christ hidden for our sake in the sacred mysteries until His return in glory. Those who seek His Face and His Heart hidden in the adorable mystery of the Eucharist will not be disappointed in their hope. The central panel of today's Gospel reveals what Dom Chautard called "the soul of the apostolate." Without seeking the Face of Christ and exposing ourselves to the flames that emanate from His Sacred Heart, it is impossible to hear the commands of the Lord, and impossible to carry them out.

A Letter of John H. Newman
To Edward Heneage Dering on the Death of His Wife in 1876


My Dear Mr. Dering,

I have felt for you very much. There are wounds of the spirit which never close, and which are intended in God's mercy to bring us nearer to Him, and to prevent us leaving Him by their very perpetuity. Such wounds, then, may almost be taken as a pledge, or at least as a ground for humble trust, that God will give us the great gift of perseverance to the end. As she has now passed the awful stream which we all have to ford, and is safe, so in the fact of having been taken from you, she seems to give you an intimation that you are to pass it safely also, when your time comes, and you are to meet her again then for ever. Your losing her here is thus the condition of your meeting her hereafter.

This is how I comfort myself in my own great bereavements. I lost, last year, my dearest friend unexpectedly.* I never had so great a loss. He had been my life, under God, for thirty–two years. I don't expect the wound will ever heal, but from my heart I bless God, and would not have it otherwise, for I am sure that the bereavement is one of those Divine Providences necessary for my attaining that Heavenly Rest which he, through God's mercy, has already secured.

So cheer up, and try to do God's Will in all things, according to the day, as I pray to be able to do myself.

Yours most sincerely,
John H. Newman

* Father Ambrose St. John of the Oratory.

A Pilgrim Monk

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Cistercians celebrated today the memorial of Blessed Corrado (Conrad) of Bavaria. Born in 1105, Conrad was the son of Henry the Black, Duke of Bavaria. The young Conrad was sent to study under the doct canons of Cologne. Drawn to Saint Bernard by the latter's magnetic holiness and personal charm, Conrad entered the abbey of Clairvaux.

Shortly thereafter he received Saint Bernard's permission to go as a pilgrim to the Holy Land and to live there as a hermit. He remained in Palestine for several years in the service of an elder. Threatened by the incursions of Islamic forces and having learned of Saint Bernard's declining health, Conrad decided to return to Clairvaux.

When he arrived in Bari, he learned that Bernard was already dead. Rather than return to Clairvaux, he venerated the relics of Saint Nicholas in Bari and then withdrew to Modugno where he set himself up as a hermit in a grotto dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. He reposed in 1154 or 1155 with a reputation for holiness and miracles. His body was transferred to Molfetta, becoming its principal patron saint. On certain feastdays, his head, preserved in a reliquary, is carried in procession. Gregory VI confirmed his cultus on 6 April 1832. The photo shows the cathedral of Molfetta where Saint Corrado's body rests.

Newman on Friendship and Love

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It seems to me that this sermon, preached on the feast of Saint John the Apostle, sheds some light on the way the Venerable Servant of God John Henry Newman understood friendship and love in his own life. The italics are my own.


Love of Relations and Friends

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God." 1 John iv. 7.

St. John the Apostle and Evangelist is chiefly and most familiarly known to us as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." He was one of the three or four who always attended our Blessed Lord, and had the privilege of the most intimate intercourse with Him; and, more favoured than Peter, James, and Andrew, he was His bosom friend, as we commonly express ourselves. At the solemn supper before Christ suffered, he took his place next Him, and leaned on His breast. As the other three communicated between the multitude and Christ, so St. John communicated between Christ and them. At that Last Supper, Peter dared not ask Jesus a question himself, but bade John put it to Him,—who it was that should betray Him. Thus St. John was the private and intimate friend of Christ. Again, it was to St. John that our Lord committed His Mother, when {52} He was dying on the cross; it was to St. John that He revealed in vision after His departure the fortunes of His Church.

Our Saviour Had a Private Friend

Much might be said on this remarkable circumstance. I say remarkable, because it might be supposed that the Son of God Most High could not have loved one man more than another; or again, if so, that He would not have had only one friend, but, as being All-holy, He would have loved all men more or less, in proportion to their holiness. Yet we find our Saviour had a private friend; and this shows us, first, how entirely He was a man, as much as any of us, in His wants and feelings; and next, that there is nothing contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, nothing inconsistent with the fulness of Christian love, in having our affections directed in an especial way towards certain objects, towards those whom the circumstances of our past life, or some peculiarities of character, have endeared to us.


With Our Saviour's Pattern Before Me

There have been men before now, who have supposed Christian love was so diffusive as not to admit of concentration upon individuals; so that we ought to love all men equally. And many there are, who, without bringing forward any theory, yet consider practically that the love of many is something superior to the love of one or two; and neglect the charities of private life, while busy in the schemes of an expansive benevolence, or of effecting a general union and conciliation among Christians. Now I shall here maintain, in opposition to such notions of Christian love, and with our Saviour's pattern before me, that the best preparation for loving the world at large, and loving it duly and wisely, is to {53} cultivate an intimate friendship and affection towards those who are immediately about us.

Friendship and Spiritual Childhood

It has been the plan of Divine Providence to ground what is good and true in religion and morals, on the basis of our good natural feelings. What we are towards our earthly friends in the instincts and wishes of our infancy, such we are to become at length towards God and man in the extended field of our duties as accountable beings. To honour our parents is the first step towards honouring God; to love our brethren according to the flesh, the first step towards considering all men our brethren. Hence our Lord says, we must become as little children, if we would be saved; we must become in His Church, as men, what we were once in the small circle of our youthful homes.


My beloved Poor Ladies at Bethlehem Monastery in Barhamsville, Virginia gently chided me for forgetting that today is indeed the solemn festival of Saint Colette, their mother after Saint Clare. In Rome we were all about Blessed Pius IX today!

The Ty Mam Duw Poor Clares in Wales have a very rich section on Saint Colette on their site. Do read it!

Mother Vicaress Thérèse offered to post Paul Claudel's poem on Saint Colette for us. We are waiting, Mother! Blessed festival of Saint Colette to her worthy daughters the world over, especially to those who bear her name!

The Ty Mam Duw Poor Ladies write:

Colette's intercession with the Lord has spanned the five centuries since her death, calling forth miracles of love. The deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk and the dead are restored to life.


Colette's method of proclaiming the Gospel was not to preach but to pray. Her whole life was spent in prayer. Even when she was asked to help her brothers the Friars Minor, in their reform, and was invited into their chapter room, she did not tell them what they ought to do, she simply knelt down and prayed, and those who watched, one by one, also fell on their knees.

There is a lot of talk today among religious about "refounding" their institutes. Most are still reticent about "reforming" them. To acknowledge the need for reform implies that, somewhere along the way, we have become deformed. It takes humility and courage to say, "We have made mistakes. We have made wrong decisions. We are not living in fidelity to the grace of our origins. Worldliness and activism are snuffing out the living flame of love." Saint Colette shows all of us the way to true reform. Reform begins in prayer. Reform is sustained by prayer. Reform bears fruit — fruit that will abide (Jn 15:16) — in prayer.

Reform, like conversion, is ongoing. It is movement. Mother Rosaria, with her walking stick and pilgrim's hat (looking ever so much like Saint Colette), shows us the way: one step at at time.

7 February, Blessed Pius IX

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"In human affairs we must be content to do the best we can and then abandon ourselves to Providence, which will heal our human faults and shortcomings."
Blessed Pius IX


Pius IX, Newman, and Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

In 1847 Blessed Pius IX sent John Henry Newman and six other Englishmen to live at the Abbey of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme while preparing together for life in the English Oratory.

Mr. Bowles, one of Newman's companions in Rome wrote: "Pius IX chose Santa Croce as the place where we should all go, the Pope himself calling it un bel sito — a beautiful situation, which it certainly was. We were then Newman, St. John, Penny, Dalgairns, Coffin, Stanton, and myself. We had a whole wing of the monastery on the upper floor to ourselves with a kitchen and man cook, an Italian named Michele, as servant, and a dining room to ourselves on the ground floor. Father Rossi was appointed, by the Pope, from the Oratory in Rome, to be our Novice Master. He also had his room on the same floor, and there was a recreation room also, which was also the Chapel, with an Altar in it."

John Paul II on Pius IX

Blessed Pius IX was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 3 September 2000. His liturgical memorial occurs on 7 February. Read what Pope John Paul II said about his sintly predecessor:

"Listening to the words of the Gospel acclamation: 'Lord, lead me on a straight road', our thoughts naturally turn to the human and religious life of Pope Pius IX, Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti. Amid the turbulent events of his time, he was an example of unconditional fidelity to the immutable deposit of revealed truths. Faithful to the duties of his ministry in every circumstance, he always knew how to give absolute primacy to God and to spiritual values. His lengthy pontificate was not at all easy and he had much to suffer in fulfilling his mission of service to the Gospel. He was much loved, but also hated and slandered.

However, it was precisely in these conflicts that the light of his virtues shone most brightly: these prolonged sufferings tempered his trust in divine Providence, whose sovereign lordship over human events he never doubted. This was the source of Pius IX's deep serenity, even amid the misunderstandings and attacks of so many hostile people. He liked to say to those close to him: 'In human affairs we must be content to do the best we can and then abandon ourselves to Providence, which will heal our human faults and shortcomings'.

Sustained by this deep conviction, he called the First Vatican Ecumenical Council, which clarified with magisterial authority certain questions disputed at the time, and confirmed the harmony of faith and reason. During his moments of trial Pius IX found support in Mary, to whom he was very devoted. In proclaiming the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, he reminded everyone that in the storms of human life the light of Christ shines brightly in the Blessed Virgin and is more powerful than sin and death."

Eight Days Would Be Enough

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The Saints in Our Lives

The saints come into our lives, each one with a particular mission. We do not choose the saints to whom we are devoted in a special way; it is they who, in obedience to a mysterious design of God, make themselves known and devote themselves to us. This is something I have experienced over and over again. When a particular saint offers me the gift of his or her friendship, it is because God chooses, through this saint, to teach me something, to offer me a particular gift or, quite simply, to give me a heavenly companion for my journey, a counselor, and a friend.

Saint Peter Julian Eymard, Apostle of the Eucharist

Last December I was given a first class relic of Saint Peter Julian Eymard. Then, several trips to the Italian Consulate in Manhattan gave me the opportunity to pray in the magnificent Church of Saint Jean–Baptiste. The Church contains an altar dedicated to Saint Peter Julian and an important relic. Saint Peter Julian Eymard seemed to be approaching me with a message and with a gift.

I just finished reading two biographies of the saint; both books are in Italian. I found them here in the abbey library. San Pietro Giuliano Eymard, Apostolo dell'Eucaristia by Quirino Moraschini and Mondolfo Pedrinazzi, S.S.S. (Roma 1962), and Il Beato Pietro Giuliano Eymard by Paolo Dott. Fossati, Sacerdote Adoratore (Milano 1925).

What I found most striking is this particular teaching of Saint Peter Julian Eymard. Excuse my translation from the Italian, itself a translation from the French.

"The secret for arriving quickly at a life centred in the Eucharist is, during a certain period of time, to make Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament the habitual object of the exercise of the presence of God, the dominant motive of our intentions, the meditation of our spirit, the affection of our heart, the object of all our virtues. And if the soul is generous enough, one will come at length to this unity of action, to familiarity with the adorable Sacrament, to think of it with as much and even greater ease than of any other object. Easily and gently one's heart will produce the most tender affections. In a word, the Most Holy Sacrament will become the magnet of devotion in one's life and the centre of perfection of one's love. Eight days would be enough for a simple and fervent soul to acquire this Eucharistic spirit; and even if one should have to put weeks and months to acquire it, can this ever be compared with the peace and the happiness which this soul will enjoy in the Divine Eucharist?"

A Eucharistic "Conversion of Manners"

What exactly is Saint Peter Julian Eymard saying here? To use the classic Benedictine expression, he is talking about a conversatio morum, a Eucharistic conversion of the way one lives, a turning toward the mystery of the Eucharist. the first expression of this Eucharistic conversion will be the re–ordering of one's priorities beginning with the organization of one's day. He is suggesting an intensive eight–day exposure to the healing radiance of the Most Holy Eucharist.

Power Comes Forth From Him

I have always loved the Communion Antiphon Multitudo languentium (p. 471 in the Graduale Romanum). The theological and musical summit of the antiphon is in the last line: Quia virtus de illo exibat et sanabat omnes. "For power came forth from Him and healed them all" (Lk 6:19). The fact that the liturgy makes us sing this text during Holy Communion tells us that healing power radiates from the Body and Blood of Christ received from the altar, and contemplated and adored in the tabernacle and in the monstrance. Saint Peter Julian Eymard is suggesting that eight days of conversion, i.e. of turning toward the Most Holy Eucharist is sufficient to begin the healing of one's heart and the renewal of one's life.

Bringing the Messy Bits to Adoration

My friend Lisa H. is famous for counseling folks with problems of all sorts to bring them to Eucharistic adoration. Lisa is 100% right. Bring your whole life to adoration, especially the messy bits, the very parts that you would be tempted to hide or disown. Bring your broken heart and your wounds to adoration. Try it for eight days. It will be the beginning of a Eucharistic conversatio morum.


I would ask all my readers to join me today in praying for a very bright, engaging young woman who has been in poor health for the past few years..

Lord Jesus Christ Divine Physician, through the intercession of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr, be pleased, we beseech Thee, to heal Thy handmaid from every affliction of body, mind, and soul. Amen.

Saint Agatha shines today as the fifth star in the Church's winter constellation of women martyrs, all of whom are named in the venerable Roman Canon:

Cecily, Virgin Martyr — 22 November
Lucy, Virgin Martyr — 13 December
Anastasia, Virgin Martyr — 25 December
Agnes, Virgin Martyr — 21 January
Agatha, Virgin Martyr — 5 February
Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs — 6 March


That the Church in every place,
made radiant by the example of Saint Agatha
and so many other virgin martyrs,
may remain steadfast in the love of Christ
and so present to the eyes of the world
the witness of a joyful fidelity to her Bridegroom,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That, with reverence for the mystery of life,
the leaders of nations
may promote the dignity of women in society,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That, following the example of Saint Agatha,
the sick may place their hope in Christ
who by his word alone restores all things;
and that women afflicted with cancer of the breast
may find in Saint Agatha an intercessor and friend,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That we,
approaching the adorable mysteries of Christ’s Body and Blood,
may seek the healing that goes forth from him
to deliver us from evil and strengthen us for good,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

Almighty and merciful God,
who, by the gift of your Spirit,
strengthened the virgin martyr Agatha
to face death with a pure and fearless gaze;
grant us, we beseech you,
a like surrender to the severe and tender claims of love,
that we, by holding nothing dearer than Christ,
may go forward in faith with unstumbling feet,
and open wide our weakness
to the strength that comes from you alone.
Through Christ our Lord.

Saint Veronica

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In some martyrologies, today is the feast of Saint Veronica, the woman of courage and compassion commemorated in Catholic piety at the Sixth Station of the Cross. It is the feastday of my niece Veronica Kirby and of Mère Véronique, prioress general of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified. This painting of "The Veronica" by the Master of Flémalle (ca. 1375–1444) depicts the Holy Face on a finely woven and transparent cloth, exactly like the Holy Face of Manoppello.

On March 24, 2005, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger offered the following meditation and prayer during the Via Crucis in the Colosseum:

From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. 53:2-3

He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

From the Book of Psalms. 27:8-9

You have said, "Seek my face". My heart says to you, "Your face, Lord, do I seek". Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Cast me not off, forsake me not, O God of my salvation.


"Your Face, Lord, do I seek. Hide not your Face from me" (Ps 27:8-9). Veronica Bernice, in the Greek tradition embodies the universal yearning of the devout men and women of the Old Testament, the yearning of all believers to see the Face of God. On Jesus' Way of the Cross, though, she at first did nothing more than perform an act of womanly kindness: she held out a facecloth to Jesus. She did not let herself be deterred by the brutality of the soldiers or the fear which gripped the disciples. She is the image of that good woman, who, amid turmoil and dismay, shows the courage born of goodness and does not allow her heart to be bewildered. "Blessed are the pure in heart", the Lord had said in his Sermon on the Mount, "for they shall see God" (Mt 5:8). At first, Veronica saw only a buffeted and pain-filled Face. Yet her act of love impressed the true image of Jesus on her heart: on his human Face, bloodied and bruised, she saw the Face of God and his goodness, which accompanies us even in our deepest sorrows. Only with the heart can we see Jesus. Only love purifies us and gives us the ability to see. Only love enables us to recognize the God who is love itself.


Lord, grant us restless hearts, hearts which seek your Face. Keep us from the blindness of heart which sees only the surface of things. Give us the simplicity and purity which allow us to recognize your presence in the world. When we are not able to accomplish great things, grant us the courage which is born of humility and goodness. Impress your Face on our hearts. May we encounter you along the way and show your image to the world.


Just yesterday I found this prayer to the Holy Face printed on the back of a reproduction of the Volto Santo in the Chapter Room of the Cistercian monastery of Santa Susanna:

Holy Face of my sweet Jesus,
living and eternal expression of the love
and of the divine martyrdom suffered for the redemption of mankind,
I adore Thee and I love Thee.
Today and for always
I consecrate to Thee my whole being.
By the most pure hands of the Immaculate Queen
I offer Thee the prayers, actions, and works of this day,
in expiation and reparation for the sins of poor creatures.
Make me Thy true apostle.
May your gentle gaze be ever present to me
and, at the hour of my death,
grow bright with mercy.

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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