Saints: October 2010 Archives

The Gentle-Hearted King

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From the Lesson at Matins:

He Began With the Things of Religion

Edward greatly loved God, and was gentle-hearted, and free from any lust for power. He took the kingdom in the year 1042, being then about forty years old. Thereupon he set himself to repair the breaches which wars had made, and began with the things of God, being desirous that religion should rise from the low estate whereinto it had fallen.

Father of Orphans

Because of the abundance of his charity he was styled everywhere The Father of Orphans and Parent of the Poor, and he was never happier than when he had spent upon the needy the whole of his kingly treasures.

The Friendship of Saint John

He had a wonderful love toward John the Evangelist, so that he was used never to refuse anything for the which he was asked in that Saint's name. Concerning this a marvelous tale is wont to be told. It is said that the Evangelist appeared to him once while in tattered raiment, and in his own name asked him for an alms. It befell that the King had no money, wherefore he took a ring from off his finger and gifted him therewith.

Repose in the Lord

Not long afterward the Evangelist sent the same ring back to him by a pilgrim, with a message concerning his death, which was then at hand. The King therefore commanded that prayers should be made for him, and then fell blessedly asleep in the Lord, upon the very day which had been foretold to him by the Evangelist, that is to say, on January 5th, in 1066.

Westminster Abbey

In 1161 he was canonized, and on October 13th, two years later, his body, which was said to have been found incorrupt, was by Saint Thomas Becket translated to Westminster Abbey, where it is still enshrined behind the high altar.

On 17 September 2010, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI visited Westminster Abbey, and prayed at the tomb of Saint Edward the Confessor.

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The text of Blessed John Henry Newman that I posted on his feastday seems to have touched a number of souls. The saints are close to us, closer to us than we can imagine, and intensely interested in our journeys through this vale of tears. There is a striking similarity between Blessed John Henry Newman's meditation and a page written by Saint Claude La Colombière, S.J. (1641-1682), another heavenly friend of mine. Here it is for those of you who may want to pray over it:

My God, I believe most firmly that Thou watchest over all who hope in Thee, and that we can want for nothing when we rely upon Thee in all things; therefore I am resolved for the future to have no anxieties, and to cast all my cares upon Thee.
People may deprive me of worldly goods and of honors; sickness may take from me my strength and the means of serving Thee; I may even lose Thy grace by sin; but my trust shall never leave me. I will preserve it to the last moment of my life, and the powers of hell shall seek in vain to wrestle it from me.
Let others seek happiness in their wealth, in their talents; let them trust to the purity of their lives, the severity of their mortifications, to the number of their good works, the fervor of their prayers; as for me, O my God, in my very confidence lies all my hope. "For Thou, O Lord, singularly has settled me in hope." This confidence can never be in vain. "No one has hoped in the Lord and has been confounded."
I am assured, therefore, of my eternal happiness, for I firmly hope for it, and all my hope is in Thee. "In Thee, O Lord, I have hoped; let me never be confounded."
I know, alas! I know but too well that I am frail and changeable; I know the power of temptation against the strongest virtue. I have seen stars fall from heaven, and pillars of firmament totter; but these things alarm me not. While I hope in Thee I am sheltered from all misfortune, and I am sure that my trust shall endure, for I rely upon Thee to sustain this unfailing hope.
Finally, I know that my confidence cannot exceed Thy bounty, and that I shall never receive less than I have hoped for from Thee. Therefore I hope that Thou wilt sustain me against my evil inclinations; that Thou wilt protect me against the most furious assaults of the evil one, and that Thou wilt cause my weakness to triumph over my most powerful enemies. I hope that Thou wilt never cease to love me, and that I shall love Thee unceasingly. "In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded."


Blessed John Henry Newman

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Although the feast of Blessed John Henry Newman does not figure in the universal calendar, it is an occasion of joy and thanksgiving for a multitude of souls. Here are the liturgical texts for today in both Latin and English.

9 OCTOBER

BEATI IOANNIS HENRICI NEWMAN, PRESBYTERI

De Communi pastorum: pro presbyteris.

COLLECTA

Deus, qui beátum Ioánnem Henrícum, presbýterum,
lumen benígnum tuum sequéntem
pacem in Ecclésia tua inveníre contulísti,
concéde propítius,
ut, eius intercessióne et exémplo,
ex umbris et imagínibus
in plenitúdinem veritátis tuae perducámur.
Per Dominum.

BLESSED JOHN HENRY NEWMAN, PRIEST

From the Common of Pastors: For One Pastor

COLLECT

O God, who bestowed on the Priest Blessed John Henry Newman
the grace to follow your kindly light and find peace in your Church;
graciously grant that, through his intercession and example,
we may be led out of shadows and images
into the fulness of your truth.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

O Rosario benedetto di Maria

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Prayer at Noon

For Catholics in Italy and throughout the world, today, Sunday, 3 October 2010, marks the return of an appointment with the Supplica, the passionate supplication to the Madonna of the Rosary, born in the heart of Blessed Bartolo Longo. This year the Supplica -- always prayed at noon on the first Sunday of October -- falls on the liturgical memorial of Blessed Abbot Columba Marmion. After his election as Abbot of Maredsous (Belgium) in 1909, Blessed Columba chose to receive the Abbatial Blessing on the first Sunday of October, 3 October, because in 1909 it was the Solemnity of Our Lady of the Rosary.

127th Anniversary of the Supplica

Blessed Bartolo Long wrote his inspired petition to the Queen of the Holy Rosary 127 years ago, in 1883. The lengthy supplication has lost nothing of its power to soften even the most hardened hearts; it continues to obtain graces in abundance from the hands of the Madonna of the Rosary. It is a prayer for all peoples and for universal peace, a prayer for the whole Church: for the Holy Father and the bishops, for priests, deacons, and the lay faithful of every state in life, with their special intentions, their burdens, and their hopes.

The Supplica is, of all Blessed Bartolo Longo's published prayers to the Mother of God, the most famous. Its incandescent words have opened countless souls to the merciful love of Christ through the all-powerful intercession of His Mother.

The Supplica is a prayer that people have made their own. It is known on every continent; it has been translated into hundreds of languages. No authority ever imposed it, it is not part of the liturgy of the Church, it was never submitted to revision by ICEL, and yet, it has become universal. Sociologists of religion, take note! Translators of liturgical texts, wake up and smell the Neapolitan coffee!

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A Prayer of the Heart

Certain rationalistic types sniff with disdain at the Supplica. They see it as representative of an unenlightened, sentimental, southern Italian piety bordering on superstition. They find its emphases embarrassing, its display of emotion unnerving.

Rich in Sentiment

The literary style of Blessed Bartolo Longo is the expression of his own character. He was capable of gentleness and of passion. He was, like all meridionals, rich in sentiment and quick to express it both in song and in tears. He was moved, before all else, by the reason of the heart.

The Discovery of Truth Through Love

Blessed Bartolo Longo, a Dominican Tertiary, was a lover of Truth; but his particular grace was the discovery of Truth through love. He found Truth, not in syllogisms and in concepts, but in the Heart and on the Face of the Word Made Flesh in the womb of the Virgin, and held in her arms.

The Prayer of One Delivered From Evil

The Rosary was the means by which, at the age of twenty-eight, a confused and desperate Avvocato Bartolo Longo -- a practicing Satanist and medium at the time -- was converted to the Truth and delivered from the powers of darkness. He vowed that he would spend his life proclaiming to others the Rosary's liberating and healing power. This is why, at the end of the Supplica, he exclaims: "O blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we shall never abandon you."

Bound to Mary by the Rosary

Even pious folks may find the Supplica a bit too baroque, a bit overdone. It may be the Borboni southern Italian blood (mixed with Irish) that runs hot in my veins, but I love the Supplica and I plan on saying it with thousands of other people today. It is the prayer of a man very like myself: a poor sinner who fears nothing when he holds the Rosary in his hands, knowing that the Mother of God holds her end of the chain, and will not let it go.

Here is the text:

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Thérèse is so often referred to as “little,” that we risk not seeing the breadth and depth that are really characteristic of her, and the immensity of her desires. Paradoxically, there is nothing small, nothing narrow in this painfully sensitive middle-class girl who, at fifteen years of age, closed herself up in Carmel with a certain number of saints, a certain number of women not altogether right in the head, her own sisters, and one rather unusual prioress. Once Thérèse opened herself to the workings of the Holy Spirit, her heart began to expand -- even in the midst of real emotional, spiritual, and physical sufferings, -- until it reached the dazzling dimensions of the charity of Christ.

In the beginning of her journey, Thérèse recognized herself in the classic lines of every feminine vocation: “To be your spouse, O Jesus, to be a Carmelite, to be, by virtue of my union with you, the mother of souls, this ought to be enough for me . . . but it is not so . . . I feel other vocations within myself . . . O my Jesus! To all these crazy aspirations of mine what will you reply? Today, you want to fulfill other desires of mine bigger than the universe.”

The liturgy, rather audaciously, applies the prophecy of Isaiah to Thérèse. “Rejoice with Jerusalem” becomes “Rejoice with Thérèse and be glad because of her, all you who love her” (Is 66:10). The passion of Thérèse was to love and to be loved. And love was given her. It rushed upon her like a river, invaded her like an overflowing torrent. She dared to open herself to immense desires, and God gave to her with immensity.

Many of us have loved Thérèse for a long time, loved her as a sister, a friend very close to us, someone capable of understanding both the little things that make up our day to day lives and the big things that weigh heavily on us at certain moments, testing our faith in love and causing hope’s little flame to flicker. We are all, I think, fond of repeating that promise of hers that has been translated into countless languages, and rightly so: “If the good God grants my desires, my heaven will be spent on earth even until the end of the world. Yes, I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.”

If we are to share in the spiritual experience of Thérèse, it will not be by the hammer blows of a steel willpower, nor by dint of effort and striving, nor by a glorious record of victories. It is not by going up but rather by going down, by descending into the last holdouts of our weakness, into the emptiness of a terrible and magnificent poverty, that we will find ourselves with Thérèse in the peace of the weaned child on its mother’s lap (Ps 130:2).

There, in an intimacy open to the little, the broken, and the poor, and closed to everyone else, the Father surprises the friends of Thérèse with the mysteries of the kingdom hidden from the learned and the clever, and revealed to children (Lk 10:21). God waits for us, not on the summits of perfection with crown in hand to reward what we, of ourselves, may have done. He waits for us rather with all the tenderness of His motherly heart, exactly where we fall weak, bruised, humiliated, and reduced to powerlessness. Yes, we fall, but only to discover with amazement that it is into the bosom of the Father. There, in the gentleness of the Spirit, the Son waits to welcome us, saying, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).

On the lips of Thérèse, this word -- “Father” -- learned from the lips of Jesus, was, in some way, reinvented for our times. On the lips of Thérèse, the word “Father” was rescued from the bland formulas of a piety past its expiration date, to be pronounced for our world and for our time with the radical newness of the Gospel. If we learn anything at all from this twenty-four year old Doctor of the Church, let it be this: to dare to say “Father” in the breath of the Holy Spirit, to dare to call God “Father” with the boldness of the little, the poor, and the half crazy, a boldness that shocks the custodians of a religion of convention and routine to speak the Gospel again to those who, hoping against all hope, believe in Love.

Thérèse

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As a love offering for the feast of my dear Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, I translated Dom Eugène Vandeur's doctrinal synthesis of Merciful Love, the Cross, and the Mass in her life. The original text appeared in 1925 as part of a commentary of the then new Propers for the Mass of the feast of Saint Thérèse.

The Cross Reveals Merciful Love

The greatest proof of love that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has given to His Father is His sacrifice on the cross. This sacrifice, the most freely given that ever was, -- and from that derives the infinite merit of this oblation of a Man Who is God -- was an act of filial and loving obedience. This act repaired the profanation of the absolute rights of God over His creation that was wrought by Adam and by his race. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross was supreme adoration, fulness of thanksgiving, victorious supplication, and total expiation. The offering of this immolation appeased God and, at the same time, assured our redemption. By virtue of this, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is also the greatest proof of Merciful Love that Jesus Christ has given to men.

Jesus' Love for His Father and for His Friends

This doctrine is condensed for us in these two words of the Gospel: "But that the world may know, that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I: Arise, let us go hence" (John 14, 31). And He went out toward Gethsemani. And again: "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

Love for Love

The love that the Heart of Christ revealed to us there, on the cross, to all of us and to each one, is mercy: mercy bound up with an infinite tenderness, or rather, suffused into it. One who welcomes that mercy is sanctified and saved. He will assuredly be sanctified and assured of his salvation who, wanting to respond with love to this Merciful Love, and meditating the word of the Apostle, "He loved me, and delivered Himself up for me" (Galatians 2, 20), will return the proposition and, "offering himself voluntarily as a victim of holocaust to Merciful Love," will exclaim, "Ah, then, I will love Him, and deliver myself up for Him."

The Cross, the Altar, and the Mass

Know that what the CROSS merited, what the CROSS procured, what the CROSS preached, the ALTAR applies to us, procuring and preaching it ceaselessly, and more and more. And so, to live the MASS, is for a soul to abide in the uninterrupted act of this offering: the response of love to Merciful Love. Thus does a soul draw Merciful Love to herself ever more abundantly.

For Sinners

Thérèse tells us that to be devoted to Merciful Love "continually allows the Love with which God loves a soul and the love with which that soul loves God to come together in the heart, there ceaselessly to conceive new flames, which transform the soul in God" (Thérèse, Act of Offering). Thus does one become a wide open vessel, the receptacle of a Love rich in divine mercies. This frees "the torrent of infinite tenderness enclosed in the Divine Heart to overflow into oneself" (Thérèse, Act of Offering); it is the martyrdom of love, Love's direct work in the soul. The consequences of this will, nearly always, entail suffering, but suffering cherished because with it one can purchase souls, a multitude of souls who will love Merciful Love eternally. By making oneself, at the altar, an extension of Jesus, crucified by Love, one causes the abundance of the infinite merits of the Cross to shower down, especially upon sinners. What an ideal!

Consumed by Merciful Love

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus synthesized this doctrine in a practical way when, in her solemn consecration to Merciful Love -- a ceaseless response to the consecration of the Cross and of the Mass -- the Lord inspired her to say:

In order that my life may be one Act of perfect Love, I offer myself as a Victim of Holocaust to Thy Merciful Love, imploring Thee to consume me unceasingly, and to allow the floods of infinite tenderness gathered up in Thee to overflow into my soul, so that I may become a very martyr of Thy Love, O my God!

The Thirst of the Crucified

The entire Christian and religious life of Saint Thérèse is there, whole and entire. She herself provides the living commentary on the [liturgical texts of the] Mass composed for her [feast] by her Mother, the Church. This is what she was saying when, with a pen of fire, she wrote:

One Sunday, closing my book at the end of Mass, a picture of Our Lord on the Cross half slipped out, showing only one of His Divine Hands, pierced and bleeding. I felt an indescribable thrill such as I had never felt before. My heart was torn with grief to see that Precious Blood falling to the ground, and no one caring to treasure It as It fell, and I resolved to remain continually in spirit at the foot of the Cross, that I might receive the Divine Dew of Salvation and pour it forth upon souls. From that day the cry of my dying Saviour--"I thirst!"--sounded incessantly in my heart, and kindled therein a burning zeal hitherto unknown to me. My one desire was to give my Beloved to drink; I felt myself consumed with thirst for souls, and I longed at any cost to snatch sinners from the everlasting flames of hell.

The Souls of Priests

"I feel," she wrote to one of her sIsters,

that Jesus is asking us to quench His thirst by giving Him souls, especially the souls of priests. . . Yes, let us pray for priests; let our life be consecrated to them . . . These souls [of priests] ought to be more transparent than crystal; but, alas, I feel that there are some ministers of the Lord who are not what they should be. And so, let us pray and suffer for them . . . Understand the cry of my heart!

Merciful Love Spread Abroad

It is very clear. Thérèse lived the Mass, especially its expiatory character. She stood at the foot of the holy cross raised over the altar, to gather up the Merciful Love that quenched her own thirst; then she would spread abroad that same Merciful Love over souls, to save them.

The Mass Made Thérèse a Saint

The Mass is the application to souls of the fruits of the Redemption merited upon the cross. If Thérèse of the Child Jesus is a saint, it is the cross that merited sainthood for her, but it is the Mass that applied to her the merits of sanctification and of salvation.

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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