31 August 2009
I salute thee, holy Angel
who didst comfort my Jesus in His agony,
and with thee I praise
the most holy Trinity
for having chosen thee
from among all the holy Angels
to comfort and strengthen Him
who is the comfort and strength of all
that are in affliction.
By the honor thou didst enjoy
and by the obedience, humility and love
wherewith thou didst assist
the sacred Humanity of Jesus, my Savior,
when He was fainting for very sorrow
at seeing the sins of the world
and especially my sins,
I beseech thee to obtain for me
perfect sorrow for my sins;
deign to strengthen me
In the afflictions that now overwhelm me,
and in all the other trials,
to which I shall be exposed henceforth
and, in particular,
when I find myself in my final agony.
30 August 2009
A while ago now, I posted on why the name of this blog is Acta Sanctorum. You can read that post here.
If you are looking for the real Acta Sanctorum, it can be found here, and my post, which feebly describes the Acta Sanctorum is here.
29 August 2009
29 AUGUST 2009. Today the Church celebrates the memorial of the beheading of Saint John the Baptist.
St. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ's arrival, was killed under Herod's order of beheading. The Gospel of Matthew tells the story in this manner:
Now Herod had arrested John, bound (him), and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.(Matthew 14:3-12).
Today we pray that just as John the Baptist had the courage to cry out the Name of Christ and condemn the evil he witnessed, we too will have the courage to act rightly and not condone evil by our silence.
IMAGE: Andrea del Verrocchio (1477-1480), Florence, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
25 August 2009
25 AUGUST 2009. Today the Church celebrates the memorial of Saint Louis IX, King of France from 12126-1270. Louis was canonized by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297, and is the only French monarch to be canonized a saint. Louis was also a tertiary of the Trinitarians. In his day, Saint Louis was perceived as the exemplary Christian prince and, because of his renown, many places are named after him, including St. Louis, Missouri.
Louis was born in 1214 in Poissy, France, the son of King Louis VIII. When he was 12, Louis' father died and he was named king. His mother, though, served as ruler of France, as regent, until Louis reached the age of 21. During his reign, Louis conducted two crusades and is reported to have been known for his piety and kindness to the poor. Apparently, it would have been unthinkable among the contemporaries of Louis, for him to not have conducted crusades to the Holy Land.
Under Louis, France enjoyed its pinnacle of political strength and economic wealth in Europe. Louis' patronage in architecture radiated throughout Europe, and can be seen clearly in his personal chapel the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.
23 August 2009
Having traveled a good deal over the last year or so I have attended mass in Cathedrals and churches across the United States. And, I noticed a curious thing: in several churches, there was a minor difference in the people's response to certain of the mass parts. In particular, when the priest says at the sign of peace: "The peace of the Lord be with you always." In some places, the people respond: "And with your spirit."
This was new to me. I was raised (having been born not too long after the promulgation of the 1970 Roman Missal) saying: "And also with you." The first time I heard this, I thought that the pastor of the particular parish must have been a stickler for his Latin translations. However, after hearing it in another church in a different state, I decided to look into the matter.
As many are no doubt aware, the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops is working on an English translation of the new Roman Missal promulgated by the great Pope John Paul II in 2000. The USCCB, in fact, has a web portal that has just been rolled out to introduce the faithful to the new English translation. There are also a number of articles that can be found that indicate the Bishops engaged in a pretty lively debate over this new translation.
For our episcopal shepherds, let us pray that the Holy Spirit guide the minds and hearts of all those who are working on the English translation.
IMAGE: from The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (www.fssp.org)
22 August 2009
22 AUGUST 2009. Today the Church celebrates the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today's celebration was first enunciated by Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Ad caeli reginam, issued on October 11, 1954. Originally, the memorial was celebrated on the last day of Mary's month--May 31. However, Pope Paul VI moved the feast to August 22.
Recognizing previous recognitions of Mary as Queen, Pope Pius XII recites the many saints that have attributed heavenly royalty to Our Mother. At one point, Pius writes:
St. Alphonsus Ligouri, in collecting the testimony of past ages, writes these words with evident devotion: "Because the virgin Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the King of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honored her with the title of 'Queen'."Mary, Our Mother, is indeed the queen of heaven and earth. As Christ the King was born of her virgin womb, and she was chosen by God to bear His Son, we acknowledge that Mary has a royal presence in the sight of the Lord. There is no other woman to whom the title of queen so rightly belongs.
Our life, our sweetness, and our hope!
To thee do we cry, poor banished
children of Eve, to thee do we send
up our sighs, mourning and weeping
in this valley, of tears.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us; and
after this our exile show unto us the
blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus;
O clement, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
IMAGE: The Salus Populi Romani crowned by Pope Pius XII in 1954
21 August 2009
21 AUGUST 2009. With the United States engaged in a debate over health care reform, it may add to the dialogue to prayerfully consider the Catholic principles that are to be applied to any proposal.
In a statement coming days before his ordination as the Archbishop of New Orleans, Archbishop Gregory Aymond, issued the following statement that sets out Catholic principles on health care reform in concise and meaningful manner.
The Catholic bishops in the United States recognize a pressing need for health care reform. Too many American citizens lack basic health care coverage and the cost of health care is becoming prohibitive for many more.As faithful Catholics let us join our payer with Archbishop Aymond's for wisdom and courage.
The Lord Jesus, who came to save us from our sins, manifested a great concern for the sick in his public ministry. He also urged us to reach out to the poor and sick in our midst. The Church rightly considers that government has a responsibility to ensure access to basic health care for all.
The bishops do not propose a specific plan or policy. But we set out the following principles to shape public policy:
* We need to develop a plan which ensures access to basic health care for all.
* We need to make sure that the poor and the vulnerable, including legal immigrants, are part of this plan.
* We need to control health care costs so that it is affordable to all.
* We need to make sure that abortion, euthanasia or other immoral activities are not mandated or financed with tax payer dollars. This includes conscience protection for all providers, whether institutions or individual persons, and for all recipients.
The bishops, without proposing either a public or private sector option, urge that any plan which is developed embrace these principles. Catholics are urged to contact their United States Senators and Representative to ask them to use these principles to evaluate all proposals that are developed.
Strident or shrill rhetoric does not help us to engage in civil and respectful deliberation about a serious social issue with significant moral implications. God grant us the wisdom to discern what is right and the courage to do it.
For Catholics in the U.S., the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has put up a web portal which details the Church's position on the health care reform debate. The web portal is available here.
My thoughts on this, when time is take to pray and consider the issue, always return to the opening paragraphs the encyclical Evangelium Vitae, written by the great John Paul II:
Man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life even in its temporal phase. Life in time, in fact, is the fundamental condition, the initial stage and an integral part of the entire unified process of human existence. It is a process which, unexpectedly and undeservedly, is enlightened by the promise and renewed by the gift of divine life, which will reach its full realization in eternity (cf. 1 Jn 3:1-2). At the same time, it is precisely this supernatural calling which highlights the relative character of each individual's earthly life. After all, life on earth is not an "ultimate" but a "penultimate" reality; even so, it remains a sacred reality entrusted to us, to be preserved with a sense of responsibility and brought to perfection in love and in the gift of ourselves to God and to our brothers and sisters.(footnote omitted). So, as every human has a dignity imbued in us by our Loving Creator, which is made manifest in the promise of eternity that is available to all, and each of us has a right to have the sacred value of our earthly lives protected and respected.
The Church knows that this Gospel of life, which she has received from her Lord, has a profound and persuasive echo in the heart of every person--believer and non-believer alike--because it marvellously fulfils all the heart's expectations while infinitely surpassing them. Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15) the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree. Upon the recognition of this right, every human community and the political community itself are founded.
Basic and affordable health care, that is fully respectful of the the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, is a critical piece of how we as a society show respect for life.
As the United States Catholic Conference said in its pastoral letter Economic Justice for All :
Personal decisions, policies of private and public bodies, and power relationships must be all evaluated by their effects on those who lack the minimum necessities of nutrition, housing, education, and health care. In particular, this principle recognizes that meeting fundamental human needs must come before the fulfillment of desires for luxury consumer goods, for profits not conducive to the common good, and for unnecessary military hardware.The next time you hear a news story or engage in a conversation about the health care debate, stop and think. Pray briefly, joining your prayer with that of Archbishop Aymond, for the courage and wisdom to faithfully engage in the debate. Then ask these questions:
- Do the positions, and the words of the debate, show respect for the dignity of all human life?
- How would the debate change if the focus was put on measuring the success of health care reform by how it assisted those least among us?
- Is the position that is being promoted one that places the common good ahead of individual's selfish desires?
19 August 2009
According to the Dominican Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours, Blessed Jordan was born in Pisa around 1255 (although some sources say 1260) and entered the Order there. He served as a lector in several houses of the Order and was known for his eloquent preaching throughout the region of Pisa and Florence. His fame was for his pioneering use of the vernacular Tuscan, instead of Latin, for preaching and lecturing--his use of Tuscan was said to be musical, but not ornate.
Blessed Jordan is the founder of the Confraternity of the Holy Redeemer, whose constitution survives to this day. In his time, Blessed Jordan was also renowned for his knowledge of the Breviary, the Missal, the Bible (and its marginal notes), and the second half of St. Thomas' Summa Theologiae, all of which he had reported memorized. Reportedly, however, Blessed Jordan was quick to point out that learning alone does not make a preacher; what is needed is holiness of life.
Blessed Jordan died in 1311 of natural causes in Piacenza while on his way to teach in Paris. Blessed Jordan's relics are today venerated in the church of Saint Catalina in Pisa, Italy.
15 August 2009
O Immaculate Virgin,
Mother of God and Mother of Humanity,
we believe with all the fervour of our faith
in your triumphal Assumption
both in body and in soul into heaven
where you are acclaimed as Queen
by all the choirs of angels
and all the legions of saints;
we unite with them to praise and bless the Lord
who has exalted you above all other pure creatures
and to offer you the tribute of our devotion and our love.
We know that your gaze,
which on earth watched over the humble
and suffering humanity of Jesus,
in heaven is filled with the vision
of that humanity glorified
and with the vision of uncreated Wisdom,
and that the joy of your soul
in the direct contemplation of the adorable Trinity
causes your heart to throb with overwhelming tenderness;
and we, poor sinners whose body weights down
the flight of the soul,
beg you to purify our hearts so that,
while we remain below,
we may learn to see God and God alone
in the beauties of his creatures.
We trust that your merciful eyes
may deign to gaze down upon our miseries and anguish,
upon our struggles and our weaknesses;
that your countenance may smile
upon our joys and our victories;
that you may hear the voice of Jesus
saying to you of each one of us,
as He once said to you of His Beloved Disciple:
"Behold you son,"
and we who call upon you as our Mother,
we, like John, take you as the guide,
strength and consolation of our mortal life.
We are inspired by the certainty that your eyes,
which wept over the earth crimsoned by the blood of Jesus,
are yet turned toward this world
racked by wars and persecutions,
the oppression of the just and the weak.
From the shadows of this vale of tears,
we seek in your heavenly assistance,
tender mercy, comfort for our aching hearts,
and help in the trials of Church and country.
We believe finally that in the glory where you reign,
clothed with the sun and crowned with stars,
you are, after Jesus,
the joy and gladness of all the angels and the saints,
and from this earth,
over which we tread as pilgrims,
comforted by our faith in the future resurrection,
we look to you our life,
our sweetness, our hope;
draw us onward with the sweetness of your voice,
so that one day, after our exile,
you may show us Jesus,
the blessed fruit of your womb.
O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.
15 AUGUST 2009. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady into heaven to be with her son, Our Lord Jesus, in the majesty and presence of God. It seems as though today is a turning point in the calendar; seasonally Autumn will be right around the corner and this solemnity marks a turning of the Church from the long days of Summer, and Ordinary Time, toward the great celebration of the Incarnation of Christ.
Pope Pius XII, in 1950, enunciated as Catholic dogma the belief that Our Lady was assumed bodily into heaven. In Pius XII's Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus (The Most Bountiful God), the Pope proclaims that: "the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." While fairly recent in time, the Assumption is not a new teaching. Indeed, Tradition reaching back as far as the Third Century tells the faithful of Mary's bodily assumption to be with Our Lord.
Indeed, too, the Assumption is the very fulfillment of the hope in Christ that all faithful share--the bodily return of Our Lord and the bodily redemption of all the faithful to live in eternity with God. On the Solemnity of the Assumption in 2004, the great Pope John Paul II said this:
Today the Church celebrates Mary’s glorious Assumption body and soul into Heaven. The two dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption are closely related. Both proclaim the glory of Christ the Redeemer and the holiness of Mary, whose human destiny is even now perfectly and definitively realized in God.Today we venerate Our Lady who was assumed bodily into Heaven, a destiny for which every person is created--to be loved by God to the complete fulfillment of that Love. Thus, we pray for the assistance of Our Lady, assumed and seated in heaven with Christ Her son, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit--the Holy Trinity--that as the Blessed Virgin Mary was the fulfillment of Christ's promise to us, we may hope in Christ, loving Christ with our very lives, to share too in Our Mother's eternal reward, with Her assistance and the intercessory assistance of all the angels and saints.
"When I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also" (Jn 14: 3). Mary is the pledge of the fulfilment of Christ’s promise. Her Assumption thus becomes for us "a sign of sure hope and consolation" (cf. Lumen Gentium, 68).
Father in heaven,
all creation rightly gives you praise,
for all life and all holiness come from you.
In the plan of your wisdom
she who bore the Christ in her womb
was raised body and soul in glory to be with him in heaven.
May we follow her example in reflecting your holiness
and join in her hymn of endless love and praise.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
14 August 2009
14 AUGUST 2009. Today the Church celebrates the memorial of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, declared by John Paul II as the "Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century."
Born in 1894, in Central Poland (then part of the Russian Empire) Maxilian Kolbe joined the Conventual Franciscans in 1910 and was ordained as a priest in 1918. Kolbe's life was strongly influenced by a visit from Our Lady as a child. He described the visit like this:
"That night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both."
Following his ordination, Kolbe returned to the newly independent Poland in 1919. In Poland, Kolbe worked to promote the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Between 1930 and 1936 Kolbe also traveled to Japan and founded a monastery outside Nagasaki, which remains today prominent in the Japanese Catholic Church.
After the outbreak of World War II, Father Kolbe hid refugees from the Nazis, including 2,000 Jewish people, in his Friary. On February 14, 1941, Father Kolbe was arrested by the SS and in May was transferred to Auschwitz. Because Father Kolbe was a devout priest, he was treated to regular beatings and other special ill treatment during his imprisonment.
In July 1941 a prisoner disappeared from Father Kolbe's barracks. Following rules intended to entice prisoners to police each other, the guards then chose ten men from the barracks to die by starvation. One of the men chosen for death, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out that he had a family, and Father Kolbe volunteered to take his place.
The men and Father Kolbe were then placed in Block 13 (notorious for torture) to die by starvation and dehydration. After three weeks without food or water, only Father Kolbe and three of the other men remained. During the time with the other men in Block 13, Father Kolbe led them in songs and prayer. It is reported that each time the guards entered to check on Father Kolbe and the others, he was found kneeling or standing calmly in the middle of the cell. Finally, being the last man alive, Father Kolbe was killed by an injection of carbolic acid.
Father Kolbe was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1971, and canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 10, 1982 in the presence of Franciszek Gajowniczek. Upon his canonization, Saint Kolbe was declared a martyr of the faith.
Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, pray for us.
09 August 2009
In the Gospel, we hear that those around Christ were skeptical of his proclamation of being from God, for they knew Mary and Joseph. Even though Jesus appeared to be only of human origin to them, he was challenging them to believe in more than their mere experience told them was the case. We too are challenged to accept Him in the bread of the Eucharist and to rectify our lives (echoed in the call of the second reading) in accord with the gift of Himself that we receive sacramentally. Christ was challenging his listeners, and us, to fully believe (with our lives) in Him as the Christ, the Messiah sent from the Father.
So too was Elijah challenged by the angel to take nourishment to endure the journey. We hear that after eating and drinking, Elijah journeyed for forty days and nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.
In the second reading, we are challenged to not "grieve the Holy Spirit" by continuing to live as those who do not know Christ; instead, we are called to be "imitators of God" and to "walk in Christ." A challenge indeed.
We pray that the challenges given to us by Our Lord are not beyond our abilities. We trust and hope in the Lord that by His grace, which is always sufficient, and with all humility to lift up our sufferings and hardships to Him, we may meet these challenges in a manner that is truly an offering to Our Lord, who gives us everything. Amen.
Light of the Church,
Teacher of Truth,
Rose of Patience,
Ivory of Chastity,
You freely poured forth the waters of widsom;
Preacher of Grace,
unite us with the Blessed.
Let us pray:
Grant, we beseech You, Almighty God,
that we who are weighed down by the burden of our sins,
may be relieved through the patronage of the Blessed Dominic.
Your confessor and Our Father.
Through Christ Our Lord.
IMAGE: Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (www.nashvilledominican.net)