Fire in the belly


-Holy Spirit window, Christ the King Parish, Ann Arbor, MI

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – Unite me to You, O Lord, and may the power of Your charity enkindle in my heart true apostolic fire.

MEDITATION

St. Thomas teaches that love is like fire. It produces a flame, and the flame of love is zeal. If the fire burns intensely, then the flame will also be intense and devouring. True apostolic zeal is the spontaneous result, the normal fruit of intimate contact of the soul with God through love. The more a soul is united to God by love, the more it becomes enveloped in the flame of His charity, participating in His infinite love for men, in His eternal zeal for their salvation; thus it necessarily becomes apostolic.

It would be an exaggeration to say that one could not be an apostle before being thus intimately enraptured by divine love, but it is evident that the fullness of the apostolate, and therefore of apostolic fecundity, will not be attained without this interior flame which is born of union with God. Until we attain this, we must consider ourselves beginners in the apostolate, like apprentices who apply themselves to an art, executing this or that work without yet being sustained or led by personal inspiration. Beginners must act as such, that is, with caution, giving themselves to the apostolate with prudence and measure, because not having attained that spiritual maturity in which the flame of zeal burns spontaneously within them, they have not as yet those reserves of grace which serve to defend the soul from the dangers of a too intense external activity, and which, at the same time, have the power to make all their labor fruitful. St. Teresa asserts that

“as yet the soul is not even weaned, but is like a child beginning to suck the breast. If it be taken from its mother, what can it be expected to do but die? That, I am very much afraid will be the lot of anyone to whom God has granted this favor, if he gives up prayer; unless he does so for some very exceptional reason, or unless he returns to it quickly, he will go from bad to worse” (St Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle IV, 3).

Let us remark that Saint Teresa is not speaking of souls who are taking the first steps in the interior life, but of those who have attained to the prayer of quiet and could well be called proficients; yet it is no exaggeration to say that, in respect to the apostolate, they are still beginners.

COLLOQUY

“O my God, how fervent and strong is the charity of a soul who is united with You by love! Those whom You have taken to Yourself in this way, cannot confine themselves to their personal advantage, and be satisfied with it. Nor would it suffice for them to go to heaven alone, but with solicitude and affection wholly celestial, and with utmost diligence, they endeavor to lead many others with them. Grant, O Lord, that my love for You may have this same effect on me.” (cf. John of the Cross).

“O Lord, when once a soul is resolved to love You and has resigned itself into Your hands You will have nothing else save that it desire and seek to contribute to Your greater glory.

Oh! the charity of those who truly love You! How little rest will they be able to take if they see they can do anything to help even one soul to make progress and love You better, or to give it some comfort or save it from some danger! How insupportable would their rest become for them!

Even if I can do nothing for others by my actions, I can do a great deal by means of prayer, importuning You, O Lord, for the many souls the thought of whose ruin causes me such grief. I would lose my own comfort, and look upon it as well lost, for I am not thinking of my own pleasure but of how better to do Your will.

O my God, as time goes on, my desires to do something for the good of some soul grows greater and greater, and I often feel like one who has a large amount of treasure in her charge and would like everyone to enjoy it, but whose hands are tied, so that she cannot distribute it…. Unable to contain myself any longer … I call upon You, O Lord, beseeching You to find me a means of gaining some soul for Your service.” (Teresa of Jesus, Foundations, 5-1).

Love & fire,
Matthew

Aug 15 – Sermon on the Assumption by St John Damascene (675-749 AD), Doctor of the Church & the Assumption


-Assumption of the Virgin, oil on canvas, Height: 237 cm (93.3 in); Width: 169 cm (66.5 in), by Juan Martín Cabezalero, 1660, Prado National Museum, Spain. Please click on the image for greater detail.

-by St John Damascene

“Thy blessed soul is naturally parted from thy blissful and undefiled body, and the body is delivered to the grave, yet it does not endure in death, nor is it the prey of corruption. The body of her, whose virginity remained unspotted in childbirth, was preserved in its incorruption and was taken to a better, diviner place, where death is not, but eternal life. …Therefore I will not call thy sacred transformation death, but rest or going home, and it is more truly a going home … thou dwellest in a happier state.

Angels with archangels bear thee up. Impure spirits trembled at thy departure. The air raises a hymn of praise at thy passage, and the atmosphere is purified. Heaven rejoices thy soul with joy. The heavenly powers greet thee with sacred canticles and with joyous praise saying:

‘Who is this most pure creature ascending, shining as the dawn, beautiful as the moon, conspicuous as the sun? [cf Revelation 12, Song of Songs 6:10] How sweet and beautiful thou art, the lily of the field, the rose among thorns [cf Song of Songs 1:16, 2:1,2]; therefore the young maidens loved thee [cf Song of Songs 1:3]. We are drawn after the odor of thy ointments [cf Song of Songs 1:3-4]. The King introduced thee into His chamber [cf Song of Songs 2:4]. There Powers protect thee, Principalities praise thee, Thrones proclaim thee, Cherubim are hushed in joy, and Seraphim magnify the true Mother by nature and by grace of their very Lord. Thou wert not taken into heaven as Elias [Elijah] was, nor didst thou penetrate to the third heaven with Paul, but thou didst reach the royal throne itself of thy Son, seeing it with thine own eyes, standing by it in joy and unspeakable familiarity. O gladness of angels and of all heavenly powers, sweetness of patriarchs and of the just, perpetual exultation of prophets, rejoicing the world…refreshment of the weary, comfort of the sorrowful…health of the sick, harbour of the storm-tossed, lasting strength of mourners, and perpetual succour of all who invoke thee…’

We, too, approach thee today, O Queen; and again, I say, O Queen, O Virgin Mother of God, staying our souls with our trust in thee, as with a strong anchor. Lifting up mind, soul, and body, and all ourselves to thee, rejoicing in psalms and hymns and spiritual canticles, we reach through thee One who is beyond our reach on account of His Majesty. If, as the divine Word made flesh taught us, honor shown to servants is honor shown to our…Lord, how can honor shown to thee, His Mother, be slighted? How is it not most desirable?…those who think of Thee should recall the memory of Thy most precious gift as the cause of our lasting joy. How it fills us with gladness! How the mind that dwells on this holy treasury of Thy grace enriches itself.

Watch over us, O Queen, the dwelling-place of our Lord. Lead and govern all our ways as thou wilt…Lead us into the calm harbor of the divine will. Make us worthy of future happiness through the sweet and face-to-face vision of the Word made flesh through thee. With Him, glory, praise, power, and majesty be to the Father and to the holy and life-giving Spirit, now and forever. Amen.”

Love,
Matthew

Aug 15 – Solemnity of the Assumption & Disfigurement of Death


-please click on the image for greater detail

“At Your right hand stands the Queen in gold of Ophir.” – Ps 45:9

The doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, body & soul, implicitly taught in the liturgy since at least the sixth century AD and explicitly taught by the ordinary magisterium of the Church since that time, was solemnly defined as a dogma of faith in 1950 by Pope Pius XII, the ONLY time the doctrine of papal infallibility has been invoked since it was dogmatically defined.


-by Br Simon Teller, OP

“Sooner or later, my body will become a corpse.

A corpse looks alien. It’s both strangely familiar (so clearly my body), yet utterly unrecognizable (so clearly not me), putting on display the jarring indignity of death, the separation of my soul from my body—the fundamental elements that constitute me as a human person. Death dissolves the integration of my human identity, separating (in a sense) me from myself.

The cold truth about being mortal is that, sooner or later, we all suffer the disfigurement of death.

All of us except one, who, “when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 966). Death could not defile Mary because she was so closely united, in the core of her identity, to her Son, the very Source of Life.

While she gave her own physical likeness to Jesus, Mary was deeply conformed to Him as one made in the Divine Image. She defined her very identity by this conformity: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to thy word” (Lk. 1:38). Through her union with the Divine Word, Mary’s heart and soul magnified the glory of the Lord. She was full of grace, full of Divine Life, which is to say that she was full of Divine Love—the Love that the deep waters of death cannot quench (cf. Song of Songs 8:6-7). Because of this, when she came to the end of her earthly life, she crossed over those waters of death undefiled to the core of her being, with the harmonious union of her body and soul intact.

Mary’s assumption into heaven teaches us what it means to be fully alive, truly ourselves, immune to death’s sting, immortal. The true life is the life of grace, our participation in the Divine Life of God, into which we are initiated and in which we are sustained through the Sacraments. When we lose this Divine Life through sin we become spiritual corpses—alienated from our true selves, unrecognizable, disfigured. The Sacraments incorporate us into the resurrection of Christ, raising our spiritual corpses from the dead and making us participants in the undying life of God.

Mary lives now in heaven to save us from eternal death. She is our Blessed Mother, gaining for us the gift of Divine Life through her prayers, now and at the hour of our death. Which is why today, on the Feast of the Assumption, we entrust ourselves, body and soul, to Mary, Queen of Heaven.”

Love,
Matthew

1 Cor 12:26 – one suffers, all suffer…

Jesus, You who have accepted me as a member of Your Mystical Body, grant that I may not be in it as a stranger, but that I may work for the good of all my brethren.

“If a thorn,” says St. John Chrysostom, “gets into the sole of the foot, the whole body feels it and is solicitous for it: the back bends, the hands reach down to draw it out, the head is lowered, and the eyes watch very carefully and anxiously.

The cause of all evils lies in the fact that we consider as alien the things that concern our own body [the Mystical Body of Christ]. No one is fulfilling his own duty if he ignores his neighbor’s salvation. If you dare to contend that you have nothing in common with your fellow member; if you think you have nothing in common with your brother, then neither have you Christ for your Head.”

“O Lord, turn Your merciful eyes upon Your people and upon Your Mystical Body, the Holy Church, since You will receive more glory from pardoning many souls than You will by pardoning only me, a wretched creature who has offended You so often. I beseech You, therefore, divine eternal Charity, to avenge Yourself on me and be merciful to Your people; I shall never depart from Your presence until I see that You have shown mercy to them. How could I be happy if I had eternal life and Your people were condemned to death?… Therefore, I wish, and as a favor I implore You, to show mercy to Your people by that same charity which moved You to create man to Your image and likeness so that He might have a share in You and in Your life.

O Lord, I offer You my life now and forever, whenever it shall please You to take it, and I offer it for Your glory, humbly beseeching You, by the merits of Your Passion, to cleanse and purify Your Spouse, the Church, from every defect; delay no longer!… I turn my gaze in another direction and I see the lost souls of countless sinners. My heart is broken at the sight of them, or rather, it is dilated by the force of bitter regret. I am overcome with compassion, and I cannot help weeping for their misery as if I found myself—like them—soiled with the mire of their guilt.

Lord, during Your mortal life, You bore the weight of two crosses by carrying in Your body the heavy burden of our sins. In order that I may be conformed to You, You have burdened me with the weight of two crosses: one crushes my body with infirmities and other distresses, the other transfixes my soul which grieves for the perdition and blindness of so many poor, obstinate sinners.” (St. Catherine of Siena).

Love & compassion, literally “to suffer with”,
Matthew

Aug 10 – Sermon by St Leo the Great (400-461 AD) on the Feast of St Lawrence


-“Marytrdom of St Lawrence”, Pellegrino Tibaldi, 1592, oil on canvas, Height: 419 cm (13.7 ft); Width: 315 cm (10.3 ft), Basilica of Escorial, Spain


-annual Perseid meteor shower, “Tears of St Lawrence”, always around this time of year

“While the height of all virtues, dearly-beloved, and the fullness of all righteousness is born of that love, wherewith God and one’s neighbor is loved, surely in none is this love found more conspicuous and brighter than in the blessed martyrs; who are as near to our Lord Jesus, Who died for all men, in the imitation of His love, as in the likeness of their suffering. For, although that Love, wherewith the Lord has redeemed us, cannot be equalled by any man’s kindness, because it is one thing that a man who is doomed to die one day should die for a righteous man, and another that One Who is free from the debt of sin should lay down His life for the wicked Romans 5:7-8: yet the martyrs also have done great service to all men, in that the Lord Who gave them boldness, has used it to show that the penalty of death and the pain of the cross need not be terrible to any of His followers, but might be imitated by many of them. If therefore no good man is good for himself alone, and no wise man’s wisdom befriends himself only, and the nature of true virtue is such that it leads many away from the dark error on which its light is shed, no model is more useful in teaching God’s people than that of the martyrs. Eloquence may make intercession easy, reasoning may effectually persuade; but yet examples are stronger than words, and there is more teaching in practice than in precept.

And how gloriously strong in this most excellent manner of doctrine the blessed martyr Laurentius is, by whose sufferings today is marked, even his persecutors were able to feel, when they found that his wondrous courage, born principally of love for Christ, not only did not yield itself, but also strengthened others by the example of his endurance. For when the fury of the gentile potentates was raging against Christ’s most chosen members, and attacked those especially who were of priestly rank, the wicked persecutor’s wrath was vented on Laurentius the deacon, who was pre-eminent not only in the performance of the sacred rites, but also in the management of the church’s property , promising himself double spoil from one man’s capture: for if he forced him to surrender the sacred treasures, he would also drive him out of the pale of true religion. And so this man, so greedy of money and such a foe to the truth, arms himself with double weapon: with avarice to plunder the gold; with impiety to carry off Christ. He demands of the guileless guardian of the sanctuary that the church wealth on which his greedy mind was set should be brought to him. But the holy deacon showed him where he had them stored, by pointing to the many troops of poor saints, in the feeding and clothing of whom he had a store of riches which he could not lose, and which were the more entirely safe that the money had been spent on so holy a cause.

The baffled plunderer, therefore, frets, and blazing out into hatred of a religion, which had put riches to such a use, determines to pillage a still greater treasure by carrying off that sacred deposit , wherewith he was enriched, as he could find no solid hoard of money in his possession. He orders Laurentius to renounce Christ, and prepares to ply the deacon’s stout courage with frightful tortures: and, when the first elicit nothing, fiercer follow. His limbs, torn and mangled by many cutting blows, are commanded to be broiled upon the fire in an iron framework , which was of itself already hot enough to burn him, and on which his limbs were turned from time to time, to make the torment fiercer, and the death more lingering.

You gain nothing, you prevail nothing, O savage cruelty. His mortal frame is released from your devices, and, when Laurentius departs to heaven, you are vanquished. The flame of Christ’s love could not be overcome by your flames, and the fire which burnt outside was less keen than that which blazed within. You but served the martyr in your rage, O persecutor: you but swelled the reward in adding to the pain. For what did your cunning devise, which did not redound to the conqueror’s glory, when even the instruments of torture were counted as part of the triumph? Let us rejoice, then, dearly-beloved, with spiritual joy, and make our boast over the happy end of this illustrious man in the Lord, Who is wonderful in His saints , in whom He has given us a support and an example, and has so spread abroad his glory throughout the world, that, from the rising of the sun to its going down, the brightness of his deacon’s light does shine, and Rome has become as famous in Laurentius as Jerusalem was ennobled by Stephen. By his prayer and intercession we trust at all times to be assisted; that, because all, as the Apostle says, who wish to live holily in Christ, suffer persecution 2 Timothy 3:12, we may be strengthened with the spirit of love, and be fortified to overcome all temptations by the perseverance of steadfast faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, etc.

Love & perseverance in & through & for Him,
Matthew

Aug 8 – Solemnity (OP calendar) of St Dominic, Ebur Castitatis, “Ivory of Chastity”

“O Lumen”, said at Compline each night in Dominican houses…

“O Light of the Church, Doctor of Truth, Rose of Patience, Ivory of Chastity…”

“…Sadly, however, many in the Church have failed spectacularly in this regard. The Church is currently reeling in the aftermath of revelations that a now former cardinal had for years sexually abused a child and many seminarians. It is even sadder that this is just one of many examples of those in Holy Orders who have abandoned their resolve to remain celibate for the sake of the kingdom. And then there’s the question of who knew about these double lives and failed to take any actions. How many Catholics have become disillusioned with their faith because of such betrayals? How many vocations to the priesthood and religious life have been lost? Sexual infidelity is definitely not compatible with Christian fruitfulness.”
– Fr Robert Verrill, OP, English Province

May 24 is the Solemnity of the Translation of St. Dominic. This unusual feast day commemorates the day St. Dominic’s remains were moved, or “translated,” from their original burial spot behind an altar of the church of San Nicolo della Vigne in Bologna, Italy to a more prominent place in the church in 1233…

The move of St. Dominic’s body was carried out at the request of Pope Gregory IX, about one year before the saint’s canonization on July 13, 1234, only 13 years after his death.

As recorded in a letter by Bl. Jordan of Saxony, one of the first leaders of the Dominicans, the brothers were very anxious before the move of the body, because they were worried that when the wooden coffin was uninterred from the stone sepulcher, the body would give off a foul odor, since it had been buried in a poorly constructed tomb, exposed to water and heat.

But they received a great surprise, because when the tomb was opened, a wonderful and sweet perfume emanated from the coffin instead.

“Its sweetness astonished those present, and they were filled with wonder at this strange occurrence. Everyone shed tears of joy, and fear and hope rose in all hearts,” Bl. Jordan wrote.

He reported that the odor remained and if anyone touched a hand or some object to the body, the odor immediately attached itself and lingered for a long time.

“The body was carried to the marble sepulcher where it would rest – it and the perfume that it poured forth. This marvelous aroma which the holy body emitted was evidence to all how much the saint had truly been the good odor of Christ,” he wrote.

By 1240, the church containing St. Dominic’s remains had been expanded into a basilica, and renamed for the saint.”
https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/why-the-feast-of-st-dominic-is-not-actually-the-dominicans-biggest-feast-day-93473

“Chaste is waste.”
“Virtue can hurt you.”
-popular sayings

“We live in a culture of entitlement. Movies, TV shows, and magazines exhort us to get the love that we “deserve.”

But love defies the culture’s rules. (Ed. is it REALLY love if sought or obtained immorally, selfishly? If the “other” is not a person, but an object or subject to objectification as a resource to be used, abused, and disposed of, is it REALLY love? I don’t recall selfishness, being part of the definition of love? Selflessness, agape, yes. Willing the good of the other, is the definition of love I understand, and am challenged through my own sinfulness to constantly pursue.) It is not something one can “get” in the sense of taking it for selfish reasons. When love is treated as an object to be consumed, it vanishes. “If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned” (Song of Songs 8:7).”

Becoming chaste requires a conscious decision to change perspective. Relationships can no longer be viewed through the lens of entitlement.” –https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/life-and-family/abstinence-and-chastity/10-12-reasons-to-be-chaste

Are you only your anatomy? Is anyone? Is that all you are? A thing? A piece of something? To be consumed, a resource, at the will and how and whim of another more powerful or deceptive? Perhaps an unwanted vermin to be exterminated? Does “reason” play any role in our decisions? Is it possible our “reason” can steer us more towards happiness? Like in every other aspect of life? Are we held to account by reason? For reason? Are we permitted to only be held to account by reason when it is convenient? What kind of a silly, ephemeral, meaningless thing this “reason” you say would be then?

“Self-mastery is ordered to the gift of self.” (CCC 2346) The “Gift of Self” IS the definition of love. “You cannot give what you do not have.” -common proverb

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…” -Rm 1:22

Novena to St. Joseph – The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Most Chaste Spouse

O glorious descendant of the kings of Judah, Inheritor of the virtues of all the patriarchs. Just and happy St. Joseph, listen to my prayer. Thou art my glorious protector, and shall ever be, after Jesus and Mary the object of my most profound veneration and confidence. Thou art the most hidden, though the greatest Saint, and art particularly the patron of those who serve God with the greatest purity and fervor. In union with all those who have ever been most devoted to thee I now dedicate myself to thy service; beseeching thee, for the sake of Jesus Christ, Who vouchsafed to love and obey thee as a son, to become a father to me; and to obtain for me the filial respect, confidence and love of a child towards thee.

O powerful advocate of all Christians, whose intercession has never been found to fail, deign to intercede for me now, and to implore for me the particular intention of this Novena.

Present me O great Saint to the adorable Trinity, with Whom thou hadst so glorious and so intimate a correspondence. Obtain that I may never efface by sin the Sacred Image according to the likeness of which, I was created. Beg for me that my divine Redeemer would enkindle in my heart and in all hearts, the fire of His Love, and infuse therein the virtues of His adorable infancy, His purity, simplicity, obedience, and humility.

Obtain for me likewise a lively devotion to thy virgin spouse, and protect me so powerfully in life and death, that I may have the happiness of dying as thou didst, in the friendship of my Creator, and under the immediate protection of the Mother of God. Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Infallibility & Inerrancy

“To me, this always has been the root question, the answer to which answers most other questions in religion. Who—or what—is the (Christian) authority? Is it a living Church, endowed with a magisterium guaranteed, in some way, to hand on faithfully the deposit of faith and capable of deciding fresh questions in a definitive way, or is it the individual Christian, relying on what appears to him/her to be the perspicuity of Scripture?

The claim that the Bible is the final authority reduces to the claim that its reader is the final authority. This perhaps can be appreciated best when discussing infallibility. The Catholic position is that the Church itself is infallible and that its infallibility may be manifested in one of three ways: by formal decrees of ecumenical councils, by highly-circumscribed decisions of popes making definitions on their own, and by the centuries-long, consistent teaching of the Church. (Ed.  It DOES NOT MEAN Popes, or the lesser, are not sinners!!!  Pssst…the Church is FULL of SINNERS!!!!  That is its raison d’ etre!!! Mk 2:17, Lk 5:31-32, Mt 9:12.  I look at infallibility as I look at my father when I was a child calling a definitive halt to debate in our house.  The reason being the debate was becoming more destructive than resolution would have been beneficial, if possible, which it was not looking like by the time he called a halt, imho.)  Protestant churches have no equivalent of the magisterium, even those that have structures that formalistically mirror those of the Catholic Church, such as an episcopacy and councils. If these churches admit infallibility, that charism, by the end of the discussion, is found always and only in Scripture itself. Proponents says that it is the Bible that is infallible. That is a misuse of the word. The Bible is inerrant—that is, its teaching, when properly understood, contains no error. This is a necessary consequence of the inspiration of Scripture: God could not inspire a sacred writer to propose as true what in fact is false. But inerrancy is not infallibility. Inerrancy is a static thing. It is a testament that both testaments are accurate in conveying the truths they attempt to convey…Inerrancy is a good and, for the economy of salvation, a necessary thing—the Bible would not be of much utility if it were awash in errors—but inerrancy is not infallibility.

Infallibility is the inability, under certain circumstances, of deciding or defining in error. Infallibility means not being able to make a mistake. Its existence suggests the possibility, under other circumstances, of a wrong decision being made. It is this second status that all of us are familiar with, since we make wrong decisions regularly. It is the very making of wrong decisions that lets us imagine that it might be possible to have a situation in which making wrong decisions is not possible.

Only an active agent can make a decision, right or wrong. To make a decision, a decider is required. No book, not even the Bible, can decide anything. Even an inspired book is a static thing. It is purely passive. It does not have within itself the power of judgment, of discrimination, of reasoning. It may be inerrant, as the Bible is inerrant, but, on its own, it is incapable of drawing inferences from its own text. Something or someone outside the text is required for that. This means that a person may be infallible, or an institution (such as the Church) manifesting itself through one or more persons may be infallible, but no book is infallible…(Ed. it simply can’t be by definition of the word “infallible”.)

(Ed. Tradition is inescapable, even for Protestants. Not Catholic Tradition, but their own. And, of course, that individual interpretation leads to Protestant unity (sic), etc.)…What simple, unscholarly Christian in fact derives his belief in the Trinitarian doctrine of the Athanasian Creed from his personal reading of the Bible text?…

…Just look at the hodge-podge of books that make up the New Testament: “four fragmentary records of Christ’s life and teaching,” “an inadequate sketch of the early years of the apostolic age,” “some letters,” and “a prophecy.” Nothing suggests that this collection of documents, none of which purports to be a compendium of doctrine, contains everything that the Apostles learned from Christ or that they considered important. . . . The doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture does not involve a belief that Scripture is our sole available source of Christian truth. And, hackneyed though the argument is, it must be pointed out that it is by Tradition and the authority of the teaching Church that we know both the number of the inspired books and the fact of their inspiration.”

-Keating, Karl. Booked for Life: The Bibliographic Memoir of an Accidental Apologist (Kindle Locations 2276-2299, 2309-2310, 2312-2319). Catholic Answers Press. Kindle Edition.

Love,
Matthew

The Papacy



“The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated for what she has lost in the Old. Her spiritual ascendency extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of the Missouri and Cape Horn, countries which a century hence, may not improbably contain a population as large as that which now inhabits Europe. The members of her communion are certainly not fewer than [1.2 billion]…Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.“
-1840, Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800–1859), an Evangelical Protestant, in a review of Leopold von Ranke’s “History of the Popes”

Love,
Matthew

Eucharistic joy -St Julian Eymard

-by St Julian Eymard

“God desired to nourish our spirit, so He gave it His Bread, the Eucharist, announced by Holy Scripture: “He will feed them with the Bread of life and understanding.”

Now, there are no greater joys on earth than the joys of the spirit. Contentment of heart is less lasting because it is based on feeling, and feeling is apt to be inconstant. True joy is of the spirit and consists in the quiet knowledge of the truth.

The light-minded and coarse of soul enjoys nothing spiritually. Even pious souls that lack recollection will never experience spiritual joys. Frivolity of spirit is the greatest obstacle to the reign of God in the soul. If you wish to taste the sweetness of God and enjoy His presence, you must lead a life of recollection and prayer. Even so, your meditations will never yield true happiness if they are not based on Communion, but will only leave you with the sense of perpetual sacrifice.

Jesus Christ exercised the prerogative that was His to give us experience of true joy through Himself alone. The soul that only seldom receives Communion gives God no opportunity to dwell in it in a completely efficacious way. The one, on the contrary, that receives Him frequently will be longer and more often in His presence and, seeing Him and contemplating Him freely, will learn to know Him well and will end by enjoying Him.

In Communion, we enjoy our Lord in our Lord Himself. It is then that we have our most intimate communion with Him — a communion from which we gain a true and profound knowledge of what He is. It is then that Jesus manifests Himself to us most clearly. Faith is a light; Communion is at once light and feeling.

This manifestation of Jesus through Communion enlightens the mind and gives it a special aptitude for discerning more and more clearly the things of God. Just as the elect receive the power to contemplate the being and the majesty of God without being blinded, likewise Jesus, in Communion, increases our ability to know Him, and to such an extent that there is a vast difference in a person before and after Communion.

Take a child before his First Communion; he understands his catechism in the literal sense, word for word. But after Communion, his mind is, as it were, transformed; the child understands then, and feels, and is eager to know more about Jesus Christ. He is fortified and disposed to hear whatever truths you teach.

Can you explain this phenomenon? Before Communion, you hear about Jesus Christ and you know Him; you are told of His Cross, of His suffering. Doubtless you are affected and are even touched with compassion. But let these same truths be presented to you after you have received Communion, and oh, how much more deeply your soul is moved! It cannot hear enough; it understands much more perfectly. Before Communion, you contemplate Jesus outside you; now you contemplate Him within you, with His own eyes!

It is the mystery of Emmaus re-enacted. When Jesus taught the two disciples along the way, explaining the Scriptures to them, their faith still wavered, although they felt inwardly some mysterious emotion. But by their participating in the breaking of the bread, immediately their eyes were opened, and their hearts were ready to burst with joy. The voice of Jesus had not sufficed to reveal His presence to them. They had to feel His Heart; they had to be fed with the Bread of understanding!

Second, this joy of spirit, this manifestation of Himself that Jesus gives us by Communion, awakens in us a hunger for God. This divine hunger draws us into the sweetness of His Heart, into the sanctuary of His Spirit. More by impression than by reason, it gives us knowledge of Him. It gives us a powerful attraction to the Eucharist and everything connected with it and enables us to enter with ease into Jesus Christ.

This ease, this attraction, mysterious to some extent, is the special grace of Communion. It is the spirit of kinship with God. From where, do you think, does that similarity of feeling, of acting, of morals in a family come, if not from family spirit, from family love, which unites all members in mutual affection? Such is the bond of earthly kinship.

Through Communion, we gain entrance into the love, into the Heart, of our Lord; we catch the spirit of His love, His own understanding, His own judgment. Is not the first grace of Communion, in fact, a grace of recollection that enables us to penetrate into Jesus Christ and commune intimately with Him? Yes, intimately. One who does not receive Communion knows, by faith, only the vesture, the outward appearance of our Lord. We can know Jesus Christ well only by receiving Him, just as we perceive the sweetness of honey only by tasting it. We can say, then, with a great saint, “I am more convinced of the truth of Jesus Christ, of His existence, of His perfections by a single Communion than I could be by all the reasoning in the world.”

Such is the brevity of this life that, if we had to arrive at the knowledge of truth in general, and of divine truth in particular, only by the proofs of reason, be well assured we would know very few truths. But it is God’s will that much of our knowledge should come by intuition. He has endowed us with an instinct by which, without the faculty of reason, we are able to distinguish good from evil, truth from falsehood. He has given us natural inclinations and antipathies. Thus, in our efforts to know our Lord, we first feel His goodness, and then we arrive at His other qualities, more by contemplation, by sight, and by instinct than by reason.

A great many people habitually make the mistake of talking too much in their thanksgiving after Communion, that highest of prayers. By overmuch speaking, they render their Communion ineffective.

Listen to our Lord a little after Communion. This is not the time to seek, but to enjoy. This is the time when God makes Himself known through Himself: “And they shall all be taught of God.” How does a mother teach her little child what endless love and tenderness she has for him? She is content to show by her devotion that she loves him. God does the same in Communion. Remember that one who does not receive Communion will never know the Heart of our Lord or the magnitude of His love. The heart makes itself known through itself alone; we must feel it beating.

Sometimes you have no experience of spiritual joy in Communion. Wait. Although the Sun is hidden, it is within you; you will feel it when you need to — be sure of that. What am I saying? Already you feel it! Are you not at peace? Are you not desirous of glorifying God more than ever? And what is that but the throbbing of the Heart of our Lord within you?

Lastly, the manifestation of our Lord in Communion makes His presence and His conversation indispensable to the soul. The soul that has known Jesus Christ and has enjoyed Him takes pleasure in nothing else. Creatures leave it cold and indifferent because it compares them with Him. God has left in the soul a need that no person, no creature, can ever satisfy.

Moreover, the soul feels a constant desire for Jesus and for His glory. Ever onward, without pausing to enjoy a moment’s rest: that is its motto. Its only longing is for Jesus, who leads it from clarity to clarity. Our Lord being inexhaustible, whoever receives Him can neither be sated nor exhaust Him, but desires only to plunge deeper and deeper into the abysses of His love.

Oh, come and enjoy our Lord often in Communion, if you wish truly to understand Him!

“Beware of abusing this privilege,” someone will say. Do the elect go to excess in their enjoyment of God? No! They never enjoy Him too much. Taste the Lord, and you will see. After you have received Communion, you will understand.

How sad that people will not believe us! They wish to judge of God only by faith. But taste first; afterward you shall judge. And if the incredulous would but prepare themselves to receive Jesus Christ worthily, they would understand sooner and better than by any amount of persuasion and reasoning. Besides, the ignorant person who receives well knows more about it than the savant, however learned, who does not go to Communion.

To summarize briefly, I say that the intelligence finds its supreme happiness in Communion and that, the more often one receives, the happier one is spiritually. God is the only source of happiness; happiness is in Him alone, and He has reserved the right to bestow it through Himself. And well it is for us that we must go to God Himself to find happiness! In this way, we do not devote ourselves to creatures or find in them our highest good. Happiness is not even in the bestowal of the priest. He gives you a share in the fruits of the Redemption, cleanses you from your sins, and gives you the peace of a clear conscience; but happiness and joy he cannot give you.

Mary herself, who is the Mother of Mercy, will lead you back to the right way and will appease the anger of her Son, whom you have offended; but God alone will give you joy and happiness. The angel said to the shepherds, “I bring you good tidings of great joy: He who is its cause and its source, your Savior and God, is born to you.”

Oh, come, let us rejoice! This Savior is still on the altar waiting to flood our hearts, upon His entrance therein, with as much joy and happiness as we are able to bear, in anticipation of the unspeakable and everlasting delights of the homeland of Heaven.”

Love & joy,
Matthew

Mary’s love

“Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour.” -Mt 25:13

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Mary, Mother of fair love, teach me the secret of steady growth in charity.

MEDITATION

We must not think that the Blessed Virgin Mary was excused from all personal activity and progress because she had been established from the beginning in a higher degree of sanctity than that which even the greatest saint could ever hope to attain. Quite the contrary! For her, as for us, life on earth was a “way” where progress in charity was always necessary; where personal correspondence with grace was expected. The excellence of our Lady’s merit consisted in her heroic fidelity to the immense gifts she had received. The privileges of her Immaculate Conception, of the state of sanctity in which she was born, and of her divine maternity were, unquestionably, pure gifts from God; still, far from accepting them passively, as a coffer receives the precious things put into it, she received them freely, as one capable of willingly adhering to the divine favors by means of a complete correspondence with grace. St. Thomas teaches that although Mary could not merit the Incarnation of the Word, by the grace she received she did merit that degree of sanctity which made her the worthy Mother of God (cf. Summa Theologica IIIa, q. 2, a. 11, ad. 3), and she merited this precisely because of her correspondence with grace. Hence, even in Mary, we can consider progress in sanctity, a progress which did not depend solely on the new abundance of graces which God gave her at certain special times in her life—at the moment of the Incarnation for example—but also on her personal activity, wholly informed by grace and charity, by means of which she brought to fruition the treasure entrusted to her by God. Mary, in the truest sense of the word, is the “faithful Virgin,” who knew how to increase a hundredfold the talents (Mt 25:14-30; Lk 19:12-28) she received from God. Yes, the greatest amount of grace ever given to a creature was freely bestowed on her by the divine liberality, in view of the sublime mission for which she was destined, but she corresponded to it with the greatest fidelity possible to a creature. Thus, there was plenitude of grace on God’s part, and complete fidelity on Mary’s, so that, as St. Alphonsus says, “Without ever stopping, her beautiful soul soared toward God, continually growing in love of Him.”

COLLOQUY

“O Mary, you understood the gift of God; you never lost a particle of it. You were so pure, so luminous, that you seemed to be light itself: Speculum justitiae, mirror of justice. Your life was so simple, so lost in God, that there is scarcely anything to say about it. Virgo fidelis: the faithful Virgin, ‘who kept all things in her heart’.” (Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity First Retreat (Heaven in Faith) 10).

O Mary, how marvelous to see your soul continually growing in love, to watch it scale the heights of sanctity without ever halting! Nothing retarded the divine action in you; no obstacle hindered the growth of charity. “Who is this that cometh up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her Beloved?” (Canticle of Canticles [Song of Songs] 8:5). It is you, O Mother, you who, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and sustained by Him, ever rose from grace to grace, from virtue to virtue. O Mother of fair love, full of grace, O faithful Virgin, help me to correspond with fidelity to the gifts of God! Do not permit that my misery render sterile the grace within me. Help me, O Mother, to overcome the innumerable resistances of my weak, cowardly nature; draw me by the sweet charm of your example, so that I may follow you with ardor in the way of perfect charity.

“O my Mother, you who were ever on fire with love for God, give me at least a spark of that love. You appealed to your Son on behalf of the bride and bridegroom whose wine gave out, saying: ‘vinum non habent,’ they have no wine; and will you not pray for me, lacking as I am in love for God, and yet owing Him so much? Say to Him: ‘amorem non habet,’ he has no love. And ask this love for me. No other grace do I ask of you but this one. O Mother, by your love for Jesus, hear me. Show me what great favor you have with Him by obtaining for me a divine light and a divine flame so powerful that it will transform me from a sinner into a saint, and, detaching me from every earthly affection, will inflame me wholly with divine love. O Mary, you have the power to do this. Do it for love of the God who made you so great, so powerful, and so merciful” (St. Alphonsus).

Love,
Matthew

Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila