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ECCLESIA CURRICULUM VITAE

SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS:

Church Ministry Experience:

1989-1990  Novice, Order of Preachers, Eastern Province, St Gertrude Priory Parish, Cincinnati, OH

1989-1990  Youth Minister, St Augustine Parish, Elkridge, MD

1991-1993  Catechist, High School, St Peter & Paul’s Parish, Naperville, IL

2002-2004  Youth Minister, Holy Family Parish, Inverness, IL

2004-2006  Catechist, Holy Family Parish, Inverness, IL

2003-2004  Sponsor/Table Leader, RCIA, Old St Patrick’s Church, Chicago, IL

2006-2007  Volunteer DRE, Holy Family Parish, Chicago, IL

2004-2007  Leader, Stations of the Cross, RCIA Retreat, USML, Mundelein, IL

2001-2010  Beloved Retreat Community & Facilitator/Leader, Old St Patrick’s Church, Chicago, IL

2006-2008  Pre-Cana Facilitator Couple – Family Ministries Office. Archdiocese of Chicago

2013-2014   Independent Sales Associate, Lighthouse Catholic Media

Oct 2016  SNAP Gathering, St Paul, MN of adult survivors of sexual abuse by clergy; a weekend of healing and friendship in the search for “normalcy” again after childhood sexual trauma.

2014-Present  St Vincent dePaul Food Pantry, Madison, WI.  Volunteer in preparing foods and shopping environment.  Act as host for clients tabulating points along shopping trip and customer service.

2015-Present  WI Fathers for Families & Children, monthly dinner out meeting emotionally supporting recently divorced fathers suffering through the family court system and trying to maintain healthy relationships and environments for their children.

Certifications:

2007       Coordinator of Youth Ministry/Religious Education, Archdiocese of Chicago OFCYM, need practicum

2014       Catechist, Core & Advanced, Diocese of Madison

Academic:

2007-2010  Certificate in Catechetical Leadership, University of St Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, IL (Courses completed: Church History, Sacramental Theology, Christology. Old Testament, New Testament, Spirituality, Moral Theology, Ecclesiology)

2009-2012  Classes in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Origin of the Bible, Church History – St John Cantius, Chicago, IL

July 2013  St John Bosco Conference, Steubenville, OH (Theology of the Body, History & Mission of the Church, Philosophy 101 for Catechists, Pastoral Issues in RCIA, Understanding the College Culture, Salesian Preventative System, New Media Tools for Ministry, The Internet & the New Evangelization)

2013-2014  Diocese of Madison Catechist Certification )Sacred Scripture, Creed, Sacraments, Christian Morality, Christian Prayer, Evangelization, Catechesis)

2015-Present  various online graduate level theology and philosophy courses offered by Dominican Institute, Avila Institute, and New St Thomas Institute.

Jun 2016-Present  SSM Health St Mary’s Care Center, Madison, WI, vigil  team volunteers spending time with residents who are “actively dying” in their last hours and days when family members cannot be present.

Jan 2017-Present Volunteer for Agrace Hospice on their vigil team for the actively dying and visiting alzheimers & dementia patients for social interaction. Most are non-responsive.

Formation:

2004       Archdiocese of Chicago, Basic Catechetical Leadership Formation – Modules 1-3 of 3

2007       Archdiocese of Chicago,  Anti-racism Training

2007       Archdiocese of Chicago, Theological Intensive, Mundelein, IL – Evangelization, Catechesis & Culture

2008       ND Vision CYM – University of Notre Dame Summer Conference for Campus & Youth Ministers

2008 &  Ignatian Retreat, Bellarmine House, Barrington, IL
2014

2009       Archdiocese of Chicago, Symposium on Adolescent Catechesis

2009       Archdiocese of Chicago, Annual Youth Minister Conference – Technology & Media

2014      Theology of the Body for Middle School & Teens, 2 days, Ascension Press, St Charles RC Parish, Hartland, WI

Compliance w/USCCB “Charter for the Protection of Children & Young People”:

2004       Criminal Background Check – Holy Family Parish, Inverness, IL

2004       Criminal Background Check – IL DCFS

2004       Application/Interviews – Holy Family Parish, Inverness, IL

2004 & 2013      VIRTUS Training – Holy Family Parish, Inverness, IL & St Albert the Great Parish, Sun Prairie, WI

2004       Archdiocese of Chicago, Signed, “Code of Conduct” for Employees & Volunteers

2009       Archdiocese of Chicago, Mandatory Reporter Training – USML, Mundelein, IL

Organizations:

2004-2011 Coordinator, Rosary-in-the-City (monthly rosary group of Gens X & Y, 150+ on distribution, 10-30 avg per mtg.)

2007-2011 Voice of the Faithful – Northwest Chicagoland Chapter

2007-Now  Monthly Contributor & Supporter, SNAP

2010  SNAP Conference, Chicago, IL
& 2014

2013-Present  Lay Dominican, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Madison, WI

Sep 26 – St Marie-Victoire Therese Couderc, r.c., (1805-1885), Foundress of the Congregation of Our Lady of the Retreat of the Cenacle

marie_therese_couderc_001

“God always gives more than we ask.”  -Saint Marie-Victoire Therese Couderc

I have been on retreat more than once at The Cenacle in Lincoln Park in Chicago, www.cenaclesisters.org/chicago/.  Of course my first question, as would almost anyone’s would be, “What’s a cenacle?”

The Cenacle, from Latin “cenaculum”, also known as the “Upper Room”, is the site of The Last Supper. The word is a derivative of the Latin word “cena”, which means “dinner”.  In Christian tradition, based on Acts 1:13(& 14), “When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”

The “Upper Room” was not only the site of the Last Supper (i.e. the
Cenacle), but also the usual place where the Apostles stayed in Jerusalem, sometimes thought of as the first Christian church.  Thus the Cenacle is considered the site where many other events described in the New Testament took place, such as:

  • the Washing of the Feet by the Lord of the Apostles
  • some Resurrection appearances of Jesus
  • the gathering of the disciples after the Ascension of Jesus
  • the election of Saint Matthias as apostle
  • the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost

Not a bad place for a retreat? Huh?  🙂

Marie-Victoire Couderc was born in 1805 in Le Mas (Ardèche),
France. She made her novitiate with the Sisters of St. Regis in Lalouvesc (Ardèche) in 1825, taking the religious name Therese.

Concerned with welfare of female pilgrims visiting the shrine of St. John Francis Regis, SJ, in town, she co-founded the Sisters of the Cenacle with Father Jean-Pierre Etienne Terme in 1826.  It was a response to the disruption and reawakening of the practice of the Faith in France due to the Revolution

St Therese became the Congregation’s founder Superior in 1828, and when the Mother House was established, its Superior General until 1838.  The retreats increased rapidly and plans were made to build a new chapel and a new convent. But, after completion, the promised funding evaporated.  The bishop of Viviers too quickly lost his trust in Therese, reinforcing Mother Therese’s own humble but mistaken conviction that she was to blame for the debacle.  At last, she resigned her office of superior. She was thirty-three years old, having guided her sisters for the first ten years of the congregation’s existence.

Her successor, chosen by the Jesuit provincial, was Mademoiselle Gallet, a wealthy widow only 20 years old, who had been a novice for only 15 days, having entered on September 24, 1838, who hardly knew the first thing about being a nun, put the convent through a terrible trial.  She made the rules more lax, Mother Therese had always insisted on silence and evangelical poverty, and borrowed money to buy beautiful things for the convent.  Many nuns and outsiders were shocked at this new turn of events, but Our Lady was watching out for the little community.

When mademoiselle died later that year, she left her fortune to the
congregation.  However, her relatives contested her will, and the
Cenacle’s financial situation was once more thrown into disarray.  The Bishop of Viviers named Countess de la Villeurnoy the new Superior general.  Soon, she even began to call herself “mother founder.”

The community of nuns as well as outside friends blamed Mother Thérèse for the whole affair. Rumors began to circulate. “They say that Therese is incompetent and has no business ability whatsoever. How can we count on her to raise funds for the congregation if she is going to fail like this?  And her health is reported to be failing badly; perhaps she is no longer capable of governing. It is possible that she has mental problems.”

“It seems that no one can govern this congregation,” he began. “You
yourself resigned your office in disgrace, and this Countess has led you all to the brink of disaster. Now it falls to me to pick up the pieces.
Tell me: should I assign a new superior? Would it help this congregation function better?”

Mother Therese remained silent for a moment. “Fr Renault,” she said
carefully, “You know that I am a professed religious, and that I have taken a vow of obedience to my superiors for life. To me, that obedience means that I must respect every action of my superiors, whether it appeals to me or not. God has placed Mother de la Villeurnoy in a position of authority over me; you seek testimony which I cannot give nor do I wish to give.”

The provincial was dumbfounded. “But this woman calls herself the founder!  She has stolen the respect that is rightfully yours!” he burst out.

“Perhaps,” Mother Therese said quietly. “But more important than any title is the vow which I have made to my Creator and Redeemer.”

Nevertheless, the provincial did not need her testimony; there was more than enough evidence against the Countess. After causing eleven months of havoc, the Countess was removed from office.

Mother Contenet, her replacement, eager to attract members of the higher social classes for the congregation, expelled ten of the original twelve members of the congregation. Convinced of the ineptitude of the true founder, she did everything in her power to keep Mother Therese away from the other sisters. Therese was exiled from her chosen work of giving retreats to spend thirteen years at the most difficult manual labor in the congregation, working in the gardens and the cellar. Conditions were so poor that her eyesight was permanently impaired. Her food was only the worst of the vegetables and the unwanted remnants of black bread which the gardener threw alongside the convent wall.

Mother Therese dropped into increasing obscurity. “After all,” she
reflected, “the religious life is a sufficiently great grace even though one purchase it at the price of the most difficult of sacrifices.” Despite the great mortification of her state, she told the young religious that “We should never allow even one thought of sadness to enter the soul. Have we not within us Him who is the joy of Heaven!”

Mother Therese’s exile ended with the death of Mother Contenet in 1852, but dissension and instability once more returned to the Cenacle. Mother Anaïs was elected the new superior general, but left the congregation three years later. Not until 1856 did Therese return to an active role in the congregation.

During a time of crisis, Mother Therese was sent briefly to serve as temporary superior of the convent in Paris and then at Tournon, where her governance was remembered for its firmness but genuine goodness. Again, however, she disappeared into the background.

One day, while visiting one of the convents of the Religious of the
Cenacle, Cardinal Lavigerie noticed Mother Therese praying in the chapel.  He turned to the superior of the house and asked, “Anyone can see how holy the face of this sister is. What is her name?”

“Sister Therese Couderc,” was the reply.

“She seems such a saint,” he mused. “What is her place in the history of the congregation?”

The superior was embarrassed. “Well, she was in charge of the gardens for many years, and she was sent to be a temporary superior at two houses in the 1850’s. Now she just mostly prays in the chapel, and we let her alone.”

Cardinal Lavigerie looked at her sharply. “She has been left out, hasn’t she?” The superior said nothing.

Her reputation had been by now so thoroughly maligned by her superiors that even her status as founder had been completely forgotten. Her work as founder had been, above all, her prayers, penances, and humiliation. It was only towards the end of her life, when the bishop of Viviers launched an inquiry into the circumstances of the foundation, that Mother Therese Couderc was finally recognized as the founder of the Sisters of the Cenacle.  Fra Angelico’s “The Mocking of Christ” comes to mind.

Mother Thérèse spent many years at the convent in Fourvière, being in charge of the manual labour.  She describes some of these trying times…..“We gathered up pieces of black bread which a man used to throw beside the convent wall.  At night and early morning we had only one lamp in the hall to give us light to dress by and we had very poor light to work by at recreation.”

Therese told the younger nuns, “Great trials make great souls
and fit them for the great things which God wishes to do through them…Let us say bravely and confidently: God is sufficient for me!…We should never allow even one thought of sadness to enter the soul, because we have within us, Jesus, the Joy of Heaven!”

In 1864, God made Therese understand that souls would not do enough prayer and penance.  She wanted to save souls and she firmly believed in self-surrender.  Mother Thérèse said, “There is sweetness and peace when one gives himself totally to God, and by doing this, the soul finds Heaven on earth!”

Mother Thérèse spent the last ten years of her life in much suffering of body and soul.  In 1875, she offered herself to Our Lord as a victim soul.  Day after day, but especially on Thursdays and Fridays, she shared Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.  She would stay in the chapel near the altar and weep for hours on end, saying over and over, “Have pity on me Dear Lord, have pity on me!”

Her sufferings increased and by 1885, Mother Thérèse had to stay in her.  In her pains she suffered patiently and suffered with great peace of. It is reported by a contemporary biographer, Mother Therese stated that the Poor Souls in Purgatory would often come to visit her and they would sing with great love and humility, the “Te Deum.”  On September 26, 1885, Mother Thérèse died, closing her eyes to this world.  Like a number of founders and foundresses, she later was honored for her sanctity. She died in Lyon at age 80 and is buried in Lalouvesc.

———————-

The modern day sisters of the the Cenacle, 1500 members in sixteen countries, possess a compelling love for Jesus Christ and try to find the best means of making Him better known and loved through their ministry of spiritual direction, personal, private, Ignatian, and directed retreats, particularly in the retreat centers they administer.  By membership in their Congregation they give their word to God and each other to continue their search to live the Gospel in the society of today.  Not a bad promise to make, IMHO.

During your retreat, you may request a Cenacle sister as a spiritual companion.  The Irish have the expression Kelly and I have inscribed on the inside of our wedding rings, “Anam Cara”=”soul friend”.  A Cenacle sister, if requested, may, as a trained and experienced spiritual companion, support you in:

  • Exploring the “desires of your heart” by talking about your life and your relationship with God.
  • Encouraging you in your prayer.
    Becoming aware of God’s action in the events of your life and your inner journey.
  • Reverencing and savoring your experience of God.
  • Listening to the deepest desires of your heart.
  • Trusting in the Holy Spirit to help you find within yourself the answers to your deep questions.
  • Discerning a direction for your life that is in harmony with God’s dream for you.

For me, prayer is like breathing.  I absolutely need it.  I depend on upon it.  Nothing works without it.  It must be first.  It has become more intense with time and graces received.  To rest, completely.  To be refreshed, wonderfully.  Relationships are very important, we all realize, especially that One.  Why should its deepening be any different than our deepening with others, in time spent together, speaking tenderly, lovingly with one another?  With Him?

———————-

“I have just one desire, that God be glorified.”
-Saint Marie Victoire Therese Couderc

“My heart embraces the whole world.”
-Saint Marie Victoire Therese Couderc

“Let me live by love, let me die of love, and let my last heartbeat be an act of the most perfect love.”
-Saint Marie Victoire Therese Couderc

“All places are alike to me, because everywhere I expect to find God, who is the only object of all my desires.”
-Saint Marie Victoire Therese Couderc

“What does it matter if my feet, bare and torn, fill my wooden shoes with blood? I would willingly begin the journey all over again, for I have indeed found the good God!”
-Saint Marie Victoire Therese Couderc

“I abandon myself with my whole heart to God’s will, and to God’s good pleasure — and when I have in all sincerity made this act of
self-surrender, I experience great tranquility and perfect peace.”  –Saint Marie Victoire Therese Couderc

“I could say, with you, that my heart doesn’t age in this matter of loving others…. We know well we have the same heart we had earlier; it always knows how to love God first and then others in [God]….”  –Saint Marie Victoire Therese Couderc

“I saw written as in letters of gold this word Goodness, which I repeated for a long while with an indescribable sweetness. I saw it, I say, written on all creatures, animate and inanimate, rational or not, all bore this name of goodness. I saw it even on the chair I was using as a kneeler. I understood then that all that these creatures have of good and all the services and helps that we receive from each of them is a blessing that we owe to the goodness of our God, who has communicated to them something of his infinite goodness, so that we may meet it in every thing and everywhere.”  -Saint Marie Victoire Therese Couderc

“I was preparing to begin my meditation, when I heard the pealing of the church bells calling the faithful to attend the divine Mysteries. At that moment the desire came over me to unite myself with all the Masses which were being said, and to that end I directed my intention so that I might participate in them.

Then I had an overall view of the whole Catholic world and a multitude of altars upon which at one and the same time the adorable Victim was being immolated. The blood of the Lamb without stain was flowing abundantly over every one of these altars, which seemed to be surrounded by a light cloud of smoke ascending toward heaven.  My soul was seized and penetrated with a feeling of love and gratitude on beholding this most abundant satisfaction that Our Lord was offering for us.

But I was also greatly astonished that the whole world was not sanctified by it. I asked how it could be that the sacrifice of the Cross having been offered only once was sufficient to redeem all souls, while now being renewed so often it was not sufficient to sanctify them all.

This is the answer I thought I heard: The sacrifice is without any doubt sufficient by itself, and the Blood of Jesus Christ more than sufficient for the sanctification of a million worlds, but souls fail to correspond, they are not generous enough. Now the great means by which one may enter into the path of perfection and of holiness is to SURRENDER ONESELF to our good God.

But what does it mean to SURRENDER ONESELF?

I understand the full extent of the expression TO SURRENDER ONESELF, but I cannot explain it. I only know that it is very vast, that it embraces both the present and the future.

TO SURRENDER ONESELF is more than to devote oneself, more than to give oneself, it is even something more than to abandon oneself to God. In a word, to SURRENDER ONESELF is to die to everything and to self, to be no longer concerned with self except to keep it continually turned toward God.

TO SURRENDER ONESELF is, moreover, no longer to seek oneself in anything, either for the spiritual or the physical, that is to say, no longer to seek one’s own satisfaction, but solely the divine good pleasure.

It should be added that to SURRENDER ONESELF is also to follow that spirit of detachment which clings to nothing, neither to persons nor to things, neither to time nor to place. It means to adhere to everything, to accept everything, to submit to everything.

But perhaps you will think that this is very difficult to do. Do not let yourself be deceived. There is nothing so easy to do, nothing so sweet to put into practice. The whole thing consists in making a generous act once and for all, saying with all the sincerity of your soul: “My God, I wish to be entirely thine; deign to accept my offering.” And all is said. But from then on, you must take care to keep yourself in this disposition of soul and not to shrink from any of the little sacrifices which can help you advance in virtue. You must always remember that you have SURRENDERED yourself.

I pray to our Lord to give an understanding of this word to all souls desirous of pleasing him and to inspire them to take advantage of so easy a means of sanctification. Oh! If people could just understand ahead of time the sweetness and peace that are savored when nothing is held back from the good God! How he communicates himself to the one who seeks him sincerely and has known how to SURRENDER herself. Let them experience it and they will see that here is found the true happiness they are vainly seeking elsewhere.

The SURRENDERED soul has found paradise on earth, since she enjoys that sweet peace which is part of the happiness of the elect.”  –To Surrender Oneself, by Saint Marie Victoire Therese Couderc, 26 June 1864

“Not my will be done, but God’s.  That is my favorite prayer which I mean to pray every day as long as there is breath left in me, because it is the one which gives me and leaves me with the greatest peace of soul.”
-letter to Mother Marie Aimee Lautier, 16 Oct 1881

“Surrender myself, that is all I did during this retreat – the good God did all rest.”
-letter to Mother de Larochenegly, 13 Feb 1864

“I abandon myself sincerely to God’s will and good pleasure, and when I have sincerely made this act of abandonment, I am calm and I experience a great peace.”
-letter to Mother de Larochnegly, 25 Nov 1875

I learned the necessary interchangeability of the words “Christian faith” and “surrender to Him” many years ago, in prayer.  Not easy, just necessary, required.  There is no other way to peace.

Prayer for the intercession of St Therese Couderc

O Good God
We rejoice with St Therese Couderc
To find your goodness all around us
And to know that you desire only good for us.
In your great love,
Grant us the favor we ask
And the grace to receive
With your servant Therese
The gift of Christ-like surrender to God.
Amen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTRFUFpV6J4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-V-rqnyZxI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieluPY8H6oY

cenacle

-the Cenacle in Jerusalem

Love,
Matthew

Sep 17- St Hildegard von Bingen, OSB, (1098-1179), Doctor of the Church

Museum - Hildegard von Bingen

Saint Hildegard of Bingen, O.S.B. (German: Hildegard von Bingen; Latin: Hildegardis Bingensis) (1098 – 17 September 1179), also known as Saint Hildegard, and “Sibyl of the Rhine”, was a German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath. Elected a magistra by her fellow nuns in 1136, she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg in 1150 and Eibingen in 1165. One of her works as a composer, the Ordo Virtutum, is an early example of liturgical drama and arguably the oldest surviving morality play.  She wrote theological, botanical and medicinal texts, as well as letters, liturgical songs, and poems, while supervising brilliant miniature Illuminations.

On 10 May 2012, Pope Benedict XVI extended the liturgical cult of St. Hildegard to the universal Church, in a process known as “equivalent canonization”.  On 27 May 2012, the Pope announced that, on 7 October 2012, he will declare St. Hildegard to be the 35th Doctor of the Church.

Hildegard’s date of birth is uncertain. It has been concluded that she may have been born in the year 1098. Hildegard was raised in a family of free nobles. She was her parents’ tenth child, sickly from birth. In her “Vita”, or brief biography often written for saints, Hildegard explains that from a very young age she had experienced visions.

Perhaps due to Hildegard’s visions, or as a method of political positioning, Hildegard’s parents, Hildebert and Mechthilde, offered her as an oblate to the church; their “tithe” to the Church. The date of Hildegard’s enclosure in the church is contentious. Her Vita tells us she was enclosed with an older nun, Jutta, at the age of eight. However, Jutta’s enclosure date is known to be in 1112, at which time Hildegard would have been fourteen. Some scholars speculate that Hildegard was placed in the care of Jutta, the daughter of Count Stephan II of Sponheim, at the age of eight, before the two women were enclosed together six years later.  There is no written record of the twenty-four years of Hildegard’s life that she was in the convent together with Jutta. It is possible that Hildegard could have been a chantress and a worker in the herbarium and infirmary.

In any case, Hildegard and Jutta were enclosed at Disibodenberg in the Palatinate Forest in what is now Germany. Jutta was also a visionary and thus attracted many followers who came to visit her at the enclosure. Hildegard also tells us that Jutta taught her to read and write, but that she was unlearned and therefore incapable of teaching Hildegard Biblical interpretation.  Hildegard and Jutta most likely prayed, meditated, read scriptures such as the psalter, and did some sort of handwork during the hours of the Divine Office. This also might have been a time when Hildegard learned how to play the ten-stringed psaltery. Volmar, a frequent visitor, may have taught Hildegard simple psalm notation. The time she studied music could also have been the beginning of the compositions she would later create.  Upon Jutta’s death in 1136, Hildegard was unanimously elected as “magistra” of the community by her fellow nuns.

With regard to her visions, Hildegard says that she first saw “The Shade of the Living Light” at the age of three, and by the age of five she began to understand that she was experiencing visions. She used the term ‘visio’ to this feature of her experience, and recognized that it was a gift that she could not explain to others. Hildegard explained that she saw all things in the light of God through the five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.  Hildegard was hesitant to share her visions, confiding only to Jutta, who in turn told Volmar, Hildegard’s tutor and, later, secretary.

Throughout her life, she continued to have many visions, and in 1141, at the age of 42, Hildegard received a vision she believed to be an instruction from God, to “write down that which you see and hear.” Still hesitant to record her visions, Hildegard became physically ill. The illustrations recorded in the book of “Scivias” were visions that Hildegard experienced, causing her great suffering and tribulations. In her first theological text, “Scivias” (“Know the Ways”), Hildegard describes her struggle within:

“But I, though I saw and heard these things, refused to write for a long time through doubt and bad opinion and the diversity of human words, not with stubbornness but in the exercise of humility, until, laid low by the scourge of God, I fell upon a bed of sickness; then, compelled at last by many illnesses, and by the witness of a certain noble maiden of good conduct [the nun Richardis von Stade] and of that man whom I had secretly sought and found, as mentioned above, I set my hand to the writing. While I was doing it, I sensed, as I mentioned before, the deep profundity of scriptural exposition; and, raising myself from illness by the strength I received, I brought this work to a close – though just barely – in ten years…And I spoke and wrote these things not by the invention of my heart or that of any other person, but as by the secret mysteries of God I heard and received them in the heavenly places. And again I heard a voice from Heaven saying to me, ‘Cry out therefore, and write thus’

Hildegard’s Vita was begun by Godfrey of Disibodenberg under Hildegard’s supervision. It was between November 1147 and February 1148 at the synod in Trier that Pope Eugenus heard about Hildegard’s writings. It was from this that she received Papal approval to document her visions as revelations from the Holy Spirit giving her instant credence.

Before Hildegard’s death, a problem arose with the clergy of Mainz. A man buried at the convent in Rupertsburg had died after excommunication from the Church.  Hildegard saw to it the man had received the last rites. But, the clergy wanted to remove his body from the sacred ground. Hildegard did not accept this idea, replying that it was a sin and that the man had been reconciled to the Church at the time of his death.  She claimed she’d received word from God allowing the burial. But her ecclesiastical superiors intervened, and ordered the body exhumed. Hildegard defied the authorities by hiding the grave, and the authorities excommunicated the entire convent community. Most insultingly to Hildegard, the interdict prohibited the community from singing. She complied with the interdict, avoiding singing and communion, but did not comply with the command to exhume the corpse. Hildegard appealed the decision to yet higher Church authorities, and finally had the interdict lifted.

On 17 September 1179, when Hildegard died, her sisters claimed they saw two streams of light appear in the skies and cross over the room where she was dying.

Hildegard’s musical, literary, and scientific writings are housed primarily in two manuscripts: the Dendermonde manuscript and the Riesenkodex. The Dendermonde manuscript was copied under Hildegard’s supervision at Rupertsberg, while the Riesencodex was copied in the century after Hildegard’s death.

Attention in recent decades to women of the medieval Church has led to a great deal of popular interest in Hildegard, particularly her music. In addition to the Ordo Virtutum, sixty-nine musical compositions, each with its own original poetic text, survive, and at least four other texts are known, though their musical notation has been lost.  This is one of the largest repertoires among medieval composers. Hildegard also wrote nearly 400 letters to correspondents ranging from Popes to Emperors to abbots and abbesses; two volumes of material on natural medicine and cures; an invented language called the Lingua ignota; various minor works, including a gospel commentary and two works of hagiography; and three great volumes of visionary theology: Scivias, Liber vitae meritorum (“Book of Life’s Merits” or “Book of the Rewards of Life”), and Liber divinorum operum (“Book of Divine Works”).

In December 2010, BXVI quoted a long passage from one of Hildegard’s visions to assess the damage done to the church by the sex abuse scandal, and to invite the Vatican hierarchy to accept this “humiliation” as an “an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal”.

“In the vision of St. Hildegard, the face of the church is stained with dust. … Her garment is torn — by the sins of priests. The way she saw and expressed it is the way we have experienced it this year,” the Pope said.

A few months earlier, he had referred to Hildegard to address calls for reform inside the Church, sparked by the “abuses of the clergy.” Benedict recalled how the saint had “harshly reprimanded” those who in her lifetime wanted “radical reform,” reminding them that “true renewal” comes from “repentance” and “conversion, rather than with a change of structures.”

In Hildegard’s lifetime, Pope Eugenius III, who needed help fending off the Cathar heresy that rejected the Church’s worldly power, recognized the authenticity of her visions and authorized her to preach in public — something that Church doctrine had officially forbidden until that time and that nonetheless remains controversial in Catholicism.  Hildegard used her unprecedented role to publicly rebuke the emperor and to call on the Pope and bishops to reform the Church’s ills.

In 2006, Benedict XVI himself drew on Hildegard to expound his thinking on women’s role in the Church: not as priests but as bearers of a “spiritual power” that enables them to, yes, even “criticize the bishops.”

In space, she is commemorated by the asteroid 898 Hildegard.

“Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honor. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God.” – St Hildegard of Bingen

O leafy branch,
standing in your nobility
as the dawn breaks forth:
now rejoice and be glad
and deign to set us frail ones
free from evil habits
and stretch forth your hand
and lift us up.

-St Hildegard von Bingen

O ruby blood
which flowed from on high
where divinity touched.

You are a flower
that the winter
of the serpent’s breath
can never injure.

-St Hildegard von Bingen

O Shepherd of souls
and o first voice
through whom all creation was summoned,
now to you,
to you may it give pleasure and dignity
to liberate us
from our miseries and languishing.

-St Hildegard von Bingen

O eternal Lord,
it is pleasing to you
to burn in that same fire of love,
like that from which our bodies are born,
and from which you begot your Son
in the first dawn before all of Creation.

So consider this need which falls upon us,
and relieve us of it for the sake of your Son
and lead us in joyous prosperity

-St Hildegard von Bingen

O Great Father we are in great need;
Now therefore we implore, we implore you
Through your Word, by which you have
Filled us with [those things] we need;
Now it may please you Father for it befits you
To consider us with your help,
So that we might not fail and lest your name
Might be blackened in us
And through your name, deign to help us.

-St Hildegard von Bingen

“You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God.” -St. Hildegard of Bingen

Prayer for the intercession of St Hildegard von Bingen:

O God, by Whose grace Thy servant Hildegard, enkindled with the fire of Thy love, became a burning and shining light in Thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before Thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

In 2009, Zeigeist Films released “Vision”, a film on the life of St Hildegard von Bingen:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0995850/

Love,
Matthew

Sep 13 – St John Chrysostom, (347-407 AD), Archbishop of Constantinople, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of Preachers, The Real Presence

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Quick! Name your favorite top ten living great Catholic preachers! Five? One? I trust I make my point. St John Chrysostom was one. Called “Golden-mouthed=Chrysostom”.

For the unlettered and the lettered, one can always recognize holy persons in artwork by universally known symbols in the artwork associated with that personage – iconography. For instance, the artist may have no or there is no universally accepted knowledge of what a person looked like and even among artists across time and distance you will not get a consistent image of the likeness. But, a symbol, such as a honey bee, clearly indicates honey. Right? And when you see a honey bee associated with the image of a man in Catholic art you know they were most likely not canonized for their holy bee keeping skills, but rather the “sweetness of their preaching”, which St Gregory the Great would admonish us is the only proper way of winning hearts and minds for the Lord. One of St John Chrysostom’s identifiable symbols is being depicted in art with honey bees, such was the “sweetness of his preaching”.

The legion of saints of the Church is comprised of men of extraordinary ability whose talents may have been dissimilar but many of whom seem to have shared a common genius for oratory. Yet out of this vast assembly of eloquent speakers, whose reputation might have rested on their gift of expression alone, the one for whom the title “Chrysostom”, or “golden-mouthed” was reserved, was John of Antioch, known as St. John Chrysostom, a great distinction in view of the qualifications of so many others.

Endeared as one of the great doctors of the Church, St. John Chrysostom was born in 347 in Antioch, Syria and was prepared for a career in law under the renowned Libanius, who marveled at his pupil’s eloquence and foresaw a brilliant career for his pupil as statesman and lawgiver. But John decided, after he had been baptised at the age of 23, to abandon the law in favour of service to the Savior. He entered a monastery which served to educate him in preparation for his ordination as a priest in 386 AD. From the pulpit there emerged John, a preacher whose oratorical excellence gained him a reputation throughout the Christian world, a recognition which spurred him to even greater expression that found favour with everyone but the Empress Eudoxia, whom he saw fit to examine in some of his sermons.

When St. John was forty-nine years old, his immense popularity earned him election to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, a prestigious post from which he launched a crusade against excessiveness and extreme wealth which the Empress construed as a personal affront to her and her royal court. This also gave rise to sinister forces that envied his tremendous influence. His enemies found an instrument for his indictment when they discovered that he had harbored some pious monks who had been excommunicated by his archrival Theophilos, Bishop of Alexandria, who falsely accused John of treason and surreptitiously plotted his exile.

When it was discovered that the great St. John had been exiled by the puppets of the state, there arose such a clamour of protest, promising a real threat of civil disobedience, that not even the royal court dared to confront the angry multitudes and St John was restored to his post. At about this time he put a stop to a practice which was offensive to him, although none of his predecessors outwardly considered it disrespectful; this practice was applauding in church the absence of which some feel adds to the solemnity of Church services.

St. John delivered a sermon in which he deplored the adulation of a frenzied crowd at the unveiling of a public statue of the Empress Eudoxia. His sermon was grossly exaggerated by his enemies, and by the time it reached the ears of the Empress it resulted in his permanent exile from his beloved city of Constantinople. The humiliation of banishment did not deter the gallant, golden-mouthed St. John, who continued to communicate with the Church and wrote his precious prose until he died in the lonely reaches of Pontus on September 14, 407.

The slight, five-foot St. John stood tall in his defiance of state authority, bowing only to God and never yielding the high principles of Christianity to expediency or personal welfare. In the words of his pupil, Cassia of Marseilles, “It would be a great thing to attain his stature, but it would be difficult. Nevertheless, a following of him is lovely and magnificent.”

john-chrysostom

john_chrysostom

“When you perceive that God is chastening you, fly not to his enemies…but to his friends, the martyrs, the saints, those who were pleasing to Him, and who have great power in God.” – Saint John Chrysostom, Orations, 396.

“When you are before the altar where Christ reposes, you ought no longer to think that you are amongst men; but believe that there are troops of angels and archangels standing by you, and trembling with respect before the sovereign Master of Heaven and earth. Therefore, when you are in church, be there in silence, fear, and veneration.” – Saint John Chrysostom

“If the Lord should give you power to raise the dead, He would give much less than He does when he bestows suffering. By miracles you would make yourself debtor to Him, while by suffering He may become debtor to you. And even if sufferings had no other reward than being able to bear something for that God who loves you, is not this a great reward and a sufficient remuneration? Whoever loves, understands what I say.” – Saint John Chrysostom

“It is clear through unlearned men that the cross was persuasive; in fact, it persuaded the whole world. Paul had this in mind when he said, “The weakness of God is stronger than men.” That the preaching of these men was indeed divine is brought home to us in the same way. For how otherwise could twelve uneducated men, who lived on lakes and rivers and wastelands, get the idea for such an immense enterprise? How could men who perhaps had never been in a city or public square think of setting out to do battle with the whole world? That they were fearful, timid men, the evangelist makes clear; he did not reject the fact or try to hide their weaknesses. Indeed he turned these into a proof of the truth. What did he say of them? That when Christ was arrested, the others fled, despite all the miracles they had seen, while he who was leader of the others denied him! How then account for the fact that these men, who in Christ’s lifetime did not stand up to the attacks by the Jews, set forth to do battle with the whole world once Christ was dead – if, as you claim, Christ did not rise and speak to them and rouse their courage? It is evident, then, that if they had not seen him risen and had proof of his power, they would not have risked so much.” – from a homily by Saint John Chrysostom on the first letter to the Corinthians.

“O envious one, you injure yourself more than he whom you would injure, and the sword with which you wound will recoil and wound yourself. What harm did Cain do to Abel? Contrary to his intention he did him the greatest good, for he caused him to pass to a better and a blessed life, and he himself was plunged into an abyss of woe. In what did Esau injure Jacob? Did not his envy prevent him from being enriched in the place in which he lived; and, losing the inheritance and the blessing of his father, did he not die a miserable death? What harm did the brothers of Joseph do to Joseph, whose envy went so far as to wish to shed his blood? Were they not driven to the last extremity, and well-nigh perishing with hunger, whilst their brother reigned all through Egypt? It is ever thus; the more you envy your brother, the greater good you confer upon him. God, who sees all, takes the cause of the innocent in hand, and, irritated by the injury you inflict, deigns to raise up him whom you wish to lower, and will punish you to the full extent of your crime. If God usually punishes those who rejoice at the misfortunes of their enemies, how much more will He punish those who, excited by envy, seek to do an injury to those who have never injured them?” – Saint John Chrysostom.

“To commit a murder, besides the not having the person in your power, there are many measures and precautions to take. A favorable opportunity must be waited for, and a place must be selected before we can put so damnable a design into execution. More than this, the pistols may miss fire, blows may not be sufficient, and all wounds are not mortal. But to deprive a man of his reputation and honor, one word is sufficient. By finding out the most sensitive part of his honor, you may tarnish his reputation by telling it to all who know him, and easily take away his character for honor and integrity. To do this, however, no time is required, for scarcely have you complacently cherished the wish to calumniate him, than the sin is effected.” – Saint John Chrysostom.

“I beseech you, my brothers, to be ever on your guard against the habit of swearing and blaspheming. If a slave dare to pronounce the name of his master, he does it but seldom, and then only with respect; therefore is it not a shocking impiety to speak with contempt and irreverence of the name of the Master of angels and seraphim? People handle the book of the Gospel with a religious fear, and then only with clean hands, and yet your rash tongue would inconsiderately profane the name of the Divine Author of the Gospel. Would you wish to know with what respect, fear, and wonder the choirs of the angels pronounce the adorable name? Listen to the prophet Isaiah: ” I saw,” says Isaiah, “the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated; upon it stood the seraphim, who cried one to another and said, Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is full of His glory.” See with what terror they are seized, even while they praise and glorify Him. As for you, my brethren, you know how cold and indifferent are the prayers you say, and you know how frequently you blaspheme a name so majestic, so sacred, and how you try to make excuses for the bad habit you have contracted. It is easy, yes, I say, it is easy, with a little care, attention, and reflection, to leave off this vicious habit. Since we have fallen, my brethren, into this sin of blasphemy, I conjure you, in the name of our Lord, to rebuke openly these blasphemers. When you meet with such who publicly sin in this respect, correct them by word of mouth, and, if necessary, by your strong arm. Let these shameless swearers be covered with confusion. You could not employ your hand to a holier work. And if you are given into custody, go boldly before the magistrate, and say in your defense that you have avenged a blasphemy. For if a person is punished for speaking contemptuously of a prince, is it not reasonable to suppose that a person who speaks irreverently of God should be sentenced to a severer punishment? It is a public crime, a common injury which all the world ought to condemn. Let the Jews and infidels see that our magistrates are Christians, and that they will not allow those to go unpunished who insult and outrage their Master. Do you remember that it was a false oath that overturned the houses, temples, and walls of Jerusalem, and from a superb city it became a mass of ruins? Neither the sacred vessels nor the sanctuary could stay the vengeance of a God justly angered against a violater of His word. Sedecias did not receive a more favored treatment than Jerusalem. Flight did not save him from his enemies. This prince, escaping secretly, was pursued and taken by the Assyrians, who led him to their king. The king, after asking him the reason of his perfidy, not only caused his children to be killed, but deprived him of his sight, and sent him back to Babylon, loaded with iron chains. Would you know the reason why? It was that the barbarians and Jews who inhabited the country adjoining Persia should know, by this terrible example, that the breach of an oath is punishable.” – Saint John Chrysostom, from the Seventh Homily.

“If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived therefor. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. Let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.” -The Paschal (Easter) Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

O my all-merciful God and Lord, Jesus Christ, full of pity:
Through Your great love You came down
and became incarnate in order to save everyone.
O Savior, I ask You to save me by Your grace!
If You save anyone because of their works,
that would not be grace but only reward of duty,
but You are compassionate and full of mercy!
You said, O my Christ,
“Whoever believes in Me shall live and never die.”
If then, faith in You saves the lost, then save me,
O my God and Creator, for I believe.
Let faith and not my unworthy works be counted to me, O my God,
for You will find no works which could account me righteous.
O Lord, from now on let me love You as intensely as I have loved sin,
and work for You as hard as I once worked for the evil one.
I promise that I will work to do Your will,
my Lord and God, Jesus Christ, all the days of my life and forever more. -St John Chrysostom

Troparion to St. John (Tone 8)

“Grace like a flame shining forth from thy mouth has illumined the universe, and disclosed to the world treasures of poverty and shown us the height of humility. And as by thine own words thou teachest us, Father John Chrysostom, so intercede with the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls.”

“Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.” -St. John Chrysostom 

“All seek joy, but it is not found on earth.” -St. John Chrysostom

“Mercy imitates God and disappoints Satan.” -St. John Chrysostom

“God asks little, but He gives much.” –St. John Chrysostom

“What the soul is in the body, let Christians be in the world.” -St. John Chrysostom

“And though every day a man lives may rightly be a day of repentance, yet is it in these days more becoming, more appropriate, to confess our sins, to fast, and to give alms to the poor; since in these days you may wash clean the sins of the whole year.” -St. John Chrysostom

Prayer to Saint John Chrysostom

Dear Saint John, your oratorical gifts inspired thousands and earned you the name “golden-mouthed.” Continue to inspire Christians through your writings and grant us a rebirth of Christian preaching for the spiritual renewal of the Church. Obtain from God preachers like yourself who, animated by the Holy Spirit, deserve to be called other Christs and forcefully preach the Good News. Amen.

Love,
Matthew