Category Archives: November

Nov 2 – Novena for Holy Souls in Purgatory

-by St Alphonsus Liguori

On the First Day:

Jesus, my Savior I have so often deserved to be cast into hell how great would be my suffering if I were now cast away and obliged to think that I myself had caused my damnation. I thank Thee for the patience with which Thou hast endured me. My God, I love Thee above all things and I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee because Thou art infinite goodness. I will rather die than offend Thee again. Grant me the grace of perseverance. Have pity on me and at the same time on those Blessed Souls suffering in Purgatory. Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Second Day:

Woe to me, unhappy being, so many years have I already spent on earth and have earned naught but hell! I give Thee thanks, O Lord, for granting me time even now to atone for my sins. My good God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. Send me Thy assistance, that I may apply the time yet remaining to me for Thy love and service; have compassion on me, and, at the same time, on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Third Day:

My God! because Thou art infinite goodness, I love Thee above all things, and repent with my whole heart of my offenses against Thee. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me, and, at the same, on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. And thou, Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Fourth Day:

My God! because Thou art infinite goodness, I am sorry with my whole heart for having offended Thee. I promise to die rather than ever offend Thee more. Give me holy perseverance; have pity on me, and have pity on those Holy Souls that burn in the cleansing fire and love Thee with all their hearts. O Mary, Mother of God, assist them by thy powerful prayers.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Fifth Day:

Woe to me, unhappy being, if Thou, O Lord, hadst cast me into hell; for from that dungeon of eternal pain there is no deliverance. I love Thee above all things, O infinite God and I am sincerely sorry for having offended Thee again. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me, and, at the same time, on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Sixth Day:

My Divine Redeemer, Thou didst die for me on the Cross, and hast so often united Thyself with me in Holy Communion, and I have repaid Thee only with ingratitude. Now, however, I love Thee above all things, O supreme God; and I am more grieved at my offenses against Thee than at any other evil. I will rather die than offend Thee again. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me, and, at the same time, on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. Mary, Mother of God, come to their aid with thy powerful intercession.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Seventh Day:

God, Father of Mercy, satisfy this their ardent desire! Send them Thy holy Angel to announce to them that Thou, their Father, are now reconciled with them through the suffering and death of Jesus, and that the moment of their deliverance has arrived.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Eighth Day:

Oh my God! I also am one of these ungrateful beings, having received so much grace, and yet despised Thy love and deserved to be cast by Thee into hell. But Thy infinite goodness has spared me until now. Therefore, I now love Thee above all things, and I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. I will rather die than ever offend Thee. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me and, at the same time, on the Holy Souls suffering in Purgatory. Mary, Mother of God, come to their aid with thy powerful intercession.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

On the Ninth Day:

My God! How was it possible that I, for so many years, have borne tranquilly the separation from Thee and Thy holy grace! O infinite Goodness, how long-suffering hast Thou shown Thyself to me! Henceforth, I shall love Thee above all things. I am deeply sorry for having offended Thee; I promise rather to die than to again offend Thee. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance, and do not permit that I should ever again fall into sin. Have compassion on the Holy Souls in Purgatory. I pray Thee, moderate their sufferings; shorten the time of their misery; call them soon unto Thee in heaven, that they may behold Thee face to face, and forever love Thee. Mary, Mother of Mercy, come to their aid with thy powerful intercession, and pray for us also who are still in danger of eternal damnation.

Now pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and:

THE PRAYER TO OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY:
O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.
(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)
Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Nov 2 – Litany for Holy Souls in Purgatory


-please click on the image for greater detail

O Jesus, Thou suffered and died that all mankind might be saved and brought to eternal happiness. Hear our pleas for further mercy on the souls of:

My dear parents and grandparents, my Jesus mercy!
My brothers and sisters and other near relatives, my Jesus mercy!
My godparents and sponsors of confirmation, my Jesus mercy!
My spiritual and temporal benefactors, my Jesus mercy!
My friends and neighbors, my Jesus mercy!
All for whom love or duty bids me pray, my Jesus mercy!

Those who have offended me, my Jesus mercy!
Those who have suffered disadvantage or harm through me, my Jesus mercy!

Those who are especially beloved by Thee, my Jesus mercy!
Those whose release is near at hand, my Jesus mercy!
Those who desire most to be united to Thee, my Jesus mercy!

Those who endure the greatest sufferings, my Jesus mercy!
Those whose release is most remote, my Jesus mercy!
Those who are least remembered, my Jesus mercy!

Those who are most deserving on account of their services to the Church, my Jesus mercy!
The rich, who now are the most destitute, my Jesus mercy!
The mighty, who now are powerless, my Jesus mercy!
The once spiritually blind, who now see their folly, my Jesus mercy!
The frivolous, who spent their time in idleness, my Jesus mercy!
The poor, who did not seek the treasures of heaven, my Jesus mercy!
The tepid, who devoted little time to prayer, my Jesus mercy!
The indolent, who neglected to perform good works, my Jesus mercy!
Those of little faith, who neglected the frequent reception of the Sacraments, my Jesus mercy!
The habitual sinners, who owe their salvation to a miracle of grace, my Jesus mercy!
Parents who failed to watch over their children, my Jesus mercy!
Superiors who were not solicitous for the salvation of those entrusted to them, my Jesus mercy!
Those who strove for worldly riches and pleasures, my Jesus mercy!
The worldly-minded, who failed to use their wealth and talents in the service of God, my Jesus mercy!
Those who witnessed the death of others, but would not think of their own, my Jesus mercy!
Those who did not provide for the life hereafter, my Jesus mercy!
Those whose sentence is severe because of the great things entrusted to them, my Jesus mercy!

The popes, kings and rulers, my Jesus mercy!
The bishops and their counselors, my Jesus mercy!
My teachers and spiritual advisors, my Jesus mercy!
The deceased priests of this diocese, my Jesus mercy!
The priests and religious of the Catholic Church, my Jesus mercy!

The defenders of the holy faith, my Jesus mercy!
Those who died on the battlefield, my Jesus mercy!
Those who fought for their country, my Jesus mercy!
Those who were buried in the sea, my Jesus mercy!
Those who died of apoplexy, my Jesus mercy!
Those who died of heart attacks, my Jesus mercy!
Those who suffered and died of cancer, my Jesus mercy!
Those who died suddenly in accidents, my Jesus mercy!
Those who died without the last rites of the Church, my Jesus mercy!
Those who shall die within the next twenty-four hours, my Jesus mercy!
My own poor soul when I shall have to appear before Thy judgment seat, my Jesus mercy!

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them: For evermore with Thy saints, because Thou art gracious.

May the prayer of Thy suppliant people, we beseech Thee, O Lord, benefit the souls of Thy departed servants and handmaids: that Thou mayest both deliver them from all their sins, and make them to be partakers of Thy redemption. Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
And let the perpetual light shine upon them.
May their souls and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Nov 2 – All Souls

Yesterday, I started by watching a beloved elder die in front of me, through my volunteer work in hospice. How was your day? 🙂

From a book on the death of his brother Satyrus by Saint Ambrose, bishop

“We see that death is gain, life is loss. Paul says: For me life is Christ, and death a gain. What does “Christ” mean but to die in the body, and receive the breath of life? Let us then die with Christ, to live with Christ. We should have a daily familiarity with death, a daily desire for death. By this kind of detachment our soul must learn to free itself from the desires of the body. It must soar above earthly lusts to a place where they cannot come near, to hold it fast. It must take on the likeness of death, to avoid the punishment of death. The law of our fallen nature is at war with the law of our reason and subjects the law of reason to the law of error. What is the remedy? Who will set me free from this body of death? The grace of God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

We have a Doctor to heal us; let us use the remedy He prescribes. The remedy is the grace of Christ, the dead body our own. Let us then be exiles from our body, so as not to be exiles from Christ. Though we are still in the body, let us not give ourselves to the things of the body. We must not reject the natural rights of the body, but we must desire before all else the gifts of grace.

What more need be said? It was by the death of One man that the world was redeemed. Christ did not need to die if He did not want to, but He did not look on death as something to be despised, something to be avoided, and He could have found no better means to save us than by dying. Thus His death is life for all. We are sealed with the sign of His death; when we pray we preach His death; when we offer sacrifice we proclaim His death. His death is victory; His death is a sacred sign; each year His death is celebrated with solemnity by the whole world.

What more should we say about His death since we use this divine example to prove that it was death alone that won freedom from death, and death itself was its own redeemer? Death is then no cause for mourning, for it is the cause of mankind’s salvation. Death is not something to be avoided, for the Son of God did not think it beneath His dignity, nor did He seek to escape it.

Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning; He prescribed it as a remedy. Human life was condemned because of sin to unremitting labor and unbearable sorrow and so began to experience the burden of wretchedness. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing.

The soul has to turn away from the aimless paths of this life, from the defilement of an earthly body; it must reach out to those assemblies in heaven (though it is given only to the saints to be admitted to them) to sing the praises of God. We learn from Scripture how God’s praise is sung to the music of the harp: Great and wonderful are Your deeds, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Your ways, King of the nations. Who will not revere and glorify Your nature? You alone are holy; all nations will come and worship before You. The soul must also desire to witness Your nuptials, Jesus, and to see Your bride escorted from earthly to heavenly realities, as all rejoice and sing: All flesh will come before You. No longer will the bride be held in subjection to this passing world but will be made one with the spirit.

Above all else, holy David prayed that he might see and gaze on this: One thing I have asked of the Lord, this I shall pray for: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, and to see how gracious is the Lord.”

Love, with prayers for yours & mine dearly departed. We shall rejoice with them again!!! And death will be no more, forever.
Matthew

Nov 1 – Solemnity of All Saints

From a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot

Let us make haste to our brethren who are awaiting us.

“Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honors when their heavenly Father honors them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.

Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.

Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.

When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as He appeared to them and that we may one day share in His glory. Until then we see Him, not as He is, but as He became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; His purple robes are a mockery rather than an honor. When Christ comes again, His death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with Him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and His glorified members will shine in splendor with Him, when He forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to Himself, its head.

Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire. That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints. Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession.”

Love,
Matthew

Nov 8 – St Elizabeth of the Trinity, OCD, (1880-1906) – Religious, “Mystic of Dijon”, Religious Writer

The Church celebrates St. Elizabeth of the Trinity — canonized Oct. 16, 2016 — on her feast day of Nov. 8, often election day in the US. Her spiritual mission is to help us pass through the difficulties of our time with a certain greatness of soul. Feel me?

In her own words, “We must be mindful of how God is in us in the most intimate way and go about everything with Him. Then life is never banal. Even in ordinary tasks, because you do not live for these things, you will go beyond them.”

On Nov. 9, 1906, at the age of 26, she succumbed to the final stages of Addison’s disease, an adrenal disorder which, at the time, was incurable. Her death came amid great social uncertainty for the Church and her Carmelite community in Dijon, France. Earlier that spring, the French government turned against the Church, by advancing a more aggressive secularism. The local Church was already racked with scandal, the local bishop having been removed from office by the Holy See. The state was taking legal action to confiscate Church property and put the Carmelites in exile. Anxiety over social concerns affected daily life for many — except for, perhaps, St. Elizabeth, her Carmel and those to whom she wrote.

When everything seemed to be falling down around her, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity witnessed to the power of the presence of God to establish deep peace in souls. In every lucid moment before her death, even if it was just for a moment, she did everything she could to encourage those she loved. Whether in whispered conversations or responding to letters she received, her messages were tender and filled with compassion. She managed to write a retreat for her sister, a young mother, a second retreat for her Carmelite community and numerous letters.

In the midst of their own questions and concerns, Elizabeth helped her friends discover the mysterious and transforming ways God discloses himself even surrounded by distress. As she explained, “Everything is a sacrament that gives us God.”

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity first discovered the transforming power of God’s presence through her parents and first holy Communion. Hailing from a military family and the elder of two sisters, she was born and baptized at a military camp in 1880. Afterward, the family moved to Dijon, where she grew up and entered a Carmelite monastery.

Joseph Catez, her father, a self-made decorated officer and former POW, died in 1887, when Elizabeth was still a child, but left her with a desire for heaven. Her mother, Marie Rolland, had a profound conversion before her marriage and deeply influenced her husband’s piety.

As a widow with two young girls, Marie moved to an affordable part of town, a few blocks from the parish church of Saint-Michel and across the street from the Carmel that Elizabeth would someday join. Together with her sister, Marguerite, piano, prayer and pilgrimages were important parts of Elizabeth’s upbringing. Also important were vacations with friends and family.

Young Elizabeth had a fiery temper. In a special way, her parent’s faith helped her gain a degree of self-mastery, and this was especially true at her first Communion. Witnesses testified to a profound change after Mass. The mystery of Christ’s presence drew her to prayer. In St. Elizabeth’s own words, she was no longer hungry because “God has fed me.”

Her deep prayerfulness impressed the nuns of her community even before she entered. As a teenager, she self-identified with Teresa of Avila’s descriptions of the prayer of union. She was also among the first to read an early version of Therese of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul. After reading this work, she resolved to be a Carmelite nun even over the objections of her mother. She had come to see herself as a bride of Christ.

This devotion to Christ moved her to be very involved with her parish before she entered Carmel. She catechized troubled children, first by befriending them and then by teaching them how to draw close to God in prayer. In Dijon, she is honored as much for this work as she is for her spiritual writings.

According to one of the former pastors of Saint-Michel, some of the descendants of the young people that she instructed helped to build a private school now named after her.

In her final days, Addison’s disease had emaciated Elizabeth, rendering her unable to eat or drink except for a few drops of water. Difficult thoughts sometimes tormented her as her whole body burned with pain. Yet, throughout everything, she remained devoted to Christ crucified and was completely focused on others. She promised that it would increase her joy in heaven if her friends asked for her help. She was convinced that her mission would be to help souls get out of self-occupation and enter into deep silence in order to encounter the Lord in a transformative way. To this end, she advocated faith in “the all-loving God dwelling in our souls.”

Elizabeth regarded the Trinity as the furnace of an excessive love. When her prayer evokes “My God, My Three,” she invites us to take personal possession of the Trinity. The Trinity is, for her, an interpersonal and dynamic mystery: the Father beholding the Son in the fire of the Holy Spirit. She insisted that, in silent stillness before God, the loving gaze of the Father shines within our hearts until God contemplates the likeness of His Son in the soul. Through the creative action of the Holy Spirit, the more the soul accepts the Father’s gaze of love, the more it is transformed into the likeness of the Word made flesh.

Tradition calls this loving awareness and silent surrender to the gaze of the Father mental prayer or contemplation. Elizabeth roots this in adoration and recollection and advocates its fruitfulness. Through this prayer, we gain access to our true home, the dwelling place of love for which we are created — and this is not in some future moment, but already in the present moment of time, which Elizabeth calls “eternity begun and still in progress.”

Such prayer not only sets the soul apart and makes it holy, but it glorifies the Father and even extends the saving work of Christ in the world. She called this “the praise of Glory” and understood this to be her great vocation.

By canonizing Elizabeth of the Trinity, the Church has not only validated her mission, but re-proposed the importance of silent prayer for our time. While she was not engaged in politics, St. Elizabeth was certainly concerned for her friends who were immersed in it. There is power in her prayer. Her community was never evicted or exiled, but moved years later only because it outgrew its original location. The Carmel remains a place of spiritual refreshment to this day.

Through the witness of St. Elizabeth, the Carmelites and her friends chose to allow God to establish them “immovable” in His presence. No political or cultural power deserves an absolute claim over our existence. If we call on St. Elizabeth, the Church affirms that the “Mystic of Dijon” can also help us become “the Praise of Glory,” a sign of hope for others even in the midst of social rancor.

Love,
Matthew

Nov 30 – St Andrew, (d. 60-70 AD), 1st disciple, Apostle & Martyr, “Be a Man!!!”

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-by St Andrew by Artus Wolffort, first half of the 17th century, oil on canvas, private collection.

Andrew the Apostle (Greek: Ἀνδρέας, Andreas; from the early 1st century – mid to late 1st century AD), also known as Saint Andrew and called in the Orthodox tradition Prōtoklētos (Πρωτόκλητος) or the First-called, was a Christian Apostle and the brother of Saint Peter.

The name “Andrew” (Greek: manly, brave, from ἀνδρεία, Andreia, “manhood, valour”), like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews, Christians, and other Hellenized people of Judea. No Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him. According to Orthodox tradition, the apostolic successor to Saint Andrew is the Patriarch of Constantinople.

The New Testament states that Andrew was the younger brother of Simon Peter, and likewise a son of John, or Jonah. He was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Both he and his brother Peter were fishermen by trade, hence the tradition that Jesus called them to be His disciples by saying that he will make them “fishers of men” (Greek: ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων, halieis anthrōpōn). At the beginning of Jesus’ public life, they were said to have occupied the same house at Capernaum.

Acts/gospel of Andrew

The apocryphal Acts of Andrew, mentioned by Eusebius, Epiphanius and others, is among a disparate group of Acts of the Apostles that were traditionally attributed to Leucius Charinus. “These Acts (…) belong to the third century: ca. A.D. 260,”, and are therefore apocryphal, in the opinion of M. R. James, who edited them in 1924. The Acts, as well as a Gospel of St Andrew, appear among rejected books in the Decretum Gelasianum connected with the name of Pope Gelasius I (d. 496 AD).

After the Resurrection

After Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, St. Andrew the Apostle preached the gospel in Asia Minor and in Scythia as far as Kiev, all around the Black Sea, including Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus, where my paternal grandmother was born.

Saint Andrew was martyred by crucifixion at Patras in Achaea in Greece. Because St. Andrew deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross on which Christ had been crucified, he was tied, instead of nailed, to a Crux decussata, as saltire, or X shaped cross, ostensibly so that he would suffer longer. The Apostle Andrew did not die right away but instead he was left to suffer for two days while he continued to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ until he finally expired.

Relics

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-St Andrew’s Cathedral in Patras

Originally, the saint’s remains were preserved in Patras. Through the centuries of Christianity, and many wars and conquests, what remains of the saint’s relics are a small finger, the top of his cranium and pieces of the cross on which he was crucified. These are kept in a shrine at the Church of St. Andrew in Patras. Shortly after St Andrew’s death, most of his relics were translated from Patras to Constantinople by order of the Roman Emperor Constantius II around 357 AD and deposited in the Church of the Holy Apostles.

There are legends about how other relics of St Andrew reached the British isles, including a kneecap, an upper arm bone, three fingers and a tooth. Most likely, the relics were probably brought to Britain in 597 AD as part of the Augustine Mission, and then in 732 to Fife, Scotland by Bishop Acca of Hexham, a well-known collector of religious relics.

The skull of St. Andrew, which had been taken to Constantinople, was returned to Patras by Emperor Basil I, who ruled from 867 to 886.

In 1208, following the sack of Constantinople, those relics of St. Andrew and St. Peter which remained in the imperial city were taken to Amalfi, Italy, by Cardinal Peter of Capua, a native of Amalfi. A cathedral (Duomo), was built, dedicated to St. Andrew (as is the town itself), to house a tomb in its crypt where it is maintained that most of the relics of the apostle, including an occipital bone, remain.

Thomas Palaeologus was the youngest surviving son of Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos. Thomas ruled the province of Morea, the medieval name for the Peloponnese. In 1461, when the Ottomans crossed the Strait of Corinth, Palaeologus fled Patras for exile in Italy, bringing with him what was purported to be the skull of St. Andrew. He gave the head to Pope Pius II, who had it enshrined in one of the four central piers of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

In September 1964, Pope Paul VI, as a gesture of goodwill toward the Greek Orthodox Church, ordered that all of the relics of St. Andrew that were in Vatican City be sent back to Patras. Cardinal Augustin Bea along with many other cardinals presented the skull to Bishop Constantine of Patras on 24 September 1964.

The cross of St. Andrew was taken from Greece during the Crusades by the Duke of Burgundy. It was kept in the church of St. Victor in Marseilles until it returned to Patras on 19 January 1980. The cross of the apostle was presented to the Bishop of Patras Nicodemus by a Catholic delegation led by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray. All the relics, which consist of the small finger, the skull (part of the top of the cranium of Saint Andrew), and the cross on which he was martyred, have been kept in the Church of St. Andrew at Patras in a special shrine and are revered in a special ceremony every 30 November, his feast day.

In 2006, the Catholic Church, again through Cardinal Etchegaray, gave the Greek Orthodox Church another relic of St. Andrew.

Scotland?

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-Crucifixion of St. Andrew, by Juan Correa de Vivar (1540 – 1545), University of St Andrew’s Special Collection

In Scottish Gaelic, St Andrew’s name is rendered ‘Là Naomh Anndrais’. St Andrew’s links with Scotland come from the Pictish King Oengus I, who built a monastery in what is now the town of St Andrews – where the Scottish university now stands – after the relics of the saint were brought to the town in the eighth century.

But he was made the patron saint of Scotland after the king’s descendant, Oengus II, prayed to St. Andrew on the eve of a crucial battle against English warriors from Northumberland, around 20 miles east of Edinburgh.

Legend has it that, heavily outnumbered, Oengus II told St. Andrew that he would become the patron saint of Scotland if he were granted victory. On the day of the battle, clouds are said to have formed a saltire in the sky, and Oengus’s army of Picts and Scots were victorious.

St Andrew’s was a popular medieval pilgrimage site up until the 16th century – where the supposed remains of the saint including a tooth, kneecap, arm and finger bone were kept.

In 1870, the Archbishop of Amalfi sent an apparent piece of the saint’s shoulder blade to Scotland, where it has since been stored in St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh. The other relics were destroyed in the Scottish Reformation.

The Saltire flag – a white cross on a blue background – is said to have come from this divine intervention and has been used to represent Scotland since 1385.

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-Scotland’s saltire flag

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-statue of Andrew in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, Rome, by Camillo Rusconi.

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-by Br Irenaeus Dunleavy, OP

“In the face of gender theory and feminist ideologies which challenge the notion of manhood, the Church needs real men. We need to respond to the Biblical command viriliter agite found frequently in the Vulgate. The phrase translates as “act like a man” in one form or another in Scripture (1 Cor 16:13, Dt 31:6, Ps 30(31):25, 2 Chr 32:7, 1 Mac 2:64). One man who obeyed was St. Andrew, and his very name suggests it. St. Thomas Aquinas explains, “Andrew is interpreted ‘manly’; for as in Latin, ‘virilis‘ [“manly”] is derived from ‘vir’ [man], so in Greek, Andrew is derived from ανηρ [anēr: man]. Rightly is he called manly, who left all and followed Christ, and manfully persevered in His commands.”

Commenting on St. Andrew, St. Thomas gives us 5 tips on how to viriliter agite.

Obey Promptly: “Aristotle states, ‘Those who are moved by God do not need to be counselled; for they have a principle surpassing counsel and understanding.’ St. Chrysostom pronounces the following eulogium of them: ‘They were in the midst of their business; but, at His bidding, they made no delay, they did not return home saying: let us consult our friends, but, leaving all things, they followed, Him, as Elisha followed Elijah.’ Christ requires of us a similar unhesitating and instant obedience.”

Build Up: “And so Andrew, being now perfectly converted, does not keep the treasure he found to himself, but hurries and quickly runs to his brother to share with him the good things he has received. And so, the first thing Andrew did was to look for his brother Simon, so that they might be related in both blood and faith: “A brother that is helped by his brother is like a strong city” (Prv 18:19); ‘Let him who hears say, ‘Come’ (Rv 22:17).”

Hunt Souls: “This gives us the situation of the disciples he called: for they were from Bethsaida. And this is appropriate to this mystery. For ‘Bethsaida’ means ‘house of hunters,’ to show the attitude of Philip, Peter and Andrew at that time, and because it was fitting to call, from the house of hunters, hunters who were to capture souls for life: ‘I will send my hunters’ (Jer 16:16).”

Preach with Courage: “Every preacher should have those names, ‘Peter’ and ‘Andrew.’ For ‘Simon’ means obedient, ‘Peter’ means comprehending, and ‘Andrew’ means courage. For a preacher should be obedient, that he might invite others to it: ‘The obedient man shall speak of victories’ (Pr 21:28). He should comprehend, that he may know how to instruct others: ‘I had rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others’ (1 Cor 14:19). He should be courageous in order to face threats: ‘I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall’ (Jer 1:18); ‘I have made your face hard against their faces, and your forehead hard against their foreheads. Like adamant harder than flint I have made your face’ (Ez 3:8).”

Commit: “Our Lord declared that it belongs to the perfection of life that a man follow Him, not anyhow, but in such a way as not to turn back. Wherefore He says again (Lk. 9:62): ‘No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’ And though some of His disciples went back, yet when our Lord asked (Jn. 6:68, 69), ‘Will you also go away?’ Peter answered for the others: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?’ Hence Augustine says (De Consensu Ev. ii, 17) that ‘as Matthew and Mark relate, Peter and Andrew followed Him after drawing their boats on to the beach, not as though they purposed to return, but as following Him at His command.’ Now this unwavering following of Christ is made fast by a vow: wherefore a vow is requisite for religious perfection.”

Love & courage,
Matthew

Nov 3 – St Martin de Porres, OP, (1579-1639) – Wood of Salvation

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-statuary of St Martin de Porres, OP, Mexico City Cathedral

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-by Br Martin Davis, OP, Br Martin was born in Georgia, attended college in Michigan, and there converted to the Catholic faith.

“Saint Martin de Porres is often seen in statues, stained glass, and pictures holding a broom and a crucifix, with a Rosary around his neck and animals at his feet. His fellow friars knew of the deep devotion he had to the Rosary, similar to his fellow cooperator brother, friend, and contemporary Saint Juan Macias. The animals depicted next to Saint Martin relate to the many stories of his communication with and compassion toward animals. The broom and crucifix represent, respectively, his practical work around the priory and his devotion to Jesus Christ crucified. By the wood of both the broom and the cross, Saint Martin sought to conform himself to Christ and achieve union with God.

Saint Martin de Porres was born in 1579 as the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a freed slave. He grew up in poverty, but when his father officially recognized him as his son, he was trained as a barber-surgeon. He faced a great deal of ridicule for being of mixed race, but Saint Martin was known for his patience in the face of insults. Because the law of Peru at the time banned Saint Martin from becoming a full member of a religious order on account of his race, he humbly accepted a lay position helping out at a Dominican priory.

Later he was offered the habit as a cooperator brother despite the law against doing so and despite his initial refusal due to humility. As a Dominican friar he attended to the sick within the infirmary of the priory. His superiors also placed him in charge of distributing alms to the poor. Despite his many responsibilities, he found a great deal of time to spend in prayer, sometimes with some divine assistance in the form of bilocation. After many years of service, Saint Martin died at the age of 59 on November 3, 1639.

While the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden looked very appealing to the eyes of Adam and Eve, the cross of Jesus Christ, revealed as the true tree of life, does not appeal to us in the same immediate way. But Saint Martin knew that in a world with great poverty, illness, racial prejudice, and many other hardships, mankind could find something appealing, on a deeper level than the tree of knowledge, in the cross of Jesus Christ.

Cooperator brothers, like their priestly counterparts, make vows that consecrate them to God. Through God’s grace, Saint Martin perfected that consecration over his lifetime by embracing the wood of the broom and the wood of the cross.

Although early in life he wanted to go to a mission territory and die a glorious martyr’s death, he instead poured himself into prayer and penance to bring himself closer into the love of God. That divine love then poured over into his help of the poor and the sick. In light of this, the depictions of Saint Martin clutching the crucifix to his heart represents his conformity to Jesus Christ through prayer and penance, while the broom represents the service he offered that flowed from his union with God. Saint Martin’s hands were no strangers to the rough grain of the wood present in both these instruments. Saint Martin’s crucifix and broom were types of the tree of life, that is, the cross of Jesus Christ.

Saint Martin de Porres and Saint Catherine of Siena (whose feast is today – Apr 29) can also be taken together to form a bridge of solidarity between cooperator brothers and the apostolic sisters of the Dominican Order.

Both Saint Martin and Saint Catherine worked to help the poor and the sick. Both were also consulted by bishops. Saints Martin and Catherine, like the cooperator brothers and apostolic sisters of today, found their identity in religious consecration. They turned themselves over to prayer and penance to find union with God, and then shared that love with others in various ways.

Caring for the sick was a part of the life of Saint Martin and Saint Catherine, and that tradition continues to this day. For instance, Brother Ignatius Perkins and Brother Joe Trout, from, respectively, the Eastern and Central Provinces of Dominicans, are registered nurses that bring the love and mercy of Jesus Christ to the suffering. Through Saint Martin’s powerful intercession, we can pray that the love of God can continually spill over into all of our service to others for years to come.”

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Prayer to St Martin de Porres, OP

To you St Martin de Porres we prayerfully lift up our hearts filled with serene confidence and devotion. Mindful of your unbounded and helpful charity to all levels of society and also of your meekness and humility of heart, we offer our petitions to you. Pour out upon our families the precious gifts of your solicitous and generous intercession; show to the people of every race and every color the paths of unity and of justice; implore from our Father in heaven the coming of His kingdom, so that through mutual benevolence in God, men may increase the fruits of grace and merit the rewards of eternal life. Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Nov 3 – Bl Simon Ballachi, OP, (1250-1319) – Swords? Plowshares? WTF?

Bl Simon Ballachi

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares,

   and their spears into pruning hooks.” (Isaiah 2:4)

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-by Br Martin Davis, OP, Br Martin was born in Georgia, attended college in Michigan, and there converted to the Catholic faith.

“The prophet Isaiah predicts that the coming of Jesus Christ will usher in a time when the tools of war will be turned into tools for fruitful harvests. But when exactly will the coming of Christ that leads to this disarmament take place?

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux spoke of three comings of Christ: the incarnation, the coming of Christ at the end of the world, and the coming of Christ into the hearts of believers in the time in between. During the first coming of Christ, Jesus told us that to live by the sword would mean to die by the sword, and he told Peter to put away his sword in the garden of Gethsemane. At the end of the world, there indeed will be an end to warfare altogether. In the meantime, the coming of Christ into our hearts can help us to put away the sword of sin, guile, and malice.

An example of this that is both literal and spiritual is found in Blessed Simon Ballachi. Blessed Simon was born into nobility in 1250 in Rimini, a city on the Adriatic Sea in what is now Italy. His homeland was filled with fruitful farmland and orchards, benefited from a strategic trade position, and often experienced warfare involving mercenary armies. His family expected him to assume, upon an appropriate age and maturity, administrative responsibility for his family’s estates. From an early age, Blessed Simon was trained to serve in the military, and he would become a mercenary as a young man. But at the age of 27, he put away the sword and joined the Order of Preachers as a cooperator brother.

After joining the Order, Simon’s superiors gave him the task of tending to the garden. Simon spent long hours working in the garden, doing penance, and praying. After many years of humble service to his fellow friars, he had to retire from his physical work after losing his sight at the age of 57.

Although his physical eyesight failed, he received many spiritual visions late in life. Jesus, Mary, Dominic, Peter of Verona, and Catherine of Alexandria all came to speak with him directly. Blessed Simon peacefully passed on to his heavenly reward on November 3, 1319.

Blessed Simon literally put away the sword and took up the tools of the garden, but he also hammered the sword in his heart into a plowshare of charity. The tools of war, malice, and anger were turned into tools of peace and spiritual fruitfulness. Blessed Simon was known for praying fervently in the garden while working. He also wore the chains with which he used to bind prisoners as a penance for the sins he had committed as a mercenary. (I recently visited Sinsinawa, WI where I saw the penitential chain worn by Ven Samuel Mazuchelli, OP, the cause of a modern miracle in the cure of lung cancer in Robert Uselmann of Monona, WI in 2001, when he traveled the 75 miles to Sinsinawa to pray with Ven Fr Mazuchelli’s penitential chain, found on his body immediately after death.) From all of this he grew deeply in charity. Blessed Simon invited Jesus Christ to reshape the sword in his heart after he had given up the sword in his hand.

While most of us do not need to put the physical sword away to avoid the sins of pillaging and unjust war, we do have a need for Jesus to come into our hearts to replace the evils and malice there with charity. Blessed Simon is an eschatological sign in that he was transformed by the spiritual coming of Jesus into his heart ahead of the coming of Jesus at the end of the world.

Consecrated religious, such as the cooperator brothers of the Dominican Order, embrace God’s call to become an eschatological sign on earth in order to fulfill now, in a limited and spiritual way, what will be brought to complete perfection at the end of the world.”

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Simon , confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Simon

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Lauds:

Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Simon

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Prayer:

Let us Pray: O God, Who, among his other virtues, didst adorn Blessed Simon Thy Confessor, with constant diligence in prayer and a singular prerogative of humility, grant us so to imitate him that, despising all the things of the world, we may here seek Thee alone, and hereafter attain the rewards in heaven promised to the humble. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Love, and His peace, which surpasses all human understanding and expression,
Matthew

Nov 12 – Bl Br Oderic of Normandy, OP, (d. early 13th cent.) – 1st Cooperater Brother

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-by Br Thomas Martin Miller, OP (Br. Thomas Martin Miller was raised as a Lutheran in York County, PA by his parents Charles and Patricia and discovered the Catholic Church while attending Boston College.)

“It is fitting that this week of blog posts dedicated to the cooperator brother saints of the Order of Preachers (those not ordained priests) should begin on the feast of St. Mark, frequently considered the evangelist with the most workmanlike prose.

As St. Mark is oft-reputed the first of the evangelists and closely connected with Peter, it is further fitting that we should begin with the tale of Bl. Oderic of Normandy, the first cooperator brother of the Order and a man chosen by St. Dominic himself.

What we know of his life is brief: He probably met Dominic while on the armed crusade against the Albigensians parallel to St. Dominic’s spiritual mission. Dominic, perhaps inspired by the Cistercians who had been his preaching companions, decided to adopt their custom of sending lay brothers as prudent companions for traveling preachers. Oderic, inspired by the small band of men gathering around Dominic, but lacking the education needed for the priesthood, was chosen to be the first of these cooperators in the mission of the new Order.

In the summer of 1217, when Dominic dispersed the brethren to the great university cities of Europe, Bl. Oderic was sent to Paris with Matthew and Dominic’s own brother Mannes. Together they founded the convent of St. Jacques, where St. Thomas Aquinas would later study and teach, and on account of which the Order of Preachers is today known as “Jacobins” in French (not to be confused with the revolutionary radicals of 1789, who were so named because they met in the shadow of that famous convent).

Oderic’s task was to care for the material needs of the convent so that the clerical brothers could concentrate on study. Oderic performed his task with humble faithfulness. The brothers are called cooperators because they are integral parts of the preaching which is truly the work of the whole community, and they witness to the value of that preaching with their lives of obedience.

Dominic was frustrated in his plan to give all temporal cares of the Order to the lay brothers, but they nonetheless undertook most such necessities: there were many skilled tradesmen among them. Like the priests of the Order, the brothers could be dispensed from communal prayer when it was necessary to carry out these tasks. The primitive constitutions of the Order make clear that while priests and lay brothers were equally bound to prayer and penance after their own capacities and furthermore shared the vow of obedience, their distinctive gifts were to be respected: the priests were not to undertake any task that would unnecessarily remove them from preparation for preaching, while the brothers were not to engage in any activity that would distract them from the temporal tasks that made preaching concretely possible.

The care of the lay brothers was reciprocated by the clerics: St. Dominic found a loaf of bread for a famished brother in an act of miraculous mendicancy (Vitae Fratrum 2.8), and on the vigil of the first feast of St. Dominic after his beatification, a brother was healed by his intercession (VF 2.43).

The cooperator brothers have thus been full beneficiaries from the beginning of Dominic’s promise to be even more useful to the brethren after his death than he was in life. Bl. Oderic himself apparently profited in full by his apprenticeship to the Preacher of Grace and shouldered his burdens virtuously—not only with the ease of a journeyman and the joy befitting a preacher of the Good News, but also with a promptness that would please St. Mark, whose Gospel uses the word “immediately” over forty times.”

Love & cooperation,
Matthew

Nov 15 – Albertus Magnus

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-by Br Oliver James Keenan O.P., English Province

“St Albert is said to have been one of the last people to have known everything that was known in his day. That might be an exaggeration, but it’s certain that his interests and publications spanned every discipline of his time: from a best-selling work on rocks (de mineralibus), through to geometry, astronomy, friendship, law, love, language, not to mention extensive commentaries on the scriptures, it’s certainly fair to say Albert was universally learned.

Albert was one of the first to comment on virtually all of Aristotle’s works — then ’new learning’, freshly mediated in Latin translation — an endeavour that drew him into intellectual dialogue with Muslim scholars such as Avicenna and Averroes, as well as the Christian tradition in which he was firmly rooted. And whilst it was Albert’s student Thomas Aquinas that most successfully integrated Aristotle — navigating the challenges that Aristotelian thought posed to the Christian — with the traditional theology of Augustine, Albert’s efforts are by no means feeble, and Aquinas holds his teacher in evident esteem. Aquinas pre-deceased Albert in 1274. Albert, who was first to recognise Aquinas’s great gift to the Church, was moved to tears. Although we can’t be certain, he may well have travelled to Paris to defend his student’s teachings against charges of heresy (thankfully those allegations have long since been refuted).

Albert, however, was no mere commentator. He was a speculative thinker who predicted the contents of several of Aristotle’s lost (and now re-discovered) works with some accuracy. He corrected some of Aristotle’s thought and strengthened his arguments where he thought appropriated. Nor was he simply an ‘Aristotelian’: he rejected Aristotle’s thought when it seemed ludicrous, because Albert was, first and foremost, a Christian, a believer in the gospel. And it was not in-spite of his faith that Albert was a philosopher-scientist, but because of it: Albert somebody who sought to make sense of the world in faith, and as such he stands as an example of how scientific enquiry can be sanctified by the life of grace and virtue.

But as impressive as the breadth and depth of Albert’s voluminous intellectual works are, the most remarkable thing as far as I’m concerned is that he found time to write them at all. His life was neither dull nor quiet; he certainly cannot be accused of being an ivory tower academic. German born, he had already begun his university education in the so-called liberal arts at an Italian school, where he met the Blessed Jordan of Saxony, successor to St Dominic as Master of the Order. Although some (relatively late) sources recount a meeting between the Blessed Virgin Mary and Albert, it’s clear that Jordan’s example and preaching played a key role in attracting Albert the Order. And once he had joined, Albert’s life was notably busy: years of formation and study were followed by heavy burdens of pastoral care and teaching (he was 43 when appointed to a Professorship at Paris), as well as administrative duties and, eventually, appointment as a Bishop in his native land. As Bishop, a role he seems never to have particularly relished, he was nicknamed the “tied-shoe” because he maintained the Friars’ practice of travelling everywhere on foot, refusing the use of a horse. He was, by all accounts, assiduous in his duties as bishop, particularly noted for his austere lifestyle and attentiveness to the needs of the poor, he radically curbed spending in the diocese and committed himself, as any good Dominican, to preaching the gospel. Though he retained some episcopal priveliges for life (he was particularly keen to keep his personal library, something I have no trouble identifying with), it was with some relief that Albert put aside the duties of his Bishopric and returned to the life of a brother.

But it was on the long journeys of his apostolic life as an itinerant friar and bishop that Albert’s research interests as a natural scientist seem to have flourished. He trudged around with an enquiring mind. He thought that the earth must be spherical, since he observed that the first thing of a ship to emerge over the horizon of the ocean is the tip of its mast. Safely on dry land, he collected specimens of wildlife that he encountered, becoming one of the first in the West to categorise the natural order according to a taxonomy of species and genus. Having heard (and disbelieved) the rumour, from Aristotle’s work on animals, that ostriches ate metals and were particularly fond of the precious varieties, he carried a lump of iron with him to test out the theory. Eventually his suspicion was proved correct: the ostriches he encountered refused the metal and seemed confused by the bishop’s actions. One may have tried to bite him. But this was no reductive experimental science. For Albert the whole world could be seen as one unity under the creator God, and the quest to penetrate its mysteries more deeply was not an indulgence of curiositas, but a loving communion with the God who bestows on us the faculty of intellect and the desire for truth. All things, then, were, for Albert, subordinate to God’s knowledge, revealed in Christ, as is evident from his great works of mystical theology, in which he ascends beyond the knowledge of all created things to be encountered by the creator, to know God and love him, who has first known and loved us into existence.

The centuries may not have been kind to Albert’s intellectual legacy: although widely respected, he is undeservedly neglected by many undergraduate philosophical curricula today. But unlike many of his medieval contemporaries, we retain a good sense of his personality and the brothers still smile fondly at the memory of his holy eccentricities. We only once read of a Prior having to curtail Albert’s experimental practices. In Cologne he was exploring the effects of alcohol on cold-blooded creatures and fed some of the brothers’ beer to a snake. Unfortunately, although amusingly, the snake escaped as was found disorientated and fractious in the cloister, much to the consternation of the graver fathers. Albert having already observed man’s apparently natural aversion to serpents — and I think I can sense a wry smile at this point — notes that the snake went floppy when under the influence. Perhaps wisely, the Prior of the day intervened to the keep the peace, and it seems Albert was advised not to allow anything else to escape from his growing menagerie.

With God’s help and some prayers, I hope I can imitate Albert’s cheerful fidelity to the Lord and his faithful unrelenting obedience to his superiors, though I feel no need to repeat this particular experiment, nor do I feel my vocation lies in experimental science. (Albert wouldn’t mind this — in his more abstract philosophy he argued it was reasonable to believe such things on testimony). But it is a joy to be one of Albert’s brothers, to belong an Order that, in 800 years of grace, has seen so many characters, not to mention drunken snakes and more. Somehow, in the mystery of providence, we are each of us called to write our own line, to make our own unique contribution, but when in God’s good time the story of the Order of Preachers comes to be concluded, few lines will be as sparkling and fondly remembered as Albert’s.”

Love,
Matthew