Category Archives: January

St Thomas Aquinas – the will & the intellect


-detail The Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas, fresco in The Spanish Chapel, Santa Maria Novella, by Andrea di Bonaiuto (1365-1367), Florence, Italy, please click on the image for greater detail.


-by Fr. Christopher Pietraszko, Ignitum, Fr. Christopher serves in the Diocese of London, Ontario.

“Something that is often misunderstood about St. Thomas Aquinas’ philosophical psychology is his definition of the will and the intellect. Although he calls the will the “intellectual appetite” many are concerned that he is promoting a type of robotic approach to spirituality.

To put it simply, the “intellectual appetite” to Aquinas or the “will” is concerned with two things: to know and to love. From this vantage point we can summarize the spiritual life of any Christian. The intellectual appetite is not simply a machine that wants to know, but it wants to know God so that it can love God. Aquinas makes this point rather simply when he says we cannot love what we do not know, and therefore we seek to know God more, so that we can love Him more. This makes sense out of St. Thomas who leaned his head against the Tabernacle weeping because his mind was trying to grasp more about God but was coming up against great difficulty.

Now the will can be described in more ways than that it is free, according to Aquinas. The will itself has a voluntary and involuntary dimension to it. The involuntary dimension is that it is ordered towards God as the Supreme Good. Aristotle explained this as Happiness, which is nonetheless the same thing. In every practical choice we make it is tethered to this quest for happiness in God. What is the choice, is not that our will is ultimately oriented toward God, but that we can choose the means – be it making Money or Honour or Power or Pleasure or God – our means to that end. In this way we often make grave errors, and insult God by replacing the uncreated and Supreme Good with something corruptible, created, and base in contrast to God. The voluntary dimension therefore is always in reference to the means – the path we take on our journey toward happiness. For this reason Jesus reveals to us that He is the Way – and that we ought to enter through the narrow gate. He is speaking to a rightly ordered free-will, that disposes itself to Him, and all created goods to be considered prior to Him.

If we want peace, a first step may simply be in acknowledging that what we are is only going to find its perfect rest in God. Everything else will be eaten up by the moths.”

Love & truth,
Matthew

Jan 12 – St Tatiana of Rome (d. 226), Virgin & Martyr, “Armies of Angels” -Mt 26:53

The Holy Virgin Martyr Tatiana was born into an illustrious Roman family, and her father was elected consul three times. He was secretly a Christian and raised his daughter to be devoted to God and the Church. When she reached the age of maturity, Tatiana decided to remain a virgin, betrothing herself to Christ. Disdaining earthly riches, she sought instead the imperishable wealth of Heaven. She was made a deaconess in one of the Roman churches and served God in fasting and prayer, tending the sick and helping the needy.

Tatiana was the daughter of a civil servant who was secretly a Christian and privately brought her up in the Faith. However, being a deaconess and ministering to the poor and sick in that capacity attracted the attention of Ulpian, the jurist who effectively yielded power in Rome while the emperor, Alexander Severus, was underage.

Ulpian was considered one of the great legal minds of his age, an expert systematizer, codifier, and commentator of the law (about a third of Justinian’s Digest comes from him, including the first ever actuarial life table). He was known for making sagely remarks, like the descriptive phrase “juris praecepta sunt haec: honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere” (“the precepts of justice are: to live honestly, to not harm others, and to render each his due”).

Yet, for all this, he was also a rabid anti-Christian, who codified anti-Christian legislation to make it easier for judges to apply it against believers. Even the intelligentsia can be enemies of the Faith.

When Rome was ruled by the sixteen-year-old Alexander Severus (222-235), all power was concentrated in the hands of the regent Ulpian, an evil enemy and persecutor of Christians. Christian blood flowed like water. Tatiana was also arrested, and they brought her into the temple of Apollo to force her to offer sacrifice to the idol. The saint began praying, and suddenly there was an earthquake. The idol was smashed into pieces, and part of the temple collapsed and fell down on the pagan priests and many pagans. The demon inhabiting the idol fled screeching from that place. Those present saw its shadow flying through the air.

Then they tore holy virgin’s eyes out with hooks, but she bravely endured everything, praying for her tormentors that the Lord would open their spiritual eyes. And the Lord heard the prayer of His servant. The executioners saw four angels encircle the saint and beat her tormentors. A voice was heard from the heavens speaking to the holy virgin. Eight men believed in Christ and fell on their knees before Saint Tatiana, begging them to forgive them their sin against her. For confessing themselves Christians they were tortured and executed, receiving Baptism by blood.

The next day Saint Tatiana was brought before the wicked judge. Seeing her completely healed of all her wounds, they stripped her and beat her, and slashed her body with razors. A wondrous fragrance then filled the air. Then she was stretched out on the ground and beaten for so long that the servants had to be replaced several times. The torturers became exhausted and said that an invisible power was beating them with iron rods. Indeed, the angels warded off the blows directed at her and turned them upon the tormentors, causing nine of them to fall dead. They then threw the saint in prison, where she prayed all night and sang praises to the Lord with the angels.

A new morning began, and they took Saint Tatiana to the tribunal once more. The torturers beheld with astonishment that after such terrible torments she appeared completely healthy and even more radiant and beautiful than before. They began to urge her to offer sacrifice to the goddess Diana. The saint seemed agreeable, and they took her to the heathen temple. Saint Tatiana made the Sign of the Cross and began to pray. Suddenly, there was a crash of deafening thunder, and lightning struck the idol, the sacrificial offerings and the pagan priests.

Once again, the martyr was fiercely tortured. She was hung up and scraped with iron claws, and her breasts were cut off. That night, angels appeared to her in prison and healed her wounds as before. On the following day, they took Saint Tatiana to the circus and loosed a hungry lion on her. The beast did not harm the saint, but meekly licked her feet.

As they were taking the lion back to its cage, it killed one of the torturers. They threw Tatiana into a fire, but the fire did not harm the martyr. The pagans, thinking that she was a sorceress, cut her hair to take away her magical powers, then locked her up in the temple of Zeus.

On the third day, pagan priests came to the temple intending to offer sacrifice to Zeus. They beheld the idol on the floor, shattered to pieces, and the holy martyr Tatiana joyously praising the Lord Jesus Christ. The judge then condemned the valiant sufferer to be beheaded with a sword. Her father was also executed with her, because he had raised her to love Christ.  The meaning of her father being executed along with her is we should all ask God to bring people into our lives who will teach and model for us how to live the Faith. Maybe, like Tatiana, having those kinds of teachers will help us to become saints.

This isn’t to suggest that beheading “worked” where no other methods did, like beheading had some magic the other techniques didn’t. The point is that God was making it clear that His saints only lose their life because He chooses to let it happen. If He had wanted to, He could have had His angels break the sword the moment it touched her neck.


-please click on the image for greater detail

What all those dramatic interventions before she finally died were effectively saying was: “You can’t take My daughter’s life by force. Her life and death is in My hands, and, if she does die, it’s because I chose to take her, not because you have any power.” Just as Jesus had said, if God wants, He can send armies of angels to protect us — and He probably does this a lot more often than we realize. Such misfortunes as seem to befall us are only allowed because of His loving plan for us. In that way, a strange story like Tatiana’s is a kind of theodicy.

The Relics of Saint Tatiana in Craiova

The honorable head of the Holy Martyr Tatiana was first brought to Romania in 1204, when members of the ruling family (Asanestan dynasty) placed it in a church in Tarnovo (Bulgaria) and then in Bucovat Monastery (near Craiova). Later, however, in 1393, the head of the Saint was taken to a church in the town of Nicaea (where the First Ecumenical Synod met), and then to Constantinople, and placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles.

In 1453, after the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks, during the reign of Neagoe Basarab, the Craioveşti boyars brought the head of the holy Martyr Tatiana to Russia, as well as the entire body of Saint Gregory the Decapolite (November 20), which they placed in the church of Bistriţa Monastery. From that monastery, the relics of Saint Tatiana were taken by Saint Neagoe Basarab (September 15) and brought to the royal church at Curtea de Argeș. Later, with the reorganization of the Metropolitan Church of Oltenia (1950-1955), the honorable skull of Saint Tatiana was taken from Curtea de Argeș and brought to the Episcopal Cathedral of Râmnicu Vâlcea in 1955. Finally, the honored relics were permanently enshrined in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Craiova.

Today, the holy relics of Saint Tatiana are kept, with great honor, in the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Great Martyr Demetrios in Craiova, in the same reliquary with the relics of Saint Niphon of Constantinople (August 11), and the Holy Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus (October 7).

Troparion — Tone 4
Your lamb Tatiana, / calls out to You, O Jesus, in a loud voice: / “I love You, my Bridegroom, / and in seeking You, I endure suffering. / In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You, / and I died so that I might live with You. / Accept me as a pure sacrifice, / for I have offered myself in love.” / Through her prayers save our souls, since You are merciful.

Kontakion — Tone 4
In your sufferings you shone brightly / in the royal purple of your blood, / and like a beautiful dove you flew to heaven, / passion-bearer Tatiana. / Therefore, always pray for those who honor you.

The empress Elisabeth of Russia opened that nation’s first university in 1755 on Tatiana’s feast day, she is also the patron saint of students, and her feast day is commemorated as Students’ Day in Russia and her former colonies. So, if you’re trying to study and you feel like your eyes are failing you or you no longer wish to look upon your studies, you may want to ask Tatiana for her intercession.

Love,
Matthew

Jan 23 – Bl Henry Suso, OP (1295-1366), priest, mystic, poet, bundle of contradictions

(Source : Dorcy, Marie Jean. St. Dominic’s Family. Tan Books and Publishers, 1983)

“Henry Suso is a bundle of contradictions, and a person, moreover, who has gathered legends about him like a snowball rolling downhill. He was a poet, which is not always a key to happiness in this world; a mystic of the highest order; a hard working Dominican; and a man with a positive genius for getting into embarrassing situations. He has suffered at the hands of chroniclers who dislike his followers, or his tactics, or his poetry; he is all but canonized by those who see in him the Dominican mystic. It will require many years of exhaustive research to sort out the diverse elements in his personality, if, indeed, it can ever be accomplished. Poets are not easy to analyze, and Henry, before all else, was a poet.

Henry was born in Switzerland, in 1290, the son of a warlike family of counts and crusaders. His father said more than once that he wished Henry had been a girl and some of his spirited daughters had been boys; for Henry was not a type to carry a sword. Henry was a gentle, dreamy lad, who liked to accompany his mother on pilgrimages and read about heroic deeds. He had taken his mother’s name of Suso, perhaps out of sheer inability to live up to the warlike title of the Count von Berg.

After a number of unsuccessful attempts to make a soldier out of Henry, his father abandoned the task and sent him, when he was barely thirteen years old, to the Dominican convent near Lake Constance. At the convent, Henry found a happy life, one that he did not know existed. Like a starved child who has had no happiness before, he revelled in the companionship of friendly people and the beauty of community prayers. For five years it did not occur to him that there was anything more to religious life than the gay and irresponsible way he lived. This brief paradise came to an abrupt end when he was eighteen. He sat one day in chapel, restless and worried, because suddenly it had dawned upon him that he was not really getting anywhere, and without warning he fell into an ecstasy that lasted more than an hour. Arousing from the ecstasy, he was a different person, and a whole new life began.

First of all Henry looked with wide opened eyes on the lukewarm life he had been living. Considering his age, we would be inclined to suspect that it was not so much lukewarm as adolescent, but it appeared to him that he was a great sinner and should do great penance. The penance he performed for the next sixteen years became notorious, even in that age of extremes; an iron chain, and an undershirt studded with nails, were the most mentionable of the methods he used. At night, he tied his hands so that he could not slap at the mosquitoes that infested his room. Out of determination to overcome his natural taste for cleanliness, he bent over backwards in the opposite direction to torture himself into submission and to make himself ready for the grace of God, which he felt that he so little deserved. At the end of sixteen years, he was favored with another vision, telling him that the physical phase of his suffering was over, but to be prepared for mental torments.

While all this interior purification was being accomplished in his soul, Henry was busy about the ordinary work of a priest. He preached and taught and heard confessions, never absenting himself from apostolic work under the impression that pure contemplation would be better. Some of his travels got him into weird situations, and legends began building up around the strange young priest whose penances had already earned him the name of eccentric. Things happened to him that just never happened to other people.

One time ha was on a journey with a lay brother who was not very bright. While Henry was looking for lodgings in a strange village, the lay brother went into a tavern, and, with the help of some of its customers, rapidly got out of hand. In order to direct attention away from himself, he told the men they should go after the priest who was with him; he said that the Jews had hired Henry to poison their wells, and that he was now out investigating how it could be done. It was possibly only the lay brother’s heavy humor, but the townspeople did not think it was funny, and they went in pursuit of Henry. Seeing himself chased by men with clubs, Henry did what most people do he ran. He hid all night in a hedge, and the next day he had to get the lay brother out of jail.

He fell into rivers and almost drowned. He became innocently involved in family feuds and was nearly killed for interfering. People tried to poison him. As prior, he ran the house finances into such a snarl that no one could untangle them. As if he did not have enough trouble, one of his penitents at least he thought she was penitent decided to blackmail him, and told all over town that he was the father of her child. To clean up the ensuing scandal, he stood formal trial with his superiors, and was, of course, proved innocent but no one could stop the scandal which had by this time gone to the four winds.

As a last terrible trial, his own sister, who had gone into religion against her will, fell into serious sin and ran away from the monastery. The convent from which she had escaped was a relaxed and worldly place, but she was legally a fugitive. Henry got permission to go and look for her, and, after a long search, he found her repentant, penniless, and terrified in a tavern. He brought her to another monastery, where a strict rule was observed, and he stayed until she was firmly settled and living a good religious life. How any man could write poetry while trying to keep up with such events is hard to say, but some of the finest poetry in medieval German poured from the pen of this gifted man during the years when life was most difficult for him. His prose, too, was almost poetry perhaps this is why his writings have always been so popular with women.

We are indebted to the sisters whose consciences Henry directed for all that we know of his writing. They kept careful track of all of it and made copies to circulate among a discreet circle of friends. In fact, it is from this circumstance that the unhappy charges against Suso stem. Some of the sisters, making their personal copies, took down notes indiscriminately from Suso, Tauler, and Master Eckhart and it was practically impossible to untangle them. Only the persistent scholarship of Father Denifle, in the past century, has identified the writings of each of these men, and exonerated both Tauler and Suso of the charges that caused Eckhart to be censured.

The best known work of Henry Suso is his Little Book of Eternal Wisdom, which is a classic of spiritual writing. He also composed many other short treatises on the mystical union of the soul with God, all written with the same poetic language and the same intensity of feeling. The man who had carved “the lovely name of Jesus” into the flesh over his heart was just as intense in his spiritual life. He had an outstanding devotion to the Mother of God, which he expressed very beautifully.

Henry died in 1365, in Ulm, and was buried there in the convent of St. Paul. However, in spite of the fact that his body was found intact and giving forth a sweet odor two hundred and fifty years later, the beatification was delayed until 1831. The relics, meantime, had disappeared entirely and have never been recovered.”

Love,
Matthew

Jan 14 – Venerable Anne de Guigné (1911-1922) – Toddler Tyrant, Willpower & Prayer

My father had willpower and grace I will never understand, had six children, sold cars, sold real estate after interest rates during the Carter administration killed his automobile dealership,  56 yrs of marriage, put five boys through college, functional alcoholic, quit smoking and drinking by sheer will power and grace after forty years, drove himself to the hospital after the last, of many we believe, infarction strokes.  “Young man, get your ass to Mass!!!” at the beginning of the first year of college for me when such temptations due to freedom and its indiscipline cause 18-year-olds to flirt with disaster.

When St. Thomas Aquinas’s sister asked him how to become a Saint, he told her to just “will it.” Venerable Anne de Guigné was a child with an iron will and from the moment of her conversion, she willed only one thing…to be a Saint. “To become a Saint is to persist,” she said.

Anne de Guigné was born April 25, 1911 at Annecy-le-Vieux, Savoy, France, to a very happy family who named her Jeanne Marie Josephine Anne; she was Baptized the next day and came to be called Nenette. One day when there was company, Mother told Nenette to pass around a box of chocolates. After the children had all had their share, Mother placed the box high above Nenette’s reach and then went on visiting. But Nenette loved sweets and she wanted more candy. She quietly pulled her little table right below the chocolates and then just as quietly placed her little arm chair on the table. Without any noise she climbed up on the table and then on the chair. Just as she was reaching for the longed-for box, her chair scratched the table and all the grown-ups looked around. Mother made Nenette climb down quicker than she had climbed up, while she said to her, “Do you think little Jesus would have done that?”


-left front is Marie-Antoinette and next to her is Magdeleine. Back is Jacques and Anne, who is eight years old.

On Christmas the family always went to Grandfather’s house for the day. All the cousins came, too. Grandfather enjoyed giving each one of his grandchildren a beautiful gift. This year he had a pretty little arm chair for Nenette, a table for Renee, and many pretty toys for the others. When Nenette came into the room she saw the table at once. She did not care for the arm chair, but she wanted the table. Each little one was happy to receive his gift and thanked Grandfather, all except Nenette. She did not even look at the arm chair Grandfather handed her, but grabbed the table and started to pull it away from Renee. She pulled and Renee pulled. Mother had to come and tell her little Nenette how ashamed she was of her. Of course, Nenette had to give in again, but she pouted all day. When her little brother Jojo [Jacques] was born Nenette was jealous but eventually became ashamed that she was.


-Anne aged two and a half, 1913. “When very small, before the age of four, obedience was very difficult for her. She used to resist violently. From the time of her conversion, however, she started to control herself and achieved unquestioning obedience which cost her a great deal,” Madame de Guigné.

Venerable Anne de Guigné’s body remains incorrupt. She has been declared Venerable, her life recognized as exemplifying heroic virtue. In 1911, Anne de Guigné came into this world, followed within four years by a brother, JoJo, and two sisters, Lelaine and Marinette. Her army complete, Anne in charge, was indeed a demanding sergeant. A perfect example of this is seen in an incident with an older cousin when Anne was three. The two children came upon a high mound of sand, not to be climbed, which Anne took as a challenge. Her cousin, older and bigger than Anne, expressed his decision not to attempt it. Anne took charge: “I say you MUST. I’ll make you!” And with that, the tug of war commenced. The outcome remains unknown as an adult intervened and the little sergeant was vanquished.


-Anne with her father, Jacques


-Anne’s father, Jacques de Guigne’

Her parents were wealthy and prominent. Anne’s father was Count Jacques de Guigné, second lieutenant in the 13th Battalion, Chambéry of Chasseurs Alpins, a graduate of St. Cyr Military Academy and a second-lieutenant in the 13th Battalion of Alpine Chasseurs: family matters had caused him to leave the army, although he did return to his unit in 1914 at the beginning of the First World War. A devout Catholic with the zeal of an apostle, he studied Church history in view of his children’s education, and legal matters to better serve the causes he loved, managing this without depriving his family of his affection. A learned man, he was a lecturer, and a journalist as well as a husband and father; he founded and directed a Catholic youth group in his parish.

When Anne was 3 ½ the war broke out between France and Germany and her father, though retired, was sent to the front lines. A month later he returned home, severely injured. Anne, who loved her father immensely, took upon herself to look after him, fetching books and even arranging his cushions. Recovering from his wounds, Lieutenant de Guigné left again for the front lines only to return a few days later wounded worse than before. Despite not being healed sufficiently, Lieutenant de Guigné insisted upon returning to his men. In February, being seriously wounded, he was sent to a hospital in Lyons for an operation. Taking Anne with her, Madame de Guigné went to Lyons and pointed out the suffering soldiers to Anne, who was moved at the sight.

Anne’s mother was born Antoinette de Charette on September 19, 1886, the great-niece of François de Charette, the well-known general who led the soldiers of France in the Battle of Patay, beneath the banner of the Sacred Heart. Anne’s maternal grandmother Francoise Eulalie Marie Madeleine de Bourbon-Busset was a direct descendant of the sixth son of King Louis IX of France, Robert, Count of Clermont.

Born with a terrible temper and selfishness, Venerable Anne would often throw tantrums if she didn’t get her way, and would not share anything with others. But at the young age of four, she experienced a powerful grace. Her father, who was fighting in World War I, died on the front lines, and when the officer came to inform her mother of the death, Anne’s mother collapsed in tears. Anne asked how she could make it better, and the mother replied, “Your father is in heaven, but if you wish to comfort me, you must be good.”

Gazing long and thoughtfully into her Mother’s eyes, she realized that in order to please God she must be good and Anne resolved to be good and please her Mother. Her father’s death was the beginning of Anne’s conversion. All day long, Anne was thoughtful, trying to make the other children behave. “You must be good Jojo, because Mother is sad.” From this time on there was no more tempers, nor selfishness. This huge change did not come easy for Anne; though no one would have guessed the daily battle within herself she fought.


-Jacques, Magdeleine on the cushion, Anne, and Marie-Antoinette on Madame de Guigné’s lap, May 3rd, 1915. “From the age of four until her death, her striving for perfection never faltered. There was nothing spectacular, no amazing facts but everything she did was inspired by the Holy Ghost and she put all her love into it,” Madame de Guigné.

Her life was changed at that moment. As her mother later testified, “She changed through two things: willpower and prayer.” Anne’s conversion was immediate. She became the comfort of her mother, the apostle of the nursery, a model of obedience. At five, she was permitted to join the older children in the retreat to prepare for and receive First Communion, showing knowledge, understanding and great faith in the presence of our Lord in the Eucharist.

A month before her father was killed, Anne talked about preparing for her First Holy Communion, so in the autumn of 1915, Madame de Guigné enrolled Anne in the catechism class taught by Mother St. Raymond at the Auxiliatrice Convent. Mother St. Raymond perceived that Anne, though only 5 years old, was far advance than all the rest. “I soon saw that Anne was a very gifted child; but what struck me most was this: the others were never jealous of her, though she was cleverer than any of them and the youngest. Every one of them loved and admired her. I think it was because she never tried to ‘show off’ or get the better of anyone. Her manner was so sweet too. She was as nice with some rather spoiled children as with those who behaved well. Not only did I never hear her say an unkind word, but she never even teased the other children, and this must have meant considerable self-control, for she was naturally so quick and sharp. At first she had a little difficulty in learning by heart, so I told her to repeat in her own words all she had understood of the day’s lesson. It was about the Church, a difficult subject for a small child, and I did not expect much; but to my great surprise she had understood it all and repeated the whole lesson in astonishingly clear and precise words. It often seemed as if God must have taught her.”

Mother St. Raymond began to prepare Anne for her First Confession and was surprised that not only did Anne know her faults, but she had also carefully analyzed them, with gravity and precision. When asked if she was afraid of her First Confession, “Afraid of the priest! Why should I be? You said he would be acting as Our Lord!” Anne’s Confessor, Mother St. Raymond, and Madame de Guigné requested from the Bishop that Anne be allowed to make her First Holy Communion, but the Bishop, seeing that Anne was only 5, refused the request. After arguing the matter over, the Bishop finally agreed but only on the condition that she be put through a rigorous examination by the Superior of the Jesuits, who viewed the examination as a waste of his time. Everyone was apprehensive and nervous about the interview, except Anne, who want to receive Our Lord and was determined to change the Superior’s mind.

The learned Jesuit questioned Anne with a series of random questions and quickly became convinced that she was perfectly prepared. He became so interested in her that he prolonged the interview for some time, questioning her on all sorts of subjects and even probing Anne’s conscience.

“What is your chief fault?” he asked.

“Pride,” Anne promptly answered, “and disobedience too.”

Humility there, thought the priest, but he pretended to be very stern and told her that a little girl who wanted to receive Our Lord must obey at once. Then he quickly asked her: “When does Jesus obey?”

“At Mass,” Anne quickly responded.

“What words does He obey?”

“He obeys the priest when he says: ‘This is My Body, this is My Blood.’”

Finally the interview was over and both the Superior and Anne emerged, smiling, much to everyone’s great relief. “I wish you and I were as well prepared to receive Our Lord as this little girl is,” the Superior said. All obstacles being now removed, Anne joined the First Communicants’ retreat at the Convent. The theme being, “Obedience is the sanctity of children” which Anne took to heart and for her to know was to act, so it was done. From that time forth, she was practically perfect in obedience. “You must offer everything to our good Jesus. I want my heart to be as pure as a lily for Jesus,” Anne said.

When Anne made her First Holy Communion, it was March 26, 1917, a Monday in Passion Week and the feast of Our Lady’s Assumption, which had been transferred to the 26th since the 25th fell on Passion Sunday. Her First Communion resolution was: “I will give my sacrifices to Mary, so that She may give them to Jesus.” She was never known to refuse a sacrifice. That day, Anne wrote: “My Jesus, I love You and to please You, I resolve to obey You always.” Anne had a great devotion to Our Lady and Our Lady of Sorrows for her was “Our Lady of Consolation,” and this was the title she gave to a little statue in the garden, near where the children played. Here she would go to beg for help when the struggle for self-control became very hard.


-the statue in the garden in Le Réray that Anne called “Our Lady of Consolation.”


-Anne, almost nine. “I asked her ‘Do you love God?’ She answered me with such intensity in her eyes and her whole body: ‘Father, I love Him with all my heart and soul!’ I have never forgotten the ardour of the love that she radiated,” -Father Jacquemont.

One time when Anne was 4 years old, she was walking with her grandfather and they passed by a store of wheat. Her grandfather asked her: “Anne, do you know what is done with wheat?” Anne answered, “Tell me, Grandpa.”

“The farmer gathers the wheat and then grinds it and then makes flour for us. We use this flour to make bread and also to make the Hosts that the priest gives us at Mass. Do you know what the Hosts become?”

Anne responded, “Little Jesus comes and hides Himself in the white Hosts, which become Jesus.”

A priest asked Anne where the Holy Ghost dwelt specially. “In the souls of the just,” came the quick response. No one remembered teaching her that. “She listened eagerly to all I said,” Mother St. Raymond continues, “but she never tried to answer out of her turn, or in fact until she was questioned; but very often all heads would turn in her direction when nobody knew the lesson ― and they were not mistaken


-Anne, aged about six, with Magdeleine, Jacques and Rajah, the family dog


-Anne & Rajah

When Madeleine Bassett (Demoise as the children called her), the governess came in January 1916, she was surprised to hear how difficult Anne had been for the past 4 ½ years. Anne fussed over Demoise, so as to make her feel at home, even pointing to the flowers in the garden, telling Demoise that she can send a bouquet to her family back home in Cannes. One thing that the governess noticed was that Anne seemed wise beyond her years. “I was really charmed by the easy grace of her manner. One could not help loving her even then that inspired respect. She was very sensible too, and she had such a kind little heart.”


-Jacques, Magdeleine, the Governess Mlle Madeleine Basset, Anne and Marinette who must have moved. “It was she [Anne] who taught me what loving God meant. The secrets of her spiritual growth were prayer and willpower.” (Mademoiselle Basset)

Shortly before Anne’s conversion, Madeleine Bassett found Anne standing on a chair surveying her reflection in the mirror with some satisfaction. “I’m rather pretty, don’t you think so,” said the four-year-old. The governess replied that it was a waste of time to admire yourself since beauty is a gift of God and we should not be vain about it. Anne jumped down from the chair and never praised herself again.


-September, 1919


-Autumn, 1921

The next years of her young life, she gave all of her energy into controlling her temper and making sacrifices, two things that did not come naturally to her! But she could only do so because she began a rich relationship with Jesus. Everything she would suffer, she offered to the Lord with joy. Every action of hers, she sought to unite it with Jesus. She eventually conquered herself; or rather, God won the victory in her. When she died of meningitis at the age of 11, her cause for canonization was opened.


-last photo of Anne, a few weeks before her death

Anne’s apostolate didn’t stop with her three siblings, though they were the primary recipients. She was continually praying for the conversion of sinners, asking the Sisters to give her the name of a sinner to pray and sacrifice for, and she took this responsibility to heart. Her sacrifices were many ranging from the sacrifice of treats, (carefully done so as to avoid attention), extra prayers, accepting whatever came her way, whether it was agreeable or not and enduring the agonizing headaches from which she suffered for some time due to spinal pain, but still did her work in school.

On December 30th, Anne received Last Rites, as her condition became steadily worse. On New Year’s Day, she seemed to be feeling much better and Madame de Guigné had a Mass of Thanksgiving said. Gathering all her energy, Anne wished everyone a happy new year, but two days later the doctor told Madame de Guigné the terrible news. Anne’s chest muscles were paralyzed and for several days Anne would have attacks of suffocation that lasted for hours. For two weeks she suffered in this manner and on the night of January 13, Anne asked her Aunt, who was a nun, “Sister, may I go with the Angels?” “Yes, my dearest little child.” “Thank you, Sister. Oh thank you.” Soon Anne slipped into a coma and at 5:25 am, Saturday, January 14, 1922, Anne died peacefully, obediently, one last time looking at her mother.

In 1932, the Bishop of Annecy, opened the canonical investigation into Anne’s life. On October 30, 1933, the family vault was opened and the examination of the remains of Anne took place at de Guigné home. Her body was found to be perfectly preserved, with no signs of decay by the two doctors present. Two nuns decorated a new casket and Anne’s body was placed back in. Meanwhile 300 people had been waiting outside in the cold rain and icy wind for over an hour. All were finally allowed to come and file past Anne’s body, giving to two priests any article that they wished to have touched to Anne. The casket was placed inside another casket and locked again in the family vault. On March 3, 1990, Anne de Guigné was declared Venerable by Pope St John Paul II.

Though Anne wanted to become a Carmelite, her death from meningitis at the age of 10, cut short her time on earth, but she continues to answer prayers for the conversion of those who had turned away from God and she has also won many souls for her dear Jesus from heaven. Venerable Anne de Guigné, pray for us!

“My Jesus, I love You, and to please You, I resolve to obey You always.” -Venerable Anne de Guigné

Love,
Matthew

Jan 8 – Bl Titus Zeman, SDB, (1915-1969), Priest, Martyr, Victim of Slovakian Communists, Martyr for Vocations, Witness for Hope


-please click on the image for greater detail

Following His Vocation

The story of Fr. Titus Zeman is an excellent example of faithfulness to Don Bosco’s cause, especially through the zeal and love that he showed to save the vocations of young Salesians under the Communist regime of Czechoslovakia.

Fr. Titus was born into a Catholic family on January 4, 1915, at Vajnory, near Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. As early as age 10 he had wanted to become a priest. After completing his secondary studies with the Salesians, in 1931 he entered the novitiate. He professed vows in 1932, and on March 7, 1938, made his perpetual profession at Sacred Heart in Rome.

He did his theology at the Gregorian University in Rome and then went to Chieri, where he spent his free time at the oratory. In Turin on June 23, 1940, he achieved the goal of priestly ordination. On August 4, 1940, he celebrated his first Mass at Vajnory, his birthplace.

After his ordination, he was assigned briefly to the Salesian youth center in Bratislava, but then the provincial sent him to university to take a degree in chemistry and natural sciences, which he did. He was then sent to teach in the diocesan high school at Trnava in 1943. There he was loved and respected by the students because of his cheerful, calm, but no-nonsense yet fatherly disposition. Always ready to assist people, he made many friends. On at least one occasion he gave hiding to a Jewish youth.

After the war, the high school was nationalized and the government ordered that crucifixes be removed from the classrooms. Fr. Titus and two other teachers procured and put up new ones, to the displeasure of the principal, who fired him.

Fr. Titus moved to the Salesian school in Trnava and was prefect of studies in 1946-1947, then catechist in 1947-1949 while also helping in several parishes.

A Salesian student of theology remarked on how he helped clean up their school after the Russians left it full of excrement and stinking like a sewer.


-young Fr. Zeman greeted by girls in traditional dress, please click on the image for greater detail

Saving Vocations with Clandestine Escapes

In mid-April 1950, when the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia banned religious orders and congregations and suddenly arrested and began to intern religious in concentration camps on the night of April 13-14—“the night of the barbarians”—the Slovak provincial believed it was necessary to organize clandestine trips to Turin so that young religious (both clerics and coadjutors) could complete their studies, and he asked Fr. Titus to undertake the risky activity of smuggling them across the border to Austria. He carried out two such expeditions for more than 60 young Salesians, giving the credit for their success to Mary Help of Christians and winning the admiration of Fr. Peter Ricaldone and the other superiors in Turin.

During a third expedition in April 1951, he and the other fugitives were caught and arrested. He then underwent a difficult trial, during which he was accused of being a traitor to his country and a Vatican spy, and he risked the death penalty. On February 22, 1952, in consideration of attenuating circumstances, he was instead condemned to 25 years in prison.

Slow Martyrdom

Fr. Titus was released from prison after 12 years on March 10, 1964. He was suffering obviously from the long ordeal in prison, Titus died of heart failure due to torture and radiation poisoning after forced labor in Czechoslovakia’s uranium mines, and survived only five years, dying on January 8, 1969 (dry martyr).

Titus, in his imprisonment, was forced to work in the notorious Jachymov mine as a prisoner destined for “physical liquidation, like an insect” while also enduring the cold and exhaustion.  Upon his release from prison, Titus was barred from ministering and kept under tight police surveillance, dying during the short-lived Prague Spring reform movement.


-procession of clergy entering the cemetery for Fr. Zeman’s burial

He was very much known for his holiness and, indeed, his martyrdom. He lived his life of suffering with a great spirit of sacrifice and as an offering: “Even if I lose my life, I do not consider it a waste, knowing that at least one of those whom I have saved has become a priest to take my place.” He thus encouraged many others to “not let their hope be robbed”.

In the years immediately following Titus’ death, more than 100 vocations flourished in secret prayer groups near Bratislava. Even the communist regime’s spies present at Titus’ funeral attested to his martyrdom and suffering “for the faith and the Slovak people”. The very conversion of Judge Pavol Korbuly, responsible for the condemnation of Zeman but who later became a Christian, and ready to ask forgiveness together with his family for having condemned “about twenty innocent Salesians”, is a fruit of the martyrial life of Blessed Zeman. The Communist director who had fired him in 1946 also converted, like others he met during Titus’ years in prison. On the day of his funeral, there was also the testimony of a Lutheran pastor, a sign that the very blood of the martyrs “creates” an ecumenism that breaks down barriers and generates brotherhood.

As Pope Francis said: “This fidelity to the style of Jesus — which is style of hope — even to death, would be called by a most beautiful name by the early Christians: “martyrdom,” which means “witness” … a name fragrant with discipleship. Martyrs do not live for themselves, they do not fight to affirm their own ideas, and they accept having to die only out of fidelity to the Gospel.” (Audience of 28 June 2017).

His cause for beatification and, hopefully, canonization was taken up with ascertaining whether Zeman had died “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith).  Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes, himself a Salesian, said Titus’ Mass of Beatification.


-Bl Titus Zeman’s remains are presented in a specially designed casket at the beatification Mass.

Cardinal Amato added that the priest had “ignored the evil suffering,” refusing later to divulge the names of “informants and spies” who, by their own admission, had harmed him.

The beatification Bl Titus Zeman, SBD, brings to more than 80 the number of communist-era Catholic martyrs honored in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.


-please click on the image for greater detail


-please click on the image for greater detail

Prayer for the canonization of Fr Titus Zeman

Almighty God,
you called Fr Titus Zeman to follow St John Bosco’s charism.
Under the protection of Mary Help of Christians
he became a priest and an educator of the young.
He lived in accordance with your commandments,
and was known and respected among the people
for his friendly character and availability to everyone.
When the Church’s enemies suppressed human rights and freedom for the Faith,
Fr Titus did not lose courage and persevered in the way of truth.
Because of his fidelity to his Salesian vocation
and because of his generous service to the Church, he was incarcerated and tortured.
He bravely resisted his torturers and was mocked and humiliated because of this.
He suffered it all out of love and with love.
We ask you, almighty Father, to grant that Blessed Titus
be enrolled among your saints
and through his intercession grant us the grace that we now ask you.
Through Christ Our Lord,

Amen! Christus vincit, Christus regnat, christus imperat!!!

Love & endurance unto the end, pray for me for the grace final perseverance,
Matthew

Jan 7 – law is the condition of love

“Love is the fulfillment of the law.” – Rm 13:10


-by Br Hyacinth Grubb, OP

“You should also learn to understand and—dare I say it—to love canon law, appreciating how necessary it is and valuing its practical applications: a society without law would be a society without rights. Law is the condition of love.”
-Benedict XVI, Letter to Seminarians on October 18, 2010

You don’t often hear an exhortation to “love canon law.” Like civil law, it can seem to matter only when something has gone wrong, or when it’s preventing us from doing what we want when we want. But today is the feast of St. Raymond of Peñafort, patron saint of canon lawyers, and a good day to ask: “Why canon law?”

Law is necessary to govern societies, and the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, is truly a society. She is not merely a community organization, nor is she merely a collection of individuals who share the same personal commitments, nor is she an invisible and purely spiritual reality. The Church is the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God, the ecclesial presence of that Kingdom. It’s an imperfect presence, insofar as it’s composed of imperfect members and awaiting fulfillment in the Second Coming, but it is truly a kingdom, a society. Thus, the Church needs law, she needs legislation and judges and lawyers—and their presence reminds us of the concrete social and governmental character of Christ’s Church.

We could also recall that those in communion with the Church are unified in faith, sacraments, and governance (see Lumen Gentium 14). Moreover, “communion … is not understood as some kind of vague disposition, but as an organic reality which requires a juridical form and is animated by charity” (Nota Praevia to LG). Communion in the Church is found under the headship of the Holy Father and is given structure and order by the Church’s law. The Church has, in a real sense, a government.

Of course, the governance of the Church is unlike any other. Her essential structures, like the role of the Pope and bishops, were created not by man but by God. The ends of the Church’s governance are supernatural, and thus the concrete effects of Christian faith are often beautifully expressed in Canon Law. Take a look at a few random examples:

Can. 208: From their rebirth in Christ, there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality regarding dignity and action by which they all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ according to each one’s own condition and function.
Can. 663: The first and foremost duty of all religious is to be the contemplation of divine things and assiduous union with God in prayer.
Can. 1752: The salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes. [This is the last sentence of the Code of Canon Law.]

We might not often think about canon law, or about the means of governing the concrete reality of the Church’s life here on earth. But today, say a prayer for canon lawyers, and give thanks to God that He has deigned to welcome us into a society as true as the Catholic Church. Saint Raymond of Peñafort, pray for us.”

Love, the condition of which is the law,
Matthew

Epiphany of the Lord

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

Presence of God – I recognize in You, O little Jesus, the King of heaven and earth; grant that I may adore You with the faith and love of the Magi.

MEDITATION

“He whom the Virgin bore is acknowledged today by the whole world…. Today is the glorious Feast of His Manifestation” (Roman Breviary). Today Jesus shows Himself to the world as God.

The Introit of the Mass brings us at once into this spirit, presenting Jesus to us in the full majesty of His divinity. “Behold the sovereign Lord is come; in His hands He holds the kingdom, the power, and the empire.” The Epistle (Isaiah 60:1-6) breaks forth in a hymn of joy, announcing the vocation of the Gentiles to the faith; they too will acknowledge and adore Jesus as their God: “Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come…. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising…. All they from [Sheba] shall come, bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord.” We no longer gaze upon the lowly picture of the shepherds at the manger; passing before us now is the resplendent procession of the Wise Men from the East, representing the pagan nations and all the kings of the earth, who come to pay homage to the Child-God.

Epiphany, or Theophany, means the Manifestation of God; today it is realized in Jesus who manifests Himself as God and Lord of the world. Already a prodigy has revealed His divinity—the extraordinary star which appeared in the East. To the commemoration of this miracle, which holds the primary place in the day’s liturgy, the Church [formerly added] two others [which She now celebrates separately]: the changing of water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana, and the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, when a voice from heaven announced, “This is My beloved Son.” The Magnificat Antiphon [still] says, “Three miracles adorn this holy day”—three miracles which should lead us to recognize the Child Jesus as our God and King, and to adore Him with lively faith.”

COLLOQUY

“O Jesus, I adore You, for You are the Lord my God. “For You, my Lord, are a great God, and a great King above all kings. For in Your hand are all the ends of the earth, and the heights of the mountains are Yours. For the sea is Yours, and You made it; and, Your hands formed the dry land…. We are the people of Your pasture and the sheep of Your hand” [cf Psalm 95]. Yes, O Jesus, I am one of Your lambs, one of Your creatures; and I am happy to acknowledge my nothingness in Your presence, and still happier to adore You, O lovely Infant, as my God and my Redeemer. O that all nations would acknowledge You for what You are, that all might prostrate before You, adoring You as their Lord and God!

O Lord, You can do this. Reveal Your divinity to all mankind, and just as once You drew the Magi from the East to You, now in like manner unite all peoples and all nations around Your manger.

You have shown me that You want my poor cooperation in order to bring about the coming of Your Kingdom. You wish me to pray, suffer, and work for the conversion of those who are near and of those who are far away. You wish that I, too, place before the manger the gifts of the Wise Men: the incense of prayer, the myrrh of mortification and of suffering borne with generosity out of love for You, and finally, the gold of charity, charity which will make my heart wholly and exclusively Yours, charity which will spur me on to work, to spend myself for the conversion of sinners and infidels, and for the greater sanctification of Your elect.

O my loving King, create in me the heart of an apostle. If only I could lay at Your feet today the praise and adoration of everyone on earth!

O my Jesus, while I beg You to reveal Yourself to the world, I also beseech You to reveal Yourself more and more to my poor soul. Let Your star shine for me today, and point out to me the road which leads directly to You! May this day be a real Epiphany for me, a new manifestation to my mind and heart of Your great Majesty. He who knows You more, loves You more, O Lord; and I want to know You solely in order to love You, to give myself to You with ever greater generosity.”

Love & epiphany of Him,
Matthew

Jan 4(7 US) – St Angela of Foligno, TOSF, (1248-1309), Mystic, Mistress/Teacher of Theologians, Patroness of Good Confession & Against Sexual Temptation


-by Br. Maximilian Maria Jaskowak, OP

“The boys in the nave raised their short, scrawny necks above the congregation, gazing ruefully in the direction of the sanctuary. Before the altar, the priest joined his hands and bowed his head, saying: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua: Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini: Hosanna in excelsis. The boys’ attention, however, did not follow the sacred action of the aged Friar of Foligno, no matter how pious he seemed.

The others—both Italian villagers and pilgrims—observed the liturgical proceedings of the Friar with due attentiveness, but their concerns, too, were elsewhere. The coarse whisper of the Friar was just loud enough for the people to discern occasional phrases or syllables of the ancient prayers, and those pious few who knelt near the sanctuary strained to hear the hallowed words of the Canon, though they knew little Latin. Their devotion, perhaps true, gave way to their curious anticipation of the miraculous. For one among them was a mystic, who had received divine favors such as visions, locutions, and the stigmata. The Holy Mass had thus become an ongoing manifestation of grace in the person of their celebrated saint.

The priest approached the words of consecration: …benedixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite, et manducate ex hoc omnes. At this moment, the boys’ parents—and many others—peered through the candlelit cathedral toward the left of the nave with mounting anticipation. Huddled there, cloaked in worn, earthen-colored mantles, were the “tertiaries” of the village, who devoted themselves to works of charity throughout the communities of Foligno and Assisi. Soon enough, their foundress (the mystic) would fall into ecstasy; a most grandiose sight, indeed.

HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM.

The people, surely aware of the miraculous, supersubstantial bread raised high for veneration, nonetheless looked to another place. In the left of the nave, they witnessed another miracle, far less magnificent than what had occurred upon the altar, but no less astonishing and exceptional, especially to the medieval imagination. For God had chosen the Italian Beata, Angela of Foligno, a most unconventional woman, to manifest His glory as a penitent woman and mystic of the late thirteenth century. The people gawked at the extraordinary display of divine intimacy, the Beata, rapt in ecstasy before the Blessed Sacrament. Like the consecrated host, Angela rose in the air—by power unseen, lost in adoration of the Ineffable before them.

It was the feast of St. Felician of Foligno, the patron of the city, but it could have been any other day, after the Beata had embarked on a life of prayer and penance.

Only declared a saint in 2013 by Pope Francis, she has, all the same, received notable attention by historians and theologians alike since her death on January 4, 1309. Called by St. John Paul II the “Teacher of Theologians,” interest in St. Angela of Foligno often focuses on her profound experience of union with God and her equally impressive writings on the divine illuminations she received during prayer. Pope Benedict XVI, in a 2010 general audience concerning her life and writings, said as much:

People are usually fascinated by the consummate experience of union with God that she reached, but perhaps they give too little consideration to her first steps, her conversion and the long journey that led from her starting point, the “great fear of hell,” to her goal, total union with the Trinity. The first part of Angela’s life was certainly not that of a fervent disciple of the Lord.

Certain events, such as the violent earthquake in 1279, a hurricane, the endless war against Perugia and its harsh consequences, affected the life of Angela who little by little became aware of her sins, until she took a decisive step. In 1285, she called upon St. Francis, who appeared to her in a vision, and asked his advice on making a good general Confession. She then went to Confession with a Friar in San Feliciano.

As we begin this new year of 2018, let us call upon our patron saints with confidence, asking help—as did St. Angela—in living the life of grace. Let us also pray, especially this day, to St. Angela of Foligno, that we, too, may take that decisive step toward our final end: eternal life with God.

St. Angela of Foligno, pray for us.”

Love,
Matthew

Jan 3 – Most Holy Name of Jesus, “Every knee shall bend!” -Phil 2:10

The Irish are particular with the name of Mary, too. Traditionally, no Irish girl-child would be named Mary. However, this custom loosened and variations, in Gaelic, such as Moire’, which means “star of the sea”, meaning, similar to the North Star, by which sailors are ever guided at night, Mary guides to Jesus. Or, Maire’, yet still, Muire’, even today, traditionally reserved ONLY for the Blessed Mother, in Gaelic.

Ave Maris Stella
Dei Mater alma
Atque semper Virgo
Felix coeli porta.

Sumens illud Ave
Gabrielis ore,
Funda nos in pacem,
Mutans Hevae nomen.

Solve vincla reis,
Profer lumen coecis,
Mala nostra pelle,
Bona cuncta posce.

Monstra te esse matrem
Sumat per te presces
Qui pro nobis natus
Tulit esse tuus.

Virgo singularis,
Inter omnes mitis,
Nos culpis solutos,
Mites fac et castos.

Vitam praesta puram
Iter para tutum,
Ut videntes Iesum
Semper collaetemur.

Sit laus Deo Patri,
Summo Christo decus,
Spiritui Sancto,
Tribus honor unus.

Amen.

Hail, o star of the ocean,
God’s own Mother blest,
ever sinless Virgin,
gate of heav’nly rest.

Taking that sweet Ave,
which from Gabriel came,
peace confirm within us,
changing Eve’s name.

Break the sinners’ fetters,
make our blindness day,
Chase all evils from us,
for all blessings pray.

Show thyself a Mother,
may the Word divine
born for us thine Infant
hear our prayers through thine.

Virgin all excelling,
mildest of the mild,
free from guilt preserve us
meek and undefiled.

Keep our life all spotless,
make our way secure
till we find in Jesus,
joy for evermore.

Praise to God the Father,
honor to the Son,
in the Holy Spirit,
be the glory one. Amen.


-by Br Josemaria Guzman-Dominguez, OP

“…Many Anglophone Christians find (the) Latino custom (of naming boy infants Jesus) peculiar and are even discomfited by it. They might ask, “How is it that faithful Christians would name their son with the Name above every other name? Wouldn’t this open the floodgates to pronouncing the Holy Name in vain? And isn’t it too great a burden, too high an expectation, for a small boy to bear the name by which we are to be saved?” These are fair questions. Indeed, we should revere the Lord’s Name, and we should be careful not to misuse it. And certainly, we would not want any ordinary person to be led to think that he needs to save the world, or that all our sins rest on him, or much less that he is the Only-Begotten Son of God!

Does that mean some Latino parents are mistaken in naming their son Jesús? I don’t think so. Look at this sentence again and reflect on it: “When he was baptized, he was named Jesús.”

When we ponder these words, we can see that, in a way, they apply to any Christian. As St. Paul puts it, “through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Through the grace given in baptism, each Christian is brought into Christ; each receives the Spirit of adoption, becoming a son or daughter of God; each is named Jesús.

In baptism, a soul is transformed into the image of Jesus. Beyond the day of baptism, God calls every Christian to become ever more intensely an image of Jesus, the perfect Image of the Father. But this imitation of Christ is not one that keeps Jesus as a model in the distance. No, it is a most intimate movement of conversion, which if left unimpeded by sin, changes every aspect of one’s being. By grace, a Christian can reach union with Jesus and say with St. Paul, “It is no longer I that lives, but Christ lives in me.”

Why do we desire to be called by the Lord’s name, to be baptized into his mystery? The words of Richard Rolle give some incentives. “The name of Jesus,” he says, “purges your sin and kindles your heart; it clarifies your soul, it removes anger and does away with slowness. It wounds in love and fulfills charity. It chases the devil and puts out dread. It opens heaven, and makes you a contemplative.”

In this life, only some of us, perhaps oddly, will actually be called Jesús. However, the fact that there are such men can remind us of our common Christian vocation. If by grace we live the life of Jesus, in the end our true name will be known. We will all be named Jesús because we will be perfectly one with him. For “we shall see his face, and his name shall be on our foreheads. And night shall be no more; we will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be our light, and we shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev 22:4-5).”

Love,
Matthew

Jan 22 – Bl William Joseph Chaminade, SM, (1761-1850) – Founder of the Marianists, A Man of Faith

chaminade-conti

To the south of Bordeaux a road leads down across the Pyrenees into Spain. This was the road Father William Joseph Chaminade followed into exile in September of 1797. He was a French priest in disguise, escaping the enemies of the Church in his native land. Close by lay the danger of arrest. Other priests had already died as martyrs. But Father Chaminade was at peace. He was a man of faith.

The night before his journey into exile Father Chaminade wrote: “What is a faithful man to do in the chaos of events which seem to swallow him up? He must sustain himself calmly by Faith. Faith will make him adore the eternal plan of God. Faith will assure him that to those who love God all things work together for good.”

The Vision
In Saragossa, Spain, near the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar, Father Chaminade settled down to wait out his exile. Here he prayed and planned for his future work. And here he received from Our Lady a special message. He was to be Mary’s missionary. He was to found a society of religious who would work with her to restore the Faith in France.

So vivid and detailed was the inspiration given to Father Chaminade, that years later he could say to his first religious, “As I see you now before me, I saw you in spirit at Saragossa, long before the foundation of the Society. It was Mary who conceived the plan of the Society. It was she who laid its foundations, and she will continue to preserve it.”

Two of Father Chaminade’s favorite prayers reveal the intensity of his love of God and of Mary:
“The most just, most high, and most amiable will of God be done, praised, and eternally exalted in all things!”
“May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.”

The beginning work . . .
Father Chaminade returned to Bordeaux in 1800. There he established Sodalities of OurLady which spread their influence throughout France. He considered himself a missionary of Mary. Strong in his love for Our Blessed Mother, he gathered men and women around him who dedicated their lives to her service.

Working together, these men and women of Faith began to rebuild the Church which had been destroyed. The Society of Mary and the Daughters of Mary sprang from the sodalities of Father Chaminade. These groups continue to do Mary’s work in countries all over the world. Because Chaminade’s work was the work of Mary, it remains. And the words of this man of Faith still speak to us today.

From the Chapel of the Madeleine as from a fountain, grace poured throughout the entire city of Bordeaux and southern France. To this day the Madeleine, in the old down-town section of Bordeaux, is a center of Christian life. There Marianist priests and brothers, members of the religious congregation Father Chaminade founded, minister to the people. Many come to pray, to receive the Sacraments, or to seek spiritual refreshment.

All kinds of people involved . . .
From the beginning Father Chaminade invited people from varied backgrounds to work with him. There were husbands and wives, teachers, business men, young men and women, seminarians, priests, and representatives of every class.

-Together they worked to rebuild the shattered Faith in France.
-Together they found a deepening of their own Faith in the imitation of Jesus.
-Together they responded to the words of Mary at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Father Chaminade called this group the Family of Mary. Their outstanding characteristic was a deep spirit of Faith. For Chaminade, Faith expresses itself most perfectly in the imitation of Christ:

“A true Christian cannot live any life but the life of Our Savior Jesus. When we try to imitate Him the divine plan is carried out in our lives. The Blessed Virgin is our Model. She is a very exact copy of her Son Jesus. When we are devoted to Mary we will imitate Jesus.” “YOU MUST TASTE WHAT YOU BELIEVE.”- Father Chaminade

The importance of Mary
Father Chaminade never tired of speaking about the strong, victorious Virgin Mother of Christ:
“Jesus made Mary the companion of His labors, of His joy, of His preaching, of His death. Mary had a part in all the glorious, joyous, and sorrowful mysteries of Jesus. The deposit of the Faith is entirely in Mary. At the foot of the Cross she held the place of the Church. The mysteries which were announced to Mary were accomplished because she believed.”

History of the beatification cause
Chaminade died January 22, 1850. He was buried in the Carthusian cemetery in Bordeaux. In 1871 his remains were removed from the priest’s vault to a large square plot where a monument was erected to his memory. Father John Lalanne, the first Marianist, spoke on the occasion. He said, “We were witnesses during our younger days of his life and words. We affirm that we never saw him spend a day, not even a single hour at anything which did not relate directly to God and to the welfare of souls.”

Before long people began to come to his tomb. Some of them remembered him as a saintly old priest. Others knew only that a holy man was buried there.

In 1973 Pope Paul VI proclaimed that Father Chaminade had practiced virtue in a heroic degree. This proclamation of the Church is an official step toward the beatification and canonization of Father Chaminade.

Prayer +
O God, light of the faithful and shepherd of souls,
who set blessed William Joseph Chaminade in the Church
to feed your sheep by his words and form them by his example,
grant that through his intercession
we may keep the faith he taught by his words
and follow the way he showed by his example.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Pastors—For One Pastor)

Love,
Matthew