Category Archives: Saints

May 24 – Relics, elevatio corporis, & fragrance of Resurrection


Arca di San Domenico, please click on the image for greater detail.

Dominican breviary: “In accordance with his wishes, St Dominic was buried ‘beneath the feet of his brethren’ in the church of St Nicholas of the Vineyards, Bologna. (Keeping with this, Dominicans have been traditionally been buried under main, ground floor hallways of Dominican priories, and those living lined the hallways of their priories after Evening Prayer to sing the DeProfundis.). Many of the sick avowed that they had been healed of their infirmities at his tomb; the brethren however were loath to recognise these miracles and accept votive offerings.”

On May 24, the Dominican Order celebrates the translation of the relics of St. Dominic. That is, we remember the day in 1233 when, during a General Chapter of the Order in Bologna, the interred body of St. Dominic was moved in order to allow the faithful to honor him more easily. More than 300 friars were present to celebrate this important day. In one of his letters, Bl. Jordan of Saxony, describes the event:

“But then the wonderful day came for the translation of the relics of one who was an illustrious doctor in his lifetime. Present were the venerable Archbishop of Ravenna, surrounded by bishops and a large number of prelates, as well as by a vast multitude of people of different languages who gave remarkable witness to their devotion. Present also was the Bolognese militia, which would not let this holy body, that they considered to be in their safekeeping, be snatched from them. As for the brethren, they were anxious: although they had nothing to fear, they were seized with misgivings lest the body of Saint Dominic, which had lain in a mean tomb exposed to water and heat for such a long period of time, should be found eaten with worms and giving off a foul odor in the same way that might be expected with other corpses, thus destroying the devotion of the people for so great a man. Nonetheless the bishops approached devoutly. The stone that was firmly cemented to the sepulcher was removed with instruments of iron. Within the tomb was a wooden coffin, just as it had been placed there by the venerable Pope Gregory when he was bishop of Ostia. The body had been buried there, and a small hole remained in the top of the coffin.

The upper part of the coffin was moved a little bit. As soon as the stone was taken away, the body gave forth a wonderful odor through the opening; its sweetness astonished those present, and they were filled with wonder at this strange occurrence. Everyone shed tears of joy, and fear and hope rose in all hearts. We ourselves also smelled the sweetness of this perfume, and we bear witness to what we have seen and smelt. Eager with love, we remained devotedly near the body of Dominic for a long time, and we were unable to sate ourselves with this great sweetness. If one touched the body with a hand or a belt or some other object, the odor immediately attached itself to it for a long period of time.

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


-by Br Ireneus Dunleavy, OP

Why relics?

It’s a natural instinct to keep meaningful tokens. Anyone who has lost loved ones knows the impact of an old photo, a handwritten letter, or a crackling recorded message. In a way, the ones we have lost become present. Emotion rises along with memories and love’s affection. An old book, jewelry, an article of clothing … we keep these things as mementos. With the saints, however, we not only keep things of the person, but we also keep the body of the person.

The 25th session of Trent’s second decree teaches us why the bodies of saints are different. Relics of bone, hair, and even blood once belonged to bodies possessing a two-fold dignity: (1) being living members of the Body of Christ and (2) being temples of the Holy Spirit. The council states that, through venerating these relics, God bestows gifts on men. Additionally, those who oppose this teaching, “the Church has already long since condemned.”

This condemnation is not found among Dominicans. Today the Order of Preachers celebrates the Translation of Holy Father Dominic. ‘Translation’ is an unfortunate translation. The Latin, elevatio corporis, brings forth the transcendent quality of this feast. We don’t celebrate a horizontal change of word for word moving from tongue to tongue. Rather, we celebrate the vertical change of the profane to the holy. On this day in 1233, St. Dominic’s remains were elevated, celebrated, and laid to rest in the Arca di San Domenico—the exquisite sarcophagus complete in 1267.

Though the brethren lifted St. Dominic from the tomb, it was God who elevated the body of St. Dominic. Our Father in heaven honored our Holy Father Dominic by a miracle (ST III.6). The moment the stone slab covering the coffin was split, the broken seal emitted an indescribable, sweet fragrance. So potent was the smell that those who touched its source, St. Dominic’s bones, themselves began to emit the aroma. Martha feared the stench of Lazarus’ four days in the tomb (Jn 11:38–44), but the friars rejoiced in the sweet-smelling oblation of St. Dominic’s 11 years in the tomb.

The relics of St. Dominic, like all other relics, remind us of not only the saint but the One the saint served. By this miracle, through his lowly servant St. Dominic, God makes real the words of St. Paul:

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. (2 Cor 2:15–16)

Smells, like a mother’s perfume, conjure the deepest memories we have of a person. The smell of St. Dominic works in an analogous way, but with an important difference. The brothers would not have been reminded of the old smell of the perspiring friar. They would have been reminded of the Resurrection. Christ by dying and rising has transformed the decay of death into the fragrance of eternal life. Relics do not just remind us of a life lived, but a life living.“

“Thou didst breath fragrance upon me, and I drew in my breath and now do I sigh for Thee.” -St Augustine

Love, life, & LIFE to come!!
Matthew

Ungrateful – May 10, St Antoninus of Florence, OP (1389-1459 AD), Archbishop & Confessor


-The Charity of St. Anthony, Lorenzo Lotto, 1542; Italy – High Renaissance, oil on panel, 235 x 332 cm, Basilica dei San Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, Italy, please click on the image for greater detail

My sister, although we did not know it then, only the symptoms of several car accidents in short succession, was suffering the effects of PSP in 2005, the year Kelly and I happened to want to be married.

Since my parents had passed eight weeks apart towards the end of 2001, my eldest sibling, my sister, my second mother, was very important to me to have in attendance.  She could not travel, and so, at the risk of my soul and marriage, I asked Kelly if we could delay until Spring of 2006 to see if my sister’s condition would improve.  It never did.  She passed in 2008.

Tearfully and most generously, Kelly agreed to wait.  In so doing, we had to give up the HOTTEST ticket for a wedding ceremony in Chicago, Old St Patrick’s Church.  There is a waiting list of years.  So, desperate for a church building, and Chicago Catholic churches scarce (understatement) on short notice for wedding Saturdays, and the Catholic Church insisting on weddings in Catholic Church churches, you have to get a dispensation otherwise, and who wants to do that, and, it may not be granted, we went begging. The gloriously beautiful Holy Family Church, now in a depressed part of the near west side of Chicago, and so with few congregants and fewer weddings, welcomed us and we became parishioners at the invitation of the pastor, who also witnessed our wedding.

He was the lone priest in this big, sadly underused, gem of a church where Mrs O’Leary, of infamy, used to be a parishioner. This pastor later quipped to us when we blurted out later, as Catholics are wont to do upon some small sacrifice, “But, our reward will be great in Heaven!!” And, he said, to this day we’re not sure if he was serious or not, “Don’t kid yourself.” This pastor, regrettably, turned out to be not one of the better priests either of us have ever met. It happens.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” -Lk 6:32-36

Lk 17:18


– St Antoninus, from Saint Dominic’s Church in Washington, D.C., please click on the image for greater detail


-bust outside the family home of St. Antoninus Torre dei Pierozzi, Florence, Italy, please click on the image for greater detail

To mitigate the wide-spread misery caused by the taxes of the Medici, St Antoninus established a lay society, known as the ‘Good Men of St Martin’, who systematically sought out the poor and gave assistance to them.

The plague hit Florence in 1448 and 1449. Then an earthquake shook it in 1453, followed by a cyclone in 1456, and then a famine! St Antoninus was frequently seen with his mule loaded with emergency supplies, going through the streets of the city to help those in both material and spiritual need, bringing relief supplies and the succour of the sacraments.


-by Br Bartholomew Calvano, OP

St Antoninus is “…a model in this thankless charity. Saint Antoninus, a Dominican friar who lived in the early 15th century, was well known both for his contributions to moral theology and for his love of the poor. As Archbishop of Florence, he focused his attention and resources on the poor. He instructed those who established homes for the care of the suffering, whether it be from malady, poverty, or abandonment, to persevere in their care, even if those they served were ungrateful.

A prime example of the types of organizations that St. Antoninus founded was the association known as the Good Men of St. Martin. This group of laymen dispersed funds entrusted to it wherever the need was found. The primary purpose of this association, however, may seem strange to us. The first recipients of its charity were to be the shamefaced poor, a title given in 15th century Florence to those who, because of having fallen from a higher stratum of society, were too ashamed to beg and so starved in silence. Such poor only accepted charity reluctantly, and scant gratitude could be expected from them for it. Saint Antoninus’ charity, however, was too broad to be limited to only those who came seeking it.

Saint Antoninus chose to trade in, by means of charity toward the grateful and ungrateful alike, the riches he had on earth to receive a reward in heaven. In imitation of him, may we also show ourselves to be children of God through unselfish mercy and kindness to all of our neighbors.”

“Eternal God, you wonderfully blessed Saint Antoninus with the gift of wisdom. Pour out upon us, Your servants, the same spirit of understanding, truth, and peace. May we know in our hearts what pleases You and pursue it with all our strength. We ask this 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”.
– Collect for the feast of St Antoninus (10th May).

His body remains incorrupt.

Looks good for 560, not a day over 100.  San Marco, Florence, Italy.

Love,
Matthew

Apr 30 – Pope St Pius V, OP (1504-1572)


-please click on the image for greater detail


-by Br Paul Marich, OP

“For many generations, especially throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, several popes had negative reputations on account of their sinful lifestyles or corrupt governance. While still possessing the authority of the Vicar of Christ on earth, these popes were not living up to the life of holiness that Christ expected of Peter and his successors.

One exception in the midst of this chaos was St. Pius V, whose feast we celebrate today. A Dominican friar who reigned from 1566 to 1572, Pius made his mark in a relatively short papacy. He promulgated the catechism and missal that were formulated by the Council of Trent. He called for the praying of the Rosary when Christian naval forces were threatened by the Turks during the Battle of Lepanto. He excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I when she steered England back toward Protestantism. A legend also attributes to Pius the origin of why the pope wears white—he would not remove his white Dominican habit once elected pope!

For all that he accomplished as pope, the Church venerates him as a saint because of his virtue and holiness. Alongside his accomplishments, Pius was known to live a very austere life, rejecting many of the luxuries to which popes had been accustomed in his time. While he may have been elected the Successor of St. Peter, he never stopped being a humble Dominican friar. Prayer and penance preceded any work that he did in governing the universal Church. G.K. Chesterton, in his famous poem, Lepanto, described St. Pius V in this way:

“The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke.”

It can be very tempting to view our relationship with God, or our service to the Church, from a functional angle. “What am I doing? Can I make this better?” are some questions we may ask. Despite our best efforts, it is God who begins every good work in us, and it is he who brings it to completion. According to Lumen gentium, “it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity” through a life of holiness (40). By our union with Christ through the regular reception of the sacraments, we come to share in his holiness. Only then are we properly disposed to carry out through action what the Holy Spirit places upon our hearts.

We recognize Pius V as a saint for his life of profound holiness. He was a shining star who turned to God in charity and humility in the midst of a world of darkness. His life of holiness, prompted by the movement of the Holy Spirit, led him to do great things for the Church, the impact of which remains with us to this day. His example directs us to a life in Christ. Through lives rooted in prayer and the sacraments, we too are made ready to face whatever struggles, difficulties, or tasks that lie ahead. May St. Pius V be our model, helping us to navigate through the voyage of life.”


-remains of Pius V in his tomb in Santa Maria Maggiore, please click on the image for greater detail

Love,
Matthew

Saints on salvation

Mt 7:13-14
Phil 2:12

“Lord, what will become of sinners?”
St Dominic

“Beyond a doubt the elect are few.”
“Not all, nor even a majority, are saved. . . They are indeed many, if regarded by themselves, but they are few in comparison with the far larger number of those who shall be punished with the devil.”
“As a man lives, so shall he die.”
“The Lord called the world a “field” and all the faithful who draw near to him “wheat.” All through the field, and around the threshing-floor, there is both wheat and chaff. But the greater part is chaff; the lesser part is wheat, for which is prepared a barn not a fire. . . The good also are many, but in comparison with the wicked the good are few. Many are the grains of wheat, but compared with the chaff, the grains are few.”
“The Apostle commands us to rejoice, but in the Lord, not in the world. For, you see, as Scripture says, whoever wishes to be a friend of this world will be counted as God’s enemy. Just as a man cannot serve two masters, so too no-one can rejoice both in the world and in the Lord.”
‘If you wish to imitate the multitude, then you shall not be among the few who shall enter in by the narrow gate.’
St. Augustine, Doctor and Father of the Church

“The number of the saved is as few as the number of grapes left after the vine pickers have passed.”
“But I tremble when I see so many souls lost these days. See, they fall into Hell as leaves fall from the trees at the approach of winter.”
“Nothing afflicts the heart of Jesus so much as to see all His sufferings of no avail to so many.”
“Shall we all be saved? Shall we go to Heaven? Alas, my children, we do not know at all! But I tremble when I see so many souls lost these days. See, they fall into Hell as leaves fall from the trees at the approach of winter.”
“Alas, my friend. We cannot be together in Heaven unless we have begun to live so in this world. Death makes no change in that. As the tree falls, so shall it lie. . . Jesus Christ said . . . “He that does not hear the Church, let him be to thee as a heathen and a publican.” And he also said, “There shall be one fold and one shepherd,” and He made St. Peter the chief shepherd of His flock. My dear friend, there are not two ways of serving Jesus Christ. There is only one good way, and that is to serve Him as He Himself desires to be served.”
St. Jean Vianney

“Meditate on the horrors of Hell which will last for eternity because of one easily committed mortal sin. Try hard to be among the few who are chosen. Think of the eternal flames of Hell, and how few there are that are saved.”
‘Yes, indeed, many will be damned; few will be saved.’
“I was watching souls going down into the abyss as thick and fast as snowflakes falling in the winter mist.”
St. Benedict Joseph Labre

“The greater part of men choose to be damned rather than to love Almighty God.”
“He who abuses too much the mercy of God will be abandoned by Him.”
“The saved are few, but we must live with the few if we would be saved with the few. O God, too few indeed they are: yet amongst those few I wish to be!”
“All persons desire to be saved, but the greater part, because they will not adopt the means of being saved, fall into sin and are lost. … In fact, the Elect are much fewer than the damned, for the reprobate are much more numerous than the Elect.”
“Everyone desires to be saved but the greater part is lost.”
“All would wish to be saved and to enjoy the glory of paradise; but to gain heaven, it is necessary to walk in the straight road that leads to eternal bliss. This road is the observance of the divine commandments. Hence, in his preaching, the Baptist exclaimed: Make straight the way of the Lord.”
“We owe God a deep regret of gratitude for the purely gratuitous gift of the true faith with which he has favored us. How many are the infidels, heretics and schismatic who do not enjoy comparable happiness? The earth is full of them and they are all lost!”
“The greater part of men choose to be damned rather than to love Almighty God.”
“God, observes a certain author, wishes to be served by his priests with the fervor with which the seraphim serve him in heaven; otherwise he will withdraw his graces and permit them to sleep in tepidity, and thence to fall, first into the precipice of sin and afterwards into hell.”
‘To obtain salvation we must tremble at the thought of being lost, and tremble not so much at the thought of hell, as of sin, which alone can send us thither. He who dreads sin avoids dangerous occasions, frequently recommends himself to God, and has recourse to the means of keeping himself in the state of grace. He who acts thus will be saved; but for him who lives not in this manner it is morally impossible to be saved.’
‘In the Great Deluge in the days of Noah, nearly all mankind perished, eight persons alone being saved in the Ark. In our days a deluge, not of water but of sins, continually inundates the earth, and out of this deluge very few escape. Scarcely anyone is saved.’
“‘Some will say, It is enough for me to be saved. “No,” says St. Augustine, “it is not enough; if you say that it is enough, you will be lost.'”
“. . . let us bear in mind that unless we are humble we shall not only do no good, but we shall not be saved. “Unless you . . . become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” In order, then, to enter into the kingdom of heaven, we must become children, not in age, but in humility. St. Gregory says that as pride is a sign of reprobation, so humility is a mark of predestination.”
“What is the number of those who love Thee, O God? How few they are! The Elect are much fewer than the damned! Alas! The greater portion of mankind lives in sin unto the devil, and not unto Jesus Christ. O Savior of the world, I thank Thee for having called and permitted us to live in the true faith which the Holy Roman Catholic Church teaches. . . But alas, O my Jesus! How small is the number of those who live in this holy faith! Oh, God! The greater number of men he buried in the darkness of infidelity and heresy. Thou hast humbled Thyself to death, to the death of the cross, for the salvation of men, and these ungrateful men are unwilling even to know Thee. Ah, I pray Thee, O omnipotent God, O sovereign and infinite Good, make all men know and love Thee!”
“It is certainly a great happiness for some sinners who after a bad life are converted at their death, and are saved; but these cases are very rare: ordinarily he that leads a bad life dies a bad death.”
“It is certain that we absolutely require the divine assistance, in order to overcome temptations. . . Whoever prays obtains this grace; but whoever prays not, obtains it not, and is lost. And this is more especially the case with regard to the grace of final perseverance, of dying in the grace of God, which is the grace absolutely necessary for our salvation, and without which we should be lost forever. St. Augustine says of this grace, that God only bestows it on those who pray. And this is the reason why so few are saved, because few indeed are mindful to beg of God this grace of perseverance.”
“We were so fortunate to be born in the bosom of the Roman Church, in Christian and Catholic kingdoms, a grace that has not been granted to the greater part of men, who are born among idolaters, Mohammedans, or heretics. . . How thankful we ought to be, then, to Jesus Christ for the gift of faith! What would have become of us if we had been born in Asia, in Africa, in America, or in the midst of heretics and schismatic? He who does not believe is lost. He who does not believe shall be condemned. And thus, probably, we also would have been lost.”
“The great deluge at the time of Noah was the cause why all mankind perished, with the exception of eight persons who were saved in the Ark. In our time a deluge, not of water, but of sins, continually inundates the earth, and few persons escape it, especially among seculars. . .”
“All infidels and heretics are surely on the way to being lost. What an obligation we owe God! for causing us to be born not only after the coming of Jesus Christ, but also in countries where the true faith reigns! I thank Thee, O Lord, for this. Woe to me if, after so many transgressions, it had been my fate to live in the midst of infidels or heretics!”
“The greater number of men still say to God: Lord we will not serve Thee; we would rather be slaves of the devil, and condemned to Hell, than be Thy servants. Alas! The greatest number, my Jesus – we may say nearly all – not only do not love Thee, but offend Thee and despise Thee. How many countries there are in which there are scarcely any Catholics, and all the rest either infidels or heretics! And all of them are certainly on the way to being lost.”
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church

“A multitude of souls fall into the depths of Hell, and it is of the faith that all who die in mortal sin are condemned for ever and ever. According to statistics, approximately 80,000 persons die every day. How many of these will die in mortal sin, and how many will be condemned! For, as their lives have been, so also will be their end.”
St. Anthony Mary Claret

“Behold how many there are who are called, and how few who are chosen! And behold, if you have no care for yourself, your perdition is more certain than your amendment, especially since the way that leads to eternal life is so narrow.”
‘Only a small number of souls achieve perfect love.’
St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church

“Many begin well, but there are few who persevere.”
“Out of one hundred thousand sinners who continue in sin until death, scarcely one will be saved.”
“So that you will better appreciate the meaning of Our Lord’s words, and perceive more clearly how few the Elect are, note that Christ did not say that those who walked in the path to Heaven are few in number, but that there were few who found that narrow way. It is as though the Saviour intended to say: The path leading to Heaven is so narrow and so rough, so overgrown, so dark and difficult to discern, that there are many who never find it their whole life long. And those who do find it are constantly exposed to the danger of deviating from it, of mistaking their way, and unwittingly wandering away from it, because it is so irregular and overgrown.’
St. Jerome, Doctor and Father of the Church

“The number of the elect is so small, so small, that were we to know how small it is, we should faint away with grief. The number of the elect is so small that were God to assemble them together, He would cry to them, as He did of old, by the mouth of His prophet, ‘Gather yourselves together, one by one’ — one from this province, one from that kingdom.”
‘Do not be deceived; there are only two roads: one that leads to life and is narrow; the other that leads to death and is wide. There is no middle way.’
-St. Louis Marie de Montfort

“I do not speak rashly, but as I feel and think. I do not think that many bishops are saved, but that those who perish are far more numerous.”
“What I am about to tell you is very terrible, yet I will not conceal it from you. Out of this thickly populated city with its thousands of inhabitants not one hundred people will be saved. I even doubt whether there will be as many as that!”
“What do you think? How many of the inhabitants of this city may perhaps be saved? What I am about to tell you is very terrible, yet I will not conceal it from you. Out of this thickly populated city with its thousands of inhabitants not one hundred people will be saved. I even doubt whether there will be as many as that!”
“Do you not perceive how many qualities a priest must have that he may be strong in his teaching, patient, and hold fast to the faithful word which is according to doctrine? What care and pains does this require! Moreover, he is answerable for the sins of others. To pass over everything else: If but one soul dies without Baptism, does it not entirely endanger his own salvation? For the loss of one soul is so great an evil that it is impossible to express it in words. For if the salvation of that soul was of such value that the Son of God became man and suffered so much, think of how great a punishment must the losing of it bring.”
St. John Chrysostom, Doctor and Father of the Church

“If you would be quite sure of your salvation, strive to be among the fewest of the few. Do not follow the majority of mankind, but follow those who renounce the world and never relax their efforts day or night so that they may attain everlasting blessedness.”
‘It is impossible to be saved if we turn away from thee, O Mary.’
St. Anselm, Doctor of the Church

“With the exception of those who die in childhood, most men will be damned.”
-St. Regimius of Rheims

“Ah, how many souls lose Heaven and are cast into Hell!”
-St. Francis Xavier

“Christ’s flock is called ‘little’ in comparison with the greater number of the reprobates.”
‘Nor should we think that it is enough for salvation that we are no worse off than the mass of the careless and indifferent, or that in our faith we are, like so many others, uninstructed.’
St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor and Father of the Church

“How many among these uncivilized peoples do not yet know God, and are sunk in the darkest idolatry, superstition and ignorance! … Poor souls! These are they in whom Christ saw, in all the horror of His imminent Passion, the uselessness of His agony for so many souls!”
-St. Francesca Saverio Cabrini

“It must necessarily happen that, on account of this certainly culpable ignorance in which most men live, an enormous number will come to be damned, because no sin is pardoned which is not detested, and it is impossible to detest sin properly if it is not known as such.”
St. Joseph Cafasso

‘The more the wicked abound, so much the more must we suffer with them in patience; for on the threshing floor few are the grains carried into the barns, but high are the piles of chaff burned with fire.’
“The Ark, which in the midst of the Flood was a symbol of the Church, was wide below and narrow above; and, at the summit, measured only a single cubit. . . It was wide where the animals were, narrow where men lived: for the Holy Church is indeed wide in the number of those who are carnal minded, narrow in the number of those who are spiritual.”
‘There are many who arrive at the faith, but few who are led into the heavenly kingdom. Behold how many are gathered here for today’s Feast-Day: we fill the church from wall to wall. Yet who knows how few they are who shall be numbered in that chosen company of the Elect?’
“They who are to be saved as Saints, and wish to be saved as imperfect souls, shall not be saved.”
-Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor and Father of the Church

“How few the Elect are may be understood from the multitude being cast out.”
St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor and Father of the Church

“The greater part of men will set no value on the blood of Christ, and will go on offending Him.”
St. Isidore of Seville, Doctor and Father of the Church

“Many religious go strait to Hell because they do not keep their vows!”
St. Vincent Ferrer, OP

“So many people are going to die, and almost all of them are going to Hell! So many people falling into Hell!”
-Bd. Jacinta of Fatima

“Notwithstanding assurances that God did not create any man for Hell, and that He wishes all men to be saved, it remains equally true that only few will be saved; that only few will go to Heaven; and that the greater part of mankind will be lost forever.”
-St. John Neumann

“There was a synod being held in Paris, and a great number of prelates and pastors who had the charge of souls were in attendance; the king and princes also came to add luster to that assembly by their presence. A famous preacher was invited to preach. While he was preparing his sermon, a horrible demon appeared to him and said, ‘Lay your books aside. If you want to give a sermon that will be useful to these princes and prelates, content yourself with telling them on our part, ‘We the princes of darkness thank you, princes, prelates, and pastors of souls, that due to your negligence, the greater number of the faithful are damned; also, we are saving a reward for you for this favor, when you shall be with us in Hell.'”
“Our chronicles relate an even more dreadful happening. One of our brothers, well-known for his doctrine and holiness, was preaching in Germany. He represented the ugliness of the sin of impurity so forceful that a woman fell dead of sorrow in front of everyone. Then, coming back to life, she said, “When I was presented before the Tribunal of God, sixty thousand people arrived at the same time from all parts of the world; out of that number, three were saved by going to Purgatory, and all the rest were damned.”
“A great number of Christians are lost.”
-St. Leonard of Port Maurice

‘That those who walk in the way of salvation are the smaller number is due to the vice and depraved habits imbibed in youth and nourished in childhood. By these means Lucifer has hurled into Hell so great a number of souls, and continues thus to hurl them into Hell every day, casting so many nations from abyss to abyss of darkness and errors, such as are contained in the heresies and false sects of the infidels.’
-Ven. Mary of Agreda

‘I exhort you, therefore, not to faint in your afflictions, but to be revived by God’s love, and to add daily to your zeal, knowing that in you ought to be preserved that remnant of true religion which the Lord will find when He comes on the earth. Even if bishops are driven from their Churches, be not dismayed. If traitors have arisen from among the very clergy themselves, let not this undermine your confidence in God. We are saved not by names, but by mind and purpose, and genuine love toward our Creator. Bethink you how in the attack against our Lord, high priests and scribes and elders devised the plot, and how few of the people were found really receiving the word. Remember that it is not the multitude who are being saved, but the elect of God. Be not then affrighted at the great multitude of the people who are carried hither and thither by winds like the waters of the sea. If but one be saved, like Lot at Sodom, he ought to abide in right judgment, keeping his hope in Christ unshaken, for the Lord will not forsake His holy ones. Salute all the brethren in Christ from me. Pray earnestly for my miserable soul.’
-St. Basil the Great, Doctor and Father of the Church

‘O Jesus! . . . Remember the sadness that Thou didst experience when, contemplating in the light of Thy divinity the predestination of those who would be saved by the merits of Thy sacred passion, thou didst see at the same time the great multitude of reprobates who would be damned for their sins, and Thou didst complain bitterly of those hopeless, lost, and unfortunate sinners.’
-St. Bridget of Sweden

‘With the exception of those who die in childhood, most men will be damned.’
-St. Regimius of Rheims

‘Ah, how many souls lose Heaven and are cast into Hell!’
-St. Francis Xavier

‘How many among these uncivilized peoples do not yet know God, and are sunk in the darkest idolatry, superstition and ignorance! . . . Poor souls! These are they in whom Christ saw, in all the horror of His imminent Passion, the uselessness of His agony for so many souls!’
-St. Francesca Saverio Cabrini

‘Cast a look round the world, just observe the manner of living, of speaking, and you will see immediately whether the evil of sin is known in the world or whether any attention is paid to it. Not to speak of those who live decidedly irreligious and wicked lives, how few are those who pass for good and who approach the sacraments are aware of the great evil that sin is, and the great ruin it brings with it. It must necessarily happen that, on account of this certainly culpable ignorance in which most men live, an enormous number will come to be damned, because no sin is pardoned which is not detested, and it is impossible to detest sin properly if it is not known as such.’
-St. Joseph Cafasso

‘It is as though Jesus said: “O My Father, I am indeed going to clothe myself with human flesh, but the greater part of the world will set no value on my blood!”‘
‘The greater part of men will set no value on the blood of Christ, and will go on offending Him.’
-St. Isidore of Seville, Doctor and Father of the Church

‘How few the Elect are may be understood from the multitude being cast out.’
-St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor and Father of the Church

‘So many people are going to die, and almost all of them are going to Hell! So many people falling into hell!’
-Bl. Jacinta of Fatima

‘Live with the few if you want to reign with the few.’
-St. John Climacus, Father of the Church

“Get out of the filth of the horrible torrent of this world, the torrent of thorns that is whirling you into the abyss of eternal perdition. . . This torrent is the world, which resembles an impetuous torrent, full of garbage and evil odours, making a lot of noise but flowing swiftly passed, dragging the majority of men into the pit of perdition.”
“The greatest evil existing today is heresy, an infernal rage which hurls countless souls into eternal damnation.”
“In order to understand more clearly this fundamental truth of Christian life, and to establish it more solidly in your soul, bear in mind that Our Lord Jesus Christ does not have simply one body and one life, but two. First, there is His own personal body which He received from the Blessed Virgin and the personal life which He lived in human form in this world. There is also His Mystical Body, namely the Church, which St. Paul calls “the body of Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 12: 27). And His second life is the life by which He dwells in this Mystical Body: in all true Christians who are members of the Church.”
“O Jesus … keep me safe in Thy Church, as in the bosom of a mother, apart from whom there is no life or salvation.”
“We must … offer ourselves to Jesus to die and shed our blood a thousand times if it were possible … in preference to the slightest deviation from the faith of His Church.”
“O my Lord Jesus, should there arise an occasion on which I would either have to die or renounce Thy holy faith, I do vow and promise Thee as firmly and constant as possible to confess and acknowledge Thee in the presence of everyone at the price of my blood, my life, and all the martyrdoms and torments imaginable, and to suffer a thousand deaths with all the tortures of earth and Hell rather than deny Thee. Oh, let me die in the faith of all Thy holy Martyrs!”
St. John Eudes

‘Take care not to resemble the multitude whose knowledge of God’s will only condemns them to more severe punishment.’
St. John of Avila

‘Notwithstanding assurances that God did not create any man for Hell, and that He wishes all men to be saved, it remains equally true that only few will be saved; that only few will go to Heaven; and that the greater part of mankind will be lost forever.’
-St. John Neumann

‘The majority of men shall not see God, excepting those who live justly, purified by righteousness and by every other virtue.’
St. Justin Martyr, Father of the Church

‘Woe to you who command others! If so many are damned by your fault, what will happen to you? If few out of those who are first in the Church of God are saved, what will happen to you? Take all states, both sexes, every condition: husbands, wives, widows, young women, young men, soldiers, merchants, craftsmen, rich and poor, noble and plebian. What are we to say about all these people who are living so badly? The following narrative from Saint Vincent Ferrer will show you what you may think about it. He relates that an archdeacon in Lyons gave up his charge and retreated into a desert place to do penance, and that he died the same day and hour as Saint Bernard. After his death, he appeared to his bishop and said to him, “Know, Monsignor, that at the very hour I passed away, thirty-three thousand people also died. Out of this number, Bernard and myself went up to heaven without delay, three went to purgatory, and all the others fell into Hell.”‘
‘Look higher still, and see the prelates of the Holy Church, pastors who have the charge of souls. Is the number of those who are saved among them greater than the number of those who are damned? Listen to Cantimpre; he will relate an event to you, and you may draw the conclusions. There was a synod being held in Paris, and a great number of prelates and pastors who had the charge of souls were in attendance; the king and princes also came to add luster to that assembly by their presence. A famous preacher was invited to preach. While he was preparing his sermon, a horrible demon appeared to him and said, “Lay your books aside. If you want to give a sermon that will be useful to these princes and prelates, content yourself with telling them on our part, ‘We the princes of darkness thank you, princes, prelates, and pastors of souls, that due to your negligence, the greater number of the faithful are damned; also, we are saving a reward for you for this favor, when you shall be with us in Hell.”‘
-St. Leonard of Port Maurice

‘I see around me a multitude of those who, blindly persevering in error, despise the true God; but I am a Christian nevertheless, and I follow the instruction of the Apostles. If this deserves chastisement, reward it; for I am determined to suffer every torture rather then become the slave of the devil. Others may do as they please since they are. . . reckless of the future life which is to be obtained only by sufferings. Scripture tells us that “narrow is the way that leads to life” . . . because it is one of affliction and of persecutions suffered for the sake of justice; but it is wide enough for those who walk upon it, because their faith and the hope of an eternal reward make it so for them. . . On the contrary, the road of vice is in reality narrow, and it leads to an eternal precipice.’
-St. Leo of Patara

‘. . . a greater number is lost through false confidence than through excessive fear.’
-Ven. Louis de Granada

‘Taking into account the behavior of mankind, only a small part of the human race will be saved.’
-St Lucy of Fatima

‘The majority of souls appear before the Judgment empty-handed. They did nothing good for eternity.’
-Ven. Mary of Agreda

‘So vast a number of miserable souls perish, and so comparatively few are saved!’
St. Philip Neri

‘Oh, Jesus, Divine Redeemer of souls, behold how great is the multitude of those who still sleep in the darkness of error! Reckon up the number of those who stray to the edge of the precipice. Consider the throngs of the poor, the hungry, the ignorant, and the feeble who groan in their abandoned condition. Oh Lord, our sins darken our understanding, and hide from us the blessing of loving Thee as Thou dost merit. Enlighten our minds with a ray of Thy divine light. Thou art the Friend, the Redeemer, and the Father of the one who turns penitent to Thy Sacred Heart. Amen.’
-Pope St. Pius X

‘Among adults there are few saved because of sins of the flesh.’
-St. Regimius of Rheims

‘It is granted to few to recognize the true Church amid the darkness of so many schisms and heresies, and to fewer still so to love the truth which they have seen as to fly to its embrace.’
St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church

‘The path to Heaven is narrow, rough and full of wearisome and trying ascents, nor can it be trodden without great toil; and therefore wrong is their way, gross their error, and assured their ruin who, after the testimony of so many thousands of saints, will not learn where to settle their footing.’
“Oh how much are the worldlings deceived that rejoice in the time of weeping, and make their place of imprisonment a palace of pleasure; that consider the examples of the saints as follies, and their end as dishonorable; that think to go to Heaven by the wide way that leadeth only to perdition!”
St. Robert Southwell

‘I fear that Last Day, that day of tribulation and anguish, of calamity and misery, of mist and darkness, that Day on which, if the just have reason to fear, how much more should I, an impious, wretched, and ungrateful sinner!’
-Bl. Sebastian Valfre

‘The number of the damned is incalculable.’
St. Veronica Giuliani

‘Many religious go strait to Hell because they do not keep their vows!’
St. Vincent Ferrer

‘Ah! A great many persons live constantly in the state of damnation!’
-St. Vincent de Paul

“Since their eternal happiness, consisting in the vision of God, exceeds the common state of nature, and especially in so far as this is deprived of grace through the corruption of original sin, those who are saved are in the minority. In this especially, however, appears the mercy of God, that He has chosen some for that salvation, from which very many in accordance with the common course and tendency of nature fall short.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church

“Jesus Christ is given to us through the Church, just as He was given to the Church through Mary … The Church alone has received the deposit of faith in Jesus Christ … and it is through the Holy Catholic Church alone that men can become true children of the faith … Unfortunate are the nations that do not live in the Church of Jesus Christ. They are like men outside the Ark at the time of the Flood. Out- side the Church, these poor travelers wander without a guide in the desert. They are like a sailor on a boat without either rudder or pilot. Alas, unfortunate children, abandoned on the road, without a mother to nourish and love them; they will soon die of cold and hunger! The gift of the Church as our mother and teacher in the Faith is therefore the greatest grace Jesus Christ could bestow upon us. And the greatest charity we can do to a man is to lead him to the true Church, outside which there is no salvation.”
“And how very small is the kingdom of Jesus Christ! So many nations have never had the faith!”
St. Peter Julian Eymard

“Outside the unity of faith and love which makes us sons and members of the Church … no one can be saved.”
St. Bonaventure

“Outside this communion, as outside the Ark of Noah, there is absolutely no salvation for mortals: not for Jews or pagans who never received the faith of the Church; not for heretics who, having received it, forsook or corrupted it; not for schismatics who left the peace and unity of the Church; and finally, neither for excommunicated persons who for any other serious cause deserved to be put away and separated from the body of the Church like pernicious members. For the rule of Cyprian and Augustine is certain: that man will not have God for his Father who would not have the Church for his Mother.”
St. Peter Canisius

“If you die as an unbeliever, you will be damned and lost forever.”
St. John Bosco

“To the damned the voluntary loss of Paradise is a greater loss than the very pains of Hell.”
St. Peter Chrysologus

Love & salvation!
Matthew

Aug 27 – Tears of St Monica


-“The angel appears to St Monica”, by Pietro Maggi, [1714], painting in Saint Augustine chapel, in the right hand transept of san Marco church in Milan (Italy), please click on the image for greater detail.

Thus you gave another answer through your priest, a certain bishop nurtured in the Church and trained in your books. When that woman implored him to consider speaking with me, to refute my errors, un-teach me evil, and teach me good…he refused her, quite prudently, as I understood later. He responded that I was as yet indocile, that I was inflated with my heresy’s novelty… “but let him be. Only pray for him to the Lord: he will discover by reading what his error is…” She would not acquiesce to what he said but continued imploring… “Go away,” he said, “while you live, the son of these tears of yours shall not perish!” (The Confessions of St. Augustine III, 12)


-by Br Nicholas Hartmann, OP

With these words St. Augustine narrates the exchange between his mother St. Monica and an unnamed bishop. Monica weeps to the saintly bishop, urging him to purge her son of his errant thinking. Because of his intelligence and his studies in rhetoric, Augustine enjoyed worldly success, but his moral profligacy made his inner life tumultuous. He likely hoped Manichaeism—the errors referred to in the above passage—could acquit him of intemperance within the inner court of his conscience.

Monica knew better, or at least she knew that this heresy kept Augustine withdrawn from the true faith. Augustine’s successful career advanced him to Rome and then Milan, but it failed to placate her vexations about his well-being. Monica’s personal piety and progress in Christian virtue informed her to see through that veneer into the rot of his inner life. Indeed, Augustine lived in great spiritual danger, nurturing disordered loves and rejecting the truth of the gospel. He covered over his deep-seated unhappiness and moral fragility with theories of reality he imagined would exonerate him of any moral responsibility.

Monica shed tears over genuine evil. These were not worldly tears of self-pity brooding over failures in her maternal character. Neither did Monica blame the harshness of the world for her son’s character. Monica’s were profitable tears, and she sought a remedy in prayer and through a holy bishop. In her grief she sought to move Augustine to repentance.

The bishop, in his spiritual prudence, knew the best course: his intervention at that time would be inopportune and an impediment to the prodigal Augustine’s future conversion. That her tears did not move the saintly bishop to action does not imply they were in vain. On the contrary, they became a powerful intercessory prayer God was most disposed to answer—and he did. He was disposed to answer not because he needed any convincing, but because it is good for us to seek aid from God and receive it. In this case, Monica sought aid not only for herself, but for another.

Such was the prophecy of the bishop. Because of Monica’s tearful prayers to God for her son, Augustine would not be lost. God is disposed to answer our prayers, especially when we seek virtue for ourselves or others. St. Dominic himself was known to weep while praying: “what will become of sinners!” God is so disposed because it is good for us to seek from him what is truly good for ourselves and others. By doing so we depend on God, the giver of every good thing.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)”

Love, tears of joy,
Matthew

Jul 23 – St John Cassian (360-435 AD) – use BOTH hands!!!

Ambidextrous comes from the Latin word ambidexter, which, literally, means “right-handed on both sides”.


-by Br Philip Nolan, OP

“St. Paul often distinguishes between desires of the flesh and desires of the spirit, between those desires that entangle us with sin and those that draw us to God. These are at war within us, such that often we feel like St. Paul, who says “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do” (Rom 7:19). Despite our repeated failures to do the good, our felt need to “seek peace and pursue it” (Ps 34:14) spurs us to look for some sort of resolution.

John Cassian, whose Conferences were among St. Dominic’s favorite reading, writes that we can pursue this interior peace by becoming spiritually ambidextrous. What does he mean? He writes in the sixth conference that “our inner man consists in two parts, or as I might say, two hands.” The right hand refers to “his spiritual achievements.” His left hand refers to “when he is involved in the turmoil of trials; when the desires of his flesh are inflamed by seething emotions and impulses.” (Sorry, lefties!)

While it might seem that the right hand has to overpower the left hand in order for us to be at peace, Cassian argues that we have to learn how to use the left hand as a right hand—we have to become spiritually ambidextrous.

“No holy person can be without what we call the left hand, but perfect virtue is discerned in the fact that by proper use he turns both into a right hand … He seizes the arms of patience from adversity for the sake of exercising his virtue, uses both hands as right hands, and, having triumphed in both respects, snatches the palm of victory from the left as much as from the right.”

We cannot help but experience temptation. Cassian suggests, however, that moments of temptation can be as beneficial to our movement towards God as moments of consolation and obvious grace. God allows temptation and offers consolation for the same reason—that we may be saved.

Our many temptations to sin can become opportunities for victory in the ongoing spiritual battle by which we participate in God’s redemption of us. If we rest in our spiritual achievements alone—in the gifts and virtues we have received—then we will soon grow complacent and slack. If we focus exclusively on our sin and weakness, we will soon despair of change. But wielding both hands, right and left, in the practice of patience and desire for God, we grow stronger and more resolute in our pursuit of Him.”

Love, all-thumbs,
Matthew

Sep 29 – Michael, Gabriel, Raphael

-from a homily on the Gospels by Saint Gregory the Great, pope, Second Reading, Office of Readings, Liturgy of the Hours, for September 29th.

“You should be aware that the word “angel” denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels.

And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages.

Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform. In that holy city, where perfect knowledge flows from the vision of almighty God, those who have no names may easily by known. But personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they come among us. Thus, Michael means ‘Who is like God?’; Gabriel is ‘The Strength of God’; and, Raphael is ‘God’s Remedy.’

Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by His superior power. So also our ancient foe desired in his pride to be like God, saying: I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High. He will be allowed to remain in power until the end of the world when he will be destroyed in the final punishment. Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: A battle was fought with Michael the archangel.

So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One Who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle.

Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy.”

Love,
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

Prayer to St Joseph

I have a very special devotion to St Joseph as a man, a husband, a father, a man of silence, which I am not, unless praying. On my bureau, I recently added:

The idea being when you find it hard to sleep, give your worries and stresses to St Joseph. St Joseph received his communications from God while he slept. Write your worries down on a piece of paper and slip them under sleeping St Joseph and let him and God worry about them. You should go sleep in peace.  If there ever was one time in my life God spoke to me most directly, it was when when I slept Holy Thursday evening to Good Friday morning 1989.  It was powerful.  No words.  Just understanding and conviction.  Never happened before.  Never happened since.

“O Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in thee all my interests and desires. O Saint Joseph, assist me by thy powerful intercession and obtain for me all spiritual blessings through thy foster Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord, so that, having engaged here below thy heavenly power, I may offer thee my thanksgiving and homage.

O Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating thee and Jesus asleep in thine arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near thy heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.

Saint Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me.

At each day’s ending, Joseph,
you could take your rest knowing
Whom you had served, and how faithfully,
however badly things had gone, or however well.
My days’ endings so often bring regret —
for things said or left unsaid,
for things done or left undone,
for opportunities not seized.
In your goodness, pray to Jesus for me
that He would accept
even the marred pattern of my days,
make good the lack in each,
and give me day by day His grace
to do better.”

Love & peace,
Matthew

Dec 14 – “Thy dear Love can slay”


-by Br Philip Nolan, OP

“There is a story about how St. John of the Cross celebrated Christmas: “On Christmas day . . . St. John of the Cross, while at ease with his brethren at recreation, took the image of the Holy Infant from the Crib and danced round the room, singing all the while: “Mi dulce y tierno Jesús/‘My sweet and tender Jesus,/ If Thy dear love can slay,/ It is today’”. The austere Carmelite mystic of the sixteenth century, known for his spiritual writings and his reform of the Carmelite Order, burst out in song and dance like David before the Ark of the Covenant. God’s presence sometimes makes great men childlike, even giddy.

Saint John of the Cross, however, as his name suggests, knew something of the brutality of life as well. Some of his Carmelite brethren went so far as to imprison him and publicly punish him out of opposition to his reforms. And through the sufferings, St. John held fast to Christ. As he exclaims in Counsels of Light and Love, “Thou wilt not take from me, my God, that which once thou gavest me in Thine only Son Jesus Christ, in Whom Thou gavest me all that I desire; wherefore I shall rejoice that Thou wilt not tarry if I wait for Thee” (71–2). The Incarnation fulfills all our desires—if only we will ponder the manger in wonder. The baby Jesus is God’s perfect gift to us—if only we will wait patiently for His greatness to be manifest in our lives.

In watching and waiting in Advent, we wonder at how small the beginnings of our redemption seem. Even now redemption can seem far from our world: “O sweetest love of God that art so little known” (Counsels, 68). The reign of God burst into the world in the meekest of ways: “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given.” Now we prepare to see the babe in the manger, the silent work of God. We know that the Incarnation happened, that our “redemption is drawing near” -Lk 21:28

In the sure promise of redemption, the austerity and the name of St. John of the Cross begins to make sense. In the quiet of Bethlehem, God prepares for the crowds of Jerusalem. We begin with Him at the manger in Bethlehem and follow Him to the hill of Golgotha. God purifies our worldly desires as we take up the cross and follow Him. What begins in love, remains in love, and ends in love: ‘My sweet and tender Jesus,/ If Thy dear love can slay,/ It is today.'”

Love, and the victory of Love,
Matthew