Regina Caeli – Queen of Heaven, Rejoice!!!

I have to tell a tale on Kelly.  Forgive me, my love.  We joke about this all the time!  🙂  She finds it funny, too!  Not just me.

The first time I said the words “Regina Caeli” to Kelly, she thought I meant a person named Regina, a middle-aged Italian woman, she pictured in her mind.  So it has stuck.  🙂  We also think Rosetta Stone is an angry African-American woman!  🙂  “Oh, Hell no!” -Rosetta Stone.  My mother thought Dot Com was a friend of hers named Dorothy!  Yucks galore!  🙂  The “fun” never ends at our house.  Kelly and I, to the extreme chagrin and dismay of those who love us, have very similar senses of humor.

Regina caeli

V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Queen of Heaven

V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

In many Christian cultures, the greeting during Eastertide is:  “He is Risen!”  The appropriate response is:  “He is truly Risen!”  In communist bloc countries, during the Cold War, it was amended for safety sake, to become:  “The Comrade is returned!”  Response, “He is truly back!”

BrHumbertKilanowski
-by Br Humbert Kilanowski, OP (Br Humbert received his doctorate in mathematics at Ohio State University prior to entering the order.)

“Throughout this Easter season, one of the most commonly said prayers is the Regina caeli, a plea to Mary, the Mother of God, to rejoice in the Lord’s Resurrection. At our Dominican House of Studies, the prayer replaces both the Angelus, normally prayed at midday to commemorate the Annunciation (the moment at which God the Son took on human flesh), and the Salve Regina (which is our last prayer in the chapel each day). Even now, a month after Easter Sunday, Mary’s role in the mystery of the Resurrection pervades our prayer life. Even the Pope’s midday addresses to the crowds at St. Peter’s Square are called the Regina caeli speeches throughout the fifty days of Easter. Mary’s own assumption, by which she was caught up into Heaven, body and soul, at the end of her life on earth, shows that she has already participated fully in this mystery, having experienced her own resurrection. This raises a curious question, then: if Mary already has a glorified body in Heaven, and constantly looks upon the face of God, leaving nothing to be desired, why are we asking her to be happy?

One can imagine that Easter Sunday morning, how the first disciples to hear of Jesus’ Resurrection from the tomb and see his risen body must have rushed to Mary to tell her the news of great joy: as a hymn version of the prayer says, “Be joyful, Mary, heavenly queen/ Your Son who died was living seen.” Could that be the event that we recall with this frequent prayer?

While not recorded in Scripture, many writers within the tradition, such as St. Ignatius of Loyola, report that the risen Christ appeared to his mother before anyone else. (Fr. Romanus Cessario, O.P., relates this in his book The Seven Joys of Mary, whose title refers to a devotion that has taken many forms, including one, called the Franciscan Crown, that developed alongside the Rosary, and the Resurrection appearance is one of the mysteries.) If Jesus is the first to tell Mary about his Resurrection, by directly appearing to her, then the words of Regina caeli are His. That would cover the initial announcement, at least, but the rest would not seem to fit: it would be awkward for Christ to refer to Himself in the third person, after all.

The context of the prayer, and the joy of the Blessed Virgin, therefore must extend beyond the historical event of Jesus’ Resurrection, as momentous as it was. Truly, hearing that her same Son—whom she raised and whom she watched as he was obedient unto death on the Cross—has been transformed to the new life of the glorified body is a cause for celebration! Yet each Christian believer also participates in Jesus’ death and resurrection, through Baptism. For as St. Paul reminds us, “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4).

In addition to participating in Jesus’ Resurrection, which causes joy for us and for Mary, we also take part in being Mary’s children spiritually. As she who knew no pains in labor when she gave birth to Christ (St. Thomas Aquinas, ST III.35.6) became the mother of the Church through the pain of standing at the foot of the Cross, when Jesus gave her to His beloved disciple (John 19:27), Mary, the mother of all believers, spreads her Paschal joy to all her children. As Cessario says, “Mary’s unspeakable joy at the Resurrection of her Son catches on contagiously, and like the Easter fire spreads rapidly throughout the whole Church.” In asking Mary to rejoice, we ask all of the Church to exult as well.

Thus, every time that we recite or sing the Regina caeli, we share in the joy of the Mother of God and in the joy of the worldwide Church, a joy that flows from not only the Resurrection of Jesus, but also from each soul born of water and the Holy Spirit. And this rejoicing continues, and reaches its perfection, beyond this life. For just as the Dominican chant of the prayer switches from resurrexit (has risen) to jam ascendit (now ascends) at the upcoming feast of the Ascension, so Mary’s happiness, and ours, also stems from Jesus’ entry into the glory of the realm beyond this one, where we hope to follow both him and his mother, body and soul.

In this Easter season, and in Mary’s month of May, let us then ask the Queen of Heaven to “pray for us to God,” as the chant concludes, so that we may rejoice with her and her divine Son for all eternity.”


-Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, The Immaculate Conception, 1767-68, oil on canvas, Prado Museum, 281 × 155 cm (110.6 × 61 in), please click on the image for greater detail.

Love,
Matthew

The Days of Socially Acceptable Christianity Are Over!

-by Robert P. George, delivered at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, 5/13/14, Wash DC

http://www.princeton.edu/admission/whatsdistinctive/facultyprofiles/george/

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Robert P. George, McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University and chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, delivers the “lay guest speaker” address at the 10th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Washington, D.C., May 13, 2014.

Ashamed of the Gospel?

“The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic witness to the truths of the Gospel. A price is demanded and must be paid. There are costs of discipleship-heavy costs, costs that are burdensome and painful to bear.

Of course, one can still safely identify oneself as a “Catholic,” and even be seen going to Mass. That is because the guardians of those norms of cultural orthodoxy that we have come to call “political correctness” do not assume that identifying as “Catholic” or going to Mass necessarily means that one actually believes what the Church teaches on issues such as marriage and sexual morality and the sanctity of human life.

And if one in fact does not believe what the Church teaches, or, for now at least, even if one does believe those teachings but is prepared to be completely silent about them, one is safe-one can still be a comfortable Catholic. In other words, a tame Catholic, a Catholic who is ashamed of the Gospel-or who is willing to act publicly as if he or she were ashamed-is still socially acceptable. But a Catholic who makes it clear that he or she is not ashamed is in for a rough go-he or she must be prepared to take risks and make sacrifices. “If,” Jesus said, “anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.” We American Catholics, having become comfortable, had forgotten, or ignored, that timeless Gospel truth. There will be no ignoring it now.

The question we face

The question each of us today must face is this: Am I ashamed of the Gospel?  And that question opens others: Am I prepared to pay the price that will be demanded if I refuse to be ashamed, if, in other words, I am prepared to give public witness to the massive politically incorrect truths of the Gospel, truths that the mandarins of an elite culture shaped by the dogmas of expressive individualism and me-generation liberalism do not wish to hear spoken? Or, put more simply, am I willing, or am I, in the end, unwilling, to take up my cross and follow Christ?

Powerful forces and currents in our society press us to be ashamed of the Gospel-ashamed of the good, ashamed of our faith’s teachings on the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions, ashamed of our faith’s teachings on marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. These forces insist that the Church’s teachings are out of date, retrograde, insensitive, uncompassionate, illiberal, bigoted-even hateful. These currents bring pressure on all of us-and on young Catholics in particular-to yield to this insistence. They threaten us with consequences if we refuse to call what is good evil, and what is evil good. They command us to conform our thinking to their orthodoxy, or else say nothing at all.

Do you believe, as I believe, that every member of the human family, irrespective of age or size or stage of development or condition of dependency, is the bearer of inherent dignity and an equal right to life? Do you hold that the precious child in the womb, as a creature made in the very image and likeness of God, deserves respect and protection? Then, powerful people and institutions say, you are a misogynist-a hater of women, someone who poses a threat to people’s privacy, an enemy of women’s “reproductive freedom.” You ought to be ashamed!

Do you believe, as I believe, that the core social function of marriage is to unite a man and woman as husband and wife to be mother and father to children born of their union? Do you hold, as I hold, that the norms that shape marriage as a truly conjugal partnership are grounded in its procreative nature-its singular aptness for the project of child-rearing? Do you understand marriage as the uniquely comprehensive type of bond-comprehensive in that it unites spouses in a bodily way and not merely at the level of hearts and minds-that is oriented to and would naturally be fulfilled by their conceiving and rearing children together? Then these same forces say you are a homophobe, a bigot, someone who doesn’t believe in equality. You even represent a threat to people’s safety. You ought to be ashamed!

But, of course, what you believe, if you believe these things, is a crucial part of the Gospel. You believe the truth-in its fullness-about the dignity of the human person and the nature of marriage and sexual morality as proclaimed by the Church-our only secure source of understanding the Gospel message. So when you are invited to distance yourself from these teachings or go silent about them, when you are threatened with opprobrium or the loss of professional opportunities or social standing if you do not, you are being pressured to be ashamed of the Gospel-which means to give up faith in the Lordship of Christ and hope in the triumph of goodness, righteousness, and love in and through Him.

Heavy costs

To be a witness to the Gospel today is to make oneself a marked man or woman. It is to expose oneself to scorn and reproach. To unashamedly proclaim the Gospel in its fullness is to place in jeopardy one’s security, one’s personal aspirations and ambitions, the peace and tranquility one enjoys, one’s standing in polite society. One may in consequence of one’s public witness be discriminated against and denied educational opportunities and the prestigious credentials they may offer; one may lose valuable opportunities for employment and professional advancement; one may be excluded from worldly recognition and honors of various sorts; one’s witness may even cost one treasured friendships. It may produce familial discord and even alienation from family members. Yes, there are costs of discipleship-heavy costs.

There was a time, not long ago, when things were quite different….Biblical and natural law beliefs about morality were culturally normative; they were not challenges to cultural norms. But those days are gone. What was once normative is now regarded as heretical-the moral and cultural equivalent of treason. And so, here we are.

You see, for us, as for our faithful Evangelical friends, it is now Good Friday. The memory of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem has faded. Yes, he had been greeted-and not long ago-by throngs of people waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David.” He rode into the Jerusalem of Europe and the Jerusalem of the Americas and was proclaimed Lord and King. But all that is now in the past. Friday has come. The love affair with Jesus and his Gospel and his Church is over. Elite sectors of the cultures of Europe and North America no longer welcome his message. “Away with him,” they shout. “Give us Barabbas!”

The days of comfortable Catholicism are past

So for us there is no avoiding the question: Am I ashamed of the Gospel? Am I unwilling to stand with Christ by proclaiming His truths? Oh, things were easy on Palm Sunday. Standing with Jesus and His truths was the in thing to do. Everybody was shouting “Hosanna.” But now it’s Friday, and the days of acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. Jesus is before Pilate. The crowds are shouting “crucify him.” The Lord is being led to Calvary. Jesus is being nailed to the cross.

And where are we? Where are you and I? Are we afraid to be known as his disciples? Are we ashamed of the Gospel?

Will we muster the strength, the courage, the faith to be like Mary the Mother of Jesus, and like John, the apostle whom Jesus loved, and stand faithfully at the foot of the cross? Or will we, like all the other disciples, flee in terror? Fearing to place in jeopardy the wealth we have piled up, the businesses we have built, the professional and social standing we have earned, the security and tranquility we enjoy, the opportunities for worldly advancement we cherish, the connections we have cultivated, the relationships we treasure, will we silently acquiesce to the destruction of innocent human lives or the demolition of marriage? Will we seek to “fit in,” to be accepted, to live comfortably in the new Babylon? If so, our silence will speak. Its words will be the words of Peter, warming himself by the fire: “Jesus the Nazorean? I tell you, I do not know the man.”

Perhaps I should make explicit what you have no doubt perceived as implicit in my remarks. The saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ includes, integrally, the teachings of His church on the profound and inherent dignity of the human person and the nature of marriage as a conjugal bond-a one-flesh union. The question of faith and fidelity that is put to us today is not in the form it was put to Peter-“surely you are you this man’s disciple”-it is, rather, do you stand for the sanctity of human life and the dignity of marriage as the union of husband and wife? These teachings are not the whole Gospel-Christianity requires much more than their affirmation. But they are integral to the Gospel-they are not optional or dispensable. To be an authentic witness to the Gospel is to proclaim these truths among the rest. The Gospel is, as St. John Paul the Great said, a Gospel of Life. And it is a Gospel of family life, too. And it is these integral dimensions of the Gospel that powerful cultural forces and currents today demand that we deny or suppress.

History is not our judge

These forces tell us that our defeat in the causes of marriage and human life are inevitable. They warn us that we are on the “wrong side of history.” They insist that we will be judged by future generations the way we today judge those who championed racial injustice in the Jim Crow South. But history does not have sides. It is an impersonal and contingent sequence of events, events that are determined in decisive ways by human deliberation, judgment, choice, and action. The future of marriage and of countless human lives can and will be determined by our judgments and choices-our willingness or unwillingness to bear faithful witness, our acts of courage or cowardice. Nor is history, or future generations, a judge invested with god-like powers to decide, much less dictate, who was right and who was wrong. The idea of a “judgment of history” is secularism’s vain, meaningless, hopeless, and pathetic attempt to devise a substitute for what the great Abrahamic traditions of faith know is the final judgment of Almighty God. History is not God. God is God. History is not our judge. God is our judge.

One day we will give an account of all we have done and failed to do. Let no one suppose that we will make this accounting to some impersonal sequence of events possessing no more power to judge than a golden calf or a carved and painted totem pole. It is before God-the God of truth, the Lord of history-that we will stand. And as we tremble in His presence it will be no use for any of us to claim that we did everything in our power to put ourselves on “the right side of history.”

One thing alone will matter: Was I a faithful witness to the Gospel? Did I do everything in my power to place myself on the side of truth? The One whose only begotten Son tells us that He, and He alone, is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” will want to know from each of us whether we sought the truth with a pure and sincere heart, whether we sought to live by the truth authentically and with integrity, and-let me say this with maximum clarity-whether we stood up for the truth, speaking it out loud and in public, bearing the costs of discipleship that are inevitably imposed on faithful witnesses to truth by cultures that turn away from God and his law. Or were we ashamed of the Gospel?

The Gospel is true. The whole Gospel is true. Its teachings about life and marriage are true-even its hardest sayings, such as Christ’s clear teaching about the indissolubility of what God has united and about the adulterous nature of any sexual relation outside that bond.

“I do not know the man”

If we deny truths of the Gospel, we really are like Peter, avowing that “I do not know the man.” If we go silent about them, we really are like the other apostles, fleeing in fear. But when we proclaim the truths of the Gospel, we really do stand at the foot of the cross with Mary the Mother of Jesus and John the disciple whom Jesus loved. We show by our faithfulness that we are notashamed of the Gospel. We prove that we are truly Jesus’s disciples, willing to take up his cross and follow him-even to Calvary.

And we bear witness by our fidelity to the greatest truth of all, namely, that the story does not end at Golgotha. Evil and death do not triumph. Yes, it is Good Friday, but the One who became like us in all things but sin conquers death to redeem us from our transgressions and give us a full share in eternal life-the divine life of the most blessed Trinity. The cross cannot defeat Him. The sepulcher cannot hold Him. His heavenly Father will not abandon Him. The psalm that begins in despair, Eloi, Eloi lama sabachtani, ends in hope and joy. Easter is coming. The crucified Christ will be raised from the dead. The chains of sin will be broken. “Oh death, where is thy victory? Oh death, where is thy sting?”

I grew up as a Catholic in a Protestant culture. The Protestants of my boyhood were what we today call Evangelicals. In those days, the religious differences between us seemed vast, though today the personal and spiritual bonds we have formed in bearing common witness to marriage and the sanctity of human life have relativized, though, of course, not eliminated, those differences. We now know that Evangelical Protestants are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ-separated from us in certain ways, to be sure, but bound together with us nevertheless in spiritual fellowship. Growing up, I admired the strength of their faith, and their willingness openly to profess it. And I loved their hymns. One of the most familiar ones contains a vital message for us Catholics today. You will recognize the first verse:

On a hill faraway, stood an old rugged cross,

The emblem of suffering and shame;

I love that old cross, where the dearest and best,

For a world of lost sinners was slain.

And the chorus goes:

I will cherish the old rugged cross,

Till my trophies at last I lay down.

I will cling to the old rugged cross,

And exchange it someday for a crown.

Yes, there’s the story. Christ must endure the sufferings of Good Friday to fulfill His salvific mission. But Easter is coming. And we, who cherish His cross, and are willing to bear His suffering and shame, will share in His glorious resurrection. We who cling to that old rugged cross will exchange it someday for a crown.

And then comes the next verse, and how perfectly it captures the attitude we must adopt, the stance we must take, the witness we must give, in these times of trial if we are to be true disciples of Jesus:

To the old rugged cross, I will ever be true,

Its shame and reproach gladly bear,

Till he calls me someday, to my home far away,

Where forever his glory I’ll share.

Yes.

And I’ll cherish that old rugged cross,

Till my trophies at last I lay down.

I will cling to the old rugged cross,

And exchange it someday for a crown.

Yes, for us Catholics and all who seek to be faithful, it’s Good Friday. We are no longer acceptable. We can no longer be comfortable. It is for us a time of trial, a time of testing by adversity. But lest we fail the test, as perhaps many will do, let us remember that Easter is coming. Jesus will vanquish sin and death. We will experience fear, just as the apostles did-that is inevitable. Like Jesus himself in Gethsemane, we would prefer not to drink this cup. We would much rather be acceptable Christians, comfortable Catholics. But our trust in Him, our hope in His Resurrection, our faith in the sovereignty of His heavenly Father can conquer fear. By the grace of Almighty God, Easter is indeed coming. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel. Never be ashamed of the Gospel.”

Rom 12:1

Sinner, hypocrite, denier of my Lord that I am, pray for me.

I am always keen for new martyrs, starting w/myself.  “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” (Apologeticus, Chapter 50, 197 AD), Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullian.  Sometime after his conversion to the Christian faith, Tertullian left the Catholic Church in favor of Montanism.

Love,
Matthew

Letter from a Survivor of Clergy Sexual Abuse

March 30, 2009

(handwritten)
Dear Matt,

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement, and for the beautiful crucifix. The crucifix is just the right size to fit in the palm of my hand and that’s how I fall asleep at night, holding on tight to it.

And, congratulations on your (new) daughter. I didn’t even know you were expecting a baby. It warms my heart to know that your new baby girl has parents who will not only love and provide for her, but will also teach her the things she needs to know to keep herself safe from sexual predators.

You truly are a leader and a warrior in God’s army. I saw that in the first VOTF meeting I attended. Keeping kids safe from sexual predators is a fight, but it’s a GOOD fight! As in 1 Tim 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith!”

When I am well again (Ed: this person suffers from debilitating, chronic, clinical depression, and this often causes absences for periods time) I will be rejoining in that fight. My depression is just part of the collateral damage of what was done to me as a kid. But, I’ll come out of it. I always do.

Finally, I want to thank you for keeping keeping me in your prayers. That means MORE to me than you know. In my state of mind, it is REALLY hard to pray, so to know that you have me “covered” in prayer really helps.

All the best to your wife and your precious baby girl. And know that when I CAN pray, I’ll be keeping you in the MY prayers.

In His Love,
(A Survivor of Clergy Sexual Abuse)

May 21 – St Eugene de Mazenod, OMI, (1782-1861), Bishop of Marseille, founder of the Congregation of the Missionaries, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, “A 2nd Paul”

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CHARLES JOSEPH EUGENE DE MAZENOD came into a world that was destined to change very quickly. Born in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France on August 1, 1782, he seemed assured of position and wealth from his family, who were of the minor nobility. However, the turmoil of the French Revolution changed all that forever. When Eugene was just eight years old his family fled France, leaving their possessions behind, and started a long and increasingly difficult eleven year exile.

The Years in Italy

The Mazenod family, political refugees, trailed through a succession of cities in Italy. His father, who had been President of the Court of Accounts, Aids and Finances in Aix, was forced to try his hand at trade to support his family. He proved to be a poor businessman, and as the years went on the family came close to destitution. Eugene studied briefly at the College of Nobles in Turin, but a move to Venice meant the end to formal schooling. A sympathetic priest, Don Bartolo Zinelli, living nearby, undertook to educate the young French emigre. Don Bartolo gave the adolescent Eugene a fundamental education, but with a lasting sense of God and a regimen of piety which was to stay with him always, despite the ups and downs of his life. A further move to Naples, because of financial problems, led to a time of boredom and helplessness. The family moved again, this time to Palermo where, thanks to the kindness of the Duke and Duchess of Cannizzaro, Eugene had his first taste of noble living and found it very much to his liking. He took to himself the title of “Count” de Mazenod, did all the courtly things, and dreamed of a bright future.

Return to France: the Priesthood

In 1802, at the age of 20, Eugene was able to return to his homeland – and all his dreams and illusions were quickly shattered. He was just plain “Citizen” de Mazenod, France was a changed world, his parents had separated, his mother was fighting to get back the family possessions. She was also intent on marrying off Eugene to the richest possible heiress. He sank into depression, seeing little real future for himself. But his natural qualities of concern for others, together with the faith fostered in Venice began to assert themselves. He was deeply affected by the disastrous situation of the French Church, which had been ridiculed, attacked and decimated by the Revolution. A calling to the priesthood began to manifest itself, and Eugene answered that call. Despite opposition from his mother, he entered the seminary of St. Sulpice in Paris, and on December 21, 1811, he was ordained a priest in Amiens.

Apostolic endeavours: Oblates of Mary Immaculate

Returning to Aix-en-Provence, he did not take up a normal parish appointment, but started to exercise his priesthood in the care of the truly spiritually needy-prisoners, youth, servants, country villagers. Often in the face of opposition from the local clergy, Eugene pursued his course. Soon he sought out other equally zealous priests who were prepared to step outside the old, even outmoded, structures. Eugene and his men preached in Provencal, the language of the common people, not in “educated” French. From village to village they went, instructing at the level of the people, spending amazingly long hours in the confessional. In between these parish missions the group joined in an intense community life of prayer, study and fellowship. They called themselves “Missionaries of Provence”. However, so that there would be an assured continuity in the work, Eugene took the bold step of going directly to the Pope and asking that his group be recognized officially as a Religious Congregation of pontifical right. His faith and his persistence paid off-and on February 17, 1826, Pope Leo XII approved the new Congregation, the “Oblates of Mary Immaculate”. Eugene was elected Superior General, and continued to inspire and guide his men for 35 years, until his death. Together with their growing apostolic endeavours-preaching, youth work, care of shrines, prison chaplaincy, confessors, direction of seminaries, parishes – Eugene insisted on deep spiritual formation and a close community life. He was a man who loved Christ with passion and was always ready to take on any apostolate if he saw it answering the needs of the Church. The “glory of God, the good of the Church and the sanctification of souls” were impelling forces for him.

Bishop of Marseilles

The Diocese of Marseilles had been suppressed after the 1802 Concordat, and when it was re-established, Eugene’s aged uncle, Canon Fortune de Mazenod, was named Bishop. He appointed Eugene Vicar General immediately, and most of the difficult work of re-building the Diocese fell to him. Within a few years, in 1832, Eugene himself was named auxiliary bishop. His Episcopal ordination took place in Rome, in defiance of the pretensions of the French Government that it had the right to sanction all such appointments. This caused a bitter diplomatic battle, and Eugene was caught in the middle, with accusations, misunderstandings, threats, and recriminations swirling around him. It was an especially devastating time for him, further complicated by the growing pains of his religious family. Though battered, Eugene steered ahead resolutely, and finally the impasse was broken. Five years later, he was appointed to the See of Marseilles as its Bishop, when Bishop Fortune retired.

A heart as big as the world

While he had founded the Oblates of Mary Immaculate primarily to serve the spiritually needy and deprived of the French countryside, Eugene’s zeal for the Kingdom of God and his devotion to the Church moved the Oblates to the advancing edge of the apostolate. His men ventured into Switzerland, England, Ireland. Because of his zeal, Eugene had been dubbed “a second Paul,” and bishops from the missions came to him asking for Oblates for their expanding mission fields. Eugene responded willingly despite small initial numbers, and sent his men out to Canada, to the United States, to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), to South Africa, to Basutoland (Lesotho). As missionaries in his mold, they fanned out preaching, baptising, caring. They frequently opened up previously uncharted lands, established and manned many new dioceses, and in a multitude of ways they “left nothing undared that the Kingdom of Christ might be advanced.” In the years that followed, the Oblate mission thrust continued, so that today the impulse of Eugene de Mazenod is alive in his men in 68 different countries.

Pastor of his Diocese

During all this ferment of missionary activity, Eugene was an outstanding pastor of the Church of Marseilles-ensuring the best seminary training for his priests, establishing new parishes, building the city’s cathedral and the spectacular Shrine of Notre Dame de la Garde above the city, encouraging his priests to lives of holiness, introducing many Religious Congregations to work in the diocese, leading his fellow Bishops in support of the rights of the Pope. He grew into a towering figure in the French Church. In 1856, Napoleon III appointed him a Senator, and at his death he was the senior bishop of France.

Legacy of a Saint

May 21, 1861, saw Eugene de Mazenod returning to his God, at the age of 79, after a life crowded with achievements, many of them born in suffering. For his religious family and for his diocese, he was a founding and life-giving source: for God and for the Church, he was a faithful and generous son. As he lay dying he left his Oblates a final testament, “Among yourselves-charity, charity, charity: in the world-zeal for souls.” The Church in declaring him a saint on December 3, 1995, crowns these two pivots of his living-love and zeal. His life and his deeds remain for all a window unto God Himself. And that is the greatest gift that Eugene de Mazenod, Oblate of Mary Immaculate, can offer us.

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“I am a priest, a priest of Jesus Christ. That says it all.” – Saint Eugene

“The Oblates [of Mary Immaculate] are the specialists of difficult missions.” – Pope Pius XI

“Go to Marseilles. There is a bishop there whose Congregation is still small, but the man himself has a heart as big as Saint Paul‘s, as big as the world.” – contemporary bishop speaking of Bishop de Mazenod

“Their ambition will be to encompass in their holy desires the immense breadth of the entire world.” – Saint Eugene, speaking of his missionaries; at the time, there were ten of them

“To love the Church is to love Jesus Christ, and vice versa.” – Saint Eugene

“We glorify God in the masterpiece of his power and love…it is the Son whom we honor in the person of his Mother.” – Saint Eugene

“Leave nothing undared for the Kingdom of God.” – Saint Eugene

“Learn who you are in the eyes of God.” – Saint Eugene

“Avoid giving the impression that you act like the Master.”  -St Eugene

“Practice amongst yourselves charity, charity, charity…and zeal for the salvation of souls.” – Saint Eugene to Oblate members as he lay dying

“I find my happiness in pastoral work. It is for this that I am a bishop, and not to write books, still less to pay court to the great, or to waste my time among the rich. It is true…that this is not the way to become a cardinal, but if one could become a saint, would it not be better still?” – Saint Eugene de Mazenod, OMI

“If priests could be formed, afire with zeal for men’s salvation, solidly grounded in virtue – in a word, apostolic men deeply conscious of the need to reform themselves, who would labor with all the resources at their command to convert others – then there would be ample reason to believe that in a short while people who had gone astray might be brought back to the long neglected duties of religion. We pledge ourselves to all the works of zeal that priestly charity can inspire… We must spare no effort to extend the Savior’s Empire and destroy the dominion of hell.” – Saint Eugene de Mazenod, OMI

“Every religious congregation in the Church has a spirit all its own; it is inspired by the Spirit of God to respond to the needs of the Church to work for the salvation of souls. By our particular vocation we are involved with the redemption of humanity… May we, by the sacrifice of our whole being, so cooperate as not to render His redemption fruitless for ourselves and for those we are called upon to evangelize. “– Saint Eugene de Mazenod, OMI

“Servants! Farmhands! Peasants! Poor! Come and learn who you are in the eyes of God. You poor of Jesus Christ, you afflicted, unfortunate suffering, infirm, diseased: all you who are burdened with misery, listen to me! You are the children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, co-heirs of His eternal kingdom, His cherished inheritance. Lift up your minds: you are the children of God. Look through the tatters that cover you. There is an immortal soul within you made to the image of God, a soul redeemed at the price of the very blood of Jesus, more precious in the eyes of God than all the riches and all the kingdoms of this earth. Know your dignity – you even share the Divine Nature – Children of God, Children of the Most High!” – Saint Eugene de Mazenod, OMI

“How should men who want to follow in the footsteps of their divine Master Jesus Christ conduct themselves if they are to win back the many souls who have thrown off his yoke? They must strive to be saints. They must walk courageously along the same paths trodden by so many before them who handed on splendid examples of virtue they must wholly renounce themselves, striving solely for the glory of God, the good of the Church, and the growth and salvation of souls. The Oblates are a Missionary Congregation. They are men set apart for the Gospel, men ready to leave everything to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Their principal service in the Church is to proclaim Christ and his kingdom to the most abandoned. They preach the Gospel among people who have not yet received it. Where the Church is already established, their commitment is to those groups it touches least. The mission of the Oblate is especially to those people whose condition cries out for salvation and for the hope which only Jesus Christ can fully bring. These are the poor with their many faces – they have our preference because of their need Our mission is to proclaim the kingdom of God and seek it before all else. We fulfill this mission in community; and our communities are a sign that in Jesus, God is everything for us. Together we await Christ’s coming in the fullness of his justice so that God may be all in all. The cross of Jesus Christ is central to our mission. Like the apostle Paul, we “preach Christ and him crucified.” If we bear in our body the death of Jesus, it is with the hope that the life of Jesus, too, may be seen in our body. Through the eyes of our crucified Savior, we see the world which he redeemed with his blood, desiring that those in whom he continues to suffer will know also the power of his resurrection. Growing in faith, hope and love, we commit ourselves to be a leaven of the Beatitudes at the heart of the world. Our mission requires that, in a radical way, we follow Jesus who was chaste and poor, and who redeemed mankind by his obedience. That is why, through a gift of the Father, we choose the way of the evangelical counsels.” – extracts from the Rule of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Love,
Matthew

Easter

burnand-peter-john-running800x484“The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection”, 1898, Eugène Burnand, please click on the image for greater detail

http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/the-greatest-easter-painting-ever-made

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-by Elise Ehrhard

“Tucked away in a central Parisian museum that was once a railway station, there hangs an Easter painting quite unlike any Gospel masterpiece created before or after it. It is not painted by a Rembrandt or a Rubens or the patron saint of artists, Fra Angelico. The painting is the work of a little-known Swiss painter. For those who make a trip to see it, viewing the canvas is a special spiritual experience in their lives.

The work does not even show the risen Jesus. It merely portrays two witnesses, Jesus’ oldest and youngest apostle. The youngest who was the only man brave enough to stay by Jesus’ cross and the only one who did not die a martyr’s death as a result of it. The oldest apostle who first denied Jesus in fear, yet ultimately chose to be crucified upside down by the Roman authorities rather than deny Christ’s resurrection.

In “The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection” by Eugène Burnand, John clasps his hand in prayer while Peter holds his hand over his heart. The viewer feels the rush as their hair and cloaks fly back with the wind. They are sprinting towards discovery of the moment that forever altered heaven and earth. As you look at it, engage for a moment in what the Catholic blogger Bill Donaghy calls “the visual equivalent of Lectio Divina.” As Donaghy notes, “This Resurrection scene does not put us before still figures near a stagnant stone, or figures standing with stony faces in a contrived, plastic posture, pointing to an empty tomb. This scene is dynamic; WE ARE IN MOTION!!!!!![Editor’s emphasis]”  [Editor:  We all are.  But, to where?  Each/all must answer that question of/in life.  No exceptions.  Not choosing IS a choice.]

During his time, Burnand was fascinated by the possibilities of the emerging art of photography. Ironically, he would later be dismissed in the twentieth century as too “bourgeois” and anti-modernist when in fact he was merging his love of tradition with his interest in new technological ways of capturing the human person. His painting feels cinematic long before cinema existed as a major art form.

Through the movement and immediacy of the scene, the preceding minutes with Mary Magdalene are palpable. In a sense, she is in the painting too. “You can almost hear her voice in the background, can you not, a few minutes earlier, as she burst into their house…” writes the Episcopal Bishop Dorsey McConnell in an Easter sermon meditating on the painting.”

Happy Easter!

Love,
Matthew

May 10 – St Damien de Veuster, SSCC, (1840-1889) – Priest & Leper, Martyr of Charity, Martyr of Love, Patron of Leprosy, Outcasts, & those with HIV

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St Damien of Molokai photoshop
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Born in Tremelo, Belgium, on January 3, 1840, the seventh child and fourth son of the Flemish corn merchant Joannes Franciscus (“Frans”) De Veuster and his wife Anne-Catherine (“Cato”) Wouters; following in the footsteps of his sisters Eugénie and Pauline (who became nuns) and brother Auguste, who became a priest of the same order, he joined the Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary Fathers, aka Picpus Fathers, in 1860. He was born Joseph and received the name Damien in religious life.

His superiors thought that he was not a good candidate for the priesthood because he lacked education. However, he was not considered unintelligent. Because he learned Latin well from his brother, his superiors decided to allow him to become a priest. During his ecclesiastical studies, he would pray every day before a picture of St. Francis Xavier, SJ, patron of missionaries, to be sent on a mission.  When his brother became ill and could not be sent on a mission to Hawaii, Damien went in his place.

In 1864, he was sent to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he was ordained. For the next nine years he worked in missions on the big island, Hawaii. In 1873, he went to the leper colony on Molokai, after volunteering for the assignment.

Hawaiians who contracted the disease were forcibly deported to Molokai under government sanctioned quarantine.  Dumped like so much trash, to live or to die, inconsequential, as fate may determine.  Damien cared for lepers of all ages, but was particularly concerned about the children segregated in the colony.

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infection caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Initially infections are without symptoms and typically remain this way for 5 to as long as 20 years. Symptoms that develop include granulomas of the nerves, respiratory tract, skin, and eyes.

This may result in a lack of ability to feel pain and thus loss of parts of extremities due to repeated injuries. Weakness and poor eyesight may also be present. It is believed to be transmitted by respiratory droplets. It is not very contagious, 95% of humans are immune to the disease, but this was not known before recently.

You have to be up close and personal for an extended period of time to contract the disease, such as a priest might be in the care of his flock; the unwanted, the abandoned, the diseased, the repulsive to look at, the impossible to touch.  Literally, “untouchables”.

Kalaupapa and Kalawao, where the leper colonies were located, is on the eastern end of the Kalaupapa peninsula on the island of Molokaʻi. Kalawao County, where the villages are located, is divided from the rest of Molokaʻi by a steep mountain ridge, and even now the only land access to it is by a mule trail. About 8,000 Hawaiians were sent to the Kalaupapa peninsula from 1866 through 1969.

Father Damien announced he was a leper in 1885 and continued to build hospitals, clinics, and churches, and some six hundred coffins.  He dressed ulcers, built homes and furniture, made coffins, and dug graves.  Before his arrival, a hopeless people were descending into a hell of hopelessness, in drunkenness and lewd conduct.  Under his leadership, basic laws were enforced, shacks became painted houses, working farms were organized, and schools were established.

He died on 8am, April 15 , 1889, at the age of 49.

Hawaiian King David Kalākaua bestowed on Damien the honor “Knight Commander of the Royal Order of Kalākaua”. When Princess Lydia Liliʻuokalani visited the settlement to present the medal, she was reported as having been too distraught and heartbroken to read her speech.

The most well-known treatise against Damien was by a Honolulu Presbyterian, Reverend Charles McEwen Hyde, in a letter dated August 2, 1889, to a fellow pastor, Reverend H. B. Gage; in it, Hyde referred to Father Damien as “a coarse, dirty man” whose leprosy should be attributed to his “carelessness”.

In 1889, Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and his family arrived in Hawaii for an extended stay. While there Stevenson, also a Presbyterian, drafted a famous open letter as a rebuttal in defense of Damien.

Prior to writing his letter, dated February 25, 1890, Stevenson stayed on Molokaʻi for eight days and seven nights, during which he kept a diary. In the letter Stevenson answered Hyde’s criticisms point by point. He sought testimony from critical Protestants who knew the man, which he recorded in his diary. The treatise included some extracts, like the following, which upbraided Rev. Hyde for his fault finding:

“But, sir, when we have failed, and another has succeeded; when we have stood by, and another has stepped in; when we sit and grow bulky in our charming mansions, and a plain, uncouth peasant steps into the battle, under the eyes of God, and succors the afflicted, and consoles the dying, and is himself afflicted in his turn, and dies upon the field of honor – the battle cannot be retrieved as your unhappy irritation has suggested. It is a lost battle, and lost for ever. One thing remained to you in your defeat – some rags of common honor; and these you have made haste to cast away.”

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“Not without fear and loathing,” Pope Benedict underlined, “Father Damian made the choice to go on the island of Molokai in the service of lepers who were there, abandoned by all. So he exposed himself to the disease of which they suffered. With them he felt at home. The servant of the Word became a suffering servant, leper with the lepers, during the last four years of his life.”

He continued, “To follow Christ, Father Damian not only left his homeland, but has also staked his health so he, as the word of Jesus announced in today’s Gospel tells us, received eternal life.”

The figure of Father Damian, Benedict XVI added, “teaches us to choose the good fight not those that lead to division, but those that gather us together in unity.”

In Saint Damien’s role as the unofficial patron of those with HIV and AIDS, the world’s only Roman Catholic memorial chapel to those who have died of this disease, at the Église Saint-Pierre-Apôtre in Montreal, Quebec, is consecrated to him.

“I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ.”
-St Damien de Veuster, SSCC

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POPE FRANCIS' GENERAL AUDIENCE

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Love,
Matthew

What does it mean to be “Alive!”?

-by Br Thomas Davenport, OP (Br Thomas graduated from Stanford University with a PhD in Physics before joining the order.)

“As someone who has made it far enough into your day to turn on your computer and start reading this blog post, I doubt that you are harboring many doubts about whether or not you are alive, let alone whether life exists at all. It might surprise you to know that this exact worry was aired in a recent op-ed by Ferris Jabr, an editor for Scientific American. He boldly claims that nothing is truly alive and, what’s more, that this knowledge is “liberating.”

On the surface, life seems like one of the most obvious parts of nature to understand. The squirrel runs, the rock doesn’t. The seed sprouts and grows into a full blown tree, the log just sits there. Some things move and grow and reproduce of their own accord, other things need a good shove to get them going. The difficulty, as always, is in the details. Growing crystals, self-replicating molecules and parasitic viruses seem to mimic some of the powers we attribute to life, and provide counter-examples that make the definition of life more difficult for biologists to nail down.

Jabr’s revelation is that we need not be worried about the definition of life, because life is merely a mental construct anyways—there is nothing there to define. He argues that because there is no identifiable property or set of properties that scientists have been able to agree upon as the defining aspect of life, it simply is not there. Life is a “pure concept” that can be useful at times, but can just as easily be set aside. Everything that exists is really just a particular arrangement of fundamental particles, and we can find some of the features of life at many different levels of these arrangements from chemicals to whole biospheres. Life just becomes a useful way of labelling certain kinds of complexity we encounter in the real world and, unbound by a hard and fast definition, we are free to use it as we see fit.

Needless to say, there are a whole host of objections to Jabr’s proposal—scientific, philosophical, and theological. In fact, it’s a bit hard to decide where exactly to begin. One could argue for a robust definition of life as an internal principle of movement, object to Jabr’s implicit reductionism that assumes we can simply explain everything as collections of molecules, or present the whole host of ethical and legal ramifications to trivializing the concept of life.

Here, I simply want to link Jabr’s argument to a number of other skeptical arguments that seek to overturn common sense ideas in the name of science—and argue we’re better off for it. It’s an undeniable fact that modern science, particularly since the beginning of the twentieth century, has revealed that the world we live in is more complicated, wonderful, and at times bizarre than people ever expected. Nevertheless, the fact that we now take for granted almost unimaginable concepts like wave-particle duality and curved spacetime does not mean that the purpose or goal of science is to come up with weird ideas and to overturn our natural expectations. Scientific investigation of the very large and the very small did not reveal that our everyday assumptions completely fail. It clarified the bounds in which our everyday assumptions actually work, namely everyday applications.

Skeptics like to claim that a single difficult case can invalidate our preconceived notions, no matter how much previous experience and reasoning they are based on. Yet our understanding of the world and of nature, properly considered, need not be some well-constructed but fragile house of cards that cannot bear even the slightest jostle. Aristotle had a helpfully robust view of what it meant for something to be natural, namely that it happened “always or for the most part.” This is not simply a premodern “fudge factor,” but a deep insight into the fact that nature is at once usually reliable and a bit unpredictable, and this particular balance of consistency and fallibility allows for the beautiful order amongst all of its pieces.

While Aristotle applied the principle to understanding natural processes, in an analogous way we can apply it to our definitions and reasoning about those processes. Life is “always or for the most part” easily identifiable. The fact that there are inanimate substances that seem to mimic aspects of life need not destroy our confidence in the fact that there really is a difference between living and non-living. We should not look at difficult cases with fear for the possibility of life, but embrace them as a fascinating opportunity to work out the bounds of our understanding of life.

A full response to Jabr and his argument would need to actually address his concerns about the definition of life and the difficult cases he brings up. While I think just such a response is possible, it is worth noting that the skeptical perspective—that a few counter examples is all it takes to overturn consistent and well supported ideas about nature—has a tendency to create worries no one ever really had, and to solve them in a way no one really appreciates. A healthy view of natural philosophy can accept the corrective and enlightening role of difficult cases without fearing that it will lose the very foundation it was built upon in the process.”

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Rev 22:13

Love,
Matthew

Apr 29 – St Catherine of Siena, OP, (1347-1380), Seraphic Virgin, Doctor of the Church, “Lessons of Love”

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-by Br Athanasius Murphy, OP

“‘Love does not stay idle.” – St. Catherine of Siena, Letter T82

Can we really imitate a fourteenth century saint whose life had such great austerity, who fasted with such severity? What lesson can we learn from a Church Doctor whose diet was raw vegetables, whose sleep pattern was non-existent, and whose community was called the “Sisters of Penance”?

Admittedly St. Catherine of Siena’s life was one of penance. Bl. Raymund of Capua’s biography of her makes this clear enough. But I think it’s hard to make sense of St. Catherine’s life of penance unless you’ve made sense of her life of love. Here are a few short teachings from St. Catherine on love:

Love impels us to desire. If love is the reason why we desire, then love is the reason why we live. We can’t live without love because we always want to love something. Love moves us and unites us to the thing we love in order to rest in it. When we love something we don’t just want a superficial understanding of it, but we want what it really is, and nothing keeps us away from it.

St. Catherine knew how to fast because she knew how to love. Penance was admittedly part of her life and letters, but her literature is saturated with descriptions of love. It’s perhaps the single most common word in her letters. There are many goods in this life that we desire, but the supreme good – God, who gives us divine life, beatitude, ultimate happiness – this is the ultimate end that we strive to have in love. St. Catherine knew her need for love.  She often ended her letters with the salutation “Love, love, love one another, sweet Jesus, Jesus, Love.”

Love makes room. In love we forget about ourselves and make room for another. When we fast from little goods we make room for perfect love that comes from Love himself. In doing this we can see where we have false loves – when we love ourselves or another in a way that doesn’t reflect reality. Removing a false self-love in us, God makes room within us for Himself. But us loving God more means we become more of ourselves; there is more of us present in each act of love. God makes room in the temple of ourselves until he lead us to the Incorruptible Temple of Himself.

 by Agostino Carracci
-“The Ecstasy of St Catherine”, Agostino Carracci, 1590, Baroque, oil on canvas, Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy

Only in receiving this Divine Love could St. Catherine care for the sick and the poor and nurse plague victims the way she did. Love, not penance, was the foundation of her life:

“If, then, we made ourselves build on penance as a foundation, it might come to nothing and be so imperfect that we would seem to be deprived of God, and soon [we] would fall into weariness and bitterness…we should strive to give only a finished work to God Who is Infinite Love Who demands from us only infinite desire.” – Letter to Daniella of Orvieto

This divine love was the source of her own love towards those she cared for:

“God has loved us without being loved, but we love Him because we are loved…we cannot profit Him, nor love Him with this first love…In what way can we do this, then, since he demands it and we cannot give it to Him? I tell you…we can be useful, not to Him, which is impossible, but to our neighbor…love is gained in love by raising the eye of our mind to behold how much we are loved by God. Seeing ourselves loved, we cannot otherwise than love.” – Letter to Brother Bartolomeo Dominici

Love transforms. St. Catherine states that “love transforms one into what one loves” (Dialogue 60). In loving God, we become like the One we love. When two things are joined together, there can’t be anything between them, otherwise there wouldn’t be a complete union of them together. This is how God wants us to be with Him in love. Once we are removed from selfish love we can love God with the love with which He has first loved us. St. Catherine takes this transformative love to the highest level:

“The eternal Father said [to me], ‘If you should ask me what this soul is, I would say: she is another me, made so by the union of love.” (Dialogue 96)

By God’s love we become kneaded and knit into our Creator Who redeems us and lets us participate in His divine love.

Ultimately, St. Catherine’s love led her to a life of penance and service to her neighbor. There’s no saying it wasn’t a harsh life – she died at age 33 – but it was certainly a life lived in love. She saw all of her actions and penances tied up in the cross of Christ: a tree not of unnecessary torture and grief but a tree of love. St. Catherine wished to graft herself into that tree and so be joined to the fiery love that comes from Christ.

St. Catherine certainly had her share of penance, but I think the primary lessons she teaches us are in love. If you want a reason for St. Catherine’s penitential life, look to Christ who loved her with an infinite love. Cling to Christ as the One Who lives and Who wants to live in you.”

“Let the eye of understanding rest on the Cross always. Here you’ll discover true virtue and fall in love with it.”
–St. Catherine of Siena

“Start being brave about everything. Drive out darkness and spread light. Don’ look at your weaknesses. Realize instead that in Christ crucified you can do everything.”
-St. Catherine of Siena

“He who knows how to forgive prepares for himself many graces from God. As often as I look upon the Cross, so often will I forgive with all my heart (Diary, 390).”

“No greater joy is to be found than that of loving God. Already here on earth we can taste the happiness of those in heaven by an intimate union with God, a union that is extraordinary and often quite incomprehensible to us. One can attain this very grace through simple faithfulness of soul (Diary, 507).”

“I am not counting on my own strength, but on His omnipotence for, as He gave me the grace of knowing His holy will, He will also grant me the grace of fulfilling it (Diary, 615).”

“An extraordinary peace entered my soul when I reflected on the fact that, despite great difficulties, I had always faithfully followed God’s will as I knew it. O Jesus, grant me the grace to put Your will into practice as I have come to know it, O God (Diary, 666).”

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My Nature Is Fire

In your nature, eternal Godhead,
I shall come to know my nature.
And what is my nature, boundless love?
It is fire,
because you are nothing but a fire of love.
And you have given humankind
a share in this Nature,
for by the fire of love You created us.
And so with all other people
and every created thing;
you made them out of love.
O ungrateful people!
What nature has your God given you?
His very own nature!
Are you not ashamed to cut yourself off from such a noble thing
through the guilt of deadly sin?
O eternal Trinity, my sweet love!
You, Light, give us light.
You, Wisdom, give us wisdom.
You, Supreme Strength, strengthen us.
Today, eternal God,
let our cloud be dissipated
so that we may perfectly know and follow your Truth in truth,
with a free and simple heart.
God, come to our assistance!
Lord, make haste to help us!
Amen.
-St Catherine of Siena

Love,
Matthew

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