Friday, May 26, 2017
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.
Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori, Doctor of the Church
Thursday, May 25, 2017
THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD
From “The St. Andrew Daily Missal” (1937)
It is in the basilica of St. Peter, dedicated to one of the chief
witnesses of our Lord’s ascension, that this mystery which marks the end
of our Lord’s earthly life, is “this day” (Collect) kept.
In the forty days which followed His resurrection, our Redeemer laid
the foundations of His Church to which He was going to send the Holy Ghost.
All the Master’s teachings are summed up in the Epistle and Gospel
for today. Then He left this earth and the Introit, Collect, Epistle,
Alleluia, Gospel, Offertory, Secret, Preface and Communion celebrate His
glorious ascension into Heaven, where the souls He had freed from Limbo
escort Him (Alleluia), and enter in His train into the heavenly kingdom,
where they share more fully in His Divinity.
The ascension sets before us the duty of raising our hearts to God. So,
in the Collect, we are led to ask that we may dwell with Christ in spirit
in the heavenly realms, where we are called one day to dwell in our risen
During the octave the Credo is said: “I believe in one Lord Jesus
Christ, the only-begotten Son of God… Who ascended into heaven… He
sitteth at the right hand of the Father” The Gloria speaks in the same
sense: “O Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son… Who sittest at the
right hand of the Father, have mercy upon us.” In the Proper Preface
which is said until Pentecost, we give thanks to God because His Son, the
risen Christ, “after His resurrection appeared and showed Himself to all
His disciples; and while they beheld Him, was lifted up into heaven”. In
the same way, during the whole octave, a Proper Communicantes of the feast
is said, in which the Church reminds us that she is keeping the day on
which the only-begotten Son of God set at the right hand of His glory the
substance of our frail human nature, in which He had united Himself in the
mystery of the Incarnation.
We are reminded daily in the liturgy at the Offertory Suscipe Sancta
Trinitas, and in the Canon Unde et memores, that at our Lord’s command
the Holy Sacrifice is being offered in memory of the “blessed passion of
the same Christ Thy Son our Lord,” and also His resurrection from hell
and His glorious ascension into heaven.
The truth is that man is saved only by the mysteries of the passion and
resurrection untied with that of the ascension. “Through Thy death and
burial, through Thy holy resurrection, through Thy admirable ascension,
deliver us, O Lord” (Litany of the Saints).
Let us offer the divine Sacrifice to God in memory of the glorious
ascension of His Son (Suscipe, Unde et memores); while we nourish within
our souls an ardent desire for heaven, that “delivered from present
dangers,” we may “attain to eternal life” (Secret).
Every parish priest celebrates Mass for the people of his parish.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Monday, May 22, 2017
We should follow no other path but that of Jesus Christ, even though we be at the pinnacle of contemplation; for we walk with safety in this road. The Lord is the source of all blessings, He will instruct us if we study His life, it is the best model we can propose to ourselves.
~Life of St. Teresa, Ch. xxi
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Saint Bernardine of Siena
Saint Bernardine of Siena
(Saint Bernardin de Sienne)
Feast Day - May 20
St Antoninus, archbishop of Florence, begins the biography of Saint Bernardine of Siena with the words, "The grace of God, Our Savior, has appeared in His servant Bernardine, who shone like a bright star in a dark night, and with the heavenly brilliance of his virtue and doctrine frightened away the darkness."
The great saint, Saint Bernardine of Siena, descended from the old knightly family of the Albizeschi of Siena, and was born on September 8, 1380, in the town of Massa, a dependency of Siena, where his father was governor.
When Saint Bernardine of Siena was only 7 years old, he had lost both his parents, but he was reared in the fear of God by devout relatives. He evinced a great love for the poor, with whom, as a little boy, he gladly shared his food. He attended divine services with the most edifying devotion, and listened to sermons with such attention that he could repeat them to his companions.
Saint Bernardine of Siena loved purity above all the virtues. While he attended the secondary school in Siena, he could not hear an unbecoming word without blushing for shame, so that those who spoken it themselves blushed. When any indecent conversation was going on among his companions, they stopped as soon as they saw him coming. "Be still," they said, "Bernardine is coming."
While the holy youth was otherwise very meek, he was friendly to all, he could nevertheless grow extremely angry if decency was violated. A prominent citizen once purposely told him something indecent in the open market place. Bernardine gave him a resounding slap in the face, and amid the laughter of the bystanders the disgraced citizen had to withdraw.
With his great love for purity, Bernardine united a tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin, whom he used to call his beloved. Out of devotion to her he daily visited an image of Mary just outside the town of Siena; he prayed there especially to learn his vocation. The Mother of Grace, who had protected him in the world, now led him to the sanctuary of the convent.
In the quiet little convent of St Mary Colombaio, which St Francis himself had founded, Saint Bernardine of Siena received the holy habit on the feast of the Nativity of Mary in the year 1402. On the same feast in the following year, he made his profession, and after he was ordained and appointed to preach, he also gave his first sermon on the feast of Mary's nativity.
Saint Bernardine of Siena was a close personal friend of Saint John of Capistrano, who instructed him in theology, and also Saint James of the Marsh. Since Saint Bernardine's voice was very weak and hoarse, however, he seemed ill-fitted for the office of a preacher. Yet here, too, his beloved Mother helped him. At her intercession his voice suddenly became so powerful and melodious that he became one of the most distinguished missionaries.
Now he journeyed all over Italy in order to announce to the people the virtues and vices, and the reward of the former and punishment of the latter. In many places such depravity existed that he found it necessary to preach sermons which he himself called sermons for heathens. The effects, however, were so astounding that Pope Pius II compared him with the Apostle of the Gentiles and called him a second Paul. After he had shaken their truths, he poured into them the soothing oil of the sweet name of Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, and preached on Mary, the Mother of Mercy.
His blessed ministry induced many towns to seek him as their bishop. Siena, Ferrara, and Urbino petitioned in turn for this privilege, and the pope offered Bernardine the Episcopal dignity. But with unchanging humility, he declined every time. He remained among his religious brethren whom he encouraged in religious perfection.
Rich in merits and virtue he died at Aquila on May 20, 1444. The body of St Bernardine was solemnly exhibited for twenty-six days after his death. On the twenty-fourth day a copious amount of blood issued from his nose, as was observed by all and recorded by no less a personage than St John Capistrano.
Pope Nicholas V canonized St Bernardine of Siena 6 years after his death, whereupon the citizens of Aquila built to his honor a beautiful church with a magnificent marble tomb.
*from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Against the Reformers
A CHURCH which is not one in its doctrine and faith can never be the True Church. Hence, because truth must be one, of all the different churches, only one can be the true one, and outside of that Church there is no salvation.
Now, in order to determine which is this one true Church, it is necessary to examine which is the Church first founded by Jesus Christ, for when this is ascertained, it must be confessed that this one alone is the true Church which, having once been the true Church must always have been the true Church and must forever be the true Church. For to this first Church has been made the promise of the Savior that the gates of Hell would never be able to overturn it [Matt 16:18].
In the entire history of religion, we find that the Roman Catholic Church alone was the first Church, and that the other false and heretical churches afterwards departed and separated from her. This is the Church which was propagated by the Apostles and afterwards governed by pastors whom the Apostles themselves appointed to rule over her. This character can be found only in the Roman Church, whose pastors descend securely by an uninterrupted and legitimate succession from the Apostles of the world [Matt 28:20].
The innovators themselves do not deny that the Roman Church was the first which Jesus Christ founded. However, they say that it was the true Church until the fifth century, or until it fell away, because it had been corrupted by the Catholics. But how could that Church fall which St. Paul calls the "pillar and ground of truth" [1 Timothy 3:15]? No, the Church has not failed. The truth is, that all the false churches, which have separated from the Roman Church, have fallen away and erred.
To convince all heretical sects of their error, there is no way more certain and safe than to show that our Catholic Church has been the first one founded by Jesus Christ. For, this being established, it is proved beyond all doubt that ours is the only true Church and that all the others which have left it and separated are certainly in error. But, pressed by this argument, the innovators have invented an answer. They say that the visible Church has failed, but not the invisible Church. But these doctrines are diametrically opposed to the Gospel.
The innovators have been challenged several times to produce a text of Sacred Scripture which would prove the existence of the invisible church they invented, and we are unable to obtain any such text from them. How could they adduce such a text when, addressing His Apostles whom He left as the propagators of His Church, Jesus said: "You cannot be hidden" [Matt 5:14].
Thus He has declared that the Church cannot help but be visible to everyone. The Church has been at all times, and will forever be, necessarily visible, so that each person may always be able to learn from his pastor the true doctrine regarding the dogmas of faith, to receive the Sacraments, to be directed in the way of salvation, and to be enlightened and corrected should he ever fall into error.
For, were the Church in any time hidden and invisible, to whom would men have recourse in order to learn what they are to believe and to do? It was necessary that the Church and her pastors be obvious and visible, principally in order that there might be an infallible judge, to resolve all doubts, and to whose decision everyone should necessarily submit. Otherwise, there would be no sure rule of faith by which Christians could know the true dogmas of faith and the true precepts of morality, and among the faithful there would be endless disputes and controversies. "And Christ gave some apostles, and others pastors and doctors, that henceforth we be no more children tossed to-and-fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine" [Eph 4:11-14].
But what faith can we learn from these false teachers when, in consequence of separating from the Church, they have no rule of faith. How often Calvin changed his opinions! And, during his life, Luther was constantly contradicting himself: on the single article of the Eucharist, he fell into thirty-three contradictions! A single contradiction is enough to show that they did not have the Spirit of God.
"He cannot deny Himself" [2 Timothy 2:13]. In a word, take away the authority of the Church, and neither Divine Revelation nor natural reason itself is of any use, for each of them may be interpreted by every individual according to his own caprice. Do they not see that from this accursed liberty of conscience has arisen the immense variety of heretical and atheistic sects? I repeat: if you take away obedience to the Church, there is no error which will not be embraced.
St Alphonsus Mary De Liguori (1696-1787) Bishop and Doctor of the Church