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Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
From “The St. Andrew Daily Missal” (1937)

Immaculate-Conception-1650 Jose-Antolinez 
    Having decided from all eternity to make Mary Mother of the Incarnate
Word (Epistle), God willed that she should crush the head of the serpent
from the moment of her conception. He covered her “with a  mantle of
holiness” (Introit) and, “preserving her soul from all stain, He made
her a worthy dwelling place for His Son” (Collect). The feast of the
“Conception” of the Virgin was, from the eighth century, celebrated in
the East on December 9th, from the ninth century in Ireland and May 3rd,
and in the eleventh century in England on December 8th. The Benedictines
with St. Anselm, and the Franciscans with Duns Scotus (1308) favoured the
feast of the “Immaculate Conception,”
which in 1128 was kept in
Anglo-Saxon monasteries. In the fifteenth century Pope Sixtus IV, a
Franciscan, erected at the Vatican the Sistine Chapel in honour of the
Conception of the Virgin. And on December 8th, 1854, Pius IX officially
proclaimed this great dogma, making himself the mouthpiece of all the
Christian tradition summed up in the words of the Angel: “Hail Mary, full
of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women: (Gospel) “
Thou art all beautiful, O Mary, and the original stain is not in thee “
says in truth the alleluia verse. Like the dawn which announces the day,
Mary precedes the Sun of Justice which will soon illumine the world of
souls. Bringing to us her Son, it is she who first appears in the
liturgical cycle. Let us ask God “to heal us and to deliver us from all
our sins” (Secret, Postcommunion) in order that by the graces which
specially belong to the feast of the “Immaculate” we may become more
worthy of receiving Jesus in our hearts when He comes into them on December

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

On Protestant Proselytism in Rome (1900)
Apostolic Letter of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, in which he laments and condemns the preaching and proselytism of Protestants in the city of Rome, Italy.

To M. Pietro Cardinal Respighi, our Vicar General,

Lord Cardinal,

Already, from the first moments of Our Pontificate, We had to indicate, as one of the most deplorable harm that is the change in the order of things in this capital of the Catholic world, the ardent proselytism of heresy and, consequently, the peril which the Faith of Our people was exposed to. And on this subject, We having put forward to Our Cardinal Vicar [1], We have on numerous occasions imparted exhortations, counsels and warnings to the faithful, to warn them against the multiple attempts that sects of all kinds, coming from foreign lands, would exercise here under the umbrella of public laws, in order to spread in the souls of the faithful the poison of denial and error.

However, if on the one hand, We are happy to recognize that Our word, assisted by uninterrupted attention, did not fail to yield good results, on the other hand, We are constrained to confess that — the boldness of the enemies of the Catholic religion having redoubled, thanks to the support that came to them from outside — the evil, far from diminishing, went on increasing, especially in these latter times. It is thus necessary, Lord Cardinal, to revisit this most unpleasant and important subject, which is so intimately linked to the duties and to the rights of Our apostolic ministry and to the loving and paternal love We feel towards Our people of Rome.

It is now well known to everyone by the evidence of the facts that the plan conceived by the heretical sects, multiform emanations of Protestantism, is to raise the standard of discord and religious rebellion in the peninsula [of Italy], but mostly in this noble city [of Rome] which God Himself, admirably ordaining the events, established as the center of this fecund and sublime unity, the object of which was the prayer addressed by our divine Savior to His heavenly Father (John 17:11,21), which was jealously guarded by the Popes, even unto the price of their life, despite the oppositions of men and the vicissitudes of time. After having destroyed in their respective homeland, by opposite and discordant systems, the venerable and ancient beliefs that were part of the sacred deposit of revelation; after having scattered the icy breath of doubt in the souls of their spectators, of division and incredulity — immense ruin that We deplore and of which We are touched by compassion in the bottom of Our heart, for We see in each of these creatures the sons of the same Father, redeemed by the same Blood — these sects have thus introduced themselves into the chosen vineyard of the Lord, with the objective to pursue their disastrous task. Not being able to count on the strength of truth, they reap the benefit, in order to extinguish or at least to reduce the Catholic faith in souls, in the young and helpless, the culturally inadequate, the distressed and the needy, simple people who are accessible to flatteries, to lures, and to seductions.

Being made aware of this fact, before anything We suffer the need to confess, as We have done so on other occasions, just how exasperating is the condition imposed upon the head of the Catholic Church, forced to observe the free and progressive development of the heresy in this holy city, from which must shine forth on the world the light of truth and of good example, and which should be the respected See of the Vicar of Jesus Christ. As if this didn’t suffice, to corrupt the mind and heart of the people, from a torrent of unwholesome doctrines and depravations that spring forth with impunity on a daily basis, from professor’s chairs, from theaters, from newspapers, there had to be addedd to all these causes of perversion the insidious labor of heretical men which, fighting amongst themselves, are but of one accord to inveigh against the Supreme Pontifical Magisterium, the Catholic clergy, and the dogmas of our holy religion, of which they know not the meaning and much less appreciate its august beauty. 
From which it follows that the faithful, who, from all regions, even the most remote, flock in pilgrimage to Rome to find comfort to their piety and to their Faith, must remain profoundly saddened as they gaze down on the ground, soaked as it is by the blood of martyrs, invaded by sects of all kinds, whose sole worry is to tear away from the soul of the people this religion that was declared the religion of the state and that is the principal object of their love and worship.

You will thus easily understand, Lord Cardinal, how painful this sad state of affairs is to Our heart and how keen is Our desire to witness the appropriate remedies that will, if not entirely extricate the evil, at least severely diminish its gravity and its bitterness. This is why We were greatly comforted by the founding of a distinguished organization, to which We have Ourselves given the inspiration and impetus and which is called Preservation of the Faith, even more so by the satisfying results that it started to gain, thanks to the inextinguishable zeal of both those who lead it and are part of it.

It is Our wish, Lord Cardinal, counting on your usual and well-known activity, that this salutary work, so well adapted to the present needs, should sustain, reinforce, and propagate to the point of constituting an efficient and powerful defense against the aforementioned peril. First of all, a firm and constant support will have to be supplied by the parochial clergy of Rome; hard-working, zealous, and modest, upon whom the care and responsibility of souls is chiefly incumbent; vitality, strength, and expansion will be further added, thanks to the Catholic laity of this town, which are always ready to bring their intelligent and charitable contributions wherever the interests of religion and the material and moral well-being of their neighbor is at stake.

For everyone, may the principal worry be to strengthen the character of the Catholic people, inspiring noble and holy intentions, at the same time preventing carelessness in which, under the guise of innocent assemblies for young people, conferences for young girls, foreign-language courses, growth of culture, and subsidies to poor families, lies hidden a criminal purpose to insinuate in the minds and hearts the reprobate maxims of heresy.

May all the faithful be thoroughly imbued with this truth that nothing can be more precious to them than this treasure that is their Faith, for which their forefathers confronted without fear, not only miseries and deprivations, but also often violent persecutions and even death. Such a sense of strength cannot but be natural and profound in our population that knows all too well that, not only does the Catholic Church possess the divine seal that distinguishes it as the only true one, the only one which received the promises of life immortal, but has spread again at all times her incomparable blessings on Rome, on Italy, and on all the world, subduing the onslaught of barbarism with the justice of her laws and the meekness of her mores, spreading, as St. Leo the Great (Serm. I, in Natali SS. Petri et Pauli) said so well, the dominion of Christian peace well beyond the explored confines by the Roman eagles, salvaging literature, libraries, intellectual culture, monuments; inspiring all orders of science and art; coming to the aid of the weak, the poor, the oppressed, with the generosity of love and with magnanimity of sacrifice and of heroism.

It is why We nourish the confidence that none of the Romans, who are the most privileged sons of the Catholic Church, will ever want, for any human interest whatsoever, to separate himself from this most tender Mother that, after having given him birth in grace, never ceased to surround him by her most affectionate solicitudes: of which we are also equally persuaded that those generous Catholics who founded and propagated the aforementioned organization called Preservation of the Faith, will never give themselves to respite or rest as long as eternal salvation is in jeopardy, should it be so for one soul, showing thusly by the very fact, if the enemies of the religion are stronger by the quantity of riches, the former will vanquish by the fullness of their charity.

As a token of divine favor for bringing this grave task to a happy end, We grant with all our heart, Lord Cardinal, to the promoters of this pious endeavor and to all those who will favor it, the Apostolic Benediction.

Leo XIII, Pope.
From the Vatican, this 19th day of August, 1900.

[1] A reference made to the Pontifical Letters addressed to the Cardinal Vicar, on June 26, 1878 and March 25, 1879.
Source: “Lettre de S.S. Léon XIII sur le prosélytisme protestant à Rome”, August 19, 1900. [“Letter of His Holiness Leo XIII on Protestant Proselytism in Rome.”] Taken from Lettres Apostoliques de S.S. Léon XIII: Encycliques, Brefs, etc., Book VI (Paris: Maison de la Bonne Presse, n.d.), pp. 142-145. Translation into English by Novus Ordo Watch.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

6 Interesting Catholic Thanksgiving Facts You Need to Know

When you’re sitting down for that wonderful feast on Thursday, here are 6 interesting Catholic Thanksgiving Facts you can share with your family. Print them out and read them aloud over some pumpkin (or pecan) pie!
The history books will tell you that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Protestant pilgrims of Massachusetts in 1621. Not so. There was the Catholic Thanksgiving of 1565 in Florida and another Catholic Thanksgiving of 1589 in Texas.
First Catholic Thanksgiving
  1. The first American Thanksgiving was actually celebrated on September 8 (feast of the birth of the Blessed Virgin) in 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. The Native Americans and Spanish settlers held a feast and the Holy Mass was offered. This was 56 years before the Puritan pilgrims of Massachusetts.Don Pedro Menendez came ashore amid the sounding of trumpets, artillery salutes and the firing of cannons to claim the land for King Philip II and Spain. The ship chaplain Fr. Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales chanted the Te Deum and presented a crucifix that Menendez ceremoniously kissed. Then the 500 soldiers, 200 sailors and 100 families and artisans, along with the Timucuan Indians celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in gratitude to God.
  2. The second American Thanksgiving happened on April 30, 1598, when Spanish explorer Don Juan de Oñate requested the friars to say a Mass of Thanksgiving, after which he formally proclaimed “La Toma”, claiming the land north of the Rio Grande for the King of Spain. The men feasted on duck, goose, and fish from the river. The actors among them dressed and presented a play. All this took place twenty-three years before the Pilgrims set sail from England on the Mayflower.
  3. The Puritan pilgrims were violently anti-Catholic. They left England because they thought that the Church of England was too Catholic. These Puritans were strict Calvinists. The pilgrims also opposed celebrating Christmas, dancing, musical instruments in church, and even hymns as papistical.
  4. Squanto, the beloved hero of Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock, was Catholic! (Here’s my full article on the Catholicism of Squanto.) Squanto had been enslaved by the English but he was freed by Spanish Franciscans. Squanto thus received baptism and became a Catholic. So it was a baptized Catholic Native American who orchestrated what became known as Thanksgiving.
    Squanto Catholic Thanksgiving
    Catholic Squanto teaches the lame English Puritans how to play limbo.
    “How low can you go?!”
  5. So while Thanksgiving may celebrate the Calvinist Separatists who fled England, Catholics might remember the same unjust laws that granted the crown of martyrdom to Thomas More, John Fisher, Edmund Campion, et al. are the same injustices that led the Pilgrims to Plymouth.
  6. And let everyone remember that “Thanksgiving” in Greek is Eucharistia. Thus, the Body and Blood of Christ is the true “Thanksgiving Meal”.
And don’t forget to raise your wine glass and recite the wonderful limerick of Hilaire Belloc:
“Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!”
― Hilaire Belloc

Thursday, October 23, 2014

 This is Saint Augustine's insight

 “In the first place, silence is a great means of acquiring the spirit of prayer, and of disposing the soul to converse continually with God.  We rarely find a spiritual soul that speaks much.  All souls of prayer are lovers of silence that is called the guardian of innocence, the shield against temptations, and the fountain of prayer.  For by silence devotion is preserved, and in silence good thoughts spring up in the soul.”

St. Alphonsus (c. 1755)

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 17 – St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Religious of the Visitation Order. Apostle of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, born at Lhautecour, France, 22 July, 1647; died at Paray-le-Monial, 17 October, 1690.
St. Margaret Mary AlacoqueHer parents, Claude Alacoque and Philiberte Lamyn, were distinguished less for temporal possessions than for their virtue, which gave them an honourable position. From early childhood Margaret showed intense love for the Blessed Sacrament, and preferred silence and prayer to childish amusements. After her first communion at the age of nine, she practised in secret severe corporal mortifications, until paralysis confined her to bed for four years. At the end of this period, having made a vow to the Blessed Virgin to consecrate herself to religious life, she was instantly restored to perfect health. The death of her father and the injustice of a relative plunged the family in poverty and humiliation, after which more than ever Margaret found consolation in the Blessed Sacrament, and Christ made her sensible of His presence and protection. He usually appeared to her as the Crucified or the Ecce Homo, and this did not surprise her, as she thought others had the same Divine assistance. When Margaret was seventeen, the family property was recovered, and her mother besought her to establish herself in the world. Her filial tenderness made her believe that the vow of childhood was not binding, and that she could serve God at home by penance and charity to the poor. Then, still bleeding from her self-imposed austerities, she began to take part in the pleasures of the world. One night upon her return from a ball, she had a vision of Christ as He was during the scourging, reproaching her for infidelity after He had given her so many proofs of His love. During her entire life Margaret mourned over two faults committed at this time—the wearing of some superfluous ornaments and a mask at the carnival to please her brothers.
Our Lord appearing to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.
Our Lord appearing to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.

On 25 May, 1671, she entered the Visitation Convent at Paray, where she was subjected to many trials to prove her vocation, and in November, 1672, pronounced her final vows. She had a delicate constitution, but was gifted with intelligence and good judgement, and in the cloister she chose for herself what was most repugnant to her nature, making her life one of inconceivable sufferings, which were often relieved or instantly cured by our Lord, Who acted as her Director, appeared to her frequently and conversed with her, confiding to her the mission to establish the devotion to His Sacred Heart. These extraordinary occurrences drew upon her the adverse criticism of the community, who treated her as a visionary, and her superior commanded her to live the common life. But her obedience, her humility, and invariable charity towards those who persecuted her, finally prevailed, and her mission, accomplished in the crucible of suffering, was recognized even by those who had shown her the most bitter opposition.
A relief of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque part of the choir stalls in St. Gordian and St. Epimachus Church in Bavaria. Photo by Andreas Praefcke.
A relief of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, part of the choir stalls in St. Gordian and St. Epimachus Church in Bavaria. Photo by Andreas Praefcke
Margaret Mary was inspired by Christ to establish the Holy Hour and to pray lying prostrate with her face to the ground from eleven till midnight on the eve of the first Friday of each month, to share in the mortal sadness He endured when abandoned by His Apostles in His Agony, and to receive holy Communion on the first Friday of every month. In the first great revelation, He made known to her His ardent desire to be loved by men and His design of manifesting His Heart with all Its treasures of love and mercy, of sanctification and salvation. He appointed the Friday after the octave of the feast of Corpus Christi as the feast of the Sacred Heart; He called her “the Beloved Disciple of the Sacred Heart”, and the heiress of all Its treasures. The love of the Sacred Heart was the fire which consumed her, and devotion to the Sacred Heart is the refrain of all her writings. In her last illness she refused all alleviation, repeating frequently: “What have I in heaven and what do I desire on earth, but Thee alone, O my God”, and died pronouncing the Holy Name of Jesus.

The discussion of the mission and virtues of Margaret Mary continued for years. All her actions, her revelations, her spiritual maxims, her teachings regarding the devotion to the Sacred Heart, of which she was the chief exponent as well as the apostle, were subjected to the most severe and minute examination, and finally the Sacred Congregation of rites passed a favourable vote on the heroic virtues of this servant of God. In March, 1824, Leo XII pronounced her Venerable, and on 18 September, 1864, Pius IX declared her Blessed. When her tomb was canonically opened in July, 1830, two instantaneous cures took place. Her body rests under the altar in the chapel at Paray, and many striking favours have been obtained by pilgrims attracted thither from all parts of the world. Her feast is celebrated on 17 October. 
Her incorrupt body rests above the side altar in the Chapel of the Apparitions, located at the Visitation Monastery in Paray-le-Monial
[Note: She was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.]
SISTER MARY BERNARD DOLL (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

From the Writings of St. Anthony Mary Claret

The sensation of pain in Hell is essentially very dreadful. Picture yourself, my soul, on a dark night on the summit of a high mountain. Beneath you is a deep valley, and the earth opens so that with your gaze you can see Hell in the cavity of it. Picture it as a prison situated in the center of the earth, many leagues down, all full of fire, hemmed in so impenetrably that for all eternity not even the smoke can escape. In this prison the damned are packed so tightly one on the other like bricks in a kiln... Consider the quality of the fire in which they burn.
First, the fire is all-extensive and tortures the whole body and the whole soul. A damned person lies in Hell forever in the same spot, which he was assigned by divine justice, without being able to move, as a prisoner in stocks.
The fire, in which he is totally enveloped, as a fish in water, burns around him, on his left, his right, above and below. His head, his breast, his shoulders, his arms, his hands, and his feet are all penetrated with fire, so that he completely resembles a glowing hot piece of iron, which has just been withdrawn from an oven. The roof beneath which the damned person dwells is fire; the food he takes is fire; the drink he tastes is fire; the air he breathes is fire; whatever he sees and touches is all fire....
But this fire is not merely outside him; it also passes within the condemned person. It penetrates his brain, his teeth, his tongue, his throat, his liver, his lungs, his bowels, his belly, his heart, his veins, his nerves, his bones, even to the marrow, and even his blood.
"In Hell," according to St. Gregory the Great, "there will be a fire that cannot be put out, a worm which cannot die, a stench one cannot bear, a darkness one can feel, a scourging by savage hands, with those present despairing of anything good."
A most dreadful fact is that by the divine power this fire goes so far as to work on the very faculties of the soul, burning them and tormenting them. Suppose I were to find myself placed at the oven of a smith so that my whole body was in the open air but for one arm placed in the fire, and that God were to preserve my life for a thousand years in this position. Would this not be an unbearable torture? What, then, would it be like to be completely penetrated and surrounded by fire, which would affect not just an arm, but even all the faculties of the soul?
More Dreadful than Man Can Imagine
Secondly, this fire is far more dreadful than man can imagine. The natural fire that we see during this life has great power to burn and torment. Yet this is not even a shadow of the fire of Hell. There are two reasons why the fire of Hell is more dreadful beyond all comparison than the fire of this life.
The first reason is the justice of God, which the fire serves as an instrument in order to punish the infinite wrong done to his supreme majesty, which has been despised by a creature. Therefore, justice supplies this element with a burning power, which almost reaches the infinite....
The second reason is the malice of sin. As God knows that the fire of this world is not enough to punish sin, as it deserves, He has given the fire of Hell a power so strong that it can never be comprehended by any human mind.   Now, how powerfully does this fire burn?
It burns so powerfully, O my soul, that, according to the ascetical masters, if a mere spark of it fell on a millstone; it would reduce it in a moment to powder. If it fell on a ball of bronze, it would melt it in an instant as if it were wax. If it landed on a frozen lake, it would make it boil in an instant.
Pause here briefly, my soul, and answer a few questions I will put. First, I ask you: If a special furnace were fired up as was customarily done to torment the holy martyrs, and then men placed before you all kinds of good things that the human heart might want, and added the offer of a prosperous kingdom –  if all this were promised you on condition that for just a half-hour you enclose yourself within the furnace, what would you choose?
A Hundred Kingdoms
"Ah!" you would say, "If you offered me a hundred kingdoms I would never be so foolish as to accept your brutal terms, regardless of how grand your offer might be, even if I were sure that God would preserve my life during those moments of suffering."
Second, I ask you: If you already had possession of a great kingdom and were swimming in a sea of wealth so that nothing was wanting to you, and then you were attacked by an enemy, were imprisoned and put in chains and obliged to either renounce your kingdom or else spend a half-hour in a hot furnace, what would you choose? "Ah!" you would say, "I would prefer to spend my whole life in extreme poverty and submit to any other hardship and misfortune, than suffer such a great torment!"
A Prison of Eternal Fire
Now turn your thoughts from the temporal to the eternal. To avoid the torment of a hot furnace, which would last but a half-hour, you would forgo all your property, even things you are most fond of; you would suffer any other temporal loss, however burdensome. Then why do you not think the same way when you are dealing of eternal torments? God threatens you not just with a half-hour in a furnace, but with a prison of eternal fire. To escape it, should you not forgo whatever He has forbidden, no matter how pleasant it can be for you, and gladly embrace whatever He commands, even if it be extremely unpleasant?
A most terrible thing about Hell is its duration. The condemned person loses God and loses Him for all eternity. Now, what is eternity? O my soul, up to now there has not been any angel who has been able to comprehend what eternity is. So how can you comprehend it? Yet, to form some idea of it, consider the following truths:
Eternity never ends. This is the truth that has made even the great saints tremble. The final judgment will come, the world will be destroyed, the earth will swallow up those who are damned, and they will be cast into Hell. Then, with His almighty hand, God will shut them up in that most unhappy prison.
From then on, as many years will pass as there are leaves on the trees and plants on all the earth, as many thousands of years as there are drops of water in all seas and rivers, as many thousands of years as there are atoms in the air, as there are grains of sand on all the shores of all seas. Then, after the passage of this countless number of years, what will eternity be? Up to then there will not even have been a hundredth part of it, nor a thousandth – nothing. It then begins again and will last as long again, even after this has been repeated a thousand times, and a thousand million times again. And then, after so long a period, not even a half will have passed, not even a hundredth part nor a thousandth, not even any part of eternity. For all this time there is no interruption in the burnings of those who are damned, and it begins all over again.
Oh, a deep mystery indeed! A terror above all terrors! O eternity! Who can comprehend thee?
The Tears of Cain
Suppose that, in the case of unhappy Cain, weeping in Hell, he shed in every thousand years just one tear. Now, O my soul, recollect your thoughts and suppose this case: For six thousand years at least Cain has been in Hell and shed only six tears, which God miraculously preserves. How many years would pass for his tears to fill all the valleys of the earth and flood all the cities and towns and villages and cover all the mountains so as to flood the whole earth? We understand the distance from the earth to the sun is thirty-four million leagues. How many years would be necessary for Cain's tears to fill that immense space? From the earth to the firmament is, let us suppose, a distance of a hundred and sixty million leagues.
O God! What number of years might one imagine to be sufficient to fill with these tears this immense space? And yet – O truth so incomprehensible – be sure of it, as that God cannot lie – a time will arrive in which these tears of Cain would be sufficient to flood the world, to reach even the sun, to touch the firmament, and fill all the space between earth and the highest heaven. But that is not all.
If God dried up all these tears to the last drop and Cain began again to weep, he would again fill the same entire space with them and fill it a thousands times and a million times in succession, and after all those countless years, not even half of eternity would have passed, not even a fraction. After all that time burning in Hell, Cain's sufferings will be just beginning.
This eternity is also without relief. It would indeed be a small consolation and of little benefit for the condemned persons to be able to receive a brief respite once every thousand years.
No Relief
Picture in Hell a place where there are three reprobates. The first is plunged in a lake of sulfuric fire, the second is chained to a large rock and is being tormented by two devils, one of whom continually pours molten lead down his throat while the other spills it all over his body, covering him from head to foot. The third reprobate is being tortured by two serpents, one of which wraps around the man's body and cruelly gnaws on it, while the other enters within the body and attacks the heart. Suppose God is moved to pity and grants a short respite.
The first man, after the passage of a thousand years is drawn from the lake and receives the relief of a drink of cool water, and at the end of an hour is cast again into the lake. The second, after a thousand years, is released from his place and allowed to rest, but after an hour is again returned to the same torment. The third, after a thousand years, is delivered from the serpents; but after an hour of relief, is again abused and tormented by them. Ah, how little this consolation would be – to suffer a thousand years and to rest only one hour.
However, Hell does not even have that much relief. One burns always in those dreadful flames and never receives any relief for all eternity. He is forever gnawed and stricken with remorse, and will never have a rest for all eternity. He will suffer always a very ardent thirst and never receive the refreshment of a sip of water for all eternity. He will see himself always abhorred by God and will never enjoy a single tender glance from Him for all eternity. He will find himself forever cursed by heaven and Hell, and will never receive a single gesture of friendship.
It is an essential misfortune of Hell that everything will be without relief, without remedy, without interruption, without end, eternal.
The Kindness of His Mercy
Now I understand in part, O my God, what Hell is. It is a place of extreme pain, of extreme despair. It is where I deserve to be for my sins, where I would have been confined for some years already if your immense mercy had not delivered me. I will keep repeating a thousand times: The Heart of Jesus has loved me, or else I would now be in Hell! The mercy of Jesus has pitied me, for otherwise I would be in Hell! The Blood of Jesus has reconciled me with the heavenly Father, or my dwelling place would be Hell. This shall be the hymn that I want to sing to Thee, my God, for all eternity. Yes, from now on my intention is to repeat these words as many times as there are moments that have passed since that unhappy hour in which I first offended You.
What has been my gratitude to God for his kind mercy that He showed me? He delivered me from Hell. O, immense charity! O, infinite goodness! After a benefit so great, should I not have given Him my whole heart and loved Him with the love of the most ardent Seraphim? Should I not have directed all my actions to Him and in everything sought only His divine pleasure, accepting all contradictions with joy, in order to return to Him my love? Could I do less than that after a kindness that was so great? And yet, what is it that I have done? Oh, ingratitude worthy of another Hell! I cast You aside, O my God! I reacted to Your mercy by committing new sins and offenses. I know that I have done evil, O my God, and I repent with my whole heart. Ah, would that I could shed a sea of tears for such outrageous ingratitude! O Jesus, have mercy on me; for I now resolve to rather suffer a thousand deaths than offend You again.
The Urgency of Hell
It is of faith that Heaven exists for the good and Hell for the wicked. Faith teaches that the pains of Hell are eternal, and it also warns us that one single mortal sin suffices to condemn a soul forever because of the infinite malice by which it offends an infinite God. With these most positive principles in mind, how can I remain indifferent when I see the ease with which sins are committed, sins that occur as frequently as one takes a glass of water, sins and offenses that are perpetrated out of levity or diversion? How can I rest when so many are to be seen living continually in mortal sin and rushing in this blind manner to their eternal destruction? No indeed, I cannot rest, but must needs run and shout a warning to them. If I saw anyone about to fall into a pit or a fire, would I not run up to him and warn him, and do all in my power to help him from falling in? Why should I not do this much to keep sinners from falling into the pit and fires of Hell?
Neither can I understand why other priests who believe the selfsame truths as I do, as we all must do, do not preach or exhort their flock so that they might avoid this unbearable eternity of Hell. It is still a source of wonder to me how the laity – those men and women blessed with the Faith – do not give warning to those who need it. If a house were to catch fire in the middle of the night, and if the inhabitants of the same house and the other townsfolk were asleep and did not see the danger, would not the one who first noticed it shout and run along the streets, exclaiming: "Fire! Fire! In that house over there!" Then why should there not be a warning of eternal fire to waken those who are drifting in the sleep of sin in such a way that when they open their eyes they will find themselves burning in the eternal flames of Hell?

Zeal for the salvation of souls spurred St. Anthony Mary Claret to preach an estimated 25,000 sermons, write 144 books, found three religious orders, preach countless missions, and in six years as a bishop, confirm over 300,000 and validate more than 9,000 marriages. Starting as a missionary in Spain and the Canary Islands, he was later appointed Archbishop of Santiago, Cuba, and thereafter confessor to the Queen of Spain. But in all he did, he labored so ceaselessly, so tirelessly, and so fruitfully for the cause of Christ and His Church that he is simply called a “Modern Apostle.”
Miracles surrounded his work, and he possessed the gifts of prophecy and the reading of hearts. He often saw Our Lord and Our Lady (to whom he was especially devoted), receiving from them instruction, encouragement, and prophecies. Driven by the overwhelming motivation of saving immortal souls from eternal damnation, St. Anthony Mary Claret directed all his energies to this end, finding all other goals worthless in comparison.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Dauphin Kneels for the Blessed Sacrament

September 25, 2014
French Carriage
Louis, son of Louis XV and Dauphin of France, was riding in a carriage with his sisters and wife on one of Paris’s boulevards, when he came across a small procession that was bringing the Blessed Sacrament to the house of a sick person. The prince ordered his carriage to stop, and joined by the other passengers he got out and followed the procession on foot. Arriving at the house, Prince Louis knelt devoutly at the sick person’s side, staying on his knees until the Viaticum had been administered.

 Jacques Necker, Galerie de l’ancienne cour (Maestricht: J. E. Dufour, 1787), Vol. 3, p. 157