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Monday 16 June 2014

Stop And Pray This Today

A Needed Reminder of A Powerful Litany

Litany of Our Lady of the Angels

Under thy title so dear to Saint Francis, 
Our Blessed Lady of Angels, we hail thee! 
Give us thine aid, that our lives, more seraphic, 
Never may fail thee.

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary: 
R. And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.
Lord, have mercy on us. 
Christ, have mercy on us. 
Christ, hear us. 
Christ, graciously hear us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. *

Holy Mary, Our Lady of the Angels, *
Our Lady, to whom the Father sent His messenger, *
Our Lady, before whom knelt the Archangel Gabriel, *
Our Lady, consenting to become the Mother of God, *
Our Lady, whose Angel Michael defends the people of God, *
Our Lady, whose Angel Raphael guides us safely on our pilgrimage, *
Our Lady, whose angels serve as our Guardians, *
Our Lady, whose angels bore thy little house of Nazareth to Loreto, *
Our Lady, whose angels carried thy image to Genezzano, *
Our Lady, whose chapel of Portiuncula, the gift of holy Benedict, was the cradle of the Franciscan Order, * 
Our Lady, for whose chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels thou didst obtain plenary favors from thy Son and from His Vicar, *
Our Lady, whose Little Poor Man is hailed as the Seraphic Father, *
Our Lady, who didst cause him to be given the vacated throne from which the rebellious angel Lucifer was cast down, *
Our Lady, at whose Assumption hosts of angels flew heavenward in thy company, *
Our Lady, Queen of Thrones and Dominations, Principalities and the whole angelic Court of Heaven, *
Our Lady, ever surrounded by myriad seraphs, *
Holy Mary, Our Lady of the Angels, *
Holy Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, *

V. Pray for us, Queen of the Angelic Hosts:
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: 
O God, Who dost permit us annually to celebrate anew the dedication day of the Little Portion of Our Lady of the Angels: graciously hear the prayers of Thy people and grant that all who enter that chapel or another as representing it, to ask mercy and graces, may rejoice in the plenary answer to their prayers. Through Christ Our Lord. R. Amen.

O God Who through Thy most Holy Mother, exalted above the angel choirs, hast called all men of good will to receive Thy mercy: grant through the same to us, who memorialize the consecration of her chapel, that now we may be freed of our sins and may obtain the fulness of grace, until at last we attain the company of her blessed angels and the joy of her heavenly mansion. Who livest and reignest world without end. R. Amen 

Mary Queen of Angels and Saints
from "My Prayer Book" by Fr. Lasance

I only can write this..

Two years, and then four years...let those who are listening, heed. 

On Suffering, Again

Sometimes, a little pamphlet, an old Catholic pamphlet can make one’s day.

I picked up a pamphlet someone was getting rid of from 1998. It is on “suffering”.

Here is a summary of the wisdom of Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, O.P., who wrote this little gem. (My comments are in parentheses).

“Let us remember clearly that: 1) Sufferings come from God for our benefit, (I add, all suffering is willed by God for our own good or the good of others); 2) When we are in the state of grace, we derive immense merit from every suffering borne patiently, even the little sufferings of our daily lives (and I add that if one can endure little ones, one can endure the bigger ones); 3) God will give us abundant strength to bear our sufferings if we only ask Him, (ASK!); 4) If we bear our sufferings patiently, they lose their sting and bitterness (takes practice, so God might give you more suffering if you do not “get this” first time around); 5) Above all, every suffering is a share in the Passion of Our Lord; 6) By our sufferings, we can free ourselves in great part, or entirely, from the pains of Purgatory (one can ask to have one’s purgatory on earth); 7) By bearing our sufferings patiently, we win the glorious crown of martyrdom.”

I want to comment on two of the above points more at length, especially in light of St. Angela’s book I have been reviewing this past week. To share in the Passion of the Lord is not only a necessity for attaining heaven, but a privilege.

To be asked to suffer with Christ seems to me a great honor.

Secondly, this idea of obtaining a crown of martyrdom is found in several commentaries of the saints. I may write a post on this later. However, to obtain a crown of martyrdom for suffering, one must be suffering for Christ, and not for our own sins.

We must do penance, hence the purgation of the Dark Night, in order to be freed from sin.

Suffering over and above that penance is the sharing of the suffering of Christ-a very different plane of suffering.

Although I am posting this on Monday, I am writing this on Sunday evening, the end of the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. Recall that God the Father suffered with and because of His Son’s Passion. How fitting it is that Father’s Day fell on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, for we have a Father Who not only gave us His Son, but allowed Himself to be one with Him even in the Passion.

To be continued…

From a Commentator

Someone who was discussing the post concerning how it is harder to be holy in America than in Europe, a person who has been to Europe and lives in the States, said, immediately, “That is because of Protestantism.” She could see that the grayness of the Protestant congregations had caused confusion, as to evil and good. In Europe, the black is secularism, Marxism, relativism, and atheism.  Black is black and white is white. The lack of God is obvious and so is the resulting falling off of normal morality, of natural law. There is no middle ground anymore.

Where there is a heritage of strong Protestantism, with Protestants believing that contraception is fine, that divorce and re-marriage with annulment are fine, that the suppression of the seven sacraments is a “reform”, that the false ideas of sola fide and sola scriptura somehow justifies the throwing out of 2,000 years of Tradition, the confusion enables people to think they are following God’s ways, when in fact, they are not.

St. Angela, (as well as many other saints), quotes the Scriptures wherein Christ says, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.”

This is a hard saying which many Catholics no longer believe because of the pain of fallen-away or lapsed Catholics in their own families, of unbaptized grandchildren and the living in sin of so many in families. The acceptance of fornication is almost a given here in the States.

But, Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, clearly states that life comes only in the reception of His Body, His Blood.  The words of God could not be clearer.  How sad it is that some do not take the Lord’s words seriously.

Those is Europe who reject the saying of Christ no longer care for religion. Those in America who reject His words have created a great morass of religious chaos and, finally, a grayness which is actually black.  But, some simply cannot see this. My commentator did, God bless her.

Perfection Series II: Cardinal Manning on Giving Up Self-Will

Cardinal Manning cuts to the quick concerning why so many people who are baptized and confirmed, have the gifts of wisdom and counsel, as well as discernment, and still go astray, into foolishness.

Here is his answer, to a question several readers have asked me to delineate. I use his words which are found in the long perfection series similar to those of other saints, reiterated by me, concerning the loss of discernment. Let the holy and expert Cardinal answer: “This gift of counsel lies dormant in them; it is oppressed, kept down by their own mental and moral faults. They have made their ear dull of hearing and their eye dark so that they cannot discern. The first great antagonist of this spirit of counsel is the wisdom of the world.  And the wisdom of the world is the fashion and opinion of men possessed with the spirit which is of the world and not of God. The maxims, the traditions, the habits of thought, and the habits of life which spring from flesh and blood…these things stifle the voice of counsel.”

Too many Catholics do not want to admit that the thinking of the world perverts their own minds and therefore, their consciences.

I have written a lot on this blog on the ego Believe it or not, people object to me writing that the ego gets in the way of building up the Church.

Manning states the problem better than I do. “The love of pre-eminence; the inordinate desire of their own proper excellence; a ser-conscious straining to be spiritual guides of other men, to correct their faults, to criticize their actions and their states before God, and to go about setting others right—these are some of the least perceived and subtilest workings of pride….The greatest intellects are sometimes found in the smallest moral characters. The want of counsel makes them to be strange mixtures of greatness and littleness.”

I have struggled on this blog to know what and when to state some things critical of others or even of groups. One must look carefully at one’s self to look at motives and leanings, the lack of purity and the need for healing. I have chosen to back off from criticizing the clergy, for example, believing that I cannot judge publicly and that it is better if I pray for those I think have gone astray and are no longer good pastors.

The other great sin of those who have received baptismal and confirmed gifts is that of presumption. Manning notes this, “This presumption, the root of which is in all of us, will, if indulged, destroy and utterly extinguish the gift of counsel.”

I have seen this happen among good people who are working in the Church. I have seen this in fellow bloggers, as well as in myself. One must be willing to let God deal with us, take us through purgation.

Presumption can lead to becoming rash and not praying to God for guidance.
It can lead to impetuosity, which is of the flesh, not the Spirit, states Manning. “They invert the divine order; and having set out in the way of their own choosing, they come to crosses and sorrows.  Then, they begin to ask for counsel, and perhaps they ask it of God; but they ask it too late. They are already so committed that they cannot go back. At last they so persuade themselves, that they will not follow good advice even if it were given.”

This is why we need to find good spiritual directors, which is so hard at this time.  We cannot fall into a pattern of trying to force our will upon the Will of God. How silly it is to think that we can make God’s will give way.

Manning quotes the great St. Augustine: “Thou, O Lord, givest counsel to all that ask. If they ask of Thee divers things, Thou always answerest he same; Thou answerest clearly enough, but they will not hear Thee, for they ask the things they desire, and they wish to make Thy will bend to theirs. Thou answerest that which is Thy will, and they hear what they will not; and therefore they do it not. He is the best servant who does not desire that God should say the things that he wills, but who desires himself to will the things that God says.”

This is the reason for the Dark Night. The purgation of self-will and “self-counsel” that is the “pride of his own will, and the pride of his own judgment” must happen.

Submitting to the Will of God really means giving in. Manning states, “When you kneel at the holy Mass, put your heart upon the paten and let it be offered up. God will counsel you. If you do His will, even though it cross your own, then you have the surest sign that you are not following your own choice.”

This purgation of the will leads, finally, to purity of heart.  That is the reason for such purgation. One has to stop playing God and let God be God in one’s life. 

Manning advises us, “Desire, then, to please God above all things, and all things shall be added unto you. If you cannot do all you desire, at least desire great things for His sake.”

This is what it means to become like a little child. Children who have good parents implicitly trust those parents in love. “Freely choose His service; for it is your freedom, and its own exceeding great reward,” which are the Cardinal’s last words on this subject.

To be continued…

Which nation is the most techy?

The work of trying to find wifi for free, or at least for the price of a cuppa, has been trying. I have only found two places in this metropolis which have free wifi for customers.  I have not found any “hot spots” either.

Amazing. This means either that the area is full of people who can afford wifi out of their homes and/or phones, or that this is not a high usage area.

I find it puzzling that the supposedly most technically advanced country in the world can actually have cities over 100,000 people and no hot spots, no public wifi in the town center or more than two places which offer the public wifi.

Why do you suppose this is the case? Is it the lack of interest in serving a wider public?

Is it the horrible monopolies of the companies? Is it just plain incompetence?

The mail boxes have almost all disappeared as well. If one wants to mail an international letter, one must go to one of two post offices, both of which one needs a car to find.

Are Americans becoming so isolationist that the local post offices in stores no longer take international letters?  I have been told this.

What an odd country.

Perfection Series II: Manning on the Prudent and the Wise

This section on the gifts of the Holy Spirit truly strikes at the heart of the new Church in some parishes. Years ago, someone in authority in a chancery office told me that all priests should have business degrees. He thought that running the finances of a parish trumped all other pastoral duties, obviously, including dispensing the sacraments.

I thought “Oh dear, St. John Vianney would not have made it.”

His answer is what Manning would call, perhaps, a prudent answer, based on the ideals of the world regarding monetary solvency.

However, the wise man would have been called by this chancery authority a fool, for the wise man sees things through the eyes of heaven.

Manning writes this: Suppose any man to do what Saint Charles Borromeo did-sell the whole of his patrimony, and distribute it all in one day to the poor. The world would certainly call him a fool. The prudent men of this world would have thought him mad. The political economist would have said that he committed a double evil: that his profuse almsgiving only promoted indolence and beggary and that stripping of himself of all things was a signal improvidence.”

Wisdom sees the world and heaven with the eyes of a “higher light”, as Manning notes.

“Prudence, which belongs to the natural order of this world, aims at two things: it aims at conduct which shall be irreproachable in the eyes of men, and at a certain happiness which shall be so attained…Wisdom aims at conformity to the perfections of God; at a state which is supernatural and eternal; at an end which is above this earth; at a bliss which the world can neither give nor understand…”

Manning refers to wisdom as in the gift of counsel, which includes prudence but more. He states, “It is certain quality or perfection infused into the reason of man by the grace of the Holy Ghost, whereby the reason is made able to discern not only right and wrong, nor only the way of obedience, but also the way of perfection; that is, to know that which, between two things both good and right, is better, higher, and more pleasing in the sight of God. It gives also, together with that discernment, a certain promptness and facility; that is, a ready will to do and to carry out into practice that which we see to be the higher and better part.”

St. Francis would have been deemed imprudent. So would have St. Claire and St. Etheldreda.

Here is Manning again: “Prudence commands us with an imperial voice to obey the commandments of God and the precepts of the Church. But the gift of counsel moves, invites, and draws the hearts to go beyond that which is literally necessary, to do that which is called a work of supererogation; that is , we go over and beyond that to which we are bound.”  St. Charles Borromeo’s  actions provide the Cardinal with an example for us. 

Counsel is the gift which calls us to do more, and which gives the motive to glorify God by our decisions which go beyond those of most people. Counsel shows us the way to perfection, as one sees two goods, but one is better, more difficult. The story of the Rich Young Man in the Scriptures is an example of a Jewish youth keeping all the Commandments, which is a good, of course, and necessary, but Christ called him to move beyond the good to the perfect.

Counsel speaks to the heart. I find this Cardinal Manning’s most convincing meditation on this gift.

It is worth quoting this section at length.

“The first effect of it on the heart, I will say of a man of the world, is to turn him to God. How many times have you heard a voice in your heart saying to you, ‘If I live on as I am now, shall I make a good end? I desire to die the death of the just; but have I begun to live the life of the just?” Our Lord has said, ‘Behold, I stand at the gate and knock.’ Have I yet opened to Him?

Manning had a great love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but I am also reminded of the famous painting of Jesus at the door. Christ knocks at the door of the heart over and over, reminding each one of us that to follow Him is to leave the world to whatever extent we can. Manning writes, “The voice of counsel has been pleading with you to give up the world…And do I believe, and can I say to myself I know the whole truth as it is in Jesus, and as it was revealed on the day of Pentecost—every doctrine, every commandment, and every counsel?’

Just repeating these words for my readers touches my heart and brings me joy.  But, the good Cardinal continues to write words which bring me sorrow.

“The voice of counsel in this land of England is speaking in a multitude of hearts conscious of their uncertainty, conscious of their twilight, conscious of their doubts, and is saying, ‘Turn to Me while there is still time.’”

How I would love to return to England and work for the Church there, to bring those who may be prudent into a realization of living in the gift of counsel.

Manning stresses that the gift of counsel reveals the truths of the Catholic Church to us, bringing us to the responsibility of choosing obedience in order to be saved. But, this step into orthodoxy, as I have noted in the perfection series, is only the first step to becoming perfect.

And, Manning refers to the two conversions, also highlighted in the perfection series, from the works of the saints and from Garrigou-Lagrange.

“Every soul has two conversions: the first, to the truth and to penance; and the second, to a higher life and to perfection; that is, it is not enough for you to simply to know the truth, and to obey it in the things that are necessary-you must go further…”  He reminds us that all men are called to perfection. 

We must deny ourselves anything which will either lead us to venial sins or lead others to sin.  Manning encourages parents, for example, to deny themselves “lawful things”. This ideal, is, of course, runs contrary to materialism and consumerism of the Western world.  We reject anything which may offend God or others.  We have free will to reject things and people and places which cause offense.  Manning writes, “These are counsels; they are not commandments; they are left o the free will of those who desire to be perfect in God’s service.”

I wish I could have met Cardinal Manning. More than many holy men of the 19th century, he speaks to us today.

To be continued….