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Friday 1 August 2014

Mother Rita, RIP

I am surprised today to be told that Mother Rita, who was my immediate head when I was in the monastery in Cobh, has died.

She was healthy when I saw her last in May of 2013 in London, when we met up again in April, when I was there. The convent will miss her terribly. She had been in a nursing order for years when she requested entrance to Tyburn. She worked with me in Cobh, as I cleaned the guest houses and did other cleaning while I was there. She was a great companion as well as head, helping me discern things and giving me advice.

She was a small woman from African descent and full of energy and love. I cannot be in Tyburn, but I offer my condolences to the community there. The Benedictine way is a shortcut to perfection. God did not want me to stay, but how I miss Tyburn.

Mother Rita, God bless you. I am sure you are with God. Intercede for me and for vocations.

Good News!

Personally, I hate the party atmosphere the "kiss of peace" creates. After the Our Father, I want to pray and get ready for receiving Communion as well as adoring the Lord and God. 

Here is an excerpt from this blog I check regularly:

As I mentioned before, Pope Francis hides his personality during Mass and become very ad orientem even when celebrating the Mass facing the congregation. He doesn't like antics or abuse during Mass and applause for him as pope has ceased during his Masses. For example even during Pope Benedict's time, there was all kind of applause as the pope entered for Mass at St. Peter's and Pope Benedict would gesture and acknowledge those doing so thus encouraging it. Pope Francis is self-enclosed as he enters for Mass and the applause has ceased!
So I suspect we will see more from Pope Francis as he strives to clean up liturgical abuses. I think we will also see in the future a revised Roman Missal allowing what the Anglican Use Mass has recently incorporated in its liturgical options in the appendix: The restoration of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, the Offertory Prayers of the EF Mass and the Last Gospel as well as revised rubrics for the Roman Canon similar to the EF's rubrics. These options were approved by Pope Francis too!

Night Vision

We shall be walking in darkness soon. Some are already. Some live in dark places.

We need night vision. Night vision is the result of the purification of our senses and spirit. Night vision is discernment. Too many Catholics do not have it.

The Book of Jeremiah is the book for our times. Jeremiah gave many warnings to the Jewish people. He warned about the coming exile, but few listened.

He complained that his name was smeared among the people and that his words were scorned. God told the people that He was weary of wooing them.

Strong words. Jeremiah received joy in the acceptance of his role.

I am reminded of Matthew 22:1-14. The king called many to his marriage feast, but they were too busy, mostly with work, with business, to stop and celebrate. Then, the king destroyed those people and ordered his servants to go the the byways and highways and bring in beggars and street people.

One did not accept the wedding garment the king provided for all his guests. He refused to "change".

He was cast out into the darkness.

Note, darkness.

We are all about to be cast into a darkness which the earth has never seen before. The cries of aborted children cry out to God for vengeance. He is answering.

The parable ends with Christ stating this, "May are called, but few are chosen."

The chosen respond to God's Will, the listen to the Bridegroom, they beg Him not to stop wooing.

We shall need night vision. Are you preparing?

St, Bernard of Clairvaux called Lucifer the Nightbearer, the Deathbearer.  The great Bernard also says that God rules over the children of obedience, while satan rules over "the sons of pride." But, as the saint notes, the saints go forward in darkness, in dishonor, following the way to God without faltering.

Can we do this? Can we avoid revolting against God, which is the sin of pride?

The fourth degree of humility as outlined by the Rule of St. Benedict and referred to by St. Bernard is something we must possess in the night to come. "The fourth degree of humility is that he hold to patience with a silent mind when in this obedience he meets with difficulties and contradictions and even any kind of injustice, enduring all without growing weary or running away."

I did not pass some tests on this level. Too often, I want to defend myself or cry out against an injustice. But, God is wanting me and you to learn a patience in the silence of our minds.

This silence is not known to the devils, or to those who are evil, who as Bernard describes, are constantly in motion, tossed to and fro. If you remember Dante's description of hell, so many people are constantly in motion, as punishment for sin.

When we walk in the Night of Trials, in order not to make a habit of sinning, we must turn to the light. The light is God's Life in us, grace. Those who choose grace will live without sin or malice. Those who refuse grace will continue in the habits of sin. They have no fear, but neither does the person who trusts totally in God.

In the Night, we must cry out to God to take over where our weaknesses end. But, our natural strengths can get in the way as well. St. Bernard warns against relying on one's strengths, instead of relying totally on God.

The 54 Day Rosary Novena of Our Lady of Pompeii

Today, I started the 54 day rosary novena to Our Lady of Pompeii. A friend of mine just finished one on July 26th, the Feast of SS. Joachim and Anna, which inspired me to do this one.

If any one wants to join me in my intentions, please do. There is confusion as to the origin, but I shall go with the version in a little book of novenas which someone just sent me. Here is the first part, about Blessed Bartolo Longo, who had been involved in satanic worship as a priest of satan. He prayed to Mary when he was suicidal and was healed. He vowed to spread the devotion of the rosary for this deliverance.

Here is the the first part of the story.

In the autumn of 1872, Bartolo Longo (a lawyer who was born at Latiano in Brindisi, Italy, on February 11, 1841, and died at Pompeii on October 5, 1926) arrived at the plain of Pompeii to take care of the affairs of Countess Marianna Farnararo De Fusco. In that fertile agricultural region infested with robbers he also began to spread the Rosary among the sharecroppers of De Fusco and the farmers of the place.

(He married the Countess and they had a Josephite marriage.)

With his wife's help, he inaugurated a confraternity of the Rosary and he had need of a picture of the Blessed Virgin before which the Rosary could be recited every day. He obtained one as a gift from a religious of the Monastery of the Rosary at Porta Medina, Sister M. Concetta de Litala, who had been holding it for the Dominican priest Alberto Radente. The latter had acquired it from a junk-shop dealer in Naples for a very small sum. The painting was of modest artistic merit and in very poor condition. It portrayed Our Lady of the Rosary, with Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena.
Arriving at Naples on November 13, 1875, the picture was provisionally exposed in a small declining chapel. But in that same month, Bartolo Longo received permission from the Bishop of Nola to build a new church.
Miracles were reported and pilgrimages began to frequent the place. Hence, in 1883, when the sanctuary was completed (and would be consecrated on May 8, 1891), Bartolo Longo entrusted the architect Rispoli with the construction of the throne of the Virgin and directed an appeal to the faithful: "In this place selected for its prodigies, we wish to leave to present and future generations a monument to the Queen of Victories that will be less unworthy of her greatness but more worthy of our faith and love." Four years later saw the celebration of a threefold feast of the inauguration, the crowning, and the enthroning of the picture of Our Lady of the Rosary.
The picture, already summarily restored in 1875, was subjected in 1879 to a second and far more accurate retouching which stabilized the colors and the image. Finally, in 1965, at Rome, the cloth was renovated for a third time, at the hands of the Benedictine Monks. Moreover, before being returned to Pompeii (on April 25, 1965), the picture remained in the Vatican Basilica by express request of Paul VI.
During the homily (March 23, 1965), the Pope expressed the hope that "just as the image of the Virgin has been repaired and decorated .... so may the image of Mary that all Christians must have within themselves be restored, renovated, and enriched." At the end of the Mass, the Pope solemnly enthroned the Child and Madonna, placing on their heads two precious diadems that had been offered by the faithful.
Alongside the sanctuary of faith and Rosarian prayer, Bartolo Longo also caused to rise up in Pompeii a sanctuary of charity, with his multiple works and institutions (Orphanages, Sons of Prisoners, Daughters of Prisoners, Daughters of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii, and Dominican Tertiaries).
Most notable of all is the "Supplication to the Queen of Victories" which, begun at Pompeii on October 1883, is recited all over the world on May 8, and on the first Sunday in October.".
On October 21, 1979, John Paul II went on pilgrimage to Pompeii and gazed out from the very balcony from which Bartolo Longo (in an intuition of faith on May 5, 1901) had "seen gazing out" the white figure of the representative of Christ to bless the people calling for universal Peace."
On October 26, 1980, Bartolo Longo was beatified by John Paul II and termed the "man of the Madonna," and the "Apostle of the Rosary."
[Taken from Dictionary of Mary, Catholic Book Publishing Co., NY, 1985]

The second part of the story has to do with the miraculous healing of Fortuna Agrelli. She was extremely ill and in pain for 13 months. Mary appeared to her in the same manner as the painting belonging to the shrine set up by Blessed Bartolo. Mary told Fortuna to pray the three rosaries in a row as a rosary novena. The girl was healed, and the devotion spread, being approved by Pope Leo XXIII.

On October 26, 1980, St. John Paul II canonized Blessed Bartolo, calling him the "Apostle of the Rosary"  More can be found here.

I am saying the version in the book by Michael Dubruiel, which one can buy here.

Re-post and Addition at The End

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

A Serious Question for Women

One of my dear friends, a widow from the States, is pursuing the road to perfection. When we see each other once a year, we discuss everything we can in the few days we have to spare in our travels.

This woman, who I shall call Elizabeth, asked me a very excellent and perturbing question recently when we met up.

She said, and this is a paraphrase, "A woman cannot pursue this road to purification and perfection with a man, can she?"

I was taken aback, but she has a point. I do know of two women who have husbands who allow them to pursue perfection in their marriages. The husbands acknowledge that Christ comes first and is the True Bridegroom, and they are there to help themselves and their wives become saints.

My friend was dubious. I do not blame her. Elizabeth is very beautiful and was married twice. Both of her husbands died; one of a heart attack and one of cancer. I knew her second husband, a great Christian man, but not a Catholic. She said, "In my experience, all most men want is sex. I finally realized this, and will not marry again."

Brave and focused woman.

But, the question is real. And, disturbing. To find a male person who would not be jealous of Christ, who does not see that the real purpose of marriage is procreation, and the leading of each other to heaven, is almost impossible.

Many of my young female friends want to marry, but they cannot find holy men. They will settle for nothing less.

Good. A marriage must be based on Christ and the goal of all Catholics-life everlasting.

When Christ is first in a marriage, this means that both partners have a relationship with Christ and with the Church.

 On August 1st, 2014, my addition is this. Some men have spoken with me recently about being "yoked unequally". By this they mean that they have decided to walk the road of perfection, but their wives are not in the same place.

I can recommend three things. One, absolutely get a good, trad spiritual director. Two, be patient. As the man is the head of the spiritual family, it is easier to move the family to the right place through the husband. Three, read Scott Hahn. He had to wait for his wife on their journey.

Third Order Doctor of The Church Re-Visited

17 Jul 2013
Thoughts from St. Catherine of Siena on Grace and Mercy Towards Perfection. Posted by Supertradmum. “Oh! Supreme and Eternal Goodness of God, who am I, miserable one, that You, Supreme and Eternal Father, have ...
11 Mar 2014
Another reference to The Dialogues and other writings of St. Catherine of Siena. In some translations of her treatises and Dialogue,. the sins referred by Christ regarding His priests. point to the fact that if these men said the ...
22 Jul 2013
Please, especially new readers, check out St. Catherine of Siena and all the Doctors of the Church in that series on this blog. Follow the tags. A brief section from Catherine's Dialogues seems appropriate today.
08 Feb 2013
Look at St Therese's Little Way which has inspired countless people to practise charity and humility in their daily lives. In the same way, we can look at St Catherine of Siena and learn something about the practise of holiness.
Repost on St. Catherine of Siena on Self-Will
10 May 2014
Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux and Hildegard of Bingen. I am concentrating on their holiness and some of the writings. The reason a person is declared a Doctor of the Church is sort of like an honorary ...
03 May 2014
More, More from St. Catherine of Siena and St.Therese, the Little Flower. Posted by Supertradmum. You ought to despise and hate the ministers' sins and try to dress them in the clothes of charity and holy prayer and wash ...
03 May 2014
“In them is fulfilled the saying of the sweet and amorous Word, My only-begotten Son, in the gospel when He replied to Peter's demand, 'Master, we have left everything for your love's sake, and have followed You, what will ...
04 Sep 2013
Soon, God willing, I shall go back to another look on this blog to one of the Doctors of the Church who I discovered in depth when I had cancer in 2009, St. Catherine of Siena. She is another one of those saints for our times.
29 Apr 2013
The Delphic Oracle and St. Catherine of Siena have something in common, which is not unusual, being that God works through many means to bring us all to perfection. Garrigou-Lagrange in the post yesterday, was .
22 Jul 2013
Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest. Labels: doctors of the Church, dominicans, St. Catherine of Siena ... Dedicated to St. Etheldreda: Abbess of Ely. Dedicated to St. Etheldreda: Abbess of Ely a blog since ...
25 May 2013
St. Catherine of Alexandria, (4th Century). St. Catherine of Siena, (25 March 1347 in Siena – 29 April 1380). St. Catherine de Rici, (AD 1522 – 1589). Some other saints who experienced this are SS. Teresa of Avila, Angela of ...
17 Oct 2013
I have written in the past about St. Catherine of Siena's making a cell in one's mind....Can you do this, not only for your own protection, but for the building of the Church? "Build a cell inside your mind, from which you can never ...
23 Jul 2013
I think I realized that the perfection series will never end. Of course. Today, I am looking again at St. Catherine of Siena. Christ tells her that her Reason must be enlightened on this journey to perfection. As my regular readers ...
21 Jun 2012
The Delphic Oracle and St. Catherine of Siena have something in common, which is not unusual, being that God works through many means to bring us all to perfection. Garrigou-Lagrange in the post yesterday, was ...
16 Dec 2013
St. Catherine of Siena once said “if you are what you should be, you would set the whole world on fire.” If we would only let God accomplish what he desires to do through us. Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta once was asked by a ...
06 Feb 2014
The entrance into the illuminative way, which is the second conversion described by St. Catherine of Siena, Blessed Henry Suso, Tauler, and Father Lallemant, is called by St. John of the Cross the passive purification of the ...
22 Dec 2013
Most of the really young saints achieved holiness quickly, and we can look at the lives of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Catherine of Siena as examples of meteor-like saints. (I am omitting martyrs ...
23 Aug 2013. Labels: catholic teaching, church teaching, confirmation, Dark Night, dominicans, perfection, perfection again, saints and martyrs, St. Catherine of Siena ...
28 Sep 2013
St. Catherine of Siena notes how the initial stage of the journey is characterized by a very useful fear of hell, a “slavish fear,” as she puts it, which later moves on to what she calls “mercenary love” and, finally, on to “perfect love ...
06 Dec 2013
Teresa of Avila, Bernard, and many others, realizing that they were busy in the world as well. The contemplative prayer and meditation allowed them to be effective in the world. St. Catherine of Siena was a great player in the .
10 Aug 2013
But, I am following the advice of St. Catherine of Siena, which I have put on this blog before. I am building the little cell in my mind from which I shall never flee. Here is a posting with many, not all, of the articles on St. Catherine ...
01 Feb 2013
Christ words in the Dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena on good and bad priests: “You should love them therefore by reason of the virtue and dignity of the Sacrament, and by reason of that very virtue and dignity you should ...
14 Nov 2013
I shall save the best one until last, the Universal Doctor of the Church, Thomas Aquinas, and as we already looked at St. Catherine of Siena, a Third Order Dominican, I can concentrate on St. Albert the Great today. Again, I am ...
12 Feb 2014
St. Catherine of Siena shows in this passage that the imperfect soul which loves the Lord with a love that is still mercenary, ought to follow Peter's example after his denial of Christ. Not infrequently at this time Providence ...
21 May 2013
This is a gift which has been given to many saints, such as St. Bernard of Clarirvaux and most of the Doctors of the Church. Clearly, St. Catherine of Siena had this gift, to give one example in addition to the one above. Second ...
23 Feb 2012
It is crucial for the entire world that the Papacy remains independent of any other country or nation. St. Thomas Becket knew this. St. Catherine of Siena knew this, which is why she begged Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon, ...
30 May 2013
St. Catherine of Siena pointed out in her Dialogue that the contemplation of our indigence and wretchedness and that of the infinite majesty and goodness of God are like the lowest and highest points of a circle that could ...
07 Jun 2014
We shall see farther on that, as St. Catherine of Siena says in her Dialogue (chaps. 60, 63), the second conversion of the apostles took place more properly at the end of the Passion when Peter wept over his denial, and that ...
18 Jul 2012
St. Catherine of Siena's Mystical Marriage ... We can also understand the deep desire of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus: "In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love".These testimonies are representative of the full ...
24 May 2013
St. Catherine of Siena, too, taught the same doctrine: that the knowledge of God and that of our indigence are like the highest and the lowest points of a circle which could grow forever.(25) This infused knowledge of our ...
08 Aug 2013
I shall save the best one until last, the Universal Doctor of the Church, Thomas Aquinas, and as we already looked at St. Catherine of Siena, a Third Order Dominican, I can concentrate on St. Albert the Great today. Again, I am ...
18 Dec 2013
1350 St. Catherine of Siena Italy 1425 Wind and Shadows France 1440 Saint Joan France 1460 The Conscience Game England 1500 The Friar and the Knight Spain 1510 Leaving Matters to God Spain 1510 No Place for ...

Re-post on Vocations II

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

An Open Letter to My Readers...

Dear Readers,

I have been so humbled by comments on this blog, and in my e-mail, as there are so many great "supertradmums"  and supertrad-dads out there, as well as supertradsingles. I have heard from married women with tons of kids, home schooling and living the virtuous life at home; single women, some of whom are professionals, or struggling to find work, and some who are in third orders. I have heard from traditional dads and retired men, who are so fantastically Catholic, that I know there is a strong remnant out there, carrying on the Faith to the next generation.

I have heard from students, in law, in medicine, in the seminary, who want to follow Christ in perfect obedience to the Gospel and the Teaching Magisterium of the Church. That we all belong to the one, true, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church is too wonderful to even contemplate without joy.

Thank you, all my readers, as you keep me humble and in my place...You are the shock troops. I am merely the correspondent behind the lines.


Female war correspondents in France during World War II. (Left to right): Ruth Cowan, Associated Press; Sonia Tomara, New York Herald Tribune; Rosette Hargrove, Newspaper Enterprise Association; Betty Knox, London Evening Standard; Iris Carpenter, Boston Globe and Erika Mann, Liberty magazine.

Re-post on A Doctor of the Church in A Third Order I

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

St. Francis de Sales, the Fourth Franciscan out of Three!!!!!! Doctors of the Church Series continued

I made a terrible mistake and apologize to the Franciscans. St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church, was a Third Order Franciscan

Naughty me. Mea culpa....

So, before tackling the great Dominicans, I need to cover this great man's writings on spirituality. This is Part 17 of the series.

He was only 56 when he died in 1622, but left behind wonderful writings for us. Here is a bit of his great insights into the holy life.

I concentrate today on the second purification on the way to perfection. This Doctor is a great saint for teaching us the way to perfection.

Notice how the saint refers to the mind as an attribute of the soul. Without going into that study, his ideas are close to those of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (my favourite DoC) who also saw the mind as part of the soul. This idea is not so common in modern theologians.

His clarity about breaking away from the habits of venial sin can be traced here in these selections from Introduction to the Devout Life.  The pages can be found before, one and after this link.

Be sure, my child, that if you seek to lead a devout life, 
you must not merely forsake sin; but you must further 
cleanse your heart from all affections pertaining to sin; for, to say nothing of the danger of a relapse, these wretched affections will perpetually 
enfeeble your mind, and clog it, so that you will be unable to be diligent, 
ready and frequent in good works, wherein nevertheless lies the very essence of all true devotion. 

Souls which, in spite of having forsaken sin, 
yet retain such likings and longings, remind us of those persons who, without being actually ill, are pale and sickly, languid in all they do, eating without appetite, 
sleeping without refreshment, laughing without mirth, 
dragging themselves about rather than walking briskly. 

Such souls as I have described lose all the grace of their good deeds, which are probably few and feeble, through their spiritual languor.

This last point has been made by Garrigou-Lagrange and other writers; that we get no merit unless we are in the state of illumination. I know this is hard, but it is true.

The work we do in the Illumination State comes from the Holy Spirit, and not from ourselves. 
Here is the great saint on this purification of tendencies.

We must make up our minds not to commit even one venial sin in order to avoid these tendencies to sin. I finally found one good priest in London, and a younger one at that, who understands this and can give absolution accordingly, instead of denying that this is possible. We need more priests who understand that we must fight against the tendencies to venial sin.

You will find then, my child, that besides the mortal sins and their affections from which your soul has already been purged, you are beset by sundry inclinations and tendencies to venial sin; mind, I do not say you will find venial sins, but the inclination and tendency to them. Now, one is quite different from the other. We can never be altogether free from venial sin,--at least not until after a very long persistence in this purity; but we can be without any affection for venial sin.
It is altogether one thing to have said something unimportant not strictly true, out of carelessness or liveliness, and quite a different matter to take pleasure in lying, and in the habitual practice thereof. But I tell you that you must purify your soul from all inclination to venial sin;--that is to say, you must not voluntarily retain any deliberate intention of permitting yourself to commit any venial sin whatever. It would be most unworthy consciously to admit anything so displeasing to God, as the will to offend Him in anywise. Venial sin, however small, is displeasing to God, although it be not so displeasing as the greater sins which involve eternal condemnation; and if venial sin is displeasing to Him, any clinging which we tolerate to mortal sin is nothing less than a resolution to offend His Divine Majesty. Is it really possible that a rightly disposed soul can not only offend God, but take pleasure therein?
These inclinations, my child, are in direct opposition to devotion, as inclinations to mortal sin are to love:--they weaken the mental power, hinder Divine consolations, and open the door to temptations;--and although they may not destroy the soul, at least they bring on very serious disease. 

"Dead flies cause the ointment to send forth a stinking savour," says the Wise Man.He means that the flies which settle upon and taste of the ointment only damage it temporarily, leaving the mass intact, but if they fall into it, and die there, they spoil and corrupt it. Even so venial sins which pass over a devout soul without being harboured, do not permanently injure it, but if such sins are fostered and cherished, they destroy the sweet savour of that soul--that is to say, its devotion. The spider cannot kill bees, but it can spoil their honey, and so encumber their combs with its webs in course of time, as to hinder the bees materially. Just so, though venial sins may not lose the soul, they will spoil its devotion, and so cumber its faculties with bad habits and evil inclinations, as to deprive it of all that cheerful readiness which is the very essence of true devotion; that is to say, if they are harboured in the conscience by delight taken therein. 
A trifling inaccuracy, a little hastiness in word or action, some small excess in mirth, in dress, in gaiety, may not be very important, if these are forthwith heeded and swept out as spiritual cobwebs;--but if they are permitted to linger in the heart, or, worse still, if we take pleasure in them and indulge them, our honey will soon be spoilt, and the hive of our conscience will be cumbered and damaged. But I ask again, how can a generous heart take delight in anything it knows to be displeasing to its God, or wish to do what offends Him?

So this saint backs up St. Benedict on frivolity and unnecessary mirth, as in the other posts today and previously on laughter and silliness.

Re-post on A Vocation

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Virgin of The Order of Malta

St. Flora, 1347A.D. Patron of abandoned, converts, single laywomen, and victims of betrayal. Flora was born in France about the year 1309. She was a devout child and later resisted all attempts on the part of her parents to find a husband for her. In 1324, she entered the Priory of Beaulieu of the Hospitaller nuns of St. John of Jerusalem. Here she was beset with many and diverse trials, fell into a depressed state, and were made sport of by some of her religious sisters. However, she never ceased to find favor with God and was granted many unusual and mystical favors. One year on the feast of All Saints, she fell into an ecstasy and took no nourishment until three weeks later on the feast of St. Cecelia. On another occasion, while meditating on the Holy Spirit, she was raised four feet from the ground and hung in the air in full view of many onlookers. She also seemed to be pierced with the arms of Our Lord's cross, causing blood to flow freely at times from her side and at others, from her mouth. Other instances of God's favoring of his servant were also reported, concerning prophetic knowledge of matters of which she could not naturally know. Through it all, St. Flora remained humble and in complete communion with her Divine Master, rendering wise counsel to all who flocked to her because of her holiness and spiritual discernment. In 1347, she was called to her eternal reward and many miracles were worked at her tomb. 

A reader gave me this tip. Now, Flora's feast day is either on June 11th or October 5th, but as I have been thinking of my single, laywomen friends, I wanted to highlight her today.

She is also a Virgin of the Order of Malta, which is highly interesting to me.

More here about her.

I think it would be very cool to be a woman saint of the Order of the Knights of Malta.

Almighty and merciful God, who wished blessed Fleur to love and live as a virgin in the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, grant that, following her example, we also may love you more and more. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(From: The Missal with readings of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes, & of Malta, London 1997)

Re-post on The Order of Widows

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Anna, the Widow and Prophetess

In Old and New Testament studies among both Catholic and Protestant scholars, a resurgence in the interest of the history of widows has happened. Now, some of the Protestant interpretations, usually, of course, based entirely on Scripture, reveal, as do the Catholic studies, the plight of the widow in the time of Christ. This post is not a history of the widow either in the Old or New Testament, but a discussion of what is sometimes called The Order of Widows.

Starting in the years following the World Wars, there emerged an interest in Europe to acknowledge the needs of widow both physically and spiritually. France seems to be the earliest example of the post-war re-institution of an Order of Widows. According to Elizabeth Rees, in the most complete article I have seen on this, the French Bishop of Paris had a blessing for widows approved by the CDW for a specific group attached to an order of nuns.

There are several groups in America, none of which have the approval of the Vatican at this time. Some live in communities, and some have non-communal affiliations. I do not mention them by name, as these are not approved, and in some cases, somewhat liberal. I would only recommend approved orders at this time.

However, in some European countries, but not in America, a few individual consecrated widows have made private vows to their bishops. These widows do not live in communities.

In the early Church, the Order of Widows may be connected to what is written in 1 Timothy 1-16. The criteria are that the widow must be truly one, of one husband; that she is over 60, (nice, assuming a woman younger may get married again), not gossipy or taken to wine, with an excellent reputation in helping the poor and other members of the Church.

One of the interesting notes is that it is the family who is to take care of the widow if she has one and not the Church. This is specifically stated. Those poor widows without families, of whom we can assume there were many, needed Church protection and funds.

Let a widow be chosen of no less than threescore years of age, who hath been the wife of one husband  Douay Rheims 1 Timothy 5:9
The Widow's Mite

Now, St. Paul uses the word "enrolled" or "chosen", and with the above list of set and clear criteria, the Church has concluded that this was some sort of "Order" with a rule.

That the Vatican has taken such a long time on revising this means that the CDW wants to get it right, clear, and in accordance with Scripture and Tradition.

At this time, for those women who are interested, I suggest you talk first with your spiritual director, then your bishop, and then, possibly write to Rome. If Rome had many letters requesting a renewal of this group, it may happen faster. In the meantime, a widow could make private vows, as least in Europe.

By the way, a widow is not a divorcee and an annulled woman. I did check that out with a priest who is involved with such a group. God bless all widows.

Re-post on Third Orders

On Third Orders and ...

Now, at the end of the semester, I asked my student for an idea for a post. "Third Orders" was the answer, so here is a post.
Third Orders have been part of the lay life of the Church for centuries. The origin of Third Orders is truly shrouded in history's mists, as there are many ideas of the connections between laypeople and monasteries or convents.
One can point to the Lay Brothers who worked with the Benedictines early on, remaining lay, but wearing the habit and doing manual labor in the monasteries. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Knights Templar allowed lay members to work alongside them, but whether these lay men were knights, sergeants, or farmers (obviously, not priests), is not clear.
Agreeing that the Benedictines most likely invented the idea of the lay oblate, one can trace other third orders as later developments.
But, the "regular" that is, laity who live in monasteries or convents no longer exist, as this order was suppressed, but lay brothers do, as most men who live in monasteries who are not to be ordained are now called lay brothers. Franciscan houses hold many lay brothers. The distinction has been blurred as some take vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, which technically make them "religious" and not "lay".
The old division of lay and choir brothers or nuns exist rarely in some orders. 
The other term for a person in a third order who lives in the world is "secular", but this is also confusing, as diocesan priests are also called "secular priests" as opposed to "religious" priests who belong to orders.
The real term for a third order lay person is "tertiary". 
But, the secular who is a lay person does not make vows. Lay third order members may be found among the Benedictines (Oblates), Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites, Augustinians, and other new orders.
I am a member of a third order which is new, but at this time I do not want to share the name.
Being a member of a third order involves more prayer than what many lay people desire to do and the prayer is specific to the order.
However, lay third order members do have some prayers in common, such as some of the Divine Office.
I, for example, do not say all the seven hours of prayer at this time, although some days I am able to do so.
When I am working, I can only say one or two of the hours.
I am very Benedictine in my spirituality, but sadly, have not been able to be an oblate, as one must live close to a monastery, which I have not.
Other prayers said by the tertiary are the rosary, and set prayers of the specific order. Canon Law notes this:
Associations whose members share in the spirit of some religious institute while in secular life, lead an apostolic life, and strive for Christian perfection under the higher direction of the same institute are called third orders or some other appropriate name.

Just to complicate matters, there are other associations of lay people with different canonical status.

These are: secular institutes, associations of the faithful, communities, movements and groups. If you really want an indepth look at these, here is the link concerning the Canon Law.

A list is found here:
It is important to remember that members of these orders are all lay. For many years in my youth, I was a member of such a group, but never made a solemn promise. I made yearly promises.
I can refer to one group, and a blog post which I am putting here, which explains more about such groups. Here are some quotations from man who started a lay association of the faithful, Ferdi McDermott:
There is no ontological difference between a professed religious and a layman. There is an ontological difference between an ordained man and a layman. Hence the nature of a vocation to the priesthood and a vocation to the religious life is completely different. Secular priests, for example, do not live the evangelical counsels in a special way (although they are usually celibate and obedient to a bishop), but they are certainly called to the priesthood. They also tend to respond to the invitation to the evangelical counsels in a generous way, according to circumstances and custom.

Marriage is also a state which is – it seems to me – profoundly ontological: the two people become one flesh, and this can never be undone, except by death. Although they are free to marry again if one partner dies, it is likely that marriage has some kind of effect on the soul, which is, after all, inextricably bound up with the flesh. This question has always been a mysterious one.

Vocations to the ordained ministry and to marriage depend on sacraments instituted by Christ himself. Also, marriage – in some sense - is part of the original blueprint of creation. Priesthood is an accident of history (even if a happy one) which would not have come to pass but for Adam’s sin, for without Adam’s sin, no great sacrifice was called for.

....May I add here that one should join a third order or association of the faithful if one shares a charism with the group.

So, in the twentieth century the evangelical conception of the ministry of the Church is restored, with a variety of callings, but the same Spirit to animate them all. (cf. Corinthians 12)

Thus, while the single state may be a transitional one, it is not necessarily so. In the context of a real vocation to a kind of diakonia in the Church or the world (such as teaching or nursing, for example) it can be where God wants someone to be for a whole lifetime.

This is because the Church needs such people in the midst of the world: “the laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God.” It was this freedom, within the world, that enabled Pauline Jaricot, Joan of Arc and Catherine of Siena to immerse themselves in politics, for the good of all, as well as in a life of prayer.

It was this freedom, in our own age, that allowed Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary, to minister to the prostitutes of Dublin, and to cut though the political red tape that stood in the way of helping them to improve their lot.

The choice, then, of this evangelical freedom, for the reasons which St Paul explained in his first letter to the Corinthians, is a radical option that is still valid today; one which remains open to single people seeking to do God’s will in the world. As such, it is a witness to perfect charity, inasmuch as it is ordered to the giving of self in the lay apostolate.

In the modern Church, as at different times in the past, various associations and secular institutes, approved by the Church, assist single lay people to persevere in their way of life. These organisations, such as the Third Orders, Opus Dei, and various other groups, are useful to such people and can make their apostolic efforts more fruitful.

Another famous blogger, Anita Moore, is a Third Order Dominican, and the famous tweeter and blogger, CatholicBandita, Lisa Graas, is a Third Order Passionist.  It would be interesting to know if more bloggers were in third orders.

Re-post on Vocations

Monday, 14 July 2014

A Long Post on Vocations

On Vocations, Again
This is a long post. Bear with me as I try to cover many points which have been observed in the Catholic communities with which I am familiar.
Those who are single and lay are called by God to share eternal life with Him. Those who are priests, nuns, sisters, brothers, are called to share eternal life with God.  Married people are called to share eternal life with God. There are saints on and off the calendar who are from every walk of life: carpenters, farmers, doctors, publishers, actors, lawyers, businessmen, musicians, composers, writers, and housewives.
Salvation is offered to all humans. God gives all sufficient grace for salvation. The “victim attitude” of so many Western Catholics creates confusion. Some Catholics actually believe that people cannot avoid serious sin, or that the rules of the Church are merely too hard for “normal humans”.
Until priests begin to teach natural law philosophy and the truth that God desires all people to get to heaven and provides them with the grace to do so, this victim mentality will continue.
Our salvation has been assured by the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, but whether we each individually respond to grace is another question.
Today, I am thinking of the middle-aged and the elderly Catholics, who because of the mostly wishy-washy catechesis and poor sermons have fallen into the idea that some people are victims of fate or circumstances, or even health problems, and therefore cannot be “saved”.
Are we witnessing the gross apostasy of the majority of Catholics in the West?
It dawned on my this morning that those who are younger than 60 had some sort of marriage prep, or, to be more accurate, those who prepared for marriage in the 1980s on had to attend pre-Cana classes. Now, some of the presenters themselves were heretics regarding contraception, but, on the whole, Catholic married in the past thirty years were at least made aware of two facts: the existence of Humanae Vitae, and the truth that each person in the marriage helps, and because of the vow of marriage, must be dedicated to bringing the other person in the couple to heaven.
Most Catholics over the age of 60, unless they listened to EWTN or kept up with the apostolic letters of the popes, or read the encyclicals, have no clue; it seems, of the supernatural nature of their marriage relationships. How this lacuna of the realization that married is a vocation for salvation came to be is not the focus of this post.
However, it is time for priests and catechists to focus on the spiritual relationship of the husband and wife as the key to holiness in the domestic church. Some teachers, like Scott Hahn, have done this. But, such a lesson must be taught from the pulpit, on Sunday, for all to hear.
This need for teaching that the husband brings the wife to heaven and the wife brings the husband to heaven must be emphasized.
I have heard young men say that it is the duty of the wife to be religious, but not the husband. This is not only a terribly “Mediterranean” view that religion is only for women, but a view which is false.
The husband is the priest in the home, the leader of the faith. Without this leadership, the role falls to the woman, who must step into the breach and carry on, but in great suffering, and sadly, sometimes with opposition.
The husband and wife shepherd the children to accept their God-given vocations. Sadly, I know too many Catholic families where a job is more important than the real vocation to which the child is called.
Boys and girls frequently are told by their parents to succeed, to become wealthy, or at least comfortable. Few parents actually pay attention to the grace given to them as parents to know, understand and nurture the vocation of the child.
Example of failures reveal the pain and even loss of salvation for many people who have been told to go into banking, business, or another field, not because God called them, but because the parents either want to live a life of success through the children, or because Mammon, not God is god in the family.
It is the duty of both parents to cooperate with God concerning the vocations of their children.
Why they do not do this may be because they do not see that their own vocation as husband and wife are calls from God, not accidents, full of the graces given on their wedding day, for the final goal-the joy of heaven.
I know a man who is extremely talented as an artist. His family did not let him go into art, as it was not on the parental list of acceptable “jobs”.  The man pursued approved jobs, and has spent his life in great unhappiness. He has given up painting.
I know a woman who was called to engineering. She had a steel trap memory for the type of knowledge necessary for engineering. Yet, her middle-call parents had a list of acceptable jobs, and her vocation to be creative and happy using her math and scientific skills fell into dormancy.
A flower-arranger, a gardener, even teachers, are not acceptable “jobs” for many Catholic parents who only want their children to go into medicine, dentistry, banking or some other lucrative position rather than looking carefully at the gifts of these children.
I was thrilled in the monastery last year when the Mother General mentioned to me how fortunate the nuns were to have a member who was an artist. This talented nun painted the shields in the chapel representing the saints of Tyburn. The nun had painted other works of art, as well. Her gifts blessed the monastery for years, and in extension, the Church.
To be what God created a person to be and to do, and I believe we all have many, many gifts to use for His Glory, is the call of each of us.
Now, one can get to heaven even in a thwarted vocation, but God’s Kingdom missed out on a stone in the structure of the Church because from all eternity God had intended that stone to be part of His Church.
I ask parents, no, I beg parents, to pray about their children’s vocations and not decide for them what God wants them to do and to be.
I ask married couples to stop being so busy about many trivial things and begin to concentrate on their real vocation-bringing each other to heaven, sanctifying each other through the relationship made holy in the sacrament of marriage.
In the 2013 class of priests ordained in America, 50% stated that they did not have the support of family in their decision to be a priest. 50% did have support.
I know too many young men who, if they are supported, it is with a half-hearted nod to God.
Catholics do not understand that the seminaries no longer take care of all the needs of the students. These institutions are poor, not rich. It falls on the parent to provide for many things.
One father told me, “I did not expect to have to pay for more years of education for this boy. It is a long haul.”  The honor of having a son who will be a priest escapes this dad. He is proud of his other sons in business, but is having trouble with the call of this son.
Sad. And I know some sems who get no financial support from families, families which are in the financial position of helping.
Not cooperating with God in encouraging the vocation of a child may be a sin. It may lead to the loss of the soul of the person who did not follow his call. Most likely, the great joy and happiness that person could have experienced here on earth will not be so because of a vocation not followed.
Pray daily, parents, for the graces God will and does give you to encourage your children to be, to do, what God intended them to do.
Pray daily, parents, to set aside your own dreams and expectations of your children.
Pray, couples, to see how God wants you to lead your spouse to heaven. That He does want you to do this is the reason why you are married-your mutual salvation, and the salvation of any children who may come into the family.
If anyone thinks something is “missing” in one’s life, if anyone feels incomplete, that person must pray that he or she will die in the vocation to which God has called that person. It is never too late for God to find that room in the mansion He foresaw and prepared for you. It may be that a woman cannot join a contemplative order for reasons of age, but God still has a plan for you to fulfill your role as a contemplative, even in the world. If a man or a woman think they are too old to be married, realize that marriage is first and foremost for one’s salvation, and that unity may or may not create children. God is in charge and has created each one to be and to do what He intended.
To be continued…