24 December 2009

O Magnum Mysterium, Palestrina

It is highly recommended that you watch this FULL SCREEN by clicking this button on the above YouTube video window:

Palestrina's text for O Magnum Mysterium Palestrina's are based on the Responsorial in the Christmas Mass and are as follows:

(Latin text)
O magnum mysterium
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum
jacentem in praesepio.
Natum vidimus et choros Angelorum
collaudantes Dominum.

(English text)
O great mystery
and wonderful sacrament
that animals could see the birth of the Lord
lying in a manger.
We saw the child new-born and choirs of angels
praising the Lord.

22 December 2009

Alma Redemptoris Mater

Alma Redemptoris Mater, quae pervia caeli
Porta manes, et stella maris, succurre cadenti,
Surgere qui curat, populo: tu quae genuisti,
Natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem
Virgo prius ac posterius, Gabrielis ab ore
Sumens illud Ave, peccatorum miserere.
From the first Sunday of Advent until Christmas Eve:

V. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae
R. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

Gratiam tuam quæsumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut qui, angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui Incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem ejus et crucem, ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur.
Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
From First Vespers of Christmas until the Presentation:

V. Post Partum Virgo inviolata permansisti.
R. Dei Genitrix, intercede pro nobis.

Deus, qui salutis aeternae beatae Mariae virginitate foecunda humano generi praemia praestitisti: tribue, quaesumus, ut ipsam pro nobis intercedere sentiamus, per quam meruimus, Auctorem vitae suscipere Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum. Amen.


Loving Mother of our Savior, hear thou thy people's cry
Star of the deep and Portal of the sky!
Mother of Him who thee made from nothing made.
Sinking we strive and call to thee for aid:
Oh, by what joy which Gabriel brought to thee,
Thou Virgin first and last, let us thy mercy see.
From the first Sunday of Advent until Christmas Eve:

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary
R. And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.
Let us pray.

Pour forth we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may, by His passion and cross, be brought to the glory of his Resurrection; through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.
From First Vespers of Christmas until the Presentation:

V. After childbirth, O Virgin, thou didst remain inviolate.
R. O Mother of God, plead for us.
Let us pray.

O God, Who by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary, hast given to mankind the rewards of eternal salvation: grant, we beseech You, that we may experience her intercession for us, by whom we deserved to receive the Author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen

O Antiphons

The seven "O Antiphons" (also called the "Greater Antiphons" or "Major Antiphons") are prayers that come from the Breviary's Vespers during the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is called the "Golden Nights." The O Antiphons are the source of the lyrics of the Advent song "Veni, veni Emmanuel". (see previous post)

Each Antiphon begins with "O" and addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isaias and Micheas (Micah), and whose initials, when read backwards, form an acrostic for the Latin "Ero Cras" which means "Tomorrow I come." Those titles for Christ are:

Radix Jesse
Clavis David
Rex Gentium

Below are the O Antiphons in both English and Latin. One is prayed each evening at Vespers time (around sunset).

December 17

Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!

O Sapientia, quæ ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiæ.

December 18

Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammæ rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

December 19

Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

December 20

Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

December 21

Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!

O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

December 22

King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

December 23

Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.

December 24

02 December 2009

Mini Jerusalems

+Our society teaches us that Christmas is about being with family and giving gifts. The Blessed Mother knows that Christmas is not meant to be about that. Christmas is the time we celebrate the birth of the God-man, her son, at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is about the King of Kings that showed as Isaiah professied, that the rulers of this world and all the material goods are coming to nothing --- but that what brings life and true joy is Christ. To the very extent that we lack this complete trust and hope in the one, true God, we are like mini Jerusalems, hoping for a messiah to bring us temporal comforts, when really we should be thinking of the real Messiah -- who rules heaven and earth, and promises us a heavenly kingdom. This trust in Christ can come only if we are in a state of grace through the Sacraments (for us Baptised Catholics, that means Confession, Holy Communion), along with preparing to receive our Lord in Communion by renouncing our attachment to sin and the things of this world. Christ let's even his own people suffer in this life that they might come to a better understanding of how he suffered for us. He has given us to his own mother, and wants us to remember also her sufferings. These are jewels that are our inheritance as Catholics. We are part of the world's greatest Royalty, and we owe it to our King and Queen to think of them and their sacrifices that we may know how best to serve them. There are keys in the mysteries of their suffering which unlock the questions we have in what we are to do in order to serve God in our sufferings.

It was, afterall, God who loved you first and is waiting for you to come closer to Him in this life.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-star, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads to Thee,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come to lead us Adonai,
Who to the tribes on height of Sinai
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel. Amen.+

22 November 2009

The Absolute Character of Music

+"The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils. The motions of his spirit are dull as night, and his affections dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted." from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice

Music, in the time of Shakespeare, was very simple and pure. Even the popular melodies were seen not merely as fit, but as inspirations to some of the greatest works of religious works by the great polyphonic composers. Such composers as Victoria and Palestrina took from the popular folk melodies in order to build upon their dignified and glorious works for the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Dignity is something that was always inheritant to the music that was well-loved, only up until this past century did that start to change. When the sexual revolution pushed and shoved its way into the culture, deeming any obstacle as "repressed" or lacking an "open mind", it began the slow, extracation of dignity from being at the corner stone of art in general.

What does one have when there is 'music' without dignity? It lacks nobility, and is, in a word, pompous, because it seeks to exhault itself. This is ugly because it is vain. Vanity is a vice as it causes the destruction of dignity. "It is the absolute character of music: nobility," is an excellent quote by one of the greatest musicians of the past century, Artur Rubinstein.

Then why has popular music and art in general, has largely become pompous and vain? It is because our culture lacks the virtues that inspire higher art, even it lacks the comprehension of what art is meant to do. Art should be an exhaltation of the human condition. It should, therefore, have dignity and nobility at its heart. Where ever such is lacking, there will be the lack of these qualities, and in their place will be philosophies which pose in such a manner to exault, but will only bear bad fruits. Fruits that grow to maturity and ripen are those that come from a plant with strong roots to support it, such as with tradition that proves to support virtues over time.

Is it no wonder how cultures who have suffered from tyranny have music that not only expresses well the dynamics of the human condition, but also, in its dignity, seeks to exhault it? It is not a genetic thing, but a memory passed on to generations, of those who were lost to war and suffering.

Rubinstein remarks about dignity in a lesson he gives some piano performance students. The piece used for the discussion is Ballade No. 1, by Chopin. The song is not music, it is not as the composer intended, unless it is played with this dignity. The dynamics are not for showing off of the skills, but are incidental, and subtle, to be cast within the structure of the melodies. Many performers miss this because they do not have at their own philosophies those same philosophies that were at the core of society at the time of Chopin's life. Grant it, Chopin did not live these out perfectly, but the fashion of the music yet at the time was still at a high level of artistry, for it to be favored. Dignity was still the norm. (Unfortunately, notoriety tends to lead souls away from virtue, as was the lesson Chopin had learned and sought to express with this particular piece, where he mourns both the loss of his hometown to war and lost friendship.) What a stark contrast when we compare the music of the baroque or classical period, or even the romantic period --- to the majority of what passes today as "music"! Today, the underlining philosophy is: Look at me. Very sad, indeed.

St. Cecilia, on the evening yet of your feast day, pray for us.
Here is the 3rd video of 3 showing the famous lesson by Artur Rubinstein. By this time, it has been 6 years since the great artist lost his sight, and he struggles to even see the keys. Listen to towards the end of the clip, where Rubinstein explains what is the "absolute character of music":

20 November 2009

Karácsonyi Bölcsődal

Here is a beautiful choral piece by an amazing composer, Lajos Bardos. It is in Hungarian, and has that type of salvic-folk feel. The lyrics are about the Christ child being warmed by the virgin arm and lovely, warm face of the Blessed Mother on the night of his birth.

There are many interesting stories about this composer. One is when Budapest was when it was occupied by the Nazis, just before it was finally declared a communist country. The people were not allowed to sing Christian music, yet it was almost Christmas even. The already well-known conductor/composer, now teacher, rebelled in a subtle way, because he knew that music was the key to uniting the people, and helping them to remember what mattered most. They were permitted to sing of Israel, ironically, since the Nazis put to death "
between 20% and 40% of Greater Budapest's 250,000 Jewish inhabitants" from 1944 and early 1945." The song he conducted one cold, dark evening before Christmas? Veni, Veni Emmanuel. I imagine it was most likely Kodaly's version, since Bardos was very much a student of Kodaly (as well as he was inspired by Bela Bartok). The story continues that as the choir sang, many, many Jews from outside on the street came in to the church to listen. (In Advent, look for this version of Veni, Veni in the upper right hand margin of this blog.)

+Requiescent in pace, dona ei requiem.+
Here is a Karácsonyi Bölcsődal, "Christmas Lullaby":

16 October 2009

Purity, by St. Francis De Sales

St. Francis De Sales (1567-1622)
On Purity
PURITY is the lily among virtues — by it men approach to the Angels. There is no beauty without purity, and human purity is chastity. We speak of the chaste as honest, and of the loss of purity as dishonour; purity is an intact thing, its converse is corruption. In a word, its special glory is in the spotless whiteness of soul and body.

No unlawful pleasures are compatible with chastity; the pure heart is like the mother of pearl which admits no drop of water save that which comes from Heaven, — it is closed to every attraction save such as are sanctified by holy matrimony. Close your heart to every questionable tenderness or delight, guard against all that is unprofitable though it may be lawful, and strive to avoid unduly fixing your heart even on that which in itself is right and good.
Every one has great need of this virtue: those living in widowhood need a brave chastity not only to forego present and future delights, but to resist the memories of the past, with which a happy married life naturally fills the imagination, softening and weakening the will. Saint Augustine lauds the purity of his beloved Alipius, who had altogether forgotten and despised the carnal pleasures in which his youth was passed. While fruits are whole, you may store them up securely, some in straw, some in sand or amid their own foliage, but once bruised there is no means of preserving them save with sugar or honey. Even so the purity which has never been tampered with may well be preserved to the end, but when once that has ceased to exist nothing can ensure its existence but the genuine devotion, which, as I have often said, is the very honey and sugar of the mind.
The unmarried need a very simple sensitive purity, which will drive away all over-curious thoughts, and teach them to despise all merely sensual satisfactions. The young are apt to imagine that of which they are ignorant to be wondrous sweet, and as the foolish moth hovers around a light, and, persisting in coming too near, perishes in its inquisitive folly, so they perish through their unwise approach to forbidden pleasures. And married people need a watchful purity whereby to keep God ever before them, and to seek all earthly happiness and delight through Him Alone, ever remembering that He has sanctified the state of holy matrimony by making it the type of His own union with the Church.
The Apostle says, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:" [Heb. 12, 14] by which holiness he means purity. Of a truth, my daughter, without purity no one can ever see God; [Matt. 5,8] nor can any hope to dwell in His tabernacle except he lead an uncorrupt life; [Psalm. 15, 1,2] and our Blessed Lord Himself has promised the special blessing of beholding Him to those that are pure in heart.

How to Maintain Purity

BE exceedingly quick in turning aside from the slightest thing leading to impurity, for it is an evil which approaches stealthily, and in which the very smallest beginnings are apt to grow rapidly. It is always easier to fly from such evils than to cure them.

Human bodies are like glasses, which cannot come into collision without risk of breaking; or to fruits, which, however fresh and ripe, are damaged by pressure. Never permit any one to take any manner of foolish liberty with you, since, although there may be no evil intention, the perfectness of purity is injured thereby.
Purity has its source in the heart, but it is in the body that its material results take shape, and therefore it may be forfeited both by the exterior senses and by the thoughts and desires of the heart. All lack of modesty in seeing, hearing, speaking, smelling, or touching, is impurity, especially when the heart takes pleasure therein. S. Paul says without any hesitation that impurity and uncleanness, or foolish and unseemly talking, are not to be "so much as named" among Christians. The bee not only shuns all carrion, but abhors and flies far from the faintest smell proceeding therefrom. The Bride of the Canticles is represented with "hands dropping with myrrh." a preservative against all corruption; her "lips are like a thread of scarlet," the type of modest words; her eyes are "dove's eyes," clear and soft; her "nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh towards Damascus" an incorruptible wood; her ears are hung with earrings of pure gold; and even so the devout soul should be pure, honest and transparent in hand, lip, eye, ear, and the whole body.
Remember that there are things which blemish perfect purity, without being in themselves downright acts of impurity. Anything which tends to lessen its intense sensitiveness, or to cast the slightest shadow over it, is of this nature; and all evil thoughts or foolish acts of levity or heedlessness are as steps towards the most direct breaches of the law of chastity. Avoid the society of persons who are wanting in purity, especially if they are bold, as indeed impure people always are. If a foul animal licks the sweet almond tree its fruit becomes bitter; and so a corrupt pestilential man can scarcely hold communication with others, whether men or women, without damaging their perfect purity — their very glance is venomous, and their breath blighting like the basilisk. On the other hand, seek out good and pure men, read and ponder holy things; for the Word of God is pure, and it will make those pure who study it: wherefore David likens it to gold and precious stones. Always abide close to Jesus Christ Crucified, both spiritually in meditation and actually in Holy Communion; for as all those who sleep upon the plant called Agnus castus become pure and chaste, so, if you rest your heart upon Our Dear Lord, the Very Lamb, Pure and Immaculate, you will find that soon both heart and soul will be purified of all spot or stain.
Excerpts taken from: Introduction to the Devout Life : Chapters XII and XIII

Blessed Are the Pure in Heart

Our Lord preached the Eight Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon He taught something new in the world. Where people had always striven for riches, honors, and pleasures, Christ praised the poor, the humble, the suffering.

If we practice faithfully the doctrine of the eight beatitudes, we shall find the true path of perfection and be happy besides on earth. The Beatitudes contain in substance the law of God and all evangelical perfection.

(below is another excerpt of this great book, My Catholic Faith, A Manual of Religion)

"Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."

Only those who are not in habitual sin are clean of heart, and possess virtue. They will be rewarded with the vision of God in heaven; and even on earth by the great light given them.

There are several degrees of purity of heart: to the first degree belong those who are free from mortal sin; to the second belong those who are free from deliberate venial sin and all affection for sin; to the third degree belong those who are free from the least ill-regulated affection; to the fourth belong those who are free from the almost imperceptible stains that delay a soul's entrance into God's home; and to the last degree belong those Christians of such purity of life and thought, of such perfection of zeal and intention, that they habitually live for God alone, that they are perfectly united with Him, so that when they close their eyes in death they will fly straight into the Heart of God.

by the late Bishop LOUIS LARAVOIRE MORROW, S.T.D. from his book,

Thoughts on Adversity and Consolation, by Tomas a Kempis

BOOK I, Chapter 12 from Imitation of Christ, Tomas a Kempis

It is good for us to have sometimes troubles and adversities; for they make a man enter into his heart, that he may know that he is in banishment, and may not place his hope in any thing of this world. It is good that we sometimes suffer contradictions and that men have an evil or imperfect opinion of us, even when we do and intend well.

These things are often helps to humility, and defend us from vain glory.

For then we better seek God, our inward witness, when outwardly men hold us cheap, and do not think well of us.
Therefore should a man establish himself in such manner in God, as to have no need of seeking many consolations from men.
When a man of good will is troubled or tempted, or afflicted with evil thoughts, then he better under- stands what need he has of God, without whom he finds he cannot do any good.
Then also he laments, sighs, and prays, by reason of the miseries which he suffers.
Then is he weary of living longer, and wishes death to come, that he may be dissolved and be with Christ. Then also he well perceives that perfect security and full peace cannot long abide in this world.

From Chapter 9:

He (St. Lawrence) overcame therefore the love of man by the love of the Creator; and instead of human solace, he made choice rather of the good pleasure of God.

So do thou also learn to part with some familiar and beloved friend for the love of God.

And take it not to heart when thou art forsaken by a friend, knowing that one time or other we must all part.

A man must go through a long and great conflict within himself before he can learn fully to overcome himself, and to draw his whole affection towards God.

When a man stands upon himself, he easily falls off to human consolation.

But a true lover of Christ and a diligent follower after virtue does not fall back on consolations, nor seek such sensible sweetnesses, but is rather willing to bear strong trials and hard labours for Christ.

Therefore, when God gives spiritual comfort, receive it with thanksgiving ; but know that it is the gift of God, not thy desert.

Be not puffed up, be not overjoyed, nor vainly presume ; but rather be the more humble because it is a gift, and the more cautious and wary in all thy actions; for this hour will pass away and temptation will follow.

When consolation shall be taken away, do not presently give up hope, but wait with humility and patience for the heavenly visit; for God is able to give thee back again a fuller consolation.

This is no new thing, nor strange to those who have experienced the ways of God; for in the great saints and ancient prophets this has often been the way, that the one changes for the other.

04 October 2009

Ave Maris Stella - Edvard Grieg

It might seem a little 'pansy-ish' to see a bunch of boys, albeit quite talented, to sing really soft, high notes, but this is a very awesome song performed excellently. These young guys successfully give the impression of angels adoring the Blessed Mother, to which this blogger responds, "Ave Maria!"

03 October 2009

Jesu Corona Virginum

Jesu corona Virginum,
quem Mater illa concipit
quae sola Virgo parturit,
haec vota clemens accipe.

Quocumque pergis,
virgines sequuntur,
atque laudibus
post te canentes cursitant
hymnosque dulces personant.

Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
qui natus es de Virgine,
cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
in sempiterna saecula.
Qui pascis inter lilia,
septus choreis Virginum
sponsas decorans gloria,
sponsisque reddens praemia.

Te deprecamur largius
nostris adauge sensibus
nescire prorsus omnia,
corruptionis vulnera. Amen.+

St. Therese of Lisieux* (*in a play she herself wrote while in Carmel) as St. Joan of Arc just before her martyrdom.

29 August 2009

Signs of Repentance or Liberality by Local Ordinary?


Can. 1184 --- 1.) Unless they have given some signs of repentance before their death, the following are to be deprived of ecclesiasitical funeral rites:
1* notorious apostates, heretics and schismatics;
2* persons who had chosen the cremation of their bodies for reasons opposed to the Christian faith;
3* other manifest sinners for whom ecclesiastical funeral rites cannot be granted without public scandal to the faithful.
2.) If some doubt should arise, the local ordinary is to be consulted; and his judgment is to be followed.

Can. 1185 --- Any funeral Mass whatsover is also to be denied a person excluded from ecclesiastical funeral rites.

A very, public sinner who held tightly to views that were against the doctrinal teachings of the Church was recently given a Requiem Mass. A canon lawyer interpreted that the correct thing to do was to give this man a Mass. His reason, however, was not because the local ordinary had agreed it was the right thing to do, but he based his reasoning purely on a very liberal, and recent modernistic interpretation of Canon 1184, Section 1:

"See, e.g., J. Manzanares, [commentary on Canon 1184], in L. Echeverria, ed., Codigo de Derecho Canonico: Edicion Bilingue Comentada, 5th ed., (1985) at 574, wherein: "Those [manifest sinners] are no longer considered unworthy who, before death, give some sign of repentance. Moreover, this clause should receive a benign interpretation. A sign of repentance could be not only calling for a confessor, asking publicly for the forgiveness of God, or kissing a crucifix, etc., and could also be gleaned, despite one's otherwise irregular situation, by giving clear signs of adhesion to the Church, for example, by collaborating in its works, sending children to catechism, or participating themselves in ecclesiastical initiatives whenever possible." "

This canon lawyer took a liberal view of this (above) interpretation of canon law. If we look at the whole of Section 1 of Canon 1184, we see the intent that first consideration is to the level of scandal of the schism made by the sinner. In other words, was this a public heretic, therefore, any public Mass would be a sin to the public by giving public scandal (misleading the faithful into thinking that one can necessarily be saved by being a heretic). The second consideration is to the fact of whether or not a "sign of repentance" can be gleamed from an act by the sinner just prior to his death. In the spiritual economy of restitution, it has always been the teachings of Holy Mother Church that if a sin is public, the restitution must be public. But while a dying person may not have the opportunity for appropriate restitution, the "sign of repentance" must be according to one's means. In other words, if the public sinner publicly asked for God's forgiveness, or even publicly kissed a Crucifix, this would have sufficed, giving a "benign interpretation". Benign, however, does not mean blindly liberal.

If someone is in the public eye they have the means to convey a message to the public. Repentance of public sin would be insufficient if it was private, when public means was clearly available.

If your neighbor, out of a poor understanding of God's laws and/or natural laws, decided to not give you back the lawnmower he borrowed from you, and later was repentant about it, he could tell a priest he was sorry, but restitution would still need to be made. The priest would tell him to return the lawnmower. If this was impossible because it had since broke, or he sold it, or he was on his deathbed, he would still have to give some sort of sign of restitution, according to his ability.

A sinner who has the means to make restitution, in prudence, is obligated to do so. If the local ordinary says, "Well, you're going to die in another month or so, so don't worry about making restitution; we believe you're repentant" they are doing a grave spiritual disservice to the sinner. Restitution is for the sinner's salvation, not an arbitrary appointment by the Church. It is a sign of repentance in response to the grace of one being sorry for having offended God and having hurt one's neighbor to boot, and appropriate repentance must be made whenever possible. The effects of public sins are public, and any person truly sorry for a public sin would want to make restitution as a sign of repentance not despite the fact that they are dying but all the more so because they are dying.

I do pray and hope that the local ordinary for the late Senator Edward Kennedy gave him first a remittance of his his excommunication, after receiving his word that he no longer held unto his pro-abortion beliefs. Assuming all this was true, and that it was also physically impossible for Mr. Kennedy to then publicly recant his pro-abortion position, and gave an appropriate sign of repentance according to his public heresy and resulting excommunication ipso facto, then and only then would it have been appropriate for the local ordinary to have agreed on granting Mr. Kennedy a public, funeral Mass.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that was the case.

Note: True mercy is borne of true charity; and true charity is borne out of love of God, and to neighbor for the love of God (not the other way around; love comes from God, and supernaturalized love was given to us at the expense of Christ's blood). This life is merely a means. Any ordinary that caters first to the human condition at the expense of a person(s)' salvation do a grave disservice to the sinner (and to the public would would receive the scandal), and give dishonor to God. "The path to hell is lined with good intentions."


Edward Kennedy, Requiescat in pace.

Additional reading: Human Life International's Comments by Fr. Euteneuer

28 August 2009

Feast of St. Augustine

"To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him; the greatest adventure; to find him; the greatest human achievement." -St. Augustine

+Sancte Augustine, ora pro nobis.+

Twelth Sunday After Pentecost, and St. Joseph Prayers


Epistle: II Cor. 3:4-9 (an excerpt of this Sunday's Epistle below)
"BRETHERN: Such confdience we have through Christ towards God. Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God."
Gospel: Lk. 10:23-37 (an excerpt of this Sundays' Gospel below)
"Blessed are the eyes that see the things which you see. For I say to you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things that you see, and have not seen them; and to hear, and have not heard them."
O BLESSED Joseph, happy man, to whom it was given not only to see and to hear that God Whom many kings longed to see, and saw not, to hear, and heard not; but also to carry Him in your arms, to embrace Him, to clothe Him, and guard and defend Him.

Latin Version: O FELICEM virum, beatum Ioseph, cui datum est Deum, quem multi reges voluerunt videre et non viderunt, audire et non audierunt, non solum videre et audire, sed portare, deosculari, vestire et custodire!
V. Pray for us, blessed Joseph.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
God, who hast conferred upon us a royal priesthood,we pray thee give us grace to minister at Thy holy altarswith hearts as clean and lives as blameless as that blessed Josephwho was found worthy to hold in his armsand with all reverence to carry Thy Only-Begotten Son, born of the Virgin Mary.Enable us this day to receive worthily the sacred Body and Blood of Thy Son,and fit us to win an everlasting reward in the world to come:through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Guardian of virgins, and holy father Joseph, to whose faithful custody Christ Jesus, Innocence itself, and Mary, Virgin of virgins, were committed; I pray and beseech thee, by these dear pledges, Jesus and Mary, that, being preserved from all uncleanness, I may with spotless mind, pure heart, and chaste body, ever serve Jesus and Mary most chastely all the days of my life.

Latin version:Virginum custos et pater, sancte Ioseph, cuius fideli custodiae ipsa Innocentia Christus Iesus et Virgo virginum Maria commissa fuit; te per hoc utrumque carissimum pignus Iesum et Mariam obsecro et obtestor, ut me, ab omni immunditia praeservatum, mente incontaminata, puro corde et casto corpore Iesu et Mariae semper facias castissime famulari. Amen.

St. Joseph, help us to grow in purity of heart, that we may love in true charity, God alone, and our neighbor out of love of God.

(continuation from above of the Gospel Lk 10:23-37)

"And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting Him, and saying: Master, what must I do to possess eternal life? But he said to him: What is written in the law? How readest thou? He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord they God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And He said to him: Thou hast answered rightly: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: And who is my neighbor? And Jesus answering, said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who also stripped him, and having wounded him went away, leaving him half dead. And it chanced that a certain priest went down the same way, and seeing him, passed by. In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by. But a certain Samaritan being on his journey, came near him, and seeing him, was moved with compassion, and going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine; and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two pence, and gave to the host, and said: Take care of him, and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay thee. Which of these three, in thine opinion, was neighbor to him that fell among robbers? But he said: He that showed mercy to him. And Jesus said to him: Go and do thou in like manner." +

20 August 2009

Feast of St. Bernard, August 20

Bernard of Clairvauxas depicted
in a medieval illuminated
manuscript(Note: initial letter B for Bernard)

On St. Bernard of Clairveax, (1091 - 1153)

His parents were Tescelin, lord of Fontaines, and Aleth of Montbard, both belonging to the highest nobility of Burgundy. Bernard, the third of a family of seven children, six of whom were sons, was educated with particular care, because, while yet unborn, a devout man had foretold his great destiny. At the age of nine years, Bernard was sent to a much renowned school at Chatillon-sur-Seine, kept by the secular canons of Saint-Vorles. He had a great taste for literature and devoted himself for some time to poetry. His success in his studies won the admiration of his masters, and his growth in virtue was no less marked. Bernard's great desire was to excel in literature in order to take up the study of Sacred Scripture, which later on became, as it were, his own tongue. "Piety was his all," says Bossuet. He had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and there is no one who speaks more sublimely of the Queen of Heaven. Bernard was scarcely nineteen years of age when his mother died. During his youth, he did not escape trying temptations, but his virtue triumphed over them, in many instances in a heroic manner, and from this time he thought of retiring from the world and living a life of solitude and prayer.

ST. BERNARD, one of the most illustrious Christian teachers and representatives of monasticism in the Middle Ages, was born at Fontaines, near Dijon, in Burgundy, in 1091. The son of a knight and vassal of the duke of Burgundy who perished in the first crusade, Bernard may have felt for a time the temptations of a military career, but the influence of a pious mother and his own inclinations towards a life of meditation and study led him to the cloister. While still a youth he is said to have been "marvellously cogitative" ("mire cogitativus," St Bern. Op., vol. ii. col. 1063), and the ascendancy of his mind and character were soon shown. He joined the small monastery of Citeaux in 1113 when twenty-two years of age, and such were the effects of his own devotion and eloquent enthusiasm in commending a religious life, that he drew after him not only his two younger brothers, but also his two elder ones, Guido and Gerard, both of whom had naturally taken to soldiering, and the elder of whom was married and had children. The effect of his preaching is said to have been that " mothers hid their sons, wives their husbands, companions their friends," lest they should be drawn away by his persuasive earnestness.**

(**Note from Blogger/Editor: He persuaded four brother, and uncle, and other friends -- a total of thirty-one men -- to join him and pursue a sever religious life."
Also of interest:
+He was friends with St. Malachy of Armagh
+Was present at the tenth general council in Rome, the second of the Lateran
+His advice was looked upon with respect even by the popes
+He was universally called "Doctor Mellifluous," or the "Honeysweet Doctor" because of his devotions
+His writing, especially De Diligendo Deo, one of the outstanding medieval mytical works, shaped mysticism in the Middle Ages.
+His hundreds of sermons, his treatise De consideratione, letters, reflections on Scripture and his deep devotion to Mary and Jesus greatly influenced Christian spiritualism.
+He is considered the last of the Fathers of the Church.)

Some quotes from St. Bernard of Clairveax:
Hail, O bleeding Head and wounded, With a crown of thorns surrounded, Buffeted, and bruised and battered, Smote with reed by striking shattered, Face with spittle vilely smeared! Hail, whose visage sweet and comely, Marred by fouling stains and homely, Changed as to its blooming color, All now turned to deathly pallor, Making heavenly hosts affeared! (Abraham Coles' translation)

Who loves me will love my dog also. [Fr., Que me amat, amet et canem meum.] (Note from Blogger/Editor: Dad, that one was especially for you!)

He who prays and labours lifts his heart to God with his hands. [Lat., Qui orat laborat, cor levat ad Deum cum manibus.]

Hell is full of good wishes or desires. [Fr., L'enfer est plein de bonnes volontes ou desirs.] Source: Archbishop Trench called it the "queen of all proverbs"

I know by myself how incomprehensible God is, seeing I cannot comprehend the parts of my own being.

"My burden is light," said the blessed Redeemer, a light burden indeed, which carries him that bears it. I have looked through all nature for a resemblance of this, and seem to find a shadow of it in the wings of a bird, which are indeed borne by the creature, and yet support her flight towards heaven.

Nothing can work me damage except myself. The harm that I sustain I carry about with me, and never am a real sufferer but by my own fault.

Prayer is a virtue that prevaileth against all temptations.

Religion brought forth riches, and the daughter devoured the mother. [Lat., Religio peperit divitias et filia devoravit matrem.]

Slander is a poison which extinguishes charity, both in the slanderer and in the persons who listen to it.

The peacemakers shall be called the sons of God, who came to make peace between God and man. What then shall the sowers of discord be called, but the children of the devil? And what must they look for but their father's portion?

The tears of penitents are the wine of angels.

And perhaps the Editor's favorite...

"O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary, pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ." --- the end of the Hail Mary as it is today, given to us from the great Father of the Church.


O Loving Jesus, meek Lamb of God, I miserable sinner, salute and worship the most Sacred Wound of Thy Shoulder on which Thou didst bear Thy heavy Cross, which so tore Thy flesh and laid bare Thy Bones as to inflict on Thee an anguish greater than any other wound of Thy Most Blessed Body. I adore Thee, O Jesus most sorrowful; I praise and glorify Thee, and give Thee thanks for this most sacred and painful Wound, beseeching Thee by that exceeding pain, and by the crushing burden of Thy heavy Cross to be merciful to me, a sinner, to forgive me all my mortal and venial sins, and to lead me on towards Heaven along the Way of Thy Cross. Amen.

Imprimatur: Thomas D. Beven, Bishop of Springfield

Sancte Bernarde, ora pro nobis!

Some Thursday Lessons from August, Divine Office

Thurday of the Divine Office, Third Week of August
4th class

From the book of Wisdom
Lesson i Ch. 9:13-19
For what man knows God's counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends? For the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans. For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns. And scare do we guess the things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty; but when things are in heaven, who can search them out? Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given Wisdom and sent your Holy Spirit from high? And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight, and men learned what was your pleasure. For it was by Wisdom that all those were saved who pleased you, Lord, from the beginning.

R. In the beginning, before God made the earth, before He established the depths, before He brought forth the spirngs of water, Before the mountains were settled into place, before all the hills, the Lord begot me.
V. When He established the heavens, I was there, I was beside Him as His craftsman. Before the mountains were settled into place, before all the hills, the Lord begot me.

Thurday of the Divine Office, Fourth Week of August

From the book of Ecclesiasticus
Ch. 3:22-26
What is too sublime for you, seek not; into things beyond your strength search not. But the things that God has commanded you, think about them always, and curb your curiosity about his many works; for what is hidden is not your concern. With what is too much for you meddle not, and curb your curiosity about his many works; for many things beyond human understanding have been shown you. Their own opinion has misled many, and false reasoning unbalanced their judgment.

R. In the beginning, before God made the earth, before He established the depths, before He brought forth the sprince of water, Before the mountains were settled into place, before all the hills, the Lord begot me.

V. When He established the heavens, I was there, I was beside Him as His craftsman. Before the mountains were settled into place, before all the hills, the Lord begot me.

Ch. 3:27-30
A stubborn man will fare badly in the end, adn he who loves danger will perish in it. A heart turned two ways will have no success, and he who is perverse of heart will find this duplicity a stumbling block. A stubborn man will be burdened with sorrow; a sinner will heap sin upon sin. For the assembly of the proud there will be no cure; for sin will take root in them without their perceiving it.

R. The vault of heaven I compassed alone; over the waves of the sea I walked; over every nation and people I held sway. By my own power I have trodden upon the necks of the proud and haughty. V. In the highest heavens I dwell, my throne on a pillar of cloud. By my own power I have trodden upon the necks of the proud and haughty.

Ch. 3:31-34
The heart of a sage makes itself known by his wisdom, and the ear of a good man will listen to wisdom with all eagerness. The wise and understanding heart will refrain from sin and succeed in the works of justice. Water quenches a flaming fire, and alms atone for sins. God looks with favor on one who does a kindness, and remembers him afterward; when he falls he finds a support.

R. Send forth Wisdom, Lord, from Your glorious throne, that she may be with me and work with me, That I may know what is pleasing to You at all times.
V. Give me Wisdom, Lord, the attendant at Your throne, That I may know what is pleasing to You at all times. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

That I may know what is pleasing to You at all times.

15 August 2009

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. (Gen 3:15)

Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith." (Rom 5-6; I Cor. 15:21-26, 54-57)

taken from
November 1, 1950

Quotes from the Early Church Fathers:
Pseudo – Melito
"If therefore it might come to pass by the power of your grace, it has appeared right to us your servants that, as you, having overcome death, do reign in glory, so you should raise up the body of your Mother and take her with you, rejoicing, into heaven. Then said the Savior [Jesus]: "Be it done according to your will" (The Passing of the Virgin." 16:2-17 [A.D. 300]).

Timothy of Jerusalem
"Therefore the Virgin is immortal to this day, seeing that he who had dwelt in her transported her to the regions of her assumption." (Homily on Simeon and Anna [A.D. 400]).

John the Theologian
"The Lord said to his Mother, "Let your heart rejoice and be glad. For every favor and every gift has been given to you from my Father in heaven and from me and from the Holy Spirit. Every soul that calls upon your name shall not be ashamed, but shall find mercy and comfort and support and confidence, both in the world that now is and in that which is to come, in the presence of my Father in the heavens". . . And from that time forth all knew that the spotless and precious body had been transferred to paradise."
(The Dormition of Mary [A.D. 400]).

Gregory of Tours
"[T]he Apostles took up her body on a bier and placed it in a tomb; and they guarded it, expecting the Lord to come. And behold, again the Lord stood by them; and the holy body having been received, He commanded that it be taken in a cloud into paradise: where now, rejoined to the soul, [Mary] rejoices with the Lord's chosen ones. . . "" (Eight Books of Miracles 1:4 [A.D. 575]).

Theoteknos of Livias
"It was fitting ... that the most holy-body of Mary, God-bearing body, receptacle of God, divinised, incorruptible, illuminated by divine grace and full glory ... should be entrusted to the earth for a little while and raised up to heaven in glory, with her soul pleasing to God." (Homily on the Assumption [ca. A.D. 600]).

Modestus of Jerusalem
"As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him." (Encomium in dormitionnem Sanctissimae Dominae nostrae Deiparae semperque Virginis Mariae [ante A.D. 634]).

Germanus of Constantinople
"You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life." (Sermon I [A.D. 683]).

John Damascene
"It was fitting that the she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped when giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father, It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God." (Dormition of Mary [A.D. 697])

Gregorian Sacramentary
"Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten Thy Son our Lord incarnate from herself." (Gregorian Sacramentary, Veneranda [ante A.D. 795]).

14 August 2009

The Way to True Faith

Audio file: True Devotion

St. Louis De Montfort's Prayer to Jesus

O most loving Jesus, deign to let me pour forth my gratitude before Thee, for the grace Thou hast bestowed upon me in giving me to Thy holy Mother through the devotion of Holy slavery, that she may be my advocate in the presence of Thy majesty and my support in my extreme misery. Alas, O Lord! I should be certainly lost. Yes, Mary is necessary for me at Thy side and everywhere: that she may appease Thy just wrath, because I have so often offended Thee; that she may save me from the eternal punishment of Thy justice, which I deserve; that she may contemplate Thee, speak to Thee, pray to Thee, approach Thee and please Thee; that she may help me to save my soul and the souls of others; in short, Mary is necessary for me that I may always to Thy holy will and seek Thy greater glory in all things. Ah, would that I could proclaim throughout the whole world the mercy that Thou hast shown to me! Would that everyone might know I should be already damned, were it not for Mary! Would that I might offer worthy thanksgiving for so great a blessing! Mary is in me. Oh, what a treasure! Oh, what a consolation! And shall I not be entirely hers? Oh, what ingratitude! My dear Savior, send me death rather than such calamity, for I would rather die than live without belonging entirely to Mary.
With St. John at the foot of the Cross, I have taken her a thousand times for my own and as many times have given myself to her; but if I have not yet done it as Thou, dear Jesus, dost wish, I now renew this offering as Thou desire me to renew it. And if Thou seest in my soul or my body anythng that does not belong to this august princess, I pray Thee to take it and cast it far from me, for whatever in me does not belong to Mary is unworth of Thee.
O Holy Spirit, grant me all these graces. Plant in my soul the Tree of true Life, which is Mary; cultivate it and tend it so that it may grow and blossom and bring forth the fruit of life in abundance. O Holy Spirit, give me great devotion to Mary, Thy faithful spouse; give me great confidence in her maternal heart and an abiding refuge in her mercy, so that by her Thou mayest truly form in me Jesus Christ, great and mighty, unto the fullness of His perfect age. Amen.+

11 August 2009

Converts: A Special Sign of God's Mercy

10th Sunday after Pentecost
Epistle: 1 Cor. 12:2-11
Gospel: Luke 18:9-14

This past Sunday, the 10th After Pentecost, Holy Mother Church* reminds us (*in the ancient liturgical rite based on the cycle of the Breviary) of the need for humility, in the fullness of the meaning of the word. As humility is seeing ourselves in light of Who God Is, then we see that we are nothing without His grace, and everything comes from Him to work for good. In the Gospel reading, we are reminded of the Pharisee and the Public, and how "Jesus spoke this parable to some who trusted inthemselves as just, and despised others."

Just as the Epistle of this day explains that we all who are in His grace, manifest the Holy Spirit by different works and paths.

This post are some thoughts on a particular path; that of the convert in the Roman Catholic church.

As you know, there are different types of graces, and among them, some of them are signal graces. Signal graces are graces that can be perceived by others. Whenever God permits a conversion, He bestows upon them number of signal graces. These signs usually stand out more in converts than in those that are already in His grace, or at least, have the habits that appear as grace cultivated by their environment and upbringing. When you see a rose grow in a garden of flowers, it is not as outstanding as when you see a rose grow where never any flowers thrived before. That is not a good example, though, because when we picture a rose in a plain environment, we think that the rose it somewhat out of place, and would prefer to see a rose in a garden. However, our Lord tells us that he came to live, suffer and die for the sinner, not for those that were already redeemed. Now, that is not to say that the person who was raised Catholic is necessarily living (and growing) in His grace, but from what I've learned and heard over and over again from those who have grown up Catholic, they often forget their "first charity" and fall into lukewarmness. They are tempted to think that that they are different because of their beliefs, when fundamentally, it was God's grace that they came to see and believe in them, and that everything in this life is given to us for to lead us to the Truth.

What I am really meaning to say is simply that God has given converts to the faith a special mission. This mission might be played out in many different ways, according to the path that God has chosen for each soul, but everyone is to be a sign of His Love who remains in His grace. The convert has a special role in the way that they are a reminder to all of one of the basic truths of the one, holy, Apostolic, true religion: that supernatural grace of God changes who we are to make us more into as he is.

Many times I've seen good Catholics fall in tiny steps into heresy. Frequently these are subtle but pervasive gnostic ideals, that they came to the Truth by knowledge, or Jansenism --- that they were preferred by Christ and were made more virtuous by their lineage. Each person is like a different type of flower, needing a different type of treatment for it to thrive. That is why we benefit from one another; because we are conduits of God's grace in different ways, as God intends to use us to help cultivate one another. Sometimes Catholics forget this. And I do not mean that some types, as I've described, necessarily have a higher purpose by this type, but their are lesser or greater signs according to His Will and the compliance of that soul.

St. John writes to the church at Ephesus in the Book of Revelation (*Book of the Apocalypse), "I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them that are evil, and thou hast tried them, who say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And thou hast patience, and hast endured for my name, and hast not fainted. But I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first charity. Be mindful therefore from whence thou art fallen: and do penance, and do the first works." (Rev.2:4-5). All these things that he afore mentioned are apparently not the "first works" of charity! Therefore, it must be that we must follow the laws of charity as they pertain to God and neighbor, not just live in a bubble for the sake of our own salvation. Even if one is to go into the cloister, they must be engaged heavily in the ministry of spiritual works for their neighbor, both within the walls of the convent and out in the world via frequent, intimate prayer. The Holy Spirit, through St. John, ties penance to the first works because it helps us to remember in our first thoughts who we are in respect to Who God Is (a short definition of humility). It is easier to remain humble when your sins are always before you, and remorse for our own past sins is an anecdote for pride.
Post Communion: We beseech Thee, O Lord, our God, that in They goodness Thou wilt not deprive of Thine aid those whom Thou dost not cease to renew with Thy divine Sacraments. Through our Lord.+

07 August 2009

Discerning the Holy Will of God - Part II

+Many of the saints wished to be martyrs. St. Teresa of Avila ran off as a child to become martyred by the Moors. Her father, instead, ended up giving her the third degree. St. Augustine, St. Dominic, St. Thomas Aquinas, and countless other saints ... perhaps all at one time wished to become martyrs. God, however, chose for them a different path.

It's a simple thought, really, but consider how for the pious, those who truly endeavor to love our Lord as he should be loved, the most difficult thing about the cross in the beginning is that you don't get to pick it. Too often the pious mean well, and strive to pick a cross by their zeal, and out of zeal do not discern, or continue to discern whether or not it is God's Holy Will particularly for themselves.

04 August 2009

Discerning the Holy Will of God

+OFTEN when we say to ourselves, "What should I do?" we are really only asking, "What could I do?" Even if we mean to ask, 'should', we barely truly ask the question when we exclude discerning the Holy Will of God. When should we discern the Will of God? The answer is simply: always. Since we are not (yet) saints, and are not united to Christ, discerning the Holy Will of God does not come automatically, nor does it usually come to us easily even through prayer. When, then, is it appropriate to discern through prayer? The truth of the matter is, it is always appropriate to discern through prayer. "But if the matter is light, how then can I be in the world and yet pray always?" Remember that the Holy Spirit tells us to "pray always". But how is this possible? This is known as the habit of recollection, and like all good habits, it must be acquired (at least in part), by much repeated effort on our part.

Recollection by habit requires the consistent practice of the following:

1.) Daily discovery of who JESUS is through meditation on scripture. This understanding is revealed to us through the teachings of Holy Mother Church. Just as scripture, itself, is part of Sacred Tradition that comes from God, so is all the Church's understanding of this as it has been passed on to us from the Apostles. Any new understanding is not authentic, because God revealed all to us necessary for our salvation through the teachings handed down through the Apostles. Our understanding, therefore, must be truly catholica: True for all people, all places, throughout all times. What a wonderful patrimony on which to rest!

One of the best ways to choose your daily meditation is to follow the readings for that day, or at least for the Sunday of that week. This is because the more we engage in the liturgical year, the more we avail ourselves to the particular graces that come through deeper engagement of that liturgical time. The Holy Ghost then permits the liturgy to become a part of our lives not just externally, but interiorly, intimately guiding our very souls.

2.) We must ask daily, "Who am I to God?" We must examine our consciences by conducting both general and particular examinations. General examinations consist in thinking through the 10 Commandments (not "the 10 Suggestions"), and looking not only at mortal offenses, but any offenses, even the small worms of deception known as venial sins. Was the sin deliberate? Semi-deliberate? What fault of mine was behind it? Is it common to me? This brings us to the particular examinations along with firm resolution of ammendment. The particular examin can and should be done at least 3 times throughout the day, to make sure that you are keeping your resolution to avoid the sin or fault (which leads to sin). The resolution must be concisely predefined in such a manner, "When such-and-such occurs and I am tempted to ____, I will rather do ____ in order to maintain my friendship with God and grow in His grace and Love." Then, according to the times that you fall, you have a predetermined penance for that day, something small, unless the sin is mortal*. (*If one is yet in the position to commit mortal sins, greater care must by done to sever a near occasions and prompt and close attention must be kept by a good, well-trained Confessor.) Any person serious at all about their spiritual life should have a regular, well-trained Confessor that they see at least once every 2 weeks. Faults and resolutions should be discussed during this time, in addition to any and all sins committed since the previous Confession.

3.) Daily discoursive prayers are also important, and often either over-looked, or to the other extreme --- they are relied upon as an end and not merely a means to the more involved prayers of mediation and contemplation. If examination is akin to looking at a road map and considering where we are, and meditation is akin to considering where we should be heading, discoursive prayer is one of the ways in which we put 'the pedal to the metal'. It is part of the practice of virtue, and helps us to strengthen our virtue 'muscles', as it were. Discoursive prayer is part of our daily routine, and without a routine we will not grow in the virtues and therefore nor in our relationship with God.

The most important daily, discoursive prayer is the Holy Rosary, or Our Lady's Psalter. This prayer, which was given to religious who could not either read the Psalms, or memorize them, was also given to the laity by Our Lady herself. She gave it to the laity by way of giving it to St. Dominic Guzman (whose feast is celebrated today, August 4).

Our Rosary is preparation of the other steps, so long as we are faithful to praying the Rosary daily. By this means, we enter daily into the mysteries of our Lord, both by mediation and discoursive devotion. Also, it aids in building the habit of virtue, both by invoking the aid of the Blessed Mother (asking through her for her Son's Divine aid), and daily proving our love and devotion through this simple prayer.
Faithful adherence to these practices will lead us to becoming more and more recollected in Christ, and lead us to detachment of created goods. Detachment from created goods leaves as we attach ourselves authentically to God will lead us to contemplative prayer --- where we received infused virtues and 'listen' to the Voice of God. The bottom line is the more we keep to these basics in greater devotion each day, the more readily we will be able to discern what we should do and not merely what we think we can.

St. Dominic, pray for us.+

"... heretics are more easily won over by examples of humility and virtue than by external display or a hail of words. Should we not rather arm ourselves with devout prayers and, carrying before us the standard of true humility, proceed in our bare feet against Goliath?" --- St. Dominic
Note: Please listen to Veni Creator on the first, top right video on this page. Invoke also St. Dominic to sing from Heaven with you, as he is especially likely to do, this having been one of his favorite songs which he often sang (along with the Ave Maris Stella). (The Veni Creator will be the first song played among the 2 others that follow also invoking the Holy Ghost.)