Sunday, 24 October 2021

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost: Imitate St Paul to effect the reign of Christ the King

 


Dom Gueranger writes in his commentary for the twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost, that the Mass has references to the “days of the antichrist.” Indeed, the Epistle from St. Paul to the Philippians is written while he is in chains in his prison cell, suffering persecution for the sake of the Faith and his Lord. But despite the dire situation of the great missionary, he writes in tidings of hope, entrusting the Philippians to the renewed practice of the spiritual life.

    The holy abbot, Gueranger, writes: “If, unitedly with this prophetic sense, we would apply these words practically to our own personal miseries, we must remember the Gospel we had eight days ago, and which, formerly, was the one appointed for the present Sunday. Each one of us will recognize himself in the person of the insolvent debtor, who has nothing to trust to but his master’s goodness; and in our deep humiliation, we shall exclaim, If thou, O Lord, mark iniquities, who shall endure it?”

    The theme is similar in St. Alphonsus’s homily for this Sunday, in which he focuses on the torments of those who have reneged upon the practice of the spiritual life, and given themselves to other things instead. 

    Indeed, as the Church’s liturgical year draws to a close, She presents texts that naturally point Her children towards a meditation on death, on giving an account for one’s life, and on the fate that will await every man after death. Unlike much of the modern ecclesial spirit, St. Paul’s witness is one of militant Catholicism. His life has been given to the service of God, and for that he languishes in chains. 

    Yet, he writes of hope, declaring that trusting in Christ will ensure that the world cannot remove such a soul from his adherence to God. In fact, as the liturgical texts increasingly dwell on the end times, the reign of Christ the King, and the purgation of souls – all before the year recommences in Advent – the militant Catholicism of St. Paul is one which is most apt to bring about the victory of Christ the King once more.

    “We are confident in the Lord Jesus that He Who has begun a good work in you will bring it to perfection until the day of Christ Jesus.” For a king is not led to a victory by supporters and soldiers who are only half-hearted, who do not care about the cause nor have faith in their leader. Nor is he crowned after simply conversing with those who wish to destroy him, instead of vanquishing such foes on the field of battle. 

    A king needs followers who are committed to his cause, who believe in him, and who are prepared to sacrifice themselves so that he might righteously triumph. So much more so it is required that Christ the King must have such followers who imitate St. Paul.

    For this reason, as ever the liturgical texts are so apt and timely, for occurring just one week before the feast of Christ the King, and in an age where depravity and satanism is more praised that virtue, the Church calls Her children to dwell on how they are to answer when facing the judgement seat of God. She calls us to choose between following St. Paul’s model of strong, fearless Catholicism – which is the kind needed to effect the reign of Christ – or a weak, diluted imitation of religion, in which dialogue and compromise are more important than adherence to doctrine.

    “And this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the better things, that you may be upright and without offense unto the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

    These words of St. Paul are an appeal to an almost distant form of Catholicism: one in which people strove to follow Christ and bring souls to Him, instead of forming bonds of irreligious fraternity and union, without being centred on God.

    Indeed, such is the command contained in the final line of the Gospel: “Render, therefore, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Thus St. Paul’s witness to the defense and spread of the faith, which brought countless souls to the knowledge and practice of the faith, is placed before the Church once again, almost as a clarion call for Her children to model themselves upon him, in order to bring about the reign of Christ the King.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost: The reality of spiritual battle


    “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness on high.” The words of St. Paul’s Epistle ring true in every age, for a crisis is never one dimensional. It is never merely an earthly crisis, wherein evil men seek to accomplish their desires completely divorced from a spiritual reality. Rather the earthly and spiritual realms are interconnected, meaning that in any, and in every, earthly crisis there is a spiritual element which is to be addressed. 


While various politicians and activists clamour about their respective concerns, the issue which is often ignored is the spiritual element of a particular crises. Even for those (very few) honest public figures, who recognise the crisis in society, they will often seek to solve it with legislation while ignoring the necessity for prayer, or for policy which draws society back to the moral law. Ultimately, any action which is not rooted in adherence to the law of God is destined to fail, and is like constantly attempting to cover a wound, instead of attempting to heal it instead.


Indeed, the ultimate source of catastrophe in the world comes from the disorder brought about through sin, through demonic influences, and through the fallen nature of man. Thus, in order to address any issue, a solution must be two-fold, combined of a material and a spiritual element.


Such is the message conveyed by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians, as he writes about the spiritual battle which they must be prepared to face. And while modern society, and even the modern Church, may seem less inclined to listen to the rhetoric of spiritual warfare, the facts remain that we are indeed engulfed in such a battle. Ignoring it is of no use; formulating the most intricate policy, while rejecting any spiritual solution, is also of no use. “I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)


Part of the wiles of the forces of evil is to seek to distract souls form the spiritual reality of the current crisis, and attempt to convince people into all sorts of activities, only to disctract them from attending to the spiritual necessities of each day which play a crucial part in combatting the forces of evil. Temptations will occur that time spent in prayer is of no use, or would be better spent in other, more visibly productive activities. In short, the devil makes use of any means possible to divert souls away from paying attention to the spiritual reality, for as long as souls attempt to combat the forces of evil using only earthly weapons, then their efforts will be in vain. 


Hence St. Paul writes to instruct the Church that She must be first and foremost adept with the weapons of the spiritual realm. Armed with these, the forces of evil will waste themselves upon the bulwarks of the Church, as She fights with the all-powerful weapons of God.


“Therefore, take up the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and stand in all things perfect. Stand, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breast-plate of justice, and having your feet shod with the readiness of the Gospel of peace, in all things taking up the shield of faith, with which you may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, that is, the word of God.”


This is not to say that souls should abandon any attempt to remedy the ills of the world, and instead abandon themselves to constant prayer, but nothing else. On the contrary, the Church has the mission of preaching the Gospel, converting and saving souls, and this cannot be achieved if everyone remains reclusive in their homes, never venturing out into the world. Spiritual and temporal remedies are necessary, and while the temporal must be guided ultimately by the spiritual, it should not be disregarded. 


Indeed, there have been times and may well be again, when the military style language of St. Paul is not restricted to mere allegory, but is translated in a more literal manner. Souls may well be called upon to take up arms in defense of the faith, of morality, of the Church, of the family. During the Sack of Rome in 1527, the Swiss Guard were killed down to a man in their defence of the Pope from the Masonic and Protestant forces. While God has raised up many holy martyrs whose blood is the seed of the Church, so He also raises up champions for the Church, such as those members of the Swiss Guard, so that the Church may defend Her own when the forces of evil turn against Catholics.


Consequently, the response to the evil of modernity and the crisis of the day, must always be guided by the acknowledgement of the spiritual battle which is being constantly waged. Only when this aspect is addressed can the Church, or indeed any man, hope to bring about the reordering of society in accordance with God’s law. 

Sunday, 10 October 2021

The month of the Holy Rosary


October continues to give numerous feasts of Our Lady for the Church to celebrate. Only days ago, She honoured Our Lady of the Rosary, recalling the 450th anniversary of the triumphant victory over the Islamic forces at Lepanto. Tomorrow the Church pays homage to Mary once again in the feast of the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin, and the day following is the lesser found feast of Our Lady of the Pillar. Added to this is the month-long dedication to the holy rosary, and the 54-day rosary novena which commenced on the 7th of October, for the intentions of the Church and the world.

    The need for devotion to the rosary increases with every day, as the devil continues his war against God and the Blessed Virgin. The satanic hatred which he bears for the pious virgin-mother, means that his attacks are turned against her, and so it is increasingly common that those virtues which she embodies are the ones which the world and the devil reject. Purity, chastity, humility, oblation to God, and willingness to suffer: all of these were exemplified by Mary, and are the trademarks of the Catholic life. All of these same viruses, then, are the subject of relentless attacks in modern, pagan, even satanic society. 

    Is it even possible to walk down the street without seeing signs, hearing music, observing behaviour, which treats such admirable virtues as if they were the practice of fools and madmen? On the contrary, the world argues, the opposing vices should be allowed to flourish: let impurity be practiced by all; let children be coerced into believing themselves the opposite sex; let promiscuity and abortion be rife; let there be no suffering in this life, but only hedonistic pleasure. Above all, argues the world, let there be no hint of humble, self-oblation to God.

    In contrast, the rosary recalls the intimate union of Christ and Mary, documenting her co-operation with His salvific mission, the horrendous sufferings, tortures and death, and the glorious resurrection. The first mystery recounts her act of profound humility, uniting her will with God’s, desiring only to do His will and not her own. The Annunciation is the antidote the daily message of the world in every way, a point which makes meditating on it and the Joyful mysteries all the more essential. Each of the mysteries of the rosary is centred upon humility, oblation to God, willingness to suffer for Him, and the desire for souls. Each one is an opportunity to imitate the Blessed Virgin, and to join her as one of the Friends of the Cross, as St. Louis-Marie de Montfort wrote.

    Pope Pius XII wrote of this aspect, in his 1952 encyclical Ingruentium Malorem: “And truly, from the frequent meditation on the Mysteries, the soul little by little and imperceptibly draws and absorbs the virtues they contain, and is wondrously enkindled with a longing for things immortal, and becomes strongly and easily impelled to follow the path which Christ Himself and His Mother have followed. The recitation of identical formulas repeated so many times, rather than rendering the prayer sterile and boring, has on the contrary the admirable quality of infusing confidence in him who prays and brings to bear a gentle compulsion on the motherly Heart of Mary.”

    The world in which evil is promoted as a virtue, in one in which the Church has utmost need to heed the call of Mary at Fatima, when she asked for the daily recitation of the rosary. Indeed, in the times when the satanic assault is directed on the family, what better way is there to combat it, than to meditate on the actions of the Holy Family, and for families to strengthen themselves through the recitation of the rosary. “In vain is a remedy sought for the wavering fate of civil life, if the family, the principle and foundation of the human community, is not fashioned after the pattern of the Gospel,” notes Pius XII.

    As promoters of the modern satanistic worldview become emboldened by their apparent victories, Catholics must take heart from the fact that Our Lady has already noted how such men are destined to fail. “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph,” she said. In order to join in bringing about this triumph, Catholics must heed the call, coming from the Mother of God, to pray the prayer which so angers, infuriates and confounds the devil. By this means, every household becomes a fortress of prayer, devoted to imitation of Mary, and imitation of Christ. With the home of a Catholic family thus becoming an “earthly abode of sanctity,” the reversion of society to God can begin. 

    “This meditation will bring to the knowledge of the little ones the main truths of the Christian Faith, making love for the Redeemer blossom almost spontaneously in their innocent hearts, while, seeing, their parents kneeling before the majesty of God, they will learn from their very early years how great before the throne of God is the value of prayers said in common.”

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Sts' Michael and Thérèse - united in their devotion to God.



This past week has seen the feast of St. Michael and the holy Angels, and today marks the feast of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. 

Rather than attempting to synthesise the majestic humility and devotion to God, which both St. Michael and St. Thérèse exemplified, this blog will instead note two prayers. The first is to St. Michael, and is the full prayer to the archangel composed by Pope Leo XIII, after his vision of the evil spirits released from hell so as to destroy the Church. While the shorter version is commonly known, the full prayer is less so:

“O Glorious Prince of the heavenly host, St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle and in the terrible warfare that we are waging against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the evil spirits. Come to the aid of man, whom Almighty God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of Satan.

Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. That cruel, ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.

These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where the See of Holy Peter and the Chair of Truth has been set up as the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.

Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious power of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly find mercy in the sight of the Lord; and vanquishing the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered, the root of David.
V. Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as supplicants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin Immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious St. Michael the Archangel, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of souls. Amen.”

Meanwhile, the admirable devotion to God demonstrated by St. Michael is mirrored by St. Thérèse, who although she confined herself to the walls of Carmel, was filled with such a zeal for God and for souls, that she is proclaimed a patron of the missions. The humble nun took her lead from the archangel in dedicating her life to the service of God, and just as St Michael gave himself in service to Him, so St. Thérèse dedicated herself completely to Him so that she might accompany Him in life and in death.

To this end, she composed the beautiful act of oblation, presented on this blog one year ago. However, the humble Carmelite also penned numerous poems, one of which amply demonstrates her love for the Almighty - 'My wishes before the tabernacle.'

O little key! I envy thee, For thou canst ope, at any hour, The Eucharistic prison-house, Where dwells the God of Love and Power. And yet — Oh, tender mystery! — One effort of my faith alone Unlocks the tabernacle door, And hides me there with Christ my Own. 

O lamp within the holy place, Whose mystic lights forever shine! I fain would burn with fires of love As bright, before my God and thine. Yet, miracle of wondrous bliss! Such flames are mine; and, day by day, I can win souls to Jesus Christ, To burn with His pure love for aye. 

O consecrated altar-stone! I envy thee with every morn. As once in Bethlehem’s blessed shed, The Eternal Word on thee is born. Yet, gentle Saviour! hear my plea;

Enter my heart, O Lord divine! ‘Tis no cold stone I offer Thee, Who dost desire this heart of mine! 

O corporal that angels guard! What envy of thee fills my breast! On thee, as in His swaddling bands, I see my only Treasure rest. Ah Virgin Mother! change my heart Into a corporal pure and fair, Whereon the snow-white Host may rest, And thy meek Lamb find shelter there. 

O holy paten! Jesus makes of Thee His sacramental throne. Ah! if He would abase Himself, To dwell awhile with me alone! Jesus fulfils my longing hope, Nor must I wait until I die; — He comes to me! He lives in me! His ostensoriumam I! 

The chalice, too, I fain would be, Where I adore the Blood divine! Yet, at the holy sacrifice, That Precious Blood each day is mine. More dear to Jesus is my soul, Than chalices of gold could be; His altar is a Calvary new, Whereon His Blood still flows for me. 

Only one little bunch of grapes That gladly disappears for Thee, O Jesus, holy, heavenly Vine! Thou knowest I rejoice to be. Beneath the pressure of the cross, I prove my love for Thee alway; And ask no other joy than this, — To immolate myself each day! 

Among the grains of purest wheat, O happy lot! he chooses me. We lose our life for Him, the Christ, — What rapturous height of ecstasy! Thy spouse am I, Thy chosen one.

My Well-Beloved! come, dwell in me. Thy beauty wins my heart. Oh, come! Deign to transform me into Thee!

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost - Restoring all things in Christ



    “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven you. And behold, some of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemes. And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, Why do you harbour evil thoughts in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, and walk’?”

    It is one of the greatest comforts in life to remember that no matter the weight of evil which exists in the world, it cannot prevail against the Almighty. Nor even can one’s personal offences be too great for God to forgive, assuming proper contrition of course, as the Gospel demonstrates. 

    What is the greater miracle though, in the Gospel passage? Is it the curing of the paralytic’s physical ailments, or the curing of his soul from the spiritual ailment of sin? One is evidently more visible, more easily perceived and perhaps thus more easily understood. On the other hand, the curing of one’s soul from sin is a spiritual matter, unseen to the human eye, and perhaps less easy to fathom.

    The answer to the question posed by Christ in the Gospel is one which confounds the Pharisees, and continues to confound many today. Modern society, so attached to the idea that life must be understood in all of its aspects, rejects the notion of God and harkens to the so called ‘scientific theories’ which support this atheistic mindset. Unable to comprehend the physical or the spiritual miracle, atheistic man rejects the possibility of either. 

    Such is the concept which has been gradually pushed since the days of the Protestant Revolt,  and which has now culminated in the tragic case of the current times wherein God is rejected as a foolish notion, but satan is worshipped freely instead.

       The revolutionaries are committed to the one idea of doing away with the concept of God. Once God is no longer in the minds of men, then the revolutionaries know they can promote and legitimise any depravity they wish, since their is no higher power, no sense of morality, no life after death in which one will have to answer for one’s earthly transgressions. 

    The state of modernity is one in which all is permitted, except defending God and adhering to His word.

    Yet this is not to be the case for long. Our Lady of Fatima promised the three children that her Immaculate Heart will triumph. Indeed, is it more astonishing for Christ to restore society to Himself, than for Him to descend to earth and die for the sins of mankind? Would He do such an act of salvific, selfless love, and then abandon His Church? Just as He cured the physical ailments of the paralytic and cures the spiritual ailments of all penitents in every sincere and humble confession, so He can restore the world to being God-ordered once more.

     “Then He said to the paralytic - Arise, take up your pallet and go to your house. And he arose, and went away to his house. But when the crowds saw it, they were struck with fear, and glorified God Who had given such power to men.”

      In truth, the Church today, and all of Her members, must take up the motto of St. Pius X – “To renew all things in Christ.” She is called to teach the faith to all peoples and to bring souls into union with God. Taking heart in the almighty power of God, the Church must renew that commitment so clearly laid out by St. Pius X. 

    Writing in 1903, the saintly pontiff declared about this goal: “But if our desire to obtain this is to be fulfilled, we must use every means and exert all our energy to bring about the utter disappearance of the enormous and detestable wickedness, so characteristic of our time — the substitution of man for God; this done, it remains to restore to their ancient place of honour the most holy laws and counsels of the gospel; to proclaim aloud the truths taught by the Church, and her teachings on the sanctity of marriage, on the education and discipline of youth, on the possession and use of property, the duties that men owe to those who rule the State; and lastly to restore equilibrium between the different classes of society according to Christian precept and custom.” (E Supremi) 

    Taking inspiration from the Pope’s words, and remembering the limitless power of God, the Gospel thus reminds Catholics of their role in an atheistic, modern world: namely to seek their salvation and to bring souls to God. We must take courage from the words of Mary at Fatima, who reassured the Church that the victory over evil has already been won. We must take courage from the power of God, which is evidenced in every physical and spiritual miracle, in every Mass and in every confession. 

    We must also heed the advice on how to achieve the goals of reaching salvation, and leading others to it, by noting the outline presented by Pius X, on how to restore society to God:

    “The times we live in demand action — but action which consists entirely in observing with fidelity and zeal the divine laws and the precepts of the Church, in the frank and open profession of religion, in the exercise of every kind of charitable works, without regard to self interest or worldly advantage. Such luminous examples given by the great army of soldiers of Christ will be of much greater avail in moving and drawing men than words and sublime dissertations; and it will easily come about that when human respect has been driven out, and prejudices and doubting laid aside, large numbers will be won to Christ, becoming in their turn promoters of His knowledge and love which are the road to true and solid happiness.”

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

 Apologies to regular readers of this blog, who will notice the absence of a post this morning, as a result of needing time away from the screen and keyboard.

Normal service will resume this week.

God Bless

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

The Seven Dolours of Mary

   

    

        Consider the scene - Mount Calvary is topped with three crosses, and beneath them stand the cruel executioners of Christ. They cast lots for His garments and fill the air with their profanities, whilst above them the Saviour of the Universe pours out His blood for the salvation of mankind. Passing almost un-noticed by the mocking crowd of soldiers and townspeople, stands a woman. She is found next to the cross of Christ, her eyes gazing up at Him and her hand extended to touch the wood of the cross. The blood from His pierced and flagellated body falls down the beams and onto her hand as it rests on that sacred tree. She remains there, unflinching in the face of the torturous death of her Son, not filled with hate for his enemies, but freely offering herself with Him. She sacrifices her own will for the sake of God’s: she rejects the natural desire to wish Christ's preservation and instead unites her will to His in willing that His sacrificial death be the cause of salvation. This is the Woman of sorrows, her hand never moving from the cross, her will never wavering in its resolve. She thus unites herself to Christ in a manner which none else can do. Her heavenly crown is won here, on this bare hill, where she and Christ offer themselves for the salvation of souls and the glory of God. Such is our Mother of Sorrows. 

        Holy Mother Church follows the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, the instrument of Christ’s passion, with the great feast of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, or Our Lady of Sorrows. It is most fitting that these two feasts should be so situated in the Church’s liturgical year. Just as Mary and Christ were so united in their lives, especially in their suffering, so must the Exaltation of the Cross,  that instrument of His suffering, be accompanied by the exaltation of Mary’s sorrows. The union between Christ and His mother cannot be understood if one does not realise the deep union which is formed through their joint suffering. Christ offered Himself on the cross: Mary offered Him but also herself with Him. It is for this reason that she is hailed as the Co-Redemptrix, and consequently when we honour the passion of Christ, we rightly honour her also. 


        Yet it seems strange perhaps to use such a term as the ‘exaltation of Mary’s sorrows’, for how can it be right to rejoice so in the sufferings of another? St. Alphonsus Ligouri mentions that her sufferings were so great that she is called the Queen of Martyrs, a title by which we hail her in the Litany of Loreto. Her sorrows were so great and so profound that she is likened to those who have died for Christ, but how then can this great sorrow be a cause of joy for the Church? One answer to this is to remember the role of suffering in the spiritual life and to further state that it is only through the suffering and death of Christ that we have access to heaven. Suffering is indeed the gateway to union with Christ, since it is the way by which one dies to self and imitates his Lord. This truth Mary knew more perfectly than all, and it was this which moved her to will her suffering.


    For indeed, the sorrows which she endured were all voluntary. She willingly accepted the honour and the sacrifice of becoming the Mother of God, fully aware of the trials and the awful pain which this would cause. It was in the face of this realisation that she offered her fiat to the heavenly messenger at the Annunciation. This does not mean that her life was spent in sombre expectation of the dread moment of the joint passion she was to undergo with her Son. Her life was one of sorrow, yes, but it was also one of joy. Fr. Keen mentions this fact: “Mary’s life never ceased for a moment to be a life of intoxicating joy. Mary’s life was one of intense union with God”.(1) 


    It is through this complete union and willing of the Divine will that Mary spent a life in joy and blissful union with God. Fully conscious of the torments that she would suffer along with her Son, this thought did not overwhelm her because she knew that such sacrifice was perfectly in accord with the will of God. He so wished that she should be united with Christ in the act of redemption. Indeed, the Catholic life is one of suffering, but sufferings united to God so that they became joys. Perfection is found in imitation of the life of the cross: Mary was the most perfect imitator of the way of the cross and in this suffering she found the heavenly joy which comes only from doing the will of God. Thus, whilst St. Alphonsus describes her sorrow as being all encompassing and without ceasing, we can also state that her life was one of heavenly joy.


    The Church counts seven sorrows of Mary: the prophecy of Simeon; the flight into Egypt; the loss of her Son in the temple; her meeting with Christ on the way to Calvary; the death of Jesus; the piercing of His Sacred Side and His descent from the cross; Christ’s burial. All of these dolours are united by one point in particular - they are directed to Christ. Mary’s sorrows are not sorrows for her own account, as opposed to the majority of the sufferings which we undergo in daily life. Certainly, she felt a natural and just sorrow at all these events, particularly when witnessing the passion and death of her Son. But more than this is the sorrow she felt which was a sharing in Christ’s sorrow. At each one of these seven occasions, it is concern for her Son which moves her. She gives no thought to herself at all, but unfailing wishes to join herself to Christ. It is for this reason that St. Alphonsus writes thus: “To show the sufferings endured by other martyrs they are represented with the instruments of their torture…Mary is represented with her dead Son in her arms; for He alone was the instrument of her martyrdom, and compassion for Him made her the Queen of Martyrs”.(2)


    The sufferings of this sweet, virgin Mother of God are thus transformed into the means by which demons flee and sin is vanquished. With and through Christ, Mary becomes the Co-Redemptrix of the human race, the Mediatrix of graces and the Exterminatrix of heresies. She is the woman who crushes the head of the serpent (cf Gen 3:15) and the humble new Eve who acts with the New Adam. Thus the Epistle of today’s Mass applies these words to the Mother of God: “the Lord hath blessed thee by His power, because by thee he hath brought our enemies to nought”. (Judith 13:22) In dwelling upon each of the seven dolours of Our Lady, we are not commemorating some mournful event, but rather a signal triumph over the devil. Every sorrow endured by that humble Co-Redemptrix serves as a vicious blow to the devil, as Mary united her will to God’s. Through the sorrow she endured at the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt and the loss of Christ in the temple, she brought glory to God and confounded the devil. Through her willing and loving co-operation with Christ in the entirety of His passion, she planted her heel firmly upon the head of the serpent as she became the channel to the world for the graces which Christ won upon the cross. 


    Just as God led the Israelites from Egypt with the pillar of cloud and fire, so Mary leads her children through the darkness of temptations and assaults. Thus, in the words of St. Lawrence, “behold the twofold object for which Mary is given to us; to shelter us, as a cloud, from the heat of the sun of justice, and, as fire, to protect us all against the devil”.(3) Her name has become a source of terror to the demons and her virtues, a scourge to the evil spirits. Well then can we pray the words of the Memorare: ‘Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known, that anyone who fled to protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession, was left unaided’.


    Verily, Mary’s glory is found in her dolours and her sufferings. In turn, these sufferings and her life of sacrifice are centred upon God and the performance of His holy will. Christ was crowned mockingly with a helmet of thorns in his passion: Mary received no such physical torture but her heart was pierced with a sword that was keener than any earthly blade. He endured all and died so that He might perform the will of the Father and ransom fallen man from the slavery of sin. To this Mary united herself completely, not in a subdued or reluctant manner, but joyfully willing that she might receive her sorrows for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. 


    In this manner, Our Lady of Sorrows becomes the mother of us all. Her sorrow can be understood only by understanding the immensity of her love for God. In fostering a devotion to her under this title, the Church exhorts us to thus imitate her in this virtue. St. Alphonsus teaches that “Mary’s whole martyrdom consisted in beholding and pitying her innocent and beloved Son, who suffered so much. Hence, the greater was her love for Him, the more bitter and inconsolable was her grief”.(4) This is great glory and joy of the dolours of Mary - for they are sorrows precisely because of her perfect love of God and the sorrow she endured from seeing Him so treated. This is the reason why faithful Catholics can and must take such joy and glory in the seven dolours of the Blessed Mother, because each moment of agony she endured was also a moment of perfect union with the will of God, of heavenly joy in being so united with Him, and a moment of absolute rejection of the devil. 


    What words are truly enough to properly describe each of the sorrows which Mary underwent? Many tomes could not do justice to the awful weight of the suffering and martyrdom which she endured. Nor could they properly convey the truth of the reason for such willing suffering, namely the perfect and most intimate love and union with God. The pages provided for us by the saints, particularly Sts. Alphonsus Ligouri and Louis-Marie de Montfort, are full of immense beauty and can nurture many hours of fruitful meditation. But even these great Marian saints freely proclaim that their words do nothing to truly present the truths about the Queen of Martyrs. 


    The dolours of Mary the Co-Redemptrix are the glory of the Church. The bitter sorrows which she willingly undertook became her sweetest joys in unison with Christ. Through these, the seven sorrows of Mary, Holy Mother Church calls us all to foster a deeper union with our heavenly Mother. We are urged to meditate often upon the dolours, because by doing so their mysteries will unveil themselves to the fervent devotees of Our Lady. The more that a soul contemplates these particular moments in the life of Christ and His Mother, then the more completely he is filled with an understanding of the intimate, loving, sacrificial union between them. With this knowledge, and with Our Lady of Sorrows as his guide, such a soul is able to imitate the Blessed Mother in willing all things for the sake of God.


    St. Alphonsus closes his meditation on the Seven Sorrows of Mary, with this prayer, one which the Church proposes Her children make their own on this feast: 

“Oh my afflicted mother! queen of martyrs and of sorrows, thou hast shed so many tears for thy Son, who died for my salvation, and yet what will thy tears avail me, if I am lost? By the merits, then, of thy dolors, obtain for me a true sorrow for my sins, and a true amendment of life, with a perpetual and tender com passion for the passion of Jesus and thy own sufferings. And if Jesus and thou, being so innocent, have suffered so much for me, obtain for me that I, who am deserving of hell, may also suffer something for love of you. O Lady, I will say to thee with St. Bonaventure, if I have offended thee, wound my heart in punishment ; if I have served thee, now I beg to be wounded as a reward. It is a shameful thing to see our Lord Jesus wounded, and thee wounded with him, and I uninjured. Finally, oh my mother, by the grief thou didst experience on seeing thy Son before thy eyes bow his head and expire upon the cross, I entreat of thee to obtain for ine a good death. Ah, do not cease, oh advocate of sinners, to assist my afflicted and struggling soul in that great passage that it has to make into eternity. And, because at that time it may easily be the case that I shall have lost the use of speech with which to invoke thy name, and that of Jesus, who are all my hope, therefore I now invoke thy Son and thee to succor me at that last moment, and I say: Jesus and Mary, to you I commend my soul. Amen.”



1: Frs. Leen and Kearney, Our Blessed Mother, (Dublin, Clonmore & Reynolds, 1947), 63.

2: St. Alphonsus Ligouri, The Glories of Mary, (London, Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1868),     598.

3. St. Lawrence, De Laudibus Virgines, Ch 12, source in The Glories of Mary.

4: Ligouri, The Glories of Mary, 413.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost: The Most Holy Name of Mary


    September is a month liberally scattered with many feasts dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and today is no exception. The sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost occupies the day normally given to the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary. Days after the feast of the nativity of Mary, and again days before the feast of the Sorrows of Mary, the Church points Her children to honour the Most Holy Name of Mary.

    It is the name of a young virgin, devoted only to doing all things according to the will of God, and as such is a name which puts terror into demons, scatters the forces of evil and gives glory to God. Devotion to Mary is not false devotion, which is in some way misdirected, but rather devotion to she who was without sin and who humbly united her will to God’s so as to become the virgin Mother of God. “Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?” (Song of Solomon 6:9) 

    Devotion to the virgin mother is denigrated in increasing occasions in the modern age, particularly by those who wish to fling insult and injury at God. Such souls pervert the Divine order which ordains that the surest way to follow Christ is to follow His mother, and so seek to injure Him through her. Yet no matter the injury they seek to inflict, such attacks on the Blessed Virgin can never detract in any way from the glory which she rightly enjoys at the right hand of the Divine throne. 

    For Mary, as St. Alphonsus writes, “is more holy in the first moment of her existence than all the Saints together.” Such words are echoed by Dom Gueranger who describes the manner of her growth as a young child: “Not the holiest life, were it even of patriarchal duration, will ever attain the degree of progress made under the influence of divine power by the soul of the most pure Virgin, in these few days elapsed since her coming on earth. First, there is the progress of her intellect: not subject to the obscurity which envelopes the minds of all men at their entrance into the world, it is a faithful mirror, into which the Word of God pours floods of that light which is also life. Then the progress of love in that heart of the Virgin and the Mother, wherein the holy Spirit already delights to awake such ineffable harmonies, and to dig still deeper depths. Lastly, the progress of that victorious power, which made satan tremble at the moment of the Immaculate Conception, and which has constituted Mary the incomparable Queen of the hosts of the Lord.”

    She is the Immaculate Conception and in her, sin has no hold. She, the purest of creatures, was pre-emptively redeemed by her Son, so that she might join with Him in the salvific act of redeeming mankind. Mary, the one whose name is most holy, is for us the channel of graces, and of her the Church applies the word of Ecclesiasticus 24:25 – “In me is all grace of the way and the truth.” Indeed, it is necessary that Mary be so set apart from mankind in terms of the signal graces which she received, for as St. Alphonsus notes, “otherwise how could she have interceded for all others?” 

    From her earliest moments, Mary’s life was one of faithful, holy and tender service to the will and love of God, so much so that many saints and theologians through the ages have suggested that she received sanctifying grace and the perfect use of her reason while in the womb of St. Anne, so that she was perfectly able to correspond to the graces which she was given. 

    Indeed, how could it be otherwise in she who was to bear the Son of God! How could the Holy Spirit allow His spouse to be sullied in any way, when she was to carry the Redeemer and then join Him in His acts of redemption! Well does St. Alphonsus write, that Mary thus worked from the very first moments for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. From the very beginning of her life, Mary had no desires in her heart but those which were of God.

    This is the woman, then, whom Holy Mother Church calls Her children to honour and glorify, calling us to dwell upon the name of Mary, she who is without sin and joins Christ in the Redemption. In taking the Litany of Loreto, one can ably do so, examining the many graces and gifts which God has bestowed upon her and the concomitant titles under which we now have recourse to her.

    Dom Gueranger also supplies this sequence in his meditation for these days following Mary’s nativity:

O holy Lady of the world, illustrious Queen of heaven! O Mary, star of the sea, Virgin Mother after God’s own heart!
Come forth, thou maiden sweet; grow verdant, thou tender little branch; for thou wilt bear the noble flower, Christ, both God and man.
Lo! we are celebrating the annual solemnity of thy birth, the day whereon, sprung from a most choice root, thou didst begin to shine upon our earth.
We who are earth-born, yet now are citizens of heaven too, have been through thee, in wondrous wise, set at peace by an honorable treaty.
Glory then and victory be ever to the Trinity, in undivided Unity, through everlasting ages.

Amen.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Month of the Dolours of Mary



The month of September is marked by the Church’s dedication to the Dolors of Mary, the Co-Redemptrix and mediatrix of all graces. The Church offers not just the month in general, but presents the two great feasts of the Exaltation of the Cross on the 14th, and the seven sorrows of Mary on the 15th.

There is perhaps no better manner in which to suitably open the month, and prepare for these feasts, as well as for the birthday of Our Lady, than by turning to St. Alphonsus Ligouri, whose devotion to the sorrowful mother is near unmatched. 

In his beautiful work, The Glories of Mary, the great Mariologist offers numerous meditations and consideration on the Blessed Virgin, as well as on each of her dolours specifically. Such pages can be taken on their own for the month of September, but he also offers a standalone homily for the dolours of Mary, which he gave during Passion Week. DUe to the dedication of this site – Mater Dolorosa – the great saints’ texts will be used considerably throughout this month, since there are few composed texts which so wonderfully portray the mystery of Mary’s sorrowful compassion with Christ.

 

Her martyrdom was never equalled.

“Behold we are about to consider a new kind of martyrdom; we have to consider a Mother condemned to see her innocent Son die as a malefactor on an infamous gibbet. This mother is Mary, who indeed, with too great reason, is called by the Church the Queen of Martyrs; yes, for Mary in the death of Jesus Christ suffered a more cruel martyrdom than all other martyrs.”

 

The words of the prophet Jeremias explain my meaning in this point: “To what shall compare thee? or to what shall I liken thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? . . . for great as the sea is thy destruction who Shall heal thee?” No, the acuteness of the sufferings of Mary are not to be compared, even with those of all the martyrs united. “The martyrdom of Mary,” says Saint Bernard, “was not caused by the executioner’s sword, but proceeded from bitter sorrow of heart.” In other martyrs torments were inflicted on the body; but Mary’s sorrow was in her heart and soul, verifying in her the prophecy of Saint Simeon, “Thy own soul O sword shall pierce.”

 

Arnold of Chartres writes, that “whoever had been on Mount Calvary, to witness the great sacrifice of the Immaculate Lamb, would there have beheld two great altars, the one in the body of Jesus, the other in the heart of Mary; for on that mount, when the Son sacrificed His body by death, Mary sacrificed her soul by compassion.” So much so, says Saint Antoninus, that, whereas other martyrs sacrifice their own lives, the Blessed Virgin consummated her martyrdom by sacrificing the life of her Son, a life which she loved far more than her own, and which caused her to endure a torment which exceeded all other torments ever endured by any mortal on earth.

 

“All the wounds,” says Saint Bonaventure, “which were scattered over the body of Jesus were united in the heart of Mary, to torment her in the Passion of her Son;” so that, as Saint Lawrence Justinian writes, “the heart of Mary, by compassion for her Son, became a mirror of His torments, in which might be seen faithfully reflected the spittings, the blows, the wounds, and all that Jesus suffered.” We can therefore say that Mary, on account of the love she bore Him, was in heart, during the Passion of her Son, struck, scourged, crowned with thorns, and nailed to the very cross of her Son.

 

The same Saint Lawrence considers Jesus, on His road to Calvary, with the cross on His shoulders, turning to Mary, and saying to her, “Alas, my own dear Mother, whither goest thou? what a scene wilt thou witness? Thou wilt be agonised by My sufferings, and I by thine.” 

 

But the loving Mother would follow Him all the same, though she knew that, by being present at His death, she would have to endure a torment greater than any death. She saw that her Son carried the cross to be crucified upon it; and she also took up the cross of her sorrows, and followed her Son to be crucified with Him. 

 

Hence Saint Bonaventure considers Mary standing by the cross of her dying Son, and asks her, saying, “O Lady, tell me where didst thou then stand--was it near the cross? No, thou wast on the cross itself, crucified with thy Son.” On the words of the Redeemer, foretold by the prophet Isaias, “I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the Gentiles there is not a man with me,” Richard of Saint Lawrence says, “It is true, O Lord, that in the work of human redemption Thou didst suffer alone, and that there was not a man who sufficiently pitied Thee; but there was a woman with Thee, and she was Thine own Mother; she suffered in her heart all that Thou didst endure in Thy body.”

 

To show the sufferings endured by other martyrs, they are represented with the instruments of their torture; Saint Andrew with a cross, Saint Paul with a sword, Saint Lawrence with a gridiron; Mary is represented with her dead Son in her arms; for He alone was the instrument of her martyrdom, and compassion for Him made her the Queen of Martyrs. 

 

Saint Bernardine of Sienna even says, that ‘“he sufferings of Mary were such, that had they been divided amongst all creatures capable of suffering, they would have caused their immediate death.” Who, then, can ever doubt that the martyrdom of Mary was without its equal, and that it exceeded the sufferings of all the martyrs; since, as Saint Antoninus says, “they suffered in the sacrifice of their own lives; but the Blessed Virgin suffered by offering the life of her Son to God, a life which she loved far more than her own.”



Sunday, 29 August 2021

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Agents of chaos and the choice of two masters.

    “No man serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will stand by the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” The serving of two masters is no modern phenomena, as the text of today’s Gospel proves. Christ’s warning about this is now almost two millennia old, and yet it continues to be a warning still as unheeded today as it was during the time He walked on earth. In recent times, the warning has been watered down in its application, so that the catechesis which is now given on the passage bears little to no correlation to the import it had in days of greater adherence to tradition. 

    How can such a claim be made? Sadly, the claim is not a wild one by any means, but borne out of simple observation of the Church, and some of Her members, in the last number of decades. The spirit of revolution promoted at Vatican II, pioneered by enemies of the faith and spread by many thereafter, either wilfully or unwittingly, is precisely that which Christ warns against in this Gospel passage. 

 

   In the face of a world in crisis, moral decline, and the rise of multitudinous religious beliefs, agents of change within the Church have managed to propose the agenda of dialogue, of accompaniment, and agiornamento. They have steered the Church away from the firm, uncompromising proclamation of the faith of ages, the faith entrusted to Her by Christ, and into a murky path of “encounter.” Doctrine has been deemed too harsh and supposedly with the potential for preventing converts, and so the Catholic faith has been rapidly diluted by those opposed to it, all in the name of bringing others to God. 

 

   One such example is of the fifty bishops, who petitioned that the Second Vatican Council proclaim Mary as Co-Redemptrix, only to be told that this would not happen. Despite such a title being consistently taught by the Church, the agents of the Council decreed that proclaiming Mary to be Co-Redemptrix could “be understood with difficulty by separated brethren.” These men were thus forcing the Church into that impossible scenario of seeming to serve both God and the world. 

 

   Numerous academic accounts have recorded the manner in which these agents of chaos ruptured the continuity of the faith during that time, building upon the centuries-old groundwork which began with the Protestant revolt. 

 

   Indeed, the spirit which has spread throughout the Church in the wake of Vatican II has been precisely that which is condemned in the Gospel for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost. The modernists purport to serve two masters simultaneously: God, and – due to the endless compromises made with it – the world. Yet, the proponents of this error hold that such a process is really for the good of the Church, for the furthering of the Catholic faith and the union of all. 


    The process of “dialogue” is so that “all may be one” they say, appealing to Scripture. How often is that phrase used, “that all may be one” in order to defend the ecumenical efforts made by the modern Church, which serve only to undermine the pure faith of ages, by making concessions to other and false religions. 


    These agents of chaos, in almost satanic manner, corrupt the words of Sacred Scripture to support their own anti-Catholic aims, for the passage which they quote, is not complete. John 17:21, from which their phrase is drawn, does not describe some undefined union, but rather a union of all in God, in the union of the Holy Trinity, something which can only be found by the proclamation of the fullness of the faith in the Catholic Church. This, of course, is not something which the agents of chaos – the modernists – will mention, for they are determined in their public pursuit of defying the words of Christ and attempting to pursue two masters.

 

   However, Christ also teaches thus: “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” (Matthew 12:30) The enemies of Tradition and of the faith are well aware of their true purpose, which is not to eventually bring souls to God, but rather to drive souls away from Him. While their actions appear to be in defiance of the principle that one cannot serve two masters, in reality such actions are a clear example of how true Christ’s words are, for the agents of chaos serve ultimately only one master – he who was driven out of the heavenly kingdom by St. Michael and a host of angels. 

 

   “No man serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will stand by the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Such men have chosen the path of hatred of Christ, and love of sin, of standing by death and not by Life. These souls, found disturbingly often amongst the ranks of the clergy, have sought first the joys of the world, the promises of riches, the allurement of power, the temptation of laxity, and rejected the invitation of Christ to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice.”

  

  The Church of modernity, the “deep church” driven by these satanic agents of chaos, promotes a life of ease, without moral absolutes, without dogmatic principles, without pursuing the life of grace. It promotes “heresy, sodomy, and corruption,” those sins which are borne out of a complete rejection of the call to the Cross, and which flow from a focus on oneself and earthly pleasures.

   

    How then ought the Church to respond, and how is it that faithful souls are to continue in the face of such attack on God, His Church and His Word, even by those who profess to be the guardians of the faith? 

 

   The answer is to follow the teachings of Christ, as exemplified by His saints throughout the ages, and to reject the advances made by the agents of chaos in the name of “dialogue…accompaniment…encounter…growth.” 

    

    After issuing his warning against the serving of two masters, Christ lays out the path which faithful souls are to take: “Therefore I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life a greater thing than the food, and the body than the clothing?”

    

    The world, the modern clerics and even the church of modernity, mocks souls who heed these words of Christ. They ridicule those who choose one Master only. Yet there is only one simple choice which can be made after reading the Scriptural passages: serve God wholeheartedly, or serve oneself and the devil wholeheartedly.

    

    A life given completely to the service of God, the master who sent His only Son to earth to die for our sins, is one which has the support not of fallible men or of lying demons, but of the Almighty, all-good God Himself: “Consider how the lilies of the field grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of those. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which flourishes today but tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more you, O you of little faith! Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or, ‘What shall we drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ - for after all these things the Gentiles seek; - for your Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be given you besides.”

    

    As the satanic forces of the world rage ever more furiously today, many members of the church of modernity redouble their efforts to convince us that it is indeed possible to serve two masters. They urge souls to bow to unlawful, immoral dictates, and to do so out of “charity.” They order people to reject the moral teaching of the Church, to reject the counsel of the saints, and instead to join in the near global promotion of sin, in order that the Church might continue to work, and thus purportedly to lead souls to God. 

    

    Such words must be seen for what they are - lies. Those who attempt to encourage moral depravity, in the supposed hope that “once we are all on board, we can carry on as before,” have chose their master, and it is not the almighty God. These words of course apply principally to those who urge faithful adherence to the current satanic rejection of the Divine order, as seen in the recent global restrictions, and the promotion of connection to abortion through the novel gene-therapy injections, which are promoted by many clergy as a way to “get us back to where we were before, so that we can all come together and worship safely once more.” 

    

    This argument attempts to combine the serving of God and the devil, but can only result in joining the service of one.

    

    Therefore, as persecution grows against those faithful souls who follow the words of Christ, who choose to follow Him ONLY, instead of trying to merge the Catholic faith with selfish, or satanic pursuits, let us take heart from the consoling words of Christ. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which flourishes today but tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more you, O you of little faith! Therefore do not be anxious.” 

    

    He entrusts these words to those that seek to follow Him in a selfless dedication, made in imitation of His sacrifice on the Cross. No matter the raging of the agents of satan, no matter the fury, the persecution which they may enact, their senseless actions can have no victory over that of the Cross. Their evil ways are doomed to failure, their wiles and cunning will lead to no glory, and their service to sin will lead only to death. 

    “The Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Taste and see how good the Lord is.”

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost: Imitate St Paul to effect the reign of Christ the King

  Dom Gueranger writes in his commentary for the twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost, that the Mass has references to the “days of the anti...