Dignare Me Laudare Te, Virgo Sacrata

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Saint George, Martyr

(The following is excerpted from the 23 April entry in Volume VIII of the 1983 Marian House edition of the English translation of Dom Prosper Guéranger's 'The Liturgical Year' by the Benedictines of Stanbrook.)

"Saint George is usually represented as killing a dragon; and where the representation is complete, there is also given the figure of a princess, whom the Saint thus saves from being devoured by the monster. This favourite subject of both sacred and profane art is purely symbolical, and is of Byzantine origin. It signifies the victory won over the devil, by the martyr's courageous profession of faith; the princess represents [Saint] Alexandra, who who was converted by witnessing the Saint's heroic patience under his sufferings [St. George was beheaded in the Greek city of Nicomedia in A.D. 303]...."

"...[T]he following historical lesson has recently been approved for the Dioceses of England:"

"George, who among the martyrs of the East has received the name of the Great Martyr, suffered a glorious death for the sake of Christ in the persecution of Diocletian. When shortly afterwards peace was given to the Church under Constantine, the memory of [the Martyr] began to be celebrated. Churches were erected to his honour in Palestine and at Constantinople, and devotion to him spread through the East and into the West. From early times, Christian armies have invoked the protection of St. George, together with Saints Maurice and Sebastian, when going into battle. Special devotion was shown to St. George in England for many centuries, and Pope Benedict XIV declared him the special Protector of that kingdom."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

St. Francis de Sales on St. Joseph the Valiant

Tapestry of the Holy Family being visited by the shepherds in Bethlehem,
sacristy of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Catholic Church, Washington, DC.

(The following is excerpted from St. Francis de Sales's Conference XIX, The Virtues of St. Joseph, as cited on page 187 of "Reflection of Saint Francis de Sales on Living Jesus," published by the Fraternity Group of the Association of St. Francis de Sales)

"There is no doubt that St. Joseph was more valiant than David and more wise than Solomon; nevertheless, seeing him so humbly working in his carpenter shop, who would have imagined (unless enlightened supernaturally) that he was endowed by God with such marvelous gifts, so closely and so carefully did he keep them concealed! But what must not his wisdom have been, seeing that God committed to his charge His all-glorious Son and chose him to be His guardian! If earthly princes consider it a matter of such great importance to select carefully a tutor fit for their children, think you that the Eternal God in His almighty power and wisdom would not chose from out of the whole of His creation the most perfect man living to be the guardian of His divine and most glorious Son, the Prince of heaven and earth?"

"There is, then, no doubt all [that] St. Joseph was endowed with all gifts and graces required by the charge which the Eternal Father willed to commit to him, over all the temporal and domestic concerns of Our Lord and the guidance of his family, which was compromised of three persons only, representing to us the mystery of the most holy and adorable Trinity. Not that there is any real comparison in this matter excerpting as regards Our Lord, Who is one of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, for the others were but creatures; yet still we may say that it was a trinity on earth representing in some sort the most holy Trinity --- Mary, Jesus, and Joseph; Joseph, Jesus, and Mary --- a trinity worth indeed to be honored and greatly esteemed."

Monday, December 08, 2014

The Immaculate Conception: Conquerer of Modernism

Detail from the reredos of the Lady Altar at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church, New York City, New York, USA

[The following is excerpted from Pope St. Pius X's 1904 encyclical Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum]

"...What truly is the point of departure of the enemies of religion for the sowing of the great and serious errors by which the faith of so many is shaken? They begin by denying that man has fallen by sin and been cast down from his former position. Hence they regard as mere fables original sin and the evils that were its consequence. Humanity vitiated in its source vitiated in its turn the whole race of man; and thus was evil introduced amongst men and the necessity for a Redeemer involved. All this rejected it is easy to understand that no place is left for Christ, for the Church, for grace or for anything that is above and beyond nature; in one word the whole edifice of faith is shaken from top to bottom. But let people believe and confess that the Virgin Mary has been from the first moment of her conception preserved from all stain; and it is straightway necessary that they should admit both original sin and the rehabilitation of the human race by Jesus Christ, the Gospel, and the Church and the law of suffering. By virtue of this Rationalism and Materialism is torn up by the roots and destroyed, and there remains to Christian wisdom the glory of having to guard and protect the truth. It is moreover a vice common to the enemies of the faith of our time especially that they repudiate and proclaim the necessity of repudiating all respect and obedience for the authority of the Church, and even of any human power, in the idea that it will thus be more easy to make an end of faith. Here we have the origin of Anarchism, than which nothing is more pernicious and pestilent to the order of things whether natural or supernatural. Now this plague, which is equally fatal to society at large and to Christianity, finds its ruin in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by the obligation which it imposes of recognizing in the Church a power before which not only has the will to bow, but the intelligence to subject itself. It is from a subjection of the reason of this sort that Christian people sing thus the praise of the Mother of God: 'Thou art all fair, O Mary, and the stain of original sin is not in thee.' (Mass of the Immaculate Conception) And thus once again is justified what the Church attributes to this august Virgin that she has exterminated all heresies in the world."

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Archangel Michael's Intercession For the Dying and the Faithful Departed

Stained Glass of Holy Archangel Michael, found via Google search

Domine Jesu Christe, Rex gloriæ, libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum de pœnis inferni et de profundo lacu: libera eas de ore leonis, ne absorbeat eas tartarus, ne cadant in obscurum: sed signifer sanctus Michael repræsentet eas in lucem sanctam: quam olim Abrahæ promisisti et semini ejus. Hostias et preces tibi, Domine, laudis offerimus: tu suscipe pro animabus illis, quarum hodie memoriam facimus: fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitam. Quam olim Abrahæ promisisti et semini ejus.

(Translation of the above prayer, which the Offertory prayer from the Requiem Mass of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Catholic liturgy: "O Lord Jesus Christ, King of Glory, deliver the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of hell and from the bottomless pit: deliver them from the lion's mouth, that hell swallow them not up, that they fall not into darkness, but let the standard-bearer holy Michael lead them into that holy light; which Thou dist promise of old to Abraham and to his seed. We offer to Thee, O Lord, sacrifices and prayers: do Thou receive them in behalf of those souls of whom we make memorial this day. Grant them, O Lord, to pass from death to that life, which Thou didst promise of old to Abraham and to his seed.")

[The following is excerpted from the booklet "St. Michael the Archangel," published by TAN Books and Publishers, 2006.]

"Not only during life does the glorious Archangel Michael defend and protect souls, but he is their special advocate and consoler at the hour of death. When the last hour of our earthly career draws near and we are confronted by that awful moment when our soul must leave the body, which it has loved so much, satanic hosts, like ravenous lions, will make a last attack upon us. But we need not fear if during life we have been faithful in venerating St. Michael and imploring his aid for the hour of death. In that hour of supreme need, this invincible Archangel, ever ready to assist the faithful soul, will come to our aid with his hosts and do battle on our behalf. He will cover us with his strong shield and lead us safely through the midst of our enemies."

"And when at length our souls have been freed from their earthly bonds, he will conduct us to the judgment seat of Christ, where he will undertake our defense and implore the forgiveness of our sins. Finally, if we have merited to be numbered among the elect, he will take us beneath his glorious banner and conduct us to the blessed home of light, where all the Angels and elect children of God glory in the eternal praise of their Creator. It is therefore a commendable practice daily to invoke St. Michael to lend his assistance at the critical hour of death. Many are the faithful clients of St. Michael who have experienced his help in that hour...."

"In her beautiful prayers in the Mass for the Dead [the Requiem Mass], the Church with maternal solicitude places the souls of her departed children in the hands of St. Michael, that he may lead them into the kingdom of everlasting light. If St. Michael is so solicitous for the welfare of souls during their lifetime and at the hour of death, we may be certain that he will also befriend them during their stay in Purgatory and will hasten to bring them consolation...."

"'The Prince of the heavenly militia,' says St. Anselm, 'is all-powerful in Purgatory, and he can assist the Poor Souls whom the justice and sanctity of the Almighty retain in this place of punishment.' 'It is incontestably recognized since the foudnation of Christianity,' declares St. Robert Bellarmine, 'that the souls of the Faithful departed are delivered from Purgatory through the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel.' Let us add to these authorities the words of St. Alphonsus Liguori: 'St. Michael has received the care of consoling and helping the souls in Purgatory.'"

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"Cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo" - St. Maximilian Kolbe in Our Lady

Image of the first edition of St. Maximilian Kolbe's "Knight of the Immaculate" periodical, with the Blessed Virgin Mary slaying heresy and Masonry

[The following is excerpted from "Will To Love: Reflections for Daily Living by St. Maximilian Kolbe, 'Prophet of the Civilization of Love,'" published by Marytown Press"]

"'All heresies on the earth, you alone have destroyed.' [from Matins of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary]"

"How is that so? Surely heresies still exist, and here the Church in [Her] prayers to the Blessed Mother speaks of a destruction that is already fulfilled, and what is more, of all heresies."

"When in the course of one battle it was brought back to Napoleon's attention that by surprise an enemy attack had occurred on one front, he replied: 'Good, the enemy has lost.' But the battle was not finished, not even was the victory in sight or evident. However, this ingenious military leader knew that once the enemy had made that attack, there was no longer any hope of his victory."

"Similarly of Our Lady, the Mother of God, we can say: 'You have destroyed all heresies on the earth.' What beautiful words."

"Heresies--and not heretics. The latter she loves, their conversion she desires. Out of love for them she frees them of heresy, and destroys in them the errors of viewpoint and conviction."

"She destroyed the heresies, not simply rendered them immobile or weakened or lessened, but completely removed them, so that there is no longer any trace of them."

"How? By destroying all, she has made no exception to evil. And where? On all the earth. Not in one or another country, but everywhere on earth. And this you have done alone."

Saturday, June 07, 2014

A Franciscan's First-Hand Account of Naziism's Anti-Catholicism

[The following is excerpted from the "Priestlings" chapter of The Shadow of His Wings: The True Story of Fr. Gereon Goldmann, OFM, published by Ignatius Press.]

"...[I] returned to finish off my three-month training period [for the Waffen SS], the last three days of which were being conducted by Reichsfuhrer [Heinrich] Himmler himself. The day of demonstration maneuvers was a bitter one; snow blew from the mountaintop, and one of our units became lost there. At last, a command was given to them that saved them all, and during review of the unit at the close of the maneuvers, Himmler commanded that the officer leading it step forward. No one moved....Finally, a soldier whom I knew well stepped forth. He was our Franciscan brother Roger Ricker. We were all amazed, and Himmler asked him, 'Did you give the order?'

"'Yes, Herr Reichsfuhrer.'"

"'But who gave you, a mere soldier, permission to take over the command?'"

"'Sir, our leader was incapacitated. In our instructions, we have been told repeatedly that, in case of necessity, anyone has the duty to give a saving command.'"

"Himmler exclaimed, 'Bravo. Here is a soldier who knows his duty. You are worthy to be an officer in the SS. I will send you at once to a school for officers.'"

"Roger's clear reply rang out in the stillness, 'Sir, that is no longer possible; I have already been at officers' school.'"

"No one understood his answer, and, when he was asked what he meant, he said loudly and firmly, 'I attended the officers' school of the greatest and best-known army in the world---the army of Jesus Christ in the Order of St. Francis. I am in training to be a priest!'....Himmler talked briefly to those close to him and then said, 'You are free to serve your God. There is no religious coercion here. But you must have observed already that whoever is among us undergoes...a change, and that without force.' I laughed."

"He looked at me and said, 'Why do you laugh?' I blurted out, 'We shall see who changes whom."

"The others stared at Himmler: What would he say now? But he merely looked at us and said, with satisfaction, to his companions, 'These fellows are all right; we need them.' To us, he said, 'You are free to go.' And go we did, with this assurance from him who frightened everyone that we were free to fulfill our religious obligations."

"There was a sequel to this incident. The next morning, one of the higher officers received a communication from headquarters that had been passed on from the highest source. In it, we learned that the final goal of the war was to free not only Germany and Europe but the whole world from two adversaries---the Communists and the Christians. The more dangerous, they said, was the Church, which for two thousand years had enslaved mankind with its religion of hypocrisy and false love. 'Until the last priest hangs on the gallows, the final victory has not been won!' the communique said."

"'Yesterday, we were assured religious freedom from one of the highest sources; what we now hear is just the opposite!' I cried.

"The officer sneeringly replied, 'Yes, indeed. Religious freedom, but all means---as long as the war lasts. Nothing has been said, though, about what happens after the war is ended!'"

"I have an unfortunate tendency to put my foot into it, so I could not refrain from asking, 'Sir, what will happen when we are again in our monasteries?'"

"'If one of my men should dare to enter again into those nests of stupidity, I would personally tie him to the nearest tree for flogging!'"...

"When the officer sharply inquired if I doubted the final outcome, I answered, 'I know only this, sir: that whatever transpires, the will of God will prevail. Only that which is right before [Him], and in keeping with [His] Divine plan, will conquer. This has been proved a thousand thousand times in the history of the Church and surely will not now be changed."

Friday, April 11, 2014

St. Gemma Galgani's Adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament

Painting of St. Gemma Galgani, taken from St. Gemma Galgani blog

[The following is excerpted from Chapter 25 of The Life of St. Gemma Galgani, by Venerable Fr. Germanus, C.P., her spiritual director, published by TAN Books. St. Gemma Galgani passed from her earthly life into her eternal reward in Heaven on 11 April 1903, which was Holy Saturday.]

"...[H]ere...I have to relate great things, things so singular as to lead us to believe that God, by a special providence, raised up this child of Heaven [St. Gemma] at a time of so much falling away in piety as an example and stimulus to Christians to venerate and love the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. The Blessed Eucharist is by excellence the Mystery of Faith – Mysterium Fidei."

"...She was humble and simple as a little child, and Our Lord has said that to such souls He manifests the hidden things of His wisdom and goodness. Thus then...with the vivid light that faith infused into her during her sublime contemplations, she was able to see clearly into this Sacrament and to measure the width and the depth of Its mysteries....turning to the altar in thought, she at once beheld Our Lord exposed thereon, felt Him present with her, and with her whole being and almost, I must say, with all her bodily senses, she rejoiced in the presence of that sweet Majesty."

"...It would be impossible to give all of Gemma's inspired words regarding this mystery in this biography. But I cannot withhold from my readers a selection of edifying extracts that I have collected from her thoughts, as expressed in writing, her sayings to others, and the outpourings of her soul while in ecstasy. I begin with her ideas of the Blessed Eucharist."

[Emphasis mine]"...Let me speak of Holy Communion; I cannot contain myself. Is it possible that there are souls who do not understand what the Blessed Eucharist is? Who are insensible to the Divine Presence, to the mysterious ardent effusions of the Sacred Heart of my Jesus? O Heart of Jesus! Heart of Love!"
"...In an ecstasy, speaking with her God, she was heard to express her happiness and thankfulness as follows: 'I know that Thou hast not given me temporal and passing riches, but Thou hast given me the true wealth that is the nourishment of the Eucharistic Word. What would become of me if I did not dedicate all my affections to the Sacred Host? Oh, yes, I know it, Lord; that in order to make me deserve a paradise in Heaven, Thou givest me Communion here on earth!'...."

"Although this blessed child was always deep in thought and always found herself in spirit before the sacred Tabernacle, yet she was not fully satisfied unless she could go to church and there adore her hidden God. In order to avoid singularity, which she detested, she contented herself with going to the church only twice a day: in the morning when she went to hear Mass and receive Holy Communion, and in the evening for the public Adoration. 'I am going to Jesus,' she used to say, 'let us go to Jesus. He is all alone and no one thinks of Him. Poor Jesus!'"

..."'Oh, what immense happiness and joy,' she has said, 'my heart feels before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament! And if Jesus would allow me to enter sacred Tabernacle where He, Soul, Body, Blood, and Divinity is present, should I not be in Paradise?...Soul of my soul, my Paradise, Holy Victim, behold me all Thine. I felt that Thou wert seeking me and I ran.'..."

Thanking Our Lord for the victories gained over the enemy, she was once heard to say:

"This morning Thou hast conquered, O Jesus. After I received Thee I began to think of the hard-fought battles in which with Thy help I conquered the devil. Oh, I counted many such victories. [Emphasis mine] Who knows how many times without Thy aid my faith, hope, and charity would have failed me? My understanding would have been darkened if Thou, Eternal Sun, hadst not enlightened it. And my love, how many times would it not have grown weak if Thou hadst not come to strengthen it with Thy Presence? But Thou with Thy fire didst inflame it. I know it; all was the work of Thy Love; all were victories of this, Thine Infinite Love. And now, O Lord, ought not I to be grateful?"
"...We read in the lives of different Saints that, as sometimes they were unable to go to church for Holy Communion, God made use of an angel, who, to satisfy their hunger for the Blessed Eucharist, acted instead of the priest and took the consecrated species to them. It appears that Our Savior Himself willed to take this great gift to Gemma, and that happened quite three times. Here is how it was told us by one who was an eye-witness:"

Depiction of St. Gemma Galgani in ecstasy, as she receives the marks of Our Lord's Passion.
Taken from St. Gemma Pictures and Photographs 2

"On the morning of the Friday on which dear Gemma for the first time underwent the cruel punishment of the Scourging [St. Gemma not only received the five wounds of the stigmata regularly during the latter part of her life, but also received the marks of Jesus' Scourging and His Crown of Thorns], on seeing her horribly lacerated all over, I forbade her to get up. The poor child obeyed, and collecting her thoughts, she set to prepare herself for a spiritual Communion, for which she used to make her preparation in the same way as for her sacramental Communion in the church. She went into ecstasy, and at a given moment I saw her join her hands and return to herself, while her eyes sparkled and her face suddenly lit up as usually happened when she had some extraordinary vision. [Emphasis mine]At the same moment she put out her tongue and soon withdrew it, returning into ecstasy to make her usual thanksgiving. The same thing happened on the following Friday, and we believe it happened at other times as well, but I was not then a witness. I learned from Gemma herself, who quite candidly told me of it, that it was Jesus and not and Angel who came to communicate her."
"...We have seen that this Sacrament of Love was Gemma's Heaven. Jesus on the Altar was everything to her. She lived in this ravishing Mystery, and found in It all her happiness....What has been related in this chapter goes far to show how wonderfully God manifests Himself to faithful souls in the Divine Eucharist."