Dignare Me Laudare Te, Virgo Sacrata

Thursday, January 29, 2009

St. Francis de Sales on the Most Holy Name of Jesus

Statue of St. Francis de Sales in the parish of the same name in New York City, taken from Catholic Churches of Manhattan

"O my Jesus! fill our hears with the sacred balm of thy Holy Name, that so the sweetness of its fragrance may penetrate our senses, and perfume our every action. But that our hearts may be capable of receiving this sweetness, they must be circumcised: take, therefore, from them whatever could displease thy divine sight. O glorious Name! named by the heavenly Father from all eternity, be thou for ever written on our souls; that as thou, Jesus, art our Saviour, so may our souls be eternally saved. And thou, O Holy Virgin! that was the first among mortals to pronounce this saving Name, teach us to pronounce it as it behoveth us, that so we may merit the Salvation which thou didst bring into this world!"

"My dear Daughter! [St. Jane Frances de Chantal] it was but right that my first letter of this year should be to Jesus and Mary: my second is to you, to wish you a Happy New Year, and exhort you to give your whole heart to God. May we so spend this year, that it may secure to us the years of eternity! My first word on waking this morning was Jesus! and I felt as though I would gladly pour out on the face of the whole earth the oil of this sweet Name."

"As long as balm is shut up in a well-sealed vase, no one knows its sweetness, save him who put it there: but as soon as the vase is opened, and a few drops are sprinkled around, all who are present say: 'What sweet Balm!' Thus it was, my dear Daughter, with our Jesus. He contained within himself the balm of salvation; but no one knew it until [H]is divine Flesh was laid open by the fortunate wound of that cruel knife [at His Circumcision, as St. Francis de Sales was writing around the time of this feast day]; and then people knew [H]im to be the Balm of the world's Salvation, and first Joseph and Mary, then the whole neighbourhood, began to cry out: Jesus! which means Saviour."

-St. Francis de Sales, in a letter to St. Jane Frances de Chantal, as quoted in Dom Prosper Guéranger's entry in The Liturgical Year for the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, in Volume III of the 1983 Marian House edition of the English translation by the Benedictines of Stanbrook. January 29 is the date of his feast day on the traditional sanctoral calendar.

Monday, January 05, 2009

St. John Neumann and the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception

(The following is excerpted from the book "A Bishop, A Saint: The Life of Saint John Neumann," by Father James J, Galvin, CSsR, published by The Neumann Press.)

"...St. Peter's [Basilica] was intensely quiet....Now, except for the sputter of candle-flames high in the arches, the only sound was one human voice reading in the singsong Latin. While Pio Nono [Blessed Pius IX] read, the basilica listened with a rapt excitement, waiting to hear expressed what all Christendom in its heart believed: that the Mother of the Redeemer has, by unique exception, entered time unbesmirched by Original Fault."

"Not since Trent has so many mitres assembled under one roof. Under the great cupola, two hundred members of the hierarchy clustered about Pio Nono. And still they came!...There were more bishops present than had assembled as Ephesus for the Council in the year 431."

"The voice had now trailed off to almost a whisper. Even the little prelate, holding the open book before the Pontiff's gaze, could hardly catch the words. Was Pio Nono so overcome with joy, the book-bearer wondered, that he could read on to the end? But gathering new strength, the feeble voice now rang clear again, reaching the far ends of the great church, soaring up into the very dome."
'We declare, we pronounce, we define that the doctrine that blessed Mary was, in the first instant of her Conception preserved...from all stain of original guilt has been revealed by God and therefore, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful....'
"There. It had been infallibly spoken!"

"...Through one of the round windows high in Michelangelo's dome, a long shaft of sunlight had found the precious mitre, the tear-wet face of the Pope, flooding the ornately lettered document held open by one whose task that morning any cardinal present would gladly have performed. For this, Pio Nono had chosen not the oldest of his bishops, nor even the youngest but --- and who could say why -- the smallest. The five-foot-two Bishop of America's largest see [at that time], [Saint] John Neumann of Philadelphia.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

St. Bernard on the Most Holy Name of Jesus

(The following is a sermon of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, as quoted in Dom Prosper Guéranger's entry in The Liturgical Year for the Feast of the Holy Name, in Volume II of the 1983 Marian House edition of the English translation by the Benedictines of Stanbrook.)

"The Name of Jesus is Light, and Food, and Medicine. It is Light, when it is preached to us; it is Food, when we think upon it; it is the Medicine that soothes our pains when we invoke it. Let us say a word on each of these. Tell me, whence came there, into the whole world, so bright and sudden a light, if not from the preaching of the Name of Jesus? Was it not by the light of this Name that God called us unto [H]is admirable Light? Wherewith being enlightened, and in this light, seeing the Light, we take these words of Paul as truly addressed to ourselves; Heretofore, you were darkness; but now, light in the Lord."

"Nor is the Name of Jesus Light only; it is also Food. Art thou not strengthened, as often as thou thinkest of this Name? What is there that so feeds the mind of him that meditates upon this Name? What is there that so restores the wearied faculties, strengthens virtue, gives vigour to good and holy habits, and fosters chastity? Every food of the soul is dry, that is not steeped in this unction; it is insipid, if it be not seasoned with this salt. If thou write, I relish not thy writing, unless I read there the Name of Jesus. If thou teach me, or converse with me, I relish not thy words, unless I hear thee say the name of Jesus. JESUS is honey to the mouth, and music to the ear, and gladness to the heart."

"It is also Medicine. Is any one among you sad? Let but Jesus come into his heart, and the mouth echo him, saying Jesus! and lo! the light of that Name disperses every cloud, and brings sunshine back again. Have any of you committed sin? and is despair driving you into the snare of death? Invoke the Name of life, and life will come back to the soul. Was there ever a man, that, hearing this saving Name, could keep up that common fault of hardness of heart, or drowsiness of sluggishness, or rancour of soul, or languor of sloth? If any one, perchance, felt that the fountain of his tears was dry, did it not gush forth more plentifully than ever, and flow more sweetly than ever, as soon as he invoked the Name of Jesus? If any of us were ever in danger, and our heart beat with fear, did not this Name of power bring us confidence and courage the moment we pronounced it? When we were tossed to and fro by perplexing doubts, did not the evidence of what was right burst on us as we called upon the Name of light? When we were discouraged, and well nigh crushed, by adversity, did not our heart take courage, when our tongue uttered the Name of help? All this is most true; for all these miseries are the sicknesses and faintings of our soul, and the Name of Jesus is our Medicine."

"But, let us see how all this comes to pass. Call upon me in the day of trouble, says the Lord; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me [Psalm 49: 15]. There is nothing which so restrains the impulse of anger, calms the swelling of pride, heals the wound of envy, represses the insatiability of luxury, smothers the flame of lust, quenches the thirst of avarice, and dispels the fever of uncleanliness -- as the Name of Jesus. For when I pronounce this Name, I bring before my mind the Man, who, by excellence, is meek and humble of heart, benign, sober, chaste, merciful, and filled with everything this is good and holy, nay, who is the very God Almighty -- whose example heals me, and whose assistance strengthens me. I say all this, when I say Jesus. Here have I my model, for [H]e is Man; and my help, for [H]e is God; the one provides me with precious drugs, the other gives them efficacy; and from the two I make potion such as no physician knows how to make."

"Here is the electuary, my soul, hid in the casket of this Name, Jesus; believe me, it is wholesome, and good for every ailment thou canst possibly have. Ever have it with thee, in thy bosom and in thy hand; so that all thy affections and action may be directed to JESUS" [taken from his Fifteenth Sermon on the Canticle of Canticles].