Thursday, October 29, 2009

A discourse "Against the Arians" by St Athanasius


Wisdom's likeness and image is created in God's works
An impress of Wisdom has been created in us and in all his works. Therefore, the true Wisdom which shaped the world claims for himself all that bears his image, and rightly says: The Lord created me in his works. These words are really spoken by the wisdom that is in us, but the Lord himself here adopts them as his own.
Wisdom himself is not created, because he is the Creator, but by reason of the created image of himself found in his works, he speaks thus as though he were speaking of himself. Our Lord said: He who receives you receives me, and he could say this because the impress of himself is in us. In the same way, although Wisdom is not to be numbered among created things, yet because his form and likeness are in his works, he speaks as if he were a creature, and he says: The Lord created me in his works, when his purpose first unfolded.
The likeness of Wisdom has been stamped upon creatures in order that the world may recognise in it the Word who was its maker and through the Word come to know the Father. This is Paul’s teaching: What can be known about God is clear to them, for God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature has been there for the mind to perceive in things that have been made. Accordingly the Word is not a creature, for the passage that begins: The Lord created me is to be understood as referring to that wisdom which is truly in us and is said to be so.
But if this fails to persuade our opponents, let them tell us whether there is any wisdom in created things. If there is none, why does the apostle Paul allege as the cause of men’s sins: By God’s wisdom, the world failed to come to a knowledge of God through wisdom? And if there is no created wisdom, how is it that the expression a multitude of wise men is found in Scripture? And again, Scripture testifies that the wise man is wary and turns away from evil, and by wisdom is a house built.
Further, Ecclesiastes says: A wise man’s wisdom will light up his face. He also rebukes presumptuous persons with the warning: Do not say, “How is it that former days were better than these?” For it is not in wisdom that you ask this.
So there is a wisdom in created things, as the son of Sirach too bears witness: The Lord has poured it out upon all his works, to be with men as his gift, and with wisdom he has abundantly equipped those who love him. This quality of being “poured out” belongs not to the essence of that self-existent Wisdom who is the Only-Begotten, but to that wisdom which reflects the only-begotten one in the world. Why then is it beyond belief if the creative and archetypal Wisdom, whose likeness is the wisdom and understanding poured out in the world, should say, as though speaking directly of himself: The Lord created me in his works? For the wisdom in the world is not creative, but is itself created in God’s works, and in the light of this wisdom the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A hermits plea!!!



Two days ago I attended the funeral of Adama. Adama was a beautiful 5 year old boy and the remaining twin of another lad who died last year. Both children had malaria. I do not actively treat children less than 4 years of age but I do send the sick infants overto the local health center and pay for their being seen and medicines. Each child can be seen and cared for $1.00 (in local currency)Normally I put down enough money to care for 20 children and then when I send a referral to the health center the nurses deduct that visit from my balance. Of course this is the high end of the malaria season(actually it lasts all year but this is the worst time). If I don’thave enough money in the Clinic’s account they will generally let me run a tab for a few more patients but then they stop until that is paid up. These two children, both last year and this year, were not brought to me for help so I was unaware of the problem. Sometimes parents wait until they see the child is not going to get better and by then, it is too late.The folks in this area, where the Hermitage is located, are very poor and barely have enough food to feed their families let alone any money to pay for medical treatment. I have been using a portion of my SS money to cover the clinic costs plus part of your donations as well but it leaves me short when I need to buy anti malarial tablets (the curative dose) for the grown ups. Just this week alone I have givenout 10 doses of the Anti Malarial meds and have only two remaining doses left. Obviously the reason for telling you this is to ask your help again intaking care of the folks in this village.When God called me to come here as a hermit I did so willingly and when He showed me what work I would engage in (caring for the sickpoor) I did so willingly. When I realized I would have to become a beggar to keep medicine and supplies up I said OK, but I want to let you know begging is extremely hard for me and I am totally embarrassed to have to keep asking for help. I’m sure the Lord knows this and is using it to teach me a bit of humility but my pride always tries to get the better of me. I have tried writing this begging letter for a couple weeks but pride kept me from finishing it) You probably think that I don’t mind asking for help but I really do. I would have preferred to take care of it all on my own. But I also see that each of you have an active part in this caring for the sick poor. I am justthe 'hands on person'……you are the real supporters of these folks.Without your help I would be unable to keep this work going. This is the 'service' that Christ called everone to...all our brothers andsisters. "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me......" Right now I have reached a low point for all my medicines (Ibuprofen,Naproxen, Acetaminophen [Tylenol], Allergy eye drops, Alka Seltzer, Ranitidine, Povidine antiseptic and things of that sort)and right now I have only a few roller gauze bandages, 2 rolls of paper tape, steristrips and similar medical supplies like them left in my supplies.Paper tape is not sold here but it holds better than adhesive or anyother type of tape. I need more antibiotics, arthritic and joint pain cream, Neosporin cream (not ointment). If any of you feel like sending a care package of Ibuprofen, Naproxen,Tylenol or any over the counter meds they would be received with gratefulness. If you prefer to send a cash donation in any amount you can write a check to me; Brother Dismas

And send it to"


Brother Dismas

C/O Mr. Robert Shrigley

8 Poco Lane

Santa Fe, New Mexico 87507


Bob will deposit your donation into my account and notify me viae-mail…..and I can then cash a check into local currency here and purchase medicines that are needed. Recently I discovered I can purchase Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen at a lower price than the US, as well as antibiotics and antimalarials here at a very reliable wholesale pharmacy. The other items are not available here or are too costly. I have put a list of medical items in my wish list on Amazon but I know they can be found at a lower price elsewhere in the states. Just to get an idea of what I need, you can view the list at:


I guess I have said enough and I beg your forgiveness if anyone feels put out by my plea. I had never done this until I came to Gambia as a hermit and perhaps I am going about it incorrectly but this is all I can figure out to do. I would like to write to each of you individually but that task would take more time than I have.Please, don’t just delete this but take a few minutes to think itover. Ask the Lord what He would have you do and then DO IT!!!! Manyof you have been sending things for a long time and I thank you in the name of the Lord and in the name of my brothers and sisters in Tanje.They are all aware of your kindness and each one tells me they pray for you.This is a real opportunity to be of service to folks you don’t know but folks, nevertheless, who are your brothers and sisters too. I pray God will bless you continually and fill you with HIS peace..

For all mail or parcels, please send to:

Brother dismas (Nazareth Hermitage)

Catholic Mission

PO Box 165

Banjul, The Gambia

West Africa

St Clement's letter to the Corinthians

Let us not be fugitives from the will of God
My dear friends, take care to do good and virtuous deeds in unity before him, and be citizens worthy of him; or his many good works towards us may become a judgement on us all. For, as he says somewhere, The spirit of the Lord is a lamp searching the inward parts.
Let us observe how near he is, and that nothing escapes him: not the thoughts we think, not the arguments we construct. It is right, therefore, that we should not be deserters from his will. Let us offend foolish and thoughtless men, men who puff themselves up and boast in the pride of their words, rather than offending God.
Let us reverence the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood was given for us. Let us respect those who rule us; let us honour the aged; let us instruct the young in the fear of God.
Let us lead our wives to what is good: let them exhibit the lovely habit of purity, let them show forth the innocent will of meekness, let them make the gentleness of their tongue manifest by their silence, let them give their affection without favouritism but in holiness equally to all who fear God.
Let our children share in the instruction which is in Christ, let them learn the strength of humility before God, the power of pure love before God, how beautiful and great is his fear and how it gives salvation to all who live holily in it with a pure mind. For he is a searcher of thoughts and desires; his breath is in us, and he chooses when to take it away from us.
Now the faith which is in Christ confirms all these things, for he himself through his Holy Spirit calls us: Come, Children, hearken to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man that desires life, that loves to see good days? Make your tongue cease from evil, make your lips speak no guile. Depart from evil, and do good. Seek peace, and pursue it.
The all-merciful and beneficent Father has compassion on those that fear him, and kindly and lovingly bestows his favours on those that draw near to him with a sincere intention. So let us not be in two minds, and let us have no doubts about his excellent and glorious gifts

Friday, October 23, 2009

Miserere......................


Today's first Psalm from the Morning Office(Matins) is Psalm 5l (or 50 in more recent translations). It is the only psalm that remains constant in the Divine Office and is always said on Friday. This Psalm was one that St. Francis of Assisi most loved. Perhaps that is one reason I love it so much but I think it goes much deeper than that for it reflects the deepest part of my own being.








Psalm 50 (51)
God, have mercy on me



Take pity on me, Lord, in your mercy;
in your abundance of mercy wipe out my guilt.
Wash me ever more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know how guilty I am:
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone have I sinned,
and I have done evil in your sight.
Know this, so that you may give just sentence
and an unbiased judgement.
See, I was conceived in guilt,
in sin my mother conceived me;
but you love truth in the heart,
and deep within me you have shown me your wisdom.
You will sprinkle me with hyssop, and I will be made clean;
you will wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
You will make me hear the sound of joy and gladness;
the bones you have crushed will rejoice.
Turn your face away from my sins
and wipe out all my transgressions;
create a pure heart in me, God,
put a steadfast spirit into me.
Do not send me away from your presence,
or withdraw your holy spirit from me;
give me again the joy of your salvation,
and be ready to strengthen me with your spirit.
I will teach the unjust your ways,
and the impious will return to you.
Free me from the guilt of bloodshed, God, God my saviour,
and my voice will glory in your justice.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will proclaim your praise;
for you do not delight in sacrifices:
if I offered you a burnt offering, it would not please you.
The true sacrifice is a broken spirit:
a contrite and humble heart, O God, you will not refuse.
Be pleased, Lord, to look kindly on Zion,
so that the walls of Jerusalem can be rebuilt,
Then indeed you will accept the proper sacrifices, gifts and burnt offerings;
then indeed will bullocks be laid upon your altar.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Todays Gospel and a continuation of St. Agustines letter to Proba on the "Our Father"



Luke 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house. You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’
Peter said, ‘Lord, do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone?’ The Lord replied, ‘What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you truly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the servant who says to himself, “My master is taking his time coming,” and sets about beating the menservants and the maids, and eating and drinking and getting drunk, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.
The servant who knows what his master wants, but has not even started to carry out those wishes, will receive very many strokes of the lash. The one who did not know, but deserves to be beaten for what he has done, will receive fewer strokes. When a man has had a great deal given him, a great deal will be demanded of him; when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him.’

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You will find no prayer that is not already contained in the Lord's Prayer
Here are some examples.
When one prays: Be glorified among all nations as thou art glorified among us, and Let your prophets be proved true, what else is one asking than Hallowed be thy name?
When the psalmist says: Bring us back, O God of hosts, let your face shine on us and we shall be saved what else is he saying than Thy kingdom come?
When he says: Direct my steps according to your word, so that iniquity has no dominion over me what else is he saying than Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?
When the book of Proverbs it is said: give me neither poverty nor riches, grant me only my share of food what else is this than Give us this day our daily bread?
When the psalmist says Lord, remember David and how he served you or O Lord, if I have done this, if there is iniquity in my hands, if I have rewarded with evil those that did evil to me what else is this than Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?
When he says: Deliver me from my enemies, O my God, and defend me from those that rise up against me what else is this than Deliver us from evil?
And if you go over all the words of holy prayers, I think you will find nothing which cannot be comprised and summed up in the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. So when we pray we are free to use different words to any extent, but we must ask the same things: in this we have no choice.
It is our duty to ask these things without hesitation for ourselves and for our friends, for strangers and even for our enemies; although of course our emotions may differ according to the persons being prayed for and their closeness or their distance from us.
Now you have the answers to two questions: what sort of person you should be when you pray, and what sort of things you should pray for. These answers have not come from my teaching but from the teaching of him who has condescended to teach us all.
We must seek a blessed life and we must ask God to grant it to us. What a blessed life might mean is something that many people have had many arguments about; but why should we go to many people or listen to many arguments? God’s own Scriptures have summed it up exactly: Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord. How are we to be part of that people, to look on God and live with him for ever? As St Paul says, The only purpose of this instruction is that there should be love coming out of a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a sincere faith.
For “a clear conscience” we may read “hope.” Faith, hope, and charity, therefore, lead to God the man who prays, the man, that is, believes, hopes, and desires, and is guided as to what he should ask from the Lord by studying the Lord’s Prayer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Second Reading from the Office of Readings

A letter to Proba by St Augustine
On the Lord's Prayer
We need to use words so that we may remind ourselves to consider carefully what we are asking, not so that we may think we can instruct the Lord or prevail on him.
Thus, when we say: Hallowed be your name, we are reminding ourselves to desire that his name, which in fact is always holy, should also be considered holy among men. I mean that it should not be held in contempt. But this is a help for men, not for God.
And as for our saying: Your kingdom come, it will surely come whether we will it or not. But we are stirring up our desires for the kingdom so that it can come to us and we can deserve to reign there.
When we say: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are asking him to make us obedient so that his will may be done in us as it is done in heaven by his angels.
When we say: Give us this day our daily bread, in saying this day we mean “in this world.” Here we ask for a sufficiency by specifying the most important part of it; that is, we use the word “bread” to stand for everything. Or else we are asking for the sacrament of the faithful, which is necessary in this world, not to gain temporal happiness but to gain the happiness that is everlasting.
When we say: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, we are reminding ourselves of what we must ask and what we must do in order to be worthy in turn to receive.
When we say: Lead us not into temptation, we are reminding ourselves to ask that his help may not depart from us; otherwise we could be seduced and consent to some temptation, or despair and yield to it.
When we say: Deliver us from evil, we are reminding ourselves to reflect on the fact that we do not yet enjoy the state of blessedness in which we shall suffer no evil. This is the final petition contained in the Lord’s Prayer, and it has a wide application. In this petition the Christian can utter his cries of sorrow, in it he can shed his tears, and through it he can begin, continue and conclude his prayer, whatever the distress in which he finds himself. Yes, it was very appropriate that all these truths should be entrusted to us to remember in these very words.
Whatever be the other words we may prefer to say (words which the one praying chooses so that his disposition may become clearer to himself or which he simply adopts so that his disposition may be intensified), we say nothing that is not contained in the Lord’s Prayer, provided of course we are praying in a correct and proper way. But if anyone says something which is incompatible with this prayer of the Gospel, he is praying in the flesh, even if he is not praying sinfully. And yet I do not know how this could be termed anything but sinful, since those who are born again through the Spirit ought to pray only in the Spirit.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Feasts of St. Peter of Alcantara and St. Isaac Jogues and the North American MArtyrs

Please note that the second reading from the Office of readings after these bio's of the saints of the day.





St. Isaac Jogues and the North American Martyrs



Isaac Jogues was a French missionary, born at Orléans, France, 10 January, 1607; martyred at Ossernenon, in the present State of New York, 18 October, 1646. He was the first Catholic priest who ever came to Manhattan Island (New York). He entered the Society of Jesus in 1624 and, after having been professor of literature at Rouen, was sent as a missionary to Canada in 1636. He came out with Montmagny, the immediate successor of Champlain. From Quebec he went to the regions around the great lakes where the illustrious Father de Brébeuf and others were labouring. There he spent six years in constant danger. Though a daring missionary, his character was of the most practical nature, his purpose always being to fix his people in permanent habitations. He was with Garnier among the Petuns, and he and Raymbault penetrated as far as Sault Ste Marie, and "were the first missionaries", says Bancroft (VII, 790, London, 1853), "to preach the gospel a thousand miles in the interior, five years before John Eliot addressed the Indians six miles from Boston Harbour". There is little doubt that they were not only the first apostles but also the first white men to reach this outlet of Lake Superior. No documentary proof is adduced by the best-known historians that Nicholet, the discoverer of Lake Michigan, ever visited the Sault. Jogues proposed not only to convert the Indians of Lake Superior, but the Sioux who lived at the head waters of the Mississippi.
His plan was thwarted by his capture near
Three Rivers returning from Quebec. He was taken prisoner on 3 August, 1642, and after being cruelly tortured was carried to the Indian village of Ossernenon, now Auriesville, on the Mohawk, about forty miles above the present city of Albany. There he remained for thirteen months in slavery, suffering apparently beyond the power of natural endurance. The Dutch Calvinists at Fort Orange (Albany) made constant efforts to free him, and at last, when he was about to be burnt to death, induced him to take refuge in a sailing vessel which carried him to New Amsterdam (New York). His description of the colony as it was at that time has since been incorporated in the Documentary History of the State. From New York he was sent; in mid-winter, across the ocean on a lugger of only fifty tons burden and after a voyage of two months, landed Christmas morning, 1643, on the coast of Brittany, in a state of absolute destitution. Thence he found his way to the nearest college of the Society. He was received with great honour at the court of the Queen Regent, the mother of Louis XIV, and was allowed by Pope Urban VII the very exceptional privilege of celebrating Mass, which the mutilated condition of his hands had made canonically impossible; several of his fingers having been eaten or burned off. He was called a martyr of Christ by the pontiff. No similar concession, up to that, is known to have been granted.
In early spring of 1644 he returned to
Canada, and in 1646 was sent to negotiate peace with the Iroquois. He followed the same route over which he had been carried as a captive. It was on this occasion that he gave the name of Lake of the Blessed Sacrament to the body of water called by the Indians Horicon, now known as Lake George. He reached Ossernenon on 5 June, after a three weeks' journey from the St. Lawrence. He was well received by his former captors and the treaty of peace was made. He started for Quebec on 16 June and arrived there 3 July. He immediately asked to be sent back to the Iroquois as a missionary, but only after much hesitation his superiors acceded to his request. On 27 September he began his third and last journey to the Mohawk. In the interim sickness had broken out in the tribe and a blight had fallen on the crops. This double calamity was ascribed to Jogues whom the Indians always regarded as a sorcerer. They were determined to wreak vengence on him for the spell he had cast on the place, and warriors were sent out to capture him. The news of this change of sentiment spread rapidly, and though fully aware of the danger Jogues continued on his way to Ossernenon, though all the Hurons and others who were with him fled except Lalande. The Iroquois met him near Lake George, stripped him naked, slashed him with their knives, beat him and then led him to the village. On 18 October, 1646, when entering a cabin he was struck with a tomahawk and afterwards decapitated. The head was fixed on the Palisades and the body thrown into the Mohawk.
St. Peter of Alcantara
Born at Alcántara, Spain, 1499; died 18 Oct., 1562. His father, Peter Garavita, was the governor of the place, and his mother was of the noble family of Sanabia. After a course of grammar and philosophy in his native town, he was sent, at the age of fourteen, to the University of Salamanca. Returning home, he became a Franciscan in the convent of the Stricter Observance at Manxaretes in 1515. At the age of twenty-two he was sent to found a new community of the Stricter Observance at Badajoz. He was ordained priest in 1524, and the following year made guardian of the convent of St. Mary of the Angels at Robredillo. A few years later he began preaching with much success. He preferred to preach to the poor; and his sermons, taken largely from the Prophets and Sapiential Books, breathe the tenderest human sympathy. The reform of the "Discalced Friars" had, at the time when Peter entered the order, besides the convents in Spain, the Custody of Sta. Maria Pietatis in Portugal, subject to the General of the Observants.
Having been elected minister of St. Gabriel's province in 1538, Peter set to work at once. At the chapter of
Plasencia in 1540 he drew up the Constitutions of the Stricter Observants, but his severe ideas met with such opposition that he renounced the office of provincial and retired with John of Avila into the mountains of Arabida, Portugal, where he joined Father Martin a Santa Maria in his life of eremitical solitude. Soon, however, other friars came to join him, and several little communities were established. Peter being chosen guardian and master of novices at the convent of Pallais. In 1560 these communities were erected into the Province of Arabida. Returning to Spain in 1553 he spent two more years in solitude, and then journeyed barefoot to Rome, and obtained permission of Julius III to found some poor convents in Spain under the jurisdiction of the general of the Conventuals. Convents were established at Pedrosa, Plasencia, and elsewhere; in 1556 they were made a commissariat, with Peter as superior, and in 1561, a province under the title of St. Joseph. Not discouraged by the opposition and ill-success his efforts at reform had met with in St. Gabriel's province, Peter drew up the constitutions of the new province with even greater severity. The reform spread rapidly into other provinces of Spain and Portugal.
In 1562 the province of St. Joseph was put under the
jurisdiction of the general of the Observants, and two new custodies were formed: St. John Baptist's in Valencia, and St. Simon's in Galicia (see Friars Minor). Besides the above-named associates of Peter may be mentioned St. Francis Borgia, John of Avila, and Ven. Louis of Granada. In St. Teresa, Peter perceived a soul chosen of God for a great work, and her success in the reform of Carmel was in great measure due to his counsel, encouragement, and defence. (See Carmelites.) It was a letter from St. Peter (14 April, 1562) that encouraged her to found her first monastery at Avila, 24 Aug. of that year. St. Teresa's autobiography is the source of much of our information regarding Peter's life, work, and gifts of miracles and prophecy.
Perhaps the most remarkable of Peter's
graces were his gift of contemplation and the virtue of penance. Hardly less remarkable was his love of God, which was at times so ardent as to cause him, as it did St. Philip Neri, sensible pain, and frequently rapt him into ecstasy. The poverty he practised and enforced was as cheerful as it was real, and often let the want of even the necessaries of life be felt. In confirmation of his virtues and mission of reformation God worked numerous miracles through his intercession and by his very presence. He was beatified by Gregory XV in 1622, and canonized by Clement IX in 1669. Besides the Constitutions of the Stricter Observants and many letters on spiritual subjects, especially to St. Teresa, he composed a short treatise on prayer, which has been translated into all the languages of Europe. His feast is 19 Oct.







A letter to Proba by St Augustine
Let us turn our mind to the task of prayer at appointed hours
Let us always desire the happy life from the Lord God and always pray for it. But for this very reason we turn our mind to the task of prayer at appointed hours, since that desire grows lukewarm, so to speak, from our involvement in other concerns and occupations. We remind ourselves through the words of prayer to focus our attention on the object of our desire; otherwise, the desire that began to grow lukewarm may grow chill altogether and may be totally extinguished unless it is repeatedly stirred into flame.
Therefore, when the Apostle says: Let your petitions become known before God, this should not be taken in the sense that they are in fact becoming known to God who certainly knew them even before they were made, but that they are becoming known to us before God through submission and not before men through boasting.
Since this is the case, it is not wrong or useless to pray even for a long time when there is the opportunity. I mean when it does not keep us from performing the other good and necessary actions we are obliged to do. But even in these actions, as I have said, we must always pray with that desire. To pray for a longer time is not the same as to pray by multiplying words, as some people suppose. Lengthy talk is one thing, a prayerful disposition which lasts a long time is another. For it is even written in reference to the Lord himself that he spent the night in prayer and that he prayed at great length. Was he not giving us an example by this? In time, he prays when it is appropriate, and in eternity, he hears our prayers with the Father.
The monks in Egypt are said to offer frequent prayers, but these are very short and hurled like swift javelins. Otherwise their watchful attention, a very necessary quality for anyone at prayer, could be dulled and could disappear through protracted delays. They also clearly demonstrate through this practice that a person must not quickly divert such attention if it lasts, just as one must not allow it to be blunted if it cannot last.
Excessive talking should be kept out of prayer but that does not mean that one should not spend much time in prayer so long as a fervent attitude continues to accompany his prayer. To talk at length in prayer is to perform a necessary action with an excess of words. To spend much time in prayer is to knock with a persistent and holy fervour at the door of the one whom we beseech. This task is generally accomplished more through sighs than words, more through weeping than speech. He places our tears in his sight, and our sighs are not hidden from him, for he has established all things through his Word and does not seek human words.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Memorial day for St. Margararet Mary Alacoque and St. Gerard Majella

Below the bio's of these two saints is the second reading from the office of readings


St. Margaret Mary


was Religious of the Visitation Order. Apostle of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, born at Lhautecour, France, 22 July, 1647; died at Paray-le-Monial, 17 October, 1690.
Her
parents, Claude Alacoque and Philiberte Lamyn, were distinguished less for temporal possessions than for their virtue, which gave them an honourable position. From early childhood Margaret showed intense love for the Blessed Sacrament, and preferred silence and prayer to childish amusements. After her first communion at the age of nine, she practised in secret severe corporal mortifications, until paralysis confined her to bed for four years. At the end of this period, having made a vow to the Blessed Virgin to consecrate herself to religious life, she was instantly restored to perfect health. The death of her father and the injustice of a relative plunged the family in poverty and humiliation, after which more than ever Margaret found consolation in the Blessed Sacrament, and Christ made her sensible of His presence and protection. He usually appeared to her as the Crucified or the Ecce Homo, and this did not surprise her, as she thought others had the same Divine assistance. When Margaret was seventeen, the family property was recovered, and her mother besought her to establish herself in the world. Her filial tenderness made her believe that the vow of childhood was not binding, and that she could serve God at home by penance and charity to the poor. Then, still bleeding from her self-imposed austerities, she began to take part in the pleasures of the world. One night upon her return from a ball, she had a vision of Christ as He was during the scourging, reproaching her for infidelity after He had given her so many proofs of His love. During her entire life Margaret mourned over two faults committed at this time--the wearing of some superfluous ornaments and a mask at the carnival to please her brothers.
On 25 May, 1671, she entered the
Visitation Convent at Paray, where she was subjected to many trials to prove her vocation, and in November, 1672, pronounced her final vows. She had a delicate constitution, but was gifted with intelligence and good judgement, and in the cloister she chose for herself what was most repugnant to her nature, making her life one of inconceivable sufferings, which were often relieved or instantly cured by our Lord, Who acted as her Director, appeared to her frequently and conversed with her, confiding to her the mission to establish the devotion to His Sacred Heart. These extraordinary occurrences drew upon her the adverse criticism of the community, who treated her as a visionary, and her superior commanded her to live the common life. But her obedience, her humility, and invariable charity towards those who persecuted her, finally prevailed, and her mission, accomplished in the crucible of suffering, was recognized even by those who had shown her the most bitter opposition.
Margaret Mary was inspired by
Christ to establish the Holy Hour and to pray lying prostrate with her face to the ground from eleven till midnight on the eve of the first Friday of each month, to share in the mortal sadness He endured when abandoned by His Apostles in His Agony, and to receive holy Communion on the first Friday of every month. In the first great revelation, He made known to her His ardent desire to be loved by men and His design of manifesting His Heart with all Its treasures of love and mercy, of sanctification and salvation. He appointed the Friday after the octave of the feast of Corpus Christi as the feast of the Sacred Heart; He called her "the Beloved Disciple of the Sacred Heart", and the heiress of all Its treasures. The love of the Sacred Heart was the fire which consumed her, and devotion to the Sacred Heart is the refrain of all her writings. In her last illness she refused all alleviation, repeating frequently: "What have I in heaven and what do I desire on earth, but Thee alone, O my God", and died pronouncing the Holy Name of Jesus.
The discussion of the mission and
virtues of Margaret Mary continued for years. All her actions, her revelations, her spiritual maxims, her teachings regarding the devotion to the Sacred Heart, of which she was the chief exponent as well as the apostle, were subjected to the most severe and minute examination, and finally the Sacred Congregation of rites passed a favourable vote on the heroic virtues of this servant of God. In March, 1824, Leo XII pronounced her Venerable, and on 18 September, 1864, Pius IX declared her Blessed. When her tomb was canonically opened in July, 1830, two instantaneous cures took place. Her body rests under the altar in the chapel at Paray, and many striking favours have been obtained by pilgrims attracted thither from all parts of the world. Her feast is celebrated on 17 October.






St. Gerard Majella

Patron of expectant mothers St. Gerard Majella, religious, is the patron of expectant mothers. He was born at Muro, Italy, in 1726 and joined the Redemptorists at the age of 23, becoming a professed lay brother in 1752. He served as sacristan, gardener, porter, infirmarian, and tailor. However, because of his great piety, extraordinary wisdom, and his gift of reading consciences, he was permitted to counsel communities of religious women.
This humble servant of
God also had the faculties of levitation and bi-location associated with certain mystics. His charity, obedience, and selfless service as well as his ceaseless mortification for Christ, made him the perfect model of lay brothers. He was afflicted with tuberculosis and died in 1755 at the age of twenty-nine.
This great saint is invoked as a patron of expectant mothers as a result of a
miracle effected through his prayers for a woman in labor.


Second reading from the Office of Readings
St Augustine: The City of God
Everywhere a spotless sacrifice is being offered to my name
A true sacrifice is anything that we do with the aim of being united to God in holy fellowship – anything that is that is directed towards that supreme good and end in which alone we can be truly blessed. It follows that even an act of compassion towards men is not a sacrifice, if it is not done for the sake of God. Although it is performed by man, sacrifice is still a divine thing, as the Latin word indicates: “sacri-ficium,” “holy-doing” or “holy-making.” Man himself can be a sacrifice, if he is consecrated in the name of God, and vowed to God – a sacrifice in so far as he dies to the world in order to live to God. This is also an act of compassion: compassion of a man for himself. Thus it is written: take pity on your own soul by doing what is pleasing to God.
True sacrifices are acts of compassion to ourselves or others, done with God in mind. Such acts have no other object than the relief of distress or the giving of happiness. Finally, the only true happiness is the one the psalmist speaks of: but for myself, I take joy in clinging to God. From all this it follows that the whole redeemed city (that is to say, the congregation or community of the saints) is offered to God as our sacrifice through the great High Priest who offered himself to God for us so that we might be the body belonging to so great a head. He took on the form of a servant and suffered for us. It was under this form that he both offered and was offered: at the same time mediator, and priest, and sacrifice.
St Paul starts by exhorting us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, as an act of homage justly owed to him. He tells us not to con-form ourselves to the world but to be trans-formed by renewing our will and our thinking: seeking to find out the will of God, to discover what is good, what is acceptable, what is perfect; for we ourselves are the whole of that sacrifice. He continues: In the light of the grace I have received I want to urge each one among you not to exaggerate his real importance. Each of you must judge himself soberly by the standard of the faith God has given him. Just as each of our bodies has several parts and each part has a separate function, so all of us, in union with Christ, form one body, and as parts of it we belong to each other. Our gifts differ according to the grace given us.
This is the sacrifice of Christians: we, being many, are one body in Christ. And, as the faithful know, this also is the sacrifice which the Church continually celebrates in the sacrament of the altar, in which she teaches that she herself is offered in the offering she makes to God.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Madre Teresa of Avila

All you Carmelites bless the Lord!!

St Teresa of Ávila (1515 - 1582)

She was born in Ávila in Spain and entered the Carmelite convent there at the age of 20, not because of any great attraction to the religious life but because it seemed the most sensible thing to do. At this time Carmelite convents were comfortable places. One was well looked after, had as much contact with the outside world as one wanted, and could keep one’s own possessions. With time, and despite ill-health, she made great progress in contemplative prayer and had a number of mystical experiences, which she treated with great suspicion since she felt that she was not nearly holy enough to be accorded them by God.
Teresa’s prayer life led her to seek a more perfect life, and in 1562, in the face of much opposition, she founded a convent of Discalced Carmelite nuns in Ávila. “Discalced” (“shoeless”) signified their devotion to poverty. The rest of her life is a story of the establishment of more and more Discalced Carmelite convents in the face of intense opposition from the unreformed Carmelites but help coming from the highest levels at the same time. Thus in 1566 the General of the Carmelite Order approved Teresa’s original foundation and permitted her to make new ones. In 1575 the chapter of the Order decided to dissolve them all, and for the next five years every effort was made to destroy Teresa’s reforms and many of her followers (including St John of the Cross) were imprisoned and cruelly treated.
At length, in 1580, and with the support of King Philip II, the Discalced Carmelites were made independent and St Teresa was able to found more new convents. She died, worn out by her efforts, on 15 October 1582.
St Teresa is an outstanding example of how the contemplative life can well up and overflow into action. In addition to all this, she wrote much on the subject of contemplative prayer and her writings are still standard works today. She was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970.
A favourite story about St Teresa illustrates the intimate relationship that the saints have with God. When she was on one of her innumerable journeys across Spain, her horse threw her as she was crossing a river. Soaked to the skin she looked up to heaven and said, “If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them!” We should bring everything to God in our prayers, even our reproaches. For a reproach, in the end, is simply our way of offering up to God our incomprehension of what he is giving us

The second reading from the Office of readings taken from the writings of St Teresa of Avila
Let us always be mindful of Christ's love
If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. And I clearly see that if we expect to please him and receive an abundance of his graces, God desires that these graces must come to us from the hands of Christ, through his most sacred humanity, in which God takes delight.
Many, many times I have perceived this through experience. The Lord has told it to me. I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we wish his Sovereign Majesty to reveal to us great and hidden mysteries. A person should desire no other path, even if he is at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example.
What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near. Let us consider the glorious Saint Paul: it seems that no other name fell from his lips than that of Jesus, because the name of Jesus was fixed and embedded in his heart. Once I had come to understand this truth, I carefully considered the lives of some of the saints, the great contemplatives, and found that they took no other path: Francis, Anthony of Padua, Bernard, Catherine of Siena. A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God’s hands. If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly.
Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favours, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Please HELP!!!! Star of the Sea Parish



Last Sunday I was asked if I could possible help my parish (Our Lady, Star of the Sean) in getting hold of some purple and rose colored candles for the Advent wreath. No one in the Gambia has these candles and it would sure be grand if someone could donate candles for this worthy cause.
I think back to all the huge beautiful Advent wreaths in some of our churches in the United States and how wonderful they looked hanging from the church ceilings. There was a beautiful one in The Cathedaral in Santa Fe last year. It would mean a lot to the folks here if we could just have a simple one set on a table by the Altar. If anyone feels called to donate some purple and rose colored candles, you can send them to me at:

Brother dismas (Nazareth Hermitage)
Catholic Mission
PO Box 165Banjul,
The Gambia
West Africa

Time is of the essence since the candles could take up to 4-5 weeks to get here. Please wrap each candle carefully so they wont break in shipment. If anyone wanted to throw in a few bits of greenery as well (not live greens) it would help to make things even more beautiful.
I thank you on behalf of the parish, for your help. If you are able to help I would appreciate a quick e-mail to let me know so I can inform the Parish committee.

God bless you,

dismas


Second reading of the office of readings from the Instructions of St Columbanus


Perpetual light in the temple of the eternal High Priest
How happy, how lucky are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes! How blessed it is to be wakeful and watching for God, who created all things, who fills them with being and exceeds all of them in greatness!
I am a lowly creature but I am still his servant, and I hope that he will choose to wake me from slumber. I hope that he will set me on fire with the flame of his divine love, the flame that burns above the stars, so that I am filled with desire for his love and his fire burns always within me!
I hope that I may deserve this, that my little lamp should burn all night in the temple of the Lord and shine on all who enter the house of God! Lord, I beg you in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son and my God, give me a love that cannot stumble so that my lamp can be lit but can never go out: let it burn in me and give light to others.
And you, Christ, our gentle saviour, in your kindness light our lamps so that they shine for ever in your temple and lighten our darkness and dispel the shadows of the world.
I beg you, my Jesus, fill my lamp with your light. By its light let me see the holiest of holy places, your own temple where you enter as the eternal High Priest of the eternal mysteries. Let me see you, watch you, desire you. Let me love you as I see you, and before you let my lamp always shine, always burn.
Beloved Saviour, show yourself to us who beg a glimpse of you. Let us know you, let us love you, let us love only you, let us desire you alone, let us spend our days and nights meditating on you alone, let us always be thinking of you. Fill us with love of you, let us love you with all the love that is your right as our God. Let that love fill us and possess us, let it overwhelm our senses until we can love nothing but you, for you are eternal. Give us that love that all the waters of the sea, the earth, the sky cannot extinguish: as it is written, love that no flood can quench, no torrents drown. What is said in the Song of Songs can become true in us (at least in part) if you, our Lord Jesus Christ, give us that grace. To you be glory for ever and for ever. Amen

Friday, October 9, 2009

Saints Denis, Bishop, and his Companions, Martyrs or Saint John Leonardi, Priest

St Denis (- 258)
As might be expected for a saint of such an early period, practically no hard facts about Saint Denis survive. According to St Gregory of Tours, writing some 300 years later, Denis came to Gaul from Rome in the middle of the third century. He arrived at what is now the Ile de la Cité in Paris, where he built a church, arranged the regular celebration of Mass, and preached the Gospel. Together with two members of his clergy he was martyred near the city.
Denis (in Latin, Dionysius) is not Dionysius the Areopagite, whom St Paul converted to Christianity, nor is he the author of the writings of the “Pseudo-Dionysius,” but both these confusions helped to popularise devotion to him from the seventh century onwards.
Nevertheless, the real St Denis did exist, he brought the Gospel to Paris, and he was its first martyr. For these things alone devotion to him is proper and justified.



Saint John Leonardi (1541 - 1609)
He was born at Lucca in Tuscany. Trained initially as an apothecary, he fought hard to become a priest and was ordained in 1572. A few laymen attached themselves to him in 1574 and something began to grow that looked as if it might become a religious order. A storm of persecution erupted. It seems possible that the Republic of Lucca felt that being the birthplace of a religious order might be dangerous for the independence of the state, given the complicated international politics of the time. Whatever the reason, Leonardi spent most of the rest of his life in exile from Lucca, only occasionally obtaining permission to visit it after extreme pressure from the Pope.
The order that he founded, now known as the Order of Clerks Regular of the Mother of God, is in charge of eight churches in Italy and is also involved in missionary work. In addition, his work was taken up and extended by the Popes into the Work of the Propagation of the Faith (de propaganda fidei), of which he is therefore honoured as the founder.

Second reading from Today's office of readings


An instruction by St Vincent of Lerins
The development of doctrine
Is there to be no development of religion in the Church of Christ? Certainly, there is to be development and on the largest scale.
Who can be so grudging to men, so full of hate for God, as to try to prevent it? But it must truly be development of the faith, not alteration of the faith. Development means that each thing expands to be itself, while alteration means that a thing is changed from one thing into another.
The understanding, knowledge and wisdom of one and all, of individuals as well as of the whole Church, ought then to make great and vigorous progress with the passing of the ages and the centuries, but only along its own line of development, that is, with the same doctrine, the same meaning and the same import.
The religion of souls should follow the law of development of bodies. Though bodies develop and unfold their component parts with the passing of the years, they always remain what they were. There is a great difference between the flower of childhood and the maturity of age, but those who become old are the very same people who were once young. Though the condition and appearance of one and the same individual may change, it is one and the same nature, one and the same person.
The tiny members of unweaned children and the grown members of young men are still the same members. Men have the same number of limbs as children. Whatever develops at a later age was already present in seminal form; there is nothing new in old age that was not already latent in childhood.
There is no doubt, then, that the legitimate and correct rule of development, the established and wonderful order of growth, is this: in older people the fullness of years always brings to completion those members and forms that the wisdom of the Creator fashioned beforehand in their earlier years.
If, however, the human form were to turn into some shape that did not belong to its own nature, or even if something were added to the sum of its members or subtracted from it, the whole body would necessarily perish or become grotesque or at least be enfeebled. In the same way, the doctrine of the Christian religion should properly follow these laws of development, that is, by becoming firmer over the years, more ample in the course of time, more exalted as it advances in age.
In ancient times our ancestors sowed the good seed in the harvest field of the Church. It would be very wrong and unfitting if we, their descendants, were to reap, not the genuine wheat of truth but the intrusive growth of error.
On the contrary, what is right and fitting is this: there should be no inconsistency between first and last, but we should reap true doctrine from the growth of true teaching, so that when, in the course of time, those first sowings yield an increase it may flourish and be tended in our day also.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A letter to the Philadelphians by St Ignatius of Antioch



Second reading from the Office of readings

One bishop with the presbyters and deacons
Ignatius, also called Theophorus, to the church of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ located at Philadelphia in the province of Asia. You have found mercy and have been strengthened in the peace of God; you are now filled with gladness because of the passion of our Lord, and by his mercy you are made believers in his resurrection. I greet you in the blood of Jesus Christ. You are my abiding and unshakeable joy, especially if your members remain united with the bishop and with his presbyters and deacons, all appointed in accordance with the mind of Christ who by his own will has strengthened them in the firmness which the Spirit gives.
I know that this bishop has obtained his ministry, which serves the community, neither by his own efforts, nor from men nor even out of vainglory, but from the love of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am deeply impressed by his gentleness, and by his silence he is more effective than the empty talkers. He is in harmony with the commandments as is a lute with its strings. I call him blessed, then, for his sentiments toward God, since I know these to be virtuous and perfect, and for his stability and calm, in which he imitates the gentleness of the living God.
As sons of the light of truth, flee divisions and evil doctrines; where your shepherd is, follow him as his flock.
For all who belong to God and Jesus Christ are with the bishop; all who repent and return to the unity of the Church will also belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ. Do not be deceived, my brothers. If anyone follows a schismatic, he will not obtain the inheritance of God’s kingdom; if anyone lives by an alien teaching, he does not assent to the passion of the Lord.
Be careful, therefore, to take part only in the one eucharist; for there is only one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup to unite us with his blood, one altar and one bishop with the presbyters and deacons, who are his fellow servants. Then, whatever you do, you will do according to God.
My brothers, I overflow with love for you and with a joyous heart I make you strong-although it is not so much I but Jesus Christ. Although imprisoned for his sake, I fear more because of my imperfection. But your prayers will perfect me in the eyes of God so that I might yet receive the inheritance promised me by the merciful God. I seek refuge in the person of Christ through the Gospels and I appeal to the true ministry of the Church through the apostles.