Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Does anyone want to help me?


This blog has been so sporadic over the past few weeks and I apologize for that but during this year the connection has been so 'iffy'.  Hopefully this is just a minor glitch and will be fixed quickly.
I'll do the best I can for now.
During this off/on/of time I am hoping to get the Gallery up and running so you can see just what we do at Nazareth hermitage.

The best solution would be to have someone who has experience in setting up a good blog. Please let me know.

In the service of the Lord

Brother dismas Mary

Let him who thirsts come to me and drink

From the Instructions of St Columbanus
 Image result for if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.Let him who thirsts come to me and drink
Image result for if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.

Beloved brethren, turn your ears to my words for there are things that it is necessary for you to hear. I shall be speaking of the waters of God’s fountain: refresh your thirst at that spring but do not entirely quench it. Drink without sating yourselves, for the living spring, the fount and source of life, is calling us: if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.
  Understand what it is that you are to drink. Let Jeremiah tell you, let the fountain himself tell you: they have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, says the Lord. So you see that the Lord himself, our God Jesus Christ, is the fountain of life; and he calls us to himself so that we may drink from him. Who will drink? Whoever loves; whoever is filled with the word of God; whoever adores enough, whoever desires enough; whoever is on fire with the love of wisdom.
  See the source from which that fountain flows. It comes from the same place that the manna came from in the wilderness – for the same person is both bread and fountain, Christ our Lord and God, for whom we should always hunger. Even if we eat him, the bread, with love, even if we devour him with desire, let us still hunger for him like starving men. So when we drink him, the fountain, let us always drink him with overflowing love, filled with longing and delighting in the gentle taste of his sweetness.
  For the Lord is gentleness and delight. We may eat and drink of him but still we will be hungry and thirst for more; for he is our food and drink that can never be entirely consumed. He can be eaten but there will always be more left. He can be drunk but he can never be drained dry. Our bread is eternal; our fountain lasts for ever, our fountain is sweet. So Isaiah says: come to the water all you who are thirsty; the fountain is for the thirsty, not for the surfeited. He calls the hungry and the thirsty to himself, and they can never drink enough: the more they drink, the more they desire to drink.
  The word of God on high is the fountain of Wisdom. So, my brethren, it is right that we should desire it, seek it and love it. In it all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden, as St Paul says; and God calls anyone who thirsts to drink from that fountain.
  If you are thirsty, drink from the fountain of life; if you are hungry, eat the bread of life. Blessed are they who hunger for that bread and thirst for that fountain; they eat and drink for ever and still they desire to eat and drink. For it is lovely above all things, that which is always eaten and drunk, always hungered and thirsted for. Thus David, king and prophet, was moved to say: taste and see that the Lord is good.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Our Lady, Mother and Queen

From a homily by St. Amadeus of Lausanne, bishop

Queen of the world and of peace
Observe how fitting it was that even before her assumption the name of Mary shone forth wondrously throughout the world. Her fame spread everywhere even before she was raised above the heavens in her magnificence. Because of the honor due her Son, it was indeed fitting for the Virgin Mother to have first ruled upon earth and then be raised up to heaven in glory. It was fitting that her fame be spread in this world below, so that she might enter the heights of heaven on overwhelming blessedness. Just as she was borne from virtue to virtue by the Spirit of the Lord, she was transported from earthly renown to heavenly brightness.
  So it was that she began to taste the fruits of her future reign while still in the flesh. At one moment she withdrew to God in ecstasy; at the next she would bend down to her neighbors with indescribable love. In heaven angels served her, while here on earth she was venerated by the service of men. Gabriel and the angels waited upon her in heaven. The virgin John, rejoicing that the Virgin Mother was entrusted to him at the cross, cared for her with the other apostles here below. The angels rejoiced to see their queen; the apostles rejoiced to see their lady, and both obeyed her with loving devotion.
  Dwelling in the loftiest citadel of virtue, like a sea of divine grace or an unfathomable source of love that has everywhere overflowed its banks, she poured forth her bountiful waters on trusting and thirsting souls. Able to preserve both flesh and spirit from death she bestowed health-giving salve on bodies and souls. Has anyone ever come away from her troubled or saddened or ignorant of the heavenly mysteries? Who has not returned to everyday life gladdened and joyful because his request had been granted by the Mother of God?
  She is a bride, so gentle and affectionate, and the mother of the only true bridegroom. In her abundant goodness she has channeled the spring of reason’s garden, the well of living and life-giving waters that pour forth in a rushing stream from divine Lebanon and flow down from Mount Zion until they surround the shores of every far-flung nation. With divine assistance she has redirected these waters and made them into streams of peace and pools of grace. Therefore, when the Virgin of virgins was led forth by God and her Son, the King of kings, amid the company of exulting angels and rejoicing archangels, with the heavens ringing with praise, the prophecy of the psalmist was fulfilled, in which he said to the Lord: At your right hand stands the queen, clothed in gold of Ophir.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Saint Pius X, Pope

From the apostolic constitution Divino afflatu of Pope Saint Pius X

The song of the Church
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The collection of psalms found in Scripture, composed as it was under divine inspiration, has, from the very beginnings of the Church, shown a wonderful power of fostering devotion among Christians as they offer to God a continuous sacrifice of praise, the harvest of lips blessing his name. Following a custom already established in the Old Law, the psalms have played a conspicuous part in the sacred liturgy itself, and in the divine office. Thus was born what Basil calls the voice of the Church, that singing of psalms, which is the daughter of that hymn of praise (to use the words of our predecessor, Urban VIII) which goes up unceasingly before the throne of God and of the Lamb, and which teaches those especially charged with the duty of divine worship, as Athanasius says, the way to praise God, and the fitting words in which to bless him. Augustine expresses this well when he says: God praised himself so that man might give him fitting praise; because God chose to praise himself man found the way in which to bless God.
  The psalms have also a wonderful power to awaken in our hearts the desire for every virtue. Athanasius says: Though all Scripture, both old and new, is divinely inspired and has its use in teaching, as we read in Scripture itself, yet the Book of Psalms, like a garden enclosing the fruits of all the other books, produces its fruits in song, and in the process of singing brings forth its own special fruits to take their place beside them. In the same place Athanasius rightly adds: The psalms seem to me to be like a mirror, in which the person using them can see himself, and the stirrings of his own heart; he can recite them against the background of his own emotions. Augustine says in his Confessions: How I wept when I heard your hymns and canticles, being deeply moved by the sweet singing of your Church. Those voices flowed into my ears, truth filtered into my heart, and from my heart surged waves of devotion. Tears ran down, and I was happy in my tears.
  Indeed, who could fail to be moved by those many passages in the psalms which set forth so profoundly the infinite majesty of God, his omnipotence, his justice and goodness and clemency, too deep for words, and all the other infinite qualities of his that deserve our praise? Who could fail to be roused to the same emotions by the prayers of thanksgiving to God for blessings received, by the petitions, so humble and confident, for blessings still awaited, by the cries of a soul in sorrow for sin committed? Who would not be fired with love as he looks on the likeness of Christ, the redeemer, here so lovingly foretold? His was the voice Augustine heard in every psalm, the voice of praise, of suffering, of joyful expectation, of present distress.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Saint Bernard, Abbot, Doctor

From a sermon by St. Bernard, abbot

I love because I love, I love that I may love 
Saint Bernard , Abbot
Love is sufficient of itself, it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in its practice. I love because I love, I love that I may love. Love is a great thing so long as it continually returns to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it. Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return; the sole purpose of his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him.
Saint Bernard in Chapter
  The Bridegroom’s love, or rather the love which is the Bridegroom, asks in return nothing but faithful love. Let the beloved, then, love in return. Should not a bride love, and above all, Love’s bride? Could it be that Love not be loved?
  Rightly then does she give up all other feelings and give herself wholly to love alone; in giving love back, all she can do is to respond to love. And when she has poured out her whole being in love, what is that in comparison with the unceasing torrent of that original source? Clearly, lover and Love, soul and Word, bride and Bridegroom, creature and Creator do not flow with the same volume; one might as well equate a thirsty man with the fountain.
  What then of the bride’s hope, her aching desire, her passionate love, her confident assurance? Is all this to wilt just because she cannot match stride for stride with her giant, any more than she can vie with honey for sweetness, rival the lamb for gentleness, show herself as white as the lily, burn as bright as the sun, be equal in love with him who is Love? No. It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the perfect union of two hearts that complete and total marriage consists. Or are we to doubt that the soul is loved by the Word first and with a greater love?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Saint John Eudes, Priest

From a treatise on the admirable Heart of Jesus by Saint John Eudes, priest

\The source of salvation and true life
I ask you to consider that our Lord Jesus Christ is your true head and that you are a member of his body. He belongs to you as the head belongs to the body. All that is his is yours: breath, heart, body, soul and all his faculties. All of these you must use as if they belonged to you, so that in serving him you may give him praise, love and glory. You belong to him as a member belongs to the head. This is why he earnestly desires you to serve and glorify the Father by using all your faculties as if they were his. He belongs to you, but more than that, he longs to be in you, living and ruling in you, as the head lives and rules in the body. He desires that whatever is in him may live and rule in you: his breath in your breath, his heart in your heart, all the faculties of his soul in the faculties of your soul, so that these words may be fulfilled in you: Glorify God and bear him in your body, that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in you.
Image result for He who perseveres to the end will be saved  You belong to the Son of God, but more than that, you ought to be in him as the members are in the head. All that is in you must be incorporated into him. You must receive life from him and be ruled by him. There will be no true life for you except in him, for he is the one source of true life. Apart from him you will find only death and destruction. Let him be the only source of your movements, of the actions and the strength of your life. He must be both the source and the purpose of your life, so that you may fulfill these words: None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master. While we live, we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die, we die as his servants. Both in life and death we are the Lord’s. That is why Christ died and came to life again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
  Finally, you are one with Jesus as the body is one with the head. You must, then, have one breath with him, one soul, one life, one will, one mind, one heart. And he must be your breath, heart, love, life, your all. These great gifts in the follower of Christ originate from baptism. They are increased and strengthened through confirmation and by making good use of other graces that are given by God. Through the holy Eucharist they are brought to perfection.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tuesday of week 20 in Ordinary Time

From the homilies of St Bernard on the glories of the Virgin Mother

She was prepared by the Most High and prefigured by the patriarchs
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There was only one mode of birth that was worthy of God, and that was to be born of a Virgin. Equally, who could come from a Virgin birth except God himself? The maker of mankind, if he was to be made man and destined to be born of man, would have to choose, to create a mother whom he knew to be worthy of him, who he knew would be pleasing to him.
  It was his will that she should be a virgin, so that he could proceed from an unstained body, stainless, to purify mankind of its stains.
  It was his will that she should be meek and humble of heart, since he was to become the outstanding example of these virtues, so necessary for the health of humanity. He granted childbirth to her, having first inspired her vow of virginity and filled her with the virtue of humility.
  To put it another way, how could the Angel have addressed her as full of grace if any, even a little, of these virtues had been present in her already and not given to her by grace? It was given to her to be made holy. She, who was to conceive and give birth to the Holy of holies, was made holy in body by the gift of virginity and holy in mind by the gift of humility.
  Adorned with the jewels of such virtues and radiant in both mind and body, the royal Virgin’s beauty draws the attention of the citizens of heaven itself, and its King is filled with desire for her and sends his messenger to her from on high.
  The Angel was sent to the Virgin, it says. A virgin in body and a virgin in mind, a virgin by her own choice, a virgin, as the Apostle describes her, holy in mind and body. Not someone just now found by chance, but chosen from the beginning of time, foreseen and prepared by the Most High, waited upon by the angels, prefigured by the patriarchs, preached by the prophets.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday of week 20 in Ordinary Time

The Moral Reflections on Job by Pope St Gregory the Great

Fights without and fears within
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"I have been hungry and thirsty and often starving; I have been in the cold without clothes......"  
The saints are caught up in a turbulent war of troubles, attacked at the same time by force and by persuasion. Patience is their shield against force, and doctrine makes the arrows that they shoot against persuasion.
  See the skill with which they prepare themselves for both fights. The perversity within, they straighten out and teach and correct. The adversity without, they face and endure and suppress. They despise the enemies that come from outside to attack them, they resist them and stop them from subverting others. But to the weak and feeble citizens within they give compassion, afraid that they might otherwise lose the life of righteousness completely.
  Let us look at St Paul, the soldier of God’s army, as he fights both enemies: as he says, quarrels outside, misgivings inside. He lists the enemies he has to resist: danger from rivers and danger from brigands, danger from my own people and danger from pagans, danger in the towns and danger in the open country, danger at sea and danger from so-called brothers. He lists the weapons he fires against them: I have worked and labored, often without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty and often starving; I have been in the cold without clothes.
  In the middle of all these battles the army’s camp must still be patrolled and safeguarded: and, to leave out much more, there is my daily preoccupation: my anxiety for all the churches. You see how bravely he takes the war upon himself and how compassionately he devotes himself to keeping his neighbors safe. First he lists the evils he suffers, then he lists the good things he is giving.
  Let us ponder what a burden it is to endure attacks from outside and at the same time to give protection to the weak inside. From without, he suffers attack: he is beaten, he is chained. From within, he endures fear: the fear that his sufferings might discourage not him, but his disciples. So he writes to them: Let no-one be unsettled by the present troubles: as you know, they are bound to come our way. In the middle of his own sufferings, it was the downfall of others that he feared: if they saw him being beaten because of his faith, they might hold back from professing that faith themselves.
  What an immense love he has within him! He neglects what he himself is suffering and worries only that his disciples might suffer temptation because of it. He thinks nothing of the wounds of his body and he heals the wounds of other people’s hearts.
  This is something characteristic of the righteous. Just because they suffer pain themselves it does not stop them caring for the needs of others. They grieve for themselves and the adversity they face but they still give the needed teaching to others. They are like some great doctor who is struck down by sickness: they endure their own wounds while giving healing medicines to their patients.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

From a homily on Matthew by St. John Chrysostom, bishop

Salt of the earth and light of the world
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You are the salt of the earth. It is not for your own sake, he says, but for the world’s sake that the word is entrusted to you. I am not sending you only into two cities only or ten to twenty, not to a single nation, as I sent the prophets of old, but across land and sea, to the whole world. And that world is in a miserable state. For when he says: You are the salt of the earth, he is indicating that all mankind had lost its savor and had been corrupted by sin. Therefore, he requires of these men those virtues which are especially useful and even necessary if they are to bear the burdens of many. For the man who is kindly, modest, merciful and just will not keep his good works to himself but will see to it that these admirable fountains send out their streams for the good of others. Again, the man who is clean of heart, a peacemaker and ardent for truth will order his life so as to contribute to the common good.
  Do not think, he says, that you are destined for easy struggles or unimportant tasks. You are the salt of the earth. What do these words imply? Did the disciples restore what had already turned rotten? Not at all. Salt cannot help what is already corrupted. That is not what they did. But what had first been renewed and freed from corruption and then turned over to them, they salted and preserved in the newness the Lord had bestowed. It took the power of Christ to free men from the corruption caused by sin; it was the task of the apostles through strenuous labor to keep that corruption from returning.
  Have you noticed how, bit by bit, Christ shows them to be superior to the prophets? He says they are to be teachers not simply for Palestine but for the whole world. Do not be surprised, then, he says, that I address you apart from the others and involve you in such a dangerous enterprise. Consider the numerous and extensive cities, peoples and nations I will be sending you to govern. For this reason I would have you make others prudent, as well as being prudent yourselves. For unless you can do that, you will not be able to sustain even yourselves.
  If others lose their savour, then your ministry will help them regain it. But if you yourselves suffer that loss, you will drag others down with you. Therefore, the greater the undertakings put into your hands, the more zealous you must be. For this reason he says: But if the salt becomes tasteless, how can its flavour be restored? It is good for nothing now, but to be thrown out and trampled by men’s feet.
  When they hear the words: When they curse you and persecute you and accuse you of every evil, They may be afraid to come forward. Therefore he says: “Unless you are prepared for that sort of thing, it is in vain that I have chosen you. Curses shall necessarily be your lot but they shall not harm you and will simply be a testimony to your constancy. If through fear, however, you fail to show the forcefulness your mission demands, your lot will be much worse, for all will speak evil of you and despise you. That is what being trampled by men’s feet means.”
  Then he passes on to a more exalted comparison: You are the light of the world. Once again, “of the world”: not of one nation or twenty cities, but of the whole world. The light he means is an intelligible light, far superior to the rays of the sun we see, just as the salt is a spiritual salt. First salt, then light, so that you may learn how profitable sharp words may be and how useful serious doctrine. Such teaching holds in check and prevents dissipation; it leads to virtue and sharpens the mind’s eye. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do men light a lamp and put it under a basket. Here again he is urging them to a careful manner of life and teaching them to be watchful, for they live under the eyes of all and have the whole world for the arena of their struggles.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Your body is holy and glorious
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In their sermons and speeches on the feast day of the Assumption of the Mother of God, the holy fathers and the great doctors of the church were speaking of something that the faithful already knew and accepted: all they did was to bring it out into the open, to explain its meaning and substance in other terms. Above all, they made it most clear that this feast commemorated not merely the fact that the blessed Virgin Mary did not experience bodily decay, but also her triumph over death and her heavenly glory, following the example of her only Son, Jesus Christ.
  Thus St John Damascene, who is the greatest exponent of this tradition, compares the bodily Assumption of the revered Mother of God with her other gifts and privileges: It was right that she who had kept her virginity unimpaired through the process of giving birth should have kept her body without decay through death. It was right that she who had given her Creator, as a child, a place at her breast should be given a place in the dwelling-place of her God. It was right that the bride espoused by the Father should dwell in the heavenly bridal chamber. It was right that she who had gazed on her Son on the cross, her heart pierced at that moment by the sword of sorrow that she had escaped at his birth, should now gaze on him seated with his Father. It was right that the Mother of God should possess what belongs to her Son and to be honored by every creature as the God’s Mother and handmaid.
  St Germanus of Constantinople considered that the preservation from decay of the body of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and its elevation to heaven as being not only appropriate to her Motherhood but also to the peculiar sanctity of its virgin state: It is written, that you appear in beauty, and your virginal body is altogether holy, altogether chaste, altogether the dwelling-place of God; from which it follows that it is not in its nature to decay into dust, but that it is transformed, being human, into a glorious and incorruptible life, the same body, living and glorious, unharmed, sharing in perfect life.
  Another very ancient author asserts: Being the most glorious Mother of Christ our saviour and our God, the giver of life and immortality, she is given life by him and shares bodily incorruptibility for all eternity with him who raised her from the grave and drew her up to him in a way that only he can understand.
  All that the holy fathers say refers ultimately to Scripture as a foundation, which gives us the vivid image of the great Mother of God as being closely attached to her divine Son and always sharing his lot.
  It is important to remember that from the second century onwards the holy fathers have been talking of the Virgin Mary as the new Eve for the new Adam: not equal to him, of course, but closely joined with him in the battle against the enemy, which ended in the triumph over sin and death that had been promised even in Paradise. The glorious resurrection of Christ is essential to this victory and its final prize, but the blessed Virgin’s share in that fight must also have ended in the glorification of her body. For as the Apostle says: When this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the scripture will be fulfilled that says “Death is swallowed up in victory”.
  So then, the great Mother of God, so mysteriously united to Jesus Christ from all eternity by the same decree of predestination, immaculately conceived, an intact virgin throughout her divine motherhood, a noble associate of our Redeemer as he defeated sin and its consequences, received, as it were, the final crowning privilege of being preserved from the corruption of the grave and, following her Son in his victory over death, was brought, body and soul, to the highest glory of heaven, to shine as Queen at the right hand of that same Son, the immortal King of Ages.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest, Martyr

A letter of St Maximilian Kolbe
We must sanctify the whole world
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I rejoice greatly, dear brother, at the outstanding zeal that drives you to promote the glory of God. It is sad to see how in our times the disease called “indifferentism” is spreading in all its forms, not just among those in the world but also among the members of religious orders. But indeed, since God is worthy of infinite glory, it is our first and most pressing duty to give him such glory as we, in our weakness, can manage – even that we would never, poor exiled creatures that we are, be able to render him such glory as he truly deserves.
  Because God’s glory shines through most brightly in the salvation of the souls that Christ redeemed with his own blood, let it be the chief concern of the apostolic life to bring salvation and an increase in holiness to as many souls as possible. Let me briefly outline the best way to achieve this end – both for the glory of God and for the sanctification of the greatest number. God, who is infinite knowledge and infinite wisdom, knows perfectly what is to be done to give him glory, and in the clearest way possible makes his will known to us through his vice-gerents on Earth.
Image result for Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest, Martyr  It is obedience and obedience alone that shows us God’s will with certainty. Of course our superiors may err, but it cannot happen that we, holding fast to our obedience, should be led into error by this. There is only one exception: if the superior commands something that would obviously involve breaking God’s law, however slightly. In that case the superior could not be acting as a faithful interpreter of God’s will.
  God himself is the one infinite, wise, holy, and merciful Lord, our Creator and our Father, the beginning and the end, wisdom, power, and love – God is all these. Anything that is apart from God has value only in so far as it is brought back to him, the Founder of all things, the Redeemer of mankind, the final end of all creation. Thus he himself makes his holy will known to us through his vice-gerents on Earth and draws us to himself, and through us – for so he has willed – draws other souls too, and unites them to himself with an ever more perfect love.
  See then, brother, the tremendous honor of the position that God in his kindness has placed us in. Through obedience we transcend our own limitations and align ourselves with God’s will, which, with infinite wisdom and prudence, guides us to do what is best. Moreover, as we become filled with the divine will, which no created thing can resist, so we become stronger than all others.
Image result for Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest, Martyr  This is the path of wisdom and prudence, this is the one way by which we can come to give God the highest glory. After all, if there had been another, better way, Christ would certainly have shown it to us, by word and by example. But in fact sacred Scripture wraps up his entire long life in Nazareth with the words and he was obedient to them and it shows the rest of his life to have been passed in similar obedience – almost as an instruction to us – by showing how he came down to Earth to do the Father’s will.
  Brethren, let us love him above all, our most loving heavenly Father, and let our obedience be a sign of this perfect love, especially when we have to sacrifice our own wills in the process. And as for a book from which to learn how to grow in the love of God, there is no better book than Jesus Christ crucified.
  All this we will achieve more easily through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin, to whom the most kind God has given the task of dispensing his mercies. There is no doubt that the will of Mary should be the will of God for us. When we dedicate ourselves to him, we become tools in her hands just as she became a tool in his. Let us let her direct us and lead us by the hand. Let us be calm and serene under her guidance: she will foresee all things for us, provide all things, swiftly fulfill our needs both bodily and spiritual, and keep away from us all difficulty and suffering.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Saints Pontian, Pope, and Hippolytus, Priest, Martyrs

A letter of St Cyprian
Ineradicable faith
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How can I find the words to praise you, most courageous brethren? How can I compose a speech worthy of the strength of your heart and your perseverance in faith? You endured questioning by the cruelest tortures right through to the glorious end. You did not yield to suffering, but the sufferings yielded to you. The tortures did not bring the end of your torment, but the crown of martyrdom did. The intensification of the tortures went on and on, not to break down the steadfast faith but to send the men of God the sooner to their Lord.
  The crowds who were present wondered as they saw the heavenly battle of God, Christ’s spiritual battle, as they saw his servants standing with free voices and undamaged minds, strong with divine strength. They were deprived, it is true, of the weapons of this world, but they were armed with the arms of faith. Tortured they stood, yet stronger than their torturers. Their limbs, beaten and torn as they were, still defeated the instruments that had beaten and torn them.
  The cruellest beatings, repeatedly administered, could not overcome their ineradicable faith, even when their very entrails were torn open and at length the servants of God had no limbs left to be beaten, but only wounds. Blood was flowing that might quench the flames of persecution, that might subdue the fires of Gehenna itself. What a spectacle that was for the Lord – how sublime, how great, how acceptable to the eyes of God because it showed the allegiance and devotion of his soldiers! As the Psalms say, when the Holy Spirit speaks to us and warns us: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful. Precious is the death that has bought immortality at the cost of its blood and received the crown of God as the consummation of its virtues!
  How Christ rejoiced! How willingly he fought and conquered in such servants, protecting their faith and giving to the believers all that they needed! He was present at his own battle, he lifted up his champions, the proclaimers of his name, he gave them strength and new spirit. And he who once conquered death for us still and always conquers it within us.
  O happy Church of ours, lit up by the honor of God’s kindness, now purified by the blood of our glorious martyrs! Once she shone white through the works of the brethren; now she has become purple with the blood of the martyrs. Among her flowers there bloom both white lilies and red roses.
  Now let each of us strive for the highest of one of these honors. Let each of us be crowned either with the white crown of labours or the purple crown of suffering.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious

The memoirs of the secretary of St Jane Frances de Chantal

The martyrdom of love
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Saint Francis De Sales and St. Jane Francis De Chantal

One day Saint Jane said this: ‘My dear daughters, most of our holy Fathers, the pillars of the Church, were not martyrs. Why was this, do you think?’
  After each one of us had had her say, she went on: I think it is because there is such a thing as a martyrdom of love: God keeps his servants alive to work for his glory, and this makes them martyrs and confessors at the same time. I know this is the sort of martyrdom the daughters of the Visitation will suffer, that is, those of them who are fortunate enough to set their hearts on it.’
  A sister wanted to know just how this martyrdom worked out in practice.
  ‘Give God your unconditional consent,’ she said, ‘and then you will find out. What happens is that love seeks out the most intimate and secret place of your soul, as with a sharp sword, and cuts you off even from your own self. I know of a soul cut off in this way so that she felt it more keenly than if a tyrant had cleaved her body from her soul.’
  We knew, of course, that she was speaking about herself. A sister wanted to know how long this martyrdom was likely to last.
  ‘From the moment we give ourselves up wholeheartedly to God until the moment we die,’ she answered. ‘But this goes for generous hearts and people who keep faith with love and don’t take back their offering; our Lord doesn’t take the trouble to make martyrs of feeble hearts and people who have little love and not much constancy; he just lets them jog along in their own little way in case they give up and slip from his hands altogether; he never forces our free will.’
  She was asked whether this martyrdom of love could ever be as bad as the physical kind.
  ‘We won’t try to compare the two and look for equality; but I do not think the martyrdom of love is less painful than the other, because “love is strong as death”, and martyrs of love suffer infinitely more by staying alive to do God’s will than if they had to give up a thousand lives for their faith and love and loyalty.’