Begging the Holy Spirit to Come: Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018


J.M.J.
Invoking the Holy Spirit--the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity--is to be a constant exercise of love and adoration on the part of all Christians. Our genuine attention to the Consoler is to lead to imitation of Him and even to our abandonment to Him and all that He desires.
Pentecost Sunday highlights our desperate need for the Paraclete--a pressing need that we have every moment of each day.
The saintly Father Dolindo Ruotolo (1882-1970), a member of the Third Order Regular Franciscan Congregation, was known for his unabashed affection for, and obedience to, the Holy Spirit.
At the end of his excellent work entitled "Vieni, O Spirito Santo!" ("Come, O Holy Spirit") is found some Prayers in which the incredible favors of the Holy Spirit are requested.
These Prayers are short but intense and are appropriate for daily use. Here are a few of them.
Invocation
O Holy Spirit, sweet Guest of my soul, remain with me and assist me so that I may remain always with You.
Offering
Eternal Divine Spirit, I offer You all the prayers of the Virgin Mary and of the Apostles gathered in the Cenacle, and to those I unite all my prayers, begging You to come quickly to renew the face of the earth.
For the Gift of Tears
Almighty and most merciful God, Who made a fountain of water gush forth from the rock to quench the thirst of Your People, obtain from the hardness of our hearts the tears of compunction, so that we may cry on account of our sins and merit to obtain their remission through Your Mercy. Mercifully infuse into our hearts, Lord God, the grace of the Holy Spirit, which helps cancel--through our cries and tears--the stains of our sins, and obtains for us from Your generosity the effect of our desired pardon. Through Jesus our Lord. Amen.
To Expel Impure Thoughts
Almighty and most merciful God, hear favorably our prayers, and free our hearts from the temptations of impure thoughts, so that we may merit to become a worthy dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Deign, Lord, to purify our souls from impure thoughts, to guard them intact, and to illuminate them with the grace of the Holy Spirit. You Who enlighten every man who comes into this world, alas! Enlighten our hearts with the splendor of Your grace, so that we may always think of those things that are worthy and acceptable to Your majesty, and love You sincerely. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

No disciple of Christ worthy of the name would deny that the Holy Spirit is to be our sure Refuge and Guide. No authentic friend of Jesus would argue that presently in our world, the calming presence of the Counselor is recognized and adhered to as it should be.
We sadly but readily admit that the Holy Spirit and His wise wishes are not held in the required esteem. Obstacles have been built that stand in the way of His renewing the earth. Yes, He can surely overcome those hurdles. But often His approach is that He wants us to do what we can to break through those barriers so that His gentle and persuasive influence may be felt.
Therefore, our hearts must first be converted if there is any chance that the world will be. Our closeness and submission to the Holy Spirit paves the way for His further work in our society.
Our prayer to the Holy Spirit is simple: Come, Holy Spirit . . . Holy Spirit, come . . . transform our hearts so that we may join in Your labor to renew the face of the earth.

Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us!

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church: Saturday, April 28, 2018


J.M.J.




There has been considerable interest in the recent announcement that Pope Francis has established the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, which is to be commemorated—beginning this year—on the Monday after Pentecost Sunday.

Although the title Mother of the Church or Mater Ecclesiae is not as well-known as those titles that derive from the four Marian dogmas (Divine Maternity, Perpetual Virginity, Immaculate Conception and Assumption), nevertheless, it is, along with, for example, Spiritual Mother, Co-Redemptrix, and Mediatrix of All Graces, a solid and esteemed expression of a significant facet of the Christ-inspired mission entrusted to Our Lady.

On the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, November 21, 1964, Blessed Paul VI, at the conclusion of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, declared: “We proclaim the Most Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of the Church, that is, of the whole people of God, faithful and pastors, and we call her most loving Mother.”

Some useful background reading on the concept of “Mother of the Church”: 1. The volume by Hugo Rahner, S.J., entitled, Our Lady and the Church, which was highly acclaimed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and the late Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.; 2. the discourse of September 17, 1997 by Saint John Paul II that summarizes the use of this title by the Church’s Magisterium.

At the end of the aforementioned discourse, Saint John Paul, in reference to Blessed Paul VI and his declaration of 1964, wrote that “my venerable Predecessor explicitly enunciated the doctrine contained in chapter eight of Lumen Gentium, hoping that the title of Mary, Mother of the Church, would have an even more important place in the liturgy and piety of the Christian people.”


Our Blessed Lady and Her Daughters: Tuesday of Holy Week, March 27, 2018


J.M.J. 


In our contemporary era, there are many competing images of women and womanhood.

Saint John Paul II, in harmony with Sacred Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition, believes women to be holy daughters of the Creator who possess an intrinsic beauty and value because they, like men, have been fashioned in the imago Dei—“the image of God.”

In his Letter to Women (June 29, 1995), he wrote that the Almighty has a “mysterious plan regarding the vocation and mission of women in the world.” Each and every woman—regardless of her role as mother, wife, daughter, sister, consecrated person—is remarkable and special in God’s sight. “Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.” (2)

Where would we be without women? The astounding realization—but perhaps not too astonishing, upon prayerful reflection—is that we owe women our very physical lives. Our mothers and fathers conceived us and brought us forth. We did not exist until they provided the physical matter and God furnished the spiritual matter.

The Ever-Virgin Mother of God is the only woman hailed as both Virgin and Mother. She, more than any other person, cooperated freely in the inscrutable design of the Maker by yielding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, thereby living with a zest to do good that is at once amazing and inspirational. Our Blessed Lady teaches us how to put aside our projects so that Christ can work in us His inimitable plan of salvation.

After Jesus Christ, we owe Mary our salvation, given her generous participation with His redeeming work on Calvary.

As the Church praises God for Our Lady, we also offer our gratitude for women and womanhood. As Saint John Paul expressed in his August 15, 1988 Apostolic Letter Mulieris dignitatem (“The Dignity of Women”), the Church “desires to give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the ‘mystery of woman’ and for every woman—for all that constitutes the eternal measure of her feminine dignity, for ‘the great works of God,’ which throughout human history have been accomplished in and through her.” (31)

The Madonna is, in the words of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), the stellar example of “obedience, faith, hope and burning charity” (61) for all women, no matter their state in life. She reflects Christ and instructs all her daughters to do the same. Mary is the model for all peoples, but especially for women.

When we recite the Most Holy Rosary, let us pray for women everywhere, that they may imitate Our Lady in her countless virtues.

Where would we be without women? No Mary . . . no Jesus . . . no mothers . . . no wives . . . no daughters . . . no sisters . . . no consecrated women . . . how impoverished our world—and depleted Heaven—would be!

Our Lady and Our Love for the Blessed Sacrament: Tuesday, February 27, 2018


J.M.J.


In his final encyclical, which was dedicated to the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, Saint John Paul II hailed the Ever-Virgin Mother of God as the “Woman of the Eucharist.” He wrote: “Mary can guide us towards this most holy sacrament, because she herself has a profound relationship with it.”

Our Lady is a living template of how we are to adore Jesus Christ in this “Sacrament of Sacraments.” Be it during Mass or in our time before the Tabernacle or the Monstrance, Mary offers to us an example of Eucharistic piety, which quickly becomes evangelical zeal for all the things of God.

Father Emil Neubert, S.M., in his Life of Union with Mary, asked “what will be our relations with Mary in our devotion to the Eucharist?” He replied: “First of all, we shall have to ask her assistance, as in all other manifestations of our supernatural life. In view of the exceptional importance of devotion to the Eucharist, this request for help must be pressing and trustful.”

As we continue to seek Our Lady’s assistance, “we will try to enter into her dispositions toward the mysteries which the Eucharist recalls and continues. Sharing the dispositions of our Mother becomes a reality almost necessarily as soon as we understand the mysteries taking place and the part Mary has in them. Once we thoroughly grasp the meaning of the actions and prayers in which we are taking part, we quite naturally begin to contemplate the Eucharist with the eyes of Mary, to love It with her Heart, and to unite ourselves to It, one with her.”

Our transformation into Christ Who gives His Body and Blood to us occurs by way of the maternal intercession of His Mother.

A Client of Our Lady: The Memorial of Saints Joachim and Ann, Wednesday, July 26, 2017 (The Centenary of Fatima)


J.M.J.


Nicholas GilroyOur Lady and the Guardian. By Father Stephen and Deacon George. Bloomington, Indiana: Archway Publishing, 2017. Paperback, 112 pages. $11.99.


Veteran teachers and members of the Regina Literary Guild, Father Stephen and Deacon George offer a delightful story about a very young man who enters Saint Peter’s High School Seminary.

Nicholas Gilroy seeks God’s wise will. He believes that the Lord desires that he become a priest. Therefore, with confidence in Him and His Holy Mother, the fourteen-year-old leaves his loving family to embrace the life of a seminarian.

Along the way, as one would expect, Nicholas meets various persons and challenges, but also many joys! With uncommon trust in Jesus, he perseveres and completes his freshman year in the Seminary.

The reader will note the lasting friendships that develop between Nicholas and the other seminarians, the paternal encouragement of the Rector, the discipline established by the Vice Rector, the demanding classes that broaden the horizons of these prospective priests, the fun that the seminarians have together, including on the football field, and the generous spirit displayed by them in providing food and lodging for some of the poor and in traveling to the inner city to assist grade school students after-school.

It is within the context of the after-school program that Nicholas learns about violence in society. Although he is scarred by the incomprehensible attack on human life that he witnessed, he remains grateful for the privilege to tutor a minority student, cherishing it as a golden opportunity to share Jesus Christ.

The account of Nicholas repeatedly returns to the beautiful Chapel of Saint Peter’s High School Seminary. It is there that he and his brother seminarians receive the divine grace necessary to walk the path of discernment that, for some men, leads to the Altar of God. His love for the Most Blessed Sacrament—whether in Mass or during Eucharistic Adoration—and his veneration of Our Blessed Lady are palpable.

This volume would make an excellent gift for junior high school and high school boys who wonder what the Holy Spirit wants of them. It is readable, inspiring and informative. Catholic schools and parish religious education programs would do well to make this work available to parents, students and instructors.



Our Newest Saints: Saturday, May 13, 2017 (The Centenary of Fatima)


J.M.J.


Our Newest Saints



The announcement that this year’s Centenary of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima would include the Canonization of Blesseds Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto on May 13th by Pope Francis has intrigued and uplifted the Catholic faithful.

One saw the visible interest on the faces of so many as they heard the long-awaited news: the Bishop of Rome would travel to the Cova da Iria to raise this venerable duo to the glories of the Altar on the very Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

The exemplary charity, patience and perseverance of Francisco and Jacinta along with their older cousin Lucia continue to awaken deep within the friends of Jesus the desire to love God more and to serve Him better as Mary pleaded one hundred years ago.

These children are holy. And they remain a template for our own efforts to be good before Our Lord.

From the ample testimony given by their contemporaries, Francisco and Jacinta frequently received the Sacraments, particularly Confession and Holy Communion, with profound fervor, daily recited the Holy Rosary with sincere devotion and routinely commended the sick, the suffering and the wayward to Almighty God with remarkable trust.

Although privileged with three appearances of the Angel of Peace in 1916 and six visits from Our Lady during 1917, Francisco and Jacinta did not haughtily exempt themselves from obedience to their parents and their local pastor. They humbly submitted themselves even to misguided civil authority but without retreating an inch from their divinely-inspired convictions.

Mary’s summons to make reparation for sin found a permanent home in these children. As they fasted from their lunch and gave it instead to the sheep they were tending, tied a coarse rope around their tiny waists to mirror the sacrifice of their Savior, bore without complaint the scorching Portugal sun and endured the angry glances and snide remarks from querulous relatives and strangers alike, Francisco and Jacinta embraced mortification not as a means to attract attention but rather to invoke the abiding mercy of God upon themselves and sinners everywhere.

The children acknowledged their nothingness in the sight of their Creator while simultaneously they treasured His tender love. They were well aware of what He required of them, and they sought to perform their daily duty with exactitude and promptness.

In her gentle, forthright manner, Our Lady presented difficult and frightening realities to the children—the horror of sin, the annihilation of nations, the promotion of error, the deliberate attempt to thwart the plan of God, the awfulness of Hell. Far from refusing to accept all that she shared, Francisco and Jacinta recognized Divine Providence. They confided in this kind Mother and welcomed her care for them. Had she not promised that they and Lucia would one day go to Heaven and that, in the end, her Immaculate Heart would triumph?

The parlous state of our era induces us to look again to those who preceded us, certain that we can learn something about how to navigate our treacherous age. Unlettered, poor children from a backwater village as mentors for us and our advanced society? We should take the opportunity to learn from the virtuous Francisco and Jacinta. Their proximity to Jesus and Mary transcends time and place and provides us with a salutary influence as we confront the perennial hazards lurking around us.

These earnest youth experienced what Pope Francis, just hours before he left for Fatima, prayed that Our Lady would do for all Portuguese believers: to “whisper into the ears of each one of them, and assure them that her Immaculate Heart is a refuge and a path leading them to God.”

Conveyed by the Ever-Virgin, the Fatima message of prayer, reparation and the fulfillment of one’s daily duty was observed to an extraordinary degree in the lives of the little shepherds. What great things are accomplished when the counsel of the Mother of God, which, of course, is identical to that of her Divine Son, resonates and is enthroned in the hearts of her sons and daughters!

 Saints Francisco and Jacinta are proof that lasting conversion and purity of soul are both possible and necessary. No matter where we have been or who we have been, Our Lady is here for us.

We rejoice with these children—indeed, the entire Mystical Body of Christ—who once were physically small but for a century have been veritable spiritual giants, these whose names are now enrolled in the catalog of the canonized.


We thank Your Holiness!: Monday, April 24, 2017 (The Centenary of Fatima)

J.M.J.

A Happy Announcement

On Thursday, April 20th during an ordinary public consistory, Pope Francis disclosed that he will canonize Blesseds Francisco Marto (+1919) and Jacinta Marto (+1920) who, along with Lucia dos Santos (+2005), experienced the six apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Cova da Iria near Fatima, Portugal during 1917.

The Holy Father will celebrate the Canonization Mass in the enormous Square in front of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima on Saturday, May 13th, which will be the one hundredth anniversary of Mary’s first appearance there.

Pope Francis will be the fourth Bishop of Rome to visit Fatima: Blessed Paul VI (1967); Saint John Paul II (1982, 1991, 2000); Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (2010). During 1977, Albino Cardinal Luciano (+1978), the Patriarch of Venice and the future Pope John Paul I, visited the Monastery of Saint Teresa in Coimbra, Portugal where Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart lived as a Discalced Carmelite. He celebrated Mass in the Carmel’s Chapel and spoke with Sister Lucia.



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