First Friday, May 1, 2015: Our Lady's Husband


J.M.J. On this the First Friday and the Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker, we implore the Heart of Christ, Our Ever-Virgin Mother and her Chaste Spouse to pray for all priests.




PRAYER TO SAINT JOSEPH 
FOR A PARTICULAR PRIEST


Saint Joseph, I present to you this day Father N., 
priest of Jesus Christ, 
and beg you to be to him, 
advocate and defender, counselor and friend.



Open your heart to him as you opened your home to the Virgin Mother in her hour of need.



Protect his Holy Priesthood as you 
protected the life of the Infant Christ 
threatened by cruel Herod. 
In darkness bring him light; 
in weakness, strength, and 
in fear the peace that passes understanding.


For the sake of the tender love 
that bound you to the Virgin Mary 
and the Infant Christ, be for him, 
Saint Joseph, a constant intercessor and a shield against every danger of body, mind, and soul 
so that, in spite of his weaknesses and sins, 
his Priesthood may bring glory to Christ 
and serve to increase the beauty of holiness 
in his bride the Church.

Amen.

Thursday, April 30, 2015: The Fearless Virgin


J.M.J. Some spiritual gems for our reflection:




"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."


--Our Lord Jesus Christ (+33)





"Do whatever He tells you."



--Our Blessed Mother (+58)





"He (Jesus) gave more glory to God His Father during all that time of submission to and dependence on Our Blessed Lady than He would have given Him if He had employed those thirty (hidden) years in working miracles, in preaching to the whole world and in converting all men."



--Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort (+1716)





"O, how enraged is the devil when he sees a soul persevering in devotion to the divine Mother!"



--Saint Alphonsus Mary Liguori (+1787)





"My vocation is Love."



--Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (+1897)





"What are you doing? Pray, pray very much! The Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you."



--The Angel of Portugal (1916)





"The world would be better without the sun than without the Holy Mass."



--Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (+1968)





"The most important doctrine for Catholics to know and live is that of Grace."



--The Servant of God Father John Anthony Hardon, S.J. (+2000)





"The Blessed Virgin thus becomes a model for those who accept Christ's words."



--Saint John Paul II (+2005)





"We pray for our African-American brothers and sisters."



--Bishop Paul Vincent Dudley (+2006)





"Now is the time for Saint Joseph to come forward."



--Mother Adela Galindo, S.C.T.J.M. (2007)





"Let us celebrate the restoration of the Cathedral with Mary."



--Bishop Paul Joseph Swain (2010)




“Jesus desires us, He awaits us. But what about ourselves? Do we really desire Him? Are we anxious to meet Him? Do we desire to encounter Him, to become one with Him, to receive the gifts He offers us in the Holy Eucharist? Or are we indifferent, distracted, busy about other things? From Jesus’ banquet parables we realize that He knows all about empty places at table, invitations refused, lack of interest in Him and His closeness.”

--Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (2011)



"The Virgin Mary, model of every vocation, did not fear to utter her “fiat” in response to the Lord’s call. She is at our side and she guides us. With the generous courage born of faith, Mary sang of the joy of leaving herself behind and entrusting to God the plans she had for her life. Let us turn to her, so that we may be completely open to what God has planned for each one of us, so that we can grow in the desire to go out with tender concern towards others (cf. Lk 1:39). May the Virgin Mary protect and intercede for us all.

--Pope Francis (2015)




Wednesday, April 29, 2015: Meditations on Our Lady's Holy Rosary


J.M.J.


The following are some Meditations on the Glorious Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They were read on Friday, April 24, 2015 during the Family Hour of Prayer at the 111th State Convention of the Knights of Columbus in Watertown, South Dakota, thanks to the State Chaplain, the Reverend Joseph T. Forcelle.




1. Jesus Rises from the Dead

From the Holy Gospel 
according to Saint Matthew (28:1-10)

1
Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Mag'dalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre.
2
And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
3
His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.
4
And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
5
But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus Who was crucified.
6
He is not here; for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay.
7
Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him. Lo, I have told you."
8
So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell His disciples.
9
And behold, Jesus met them and said, "Hail!" And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.
10
Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."



Several early Fathers of the Church wrote that Our Blessed Mother was the first to see her Son after His glorious Resurrection. These spiritual authors argued that, given the unique relationship between Jesus and Mary, it seemed reasonable that Our Lady was granted the privilege of seeing Our Risen Lord first.

Many centuries—almost twenty—have passed since Christ rose from the dead. You and I also behold the Risen Lord. During every Mass, we encounter Jesus in four ways: 1. in the Sacred Scriptures proclaimed; 2. in the person of the priest; 3. in the assembled body of believers present; 4. in a most exalted way in the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present under the appearances of bread and wine.

Imagine if we imitated Mary by living each day conscious of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ next to us. Truly, He is! But sometimes—perhaps even often—we seem painfully unaware of His closeness.

The recitation of the Most Holy Rosary, by way of the meditations on its mysteries, helps us to focus on the nearness of Christ and His Mother. The Son and His Virgin-Mother are not light-years from us. Instead, They are tantalizingly close. How They love us! How They care for us!
Our Lady appreciated her Son risen from the dead. So do we. He is Our Lord, Our Master, Our Friend, Our Brother, Our King.

May each of us, our families, our parishes and our dioceses be more like Mary and acknowledge that Jesus is with us and wants us never to leave Him.

He is risen as He said. Alleluia.


2. Jesus Ascends into Heaven

From the Acts of the Apostles (1:1-12)

1
In the first book, O The-oph'ilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,
2
until the day when He was taken up, after He had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen.
3
To them He presented Himself alive after His Passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.
4
And while staying with them He charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, He said, "you heard from Me,
5
for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
6
So when they had come together, they asked Him, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"
7
He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by His own authority.
8
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sama'ria and to the end of the earth."
9
And when He had said this, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.
10
And while they were gazing into Heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,
11
and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into Heaven? This Jesus, Who was taken up from you into Heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into Heaven."
12
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away;

About 1,600 years ago, Saint Augustine of Hippo captured well the essence of the Solemnity of the Ascension by asserting: “Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven; let our hearts ascend with Him.”

Saint Augustine also wrote: “For just as He remained with us even after His Ascension, so we too are already in Heaven with Him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.”

How do we remain with Christ while we are here on earth? Again, Saint Augustine: “He is here with us by His divinity, His power and His love. We cannot be in Heaven, as He is on earth, by divinity, but in Him, we can be there by love.”
Love, which is often called charity, which according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church “upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love” (#1827), empowers us to remain always with Jesus, the Source of charity. Although we do not see Him with physical sight as did Our Lady and the Twelve Apostles, we do see Him with the eyes of faith.

The Mother of God may well have been on Mount Olivet when Our Lord ascended to His Father on that first Ascension Thursday. Like Mary, may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and always look forward to our reunion with Him in Paradise.



3. The Holy Spirit Descends Upon Mary and the Apostles

From the Acts of the Apostles (2:1-12)


1
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
2
And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3
And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.
4
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under Heaven.
6
And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
7
And they were amazed and wondered, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
8
And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?
9
Par'thians and Medes and E'lamites and residents of Mesopota'mia, Judea and Cappado'cia, Pontus and Asia,
10
Phryg'ia and Pamphyl'ia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyre'ne, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
11
Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God."
12
And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"



Invoking the Holy Spirit, Who is 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 Holy Spirit leads us to imitate Him and even to abandon to Him all that we are and have.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday highlights our desperate need for the Paraclete—a pressing need that we have every moment of each day.

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 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!


4. Mary is Assumed Body and Soul into Heaven

Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus,
Venerable Pius XII, November 1, 1950

For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished His special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.


Although the actual dogma of Blessed Mary's Assumption body and soul into Heaven (especially commemorated by the Church every August 15) was solemnly defined a relatively short 65 years ago, nevertheless the belief in this fascinating mystery has been cherished and upheld by the Clergy and the Lay Faithful for centuries.

When Pope Pius XII declared, as we just heard, “that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory,” he readily acknowledged that “various testimonies, indications, and signs of this common belief of the Church are evident from remote times down through the course of the centuries.”

In particular, the Pope Pius hailed Saint John Damascene as "an outstanding herald of this traditional truth."

What was so spectacular Saint John Damascene’s teaching about Our Lady’s Assumption?

He wrote: "It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a Child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles.

"It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to Himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her Heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to Him, should look upon Him as He sits with the Father.”

Thanks to Saint John Damascene, we understand that if we strive for the fidelity that marked the earthly days of the Virgin, we also will one day partake both soul and body in the Beatific Vision that she now possesses. Where she now is, we hope to follow.

5. Mary is Crowned the Queen of Heaven and Earth


Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, Venerable Pius XII, October 11, 1954

35. But the Blessed Virgin Mary should be called Queen, not only because of her Divine Motherhood, but also because God has willed her to have an exceptional role in the work of our eternal salvation. "What more joyful, what sweeter thought can we have" - as Our Predecessor of happy memory, Pius XI wrote - "than that Christ is our King not only by natural right, but also by an acquired right: that which He won by the redemption? Would that all men, now forgetful of how much we cost Our Savior, might recall to mind the words, 'You were redeemed, not with gold or silver which perishes, . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb spotless and undefiled.[43] We belong not to ourselves now, since Christ has bought us 'at a great price'."[44], [45]


The great Dominican theologian Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, in his valuable treatise entitled The Mother of The Savior and Our Interior Life, asked how is Our Lady Queen?
Jesus Christ is King of all human persons and all creatures, including the Angels (both good and fallen) because: A.) His Sacred Humanity is joined to the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity; B.) He has the fullness of grace in His soul; C.) He won victory over Satan, sin and death.

Thanks to Jesus and Mary’s stunning cooperation with Him here on earth, Mary possesses authority and power and, hence, is Queen.

1. As the Mother of God, Our Lady shares in the dignity of her Divine Son. She would not be the Mother of the Lord without Him. As Jesus is the King, Mary is the Queen who shares in Christ’s universal Kingship.

2. Jesus is the King of the Universe “by His fullness of grace and by the victory which He won over Satan and sin by His Humanity and His obedience unto death . . . But Mary was associated with His victory over Satan, sin, and death by her union with Him in His humiliations and sufferings. She is therefore really associated with Him in His Kingship.”

Due to her Queenship, Mary has various roles: to distribute the graces that Christ won for us by His Death on Calvary; to give good example of the living out of the virtues.

Our Lady as Queen has a specific relationship to each “division” of the Church—the Church Triumphant in Paradise, the Church Militant on earth, and the Church Suffering in Purgatory.

O Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, Possessor of the Universal Queenship for the Eternal Glory of God and the Everlasting Salvation of Souls, pray for us!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015: Our Lady's Servant, Saint Louis Marie


J.M.J. On this the liturgical Memorial of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716), we turn to an excerpt from the Friday, October 13, 2000 Address of Saint John Paul II (1978-2005) to the participants of the Eighth International Mariological Colloquium held in Rome.



"For me, St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort is a significant person of reference who has enlightened me at important moments in life. When I was working as a clandestine seminarian at the Solvay factory in Krak√≥w, my spiritual director advised me to meditate on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Many times and with great spiritual profit I read and reread this precious little ascetical book with the blue, soda-stained cover. By relating the Mother of Christ to the Trinitarian mystery, Montfort helped me to understand that the Virgin belongs to the plan of salvation, by the Father's will, as the Mother of the incarnate Word, Who was conceived by her through the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary's every intervention in the work of the regeneration of the faithful is not in competition with Christ, but derives from Him and is at His service. Mary's action in the plan of salvation is always Christocentric, that is, it is directly related to a mediation that takes place in Christ. I then realized that I could not exclude the Mother of the Lord from my life without disregarding the will of God-the-Trinity, Who wanted to 'begin and complete' the great mysteries of salvation history with the responsible and faithful collaboration of the humble Handmaid of Nazareth."


Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, true Servant of Mary, pray for us.