Saturday, October 06, 2012

Our Blessed Lady's Saturday

Autumn Sighs
In pensive mood I trod
My garden plot one day;
October's smile was weary so!
It's green was gloomy gray.
Where are the strains of summer gone?
Its sun the livelong day?
With sudden sadness I then thought
On how all human things decay.

Two months ago I'd seen
The thrilling joys of earth,
The roses blushing in their glee,
And swallows' mellow mirth.
Then something briny from eye
Fell with the faded leaves;
I wept at beauty gone to shreds,
At naked boughs of wailing trees.

I understood how we,
As mortals here below,
Will flourish for a moment, then
To tryst with death must go.
But when on summer's fruits I mused,
On ripened harvests fair,
On all the wealth from Heaven's store,
On blossomed beauties precious rare.

I knew that for a cause,
A purpose grandly good,
The Lord had minted summer days;
And thus I understood
That we must lead a noble life
With inspiration filled,
To give the living, when we die,
The aims with which our spirit thrilled!

That I, a mortal man
With life divine in me,
Must purify that priceless soul
With God's sweet sanctity
; Must leave to men the heritage
Of virtue and of love,
And help to make a better world,
A bit like Heaven above.

The fight for sanctity,
For virtue's steep-set path,
And ways of love and gentleness
In place of vice and wrath,
Dear Lord, all these You will from me.
I know You give the grace;
I trust You faithfully,
But tell me how my steps to trace.

The breeze was whistling loud,
In havoc with the trees;
And God, who gave the breeze its breath,
And God, who made the leaves,
Was telling of the Masterpiece
Arisen from His hand,
"To Mary, Mother Mine and yours,
Explain, she sure will understand!"

With Mary for my Love,
My Model and my Queen,
Since that October day, she knows
How happy I have been!
I trust in her, and make her loved,
And thus my life's short day,
Will, as a fruitful manna, help
The souls that come, to keep the Way!

Cyril Robert, Our Lady's Praise in Poetry, Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1944.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Friday At the Foot Of the Cross

TO JESUS FORSAKEN SWEET JESUS! For how many ages hast Thou hung upon Thy Cross and still men pass Thee by and regard Thee not! How often have I passed Thee by, heedless of Thy great Sorrow, Thy many Wounds, Thine infinite Love! How often have I stood before Thee, not to comfort and console Thee, but to add to Thy Sorrows, to deepen Thy Wounds, to spurn Thy Love! Thou hast stretched forth Thy Hands to raise me up, and I have taken those Hands and bent them back on the Cross. Thou hast loved me with an infinite love, and I have taken advantage of that love to sin the more against Thee. My ingratitude has pierced Thy Sacred Heart, and Thy Heart responds only with an outpouring of Thy Love in Thy Precious Blood. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on me.

Saint Placidus, Martyr

Protege of Saint Benedict and first Benedictine martyr. Saint Placidus, please pray for us!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Today Would Have Been My Father's 92nd Birthday

He died December 31, 1989, at the age of 69.

O God, who hast commanded us to honor our father and our mother; in Thy mercy have pity on the souls of George my father and Kathryn my mother, and forgive them their trespasses; and make me to see them again in the joy of everlasting brightness. Through Christ our Lord.

V. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine,
R. Et lux perpetua luceat ei.
V. Requiescat in pace.
R. Amen.

“The Old Man”
The tears have all been shed now
We've said our last good-byes
His soul's been blessed and he's laid to rest
And it's now I feel alone.
He was more than just a father
My teacher, my best friend
He can still be heard in the tunes we shared
When I play them on my own.

I never will forget him for he made me what I am
Though he may be gone memory lingers on
And I miss him ... The Old Man.

As a boy he'd take me walkin'
By mountian, field, and stream
And he showed me things not known to kings
Just secret between him and me.
Like the colors of a pheasant
As he rises in the dawn
And how to fish and make a wish
Beside the holly tree

I never will forget him for he made me what I am
Though he may be gone memory lingers on
And I miss him ... The Old Man.

I thought he'd live forever
He seemed so big and strong
But the minutes fly and the years roll by
For a father and his son
And suddenly when it happened
There was so much left unsaid
No second chance to tell him thanks
For everything he'd done

I never will forget him for he made me what I am
Though he may be gone memories linger on
God, I miss him ... The Old Man.

Phil Coulter's song, performed by George Donaldson of Celtic Thunder:

Saint Francis Of Assisi

Saint Francis is a great saint, if you can get past the syrupy nonsense people who claim to be devoted to him claim is his legacy. Aside from his personal holiness, and I doubt that many could take holiness to a higher level than Francis did, there is his founding of one of the most important orders in the history of Christendom (actually, he founded three orders, and others have sprung up from that tradition and family of orders), his invention of the Christmas creche scene, his extension of the love of Christ to animals and all creation, and his being a stigmatist, his is also one of the most striking conversion stories in the history of the Church.
The Golden Legend

The Catholic Encyclopedia

Saint Francis took mortification of the flesh very seriously. When he found the desires of the flesh beginning to take hold, he used to roll around in thorn bushes, to drive them away. If only moderns did that, I doubt we would have heard anything of a pervert priest scandal these last 10 years.

There was no humbug about Saint Francis. He truly loved those in need, the poor, and all creation. Where friars since his time have grown fat and overfed, with far too much luxury for a mendicant order, he, who came from wealth, lived a life of real poverty. And where modern friars make a show of doing good works institutionally, but then drive the poor from their own door, Saint Francis adopted a radical love for others that involved genuine giving of himself.

Saint Francis entertained an abiding, even fierce desire to give his life for the Faith. He made several efforts to go to Moslem lands, so that he would be martyred. But obstacles prevented his first efforts. But he persisted. When he finally made it to Moslem-controlled territory, the local emir or pasha listened politely to him, discoursed with him, and then sent him back to Italy. Later, when some seven of his followers were martyred by the Moslems, he exclaimed, "Now I have seven true friars minor!". Thwarted in his own effort to die for the Faith, he recklessly undertook dramatic penances, and did things like embracing lepers.

The stigmata he received, like that of Saint Padre Pio, gave constant pain and discharge. Also like Pio, he had the gift of bilocation.

One thing most people don't know about Saint Francis is that he was never ordained a priest. He could never say Mass. All he could do was assist at Mass. Why wasn't he ordained? Was he illiterate? No. Too stupid to learn the Latin? No. He was too humble to take onto himself the role of the priest.

Put aside the phony "Prayer of Saint Francis" which he had nothing to do with, and was not even written until the 20th century, when it was "discovered" by an American bishop visiting Italy. Pray instead this prayer, truly the work of Saint Francis:

Hail Lady, Holy Queen, Holy Mary Mother of God,
Who art the Virgin made Church
And the One elect by the Most Holy Father of Heaven,
Whom He consecrated with His Most Holy beloved Son
And with the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete;
Thou in whom was and is all fullness of grace and every good.

Hail His Palace;
Hail His Tabernacle;
Hail His Home.

Hail His Vestment;
Hail His Handmaid;
Hail His Mother
And hail all thee holy virtues, which through the grace and illumination of the Holy Ghost are infused into the hearts of the faithful, so that from those unfaithful thou make them faithful to God.

Or this prayer, which he said before the Crucifix of San Damiano, when he was given his commission:

All-highest, glorious God, cast Thy light into the darkness of my heart. Give me true faith, firm hope, perfect charity and profound humility, with wisdom and perception, O Lord, so that I may do what is truly Thy holy Will.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Saint Therese Of Lisieux

Today is the feast of the great Carmelite Theresa (or Therese) of Lisieux.

I think it is no exaggeration to say that she has become the most celebrated female saint since Jeanne de Arc and Bridget of Ireland. Her autobiographical Story Of A Soul is a modern Catholic classic. The spirituality of her "little way" has become a role model for millions of the faithful (and was a source for the spiritual approach to life of Opus Dei's founder St. Josemarie Escriva de Balaguer).

You may explore her poetry in e-book form here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Our Angel Guardians

OK, no mention of the Guardian Angels would be complete without Hansel and Gretel, the image in a million homes and instantly familiar to almost all Christians. Now we move past this chestnut to other, better traditional images of our Guardian Angels at work.

I have often thought, though it is utterly inadequate, and probably impossible, that I would love to sit down with my Guardian Angel, and chat about things over a cigar and a glass or two of Drambuie, and a darned fine steak. A meaningless impulse, since Angels probably do not consume things like that. But, one born of gratitude and love, nevertheless.

One notion about Angels that I am pretty sure we need to dispel is that Angels are the souls of people who have died, gone to Heaven, and "earned their wings." Frank Capra, God love him, really planted that one firmly in the American psyche in It's A Wonderful Life. But it is wrong. Angels are a separate order of creation. People do not become Angels. They can become Saints. Not Angels. Angels never were people living on earth. Saints were. Therefore, we ask for the intercession of "All the Angels and Saints." We are praying for the prayerful assistance of two different and non-overlapping groups.

People who thrive off popular culture over the last 20 years or so have gone absolutely ga-ga over Angels. Most of what we see about them is sickly-sweet and sentimental in the extreme. And even in these very traditional Catholic images of Guardian Angels, the people they are guarding are always depicted as children. Why are there no good traditional depictions of Guardian Angels watching over adults? My own upbringing did not emphasize the presence of our Guardian Angels. But I have felt the presence of mine strongly as an adult, and never more than in the last 9 years.

The powers of our Guardian Angels are impossible for us to fathom. They work in numerous ways. I know I have benefited from my Guardian Angel's power to delay me with something that annoys me, but delays me just enough to keep me from some catastrophe, like a wild car wreak.

The number of ways in which my own Guardian Angel watches out for me is incomprehensible. He must be working non-stop, and working not just in my vicinity and on what I am concentrating on at the moment, but in numerous vicinities and numerous spheres of my existence simultaneously. The power of the Guardian Angel to protect me in so many ways all the time is, while awesome to me, just a pale shadow of the power of God.

In a family, the various Guardian Angels of the household must cooperate with each other in interesting ways. They must be very sad when families break up.

We, each of us, owe our Guardian Angel thanks in so many ways, we can never adequately express it. Our Guardian Angel has done more for us than even our earthly parents. And, unlike our earthly parents, our Guardian Angel is always there until the moment we die, and probably still protecting us in Purgatory. Thank you, Guardian Angel. I love you.

Angel of God, my Guardian dear,
To whom God's love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and to guard, to rule and to guide.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Saint Remigius, Bishop and Confessor

Saint Remigius, much discussed in classes on early Medieval History, was the Bishop of Rheims who baptized Clovis, King of the Franks, winning the Merovingian Dynasty and all of whatg would become France for Holy Mother the Church. Saint Remigius, please pray for us!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

If Today Were Not A Sunday

It would be the feast of Saint Jerome, Confessor And Doctor Of the Church
The Golden Legend

The Catholic Encylopedia

A familiar image to old readers, once a banner image here at Recta Ratio

Saint Jerome, please pray for us!

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