Saturday, May 12, 2018
From The Glories Of Mary, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori:
O Queen and Mother of mercy, who dispensest graces to all who have recourse to thee with so much liberality, because thou art a Queen, and with so much love, because thou art our most loving Mother; to thee do I, who am so devoid of merit and virtue, and so loaded with debts to the divine justice, recommend myself this day.
O Mary, thou holdest the keys of all the divine mercies; forget not my miseries, and leave me not in my poverty. Thou art so liberal with all, and givest more than thou art asked for, O, be thus liberal with me.
O Lady, protect me; this is all that I ask of thee. If thou protectest me, I fear nothing. I fear not the evil spirits; for thou art more powerful than all of them. I fear not my sins; for thou by one word canst obtain their full pardon from God. And if I have thy favor, I do not even fear an angry God; for a single prayer of thine will appease him. In fine, if thou protectest me, I hope all; for thou art all-powerful.
O Mother of mercy, I know that thou takest pleasure and dost glory in helping the most miserable, and, provided they are not obstinate, that thou canst help them. I am a sinner, but am not obstinate; I desire to change my life. Thou canst, then, help me; O, help me and save me. I now place myself entirely in thy hands. Tell me what I msut do in order to please God, and I am ready for all, and hope to do all with thy help, O Mary—Mary my Mother, my light, my consolations, my refuge, my hope.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
Friday, May 11, 2018
From The Glories Of Mary, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori:
Behold at thy feet, O Mary my hope, a poor sinner, who has so many times been by his own fault the slave of hell. I know that by neglecting to have recourse to thee, my refuge, I allowed myself to be overcome by the devil. Had I always had recourse to thee, had I always invoked thee, I certainly should not have fallen.
I trust, O Lady most worthy of all our love, that through thee I have already escaped from the hands of the devil, and that God has pardoned me. But I tremble lest at some future period I may again fall into the same bonds. I know that my enemies have not lost the hope of again overcoming me, and already they prepare new assaults and temptations for me.
O, my Queen and refuge, do thou assist me. Place me under thy mantle; permit me not again to become their slave. I know that thou wilt help me and give me the victory, provided I invoke thee; but I dread lest in my temptations I may forget thee, and neglect to do so.
The favor, then, that I seek of thee, and which thou must grant me, O most holy Virgin, is that I may never forget thee, and especially in time of temptation; grant that I may then repeatedly invoke thee, saying, "O Mary, help me; O Mary, help me."
And when my last struggle with hell comes, at the moment of death, then, my Queen, help me more than ever, and thou thyself remind me to call on thee more frequently either with my lips or in my heart; that, being thus filled with confidence, I may expire with thy sweet name and that of thy Son Jesus on my lips; that so I may be able to bless thee and praise thee, and not depart from thy feet in Paradise for all eternity.
Thursday, May 10, 2018
From The Glories Of Mary, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori:
O Mother of God, Queen of angels and hope of men, give ear to one who calls upon thee and has recourse to thy protection. Behold me this day prostrate at thy feet; I, a miserable slave of hell, devote myself entirely to thee. I desire to be forever thy servant. I offer myself to serve and honor thee to the utmost of my power during the whole of my life.
I know that the service of one so vile and miserable can be no honor to thee, since I have so grievously offended Jesus, thy Son and my Redeemer. But if thou wilt accept one so unworthy for thy servant, and by thy intercession change me, and thus making me worthy, this very mercy will give thee that honor which so miserable a wretch as I can never give thee.
Receive me, then, and reject me not, O my Mother. The Eternal Word came from heaven on earth to seek for lost sheep, and to save them he became thy Son. And when one of them goes to thee to find Jesus, wilt thou despise it?
The price of my salvation is already paid; my Savior has already shed his blood, which suffices to save an infinity of worlds. This blood has only to be applied even to such a one as I am. And that is thy office, O Blessed Virgin; to thee does it belong, as I am told by St. Bernard, to dispense the merits of this blood to whom thou pleasest. To thee does it belong, says St. Bonaventure, to save whomsoever thou willest, "whomsoever thou willest will be saved" ("Quem vis, ipse salvus erit").
Oh, then, help me, my Queen; my Queen, save me. To thee do I this day consecrate my whole soul; do thou save it. O salvation of those who invoke thee, I conclude in the words of the same saint, "O salvation of those who call upon thee, do thou save me" ("O Salus te invocantium!").
Happily, the Archdiocese of Boston adheres to the old rule, that the Ascension falls 40 days after Easter, on a Thursday. And even if it didn't, since I follow the 1962 Ordo (with some exceptions and additions) today would still be Ascension Thursday, a holy day of obligation.
Wednesday, May 09, 2018
O most pure Virgin Mary, I venerate thy most holy heart, which was the delight and resting-place of God, thy heart overflowing with humility, purity, and divine love.
I, an unhappy sinner, approach thee with a heart all loathsome and wounded. O compassionate Mother, disdain me not on this account; let such a sight rather move thee to greater tenderness, and excite thee to help me. Do not stay to seek virtues or merit in me before assisting me. I am lost, and the only thing I merit is hell. See only my confidence in thee and the purpose I have to amend. Consider all that Jesus has done and suffered for me, and then abandon me if thou canst.
I offer thee all the pains of his life; the cold that he endured in the stable; his journey into Egypt; the blood which he shed; the poverty, sweats, sorrows, and death that he endured for me; and this in thy presence. For the love of Jesus, take charge of my salvation.
O, my Mother, I will not and cannot fear that thou wilt reject me, now that I have recourse to thee and ask thy help. Did I fear this, I should be offering an outrage to thy mercy, which goes in quest of the wretched, in order to help them.
O Lady, deny not thy compassion to one to whom Jesus has not denied his blood. But the merits of this blood will not be applied to me unless thou recommendest me to God. Through thee do I hope for salvation. I ask not for riches, honors, or earthly goods. I seek only the grace of God, love towards thy Son, the accomplishment of his will, and his heavenly kingdom, that I may love him eternally.
Is it possible that thou wilt not hear me? No; for already thou has granted my prayer, as I hope; already thou prayest for me; already thou obtainest me the graces that I ask; already thou takest me under thy protection. My Mother, abandon me not. Never, never cease to pray for me, until thou seest me safe in heaven at thy feet, blessing and thanking thee forever.
The Church's manner of accommodating so many varying interests has been to foster guilds devoted to these aspects of Catholic piety. The creation of a group of people devoted to a particular aspect of the Faith allows like-minded folks to interact, but at the same time keeps them within the bounds of our Mother the Church. The Church, in the modern parlance, is a "Big Tent." So long as you adhere to the Magesterium in matters of faith and morals, and live within the Church and its teachings, no one is going to make a fuss if you prefer to pray to St. Michael as the escort of souls, or to St. Joseph as the patron of a happy death, or to the general patronage of Our Blessed Lady, when you pray for a happy and holy death.
Guilds for a particular devotion have a long history, and were present in England before the protestant rebellion. They thrived in the 19th century, and were still going strong before the post-Vatican II tidal wave nearly wrecked everything. I believe, though I don't have any evidence to support this at the moment, that they are making a quiet comeback today. Where the Church is healthy, you will still find active St. Vincent de Paul Societies, and busy Holy Name Societies. The Spanish Penitents I profiled during Holy Week are modern devotional guilds.
As I said, the devotional guilds were a part of Catholic life well before the 1500s. And of course, as the parish community processed on important feast days, like the Rogation Days, the guilds took part. The processed together as a group (and one can imagine that the parish priest had to diplomatically allot the guilds' respective places in the procession).
Each group had some sort of banner. Often these banners were ephemeral, like the felt things one sees in churches today. But sometimes they were crafted symbols of the guild.
I have only found one image of surviving guild banners for procession. They are from France, and probably do not predate the French Revolution.
But one can see a Catholic community dividing itself into its "little platoons" and processing behind the Crucifix and the parish priest in small groups as they perambulate the parish, asking blessing on the crops, praying the Litany of the Saints, and beating the bounds of the parish.
Tuesday, May 08, 2018
O my most sweet Mother, how shall I die, poor sinner that I am? Even now the thought of that important moment when I must expire, and appear before the judgment seat of God, and the remembrance that I have myself so often written my condemnation by consenting to sin, makes me tremble. I am confounded, and fear much for my eternal salvation.
O Mary, in the blood of Jesus, and in thy intercession, is all my hope. Thou art the Queen of Heaven, the mistress of the universe; in short, thou art the Mother of God. Thou art great, but thy greatness does not prevent, nay even it inclines thee to greater compassion towards us in our miseries.
Worldly friends, when raised to dignity, disdain to notice their former friends who may have fallen into distress. Thy noble and loving heart does not act thus, for the greater the miseries it beholds, the greater are its efforts to relieve. Thou, when called upon, dost immediately assist; nay more, thou dost anticipate our prayers by thy favors; thou consolest us in our afflictions; thou dissipatest the storms by which we are tossed about; thou overcomest all enemies; thou, in fine, never losest an occasion to promote our welfare.
May that divine hand which has united in thee such majesty and such tenderness, such greatness and so much love, be forever blessed! I thank my Lord for it, and congratulate myself in having so great an advantage; for truly in thy felicity do I place my own, and I consider thy lot as mine.
O comfortress of the afflicted, console a poor creature who recommends himself to thee. The remorse of a conscience overburdened with sin fills me with affliction. I am in doubt as to whether I have sufficiently grieved for them. I see that all my actions are sullied and defective; hell awaits my death in order to accuse me; the outraged justice of God demands satisfaction.
My Mother, what will become of me? If thou dost not help me, I am lost. What sayest thou, wilt thou assist me?
O compassionate Virgin, console me; obtain for me true sorrow for my sins; obtain for me strength to amend, and to be faithful to God during the rest of my life. And finally, when I am in the last agonies of death, O Mary, my hope, abandon me not; then, more than ever, help and encourage me, that I may not despair at the sight of my sins, which the evil one will then place before me.
My Lady, forgive my temerity; come thyself to comfort me with thy presence in that last struggle. This favor thou hast granted to many, grant it also to me. If my boldness is great, thy goodness is greater; for it goes in search of the most miserable to console them. On this I rely.
For thine eternal glory, let it be said that thou hast snatched a wretched creature from hell, to which he was already condemned, and that thou hast led him to thy kingdom. O yes, sweet Mother, I hope to have the consolation of remaining always at thy feet, in heaven, thanking and blessing and loving thee eternally. O Mary, I shall expect thee at my last hour; deprive me not of this consolation. Fiat, fiat. Amen, amen.
As time went by, with parish and property lines often marked by natural features like a protuberant stone, those boundary lines often became blurred and shifted, either through natural events (a stream drying up or shifting) or human action (moving a stone to move the property line). A parish might want to exclude a home from its territory if the inhabitants were poor and shiftless and likely to become a charge on the charity of the parish. Or it might want to include more affluent homes on the edge of the boundary.
So, over time, means were devised to create a living memory of just where the boundary line was, regardless of the natural features mentioned in any grants or deeds. What was devised was this. During one or more of the Rogation Processions, the young boys of the parish were brought along and enjoined to memorize the exact line of the boundary. The boys would be beaten with narrow sticks to ensure their proper memorization, and to chastise them if their memory was faulty. Thus, the "Beating of the Bounds."
Today, when a "Beating of the Bounds" occurs, it tends to be in England, and to be a High Church Anglican thing. They have the old territorial parishes and the parish churches, since the protestant rebellion. English Catholics today, having less official status and being more scattered, take little interest in such local displays. Also today, it appears that New Age pagans like to attach themselves to Beating of the Bounds processions during Rogationtide, since it is a seasonal fancy-dress occasion. And they are joined by morris dancers, town criers, handbell guilds, and so on.
But the origins of the procession and the beating of the bounds are firmly Catholic. Perhaps someday, the vehicle of the Rogation Procession will be reunited to the Catholic practice that gave rise to it.
Monday, May 07, 2018
O compassionate Mother, most sacred Virgin, behold at thy feet the traitor, who, by paying with ingratitude the graces received from God through thy means, has betrayed both thee and him. But I must tell thee, O most blessed Lady, that my misery, far from taking away my confidence, increases it; for I see that thy compassion is great in proportion to the greatness of my misery. Show thyself, O Mary, full of liberality towards me: for thus thou art towards all who invoke thy aid.
All that I ask is that thou shouldst cast thine eyes of compassion on me, and pity me. If thy heart is thus far moved, it cannot do otherwise than protect me: and if thou protectest me, what can I fear? No, I fear nothing; I do not fear my sins, for thou canst provide a remedy; I do not fear devils, for thou art more powerful than the whole of hell; I do not even fear thy Son, though justly irritated against me, for at a word of thine he will be appeased.
I only fear lest, in my temptations, and by my own fault, I may cease to recommend myself to thee, and thus be lost. But I now promise thee that I will always have recourse to thee; O, help me to fulfill my promise. Lose not the opportunity which now presents itself of gratifying thy ardent desire to succor such poor wretches as myself. In thee, O Mother of God, I have unbounded confidence.
From thee I hope for grace to bewail my sins as I ought, and from thee I hope for strength never again to fall into them. If I am sick, thou, O heavenly physician, canst heal me. If my sins have weakened me, thy help will strengthen me. O Mary, I hope all from thee; for thou art all-powerful with God.
From a University of Chicago site:
The Rogation Days are three (or four) days focused on agriculture and nature, where we pray for a good harvest, fruitful crops, good weather, and protection from flood, tornado, earthquake, and other natural disasters. Traditionally the Church offers these requests on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before the Feast of the Ascension, although some churches also add the Sunday before Ascension, before Rogation Monday. (The Catholic Church marks April 25 as the Major Rogation, and the days before Ascension as the Minor Rogation.)
Rogation comes from the Latin rogatio and French rogare, meaning "to ask." Fifth-century France was beset with a number of natural disasters, including floods, failing harvests, and an earthquake on Ascension (which always falls on a Thursday). In response to these calamities Mamertus, Bishop of Vienne, called for three days of prayer, fasting, and repentance, and this quickly became the custom for the three days preceding Ascension.
The observance of Rogation Days spread throughout Europe (In England, the days are also known as Gang-Days, Gang-Week, or Cross-Week.) Many churches led a procession around the town or parish boundaries on one of the Rogation Days, chanting a litany to the saints and offering prayers for a good year. This practice became known as "beating the bounds." George Herbert recommends this practice in A Country Parson (see chapter 25).
Many churches in farming communities continue to observe a traditional Rogation.Other churches are adapting the Rogation services to a technology-based society.
Read more about Rogation Days here, here, here, and here.
Sunday, May 06, 2018
From The Glories Of Mary, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori:
O Mother of holy love, our life, our refuge, and our hope, thou well knowest that thy son Jesus Christ, not content with being himself our perpetual advocate with the eternal Father, has willed that thou also shouldst interest thyself with him, in order to obtain the divine mercies for us. He has decreed that thy prayers should aid our salvation, and has made them so efficacious that they obtain all that they ask. To thee therefore, who art the hope of the miserable, do I, a wretched sinner, turn my eyes.
I trust, O Lady, that in the first place through the merits of Jesus Christ, and then through thy intercession, I shall be saved. Of this I am certain; and my confidence in thee is such, that if my eternal salvation were in my own hands, I should place it in thine, for I rely more on thy mercy and protection than on all my own works.
My mother and my hope, abandon me not, though I deserve that thou shouldst do so. See my miseries, and, being moved thereby with compassion, help and save me. I own that I have too often closed my heart, by my sins, against the lights and helps that thou hast procured for me from the Lord. But thy compassion for the miserable, and thy power with God, far surpass the number and malice of my sins.
It is well known to all, both in heaven and on earth, that whosoever is protected by thee is certainly saved. All may forget me, provided only that thou dost remember me, O Mother of an omnipotent God. Tell him that I am thy servant; say onl that thou defendest me, and I shall be saved. O mary, I trust in thee; in this hope I live; in it I desire and hope to die, repeating always, "Jesus is my only hope, and after Jesus the most Blessed Virgin Mary" ("Unica spes mea Jesus et post Jesum Virgo Maria").
In the Greek Church, the fifth Sunday after Easter is called the Sunday of the man born blind, because her Gospel for the day contains the history of that miracle of our divine Lord. She also calls it Episozomene, which is one of the names given by the Greeks to the mystery of the Ascension, the feast of which is kept with them, as with us, during the course of this week.
The holy apostle, whose instructions these are, had received them from our risen Jesus: hence the authoritative tone wherewith he speaks. Our Saviour, as we have already seen, honoured him with a special visit. This proves that he was particularly dear to his divine master, to whom he was related by the tie of consanguinity on his mother's side, whose name was Mary. This holy woman went on Easter morning to the sepulchre, in company with her sister Salome, and Magdalene. St. James the Less is indeed the apostle of Paschal Time, wherein everything speaks to us of the new life we should lead with our risen Lord. He is the apostle of good works, for it is from him that we have received this fundamental maxim of Christianity, that though faith be the first essential of a Christian, yet without works it is a dead faith, and will not save us.
He also lays great stress on our being attentive to the truths we have been taught, and on our guarding against that culpable forgetfulness, which plays such havoc with thoughtless souls. Many of those who have this year received the grace of the Easter mystery, will not persevere; and, the reason is, that they will allow the world to take up all their time and thoughts, whereas they should use the world as though they did not use it. [I Cor. vii. 31.] Let us never forget, that we must now walk in newness of life, in imitation of our risen Jesus, who dieth now no more.
The two Alleluia-versicles celebrate the glory of the Resurrection; but they also contain an allusion to the approaching Ascension. Jesus was born eternally from the Father; He came down to us; but now, in a few days, He is to return to his Father.
When, at His last Supper, our Saviour thus warned His apostles of His having soon to leave them, they were far from knowing Him thoroughly. True, they know that He came forth from God; but their faith was weak, and they soon lost it. Now that they are enjoying His company after His Resurrection, now that they have received such light from His instructions, they know Him better. He no longer speaks to them in proverbs; He teaches them everything they require to know in order to become the teachers of the whole world. It is now they might truly say to Him: We believe that thou camest forth from God! So much the more, then, do they understand what they are going to lose by His leaving them.
Our Lord begins now to reap the fruit of the word He has sown in their hearts: oh! how patiently has He waited for it! If He praised them for their faith, when they were with Him on the night of the last Supper, He may surely do so now that they have seen Him in the splendour of His Resurrection, and have been receiving such teaching from His lips. He said to them, at the last Supper: The Father loveth you, because ye have loved Me; how much more must the Father love them now, when their love for Jesus is so much increased! Let us be consoled by these words. Before Easter our love of Jesus was weak, and we were tepid in His service; but now that we have been enlightened and nourished by His mysteries, we may well hope that the Father loves us, for we love Jesus better than we did before. This dear Redeemer urges us to ask the Father, in His name, for everything we need. Our first want is perseverance in the spirit of Eastertide; let it be our most earnest prayer; let it be our intention now that we are assisting at the holy sacrifice, which is soon to bring Jesus upon our altar.
The Offertory is taken from the Psalms; it is an act of thanksgiving which the Christian, united with his risen Jesus, offers to God for having brought him to the new life, and made him the object of His choicest graces.