Saturday, September 26, 2009

Our Blessed Lady's Saturday

Consecration To Our Lady Of Sorrows

Most holy Virgin
And Queen of Martyrs, Mary,
Would that I could be in Heaven,
There to contemplate
The honors rendered to thee
By the Most Holy Trinity
And by the whole Heavenly Court!

But since I am still
A pilgrim in this vale of tears,
Receive from me,
Thy unworthy servant and a poor sinner,
The most sincere homage
And the most perfect act of vassalage
A human creature can offer thee.

In thy Immaculate Heart,
Pierced with so many swords of sorrow,
I place today my poor soul forever;
Receive me as a partaker in thy dolors,
And never suffer that I should depart
From that Cross on which
Thy only begotten Son expired for me.

With thee, O Mary, I will endure
All the sufferings, contradictions, infirmities,
With which it will please thy Divine Son
To visit me in this life.

All of them I offer to thee,
In memory of the Dolors
Which thou didst suffer during thy life,
That every thought of my mind,
Every beating of my heart
May henceforward be an act
Of compassion to thy Sorrows,
And of complacency for the glory
Thou now enjoyest in Heaven.

Since then, O Dear Mother,
I now compassionate thy Dolors,
And rejoice in seeing thee glorified.
Do thou also have compassion on me,
And reconcile me to thy Son Jesus,
That I may become
Thy true and loyal son (daughter)
Come on my last day
And assist me in my last agony.
Even as thou wert present
At the Agony of thy Divine Son Jesus,
That from this painful exile
I may go to Heaven,
There to be made partaker of thy glory.


Saturday In the Michaelmas Embertide

This is the last Ember Day until Advent. It might be a nice idea to offer your Embertide fasting, abstinence, prayers, almsgiving, or other good works for the rapid release of that soul currently in Purgatory who was the most devoted to Our Blessed Lady on this day dedicated to her by the Church.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday In the Michaelmas Embertide

Today is an Ember Day, a day with a special emphasis on prayer, fasting, abstinence, almsgiving, and other good works. If you observe this Ember Day in this manner, may I suggest that you offer your sacrifices, prayers, or works for the Holy Souls In Purgatory.


Friday At the Foot Of the Cross


Little headaches, little heartaches
Little griefs of every day,
Little trials and vexations,
How they throng around our way!
One great Cross, immense and heavy,
So it seems to our weak will,
Might be borne with resignation,
But these many small ones kill,
Yet all life is formed of small things,
Little leaves, make up the trees,
Many tiny drops of water
Blending, make the mighty seas.
Let us not then by impatience
Mar the beauty of the whole,
But for love of Jesus bear all
In the silence of our soul.
Asking Him for grace sufficient
To sustain us through each loss,
And to treasure each small offering
As a splinter from His Cross.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Today Is Not An Ember Day

But tomorrow and Saturday are Ember Days.


Our Lady Of Walsingham

Actually, the Universal Church embraces many dates in the Ordo that are dual feasts of Blessed Lady. The feast of Our Lady of Walsingham is particular to England. Walsingham was the primary Marian Shrine in England prior to the protestant rebellion. It is a Catholic shrine still, but jointly controlled with the Church of England, and the faintest shadow of what it once was. Once England was so faithful as to be considered "Our Blessed Lady's Dowry." Not only did the protestants wreck the place, they actively tried to exterminate Our Blessed Lady's most ardent clients there. And the name of Queen Elizabeth I's spymaster and primary persecutor of the Church, was named Francis Walsingham.

In the wracks of Walsingam
Whom should I chuse
But the Queene of Walsingam
To be guide to my muse?

Then, thou Prince of Walsingam
Graunt me to frame
Bitter plaintes to rewe thy wronge
Bitter wo for thy name.

Bitter was it, oh to see
The sely sheepe
Murdered by the raveninge wolves
While the sheepharde did sleep.

Bitter was it, oh, to viewe
The sacred vyne
Whiles the gardiners plaied all close
Rooted up by the swine.

Such were the worth of Walsingam
While she did stand
Such are the wrackes as now do shewe
Of that (so) holy lande.

Levell, levell with the ground
The Towres doe lye
Which with their golden, glit-t'ring tops
Pearsed oute to the skye.

Where weare gates noe gates are nowe,
The waies unknowen,
Where the presse of freares did passe
While her fame far was blowen.

Oules do scrike where the sweetest himnes
Lately wear songe,
Toades and serpents hold their dennes
Where the palmers did throng.

Weep, weep O Walsingam,
Whose dayes are nightes,
Blessings turned to blasphemies,
Holy deedes to dispites.

Sinne is where our Ladye sate,
Heaven turned is to helle;
Sathan sitte where our Lord did swaye,
Walsingam, oh, farewell!

From Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars


Our Lady Of Ransom

This feast was instituted because of Our blessed Lady's private revelations that led to the founding of the Mercedarians, an order devoted to the ransom of Christians held captive by Moslems.


Now That It Is Officially Autumn

New Hampshire's Lakes Region. The colors have not reached this level yet this year.

Here is the first New England Foliage Network report of the fall.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nostalgia For the Country Of My Ancestors (Some Of Them, Anyway)

I recently stumbled across the Clare County Census of 1901, which is now available on line. I recall reading something some years ago that it was a work in progress then, but had forgotten about it. Well, when doing something else, I just happened to stumble across it, and, mirabile dictu, was able to find both of my Irish grandparents, as well as all four of my Irish great-grandparents. And in just a few minutes!

My grandmother, the only grandparent I really knew as she lived until August, 1977, is listed as a 5-year old "scholar" (the generic census term for student), who could read and write, and spoke English (but not Irish). Her Shannahan parents were 35 (my great-grandfather Michael) and 28 (my great-grandmother Bridget). She was the third of 6 daughters. She used to speak of a brother Stephen, so he must have been born after 1901, or died before then. My great-grandfather was a laborer, who couldn't read or write, but spoke both Irish and English. My great-grandmother could read and write, and was also bi-lingual. All the girls are listed as speaking English only. The youngest girls alive in 1901 were 2 years of age, and only 3 months old. The family is listed as living in Letterkelly, which is different from what I had thought. The fact that my great-grandparents were still young, and still producing children on a regular basis means that there may have been more of them born after 1901.

My grandfather was 15, a scholar, and listed as reading and writing and speaking both Irish and English. My grandfather's family (he was the second of 3 sons and 3 daughters) were living in Lahinch, which makes sense since my grandfather went on to become a golf pro, and Lahinch has one of the best and most famous links in Ireland. Also it has a famous beach. Where did the family end up in Massachusetts after the Great War, and the onset of the Irish Civil War? Scituate, the so-called "Irish Riviera," with a great beach and good golf course. Nothing like picking a spot as close to what you are used to as possible when resettling! Both of my grandfather's parents could read and write, and spoke both Irish and English. My great-grandfather, Patrick Fitzpatrick, was 50 in 1901, while his wife, Susan, was 40. He was a tailor, as was his oldest son, Austin.

This was quite a stunner for me. To just come across this in an idle moment. This puts the center of gravity of the family a little further north than I had thought. This means that the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Aran Islands would have been the near neighborhood, not so much Ennis, Limerick, and the Shannon.

Here is Robbie O'Connell performing Kilkelly, Ireland:


My Mother's Eleventh Anniversary

Eleven years ago today, my mother died of pneumonia after a hernia operation, at the age of 75. She had been suffering from dementia for some years prior to that. My father had died at the age of 69 about 7 years prior to her death.

As with all who have lost loved ones, the way the news came remains a vivid memory. I walked into my office early, as I always did, put on a pot of coffee, and then checked voice mail. A call from the hospital to call them. At 6:30 am. Never good news when the hospital calls at 6:30.

O God, Who hast commanded us to honor our father and mother, look in the tenderness of Thy mercy upon the souls of George, my father, and Kathryn, my mother, and forgive them their sins, and grant unto me the joy of seeing them again in the glorious light of everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord.

V. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord.
R. And may perpetual light shine upon her.
V. May she rest in peace.
R. Amen.

An Irish boy was leaving,
leaving his own native home,
Crossing the broad Atlantic,
once more he wished to roam;
And as he was leaving his mother,
while standing on the quay,
She threw her arms around his neck
and these were the words she said:

A mother's love's a blessing,
no matter where you roam,
Keep her while she's living,
you'll miss her when she's gone;
Love her as in childhood,
though feeble, old and grey,
For you'll never miss your mother
'til she's buried beneath the clay.

And as the years go onward,
I'll settle down in life,
I'll find a nice young colleen,
and make her my sweet wife;
And as the kids grow older
and climb around my knee,
I'll teach them the very same lesson that
my mother once taught to me.

A mother's love's a blessing,
no matter where you roam,
Keep her while she's living,
you'll miss her when she's gone;
Love her as in childhood,
though feeble, old and grey,
For you'll never miss your mother
'til she's buried beneath the clay.


Saint Padre Pio Of Pietrelcina

Because Saint Padre Pio was canonized after 1962, his feast does not appear in the 1962 Ordo. But he is one of my very favorite saints, one who I thank and beg help from everyday. I have read much about him, and every Holy Week use his meditations on the Agony In the Garden for my own devotions.

Here is his Prayer After Communion, which is part of my daily prayer routine:

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have Thee present so that I do not forget Thee. Thou know how easily I abandon Thee.
Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Thy strength, that I may not fall so often.
Stay with me, Lord, for Thou art my life, and without Thee, I am without fervor.
Stay with me, Lord, for Thou art my light, and without Thee, I am in darkness.
Stay with me, Lord, to show me Thy will.
Stay with me, Lord, so that I may hear Thy voice and follow Thee.
Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love Thee very much, and always be in Thy company.
Stay with me, Lord, if Thou wishest me to be faithful to Thee.
Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I wish it to be a place of consolation for Thee, a nest of Love.
Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and life passes: death, judgement, eternity approach. It is necessary to renew my strength, so that I will not fall by the wayside and for that, I need Thee.
It is getting late and death approaches. I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows. O how I need Thee, my Jesus, in this night of exile!
Stay with me today, Jesus, in life with all its dangers, I need Thee.
Let me recognize Thee as Thy disciples did in the breaking of bread, so that the Eucharistic Communion be the light which disperses the darkness, the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.
Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to Thee, if not by Communion, at least by grace and love.
Stay with me, Jesus, I do not ask for divine consolation, because I do not merit it, but, the gift of Thy Presence, oh yes, I ask this of Thee!
Stay with me, Lord, for it is Thee alone I look for. Thy Love, Thy Grace, Thy Will, Thy Heart, Thy Spirit, because I love Thee and ask no other reward but to love Thee more and more.
With a firm love, I will love Thee with all my heart while on earth and continue to love Thee, perfectly, during all eternity.

Saint Pio, please pray for us.


Wednesday Of the Michaelmas Embertide

Today is an Ember Day, the first day of the Michaelmas Embertide. It is a day for special fasting, prayer, abstinence, almsgiving, and other good works. Ember Days are part of the Church's traditional means of marking the passing of the seasons.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Saint Thomas of Villanova

This incredible exemplar of charity serves as a reminder to us as we prepare for the Michaelmas Embertide, when extra almsgiving is on the agenda. He gave away all he had, and died poorer than the poorest subject of his charity in life.

Saint Thomas of Villanova, pray for us!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekend Sports Wrap-Up

A mixed bag for Boston sports fans.

The best news is that the Red Sox swept the hapless Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore this weekend, closing the gap in the American League East to just 5 games, and widening their lead for the AL Wild Card to 8 games over Texas. Barring a major catastrophe similar to what hit them just after the All Star break, they will be in the playoffs, and will probably play the Angels in the first round.

The worst news is that the New England Patriots were upset by the New York Jets in the Meadowlands. That puts them at 1-1 on the season.

Not unexpected, but still bad news, is that Boston College was blown out by Clemson, after crushing Northeastern and Kent State in the first two games. The Eagles need to win 6 games to be bowl-eligible, and that looks like it might be a tough order in this rebuilding year.

On the positive side, my Saint John's Prep Eagles are 2-0 on the young season, with wins over Central Catholic this past weekend, and Peabody last weekend. They got off to a fast start last year, and then floundered later, so let us hope for a better result this year.


Remember, It's Ember!

Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of this week are the Michaelmas Embertide, the seasonal penitential period marked by extra fasting, abstinence, prayer, almsgiving, and other good works.


Saint Matthew

This is what The Golden Legend has to say about St. Matthew the Evangelist and Apostle.

The Calling of Saint Matthew, by Caravaggio c. 1600.

Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, pray for us!


Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost

From The Liturgical Year, by Abbot Prosper Gueranger, OSB:

THE resuscitation of the son of the widow of Naim, on which our thoughts were fixed last Sunday, has reanimated the confidence of our beloved mother, the Church; her prayer goes up all the more earnestly to her Spouse, who leaves her on earth, for a time, that she may grow dearer to Him by sufferings and tears. Let us, of course, enter into the sentiments which guided her in the choice of to-day's Introit.

Such is our inability in the work of salvation, that, unless grace prevent, that is, anticipate, us, we cannot have so much as the thought of doing what is holy; and again, unless it follow up the inspirations it has given us, and lead them to a happy termination, we shall never be able to pass from the simple thought to the act of any virtue whatsoever. If, on the other hand, we be faithful to grace, our life will be one uninterrupted tissue of good works. Let us, in our Collect, ask, both for ourselves and for all our neighbours, the persevering continuity of this most precious aid.

Holy Church here tells us, and in a most unmistakable way, what has been her chief aim for her children ever since the feast of Pentecost. The wedding spoken of in to-day's Gospel is that of heaven, of which there is a prelude given here below, by the union effected in the sacred banquet of holy Communion. The divine invitation is made to all; and the invitation is not like that which is given on occasion of earthly weddings, to which the bridegroom and bride invite their friends and relatives as simple witnesses to the union contracted between two individuals. In the Gospel wedding, Christ is the Bridegroom, and the Church is the bride.33 These nuptials are ours, inasmuch as we are members of the Church; and the banquet-hall, in this case, is something far superior to that of a commonplace marriage.

But, that this union be as fruitful as it ought to be, the soul, in the sanctuary of her own conscience, must bring with her a fidelity which is to be an enduring one, and a love which is to be active, even when the feast of the sacred mysteries is past. Divine union, when it is genuine, masters one's entire being. It fixes one in the untiring contemplation of the beloved Object, in the earnest attention to His interests, in the continual aspiration of the heart towards Him, even when He seems to have absented Himself from the soul. The bride of the divine nuptials should be no less intent on her God, than those of earth are on their earthly spouse,34 It is on this condition alone, that the Christian soul can be said to have entered on the unitive life, or can yield its precious fruits.

But, for the attainment of all this--that is, that our Lord Jesus Christ may have that full control over the soul and its powers which makes her to be truly His, and subjects her to Him as the bride to her Spouse35--it is necessary that all alien competition be entirely and definitively put aside. Now, there is one sad fact, which everyone knows: the divinely noble Son of the eternal Father, the Incarnate Word whose beauty enraptures the heavenly citizens,36 the immortal King, whose exploits and power and riches are beyond all that the children of men can imagine37--has rivals, human rivals, who pretend to have stronger claims than He to creatures whom He has redeemed from slavery, and invited to share with Him the honours of His throne. Even in the case of those whom His loving mercy succeeds in winning over wholly to Himself, is He not frequently kept waiting, for perhaps years, before they can make up their minds to be wise enough to take Him? During that long period of unworthy wavering, He loses not His patience, He does not turn elsewhere as He might in all justice do, but He keeps on asking them to be wholly His,38 mercifully waiting for some secret touch of one of His graces, joined with the unwearied labour of the Holy Ghost, to get the better of all this inconceivable resistance.

Let us not be surprised at the Church bringing the whole influence of her liturgy to bear on the winning of souls to Christ; for every such conquest she makes for Him is a fresh and closer bond of union between herself and her Lord. This explains how, on some of these previous Sundays, she has given us such admirable instructions regarding the efforts of the triple concupiscence. Earthly pleasures, pride, and covetousness, are really the treacherous advisers, who excite within us, against God's claims, those impertinent rivals of whom we were just now speaking. Having now reached the sixteenth week of this season of the reign of the Holy Ghost, and taking, it for granted that her sons and daughters are in right good earnest about their Christian perfection, the Church hopes that they have fairly unmasked the enemy. To-day, therefore, hoping that her teaching will not fail to impress us, and that we shall no longer put off our most loving Jesus, she proposes to us, in the allegory of our Gospel, the great mystery of love of which He Himself has said: 'The kingdom of heaven is likened to a King, who made a marriage for His Son.'39

But, after all, her anxiety as mother and bride never allows her to make quite sure of even her best and dearest children, so long as they are in this world. In order to keep them on their guard against falling into sin, she bids them listen to St. Ambrose, whom she has selected as her homilist for this Sunday. He addresses himself to the Christian who has become a veteran in the spiritual combat, and tells him that concupiscence has snares without end, even for him! Alas! he may trip, any day; he has gone far, perhaps very far, on the road to the kingdom of God, but, even so, he may go wrong, and be for ever shut out from the marriage feast, together with heretics, pagans, and Jews. Let him be on the watch, then, or he may become tainted with those sins, from which, hitherto, thanks to God's grace, he has kept clear. Let him take heed, or he may become like the man mentioned in to-day's Gospel, who had the dropsy; and dropsy, says our saintly preacher of Milan, is a morbid exuberance of humours, which stupefy the soul, and induce a total extinction of spiritual ardour. And yet, even if he were to have such a fall as that, let him not forget that the heavenly physician is ever ready to cure him.

The saint, in this short homily, condenses the whole of St. Luke's fourteenth chapter, of which we have been reading but a portion; and he shows, a little farther on, that attachment to the goods of this life is opposed to the ardour which should carry us on the wings of the spirit, towards the heaven where lives and reigns our loved One.'40But, above all, it is to the constant attitude and exercise of humility that he must especially direct his attention who would secure a prominent place in the divine feast of the nuptials. All saints are ambitious for future glory of this best kind; but they are well aware that, in order to win it, they must go low down, during the present life, into their own nothingness; the higher in the world to come, the lower in this. Until the great day dawn, when each one is to receive according to his works,41 we shall lose nothing by putting ourselves, meanwhile, below everybody. The position reserved for us in the kingdom of heaven depends not, in the least, either upon our own thoughts about ourselves, or upon the judgment passed on us by other people; it depends solely on the will of God, who exalteth the humble, and bringeth down the mighty from their seat.42 Let us hearken to Ecclesiasticus. 'The greater thou art, the more humble thyself in all things, and thou shalt find grace before God; for great is the power of God alone, and He is honoured by the humble.'43 Were it only, then, from a motive of self-interest, let us follow the advice of the Gospel, and, in all things, claim, as our own, the last place. Humility is not sterling, and cannot please God, unless, to the lowly estimation we have of ourselves, we join an esteem for others, preventing everyone with honour,44 gladly yielding to all in matters which do not affect our conscience; and all this, from a deep-rooted conviction of our own misery and worthlessness in the sight of Him who searches the reins and heart.45 The surest test of our humility before God, is that practical charity for our neighbour, which, in the several circumstances of everyday life, induces us, and without affectation, to give him the precedence over ourselves. On the contrary, one of the most unequivocal proofs of the falseness of certain so-called spiritual ways, into which the enemy sometimes leads incautious souls, is the lurking contempt wherewith he inspires them for one or more of their acquaintance; it is dormant, perhaps, habitually, but when occasion offers--and it frequently offers--they allow it to influence their thoughts, and words, and actions. To a greater or less extent, and, it may be, with more or less unconsciousness, self-esteem is the basis of the structure of their virtues; but, as for the illuminations, and mystical sweetnesses, which these people sometimes tell their intimate friends they enjoy, they may be quite sure that such favours do not come to them from the holy Spirit. When the substantial light of the Sun of justice shall appear in the valley of the judgment, all counterfeits of this kind will be made evident,46 and they that trusted to them, and spent their lives in petting such phantoms, will find them all vanishing in smoke. Having then to take a much lower place than the one they dreamt of, they may reckon it a solace, that some place is still given them at the divine banquet. They will have to thank God that their chastisement goes no farther than the shame of seeing those very people passing high up in honour above them, for whom, during life, they had such utter contempt.

The greater the conquests made by the Church, the greater are the efforts of hell to destroy the souls of her dear children. This fearful danger calls for her fervent prayers; and our Offertory-anthem is one of these.


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