Saturday, August 20, 2011
Prayer Of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux to Our Blessed Lady
O Mary, blessed lady who found grace, engendered life and art the mother of our Salvation, may we come to thy Son through thee, so that He who was given to us through thee, may receive us through thee. May thy purity excuse our corruption. May thy humility, which is pleasing to God, implore pardon for our vanity. May thy abundant charity cover the multitude of our sins, and may thy glorious fruitfulness confer upon us an abundance of merits. Our Lady, our Mediatrix, our Advocate, reconcile us to thy Son, recommend us to thy Son, and present us to thy Son.
O blessed Lady, through the grace thou hast found, through the graces thou hast merited, through the mercy thou didst give birth to, grant us that by thy intercession, He, who through thee, deigned to share in our infirmities and misery, will makes us sharers of His glory and blessedness, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who is, above all, holy God forever.
Labels: Our Blessed Lady
Friday, August 19, 2011
Hail, saving Victim, offered for me and for all mankind on the gibbet of the cross! Hail, precious Blood, flowing from the wounds of my crucified Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and washing away all the sins of the whole world. Remember, O Lord, Thy creature which Thou hast redeemed by Thy Most Precious Blood.
Labels: Friday At the Foot Of the Cross
August 19th is the feast of this great Apostle of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Our Lord and Our Blessed Lady.
I had begun a serialization of his The Admirable Heart Of Mary, but the work came to a halt when I discovered that not all of this significantly large volume was already available on line, even in part, and that I would have to re-type virtually the whole book. Plus I had availability problems with the library copy I was using. Sloth on my part. Now I have no excuse, since I own the book itself. I hope to resume the serialization in the near future, and move on to his companion volume, The Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Here is one of his prayers to the Sacred Heart:
Oh, how good and delightful it is to dwell in the Heart of Jesus!
Thy Heart, O good Jesus, is a precious treasure, a precious pearl
which we have found by digging the field of Thy Body.
Who will cast aside this pearl? Nay, rather I will give all I have,
I will exchange all my thoughts and desires and purchase it.
I will cast all my care on the Heart of the Lord Jesus and He will
provide for me without fail. I will adore in this temple,
this Holy of Holies, this Ark of the Testament, and I will praise the name
of the Lord, saying with David, "I have found my heart that I may pray
to my God. And I have found the heart of my King, my Brother, my Friend,
the benign Jesus, and why shall I not adore?" Assuredly I shall pray.
For His Heart is mine. I will say it boldly, for Christ is my Head,
is not what belongs to my Head mine? Therefore as the eyes of my corporal
head are truly my eyes, so is my spiritual heart my heart.
Therefore, it is well with me: truly I have but one Heart with Jesus
and what wonder that there should be but one heart with the multitude of believers.
O most benevolent
and most merciful
Heart of Jesus,
imprint in our hearts
a perfect image
of your great mercy,
so that we may fulfil
You gave us:
as your Father
Mother of mercy,
so much misery,
so many poor people,
so many captives,
so many prisoners,
so many men and women
who suffer persecution
at the hands of their brothers and sisters,
so many defenseless people
so many afflicted souls, so many troubled hearts.
Mother of mercy, open the eyes
of your clemency and see our desolation.
Open the ears of your goodness
and hear our supplication.
Most loving and most powerful advocate,
show that You are truly the Mother of Mercy. Amen.
And another to the Immaculate Heart of Our Blessed Lady:
Hail Mary! Daughter of God the Father,
Hail Mary! Mother of God the Son,
Hail Mary! Spouse of God the Holy Ghost,
Hail Mary! Temple of the Most Blessed Trinity,
Hail Mary! Celestial Rose of the ineffable love of God.
Hail Mary! Virgin pure and humble, of whom the King of Heaven willed to be born and with thy milk to be nourished.
Hail Mary! Virgin of virgins,
Hail Mary! Queen of Martyrs, whose soul a sword transfixed,
Hail Mary! Lady most Blessed! unto whom all power in Heaven and earth is given,
Hail Mary! my Queen and my Mother! my Life, my Sweetness, and my Hope,
Hail Mary! Mother most Amiable,
Hail Mary! Mother most Admirable,
Hail Mary! Mother of Divine Love,
Hail Mary! IMMACULATE; Conceived without sin!
Hail Mary! Full of Grace! the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women! And blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, JESUS!
Blessed by thy Spouse, St. Joseph,
Blessed by thy Father, St. Joachim,
Blessed by thy Mother, St. Anne,
Blessed by thy Guardian, St. John,
Blessed by thy Holy Angel, St. Gabriel,
Glory be to God the Father, who chose thee,
Glory be to God the Son, who loved thee,
Glory be to God the Holy Ghost, who espoused thee,
Glorious Virgin Mary, may all men love and praise thee,
Holy Mary, Mother of God! pray for us and bless us, now and at death in the Name of JESUS, thy Divine Son!
Saint Jean Eudes, please pray for us!
Labels: Our Saintly Brethern
Monday, August 15, 2011
Most Holy, Immaculate Virgin and my Mother Mary! To thee who art the Mother of my Lord, the Queen of the world, the Advocate, the Hope, and the Refuge of sinners, I have recourse today, I who am the most miserable of all.
I render thee my most humble homage, O great Queen, and I thank thee for all the graces thou hast conferred on me until now, especially for having delivered me from Hell, which I have so often deserved.
I love thee, O most amiable Lady; and for the love which I bear thee, I promise to serve thee always and to do all in my power to make others love thee also. I place in thee all my hopes; I confide my salvation to thy care.
Accept me for thy servant and receive me under thy mantle, O Mother of Mercy. And since thou art so powerful with God, deliver me from all temptations; or rather, obtain for me the strength to triumph over them until death. Of thee I ask a perfect love for Jesus Christ.
Through thee I hope to die a good death. O my Mother, by the love which thou bearest to God, I beseech thee to help me at all times, but especially at the last moment of my life. Leave me not, I beseech thee, until thou seest me safe in Heaven, blessing thee and singing thy mercies for all eternity.
Amen. Thus, I hope. Thus, may it be.
O Queen of heaven and earth! O Mother of the Lord of the world! O Mary, of all creatures the greatest, the most exalted and the most amiable! It is true that there are many in this world who neither know thee nor love thee; but in heaven there are many millions of angels and blessed spirits, who love and praise thee continually.
Even in this world, how many happy souls are there not who burn with thy love, and live enamoured of thy goodness! O, that I also could love thee, O Lady worthy of all love! O that I could always remember to serve thee, to praise thee, to honor thee, and engage all to love thee! Thou hast attracted the love of God, whom, by thy beauty, thou hast, so to say, torn from the bosom of His Eternal Father, and engaged to become man, and be thy Son.
And shall I, a poor worm of the earth, not be enamoured of thee? No, my most sweet Mother, I also will love thee much, and will do all that I can to make others love thee also.
Accept, then, O Mary, the desire that I have to love thee, and help me to execute it. I know how favorably thy lovers are looked upon by God. He, after his own glory, desires nothing more than thine, and to see thee honored and loved by all.
From thee, O Lady, do I expect all; through thee the remission of my sins, through thee perseverance. Thou must assist me at death, and deliver me from purgatory; and finally, thou must lead me to heavn. All this thy lovers hope from thee, and are not deceived. I, who love thee with so much affection, and above all other things, after God, hope for the same favors.
QUEEN of Heaven, most Holy Mary, I was once a slave of sin, but now I consecrate myself to thee as thy client forever. I give myself to thine honor and service for the rest of my life. Do not reject me as I deserve, but accept me as thy servant.
I have placed all my hope in thee as my Mother. I bless and thank Almighty God, because in His mercy He has given me this confidence in thee. It is true that in the past I have shamefully fallen into sin; but I trust that, through thy prayers and the merits of Jesus Christ, I have been forgiven. But yet, my Mother, this is not enough. One fear I have which troubles me: that I may fall into sin again and lose the grace of God.
The dangers are constant; my enemies never sleep; and new temptations will assail me. O my Lady, protect me. Help me in the assaults of Hell, so I may never again offend thy Divine Son Jesus.
Let not the same thing happen again, that I lose my soul, Heaven, and God. This is the grace I beg of thee, O Mary; this is what I long for; obtain this grace for me through thy prayers.
Thus, I hope. Thus, may it be.
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.
O my sovereign Queen and worthy Mother of my God, most holy Mary; I seeing myself, as I do, so despicable and loaded with so many sins, ought not to presume to call thee Mother, or even to approach thee; yet I will not allow my miseries to deprive me of the consolation and confidence that I feel in calling thee mother; I know well that I deserve that thou shouldst reject me; but I beseech thee to remember all that thy Son Jesus has endured for me, and then reject me if thou canst.
I am a wretched sinner, who, more than all others, have despised the infinite majesty of God: but the evil is done. To thee have I recourse; thou canst help me; my Mother, help me. Say not that thou canst not do so; for I know that thou art all-powerful, and that thou obtainest whatever thou desirest of God; and if thou sayest that thou wilt not help me, tell me at least to whom I can apply in this my so great misfortune. "Either pity me," will I say with the devout St. Anselm, "O my Jesus, and forgive me, and do thou pity me, my Mother Mary, by interceding for me, or at least tell me to whom I can have recourse, who is more compassionate, or in whom I can have greater confidence than in thee" ("Aut miseremini miseri, tu parcendo, tu interveniendo; aut ostendite, ad quos tutius fugiam misericordiores; et monstrate, in quibus certius confidam potentiores"—Orat. 50).
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!").
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.
Labels: Our Blessed Lady
Sunday, August 14, 2011
THE lamentation over Jerusalem’s woes, the subject of to-day’s Gospel, has given its name to this ninth Sunday after Pentecost, at least among the Latins. We have already observed that it is easy to find, even in the liturgy as it now stands, traces of how the early Church was all attention to the approaching fulfilment of the prophecies against Jerusalem—that ungrateful city upon which our Jesus heaped His earliest favours. The last limit put by mercy upon justice has, at length, been passed. Our Lord, speaking of the ruin of Sion and its temple, had foretold that the generation that was listening to His words should not pass until what He had announced should be fulfilled.1 The almost forty years accorded to Juda, that he might avert the divine wrath, have had no other effect than to harden the people of deicides in their determination not to accept Christ as the Messiah. As a torrent, which, having been long pent back, rushes along all the fiercer when the embankment breaks, vengeance at length burst on the ancient Israel; it was in the year 70 that was executed the sentence he himself had passed when, delivering up his King and God to the Gentiles,2he had cried out: ‘His blood be upon us and upon our children!’3Even as early as the year 67, Rome, irritated by the senseless insolence of the Jews, had deputed Flavius Vespasian to avenge the insult. The fact of this new general being scarcely known was, in reality, the strongest reason for Nero’s approving of his nomination; but to the hitherto obscure family of this soldier God reserved the empire, as a reward for the service done to divine justice by this Flavius and his son Titus. Later on, Titus will see and acknowledge4that it is not Rome but God Himself who conducts the war and commands the legions. Moses, ages before, had seen the nation, whose tongue Israel could not understand, rushing like an eagle upon the chosen people, and punishing them for their sins.5But no sooner has the Roman eagle reached the land where he is to work the vengeance, than he finds himself visibly checked by a superior power; and his spirit of rapine is held back, or urged on, precisely as the prophets of the Lord of hosts had foretold. The piercing eye of that eagle, as eager to obey as it was to fight, almost seemed to be scrutinizing the Scriptures. It was actually here that he found the order of the day for the terrible years of the campaign.6
As an illustration of this, we may mention what happened inthe year 66. The army of Syria, under the leadership of Cestius Gallus, had encamped under the walls of Jerusalem. Our Lord intended this to be nothing more, in His plan, than a warning to His faithful ones, which He had promised them when foretelling the events that were to happen. He had said: ‘When ye shall hear of wars, and seditions, and rumours of wars, be not terrified; these things must first come to pass; but the end is not yet presently.7 But when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed about with an army, then know that the desolation thereof is at hand.’8 The Jews had been for years angering Rome by their revolts, but she bore with it all, if not patiently, contemptuously; but when, in one of these seditions, Roman blood had been spilt, then she was provoked and sent her legions. Her army, however, had first of all to furnish Jesus’ disciples with a sign;9 He had promised them that this sign should consist in her ‘compassing Jerusalem,’ then withdrawing for a time; this would give the Christians an opportunity of quitting the accursed city. The Roman proconsul had his troops stationed so near to Jerusalem that it seemed as though he had but to give the word of command and the war would be over; instead of that, he gave the strange order to retreat, and throw up the victory which he might have if he wished.10Cestius Gallus seemed to men to have lost his senses; but no, he was following, without being aware of it, the commands of heaven. Jesus had promised an escape to His loved ones; He fulfilled His promise by this unwitting instrument.
Vespasian himself had scarcely started for Judea when he met with one of those divine adjournments which all the Roman tactics were several times powerless to resist; the hour marked for them to act had not come, so they must wait, however reluctantly. The preordained counsel of the Most High decreed that before all these things11which men were to bring about, before the already broken sceptre of the ancient alliance12should have disappeared in the flames enkindled by the Jews themselves13—the establishment of the new Testament was to be solidly set up among the Gentiles, and be solemnly confirmed by the blood of the apostles, its witnesses.14It was on June 29 in the year 67 that Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom in the city of Rome. Rome was thus made the mother-Church; and the reign of the Messiah, whom Israel rejected, was promulgated to the whole world, with an evidence which only the voluntarily blind could resist. Though Vespasian had opened the campaign against Judea in the spring of that year 67, yet he had to wait for the glorious confession of these two princes of the apostles; that triumph secured, the impatient legions might rush to victory as soon as they pleased. For forty-seven long days they had been kept, by some power, staring at the citadel of Jotapata, which it was so easy for them to take, and which would make them masters of Galilee; but June 29 had now had its apostolic triumph in Rome, and Vespasian was at liberty to do what he had so long wished to do; on that very June 29 he did it—he took Jotapata.
Forty thousand dead, strewn on the steeps of the hill, and heaped up as high as the walls, showed the Romans what desperate resistance they were to expect from Jewish fanaticism. Of all the male defenders or inhabitants of Jotapata, only two survived; one of these was Josephus, a chief leader in the Jewish forces, and historian of these cruel wars. The women and children were spared.15But, some short time later on, another fortress, Gamala, was attacked; it overhung a chasm. When one-half of the besieged had been slain, and it was evident that further resistance was impossible, the survivors, assembling together the women and children, threw them and themselves down the rock; and five thousand was their number. When the legions stood looking around, at the close of that day’s work, they could see but a desert and death.16
In every part of the unhappy Galilee blood was flowing in torrents, and the flames of burning villages lighted up the horizon. It was hard to recognize this as the land where Jesus had spent the years of His childhood, or as the scene of His first miracles, and of those teachings of His which were ever borrowing some exquisite parable or other from the sight of the pretty hills and fertile vales of that then favoured country. The arm of God was now pressing with all its weight on this land of Zabulon and Nephthali, on which first so brightly shone the light of salvation,17 as we sang on Christmas night. So again this time it was the first to be visited by God. But these were unhappy times; and the visit was no longer that of the divine Orient, opening out to the world the paths of peace.18He was hid behind the tempest,19and darted the fiery arrows of destruction on the ungrateful country that had refused to welcome Him in the weakness of human flesh, which nothing but His mercy had led Him to assume. ‘They cried out, on the day of my vengeance,’ says this rejected King of Israel, ‘but there was none to save them; they cried to me their Lord, but I heard them not: and I will break them as small as dust, and scatter them before the wind; I will bring them to nought, like the dirt in the streets.’20
Terrible lesson which the Church learned and has never forgotten, that no blessing, no past holiness, is of itself a guarantee that the place thus favoured will not afterwards draw down on itself desecration and destruction! She saw, and trembled as she saw, these events of the first age of her history. She beheld violence and every sort of crime profaning the paths that had been trodden by the feet of her adorable Master, and the hills where He had passed whole nights in prayer and praise to His eternal Father. She one day witnessed even the pure waters of the Lake of Genesareth fearfully polluted; those waters that had so oft reflected the features of her divine Spouse, as when He walked on their glassy surface, or sat in Peter’s bark superintending those mystery-meaning fishings of His apostles. The event we here allude to was that of six thousand Jewish insurgents—hemmed in between God’s wrath and their Roman pursuers—reddening with their blood this Sea of Tiberias, where once Jesus had spoken to the storm and quelled it.21Their livid carcasses were thrown back by the waves on the shore, where our Lord had uttered woe to the cities that had witnessed His miracles, and yet were not converted.22
And souls, too, on whom God heaps His choicest favours, inviting them thereby to a closer union with Himself, have a lesson to learn from all this. Woe to them if, through indifference or sloth, they neglect to correspond with their graces! Woe to them if they imitate the cities on the Lake of Galilee, by greedily accepting the honour done them but never producing the fruits of holiness which should follow such signal and frequent gifts of heaven. The prophet Amos couples these forgetful, careless souls with the cities which our Lord had treated with such partiality, and which yet remained apathetic and worldly; and he tells us what this slighted benefactor will say to both: ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth! therefore will I visit upon you all your iniquities! Shall two walk together, except they be agreed?’23As to Israel, the highly-favoured above all people, he would not agree with the Jesus who so loved him, and was visited withchastisements exactly corresponding to his crimes. In the spring of the year 68, an officer under Vespasian scoured the left banks of the Jordan, driving the terrified Israelites before him.24They fled in thousands towards Jericho, where they hoped to find refuge; but the river had so flooded the country round the city, that entrance was impossible; the wretched fugitives were overtaken and slain by the Roman troops. The Ark of the Covenant had once opened there a miraculous passage to the tribes of Israel; but even had it been there now, how was it to protect such unworthy descendants of the patriarchs—descendants, that is, who broke the Covenant made by God with the sons of Jacob? A frightful massacre, a merciless mowing down of human beings, followed; and, at what a place! the very place where, forty years before, St. John the Baptist had seen the axe laid to the root of the tree, and foretold the wrath to come upon this brood of vipers, who called themselves children of Abraham, and would not do penance.25A countless multitude drowned themselves in the Jordan; they found death in the very stream to which our Saviour had imparted sanctification by being Himself baptized in it, and imparting to it the power to give light to the world. But Israel had chosen the kingdom of the prince of this world in preference to that of the divine Giver of life.26The number of those who perished in that holy stream was so great that the heap of their dead bodies made it impossible for vessels to sail in the river; and this fearful obstacle continued until such time as the current had swept the corpses down to the Dead Sea, and scattered far into that dismal lake of malediction that hideous jetsam of the Synagogue. Had not our Lord said, that Sodom’s guilt was less than theirs?27
Rome and her legions were masters, in the north, of Galilee and Samaria; in the east and west, of the banks of the Jordan and of the Mediterranean coast; and the conquest of Idumæa completed the circle of iron and fire that was to shut Jerusalem in. Roman garrisons held Emmaus, Jericho, and all the fortified positions round the Jewish capital. Having, as God’s instrument, chastised so many other ungrateful cities, Vespasian was preparing to lay siege to the most guilty of all, when Nero’s fall, and the events which followed it, drew the attention, both of himself and of the whole world, from Judea.
The last years of the tyrant had witnessed frequent ‘earthquakes in divers places,’28 and ‘plagues,’29and ‘signs in the heavens’;30 but when he died there came ‘risings of nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.’31 The entire west was in arms; and the east herself was attracted towards Rome by the immense political commotion of the year 69. From the heights of Atlas to the Euxine Sea, and from the Humber to the Nile, provinces and peoples were striving for the mastery. Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, proclaimed emperors by their respective armies, sent their rival legions from Britain and the Rhine, from Illyria and the Danube; they met at Bedriac for mutual slaughter. In one thing alone they that survived were unanimous: friends or foes, all must lay Italy waste. Rome was taken by the Romans; whilst on the undefended frontiers appeared Suevians, Sarmatians, and Dacians. The Capitol and Jupiter’s temple in flames excited the Gauls to declare their independence, and Velleda to stir up Germany to revolt. The old world was gradually disappearing beneath the universal anarchy and war.
Circumstances, then, suddenly seemed favourable to Jerusalem; they gave her a fresh invitation to atone for her crimes; but, as we shall see when commenting on this Sunday’s Gospel, she made no other use of them than to multiply her sins, and treat herself with greater cruelty than the Romans would have done.
In the Mass of this Sunday, which is their ninth of St. Matthew, the Greeks read the episode of Jesus’ walking upon the waters.
Labels: The Liturgical Year