Little catechism of the Second Vatican Council (Part One)

Little catechism of the Second Vatican Council (Part One)

by Fr. Pierre-Marie, O.P.

Dominican in Avrillé


From Le Sel de la terre 93, Summer 2015


Preface

Vatican II is not a council like the others. This council, which was held in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican in four sessions from 1962 until 1965 under the pontificates of Popes John XIII (1958-1963) and Paul VI (1963-1978), was the occasion, if not the principal cause, of the gravest crisis the Church has known in its history.

The studies concerning this council are numerous, but often voluminous and very technical.  We have thought that it would be useful to provide for Catholics of good will a relatively short text, explaining what Vatican II declared and what is unacceptable for Catholics who want to remain faithful to the traditional infallible teaching of the Church.

After a brief introduction on the authority of the council, we will briefly analyze each of the 16 documents, presenting them in a thematic order.

Introduction

The authority of the Second Vatican Council


What is an ecumenical council?

An ecumenical council is an assembly of bishops of the entire world convoked by the pope, who conducts its meetings (called “sessions”), whether directly or via legates, and who approves the texts, so that they have a binding value for the whole Church. There have been in the history of the Church twenty ecumenical councils since the Council of Nicaea in 325 until the First Vatican Council in 1870.

Is Vatican II a council like the others?

Vatican II is an atypical council because the popes who convoked and conducted it, John XXIII and Paul VI, declared that it was not a dogmatic council, like all the preceding councils, but a pastoral council.  In other words, its aim was not to define doctrine against errors, but to perform an updating (aggiornamento) of this doctrine to adapt it to the thinking of our contemporaries.

Does Vatican II contain infallible teachings?

Here again, differently than all the preceding ecumenical councils, the Second Vatican Council does not contain any infallible teaching.  For a council to be infallible, it must pronounce solemn judgments, which this council refused to do.

Even if it is not infallible, can it not be admitted that Vatican II was assisted by the Holy Ghost?

Our Lord Jesus Christ promised the assistance of the Holy Ghost for the transmission of Revelation: “the Paraclete the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and suggest unto you all things whatsoever I shall say to you.” (Jn 14:26) [Rheims version].

But, without renouncing the transmission of Revelation, the Council proposed the aggiornamento of the Church, i.e., its adaptation to the modern world, notably by introducing into the Church “the best expressed values of two centuries of ‘liberal’ culture”1, and by working to “smooth the way toward unity of mankind.”2.


Why cannot the Holy Ghost aid the Church in acquiring the values of liberal culture, once purified and corrected3?

Liberalism is an error condemned by two centuries of teaching from the Magisterium of the Church.  Such a condemnation is infallible in virtue of the Universal Ordinary Magisterium of the Church.

As the Holy Ghost cannot contradict Himself, He cannot assist the council fathers in making these values of liberalism enter into the Church.

Why cannot the Holy Ghost aid the Church in working toward the unity of mankind?

The Church was founded to save souls and unite them to Our Lord Jesus Christ.  In so doing, the Church works indirectly for peace, propagating charity in souls: “Seek therefore first the Kingdom of God, and the justice of him [the union to Our Lord Jesus Christ by grace]: and all these things [including peace] shall be given you besides.” (Mt. 6:33) [Rheims version].

But today Freemasonry seeks to reshape the unity of mankind (“globalism”) by human means and by positively excluding Our Lord Jesus Christ in virtue of “secularism”.

As was especially seen after the Council (with the secularization of the States and inter-religious meetings), the men of the Church collaborate in this work by means of religious liberty, ecumenism, and inter-religious dialogue. The Holy Ghost cannot assist the Church in working toward an end that is not Her own.

(To be continued)


The Art of Confessing (Part 3 of 3)

The Art of Confessing

by Fr Henri-Charles Chery O.P.

(Part 3 of 3)

III

In this way, we are not likely to forget, as already mentioned several times, that in the sacrament of penance, the main merit comes from the purifying blood of Christ, not from the exhortation of the confessor, and this purification is obtained through our sorrow.

This truth affects the way in which you should bring your faults to the tribunal of confession: you should know that that it’s not just a matter of giving an account of your sins, but of truly being sorry for them.

However, every priest who hears confessions, is struck by the kind of indifference, or at least apparent indifference, with which many penitents state their faults.  They render an account of them, they make a list: and provided it’s accurately done, then it seems to them that they have done all that the Church requires of them.  All that is now needed is to receive absolution, and away they go, liberated from now on.  The formality is over and done with.

Now actually, it’s nothing of the sort.  Nothing is ‘formality’ when it comes to acts of religion – neither the Mass, which is not just a matter of our attendance, but requires our active participation, nor confession, which is essentially a sorrow for our sins, a renunciation of the evil we have done, in order to obtain forgiveness. It’s about love – a matter of the heart (that is to say of the will).  We come to admit that we have done wrong, that we have failed in the love we owe God by refusing to do His will in one way or another (His will that we should be faithful, or just, or pure, or loving, etc.).   That should come across in the way we confess our sins.

‘Confiteor…., ‘ is the formula which is recommended you say before confessing your sins: ‘I confess’, I admit, I’m sorry, it’s my fault, I am guilty, I beat my breast.  Your confession should be in line with this formula.  It’s not a matter of seeing that you’ve done wrong and bringing this observation to the priest’s attention, it’s about conveying real regret for having done wrong.

It would therefore be good (and this will be easy if we confess a limited number of sins) to repeat before confessing each fault, ‘I confess to….’.  Provided your heart is in it, this will prevent the dry indifference of those who merely recount their faults, instead of truly repenting of them.

A QUESTION: Should one confess sins from the past that have already been forgiven in previous confessions?

1) As an exercise in humility, if it doesn’t cause any turmoil or unease to your conscience, it can be good to acknowledge your guilt one more time for an old sin already absolved.  And not only as an exercise in humility;

2) but also for the grace of purification that the sacrament will bring in a special way, to the particular source of infection from which the sin originated, and which perhaps is not yet completely cleansed.

SIMILARLY, it can be good, at certain solemn times of life (before marriage, the religious life, during a retreat, etc.) to make what is called a “general confession”, bringing to it either the past year or a longer period.  But on one condition: that this is not done just for convention’s sake, but from a need;  not from being told, ‘It’s the thing to do’ – but rather because you feel interiorly drawn to doing it.  (This point is particularly relevant to confessions made during retreats.)

However, there are those who should refrain from delving back into the past: the scrupulous.  The scrupulous suffer from an illness, and their illness takes the specific form of an anxiety which makes them incapable of judging whether they’ve done something wrong or not; whether they’ve done this action well or badly.  They would like ‘to be sure’ and yet the more they seek this certitude, the more it escapes them.

In the confessional they want to be sure of having said absolutely everything, or of really having true contrition, and, never being sure, they repeat things indefinitely.  All this exhausting soul-searching aggravates their illness under the guise of soothing it.

There is only one way for them to be cured and that is to obey the confessor without any argument or discussion.  He will order them to completely shut their eyes on all the past, recent and far off.

IV

AN OBJECTION: One form of anxiety that is experienced, not only by the scrupulous, but also by the honest or sincere, has to do with the quality of their contrition, and it is expressed in this way: ‘What’s the use of confessing this sin?  I surely can’t be repentant since I know I’ll fall into it again.’

We are now talking about firm purpose of amendment.

But let us carefully distinguish between ‘predicting that we’ll sin again’ and ‘wanting to sin again.’

* Undoubtedly, the penitent who wants to sin again, who has the intention of repeating his fault at the first opportunity, is not really a penitent.  He has no contrition at all.  He is abusing the sacrament and is also under the false illusion that absolution from a sin can be obtained without the repentance of the sinner.

* But this is not, thanks be to God, the usual case.  Most penitents have a keen awareness of their weakness justified by past experience of relapses.  They believe they know that their good intention, when put to the test one more time, will not be any more effective than it was in the past.  And they conclude: ‘I do not have true contrition’.

They are wrong.  Deep down, they call ‘evil’ the evil they have done.  They really wish they hadn’t done it.  They wish they were capable of never doing it again.

But that is contrition!

God does not require, in order to forgive us, that we be sure of never sinning again!  (That kind of certitude would strongly resemble presumption).

He asks us to have the intention of doing what we can, with the promised support of his grace, to avoid sinning again.  Do we have this intention?  Then we don’t have to worry about being hypocritical or insincere.  Our gloomy predictions do not change our intention.

All the more so since they are based on a blameworthy mistrust of the grace of the sacrament.  If the sacrament of penance is a means of making progress, it is not so much achieved by the psychological effort it requires of us: it’s because it applies to our sick soul the medicine of the saving and meritorious blood of Jesus Christ.

Jesus grants us the pardon He obtained for our benefit by his Passion, but He also gives us the graces of cleansing and strength to support us in future struggles, particularly in the area of the sins we have brought to Him for absolution.  It is in these graces we should put our trust, not in the doubtful capacities for resistance of our good will.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow.  For tomorrow, tomorrow’s grace will be enough, provided that you keep trusting and praying.  For today you have today’s grace, the grace of contrition.  Wanting to imagine tomorrow’s temptations, is to want to carry a burden for which you have no help.  It’s not surprising then that it seems too heavy and overwhelms you in advance.

To say this is not, however, an invitation to heedlessness.  Confession should be finished with a resolution.  The carrying out of this resolution we entrust to God’s help, but we must also be willing to work at it.

The most efficient way of doing this is to make that resolution precise, dealing with one sin that we want to avoid, not on all the faults confessed, nor even, as a general rule, on several.

And better still, to try to anticipate, going by past experience, the circumstances which might lead us into a fall – those occasions, which, if we place ourselves into them, may sweep us along into sin again.  Let us make a resolution to avoid these occasions.

For instance, if we know:

— that this particular company drags us into malicious gossip;

— that that kind of reading turn our thoughts towards impurity;

— that this open drawer brings to mind old, barely dormant, grudges;

— that this kind of conversation gets us all worked up1.

The resolution will be:

— to flee from this type of company;

— to forbid ourselves this kind of reading;

— to keep that drawer closed, and to avoid this particular kind of conversation.

To act like this, is to realistically accept ourselves as we truly are, capable of falling where someone else would be strong in resisting.  In this way we avoid presumptuously ‘tempting God’, by laying ourselves open to temptation; it’s therefore being logical with our contrition.

Why not, from time to time, safeguard your resolution by putting it to the confessor at the end of your confession?  That will certainly help you to keep to it.

When done in this way, confession will no longer be the tedious repetition of ‘standard’ sins, which it only too often becomes, and which is sheer drudgery.  It will become one of the most powerful means of sanctification that the Church puts at our disposal.  In going to the tribunal of confession, we will be conscious of going to Christ on the Cross, who holds, in his crucified hands, the forgiveness He has obtained for our benefit; the blood with which he wants to cleanse us.

Conscious of our poverty, all the more so if we have taken a good, clear look at our daily weaknesses, and trusting in His mercy, having begged him to make us detest our sins, we will enter through the door of the confessional with the humble disposition of the prodigal child:

‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not worthy of being called your son.’

Because of that, we will be able to go away with renewed strength, founded on the liberating assurance:

‘Go in peace, my son, your faith has saved you.’


The Art of Confessing (Part 2 of 3)

The Art of Confessing

by Fr Henri-Charles Chery O.P.

(Part 2 of 3)

II

Accusation of sins

Here I am next to the confessional, beginning my examination of conscience.  Which sins am I going to confess?

The question obviously needs to be addressed, because I can’t confess every single fault.  ‘The just man sins seven times a day’, Scripture says, and I, who am not just, how many sins slip my mind each day?  To be completely comprehensive, counting up every single possible sin is an unrealistic dream – and not even useful or helpful.  I need to choose. But what do I choose?

Obviously, first of all – all the mortal sins.

To deliberately omit confessing a mortal sin, even if you confess others that are just as serious, would be to render the confession invalid and sacrilegious.  That act by which we deliberately turned away from God, our last end (which is just like saying to him quite consciously, that we could not care less about disobeying him in a serious matter – as long as we can satisfy this or that disordered tendency) how could we come back to grace with God without renouncing it and therefore confessing itWe cannot, at the same time, be both a friend of God and hostile to him.

The difficulty for some of us is knowing when there is mortal sin:

* in theory, everyone knows it: serious matter, full knowledge, and full consent;

* but in practice, we often ask ourselves:

1)  Was the matter really a serious one?

2) And even more commonly: Did I really fully consent?

For the first question, it’s easy enough to ask the confessor’s advice.

As for the second, so long as the question is being asked in all honesty and in good conscience, and if you are really not absolutely sure, the rule is, there was not full consent.

Is this to say that there is no need to confess this ‘doubtful’ sin, or rather, this doubtfully committed sin?  Certainly not!  Because of the uncertainty, one may be permitted to approach the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and, strictly speaking, you aren’t even obliged to confess this sin; but you’d be wrong, if you wish to make progress in the spiritual life, to hide behind this non-obligation to hold on to an uneasy conscience.

Practically, the rule is quite simple.  You are not required to say, ‘I confess to having committed a mortal sin’, but rather, ‘I confess to having committed this sin, to having done this act.’  You might add, if this is the case, ‘I do not know if I fully consented.’  Then everything is in order.  In any case, we are always able to reply according to our conscience if the confessor asks us, ‘Do you believe that acting in this way, you have grievously sinned?’

What are we to think of the formula, so dear to those who use it constantly and almost automatically, ‘I confess myself as guilty as God finds me guilty.’?

Although useful and legitimate when you are uncertain of the nature of your culpability, it seems to me to be too facile, and somewhat hypocritical, when you know very well where you stand.

On the other hand let it be said that we should not (as some souls tend to do) see ‘mortal sin’ everywhere.  A sin that merits, of itself alone, separation from God for all eternity and the pains of hell – we do not commit that kind of sin without our conscience being well aware of it.  If this conscience is in need of formation, you must ask your confessor to enlighten you and then go strictly by his direction.

This formation of conscience should have been done at a young age, yet listening to the confessions of children, we are astonished by their ability to believe that their little faults – mere peccadilloes – are mortal sins.  Is there not in that – let it be said in passing – a responsibility going back to educators, who do not know how to distinguish between their grumblings or scoldings and the true moral value of childish faults?  In any case, this problem of formation of conscience in children should be looked into carefully and individually by parents and regular confessors, as it is just as dangerous to leave children to believe in the seriousness of little faults as it is to leave them to commit, as though quite unconcerned, gravely reprehensible acts.

A scrupulous and anguished conscience in youth makes for a weak adult, withdrawn, without courage, or indirectly results in an adolescent suddenly and brutally ‘liberating’ himself from an unbearable constraint.

Whether mortal or not, one would do well to get into the habit of confessing first of all, right at the beginning, the faults that weigh most heavily on the conscience, instead of slipping them, as if inadvertently, in the middle of a long list of relatively unimportant sins.  In this way you can free yourself in one fell swoop from faults that you might otherwise end up not confessing at all by giving in to foolish fear.

I would like to pay particular attention here on:

1) the examination of conscience and,

2) the confessing of venial sins.  Is it not here that a great many regular penitents fall short?

What is the most common complaint made by those who confess frequently?  ‘Confession bores me, because I always have to say the same thing.’  Or else this other complaint which is directed at the confessor: ‘He doesn’t say anything to me.’ – meaning – nothing out of the ordinary, nothing which helps me to shake off my faults.

Now these two failings, which make confession psychologically tedious, have the same cause – you do not know how to confess your sins.

How do most penitents confess?  Some (admittedly the smaller number) forget that sin is an act, not a state.  And so they reveal (or think they’re revealing) the depths of their soul by saying, ‘I am a liar, I am bad-tempered, I am impatient.  This kind of talk is not what is required.  All it does is expose a tendency of your soul, but confession is not about exposing your tendencies.  It is about admitting to specific acts – which are no doubt the outcome of your tendencies – but as different from them as the fruit is from the tree.  One can very well have a tendency to lying and yet not have committed the sin of lying in the fortnight since the last confession.  If one has told a lie, one should say, ‘I lied’, not ‘I am a liar’.

This is in fact what most penitents do say: ‘I lied, I lacked charity, I was lazy, I was vain.’  This is a more correct way, but the confession is hardly any better, meaning, it is hardly any better for your soul.  And hardly any more likely to draw out useful advice from your confessor.  Why?  Because it is bland.  You haven’t had to put any real thought into it.  You haven’t clarified.  It doesn’t give the confessor any specific indication, any clue, which might enable him to see in what way your soul differs from that of the soul he has had to judge and advise before you.  For every ten penitents following each other, at least nine of them could present the same list.  And in fact, alas! they do so.

So why (unless he already knows you from somewhere else) do you expect your confessor to give you exactly the advice you need?  Nothing specific has been revealed to him by this confession.  He hasn’t been given anything to go on.  He would have to be a marvelous psychologist and amazingly intuitive to guess, from this rapid outpouring of common faults, one after the other, through this grille where he can’t even see your face, the words he should say to reach out to you, touch your heart and encourage you into making the effort which you personally should undertake.  We can’t ask every confessor to be the Cure of Ars.  Normally, he will only be able to give you back from what you have given him.

If, as it sometimes happens through excessive scrupulousness, the penitent launches into a long list that he wants to make meticulously all-inclusive, if he intends to say every single thing and churns out just about every venial sin that it’s possible to commit (which he has, no doubt committed) and all of this made at a speedy pace that sometimes lasts several minutes, there you will have a completely overwhelmed and swamped confessor.  Is there anything personal or distinctive in all this, he’ll be wondering in vain.  And, not finding anything, all he can do is give a general exhortation which isn’t all that helpful.  Whose fault is that?

First and foremost let us emphasize that venial sin is a matter of free choice in the confessional.  We are not obliged to confess it.

A well-made act of contrition, and act of charity, a faithful and humble use of a sacramental are enough to obtain pardon [of venial sins].

A confession that is made up only of venial sins is therefore not necessary for salvation, but rather a means of sanctification.  It is a recourse to a sacrament – to the cleansing Blood of Jesus – by which we are purified and strengthened.  It is also, secondarily, an exercise in humility founded on knowledge of self, and an admission of all that is impeding our spiritual progress.

Therefore we are free to choose which of our committed venial sins to confess.  Does this mean choosing the most insignificant and forgetting about those which trouble us?  No!  Not at all!   A well-made examination of conscience will pick out, from the pile of daily faults, those which, because of their frequency or because of their malice, are the most harmful to the life of the soul.

The physiognomy of my sinful soul is no more similar to that of another soul than my face is similar to another face.  Broadly speaking, we all commit more of less the same faults, just as we all have a nose, a mouth, ears… but the importance for me of this fault, the place it holds in my spiritual life, how it influences other faults, that is what makes up my sinner’s face.  That, therefore, is what an intelligent examination of conscience will serve to pick out and highlight.

It’s useless to gather up a multitude of sins.  Five or six, well chosen, will be enough to see yourself, to show yourself as you are before God.  But as for these sins (and this remark is without doubt the most practical of all) it is a question of bringing them out in their true colors!

Examples

*  ‘I lied’: that means nothing.   ‘Omnis homo mendax,’ says the psalm.  Every man is a liar.  In what way have I lied?  To whom?  In what circumstances?  Why?

‘I lied to a sick friend who was looking forward to my visit because going to see her bored me.’  Who cannot see that this is a specific kind of lie?   ‘I lied to my boss in order to obtain some holiday leave to which I had no right‘,   ‘I lied to a client about the quality of my work so I could charge him more’ – so many different types of lies!   Therefore to just confess, ‘I lied’, would not have given any true idea of what was involved.

* ‘To fail in charity’ – the most common sin.  Why use this totally bland, colorless expression?  Better to say, ‘I said some hurtful words to someone I do not like, with the intention of upsetting him.’ ,  ‘I showed contempt towards a friend who is not very intelligent.’, ‘I refused some help that I could have given to a friend in need’,  or  ‘I made fun of a disabled sick person….’

* There are a hundred ways of being vain. What is yours?  Is it spending far too much time in getting dressed up?  Is it looking in the mirror every other minute?  Do you show off whenever you are in a group, trying to grab all the attention by your brilliant conversation?

* And your laziness?  How does that reveal itself in you?  By your persistent habit of staying in bed when it’s time to get up?  By your careless, half-finished duties of state?  By your could-not-care-less attitude, or your excessive love of sofas?

From these few examples (which could so easily be multiplied) you can see what we mean when we say – confess specific acts, and the circumstances in which you committed them.  Try to find the words that best put across your fault such as it was in reality, as something that was specifically yours and not just anyone’s.  This will be of great benefit to you:

— Firstly, because it will force you to see yourself as you really are, and then, because it will be a healthy and profitable humiliation.  It is more humiliating to say, ‘I spent half an hour every day putting on make up,’ than to say, ‘I was vain’.

— And lastly, because from this clear and precise information, your confessor will be able to see the state of your soul, and from that will be able to give you appropriate advice.

Having said all that, you are not invited to long-winded chatting.  To confess with precision is not the same as ‘telling stories’.  The confession should not be drowned in a flood of descriptive accounts, narration, explanations and digressions, where the penitent forgets he is confessing sins and where the confessor grasps nothing apart from the fact that you are admitting to having been sinned against.  Sometimes we hear this so-called confession changing into self-justification, or at the very least, a speech for the defense.

If you need to unburden a heart that is too weighed down and heavy, and receive some consolation, or if you would like some advice about what you must do, nothing could be more legitimate.  But do clearly separate the two intentions.  First make a proper confession, keeping strictly to your faults, and then inform the confessor that you also have something else to say.

(To be continued)

The Art of Confessing (Part 1 of 3)

The Art of Confessing – PART ONE

by Fr Chery O.P.

THESE WORDS are not addressed to the “big sinners” who come before Christ to relieve themselves of a great burden. They are not even addressed to Catholics who are making their annual Easter confession. But these lessons may be helpful for those people who have the “habit” of weekly, bimonthly or monthly confession.

“Habit” is a colorless word if it signifies only a praiseworthy regularity; it is a cold word if it signifies routine.  And sadly, everyone knows that a praiseworthy regularity easily degenerates into something routine.

The majority of penitents lament the miserable banality of their confessions, the small amount of fruit derived, and sometimes even their little interest in the exhortation that the confessor addresses to them when they come to find him.  Some have disgust for it, confess only by custom, and finally end up spacing their recourse to the sacrament of penance in a way that is prejudicial to their spiritual progress.

This disgust, and its consequences, do these not come from those who do not know how to confess?  There is a manner, an “art,” that could make this regular exercise into a serious means of sanctification.

In writing these lines, we have particularly thought of the numerous young people who seek to live a true Christianity in a generous effort of sincerity.  Not yet habituated, they suffer from a horror of routines, and they reject formalities.  They are right.  But they need to know that formalism is introduced through the fault of the ‘users,’ and I dare say, that it depends on them to keep intact, or lose, their religious vitality, for want of a personal effort.

The rites are conveyors of life, but only to the living.

The use of confession, if it is well understood, can be a serious support for the development of the spiritual life.

But first, since we are going to speak of confession, and nothing but confession [accusation of sins], it is necessary to carefully note that this is not the whole sacrament of penance, that it is not even the principal element.  This principal element consists of a regret, an accusation, an absolution, a reparation.  The sacrament is constituted essentially by an absolution effacing the fault of a heart that repents.  If a penitent, on his deathbed for example, cannot [verbally] express his accusation, the sacrament can [still] take place [even] from this [unspoken] accusation; it cannot take place without regret.  God, for His part, can effect the sacrament (in the absence of any priest qualified to give it): (but) He cannot save a soul in spite of itself, or remit a sin that someone obstinately refuses to regret.

Such people for whom the essential seems to be their accusation will do well to remember it.  The priest exhorts them to contrition, to the means to be considered so as not to fall back into their fault, but once their accusation has been made they seem not to follow him, distracted as they are by the concern to enunciate such and such other sin that did not initially come to their lips.  If it were a matter of a serious fault, it would be normal not to withdraw before expressing it; but most often it is a matter of venial faults. One mainly worries about being complete; but it is necessary above all to be contrite.

Consequently, in the few moments usually spent preparing for confession, it will be good not to give everything to the examination of conscience, but even more to implore the grace of God, in order to obtain a sincere regret for one’s faults, and to express in advance one’s contrition and the intention not to fall again.

To whom am I going to address myself when I go to confession?

First response:  to a priest.  I am deliberately using this general term to emphasize that the primordial importance in the use of the sacrament of penance must be granted not to the qualities of the man who hears confessions, but to his quality as minister of Christ. Because we lack faith, we excessively attach ourselves to the human value of the confessor, a real, objective value, or a value that attributes to him our sympathy and our confidence.

Whether this is to be taken into consideration is undeniable, but from a point of view which is, so to speak, on the margins of the sacrament.

This comes into play for the counsel that will follow the accusation and precede absolution.  But the sacrament is not constituted by this counsel; it can even do without it.  The important thing is to deal with the Christ who holds forgiveness, with the living Christ acting in his Church.  Every priest who has received from the Church the powers to absolve you validly, acts in persona Christi, in the name of Christ.  He opens for your soul the spring of pardon – which is the Blood of the Redeemer Christ – and He washes it in this Blood.

Erroneous for lack of faith is therefore the attitude of such penitents who delay liberating themselves from a serious sin or who indefinitely delay a confession which would release them from a growing malaise (by purifying the infection that spreads little by little) because “their confessor” is not there. If they had an understanding of what the sacrament is – sovereignly valuable in its purifying work, independent of the quality of the confessor who is before all else the “minister of Christ,” that is to say, the ear of Christ to hear the admissions, the wisdom of Christ to judge, and the mouth of Christ to pronounce the remission – they would attach themselves less to the human appearances and not delay at all.

It is appropriate here to mention why I must admit my faults to a priest instead of contenting myself with an admission directly expressed to God in the intimacy of my heart.  This is because I am a member of the Church.

My fault has offended God and diminished myself: it is a lack of the love that I owe to my Creator and to the virtuous love that I must show for the child of God that I am.  And it also harmed the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. “Every soul that raises itself, raises the world.”  Likewise, every Christian who sins upsets the perfection of the Christian community.  The most obscure of sins causes a wound to the tree of which I am a branch.  Whether I detach myself from the tree completely by mortal sin, or whether I separate myself only a little, the entire tree suffers.  I rise from the Church in my vitality, for God has entrusted his graces to the Church for me.  I should, therefore, also rise to escape my fault.

In the early centuries this responsibility before the Church was more obvious, since accusation was public and professed before the entire community.  Presently, the discipline has softened, but it is always before the Church that I accuse myself – through the person of the priest who hears me, and the Church from which I receive reconciliation through the ministry of the priest who absolves me.

I thus confess to the priest because he is a priest.  This does not prevent me from choosing him as humanly capable of understanding and advising me. We are not speaking here, since it is not our aim, of that which is called (a little improperly perhaps) “direction.” Even while remaining strictly on the plane of confession, it is surely better for the progress of the soul if it usually addresses itself to the same confessor.  After some time (provided we have followed the advice we shall give later concerning the manner of accusing ourselves), he (the same confessor) knows whom he is dealing with.  He knows your tendencies and your habitual weaknesses.  Even if you have little to say, he knows what points should be insisted upon in his exhortations.  Little by little you have revealed the difficulties with which you are struggling:  your particular situation.  He does not risk, as would a stranger who does not understand you, perplexing you by an untimely remark.  At a difficult moment in your life, he can stop you from making a dangerous fall.  And at any time, he is able to suggest to you appropriate decisions to get out of your torpor if you let yourself fall asleep.

How should you choose him?

Above all, he needs good sense and right judgment.   Also, holy if this is possible – this is clear – but a balanced and insightful priest will always be preferable to another of a more fervent life with less sound judgment.

Do not forget that you seek a counselor, and that as is the wisdom of the counselor, so is the value of his advice.  But as he is also one who leads, you ought to desire that he be demanding.  A good-natured confessor who merely lulls you with soothing words or sends you away with absolution and a general exhortation, would risk leaving you to languish in your sin or your serious imperfections.

This is why it is necessary, if need be, to encourage the confessor to this beneficial requirement and to humbly accept his invitations to effort.  You will recall that the first condition for him to be useful to you is that you trust him.  You can have the best confessor in the city; but if you cannot open yourself up to him frankly, he can do nothing for you.  You should thus choose him so that you do not feel paralyzed in his presence and that you readily consider him as a father, perceptive, capable of realizing your situation and to interest himself in it, open to the realities of life, sure in his diagnoses, and of firm goodness in his counsel.

If you do not find him (one such ideal priest), do not be much distressed.  Go to a priest2: he has the grace of state.  The Holy Ghost will use him anyway for your best good, provided you are listening.

If you do find the ideal priest, do not easily switch from him.  While remaining fully free from another choice, do not let yourself be “undone” by a few impressions, all the more by some crushing of self-esteem or by some of his demands.  Persevere until you have positive proof that you are making no progress in his school, despite a loyal and constant effort on your part.

(To be continued)

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé # 26: September, 2017

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé  # 26:  September, 2017

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Public Procession (feast of the Assumption)

The Myth of a “Neutral State” -“Who’s attacking you?” -“Nobody!”

Ulysses called himself “Nobody,” when Polyphemus asked his name. When this latter cried for help to his fellow cyclopses, and they asked who was attacking him, he stupidly replied “Nobody”!   Of course, they did not come to his aid.

Freemasonry has adopted the same trick to make their enemies look like fools.  The states under its control never openly declare themselves Freemasonic.  They claim to be “neutral” or “secular”.  When one asks who is persecuting the Church, the answer is ready-made: “neutrality,” that is, “no one”; and it’s the same “neutrality” (“no one”…) who indoctrinates the children in the atheistic [and totalitarian] public school system.

The myth of the “neutral” state

The stratagem of the “neutral” state — presented as a purely administrative machine, free from any religious or metaphysical principal, limiting itself to the material direction of the country, leaving each citizen to think as he likes — is an essential pillar of Masonic dictatorship.

However, the Masons are not always able to hold their tongue.  They’re so sure of their victory that they easily reveal their secret.  Vincent Peillon (French Minister of Education from 2012 to 2014) publically declared that secularism is a religion.  His predecessor, René Viviani, had already confessed neutrality to be a “necessary lie.”  Another “insider,” T.G. Masaryk, clearly showed that the modern secular state aims at nothing less than to take the place of the Church.

A well informed Freemason

The Freemason Thomas Garrigue Masaryk (1850-1937) was not just anybody.  During the First World War, he repeated to all who wanted to listen that the principal goal of the war was “the dismemberment of the Hapsburg Empire.”   This well-informed agent then went on to become the first president of the very Masonic (and very artificial) Czechoslovakian Republic.

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Corpus Christi 2017


A special vocabulary

Of course, Masaryk, as a good Mason, muddles his words.  He calls medieval Christendom — which carefully distinguished between the spiritual and temporal powers — “theocracy.”  On the other hand, the regime that mixes the two powers, reuniting them in one hand (or rather, one fist!) is designated by him as “non-theocratic.”  But this coded language does not prevent us from understanding what he means to say.

Masaryk’s avowal: a state “charged with the functions of the Church”

Over and above the words, it’s the reality that counts.  Therefore, in reading the following quotation, let us not be duped by the misuse of the word “theocracy”, or the sarcastic attack against the “medieval state, servus Ecclesiae,” and let’s look at this supposedly wonderful, modern, democratic state imposed upon the world by Freemasonry.  Is it a neutral state, free from all ideology?   No, just the opposite!   Masaryk clearly admits it: the “secular” state has “taken on the functions of the Church,” and has even “extended and multiplied them.”

[W]hat makes the democratic state new, is the fact that its goals and its organization proceed from a new conception of the world, a non-theocratic conception.  That’s the innovation.  The modern state has taken on the functions of the theocracy, especially those of the Church […].  Before, the state was not interested in schools, nor in culture; all the education of society was directed and dispensed by the Church.  To the contrary, the new state has, step by step, taken over all education.  Just as the Reformation, humanism and the Renaissance had engendered a new, secular morality, the state has also taken Charity away from the Church, and transformed it into social legislation.  Compared to the modern state, the former states were practically nothing.  I would even say that they did not think for themselves: the Church thought for them.  If under theocracy philosophy was the “ancilla theologiae,” [Editor:  “handmaiden of theology”]  the old medieval state was the “servus Ecclesiae.” [Editor:  “servant of the Church”]   In secularizing itself, the state was forced to start thinking.  It took on the functions of the Church; it extended and multiplied them.” (T.G. Masaryk, La Résurrection d’un Etat, Paris, Plon, 1930)

It’s clear: the secular state is not just (as they claim) a state separated from the Church.  It’s the state taking itself for the Church, which is only logical for the religion of Man taking himself for God.


Mother Anne-Marie Simoulin (†) (Foundress of the Dominican Sisters of Fanjeaux) and the Question of Modesty

The keen awareness of her duty to transmit an integrally Catholic education was inseparable from an insistence upon practical moral requirements that are a necessary consequence of this Christian formation.  That’s why Mother Anne-Marie was, for example, so virulent when it came to the question of appropriate dressing, despite the pressure from parents and even bishops.  At Montréjeau, for example, the vice-president of the APEL (Parents’ Association), Mr. Vallet, had written to her:

Most Reverend Mother, we would like to call your attention particularly to a problem which has gained such proportions that the members of the APEL of Sainte-Germaine School find themselves obliged to inform you.

Indeed, practically all the parents disapprove of your prohibition for our girls to wear pants. Certain families are even seriously considering taking their children out of the school if no dispensations are made to this prohibition for the time being.

One must take into account that winter is long and rigorous in this region. Tights are very costly and wear out quickly, so certain families are not able to replace them as often as necessary.

Locally, our girls have become victims of a very unpleasant atmosphere, and the situation has gotten worse since it has been known, by trustworthy sources, that other establishments of the Congregation have allowed the new style of clothing.

We would be very grateful to you if we could have your answer before the general assembly to be held on December 1st, 1973, so that we may inform the families of the outcome of this initiative.

Mother Anne-Marie therefore explained the reasons for her refusal:

I am aware of all the arguments put forward, almost everywhere, in favor of pants:  frugality (or purported frugality, because the same people count their pennies less when it comes to following fashions), comfort, practicality, ease…  I understand how appealing these arguments can be for parents who feel obligated to make calculations, but none of these reasons will force me to yield…

Next, Mother exposes some considerations on the disciplinary as well as esthetic levels.  Lastly, she comes back to the fundamental argument:

Just as we refuse co-education […], because we think it is impossible to form a girl’s intelligence and sensibility in the same way as with boys, we refuse all complicity with decadent trends that are sabotaging our civilization.  We want to treat your girls as girls; we want them to be treated as girls, and therefore we want them to be dressed as girls.  We want to help them deepen their sense of properly feminine values, to desire and to cultivate the virtues specially entrusted to women, which will make them particularly capable of giving and nurturing life, whether it be natural or supernatural life.  We want your girls to be fully women, who are proud to be so, and who love to dress accordingly.

For all these reasons on the disciplinary, esthetic and moral levels, we therefore require your girls to dress in conformity to their feminine nature…

—Quoted by Sr. Alice-Marie (Dominican Sisters of FANJEAUX), Rupture ou fidélité 1948/1975. Une congrégation religieuse dans l’Eglise ébranlée, Clovis, 2016, p. 222-224.

 

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Community Chronicle

May 25th: Ascension of Our Lord. In the Dominican rite, the Solemn High Mass is preceded by a procession in the cloister (accompanied by the men and boys of the parish) symbolizing the cortege of Our Lady and the Apostles following Our Lord from the Cenacle to the Mount of Olives.  A second Solemn High Mass is celebrated by Fr. de Mérode for St. Thomas Boys’ School, during which twenty students pronounce their profession of Faith after having followed a retreat preached by the same Fr. de Mérode.

June 3rd: First Saturday.  It’s a true consolation to see the faithful doing their best to respond to the requests of Our Lady of Fatima for the first Saturday of each month: the St. Dominic Oratory is overflowing with faithful at the 6:30 a.m. Mass (followed by the 15-minute meditation requested by Our Lady), and the main Church is almost full at the 10:00 a.m. Mass.

June 18th: Corpus Christi Procession.

July 1st and 2nd: End of the school year ceremonies for St. Philomena Primary School and St. Thomas Boys’ School, followed by the annual parish lawn fete.  With the school year behind us, the busy summer schedule starts immediately:

July 3rd-8th: Men’s retreat.  Fathers Louis-Marie and Angelico are happy to receive a bit of reinforcement from Fr. Pierre Roy who came in from Canada to help preach a retreat on “The Incarnate Word” to about 20 fervent men, among which were a certain number of recently baptized.

July 14th-16th: Annual Jean Vaquié Days, with the theme: 1917-2017: From Communism to Globalism.

July 16th: Departure of Fathers Terence and Angelico for the Boys’ Summer Camp in Brittany.  Three weeks of camping, hiking and exploration, as well as activities for the soul: daily sacraments, apologetics competitions…

At the same time, Fr. Hyacinth-Marie chaplains the camps for the boys and girls of Our Lady of Fatima Youth Club (7-12 yrs.) and the adolescent girls of “Valiant Souls”.

July 17th-22nd: Fathers Marie-Dominique and Emmanuel-Marie preach a retreat for married couples, with the help of Fr. de Mérode.

July 24th-29th: Lady’s retreat with Fathers François-Marie and Marie Laurent, aided by Fr. Ballini.

August 4th- 13th: The community is reunited for the annual retreat preached this year by Fr. Joaquim FBVM, from Brazil.  Father Joaquim is no stranger to the community, as he studied philosophy and theology here at Avrillé before being ordained in Brazil.  Theme of the retreat: “Our spiritual life in the present crisis in the Church.”

News from our worksites

All is ready for the parish hall project.  God willing, the building permit will be granted in the coming weeks.

Other various projects have begun or progressed.  The chapter room now has its wooden beams.  Once it’s painted, we’ll be able to put in the new altar.

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To help solve the problem of insufficient classroom space at the Boys’ School, a wall has been knocked down (permitting the renovation of a loft) and the grounds have been cleared in view of restoring an old tower (to be used as a study hall).  Also, the recreation courtyards were professionally paved. (To the delight of the seminarians and friars, as well!)

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For timely articles and spiritual reading, please go to our website:

www.dominicansavrille.us

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Couvent de la Haye-aux-Bonshommes

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The Assumption

The Assumption

By Fr. McKenna O.P.

(extracts)

“Behold! My Beloved speaketh to me; arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come, the winter is now past, the rain is over and gone.” — Canticle of Canticles 2, 10.

The two closing mysteries of the Holy Rosary deal especially with the celestial joys and rewards of our Blessed Lady.  They set forth before us her glorious Assumption into heaven, and her Coronation by the Triune Deity as Queen of heaven and earth.  The Assumption is one of the greatest of the Divine Mother’s festivals.  Our Catholic forefathers called it “Great Lady Day,” as they considered it the most beautiful and most solemn of her feasts.  The end of her long and weary pilgrimage had come; her yearning soul was, at last, drawn up to be united with her Beloved, never again to be separated from Him.  In the Introit of the Mass of the day, the Church calls upon us to rejoice in the Lord in celebrating the festival of the Assumption, in whose solemnity the angels rejoice, and together praise the Son of God.

It is generally believed that the death of our Blessed Mother occurred fifteen years after the Ascension of her adorable Son.  She was then in her sixty-third year, and having left Ephesus, where she had lived several years in the house of St. John, the Beloved Disciple, she had come with him to Jerusalem.  She knew that the end of her pilgrimage was at hand, and she desired to be near that city and its precincts which had been sanctified by the footprints and blood of the world’s Redeemer.  She made all the preparations for her last moments; and we are told that, by a special Providence of God, the disciples of her Son were gathered in Jerusalem from their several missions, in order to assist at her deathbed and receive her last blessing.  It might be asked why Mary, who had never been defiled by sin, should be forced to submit to death, which was the punishment of Adam’s sin.  But even if the immaculate Virgin, having closely imitated her Divine Son in every detail of His earthly life, had not desired to imitate Him also in paying the debt of nature, the Angel of the Schools teaches that death and the miseries which we experience, such as hunger, thirst, and all mundane maladies, arise from the constitutive principle of our nature.  Before the sin of Adam these miseries were unknown, for God had elevated Adam to a supernatural state; but human nature, having been despoiled, by the justice of God, of these immunities—which He had conferred as a special grace—lost through sin its integrity and those privileges so liberally given it, and which are not restored in Baptism (St. Thos. Sum. I. p. q. 69, a. 3.). […]

In the Old Law,” said St. Thomas Aquinas,” there were two events which filled all Israel with joy:

* One was the bearing of the Ark of the Covenant into the house of David, which was a source of great rejoicing to David and all his people;

* The other was when the Ark was brought, amid the chanting of choirs, and the sound of timbrels and harps, into the beautiful new Temple which Solomon had just completed for its reception.

There were also two great events in Heaven:

* One was when our humanity, united with the divinity—the Living Ark, which enclosed all the wisdom and knowledge of God1, —entered Heaven, accompanied by all the ransomed souls from Limbo;

* The other was when our dear Mother, the most perfect of all human beings, entered, leaning on her adorable Son, to take possession of that throne and that glory prepared for her from eternity.”

In the Assumption of our Blessed Lady, we behold our human nature exalted and honored above the most resplendent angels in heaven, and placed at the right hand of her adorable Son.  If all Israel united with Solomon in celebrating with song and timbre and harp the coming of the Ark of the Covenant into the Temple prepared for it, how much more did the saints and angels rejoice in seeing the Ark of the New Covenant, the pure and spotless Virgin, conducted on this day into the joys of paradise!  How those blessed spirits of God must have exulted, and burst into paeans of welcome, beholding with wonder and delight their glorious Queen coming in all regal splendor to take possession of the throne prepared for her before the foundation of the world!  We can picture to ourselves the patriarchs and prophets approaching to greet that glorious Daughter of Israel and thank her for all that she had done and suffered in the work of the world’s redemption.  What must have been the unspeakable rapture of Joachim and Anna, of Joseph, her faithful spouse, of the Baptist, and John, her adopted son, of Elizabeth, Zachary, Magdalen, and of so many other chosen souls who had known her during their lives on earth!

How blissful, also, to us, dear fellow Rosarians, is the consideration of our Lady’s Assumption, for, although we are still far removed from our blessed home in Heaven, yet, in telling the beads of the Fourth Glorious Mystery, we commemorate the elevation of the body and soul of one of our fellow beings to the most sublime heights of Heaven.  We see our poor humanity, apart from the divinity, thus exalted, thus glorified, in God’s eternal kingdom.  Never would poor human nature, have been so elevated, had it not been for that felix culpa—that happy fault—the fall of our first parents in the Garden of Eden.

In Mary’s Assumption we have reason not only to thank Almighty God for the favor bestowed on our race in the honor conferred on this glorious daughter of Eve, but we are filled with unbounded confidence in the goodness of God, who has thus elevated this Woman of women to be our Mother and our powerful advocate before the throne of His Mercy.  We acknowledge that we are sinners, but behold! in the bright realms above we have the Advocate of Sinners who, on account of our fall, was raised to such an eminent dignity on earth, and is now enthroned as our refuge and mediatrix in heaven.  Like Queen Esther, standing close to the King in a vesture of gold, she pleads incessantly for the people of her race, and is ever ready to aid all the children of Adam by her powerful intercession.

O Blessed Mother of God! it is with reason that all your true children rejoice in your glorious Assumption, for they see in you their irresistible advocate with your adorable Son.  We know well that Jesus-Christ is the advocate of redemption, that without the merits of His blood no man can be saved; but we know too that He is a God “who loveth justice and hateth iniquity,” and therefore must hate sin with an eternal hatred, and punish it wherever it is found.  But, praise to His holy Name!  He delights in showing mercy; and He has given to His saints, and especially to you, His Blessed Mother, the office of mercy, that through your merits and your powerful pleadings with Him we sinners may obtain pity and pardon, when we deserve nothing but justice and condign punishment.

It is this hope that has ever filled the Catholic heart with confidence in the powerful intercession of the Mother of God.  When we read the lives of God’s illustrious saints, we find that they were all inspired with this humble and unwavering confidence.  The child, who has angered his father by disobedience, will run and hide in the arms of his loving mother, imploring her protection from the just punishment, which he deserves.  Even so, poor, repentant sinners run to Mary, knowing well how grievously they have offended God, but firmly believing that she, who found favor with the Almighty even before the mystery of the Incarnation was accomplished, will much more find favor now with her adorable Son, who is the judge of the living and the dead.  Hence, the prayer of that bright light in the Middle Ages, St. Bernard: “Remember, O most spotless Mother, that never was any one known who sought your help or implored your aid and did not receive powerful assistance!”  How many, indeed, O Blessed Mother, have experienced your render pity and compassion, and your efficacious intercession with your adorable Son!

Bourdaloue2 tells us in his sermon on Our Lady’s Assumption: “Her death was precious in the sight of the Lord because her life was spent in His service.  She was ever faithful to grace; her will was ever conformed to His adorable will; her heart was never attached to the pleasures or vanities of this life.”

The death of all God’s saints, according to David, is precious in His sight; but: just as we cooperate with God’s grace, and labor to promote His glory and our own perfection, in the same proportion will our death be precious before Him and our reward great in Heaven.

Is it not sad, then, dear Rosarians, to consider that, whilst we believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and know that our reward or punishment, must be according to our work (for He will render to every man according to his works), that we are so slothful in doing good, and so prone to add sin to sin?  Alas, how many there are who live in mortal sin, and are thus unable to merit any supernatural reward!  Is it not of faith that mortal sin makes us enemies of God, and that from an enemy He will accept nothing?  What can be sadder than that men, destined for heaven, and having all the means for attaining it within their reach, think little of its unspeakable delights, but prostitute their hearts to sensual gratifications and sacrifice their souls for filthy, fleeting pleasures?  Alas, how many are the daughters of Mary who, instead of seeking to please God and their immaculate Mother, place the affections of their heart on vanity and fashion, and cling to sinful fellow-creatures who seek their eternal destruction!  O God! that all would be wise in time, and labor not for that which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life; that all would lay up treasures for heaven, and so live as to be always prepared to die!

St. Alphonsus, speaking of the glorious death and Assumption of our Blessed Lady, closes his discourse in these words:

We have contemplated, brethren, the death of our Blessed Lady and her glorious Assumption. We have followed her in spirit into the joys of Heaven; we have seen her surrounded by patriarchs and prophets, by saints and angels; we have seen her adorned by her adorable Son at His right hand.  Let us unite with heaven and earth in praising and blessing our glorious Queen.  Let us con­gratulate her on her happiness and on the power which Our Lord has given her, and let us implore her by that power and glory which she now enjoys to look down with compassion on her poor children.  Let us beseech her to watch over us during life, and when death comes, to bring us to share with her in the glory of heaven, where, with all the saints, we shall see God face to face and praise and bless Him and His Virgin Mother for all eternity. Amen.”

(From the book of Fr Charles-Hyacinth McKenna O.P.,The Treasures of the Rosary, New York, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1917 )

(written 1835)


Alphonse de RATISBONNE (1814 – 1884), Convert from Judaism by the Miraculous Medal

Alphonse de RATISBONNE

(1814 – 1884)

Converted from Judaism by the Miraculous Medal

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Alphonse de Ratisbonne was the son and the inheritor of a family of Jewish Bankers from Strasbourg.  During his childhood, his elder brother, Theodore, converted to Catholicism.  He was even ordained a priest.  The family naturally reacted with horror and hostility.  Alphonse resolved to never have anything to do with his brother and, furthermore, developed a violent antipathy to the Catholic faith.  Though an atheist, he experienced a tremendous love and a profound loyalty for his own people.  He devoted his efforts and money to the purpose of improving the social condition of less fortunate Jews.

At 27, Alphonse became engaged and then noticed a subtle change concerning his religious sentiments:

A certain change overcame me concerning my religious ideas. I believed in nothing; the sight of my fiancée awoke in me a feeling about human dignity. I began to believe in the immortality of the soul; instinctively, I began to pray to God; I even thanked him for my good fortune; but, nevertheless, I remained dissatisfied…..”

Since his fiancée was only 16 years old, it was considered appropriate to postpone the marriage. Therefore, in order to while away the time Alphonse decided to take a sightseeing trip to Italy (1841-1842).

A curious challenge

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After spending time in Naples, he stayed in Rome. While there he visited Baron Théodore de Bussières, who happened to be the brother of one of his best friends.  Their conversations turned to religion.  Ratisbonne mocked and attacked the Church repeatedly. Finally the Baron offered him a curious challenge:

Wear the Miraculous Medal 1 and recite one short prayer daily to Mary:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who invoked thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left forsaken. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy clemency hear and answer me. Amen.

The youthful Jew grudgingly accepted: for him it was a way of proving the inanity of these “detestable superstitions”.

On the 20th of January, 1842, the last day of his stay in Rome, Ratisbonne entered, by chance, the church of St. Andrew of the Brothers. He recounts the incident himself:

I was in the church but an instant, when all of a sudden I felt myself overtaken by an inexplicable anxiety. I raised my eyes and noticed that the entire edifice had disappeared from my view; a single chapel had, so to speak, concentrated all the light, and in the center of this radiation there appeared standing on the altar, tall, brilliant, full of majesty and tenderness, the Virgin Mary, just as She appears on my medal and now an irresistible force pushed me toward her.  The Virgin signaled to me to kneel down, and seemed to say to me; that is fine!  She did not speak, but I understood everything.”

At the same instant Alphonse felt freed of his blindness:

At the moment of the gesture, the blindfold fell from my eyes; not only one blindfold, but the whole bundle of blindfolds that had kept me enfolded in their grasp disappeared successively and rapidly, just as snow, mud and ice disappear under the action of a brilliant and burning sun…

In some strange way I felt myself to be completely naked, as though a tabula rasa. The world had become as nothing to me; the prejudices against Christianity no longer existed; my childhood prejudices evaporated; God’s love had replaced my other loves.”

In the beginning, he was able to clearly perceive the brilliance of that divine light. He tried three times to raise his eyes to Her but in those three attempts he found himself incapable of raising his eyes higher than her own hands, from which graces and blessings seemed to cascade in the form of luminous rays.

O my God, he cried out, only a half hour ago I was in the act of blaspheming and I felt a profound mortal hatred against the Catholic religion.  All those who know me know full well that humanly speaking, I nourished the strongest reasons to remain Jewish.  My family is Jewish as well as my fiancée and uncle who are all Jewish.  On becoming Catholic I am sacrificing all my hopes and worldly interests.  Yet, I’m no fool.”

Just eleven days later (31 January, 1842), Alphonse was baptized, confirmed and made his first Holy Communion.

Shortly afterwards, having broken his engagement, he entered religious life and was ordained a priest.  He spent the rest of his days working and praying for the conversion of his people.  He settled in the Holy Land and, with his brother Theodore, founded a religious order whose mission it was to pray for the conversion of the Jews.  He had a convent built on the very site of Pilate’s palace, the same spot where the Roman governor showed the poor scourged and bleeding Jesus to the crowd, suggesting that He be freed, and where the Jews cried: “Crucify Him! May His blood be upon us and our children!” (Mt 27:25).

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Father Mary-Alphonse de Ratisbonne died in the year 1884, at Ain Karem, St. John the Baptist’s birthplace which is near Jerusalem.


The Descent of the Holy Ghost

The Descent of the Holy Ghost

By Fr McKenna O.P.

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In this Third Glorious Mystery of the Rosary, we commemorate:

— the coming of the Divine Spirit upon the disciples of Christ,

— and the foundation of our Holy Mother the Church.

Pentecost gloriously completes the cycle of the work of the Triune God:

— in the Creation, we worship the almighty power of the heavenly Father;

— in the Redemption, we behold with wonder the sublime mission of the Eternal Son, who said: “The Father hath worked till now, now I work.” Jesus finished in Calvary’s awful hour the work which His Father gave Him to do; and now, after His Ascension, He and the Father send down the Holy Ghost to complete the work of the Blessed Trinity;

— thus, the Holy Ghost is especially the gift of the other two Divine Persons.  His mission is the sublime work of guiding the Church, illuminating her supreme pastors, inspiring her saints, filling her doctors and her confessors with His choicest gifts, and establishing the reign of God in the souls of the faithful.

It is true that the Holy Ghost was always in the world. The Spirit of God spoke by the mouth of the patriarchs and the prophets from the beginning; but on the great festival of Pentecost He came in a different manner, being, in the language of Scripture, poured out on the disciples to fit them for their exalted office.  His advent was the especial fruit of our Blessed Lord’s sufferings and death. The world had no right to His coming; it was unfitted for His sublime presence and work.

But Jesus merited for us this heavenly gift, and went before the Father in order to plead for it in our behalf. “If I go not,” He said, ” the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John xvi. 7). Presenting His sacred humanity before His heavenly Father, Our Lord besought Him through His adorable wounds to bestow this sublime gift upon His followers.

And why was this?  Why, we may ask, was the Paraclete sent to us?  It was to perfect the work which the Son of God came on earth to inaugurate.  He had come to establish His Church, He had come to build the Bark of Peter. During His public life Our Lord had collected the materials for that vessel. He had placed its timbers in their proper order; and, to use a figure employed by the early Fathers of the Church, having completed that Bark of Peter, it was destined to sail over every sea, to brave every storm, to be tried by every tempest, to be pursued by every piratical enemy.  Men and demons would do their utmost to destroy it; but it was not destined to perish, for on it depended the salvation of the world.

On the first glorious Feast of Pentecost St. Peter’s Bark was launched — the sails of that mighty vessel were first unfurled.  What, then, was needed but a skilled Pilot to guide her course and favorable winds to fill her sails?  To-day, she commences her glorious voyage ; to-day, the divine Pilot — the Holy Ghost— is on board!  To-day, the winds of heaven fill her sails; to-day, her crew begin to cast forth their net. St. Peter’s Bark will sweep over every sea and gather in all souls destined for a happy eternity!

Let us here reflect for a moment upon the disciples of Christ, who formed the crew of that vessel. Let us consider their condition before the coming of the Holy Ghost.

In the first place, we are told that they were hidden away in an upper chamber in Jerusalem, fearing the Jews. They were timid, cowardly men; their faith was yet weak: their hearts were trem­bling within them. They dreaded to proclaim publicly the glorious name of their Master, in whom they firmly believed; nay, more, they were poor laborers — ignorant, uneducated men, little skilled in public preaching.

But lo! at the sound from Heaven, “as of a rushing mighty wind which filled the whole house where they were sitting,” a great change came over them. “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost,” says the Scripture. That Divine Spirit appeared to them like tongues of fire, whereby their exalted mission as preachers of the Gospel was typified and emphasized. Instantly their cold hearts burned with the fire of the Apostolate! Fear and, cowardice departed forever.

The Apostles, having become in a manner new men, are now inflamed with the love of God and with the desire for the salvation of all mankind. They go forth immediately to proclaim the dignity, the power and the sanctity of that name which was so despised by the Jews, the glorious name of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus-Christ. Boldly declaring their belief in His divinity, these once timid men are now willing to die martyrs for their Faith and the cause of the Blessed Master. The effect of Peter’s first sermon on the day of Pentecost is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Three thousand were converted — “devout men out of every nation under heaven;” for at that time were gathered in Jerusalem, in order to celebrate the Pentecostal festival, Jews from nearly every part of the world whither the Hebrews had been scattered. All these were confounded, as the Acts testify, because every man with amazement heard the Apostles speak to him in his own tongue.

In creating this material world our heavenly Father was pleased not to leave it in darkness, but placed the sun in the heavens to shed light and heat over its surface, to bring fruits and flowers to perfection. And that sun is so exalted, so far removed from human influences, that no man or nation can interfere with its light. So, in creating His Church, our Blessed Lord gave to it His Holy Spirit, which is its true Light, abiding with it forever, and conducting its children to paradise by the way of Christian perfection. Nor can men or demons prevent that sublime mission:

— Following St. Peter, the first to claim the special indwelling of the Paraclete is the supreme Head of the Church, its visible ruler and vicegerent of Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost abides with our Holy Father the Pope, illuminating his counsels, filling him with divine wisdom, guarding him from error in his teachings, and, in short, making him what he is — the infallible guide for both pastors and people1.

— He, the Third Person of the Adorable Trinity, is with the Church in her councils, filling her hierarchy with zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of their people2. He directs their deliberations, illuminating their intellects so as to guard their people from all error and heresy.

— He is with the individual bishop, assisting him with the work of his diocese.

— He is with the pastor, instructing and enlightening his people. He is with the priest in the administration of the Sacraments. In the words of St. Augustine: “When I baptize, it is the Holy Ghost who purifies; when I pronounce the words of salvation, it is the Holy Ghost who cleanses from sin; when I speak the words of consecration, it is the Holy Ghost who changes bread into the Body of Our Lord, and wine into His Blood.”

— The Holy Ghost is with the nun in the schoolroom, with the mother in the Christian home, teaching the child the simple but sublime truths of our holy religion. He is with the faithful, welding them together, uniting them, as the grains of wheat in the bread, into that glorious body of believers of which Jesus Christ is the Head3.

Sublime mission of the Holy Ghost! Wonderful gift of God to a sinful world! For nineteen hundred years4 has that sublime Spirit continually remained with the Bark of St. Peter, bringing and preserving therein all the children of God in the unity of faith and in the bond of charity.

From these marvelous conditions and results shall not all men, not willfully blind to the light of truth, believe and testify that the Church is the spotless Spouse of Christ, the immaculate Bride of the Lamb? “By this shall all men know,” says Christ, “that you are my disciples— if you have love one for another;” and again, in the discourse at the Last Supper: “I pray for them that they all may be one, as Thou, Father in me, and I in Thee” (John xvii. 21).

Proceeding to reflect upon the work of the Holy Ghost in the individual soul, we should, each of us, consider here the infinite debt we owe to that Divine Spirit for the precious graces which He has bestowed on us through the holy Sacraments:

— First of all, should we gratefully acknowledge the gift of Faith — that gift which is so inestimably precious that without it it is impossible to please God, as St. Paul emphatically declares.

Though the Holy Ghost, according to Sacred Scripture, is most prodigally shed abroad throughout the whole universe, how many are there, alas, who place obstacles to that divine Luminary and prevent its rays from penetrating their souls! Ignorance, prejudice, and the corruption of gross vices are as so many dense clouds which prevent the rays of that divine Light from illumining the soul. It is true that Faith is a free gift of God, and that God may and can, and often does, bestow that gift, even unasked, upon persons leading a life of sin. Thus, He enlightened Saul on the road to Damascus, and made him an apostle at the very time that he was breathing threats against the Christians. But, as a rule, the priceless gift of Faith must be asked of God, and the means of obtaining it must be employed by those who desire to possess it, one of those means being the Sacrament of Baptism. Baptism is not only the door to the other Sacraments, but it gives us a spiritual right to the Holy Ghost. It infuses into the heart of the recipient the gift of divine Faith, which is to the soul what sight is to the body; and it enables even a child, as reason dawns, to grasp the lofty teachings of the Church. Later on in the Christian life, the Holy Ghost is given to the children of God in the Sacrament of Confirmation, by which, in the language of St. Paul, we become the temples of the Holy Ghost, and should (as he tells us) glorify and bear God in our body. The work of the Holy Ghost in the individual soul is to form Jesus Christ in it. Hence, again says the Apostle of the Gentiles, “The Holy Ghost is laboring with unceasing groaning that Jesus Christ be formed in you.” And if, true to His guidance, the soul advances from perfection to perfection, becoming more and more enlightened, more and more inflamed with the love of God, it at last arrives at that sublime state to which Christ called all His followers when He enjoined upon them: “Be ye perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

According to St. Paul, there are three ways of opposing the Holy Ghost in His action on the soul:

The first is our resistance to His divine influence when we do not cooperate with His loving designs in the work of our sanctification. He is ever laboring with unceasing groaning (says the Apostle) to form Christ in us. He is urging us to more fervent and frequent prayer, to more manly self-denial, more frequent and profitable approach to the Sacraments, more earnest imitation of our Blessed Lord, who counsels us to renounce ourselves, and daily to take up our cross and follow Him.

It grieves this Blessed Spirit of God to behold us so careless and indifferent in the great work of our own sanctification. We are like a lazy farmer who, possessed of rich soil which if well cultivated would produce luscious and abundant fruit, fails to improve his opportunities. We also fail to cooperate with our gracious Lord in producing a golden harvest. We also fail to obey Him who tells us to lay up treasures in heaven, where the rust cannot destroy, nor moths consume, nor thieves break through and steal.

— The second way in which we oppose the Holy Ghost is when we grieve Him by deliberately committing venial sin. Venial sin does not kill the soul, but it often seriously wounds it. It defiles it, and, in a manner, paralyzes it by weakening its energies and leaving it faint and sickly. Just as neglect of a trifling malady often leads to the death of the body, so venial sin too often leads the soul to mortal sin.

Alas, for the careless Christian whose life abounds in many willful venial sins! By undue indulgence of the appetite, slothfulness in prayer and other religious duties; by slight fits of anger, or of impatience; and, what is far more serious, by frequenting dangerous company, and giving the eyes, the tongue and the mind liberties that are dangerous to modesty, how often do men and women seriously wound the soul, even though they do not actually cause her death!

— But the greatest of all evils occurs when the sinner utterly quenches the light of the Holy Ghost by willful mortal sin. “Know you not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost?” “He who defileth the temple of God,” says St. Paul, “him shall the Lord destroy.” It is true that although the sentence of death is passed upon deadly sin, through the infinite mercy of God, its execution is often deferred. Though the Holy Ghost is driven away from the soul by one mortal sin, and the temple of God is horribly deformed and devastated, like a beautiful structure charred and blackened by fire, yet, praise be to God! the Holy Ghost does not yet abandon the unworthy Christian. By many gentle and loving means He still strives to bring back the sinner to repentance. Even as the dove, driven from its little cote by the serpent which has entered and defiled its nest, hovers around, waiting for the venomous intruder’s departure, in order to return and cleanse its nest and again dwell in its cherished home, or as the poor Irish mother, driven from the loved cottage of her youth by the emissary of the landlord, does not abandon the home of her heart, but sits by the roadside with her children till the intruder has withdrawn, and then goes back to her dwelling, rekindling the fire upon her humble hearth and making bright again her little cottage, so the Holy Spirit does not completely abandon the soul when it falls into mortal sin, but mercifully endeavors to excite it to remorse. Sometimes He makes use of sickness, of loss of temporal goods or friends; sometimes, of the sudden death of a companion in sin. Or, it may be by a mission, a sermon, or a word of advice that the transgressor is induced to enter into himself, to forsake his sinful life, and return once more to his God.

Yes, it is the Holy Ghost who, acting thus upon the sinner’s soul, urges upon him this vital change. And when at length the unfortunate one yields to this Divine Spirit, immediately like a skillful architect, divine love and mercy begin to purify and sanctify the soul, to rebuild its beautiful temple, to adorn it, and make it once more His dwelling place, causing the angels in heaven to rejoice over the sinner doing penance.

Such is the mission and the work of the Holy Ghost. We should then labor earnestly to cooperate with Him in that blessed work of our sanctification:

— Let us be fervent in prayer for this is the will of God that we watch and pray without ceasing, lest we enter into temptation.

— Frequently, too, let us approach the Sacraments of Penance and the Blessed Eucharist, for they are the great channels through which the Holy Ghost directly acts on our souls.

— Let us not grieve the Holy Spirit by exposing ourselves to sin or the occasions of sin, but faithfully correspond to His graces, and grate fully thank Him for the gift of Faith, which infinitely surpasses all the riches and treasure of this world.

(From the book of Fr. Charles-Hyacinth McKenna O.P.,  The Treasures of the Rosary, New York, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1917  (written 1835)


The Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven

The Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven

By Fr McKenna O.P.

image

The sanctuary of PONTCHÂTEAU in France, a place of pilgrimage founded by Saint Louis-Mary Grignion de Montfort ; representing the Ascension

 

And He led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands, He blessed them. And it came to pass, whilst He blessed them, He departed from them and was carried up to heaven.  And they, adoring, went back into Jerusalem with great joy.— Luke xxiv, 50.

The Second Glorious Mystery makes known to us how our Blessed Lord, having appeared to His disciples on many occasions after His Resurrection, ascended at last in their sight to Heaven.  It was meet, in order to elevate their hearts to a desire of the blessed life beyond the grave, that He should show them a part of that glory which is His from all eternity.

Oh, how consoling it is to the Christian soul to meditate on the happiness of Heaven: to know that, after this life of peril and trial, of suffering and sorrow, there is prepared for us through the Passion and death of our Lord and Saviour, a glorious home, where we shall rejoice with Him in never-ending happiness! Were it not for this divine Faith, which supports us in the midst of our daily troubles, how many would sink into dark despair, and curse the hour that they came into life!  But when we realize, in the light of Faith, that our true home is in our Father’s kingdom, beyond the grave, when we firmly believe that He hath prepared a place for us there, in one of His many mansions, an abode of everlasting happiness, in the blissful company of His saints and angels, where we will see God face to face — then, indeed, we can cheerfully take up our daily crosses and patiently bear them onward, in the glad expectation of that revelation of His glory, of that coming of His kingdom, of that eternal rest in the bosom of our God.

Before the clear and explicit teachings of our Blessed Lord concerning the life beyond the grave, mankind entertained very confused conceptions of the joys of Heaven.

* It was His own divine lips that told us of the many mansions in His Father’s kingdom.

* It was He who declared that He departed from earth in order to prepare a place for us above, where, as He said, we should be with Him forever and share in His glory, where we should even eat and drink at His table — at the marriage feast of the Lamb.

* It was He who declared that the blessed in heaven should be as the angels, pure and spiritual, neither marrying nor giving in marriage; and that, with the angels, they should see the face of His Father and thereby enjoy eternal happiness.

Before the coming of Christ the ancient patriarchs, it is true, had some knowledge of a life beyond the grave. They expected vaguely to enjoy a lasting happiness in a future existence. Holy Job has said:

For I know that my Redeemer liveth; . . . that in my flesh I shall see my God, whom I myself shall see and my eyes shall behold and not another. This my hope is laid up in my bosom.” (Job xix. 25).

The mother of the Machabees and the holy priest, Nicanor, spoke of the joys of heaven; David, in his Psalms, tells us how his heart thirsted for the courts of the Lord; and he extolled the happiness of those who dwelt in the house of the Lord forever.

Yet beyond this, mankind in general entertained gloomy and depressing views regarding the life after death.

* The ancient Romans believed in the Elysian fields; yet how sad were their conceptions of a land where departed spirits moved silently among kindred shades in a land of darkness!

* The Indian believed in a happy hunting-ground.

* The Mohammedan, in a paradise of sensual pleasures.

The Christian alone, through the teaching of Our Lord and the light which the Holy Ghost has given to the Church, is able to grasp clear conceptions of that Heavenly City, of that New Jerusalem depicted by St. John and the Evangelists, where the elect enjoy ineffable peace and joy. It was our Blessed Lord who led captivity captive, and opened for the souls in Limbo and all His blessed followers the glorious kingdom of eternal happiness.

Let us approach in spirit the scene of the Ascension.

Mary, our Blessed Mother, and the disciples were assembled that solemn day on Mount Olivet. Jesus had given to them His last instructions, after which He lovingly blessed His Mother and His disciples, and told them not to depart from Jerusalem until the Comforter should come to them. As He was yet speaking, He began gradually to ascend before them, through the limpid air, until a cloud received Him out of their sight. All remained, looking upward, transfixed in adoring silence.

The disciples rejoiced in the glory and the triumph of their Blessed Master, yet their hearts grew heavy at His departure. How lonely was that mountain solitude without Him!

Did not Mary feel the departure of the visible presence of her adorable Son? Had she not, perhaps, tenderly implored Him that she might accompany Him? Whither will He go without His Blessed Mother? Might she not, now that her mission was accomplished, depart with Him to share in His heavenly glory, as she had shared so profoundly in His earthly sufferings and sorrows?

No, Blessed Mother, your time has not yet come; you have still a grand and important task to accomplish! The infant Church needs your care; you are to guide and direct it, even as you tended and watched over your adorable Son in His infancy. The Apostles need your maternal presence, your advice, your encouragement; the Evangelists need your wise instructions. You are yet to tell St. Luke all the beautiful truths connected with the mysteries of the Annunciation, the visit of St. Elizabeth, the birth of Our Lord, and the coming of the shepherds and the Wise Men. You must reveal the incidents of your Divine Child’s flight into Egypt; of His presentation in the Temple; of your finding Him there after the three days’ loss, and all the other wonderful happenings of His infancy, childhood and youth, which were known to you and Joseph alone.

Let us now follow in spirit our ascended Redeemer to the celestial realms.

It is a day of triumph and rejoicing in Heaven: The King of Glory goes to enter into His rest, to take possession of the Kingdom prepared for Him from all eternity.

He brings with Him the trophies of His victory: all the souls in Limbo arise to join Him in that glorious procession, where He goes forth as a conqueror and demands admittance at the celestial gates for Himself and His ransomed followers.

The infinite debt has been paid; death and Hell have been conquered; divine justice is satisfied, the kingdom of salvation has been bravely fought for and gloriously won! As He said to His disciples at Emmaus: “Was it not meet that the Son of Man should thus suffer, and so enter into His glory?” (Luke xxiv. 26).

Valiantly did He struggle and suffer for us, and now He goes to enter upon His glory. In that hour of immortal triumph were fulfilled the words of David, when he saw in prophetic vision this glorious Ascension of the world’s Redeemer.

Hearken to the angels who accompany Our Lord, as they demand admittance into heaven! Hear them cry aloud:

Lift up your gates, ye princes, and be ye lifted up, oh, eternal gates, and the King of Glory shall enter in!

And the angels within the portals having demanded:

Who is this King of Glory?

Lo! the angels of the procession reply:

The Lord God of Heaven, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your gates, ye princes, and be ye lifted up, oh, eternal gates, and the King of Glory shall enter in!

Then for the first time those everlasting gates were opened to ransomed humanity, and that glorious procession, headed by our Blessed Lord, entered the mansions of eternal bliss. There did He take possession of His eternal throne, to rule and govern His mighty kingdom forever.

Behold our human nature seated at the right hand of the Father! Behold that body, once torn by scourges and lacerated by thorns and nails! Once covered with blood and wounds, it is brighter than ten thousand suns, filling all the empyrean with its glory! How joyously the angels must have come to welcome Him, to adore and praise Him, to thank Him for opening heaven to our fallen race! Then were the patriarchs and prophets who accompanied Our Lord received into the mansions of eternal bliss; and for the first time since the fall of the angels the empty thrones of Lucifer and his hosts were filled with ransomed captives. Two thousand years have now passed.

How many blessed spirits have since entered Heaven!

How many glorious martyrs, who suffered and bled and died for Him, have followed their Blessed Master into His kingdom and received from Him their imperishable crown!

For us, also, a brief period in this land of exile, devoted to the faithful service of our King and our God, shall purchase an eternity of bliss. Oh, how all Christians, and especially members of the Rosary Confraternity, should rejoice in the recitation of this Second Glorious Mystery!

The blissful Ascension of our Redeemer is the forerunner, the guarantee, of our own; for one day we, too, if faithful to His commandments, shall ascend to that glorious kingdom and participate in His rewards.

— Let us, therefore, unite with the angels and the saints in congratulating Our Lord on His triumph over death and Hell, ever humbly thanking Him for the immortal victory that He has gained for Himself and for us.

Let us congratulate those ancient patriarchs and prophets, those illustrious apostles, martyrs, and virgins who share with Him now the joys of heaven, and ask that whilst they continue to praise and bless our Redeemer, they may beseech Him to conduct us, in His own good time, to those everlasting mansions of bliss which He has prepared for His elect.

During our pilgrimage here below we are often visited by trials and crosses, pains of body and mind, of heart and of soul. Our good God has His wise designs in sending us these sufferings. If accepted in a Christian spirit, they accomplish a great work in our souls; if borne patiently for the love of our crucified Master, they merit an eternal reward. All such tribulations detach our hearts from the pleasures of this life. They force us to pray, and to seek help from on high. Above all, they make us turn our eyes and hearts to that blessed home, where sorrow never enters, and they enable us to lay up treasures there which naught of earth can destroy nor thief break in and steal.

Lately there died a woman of great sanctity, who had spent forty-five long years under the stress of bitter sorrow and persecution. She had been induced by her mother, contrary to her own inclination, to marry a man of wealth, who was many years her senior. He was of a cruel temper, often dissipated, insanely jealous, and seemed to delight in making the life of his devoted wife miserable. Though reared a Catholic, he had abandoned both Church and Sacraments, and did what he could to prevent his family from practicing their religious duties.  Like St. Monica, his faithful companion constantly prayed for her husband’s conversion.  To that end her Communions, her Masses, her Rosaries, and Stations of the Cross were continually offered; and as her children became capable of praying and of attending to their religious duties, they were carefully taught to offer all their good works for the conversion of their father.  Often her neighbors said to her:

Why not get a divorce?  He is rich; you could have a good living from him!

Her answer was always:

Ah, no; I married him for better or for worse.

A year before he died, the long-desired, long-prayed-for change occurred. The unworthy husband became a true penitent, and in his last days craved for no other attendant save his patient, loyal wife.  He died, at last, an edifying, consoling death.  After his funeral the priest said to her:

How happy you should be in the beautiful death of your husband!”  “Ah, yes, Father,” she said.  “I knew it would come.  I knew our heavenly Father would not refuse my prayers and the prayers of our children.  Father, the neighbors long-wanted me to put the poor man away and get a divorce; but I knew that had I done so he would have died a wretched death, and I could never have forgiven myself for it.  Father,”  she added,  “I have great confidence in the Rosary of our Blessed Mother.  To her I constantly appealed during the dark years of the past.  I felt she would not abandon me, but would some day lift the cross that was crushing me.”

Let us likewise be faithful to the Rosary; and though we may not obtain our petitions immediately after presenting them through the hands of the Mother of God, let us, like this good woman, valiantly persevere.  Let us have her unwavering confidence that, sooner or later, our prayers will be answered.  Through Mary we can obtain all necessary graces for ourselves and others in this life; and, what is more, we shall one day merit, through her powerful intercession, to follow our ascended Lord into His kingdom of light and peace. With her, the saints and the angels, we shall then behold forevermore the glory of our Blessed Redeemer, triumphantly seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

(From the book of Fr. Charles-Hyacinth McKenna O.P.,  The Treasures of the Rosary, New York, P.J. Kennedy & Sons, 1917  – written 1835)