Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé No. 25: May 2017

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé

No. 25: May 2017

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The Passion of the Church

On the evening of Holy Thursday, Our Lord had with His Apostles what has come to be known as the “Last Supper Discourse” (Jn. 13:31 to 16:31).

During the Last Supper, Our Lord ordained His Apostles as Priests and Bishops, and gave them Communion for the first time. He also announced the betrayel of Judas, who left in the night to accomplish his crime…

Being relieved by the absence of the traitor, Our Lord took advantage of these few moments of intimacy with His Apostles in order to prepare them for His imminent departure, and the persecutions to come. That is, He prepares them for the Passion, and gives them the necessary counsels to be able to endure it. Alas, they will not take heed and the prophecy of Jesus will be fulfilled: “You shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone.”

As the Passion of the Church unfolds before our eyes, it is useful for us to meditate on this discourse. At a time where the “ shepherd is struck and therefore the sheep are scattered” (Zach. 13:7), let us listen to Jesus’ instructions, so that we may go through this passion while remaining faithful.

Commentary of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas composed a very profound commentary on the Gospel of Saint John. Let us just summarize here what concerns Jesus’ words after the Last Supper.

After an introduction (Jn. 13:31-38), in which Jesus states the purpose of the Passion (reestablish the glory of God by the perfect sacrifice of the Cross) and the conditions for staying united (charity and humility), He comforts His disciples with regard to the emotions which trouble them: the sadness caused by His leaving (ch. 14) and the fear of persecutions (ch. 15).

His departure should not trouble them, because it brings with it three advantages:

  • free access to the Father through Jesus, who is the “way”, and the perfect image of the Father
  • the coming of the Paraclete
  • Jesus’ own return (in a new manner)

The Paraclete will bring His “gift”: perfect knowledge of God; and Jesus will bring His: peace, a peace that can only come from Him.

Then, Jesus fortifies His Apostles against the fear of persecutions, to which the Passion was only a prelude. He starts with the beautiful “allegory of the vine”: the branches, that is, the faithful as members of Christ’s Mystical Body, need to be purified through suffering in order to bear fruit: not only fruits of (personal) sanctity, but fruits of a productive apostolate. The conditions to bring about this purification and bearing of fruit are: to “keep His words” (Faith purifies the intelligence), prayer (for this work is supernatural), and above all, a love of Jesus proven by the practice of His commandments.

Our Lord does not content Himself with speaking of His Mystical Body; He goes on to explain to His disciples the source of these persecutions: the world, ennemy of Our Lord. The world is united in its hatred, just as the Church is united by charity. The hatred of the world for Jesus’ friends is a reason for consolation: it makes them similar to their Master. In addition, sustained by the Holy Ghost, they will use it as an opportunity to witness to their Faith, even at the price of martyrdom, when necessary.

Chapter 16 adds a few precisions. Regarding persecutions, the Apostles will have to suffer not only from the part of pagans, but also from the Jews, who will “put them out of the synagogues”, and will put them to death “thinking they are doing a service to God.” Regarding the (physical) absence of Jesus, the three Divine Persons will intervene to console the faithful: the Holy Ghost will convince the world of its sin, Jesus will bring perfect (interior) joy, and the Father will from then on listen favorably to all prayers said in the name of Jesus, by those who love Jesus.

A veil of sorrow passes over Jesus’ face at the thought of the impending defection of His Apostles, but right away He promises them peace, and encourages them: “Have confidence, I have overcome the world.”

Application to the Present Situation

In the present passion of the Church, we must first be convinced that God has allowed it only to bring about a greater good (without doubt, the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary promised at Fatima). We must also do all we can to abide in charity and humility, which are the indispensable conditions to receive the help guaranteed by Our Lord.

Because of the crisis in the Church, we no longer benefit from the habitual spiritual aids of times past, in particular the facility to go to Mass and receive the sacraments. We must therefore try by other means to develop our interior life, the life of union with the three Divine Persons present in every soul in the state of grace.

Let us set aside each day a time of meditation to better know and love Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is “the way, the truth and the life,” in letting ourselves be guided by the Holy Ghost. Even outside of this time specially reserved for prayer, we must put ourselves habitually under the influence of this divine and invisible “guest” of our soul (“You shall know him, because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you”), in following His inspirations when He invites us to do an act of charity or make a sacrifice. Lastly, it is important to remain in the peace of Jesus, consequence of order and justice in our life, according to the definition of Saint Augustine: “serenity of mind (order in our intelligence), tranquility of soul (order in our passions), simplicity of heart (order in our will), concord with God and neighbor.”

With regard to persecutions, seeing as Jesus warned His Apostles that they would have to suffer from the part of the Jews (something which was particularly painful for them), let us not be surprised if we must suffer at the hands of members of the Church, subject since Vatican II to the influence of the world, that is, the anti-church (Freemasonry, communism, anti-Christian globalism, etc.).[1]

The tribulations inflicted upon us by the world, and the privations we must endure in order to preserve ourselves from its influence, will only serve to sanctify us, to console the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to save sinners, and, in a mysterious way, to prepare the victory of Jesus and His Holy Mother: “Have confidence, I have overcome the world.”

[1] One of the most powerful means the world uses today to kill the divine life in souls, is internet. 90% of youth consult pornographic websites. Regardless of the question of impurity, screens are anti-contemplative, because they captivate the senses and inhibit the noblest operations of the mind: judgment and contemplation. The remedy? : meditative reading.

Community Chronicle

December 22nd: High Mass in thanksgiving for the 800th anniversary of the approbation of the Order of Friars Preachers by the Holy See. “It is a pious and precious tradition of the Order of Preachers, handed down by its earliest historians, that it owes its existence to a special intervention of the Most Holy Virgin with Her divine Son. She had the inspiration; She is its Mother, Patron and Queen. She takes pleasure in calling it “My order”; the sons of Saint Dominic are Her sons, and they vow obedience on the day of their profession to the Blessed Virgin Mary.” (Fr. Langlais O.P.)

December 25th: Christmas. With the help of the seminarians of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort Seminary, we are able to sing the three different Masses of Christmas.

January 15th: This year being the 500th anniversary of the revolt of Martin Luther, presented as a hero by the conciliar church, the Friary begins a series of sermons on the Council of Trent, “the most beautiful and precise synthesis of Christian doctrine in opposition to the errors of Protestantism” (Fr. Jean-Baptiste AUBRY, Cours d’histoire ecclesiastique).

March 7th: Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Bishop Faure celebrates a Pontifical High Mass, during which he confers the tonsure to four seminarians, the orders of porter and lector to Brothers Louis-Bertrand and Agostinho, and the orders of exorcist and acolyte to Brother Alain. Each new step is a deeper participation in the sovereign priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

March 25th: The Annunciation. On this day when Our Lady clothed Our Lord with the “habit” of His humanity, our postulant Godefroy receives the religious habit and the name “Augustin-Marie”.

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The new Brother receives the kiss of peace.

April 23rd: Father Marie-Dominique is at Saint Malo-du-Bois to represent the Friary for the habit-taking ceremony of Miss Collins (Ireland) in the Institute of the Sisters of Our Lady Co-Redemptrix.

May 5th-8th: Father Angelico replaces Father Ballini in the south of Ireland for weekend Masses. A public 15-decade Rosary (prayed on every First Saturday in the streets of Cork) was attended by a fervent group of faithful, and accompanied by the distribution of Rosaries and booklets on the message of Fatima. A good initiative to imitate!

May 11th: Father Angelico is in Vienna, Virginia, to represent the Friary at the episcopal consecration of His Excellency Bishop Gerardo Zendejas, and his first Pontifical High Mass the next day.

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The four bishops consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during the first Pontifical High Mass of Bishop Zendejas

News from our worksites

The project of a new school/parish cafeteria is now officially under way. The architects have submitted the plans, but ground has not yet been broken. This new building will not only be used by the primary school and Boys’ High School, but also for a wide variety of parish activities: (conferences, parish library, sewing room…).

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Future cafeteria and parish building

The growing number of students and parishioners has rendered this project necessary due to government safety regulations.

Meanwhile, the architects are still studying the restoration of the two “guard towers” at the Priory (the manor house where the Boys’ School is located). The buildings will be used for classrooms.

These two ambitious projects would be out of the question, were it not for the generosity of our loyal benefactors. Please accept our heartfelt thanks for all your support in the past, and we thank you in advance for your continued help!

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

www.dominicansavrille.us

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Meditation for Easter time

Meditation for Easter time

The Resurrection of Our Lord

By Fr Charles-Hyacinth McKenna O.P.

He is risen; He is not here! (Mark 16, 6)

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What transports of unalloyed joy arise within the devout Christian soul when contemplating the glorious mystery of Our Lord’s Resurrection!  How intense the spiritual delight of the faithful members of the Rosary Confraternity in meditating on the beauty, power and majesty of their risen Redeemer:

— They have followed Him in spirit from the moment of His descent from Heaven into the Virgin’s womb, on the morning of the Incarnation.  They have gazed in admiring rapture on the beauty of the human soul of Our Lord, the most perfect work of the Adorable Trinity. They beheld that peerless soul united with the most pure and perfect body formed by the Holy Ghost, not of the slime of the earth, not of the sin-corrupted flesh of Adam, but of the most pure blood of the immaculate heart of Mary. They saw how in that instant the heavens bowed down to the earth, the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us; the Son of God became the true Son of a Virgin Mother.

— Our dear Rosarians have prayerfully followed Our Lord through each mystery of His sacred life, from the poverty and sufferings of the manger of Bethlehem to the agony and ignominy of His death on Calvary. They have gazed in bitter sorrow of spirit upon the livid face of the Divine Victim, when His beautiful soul separated itself from His mangled body; and they have wept with Mary and the disciples when that adorable body was laid in the silent tomb.  But they well know that His mighty soul yet lives; they firmly believe that both body and soul are still united with the Divinity, and that the seed of immortal life is there, soon to burst forth from the sepulchre in the glory of the Resurrection.

Before proceeding further to meditate upon the details of this marvelous miracle, let us pause to consider for a few moments the joy of our Mother, the Church, on this glorious festival.

How supreme the change that has taken place since the dolor and darkness of Good Friday! Then, the agonized Spouse of Christ was submerged in an ocean of bitter sorrow. Her altars were denuded; her ministers were clothed in the sable garments of mourning; a wail of grief went forth from her bosom, piercing the highest heaven.

Behold the glorious transformation of Easter Sunday! Our weeping Mother has dried her tears and hushed her sighs of grief. Her priests appear in vestments of white and gold; her altars are decked with lovely flowers and flaming lights; her organs peal forth exultant paeans, and, in a very rapture of gladness, she calls upon heaven and earth to join in her song of triumph, repeating again and again her thrilling “Alleluias.”

Nor is the Mater Dolorosa forgotten in those joyful canticles of Easter. Tenderly mindful of the sorrows of Mary, the Church cries to her to rejoice in the golden dawn of the Resurrection: “Regina cœli, lætare,” (she chants), “O Queen of Heaven! rejoice, because He whom thou didst merit to bear, hath risen, as He said. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary! because He is truly risen from the dead!” Yes, Blessed Mother, rejoice and be glad! No longer have hell and Satan power over your adorable Son. He lives and reigns forever, the immortal Conquerer of sin and death, and one day, when your grand work for God and His Church is completed, you shall share everlastingly in the joys of His kingdom!

O sweet and gentle Mother! recalling your profound emotions immediately after the death of your Divine Son, assist us to dwell awhile with you on the action of His adorable soul after its separation from the flesh upon Calvary’s cross. You remember the promise the dying Redeemer made to the poor penitent thief that he would be with Him that day in Paradise (Luke 23. 43). That pledge was faithfully fulfilled.

For lo! the moment the soul of Our Lord passed from its blessed body, it descended into hell, as the Apostles’ Creed puts it; that is, it descended not into the hell of the damned, but into Limbo, the prison of the patriarchs, where all the just were confined who had died during 4000 years. What a vast multitude of elect souls was there, waiting, watching, praying for the long-desired moment that had at last arrived! O what joy to those poor captives to behold the glory and beauty of the soul of their Redeemer, which transformed their prison into a paradise of delights ! How fervently they praised and thanked Him for all He had done and suffered in order to give them release from their place of proba­tion!

But the hour draws near when that glorified soul of Our Lord must return to the sepulchre in the Garden, and awaking His adorable body, give it to share in the glory of the Resurrection.  What tongue or pen of men or angels can describe the rapturous reunion of the body and soul of Our Lord on that blissful Easter morn! Lord Jesus, may our bodies and souls experience a measure of that unutterable joy when they meet again on the last day, the day of our resurrection!  Grant, dear Lord, that then there may be no terrible recrimination between flesh and spirit, each accusing the other of its eternal ruin; but rather a mutual joyous congratulation that soul and body united during life in accomplishing the glorious work of their salvation.

On that first Easter Day, the moment the soul of Our Lord returned to the body, it awakened it from the sleep of death and at once filled it with the infinite happiness of the Beatific Vision, giving it all the properties of glorified bodies in the most exalted and perfect degree. Resplendent to behold in its clarity and incorruptibility, invested with subtility and agility, the glorified body of Our Lord passed swiftly through the granite of the sealed tomb.  He did not need to await the rolling back of the stone from the mouth of the sepulchre, which occurred later, to convince the guards of the divinity of the crucified Lord, and to acquaint the devout women and His disciples with the fact that He was no longer there, inasmuch as they could behold the place where they had laid Him.

Our Lord appeared to His Blessed Mother just after His Resurrection, changing her sorrow into intense joy, and giving her in anticipation a share of the glory and happiness that awaited her in Heaven. How sweet and consoling must have been the converse of Our Lord with His Blessed Mother! How she must have thanked and congratulated Him for choosing her to be His companion in the sublime work of the world’s redemption — and for having vouchsafed her a share in His manifold sufferings and sorrows! And how Jesus, in turn, must have thanked His Blessed Mother, and praised and blessed her for all she did and suffered for Him from the moment of His Incarnation to His expiration on the cross! Let us try to picture to ourselves the overflowing rapture of Mary’s immaculate Heart when she beheld the glorified body of her divine Son. She did not go with the devout women when (as the Evangelist tells us) they went very early in the morning to anoint the body of Christ. She well knew that it had no need of the embalming spices or unguents, since it was not destined to molder in the grave. She did not go to visit the tomb on Easter morn with the weeping Magdalen, for she was well aware that the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea was vacant of its divine Tenant. Already her adorable Son had visited and consoled her. And with what ecstatic joy must she have gazed on those hands and feet, lately so livid and lacerated, now shining as if adorned with dazzling jewels; on that glorified body, so horribly torn by the scourges, now resplendently arrayed with heavenly vesture; on that sacred face, once clouded by blood and bruises, now more brilliant than ten thousand suns, thence diffusing the light of the Lamb, which shall fill the New Jerusalem with ineffable delight, from everlasting to everlasting!

Later on, in that first most wonderful Paschal time, when Our Lord appeared to Magdalen, to the other devout women, to Peter, and to the rest of the disciples, and when He saw that they feared and wavered, He said to them: “Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? See My hands and feet — realize that it is I, Myself. Handle and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see Me to have.” He permitted that Thomas should doubt, in order that a more convincing proof of His resurrection might be given, by permitting the incredulous disciple to put his hand in the marks of the wounds still existing in His glorified body. When the disciples saw that it was indeed the Lord, their sorrow was changed into unspeakable joy. They hailed with delight their well-beloved Master, who, having triumphed over death and hell, appears once more among them to console and comfort them, and lovingly to pardon their past defections.

After conversing with them for forty days, He ascended gloriously into Heaven, taking with Him the trophies of His victory — the vast multitude of ransomed souls who were to share through Him and with Him in the glory of His eternal kingdom.

We have spoken to you, dear Rosarians, of the body and soul of our risen Redeemer. But shall we venture to dwell upon the awful subject of His divinity? We know that the adorable Son of God was with the Father from all eternity; and we firmly believe that He did not leave the Father when He descended upon the earth, but that clothing Himself with our humanity, He rendered all its actions of infinite value. He concealed Himself from the eyes of the world in the lowliness and poverty of the manger; but, occasionally, during His mortal career He permitted His divinity to shine forth in His stupendous works. He gave a glimpse of it, though still partially veiled, to His chosen disciples on Mount Thabor. He concealed it during the tragedy of Calvary, for there, for our instruction and example, His poor suffering humanity was forced to cry out in bitter anguish: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” But now, at last, all is consummated. The work He came to do is accomplished. He has completed the work His Father gave Him to do. Man has been redeemed; death and hell are conquered, and Jesus seems to say to us to-day, as He said to the disciples in Emmaus: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so enter into His glory?”

But apart from the joy given to Christians in the mystery of the Resurrection, there are other solid causes of rejoicing which we will now briefly consider:

— The Resurrection was the test miracle of the divinity of our Lord. He frequently adduced it in His public life as the strongest proof that He was God. When He drove the money-changers out of His Father’s house, the Jews wanted to know by what authority He did it. He answered: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I shall raise it up again. Put Me to death, and in three days I shall rise again.” Repeatedly He said to His disciples: “Behold! we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man shall be delivered into the hands of His enemies. They will scourge Him and put Him to death, and the third day He shall rise again.” When that obdurate people asked of Him a sign, a proof that He was the Son of God, He said, ” An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign, and no sign shall be given it, except the sign of Jonas the prophet; for as Jonas was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so shall it be with the Son of Man. He shall be in the bowels of the earth three days and three nights.”

The Jews well knew of His repeated prophecy, and therefore they did all in their power to defeat its accomplishment. Hence, the Resurrection of the crucified Saviour is the strongest proof of the divinity of our Faith, as well as the divinity of Jesus Christ. “If Christ be not risen, our Faith is in vain,” says St. Paul. And even as from the sleeping Adam his virgin spouse was formed, and given to him for a companion, so, say the Fathers, from the sleeping Christ and from the empty tomb the Church came forth in all her virginal beauty, to be forevermore the Spouse of Jesus-Christ. It was in this faith of the Resurrection that St. Peter performed his first miracle. “Know this,” he said, “that it is in the name of Jesus Christ whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, in His name this man stands before you whole!” It was in the name of the crucified and risen Saviour that all the miracles wrought by the Apostles were performed. In the faith of the Resurrection they went forth joyously to labor, to suffer and to die. Seventeen millions of martyrs attested by their blood their faith in the Resurrection. And all that has been done by Christianity for the civilization of the world, for the conversion of nations, for the liberation of slaves, for the elevation of woman, has been accomplished through the faith in the Resurrection.

Besides these general motives for rejoicing in the Resurrection, dear Rosarians, we have each a special one to gladden us. Christ’s Resurrection is the model and the pledge of your resurrection and mine, provided we be found at the last day faithful to our Master. Among all the nations of the earth there has ever existed some sort of belief in a future state. Hence their care for the dead. Hence the Indians’ devotion to the remains of their departed, and their belief in the happy hunting-ground. Hence the funeral pyre, the cremating of the dead, and the gathering of their ashes into urns by the Greeks and Romans. Hence the embalming of bodies among the Egyptians, and the erection of the Pyramids, as the enduring monuments of their kings. In the Old Law, we read of the care of Abraham for the grave of Sarah, the desires of Jacob and Joseph to be interred with their Fathers — all in the hope of a glorious resurrection. Holy Job said: “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth, and I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see my God, Whom I shall myself see, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. This, my hope, is laid up in my bosom.” 4Behold, you who moulder in the dust,” said Isaiah, addressing the dead, “you shall be born again, for the dew which falls on you is vivifying dew.” In a sublime allegory, Ezechiel contemplates a vast plain filled with the dried bones of the dead, which at the preaching of the prophet gradually reentered their mortal bodies, and, beginning to move, being covered with flesh and skin, at last arose, a mighty army of the Lord. Then cried the Almighty through the prophet: ” When ye shall see these things come to pass, know that I am the Lord! ” (Ezechiel 30, 1).

Daniel speaks of the vast multitude who sleep in the earth. All will arise, he says, “some unto life everlasting, and others unto reproach, to see it always. But they that are learned shall shine as the brightness of the firmament” (Daniel 12, 2-3). “Behold,” says St. Paul, “I tell you a great mystery; we shall all rise again, but we shall not all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible, and this mortal shall put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15, 51).

It is a dogma of our Faith that all shall arise again. Our Apostles’ Creed declares: “I believe in the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.” But, alas, Faith does not promise to all a glorious resurrection. Those who persevere in a life of sin, who persistently despise here below the Church and her teachings, can never hope for a blessed immortality. “Be not deceived,” says St. Paul to the Galatians, “God is not mocked; for what things a man sow, the same shall he reap; for he that soweth in the flesh, of the flesh shall reap corruption; but he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6, 7). Again, he says: “They that are Christ’s have crucified their flesh, with Its vices and concupiscences.”  In another place he declares: “Brethren, we are debtors, not to live according to the flesh, for if we live according to the flesh we shall die; but if, by the spirit, we mortify the deeds of the flesh we shall live” (Rom. 8, 13).  Divine Faith, therefore, teaches us that they who continue obstinate enemies of God until the end, will remain His enemies for all eternity. To them we can promise no Easter joy, no glorious resurrection of the body.

You are aware that it is the ardent desire of the Church that all her children who have come to the use of reason should approach the Sacraments during this holy season.  For this, her Lenten service, for this, her sermons and instructions.  She not only desires this, but with all her divine authority she commands it, threatening with awful punishment those who will not comply with her precept.  She declares that they are cut off from the body of the Faithful even as the branch is cut off from the vine.  And Jesus tells us Himself that the fruitless branch cut from the vine is dead, and only fit to be cast into the fire.  Have you all proved your obedience to Jesus Christ by obeying His Church, and approaching the Sacraments with proper dispositions during the Paschal time which she appoints1?   We know the words of Jesus Christ: “He who will not hear the Church, let him be considered as the heathen and the publican.”   And, again, he declares: “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you (John 6, 54).

That Is to say, you may have mere animal life, the life of the beast, the life of the infidel, the life of the lost soul (for the soul must live forever), but you will not have that spiritual, that divine life, which alone comes from our union with God.  In the same chapter, Jesus says:  “I am the living Bread that comes down from heaven, that if any man eat of this Bread he may not die, but live forever, and the Bread that I will give you is my flesh for the life of the world. Except you eat of this Bread, you shall not have life in you.”

How sad it is to realize that, notwithstanding all that Jesus has done and suffered to unite Himself to us in Holy Communion, there are Catholics who, refusing the life-giving Sacraments, continue to the end His mortal enemies!  Let us beg our risen Lord to pity these ungrateful souls and draw them to His Sacred Heart.  And, still more, let me implore all the members of the Rosary to be faithful in their compliance with the important precept of the Easter duty.

And, now, a word in conclusion to those who have truly arisen with Our Lord and Saviour by having made a good confession and Communion.

Father Chevassu tells us that there are three typical resurrections mentioned in Holy Writ:  The resurrection of Samuel, of Lazarus, and of Our Lord.

* Samuel rose but for a moment, and sank down again, questioning Saul and the witch of Endor why they had disturbed him.  His was not the real resurrection.  It was a phantom resurrection.

* Lazarus truly rose from the dead, but he came out of the sepulchre in the same sluggish flesh that had already generated the seeds of corruption: and hence death claimed him a second time.

* Jesus Christ died but once, and “death,” says St. Paul, “had no longer dominion over Him (Rom 6, 9).  He rose to live the divine life of immortality.  Behold, here, the model of our spiritual resurrection!  Some Catholics rise out of their sins for a moment only, and this generally at Easter, but, like Samuel, they soon sink back again into their deadly slumber. O thers remain firm for a time, but gradually yield.  Let us, at least, beloved Rosarians, strive to imitate our Blessed Master.  He rose from the dead never to die again.  He was never seen in the company of His enemies after His Resurrection.  As He shunned them in those blessed days, and appeared only to His disciples, so we, having arisen from the grave of sin, should avoid all evil associations and consort only with the friends of God.

This is the sublime lesson which we should learn from this glorious festival . Like our risen Lord, let us, as St. Paul tells us, walk in the newness of life, that when Christ appears we may also appear with Him in glory.  Fleeing resolutely from the occasions of sin as from the face of the serpent, fortified by fervent prayer and the holy Sacraments, let us also gain a glorious victory for God over His enemies and ours.  Let us persevere to the end in divine grace; and, following, like true disciples, in the footprints of Our Lord, we may confidently hope to rise with Him to a new life and rejoice with Him and His Blessed Mother in the abode of the saints for a happy eternity.

(From the book of Fr Charles-Hyacinth McKenna, The Treasures of the Rosary, written 1835 ; edited by New-York, P.J. Kenedy and sons, 1917).


Meditation for Holy Week

Meditation for Holy Week

The Crucifixion and death of Our Lord

By Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P.

We now come to consider the last of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, and one of the greatest events in the history of our sad and sinful old world.

This mystery, said Bishop Martin of Paderborn, contains, accentuates and consummates the other four Sorrowful Mysteries. It renews the Agony in the garden, reopens the wounds of the flagellation; the crown of thorns is replaced on the head of our Redeemer; the Cross now bears Him who was forced to drag it to Calvary”1

As soon as the doleful procession of that first Good Friday attained the summit of the mountain, Our Lord, faint and weary, was given to drink wine mingled with myrrh and gall.   “But when He had tasted it, He would not drink.”

Then, laying violent hands upon Jesus, His tormentors roughly tore off His garments, to which the flesh of His lacerated body had adhered, thereby reopening all His wounds and causing the blood to flow afresh.  What must have been the confusion of our modest Lord, He who is incarnate purity, to be shamelessly exposed for the second time to the derision of that vast multitude!  Ah, to what profound depths of humiliation did He not descend for our sakes!

Despoiled of His raiment, He was then rudely thrown upon the cross, and four of His inhuman executioners began the work of nailing Him to it.  First, His right hand was fastened to the wood with a rude spike — not a sharp nail, but one blunt and rough, which would mangle and tear the sensitive nerves of the palm of the hand and cause indescribable agony.  The left hand was next seized.  His sacred feet were then nailed to the cross in the same inhuman fashion — and the bloody work of the crucifixion was completed!

The soldiers then gathered around our Blessed Lord to place the cross in position.  Carrying it to the spot which they dug for it in the rock, instead of lowering it gently, they roughly dropped it into the hole, thereby jarring most painfully the whole sacred body, enlarging the wounds in the blessed hands and feet, and causing the precious blood to flow in streams.  His malicious enemies now behold their helpless Victim uplifted in His agony.

Is there no heart among them to regret or condemn this terrible immolation of the sinless Lamb of God?  Ah, no!  Far from being moved to pity for the Just One in His extremity of anguish, the hearts of the spectators seem to grow fiercer and more obdurate, if that be possible.  No word of compassion falls from their lips, but priests and soldiers, alike, vie with one another in mocking and blaspheming Him.

Draw near now, faithful souls, to the foot of the cross, and gazing upon this hideous spectacle of your dying Redeemer, learn the malice of sin, as well as the inexorable justice of God, which exacts for it so tremendous an expiation.  It was our sins rather than the nails which fastened Him to the rough wood of the cross; it was for the secret sins of the world, especially, that He was thus exposed, naked, to the profane gaze of a rude, reviling rabble.

Let us approach still nearer, and catch the faint words which fall from the livid lips of our Blessed Lord in His last agony.  Does He, like other victims of injustice, proclaim His innocence, and call down the maledictions of Heaven upon His persecutors?  Ah, no, very different are the sentiments of the meek and forgiving Son of God!  He becomes, instead, the advocate of His cruel crucifiers before His heavenly Father.  He utters that sublime sentence which should ever find an echo in our hearts and influence our conduct toward those who have done evil to us:  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”

Of the two robbers who were crucified with Him, one was touched by this evidence of divine patience and gentleness, by this tender prayer for mercy for His enemies; and, already believing in Christ’s innocence, by a special grace Dismas, the thief, received faith to believe also in His divinity.  Upbraiding his guilty companion for blaspheming Jesus, he turned to the Master and begged Him to be mindful of him in His kingdom.  In return for this dying act of faith he had the ineffable happiness of hearing from Our Lord’s lips these consoling words:  “This day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.”

In this merciful promise there are grounds of hope for the greatest sinners of the world.  The penitent thief, after a life of sin, finds mercy in his dying moments; yet even here we behold a contrast, a presentation of eternal issues calculated to strike the sinner with fear and trembling.  Of two criminals in like danger of death and damnation, only one was saved!  Reflect well upon this consideration.  Both men had the same Redeemer, dying for the world’s salvation, in their midst.  The precious Blood of Jesus was flowing close to them, ready to ransom their souls.  Both had before them the same example of divine patience; both were offered the grace of the Mediator to do penance — yet one is forever lost; the other saved for all eternity.  Have you not, then, O sinner of to-day! less reason to hope than to fear?  I exhort you, if you desire to secure yourself in so important an affair, hasten your conversion.  Do immediately what the good thief did in his extremity, lest his salvation, which was a miracle of grace, should prove the rock of your destruction, the ordinary chastisement of sinners who forget God during their lives2.

Up to this point, we have said little of the part our Blessed Mother took in Calvary’s tragedy.  Present, as she was, during the fearful fastening of her Son to the tree of shame3, she heard the sound of the hammer driving the rude nails into His sacred hands and feet.  Alas! those violent strokes were as so many cruel blows upon her immaculate heart.  She saw the soldiers raise the cross and drop it roughly into position; she heard the exultant shouts of the multitude as her Son was thus elevated above them the blasphemies that were then uttered by the High Priest and the rabble.  As soon as she saw the soldiers withdraw from the cross, she hastened with her companions to take her position at its foot.

With eyes streaming with tears, she gazes upon the agonized face of her dying Son, upon His brow drenched with blood from the thorny crown, upon His eyes dim with the excess of His pain, upon His pale lips, parched with the consuming thirst attendant on His great loss of blood.  She would give a thousand lives, did she possess them, for the privilege of putting to His lips a draught of cold water to relieve His fevered mouth and throat; but even this poor consolation is denied her.  Jesus knows full well the agonizing desires of her devoted heart; and from His cross He casts upon her a look of tender pity.  It is then that, commending her to the care of St. John, He leaves her as a precious legacy to all His followers until the end of time.  In that supreme moment she becomes, in truth, our Mother, our mediator, our intercessor with her Divine Son.

Soon after this, Our Lord gives expression to the bitterest anguish of His heart in that piteous cry: ” My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken me?”  These appealing words reveal to us the secret of His intense agony in the Garden of Gethsemani, of His torments on the cross.  His keenest suffering is caused by His apparent abandonment by His beloved Father.  Unconsoled and unsupported, He is left alone to battle with the powers of earth and hell, at the mercy of the spirits of darkness, only such aid being rendered as is necessary to prolong His life until His sacrifice shall reach its supreme consummation in death.  This is that poignant anguish which draws forth the bitter cry: “My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

Now nature, less insensible than man, commences to manifest her horror at the spectacle of a God crucified by His creatures.  The sun begins to withdraw its light from the heavens; an awe-inspiring pall of darkness settles down upon that blood-stained city.  Violent convulsions of the earth are felt; Calvary’s rocks are rent; the veil of the Temple, which hides the Holy of Holies from the gaze of the people, is torn asunder, and the dead arise from their graves and appear to many.

The vast multitude on Calvary, who have gathered there to gloat over the death agony of their innocent Victim, hasten to leave that dreadful scene.  Hushed now are the blasphemies, the imprecations, the mockeries of the rabble!  In terror and confusion, they flee over the quaking ground through a darkness which has now grown intense and awful.  A horrible fear assails them.  May we not believe that they then began to realize the enormity of their crime, and feeling that they were indeed guilty of deicide, were moved to exclaim with Longinus: ” Indeed, this was the Son of God!” (Mark xv. 39.)

Only a few remained to witness the end of the great tragedy.  And now the afflicted Mother and her faithful attendants draw nearer to the cross whereon hangs the world’s Redeemer.  Again is heard the voice of the dying Saviour: “All is consummated.”  Having commended His soul to His heavenly Father, He yielded up His spirit.

A little later, the centurion pierced Our Lord’s dead body with a lance, and from the wound there issued forth water and blood, thus testifying that the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the ever-flowing fountain of divine love and mercy, was opened to all mankind.

Still later, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took down His sacred body and placed it for a few moments in the arms of His afflicted Mother.  Poor Mother! with what looks of silent agony you gazed on the mangled body of your adorable Son!  Removing the cruel crown of thorns from His blessed brow, Mary placed it, with the sacred nails, in her heaving bosom, close to her immaculate heart.

Not long after, the dead Christ was removed by Joseph of Arimathea and laid “in his own new monument, which he had hewed out in a rock.” (Matt, xxvii. 60.)  A great stone was rolled to the door of the sepulcher, and Joseph went his way, leaving Mary Magdalen and the other Mary sitting beside the tomb.

Thus ends the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery.  Here, at the door of Christ’s sepulcher, let us kneel with these holy women and ask of our crucified Lord the grace to bear our crosses unto death in meek resignation to His adorable will.  Let us resolve to be ever faithful to His teachings and commandments — to follow closely in His footsteps up the bloodstained mountain of self-sacrifice, and, having died with Him upon Golgotha, merit one day to rise with Him to a happy and glorious eternity.

(From The Treasures of the Rosary, by Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P., written 1835; edited by P.J. Kenedy and Sons, New York, 1917.)


Practice of Christian Mortification – Part 2 (of 2)

Practice of Christian Mortification – Part 2 (of 2)

by Cardinal Mercier

(continued)

Mortifications to practice in our exterior actions

1 — You ought to show the greatest exactitude in observing all the points of your rule of life, obeying them without delay, remembering Saint John Berchmans, who said: “Penance for me is to lead the common life”; “To have the highest regard for the smallest things, such is my motto”; “Rather die than break a single rule.”

2 —In the exercise of your duties of state, try to be well-pleased with whatever happens to be most unpleasant or boring for you, recalling again here the words of Saint Francis: “I am never better than when I am not well.”

3 — Never give one moment over to sloth: from morning until night keep busy without respite.

4 — If your life is, at least partly, spent in study, apply to yourself this advice from Saint Thomas Aquinas to his pupils: “Do not be content to take in superficially what you read and hear, but endeavour to go into it deeply and to fathom the whole sense of it.  Never remain in doubt about what you could know with certainty.  Work with a holy eagerness to enrich your mind; arrange and classify in your memory all the knowledge you are able to acquire.  On the other hand, do not seek to penetrate mysteries which are beyond your intelligence.”

5 — Devote yourself solely to your present occupation, without looking back on what went before or anticipating in thought what will follow.  Say with Saint Francis: “While I am doing this I am not obliged to do anything else”; “let us make haste very calmly; all in good time.”

6 — Be modest in your bearing.  Nothing was so perfect as Saint Francis’s deportment; he always kept his head straight, avoiding alike the inconstancy which turns it in all directions, the negligence which lets it droop forward and the proud and haughty disposition which throws it back.  His countenance was always peaceful, free from all annoyance, always cheerful, serene and open; without however any merriment or indiscreet humour, without loud, immoderate or too frequent laughter.

He was as composed when alone as in a large gathering. He did not cross his legs, never supported his head on his elbow. When he prayed he was motionless as a statue. When nature suggested to him he should relax, he did not listen.

7 — Regard cleanliness and order as a virtue, uncleanness and untidyness as a vice; do not have dirty, stained or torn clothes. On the other hand, regard luxury and worldliness as a greater vice still. Make sure that, on seeing your way of dressing, nobody calls it “slovenly” or “elegant”, but that everybody is bound to think it “decent”.

Mortifications to practice in our relations with our neighbour

1 — Bear with your neighbour’s defects; defects of education, of mind, of character. Bear with everything about him which irritates you: his gait, his posture, tone of voice, accent, or whatever.

2 — Bear with everything in everybody and endure it to the end and in a Christian spirit. Never with that proud patience which makes one say: “What have I to do with so and so? How does what he says affect me? What need have I for the affection, the kindness or even the politeness of any creature at all and of that person in particular?” Nothing accords less with the will of God than this haughty unconcern, this scornful indifference; it is worse, indeed, than impatience.

3 — Are you tempted to be angry?  For the love of Jesus, be meek.

To avenge yourself?  Return good for evil; it is said the great secret of touching Saint Teresa’s heart was to do her a bad turn.

To look sourly at someone?  Smile at him with good nature.

To avoid meeting him?  Seek him out willingly.

To talk badly of him?  Talk well of him.

To speak harshly to him?  Speak very gently, warmly, to him.

4 — Love to give praise to your companions, especially those you are naturally most inclined to envy.

5 — Do not be witty at the expense of charity.

6 — If somebody in your presence should take the liberty of making remarks which are rather improper, or if someone should hold conversations likely to injure his neighbour’s reputation, you may sometimes rebuke the speaker gently, but more often it will be better to divert the conversation skillfully, or indicate by a gesture of sorrow or of deliberate inattention that what is said displeases you.

7 — It costs you an effort to render a small service: offer to do it.  You will have twice the merit.

8 — Avoid with horror posing as a victim in your own eyes or those of others.  Far be it from you to exaggerate your burdens; strive to find them light; they are so, in reality, much more often than it seems; they would be so always if you were more virtuous.

Conclusion

In general, know how to refuse to nature what she asks of you unnecessarily.

Know how to make her give what she refuses you for no reason.  Your progress in virtue, says the author of The Imitation of Christ, will be in proportion to the violence that you succeed in doing to yourself.

“It is necessary to die,” said the saintly Bishop of Geneva, “it is necessary to die in order that God may live in us, for it is impossible to achieve the union of the soul with God by any means other than by mortification.  These words ‘it is necessary to die’ are hard, but they will be followed by a great sweetness, because one dies to oneself for no other reason than to be united to God by that death.”   

Would to God we had the right to apply to ourselves these beautiful words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians:  “In all things we suffer tribulation… Always bearing about in our body the death of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.” (II Cor 4:8-10)

Practice of Christian Mortification

Practice of Christian Mortification

by Cardinal Mercier

N.B.: All the practices of mortification which we have collected here are derived from the examples of the saints, especially Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Teresa, Saint Francis de Sales, Saint John Berchmans; or they are recommended by acknowledged masters of the spiritual life, such as the Venerable Louis de Blois, Rodriguez, Scaramelli, Msgr Gay, Abbé Allemand, Abbé Hamon, Abbé Dubois, etc…

Mortification of the body

1 — In the matter of food, restrict yourself as far as possible to simple necessity. Consider these words which Saint Augustine addressed to God: “O my God, Thou hast taught me to take food only as a remedy. Ah! Lord, who is there among us who does not sometimes exceed the limit here? If there is such a one, I say that man is great, and must give great glory to Thy name.” (Confessions, book X, ch. 31)

2— Pray to God often, pray to God daily to help you by His grace so that you do not overstep the limits of necessity and do not permit yourself to give way to pleasure.

3— Take nothing between meals, unless out of necessity or for the sake of convenience.

4— Practise fasting and abstinence, but practise them only under obedience and with discretion.

5— It is not forbidden for you to enjoy some bodily satisfaction, but do so with a pure intention, giving thanks to God.

6— Regulate your sleep, avoiding in this all faint-heartedness, all softness, especially in the morning. Set an hour, if you can, for going to bed and getting up, and keep strictly to it.

7— In general, take your rest only in so far as it is necessary; give yourself generously to work, not sparing your labour. Take care not to exhaust your body, but guard against indulging it; as soon as you feel it even a little disposed to play the master, treat it at once as a slave.

8— If you suffer some slight indisposition, avoid being a nuisance to others through your bad mood; leave to your companions the task of complaining for you; for yourself, be patient and silent as the Divine Lamb who has truly borne all our weaknesses.

9— Guard against making the slightest illness a reason for dispensation or exemption from your daily schedule. “One must detest like the plague every exception when it comes to rules,” wrote Saint John Berchmans.

10 —Accept with docility, endure humbly, patiently and with perseverance, the tiresome mortification called illness.

Mortification of the senses, of the imagination and the passions

1 — Close your eyes always and above all to every dangerous sight, and even – have the courage to do it – to every frivolous and useless sight. See without looking; do not gaze at anybody to judge of their beauty or ugliness.

2—Keep your ears closed to flattering remarks, to praise, to persuasion, to bad advice, to slander, to uncharitable mocking, to indiscretions, to ill-disposed criticism, to suspicions voiced, to every word capable of causing the very smallest coolness between two souls.

3 — If the sense of smell has something to suffer due to your neighbour’s infirmity or illness, far be it from you ever to complain of it; draw from it a holy joy.

4 — In what concerns the quality of food, have great respect for Our Lord’s counsel: “Eat such things as are set before you.”   “Eat what is good without delighting in it, what is bad without expressing aversion to it, and show yourself equally indifferent to the one as to the other. There,”says Saint Francis de Sales, “is real mortification.”

5 — Offer your meals to God; at table impose on yourself a tiny penance: for example, refuse a sprinkling of salt, a glass of wine, a sweet, etc.; your companions will not notice it, but God will keep account of it.

6— If what you are given appeals to you very much, think of the gall and the vinegar given to Our Lord on the cross: that cannot keep you from tasting, but will serve as a counterbalance to the pleasure.

7— You must avoid all sensual contact, every caress in which you set some passion, by which you look for passion, from which you take a joy which is principally of the senses.

8— Refrain from going to warm yourself, unless this is necessary to save you from being unwell.

9— Bear with everything which naturally grieves the flesh, especially the cold of winter, the heat of summer, a hard bed and every inconvenience of that kind. Whatever the weather, put on a good face; smile at all temperatures. Say with the prophet: “Cold, heat, rain, bless ye the Lord.” It will be a happy day for us when we are able to say with a good heart these words which were familiar to Saint Francis de Sales: “I am never better than when I am not well.”

10— Mortify your imagination when it beguiles you with the lure of a brilliant position, when it saddens you with the prospect of a dreary future, when it irritates you with the memory of a word or deed which offended you.

11— If you feel within you the need to day-dream, mortify it without mercy.

12— Mortify yourself with the greatest care in the matter of impatience, of irritation, or of anger.

13— Examine your desires thoroughly; submit them to the control of reason and of faith:  Do you never desire a long life rather than a holy life, wish for pleasure and well-being without trouble or sadness, victory without battle, success without setbacks, praise without criticism, a comfortable, peaceful life without a cross of any sort – a that is to say, a life quite opposite to that of Our Divine Lord?

14—Take care not to acquire certain habits which, without being positively bad, can become injurious, such as habits of frivolous reading, of playing at games of chance, etc..

15— Seek to discover your predominant failing and, as soon as you have recognised it, pursue it all the way to its last retreat. To that purpose, submit with good will to whatever could be monotonous or boring in the practice of the examination of conscience.

16— You are not forbidden to have a heart and to show it, but be on your guard against the danger of exceeding due measure.  Resist attachments which are too natural, particular friendships and all softness of the heart.

Mortification of the mind and of the will

1— Mortify your mind by denying it all fruitless imaginings, all ineffectual or wandering thoughts which waste time, dissipate the soul, and render work and serious things distasteful.

2— Every gloomy and anxious thought should be banished from your mind. Concern about all that could happen to you later on should not worry you at all. As for the bad thoughts which bother you in spite of yourself, you should, in dismissing them, make of them a subject for patience.  Being involuntary, they will simply be for you an occasion of merit.

3—Avoid obstinacy in your ideas, stubbornness in your sentiments. You should willingly let the judgments of others prevail, unless there is a question of matters on which you have a duty to give your opinion and speak out.

4— Mortify the natural organ of your mind, which is to say the tongue. Practise silence gladly, whether your rule prescribes it for you or whether you impose it on yourself of your own accord.

5— Prefer to listen to others rather than to speak yourself; and yet speak appropriately, avoiding as extremes both speaking too much, which prevents others from telling their thoughts, and speaking too little, which suggests a hurtful lack of interest in what they say.

6— Never interrupt somebody who is speaking and do not forestall, by answering too swiftly, a question he would put to you.

7— Always have a moderate tone of voice, never abrupt or sharp.  Avoid exaggeration, as being horrible.

(To be continued)

Sister Lucy of Fatima and the Rosary

Sister Lucy of Fatima and the Rosary

“Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace in the world, and the end of the war.”

Our Lady of Fatima 13 May 1917

All souls of good will can and should pray the Rosary every day. They can recite it in a church whether the Most Holy Sacrament is exposed or residing in the tabernacle. They can pray it as a family as well as individually, while out and about or travelling. The Rosary is the most accessible prayer for everyone, both rich and poor, learned or uneducated. It should be like spiritual bread for everyone. By means of the mysteries which we recall in each decade, it nourishes and increases in our souls faith, hope and charity.

“I want … you to pray the rosary every day.”

13 June 1917

We should pray the Rosary every day for we all need to pray, and have a duty to do so. If we do not save ourselves through innocence, then we must save ourselves through penance. For this, let the small daily sacrifice of reciting the Rosary, which we offer to God, be united to this prayer of supplication:

‘Our Father Who art in Heaven… Forgive us as we forgive those who have offended us. ’     ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us poor sinners, now and at the hour of our death.’

“I want … you to continue praying the Rosary every day.“

13 July 1917

Our Lady stresses this and asks us to persevere in prayer.

It is not enough to pray for a day. We need to pray always, every day, with faith, trustingly, since every day we commit faults, and every day we need to turn to God asking Him to forgive us and help us.

“I want … you to continue to pray the rosary every day.”

19 August 1917

Our Lady is insistent because she knows our inconstancy in doing good, our fragility and our spiritual poverty, and like a Mother, she comes to meet us, to hold us by the hand and support us in our weakness along the path which we must follow to be saved. This path is that of prayer. It’s there that we shall meet with God. That’s why she has asked us to say, at the end of each decade, ‘ O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.’ That is, those who find themselves in danger of damnation.

“Continue to pray the rosary to obtain the end of the war.”

13 September 1917

By this insistence, Our Lady is showing us how we very much need to pray in order to obtain the grace of peace between nations, among peoples, in families, homes, consciences, and between God and souls.

It is only when the light, power and grace of God penetrate our hearts and souls that we will come to truly and mutually understand each other, forgive each other, and help each other. That is the only way to arrive at a true and just peace. But in order to obtain it, we need to pray!

“I want … you all to continue to pray the rosary every day.”

13 October 1917

Truly, the Rosary is the prayer that should bring us daily closer to God. It is not an exclusively Marian prayer; it is even more a biblical and Eucharistic prayer addressed to the most Holy Trinity. With each decade we pray the ‘Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Ghost’ , and the ‘Our Father’ which Christ taught us to pray so that we could address the Father with confidence.

And we recite the ‘Ave Maria’ which is also praise and supplication to God through Our Lady’s intercession. ‘Ave Maria, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst all women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.’

In this way we greet Mary in the mystery of our redemption, the mystery that God brought about in her, and through which Mary was appointed to be the Mother of God, Mother of the Church and Mother of men. This is why Mary was the first tabernacle in which the Father enclosed his Word, the first monstrance, and the first altar, where Our Lord has remained forever exposed to our adoration and our love.

Sister Lucy

The Devotion of the Five First Saturdays of the Month

The Devotion of the Five First Saturdays of the Month


“Father, the Blessed Virgin is very sad because no one has paid attention to her message, neither the good nor the bad.  The bad, because of their sins, do not see God’s chastisement already falling on them presently; they also continue on their path of badness, ignoring the message.  But, Father, you must believe me that God is going to punish the world and chastise it in a tremendous way.”

(Sister Lucy of Fatima, to Father Fuentes, 1957)

* If we listened to Our Lady, we could:

1.  Console Her, and pray for sinners

“Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns which ungrateful men place therein at every moment, while there is no one who does an act of reparation to withdraw them for her.”

(The Child Jesus to Sister Lucy, December 10, 1925, Pontevedra)

“So numerous are the souls which the justice of God condemns for sins committed against Me, that I come to ask for reparation.  Sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray.”

(Our Lady to Sister Lucy, 1929)


2. Save our souls and other souls

“God wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world.  I promise salvation to those who embrace it; and these souls will be beloved of God like flowers arranged by me to adorn His throne.”

(Our Lady, during the apparition in Fatima, June 13, 1917)

“If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.”

(Our Lady, during the apparition in Fatima, July 13, 1917)


3. Obtain peace in the world

“If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.  The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.”

(Our Lady, during the apparition in Fatima, July13, 1917)

“Whether the world has war or peace depends on the practice of this devotion, along with the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  This is why I desire its propagation so ardently, especially because this is also the will of our dear Mother in Heaven.” (Sister Lucy, March 19, 1939)

* So, shall we pay attention to that message?

The Child Jesus complains to Sister Lucy:

It is true, my daughter, that many souls begin, but few persevere to the very end, and those who persevere do it to receive the graces promised.  The souls who make the five first Saturdays with fervor and to make reparation to the Heart of your Heavenly Mother, please Me more than those who make fifteen, but are lukewarm and indifferent.”

(Pontevedra, February 15, 1925)


What are the requirements?

On the first Saturday of the month, five consecutive months:

— make a confession (the confession can be made within eight days before or after the first Saturday);

— receive Holy Communion (it may be received on the first Sunday when the priests, for a just cause, allows the faithful);    [ Note from a Dominican Father:  In case of impossibility to go to Confession and Mass (Communion), then at least make a perfect Act of Contrition with the firm will to go to Confession as soon as possible (because one must be in the state of grace to fulfill the devotion of the five First Saturdays).  ]

— make a spiritual communion.”

— pray five decades of the Rosary;

— meditate for fifteen minutes on one or several of the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation for the blasphemies and the offenses committed against Our Lady.


A devotion that applies to our whole Christian life

Let us listen to Sister Lucy of Fatima:

“Over and over again during those precious hours in which I was in her company, she emphasized that it is the fulfillment of one’s daily duty, according to one’s state in life (and the sanctification of this effort in reparation for our sins and for the conversion of sinners) which is the primary condition for the turning back of the tide of evil which threatens today’s world, and which will also bring us the great favor of the conversion of Russia and an era of peace for mankind.  But she also stressed that the Rosary is indeed important, because it is one of Our Lady’s principal aids given to us to facilitate the sanctification of our daily duty.”

(Memoirs of John Haffert concerning the Blue Army, AMI International Press, Washington, NJ, 1982, p 18)

In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph”

(Our Lady of Fatima; July 13, 1917)

(On this website www.dominicansavrille.us, read the article: Fatima, or the means chosen by God to redress the present situation.)

Friends and Benefactors Letter number # 24, January 2017 (updated with pictures)

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé

No. 24: Jan 2017

Arise!

 

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Bethlehem

 

“Arise, O man; for you God has become man. ‘Awake, sleeper, and arise from among the dead, and Christ will enlighten thee.’ [Eph. 5:14] For you, I repeat, God has become man. If He had not thus been born into time, you would have been dead for all eternity. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, if He had not taken upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh. Everlasting misery would have engulfed you, if He had not taken this merciful form. You would not have been restored to life, had He not submitted to your death; you would have fallen, had He not succored you; you would have perished, had He not come.

Let us joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festal day on which the great and timeless One came from the great and timeless day to this brief span of our day…”

-St. Augustine, Sermon for Christmas [Sermon 185]

The Year of Luther

“What unites us is greater than what divides us” ?

“In 2017, Lutherans and Catholics will celebrate together the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation.  Today, Lutherans and Catholics have the joy of understanding each other better and better, and of cooperating and respecting each other more and more. They have finally recognized that what unites them is greater than what divides them.”

[“From Conflict to Communion”, report from the Lutheran-Catholic Commission (2013), of which Card. Müller, Prefect for the Cong. of the Doctrine of the Faith, is a member]

 

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Statue of Luther enthroned by Pope Francis in the Vatican

 

A smiling Pope Francis receives a copy of Luther’s 95 “theses”

Last October 31st, the Pope was in Sweden to inaugurate “The Year of Luther” with the Lutherans.  He signed a joint declaration with the representative of Lutheranism in which he repeats this sophism: “What unites us is greater than what divides us”.

In reality, what divides us from the Protestants is much greater than what unites us, because what divides us is the Faith.

Protestants do not have divine Faith;  they believe in Luther, but they do not believe in God.  Regarding this point, let us quote the Catechism of the Crisis in the Church:

“He who denies even just one single dogma has lost the Faith.  This is because he does not accept Revelation from God, but establishes himself the judge of what must be believed.”

●   Isn’t it possible to deny one dogma while continuing to believe the others, and therefore – at least partially – conserve the virtue of Faith?

“… [H]e who dissents even in one point from divinely revealed truth absolutely rejects all faith, since he thereby refuses to honor God as the supreme truth and the formal motive of faith” [Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, 1896].  Pope Leo XIII then quotes St. Augustine, speaking of heretics:  “In many things they are with me, in a few things not with me; but in those few things in which they are not with me the many things in which they are, will not profit them”.

●  What should we think of this oft-repeated slogan according to which, in our relations with “separated Christians”, we must consider what unites us rather than what divides us?

In matters of Faith, it is absolutely false and contrary to the traditional teaching of the Church to say that we must “consider what unites us rather than what divides us”.   This would give the impression that these differences only concern details of little importance, whereas, in reality, it is a question of the fullness of revealed truth.

[Fr. Matthias GAUDRON, Catechism of the Crisis in the Church]

We have in common with the Protestants our human nature, and, perhaps, a few natural virtues, but Protestants have neither the true Faith, nor supernatural Hope, nor infused Charity [except in the case of invincible ignorance, if a Protestant is Protestant in name only, through no fault of his own, being ready to accept all the dogmas of the Catholic Church, and therefore being already Catholic in his heart]. That constitutes an enormous division!  In Heaven, there are only Catholics; there are no Protestants, because to be saved one must have the true Faith: “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned” [Mk. 16:16].   Between the two, as Our Lord says in the Gospel, “there is a great abyss, so that they who would pass from hence, cannot, nor from thence come hither” [Lk. 16:26].   Such is the Gospel truth: between Catholics and Protestants there is a vast chasm which cannot be crossed.  Of course, during this life, it may be crossed if the Protestant comes back to the Church, but after death, it is too late.

How Luther invented Lutheranism

As a monk, Luther had a tortured conscience, feeling separated from God.  Was it a temptation, a scruple, or was he just not making enough of an effort to stay in the grace of God?  Whatever the case may be, since he felt unable to change himself, he decided to change religion: it was much easier.  From now on, it was no longer necessary to serve God, to obey Him, for that was “impossible”; it was sufficient to have “confidence” in Christ, and all was well.  The Dictionary of Catholic Theology thus exposes the doctrine of Luther:

Over our corrupt souls, God places a “mantle”, that is, the merits of Jesus Christ.  This “justification” is entirely exterior, a marble covering over the rotten wood of a cabin.  In the work of our salvation, Jesus Christ – and Jesus Christ alone – is active, and we have no part in it; it would be an insult to want to cooperate by our works in what He has over-abundantly accomplished.  And how does one obtain this “mantle”?   […]  By Faith – or, to be exact – by confidence in Jesus Christ.  The soul will continue to produce fruits of death, but thanks to the confidence in his heart, the sinner will merit that God may “attribute” to him the merits of Jesus Christ.

On August 1st, 1521, in a letter to Melanchthon, Luther pronounced the famous formula that summarizes his new religion: “Pecca fortiter, sed fortius crede” (“Sin greatly, but believe still more greatly”).

The year of Fatima

Instead of the anniversary of Luther’s revolt, let us celebrate the anniversary of Fatima.

The Blessed Virgin is an “anti-Luther”.  Luther claimed that it is impossible to obey God; Our Lady, whose motto is “fiat”, tells us to “do whatsoever He shall say to you” (John 2:5).  At Fatima, the Blessed Virgin exhorts sinners to convert, and change their lives.

What’s more, Our Lady gives us the means to do so with the devotion of the Five First Saturdays.  Doing (and living) this devotion is the best way to celebrate this centenary, and to make reparation for the scandalous “Year of Luther”.

Community Chronicle

September 18th:  Resumption of their priestly studies for the Scholastic Brothers and the Seminarians, and resumption of activities for the Third Order.

Fathers Marie-Dominique and Marie-Laurent are in Paris for the first meeting of the year for the Fraternity of St. Thomas, which groups together our tertiaries from Normandy, Paris, and Chartres, accompanied by their many children.  Mass, Divine Office, Rosary, alternate with instructions on spirituality and doctrine, in a family atmosphere.  In the following weeks, it will be the turn of the other Fraternities in Alsace, Brittany, Avrillé, and Lyons.

Why belong to the Third Order?  It provides a rule of life to better sanctify yourself while living in the world; it allows you to benefit from the spiritual support of a religious order and the fraternal Charity of other tertiaries.

September 20thFather Angelico begins a new year of his bi-monthly adult catechism classes on Bible History.  The study of the Old Testament using commentaries of the Fathers of the Church is an excellent way to enrich our spiritual life, according to St. Paul: “…all these things happened to them in figure: and they are written for our correction” (I Cor. 10:11).

October 2nd:  Fathers Marie-Laurent and Reginald resume their apostolate among the students of the military academy at La Flèche: confessions, Mass, conference.  This year they will be studying the fundamental book “Liberalism is a Sin”, by Don Sarda y Salvani.

October 8th:  Meeting of the “Saint Raphael Circle” for medical students, nurses and physical therapists, with Fathers Marie-Dominique and Hyacinthe-Marie.  Today the topic is “abortion and its consequences”.

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Vestition of Brother Michel-Marie

October 22ndFeast of the Dedication (Consecration of our Church). “In the world, you were known as Maximilien;  in the Order, you will be called Brother Michel-Marie, under the protection of the leader of the Heavenly Militia.”  A new brother is born into our community.  “The Popes have asked us to be ‘fighters for the Faith’”, comments Father Prior.  “Fight using the ‘arms of light’: zeal in spreading the Gospel, “the shield of Faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one… the sword of the Word of God” (Eph. 6:16).

December 2nd-5thFather Angelico is in Ireland for Masses and preaching in Longford and Dublin.

December 8thFeast of the Immaculate Conception.  After a Solemn High Mass in the majestic setting of “Saint John’s Hospice” (13th cen.), the clergy and faithful go into the streets of Angers for a candle-light procession in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. image

“We have a very certain hope and complete confidence that the most Blessed Virgin will ensure by her most powerful patronage that all difficulties be removed and all errors dissipated, so that our Holy Mother the Catholic Church may flourish daily more and more throughout all the nations and countries, and may reign “from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth…” [Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus]  This is our hope as well, as we approach the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

December 18th:   Christmas Pageant performed by the students of Saint Philomena Elementary School.

 

News from our worksites

The furnishing of the Chapter room in the eastern wing of the Friary is under way. Soon, the oak beams will be installed in the ceiling, and the wooden gothic altar (which has been patiently waiting for several years) will be mounted.

The projects for the Friary workshops and cafeteria for the Boys’ school are presently being studied by the architect, in view of obtaining the necessary construction permits. This work will enable us to put the guest house back to its proper use, as it is currently occupied in large part by the school (for its kitchen, bathrooms, dining room…).

At the “Priory” (the manor house which is used for the Boys’ school), the excavation of the old “towers” is continuing, and we are in negotiations with the Historical Monuments Department to get the permission to transform them into study halls.

 

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The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus-Christ

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus-Christ

by Rev. Fr Charles-Hyacinth Mc Kenna O.P.

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During the holy season of Advent, the aim of the Church in her sermons and instructions is to prepare us for a worthy celebration of Our Lord’s Nativity.  She regards this feast as one of the most joyous in her calendar.  To manifest her gratitude for our Redemption, she decorates her altars with richest ornaments.  She clothes her ministers in the garments of joy, and urges them again and again to celebrate the adorable sacrifice of the Mass in thanksgiving for the coming of our Redeemer.

And knowing with St. James that “Every best gift and every perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of Lights” (James 1, 17), she calls upon her children to raise their hearts to Heaven, and praise and bless our great Creator who, in the words of Our Lord to Nicodemus, “So loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting” (2 John 3, 16).  Hence, the great Apostle of the Gentiles said: “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His exceeding charity, wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ, by whose grace you are saved (Ephesians 2, 4).

Man, prostrated by sin, involved in the rebellion of our first parents, was unable to help himself.  God pitied our fallen state, and though we were His enemies by our transgression, in His infinite mercy He sent His adorable Son to take upon Himself the punishment of our guilt and become the ransom of our fallen race.  And here we should guard ourselves from an error of which many outside the Church are guilty.  They would have us believe that our heavenly Father, in a manner, forced His Son to undertake the painful work of our redemption.  This is absolutely false.  From eternity the adorable Son of God consented to make atonement for man’s transgression.  “He was offered,” said the Scripture, “because He willed it” (Isaias 53, 7), and David, in prophetic vision, thus speaks in the person of Christ: “Sacrifice and oblation Thou didst not desire; but Thou hast pierced ears for me.  Burnt-offering and sin-offering Thou didst not require; then said I, Behold I come.  In the head of the book it is written of me that I should do Thy will; O my God, I have desired it, and Thy law in the midst of my heart” (Ps 39, 7).  And again the prophet said of Him: “He hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way, His going out is from the end of Heaven” (Ps 18, 6).

We would naturally suppose that, on appearing among men, the world’s Redeemer should be surrounded by all the grandeur and wealth and human comforts which His tender condition would require.  But such was not the will of His heavenly Father, nor was it the will of Our Lord, who did not desire to be born in the dwelling of sinners, but chose to be alone with His immaculate Mother and the chaste Saint Joseph, and to be accompanied by the innocent beasts of the field.  Coming to redeem our sinful race, and to enlighten a world “seated in darkness and in the shadow of death,” as Saint John described it, He began His work of reformation by preaching His first sermon from the pulpit of the manger.  It was pride and sensuality that caused the fall of our race; and pride and avarice and sensuality were the great evils of His day, as they are also of the days in which we live. […]

Let us now, imitating the shepherds, visit in spirit the stable of Bethlehem and there behold our new-born Saviour in the lowly condition to which His love for us has reduced Him.

We thank Thee, O Lord, for thus humbling Thyself, and coming amongst us, and we beseech Thee to grant that one day we may behold Thy face in its unveiled glory in heaven.

Nor should we fail to be mindful of the part that Mary took in the world’s Redemption. […] We recognize thy dignity, sweet Mother — that thou hast been chosen from eternity for the sublime office of Mother of God — that thou didst willingly consent to cooperate in the work of our Redemption.  For this we thank thee: for this we praise thee, and call thee blessed among women, and beg of thee to obtain for us that we may never offend thy adorable Son by sin.

(From the book The treasures of the Rosary, by the very Rev. Charles-Hyacinth McKenna O.P., Preacher General of the Order of Preachers, New York, P. J. Kenedy and Sons, Printers of the Holy Apostolic See, 1917, p. 105-109.)

Mortification in our spiritual life

Mortification in our spiritual life

By Fr. Martín HARRISON, O.P.

How we dread the word “mortification”!  It suggests terrifying penances, hair-shirts, plank-beds and other extraordinary hardships practiced by some saint; mark the word “extraordinary.”  Such penances are not for “ordinary” people like ourselves, but for those called by God to be out of the ordinary through the help of special graces.

Yet penance in some form or another we must do, since we are bound to mortify the flesh and its desires.  What does mortification really mean?  In a spiritual sense it may be defined as the act of subduing the passions and appetites of our lower nature by fasting or severities inflicted on the body, the act of subordinating all natural impulses to the influence of the Holy Spirit, in a natural sense it may denote being humiliated by circumstances, depressed by disappointments or vexations; but these are not penances in the strict sense, though they may be turned into true mortification by our method of acceptance.

Mortification essentially consists in self-denial: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself” (Mt 16, 24).  Self-denial means saying “NO” to self, which for most people is a difficult thing to do.  By sin our willpower was weakened; we became prone to evil finding it easier to give in to the desires of the flesh than to resist them.  Because of sin the soul lost its domination over the flesh, so that “the flesh, lusteth against the spirit” (Ga 5:17).

The chief work of mortification is to strengthen the will power and heal the wounds caused by sinBy denying self what is lawful, the will is strengthened to resist what is unlawful, and some measure of atonement is made.  Therefore penance is imposed as a strict duty.  Thus the Lenten and other fasts imposed by the Church consist in refraining from a certain amount of food, otherwise lawful, so denying to us the pleasure of satisfying hunger completely.  Too often these grave obligations of fasting are dismissed as impracticable because of hardship or inconvenience, before any attempt has been made to find out if they are really so.

It is difficult to understand how anyone can settle in conscience so grave an obligation in so casual a manner.  Certainly some are excused by the nature of the work they must do, or for other good reasons; but this does not free them entirely from all obligation of doing penance of another sort.  We are bound to deny self, and that is the essence of penance.  We need so much to be strengthened against temptations that only by denying lawful things to ourselves can we hope to be strong enough to deny the unlawful also.

It is difficult to understand how anyone can settle in conscience so grave an obligation in so casual a manner

Some pride themselves on their strength of will, but too often it is shown only in denying something to others rather than to themselves.  In reality such people are simply stubborn and actually weak-willed, since they are not able to say “NO” to self.

Let us test ourselves by the following questions:

1. — Do I always stick to my own opinions and insist on having my own way?

2. — Can I admit being in the wrong, or that I have made a mistake?

3. — Can I give in gracefully to the will of the majority?1

The answers to such questions as these, will soon prove whether we can say “NO” to self or if we are self-willed.

Mortification is necessary for all.  The wounds of nature demand an effort to strengthen the will against its propensity to evil; the more we indulge our natural desires, the stronger and more insistent they become in demanding satisfaction, the more difficult to resist their appeal.

However, it is not necessary to undertake special hardships or penances beyond those imposed under obligation by the Church.  Life itself provides a variety of opportunities for mortification that we cannot escape.  The pity of it, is that we endure without much or any spiritual profit much that might be mortification, because of the wrong attitude we adopt toward these various vexations.  We can make a virtue of necessity by accepting in a spirit of patience and humility the daily trials forced upon us.

[Some examples:]   Take any ordinary day in life:

— Probably we must get up earlier than we would wish, we should like to stay in bed much longer.  It is not easy to rise promptly; it demands self-denial.  How do we react?  Do we come down peevish and disagreeable, upsetting others by our grumbling and irritation?  If this is out reaction, then we have lost the chance of mortifying ourselves, instead of turning the necessity to spiritual profit by accepting it with patience.

— We have to go to work, oftentimes hard and disagreeable, to work with others who get on our nerves, to take orders given in an abrupt manner, and endure many other similar vexations that can be very irritating.  What is our attitude to such things?  They can all become occasions of mortification if accepted in a proper spirit.  Obedience to others, which is the submission of our own will to that of another, can be a very real and difficult penance.  Too often we can become impatient and disgruntled, resent the orders given to us: and miss the chance of being spiritually mortified under adversity.

Life is full of such opportunities: we make silly mistakes, are humiliated by others, meet with disappointments, hear slurs east or disparaging remarks made about us; accidents make us ludicrous and cause laughter and ridicule at our expense.  These things are certainly humiliating to our pride and self-conceit? but do we turn them to spiritual worth by a humble and contrite spirit in accepting them as mortifications?  If they simply cause us to become disagreeable and complain, there is no penance; they are lost to us entirely when they might have been real crosses born for the love of God, real penances accepted in a spirit of self-denial, some atonement for the sins we have committed.

We are told [by Holy Mother the Church] to perform the three good works: Prayer, Fasting, and Alms-deeds.  These can all form some kind of mortification for us:

By fasting we mean here self-denial in any form, the giving up of one’s desires and inclinations.  We are forced to this at times by circumstances, yet profit little because we accept grudgingly, with resentment and complaints about the hardness of our lot.

Prayer might find a larger place in our lives and provide penance at the same time.  For instance, we might give up an evening’s pleasure so that we may go to Benediction.  How many give up the Sunday evening to selfish comfort rather than go out to the evening service?  It may be cold and wet; it is so much pleasanter to sit reading by the fireside, or playing cards with friends.  The weather is so often an excuse to avoid going to church, but it would not prevent us from going out to the cinema or to a dance.  It is difficult to give up pleasure and comfort to go to church, hard to mortify our desires and say “NO” to self!  To give up our comforts can be a real mortification.

Alms-giving does not necessarily mean giving money away.  The best alms is to give happiness to others – any kind of action done for the love of God and our neighbor, any small service especially if it means self-denial, is acceptable to God as a mortification.  Our Lord went about doing good, never sparing Himself.  We, on the contrary, find doing good to others to be too much trouble and to cause too much inconvenience to ourselves.  We could make a point of doing at least one kind act a day to help another, as a mortification.  We could do much more to ease the burdens of others, to bring happiness or solace, and if this entails denying self and putting ourselves to some inconvenience so much the better, it will mortify us all the more.

There is no need to undertake extraordinary penances – life provides its own opportunities of mortifying self.  We do not know that Our Lady or St. Joseph ever did any special kind of penance, but they did accept the many trials and sufferings of life, grief, hardship, poverty, hard work, and such like, in a spirit of resignation to the will of God.  The early disciples do not seem to have done extraordinary penances, but we may note that St, Paul writes; “I chastise the flesh to bring it into subjection… lest perhaps I become a castaway (1 Co 9, 27).”   If St. Paul felt the need of “chastising the flesh,” how much more we, who do so little to atone for all the number of times we give way to our evil inclinations.   We must chastise the flesh by denying to it the satisfaction it demands, even in what is lawful, that we may strengthen ourselves to refuse all that is unlawful and to thrust down the inclinations and desires of unlawful passion, by denying the pleasure of lawful desires at times.  We must learn how to say “NO” to self.

To resume therefore, we cannot escape mortifications, even though we do not seek them.  Life will provide many opportunities of self-denial; let us see to it that these unavoidable vexations are all turned to profit for the soul by accepting them in a spirit of penance and humiliation for our many sins and as a means of strengthening our will-power against our proneness to evil.  If we would realize that hardship, sickness, poverty, disappointments, vexations, inconveniences, even the monotony of life, can all be spiritually useful and made profitable by a spirit of humble acceptance and mortification and for the love of God, we should be carrying out our obligation of doing penance lest we perish.

It is all a matter of will-power pitted against the fatal attractions of sin in which we prove so weak and easily overcome.

Only by denying self what is lawful, or accepting what we cannot escape as a means of self-denial, can we become strong in our resistance to what is unlawful, strong to resist the many temptations that beset us from the flesh, the world and the devil.

We must atone for sin by true repentance and by penance enjoined to the sufferings of Our Lord, that they may become an atonement for our many sins.

“Unless ye do penance, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lc 13, 5).

Taken from Credo, Fr. Martin Harrison O.P.

Chicago, Henry Regnery Company, 1954, pgs 141-145