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

November Lists of the Dead

November Lists of the Dead

Several of you have asked if we accept “November Lists of the Dead”.

This pious custom consists in giving a list of names of deceased loved ones to a priest, who will then keep the list on the altar each time he celebrates Mass throughout the month of November.

If you send us such a list, we will be happy to perform this duty to the Poor Souls.  To send us a list, simply visit our “Contact Us” page, and use the little form at the bottom of that page to send us a message.

Prayer for the souls in Purgatory is a devotion that has always been in honor in the Dominican Order.

Thank you!

Daphne Pochin Mould – convert from Anglicanism

Daphne POCHIN MOULD

(1920-2014)

converted from anglicanism

A Wicked Sheep

« I did not want to become a Catholic. My intention was to attack rather than to submit to the Church. I was not a lost sheep but a wicked and an obstinate sheep… »

Born in Salisbury (England) in 1920, Daphne Pochin Mould was a brilliant student of geology in Edinburg (Scotland).

From her Anglican upbringing she only retained the typical prejudices against the Catholic Church (superstition, intolerance, rigorism, triumphalism, etc.). A militant agnostic, she was convinced that religion was no more than a means of enslaving mankind.clip_image002

« I used to think that I had to attack the ignorance, the superstition and the cowardice of those who think that by believing in another world they can do away with the struggle against evil and error here on earth. »

In order to study how St. Columba of Iona converted Scotland at the end of the 6th century, she had to go to the Benedictine monastery in Fort Augustus. There, for the first time, she ran into a Catholic priest.

« I was never more scared in my life than on that day ».

While talking with the monk, Fr. Augustin, she discovered that the Faith was not what she had imagined it to be.

She used to see the Faith as an abdication of reason, as a flight from reality, as cowardice. Now she realized that Catholics have rational arguments!

The proof of the existence of God made by Fr. Augustin did not convince her immediately:  she found it too abstract, too philosophical, too different from the scientific method that she was used to.  But she had to admit that there are various ways of learning and methods of inquiry.  While the scientific method has its place, it does not solve the fundamental problems: the reason for our existence; the final end of man and the world; or the experience of beauty:

« In the Scottish mountains that were so rich in contrasts of form and colour, I saw the realization of beauty.  I was inspired with an increasing awareness that beyond the enchantment of the mountains there had to exist the last and ultimate beauty; that all the elements of truth that I reached by means of science pointed to a thing that was the Truth itself; that this ultimate Truth had to be crowned with beauty and transcendent splendour of which the sun illuminating the hills had already given me a foretaste. »

For the time being, Daphne decided to accept the existence of God as a « working hypothesis ».  She altered her view on the Church.  She no longer saw it as a force that obscures and oppressively exploits blind religiosity.  She finally understood that reality itself was in question:

« All of a sudden, I realized that the Church was all about God and that it was not simple emotionalism. The Church stood for truth and beauty, for penance and austerity, and even more, for the huge adventure of holiness. »

A Long Inquiry

It is good, grand, noble and generous, but is it true?  Is it not merely a huge illusion?

Daphne was still far from having the Faith.  To the question  «Would you like to become a Catholic? » she responded with a firm « Only if Catholicism is real! »  And she still had many objections.  But in fact her agnosticism no longer satisfied her.

The big question was Jesus Christ.  But before studying the life of Jesus Christ, Daphne felt turned off by miracles.  They revolted her and she bolted.  But after thinking about it, she had to admit that this passionate reaction was not reasonable.  She recognized that:

« It is more scientific to examine the possibility of a miracle than to refuse a priori to accept it.»

The methodical reading of the four Books of the Gospel was a veritable shock.  She had known only fragments of the Books.  She discovered in the entirety of the Books a doctrine that was so rich and so profound, and, at the same time, so simple and so balanced, that it was difficult to accept that an ordinary man – even a prophet or a saint – could have possibly authored it.

Must she thus admit that Jesus is God?  Daphne was not ready for that.  She was fascinated by His personality, but could not yet bring herself to that conclusion.

« I knew very well that to accept the truthfulness of the Gospel meant to accept Christ and Rome.  I had to give it a long thought. »

In the spring of 1950, Daphne embarked on a serious study of the history of the Church.  She was struck by the terrible crises that regularly oppressed the Church (persecutions, heresies, decadence or weakness of the clergy, etc). At least ten times the Church could have perished under the assaults of its enemies or from the vices of its own members (at times priests, bishops and popes!).  But each time, saints rose up, redressing the humanly desperate situation so that the Church rose up more alive than before.  And there were times when the leaders of the Church could have used their office to justify their errors doctrinally.  But it never happened.  The Infallibility of the Pope is certainly not a trivial claim!

A Conditional Prayer

Finally, Daphne had to recognize both the preeminence of Christ and of the Catholic Church.  But the big question still remained:  Is Jesus Christ truly God?   Daphne could not get past this hurdle:

« The more I thought about the historicity of the Gospels, the more I recognized the evidence that I had to accept Christ; this understanding revolted me violently.  Nonetheless, the natural beauty that I observed – the creation of God that I admired – all came from the same hand that had written the historical Gospels. »

« You need to pray »,  Fr. Augustin told her.  Daphne was deeply irritated by that.  What good would that action do?  Wasn’t she running the risk of falling into auto-suggestion and falsifying the scientific method?  She wanted to refuse to pray, but she felt herself (to be) mysteriously urged to attempt the experiment.  She prayed conditionally in order to appease her conscience.  After invoking God, she immediately added « if He exists » as a precaution in order not to rush the process.  Then she prayed for enlightenment.

She decided to attend Mass – as part of her study, without really participating – and she carefully compared the Roman Missal, which is the traditional Catholic rite of the Mass, to the Anglican ‘Prayer Book’.  She was impressed by the superiority of the former.  The traditional Catholic rite is somber and beautiful as well as dignified and precise.  She especially appreciated the Latin phrases that « always say the right word in the right place »:

« I thought back about the beauty of the mountains and the shores of the Hybrides; I had learned to identify supreme Truth with supreme Beauty; now the simple reading of the Missal left deep impressions.  If the Roman Church is capable of producing such liturgy, it is highly probable that it possesses the truth about God. »

Little by little, Daphne dropped all her objections.  But she still asked: do I truly have the Faith?

« I had always believed that Faith was a pious feeling, an emotional and a euphoric disposition, similar to a disposition created in us by music or by wine.  While I did not have any such feelings, I was pushed by a strong interior movement to take the decisive step to fully accept the Catholic Faith. »

Finally, Daphne Poncin Mould surrendered to Grace:

« He who has always lived in the Catholic Faith cannot imagine what this step means to an agnostic.  It is one thing to be intellectually convinced of the Truth held by Rome, it is altogether another to make the decision to become a Catholic. »

« To accept Roman authority, to confess that you will believe everything that the Church tells you to believe seemed a desperate step, a spiritual suicide.  I feared all authority.  I still had a profound attachment to Protestant individualism.  With this mindset, how could I possibly submit to an authoritative Church like Rome?

A Barrier Had Fallen

Daphne was condemned by her family (who no longer wanted to see her) and by her friends (who abandoned her).

She was received into the Catholic Church on November 11, 1950.  Her soul found peace and joy:

« My first impression was that the barrier between God and myself had fallen.  The second impression was that by becoming a Catholic, I had taken a step towards what was a beginning rather than an end.  I used to consider the Catholic Faith solely as a collection of beliefs, as a moral code; I had forgotten that the Faith was firstly and above all a contact with God, with the Being who is Infinite Love.  Such an adventure has no end.  I understood that the Catholic who attempts to understand God more deeply is never in danger of feeling restricted or limited.  We are made to contemplate God. »

She understood the need for Our Lady in order to be able to truly penetrate the mysteries of the Gospel, and so she applied herself to the Rosary:

« When I was received into the Church, I thought of God mainly in terms of Truth, Beauty and Goodness.  I did not have a true devotion to the Person of Christ.

Now as I read the Gospel, I found myself attracted to His Person and I prayed to Our Lady to help me to better know her Son. »clip_image002[5]

At the same time, Daphne discovered the real Church:

« The most amazing thing about the Church is the gentleness.  This gentleness comes from strength.  The Church is maternal but at the same time has the absolute certitude of possessing the Truth.  How far off were my ideas about the intolerance and violence of Papists! »

Bibliography :

Daphne Pochin Mould, The Rock of Truth

(an autobiography of her conversion), London, Sheet and Ward, 1953.

Francois Russo S.J. Le Roc de la certitude, Daphne Pochin Mould

(a French resume of the above work), Brussels, Foyer Notre-Dame, 1962.

The Rights of Truth, the “non-rights” of Error

The Rights of Truth, the “non-rights” of Error

[The report of R. P. Philippe C. S. S. R. November 30, 1922 to the Congress of the Apostolic League of Nations, which took place in Paris, and appeared in “La Documentation Catholique” of 24 March, 1923: No. 191]

If there is such a thing as a fundamental truth, it is certainly that of the rights of Truth and the non-rights of error.  It is astonishing that such a subject must even be dealt with, but the intellectual decadence of our times has reached the point that we no longer even wish to acknowledge Truth, but are willing to convince ourselves that Truth doesn’t even exist.  What is said about Truth must also be said of the authority which is based on the truth of the existence of the Supreme Being upon Whom we all depend.

By banishing in one fell swoop Truth and the authority of this Truth, the enemies of Jesus Christ and His Holy Church overthrow, upturn and destroy from top to bottom, not only Christian Order, but all order, be it simply natural, civil, familial, religious or any other.

Order based on nothingness cannot be sustained.  That is why we establish at one and the same time both the rights of Truth and the injustice of error.

We will not get involved here in overly speculative considerations.  Rather, we will limit ourselves to reproducing the simple facts of philosophy and theology.


1. Truth is the conformity of the intellect with the object

St. Thomas Aquinas concisely states the following: Veritas invenitur in intellectu secundum quod apprehendit rem ut est, et in re, secundum quod habet esse conformabile intellectui (Summa Theologica, I, q. 16, art. 5) : truth is in the intellect insofar as it grasps the object as it is.  Truth is in the object itself, insofar as being (that is, this object) can be intellectually reproduced.  In other words, for the intellect to possess the truth of an object (or to be true) that object must first exist, then the intellect must have perceived it just as it is, and intellectually reproduce it thus.  That is why St. Thomas says elsewhere : unumquodque inquantum habet de esse, tantum est cognoscibile (ibid. art. 3) for a thing to be known, it must exist, and can be known only insofar as it exists.

For Truth to exist in the intellect, it is therefore necessary for the intellect to reproduce intellectually (or by means of an intellectual image, if one prefers) objective reality in so far as it exists.  The latter is itself insofar as it reproduces the eternal concept of God who created it.  That is why St. Thomas defines Truth as follows:  Adaequatio rei et intellectus (ibid. art. 1), meaning by this that, in order to be true, the created object must correspond to the concept of the Divine Intellect and that the human intellect which possesses the Truth only possesses it insofar as it is intellectually in conformity with the object itself.

2. The object has the right to be known by the intellect precisely as it [i.e. the object] is

To assert that Truth alone has rights is to declare that the intellect, which is made to possess Truth, has the right not to be led into error.  It is to say, above all else, that the object which is known has the right not to be known other than as it actually is, as well as the right to be known just as it is.

The weakness of the human intellect can be such that it does not conceive the essence of a being in all of its perfection.  It remains no less a fact that whatever the intellect does in fact conceive must be in conformity with what is.

3. In error, nothingness takes the place of the object

What happens in the contrary situation when the intellect conceives, not in conformity with that which is, but with that which is not?  Its intellectual concept does not correspond to any existing reality, or, in the case of a partial error, it corresponds only partially to what that reality actually is.  As for the other part, it corresponds to nothing which is.

Who does not see the conclusion which must be immediately drawn from this?  An intellectual concept which does not correspond to any objective reality corresponds to nothing; that is to say, for it, nothingness has taken the place of the object.

4. Nothingness, therefore error, has no rights

Thus it is an obvious truth that nothingness (or non-being) cannot have rights, because it does not exist.

An intellectual concept which corresponds to no reality whatsoever cannot be the reproduction of a true reality.  Therefore, corresponding to nothingness (which has no rights), it participates in the non-rights of nothingness.

Thus, if the man whose intellect created these fictions and errors wishes to attribute to them rights which they cannot have, then these rights are the most fundamentally unjust that can possibly be.

5. To build on nothingness or error is disorder

What folly, then, to construct a life on nothingness! For this is what necessarily happens when, instead of taking Truth as the principle of this life, we choose error.  With nothingness as a guiding principle for all our acts, for all our feelings, for all our thoughts, what can there be that is true, just or well-founded in our lives?  Nothing.

Furthermore, if error is at the basis of social order, nothingness is the guiding principle of society, of governments, of the constitutions of peoples, of legislation and of everything else.  Let us say it again : what can be built on this?  What can be built on nothingness?  In a social order thus conceived, there can be neither Truth nor Justice nor Order.

Disorder is the inevitable result.

6. This is proven by experience

To better understand this phenomenon, let us see what practically remains as a guiding principle in both individual and social life wherever objective truth has disappeared :

* In the individual order, there remains only individual thought, captive to all of its fantasies.

* In the social order, there remains only collective thought, subject to every whim of the majority.

And when we have swept Truth aside, we have suppressed the Supreme Being who is the great guiding Truth of peoples and individuals.  When God has disappeared from the council of consciences and nations, when there are no more sanctions or responsibilities before the Eternal One, what is left to collective and individual human thought?  Logically, nothing.  In reality, though, in spite of everything, in spite of human fantasies and whims, there remain Eternal Truth and Eternal Justice which crush beneath all their weight those who, turning toward them, say: “You do not exist.”

7. Divine Truth always takes back its Rights

God proclaims these Rights and causes them to be respected by His Justice.

Oh Divine Truth!  It takes back its Rights – Rights which are marked with the seal of Infinity, with the seal of Eternity.  This God Whom man (in his folly) has desired to consign to nothingness in order to have nothingness as the principle of his life, is Creator.  Everything has been made by Him in the infinite splendour of His Beauty.  He reiterates all the conditions of Truth.  Furthermore, to the rights which He Himself has given to all Truth, He adds those with which He alone can be endowed because He alone is infinite, He alone is Creator.

How, then, can those who depend essentially upon Him rise up against Him and His Rights?  It is not astonishing that Eternal Truth which has been dumped on the scrap heap of nothingness surrounds itself with all the rigours of Justice in order to strike back.  Justice is the avenger of its Sister, Truth.

8. Divine Truth manifests itself in Christ

The Infinite goes even farther, so to speak.  God destines this creature for whom He has created Truth (in a word, this human being) to eternal happiness.  In order to lead him to this supreme end, He will become incarnate in the Person of His Word.  He will appear in this world, and, there again, He will manifest Himself as the Truth:  Ego sum Veritas!   Veritas et gratia per Jesum Christum factum est.   It is Truth which is tasked to lead man to his destiny, and see, therefore, what was required for this Truth to be realized in these conditions by Christ: nothing less than the Passion and Death of Christ.  This all-loving Master paid a great price for It, but after all It belongs to Him, It is identified with Him.  Behold this Truth, which is Christ and which has all the Rights of Christ, is launched into the world, bolstered by God’s own Authority.  It must enlighten consciences.  It must guide the social order.  Society must be impregnated with Christ because man, both as a citizen and as an individual, is a creature of God whose final end must be God and infinite beatitude.

9. God strikes those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ and His Church

What homage does man render, what homage does the citizen render, what homage do governments render to the Rights of Truth, to the Supreme Rights of God, to the Rights of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate?

Let us repeat it again: in order to establish nothingness (and consequently disorder in society and confusion among peoples) all the more securely as the guiding principle of peoples, they consign to this nothingness, with all the power their thought can muster, God and His Christ and the institution which continues Christ on earth: the Church.

Is it surprising then that God, seeing Himself despised in the very Truth which He has created, despised in Himself and in His Christ, is it surprising that He chastises peoples with the most dreadful scourges?  War and famine are minor things.  Confusion, upheavals in the political and economic order are a mild manifestation of the terrors which Divine Justice reserves for those who trample His Truth underfoot.

Let us endeavour to understand all this.  Especially let those to whom God has given the responsibility of governing society endeavour to penetrate themselves with these profound teachings and introduce them into the practical working-out of the social order for the good of humanity.  If this is done, both peoples and humanity will be saved.

Saint Thomas Aquinas in today’s combat for the faith

Saint Thomas Aquinas in today’s combat for the faith


A Sermon given in the Dominican Monastery of Avrillé (France)

“Thomas Aquinas was a light placed by Me over the Mystical Body of the Church in order to disperse the darkness of error.” 1

1. Saint Thomas, celestial patron of Catholic studies

On the feast of Saint Dominic, on August 4, 1880, and after having consulted the Sacred Congregation of Rites, Pope Leo III published the Brief, Cum hoc sit, designating St. Thomas the patron of universities, academies, Catholic colleges and schools. The feast was fixed on the 13th of November.2

The motives justifying the patronage of Saint Thomas for Catholic studies

This decision of the Pope, designating Saint Thomas patron of Catholic studies came immediately after his encyclical Aeterni Patris, dealing with the restoration of Catholic philosophy according to the principles of Saint Thomas Aquinas, written one year before, on August 4, 1879.  This patronage should have been its crowning point, and Leo XIII assigned three reasons for it.    Let us quote the Pope:

  1. The doctrine of Saint Thomas is so vast that it embraces, like an ocean, the entire wisdom of Antiquity.  Everything said in the past that was true, everything that was wisely discussed by the pagan philosophers and by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church as well as those superior individuals who existed before him; not only did he completely understand it, but he developed, completed and classified it with such an insight, with such methodical precision and with such a precise terminology, that he seems to have only left to his followers the ability to imitate him, while at the same time taking away their possibility of equaling him!”
  2. “There is yet a more important matter to consider: it is that his doctrine being formed and armed with principles containing a vast breadth of application corresponds to the necessities not only of one historical period but rather of all times and periods of history and is therefore very well suited to conquer the continually re-emerging errors.  Sustaining itself by its own strength, it remains invincible and causes a profound fear to its adversaries.  The perfect agreement between faith and reason [in the works of St. Thomas] must not be neglected, especially in regards to the judgment of Catholics.”
  3. “Finally, the Angelic Doctor, though great because of his doctrine, is no less great because of his virtue and holiness.  Consequently virtue is the best preparation for the work of the mind and the acquisition of knowledge; those who neglect virtue falsely imagine having acquired a solid and fruitful knowledge because ‘Wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins’ (Wisdom 1:4).”

Furthermore, Pope Pius XI dedicated a very beautiful encyclical; Studiorum Ducem3, in order to demonstrate the link between ecclesiastical studies and holiness as exemplified by Saint Thomas.

Saint Thomas enjoyed a wisdom proportioned to his sanctity; furthermore he enjoyed a superior degree of sanctity which was especially true from the moment when the Angels bound his loins with the cincture of chastity.  The enlightenment of the intellect is, indeed, the special fruit of chastity while the result of impurity is to darken the mind.  Saint Thomas was so free from the fires of concupiscence that he was able to enjoy an understanding of divine things similar to that of the Angels who do not have a body.  That is why he is called the Angelic Doctor.

Saint Thomas is the fruit of the Dominican Order

At the same time, St. Thomas must not be separated from the religious order to which he belonged.  It was the soil of the Order of Preachers where he was allowed to show his true worth.  The necessary balance between the practice of the vows of religion, monastic observances, the choral singing of the divine office, and the contemplative study ordered to preaching for the salvation of souls: it is this entire wonderful ensemble that permitted him to develop his Angelic doctrine.  But, since a religious acts only out of obedience, Saint Thomas’ superiors must also be mentioned:

“Must we not acknowledge that they directed him as perfectly as possible in his scientific vocation?   For he was a superior intellect, a genius who during his period of development was not inhibited by his own brethren.   This is a

phenomenon rare enough throughout history even in Religious Orders to deserve to be mentioned and held up as an example.” 4

The Masters General under whose direction he lived his religious life5, and the great saint, Albert-the-Great (1206-1280) who directed him at Cologne are a few superiors of Saint Thomas who must be honored.

We can certainly claim that Saint Thomas is the most beautiful flower, the most beautiful fruit of the Order of Saint Dominic:  the Order whose mission in the Church is to spread the light of truth and combat error in order to save souls.

2. Saint Thomas Aquinas in today’s combat for the faith

Therefore, it is clear from all that has been said how important Saint Thomas is in the contemporary battle for the Faith.  Let us quote Archbishop Lefebvre:

“We do not have the right to contradict the spirit of the Church which has always relied on Saint Thomas throughout its history.  God, Himself, raised up this admirable Doctor and the Church and the Popes have confirmed it, always proclaiming the power of Saint Thomas in rejecting error and heresy.  Since our contemporary age is one replete with heresy, error and paganism, we do not have the right to neglect papal directives. […]  It is very unfortunate that in today’s Roman Universities every possible and imaginable theory is floated without any correction from the authorities.  This is unfortunately due to the infiltration of ecumenism into philosophy as well as the idea of the equality of every theory.  Thomism is considered like everything else – relative – it was a system that was good during a certain period of time but, now we need something else more suited to the needs of the time.  (Archbishop Lefebvre)”6

Study

Saint Thomas is the remedy for the malicious illness of our time – which is Modernism

None other than Saint Pius X, in his encyclical Pascendi, written on the 8th of September, 1907, declares that the primary remediation for Modernism is the study of the philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas:

“Concerning the question of studies, We wish and order that Scholastic philosophy form the basis for the Sacred Studies. […] And when we prescribe Scholastic philosophy, We want to make it clear the We especially mean the philosophy left us by the Angelic Doctor. This is of paramount importance.”

Saint Pius X will again clarify his thought in his Motu Proprio Doctoris Angelici of June 29, 1914, concerning the study of the doctrine of Saint Thomas Aquinas:

“It happened that since We said that the philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas especially had to be followed without indicating that it had to be exclusively followed, a number of teachers convinced themselves that they were obeying Our desire, or at the very least, that it was not contradictory if they were to adopt indiscriminately what other scholastics taught about philosophy, even though it was directly in opposition to the principles of Saint Thomas.   But in doing this they were greatly deceived.  When we gave Our seminarians Saint Thomas as the sole leader of Scholastic Philosophy, it goes without saying, that we were talking especially about his principles upon which, as on its foundation, this philosophy rests. […] It is certainly not difficult to understand that if the doctrine of some author or some saint was ever recommended by Us or by Our predecessors with particular enthusiasm, […] it is not difficult to understand that they were recommended in so far as they were in agreement with the principles of Thomas Aquinas or at least they did not oppose his principles in the very least.”

Again, it is Saint Pius X who gives the reason for this:

We wanted to state to all those dedicated to teaching philosophy and sacred theology to be alerted that if they alienated themselves from Thomas Aquinas, in the slightest degree, especially in matters of metaphysics they would experience a tragic loss.”
 

Furthermore, the Church had taken precise measures concerning this matter.  The 1917 Code of Canon Law obliges seminary professors, as well as their students, to “adhere both in philosophy and theology to the method, doctrine and principles of Saint Thomas.” (C. 1366 # 2).  The Dominican Constitution even required professors, the Master of novices and the brothers during their course of study to take an oath to maintain that doctrine.   The doctrine of Saint Thomas is the Church’s doctrine, and the Church is suspicious of anyone straying from it.

The shipwreck of the Conciliar Church

Alienated from the Tradition of the Church, the intellect has no point of reference; it just wanders around (or it loses its way).  This is precisely the spectacle given by the Conciliar Church.

The new Code of Canon Law issued in 1983, does not even explicitly mention Saint Thomas when it comes to philosophical studies in the seminaries!   It only says:

“The philosophical formation ought to always relate to Tradition while at the same time keeping aware of on going philosophical research” (C. 251).

One cannot be more vague.

Let us also quote the incredible declaration of Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI:

“I had difficulty in understanding Saint Thomas Aquinas whose crystalline logic appeared much too enclosed on itself, too impersonal and too stereotyped.”7

At any other time in history, he would not have been ordained a priest.  And in our times, he became the Pope!

One must read the text of Saint Thomas

Following the thought of Saint Pius X we readily see that he insists on reading the text of Saint Thomas itself:

“It is absolutely necessary to return to the ancient custom which, should have never been abandoned, that there be courses taught on the Summa Theologica itself, for the obvious reason that this highly reasoned book renders the Solemn Decrees of the teaching Church and its Acts that naturally follow more easily intelligible.  Because in the wake of the most blessed saintly Doctor, the Church has never held a Council in which he himself were not present with all the richness of his doctrine.  It daily becomes clearer and the experience of so many centuries has made it known, how true the affirmation of Our predecessor John XXII8is right on: [Thomas] enlightened the Church more clearly than all the Doctors, and, in his books, man profits more in one year than if he spent his entire life span studying all the others.”

In addition to the necessity of reading the text of St. Thomas itself, two cogent things should be retained:

  • The Second Vatican Council is the only council which did not rely on the doctrine of the Angelic Doctor; hence the disaster that flows from this omission.
  • Saint Pius X links the study of St. Thomas, in our times, to none other than the Acts of the Holy See.  This is something that was sadly lacking to the Thomists in our times.  Leaning on the principles of the Angelic Doctor, the Popes – up to Pius XII included – assiduously studied modern errors and condemned them.  These lessons were too often ignored and the lack of knowledge of the pontifical texts is an important cause for the lack of reaction against these errors in the Church:  hence their triumph on the occasion of Vatican II.

That is why Archbishop Lefebvre, in order “to transmit in its entire doctrinal purity, as well as in all his missionary charity, just as Our Lord transmitted it to His Apostles as also the Roman Church transmitted it up until the middle of the XXth century,”9 inserted in the first year course on spirituality for the seminarians, courses on the Acts of the Magisterium concerning modern errors which he himself gave in the beginning10.

Preaching

The study of the doctrine of St. Thomas, in itself, ought to be the principal inspiration for preaching for priests.  It is very important to nourish the souls with this doctrine in order to sustain their contemplation and love of God.

Saint Thomas himself, as a true son of Saint Dominic, had consecrated himself to the salvation of souls.  Furthermore, it is Thomas himself who developed the logo for the Order of Preachers: “Contemplari, et contemplate aliis tradere,”:  to contemplate and transmit to others that which you have contemplated.

It would be a grave error and detriment for the faithful to think that Saint Thomas is only reserved for priestsIt would also be wrong to think that, for the faithful, it is only necessary to give moral exhortations or, what is worse, considerations that appeal only to feelings.

Let us quote again the Archbishop:

Let us not think that Saint Thomas is too much for the faithful and that he is distant from their faith, for this is not true and damaging to the faithful.  The philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas are truth.  Therefore let us not say that the truth explained in all its simplicity, and clarity, in addition to its profound logic, cannot be understood by the faithful.  That would be condescension on our part.  This would amount to abandoning and despairing of communicating to the faithful – a profound tragedy.  It goes without saying that one must know how to express and expose these admirable principles.”11

Father Garrigou-Lagrange O.P. tells of having known a little lay sister, who was a contemplative, and who did not possess any human culture to speak of but who had been interiorly enlightened by interior trials:

“She had discovered among the saints two great friends: Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Albert the Great.  In spite of the fact that she lacked any philosophical or theological culture, she, nevertheless, loved to read how these saints prayed and furthermore, addressed them saying: “They are great Doctors of the Church and they enlighten the souls of those who entreat them for help.”  As a matter of fact, Father Garrigou-Lagrange continues to explain that it was St. Thomas who showed her where the obscure tunnel she was crossing would lead her!  And Saint Thomas enlightened many souls, as he had done to the little lay sister, if these poor souls appealed to him.”12

It was well known at Econe, that Msgr. Lefebvre came for a spiritual conference with a single volume of Saint Thomas, and he gave a commentary on an article of the Summa.  These formed the most pleasing lectures experienced by the Seminarians, and especially by the brothers!

It was not something rare, at the Monastery of Avrille, to be surprised to find our (now deceased) brother Marie-Joseph O.P. plunged into one of these same volumes.  He was particularly in love with the treatise on charity.

Conclusion

Let us ask of Our Lord what the Church makes us specially ask for in the Collect and the Postcommunion for the feast of Saint Thomas:

Da nobis et quae docuit, intellectu conspicere:

give us the grace to contemplate what he taught – that is, to nourish ourselves with his doctrine,

et quae egit imitatione complere; ut actus exterius piae operationis excrescent:

give us the grace to resemble him, in order that there may be an increase in our good works,

knowing that the first work of spiritual mercy consists in teaching souls the truth:

Docere ignorantes.


Ten aids to mental prayer

Ten aids to mental prayer

By Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard

(1858-1935)

Abbot of the French Cistercian Monastery of Sept-Fons

This text is an appendix of the book “The soul of the Apostolate”, which was a favorite book of Pope Saint Pius X. The good Pope said he left this spiritual masterpiece by his night stand, so he could read it in his bed.

Mental prayer is the furnace in which we go to renew the custody of the heart.  By our fidelity to our mental prayer all the other exercises of piety will be rekindled.  The soul will gradually acquire vigilance and the spirit of prayer, that is, the habit of having recourse to God more and more frequently.

Union with God in mental prayer will produce an intimate union with Him, even amongst the most absorbing occupations.

The soul, living thus in union with our Lord, by its vigilance, will attract more and more the gifts of the Holy Ghost and the infused virtues, and perhaps God will call it to a higher degree of mental prayer.

That excellent volume, “The ways of Mental Prayer” by Dom Vital Lehodey (Lecoffre, Paris), gives an exact account of what is required for the ascension of the soul by the different degrees of mental prayer, and gives rules for discerning, whether higher mental prayer is truly a gift of God or the result of illusion.

Before discussing affective mental prayer (the first degree of the higher classes to which God as a rule calls only the souls that have reached the state of vigilance by meditation),  Fr. Rigoleuc, S.J., gives in his fine book (Œuvres Spirituelles, Avignon, 1843, page 1 ff.) ten ways of discoursing with God – when after a serious effort, one finds it a moral impossibility to meditate on a subject prepared the night before.

I sum up the pious author:

1st Way. – Take a spiritual book (New Testament or “Imitation of Christ”) – read a few lines at intervals – meditate a little on what has been read, try to fix the sense and impress it on your mind.    Draw from it some holy thought, love, penance etc., resolve to practice this virtue when opportunity offers.

Avoid reading or meditating too much.  Stop at each pause as long as the mind find agreeable and useful converse.

2nd Way. – Take some text of Scripture or some vocal prayer – Pater, Ave, Credo, for instance – repeat it, stopping after each word, drawing from it various sentiments of piety on which you dwell as long as it pleases you.

At the end, ask God for some grace or virtue, according to the subject meditated upon.

You are not to stop on any word if it wearies or tires you, but if you find nothing more to think on, pass on quietly to another.  When you are touched by some good thought, dwell on it as long as it lasts without troubling to go any further.   Nor is it necessary to make fresh acts always, it is sometimes enough to keep in God’s presence, reflecting in silence on the words already meditated or in enjoying the feelings they have already produced in your heart.

3rd Way. – When the prepared subject matter does not give you enough scope, or room for free action, make acts of faith, adoration, thanksgiving, hope, love, and so on, letting them range as wide and free as you please, pausing at each one to let it sink in.

4th Way. – When meditation is impossible, and you are too helpless and dried-up to produce a single affection, tell Our Lord that it is your intention to make an act, for example, of contrition, every time you draw breath, or pass a bead of the rosary between your fingers, or say, vocally, some short prayer.

Renew this assurance of your intention from time to time, and then if God suggests some other good thought, receive it with humility, and dwell upon it.

5th Way. – In time of trial or dryness, if you are completely barren and powerless to make any acts or to have any thoughts, abandon yourself generously to suffering, without anxiety, and without making any effort to avoid it, making no other acts except this self-abandonment into the hands of God to suffer this trial and all it may please Him to send.

Or else you may unite your prayer with Our Lord’s Agony in the garden of desolation upon the cross.   See yourself attached to the Cross with the Saviour and stir yourself up to follow His example, and remain there suffering without flinching, until death.

6th Way. – A survey of your own conscience. – Admit your defects, passions, weaknesses, infirmities, helplessness, misery, nothingness. – Adore God’s judgments with regard to the state in which you find yourself. – Submit to His holy will. – Bless Him both for His punishments and for the favors of His mercy. – Humble yourself before His sovereign Majesty. – Sincerely confess your sins and infidelities to Him and ask Him to forgive you. – Take back all your false judgments and errors. – Detest all the wrong you have done, and resolve to correct yourself in the future.

This kind of prayer is very free and unhampered, and admits of all kinds of affections.  It can be practiced at all times, especially in some unexpected trial, to submit to the punishments of God’s justice, or as a means of regaining recollection after a lot of activity and distracting affairs.

7th Way. – Conjure up a vivid picture of the Last Things.  Visualize yourself in agony, between time and eternity – between your past life and the judgment of God. – What would you wish to have done?  How would you want to have lived?  – Think of the pain you will feel then. – Call to mind your sins, your negligence, your abuse of grace. – How would you like to have acted in this or that situation?  – Make up your mind to adopt a real, practical means of remedying those defects which give you reason for anxiety.

Visualize yourself dead, buried, rotting, forgotten by all.  See yourself before the Judgment-seat of Christ: in purgatory—in hell.

The more vivid the picture, the better will be your meditation.

We all need this mystical death, to get the flesh off of our soul, and to rise again, that is, to get free from corruption and sin.  We need to get through this purgatory, in order to arrive at the enjoyment of God in this life.

8th Way. — Apply your mind to Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  Address yourself to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  With all the respect that His Real Presence demands, unite yourself to Him and to all His operations in the Eucharist, where He is ceaselessly adoring, praising, and loving His Father, in the name of all men, and in the condition of a victim.

Realize His recollection, His hidden life, His utter privation of everything, obedience, humility, and so on. – Stir yourself up to imitate this, and resolve to do so according as the occasions arise.

Offer up Jesus to the Father, as the only Victim worthy of Him, and by whom we offer homage to Him.   Thank Him for His gifts, satisfy His justice, and oblige His mercy to help us.

Offer yourself to sacrifice your being, your life, your work.  Offer up to Him some act of virtue you propose to perform, some mortification upon which you have resolved, with a view to self-conquest, and offer this for the same ends for which Our Lord immolates Himself in the Holy Sacraments.  – Make this offering with an ardent desire to add as much as possible to the glory He gives to His Father in this august mystery.

End with a spiritual Communion.

This is an excellent form of prayer, especially for your visit to the Blessed Sacrament.  Get to know it well, because our happiness in this life depends on our union with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

9th Way. — This prayer is to be made in the name of Jesus Christ.  It will arouse our confidence in God, and help us to enter into the spirit and the sentiments of Our Lord.

Its foundation is the fact that we are united to the Son of God, and are His brothers, members of His Mystical Body; that He has made over to us all His merits, and left us the legacy of all the rewards owed Him by His Father for His labors and death.  And this is what makes us capable of honoring God with a worship worthy of Him, and gives us the right to treat with God, and, as it were, to exact His graces of Him as though by justice.  – As creatures, we have not this right, still less as sinners, for there is an infinite disproportion between God and creatures, and infinite opposition between God and sinners.  But because we are united to the Incarnate Word, and are His brothers, and His members, we are enabled to appear before God with confidence, and speak familiarly with Him and oblige Him to give us a favorable hearing, to grant our requests, and to grant us His graces, because of the alliance and union between us and His Son.

Hence, we are to appear before God either to adore, to praise, or to love Him, by Jesus Christ working in us as the Head in His members, lifting us up, by His spirit, to an entirely divine state, or else to ask some favor in virtue of the merits of His Son.  And for that purpose we should remind Him of all that His well beloved Son has done for Him, His life and death, and His sufferings, the reward for which belongs to us because of the deed of gift by which He has made it over to us.

And this is the spirit in which we should recite the Divine Office.

10th Way. – Simple attention to the presence of God, and meditation.

Before starting out to meditate on the prepared topic, put yourself in the presence of God without making any other distinct thought, or stirring up in yourself any other sentiment except the respect and love for God which His presence inspires.  – Be content to remain thus before God, in silence, in simple repose of the spirit as long as it satisfies you.  After that, go on with your meditation in the usual way.

It is a good thing to begin all your prayer in this way, and worth while to return to it after every point. – Relax in this simple awareness of God’s presence. – It is a way to gain real interior recollection. – You will develop the habit of centering your mind upon God and thus gradually pave the way for contemplation. – But do not remain this way out of pure laziness or just to avoid the trouble of making a meditation.