Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fire of Love




This being November, the month during which we remember the Holy Souls in a particular way, I have tried to make an effort to pray a little more than usual for their intention.  While I was putting aside a prayer book devoted to seven days of prayer for the dead, I came across a book written by St. Catherine of Genoa.  St. Catherine was a wife, nurse,  hospital administrator and a mystic.  She was given special insight into Purgatory.

When I was caught in the trap of pain a few weeks ago, I thought to myself that perhaps this was given to me as a temporal punishment to shorten my time in Purgatory.  Then I thought better of it and decided my time would be better spent not trying to read God's mind.  Nonetheless, I have been thinking a lot more about Purgatory and I highly recommend this book, Fire of Love.  Here is an excerpt, reprinted courtesy of EWTN.

"The souls in Purgatory are no longer in a state to acquire merit. How these souls look on the charity exercised for them in the world.

If the souls in Purgatory could purge themselves by contrition, they would
pay all their debt in one instant such blazing vehemence would their
contrition have in the clear light shed for them on the grievousness of
being hindered from reaching their end and the love of God.

Know surely that not the least farthing of payment is remitted to those
souls, for thus has it been determined by God's justice. So much for what
God does as for what the souls do, they can no longer choose for
themselves, nor can they see or will, save as God wills, for thus has it
been determined for them.

And if any alms be done them by those who are in the world to lessen the
time of their pain, they cannot turn with affection to contemplate the
deed, saving as it is weighed in the most just scales of the divine will.
They leave all in God's hands who pays Himself as His infinite goodness
pleases. If they could turn to contemplate the alms except as it is within
the divine will, there would be self in what they did and they would lose
sight of God's will, which would make a Hell for them. Therefore they await
immovably all that God gives them, whether pleasure and happiness or pain,
and never more can they turn their eyes back to themselves."


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Back Among the Living

Sorry for the extended hiatus, loyal readers.  A pain I ignored for a few months decided it had enough and demanded all my attention, sending me to the ER and landing me in the hospital for a 4-night stay, requiring a trip to the OR as well.  Refractory pain that was unresponsive to an arsenal of powerful IV narcotics had me hallucinating by the time the decision was finally made.  A kidney stone the size of a black olive had lodged itself in a most inconvenient place and refused to budge.  Laser lithotripsy and the placement of a stent were, I thought, the end, but I was mistaken.  Another 10 days of discomfort that required narcotic pain medication to be able to function were ahead.

I thought a lot about St. Therese during the 4 long sleepless vigils I had, and how she said toward the end of her suffering that she could only look at the Virgin Mary and say the name "Jesus".  I'm not naive enough to think my suffering in any way compares to hers, but I developed a new understanding for her observation that she could well see how people who have no faith might be tempted to take their own lives.  I tried to pray the Rosary, but I couldn't.  So I had a holy card of the Immaculate Conception and one of St. Philomena that I taped to the bed rail.  And I continually offered up the pain for whatever intention the Lord saw best to which to apply it.

My roommate was also a very religious Christian woman, though not Catholic.  I tried my best not to disturb her and she did the same, but at times neither of us could suffer in silence.  So we took turns praying for and with one another.  On Sunday, an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion came to visit me, while a coterie of friends from my roommate's church came to see her and pray with her. The pastor of my parish, where I feel I can no longer attend Mass, came to visit and offer a blessing.  I was gracious as I felt this was a very kind gesture and decided that while I can't attend the Masses he offers, I could stop complaining about him and the way he does things.

On discharge from the hospital, I was told that I had to follow up sooner rather than later with my primary care physician.  Apparently, the CT scan of the kidney unveiled a host of other issues that might be nothing at all but can't be risked to chance by ignoring them.  I spent an hour in an MRI tunnel last week, freezing from the chill but daring not to complain.  The results were inconclusive so a follow-up CT was ordered 3 months from now.  As I have often said, I am too cantankerous a person for cancer to even think about visiting, so I am not in the least concerned.  Nonetheless, I have kept this from my mother, who would surely give herself a nervous breakdown with worry over what is sure to be nothing.

I decided that God sent me this thorn because perhaps He wasn't happy about my constant grumbling about this situation or that not to my liking.  I decided that the intractable pain was a temporal punishment so that my days in Purgatory might be shortened.  At one point, I even had the audacity to point out to my sweet Jesus that His Passion took course over two days, including His Agony in the Garden and Good Friday.  "OK Lord, we're on day 4 here, what gives?  You know I don't have Your strength to endure as You did."   Somehow, by His Grace, I got through.

I decided some lifestyle changes are in order.  I can't run myself ragged anymore, racing from work to church, etc.  I know that the Eucharist is our greatest treasure on earth, but I have to content myself with going to Mass when I'm able and making the most of the times when I can get there.  I can't work five days a week anymore.  I am reducing my hours slightly and only committing to four days a week.  I can't be responsible for the short-comings of my co-workers or their lack of consideration for others or any of the other myriad of issues that had me running myself ragged there as well.  And I have to be more compliant about getting to the doctor more often and paying closer attention to my health.  There is enough in my life I can't control but no excuse to allow the things that I can change to go on and take their toll.

One of things I thought about most were those people who suffer in silence, ignored and forgotten.  I thought of all the people held hostage and tortured who have no way to relieve their pain.  It didn't ameliorate the agony any but it did help me to be grateful that I was at least in a hospital getting attention.  I thought of soldiers wounded in battle who lie in misery and filth for hours before they can be attended.  

I just learned that one of the friars at the shrine down the street from here had yet another orthopedic procedure to relieve the pain and deformity of rheumatoid arthritis.  Here is a person who has lived nearly his entire life in pain, and he never complains or seeks attention.  He views  his particular suffering in the same way St. Paul regarded his unknown "thorn in the flesh".  He reminds us that His Grace is sufficient for us.  Sometimes, it's easy to forget this.  But as St. Francis deSales noted, we should never let spiritual failure deter or discourage us.  Failure brings about humility.  God knows I need all I can get of that.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Richard Collins, Requiescat in Pace

LINEN ON THE HEDGEROW: REQUIESCAT IN PACE: It is with great personal sadness that we, the Collins Family, must inform the loyal followers of Linen on the Hedgerow, that our beauti...

Friday, October 10, 2014

If Loving God Makes You Weird, So Be It!

Working among the God-less people got a little more challenging this week.  After listening to an endless litany (from which there was no escape) about same-sex "marriage", sperm donors and religious weird people, I finally broke my silence and asked: How are you defining weird?  To which came the response: "Maybe I'd better drop this subject" to which I had to bite my tongue to refrain from saying: "Maybe you should never have started it in the first place."

My some-time spiritual director listened patiently as I recalled the situation for him.  He had one simple piece of advice:  Next time, tell them if loving God makes you a weirdo, so be it.

I know that such people are to be pitied, prayed for and not judged.  After all, I have quite a bit of my own baggage to haul that I don't need to take on anyone else's.  Sometimes, it's just so hard to resort to the Christian thing to do and pray for such people instead of battling the desire to debate them.  

I also have to remember to pray for their children.   There but for the grace of God...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thank God For St. Therese



"Scarcely three minutes pass by without a loving thought of God."

For the rest of us, maybe not.  Maybe it's more like three hours, or worse, days.

Whenever I fall short of loving Jesus as I should, I thank Him for creating St. Therese.  I don't think that aside from the Blessed Virgin Mary I could find a heart more on fire with love for Him.

I don't call on my saintly little friend as much as I did at one time. These days,  I spread the petitions out a little more.  St. Joseph for this, St. Nicholas for that, the Blessed Mother for more than I can say.  I know St. Therese  does not feel neglected because, after all, she does what she does for love of Him.  Even her last words said as much.

"My God, I love You."





Saturday, September 20, 2014

Meditations on the Glorious Mysteries

The following meditations are taken from St. Louis de Montfort and other traditions.  I apologize for not getting these up sooner but life is busy as ever.  It's more important that I pray than post but I will say this:  When I don't use these meditations I don't feel like I've prayed the Rosary at all.  To those of you who have written to say you have found this helpful, please know that is the reason I decided to post these in the first place, in the hope that it might help someone pray a more spiritually fruitful Rosary.

Also, to those who participated in our little Rosary Crusade last Sunday for persecuted Christians and hostages, thank you.  The point in praying at a specific time for a specific intention goes to St. Louis de Montfort's belief that when we pray the Rosary as a group, the spiritual benefit of each is multiplied and even if someone prays badly, they benefit from the prayers offered by the others.   Solidarity was lacking where I thought I might count on it, yet showed up in surprising places.  I continue to pray for this cause and know that many others do as well.

THE GLORIOUS MYSTERIES of THE HOLY ROSARY

The Resurrection

We offer Thee Lord Jesus this decade in honor of Thy Glorious Resurrection, and through this mystery and the intercession of Thy Most Holy Mother, we beg of Thee an ardent faith and hope in Heaven.

1.To recall His Glorious victory over sin and death
2 To honor the four glorious qualities of His Resurrected Body
3. To honor the power with which the stone was removed from the sepulcher
4.To honor the reunion of His Soul with His Resurrected Body
5. To honor His descent into Limbo to free the souls of the just
6. To honor the joy of the departed upon being lead into Heaven by Jesus
7. To honor His apparitions to His Mother and His disciples
8. To honor the meal He shared with His disciples
9. To recall the burial cloths rolled up in the tomb and what they signified to the disciples
10. To recall the joy of Mary Magdalene and the disciples to whom He appeared

May the grace of the Mystery of the Resurrection come down into our souls

The Ascension Into Heaven

We offer Thee Lord Jesus this decade in honor of Thy Glorious Ascension into Heaven, and through this mystery and the intercession of Thy Most Holy Mother, we beg of Thee an ardent desire for Heaven

1. To honor the reunion of His disciples on the Mount of Olives
2. To honor the promise that He would send the Advocate
3. To recall the power with which He ascended into Heaven
4. To honor the joy of the celestial court in receiving the Son of God
5. To honor the reunion of the Father and the Son
6. To honor the love between them, The Holy Spirit
7. To honor Jesus for taking His place at His Father's right hand
8. To honor His Second Coming in  Glory
9. To honor the Final Judgment, when He will recompense the Good and punish the Wicked
10.To honor the power given to Him by His Eternal Father

May the grace of the Mystery of the Ascension come down into our souls

The Descent of the Holy Spirit

1. To honor the cenacle of prayer kept by our Holy Mother and His disciples
2. To honor the great noise that heralded the arrival of the Holy Spirit
3. To honor the tongues of fire imparted to the disciples
4. To honor the gift of language bestowed on the disciples
5. To recall the Great Commission to preach the Gospel, heal the sick and feed the poor
6. To honor the gifts of the Holy Spirit
7. To honor the fruits of the Holy Spirit
8. To honor His Beloved Spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary
9. To honor His Victory over the three evils: the devil, the flesh and the world
10.To honor the Holy Trinity and the graces with which They endowed the Blessed Virgin Mary

May the grace of the Mystery of the Descent of the Holy Spirit come down into our souls.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

We offer Thee Lord Jesus this decade in honor of the glorious Assumption of Thy Most Holy Mother into Heaven and through this mystery and her intercession, we beg of thee an ardent devotion to her.

1. To honor her peaceful dormition
2. To honor the reunion of the disciples at her side
3. To honor her glorious Assumption into Heaven
4. To honor the joy with which the Holy Trinity received her into Heaven
5. To honor Mary's joy at being reunited with Jesus
6. To honor her Immaculate Conception
7. To honor her Fruitful Virginity
8. To honor her Divine Maternity
9. To honor her painless childbirth and delivery
10.To honor her profound humility and uncompromising fidelity to God's Will

May the grace of the Mystery of the Assumption of the BVM come down into our souls

The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth

We offer Thee Lord Jesus this decade in honor of the Coronation of Thy Most Holy Mother as Queen of Heaven and Earth and through her intercession we beg of Thee the grace of perseverance,

1. To honor her coronation as Queen of Heaven and Earth
2. To honor the Queen of the Angels
3. To honor the Queen of Peace
4. To honor Our Lady of Mt Carmel
5. To honor Our Lady of Lourdes
6. To honor Our Lady Help of Christians
7. To honor Our Mother of Good Counsel
8. To honor Our Lady of Perpetual Help
9. To honor the Mediatrix of all graces
10. To honor Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, whose spotless womb was the first tabernacle

May the grace of the Mystery of the Coronation of the BVM come down into our souls

Friday, August 29, 2014

Rosary Crusade for Persecuted Christians and Hostages

I would like to propose an online "Rosary Crusade" on Sunday, September 14, the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross.  We will pray to Our Lady, Queen of Peace and Mother of Captives,  for persecuted Christians throughout the world and especially in Iraq, and for all those held hostage by  ISIS and other violent groups. Wherever you are in the world, you can join in at 3 PM, EST.  Would you please spread the word on your own blogs and other social media outlets?

I will see what I can do to get a local priest to have a Holy Hour so we can pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  Maybe those of you who are so inclined could try to do the same.

As more and more is revealed about the Islamic State, it is clear to me that Hell has literally broken loose. Unfortunately, we have a president who is more interested in expanding abortion and contraception than he is in containing evil.   Whether the Islamic State is a threat to the US or not, it is certainly an evil that threatens scores of innocent people.  We should no more stand by and watch passively than we did when Hitler roared through Europe.

The Sorrowful Mysteries

I apologize for being slow to getting to these mystery meditations.  Finding an available computer is a challenge.

The following are meditations based on St. Louis de Montfort's method of praying the Rosary as well as other traditions.

THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN

We offer Thee Lord Jesus this decade in honor of Thy Agony in the Garden, and through this mystery and the intercession of Thy most Holy Mother, we beg of Thee true contrition for our sins.

1. The loneliness of Christ's soul throughout His ministry and especially that night in the garden
2. The consolation He desired from an angel
3. The long vigils of prayer He kept with His Father and especially that night in the garden
4. His admonishment to Peter, James and John: "Could you not stay awake with Me one hour?"
5. The sweat that poured down His face like blood
6/ His resignation to His Father's Will
7. His betrayal by Judas
8. Peter's denial of Him
9. The abandonment of Jesus by His apostles
10 His arrest and captivity by the hands of the Jews

THE SCOURGING AT THE PILLAR

We offer Thee Lord Jesus this decade in honor of Thy Scourging at the Pillar and through this mystery and the intercession of Thy most Holy Mother, we beg of Thee and the grace to perfectly mortify our senses.

1. Christ stripped of His clothing
2. The outrage that the Son of God, innocent of innocents, sentenced to being scourged
3. The humiliation at the pillar
4. Christ's submission to His barbaric tormentors
5. The anguish He suffered from the scourges
6. His sacred flesh rent by the scourges
7. His Precious Blood falling to the ground uncared for
8. To honor Christ being tied to the pillar and given twice the usual number of lashes
9.  The heartbreak of His Holy Mother, bearing witness to His torment
10. Christ's collapse to the ground in His own Blood

JESUS IS CROWNED WITH THORNS

We offer Thee Lord Jesus this decade in honor of Thy Crowning with Thorns and through this mystery and the intercession of Thy most Holy Mother, we beg of Thee contempt for things of this world

1. The Crown of Thorns
2. Christ's silence and gentleness towards His tormenters
3. His Sacred Head
4. The wounds imparted by the thorns
5. Christ being made to wear the purple cloak
6. Christ struck with a reed
7. Christ mocked as King of the Jews
8. Christ blindfolded and spat upon
9. The derision of which the Son of God was made the object
10.His sacred face buffeted by blows

JESUS CARRIES HIS CROSS

We offer Thee Lord Jesus this decade in honor of Thy Carrying of the Cross, and through this mystery and the intercession of Thy most Holy Mother we beg of Thee the gift of perseverance to patiently carry our crosses.

1. Christ condemned to die
2. Christ rejected by the crowd in favor of  Barrabas
3. Christ's embrace of His cross
4, Christ's journey to Calvary
5. His extreme weakness in carrying the cross
6. His three falls beneath the weight of the cross
7. His sorrowful meeting with His mother
8. His words to the weeping women of Jerusalem
9. The assistance rendered to Him by the Cyrenian
10. The veil of Veronica upon which He left His image

THE CRUCIFIXION

We offer Thee Lord Jesus this decade in honor of Thy Crucifixion, and we beg of Thee through this mystery and the intercession of Thy Most Holy Mother the grace to accept and worthily die whatever death Thou has destined for us.

1. Jesus stripped of His clothing
2. The barbaric way in which He is thrown on the cross
3. The wounds imparted by the nails
4. Christ's 3-hour agony once the cross is raised
5. His thirst for the salvation of souls
6. The mystery of the Son of God crucified between 2 common thieves
7. Christ's promise to the Repentant Thief
8. The gift of His Holy Mother to St. John and to all mankind
9. His last seven words
10. The spear that opened His side and the Blood and Water that flowed out.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Men of Blood

This psalm makes me think of the slain journalist James Foley.  It is Psalm 25 in the the DR version of the Psalms and New Testament and it also part of what the priest prays at the offertory in the TLM while he washes his hands.  It seems he might have been freed if a hefty ransom would be paid to ISIS. Apparently this is the only way other captives escaped with their lives. 

Jim's family released the last letter they received  from their son. Well, not a letter one could hold in their hands but one they will treasure always in their hearts.  His captors confiscated any letter Jim attempted to write so when a fellow captive learned he would be released, Foley asked him to commit a letter to memory.  The letter is somewhat prescient because although he tries to remain upbeat and hopeful, he clearly knew time was running out - he wanted any money he might have left in his bank account to go to his brothers. 

I am keeping all captives in my prayers.  


Lord I love the house in which You dwell,
The tenting place of Your glory
Gather not my soul with sinners,
Nor with men of blood my life.
On their hands are crimes
And their right hands are full of bribes.
As for me I walk in integrity, 
Redeem me and be merciful
My foot stands on level ground. 
In the assemblies I will bless You oh Lord 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Black Mass Nixed?

Father MacDonald of the fine blog Southern Orders is reporting that the satanic black mass scheduled for September 21 in Oklahoma has been cancelled.  Thanks be to the Mother of God for heeding the prayers of her children and for the intercession of St Joseph, Terror of Demons.   

Keep praying the Rosary.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

St Louis de Montfort's Method of Praying the Rosary

At some point, those who faithfully pray the Holy Rosary may find themselves struggling to maintain their focus.  St. Therese described how difficult it was for her to pray the Rosary when she wasn't in choir with her sisters.  Thankfully, there are methods one can employ to overcome distraction and make their daily Rosary a spiritual fruitful devotion.

Today, I will begin with the meditations on the Joyful Mysteries as offered by St. Louis de Montfort and other traditions.

First Decade

We offer Thee Lord Jesus, this decade in honor of the Annunciation, and we ask of Thee, through this mystery and through the intercession of Thy Most Holy Mother, a profound sense of humility.

(You can meditate on each of the following before each Hail Mary)

\1. The mission the Angel Gabriel was sent on by God
 2. Mary's disposition at the time Gabriel visited her
 3. The Angelic Salutation
 4. Mary's virginal fear
 5. The promise that the Holy Spirit would overshadow Mary
 6. Mary's yes
 7. The formation of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mother
 8. Gabriel's news that Elizabeth was also expecting
 9. The mutual awe of Mary and Gabriel
 10. Mary's faith in the promise of the Messiah

Second Decade

We offer Thee Lord Jesus this decade in honor of the Visitation of Thy Most Holy Mother to her cousin Elizabeth, and we ask of Thee, through this mystery and throuhg Mary's intercession, a perfect charity towards our neighbor.

1. The haste with which Mary set out for the hill country
2. Mary's joyful greeting to Elizabeth
3. The sanctification of John the Baptist by Mary in Elizabeth's womb
4. Elizabeth's proclamation of Mary as the Mother of her Lord
5. Mary's Magnificat
6. The Divine Maternity of Mary and the Miraculous Maternity of Elizabeth
7. Mary's profound humility before Elizabeth
8. The mystery of the Mother of God waiting upon Elizabeth
9. The 3 months Mary spent in service of Elizabeth
10. The message of the Angel to Joseph to take Mary into his home

Third Decade

We offer Thee Lord Jesus this decade in honor of Thy Nativity, and we ask of Thee through this mystery and through the intercession of Thy Most Holy Mother, esteem of spiritual values.

1. The journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem
2 The rejection Mary and Joseph met everywhere in Bethlehem
3. The mystery of the Queen of Heaven giving birth to the world's Redeemer in a stable
4. The abject poverty into which the Son of God was born
5. The painless delivery of the Infant Jesus
6. The joy of Mary and Joseph in taking custody of the Infant Jesus
7. The swaddling clothes which Mary prepared for Jesus with her own hands
8. The stable that witnessed the Divine Birth and the manger where the Infant Jesus was laid
9. The joyful announcement of the Heavenly Host to the shepherds.
10. The joy of the shepherds in finding the Christ Child in the manger

Fourth Decade

We offer Thee Lord Jesus this decade in honor Thy Presentation in the temple and we ask of Thee through this mystery and through the intercession of Thy Most Holy Mother, the gifts of purity and obedience.

1. The fidelity of Mary and Joseph to the Law
2. The Temple where the Son of God was offered
3. The ransom of the Infant Jesus with the purchase of two turtle doves
4. The poverty of Mary and Joseph
5. The Circumcision of Our Lord
6. The Precious Blood shed by the Infant Jesus
7. The joy of Mary and Joseph in hearing the name Jesus conferred upon the Infant
8. The faith of Anna and Simeon
9. The promise of God to Simeon regarding the Messiah
10.The prophecy of Simeon and the joy of taking the Infant Jesus into his arms

Fifth Decade

We offer Thee Lord Jesus this decade in honor of Thy Finding in the Temple, and we ask of Thee through this mystery and through the intercession of Thy Most Holy Mother,  fidelity to our vocations

1. The Holy Familty's celebration of Passover
2. The 3 days Jesus was missing from the Holy Family
3. The 3 days Jesus lay in the tomb
4. The parental fear of Mary and Joseph
5. The joy of discovering the Christ Child among the doctors
6. The awe of the doctors at the wisdom of Jesus
7. Mary's questioning of Jesus
8. Jesus' response to His Mother about going about His Father's work
9. The subjection of the Christ Child to St. Jospeh
10. The Sanctity of the Holy Family.

Next time I am able to post, I will do the same with the Sorrowful Mysteries.  Feel free to comment on any meditations which I have not provided but upon which you find it helpful to pray.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

It's Not Enough to Just Say the Holy Rosary

Part of my vacation reading has been a second time around with St Louis de Montfort's The Secrets of The Rosary.  I found this little gem, so old it's pages yellowed and crumbling, buried at the back of a shelf in a religious gift shop. I swore the saint was talking to me and had probably observed how badly I pray the Rosary.  

This past Lent I made it my resolve to fully contemplate each Gospel mystery and to conquer all distractions so that each Rosary I prayed would truly form a crown of glory on the heads of Jesus and Mary. I employ the prayers and meditations offered by de Montfort and I highly recommend them to anyone who ever struggles praying Our Lady's Psalter. 

This passage sadly described me until recently. 

"It is really pathetic to see how most people say the Holy Rosary - they say it astonishingly fast and do not properly pronounce the words at all.  We could not expect anyone, even the most unimportant person to think that a slipshod address of this kind was a compliment and yet we expect Jesus and Mary to be pleased with it!  Small wonder that the most sacred prayers of our religion seem to bear no fruit and that, even after saying thousands of Rosaries, we are still no better than we were before!" 

To be perfectly honest, this description is what makes it preferable for me to pray the Rosary alone rather than in a group. But de Montfort discourages this practice as well whenever possible.  

"There are several ways of praying The Holy Rosary but that which gives Almighty God the greatest glory, does the most for our souls and which the devil fears more than any other is that of saying or chanting the Rosary in two groups."

He goes on to say that our minds tend to be more alert in groups and that when prayed in common, everyone benefits even when some do not pray as well as others.  He also says that when we pray the Rosary in common - say, in a group of 30 people - we reap the benefits of 30 Rosaries and not just a single one. 

Further, he makes the case that in times of public tragedy and suffering the Church has always advocated public group prayer. 

This is why our bishops need to wake up already when it comes to what's happening in Iraq, Syria, Gaza, the Ukraine and even Oklahoma with the threat of a Black mass looming.  

Another common fault cited by the saint is that we fail to name an intention. 

He begs us to begin our Rosary by invoking the Holy Ghost, naming our intentions and then saying the following:

" I unite myself with all the saints in Heaven, and with all the just on Earth; I unite myself with Thee my Jesus in order to praise Thy Mother worthily and to praise Thee in her and by her. I renounce all the distractions that may come to me while I am saying this Rosary."

More to come including short meditations for each Gospel mystery. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Enemy of My Enemy

I think one could spend their entire life trying to figure out Middle East history and ultimately, the intricacies of tribal feuds and religious riffs will never make sense. 

Remember when Iran seized the American embassy and held its workers and diplomats hostage?  The sect that kidnapped the Americans were Shiites. I remember hearing about two sects of Muslims and it was believed the Sunnis were the more innocuous of the two.   Not so if you have tried to follow the turmoil happening now in the Middle East. 

Apparently, ISIS is comprised of Sunnis and Sunnis consider Shiites heretics. Kind of like the Sedevacantists and their disdain for Vatican II types but with one earth-shattering difference:  Catholics aren't beheading one another and taking women and children hostage.  

In short, there are precious few good guys left in that part of the world.  

When America was attacked on 9-11, recall the countries of origin of the 19 hijackers.  Not a single one was of Iraqi descent.  The majority were from Saudi Arabia.  Some Middle East analysts see the Saudis behind the rise of ISIS as a kind of war on Iran. Iran now backs US diplomacy in wanting to rid Iraq of Prime Minister Maliki. Go figure. 

Remember even further back when, specifically when the Iranians were our mortal enemies and Iraq and Iran were at war?  As I recall our government had no problem with Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons when he was using them on the Iranians.  A scant few years later, those same weapons were supposedly the justification for invading a sovereign nation. Oh how the world turns in that part of the universe. 

I don't really know what the political or diplomatic  answer is to the insanity that is the oil-rich Middle East. No country seems the slightest bit trustworthy.  

Unfortunately, the United States broke Iraq and now, like it or not, we own it.  

The only solution I see is a religious one. Mother Mary implores us to beg her intercession through her Holy Rosary. 

Did you hear a word uttered about this at Mass this past Sunday?  I know I didn't.  I'm really sorry about the death of Robin Williams, but practically speaking, it's a story that pales in comparison to the powder keg in Iraq. Finally, at the urging of the Pope, our Archbishop issued a communique urging prayers for this crisis. There will be a Holy Hour this Sunday for the victims of violence in Iraq, especially the Christians.  Great. But in the face of such evil, it is not enough.  

We need to storm Heaven with Rosaries and penance.  And we ought not wait until Sunday to begin. 

Hopefully, tomorrow I will begin a short series on praying the Rosary as prescribed by St Louis de Montfort.  

We may have arrived at the point in time when Our Lady will save the world through her psalter. 




Sunday, August 10, 2014

America's Chickens Are Coming Home To Roost

I do not subscribe to the near lunatic rantings of popular so-called Catholic bloggers that Obama has a mission to see Muslims wipe out Christianity.  What we are in fact seeing are the cumulative effects of America's follies throughout the world accelerated by a president who has forwarded the most immoral agenda imaginable.  Abomination is America's new normal.

I saw a comment in Father Z's combox that has truly given me pause. The writer spoke of the Apocalypse starting with a homosexual takeover of the West with a Muslim takeover of the East. Doesn't this make you wonder?

I now have co-workers who refer to their same-sex lovers as husbands or wives.  One has given birth to biologically engineered children who have been brought into a world of gender-bending confusion and immorality disguised as a loving home.  I say nothing, offer no congratulations or in any way express interest or concern for this farce other than to pray for their conversion and the spiritual well-being of the children.

It's only going to get worse.

Last week the meteorologist on a popular newscast simultaneously exited the proverbial closet and announced the birth of his son with his partner via a surrogate in one fell swoop. You should see the PC crowd falling down all over the place to sell this poison.  This is why if you have small children you might want to trash your television.  You just never know where this deception is going to come at you next.

We live a very simple life in this house.  Lately I have been over-ridden with guilt for simply enjoying a movie or a Phillies game (even if they are having a dismal season).  I now know why. There isn't much time and there is really nothing else that needs be done right now except pray and do penance.

Satan has a whole new legion of recruits. Some want your very life. Others just want to rob you of your soul in the most insidious way possible: by taking perversion to new heights and trying to convince you that it's ok to have an abortion because, after all, it's just a clump of cells.  It's ok for two men to raise a baby because after all, look at all the welfare queens birthing babies into abuse and neglect.  Got a problem with this?  You're labeled a homophobe and a barrage of blasphemy is released in the direction of Jesus Christ that makes you physically ill.

And what will come of the genocide in the Middle East?   I do not know but throughout the history of the Church martyrdom has never marked the end of Christianity.  The Blood of the Lamb always given rise to new members of His Mystical Body.  The beheading of children is our sick and sordid world's version of feeding Christians to lions. At least these innocents died with Christ in baptism and will rise with Him now that their earthly lives are over.  In the end, they triumphed.

America's children who are prevented from knowing Christ or, worse, have outright rejected Him face a fate that is no less terrifying and which will know no end.

"In the end, my Immaculate Heart will be your only refuge".

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rambling About This And That

At Mass, the priest reminded us that today is not only the Feast of the Transfiguration but also the anniversary of the atomic bomb getting dropped on Hiroshima.    He also talked about the call today to fast and pray for the persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria.  He made the sobering announcement that the for the first time in 1600 years, no Mass has been celebrated in Mosul for nearly a month.  A place where no Mass is celebrated is as barren as one that has been vaporized by a nuclear bomb, spiritually speaking.

The Holy Father talked today about the ways we waste time on this earth.  I'm as guilty as anyone of some of the offenses.  Sometimes I think it might not be such an awful thing if a solar flare knocked out the power grid.   Then we'd all be in the same boat.  I'm sure some would disagree.

Russian hackers stole over a billion passwords.  The more dependent we become on technology, the more vulnerable we are.

ABC News ran a story on how fast food isn't fast enough for some people.  Apparently, having to wait 3 minutes for a Big Mac is asking too much.   Hmmm

For Father's Day the kids gave my husband a boxed set of the HBO series "The Pacific".  I loved "Band of Brothers " ( the late Bill Guarnere lived around the corner from us when I was a kid).  It was tough to love its Pacific front counterpart.  One of the protagonists, an unlikely Marine,  wrote a book about his experience and this series is based in part on what has been called one of the best war memoirs ever written.  The battle of Okinawa was a particularly gruesome and difficult installment to watch.  After living for nearly a month in mud, maggots and decaying bodies, it became a source of ire to return home and hear people complain about their coffee not being hot enough or their service at the counter not fast enough.

I can't believe that I am going to say this, but I am.  As horrific as the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were,  I don't know that the alternative was that much better.    When will men learn?

All of the unrest in this world is rooted in greed and power.   There is only one remedy, but fewer and fewer people are turning to Him.  At our meager dinner tonight I reminded the kids of the plea to make sacrifices and pray for the persecuted Christians.  There was no mention of this at any Mass that any of us attended on Sunday, though I would venture to bet that at the Maronite-Rite church we are increasingly attending,  it most probably was.

The battle over immigration continues.  Every night after dinner we take a walk through the nearby open air market that is home to Italian, Asian and Latino merchants.  The last group opens their shops practically at daybreak and they don't close until late at night.  The whole family is involved in running the business.  In that sense,   their shops are not only their living but a daily social event.  Both parents are present along with the children. The merchants tend to "visit" with their fellow shopkeepers in the evening. There is nothing threatening about family closeness and hard work.

There was a study recently that looked at the lives of the poor and it concluded that they live more meaningful lives.  It's not hard to believe when you think about it.

A few months back I watched a PBS documentary on the Amish ritual of shunning.  An off-camera interview took place with an Amish woman who described her daily routine - getting up at 5 am, making breakfast, gathering the family for devotions before everyone goes off to school or their work around the farm.  She described how when she is going about her work, even while doing the dishes,  she can feel her soul "kneeling before the Lord."

Sometimes I worry that I am not even aware of my own soul.   It simply isn't possible to offer all my daily prayers before the Blessed Sacrament, and yet I struggle so much to truly converse with Jesus when I can't pray in a church or chapel.  I've concluded that although my pleasures in life could hardly be described as anything but simple, I need to work more on self-denial and mortifying my senses.   I used to wake up every morning with a burning desire to receive Jesus.  Now it's a struggle to get out of bed on the mornings when it is possible to attend Mass before work.  When I make it to evening Mass, my mind wanders to what I'm going to make for dinner.  I'm seriously flawed.

One thing in my favor is this:  I often wake up at night praying the Hail Mary.  I don't know why it happens, but it does.  Some people talk in their sleep or sleep walk; I apparently pray the Hail Mary. I'm not going to even attempt to explain how or why this happens but simply accept this as a gift and pray it continues.

God bless you.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Short Insight on Improvisation at Mass

For the umpteenth time since my reversion, I found myself getting agitated at Mass to the point where I really had to check myself.  You name it, I saw it and/or heard it.  At the expense of sounding like a broken record, the shenanigans don't happen at the TLM because there is no opportunity for improvisation. 

I'm not going to get upset with myself anymore when it angers me because the priest or a congregant takes liberties. If the Mass hasn't been messed with,  distractions caused by improvisation or other misbehavior would be few and far in between. 

You can have the most orthodox priest possible celebrate the Novus Ordo and someone will still attempt to sabotage the solemnity of the Mass.  Because they simply can. 

I know I sound like a broken record.  I don't care. 

I saw something on an FSSP site recently that succinctly explained why reverence at Mass is a must. To paraphrase, the author reminded us that Christ gave us the Eucharist in order to be close to us, but His desire to have us draw near does not remove the need for the utmost respect. 

Amen.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Quarter of a Century In Prison Because He Was a Christian

The father of a family I know from my spiritual adventures passed away this week after a long illness.  I knew his children but I didn't know him, or so I thought.  It turns out I had seen him many times, a quiet, humble and unassuming little man who was a daily communicant.

I was not entirely surprised to learn that prior to emigrating to America, he spent 26 years in prison because he refused to renounce Christ.

Please pray for the repose of his soul and for the consolation of his family.

Friday, July 25, 2014

St. Madeline Of Nagasaki, Pray for Persecuted Christians Everywhere

Last night I had dinner with a friend who recently returned from a trip to the Holy Land.  In Jerusalem, she was cursed and screamed at for quietly praying her Rosary at the Wailing Wall.  She was asked to leave a restaurant when the host spotted her bag, which is adorned with a beautiful Marian image, and told to go the dining room upstairs.  She was also told to return the cup of coffee she got at the counter before leaving and was advised not to return.  This was starkly different than the trips she had taken previously.

While making the Stations of the Cross, she saw that an ad for jeans had been disrespectfully posted right above the 9th station - Christ's third fall beneath the weight of the cross.  She was dismayed but wondered who she could complain to about such a blatant disregard. 

We talked at length about the events happening in our world and how everything, even the Holy Land, now feels different.  We may be at the point of no return.

My friend had not heard of St. Madeline of Nagasaki before, so I gave her a brief history, which you can find elsewhere on this blog.  Madeline was only 24 years old when she was put to death for the crime of being a Christian.  She was hung upside down over a pit of animal entrails and other garbage for two weeks before she finally died.  I pray but don't know that I would demonstrate similar conviction of my faith should the same choice be posed to me.

 I pray to St. Madeline each day for Christians who are persecuted everywhere, but especially in the Middle East.  The lovely jihadists at ISIS apparently blew up Jonah's tomb.  They've been on a destructive rampage that, in the end, will make the Taliban look like choir boys.  Apparently, alQaeda isn't radical enough for these folks.  Boko Haram, ISIS, al Qaeda - all spawned by the same father.

The gates of Hell will not prevail, but the trials are coming just the same and we can't say we don't deserve it.  Some folks are wearing or posting the Arabic symbol for N in solidarity with Christians in Mosul, who have been told to get out or die by the sword.   ISIS terrorists have marked Christian homes with the N symbol to stand for Nazarene.  Chilling, isn't it?

We cling to the Cross.  

We each carry our own, and one day, it will carry us.





Sunday, July 20, 2014

Prayers for Gaza and Malayasia Crash Victims (and everyone else who needs it)

The priest who offers the Saturday morning Mass I regularly attend has been preaching for some weeks his belief that we are in the end times. According to Father Gene, we are at the foothills of the great trial many of us Catholics anticipate.  He said he is finding it increasingly difficult to offer words of hope to those experiencing economic ruin.  The only thing we can do at this point he says is stay close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  I agree with him.

Father cited the speed with which events are happening as indicators that we are in for some very difficult times. I try to make it a habit to pray for those about to die each day, either suddenly or from illness.  One minute you're kicking around a ball in the beach with your pals and the next, you are gone, your young life stolen by a trigger-happy apartheid government.  One minute you're on a jet, flying to a conference with other researchers committed to ending HIV, the next you're gone, your life and promise stolen by thugs funded by a former KGB agent who can't change his stripes.

Meanwhile,  the Folly of the Neo-cons who thought a war in Iraq was a good idea is manifesting itself in a group called Isis, who have a penchant for crucifixion.  There has been no mention of this in the media but I have heard about it in at least 2 homilies this past week.

I saw on the news today that the bodies of the dead are being held for ransom by the terrorists who shot down their plane. Over 100 Palestinians lost their lives today.  The Israeli propaganda machine was hard at work spinning its usual lies on the Sunday talk shows.  Repeating the same garbage does not lend truth where none existed in the first place.

Despite what the "death to all Arabs" crowd believes, not all Palestinians are Muslim.  Israeli bombs do not differentiate between Muslims and Christians,  just as they don't discriminate against women and children.  The extremists who burned a Palestinian teenager while he was still alive are becoming more of the norm in Israel.  Moderates are realizing there is no longer a place for them.

The death toll in Gaza has already surpassed that of the plane crash. And incidentall it is reported that pro-Russia separatists didn't mean to target a passenger jet but mistakenly thought they were aiming for a military jet.  As if that excuses their wanton disregard for life.  How about they don't shoot anything down that will result in the loss of human life.

At any rate, please pray for all the innocent life taken this week and offer your Rosary that the suffering of the oppressed everywhere will be eased.

I saw a very fitting quote today.  We are not all guilty, but we are all responsible.

NOTE: Thanks to all for your prayers.  My mother, thank God, does not have a serious illness. Just a painful rheumatoid condition that will take some time to get under control.  In your charity, please pray for my youngest.  We were at the cardiologist on Friday and while it is not immediately going to happen, surgery is inevitable.  We're hoping we can get through the school year without having to get it done.  Thanks and God bless you.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Still Standing

Sorry once again for the dearth of posts but life is busy these days.  My mother has been debilitated by an as yet unidentified illness and I've been running back and forth after work and on weekends to look in on her and my dad.  We're seeing a specialist on Tuesday who will hopefully get us on the right track.  My mother is unable to sleep at night because of the pain but she doesn't complain very much at all.

The Rosary I carry with me is one she gave me.  The beads are white pearls and the medallion contains a black and white photo of St Therese.  It occurred to me that if my bag is ever stolen the Rosary will go with it so I traded it out with the one I keep on my night table which is a Carmelite Rosary with brown beads.  I bought if because it reminded me of the kind a nun might carry.  Anyway that simple little  St Therese Rosary was always very dear to me but even more so now as the reality that my mother will not always be with me on this earth sinks in with a sudden closeness. 

Complicating the matter is the fact that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia pulled the rug out from under my parents' parish.  Despite the fact that theirs is a thriving parish in very good financial standing, Archbishop Chaput is reducing it to a worship site.  That church was my mother's life and with no warning it will cease to be as she knew it. The pastor was also caught off guard by the news and went so far as to say that the decision "cries out to Heaven for justice."  The appeal to the Archbishop was denied. 

I know  Bishop Chaput was left with a financial mess but it is nonetheless disheartening to see politics rear its ugly head in the Catholic Church.  I can understand why people become disillusioned and lose their religion. 

The deterioration at my own Novus Ordo parish could also make one lose their religion.  Our reverent and holy pastor was replaced last summer with a pot-stirring priest whose Masses have struck some who are less orthodox than me as invalid.  His sermons never mention the Sacraments and they end with a rock and roll trivia question. He turned the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass into a free-for-all by substituting his homily with a gripe session about previous pastors and their spending habits.  The recently restored pipe organ sits idle, the rubrics are ignored and anyone who questions or criticizes is mocked to scorn. He has turned the parish bulletin into a battleground for warring factions - those who favor a secular Mass where the people are the center of attention and those who want an orthodox Mass with music appropriate for the Holy Sacrifice.  The latter are ridiculed and even challenged to meet on the steps of the church for a fight. 

While this priest works very hard to keep the financial aspect of the parish afloat, he has deprived the faithful of much-needed graces.  Many of them are too ignorant of their own faith to know it. I do not want to see a Catholic Church close but what's happening at this parish is anything but Catholic.  I can only thank God I also belong to a TLM parish. 

I placed a matter of practical importance entirely in God's hands.  It was something I very much wanted and was lead to believe was going to be mine with just a little inconvenience and perseverance.  Imagine my bitter disappointment when the person who strung me along delivered the blow on Monday.  I asked God to let His Will be done and when He did, I was still bitterly disappointed.  He gave me two gifts - the sadness of being refused and the humiliation that comes with being betrayed. After I got over the sting, the graces of these gifts started to sink in and brought with them even more graces.  

The priest who celebrates the Mass I attend on Saturday mornings is entirely devoted to the Blessed Mother. He gives long sermons and I love them. Today I swore he must have been reading my mind. 

I have little to discuss with the people I work with and am often patronized by them because of my faith.   Yesterday I thought I would lose my mind listening to a never-ending stream of chatter about clothes, shoes, cars, restaurants and vacation destinations.  Father said during his homily that these topics are all some people care about and that preoccupation with such materialistic interests are devoid of God.  I wish he gave some advice on what to do when one is held captive in such situations. 

Last week my nighttime reading was a little booklet I got at the Carmel written by St Alphonse Liguori.  I knew from Our Lady's words to Sister Lucia that St Joseph practiced an austere life of personal poverty. What I learned from St Liguori is that the Virgin Mary did as well. He wrote that all she had at the time of her dormition were two old gowns that she left to the woman who became her care-taker.  She saw poverty as a necessary means to keep God as the center of attention and the focus of devotion.   So between her embrace of poverty and humility and the example of St Therese in making every aspect of her life a sacrifice, I feel I can't go wrong if I try with all of my will to emulate them. Like everything else in my spiritual life this is a work in progress. 

On a more shallow note, I really got into the World Cup. I love that the finale has papal overtones. Truth be told, while I wish B16 was still Christ's Vicar on earth. I will be rooting for Argentina.  Sorry Germany!