Morning Assembly

Confirmations 2017

Monday 20th March, St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1cl.

Confirmation

Q262. What is Confirmation?
Confirmation is a sacrament by which we receive the Holy Ghost, in order to make us strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.

Baptism makes us Christians; Confirmation, as its name shows, makes us strong Christians. The Holy Ghost is brought down into our souls as He came down on the apostles and disciples on Pentecost Day; and by the Sacrament He increases the grace in our souls and gives us a character (see 253, 254) marking us as Christ's soldiers and entitling us for the whole of our life to the graces we may need in order to bear ourselves with courage as Christ's soldiers, professing our faith openly and fearlessly and living the lives of good, practical Catholics. It is, then, a very necessary sacrament. It is not, however, necessary for salvation as Baptism is; but it would be a great sin to neglect to be confirmed, especially if a person were weak in his faith or exposed by his circumstances to temptation against it.

Our Lord is generally supposed to have instituted Confirmation sometime between the Resurrection and the Ascension. We read of this sacrament being conferred by the Apostles: “Now, when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John, who, when they were come, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost. For he was not as .yet come upon any of them: but they were only baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands upon them: and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:14). And again: “And when Paul had imposed his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came upon them” (Acts 19:6).

Q263. Who is the ordinary minister of Confirmation?
The ordinary minister of Confirmation is a bishop.

The ordinary minister of Confirmation is a bishop. But the Pope can give power to priests to confirm. All parish priests or their equivalent (but not assistant priests) have this power within the territory allotted to their authority; but it can be used only when the faithful are in real danger of death by sickness and the bishop is not available.

Q264. How does the bishop administer the Sacrament of Confirmation?
The bishop administers the Sacrament of Confirmation by praying that the Holy Ghost may come down on those who are to be confirmed; and by laying his hands upon them, and making the sign of the cross with chrism on their foreheads, at the same time pronouncing certain words.

At the beginning of the ceremony the bishop stretches out his hands over all who are to be confirmed, and prays that the Holy Ghost may come down upon them and bring His graces and gifts with Him (for the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, see 318). Then each one kneels in front of the bishop who makes the sign of the cross on his forehead with chrism, saying the words in the next question. Chrism is a mixture of olive oil and balsam, which has been given a special blessing by the bishop. It is blessed on Maundy Thursday each year.

Q265. What are the words used in Confirmation?The words used in Confirmation are these: "I sign thee with the sign of the cross, and I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

It is called the chrism of salvation. Olive oil has always been considered to give and preserve strength, and spiritual strength is the effect of Confirmation. Balsam has been regarded as a preservative. So the chrism makes and keeps us strong that we may save our souls. In Baptism we are given the name of an angel or saint to be our protector and model during life. It is usual in Confirmation to take a further name for the same reason.

 

See: The Sacraments in detail

Friday 17th March, Friday after the 3rd Sunday of Lent, 3cl.

(Comm. St. Patrick, Bishop & Confessor, Patron of Ireland)

Baptism

Definition
Q256 What is Baptism?
Baptism is a sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, makes us Christians, children of God, and members of the Church.

Q257. Does baptism also forgive actual sins?
Baptism also forgives actual sins, with all the punishments due to them, when it is received in proper dispositions by those who have been guilty of actual sin.

Q258. Who is the ordinary minister of Baptism?
The ordinary minister of Baptism is a priest; but anyone may baptize in case of necessity, when a priest cannot be had.

Q259. How is Baptism given?
Baptism is given by the pouring of water on the head of a child, saying at the same time these words: "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost".

Q260. What do we promise in Baptism?
We promise in Baptism to renounce the devil and all his works and pomps.

Q261. Is Baptism necessary for salvation?
Baptism is necessary for salvation because Christ said, "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (Jn iii. 5).

Division
- Baptism: 
   - Sacramental Baptism
   - Baptism of Desire
   - Baptism of Blood

See: The Sacraments - Overview

Effects of the Baptism
See Q256

See: The Sacraments in detail

 


Monday 13th March, Monday after the 3rd Sunday of Lent, 3cl.

The Sacraments

Definition
Q249. What is a sacrament?
A sacrament is an outward sign of inward grace ordained by Jesus Christ, by which grace is given to our souls.

Q250. Do the sacraments always give grace?
The sacraments always give grace to those who receive them worthily.

Q251. Whence have the sacraments the power of giving grace?
The sacraments have the power of giving grace from the merits of Christ's precious Blood, which they apply to our souls.

Q252. Ought we have a great desire to receive the sacraments?
We ought to have a great desire of receiving the sacraments because they are the chief means of achieving salvation.

Q253. Is a character given to the soul by any of the sacraments?
A character is given to the soul by the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Order.

Q254. What is a character?
A character is a mark or seal on the soul which cannot be effaced, and therefore the sacrament conferring it may not be repeated.

Q255. How many sacraments are there?
There are seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Order, and Matrimony.

Division
See: The Sacraments - Overview
- Baptism: beginning of the supernatural life
- Confirmation: strengthens the supernatural life
- Holy Orders: gives power to transmit supernatural life
- Marriage: begets souls for the supernatural life
- Extreme Unction: preserves the supernatural life at the last moment of earthly life
- Penance: restores the supernatural life
- Holy Eucharist: is the supernatural life

See: The Sacraments in detail

Effects of the sacraments

Other conduits of the supernatural life
Certain actions called sacramentals are endowed with power to transmit the supernatural life by the Church (e.g. the sign of the Cross, genuflection before the Blessed Sacramant and other indulgenced actions; also many prayers have indulgences attached). Whereas the sacraments produce their prinicipal effect by their own operation (ex opere operato) (although the good disposition of the recipient is rewarded with supplimentary graces), the sacramentals produce there effect only in proportion to the disposition of the recipient (ex opere operantis).


Friday 10th March, Friday after the Second Sunday of Lent 2cl

Sin

Q113. What is sin?
Sin is an offence against God by any thought, word, deed, or omission against the law of God.

Q114. How many kinds of sin are there?
There are two kinds of sin - original sin and actual sin.

Sin is an offence against the law of God. There are two divisions of sin:
- Sin is divided into Original Sin (committed by Adam and transmitted to all his progeny) or actual sin (committed by the individual).
- Actual sin is divided into mortal sin (a grave offence against the law of God which turns man from his supernatural end) and venial sin (an offence against the law of God which hinders man in the pursuit of his supernatural end, but does not turn him away from that end).

Q115. What is original sin?
Original sin is that guilt and stain of sin which we inherit from Adam, who was the origin and head of all mankind.

Q116. What was the sin committed by Adam?
The sin committed by Adam was the sin of disobedience when he ate the forbidden fruit.

Q117.Have all mankind contracted the guilt and stain of original sin?
All mankind have conducted the guilt and stain of original sin, except the Blessed Virgin, who, through he merits of her divine Son, was conceived without the least guilt or stain of original sin.

Q118. What was the privilege of the Blessed Virgin called?
The privilege of the Blessed Virgin is called the Immaculate Conception.

Q119. What is actual sin?
Actual sin is every sin we ourselves commit.

Q120. How is actual sin divided?
Actual sin is divided into mortal and venial sin.

Q121. What is mortal sin?
Mortal sin is  grievous offence against God.

Q122. Why is it called mortal sin?
It is called mortal sin because it kills the soul and deserves hell.

Q123. How does mortal sin kill the soul?
Mortal sin kills the soul by depriving it of sanctifying grace, which is the supernatural life of the soul.

Q124. Is it a great evil to fall into mortal sin?
It is the greatest of all evils to fall into mortal sin.

Q125. Where will they go who die in mortal sin?
They who die in mortal sin will go to hell for all eternity.

Q126. What is venial sin?
Venial sin is an offence which does not kill the soul, yet displeases God, and often leads to mortal sin.

Q127. Why is it called venial sin?
It is called venial sin because it is more easily pardoned than mortal sin.


Friday 3rd March, Ember Friday of Lent 2cl

What is an Ember Day?

Ember days (corruption from Lat. Quatuor Tempora, four times) are the days at the beginning of the seasons ordered by the Church as days of fast and abstinence. They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) for the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday:

  • after 13th December (S. Lucia),
  • after Ash Wednesday,
  • after Whitsunday, and
  • after 14th September (Exaltation of the Cross).

The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy.

 

Grace

Q139. What is Grace? 
Grace is a supernatural gift of God, really bestowed on us for our sanctification and salvation.

There are three sorts of grace:

  1. Sanctifying grace: which makes us holy
  2. Actual grace: which makes us do holy things
  3. Freely given grace: which gives us special powers to bring souls to Christ 

Sanctifying Grace

The most important grace is sanctifying grace, for without it, we cannot be saved.

  • It is not something we can see.
  • It is precious, but not like gold coins that we can carry in a bucket, or money in a bank account.
  • It is a a gift from God that makes the soul transparent so that it can be illuminated by God's light and life.

Before we were baptised, our soul (which is the thing that makes us alive, gives us intelligence and a will) was like a lump of coal. Our soul gave us life, but life without God.

By Our Lord's Incarnation, Passion, Death, Ressurection and Ascension, the sanctifying grace that was lost by Adam when he committed Original Sin, was offered to man once again

It is called called sanctifying grace because it makes us holy: it transforms our soul as if a lump of coal is turned into a huge and beautiful diamond. With its clearness it can let in the light and life of God, and then sparkle as it sends light in all directions.

Sanctifying grace is the most precious created gift in the entire universe. When we die, if we have sanctifying grace in the soul, we will be saved. Otherwise we will go to hell.


Friday 24th February - S. Matthias Apostle 2cl

From the Acts of the Apostles
Acts 1:15-18


15 In those days Peter rising up in the midst of the brethren, said: now the number of persons together was about an hundred and twenty:
16 Men, brethren, the scripture must needs be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was the leader of them that apprehended Jesus:
17 Who was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
18 And he indeed hath possessed a field of the reward of iniquity, and being hanged, burst asunder in the midst: and all his bowels gushed out.

19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: so that the same field was called in their tongue, Haceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
20 For it is written in the book of Psalms: Let their habitation become desolate, and let there be none to dwell therein. And his bishopric let another take.
21 Wherefore of these men who have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus came in and went out among us,
22 Beginning from the baptism of John, until the day wherein he was taken up from us, one of these must be made a witness with us of his resurrection.

23 And they appointed two, Joseph, called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
24 And praying, they said: Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
25 To take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas hath by transgression fallen, that he might go to his own place.
26 And they gave them lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.


Monday 20th February - Feria 3cl.

Flowers in the Desert

"You can really see the grace grow in them."

Introduction

In the year 2000, a young lady gave up the world to found an orphanage and old people's home in her native Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh in the southeast India. A few years later, she discovered both the Tridentine Mass and her religious vocation thanks to her cousin who was one of the faithful of the Society of St. Pius X. But, unable to attend Mass and frequent the sacraments, she made the bold decision to move her entire orphanage 700km south to Palayamkottai, Tamil Nadu to be near the only priory of the Society of St. Pius X in India. Father Daniel Couture, District Superior in Asia, and Father Patrick Summers, the prior, welcomed Swarna and her children with open arms in January 2006. In her, and in her work, they saw the potential of a marvellous blossoming of the apostolate in the pagan wasteland of India. This article looks back over the last eight years to give witness to the heart-warming miracle of grace that continues to unfold, to astonish and to edify.

Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Almost a year before Swarna took the brave decision to move her orphanage to Palayamkottai, she visited two religious congregations in Europe with a double intention. The first intention was to find a congregation who would accept her as a postulant, the second was to have the same congregation adopt her orphanage as part of their apostolate. This was a great thing to ask of any community, but the readiness of Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to embrace both Swarna and her orphanage was a sign of Providence and an answer to her prayers.

The Consoling Sisters are a religious society with public vows dedicated to promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart and also to the Christian formation of girls and women. The mother house is in Vigne, which is about one hour north of Rome, and now comprises a modest 11 professed sisters and 3 postulants [in 2022 it had 49 professed sisters!] . The sisters have placed themselves under the spiritual and temporal guidance of Father Emmanuel du Chalard of the Society of St. Pius X and they help the Society in many ways.

In June 2007, one and a half years after the Servi Domini Orphanage arrived in Palayamkottai, Swarna boarded an airplane for Italy to begin her postulancy with the Consoling Sisters. She left the orphanage in the capable hands of another postulant to the Consoling Sisters, Miss Marie-Blanche Herault of France, together with three Indian postulants who were the first fruits of the their new foundation at Palayamkottai.

The year past quickly enough, Swarna was accepted as a novice, taking the name of Sr. Maria Immaculata, and was professed on 3rd July 2008. With almost indecent haste she boarded another airplane to return to her tearfully jubilant orphans. For months before, the children had been counting down the days with growing excitement. If any of the classes at school seemed a bit dull, one simply had to ask the question, “How many days until Auntie comes?” and the sleepy children would be transformed instantly into a bright-eyed, chattering mêlée. If only it were possible to describe the overflowing joy of the boys and girls on that day. Sister, however, being of a phlegmatic temperament, betrayed little more than a placid smile. Fr. Couture came especially for the event, for it marked the close of another chapter in the continuing story of what can only be described as a beautiful work of Divine Providence.

Since then, two more Indian ladies have been professed, two more are in the novitiate and there is one postulant in India. in addition, two French volunteers have entered the novitiate in Vigne because of their experience in India.

The New Orphanage

Vocations were not the only flowers that bloomed in this unlikely garden; the generosity of many benefactors has permitted the construction of a new orphanage on new land outside the noisy town of Palayamkottai. Fr. du Chalard blessed the first stone of the first building on 29th November 2008 and returned on the feast of the Immaculate Conception in 2009 to bless the elegant edifice which is now the convent for the sisters.

Fairer by far than concrete flowers, however, are the blossoms of virtue which charm all who visit the orphanage. The children, young ladies and elderly from infancy to 86 years old, form a community defined by the bonds supernatural charity. When one sees a young girl patiently feeding an elderly lady or another supporting her as she totters in the cloister, or when one hears the beautiful singing of the choir, or surprises a soul deep in prayer in the chapel, one senses the action of sanctifying grace at work. "You can really see the grace growing in them," said Archbishop Lefebvre when speaking of his experience of the mission in Gabon; he would say the same thing here too.

On 23rd September 2010, Fr. Couture blessed the first stone of the second phase of the construction project. There were 28 orphans and elderly occupying the convent building with the sisters, but now that the second phase is complete, the sisters have the convent to themselves and the numbers have increased to 50 girls and 11 elderly. The new building has a capacity for 60 children and 30 elderly, but more vocations are required to look after such a number.  The next project will be the construction of a large church for which the sisters await the signal of Divine Providence.

Veritas Academy

When the Servi Domini Orphanage arrived in 2006 with 16 girls, 8 boys and 7 elderly ladies and invalids, Father Summers, prior of the Most Holy Trinity Priory, Palayamkottai, was obliged to turn his priory into a boys' orphanage and school.

Veritas Academy had been an unrealised dream of the priests at Palayamkottai for many years , but it was only with the arrival of so many children that the critical mass was achieved to found what is now the condition sine qua non of any long term apostolate - a school to teach the faith to the next generation. The school has moved three times since then and started the 2014-15 academic year with 68 pupils in a rented property equidistant from the priory and girls' orphanage. A sizeable property has been purchased for its final home, but the signs of Providence are awaited before the building contractors are called again.

Volunteers

The influence of Veritas Academy has not just confined itself to the huge expanse of the Indian subcontinent either. In a generous response to appeals for teachers and supervisors, some 110 volunteers have given time to teach at the school or to labour for the mission over the last 8 years. They have come from every inhabited continent and have almost all returned home with happy memories that will never be effaced. Daily Mass, working and playing with the children, bearing with a difficult climate, experiencing a culture and a landscape that is so far removed from any other leaves most of the volunteers enriched with grace and virtue - and a desire to return again. Four ex-volunteers are pursuing religious vocations on account of their experiences in India.

If there is one memory they cherish fondly, it is the innocence of the children. The children at the orphanage have no television, mobile phones, computer games, internet, tasteless music and ugly fashion - and their joy throws the sadness of modern western anti-culture into sharp relief. May this memory serve them well.

The Future

The causa finalis of the Mission in India is to establish a Catholic community with a Catholic culture in which in Catholic families and vocations are formed and nourished. Substantially, there is nothing left of the 2000 year old Catholic culture established by St. Thomas the Apostle; or the Catholic culture which has its roots in the Portuguese colonies of 500 years ago. The ravages of the Second Vatican Council have broken the golden chain that spanned many centuries; the physical structures remain, but they have lost their substance. Enculturation, religious ignorance and materialism have been the hammer blows that have broken this chain and we are fighting hard against an ambient pagan mentality of contraception and materialism to re-forge the links with the past.

The first group of boy orphans who live at the priory have graduated from Veritas Academy. Some are continuing their education, others are learning trades. Our plan is to give them support until they can support themselves - ideally by running their own businesses, or to encourage them to try their vocations if they have the aptitude and disposition. 

Already 35 souls have received the sacrament of baptism as a result of the Consoling Sisters' apostolate and 7 old ladies have died fortified by the rites of the Church. Sr. Maria Immaculata is encouraging her girls to continue their academic education and helps them to acquire the qualities and skills of motherhood. Four young ladies have been married and Sister is a "grandmother" eight times over. We still hope for religious vocations from the rest.

Both the priory and the orphanage have attracted potential vocations from among the faithful. In June 2011,  local boy Father Therasian Xavier, was ordained at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona and now serves at the priory which is around the corner from his home. At the priory we currently have a pre-seminarian and there are two Indian seminarians at Holy Cross Seminary in Goulburn, Australia. At the orphanage there are two novices and one postulant. The entire community of the Consoling Sisters were originally members of the faithful of the Mission.

Over the last eight years, the Mission has clearly been blessed. We thank all those who have helped the mission with their prayers and sacrifices, and we live in hope for the future. Charity has watered the desert and the flowers that now grow there are as miraculous as they are beautiful. May God be praised, may His mother continue to shower graces upon us and may you all be blessed.

Rev.Robert Brucciani
21st January 2015

 


Friday 10th February - St. Scholastica, Virgin 3cl.

What's it like to be a traditional Catholic child in India?

The life of a traditional Catholic child in India is similar to the life any children in India for the most part.

Generally, children all live and sleep in the same room. They are happy to sleep on a mat on the floor. Sometimes there are mosquitoes, so they sleep underneath a single sheet (it is too hot to have a blanket or a duvet). Often a fan will blow cool air over them. The fan also helps to blow away the mosquitoes.

In the morning after a quick prayer, the children will wash outside if they live in the country. Often they will shower using a bucket and a jug to pour water over their heads. At breakfast they will often eat iddly which are rice dumplings. These are covered with sauce: coconut chutney or samba or rasam. The food is very spicy but delicious. Most food is entirely natural and organic; it is rare to see processed food on the table because it is too expensive and is never as tasty. In this way, the simple Indian lives more luxuriously than we do in the West!

Most children in India live in villages (about 70% of the population is rural) and one remarkable thing about village children is their total transformation when they get dressed for school - they are totally transformed from scally wags into prim and proper pupils. It is lovely to see children with bright crisp uniforms emerging from simple village houses.

When the arrive at school, children go to their desks: boys on one side and girls on the other side of the classroom. They memorise many many things, much more than the West. When they come home they have plenty of homework which usually involves memorising more things.

When they go to Mass, again the men are on one side and the women around the other of the chapel. Usually there are no benches in the church and so people kneel and sit on the floor. The faithful love singing and processions and all devotions to "Mother Mary" and the saints. When they arrive at a chapel, faithful will often make a tour of all the statues in the church touching the foot of each Saint and saying a prayer. Churches are often brightly lit, there are colourful paintings on the walls, and much sparkling decoration, particularly in gold.

It is a delight to see the bright colours of the clothes too, particularly the women and children. The women wear saris, young girls often wear chuddidah and boys wear simple shirts and trousers. Everyone except the priest takes off their shoes to go into the church, so that outside church there are dozens of slippers, sandals and flip-flops. It's amazing how everybody finds their own shoes again.

Traditional Catholic children always wear a scapular and you often see a rosary around their necks. All Indians are happy to display their religion. In a Catholic house you will see a picture of the Sacred Heart, a statue of Our Lady, a picture of Saint Anthony and other aaints. In the West many Catholics are afraid to show their faith. They are afraid of what people will think or say. This is sad because we should be like a light shining out for the world to see. We should live so that others will say "Look see how those Christians love each other."

At home, around the house there there is always much work to be done. Sweeping, filling water pots, removing husks from the outside of coconuts, and watering the plants are typical jobs for children. When children eat, they often sit on the floor on the ground, and eat with their right hand -  there is no cutlery. In restautants or at banquets, instead of a plate, a big banana leaf is used which is afterwards given to the cows or goats to eat.

There are often goats roaming around the streets - these are my favourite farm animals. They are like curious and naughty children and are affectionate and playful too.

Generally the children in India are smiley and obedient when in front of you, but they are as mischievous as any children when you are not looking because we all suffer from the effects of Original Sin. One thing particularly notable about the children in India is that they smile a lot, and they are happy with simple outdoor games like playing tick (tag), or a game called kabbadi, cricket, hockey or various violent games (murder ball was a favourite at the Priory).  At the Priory, when we had orphan boys and boarders, one of the special treats on a Saturday was to take the boys to a local dam used to collect water for irrigation. They loved to swim and to fish and to fight battles amongst themselves. One benefactor bought some bicycles for the children, and this was a great source of fun with bicycle races and inevitably learning how to repair bicycles.

Children are very respectful towards their superiors - especially in the family. This includes teachers and all old people. They are very respectful towards priests and often ask or expect a blessing every time they meet one.

The life of an Indian child is often physically harder than for a child in the West but they are lucky to have a more natural life. Unfortunately today the bad things from the West are now entering into the most humble village in India. Children have becoming addicted to mobile phones just like the West. We must pray for these children and they must pray for us because we are all members of the mystical body of Christ.

Here is video made by an Austrian priest when he visited the Priory of the Sacred Heart in Palayamkottai, Tamil Nadu.

 


Friday 3rd February - Feria 4cl.

(Comm. St. Blaise, Bishop & Martyr) 

What's it like to be a missionary priest in India?

It is a great supernatural adventure to be a missionary in India. The further east you travel from Europe, the more religious the people become. Here, in India, everyone is proud of their religion. Unfortunately, the main religion is Hunduism (they have 33million gods), then Islam (they worship Allah), then the Chistians who worship the One, True God: a Tri-une God of three Persons. Most Christians are Catholics.

The Catholics in India love the feasts of the Church year, they love the rosary, processions, and statues. Their favourite saint by far is St. Anthony of Padua. Tuesday is St. Anthony's Day. For a missionary priest it is very edifying to see their love of their religion. Every house has a small shrine with pictures (often illuminated by flashing fairy lights) and statutes. On feast days devotional music is played through very loud speakers in the parish.

The missionary priest has to travel a great deal. Most exciting are the trips to the villages where everyone is smiley and happy and usually late for Mass! Most faithful know all the Latin responses and hymns and can sing the common of the Mass (mostly the Mass of the Angels). Some weekends a priest has to take multiple flights to visit his distant Mass Centres. A Mass circuit can take up to 4 days.

Sometimes the missionary priest has to suffer the heat, or mosquitoes, or occasional illnesses, but it's good penance. In India, you really feal alive both naturally and supernaturally. You can do so much good for souls, and you do much good to your own soul if you try to follow in the footsteps of the great Apostle of Indies, St. Francis Xavier.

To follow:

  • What's it like to be a missionary nun in India?
  • What's it like to be a traditional Catholic child in India?
  • History of the Consoling Sisters in India: Flowers in the Desert.

 


Monday 30th January - St. Martina, Virgin and Martyr 3cl. 

History of Christianity in India

Periods 

  1. From the earliest times down to the advent of the Portuguese, and especially the traditions regarding St. Thomas and the community believed to have been founded by him (St. Thomas Christians).
  2. Portuguese missionary enterprise dating from the year 1498.
  3. The dispute regarding concessions to Hindu usage, commencing with Robert de Nobili in 1606 and ending with the final decisions of the Holy See in 1742 (see Malabar Rites; Madura Mission). 
  4. Propaganda missionary enterprise, commencing about the year 1637.
  5. The conflict of jurisdiction between the vicars Apostolic of propaganda and the Portuguese padroado, commencing in the eighteenth century, reaching its climax in 1838, and its final settlement in 1886 (see Goa, Archdiocese of; Padroado).
  6. The establishment of the hierarchy in 1886 and subsequent organisation down to the present time.

To follow:

  • What's it like to be a missionary priest in India?
  • What's it like to be a missionary nun in India?
  • What's it like to be a traditional Catholic child in India?
  • History of the Consoling Sisters in India: Flowers in the Desert.

 

 


Friday 27th January - St. John Chrysostom, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor 3cl. 

Next six conferences:

  • History of the SSPX & Consoling Sisters in India (until 2012)
  • History of Christianity in India
  • What's it like to be a missionary priest in India?
  • What's it like to be a missionary nun in India?
  • What's it like to be a traditional Catholic child in India?
  • History of the Consoling Sisters in India: Flowers in the Desert.

 

Monday 22nd January - St. Raymond Penafort 3cl. 

(Comm. St. Emerentiana, Virgin & Martyr)

St. Emerentiana, Virgin & Martyr

  • Saint Emerentiana was a Roman martyr, who lived around the start of the 4th century. Her feast day is 23rd January.

  • According to the legend of St. Agnes, Emerentiana was her foster-sister. St. Agnes was a rich Roman heiress who was martyred after refusing her engagement due to her Christian religion. Emerentiana's mother was the wet nurse and nanny of Saint Agnes.

  • A few days after Agnes' death, Emerentiana, who was a catechumen still learning about Christianity before being officially baptized, went to the tomb to pray and was suddenly attacked by the pagans, stoned to death by the crowd (cf. baptism of desire, baptism of blood).

  • She is represented as a young girl who either has stones in her lap and lilies in her hand, or as being stoned to death by a mob. Her tomb is in the church of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura in Rome. An altar dedicated to her with a marble relief by Ercole Ferrata depicting her martyrdom is in Sant'Agnese in Agone.

  • She is invoked against colic and stomach ache.

 


Friday 20th January - St. Fabian Pope & Sebastian Martyrs 3cl.

Saint Fabian Pope & Martyr (+250)

  • Pope (236-250) 
  • After the death of Pope Anterus, Fabian had come to Rome, with some others, from his farm and was in the city when the new election began.
  • While the names of several illustrious and noble persons were being considered, a dove suddenly descended upon the head of Fabian, of whom no one had even thought.
  • To the assembled brethren the sight recalled the Gospel scene of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Saviour of mankind, and so, divinely inspired, as it were, they chose Fabian with joyous unanimity and placed him in the Chair of Peter.
  • During his reign of fourteen years there was a lull in the storm of persecution.
  • Little is known of his pontificate. The "Liber Pontificalis" says that he divided Rome into seven districts, each supervised by a deacon, and appointed seven subdeacons, to collect, in conjunction with other notaries, the "acta" of the martyrs, i.e. the reports of the court-proceedings on the occasion of their trials.
  • There is a tradition that he instituted the four minor orders.
  • Under him considerable work was done in the catacombs. He caused the body of Pope St. Pontianus to be exhumed, in Sardinia, and transferred to the catacomb of St. Callistus at Rome.
  • Later accounts, more or less trustworthy, attribute to him the consecration (245) of seven bishops as missionaries to Gaul, among them St. Denys of Paris (Greg. of Tours, Hist. Francor., I, 28, 31). St. Cyprian mentions (Ep., 59) the condemnation by Fabian for heresy of a certain Privatus (Bishop of Lambaesa) in Africa.
  • Fabian died a martyr (20th Jan 250) at the beginning of the Decian persecution, and was buried in the Crypt of the Popes in the catacomb of St. Callistus, where in recent times (1850) De Rossi discovered his Greek epitaph (Roma Sotterranea II, 59): "Fabian, bishop and martyr." 

Saint Sebastian Martyr (+286)

  • Nothing is known about St. Sebastian's youth other than the fact he may have come from southern France and he was educated in Milan.
  • He joined the Roman Army in 283 AD, ostensibly to be of service to other Christians who were being persecuted by the Romans. St. Sebastian distinguished himself and for his excellent service, he was promoted to serve in the Praetorian Guard to protect Emperor Diocletian.
  • While serving as a Praetorian Guard, Marcus and Marcellian, twin brothers, were imprisoned for refusing to make public sacrifices to the Roman gods. The brothers were deacons of the Christian Church. During their imprisonment, their parents visited them to implore them to renounce Christianity. However, St. Sebastian convinced both parents to convert to Christianity. St. Sebastian also converted several other prominent individuals, including the local prefect.
  • This led to his discovery and he was reported as a Christian to Emperor Diocletian in 286. The Emperor, who was already infamous for ordering the deaths of hundreds of Christians, scolded Sebastian and ordered him to be killed by having him tied to a stake on a training field and used as target practice.
  • Archers riddled his body with arrows, his body was described as, "full of arrows as an urchin." Believed to be dead, the archers left his body for retrieval and burial.
  • He was recovered by Irene of Rome, whose Christian husband was a servant to Diocletian and also martyred. Irene discovered that Sebastian was still living and she hid him and nursed him back to health.
  • Once well, Sebastian went in search of Diocletian to surprise him. He managed to catch Diocletian by a stairwell and proceeded to criticize him loudly and publically for his persecution of the Christians. Diocletian, surprised that Sebastian was still alive, was immediately taken aback, but recovered his composure. This time, he would not permit Sebastian to escape with his life. He ordered his former guard to be beaten to death with clubs, then thrown into the sewers.
  • His body was recovered by a Christian woman, named Lucina, and she secretly buried him in the catacombs beneath Rome.
  • Nearly 80 years after his death, around 367, his remains were moved to a basilica in Rome, built by Pope Damasus I. His body, or at least some relics from his body were reportedly removed and shared with a community of monks in France. His cranium was sent to a German monastery where it was placed in a special silver case in 934. The relic remains in its case today in a special reliquary in Ebersberg.
  • St. Sebastian was commonly invoked as a protector against the plague. According to historical records, he defended the city of Rome against the plague in 680. 
  • In artwork, St. Sebastian is depicted with arrows shot into his body, often tied to a post or a tree. His second execution is virtually never depicted.
  • St. Sebastian is the patron saint of soldiers, athletes, and those who desire a saintly death.

 


Monday 16th January - St. Marcel, Pope & Martyr 3cl.

The Liturgy

  • The liturgy is the public worship of God by the Church.
  • The prayers of the liturgy are contained in the Missal, the Breviary, the Ritual and the Martyrology.
  • The prayers of the liturgy are arranged to teach the chief mysteries of the faith and commemorate the feasts of the Church in a yearly cycle.

The Liturgical Cycle

 

  • The cycle of feasts is a catechism that teaches us God's creation and redemption of mankind (Creation, Fall, Incarnation, Nativity, Passion & Death, Resurrection, Ascension, Sactification through the Church, Last Judgement)
  • Within the cycle, the saints are also commemorated.
  • The seasons of the Liturgical Cycle are
    - Advent (Creation, fall, promise of a Redeemer)
    - Christmastide (Birth of the Redeemer: Jesus)
    - Septuagesima (Preparation for Lent)
    - Lent (Passion & Death of the Redeemer)
    - Eastertide (Resurrection of the Redeemer)
    - Ascension (End of Jesus' mission of Redemption in His physical body)
    - Pentecost (Beginning of Jesus' mission of Redemption in His Mystical Body: the Church)
    - Time after Pentecost (Time for us become holy members of the Church)

St. Marcellus, Pope & Martyr (+309)

Marcellus of Rome was Pope from the reign of Constantius and Galerius to that of Maxentius (307-309).

  • At his suggestion the Roman lady Lucina willed her property to God's Church.
  • Because the number of the faithful in the city had increased, he set up new parishes and divided the City into various districts. This angered Maxentius and he threatened Marcellus with heavy punishments unless he would abandon his pontificate and sacrifice to idols.
  • The Pope resisted steadfastly, and so Maxentius had him sent to the stable to take care of the beasts fed at the public expense. Marcellus spent nine months there, and since he could not be present in his parishes in person, he visited them by his letters.
  • He was rescued from this place by some clerics and given hospitality by Lucina in whose house he dedicated a church where he preached to the faithful.
  • Then Maxentius ordered the beasts moved from the stable to the church, so that Marcellus again had to take care of them. The foul atmosphere of the place and his hardships soon proved fatal to Marcellus. He died in the Lord, and was buried in the cemetery of Priscilla on the Salarian Way by blessed Lucina, on January 16.

 


Friday 13th January - Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ 2cl.

Baptism of Jesus

  • SCRIPTUREGospel of St. John 1:19-36
  • WHY?: Jesus had no original sin and no actual sin, so why was Jesus baptised? Answer: To institute the sacrament baptism, and to give us an example to follow. St. Paul says that we must die with Christ so that we may live with him. Dunking under the water was the original method of baptism - this symbolised dying, rising up out of the water symbolises the resurrection.

Sacrament of Baptism

  • 256. What is Baptism? Baptism is a sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, makes us Christians, children of God, and members of the Church.
  • Summary of the catechism teaching on the sacraments: see table
  • Ways a person can be baptised: Immersion, Aspersion, Pouring water
  • Difference and similiarities between the baptism given by St. John the Baptist, and the sacramant of baptism
    - SAME: both baptism are with water, both baptisms forgive original and actual sin
    - DIFFERENT: only the sacrament of baptism gives grace (makes us adoptive children of God and brothers/sisters of Jesus), only the sacrament of baptism puts a character on the soul.

 

 

 


Friday 6th January - Feast of the Epiphany 1cl. (Holy Day of Obligation)

The Three Magi 

  • SCRIPTUREGospel of St. Luke Chapter 2
  • NAMES: Gaspar (or Caspar), Melchior, and Balthasar. Wise men, Zoastrian priests (astronomers - always looking at the stars), had heard of the Jewish prophecies of a Messiah. 
  • ORIGIN: Persia and perhaps India. From Persia, whence the Magi are supposed to have come, to Jerusalem was a journey of between 1000 and 1200 miles. Such a distance may have taken any time between three and twelve months by camel. Besides the time of travel, there were probably many weeks of preparation. 
  • THE STAR: A miraculous star 
  • GIFTS: Gold (because Jesus was a King), Frankincense (because Jesus was God), Myrrh (because Jesus was going to die and be annopinted).

The Triple Manifestation of Christ

  1. The Epiphany: the baby Jesus is revealed to the Gentiles.
  2. The Baptism of Christ by St. John the Baptist: Jesus is revealed by God the Father.
  3. The Wedding Feast of Cana: By His miracle, Jesus begins His public ministery - revealing Himself as the Christ.

 

 


Monday 19th December 2022 - Feria in Advent 2cl.

From The Prince of Peace by Archbishop Alban Goodier

XXX. THE EXPECTATION
Be comforted, be comforted My people, saith your God.
Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and call to her :
for her evil is come to an end, her iniquity is forgiven :
she hath received of the hand of the Lord double for her sins.

The voice of one crying in the desert :
Prepare ye the way of the Lord,
  make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God.
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain shall be laid low,
  and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
  and all flesh together shall see that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken. 
(Is 51:1-5)


For six months Mary was alone in Nazareth awaiting the birth of her Son.

1. It is not difficult to imagine some at least of her thoughts during that half-year. She realized more and more what a stupendous act had been accomplished,

 

  • that God, Who lived always in His own creation, had now come to live in it in a new and special way;
  • that this could not but mean for all man kind a new and special source of grace and union with its God;
  • that she had been chosen as the special means for this union, and for this communication of graces;
  • that this was but the beginning of God's new favours to men, what would be afterwards no one could fathom;
  • that all this was the outcome of love.

2. Then there was the intense longing, the very agony of waiting.

  • All nature had been groaning through the centuries for this manifestation, and had not known why.
  • All the pagan world had become sick to death waiting for this "unknown God"; Who would put an end to all their false worship.
  • The chosen people had, many of them, grown weary with the delay, and had fainted on the roadside; the faithful among them had made "How long, O Lord, how long?"; their constant prayer.
  • Then we can well understand, though we cannot comprehend, the longing of Our Lady as she counted the months, the weeks and the days before her Son would be given to the world. And that longing was intensified by the fact that she was to be His Mother a fact which, perhaps, only a mother can rightly understand.
    - If our Lord s presence in the womb had made the unborn Baptist leap for joy, what must have been the desire of Mary to take her own Child into her arms and press Him to her heart?

3. And along with all this was the constant wonder how it was all to come about.

  • He was to be born in Bethlehem ; yet so far there was no prospect of this.
  • It was to be God's doing; therefore they would not take it upon themselves to interpret the prophecies. 
  • Suddenly the moment came; and, as always, emperors and kings were made to fulfil the will of God;
    - the empire of Rome was made to "prepare the way of the Lord" to "make straight the path for our Lord" to send out its orders so that Mary might be brought to Bethlehem, and that her Son might be born in the circumstances that most became Him.

We watch them on the journey, Mary and Joseph; their hardships and their gaiety of heart, their sorrows and their joys, their submission and their triumph, their weakness and their glory; while the Child Whom they bear with them longs for the moment when He, too, may begin His task of winning man by love.

Summary
1. The many thoughts, and following on them the many acts of the heart of our Lady during her six months of waiting.
2. Above all her great longing, being as it was the crowning longing felt in all Creation.
3. The way God commands the world to serve Him ; and the sight of Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem.

Our Lady of Expectation

In India, on top of St. Thomas Mount in Chennai (where St. Thomas the Apostle was martyred), there is a Portuguese chapel built in 1523 and dedicated to Our Lady of Expectation. In this chapel the statue of Our Lady of Expectation represents the Blessed Virgin Mary as sitting down and staring into the distance.

On her lap is the open book of scriptures which is the Word of God inspired by the Holy Ghost. Within her womb is the Word of God made flesh by the overshadowing of the same Holy Ghost. She is clearly meditating upon the mystery being fulfilled in her (perhaps the prophecy of Isaiah: Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel. Is 7:14).

 

 


Friday 16th December 2022 - Ember Friday in Advent 2cl.

(Commemoration of St. Eusebius, Bishop & Martyr)

What is an Ember Day?

Ember days (corruption from Latin Quatuor Tempora, meaning four times) are the days at the beginning of the seasons ordered by the Church as days of fast and abstinence.

They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) for the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday:

  • after 13th December (St. Lucy),
  • after Ash Wednesday,
  • after Whitsunday, and
  • after 14th September (Exaltation of the Cross).

The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was

  • to thank God for the gifts of nature,
  • to teach men to make use of them in moderation,
  • and to assist the needy.

The immediate occasion was the practice of the heathens of Rome. The Romans were originally given to agriculture, and their native gods belonged to the same class. At the beginning of the time for seeding and harvesting religious ceremonies were performed to implore the help of their deities: in June for a bountiful harvest, in September for a rich vintage, and in December for the seeding; hence their feriae sementivae, feriae messis, and feri vindimiales.

The Church, when converting heathen nations, has always tried to sanctify any practices which could be utilized for a good purpose. At first the Church in Rome had fasts in June, September, and December; the exact days were not fixed but were announced by the priests. The "Liber Pontificalis" ascribes to Pope Callistus (217-222) a law ordering the fast, but probably it is older. Leo the Great (440-461) considers it an Apostolic institution. When the fourth season was added cannot be ascertained, but Gelasius (492-496) speaks of all four.

Lully, lullah

The carol is the second of three songs included in the Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors, a nativity play that was one of the Coventry Mystery Plays, originally performed by the city's guilds. The exact date of the text is unknown, though there are references to the Coventry guild pageants from 1392 onwards. 

Listen to the King's College Cambridge Choir

Lully, lullah, thou little tiny child,
Bye bye, lully, lullay.
Thou little tiny child,
Bye bye, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we sing,
"Bye bye, lully, lullay"?

Herod the king, in his raging,
Chargèd he hath this day
His men of might in his own sight
All young children to slay.

That woe is me, poor child, for thee
And ever mourn and may
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
"Bye bye, lully, lullay."

 


Monday 12th December 2022 - Advent Feria 3cl.

(In the USA: Our Lady of Guadalupe)

St. Wenceslaus, King & Martyr

Wenceslaus, Duke of Bohemia, was the son of a Christian father, Duke Wratislaus I., and an heathen mother named Drahomira. He had for his grandmother a most holy woman, named Ludmilla, who trained him up in godliness. He was a man eminent in all graces, and one who carefully held his virginity unsullied throughout the whole course of his life.

His mother, Drahomira, seized the supreme power by the foul murder of Ludmilla, and the nobles roused thereby to indignation, and wearied with her tyranny and wicked government, cast off the yoke of both of them, and hailed Wenceslaus in the city of Prague as their King.

He ruled his kingdom by his virtues rather than by force.

  • To the orphaned, the widowed, and the destitute he was very charitable, so that some whiles in the winter he carried firewood to the needy on his own shoulders.
  • He helped oftentimes to bury the poor, he set captives free, and went many times to the prisons at the dead of night to comfort with money and advice them that were detained therein.
  • To a Prince of so tender an heart it was a great grief to be behoven to condemn any to death, however guilty.
  • For Priests he had a most earnest respect, and with his own hands sowed the wheat and pressed the grapes for the bread and wine which they were to use for the Sacrifice.
  • He would walk round the Church by night with bare feet upon the snow and ice, leaving behind him bloody footprints that warmed the ground.

As his Bodyguard he had angels. For when Radislaus, Prince of Gurinna, invaded Bohemia, and Wenceslaus, to save the effusion of his people's blood, went out to meet him in single combat, (two) angels were seen serving him with arms, and heard to say to the adversary Strike not. Therefore, his enemy was stricken with terror, fell down in reverence before him, and begged his forgiveness.

When he went to Germany, the Emperor saw two angels carrying a golden Cross before him as he drew nigh him, and arose from his throne, embraced him in his arms, created him a King, and gifted him with the arm of the holy (Martyr) Vitus.

Nevertheless, his godless brother, at the exhortation of their mother, bade him to a feast, (given on account of the birth of his son,) and when Wenceslaus, with a foreboding of the death prepared for him, went afterwards into the Church, and was praying there, (Boleslaus followed him thither,) together with some accomplices of his crime, and (when they had wounded him,) despatched him (with his own hand, running him through the body with a lance. He suffered a little after midnight, upon the 28th day of September, in the year of our Lord 938.) The stains of his blood may still be seen upon the walls. By the judgment of God, his unnatural mother was swallowed up by the earth, and his murderers, in diverse ways, perished miserably.

 

Good King Wenceslas
 

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing 

 


Monday 5th December 2022 - Advent Feria 3cl.

(Comm. St. Sabbas, Abbot)

Holy Name Church, Gateshead

The Lateran Palace -  a gift of the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine, to the Church around 313. This became the model of all Catholic churches.

We can see the different elements of the model Catholic church in the Holy Name Church in Gateshead. Origianally it was a Protestant church belonging to the Church of Wales (like Ss. Joseph & Padarn in London), but it very similar to the layout of a Catholic church. It was opened in 1871.

 

 


Friday 2nd December 2022 - St. Bibiana, Virgin & Martyr 3cl.

St. Bibiana, Virgin & Martyr

Bibiana was a Roman maiden, distinguished on account of the nobility of her family, but now far more distinguished for her confession of Christ.

In the reign of the foul tyrant, Julian the Apostate (331-363), her father Flavian, although he was an ex-Praefect, was branded as a slave and banished to Acquapendente, not far from Rome, where he soon died a martyr for his faith.

His wife, Dafrosa, and his two daughters, Bibiana and Demetria, were first imprisoned in their own house, with the idea of starving them to death; but the mother was afterwards taken outside the city and beheaded.

Bibiana and her sister Demetria, after the death of their holy parents, were stripped of all they had in the world. Apronianus, Praetor of the city, who hankered after their property, continued to persecute them, but although they were destitute of all human support, God, Who giveth bread to the hungry, fed them, and kept them in health, life, and strength, to the wonder of their enemies.

Apronianus then attacked them, to make them worship the gods of the Gentiles, and promised them the restoration of their property, the favour of the Emperor, and a great marriage for each of them, if they would give way, and, on the other hand, imprisonment, stripes, and death. But neither promises nor threats availed, for they remained firm in the faith, being resolved rather to die than to pollute themselves by doing according to the deeds of the heathen; and, as for the iniquity of the Praetor, they loathed it continually.

At length the strength of Demetria gave way, and she fell down suddenly, and died in the Lord, before the eyes of her sister Bibiana. Then Bibiana was put into the hands of an artful woman named Rufina, to seduce her if possible; but she had known the law of Christ from her childhood, and kept the lily of her purity undefiled, triumphing over the efforts of that vile person, and disappointing the Praetor.

Then, when Rufina saw that her false words availed not, she took to blows, and scourged Bibiana daily, but the saint was not staggered in her holy resolution. At last the Praetor, when he found his labour was waisted, ordered his lictors to hang her up by the hands to a pillar, and flog her to death with whips weighted with lead.

When all was over, her sacred body was thrown out for the dogs to eat. It lay two days in the Forum Tauri, but the animals would not touch it; and, at last, a Priest, named John, took it, and buried it by night beside the graves of her mother and sister, near the Licinian Palace. This is the place where there is still a church, dedicated in the name of St. Bibiana. When this church was being restored by Urban VIII., the bodies of these three holy women, Bibiana, Demetria, and Dafrosa, were found, and were re-buried under the High Altar.

Advent wreath

The making of an advent wreath is an ancient tradition during Advent. It is full of symbolisim.

Circle

First, the wreath is always in the form of a circle.  Since a circle has no beginning and no end, it is a symbol for God, Who is eternal and without beginning or end. This symbol existed before in Pagan times. In the wreath the circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ.

Light

There is evidence of pre-Christian Germanic peoples using wreathes with lit candles during the cold and dark December days as a sign of hope in the future warm and extended-sunlight days of Spring.

In Scandinavia during Winter, lighted candles were placed around a wheel, and prayers were offered to the god of light to turn “the wheel of the earth” back toward the sun to lengthen the days and restore warmth.

By the Middle Ages, the Christians adapted this tradition and used Advent wreathes as part of their spiritual preparation for Christmas. After all, Christ is “the Light that came into the world” to dispel the darkness of sin and to radiate the truth and love of God (cf. John 3:19-21).

Plants & Flowers

The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life:
- the immortality of our soul,
the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ,
- the eternal Word of the Father, who entered our world becoming true man and who was victorious over sin and death through His own passion, death, and resurrection..

Even the type of evergreen has a traditional meaning which can be adapted to our faith:
- laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering;
- pine, holly and yew symbolise immortality;
- cedar symbolises strength and healing.
Holly also has a special Christian symbolism: the prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns, and one English legend tells of how the cross was made of holly (ummm not sure).
Any pine cones, nuts or seed pods used to decorate the wreath also symbolise life and resurrection

Candles

The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the Birth of the Saviour.

Three candles are purple and one is rose.
- The violet candles in particular symbolise the prayer, penance, preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time.
- The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas.

The progressive lighting of the candles symbolises the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead.

 


Monday 28th November 2022 - Feria of Advent 3cl.

Advent

Eastwards for Hope

If you go into a medieval Gothic Cathedral, one which has its stained glass windows in tact, you will notice that there is a progression in the scenes depicted there.

On the north side, to the left of the high altar the scenes are generally those of the Old Testament. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Melchisadech, the prophets. They are in chronological order.

The scenes on the South to the right of the high altar are generally of the New Testament and are in the chronological order too.

It is above the high altar facing eastwards that we find the dividing point between the old and the new which is the time of Christ advent among men.

The reason why churches alwys used to face east is symbolic and beautiful, for it is eastwards that WE MUST FACE TO SEE THE DAWN.

IT IS EASTWARDS that we face to greet the rising sun. There is nothing more sublime than to see a priest elevate the Sacred Host at the break of day, facing the rising sun pouring through a rose window, or any window, above the altar.

TO THE NORTH, there is coldness and shadow; to the south the light of day. It is to the north that the priest or deacon proclaims the gospel, the good news to those who have faith in a Saviour but do not yet know Him. It is to the south that he encourages those illumined by charity with the epistles. But it is to the east that we find our hope. Hope for daybreak.

Advent: A Time for Hope

IN THIS TIME OF ADVENT too, Holy Mother the Church reminds of the hope of the patriarchs and prophets for it is salutary. Just as they waited faithfully, in readiness, in hope for the Messiah, we too should do the same.

There are three advents of Our Blessed lord, my dear faithful, you know them I am sure:

  • the first is the advent of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity in the world. He became man so that man might become God, as St. Augustine says. He became man to enact the objective redemption. He became man so that we could love Him.
  • the second advent coming of Christ at the end of time, the time of the general judgement, the time of the Dies irae.
  • the third advent is the advent of the Christ in our souls through grace.

Let us, my dear faithful, look to the liturgy of Advent, to understand the Church’s yearning for Her bridegroom. The liturgical texts, the Introits, Collects, Post Communions and Antiphons of Laudes and Vespers are among the most beautiful of the liturgical year.

Brothers, says St. Paul, the hour has now come for us to awake from slumber for our salvation is closer than we have believed. Rm 13v11

Let us make this Advent an Advent in the spirit of the Church.

Please do not be sidetracked and seduced by the parties and present buying before the Mass of the Christ Child.

Make this Advent a vigil, watching for He who is most beautiful, most loveable, and He who loves us best.

Make this Christmas come like sunlight bursting through stained-glass windows, so that, flooded with Divine Light and warmth we may ever grow in the likeness of Him who we await to be united for ever and ever. Amen.

Things to do in Advent

  • Fill-in a treasure sheet with your prayers and penances.
  • Make an Advent wreath to light during the family rosary.
  • Make a Nativity crib.
  • Make an Advent calendar.
  • Make you own Christmas cards.

Alma Redemptoris Mater

Hymn to Our Lady attributed to Herman Contractus (+1054) which is sung after Compline from the beginning of Advent until 2nd February.

Loving Mother of the Redeemer, hear thou thy people's cry
Star of the deep and Portal of the sky!
Mother of Him who thee from nothing made.
Sinking we strive and call to thee for aid:
O, by what joy which Gabriel brought to thee,
Thou Virgin first and last, let us thy mercy see.

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.

Let us pray.
Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts: that we to whom the incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may be brought by His passion and Cross to the glory of His resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
V. May the divine assistance + remain always with us. R. Amen.

 


Friday 25th November 2022 - St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin & Martyr 3cl.

St. Catherine of Alexandria

 

Born circa 287, martyred circa 305 in Alexandria, Egypt.

This Catherine was a noble maiden of Alexandria, who from her earliest years joined the study of the liberal arts (the trivium: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric; and the quadrivium: astronomy, geometry, mathematics), with fervent faith, and in a short while came to such an height of holiness and learning, that when she was eighteen years of age she prevailed over the chiefest wits.

When she saw many diversely tormented and haled to death by command of Maximin, because they professed the Christian religion, she went boldly unto him and rebuked him for his savage cruelty, bringing forward likewise most sage reasons why the faith of Christ should be needful for salvation.

Maximian marvelled at her wisdom, and bade keep her, while he gathered together the most learned men from all quarters and offered them great rewards if they would confute Catherine and bring her from believing in Christ to worship idols. But the event fell contrariwise, for many of the philosophers who had come to dispute with her were overcome by the force and skill of her reasoning, so that the love of Christ Jesus was kindled in them, and they were content even to die for His sake.

Then did Maximin strive to beguile Catherine with fair words and promises, and when he found it was lost pains, he caused her to be hided, and bruised with lead-laden whips, and so cast into prison, and neither meat nor drink given to her for the space of eleven days.

At that time Maximin's wife and Porphyry the Captain of his host, went to the prison to see the damsel, and at her preaching believed in Jesus Christ, and were afterwards crowned with martyrdom.

Then was Catherine brought out of ward, and a wheel was set, wherein were fastened many and sharp blades, so that her virgin body might thereby be most direfully cut and torn in pieces, but in a little while, as Catherine prayed, this machine was broken in pieces, at the which marvel many believed in Christ.

But Maximin was hardened in his godlessness and cruelty, and commanded to behead Catherine. She bravely offered her neck to the stroke and passed away hence to receive the twain crowns of maidenhood and martyrdom, upon the 25th day of November.

Her body was marvelously laid by angels upon Mount Sinai in Arabia.

 


Monday 21st November 2022 - Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple 3cl.

Blessed Miguel Pro

Childhood

Born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez was the eldest son of Miguel Pro and Josefa Juarez.

Miguelito, as his doting family called him, was, from an early age, intensely spiritual and equally intense in hi mischievousness, frequently exasperating his family with his humor and practical jokes. As a child, he had a daring precociouness that sometimes went too far, tossing him into near-death accidents and illnesses. On regaining consciousness after one of these episodes, young Miguel opened his eyes and blurted out to his frantic parents, "I want some cocol" (a colloquial term for his favorite sweet bread). "Cocol" became his nickname, which he would later adopt as a code name during this clandestine ministry.

Vocation

Miguel was particularly close to his older sister and after she entered a cloistered convent, he came to recognize his own vocation to the priesthood. Although he was popular with the senoritas and had prospects of a lucrative career managing his father's thriving business concerns, Miguel renounced everything for Christ his King and entered the Jesuit novitiate in El Llano, Michoacan in 1911.

He studied in Mexico until 1914, when a tidal wave of anti-Catholicism crashed down upon Mexico, forcing the novitiate to disband and flee to the United States, where Miguel and his brother seminarians treked through Texas and New Mexico before arriving at the Jesuit house in Los Gatos, California.

In 1915, Miguel was sent to a seminary in Spain, where he remained until 1924, when he went to Belgium for his ordination to the priesthood in 1925. Miguel suffered from a severe stomach problem and after three operations, when his health did not improve, his superiors, in 1926, allowed him to return to Mexico in spite of the grave religious persecution in that country.

Heroic Ministry

The churches were closed and priests went into hiding. Miguel spent the rest of his life in a secret ministry to the sturdy Mexican Catholics. In addition to fulfilling their spiritual needs, he also carried out the works of mercy by assisting the poor in Mexico City with their temporal needs.

He adopted many interesting disguises in carrying out his secret mininstry.

  • He would come in the middle of the night dressed as a beggar to baptize infants, bless marriages and celebrate Mass.
  • He would appear in jail dressed as a police officer to bring Holy Viaticum to condemned Catholics.
  • When going to fashionable neighboorhoods to procure for the poor, he would show up at the doorstep dressed as a fashionable businessmam with a fresh flower on his lapel.

His many exploits could rival those of the most daring spies. In all that he did, however, Fr. Pro remained obedient to his superiors and was filled with the joy of serving Christ, his King.

Falsely accused in the bombing attempt on a former Mexican president, Miguel became a wanted man. Betrayed to the police, he was sentenced to death without the benefit of any legal process.

On the day of his execution, Fr. Pro forgave his executtioners, prayed, bravely refused the blindfold and died proclaiming, "Viva Cristo Rey", "Long live Christ the King!"


Friday 18th November 2022 - Dedication of the Basilicas of Ss. Peter & Paul 3cl.

St. Gertrude the Great

Born 6th January 1256, died 1302.

Childhood

Gertrude entered the Benedictine school at Helfta, run by Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn when she was 5 years old. St. Mechtilde of Hackborn (sister of the Abbess) became her teacher and confidante. Gertrude was a loveable, quick-witted child. At school, she proved to have such clarity of perception and depth of understanding that she often surpassed her classmates in her studies.

Vocation

Gertrude entered the Benedictine community upon completion of her studies at age 15 or 16. After making her monastic profession, she studied literature and directed much of her energy to writing.

She was strong in character and personality and was a gifted teacher in the school. 

Spiritual Conversion

St. Gertrude writes in the story of her life that she was not a very pious young nun at first because she was so engrossed in her studies and, by the time she was 24, she was beginning to find the routines of the monastery boring. During Advent in 1280, she endured a severe trial of emotional storm and spiritual distress which left her depressed and withdrawn.

Shortly after her 25th birthday, on 27th January 1281, Sr. Gertrude experienced a sudden and unexpected vision of the risen Christ, which she calls her “conversion.”

In her deepest heart she heard Christ say to her, “Do not fear. I will save you and set you free.”

This was the first in a series of visions which led her into mystical prayer and ultimately transformed her life. She decided to give up her literary studies and devote herself to prayer and the study of scripture. 

Writings

Many of the writings of St. Gertrude have unfortunately perished. Those now extant are:

  • The "Legatus Divinae Pietatis”, "The Herald of God's Loving Kindness".
  • The "Exercises of St. Gertrude" 
  • The "Liber Specialis Gratiae", "The Book of Special Graces" of St. Gertrude.

"Legatus Divinae Pietatis”, "The Herald of God's Loving Kindness"

In 1289, St. Gertrude heard Christ ask her to write an account of the many graces she had received. St. Gertrude wrote a short spiritual autobiography The Herald of God's Loving Kindness.

In the book, Sr. Gertrude describes her awakening to the depths of her own heart. This awakening made Christ so real for her that she was able to overcome all resistance within herself and gradually move toward unconditional surrender to God’s love.

The "Exercises of St. Gertrude"

The "Exercises", which are seven in number, embrace the work of the reception of baptismal grace to the preparation for death. Her glowing language deeply impregnated with the liturgy and scriptures exalts the soul imperceptibly to the heights of contemplation.

Spirituality

Saint Gertrude the Great, as she is now known, is one of the great spiritual writers in the long and rich history of the Church.

The characteristic of St. Gertrude's piety is her devotion to the Sacred Heart, the symbol of that immense charity which urged the Word to take flesh, to institute the Holy Eucharist, to take on Himself our sins, and, dying on the Cross, to offer Himself as a victim and a sacrifice to the Eternal Father (Congregation of Rites, 3 April, 1825).

More than three centuries before the visions of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in France, St. Gertrude had visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

In one vision, Saint John the Evangelist placed Gertrude close to Christ’s wounded side, where she could feel His beating heart. St. Gertrude asks St. John why he did not reveal the mystery of Christ’s loving heart to mankind. St. John responds that his duty was to reveal the very person of Christ, but it was for later ages, colder and more arid in their love of God, to discover His Sacred Heart. 

St. Gertrude lived a “nuptial mysticism”in which she was Christ’s bride and the Mass was the wedding banquet at which a chaste self-giving consummated the sacred bond of lover and beloved.

St. Gertrude’s spiritual diaries show a profound concern for the holy souls in purgatory. Gertrude continually begged Christ’s mercy on them, and Christ responded that merely petitioning for the release of such souls was sufficient for Him to grant the favour.

In St. Gertrude’s visions, Jesus speaks to her almost exclusively at Mass and during the Liturgy of the Hours - Christ appearing in priestly vestments, holding a chalice, or standing at an altar.

St. Gertrude’s alluring private revelations became common spiritual reading among the saints of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and continue to fire the imagination of all who read them today.

Death

St. Gertrude was elected Abbess of the community. St. Gertrude died aged 46.

Sainthood

St. Gertrude was never formally canonised, but a liturgical office of prayer, readings, and hymns in her honor was approved by Rome in 1606. The Feast of St. Gertrude was extended to the universal Church by Clement XII in 1738 and today is celebrated on November 16, the date of her death in 1301 or 1302.  Pope Benedict XIV gave her the title “the Great” to distinguish her from Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn and to recognise the depth of her spiritual and theological insight.


Monday 14th November 2022 - St. Josaphat, Bishop & Martyr 3cl.

St. Albert the Great 1206-1280 Bishop, Confessor & Doctor

Albert, eldest son of the Count of Bollstädt, was born at Lauingen, Swabia, in the year 1205 or 1206

As a youth he was sent to pursue his studies at the University of Padua; that city being chosen either because his uncle resided there, or because Padua was famous for its culture of the liberal arts, for which the young Swabian had a special predilection. 

In the year 1223 he joined the Order of St. Dominic, being attracted by the preaching of Blessed Jordan of Saxony second Master General of the Order. 

After completing his studies he taught theology at Hildesheim, Freiburg (Breisgau), Ratisbon, Strasburg, and Cologne, and then Paris 1245.

One of his puplis was St. Thomas Aquinas whose genius he recognised and whose future greatness he foretold. 

He then went back to Cologne with St. Thomas in 1248, was soon after named Provincial of Germany 1254, but resigned this in 1257.

In 1260 he was names Bishop of Ratisbonne, but resigned his diocese two years later so that he could return to Cologne as a professor.

The announcement of the death of St. Thomas at Fossa Nuova, in 1274 as he was proceeding to the Council of Lyons, was a heavy blow to Albert, and he declared that "The Light of the Church" had been extinguished. It was but natural that he should have grown to love his distinguished, saintly pupil, and it is said that ever afterwards he could not restrain his tears whenever the name of St. Thomas was mentioned.

Something of his old vigour and spirit returned in 1277 when it was announced that Stephen Tempier and others wished to condemn the writings of St. Thomas, on the plea that they were too favourable to the unbelieving philosophers, and he journeyed to Paris to defend the memory of his disciple.

Some time after 1278 (in which year he drew up his testament) he suffered a lapse of memory; his strong mind gradually became clouded; his body, weakened by vigils, austerities, and manifold labours, sank under the weight of years. He was beatified by Pope Gregory XV in 1622;

He was canonised by Pope Pius XI in 1931.

St. Albert's as a scientist

Albert was assiduous in cultivating the natural sciences; he was an authority on physics, geography, astronomy, mineralogy, chemistry (alchimia), zoölogy, physiology, and even phrenology.

In the study of geography, Albert gives an elaborate demonstration of the sphericity of the earth; and it has been pointed out that his views on this subject led eventually to the discovery of America

Roger Bacon and Albert proved to the world that the Church is not opposed to the study of nature, that faith and science may go hand in hand; their lives and their writings emphasize the importance of experiment and investigation.

More important than Albert's development of the physical sciences was his influence on the study of philosophy and theology. He, more than any one of the great scholastics preceding St. Thomas, gave to Christian philosophy and theology the form and method which, substantially, they retain to this day. In this respect he was the forerunner and master of St. Thomas, who excelled him


Friday 11th November 2022 - St. Martin of Tours, Bishop & Confessor 3cl.

  • Armistice Day

    Armistice Day is commemorated every year on 11th November to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, at 5:45 am for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918.  Between 16million and 40million died in the First World War.
     
  • Letters from Fr. Doyle

    Fr. Willie Doyle was an army chaplain with the Irish Fusiliers on the Western Front in Belgian and France from 1916 to 1917.

    He heard confessions, offered Mass, and gave Extreme Unction to many thousands of young soldiers as they lay dying on the battlefield, he buried the dead and encouraged all the soldiers in his regiment. The officers and men loved him. He was so daring - running on to battle field when the air was thick with bullets and shells - thar the men thought that he was protected by God. Indeed they were right. Here is one account of many he sent home in letters to his father:

    "By the time I got down to the dressing station the guns had ceased fire, the gas blown away, and the sun was shining in a cloudless sky. Already a stream of wounded was coming in and I soon had my hands full, when an urgent message reached me from the front trench. A poor fellow had been desperately wounded; a bullet had cut him like a knife across the stomach, with results you can best imagine. He was told he had only a few minutes to live, and asked if they could do anything for him. 'I have only one wish before I die,' he answered, ' could you possibly get me Fr. Doyle ? I'll go happy then.' It was hard work to reach him, as parts of the communication trench were knee deep in water and thick mud. Then I was misdirected and sent in the wrong direction, but I kept on praying I might be in time, and at last found the dying man still breathing and conscious. The look of joy, which lit up his face when I knelt beside him, was reward enough for the effort I had made. I gave him Absolution and anointed him before he died, but occupied as I was I did not notice that a third gas attack had begun.

    Fr. Doyle inhaled some of the chlorine gas but only enough to lay him low for a day or so. Here is another account at Ypres:

    “A few nights ago, I had been along the front line as usual to give the men a General Absolution which they are almost as anxious to receive for the comfort it will be for their friends at home, should they fall, as for themselves. I was coming down to the advanced dressing station, when I learned that a small party had ' gone over the top ' on our right, though I had been told the raid was only from the left. When I got to the spot I found they had all gone and were lying well out in No Man's Land."

    He then crawled out to the men through the barb wire, splinters of shells and nettles.

    "That was a strange scene!” he recalls. “A group of men lying on their faces, waiting for certain death to come to some of them, whispering a fervent act of contrition, and God's priest, feeling mighty uncomfortable and wishing he were safely in bed a thousand miles away, raising his hand in Absolution over the prostrate figures. One boy, some little distance off, thinking the Absolution had not reached him, knelt bolt upright, and made an act of contrition you could have heard in Berlin, nearly giving the whole show away and drawing the enemy's fire."

    He also encouraged the faithful back home to pray for the dead.

    The following letter, which appeared in the Irish Catholic for 26th May, 1917, was written by Fr. Doyle and is a fitting conclusion to this sermon on Remembrance Sunday where, having heard of the good wrought in the souls of Fr. Doyle and his men, we too may bring good our of such an evil which is war:

    "Dear Sir—One is often struck, on glancing over the papers, at the numerous appeals made to provide 'comforts for our troops,' but no one ever seems to think that the souls of those who have fallen in battle may possibly be in need of much greater comfort than the bodies of their comrades who survive.

    "With all the spiritual help now at their disposal, even in the very firing line, we may be fairly confident that few, if any, of our Catholic men are unprepared to meet Almighty God. That does not mean they are fit for Heaven. God's justice must be fully satisfied, and the debt of forgiven sin fully atoned for in Purgatory. Hence I venture to appeal to the great charity of your readers to provide 'comforts for our dead soldiers' by having Masses offered for their souls. Remembrance of our dead and gratitude are virtues dear to every Irish heart. Our brave lads have suffered and fought and died for us. They have nobly given their lives for God and country. It is now our turn to make some slight sacrifice, so that they may soon enter into the joy of eternal rest.”

    Fr. Willie Doyle was killed on 16th August 1917. He was an account of his death.

    The Daily Telegraph reported:

    "All through the worst hours an Irish padre went about among the dead arid dying giving Absolution to his boys. Once he came back to head quarters, but he would not take a bite of food or stay, though his friends urged him. He went back to the field to minister to those who were glad to see him bending over them in their last agony. Four men were killed by shell fire as he knelt beside them, and he was not touched—not touched until his own turn came. A shell burst close by, and the padre fell dead." (Philip Gibbs in the Daily Chronicle and the Daily Telegraph ; also in his book From Bapaume to Passchendaele, 1917, p. 254.)


Monday 7th November 2022 - Feria 4cl.

  • Purgatory

    CAN ALL THIS BE TRUE?

    The existence of Purgatory is so certain that no Catholic has ever entertained a doubt of it. It was taught from the earliest days of the Church and was accepted with undoubting faith wherever the Gospel was preached.

    The doctrine is revealed in Holy Scripture and has been handed down by Tradition, taught by the infallible Church and believed by the millions and millions of faithful of all times.

    Yet, the ideas of many are vague and superficial on this most important subject. They are like a person who closes his eyes and walks deliberately over the edge of a yawning precipice.

    They would do well to remember that the best means of lessening our term in Purgatory - or of avoiding it altogether - is to have clear ideas of it, to think well on it and to adopt the means God offers for avoiding it.

    Not to think of it is fatal. It is nothing else than preparing for themselves a fearfully long and rigorous Purgatory.

    THE POLISH PRINCE

    A Polish prince who, for some political reason, had been exiled from his native country bought a beautiful castle and property in France.

    Unfortunately, he had lost the Faith of his childhood and was at the time of our story engaged in writing a book against God and the existence of a future life.

    Strolling one evening in his garden, he came upon a poor woman weeping bitterly. He questioned her as to the cause of her grief.

    “Ah' Prince,” she replied, "I am the wife of Jean Mane, your former steward, who died two days ago. He was a good husband to me and a faithful servant to Your Highness. His sickness was long and I spent all our savings on the doctors, and now I have nothing ieft to get Masses said for his soul.”

    The Prince, touched by her grief, said a few kind words and, though professing no longer to believe in a future life, gave her some gold coins to have Masses said for her husband’s soul.

    Some time after, it was again evening, and the Prince was in his study working feverishly at his hook.

    He heard a loud rap at the door and without looking up called out to the visitor to come in. The door slowly opened and a man entered and stood facing the Prince’s writing table.

    On glancing up, what was not the Prince’s amazement to see Jean Marie, his dead steward, looking at him with a sweet smile.

    “Prince,” he said, “I come to thank you for the Masses you enabled my wife to have said for my soul. Thanks to the saving Blood of Christ, which was offered for me, I am now going to Heaven, but God has allowed me to come and thank you for your generous alms.”

    He then added impressively: “Prince, there is a God, a future life, a Heaven and a Hell.”

    Having said these words he disappeared.

    The Prince fell upon his knees and poured forth a fervent Credo (“I believe in God...”).

    ST. ANTONINUS AND HIS FRIEND

    Here is a narrative of a different kind, but not less instructive.

    St. Antoninus, the illustrious Archbishop of Florence, relates that a pious gentleman had died, who was a friend of the great Dominican Convent in which the Saint resided. Many Masses and suffrages were offered for his soul.

    The Saint was very much afflicted when, after the lapse of a long time, the soul of the poor gentleman appeared to him, suffering excruciating pains.

    "Oh, my Dear Friend,” exclaimed the Archbishop, are you still in Purgatory, you who led such a pious and devout life?”

    "Yes, and I shall remain there still for a long time,” replied the poor sufferer, “for when on Earth I neglected to offer suffrages for the souls in Purgatory. Now, God by a just judgment has applied the suffrages which have been offered for me to those souls for whom I should have prayed.”

    “But God, too, in His Justice, will give me all the merits of my good works when I enter Heaven; but first of all, I have to expiate my grave neglect in regard to others.”

    So true are the words of Our Lord: “By that measure with which you measure, it will be measured to you again.”

    Remember, you who read these lines, that the terrible fate of this pious gentleman will be the fate of all those who neglect to pray for and refuse to help the Holy Souls.

  • Month of Holy Souls
    What happens when we die?
    When we die we meet Jesus. He looks into our souls to see if there is any supernatural charity (love of Him). If he sees supernatural charity, then if we are sinless and pure, we will enter heaven immediately. Otherwise we will have to go to Purgatory.

    What is Purgatory? (Q106) 
    Purgatory is a place where souls suffer for a time after death on account of their sins.

    What souls go to purgatory? (Q107)
    Those souls go to purgatory that depart this life in venial sin, or that have not fully paid the debt of temporal punishment due to those sins of which the guilt has been forgiven.

    What is temporal punishment? (Q108)
    Temporal punishment is punishment that will have an end either in this world or in the world to come.

    Two classes of souls, then, go to purgatory:
    (1) Those who go before God stained with venial sin. Such souls will not go to hell; only those who die in mortal sin go to hell. But neither will they go straight to heaven. They are saved; but they are defiled by unforgiven venial sin, and nothing defiled shall enter heaven (Apoc. 21:27) into the presence of the All-holy God. He will, therefore, give them an opportunity to expiate that sin somewhere in the next world and of thus reaching heaven sometime. That somewhere is purgatory, which means a place of cleansing.
    (2) Those that have not fully paid the debt of temporal punishment owing for forgiven sin. We must distinguish two things in sin, viz. its guilt and its punishment (eg. smashing a window).

  • Saints of the week


Friday 4th November 2022 - St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop & Confessor 3cl.

  • Month of Holy Souls
    What happens when we die?
    When we die we meet Jesus. He looks into our souls to see if there is any supernatural charity (love of Him). If he sees supernatural charity, then if we are sinless and pure, we will enter heaven immediately. Otherwise we will have to go to Purgatory.

    What is Purgatory? (Q106) 
    Purgatory is a place where souls suffer for a time after death on account of their sins.

    What souls go to purgatory? (Q107)
    Those souls go to purgatory that depart this life in venial sin, or that have not fully paid the debt of temporal punishment due to those sins of which the guilt has been forgiven.

    What is temporal punishment? (Q108)
    Temporal punishment is punishment that will have an end either in this world or in the world to come.

    Two classes of souls, then, go to purgatory:
    (1) Those who go before God stained with venial sin. Such souls will not go to hell; only those who die in mortal sin go to hell. But neither will they go straight to heaven. They are saved; but they are defiled by unforgiven venial sin, and nothing defiled shall enter heaven (Apoc. 21:27) into the presence of the All-holy God. He will, therefore, give them an opportunity to expiate that sin somewhere in the next world and of thus reaching heaven sometime. That somewhere is purgatory, which means a place of cleansing.
    (2) Those that have not fully paid the debt of temporal punishment owing for forgiven sin. We must distinguish two things in sin, viz. its guilt and its punishment (eg. smashing a window).

  • Saints of the week

  • St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584)

    Charles was born at Milan of the noble Borromeo family in 1538. Before he was twenty-three, his uncle, Pius IV, made him a member of the sacred college of cardinals.

    Soon the same pope made him archbishop of Milan. In office he applied himself particularly to the task of conforming the church entrusted to him to the decrees of the holy council of Trent. It was largely through his efforts that the council's work had just been completed.

    When the plague was raging at Milan, he gave even the furnishings of his house to provide for the needy, and he constantly visited the dying, consoling them in a wonderful way and giving them the sacraments of the Church with his own hands.

    He was a most zealous fighter for the freedom of the Church, and he wrote much that is useful particularly for the instruction of bishops; a catechism for parish priests also produced by his efforts, He died at Milan on November 3 in the forty-seventh year of his age. Famous for miracles, he was enrolled among the Saints by Paul V.


Monday 31st October 2022 - Feria 4cl.

  • Saints of the week

  • All Saints: From the Sermons of the Venerable Bede, Priest at Jarrow.

    Dearly beloved brethren: This day we keep, with one great cry of joy, a Feast in memory of all God's holy children; His children,
    - whose presence is a gladness to heaven; His children,
    - whose prayers are a blessing to earth; His children,
    - whose victories are the crown of the Holy Church;
    His chosen,
    - whose testifying is the more glorious in honour, as the agony in which it was given was the sterner in intensity, for as the dreader grew the battle,
       - so the grander grew the fighters,
       - and the triumph of martyrdom waxed the more incisive by the multiplicity of suffering,
       - and the heavier the torment the heavier the prize.

    And it is our Mother, the Catholic Church, spread far and wide throughout all this planet, it is she that hath learnt, in Christ Jesus her Head, not to fear shame, nor cross, nor death, but hath waxed lealer and lealer, and, not by fighting, but by enduring, hath breathed into all that noble band who have come up to the bitter starting-post the hope of conquest and glory which hath warmed them manfully to accept the race.

    If a verity thou art blessed, O my Mother the Church! The blaze of God's mercy beateth full upon thee;
    - thine adornment is the glorious blood of victorious Martyrs, and
    - thy raiment the virgin whiteness of untarnished orthodoxy.
    - thy garlands lack neither roses nor lilies.

    And now, dearly beloved brethren, let each one of us strive to gain the goodly crown of one sort or the other, either the glistening whiteness of purity, or the red dye of suffering. In the army in heaven peace and war have both chaplets of their own, to crown Christ's soldiers withal.
     


Friday 21st October 2022 - Feria 4cl. Commemoration of St. Hilarion, Abbot; Commemoration of St. Ursula & Companions, Martyrs.

  1. How many sacraments are there? (Q255)
    There are seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Order, and Matrimony.

     - 5 for the good of the individual soul: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction
     - 2 for the good of the community: Matrimony, Holy Order
     - 3 give characters: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Order
     - 2 are sacraments of the dead (supernaturally dead = in original sin or mortal sin): Baptism, Penance
     - 5 are sacraments of the living : Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Matrimony, Holy Order
     - 6 are to prepare a soul for the greatest sacrament which is the Holy Eucharist
        - Matrimony procreates souls to receive the Holy Eucharist
        - Baptism open the door to receive the Holy Eucharist
        - Confirmation strengthens the faith of the soul to believe and defend the Holy Eucharist
        - Penance heals a soul so that it is made worthy for the Holy Eucharist
        - Extreme Unction prepares a sould for the final Holy Eucharist
        - Holy Order makes ministers to confect the Holy Eucharist

  • Saints of the week

  • Feast of the Day: St. Ursula & Companions, Martyrs

    According to a legend that appeared in the tenth century, Ursula was the daughter of a Christian king in Britain and was granted a three year postponement of a marriage she did not wish, to a pagan prince.

    With ten ladies in waiting, each attended by a thousand maidens, she embarked on a voyage across the North sea, sailed up the Rhine to Basle, Switzerland, and then went to Rome. On their way back, they were all massacred by pagan Huns at Cologne in about 451 when Ursula refused to marry their chieftain.

    The legends are difficult to prove, but what is true is that one Clematius, a senator, rebuilt a basilica in Cologne that had originally been built, probably at the beginning of the fourth century, to honor a group of virgins who had been martyred at Cologne. They were evidently venerated enough to have had a church built in their honor, but who they were and how many of them there were, are unknown. From these meager facts, the legend of Ursula grew and developed. Feast day October 21.


Monday 17th October 2022 - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin 3cl.

  1. What is a sacrament? (Q249)
    A sacrament is an outward sign of inward grace ordained by Jesus Christ, by which grace is given to our souls.

    (a) Outward sign. In every sacrament some act is done, and certain words are said while the act is being done; and the act and the words together signify a corresponding effect produced in the soul of the person receiving the sacrament.
    - In baptism, for example, the outward act is the pouring of water on the child's head, and the words “I baptise thee, etc.”
    - In confirmation the outward act is the anointing of the forehead with sacred oil, and the words “I sign thee with the sign of the cross, etc.” (see 265).

    (b) Of inward grace. This is the effect produced in the soul by the outward act and the words said. Each sacrament gives its own particular grace, and this grace is indicated by the outward act.
    - Thus baptism makes us Christians and cleanses the soul from original sin; hence the act done in baptising is an act of washing.

    (c) Ordained by Jesus Christ. This means that a sacrament must have been instituted by Christ and by no one else. Grace belongs to God to give, and so only He could give power to signs and words to give grace to our souls. 

    (d) By which grace is given to our souls. The sacraments do not merely signify that a special grace is being given by God to our souls, but it is by means of them that God gives the grace.

  2. How many sacraments are there? (Q255)
    There are seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Order, and Matrimony.

  • Saints of the week

  • Feast of the Day: St. Margaret Mary Allocoque, Virgin 3cl. (+1690)

    Margaret Mary Alacoque was born of good parents in a village of the diocese of Autun, and even from her early years gave signs of her future sanctity.

    Burning with love for the Virgin Mother of God and for the august Sacrament of the Eucharist, as young woman she vowed her virginity to God.

    When she had entered the Order of the Visitation, she began to shine at once with the brightness of the religious life. She was adorned by God with the highest gifts of prayer, with other gifts of grace and with frequent visions.

    The most celebrated was this: when she was praying before the Eucharist,
     - Jesus shewed himself to her with his Heart burning with flames and encircled with thorns, in his open breast,
     - and he commanded that, in return for such love and to expiate the injuries of ungrateful men, she was to strive to institute the public cult of this Heart,
     - promising in return great treasures of heavenly grace.

    She was famous for her religious perfection and, by the contemplation of divine things, each day she became more united with her heavenly Bridegroom. To him she went in the forty-third year of her age, in 1690. Renowned for miracles, she was numbered among the Saints by Benedict XV. Pope Pius XI extended her Office to the universal Church.

  • Twelve Promises
    In the apparitions to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Jesus gives these twelve promises for those who are devoted to His Sacred Heart.
  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their families.
  3. I will console them in all their troubles.
  4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
  5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
  9. I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
  10. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
  11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.
  12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

Friday 14th October 2022 - St. Callistus, Pope & Martyr 3cl.

  1. Why has Christ given Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist? (Q269)
    Christ has given Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist to be the life and the food of our souls.
    “He that eateth Me, the same also shall live by Me.” “He that eateth this bread shall live for ever” (John 6:58,59).

  2. Is Christ received whole and entire under either kind alone? (Q270)
    Christ is received whole and entire under either kind alone.

  3. In order to receive the Blessed Sacrament worthily what is required? (Q271)
    In order to receive the Blessed Sacrament worthily it is required that we be in a state of grace and keep the prescribed fast; water does not break this fast.

  4. What is it to be in a state of grace? (Q272)
    To be in a state of grace is to be free from mortal sin and pleasing to God.

  • Saints of the week

  • Feast of the Day: St. Callistus I, Pope & Martyr (+233)

    Callistus, a Roman by birth, ruled the Church in the time of the emperor Antoninus Heliogabalus.
    - He instituted the Ember days, on which four times in the year, fasting, according to the apostolic tradition, should be observed by all.
    - He built the basilica of Saint Mary across the Tiber; and enlarged the cemetery on the Appian Way, in which many holy Pontiffs and martyrs were buried; hence this cemetery is called by his name.
    - The body of the blessed Calepodius, priest and martyr, having been thrown into the Tiber, Pope Callistus in his piety caused it to be diligently sought for, and when found to be honorably buried.
    - He baptised Ss. Palmatius, Simplicius, Felix and Blanda, the first of whom was of consular and the others of senatorial rank; and who all afterwards suffered martyrdom. For this he was cast into prison, where he miraculously cured a soldier named Privatus, who was covered with ulcers; whom he also won over to Christ. Though so recently converted, St. Privatus died for the Faith, being beaten to death with scourges tipped with lead.

    St. Callistus was Pope five years, one month, and twelve days.
    - He held five ordinations in the month of December, wherein he made 16 priests, 4 deacons, and 8 bishops.
    - He was tortured for a long while by starvation and finally, by being thrown headlong into a well, was crowned with martyrdom under the emperor Alexander. His body was carried to the cemetery of Calepodius, on the Aurelian Way, three miles from Rome, on the day before the Ides of October. It was afterwards translated into the basilica of St. Mary across the Tiber, which he himself had built, and placed under the high altar, where it is honoured with great veneration.


Monday 10th October 2022 - St. Francis Borgia SJ, Confessor 3cl.

  1. What is the best of all prayers? (Q. 144)
    The best of all prayers is the Our Father.
    - given to us by Jesus Christ
    - when we pray the Our Father, Jesus prays the prayer with us

  2. What is the most perfect prayer?
    The most perfect prayer is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
    - also given to us by Jesus Christ

  3. What is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? (Q. 277)
    The Holy Mass is the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, really present on the altar under the appearances of bread and wine, and offered to God for the living and the dead.
    The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is sacrifice where God offers God to God.
    - the gift is Jesus, the priest is Jesus, and He offers Himself to the Father. Also, the altar is the body of Jesus.
    - it is the same Sacrifice as Calvary, but it his hidden under the appearances of bread and wine
    - the first Mass was at the Last Supper

  • Saints of the week

  • Feast of the Day: St. Francis Borgia SJ, Confesssor
    Born 1510. Died 1572

    As a layman
    Francis was a young nobleman at the court of the King of Spain. He became a Duke when he was only thirty-three and lived a happy, peaceful life with his wife Eleanor and their eight children. But unlike so many other powerful nobles, Francis was a perfect Christian gentleman, a true man of God and his great joy was to receive Holy Communion often.

    Jesuit Priest
    This happy life ended when his beloved wife died. Francis did something that astonished all the nobles of Spain; he gave up his Dukedom to his son Charles and became a Jesuit priest.

    So many people came to his first Mass that they had to set up an altar outdoors, but his Superior tested him by treating him in exactly the opposite way he had been used to all his forty-one years of life. He who had once been a Duke had to help the cook, carrying wood for the fire and sweeping the kitchen. When he served food to the priests and brothers, he had to kneel down in front of them all and beg them to forgive him for being so clumsy! Still he never once complained or grumbled.

    The only time he became angry was when anyone treated him with respect as if he was still a Duke. Once a doctor who had to take care of a painful wound Francis had gotten said to him: "I am afraid, my lord, that I have to hurt your grace." The saint answered that he would not hurt him more than he was right then by calling him "my lord" and "your grace."

    It was not too long before the humble priest accomplished wonderful works for God's glory as he preached everywhere and advised many important people. He spread the Society of Jesus all over Spain and in Portugal. When he was made Superior General of the Jesuits, he sent missionaries all over the world. Under his guidance, the Jesuits grew to be a very great help to the Church in many lands.  Through all such success, St. Francis Borgia remained completely humble.

Friday 7th October 2022 - Our Lady of the Rosary 2cl. W.

  • Saints of the week

  • Feast of the Day: Our Lady of the Rosary
    When the heresy of the Albigenses was making progress against God in the County of Toulouse, and striking deeper roots every day, the holy Dominic, who had but just founded the Order of Friars Preachers, threw his whole strength into the work of plucking these blasphemies up.

    That he might be fitter for the work, he cried for help with his whole soul to that Blessed Maiden, whose glory the falsehoods of the heretics so insolently assailed, and to whom it hath been granted to trample down every heresy throughout the whole earth.

    It is said that he had from her a word, bidding him preach up the saying of the Rosary among the people, as a strong help against heresy and sin, and it is wonderful with how stout an heart and how good a success he did the work laid upon him.

    This Rose-garden (or Rosary) is a certain form of prayer, wherein we say one-hundred-and-fifty times the salutation of the Angel, and the Lord's Prayer between every ten times, and, each of the fifteen times that we say the Lord's Prayer, and repeat tenfold the salutation, think of one of fifteen great events in the history of our Redemption. From that time forth this form of godly prayer was extraordinarily spread about by holy Dominic, and waxed common. That this same Dominic was the founder and prime mover thereof hath been said by Popes in diverse letters of the Apostolic See.
     

  • Victories of the Rosary

  • Sermon on the Family Rosary

  • Talks on the Rosary by Rev. Fr. Hugh Thwaites


Monday 3rd October 2022 - St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, Virgin, 3cl. W.

  • Saints of the week

  • Saint of the Day: St. Theresa of the Child Jesus
    Theresa of the Child Jesus was born of good and devout parents at Alencon in France.

    When she was five years old and had lost her mother, she committed herself completely to God's providence under the care of her loving father and older sisters, and with such teachers "rejoiced as a giant to run the way" of perfection.

    When she was nine, she was sent to the Benedictine nuns at Lisieux to be educated.

    Then, at the age of ten, she was tormented by an unknown and serious illness, from which she was divinely freed by the aid of Our Lady of Victory.

    When, filled with angelic fervor, she went to the holy banquet for the first time, she seemed to draw from it an insatiable hunger for this food. She desired to enter the Order of Discalced Carmelites but, because of her youth, met with many difficulties in embracing the religious life.

    These difficulties she courageously overcame and happily entered the Carmel of Lisieux at the age of fifteen. There she burned with love for God and neighbour. She followed the spiritual way of childhood according to the teaching of the Gospels, and taught it to others, especially to the novices. Inflamed with desire for suffering, she offered herself two years before her death as a victim to the merciful love of God.

    At the age of twenty-four, on September 30, 1897 she hastened to her heavenly Bridegroom.

    Pius XI, enrolled her as a Virgin among the Blessed, and, two years later on the occasion of the great jubilee, solemnly placed her among the Saints appointed and declared her the special Patroness of all Missions.


Friday 30th September 2022 - St. Jerome, Confessor & Doctor of the Church, 3cl. W.

  1. Reminder about the first duty of every Christian: to pray.
  2. What is prayer? (Q. 141)
    Definition: Prayer is the raising of the mind and the heart to God.
  3. Why do we pray?
    There are four ends of prayer:
    (i)   Adoration (bowing down before God in your mind and heart - with faith, hope and charity)
    (ii)  Thanksgiving (for all the things God has given you)
    (iii) Atonement (saying sorry and making amends)
    (iv) Petition (asking for things)
  4. Saint of the Day: St. Jerome
    Saint Jerome was born around 342 AD, in Stridon, Dalmatia. Today, the town, which ceased to exist in Jerome's time, would likely be in Croatia or Slovenia. 

    Around the age of 12 or so, Jerome traveled to Rome to study grammar, philosophy and rhetoric. He lived a bad life as a student, then repented. In or around the year 366, Jerome decided to become a Christian and was baptized by Pope Liberius. Now interested in theological matters, Jerome set aside his worldly studies to pursue matters of the faith. He worked for a awhile as the secretary of Pope Damasus, but eventually went to live at Antioch in the Holy Land.

    Of all the things that made Jerome famous, nothing was so legendary as his translation of the Bible. Jerome began work while he was still in Rome under Pope Damasus. He spent his entire life translating the scriptures from Hebrew and Old Latin. (See also the legend about the lion).