Morning Assembly

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).