Mary: Mother of the Eucharist

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‘With the Bread of Life and understanding, she shall feed him…’
– Ecclus. 15:3

Mary Invites us to Holy Communion
“Among the Biblical figures of Mary,” writes St. Peter Julian Eymard, “there are several which represent her inviting us to Holy Communion. Such is the table of the Temple upon which rested the loaves consecrated to the Lord. ‘Hail, Mary,’ says St. Ephraim, ‘spiritual table of faith, who dost offer the true Bread to the famished world!’

‘Why [asks Pinna] does this holy Doctor [St. Ephraim] give to Mary the title of table instead of ark, since the Ark contained the miraculous manna? Ah! it is because the Ark hid what it held; whilst the table exposed to view the food that was laid on it, and seemed to invite the guests to partake of it… It is because the Ark contained only manna, while the table holds not only bread, but all kinds of savory food and delicious drinks, also. Now, Mary, in offering Jesus to us in Holy Communion, gives us a Bread which has in Itself all flavors, and which satisfies every desire.'” ‘Instead of which things thou didst feed thy people with the food of angels, and gavest them bread from heaven prepared without labour; having in it all that is delicious, and the sweetness of every taste’ (Wis. 16:20; Cf. Communion Antiphon for XIII Sunday after Pentecost, usus antiquior).

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In another place,” continues St. Peter Julian, “Mary is compared to the [sanctuary] lamp which ought, according to the Law, to be placed very near the table of the sanctuary. ‘What means this prescription?’ asks Conti. ‘Without doubt, to light up that holy table and the sacred loaves that it holds. It is thus that Mary attracts us by the light of her inspirations, in order to show us the Eucharistic Bread which will make our delight.'”

“But a still more striking indication of Mary’s power over the dispensing of this ineffable grace of Communion, is the word of St. Peter: ‘As new-born babes, desire the rational milk without guile, that thereby you may grow unto salvation…’ (1 Pt. 2:2)

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Cornelius a Lapide says that many interpreters understand by this spiritual milk the Eucharist, which in the early Church was given immediately after Baptism, and even to infants. The Eucharist has, indeed, the color of milk. Like milk, It is sweet to the taste, and like It, again, It marvelously nourishes the soul.

St. Peter’s expression, Concupiscite, “Desire ardently,” shows us with what eagerness we ought to desire this spiritual milk. ‘Do you not see,’ says St. Chrysostom, ‘with what haste little infants seize the mother’s breast? Ah! with still greater eagerness let us run to the source of this Blessed Beverage! Let us, like new-born babes, suck in the grace of the Holy Spirit.’ ‘Come over to me, all ye that desire (concupiscitis) me,’ says our Blessed Mother, ‘and be filled with my fruits’ (Ecclus. 24:26; Epistle for Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel).

The Eucharist is, then, the milk of our soul. But how suggestive of Mary is this word “milk”! Who gives the milk to the babe but the mother? All you that thirst, come to the waters: and you that have no money make haste, buy, and eat: come ye, buy wine and milk without money, and without any price’ (Is. 55:1; Epistle for Feast of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces, May 31).

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Who shall give thee to me for my Brother, sucking the breasts of my Mother, that I may find Thee without, and kiss Thee, and now no man may despise me?’ (Cant. 8:1)

Mary, give us that substantial Milk of our soul!… Thou dost give us in Communion a Divine Milk, God Himself changed into milk for our weakness, for our infancy, for, as St. John Damascene declares: ‘The Virgin’s milk is changed into the Flesh of the Saviour, and it is that Milk – that Milk, itself, without doubt – that we receive at the Holy Altar…” ‘Out of the mouth of infants (infantium) and of sucklings (lactentium) thou hast perfected praise, because of thy enemies, that thou mayst destroy the enemy and the avenger.’ (Ps. 8:3)

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St. Augustine, glancing from the Cross to the Altar, knew not by which God testified the more love for him, and he exclaimed: ‘… UPON THE CROSS HE OPENS TO ME HIS HEART; AT THE ALTAR, HE PRESENTS TO ME THE BREAST, AND FEEDS ME WITH DIVINE MILK!’ ‘He hath filled the hungry with good things…’ (Mary, Mother of all the Living, Lk. 1:53, echoing Ps. 106:9)

(From ‘Month of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament,’ The Sentinel Press, 1903, by Father Eymard [St. Peter Julian]; Scriptures in italics have been added)

+ Happy Feast of the Nativity of Mary, Mother of God, and our dearest Mother!
+ And happy “feast of the Littlest Souls”
!

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‘Man Ate The Bread of Angels’ (Ps. 77:25): The Eucharist as Milk

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ECCE PANIS ANGELORUM: Behold the Bread of Angels!

As new-born babes, desire the rational milk without guile, that thereby you may grow unto salvation…’
– 1 Pt. 2:2

The Food of Little Ones
“Clement of Alexandria thus quotes the [aforementioned] passage: ‘As new-born babes, desire ye the word!’ Yes, it is the Word, the Milk of those who are converted and become little children, who are born again of the Holy Ghost; it prepares them for the solid food of the eternal feast, that is, for the Word unveiled.

Our Holy Mother, the Church
… It is that heavenly dew which fell from the bosom of the Father into the womb of the Virgin-Mother; and this same, the Word Incarnate, gives Himself to the Church, for she, too, is Virgin and Mother.

Pure as a virgin, and affectionate as a mother, she invites her children to come, and she feeds them on this rational milk, this Word, this most beautiful One among the sons of men; she gives her little ones the Body of Christ, and strengthens them with the Word of the Father.

Oh! let us run to this blessed Mother of ours, and drink of that Word, who turns all our evils away from us, making us forget, by correcting, them. The mother’s breast is everything to her child — life, joy, its whole world.

… And yet, a mother’s milk is but an image of the One I am speaking of. That other ceases, when the first few months are gone; but the one I partake of is an inexhaustible spring; it forms me into the perfect man, making me reach the age of the fulness of Christ.

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A Favourite Symbol of the Eucharist in the Early Church
… St. Perpetua relates, that, on the evening before she and her companions were to suffer martyrdom, Pastor put a delicious milk into her mouth: the details she gives of that touching scene, show us that she is speaking of the Blessed Sacrament.

… For, as St. Augustine so admirably explains this doctrine, ‘Man does not live on one food, and Angel on another: truth, divine Wisdom, is the one food of every intelligence. The Angels, the Powers, the heavenly spirits, feed on it; they eat of it; they grow upon it, and yet the mysterious food lessens not. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: take it, if you can; eat it; it is food.

Sublime and Consoling Wisdom from St. Augustine
Perhaps, you will say to me: ‘Oh! yes, it is verily food; but I — I am a babe; what I must have is milk; else I cannot reach that Word you tell me of.’ Well! since it is milk you require, and yet there is no other food for you save this of heaven (the Word), He will pass through the flesh, that he may thus be brought within reach of your lips, for food does not become milk, except by its passing through flesh. It is thus a mother does. What the mother eats is what her child drinks; but the little one not being, as yet, strong enough to take the bread as it is, the mother eats it, and then gives it to her child under a form that very sweetly suits the babe. He does not receive the food such as it lay upon the table, but after it has passed through the flesh, and so made suitable to the child.

Therefore was the Word made Flesh, and dwelt among us; and ‘man hath eaten, thus, the bread of Angels.’ Eternal Wisdom came down even to us, by the Flesh and Blood of Him that was our Saviour; he came as milk, which was full of all blessing to us.”

(Taken from Dom Gueranger’s, ‘The Liturgical Year,’ 1879, Tuesday within the Octave of Corpus Christi)

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“The Bread of Angels is Virginal Milk.”
– St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face

Some Consoling Biblical Titles for Christ

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FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS
My Mercy (Ps. 58:18)
My Saviour (Ps. 26:9)
My Helper (Ps. 18:5)
My Redeemer (Ps. 18:5)
My Patience (Ps. 70:5)
My Protector (Ps. 3:4)
My Joy (Ps. 31:7)
My Hope (Ps. 70:5)

FROM ELSEWHERE
‘My Beloved’ (Cant. 2:16)
‘Our Everlasting Saviour’ (Bar. 4:22)
‘Saint of Saints’ (Dan. 9:24)

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A Prayer Inspired by Some of the Aforementioned Titles
My Mercy (Ps. 58:18), have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy (Ps. 50:3).
My Saviour (Ps. 26:9), save me for Thy mercy’s sake (Ps. 6:5).
My Helper (Ps. 18:5), make haste to help me (Ps. 69:2).
My Redeemer (Ps. 18:5), redeem me and have mercy on me (Ps. 25:11).
My Patience (Ps. 70:5), give me constancy in my mind (Jud. 9:14).
My Protector (Ps. 3:4), protect me under the shadow of Thy Wings. (Ps. 16:8).
My Joy (Ps. 31:7), give joy to the soul of Thy servant (Ps. 85:4).
My Hope (Ps. 70:5), I believe to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living (Ps. 26:13).

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An Important Spiritual Lesson
All that you seek can be found in Christ. Do you desire mercy? He is mercy. Are you in need of joy? He is joy. Are you wanting in patience? He is your patience. Go to Him for everything.

God Loves Nothingness
Believe and know that He draws you by His love alone. Give Him the consent of your faith. Give Him your poverty, your misery, your sins. God does not disdain nothingness; this is His vast domain of activity. “My child,” said Our Lord to Armella Nicolas, “make room for Me.”

‘To Live is Christ’
Know that God is the sanctity of the soul. Your wretchedness is no obstacle to His goodness; the only hindrance is your lack of faith and abandonment. Be little in His arms! He is your Abba, your ALL!

You will learn this littleness by gazing at your Mother, the littlest of all of His ‘most dear children’ (Eph. 5:1): ‘BEHOLD THY MOTHER’ (Mt. 12:47).

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The Most Essential Christian Prayer Book

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On the Lips of Saints
During the final days of Bl. Columba Marmion (d. Jan 30, 1923), a certain individual was trying to encourage him to confide in God’s mercy. The gist of what the latter said was this: “Think of all the good works you have performed: remember all the conferences you have given, the books you have written, the sermons you have preached.” Shaking his head, the holy Abbot simply had this to say: ‘Deus meus, misericordia mea!’ (‘My God, my mercy!’).

Where did he learn this beautiful little prayer? Was it his own composition? Did he find it in the writings of a pious author? Was it revealed to a chosen soul? No. These words come straight from the Psalter – that is, the book of Psalms. We will find no better prayer book; every word comes from the Heart of God. This explains the preference of so many desert fathers, priests, religious, and Saints in general, for the Psalter.

‘Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Thy name:
the just wait for me, until Thou reward me.’

– Final words of St. Francis of Assisi (Ps. 141:8)

What better way to address Him than in those words which were inspired by the Holy Spirit, Whosearcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God’ (1 Cor. 2:10)? Are His words not ‘spirit and life’ (Jn. 6:64)?

If you wish to ‘put on Christ’ (Gal. 3:27), you must have ‘the mind of Christ’ (1 Cor. 2:16), and if you wish to have the mind of Christ, you must let your heart be dissolved in His prayer, in His life. ‘It is written,’ said Our Lord (quoting the book of Deuteronomy), ‘that Man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word of God’ (Lk. 4:4). Open your Bible, then; listen to your God, Who calls on you, saying: ‘For I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it’ (Ps. 80:11).

“The Psalms form indeed the chief of all books of prayer.”
– Bl. Ildephonsus Schuster

The Psalms: A Key to the Heart of Christ
“The holy Gospels, writes Bl. Cardinal Schuster, “relate the life of Jesus in all its details and expound His teaching, but the Psalms of David show us the mind of our Saviour, and make known to us His preferences, His feelings, His struggles and His anxieties, and tell us of the accents of deep love in which He prayed to His heavenly Father.

Throughout His life, Jesus addressed Him in the words of the Psalter, and on the Cross, during His last agony, the twenty-first psalm was on His lips. We might almost liken the Psalter to a sacerdotal book of prayers which the eternal Pontiff recited whilst offering up to His Father the sacrifice of His own life…

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The private piety of present-day Catholics would gain much if, letting themselves be influenced by the example of our common Mother, the Church, who appoints for her ministers the weekly recital of the Psalter, they, too, would make more use of this prayer-book, which was inspired by the Holy Ghost and adopted for our example by our Saviour Jesus Christ Himself.” (‘The Sacramentary,’ p. 156, vol. II)

The Value of a Fervent Communion

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‘Miraculous communion du Saint Teresa of Jesus’ by Niccolò Bambini.

‘Deus Cordis Mei: Thou art the God of my heart’
The graces of a fervent Communion are incalculable. One Communion was sufficient to cause Bl. Imelda (d. May 12, 1333) to die of love, so great was her longing for the God of her heart (Ps. 72:26).  “Tell me,” she would sometimes say, “can anyone receive Jesus into his heart and not die?” ‘My soul hath thirsted after the strong living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God? My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready!’ (Ps. 41:3; Ps. 107:2).

“No tongue can express,” writes the Venerable Abbot Blosius, “no heart can comprehend how boundless are the spiritual goods which come to the soul from the devout reception of this sweet Sacrament of the Eucharist.” (‘A Spiritual Mirror’) ‘He that spared not even His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not also, with Him, given us all things?’ (Rom. 8:32)

Four Fruits of a Fervent Communion
Listen to the words of “the devout Blosius” (St. Alphonsus), “a great Benedictine mystic” (Bl. Columba Marmion). The following words are from his work, ‘A Book of Spiritual Instruction’:

“O most worthy and most sweet Sacrament, in which, under the species of bread and wine, we receive the whole Christ, namely, the Body, the Blood, the Soul and the Godhead of Christ; we receive the whole Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. For the three Persons of one Godhead and essence cannot be separated from one another. The whole Trinity, therefore, dwells in the Body of Christ, because the whole Godhead is in It. The fruits, therefore, of the most Blessed Sacrament are many and precious.

(1) He who receives the Lord’s Body with due devotion is cleansed from all sins, even from those mortal sins of which he is not conscious or does not remember to have committed, provided only that he is in the disposition of mind to confess and do penance for them if he did know that he had fallen into them.

(2) He is made partaker of all those good things which Christ has merited for us in His Life, Passion and Death.

(3) Yea, also, he becomes a sharer in all the good things that have been done since the time of Adam, and will be done until the end of the world.

(4) Lastly, he is united to Christ and incorporated with Him, and therefore receives force and power to resist vice and to persevere in good works; and now, adorned with a more pure and excellent life, he is transformed and changed into God, and filled with all the grace of the most glorious Trinity.”

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‘Elevation of the Host’ by Wenceslaus Hollar

‘Thou hast prepared a Table before me against them that afflict me.’
– Psalm 22:5

A 19th century Benedictine Mystic: Some Anecdotes and Sayings (Pt. 2)

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SOME ANECDOTES FROM THE LIFE OF FR. PAUL OF MOLL (d. Feb 24, 1896)

Even the Saints have Imperfections
Someone complained to Father Paul about an ecstatic. ‘Then do not believe,’ he said, ‘that these saintly souls have no faults. No saint in this world is exempt from faults.’

A Vision of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament
“One day while I knelt in adoration before the Most Holy Sacrament exposed, I saw Jesus standing before me. He wore a white garment and was of dazzling beauty.” – Fr. Paul of Moll

Simultaneous Novenas
Father Paul advised a countryman to make a novena to St. Benedict. ‘I shall have to wait a few days,’ he replied, ‘for I have commenced a novena to St. Joseph.’
‘Nothing prevents you from making the two novenas at the same time; in Heaven, there is no jealousy among the saints.’

Two Places in Heaven
In the confessional, an ecstatic said to Father Paul that in a dream she had seen the Rev. Father’s soul carried to Heaven by angels and there placed near the choir of angels. He replied simply, ‘Yes indeed, my place is there.’
Then he asked, ‘Do you know your place in Heaven?’
‘No.’
‘Well, I know it.’  (“We may here remark that other ecstatics of our country [Belgium] likewise say that the Rev. Father Paul has a high place in Heaven, and that he is a very powerful protector. But the Church alone has the authority to confirm these assertions.”)

A Miracle Worker – Not in Life, but in Death
To an ecstatic Father Paul said, ‘You will not work any miracles during your life-time, but you will after your death.’

Devotion to the Nine Choirs of Angels 
“A very pious young girl was saying the Rosary in our church, in honor of the nine choirs of angels. I saw above her head nine silver strings which continually moved up and down. This symbolized the joy felt by the angels of the nine choirs at the homage which was paid to them.” – Fr. Paul of Moll (“Father Paul loved to propagate this devotion to the nine choirs of angels.”)

The Evil of Scandal
A Woman in Antwerp who sold liberal papers, being threatened with total blindness, went to Termonde to ask Father Paul to cure her. He replied, ‘You cannot be cured, because you sell bad papers.’

A Visit from Our Lady; Abandoned Souls in Purgatory; A Father in Heaven
“At a visit to Father Paul, in 1895, he said to me, ‘If I were to tell you something, would you believe me?’
‘Yes, Father.’
‘The Blessed Virgin appeared to me, and before disappearing she placed her hand upon my shoulder.'”

He also said to me, ‘There are souls in the fire of Purgatory who ask your prayers for their deliverance. You knew these persons well, and now they are forgotten by their children.’

He also told me that my father is in Heaven.” – From a young lady of Heusden (Ghent)

SOME SAYINGS OF FR. PAUL OF MOLL

It is Not Always Enough to Pray for Oneself (A Good Reason to Invoke the Saints!)
“In order to be heard, it is not only always sufficient only to pray oneself: one should also ask the prayers of others.” (The same was revealed to St. Gertrude the Great)

“It is written (Job 5:1): ‘Call . . . if there be any that will answer thee, and turn to some of the saints.’ … Therefore when we wish to pray to God, we should turn to the saints, that they may pray to God for us… Further, the saints who are in heaven are more acceptable to God than those who are on the way.”
– St. Thomas Aquinas

Novenas in the Morning
“It is better to make novenas in the morning than in the evening.”

Different Rewards in Heaven: To Each According to His Works
“It is wrong to imagine Heaven as a place whose inhabitants enjoy the same happiness. Heaven is a dwelling place where every work of charity, ‘werk van liefde,’ enjoys an eternal recompense.”

‘Dash Thy Little Ones Against the Rock’ (Ps. 136:9)
“When a demon suggests a bad thought, it is easy to resist the temptation; but if one does not immediately repel it, a second demon comes at once to help the first. Afterwards, in proportion as resistance is delayed, still other demons come and combine their efforts, and when one has to battle against seven devils all at once, it is very difficult not to succumb.”

[This Psalm verse, understood in its spiritual sense, is often explained thus by the Fathers: When we encounter evil thoughts and temptations, we are to take them captive while they are still young, and we are to dash them against the Rock, Christ.]

SOME EXCERPTS FROM THE LETTERS OF FR. PAUL OF MOLL

Love: An Everlasting Treasure
“I wish you an ardent love for God: it is the richest and most beautiful treasure you can wish or desire. All other treasures will disappear like smoke; but the treasure of love shall remain forever in Heaven.”

Love: The Bond of Perfection
“A sigh of love for God is worth more than a whole year of penance.” (i.e. penance performed habitually or in our own will).

God Loves the Children of Mary
“Mary being truly our Mother, how could God love our Mother so much without loving her children?”

Look Upon Christ, Not Your Miseries
“No matter how miserable he may be, provided he is no longer in the state of mortal sin, God loves him with an incomprehensible love.”

Source: ‘Father Paul of Moll: A Flemish Benedictine and Wonderworker of the Nineteenth Century, 1824 – 1896,’ by Edward Van Speybrouck (2nd ed., Benedictine Convent, Clyde, MO, 1914)

“Ask of me whatever you desire, and it will be procured for you.
And continue to ask, for when I am in Heaven,
my power will be greater.”

– Fr. Paul of Moll to a friend

A Great Benedictine Mystic: Some Anecdotes and Sayings (Pt. 1)

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“One sigh of love is of more value than the whole world…”

SOME ANECDOTES FROM THE LIFE OF FR. PAUL OF MOLL (d. Feb 24, 1896)

Reader of Souls
In the confessional, Father Paul said to a servant girl from Thielt at the very beginning, ‘I know everything that you are going to confess, but, nevertheless, you have to tell it yourself.’

‘… shew thyself to the priest.’ (Mt. 8:4)

God Greatly Rewards Every Act of Love
Very early one morning, Father Paul, seeing a peasant who had come a long distance through a terrific snowstorm, to hear Mass in the church at Steenbrugge, said to him: ‘If you could see the immense merits which your courage has procured for you, you would be astonished, and you might yet increase them in a measure incredible, by saying: All for the love of Jesus.’

The Priest Acts ‘in persona Christi
As an ecstatic was making her confession to Father Paul, he interrupted her, saying, ‘Do you not see our Lord?’
‘No.’
‘But I see Him: He is at your side.’

The Power of a Just Soul’s Prayer
About the year 1888, Father Paul said to a person at Watervliet that God had decided to punish the whole world with terrible chastisements; but that finally He had spared mankind, in answer to the prayers and penances of one single religious. Father Paul did not tell the name of this religious.’

[The same is said of St. Vincent Ferrer.]

An Affectionate Blessing from the Mother of God
“One evening, in 1895, after our spiritual exercises, I was walking through the cloister in the abbey, reciting, according to my custom, three Hail Marys in honor of Our Lady to obtain her maternal blessing, when all at once I saw this good Mother clothed in a robe of dazzling white. She approached and made a little cross with her thumb on my forehead. The emotion which I felt is indescribable, and if the apparition had lasted two minutes longer, Father Paul would be no more of this world; for I would not have been able to support this brilliancy any longer.” – Fr. Paul of Moll, speaking to a person of Thielt (after which the saintly priest “fell into an ecstasy which lasted about five minutes.”)

SOME SAYINGS OF FR. PAUL OF MOLL

Mary: Living Tabernacle the Word
“From the time of the Ascension of Our Lord, the most Blessed Virgin communicated every day, and by a special privilege, the Host remained intact within her up to the moment of the next Communion, so that Mary always guarded, in her interior, the Humanity and Divinity of Jesus Christ, and thus was able to keep up a continual conversation with her Divine Son.”

[These words agree with the revelations of St. Veronica Giuliani and Bl. Mary Magdalen Martinengo]

The Body of St. Joseph
“In an ecstasy, a saint has seen the body of St. Joseph preserved intact in a tomb, the site of which is yet unknown. The more the glorious Spouse of the most Blessed Virgin is honored, the sooner will the finding of his body take place, which will be a day of great joy for the Church.”

Saints are Always in the Making
“At the time when the Church is most persecuted, God raises up in the world the greatest number of saints.”

The Three Masses of Christmas
“During the consecration of the three Masses on Christmas I obtain everything I asked for.”

SOME EXCERPTS FROM THE LETTERS OF FR. PAUL OF MOLL

God is Infinitely Lovable
“God being infinite love, we can always love Him more and more.”

God is Not Outdone in Generosity
He pays us back in tenfold love, the love which we have for Him.”

Humility: The Key to True Greatness
“Humility renders men great in the eyes of God.”

Do All for the Love and Glory of God
“Before eating, sleeping, opening or closing a door, or any other action, always have the intention of doing all for the love of Jesus. In this way you will continually reap a rich harvest for Heaven.”

‘Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God.’ (1 Cor. 10:31)

Source: ‘Father Paul of Moll: A Flemish Benedictine and Wonderworker of the Nineteenth Century, 1824 – 1896,’ by Edward Van Speybrouck (2nd ed., Benedictine Convent, Clyde, MO, 1914)

7 Years a Slave

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‘The Ascent of the Blessed’ by Hieronymous Bosch (edited)

MAY 14  – Blessed Egidius (or Giles) of Portugal, Confessor (A.D. 1183-1265)

“EGIDIUS (or GILES) RODRIGUEZ was born of noble parents at Vouzella in Portugal about A.D. 1183. His family destined him for the ecclesiastical state and sent him for his education to Coimbra, where he became eminent as a philosopher and devoted himself to the study of medicine. Several rich benefices had been obtained for him; but the young man entirely neglected his sacred obligations and even entered into an unholy compact with Satan, which he signed with his own blood.

For seven years he is said to have studied magic in the caves of Toledo under his infernal master. When he reappeared amongst men, he was found to be endowed with a marvellous power over the elements and able to cure the most inveterate diseases. He took his degree at Paris as doctor in medicine and established his reputation by numerous and striking cures, evidently surpassing human power, whilst his life was one of unbridled iniquity.

But God in His infinite mercy had decreed to change this unhappy slave of the devil into one of His own most faithful and loving servants. One night, as Egidius was pursuing his unholy studies with the doors locked upon him, an armed horseman of gigantic stature suddenly appeared before him, and, shaking his lance, exclaimed in terrific accents, “Change thy life! Change thy life, I tell thee.” The vision disappeared and the trembling Egidius cast a remorseful glance on the miserable past. But his bad habits soon regained the mastery. Then the fearful apparition came a second time, charged full upon the unhappy sinner, and hurled him to the ground, exclaiming thrice, “Change thy life or I will slay thee.” “I will change, Lord, I will change; pardon my delay,” faltered the miserable man. He rose an altered being.

His first act was to consign all his books of magic to the flames. He then set out for Spain, took the habit of a Friar Preacher in the newly founded Convent of Palencia about A.D. 1220, and fervently entered upon a course of penance and devotion.

But for seven years (the same term as that of his unholy apprenticeship to Satan) no comfort came to his anguished soul. Terrifying visions of demons continually assailed him and the thought of the contract signed with his own blood and binding him to the Evil One filled him with fear and remorse. Yet he persevered in prayer and penance, continually commending himself to her who is the Refuge of sinners and who is never invoked in vain. One night, when he was exposed to the most terrible assaults of the demons, the paper of his contract was suddenly and violently thrown on the ground before him, and an infernal voice cried aloud that Mary had conquered. Egidius took the bond, felt himself freed from his sufferings, and for the first time tasted the consolations of a soul perfectly at rest.

From that time, he became as distinguished for his holiness and his seraphic love of God as he had formerly been for his apostasy and rebellion. He bore in particular a most tender devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, the mere casual utterance of which often had the power to cast him into ecstasy. He became one of the most celebrated religious of his time, and was more than once Provincial of the Order in Spain. His miracles were very numerous, and his power over the evil spirits who had so long and so cruelly tyrannised over him was exhibited in many wonderful ways. One of his favourite maxims was that we must forget ourselves in the service of our neighbour, and that the salvation of souls must take precedence of all private devotions.

There is something singularly attractive in the picture which is left us of the life and practices of this wonderful man. He would take advantage of the time when the Brethren were in the schools to clean and tidy their cells for them and would render the lowliest services to the sick. Being naturally of a cheerful and loquacious disposition, he found extreme difficulty in practising the rule of silence; but, understanding this to be a temptation of the devil, he resolved to live in strict retirement in his cell; and so generously did he overcome himself in this matter, that thenceforth he was hardly ever heard to utter a useless word. If anyone needed his help, he would at once lay aside his own occupation and hasten with a joyful countenance to render the desired service. His whole bearing attracted souls to the love of the Order and to the practice of poverty and obedience. He was ever ready to console the tempted and to render the humblest services to the sick Brethren.

When the hour of his death drew nigh, he caused a hair-cloth to be stretched upon the ground, and, extending himself upon it, received the Last Sacraments and spoke words of consolation to his weeping Brethren. Then he raised his hands to heaven, saying, “Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit;” after which, stretching forth his arms in the form of a cross, without agony, he happily departed this life on the Feast of the Ascension, A.D. 1265.”*

Benedict XIV. approved the veneration which had always been paid to Blessed Egidius in the Dominican Order and the kingdom of Portugal.

Source: ‘Short Lives of the Dominican Saints,’ Paternoster House, 1901

*Some Dominican historians have cast doubt on certain elements of this story. Are these doubts justified? That question, unfortunately, is beyond my competence. But I can say this much: Bl. Bartolo Longo is surely not the only former slave of Satan who now dwells in the courts of Paradise!

[Update: I don’t always have much time on a Sunday to work on the blog, but I certainly plan to continue with it. There is plenty of material in the pipeline.]

St. Therese’s Hungarian Sister (d. May 13, 1933)

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“After my death I will pass a review on all the Monasteries of the Visitation, and where there is disorder, I will appear as a ghost.”

A Little Soul Who Died of Love

Adelaide (Etelka) Bogner (in religion: Sr. Mária Margit Bogner) was born on December 15, 1905. On May 13, 1927, she was to write in her diary, “To die of love.” Exactly 6 years later, on May 13, 1933, Our Lord took her to Himself. “I cannot die by myself,” she had written in her diary during her last retreat (quoting Fr. Grou) – “God must do it. He must consume His victim in the fire of Love.”

One can almost imagine Our Lord’s delight in responding to the confidence of His beloved daughter, who desired to live for Him alone, whatever the cost. “Nothing,” she said, “is impossible to the boldness of love. I turn to You with an unlimited confidence and I am sure that even if You should make me die you would accomplish my desires.” ‘But the God of all grace, who hath called us into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, will Himself perfect you, and confirm you, and establish you.’ (1 Pt. 5:10)

Some Saintly 27-year-olds

Ven. Mária Margit’s holy death calls to mind a number of other holy souls who died at the tender age of 27 – namely, Ven. Philomena of St. Columba (d. Aug 13, 1868), Dom Pius de Hemptinne (d. Jan 27, 1907), Bl. James Kern (d. Oct 20, 1924), St. Rafael Arnáiz Barón (d. April 26, 1938) and Ven. Benedetta Bianchi (d. Jan 23, 1964).

A Sister of Therese

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Ven. Mária Margit Bogner is a truly remarkable soul. Like St. Therese – with whom she shared such a special friendship – she is playful, humorous, intelligent, artistic, and all aflame with love for Jesus. Is it a coincidence, then, that she died on the 50th anniversary of St. Therese’s cure by the Virgin of the Smile? Is it a coincidence that Ven. Mária Margit (i.e. Margaret Mary) died on the 13th anniversary of the canonization of St. Margaret Mary?

A Great, Short Biography

If you want a delightful friend in Heaven, and a powerful intercessor, I am confident that you will find joy in reading the following short life of this holy little soul:

‘The Life of the Venerable Maria Margit Bogner, a Religious of the Visitation of Holy Mary of Erd, Hungary 1905–1933, A Violet in the  Odor of Sanctity’:
http://visitationspirit.org/2013/11/a-life-of-venerable-sister-maria-margit-bogner-vhm/

Two Powerful Intercessors: Venerable Mária Margit Bogner and St. Therese

While still alive in the flesh, Ven. Mária Margit wrote of St. Therese: “With joy I now have this new heavenly teacher and I listen to her lessons with a beating heart. She is always near me and she tells me how I should work.”

“She is always near me.” Can we doubt that, from their place in Heaven, these two spouses of Christ now work together in a special way for souls?

“When I am in heaven,” said St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo to a religious Sister of St. Vincent, “where one can do everything, I will help you more than now I do. I will hold to the cloak of the Mother of God and keep my eyes fixed on you.” Surely these words can be applied to St. Therese and to Ven. Mária Margit, if not to all the saints.

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“From now on I will do nothing except by you, with you, in you and for you.”
– Sr. Mária Margit (Dec 8, 1926, addressing Our Lady)

Venerable Mária Margit Bogner and the Littlest Souls

It is my belief that Ven. Mária Margit Bogner (who I discovered in October, 2017) has a special predilection for little souls – especially the littlest among them. If you are one such soul, ask for her intercession and see for yourself.

Below are some quotes from Ven. Mária Margit Bogner, whose death (May 13, 1933) falls on the anniversary of ‘Littlest Souls’ (Started May 13, 2012). [Mária Margit Bogner was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI on June 28, 2012.]

“I have heard much spoken about the Little Flower of Lisieux. I thought I knew her life. Nevertheless, it is not so. Reading her autobiography, I have put my hands into hers, with confidence that she will guide me: ‘My path is sure.’ Yes, she invites all little souls to follow her – the littlest souls that cannot lift themselves to the flight of eagles.”

“My soul is invaded by a torrent of graces and love. You cannot give me more and I, what will I give you? All belongs to you. My only good is my misery. I give it to you. You accept it, isn’t it true? You must take it because you know that my union with you depends on that.”

“I wish to give to souls a little of that which fills me to overflowing.”

A Calendar of the Littlest Souls

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Why such a Calendar?
To encourage devotion to some of the “littlest souls” mentioned in the previous post (novenas, spiritual reading, spiritual friendship, etc.). Why? Because most of us are very weak and imperfect souls, and these holy souls can help us in different ways to attain a greater union with God. It is no coincidence that, in recent times, God has raised up so many souls that speak of littleness, abandonment, confidence, Divine Mercy, etc.

The following dates are included:

  • D.O.B.
  • Date of Death
  • Feast Day – if applicable (Trad. = Traditional Calendar; New = New Calendar)

Some important preliminary points:

  • The “littlest souls” are principally to be imitated in their voluntary littleness – i.e. in their audacious, childlike and total abandonment of self to the infallible, immutable, adorable and infinitely perfect Will of God.
  • We should not, and indeed cannot, imitate the saints/Saints in everything. No two souls are the same; God leads all to Himself in a somewhat unique manner. His Will alone sanctifies souls.
  • St. Therese, the youngest Doctor of the Church, has in some sense been held up by holy Mother Church as the flag-bearer for “little souls.” Her message is fundamentally universal.
  • Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word, is also Mother of the Church. It follows, then, that she is Mother of all the Little Ones. (For the sake of simplicity, Our Lady’s Feasts have not been included on this calendar, nor have the Feasts of St. Joseph.)

CALENDAR (by Month)

January 1: Death of Marie Therese Desandais (d. 1943)
January 2: Birth of St. Therese (1873)
January 3: Death of Ven. Mother Anne-Margaret Clement (d. 1661)
January 6: Birth of St. Gertrude the Great (b. 1256)
January 7: Death of Ven. Louis de Blois (d. 1566)
January 7: Birth of St. Bernadette Soubirous (b. 1844)
January 14: Birth of Sr. Mary Aimee de Jesus (b. 1839)
January 16: Death of Mother Marie Madeleine Ponnet (d. 1914)
January 27: Death of Dom Pius de Hemptinne (d. 1907)
January 29: FEAST DAY, Trad., of St. Francis de Sales (New: January 24)
January 30: Death of Bl. Columba Marmion (d. 1923)

February 3: Death of Mother Yvonne-Aimee (d. 1951)
February 4: Birth of Sr. Josefa Menendez (b. 1890)
February 4: FEAST DAY, New, of Bl. Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus
February 6: Death of Ven. Marthe Robin (d. 1981)
February 18: FEAST DAY, Trad., of St. Bernadette Soubirous (New: April 16)
February 22: Birth of Rhoda Wise (b. 1888)
February 24: Death of Fr. Paul of Moll (d. 1896)
February 25: Birth of Fr. Lukas Etlin (b. 1864)

March 3: Birth of Fr. Willie Doyle (1873)
March 7: Birth of Fr. Paul of Moll (b. 1824)
March 12: Birth of St. Gemma Galgani (b. 1878)
March 13: Birth of Ven. Marthe Robin (b. 1902)
March 15: Birth of Ven. Louise Margaret (b. 1868)
March 15: Birth of Marcel Van (b. 1928)
March 27: Death of Bl. Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus (d. 1967)
March 30: Birth of Bl. Alexandrina da Costa (b. 1904)

April 1: Birth of Bl. Columba Marmion (b. 1858)
April 6: Birth of Sr. Consolata Betrone (b. 1903)
April 8: Birth of Therese Neumann (b. 1898)
April 11: FEAST DAY, Trad./New, (and Death) of St. Gemma Galgani (d. 1903)
April 12: Death of St. Teresa of the Andes (d. 1920)
April 16: Death of St. Bernadette Soubirous (d. 1879)
April 21: Birth of Dom Pius de Hemptinne (b. 1879)
April 26: Birth of Sr. Mary of the Holy Trinity (b. 1901)
April 30: Birth of Bl. Dina Belanger (b. 1897)

May 4: Death of Sr. Mary Aimee de Jesus (d. 1874)
May 7: Birth of Ven. Mother Anne-Margaret Clement (b. 1593)
May 8: Birth of Ven. Fulton Sheen (b. 1895)
May 13: Death of Ven. Maria Margit Bogner (d. 1933)
May 14: Death of Ven. Louise Margaret (d. 1915)
May 24: Death of Sr. Gertrude Mary (d. 1908)
May 25: Birth of St. Padre Pio (b. 1887)

June 8: FEAST DAY, New, (and Death) of Bl. Mother Mary of the Divine Heart (d. 1899)
June 23: Birth of Pere Lamy (b. 1853)
June 25: Death of Sr. Mary of the Holy Trinity (d. 1942)

July 7: Death of Rhoda Wise (d. 1948)
July 10: Death of Marcel Van (d. 1959)
July 13: FEAST DAY, Trad., (and Birth) of St. Teresa of the Andes (b. 1900) (New: April 12)
July 16: Birth of Mother Yvonne-Aimee (b. 1901)
July 18: Birth of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity (b. 1880)
July 18: Death of Sr. Consolata Betrone (d. 1946)
July 20: Birth of Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos (b. 1615)

August 6: Birth of Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero (b. 1885)
August 16: Death of Fr. Willie Doyle (d. 1917)
August 21: Birth of St. Francis de Sales (b. 1567)
August 25: Birth of St. Faustina (b. 1905)

September 1: Death of Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero (d. 1916)
September 4: FEAST DAY, New, (and Death) of Bl. Dina Belanger (d. 1929)
September 8: Birth of Bl. Mother Mary of the Divine Heart (b. 1863)
September 18: Death of Therese Neumann (d. 1962)
September 23: FEAST DAY, New, (and Death) of St. Padre Pio (d. 1968)
September 30: Death of St. Therese (d. 1897)

October 3: FEAST DAY, New, of Bl. Columba Marmion
October 3: FEAST DAY, Trad., of St. Therese (New: October 1)
October 5: FEAST DAY (and Death) of St. Faustina (d. 1938)
October 13: FEAST DAY, New, (and Death) of Bl. Alexandrina da Costa (d. 1955)
October 28: Birth of Sr. Gertrude Mary (b. 1870)

November 5: Death of Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos (d. 1692)
November 7: Birth of Mother Marie Madeleine Ponnet (b. 1858)
November 8: FEAST DAY of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity
November 9: Death of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity (d. 1906)
November 16: FEAST DAY, Trad./New, of St. Gertrude the Great
November 17: Death of St. Gertrude the Great (d. 1302)
November 19: FEAST DAY, Trad./New, (and Death) of St. Mechtilde (d. 1298)

December 1: Death of Pere Lamy (d. 1931)
December 2: Birth of Bl. Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus (b. 1894)
December 9: Death of Ven. Fulton Sheen (d. 1979)
December 15: Birth of Ven. Maria Margit Bogner (b. 1905)
December 16: Death of Fr. Lukas Etlin (d. 1927)
December 28: Death of St. Francis de Sales (d. 1622)
December 29: Death of Sr. Josefa Menendez (d. 1923)

[If you see anything that needs updating, please let me know!]