How to Pass the Days in Peace and Joy: Advice from a Saintly Cardinal

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Mary Magdalene at Christ’s Feet (Tissot)

[Various quotations interspersed]

“The grace of prayer is one of the highest favours that God imparts to the human soul. Prayer is indeed the atmosphere in which holiness develops and flourishes; it enables the Holy Ghost to communicate Himself with the bonds of love.

+ ‘With me is prayer to the God of my life.’ (Ps. 41:9)

The whole essence of asceticism is contained in this one word: “prayer.” We first pray in order to obtain the help of God’s grace in our struggles in the path of purification; and, when we are engaged in the path of meditation, again we have recourse to prayer.

+ “Only a mortified heart is free.” (Bl. Edward Poppe)

In Heaven itself we shall do nothing else but pray, so we may consider prayer as the beginning of our future state of blessedness.

+ ‘Let us lift up our hearts with our hands to the Lord in the heavens’ (Lam. 3:41)

… We can always remain present in spirit before the Eucharistic Tabernacle, even when the material duties of our state necessitate our being absent in the body. Such was the practice of the saintly mother [St. Monica] of him [St. Augustine] who wrote in the ninth book of his “Confessions”: Ad pretii nostri sacramentum ligavit ancilla tua animam suam vinculo fidei (“To this Sacrament of our redemption Thy handmaid had bound her soul by the bond of faith.” – Sheed translation).

+ ‘But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection.’ (Col. 3:14)

… in the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus gives us His own Spirit, so that the multitude of those who receive Him may, through His grace, Who is their life, truly form cor unum et anima (‘one heart and one soul’ – Acts 4:32).

+ ‘They shall be converted that sit under His shadow.’ (Os. 14:8)

… In Heaven, besides the realization of the Beatific Vision, we shall derive special joy from the companionship of the Saints. The reason for this is that, as all the blessed are united among themselves by the most perfect bond of love, the happiness of each one will be infinitely multiplied by the happiness of the entire court of Heaven.”
– Bl. Cardinal Schuster (‘The Sacramentary’)

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“Child, life and death consist in loving God.”
– A revelation to Bl. Ossana of Mantua (aged 5)
‘to live is Christ; and to die is gain’
– Phil. 1:21

Jesus Lives On In The Church (Pt. 2): The Mystical Tradition

The_Pazzi_Crucifixion
God Deserves Infinite Praise

‘Great is the Lord,’
says the Psalmist, ‘and exceedingly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain’ (Ps. 47:2). Truly, God is worthy of infinite praise: ‘exalt Him as much as you can: for He is above all praise’ (Ecclus. 43:33). How then are we to praise God adequately?

The Chalice of Salvation
The answer is simple: unite yourself to Christ; live by His life (1 Jn. 4:9), by His hidden, Eucharistic life. There is no other way: ‘What shall I render to the Lord, for all the things He hath rendered unto me? I will take the Chalice of Salvation; and I will call upon the Name of the Lord’ (Ps. 115:12-13).

God Alone Can Praise God Worthily
God alone can praise Himself sufficiently. For this reason, God was made man; to this end He established the Church (‘the City of our God’), which offers to Him, upon her Altars (‘His holy mountain’), the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that is, the perfect ‘sacrifice of praise’ (Ps. 115:17), which mystically renews the offering of Christ on Calvary:

‘For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, My Name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for My Name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts’ (Mal. 1:11).

God is ALL
To reiterate: ‘What shall we be able to do to glorify Him? for the Almighty Himself is above all His works’ (Ecclus. 43:30). Be a host. Thus we shall realise, in full, the prayer of Jeremiah: ‘Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed: save me, and I shall be saved, for THOU ART MY PRAISE’ (Jer. 17:14). This is the key to Christianity:

‘Sing to the Lord,
in union with His Bride, the Church, Who lives by His life,
O ye His saints: and,
through the Holy Mysteries,
give infinite praise,
through Christ, the God-Man,

to the memory of His infinite holiness.’

– Ps. 29:5 (the words in italics are mine)

************

SOME REVELATIONS ON THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS AND THE MOST BLESSED SACRAMENT

(1) A Vision of St. Hildegarde of Bingen
“As I gazed upon this Flesh and Blood I saw the signs of the Incarnation, the Birth, the Passion, of Our Saviour reflected in them as in a mirror, and just as we know these events to have been accomplished when the Son of God was on earth.” (‘Scivias’)

(2) Another Revelation of St. Hildegard of Bingen
Words of the Eternal Father: “Hence these mysteries shine before Me in the Heavenly places; for I have not forgotten them, but they will appear before Me in great brightness, like the dawn, until the end of the world.” (‘Scivias’)

Bl. Columba Marmion: “Doubtless we must never forget that under the Eucharistic species is found only the substance of the glorious Body of Jesus, such as it is at present in Heaven, and not such as it was, for example, in the crib of Bethlehem.
But when the Father looks upon His Son Jesus in the Heavenly splendours, what does He behold in Him? He sees the One Who lived thirty-three years upon earth for us; He beholds all the mysteries that this mortal life contained, the satisfactions and the merits whereof these mysteries were the source; He beholds the glory that His Son gave Him in living each of them.” (‘Christ in His Mysteries’)

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St. Gertrude in ecstasy

(3) A Revelation to St. Gertrude the Great
“It is related in the life of St. Gertrude, that one day, on the Festival of the Ascension, when she received the Sacred Host from the hand of the priest, she heard Jesus say to her: ‘Behold Me: I come, not to bid thee farewell, but to take thee with Me to Heaven, and present thee to My Father.'” (‘Christ in His Mysteries’)

Jesus Lives On in the Church (Pt. 1): The Theological Tradition

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St. Peter of Alcantara, in ecstasy, being drawn to Christ, the ‘Sun of Justice’ (Mal. 4:2)


The Church: An Infinite Treasure to Men

The Catholic Church, cleansed and adorned with ‘the Precious Blood of Christ, as of a Lamb unspotted and undefiled’ (1 Pt. 1:19), is ‘an infinite treasure to men’ (Wis. 7:14); she is ‘the body of Christ’ (1 Cor. 12:27), redeemed out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation’ (Apoc. 5:9). United to Jesus Christ, the ‘Head over all the Church’ (Eph. 1:22), ‘we are members of His body, of his flesh, and of his bones’ (Eph. 5:30). He is ‘our Everlasting Saviour’ (Bar. 4:22), Who, having loved us ‘with an everlasting love’ (Jer. 31:3), is ‘always living to make intercession for us’ (Heb. 7:25).

Christ: The Life of the Church
If we seek to be saved; if we seek the grace of God in abundance, we have but one thing to do: we have but to cling to the Church, our Mother. We must understand that the prayer of Christ, Who ardently prayed ‘that they may be ONE’ (Jn. 17:11), is not something vague or remote; on the contrary, Jesus continues to live in and through His Church; He continues to offer Himself on its Altars, drawing all men to Himself (Jn. 12:32).

The Eucharist: The Sacrament of Love and Union
In His “unwearying, unconquerable love” (St. John Henry Newman), Christ ‘loved the Church, and delivered Himself up for it’ (Eph. 5:25). And why? To the end that He might espouse Himself to the Church in the eternal nuptials of Paradise, of which the Holy Eucharist is both a sign and a pledge: ‘THIS IS MY BODY (Mt. 26:26)… I WILL ESPOUSE THEE TO ME FOR EVER’ (Osee 2:19).

The Prayer of the Bride
We cannot measure His love for His Bride, which lives by His very life (cf. 1 Jn. 4:9). The more intimately we are united with the Church, which is animated by His Spirit, the more surely will our prayers be heard. “The Prayer of the Church,” writes Dom Gueranger, on account of its intimate union with Jesus Christ, is “… the most pleasing to the ear and heart of God, and therefore the most efficacious of all prayers. Happy, then, is he who prays with the Church, and unites his own petitions with those of this Spouse, who is so dear to her Lord, that he gives her all she asks…

‘… shew me thy face, let thy voice sound in my ears: for thy voice is sweet, and thy face comely.’
– Cant. 2:14

It is… Jesus Christ himself who is the source as well as the object of the Liturgy; and hence the Ecclesiastical Year… is neither more nor less than the manifestation of Jesus Christ, and his Mysteries, in the Church and the faithful soul.

“Indeed, although Christ is no longer upon earth, although the historical reality of His mysteries has gone by, He ever remains our Head and the virtue of His actions and of His life is ever fruitful.”
– Bl. Columba Marmion

It is the divine Cycle, in which appear all the works of God, each in its turn; the Seven Days of the Creation; the Pasch and Pentecost of the Jewish people; the ineffable Visit of the Incarnate Word; His Sacrifice and His Victory; the Descent of the Holy Ghost; the Holy Eucharist*; the surpassing glories of the Mother of God, ever a Virgin; the magnificence of the Angels; the merits and triumphs of the Saints.

*“This Sacrament embraces the entire mystery of our salvation.”
St. Thomas Aquinas

… Happy indeed should we deem ourselves, if we could make the faithful understand the grand glory which is given to the Blessed Trinity, to our Saviour, to Mary, to the Angels, and to the Saints, by this annual commemoration of the wondrous works of our God!

‘He hath made a remembrance of His wonderful works, being a merciful and gracious Lord.’ (Ps. 110:4)

If, every year, the Church renews her youth as that of the eagle, she does so because, by means of the Cycle of the Liturgy, she is visited by her divine Spouse, who supplies all her wants. Each year she again sees him an Infant in the manger, fasting in the desert, offering himself on the Cross, rising from the grave, founding his Church, instituting the Sacraments, ascending to the right hand of his Father, and sending the Holy Ghost upon men. The graces of all these divine mysteries are renewed in her; so that, being made fruitful in every good thing, the mystic Garden yields to the Spouse, in every season, under the influence of the spirit he breathes into her, the sweet perfume of aromatic spices.

“… Jesus lives the reality of His mysteries in us, and when we have faith, and rest lovingly united to Him, He draws us with Him, making us partakers of the virtue proper to each of these states. Each year, as the soul follows the Liturgical cycle, it shares ever more intimately in these mysteries, and is identified more and more with Christ, with His thoughts, His feelings, His life.”
– Bl. Columba Marmion (p. 319, ‘Christ the Ideal of the Monk’)

… Now, what the Liturgical Year does for the Church at large, it does also for the soul of each one of the faithful that is careful to receive the gift of God. This succession of mystic seasons imparts to the Christian the elements of that supernatural life, without which every other life is but a sort of death, more or less disguised.” (Dom Gueranger, ‘The Liturgical Year,’ vol. I)

 

The Devil’s Greatest Enemy (Pt. 3): Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces

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PHOTO: An edited copy of a painting belonging to Ven. Marthe Robin (d. 1981). The words, ‘Marie Mediatrice’ (Mary, Mediatrix), interestingly, were the last intelligible words of the great Cardinal Mercier (d. 1926), who died shortly after offering the Mass of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces. There is much more to the story…

The Enemy of the Woman: A Roaring Lion
Lucifer is a ‘murderer from the beginning’ (Jn. 8:44), the Father of Lies, who, full of malice and hatred, ‘as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour’ (1 Pt. 5:8). “I am a wretched creature,” he said to a Saint, “who cannot love.”

The Son of the Woman: A Consuming Fire
The Son of God and of Mary, on the other hand, seeks only to give Himself to souls, to consume us in that same Fire of infinite Love with which the Father loves Him – hence the Sacrament of His Love. His greatest sorrow is when we hinder His Divine action, when we place obstacles before ‘the perfect Will of God’ (Rom. 12:2), which seeks only to gather up souls and ‘take them up in His Bosom’ (Is. 40:11).

The Handmaid That Is All-Powerful Over Hell
Lucifer is bent on destruction; seething with hatred for all that he has lost, he turns his hatred against the souls created in God’s image. But he is no match for God, ‘for all things are possible with God’ (Mk. 10:27). ‘Who,’ says St. Michael the Archangel, ‘is like God?’

Nor is he a match for Mary, who, as we have seen in the two previous posts, has been chosen by God to crush the head of the ancient Serpent. She is the New Eve; she is the helper of Christ, the New Adam.

We cannot fathom the power of Mary’s intercession. Would you like, nevertheless, to know something of it? Then consider the following: Mary is the instrument of “the instrument of the Divinity” (St. John Damascene).

What does this mean? It means that Jesus took His Sacred Humanity (the instrument of the Divinity) from Mary – namely, that immaculate Flesh and Blood which He gave ‘for the life of the world’ (Jn. 6:51). What dignity, what sublime prerogatives must then belong to Mary, if, as St. Leonard of Port Maurice writes, “our good and loving Master promised us in the Gospel that for a cup of cold water, given in His Name, He will bestow the Kingdom of Heaven” (cf. Mk 9:40; Mt. 10:42)! It is one thing to give a cup of water in His Name; it is quite another to give Him that Immaculate Body by which He would work all His miracles, and through which all grace descends to man! This is that Divine Masterpiece that was fitted for Him (cf. Heb. 10:5) and fashioned by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin (cf. Lk. 1:35; Ps. 18:6) ‘in the day of His espousals, and in the day of the joy of His Heart’ (Cant. 3:11).

Krzewgorejący
Mary: Mediatrix of All Graces
“Every grace,” writes St. Bernardine of Siena, “that is communicated to this world has a threefold course. For by excellent order, it is dispensed
(1) from God to Christ,
(2) from Christ to the Virgin,
(3) from the Virgin to us.”

The dignity of Mary is truly impenetrable to our limited minds; her greatness is, to quote St. Thomas, “quasi-infinite.” No, He is not exaggerating. Just ask yourself: What greater dignity could God bestow on Mary than that which He has already been pleased to bestow?

It is because Mary is Mother of God, and, by extension, the true ‘Mother of all the Living’ (Gen. 3:20) – that is, in the spiritual order – that she is necessarily the Mediatrix of All Graces. Were this not the case, she would not truly be ‘full of grace’ (Lk. 1:28), nor would the Church, which exists mystically in her virginal womb (cf. Cant. 7:2; Jn. 16:21; Ps. 86:5, etc.), have access to ‘every best gift, and every perfect gift’ (James 1:17) from on high.

In a word, if Mary is not Mediatrix of All Graces, how shall Christ be begotten in souls? How shall we attain to ‘the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ’ (Eph. 4:13)? Do we not know that Jesus has but one Mother, not only physically but also mystically? One is my dove, my perfect one is but one, she is the only one of her mother, the chosen of her that bore her’ (Cant. 6:8).

The Testimony of Saints, Mystics, Scholars
Suffice to say, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Veronica Giuliani, Bl. Anna Maria Taigi, Bl. Dina Belanger, Ven. Marthe Robin, Mother Magdalene of Jesus (Palmyre Ryckaert), Sr. Mary of the Holy Trinity, among many other mystics, did not invent this doctrine, nor did St. Alphonsus, St. Bernard, St. Ildeponsus or anyone else. Conversely, it is all there in the Scriptures, if only one is willing to receive the Word from her who gave Him to us – namely, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who says to us: In me is all grace of the WAY and of the TRUTH, in me is all hope of LIFE and of virtue’ (Ecclus. 24:25).

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Ven. Marthe Robin

The Devil’s Most Hated Books
This all brings us to an interesting question: What books does Satan hate most? Generally speaking, he despises all that is holy, all that leads us to ‘the Way, and the Truth, and the Life’ (Jn. 14:6). It is precisely for this reason that he hates books that give praise to our Blessed Mother, for she, more than all the other Saints combined, draws us to the Blessed Fruit of her womb. This is the teaching of St. Bonaventure, among others.

Now, it is obvious enough that the Devil hates the Scriptures; but, more specifically, which Scriptures does he particularly detest? How about John, Chapter 6, which speaks of the Sacrament of Love and Unity? Absolutely. The Psalms? No doubt. But the Devil has a unique hatred for the following books of the Bible (among others):
+ Esther
+ Judith
+ Ecclesiasticus
+ Wisdom.

Why is this? It is because these inspired Books speak so forcefully, so highly, and so frequently of his sworn enemy – that is, ‘the Woman’ (Gen. 3:15; Jn. 2:4; Jn. 16:21; Jn. 19:26 Apoc. 12:1), who will crush his head! Do not be fooled: the Reformation did not give us the complete set of inspired texts; on the contrary, it presented us with an incomplete revelation of God and of the Divine Plan. No Bible is complete without the aforementioned Books (or, in the case of Esther, the complete Book).

Two other books that are much hated by Hell are St. Louis de Montfort’s classic, ‘True Devotion to Mary,’ as well as the abridged version of this book, ‘The Secret of Mary.’ The demons tried to destroy the former, as St. Louis de Montfort prophesied; the latter was brought by Our Lady herself to Ven. Marthe Robin, to whom she communicated her desire that this book spread across the globe. Indeed it has. But not enough.

Concluding Words…
Listen to Our Lord’s words from the Cross: ‘BEHOLD THY MOTHER’ (Mt. 12:47). Take note that these words are not qualified by any further statement. Why? Because we are always to keep our eyes on Mary. She has only Love for her children. To give us her Son is her sole purpose and joy. She it is, above all others, who will help us to taste and see that the Lord is sweet’ (Ps. 33:9); her ‘spirit is sweet above honey and her ‘inheritance above honey and the honeycomb’ (Ecclus. 24:27). Do not hesitate to give yourself to her without reserve: ‘Her ways are beautiful ways, and all her paths are peaceable’ (Prov. 3:17).

[N.B. This year, Pentecost Sunday happens to fall on May 31, which is the traditional date for the Feast of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces. It is also the 99th anniversary of said Feast being established.]

A Quick Anecdote
About 2 months ago, it occurred to me that Romans 8:32 could reasonably be applied to Mary. Later that evening, I opened a Marian devotional work from the 19th century and found the very text applied to Mary by St. Albert the Great. Coincidence? Somehow I think not.

‘SHE that spared not even HER own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how hath SHE not also, with Him, given us all things?’
– Rom. 8:32

 

 

The Devil’s Greatest Enemy (Pt. 2): Mary, the New Judith

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‘Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O thou most mighty.’
– Ps. 44:4

“Judith is one of the types of Mary, who crushed the head of the serpent.”
– Dom Gueranger, OSB

Our portrait of the Mother of God – not to mention our portrait of the Church, of which she is Mother – will be radically incomplete if we lack knowledge of the Old Testament types/figures of Mary. The book of Judith, for instance, as with the book of Esther, will be of little use to us if we do not see in them a mirror of Mary. Let us look, then, at some central passages in the book of Judith, bearing in mind that Mary, the true Judith, surpasses all her types: ‘Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all’ (Prov. 31:29). “She has surpassed all the daughters (Saints) in nature, in grace, in glory. She has surpassed all the souls of men, all the intelligences of Angels” (St. Bonaventure).

N.B. Under each subheading below, the first verse is taken from the book of Judith, while the second (relevant) verse is taken from another Book of the Scriptures. Pay close attention to the clear connections with Mary’s Magnificat (in red).

THE BOOK OF JUDITH: A FORESHADOWING OF MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS

+ CHAPTER 13

Leads Us Into the Church
Judith: ‘Open the gates, for God is with us, Who hath shown His power in Israel.’ (v. 13)
‘Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates…’. (Prov. 8:34)

Loved and Honoured by All
‘And all ran to meet her from the least to the greatest…’ (v. 15)
‘And in the midst of her own people she shall be exalted…’ (Ecclus. 24:3; cf. Prov. 31:28)

The Spouse of Mercy Incarnate
Judith: ‘And by me His handmaid He hath fulfilled His mercy, which He promised to the house of Israel: and He hath killed the enemy of His people by my hand this night.’ (v. 18)
Mary: ‘He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy.’ (Lk. 1:54)

Immaculate
Judith: ‘And the Lord hath not suffered me His handmaid to be defiled: but hath brought me back to you without pollution of sin, rejoicing for His victory, for my escape, and for your deliverance.’ (v. 20)
‘Thou art all fair, O My love, and there is not a spot in thee.’ (Cant. 4:7)

The Instrument by Which Hell is Conquered
‘The Lord hath blessed thee by His power, because by thee He hath brought our enemies to nought.’ (v. 22)
Mary: ‘He hath showed might in His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble.’ (Lk. 1:51-52)

Greater than All Those Who Prefigured Her
‘Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth.’ (v. 23)
‘Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all.’ (Prov. 31:29)

Always to be Praised
‘Because He hath so magnified thy name this day, that thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men who shall be mindful of the power of the Lord, for ever…’ (v. 25)
Mary: ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord… behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.’ (Lk. 1:46, 48)

Laid Down Her Life for Us
‘… thou hast not spared thy life, by reason of the distress and tribulations of thy people; but hast prevented our ruin in the presence of our God.’ (v. 25)
Prophecy of Simeon: ‘And thy own soul a sword shall pierce…’ (Lk. 2:35)

Deserving of Reverence
‘… he [Achior] fell down at her feet, and reverenced her…’ (v. 30)
‘And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.’ (Lk. 1:41)

Gives Life to the Elect
‘Blessed art thou by thy God in every tabernacle of Jacob…’ (v. 31)
‘Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in My elect.’ (Ecclus. 24:13)

Her Soul Magnifies The Lord
‘… in every nation which shall hear thy name, the God of Israel shall be magnified on occasion of thee.’ (v. 31)
‘My soul doth magnify the Lord… O magnify the Lord with me: and let us extol His Name together.’ (Lk. 1:46; Ps. 33:4)

+ CHAPTER 14

Leads Us Into Battle
Judith: ‘… let every man take his arms: and rush ye out, not as going down beneath, but as making an assault.’ (v. 2)
‘Thy neck is as the tower of David, which is built with bulwarks: a thousand bucklers hang upon it, all the armour of valiant men.’ (Cant. 4:4)

+ CHAPTER 15

The Glory of the Heavenly Jerusalem
‘… they all blessed her with one voice saying: Thou art the glory of Jerusalem…’ (v. 10)
‘God is wonderful (gloriosus) in His Saints: the God of Israel is He Who will give strength and power to His people.’ (Ps. 67:36)

The Joy of the Church
‘… thou art the joy of Israel…’ (v. 10)
‘The dwelling in thee is as it were of all rejoicing.’ (Ps. 86:7)

The Honour of Our Race
‘… thou art the honour of our people.’ (v. 10)
Mary: ‘Because He that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is His Name.’ (Lk. 1:49)

Ever-Blessed
‘… the Lord hath strengthened thee, and therefore thou shalt be blessed for ever.’ (v. 11)
‘And among the blessed she shall be blessed…’ (Ecclus. 24:4; cf. Prov. 31:28)

+ CHAPTER 16

Glorifies the Holy Name of God
Judith: ‘… extol and call upon His Name.’ (v. 2)
‘… let us extol His Name together.’ (Ps. 33:4)

Visits Us With Her Divine Son
‘He hath set His camp in the midst of His people, to deliver us from the hand of all our enemies.’ (v. 4)
Zachary: ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: because He hath visited and wrought the redemption of His people… Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us.’ (Lk. 1:68, 71)

The First to Intone the New Canticle*
Judith: ‘… let us sing a new hymn to our God.’ (v. 15)
‘Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: because He hath done wonderful things.’ (Ps. 97:1)
* This fact deserves a post of its own. Given time, I will write something brief at some stage.

Invites us all to serve God
Judith: ‘Let all Thy creatures serve Thee…’ (v. 17)
Mary: ‘Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye.’ (Jn. 2:4)

Invites us to Fear of the Lord
Judith: ‘But they that fear Thee, shall be great with Thee in all things.’ (v. 19; cf. Ps. 33:10)
Mary: ‘And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him.’ (Lk. 1:50)

The New Sanctuary
‘And the people were joyful in the site of the sanctuary: and for three months the joy of this victory was celebrated with Judith.’ (v. 24)
‘And Mary abode with her [Elizabeth] about three months.’ (Lk. 1:56)

Most Renowned
‘… she was most renowned in all the land of Israel.’ (v. 25)
‘And in the multitude of the elect she shall have praise.’ (Ecclus. 24:4)

Perpetual Virgin
‘And chastity was joined to her virtue, so that she knew no man all the days of her life…’ (v. 26)
Mary: ‘How shall this be done, because I know not man?’ (Lk. 1:34)

Honoured Above All Saints in the Church’s Liturgy
‘And on festival days she came forth with great glory.’ (v. 27)
‘And a great sign appeared in Heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.’ (Apoc. 12.1)

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‘… there is great delight in her friendship,
and inexhaustible riches in the works of her hands…
love her, and she shall preserve thee…

forget not the groaning of thy Mother.’
(Wis. 8:18; Prov. 4:6; Ecclus. 7:29; cf. Jn. 16:21, Apoc. 12:2)

What is the Ultimate Reason for the Incarnation?

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Why Was The Word Made Flesh?

To what end did the second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, in all things equal to the Father (cf. Heb. 1:3, Jn. 3:35, Jn. 10:30 etc.), become man (Jn. 1:14)? Was it to call ‘sinners to penance’ (Lk. 5:32)? Was it that we ‘may not remain in darkness’ (Jn. 12:49), but rather that we might see (Lk. 9:39)? Was it to bring us to the ‘Bosom of the Father’ (Jn. 1:18; Ps. 18:6, Vulgate)? Yes: the Word became Flesh for all these reasons. ‘For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself…’ (2 Cor. 5:19)

But that is not all.

Love Seeks Union
While it is true that God desires ‘all men to be saved’ (1 Tim. 2:4), He does not will that we merely be saved; it is not enough, in an of itself, for a love like His, that we be in a state of sanctifying grace; love seeks union, and the greater the love, the more sublime the union.

More than our reconciliation, then, God desires our sanctification – that is, the most complete reconciliation possible. He wants us to be one with Himself; He wants to consume us in His Word, in the fire of His Love. To adapt a well-known saying of St. Augustine, you might say that the Sacred Heart of Jesus is restless until It rests in us. ‘My son, give me thy heart! … I thirst!’ (Prov. 23:26; Jn. 19:28)

Aim Higher
“I’ll be lucky to get to Purgatory!” some say. But that is not enough. It is in affront to Divine Love to hope for anything less than the greatest intimacy with God (‘Be ye perfect…’ – that is, all His). Why so? Because God, as infinite and undivided Love, has given Himself to us without reserve (cf. Rom. 8:32); He is a ‘jealous God’ (Deut. 4:24), Who created us for one thing: Love. “I alone,” said Our Lord to St. Mechtilde, “can fill the heart of man.” Creatures, He further explained, cannot satisfy us, nor can any number of earthly goods, for they are less than man; they were created for us, not we for them.

To love us: this is His great joy, His solace, His glory. How He thirsts for our love! ‘If thou didst know the gift of God, and Who He is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou perhaps wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water’ (Jn. 4:10).

God: Our Common Vocation
Think about it: the God-Man, in Whose Sacred Heart is contained an infinite ocean of love, thirsts for our love! How He longs – He Who ’emptied Himself’ (Phil. 2:7) – to pour Himself out upon us, thereby giving us to share, with Him, in an ineffable communion with the Most Blessed Trinity: As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in My love. (Jn. 15:9) “[T]he works of grace,” writes Ven. Juan G. Arintero OP, “since they make us enter into the joy of the Lord, into the intimate and secret life of the Divinity, and into friendly and familiar fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, raise us up to a participation in those ineffable communications which are effected ad intra, in the very Bosom of God.” (quoted in ‘Cradle of Redeeming Love’ by John Saward)

What a vocation! ‘I press towards the mark, to the prize of the supernal VOCATION OF GOD in Christ Jesus.’ (Phil. 3:14) St. Therese was right: “MY VOCATION IS LOVE!” ‘God is Love.’

This brings us to the answer to our initial question: What is the ultimate reason for the Incarnation? The answer?

The Ultimate Reason for The Incarnation
We will let Our Lord speak:

+ ‘I am come THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE, and may have it more abundantly… UNTO THE PRAISE OF THE GLORY OF HIS GRACE.’ (Jn. 10:10; Eph. 1:6)

And what is this Life of which our Saviour speaks? It is His own Life:

+ ‘By this hath the charity of God appeared towards us, because God hath sent His only begotten Son into the world, THAT WE MAY LIVE BY HIM.’ (1 Jn. 4:9)

There is the answer: Our Lord came that we might live ‘THROUGH HIM, AND WITH HIM, AND IN HIM’ for the Father’s glory (cf. Per ipsum of the Mass; Eph. 1:3-10).

This all brings us to the means by which God effects this sublime union: the Adorable Eucharist.

The Sacrament of Love
As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth Me, the same also shall live by Me. (Jn. 6:58)
That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in me, and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.
And the glory which Thou hast given Me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as We also are One: I in them, and Thou in Me; THAT THEY MAY BE MADE PERFECT IN ONE: and the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved Me.’ (Jn. 17:21-23)

“My beloved,” said Our Lord to Sister Catherine Agnes Planche, “I wish you to love Me with the same love that I have eternally for My Father.”

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‘For by ONE OBLATION He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.’
– Heb. 10:14

Ven. Louis de Blois: Thoughts on Paradise

Below you will find a compilation of quotes on the topic of Paradise. These have been taken from different works by Ven. Louis de Blois (principally ‘Spiritual Works of Louis of Blois, Abbot of Liesse,’ R & T Washbourne, 1903).

As a preliminary consideration, it will be worthwhile to reflect on a spiritual light given to St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi. She learnt that, whereas earthly pleasures, being less than man, enter into him, the joys of Paradise, conversely, are so much greater than man, that he enters into them. Earthly joys, she writes, are like a glass of water; heavenly, like a limitless ocean. St. Thomas concurs with this thought, as do all other theologians, at least implicitly; impelled, as they are, by the inexorable laws of sound philosophy. ‘Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord’ (Mt. 25:21).

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THOUGHT ON PARADISE:
Putting Things in Perspective: The Depths of Mary’s Joy
In fact, if all the joys of the world, all peace, all delights and pleasures were gathered into one, they would appear mere bitterness compared with the least joy that the Blessed Virgin possessed.

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The Company of Countless Angels and Saints
We shall enjoy for ever the society of Mary, the Mother of God, most beautiful, most sweet, most kind, most lovable, of the holy angels and the other citizens of heaven, and we shall know them all right well as our friends… Each one distinctly and perfectly knows every one of the citizens of heaven, and abounds with every sort of riches, delight and joy… [We shall be blessed to] behold the most Blessed Mother of God, to join the chorus of Angels, to have perpetual fellowship with the holy Patriarchs and Prophets, with the holy Apostles and Martyrs, with the holy Confessors and Virgins: to know all the citizens of heaven, and to rejoice with each of them in their eternal happiness.

‘Better is One Day in Thy Courts Above Thousands…’
Truly, that blessed heavenly country is our only fatherland; where an everlasting day always shineth forth, better far than a thousand days here below.

The Hour of Death: Man’s “Hour”
Happy is the hour, and most desirable the moment, when the heavenly Spouse joyfully meets the holy soul coming forth from the prison of the body with gentle words, and invites it, saying, “Arise, make haste, my love. For winter is now past, the rain is over and gone. Flowers have appeared in our land; the vines in flower yield their sweet smell, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land” (Cant. ii. 10, 11, 12). Come forth with joy, most dear daughter: tremble not, nor be afraid; thou art brought out of exile, thou leavest the miseries of the calamitous world. For “nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow, shall be any more” (Apoc. xxi. 4). Henceforth, the corruptible body shall not weigh down the soul: for when thou art admitted into the joy of thy Lord, thou shalt rejoice for ever in the gift of immortality.

No Need for Food and Drink
They who shall possess God will not need corruptible food and drink, for they will be full of God. God will be to them, food and drink, and whatsoever they can desire; they will have all things in Him, with whose vision they will be filled.

Endless Desire, Endless Satisfaction
They will ever see Him, and ever be satisfied; and they will desire ever to see Him, and ever to be satisfied. They will desire without anxiety, and they will have their fill without satiety.

Beauty Incomparable
Thy gates shine with choice pearls; thy streets are paved with the purest gold; thy walls are bright with most precious stories. In thee, delicious gardens and pleasant vales are ever fresh; in thee, perennial flowers and violets continually flourish; in thee, the cinnamon and balsam incessantly breathe forth an ineffable odour of sweetness; in thee, all kinds of beautiful things abound without fading, remain without passing away, exist without corruption, are eternal without change. In thee is a climate temperate and serene, beyond all human conception; in thee, are peace and repose surpassing all imagination; in thee, is eternal day, and one life in all; in thee, is certain security, and secure eternity, and eternal tranquillity, and tranquil happiness, and happy sweetness, and sweet joy: in thee shall the just shine as the sun (Matth. xiii. 43).

Absolutely Nothing is Lacking
No one can seek, or desire, or love anything, which he will not find in thee. That only which is nothing worth, is not in thee. Oh, what an ocean of unalloyed bliss, what a torrent of unmixed joy, what an abyss of purest delight is it to see the God of gods in Sion (Psalm Ixxxiii. 8), to discern that incomprehensible glory of the Most Holy Trinity: clearly to contemplate that surpassing fairness, perfectly to taste that ineffable sweetness, from whence flows out all the beauty and sweetness of created things…

A Land Free of Every Affliction
… there is no infirmity, no corruption, no fear, no thoughts, no anxiety, no grief, no poverty, no affliction, no sorrow or misery (Apoc. xxi. 4). There wilt thou most happily enjoy that supreme and unchangeable Good, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of mortal man (1 Cor. ii. 9).

Like Iron Cast into the Fire
For thou shalt clearly see the glorious Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the One supremely desirable God. Thou will be in God and God will be in thee in a most excellent manner. Being thus united to God, thou wilt perfectly taste the sweetness of His goodness, and wilt be utterly inebriated with the torrent of divine delights (Psal. xxxv. 9). Thou wilt then most fully know and feel, with what immense love He has loved thee from all eternity.

The Lamb is the Lamb Thereof
Filled with unspeakable and incomprehensible joy, thou wilt behold the Human Face of thy Beloved Jesus, which is verily all gracious, glorious, and sweet; for His beauty and fairness far surpass all that can in this life be wished for or desired.

Beauty, Peace, Truth
There, all are adorned with incorruptible beauty, and enjoy an imperturbable peace. There all are ever glorified by the serene light of the Godhead, and obtain full knowledge of the truth.

God Possesses All Perfections Perfectly
Thou needst not fear lest any of those things which please thee here should be absent. For all the beauty, elegance, sweetness, grace, perfection, and excellence that can here be found in all creatures, exist there most exuberantly and superessentially. In short, there is the influx of every good.

33 Forever
We shall all rise again at the age at which the Lord Jesus was when He died for us. The old man of a hundred years and the infant of one night old will be of the same stature. And although the good may now be lame, or blind, or deformed; yet they will then rise again sound, whole, fair, beautiful, and free from every blemish.

The Glory of the Risen Body
The bodies of the elect will then emit a most sweet odour, and will be seven times more brilliant than the sun, since the glory of their souls will penetrate them. They will also be impassible, so that they can suffer no injury. And they will be endowed with such agility that wherever the soul may wish to be, thither it will in a moment transport the body. They will moreover be so subtle that they will penetrate solid and thick substances with less difficulty than the light of the sun penetrates glass.

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Justice at Last
Then, indeed, the Saints, who during the winter of this exile, like trees stripped of all adornment, appeared lowly and were esteemed barren, will be clothed with unspeakable glory and beauty, and will flourish like palm-trees for ever and ever.

The Power of Praise: A Sublime Revelation Given to St. Mechtilde

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A Sublime Revelation to St. Mechtilde

On a certain day, while the Benedicite* was being sung in choir, Our Lord addressed these words to St. Mectilde:

“Whenever anyone sings that hymn, or a similar one [e.g. Psalms 148 – 150] in which all creatures are summoned to praise God, those creatures all come spiritually into My presence and praise Me for that person and for all men in general for all the benefits I have given them.” (Pt. 3, Ch. 7)

[*i.e. The Benedicite. This is a text based on Chapter 3 of the book of Daniel, the first verse of which is: ‘BENEDICITE omnia opera Domini, Domino: All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord.’]

A Biblical Foundation
If this seems far-fetched, listen to St. Paul:

For all things are yours,
whether it be Paul, or Apollo, or Cephas,
or the world,
or life,
or death,
or things present,
or things to come;
for all are yours;
and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.’
1 Cor. 3:22-23

And yet again:

‘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

This ought to be the source of all our confidence! The treasury of Christ’s riches are ours! We access these riches by faith. This explains Our Lord’s words to St. Mechtilde: “CONFIDENCE BY ITSELF CAN EASILY OBTAIN ALL THINGS.”

A Model of Confidence
There are many: St. Therese, Bl. Columba Marmion, St. Gertrude, Sr. Benigna Consolata, St. Gemma Galgani, etc. But let’s take another example: Mechtilde of Magdeburg (another holy Mechtilde). “She took all Christendom,” writes Bl. Columba Marmion, “in the arms of her soul to present it to the Eternal Father that it might be saved.
‘Let be,’ said Our Lord to her, ‘it is too heavy for thee.’
‘No, Lord,’ replied the Saint, ‘I will lift it up and bear it to Thee with Thine own Arms, that so Thou mayest bear it Thyself upon the Cross.’

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“This Divine Life that Jesus possesses personally and in its plenitude, He wills to communicate and lavish upon us:
I am come that they may have life,
and may have it more abundantly.”

– Bl. Columba Marmion

 

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”
!

‘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