Our Friends, the Saints

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St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome

‘And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head…’

– Hebrews 12:1

The doctrine of the Communion of Saints is a most consoling one. At any time, and in any place, we may address any of the saints as if they were right beside us. They are not indifferent to our sufferings, our needs, our requests, our desire for friendship. On the contrary, they are ever attentive to our needs; like iron cast into the fire, the Elect burn with the same love that constitutes the very essence of God; and like Him, Who seeks to draw all souls to Himself, the saints are always looking for chances to help us, ‘not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance’ (2 Peter 3:9).

Some – usually citing 1 Tim. 2:5 – say that it is useless or even blasphemous to seek the saints’ intercession. This is a sad error. To pray “to” the saints, as St. Alphonsus assures us, “is not derogatory to the honour due to God, but it is doubling it; for it is honouring the king not only in His Person but in His servants.

“It is good and useful to invoke them by supplication, and to fly to their aid and assistance to obtain benefits from God through his Son Jesus Christ.”

– The Council of Trent, Sess. 25, De. inv. Sanct

Much more could be said.

An Easy Way to Meet the Saints

The Church teaches that the entire Heavenly Court is present at every Mass. All those saints you love to read about; all those relatives of yours’ who have died (in God’s grace) throughout the centuries; those loved ones who have gone before you… all of these, plus many more, are present at every Mass. They love you; talk to them. Offer the Mass for them! This was the practice of St. Gertrude, and the saints let her know how pleasing this offering was to them!

The Saints Participate in Every Mass

In the Revelations of St. Gertrude, we find many remarkable visions of the Mass. Here is but one of these gems (quoted in ‘The Blessed Eucharist: Our Greatest Treasure,’ by Fr. Michael Muller, C.S.S.P.):

“The Son of God then rose from His royal throne, and, turning towards God the Father, entoned the Gloria in excelsis, in a clear and sonorous voice. At the word gloria, He extolled the immense and incomprehensible omnipotence of God the Father; at the words in excelsis, He praised His profound wisdom; at Deo, He honored the inestimable and indescribable sweetness of the Holy Ghost. The whole celestial court then continued in a most harmonious voice, Et in terra pax hominibus bonai voluntatis.”

If only we could see what marvels take place at every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! … Still, we can see these things with the eyes of faith.

In Heaven, You Will be Known and Loved by the Entire Heavenly Court

“You will know my Saints, and each of them in particular.

You will have special relations with each, according to the measure in which you have contributed to increase their [accidental] glory.”

– Jesus to Sr. Gertrude Mary

[Much, much more could be said; but that is all I have time for. Please reflect upon these consoling truths, and your life will be forever changed.]

 

 

A Rose from St. Therese

[Last week’s post was destroyed by the re-format monster. This is the second attempt.]

Exactly two months ago, I arrived at the monastery, thus marking the beginning of my Benedictine postulancy. I won’t say too much about my experience; but I would like to briefly share one experience with you.

Adopted by St. Therese and Her Family

Fr. Paul of Moll once remarked that life is full of crosses, and that the easiest path – and the most fruitful – is to do everything for the love of God. The Cross, writes Bl. Dom Columba Marmion, is the root of all fecundity.

Before entering the monastery, I was well aware that I was going to encounter the Cross. I think it was Marcelline Pauper who had a vision of numerous crosses of shapes and sizes, which represented the trials and tribulations that were ahead of her. I think we can all relate to this.

For me, the biggest cross that I have faced in the last 2 months is homesickness. All I will say is this: I wept like a baby in an onion factory. Twice. Or was it thrice? I actually don’t remember; I was a mess. Jetlag doesn’t help either – especially when combined with fatigue, sorrow for one’s sins, and a longing for Heaven that cannot be satisfied in this valley of tears.

Amidst all this, I felt inspired to send up a prayer to St. Therese and her family. (I have been reading the Letters of St. Therese in my spare time, and I must confess my love for St. Therese and her family; they are so pure in their faith, so affectionate, so simple, and so loving).

As I was lying on my bed one day, homesick (though to a much lesser extent than previously!), and reading the Letters of St. Therese, I felt inspired to offer one year of Masses in honour of St. Therese, her recently canonized parents, and her entire family. Immediately after making this intention and offering it to God and these holy souls, I felt inspired to  ask St. Therese and her siblings to adopt me as their little brother. I also asked St. Louis and St. Zelie to adopt me as their son. Then I forgot about it.

‘Longing to Belong’

The following day, I was in the scriptorium/library, which is home to some 3000 books (a rough estimate). I didn’t have much time for reading, so I picked up a random book that caught my eye, and started flicking hastily through the pages. A certain picture stood out. It was a beautiful photo of St. Therese and her family (actually it was a collection of photos that were framed under the heading, ‘Le Martin Familie’ or something French like that). I thought nothing of it at the time.

It was only later than night that I recalled my prayer the previous day. Then I considered the likelihood of stumbling upon a picture of the Martin family… in a book about a Benedictine monk.

“They have adopted me!” I thought. Now, you might think I jumped the gun a bit; but I experienced an overwhelming sense of joy at what seemed to be an answer to prayer.

Then the thought occurred to me: “Why is there a picture of the Martin family in a book about a Benedictine monk? … I wonder if he asked the Martin sisters to adopt him?” I don’t know why, but I half-expected the this. I wanted to check the book to find the answer, but I had to wait another day.

Thursday came, and I entered the scriptorium, full of anticipation and curiosity. I picked up the book (‘Longing to Belong: The Life of Dom Mayeul De Caigny’), and this is what I read:

“It is interesting to note that Sr. Marie du Sacre Coeur [Marie Martin, sister of St. Therese] always addresses Dom Mayeul [born March 29 – the day I arrived at the monastery] as her “brother.” At some early date, Dom Mayeul had asked the Martin sisters if they would accept him as their ‘adopted brother.’ The Martin family consisted of five girls, but no boys. They seemed very happy to welcome Dom Mayeul into the family circle as a surrogate ‘brother.’ (p. 348)

Long story, short: I was thrilled!

[I also discovered, one week later, that the day I made that prayer was May 17, the 91st anniversary of the canonization of St. Therese. How this little one looks after me! I expect the same from my new little family, too!]

That is all I have time for today!

+ Pax +

“Little Soul” Patron Saint for 2016 (“Jubilee of Mercy”)

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Soeur Gertrude-Marie (Sister Gertrude Mary) d. 1908 [This is a shot I took of the photo on her tomb in Angers, France, on December 26, 2015.]

(A quick word: I had an inspiring trip throughout Europe; I will write a little bit about it later. Thank you for your prayers!)

Patron Saint for 2016

Some of you will know of the holy tradition of choosing a patron saint for the year; perhaps some of you already have.

There is good reason to believe that we do not choose our “heavenly friends”; they choose us. This was the belief of Sr. Gertrude Mary, for example, and it is confirmed in the life of St. Faustina and many others.

The thought came to me recently to conduct a patron saint of the year selection of my own; but it will be somewhat unique. This patron saint program (if you could call it that) will include a selection OF “little souls” FOR “little souls.” In other words, the saints or holy souls that I will be choosing from will be little souls i.e. humble, childlike, confident souls…

We are all called to be “little  ones.” The saints are eager to help us; they want us to praise God with them, both here and hereafter. How eagerly must they desire to help us in this “Year of Mercy”, as proclaimed Providentially by Pope Francis I!

**How to Participate**

Simply leave your name (or initials, a pseudonym, or whatever you prefer) in the comments section, and I will announce the results tomorrow. You may leave several names if you wish to request a patron saint for several people.

I will pray very seriously before making these selections, which I will draw from a “hat.”

I encourage you to participate! The more, the merrier!

[Note: The “saints” that I will be choosing from are not necessarily canonized or Blessed etc. They have all been praised for their virtue, however, by many competent – and often holy – authorities. In no manner do I intend to undermine the authority and judgement of holy Mother Church.]

All you Saints and Angels, pray for us!

 

33 Church-approved Mystics

Below is a list of Church-approved mystics for your reading pleasure – and most importantly, for your spiritual edification.

Each of these mystics received more than a few private revelations. How inspiring, how reliable, how insightful are these revelations when compared with so many alleged revelations nowadays!

  1. Sr. Josefa Menendez
  2. St. Faustina
  3. Sr. Benigna Consolata
  4. Ven. Concepcion Cabrera de Armida
  5. Ven. Louise Margaret **
  6. Bl. Alexandrina da Costa
  7. Ven. Mary of Agreda
  8. Mother Yvonne-Aimée of Jesus **
  9. St. Teresa of Avila
  10. St. Catherine of Siena
  11. St. Hildegard von Bingen
  12. St. Bridget of Sweden
  13. St. Margaret of Cortona
  14. St. Gertrude
  15. St. Mechtilde
  16. Bl. Angela of Foligno
  17. Sr. Consolata Betrone
  18. Sr. Mary of the Holy Trinity
  19. St. Gemma Galgani
  20. Bl. Dina Belanger
  21. Sr. Marie-Catherine Putigny
  22. St. Crescentia
  23. St. Veronica Giuliani
  24. Bl. Battista Varani
  25. Mechtilde of Magdeburg
  26. St. Catherine of Genoa
  27. Bl. Elena Aiello
  28. Bl. Anna Maria Taigi
  29. Bl. Elizabeth Canori-Mora
  30. Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos
  31. Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich
  32. St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi
  33. St. Elizabeth of Hungary

The two mystics marked with a double asterisk are, to my knowledge, the only (individuals from the list) whose revelations cannot be found online. In the majority of cases, the mystics’ revelations can be found on archive.org

"Nigna, little Secretary of My love for My creatures, thou shalt write, others shall publishthy writings. Thine it is to taste the Gift of God in silence; others shall propagate these pages for the glory of God..."
- Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata

The Eucharist (part 1).

‘I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.’ (John 14:18)

One day, a certain nun made known to St. Teresa her desire to behold Our Lord. “I wish,” she said, “that I had lived at the time of Jesus Christ, my dear Saviour, for then I could have seen how amiable and lovely He is.”
“What!” responded St. Teresa; “do you not know, then, dear sister, that the same Jesus Christ is still with us on earth, that He lives quite near us, in our churches, on our altars, in the Blessed Sacrament?’” (Fr. Mueller, ‘The Blessed Sacrament’)

What a remarkable thought! Our Saviour “is as really present in the consecrated Host as He is in the glory of Heaven.” (St. Paschal Baylon). The same Divine Person we read of in the Scriptures, “dwells in our midst, in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.” (St. Maximilian Kolbe). There He waits for us, night and day; like the little red light beside the Tabernacle, His Sacred Heart burns with a constant desire to love us and be loved by us; He has given Himself to us without reserve, and hopes that we will do the same in return; despised, forgotten and neglected, He looks for someone who will console Him: ‘Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am overwhelmed: and I looked for sympathy, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.’ (Psalm 69:20).

“I love souls so much,” said Our Lord to St. Veronica Giuliani, “that I want the whole world to see and know it, so as to revive the memory of My Passion, and so that faith, that has grown so feeble among Christians, may be renewed. They are now Christians in name alone.”

If only we would think of Our Lord’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament; if only we would visit Him, we should soon become inflamed with love for Him. “You will find visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament very conducive to increase in you Divine Love.” (St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi). “Once, when she [St. Crescentia] was kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, immersing her own heart with great fervor in the Sacred Heart of her Divine Redeemer, as she often used to do, it appeared to her as if many brilliantly shining rays came from the Tabernacle and penetrated her heart; at the same time she seemed to hear these words: “These are the marks of My love towards you, with which I will inflame your heart and unite it to Mine.”

When will we open our hearts to Jesus, whose Heart was pierced for love of us? He seeks for nothing so much as to grant us His grace; His greatest sorrow is that we do not seek Him. ‘My son’ He says, ‘give Me thy heart’ (Proverbs 23:26). He extends the same invitation to His beloved daughters, for whom he laboured, suffered and died. “I am your Spouse,” said Jesus to St. Veronica Giuliani – “when will you make up your mind to love Me truly? I am all yours; I come to you to draw you to Myself; I come to you to make you one with Me; I come to you to change you completely into Myself.”

A great devotion to Our Eucharistic Lord is sure to make us saints. By the grace of God, and through the Intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, from whom Jesus took His flesh, may we come to share in the love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, which was, for the saints, a source of light, love, joy and salvation.

“WHY BELIEVE IN THE REAL PRESENCE?”

“This has always been the belief of the Church of God, that immediately after the consecration the true Body and the true Blood of Our Lord, together with His Soul and Divinity exist under the form of bread and wine.” (Council of Trent, Session XIII, 1st Decree, Ch. 3; Oct. 11, 1551).

‘He that hath ears to hear, let him hear’ (Matthew 11:15).
Since the 1st century AD, the doctrine of the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Eucharist has been unhesitatingly affirmed by the Church, Popes, Church Fathers, Saints, Mystics, and pious faithful everywhere.

“Since then He Himself declared and said of the Bread, ‘This is My Body’ (Luke 22:19), who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, ‘This is My Blood’, who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood?” (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical lecture 22)

The Saints had a profound love of the Eucharist. “For one Communion,” said St. Crescentia, “I would gladly suffer all the sicknesses of all mankind.” “Her [St. Crescentia] whole life,” remarked Sr. Gabriel, a fellow Sister in religion, “was spent in constant preparation for Holy Communion, and in thanksgiving for it.” “Her desire for Holy Communion was so intense,” said Sr. Raphael Miller, “that as the appointed time drew near for her to receive, every delay appeared to her intolerable.”

Like so many other Saints, St. Crescentia was inflamed with love for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, Who “…is the only one not to be thanked for the good He does.” (St. Peter Julian Eymard). She was neither a heretic nor an idolater: she did not worship a mere piece of bread; the Object of her love was God Himself, Who has declared: “I am the living bread which came down from Heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give, is My flesh, for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

As Frank Sheed says: “Every life is nourished by its own kind – the body by material food, the intellect by mental food. But the life we are now concerned with is Christ living in us (John 14:6; John 15:5; Galatians 2:20 etc.); the only possible food for it is Christ.” “Just as the bread and wine that nourish you pass into the substance of your body,” said the Eternal Father to St. Catherine of Siena, “in the same way when you feed upon Him, My Son, in the Blessed Sacrament, My Son, in the Blessed Sacrament, My Son, Who is one thing with Me, penetrates your spiritual substance under the appearances of bread and wine, and you are changed into Me.”

What unfathomable goodness and mercy! “Our Lord certainly deserves our gratitude for coming to us [in the Blessed Sacrament] and bringing us infinite treasures of grace.” (St. Peter Julian Eymard). The least He deserves is that we seek the truth regarding the Real Presence. If we seek Jesus with all our hearts, He will lead us to His Eucharistic Heart. ‘You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart.’ (Jeremiah 29:13). “Unbelief in the Eucharist is never a result of the evidence of the reasons advanced against this mystery.” (St. Peter Julian Eymard).

Tragically, Satan has successfully deprived a great number of Christians from the Bread of Life. The very Sacrament of union and love has become for many an Object of indifference. What lamentable ingratitude and ignorance! But this need not be the case. If only we open our hearts to the One who is Love and Truth, we will come to see the importance of the Holy Eucharist. That the Eucharist is instrumental in leading us to holiness, cannot be denied:

“A person whom, by a special permission of God, he [Satan] was allowed to harass very much and even drag about on the ground, was exorcised by a priest of our Congregation [the Redemptorists] and the devil was commanded to say whether or not Holy Communion was very useful and profitable to the soul. At the first and second interrogatory he would not answer, but the third time, being commanded in the name of the blessed Trinity, he replied with a howl: ‘Profitable! Know that if this person had not received Holy Communion so many times, we should have had her completely in our power.’ Behold, then, our great weapon against the devil! “Yes,” says the great St. John Chrysostom, “after receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, we become as terrible to the devil as a furious lion is to man.” (Fr. Mueller)

As St. Veronica Giuliani remarks, when we receive Communion with faith, love and purity of heart, “… God enriches her [the soul] with His graces to such an extent that she makes giant strides on the path of perfection.”

Let us draw close to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, who will be for us a friend, a Saviour, and a Spouse. Let us give Him the joy of making our soul His home and His throne. How it would please our heavenly Spouse if we followed the example of Bl. Elizabeth Canori. “One day, after Holy Communion, the adorable Saviour suddenly revealed Himself to her, and appeared to her seated in her heart as in the throne of His Love, and surrounded by a numerous court of angelic spirits; He added these words: ‘Oh, Jane Felicia (Jane Felicia of the Blessed Trinity was her religious name) of My Heart, it is My delight to communicate to you My own life; make it your happiness for Me to live in you.’”

The next article (i.e. part 2) will present us with 101 different “mystical” experiences of the Holy Eucharist in the lives of 101 different mystics.

Do We Value God’s Love As Our Only Good?

“I would a thousand times rather die than consent to anything which might displease Thee.”

– St. Veronica Giuliani

After reading the lives of the Saints, I am often left wondering: How is it that anyone could possess so much love?!

… After much prayer and consideration I am convinced that the only way to arrive at such love is to love. “We learn to love by loving,” says a Saint. And how exactly do we love God? By doing His will. And what is His will? Our Lord says the following: “Keep My commandments… Take up your cross and follow Me… Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart…”

Charity unites us to God, who is Love itself. The closer the bond, the greater our love. Love is not merely act of the will, nor does it consist in “headwork”, but rather it is “… the result of accepting generously all sacrifices, in accepting with a loving heart all trials” (Saudreau).

After having been purged of their sinful affections, the Saints were able to comprehend the most sublime spiritual truths. Sin appeared to them in all its vileness as nothing more than a detestable thorn in the side of their Beloved; worldly goods and honour were despised as temptations to pride, vanity and self-love, which stain the soul, displease God, and take us far from the narrow gate that leads to eternal life. “No more sin! No more sin!” cried out St. Catherine of Genoa. “Enough of sin! LOVE HIM! LOVE HIM!” exclaimed Bl. Alexandrina. These are the words of souls in love with God; souls who knew that sin has frightful consequences, and that it has nothing to offer us but emptiness; for where sin is, there God is not.

St. Paul was able to exclaim: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in Me.” These are the words of one who has reached a state of sublime union with God! These words are not fitting for one who takes delight in sin, however small. It is only in uniting our will with God’s will that we allow His love to act within us, to transform us, and to carve us into beautiful statues fit for the Garden of Paradise!

Jesus suffered excruciating torments for 33 years so that we might give ourselves entirely to Him, just as He offered Himself to us without reserve. We lose nothing by such generosity; on the contrary, we stand to gain eternal life, happiness, the conversion of sinners, peace, and something – or rather, Someone -truly worth living for:

***

“Do you not actually possess all things if you have Him who possess all? Nothing is wanting to him to whom God is present, nothing is lacking to him for whom Christ is all-sufficient.”

-Peter de Blois (Serm. 42, in fest. OMnium Sanct. II, col. 691)

***

Daily Meditation

As it is impossible to value something that we do not know, let us make a resolution to meditate for at least 15 mins a day (if we do not already do so) on God’s love for us. (All the Saints recommend this, and charity demands it, considering that God’s showers countless graces upon us each day)… We may consider the graces that He has bestowed upon us, what He suffered for us, the countless times He has drawn us from sin to repentance etc. etc.

Here are some pertinent words from a Saint: “When the Blessed Angela of Foligno asked God what she could do to please Him more, He vouchsafed to appear to her several times, both sleeping and waking, always as crucified on the cross, and He told her to look at His wounds, and then showed her, in a marvellous manner, how He had endured all those things for her; and lastly, He said,

“What then can you do for Me which would be enough?”

Another time, as the Bollandists relate, He appeared to her, and said,

“Whosoever wishes to find grace, let him never take his eyes from the cross, whether My providence be visiting him with sorrow, or with joy.”

God can only will what is best for us. We please Him greatly when we place no small value on His love, which is no less in times of adversity than in times of consolation. The truth is, God is the source of all good; the more we come to know the love of God, the more we will see that in Him is everything we need and could possibly desire:

“Give me your heart to place in mine in order that you will have no other love but for me and for the things that are mine.”

– Jesus to Bl. Alexandrina

Pax Domine!