Friday, September 01, 2006

I've been thinking today of God's divine plan for us; namely that of our right to happiness. We know that our God has placed many beautiful and desirable things in this world with the intention that we use them. Our nature is such that it gravitates towards the good in objects, therefore it's not even an issue of using the gifts bestowed by God; the question is how we make use of them. We can not take the position that since God has put them here, and since God wants us to be happy, there is no way to use His gifts in a displeasing or abusive manner. This is childish. Of course God's blessings to us, no matter how good in nature, can and will be misused. Man is not so wise, nor so steadfast as to follow the will of God throughout his entire existence. And if something exists, there is a way for it to be employed in a corrupt manner.
Since God has created us, our humanity, our amazing faculties, is it not His prerogative to place whatever stipulations He may wish upon his creation? It's true that He wants us to be happy, but that does not imply that we are free to be happy in any way we choose. Since there are many kinds of happiness, all of which can be obtained through various deportment on our part, God the creator has justly put restrictions on how we are to act; in other words, we are more than welcome to be happy, but on God's terms not ours. As strange as it may seem, this is for our happiness. They are safeguards to keep us favorable in God's sight, which is the only way to enjoy true happiness on earth, and never-ending bliss as our reward.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Weight of One Holy Mass

The following true story was related to Sister Mary Veronica Murphy by an elderly Nun, who heard it from the lips of the late Reverend Father Stanislaus, SS.CC.:

One day, many years ago, in a little town in Luxembourg, a Captain of the Forest Guards was in deep conversation with the butcher, when an elderly woman entered the shop. The butcher broke off the conversation to ask the old woman what she wanted. She had come to beg for a little meat but had no money. The Captain was amused at the conversation which ensued between the poor woman and the butcher.

"Only a little meat . . ."
"But how much are you going to give me?"
"I am sorry I have no money, but I'll hear Mass for you."

Both the butcher and the Captain were very good men, but very indifferent about religion, so they at once began to scoff at the old woman's answer.

"All right, then," said the butcher. "You go out and hear Mass for me, and when you come back, I'll give you as much meat as the Mass is worth."

The woman left the shop and returned later. She approached the counter and the butcher seeing her, said, "All right, then, we'll see."

He took a slip of paper and wrote on it, "I heard a Mass for you." He then placed the paper on the scale and a tine bone on the other side, but nothing happened. Next he placed a piece of meat instead of the bone, but still the paper proved heavier. Both men were beginning to feel ashamed of their mockery but continued their game. A large piece of meat was placed in the balanced, but still the paper held its own. The butcher, exasperated, examined the scales, but found they were all right.

"What do you want, my good woman? Must I give you a whole leg of mutton?"

At this, he placed the leg of mutton on the balance, but the paper outweighed the meat. A larger piece of meat was put on, but again the weight remained on the side of the paper. This so impressed the butcher that he was converted, and promised to give the woman her daily ration of meat.
As for the Captain, he left the shop a changed man, an ardent lover of daily Holy Mass. Two of his sons became Priests, one a Jesuit and the other a Father of the Sacred Heart.

Father Stanislaus finished by saying: "I am the religious of the Sacred Heart, and the Captain was my father."

From that incident the Captain became a daily Mass goer and his children were trained to follow his example. Later, when his sons became Priests, he advised them to offer Holy Mass well every day and never miss the Sacrifice through any fault of their own.

Source: Our Lady of the Rosary Library (email)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Evening Prayer

When at night, I lay me down,
God's protecting love I own.
Heart and hands to Him I raise,
for His gifts I give Him praise.
Forgive me, Lord, for Thy dear Son,
the ills that I this day have done;
And by His cross, my refuge sure,
preserve my soul from thoughts impure.
May holy angels while I sleep
their watchful guard around me keep.

from The Catholic Girl's Guide, by Fr. Lasance

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Origin of the Rosary

In order to understand how Our Lady's Holy Rosary came into its present form, let's go back to 12th century. The Albegensian Heresy, basically a re-birth of Manecheism, was scouring the land with its untruths. These contested, namely, that there are two ruling powers in the universe, one good, one evil. They believed that everything spiritual was created by this Good Power, but the evil power was responsible for the existence of the material. Man, therefore, is a living contradiction; the spiritual must be nurtured, and everything material is to be scorned. In view of this, it was believed that man was not able to keep himself from sin and therefore not responsible for his actions. Sin and carnage were spreading ever more rapidly on account of these beliefs. No longer were the followers of this heresy content with passively adhering to their errors, but were attempting to forceably compelling others to accept the new religion. This had gone on roughly since 1022AD.

In the face of heresy, the pope of the time, Innocent III (1160-1216) greatly emphasized missionary work, in an effort to peacefully regain the souls lost to error. Among the masses of missionaries who combatted the Albegensian heresy, he personally selected such men as Diego, Bishop of Osma, St. Dominic Guzman and two of his papal legates to journey to France and do what they could. Everywhere they met with antagonism and bitterness from the heretics. One of his legates, Peter de Castelnau, was assassinated in 1208, the fabrication of which is widely attributed to Raymond, Count of Toulouse, a noble previously excommunicated for his blatant adherence to the new beliefs. At this final act of blasphemy, the pope ordered an interdict to be placed on the murderers and decided it was time to call upon the Catholic nobility in France to defend the need of the missionaries and Catholic civilians. Raymond de Toulouse did repent, was reconciled with Rome, and fought for the cause with this fellow nobles. But man is weak, and in time, to the Pontiff's grave disapproval, the campaign against the heretical nobility, under the command of Simon de Montfort, became instead a war of conquest. Raymond was again excommunicated when he failed to fulfill the requirements of reconciliation, and open war ensued.

It was during all of this, that both St. Dominic Guzman (1170-1221) and St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) laid before the Holy Father their plans of forming new religious orders; as we call them today, the Dominicans and the Franciscans, respectively. Their intent was to incorporate preaching and poverty, prayer and penance in a new missionary spirit. Innocent III approved and encouraged their intentions whole-heartedly, being fully aware of the vices creeping into much of the clergy, and seeing that this provided a solid answer to that need.
Dominic gave to his order the Rule of St. Augustine of Hippo, and also some special rules of regulation. His religious order was comprised of three parts; the priests and friar preachers, the Dominican sisters, and the third order, or Tertiaries, who follow the holy rule while still living in the world.

Achieving ample success against the raging heresy, but sorrowing for souls lost to it, St. Dominic incessantly prayed to the Blessed Virgin, to help them speedily in the spiritual fight. In answer, it is traditionally believed that she appeared to him, and gave him the Holy Rosary.

It is important to note here, that the idea of the Rosary was not at all a new one. For centuries, monks have daily recited the 150 Psalms, using ropes with as many knots to keep track. This being very strenuous and time-consuming, the faithful adapted it instead into 150 Hail Marys, or Our Fathers, or some other 'popular' prayer; still counted with pebbles, or with knoted and beaded strings (sometimes called 'Paternosters'). Similarly, in some areas, monasteries would recite kyrie eleison 300 times, twice a day, as a devotion. There are numerous variations of this kind of practice, dating back at least to the 4th century.
St. Dominic certainly did not invent the Rosary, nor did he introduce the 'mysteries' of the Rosary, as these weren't published until some 250 years later. Further, it wasn't even called The Rosary until later, but referred to as Our Lady's Psalter. It seems that the reason he is labelled 'Author of the Rosary' has to do primarily with the fact that, after his message from Our Lady, (also receiving the 15 Promises) he fervently preached the Rosary as "an antidote to heresy and sin." (Catholic Encyclopedia) That with the sanction, as it were, from the Mother of God, announcing that she was indeed pleased with this devotion, Dominic accented its importance and effect, and so has been dubbed St. Dominic of the Holy Rosary. Here is the story as told by St. Louis Marie de Montfort:

' At this point our Lady appeared to him, accompanied by three angels, and she said, "Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?" "Oh, my Lady," answered Saint Dominic, "you know far better than I do, because next to your Son Jesus Christ you have always been the chief instrument of our salvation." Then our Lady replied, "I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the principal weapon has always been the Angelic Psalter, which is the foundation-stone of the New Testament. Therefore, if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter." So he arose, comforted, and burning with zeal for the conversion of the people in that district, he made straight for the cathedral. At once unseen angels rang the bells to gather the people together, and Saint Dominic began to preach. '

When the Rosary was recognized as one of the most effective prayers in face of, well, anything, it did undergo some defining changes. The chief prayer, the Ave (Hail Mary), which had previously consisted just of scriptural passages, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb", was lengthed, the name of 'Jesus' was placed after 'womb'. Also, a second part was added: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen". This is the formula of the Hail Mary, as it exists to this day.
In 1567, St. Pius V, a Dominican himself, authorized the current fifteen-Mystery version of the Holy Rosary. These 15 mysteries are comprised of the main events in the lives of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Mother, on which Catholics daily meditate. They are divided into three sets of five, the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries. Just one of these sets is generally prayed per day by the average Catholic, that set depending on what day of the week it is. A decade (consisting of the Our Father, 10 Hail Marys and Glory Be) is said while meditating on each of the 5 mysteries individually. In this way, Catholics honored, and continue to honor, the Mother of God, Virgin of Virgins and in return, she gives us her heavenly assistance in ways incalculable by worldly means. This much is certain.

New Advent (website)
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vos. VIII, XII, XIII, Robert Appleton Company, 1911

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Queen of the Holy Rosary

Promises Made to St. Dominic (1170-1221) and Blessed Alanus by the Blessed Virgin.

  • To all those who recite my Rosary devoutly, I promise my special protection and very great graces.
  • Those who will persevere in the recitation of my Rosary shall receive some signal grace.
  • The Rosary shall be a very powerful armor against hell; it shall destroy vice, deliver from sin, and shall dispel heresy.
  • The Rosary shall make virtue and good works flourish, and shall obtain for souls the most abundant divine mercies; it shall substitute in hearts love of God for love of the world, elevate them to desire heavenly and eternal goods. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means!
  • Those who trust themselves to me through the Rosary, shall not perish.
  • Those who will recite my Rosary piously, considering its Mysteries, shall not be overwhelmed by misfortune nor die a bad death. The sinner shall be converted; the just shall grow in grace and become worthy of eternal life.
  • Those truly devoted to my Rosary shall not die without the consolations of the Church, or without grace.
  • Those who will recite my Rosary shall find during their life and at their death the light of God, the fullness of His grace, and shall share in the merits of the blessed.
  • I will deliver very promptly from purgatory the souls devoted to my Rosary.
  • The true children of my Rosary shall enjoy great glory in heaven.
  • What you ask through my Rosary, you shall obtain.
  • Those who propagate my Rosary shall obtain through me aid in all their necessities.
  • I have obtained from my Son that all the confreres of the Rosary shall have for their brethren in life and death the saints of heaven.
  • Those who recite my Rosary faithfully are all my beloved children, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.
  • Devotion to my Rosary is a special sign of predestination.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Like Bacon and Eggs

It is indeed true that what one believes will dictate how one lives. Doctrine is the mother of Morality. The relationship between the two is absolutely natural and basic; one of my favorite and original ways of looking at this is to compare it to the connection between grammar and composition. Grammar provides the necessary guidelines for effective and clear writing habits. There are definite rules which dicuss where the direct object is to be used, how to make proper use of the question mark, where it's permissable to put parentheses, and so on. Once we are aware of these various standards, there is no question about whether or not to follow them; this is what one must do to succeed in composition. Similarly, solid doctrine supplies the necessary structure to live a balanced and correct Christian life. To 'succeed' in this ideal, it is quite imperative to live according to the standards given us by the Church through Her doctrine.

It is also possible have correct sentence structure in both speaking and writing, without being aware of the "how and why". It's almost an intuitive thing to use 'me' in the objective case and 'I' in the nominative. At first, we did this, not because there was a good reason for it, but because we learned it that way from others. However, unless we know why 'me' is objective and used in that way, there is not really much merit in its correct usage, and there is plenty of potential for mistake. This same is true as regards our application of morals; unless there is deliberate submission to some higher doctrine, proper behavior is of no real good to us, spiritually.

Catholics must know why we believe what we do, and how that applies to our lives. Without this knowledge and honest application, there will be uncertainty in time of temptation and weakness in the face of public opinion.

"Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect." Matt.5:48

Thursday, December 22, 2005

O Antiphons - The Mystery Behind Them

In this expectant and austere season of Advent, it is well to uncover and understand the various connections and deep secrets within the liturgy that Holy Mother Church has so wisely put at our disposal. One that I find particularily fascinating is the O Antiphons. That the order and significance should be so precise..

In the whole week preceding Christmas, Dec. 17-23, there is a different antiphon recited each day at Vespers. This is how they run, in English:

O Wisdom...
O Lord and Leader...
O Root of Jesse...
O Key of David...
O Dawn of the East...
O King of Nations...
O Emmanuel (God with Us)...

However, it's with the Latin that the secret is revealed:

O Sapientia...
O Adonai...
O Radix Jesse...
O Clavis David...
O Oriens...
O Rex Gentium...
O Emmanuel...

Taking the first non-O letter, going backwards, one is left with EROCRAS. Ero is the future-tense verb "I am", and Cras literally means "tomorrow". Only Christ in His infinite wisdom could construct something so simple but so meaningful, to be seen only by those who look.... "I am tomorrow".

Et Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis.