Need We Say More – Second Sunday of Advent

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Continuing our Need We Say More series of posts for Advent, we bring you the second reading from today’s Office of Readings:  an excerpt from one of the exegetical works of Eusebius of Caesarea.  He served as Bishop of Caesarea, and died in the fourth century.  He wrote many and various works, including the first surviving history of the Church, which has earned him the title “Father of Church History.”

Please click on the image below to listen to a short reading from the Commentary on Isaiah by Eusebius of Caesarea, courtesy of Sr. Grace Marie.

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Adoration in Thanksgiving

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I looked only for an eternal heart that I could always find in life, in death, and Our Lord alone is this Eternal Heart.   -Mother Marie Ste Claire Bouillevaux

France has long been called “The Eldest Daughter of the Church” because she was the first nation founded by barbarians to accept Christianity after the Roman Empire fell. We know there were Christians in France centuries before Clovis, King of the Franks, was baptized on Christmas day in 496, but his acceptance of Catholicism would shape the history of Europe from then on, leading eventually to Charlemagne, and the Holy Roman Empire.  Most of the other Germanic tribes at the time had been infected by the rampant Arian heresy, so we can thank God (and his wife St. Clotilde) for Clovis’ acceptance of Catholicism, for the history of Christendom might have looked very different had he also embraced heresy.

Despite the demonic horrors of the Masonic French Revolution, which would sweep France some 1,300 years after Clovis’ baptism, spilling the blood of so many Catholics, the Church in France has been a fruitful branch, bearing the beautiful and fragrant flowers of so many saints and religious orders.  The roots of our own religious order, the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, trace back to Paris, where we were founded in 1854 by Mother Marie de Ste. Claire Bouillevaux and Fr. Bonaventure Heurlat, a Capuchin priest.

Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 3.08.38 PMJoséphine Bouillevaux, who was, providentially, born on the Feast of Corpus Christi in Maizières-lès-Brienne, was raised in a devout family, devoted to the Holy Eucharist.  The parish Curé, Fr. Jean-Baptiste Heurlat, who had founded a school in Maizieres, also felt called to begin an order of nuns who would be attached to his parish.  Knowing that Joséphine, a teacher at the school, desired to lead a contemplative life, he began to form her and the other teachers in the religious life, helping them to live according to a common rule.

Joséphine had been inspired by the Gospel account of the ten lepers in Luke.  After healing ten men afflicted with leprosy, only one of them returned to thank Our Lord.  Her heart was pierced by this ingratitude, and the words of Jesus, “Were not ten made clean?  Where are the other nine?,” lead her to say, “Is it not right then that His Eucharistic love should be glorified by unremitting thanksgiving?”.  This guiding principle would later be evidenced in the motto of our order: Deo Gratias Per Jesum In Sanctissimo Sacramento!  Thanks be to God through Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament!

Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 3.08.47 PMFollowing the call to ever greater perfection, Fr. Jean-Baptiste entered the Capuchins, taking the name Bonaventure.  Before his entrance, he told the Father General of his desire to found a religious community of nuns, and was given the support of his future superior in achieving this goal.  He was invested in the Capuchin habit in 1851, and one year later received the vows of Joséphine Bouillevaux as a Third Order Franciscan, giving her the name Sister Marie de Sainte Claire.

On December 8, 1854, the day of the Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Sister Marie de Sainte Claire placed her spiritual projects, desires, hopes and fears under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She also confided to Mary all her daughters present and future by an act of consecration; this marked the official beginning of our Order. One week later, on December 15, octave of the Immaculate Conception, Father Bonaventure invested the first four postulants in the Franciscan habit. Mother Marie de Sainte Claire, as Foundress and, at age 34, the oldest in the house, was named Superior.   (source)

Troyes Monastery PCPATwo years later the newborn order was transferred to the city of Troyes (providentially, this city was the birthplace of Pope Urban IV, who had established the feast of Corpus Christi as an official feast day of the Church in the 13th century).  That same year, 1856, permission was granted for perpetual exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, which the order has continued ever since.  In 1899, having received official approbation as a religious order from Pope Leo XIII, the community was established as a Congregation of Pontifical Right, with the privilege of solemn vows.

From France, this Franciscan vine spread throughout the world, and today we have monasteries in Poland, Austria, Germany, the US, India, Bangladesh and Kazakhstan.  The love of Jesus in the Eucharist is a fragrant flower which spreads its sweet scent across the world.  We pray that our life of adoration in a spirit of reparative thanksgiving continues to bring grace to the world and all who live in it, whom we lift up to God in prayer each day.

On this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception we gratefully recall that the Most Pure Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 3.16.18 PMVirgin is not only our Mother, but also our model, protectress and guide.  Each sister of our order receives a new name at her investiture in the habit, and this always include some form of Mary.  As the adorer and contemplative par excellence, we turn to her in everything, and she teaches us to remain faithful and close to Jesus in all things.  We are privileged to begin here on earth, what we will spend eternity doing in heaven: adoring and contemplating God.  In our tabernacle, He is hidden, but in eternity we shall finally see him Face to face.

Adoremus in Aeternum, Sanctissium Sacramentum.

 

Let us adore unto eternity the most Holy Sacrament!

Need We Say More – First Sunday of Advent

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In praying the Liturgy of the Hours each morning, we are able to begin our day with the Psalms, scripture readings and the Church Fathers. The readings from the Fathers are always packed full of insight and wisdom.  We want to share that with you, so, as we’ve done for the last four years, on each Sunday of Advent we’re posting some of this ancient wisdom of the Church, taken from the patristic readings in the Liturgy of the Hours.  The Fathers said it best, and sometimes they said it first. That’s why we call this series Need We Say More.

Please click on the image below to listen to a short reading from the Catecheses of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, courtesy of Sr. Grace Marie. breviary

End the Day with Gratitude

Happy and blessed Thanksgiving to all of you! Today we give thanks to Our Eucharistic King for each one of you, and we lift you up in prayer before Him.

As this day draws to a close here is a little gem from St. John the Solitary, on ending the day with gratitude:

When evening comes, collect your thoughts and ponder over the entire course of the day: observe God’s providential care for you; consider the grace He has wrought in you throughout the whole span of the day; consider the rising of the moon, the joy of daylight, all the hours and moments, the divisions of time, the sight of different colors, the beautiful adornment of creation, the course of the sun, the growth of your own stature, how your own person has been protected, consider the blowing of the winds, the ripe and varied fruits, how the elements minister to your comfort, how you have been preserved from accidents, and all the other activities of grace. When you have pondered on all this, wonder of God’s love toward you will well up within you, and gratitude for his acts of grace will bubble up inside you. 

-John the Solitary, The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life

Prayers for Today

Just a few prayers for today. The devil is always prowling about like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. With prayer and penance, as Our Lady asked at Fatima, we can help to muzzle that lion and put him back in his cage.


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Arise O Lord and let Thine enemies be scattered, let those that hate Thee flee before Thy Holy Face.

Prayer for the Defeat of Communism and all “Revolutionary Men”

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Cross of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and all the instruments of His Holy passion, that Thou mayest put division in the camp of Thy enemies, for as Thy Beloved Son hath said, “a kingdom divided against itself shall fall.”

Prayer of Reparation

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Holy Face of Jesus, covered with blood, sweat, dust and spittle, in reparation for the crimes of communists, blasphemers, and for the profaners of the Holy Name and of the Holy Day of Sunday.

clip_image0013Holy Face prayer for Appeasement and Mercy

Almighty and Eternal Father, since it has pleased Our Divine Savior to reveal to mankind in modern times the power residing in His Holy Face, we now avail ourselves of this Treasure in our great need. Since Our Savior Himself promised that by offering to Thee His Holy Face disfigured in the Passion we can procure the settlement of all the affairs of our household, and that nothing will be refused to us, we now come before Thy throne. Eternal Father, turn away Thine angry gaze from our guilty people whose face has become unsightly in Thine eyes. Look instead upon the Face of Thy Beloved Son; for this is the Face of Him in whom Thou art well pleased. We now offer Thee His Holy Face covered with blood, sweat, dust, spittle and shame, in reparation for the worst crimes of our age, which are atheism, blasphemy, and the desecration of Thy holy days. We thus hope to appease Thine anger justly provoked against us. The All-Merciful Advocate opens His mouth to plead our cause; listen to His cries, behold His tears, O God, and through the merits of His Holy Face hearken to Him when He intercedes for us poor miserable sinners.

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Prayer of The Queen of Heaven

August Queen of Heaven, Sovereign Mistress of the Angels, who didst receive from the beginning the mission and the power to crush the serpent’s head, we beseech these to send thy holy angels, that under thy command and by thy power they may pursue the evil spirits, encounter them on every side, resist their bold attack, and drive them hence into the abyss of woe.

Most holy Mother, send thy angels to defend us and to drive the cruel enemy from us.
All ye holy Angels and Archangels, help and defend us. Amen.
O good and tender Mother! Thou shalt ever be our love and our hope.
Holy Angels and Archangels, keep and defend us. Amen.

Prayer to Defeat Satan

O Divine Eternal Father, in union with Thy Divine Son and the Holy Spirit and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beseech Thee to destroy the power thy greatest enemy, the evil spirits. Cast them into the deepest recesses of Hell and chain them there forever! Take possession of Thy kingdom which Thou hast created and which is rightfully Thine. O Heavenly Father, grant us the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I repeat this prayer out of pure love for Thee, with every beat of my heart, and with every breath I take. Amen.


Mater_Dolorosa_with_open_handsThere are many resources for prayers of protection and deliverance out there.  If you’d like to find more prayers which can by used by the laity check out this book:  Deliverance Prayers for Use by the Laity by Fr. Chad Ripperger.   His insights on Our Lady of Sorrows are especially interesting, and encourage us to foster a devotion to her under this powerful title:

Lastly, we cannot recommend the constant petition and perfect confidence in Our Lady enough.  For She who has perfect coercive power over demons can protect us from any diabolic attack of any kind.  In fine, if we remain under Her mantle, no demon will dare to approach us.  Yet this only comes when we never offend Her Son and we have perfect confidence in Her.    

We ought also to petition Her under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows in the spiritual combat for two reasons.  The first is that when St. Joseph and Mary took Jesus to St. Simeon, he said to Our Lady that Her heart would be pierced so that the thoughts of many would be revealed.  Our Lady, by undergoing the Passion with Christ, would merit an intimacy with God that no other creature had.  As a result, He reveals things to Her that He does not reveal to others.  However, He will allow us to petition Her so that She may reveal hidden things relating to the spiritual life.  This is true in relation to our own defects but especially in matters of spiritual combat.  In Spiritual warfare, precision is everything.  In this respect, spiritual warfare is not any different than any other kind of warfare; the more accurate or specific the weapon, the more effective it will be.  For this reason, if we pray to Our Lady of Sorrows, she will reveal to us the nature of the demon we are dealing with, whether that is in our own lives or in the lives of those to whom we have obligations.  This provides us a specific target to combat.  

The second reason to pray to Our Lady of Sorrow is because of the promises made by her to St. Bridget of Sweden:  “I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.”  Ultimately we are powerless to protect ourselves in the spiritual warfare.  Only Christ can protect us and those whom Christ has commissioned to protect us, among whom Our Lady stands above the rest.  So it is in Her that we place our confidence.

Saints and Rebels

He who is his own master is a scholar under a fool.
–-St. Bernard

Like us, over the last year you have no doubt heard and read much about today’s anniversary, celebrated around the world, marking Martin Luther’s revolt from the Catholic Church.  What many celebrate is actually a sad anniversary for Catholics – and not just Catholics, but all souls, for what is hailed as “a revival not seen since apostolic times” was actually, as Warren Carroll called it in his history series, “the cleaving of Christendom”. On the Cross, a spear pierced Our Lord’s Heart.  In the Protestant Revolt, a huge piece of Our Lord’s Heart was ripped away, and instead of saving blood and cleansing water, five million souls poured out.  It was a wound that Our Lady herself had to repair, when, 16 years later, she appeared to St. Juan Diego and brought nine million souls into union with Christ and His Church. The word obedience  comes from Latin obaudire, to listen.  Mary, who pondered all these things in her heart, is a model of prayer and listening, for prayer and reflection are how we best listen to God who comes, not in the fire or the earthquake, but in a gentle whisper, a still, small voice.  Our Lady, who, in her docility and obedience to God, became the Mother of the Messiah, she who then stood at the foot of the Cross, fully consenting to the Crucifixion of her Son for the salvation of the world, is an icon of obedience.  St Irenaeus tell us that the obedience of Mary untied the knot of disobedience tied by Eve (Eva in Latin).  Or as one old English hymn puts it: Nova! Nova! Ave fit ex Eva! (News! News! “Ave” has been made from “Eve”).  

Obedience unites us so closely to God that in a way transforms us into Him, so that we have no other will but His. If obedience is lacking, even prayer cannot be pleasing to God.
– St. Thomas Aquinas

The anniversary of Martin Luther’s revolution against the Church is juxtaposed with the feast of All Saints tomorrow.  The obedience of the saints, those known and unknown, is what united them to God.  The virtue of obedience, so loved and practiced by the saints, is scoffed at in our post-Enlightenment culture. Jesus said “My food is to do the Will of My Father.”  If obedience to the Father was His sustenance, we can be sustained by nothing less.

Obedience is mission: “I have come into this world to do the will of my Father, who has sent me.” Where there is no obedience, there is no virtue; where there is no virtue there is no good; where good is wanting, there is no love, there is no God; where God is not, there is no Heaven.
–St. Padre Pio

Obedience is the harder path – dying to self-will is the ultimate sacrifice each man can make.  Obedience requires humility, the idea that I am not the master of the universe, the idea that I can be wrong.  When Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane prayed, “Not my will but Thine be done” as He was faced with all the sufferings to come, He was strengthened by obedience.  Even in the extreme agony and fear of that moment, fear powerful enough to cause Him to sweat blood, He said yes to the Will of His Father. When faced with any difficulties, we can share in His strength when we fall on the strong supporting arms of obedience, as the saints did before us.

I often thought my constitution would never endure the work I had to do, (but) the Lord said to me: “Daughter, obedience gives strength.”
–-St. Teresa of Avila

Obedience is not only for religious and priests who have taken a vow, it is for every member of the Church.  Lucifer’s rebellion against God’s plan of salvation, his refusal to serve the Only Begotten Son born of the Virgin Mary, resulted in his expulsion from heaven, a third of the angels being cast down with him to earth.  Martin Luther’s rebellion against the Church resulted in millions of souls being dragged away from the bosom of Christ.  That fracture in the unity of Christ’s Body is still happening today, attested to by the thousands of denominations which have splintered off from Lutheranism since its founding.  The Kingdom of God is built by obedience to the Father’s Will.  It brings life, it brings fruitfulness, it brings joy.  Follow the path first walked by Our Lord will bear these fruits, and many more besides. Like the saints, all of us who are called to holiness can respond with eagerness and joy to this task.  Lucifer’s rebellion, and all those who follow in his footsteps, tear at the Kingdom of God by pride, disobedience, and rebellion.  These are the tools he used to tempt our first parents, for which they lost paradise and we inherited original sin and concupiscence.  The pattern of the saints, as modeled by Our Lord, is to embrace littleness and trust in our Heavenly Father, to give generously and completely of ourselves, whatever our vocation.  If the Kingdom of Heaven is built of Divine Love and the self-less love which brings union, then it was rebellion, pride and disunity that made hell.

”All that is done by obedience is meritorious . . . It is obedience, which, by the light of Faith, puts self-will to death, and causes the obedient man to despise his own will and throw himself into the arms of his superior . . . Placed in the bark of obedience, he passes happily through the stormy sea of this life, in peace of soul and tranquility of heart. Obedience and faith disperse darkness; he is strong because he has no longer any weakness or fears, for self-will, which is the cause of inordinate fear and weakness, has been destroyed.”
–Saint Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church

The two-thousand year history of the Church is filled with characters, saints and sinners, those we honor, and those we’d rather forget.  Since the time the Apostles were first called by Jesus there have been rebels and betrayers sitting alongside the faithful in the Church, just look at his chosen twelve and we find Judas.  The Church is divine; Her members are not.  And so there is always the constant expansion and contraction, the tendency to excess and the need for reform.  St. Francis of Assisi is often contrasted with Martin Luther.  He reformed the Church from within, in obedience and without tearing apart the Bride of Christ.  His deep prayer and union with God made his efforts so fruitful they set the world alight with love and devotion at a difficult time in the Church’s history.  And there are so many others who also sought to heal the sores they saw festering within the Church, healing them with the balm of obedience and holiness, with austerity and prayer, not by hacking at the limbs of Christ’s Bride in rebellion and disobedience.  Had Martin Luther reformed authentically, from within the Church, rather than rebelling against Her, we might be celebrating him as another saint, along with St. Boniface, St. Clare of Montefalco, St Rita of Cascia, and the many other saints and blessed of the Augustinian family.

He who follows his own ideas in opposition to the direction of his superiors needs no devil to tempt him, for he is a devil to himself.
–Saint John Climacus

Free will is the greatest gift God has given to mankind, the gift to choose whether we will serve God or self with our thoughts, words and actions.  It is this gift which makes our love authentic, for without the freedom to choose to act in love we would be no more than slaves of God, loving Him without choice. The panoply of saints shows us how every life is unique, and every path laid before our feet by God is unique.  Some saints loved God faithfully from an early age, some not till the end of their lives.  Some saints retained their baptismal innocence all their lives, and some were mired in the darkest of sin before their conversion.  The truth is that all of them, just like us, were faced at every moment with the opportunity to choose for God or for self, to serve God and build His Kingdom, or to tear it down through pride and selfishness.  What separates us from the saints is not the choices they were faced with, for they are the same choices we face each day, but the choices they made.  May each of the saints, those known to us and those we will only meet in heaven, pray for us, that like them, we, too, may one day behold God face to face in the Eternal Day.

The Rosary and Victory

Non virtus, non arma, non duces…
It was not courage, not arms, not leaders…

sed Maria Rosari, victores nos fecit.
but Mary of the Rosary that made us victors.

“Non virtus, non arma, non duces, sed Maria Rosari, victores nos fecit.” “It was not courage, not arms, not leaders, but Mary of the Rosary that made us victors.”  These words were written on a panel and placed in the meeting chamber of the Venetian senators following the Catholic armada’s defeat of the Ottoman Turks at the naval battle of Lepanto, which took place on this day in 1571.  This important victory for Christian Europe was the result of prayer and courage – prayer by the Pope, Pius V, and the kings and peoples of the west, and the courage of those nations who, not distracted or indifferent to the advances of the Ottoman forces, were willing to heed Pius V and join his alliance (The Holy League) and go into battle.  They understood that they had everything to lose if they met with defeat, and so, lead by Pope St. Pius V, they stormed heaven by praying the Rosary.
Today we are in no less need of prayer, courage, and holiness.

Today millions of Poles joined together in an organized Rosary campaign asking God to protect and preserve their country and their Christian heritage.  They haven’t forgotten history.  They understand, having suffered grievously throughout the centuries, and particularly in the last century, the supreme importance of remaining faithful to the Christian values and morals which are an inherent part of their culture, and not just their own, but of Europe and the West.  Sadly, many today have no idea what has been lost in the turn from God-centered Christian values to the self-centered Enlightenment ideals which place self at the center of the universe.  But, just as at Lepanto the Catholic army was outnumbered, our numbers don’t matter as much as our fidelity.  The only thing each of us have control over today is ourselves – our own behavior, our own actions, our own response to God’s grace.  The fruit of our own personal holiness will be grace for the world, but we can leave that part to God’s Wisdom.

The call to prayer and penance which Pope St. Pius V put forth to all the faithful is the same thing Our Lady of Fatima asked us for 100 years ago in Portugal.  World War I was underway, and she warned that if we didn’t heed her message a worse war would follow, many would be lost.  The recipe for victory hasn’t changed since Our Lord’s Crucifixion, it is always the same, it is always following in His footsteps along the way of the Cross: prayer and suffering, prayer and penance. We can only join in His Resurrection if we first  imitate Him in His suffering and death.  If that seems overwhelming or impossible, don’t be discouraged.  We can begin today to follow these mysteries of His Life through meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, where we enter Our Lady’s school of holiness and learn from the one who first (and most closely) followed the Savior in all the sufferings and joys of His earthly life, to the glories of His Resurrection.  As we are conformed more and more to Our Lord through the motherly care of Our Lady we will find ourselves victorious, too, over sin, satan, and everything that keeps us from carrying out the Will of God in our lives.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

There is a great account of the Lepanto battle here, which includes some interesting details which we hadn’t heard before.