Fair as the Moon, Bright as the Sun

Joan_de_Joanes_-_The_Immaculate_Conception_-_Google_Art_Project-1[Post originally published December 8, 2015]

As beloved as the works of Tolkien are, it is impossible to fully appreciate them without an understanding of his deep Catholic faith, particularly his devotion to Our Lady.

To Our Lady… upon which all my own small perception of beauty, both in majesty and simplicity, is founded.

–JRR Tolkien

Today’s solemnity of the Immaculate Conception brings so many thoughts to mind. Firstly, it’s astounding to think that from our own microscopic beginnings at the first moment of life, when we are too small to be visible, God has already created us with a purpose, with a Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 10.39.29 PMplan, with a destiny. Our own free choices determine how closely we cooperate with His plan for our lives, but the possibilities and the graces are all available to us. As clichéd as it sounds, God creates us with greatness in mind – not necessarily in the worldly sense of being a noteworthy person, or making a name for oneself, but spiritual greatness. And what could be greater than being called into relationship with the Trinity, being adopted into God’s Family by our baptism? Our Lady was conceived without sin because of God’s purpose for her. He created her to become the Mother of His Only Son.

Catholic fans of The Lord of the Rings know that Galadriel reflected Our Lady – which is why we took such issue with Peter Jackson’s depiction of her in the movies (the Continue reading

Pentecost Novena – Ninth Day

Ninth Day: The Fruits of the Holy Ghost

 

Thou, on those who evermore
Thee confess and Thee adore,
In Thy sevenfold gifts, descend:
Give them comfort when they die;
Give them life with Thee on high;
Give them joy which never ends. Amen.

The gifts of the Holy Ghost perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Ghost, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Ghost. These fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.
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Pentecost Novena – Eighth Day

 

8757457552_afa0a6c035_bEighth Day: The Gift of Wisdom
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray!

Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of wisdom it is written “all good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands.” It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Savior: “Take up thy cross and follow Me, for My yoke is sweet, and My burden light.”  Continue reading

Pentecost Novena – Seventh Day

Seventh Day: The Gift of Counsel

Heal our wounds – our strength renew;
On our dryness pour Thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away!

The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must be done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. “Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth.”
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Pentecost Novena – Sixth Day


Sixth Day: The Gift of Understanding

If Thou take Thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay,
All his good is turn’d to ill.

Understanding, as a gift of the Holy Ghost, helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion. By faith we know them, but by Understanding we learn to appreciate and relish them. It enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths and through them to be quickened to newness of life. Our faith ceases to be sterile and inactive, but inspires a mode of life that bears eloquent testimony to the faith that is in us; we begin to “walk worthy of God in all things pleasing, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
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Pentecost Novena – Fifth Day

Fifth Day: The Gift of Knowledge
Light immortal! Light Divine!
Visit Thou these hearts of Thine,
And our inmost being fill.

 

The gift of Knowledge enables the soul to evaluate created things at their true worth — in relation to God. Knowledge unmasks the pretense of creatures, reveals their emptiness, and points out their only true purpose as instruments in the service of God. It shows us the loving care of God even in adversity, and directs us to glorify Him in every circumstance of life. Guided by its light, we put first things first, and prize the friendship of God beyond all else. “Knowledge is a fountain of life to him that possesseth it.”
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Pentecost Novena – Fourth Day

Fourth Day: The Gift of Fortitude

Thou in toil art comfort sweet
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

By the gift of Fortitude, the soul is strengthened against natural fear, and supported to the end in the performance of duty. Fortitude imparts to the will an impulse and energy which move it to undertake without hesitancy the most arduous tasks, to face dangers, to trample under foot human respect, and to endure without complaint the slow martyrdom of even lifelong tribulation. “He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.”
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