Our Lady of Unity

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Shine on us, dear Lady, with thy bright countenance, like the sun in his strength, O stella matutina, O harbinger of peace, till our year is one perpetual May. From thy sweet eyes, from thy pure smile, from thy majestic brow, let ten thousand influences rain down, not to confound or overwhelm, but to persuade, to win over thine enemies. O Mary, my hope, O Mother undefiled, fulfil to us the promise of this Spring.

-Bl. John Henry Newman

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It was 20 years ago that I became a Catholic, and a couple years after that, when I first began attending the parish named after her, that I first came to know the Mother of God as Our Lady of the Atonement.  But even then, it wasn’t until I entered the monastery in Alabama that I actually began to take a greater interest in her.  I think it started with homesickness, and a longing for everything I was missing from Texas.  But then I came to know her story in much greater depth when I stumbled upon a book called Our Lady and Reunion, in the cloister library.  Imagine my surprise when I opened it up to find Our Lady of the Atonement herself, looking up at me from the title page!IMG_6982

It’s been almost 15 years since I’ve read the book, but one thing that that’s always stuck with me is something that Cardinal Newman wrote about Our Lady’s role in the return of England to the Catholic faith.  Our Lady of the Atonement is the Mother of Unity – this is what her title denotes the At-One-Ment of man with God, and with all men in the Church founded by Christ.  It’s all there, even in the beginning of devotion to her under this new Continue reading

“Give her the joy of vows fulfilled”

Today marks nine years since I professed my solemn vows as a Poor Clare Nun of Perpetual Adoration.  I was trying to figure out what things I’ve shared in past posts, and two years ago I mentioned that I should try to find one of the beautiful prayers from the ceremony.  Well, rather miraculously, I did manage to find it, and I didn’t even have to make too much of a mess in the process!

DSC_0056After the profession of vows and endorsement of the profession card, before she receives the ring, the celebrant prays a solemn blessing over the newly professed nun:


Solemn Blessing of the Newly Professed Nun

Celebrant: Father in Heaven, Source of all holiness, Creator of the human race, Your love for us was so great that you gave us a share in Your Own Divine Life.  Neither the sin of Adam nor even the sins of the whole world could alter Your loving purpose.

In the dawn of history You gave us Abel as an example of holiness.  Later, from Your beloved Hebrew people, You raised up men and women graced with every virtue.

Foremost among them all stands Mary, the Ever-Virgin Daughter of Zion.  From Her Pure Womb was born Jesus Christ, Your Eternal Word, the Savior of the world.  You sent Him, Father, as our pattern of holiness.  He became poor to make us rich, a slave to set us free.  Wit love no words can tell He redeemed the world by His Paschal Mystery and won from You the Gifts of the Spirit to sanctify His Church.

The Voice of the Spirit has drawn countless numbers of Your children to follow in the Footsteps of Your Son.

Among these You raised Your servant Francis who professed evangelical holiness so that, at the command of Christ Crucified, he might in himself and his brothers repair the Church, Your Dwelling, and renew it through holiness of life.

Therefore, O Lord, look upon this our Sister whom in Your providence You have called to follow the poor, humble Francis, the lover of the Cross.  Pour into her the fullness of the sevenfold Spirit so that what she has promised today with joy and gladness through Your giving, she may with the Divine Assistance observe faithfully to the end.

May she be firmly established in true humility; may she be inflamed with love for Christ and a compassionate love for her Sisters; may she prefer nothing to the commands of obedience; may she follow highest poverty, gird herself with the virtue of patience, and not extinguish the spirit of prayer and holy devotion.  May she build up the Church by the holiness of her life, advance the salvation of the world, and stand as a sign of the blessings that are to come.

Lord, Holy Father, protect and guide this servant of Yours.  At the judgment seat of Your Son be Yourself her great reward. Give her the joy of vows fulfilled.  Made perfect in Your love, may she rejoice in the communion of Your Saints and praise you forever in their company.  We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

All respond: Amen.


Please pray for me and all religious, that we may observe our vows faithfully to the end.  It’s so true that God cannot be outdone in generosity, and neither can He be outdone in patience and mercy, which He lavishes on us daily.  None of us could do what we do without His grace and your prayers – so thank you, and know that you are always in our prayers, too.

The American Madonna

OL Atonement

We must understand by virtue of our new birth into the Kingdom of God that the Blessed Virgin is our real mother and not merely a mother that has just adopted us. By baptism we are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ and by that process of incorporation we are also brought into relationship with the Blessed Virgin, which is intrinsically similar to the relationship which Christ has to the Blessed Virgin as his mother. The Blessed Virgin is not our stepmother. She is our real mother as far as are the Sons and Daughters of the Atonement and members of the Mystical Body of Christ.               -Fr. Paul of Graymoor

On this Independence Day we wanted to remind you of a uniquely American title of Our Lady, one which is lesser known, but no less important, than many of her more well-known titles.  Devotion to the Blessed Mother as Our Lady of the Atonement began with an Episcopalian priest, Fr. Paul Wattson, who was inspired to found a religious congregation devoted to the work of unity, reconciling men with God, particularly by leading those outside the sheepfold home to Christ’s Church.  With the help of Mother Lurana Mary White they founded the Society of the Atonement in the late 1800s.  They eventually came to realize the they couldn’t wait for the entire Episcopalian church to reunite with the Chair of Peter, and so, they and the members of the society made their profession of faith in 1909 and were received into the Catholic Church.  They brought with them this devotion to Our Lady of the Atonement, whose feast day they celebrated on July 9th.

In Rome She is known as “the American Madonna”.  She is Our Lady suffering with her Son at the foot of the Cross.  She wears a red mantle to symbolize the Precious Blood of Jesus, the Blood which makes us at-one with God.  The red mantle is worn over a blue tunic, and together with her white veil, the colors remind one of the American flag.  Independence Day always falls in the middle of the novena leading up to her feast day, and so it is yet another reminder of her special connection with our nation.

May Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of Unity, protect and guide our country, that we may truly be one nation under God, made at-one with Him by the Precious Blood of Jesus.

 

 

A New Saint?

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I knew He would do what He thought best. He did, and I will devote my whole life to working for Him in any way He wants to use me.  -Rhoda Wise, 1939

It’s interesting how the lives of holy people often intersect. Throughout the history of the Church we have many stories of saints who were friends with other saints, and it’s often been said that saints beget saints. Well, we may be one step closer to having a formally recognized “saint” from the US!  After an informal preliminary investigation, the formal cause for beatification and canonization for Rhoda Wise, a wife, mother, convert, mystic and stigmatist from Ohio, will open this October.

Rhoda’s story is amazing – she was miraculously healed from tremendous physical sufferings, and she also endured much suffering for love of God and souls, sharing in the passion wounds of Our Lord for the last six years of her life.  She also had an important role in the early life of Mother Angelica.

Rhoda, while still a Protestant, had learned of St. Therese from Sr. Clement, one of the Mercy Sisters who cared for her in hospital. Sister gave her a St. Therese novena prayer, as well as a small shrine, and a devotion to the French Carmelite saint developed.  Eventually, St. Therese herself appeared to Rhoda and healed her of a very painful open wound on her abdomen, which doctors had said was incurable.

When a teenage Rita Rizzo was afflicted with a very painful stomach ailment, her mother took her to visit the local mystic, who gave her a copy of the novena to St. Therese.  On the ninth day, Rita woke up to find that her dropped stomach was cured, and it was this miracle that helped her to first realize how much God loved her.  Her response was whole-hearted and enthusiastic, leading her to give herself completely to God in religious life.  Our Lord once told Rhoda that Rita would do great things for the Church. “My Rita?” she asked.  Who but Our Lord could have known that a feisty young girl with a difficult childhood would go on to found a global television network and, more importantly, teach the world the beauty and value of suffering.  In this, she was just like her friend, Rhoda Wise.

A 19 year old Rita Rizzo (far left) standing next to Rhoda Wise

A 19 year old Rita Rizzo (far right) standing next to Rhoda Wise

Rhoda entered into eternity on July 7, 1948.  Today begins the annual novena leading up to this anniversary.  Here are the novena prayers, taken from the official website of the Rhoda Wise home.  Please visit the website to learn more about Rhoda’s life and the many miracles God worked through her.


NOVENA  PRAYERS

(These Prayers Are For Private Use Only)

My Friend,  you are my true Friend. My only Friend.  You take part in all my misfortunes.  You know how to turn them into blessings.  You listen to me with great kindness when I tell you all my troubles, and you always have something with which to heal my wounds.

I find you at any time of the day or night, for I find you wherever I happen to be.  You never leave me.  If I change my dwelling place,
I find you wherever I go.  You never weary of listening to me.   I am certain of being loved by You, if I but love You.  My worldly goods are of no value to you, but by bestowing yours on me You never grow the poorer.  However miserable I may be, no one more noble, more clever, or even more holy, can come between You and me and deprive me of your friendship.

And death, which tears us away from all other friends will unite me forever to You.  All the humiliations attached to old age or the loss of honor will never separate you from me;  On the contrary, I shall never enjoy You more fully and you will never be closer to me than when everything seems to conspire against me and cast me down.  You bear with all my faults with extreme patience.  Even my lack of fidelity and my ingratitude do not wound you to such a degree as to make you unwilling to receive me back when I return to you.  O Jesus, grant that I may die loving you and that I may die for love of you.  Amen
– St. Claude de la Columbiere

Rhoda_s_Jesus-294x524O Lord Jesus Christ, our Mediator with the Father, Who has appointed the most blessed Virgin, Thy Mother, to be our Mother also and Our Mediatrix before You; grant that whoever draws close to You to beseech any benefit may receive all things through her and rejoice.  You live and reign with the Father and Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

 

rhoda_s_therese-255x264O beautiful Rose of Carmel, Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus, deign according to your promise to descend from Heaven to visit
those who implore you, and to pour down in profusion those Celestial Graces that are symbolized by the shower of roses that Jesus, your Spouse, has put at your disposal.  Your power is great with his Heart.  He can only listen and hear your prayer.  I have recourse to you then, O Saint Therese of the Child Jesus; assist me in this need (mention your intention.) Speak for me to Jesus and to Mary and obtain for me the grace to live a holy life and die a happy death.  Amen

An Our Father, Hail Mary , and Glory be for the intentions of Rhoda Wise.

 “I do not see the Sacred Heart as others do.  I think that my Spouse’s heart is mine alone, as mine is his alone, and I speak to him in the solitude of this delightful heart to heart exchange, waiting for the day when I will contemplate him face to face.”

(St. Therese in a letter to her sister, Celine, October 14, 1890)


 

I cannot mistrust the grace of God

Sir Thomas More and his Daughter 1844, exhibited 1844 John Rogers Herbert 1810-1890 Presented by Robert Vernon 1847

And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world.  Nothing can come but what God wills.  And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.            -St. Thomas More

Today’s feast of the martyrs Saints John Fisher and Thomas More was the perfect day to have Padre Martin Scott join us on the radio.  His religious community, Siervos de la Divina Misericordia, is dedicated to the Divine Mercy, and he spoke with us today about learning to love God and trust in His mercy and forgiveness by being merciful and forgiving ourselves. It was a great show, and we encourage you to listen here on iTunes.  We never tire of talking with Padre!

As we talked about in the beginning of the show, this second reading from today’s Office of Readings (for today’s optional feast), is a beautiful lesson in trust, taken from a letter St. Thomas More wrote to his daughter Meg from prison. (The English Works of Sir Thomas More, London, 1557, p. 1454)

Although I know well, Margaret, that because of my past wickedness I deserve to be abandoned by God, I cannot but trust in his merciful goodness.  His grace has strengthened me until now and made me content to lose goods, land, and life as well, rather than to swear against my conscience.  God’s grace has given the king a gracious frame of mind toward me, so that as yet he has taken from me nothing but my liberty.  In doing this His Majesty has done me such great good with respect to spiritual profit that I trust that among all the great benefits he has heaped so abundantly upon me I count my imprisonment the very greatest.  I cannot, therefore, mistrust the grace of God.  Either he shall keep the king in that gracious frame of mind to continue to do me no harm, or else, if it be his pleasure that for my other sins I suffer in this case as I shall not deserve, then his grace shall give me the strength to bear it patiently, and perhaps even gladly.

By the merits of his bitter passion joined to mine and far surpassing in merit for me all that I can suffer myself, his bounteous goodness shall release me from the pains of purgatory and shall increase my reward in heaven besides.

I will not mistrust him, Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear.  I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to him for help.  And then I trust he shall place his holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning.
And if he permits me to play Saint Peter further and to fall to the ground and to swear and forswear, may God our Lord in his tender mercy keep me from this, and let me lose if it so happen, and never win thereby!  Still, if this should happen, afterward I trust that in his goodness he will look on me with pity as he did upon Saint Peter, and make me stand up again and confess the truth of my conscience afresh and endure here the shame and harm of my own fault.

And finally, Margaret, I know this well: that without my fault he will not let me be lost.  I shall, therefore, with good hope commit myself wholly to him.  And if he permits me to perish for my faults, then I shall serve as praise for his justice.  But in good faith, Meg, I trust that his tender pity shall keep my poor soul safe and make me commend his mercy.

And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world.  Nothing can come but what God wills.  And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.

Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, pray for us

An Eloquent Preacher

M&C w Anthony Padua & Roch_Prado

De Maria numquam satis.
Of Mary, never enough!

This famous saying of St. Bernard is fitting also for today’s saint, Anthony of Padua (or St. Anthony of Portugal, as they say in the country of his birth).  St. Anthony, who also quoted the most eloquent St. Bernard quite often in his sermons, was an eloquent preacher himself – in fact, his tongue is incorrupt to this day as a super natural testament to his gift for preaching.  Born on the feast of the Assumption, Anthony would go on to develop a deep devotion to the Mother of God.  Today we begin a community retreat, and so we ask his intercession that these days may be fruitful and grace-filled.

Below is an excerpt from one of his Marian sermons, this one on the Annunciation.  You can find the entire sermon here, as well as many others.  Note how St. Anthony refers to Our Lady as Mediatrix (we’ve talked a little bit about Our Lady as Mediatrix on our recent radio shows)!
There follows:  And his glory shall be as the olive tree. This stands for peace and mercy.The blessed Virgin Mary, our mediatrix, re-established peace between God and the sinner; for which reason God says of her:  I will set my bow in the clouds. The two principal colours of the rainbow are those of water and of fire. Water, which nourishes all things, represents fecundity; fire, whose flame no sword can injure, represents the inviolate virginity of Mary. This is the sign of the covenant of peace between God and the sinner. It is also the olive-tree of mercy. Therefore blessed Bernard says, “You have a sure access to God, O man, where you have the mother standing before the Son, and the Son before the Father. The mother shows her heart and breasts to her Son, and the Son displays his side and wounds to the Father. There will be no refusal where so many signs of charity come together.”  
There follows:  And his smell as that of Libanus. Libanus means ‘whitening’, and it represents the whiteness of blessed Mary’s innocent life, the fragrance of which spreads everywhere, breathing life to the dead, pardon to the despairing, grace to the penitent and glory to the just.  
By her prayers and merits may the dew of the Holy Spirit refresh the fever of our minds, put away our sins, and infuse grace; that we may become fit to attain the glory of eternal and immortal life. May he grant this!

Hail Thee, Kingly Heart

sacred heart good shepherd

“I hail Thee, kingly Heart most high.”  This is the first line of the first hymn written in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Summi Regis Cor Aveto, ascribed to Bl. Herman Joseph a Norbertine of the 13th century.  Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find a translation, so we can’t give you more than the first line in English.

Christ and Priest at MassWe intended to talk about the origins of devotion to the Sacred Heart (which grew out of devotion to the Five Wounds, particularly the lance wound in the side of Our Lord), but when we found the above icon, it prompted us to think about all the men who are being ordained to the priesthood and transitional diaconate at this time of year.  Let us pray for each one of them, that Our Lady may form them into true images of her Divine Son, the Good Shepherd.  It is the Divine Love of His Sacred Heart, burning for souls, which prompts Our Lord to seek every lost sheep (that is, each one of us), and He has chosen to do this in a particular way through His priests.  Without the priesthood we could not have the sacraments, most especially the Most Blessed Sacrament, our consolation and our food.

The link between the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart is affirmed in the many Eucharistic miracles which the Church has approved over the  centuries.  In cases where the miracles have been found authentic, scientists examining the host-turned-tissue find human heart muscle!  Most recently in Poland Bishop Kiernikowski has approved a miracle which took place in 2013.  Upon examination “the histopathological tissue fragments were found containing a fragmented part of the skeletal muscle. … The whole image … is most similar to the heart muscle … as it appears under the strains of agony. Genetic studies indicate the origin as human tissue.”

Jesus promised He would not leave us orphans, and so He does not leave us without shepherds, nor without occasional confirmations of His Word and His Presence in the Holy Eucharist.

jesus-precious-bloodIllo fonte me fecunda,
Salva, sana, fove, munda,
Ex te laute qui manavit
Totum hominemque lavit,
In te hasta dum flectitur.