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.

The Transitus of Our Holy Father Francis

This evening at Vespers Franciscans the world over celebrated the holy passing of our Seraphic Father Saint Francis, his transition from this life to eternal glory, his transitus.  He was no more than 45 years old at his death, but 791 years later he is still at work in the world and the Church. Here is a little snippet from the Transitus service:

Litany of Saint Francis, Our Seraphic Father

Lord, have mercy on us. (repeat)
Christ, have mercy on us. (repeat)
Lord, have mercy on us. (repeat)

Christ, hear us.
R. O Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven:
R. Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world:
God, the Holy Ghost:
Holy Trinity, one God:

Holy Mary: R. Pray for us.
Immaculate Virgin:
Mother and Mistress of our Order:

Saint Francis, Seraphic Father: R. Pray for us.
Saint Francis, Patriarch of the Poor:
Saint Francis, Founder and Leader of three armies of God:
Saint Francis, Abraham of the Gospel by reason of thy countless children:
Saint Francis, like unto the Baptist in the preaching of penance:
Saint Francis, like unto Moses, giving the law of perfection:
Saint Francis, like unto Elijah, borne aloft in a fiery chariot:
Saint Francis, herald of the great King:
Saint Francis, messenger of peace:
Saint Francis, valiant knight of Christ:
Saint Francis, mighty lover of souls:
Saint Francis, example of Gospel perfection:
Saint Francis, spouse of Lady Poverty:
Saint Francis, model of dedicated chastity:
Saint Francis, master of holy obedience:
Saint Francis, sublime in corporal penance:
Saint Francis, uplifted in heavenly contemplation:
Saint Francis, marked with the Stigmata of Jesus:
Saint Francis, verily a living crucifix:
Saint Francis, wholly set on fire with seraphic love:
Saint Francis, lover of the Babe of Bethlehem:
Saint Francis, lover of the Sacred Passion:
Saint Francis, lover of the Blessed Sacrament:
Saint Francis, lover of the Name of Jesus:
Saint Francis, lover of the Holy Scriptures:
Saint Francis, lover of all the creatures of God:
Saint Francis, physician of the sick:
Saint Francis, light of the blind:
Saint Francis, healer of the lepers:
Saint Francis, raiser of the dead:
Saint Francis, terror of demons:
Saint Francis, enthroned in Lucifer’s place:
Saint Francis, apostle of the infidels:
Saint Francis, martyr in desire:
Saint Francis, confessor of the Faith:
Saint Francis, virgin in soul:
Saint Francis, endowed with the virtues of the Sacred Heart:
Saint Francis, our Advocate:

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world:
R. Hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world:
R. Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world:
R. Have mercy on us.

Pray for us, O blessed Father Francis. Alleluia.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Alleluia.

Celebrant: Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, when the world was waxing
cold, to the inflaming of our hearts with the fire of Thy love didst
renew in the flesh of our most blessed Father Francis the sacred
marks of Thy passion: mercifully grant that by his merits and
intercession, we may be enabled ever to bear Thy Cross, and to bring
forth fruits worthy of repentance. Who livest and reignest forever
and ever. Amen.

An Account of the Holy Death of Saint Francis

Saint Francis spent the last few days before his death in praising the
Lord and teaching his companions whom he loved so much to praise
Christ with him. He himself, in as far as he was able, broke out with
the Psalm: I cry to the Lord with my voice; to the Lord I make loud
supplication. He likewise invited all creatures to praise God and, with
the words he had composed earlier, he exhorted them to love God.
Even death itself, considered by all to be so terrible and hateful, was
exhorted to give praise, while he himself, going joyfully to meet it,
invited it to make its abode with him. “Welcome,” he said, “my
sister death.” (Celano, Second Life.)
When the hour of his death approached, Francis asked that all of the
brothers living with him be called to his death bed and softening his
departure with consoling words, he encouraged them with fatherly
affection to love God. He spoke of patience and poverty and of being
faithful to the Holy Roman Church, giving precedence to the Holy
Gospels before all else. He then stretched his hands over the brothers
in the form of a cross, a symbol that he loved so much, and gave his
blessings to all followers, both present and absent, in the power and
in the name of the Crucified. Then he added: “Remain, my sons, in
the fear of the Lord and be with him always. And as temptations and
trials beset you, blessed are those who persevere to the end in the life
they have chosen. I am on my way to God and I commend you all to
His favor.”
With this sweet admonition, this dearly beloved to God, asked that
the book of the Gospels be brought to him and that the passage in the
Gospel of Saint John, which begins before the Feast of the Passover be
read. Finally, when all God’s mysteries had been accomplished in
him, his holy soul was freed from his body and assumed into the abyss
of God’s glory, and Francis fell asleep in God. (Bonaventure, Major
Life.)

The Archangels

The Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, whom we celebrate today, adore and serve God, and help us poor sinners. It’s rather awe-inspiring to think that these pure spirits, so far beyond us in intelligence and capabilities, deign to serve, help and protect us, who are so much lower than them in the order of nature.  In the Old Testament when an angel would appear to help or instruct one of God’s faithful, they were struck with fear, falling on their face at the awful majesty of God’s Messenger.  Today when we hear stories of angelic encounters they are often described as beautiful or handsome in an otherworldly way, and exuding strength and power unlike that of mere men.

Yesterday we came across this article, which recounts some fascinating stories of people in grave danger who were rescued by what they believe were angels. And why not?  Sometimes the explanation which makes the most sense is the one that is supernatural.  And we’ve all heard first-hand from friends or relatives who have had some experience with angel-like helpers who mysteriously show up at just the right moment.  In fact, at the end of the article linked above is Deacon Bill’s account of an experience he and Mother Angelica had in Italy with a car full of angels!  Sr. Grace Marie was one of the sisters there when the mysterious and handsome strangers arrived on the scene to help, and she agrees that they were most certainly angels.

And, as the article also points out, there are fallen angels, who want to lead us away from God just as much as the faithful angels want to lead us to God.  All of us, members of the Church Militant, must be very aware of the fact that we are in a battle zone, and the battle is for our souls.  God gives us all the helps we need, the Sacraments, sacramentals, and our heavenly protectors the angels and saints, but we must put those gifts, helps, and graces to good use.  It’s no good having the finest armor if you’re not willing to put it on and wear it.

For me, the hymns and chants of the Eastern and Orthodox Churches convey the strength and power of the angels in a very moving way.  This is one hymn to St. Michael chanted in the Byzantine style.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find the words, but even without knowing the words, the chant alone conveys something of the power and strength of the Prince of the Heavenly Hosts.  Obviously we are especially devoted to him since he is the patron of our monastery, and even though today we celebrate Sts. Gabriel and Raphael, too, we do give him extra attention.  And the world needs devotion to him so much right now, devotion to him and Our Lady.  Whenever we meet people who ask about our monastery, they are always excited to hear that it is dedicated to Saint Michael.  It seems everyone understands the important role he plays in our lives.  I came across this on an Orthodox website: We invoke Saint Michael for protection from invasion by enemies and from civil war, and for the defeat of adversaries on the field of battle. He conquers all spiritual enemies.  I thought it especially timely considering the precarious situation our nation faces, with many fomenting violence and hatred so openly now, and promising to unleash a new wave of violence and “resistance” in November.

The 100th anniversary of Fatima is fast approaching, but so is the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.  The spiritual war that has been raging since the fall of the angels is visible in the war and strife that mankind has experienced throughout history.  And the last 100 years have been especially bloody.  We must continue to pray, to strive to live lives of grace and fidelity, remaining faithful to Our Lord and His Church, which isn’t an easy task and likely won’t get any easier in the near future.  But we are members of the Church Militant, we are born for battle, sealed as soldiers of Christ at our Confirmation, and if we remain steadfast and faithful He will guide us through this battle, to final victory at the close of our lives.

O Commanders of the Heavenly Host, we the unworthy beseech you, that through your entreaties you will fortify us, guarding us in the shelter of the wings of your ethereal glory, even as we fervently bow before you crying: “Deliver us from all danger, as Commanders of the Powers on high!”  -From the Orthodox Synaxis of the Archangel Michael

Majestic Queen of Heaven and Mistress of the Angels, thou didst receive from God the power and commission to crush the head of satan; wherefore we humbly beseech thee, send forth the legions of heaven, that, under thy command, they may seek out all evil spirits, engage them everywhere in battle, curb their insolence, and hurl them back into the pit of hell. “Who is like unto God?” O good and tender Mother, thou shalt ever be our hope and the object of our love. O Mother of God, send forth the holy angels to defend me and drive far from me the cruel foe. Holy Angels and Archangels, defend us and keep us. (go here for the full prayer)

Ranch Walk

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As the sun by its rays adorns the leaves and branches of plants with colors and keeps each vigorous in its proper species, so the grace of God by its illumination adorns man with virtues, enkindles in him the fire of love, makes him beautiful in God’s sight and brings his nature to perfection without inflicting any injury.  

                                                                                             -St Joseph of Cupertino

Today was the perfect day for a long walk on the ranch!  On our calendar it was the feast of St. Joseph of Cupertino, an extraordinary saint known for mystical experiences which caused him to levitate often, but even more than this, he was deeply humble and joyful despite much suffering.

A compilation of some of his thoughts and sayings, which we read during the Office of Readings, yields some real gems.  Providentially, he mentions plants, fruit and birds – all of which I found on my walk.  In addition to the pomegranate I also cut a small bunch of mustang grapes – they’re pretty tart but it’s kind of exciting to nibble on “wild” food.  Still have to find out the names of all these lovely plants and flowers that populated my walk today.FullSizeRender-1

A reading from the thoughts and saying of Saint Joseph of Cupertino
(G. Pariscianti: S. Giuseppe da Cupertino alla luce dei nuovi documenti, Osimo 1963)

      The three most important things for a religious are: to love God with all his heart, to praise him continually, to be a light to others by his good example. No one intent on living a spiritual or religious life can ever reach perfection without the love of God. He who has love is rich even though he may be unaware of his riches, and he who does not have love is indeed very unfortunate. As the sun by its rays adorns the leaves and branches of plants with colors and keeps each vigorous in its proper species, so the grace of God by its illumination adorns man with virtues, enkindles in him the fire of love, makes him beautiful in God’s sight and brings his nature to perfection without inflicting any injury.

     Clearly, what God wants above all is our will which we received as a free gift from God in creation and possess as though our own. When a man trains himself to acts of virtue it is with the help of grace from God from whom all good things come that he does this. The will is what man has as his unique possession. God is therefore most pleased if man renounces his own will and places himself completely in God’s hand.

     As a fruit tree bears most fruit when it is carefully tended, so man proceeding along the way of God must always grow and advance in virtue so that he can bear the choicest fruits of sanctity, give an example of virtue to draw others and lead them safely to the way of the Lord. To bear sufferings and misfortunes patiently for the love of God must be considered a special grace which God grants to those who love him.

     As our Lord Jesus Christ endured so many bitter sufferings for our sake so God wants us also to share in his sufferings. Surely, if you are gold, tribulation will purify you of dross; if you are iron, your rust will be scoured off.

     Consider the birds of the air; they come down to the ground to get food but swiftly fly back into the air. Similarly the servants of God must stay on the earth only as long as is necessary and soar up quickly again to heaven in spirit to praise and glorify God. Note too how careful birds are not to land in muddy places and how they avoid tumbling into the dirt. In like manner men must not involve themselves in things that defile the soul but soar aloft again in spirit to glorify the Most High God by their holy deeds.

Prayer
O God, Who didst purpose to draw all things unto Thy Son when He was lifted up from the earth: mercifully grant that we, by the merits and example of Thy seraphic Confessor, Joseph, being lifted above all earthly desires, may be worthy to come unto Him: Who with Thee livest and reignest world without end.  Amen.

More Than A Martyr

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He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his.     -St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Sin may seem exciting, but the truth is, it’s dull.  It dulls the faculties God gifted us with when He created us.  The more we sin, the more numb we become to its effects on our intellect, our will, and our senses.   Because Our Lady was free from sin, even from the stain of original sin, her capacity to feel emotion was so much keener than ours.  Her capacity to love, to feel joy and to feel sorrow and compassion were far beyond what we experience.

Our Lady’s martyrdom is foretold by Simeon, as Luke tells us:

And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed. (Lk 2:34-35)  

Her martyrdom reached its apex on Calvary, as she watched her Divine Son suffer and die upon the Cross for sinful mankind, and then finally, the sword prophesied by Simeon pierced her soul.

Truly, O blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart. For only by passing through your heart could the sword enter the flesh of your Son. Indeed, after your Jesus—who belongs to everyone, but is especially yours—gave up his life, the cruel spear, which was not withheld from his lifeless body, tore open his side. Clearly it did not touch his soul and could not harm him, but it did pierce your heart. For surely his soul was no longer there, but yours could not be torn away. Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your heart, and we rightly call you more than martyr, since the effect of compassion in you has gone beyond the endurance of physical suffering.     -St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Because of her special role in revealing the thoughts of men’s hearts by her suffering, Fr. Chad Ripperger, an exorcist who speaks often about spiritual warfare, says that Our Lady of Sorrows can help us especially when we are trying to uncover the root cause of our sins but seem to blocked.  When there is something holding us back from entering into a deeper relationship with God, we can ask Our Lady of Sorrows to intercede and show us what we’re missing.  For more on this, you can listen to his talk on Our Lady of Sorrows (he speaks about how she can help reveal hidden knowledge of ourselves at about 9:28 into the talk).

O God, who didst will that in the passion of thy Son a sword of grief should pierce the soul of the blessed Virgin Mary his Mother: Mercifully grant that thy Church, having shared with her in his passion, may be made worthy to share in the joys of his resurrection; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.