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!

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.

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.

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.

Friday of Sorrows

 

As we view the headlines today, and feel sorrow and the need for prayer, we turn to Our Lady on this Friday before Holy Week, traditionally called Friday of Sorrows, a day during Passion Week when we especially remember the sorrows of Our Lady, who suffered with her Divine Son as He was mocked and scourged and crucified.  In the Divine Worship Missal this day is called “St. Mary in Passiontide” and many Spanish-speaking countries, so devoted to the sorrows of Our Lady, consider this the beginning of Holy Week observances, including processions and public acts of penance.

Here is the Collect for this day as found in Divine Worship: The Missal:

O LORD in whose Passion, according to the prophecy of
Simeon, the sword of sorrow did pierce the most loving
soul of thy glorious Virgin Mother Mary: mercifully grant that we, who devoutly call to mind the suffering whereby she was pierced, may, by the glorious merits and prayers of all the Saints who have stood beneath the Cross, obtain with gladness the benefits of thy Passion; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.
Amen.

And because we just can’t let pass an opportunity to post the Stabat Mater, here is a contemporary rendition by Stefano Lenten

The Incarnation

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Moved by love and wishing to reconcile the human race to yourself, you gave us your only-begotten Son. He became our mediator and our justice by taking on all our injustice and sin out of obedience to your will, eternal Father, just as you willed that he take on our human nature. What an immeasurably profound love! Your Son went down from the heights of his divinity to the depths of our humanity. Can anyone’s heart remain closed and hardened after this?

We image your divinity, but you image our humanity in that union of the two which you have worked in a man. You have veiled the Godhead in a cloud, in the clay of our humanity. Only your love could so dignify the flesh of Adam. And so by reason of this immeasurable love I beg, with all the strength of my soul, that you freely extend your mercy to all your lowly creatures.

-St. Catherine of Siena

The Incarnation of the Lord, the central point of all human history, has been the source of countless songs, poems, art and meditations throughout the history of the Church.  We can never plumb the depths of this mystery, that God, moved by love for fallen man, would take on human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, to redeem us.  As Fulton Sheen famously said, Jesus Christ was the only man born to die.  The Incarnation is also the beginning of His Passion, so this mystery, like so many, holds joy tinged with sorrow that leads to the Resurrection.  This is the mystery of Christ’s earthly life, and it is also the mystery of our lives, that whether we are rejoicing or bearing the cross, we can be assured that it’s purpose is for our sanctification and salvation.

The Annunciation usually falls within Lent, a welcome reprieve, and this year it falls on the day before Laetare Sunday, another moment to relax our Lenten discipline a bit before we enter into the final weeks of our Lenten journey towards Calvary and Our Lord’s Passion.  The sorrow and the joy, rather than contradicting each other, actually serve to deepen and sweeten each other. By God’s grace we can grow to understand this more and more, adding a depth and authenticity to our lives and our relationships, both with God and each other.  When we can learn to endure suffering, rather than run from it, to not just endure it but grow from it, become more Christ-like and docile to His Will, then we can, like Our Lord and the saints, eventually come to find some joy in it – not some kind of masochistic dysfunction, which is how the world characterizes the Catholic understanding of suffering, but a peace and joy that comes from being conformed to God’s Will, that comes from bearing a part of the Cross with Our Lord.  Like the saints and martyrs, we can then experience the Resurrection, even in the midst of the Crucifixion.

[Well, we didn’t intend to talk about suffering and the cross on such a joyful day, but we hope you can enjoy the beautiful song at the top of the page anyway.  It’s by The Medieval Baebes.]

A Sign of Contradiction

6bc34ad8ad29151deed7006b4caab9f6We wanted to share with you some thoughts on today’s Feast of the Presentation from Venerable Fulton J Sheen excerpted from his book Life of Christ:

We find here another instance of how God in the form of man shared the poverty of mankind.  The traditional offerings for purification were a lamb and a turtledove if the parents we6bc34ad8ad29151deed7006b4caab9f6re rich, and two doves or two pigeons if they were poor.  Thus the mother who brought the Lamb of God into the world had no lamb to offer–except the Lamb of God.  God was presented in the temple at the age of forty days. About thirty years later He would claim the temple and use it as the symbol of His Body in which dwelt the fullness of Divinity.  Here it was not the Firstborn of Mary alone Who was presented, but the Firstborn of the Eternal Father.  As the Only begotten of the Father, He was now presented as the Firstborn of restored humanity.  A new race began in Him…

Simeon was like a sentinel whom God had sent to watch for the Light.  When the Light finally appeared, he was ready to sing his Nunc Dimittis.  In a poor Child brought by poor people making a poor offering, Simeon discovered the riches of the world.  Asscreen-shot-2017-02-02-at-10-09-52-am this old man held the Child in his arms, he was not like the aged of whom Horace speaks, He did not look back, but forward, and not only to the future of his own people but to the future of all the Gentiles of all the tribes and nations of the earth.  An old man at the sunset of his own life spoke of the sunrise of the world; in the evening of life he told of the promise of a new day.  He had seen the Messias before by faith; now his eyes could close, for there was nothing more beautiful to look upon.  Some flowers open only in the evening.  What he had seen now was “Salvation” –not salvation from poverty, but salvation from sin…

…He saw furthermore that there were sorrows in store for her, not for Joseph.  Simeon said:

Behold, this Child is destined for the fall
And for the rise of many in Israel,
And for a sign that shall be contradicted.

Luke 2:34

It was as if the whole history of the Divine Child were passing before the eyes of the old man.  Every detail of that prophecy was to be fulfilled within the lifetime of the Babe.  Here was a hard fact of the Cross, affirmed even before the tiny arms of the Babe could stretch themselves out straight enough to make the form of a cross.  The Child would create terrible strife between good and evil, stripping the masks from each, thus provoking a terrible hatred.  He would be at once a touchstone that would reveal the motives and dispositions of human hearts.  Men would no longer be the same once they had heard His name and learned of His life. They would be compelled either to accept Him, or reject Him.  About Him there would be no such thing as compromise:  only acceptance or rejection, resurrection or death.  He would, by His very nature, make men reveal their secret attitudes toward God.  His mission would be not to put souls on trial, but to redeem them; and yet, because their souls were sinful, some men would detest His coming.

It would henceforth be His fate to encounter fanatical opposition from mankind even unto death itself, and this would involve Mary in cruel distress.  The angel had told her, “Blessed screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-10-51-08-amart thou among women,” and Simeon was now telling her that in her blessedness she would be the Mater Dolorosa.  One of the penalties of original sin was that a woman should bring forth her child in sorrow; Simeon was saying that she would continue to live in the sorrow of her Child.  If He was to be the Man of Sorrows, she would be the Mother of Sorrows.  An unsuffering Madonna to the suffering Christ would be a loveless Madonna.  Since Christ loved mankind so much that He wanted to die to expiate its guilt, then He would also will that His mother should be wrapped in the swaddling bands of His own grief.

From the moment she heard Simeon’s words, she would never again lift the Child’s hands without seeing a shadow of nails on them; every sunset would be a blood-red image of His Passion.  Simeon was throwing away the sheath that hid the future from human eyes, and letting the blade of the world’s first sorrow flash in front of her eyes.  Every pulse that she would feel i the tiny wrist would be like an echo of an oncoming hammer.  If He was dedicated to salvation through suffering, so was she.  no sooner was t his young life launched than Simeon, like an old mariner, talked of shipwreck.  No cup of the Father’s bitterness had yet come to the lips of the Babe, and yet a sword was shown to His mother.

The nearer Christ comes to a heart, the more it becomes conscious of its guilt; it will then either ask for His mercy and find peace, or else it will turn against Him because it is not yet ready to give up its sinfulness.  Thus He will separate the good from the bad, the wheat from the chaff.  Man’s reaction to this Divine Presence will be the test:  either it will call out all the opposition of egotistic natures, or else galvanize them into a regeneration and a resurrection.screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-10-55-45-am

Simeon was practically calling Him the “Divine Disturber,” Who would provoke human hearts either to good or evil.  Once confronted with Him, they must subscribe either to light or darkness.  Before everyone else they can be “broadminded”; but His Presence reveals their hearts t one either fertile ground or hard rock.  He cannot come to hearts without clarifying them and dividing them; once in His Presence, a heart discovers both its own thoughts about goodness and its own thoughts about God…

After saying that He was a sign to be contradicted, Simeon turned to the mother, adding:

As for thy own soul, it shall have a
Sword to pierce it.

Luke 2:35

She was told that He would be rejected by the world, and with His Crucifixion there would be her transfixion.  As the Child willed the Cross for Himself, so He willed the Sword of Sorrow for her.  If He chose to be a Man of Sorrows, he also chose her to be a Mother of Sorrows!  God does not always spare the good from grief.  The Father spared not the Son, and the Son spared not the mother.  With His Passion there must be her compassion.  An unsuffering Christ Who did not freely pay the debt of human guilt would be reduced to the level of an ethical guide; and a mother who did not share in His sufferings would be unworthy of her great role.

Simeon not only unsheathed a sword; he also told her where Providence had destined it to screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-10-53-48-ambe driven.  Later on, the Child would say, “I came to bring the sword.”  Simeon told her that she would feel it in her heart while her Son was hanging on the sign of contradiction and she was standing beneath it transfixed in grief.  The spear that would physically pierce His heart would mystically be run into her own heart.  The Babe came to die, not to live, for His name was “Savior.”

-From Life of Christ, by Fulton J Sheen