Prayer to the Guardian Angel of the United States

IMG_1419 - Version 2Today, as the 538 members of the Electoral College cast their votes, let’s remember to say a prayer for them, as well as for our nation.  This is a beautiful prayer to our country’s Guardian Angel from Opus Sanctorum Angelorum.

Prayer to the Guardian Angel of the United States

O Glorious Guardian Angel of the United States, to whom God has entrusted the care of our beloved country, we honor you and thank you for the care and protection you have given to this great nation from the first moment of its inception.
O Powerful Angel Guardian, whose watchful glance encompasses this vast land from shore to shore, we know that our sins have grieved you and marred the beauty of our heritage. Lead us to a deep conversion, so that we may return to the embrace of His merciful love!
O Holy Angel, obtain for us, through the intercession of the Queen of Heaven before the throne of God the graces we need to overcome the forces of evil so rampant in our beloved land.
Help us, our God-given protector and friend, to respond wholeheartedly to the urgent pleas of the Mother of God at Fatima.  Assist us to offer the prayers and sacrifices necessary to bring peace and goodness to our nation.
We want to make you known and loved throughout our land, so that docile to your inspirations we may know, love and serve our Lord more faithfully and so become once more “one Nation under God”!  Amen.

O Maria, sine labe concepta, ora pro nobis qui ad te confugimus.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

“My Daughter, I Want to Teach You About Spiritual Warfare”

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My daughter, I want to teach you about spiritual warfare…

Our Lord spoke these words to St. Faustina in 1938, directing her for three days while she was on retreat (full text at the end of this post).  Each of us is engaged, here on earth, with the spiritual battle which rages unseen all around us between satan and his demons, and us, the people of God, and His angels.  It’s an overwhelming thought, that all hell is waging war against us, against Christ’s Church, against the Kingdom of God, but it is true, and we must be aware and well-prepared.  Perhaps it’s not so hard to imagine spiritual warfare, when we can look around and see the wars and tensions Continue reading

On the Feast of Our Holy Father Francis

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Let us all, brothers, consider the Good Shepherd who to save His sheep bore the suffering of the Cross. The sheep of the Lord followed Him in tribulation and persecution and shame, in hunger and thirst, in infirmity and temptations and in all other ways; and for these things they have received everlasting life from the Lord. Wherefore it is a great shame for us, the servants of God, that, whereas the Saints have practised works, we should expect to receive honor and glory for reading and preaching the same.

-From the Admonitions of Our Holy Father St. Francis, Of the Imitation of the Lord

A blessed Feast of Our Holy Father Saint Francis to everyone!  This solemnity of our founder has crept up on us this year, we have been so busy with unexpected travel, on img_4963top of the regular things that keep us busy. One of the mortifications of religious life is that you never get to finish anything – no matter what you are doing, when the bell rings calling you to the next duty, whether to prayer or recreation or meals, you must stop what you’re doing and go. This is always hard to adjust to.  And of course sometimes God rings a different kind of bell in our lives and we are forced to drop everything and go.  This happened to us recently and we found ourselves traveling out-of-state due to the unexpected passing of Sr. Mary Peter’s father, Jules.  Please pray for the blessed repose of his soul, and for the comfort and consolation of his family.

God brought many surprise blessings from this sorrow, one of them being this beautiful painting of St. Francis blessing his friars and sending them out two by two.  We don’t know the provenance of this work, but we are so thrilled to have it img_4971grace our little “monastery”.  We can’t wait for the day when it is it can adorn the wall in our permanent home.  As mentioned in our last blog, we have also obtained an incredible set of Stations of the Cross, all hand-carved a hundred years ago. They are stunning, and we can’t wait to share pictures of them with you.  It’s exciting to think that one day they will be installed in our chapel and the faithful can pray and meditate with them.  We spent yesterday cleaning a decade’s worth of dust off of them (they have been in storage for that long), which was kind of a fitting way to spend the vigil of Our Holy Father Francis, since the history of this devotion is closely linked to the Franciscans.

Looking for a hymn to include with this blog we came across an interesting article about the Franciscan chant in the medieval liturgy.  If you are musically inclined you might want to img_4966check it out.  There is also a beautiful hymn, though not well-known, to St. Francis, which focuses on his stigmata.  We were going to post Nos Autem, which would have been a fitting chant for today, but were excited to find a beautiful mp3 of Corda  Pia Inflammantum which we could share with you.  It might have been more appropriate for September 17, the Feast of the Stigmata of Our Holy Father Francis, but since this painting portrays his stigmata so well, we thought it would be great today, and that way we don’t wait to have to wait another year to share it with you.

Click here for a PDF of notation and words.

Tonight we will enjoy a special Mass celebrated in our chapel by our priest friend, Fr. Matthew, and a good dinner (Italian, of course, like our holy founder) – a small reflection on earth of the feasting and communion St. Francis and all the blessed now enjoy in the eternal light of the Blessed Trinity.

We’ll leave you with a couple verses from Corda Pia:

Fac ut nos in regno lucis Perfru ́amur fructu Crucis, Quo læt ́emur cæ ́litus.
Collaud ́etur Crucif ́ıxus, Franc ́ıscus prorsus inn ́ıxus Super mundi fœ ́dera.

Make us benefit from the fruit of the Cross in the kingdom of light where we may rejoice with the heavenly one.
Let the Crucified One be praised with Francis who is resting above the plottings of the world.

Michaelmas

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Thus we praise with veneration
All the armies of the sky;
Chiefly him, the warrior primate,
Of celestial chivalry,
Michael, who in princely virtue
Cast Abaddon from on high.

By whose watchful care repelling –
King of everlasting grace –
Every ghostly adversary,
All things evil, all things base,
Grant us of Thine only goodness,
In Thy paradise a place.

-From Tibi Christe, Splendor Patris, by Rabanus Maurus (776-856)

Today is the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, and since our monastery is dedicated to St. Michael, we tend to give him the spotlight.  After all, he is the Prince of the Heavenly Host.  Hopefully the other archangels understand our bias.

Seriously, though, whenever we meet someone and tell them our future monastery will be dedicated to St. Michael, they always say how much they love him, and how needed he is today.  So Screen Shot 2016-09-29 at 4.11.01 PM.pngmany people we encounter are devoted to him, and so many saints have been close to him, too.  St. Francis’ devotion was well known, and it was during his fast leading up to the feast of St. Michael that the Poverello received the stigmata.  St. Michael being the patron of soldiers and police, we pray to him daily for the protection of all our police, firemen and armed forces.

There are all kinds of interesting traditions associated with his feast day.  In England tradition held that you should eat a goose on Michaelmas to ensure prosperity throughout the year.  This could have derived from the fact that September 29th was also one of the four “Quarter Days” of the year (the others are March 25th, June 24th, and December 25th – did you notice they’re all important feasts), when rents were due, new leases begun and servants hired.  Tenants would bring a stubble goose (a goose that had been fattened on the stubble leftover after harvest) to their landlord when paying their dues, in the hopes of making him more lenient.  This may be how the goose and prosperity came to be associated.

Michaelmas used to fall on October 11 (or 10th according to some) and the tradition was that you shouldn’t pick any blackberries after this date, since it was the day St. Michael cast Lucifer out of heaven, throwing him to earth where he landed in a blackberry bush.  The devil cursed the blackberry bush and its sharp brambles (or spat on it, depending on which region we’re talking about – or even worse, if you’re in Cornwall).  img_3121Although we’ve never encountered wild blackberries here in south central Texas, we did have the chance to pick some last year when on retreat in Washington state.  Don’t worry, it was before Michaelmas.

This feast of St. Michael, our friend and patron, is an auspicious day, because as you read this, an incredibly beautiful set of antique stations of the cross are on their way to us!  They are hand carved and quite large, and we can’t wait for the day when we can install them in a beautiful church.  Thanks to St. Michael, St. Anthony and some very generous benefactors, we were able to purchase these one-of-a-kind works of art.  And with our heavenly helpers’ continued assistance, we hope to keep collecting beautiful church antiques to adorn God’s house, so that when it is built it will be bursting with beauty everywhere you look.  Pray for that endeavor, and pray to St. Michael daily, if you don’t already, that he will guard and protect you, your loved ones, the Church and our nation from the snares of the enemy.  He has already won the war, but we’re still in the fight.

Here are the words from the poem in honor of St. Michael, which you heard sung so ethereally (see top of post) by the Ensemble Cosmedin.

Tibi Christe, splendor Patris by Rabanus Maurus (776-856)

Latin original

Tibi, Christe, splendor Patris
vita, virtus cordium
in conspectu Angelorum.
Votis, vocis psalimus
alternantes concrepando
melos damus vocibus.

Collaudamus venerantes
omnes coeli milites
sed praecipue primatem.
Coelestis exercitus
Michaelem in virtute
conterentem Zabulum.

Quo custode procul pelle
rex Christe piissime
omne nefas inimici.
Mundos corde et corpore
paradiso redde tuo
nos sola clementia.

Gloriam Patri melodis
personemus vocibus;
Gloriam Christo canamus,
Gloriam Paraclito,
Qui trinus et unus Deus
Extat ante saecula. Amen.

English translation

Thee, O Christ, the Father’s splendour,
Life and virtue of the heart,
In the presence of the angels
Sing we now with tuneful art,
Meetly in alternate chorus,
Bearing our responsive part.

Thus we praise with veneration
All the armies of the sky;
Chiefly him, the warrior primate,
Of celestial chivalry,
Michael, who in princely virtue
Cast Abaddon from on high.

By whose watchful care repelling –
King of everlasting grace –
Every ghostly adversary,
All things evil, all things base,
Grant us of Thine only goodness,
In Thy paradise a place.

Laud and honour to the Father,
Laud and honour to the Son,
Laud and honour to the Spirit,
Ever Three, and ever One,
Consubstantial, co-eternal,
While unending ages run.
Translation by John Mason Neale

A Flight to Remember

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Left to right: Sr. Grace Marie, Mother Angelica, Mother Teresa, Sr. Raphael, Sr. Margaret Mary

It was an October evening in the late 1980’s.  Mother Angelica, Bill Steltemeier, Sr Margaret Mary, Sr Raphael and myself were standing in JFK Airport in New York, waiting to board a Pan Am flight to Rome.  Seeing two Missionaries of Charity also waiting ahead of us, I pointed them out to Rev. Mother,  “Oh, look Mother they’ll be on the same flight as us!”  No sooner had I made the observation, then a PR person for Pan Am came up to Mother and said, “Aren’t you Mother Angelica?”  As soon as she answered in the affirmative the woman said excitedly “Wonderful! We also have Mother Teresa on this flight, and we would like to upgrade you and your group to first class, as we have done with Mother.  Mother doesn’t like it, but we don’t give her a choice.”  The lady spoke with a smile that said we didn’t have a choice either.

Before anything else could be discussed we found ourselves being ushered onto a fairly empty aircraft, and there sitting near the entrance of the plane was Mother Teresa of Calcutta!  She immediately got up and greeted Mother Angelica and the rest of us.  I couldn’t believe that these two amazing women were together on the same flight, one who attended to the corporal works of mercy, and the other the spiritual works and…that I was on the flight with them!  Needless to say, this was possibly the only journey in my life that I felt absolutely no fear of any mishap!

I assumed that after the introduction that would be pretty much that for the rest of the trip, with perhaps these two spiritual giants speaking alone to each other.  Mother Angelica and Mother Teresa did sit together and speak for some time, but then, to my joy, in her kindness she sat with Sr Margaret Mary and myself and spoke to us. Her words, as always, were simple yet powerful, some things we had heard a hundred times before, but somehow, out of her lips, the words took on a new and greater meaning because of her great holiness.  She took her time and spoke to each one of us with a thoughtful attentiveness that made one feel regarded and loved.

During the remainder of the trip as she sat with her sisters ( and a brother), one felt her immense prayerfulness of heart, it was a great sense of the cloister that she carried with her. It was clear how she managed to accomplish so much: by her constant attention to and deep union with her Lord.  The Reverend Billy Graham once said of Mother Teresa, “When she walked into the room to greet me I felt that I was indeed meeting a saint.” He was of course right!

We arrived in Rome and said our good-byes. How grateful I was for the opportunity to have met this wonderful woman, a true daughter of the Church, who stopped at nothing to do God’s Will, bringing the light of Jesus to so many dark and hopeless places, just as He asked her, “Bring me into the dark holes of the poor. Come, carry me, I cannot go alone.

There is little doubt in my mind that she will be no less tireless in interceding in heaven for those who ask for her help than she was whilst on earth, for as she once said, “I’m not going to sleep in heaven, but I’m going to work harder in another form.”  She is another member of that great crowd of witnesses whom St Paul speaks about in Hebrews 12, praying for us and urging us ever forward. We join the Church and the world in thanking God for the canonization of this great intercessor for us.  St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!

St. Augustine & Humility

St.-AugustineSomehow it didn’t seem so long, but we’ve been away from the blog for a while, so the feast of St. Augustine seems as good a time as any to dust the cobwebs from our digital parlor.

Though he’s been bumped today because his feast falls on a Sunday, it’s not difficult to tie this great Father of the Church into today’s Gospels, since he had so much to say about so many things.  It seems as though half of the patristic readings in the Office of Readings come from him, so we spend a good part of our lives listening to his sermons.  And while we didn’t find a specific homily on today’s reading from Luke (Lk 14:1,7-14), where Jesus encourages us to take the lowest place at the table because every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted, he did have a lot to say on humility.  In fact, he said it was central to the Christian faith and the first rung on the ladder to perfection.

It is significant that Augustine saw his moment of moral conversion in the garden at Milan as being prompted by a little child (he professed unawareness of the gender of the child, or even of the ditty the child was singing). (Confessions 8, 12, 29) It was not a conversion moment that happened in a dialogue with the Bishop [Ambrose], but through the unintended singing of an unseen child who was unaware of the impact being made.  This was a perfect vehicle of conversion for one sorely tempted by pride.   (From augnet.org)

Here is what St. Augustine himself said to us this morning in the Office:

Let us then follow Christ’s paths which he has revealed to us, above all the path of humility, which he himself became for us. He showed us that path by his precepts, and he himself followed it by his suffering on our behalf. In order to die for us—because as God he could not die— the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The immortal One took on mortality that he might die for us, and by dying put to death our death.

This is what the Lord did, this the gift he granted to us. The mighty one was brought low, the lowly one was slain, and after he was slain, he rose again and was exalted. For he did not intend to leave us dead in hell, but to exalt in himself at the resurrection of the dead those whom he had already exalted and made just by the faith and praise they gave him. Yes, he gave us the path of humility. If we keep to it we shall confess our belief in the Lord and have good reason to sing: We shall praise you, God, we shall praise you and call upon your name.

St. Augustine, bishop and doctor, pray for us!

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)