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Monthly Archives: May 2013

ACCEPTING JESUS CHRIST AS SAVIOUR INVOLVES MORE THAN JUST AN INDIVIDUAL SPIRITUAL DECISION

“Man cannot have God as a Father…unless he has the Church as Mother.”

BAPTISM IS NOT ONLY A WORD

“Heaven opens above us in the sacrament of baptism. The more we live in contact with Jesus in the reality of our baptism, the more heaven will open above us… A washing of regeneration: baptism is not only a word, it is not only something spiritual but also implies matter.

ALL THE REALITIES OF THE EARTH ARE INVOLVED

All the realities of the earth are involved. Baptism does not only concern the soul. Human spirituality invests the totality of the person, body and soul. God’s action in Jesus Christ is an action of universal efficacy. Christ took flesh and this continues in the sacraments in which matter is taken on and becomes part of the divine action.

WITHOUT WATER THERE IS NO LIFE

We can now ask precisely why water should be the sign of this totality. Water is the element of fertility. Without water there is no life. Thus, in all the great religions water is seen as the symbol of motherhood, as fruitfulness. For the Church Fathers, water became the symbol of the maternal womb of the Church.

NEVER IS CHRIST WITHOUT WATER

Tertullian, a Church writer of the second and third centuries, said something surprising. He said, “Never is Christ without water.” By these words, Tertullian meant that Christ is never without the Church. In baptism we are adopted by the heavenly Father, but in this family that he establishes there is also a mother, Mother Church. Man cannot have God as Father, the ancient Christian writers were already saying, unless he has the Church as Mother.

BEING PART OF THE CHURCH

We perceive in a new way that Christianity is not merely an individual, spiritual reality, a simple subjective decision that I take, but something real and concrete, we could also say something material. Adoption as children of God, of the Trinitarian God, is at the same time being accepted into the family of the Church, it is admission as brothers and sisters into the great family of Christians. And only if, as children of God, we are integrated as brothers and sisters into the reality of the Church can we say ‘Our Father’, to our heavenly Father. This prayer always implies the ‘we’ of God’s family…

INSTITUTED BY CHRIST

In Jesus Christ we see that God comes to meet us. In Christian baptism, instituted by Christ, we do not only act with the desire to be cleansed through the prayer to obtain forgiveness. In baptism God himself acts, Jesus acts through the Holy Spirit. In Christian baptism the fire of the Holy Spirit is present. God acts, not only us. God is present here today… Baptism will remain throughout life a gift of God, who has set his seal on our souls. But it will then be our cooperation, the availability of our freedom to say that ‘yes’, which makes divine action effective.”
– Text in quotation marks by Pope Benedict XVI (capital headings and header of this post added)

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A SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF ST WENDEL

ST WENDEL (WENDELIN), MEMORIAL: OCTOBER 20

Saint Wendel was born in the 7th century as a son of an Irish king. Pious from an early age, he renounced all earthly possessions and devoted himself to praying in solitude. His father, the king, became so angry with St Wendel’s devotion to reciting the entire Psalter that he threw him out.

Therefore St Wendel left Ireland as a pilgrim and eventually settled as a hermit in West Germany. The place is known as Sankt Wendel today, situated near the city of Trier. In addition to wearing a hair shirt as penance, Wendel imposed on himself other rigorous mortifications. He humbly earned his living by working as a swineherd on a nearby farm.

After his death, miracles were reported by people asking his prayers at his grave. The relics of St Wendel were transferred in 1360 by the archbishop of Trier. Both the body of St Wendel and the garment in which he had been buried were found to be in a good state of preservation. Pope Innocent VI consecrated the Basilika where he was given a new resting place. St Wendel is patron of swineherds, peasants and shepherds and protector of all people who tend to animals.

Pilgrimages to St Wendel’s grave in Germany for his feast day via http://www.pg-wnd.de/wallfahrt.html (external link)

 

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FEAST OF THE VISITATION – GOSPEL READING (LUKE 1:39-56)

WHY SHOULD I BE HONOURED WITH A VISIT FROM THE MOTHER OF MY LORD?

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, “Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant,
mindful of his mercy
– according to the promise he made to our ancestors –
of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.”

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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FEAST OF THE VISITATION – RESPONSORIAL PSALM (ISAIAH 12:2-6)

R. Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

1. Truly, God is my salvation,
I trust, I shall not fear.
For the Lord is my strength, my song,
he became my saviour.
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation. (R.)

2. Give thanks to the Lord, give praise to his name!
Make his mighty deeds known to the peoples!
Declare the greatness of his name. (R.)

3. Sing a psalm to the Lord!
For he has done glorious deeds,
make them known to all the earth!
People of Zion, sing and shout for joy
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. (R.)

ALLELUIA

Alleluia, alleluia!
Blessed is the Virgin Mary who believed
that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.
Alleluia!

 

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FEAST OF THE VISITATION – BIBLE READING (ZEPHANIAH 3:14-18)

THE LORD, THE KING OF ISRAEL, IS IN YOUR MIDST.

Shout for joy, daughter of Zion,
Israel, shout aloud!
Rejoice, exult with all your heart,
daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has repealed your sentence;
he has driven your enemies away.
The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst;
you have no more evil to fear.
When that day comes, word will come to Jerusalem:

Zion, have no fear,
do not let your hands fall limp.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a victorious warrior.
He will exult with joy over you,
he will renew you by his love;
he will dance with shouts of joy for you
as on a day of festival.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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CONTRADICTIONS ARE A HAIR-SHIRT – GEMS FOR SPIRITUAL LIFE AND DAILY ROUTINE BY MOTHER FRANCES CABRINI

SAFEGUARDING SPIRITUAL VALUES

“Quite truly it has been written of [St Frances Xavier Cabrini] that she…was a modern woman by nature and inclination. She was thoroughly in sympathy with what has become known as ‘the women’s movement,’ provided only that spiritual values were safeguarded…she was no obscurantist, and wasted no time in sighing after the days of her youth and lamenting the degeneracy of the rising generation. Nor did she adopt an attitude of wholesale, unintelligent destructive criticism towards every educational development, or even every Government requirement.

WOMEN IN MODERN LIFE

Realising the increasing part woman was to play in public life, she envisaged her in the world of to-day as the Church herself does…She foresaw the part the cinema was to play in modern education; [regarding the students in her schools] she believed in plenty of healthy exercise and catered for all the sporting and athletic interests of the day. At the same time, her keen sense of the need of home-making in modern society led her to develop the teaching of domestic science along the most up-to-date lines, and also to preserve and encourage the traditional feminine arts and crafts. She rightly objected to the type of woman who, whilst proficient in higher mathematics, cannot use a needle or run her own home intelligently! …

PREVENTING PURE MATERIALISM IN NURSING

Another field of women’s labour with which she was greatly concerned was nursing. As she gained acquaintance with hospital conditions and medical circles in the [United] States, she was sadly impressed by the fact that so many doctors and nurses are free-thinkers. She saw how easily the young nurse, constantly occupied in tending bodily ailments and studying material science, can fall into a pure materialism. Hence she desired to have nurses’ homes attached to her hospitals, and these foundations to be thoroughly efficient and recognised as training centres for the State nursing certificates, so that girls who entered the profession as practising Catholics should not lose fervour and, perhaps, faith during their years of training. She readily admitted non-Catholics who were ready to conform to the regulations and the Cabrini nurses’ homes, as the Cabrini schools, are recognised as some of the best in the States. In the true sense, she was a Christian humanist and humanitarian.

MOTHER FRANCES AS A SUPERIOR

Turning to consider Frances Cabrini as a Superior and a nun… Among her rare personal notes we find this resolution: ‘I will study to maintain the union of holy charity among the Sisters. I will love them with a true mother’s love, yet striving to bear myself as the servant of all…seeing in each one the image of my beloved Bridegroom and of Mary most holy…’ Those who knew declared that she succeeded…

PENITENTIAL PRACTICES – DESTROYING THE IDOL OF SELF-LOVE

She prescribed no special corporal austerities, and rarely allowed any, but she made up for these in other ways. If lacking the ‘classic’ penitential practices, her institute is yet sufficiently severe. She required her religious to ‘mortify themselves a little in everything and destroy the idol of self-love.’ In 1895, she notes that Quito is ‘where Blessed Mariana lived in such austere penance, though this is rather to be admired than imitated.’ (Blessed Mariana Paredes, known as the ‘Lily of Quito’, is patron of that city. Born in 1618, she died in 1645, having lived the life of a religious in her own home, but never joining any congregation. She was beatified in 1854). From Lima, having alluded in a letter to the austerities practised by St Rose, she passes on to write of that saint’s ‘other crucifixions – those of the spirit – which are better; real crucifixions in the strictest sense, which serve so well to purify souls and unite them intimately to their Beloved.’

MORTIFICATION IN DAILY LIFE

She held that the special circumstances of their life provided her religious with mortifications enough, provided that these were rightly used and, it must be added, she ground fine.

NO GRUMBLING OR COMPLAINING

She would not tolerate the slightest grumbling or complaint, or the raising of difficulties over the daily trials of life, be these what they might. A sister who complained of the heat, when travelling in summer, was promptly silenced and reminded that all weather was God’s weather. Another, who asked permission to take a drink outside of meal-time, adding that she was very thirsty, received the reply: ‘Do not speak like that; it is unmortified. Say simply, ‘May I have a drink?’ without adding anything else.’ Yet another, travelling along the Ligurian coast, remarked, as she watched the bathers from the hot, stifling railway carriage, how she would love a plunge. ‘Do not talk like that; it is self-indulgence,’ was the foundress’ reply.

CHEERFULNESS, PATIENCE, SILENCE

Frances Cabrini’s daughters must take in silence, patiently and cheerfully, absolutely what each day might bring forth. ‘Contradictions,’ she once wrote, ‘there is a real, sharp hair-shirt! If you love penance, there is a penance that has made saints and which all can practise, even with the weakest health. It is a hair-shirt that you can wear not for an hour but all day long.’…

‘YOU MUST BE EMPTIED OF SELF’

Loved as she was, she was extremely reserved, and allowed no familiarities. The few who ventured upon such were severely snubbed. She treated everyone alike, showing an equal interest in all, so that it was impossible to say that one was loved more than another… ‘Do you want to love God? You must be emptied of self. You must enlarge your hearts, and that is done only by getting rid of self-love. Our self-will and self-love are what hinders the love of God from entering our souls. Get rid of these, and you will become fervent souls, true missionaries.’

OBEDIENCE DISTINGUISHES TRUE FROM FALSE PIETY

DAILY LIFE OBEDIENCE AS SACRIFICE

The relations of subjects to their local Superiors had to be on the supernatural plane, always and absolutely. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Frances Cabrini here speaks but the authentic language of the classic ages of religious life.
‘You serve our Lord Jesus Christ; therefore, see Him in your Superior…if thoughts assail you against obedience, reject them as promptly as you would those against faith or chastity…never look at her personal qualities, her gifts, her manners; otherwise you will change supernatural obedience into that which is purely human.’ Again: ‘It is obedience that distinguishes true from false piety. It is the obedient religious who speaks victories… Obedience is a sacrifice immensely more pleasing to God than any sacrifice you might choose for yourselves.’

And all this in view not only of their own sanctification but that of others. ‘If you sacrifice yourselves, you will become saints and, after having sanctified yourselves, you will certainly be able to sanctify others. She who is not holy will never be able to make anyone else so; she who is will shed a fragrance of holiness around her and all who come into contact with her will breathe it.’

HUMILITY

ABANDONMENT TO GOD’S WILL

Her conception of humility… No refusal to recognise real gifts or good qualities in one’s self, no pious cliches, easy to utter but often meaning nothing; no posing. Humility meant perfect truth as regards oneself, and perfect ABANDON to the will of God; the soul simply counting upon His grace to fulfil whatever task be laid upon it as well as He means it to be fulfilled; referring to Him whatever measure of success may be achieved, and accepting apparent failure peacefully, even joyfully, should failure be His will.

Once she placed a Sister at the head of a school of several hundred pupils. Taken by surprise, the latter exclaimed: ‘Oh Mother, what a responsibility! So many innocent souls to train aright!’ In a flash came the retort: ‘Do you imagine that the welfare of these souls depends upon you, and not rather upon God working in you? Poor creatures we should be, indeed, if the fruit were to be looked for from our puny efforts! We must do our duty well, but in the utmost simplicity and without preoccupations, secure that our Lord will take thought for everything.’

She thus expressed the principle more at length: ‘The true Missionary Sister never thinks, ‘What office will be given me? Where shall I be sent?’ And she should never say, ‘I can’t carry out this or that; I am incapable.’ Whether she be made Superior-General, sent to teach a class of infants, or to sweep a staircase, she should carry it out serenely, in holy indifference…that is real love, practical love, stripped of all self-interest; the strong love you ought to have. You are immolated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; in this complete self-abnegation lies the very essence of sanctiity. So courage, perseverance! Live up to your vocation!'”
– From: “Frances Xavier Cabrini, By A Benedictine of Stanbrook Abbey”, 1944

 

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LAUD, O ZION (LAUDA SION)

SUNG ON THE SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST
(CORPUS CHRISTI)

Sing forth, O Zion, sweetly sing,
The praises of thy Shepherd-King,
In hymns and canticles divine;
Dare all thou canst, thou hast no song,
Worthy his praises to prolong,
So far surpassing powers like thine.

Today no theme of common praise
Forms the sweet burden of thy lays –
The living, life-dispensing food –
That food which at the sacred board
Unto the brethren twelve our Lord
His parting legacy bestowed.

Then be the anthem clear and strong,
Thy fullest note, thy sweetest song,
The very music of the breast:
For now shines forth the day sublime
That brings remembrance of the time
When Jesus first his table blessed.

Within our new King’s banquet-hall
They meet to keep the festival
That closed the ancient paschal rite:
The old is by the new replaced;
The substance hath the shadow chased;
And rising day dispels the night.

Christ willed what he himself had done
Should be renewed while time should run,
In memory of his parting hour:
Thus, tutored in his school divine,
We consecrate the bread and wine:
And lo – a Host of saving power.

This faith to Christian men is given –
Bread is made flesh by words from heaven:
Into his blood the wine is turned:
What though it baffles nature’s powers
Of sense and sight? This faith of ours
Proves more than nature e’er discerned.

Concealed beneath the two-fold sign,
Meet symbols of the gifts divine,
There lie the mysteries adored:
The living body is our food;
Our drink the ever-precious blood:
In each, one undivided Lord.

Not he that eateth it divides
The sacred food, which whole abides
Unbroken still, nor knows decay;
Be one, or be a thousand fed,
They eat alike that living bread
Which, still received, ne’er wastes away.

The good, the guilty share therein,
With sure increase of grace or sin,
The ghostly life, or ghostly death:
Death to the guilty; to the good
Immortal life. See how one food
Man’s joy or woe accomplisheth.

We break the Sacrament; but bold
And firm thy faith shall keep its hold;
Deem not the whole doth more enfold
Than in the fractured part resides:
Deem not that Christ doth broken lie;
‘Tis but the sign that meets the eye;
The hidden deep reality
In all its fullness still abides.

 

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