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THE MESSENGER FROM GOD’S HIGH THRONE (HYMN)

THE MESSENGER FROM GOD’S HIGH THRONE (HYMN)

The Messenger from God’s high throne

His secret counsel making known

Hails Mary, child of David’s race,

God’s Virgin Mother, full of grace.

 

The Mother Maid with joyous feet

Her friend, John’s mother, goes to greet;

He, stirring in the enclosing womb,

Declares that Christ his Lord has come.

 

The Word, who ere the worlds began,

From God the Father’s thought forth ran,

Of Mary, Virgin undefiled,

For us is born a mortal child.

 

Christ to the Temple courts they bring;

The King’s own law subjects the King;

The world’s Redeemer for a price

Is there redeemed, our sacrifice.

 

The joyful Mother finds once more

The Son she mourned as lost before;

While doctors by His speech were shown

The mysteries they had never known.

 

The Mount of Olives witnesseth

The awful agony of God;

His soul is sorrowful to death,

His sweat of blood bedews the sod.

 

And now the traitor’s work is done:

The clamorous crowds around Him surge;

Bound to pillar, God the Son

Quivers beneath the blood-red scourge.

 

Lo! clad in purple soiled and worn,

Meekly the Saviour waiteth now

While wretches plait the cruel thorn

To crown with shame His royal brow.

 

Sweating and sighing, faint with loss

Of what hath flowed from life’s red fount,

He bears the exceeding heavy Cross

Up the verge of Calvary’s mount.

 

Nailed to the wood of ancient curse,

Between two thieves the Sinless One

Still praying for His murderers,

Breathes forth His soul, and all is done!

 

All honour, laud, and glory be,

O Jesu, Virgin-born to thee;

All glory, as is ever meet,

To Father and to Paraclete. Amen.

 

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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“I WANTED TO PREVENT HIM FALLING INTO HELL” – LITTLE ST THERESE’S EFFORTS TO SAVE THE SOUL OF A MAN SENTENCED TO DEATH

THE GOOD THIEF HAD BECOME A MODEL OF REPENTANCE. LITTLE ST THERESE WAS THUS REMINDED NOT TO DESPAIR OF HENRI PRANZINI’S SALVATION. HE TOO COULD RECEIVE THE GRACE OF CONVERSION “IN AN INSTANT”.
ST THERESE MULTIPLIED HER PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES TO OBTAIN HIS CONVERSION…

LITTLE ST THERESE WANTED TO BECOME A NUN

On Pentecost Day, May 29, 1887, Therese decided to confide her great desire to her father: to enter Carmel as soon as possible. She wanted to be there by Christmas. Admirably generous, Monsieur Martin expressed no opposition to the plan. He could easily see that she was serious. Picking a blossom of saxifrage from a wall nearby, he gave it to his youngest daughter, explaining to her that she herself was a little flower that God had always eagerly cared for.

A GREAT EUCHARISTIC GRACE

One Sunday in July 1887, Therese received a great eucharistic grace at Saint Pierre Cathedral. At the end of Mass, a picture of the Crucified Christ slipped out of her Missal and she was struck by the thought that His blood was falling to the ground without anyone thinking of collecting it. She decided to remain at the foot of the cross for the rest of her life to receive this precious divine dew, for the sake of sinners. In her heart she heard Jesus’ cry “I thirst”, and for Therese this thirst was a thirst for love.

HER FIRST GREAT SINNER TO PRAY FOR

A few days later, Therese was presented with a privileged opportunity to put her resolution into practice. On July 13, 1887 Henri Pranzini, a convicted murderer, was condemned to death. The newspapers of the time insisted on the criminal’s particularly rebellious character. Despite the overwhelming charges that weighed against him, he manifested no sign of repentance. In fact, he boldly proclaimed his innocence.

It is unlikely that Therese had read many articles about Pranzini in the papers although she did not refrain from doing so. However, everyone was talking about the criminal. “Everything led to the belief that he would die unrepentant,” Therese recalled, “I wanted at any cost to prevent him from falling into hell.” Her concern was to save a great sinner from the mortal danger he was in. By persevering in his dishonesty and impenitence, he might be deprived forever of the joy of living with God.

A picture in the chapel in Saint Pierre’s Cathedral where Therese attended Mass every morning reminded her that, in a flash, the Good Thief had become a model of repentance. She had no right then to despair of Pranzini’s salvation. He too could receive the grace of conversion “in an instant”.

She multiplied prayers and sacrifices to obtain his conversion and had a Mass celebrated for him. Although she was certain that Jesus would answer her, she asked Him to give her a sign of Pranzini’s genuine conversion. “Simply for my consolation,” she said to the Lord, “because he is my first child!”

Thus she was jubilant to read the account of what happened at his execution in the September 1 edition of ‘La Croix’. At the last minute, Pranzini had asked for the chaplain’s crucifix and had kissed it twice. In writing her memoirs eight years later, Therese recalled that he made this gesture “three times”. This sign of repentance had a special significance for Therese because it was before the wounds of the Crucified Christ that her heart began to burn with the desire to save many souls.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED ON AUGUST 31 1887 WHEN PRANZINI WAS EXECUTED

‘Souvenirs de La Roquette’ [Memories of La Roquette], a book written by Father Faure, the outstanding chaplain who exercised his ministry at La Roquette prison for six years, and who accompanied twenty condemned prisoners to their execution, tells the story: Pranzini, who spoke eight languages fluently – he spent the hours of his imprisonment translating pages of Alexandre Dumas. Into various languages – always received the chaplain with great courtesy and frequently attended Mass. Pranzini told him feelingly about the piety of his mother, who lived in Alexandria.

The day before the execution, the chaplain stayed with him in his cell for a long time. Always very discreet, Father Faure wrote: “Our interview was more cordial and more intimate than ever. We conversed for more than two hours and, when I left him, he told me he was sorry to see our conversation end so soon.”

This helps us to understand better the condemned man’s response to Monsieur Beauquesne, the director of La Roquette, when he was asked, early in the morning of August 31, if he wanted to stay with Father Faure for a few moments. “The chaplain has fulfilled his duty,” he replied, “and I know mine.” He was no doubt alluding “to our long conversation of the previous day,” commented Father Faure. Here is how he described Pranzini’s last moments: “When, after saying a last farewell, I took a step back, he cried out in a voice choked with anguish, in a cry full of repentance and faith: “Father, bring me the crucifix!” I quickly went to him and pressed the crucifix to his lips – he kissed it fervently. We exchanged a couple of words… He was pushed against the platform, a noise sounded, the blade fell… it was all over.”

THERESE’S VISIT TO THE BISHOP, OCTOBER 31 1887

Pranzini’s so greatly desired conversion encouraged Therese to put everything in place to enter Carmel as soon as possible. Since the Lord gave her Pranzini as her first child, she would surely have many more if she consecrated her life to self-sacrifice and prayer for the salvation of sinners.

Canon Delatroette, the priest responsible for watching over the admission of postulants, was definitely opposed to Therese’s candidacy. “She is much too young… Let her wait until she is twenty-one! Unless, of course, His Excellency gives permission.”

Therese seized the opportunity. “Let’s go to see the bishop! … And if he is opposed,” she added, “I will go and ask the Pope.” As it happened, her father had signed up himself and his two youngest daughters for a pilgrimage to Rome, organised by the diocese of Coutances in honour of Leo XIII’s jubilee.

For the trip to Bayeux, Therese wore her prettiest white dress and put her hair up in a bun in order to appear older. Before the audience, she and her father entered the cathedral, where there was a funeral going on. Therese was quite a sensation with her white dress and hat!

A prudent man, Bishop Hugonin avoided making a final decision on the spur of the moment. He merely assured her that he would soon discuss her request with Canon Delatroette. Therese had no illusions about this. The bishop would not change Canon Delatroette’s mind. Her request would be shelved. She did not wait to be out of the room before the tears flowed. Bishop Hugonin, in his paternal manner, tried to console her. He pressed Therese’s head against his shoulder and promised to give her his response during the pilgrimage to Italy.

The falling rain on that October 31st 1887 was indeed the reflection of her sadness. “I have noticed,” Therese later wrote, “that in all the serious situations of my life, nature has been the image of my soul. On days of tears, the heavens cried with me, on days of joy, the sun shone brilliantly and not a cloud could be found in the blue sky.”

WAITING FOR CARMEL

On her return from Rome, Therese waited as patiently and peacefully as possible for Bishop Hugonin’s response to her appeal. Every day, after Mass at the cathedral, she checked the mailbox for a response. Nothing came! To encourage her sister to “abandon” herself totally to Providence, Celine gave her a little model boat on whose sail she had engraved the name “abandon”.

Christmas 1887 arrived! Still nothing! Therese cried at Midnight Mass… But she discovered that the trial must increase her confidence… At last, on January 1, the eve of her fifteenth birthday, Mother Marie de Gonzague transmitted the bishop’s response: It was yes!

One final difficulty then surfaced: her sister, Pauline, thought it prudent to postpone Therese’s entrance until spring. Thus the very young postulant would be spared beginning her religious life in the midst of the Lenten austerities.

Her entrance was set for April 9, the Monday of the second week of Easter. Therese had reason to remember that on Celine’s little boat, whose name was “abandon”, there was inscribed on the sails a quotation from the Song of Solomon: “I sleep but my heart keeps watch”. If Jesus had seemed to be asleep and doing nothing to facilitate her entrance into Carmel, His Heart nonetheless continued to watch over her lovingly.
– This article was published in “Helping the Missions side by side with St Therese, Issue No 79, To Commemorate the visit of St Therese’s Relics”, published by “The Little Way Association”; contact for donations / to join the mailing list: The Little Way Association, Sacred Heart House, 119 Cedars Road, Clapham Common, London SW4 0PR

 
 

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A SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF ST JEANNE DELANOUE

SAINT JEANNE DELANOUE, FOUNDRESS, born June 18, 1660, died August 17, 1736, beatified November 9, 1947, canonised October 31, 1982.

Saint Jeanne Delanoue, the last of twelve children,…came to the help of families…in the context of her town of Saumur at the end of the seventeenth century, which was marked with great material and social difficulties, aggravated by famines, bad harvests and severe winters. One recalls above all her efficacious help for the poorest of the poor. She who was known above all as a wise and shrewd trader, became suddenly “a very great prodigy of charity”, when the Holy Spirit, extinguishing “the fire of her avarice”, made her understand that her ardent faith required also “the fire of that charity” by making her appreciate poverty. The Book of Isaiah tells us at once: “Share your bread with the hungry, receive into your homes the unfortunate who have no shelter, clothe those without clothing, do not steal from your fellow man”. This is what Jeanne Delanoue carried out to the letter.

She visited those who lived like animals in stables dug into the hills; she brought them food and clothing; she washed their clothes and gave them whatever they needed; she undertook to heat these precarious shelters; she gave generously to those who passed by; she began to take them into her own lodgings, then she successively furnished three houses which were given to her and which she named “Providences”, so that she could receive there orphan children, young girls left to themselves, women in distress, old and indigent people of all kinds, suffering from hunger and cold, in short, all those who would say to her on the judgment day: I was hungry, thirsty, I was naked, sick, without a shelter. She did not like to make any distinction between the poor who merited her service and those who did not. She came to the aid of all, but she also wished to help them work, to teach a trade to the children and the young gils.

Still more, Jeanne Delanoue experienced the humiliations of the poor, even venturing at times to beg, taking for herself food often worse than theirs, without taking account of her continual fasting, her short and uncomfortable nights. She wished her sisters to share the same home as the poor, eating as they did, being treated as they were in cases of sickness, and dressed in a humble grey habit. As for the poor, she knew how to surround them with tenderness, at times procuring for them festive meals, requiring that her sisters treat them with respect and serve them before themselves. The townspeople, even the priests, criticised her “excessive” austerities and her “disordered” charities. But nothing stopped her, not even the failure of her first [hospice]: “I wish to live and die with my dear brethren, the poor”. Some other undertakings, like those which were born from the charity of St Vincent de Paul, were already widespread in France. But at that time Saumur did not even have a hospital, and Jeanne Delanoue wanted to create a great abandoned to themselves. She wished to organise visits to them and eventually to open small schools for their children. In her time, with the means at her disposal, she learned how to remedy poverty and vagrancy. Her example will not fail to challenge our modern world. So many countries live in dire poverty!

And even the industrialised nations do not escape material anxieties; they have their poor of all sorts. Today one may perhaps strive with greater advantage to discover the causes of these miseries, and to create more just conditions for all and to establish measures of foresight, so as to help the poor to help themselves without leaving them to be merely assisted. But the care for the indigent, the love of the poor, immediate and efficacious help will always remain fundamental to remedy the harshness of our modern world. It is at this price, says Isaiah, “that the light will arise in the darkness”. Finally, when we proclaim the holiness of Jeanne Delanoue, it is important to try to understand the spiritual secret of her peerless dedication. It does seem that her temperament led her to an interest in the poor through sentimentality or pity. But the Holy Spirit himself led her to see CHRIST in the poor, the Christ-Child in their children – she had a particular devotion to him – Christ the friend of the poor, Christ himself, humiliated and crucified. And with Christ she wished to show to the tenderness of the Father. To this God she had recourse with the audacity of a child, expecting everything from him, from his Providence, the name with which she designated her homes and her foundation from their very origin: the Congregation of St Anne of Providence. Her constant devotion to Mary was inseparable from that of the Blessed Trinity. The Eucharistic mystery was also at the heart of her life.

All this was very far from the prevailing Jansenism. Her attachment to the Church dissuaded her from taking new ways without consulting her confessors and the bishop of the diocese… Jeanne Delanoue attained very quickly not only the heroism of virtues, the evangelical virtues of the Sermon on the Mount, but also a profound contemplation of the divine persons with mystical signs of the highest union with God according to the unitive way, exceptionally inflamed with love for Jesus, “her Spouse”. That was the source of the inspiration and the achievement of the “folly” of her charity and of the boldness of her undertakings. May the Church of today beware of forgetting this: as at the end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth, there will be no true reform today nor any fruitful movements without an AUTHENTIC MYSTICAL CURRENT.
– Pope John Paul at the solemn ceremony of canonisation on October 31, 1982, from “L’Osservatore romano”, November 8, 1982

 
 

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