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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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THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN OUR LADY AND JUAN DIEGO – BY PROF. CORREA DE OLIVEIRA

PROF. CORREA DE OLIVEIRA (OF BRAZIL) ARGUES THAT BEING BAPTISED, PIOUS AND PRACTISING CATHOLIC IN COMMUNION WITH THE CHURCH MAKES OUR OUTLOOK, DEMEANOUR AND MANNERS “ARISTOCRATIC AND NOBLE”, IRRESPECTIVE OF OUR BACKGROUND, EDUCATION, etc.

OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE, BY PLINIO CORREA DE OLIVEIRA, FROM “BRITAIN NEEDS FATIMA” (Details below) Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared on 9th December 1531 to St Juan Diego (1474-1548, canonised in 2002 by Pope John Paul II) on Tepyac Hill. The Blessed Virgin spoke in his native tongue Nahuatl. Juan Diego was 57 years old and had been baptised. The third and last apparition took place on 12th December of the same year. As a proof of Her appearance, Our Lady left Her image miraculously impressed on St Juan Diego’s tilma.

…In the book written by Edesia Aducci, Mary and Her Glorious Titles, one can read the dialogue between Our Lady and Juan Diego: During the first apparition, Our Lady, speaking in the Mexican language, said, “Listen, you whom I tenderly love as a small and delicate son, where are you going?” He answered, “My noble Lady, I am on my way to your house at Mexico-Tlatilulco; I will attend Holy Mass celebrated by the minister of God and your subject.”

Our Lady: “Know, my dear son, that I am the ever Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God, and it is my desire that they erect a temple to me in this place from where, as a loving Mother of you and your people, I will show my loving clemency and compassion that I have for the natives and those that love and seek me. I will hear their prayers and supplications to give them consolation and relief. And so that my will be done, you should go to Mexico City to the bishop’s palace and you will tell him that I sent you and that it is my will that he build a temple in this place. You will tell him what you saw and heard. I will thank you for what you do for me and I will give you prestige and exalt you.”

Juan Diego: “I will go immediately, most noble Lady of mine, to execute your commands as your humble servant.”

Second Apparition: Juan Diego returns from Bishop Zumarraga’s palace that afternoon. The Most Holy Virgin was waiting for him. “My very dear Queen and noble Lady, I did what you requested and, even though it was a long time before I could speak to my lord bishop, I communicated to him your message as you commanded. He heard me amiably and attentively, but his manner and questions led me to understand that he did not believe me. Therefore I ask you to give this charge to another…more worthy of respect who will be believed, because you know, my Lady…that this is not something for me to do. Forgive me, my Queen, my boldness if I in any way lacked respect to your grandeur; may I not deserve your indignation, nor may my answer have displeased you.”

The Most Holy Virgin insists with Juan Diego. He then returns to the bishop and the prelate demands a sign of the apparition. Mr Diego returns and Our Lady tells him to return the next day to this same place, at which time she will satisfy the wish of the bishop. But Juan Diego, having the need to call a priest for his uncle who had fallen ill, deviates from the accustomed route, certain that the Most Holy Virgin would not see him. But behold, Our Lady appears to him in another place. “Where are you going, my son, and why did you take this way?”

Juan Diego: “My very beloved Lady, may God keep you! How are you this morning? How is your health?…Do not be irritated with what I will tell you: Your servant, my uncle, is sick and I am going quickly to the church of Tlatltelolco to get a priest to hear his confession and anoint him. After doing this task, I will return to this place to obey your command. Forgive me, my Lady, be patient with me and I will return tomorrow without fail.”

OUR LADY: “Listen, my son, to what I will tell you: Do not be afflicted about anything, not even with illness or any other harmful things. Am I not here, am I not your Mother? Are you not under my protection and care? Am I not life and health? Are you not in my lap and walk under my care? Do you need anything else?… Worry no longer about your uncle’s health, as he will not die now, and be certain that he has been cured.”

* * * * *
One could make several commentaries on this event. One of the more interesting commentaries is that which has not been emphasised: Juan Diego’s attitude towards Our Lady and the language he uses to address Her. I mention this because the other aspects – that is, how Our Lady likes to appear to the humble and simple people to send messages to the great, how She seeks pure souls to be Her spokesmen – have been dealt with in so many apparitions that I believe there is no special purpose to insist upon it tonight.

However, the language and attitude of Our Lady towards Juan Diego is extraordinarily beautiful…She treats him with extraordinary tenderness, almost as if he were a child. On the other hand, we see the predilection that Our Lady not only has for great and heroic souls that perform historic deeds, but, on the other hand, how She loves all forms of beauty, all forms of virtue. She also loves simple, small souls who are entirely turned to Her and even are unaware of their own virtue. She speaks to these souls with a unique tenderness.

Then we have the attitude of Juan Diego towards Our Lady. He speaks to Her as a member of a medieval court would greet Our Lady, asking how She is doing, if She is well. After having told of the failure of his mission, he acts like a true diplomat and explains to Her the human reason for his failure. At the same time, he manifests his desire not to boast and put himself in the centre. You see how many qualities of soul are manifest here.

As a result, Our Lady appreciates his attitude, smiles upon his diplomatic suggestion, but does not accept it. On the contrary, She demands that he return. Juan Diego, always obedient, returns because he is not lazy and does not resist Her. He is the son of obedience. This was an order. Our Lady really wants it, so he returns once again!…

Our Lady reproduced Her image on Juan Diego’s tilma and he died in the odour of sanctity.

Here is a principle I wish to emphasise: Wherever there is virtue, there is also tact, courtesy, and noble manners. Contrariwise, where virtue is dead, noble manners, tact, and courtesy gradually disappear.

Through baptism Juan Diego had a great delicateness of soul and thus was tactful in his manners and knew how to treat Our Lady with respect, with true nobility. On the contrary, if he had not had this delicateness of soul, he could even have been noble, but would not have treated Our Lady with true nobility.

This proves that Western Christian civilisation developed good manners, nobility of treatment, gentlemanliness, gallantry, and aristocratic tone to a degree no other civilisation had ever attained. This was because there had been a Middle Ages where these things were born and continued to develop even after the end of this period. There was an era of intense virtue, intense piety, during which souls yearned for nobility of treatment, delicateness, and grandeur. Since customs are born from intense desires of good and even bad souls, Western courtesy is the fruit of Christian piety and virtue.

When the revolutionary process began with the Renaissance, Europe’s spiritual life was tarnished with egalitarian principles. As a result, decadence began. Why? Because from this point of view, revolution, egalitarianism, lack of delicate sentiments and nobility are entirely correlated. The egalitarian person cannot have nobility of manners, cannot be delicate in his sentiments, but rather is egotistical, brutal, tends towards the masses, does not want to acknowledge another’s merits and qualities. He would prefer to subject the whole social life and human relations, in a word, deal with every soul in a hard, cold, and crude egalitarian manner.

This is the extreme opposite of that delicateness that germinated in the virginal , supernatural, and so delicate soul of our good Juan Diego.

Here we can see the extent to which courtesy and aristocratic tone are daughters of the Holy, Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and how the contrary – that which is vulgar, brutal and egalitarian manners – is precisely the fruit of the Revolution and the devil.

Here you have a commentary on the manners and soul of good Juan Diego. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

– These are excerpts from a meeting Prof. Correa de Oliveira gave on 12th December 1966. (The word ‘Revolution’ is used as described in the book ‘Revolution and Counter-Revolution’ by Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira. – The above is from the “Britain Needs Fatima Members’ Newsletter”, publication of the Tradition, Family, Property Bureau for the United Kingdom. Contact: Britain Needs Fatima, P.O. Box 2713, Glasgow G62 6YJ, email: editor@tfpuk.org.uk

 
 

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