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“SACRIFICE YOURSELVES FOR SINNERS”

“SACRIFICE YOURSELVES FOR SINNERS”

“Do you wish to know a secret?” Pope Pius IX asked, in referring to La Salette. “This is it: Unless you do penance, you shall all perish.”

At Lourdes, Bernardette repeated our Lady’s plea for “Penitence! Penitence!”

At Fatima, our Lady asked the children: “Do you wish to offer yourselves to God to endure all the sufferings that He may choose to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and ask for the conversion of sinners?” When Lucia answered that they did, our Lady said: “Then you will have much to suffer, but the grace of God will assist you always and bear you up.”

THE GRACE OF GOD WILL ASSIST YOU ALWAYS

“Sacrifice yourself for sinners,” our Lady said on another occasion at Fatima, “and say many times, especially when you make sacrifices: ‘O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.'”

The following words of Our Lady of Fatima put a great responsibility upon all of us: “Pray, pray a great deal and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray for them.”

In 1925 the Child Jesus and our Lady both appeared to Lucia in the convent and asked for acts of reparation to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

At Beauraing, Belgium, in 1932, our Lady said, “Sacrifice yourself for me.”

“THEY HAVE NO ONE TO PRAY FOR THEM” 

How are we to make sacrifices? The three children of Fatima asked this very question of the angel who appeared to them the year before they were favoured by the apparitions of our Lady. The angel had just asked the children to “offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.”

“How are we to make sacrifices?” asked nine-year-old Lucia. – “You can make sacrifices of all things,” the angel replied. “Offer them in reparation for the sins that offend God, and beg of Him the conversion of sinners. In this way, try to draw down peace on your country…  Above all, accept and bear humbly the sufferings which the Lord will send you.'”

HOW ARE WE TO MAKE SACRIFICES? 

“You can make sacrifices of all things…” The words were meant as much for us as for the children of Fatima. The three children heeded the request of the angel and made sacrifices of all things. They offered all their everyday actions to God through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In the spring of 1942 Lucia wrote: “This is the penance which the good Lord now asks: the sacrifice that every person has to impose upon himself is to lead a life of justice in the observance of His Law. He requires that the way be made known to souls. For many, thinking that the word penance means great austerities and not feeling in themselves the strength or generosity for these, lose heart and rest in a life of lukewarmness and sin.

“Last Thursday, at midnight, while I was in the chapel with my superior’s permission, Our Lord said to me: “The sacrifice required of every person is the fulfilment of his duties in life and the observance of My Law. This is the penance I now seek and require.'”

This is the very most that is asked of us: the sacrifice required of every person is the fulfilment of his duties in life and the observance of God’s law. This is heartening when we tend to become discouraged, and when we think we are not doing enough.

THE MORNING OFFERING

The most effective way to make sacrifices of all things is to make the Morning Offering: “O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer thee all my prayers, works and sufferings of this day for the intentions of thy Sacred Heart, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all our associates and in particular for the intention of the Holy Father.” If we are in the state of grace, the Morning Offering turns all our actions for the day into meritorious acts.

The Act of Total Consecration has this same effect. To a person who has consecrated himself completely to Jesus through Mary, the Morning Offering is simply a daily renewal of that consecration.

THE TOTAL CONSECRATION

“Above all, accept and bear humbly the sufferings which the Lord will send you.” When the civil administrator put the children of Fatima in jail with the hardened criminals, they offered their suffering in reparation for the sins of the world. When Jacinta was undergoing great agony on her deathbed, she murmured through her pain: “It is for love of You, my Jesus. Now You can convert many sinners, for I suffer much.”

All of us have our sufferings, small ones and big ones; the extra tasks we have to perform, the slights we receive, the plans that go wrong, the severity of the weather, the loss of a loved one, a severe illness, a financial reverse. Like Jacinta, we can offer these in reparation for sins and for the conversion of sinners.

“ABOVE ALL, ACCEPT AND BEAR HUMBLY THE SUFFERINGS WHICH THE LORD WILL SEND YOU”

Offering their everyday actions and their sufferings to Jesus through Mary was not enough for Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. They were constantly thinking up voluntary sacrifices. When they went out to tend the sheep, they gave their lunches to children poorer than themselves, and they ate unripe olives. Under their clothes they wore shaggy ropes which chafed their skin.

All of us can make voluntary sacrifices in addition to the minimum penance which our Lord says he requires, although our sacrifices are not likely to take such extreme forms.

“IT IS ONLY BY SACRIFICE AND SUFFERING – OFFERED AS PENANCE – THAT YOU WILL BE ABLE, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, TO CONVERT HIM”

St John Mary Vianney, the Cure of Arms, lived a life of heroic self-denial, penance and reparation. Because of these virtues he was able to convert an entire parish, the members of which had given up their practice of religion.

One day a neighbouring pastor said to Father Vianney: “I have a hardened old sinner in my parish. Years ago he fell away from the faith. I’ve tried everything to convert him. I’ve pleaded with him: I have prayed for him: I’ve asked others to pray for him. But it’s no use. He seems determined to die in his sins. What can I do?”

“You say, Father,” replied the Saint, “that you have pleaded with him and have prayed for him. But have you tried fasting for him? It is only by sacrifice and suffering – offered as penance – that you will be able, by the grace of God, to convert him.”

PRAYER AND FASTING 

Similarly, with the grace of God, we can accomplish stupendous things by our sacrifices. The stakes are high. We can win peace on earth. We can win a Catholic Russia. We can win peace of mind and peace of soul. We can achieve the unity of the Mystical Body all over the world. We can bring about a rebirth of the moral values so long deadened by the forces of materialism.

What sacrifices shall we make? We can make them in all categories: everyday actions, sufferings and voluntary acts of self-denial. Here are a few suggestions. We can:

  • Get up an hour earlier every morning and go to Mass.
  • Do that unpleasant task we have been shirking.
  • Be kind to someone who has slighted us.
  • Be pleasant at home and at work, even when we have severe provocation to be otherwise.
  • Bear our aches and pains in quiet patience.
  • Go out of our way to help others.
  • Live up to the duties of our religion, even when doing so is very inconvenient.
  • Give up something we want very much in order to give the money to the missions.

These are only a few ways in which we can answer Mary’s call for sacrifices. With good will we should be able to think of many more ways of carrying out the wishes of the Mother of God. If made in the proper spirit, such sacrifices will help restore the world to Christ, and will help put the world on the road to true peace.

– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954

 

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IF MAN REALLY UNDERSTOOD THIS MYSTERY, HE WOULD DIE OF LOVE

IF MAN REALLY UNDERSTOOD THIS MYSTERY, HE WOULD DIE OF LOVE

THE HOLY MASS

All good works added together are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for they are the work of man, and the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison. It is the sacrifice which man makes to God of his life; the Mass is the sacrifice which God makes to man of His Body and Blood.

GOD’S WORK

At the voice of the priest Our Lord descends from heaven, and encloses himself in a little Host. The glance of God is arrested at the altar. “This,” He says, “is my Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. He can refuse nothing to the merits of the offering of this Victim.

THE GOOD GOD IS PRESENT

How beautiful to think that after the Consecration the good God is present, as He is in Heaven! If man really understood this mystery, he would die of love. God considers our weakness… Oh! if we had faith, if we understood the value of the Holy Sacrifice, we should be much more zealous in assisting at it.

– Bl. Cure d’Ars, from: Laverty & Sons (eds.), 1905

 

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PRAYER TO ST JOHN VIANNEY

St John Mary Vianney, Confessor

Let us pray. Almighty and merciful God, you made blessed John Mary remarkable for his pastoral zeal and constant love of prayer and penance; grant that by virtue of his example and intercession, we may win for Christ the souls of our brethren and attain with them eternal glory. Through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 
 

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IS IT NOT UTTER FOLLY NOT TO WISH TO TASTE EVEN IN THIS LIFE THE JOYS OF HEAVEN?

By St John Vianney

Our great enemy

“Sin is the executioner of the good God, and the assassin of our souls. Sin is it, which snatches us from heaven to cast us into hell. And yet we love it! What folly! If we reflected well upon it, we should have such horror of sin that we would not commit it.

O my children, how ungrateful we are! God wishes us to be happy, and we will not! We turn from Him and give ourselves to the demon! We fly from our friend and seek the executioner!

We commit sin; we bury ourselves in the more, and once caught there we cannot rise. If it was a question of our worldly fortune, we should contrive to escape from the difficulty; but as it concerns only our soul, we stay there.

I am going to the same place as you, to be crucified anew

What has God done to us, then, that we afflict Him thus, even crucifying Him again in a sense – Him, Who has redeemed us from hell? If all sinners, when betaking ourselves to their guilty pleasures, met Our Lord on the way as Saint Peter did, and if He said to them: ‘I am going to the same place as you, to be crucial died there anew’ – perhaps that would make them reflect a little.

Oh! how insensate we are! We employ in damning ourselves the time which God has given us to save our souls! We make war on Him with the instruments He has given us for His service!

Is it not utter folly to earn hell, by allying ourselves with the devil, in preference to tasting even in this life the joys of heaven, by uniting ourselves to God in love? It is impossible to fully comprehend such madness, or to bewail it sufficiently.”

– St John Vianney

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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KNOW YOUR ENEMY – MANUAL FOR SPIRITUAL WARFARE

Aids in Battle

[‘Manual for Spiritual Warfare’, Paul Thigpen PH.D.] is divided into two parts. The first, entitled Preparing for Battle, looks at the Biblical and and theological foundations for the ongoing warfare between humanity and the devil.

Overcoming the Enemy’s attacks in one’s own surroundings

The second, Aids in Battle, offers aids to help believers in this struggle, including scriptural texts and prayers. As Paul Thigpen indicates in his introduction, the ‘primary purpose of this manual… is to help everyday Catholics recognise, resist and overcome the Enemy’s attacks in their own lives and the lIves of those for whom they bear responsibility.’

Keep the Enemy out of the Camp

The chapter headings for the first part include titles such as ‘Know your Enemy’, ‘Know your Commander and Comrades’, and ‘Keep the Enemy out of the Camp’, while the second part focuses on Church teaching, the lives of the saints, and various prayers, and various prayers, devotions and hymns as aids against demonic or diabolical influence.

Prayers and hymns against demonic or diabolical influence

The author begins by stating that belief in the devil and demons is obligatory for Catholics and Christians generally, based on the Scriptural witness, and particularly those accounts of Christ being tempted and casting out evil spirits. We can be tempted by demons, or attacked in more serious ways, such as by infestation, oppression, obsession, or most dangerous of all, possession, which is when an evil spirit takes control of the body of a victim.

We can be tempted by demons or attacked in more serious ways

Paul Thigpen cautions that while lay people can pray some prayers of deliverance, these are different from the solemn exorcisms of the Church, which should only be performed by designated Church exorcists.

Through His Passion, Death and Resurrection Jesus Christ has already defeated the devil

Through his Passion, Death and Resurrection, Christ, the ‘New Adam’ has already defeated the devil, so if we call on him when under any form of diabolical attack, he will always come to our aid. Likewise, Our Lady, the ‘New Eve’, has because of her Immaculate Conception and her obedience to God, great power over the devil and his demonic followers. As St Bonaventure said: ‘Men do not fear a powerful, hostile army as much as the powers if hell fear the name and protection of Mary. Similarly, we can always call on St Michael and our Guardian Angels for help against the devil.

Prayer is more powerful than all the demons

As the author points out, prayer is the number one weapon in our battle against Satan, and calling on the name of Jesus has been for the saints one of the best ways to defeat demonic attack. On this point, St Bernard of Clairvaux said: ‘However great may be the temptation, if we know how to use the weapon of prayer well, we shall come off as conquerors at last, for prayer is more powerful than all the demons.’ St John Vianney agreed with this saying: ‘We cab see how much the Devil fears those who pray, since there’s not a moment of the day when he tempts us more than we are at prayer.’

Assisting at Mass; prayer and fasting

Likewise, taking part in worship is important, and particularly the Mass, as is Eucharistic adoration. Fasting, too, has been recommended as a powerful weapon against the devil, and we can fortify ourselves spiritually by daily reading of the Bible.

Sacraments and sacramentals 

In particular, the sacraments are powerful means of protection against the devil, although the power of sacramentals such as the Sign of the Cross, holy water, St Benedict medals, and blessed objects generally, should not be underestimated.

Humility is the only virtue no demon can imitate

Regarding the struggle against the devil, as St John Climacus said, the essential virtue is humility: ‘Humility is the only virtue no demon cab imitate.’ As an example of this, Thigpen includes the following account from the lives of the Desert Fathers:

Learning from the Desert Fathers

Some people brought a demon-possessed man to an old monk to exorcise him. The monk said to the demon, ‘Get out of God’s creature!’

The Demon replied: ‘I’ll go, but first I will ask you a question: Tell me, who are the goats and who are the sheep? (cf. Mt 25:31-46).

The old mab said, ‘The goats are people like me. Who the sheep are, God alone knows.’

At these words, the demon cried out, ‘Look, I must go out of him because of your humility!’

Avoiding any possibility of demonic contamination

We also have to avoid any possibility of demonic contamination through such things as Ouija boards or any form of participation in magic rituals etc., and also keep a careful watch on our thoughts.

Keeping a very careful watch on our thoughts

The second, larger part of the book opens with a chapter on Church teaching about spiritual warfare and provides a series of quotes from various Church documents to emphasise how seriously the Church takes the whole area of demonic activity.

Relevant scripture passages to read during times of temptation

Then there is a whole section on how the Bible deals with the devil and his followers, including appropriate scriptural quotations and passages which will help the reader during times of temptation.

Attempts to play down the influence of the devil

There is also a chapter entitled ‘Help from the Saints,’ which contains many striking quotations, such as this text from Thomas Aquinas: ‘When the Devil is called the god of this world, it is not because he made it, but because we serve him with our worldliness.’

Apart from the above, the Manual for Spiritual Warfare contains many useful prayers, litanies, and devotions to strengthen us against demonic attack.

A resource in the struggle against the evil which is all around us

At a time when many people, even within the Church, are playing down the influence of the devil, this book is a very valuable resource in the struggle against the evil which is all around us.”

– Donal Anthony Foley, The Catholic Times, 16th January 2015. For subscriptions please contact The Universe Media Group, Allerton House, St Mary’s Parsonage, Manchester M3 2WJ

 

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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PRAYER IS A HONEY WHICH FLOWS INTO THE SOUL AND SWEETENS EVERYTHING

Troubles melt away before a prayer well said, like snow before the sun

“Our heart is small, but prayer enlarges it and renders it capable of loving God… Prayer is a foretaste of heaven, an exhalation from paradise. It never leaves us without comfort. It is a honey; which flows into the soul and sweetens everything.

Troubles melt away before a prayer well said, like snow before the sun. Prayer is a fragrant dew; but we must pray with a pure heart to feel this dew.

See, my children, the Christian’s treasure is not on earth, but in heaven. Well, our thoughts should be where our treasure is.

Man has a grand function – to pray and to love… You pray, you love – herein lies man’s happiness on earth!

You pray, you love – herein lies man’s happiness on earth!

Prayer is nothing else than a union with God. When our hearts are pure and united to God, we feel within ourselves an intoxicating balm, a dazzling light. In this intimate union God and the soul are like two pieces of wax melted together; they cannot be separated. It is a beautiful thing, this union of God with His poor creature. It is happiness beyond our comprehension.

Those who do not pray tend towards earth, like a mole making a hole in which to hide

Prayer makes the time pass very rapidly, and so pleasantly that we do not notice its flight. The more we pray, the more we want to pray.

Some souls lose themselves in prayer like a fish in water, because they belong wholly to God. There is no division in their hearts. Oh! how I love these generous souls! … Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Colette spoke to God, as we speak to each other. And we – how often we enter the church not knowing what we are going to do, or what we want to ask!

Those who do not pray tend towards earth, like a mole making a hole in which to hide. They are wholly worldly and besotted, thinking only of temporal things…

He who does not pray is like a bird which cannot rise in the air; if they fly a little they soon fall again

Again, he who does not pray is like one of those cumbrous birds which cannot rise in the air; if they fly a little they soon fall again. The man of prayer, on the contrary, is like an intrepid eagle soaring into the skies, as if he wished to approach the sun. Thus it is with the devout Christian on the wings of prayer! Oh! what a grand thing is prayer! The man who is in the grace of God does not need to be taught how to pray; it comes to him naturally.

Like an intrepid eagle soaring into the skies

God has no need of us. If He commands us to pray, it is because He desires our happiness, and in no other way we can attain it. When He sees us coming, He bends down towards His poor creature, like a father who stoops to listen to his little child.

In the morning we should do as a child does in his cradle. Immediately he opens his eyes, he looks around everywhere for his mother…

There are two means of uniting ourselves to God

There are two means of uniting ourselves to God, and saving our souls: prayer, and the sacraments. All who have become saints have frequented the sacraments and raised their souls to God by prayer.”

– Blessed Cure d’Ars

 

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IF THERE ARE SO MANY HOUSES WHICH HARBOUR UNHAPPINESS, YOU WILL FIND THE EXPLANATION IN THE BLASPHEMIES AND CURSES WHICH HAVE DESCENDED IN THESE FAMILIES

“Below are some words written by St John Vianney. I share them for your prayerful reflection:

• This is a good rule of conduct – to do nothing but what we can offer to the good God. We cannot offer to Him slanders, calumnies, injustice, anger, blasphemy, impurity. We must reflect that we have a soul to save, an eternity awaits us. This world, its riches, pleasures and its honours will pass away.

• The crosses we meet on the road to heaven are like a fine stone bridge on which you can cross a river. Christians who don’t suffer, cross this river on a shaky bridge that’s always in danger of giving way under their feet.

• Never forget, my good friends, that the tongue has been given to you to praise God; that it had been consecrated to Him in holy Baptism and Holy Communion. What makes the sin of cursing and swearing all the worse is this: if parents are in the habit of committing this sin, the children will acquire the same habit and the vice will become hereditary in the family. If there are so many houses which harbour unhappiness and are the lurking place of the evil spirit, you will find the explanation in the blasphemies and curses which have descended in these families from generation to generation.

THE PERSON WHO DOESN’T PRAY IS LIKE A CHICKEN OR A TURKEY, WHICH CAN’T RISE INTO THE AIR

• The person who doesn’t pray is like a chicken or a turkey, which can’t rise into the air. They may fly a little, but as soon as they come down, they scratch the earth and get deeper and deeper in it, they cover their heads with it and they don’t seem to take pleasure in anything else. The person who prays, on the other hand, is like a fearless eagle, and seems always to want to get closer to the Sun.

• O how bitterly shall we regret at the hour of death the time we have given to pleasures, to useless conversations, to repose, instead of having employed it in mortification, in prayer, in good works, in thinking of our misery, in weeping over our sins. Then we shall see that we have done nothing for heaven.

– From: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris”

 
 

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