Monday, October 21, 2019

St. John Henry Newman and the Angels



Newly canonized Cardinal John Henry Newman had an extraordinary devotion to the holy angels. In Sermon Notes he wrote:

“Many wonderful things in this world, but an angel more wonderful than all. If a creature so wonderful, what the Creator?”

In 1853, he wrote a beautiful poem to his guardian angel. Please take a minute to read it, with a prayerful attitude if possible. Your angel will be glad you did.


“Guardian Angel”

MY oldest friend, mine from the hour
When first I drew my breath;
My faithful friend, that shall be mine,
Unfailing, till my death;

No beating heart in holy prayer,
No faith, inform’d aright,
Gave me to Joseph’s tutelage,
Or Michael’s conquering might.

Nor patron Saint, nor Mary’s love,
The dearest and the best,
Has known my being, as thou hast known,
And blest, as thou hast blest.

Thou wast my sponsor at the font;
And thou, each budding year,
Didst whisper elements of truth
Into my childish ear.

And when, ere boyhood yet was gone,
My rebel spirit fell,
Ah! thou didst see, and shudder too,
Yet bear each deed of Hell.

And then in turn, when judgments came,
And scared me back again,
Thy quick soft breath was near to soothe
And hallow every pain.

Oh! who of all thy toils and cares
Can tell the tale complete,
To place me under Mary’s smile,
And Peter’s royal feet!

And thou wilt hang about my bed,
When life is ebbing low;
Of doubt, impatience, and of gloom,
The jealous sleepless foe.

Mine, when I stand before the Judge;
And mine, if spared to stay
Within the golden furnace, till
My sin is burn’d away.

And mine, O Brother of my soul,
When my release shall come;
Thy gentle arms shall lift me then,
Thy wings shall waft me home.

(The Oratory, 1853).


Saturday, February 9, 2019

St. Apollonia (check out the pincers!)


Creative Commons license CC BY 4.0 

St. Apollonia

The Martyrology reads: "At Alexandria the holy virgin Apollonia—under the Emperor Decius (249-251) her teeth were beaten out; then the executioners built and lit a funeral pyre, and threatened to burn her alive unless she would repeat their blasphemies. After some reflection she suddenly tore herself loose from her tormentors and threw herself into the flames. The fire of the Holy Spirit that glowed within her was more intense than the burning pyre. Her executioners were astounded to see a weak woman willingly embracing death with such determination before they were ready to carry out their threats."

The saint was already well on in years. An account of St. Apollonia's martyrdom was written by Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria (died 265), a contemporary. She is honored as the patroness against toothache.

Apollonia, it might seem, committed suicide. Her act was used by the ancients as proof that it is permitted to escape dishonor or persecution through voluntary death. But the most authoritative moralists, including Saint Augustine, declare that even in such cases suicide is not permitted, and seek to justify Apollonia's heroic act by assuming that she acted according to a special mandate from God; without such a divine injunction no one is allowed to follow her example. The saints are not to be imitated on every point.
— Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Dentists, tooth disease, toothache.

Symbols: Deaconess holding a set of pincers which often holds a tooth; gilded tooth; pincers grabbing a tooth; pincers; tooth and a palm branch; tooth; woman wearing a golden tooth on a chain.

Things to Do:
  • Pray to St. Apollonia for a courageous and holy death. The elderly especially may beseech her to strengthen their faith as they weaken and approach death.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

St. John Bosco's Guardian Angel Advice



"Take courage and pray; your guardian angel will also pray for you, and your prayers will be answered. Pray to your guardian angel. Invoke his aid if you should find yourself in any serious danger of body or soul, and I assure you that he will help and protect you."

St. John Bosco and the Big Gray Dog



On various occasions throughout his life, St. John Bosco found himself aided by a mysterious, yet gentle and loyal, large gray dog. The dog would appear unbidden when St. John was passing through dangerous neighborhoods, traveling on foot through the dark countryside, or, most famously, once when attacked by thugs. (The dog chased the thugs away after giving them a good scare with his not-so-little teeth.) St. John called his intermittent companion Il Grigio, Italian for "The Gray One."

A mysteriously as he appeared, the dog would trot away after accomplishing his duty. Not once did St. John ever see the dog take food or water. And on at least one occasion, the dog somehow disappeared from a cottage in which all the doors and windows were shut.

St. John had no doubt as to the origin of his furry friend: "It sounds ridiculous to call him an angel, yet he is no ordinary dog." Indeed, the saint firmly believed that had it not been for the big gray dog, his work would have been severely hindered, if not stopped altogether.

John Bosco, of course, went on to institute and organize the Salesians, a religious order for men and women under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales. Il Grigio reportedly retained a fondness for the Salesians long after John Bosco left the world. Between 1893 and 1930, sisters of the Salesian order testified that they had received the gray dog's protection on at least three separate occasions.

(A summary of information from Partners in Holiness: Guardian Angels in the Lives of the Saints)



Monday, January 28, 2019

Aquinas on the Angels


Thomas Aquinas was known as, among other things, the "Angelic Doctor.” He wrote extensively about the nature and mission of the angels in his masterpiece, The Summa Theologica, devoting a substantial part of his massive tome to them.

In keeping with the nature of this blog (i.e., easy to read and digest), I thought I'd post a "Top Ten List" of some of St. Thomas' points about the angels from the Summa.

These tidbits aren't arranged in any particular order, nor do they purport in any way to adequately represent the whole of St. Thomas's teachings on the angels. Nonetheless, I think there's enough here for us mere mortals to ponder and appreciate for quite some time And if the spirit should move you to further scholarship, you can read the good Doctor's entire discussion of celestial beings at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library

So, here we go:

1.  The angels were created in heaven. And it is fitting that creatures of the most perfect nature should be created in the most noble place.

2.  Angels were created in grace, and by using this grace in their first act of charity (which is the friendship and love of God) they merited the beatific vision and heavenly beatitude.

3.  God gives the angels their knowledge of things when he brings them into existence . . .Each receives what is fitting and necessary for its status and the service it is to render, and therefore some angels know more than others.

4.  Angels manifest knowledge to one another, and to this extent they "speak" to one another. But the speech of angels is not a matter of sounds or of uttered words. The speech of angels is a direct communication of knowledge from spirit to spirit.

5.  The faithful angels are a greater multitude than the fallen angels. For sin is contrary to the natural order.

6.  Angels, good or bad, can do wonderful things, but only such as lie within the power of angelic nature, and a miracle surpasses the powers of all created natures.

7.  Superior rules inferior; hence angels rule the bodily world. St. Gregory says that in this visible world nothing occurs without the agency of invisible creatures.

8.  God sends angels to minister to his purposes among bodily creatures . . . Angels sent in the external ministry are those whose names indicate some kind of administrative or executive office. These are, in descending rank, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, Angels.

9.  Each human being, without exception, has a guardian angel . . . In heaven a man will have an angel companion to reign with him, but not a guardian; no guardian is needed when the guarded journey has been successfully completed. In hell, each man will have a fallen angel to punish him.

10.  An angel can illume the thought and mind of man by strengthening the power of vision, and by bringing within his reach some truth which the angel himself contemplates.


(The above translation and wording is courtesy of A Tour of the Summa by Msgr. Paul J. Glenn, Tan Books and Publishers.)


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Feast of St. Francis de Sales




"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset." St Francis de Sales

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Mother Teresa's Express Novena




Mother Teresa was known for many things, not the least of which was her intense devotion to Mary. Rarely was she seen without a rosary woven around her fingers, Miraculous Medals at the ready to pass out to friends and strangers, and a prayer on her lips in praise or petition. Many times this prayer was the Memorare, one of Mother Teresa’s favorite invocations to the Blessed Virgin. A popular story about Mother Teresa is how, when faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, she immediately turned to Mary for help by praying an “express novena” of nine Memorares. And then a tenth in thanksgiving for favors received, such was her faith and trust.

Did it work? Well, those who worked with Mother Teresa were constantly in awe of how she seemed to always get what she wanted one way or another. Whether it was by appearing in person at the residence of a rich benefactor, influencing a powerful leader with carefully chosen words, or storming heaven with her prayers, Mother Teresa didn’t take no for an answer.

When I first heard about the express novena (also known as the “emergency novena”), I was intrigued enough to search the Web for stories about it. What I found was remarkable, and I urge you, dear readers, to do the same. There are countless testimonies out there that speak of the power of this devotion. And I am happy to say that I now count myself as a member of that camp. About a year ago I faced a personal crisis that led me to Mother Teresa’s emergency novena. I prayed it in my car on a cold February morning with as much fervor as I could muster given my depressed state of mind. Long story short, my crisis passed and my cloud lifted. While skeptics could claim it would have with or without the novena, I have no doubt our Mother in Heaven was looking out for me. Twice more this year I have had to turn to the novena for help. And twice more Mary has come to my aid. If anyone asks me if Mother Teresa’s express novena works, I will unequivocally say yes.

The Memorare is a beautiful prayer usually accredited to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, but its origins are actually unknown. The first manuscript of the Memorare appeared in 1489 as part of a longer prayer. It was popularized in the 17th century by a French cleric, Fr. Claude Bernard (perhaps the similarity in names is why it’s associated with St. Bernard), who taught it as part of his ministry to hospitals and prisons.

Regardless of who wrote it or where it came from, the Memorare is a treasure of our Catholic faith and should be taught to every child as early as possible. With child-like confidence let us return to it in our time of need.


The Memorare Express Novena

State your intention and recite the Memorare nine times.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.




Sunday, August 19, 2018

Bishop Robert Morlino on the sexual abuse crisis in the Church


UPDATE: Bishop Morlino is no longer with us, having died the evening of November 24, 2018, after suffering a "cardiac event."
R.I.P.
-------------------------------------------------------

In light of the devastating crisis facing the Church right now, I would like to post this letter from the Most Rev. Robert Morlino, Bishop of Madison. Please pray for Bishop Morlino, that God will keep him safe and strong in the faith, as no doubt he will be attacked for stating so bluntly what has needed to said for a long time. Please also pray for all of our bishops, that they will be given the courage and strength to similarly protect their flocks from the satanic evil that has invaded the Church.


bish morlino

Bishop Robert C. Morlino's letter to the faithful on the ongoing sexual abuse crisis in the Church

August 18, 2018
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the Diocese of Madison,
The past weeks have brought a great deal of scandal, justified anger, and a call for answers and action by many faithful Catholics here in the U.S. and overseas, directed at the Church hierarchy regarding sexual sins by bishops, priests, and even cardinals. Still more anger is rightly directed at those who have been complicit in keeping some of these serious sins from coming to light.
For my part — and I know I am not alone — I am tired of this. I am tired of people being hurt, gravely hurt! I am tired of the obfuscation of truth. I am tired of sin. And, as one who has tried — despite my many imperfections — to lay down my life for Christ and His Church, I am tired of the regular violation of sacred duties by those entrusted with immense responsibility from the Lord for the care of His people.
The stories being brought into light and displayed in gruesome detail with regard to some priests, religious, and now even those in places of highest leadership, are sickening. Hearing even one of these stories is, quite literally, enough to make someone sick. But my own sickness at the stories is quickly put into perspective when I recall the fact that many individuals have lived through them for years. For them, these are not stories, they are indeed realities. To them I turn and say, again, I am sorry for what you have suffered and what you continue to suffer in your mind and in your heart.
If you have not already done so, I beg you to reach out, as hard as that may be, and seek help to begin to heal. Also, if you’ve been hurt by a priest of our diocese, I encourage you to come forward, to make a report to law enforcement and to our Victim’s Assistance Coordinator, so that we might begin, with you as an individual, to try and set things right to the greatest extent possible.
There is nothing about these stories that is okay. These actions, committed by more than a few, can only be classified as evil, evil that cries out for justice and sin that must be cast out from our Church.
Faced with stories of the depravity of sinners within the Church, I have been tempted to despair. And why? The reality of sin — even sin in the Church — is nothing new. We are a Church made of sinners, but we are sinners called to sanctity. So what is new? What is new is the seeming acceptance of sin by some in the Church, and the apparent efforts to cover over sin by them and others. Unless and until we take seriously our call to sanctity, we, as an institution and as individuals, will continue to suffer the “wages of sin.”
For too long we have diminished the reality of sin — we have refused to call a sin a sin — and we have excused sin in the name of a mistaken notion of mercy. In our efforts to be open to the world we have become all too willing to abandon the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In order to avoid causing offense we offer to ourselves and to others niceties and human consolation.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Evil Unleashed and Ouija Board Nightmares



I've written in the past about the rise of interest in the occult and the correlative rise in exorcism requests. Author John Harker goes into this in more detail in his new book, Evil Unleashed: True Tales of Spells Gone to Hell and Other Occult Disasters. The ugly, horrifying consequences of participating in the occult are showcased in twelve fascinating chapters, with plenty of interesting and thought-provoking bits of advice sprinkled throughout from experts in the paranormal field. (Some Catholic, some not, but all worth considering.) John is an acquaintance of mine, and I’m happy to help him out by giving his book a plug here. If you know of anyone who’s in danger of getting entangled in the occult, or if you’re in the mood for a spooky-good read yourself, pick up a copy and share. The more you know about the enemy, the more you can arm yourself against it.


Added June 29, 2018:

John has also written extensively about the Ouija board, which Catholic demonologist Ed Warren once called "a notorious passkey to terror" and which is responsible for a large percentage of exorcism cases, according to American exorcist Fr. Thomas Euteneurer. To learn more, check out Ouija Board Nightmares and Ouija Board Nightmares 2, John's latest.