31 July 2012

The Portiuncula Indulgence


On a night in July 1216, St. Francis was at prayer in the little church of Portiuncula, devoured by love for God and a thirst to save souls. He prayed for the forgiveness of sins of mankind. Suddenly a brilliant light shone all around. In great splendor Jesus and Mary appeared in the midst of a dazzling cloud surrounded by a multitude of radiant angels. ...Then Jesus said to him: "Francis you are very zealous for the good souls. Ask me what you want for their salvation." St. Francis was rapt in ecstasy before Our Lord. When he regained his courage, he said, "Lord, I, a miserable sinner, beg you to concede an indulgence to all those who enter this church, who are truly contrite and have confessed their sins. And I beg Blessed Mary, your mother, intercessor of man, that she intercede on behalf of this grace."

The Merciful Virgin at once began to beseech her Son on behalf of Francis. Jesus answered: "It is a very great thing you ask me; but you are worthy of even greater things, Friar Francis, and greater things you will have. So I accept your request, but I want you to go to my Vicar, to whom I have given the power to bind and loose in heaven and on earth, to ask him on my behalf for this indulgence."

The Pope granted this petition, and this indulgence has been extended to all parish churches throughout the world for one day each year. The date has been set from noon on August 1 until midnight August 2, the feast of Our Lady of the Angels. It is said that St. Francis was given this day by Our Lord because of the feast of the Chains of St. Peter, celebrated on August 1, commemorating Peter's being released from prison, his chains removed. This is an extraordinary demonstration of God's mercy in removing the chains of sin from those who devoutly and faithfully seek to gain the indulgence by completing its requirements.

The conditions to obtain the Plenary Indulgence of the Forgiveness of Assisi (for oneself or for a departed soul) are as follows:
  • Sacramental Confession (during eight days before or after).
  • Participation in the Mass and Eucharist
  • Recitation of the Apostle's Creed, Our Father, and a prayer for the pope's intentions.

St. Ignatius of Loyola


Almighty God, from whom all good things come: Thou didst call Ignatius of Loyola to the service of thy Divine Majesty and to find thee in all things. Inspired by his example and strengthened by his companionship, may we labor without counting the cost and seek no reward other than knowing that we do thy will; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.



Church of the Gesu, Rome.

27 July 2012

We Adore Thee, O Christ...


I happened to see that someone had posted this precious picture on their Facebook page.  When I saw it, I thought, "That looks familiar."  Indeed, it's a picture that was taken several years ago as part of a campaign to encourage Eucharistic adoration, and some of our young students were photographed before our monstrance, with the Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of the Atonement in the background.

25 July 2012

Christ-bearer


Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, by Pius Parsch:
St. Christopher, one of the "Fourteen Sainted Helpers," has been highly venerated since ancient times in both the Eastern and Western Churches. The older martyrologies say that he suffered death for Christ; in more recent centuries piety has woven garlands of legend about his name.
Christopher has become a giant who wished to enter the service of the most powerful of lords. He first thought that the emperor qualified; later he selected the devil, and finally he discovered Christ to be the most powerful Sovereign over all the world. From then on he served Him with greatest fidelity. Because Christopher was of giant stature, he practiced charity by carrying pilgrims across a certain river. Once a child asked to be taken across. He complied as usual. While carrying the child on his shoulders through the river, it became heavier and heavier, and finally he could hardly support it. Then the revelation was made: "You are carrying the Lord of the world!" It was Christ (Christopher means "Christ-carrier").
The legend has the nature of a symbol. Bishop Vida gives the following exposition: "Because you, O Christopher, always carried Christ in your heart, the artists place Christ on your shoulders. Because you suffered much, they paint you standing deep in the waters. And because you could not accomplish this without being large of stature, they have made you a giant, bigger than great temples; therefore do you live under the open heavens during the greatest cold. And since you conquered all that is difficult, they have given you a blossoming palm as traveling staff."

It wouldn't be St. James' Day...

...without the great botafumeiro in the Basilica of Santiago de Compostela.



24 July 2012

St. James the Greater, Apostle


GRANT, O merciful God, that, as thine holy Apostle Saint James, leaving his father and all that he had, without delay was obedient unto the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him; so we, forsaking all worldly and carnal affections, may be evermore read to follow thy holy commandments; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


St. Matt. xx. 20.

THEN came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And ho said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

21 July 2012

Sub tuum praesidium


Sub tuum praesidium confugimus,
Sancta Dei Genetrix.
Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus nostris,
sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper,
Virgo gloriosa et benedicta.

Under thy protection we seek refuge,
Holy Mother of God;
despise not our petitions in our needs,
but from all dangers deliver us always,
Virgin Glorious and Blessed.

20 July 2012

Te, Joseph, celebrent


O Joseph, heav'nly hosts thy worthiness proclaim,
And Christendom conspires to celebrate thy fame,
Thou who in purest bonds were to the Virgin bound;
How glorious is thy name renowned.

Thou, when thou didst behold thy Spouse about to bear,
Were sore oppressed with doubt, were filled with wond'ring care;
At length the Angel's word thy anxious heart relieved:
She by the Spirit hath conceived.

Thou with thy newborn Lord didst seek far Egypt's land,
As wand'ring pilgrims, ye fled o'er the desert sand;
That Lord, when lost, by thee is in the temple found,
While tears are shed, and joys abound.

Not till death's hour is past do other men obtain
The meed of holiness, and glorious rest attain;
Thou, like to Angels made, in life completely blest,
Dost clasp thy God unto thy breast.

O Holy Trinity, thy suppliant servants spare;
Grant us to rise to heav'n for Joseph's sake and prayer,
And so our grateful hearts to thee shall ever raise
Exulting canticles of praise. Amen.

St. Apollinaris, Martyr


St. Apollinaris travelled to Rome with St. Peter, who ordained him and sent him to Ravenna to preach the Gospel there.  Apollinaris was beaten mercilessly by the local pagan priests, and driven from the city.  He continued to suffer terrible tortures as he continued to spread the Faith, but he remained faithful to Christ, giving his life as a martyr.

Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy holy martyr St. Apollinaris triumphed over suffering and was faithful even unto death: Grant to us, who now remember him with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to thee in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Basilica of St. Apollinaris in Ravenna, 6th century.

19 July 2012

Another fine mess...

Summer time has long been the season for those messy projects that need to be done, but which don't mix well with having school children around.  The narthex is one such project, and we're finally getting the woodwork done.  It's hard to tell how beautiful it will be from the pictures, but what looks like this now...



...will end up looking like this:




I'll post more pictures when it's done.

Monthly Requiem Mass


We offered the monthly Requiem Mass today in the Chapel of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, remembering all those whose names have been written in our Book of the Departed, and also those whose earthly remains are interred in the columbarium in the Chapel.

O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of thy servants departed, and grant them an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

18 July 2012

To love is to act...



To love God involves action and not simply attitude.  The visible proof of our love for God is the product of our daily work.  If we love God we will do something for Him, and our love must be creative in finding ways of showing itself: acts of praise, acts of self-denial, acts of kindness to others... these things make up the dynamic practice of godly love.  Above all, remember this: love without works is dead.

17 July 2012

St. Camillus de Lellis


St. Camillus is the patron saint of hospitals, hospital workers and those who are sick. Here is his story, excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, by Pius Parsch.

St. Camillus' mother was nearly sixty years old when he was born in 1550. As a youth he gave himself to the sinful pleasures of this world. His conversion dates from the feast of the Purification, 1575. Two attempts to enter the Capuchin Order were frustrated by an incurable sore on his leg. In Rome St. Camillus was received in a hospital for incurables; before long he was put in charge because of his ability and zeal for virtue. He brought to the sick every imaginable kind of spiritual and bodily aid.

At the age of thirty-two he began studying for Holy Orders and was not ashamed of being numbered with children. After ordination to the holy priesthood he founded a congregation of Regular Clerics, the "Ministers to the Sick." As a fourth vow the community assumed the duty of caring for the plague-ridden at the risk of their lives. With invincible patience Camillus persevered day and night in the service of the sick, performing the meanest of duties. His love shone forth most brightly when the city of Rome was stricken by epidemic and famine, and when the plague raged at Nola. Having suffered five different maladies, which he called God's mercy, he died in Rome at the age of sixty-five. On his lips was the prayer for the dying: "May the face of Christ Jesus shine gloriously upon you." Pope Leo XIII declared him the heavenly patron of hospitals and added his name in the litany for the dying.

O Almighty God, who hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of thy servant St. Camillus, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at length, through thy mercy, we may with him attain to thine eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

16 July 2012

Works of mercy...


In an effort to organize ourselves, we often make lists of “things to do,”and we get a real sense of accomplishment as we check them off. The Church, also, gives us such a list which is based upon the teaching of Christ. This list is known as the "corporal and spiritual works of mercy."

The corporal works are: to feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to shelter the homeless; to visit the sick; to visit those in prison; to bury the dead.

The spiritual works are: to convert the sinner; to instruct the ignorant; to counsel the doubtful; to comfort the sorrowful; to bear wrongs patiently; to forgive injuries; to pray for the living and the dead.

Out of our love for Christ, and because of our faith in Him, we should keep before us this list of “things to do.”

15 July 2012

Flos Carmeli


O God, who didst adorn the Order of Mount Carmel with the especial title of thy most blessed Mother the Ever-Virgin Mary: mercifully grant; that as we do this day remember her in our solemn observance, so by the help of her succor we may be found worthy to attain to everlasting felicity; who livest and reignest with the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Flower of Carmel, vine blossom laden,
Joy of heaven, who yet a maiden,
Bore God's Holy One.
Gentlest Mother, who never man did know,
On Carmel's children your privilege bestow,
Star of Ocean.

Root of Jesse, flower in the cradling bud,
Take us to you, keep us with you in God,
His together.
All chaste lily, rising despite the thorn,
Strengthen, help us, so feeble and forlorn,
Great Protectress!

Be our armor, valiant for Christ when war
Rages round us, hold high the Scapular,
Strong and saving.
In our stumbling, guide us on God's wise way,
In our sorrow, comfort us when we pray;
Rich your mercy.

Holy Lady, Carmel's great Friend and Queen,
Feast your people from your own bliss, the unseen
Grace, God's goodness.
Key and Gateway, opening on Paradise,
Mother, win us a place with you in Christ
Crowned in glory.


Elijah's Cave atop Mt. Carmel, where we have offered Mass while on pilgrimage.

13 July 2012

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha

Statue of Kateri Tekakwitha at the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 near the town of Auriesville, New York, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She was baptized by Jesuit missionary Fr. Jacques de Lambertville on Easter of 1676 at the age of twenty. She devoted her life to prayer, penitential practices, and the care of the sick and aged in Caughnawaga near Montreal (where her relics are now enshrined). She incurred the hostility of her tribe because of her faith. She was devoted to the Eucharist, and to Jesus Crucified, and was called the "Lily of the Mohawks." She died in 1680 and was beatified June 22, 1980 — the first native American to be declared "Blessed." Blessed Kateri will be canonized on October 21, 2012.

O Almighty God, who hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of thy servant Blessed Kateri, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at length, through thy mercy, we may with her attain to thine eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A sad but inevitable end...

It's hard to believe that we sprang from this.  Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say we were sprung out of this mess by the Holy Spirit. The following article appeared in the Wall Street Journal, and as I read it from a thirty-year distance, it's like coming across an old acquaintance, once an important and dear friend, who's now laying drunk in a gutter.

How could such a thing happen to what seemed to be such a solid and venerable institution? It's probably more reasonable to ask, "How could it not happen?" When a tree is uprooted, it cannot live for long. A body cannot live without a head. When there is no legitimate authority to guide, chaos will take over. Even what seems to be beautiful, when separated from discipline, eventually grows ugly.

As you read the article, you might be tempted to shake your head in disbelief. Rather, give thanks to God that He has allowed us to preserve all that was true and beautiful and holy in Anglicanism by bringing it back to its birthplace; namely, Christ's Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church.




What Ails the Episcopalians

By Jay Akasie

Indianapolis

Episcopalians from around the country gathered here this week for their church's 77th triennial General Convention, which ended Thursday. Although other Protestant denominations have national governing councils, the Episcopal Church's triennial gathering stands apart. For starters, it's one of the world's largest such legislative entities, with more than 1,000 members.

General Convention is also notable for its sheer ostentation and carnival atmosphere. For seven straight nights, lavish cocktail parties spilled into pricey steakhouses, where bishops could use their diocesan funds to order bottles of the finest wines.

During the day, legislators in the lower chamber, the House of Deputies, and the upper chamber, the House of Bishops, discussed such weighty topics as whether to develop funeral rites for dogs and cats, and whether to ratify resolutions condemning genetically modified foods. Both were approved by a vote, along with a resolution to "dismantle the effects of the doctrine of discovery," in effect an apology to Native Americans for exposing them to Christianity.

But the party may be over for the Episcopal Church, and so, probably, its experiment with democratic governance. Among the pieces of legislation that came before their convention was a resolution calling for a task force to study transforming the event into a unicameral—that is, a one-house—body. On Wednesday, a resolution to "re-imagine" the church's governing body passed unanimously.

Formally changing the structure of General Convention will most likely formalize the reality that many Episcopalians already know: a church in the grip of executive committees under the direct supervision of the church's secretive and authoritarian presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. They now set the agenda and decide well in advance what kind of legislation comes before the two houses.

Bishop Schori is known for brazenly carrying a metropolitan cross during church processions. With its double horizontal bars, the metropolitan cross is a liturgical accouterment that's typically reserved for Old World bishops. And her reign as presiding bishop has been characterized by actions more akin to a potentate than a clergywoman watching over a flock.

In recent years she's sued breakaway, traditionalist dioceses which find the mother church increasingly radical. Church legislators have asked publicly how much the legal crusades have cost, to no avail. In the week before this summer's convention, Bishop Schori sent shock waves through the church by putting forth her own national budget without consulting the convention's budget committee—consisting partly of laymen—which until now has traditionally drafted the document.

Whatever its cost, the litigation against breakaway dioceses—generally, demanding that they return church buildings and other assets—has added to the national church's financial problems. Many dioceses are no longer willing or able to cough up money to support the national organization, and its bank accounts are running dry. On Monday, for example, the church announced that its headquarters at 815 2nd Avenue in midtown Manhattan—which includes a presiding bishop's full-floor penthouse with wraparound terrace—is up for sale.

In the past, General Convention, for all its excesses, at least gave ordinary laymen a sense that they had a democratic voice in governing the church. But many Episcopal leaders have chosen to focus more on secular politics than on religion over the years. Donald Hook, author of "The Plight of the Church Traditionalist: A Last Apology," estimates that church membership has declined to fewer than one million today from three million in 1970. This is another reason, along with financial woes, to save money with a slimmed-down legislature.

And yet there are important issues at stake if laymen are further squeezed out of what was once a transparent legislative process. A long-standing quest by laymen to celebrate the Eucharist—even taking on functions of ordained ministers to consecrate bread and wine for Holy Communion, which is a favorite cause of the church's left wing—would likely be snuffed out in a unicameral convention in which senior clergy held sway.

Also in jeopardy would be the ability of ordinary laymen to stop the rewriting, in blunt modern language and with politically correct intent, of the church's historic Book of Common Prayer. The revisionist bishops who would hold sway over a unicameral convention in the future haven't hid their desire to do away with all connections to Thomas Cranmer, who was appointed archbishop of Canterbury by Henry VIII. He was a classic figure in the English Reformation. But today the man and his prayer book are deemed too traditional by some church bishops.

For some, the writing on the wall is already clear. On Wednesday, the entire delegation from the diocese of South Carolina—among the very last of the traditionalist holdouts—stormed out of the convention.

Mr. Akasie, a journalist and Episcopalian, lives in New York City.

12 July 2012

St. Henry of Bavaria


St. Henry (973–1024) is a patron saint for those who are childless.  He was known also as Henry the Lame, and for that reason he is also counted as a patron saint for the disabled and handicapped.  Here's his story:
Henry, surnamed the Pious, Duke of Bavaria, became successively King of Germany and Emperor of the Romans; but not satisfied with a mere temporal principality, he strove to gain an immortal crown, by paying zealous service to the eternal King. As emperor, he devoted himself earnestly to spreading religion, and rebuilt with great magnificence the churches which had been destroyed by the infidels, endowing them generously both with money and lands. He built monasteries and other pious establishments, and increased the income of others; the bishopric of Bamberg, which he had founded out of his family possessions, he made tributary to St. Peter and the Roman Pontiff. When Benedict VIII, who had crowned him emperor, was obliged to seek safety in flight, Henry received him and restored him to his see.

Once when he was suffering from a severe illness in the monastery of Monte Cassino, St. Benedict cured him by a wonderful miracle. He endowed the Roman Church with a most copious grant, undertook in her defense a war against the Greeks, and gained possession of Apulia, which they had held for some time. It was his custom to undertake nothing without prayer, and at times he saw the angel of the Lord, or the holy martyrs, his patrons, fighting for him at the head of his army. Aided thus by the divine protection, he overcame barbarous nations more by prayer than by arms. Hungary was still pagan; but Henry having given his sister in marriage to its King Stephen, the latter was baptized, and thus the whole nation was brought to the faith of Christ. He set the rare example of preserving virginity in the married state, and at his death restored his wife, St. Cunigund, a virgin to her family.

He arranged everything relating to the glory or advantage of his empire with the greatest prudence, and left scattered throughout Gaul, Italy, and Germany, traces of his munificence towards religion. The sweet odor of his heroic virtue spread far and wide, till he was more celebrated for his holiness than for his imperial dignity. At length his life's work was accomplished, and he was called by our Lord to the rewards of the heavenly kingdom, in the year of salvation 1024. His body was buried in the church of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul at Bamberg. God wished to glorify His servant, and many miracles were worked at his tomb. These being afterwards proved and certified, Eugenius III inscribed his name upon the catalogue of the saints.
- from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.
O God, who didst call thy servant St. Henry of Bavaria to an earthly throne that he might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst give him zeal for thy Church and love for thy people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate him this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The new Soldiers of Christ?


I do wonder what they're aiming at!  The tires carrying the "nuns on the bus," perhaps?  Maybe there's an invasion of Planned Parenthood personnel?  Or perhaps they're in training for when the government goons arrive to enforce the HHS mandate...

11 July 2012

St. Benedict of Nursia

Mass at the tombs of St. Benedict & St. Scholastica, Montecassino.

Almighty and Everlasting God, whose precepts are the wisdom of a loving Father: Give us grace, following the teaching and example of thy servant St. Benedict, to walk with loving and willing hearts in the school of the Lord’s service; let thine ears be open unto our prayers; and prosper with thy blessing the work of our hands; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Shrine of St. Benedict, Our Lady of the Atonement Church.

08 July 2012

Consecration to Our Lady


O ever Immaculate Virgin, Our Lady of the Atonement; Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son, Spouse of God the Holy Ghost: we consecrate ourselves anew to thy service and to that of thy Divine Son.

We beseech thee to enlighten our minds and inflame our hearts; to obtain for us a deep faith, a strong hope and a burning love; that through sanctifying grace, the source of our reconciliation with God, we may live the life of the Gospel as we have promised; that we may use the things of this world as though we used them not; that the great Atonement of thy Son upon the Cross may be more and more fruitful in our souls.

We beseech thee to look ever more graciously upon the Church, which thy Son has founded, and upon His Vicar on earth, our Holy Father. Obtain light and strength for him in his many endeavors for the glory of God.

We beseech thee to be gracious to our Parish which invokes thee under the title of Our Lady of the Atonement. May it be ever pleasing to God and to thee. May it ever work for the glory of Christ and the salvation of mankind. May it grow and prosper. May it ever seek first the kingdom of God and His justice. May each and every member be fruitful in every good work and pleasing in all things to the Heart of thy Son.

Lastly, we beseech thee to obtain for all men the grace of a true and lasting conversion to God; that the prayer of thy Divine Son may be the sooner fulfilled: “That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” Amen.

05 July 2012

St. Maria Goretti

Maria was the daughter of Luigi and Assunta Goretti. In 1902, when she was only twelve years old, Maria was attacked by 19-year-old farm-hand Alessandro Serenelli. He tried to rape the girl who fought him.  She repeated to him that it was a sin, and that he would go to hell. He tried to choke her to make her submit, and when he was unsuccessful he stabbed her fourteen times. She managed to survive for two days.  Maria forgave her attacker, and asked God to forgive him.  She died holding a crucifix and medal of Our Lady. During his imprisonment, Allessandro had a vision of Maria. He saw a garden where the young girl was dressed in white, and gathering lilies. She smiled, came near him, and encouraged him to accept an armful of the lilies. As he took them, each lily was transformed into a white flame, after which Maria disappeared. This vision led to Alessandro’s conversion, and he later testified at her cause for beatification.


She was beatified on 27 April 1947, and canonized on 24 June 1950.  These words are from the homily of Venerable Pope Pius XII on that occasion:

"It is well known how this young girl had to face a bitter struggle with no way to defend herself. Without warning a vicious stranger burst upon her, bent on raping her and destroying her childlike purity. In that moment of crisis she could have spoken to her Redeemer in the words of that classic, The Imitation of Christ: “Though tested and plagued by a host of misfortunes, I have no fear so long as your grace is with me. It is my strength, stronger than any adversary; it helps me and give me guidance.” With splendid courage she surrendered herself to God and his grace and so gave her life to protect her virginity. The life of a simple girl - I shall concern myself only with highlights - we can see as worthy of heaven. Even today people can look upon it with admiration and respect. Parents can learn from her story how to raise their God-given children in virtue, courage, and holiness; they can learn to train them in the Catholic faith so that, when put to the test, God’s grace will support them and they will come through undefeated, unscathed, and untarnished. From Maria’s story carefree children and young people with their zest for life can learn not to be led astray by attractive pleasures which are not only ephemeral and empty but also sinful. Instead they can fix their sights on achieving Christian moral perfection, however difficult that course may prove. With determination and God’s help all of us can attain that goal by persistent effort and prayer. Not all of us are expected to die a martyr’s death, but we are all called to the pursuit of Christian virtue. So let us all, with God’s grace, strive to reach the goal that the example of the virgin martyr, Saint Maria Goretti, sets before us. Through her prayers to the Redeemer may all of us, each in his own way, joyfully try to follow the inspiring example of Maria Goretti who now enjoys eternal happiness in heaven."

O Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God's grace, did not hesitate even at the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity; look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially youth, with what courage and promptness we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of thee, and may we one day enjoy with thee the imperishable glory of Heaven. Amen.

04 July 2012

A "good land for our heritage..."


ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favour and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

03 July 2012

Fourth of July memories...



Like most Americans, I have wonderful memories of family picnics on the Fourth of July. When grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and various other relatives got together we’d have seventy-five or a hundred people. Picnics on the farm meant setting up big plank tables under the large trees on the front lawn. It was a beautiful setting. Lots of lilacs, peonies and roses were on either side down to the road. It was a country lane and if someone drove by we always knew who it was, and the chances were that they’d stop by and join the crowd. And the food! The platters and bowls of things seemed to go on forever. And there would be dishes of blueberries and strawberries along with freshly whipped cream, because we had to have “red, white and blue.” We weren’t allowed to talk too much about the whipped cream in front of my grandfather, because that was a sore point for him. We lived on a dairy farm and when the milk was sold to the Cooperative, the price was determined by the level of butterfat content. My grandfather didn’t want us to take any of the cream from the milk, because he was convinced that even a little bit of missing cream would lower the price he could get. My mother or my grandmother would send me out to the milk house where the large cans of milk were kept in icewater, and I was supposed to skim some cream out of one of the cans, “but don’t let your grandfather see you.”

The Fourth was also a day when the family stories would come out, and we’d be reminded by the elders about our own American history. On my father’s side they were fairly recent immigrants from England. Around 1900 they began coming from Norwich where they had been owners of a mustard-grinding mill. Also, a great-grandfather on that side had moved from Wales to London, and then to Canada before coming to America. There were accounts of tough times and the willingness to work at most anything to make a living in their new country. On my mother’s side there were stories which captured my young imagination. It seemed to me they were almost royalty, because we would hear about our Revolutionary War ancestors. My grandmother’s maiden name was Adams, and she was descended from the famous family which produced John Adams, Samuel Adams, and so many other great patriots.

I used to have a copy of the Declaration of Independence on my bedroom wall. It was one of those that looked like the original document, printed on parchment. I convinced my mother that she should wallpaper my room with a pattern which I thought was wonderful. It had small pictures, including George Washington crossing the Delaware, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and other historical scenes. So I grew up with these important reminders around me, along with family links to the Revolution. We were unashamedly patriotic, as were most people in those days. It didn’t take a 9/11 to make the patriotism rise up. And we’ve seen how quickly it fell away afterwards for all too many. No, the patriotism I experienced was simply part of life. We knew we were living in a marvelous country, and whether we were in peacetime or war, whether there was abundance or if things weren’t so good, no matter who was president and no matter what the inflation rate happened to be, we were proud to be part of our nation and we were devoted to it.

And I still am. I love this country. I love it, even with its imperfections. I’ve lived abroad, and believe me, there’s nothing like living here. I can still remember returning in 1978 after five years of living in England, and as we flew into New York, seeing the Statue of Liberty brought a lump to the throat and moistened the eyes.

So our family will be getting together for the 4th. Of course, the people will be different. Now I’m the grandfather, taking the place of my own grandfather who died some years ago. And the only other difference will be that I'm happy to let everyone have as much whipped cream as they want.

The American Madonna


The title of Our Lady of the Atonement is tied intimately to our own country in a way which cannot be said of any other title of the Blessed Virgin. In fact, Our Lady of the Atonement is known in Rome as the "American Madonna" for a variety of reasons.

First, this title had its origins in this country, at Graymoor, New York. Also, her colors are our national colors: red, white, and blue. Additionally, the birthday of our country always falls within the Novena to Our Lady of the Atonement, reminding us to pray for our nation, so that all may know that our hope and strength come from what is represented in this image of the Blessed Virgin: namely, the loving Mother of God, offering to us her divine Son, who holds in His hands the holy Cross as the means of our salvation.

St. Thomas the Apostle


At that time: Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
- St John 20:24-31

Everliving God, who didst strengthen thine apostle St. Thomas with sure and certain faith in thy Son’s resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in thy sight; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

02 July 2012

"Pray for us..."


Our Lady of the Atonement, Daughter of God the Father, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Mother of God the Son, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Atonement, Spouse of God the Holy Ghost, pray for us.