31 March 2017

To Thee, O Gracious Father


To thee, O gracious Father, we lift our loving hearts;
to us the Bread of Heaven eternal life imparts.
We thank thee for thy favour that marks us as thine own;
Lord, keep us ever faithful, who come before thy throne.
What love thou hast bestowed on us,
a love which makes us free!
It cleanses us from ev'ry sin,
and keeps us close to thee.

To thee, O Christ our Saviour, we come for saving grace;
we see how tender love is, by looking on thy face.
Keep us from all things hurtful by the power of thy Cross;
and help us to remember our gain comes from thy loss.
What heav'nly Food is ours, Lord,
this Food which makes us free!
It fills our hearts and makes us whole,
and keeps us close to thee.

To thee, O Holy Spirit, we whisper our desire;
our lives are empty vessels: Lord, fill them with thy fire.
Make us thy faithful people who seek to do thy will;
give us thy gifts of power, our empty hearts to fill.
What peace that passes ev'ry thought,
that peace which makes us free!
It banishes each doubt and fear,
and keeps us close to thee.

From thee, O Triune Godhead, salvation is come down;
Atonement now is given, mankind receives his crown.
In Sacrament tremendous we touch eternity;
we love thee, God our Saviour: thou art our destiny.
O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
our faith shall never cease!
In thee we have eternal life,
and never-ending peace.

Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips, 1990
Music: “Thaxted” by Gustav Holst, 1874-1934

30 March 2017

Children of the Atonement


As Passiontide draws near, this is an appropriate time for us to stand even closer to the Blessed Mother. It is her Son’s suffering and death which pierces her Immaculate Heart in a mystical way as she remembers with all of us the great price of our salvation. She consoles us throughout the year, but now especially our devotion should console her, because we are all Children of the Atonement.

Our Lord entrusted us to her at the same time as He spoke to Saint John from the cross, “Behold, thy Mother.” So let us be true sons and daughters. Walk with Mary as she follows her Son’s Via Dolorosa. Stand with her as she keeps her watch at the foot of the cross. Weep with her as she receives Christ's lifeless body into her waiting arms. Comfort her as she endures those three dark days, so that having endured with her, we may rejoice with her in the power and mystery of the Lord's resurrection.


22 March 2017

St. Turibius


Together with St. Rose of Lima, St. Turibius is among the first of the known saints of the New World, serving the Lord in Peru, South America, for twenty-six years.

Born in Spain and educated for the law, he became so brilliant a scholar that he was made professor of law at the University of Salamanca and eventually became chief judge at Granada. He was a great success, but he was about to enter upon a surprising sequence of events.

When the archbishopric of Lima in Spain's Peruvian colony became vacant, it was decided that Turibius was the man needed to fill the post. It was generally agreed that he was the one person with the strength of character and holiness of spirit to heal the scandals that had infected that area. Turibius cited all the canons that forbade giving laymen ecclesiastical dignities, but he was overruled. He was ordained priest and bishop and sent to Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst. The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. Abuses among the clergy were wide-spread, and he devoted his energies (and his suffering) to this area first.

He began the long and arduous visitation of an immense archdiocese, studying the language, staying two or three days in each place, often with no place to sleep, and little or no food. He made his confession every morning to his chaplain, and he would then celebrate Mass with tremendous devotion. Among those to whom he gave the Sacrament of Confirmation was Saint Rose of Lima, and most likely Saint Martin de Porres. After 1590 he had the help of another great missionary, Saint Francis Solanus.

His people, although they were very poor, also had a sense of personal pride, and they were unwilling to accept public charity from others. Turibius solved the problem by helping them himself, anonymously.

When Turibius undertook the reform of the clergy, along with unjust officials, he encountered tremendous opposition. Some tried to "explain" God's law in such a way as to make it appear that God approved of their accustomed way of life. He answered them in the words of Tertullian, "Christ said, 'I am the truth'; he did not say, 'I am the custom."'

O God, who gavest increase to thy Church through the apostolic labours and zeal for truth of the Bishop Saint Turibius: grant that the people consecrated to thee may always receive new growth in faith and holiness; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

18 March 2017

Stations of the Cross


Each Friday afternoon during Lent we walk the Stations of the Cross with the students at 2:15 p.m., and each Friday evening in Lent at 7:00 p.m. we have Stations for the whole parish, in conjunction with Solemn Evensong and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. However, you may make the Stations privately any time, and there is a plenary indulgence attached to this devotion. For you to gain the indulgence, these are the conditions:

EXERCISE OF THE WAY OF THE CROSS
PLENARY INDULGENCE

From The Enchiridion of Indulgences, 1968

A Plenary indulgence is granted to those who piously make the Way of the Cross. The gaining of the indulgence is regulated by the following rules:

A. Must be done before stations of the cross legitimately erected.
B. 14 stations are required. Although it is customary for the icons to represent pictures or images, 14 simple crosses will suffice.
C. The common practice consists of fourteen pious readings to which some vocal prayers are added.. However, nothing more is required than a pious meditation on the Passion and Death of the Lord, which need not be a particular consideration of the individual mysteries of the stations.
D. A movement from one station to the next is required. But if the stations are made publicly and it is not possible for everyone taking part to go from station to station, it suffices if at least the one conducting the exercise goes from station to station, the others remaining in their places.
E. Those who are "impeded" can gain the same indulgence if they spend at least one half and hour in pious reading and meditation on the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
F. For those belonging to the Oriental rites, amongst whom this pious exercise is not practiced, the respective Patriarchs can determine some other pious exercise in memory of the Passion and Death for the gaining of this indulgence.

A plenary indulgence MUST be accompanied by the three prerequisites of a plenary indulgence:

1. Sacramental Confession,
2. Communion, and
3. Prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father, all to be performed within days of each other if not at the same time.

The Faithful have been retracing these steps of our Lord Jesus Christ from the earliest days of the Church. While the number and names of the Stations have varied over the centuries, our present order for them eventually was fixed, and the indulgence was attached to the Stations erected in Churches and Oratories. It was no longer required actually to go to Jerusalem to gain the great blessings which flow from this devotion.

10 March 2017

Lenten thoughts...


This time of the year often takes my thoughts back to the Connecticut farm where I grew up, and the Spring causes me to think of the wonderful apple trees which would show their buds, and then burst into flower. I can remember the care my grandfather would lavish on them, pruning them with care. And the resulting fruit was simply grand! Golden Delicious, Macintosh, Golden Pippin...the varieties seemed almost endless.

As my grandfather aged, and as the demands of the farm increased, the pruning was missed one year, and then another. Soon the apples were smaller and fewer. Over the years unintentional neglect took its toll. Today where gorgeous trees once stood yielding bushel upon bushel of apples, now...nothing.

Our Lord Jesus said, "Every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits."

His point is clear. What is true for trees is true for people. If we take care to prune away the things which keep us from God, and if we are fed with the spiritual food of the sacraments, we will produce the good fruits of the Spirit. But if we neglect the spiritual care which is essential to our health and growth, we will be not much more than a rotting stump producing nothing.

07 March 2017

St. John of God


St. John of God was born at the end of the 15th century. He tended to be a very impulsive person, from the time he was a child. When he was prompted to do something, he usually stuck with it, no matter what – which is fine, if the prompting comes from God, but it can make life difficult if it’s something from your own imagination.

When he was only eight years old, John heard a someone talking about all the adventures there were out in the world, and so young John took it into his head to run away to seek his fortune. He never saw his parents again, but instead spent time on the road, begging his way from village to town, until he became very sick. A kind man and his family nursed him back to health, and John stayed with them, working as a shepherd until he was 27 years old. Feeling the urge to travel again, John joined the Spanish army, which was at that time in a war against France. As a soldier, he was hardly a model of holiness, taking part in the gambling, drinking, and the wild life along with his comrades. One day, he was thrown from a stolen horse near French lines. Frightened that he would be captured or killed, he reviewed his life and vowed impulsively to make a change.

He took on all sorts of physically hard work – unloading ship cargoes, building fortifications, anything he could find to earn a living. He would work hard all day, but then in the evening he would visit churches, and spend time reading spiritual books. Reading gave him so much pleasure that he decided that he should share this joy with others. He quit his job and became a book peddler, traveling from town to town selling religious books and holy cards. Finally, when he was 41 years old, he came to Granada where he sold books from a little shop.

After hearing a sermon on repentance, he was so overcome by the thought of his sins that the whole town thought he had gone crazy. After hearing the sermon John rushed back to his shop, tore up any secular books he had, gave away all his religious books and all his money. With his clothes torn and constantly crying, he was the target of insults, jokes, and even stones and mud from the townspeople and their children.

Some friends took him to a hospital for the insane. Eventually, the priest who had preached the sermon that had affected John so much, came to see him, and told him that he had gone on like this enough, so John was moved to a better part of the hospital, and where he was free to move about. Although still a patient, he began to help the other sick people around him. In fact, this experience made him decide to start his own hospital for the poor and those who had no one to care for them. He had no money for a building, so he went to the poor and homeless wherever they were – in abandoned buildings or under bridges – and he called those places his hospital. He continued to beg for money, and eventually found a very poor house which gave him a location where he could bring the sick and nurse them.

One day he heard that the hospital where he had been a patient was on fire. He immediately ran there and found that no one was doing anything. He entered the building and carried out the patients one by one, and then went back in to get as much of the contents as he could. As the fire burned more fiercely, he fell through the weakened timbers, and everyone thought he was dead – but almost miraculously, he walked out of the flames, unhurt.

John was ill himself when he heard that a flood was bringing precious driftwood near the town. He jumped out of bed to gather the wood from the raging river. Then when one of his companions fell into the river, John without thought for his illness or safety jumped in after him. He failed to save the boy and caught pneumonia. He died on March 8, his fifty-fifth birthday, of the same impulsive love that had guided his whole life.

John of God is patron saint of booksellers, printers, heart patients, hospitals, nurses, the sick, and firefighters and is considered the founder of the Brothers Hospitallers.

O God, who didst cause blessed John, by the fire of thy love, to pass unhurt amid the flames, and through him didst enrich thy Church with a new offspring: grant, by the pleading of his merits; that our vices may be healed by the fire of thy charity, and that we may obtain thine eternal healing; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

04 March 2017

Keep a holy Lent


Guidelines for Fasting and Abstinence.

Fasting is recommended by the Sacred Scriptures and is practiced by the Church as a means of atonement for sin and commending individuals and their prayers to God. The intent of fasting is penitential in nature and with the purpose of intensifying prayer. The current practice of the Church in the United States allows for one main meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, with some food being allowed at the other two mealtimes, with no food at other times. Liquids do not break this fast. The law of the Church binds Catholics “from the day after their 18th birthday to the day after their 59th birthday.”

Abstinence is followed every Friday in Lent. Abstinence means that we refrain from eating meat or food prepared with meat (including chicken). This practice is to remind us of Jesus’ redeeming death, and to practice the virtue of penance. The law of the Church binds those who are 14 years of age or older.

~ • ~

Lenten Devotions at
OUR LADY OF THE ATONEMENT CHURCH 

STATIONS OF THE CROSS
Fridays in Lent at 2:15 p.m. with the Academy students

SOLEMN EVENSONG, STATIONS OF THE CROSS,
BENEDICTION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
Fridays in Lent at 7:00 p.m.