Wednesday, June 28, 2017
A Catholic Tour of Barcelona & Madrid

On Tuesday I returned from a week-long trip to Barcelona and Madrid, a trip to celebrate the completion of my 21 month-long MBA Program at DePaul University.  The trip was approximately 1 week long and some of the highlights included attending the Corpus Christi Procession in Barcelona, visiting the famous Black Madonna at the mountain monastery of Montserrat, and seeing the Royal Palace of Madrid along with its Cathedral next door.

The following are some of the pictures of my trip.  Please note these photos are copyright (c) A Catholic Life Blog, 2017.

The Churches & Sights in Barcelona, Spain

The Famous Mountain Monastery of Montserrat

Madrid, Spain - the Cathedral

Monday, June 26, 2017
Sts. John and Paul

Double (1954 Calendar): June 26

John and Paul, Roman brothers, were imperial officers of high repute. When Julian the Apostate summoned them to appear at his court they refused, in order to remain faithful to their Master in Heaven. Having been allowed ten days in which to reconsider their decision, the brothers used the time distributing their possessions to the poor. Firm in their love of God and fellow men, John and Paul were beheaded in about A.D. 362.

The following is taken from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger:

Amidst the numerous sanctuaries which adorn the capital of the Christian universe, the church of Saints John and Paul has remained from the early date of its origin one of the chief centers of Roman piety. From the summit of the Cœlian Hill it towers over the Coliseum, the dependencies of which stretch subterraneously even as far as the cellarage of the house once inhabited by our Saints. They, the last of the Martyrs, completed the glorious crown offered to Christ by Rome, the chosen seat of his power. The conflict in which their blood was spilt consummated the triumph whose hour was sounded under Constantine, but which an offensive retaliation on the part of hell seemed about to compromise.

No attack could be conceived more odious for the Church than that devised by the apostate Cæsar. Nero and Diocletian had violently and with hatred declared against the Incarnate God a war of sword and torture; and without recrimination, Christians by thousands had died, knowing that the testimony thus demanded was merely the order of things, just as it had been in the case of their august Head before a Pontius Pilate, and upon the cross. But with the clever astuteness of a traitor, and the affected disdain of a false philosopher, Julian purposed to stifle Christianity amidst the bulrushes of an oppression progressive to a nicety, and respectfully abhorrent of human blood. Merely to preclude Christians from public offices, and to prohibit them from holding chairs for the teaching of youth, that was all the apostate aimed at! However, the blood which he wanted to avoid shedding must flow, even though a hypocrite’s hands be dyed therewith; for, according to the divine plan, bloodshed alone can bring extreme situations to an issue, and never was Holy Church menaced with greater peril. They would now make a slave of her whom they had beheld still holding her royal liberty in face of executioners. They would now await the moment when, once enslaved, she would at last disappear of herself, in powerlessness and degradation. For this reason the bishops of that time found vent for their indignant soul in accents such as their predecessors had spared to princes whose brute violence was then inundating the empire with Christian blood. They now retorted upon the tyrant scorn for scorn; and the manifestations of contempt that consequently came showering in from every quarter upon the crowned fool, completely unmasked at last his feigned moderation. Julian was now shown up as nothing but a common persecutor of the usual kind; blood flowed, the Church was rescued.

Thus is explained the gratitude which this noble Bride of the Son of God has never ceased to manifest to these glorious Martyrs we are celebrating today: for amidst the many generous Christians whose outspoken indignation brought about the solution of this terrible crisis, none are more illustrious than they. Julian was most anxious to count them among his confidants: with this view, he made use of every entreaty, as we learn from the Breviary Lessons; nor does it appear that he even made the renouncing of Jesus Christ a condition. Well then, it may be retorted, why not yield to the Imperial whim? Could they not do so without wounding their conscience? Surely too much stiffness would be rather calculated to ill-dispose the prince, perhaps even fatally. Whereas to listen to him would very likely have a soothing effect upon him; nay, possibly even bring him round to relax somewhat of those administrative trammels unfortunately imposed upon the Church by his prejudiced government. Yea, for aught one knew, the possible conversion of his soul, the return of so many of the misled who had followed him in his fall, might be the result! Should not such things as these deserve some consideration? should they not impose, as a duty, some gentle handling? Ah! yes; such reasoning as this would doubtless appear to some people as wise policy. Such preoccupation for the apostate’s salvation could easily have had nothing in it but what was inspired by zeal for the Church and for souls; and indeed the most exacting casuist could not find it a crime for John and Paul to dwell in a court where nothing was demanded of them contrary to the divine precepts. Nevertheless the two brothers resolved otherwise; to the course of soothing and reserve-making, they preferred that of the frank expression of their sentiments, and this bold out-speaking of theirs put the tyrant in a fury and brought about their death. The Church has judged their case, and she has found them not in the wrong; hence, it is unlikely that the former path would have led them to a like degree of sanctity in God’s sight.

The names of John and Paul inscribed on the sacred diptychs show well enough their credit in the eyes of the Divine Victim, who never offers Himself to the God Thrice-Holy without blending their memory with that of His own immolation. The enthusiasm excited by the noble attitude of these two valiant witnesses to the Lord, still re-echoes in the Antiphons and Responsories proper to the Feast. It was formerly preceded by a Vigil and fast; together with the sanctuary which encloses their tomb, it may be said to date as far back as the very morrow of their martyrdom. Granted by a singular privilege a place in the Leonian Sacramentary; whilst so many other martyrs slept their sleep of peace outside the walls of the Holy City, John and Paul reposed in Rome itself, the definitive conquest of which had been won for the God of armies by their gallant combat. That very same day of the year immediately succeeding their victorious death (June 26, 363), Julian fell dead, uttering against heaven his cry of rage: “Galilean, thou hast conquered!”

From the Queen City of the universe their renown, passing beyond the mountains, shone forth almost as soon and with nearly equal splendor in the Gauls. Returned from the scene of his own struggle in the cause of the Divinity of Jesus Christ, Hilary of Poitiers at once propagated their cultus. This great Bishop was called to our Lord scarce five years after their martyrdom; but he had already found time to consecrate to their name the church in which his loving hands had laid his sweet daughter Abra and her mother, awaiting the hour when he too should be joined to them in the same spot, expecting the day of the Resurrection. It was from this very church of Saints John and Paul, called later on St. Hilary the Great’s, that Clovis on the eve of the battle of Vouillé beheld streaming towards him that mysterious light, presage of the victory which would result in the expulsion of Arianism from the Gauls, and in the foundation of monarchical unity. These holy Martyrs continued, in after years, to show the interest they took in the advancement of the kingdom of God by the Franks. When the disastrous issue of the second Crusade was filling the soul of St. Bernard with bitterness (for he had preached it), they appeared to him, upraised his courage, and manifested by what secrets the King of Heaven had known how to draw His own glory out of events in which man saw only failure and disaster.


 O Almighty God, let our joy be doubled on this feast of the victory of blessed John and Paul, for they were made true brothers by sharing the same faith and the same martyrdom. Through our Lord . . .
Sunday, June 25, 2017
St. William the Abbot

Double (1954 Calendar): June 25

St. William was the Piedmontese religious founder (1085-1142).  He lived as a hermit in various regions of Italy. While he was on a height between Nola and Benevento, he was joined by a group of hermit-monks to whom he gave a rule based on that of St. Benedict. His congregation of Williamites was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. William was merciless in the austerities he imposed upon himself, believing ardently that the Christian who suffers with Jesus will also be glorified with Him (Rom. 8:17).

The following is taken from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger:

Martyrs are numerous on the cycle during the Octave of St. John. But not alone in martyrdom’s peerless glory does our Emmanuel reveal the potency of his grace, or the victorious force of example left to the world by his Precursor. At the very outset, we have here presented to our homage one of those countless athletes of penance, who succeeded John in the desert; one of those who fleeing, like him, in early youth, a society wherein their soul’s foreboding told only of peril and annoy, consecrated a lifetime to Christ’s complete triumph within them over the triple concupiscence, thus bearing witness to the Lord by deeds which the world ignores, but which make angels to rejoice and hell to tremble. William was one of the chiefs of this holy militia. The Order of Monte-Vergine, that owes its origin to him, has deserved well of the Monastic institute and of the whole Church in those southern parts of Italy, wherein God has been pleased, at different times, to raise up a dyke, as it were, against the encroaching waves of sensual pleasures, by the stern spectacle of austerest virtue.

Both personally and by his disciples, William’s mission was to infuse into the kingdom of Sicily, then in process of formation, that element of sanctity upon which every Christian nation must necessarily be based. In southern, just as in northern Europe, the Norman race had been providentially called in to promote the reign of Jesus Christ. Just at this moment, Byzantium, powerless to protect against Saracen invasion the last vestiges of her possessions in the West, was anxious nevertheless to hold the Churches of these lands fast bound in that schism into which she had recently been drawn by the intriguing ambition of Michael Cerularius. The Crescent had been forced to recoil before the sons of a Tancred and a Hauteville; and now, in its turn, Greek perfidy had just been outwitted and unmasked by the rude simplicity of these men, who learned fast enough how to oppose no argument to Byzantine knavery save the sword The Papacy though for a moment doubtful soon came to understand of what great avail these new comers would be in feudal quarrels the jar and turmoil whereof were to extend far and wide for yet two centuries more leading at last to the long struggle betwixt Sacerdotalism and Caesarism All through this period as has ever been the case since the day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost was directing every event for the ultimate good of the Church He it was that inspired the Normans to give solidity to their conquests by declaring themselves vassals of the Holy See and thus fixing themselves on the Apostolic rock But at the same time both to recompense their fidelity at the very opening of their career and to render them more worthy of the mission which would have ever been their honor and their strength, had they but continued so to understand it, this same Holy Spirit gave them Saints. Roger I beheld St. Bruno interceding for his people in the solitudes of Calabria, and there also that blessed man miraculously saved the duke from an ambush laid by treason. Roger II was now given another such heavenly aid to bring him back again into the paths of righteousness from which he had too often strayed, the example and exhortations of the founder of Monte-Vergine.

Following the footsteps of John, thou didst understand, O William, the charms of the wilderness; and God was pleased to make known by thee how useful are such lives as thine, spent afar from the world and apparently wholly unconcerned with human affairs. Complete detachment of the senses disengages the soul, and makes her draw nigh to the Sovereign Good; solitude, by stifling earth’s tumult, permits the voice of the Creator to be heard. Then man, enlightened by the very Author of the world concerning the great interests that are being at that very time put into play in this work of His, becomes in the Creator’s hands an instrument at once powerful and docile for the carrying out of these very interests, in reality identical with those of the creature himself and of nations. Thus didst thou become, O illustrious Saint, the bulwark of a great people, who found in thy word the rule of right; in thine example the stimulus of loftiest virtue; in thy superabundant penance, a compensation in God’s sight for the excesses of its princes. The countless miracles which accompanied thine exhortations were not without a telling eloquence of their own, in the eyes of new nations among whom success of arms had created violence and had lashed up passion to fury: that wolf, for instance, which, after having devoured the ass of the monastery, was enforced by thee to take its victim’s place in humble service; or again, that hapless woman who, beholding thee inaccessible to the scorching flames on that bed of burning coals, renounced her criminal life, and was led by thee into paths even of sanctity!

Many a revolution, upheaving the land wherein once thou didst pray and suffer, has but too well proved the instability of kingdoms and dynasties that seek not first, and before all things else, the Kingdom of God and His Justice. Despite the oblivion, alas too frequent, into which thy teaching and example have been thrown, protect the land wherein God granted thee graces so stupendous, that land which He vouchsafed to confide to thy powerful intercession. Faith still lives in its people; then keep it up, notwithstanding the efforts of the enemy in these sad days; but make it also to produce fruits in virtue’s field. Amidst many trials, thy monastic family has been able, up to this present age of persecution, to propagate itself and to serve the Church: obtain that it, together with all other Religious families, may show itself, unto the end, stronger than the tempest. Our Lady, whom thou didst serve right valiantly, is at hand to second thine efforts; from that sanctuary whose name has outlived lived the memory of the poet, who unconsciously sang her glories, may Mary ever smile upon the thronging crowds that year by year toil up the holy mount hailing the triumph of her virginity; may she accept at thy hands our hearts homage and desire, although we cannot in very deed accomplish this sacred pilgrimage.


 O God, the example and protection of Your saints, strengthen us in our own weakness, and enable us to walk in the path of salvation. May we pay fitting honor to the merits of the blessed abbot William, so that he may intercede for us and lead us in his own footsteps. Through our Lord . . .
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Damian Ashby, RIP

In your charity pray for the repose of the soul of Damian Ashby. Damian was for several years secretary of the Latin Mass Society, a good and faithful son of Holy Church.

Image of St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Brighton, United Kingdom
Friday, June 16, 2017
TRADITION RISING: Cardinal Burke in Chartres Pilgrimmage

17,000 pilgrims from all over the world walk from Paris to Chartres in the strongest showing yet of traditional Catholic restoration. See awesome photos and video footage of RTV's pilgrim photographer as Michael Matt chats with Father Pendergraft about Catholic Tradition's rising worldwide youth movement.  Plus, see Cardinal Raymond Burke celebrates the TLM in Notre-Dame de Chartres.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Sts. Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia

Simple (1954 Calendar): June 15

St. Vitus, born of an illustrious Sicilian family, was arrested with his tutor and his nurse. After many sufferings, they were martyred A.D. 303. In the Middle Ages St. Vitus was declared one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and came to be considered as the special patron of those inflicted with nervous disorders.

The following is taken from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger:

One of the titles of this Divine Spirit who is reigning so specially over this portion of the Cycle is the Witness of the Word (John xv. 26). Thus was He announced to the world by the Man-God Himself when about to quit it in order to return to His Father after having on His part rendered His own great testimony to Sovereign Truth (John xviii. 37). Formed by the Holy Ghost on the type of Jesus Christ, the faithful too are witnesses whose mission is to trample on lying error, the enemy of God, by expressing the Truth, not in words only but in deeds. There is a testimony however, that is not given to all to render: this is the Testimony of blood. The martyrs hold this privilege, this is the special stand granted to them in the ceaseless battle ever being waged betwixt Truth and Falsehood, and this battle is the sum total of all History. Hence Martyrs come crowding on the brilliant heavens of Holy Church at this season. In a few days the Church will be all thrilling with gladness at the birth of Saint John the Baptist, that man great beyond all men (Matthew xi. 11), and whose greatness specially consists in that he was sent by God to be a witness, to give testimony of the Light (John i. 6, 8). We will then meditate at leisure on these thoughts for which we seem to be prepared by the ever swelling groups of joyous martyrs who cross our path as it were to announce the near approach of the Friend of the Bridegroom (John iii. 29).

Today we have Vitus, accompanied by his faithful foster-parents, Modestus and Crescentia. He is but a child, yet he comes teaching us the price of Baptism and the fidelity we owe to our Father in Heaven despite all else beside. Great is his glory, both on Earth and in Heaven. The demons who used to tremble before him in life still continue their dread of him. His name remains ineffacably inscribed on the memory of the Christian people, just as that of a Saint Elmo or Erasmus, among their most potent “helpers” in daily needs. Saint Vitus, or more commonly Saint Guy, is invoked to deliver those who are attacked by that lamentable sickness which is named from him, as also to neutralise bad effects from the bite of a mad dog, and his beneficence is evinced even to the dumb brutes also. He is likewise implored in cases of lethargy, or unduly prolonged sleep. For this reason, the cock is his distinctive attribute in Christian art, as well as because recourse is usually had to this Saint when one wants to awake at some particular hour.

YOU have won the battle, glorious Martyrs! The struggle was not long, but it gained for you an eternal crown! You have purchased to yourselves, O Modestus and Crescentia, the everlasting gratitude of your God Himself, for to Him you faithfully gave back the precious charge committed to your keeping in the person of that dear child who became your very own through Faith and Baptism. And you too, noble boy, who preferred your Father in Heaven to your earthly parent, who may tell the caressing tenderness lavished on you eternally by Him whom before men you did so unflinchingly own to be your true Father? Even here below He is pleased to load you with striking marks of His munificence, for to you he confides, on a large scale, the exercise of His merciful power. Because of that holy liberty which reigned in your soul from reason’s earliest dawn by which your body was subjected to your soul’s control, you now hold over fallen nature a marvellous power. Unhappy sufferers whose distorted limbs are worked violently at the caprice of a cruel malady, and are no longer mastered by the will or, on the other hand, those who are rendered powerless and no longer free to act by reason of resistless sleep: all these recover at your feet, that perfect harmony of soul and body, that needful docility of the material to the spiritual, by which man may freely attend to the duties incumbent on him, whether as regards God or his neighbour. Vouchsafe to be ever more and more lavish in the granting of these favours, which are the precious gifts specially at your disposal, for the good of suffering mankind, and for the greater glory of your God who has given you an eternal crown. We implore you, in the words of the Church and by your merits, that God may destroy in us that pride which spoils the equilibrium of man himself and makes him deviate from his path. May it be granted us to have a thorough contempt of evil for thus is restored to man, liberty in love: superbe non sapere, sed placita humilitate proficere, ut prava despiciens, quoecumque recta sunt libera exerceat charitate.


Grant to Thy Church, O Lord, we beseech Thee, through the intercession of Thy holy Martyrs Vitus, Modestus and Crescentia, not to be highminded, but to advance in that humility which is pleasing in Thy sight, that despising such things as be evil, she may practice with overflowing charity whatsoever things are right. Through our Lord . . .
Receive Holy Communion as an Act of Reparation

An Act of Reparation From the Angel of of Peace at Fatima as taught to the three young children one year before Mary appeared in Fatima.  Let us pray this prayer during this Feast of Corpus Christi:
Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore You profoundly and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He Himself is offended. And by the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.
As we celebrate today the Most Glorious Eucharist, let us consider this article and perservere in our acts of reparation this day against sin.  Recall that Our Lord is already much offended as our Lady said at Fatima:

Reparation to the Sacred Heart
Fr. Raoul Plus, S. J.

Section III: The Practice of Reparation

THE spirit of reparation, if it is sincere and profound, will seek to manifest itself by a number of tangible proofs, by certain practices, which may be ranged under the following three heads: Affective reparation, effective reparation, and aiffictive reparation, according as the virtue especially exercised is love, self-sacrifice, or penance.


Sin and indifference deprive our Lord of love; therefore to make up for this we must give Him love. Hearts are turned away from God; then we must give Him ours. It is in prayer especially that the heart is given; and hence we have the practice of offering reparation by means of the Holy Hour. Our Lord is forgotten in His most Holy Sacrament. The object of this devotion is to give to our Lord not only one's own homage, but also the homage of those who deny His Real Presence, and so, according as one's duties permit, a certain time is spent in reparation before the Blessed Sacrament. These turns of prayer and watching before the Blessed Sacrament are organized and facilitated by certain Associations founded for the purpose.

Others may prefer to make a Novena of Reparation from the 1st to the 9th of each month. The purpose of this devotion is to console and compensate our Saviour for the insults He receives in the Blessed Sacrament. No exercises or set prayers are prescribed; you are advised to assist at Mass as often as possible, to receive Communion in reparation at least once, and to have a Mass said for the same intention at least once a year.

By reason of the fewness of vocations, in France alone 12,000 priests are lacking. This means that every day 12,000 Masses are not offered; there are 12,000 altars upon which the Precious Blood is not shed for the remission of sins, upon which Christ does not appear daily to restore the balance between Divine justice and man's iniquity. Why should there not be some souls who would take the place of these priests, souls devoted to the Passion and the Eucharistic sacrifice, filled with the spirit of redemption and love, who would try to make up, by the complete sacrifice of their hearts, for all these Masses that are lacking? The following method might be suggested: In the case of one who attends Mass daily, to offer the Mass for the said intention. If one is unable to attend Mass every day, to offer a particular half-hour of the day for that purpose, reciting the following or a similar prayer: "O Jesus, eternal Priest, deign to raise up numerous priests in whom Thou may fully livest Thy priestly life . . . Deign also to raise up many souls which by their detachment from the earth and their zeal for the salvation of souls will be coadjutors of the priesthood, and in a manner take the place of the priests that are lacking."

A practice taught by our Lord Himself is the devotion, in the spirit of reparation, of the First Friday. It is too well known to need much emphasis. Suffice it to quote two extracts from St. Margaret Mary's letters: "My Divine Saviour had bidden me to go to Communion on the first Friday of every month, to make reparation, so far as in me lies, for the insults that are offered to Him each month in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar." . . . "Let those who wish to honour the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a special way choose for this purpose the first Friday of each month, to offer Him homage according as their piety inspires them." (Ed. Paray, t. II, p. 72.)

Everyone knows the promises -----at first sight rather surprising-----which our Lord has attached to the faithful fulfilment of these practices. No wonder he speaks of the "exceeding mercy of His Divine Heart." Those who receive Holy Communion on the first Friday of nine consecutive months "will not die in My disfavour, nor without receiving the Sacraments, and my Heart will be their refuge at their last hour." And it must be admitted that it is partly in view of these wonderful promises that the devotion of the faithful to the Nine Fridays has increased so rapidly.

But it must be understood that these promises of our Lord are not to be set on the same footing as the words of the Gospels. Their value -----though it must not be minimized-----is simply such as attaches to a private revelation approved by the Church.

Moreover, it may be asked whether these words are to be taken absolutely, or are we to add the implicit condition: "Provided that he who has made the nine Fridays does not wilfully expose himself to the peril of damnation"? Authors are disagreed as to the answer. It seems to us that in this, as in the case of the sabbatine promise connected with the scapular of Mount Carmel, the second explanation is the better one.

Another practice popular among devotees of reparation, and recommended by our Lord, is that of Holy Communion offered in reparation. Really if everyone properly understood the doctrine of the Eucharist and the intention with which Christ instituted this Sacrament, no Communion would ever be received except in a sacrificial spirit. Our Lord instituted the Eucharist not so much to give us the benefit of His Presence as to associate us closely with His sacrifice. On the altar, as we have said above, He still has the intention of offering Himself absolutely to His Father for His glory and for the salvation of the world; and as by our Baptism we have become an integral part of His Person, He asks us as members of Christ to unite our sacrificial oblation to that of the Head. Thus, while the minimum disposition for the reception of the Eucharist is the state of grace, the disposition which is necessary in order to receive the fullest benefit from the Sacrament is the spirit of sacrifice.

Since, however, many of those who go to Communion are far from having this comprehensive, and yet only truly exact, idea of the Eucharist, also because it is permissible to each individual to emphasize more or less the reparative aspect of  Holy Communion, we can understand why our Lord should have recommended in a particular way the offering of Masses and the reception of Holy Communion in reparation for the insults offered to the Blessed Sacrament.

In accordance with this desire of our Lord an Association was founded in I854 -----and erected canonically at Paray in I865-----with the special object of "consoling our Lord by the frequent reception of Holy Communion, of turning away from us the scourge of His anger and His chastisements, and of making reparation and expiation in a certain measure for the continual blasphemies committed against the Divine Majesty and the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar." These are Pius Xl's own words.

This offering of oneself in reparation is specially recommended at Mass and Communion. But it may profitably be renewed at other moments during the day. Our Lord had suggested to St. Margaret Mary that she should offer a prayer or an act of reparation thirty-three times during the day in honour of the thirty-three years of His life on earth. The practice is a praiseworthy one, as long as too much stress is not laid on the mathematical aspect of the devotion. Others will prefer to make an offering to God for the sake of reparation at the thought that at this very minute our Lord is offering Himself to the Father in a Mass which is now being celebrated. Given the number of priests in the world it may be calculated that about four consecrations take place every second; hence it is certain that at whatever moment we may make the oblation of ourselves, our Lord is offering Himself too. In any case is not our Lord in the constant act of offering Himself, since in our tabernacles He remains always in the state of perpetual victimhood?

It is significant that in the Memoirs of St. Margaret Mary we find this request of our Lord: "Every time that I tell you of the ill-treatment which I receive from this soul, I want you, after receiving Me in Holy Communion, to prostrate yourself at My feet, to make amends to My love, offering to My eternal Father the bloody sacrifice of the Cross for this intention, and offering your whole being to give homage to Mine, and to make reparation for the indignities that are put upon Me by this soul. Setting Me on the throne of your heart, you will adore Me prostrate at My feet. You will offer yourself to My eternal Father to appease His just anger, and to urge His mercy to forgive them." (Ed. Paray, t. II, p. 147.)

More efficacious for reparation, because free from any defect whatever, are the acts of homage and reparation of our Lord Himself. It is true that we are called upon to fill up what is wanting of the sufferings of Christ, but however generous we may be, our offering will never be more than a mere drop in the wine of the chalice. Our Lord, fortunately, supplies all our deficiencies. Let us, then, offer our drop of water, but still more let us offer the Precious Blood of the Divine Head. The offering of that Blood is the great act of reparation, and by reason of my Baptismal vocation whereby I am one with Christ, I can take my humble part in it.

To give God a moment of the day in reparation is an excellent thing. But what if one could give Him the entire day? "I don't like sleeping," said a little girl once to her mother; "I don't like going to bed; so much time given to sleeping is so much time lost to loving." And what she said of sleep may be said too of external occupations. As a matter of fact, as we have explained elsewhere, both our sleep and our external occupations, although they are not explicit acts of prayer, may be transformed by us into a state of prayer through our intention. So that the child is not quite right, when it is a matter of the love of God.

Nevertheless, supposing that we were able to make every moment of our day an explicit act of prayer, what a harvest there would be! But what is not possible for one individual may become possible where there is a group; and this is the principle of the "Guard of Honour." In a celebrated vision to St. Margaret Mary the Angels offered to make an alliance with her, undertaking to adore the Blessed Sacrament in her place while she was busy with her domestic occupations (Ed. Paray, t. II, p. 108), and to make reparation "for all the daily acts of irreverence committed before the face of God."

The Saint thereupon desired that this idea should become widely known. In the year 1863 the practical formula was invented at the Visitation Convent at Bourg. Each member of the Guard of Honour chooses an hour of the day, undertaking during that time to think more than usual of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and to offer to him at least one sacrifice and an act of love. No special practice of piety is prescribed; nothing more than the duty of the moment.

But sin abounds during the night as well as during the day. So some have adopted the pious custom of devoting an hour to prayer during the night from Thursday to Friday to commemorate the terrible night which Christ passed during His Agony. How can we think of the horrors of Gethsemane without wishing to offer to our Lord the homage of our adoration and reparation? Every devout soul must feel inclined to say with the young girl who was later to be Sister Claire of Jesus: "When you have meditated on the Passion of Christ how is it possible to lie down in bed, when you think that it is the hour in which our Lord suffered His Agony in the Garden! Can I think of Christ bowed under that weight of suffering and yet not seek with my tears, my prayers, my sacrifices and my love, to console my Divine Master and give Him a word of comfort?"

"The darkness of night seemed to open," so writes Huysmans of the Agony in the Garden, "and as in a frame of sombre shadows there appeared pictures lit up by a mysterious light. On a background that glowed with menacing radiance the centuries passed in procession, pushing before them sins of idolatry and incest, sacrileges and murders, all the ancient crimes that had been committed since the fall of Adam; and the cheers of wicked Angels greeted them as they passed. Jesus, overcome with grief, lowered His eyes. When He raised them again, these phantoms of past generations had disappeared; but there before Him now were the crimes of the Jews to whom He was preaching the Gospel, drawn up in menacing array. He saw Judas, He saw Caiphas, He saw Pilate . . . He saw Peter. He saw the brutes who would strike Him on the face, who would encircle His brow with the crown of thorns. Gaunt against the sinister sky rose the Cross, and groans were heard from the nether regions. He rose to His feet, and dizzy and tottering, reached out for a supporting arm. He was alone.

"He dragged Himself as far as the spot where He had left His disciples; and there they were asleep in the peaceful night. He aroused them. They looked at Him agape, filled with fright, wondering whether this man with the distraught gestures and strained eyes was indeed the same Jesus Whom they had seen transfigured before them on Mount Thabor, with radiant face and garment of snow. Our Lord could not but give them a pitying smile. He only reproached them with not having kept awake, and twice more He went back to suffer in his corner of the Garden.

"He knelt to pray, and this time it was no longer the past and the present, but still more terrible, the future that unfolded itself before His eyes; the centuries to come followed one after another, showing changing countries and changing towns; even the seas and the continents changed their form before His eyes; only men remained the same, though their costumes altered from age to age; they continued to steal and to kill, they persisted in crucifying their Saviour, to sate their greed for luxury and gain. Amidst the changing civilization of the ages, the Golden Calf stood there immovable, ruler of mankind. Then it was that, overcome with sorrow, Jesus sweated Blood and cried: 'Father, if it be possible let this chalice pass from Me.  . . . But Thy will be done.' "

Jesus Himself has asked for souls generous enough to share and thus console Him in His Agony: "Every Thursday night," He said to St. Margaret Mary, "I will make you share in the mortal sorrow that I suffered in the Garden of Olives, a sorrow which will give you an agony harder to bear even than death. And to keep Me company in the humble prayer which I then offered to the Father, you will prostrate yourself on your face, to appease the Divine justice, asking mercy for sinners." (Ed. Paray, t. II, p. 126.)

Compare this request with those sad words related in the Gospels: "Could you not watch one hour with Me?" (Mark xiv:38), and ask yourself whether you would not do well to adopt this beautiful devotion of the Holy Hour. Since it is not always possible or desirable for all to get up in the middle of the night, the Church permits that the Holy Hour should begin at any time after four, or even from two o'clock onwards during the shorter days of the year. Evidently, where it is possible, eleven o'clock at night is the hour indicated, because this is approximately the hour at which our Lord was in the Garden; this was the hour chosen by St. Margaret Mary; and moreover prayer at that time has an additional merit from the sacrifice of one's sleep. Plenty of pretexts may be found for refusing this act of devotion. A little generosity is needed. Why is it that a person who does not hesitate to sacrifice his or her night for some social function or to listen to the wireless, finds that it would be injurious to health to pray for an hour during the night once a week or once a month? Let us confess that we are weak; but let us not add hypocrisy to our weakness.

A very practical form of the Holy Hour is that invented by P ère Mateo; it is called "Night Watching in the Home." Seven persons, either in the same house or in different houses, undertake once a month to make an hour's adoration before the picture of the Sacred Heart, between ten o'clock in the evening and five in the morning. By December, 1928-----that is, within eighteen months from its inception-----this devotion had rallied 21,766 adherents, thus ensuring 2723 nights of adoration, or an average of 900 adorers every night, or 110 a minute. This movement has received the august approval of the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, all the archbishops and bishops of Portugal, eleven bishops of France, and several other prelates of Spain, Belgium, Uruguay and Venezuela. 

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