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Sunday, July 30, 2017
Sts. Abdon and Sennen
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Simple (1954 Calendar): July 30

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

"The decrees of eternal Wisdom ordained that the West should be honoured before the East with the glory of martyrdom. Yet when the hour had come, Jesus was to have, beyond the Tigris, millions of witnesses by no means inferior to their forerunners, astonishing heaven and earth by new forms of heroism. Impatient of the delay, two noble Persians won their palm on this day by the command of Rome. By shedding their blood they paid tribute for their native land to the eternal City; and now they protect our Latin Churches, and receive the prayers and praise of the West. France receive a goodly portion of their sacred relics; and the city of Arles-sur-Tech, in Roussillon, can show to an incredulous generation the sarcophagus, from which flows a mysterious liquor, a symbol of the continual benefits bestowed on us by these holy martyrs."
During the of Decius, two Persians, Abdon and Sennen, were accused of burying on their own estate the bodies of the Christians which had been exposed. By order of the Emperor they were apprehended and commanded to sacrifice to the gods. As they refused to obey, and moreover with the greatest constancy proclaimed Jesus Christ to be God they were placed in close confinement, and when later Decius returned to Rome they were led in chains in his triumphal march. They were dragged to the Roman idols, but to show their hatred of the demons, they spat upon them. Upon this they were exposed to the fury of lions and bears, but the beasts did not dare to touch them; at length they were put to death by the sword. Their bodies were dragged by the feet before the statue of the sun, but they were secretly carried away and buried by Quirinus the deacon in his own house."
Prayer:

Hearken to our earnest prayers, O blessed martyrs! May the faith at length triumph in that land of Persia whence so many flowers of martyrdom have been culled for heaven. Before the time appointed for the struggle to begin in your native land, ye went to meet death elsewhere, and thus ye gained a new fatherland whereon to bestow your love. Bless us, the fellow-citizens of your choice, and bring us all to the eternal fatherland of all the children of God.
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Be Religious or Be Damned - Sermon by St. John Vianney
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St. John Vianney does not mince words as he warns his people in the following sermon. We too should heed his admonitions. "There is always the person who says to me, "What harm can there be in enjoying oneself for a while? I do no wrong to anyone; I do not want to be religious or to become a religious! If I do not go to dances, I will be living in the world like someone dead!" My good friend, you are wrong. Either you will be religious or you will be damned."

The sermon is available this week only on the Servants of the Holy Family Website.
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Thursday, July 27, 2017
St. Ignatius Retreat House: A Week For Reflection
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Four years ago I went on an Ignatian retreat at the Society of St. Pius X’s retreat house in Phoenix, Arizona.  The retreat was a very spiritually energizing time and one that left a mark on me.  As a Third Order Dominican, a retreat of at least 3 days is highly recommended in our Rule of Life – and for all Catholics, not just Dominicans, there is a plenary indulgence available to those who go on retreat for at least 3 days.

Yet over the past four years from work to my graduate coursework, I could not find time to go on a retreat.  This year I made it a personal resolution to go on retreat and I’m happy to share my experiences from my recent Ignatian retreat at St. Ignatius Retreat House in Ridgefield, CT.  This retreat is structured just as the one at Our Lady of Sorrows in Phoenix as it follows the Ignatian spiritual exercises and is led by SSPX priests.

My retreat began on July 10th (just a two weeks ago) and lasted through the subsequent Saturday at midday.  It was admittedly, a very difficult time.  As we are all accustomed to busy-ness and noise, I welcomed the opportunity to disconnect and pray.  Yet, for the same reason, it was by the end of the 2nd day, a very difficult endeavor.  It really helped me improve my patience, perseverance in trial, and helped me better restructure my life to the Lord’s will.

The retreat generally runs daily from 6 AM until 8:30 PM.  Retreatants rise at 6 AM and assemble for Prime at 6:30.  Meditation follows and then Mass at 7:15.  Breakfast is at 8 AM and then conferences until lunch time at 12:30 PM.  Then a series of afternoon conferences until Rosary at 6 PM.  Dinner is served at 6:30 PM and then one final conference at 7:30 PM.

The conferences follow the Ignatian Spiritual exercises which I have written on in the past.  For those who do not have a copy of “Christian Warfare,” the book is a must-have.  Not only does it contain the text of the Spiritual Exercises but it contains numerous prayers, the Mass prayers, devotions, Confession resources, and much more.  It is truly a book for those who wish to engage in the fight against the powers of darkness.

Some of my main takeaways from the retreat include:
  • Needing to better align my life to the Lord’s will
  • Making time each day and evening for meditation
  • Making time for 10 – 15 minutes of spiritual reading daily
  • A true acknowledgement that the devil is real and we are in a battle. He constantly fights us and tempts us.  Let us recall this to mind every single day and in all temptations.  He is real and he is really seeking to destroy us at every moment in the day.  Be vigilant and fight!
  • Heaven is hard – very hard.  Hell is real, and many souls go there forever
  • Confession requires true sorrow.  Don’t turn the Sacrament into a revolving door every month or week.  It is a real battle and it’s hard but we must fight temptations.
These were some of my insights from the meditations that followed each conference.  I am very grateful for the opportunity to have gone and prayed for everyone that reached out to me and requested special prayers.  I ask for your prayers that despite great difficulties, I better conform my life to the Lord’s will and fight the good fight.

For those who wish to learn more about going on retreat, please click here for the SSPX retreat site.  The site lists the many benefits of the retreats.  Find this time to spiritually recharge – your soul’s salvation may depend on it.

Photos From My Trip:







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Tuesday, July 25, 2017
The Twelve: Lives and Legends of The Apostles
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In honor of today's Feast of St. James the Greater, I am happy to announce Frances Spilman's latest book on the Apostles.  I was very honored to have served as the editor for this work.

What were the Apostles of Jesus really like? CatechismClass.com is pleased to announce that its latest online course and paperback will examine the Gospels, the Fathers of the Church, Apocryphal writings, encyclicals and other sources to search out the Apostles’ personalities and history.

Along the way we will look at the prayers, poetry, music and architecture the Apostles inspired and see how these twelve men are still teaching us today almost 2,000 years after their deaths. We will see how the faith spread throughout the Roman Empire and even beyond its borders and how each Apostle met his death. You will be surprised at the many different paths of the Apostles as they witnessed for Christ.

If you can not name all 12 Apostles and a description of what each of them did after the Ascension, this course is for you!

To learn more on the online course: Please Click here

To preview the paperback book option: Please Click here

Frances Spilman lives in a small town in northern New Jersey.  She went to Catholic schools from Grammar to Graduate school and taught CCD for several years.  She has played the organ in Catholic Churches for almost 45 years and has recently started to work with both 40 Days for Life and LifeRunners.  Frances is the author of both “A Step Towards Heaven: An Introduction to Religion” (2015) and “The Councils of the Catholic Church: Nicea to Now” (2015).  Both of her previous books are available on Amazon.com or directly through CatechismClass.com as an online course. 
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Sunday, July 23, 2017
Book Review: Return to Order
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http://amzn.to/2ui2flY
Last year I began to read an electronic copy of "Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society--Where We've Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go" by John Horvat II

Mr. Horvath's book was full of truly insightful wisdom detailing the root causes of society's fall from its former glory.  Many may point to the sexual revolution, the World Wars, or the industrial revolution as the cause.  All of these however are merely symptoms and consequences of a much larger disorder.  In "Return to Order," the true culprit is identified as "frentic intemperance."

Mr. Horvath points to the consequences of these actions when he describes secularism: "Secular society is the logical consequence of a predominantly materialistic society...personal belief in God is allowed and even encouraged as long as it is confined to the personal unofficial realm. A secular society in general is one which is officially purged of all references to a reality beyond that of our naturalistic and materialistic world."

He continues by quoting Plino Correa de Oliveira who calls secularism a "curious form of atheism," and then continues expounding on the topic in a rather insightful manner.

But Mr. Horvath's book does more than provide these good and clear-cut explanations, it also and powerfully addresses the errors in the modern economy.  He writes, "Our great error is that we have turned economic activity into an end in itself.  We have separated economics from the influence of those human sciences and norms that should orient all human actions.  Economics, which should be a faithful servant to help man reach his end in life, thus becomes a domineering master."

What is the best society?  In "Return to Order," it is described as being organic, possessing upright spontaneity, and fostering and built on a virtuous order.  In Chapter 26, Mr. Horvath outlines the ordering principles of autonomy, authority, vital flux, and subsidiarity as vital principles which must return to our society if we are to reverse the calamities of the past decades and centuries.

I recommend the book for those looking to better understand the root cause of today's societal woes and a very easy and inspiring read on how we might restore order to our world.
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Friday, July 21, 2017
St. Praxedes
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Simple (1954 Calendar): July 21

Praxedes was a Roman virgin and sister of the virgin Pudentiana. When the Emperor Marcus Antoninus persecuted the Christians, she devoted both her time and her wealth to consoling them, and doing them every charitable service in her power. Some she concealed in her house: others she encouraged to firmness of faith. She buried the dead, and saw that those who were imprisoned wanted for nothing. But at length being unable to bear the grief caused by such a wholesale butchery of the Christians, she prayed God, that if it were expedient for her to die he would take her away from so much evil. Her prayer was heard, and on the 12th of the Calends of August, she was called to heaven, to receive the reward of her charity. Her body was buried by the priest Pastor in the tomb where lay her father and her sister Pudentiana, in the cemetery of Priscilla, on the Salarian Way.

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

On this day Pudentiana’s angelic sister at length obtained from her Spouse release from bondage, and from the burden of exile that weighed so heavily on this last scion of a holy and illustrious stock. New races, unknown to her fathers when they laid the world at the feet of Rome, now governed the Eternal City. Nero and Domitian had been actuated by a tyrannical spirit; but the philosophical Cæsars showed how absolutely they misconceived the estinies of the great city. The salvation of Rome lay in the hands of a different dynasty: a century back, Praxedes’ grandfather, more legitimate inheritor of the traditions of the Capitol than all the Emperors present or to come, hailed in his guest, Simon Bar-Jona, the ruler of the future. Host of the Prince of the Apostles was a title handed down by Pudens to his posterity: for in the time of Pius I, as in that of St. Peter, his house was still the shelter of the Vicar of Christ. Left the sole heiress of such traditions, Praxedes, after the death of her beloeved sister, converted her palaces into Churches, which resounded day and night with divine praises, and where pagans hastened in crowds to be baptized. The policy of Antoninus respected the dwelling of a descendant of the Cornelii; but his adopted son, Marcus Aurelius, would make no such exception. An assault was made upon the title of Praxedes, and many Christians were taken and put to the sword. The virgin, overpowered with grief at seeing all slain around her, and herself untouched, turned to God and besought him that she might die. Her body was laid with those of her relatives in the cemetery of her grandmother, Priscilla.

Prayer:

Mother Church is ever grateful to thee, O Praxedes! Thou hast long been in the enjoyment of thy divine spouse, and still thou continuest the traditions of thy noble family, for the benefit of the Saints on earth. When, in the eighth and ninth centuries, the martyrs, exposed to the profanations of the Lombards, were raised from their tombs and brought within the walls of the eternal City, Paschal I sought hospitality for them, where Peter had found it in the first century. What a day was that 20th of July 817, when, leaving the Catacombs, 2300 of these heroes of Christ came to seek in the title of Praxedes the repose which the barbarians had disturbed! What a tribute Rome offered thee, O Virgin, on that day! Can we do better than unite our homage with that of this glorious band, coming on the day of thy blessed feast, thus to acknowledge thy benefits? Descendant of Pudens and Priscilla, give us thy love of Peter, thy devotedness to the Church, thy zeal for the Saints of God, whether militant still on earth or already reigning in glory.
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017
St. Vincent de Paul
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Double (1954 Calendar): July 19

Vincent de Paul, a Frenchman, was born at Pouy, near Dax, in Aquitaine, and from his boyhood was remarkable for his exceeding charity towards the poor. as a child he fed his father’s flock, but afterwards pursued the study of humanities at Dax, and of divinity first at Toulouse, then at Saragossa. Having been ordained priest, he took his degree as Bachelor of Theology; but falling into the hands of the Turks was led captive by them into Africa. While in captivity he won his master back to Christ, by the help of the Mother of God, and escaped together with him from that land of barbarians, and undertook a journey to the shrines of the apostles. On his return to France he governed in a most saintly manner the parishes first of Clichy and then of Châtillon. The king next appointed him Chaplain of the French galleys, and marvellous was his zeal in striving for the salvation of both officers and convicts. St. Francis of Sales gave him as superior to his nuns of the Visitation, whom he ruled for forty years with such prudence, as to amply justify the opinion the holy Bishop had expressed of him, that Vincent was the most worthy priest he knew.

His paternal love brought relief to every kind of misfortune. The faithful groaning under the Turkish yoke, destitute children, incorrigible young men, virgins exposed to danger, nuns driven from their monasteries, fallen women, convicts, sick strangers, invalided workmen, even madmen, and innumerable beggars. All these he aided and received with tender charity into his hospitable institutions which still exist. When Lorraine, Campania, Picardy, and other districts were devastated by pestilence, famine, and war, he supplied their necessities with open hand. He founded other associations for seeking out and aiding the unfortunate; amongst others the celebrated Society of Ladies, and the now widespread institution of the Sisters of Charity. To him also is due the foundation of the Daughters of the Cross, of Providence, and of St. Genevieve, who are devoted to the education of girls. Amid all these and other important undertakings his heart was always fixed on God; he was affable to every one, and always true to himself, simple, upright, humble. He ever shunned riches and honors, and was heard to say that nothing gave him any pleasure, except in Christ Jesus, whom he strove to imitate in all things. Worn out at length, by mortification of the body, labors, and old age, on the 27th September, in the year of salvation 1660, the 85th of his age, he peacefully fell asleep, at Paris, at Saint Lazare, the mother-house of the Congregation of the Mission. His virtues, merits, and miracles having made his name celebrated, Clement XII enrolled him among the Saints, assigning for his annual feast the 17th July. Leo XIII, at the request of several Bishops, declared and appointed this great hero of charity, who has deserved so well of the human race, the peculiar patron before God of all the charitable societies existing throughout the Catholic world, and of all such as may hereafter be established.


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

Vincent was a man of faith that worketh by charity. At the time he came into the world, viz., at the close of the same century in which Calvin was born, the Church was mourning over many nations separated from the faith; the Turks were harassing all the coasts of the Mediterranean. France, worn out by forty years of religious strife, was shaking off the yoke of heresy from within, while by a foolish stroke of policy she gave it external liberty. The Eastern and Northern frontiers were suffering the most terrible devastations, and the West and center were the scene of civil strife and anarchy. In this state of confusion, the condition of souls was still more lamentable. In the towns alone was there any sort of quiet, any possibility of prayer. The country people, forgotten, sacrificed, subject to the utmost miseries, had none to support and direct them but a clergy too often abandoned by their bishops, unworthy of the ministry, and well-nigh as ignorant as their flocks. Vincent was raised up by the Holy Spirit to obviate all these evils. The world admires the works of the humble shepherd of Buglose, but it knows not the secret of their vitality. Philanthropy would imitate them; but its establishments of today are destroyed tomorrow, like castles built by children in the sand, while the institution it would fain supersede remains strong and unchanged, the only one capable of meeting the necessities of suffering humanity. The reason of this is not far to seek: faith alone can understand the mystery of suffering, having penetrated its secret in the Passion of our Lord; and charity that would be stable must be founded on faith. Vincent loved the poor because he loved the God whom his faith beheld in them. “O God!” he used to say, “it does us good to see the poor, if we look at them in the light of God, and think of the high esteem in which Jesus Christ holds them. Often enough they have scarcely the appearance or the intelligence of reasonable beings, so rude and so earthly are they. But look at them by the light of faith, and you will see that they represent the Son of God, who chose to be poor; he in his Passion had scarcely the appearance of a man; he seemed to the Gentiles to be a fool, and to the Jews a stumbling-block, moreover he calls himself the evangelist of the poor: evangelizare pauperibus misit me.” This title of evangelist of the poor, is the one that Vincent ambitioned for himself; the starting point and the explanation of all that he did in the Church. His one aim was to labor for the poor and the outcast; all the rest, he said, was but secondary. And he added, speaking to his sons of St. Lazare: “We should never have labored for the candidates for priesthood, nor in the ecclesiastical seminaries, had we not deemed it necessary in order to keep the people in good condition, to preserve in them the fruits of the missions, and to procure them good priests.” That he might be able to consolidate his work in all its aspects, our Lord inspired Ann of Austria to make him a member of the Council of Conscience, and to place in his hands the office of extirpating the abuses among the higher clergy and of appointing pastors to the churches of France. We cannot here relate the history of a man in whom universal charity was, as it were, personified. But from the bagnio of Tunis where he was a slave, to the ruined provinces for which he found millions of money, all the labors he underwent for the relief of every physical suffering, were inspired by his zeal for the apostolate: by caring for the body, he strove to reach and succor the soul. At a time when men rejected the Gospel while striving to retain its benefits, certain wise men attributed Vincent’s charity to philosophy. Nowadays they go further still, and in order logically to deny the author of the works, they deny the works themselves. But if any there be who still hold the former opinion, let them listen to his own words, and then judge of his principles: “What is done for charity’s sake, is done for God. It is not enough for us that we love God ourselves; our neighbor also must love him; neither can we love our neighbor as ourselves unless we procure for him the good we are bound to desire for ourselves, viz.: divine love, which unites us to our Sovereign Good. We must love our neighbor as the image of God and the object of his love, and must try to make men love their Creator in return, and love one another also with mutual charity for the love of God, who so loved them as to deliver his own Son to death for them. But let us, I beg of you, look upon this Divine Savior as a perfect pattern of the charity we must bear to our neighbor.”

The theophilanthropy of a century ago had no more right than had an atheist or a deist philosophy to rank Vincent, as it did, among the great men of its Calendar. Not nature, nor the pretended divinities of false science, but the God of Christians, the God who became Man to save us by taking our miseries upon himself, was the sole inspirer of the greatest modern benefactor of the human race, whose favorite saying was: “Nothing pleases me except in Jesus Christ.” He observed the right order of charity, striving for the reign of his Divine Master, first in his own soul, then in others; and, far from acting of his own accord by the dictates of reason alone, he would rather have remained hidden forever in the face of the Lord, and have left but an unknown name behind him.

“Let us honor,” he wrote, “the hidden state of the Son of God. There is our center: there is what he requires of us for the present, for the future, for ever; unless his Divine Majesty makes known in his own unmistakable way that he demands something else of us. Let us especially honor this Divine Master’s moderation in action. He would not always do all that he could do, in order to teach us to be satisfied when it is not expedient to do all that we are able, but only as much as is seasonable to charity and conformable to the Will of God. How royally do those honor our Lord who follow his holy Providence and do not try to beforehand with it! Do you not, and rightly, wish your servant to do nothing without your orders? and if this is reasonable between man and man, how much more so between the Creator and the creature!” Vincent then was anxious, according to his own expression, to “keep alongside of Providence,” and not to outstep it. Thus he waited seven years before accepting the offers of the General de Gondi’s wife, and founding his establishment of the Missions. Thus, too, when his faithful coadjutrix, Mademoiselle Le Gras, felt called to devote herself to the spiritual service of the Daughters of Charity, then living without any bond or common life, as simple assistants to the ladies of quality whom the man of God assembled in his Confraternities, he first tried her for a very long time. “As to this occupation,” he wrote, in answer to her repeated petitions, “I beg of you, once for all, not to think of it until our Lord makes known his Will. You wish to become the servant of these poor girls, and God wants you to be his servant.” For God’s sake, Mademoiselle, let your heart imitate the tranquility of our Lord’s heart, and then it will be fit to serve him. The Kingdom of God is peace in the Holy Ghost; he will reign in you if you are in peace. Be so then, if you please, and do honor to the God of peace and love.”

What a lesson given to the feverish zeal of an age like ours, by a man whose life was so full! How often, in what we can call good works, do human pretensions sterilize grace by contradicting the Holy Ghost! Whereas, Vincent de Paul, who considered himself, “a poor worm creeping on the earth, not knowing where he goes, but only seeking to be hidden in thee, my God, who art all his desire,”—the humble Vincent saw his work prosper far more than a thousand others, and almost without his being aware of it. Towards the end of his long life, he said to his daughters: “It is Divine Providence that set your Congregation on its present footing. Who else was it, I ask you? I can find no other. We never had such an intention. I was thinking of it only yesterday, and I said to myself: Is it you who had the thought of founding a Congregation of Daughters of Charity? Oh! certainly not. It is Mademoiselle De Gras? Not at all. O my daughters, I never thought of it, your ‘sœur servante’ never thought of it, neither did M. Portail (Vincent’s first and most faithful companion in the Mission). Then it is God who thought of it for you; Him therefore we must call the Founder of your Congregation, for truly we cannot recognize any other.”

Although with delicate docility, Vincent could no more forestall the action of God than an instrument the hand that uses it, nevertheless, once the Divine impulse was given, he could not endure the least delay in following it, nor suffer any other sentiment in his soul but the most absolute confidence. He wrote again, with his charming simplicity, to the helpmate given him by God: “You are always giving way a little to human feelings, thinking that everything is going to ruin as soon as you see me ill. O woman of little faith, why have you not more confidence, and more submission to the guidance and example of Jesus Christ? This Savior of the world entrusted the well-being of the whole Church to God his Father; and you, for a handful of young women, evidently raised up and gathered together by his Providence, you fear that he will fail you! Come, come, Mademoiselle, you must humble yourself before God.”

No wonder that faith, the only possible guide of such a life, the imperishable foundation of all that he was for his neighbor and in himself, was, in the eyes of Vincent de Paul, the greatest of treasures. He who compassionated every suffering, even though well deserved; who, by a heroic fraud, took the place of a galley-slave in chains, was a pitiless foe to heresy, and could not rest till he had obtained either the banishment or the chastisement of its votaries. Clement XII in the Bull of canonization bears witness to this, in speaking of the pernicious error of Jensenism, which our Saint was one of the first to denounce and prosecute. Never, perhaps, were these words of Holy Writ better verified: The simplicity of the just shall guide them: and the deceitfulness of the wicked shall destroy them. Though this sect expressed, later on, a supreme disdain for Monsieur Vincent, it had not always been of that mind. “I am,” he said to a friend, “most particularly obliged to bless and thank god, for not having suffered the first and principal professors of that doctrine, men of my acquaintance and friendship, to be able to draw me to their opinions. I cannot tell you what pains they took, and what reasons they propounded to me; I objected to them, amongst other things, the authority of the Council of Trent, which is clearly opposed to them; and seeing that they still continued, I, instead of answering them, quietly recited my Credo; and that is how I have remained firm in the Catholic faith.”
Prayer:

How full a sheaf dost thou bear, O Vincent, as thou ascendest laden with blessings from earth to thy true country! O thou, the most simple of men, though living in an age of splendors, thy renown far surpasses the brilliant reputation which fascinated thy contemporaries. The true glory of that century, and the only one that will remain to it when time shall be no more, it to have seen, in its earlier part, Saints powerful alike in faith and love, stemming the tide of Satan’s conquests, and restoring to the soil of France, made barren by heresy, the fruitfulness of its brightest days. And now, two centuries and more after thy labors, the work of the harvest is still being carried on by thy sons and daughters, aided by new assistants who also acknowledge thee for their inspirer and father. Thou art now in the kingdom of heaven where grief and tears are no more, yet day by day thou still receivest the grateful thanks of the suffering and the sorrowful.

Reward our confidence in thee by fresh benefits. No name so much as thine inspires respects for the Church in our days of blasphemy. And yet those who deny Christ, now go so far as to endeavor to stifle the testimony which the poor have always rendered to him on thy account. Wield, against these ministers of hell, the two-edged sword, wherewith it is given to the Saints to avenge God in the midst of the nations: treat them as thou didst the heretics of thy day; make them either deserve pardon or suffer punishment, be converted or be reduced by heaven to the impossibility of doing harm. Above all, take care of the unhappy beings whom these satanic men deprive of spiritual help in their last moments. Elevate thy daughters to the high level required by the present sad circumstances, when men would have their devotedness to deny its Divine origin and cast off the guise of religion. If the enemies of the poor man can snatch from his deathbed the sacred sign of salvation, no rule, no law, no power of this world or the next, can cast out Jesus from the soul of the Sister of Charity, or prevent his name from passing from her heart to her lips: neither death nor hell, neither fire nor flood can stay him, says the Canticle of Canticles.

Thy sons, too, are carrying on thy work of evangelization; and even in our days their apostolate is crowned with the diadem of sanctity and martyrdom. Uphold their zeal; develop in them thy own spirit of unchanging devotedness to the Church and submission to the supreme Pastor. Forward all the new works of charity springing out of thy own, and placed by Rome to thy credit and under thy patronage. May they gather their heat from the Divine fire which thou didst rekindle on the earth; may they ever seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, never deviating, in the choice of means, from the principle thou didst lay down for them of “judging, speaking, and acting, exactly as the Eternal Wisdom of God, clothed in our weak flesh, judged, spoke, and acted.”
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Monday, July 17, 2017
St. Alexius
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SemiDouble (1954 Calendar): July 17

Alexius was the son of one of Rome’s noblest families. Through his exceeding love for Jesus Christ, he, by a special inspiration from God, left his wife still a virgin on the first night of his marriage, and undertook a pilgrimage to the most illustrious Churches all over the world. For seventeen years he remained unknown, while performing these pilgrimages, and then his name was revealed at Edessa, a town of Syria, by an image of the most holy Virgin Mary. He therefore left Syria by sea and sailed to the port of Rome, where he was received as a guest by his own father who took him for a poor stranger. He lived in his father’s house, unknown to all, for seventeen years, and then passed to heaven, leaving a written paper which revealed his name, his family, and the story of his whole life. His death occurred in the Pontificate of Innocent I.

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

Although we are not commanded to follow the Saints to the extremities where their heroic virtue leads them, nevertheless, from their inaccessible heights, they still guide us along the easier paths of the plain. As the eagle upon the orb of day, they fixed their unflinching gaze upon the Sun of Justice; and, irresistibly attracted by his divine splendor, they poised their flight far above the cloudy region where we are glad to screen our feeble eyes. But however varied be the degrees of brightness for them and for us, the light itself is unchangeable, provided that, like them, we draw it from the authentic source. When the weakness of our sight would lead us to mistake false glimmerings for the truth, let us think of these friends of God; if we have not courage enough to imitate them, where the commandments leave us free to do so or not, let us at least conform our judgments and appreciations to theirs: their view is more trustworthy, because farther reaching; their sanctity is nothing but the rectitude wherewith they follow up unflinchingly, even to its central focus, the heavenly ray, whereof we can scarcely bear a tempered reflection. Above all, let us not be led so far astray by the will-o’-the-wisps of this world of darkness, as to wish to direct, by their false light, the actions of the saints: can the owl judge better of the light than the eagle?

Descending from the pure firmament of the holy Liturgy even to the humblest conditions of Christian life, the light which led Alexius to the highest point of detachment, is thus subdued by the Apostle to the capacity of all: “If any man take a wife, he hath not sinned, nor the virgin whom he marrieth; nevertheless, such shall have tribulation of the flesh, which I would fain spare you. This, therefore, I say, brethren: the time is short; it remaineth, therefore, that they also who have wives, be as if they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as if they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as if they used it not: for the fashion of this world passeth away.”

Prayer:

O God, it is a joy for us to celebrate yearly the feast of Your blessed confessor Alexis. may we who commemorate his birthday also imitate his example. Through our Lord . . .
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Sunday, July 16, 2017
Our Savior and His Love for Us
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http://amzn.to/2t5chGJ
This past week I was thankful to have been on a 5 Day Ignatian Spiritual Retreat in Ridgefield, Connecticut.  While I will write more in length in the coming days on my time there, I did want to share a book recommendation that I found extremely enlightening, insightful, and doctrinally solid.

The book is "Our Savior and His Love for Us" by the famous Dominican Philosopher of the 20th century - Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange.

Fr. Lagarange probes the meaning of 32 different topics relating to Our Lord's Divine Life and how they show His love for us. Each chapter is truly marvelous and beautifully written - spurning on each souls that already are well familiar with the life of the Lord.  I took away several insights on the Last Supper that I was not aware of despite having heard the story many different times already.

If you are looking for truly edifying spiritual reading, please consider "Our Savior and His Love for Us"
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Saturday, July 8, 2017
St. Elizabeth, Queen and Widow
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SemiDouble (1954 Calendar): July 8

Elizabeth, of the royal race of Aragon, was born in the year of our Lord 1271. As a presage of her future sanctity, her parents, contrary to custom, passing over the mother and grandmother, gave her in Baptism the name of her maternal great-aunt, St. Elizabeth, Duchess of Thuringia. No sooner was she born, than it became evident what a blessed peacemaker she was to be between kings and kingdoms; for the joy of her birth put a happy period to the miserable quarrels of her father and grandfather. As she grew up, her father, admiring the natural abilities of his daughter, was wont to assert that Elizabeth would far outstrip in virtue all the women descended of the royal blood of Aragon; and so great was his veneration for her heavenly manner of life, her contempt of worldly ornaments, her abhorrence of pleasure, her assiduity in fasting, prayer, and works of charity, that he attributed to her merits alone the prosperity of his kingdom and estate. On account of her widespread reputation, her hand was sought by many princes; at length she was, with all the ceremonies of holy Church, united in matrimony with Dionysius, king of Portugal.

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

In the footsteps of Margaret of Scotland and of Clotilde of France, a third Queen comes to shed her brightness on the sacred cycle. Born at the southern extremity of Christendom, where it borders of Musselman lands, she was destined by the Holy Ghost to seal with peace the victories of Christ, and prepare the way for fresh conquests. The blessed name of Elizabeth, which for half a century had been rejoicing the world with its sweet perfume, was given to her, foretelling that this newborn child, as though attracted by the roses which fell from the mantle of her Thuringian aunt, was to cause these same heavenly flowers to blossom in Iberia.

There is a mysterious heirship among the saints of God. The same year in which one niece of Elizabeth of Thuringia was born in Spain, another, the Blessed Margaret of Hungary, took her flight to heaven. She had been consecrated to God from her mother’s womb, as a pledge for the salvation of her people, in the midst of terrible disasters; and the hopes so early centered in her were not frustrated. A short life of twenty-eight years spent in innocence and prayer, earned for her country the blessings of peace and civilization; and then Margaret bequeathed to our Saint of today the mission of continuing in another land the work of her holy predecessors.

The time had come for our Lord to shed a ray of His grace upon Spain. The thirteenth century was closing, leaving the world in a state of dismemberment and ruin. Weary of fighting for Christ, kings dismissed the Church from their councils, and selfishly kept aloof, preferring their own ambitious strifes to the common aspiration of the once great body of Christendom. Such a state of things was disastrous for the entire West; much more, then, for that noble country where the Crusade the multiplied kingdoms as so many outposts against the common enemy, the Moors. Unity of views and the sacrifice of all things to the great work of deliverance could alone maintain in the successors of Pelayo the spirit of the grand memories of yore. Unfortunately these princes, though heroes on the battlefield, had not sufficient strength of mind to lay aside their petty quarrels and take up the sacred duty entrusted to them by Providence. In vain did the Roman Pontiff strive to awaken them to the interests of their country and of the Christian name; these hearts, generous in other respects, were too stifled by miserable passions to heed his voice; and the Musselman looked on delightedly at these intestine strifes, which retarded his own defeat. Navarre, Castile, Aragon, and Portugal were not only at war with each other; but even within each of these kingdoms, father and son were at enmity, and brother disputed with brother, inch by inch, the heritage of his ancestors.

Who was to restore to Spain the still recent traditions of her Ferdinand III? Who was to gather again these dissentient wills into one, so as to make them a terror to the Sacracen and a glory to Christ? James I of Aragon, who rivalled St. Ferdinand both in bravery and in conquests, had married Yoland, daughter of Andrew of Hungary; whereupon the cultus of the holy Duchess of Thuringia, whose brother-in-law he had thus become, was introduced beyond the Pyrenees; and the name of Elizabeth, changed in most into Isabel, became, as it were, a family jewel with which the Spanish princesses have loved to be adorned. The first to bear it was the daughter of James and Yoland, who married Philip III of France, successor of St. Louis; the second was the grand-daughter of the same James I, the Saint whom the Church honors today, and of whom the old king, with prophetic insight, loved to say, that she would surpass all the women of the race of Aragon.

Inheriting not only the name, but also the virtues of the “dear St. Elizabeth,” she would one day deserve to be called “the mother of peace and of her country.” By means of her heroic self-renunciation and all-powerful prayer, she repressed the lamentable quarrels of princes. One day, unable to prevent peace being broken, she cast herself between two contending armies under a very hailstorm of arrows, and so forced the soldiers to lay down their fratricidal arms. Thus she paved the way for the happy event, which she herself was not to have the consolation of seeing: the re-organization of that great enterprise for the expulsion of the Moors, which was not to close till the following century under the auspices of another Isabel, her worthy descendant, who would add to her name the beautiful title of “the Catholic.” Four years after Elizabeth’s death, the victory of Salado was gained by the united armies of all Spain over 600,000 infidels, showing how a woman could, under most adverse circumstances, inaugurate a brilliant Crusade, to the immortal fame of her country.
Prayer:

O blessed Elizabeth! we praise God for thy holy works, as the Church this day invites all her sons to do (in the Invitatory). More valiant than those princes in whose midst thou didst appear as the angel of thy fatherland, thou didst exhibit in thy private life a heroism which could equal theirs, when need was, even on the battlefield. God’s grace was the motive-power of thy actions, and His glory their sole end. Often does God gain more glory by abnegations hidden from all eyes but His, than by great works justly admired by a whole people. It is because the power of His grace shines forth the more; and it is generally the way of His Providence to cause the most remarkable blessings bestowed on nations, to spring from these hidden sources. How many battles celebrated in history have first been fought and won in the sight of the Blessed Trinity, in some hidden spot of that supernatural world, where the elect are ever at war with hell, nay, struggle at times even with God Himself; how many famous treaties with peace have first been concluded between heaven and earth in the secret of a single soul, as a reward for those giant struggles which men misunderstand and despise! Let the fashion of this world pass away; and those deep-thinking politicians, who are said to rule the course of events, the proud negotiators and warriors of renown, all, when judged by the light of eternity, will appear for what they are: mere deceptions screening from the sight of men the only names truly worthy of immortality.

Glory then be to thee, through whom the Lord has deigned to lift a corner of the veil that hides from the world the true rulers of its destinies. In the golden book of the elect, thy nobility rests on better titles than those of birth. Daughter and mother of kings, thyself a queen, thou didst rule over a glorious land; but far more glorious is the family throne in heaven, where thou reignest with the first Elizabeth, with Margaret and with Hedwige, and where others will come to join thee, doing honor to the same noble blood which flowed in thy veins.

Remember, O mother of thy country, that the power given thee on earth is not diminished now that the God of armies has called thee to thy heavenly triumph. True, the land of Iberia, which owes its independence principally to thee, is no longer in the same troubled condition; but if at the present day there is no fear of the Moors, on the other hand, Spain and Portugal have fallen away from their noble traditions: lead them back to the right path, that they mat attain the glorious destiny marked out for them by Providence. Thy power in heaven is not restrained within the borders of a kingdom; cast then a look of mercy on the rest of the world: see how nations, recognizing no right but might, waste their wealth and their vitality in wholesale bloodshed; has the time come for those terrible wars, which are to be harbingers of the end, and wherein the world will work its own destruction! O mother of peace! hear how the Church, the mother of nations, implores thee to make full use of thy sublime prerogative; put a stop to these furious strifes; and make our life on earth a path of peace, leading up ot the joys of eternity.
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Thursday, July 6, 2017
Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
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Note: This article is taken directly from the SSPX website.

On the feast of the Sacred Heart, the Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus held a moving ceremony at Vigne di Narni in Italy.

Two American postulants took the habit: Rita and Cassian became Sister Maria Maddalena dell’Amore Misericordioso and Sister Maria Bernadette di Gésu Crucifisso. Three novices also made their first vows: Sister Maria Caterina (French), Sister Maria Chiara (French), and Sister Maria Veronica (American). The Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart make a fourth vow, the vow to practice and spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

About thirty sisters and over a dozen priests assisted at the ceremony, including Fr; Alain-Marc Nély, Second General Assistant of the Society of St. Pius X, and Fr. Robert Brucciani, District Superior of England.

Before his death in 1996, the founder of the Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Fr. Basilio, asked the Society to provide spiritual care for the sisters. In his sermon during the ceremony on June 23, Fr. Emmanuel du Chalard reminded the religious of the importance of fidelity:

The communities that remain faithful to the doctrinal, liturgical and religious Tradition of the Church, to the letter and the spirit of their Rule, are blessed by the Lord. Innovations made under the pretext of adapting to the modern world or the frailty of vocations today lead to comfort and relaxation, and are the beginning of the decadence of the religious life.
     
The founders had the grace of state to write the Rules or Constitutions, and their successors have the duty to keep them and observe them. And a true reform, when made, is always a return to a closer observance of the Rule, like St. Teresa of Avila’s reform.

"It is an invitation to remain faithful to your religious life, to your Rule, and this fidelity will guarantee the future of your congregation.

“With a fourth vow, you promise to practice and spread the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and only that can draw down blessings upon your Institution and the persons and families that discover it thanks to your apostolate.

“What is more, you pray and make many sacrifice for the sanctification of priests. Many of them are here today to show their gratitude. We beg you to continue and to redouble – at least in intensity – your spiritual assistance that is so necessary to us. As the Founder of our Society used to say: What the Church needs most is not just priests, but holy priests. And in that, you, dear Sisters, you can help us very much.”

The Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus currently exercise their apostolate in three different houses:
  • Vigne di Narni, the motherhouse that includes the novitiate and where the religious care for some elderly people.
  • The priory of Montalenghe, near Turin.
  • In India, the orphanage of Palayamkottai, that has 70 children and a dozen elderly or sick people. Five professed sisters, two novices, and some volunteers devote themselves with priceless generosity. The house is a miracle of Divine Providence; it runs only on donations and receives no help from the State.
For more information:

Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart
Via Flaminia Vecchia, 20
 05030 Vigne di Narni (TR) Italy
Email: consolatrici@gmail.com

Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart
Society of Servi Domini
Opp. Government. High School
Burkitmanagar
Trirunelveli TN 627 351 - India
Email: servidomini2000@gmail.com

To help the orphanage of Palayamkottai:

Checks can be sent to Menzingen (made out to: Orphanage India):
Priesterbruderschaft St. Pius X 
Schwandegg 
CH-6313 Menzingen

Or electronic transfers can be made to the following account: 
PC 91-848090-3   €-Konto (only for transfers in euros)
IBAN: CH82 0900 0000 9184 8090 3
Beneficiary: Priesterbruderschaft St. Pius X   Schwandegg   CH-6313 Menzingen
BIC (Swift Code): POFICHBEXXX
Bank: Swiss Post   PostFinance   CH-3030 Bern
Motive of transfer: Orphanage India
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Consecration of A New Church for the SSPX Novitiate of Brothers in Philippines
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On May 13, 2017, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, consecrated the magnificent St. Bernard Novitiate Church in Iloilo, Panay Island, in the center of the Philippine Archipelago.
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Monday, July 3, 2017
Office of Vespers for the Patronal Feast of the Abbey of Our Lady of Consolation at Stanbrook (Worcestershire)
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::First Vespers::

ANTIPHONS


1 Who is she who cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array.

PSALM 109 - DIXIT DOMINUS http://www.drbo.org/chapter/21109.htm

2 Shew me thy face, let thy voice sound in my ears: for thy voice is sweet and thy face comely.

PSALM 112 - LAUDATE, PUERI http://www.drbo.org/chapter/21112.htm

3 To thee we cried, O holy Mother of God, and through thee came the help of God to us.

PSALM 121 - LAETATUS SUM http://www.drbo.org/chapter/21121.htm

4 Put forth flowers like the lily, and give a sweet smell; bud forth in comeliness, and sing together a canticle, and proclaim Mary blessed in her works.

PSALM 126 - NISI DOMINUS http://www.drbo.org/chapter/21126.htm

-----
LITTLE CHAPTER - Ecclus. xxiv
COME over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits: for my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb.

Short Responsory
THY consolations * O Virgin Mother of God. Thy consolations. V. Have given joy to my soul. O Virgin. Glory. Thy consolations.

HYMNUS: Ave maris stella
Hail, O Star of the ocean, God's own Mother blest,
ever sinless Virgin, gate of heav'nly rest.

Taking that sweet Ave, which from Gabriel came,
peace confirm within us, changing Eve's name.

Break the sinners' fetters, make our blindness day,
Chase all evils from us, for all blessings pray.

Show thyself a Mother, may the Word divine
born for us thine Infant hear our prayers through thine.

Virgin all excelling, mildest of the mild,
free from guilt preserve us meek and undefiled.

Keep our life all spotless, make our way secure
till we find in Jesus, joy for evermore.

Praise to God the Father, honor to the Son,
in the Holy Spirit, be the glory one.
Amen.

V. O let thy mercy be for my comfort. R. According to thy word unto thy servant.

My soul † * doth magnify the Lord.
2 And my spirit hath rejoiced * in God my Saviour.
3 For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden : * for behold, from henceforth * all generations shall call me blessed.
4 For he that is mighty hath magnified me; * (Here all make a profound reverence) and holy is his Name.
5 And his mercy is on them that fear him * throughout all generations.
6 He hath shewed strength with his arm; * he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
7 He hath put down the mighty from their seat, * and hath exalted the humble and meek.
8 He hath filled the hungry with good things; * and the rich he hath sent empty away.
9 He remembering his mercy * hath holpen his servant Israel.
10 As he promised to our forefathers, * Abraham and his seed for ever.
11 Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
12 As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, * world without end. Amen.

Ant. I called to mind Mary's humility and thy judgments, O Lord, in her greatness, and I was comforted.

COLLECT:

O GOD, the Father of mercies and author of all consolation, who art pleased that all who call upon thee in whatever tribulation, shall receive wonderful comfort through the Mother of thine only-begotten Son; grant in thy mercy that we who rightly glory in her powerful patronage may never cease to follow in her footsteps. Through the same.

In 1652, Pope Innocent X founded the confraternity of Our Lady of Consolation. In 1652, Pope Innocent X founded the confraternity of Our Lady of Consolation.

::At II Vespers::
All as at First Vespers, except the following:

V. Thy rod and thy staff.
R. They have comforted me.

At the Magnificat
Ant. O immaculate Mother of God, who didst often console Jesus, weeping, console us at our last hour.

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St. Leo II
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SemiDouble (1954 Calendar): July 3

Besides being the Commemoration of All Holy Popes, today is the feastday of St. Leo II, Pope and Confessor.

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

Pope Leo II, a Sicilian, was learned in sacred and profane subjects, as also in the Greek and Latin tongues, and was moreover an excellent musician. He rearranged and improved the music of the sacred hymns and psalms used in the Church. He approved the Acts of the Sixth General Council, which was held at Constantinople, the Legates of the Apostolic See presiding, in the presence of the Emperor Constantine, the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Antioch, and 170 Bishops; Leo also translated these said Acts into Latin.

It was in this Council that Cyrus, Sergius, and Pyrrhus were condemned for teaching that there is in Christ only one will and one operation... He was a true father to the poor. Not by money only, but by deeds, his labors, and his advice, he relieved the poverty and loneliness of widows and orphans. He was leading all to live holy and godly lives, not by mere preaching, but by his own life, when he fell asleep in the Lord in the year 683, having reigned as Pope for eleven months, and was buried in the Church of St. Peter on the fifth of the Nones of July (July 3).

In the month of June he held one ordination, whereat he ordained 9 priests, 3 deacons, and 23 bishops for divers places.

Prayer:

O glorious Pontiff, by thy teaching we realize more fully the strength of the Rock whereon the Church stands; we know that the gates of Hell shall never prevail against Her. For surely the efforts of the spirits of darkness never (until our own evil times) went to such lengths as they did in that sad crisis to which thou didst put an end; nor was their success, however great in appearance, contrary to the divine promise; for it is to the teaching of Peter and his successors, not to their silence, that the unfailing assistance of the Holy Ghost is guaranteed. O loving Pontiff, obtain for us uprightness of faith and heavenly enthusiasm wherewith it behooves us to hail Peter and Christ acting together in the unity divinely established between them. The liturgy is deeply indebted to thee; grant us to relish more and more the hidden manna it contains, and may our hearts and voices fittingly render these sacred melodies!
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