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Thursday, May 16, 2019
The Errors of the Old Roman Catholics
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The Most Reverend Carmel Henry Carfora looks like a traditional Catholic but he left the Roman Catholic Church to join the schismatic Old Catholics in 1908.

To those Catholics who wish to hold fast to the venerable traditions of our Fathers, we will often go to great lengths to find a Tridentine Mass.  And while we may have a regular parish for this purpose in our home area, this can be difficult during periods of travel.  Sometimes, as I search online for a Latin Mass, I stumble upon an alleged parish or mission that claims to be offering the Tridentine Mass but with the notation that it is an “Old Roman Catholic” Church.  Don’t let the “Old” part of the name deceive you. This does not refer to keeping the same Faith as was kept before Vatican II while remaining united to the only true Church: The Catholic Church. The “Old” Catholic Church is a schismatic organization with a long and convoluted history.

Jansenist Roots

The term "Old Catholic" is an ambiguous term. Some sects that operate as “Old Catholics” began when the schismatic See of Utrecht was formed in 1724 by members of the Archdiocese of Utrecht who split and formed their own alleged archdiocesan see under Cornelis Steenhoven. The split was largely driven by the Old Catholics’ support of the Janenist heresy which the Jesuits were fiercely fighting again. In short, Jansenism denied the necessity of free will in receiving grace by claiming that grace is so efficacious that we need to make no act of assent on our behalf. As a result, Jansenists concluded that this grace was intended only for a predestined elect known to God. The heresy also led to a disregard of the authority of the pope.

In 1653 Pope Innocent X in the papal bull Cum Occasione condemned five key propositions of the Jansenists as heretical.  And Clement XI’s 1713 bull Unigenitus Dei Filius condemned 101 propositions from Pasquier Quesnel, an Oratorian priest who organized the Jansenists into a unified movement. However, the Jansenists and some bishops refused to submit to the Pope’s authority on the matter and held that ecumenical councils and the local church have greater authority than the pope, which is the heresy of Gallicanism.  This led to the formation of the Old Catholic schismatic group based in Utrecht.

Infallibly Denied

However, not all Old Catholics have roots in the 1724 formation of the schismatic See of Utrecht. The term may also refer to Catholics who refused to accept the First Vatican Council’s dogma on papal infallibly in 1870. This group led by Johannes Döllinger, Franz Reusch, and Johannes Friedrich joined with Utrecht to form the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches.  Döllinger established an Old Catholic group in Bonn, Germany and took apostolic succession through the schismatic See of Utrecht.

However, the term can also refer to a variety of Polish, Slavic, Croat, and Yugoslavian communities that broke with Rome over what they alleged was discrimination by American bishops.

In 1925, the Old Catholics formally recognized Anglican ordinations, in direct contradiction to Pope Leo XIII who had infallibly declared that Anglican Holy Orders were “absolutely null and entirely void”, and in 1932, some of the Old Catholics entered into communion with the Church of England. Others today are in Communion with the Orthodox Church.

Stay Clear of the Old Roman Catholic Sect

Despite images of what seem to be reverent Tridentine Masses, priests in cassocks, and other external elements that we recognize as Catholic, the Old Catholic Church is not a part of the Catholic Church. They are a schismatic organization that today is highly fragmented. Some groups within the Old Catholic Church ordain women or homosexuals. For instance, an Old Roman Catholic mission in Chicago praises the Council of Trent while also claiming to offer the Tridentine Mass in the vernacular. Other groups within the Old Catholic network accept only the first seven ecumenical councils, oppose the veneration of saints and relics, discourage pilgrimages and sacramentals, and allow clerics to marry. The Polish National Catholic Church, which also is not truly Catholic, was a member of the Union of Utrecht until 2003 when they broke away over the Union's support for the ordination of women and homosexuals. And there are many more fragments in the overall hierarchy of these groups.

While some Old Roman Catholics priests may offer valid Sacraments, they are all illicit.  And since women may not receive Holy Orders, any Old Roman Catholic “priest” alleged ordained by a woman does not possess any orders whatsoever.

In short, being a Catholic requires union with the Vicar of Christ and belief in all that the Church teaches. Old Catholics may possess some of the externals we associate with Catholicism, but their beliefs are ultimately opposed to the dogmatic teachings of the Church that Christ founded. Like Protestant services and Orthodox liturgies, the Sacraments of the Old Catholics should be avoided at all cost.
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Sunday, May 12, 2019
Sts. Nereus, Achilleus, Domitilla And Pancras
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Semi Double (1955 Calendar): May 12

Like many of the lesser known saints which were forgotten by the Church after the destruction of the Liturgical Calendar in 1969, today's saints, Nereus, Achilleus, Domitilla and Pancras, are no exception. If you polled 100 average Catholics today, would any of them even know anything about these saints?

The Roman Breviary includes the following account of their holy lives:
The brothers Nereus and Achilleus were eunuchs of Flavia Domitilla and were baptized by St. Peter at the same time as she herself and her mother Plautilla. Because they persuaded Domitilla to consecrate her virginity to God, they were accused of being Christians by Aurelian, who had been betrothed to her, and were sent to the island of Ponza.  
Soon afterwards, they were scourged in an effort to make them sacrifice to idols, and were taken to Terracina, where, after they had overcome the torture of the rack and flaming torches, they were beheaded. Their bodies were taken to Rome by their disciple Auspicius and buried on the Ardeatine Way. As for Flavia Domitilla, who had received the sacred veil of a virgin from Pope St. Clement, she also was deported to the island of Ponza, and after a long imprisonment was taken to Terracina.  
There, by the judge’s orders, her dwelling was set on fire, and she won a glorious death, along with the virgins Theodora and Euphrosyna, her foster-sisters, on May 7, under Emperor Trajan. Their bodies were buried by the Deacon Caesarius. Pancras, born of a noble Phrygian family, was baptized in Rome at the age of fourteen. Under the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, he was arrested; and when he firmly refused to sacrifice to the gods, he was beheaded and so won the glorious crown of martyrdom. His body was buried secretly on the Via Aurelia by the matron Octavilla.
Collect:

O Lord, may the blessed feast of Your martyrs Nereus, Achilleus, Domitilla, and Pancras fire us with zeal to serve You more worthily. Through Our Lord . . .

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
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Thursday, May 9, 2019
Prepare for the Inevitable: The Four Last Things and the Fatima Message
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Catholics need to make occasion to reflect on Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell, especially since it is so rare that pastors preach on these subjects nowadays. This talk from Matthew is based on his book Eschatology: The Catholic Study of the Four Last Things. That book and this talk heavily quote from The Four Last Things – Death, Judgment, Hell and Heaven by Father Martin Von Cochem O.S.F.C., which was originally published by the Benzinger Brothers in 1899 and is in the public domain. Matthew is the President of CatechismClass.com

Prepare for the Inevitable:  The Four Last Things and the Fatima Message

Reverend Fathers, esteemed guests, and friends, I’m grateful for the opportunity to address you today and present this talk on The Four Last Things and the Fatima Message.  Indeed, as we prepare to begin the great and holy fast of 40 days and to celebrate the mystery of our Lord’s Resurrection, there is hardly a better time to reflect on death, judgment, Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. Some of these topics will be difficult to hear but it’s what I believe we as Catholics need to hear more of today.

In my talk with you today I’m hoping to do three things. First, I’d like to examine and remind all of you on the key dogmas of the Faith as its concerns the Four Last Things and to present them as a useful meditation for us. Secondly, I’m hoping to in a special way highlight the importance of the four last things to the Fatima Message. And thirdly, I’m hoping to inspire all of you to have before your eyes each and every day – especially during Lent – the certainty of your own death and what we can do to save our own souls and those of others.

I will die. You will die. I will face judgement. You will face judgment. Let us stop putting off our preparation for what we know with complete certainty will one day happen to each us. Be ready for the Lord may very well be near to call you to judgment within the next few years, or maybe months, or maybe even days.

Eschatology

What is Eschatology? Eschatology is the study of the end of life, the end of times, and the Final Coming of Christ. In Eschatology, Christian Theology focuses primarily on the “Four Last Things.” They are Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. In addition to these four, we will also explore Purgatory, the place of temporary purification after death for souls that die in the state of grace who are destined for Heaven but are not yet perfect and able to enter Heaven.

We begin with death. Memento mori: remember you must die.

Death

When I say the word death what comes to mind? We surely all have concepts or images that come to our mind. But what is death? Death is the separation of the soul and the body.  Death is the result of Adam and Eve’s sin.  But it is not the end of life.  Death is the transformation (the door) to life everlasting.  Death is real – all mankind must undergo death. We are to be reminded of this very soon on Ash Wednesday when we receive ashes on our foreheads and the reminder: Remember man, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.  Yet so many of us suffer from pride and envy when in fact we will be reduced to ashes in so short a time.

Even our Lord Jesus Christ – who did not have to undergo death because He was sinless (since He is God) – chose to undergo death to bring about the salvation of mankind.  When we profess in the Creed that Christ died, what we are saying is that His Body and His soul separated. That is what death is. And it is widely believed that at the end of Mary’s sinless life, before her Assumption of soul and body into Heaven, that she too experienced death: the separation of her Body and her Soul.

Regarding death, there are 2 points worth considering. First, the terrors of death. And secondly, the assaults of satan at the hour of death.

First, regarding the terrors of death:

Why do we fear death? Why do even Christians who have so much to hope for in the resurrection and life everlasting fear the separation of our souls and our bodies? However old a man may be, however broken in health, however miserable his circumstances, the thought of death is an unwelcome one. And there are three principal reasons why all sensible people fear death so much:

First, the dread of death is inherent in human nature. Secondly, because every rational being is well aware that death is bitter, and the separation of soul and body cannot take place without suffering. And thirdly, because no one knows whither he will go after death, or how he will stand in the Day of Judgment.

Everyone shrinks instinctively from death, because it is bitter, and painful beyond description to our human nature. The soul of man is subject to many anxieties, apprehensions and sorrows, and the body is subject to pain and sickness of all kinds, yet none of these pains can be compared to the agony of death. A man who loses his good name and his property feels acute grief, but he does not die of it. All suffering and sickness, all grief and anguish, however terrible, is less bitter than death. Hence we see death to be a mighty monarch, the most cruel, the most relentless, the most formidable enemy of mankind. Look at a man wrestling with death, and you will see how the tyrant overpowers, disfigures, prostrates his victim. But why is death so hard, so terrible a thing?

It is because the soul has to separate itself from the body. Body and soul were created for each other, and so intimate is their union that a parting between them seems almost impossible. They would endure almost anything rather than be torn apart. 

The soul is fearful of the future, and of the unknown land to which she is going. The body is conscious that as soon as the soul departs from it, it will become the prey of worms. Consequently, the soul cannot bear to leave the body, nor the body to part from the soul. Body and soul desire their union to remain unbroken, and together to enjoy the sweets of life. And this is the primary reason why for all men that death is so abhorrent. Even our Lord in His human nature feared death and that is one of the primary reasons He suffered so much the agony in the Garden.

In one of his epistles to St. Augustine, St. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, relates what was told him by a man who had been raised from the dead. Amongst other things, he said: "The moment when my soul left my body, was one of such awful pain and distress that no one can imagine the anguish I then endured. If all conceivable suffering and pain were put together they would be as nothing in comparison with the torture I underwent at the separation of soul and body."

And to emphasize his words, he added, addressing St. Cyril: "Thou knowest that thou hast a soul, but thou knowest not what it is. Thou knowest that beings exist called Angels, but thou art ignorant of their nature. Thou knowest also that there is a God, but thou canst not comprehend His being. So it is with everything that has not corporeal shape; our understanding cannot grasp these things. In like manner it is impossible for thee to understand how I could suffer such intense agony in one short moment."

And if some people apparently pass away most peacefully, this is because nature, exhausted by suffering, has no longer the force to struggle with death.

We know from the testimony of Our Redeemer Himself that no agony is like the agony of death. Although throughout the whole course of His sorrowful Passion, He was tortured in a terrible manner, yet all the martyrdom He endured was not to be compared with what He suffered at the moment of His death. This we gather from the Gospels.

Nowhere do we find that at any period of His life the greatness of the pains He bore extorted from Our Lord a cry of anguish. But when the moment came for Him to expire, and the ruthless hand of death rent His Heart asunder, we read that He cried out with a loud voice and gave up the ghost. Hence it is evident that at no period of the Passion did Christ suffer so acutely as at the most painful separation of His sacred soul from His blessed body.

In order that mankind might at least in some measure understand how terrible was the death Christ died for us, He ordained that we, at our end, should taste something of the bitterness of His death, and experience the truth of the following words of Pope St. Gregory: "Christ’s conflict with death represented our last conflict, teaching us that the agony of death is the keenest agony that man has ever felt or will ever feel. It is the will of God that man should suffer so intensely at the close of his life, in order that we may recognize and appreciate the magnitude of Christ's love for us, the inestimable benefit He has conferred on us by enduring death for our sakes. For it would have been impossible for man fully to know the infinite love of God, unless he too had drunk to some extent of the bitter chalice which Christ drank."

In this passage from the writings of the holy Pope Gregory we are taught that Christ ordained that all men in the hour of their dissolution should suffer the like pains which Christ suffered for us in His last agony, in order that they may gain some knowledge, by their own experience, of the terrible nature of the death He endured for us, and the great price He paid for our ransom. How painful, how terrible, how awful death will be for us, if our death is in any degree to resemble Christ's most agonizing death!

How severe a conflict is before us! What torments await us at our last hour! One is almost inclined to think it would have been preferable never to have been born, than to be born to suffer such anguish. But it is thus that Heaven is to be won, and through this narrow gate alone can we enter into Paradise.

We as Christians accept our destiny cheerfully and form a steadfast resolution to bear unmurmuringly the bitterness of death.

Seconding, let me comment on the assaults of satan at the hour of death:

Although death is in itself most bitter, its bitterness is greatly enhanced by 1. the vivid remembrance of the sins of our life, 2. by the thought of the judgment to come, 3. of the eternity before us, and 4. by the assaults of Satan. At that moment we will wish that we had more fruitful Lents, more penance in our lives, and more charity for God and our fellow men.

I'd like to review, with some explanation, each of these four things and also indicate some means of combating the fears they inspire.

With regard to the assaults of Satan, know that the all-just God permits him to have great power to assail us at the hour of death ; not indeed for our perdition, but for our probation. This is one reason we consistently beg of our Blessed Lady to intercede for us “at the hour of death.”

Before expiring the Christian has yet to prove that nothing can avail to make him forsake his God. For this reason, the evil enemy employs all the power he has received and brings all his forces to bear upon a man when he is dying, in the hope of causing him to sin, and thrusting him down to Hell. During our whole lifetime he attacks us fiercely and neglects no means where he may deceive us. But all these persecutions do not bear comparison with the final onslaught with which he endeavours to overcome us at the last. Then he raves and rages, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

This we learn from the passage in the Book of the Apocalypse (12:12): "Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time." These words bear a special application for the dying, against whom the devil conceives a great wrath, and whom he makes every effort to seduce. For he knows full well that if he does not get them into his power now, he will never again have the chance of doing so. Hear what St. Gregory says on this point:

" Consider well how terrible is the hour of death, and how appalling the remembrance of our evil deeds will be at that time. For the spirits of darkness will recall all the harm they have done us and remind us of the sins which we have committed at their instigation. They will not go to the death bed of the godless only, but they will be present with the elect, striving to discover something sinful whereof to accuse them. Alas! how will it fare with us hapless mortals in that hour, and what can we say for ourselves, seeing how innumerable are the sins to be laid to our charge? What can we answer to our adversaries, when they place all our sins before us, with the object of reducing us to despair?"

The evil spirits will tempt their unhappy victim at the moment of death on various points, but especially in regard to the sins into which he has most frequently fallen. If during his lifetime he has cherished hatred towards any one, they will conjure up before his dying eyes the image of that person, rehearsing all he did to injure him in order to revive the flame of hate towards that enemy or kindle it anew. Or if anyone has transgressed against purity, they will show him the accomplice of his sin, and strive to awaken the guilty passion felt for that individual. If he has been troubled with doubts concerning faith, they recall to his mind the article of belief which he had difficulty in accepting, representing it to him as untrue. The man who has sinned through pride, and boasted of his good works, they seek to ensnare by flattery, assuring him that he stands high in the favour of God, and all he has done cannot fail to secure him a place in Heaven. And, if in his lifetime a man has given way to impatience, allowing himself to be angry and irritated by every trifle, they make his illness appear most irksome to him that he may become impatient, and rebel against God for having sent upon him so painful a malady. Or if he has been tepid and lacking in devotion, they try to maintain in his soul this state of apathy, suggesting to him that his physical weakness is too great even to allow him to join in the prayers his friends read to him. Finally, they tempt those who have led a godless life, and repeatedly fallen into mortal sin, to despair, representing their transgressions to be so great as to be passed any hope of forgiveness.

But the devils do not always confine themselves to tempting a man in regard to his chief failings and predominant faults; they frequently tempt him to sins of which he has not been guilty. For these diabolical agents from hell spare no pains to deceive the dying, and if they fail in one way, they attempt to succeed in another.

These temptations are of no ordinary character. They are sometimes so violent that it is impossible for weak men to resist them without supernatural assistance. If it is all that any one in good health can do to withstand the assaults of the devil, and even such a one is often overcome by them, how difficult must it be for one who is encumbered by sickness to struggle against foes so formidable!

And it is for this reason I ask you now and throughout the whole of the upcoming season of Lent to pray each day for the souls of the sick and dying to have the grace to resist such awful temptations. Pray for those who in their last agony to be reconciled with the Church lest they pass through death as an enemy of God. With your families, I suggest visiting a hospital once this Lent, visiting people there if you can, and above all praying for those who are sick and suffering there. Pray for their health, yes. But most of all, pray for them to resist the attacks of the devils and to save their souls.

In order to prepare ourselves before our last illness to combat these temptations, there is an old prayer that I recommend. It goes as follows:

O Jesus, compassionate Redeemer of mankind, I recall to mind the threefold temptation Thou didst undergo from the evil enemy, and I pray Thee through the glorious victory Thou didst obtain over him, to stand by me in my last conflict and fortify me against all his temptations. I know that in my own strength I cannot contend against so powerful a foe, and I must assuredly be vanquished unless Thou, or Thy blessed Saints, grant me timely assistance. Therefore, I now earnestly implore Thy help and that of Thy Saints, and propose to arm myself to the best of my ability by Thy grace, to meet the temptations that await me. I promise now, before Thee and the holy Angels and blessed Saints, that I will never voluntarily expose myself to any temptation, of whatever nature it may be, but with the help of Thy grace I will combat it vigorously. Amen.

And thus, after death comes Judgment.

Judgment

The second of the Four Last Things.

Above and beyond all that we have already considered as contributing to make death terrible to us, is the thought that we must stand before the judgment seat of God and give an account of all we have done and left undone. How awful this judgment is, we learn from these words of St. Paul: "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31).

For if it is very alarming even to fall into the hands of an angry man, how much more terrible will it be to fall into the hands of an omnipotent God!

All the Saints trembled in anticipation of the sentence that would be passed on them by God, for they well knew how exceedingly severe His judgments are. The Psalmist says: "Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, O Lord, for in Thy sight no man living shall be justified" (Ps. cxlii. 2).

And holy Job exclaimed: "What shall I do if God arise to judge me? What am I that I should answer Him? I cannot answer Him one for a thousand."

We read also in the lives of the Fathers that the holy Abbot Agathon was overwhelmed with fear as his end drew near. His brethren said to him: "Why shouldst thou be afraid, reverend Father, thou hast led so pious a life?" But he answered them: "The judgments of God are very different from the judgments of man." The holy Abbot Elias used likewise to say: "There are three things that I fear. First I dread the moment when my soul has to leave my body; secondly, the moment when I must stand before the tribunal of God; thirdly, the moment when sentence is passed upon me." For indeed, beside the general judgment, there is nothing so much to be feared as these three things. All good and holy men have feared them, all do fear them. Those who do not fear them, prove that they know very little about them, or have meditated scarcely at all upon them.

Consider, first of all, what a strange new sensation it will be for your soul, when she finds herself separated from the body, in an unknown world. 
Now for the first time her eyes are opened, and she sees clearly what eternity is, what sin is, what virtue is, how infinite is the being of the Almighty God, and how wondrous is her own nature.

All this will appear so marvelous to her that she will be almost petrified with astonishment. After the first instant of wonder, she will be conducted before the tribunal of God, that she may give an account of all her actions; and the terror that will then seize upon the unhappy soul surpasses our powers of conception.

If it is so fearful for a criminal to be brought before an earthly judge, how can we understand the terror of a soul when she is introduced into the presence of God, the strict and all-knowing Judge, and required to give the most accurate account of all the thoughts, words, deeds and omissions of her past life. Holy Job acknowledges this when he says: "Who will grant me this, that Thou mayst protect me in Hell, and hide me till Thy wrath pass" (Job xiv. 13). Observe that even the patient Job would rather lie in a darksome pit, and be concealed in a gloomy, sombre cave, than appear before the countenance of an angry God.

There are six things which strike terror into the soul, when she is summoned to the particular judgment.

(1) The soul fears because she knows her Judge to be omniscient; that nothing can be concealed from Him, nor can He be in any way deceived.

(2) Because her Judge is omnipotent; nothing can withstand Him, and no one can escape from Him.

(3) Because her Judge is not merely the most just, but the strictest of judges, to whom sin is so hateful that He will not allow the slightest transgression to pass unpunished.

(4) Because the soul knows that God is not her judge alone, but also her accuser; she has provoked Him to anger, she has offended against Him, and He will defend His honour and avenge every insult offered to it.

(5) Because the soul is aware that the sentence once uttered is irrevocable; there is no appeal for her to a higher court, it is useless for her to complain of the sentence. It cannot be reversed, and whether adverse or favourable she must accept it.

And (6) The most powerful reason of all why the soul fears to appear before the judgment seat is because she knows not what the sentence of the Judge will be. She has far more cause to fear than to hope. And all thought of help is now over.

Consider, furthermore, in what form you wilt appear before the Judge. If a man in punishment of his evil deeds were sentenced to be stripped to the skin in presence of a whole multitude, how greatly ashamed he would feel! Thus, it be with you (and me) before the Judge in the presence of many hosts of Angels.

There are two Judgments; the first of which is the personal judgment that each of us will have at the moment of our death.  This judgment will determine our eternal destiny in either Heaven or Hell.  This is the one that I have mentioned thus far.

There is a second judgment known as the Last (or Final) Judgment at the end of the world.  This Judgment will not decide our own destiny; the sentence we have received from God will not be reversed at this Judgment.  Rather, at this time, the souls of all peoples (in Heaven or Hell) will be reunited with their bodies.  And the sins of all people will be made known to everyone else in the world. While some theologians debate if the sins of the elect in Heaven will also be revealed at the Last Judgment, most seem to believe that the sins of all – those in Heaven and those in Hell – will be revealed.

Why are there two judgments? The Baltimore Catechism explains: “There is need of a general judgment, though everyone is judged immediately after death, that the providence of God, which, on earth, often permits the good to suffer and the wicked to prosper, may in the end appear just before all men.” The Catechism continues, “There are other reasons for the general judgment, and especially that Christ Our Lord may receive from the whole world the honor denied Him at His first coming, and that all may be forced to acknowledge Him as their God and Redeemer.”

The Catholic Church teaches that at the time of the last judgment Christ will come in His glory, and all the angels with Him, and in His presence the truth of each man's relationship with God will be laid bare, and each person who has ever lived will be judged with perfect justice. Those already in heaven will remain in heaven; those already in hell will remain in hell; and those in purgatory will be released into heaven.  After the last judgment the universe itself will be renewed with a new heaven and a new earth.

Catholics have always believed that Jesus Christ would come back to close the current period of human history on earth. This event is not to be confused with the Particular Judgment.  The time when Christ will return is given many names: The Day of the Lord, The End Time, and the Second Coming of Christ. The Bible describes the events of Jesus' return in apocalyptic images.

The Final Coming will be unmistakable because it will be accompanied by unprecedented signs: "For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:27).  Some signs are general events concerning the evangelization of the world: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14). Other signs are more proximate. Mark (Chapter 13), Matthew (Chapter 24), and Luke (Chapter 21) all describe the unmistakable signs with apocalyptic images.

The Church also teaches that we should avoid pointless speculations about the time, the date, the details of the signs, the nature of the difficulties, etc. The Church focuses instead on the need for living the Gospel so as to be prepared for the End of Times – and our own particular judgment – whenever it happens.

Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, "Be holy because I (am) holy" (1st Peter 1:13-16).

There exists among many Evangelical Protestants a popular but false belief based on some passages in the Scripture called millennialism which means a "thousand-year reign." The rapture is another false protestant belief which is in direct contradiction to the fact that the End of Times will be unmistakable.

Some centuries before there was some disagreement whether the just go to the reward of Heaven immediately after death or if they must wait for the Final Judgment. This was settled by Pope Benedict 12th. In 1336 Pope Benedict 12th issued the Papal Bull, Benedictus Deus, on the Beatific Vision of God.  This Papal Bull dogmatically defined the Church's belief that the souls of the departed go to their eternal reward immediately after death, as opposed to remaining in a state of unconscious existence until the Last Judgment.  As such, we are required as Catholics to absolutely believe this. The following is taken from that bull:
“Moreover we define that according to the general disposition of God, the souls of those who die in actual mortal sin go down into hell immediately after death and there suffer the pain of hell. Nevertheless, on the day of judgment all men will appear with their bodies "before the judgment seat of Christ" to give an account of their personal deeds, "so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body"
We spend so much thing worrying about the things of this world. What will we have for dinner? What should I do tomorrow? Where should I go to school? Should I retire? What should I do for work? Where should we go on vacation? Etc.  Etc?

But how many of us ask: what will happen to me at judgment? Will I be condemned for all eternity? Will I suffer for hundreds of years in Purgatory? Will my family have Masses offered for me? Will I die in the state of mortal sin and go to Hell and no number of Mass can save me? Did I in my life frequent the Sacraments and pray enough?

We should always have before us our Judgment and ask ourselves daily, “If I were to die today, would I be sentenced to eternal death and fire?” 

Hell

Hell is a real and actual place where souls that die in the state of mortal sin go.  All too often in our modern era, people claim that either Hell does not exist or that it is not a place where souls go for all eternity.  The Church is clear though in her teaching that Hell exists… and it exists forever. And souls do indeed go there.

In a homily on Sunday, March 25, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI said, "Jesus came to tell us that He wants us all in heaven and that hell - of which so little is said in our time - exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to His love."

It is also far too common to think that only egregious and public sinners go there.  Yet, many people go to Hell because they have neglected the Faith and its practice. Our Lady at Fatima reminded us also that many go to hell because no one prays for them. As our Lord Himself said, the road to Hell is wide and many follow it.  Amongst those in Hell are surely souls who have committed one mortal sin that they were too ashamed to confess and for that sin, their souls were lost.  Our Lord in the Gospels has said that many souls are lost – and the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in our modern world, especially in Fatima, have affirmed this.

There is much that can be said on Hell and in my online course on Eschatology as well as in the book “Eschatology: The Catholic Study of the Four Last Things” I go into far more detail than I can cover in our short time together here. But I would like to highlight just a few of the harsh realities of Hell.

First, the fires of Hell. We know that there really is fire in Hell, from the words Christ spoke to the wicked: "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his Angels " (Matt. 25: 41). This shows that there is real fire in Hell, and that in it the damned must burn eternally. What the intensity of that pain will be it is beyond the power of man to depict. For of all the varied kinds of physical suffering to which man can be subjected, there is none so great, so cruel, so agonizing, as that which is caused by fire. The rack, the wheel, amputation of a man’s limbs, are all terrible torture, but they are not to be compared to the pain of burning. And far worse than burning here on this earth – the fire of Hell will never cease for all eternity without end. Forever.

The damned will one day be cast, body and soul, into the huge and awful furnace of Hell, into the immense lake of fire, where they will be surrounded by flames. There will be fire below them, fire above them, fire all round about them. Every breath will be the scorching breath of a furnace. Now is the time for us to act and do penance and save our souls and those of our friends and family before it is too late. We still have time.

Secondly, the souls in Hell will suffer hunger and thirst for all eternity. Besides hunger the damned suffer the most burning thirst, which it is beyond the power of words to describe. Everyone knows how terrible are the sufferings caused by thirst. Those who are plagued by thirst will drink from the most impure sources, and if nothing at all can be obtained to quench their thirst, a lingering and painful death is the result. The thirst suffered by lost souls is infinitely greater, more intense, more painful than any thirst experienced on earth, however great that may be.

Picture yourself on the Eastern Coast of the United States with the job of moving the sand from the entire East Coast up to the top of Mount Everest. But you must take each grain of sand one at a time the entire journey to Mt Everest where you will scale the mountain by yourself, deposit the grain of sand there, and return to the East Coast to do it over and over and over again. One grain of sand at a time. That is what an eternity in Hell will feel like.

Thirdly, the foul odors of hell and the rotting stench of suffering – including the perpetual rotting of our own bodies – will never cease.

Fourthly, the sounds of hell will include the most profane blasphemies and insults against our Lord, our Lady, and the saints. And our very companions will be the devils themselves for we will have no friends in hell. We will also feel abandoned and alone. Forever

Yet of all these pains, that which gives the worst anguish is being deprived of the vision of God. It will never be given to the damned to behold the Divine countenance. They will never see God. They will no longer feel His love because they chose their own sins rather than His Law. And, this pain will far outweigh all the other torments which I have mentioned.

Even those of us here who surely love our Lord and follow the Traditional teachings of the Catholic Faith are not immune. We must as the Scriptures say work out our salvation in fear and trembling lest we, after we have preached to others, ourselves should be cast away. St. Paul himself uses these same lines in 1 Corinthians 9:27.

This is a frightening topic, but many souls have been saved by reflecting and meditating on the consequences of Hell. In fact, the Council of Trent said in Canon 7 on Justification: “If any says, that the fear of hell is a sin or makes sinners worse let him be anathema.”

Every day an average of 290,000 people die, are judged and begin an eternity of endless bliss or hopeless misery. One day we will be among that number. But rather than focus on ourselves, how many of us feel a pull on our hearts knowing that souls are dying eternally because there is no one to pray for them!

At Fatima Our Lady revealed that devotion to her Immaculate Heart is a particular means that God wishes to use to save souls from Hell. This is the second of the three Secrets of Fatima.

At Fatima Our Lady showed the three children a terrifying vision of Hell, then told them, "You have seen Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If people do what I tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace."

Thus, the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was revealed expressly to save souls, so how can Our Lady refuse to save souls if we appeal to her Immaculate Heart? If this person's conversion seems very unlikely, let us not think about that, nor try to figure out a clever way to win over his heart, but simply have confidence in the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

We can entrust to her the sinner we are praying for- especially if it is a relative or godchild of ours or someone to whom we have special ties using the following words, and even repeating this act many times throughout the day:

IMMACULATE Heart of Mary, I entrust to thee the salvation of [Name], having great confidence that thou wilt save him [or her]!

Picture someone in your lives that needs that prayer. And let’s pray it now – each of us individually to ourselves: IMMACULATE Heart of Mary, I entrust to thee the salvation of [Name], having great confidence that thou wilt save him [or her]!

All is not without hope. We have hope. Hope in working out our salvation and those for our friends and family. And one of the means that should inspire us is the fact that we don’t have to leave our lives completely perfect. God in His generosity and love has created purgatory.

Purgatory

Since there is so much misunderstanding on purgatory let’s review a definition of what purgatory is. This is taken from A Catholic Dictionary, 1951:

Purgatory is "the place and state in which souls suffer for a while and are purged after death, before they go to Heaven, on account of their sins. Venial sins, which have never in life been remitted by an act of repentance or love or by good deeds, and grave sins, the guilt of which with its eternal punishment has indeed been removed by God after an act of repentance but for which there is still left a debt of temporal punishment due to His justice on account of the imperfection of that repentance, must be purged away after death by the pain of intense longing for God, whose blissful vision is delayed, and also, as is commonly taught, by some pain of sense inflicted probably by material fire."

This is from the Church's Teaching Authority:

Pope St. Gregory I quoting from St. Augustine: "Even as in the same fire gold glistens and straw smokes, so in the same fire the sinner burns and the elect is cleansed." Pope St. Gregory is saying that those in Hell and those in Purgatory suffer from the same fires – but for those in Purgatory, it will not last forever.

Council of Florence (1438-1443): Next, from the Council of Florence: "If they have died repentant for their sins and having love of God, but have not made satisfaction for things they have done or omitted by fruits worthy of penance, then their souls, after death, are cleansed by the punishment of Purgatory; also . . . the suffrages of the faithful still living are efficacious in bringing them relief from such punishment, namely the Sacrifice of the Mass, prayers and almsgiving and other works of piety which, in accordance with the designation of the Church, are customarily offered by the faithful for each other." 

Catechism of Council of Trent, The Creed - Article V, Different Abodes Called Hell "Among them is also the fire of purgatory, in which the souls of just men are cleansed by a temporary punishment, in order to be admitted into their eternal country, into which nothing defiled entereth. The truth of this doctrine, founded, as holy Councils declare,' on Scripture, and confirmed by Apostolic tradition, demands exposition from the pastor, all the more diligent and frequent, because we live in times when men endure not sound doctrine." 

Catechism of Council of Trent, Prayer: "Prayers for the dead, that they may be liberated from the fire of purgatory, are derived from Apostolic teaching" 

Mystics have confirmed the existence of purgatory as well.  One such passage I’ve reflected on several times before is the following from Blessed Anna Katarina Emmerich:

"I was in Purgatory tonight. It was as if I were being led into an abyss, where I saw a large hall. It is touching to see the Poor Souls so quiet and sad. Yet their faces reveal that they have joy in their hearts, because of their recollection of God's loving mercy. On a glorious throne, I saw the Blessed Virgin, more beautiful than I had ever beheld Her. She said, 'I entreat you to instruct people to pray for the suffering Souls in Purgatory, for they certainly will pray much for us out of gratitude. Prayer for these holy souls is very pleasing to God because it enables them to see Him sooner...'" (From the Revelation of Blessed Anna Katarina Emmerich)

Please, my friends, let us not let one single day go by this Lent in which we do not make pious prayers and offer our good works for the intention of the Poor Souls. Not one day. Our Lady asks it of us. In August of 1917 Our Lady at Fatima told the children, "pray much and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell because there is no one to make sacrifices for them." It was in this same spirit that the Angel of Fatima spoke to the children in 1916: "Offer up everything in your power as a sacrifice to the Lord in reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners . . . More than all else, accept and bear with resignation the sufferings that God may send you."

For what greater charity and what more worthy work can we do now and this Lent than by freeing souls from purgatory and making reparation for our own sins so that we may one day experience the eternity of happiness in Heaven.

Heaven

In stark contrast to all that we have mentioned to this point is the eternal happiness of Heaven. Heaven, the fourth of the Four Last Things, is the prize of so few. None of us deserve it. No one on this earth is worthy of all the joy of Heaven, yet Our Divine Redeemer chose to suffer the worst torments of death to show us how much He loved us and to open to us the possibility of an eternity of happiness with Him, His Mother, and the whole court of Heavenly saints and angels.

We must not, as some do, picture to ourselves Heaven as a purely spiritual realm. For Heaven is a definite place, where not only God is, and the Angels now are, but where Christ is also in His sacred humanity, and Our Lady with her human body. There, too, all the blessed will dwell with their glorified bodies after the Last Judgment. We know that after the Last Judgment the Saints will behold Heaven with their bodily eyes, and consequently it must be a visible kingdom. 

For since God has created Heaven for Himself and for His elect, He has made it so beautiful and so glorious that the blessed will never tire of the contemplation of its splendors for all eternity.

Concerning the size of Heaven all we know is that it is immeasurable.

One saint remarked, "If God were to make every grain of sand into a new world, all these innumerable spheres would not fill the immensity of Heaven."

The Church teaches us, in the office for martyrs, that each one of the elect will have his own place in the kingdom of Heaven. “I will give to My Saints an appointed place in the kingdom of My Father." And the Psalmist says: " The Saints shall rejoice in glory ; they shall be joyful in their beds " (Ps. cxlix. 5).

We have also Christ’s words: "In My Father’s house there are many mansions." Hence it may be inferred that each one of the redeemed has his separate abode in Heaven. For as a just and prudent father divides his real and personal property amongst his children, assigning to each one his particular share, so our heavenly Father apportions to each of His elect a part of His celestial treasures, both visible and invisible, giving to each one more or less, according to the amount he deserves to receive. There will be different degrees of glory in Heaven.

Who shall describe the majesty and glory of these heavenly mansions? If the kings and princes of this world build grand and costly palaces for themselves, what must be the splendour and beauty of the celestial city which the King of kings has built for Himself and those who love Him and are His friends? Hear what St. John says concerning this city: "An Angel showed me the holy city Jerusalem, having the glory of God. The light thereof was like to a precious stone, as to the jasper stone, even as crystal. The city itself was of pure gold, like unto glass, and the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones " (Apoc. xxi. u, 18, 19).

For not only the souls of the saved, but their glorified bodies also, will be conducted by the Angels of God into Heaven after the Day of Judgment.  St. Augustine, St. Anselm, and many other Saints do not hesitate to maintain that there are in Heaven real trees, real fruits, and real flowers, indescribably attractive and delightful to the sight, taste, smell, and touch, different from anything we can imagine.

Meditate often, therefore, upon the things of Heaven; raise your eyes and your heart to the bright firmament above and awaken within your heart by this or other means a keen desire to behold the mansions of the eternal Father, and to dwell in them for evermore.

In her revelations to St. Bridget, the Mother of God once said: "The Saints stand around my Son like countless stars, whose glory is not to be compared with any temporal light. Believe me, if the Saints could be seen shining with the glory they now possess, no human eye could endure their light all would turn away, dazzled and blinded."

Think what happiness it will be for you, when your body shines like the sun at midday. Everything that lives and moves rejoices in the light and warmth of the sun: it gladdens all the face of nature. In like manner your body will be a joy and delight to yourself and all around you in Heaven, because of its beauty and its glory.

Indeed, the blessed in Heaven will delight in all their senses. The power of sight will be so perfect that nothing can be hid from their eyes. They will see what is distant as distinctly as what is near, the smallest object as plainly as the largest, the dark will be to them as clear as the light. Their vision will be so undimmed that they will be able to gaze without flinching at the sun, even were its light a hundred times more dazzling. Their sight will be so keen that no obstacle will offer a hindrance to it. And much can be said on the other senses and the great delights which we just don’t have time to reflect on here in this talk.

We spend so much time on earthly pursuits. Do we really want Heaven? Are you willing to do what is necessary to save your soul and those of others?

What if we just miss the mark?

If we lose Heaven, we will lose everything.

What does Christ say about the number of the elect? His words are grim: "Bind his hands and his feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness. For many are called, but few chosen." And there are many other similar ones, of which I will quote one or two.

In the Gospel of St. Matthew, we read that Our Lord said: "Enter ye in at the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth unto destruction, and many there are that go in there at. How narrow is the gate and strait is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there are that find it" (Matt. vii. 13).

In order that we may better appreciate the meaning of Our Lord’s words, and perceive more clearly how few are the elect, observe that Christ did not say that those were few in number who walked in the path to Heaven, but that there were but few who found that narrow way. "How strait is the gate that leadeth unto life, and few there are that find it."

It is as if the Saviour intended to say: The path leading to Heaven is so narrow and so rough, it is so overgrown, so dark and difficult to discern, that there are many who, their whole life long, never find it. And those who do find it are exposed constantly to the danger of deviating from it, of mistaking their way and unwittingly wandering away from it, because it is so irregular and over grown.

Now because Christ knew that these words of His would be misinterpreted and understood in a false sense by both believers and unbelievers, on another occasion He accentuated and emphasized what He had already said concerning the small number of the elect. For when one of the disciples asked Him: "Lord, are they few that shall be saved?" He answered and said: "Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24). Listen to the words of the Divine Teacher. He bids us strive, take trouble, make use of all our powers in order to enter unto the narrow gate.

So much can be said about Heaven and the fewness of those saved. I strongly encourage you to pick up my book on this topic “Eschatology and the Catholic Study of the Four Last Things” where I continue on this study.

Conclusion

To conclude, I address to you the words the mother of the Machabees addressed to her youngest son, a mere boy, when he was about to be tortured to death, as his six brothers had been before him: "My son, I beg thee to look up to Heaven."

So I say to you, look up to Heaven every day, especially in time of trial and temptation. Heaven is well worth every suffering and every sacrifice and every combat required of us, and even a thousand times more! Life is short; its trials, its sufferings, its labours, its combats, its crosses also are short and transitory; but Heaven and its joys are inconceivable, satiating every desire of the heart and never-ending!"

Just a few weeks ago on Septuagesima we heard the words of St. Paul: “Brethren: Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize. So run that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery refraineth himself from all things. And they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown: but we an incorruptible one.”

This Lent put life in perspective. Do you fast not as a means to the end but for the purpose of saving your own soul and those of others? In your prayers, are you honoring the message of Fatima and making prayers and sacrifices for sinners? Our Lady said that little Francisco would enter Heaven but that he had to pray many rosaries. How many more Rosaries do we need to do for our sins if a small child had to do many?

Pray for the Poor Souls each and everyday this Lent. And let us never let one day pass when we do not beg our Lady to pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Prepare for the inevitable for we are living on borrowed time.

God bless you all.
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Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Solemnity of the Patronage of St. Joseph
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Coronation of St. Joseph

While many Catholics should be familiar with the annual Solemnity of St. Joseph, Foster Father of Jesus Christ, celebrated annually on March 19th, fewer are likely familiar with the Eastertide Solemnity of St. Joseph.

According to Father Francis X. Lasance, it was instituted during the hostile occupation of Rome by the troops of the Italian King, Victor Emmanuel II. The Pope proclaimed St. Joseph the Patron of the oppressed Household of the Faith, entrusting to St. Joseph the defense of Holy Mother Church. 

In the beginning, this Feast Day was observed on the Third Sunday after Easter, but when Pope St. Pius X reformed the liturgical calendar to restore the Sunday Offices to prominence over those of the Saints, the second Feast of St. Joseph was moved to the Wednesday preceding the Third Sunday after Easter. He also raised the Feast to a Double of the First Class and assigned an Octave to it.

While this feastday is not in the 1962 Missal, it is still kept by priests who celebrate Holy Mass according to the pre-1955 reforms. 

At the time of the writing of his illustrious Liturgical Year 15 volume set, Dom Gueranger observed the feast of St. Joseph during Eastertide was said on the Third Sunday after Easter. Here is an excerpt from his work for today's feast:
The Easter mysteries are superseded today by a special subject, which is offered for our consideration. The holy Church invites us to spend this Sunday in honouring the Spouse of Mary, the Foster-Father of the Son of God. And yet, as we offered him the yearly tribute of our devotion on the 19th of March, it is not, properly speaking, his Feast that we are to celebrate today. It is a solemn expression of gratitude offered to Joseph, the Protector of the Faithful, the refuge and support of all that invoke him with confidence. The innumerable favours he has bestowed upon the world entitle him to this additional homage. With a view to her children’s interests, the Church would, on this day, excite their confidence in this powerful and ever ready helper. 
Devotion to St. Joseph was reserved for these latter times. Though based on the Gospel, it was not to be developed in the early ages of the Church. It is not that the Faithful were, in any way, checked from showing honour to him who had been called to take so important a part in the mystery of the Incarnation; but Divine Providence had its hidden reasons for retarding the Liturgical homage to be paid, each year, to the Spouse of Mary. As on other occasions, so here also; the East preceded the West in the special cultus of St. Joseph: but, in the 15th Century, the whole Latin Church adopted it, and, since that time, it has gradually gained the affections of the Faithful. We have treated upon the glories of St. Joseph, on the 19th of March; the present Feast has its own special object, which we will at once proceed to explain. 
The goodness of God and our Redeemer’s fidelity to his promises have ever kept pace with the necessities of the world; so that, in every age, appropriate and special aid has been given to the world for its maintaining the supernatural life. An uninterrupted succession of seasonable grace has been the result of this merciful dispensation, and each generation has had given to it a special motive for confidence in its Redeemer. Dating from the 13th century, when, as the Church herself assures us, the world began to grow cold, (Frigescente Mundo, Collect for the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis.) each epoch has had thrown open to it a new source of graces. 
First of all came the Feast of the Most Blessed Sacrament, with its successive developments of Processions, Expositions, Benedictions and the Forty Hours. After this, followed the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, (of which St. Bernardine of Sienna was the chief propagator,) and that of Via Crucis or Stations of the Cross, with its wonderful fruit of compunction. The practice of frequent Communion was revived in the 16th century, owing principally to the influence of St. Ignatius and the Society founded by him. In the 17th, was promulgated the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was firmly established in the following century. In the 19th, devotion to the Holy Mother of God has made such progress, as to form one of the leading supernatural characteristics of the period. The Rosary and Scapular, which had been handed down to us in previous ages, have regained their place in the affections of the people; pilgrimages to the Sanctuaries of the Mother of God, which had been interrupted by the influence of Jansenism and rationalism, have been removed; the Archconfraternity of the Sacred Heart of Mary has spread throughout the whole world; numerous miracles have been wrought in reward for the fervent faith of individuals; in a word, our present century has witnessed the triumph of the Immaculate Conception, — a triumph which had been looked forward to for many previous ages. 
Now, devotion to Mary could never go on increasing as it has done, without bringing with it a fervent devotion to St. Joseph. We cannot separate Mary and Joseph, were it only for their having such a close connection with the mystery of the Incarnation: Mary, as being the Mother of the Son of God; and Joseph, as being guardian of the Virgin’s spotless honour, and Foster-Father of the Divine Babe. A special veneration for St. Joseph was the result of increased devotion to Mary. Nor is this reverence for Mary’s Spouse to be considered only as a just homage paid to his admirable prerogatives: it is, moreover, a fresh and exhaustless source of help to the world, for Joseph has been made our Protector by the Son of God himself. Hearken to the inspired words of the Church’s Liturgy: “Thou, O Joseph! art the delight of the Blessed, the sure hope of our life, and the pillar of the world!” (Hymn for the Lauds of the Feast of the Patronage of St. Joseph)  Extraordinary as is this power, need we be surprised at its being given to a man like Joseph, whose connections with the Son of God on earth were so far above those of all other men? Jesus deigned to be subject to Joseph here below; now that he is in heaven, he would glorify the creature, to whom he consigned the guardianship of his own childhood and his Mother’s honour. He has given him a power, which is above our calculations. 
Hence it is, that the Church invites us, on this day, to have recourse, with unreserved confidence, to this all-powerful Protector. The world we live in is filled with miseries which would make stronger hearts than ours quake with fear: but, let us invoke St. Joseph with faith, and we shall be protected. In all our necessities, whether of soul or body — in all the trials and anxieties we may have to go through — let us have recourse to St. Joseph, and we shall not be disappointed. The king of Egypt said to his people, when they were suffering from famine: go to Joseph! (Genesis 41:55) the King of Heaven says the same to us: the faithful guardian of Mary has greater influence with God, than Jacob’s son had with Pharaoh.

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Sunday, April 21, 2019
Certainty of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
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"'Christ who died on the cross, whose side was pierced with a lance, whose body lay cold and bloodless in the tomb, is risen from the dead; what we have seen with our eyes and touched with our hands, we declare; we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard; by a man came death into the world, and by a man the resurrection of the dead; in Adam all died, in Christ all shall be made alive. God raised up the crucified Nazarene, of this we are all witnesses. He died according to the Scriptures. He appeared to Peter, and to James, and to all the Apostles; then He was seen by more than five hundred brethren at once. He ate and drank and conversed with us, and before our eyes, He was taken up into Heaven. Stephen saw Him standing at the right hand of God; in the splendor of celestial glory He appeared to Saul.'

"This is the unwavering testimony of the Apostles to the resurrection and glorified life of Jesus and to His never-ending influence on the fortunes of mankind. This faith is as strongly rooted in them as the consciousness of their own existence.

"If their testimony is not true, what testimony is true? If we doubt the simple, definite, unanimous story of the Evangelists, the blood-sealed testimony of the Apostles, can we believe anything? Must we not despair of ever attaining truth on testimony? If these were were deceived, then all the impressions registered by our senses, by sight, touch, and hearing, are illusions. It is an illusion when a thousand sane men and women see the sun shine at midday, when ten thousand heard the roar of the storm wind that uproots the giants of the forest. If these men deceived, then we are not sure of our lives in the company of our dearest friends. If the Resurrection of Jesus is not a fact, a reality, then all is a delusion and an idle dream."

Quoted from: Catholic Apologetics Book IV by Fr. John Laux
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Friday, April 19, 2019
Weep Not for Me But for Your Children
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And there followed Him a great multitude of people, and of women, who bewailed and lamented Him. But Jesus turning to them, said: Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over Me; but weep for yourselves, and for your children (Luke 23:27-28)

What did the words of our Lord mean?  Haydock's Bible Commentary provides the insightful meaning of these words:
If you knew the evils that threaten and must soon fall upon your city, upon yourselves, and upon your children, you would preserve your tears to deplore your own misfortunes. My death is for the good of mankind; but it will be fatal to your nation because you have been pleased to make it so. In the ruin of Jerusalem, which is at hand, happy shall they be who have no children. They shall save themselves the grief of seeing their sons and daughters perish miserably, and in some sort of suffering as many deaths as they have children to die. Calmet.
Yet, in a mystical sense, they also apply to us. Our Lord's death was the most efficacious death in the history of the world. But we live in a world that has divorced itself from God. Even the Church is undergoing an immense Passion and Trial in the world brought about by the sins of her members. We are right to weep and lament the Passion and cruelty inflicted on our Lord, but we should weep greater for souls who are actually lost and go to hell.

How much penance are we doing these days of the Triduum for souls that are far from God? Our Lady of Fatima has asked for penance repeatedly. Let us offer all of our sufferings and penances of these final hours of Lent for the conversion of souls and for reparation of sin.
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Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Traditional Catholic Prayer for Vocations by Pope Pius XII
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Lord Jesus, High Priest and universal Shepherd, Thou hast taught us to pray, saying: "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest" [Matt. 9: 38]. Therefore we beseech Thee graciously to hear our supplications and raise up many generous souls who, inspired by Thy example and supported by Thy grace, may conceive the ardent desire to enter the ranks of Thy sacred ministers in order to continue the office of Thy one true priesthood.

Although Thy priests live in the world as dispensers of the mysteries of God, yet their mission demands that they be not men of this world. Grant, then, that the insidious lies and vicious slanders directed against the priesthood by the malignant enemy and abetted by the world through its spirit of indifference and materialism may not dim the brilliance of the light with which they shine before men, nor lessen the profound and reverent esteem due to them. Grant that the continual promotion of religious instruction, true piety, purity of life and devotion to the highest ideals may prepare the groundwork for good vocations among youth.

May the Christian family, as a nursery of pure and pious souls, become the unfailing source of good vocations, ever firmly convinced of the great honor that can redound to our Lord through some of its numerous offspring. Come to the aid of Thy Church, that always and in every place she may have at her disposal the means necessary for the reception, promotion, formation and mature development of all the good vocations that may arise. For the full realization of all these things, O Jesus, Who art most zealous for the welfare and salvation of all, may Thy graces continually descend from heaven to move many hearts by their irresistible force; first, the silent invitation; then generous cooperation; and finally perseverance in Thy holy service.

Art Thou not moved to compassion, O Lord, seeing the crowds like sheep without a shepherd, without anyone to break for them the bread of Thy word, or to lead them to drink at the fountains of Thy grace, so that they are continually in danger of becoming a prey to ravening wolves? Does it not grieve Thee to behold so many unplowed fields where thorns and thistles are allowed to grow in undisputed possession? Art Thou not saddened that many of Thy gardens, once so green and productive, are now on the verge of becoming fallow and barren through neglect?

O Mary, Mother most pure, through whose compassion we have received the holiest of priests; O glorious Patriarch St. Joseph, perfect model of cooperation with the Divine call; O holy priests, who in Heaven compose a choir about the Lamb of God: obtain for us many good vocations in order that the Lord's flock, through the support and government of vigilant shepherds, may attain to the enjoyment of the most delightful pastures of eternal happiness.
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Saturday, April 13, 2019
Holy Week Reflection
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Guest Post by David Martin

Each year on Palm Sunday we commemorate Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem when He cleansed the temple of the money changers and those who had sought to profane the temple with their worldly ways.

This pivotal Lent of 2019 is the appropriate time to bring it home and to reflect on how we can assist Christ in cleansing His temple, especially, on how we might encourage the good bishops to take the whip to those clerical clowns in the Eternal City that have sought to profane the temple with their perfidious errors and changes.

Unfortunately, the cult of Freemasonry exerts great control over the Church at this time, which accounts for the widely held error that the Church is an ongoing, evolutionary process that goes through phases of change over time. As these modernists see it, anything the Church holds to at any given point of its history is the result of a general consensus or “collective conscience,“ as if the Church were a democracy to decide doctrine, when in fact the matter of doctrine has already been decided for us from above.

That is to say, the Church is a Divine Monarchy ruled by the King of kings, “with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration.” (James: 1:17) As such, the doctrines of the Faith are not something that can change or develop but are eternally set in stone for our instruction. (Matthew 24: 35)
Lent is a time to cleanse ourselves and to return to the tradition of the Faith, but this applies especially to today’s Vatican hierarchy. It is high time that the Church’s ruling body clean house and take the whip to those money-changes, homosexuals, and heretics that are polluting the temple with their antics and doctrinal germs. It is time they go upon their knees and declare that we as Church have sinned in God’s eyes for allowing humanism, modernism, and change to defile Christ’s legacy.

Without this done, where is their Lenten penance? Their Holy Week solemnity is then reduced to an empty formality, and it is anticipated that this year’s ceremonies in Rome will be another farcical tool to advance Islam and political LGBT agenda. What next, will the pope wash the feet of gays and transgenders? Will the bishops stand by and watch the show or will they finally speak up to correct a situation that is offensive to God and destructive to His people?

Each year at the Easter Vigil we are asked, “Do you renounce Satan and all his pomps and all his works,” as we say, “I do.” Let Francis and his bishops live up to that this year by rejecting all that Satan has given them, i.e. Vatican II ecumenism, modernism, change, lest this year’s observance again be filled with empty pomp void of the work of God.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019
Mid-Lent Thursday Exhortation from the Mozarabic Rite
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Cathedral in Seville, Spain

Today, Thursday in the Third Week of Lent, is the happy mid-point of our Lenten observance. For those of us who are observing the time-honored custom of fasting, today is the 20th day of the Great Fast. We have 20 more days to persevere in penance to prepare ourselves for Holy Easter.

Have you grown lax? Have you not made as much spiritual progress as you hoped? Have you not done enough fasting, enough abstinence, enough penance, enough spiritual reading, enough extra praying, enough extra Masses, or enough almsgiving?

There is no reason to fret if you have grown lax. Now is the time for us to renew our vigor and march forward to Easter with greater resolve to make reparation for sins.

The Mozarabic Liturgy offers for us this day a beautiful exhortation that Dom Gueranger in his "Liturgical Year" shares in the Volume on Lent, Page 290:
Looking forward, dearly beloved brethren, to the hope of the Passion and Resurrection of the Son of God, as also to the manifestation of the glory of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: resume your strength and courage. Be not daunted by the labour you have to go through, but remember the solemnity of the holy Pasch, for which you are so ardently longing. One half of holy Lent is over: you have gone through the difficulties of the past, why should you not be courageous about the future fast? Jesus who deigned to suffer fatigue for our sake, will give strength to them that are fatigued. He that granted us to begin the past, will enable us to complete the future. Children! He will be with us to assist us, who wishes us to hope for the glory of His Passion. Amen.
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Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Catholics Look to a Unified Ireland Post-Brexit
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While out celebrating the life and work of St. Patrick, I picked up a copy of The Irish Herald published on the West Coast (Volume 57, No. 07). As I sat drinking my Guinness I was rather intrigued by the headline story as Northern Ireland may not be as non-Catholic as Americans may think.  Here were some interesting excerpts from that piece:
Support for uniting Ireland has risen dramatically on both sides on the Irish border in large part because of the calamitous Brexit referendum on June 23, 2016. While jingoistic British politicians were urging their public to leave the European Union and enter the promised land of a 'free and independent' UK, precious little consideration was given to the impact such a move might have on either the south or the north of Ireland. The more things change the more they stay the same... 
Since the partition of Ireland in 1921, Catholics in the north have been subjected to human and civil rights abuses and have been treated as second class citizens. The GFA [Good Friday Agreement] was supposed to end all that but intransigence from the unionist body politic, notably from the Democratic Unionist Party, the largest unionist party, has prevented many important remedies contained in the GFA from becoming reality. 
In 1921 the Catholic population of the six counties that make up 'Northern Ireland' was a mere 35 percent, and it was that way by design. The partition was never supposed to end. The border, which has become the singular focus of the entire Brexit exercise, is proof of that. All 310 miles of it, winding it's way through farms, parishes and townlands, was drawn up in the way which would exclude the most Catholics. The intention was undeniable. Lord Carigavon the North's first Prime Minister proudly declared as his slogan: 'A Protestant Parliament for a Protestant people.' 
But as they say, nothing lasts forever. Shifting demographics have put the unity question at the top of the agenda. In the last census Catholics (who predominantly favor a united Ireland) made up 45 percent of the population while Protestants (who tend to support the union with Britain) made up 48 percent. A deeper look into those statistics reveals that he protestant population will still makes up almost two thirds of those over 65, whereas in the younger age groups Catholics now make up the majority. 
'It's a massive demographic shift. In five to ten years there'll be a Catholic majority in Northern Ireland,' said Peter Shirlow, director of the University of Liverpool's Institute of Irish Studies. It will take a few more years for this overall majority to translate into an electoral majority, 'but a majority for a united Ireland is going to happen, (there is) no doubt about that,' added Shirlow.
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Monday, March 18, 2019
St. Joseph, First Among the Saints
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In honor of tomorrow's feast of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I wish to share an insight I recently learned on the unique position of Saint Joseph amongst the saints. 

Whereas among the saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary is in a category to herself, after her comes St. Joseph as first among the saints. This position is not mere pious devotion but is based on the theological classification of St. Joseph with the word protodulia as Fr Broom explains:
The theologians classify the greatness of those in glory with the following titles: “Latria”, which means adoration that we give to the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “Hyperdulia” given to the Blessed Virgin Mary means the highest veneration. “Dulia”, given to the saints, implies veneration. Finally, Glorious Saint Joseph is rightly given “Protodulia”, meaning that among the saints he is given first place; “Proto” means first!
St. Joseph is ranked even before the Apostles themselves! Fr. Broom continues:
Saint Bernadine of Siena expounds upon the reason for this theological hierarchy. In simple terms, this Franciscan Doctor of the Church asserts that God gives special graces commensurate or corresponding to the specific office or mission given to the individual. 
Husband and wife married sacramentally have the sacramental grace of Matrimony to grow in mutual love for each other as well as to procreate children for the Kingdom of God. Priests, through Holy Orders, can grow daily in sanctity by preaching the Word of God and administering with joy the Sacraments to the People of God. God gives graces corresponding to the state of life! 
Therefore, in the case of Glorious Saint Joseph, God entrusted this greatest of all saints with two sublime missions; one mission even greater than the other. First, St. Joseph God called to be the spouse (husband) of the Queen of the angels and saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary. How sublime!  
However, God the Father entrusted Glorious Saint Joseph with an even more exalted and sublime mission—namely, the Office of being the “Foster Father” of the Son of the living God, Jesus, and the Son of the eternal Father!!!! This is even more sublime, ineffable, beyond the ability of human words to express! 
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Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Lenten Ember Fast
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The Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of this week are the Lenten Ember Days - a time set aside for us to fast and abstain from meat. 

Although Ember Days are no longer considered required in mainstream Roman Catholicism following Vatican II, they can - and should - still be observed by the Faithful. In fact, many Traditional priests encourage the Faithful to observe the days. Ember Days are set aside to pray and/or offer thanksgiving for a good harvest and God's blessings. If you are in good health, please at least fast during these three days and pray the additional prayers the Church asks for at this time. Remember the words from the Gospel: "Unless you do penance, you shall likewise perish" (Luke 13:5).  Ember Days are days of fasting and abstinence from meat. Even if the fasting is no longer required by the Church, since this Friday is during Lent, this is no exception to the requirement to abstain from meat on this Friday.

From New Advent:

Ember days (corruption from Lat. Quatuor Tempora, four times) are the days at the beginning of the seasons ordered by the Church as days of fast and abstinence. They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) for the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after 13 December (S. Lucia), after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday, and after 14 September (Exaltation of the Cross). The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy. The immediate occasion was the practice of the heathens of Rome. The Romans were originally given to agriculture, and their native gods belonged to the same class.

At the beginning of the time for seeding and harvesting religious ceremonies were performed to implore the help of their deities: in June for a bountiful harvest, in September for a rich vintage, and in December for the seeding; hence their feriae sementivae, feriae messis, and feri vindimiales. The Church, when converting heathen nations, has always tried to sanctify any practices which could be utilized for a good purpose. At first the Church in Rome had fasts in June, September, and December; the exact days were not fixed but were announced by the priests. The "Liber Pontificalis" ascribes to Pope Callistus (217-222) a law ordering: the fast, but probably it is older. Leo the Great (440-461) considers it an Apostolic institution. When the fourth season was added cannot be ascertained, but Gelasius (492-496) speaks of all four. This pope also permitted the conferring of priesthood and deaconship on the Saturdays of ember week--these were formerly given only at Easter.

Before Gelasius the ember days were known only in Rome, but after his time their observance spread. They were brought into England by St. Augustine; into Gaul and Germany by the Carlovingians. Spain adopted them with the Roman Liturgy in the eleventh century. They were introduced by St. Charles Borromeo into Milan. The Eastern Church does not know them. The present Roman Missal, in the formulary for the Ember days, retains in part the old practice of lessons from Scripture in addition to the ordinary two: for the Wednesdays three, for the Saturdays six, and seven for the Saturday in December. Some of these lessons contain promises of a bountiful harvest for those that serve God.


From Catholic Culture:
Since man is both a spiritual and physical being, the Church provides for the needs of man in his everyday life. The Church's liturgy and feasts in many areas reflect the four seasons of the year (spring, summer, fall and winter). The months of August, September, October and November are part of the harvest season, and as Christians we recall God's constant protection over his people and give thanksgiving for the year's harvest.

The September Ember Days were particularly focused on the end of the harvest season and thanksgiving to God for the season. Ember Days were three days (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) set aside by the Church for prayer, fasting and almsgiving at the beginning of each of the four seasons of the year. The ember days fell after December 13, the feast of St. Lucy (winter), after the First Sunday of Lent (spring), after Pentecost Sunday (summer), and after September 14 , the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (fall). These weeks are known as the quattor tempora, the "four seasons."

Since the late 5th century, the Ember Days were also the preferred dates for ordination of  priests. So during these times the Church had a threefold focus: (1) sanctifying each new season by turning to God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving; (2) giving thanks to God for the various harvests of each season; and (3) praying for the newly ordained and for future vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
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Monday, February 18, 2019
Feast of Blessed Fra Angelico
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Today is the anniversary of the death of Bl. John of Fiesole (commonly called Blessed Fra Angelico), the Angelic Dominican painter.  In the image above, Fra Angelico, who is the patron saint of artists, is overcome while painting the Crucifixion, while the angels look on in awe. Communicating truth through beauty is the whole point of picking up a paintbrush, practicing scales, putting on shoes for ballet, and the like. The artist sees this Beauty and desperately wants to communicate it.  In such a way, painters like Fra Angelico help us see what a true artist is meant to be and not what many modern "artists" claim.

Blessed Fra Angelico joined the Dominicans in Fiesole, Italy in 1407, taking the name Fra Giovanna. He was taught to illuminate missals and manuscripts, and he immediately exhibited a natural talent as an artist. Today his works can be seen in the Italian cities Cortona, Fiesole, Florence, and in the Vatican. His dedication to religious art earned him the title Angelico.  His body rests in a tomb at Santa Maria sopra Minerva, the Dominican Church of Rome.

Prayer:

O God, who called blessed John of Fiesole to seek your Kingdom in this world through the pursuit of perfect charity, grant, we pray, through his intercession that we may advance with joyful spirit along the way of love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(From The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For Religious)
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Thursday, February 14, 2019
Review: Saint John of the Cross by Father Paschasius Heriz
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Published in 1919 and with an imprimatur and glowing review by Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore, "Saint John of the Cross" by Father Paschasius Heriz is a true treasure. Fr. Paschasius of the Carmelite Community at the Catholic University of America was a scholar and an expert on the Carmelite order. I found the first edition of this book at a second-hand store and bought it.  Inside was a true treasure of immense spiritual wisdom as evident by the life and example of St. John of the Cross.


St. John of the Cross was born in 1542 in Spain near the city of Avila to a very pious mother named Catalina Alvarez. His mother was married to St. John's father who married her for her great piety and devotion. However, for doing so, his father lost all of his wealth as a noblemen and lived only a short time afterward. St. John of the Cross's mother raised her sons, three of them, in great poverty. St. John of the Cross had two brothers - Luis who died early in life and Francis, the eldest, who would be a great friend and brother to St. John. Francis would outlive St. John of the Cross.

As a young child, St. John had an accident where he nearly drowned by was saved by an apparition of the Mother of God. That event left an impression and a fervent devotion in him - a devotion that would last for the entirety of his life. In fact, as a young man who would be saved again from falling in a deep well again by the Mother of God to the astonishment of those around.

St. John spent his adolescent years in study and rigorous prayer and penance. He was known for his immense charity to the poor by his work at the hospitals. Around this time, he received a revelation from the Lord Himself who shared that He wished for the saint to become a religious and help restore ancient perfection to an Order in his Church.

St. John of the Cross was above all a humble man and his whole life he with fear for his sins and thought he could do little perfect. Yet, by all accounts of those around him, he lived an entirely unblemished life. His prayer routine was constant, he ate little, he inflicted physical punishment upon himself his entire life, and he wished to aspire to no great thing but to live humbly and in penance for sins.

At the age of 21, St. John entered the Carmelite Order by prompting from the Holy Ghost on February 24, 1563. At that time, he took the name John of St. Mathias, since he received the habit on the Feast of St. Mathias.  At the onset, St. John felt called to personally keep the ancient Rule of the Carmelites that was given by St. Albert, patriarch of Jerusalem, which was approved by Pope Innocent IV. His superiors permitted him to do so. However, the Carmelites at that time instead kept a mitigated rule that was approved by Pope Eugenius IV. The mitigated rule allowed the consumption of meat, it did not require the fast that lasted from the Feast of the Holy Cross all the way to Easter and allowed the friars to wear shoes. Yet, St. John was called by God to observe this Rule and he did while at the Carmelite Monastery even though by doing so he was ridiculed and many days would go hungry as there were no special meals of food prepared for him. Yet, he continued to observe the ancient observance and would permit himself no excuse from any function at the monastery. At the age of 25, St. John was asked to prepare for the priesthood even though he felt far too unworthy to do so. Yet, he submitted - his whole life he submitted to his superiors - and was ordained. Feeling unworthy to offer the Mass, St. John prayed at his first Mass to preserve in purity his whole life and God answered Him at that Mass with a voice that said, "Thy prayer is granted."

The young St. John felt drawn to the Carthusian Order but he was asked by St. Teresa of Avila to help her in the restoration of the primitive Carmelite Rule of Life. He did so and received the habit of the primitive Order. Along with two other friars in 1568, Saint John renewed his solemn vows and renounced the mitigations of the rule sanctioned by Pope Eugenius IV. And they promised both Our Lord and Our Lady that they would live under the primitive rule until death. And in keeping with the custom which St. Teresa had for the sisters to change their names to avoid all connection with their family names, the saint changed his name to John of the Cross.

During the years that followed, again with the support of his superiors, St. John founded many monasteries with the approval of the Order and lived in one that was abject and completely impoverished. He chose the poorest and smallest room for himself. He read souls and counseled many nuns and friars. He is documented on several occasions to have performed exorcisms to have relieved possessed persons. And it was during this time he received many mystical experiences including trances and visions while in prayer or saying Holy Mass.

After nine years of his keeping the primitive Rule, St. John was forcibly arrested by the Carmelite Order which wished to suppress the keeping of the Primitive Rule. St. John underwent the punishment as a prisoner in a Carmelite monastery. There, the prior treated him with great irreverence, forbid him to say Mass, starved Him, refused to let him change his habit or bathe for the entire nine months of his imprisonment, and more. He was treated with the utmost contempt and St. John welcomed it all as a means to make reparation and penance. He longed to suffer and was the most docile and patient of sufferings; in fact, by the accounts were written, the patient endurance of his unjust torture resembled the patience of our Lord in His passion. Yet, after nearly a year, he received a vision from our Lady with the means to escape and he did so.

He spent the remaining years of his life in constant prayer and work for the Order. He served as Vicar-Provincial, he performed miracles, and he continued to found monasteries. This lasted for many years and then in 1587 Pope Sixtus V sanctioned separation of the friars of the reform from the friars of the mitigation. At last, in 1588 the first General Chapter of the Reform was held where St. John of the Cross was made the first Consultor and Prior of Segovia. Around this time he was in deep prayer when our Our Lord spoke to Him in a vision and asked, "John, what shall I give thee for all thou hast done and suffered for Me?" And after He asked three times, St. John responded, "To suffer and to be held in contempt for Thy sake." And his prayer was granted. In the ensuing years, he was relieved of all offices as superior, he spent his remaining years under a superior who was unkind and hateful towards him for having corrected a fault of his years before, and he died in humiliation. But St. John endured it all and desired the physical and spiritual torment he endured all for the graces and for the sake of God. At last, he died in December 1591 on a Saturday, the day dedicated to Our Lady, which was revealed to Him.

Miraculously, his body and his bandages gave forth a great perfume whose smell could not be contained. Great light filled his tomb just days after he died and his body was incorrupt. It was determined that some of his limbs were to go to some of the houses of the order so it was divided up. And the relics of his body brought many miracles to those who touched them.

Indeed, in life and in death, the life of St. John of the Cross, great father and founder of the Discalced Carmelites, is worth great meditation. I highly recommend "Saint John of the Cross" by Father Paschasius Heriz.

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