Tuesday, January 30, 2018


I am always looking for Jesuit saints to be and here is another American, one who had a great devotion to the Eucharist.
“The blessings we may expect are the blessings already proven by the lives of all the great saints who were devoted to the Holy Eucharist.” 

SERVANT of GOD  JOHN HARDEN, SJ was born in 1914 to a devout Catholic family in Midland, Pennsylvania. When he was a year old, his 27-year-old father died in an industrial accident when the scaffolding collapsed under him as he moved to secure a steel beam dangling dangerously over his co-workers. After the accident John was raised by his 26-year-old mother Anna, who never remarried "out of concern for the influence a possible stepfather might have on her son's vocation." They moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where they lived "in the shadows of the iron and steel mills". Anna was a woman of deep faith, a Franciscan tertiary who embraced her poverty and her difficult circumstances with courage and grace, attending daily Mass.

Father John  was later to write: The most noticeable event of my childhood was my reception of First Holy Communion at the age of six. Sr. Benedicta, a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame who prepared us for our first Holy Communion, told us, “Whatever you ask Our Lord on your First Communion day, you will receive.” When I returned to my pew after Communion, I immediately asked our Lord, “Make me a priest.” I had only the faintest idea what I was saying, but I never forgot what sister had told us to do. When I was ordained twenty-six years later, my first sentiment was to thank Our Lord for hearing my prayers.

John received the sacrament of Confirmation at the age of eight, asking on this occasion for the Holy Spirit to give him “the grace of martyrdom.” As he commented in his Spiritual Autobiography about this mysterious grace:
Over the years, I should never forget the mysterious ways that our Lord has given me the privilege of professing my faith at no matter what price to my preference. Over the years, I have never tired telling people that Confirmation prepares them to live a martyr’s life, if it is God’s will to die a martyr’s death.

As John completed high school, the thought of a priestly vocation continued to grow. Unwilling to leave his widowed mother alone, however, he decided against the seminary directly after high school. With the help of savings his mother had put aside specifically for his future, he  enrolled in John Carroll University. He rode the streetcar to and from school each day, a distance of three to four hours daily. In his first two years at John Carroll University, John pursued studies in science, with the intention of becoming a medical doctor. However under the guidance of his priestly adviser, he began, in his third year of studies, to discern more clearly his own call to the priesthood. As he moved interiorly toward a priestly vocation, he changed his course of studies to include Latin, philosophy, and college theology. John was instinctively attracted to the religious life and  the academic rigor of the Society of Jesus, and their special fidelity to the Holy Father, attracted him to the Jesuits.
He later commented about his vocational decision, “Over the years since that decision, with God’s grace, I had never once doubted that what I was doing was consistent with the Divine Will. … A vocation to the priesthood is a special call from God that nothing, and I mean nothing, should raise a doubt whether to answer the call or not.”

During his formative years with the Jesuits, he obtained a Master’s degree in philosophy at Loyola University in Chicago in 1941. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 18, 1947, his thirty-third birthday. Reflecting on the grace of his ordination and the pastoral mission which lay ahead, he wrote:
After being ordained to the priesthood in 1947, I still had several years of preparation for my final ministry. Unexpectedly, I was told that my vocation would be to prepare men to train priests. Never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate what this would mean. It would mean long preparation in understanding the Catholic faith, and I mean understanding the Catholic faith. Not only that, but the price that had to be paid in defending what had become the most trying century of Catholic Christianity.  

With  (St.) Mother Teresa of Calcutta
After his ordination, Fr. Hardon was sent for two years of special doctoral studies in theology to the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was appointed director of the graduate library as well. He suffered greatly when asked by his superior to personally retrieve all of the heretical volumes which had been borrowed by graduate students. 

 “Before I had retrieved one-half of the heretical books, I had become the agent of orthodoxy and therefore the sworn enemy of the modernists, who were updating the Catholic faith to its modernist theology. I had doors slammed in my face. I lost friends whom I had considered believers. The lessons I learned were invaluable. … It taught me that the faith I had so casually learned could be preserved only by the price of a living martyrdom. This faith, I was to find out, is a precious treasure that cannot be preserved except at a heavy price. The price is nothing less than to confess what so many others either openly or covertly denied.”

In all of these years, Fr. Hardon never wavered in his orthodoxy and loyalty to the teaching of the Magisterium. As he noted about his teaching years in his Spiritual Autobiography:
All these years of remaining faithful to the Catholic Church in spite of widespread opposition to what I believed, these were the years when I learned clearly and deeply that to remain a bonafide Catholic teacher of Catholic Doctrine was, honestly,  the most demanding enterprise of my whole life.

Throughout his life, Fr. Hardon was a confessor and spiritual director, offering with tireless generosity to those who sought it. 
With Sereno, 1992
Among the dozens of books authored by Fr. Hardon on the topics of religion and theology, his most defining works include his authorship of The Catholic Catechism (1975). This work stands as a significant contribution to Catholic orthodoxy, written at the request of His Holiness,  (Bl).Pope Paul VI, with whom Fr. Hardon had a close working relationship.  Fr. Hardon also served as a consultant for the drafting of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  edited by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) and promulgated by His Holiness, Pope St. John Paul II in 1992.

Fr. John Hardon died  December 30, 2000 at the Columbiere Jesuit House in Clarkston, Michigan. Efforts are in progress for the creation of a permanent archive and study center on the life and work of Fr. Hardon at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The Archive and Guild is temporarily located in Bardstown, Kentucky, and is a work for the cause of the beatification and canonization 
of the Servant of God, Fr. John Anthony Hardon S.J.

A very saintly priest,  much of his mission seemed to be centered around promoting reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament, urging priests and lay people to establish Perpetual Adoration.  

“Not only does our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament give us the courage to cope with our natural fears, He also gives us the ability to undertake great things for the sake of His name and the power to undergo great trials in our loyalty to His cause.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


BL. CLEMENS AUGUST GRAF von GALEN was born into the German aristocracy in 1878. He belonged to one of the oldest and most distinguished noble families of Westphalia. The von Galen name had a presence in the region since 1667, when Christoph Bernhard von Galen was named the first bishop of Münster after suppressing the Anabaptists. Clemens August was the eleventh of thirteen children, the son of Count Ferdinand Heribert von Galen, a member of the Imperial German parliament (the Reichstag) for the Catholic Centre Party, and Elisabeth von Spee.

Until 1890, Clemens August and his brother Franz were tutored at home. At a time when the Jesuits were still not permitted in Münster, he received his main schooling at a Jesuit SchoolStella Matutina in the Vorarlberg, Austria, where only Latin was spoken. He was not an easy student to teach, and his Jesuit superior wrote to his parents: "Infallibility is the main problem with Clemens, who under no circumstance will admit that he may be wrong. It is always his teachers and educators who are wrong.

After his ordination he worked in Berlin. He intensely disliked the liberal values of the Weimar Republic and opposed individualism, socialism, and democracy. After serving in Berlin parishes from 1906 to 1929, he became the pastor of Münster's St. Lamberti Church, where he was noted for his political conservatism. A staunch German nationalist and patriot, he considered the Treaty of Versailles unjust and viewed Bolshevism as a threat to Germany and the Church.

Bl. Clemens began to criticize Hitler's movement in 1934, condemning the Nazi worship of race in a pastoral letter on 29 January 1934. He assumed responsibility for the publication of a collection of essays that criticized the Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg and defended the teachings of the Catholic Church.

He was an outspoken critic of certain Nazi policies and helped draft Pope Pius XI's 1937 anti-Nazi encyclical “With Burning Concern”. In 1941, he delivered three sermons in which he denounced the arrest of Jesuits, the confiscation of church property, attacks on the Church, and in the third, the state-approved killing of invalids. The sermons were illegally circulated in print, inspiring some German Resistance groups, including the White Rose.

The clarity and incisiveness of his words and the unshakable fidelity of Catholics in the Diocese of Münster embarrassed the Nazi regime, and on 10 October 1943 the Bishop's residence was bombed. Bishop von Galen was forced to take refuge in nearby Borromeo College.

From 12 September 1944 on, he could no longer remain in the city of Münster, destroyed by the war; he left for the zone of Sendenhorst.

In 1945, Vatican Radio announced that Pope Pius XII was to hold a Consistory and that the Bishop of Münster was also to be present.
After a long and difficult journey, due to the war and other impediments, Bishop von Galen finally arrived in the "Eternal City". On 21 February 1946 the Public Consistory was held in St Peter's Basilica and Bishop von Galen was created a Cardinal.

On 16 March 1946 the 68-year-old Cardinal returned to Münster. He was cordially welcomed back by the city Authorities and awarded honorary citizenship by the burgomaster.

On the site of what remained of the cathedral, Cardinal von Galen gave his first (and what would be his last) discourse to the more than 50,000 people who had gathered, thanking them for their fidelity to the then-Bishop of Münster during the National Socialist regime. He explained that as a Bishop, it was his duty to speak clearly and plainly about what was happening.

No one knew that the Cardinal was gravely ill, and when he returned to Münster on 19 March 1946 he had to undergo an operation. Cardinal von Galen died just three days later, on 22 March. He was buried on 28 March in the Ludgerus Chapel, which has become a place of pilgrimage to this defender of the faith in the face of political oppression.

In 1956 Cardinal von Galen’s cause for canonization was opened, and over the ensuing years more and more evidence came to light of his personal gifts: his courage, his kindness, his austere way of life (especially during the war, when he insisted on giving to others any small treat that might come his way), his insistence on a structured rule of life, including regular prayer. 

In October 2005, Cardinal von Galen was formally declared blessed by the Church. But by now something else had occurred. History had rolled on. More than half a century after the Second World War, the Church now had a German Pope, Benedict XVI, a Bavarian. As a boy in an anti-Nazi family, the pope knew of Bishop von Galen and regarded him as a hero and a voice for the "other Germany" of non-Nazis who longed for National Socialism to be consigned to history.

Cardinal von Galen is, of course, a figure of whom German Catholics feel they can be proud, from an era of their history of which they are all terribly ashamed, so this is of importance to them. But the message of his life is larger than that. All Catholics need to know that there was a bishop who was staunchly anti-Nazi. They need to know about his opposition and the way he stood firm and spoke out when others remained silent. It is important that we remind people of this when we hear about the Church’s "failure" to respond adequately to the Nazi’s evil actions.

In this hero-bishop from a different era, we can hear a message and a warning, a call to honor the faith we share with him, and a pattern to follow. Born in a castle, dying in a bombed-out city with his country devastated around him and its moral reputation in ruins too, Bl. Clemens held fast to what was right, and his message lives on while that of the pagan culture he opposed has been revealed for the evil it always was. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Master of St. Veronica- German 1400

Today is the feast of ST. ANTHONY of the DESERT and the day when animals in monasteries around the world are blessed. St. Anthony the Abbot was a hermit-saint in the fourth century who died in the deserts of Egypt. (Not to be confused with St. Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan saint of the thirteenth century.) Legend has it that during his periods of prayer and fasting in the desert, his only companions were the animals.

St Anthony the Abbott was born in Egypt on the banks of the river Nile to a Christian family, and is believed to have lost both his parents, who were very wealthy, at an early age. He then chose to reject the life of luxury his heritage afforded him, giving his riches away to the poor in order to pursue a solitary life of spiritual enlightenment. He is considered the founder of the monastic tradition, garnering a number of disciples in the African desert and setting up monasteries on the banks of the Nile.

He is usually depicted dressed as a monk accompanied by a pig, a dog and a cock, often with the joyful expression for which he was renowned during his lifetime.

The blessing of animals - particularly pigs - is not in fact linked directly to St. Anthony as  the tradition began in Germany, in the Middle Ages, when every village would raise one pig to be given to the local hospital, where the monks of St. Anthony served. St. Anthony is considered to be the  Father of Christian monasticism and the first of the abbots. 

Falling as it does in mid-January, the Feast of St. Anthony is a propitious time for regeneration of the cosmos. The blessing of domestic animals on this feastday was considered auspicious, keeping away harmful forces from the home and land, bringing fertility and fecundity.

Blessing of dogs, cattle & llamas

Monday, January 15, 2018


(St. Apollinare, Ravenna, Italy)

A little known vocation within the Church is that of a consecrated virgin  Having helped several women (from Canada) obtain this Blessings,  I feel it should be made known among Catholics seeking to give themselves to Christ, but not in the religious life.

A consecrated virgin is a never-married woman who dedicates her perpetual virginity to God and is set aside as a sacred person who belongs to Christ.

According to the Code of Canon Law, women who are seeking out this particular vocation must be consecrated to God through the diocesan bishop, according to the rite approved by the Church. Consecrated virgins receive direction from the diocesan bishop. They are betrothed to Christ and are dedicated to the service of the Church, while remaining in the world. Their consecration and life of perpetual virginity is permanent.

Their call to a secular state of life means that they have jobs and lives much like that of the average person. They provide for their own needs as the local diocese is not financially responsible for them.

Unlike most religious orders, consecrated virgins do not have habits or use the title “Sister.” A consecrated virgin also has a particular focus on prayer, which is usually lived out through Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, spiritual reading and personal prayer.
St. Agatha

This vocation dates back to the very beginnings of the church. Sts. Cecilia, Agnes, Agatha, and Lucy (first-century martyrs) were all virgins living in the world.  

Although prevalent in the early church, the vocation of virgins living in the world disappeared after the 11th century as women living a life of chastity came together in communities. By the time of the Second Vatican Council, the consecration of women existed entirely in conjunction with religious life.

St. Lucy- Arturo Olivas

The rite of consecration of virgins in the world dropped off over the centuries as monastic community life for women developed. The rite for women living in the world was brought back with Vatican II. It is specifically noted in the liturgy document, ‘Sacrosanctum Concilium.'

To be set aside as a bride of Christ, the woman must have lived a life of perfect chastity. This is another factor that distinguishes the vocation of consecrated virginity from religious orders, which women may join if they are widowed or if they resolve to live a chaste life from that day forward.

The bride is the image of the church herself as virgin, as bride, as mother, reflecting Christ’s spousal union with His church.

Today, the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins counts about 245 consecrated virgins living in 106 dioceses across the United States

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


The Holy Father, into the New Year, continues his message of silence in the Mass. Moments of silence in the Mass should be intentional times of prayer, recollection and communion with God, rather than being viewed as times to just be quiet or not speak.

“Silence is not reduced to the absence of words, but (is) the availability to listen to other voices: that of our heart and, above all, the voice of the Holy Spirit,” sai the Holy Father.
In silence, then, we discover “the importance of listening to our soul and then opening it to the Lord.”
Continuing his general audience catechesis on the topic of the Mass, Pope Francis reflected on the nature of the different moments of silence found within the celebration, especially in the recitation of the collect.
The collect, which is prayed after the Gloria, or if the Gloria is omitted, following the Penitential Act, is a short prayer which goes from praise to supplication, and is generally inspired from the day’s Scripture passages, the Pope said.
This prayer, which varies according to the day and time in which the Mass is being said, begins with the priest saying to the people, “Let us pray,” followed by a brief silence.
“I strongly recommend priests observe this moment of silence, which without wanting to, we risk neglecting,” Francis noted.
In this moment the congregation is exhorted to come together in silence, to become aware of the presence of God, and to bring out, “each one in his own heart, the personal intentions with which he participates in Mass.
“Perhaps we come from days of toil, of joy, of sorrow, and we want to tell the Lord, to invoke his help, to ask that he be near us; we have family members and friends who are ill or who are going through difficult trials; we wish to entrust to God the fate of the Church and the world.”
“For this we need the brief silence beforehand, that the priest, gathering the intentions of each one, expresses in a loud voice to God, in the name of all, the common prayer that concludes the rites of introduction, making, indeed, a ‘collection’ of individual intentions.”
These silences are written right into the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the Pope pointed out. There it says that in the Penitential Act and again after the invitation to pray, everyone is supposed to spend a moment in recollection.

And in the silences following a reading or the homily, everyone is called to meditate briefly on what they have heard. After Communion they should praise and pray to God in their hearts.

By meditating on the prayers of the Mass, the liturgy can become for us, the Pope concluded, a “true school of prayer".
We can look to Pope Benedict for a better understanding of this integral role of silence in the Mass. In his classic work Spirit of the Liturgy, (then) Cardinal Ratzinger wrote:
We are realizing more and more clearly that silence is part of the liturgy…It must, of course, be a silence with content, not just the absence of speech and action. We should expect the liturgy to give us a positive stillness that will restore us. Such stillness…a time of recollection, giving us an inward peace, allowing us to draw breath and rediscover the one thing necessary, which we have forgotten. That is why silence cannot be simply “made”, organized as if it were one activity among many…For silence to be fruitful, as we have already said, it must not be just a pause in the action of the liturgy. No, it must be an integral part of the liturgical event.

Friday, January 5, 2018


Dr. He Qi

Tomorrow is the great feast of Epiphany. For us in the Monastery it is little Christmas and we always celebrate it on the 6th.  Sunday is the Baptism of the Lord.  Strange to go from the Child to the Man celebrating the beginning of His public life.  Everything seems close this year, as February 14 is the beginning of Lent. But for now we still celebrate His Birth.  I love the work of He Qi. He always works in symbolism which stretches us. In the above painting we see Jesus holding an apple- taking us back to the garden of Eden- and why He is here now.

The Journey of the Magi
‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For the journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

— T. S. Eliot

Dr. He Qi