Thursday, December 2, 2021

THE VIRGIN'S TEARS

 

 


This 14 century fresco was discovered in a convent in Dirbi, Georgia in the late 20th century. The Virgin has just told Joseph about the baby to come. With her right hand raised to her head and wiping her tears, her left hand is pointing to Joseph that he is not the father. It is a mystery we do not usually associate with this happy time.

Dom Prosper Gueranger (b. 1805- d. 1875) speaks of the feast of the Expectation of Mary in the following:

This Feast, which is now kept not only throughout the whole of Spain but in almost all the Churches of the Catholic world, owes its origin to the Bishops of the tenth Council of Toledo in 656. These Prelates having thought that there was an incongruity in the ancient practice of celebrating the feast of the Annunciation on the twenty-fifth of March, inasmuch as this joyful solemnity frequently occurs at the time when the Church is intent upon the Passion of our Lord, and is sometimes obliged to be transferred into Easter Time, with which it is out of harmony for another reason – they decreed that, henceforth, in the Church of Spain there should be kept, eight days before Christmas, a solemn Feast with an Octave, in honour of the Annunciation, and as a preparation for the great solemnity of our Lord’s Nativity.

 In course of time, however, the Church of Spain saw the necessity of returning to the practice of the Church of Rome, and of those of the whole world, which solemnise the twenty-fifth of March as the day of our Lady’s Annunciation and the Incarnation of the Son of God. But such had been, for ages, the devotion of the people for the Feast of the 18th of December, that it was considered requisite to maintain some vestige of it. They discontinued, therefore, to celebrate the Annunciation on this day; but the faithful were requested to consider, with devotion, what must have been the sentiments of the Holy Mother of God during the days immediately preceding her giving Him birth. A new Feast was instituted, under the name of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgins Delivery.

(source:  The Liturgical Year: Advent, by the Very Reverend Dom Prosper Gueranger, Abbot of Solesmes,  translated from the French by the Revered Dom Laurence Shepherd, Monk of the English-Benedictine  Congregation 1870)


Monday, November 29, 2021

EXPECTATION STILLNESS

  


The scriptures tell us that there is a time and season for everything, for each particular event. There is a time of preparing for Christmas, and that is Advent, and then there is a time for Christmas itself. There is no doubt in my mind that the more serious we are about our personal Advent journey, the greater the joy we shall reap during our Christmas celebration.

It is a good practice to make concrete plans on how best to keep our Advent observance. Often, if no plans are made in advance, much of Advent goes unnoticed and wasted. Since Advent is basically a quiet time of waiting for the arrival of the Light at Christmas, it is good to start by trying to become more internally quiet during this rather brief season.

Above all, we must make the most of these moments of stillness by remaining calm, silent, and spending quality time with the Lord. The words from one of the psalms counsel us: Be still, and know that I am God. Monks always strive to preserve a more quiet recollected spirit during these lovely Advent days and thus enjoy the Lord’s intimate company.

There is no reason why others, in a monastery or elsewhere, could not do the same wherever they are. It is a question of resolving to do so and making the effort. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. Come, Holy Spirit.

                                    Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourrette, OSB   A Monastery Journey To Christmas


Image:   Madonna del Parto de de la Pieve de Montefiesole, Pontassieve (Italie)

Saturday, November 27, 2021

EXPECTANT MOTHER OF OUR SAVIOR

 


While Americans do not celebrate Advent as do many European countries, we still await the coming of the Christ Child.  We count the days with often a frenetic preparation, yet  in our preparation to get to the Birth, we seem to forget the month and weeks and days before this event. Jesus did not just show up one starry night in a manger.  

He came into this world like any other baby, which meant His Mother had grave concerns dealing with her Newborn, far from her home and family and most probably without supplies a new mother needs.

The feast heightens the anticipation of Christmas and makes the last few days of Advent unique with  opportunities to meditate on what Mary must have been pondering in her heart.

Last Advent we wrote of the Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary,  a Catholic Feast that was originally celebrated in Spain. It is not on the universal calendar, but is still commemorated on December 18 in some places such as SpainPortugalItaly and Poland, as well as in a few religious orders. The Dominicans honor Mary under the title of "Our Lady of the Expectation”.

This Advent, let us ourselves ponder how we can better prepare in this time of waiting. Let us walk with the Mother of God through her pregnancy and labor, welcoming her Child in a new and deeper way into our hearts.

There are many images portraying this mystery for us to meditate on this Advent, so I will make it the focus of these Blogs.


Monday, November 22, 2021

FOOD FOR THE SOUL- THANKSGIVING

 




 

Just in time for Thanksgiving I came across two  books on food for the soul- as well as the kitchen.

 Table of Plenty: Good Food for Body and Spirit (Stories, Reflections, Recipes)

 Table of Plenty invites readers into experiencing meals as a sacred time. Author Susan Muto grew up in an Italian family, with a stay-at-home mother whose love for cooking permeates this book. Her prose is highly descriptive and evocative; one feels as if one is right there in the kitchen with Muto and her mother as they go about preparing a meal. Rich marinara sauce, zesty eggplant, a simple loaf of bread and a spinach salad: each becomes an opportunity for reflection on experiencing the goodness of God through the food we eat and the company we share.The audio edition of this book can be downloaded via Audible.   Stock #: B36687  it is on sale at  Franciscan Media for $3.00

 

Saints at the Dinner Table  by Amy Hyed

I aimed to create recipes that would appeal to most people, would not require a master's in culinary arts to prepare and that would entertain as well as inform. My hope is that you feel inspired too and that this book serves as a friendly guidebook in your own quest to connect with—and even break bread with (as our Christian tradition calls us to do)—some of our most beloved saints! Prepare the meals with your family and bring the saints alive at your dinner table. —from the Introduction


Do you want to reconnect with family and friends and stimulate mealtime talk? Consider hosting dinners for your nearest and dearest and one of twelve saints who inspired award-winning baker and recipe innovator Amy Heyd. In Saints at the Dinner Table Heyd cooks up a delicious menu of meals that all your loved ones will relish. She dedicates each chapter to a saint who in some way inspired her to create original recipes for a complete meal—from salad to main course to dessert. Heyd combines a brief introduction to each saint, a reflection, an inspired menu, a dinner prayer and questions for meaningful dinner discussion. You won't want to wait to serve Saints at the Dinner Table at family dinner nights, book club discussions, parties with a twist and as a special gift for newlyweds, anniversaries, birthdays and more.  At Amazon  or Franciscan Media

 Of course she had to include St. Hildegard, whose recipes we still  have after 800 years, as well as Sts. Margaret of Scotland, her cousin Elizabeth of Hungary and Isadore the farmer.



Saturday, November 20, 2021

EUCHARIST REVIVAL PATRON

 



BLESSED CARLOS ACUTIS (Blogs June 2020 & July 2018 ) will serve as the patron of the first year of a new three-year Eucharistic Revival project the U.S. bishops approved Nov. 17, a designation that entrusts a critical initiative to the intercession of a popular modern Catholic hero known for spreading devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Carlos was beatified on Oct. 10, 2020, in Assisi, Italy

 Carlos, an English-born Italian Catholic who died in 2006 at age 15 shortly after being diagnosed with leukemia, used his technical ability as an amateur computer programmer to share information online about Eucharistic miracles. He is the first Catholic from the Millennial generation to be beatified.

 “The more often we receive the Eucharist, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of heaven."

 That same message is at the heart of the bishops’ Eucharist campaign, which was endorsed Nov. 17 during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual fall assembly in Baltimore.

 Set to officially launch with diocesan Eucharistic processions around the country on June 22, 2022 for the feast of Corpus Christi, the effort will include the creation of a new Eucharistic revival website, the development of new teaching materials, special training for diocesan and parish leaders, a traveling team of Eucharistic preachers, and a host of other initiatives.

 The campaign will culminate with a National Eucharist Congress, the first of its kind in the United States in nearly 50 years, to be held July 17-21 in Indianapolis.

 The bishops’ campaign, which many Catholics view as long overdue, comes at a time when devotion to the Eucharist is lagging among those who identify themselves as Catholic, surveys and other indicators show. 

Bl. Carlos once said;  “By standing before the Eucharistic Christ, we become holy.”


Friday, November 19, 2021

THREE AMERICANS MADE VENERABLE

 


On Nov. 17, the U.S. Catholic bishops voted to advance  the  level of causes of beatification and canonization for Servants of God Charlene Marie Richard, Auguste Robert Pelafigue (See Blog Oct. 2016), and Joseph Ira Dutton (Blog April 2016) to Venerable.

Born in 1888, near Lourdes in France, AUGUSTE ROBERT  PELAFIGUE moved as a toddler with his family to Arnaudville, Louisiana.   He  was called "Nonco" (Uncle)  by those close to him, a nickname  he earned  because he was like a good uncle to everyone who came into his (circle) of influence.

That circle of influence was a large one. A teacher, August joined the faculty of the Little Flower School in Arnaudville, LA as the only lay member after teaching in public school. At the same time, he joined The Apostleship of Prayer, an organization with French roots dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He had a passionate devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 He devoutly attended daily Mass and served wherever he was needed and, with a rosary looped around his arm,  traversed the highways and byways of his community, spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

CHARLENE MARIE RICHARD was born  on Jan. 13, 1947 and was raised in a Louisiana town of the same name: Richard. Growing up, she cherished her family, her Catholic faith, having a special devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux. She also loved basketball. The second of 10 children, she “played Mass” with her brother, John Dale.

In middle school, the young Cajun girl was diagnosed with terminal leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow and lymphatic system. She responded to the illness by offering up her pain and suffering for others.

 Every day, the child asked the priest who ministered to her on her deathbed, “Father, who am I to offer my sufferings for today?”

Charlene died 16 days after her diagnosis on Aug. 11, 1959. She was just 12 years old. Bishop Deshotel who officially opened the cause of canonization for her called her the “little Cajun saint”. 

“I ask the approval of the conference in pursuing this cause of this innocent child who has proven to be an inspiration to all of us in our human condition as we carry the cross of illness,” Bishop Deshotel said. 

JOSEPH IRA DUTTON  was  a Civil War veteran who joined St. Damian of Molokai in his ministry to lepers.   Although he never took religious vows, Joseph was known as "Brother Joseph," a "brother to everybody." On Molokai he found real peace and joy. One peer recalled: "Dutton had a divine temper; nothing could ruffle it."  At 83, Joseph wrote: "I am ashamed to think that I am inclined to be jolly. Often think we don't know that our Lord ever laughed, and here my laugh is ready to burst out any minute."

He never left Molokai; he never wanted to. "Seek a vacation?" he asked. "Anything else would be slavery . . . The people here like me, I think, and I am sure I like them." He added: "I would not leave my lepers for all the money the world might have." The one exception was in 1917, when the 74-year-old patriot tried "to buckle on my sword-belt again" and re-enlist. His application was rejected, but he wasn't heart-broken.

Before his death on March 26, 1931, he said: "It has been a happy place — a happy life."  It had been a restless life until he found happiness among the lepers of Molokai. At the time of his death, the Jesuit magazine America noted: "Virtue is never so attractive as when we see it in action. It has a power to believe that we too can rise up above this fallen nature of ours to a fellowship with the saints."


 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

HUNGARY'S MARTYR


BLESSED ZOLTAN LAJOS MESZLENYI, the second of five children, was born in 1892 in HatvanHungary , into a strong Catholic family. His father was a teacher and a school principal. He attended grammar school in Rimaszombat and began high school at a Protestant institution before moving to Esztergom and finishing at a Benedictine high school in 1909. 

After graduation, his patron the archbishop of Esztergom, Kolos Cardinal Vaszary, OSB, sent him to Rome to continue his education. As a pupil at the Collegium Germanico-Hungaricum, he studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University where he earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1912 and a degree in theology in 1913. He also earned a degree in canon law.

As a citizen of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy’s enemy during World War I, he had to leave Rome during that conflict, which forced him to spend studying some time in Innsbruck. It was there on October 28, 1915, that he received holy orders at the hand of His Lordship Franz Egger, the prince bishop of Brixen (then in Austria, now in Italy).

Upon his return to Hungary, he was appointed chaplain at Komárom, but a few months János Cardinal Csernoch called him later to Esztergom, where the primate’s chancellery entrusted him with more important tasks.

 From 1917 to 1937, he held a variety of progressively important curial posts. Then Pius XI appointed him coadjutor bishop of Esztergom. All throughout this time, he continued his studies in canon law and authored a significant book on the subject and taught it, as well as a member of the Peter Pázmány University theology faculty.

 In 1945, Jozsef Cardinal Mindszenty became the new primate of Hungary, and he confirmed Meszlényi in every one of his offices. Many  know of this heroic and holy cardinal who opposed some of history's worst ideological gangsters. The communist state security apparatus arrested Cardinal Mindszenty on December 26, 1948, and convicted him after an obscene show trial.

                                                                            Cardinal Mindszenty

Bishop Meszlényi then became vicar of the archbishop of Esztergom, first because the chapter recognized his rectitude and firmness, and secondly because they refused to elect Nicholas Beresztóczy, the candidate promoted by the communist state. In his inaugural address as vicar, Bishop Meszlényi said, “Christ – because He is the faithful shepherd of the Faith and our Church – out of loyalty, we will not deny Him ever! So help me God.”

 The communist regime could not forgive him being elected over their own candidate. On June 29, 1950, 12 days after his election, the communists arrested Bl. Zoltán and put him in the Kistarcsa internment camp, where he was kept in solitary confinement and tortured.

 So began eight months of cruel captivity, consisting of starvation and lack of heating. Several witnesses claimed the communists forced him to live during the winter with an open window day and night. These hardships were exacerbated by forced labor and violence and unspeakable torture.

 All the while no charges were brought against Bishop  Meszlényi. He was detained without trial. Furthermore the state machinery gave the public no news about the fate of the arrested bishop. It seems to have also subsequently erased by any documentation related to the arrest, if ever there was any.

Because of the torture and lack of medical care, Bishop Meszlényi died sometime between January 11, 1953, and March 4, 1954.

He was buried in an unmarked grave but exhumed in 1966 and his remains transferred to the cathedral in Esztergom.

 His feast is March 4.