Sunday, November 14, 2010

Feast of St. Serapion

Though the Solemnity of Sunday supercedes the celebration of the Memorial of St. Serapion, it is, nevertheless, a good moment to recall his life, as a great gift to the Church and to the Order of Mercy.... His Feast is November 14.

Irish by birth, Serapion was born around 1179. He enlisted as a soldier in the army of his king, Richard the Lion-Hearted, and later in the company of the Duke of Austria, Leopold VI the Glorious, he enlisted in his squadron to go to Spain to help the Christian army of Alfonso VIII who was fighting Moslems. Once he was in Spain, Serapion decided to stay in the service of the king of Castile to continue fighting to defend the Catholic faith. There, he had the opportunity to meet Peter Nolasco and his brothers who dedicated themselves to the defense of the same faith except that they were not fighting against the Moors. Instead, they were freeing Christian captives from the power of the Moors and they pledged their own lives in this endeavor.
In 1222, Serapion requested and received the Mercedarian habit. He carried out several redemptions. In the last one which he carried out with his redeeming companion Berenguer de Bañeres, Serapion had to remain as a hostage for some captives in danger of renouncing their faith. The other redeemer traveled quickly to Barcelona to look for the ransom money. Peter Nolasco, who was in Montpellier at the time, wrote an urgent letter to his lieutenant Guillermo de Bas asking him to notify all the monasteries to collect alms and to send them immediately to Algiers. But the money for the ransom did not arrive at the stipulated time and the disappointed Moors inflicted an atrocious death on Serapion. They nailed him on an X-shaped cross, like Saint Andrew’s cross and they savagely dismembered him. The barbarian and cruel King of Algiers, Selín Benimarin, was the one who gave the Church and the Mercedarian Order this saintly martyr on November 14, 1240.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Gift of the Word

The Holy See, in recent news, has posted the Holy Father's Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini.  Officially promulgated on the Feast of St. Jerome, to whom we credit the Latin Vulgate, the documents speaks on the need and gift of the ancient prayer form, Lectio Divina. 

It opens with the reading (lectio) of a text, which leads to a desire to understand its true content: what does the biblical text say in itself?Without this, there is always a risk that the text will become a pretext for never moving beyond our own ideas. Next comes meditation(meditatio), which asks: what does the biblical text say to us? Here, each person, individually but also as a member of the community, must let himself or herself be moved and challenged. Following this comes prayer (oratio), which asks the question: what do we say to the Lord in response to his word? Prayer, as petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise, is the primary way by which the word transforms us. Finally, lectio divina concludes with contemplation(contemplatio), during which we take up, as a gift from God, his own way of seeing and judging reality, and ask ourselves what conversion of mind, heart and life is the Lord asking of us? In the Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul tells us: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (12:2). Contemplation aims at creating within us a truly wise and discerning vision of reality, as God sees it, and at forming within us "the mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16). The word of God appears here as a criterion for discernment: it is "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb 4:12). We do well also to remember that the process of lectio divina is not concluded until it arrives at action (actio), which moves the believer to make his or her life a gift for others in charity" (Verbum Domini, 87).  

Once again, praise God, for the gift of His servant, Pope Benedict XVI.  AD MULTOS ANNOS!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans Day

Prayer on Veterans Day 

"Dear Lord Jesus Christ, 
those whom we honor today are examples 
of your words: 
"Greater love than this no one has: 
that he lay down his life for his friends." 

They gave up their lives in the defense of freedom 
for their loved ones and their country. 

Teach me to appreciate the virtue of patriotism -- 
a true and Christian love of country. 
Let me love my country, not to follow it blindly but to make it 
the land of goodness that it should be. 
Let my patriotism be such that it will not exclude 
the other nations of the world, 
but include them in a powerful love of country 
that has room for all others too." 

St. Joseph People's Prayer Book

It is Providential that Veterans' Day would fall on the Feast of St. Martin of Tours -- a soldier and priest -- whose life exemplified the characteristic of sacrifice, duty, honor and love for others.  Through his intercession, O Lord, grant strength to all our Veterans and eternal rest to those who have died. Amen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Problem w/ Reductionism

A reductionist habit of mind will tend to see the whole (i.e., the world of nature, trees, animals, flowers, human beings, etc.) as nothing more than the sum of the parts that make it up. Reductionism goes hand in hand with scientism, which is the view that the only valid knowledge is scientific knowledge of the empiriometric kind (i.e., physics, chemistry, etc.).

Although the reductionist habit of mind makes for good science, it is a flawed method of explaining things ultimately. In other words, it makes for bad philosophy.
Let me begin by making a point about number. Number is multitude, organized and identified and measured by unity. Multitude is plurality, pure and simple, and as such it is unorganized. Think of a continuous extension, like a quantity of milk. To number it, we need a unit, such as a litre. Now, in itself a plurality is unknowable, but it is known only when measured by unity. To reduce a plurality to unity is to number it, and our material world can accordingly be organized into unity. I will return to this.
Consider as well: man has two interiors. The one is physical (i.e., we can look inside his body). But no matter how much we search the physical interior of a man, we will never know what is contained in the other interior (the interior he refers to when he speaks of his "mind" or "heart"). The human being has to manifest it by acting – in this case, speaking. There are also two interiors of any substance, like a carbon atom. The only way to grasp the interior of a carbon atom is to observe how it acts. Its activity reveals its nature. It does not have a conscious interior, like man, but it has a determinate nature. The interior of the atom is not the parts that constitute it. Rather, the interior is the nature of the atom.
But that is just what reductionism denies. Reductionism says that this "thing" is nothing more or other than the parts that make it up. So, there really is no "it". "It" is a word, but "it" is nothing other than parts.
But if I understand "parts", does that not presuppose that I understand "whole"? If I know of the "parts of a thing", does that not presuppose I know "thing"? If I didn't understand "thing", I would not understand "parts of the thing". So, if there is no "thing" or "it", there are no "parts of it". We could not speak of "real parts" if there is no "real whole" or "real thing".
But the reductionist claims that you, as well as anything else, are nothing other than the constituent parts. But what are the parts? The reductionist would say that each part is nothing other than its smaller constituent parts. What is an organ but the cells that make it up? And a cell is nothing other than the parts that make it up, that is, the parts that constitute it.

Of course, we have the same problem. How is it that I am able to grasp the notion of "cell" if the cell is nothing other than those constituent parts that make it up? What is the "it" that is constituted? The answer: the cell. But is the cell a determinate part? Does it terminate into a definite intelligible part of a larger whole? And is the whole thing (i.e., the cat) something determinate, that is, terminated as a definite intelligible whole, a thing in itself? One's answer is either yes, or no.

Consider as well: man has two interiors. The one is physical (i.e., we can look inside his body). But no matter how much we search the physical interior of a man, we will never know what is contained in the other interior (the interior he refers to when he speaks of his "mind" or "heart").
If the answer is yes, then the cell, or the organ, or the cat or man, is more than the multiplicity of parts that constitute it. The parts are reduced to a unity. That unity is called the cell, or the organ, or the man. That unity renders the multiplicity of parts intelligible. A raw multiplicity is unintelligible unless it is reduced to a unity. That is why we number things. An extension, for example, is measured by a unit called a yard. But a yard is numbered by the unit called a foot, which in turn is numbered or reduced to a unit called an inch. Hence, a foot is 12 inches. A number is a measure of quantity. Without a number, the quantity remains unorganized.
A multiplicity does not give itself unity. The unity comes to it from the outside, from outside the multiplicity. A multiplicity considered in itself is not a unit, and a unit is not a multiplicity. A unit is one. An inch terminates or determines an extension, giving it determination (definition, intelligibility). A litre measures or terminates a quantity of liquid. A pound terminates a quantity of weight, allowing us to determine the weight, to know its weight (i.e., this person is 200 pounds, that milk carton is 2 litres, that table is 5 feet, 6 inches, etc.). At this point the plurality is organized into an intelligible quantity.
One may object and claim that it is not true that "a unit is not a multiplicity. A centimetre is made up of millimetres. Hence, a centimetre is a unit, but it is a multiplicity at the same time."
A centimetre, however, is a unit (one one hundredth of a metre) that measures a meter, but because the centimetre is an extension, it too can be measured. To do so, we have to divide it further. A millimetre is one one thousandth of a meter. And so the unit of measure, like the centimetre, is not outside of the multiplicity spatially. Rather, it is outside of "multiplicity", that is, it is not itself a multiplicity, but a measure of multiplicity. As extended, it is a multiplicity that is open to being measured or numbered. To do so, we need a smaller unit of measure, i.e., the millimetre. But the unit allows us to number multiplicity (quantity, or the multiplicity of parts outside of parts). But "one" itself is not a multiplicity. Multiplicity does not number or measure multiplicity, a unit does.
A single cell, similarly, is an intelligible thing. A scientist sees it as a biological unit, certainly a part of a larger whole (the organ), or a whole unto itself, if it is a single celled bacteria. He begins to analyze it and study its constituent parts.
Now, if the answer to the above question ("Is the cell a determinate part?" "Does it terminate into a definite intelligible part of a larger whole?") is no, then the cell is nothing other than "its" constituent parts, i.e., proteins, amino acids, etc. These in turn are ultimately nothing other than atoms of elements, which in turn are nothing other than subatomic particles, which in turn are nothing but smaller subatomic particles, etc.
The result is that "thing" is not anything in itself. It is always other than "itself". A man is not a thing in itself, a dog is not a thing in itself, a flower is not a thing in itself, a single celled organism, like a bacteria, is not a thing in itself, an atom is not a thing in itself, etc.
Everything is other than "itself". There is no "itself". Nothing has any "interior". Nothing is what it is, but is "other than" what it is.
Nothing has any determinacy. Nothing, therefore, is knowable. Everything is unknowable; for we cannot know what is indeterminate.

Once again, science becomes a fiction, a construct. This will mean that science does not uncover the intelligibility of nature, because nature is not intelligible, it is absurd and unknowable. There is nothing in itself to know. And that is why genuine reductionists who take their conclusions to the very end are post-modernists who deny the existence of truth. Man is the measure of what is true and good, even though there is no "man" (no "thing" in itself).

But then one has to ask: "How is it possible to understand change?" Take the concept of evolution. When we speak of evolution, we speak of something evolving. But if there are no "things" in themselves, then "nothing" evolves. I can only understand change when I understand that something enduring has changed in some way, i.e., you sat in the sun and became tanned. Your color changes, but you are the subject of the change that endured. "Tanned" is the predicate (John is tanned). But there is no ‘you', no cell, no organism of a determinate species, so what, therefore, evolves? In other words, change can only be understood against the backdrop of that which endures, that which is unchanging. Reductionism is thus incompatible with evolution.
And so, reductionism leads to the conclusion that categorical propositions are impossible. They are not real. For example: "John is a man" or "the cell divides" are nothing more than linguistic constructs that create the illusion of "thing". The principle of identity as well is a construct, and logic, in the end, can be nothing more than a construct.
The reductionist, however, "reasons" to conclusions from given premises. He says things like: The mind is nothing but the brain, and thinking is nothing but firing neurons, or neural biochemistry, and therefore man is not essentially different than brute animals, etc. Some reductionists, not all, proceed further and will conclude from all this that we should stop treating ourselves as privileged creatures, etc. Notice the reasoning from premises to conclusions, even though logical reasoning, which depends on categorical propositions, is impossible if reductionism is true.
Note also their desire that everyone conform to the fundamental truth that "man is nothing more than…" the truth which does not exist in the first place (since all science is a fiction). The truth is that there is no truth, just constructs. And if that is the case, it would seem that all constructs are equally valid and invalid at the same time (in other words, the principle of non-contradiction is also a construct). Which construct, therefore, is going to prevail? It is the one with the most power behind it.
If we wish, however, to hold on to our common sense and avoid this entirely irrational state of affairs, then let us return to the "yes" alternative above. If the single celled organism, for example, is a thing in itself, what is it that reduces the multiplicity to a unity, a determinate thing or entity that can be studied? It is something outside the multiplicity. One cannot appeal to the parts that make it up. The parts are organized into an intelligible whole (unity). The principle of unity is a principle that is outside the parts, a principle that embraces the whole and determines the parts to be what they are. In other words, we must proceed in the complete opposite direction of reductionism. It is the whole that explains the part or parts. Some principle belongs to the whole organism (or atom or bacterium) that determines it (and all its parts) to be what it is. We are back, once again, to the formal cause.

Deacon Douglas McManaman. "What is wrong with Reductionism?" CERC (November 2010).
Printed with permission of Deacon Douglas McManaman.


Doug McManaman is a Deacon and a Religion and Philosophy teacher at Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy in Markham, Ontario, Canada. He is the past president of the Canadian Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. He maintains the following web site for his students:A Catholic Philosophy and Theology Resource Page, in support of his students. He studied Philosophy at St. Jerome's College in Waterloo, and Theology at the University of Montreal. Deacon McManaman is on the advisory board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.

Copyright © 2010 Douglas McManaman

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

In Memoriam

A blog that I read on a regular basis has posted a link to a video that was taken of the aftermath of the massacre that took place in Baghdad.  WARNING: it is graphic, disheartening, chilling..... But I think it offers a very clear picture and image of what Christians are facing in Middle East.

If you desire to watch the video, please go to Communio.

Happy Feast Day

Today, is the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica -- in Rome.  This is the Pope's Cathedral.  In a particular way, this blog would also like to wish Frs. Matthew and James a Happy Feast Day, as they both finished there STL at the Lateran University.....

Fr. Matthew (left) and Fr James (middle)

Liturgy -- ad orientem

Instead of the usual “Rev. Know it all” this week, I would like to share some reflections on a recent experience. At the end of a conference on the Church Fathers, I said the ordinary form of the Mass, the so called Novus Ordo, in the English language. It was no different from any other Novus Ordo Mass, with one exception.

For the Offertory, Canon and Our Father I faced the altar, not the congregation. I said the opening prayers form the presider’s chair, where I remained for the readings. I wore a microphone as usual. I then read the Creed and the prayers of the faithful, went down to receive the offerings of bread and wine, and then went to the altar directly, not going around behind it. The deacon and I turned to the congregation at the prayer “Pray brethren..” I next turned to the congregation at the sign of peace and then again at the “Lord, I am not worthy...” After the distribution of Holy Communion I returned to the presider’s chair and finished the Mass as usual. The music was very simple, very little organ, mostly plain chant in English, some Latin used in the ordinary parts of the Mass, all prayers and readings in English. I had warned the congregation that I would do this one time only as part of the conference that we were having at the parish. I faced away from the congregation for about 14 of 55 minutes, all told.

I did it as an experiment. I suspect that the Council Fathers of Vatican II never envisioned Mass facing the people. I wanted to know what the Mass of Vatican II would really be like, some English, some Latin, Gregorian chant, unaccompanied singing and a balance of facing toward people when addressing them and facing the altar with them when addressing the Father. I think this is what is called in the rubrics of the Missal when it indicates that the priest should face the people six times during the Mass:

1)When giving the opening greeting (GIRM 124).
2)When giving the invitation to pray at the end of the offertory, "Pray brethren" (GIRM 146).
3)When giving the greeting of peace (GIRM 154).
4) When displaying the Host and Chalice before Communion and saying: "Behold the Lamb of God" (GIRM 157).
5) When inviting the people to pray before the post communion prayer (GIRM 165).
6)When giving the final blessing (Ordo Missae 141).

The fact that these rubrics exist, seems to assume that the priest is facing away from the people at some time during the liturgy.

After Mass, comments were varied. Some people loved it, most didn’t like it, some were infuriated. In particular I got angry fingers in the face, from someone who said that “the Pope had sent a letter to all priests telling them that they had to face the people.” How do you prove something that never happened? Rome has never said anything about having to face the people during Mass. One must do so only six times. It is one of the great mysteries of our times why, overnight, most of the altars in Catholic Churches were turned around.

There had been some experimentation in the 1950's by people like Balthasar Fischer based on the assumption that the first Christians had celebrated Mass with the celebrant facing the congregation. According to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, the custom of facing away from the people originated among the Frankish clergy in around 700 or 800 AD. I would like to know why they write this.

For two reasons, I doubt that the Mass was ever said completely facing the congregation. Facing east, which usually means facing away from the people is the usual posture in liturgical prayer of the Byzantine, Syriac, Armenian, Coptic and Ethiopian traditions. It is still the custom in most of the Eastern rites, at least during the Eucharistic prayer. They have done this from time immemorial and still do. They wouldn’t have changed it just to accommodate the Frankish barbarians of the west, 700 years after Christ. This custom of congregation and clergy facing the same direction in prayer was universal until about 1967. The first Christians were Jews for a century after Pentecost, at least according to sociologist Rodney Stark. Facing a sacred direction and not a congregation was normal in the synagogue services from which the Mass developed. Orthodox Jews still face east, or more precisely toward Jerusalem, away from the congregation for much of the service. It is a natural gesture.

I, however, wish I had not said Mass facing away from the congregation, and not because of the anger directed at me. I am a Catholic priest. I am used to people being angry with me. I wish I had not said Mass in what I believe to be the posture assumed by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, because it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my priestly life. You cannot imagine what it was like to say words like “we” and “our Father” and “us” while standing at the head of a congregation that was turned together in a physical expression of unity. No matter how one might argue to the contrary, it is impossible to say “we” while looking at 500 people and not be speaking to them.

The Mass is a prayer addressed to the Father, and despite our best intentions, we clergy address it to the congregation at whom we are looking. You cannot help it. The human face is a powerful thing. Last Saturday night I realized for the first time that I was part of a family of faith directed toward the same heavenly Father. I felt as if I was part of a church at prayer. It was not my job. It was my church. I never realized how very lonely it is to say Mass facing the people. I am up there looking at you. I am not part of you. For 13 or 14 minutes. You weren’t looking at me. We were looking at God.

I love the Tridentine Mass, or as we are supposed to be calling it now, the “extraordinary form.” I think that the Holy Father has been very wise in allowing its revival for those to whom it is meaningful. Its sense of solemnity is very beautiful and enshrines an essential dimension of the mystery of worship. I taught Latin for about 25 years, I understand the complex rituals of the old Mass. They mean a lot to me. Still, I don’t think that we should return to the exclusive use of Latin. I think the Council Fathers were right to simplify the mass.

The Holy Spirit anticipated the difficulties of our times. The simplification of the complex and beautiful gestures of the Tridentine Mass are entirely appropriate for the times we live in. In the same sense, there should be a pastoral balance between the common language and a “sacred language.” People pray best in their own first language. Remember that Latin was the vernacular when the Mass was in Greek. Latin itself was a concession to the popular mind. This being said, we the clergy should admit that we enshrined the liturgical abuses that were at the heart of the rebellion against tradition. We have become stuck in the 1960's and are unable to look without prejudice at the hemorrhaging of our congregations. We have failed to inspire them with a sense of the sacred and sublime and generations have been lost to the Lord and the Gospel.

I know that most people in my congregation would be offended if I started to face the altar regularly, because they are unaccustomed to it. I would be accused of factionalism or some such crime, so I don’t think that the market will bear it, but from now on every time I say Mass staring at the congregation and they hear Mass staring at my ugly mug, I will remember what could, what should have been. I fear I am as much a performer as a priest. I want to be a priest, but the show must go on.

The Rev. Know it all

Monday, November 8, 2010

Commemoration of All Souls of the Order of Merced

Today, is the Commemoration in the Order of Mercy, of All Souls of the Order.  On this day, like the General Commemoration on November 2, we remember and pray for the deceased Friars, who having fulfilled their mission in this life, have passed on.  It is a truly wholesome and noble duty of the faithful to pray for the dead and to offer sacrifices for the repose of their souls.  Normally, this day, within the Proper Calendar of the Order, would be November 7.  However, following the traditional practice of transferring a Commemoration of the Dead from a Sunday to the following day, this year, the Friars commemorate this day on November 8.

From the beginning, Christians have prayed for the dead and have undertaken works of penance on their behalf. There is scriptural basis for this intercessory prayer for the sins of others and for the dead in the Old Testament. Job's sacrifices purified his sons (Job 1:5); and Judas Maccabeus "made atonement for the dead that they be delivered from their sin" (II Macc 12:46).

The tradition in the Church of having Masses said for the dead began in the earliest times. The pre-Christian Roman religion, which held that some form of life continued after death, gave votive offerings to the gods for the dead at three specified times: the third, seventh and thirtieth day after death. This practice of praying for the departed on these same days was adopted ("inculturated") by the early Christians -- and continued in the Church for nearly 2000 years: the Church offered Masses for the deceased person on the third, seventh and thirtieth day after death.

We pray for the faithful departed, those who have been baptized, but who need to be completely purified of all stain of sin before they come into full union with God in Heaven. In other words, most of us. The Church's teaching about Purgatory, the place of purification, is explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (§1030-1032):
"All who die in god's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter heaven.
"The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:
"As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.
"This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: 'Therefore [Judas Maccabeus' made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.' From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almogiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:
"Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them. - St. John Chrysostom, 4th century

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Feast of All Saints of the Order of Mercy

Happy Feast Day to all!!!

The question that arises... haven't we already celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints?  Yes!!  But, today, in the Order of Mercy, the friars commemorate the Feast of All Saints of the Order.  This was/is a common practice among various Orders, in that during the Month of November, usually during the former octave of All Saints, that a Feast be celebrated remembering the saints of the particular community.  Thus, the Augustinians have a day set aside to celebrate the Saints of their community.  Furthermore, this year, on November 8, the Order will remember the Souls of the Order.....

Like, the general Solemnity, this Feast allows for us to reflect upon the gift and grace of holiness, exemplified in the lives of the Friars and Nuns of the Order... those lives not too well known to us, but certainly alive in the mind of God.  In their great gift of prayer and sacrifice, the Faith of the Church and the souls of Her Children, were strengthened and renewed in the practice of the Faith.  The Order is proud to profess and acclaim the many martyrs, who, though not officially recognized by the Church, still in the course of time have given a clear witness to the love and Passion of Christ.  The Order is proud to acclaim the many friars and nuns, who spent their lives in prayer and daily living of the Rule and Constitutions and gave a silent testimony to holiness in this world.

Let us pray for a greater awareness of our Mercedarian Saints and for the grace to be like these men and women, to gave of themselves completely for Christ, through Our Lady's hands.

St. Peter Nolasco, pray for us. St. Peter Paschasius, pray for us. St. Raymond Nonnatus, pray for us. St. Serapion Scott, pray for us. St. Peter Armengol, pray for us. St. Mary Cervellon, pray for us. Blessed Mary Ann of Jesus, pray for us. Blessed Marguerita Maturanna, pray for us. Blessed Juan Nepumoceno Zegri, pray for us.  All Mercedarian Saints and Martyrs, pray for us.

Friday, November 5, 2010

First Friday

"And He showed me that it was His great desire of being loved by men and of withdrawing them from the path of ruin into which Satan hurls such crowds of them, that made Him form the design of manifesting His Heart to men, with all the treasures of love, of mercy, of grace, of sanctification and salvation which it contains, in order that those who desire to render Him and procure for Him all the honor and love possible, might themselves be abundantly enriched with those divine treasures of which this Heart is the source.
He should be honored under the figure of this Heart of flesh, and its image should be exposed...He promised me that wherever this image should be exposed with a view to showing it special honor, He would pour forth His blessings and graces. This devotion was the last effort of His love that He would grant to men in these latter ages, in order to withdraw them from the empire of Satan which He desired to destroy, and thus to introduce them into the sweet liberty of the rule of His love, which He wished to restore in the hearts of all those who should embrace this devotion."..... "The devotion is so pleasing to Him that He can refuse nothing to those who practice it."

--from Revelations of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Feast of St. Charles Borromeo

Today, for our seminarians, it is a special day of celebrating and calling to mind the example of St. Charles Borromeo.  This man, coming from a world of utter privilege, chose, instead, to sacrifice the comforts of this life and embrace the cross of following Christ, in love.  What is particularly interesting about the life of this Saint, is that it closely mirrors that of a Mercedarian.  St. Charles was an avid preacher and defender of the Truths of the Faith, in the face of Protestant opposition.  Being one of the keen minds in the writing of the Catechism and the development of formal institutions of priestly formation, Borromeo recognized that the fidelity of living the Faith depended heavily, if not solely, on the cooperation of the priests in the work of grace, in handing on solid formative and catechetical teaching.

Our seminarians study at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, PA.  Thus, today, there is a solemn Mass with the Cardinal Archbishop of Philadelphia, Justin Rigali.  Those priests who have graduated from "the Brook" know what the festivities entail.  Please keep the seminarians in your prayers as they strive to model the fidelity and witness of Charles Borromeo, especially those seminarians who will receive Candidacy for Holy Orders.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Souls Day


Novena for the Holy Souls in Purgatory
This Novena, written by St. Alphonsus Liguori, has different prayers for each of the 9 days, followed by the Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory which is at the bottom of the section. 

First Day:
Jesus, my Saviour I have so often deserved to be cast into hell how great would be my suffering if I were now cast away and obliged to think that I myself had caused my damnation. I thank Thee for the patience with which Thou hast endured me. My God, I love Thee above all things and I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee because Thou art infinite goodness. I will rather die than offend Thee again. Grant me the grace of perseverance. Have pity on me and at the same time on those blessed souls suffering in Purgatory. Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory below 

Second Day:

Woe to me, unhappy being, so many years have I already spent on earth and have earned naught but hell! I give Thee thanks, O Lord, for granting me time even now to atone for my sins. My good God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. Send me Thy assistance, that I may apply the time yet remaining to me for Thy love and service; have compassion on me, and, at the same time, on the holy souls suffering in Purgatory. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory below 

Third Day:

My God! because Thou art infinite goodness, I love Thee above all things, and repent with my whole heart of my offenses against Thee. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me, and, at the same, on the holy souls suffering in Purgatory. And thou, Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory below 

Fourth Day:

My God! because Thou art infinite goodness, I am sorry with my whole heart for having offended Thee. I promise to die rather than ever offend Thee more. Give me holy perseverance; have pity on me, and have pity on those holy souls that burn in the cleansing fire and love Thee with all their hearts. O Mary, Mother of God, assist them by thy powerful prayers.

Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory below 

Fifth Day:

Woe to me, unhappy being, if Thou, O Lord, hadst cast me into hell; for from that dungeon of eternal pain there is no deliverance. I love Thee above all things, O infinite God and I am sincerely sorry for having offended Thee again. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me, and, at the same time, on the holy souls suffering in Purgatory. O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory below 

Sixth Day:

My Divine Redeemer, Thou didst die for me on the Cross, and hast so often united Thyself with me in Holy Communion, and I have repaid Thee only with ingratitude. Now, however, I love Thee above all things, O supreme God; and I am more grieved at my offences against Thee than at any other evil. I will rather die than offend Thee again. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me, and, at the same time, on the holy souls suffering in Purgatory. Mary, Mother of God, come to their aid with thy powerful intercession.

Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory below 

Seventh Day:

God, Father of Mercy, satisfy this their ardent desire! Send them Thy holy Angel to announce to them that Thou, their Father, are now reconciled with them through the suffering and death of Jesus, and that the moment of their deliverance has arrived.

Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory below 

Eighth Day:

Oh my God! I also am one of these ungrateful beings, having received so much grace, and yet despised Thy love and deserved to be cast by Thee into hell. But Thy infinite goodness has spared me until now. Therefore, I now love Thee above all things, and I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. I will rather die than ever offend Thee. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance. Have compassion on me and, at the same time, on the holy souls suffering in Purgatory. Mary, Mother of God, come to their aid with thy powerful intercession.

Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory below 

Ninth Day:

My God! How was it possible that I, for so many years, have borne tranquilly the separation from Thee and Thy holy grace! O infinite Goodness, how long-suffering hast Thou shown Thyself to me! Henceforth, I shall love Thee above all things. I am deeply sorry for having offended Thee; I promise rather to die than to again offend Thee. Grant me the grace of holy perseverance, and do not permit that I should ever again fall into sin. Have compassion on the holy souls in Purgatory. I pray Thee, moderate their sufferings; shorten the time of their misery; call them soon unto Thee in heaven, that they may behold Thee face to face, and forever love Thee. Mary, Mother of Mercy, come to their aid with thy powerful intercession, and pray for us also who are still in danger of eternal damnation.

Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory below 

Prayer to Our Suffering Saviour for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemani, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord. 

(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here) 

Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.