Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Doings in the Lives of the several Friaries

This has been an eventful week for the Order of Mercy in the United States. In Cleveland, our friary at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, recently, celebrated its annual Italian Festival and the Feast of the Title and Patroness, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. It was, indeed, a great privilege for the local community and for the wider parish community to celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, twice. On the actual Feast, July 16th, there was offered a Solemn High Mass, Extraordinary Form. Fr. Michael Donovan, O. de M., who teaches Catholic Doctrine in the parish grade school, was the Celebrant; Fr. Bede, O.S.B, was the Deacon; Bro. David M. Spencer, O. de M., the newest addition to the local community of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, functioned as the subdeacon. The Schola from the neighboring parish of St. Stephen's, sang the Missa Cum Iubilo. 

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti....

Credo in unum Deum....

The following day, Sunday, July 17th, the External Solemnity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, in the Ordinary Form, was celebrated with the utmost grandeur and solemnity. (pictures will hopefully follow)..... Fr. Richard Rasch, O. de M., pastor and Vicar-Provincial of the United States, was the celebrant; Fr. Michael Donovan gave the homily, and other priests of the Order of Mercy were concelebrants. The Brothers and novices joined in the festivities, as well as the Mercedarian Sisters of the Most Blessed Sacrament. After the Mass, as is the custom of the parish, there was a neighborhood 'Procession of the Saints'. The Procession moved from the church winding through the streets of the neighborhood with an Italian band playing in honor of the Holy Virgin. The faithful approached the images of the saints and the Virgin and offered a donation, which was then pinned to a ribbon hanging upon the image. The Rosary was prayed and fireworks were launched, three times, ALL in the honor of our Patroness, the Virgin of Carmel.

(l to r: Bro. Scottston, Bro. David, Fr. Tony, Bro. Daniel)

The Procession on Fr. Caruso Dr.

The Holy Virgin. As she was carried out of the church the Italian Brass band played the National Anthem. As soon as she was placed on the float, the faithful began to pin money to her image.

The heat of the midday sun did not keep the people from honoring the Blessed Mother.

St. Anthony, a favorite devotion amongst the Italian people

Friars and Sisters chatting

At three points along the procession, there were fireworks launched in honor of the Holy Virgin. This was the first stop. Various families compete with one another for the "best" fireworks -- all for Her honor and glory.



In other news, the friars in Philadelphia will soon welcome the new Archbishop of Philadelphia -- the 13th bishop and 9th Archbishop, His Excellency, Charles Chaput, OFM Cap. Our prayers go with him and with the brothers in Philadelphia.

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, qui in diebus suis, placuit Deo....

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Words to Ponder....

Give our day where there is an outright opposition to the Truth qua Fullness of Truth:

"He who denies Tradition its character and source, loses the accurate reality of the Scripture. He who renders relative the one also relativizes the other. And this minimization of Tradition is a great obstacle to perceiving in all its fullness and depth, what God has been gracious enough to reveal to us.

‎But there is one consoling truth: even if someone denies a truth such as that of the two sources manifesting the revelation of the unique Source, that does not mean that this man is not affected... positively or negatively by the truth carried all the way to him by the immutable unity of Tradition and Holy Scripture. It is like the man who would deny or hate God: he would none the less be living thanks to the Wisdom, Omnipotence and Goodness of God."

- Cardinal Joseph Siri, Gethsemane

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Suffering of the Church in China continues....

Courtesy of AFP
BEIJING — Chinese Catholics said Tuesday that three bishops had gone missing or been detained in an apparent attempt to force them to take part in a state-sanctioned ordination.
Workers at three dioceses in southern China's Guangdong province told AFP their bishops had disappeared in a move that appeared to be linked to a state-sanctioned ordination due to take place in a nearby city on Thursday.
The Vatican and Beijing have not had formal diplomatic ties since 1951 and tensions between the two have risen considerably over the issue of state-sanctioned ordinations.
China's 5.7 million Catholics are increasingly caught between showing allegiance to the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) that controls the state-backed church, or to the Pope as part of an "underground" Church.
The three bishops -- Liao Hongqing of Meizhou, Su Yongda of Zhanjiang and Gan Junqiu of Guangzhou -- were loyal to the Pope, according to a report from the Catholic news agency AsiaNews.
The report said a fourth bishop, Joseph Junqi of Guangzhou, was also missing, although a local source told AFP he was attending the ordination voluntarily.
A Meizhou church member who refused to be named told AFP Liao was "taken away" by police "because he is being forced to participate in the ordination."
Su, meanwhile, was detained on Sunday by local religious bureau officials, while Gan has not been seen for a week, other church members said.
Liu Bainian, vice head of the CPCA, said he had not heard of this.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said he had no knowledge of the bishops' disappearance, adding that China's Catholic community ordained bishops "in accordance with the principles of independence, self-reliance and self-governance."
"This is a vivid demonstration of the freedom of religious belief," he told reporters at a regular briefing.
Earlier in July, the Holy See excommunicated an "illegitimate" Chinese bishop and in May the Pope called on all bishops to "refuse to take the path of separation" in spite of "pressure" from the communist authorities.
But China has ignored these appeals and announced last month it hoped to ordain 40 bishops "without delay".

It is a matter of Christian charity and duty that we pray for the suffering faithful in China. Particularly, as ones imbued with a Mercedarian spirituality, the suffering of Christendom throughout the world is a moment of immense sadness and a point of tremendous grace.

Pray to Our Lady of China

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Solemn Vows, Part II

Below is the homily given by Fr. Francesco Podda, Provincial Secretary for the Roman Province, on the occasion of the Solemn Profession of Bros. James and Scott.

Bros James and Scott in procession.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today we celebrate together two men whom the Church has always viewed as her columns: St. Peter and St. Paul. Christ chose both of them, even though in different ways, to follow him and be committed to the duty to continue his mission of preaching the Gospel of salvation and the forgiveness of the sins in his name.
This feast allows us to reflect on the mystery of vocation. Who were these men? Were they special or better than the others? Did Jesus have any human reason for choosing them?
If we read the Gospel we discover that the only reason of their calling is the mysterious and gratuitous will of the Father, who shows his strength through human weakness, as St. Paul will later write of reflecting on his own vocation.
In fact Peter was a simple fisherman, son of a fisherman, generous, impulsive, sometimes overconfident, and at the same time fearful until disowning Christ. But he was also humble, conscious of his sin and capable to weep bitterly for having betrayed his Lord.
Paul was a scribe lover and slave of the law, who was present at the martyrdom of St. Steven, the first martyr of the Church. He was going to Damascus to seek and kill the Christians when Jesus called Paul in a mysterious way, made him an apostle and sent him to announce the Gospel to the gentiles.
Both of them gave their lives for the Gospel and for remained faithful to Jesus. Both of them were martyred in Rome. They were so different and yet united by the same vocation to follow the Lord so closely and worthy to receive the same destiny of their Master Jesus Christ.
This feast is a favorable opportunity to reflect on one’s vocation, most of all because today two other men are going to confirm their wish to follow Christ forever. The profession of solemn vows is the definitive yes that Br. James and Br. Scott give to the divine call they have heard and followed with faith and trust in Jesus.
They are going to proclaim before the Church, represented by this liturgical assembly, their resolute intention to follow Christ as religious and as mercedarians.
What does it mean to be religious and to be mercedarian?
First of all we should remember the source of the vocation. Jesus reminded his disciples that they did not choose him, but He chose them. These brothers are here because they heard the voice of Christ calling them to follow him in this particular way, as religious. Nobody should think that to be a religious or a priest is a simple human project. The vocation to the religious life or to the priesthood is a gift of the Lord, and the one who is called can only accept this gift and answer “yes” as the Virgin Mary did, but nobody can presume to be a religious or a priest if not called by Jesus.
The main purpose of the religious life is to be a sign of the presence of Christ among men and to help them to meet him. In particular the religious life is to make visible the way of life Jesus adopted when he lived as a man in this world.
This is the significance of the vows. They are not the sacrifice of the good things of life, such as getting married, to having and using property or possessions, or realizing personal project.
The religious vows should be a clear sign of the way of life of Christ, who didn’t get married, so to be free to love God and mankind until giving up his life for them. He did not have a place to rest his head, so to remind us of God’s love, who nourishes the birds of the sky and takes care of every creature. He didn’t have any personal project, but his food was to accomplish the will of the Father.
We are religious not to pursue a personal perfection, but to be a sign of the heavenly kingdom for all of God’s people as the Second Vatican Council reminds us: “The profession of the evangelical counsels … appears as a sign which can and ought to attract all the members of the Church to an effective and prompt fulfillment of the duties of their Christian vocation. The people of God have no lasting city here below, but look forward to one that is to come”.
All the religious make the three vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, but we as mercedarian have also another vow that we call the fourth vow, and I believe it is the first and the most important, because it affects also the particular way by which we live the other vows.
This fourth vow is the vow of redemption that expresses our specific charism. Our father and founder St. Peter Nolasco, inspired by the Virgin Mary of Mercy founded our Order for visiting and freeing those Christians who were in captivity and in the power of the enemies of Jesus Christ, and as in the first Consitutions of the Order, St. Peter Nolasco established that all the brothers of the Order, as sons of true obedience, must always be gladly disposed to give up their lives, if it necessary, as Jesus gave up his life for us.
We the mercedarians still consecrate ourselves to God by this special vow, by virtue of which we promise to give up our lives, as Christ gave his life for us, in order to save those Christians who find themselves in extreme danger of losing their faith by new forms of captivity.
Only if we are free, we may be ready to free our brothers and sisters, at the cost of our life, and the other three vows we profess help us to be always free and ready to give up our life.
This is what Br. James and Br. Scott are doing with the profession of solemn vows. We can imagine how difficult the mission could be, because, like Peter and Paul, and like each of us who have made this profession before them, they are simple men whom the mysterious and gratuitous will of the Father called to surrender their lives into his hands, so to become instruments of salvation, to bring freedom to those who are enslaved by the evil one.
Today we accompany them with our prayer, asking for them the same generosity that brought St. Peter and St. Paul to give up their lives for Christ.
Dear James and Scott, may God who began this good work in you, by the intercession of St. Peter Nolasco, and with the maternal protection of our Most Holy Mother of Mercy bring it to fulfillment.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Solemn Profession of Vows

On June 29th, two of our American friars professed their Solemn Vows, at the Mercedarian parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, Philadelphia, thus definitively uniting them to the Order of Mercy. It was a momentous occasion for the Vicariate in the USA, the Roman Province, the Order throughout the world, and, indeed, the entire Universal Church. Fr. Francesco Podda, Provincial Secretary of the Roman Province, receive the vows of our two Brothers, James Chia and Scottston Brentwood. In attendance, as witnesses to the vows, were Very Rev. Fr. Richard Rasch, Vicar-Provincial of the USA Vicariate and Fr. Matthew Phelan, Master of Students. The other friars throughout the United States were also present to witness this grace-filled moment. 

(Photo courtesy of William Stover)

Please keep our brothers in your prayers as they now, at some point in time to be determined, may be advanced to Sacred Orders. Furthermore, keep our brother-students in your prayers, as well, that in God's time they, too, might make public profession of Solemn Vows.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Marriage in NY

Officially, last night, the Governor of NY signed a law enacting legal protections to same-sex unions. This marks the first Ecclesiastical Province in the United States, wherein the Order of Mercy resides and carries out its ministry, in which the attack on marriage has come to this point. Here is the message from the Catholic Conference of New York.

Statement of the Bishops of New York State
The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled.
We strongly uphold the Catholic Church’s clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love. But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves. This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths.

We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization.

Our society must regain what it appears to have lost – a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America’s foundational principles.
+Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
+Howard J. Hubbard
Bishop of Albany
+Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn
+Edward U. Kmiec
Bishop of Buffalo
+Terry R. LaValley
Bishop of Ogdensburg
+Matthew H. Clark
Bishop of Rochester
+William F. Murphy
Bishop of Rockville Centre
+Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop of Syracuse

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Titular Feast of the Roman Province

Happy Feast of the Visitation of Mary. Today, marks the titular Feast of the Roman Province, of the Order of Mercy. It is particularly a beautiful feast for the friars as it embodies the quintessential Marian dimension to "visiting" the captive Christians. Truly, Our Blessed Mother -- the first monstrance, carrying the Body and Blood of Jesus -- visited her kinswoman, Elizabeth, who came to sure belief in the Redeemer and in the "Mother of my Lord."

Truly, the charism of the Order of Mercy is a above-all a charism of true caritas - that selfless love of our brethren to the point of death, if necessary. This same caritas impelled the Blessed Mother to go "in haste" to see her cousin, bringing the Gospel to her. By her very being, full of grace, she is the first evangelist and missionary, whose actions bespeak of an interiority like no other and yet an interiority to which we are called to emulate. Mary did not simply 'visit' her cousin in the common sense we know -- namely, stop in for a brief period of chatting and catching up on old times. Rather, she stayed for an extended period of time, working and giving of herself in service to one who was in need. 

Mary, model of perfect charity, and VISITOR to the captive, pray for us!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Post Retreat and other news

The Mercedarian Students of the U.S. Vicariate completed their annual retreat last Thursday and celebrated the completion of graduate studies of Bros. James and David, as well as the final days of postulancy for Michael Bowes and Josiah Ross. Both of these men -- Michael and Josiah -- will spend some time with their families before they are invested in the habit and begin the novitiate. Please keep them in your daily prayers.

The retreat for the simply professed and for the two postulants was marked by the theme of Bl. John Paul II and his understanding -- theologically and philosophically -- of religious life. Particularly poignant, given the recent events in the life of the Church, the brothers were privileged to have Fr. Eugene Costa, O. de M., Novice Master, as the Retreat Master.

Thanks to: CNA
Catholic man finishes run across America with deepened faith
By Kevin J. Jones

.- Jeff Grabosky has completed his 3,700-mile run across America, an endeavor he says gave him a new perspective on America and on his Catholic faith.
“It feels beyond awesome. It’s still sinking in, but it’s an amazing and almost indescribable feeling,” he told CNA May 23, two days after his finish at Smith Point in Long Island, New York.
“The feeling that I had at the end of that run was of such fulfillment and satisfaction that I had done well. I had lived my life through that run with faith and with the intent of helping others.
“If I could extend what I did during my run and translate that into the rest of my life, then I think that my life will truly be a success”
Grabosky, a 28-year-old native of New Jersey, decided to run across the country to inspire others and to use his talents to serve God. He received prayer intentions from others and prayed for them on his Rosary ring while he ran. He estimated he prayed 35,000 Hail Marys during a journey that began on January 20 in Oceanside, Calif.
“My faith has only been deepened by this experience and has made me want to be a better person on so many different levels,” he explained.
He thinks he “definitely” would not have finished if it wasn’t for his own faith and prayer and the prayers of others on his behalf.
He took inspiration from his mother, who died of cancer in 2006. She too was a runner who prayed the Rosary during her runs.
Grabosky said that although he faced physical problems and bad weather, his biggest challenge was to stay “focused and positive” in times of difficulty.
“I think that’s really where the faith and the prayer aspect came in and helped get me through every time,” he said.
He described the best part of his run as “just being able to stay focused in prayer.”
His prayers bore fruit.
“It was amazing. Anytime I needed something, it showed up just when I needed it. A place to stay, water, food… I certainly had to do my part, but it never got to the point where I was out of options.
“God was walking with me every step. And just when I couldn’t do any more he stepped in and took care of me.”
Grabosky said his most memorable encounters were with people he otherwise would never have met.
“The media portrays America as being selfish and money-driven, and everything that goes along with that stereotype. But from my experience, it’s exactly the opposite. Everyone was so kind and generous and wanted to help out in any way they could,” he recalled. “It was surprising. Even the people who obviously didn’t have much were some of the most willing to give what they had.
“That’s really made me want to be a better person and be more generous with the blessings that I have.”
Construction workers would simply walk up to Grabosky and give him money. He also learned the stories and struggles of hitchhikers, like one man traveling to see his sick mother.
“He was getting money for food and motels by singing poetry he had written at places like Wal-Mart parking lots,” Grabosky said, adding that his run has given him “a whole different perspective.”
The harshest leg of his route took place in the Texas panhandle between Dimmitt and Tulia. He had expected a windy day, but Grabosky had not considered what the wind would do to the surrounding fields covered in loose dirt.
Feeling a gust, he looked up to see “a huge wall of dirt and dust” which he could not outrun. He tied his bandana to his face and kept running through the sustained winds of 40 mph.
Hours later, he ended the day with bits of dirt in his teeth, rings of dirt around his eyes, and his supplies covered in filth.
Grabosky spoke to several groups during his trip: a school in Phoenix, medical students in St. Louis, and participants in the University of Notre Dame’s Holy Half-Marathon 10k.
The runner, a Notre Dame graduate, also stopped to pray at the school’s famous Marian Grotto.
The most rewarding part of the trip, he said, was hearing people tell him that he has encouraged them in their lives and their faith.
Now that he has finished his trans-continental run, Grabosky is praying to learn what God wants him to do next. He would like to stay involved in running, perhaps as a coach, or he could take a position with “a more Catholic focus.”
The runner is also considering turning his run journal into a book.
Those interested can read more about Jeff Grabosky’s run at: http://jeffrunsamerica.com.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Recent News; Forgotten Realities

The global reach and contribution of the Church is enormous, but the national impact of the Church on every aspect of society is also impressive, though largely unknown. In the United States alone the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students everyday, at a cost of ten billion dollars a year to parents and parishes. If there were no Catholic schools these same students would have to be educated in public schools, which would cost 18 billion dollars. The Catholic education system alone saves American taxpayers 18 billions dollars a year.

Beyond our national and global impact, the local contribution Catholics make in every community, on a daily basis, is nothing short of remarkable. Every city and town has its own stories.... In Chicago, there are hundreds of Catholic organizations that serve the needs of the people of that city. One of those organizations is Catholic Charities. This year the local chapter of Catholic Charities in Chicago will provide 2.2 million free meals to hungry and the needy in that area. That's 6,027 meals a day -- just one small example of our enormous contribution.

We have spent more than two billion dollars settling lawsuits, but we have not spent a single dime on any special initiative to encourage Catholics in America to continue to explore the beauty of their faith. We have not spent a dime reminding the culture at large of the enormous contributions we make to society as a Church. We have not spent a dime inspiring Catholics at a time when more are disillusioned about their faith and the Church than perhaps ever before. And that is a tragedy.

Matthew Kelly, Rediscovering Catholicism 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Vigil of St. Peter Nolasco

Today, the Order observes a day of penance in preparation for the Solemnity of our holy father, Peter Nolasco. Please unite your prayers with our own for the work and apostolate of the Order.

St. Peter Nolasco, father and founder of the Mercedarian Order, pray for us.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

St. Peter Armengol

Yesterday, April 27, would have seen the celebration of the Feast of St. Peter Armengol. However, because it is the Octave of Easter, his feast day is suppressed. Nevertheless, his story and witness to Christ are applicable and apropos.

Saint Peter Armengol is a model of confidence. His life inspires everyone who, amid the crisis of the modern world, needs special graces from Our Lady to remain completely faithful.

From Gangster to Convert

Peter Armengol was born in Guardia dels Prats, a small village in the archdiocese of Tarragon, Spain in 1238. He belonged to the noble house of the barons of Rocafort, descendants of the counts of Urgel, whose ancestors were directly linked to the counts of Barcelona and the monarchs of Aragon and Castile. 

Despite the great care taken by his parents regarding his education, young Peter gave himself over to a life of total dissipation, vice and caprice. “Abyssus abyssum invocat” (Deep calleth on deep), say the Scriptures. Thus Peter joined a gang of criminals who, pursued by Justice, led the life of bandits in the mountains. Soon, young Armengol became the leader of that gang.

On account of his son’s bad behaviour, Arnold Armengol de Moncada moved to the kingdom of Valencia, recently conquered from the Moors by King Jaime.  This monarch had to embark on a trip to Montpellier in order to meet with the King of France on matters of interest to both crowns. To travel safely, he commissioned Arnold to go before him and rout the assailants who often robbed and killed travellers in the Pyrenees region.

At the most dangerous part of the journey, the retinue of the noble Spaniard saw itself surrounded by brigands. Arnold, with his troops, rushed at them, wounding some and apprehending others. He spurred his horse forward with sword in hand and urged his men to defeat the leader of the bandits. Indeed, Arnold himself was the first to engage the leader in hand-to-hand combat. Suddenly, grief came upon both noble and brigand, when they discovered their identity.  Bathed in tears, Peter prostrated himself at the feet of his father, delivered his sword and, with it, his heart.

Penance for His Misdeeds

Filled with shame, the repentant youth retired to a Mercedarian monastery in Barcelona. With an ardent desire to repair the injuries done to God, he become a monk in that religious order founded by Saint Peter Nolasco to ransom Catholics captured by the Mohammedans. He requested the habit with such insistence and gave such conclusive proofs of his vocation that he was received into the Mercedarian Order by the Venerable William de Bas, the French-born successor of the holy founder.

The disorderly passions were now conquered by Peter Armengol in religious life. He understood how to subdue them with such promptitude, through penance, mortification of the senses and continual prayer, that even before he reached the end of his novitiate he had managed to subject them to the dominion of his will and reason.

During the eight years of his profession, he was entrusted with the important task of dealing directly with the ransom of captives. He carried out this function in the provinces of Spain that were still in the power of the Saracens. Nonetheless, his greatest desire was to go to Africa and become a captive for the ransom of Christians.

On an expedition to that continent, he arrived in Bugia in the company of Friar William Florentino. There they ransomed 119 captives without any incident. However, before departing, Friar Armengol learned of a prison with 18 children who, impelled by the threats of punishments of the barbarous Mohammedans, remained in danger of denying the Faith. The religious happily offered himself as hostage for the ransom of the innocent captives. His release was promised in exchange for a stipulated sum.  But, if the payment did not arrive within the set time, he would suffer harsh punishments. Divine Providence had disposed that this man of God would thus give proof of his special confidence in the omnipotent mediation of the Blessed Virgin, to whom he was deeply devoted.

Flaming Torch of Confidence

In captivity, Friar Armengol worked prodigies of charity among the infidels, converting many by the efficacy of his preaching. The time prescribed for the delivery of the money came and passed without the payment being made.  The infidels threw him in prison and even denied the food necessary for his sustenance, but Our Lord, by means of His angels, miraculously provided for his survival.

Tired of tormenting him, the Moors conspired to take his life. They accused him of blaspheming Mohammed and of being a spy sent by the Christian kings, thus raising the ire of the Saracen Judge who condemned Friar Peter to death by hanging.

When everything seemed lost, Friar Armengol prayed to Our Lady and confided in her.

The unjust execution was carried out and Peter’s body was left hanging from the gallows. The Moors wanted his corpse to feed birds of prey.  Thus, the holy man’s body remained suspended. Six days had elapsed when Friar William arrived with the ransom money. Learning what had happened, he went with great sorrow, in the company of some captives, to see the lamentable sight. Reaching the site of the execution, he noticed that the body did not emit a bad odour, but rather exhaled a heavenly fragrance. To their astonishment, Friar Armengol spoke, telling them that the Blessed Mother saved his life. Astounded by the stupendous miracle, some pagans converted to the Catholic religion.

Conversation with the Queen of Angels

Learning of the portentous miracle, Barcelona impatiently awaited the return of the unconquerable martyr of Jesus Christ. In the city, they received him with great joy, escorting him from the port to his monastery, giving thanks to Our Lord for His marvels. The religious wanted to hear from Friar Peter’s mouth what had happened, but despite their earnest pleas, he would not speak. Finally, the superior ordered him to tell all that had occurred.  Obedient, the man of God spoke: “The Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our own mother, asked her Most Holy Son to conserve my life; having obtained this favour, this same sovereign Queen sustained me with her most holy hands, so that the weight of my body would not hang upon the rope by which I was suspended.”

For the rest of his life, Friar Armengol had a twisted neck and a pale completion, authentic signs of what had taken place. He retired to the monastery of Our Lady de los Prados, where he practiced heroic virtue and spent his days in familiar conversation with the Queen of Angels, whom he loved so dearly with filial devotion.

Recalling the miracle of his hanging, he frequently told the religious of the monastery of this marvel: “Believe me, my dear brothers, that I do not believe myself to have lived except for those few but most happy days when, hanging from the gallows, I was held to be dead.”

He rendered his soul to God on April 27, 1304. Our Lord deigned to give proofs of the glorification of His servant with seven miracles, the cures of three men and four women, even before his death. On March 28, 1686 Pope Innocent the XI approved the public cult to the saint and, in the eighteenth century, Pope Benedict XIV inscribed Saint Peter Armengol in the Roman Martyrology.

The Tomb of the Saint

Today the remains of Saint Armengol can be found in Guardia dels Prats. The small village still preserves much of its medieval character: tortuous, narrow stone-studded streets; buildings that recall old palaces or noble residences; and a charming Romanesque–style church.

The body of Saint Peter Armengol was preserved incorrupt until 1936. During the Spanish Civil War, however, communist marauders invaded and sacked the church, carrying off his venerable body to the public square where they burned it.  Some children gathered up what they could of these ashes and took the precious remains to their homes, where their mothers kept them with great care. Later, after the communists were vanquished, the precious relics were returned to the church, where they are kept in a reliquary over the main altar – largely forgotten by “progressive” Catholics – in silent testimony of the sanctity of the Catholic Church and Christian Civilisation.

In our times of profound moral crisis, let us ask Saint Armengol to obtain for us before the throne of God, graces of unbending fidelity, unwavering hope and heroic confidence in the powerful intercession of Our Lady.

Source: Cf. Abbe Rohrbacher, Histoire Universelle de l'Eglise Catholique, vol. 20, Gaume Freres Libraires, Paris, 1845, pp. 40-43.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Redemption through Confession

On this day, where we hear the story of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel, a bit from the diary of S. Faustina Kowalska:
When you go to Confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flow down upon your soul and ennoble it. Every time you go to Confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden in the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls. The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls. (1602)
“Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy. There the greatest miracles take place (and) are incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of My representative and to reveal to him one’s misery and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no (hope of) restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! You will call out in vain, but it will be too late.(1448)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy Feast of the Annunciation

Today, prophecy has been fulfilled. The Messiah has become incarnate; Redemption is at hand. Audit et suscipit Puella nuntium; Credit, et concepit, et parit filium, sed admirabilem.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Of Liturgical Interest

Hierarchical Divine Liturgy -- March 20, 2011.

thanx to http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday, Second Week of Lent

Forgive me, readers, for the absence over the last few weeks. Life in the monastery has been incredibly busy and I have been unable to set aside even the smallest amount of time for the blog.... However, I am regrouping and attempting to get back into a daily, if not semi-daily, posting of some reflection.

Today, I came upon a meditation written by Fr. Ronald Check, priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He wrote this last year and I found it particularly apropos for our time now. As you read this, pray for, Father, and offer a small sacrifice for his intentions.

Our first reading today begins with these words,"Lord, great and awesome God, you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you and observe your commandments! We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws." (Daniel 9:4b -5) And the reading continues with a great acknowledgement of sin. Most spiritual writers suggest that in order for us to begin our spiritual growth, that, in order for us to begin the journey along the path that leads to God, we must first begin by purifying ourselves of sin. Saint Francis DeSales says, "a soul that hopes for the honor of being made a spouse of the Son of God must 'put off the old man, and put on the new' by forsaking sin and removing and cutting away whatever obstructs union with God." (IDL, Part 1, section 5) He goes on to say that this really is the first step, of many, along the path of holiness and one that must be frequently returned to throughout the journey. He says,"The first purgation we must make is that of sin and the way to make it is by the holy sacrament of penance." (IDL, Part 1, section 6) This, my dear friends, touches on the whole reason for Our Lord's life, for His Passion and Death, and Resurrection. Many scriptural references could easily be given to remind that He came for the forgiveness of our sins and that He came to take away our sins. If our Lent is going to be a fruitful one than we need to acknowledge our sins, and humbly seek God's mercy and forgiveness. If we are going to take our spiritual lives seriously and not just "go through the motions," then we need to allow God's saving work of redemption to touch our very lives, and where better to allow God into our hearts then in the confessional. For it is there, that God's infinite love and mercy touches each person, and the goodness of our Heavenly Father becomes real and prepares us to enter more deeply into the mysteries of life that we celebrate at every Mass. So long as our sin rules our lives, there is little room for Christ. Pride is often the greatest obstacle to spiritual growth and peace. May our Lent be one of true contrition and may the Good God inspire in each one of us a great desire to be free from shackles of sin so as to live as free men and women in the kingdom of God. Amen.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Again we Keep This Solemn Fast"

From His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI: 
Dear Brothers and Sisters, [...] in order to undertake more seriously our journey towards Easter and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord – the most joyous and solemn feast of the entire liturgical year – what could be more appropriate than allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word of God? For this reason, the Church, in the Gospel texts of the Sundays of Lent, leads us to a particularly intense encounter with the Lord, calling us to retrace the steps of Christian initiation: for catechumens, in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of rebirth; for the baptized, in light of the new and decisive steps to be taken in the sequela Christi and a fuller giving of oneself to him.

The First Sunday of the Lenten journey reveals our condition as human beings here on earth. The victorious battle against temptation, the starting point of Jesus’ mission, is an invitation to become aware of our own fragility in order to accept the Grace that frees from sin and infuses new strength in Christ – the way, the truth and the life (cf. Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum, n. 25). It is a powerful reminder that Christian faith implies, following the example of Jesus and in union with him, a battle “against the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world” (Eph 6: 12), in which the devil is at work and never tires – even today – of tempting whoever wishes to draw close to the Lord: Christ emerges victorious to open also our hearts to hope and guide us in overcoming the seductions of evil.

The Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord puts before our eyes the glory of Christ, which anticipates the resurrection and announces the divinization of man. The Christian community becomes aware that Jesus leads it, like the Apostles Peter, James and John “up a high mountain by themselves” (Mt 17: 1), to receive once again in Christ, as sons and daughters in the Son, the gift of the Grace of God: “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him” (Mt 17: 5). It is the invitation to take a distance from the noisiness of everyday life in order to immerse oneself in God’s presence. He desires to hand down to us, each day, a Word that penetrates the depths of our spirit, where we discern good from evil (cf. Heb 4:12), reinforcing our will to follow the Lord.

The question that Jesus puts to the Samaritan woman: “Give me a drink” (Jn 4: 7), is presented to us in the liturgy of the third Sunday; it expresses the passion of God for every man and woman, and wishes to awaken in our hearts the desire for the gift of “a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life” (Jn 4: 14): this is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who transforms Christians into “true worshipers,” capable of praying to the Father “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4: 23). Only this water can extinguish our thirst for goodness, truth and beauty! Only this water, given to us by the Son, can irrigate the deserts of our restless and unsatisfied soul, until it “finds rest in God”, as per the famous words of St. Augustine.

The Sunday of the man born blind presents Christ as the light of the world. The Gospel confronts each one of us with the question: “Do you believe in the Son of man?” “Lord, I believe!” (Jn 9: 35. 38), the man born blind joyfully exclaims, giving voice to all believers. The miracle of this healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as “children of the light”.

On the fifth Sunday, when the resurrection of Lazarus is proclaimed, we are faced with the ultimate mystery of our existence: “I am the resurrection and the life… Do you believe this?” (Jn 11: 25-26). For the Christian community, it is the moment to place with sincerity – together with Martha – all of our hopes in Jesus of Nazareth: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world” (Jn 11: 27). Communion with Christ in this life prepares us to overcome the barrier of death, so that we may live eternally with him. Faith in the resurrection of the dead and hope in eternal life open our eyes to the ultimate meaning of our existence: God created men and women for resurrection and life, and this truth gives an authentic and definitive meaning to human history, to the personal and social lives of men and women, to culture, politics and the economy. Without the light of faith, the entire universe finishes shut within a tomb devoid of any future, any hope.

The Lenten journey finds its fulfillment in the Paschal Triduum, especially in the Great Vigil of the Holy Night: renewing our baptismal promises, we reaffirm that Christ is the Lord of our life, that life which God bestowed upon us when we were reborn of “water and Holy Spirit”, and we profess again our firm commitment to respond to the action of the Grace in order to be his disciples. [...]

In synthesis, the Lenten journey, in which we are invited to contemplate the Mystery of the Cross, is meant to reproduce within us “the pattern of his death” (Ph 3: 10), so as to effect a deep conversion in our lives; that we may be transformed by the action of the Holy Spirit, like St. Paul on the road to Damascus; that we may firmly orient our existence according to the will of God; that we may be freed of our egoism, overcoming the instinct to dominate others and opening us to the love of Christ. The Lenten period is a favorable time to recognize our weakness and to accept, through a sincere inventory of our life, the renewing Grace of the Sacrament of Penance, and walk resolutely towards Christ.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, through the personal encounter with our Redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism. This Lent, let us renew our acceptance of the Grace that God bestowed upon us at that moment, so that it may illuminate and guide all of our actions. What the Sacrament signifies and realizes, we are called to experience every day by following Christ in an ever more generous and authentic manner. In this our itinerary, let us entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary, who generated the Word of God in faith and in the flesh, so that we may immerse ourselves – just as she did – in the death and resurrection of her Son Jesus, and possess eternal life.

From the Vatican, 4 November, 2010


Monday, February 28, 2011

News for Life

(From left to right: Bro. Daniel Bowen, O. de M., Mr. Michael Bowes, 
Serrin Foster, President of Feminists for Life, Bro. David M. Spencer, O. de M.)

In recent days there has been a lot of news from across the country about measures, both on particular state levels and at the national level, concerning the area of life. The initiative of the House of Representatives to submit a move to defund Planned Parenthood of public funding. The General Assembly of VA has moved to require abortion mills to abide by the same standards as Hospitals across the Commonwealth -- a plan that will likely prove too expensive for these mills to remain operational. Last evening, 3 of the friars in Philadelphia and 1 postulant had the privilege of attending a banquet sponsored by the Pennsylvanians for Human Life, where the keynote speaker was Serrin Foster, President of the Feminists for Life. In what proved to be a remarkable talk, Serrin taught many of us facts and details of the Historic Womens' Movement that are simply lost or muted in our common learning experience of American History. Details which included the fact that from the very beginnings of the movement of Womens' Rights, the right to life was a hallmark of these foundresses. Today, this note in history is not even mentioned and is so muted that many, included us friars, have equated the Womens' Movement with pro-abortion positions and policies.

I invite you to check out the websites linked above.... and lend your prayers and support.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Friendship with Christ

"To the careless, reckless, thick-skinned villain he promises paradise; to the hot-booded, passionate, sensitive Magdalene he gives absolution and praises her love; and even that sinner most repulsive of all -- the deliberate, cold-hearted traitor who prefers thirty shillings to his master -- he greets even in the very moment and climax of his treachery with the tenderest title of all -- 'Friend,' says Jesus Christ, 'whereto art thou come?"
One lesson emerges, then, from the Gospel story clearly enough. We cannot know Christ in his most characteristic aspect until we find him among the sinners."

--Robert Hugh Benson, Friendship with Christ

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chair of Peter

The Chair of Peter symbolizes the authority of the Bishop of Rome, called to carry out a special service to the entire People of God. Immediately after the martyrdom of Sts Peter and Paul, the primatial role of the Church of Rome in the whole Catholic community was recognized. This role was already attested to at the beginning of the second century by St Ignatius of Antioch (Epistula ad Romanos, Pref.: ed. Funk, i, p. 252) and by St Irenaeus of Lyons (Adversus haereses III, 3, 2-3). This singular and specific ministry of the Bishop of Rome was reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council. "In the communion of the Church", we read in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, "there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions, without prejudice to the Chair of Peter which presides over the whole assembly of charity (cf. St Ignatius of Antioch, Ep. ad Rom., Pref.), and protects their legitimate variety while at the same time taking care that these differences do not hinder unity, but rather contribute to it" (Lumen gentiumn. 13). -- Pope Benedict XVI