Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church


Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori was born in 1696 A.D. at Marianelli near Naples, Italy. He was of noble birth, and a child prodigy. 

He was well educated, and received his doctorate in law from the University of Naples at the age of 16. He had his own law practice by the age of 21, and was one of the leading lawyers in Naples. He never attended court without having attended Mass first. He practiced law for 8 years, and as he matured and learned more and more of the world, he liked it less and less. He was humiliated by the loss of an important case, and he felt a call to the religious life. He entered a missionary society of secular priests, the "Neapolitan Propaganda", and was ordained a priest in 1726 where he devoted his time to work among the poor. 

Alphonsus was noted for his simple, clear, direct style of preaching, and his gentle, understanding way in the confessional. He wrote on asceticism, history and was a master theologian. He was often opposed by Church officials for a perceived laxity toward sinners, and by government officials who opposed anything religious. Alphonsus founded the Redemptoristines women's order at Scala, Italy in 1730.

In 1732, with the help of Bishop Thomas Falcoia of Castellamare, he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Liguorians; Redemptorists) at Scala. 

Alphonsus was appointed bishop of Saint Agata dei Gotti by Pope Clement XIII in 1762. There he worked to reform the clergy and revitalize the faithful in a diocese with a bad reputation. 

He was afflicted with severe rheumatism, and often could barely move or raise his chin from his chest. In 1775 he resigned his see due to his health, and went into what he thought was a prayerful retirement. In 1777, the royal government threatened to disband his Redemptorists, claiming that they were covertly carrying on the work of the Jesuits, who had been suppressed in 1773. Calling on his knowledge of the Congregation, his background in theology, and his skills as a lawyer, Alphonsus defended the Redemptorists so well that they obtained the king's approval. However, by this time Alphonsus was nearly blind, and was tricked into giving his approval to a revised Rule for the Congregation, one that suited the king and the anti-clerical government. 

When Pope Pius VI saw the changes, he condemned it, and removed Alphonsus from his position as leader of the Order. This caused Alphonsus a crisis in confidence and faith that took years to overcome. However, by the time of his death he had returned to faith and peace. 

Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori died of natural causes at Nocera de' Pagani, Italy in 1787. Pope Pius IX declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1871.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne (From Goffine's Devout Instructions)

Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
July 26

JOACHIM also called Heli, the happy father of Mary, came of the royal line of David, and was from his youth brought up in piety and the fear of God. His married life with the pious aud chaste Ann was childless until they had reached a great age. His continual prayer and other good works were theu rewarded by God with that blessed child whose birth was the beginning of our salvation. He reared her in the fear of the Lord, offered her in her tenderest years to God in the temple at Jerusalem, and soon after gave up his spirit into the hands of his Creator. Oh, that all Christian parents might learn from the parents of Mary to train up their children, not for the world, but for God, from Whom they have received them, and Who will one day require them again from their hands!

Prayer

O God, Who wast pleased that, before all Thy saints, blessed Joachim should be the father of her who bore Thy Son, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may ever experience his patronage whose festival we celebrate. Through the same Jesus Christ, Amen.

Epistle: Ecclesiasticus 31:8-11

Blessed is the man that is found without blemish, and that hath not gone after gold, nor put his trust in money nor in treasures. Who is he and we will praise him, for he hath done wonderful things in his life. Who hath been tried thereby, and made perfect, he shall have glory everlasting. He that could have transgressed, and hath not transgressed, could do evil things, and hath not done them; therefore are his goods established in the Lord.

Gospel: Matthew 1:1-16

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac. And Isaac begot Jacob. And Jacob, begot Judas and his brethren. And Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar. And Phares begot Esron. And Esron begot Aram. And Aram begot Aminadab. And Aminadab begot Naasson. And Nasson begot Salmon. And Salmon begot Booz of Rahab. And Booz begot Obed of Ruth. And Obed begot Jesse. And Jesse begot David the king. And David the king begot Solomon, of her that had been the wife of Unag. And Solomon begot Roboam. And Roboam begot Abias. And Abias begot Asa. And Asa begot Josaphat. And Josaphat begot Joram. And Joram begot Ozias. And Ozias begot Joatham. And Joatham begot Achaz. And Achaz begot Ezechias. And Ezechias begot Manasses. And Manasses begot Amon. And Amon begot Josias. And Josias begot Jechonias and his brethren in the transmigration of Babylon. And after the transmigration of Babylon, Jechonias begot Salathiel. And Salathiel begot Zorobabel. And Zorobabel begot Abiud. And Abiud begot Eliacim. And Eliacim begot Azor. And Azor begot Sadoc. And Sadoc begot Achim. And Achim begot Eliud. And Eliud begot Eleazar. And Eleazar begot Mathan. And Mathan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Prayer

O blessed and happy pair, Joachim and Anne, to whom the Almighty gave for a daughter the immaculate Virgin, the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a grace which is a speaking evidence of your purity, and of your lives being perfectly ordered according to the will of God - oh, obtain for me grace, that I may serve God chastely. Procure also for an Christian parents the help of the Almighty, that they may bring up their children in piety, and thereby become worthy to partake of your happiness. Amen.

All that we know of Saint Ann is that she was married to Saint Joachim of the tribe of David, and lived with him in all virtue and piety, but for a long time was childless. This she bore with all patience, till at last the Lord heard her supplications, and made her the mother of the most blessed Virgin. This distinction on the part of God is praise enough for her. On this account the faithful have always shown great veneration for her, and continually invoke her intercession.

At the Introit of the Mass the Church sings:
"Let us all rejoice in the Lord, keeping festival in honor of Saint Ann, on whose solemnity the angels rejoice, and with one voice praise the Son of God. My heart hath uttered a good word; I speak my works to the King."
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Prayer

O God, Who wast pleased to confer upon Saint Ann the grace whereby she became the mother of her who brought forth Thine only-begotten Son, mercifully grant that we, who keep her festival, may, through her intercession, find help with Thee. Through the same Our Lord Jesus Christ, etc. Amen.

Epistle: Proverbs 31:10-31

Who shall find a valiant woman? the price of her is as of things brought from afar off and from the uttermost coasts. The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and he shall have no need of spoils. She will render him good; and not evil, all the days of her life. She hath sought wool and flax, and hath wrought by the counsel of her hands. She is like the merchant's ship, she bringeth her bread from afar. And she hath risen in the night, and given a prey to her household, and victuals to her maidens. She hath considered a field, and bought it with the fruit of her hands she hath planted a vineyard. She hath girded her loins with strength, and hath strengthened her arm. She hath tasted, and seen that her traffic is good; her lamp shall not be put out in the night. She hath put out her hand to strong things, and her fingers have taken hold of the spindle. She hath opened her hand to the needy, and stretched out her hand to the poor. She shall not fear for her house in the cold of snow; for all her domestics are clothed with double garments. She hath made for herself clothing of tapestry, fine linen, and purple is her covering. Her husband is honorable in the gates, when he sitteth among the senators of the land. She made fine linen, and sold it, and delivered a girdle to the Chananite. Strength and beauty are her clothing, and she shall laugh in the latter day. She hath opened her mouth to wisdom, and the law of clemency is on her tongue. She hath looked well to the paths of her house, and hath not eaten her bread idle, Her children rose up, and called her blessed; her husband, and he praised her. Many daughters have gathered together riches; thou hast surpassed them alL Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain; the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands: and let her works praise her in the gates.

Gospel: Matthew 13:44-52

At that time Jesus said to His disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in a field. Which a man having found, hideth and for joy thereof goeth, and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant seeking good pearls. Who when he had fouud one pearl of great price, went his way, and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a net cast into the sea, and gathering together of all kind of fishes. Which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting by the shore, they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad they cast forth. So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have ye understood all these things? They say to Him: Yes. He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old.

Explanation

The hidden treasure is faith in the Crucified, Who remains concealed from the wise of this world by reason of their pride; the hiding of the treasure denotes that faith is to be preserved only by humility; the selling of all that he hath teaches that, for the sake of the faith, we must sacrifice all things, do all things, suffer all things. The parable of the merchant furnishes the same lesson. By the parable of the net the Lord teaches that the universal visible Church of Christ, the kingdom of God upon earth, contains not only the elect, but those also who shall be condemned - the bad as well as the good. At the end of the world there will be a separation, and the bad shall be cast into everlasting fire.

Aspiration to Saint Anne

Hail, O blessed mother Anne! Blessed art thou, who, for our consolation, didst bear the Mother of our Redeemer. With the greatest, veneration, therefore, and full of confidence, we approach thee, beseeching thee that thou wouldst supplicate our divine Saviour to bestow upon us the graces which we need to follow thy ardent devotion, thy fear of God, and to render us worthy one day to behold in heaven the blessed fruit of thy virgin daughter's womb, Jesus, and to rejoice forever in the contemplation of Him. 


-- Goffine's Devout Instructions

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle (From Goffine's Devout Instructions)



Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle

July 3

THOMAS, also called Didymus, or the twin, was a fisherman of Galilee. After having been received among the apostles he accompanied Jesus in all His journeys, and uniformly showed docility, zeal, and love towards Him, particularly on the occasion of His going to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. For when the apostles were afraid to go thither, because the Jews desired to kill Jesus, Thomas, full of courage, said, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him" (John 11:16). His faith, indeed, wavered for a moment in regard to the resurrection of Christ; but no sooner had Christ satisfied him thereof by showing His wounds, than he cried out with firm faith, "My Lord and my God." Saint Gregory thereupon says,
God overruled the doubting of Thomas to our good, since that very doubt has profited us more than the ready belief of the other disciples, inasmuch as thereby Christ was induced to give so much clearer proofs of His resurrection, in order to confirm us in the belief of it.
Thomas showed the firmness of his faith by the innumerable labors which he undertook, and by the sufferings that he endured for Christ. He traversed the most extensive and remote countries, and preached Jesus to the Armenians, Medes, Persians, Parthians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and other barbarous and wicked nations, enduring in the course of his labors, with astonishing firmness, the greatest sufferings for the honor of God and the salvation of men. Finally he came to Ilidia, when, in the city of Calamina, or Meliapor, he underwent a glorious martyrdom, being pierced through with lances, by order of the idolatrous priests, as he was praying at the foot of the cross. So much did the apostle do to repair a single fault; but we, who every day commit so many - what do we do to repair them?

In the Introit of the Mass the Church announces to us how greatly the apostles were exalted by God, Who made them teachers and fathers of the whole world. She cries out, therefore, "To me Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened. Lord, Thou hast proved me and known me; Thou hast known my sitting down and my rising up" (Psalm: 138). Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Prayer

Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to glory in the solemnity of Thy blessed apostle Thomas, that we may be ever assisted by his patronage, and follow his faith with suitable devotion. Through Christ, Our Lord, Amen.

Epistle: Ephesians 2:19-22

Brethren: Now you are no more strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow-citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God. Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone, in Whom all the building, being framed together, groweth up into a holy temple in the Lord, in Whom you also are built together into a habitation of God in the Spirit.

The gospel and an explanation of it are to be found on the first Sunday after Easter, page 219.

Prayer

O most benign Jesus, Who didst permit the unbelieving Thomas to touch the prints of Thy holy wounds, and didst thereby deliver him from his unbelief, oh, heal the wounds of my heart; give me a living, firm, and enduring faith in Thee, such as may ever incite me to do what shall be pleasing to thee, and to shun whatever may displease Thee. I beseech it of Thee by Thy mercy to Thomas in showing the prints of Thy wounds to him.

--Goffine's Devout Instructions