Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Poverty of the Blessed Virgin.

(from) Ark of the Covenant, by Rev. Thomas S. Preston

   Our blessed Lord Jesus Christ has given us a perfect example of poverty and contempt of the world.  Having condescended to take our nature, He chose to be in a lowly and humble position.  For our sakes He chose to be "made poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich."  He could have enjoyed all the wealth of the world, and all its luxuriance might have rolled at His feet.  He could have been born in a palace with thousands to wait upon His every want.  But the gifts of earth did not become the humility of the incarnate God.  He saw the emptiness of human things and He would not touch any of the gilded vanities which so attract mankind.  It was His will to be driven out of the habitations of men, and to have no place where to lay His head.  He preferred a cave for His birth-place, and the oxen's stall for His cradle.  His holy Mother, whose heart was one with His, took part in His self-abnegation.  The world was nothing to her, and all its riches could not excite one emotion in her soul.  She gave all she had to the poor, that for the service of God she might be emancipated from every care.  The fathers tell us that in her early childhood she made a vow never to possess any of the goods of this earth.  "Where our treasure is there also is our heart."  She desired to have no treasure here, that her heart might be wholly united to God.  It was, therefore, no trial to her to bear the pains and inconveniences of poverty.  The cave of Bethlehem was a sweet hiding place where she could prove to her child that she loved nothing but Him.  The Magi brought their costly gifts, and they were devoted to charity.  She went before the altar with two turtle-doves, the offering of the poor, and knelt among the crowd.  The angel called her at midnight to arise in haste and fly to Egypt.  She arose at once, leaving all she had, and began her long and painful journey.  Many a time she felt the pangs of hunger and thirst in her pilgrimage through the desert, and during her lonely sojourn in the land of idolatry.  Her food was always coarse, and her raiment plain.  When the holy family returned to Nazareth, a lowly cottage became their abode, where Jesus, Mary and Joseph all worked with their hands to earn their daily bread.  There was no rest for them in this world of sin.  The second Adam came to the thorny ground of the first Adam, and took His portion of toil.  It was Mary's delight to be among the poor, and even to do menial offices for others.  She drank in more and more every day of the spirit of her child, and became more and more detached from every earthly thing.  When He left her to begin His ministry she was dependent upon the charity of others.  
  He was on the mountain, and in the desert, and why should not His mother be a pilgrim like Him?  And when He died He gave her in trust to St. John, that the disciple whom He loved might provide for her wants.  In Mary's poverty we see not only the entire renunciation of all worldly goods, but a complete separation from them in heart.  She had nothing, and she desired nothing.  Her soul was most tranquil, because no created thing had power to touch her heart.  She had put off all the garments of earth, how could she ever put them on again?  She had washed her feet from every defilement of corruptible treasure, how could she touch again the dust of this world?  She had only one possession, an infinite one, her God; and this filled her whole heart.
  There is much for us to learn in this brief view of the poverty of the Blessed Virgin.  The Church commends this virtue as most necessary for all who would tread in the steps of her Master.  Actual poverty is no doubt a grace for such as use it rightly.  The poor are freed from many temptations, and are not so likely to fasten their affections upon worldly things.  Their hard life here is an incentive to look above for enduring treasures.  To a certain extent they must feel themselves strangers and pilgrims on their way to a better country.  Hence the poor are generally the favored children of God.  The Lord was surrounded by them when He was on earth, and His church is especially their portion.  But poverty of spirit is essential for all who would be saved.  We must learn to despise worldly things, or we can make no real progress in the love of God.  Whatever goods of earth God may give us, we must not fix our affections upon them, nor desire them for their own sake.  As good Christians we must be detached from the treasures of which we are only stewards.  Our Lord Himself has said that it is hard for the rich to enter into His kingdom, and that they who trust in riches have no hope of salvation.  With the possession of wealth comes care, which weighs upon the soul, and bears it down among the pursuits of time.  Many spend their whole lives in toil and labor, and have no reward but treasures which one hour may take away, and which can never go beyond the grave.  The brief joys of the rich will never pay for the anxious mind or the aching heart.  If we are poor we must bless God for this grace, and endeavor to turn it to our sanctification.  If we are encumbered with the possessions of this life, we must use them for the benefit of our neighbors, as well as our own salvation.  We must make to ourselves friends of the mammon of iniquity, that when we fail they may receive us into eternal habitations.  The Catholic religion, animated by the spirit of its divine Head, has taught us many heroic lessons in the virtue of poverty.  It has taught many souls to emulate the graces of Mary, and cheerfully to lay down at the feet of Jesus every temporal thing.  Princes have descended from their thrones to cast the dust of this world from their feet, and to be wholly emancipated for the service of God.  The vow of poverty is a necessary condition of the religious state, since perfect consecration of the soul is inconsistent with any hold upon the things of this life.  No one can leave the world except by renouncing all that he has, and by choosing alone a heavenly treasure.  "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast and give to the poor, and follow me, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven."
  The example of the Blessed Virgin will be our encouragement, as we endeavor to walk in her footsteps.  She will gently wean us from the love of all earthly possessions, guiding us, as we can bear it, to a more and more perfect life.  We need not be discouraged at the sight of our own self-love, nor at our great repugnance to mortification.  We shall not learn detachment all at once, nor in the easy way our imaginations have pictured.  But with Mary for our model we cannot wander from the right path  As things temporal recede little by little from our view, things eternal will draw nearer to us.  The chains that bind us to earth will be broken one by one, and the love of God will be the only solace of our free spirits.  Who would compare corruptible treasures with the infinite wealth of God, who becomes Himself the possession of His saints?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Franciscan Fast.

Today (the 12th) is the first day of the Franciscan Fast that my wife and I and a few of the members of our small group of Franciscans practice.  It goes from today, the day after the feast of St. Martin of Tours until midnight of Christmas Eve.  This Fast is part of the Rule of 1221 that Francis gave to the people, who wished to live a life of similar virtue and prayer to that of his Brothers (and Sisters, with Clare).  This Rule allowed the people to remain as butchers, carpenters lawyers blacksmiths, husbands and wives, etc, and still live a life of penance.  As professed Franciscans H and I are obligated to live this Rule, and thus to follow it to the letter.  This fast gives me a chance to work on a vice that is exceptionally troubling to me and to practice a virtue in order to perfect it in a way that is harder to do in my everyday life.  My day seems to start out strong but by the end of the day my faults and failings have piled up again and the thought of my offences to God usually somewhat paralyze me.  This is a good time to really focus on a virtue and a vice, and maybe abstain from something for the next 43 days.  I try to keep it simple and focused, knowing that like the day, I always start out strong but near the end you-know-who has really begun to wear me down.  And, I am a very weak vessel.  

  One of the Rules of the Third Order is only taking two meals a day.  I believe I've read it both ways; skip breakfast and have lunch and supper and to have breakfast and skip lunch.  I see it as doing what is best for oneself, as long as one observes the rule.  I've been very lax in this regard, and for the next 43 days eating in this manner will be a goal of mine (and H's).  In the end, I've found, that if one works hard at whatever he or she has decided to undertake as a means of a fast, that eventually the gift of silence will descend. The interior man becomes quieter as the days roll on towards the Birth, a Holy Silence that turns ones thoughts to Him and His Mother.  For who can leave out the Blessed Virgin at this time of the year.  

Pray for us.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pray for the Synod.

I will continue to pray for the Bishops and all who are attending the Synod.  My Rosary novena is over, but I still offer my first Rosary of the day for them that are there, especially our Holy Father.  As a Roman Catholic who attends only the TLM, I find this whole Synod distressing to say the least.  Many other bloggers have said much better anything I could say about the situation, so I'll not really add anything here.  Let me just say that it is with great sadness that I watch these men of God, watched over by our Pope, debate such issues that should be non-issues.  Holy Mother Church should stick to her guns, and spend more time figuring out how to catechize  the faithful better instead of letting them wander off with their 'itching ears.'  Generation after generation of Catholics do not know their faith and are lead astray so easily!  If any of you are non-traditional and are reading this, please, just begin by reading the New Testament from start to finish, a good version, a Douay-Rheims version.  Ask questions among yourselves and find a good smart priest to help you with anything you don't understand.  Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, gave us a complete road map on how to live, and most of us never use it.  Read it, and listen to every word that Jesus says.  Holy church did a good job of interpreting those words for close to 1,950 years.  Go back to those interpretations and listen with the eyes of your soul, eyes attuned to God.  

And pray.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Prayers needed, please.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners...

Monday, June 09, 2014

Thoughts from a Pilgrimage...

A few thoughts on the 2014 Auriesville Pilgrimage to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs.

  I can't seem to write anything anymore, my mind just doesn't seem to want to think that way, full paragraphs seem to turn into random thoughts with no connection, but I do feel like reflecting on this event, this day of penance and prayer, this past Saturday, the Vigil of Pentecost.

Setting up camp with my wife, Helen, breaking out the equipment for the first time in 20 years.

Watching the main tent go up where the Holy Mass took place, and the men putting together the Altar.

Falling asleep Friday night listening to the sounds of the train across the river, feeling the ground slightly rumble beneath me.

Praying Lauds Saturday morning at the kneelers set up for Holy Communion then hearing the tinkle of the bell followed by Fr. G. and a server rounding the tent corner for morning Mass.

Hearing a rousing Catholic song ringing in the air before seeing the 12 or so young men pulling a rickshaw type carriage up the main road to the starting point of the march.  They had been walking for three days to get there.

Kneeling to kiss Bishop Fellay's ring, who in all honesty, just wanted to fit in.  Seeing the big smile on his face as he watched us get ready to march.

Following along to the Rosary in Latin, chanted or sung, as we marched along the Canal Path.

Feeling time slow down as I walked along, letting my thoughts center on Christ and his Passion, on the Martyrs who died up on the hill and trying quiet my rampant thoughts.

Being part of the Celebration of a Pontifical High Mass!

Praying the Litany of the Saints as we circled the Coliseum.

The rousing chants of Viva Christo Rey! to end the Litany.

I have no real worldly words to completely describe the Pilgrimage.  It was between me and the rest of the Pilgrims, and between me and the Holy Spirit.  God looking down on us and hopefully smiling, pleased that men and women, priests and religious still do penance by walking a long distance to a Holy site.  Watching the priests and religious of the SSPX,  leading by example and being good shepherds.

 To God the Father let us sing,
To God the Son, our risen King,
And equally let us adore
The Spirit, God forevermore.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God...

Friday, April 11, 2014

...a reflection...

This past week my wife has been away on Retreat, so it has been only myself and my son home here.  We've had some good conversations (he's 26) but there has been long periods at night of silence.  And with the silence, if my mind isn't whirring too much from the day in the world, then reflection.  This Lent I've been trying very hard to work on my particular vices that I really need to somewhat eradicate, and I've found that in the quiet at night not only am I able to examine how I've done during the day (usually badly) but the temptations that I'm working on come at me full force during these times.  These vices have always been very sinister and silent, and I've never been able to get a handle on them for very long.  I've found myself falling into their traps day in and day out, year after year.  Most of the time I only realize that I've fallen victim after the fact.  During this Lent, though, God has given me extra strength, it seems, to hold off the initial onslaught at least, which gives me a bit of time to think about what is happening to me; namely one assault after another by the enemy.  It is as plain as day.  The reading and re-reading of Spiritual Combat has sunk in a little and the incessant homilies on good and evil by good Latin Mass priests have left their mark.  A baby step in fighting the snares of the devil.  Thank you Almighty Father for the preparation, praise to You, Lord Jesus for opening up the way and stay by my side Blessed Mother, for you are our defense here on Earth.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Third Saturday In Lent

Today, the 29th of March, is the Saturday of the Third Week of Lent, Station at St. Susanna's.  Susanna was a Roman virgin who was martyred under the Emperor Diocletian.  An account of the test of the chaste Susanna is the Epistle for today.  As Father first read it through in Latin and I read along in my Missal, and then as I heard it again in English, so many different thoughts and actions stood out like bold print on a white page.  Her husband Joakim, an honourable man from a town that was less than honourable, (Babylon), the vivid description of the evil elders who fell into lust as they perverted their own minds, one scene after another.  The multitude  believed them as being the elders and the judges of the people, and they condemned her to death.  Susanna's cry out to God, her total faith in Him.  And then God raises up Daniel, who silences the people as he speaks the truth, truth that cuts through the lies of the perverted elders.  O thou seed of Chanaan and not of Juda, beauty hath deceived thee, and lust hath perverted thy heart: thus did you do to the daughters of Israel, and they for fear conversed with you: but a daughter of Juda would not abide your wickedness.  Young Daniel the Prophet, speaking of things that only he knew?  The thread of forgiveness weaves its way through the narrative, until truth triumphs in the end and God's Justice is brought forth.  This reading, coupled with the Gospel for today, John viii. 1-11, the woman pardoned by Jesus for her crime of adultery, shows us that God's mercy is beyond our understanding, as Jesus shows us. The scribes and pharisees thought they could finally pin him down once and for all by bringing to Him a, as they saw it, an open and closed case, a women caught in the act of adultery.  First the words to the scribes and pharisees; He that is without sin, cast the first stone; then His words to her, Go, and now sin no more.  To abstain from sin and cultivate virtue.  How can I find the love that brings forth such charity, such forgiveness?  I pray to God that I have not run up to that forgiveness wall, where my charitable acts are reserved for some and not all?  thoughts for me to work on as I move through Lent.  

One last thought.

After receiving I'm usually just quiet with my own prayers of thanksgiving, but today, for some reason (I was told, I know it!) I turned to the section of the St. Andrew Missal, Thanksgiving After Mass And Holy Communion.  I opened to the Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas, which I don't recall ever reading, but thought I must share.  This is an unbelievably moving and beautiful prayer.

  I give Thee thanks, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal
God, who hast vouchsafed, not for any merits of mine, but
solely out of the condescension of Thy mercy, to satisfy me
a sinner, Thine unworthy servant, with the precious Body
and Blood of Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ.  I pray that
this holy Communion be not to me a condemnation unto
punishment, but a saving plea unto forgiveness.  May it be
unto me the armour of faith and the shield of good will.
May it be the emptying out of my vices, the extinction of all
concupiscence and lust, the increase of charity and patience, 
of humility and obedience, and of all virtues; a strong defense
against the snares of all enemies, visible and invisible; the
perfect quieting of all my evil impulses, both fleshly and 
ghostly; a firm cleaving unto Thee, the one true God; and
a pledge of a blessed destiny.  And I beseech Thee, that
Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bring me, a sinner to that inef-
fable banquet, where Thou, with Thy Son and the Holy
Ghost, art to Thy saints true light, fullness of content, eternal
joy, gladness without alloy and perfect bliss.  Through the
                                       same Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

LINEN ON THE HEDGEROW: How to love that boring Latin Mass

LINEN ON THE HEDGEROW: How to love that boring Latin Mass: The link address is here..... H/T to Joseph Shaw at LMS Chairman for his post on a young ...

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Never Satisfied.

For a little more than a week now I've been sort of following a diet that my wife is on.  It's mostly at night, I, we (my son and I) eat what she eats; and it's all good, high in fiber, tasty, all that, but I never really feel full, never do I have that feeling of yeah, that was a really good meal and I am stuffed.  There is often that ( mini voice in my head speaking) Yeah, that was pretty good, but I am still hungry! but I know that this is good for me so I'll try to soldier up and move on.  "I'll have one cookie, please".  Oh well.  But the more I think about it the more I see the parallels between this trying to eat right and the spiritual life, especially my spiritual life.  At one time I was a member of a Secular Franciscan Order, and I am a professed Secular Franciscan.  I say was, because I no longer follow that way of the Franciscans.  The S.F. live the complete modern theology Catholicism, tied up completely with the Novus Ordo Mass, which we (H and I) do not attend.  How could we?  Once we discovered the Rule of 1221 and began attending the TLM our lives changed completely.  What we thought was good food for the soul was nothing but food for the man, an exhalation to ourselves.  For me, to go to Holy Mass, I almost always come away with a longing for more.  When I go to Mass and I leave I'm not completely satisfied, completely filled up as after a nice big meal.  No, Mass for me is what it is, the Sacrifice of Calvary in an un-bloodied manner, but also it serves as a sustaining event until the next Mass, and also, especially a Low Mass, can be a time of beautiful reflection and prayer.  I love especially the Low Mass during the week,  (praise God I am able to attend one!) 7:00am, before work.  A beautiful way to begin the day.  And then that time spent allows the mind, body and soul to come together in a correct way to begin the work day.  But there is always that longing, that desire for more of God, more of this holy life that I believe most of us long to live, are called to live.  In a perfect world is to be left alone, to follow the Words of Our Lord in order to achieve our final goal, Heaven.  I know this isn't happening, not to very many of us.  Our state of life leaves us no other choice but to get muddy, get dirty almost each and every day.  And that is alright, it is our duty to show ourselves to the world, to give good example.  That may be the only way we can call souls to God nowadays. The wave of this world is about to wash over us, and we, a bit like clams in their shells must hunker down and let this madness pass over us.  Our longing will sustain us, like a deep prayer that echos in our breast, our favorite one that we resort to in dark times.  The fullness of fluff that passes for a lot of Christianity today will perhaps overwhelm the world we live in for awhile, maybe even though our lifetime, but we can do nothing about that.  Strive for more, never let our hunger be satisfied, never live to say 'This is all there is in my spiritual life", never be satisfied with ourselves. The life of a Christian is a constant war against the world, the flesh and the devil.  Once we are satisfied, we have lost.  

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Retreat

My son and I are heading out this Sunday to a 5-day silent retreat on the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.  I've been looking forward to this for a long time while my son, who is twenty six,  I think has a bit of trepidation.  He's a very outgoing people person and I don't think he likes the idea of a silent retreat.  I guess it can be a bit daunting if you've never done it.  Last summer a good friend of mine and myself did a 3 day retreat of the same kind (although put on by different priests) and it went very well, it was very natural,  and we had no problem keeping quiet for three days.  That first time, I didn't know what to expect.  This time, I am looking forward to the silence. It seems no matter what I try to do here, in this state of life, I can't seem to re-arrange my life to give myself more time for silence.  The world seems to run rampant over all inner thought, leaving one almost defenseless at times to all onslaughts.  Overwhelmed, is perhaps a better word.  All in all, though, I'm trying to go into this retreat with a feeling of nothing, that is to say trying to keep my expectations down to nothing.  I desperately need  to un-focus from this world of work, sleep, work again.  Even starting the day with Holy Mass my mind can't slow down enough to escape into the silence of the Mass.  So be it.  Just read recently a beautiful piece, either in the Remnant or Catholic Family News on how to keep God before us at all times.  One part I especially liked, what resonated in me was this, and I shall paraphrase:  Do even the smallest action the best you can, and do it as though Jesus, or the Blessed Virgin or God Himself were right there doing it with you.  I had never thought of it that way, with God right there with me. It all of a sudden made all my actions seem just that much more important to do, because Our Lord is right there with me.  When I can remember to think like that the act that I do becomes that much more joyful, even the most redundant job at work.  For me, it was a small revelation, even on something that I had known from the start.  Thank you, Father, for that small gift.  

  Tomorrow I will pack.  Tonight, after this  I'll sit in the dark for awhile, try to get through a Rosary before sleeps overcomes me.  H is asleep on the couch.  I've already begun to feel the small sadness that occurs when we're apart.  Two become one.  For us, it has been an incredible journey to Heaven, a road hard and narrow but one we travel alone together.  For now, I'll let that small sadness rest quietly within me, I'll enjoy the sweet sorrow that a husband and wife have when they are parted for a time.  I know it is God, Family, Duty.  I know to love God above all things.  But for right now, this moment our love will linger, in a melancholy state of mind.