Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Should We Encourage Vocations?

This next chapter is taken from Father Doyle's book, "Vocations."

It is a curious fact that although many pious and learned persons do not shrink from discouraging, in every possible way, aspirants to religious life, they would scruple to give them any help or encouragement. “A vocation must be entirely the work of the Holy Ghost,” they say. Willingly they paint the imaginary difficulties and trials of a convent life, and hint at the unhappiness sometimes to be found there; they speak of the long and serious deliberation necessary before one takes such a step, and thus, unintentionally perhaps, but most effectively extinguish the glowing enthusiasm of a youthful heart.
 Some even assume a terrible responsibility by deliberately turning away souls from the way into which the master is calling them, forgetting the warning: “It is I who have chosen you,” never reflecting on the irretrievable harm they are causing by spoiling the work of God.
 Others calmly assure a postulant, who has been found unsuitable for a particular Order, that this is a certain sign Almighty God does not want him, that he has no vocation and should not try again.
  It is quite true to say that a vocation comes from above, but God’s designs can be hindered or helped by His creatures, and He has ever made use of secondary agents in their execution. The formation of character and the direction of the steps of the young towards the Sanctuary is largely in the hands of parents and teachers; how many a happy priest and nun daily thank their Maker for the gift of a good mother, who first sowed the seeds of a vocation in their childish heart. Fathers and mothers constantly put before their children the various calling and professions of life to help them in the choice; is the grandest life of all, the service of the King of Kings, the battling for precious souls, and the extension of Christ’s Kingdom, to be ignored and never spoken of?
The saints realized that God looked to them to aid Him in the work of fostering vocations. St. Jerome writes thus to Heliodorus: “I invite you, make haste. You have made light of my entreaties; perhaps you will listen to my reproaches. Effeminate soldier! What are you doing under the paternal roof? Hasten to enlist under the banner of Christ.”
So eloquently did St. Bernard speak of the advantages of the religious life that all his brothers and thirty young nobles followed him to the solitude of Citeaux.
 More striking still was the bringing of the Apostles to Our Lord by indirect means. St. Andrew and St. John were sent to the Saviour by St. John the Baptist: “Behold the Lamb of God. And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.”
Andrew findeth first his brother Simon,.. and he brought him to Jesus.”
“On the following day he [Andrew] would go forth into Galilee, and he findeth Philip… Philip findeth Nathaniel, and said to him: We have found Him of Whom the prophets did write… and Nathaniel said to him: Can any good come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him: Come and see,” with the result that he also received the call to follow Christ.
Thus one by one the Apostles were brought to the knowledge of the Messias and under the influence of His grace, without which all human efforts are useless to produce a vocation. “Know well,” says St. Thomas, “that whether it be the suggestion of the devil or the advice of a man which inclined us to the religious life, and makes us thus walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, this suggestion or advice is powerless and inefficient so long as God does not attract us inwardly towards Him. Therefore, the proposal of entering into religion, in whatever way it may be suggested to us, can come only from God.”

“No man can come to Me, unless it can be given him by My Father.” Hence the Saint adds, that even if the religious vocation came from devil, it ought to be embraced as an excellent counsel given by an enemy.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Good Friday

I would like to wish you all a very blessed Good Friday. Here are some quotes from the saints I would like to share with you. May God enrich you with His grace and bestow unlimited blessings upon you on this holy day.

This Blood that but one drop of has the power to win all the world forgiveness of its world of sin. - St. Thomas Aquinas

Mount Calvary is the academy of love. - St. Francis de Sales

Make a nosegay of the sufferings of Jesus, and wear it on your bosom, or else keep yourself absorbed in God in pure faith; let your soul be rapt in the thought of His sufferings and His love. Remain in this sacred silence, in this holy admiration, which increases the love of God. - St. Paul of the Cross

Let us firmly trust that, through the infinite merits of Christ's Passion and the dolors of Mary, we shall forever sing the mercies of the Most High. - St. Paul of the Cross

True reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognizing in him our own humanity. - Pope Leo the Great, Pope

The fourth is the memory of the glorious pilgrimage of that immaculate lamb, Christ Jesus, and especially his most holy death and passion, keeping always before the eyes of our minds the presence of his most chaste and virginal humanity. This is the best means for winning each battle, and without it, we will not achieve victory over our enemies. Every other weapon will achieve little without this one which surpasses all the rest. - St. Catherine of Bologna

Christians must lean on the Cross of Christ just as travelers lean on a staff when they begin a long journey. They must have the Passion of Christ deeply embedded in their minds and hearts, because only from it can they derive peace, grace, and truth. - St. Anthony of Lisbon

O souls! seek a refuge, like pure doves, in the shadow of the crucifix. There mourn the Passion of your divine Spouse, and drawing from your hearts flames of love and rivers of tears, make of them a precious balm with which to anoint the wounds of your Saviour. - St. Paul of the Cross

The remembrance of the most holy Passion of Jesus Christ is the door through which the soul enters into intimate union with God, interior recollection and most sublime contemplation... - St. Paul of the Cross

The religious who concerns himself intently and devoutly with our Lord's most holy life and passion will find there an abundance of all things useful and necessary for him. He need not seek for anything better than Jesus. - Thomas À Kempis, Imitation of Christ

As to the Passion of our Lord, ...never in anything follow your own will and your own inclination, for that was the cause of His death and passion - St John of the Cross

Our Savior's passion raises men and women from the depths, lifts them up from the earth, and sets them in the heights. - St. Maximus of Turin

The most holy Passion of Jesus Christ is the most efficacious means to convert obstinate sinners. - St Paul of Cross

There is no practice more profitable for the entire sanctification of the soul than the frequent meditation of the sufferings of Jesus Christ. - Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Holy Thursday: Comfort Our Lord

Tonight we commemorate the Last Supper and Our Lord's agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I think it's very important for us to meditate on Our Lord's agony, so I will be writing this article on that. 
Many people say, "God doesn't know what I'm going through." But if you look closely, He does:
Abandoned - As Jesus enters into the garden, He tells His friends to stay and pray. He goes off and the agony begins. He goes back to His friends, and they're all asleep. What does this signify? Jesus never wanted you to feel alone. He never wanted a day to go by when you didn't have a friend. He never wanted you to think no one cared, no one was thinking of you, no one would die for you. He took on Himself your loneliness. He cut Himself from all consolation so that He may be your consolation. He was forgotten so that you may be remembered. 
Terrified - People often forget that Jesus suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane was much different from the rest of His Passion. In the Garden, He doesn't experience patient suffering, but a terrified, worried, distressed agony. He never wanted you to ever feel afraid or worried, so He took it on Himself. In fact, He took the entire world's worries on His shoulders. On top of this, since He is God, He saw what evil our sins would do. He saw the aftermath and understood what evil truly was. Finally, His heart was torn with the fact that even though He was about to die a horrible death to save us, there would still be people lost in eternal flames. While he was bearing this unbearable cross, He kept you in mind. He saw all those lost souls who chose the world over Him, then He gazes at you. He asks lovingly as He offers up this pain for your soul, "What will you choose?"
Confused - Yet, His mind was not only troubled, but was in a great battle. This battle was between the weakness of human nature and the strength of God. He asks His Heavenly Father if it would be possible for this chalice to pass. This was his human nature speaking. He then says, "But not My Will, but Thine be done." Have you ever found yourself confused, in battles with temptation? Jesus already won those battles for you. He knows how weak you are, so He took on your weakness and defeated it. Why fear anything with Our Lord on your side?
Betrayed - Finally, His agony ends with a betraying kiss and a cold prison cell to lay His weary head in. He thinks of you as He waits in this prison cell. He offers every tear, every drop of blood, every wound that the soldier inflicted on Him for you. He became the "Man of Sorrows" so that you may be a child of God. 
And so I ask all my readers, meditate on this mystery tonight. If you can, stay up for one hour, from 11 PM to 12 PM (the hour of Our Lord's agony) and offer up prayers of love and reparation. Imagine yourself in the scene comforting Our Lord. Pray with Him in the garden, wait with Him in the prison, offer yourself to Him as He so generously offered Himself to you. He even revealed a promise to Saint Margret Mary:
"You shall arise between eleven o'clock and the midnight hour, and remain remain prostrate with Me during the space of an hour, and so appease the divine anger by imploring mercy for sinners. Thus shall you assuage in some sort the bitterness I felt at that time because of the abandonment by My Apostles... for not having been able to watch with Me for the space of one hour."
Please also remember Our Blessed Mother in your meditations this night. She too offered herself in union with her Son for your soul. Console her as well, and spend the night in waiting for Good Friday. May God bless and Our Lady protect you all!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

"Thoughts for Palm Sunday"

The following article is taken from: http://www.archbishoplefebvre.com/blog.html

Today we begin Holy Week, the week in which we centre our thoughts and affections on the final hours of the mortal life of Jesus Christ, the hours of His Passion and Death. The first part of the week leads up to Good Friday, the day on which we commemorate the sorrowful death of Our Saviour on Mount Calvary. There are two days on which a note of joy and triumph is found in the Church's liturgy--Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday. Today we remember the dramatic entrance of Christ into Jerusalem, while the people stewed branches of palms before Him, and in spirit we repeat their exultant cries: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Many of those who welcomed Him with these words recognised Him only as a great prophet, but we know that He is the true Son of God as well as the Son of David, and our act of homage is an acknowledgement of His divinity.

Holy Thursday, too, brings the joyful remembrance of the miracle of divine power and love whereby Our Lord gave us His own body and blood in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. On that day the priest celebrates Mass in the white vestments of joy and gladness, and after Mass the Blessed Sacrament is placed in the repository, so that the faithful may visit Our Divine Saviour to thank Him for the great gift of the Holy Eucharist and to ask Him for the favours and graces they need both for body and for souls.

However, the predominant sentiment of the Church in Holy Week is sadness and sympathy for Our Blessed Lord in His sufferings. Uppermost in our minds should be the doctrine of Our faith that the purpose of Christ in submitting to the pain and the ignominy of His Passion was to make satisfaction to His Father for the sins of mankind. We should relate this thought to our own individual lives and realise that every sin we ever committed, whether mortal or venial, had its particular share in inflicting suffering on the Son of God. While this thought should be in our minds especially on Good Friday, it should be frequently recalled during the entire week.

Practical Application

One of the most important acts of every good Catholic in the course of Holy Week is to make a good confession, in a spirit of deep repentance for his sins that have caused the death of Jesus Christ. If possible, receive Holy Communion on Holy Thursday, but above all, prepare for a fervent Holy Communion on Easter Sunday, that you may thus share in Our Lord's joy and glory.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Motives for Entering the Religious Life

This next chapter is once again taken from Father Doyle's book, "Vocations."

4.  Motives for Entering Religion

St. Francis de Sales writes as follows: “Many enter religion without knowing why they do so. They come into a convent parlour, they see nuns with calm faces, full of cheerfulness, modesty and content, and they say to themselves: ‘What a happy place this is! Let us come to it. The world frowns on us; we do not get what we want there.’

      “Others come in order to find peace, consolation and all sorts of sweetness, saying in their minds: ‘How happy religious are! They have got safe away from all their home worries; from their parents’ continual ordering about and fault-finding -- let us enter religion.’

      “These reasons are worth nothing. Let us consider whether we have sufficient courage and resolution to crucify and annihilate ourselves, or rather to permit God to do so. You must understand what it is to be a religious. It is to be bound to God by the continual mortification of ourselves, and to live only for Him. Our heart is surrendered always and wholly to His Divine Majesty; our eyes, tongue, hands and all our members serve Him continually. Look well into your heart and see if you have resolution enough to die to yourself and to live only to God. Religion is nothing else than a school of renunciation and self mortification.”

      As the call to religious life is supernatural, a vocation springing solely from a purely human motive – such as  those spoken of by St. Francis – the desire of pleasing one’s parents, or some temporal advantage, would not be to work of grace. However, if the principal motive which inclines us to embrace the religious state is supernatural, the vocation is a true one, for Divine Providence often makes use of the trials and misfortunes of life to fill a soul with disgust for the world and prepare it for a greater grace.

      St. Romuald, founder of the Camaldolese, to escape the consequences of a duel in which he had taken part, sought an asylum in a monastery, where he was so struck by the happy lives of the monks that he consecrated himself to God.

      St. Paul, the first hermit, fled to the desert to avoid persecution, and found in the solitude a peace and joy he had sought in vain. How many eyes have been rudely opened to the shortness and uncertainly of life by the sudden death of a dear friend, and made to realize that the gaining of life eternal was “the one thing necessary”; thwarted ambition, the failure of cherished hopes or the disappointment of a loving heart, have convinced many a future saint that the only Master worth serving is Jesus Christ, His affection the only love worth striving for.

      Hence we may conclude with the learned theologian, Lessius, “If anyone takes the determination of entering religion, well resolved to observe its laws and duties, there is no doubt that his resolution, this vocation, comes from God, whatever the circumstances which seem to have produced it.” 

      “It matters little how we commence, provided we are determined to persevere and end well,” says St. Francis de Sales; and St. Thomas lays it down that “no matter from what source our resolution comes  of entering religion, it is from God”; while Suarez maintains that “generally the desire for religious life is from the Holy Ghost, and we ought to receive it as such.”