Wednesday of the Twenty-Seventh Week of Ordinary Time

+Luke 11:1-4

How to pray

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’

He said to them, ‘Say this when you pray:

‘“Father, may your name be held holy,

your kingdom come;

give us each day our daily bread,

and forgive us our sins,

for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us.

And do not put us to the test.”’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Lord’s Prayer: ‘Our Father!’

2759 Jesus “was praying at a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.'” In response to this request the Lord entrusts to his disciples and to his Church the fundamental Christian prayer. St. Luke presents a brief text of five petitions, while St. Matthew gives a more developed version of seven petitions. The liturgical tradition of the Church has retained St. Matthew’s text:

Our Father who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us,

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

2760 Very early on, liturgical usage concluded the Lord’s Prayer with a doxology. In the Didache, we find, “For yours are the power and the glory for ever.” The Apostolic Constitutions add to the beginning: “the kingdom,” and this is the formula retained to our day in ecumenical prayer. The Byzantine tradition adds after “the glory” the words “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” The Roman Missal develops the last petition in the explicit perspective of “awaiting our blessed hope” and of the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then comes the assembly’s acclamation or the repetition of the doxology from the Apostolic Constitutions.

The Summary Of The Whole Gospel”

2761 The Lord’s Prayer “is truly the summary of the whole gospel.” “Since the Lord . . . after handing over the practice of prayer, said elsewhere, ‘Ask and you will receive,’ and since everyone has petitions which are peculiar to his circumstances, the regular and appropriate prayer [the Lord’s Prayer] is said first, as the foundation of further desires.”

At The Center Of The Scriptures

2762 After showing how the psalms are the principal food of Christian prayer and flow together in the petitions of the Our Father, St. Augustine concludes:

Run through all the words of the holy prayers [in Scripture], and I do not think that you will find anything in them that is not contained and included in the Lord’s Prayer.

2763 All the Scriptures – the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms – are fulfilled in Christ. The Gospel is this “Good News.” Its first proclamation is summarized by St. Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount; the prayer to our Father is at the center of this proclamation. It is in this context that each petition bequeathed to us by the Lord is illuminated:

The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers. . . . In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them.

2764 The Sermon on the Mount is teaching for life, the Our Father is a prayer; but in both the one and the other the Spirit of the Lord gives new form to our desires, those inner movements that animate our lives. Jesus teaches us this new life by his words; he teaches us to ask for it by our prayer. The rightness of our life in him will depend on the rightness of our prayer.


 

Psalm 116(117)

Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News.

O praise the Lord, all you nations,

acclaim him all you peoples!

Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News.

Strong is his love for us;

he is faithful for ever.

Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

 

Advertisements

Denis, B & M, and Companions, Mm; John Leonardi, P

+Luke 10:38-42

Martha works; Mary listens

Jesus came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking. Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered: ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.’


+Galatians 1:13-24

God called me through his grace and chose to reveal his Son in me

You must have heard of my career as a practising Jew, how merciless I was in persecuting the Church of God, how much damage I did to it, how I stood out among other Jews of my generation, and how enthusiastic I was for the traditions of my ancestors.

Then God, who had specially chosen me while I was still in my mother’s womb, called me through his grace and chose to reveal his Son in me, so that I might preach the Good News about him to the pagans. I did not stop to discuss this with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were already apostles before me, but I went off to Arabia at once and later went straight back from there to Damascus. Even when after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him for fifteen days, I did not see any of the other apostles; I only saw James, the brother of the Lord, and I swear before God that what I have just written is the literal truth. After that I went to Syria and Cilicia, and was still not known by sight to the churches of Christ in Judaea, who had heard nothing except that their one-time persecutor was now preaching the faith he had previously tried to destroy; and they gave glory to God for me.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Names And Images Of The Church

751 The word “Church” (Latin ecclesia, from the Greek ek-ka-lein, to “call out of”) means a convocation or an assembly. It designates the assemblies of the people, usually for a religious purpose. Ekklesia is used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before God, above all for their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and was established by God as his holy people. By calling itself “Church,” the first community of Christian believers recognized itself as heir to that assembly. In the Church, God is “calling together” his people from all the ends of the earth. The equivalent Greek term Kyriake, from which the English word Church and the German Kirche are derived, means “what belongs to the Lord.”

752 In Christian usage, the word “church” designates the liturgical assembly, but also the local community or the whole universal community of believers. These three meanings are inseparable. “The Church” is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ’s Body.


Psalm 138(139):1-3,13-15

Lead me, O Lord, in the path of life eternal.

O Lord, you search me and you know me,

you know my resting and my rising,

you discern my purpose from afar.

You mark when I walk or lie down,

all my ways lie open to you.

Lead me, O Lord, in the path of life eternal.

For it was you who created my being,

knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I thank you for the wonder of my being,

for the wonders of all your creation.

Lead me, O Lord, in the path of life eternal.

Already you knew my soul,

my body held no secret from you

when I was being fashioned in secret

and moulded in the depths of the earth.

Lead me, O Lord, in the path of life eternal.


Saint Denis was a legendary 3rd-century Christian martyr and saint. According to his hagiographies, he was bishop of Paris in the third century and, together with his companions Rusticus and Eleutherius, was martyred for his faith by decapitation. Some accounts placed this during Domitian’s persecution and identified St Denis of Paris with the Areopagite who was converted by St Paul and who served as the first bishop of Athens. Assuming Denis’s historicity, it is now considered more likely that he suffered under the persecution of the emperor Decius shortly after ad 250. Denis is the most famous cephalophore in Christian legend, with a popular story claiming that the decapitated bishop picked up his head and walked several miles while preaching a sermon on repentance. He is venerated in the Catholic Church as the patron saint of France and Paris and is accounted one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. A chapel was raised at the site of his burial by a local Christian woman; it was later expanded into an abbey and basilica, around which grew up the French city of Saint-Denis, now a suburb of Paris.

Name

The medieval and modern French masculine given name Denis derives from the Latin and Greek name Dionysius. This saint is sometimes distinguished as St Denis of Paris His name is also sometimes spelled Dennis and Denys.

Life

Gregory of Tours states that Denis was bishop of the Parisii and was martyred by being beheaded by a sword. The earliest document giving an account of his life and martyrdom, the “Passio SS. Dionysii Rustici et Eleutherii” dates from c. 600, is mistakenly attributed to the poet Venantius Fortunatus, and is legendary. Nevertheless, it appears from the Passio that Denis was sent from Italy to convert Gaul in the third century, forging a link with the “apostles to the Gauls” reputed to have been sent out with six other missionary bishops under the direction of Pope Fabian. There Denis was appointed first Bishop of Paris. The persecutions under Emperor Decius had all but dissolved the small Christian community at Lutetia (Paris). Denis, with his inseparable companions Rusticus and Eleutherius, who were martyred with him, settled on the Île de la Cité in the River Seine. Roman Paris lay on the higher ground of the Left Bank, away from the river.

Martyrdom

Denis and his companions were so effective in converting people that the non-Christian priests became alarmed over their loss of followers. At their instigation, Roman Governor arrested the missionaries. After a long imprisonment, Denis and two of his clergy were executed by beheading on the highest hill in Paris (now Montmartre), which was likely to have been a druidic holy place. The martyrdom of Denis and his companions is popularly believed to have given the site its current name, derived from the Latin Mons Martyrum “The Martyrs’ Mountain”, although the name is possibly derived from Mons Mercurii et Mons Martis, Hill of Mercury and Mars. After his head was cut off, Denis is said to have picked it up and walked several miles from the summit of the hill, preaching a sermon the entire way, making him one of many cephalophores in hagiology. Of the many accounts of this martyrdom, this is noted in detail in the Golden Legend and in Butler’s Lives Of The Saints. The site where he stopped preaching and actually died was marked by a small shrine that developed into the Saint Denis Basilica, which became the burial place for the kings of France. Another account has his corpse being thrown into the Seine, but recovered and buried later that night by his converts.

Veneration

Veneration of Saint Denis began soon after his death. The bodies of Saints Denis, Eleutherius, and Rusticus were buried on the spot of their martyrdom, where the construction of the saint’s eponymous basilica was begun by Saint Geneviève, assisted by the people of Paris. Her Vita Sanctae Genovefae attests the presence of a shrine near the present basilica by the close of the fifth century.

Dagobert I, great-grandson of Chlothar I had the first Royal Basilica built. The Merovingian tradition was originally to bury kings as Clovis and Chlothildis in Paris, Abbey St-Genevieve/Genovefa as Clovis had ordered its construction in 502 AD. Yet Chilperic I had his own mother Dowager Queen Aregunda at Saint Denis. His grandson was clearly following a family tradition. Aregunda’s (death about 580 AD) tomb was discovered in 1959 and her burial items can be seen at Saint-Germain-en-Laye museum. A successor church was erected by Fulrad, who became abbot in 749/50 and was closely linked with the accession of the Carolingians to the Merovingian throne.

In time, St Denis came to be regarded as the patron saint of the French people, with St Louis the patron of the monarchy and royal dynasties.Saint Denis or Montjoie! Saint Denis! became the typical war-cry of the French armies. The oriflamme, which became the standard of France, was the banner consecrated upon his tomb. His veneration spread beyond France when, in 754, Pope Stephen II, who was French, brought veneration of Saint Denis to Rome. Soon his cultus was prevalent throughout Europe. Abbot Suger removed the relics of Denis, and those associated with Rustique and Eleuthére, from the crypt to reside under the high altar of the Saint-Denis he rebuilt, 1140-44.

In traditional Catholic practice, Saint Denis is honoured as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Specifically, Denis is invoked against diabolical possession and headaches and with Sainte Geneviève is one of the patron saints of Paris.

Feast

October 9 is celebrated as the feast of Saint Denis and companions, a priest named Rusticus and a deacon, Eleutherius, who were martyred alongside him and buried with him. The names Rusticus and Eleutherius are non-historical. The feast of Saint Denis was added to the Roman Calendar in the year 1568 by Pope Pius V, although it had been celebrated since at least the year 800.

Saint Denis is also a commemoration in many Anglican Provinces, including the Church of England and the Anglican Church of Canada, on October 9.


Saint Giovanni Leonardi (1541 – 9 October 1609) was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and the founder of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of Lucca.

Biography

He was the youngest of seven children born to middle-class parents in Diecimo (now within the comune of Borgo a Mozzano) in the Republic of Lucca. From childhood, he sought solitude and wished to dedicate himself to prayer and meditation. At age 17, he began his ten-year study to become a certified pharmacist’s assistant in Lucca. Afterward, he studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1572. He first dedicated himself to the Christian formation of adolescents in his local Lucca parish. He also gathered a group of laymen around him to work in hospitals and prisons. In 1574 he founded a group charged to deepen Christian faith and devotion; this foundation occurred as part of the movement known as the Counter-Reformation. Leonardi worked with this group to spread devotion to the Blessed Mother and devotion to the Forty Hours as well as spreading the message of the importance of frequent reception of the Eucharist.

He became interested in the reforms instituted by the Council of Trent, and he proposed a new congregation of secular priests to convert sinners and to restore Church discipline. In 1583, his association, which became known as the Lucca Fathers, was recognized by the bishop of Lucca with the approval of Pope Gregory XIII. In 1595, his congregation was confirmed by Pope Clement VIII. He assumed the name of “Giovanni of the Mother of God” as his religious name. This foundation received approval from Pope Paul V on January 14, 1614. The pope, encouraged by the cardinal protector Giustiniani issued a papal decree approving the union of the Lucca Fathers with the Piarists of St. Joseph Calasanz. This union would last only until the beginning of 1617 when Paul V issued another decree making the Piarists their own separate congregation.

Civic leaders in Lucca opposed the establishment of a new religious order and acted to stop its formation. While ultimately ineffective, their efforts forced John Leonardi to spend most of the remainder of his life outside Lucca, with special exceptions granted by its government under the influence of the pope. Leonardi took his work to Rome where he became friends with Saint Philip Neri. Neri became his spiritual director and held him in high regard for his qualities of firmness and judgment and entrusted him with delicate works such as the reform of the monks of Vallambrosa and the Benedictine congregation of Montevergine. In 1603, he founded along with Cardinal J. Vivès, the seminary of the Propagation of the Faith for the philosophical and theological training of missionary priests.

In 1621, his community would formally be designated Clerks Regular of the Mother of God. The final Rule of his institute was published in 1851. Two houses of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God were opened when he died and three others were opened during the seventeenth century. He died on October 9, 1609, from the great plague, which he contracted while ministering to his brothers suffering from the influenza epidemic that was raging in Rome at the time.

He was venerated for his miracles and his religious fervor. His memory was held so high in the Holy City that Pope Leo XIII had his name placed in the Roman Martyrology and ordered the Roman clergy to celebrate his Mass and Office, an honor which is otherwise strictly limited to beatified popes.

Leonardi was beatified in 1861 and canonized in 1938 by Pope Pius XI. His liturgical feast is celebrated on 9 October. His relics lie enshrined in Santa Maria in Campitelli, Rome.

Source: Wikipedia

Monday of the Twenty-Seventh Week of Ordinary Time

+Luke 10:25-37

The good Samaritan

There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him, ‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? What do you read there?’ He replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’ ‘You have answered right,’ said Jesus ‘do this and life is yours.’

But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of brigands; they took all he had, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan traveller who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him on to his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said “and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.” Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands‘ hands?’ ‘The one who took pity on him’ he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do the same yourself.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

“Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven”

2822 Our Father “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” He “is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish.” His commandment is “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” This commandment summarizes all the others and expresses his entire will.

2823 “He has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ . . . to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will.” We ask insistently for this loving plan to be fully realized on earth as it is already in heaven.

2824 In Christ, and through his human will, the will of the Father has been perfectly fulfilled once for all. Jesus said on entering into this world: “Lo, I have come to do your will, O God.” Only Jesus can say: “I always do what is pleasing to him.” In the prayer of his agony, he consents totally to this will: “not my will, but yours be done.” For this reason Jesus “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

2825 “Although he was a Son, [Jesus] learned obedience through what he suffered.” How much more reason have we sinful creatures to learn obedience – we who in him have become children of adoption. We ask our Father to unite our will to his Son’s, in order to fulfill his will, his plan of salvation for the life of the world. We are radically incapable of this, but united with Jesus and with the power of his Holy Spirit, we can surrender our will to him and decide to choose what his Son has always chosen: to do what is pleasing to the Father.

In committing ourselves to [Christ], we can become one spirit with him, and thereby accomplish his will, in such wise that it will be perfect on earth as it is in heaven.

Consider how Jesus Christ] teaches us to be humble, by making us see that our virtue does not depend on our work alone but on grace from on high. He commands each of the faithful who prays to do so universally, for the whole world. For he did not say “thy will be done in me or in us,” but “on earth,” the whole earth, so that error may be banished from it, truth take root in it, all vice be destroyed on it, virtue flourish on it, and earth no longer differ from heaven.

2826 By prayer we can discern “what is the will of God” and obtain the endurance to do it. Jesus teaches us that one enters the kingdom of heaven not by speaking words, but by doing “the will of my Father in heaven.”

2827 “If any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.” Such is the power of the Church’s prayer in the name of her Lord, above all in the Eucharist. Her prayer is also a communion of intercession with the all-holy Mother of God and all the saints who have been pleasing to the Lord because they willed his will alone:

It would not be inconsistent with the truth to understand the words, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” to mean: “in the Church as in our Lord Jesus Christ himself”; or “in the Bride who has been betrothed, just as in the Bridegroom who has accomplished the will of the Father.”


Psalm 110(111):1-2,7-10

The Lord keeps his covenant ever in mind.

or

Alleluia!

I will thank the Lord with all my heart

in the meeting of the just and their assembly.

Great are the works of the Lord,

to be pondered by all who love them.

The Lord keeps his covenant ever in mind.

or

Alleluia!

His works are justice and truth,

his precepts are all of them sure,

standing firm for ever and ever;

they are made in uprightness and truth.

The Lord keeps his covenant ever in mind.

or

Alleluia!

He has sent deliverance to his people

and established his covenant for ever.

Holy his name, to be feared.

His praise shall last for ever!

The Lord keeps his covenant ever in mind.

or

Alleluia!

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

+Mark 10:2-16

What God has united, man must not divide

Some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, ‘Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?’ They were testing him. He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ ‘Moses allowed us’ they said ‘to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’ Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them, ‘The man who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.’

People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples turned them away, but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ Then he put his arms round them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing.


Genesis 2:18-24

A man and his wife become one body

The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.’ So from the soil the Lord God fashioned all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven. These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild beasts. But no helpmate suitable for man was found for him. So the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh. The Lord God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man exclaimed:

‘This at last is bone from my bones,

and flesh from my flesh!

This is to be called woman,

for this was taken from man.’

This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The fidelity of conjugal love

1646 By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement “until further notice.” The “intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable union between them.”

1647 The deepest reason is found in the fidelity of God to his covenant, in that of Christ to his Church. Through the sacrament of Matrimony the spouses are enabled to represent this fidelity and witness to it. Through the sacrament, the indissolubility of marriage receives a new and deeper meaning.

1648 It can seem difficult, even impossible, to bind oneself for life to another human being. This makes it all the more important to proclaim the Good News that God loves us with a definitive and irrevocable love, that married couples share in this love, that it supports and sustains them, and that by their own faithfulness they can be witnesses to God’s faithful love. Spouses who with God’s grace give this witness, often in very difficult conditions, deserve the gratitude and support of the ecclesial community.

1649 Yet there are some situations in which living together becomes practically impossible for a variety of reasons. In such cases the Church permits the physical separation of the couple and their living apart. The spouses do not cease to be husband and wife before God and so are not free to contract a new union. In this difficult situation, the best solution would be, if possible, reconciliation. The Christian community is called to help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in fidelity to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble.

1650 Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.

1651 Toward Christians who live in this situation, and who often keep the faith and desire to bring up their children in a Christian manner, priests and the whole community must manifest an attentive solicitude, so that they do not consider themselves separated from the Church, in whose life they can and must participate as baptized persons:

They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts for justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace.


Psalm 127

A song of ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD build the house, they labor in vain who build. Unless the LORD guard the city, in vain does the guard keep watch.

It is vain for you to rise early and put off your rest at night, To eat bread earned by hard toil –  all this God gives to his beloved in sleep.

Children too are a gift from the LORD, the fruit of the womb, a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one’s youth.

Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate.

Source: The New American Bible

Bruno, P; Bl. Marie Rose Durocher, V

+Luke 10:17-24

Rejoice that your names are written in heaven

The seventy-two came back rejoicing. ‘Lord,’ they said ‘even the devils submit to us when we use your name.’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Yes, I have given you power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you. Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.’

It was then that, filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, he said:

‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’

Then turning to his disciples he spoke to them in private, ‘Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Church is communion with Jesus

787 From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings. Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: “Abide in me, and I in you. . . . I am the vine, you are the branches.” And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”

788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit. As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.”

789 The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body. Three aspects of the Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically noted: the unity of all her members with each other as a result of their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church as bride of Christ.


Job 42:1-3,5-6,12-17

In dust and in ashes I repent

This was the answer Job gave to the Lord:

I know that you are all-powerful:

what you conceive, you can perform.

I am the man who obscured your designs

with my empty-headed words.

I have been holding forth on matters I cannot understand,

on marvels beyond me and my knowledge.

I knew you then only by hearsay;

but now, having seen you with my own eyes,

I retract all I have said,

and in dust and ashes I repent.

The Lord blessed Job’s new fortune even more than his first one. He came to own fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand she-donkeys. He had seven sons and three daughters; his first daughter he called ‘Turtledove’, the second ‘Cassia’ and the third ‘Mascara.’ Throughout the land there were no women as beautiful as the daughters of Job. And their father gave them inheritance rights like their brothers.

After his trials, Job lived on until he was a hundred and forty years old, and saw his children and his children’s children up to the fourth generation. Then Job died, an old man and full of days.

Source: Jerusalem Bible


Psalm 118(119):66,71,75,91,125,130

Let your face shine on your servant, O Lord.

Teach me discernment and knowledge

for I trust in your commands.

It was good for me to be afflicted,

to learn your statutes.

Let your face shine on your servant, O Lord.

Lord, I know that your decrees are right,

that you afflicted me justly.

By your decree it endures to this day;

for all things serve you.

Let your face shine on your servant, O Lord.

I am your servant, give me knowledge;

then I shall know your will.

The unfolding of your word gives light

and teaches the simple.

Let your face shine on your servant, O Lord.

Source: Jerusalem Bible


Bruno of Cologne (Cologne c. 1030 – Serra San Bruno 6 October 1101) was the founder of the Carthusian Order, he personally founded the order’s first two communities. He was a celebrated teacher at Reims, and a close advisor of his former pupil, Pope Urban II. His feast day is October 6.

Life

Bruno was born at Cologne about the year 1030. According to tradition, he belonged to the family of Hartenfaust, or Hardebüst, one of the principal families of the city. Little is known of his early years, except that he studied theology in the present-day French city of Reims before returning to his native land.

His education completed, Bruno returned to Cologne, where he was most likely ordained a priest around 1055, and provided with a canonry at St. Cunibert’s. In 1056 Bishop Gervais recalled him to Reims, where the following year he found himself head of the episcopal school, which at the time included the direction of the schools and the oversight of all the educational establishments of the diocese. For eighteen years, from 1057 to 1075, he maintained the prestige which the school of Reims attained under its former masters, Remi of Auxerre, and others.

Bruno led the school for nearly two decades, acquiring an excellent reputation as a philosopher and theologian. Among his students were Eudes of Châtillon, afterwards Pope Urban II, Rangier, Cardinal and Bishop of Reggio, Robert, Bishop of Langres, and a large number of prelates and abbots.

Chancellor of the Diocese of Reims

In 1075, Bruno was appointed chancellor of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Reims, which involved him in the daily administration of the diocese. Meanwhile, the pious Bishop Gervais de Château-du-Loir, a friend to Bruno, had been succeeded by Manasses de Gournai, a violent aristocrat with no real vocation for the Church. In 1077, at the urging of Bruno and the clergy at Reims, de Gournai was suspended at a council at Autun. He responded, in typical eleventh century fashion, by having his retainers pull down the houses of his accusers. He confiscated their goods, sold their benefices, and even appealed to the pope. Bruno discreetly avoided the cathedral city until in 1080 a definite sentence, confirmed by popular riot, compelled Manasses to withdraw and take refuge with Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, the fierce opponent of Pope Gregory VII.

Refusal to become a Bishop

Saint Bruno refuses the archbishopric of Reggio di Calabria, by Vincenzo Carducci, Chartreuse of el Paular.

On the verge of being made bishop himself, Bruno instead followed a vow he had made to renounce secular concerns and withdrew, along with two of his friends, Raoul and Fulcius, also canons of Reims.

Bruno’s first thought on leaving Reims seems to have been to place himself and his companions under the direction of an eminent solitary, Robert of Molesme, who had recently (1075) settled at Sèche-Fontaine, near Molesme in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Langres, together with a band of other hermits, who were later on (in 1098) to form the Cistercians. But he soon found that this was not his vocation. After a short stay he went with six of his companions to Hugh of Châteauneuf, Bishop of Grenoble. The bishop, according to the pious legend, had recently had a vision of these men, under a chaplet of seven stars, and he installed them himself in 1084 in a mountainous and uninhabited spot in the lower Alps of the Dauphiné, in a place named Chartreuse, not far from Grenoble. With St. Bruno were: Landuin, Stephen of Bourg, Stephen of Die (canons of St. Rufus), Hugh the Chaplain and two laymen, Andrew and Guerin, who afterwards became the first lay brothers.

They built an oratory with small individual cells at a distance from each other where they lived isolated and in poverty, entirely occupied in prayer and study, for these men had a reputation for learning, and were frequently honored by the visits of St. Hugh who became like one of themselves.

At the time, Bruno’s pupil, Eudes of Châtillon, had become pope as Urban II (1088). Resolved to continue the work of reform commenced by Gregory VII, and being obliged to struggle against Antipope Clement III and Emperor Henry IV, he was in dire need of competent and devoted allies and called his former master to Rome in 1090.

It is difficult to assign the place which Bruno occupied in Rome, or his influence in contemporary events, because it remained entirely hidden and confidential. Lodged in the Lateran with the pope himself, privy to his most private councils, he worked as an advisor but wisely kept in the background, apart from the fiercely partisan rivalries in Rome and within the curia. Shortly after his arrival in Rome, the papal party was forced to evacuate to the south by the arrival of Henry IV with his own antipope in tow.

Bruno did not attend the Council of Clermont, where Urban preached the First Crusade, but seems to have been present at the Council of Benevento (March, 1091). His part in history is effaced.

During the voyage south, the former professor of Reims attracted attention in Reggio Calabria, which had just lost its Archbishop Arnulph in the year 1090. The pope and Roger Borsa, the Norman Duke of Apulia, strongly approved of the election and pressed Bruno to accept it. Bruno sidestepped the offer, which he guided to one of his former pupils nearby at an abbey near Salerno of the Order of Saint Benedict. Instead Bruno begged to return again to his solitary life. His intention was to rejoin his brethren in Dauphiné, as a letter addressed to them makes clear. But the will of Urban II kept him in Italy, near the papal court, to which he could be called at need.

The place for his new retreat, chosen in 1091 by Bruno and some followers who had joined him, was in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Squillace, in a small forested high valley, where the band constructed a little wooden chapel and cabins. His patron there was Roger I of Sicily, Count of Sicily and Calabria and uncle of the Duke of Apulia, who granted them the lands they occupied, and a close friendship developed. Bruno went to the Guiscard court at Mileto to visit the count in his sickness (1098 and 1101), and to baptize his son, Roger (1097), the future King of Sicily. But more often Roger went into retreat with his friends, where he erected a simple house for himself. Through his generosity, the monastery of St. Stephen was built in 1095, near the original hermitage dedicated to the Virgin.

At the turn of the new century, the friends of St. Bruno died one after the other: Urban II in 1099; Landuin, the prior of the Grande Chartreuse, his first companion, in 1100; Count Roger in 1101. Bruno followed on 6 October 1101 in Serra San Bruno.

Bruno’s legacy

After his death, the Carthusians of Calabria, following a frequent custom of the Middle Ages, dispatched a roll-bearer, a servant of the community laden with a long roll of parchment, hung round his neck, who travelled through Italy, France, Germany, and England, stopping to announce the death of Bruno, and in return, the churches, communities, or chapters inscribed upon his roll, in prose or verse, the expression of their regrets, with promises of prayers. Many of these rolls have been preserved, but few are so extensive or so full of praise as that about St. Bruno. A hundred and seventy-eight witnesses, of whom many had known the deceased, celebrated the extent of his knowledge and the fruitfulness of his instruction. Strangers to him were above all struck by his great knowledge and talents. But his disciples praised his three chief virtues — his great spirit of prayer, extreme mortification, and devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

Both the churches built by him in the desert were dedicated to the Blessed Virgin: Our Lady of Casalibus in Dauphiné and Our Lady Della Torre in Calabria; faithful to his inspirations, the Carthusian Statutes proclaim the Mother of God the first and chief patron of all the houses of the order, whoever may be their particular patron. He is also the eponym for San Bruno Creek in California.

Inscription in the Roman Calendar

Bruno was buried in the little cemetery of the hermitage of Santa Maria. In 1513, his bones were discovered with the epitaph “Haec sunt ossa magistri Brunonis” (these are the bones of the master Bruno) over them. Since the Carthusian Order maintains a strict observance of humility, Saint Bruno was never formally canonized. He was not included in the Tridentine Calendar, but in the year 1623 Pope Gregory XV included him in the General Roman Calendar for celebration on 6 October.

Saint Bruno has long been regarded the patron saint of Calabria and one of the patron saints of Germany.

A writer as well as founder of his order, Saint Bruno composed commentaries on the Psalms and on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle. Two letters of his also remain, his profession of faith, and a short elegy on contempt for the world which shows that he cultivated poetry. St Bruno’s Commentaries reveal that he knew a little Hebrew and Greek; he was familiar with the Church Fathers, especially Augustine of Hippo and Ambrose. “His style,” said Dom Rivet, “is concise, clear, nervous and simple, and his Latin as good as could be expected of that century: it would be difficult to find a composition of this kind at once more solid and more luminous, more concise and more clear.”

In Catholic art, Saint Bruno can be recognized by a skull that he holds and contemplates, with a book and a cross. He may be crowned with a halo of seven stars; or with a roll bearing the device O Bonitas.


The Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher, S.N.J.M., (6 October 1811 – 6 October 1849) was a Canadian Roman Catholic religious sister, who founded the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. She was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in 1982.

She was born Eulalie Mélanie Durocher in the village of Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, on 6 October 1811. She was the tenth of eleven children born to Olivier and Geneviève Durocher, a prosperous farming family. Three of her siblings died in infancy. Her brothers Flavien, Théophile, and Eusèbe entered the Roman Catholic priesthood, and her sister Séraphine joined the Congregation of Notre Dame.

Durocher was home-schooled by her paternal grandfather Olivier Durocher until the age of 10. Upon his death in 1821, she became a boarding pupil at a convent run by the Congregation of Notre Dame in Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu until 1823, where she took First Communion aged 12. After leaving the convent she returned home to be privately tutored by Jean-Marie-Ignace Archambault, a teacher at the Collège de Saint-Hyacinthe. During this time she owned a horse named Caesar and became a competent equestrian.

In 1827, aged 16, Durocher entered the boarding school of the Congregation of Notre Dame in Montreal in 1827, where she intended to enter the novitiate as her sister Séraphine had earlier done. However, her health proved too poor to allow her to complete her education there and after two years she returned home. A contemporary of Durocher’s from her time at boarding school later wrote: “[Durocher] was wonderful; she alone was unaware of her own worth, attributing all to God that was found favourable in her, and asserting that of herself she was only weakness and misery. She possessed charming modesty, was gentle and amiable; attentive always to the voice of her teachers, she was still more so to the voice of God, who spoke to her heart.”

In 1830, Durocher’s mother Geneviève died, and Durocher assumed her mother’s role as homemaker. In 1831, Durocher’s brother Theophile, who at that time was curate of Saint-Mathieu Parish in Belœil, persuaded his father and Durocher to move from the family farm to the presbytery of his parish. At the presbytery, Durocher worked as housekeeper and secretary to Theophile between 1831 and 1843. During the course of this work she was made aware of the severe shortage of schools and teachers in the surrounding countryside (in 1835 Quebec was home to only 15 schools) and discussed with her family and acquaintances the need for a religious community specifically dedicated to the education of children both rich and poor.

Foundress

In 1841, Louis-Moïse Brassard, parish priest of Longueuil, entered discussions with Charles-Joseph-Eugène de Mazenod, Bishop of Marseilles, France, for the establishment of a mission to Quebec by a French religious congregation known as the Sœurs des Saints-Noms de Jésus et de Marie. Durocher learned of the proposed mission through Brassard. Along with her friend Mélodie Dufresne, Durocher applied in advance to join the novitiate of the new congregation upon its arrival in Canada. However, the mission ultimately did not go ahead, and Mazenod instead advised Ignace Bourget, Bishop of Montreal, whom Mazenod had met during Bourget’s European visit of that year, to establish a similar congregation in Canada, based upon the two women who had been eager to be part of the French group.

On 2 December 1841, a mission of the Oblate Fathers arrived in Montreal, and in August 1842 opened a church at Longueuil. Among the Oblates was a Father Pierre-Adrien Telmon, who travelled to Belœil to conduct popular missions, where he met Durocher and became her spiritual director.On 6 October 1843, Durocher travelled to Longueuil to witness her brother Eusèbe profess his religious vows, and there she met Bishop Bourget. Together, Bourget and Telmon petitioned Durocher to take a leading role in the foundation of a new religious congregation dedicated to the Christian education of youth. Durocher agreed to this request, and on 28 October 1843, Durocher began her postulancy at Saint-Antoine Church in Longueuil under the direction of Father Jean-Marie François Allard, a member of the Oblates. Two companions entered training alongside her: Durocher’s friend Mélodie Dufresne, and Henriette Céré, a schoolteacher of Longueuil at whose school building Durocher and Dufresne roomed during their postulancy.

On 28 February 1844, in a ceremony conducted by Bishop Bourget, the three postulants began their novitiate, assumed the religious habit and received their religious names. Durocher took the name Sister Marie-Rose, Dufresne became Sister Marie-Agnes and Céré became known as Sister Marie-Madeleine. Bishop Bourget gave the newly founded community diocesan approval and named it the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, after the French community Durocher had hoped to join. The sisters adopted the rule and constitutions of their French namesakes, as well as a modified version of their habit. On 8 December 1844, Durocher, Dufresne and Céré professed religious vows in the church at Longueuil. Bourget named Durocher as mother superior, mistress of novices, and depositary of the new congregation.

The new congregation began teaching out of Henriette Céré’s schoohouse, but demand for their services was extraordinary and on 4 August 1844 they were forced to move to larger premises. The number of prospective pupils continued to rise over the following years, with the result that between February 1844 and October 1849 the sisters established four convents (in Longueuil, Belœil, Saint Lin and Saint Timothée) employing 30 teachers and enrolling (as of 6 October 1849) 448 pupils. The sisters developed a course of study that provided equally for English and French pupils. Originally the sisters had planned to teach only girls but their missionary requirements eventually forced them to teach boys in some provinces.

On 17 March 1845 the sisters were incorporated by an act of the Canadian Parliament. During 1846, Durocher clashed with Charles Chiniquy, an outspoken priest who would eventually leave the Roman Catholic Church and become a Protestant. Chiniquy wished to take control of teaching in the sisters’ schools, and when he was blocked in this aim by Durocher, he publicly disparaged the sisters.

Death and beatification

Durocher, troubled throughout her life by ill health, died of a “wasting illness” on 6 October 1849, aged 38. Her funeral was held the same day in the church of Longueuil, with Bishop Ignace Bourget presiding. Since 1 May 2004, Durocher’s remains have been interred in the Chapelle Marie-Rose in the right transept of the Co-cathedral of St. Anthony of Padua in Longueuil.

In a statement made in 1880, Bishop Ignace Bourget called for Durocher’s canonization, saying: “I invoke her aid as a saint for myself, and I hope that the Lord will glorify her before men by having the church award her the honours of the altar.” On 9 November 1927, Alphonse-Emmanuel Deschamps, Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal, appointed an ecclesiastical tribunal to enquire into the possible canonisation of Durocher. The tribunal was empowered by ecclesiastical mandate to collect anything written by Durocher, and called upon Roman Catholics of Montreal to produce any privately held documents in accordance with that mandate. The evidence gathered by the tribunal was collected in a positio, which was then taken to Rome for presentation to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

On 2 October 1972 the cause for her beatification was officially introduced by Pope Paul VI, bestowing upon Durocher the title of “Servant of God”. On 13 July 1979 a declaration was made with respect to Durocher’s heroic virtues, resulting in Durocher receiving the title “Venerable”. On 23 May 1982 she was beatified by decree of Pope John Paul II. The decree was made before a crowd in St Peter’s Square in Rome. Beatification is the third of four steps on the path to Roman Catholic sainthood, and bestows the title of “Blessed” upon Durocher. Durocher’s feast day is celebrated on 6 October.

Several alleged miracles have been posthumously connected with Durocher. In 1946, a Detroit man, Benjamin Modzell, was crushed against a wall by a truck and pronounced dead. He was reported to recover after prayers were made invoking Durocher. This incident was the primary miracle upon which Durocher’s beatification was based.

In 1973, sisters at their Spokane, Washington, convent claimed to have a stopped a fire at a chapel in Fort Wright College by invoking Durocher through prayer. The fire, which started in Spokane River gorge, was approaching the campus when the sisters tacked Durocher’s picture to trees and prayed to her for help. Flames were reportedly within 15 feet of the chapel, with smoke filling the interior, when the fire changed direction. Similarly, in 1979, Frank Carr, the owner of a lake resort in Tonasket, Washington, observed an uncontrolled wildfire change direction after he tossed a picture of Durocher into the flames. Said Carr, “All I know is that we threw in the picture and the wind changed. There’s no question the fire would have taken the orchard, some farm houses and the resort if it hadn’t turned.”

Durocher is commemorated in a stained glass window in Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal, where she is depicted alongside Frances Xavier Cabrini and Andre Bessette. The College Durocher St Lambert, Quebec, is named after Durocher, as is the Eulalie Durocher High School in Montreal. Durocher Hall at Holy Names University Oakland, California, is one building named in her honor, as is Durocher Pavilion on the grounds of St. Cecilia Parish in San Francisco.

Source: Wikipedia

Saint Faustina Kowalska, Religious

+Luke 10:13-16

Anyone who rejects me rejects the one who sent me

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. And still, it will not go as hard with Tyre and Sidon at the Judgement as with you. And as for you, Capernaum, did you want to be exalted high as heaven? You shall be thrown down to hell.

‘Anyone who listens to you listens to me; anyone who rejects you rejects me, and those who reject me reject the one who sent me.’


Job 38:1,12-21,40:3-5

The immeasurable greatness of God

From the heart of the tempest the Lord gave Job his answer. He said:

Have you ever in your life given orders to the morning

or sent the dawn to its post,

telling it to grasp the earth by its edges

and shake the wicked out of it,

when it changes the earth to sealing clay

and dyes it as a man dyes clothes;

stealing the light from wicked men

and breaking the arm raised to strike?

Have you journeyed all the way to the sources of the sea,

or walked where the Abyss is deepest?

Have you been shown the gates of Death

or met the janitors of Shadowland?

Have you an inkling of the extent of the earth?

Tell me all about it if you have!

Which is the way to the home of the light,

and where does darkness live?

You could then show them the way to their proper places,

or put them on the path to where they live!

If you know all this, you must have been born with them,

you must be very old by now!

Job replied to the Lord:

My words have been frivolous: what can I reply?

I had better lay my finger on my lips.

I have spoken once… I will not speak again;

more than once… I will add nothing.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Magisterium of the Church

85 “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

86 “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God,  but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”

87 Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me”, the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.


Psalm 141

A psalm of David. LORD, I call to you; come quickly to help me; listen to my plea when I call.

Let my prayer be incense before you; my uplifted hands an evening sacrifice.

Set a guard, LORD, before my mouth, a gatekeeper at my lips.

Do not let my heart incline to evil, or yield to any sin. I will never feast upon the fine food of evildoers.

Let the just strike me; that is kindness; let them rebuke me; that is oil for my head. All this I shall not refuse, but will pray despite these trials.

When their leaders are cast over the cliff, all will learn that my prayers were heard.

As when a farmer plows a field into broken clods, so their bones will be strewn at the mouth of Sheol.

My eyes are upon you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I take refuge; do not strip me of life.

Guard me from the trap they have set for me, from the snares of evildoers.

Into their own nets let all the wicked fall, while I make good my own escape.


Psalm 142

A maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A prayer.

With full voice I cry to the LORD; with full voice I beseech the LORD.

Before God I pour out my complaint, lay bare my distress.

My spirit is faint within me, but you know my path. Along the way I walk they have hidden a trap for me.

I look to my right hand, but no friend is there. There is no escape for me; no one cares for me.

I cry out to you, LORD, I say, You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.

Listen to my cry for help, for I am brought very low. Rescue me from my pursuers, for they are too strong for me.

Lead me out of my prison, that I may give thanks to your name. Then the just shall gather around me because you have been good to me.


Saint Maria Faustyna Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament OLM (born Helena Kowalska; 1905–1938), popularly spelled Faustina, was a Polish Roman Catholic nun and mystic. Her apparitions of Jesus Christ inspired the Roman Catholic devotion to the Divine Mercy and earned her the title of “Apostle of Divine Mercy”.

Throughout her life, Faustina reported having visions of Jesus and conversations with him, of which she wrote in her diary, later published as The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul. Her biography, submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, quoted some of these conversations with Jesus regarding the Divine Mercy devotion.

At the age of 20 years, she joined a convent in Warsaw, Poland, was transferred to Płock, and was later moved to Vilnius where she met her confessor Father Michał Sopoćko, who supported her devotion to the Divine Mercy. Faustina and Sopoćko directed an artist to paint the first Divine Mercy image, based on Faustina’s vision of Jesus. Sopoćko used the image in celebrating the first Mass on the first Sunday after Easter. Subsequently, Pope John Paul II established the Feast of Divine Mercy on that Sunday of each liturgical year.

The Roman Catholic Church canonized Faustina as a saint on 30 April 2000. The mystic is classified in the liturgy as a virgin and is venerated within the Church as the “Apostle of Divine Mercy”.

Early life

Childhood and early years

She was born as Helena Kowalska on 25 August 1905 in Głogowiec, Łęczyca County, north-west of Łódź in Poland. She was the third of ten children of Stanisław Kowalski and Marianna Kowalska. Her father was a carpenter and a peasant, and the family was poor and religious.

She stated that she first felt a calling to the religious life while attending the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 7 years of age. She wanted to enter the convent after completing her time at school, but her parents would not give her permission. When she was 16 years old, she went to work as a housekeeper, first in Aleksandrów Łódzki where she received the Sacrament of Confirmation, then in Łódź, to support herself and to help her parents.

Joining the convent in Warsaw

In 1924, at the age of 19 years, Faustina went with her sister Natalia to a dance in a park in Łódź. Faustina said that, while at the dance, she had a vision of a suffering Jesus. She then went to the Cathedral. From there, she said Jesus instructed her to depart for Warsaw immediately and to join a convent.She took a train for Warsaw (around 85 miles away) without gaining the permission of her parents, knowing anyone in Warsaw, or bringing any belongings other than the dress she was wearing. After she arrived, she entered the first church she saw (Saint James Church in Warsaw) and attended Mass. She asked the priest, Father Dąbrowski, for suggestions, and he recommended staying with a Mrs. Lipszycowa, a local woman whom he considered trustworthy, until she found a convent.

Faustina approached several convents in Warsaw, but was turned down every time, in one case being told that “we do not accept maids here”, referring to her poverty. Faustina could read and write and had three or four years of education. After several weeks of searching, the mother superior at the convent of Zgromadzenie Sióstr Matki Bożej Miłosierdzia (Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy) decided to give Faustina a chance and conditionally accepted her, provided that she could pay for her religious habit. Faustina knew nothing of the convent she was entering except that she believed she was led there.

In 1925, Faustina worked as a housemaid to save money, making deposits at the Convent throughout the year, and finally gained acceptance. On 30 April 1926, at the age of 20 years, she received her habit and took the religious name of Sister Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament. The name “Faustina” is a diminutive of Fausta, which means “fortunate” or “lucky”.Richard Torreto sees it as the feminine form of the name of a Roman martyr Faustinus, killed in AD 120.Faustinus and Jovita. The Roman Martyrology lists a Saint Faustina of about AD 580 and two ancient saints (as well as four modern ones) called Faustinus, assigning the Roman martyr to the third or fourth century, while the other is the Faustinus associated with Jovita. In April 1928, she took her first religious vows as a nun with her parents attending the profession rite. She was a nun for a little more than a decade, and she died at the age of 33 years on 5 October 1938.

From February to April 1929, she was sent to the convent in Wilno, then in Poland, now Vilnius, Lithuania, as a cook. Although her time in that city was short, she returned there later and met Father Michael Sopoćko, who supported her mission. A year after her first return from Vilnius, in May 1930, she was transferred to the convent in Płock, Poland, for almost two years.

Life as a nun

Faustina arrived in Płock in May 1930. That year, the first signs of her illness (which was later thought to be tuberculosis) appeared, and she was sent to rest for several months in a nearby farm owned by her religious order. After recovery, she returned to the convent, and by February 1931, she had been in the Płock area for about nine months.

Faustina wrote that on the night of Sunday, 22 February 1931, while she was in her cell in Płock, Jesus appeared wearing a white garment with red and pale rays emanating from his heart. In her diary (Notebook I, items 47 and 48), she wrote that Jesus told her:

Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: “Jesus, I trust in You” (in Polish: “Jezu, ufam Tobie”). I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and then throughout the world. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.

Not knowing how to paint, Faustina approached some other nuns at the convent in Płock for help, but she received no assistance. Three years later, after her assignment to Vilnius, the first artistic rendering of the image was performed under her direction.

In the same 22 February 1931 message about the Divine Mercy image, Faustina also wrote in her diary (Notebook I, item 49) that Jesus told her that he wanted the Divine Mercy image to be “solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy.”

In November 1932, Faustina returned to Warsaw to prepare to take her final vows as a nun. On 1 May 1933, she took her final vows in Łagiewniki and became a perpetual sister of Our Lady of Mercy.

Vilnius and meeting Father Sopoćko

In late May 1933, Faustina was transferred to Vilnius to work as the gardener, completing tasks including growing vegetables. She remained in Vilnius for about three years until March 1936. The convent in Vilnius had only 18 sisters at the time and consisted of a few scattered small houses rather than a large building.

Shortly after arriving in Vilnius, Faustina met Father Michael Sopoćko, the newly appointed confessor to the nuns. Sopoćko was also a professor of pastoral theology at Stefan Batory University (now called Vilnius University).

When Faustina went to Sopoćko for her first confession, she told him that she had been conversing with Jesus, who had a plan for her. After some time, in 1933 Father Sopoćko insisted on a complete psychiatric evaluation of Faustina by Helena Maciejewska, a psychiatrist and a physician associated with the convent. Faustina passed the required tests and was declared of sound mind.

Thereafter, Sopoćko began to have confidence in Faustina and supported her efforts. Sopoćko also advised Faustina to begin writing a diary and to record the conversations and messages from Jesus that she was reporting. Faustina told Sopoćko about the Divine Mercy image, and in January 1934, Sopoćko introduced her to the artist Eugene Kazimierowski who was also a professor at the university.

By June 1934, Kazimierowski had finished painting the image based on the direction of Faustina and Father Sopoćko. That was the only Divine Mercy painting Faustina saw. A superimposition of the face of Jesus in the Image of the Divine Mercy upon that in the already well-known Shroud of Turin shows great similarity. This original Kazimirowski (Vilnius) Image, which was painted under the guidance of Saint Faustina in 1934, is once again becoming the most venerated Image of the Divine Mercy.

Faustina wrote in her diary (Notebook I item 414) that, on Good Friday, 19 April 1935, Jesus told her that he wanted the Divine Mercy image publicly honoured. A week later, on 26 April 1935, Father Sopoćko delivered the first sermon ever on the Divine Mercy, and Faustina attended the sermon.

The first Mass during which the Divine Mercy image was displayed occurred on 28 April 1935, the first Sunday after Easter Sunday, and was attended by Faustina. This day was also the celebration of the end of the Jubilee of the Redemption by Pope Pius XI. Father Sopoćko obtained Archbishop Jałbrzykowski’s permission to place the Divine Mercy image within the Gate of Dawn church in Vilnius during the Mass that Sunday and celebrated the Mass himself.

On 13 September 1935, while still in Vilnius, Faustina wrote of a vision about the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in her diary (Notebook I item 476).[25] The chaplet is about a third of the length of the Rosary. Faustina wrote that the purpose for chaplet’s prayers for mercy are threefold: to obtain mercy, to trust in Christ’s mercy, and to show mercy to others.

In November 1935, Faustina wrote the rules for a new contemplative religious congregation devoted to the Divine Mercy. In December, she visited a house in Vilnius which she said she had seen in a vision as the first convent for the congregation.

In January 1936, Faustina went to see Archbishop Jałbrzykowski to discuss a new congregation for Divine Mercy. However, he reminded her that she was perpetually vowed to her current order. In March 1936, Faustina told her superiors that she was thinking of leaving the order to start a new one specifically devoted to Divine Mercy, but she was transferred to Walendów, southwest of Warsaw. She reported that Jesus had said to her: “My Daughter, do whatever is within your power to spread devotion to My Divine Mercy, I will make up for what you lack.”

Kraków and Saint Faustina’s final years

In 1936, Father Sopoćko wrote the first brochure on the Divine Mercy devotion, and Archbishop Jałbrzykowski provided his imprimatur for it. The brochure carried the Divine Mercy image on the cover. Sopoćko sent copies of the brochure to Faustina in Warsaw.

Later in 1936, Faustina became ill, since speculated to be tuberculosis. She was moved to the sanatorium in Prądnik, Kraków. She continued to spend much time in prayer, reciting the chaplet and praying for the conversion of sinners. The last two years of her life were spent praying and keeping her diary.

On 23 March 1937, Faustina wrote in her diary (Notebook III, item 1044) that she had a vision that the feast of the Divine Mercy would be celebrated in her local chapel and would be attended by large crowds and also that the same celebration would be held in Rome attended by the Pope.

In July 1937 the first holy cards with the Divine Mercy image were printed. In August, Father Sopoćko asked Faustina to write the instructions for the Novena of Divine Mercy, which she had reported as a message from Jesus on Good Friday 1937.

Throughout 1937, progress was made in promoting the Divine Mercy, and in November 1937, a pamphlet was published with the title Christ, King of Mercy. The pamphlet included the chaplet, the novena, and the litany of the Divine Mercy. The Divine Mercy image appeared on the cover, with the signature, “Jesus I Trust in You”. On 10 November 1937, Mother Irene, Faustina’s superior, showed her the booklets while Faustina rested in her bed.

As her health deteriorated at the end of 1937, Faustina’s reported visions intensified, and she was said to be looking forward to an end to her life. In April 1938, her illness had progressed, and she was sent to rest in the sanatorium in Prądnik for what was to be her final stay there.

In September 1938, Father Sopoćko visited her at the sanatorium and found her very ill but in ecstasy as she was praying. Later in the month, she was taken back home to Kraków to await her death there. Father Sopoćko visited her at the convent for the last time on 26 September 1938.

Faustina died at the age of 33 on 5 October 1938 in Kraków. She was buried on 7 October and now rests at Kraków’s Basilica of Divine Mercy.

Devotion to Divine Mercy

Spread of the devotion

Before her death Faustina predicted that “there will be a war, a terrible, terrible war” and asked the nuns to pray for Poland. In 1939, a year after Faustina’s death when Archbishop Jałbrzykowski noticed that her predictions about the war had taken place, he allowed public access to the Divine Mercy image which resulted in large crowds that led to the spread of the Divine Mercy devotion. The Divine Mercy devotion became a source of strength and inspiration for many people in Poland. By 1941 the devotion had reached the United States and millions of copies of Divine Mercy prayer cards were printed and distributed worldwide.

In 1942 Jałbrzykowski was arrested by the Nazis, and Father Sopoćko and other professors went into hiding near Vilnius for about two years. During that period Sopoćko used his time to prepare for establishment of a new religious congregation based on the Divine Mercy messages reported by Faustina. After the war, Sopoćko wrote the constitution for the congregation and helped the formation of what is now the Congregation of the Sisters of the Divine Mercy. By 1951, 13 years after Faustina’s death, there were 150 Divine Mercy centers in Poland.

On 24 June 1956, Pope Pius XII blessed an Image of the Divine Mercy in Rome, the only one blessed by a Pope before the Second Vatican Council. In 1955, under Pope Pius XII, the Bishop of Gorzów founded a religious order called the Congregation of the Most Holy Lord Jesus Christ, Merciful Redeemer, to spread devotion to the Divine Mercy. Under both Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII, writings on devotion to the Divine Mercy were given imprimaturs by many bishops, making it an approved devotion. Cardinals Adam Stefan Sapieha and August Hlond were among those who gave their approval. During the papacy of Pope Pius XII, Vatican Radio broadcast several times about the Divine Mercy.

After a failed attempt to persuade Pope Pius XII to sign a condemnation, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani at the Holy Office included her works on a list he submitted to the newly elected Pope John XXIII in 1959. On 6 March 1959, the Holy Office issued a notification, signed by Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty as notary, that forbade circulation of “images and writings that promote devotion to Divine Mercy in the forms proposed by Sister Faustina” (emphasis in the original). The negative judgment of the Holy Office was based both on a faulty French or Italiantranslation of the diary, and on theological difficulties such as the claim that Jesus had promised complete remission of sin for certain devotional acts without specifying whether the forgiveness would be obtained directly or through undertaking reception of the sacraments, and what may have been thought to be excessive concentration on Faustina herself.

The ban remained in place for almost two decades. Meanwhile, Archbishop Karol Wojtyła of Kraków began in 1965, with the approval of the head of the Holy Office, the informative process on Faustina’s life and virtues, Then, on 15 April 1978, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a new notification, signed by the Prefect and the Secretary of the Congregation, that rescinded the previous one, reversing the ban on circulation of Faustina’s work. It decreed: “This Sacred Congregation, in view of the many original documents that were unknown in 1959, giving consideration to the profoundly changed circumstances, and taking into account the view of many Polish ordinaries, declares no longer binding the prohibitions contained in the cited ‘notification’.”. “Also, the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared that, “with the new ‘notification’ … there no longer exists, on the part of this Sacred Congregation, any impediment to the spreading of the devotion to The Divine Mercy.”

Archbishop Karol Wojtyła later became Pope John Paul II and beatified and canonized Faustina. He died in April 2005 on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, was himself beatified by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, on Divine Mercy Sunday, 1 May 2011, and was canonized by Pope Francis on Divine Mercy Sunday, 27 April 2014. Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter (the Sunday after Easter Sunday).

Sainthood

In 1965, with the approval of the Holy Office, Karol Wojtyła, then Archbishop of Kraków and later Pope John Paul II, opened the initial informative process into Faustina’s life and virtues, interviewed witnesses and in 1967 submitted a number of documents about Faustina to the Vatican, requesting the start of the official process of her beatification. This was begun in 1968,  and concluded with her beatification on 18 April 1993. Saint Faustina was beatified on 18 April 1993 and canonized on 30 April 2000. Her feast day is 5 October.

The Holy See’s Press Office biography provided on the occasion of her canonization quotes some of her reputed conversations with Jesus. The author and priest Benedict Groeschel considers a modest estimate of the following of the Divine Mercy devotion in 2010 to be over one hundred million Catholics. Pope John Paul II said, “The message she brought is the appropriate and incisive answer that God wanted to offer to the questions and expectations of human beings in our time, marked by terrible tragedies. Jesus said to Sr Faustina one day: ‘Humanity will never find peace until it turns with trust to the Divine Mercy.'” In October 2011, a group of cardinals and bishops sent a petition to Pope Benedict XVI that Faustina be made one of several female Doctors of the Church.

Miracles

The formal beatification of Faustina involved the case of Maureen Digan of Massachusetts. In March 1981 Digan reported a healing, while praying at the tomb of Faustina. Digan had suffered from Lymphedema (a disease which causes significant swelling due to fluid retention) for decades, and had undergone ten operations, including a leg amputation. Digan reported that while praying at Faustina’s tomb, she heard a voice saying “ask for my help and I will help you” and her constant pain stopped. After two days, Digan reported that her foot – which had previously been too large for her shoe due to her body’s liquid retention, was healed. Upon her return to the United States, five Boston area physicians stated that she was healed (with no medical explanation) and the case was declared miraculous by the Vatican in 1992 based on the additional testimony of over 20 witnesses about her prior condition.

Similarly, years later, Father Ronald P. Pytel experienced a complete healing of a heart condition that he had first noticed in his early childhood. The condition later escalated into cardiac failure in the priest’s more advanced years. During his recovery from a heart surgery in June 1995, he prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy every day and frequently read the Diary of Saint (then Blessed) Faustina. Fr. Pytel celebrated a Mass on 5 October, Blessed Faustina’s feast day, where parishioners in attendance, including a healing ministry, prayed over him. The priest eventually found that, starting on the night of the Mass, taking his heart medication caused him a new and unexpected chest pain that he had not experienced prior to the Mass. He consulted with Dr. Nicholas Fortuin, and to the physician’s surprise, Fr. Pytel’s heart was completely normal and healthy. Dr. Valentin Fuster has since confirmed that total transformation and healing of Fr. Pytel’s heart occurred rapidly to the point of “complete relief of symptoms” within three days of the Mass on 5 October 1995.

Source: Wikipedia

Francis of Assisi, Rel

+Luke 10:1-12

Your peace will rest on that man

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not make you welcome, go out into its streets and say, “We wipe off the very dust of your town that clings to our feet, and leave it with you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God is very near.” I tell you, on that day it will not go as hard with Sodom as with that town.’

Job 19:21-27

My Avenger lives and will set me close to him when I awake

 

Job said:

Pity me, pity me, you, my friends,

for the hand of God has struck me.

Why do you hound me down like God,

will you never have enough of my flesh?

Ah, would that these words of mine were written down,

inscribed on some monument

with iron chisel and engraving tool,

cut into the rock for ever.

This I know: that my Avenger lives,

and he, the Last, will take his stand on earth.

After my awaking, he will set me close to him,

and from my flesh I shall look on God.

He whom I shall see will take my part:

these eyes will gaze on him and find him not aloof.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Irreligion

2118 God’s first commandment condemns the main sins of irreligion: tempting God, in words or deeds, sacrilege, and simony.

2119 Tempting God consists in putting his goodness and almighty power to the test by word or deed. Thus Satan tried to induce Jesus to throw himself down from the Temple and, by this gesture, force God to act. Jesus opposed Satan with the word of God: “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test.” The challenge contained in such tempting of God wounds the respect and trust we owe our Creator and Lord. It always harbors doubt about his love, his providence, and his power.

2120 Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God. Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us.

2121 Simony is defined as the buying or selling of spiritual things. To Simon the magician, who wanted to buy the spiritual power he saw at work in the apostles, St. Peter responded: “Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money!” Peter thus held to the words of Jesus: “You received without pay, give without pay.” It is impossible to appropriate to oneself spiritual goods and behave toward them as their owner or master, for they have their source in God. One can receive them only from him, without payment.

2122 The minister should ask nothing for the administration of the sacraments beyond the offerings defined by the competent authority, always being careful that the needy are not deprived of the help of the sacraments because of their poverty.” The competent authority determines these “offerings” in accordance with the principle that the Christian people ought to contribute to the support of the Church’s ministers. “The laborer deserves his food.”


Psalm 26(27):7-9,13-14

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

O Lord, hear my voice when I call;

have mercy and answer.

Of you my heart has spoken:

‘Seek his face.’

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

It is your face, O Lord, that I seek;

hide not your face.

Dismiss not your servant in anger;

you have been my help.

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness

in the land of the living.

Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.

Hope in the Lord!

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.


Saint Francis of Assisi (Italian: San Francesco d’Assisi), born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally named as Francesco (1181/1182 – 3 October 1226), was an Italian Roman Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.

Pope Gregory IX canonized Francis on 16 July 1228. Along with Saint Catherine of Siena, he was designated Patron saint of Italy. He later became associated with patronage of animals and the natural environment, and it became customary for Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October. He is often remembered as the patron saint of animals.

In 1219, he went to Egypt in an attempt to convert the Sultan to put an end to the conflict of the Crusades. By this point, the Franciscan Order had grown to such an extent that its primitive organizational structure was no longer sufficient. He returned to Italy to organize the Order. Once his community was authorized by the Pope, he withdrew increasingly from external affairs. Francis is also known for his love of the Eucharist. In 1223, Francis arranged for the first Christmas live nativity scene. According to Christian tradition, in 1224 he received the stigmata during the apparition of Seraphic angels in a religious ecstasy  making him the first recorded person in Christian history to bear the wounds of Christ’s Passion. He died during the evening hours of 3 October 1226, while listening to a reading he had requested of Psalm 142 (141).

Early life

Francis of Assisi was one of seven children born in late 1181 or early 1182 to Pietro di Bernardone, a prosperous silk merchant, and his wife Pica de Bourlemont, about whom little is known except that she was a noblewoman originally from Provence. Pietro was in France on business when Francis was born in Assisi, and Pica had him baptized as Giovanni. Upon his return to Assisi, Pietro took to calling his son Francesco (“the Frenchman”), possibly in honor of his commercial success and enthusiasm for all things French. Since the child was renamed in infancy, the change can hardly have had anything to do with his aptitude for learning French, as some have thought.

While going off to war in 1202, Francis had a vision that directed him back to Assisi, where he lost his taste for his worldly life. In 1205, Francis left for Apulia to enlist in the army of Walter III, Count of Brienne.

Francis lived the high-spirited life typical of a wealthy young man, even fighting as a soldier for Assisi. In 1201, he joined a military expedition against Perugia and was taken as a prisoner at Collestrada, spending a year as a captive. It is possible that his spiritual conversion was a gradual process rooted in this experience. Upon his return to Assisi in 1203, Francis returned to his carefree life. In 1204, a serious illness led him to a spiritual crisis.

A strange vision made him return to Assisi, deepening his ecclesiastical awakening. On a pilgrimage to Rome, he joined the poor in begging at St. Peter’s Basilica, an experience that moved him to live in poverty. Francis returned home, began preaching on the streets, and soon gathered followers. His Order was authorized by Pope Innocent III in 1210. He then founded the Order of Poor Clares, which became an enclosed religious order for women, as well as the Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance (commonly called the Third Order). As a youth, Francesco became a devotee of troubadours and was fascinated with all things Transalpine. Although many hagiographers remark about his bright clothing, rich friends, and love of pleasures, his displays of disillusionment toward the world that surrounded him came fairly early in his life, as is shown in the “story of the beggar”. In this account, he was selling cloth and velvet in the marketplace on behalf of his father when a beggar came to him and asked for alms. At the conclusion of his business deal, Francis abandoned his wares and ran after the beggar. When he found him, Francis gave the man everything he had in his pockets. His friends quickly chided and mocked him for his act of charity. When he got home, his father scolded him in rage.

According to the hagiographic legend, thereafter he began to avoid the sports and the feasts of his former companions. In response, they asked him laughingly whether he was thinking of marrying, to which he answered, “Yes, a fairer bride than any of you have ever seen”, meaning his “Lady Poverty”. He spent much time in lonely places, asking God for spiritual enlightenment. By degrees he took to nursing lepers, the most repulsive victims in the lazar houses near Assisi. After a pilgrimage to Rome, where he joined the poor in begging at the doors of the churches, he said he had a mystical vision of Jesus Christ in the country chapel of San Damiano, just outside Assisi, in which the Icon of Christ Crucified said to him, “Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins.” He took this to mean the ruined church in which he was presently praying, and so he sold some cloth from his father’s store to assist the priest there for this purpose.

His father, Pietro, who was highly indignant, attempted to change his mind, first with threats and then with beatings. In the midst of legal proceedings before the Bishop of Assisi, Francis renounced his father and his patrimony, laying aside even the garments he had received from him in front of the public. For the next couple of months he lived as a beggar in the region of Assisi. Returning to the countryside around the town for two years, he embraced the life of a penitent, during which he restored several ruined chapels in the countryside around Assisi, among them the Porziuncola, the little chapel of St. Mary of the Angels just outside the town, which later became his favorite abode.

Founding of the Franciscan Orders

The Friars minor

At the end of this period (on February 24, 1209, according to Jordan of Giano), Francis heard a sermon that changed his life forever. The sermon was about Matthew 10:9, in which Christ tells his followers they should go forth and proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven was upon them, that they should take no money with them, nor even a walking stick or shoes for the road. Francis was inspired to devote himself to a life of poverty.

Clad in a rough garment, barefoot, and, after the Gospel precept, without staff or scrip, he began to preach repentance. He was soon joined by his first follower, a prominent fellow townsman, the jurist Bernardo di Quintavalle, who contributed all that he had to the work. Within a year Francis had eleven followers. Francis chose never to be ordained a priest, and the community lived as “lesser brothers”, fratres minores in Latin. The brothers lived a simple life in the deserted lazar house of Rivo Torto near Assisi; but they spent much of their time wandering through the mountainous districts of Umbria, always cheerful and full of songs, yet making a deep impression upon their hearers by their earnest exhortations.

Francis’ preaching to ordinary people was unusual since he had no license to do so. In 1209 he composed a simple rule for his followers (“friars”), the Regula primitiva or “Primitive Rule”, which came from verses in the Bible.

The rule was “To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps”. In 1209, Francis led his first eleven followers to Rome to seek permission from Pope Innocent III to found a new religious Order. Upon entry to Rome, the brothers encountered Bishop Guido of Assisi, who had in his company Giovanni di San Paolo, the Cardinal Bishop of Sabina. The Cardinal, who was the confessor of Pope Innocent III, was immediately sympathetic to Francis and agreed to represent Francis to the pope. Reluctantly, Pope Innocent agreed to meet with Francis and the brothers the next day. After several days, the pope agreed to admit the group informally, adding that when God increased the group in grace and number, they could return for an official admittance. The group was tonsured. This was important in part because it recognized Church authority and prevented his following from possible accusations of heresy, as had happened to the Waldensians decades earlier. Though Pope Innocent initially had his doubts, following a dream in which he saw Francis holding up the Basilica of St. John Lateran (the cathedral of Rome, thus the ‘home church’ of all Christendom), he decided to endorse Francis’ Order. This occurred, according to tradition, on April 16, 1210, and constituted the official founding of the Franciscan Order. The group, then the “Lesser Brothers” (Order of Friars Minor also known as the Franciscan Order or the Seraphic Order), preached on the streets and had no possessions. They were centered in the Porziuncola and preached first in Umbria, before expanding throughout Italy.

The Poor Clares and the Third Order

From then on, the new Order grew quickly with new vocations. Hearing Francis preaching in the church of San Rufino in Assisi in 1211, the young noblewoman Clare of Assisi became deeply touched by his message and realized her calling. Her cousin Rufino, the only male member of the family in their generation, was also attracted to the new Order (which he joined). On the night of Palm Sunday, March 28, 1212, Clare clandestinely left her family’s palace. Francis received her at the Porziuncola and thereby established the Order of Poor Ladies, later called Poor Clares. This was an Order for women, and he gave Clare a religious habit, or garment, similar to his own, before lodging her and a few female companions in a nearby monastery of Benedictine nuns. Later he transferred them to San Damiano. There they were joined by many other women of Assisi. For those who could not leave their homes, he later formed the Third Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance, a fraternity composed of either laity or clergy whose members neither withdrew from the world nor took religious vows. Instead, they observed the principles of Franciscan life in their daily lives. Before long, this Third Order grew beyond Italy.

Travels

Determined to bring the Gospel to all God’s creatures, Francis sought on several occasions to take his message out of Italy. In the late spring of 1212, he set out for Jerusalem, but he was shipwrecked by a storm on the Dalmatian coast, forcing him to return to Italy. On May 8, 1213, he was given the use of the mountain of La Verna (Alverna) as a gift from Count Orlando di Chiusi, who described it as “eminently suitable for whoever wishes to do penance in a place remote from mankind”. The mountain would become one of his favourite retreats for prayer.

In the same year, Francis sailed for Morocco, but this time an illness forced him to break off his journey in Spain. Back in Assisi, several noblemen (among them Tommaso da Celano, who would later write the biography of St. Francis) and some well-educated men joined his Order. In 1215, Francis went again to Rome for the Fourth Lateran Council. During this time, he probably met a canon, Dominic de Guzman (later to be Saint Dominic, the founder of the Friars Preachers, another Catholic religious order). In 1217, he offered to go to France. Cardinal Ugolino of Segni (the future Pope Gregory IX), an early and important supporter of Francis, advised him against this and said that he was still needed in Italy.

In 1219, accompanied by another friar and hoping to convert the Sultan of Egypt or win martyrdom in the attempt, Francis went to Egypt during the Fifth Crusade where a Crusader army had been encamped for over a year besieging the walled city of Damietta two miles (3.2 kilometres) upstream from the mouth of one of the main channels of the Nile. The Sultan, al-Kamil, a nephew of Saladin, had succeeded his father as Sultan of Egypt in 1218 and was encamped upstream of Damietta, unable to relieve it. A bloody and futile attack on the city was launched by the Christians on August 29, 1219, following which both sides agreed to a ceasefire which lasted four weeks. It was most probably during this interlude that Francis and his companion crossed the Muslims lines and were brought before the Sultan, remaining in his camp for a few days. The visit is reported in contemporary Crusader sources and in the earliest biographies of Francis, but they give no information about what transpired during the encounter beyond noting that the Sultan received Francis graciously and that Francis preached to the Muslims without effect, returning unharmed to the Crusader camp. No contemporary Arab source mentions the visit. One detail, added by Bonaventure in the official life of Francis (written forty years after the event), has Francis offering to challenge the Sultan’s “priests” to trial-by-fire in order to prove the veracity of the Christian Gospel.

Such an incident is alluded to in a scene in the late 13th-century fresco cycle, attributed to Giotto, in the upper basilica at Assisi. It has been suggested that the winged figures atop the columns piercing the roof of the building on the left of the scene are not idols but are part of the secular iconography of the sultan, affirming his worldly power which, as the scene demonstrates, is limited even as regards his own “priests” who shun the challenge. Although Bonaventure asserts that the sultan refused to permit the challenge, subsequent biographies went further, claiming that a fire was actually kindled which Francis unhesitatingly entered without suffering burns. The scene in the fresco adopts a position midway between the two extremes.

According to some late sources, the Sultan gave Francis permission to visit the sacred places in the Holy Land and even to preach there. All that can safely be asserted is that Francis and his companion left the Crusader camp for Acre, from where they embarked for Italy in the latter half of 1220. Drawing on a 1267 sermon by Bonaventure, later sources report that the Sultan secretly converted or accepted a death-bed baptism as a result of the encounter with Francis. The Franciscan Order has been present in the Holy Land almost uninterruptedly since 1217 when Brother Elias arrived at Acre. It received concessions from the Mameluke Sultan in 1333 with regard to certain Holy Places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and (so far as concerns the Catholic Church) jurisdictional privileges from Pope Clement VI in 1342.

Reorganization of the Franciscan Order and death

By this time, the growing Order of friars was divided into provinces and groups were sent to France, Germany, Hungary, and Spain and to the East. Upon receiving a report of the martyrdom of five brothers in Morocco, Francis returned to Italy via Venice. Cardinal Ugolino di Conti was then nominated by the Pope as the protector of the Order. Another reason for Francis’ return to Italy was that the friars in Italy were causing problems. The Franciscan Order had grown at an unprecedented rate compared to prior religious orders, but its organizational sophistication had not kept up with this growth and had little more to govern it than Francis’ example and simple rule. To address this problem, Francis prepared a new and more detailed Rule, the “First Rule” or “Rule Without a Papal Bull” (Regula prima, Regula non bullata), which again asserted devotion to poverty and the apostolic life. However, it also introduced greater institutional structure though this was never officially endorsed by the pope.

On September 29, 1220, Francis handed over the governance of the Order to Brother Peter Catani at the Porziuncola, but Brother Peter died only five months later, on March 10, 1221, and was buried there. When numerous miracles were attributed to the deceased brother, people started to flock to the Porziuncola, disturbing the daily life of the Franciscans. Francis then prayed, asking Peter to stop the miracles and to obey in death as he had obeyed during his life.

The reports of miracles ceased. Brother Peter was succeeded by Brother Elias as Vicar of Francis. Two years later, Francis modified the “First Rule”, creating the “Second Rule” or “Rule With a Bull”, which was approved by Pope Honorius III on November 29, 1223. As the official Rule of the Order, it called on the friars “to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, living in obedience without anything of our own and in chastity”. In addition, it set regulations for discipline, preaching, and entry into the Order. Once the Rule was endorsed by the Pope, Francis withdrew increasingly from external affairs. During 1221 and 1222, Francis crossed Italy, first as far south as Catania in Sicily and afterwards as far north as Bologna.

While he was praying on the mountain of Verna, during a forty-day fast in preparation for Michaelmas (September 29), Francis is said to have had a vision on or about September 14, 1224, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, as a result of which he received the stigmata. Brother Leo, who had been with Francis at the time, left a clear and simple account of the event, the first definite account of the phenomenon of stigmata. “Suddenly he saw a vision of a seraph, a six-winged angel on a cross. This angel gave him the gift of the five wounds of Christ.” Suffering from these stigmata and from trachoma, Francis received care in several cities (Siena, Cortona, Nocera) to no avail. In the end, he was brought back to a hut next to the Porziuncola. Here, in the place where it all began, feeling the end approaching, he spent the last days of his life dictating his spiritual Testament. He died on the evening of Saturday, October 3, 1226, singing Psalm 142 (141), “Voce mea ad Dominum”. On July 16, 1228, he was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX (the former cardinal Ugolino di Conti, friend of Saint Francis and Cardinal Protector of the Order). The next day, the Pope laid the foundation stone for the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi. Francis was buried on May 25, 1230, under the Lower Basilica, but his tomb was soon hidden on orders of Brother Elias to protect it from Saracen invaders. His exact burial place remained unknown until it was re-discovered in 1818. Pasquale Belli then constructed for the remains a crypt in neo-classical style in the Lower Basilica. It was refashioned between 1927 and 1930 into its present form by Ugo Tarchi, stripping the wall of its marble decorations. In 1978, the remains of Saint Francis were examined and confirmed by a commission of scholars appointed by Pope Paul VI, and put into a glass urn in the ancient stone tomb.

Character and legacy

It has been argued that no one else in history was as dedicated as Francis to imitate the life, and carry out the work of Christ, in Christ’s own way—Francis is sometimes even remembered as alter Christus, “another Christ.” This is important in understanding Francis’ character and his affinity for the Eucharist and respect for the priests who carried out the sacrament.

He and his followers celebrated and even venerated poverty. Poverty was so central to his character that in his last written work, the Testament, he said that absolute personal and corporate poverty was the essential lifestyle for the members of his Order.

He believed that nature itself was the mirror of God. He called all creatures his “brothers” and “sisters”, and even preached to the birds and supposedly persuaded a wolf to stop attacking some locals if they agreed to feed the wolf. In his Canticle of the Creatures (“Praises of Creatures” or “Canticle of the Sun”), he mentioned the “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon”, the wind and water, and “Sister Death”. He referred to his chronic illnesses as his “sisters”. His deep sense of brotherhood under God embraced others, and he declared that “he considered himself no friend of Christ if he did not cherish those for whom Christ died”.

Francis’ visit to Egypt and attempted rapprochement with the Muslim world had far-reaching consequences, long past his own death, since after the fall of the Crusader Kingdom, it would be the Franciscans, of all Catholics, who would be allowed to stay on in the Holy Land and be recognized as “Custodians of the Holy Land” on behalf of the Catholic Church.

At Greccio near Assisi, around 1220, Francis celebrated Christmas by setting up the first known presepio or crèche (Nativity scene). His nativity imagery reflected the scene in traditional paintings. He used real animals to create a living scene so that the worshipers could contemplate the birth of the child Jesus in a direct way, making use of the senses, especially sight. Thomas of Celano, a biographer of both Francis and Saint Bonaventure, tells how he used only a straw-filled manger (feeding trough) set between a real ox and donkey. According to Thomas, it was beautiful in its simplicity, with the manger acting as the altar for the Christmas Mass.

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday of the Twenty-Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

+Luke 9:57-62

‘I will follow you wherever you go’

As Jesus and his disciples travelled along they met a man on the road who said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’

Another to whom he said, ‘Follow me’, replied, ‘Let me go and bury my father first.’ But he answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’

Another said, ‘I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say goodbye to my people at home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’


+Job 9:1-13,14-16

How can man be in the right against God?

Job spoke to his friends:

Indeed, I know it is as you say:

how can man be in the right against God?

If any were so rash as to challenge him for reasons,

one in a thousand would be more than they could answer.

His heart is wise, and his strength is great:

who then can successfully defy him?

He moves the mountains, though they do not know it;

he throws them down when he is angry.

He shakes the earth, and moves it from its place,

making all its pillars tremble.

The sun, at his command, forbears to rise,

and on the stars he sets a seal.

He and no other stretched out the skies,

and trampled the Sea’s tall waves.

The Bear, Orion too, are of his making,

the Pleiades and the Mansions of the South.

His works are great, beyond all reckoning,

his marvels, past all counting.

Were he to pass me, I should not see him,

nor detect his stealthy movement.

Were he to snatch a prize, who could prevent him,

or dare to say, ‘What are you doing?’

How dare I plead my cause, then,

or choose arguments against him?

Suppose I am in the right, what use is my defence?

For he whom I must sue is judge as well.

If he deigned to answer my citation,

could I be sure that he would listen to my voice?

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Obedience of Faith

144 To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to “hear or listen to”) in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself. Abraham is the model of such obedience offered us by Sacred Scripture. the Virgin Mary is its most perfect embodiment.

Abraham – “father of all who believe”

145 The Letter to the Hebrews, in its great eulogy of the faith of Israel’s ancestors, lays special emphasis on Abraham’s faith: “By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go.” By faith, he lived as a stranger and pilgrim in the promised land. By faith, Sarah was given to conceive the son of the promise. and by faith Abraham offered his only son in sacrifice.

146 Abraham thus fulfils the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”: “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Because he was “strong in his faith”, Abraham became the “father of all who believe”.

147 The Old Testament is rich in witnesses to this faith. the Letter to the Hebrews proclaims its eulogy of the exemplary faith of the ancestors who “received divine approval”.10 Yet “God had foreseen something better for us”: the grace of believing in his Son Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith”.

Mary – “Blessed is she who believed”

148 The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that “with God nothing will be impossible” and so giving her assent: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.” Elizabeth greeted her: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.

149 Throughout her life and until her last ordeal when Jesus her son died on the cross, Mary’s faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfilment of God’s word. and so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith.


Psalm 87(88):10-15

Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord.

I call to you, Lord, all the day long;

to you I stretch out my hands.

Will you work your wonders for the dead?

Will the shades stand and praise you?

Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord.

Will your love be told in the grave

or your faithfulness among the dead?

Will your wonders be known in the dark

or your justice in the land of oblivion?

Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord.

As for me, Lord, I call to you for help:

in the morning my prayer comes before you.

Lord, why do you reject me?

Why do you hide your face?

Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Guardian Angels

+Matthew 18:1-5,10

Anyone who welcomes a little child in my name welcomes me

The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.’


Job 3:1-3,11-17,20-23

Why did I not perish on the day I was born?

Job broke the silence and cursed the day of his birth. This is what he said:

May the day perish when I was born,

and the night that told of a boy conceived.

Why did I not die new-born,

not perish as I left the womb?

Why were there two knees to receive me,

two breasts for me to suck?

Had there not been, I should now be lying in peace,

wrapped in a restful slumber,

with the kings and high viziers of earth

who build themselves vast vaults,

or with princes who have gold and to spare

and houses crammed with silver.

Or put away like a still-born child that never came to be,

like unborn babes that never see the light.

Down there, bad men bustle no more,

there the weary rest.

Why give light to a man of grief?

Why give life to those bitter of heart,

who long for a death that never comes,

and hunt for it more than for a buried treasure?

They would be glad to see the grave-mound

and shout with joy if they reached the tomb.

Why make this gift of light to a man who does not see his way,

whom God baulks on every side?

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Christmas mystery

525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:

The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal

And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.

The angels and shepherds praise him

And the magi advance with the star,

For you are born for us,

Little Child, God eternal!

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we mu–t be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:

O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.


Psalm 87(88):2-8

Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord.

Lord my God, I call for help by day;

I cry at night before you.

Let my prayer come into your presence.

O turn your ear to my cry.

Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord.

For my soul is filled with evils;

my life is on the brink of the grave.

I am reckoned as one in the tomb:

I have reached the end of my strength.

Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord.

Like one alone among the dead;

like the slain lying in their graves;

like those you remember no more,

cut off, as they are, from your hand.

Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord.

You have laid me in the depths of the tomb,

in places that are dark, in the depths.

Your anger weighs down upon me:

I am drowned beneath your waves.

Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord.

A guardian angel is an angel that is assigned to protect and guide a particular person, group, kingdom, or country. Belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity.

The concept of angels that guard over particular people and nationalities played a common role in Ancient Judaism, while a theory of tutelary angels and their hierarchy was extensively developed in Christianity in the 5th century by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite.

The theology of angels and tutelary spirits has undergone many refinements since the 5th century. Belief in both the East and the West is that guardian angels serve to protect whichever person God assigns them to, and present prayer to God on that person’s behalf.

In the books of the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament

The guardian angel concept is present in the books of the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament, and its development is well marked. These books described God’s angels as his ministers who carried out his behests, and who were at times given special commissions, regarding men and mundane affairs.

In Genesis 18-19, angels not only acted as the executors of God’s wrath against the cities of the plain, but they delivered Lot from danger; in Exodus 32:34, God said to Moses: “my angel shall go before thee.” At a much later period, we have the story of Tobias, which might serve for a commentary on the words of Psalm 91:11: “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;” (Cf. Psalm 33:8 and 34:5)

The belief that angels can be guides and intercessors for men can be found in Job 33:23-6, and in Daniel 10:13 angels seem to be assigned to certain countries. In this latter case, the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” contends with Gabriel. The same verse mentions “Michael, one of the chief princes”.

New Testament

In the New Testament the concept of guardian angel may be noted. Angels are everywhere the intermediaries between God and man; and Christ set a seal upon the Old Testament teaching: “See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10).

Other examples in the New Testament are the angel who succoured Christ in the garden, and the angel who delivered St. Peter from prison. In Acts 12:12-15, after Peter had been escorted out of prison by an angel, he went to the home of “Mary the mother of John, also called Mark”. The servant girl, Rhoda, recognized his voice and ran back to tell the group that Peter was there. However, the group replied: “It must be his angel”‘ (12:15). With this scriptural sanction, Peter’s angel was the most commonly depicted guardian angel in art, and was normally shown in images of the subject, most famously Raphael’s fresco of the Deliverance of Saint Peter in the Vatican.

Hebrews 1:14 says: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?” In this view, the function of the guardian angel is to lead people to the Kingdom of Heaven.

In the New Testament Epistle of Jude, Michael is described as an archangel.

Christianity

Catholic Church

According to Saint Jerome, the concept of guardian angels is in the “mind of the Church”. He stated: “how great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it”.

The first Christian theologian to outline a specific scheme for guardian angels was Honorius of Autun in the 12th century. He said that every soul was assigned a guardian angel the moment it was put into a body. Scholastic theologians augmented and ordered the taxonomy of angelic guardians. Thomas Aquinas agreed with Honorius and believed that it was the lowest order of angels who served as guardians, and his view was most successful in popular thought, but Duns Scotus said that any angel is bound by duty and obedience to the Divine Authority to accept the mission to which that angel is assigned. In the 15th century, the Feast of the Guardian Angels was added to the official calendar of Catholic holidays.

In his March 31, 1997 Regina Caeli address, Pope Saint John Paul II referred to the concept of guardian angel and concluded the address with the statement: “Let us invoke the Queen of angels and saints, that she may grant us, supported by our guardian angels, to be authentic witnesses to the Lord’s paschal mystery”.

In his 2014 homily for the Feast of Holy Guardian Angels, October 2, Pope Francis told those gathered for daily Mass to be like children who pay attention to their “traveling companion.” “No one journeys alone and no one should think that they are alone,” the Pope said. During the Morning Meditation in the chapel of Santa Marta, the Pope noted that oftentimes, we have the feeling that “I should do this, this is not right, be careful.” This, he said, “is the voice of” our guardian angel…”

“According to Church tradition”, the Pope said, “we all have an angel with us, who guards us…” The Pope instructed each, “Do not rebel, follow his advice!”. The Pope urged that this “doctrine on the angels” not be considered “a little imaginative”. It is rather one of “truth”. It is “what Jesus, what God said: ‘I send an angel before you, to guard you, to accompany you on the way, so you will not make a mistake’”.

Pope Francis concluded with a series of questions so that each one can examine his/her own conscience: “How is my relationship with my guardian angel? Do I listen to him? Do I bid him good day in the morning? Do I tell him: ‘guard me while I sleep?’ Do I speak with him? Do I ask his advice? …Each one of us can do so in order to evaluate “the relationship with this angel that the Lord has sent to guard me and to accompany me on the path, and who always beholds the face of the Father who is in heaven”.

The celebration of the Guardian Angel at Fondachelli-Fantina on second Sunday of July, Sicily

There was an old Irish custom that suggested including in bedtime prayers a request for the Blessed Mother to tell one the name of their guardian angel, and supposedly within a few days one would “know” the name by which they could address their angel. An old Dominican tradition encouraged each novice to give a name to their Guardian Angel so that they could speak to him by name and thus feel closer and more friendly with him. The Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments discourages assigning names to angels beyond those revealed in scripture: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

In Cardinal Newman’s poem The Dream of Gerontius, the departed soul is met by his guardian angel who recites:

My work is done

My task is o’er,

And so I come

Taking it home

For the crown is won

Alleluia

For evermore.

 

My Father gave

In charge to me

This child of earth

E’en from its birth

To serve and save.

Alleluia,

And saved is he.

 

This child of clay

To me was given,

To rear and train

By sorrow and pain

In the narrow way,

Alleluia,

From earth to heaven.

 

Angels as guardians

According to Aquinas, “On this road man is threatened by many dangers both from within and without, and therefore as guardians are appointed for men who have to pass by an unsafe road, so an angel is assigned to each man as long as he is a wayfarer.” By means of an angel, God is said to introduce images and suggestions leading a person to do what is right.

Saints and their angels

Father Giovangiuseppe Califano recounted how, one day, a newly appointed bishop confessed to Pope John XXIII “that he could not sleep at night due to an anxiety which was caused by the responsibility of his office.” “The pope told him, ‘You know, I also thought the same when I was elected pope. But one day, I dreamed about my guardian angel, and it told me not to take everything so seriously.’” Pope John attributed the idea of calling Second Vatican Council to an inspiration from his guardian angel.

Saint Gemma Galgani, a Roman Catholic mystic, stated that she had interacted with and spoken with her guardian angel. Saint Pio of Pietrelcina was known to instruct his parishioners to send him their guardian angel to communicate a trouble or issue to him when they could not travel to get to him or another urgency existed.

Anglican Communion

Justin Fontenot of the Prayerful Anglican states that the “guardian angel concept is clearly present in the Old Testament, and its development is well marked” and he continues, stating that in “the New Testament the concept of guardian angel may be noted with greater precision”. Fontenot also cites Jerome, a Church Father, who said: “‘how great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.’ (Comm. in Matt., xviii, lib. II).” In the same vein, Of the Intercession and Invocation of Angels and Saints, printed in the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology, held that “Many learned Protestants think it probable that each of the faithful, at least, has a guardian angel. It seems certainly proved by Scripture. Zanchius says that all the Fathers held this opinion.” Building upon Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church Fathers, Richard Montagu, the Anglican Bishop of Norwich in the 17th century, stated that “It is an opinion received, and hath been long, that if not every man, each son of Adam, yet sure each Christian man regenerate by water and the Holy Ghost, at least from the day of his regeneration and new birth unto God, if not from the time of his coming into the world, hath by God’s appointment and assignation an Angel Guardian to attend upon him at all assayes, in all his ways, at his going forth, at his coming home”.

Eastern Orthodox Church

Sergei Bulgakov writes that the Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that

each man has a guardian angel who stands before the face of the Lord. This guardian angel is not only a friend and a protector, who preserves from evil and who sends good thought; the image of God is reflected in the creature–angels and men–in such a way that angels are celestial prototypes of men. Guardian angels are especially our spiritual kin. Scripture testified that the guardian ship and direction of the elements, of places, of peoples, of societies, are confided to the guardian angels of the cosmos, whose very substance adds something of harmony to the elements they watch over.

As such, before the Eastern Orthodox liturgy of the Communion of the Faithful, a prayer asks “For an angel of peace, a faithful guide, a guardian of our souls and bodies, let us entreat the Lord. Amen.”

Lutheran Church

The Reverend Donald Schneider, a Lutheran priest, wrote that the concept of a guardian angel is found in Psalm 91, which includes a verse stating “For [God] will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone”. He states that Martin Luther may have based Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer found in the Small Catechism on this text, as these prayers include the supplication “Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me.

Methodist Church

The Rev. Dr. John W. Hanner, a Methodist minister and theologian wrote on the topic of guardian angels in his Angelic Study, stating that:

Perhaps every Christian has a guardian angel. It may be that there is one angel to every Christian, or a score of them; or one may have charge of a score of Christians. Some of the ancient fathers believed that every city had a guardian angel, while others assigned one to every house and every man. None of us know how much we are indebted to angels for our deliverance from imminent peril, disease, and malicious plots of men and devils. Where the pious die, angels are to carry the soul to heaven, though it be a soul of a Lazarus.”

In May and June 1743, Methodists experienced persecution in Wednesbury and Walsall and the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, was threatened with death by a mob who dragged him in the rain; however, “Wesley escaped unharmed” and he “believed that he had been protected by his guardian angel”.

Reformed and Presbyterian Churches

In Reformed Dogmatics, Heinrich Heppe states that some Reformed theologians espoused the view of guardian angels, including Bucan, who taught:

That as a rule to each elect person a certain particular good angel is appointed by God to guard him, may be gathered from Christ’s words, Mt. 18. 10, where it is said ‘Their angels do continually behold the face of my Father.’ Also from Ac. 12.15 where the believers who had assembled in Mark’s house said of Peter knocking at the door, ‘It is his angel’. These believers were speaking according to the opinion received among the people of God.”

Christian prayers

The traditional Catholic prayer to one’s guardian angel:

 

Angel of God, my guardian dear

to whom God’s love commits me here.

Ever this day/night be at my side

to light, to guard, to rule and guide.

Amen.

 

In Latin:

Angele Dei,

qui custos es mei,

me, tibi commissum pietate superna,

illumina, custodi,

rege et guberna.

Amen.

 

An Anglican prayer to the Guardian Angel:

O angel of God,

appointed by divine mercy to be my guardian,

enlighten and protect,

direct and govern me this day.

Amen.

 

An Eastern Orthodox prayer to the Guardian Angel:

O Angel of Christ, my holy Guardian and Protector of my soul and body, forgive me all my sins of today. Deliver me from all the wiles of the enemy, that I may not anger my God by any sin. Pray for me, sinful and unworthy servant, that thou mayest present me worthy of the kindness and mercy of the All-holy Trinity and the Mother of my Lord Jesus Christ, and of all the Saints. Amen.

Source: Wikipedia

Therese of the Child Jesus, V & D

+Luke 9:46-50

The least among you all is the greatest

An argument started between the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus knew what thoughts were going through their minds, and he took a little child and set him by his side and then said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For the least among you all, that is the one who is great.’

John spoke up. ‘Master,’ he said ‘we saw a man casting out devils in your name, and because he is not with us we tried to stop him.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘You must not stop him: anyone who is not against you is for you.’

Job 1:6-22

The Lord gave, the Lord has taken back: blessed be the name of the Lord

One day the Sons of God came to attend on the Lord, and among them was Satan. So the Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you been?’ ‘Round the earth,’ he answered ‘roaming about.’ So the Lord asked him, ‘Did you notice my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth: a sound and honest man who fears God and shuns evil.’ ‘Yes,’ Satan said ‘but Job is not God-fearing for nothing, is he? Have you not put a wall round him and his house and all his domain? You have blessed all he undertakes, and his flocks throng the countryside. But stretch out your hand and lay a finger on his possessions: I warrant you, he will curse you to your face.’ ‘Very well,’ the Lord said to Satan ‘all he has is in your power. But keep your hands off his person.’ So Satan left the presence of the Lord.

On the day when Job’s sons and daughters were at their meal and drinking wine at their eldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job. ‘Your oxen’ he said ‘were at the plough, with the donkeys grazing at their side, when the Sabaeans swept down on them and carried them off. Your servants they put to the sword: I alone escaped to tell you.’ He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘The fire of God’ he said ‘has fallen from the heavens and burnt up all your sheep, and your shepherds too: I alone escaped to tell you.’ He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘The Chaldaeans,’ he said ‘three bands of them, have raided your camels and made off with them. Your servants they put to the sword: I alone escaped to tell you.’ He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘Your sons and daughters’ he said ‘were at their meal and drinking wine at their eldest brother’s house, when suddenly from the wilderness a gale sprang up, and it battered all four corners of the house which fell in on the young people. They are dead: I alone escaped to tell you.’

Job rose and tore his gown and shaved his head. Then falling to the ground he worshipped and said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

naked I shall return.

The Lord gave, the Lord has taken back.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!’

In all this misfortune Job committed no sin nor offered any insult to God.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

1716 The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching. They take up the promises made to the chosen people since Abraham. The Beatitudes fulfill the promises by ordering them no longer merely to the possession of a territory, but to the Kingdom of heaven.

1717 The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity. They express the vocation of the faithful associated with the glory of his Passion and Resurrection; they shed light on the actions and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life; they are the paradoxical promises that sustain hope in the midst of tribulations; they proclaim the blessings and rewards already secured, however dimly, for Christ’s disciples; they have begun in the lives of the Virgin Mary and all the saints.


Psalm 16(17):1-3,6-7

Turn your ear to me, O Lord; hear my words.

Lord, hear a cause that is just,

pay heed to my cry.

Turn your ear to my prayer:

no deceit is on my lips.

Turn your ear to me, O Lord; hear my words.

From you may my judgement come forth.

Your eyes discern the truth.

You search my heart, you visit me by night.

You test me and you find in me no wrong.

Turn your ear to me, O Lord; hear my words.

I am here and I call, you will hear me, O God.

Turn your ear to me; hear my words.

Display your great love, you whose right hand saves

your friends from those who rebel against them.

Turn your ear to me, O Lord; hear my words.


Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (French: Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux), born Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin (2 January 1873 – 30 September 1897), also known as Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, O.C.D., was a French Catholic Discalced Carmelite nun who is widely venerated in modern times. She is popularly known as “The Little Flower of Jesus” or simply “The Little Flower”.

Thérèse has been a highly influential model of sanctity for Catholics and for others because of the “simplicity and practicality of her approach to the spiritual life”. Together with Saint Francis Xavier, she is one of the most popular saints in the history of the church. Pope Saint Pius X called her “the greatest saint of modern times”.

Thérèse felt an early call to religious life, and overcoming various obstacles, in 1888 at the early age of 15, she became a nun and joined two of her elder sisters in the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy. After nine years as a Carmelite religious, having fulfilled various offices such as sacristan and assistant to the novice mistress, and having spent her last eighteen months in Carmel in a night of faith, she died at aged 24, following a slow and painful fight against tuberculosis.

Her feast day is 1 October (3 October in the extraordinary form). Thérèse is well known throughout the world, with the Basilica of Lisieux being the second-largest place of pilgrimage in France after Lourdes.

Life

Family background

She was born in Rue Saint-Blaise, Alençon, in France on 2 January 1873, the daughter of Marie-Azélie Guérin, (usually called Zélie), and Louis Martin, a jeweler and watchmaker. Both her parents were devout Catholics who would eventually become the first (and to date only) married couple canonized together by the Roman Catholic Church (in 2015).

Louis had tried to become a canon regular, wanting to enter the Great St Bernard Hospice, but had been refused because he knew no Latin. Zélie, possessed of a strong, active temperament, wished to serve the sick, and had also considered entering consecrated life, but the prioress of the canonesses regular of the Hôtel-Dieu in Alençon had discouraged her enquiry outright. Disappointed, Zélie learned the trade of lacemaking. She excelled in it and set up her own business on Rue Saint-Blaise at age 22.

Louis and Zélie met in early 1858 and married on July 13 of that same year at the Basilica of Notre-Dame d’Alençon. At first they decided to live as brother and sister in a perpetual continence, but when a confessor discouraged them in this, they changed their lifestyle and had nine children. From 1867-70 they lost 3 infants and five year old Hélène. All five of their surviving daughters became nuns:)

‘A dreamer and brooder, an idealist and romantic, [the father] gave touching and naïve pet names [to his daughters]: Marie was his diamond, Pauline his noble pearl, Céline the bold one..But Thérèse was his petite reine, little queen, to whom all treasures belonged”.

Zélie was so successful in manufacturing lace that by 1870 Louis had sold his watchmaking shop to a nephew and handled the traveling and bookkeeping end of his wife’s lacemaking business.

Birth and infancy

Soon after her birth in January 1873, the outlook for the survival of Thérèse Martin was very grim. Because of her frail condition, she was entrusted to a wet nurse, Rose Taillé, who had already nursed two of the Martin children. Rose had her own children and could not live with the Martins, so Thérèse was sent to live with her in the forests of the Bocage at Semallé.

On Holy Thursday, 2 April 1874, when she was 15 months old, she returned to Alençon where her family surrounded her with affection. “I hear the baby calling me Mama! as she goes down the stairs. On every step, she calls out Mama! and if I don’t respond every time, she remains there without going either forward or back.” (Madame Martin to Pauline, 21 November 1875) She was educated in a very Catholic environment, including Mass attendance at 5:30 AM, the strict observance of fasts, and prayer to the rhythm of the liturgical year. The Martins also practiced charity, visiting the sick and elderly and welcoming the occasional vagabond to their table. Even if she wasn’t the model little girl her sisters later portrayed, Thérèse was very sensitive to this education. She played at being a nun. Described as generally a happy child, she was emotional too, and often cried: “Céline is playing with the little one with some bricks… I have to correct poor baby who gets into frightful tantrums when she can’t have her own way. She rolls in the floor in despair believing all is lost. Sometimes she is so overcome she almost chokes. She’s a nervous child, but she is very good, very intelligent, and remembers everything.” At 22, Thérèse, then a Carmelite, admitted: “I was far from being a perfect little girl”.

From 1865 Zelie had complained of breast pain and in December 1876 a doctor told her of the seriousness of the tumour. Feeling the approach of death Madame Martin had written to Pauline in spring 1877, “You and Marie will have no difficulties with her upbringing. Her disposition is so good. She is a chosen spirit.” In June 1877 she left for Lourdes hoping to be cured, but the miracle did not happen..”The Mother of God has not healed me because my time is up, and because God wills me to repose elsewhere than on the earth.” On 28 August 1877, Zélie died, aged 45. Her funeral was conducted in the Basilica of Notre-Dame d’Alençon. Thérèse was barely 4 1/2 years old. Her mother’s death dealt her a severe blow and later she would consider that “the first part of her life stopped that day”.[citation needed]

She wrote: “Every detail of my mother’s illness is still with me, specially her last weeks on earth.” She remembered the bedroom scene where her dying mother received the last sacraments while Thérèse knelt and her father cried. She wrote: “When Mummy died, my happy disposition changed. I had been so lively and open; now I became diffident and oversensitive, crying if anyone looked at me. I was only happy if no one took notice of me… It was only in the intimacy of my own family, where everyone was wonderfully kind, that I could be more myself.”

Three months after Zélie died, Louis Martin left Alençon, where he had spent his youth and marriage, and moved to Lisieux in the Calvados Department of Normandy, where Zélie’s pharmacist brother, Isidore Guérin lived with his wife and their two daughters, Jeanne and Marie. In her last months Zélie had given up the lace business; after her death, Louis sold it. Louis leased a pretty, spacious country house, Les Buissonnets, situated in a large garden on the slope of a hill overlooking the town. Looking back, Thérèse would see the move to Les Buissonnets as the beginning of the “second period of my life, the most painful of the three: it extends from the age of four-and-a-half to fourteen, the time when I rediscovered my childhood character, and entered into the serious side of life”.In Lisieux, Pauline took on the role of Thérèse’s Mama. She took this role seriously, and Thérèse grew especially close to her, and to Céline, the sister closest to her in age.

Early years

Thérèse was taught at home until she was eight and a half, and then entered the school kept by the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of Notre Dame du Pre in Lisieux. Thérèse, taught well and carefully by Marie and Pauline, found herself at the top of the class, except for writing and arithmetic. However, because of her young age and high grades, she was bullied. The one who bullied her the most was a girl of fourteen who did poorly at school. Thérèse suffered very much as a result of her sensitivity, and she cried in silence. Furthermore, the boisterous games at recreation were not to her taste. She preferred to tell stories or look after the little ones in the infants class. “The five years I spent at school were the saddest of my life, and if my dear Céline had not been with me I could not have stayed there for a single month without falling ill.” Céline informs us, “She now developed a fondness for hiding,she did not want to be observed, for she sincerely considered herself inferior”.On her free days she became more and more attached to Marie Guérin, the younger of her two cousins in Lisieux. The two girls would play at being anchorites, as the great Teresa had once played with her brother. And every evening she plunged into the family circle. “Fortunately I could go home every evening and then I cheered up. I used to jump on Father’s knee and tell him what marks I had, and when he kissed me all my troubles were forgotten…I needed this sort of encouragement so much.” Yet the tension of the double life and the daily self-conquest placed a strain on Thérèse. Going to school became more and more difficult.

When she was nine years old, in October 1882, her sister Pauline, who had acted as a “second mother” to her, entered the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux. Thérèse was devastated. She understood that Pauline was cloistered and that she would never come back. “I said in the depths of my heart: Pauline is lost to me!” The shock reawakened in her the trauma caused by her mother’s death. She also wanted to join the Carmelites, but was told she was too young. Yet Thérèse so impressed Mother Marie Gonzague, the prioress at the time of Pauline’s entry to the community that she wrote to comfort her, calling Thérèse “my future little daughter”.

Illness

At this time, Thérèse was often sick; she began to suffer from nervous tremors. The tremors started one night after her uncle took her for a walk and began to talk about Zélie. Assuming that she was cold, the family covered Therese with blankets, but the tremors continued; she clenched her teeth and could not speak. The family called Dr. Notta, who could make no diagnosis. In 1882, Dr. Gayral diagnosed that Thérèse “reacts to an emotional frustration with a neurotic attack”.

An alarmed, but cloistered, Pauline began to write letters to Thérèse and attempted various strategies to intervene. Eventually Thérèse recovered after she had turned to gaze at the statue of the Virgin Mary placed in Marie’s room, where Thérèse had been moved. She reported on 13 May 1883 that she had seen the Virgin smile at her. She wrote: “Our Blessed Lady has come to me, she has smiled upon me. How happy I am.” However, when Thérèse told the Carmelite nuns about this vision at the request of her eldest sister Marie, she found herself assailed by their questions and she lost confidence. Self-doubt made her begin to question what had happened. “I thought I had lied – I was unable to look upon myself without a feeling of profound horror.” “For a long time after my cure, I thought that my sickness was deliberate and this was a real martyrdom for my soul”.[25] Her concerns over this continued until November 1887.

In October 1886 her oldest sister, Marie, entered the same Carmelite monastery, adding to Thérèse’s grief. The warm atmosphere at Les Buissonnets, so necessary to her, was disappearing. Now only she and Céline remained with their father. Her frequent tears made some friends think she had a weak character and the Guérins indeed shared this opinion.

Thérèse also suffered from scruples, a condition experienced by other saints such as Alphonsus Liguori, also a Doctor of the Church and Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. She wrote: “One would have to pass through this martyrdom to understand it well, and for me to express what I experienced for a year and a half would be impossible”.

Complete conversion: Christmas 1886

Christmas Eve of 1886 was a turning point in the life of Thérèse; she called it her “complete conversion.” Years later she stated that on that night she overcame the pressures she had faced since the death of her mother and said that “God worked a little miracle to make me grow up in an instant … On that blessed night … Jesus, who saw fit to make Himself a child out of love for me, saw fit to have me come forth from the swaddling clothes and imperfections of childhood”.

That night, Louis Martin and his daughters, Léonie, Céline and Thérèse, attended the midnight mass at the cathedral in Lisieux— “but there was very little heart left in them. On 1 December, Léonie, covered in eczema and hiding her hair under a short mantilla, had returned to Les Buissonnets after just seven weeks of the Poor Clares regime in Alençon”, and her sisters were helping her get over her sense of failure and humiliation. Back at Les Buissonnets as every year, Thérèse “as was the custom for French children, had left her shoes on the hearth, empty in anticipation of gifts, not from Father Christmas but from the Child Jesus, who was imagined to travel through the air bearing toys and cakes.” While she and Celine were going up the stairs she heard her father, “perhaps exhausted by the hour, or this reminder of the relentless emotional demands of his weepy youngest daughter”, say with some irritation “Therese is far too old for this now. Fortunately this will be the last year!” Thérèse had begun to cry and Céline advised her not to go back downstairs immediately. Then, suddenly, Thérèse pulled herself together and wiped her tears. She ran down the stairs, knelt by the fireplace and unwrapped her surprises as jubilantly as ever. In her account, nine years later, of 1895 : “In an instant Jesus, content with my good will, accomplished the work I had not been able to do in ten years.” After nine sad years she had “recovered the strength of soul she had lost” when her mother died and, she said, “she was to retain it forever”. She discovered the joy in self-forgetfulness and added, “I felt, in a word, charity enter my heart, the need to forget myself to make others happy—Since this blessed night I was not defeated in any battle, but instead I went from victory to victory and began, so to speak, “to run a giant’s course” (Psalms 19:5).

According to Ida Görres, “Thérèse instantly understood what had happened to her when she won this banal little victory over her sensitivity, which she had borne for so long; …freedom is found in resolutely looking away from oneself.. and the fact that a person can cast himself away from himself reveals again that being good, victory is pure grace, a sudden gift..It cannot be coerced, and yet it can be received only by the patiently prepared heart”. Biographer Kathryn Harrison: “After all, in the past she had tried to control herself, had tried with all her being and had failed. Grace, alchemy, masochism: through whatever lens we view her transport, Thérèse’s night of illumination presented both its power and its danger. It would guide her steps between the mortal and the divine, between living and dying, destruction and apotheosis. It would take her exactly where she intended to go”.

The character of the saint and the early forces that shaped her personality have been the subject of analysis, particularly in recent years. Apart from the family doctor who observed her in the 19th century, all other conclusions are inevitably speculative. For instance, author Ida Görres, whose formal studies had focused on church history and hagiography, wrote a psychological analysis of the saint’s character. Some authors suggest that Thérèse had a strongly neurotic aspect to her personality for most of her life.

Imitation of Christ, Rome, and entry to Carmel

Before she was fourteen, when she started to experience a period of calm, Thérèse started to read The Imitation of Christ. She read the Imitation intently, as if the author traced each sentence for her: “The Kingdom of God is within you… Turn thee with thy whole heart unto the Lord; and forsake this wretched world: and thy soul shall find rest.” She kept the book with her constantly and wrote later that this book and parts of another book of a very different character, lectures by Abbé Arminjon on The End of This World, and the Mysteries of the World to Come, nourished her during this critical period.[36] Thereafter she began to read other books, mostly on history and science.

In May 1887, Thérèse approached her 63-year-old father Louis, who was recovering from a small stroke, while he sat in the garden one Sunday afternoon and told him that she wanted to celebrate the anniversary of “her conversion” by entering Carmel before Christmas. Louis and Thérèse both broke down and cried, but Louis got up, gently picked a little white flower, root intact, and gave it to her, explaining the care with which God brought it into being and preserved it until that day. Thérèse later wrote: “while I listened I believed I was hearing my own story”. To Therese, the flower seemed a symbol of herself, “destined to live in another soil”. Thérèse renewed her attempts to join the Carmel, but the priest-superior of the monastery would not allow it on account of her youth.

For her journey to Mgr Hugonin, Bishop of Bayeux, to seek permission to enter Carmel at Christmas 1887 Thérèse had put up her hair for the first time, a symbol for being “grown-up”. A photograph taken in April 1888 shows a fresh, firm, girlish face..The familiar flowing locks are combed sternly back and up, piled in a hard little chignon on the top of her head.

During the summer, French newspapers were filled with the story of Henri Pranzini, convicted of the brutal murder of two women and a child. To the outraged public Pranzini represented all that threatened the decent way of life in France. In July and August 1887 Thérèse prayed hard for the conversion of Pranzini, so his soul could be saved, yet Pranzini showed no remorse. At the end of August, the newspapers reported that just as Pranzini’s neck was placed on the guillotine, he had grabbed a crucifix and kissed it three times. Thérèse was ecstatic and believed that her prayers had saved him. She continued to pray for Pranzini after his death.

In November 1887, Louis took Céline and Thérèse on a diocesan pilgrimage to Rome for the priestly jubilee of Pope Leo XIII. The cost of the trip enforced a strict selection, a quarter of the pilgrims belonged to the nobility. The birth, in 1871, of the French Third Republic had marked a decline of the conservative right’s power. Forced onto the defensive, the royalist bourgeoisie perceived a strong Church as an important means of safeguarding France’s integrity and its future. The rise of a militant nationalist Catholicism, a trend that would, in 1894, result in the anti-Semitic scapegoating and trumped-up treason conviction of Alfred Dreyfus was a development that Thérèse did not at all perceive. Still a sheltered child, Thérèse lived in ignorance of political events and motivations.

She did notice, however, the ‘social ambition and vanity’, adding “Céline and I found ourselves mixing with members of the aristocracy; but we were not impressed..the words of the Imitation, ‘do not be solicitous for the shadow of a great name’, were not lost on me, and I realised that real nobility is in the soul, not in a name”.[41] On 20 November 1887, during a general audience with Leo XIII, Thérèse, in her turn, approached the Pope, knelt, and asked him to allow her to enter Carmel at 15. The Pope said: “Well, my child, do what the superiors decide…. You will enter if it is God’s Will” and he blessed Thérèse. She refused to leave his feet, and the Swiss Guard had to carry her out of the room.

The trip continued: they visited Pompeii, Naples, Assisi; then it was back via Pisa and Genoa. The pilgrimage of nearly a month came at a timely point for her burgeoning personality. She “learnt more than in many years of study”. For the first and last time in her life, she left her native Normandy. Notably she, “who only knew priests in the exercise of their ministry was in their company, heard their conversations, not always edifying—and saw their shortcomings for herself”.

She had understood that she had to pray and give her life for sinners like Pranzini. But Carmel prayed especially for priests and this had surprised her since their souls seemed to her to be “as pure as crystal”. A month spent with many priests taught her that they are “weak and feeble men”. She wrote later: “I met many saintly priests that month, but I also found that in spite of being above angels by their supreme dignity, they were none the less men and still subject to human weakness. If the holy priests, ‘the salt of the earth’, as Jesus calls them in the Gospel, have to be prayed for, what about the lukewarm? Again, as Jesus says, ‘If the salt shall lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?’ I understood my vocation in Italy.” For the first time too she had associated with young men. “In her brotherless existence, masculinity had been represented only by her father, her Uncle Guérin and various priests. Now she had her first and only experiences. Céline declared at the beatification proceedings that one of the young men in the pilgrimage group “developed a tender affection for her”. Thérèse confessed to her sister, “It is high time for Jesus to remove me from the poisonous breath of the world…I feel that my heart is easily caught by tenderness, and where others fall, I would fall too. We are no stronger than the others”.[44] Soon after that, the Bishop of Bayeux authorized the prioress to receive Thérèse. On 9 April 1888 she became a Carmelite postulant.

The Little Flower in Carmel

The monastery Thérèse entered was an old-established house with a great tradition. In 1838 two nuns from the Poitiers Carmel had been sent out to found the house of Lisieux. One of them, Mother Geneviève of St Teresa, was still living when Thérèse entered… the second wing, containing the cells and sickrooms in which she was to live and die, had been standing only ten years… “What she found was a community of very aged nuns, some odd and cranky, some sick and troubled, some lukewarm and complacent. Almost all of the sisters came from the petty bourgeois and artisan class. The Prioress and Novice Mistress were of old Norman nobility. Probably the Martin sisters alone represented the new class of the rising bourgeoisie”.

The Carmelite order had been reformed in the sixteenth century by Teresa of Ávila, essentially devoted to personal and collective prayer. The nuns of Lisieux followed a strict regimen that allowed for only one meal a day for seven months of the year, and little free time. Only one room of the building was heated.The times of silence and of solitude were many but the foundress had also planned for time for work and relaxation in common—the austerity of the life should not hinder sisterly and joyful relations. Founded in 1838, the Carmel of Lisieux in 1888 had 26 religious, from very different classes and backgrounds. For the majority of the life of Thérèse, the prioress would be Mother Marie de Gonzague, born Marie-Adéle-Rosalie Davy de Virville. When Thérèse entered the convent Mother Marie was 54, a woman of changeable humour, jealous of her authority, used sometimes in a capricious manner; this had for effect, a certain laxity in the observance of established rules. “In the sixties and seventies of the [nineteenth] century an aristocrat in the flesh counted for far more in a petty bourgeois convent than we can realize nowadays… the superiors appointed Marie de Gonzague to the highest offices as soon as her novitiate was finished… in 1874 began the long series of terms as Prioress”.

Postulancy

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (October 2016)

Thérèse’s time as a postulant began with her welcome into the Carmel, Monday, 9 April 1888.She felt peace after she received communion that day and later wrote, “At last my desires were realized, and I cannot describe the deep sweet peace which filled my soul. This peace has remained with me during the eight and a half years of my life here, and has never left me even amid the greatest trials”.CITEREFSaint_ThérèseTaylor_(tr.)2006

From her childhood, Thérèse had dreamed of the desert to which God would some day lead her. Now she had entered that desert. Though she was now reunited with Marie and Pauline, from the first day she began her struggle to win and keep her distance from her sisters. Right at the start Marie de Gonzague, the prioress, had turned the postulant Thérèse over to her eldest sister Marie, who was to teach her to follow the Divine Office. Later she appointed Thérèse assistant to Pauline in the refectory. And when her cousin Marie Guerin also entered, she employed the two together in the sacristy.

Thérèse adhered strictly to the rule which forbade all superfluous talk during work. She saw her sisters together only in the hours of common recreation after meals. At such times she would sit down beside whomever she happened to be near, or beside a nun whom she had observed to be downcast, disregarding the tacit and sometimes expressed sensitivity and even jealousy of her biological sisters. “We must apologize to the others for our being four under one roof”, she was in the habit of remarking. “When I am dead, you must be very careful not to lead a family life with one another…I did not come to Carmel to be with my sisters; on the contrary, I saw clearly that their presence would cost me dear, for I was determined not to give way to nature.”

Although the novice mistress, Sister Marie of the Angels, found Thérèse slow, the young postulant adapted well to her new environment. She wrote, “Illusions, the Good Lord gave me the grace to have none on entering Carmel. I found religious life as I had figured, no sacrifice astonished me.” She sought above all to conform to the rules and customs of the Carmelites that she learnt each day with her four religious of the novitiate.

She chose a spiritual director, a Jesuit, Father Pichon. At their first meeting, 28 May 1888, she made a general confession going back over all her past sins. She came away from it profoundly relieved. The priest who had himself suffered from scruples, understood her and reassured her.A few months later, he left for Canada, and Thérèse would only be able to ask his advice by letter and his replies were rare. (On 4 July 1897, she confided to Pauline, ‘Father Pichon treated me too much like a child; nonetheless he did me a lot of good too by saying that I never committed a mortal sin.’) During her time as a postulant, Thérèse had to endure some bullying from other sisters because of her lack of aptitude for handicrafts and manual work. Sister St Vincent de Paul, the finest embroiderer in the community made her feel awkward and even called her ‘the big nanny goat’. Thérèse was in fact the tallest in the family, 1.62 metres (approx. 5’3″). Pauline, the shortest, was no more than 1.54m tall (approx.5′).

Like all religious she discovered the ups and downs related to differences in temperament, character, problems of sensitivities or infirmities. After nine years she wrote plainly, “the lack of judgment, education, the touchiness of some characters, all these things do not make life very pleasant. I know very well that these moral weaknesses are chronic, that there is no hope of cure”. But the greatest suffering came from outside Carmel. On 23 June 1888, Louis Martin disappeared from his home and was found days later, in the post office in Le Havre. The incident marked the onset of her father’s decline. He died on July 29, 1894.

Novitiate (10 January 1889 – 24 September 1890)

The end of Thérèse’s time as a postulant arrived on the January 10, 1889, with her taking of the habit. From that time she wore the ‘rough homespun and brown scapular, white wimple and veil, leather belt with rosary, woollen ‘stockings’, rope sandals”.[50] Her father’s health having temporarily stabilized he was able to attend, though twelve days after her ceremony her father suffered a stroke and was taken to a private sanatorium, the Bon Sauveur at Caen, where he remained for three years before returning to Lisieux in 1892. In this period Thérèse deepened the sense of her vocation; to lead a hidden life, to pray and offer her suffering for priests, to forget herself, to increase discreet acts of charity. She wrote, “I applied myself especially to practice little virtues, not having the facility to perform great ones … In her letters from this period of her novitiate, Thérèse returned over and over to the theme of littleness, referring to herself as a grain of sand, an image she borrowed from Pauline…’Always littler, lighter, in order to be lifted more easily by the breeze of love.’ The remainder of her life would be defined by retreat and subtraction”.

She absorbed the work of John of the Cross, spiritual reading uncommon at the time, especially for such a young nun. “Oh! what insights I have gained from the works of our holy father, St. John of the Cross! When I was seventeen and eighteen, I had no other spiritual nourishment…” She felt a kinship with this classic writer of the Carmelite Order (though nothing seems to have drawn her to the writing of Teresa of Avila), and with enthusiasm she read his works, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, the Way of Purification, the Spiritual Canticle, the Living Flame of Love. Passages from these writings are woven into everything she herself said and wrote. The fear of God, which she found in certain sisters, paralyzed her. “My nature is such that fear makes me recoil, with LOVE not only do I go forward, I fly”.

With the new name a Carmelite receives when she enters the Order, there is always an epithet – example, Teresa of Jesus, Elizabeth of the Trinity, Anne of the Angels. The epithet singles out the Mystery which she is supposed to contemplate with special devotion. “Thérèse’s names in religion – she had two of them – must be taken together to define her religious significance”.[54] The first name was promised to her at nine, by Mother Marie de Gonzague, of the Child Jesus, and was given to her at her entry into the convent. In itself, veneration of the childhood of Jesus was a Carmelite heritage of the seventeenth century – it concentrated upon the staggering humiliation of divine majesty in assuming the shape of extreme weakness and helplessness. The French Oratory of Jesus and Pierre de Bérulle renewed this old devotional practice. Yet when she received the veil, Thérèse herself asked Mother Marie de Gonzague to confer upon her the second name of the Holy Face.[citation needed]

Organisations

Sisters of the Reparation of the Holy Face Sisters of the Holy Face Oratory of the Holy Face Sisters of the Holy Face of Jesus Veronican Sisters of the Holy Face Missionary Sisters of the Holy Face of Jesus Holy Face Brothers

During the course of her novitiate, contemplation of the Holy Face had nourished her inner life. This is an image representing the disfigured face of Jesus during His Passion. And she meditated on certain passages from the prophet Isaiah (Chapter 53). Six weeks before her death she remarked to Pauline, “The words in Isaiah: ‘no stateliness here, no majesty, no beauty,…one despised, left out of all human reckoning; How should we take any account of him, a man so despised (Is 53:2-3) – these words were the basis of my whole worship of the Holy Face. I, too, wanted to be without comeliness and beauty..unknown to all creatures.”On the eve of her profession she wrote to Sister Marie, “Tomorrow I shall be the bride of Jesus ‘whose face was hidden and whom no man knew’ – what a union and what a future!”. The meditation also helped her understand the humiliating situation of her father.

Usually the novitiate preceding profession lasted a year. Sister Thérèse hoped to make her final commitment on or after 11 January 1890 but, considered still too young for a final commitment, her profession was postponed. She would spend eight months longer than the standard year as an unprofessed novice. As 1889 ended, her old home in the world Les Buissonnets, was dismantled, the furniture divided among the Guérins and the Carmel. It was not until 8 September 1890, aged 17 and a half, that she made her religious profession. The retreat in anticipation of her “irrevocable promises” was characterized by “absolute aridity” and on the eve of her profession she gave way to panic. “What she wanted was beyond her. Her vocation was a sham”.

Reassured by the novice mistress and mother Marie de Gonzague, the next day her religious profession went ahead, ‘an outpouring of peace flooded my soul, “that peace which surpasseth all understanding” (Phil. 4:7) Against her heart she wore her letter of profession written during her retreat. “May creatures be nothing for me, and may I be nothing for them, but may You, Jesus, be everything! Let nobody be occupied with me, let me be looked upon as one to be trampled underfoot…may Your will be done in me perfectly … Jesus, allow me to save very many souls; let no soul be lost today; let all the souls in purgatory be saved..” On September 24, the public ceremony followed filled with ‘sadness and bitterness’. “Thérèse found herself young enough, alone enough, to weep over the absence of Bishop Hugonin, Père Pichon, in Canada; and her own father, still confined in the asylum”.[58] But Mother Marie de Gonzague wrote to the prioress of Tours, “The angelic child is seventeen and a half, with the sense of a 30 year old, the religious perfection of an old and accomplished novice, and possession of herself, she is a perfect nun”.

The Discreet life of a Carmelite (September 1890 – February 1893)

The years which followed were those of a maturation of her vocation. Thérèse prayed without great sensitive emotions, she multiplied the small acts of charity and care for others, doing small services, without making a show of them. She accepted criticism in silence, even unjust criticisms, and smiled at the sisters who were unpleasant to her. She prayed always much for priests, and in particular for Father Hyacinthe Loyson, a famous preacher who had been a Sulpician and a Dominican novice before becoming a Carmelite and provincial of his order, but who had left the Catholic Church in 1869. Three years later he married a young Protestant widow, with whom he had a son. After excommunication had been pronounced against him, he continued to travel round France giving lectures. While clerical papers called Loyson a “renegade monk” and Leon Bloy lampooned him, Thérèse prayed for her “brother”. She offered her last communion, 19 August 1897, for Father Loyson.

The chaplain of the Carmel, Father Youf insisted a lot on the fear of Hell. The preachers of spiritual retreats at that time did not refrain from stressing sin, the sufferings of purgatory, and those of hell. This did not help Thérèse who in 1891 experienced, “great inner trials of all kinds, even wondering sometimes whether heaven existed.” One phrase heard during a sermon made her weep—”No one knows if they are worthy of love or of hate.” But the retreat of October 1891 was preached by Father Alexis Prou, a Franciscan from Saint-Nazaire. “He specialized in large crowds (he preached in factories) and did not seem the right person to help Carmelites. Just one of them found comfort from him, Sister Thèrèse of the Child Jesus…[his] preaching on abandonment and mercy expanded her heart”.

This confirmed Thérèse in her own intuitions. She wrote, “My soul was like a book which the priest read better than I did. He launched me full sail on the waves of confidence and love which held such an attraction for me, but upon which I had not dared to venture. He told me that my faults did not offend God.” Her spiritual life drew more and more on the Gospels that she carried with her at all times. The piety of her time was fed more on commentaries, but Thérèse had asked Céline to get the Gospels and the Epistles of St Paul bound into a single small volume which she could carry on her heart. She said, “But it is especially the Gospels which sustain me during my hours of prayer, for in them I find what is necessary for my poor little soul. I am constantly discovering in them new lights, hidden and mysterious meanings.”

More and more Thérèse realised that she felt no attraction to the exalted heights of “great souls”. She looked directly for the word of Jesus, which shed light on her prayers and on her daily life. Thérèse’s retreat in October 1892 pointed out to her a “downward” path. If asked where she lived, she reflected, must not she be able to answer with Christ, “The foxes have their lairs, the birds of heaven their nests, but I have no place to rest my head.” (Matthew 8:20). She wrote to Céline (letter 19 October 1892), “Jesus raised us above all the fragile things of this world whose image passes away. Like Zacchaeus, we climbed a tree to see Jesus and now let us listen to what he is saying to us. Make haste to descend, I must lodge today at your house. Well, Jesus tells us to descend?” “A question here of the interior,” she qualified in her letter, lest Céline think she meant renouncing food or shelter. “Thérèse knew her virtues, even her love, to be flawed, flawed by self, a mirror too clouded to reflect the divine.” She continued to seek to discover the means, “to more efficiently strip herself of self”. “No doubt, [our hearts] are already empty of creatures, but, alas, I feel mine is not entirely empty of myself, and it is for this reason that Jesus tells me to descend.”

Election of Mother Agnes

On 20 February 1893, Pauline was elected prioress of Carmel and became “Mother Agnes”. She appointed the former prioress novice mistress and made Thérèse her assistant. The work of guiding the novices would fall primarily to Thérèse. She repeated how important respect for the Rule was: “When any break the rule, this is not a reason to justify ourselves. Each must act as if the perfection of the Order depended on her personal conduct.” She also affirmed the essential role of obedience in religious life. She said, “When you stop watching the infallible compass [of obedience], as quickly the mind wanders in arid lands where the water of grace is soon lacking.”

Over the next few years she revealed a talent for clarifying doctrine to those who had not received as much education as she. A kaleidoscope, whose three mirrors transform scraps of coloured paper into beautiful designs, provided an inspired illustration for the Holy Trinity. “As long as our actions, even the smallest, do not fall away from the focus of Divine Love, the Holy Trinity, symbolized by the three mirrors, allows them to reflect wonderful beauty. Jesus, who regards us through the little lens, that is to say, through Himself, always sees beauty in everything we do. But if we left the focus of inexpressible love, what would He see? Bits of straw … dirty, worthless actions”.”Another cherished image was that of the newly invented elevator, a vehicle Thérèse used many times over to describe God’s grace, a force that lifts us to heights we can’t reach on our own”. Her sister Céline’s memoir is filled with numerous examples of the teacher Thérèse. “Céline: – ‘Oh! When I think how much I have to acquire!’ Thérèse: – ‘Rather, how much you have to lose! Jesus Himself will fill your soul with treasures in the same measure that you move your imperfections out of the way.” And Céline recalled a story Thérèse told about egotism. ‘The 28 month old Thérèse visited Le Mans and was given a basket filled with candies, at the top of which were two sugar rings. ‘Oh! How wonderful! There is a sugar ring for Céline too!’ On her way to the station however the basket overturned, and one of the sugar rings disappeared. ‘Ah, I no longer have any sugar ring for poor Céline!’ Reminding me of the incident she observed; ‘See how deeply rooted in us is this self-love! Why was it Céline’s sugar ring, and not mine, that was lost?'[65] Martha of Jesus, a novice who spent her childhood in a series of orphanages and who was described by all as emotionally unbalanced, with a violent temper, gave witness during the beatification process of the ‘unusual dedication and presence of her young teacher. “Thérèse deliberately ‘sought out the company of those nuns whose temperaments she found hardest to bear.’ What merit was there in acting charitably toward people whom one loved naturally? Thérèse went out of her way to spend time with, and therefore to love, the people she found repellent. It was an effective means of achieving interior poverty, a way to remove a place to rest her head”

In September 1893, Thérèse, having been a professed novice for the standard three years, asked not to be promoted but to continue a novice indefinitely. As a novice she would always have to ask permission of the other, full sisters. She would never be elected to any position of importance. Remaining closely associated with the other novices, she could continue to care for her spiritual charges. In 1841 Jules Michelet devoted the major part of the fifth volume of his History of France to a favourable presentation of the epic of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans. Felix Dupanloup worked relentlessly for the glorification of Joan who, on 8 May 1429 had liberated Orléans, the city of which he became bishop in 1849. Thérèse wrote two plays in honour of her childhood heroine, the first about Joan’s response to the heavenly voices calling her to battle, the second about her resulting martyrdom.[citation needed]

1894 brought a national celebration of Joan of Arc. On 27 January, Leo XIII authorized the introduction of her cause of beatification, declaring Joan, the shepherdess from Lorraine ‘venerable’. Thérèse used Henri Wallon’s history of Joan of Arc – a book her uncle Isidore had given to the Carmel – to help her write two plays, ‘pious recreations’, “small theatrical pieces performed by a few nuns for the rest of the community, on the occasion of certain feast days.” The first of these, The Mission of Joan of Arc was performed at the Carmel on 21 January 1894, and the second Joan of Arc Accomplishes her Mission, exactly one year later, on 21 January 1895. In the estimation of one of her biographers, Ida Görres, they “are scarcely veiled self-portraits”.[66] On 29 July 1894, Louis Martin died.

The discovery of the “little way”

Thérèse entered the Carmel of Lisieux with the determination to become a saint. But, by the end of 1894, six full calendar years as a Carmelite made her realize how small and insignificant she was. She saw the limitations of all her efforts. She remained small and very far off from the unfailing love that she would wish to practice. She understood then that it was on this very littleness that she must learn to ask God’s help. Along with her camera, Céline had brought notebooks with her, passages from the Old Testament, which Thérèse did not have in Carmel. (The Louvain Bible, the translation authorized for French Catholics, did not include an Old Testament). In the notebooks Thérèse found a passage from Proverbs that struck her with particular force: “Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me” (9:4).

From the Book of Isaiah 66:12-13, she was struck by another passage: “you shall be carried at the breasts, and upon the knees they shall caress you. As one whom the mother caresseth, so will I comfort you.” She concluded that Jesus would carry her to the summit of sanctity. The smallness of Thérèse, her limits, became in this way grounds for joy, more than discouragement. It is only in Manuscript C of her autobiography that she gave to this discovery the name of little way, petite voie.

I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way—very short and very straight, a little way that is wholly new. We live in an age of inventions; nowadays the rich need not trouble to climb the stairs, they have lifts instead. Well, I mean to try and find a lift by which I may be raised unto God, for I am too tiny to climb the steep stairway of perfection. […] Thine Arms, then, O Jesus, are the lift which must raise me up even unto Heaven. To get there I need not grow; on the contrary, I must remain little, I must become still less.

In her quest for sanctity, she believed that it was not necessary to accomplish heroic acts, or great deeds, in order to attain holiness and to express her love of God. She wrote, Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.

This little way of Therese is the foundation of her spirituality. Within the Catholic Church Thérèse’s way was known for some time as “the little way of spiritual childhood,”] but Thérèse actually wrote “little way” only three times,[67] and she never wrote the phrase “spiritual childhood.” It was her sister Pauline who, after Thérèse’s death, adopted the phrase “the little way of spiritual childhood” to interpret Thérèse’s path.[76] Years after Thérèse’s death, a Carmelite of Lisieux asked Pauline about this phrase and Pauline answered spontaneously “But you know well that Thérèse never used it! It is mine.” In May 1897, Thérèse wrote to Father Adolphe Roulland, “My way is all confidence and love.” To Maurice Bellière she wrote, “and I, with my way, will do more than you, so I hope that one day Jesus will make you walk by the same way as me.”

Sometimes, when I read spiritual treatises in which perfection is shown with a thousand obstacles, surrounded by a crowd of illusions, my poor little mind quickly tires. I close the learned book which is breaking my head and drying up my heart, and I take up Holy Scripture. Then all seems luminous to me; a single word uncovers for my soul infinite horizons; perfection seems simple; I see that it is enough to recognize one’s nothingness and to abandon oneself, like a child, into God’s arms. Leaving to great souls, to great minds, the beautiful books I cannot understand, I rejoice to be little because only children, and those who are like them, will be admitted to the heavenly banquet.

Offering to merciful love

At the end of the second play that Thérèse had written on Joan of Arc, the costume she wore almost caught fire. The alcohol stoves used to represent the stake at Rouen set fire to the screen behind which Thérèse stood. Thérèse did not flinch but the incident marked her. The theme of fire would assume an increasingly great place in her writings. On 9 June 1895, during a mass celebrating the feast of the Holy Trinity, Thérèse had a sudden inspiration that she must offer herself as a sacrificial victim to merciful love. At this time some nuns offered themselves as a victim to God’s justice. In her cell she drew up an ‘Act of Oblation’ for herself and for Céline, and on 11 June, the two knelt before the miraculous Virgin and Thérèse read the document she had written and signed. In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for I do not ask you lord to count my works.. According to biographer Ida Görres the document echoed the happiness she had felt when Father Alexis Prou, the Franciscan preacher, had assured her that her faults did not cause God sorrow. In the Oblation she wrote, “If through weakness I should chance to fall, may a glance from Your Eyes straightway cleanse my soul, and consume all my imperfections – as fire transforms all things into itself”.

In August 1895 the four Martin sisters were joined by their cousin, Marie Guerin, in religion, Sister Marie of the Eucharist. Léonie, after several attempts, became Sister Françoise-Thérèse, a nun in the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary at Caen, where she died in 1941.

At age 14, she understood her vocation to pray for priests, to be “an apostle to apostles”. In September 1890, at her canonical examination before she professed her religious vows, she was asked why she had come to Carmel. She answered “I came to save souls, and especially to pray for priests”. Throughout her life she prayed fervently for priests, and she corresponded with and prayed for a young priest, Adolphe Roulland, and a young seminarian, Maurice Bellière. She wrote to her sister “Our mission as Carmelites is to form evangelical workers who will save thousands of souls whose mothers we shall be.”

In October 1895 a young seminarian and subdeacon of the White Fathers, Abbé Bellière, asked the Carmel of Lisieux for a nun who would support – by prayer and sacrifice – his missionary work, and the souls that were in the future to be entrusted to him.[78] Mother Agnes designated Thérèse. She never met Father Bellière but ten letters passed between them.

A year later Father Adolphe Roulland (1870–1934) of the Society of Foreign Missions requested the same service of the Lisieux Carmel. Once more Thérèse was assigned the duties of spiritual sister. “It is quite clear that Thérèse, in spite of all her reverence for the priestly office, in both cases felt herself to be the teacher and the giver. It is she who consoles and warns, encourages and praises, answers questions, offers corroboration, and instructs the priests in the meaning of her little way”.

The final years

Thérèse’s final years were marked by a steady decline that she bore resolutely and without complaint. Tuberculosis was the key element of Thérèse’s final suffering, but she saw that as part of her spiritual journey. After observing a rigorous Lenten fast in 1896, she went to bed on the eve of Good Friday and felt a joyous sensation. She wrote: “Oh! how sweet this memory really is! … I had scarcely laid my head upon the pillow when I felt something like a bubbling stream mounting to my lips. I didn’t know what it was.” The next morning her handkerchief was soaked in blood and she understood her fate. Coughing up of blood meant tuberculosis, and tuberculosis meant death.[80] She wrote, “I thought immediately of the joyful thing that I had to learn, so I went over to the window. I was able to see that I was not mistaken. Ah! my soul was filled with a great consolation; I was interiorly persuaded that Jesus, on the anniversary of His own death, wanted to have me hear His first call!”

Thérèse corresponded with a Carmelite mission in what was then French Indochina and was invited to join them, but, because of her sickness, could not travel. As a result of tuberculosis, she suffered terribly. When she was near death, “Her physical suffering kept increasing so that even the doctor himself was driven to exclaim, “Ah! If you only knew what this young nun was suffering!” During the last hours of Thérèse’s life, she said, “I would never have believed it was possible to suffer so much, never, never!” In July 1897, she made a final move to the monastery infirmary. On August 19, 1897, she received her last communion. She died on 30 September 1897, aged 24. On her death-bed, she is reported to have said, “I have reached the point of not being able to suffer any more, because all suffering is sweet to me.” Her last words were, “My God, I love you!”

Thérèse was buried on 4 October 1897, in the Carmelite plot, in the municipal cemetery at Lisieux, where her parents had been buried. Her body was exhumed in September 1910 and the remains placed in a lead coffin and transferred to another tomb.[83] In March 1923, however, before she was beatified, her body was returned to the Carmel of Lisieux, where it remains. The figure of Thérèse in the glass coffin is not her actual body but a gisant statue based on drawings and photos by Céline after Thérèse’s death. It contains her ribcage and other remnants of her body.

Spirituality

To the right and to the left, I throw to my little birds the good grain that God places in my hands. And then I let things take their course! I busy myself with it no more.Sometimes, it’s just as though I had thrown nothing; at other times, it does some good. But God tells me: ‘Give, give always, without being concerned with the results’.

Together with Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is one of the most popular Roman Catholic saints since apostolic times. She is approachable, due in part to her historical proximity. Barbara Stewart, writing for The New York Times, once called Thérèse “…the Emily Dickinson of Roman Catholic sainthood”.

As a Doctor of the Church, she is the subject of much theological comment and study, and, as a young woman whose message has touched the lives of millions, she remains the focus of much popular devotion.[86] She was a highly influential model of sanctity for Catholics in the first half of the twentieth century because of the simplicity and practicality of her approach to the spiritual life.

Thérèse was devoted to Eucharistic meditation and on 26 February 1895, shortly before she died wrote from memory and without a rough draft her poetic masterpiece “To Live by Love” which she had composed during Eucharistic meditation. During her life, the poem was sent to various religious communities and was included in a notebook of her poems.

Thérèse lived a hidden life and “wanted to be unknown”, yet became popular after her death through her spiritual autobiography. She also left letters, poems, religious plays, prayers, and her last conversations were recorded by her sisters. Paintings and photographs – mostly the work of her sister Céline – further led to her becoming known.

Thérèse said on her death-bed, “I only love simplicity. I have a horror of pretence”, and she spoke out against some of the claims made concerning the Lives of saints written in her day, “We should not say improbable things, or things we do not know. We must see their real, and not their imagined lives”.[90] The depth of her spirituality, of which she said, “my way is all confidence and love”, has inspired many believers. In the face of her littleness she trusted in God to be her sanctity. She wanted to go to heaven by an entirely new little way. “I wanted to find an elevator that would raise me to Jesus”. The elevator, she wrote, would be the arms of Jesus lifting her in all her littleness.

The devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus was promoted by another Carmelite nun, Sister Marie of St Peter in Tours, France in 1844. Then by Leo Dupont, also known as the Apostle of the Holy Face who formed the “Archconfraternity of the Holy Face” in Tours in 1851. Therese joined this confraternity on April 26, 1885.[93] Her parents, Louis and Zélie Martin, had also prayed at the Oratory of the Holy Face, originally established by Dupont in Tours.This devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus was based on images of the Veil of Veronica, as promoted by Dupont, rather than the Shroud of Turin, which image first appeared on a photographic negative in 1898.

On 10 January 1889, she was given the habit and received the name Thérèse of the Child Jesus. On 8 September 1890, Thérèse took her vows. The ceremony of taking the veil followed on the 24th, when she added to her name in religion, “of the Holy Face”, a title which was to become increasingly important in the development and character of her inner life.[95] In his “A l’ecole de Therese de Lisieux: maitresse de la vie spirituelle, “Bishop Guy Gaucher emphasizes that Therese saw the devotions to the Child Jesus and to the Holy Face as so completely linked that she signed herself “Therese de l’Enfant Jesus de la Sainte Face”—Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face. In her poem “My Heaven down here”, composed in 1895, Therese expressed the notion that by the divine union of love, the soul takes on the semblance of Christ. By contemplating the sufferings associated with the Holy Face of Jesus, she felt she could become closer to Christ.[96] She wrote the words “Make me resemble you, Jesus!” on a small card and attached a stamp with an image of the Holy Face. She pinned the prayer in a small container over her heart.

Thérèse wrote many prayers to express her devotion to the Holy Face. In August 1895, in her “Canticle to the Holy Face,” she wrote:”Jesus, Your ineffable image is the star which guides my steps. Ah, You know, Your sweet Face is for me Heaven on earth. My love discovers the charms of Your Face adorned with tears. I smile through my own tears when I contemplate Your sorrows.”

Thérèse emphasised God’s mercy in both the birth and the passion narratives in the Gospel. She wrote, “He sees it disfigured, covered with blood!… unrecognizable!… And yet the divine Child does not tremble; this is what He chooses to show His love”.

She composed the “Holy Face Prayer for Sinners”, “Eternal Father, since Thou hast given me for my inheritance the adorable Face of Thy Divine Son, I offer that face to Thee and I beg Thee, in exchange for this coin of infinite value, to forget the ingratitude of souls dedicated to Thee and to pardon all poor sinners.”[98] Over the decades, her poems and prayers helped to spread the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.[99]

Autobiography – The Story of a Soul

St. Thérèse is best known today for her spiritual memoir, L’histoire d’une âme (The Story of a Soul). It is a compilation of three separate manuscripts. The first, in 1895 is a memoir of her childhood, written under obedience to the Prioress, Mother Agnes of Jesus, her older sister Pauline. Mother Agnes gave the order after being prompted by their eldest sister, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart.

The second is a three-page letter, written in September 1896, at the request of her eldest sister Marie, who, aware of the seriousness of Thérèse’s illness, asked her to set down her “little doctrine”.[60] In June 1897, Mother Agnes asked Mother Marie de Gonzague, who had succeeded her as prioress, to allow Thérèse to write another memoir with more details of her religious life, (ostensibly as a help in the later composition of an anticipated obituary).

While on her deathbed Thérèse made a number of references to the book’s future appeal and benefit to souls. She authorized Pauline to make any changes deemed necessary. It was heavily edited by Pauline (Mother Agnes), who made more than seven thousand revisions to Therese’s manuscript and presented it as a biography of her sister. Aside from considerations of style, Mother Marie de Gonzague had ordered Pauline to alter the first two sections of the manuscript to make them appear as if they were addressed to Mother Marie as well.[60] The book was sent out as the customary “circular” advising other Carmels of a nuns death and requesting their prayers. However, it received a much wider circulation, a copies were lent out and passed around.\

Since 1973, two centenary editions of Thérèse’s original, unedited manuscripts, including The Story of a Soul, her letters, poems, prayers and the plays she wrote for the monastery recreations have been published in French. ICS Publications has issued a complete critical edition of her writings: Story of a Soul, Last Conversations, and the two volumes of her letters were translated by John Clarke, O.C.D.; The Poetry of Saint Thérèse by Donald Kinney, O.C.D.; The Prayers of St. Thérèse by Alethea Kane, O.C.D.; and The Religious Plays of St. Thérèse of Lisieux by David Dwyer and Susan Conroy.

Development of the cultus of St. Thérèse

Céline Martin entered the Lisieux convent on 14 September 1894. With Mother Agnes’ permission, she brought her camera to Carmel, and developing materials. “The indulgence was not by any means usual. Also outside of the normal would be the destiny of those photographs Céline would make in the Carmel, images that would be scrutinized and reproduced too many times to count. Even when the images are poorly reproduced, her eyes arrest us. Described as blue, described as gray, they look darker in photographs. Céline’s pictures of her sister contributed to the extraordinary cult of personality that formed in the years after Thérèse’s death”.

In 1902, the Polish Carmelite Father Raphael Kalinowski (later Saint Raphael Kalinowski) translated her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, into Polish.[105] As early as 1912 Father Thomas N. Taylor, a teacher at the Diocese of Glasgow seminary, wrote a short hagiography on Thérèse, two years before the case for her canonization would be opened. Taylor went on to become a significant proponent of devotion to “The Little Flower” in Scotland. As pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Carfin, Lanarkshire, he built a replica of the Grotto at Lourdes and included a small shrine honoring St. Thérèse with a statue donated by the Legion of Mary. Carfin became a sight of pilgrimages.

Canonization

The canonization of Saint Thérèse in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome

The impact of The Story of a Soul, a collection of her autobiographical manuscripts, printed and distributed a year after her death to an initially very limited audience, was significant. Pope Pius XI made her the “star of his pontificate”.] Pius X signed the decree for the opening of the process of canonization on 10 June 1914.

Pope Benedict XV, in order to hasten the process, dispensed with the usual fifty-year delay required between death and beatification. On 14 August 1921, he promulgated the decree on the heroic virtues of Thérèse declaring her “Venerable”. She was beatified on 29 April 1923.

Therese was canonized on 17 May 1925 by Pope Pius XI, only 28 years after her death. Thérèse was declared a saint five years and a day after Joan of Arc. However, the 1925 celebration for Thérèse “far outshone” that for the legendary heroine of France. At the time, Pope Pius XI revived the old custom of covering St. Peter’s with torches and tallow lamps. According to one account, “Ropes, lamps and tallows were pulled from the dusty storerooms where they had been packed away for 55 years. A few old workmen who remembered how it was done the last time — in 1870 — directed 300 men for two weeks as they climbed about fastening lamps to St. Peter’s dome.” The New York Times ran a front-page story about the occasion titled, “All Rome Admires St. Peter’s Aglow for a New Saint”. According to the Times, over 60,000 people, estimated to be the largest crowd inside St. Peter’s Basilica since the coronation of Pope Saint Pius X, 22 years before, witnessed the canonization ceremonies. In the evening, 500,000 pilgrims pressed into the lit square.

She rapidly became one of the most popular saints of the twentieth century. Her feast day was added to the General Roman Calendar in for celebration on October 3. In 1969, 42 years later, Pope Paul VI moved it to October 1, the day after her dies natalis (birthday to heaven).

Thérèse of Lisieux is the patron saint of aviators, florists, illness(es) and missions. She is also considered by Catholics to be the patron saint of Russia,[citation needed] although the Russian Orthodox Church does not recognize either her canonization or her patronage. In 1927, Pope Pius XI named Thérèse co-patron of the missions, with Saint Francis Xavier. In 1944 Pope Pius XII decreed her a co-patron of France with Saint Joan of Arc. The principal patron of France is the Blessed Virgin Mary.

By the Apostolic Letter Divini Amoris Scientia (The Science of Divine Love) of 19 October 1997, Pope Saint John Paul II declared her the thirty-third Doctor of the Church,[114], the youngest person, and one of only four women so named, the others being Teresa of Ávila (Saint Teresa of Jesus), Hildegard of Bingen and Catherine of Siena.

Devotion to Thérèse has developed around the world.[115] According to some biographies of Édith Piaf, in 1922 the singer — at the time, an unknown seven-year-old girl — was cured from blindness after a pilgrimage to the grave of Thérèse, who at the time was not yet formally canonized.

Canonization of her parents

Zelie and Louis Martin were the first spouses to be proposed for canonization as a couple and the first to be canonized together. In 2004, the Archbishop of Milan accepted the unexpected cure of Pietro Schiliro, an Italian child born near Milan in 2002 with a lung disorder, as a miracle attributable to their intercession. Announced by Cardinal Saraiva Martins on 12 July 2008, at the ceremonies marking the 150th anniversary of the marriage of the Venerable Zelie and Louis Martin, their beatification as a couple took place on 19 October 2008, in Lisieux.

In 2011 the letters of Blessed Zélie and Louis Martin were published in English as A Call to a Deeper Love: The Family Correspondence of the Parents of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, 1863–1885.[47] On 7 January 2013, in Valencia, Spain, the diocesan process opened to examine a “presumed miracle” attributed to their intercession: the healing of a newborn girl, Carmen Pérez Pons, who was born prematurely four days after their beatification and who inexplicably recovered from severe bleeding of the brain and other complications.

On 21 May 2013, the diocesan process to examine the miracle closed and the dossier was sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. Louis and Zélie Martin were canonized on 18 October 2015.

Source: Wikipedia