Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Gentle Saint


If you're looking for a master in the spiritual life who writes in a down-to-earth, understandable format, then St. Francis de Sales is your guide. It is remarkable that a priest with so many demands as St. Francis could write countless letters and treatises, but one could say this is how his apostolate reached more people. To this day, men and women in all states of life are benefiting from his invaluable advice and direction.

It is hard to pick a favorite work from a favorite author, but I really drew much from St. Francis' Introduction to the Devout Life. Perhaps because it is so varied in the practical sense....one could literally find advice about most any situation and how to grow in virtue. From the Sacraments, to meditations, to virtues and vices, to friendship, St. Francis has an encouraging word to say on every topic. His words are truly immortal because they are just as relevant today as when he wrote them.

One great quote from this work is about choosing to be "in the world" but not "of it" and adhering strongly to our devotion to God: "Never heed this blind world, then; let it cry out as it will, like a bat that would disturb the birds of day. Let us be firm in our plans, unchanging in our resolutions; perseverance will show whether we are in earnest in offering ourselves to God and leading a devout life. . . . Hypocrisy and true virtue have a considerable external resemblance, but they are easily distinguished, since hypocrisy does not endure, but soon vanishes like the rising smoke, whilst true virtue abides firm and constant. . . . We are crucified to the world, and the world should be crucified to us. It counts us as fools, let us count its votaries as madmen."

Other inspiring works of his include: Roses Among Thorns, The Sign of the CrossThe Art of Loving God, Consoling Thoughts (4 parts), Serenity of Heart, his Sermons, Treatise on the Love of God, and so many more! St. Francis de Sales is one of my favorite saints because he devoted so much time to writing as a way to really reach souls. People drew profit from his advice because it made the attainment of holiness seem possible. His life was a model of virtue and sacrifice, one example being his tireless efforts to convert the Calvinists resulting in nearly 60,000 people returning to the Catholic Faith. His last word of advice before his death was "humility."

One could write forever about the glories of this amazing saint. He is an ideal saint to pray to because one can tell by his writings how understanding he was of human nature--thus giving him the name of "gentle saint." St. Francis knew above all how to encourage souls in the pursuit of Heaven by carrying our daily crosses for the love of God. Take the time to read one (or many!) of his excellent works. It is well worth it! St. Francis de Sales, pray for us.
                                                                                  ~ Therese

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows


On the 15th of September, we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. It is a great devotion to have/remember because no matter what we suffer we always have an understanding Mother to turn to who will make our sorrows lighter. 

The Seven Sorrows are as follows:

1. Prophecy of Simeon
2. Flight into Egypt
3. Loss of Jesus for three days in Jerusalem
4. Meeting on the way to Calvary
5. Crucifixion/Death of Jesus
6. Jesus taken down from the Cross
7. Burial of Jesus

The chaplet pictured consists of meditating on these mysteries/sorrows of Mary, while praying an Our Father and seven Hail Mary's. (It will soon be available for purchase at handmadecatholicshop.com!) The chaplet originated in the 13th century to honor and meditate upon the moments Our Lady shared most deeply in the Passion of her Son.

Sometimes in our lives when we can't understand why we should suffer and think that God should take away all our troubles because He is God, it is helpful to turn to Mary, who willingly suffered in union with Jesus in order to bring about our salvation. This is all God asks of us---a willingness to suffer, that is, to accept our trials for love of Him and to remember that we can never suffer as much as Jesus and Mary did for us. In our darkest moments, we have to remember that all we endure is but little repayment for the price Our Lord and Our Lady paid for us.

Words of St. Bernard: "All of you, who see yourselves amid the tides of the world, tossed by storms and tempests rather than walking on the land, do not turn your eyes away from this shining star, unless you be overwhelmed by the hurricane. If temptation storms, or you fall upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star: call upon Mary." 

                                                                                ~ Therese

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Song of Bernadette


The Song of Bernadette film opens with the line: "For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible." This 1943 movie gives a stirring presentation of the apparitions and miracles of Lourdes that reflect this statement. With 5,200 cast members and an Academy Award winning lead for "best actress of the year," the efforts to portray the events of 1858 in The Song of Bernadette pay off.

To begin, the movie brings alive the sufferings and poverty of the Soubirous family, who lived in an "old jail" that was not even fit for prisoners. Early in the film we are introduced to Bernadette's humility and generosity despite her poor health. It doesn't take long for the movie to jump right into the heart of the story, that is, the visions the saint had of Our Lady. For a fortnight, Mary would appear to Bernadette, calling for penance and the praying of the rosary. 

One also witnesses the political resistance and general opposition to Bernadette's faith, alongside the acceptance and belief of thousands of the faithful. With the growing miracles of the spring water of the grotto, even the doctors have to admit something unexplainable by earthly means is taking place. Viewers are gratified especially when her parish priest, Peyramale, eventually rallies to her side in so many instances. A particularly good scene is with the Bishop of Tarbes who says: "The Commission (to look into Bernadette's apparitions) can render only one of three decisions. First, 'you're an impostor little Soubirous. Away with you to a home of juvenile delinquents'. Second: 'you're a madwoman little Soubirous. Away with you to an asylum.' Third: . . ." Peyramale cuts in: "You are the rarest of mortal beings, little Soubirous."

When Bernadette shares the name of her Lady as the "Immaculate Conception," debate ensues among the clergy. When one of the priests says he thinks the Lady made some kind of blunder, Bernadette says she will let her know that. Bernadette's simplicity and sincerity render most objectors speechless. She manages to win over many hard-hearted souls through her piety, as well as her conviction in the Lady's messages. Her heroic acceptance of sufferings, especially toward the end of her life in the convent, would inspire anyone to bear all for the love of Christ.

One can hardly appreciate the beauty of the saint's life only by seeing this film or reading books about her, but they do aid in the visualization of the deep wealth of her virtues and gifts. I highly recommend this film to anyone who wishes to revisit such a beautiful event in history as Our Lady appearing at Lourdes.

                                                                                          ~ Therese


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Five First Saturdays


The five first Saturdays devotion is one that is so intimately connected with the anniversary of 100 years since the Fatima apparitions. Our Lady expressly asked for these conditions to be fulfilled for five consecutive first Saturdays:

1. To receive Holy Communion.
2. To make a good Confession (eight days before or after).
3. To recite a five decade Rosary.
4. To spend 15 minutes meditating on one or all of the mysteries of the Rosary.
5. Offer the devotions in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart.

Why five?

1. In reparation for blasphemies uttered against her Immaculate Conception.
2. In reparation for blasphemies uttered against her Divine Maternity.
3. In reparation for blasphemies uttered against her Virginity.
4. In reparation for those who impress hatred for her in the hearts of children.
5. In reparation for insults committed against her sacred images.

Those who observe the five First Saturdays receive the promise of Our Lady who will help at the hour of death with all graces needed for the salvation of their souls. Let us respond generously to the requests of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for a world so in need of God's mercy and for the conversion of poor sinners and the country of Russia.

                                                                                 ~ Therese