Monday, September 15, 2014

Terrible as an army set in battle array (On the Birth of the Virgin)

PRAISED BE JESUS, MARY, AND JOSEPH!

Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army in battle array?

This verse coming from the canticles is recited everyday by the members of the Legion of Mary as part of what they call the “Catena Legionis”. It speaks of the coming forth of the Blessed Virgin as compared to the dawn which breaks the darkness of the night. The birth of the Blessed Virgin is like the dawn of a new creation. New because the old creation was destroyed by sin and death on account of the disobedience of our first parents: by the disobedience of one man, sin entered into the world and together with sin entered death. What was supposed to be an imperishable creation was destroyed by the envy of the devil. But “behold, I make all things new,” says the Lord. He, who is about to create a new heaven and a new earth, created this wonderful child, like a new garden which the serpent was not allowed to enter. “Truly a better paradise than the first is given us at this hour. Eden, fear no more that man will endeavor to enter thee; thy Cherubim may leave the gates and return to heaven. What are thy beautiful fruits to us, since we cannot touch these without dying? Death is now for those who will not eat of the fruit so soon to appear amid the flowers of the virgin earth to which our God has led us.” (Abb. Gueranger, The Liturgical Year, Sept. 8.) Adam and Eve were prohibited from eating the death-giving fruit of the garden of Eden. But you and I are told to eat the fruit of the womb of Mary so that we may have life: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you cannot have life in you.”

The saints were not lacking in words in praising this day of the birth of the Virgin Mary. “St. Andrew of Crete calls this day a solemnity of entrance, a feast of beginning, whose end is the union of the Word with our flesh; a virginal feast full of joy and confident for all…’It is the beginning of salvation, the origin of every feast,’ says St. Peter Damian, ‘for behold! The Mother of the Bridegroom is born. With good reason does the whole world rejoice today; and the Church, beside herself, bids her choirs sing wedding songs.’” (Gueranger) Indeed, what a beautiful child is born for us today! “Mother of God, Queen of heaven, Sovereign of the world, all generations call you blessed, for you have brought forth life and glory for all. In you, the angels ever find their joy, the just find grace, sinners pardon; in you, and by you, and from you, the merciful hand of the Almighty has reformed the first creation!” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux) But while we admire the beauty of this little child, let us not forget that she is like an army arrayed for battle. St. Louie de Montfort said: “It is by Mary that the salvation of the world has begun, and it is by Mary that it must be consummated. Being the way by which Jesus Christ came to us the first time, she will also be the way by which He will come the second time, though not in the same manner. Mary must shine forth more than ever in mercy, in might, and in grace in these latter times: in mercy, to bring back and lovingly receive the poor strayed sinners who shall be converted and shall return to the Catholic Church; in might, against the enemies of God, idolaters, schismatics, Mahometans, Jews, and souls hardened in impiety, who shall rise in terrible revolt against God, to seduce all those who shall be contrary to them, and make them fall by promises and threats; and finally, she must shine forth in grace, in order to animate and sustain the valiant soldiers and faithful servants of Jesus Christ, who shall do battle for his interests. Mary must be terrible as an army ranged in battle, principally in these latter times. It is principally of these last and cruel persecutions of the devil, which shall go on increasing daily till the reign of the Antichrist, that we ought to understand that first and celebrated prediction and curse of God, pronounced in the terrestrial paradise against the serpent; ‘I will put enmities between you and the woman, and your seed and her seed.’

“God has never made or formed but one enmity; but it is an irreconcilable one: it is between Mary, his worthy Mother, and the devil; between the children and the servants of the Blessed Virgin and the children and the instruments of Lucifer. Satan fears Mary not only more than all the angels and men, but in some sense, more than God himself. It is not that the anger, the hatred, and the power of God are not infinitely greater than those of the blessed Virgin, for the perfections of Mary are limited; but it is because Satan, being proud, suffers infinitely more from being beaten and punished by a little and humble handmaid of God, and her humility humbles him more than the Divine power. The devils fear one of her sighs for a soul more than all the prayers of all the saints, and one of her menaces against them more than all other torments.” (True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin)

As we find ourselves in the middle of this raging battle between the Woman and the serpent, as the violence against the Christians in the Middle East escalates, as the threat of the Islamic Caliphate becomes more disturbing everyday, let us run to Mary and beg her to crush the head of the Serpent. “Together with the Church, let us ask, as the fruit of this feast, for that peace which seems to flee ever farther and farther from our unhappy times.” (Gueranger) “(May) the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin…bring deeper peace to those for whom the birth of her Son was the dawning of salvation.”

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!



The Cross Exalts



PRAISED BE JESUS, MARY, AND JOSEPH!

The Cross was devised by the Romans to bring about a slow, painful, and humiliating death. Death by crucifixion was so painful and humiliating that the Romans never executed their own kind in this way. Even to this very day, Christians in Syria are hung on crosses by their Muslim persecutors. They would not do this to their own kind. Thus, the cross is an instrument of torture, humiliation, and death.

However, today, we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. What was once an instrument of torture and death is now exalted as an instrument of salvation and life. What was once a symbol of humiliation is now a symbol of glory. What was once a sign of defeat is now an emblem of victory. All these because Jesus, the Son of the living God, mounted upon the wood of the Cross and there, he conquered sin and death. Indeed, the Cross is in itself an irony. In the Cross, we see how greatness is achieved by humiliation, life is gained by death, and victory is attained by seeming defeat. Our Lord Jesus emptied himself, descended from his heavenly throne and took upon himself the form of a human slave, and humbling himself even further, obediently accepted even death on a Cross. But by descending into the depths of humiliation, Jesus was exalted and glorified…given by the Father a Name which is above all other names. “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”

The Cross is exalted. At the same time, the Cross exalts! The Cross lifted up the Son of Man not only by hanging him between heaven and earth but also by glorifying Christ who died on its arms. If our Lord entered into his glory through the humiliation of the Cross, so too we have to follow him along the same path of the Cross in order to enter into the kingdom of Heaven. St. Louis de Montfort said: “To desire God’s glory is excellent, but to desire and pray for it without resolving to suffer all things is both foolish and extravagant. ‘You do not know what you are asking…’ ‘We must experience many hardships before we enter the kingdom of heaven.’ To enter this kingdom you must suffer many crosses and tribulations.” (Loius de Montfort, Letter to the Friends of the Cross, 24.)

Today, we pray for the persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria. We are horrified by what we hear about them: how their homes and properties are confiscated, how their men are executed, how their children are systematically beheaded, how their women are abused and sold as slaves – yes, we are horrified by the suffering that they endure. But through their sufferings and humiliation, we see the Cross being exalted and we see the Cross exalting them. We stand in awe before the strength and perseverance of their faith. We bow in great respect for the sacrifice of the martyrs. Before these witnesses of Christ, we are shamed to find ourselves incapable of bearing such heavy crosses and tribulations. We are also obliged to bear witness to Jesus in the same way. Let us remember that the sacrament of Confirmation “gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.” (CCC, 1303.)

As the threat of ISIS becomes more and more disturbing by the day, we realize that the time draws near when we will need to enter even more deeply into the mystery of the Cross of Jesus. Let us not fear the Cross but rather, let us welcome it and embrace it. “Rejoice and be glad when God favors you with one of his choicest crosses; for without realizing it, you are blessed with the greatest gift of heaven, the greatest gift of God…The world calls this madness, degradation, stupidity, a lack of judgment and of common sense. They are blind: let them say what they like. This blindness, which makes them view the cross in a human and distorted way, is a source of glory for us. Every time they cause us to suffer by their ridicule and insults, they are presenting us with jewels, setting us on thrones, and crowning us with laurels…The glory of one who know how to suffer is so great that heaven, angels, and men, and even God himself, gaze on him with joy as a most glorious sight…But if this glory is so great even on earth, what will it be in heaven? Who could understand fully that eternal weight of glory which a single moment spent in cheerfully carrying a cross obtains for us? Who could understand the glory gained in heaven…by a whole lifetime of crosses and sufferings?” (Montfort, 35-39.) The triumph of the Cross is the triumph of the Resurrection. “Formerly, the Cross led to the Resurrection; now it is the Resurrection that introduces us to the Cross. Resurrection and the Cross are trophies of our salvation!” (Sophronius, patriarch of Jerusalem)

Let us not run away from the Cross. Rather, let us embrace it for the sake of the glory that awaits us. As true witnesses of Jesus, let us spread and defend the faith. Let us confess the name of Christ boldly. Let us never be ashamed of the Cross.

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!



Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Cross: The Requisite for Discipleship

Christ, the Strength of the Martyrs!

PRAISED Be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Last week, Simon received the name Peter. Today, he is called Satan. Last week, he was praised for receiving revelation from the heavenly Father. Today, he is rebuked for thinking not as God does but as human beings do. Simon Peter was rebuked for opposing the plan of the Lord to go to Jerusalem in order to suffer and die in order to be raised up. Many of us might object: Was it wrong for St. Peter to desire for the Lord’s safety and well-being? Apparently, we find nothing wrong with what Peter said. But this is because we also are thinking as humans do. We are not thinking as God does.

The Lord called Peter “Satan” because Peter was opposing the mission of Jesus to suffer and die on the Cross. He was acting as an “enemy of the cross”. In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul spoke about the enemies of the Cross: “For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”  (Phil. 3:18-19) To detest the Cross is to be its enemy.
To the Lord, the Cross plays an integral part of his mission. To him, it is the only means to enter into his glory. Thus, he makes it a requirement for discipleship. Anyone who wishes to be his disciple must embrace the Cross: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” The doctrine of the Cross opposes the way of the world which is the way of self-preservation: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” The way of the world is self-preservation through accumulation. The world regards suffering as evil which should be avoided. We are taught that we must accumulate as much as we can in order to shield ourselves from suffering. But the Lord himself tells us that the rejection of the Cross is the path to destruction: “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?”

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross wrote: “The entirely comfortable being-at-home in the world, the satiety of pleasures that it offers, the demands for their pleasures and the matter-of-course consent to these demands – all of this is darkness in God’s eyes and incompatible with the divine light. It has to be totally uprooted if room for God is to be made in the soul. Meeting this demand means engaging in battle with one’s own nature all along the line, taking up one’s cross and delivering oneself up to be crucified.” (Edith Stein, The Science of the Cross, 47.)

The path to life is the path of self-denial. The way of the Cross is the way of discipleship. But what does it mean to deny oneself and to take up the Cross? St. John of the Cross explains this through maxims. He said: “Take care that your inclination is ever directed: not toward the easier, but toward the more difficult; not toward the pleasant, but toward the unpleasant; not toward the restful, but toward the troublesome; not toward the more, but toward the less, not toward what brings you more joy, but what brings displeasure; not towards what prepares consolation for you, but toward what makes you disconsolate; not toward the higher and more valuable, but toward the lowly and insignificant; not toward what wants to be something, but toward what wants to be nothing. Seek not what is the better in things, but what is worse. Demand for the sake of Christ to enter into total denudation and freedom and poverty from all there is in the world.” (CWJC, A.1.13.6-8.)


Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

DEMONIC EXPRESSIONS

Be careful with words because they are not as innocent as they seem to be. A friend sent me a book entitled A Message of Hope: Confessions of an Ex-Satanist: How to Protect Yourself from Evil written by Deborah Lipsky who, for many years, lived as a prisoner of a satanic cult. Browsing through the pages, I came across this part which spoke of expressions that are not meaningless but actually attract demons from hell. I would like to share this part for our guidance: 

TOP 5 EXPRESSIONS THAT ACT LIKE A DOG WHISTLE 
SUMMONING THE HOUNDS OF HELL


1. "GOD DAMN IT"

In this phrase you are directly asking that the Creator of the universe to curse someone or something into hell for eve. It is said in an atmosphere of anger where no love is present, only hate. If you derive some sort of satisfaction from using this expression, that satisfaction means you are under the influence of demonic thought tampering. If saying it gives you a sense of power, you are trapped into the mindset of demons. To a demon, this selfish unholy request means that you have the audacity to ask God to commit an evil act on your command. In essence you are ordering God to do your dirty work!

2. "WHY DON'T YOU JUST DROP DEAD?"

By saying this you are actually pronouncing a form of a curse on someone else because you are wishing for them to die. When I was in school, I was constantly bullied. There was always a group of girls who would publicly humiliate me and then tell me to drop dead. As I tried to walk away, I would either trip in my nervousness or drop my books. That made them cackle in delight and hurl even more insult my way such as "loser" or "moron". To actually feel delight in someone else's pain is a "character trait" of demons. To laugh at someone else's misfortune after telling them to drop dead is an obvious tell-tale sign that they are under the influence of a cluster of demons.  Having "friends" or people support or encourage such behavior means there is a cluster of demons at work within that group.

3. "I SWEAR TO GOD"

This expression means that you are making an unbreakable vow in front of God regarding your innocence. Jesus himself warned against swearing to God in Matthew 5:33-37, "Again you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, do not break your oath, but keep oaths you have made to the Lord. But I tell you, do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

To use this expression to hide behind a false innocence is disgusting. Not only are you lying but you are manipulating the other person's trust by getting them to believe that God is vouching for your innocence. This expression is a favorite of demons everywhere.

4. "HOCUS POCUS"

Mainly this phrase is used in magic tricks but every now and then I hear it when someone says something to the effect, "There is a lot of 'hocus pocus' going on there." No Catholic should ever use this phrase as it is a derogatory corruption referring to the Eucharist: "Hoc est Corpus" or "This is my Body". Protestants back in the Middle Ages used this corrupted term to mock the Holy Eucharist...They would hurl this insult not only at clergy but also Catholic lay people on their way to Mass.

5. "KISS MY ASS"

I saved this expression last because it is especially vulgar. Sadly it is such a common expression in our society today spoken to show defiance. It is better known to Satanists elsewhere as the "oscularum infame" or "Kiss of Shame". During the traditional black mass this was considered a symbolic requisite towards earthly success. Participants would literally kiss the bare behind of the devil (usually the high priest
conducting the mass). Nothing gets a cluster of demons charging headlong towards somebody faster than using excerpts from the satanic mass.

(Deborah Lipsky, A Message of Hope: Confessions of an Ex-Satanist: How to Protect Yourself from Evil, Phoenix: Tau Publishing, 2012, 175-176.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bread Offered, Broken, and Shared

You yourselves give them food to eat!
Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

The disciples were concerned that it was getting late and they were in a deserted place. The vast crowd that came to listen to Jesus had to be fed. And so they proposed to the Lord that the crowd be dismissed so that they may buy food for themselves from the nearby villages. They must have been surprised that the Lord should tell them: “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” How could they provide food for all when they had nothing but five loaves and 2 fish? It definitely was not enough for them, but not for the Lord. He told them to bring to him what they had. Receiving the seemingly meager offering, the Lord Jesus blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples for distribution to the hungry crowds. The crowd ate until they were satisfied with leftovers that filled 12 wicker baskets.

What seemed a meager offering was enough for the Lord to feed all who were present. How the Lord multiplied the limited supply we will never know. But one thing we know is this, that the offering, no matter how meager it may be, had to be made. This is the greatness of the Lord: no offering is so poor that it cannot be worthy of him. We might hesitate that what we can afford to give might not suffice or might not be good enough. But the Lord tells us: “Bring them here to me.” He takes what we offer. he accepts our humble gifts of bread and wine. He blesses them and transforms them into his own body and blood. He makes our offering his own. He breaks his offering: His body he gives up. His blood he pours out. Then he gives us back what is offered so that in consuming this heavenly food, we might share in his divine life and be transformed into his likeness, the likeness of his compassionate and generous heart.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “Each celebration of the Eucharist makes sacramentally present the gift that the crucified Lord made of his life, for us and for the whole world. In the Eucharist Jesus also makes us witnesses of God's compassion towards all our brothers and sisters. The eucharistic mystery thus gives rise to a service of charity towards neighbour, which ‘consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, affecting even my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ.’ (Deus Caritas Est, 232.) In all those I meet, I recognize brothers or sisters for whom the Lord gave his life, loving them ‘to the end’ (Jn 13:1). Our communities, when they celebrate the Eucharist, must become ever more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ is for all, and that the Eucharist thus compels all who believe in him to become ‘bread that is broken’ for others, and to work for the building of a more just and fraternal world. Keeping in mind the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, we need to realize that Christ continues today to exhort his disciples to become personally engaged: ‘You yourselves, give them something to eat’ (Mt 14:16). Each of us is truly called, together with Jesus, to be bread broken for the life of the world.” (Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 88.)


Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Prayer to Mary, Help of Christians

Mary, Help of Christians, when thou dost arise
to protect the Church, her victory is sure!
VIRGIN MOST POWERFUL, loving helper of the Christian people, how great thanks do we owe thee for the assistance thou didst give our fathers, who, when they were threatened by the Turkish infidels, invoked thy maternal help by the devout recitation of the Rosary! From heaven thou didst see their deadly peril; thou didst hear their voices imploring thy compassion; and their humble prayers, enjoined by the great Pope, Saint Pius the fifth, were acceptable unto thee, and thou camest quickly to deliver them. Grant, dear Mother, that in like manner the prolonged sighs of the holy Bride of Christ in these our days may come to thy throne and engage thy pity; do thou, moved anew to compassion for her, rise once again to deliver her from the many foes who encompass her from every side.

Even now from the four quarters of the earth there arises to thy throne that loved prayer, to win thy mercy in these troubled times even as of old. Unhappily our sins hinder, or at least, retard its effect. Wherefore, dear Mother, obtain for us true sorrow for our sins and a firm resolution to face death itself rather than return to our former iniquities; we are sore distressed that, through our fault, thy help, of which we stand in such extreme need, should be denied or come too late.

Rise, then, O Mary, incline thyself to hear the prayers of the whole Catholic world, and beat flat to the ground the pride of those wretched men, who in their insolence blaspheme Almighty God and would destroy His Church, against which, according to the infallible words of Christ, the gates of hell shall never prevail. Let it be seen once more that when thou dost arise to protect the Church, her victory is sure.

Amen.

(from the Raccolta)