Christine Westhoff’s “HARK”: Sacred CHRISTMAS Music MUST HAVE for THIS Season!

22 November 2015

Hello Readers,

Once in a great while I come across something I feel very strongly about. I usually come to you for prayer intentions and I also love to share beautiful people and things with you. Right this moment in Little Rock, Arkansas; Christine Westhoff is stocking her second CD and first Christmas CD, aptly named “Hark!”.

I am a musician and have a particular love of sacred music and, of course, Christmas music. I am letting you, my readers know about this fabulously talented young woman. Her voice, truly a gift from God, has been given back to Him as a humble gift from Westhoff. She could have embraced a secular career of opera and, in my humble opinion, would go far for sure. Instead, Christine gives her voice to the sacred.

In this time in history, there are few people who understand this kind of selflessness. What you are about to find out is what type of person she is, from this following article and then you will hear the best version EVER of “O Holy Night”. Best. Version. Ever.

Lyric Soprano Christine Westhoff and her Christmas CD, “Hark”

christine hark

For information on Christine Westhoff, her concert schedule, to purchase her music or schedule a master class with Christine, please visit , or at iTunes search “Christine Westhoff” album: Hark.




Classically trained as a lyric operatic soprano, Christine Westhoff is becoming one of the leading American artists in the area of oratorio and sacred music, attracting the attention of a widening public including the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, and the United States.

The 32-year-old singer is unique in that, although trained as an operatic singer, she has devoted her career to sacred music that was written some 500-700 years before her birth, “I assumed I was going to be an opera singer. I’d trained as one. I sounded like one. I just couldn’t figure out why the idea of having to sing opera for the rest of my career left me with a hollow feeling.” Westhoff says an accidental discovery changed her path, “One afternoon I stumbled onto an old oratorio book of music. Just as a priest is called to the collar, I instantly knew that God was showing me where he wanted me.”

As a Catholic, Westhoff’s 2013 concert tour kicked off in the city where faith is foremost–Rome, Italy, where she performed in the ancient and beautiful San Silvestro Chapel, with an audience that included various princes, priests, and prelates of the Church.

Christine Westhoff at Belleville Cathedral asking Saint Cecilia for her blessing

Christine Westhoff at Belleville Cathedral asking Saint Cecilia for her blessing

In addition to the sacred and oratorio pieces Westhoff performed, her 2013 tour included pieces by contemporary U.K. composer, Ash Madni. Qatar-born Madni, known for compositions that fuse Western and Eastern classical music, has high praise for Westhoff; “Christine’s singing is beautiful, pitch perfect, powerful and radiates passion, rare to find these days.” Westhoff sang his “An Aria for Fatimah,” which sets Percy Shelley’s poetry to music.After her premier in Italy, Westhoff continued with a concert schedule in the U.S.

When asked about how she views her job as a singer, Westhoff mused, “I feel blessed that I was chosen for this job. Humbled that this is my small part of His work. Grateful that I can call some of the great cathedrals of the world my office.”

The Feast of All Saints: Pt 3 by Fr Francis Xavier Weninger 1876

1 November 2015

“Your reward is very great in heaven.”–Matt, v, 12.


Should we desire, in some measure, to anticipate the fullness of the bliss that the Saints enjoy in heaven, we need only recall to mind what Faith teaches us concerning the joy and happiness of Heaven. In this consideration, let us follow the advice of St. Paul, and, even while upon earth, gaze, as in a mirror, upon the joys of heaven; and we will understand that all the joys of this world are likewise found in heaven, but in an immeasurably higher degree.

And still there are Christians who think and say: “There is a heaven; but, alas, how little we know of it, and of what is therein contained!” What a delusion! I say, on the contrary: “We know enough, and so much, indeed, that it is inconceivable how, when once we have earnestly reflected on what Faith teaches us about heaven, we do not continually carry the thought of that blessed abode in our minds, live for heaven, long for heaven, and exclaim, with holy David: “Who will give me wings like a dove, and I will fly and be at rest? Woe is me that my sojourn is prolonged! When, when, O Lord, shall I stand in Thy presence?”

In order to see this truth more clearly, we need but question the Saints themselves, upon whose exultation we are meditating.

“Where are ye?” They will give us their answer from heaven.

O Mary, thou, whose joy is above that of all the Angels and Saints in the bliss of heaven, assist us, that we may one day share that joy in the communion of all the Saints! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

It happened once that an aged servant of God met a man who seemed to be entirely buried in grief, and said to him: “Art thou a Christian? Dost thou believe that there is a heaven awaiting thee? If so, how canst thou mourn? Let them grieve who never have heard of heaven! Let them be downcast who do not believe in heaven!”

To appreciate this truth, it is merely necessary to reflect on where the Saints of God are, and to consider the bliss they there enjoy; for all the happiness they enjoy is within our reach.

And, as life is so short and heaven our approaching destiny forever, is it not proper that we ask the Saints today: “Where are ye?” Listen to their answer as it descends from heaven: “We are in the land of promise; in the land where many meet and none do part. What joy when we found there those whom we loved on earth, who served God with us, whom death had torn from us, and with whom we now enjoy life ever lasting!” Dost thou hear this, afflicted soul? Hast thou lost relatives and acquaintances? Hast thou the hope that they died a holy death? Console thyself! Rejoice and sing the jubilee of the Saints! Soon thou wilt see them again.

“Ye Saints of God, where are ye?” Listen to their answer: “We are in paradise. We behold the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.” Paradise means that part of creation which expands over the regions of the starry firmament.

There is a proverb which says: “See Naples and die.” Still, what is Naples? What is the beauty of the earth, even in its most charming spot? All these, in God’s sight, are as thistles and thorns–the husks with which He feeds the sinner for the little moral good he does during life.

A God, infinitely beautiful, blessed, and at the same time Almighty, is able to create more than the dust of this world. Yet, even of this earthly home, how little do we possess! Poor man, do you hear the call from heaven? “The heavens are mine; all mine.” Thus shalt thou, too, soon cry out. Rejoice and be jubilant, and cry to the Saints: We come soon, soon!

“Where are ye, Saints of God?” Hear their answer from heaven: “We are in the kingdom of reward.” The greatness of which reward no eye hath seen, nor ear heard; neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive. Oh, too much, too much! Thus exult the Saints. They are in the land of joy, of perfect joy; and there is no shadow of sorrow, no grief, no misery, forever.

“I heard a voice from the throne, which said: There shall be neither suffering, nor complaining, nor misery, nor want, nor separation, nor death. What was, has gone by. The Lord has dried the tears from the eyes of His own forever.” Thus writes St. John, who, in ecstasies, had got a glimpse of heaven.

Child of man, is it labor that weighs thee down, is it sickness, grief, persecution, that embitters thy life? Think on heaven. Soon thou wilt be in the kingdom of reward and joy. Persevere, and thou shalt enter forever into the joy of the Lord. Oh, what a consolation! Yes, ye Saints, we come soon to the kingdom of joy.

“Where are ye, ye Saints?” Hear the answer from heaven: “We enjoy the communion of all the Angels and Saints–we entered into the communion of their blessedness and glory.” Nor is this all, for the Lord not only rewards every one according to his works, but there is also a participation of each in the bliss of all.

Hearest thou, O melancholy soul? What is it that casts thee down? Art thou alone and abandoned on earth? Are all whom thou lovest and who were dear to thee, dead? Soon thou, also, wilt sing thy canticle of joy in heaven: “I see all the Angels, the Archangels, the Principalities, the Powers, the Virtues, the Dominations, the Thrones, the Cherubim, the Seraphim, and I enter into the bliss and love of all the holy Virgins, Confessors and Martyrs, of the Patriarchs and Prophets, of the beloved Apostle of Christ, St. John, and of St. Joseph? Why should I bewail you, ye holy acquaintances and relatives? Soon will I share with you your everlasting joy.”

“Where are ye now, ye Saints of God?” “With Mary and Jesus,” echoes the answer. “What is mine is thine:” thus cries Mary to every saved child of hers, and Jesus fulfills His promise: “To the victor I will give to sit with Me on My throne.”

“Where are ye, ye Saints of God?” Hear the answer: “Near God, with God, in God.” “I Myself,” says the Almighty, “am thy reward exceeding great.” Remember this: God, the never-ending happiness, shall soon be thy lot and portion; and, oh, in what a union! There is no expression for it in human language.

“We shall see Him as He is,” as St. John tells us. “They shall be like God,” says Christ Himself. Christian soul, how canst thou grieve, when thou thinkest on the jubilee of the Saints, which thou art soon to share? Hear their call from heaven: “We see God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” Thus they shout in thunders of Alleluias: “We are now united to God, submerged in the never-ending power, wisdom, holiness, mercy, truth, majesty, and magnificence of God, and lost in His infinite beauty and blessedness and love. We are one with God as His godlike representations.”

I will give you an illustration: Suppose an acquaintance, a father, brother, friend, or bridegroom were to come from afar, and you did not know it, and he were to stand at the door behind a curtain. You can not see him, but there is in the room a mirror, in which his image is reflected. Looking at the mirror, you would cry out: “Oh, it is my father, brother, friend, or husband!”

Were it possible for this man to impart his life to the image shadowed in the mirror, we could say, at once: “It is he!” This mirror in heaven is the light of glory, in which the soul sees the image of God reflected, of Whose divine life she now partakes. Oh, what a place of divine bliss!

Christian soul, when thou takest seriously to heart the answer that the Saints have just given from heaven, then must thou say: “Beautiful heaven, thee must I possess, cost what it may–labor, suffering, blood, and life itself. How glad must thou not be if thou reflectest that it depends on thee alone to become truly holy. Sin is the only hinderance that presents itself in thy way. But there is neither man nor devil capable of forcing thee to sin. Man is free, and with the grace of God is stronger than the whole world, and all flesh, nay, even stronger than hell itself.

Of like strength is virtue, which we must practise, in order to multiply our joys in heaven. It is true that men and hell are able to prevent us from fulfilling this or that work of virtue and zeal: but nothing in the world can hinder us from doing God’s will, from so doing what He expects of us, that we may go forward, meritoriously, on the path of Christian perfection. These practices of virtue are presented to us in the words of Christ Himself, words that the Church repeats to us in the gospel of today, the feast of All Saints: “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are they that mourn. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice. Blessed are the clean of heart. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the peace-makers. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake. Exceedingly great is their reward in heaven.” It is Christ Himself Who gives us this assurance.

Live up to these eight beatitudes, after the example of the Saints on earth, and soon shalt thou rejoice in communion with them in heaven through Him, the King of All Saints. Amen.

The Feast of All Saints: Pt 2 (Fr Francis Xavier Weninger 1876)

1 November 2015

“Considering the end of their conversation, follow their faith.”–Heb. xiii, 7.

BlMother All Saints

When one lives in distress, and hears of the happiness of others, he naturally asks himself the question: How is it that, although born of parents of the most humble condition, he is held in such high honor, and is esteemed by so many? Thus we hear of an Emperor, once a swine-herd; of a Pope, the son of a carpenter. And how many similar examples do we not witness in America? Men of low birth have worked themselves up to the highest dignities of the State; and many from beggars have become millionaires. Here again the thought naturally suggests itself: How did their success begin? How did they manage to succeed so well?

Hence it is that, looking into heaven in spirit, and thinking upon those who have entered that happy abode, this question will also force itself upon us: What were the thoughts that occupied the minds of the Saints while here on earth? What means did they employ to attain such a degree of Christian perfection?

I say to you: Ask the Saints, and they will answer you from heaven.

How fitting it is to examine the motives that actuated their works, and guided them to the land of promise! Can there, indeed, be one more appropriate to the day?

O Mary, Queen of all Saints, Mirror of Justice, obtain for us the favor of the Saints, that we may follow their example and become holy! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater honor of God!

When we name the Saints and speak of them, we do not seem to consider them as ordinary beings, but rather as more than mortal, whom God has raised to more than human perfection. Yet this is not altogether the case. The Saints were men as we are. They were children of Adam, born in sin, and subject to the stain of original sin, as we all have been. As they grew in age, they were not free from temptation. They were frail children of Adam, who, as St. Paul declares, felt in themselves the sting of concupiscence, and were exposed to the dangers of being lost forever.

They lived as ordinary men, and yet their lives were extraordinary. What was ordinary in them, and belonged to their state of life, was not done in a common way, but rather in a perfect and holy , manner. Why this difference? I answer: Because they lived in the full resoluteness of those principles that faith taught them, and were more faithful in observing them than we are. You may ask: What are those principles? I answer: Ask the Saints themselves, they will tell you from above.

Speak, ye Saints of God, you holy–[name of patrons of this Church, etc.]–and all ye Saints! What did ye meditate upon that your lives became so holy? Listen today to the answer from heaven.

Our thought was: I serve God. Do ye hear? Think on this, and you, too, will lead a holy life. Why? Because God is infinite perfection, and deserves an infinite homage. Indeed, no mortal, nay, not even Mary herself, can give this homage to God. The blessed Manhood of Christ, in hypostatic union with His Divinity, is alone capable of rendering to the Father the adoration due to Him. What lesson does this teach us? It teaches us that, though we had the ardor of Mary, and of all the Saints, we would still be obliged to acknowledge before God: I am a useless servant. My God, to Thee belongs a much greater zeal in Thy service than we can give.

Ye Saints, what made you so holy? Listen to the answer: Our thought was, God sees me.

Think on this as did the Saints, walk constantly according to their example, in the presence of God, and, as they did, so will you live holy. God Himself assured us of this when He said to Abraham: “Walk before Me and be perfect.” Try this! Walk only one entire day in the presence of God, and say to yourselves, ten, twenty times a day, at the beginning and the end of your work: God sees me! and the inspirations of the Holy Ghost will be multiplied within you, and urge you to live in a holy manner. You will be inspired to make good resolutions, and will receive strength to live according to them.

Ye Saints of God, what made you so holy, so earnest, and humble in the service of God? Hear the answer: The thought that filled ourmindwas what I do, I do it for God.

Do you likewise think of this with the same assiduity, and you, too, will live holy in the strength and vigor of a pure intention.

This is done even in the world. Whosoever does any thing for a dignitary of this earth–for a Lord, a King, or an Emperor–on whose kindness depends the happiness of this whole life, that man certainly will make all possible endeavors to do his work as perfectly as he can, so that it may be presentable to this Lord, King, Ruler, or Benefactor.

Ye Saints of God, what made you so holy? Listen to the answer: It is this thought: either I must become holy and go to heaven, or I shall be damned. Either I must live in grace, and be in the company of the blessed, or I shall fall into sin, perish, and be numbered with the throngs of evil spirits and condemned sinners. “Not to go forward in the way of perfection is to go backward,” St. Bernard says. Whoever does not swim against the stream, him the stream will sweep along in its course. If I do not become entirely holy in life, though I should die in the state of grace, the fires of Purgatory must cleanse me unto holiness. Hence it is better to labor and suffer meritoriously now, than to endure great torments without merit hereafter.

And mark this well. Perhaps none of you have ever thought of it. And still it is one of the teachings of the Church upon which the Saints continually meditated. Should we not reach the degree of sanctity to which God calls us as the Saints did, who are now raised to the honors of the altar, we may run the risk of being lost forever.

For you it may be either to be high in heaven, or not to be there at all. Remember Judas. He was either to have a place in heaven among the Apostles, or to be excluded altogether from the company of the Saints. The degree of holiness, which corresponds to this glory, depends, perhaps, upon one proffered grace–upon the use or abuse we make of it. A chain, be it the longest, if one link is missing, is falling.

It is the assurance of the Lord, Who said: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a mustard seed.” The lives of the Saints bear testimony to this. In their lives things apparently small took place; and had they not, on those occasions, listened to the inspirations of grace, they would never have become such great Saints; nay, perhaps they would have been lost.

Call to mind St. Anthony. Had he not listened to the inspiration of God, which said: ” Go to Mass today ;” had he not heard the words of the Gospel: ” If thou wilt be perfect, sell what thou hast, give it to the poor, and follow Me,” he would likely have remained, during life, in the possession of his worldly goods; would have set his mind on gold; would not have retired to the desert, and would never have become the patriarch of innumerable Saints. The woes of riches would have befallen him; and, mayhap, he would be now a reprobate. Behold the mustard seed! Likewise, had John of God not listened to the inspiration: “Go today to the sermon;” had he not done it on that particular day; had he not heard that sermon, which made him a Saint instantaneously, although he was a sinner when he entered the church,–I ask, would he be a Saint to-day, or would he not rather be among the damned?

Do you know to which grace God has attached your salvation? You do not. Therefore, make use of every grace which the Lord offers you. Do this, and you will be holy.

Ye Saints of God, what made you holy? Listen to the answer: This thought,–The more assiduous I am, the better and lighter becomes the work, and the greater the merit thereof. Think on this, and you, too, will acquire merit, as did the Saints, and gather full sheaves for the granary of heaven.

Ye Saints, what made you so holy? Listen to the answer: This was our reflection,–Life is but one. Only once have I the opportunity to reap merits for heaven. Now, or never! Oh, what an all-important principle!

Not without a special dispensation of divine Providence does the Feast of All Saints precede that of All Souls,–that reminder of certain death,–that reminder of the fleeting nature of time! Death and time cease together! The harvest is over! Eternity begins!

“Yes, time, thou art precious as God Himself,” cried St. Chrysostom,–for time is the only means by which we can insure our union with God forever, and increase His glory. Were we able to see every evening all the crowns that we have lost during the day, not only because we have sinned, but because we have not made use of all the hours and minutes of the day in the service of God,–with what fervor would we not live the following day!

Hence, think daily of your last hour, and ask yourself: When the moment comes, and my heart beats for the last time, how would I then desire to have spent my life ? Holily! But then it will be too late! Now, I have it in my power; but then, as my life has been, so will be my death! If I have lived in lukewarmness, the pangs of the tepid Christian at death await me! On the contrary, if I have lived with the zeal of the Saints, then will I certainly die the precious and consoling death of the just. Maybe, a death even without Purgatory.

Ye Saints, what made you so holy? Oh, we thought, if I die holily, I shall go straight to heaven. My judgment shall be without judgment, and I shall hear the invitation of the Lord: “Enter thou into My joy.”

Finally, the Saints of heaven ask us: Why do you question us so often? Children of men, do you not know where we are? In the kingdom of recompense! Should we be sorry for any thing, it would be that we did not live more holily, and did not labor and suffer more for heaven.

But you may ask: Must I not then receive special grace from God to live thus? I answer: And thou shalt have it, if thou prayest for it with an upright heart; not, indeed, because of thy own merits, but because of the infinite merits of Christ.

All depends on this: That thou be, at present, as earnest and sincere as the Saints. Then wilt thou be able to say before God: Lord, Thou seest my heart; I am in earnest; I have said it, now do I begin, and I will live up to the principles of the Saints. Give me Thy efficacious grace.

May all the Saints intercede for us, that we may obtain these graces. All heaven says: Amen! Amen!

Source: Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

The Feast of All Saints: Pt 1 (Fr Francis Xavier Weninger 1876)

1 November 2015

All Saints

“And they sang the canticle of Moses, the servant of God.”–Apoc. xv.

If on today’s festival we think of the communion of the Saints in heaven, we will undoubtedly exclaim within our soul: “Oh, what a joy, what an ecstasy of delight will there be in heaven on this glorious feast!”

And what is it that incites the hearts of our brethren in heaven to such holy rejoicings? Ah, it is the remembrance of their victory–the victory which, while on earth, they gained over Satan, the world, and their own evil inclinations! They lived for heaven, fought for heaven, and gained heaven. Their joy, then, is a victor’s joy, the greatest and sincerest of all the delights which can be tasted by the heart of man.

To show that in truth, on this day, an unbounded joy reigns in heaven, we need but remind you of the description which the seer St. John, in the island of Patmos, gives us of the city of God. “And I heard them,” he says, “singing the canticle of Moses, the servant of God.” It was the re-echo of that canticle which the children of Israel entoned on the shores of the Red Sea after God had destroyed Pharaoh, with all his warriors.

By saying that the Blessed sang the canticle of Moses, St. John wants to represent to us the indescribable sweetness and grandeur of the canticle of Victory which the Blessed in heaven chant before the throne of the Almighty.

I want to explain today to you the meaning of this Canticle of Moses sung in Heaven.

O Mary, Queen of Saints, lead us to victory in our battle on earth, that we may entone once the joyful songs of Saints and Angels with thee in Heaven! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater glory of God!

The joy that fills the hearts of victorious warriors is proportioned not only to the number and power of the conquered, but also to the previous danger of defeat, to the misery and wretchedness that would have resulted from the enemy’s victory, and, finally, to the positive good following its overthrow.

Now, in the case of the victorious Israelites, all these motives of joy were united in a higher degree than in any earthly victors before them; and yet the joyful songs of Israel can not even be compared with the heavenly hymns in which Saints and Angels give honor and praise and thanks to God for their good fight and their glorious victory.

In the first place, the mighty number and dreadful power of the conquered enemy, as well as the victor’s narrow escape from defeat, increase and intensify the joy of a victorious army. How great, then, must have been the joy of the Israelites!

It was a dark night; the Egyptians had urged the Israelites to leave in haste. The latter had hurried away without even thinking of war and battle. Suddenly they see an approaching cloud of dust. Pharaoh, with his mighty army–horse, foot, and chariot–is at their heels. The Israelites have no arms; the cries of their wives and children urge them to try their utmost to seek safety in flight. But even this is in vain, for before them they see nothing but an immense expanse of water.

But now Moses says to the people: “Fear not; stand and see the great wonders of the Lord which He will do this day; for the Egyptians whom you see now, you shall see no more forever.”

He then stretches out his hand–the waters of the Red Sea are divided, a warm wind dries the bottom, and the Israelites pass through, followed by Pharaoh with hundreds of thousands of armed warriors. But the eye of the Lord watches and looks down on them from above. The horses of the Egyptians are frightened, the wheels fall from the chariots, the waters sweep down in floods over the heads of the sons of Egypt, and, to a man, they are swallowed up in the depths of the sea.

At dawn the bodies of the drowned Egyptians float on the waters, and Israel, with its six hundred thousand men and many hundred thousand women, raises its voice and sings before the Lord a song of thanks and praise.

But, however great the praises and thanks of a nation saved from immediate destruction may have been, they are like sounding brass when compared with the hymns of victory which the Saints entone in the house of their heavenly Father. For each and every saved soul has had to fight against all the powers of hell, against numberless fallen angels and their associates, the world and the flesh. But now all enemies are crushed, and peace reigns eternally.

Besides, we must consider the great dangers that threatened the Saints while alive. “Sister,” said a blessed soul, in an apparition, to a friend of hers–“Sister, I am saved. But it is only now that I understand the dangers of life. At times, in certain temptations and occasions of sin, I had hair-breadth escapes from hell. If the Lord in His endless mercy had not stretched out His saving hand to me then, I should now be buried in the eternal flames. But now, no more enemies, no more dangers; my soul sings eternal praises to the Lord.”

From Pharaoh and the Egyptians, indeed, the children of Israel had nothing more to fear. But were they equally sure that no other hostile powers would oppose their way to the land of promise?

No care of this sort overshadows the happiness of the Saints. All is secure for them, and they are free forever from dangers and enemies.

The joy of victory increases if the victory sets the victors free from the miseries and wretchedness of a painful life. Think of a people of slaves that fights for liberty from tyranny and despotism, and you have a picture of the situation of the Israelites. Up to that time they had served as slaves in labor and hardship, and what would not have been their lot had they been brought back to Egypt not merely as slaves, but also as enemies and prisoners of war!

Victory dispelled all these anxieties. “The Lord is a warrior. Almighty is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He hath cast into the sea; his chosen captains are drowned in the Red Sea. Who is like to Thee among the strong, O Lord? who is like to Thee, glorious in holiness, terrible and praiseworthy, doing wonders?”

Joyous though this canticle of Israel be, it can not compare with the strains of the Blessed: “The former things are passed away; God has wiped away all tears from the eyes of His servants; and death is now no more, nor mourning, nor weeping, nor sorrow is any more.”

The bonds of Egypt indeed have been broken, but new troubles, new anxieties arise for the children of Israel. They have before them a long journey through the desert; and even when this journey is happily completed, they will live only in another part of the same earth that has been cursed by its own Maker: “Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” The Saints, on the contrary, have entered a land where there is not a shadow of pain nor any fear of hardship.

Another source of joy in victory is the positive good we have gained. What is not our joy when we acquire some temporal good, new possessions, fresh honors, or influence over new nations! Such was the joy of the Israelites. Freed from the bonds of Egypt, they were to enter the land of promise, the land flowing with milk and honey. But however rich Chanaan may have been, it still was, like the rest of the earth, a valley of tears. Its mightiest king, while enjoying more riches, honors, and pleasures than any mortal before or after, cried out from the depths of his burdened heart: “Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.”

How different are the joys of the Blessed in Heaven! They enjoy riches and pleasures of which the Apostle says: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive what things God hath prepared for them that love him.” Heaven is the Society of Saints and Angels, of Jesus and Mary. God Himself says: “At the fountain of waters I will give them drink, and I will be their God, and they shall be My sons.”

Heaven, then, is God Himself. The Saints see God face to face, they possess God, they become like unto God in the light of glory, and in peace and love they remain glorified with God forever. How can we, then, suppose this joy to be equaled by the joy of the children of Israel? For even supposing the Israelites should have found a perfect earthly happiness in their promised land, they still had the graves of Adam and Eve and of all the Patriarchs, reminding them that soon they, too, should rest in the grave and molder into the dust from which they had been framed. But the bliss of the Saints lasts eternally, and their joyful Alleluias resound forever.

And even considering their respective numbers, the joys and songs of the Israelites remain far behind the jubilation of the Saints. The Israelites amounted to six hundred thousand men, with a number of women and children in proportion. The number of the Blessed is indicated by St. John: “After this I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne, and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, Who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb.”

And, besides all this, if we consider the immense joys of the Blessed, that result from the continual increase of their number by the arrival of souls from the Church suffering, who does not feel the intense struggling for utterance!

Oh, that I, too, were among the number of the Blessed! that I were at least certain of my eternal happiness! But we are certain of our eternal salvation if we only follow the example of the Saints; if we avoid sin; if we are faithful in our daily duties. On these conditions we too, even, perhaps before the next Feast of All Saints, shall unite our voices with those of the Blessed; we too, crowned by our Lord Jesus Christ, shall triumph among the bands of the Saints and Angels.

The Israelites went forth out of Egypt. They killed a Paschal lamb, with the blood of which they signed their doors; they stood and ate hastily, with shoes on their feet and staves in their hands. On their journey they followed a cloud of fire, and were nourished with manna.

Now, each of these circumstances is symbolical. If we wish to attain the joys of Heaven we must wash ourselves in the blood of the Lamb; we must leave the fleshpots of Egypt–that is, the world, with its pleasures; we must stand upright–that is, our hearts must be free from earthly desires; we must gird ourselves with the spirit of self-denial. Continual thought of approaching Eternity must be the staff to guard us through life. The light of faith is our cloud of fire. Occasions and temptations to sin must be passed through by us as the Red Sea was by the Israelites. On our way through life we must nourish ourselves not with earthly manna, indeed, but with the heavenly–I mean the Eucharist.

Let us be ready; we are warned, and soon we shall take part in the triumph of All Saints, singing with them the canticle of Moses amid the Alleluias of all heavenly hosts. Amen!

Source: Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

† A Prayer or Blessing against Storms †

23 October 2015

Editor’s Note: With storms in our forecasts often causing loss of life, injury and loss of home and property, we thought we would feature this post previously published.

While praying this prayer, note that the Crosses featured in the prayer are a direction to bless oneself with the Sign of the Cross wherever indicated. Our Always Catholic Prayer Warriors which include Religious as well as our staff here, praying for our readers intentions.

Jesus Christ The King of Glory has come in Peace. † God became man, † and the Word was made flesh. † Christ was born of a Virgin. † Christ suffered. † Christ was crucified. † Christ died. † Christ rose from the dead. † Christ ascended into Heaven. † Christ conquers. † Christ reigns. † Christ orders. † May Christ protect us from all storms and lightning † Christ went through their midst in Peace, † and the word was made flesh. † Christ is with us with Mary. † Flee you enemy spirits because the Lion of the Generation of Judah, the Root David, has won. † Holy God! † Holy Powerful God! † Holy Immortal God! † Have mercy on us. Amen!

St Teresa of Avila’s Combat with Satan and Encounter with Hell

15 October 2015

St Teresa of Avila

Exerpts from “The life of St. Teresa of Jesus

of the order of Our Lady of Carmel”, 1916
by Saint Teresa of Avila, Reverend Benedict Zimmerman O. C. D.

Divine Locutions. Discussions on that Subject

. . . . . I look upon it as a most certain truth, that the devil will never deceive, and that God will not suffer him to deceive, the soul which has no confidence whatever in itself; which is strong in faith, and resolved to undergo a thousand deaths for any one article of the creed; which in its love of the faith, infused of God once for all,–a faith living and strong,–always labors, seeking for further light on this side and on that, to mold itself on the teaching of the Church, as one already deeply grounded in the truth. No imaginable revelations, not even if it saw the heavens open, could make that soul swerve in any degree from the doctrine of the Church.

If, however, it should at any time find itself wavering even in thought on this point, or stopping to say to itself, If God says this to me, it may be true, as well as what He said to the Saints–the soul must not be sure of it. I do not mean that it so believes, only that Satan has taken the first step towards tempting it; and the giving way to the first movements of a thought like this is evidently most wrong. I believe, however, that these first movements will not take place if the soul is so strong in the matter–as that soul is to whom our Lord sends these graces–that it seems as if it could crush the evil spirits in defense of the very least of the truths which the Church holds.

If the soul does not discern this great strength in itself, and if the particular devotion or vision help it not onwards, then it must not look upon it as safe. For though at first the soul is conscious of no harm, great harm may by degrees ensue; because so far as I can see, and by experience understand, that which purports to come from God is received only in so far as it corresponds with the sacred writings; but if it varies therefrom ever so little, I am incomparably more convinced that it comes from Satan than I am now convinced it comes from God, however deep that conviction may be.

In this case, there is no need to ask for signs, nor from what spirit it proceeds, because this varying is so clear a sign of the devil’s presence, that if all the world were to assure me that it came from God, I would not believe it. The fact is, that all good seems to be lost out of sight, and to have fled from the soul, when the devil has spoken to it; the soul is thrown into a state of disgust, and is troubled, able to do no good thing whatever–for if it conceives good desires, they are not strong; its humility is fictitious, disturbed, and without sweetness. Any one who has ever tasted of the Spirit of God will, I think, understand it. Nevertheless, Satan has many devices; and so there is nothing more certain than that it is safer to be afraid, and always on our guard, under a learned director, from whom nothing is concealed.


St. Teresa speaks of some exterior temptations and apparitions of Satan,
and how he ill-treated her.

Now that I have described certain temptations and troubles, interior and secret, of which Satan was the cause, I will speak of others which he wrought almost in public, and in which his presence could not be ignored (2 Cor ii. II).

I was once in an oratory, when Satan, in an abominable shape, appeared on my left hand. I looked at his mouth in particular, because he spoke, and it was horrible. A huge flame seemed to issue out of his body, perfectly bright, without any shadow. He spoke in a fearful way, and said to me that, though I had escaped out of his hands, he would yet lay hold of me again. I was in great terror, made the sign of the cross as well as I could, and then the form vanished–but it reappeared instantly. This occurred twice. I did not know what to do; there was some holy water at hand; I took some, and threw it in the direction of the figure, and then Satan never returned.

On another occasion I was tortured for five hours with such terrible pains, such inward and outward sufferings, that it seemed to me as if I could not bear them. Those who were with me were frightened; they knew not what to do, and I could not help myself. I am in the habit, when these pains and my bodily suffering are most unendurable, to make interior acts as well as I can, imploring our Lord, if it be His will, to give me patience, and then to let me suffer on, even to the end of the world. So, when I found myself suffering so cruelly, I relieved myself by making those acts and resolutions, in order that I might be able to endure the pain. It pleased our Lord to let me understand that it was the work of Satan; for I saw close beside me a most frightful little negro, gnashing his teeth in despair at losing what he attempted to seize. When I saw him, I laughed, and had no fear; for there were some then present who were helpless, and knew of no means whereby so great a pain could be relieved. My body, head, and arms were violently shaken; I could not help myself: but the worst of all was the interior pain, for I could find no ease in any way. Nor did I dare to ask for holy water, lest those who were with me should be afraid, and find out what the matter really was.

I know by frequent experience that there is nothing which puts the devils to flight like holy water. They run away before the sign of the cross also, but they return immediately: great, then, must be the power of holy water. As for me, my soul is conscious of a special and most distinct consolation whenever I take it. Indeed, I feel almost always a certain refreshing, which I cannot describe, together with an inward joy, which comforts my whole soul. This is no fancy, nor a thing which has occurred once only; for it has happened very often, and I have watched it very carefully. I may compare what I feel with that which happens to a person in great heat, and very thirsty, drinking a cup of cold water–his whole being is refreshed. I consider that everything ordained by the Church is very important; and I have a joy in reflecting that the words of the Church are so mighty, that they endow water with power, so that there shall be so great a difference between holy water and water that has never been blessed. Then, as my pains did not cease, I told them, if they would not laugh, I would ask for some holy water. They brought me some, and sprinkled me with it; but I was no better. I then threw some myself in the direction of the negro, when he fled in a moment. All my sufferings ceased, just as if some one had taken them from me with his hand; only I was wearied, as if I had been beaten with many blows. It was of great service to me to learn that if, by our Lord’s permission, Satan can do so much evil to a soul and body not in his power, he can do much more when he has them in his possession. It gave me a renewed desire to be delivered from a fellowship so dangerous.

Another time, and not long ago, the same thing happened to me, though it did not last so long, and I was alone at the moment. I asked for holy water; and they who came in after the devil had gone away,–they were two nuns, worthy of all credit, and would not tell a lie for anything,–perceived a most offensive smell, like that of brimstone. I smelt nothing myself; but the odour lasted long enough to become sensible to them.

On another occasion I was in choir when, in a moment, I became profoundly recollected. I went out in order that the sisters might know nothing of it; yet those who were near heard the sound of heavy blows where I was, and I heard voices myself, as of persons in consultation, but I did not hear what they said: I was so absorbed in prayer that I understood nothing, neither was I at all afraid. This took place almost always when our Lord was pleased that some soul or other, persuaded by me, advanced in the spiritual life. Certainly, what I am now about to describe happened to me once; there are witnesses to testify to it, particularly my present confessor (Either Fr. Dominic Banez or Fr. Garcia de Toledo), for he saw the account in a letter. I did not tell him from whom the letter came, but he knew perfectly who the person was.

There came to me a person who, for two years and a half, had been living in mortal sin of the most abominable nature I ever heard. During the whole of that time he neither confessed it nor ceased from it; and yet he said Mass. He confessed his other sins; but of this one he used to say, How can I confess so foul a sin? He wished to give it up, but he could not prevail on himself to do so. I was very sorry for him, and it was a great grief to me to see God offended in such a way. I promised him that I would pray to God for his amendment, and get others who were better than I to do the same. I wrote to one person, and the priest undertook to get the letter delivered. It came to pass that he made a full confession at the first opportunity; for our Lord was pleased, on account of the prayers of those most holy persons to whom I had recommended him, to have pity on this soul. I, too, wretched as I am, did all I could for the same end.

He wrote to me, and said that he was so far improved that he had not for some days repeated his sin; but he was so tormented by the temptation that it seemed to him as if he were in hell already, so great were his sufferings. He asked me to pray to God for him. I recommended him to my sisters, through whose prayers I must have obtained this mercy from our Lord; for they took the matter greatly to heart; and he was a person whom no one could find out. I implored His Majesty to put an end to these torments and temptations, and to let the evil spirits torment me instead, provided I did not offend our Lord. Thus it was that for one month I was most grievously tormented; and then it was that these two assaults of Satan, of which I have just spoken, took place.

Our Lord was pleased to deliver him out of this temptation, so I was informed; for I told him what happened to myself that month. His soul gained strength, and he continued free; he could never give thanks enough to our Lord and to me as if I had been of any service–unless it be that the belief he had that our Lord granted me such graces was of some advantage to him. He said that, when he saw himself in great straits, he would read my letters, and then the temptation left him. He was very much astonished at my sufferings, and at the manner of his own deliverance: even I myself am astonished, and I would suffer as much for many years for the deliverance of that soul. May our Lord be praised for ever! for the prayers of those who serve Him can do great things; and I believe the sisters of this house do serve Him. The devils must have been more angry with me only because I asked them to pray, and because our Lord permitted it on account of my sins. At that time, too, I thought the evil spirits would have suffocated me one night, and when the sisters threw much holy water about I saw a great troop of them rush away as if tumbling over a precipice. These cursed spirits have tormented me so often, and I am now so little afraid of them,–because I see they cannot stir without our Lord’s permission,–that I should weary both you, my father, and myself, if I were to speak of these things in detail.

May this I have written be of use to the true servant of God, who ought to despise these terrors, which Satan sends only to make him afraid! Let him understand that each time we despise these terrors, their force is lessened, and the soul gains power over them. There is always some great good obtained; but I will not speak of it, that I may not be too diffuse. I will speak, however, of what happened to me once on the night of All Souls. I was in an oratory, and, having said one Nocturn, was saying some very devotional prayers at the end of our Breviary, when Satan put himself on the book before me, to prevent my finishing my prayer. I made the sign of the cross, and he went away. I then returned to my prayer, and he, too, came back; he did so, I believe, three times, and I was not able to finish the prayer without throwing holy water at him. I saw certain souls at that moment come forth out of purgatory–they must have been near their deliverance, and I thought that Satan might in this way have been trying to hinder their release. It is very rarely that I saw Satan assume a bodily form; I know of his presence through the vision I have spoken of before, the vision wherein no form is seen.

I wish also to relate what follows, for I was greatly alarmed at it: on Trinity Sunday, in the choir of a certain monastery, and in a trance, I saw a great fight between evil spirits and the angels. I could not make out what the vision meant. In less than a fortnight it was explained clearly enough by the dispute that took place between persons given to prayer and many who were not, which did great harm to that house; for it was a dispute that lasted long and caused much trouble. On another occasion I saw a great multitude of evil spirits round about me, and, at the same time, a great light, in which I was enveloped, which kept them from coming near me. I understood it to mean that God was watching over me, that they might not approach me so as to make me offend Him. I knew the vision was real by what I saw occasionally in myself. The fact is, I know now how little power the evil spirits have, provided I am not out of the grace of God; I have scarcely any fear of them at all, for their strength is as nothing, if they do not find the souls they assail give up the contest and become cowards; it is in this case that they show their power.


Our Lord shows St. Teresa the place which she had by her sins deserved in hell. The Torments there. She narrates how it pleased God to put her in spirit in that place of hell she had deserved by her sins. She tells a little compared with what there was besides of what she saw there.

Some considerable time after our Lord had bestowed upon me the graces I have been describing, and others also of a higher nature, I was one day in prayer when I found myself in a moment, without knowing how, plunged apparently into hell. I understood that it was our Lord’s will I should see the place which the devils kept in readiness for me, and which I had deserved by my sins (1). It was but a moment, but it seems to me impossible I should ever forget it, even if I were to live many years.

The entrance seemed to be by a long narrow pass, like a furnace, very low, dark, and close. The ground seemed to be saturated with water, mere mud, exceedingly foul, sending forth pestilential odors, and covered with loathsome vermin. At the end was a hollow place in the wall, like a closet, and in that I saw myself confined. All this was even pleasant to behold in comparison with what I felt there. There is no exaggeration in what I am saying.

St. Teresa of Avila Book 01

But as to what I then felt, I do not know where to begin, if I were to describe it; it is utterly inexplicable. I felt a fire in my soul. I cannot see how it is possible to describe it. My bodily sufferings were unendurable. I have undergone most painful sufferings in this life, and, as the physicians say, the greatest that can be borne, such as the contraction of my sinews when I was paralyzed, without speaking of others of different kinds, yea, even those of which I have also spoken, inflicted on me by Satan; yet all these were as nothing in comparison with what I felt then, especially when I saw that there would be no intermission, nor any end to them.

These sufferings were nothing in comparison with the anguish of my soul, a sense of oppression, of stifling, and of pain so keen, accompanied by so hopeless and cruel an infliction, that I know not how to speak of it. If I said that the soul is continually being torn from the body it would be nothing,–for that implies the destruction of life by the hands of another; but here it is the soul itself that is tearing itself in pieces. I cannot describe that inward fire or that despair, surpassing all torments and all pain. I did not see who it was that tormented me, but I felt myself on fire, and torn to pieces, as it seemed to me; and, I repeat it, this inward fire and despair are the greatest torments of all.

Left in that pestilential place, and utterly without the power to hope for comfort, I could neither sit nor lie down: there was no room. I was placed as it were in a hole in the wall; and those walls, terrible to look on of themselves, hemmed me in on every side. I could not breathe. There was no light, but all was thick darkness. I do not understand how it is; though there was no light, yet everything that can give pain by being seen was visible.

Our Lord at that time would not let me see more of hell. Afterwards I had another most fearful vision, in which I saw the punishment of certain sins. They were most horrible to look at; but, because I felt none of the pain, my terror was not so great. In the former vision our Lord made me really feel those torments, and that anguish of spirit, just as if I had been suffering them in the body there. I know not how it was, but I understood distinctly that it was a great mercy that our Lord would have me see with mine own eyes the very place from which His compassion saved me. I have listened to people speaking of these things, and I have at other times dwelt on the various torments of hell, though not often, because my soul made no progress by the way of fear; and I have read of the diverse tortures, and how the devils tear the flesh with red-hot pincers. But all is as nothing before this; it is a wholly different matter. In short, the one is a reality, the other a picture; and all burning here in this life is as nothing in comparison with the fire that is there.

I was so terrified by that vision,–and that terror is on me even now while I am writing,–that though it took place nearly six years ago, the natural warmth of my body is chilled by fear even now when I think of it. And so, amid all the pain and suffering which I may have had to bear, I remember no time in which I do not think that all we have to suffer in this world is as nothing. It seems to me that we complain without reason. I repeat it, this vision was one of the grandest mercies of our Lord. It has been to me of the greatest service, because it has destroyed my fear of trouble and of the contradiction of the world, and because it has made me strong enough to bear up against them, and to give thanks to our Lord, who has been my Deliverer, as it now seems to me, from such fearful and everlasting pains.

Ever since that time, as I was saying, everything seems endurable in comparison with one instant of suffering such as those I had then to bear in hell. I am filled with fear when I see that, after frequently reading books which describe in some manner the pains of hell, I was not afraid of them, nor made any account of them. Where was I? How could I possibly take any pleasure in those things which led me directly to so dreadful a place? Blessed for ever be Thou, O my God! and, oh, how manifest is it that Thou didst love me much more than I did love Thee! How often, O Lord, didst Thou save me from that fearful prison! and how I used to get back to it contrary to Thy will.

It was that vision that filled me with the very great distress which I feel at the sight of so many lost souls, especially of the Lutherans,–for they were once members of the Church by baptism,–and also gave me the most vehement desires for the salvation of souls; for certainly I believe that, to save even one from those overwhelming torments, I would most willingly endure many deaths. If here on earth we see one whom we specially love in great trouble or pain, our very nature seems to bid us compassionate him; and if those pains be great, we are troubled ourselves. What, then, must it be to see a soul in danger of pain, the most grievous of all pains, for ever? Who can endure it? It is a thought no heart can bear without great anguish. Here we know that pain ends with life at last, and that there are limits to it; yet the sight of it moves our compassion so greatly. That other pain has no ending; and I know not how we can be calm, when we see Satan carry so many souls daily away.

This also makes me wish that, in a matter which concerns us so much, we did not rest satisfied with doing less than we can do on our part,–that we left nothing undone. May our Lord vouchsafe to give us His grace for that end! When I consider that, notwithstanding my very great wickedness, I took some pains to please God, and abstained from certain things which I know the world makes light of,–that, in short, I suffered grievous infirmities, and with great patience, which our Lord gave me; that I was not inclined to murmur or to speak ill of anybody; that I could not–I believe so–wish harm to any one; that I was not, to the best of my recollection, either avaricious or envious, so as to be grievously offensive in the sight of God; and that I was free from many other faults,–for, though so wicked, I had lived constantly in the fear of God,–I had to look at the very place which the devils kept ready for me. It is true that, considering my faults, I had deserved a still heavier chastisement; but for all that, I repeat it, the torment was fearful, and we run a great risk whenever we please ourselves. No soul should take either rest or pleasure that is liable to fall every moment into mortal sin. Let us, then, for the love of God, avoid all occasions of sin, and our Lord will help us, as He has helped me. May it please His Majesty never to let me out of His hands, lest I should turn back and fall, now that I have seen the place where I must dwell if I do. I entreat our Lord, for His Majesty’s sake, never to permit it. Amen.

When I had seen this vision, and had learned other great and hidden things which our Lord, of His goodness, was pleased to show me,–namely, the joy of the blessed and the torment of the wicked,–I longed for the way and the means of doing penance for the great evil I had done, and of meriting in some degree, so that I might gain so great a good; and therefore I wished to avoid all society, and to withdraw myself utterly from the world. I was in spirit restless, yet my restlessness was not harassing, but rather pleasant. I saw clearly that it was the work of God, and that His Majesty had furnished my soul with fervor, so that I might be able to digest other and stronger food than I had been accustomed to eat. I tried to think what I could do for God, and thought that the first thing was to follow my vocation to a religious life, which His Majesty had given me, by keeping my rule in the greatest perfection possible.

(1) Way of Perfection, ch. xiii. 2.–As Ribera remarks, it does not follow from this passage that St. Teresa had ever committed a mortal sin–and thereby deserved hell–as there is abundant evidence even from her own words that she never had such a misfortune, but only that she would have fallen into grievous sins if she had not mended her life.

Source: Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

Holy Mother Foundress-Saint Teresa of Avila, Carmelite Reformer

15 October 2015

Today is one of the happiest Feast Days in Carmelite convents all over the world. Our Holy Mother “Foundress” Saint Teresa of Avila’s Feast Day is on the Roman Calendar on October15th. Interestingly enough Pope John Paul II anniversary of his papacy is the same day. Why interesting? Most do not know that John Paul wanted to become a Carmelite and was turned down twice because the Bishop of Krakow wanted him to be a Diocesan priest.

John Paul throughout his Papacy showed much affection towards the Carmelites. In fact, the day I saw him in Baltimore with the Carmelite Sisters I was with attending his parade, we were treated to a surprise. We were in habit and were holding signs in Italian saying: “The Carmelites love JP II !” He looked at us & responded in Italian as the Popemobile came to a dead stop. The priest he was with rolled down the window and he shouted out the window, “And John Paul loves the Carmelites too!” in Italian of course!!

St. Teresa of Avila Feast Day

St. Teresa (1515-1582) was born in Avila and died in Alba, Spain. When only a child of seven, she ran away from home in the hope of being martyred by the Moors; in this way, she said she could come to see God. At the age of eighteen she joined the Carmelite Order and chose Christ as her heavenly Spouse. With the help of St. John of the Cross she reformed most of the Carmelite convents and founded new ones. She reached the highest degree of prayer and through prayer obtained such knowledge of divine things that in 1970 Pope Paul VI named her the first woman Doctor of the Church.

Also well known as St. Teresa of Jesus and honored by the Church as the “seraphic virgin,” virgo seraphica, and reformer of the Carmelite Order, ranks first among women for wisdom and learning. She is called doctrix mystica, doctor of mystical theology; in a report to Pope Paul V the Roman Rota declared: “Teresa has been given to the Church by God as a teacher of the spiritual life. The mysteries of the inner mystical life which the holy Fathers propounded unsystematically and without orderly sequence, she has presented with unparalleled clarity.” Her writings are still the classic works on mysticism, and from her all later teachers have drawn, e.g., Francis de Sales, Alphonsus Liguori. Characteristic of her mysticism is the subjective-individualistic approach; there is little integration with the liturgy and social piety, and thus she reflects the spirit of the sixteenth and following centuries.
Teresa was born at Avila, Spain, in the year 1515. At the age of seven she set out for Africa to die for Christ, but was brought back by her uncle. When she lost her mother at twelve, she implored Mary for her maternal protection. In 1533 she entered the Carmelite Order; for eighteen years she suffered physical pain and spiritual dryness. Under divine inspiration and with the approval of Pope Pius IV, she began the work of reforming the Carmelite Order. In spite of heavy opposition and constant difficulties, she founded thirty-two reformed convents.

Read more at BattleBeadsBlog…

St. Francis of Assisi on Of the Value and Dignity of the Soul

4 October 2015

Although the modern world seems to only give St. Francis of Assisi the title of the Saint of the environment and animals, the whole truth is that this holy Saint should be known for so much more…

St. Francis of Assisi and the Devil 02

From the Works of the Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi

with comment by Brother Leo of Assisi 1882

Of the Value and Dignity of the Soul

St.-Francis-Sacro-Speco-at-SubiacoThe greatest care ought to be taken of the soul, for man has not many, but only one. If God had given us two souls, as He has given us two eyes, or two feet, then should one be lost or taken away, we might guard and save the other. But as we have received only one, very weak and languishing, assailed by three most powerful enemies, and exposed to the fiery darts of the world, the flesh, and the devil, it is not lawful for it to repose securely for one single day, but it must always be striving and fighting. The Apostle gives us to understand how continual this warfare must be, when he says: ‘Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers.’

In war, or in a battle, some time is granted to the soldiers to refresh their bodies, to lay aside their arms, to rest from their labours, and to recruit their strength; nor are they, during severe cold, compelled to rest at night exposed to the inclemency of the season, but are allowed to pass the winter in the city. But it is different with wrestlers; for then only can they be permitted to breathe, when one being overcome and thrown to the earth, the other goes away in triumph. The strife with our enemies can never cease, the time of fighting is the whole time of our life, the end of our life will be the beginning of rest; and only after death will the demonwrestler retire, after having endeavoured most strenuously to conquer us in death. Let us, therefore, most earnestly beseech Our Lord to protect us by His grace, and, in the midst of so many dangers, mercifully to defend us from our enemies. Nothing, alas! is more vile than the price for which we sell our precious souls. On the slightest occasion we cast it into hell, and for the smallest and most insignificant reward we deprive it of the inestimable treasure of Divine grace.


The Littlest Flower in Heaven… the greatest Saint of modern time!

3 October 2015

Therese Martin was the last of nine children born to Louis and Zelie Martin on January 2, 1873, in Alencon, France. However, only five of these children lived to reach adulthood. Precocious and sensitive, Therese needed much attention. Her mother died when she was 4 years old. As a result, her father and sisters babied young Therese. She had a spirit that wanted everything.

At the age of 14, on Christmas Eve in 1886, Therese had a conversion that transformed her life. From then on, her powerful energy and sensitive spirit were turned toward love, instead of keeping herself happy. At 15, she entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux to give her whole life to God. She took the religious name Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Living a hidden, simple life of prayer, she was gifted with great intimacy with God. Through sickness and dark nights of doubt and fear, she remained faithful to God, rooted in His merciful love. After a long struggle with tuberculosis, she died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24. Her last words were the story of her life: “My God, I love You!”

The world came to know Therese through her autobiography, “Story of a Soul”. She described her life as a “little way of spiritual childhood.” She lived each day with an unshakable confidence in God’s love. “What matters in life,” she wrote, “is not great deeds, but great love.” Therese lived and taught a spirituality of attending to everyone and everything well and with love. She believed that just as a child becomes enamored with what is before her, we should also have a childlike focus and totally attentive love. Therese’s spirituality is of doing the ordinary, with extraordinary love.

Therese saw the seasons as reflecting the seasons of God’s love affair with us. She loved flowers and saw herself as the “little flower of Jesus,” who gave glory to God by just being her beautiful little self among all the other flowers in God’s garden. Because of this beautiful analogy, the title “little flower” remained with St. Therese.

Her inspiration and powerful presence from heaven touched many people very quickly. She was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 17, 1925. Had she lived, she would have been only 52 years old when she was declared a Saint.
“My mission – to make God loved – will begin after my death,” she said. “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses.” Roses have been described and experienced as Saint Therese’s signature. Countless millions have been touched by her intercession and imitate her “little way.” She has been acclaimed “the greatest saint of modern times.” In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared St. Therese a Doctor of the Church – the only Doctor of his pontificate – in tribute to the powerful way her spirituality has influenced people all over the world.

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and her “Little Way” is a spirituality that the modern world can embrace and with it, find our way to Heaven. When we look at this young woman from a time long ago, we might doubt it, but take a moment, learn about her spirituality that allowed her to become a Doctor of the Church. I think you will be very surprised that she was indeed, “the greatest Saint of modern time”. (Pope Pius XII)

A letter to Heaven: My dearest Saint Therese….

1 October 2015

My dearest Saint Therese,

Happy Feast Day my sweet sister Therese! I know you are looking down from Heaven releasing a bucket of roses for us. Great thing about being a Trad Catholic is that I use the Traditional Calendar also, soooo….. I get to celebrate you today and on the third of October! TODAY AND SATURDAY I will be praying the Extraordinary Form Mass live online and the Masses will be all yours!

Thank you for allowing me to have you in my heart from age five. As you already know, my mom gave me a children’s book about you and your life and a statue for my nightstand that October to celebrate your Feast Day. It wasn’t until years later did I realize how special Feast Days are and how they are celebrated in Religious Life bigger and better than birthdays!

I want the world to still know and love you as they did shortly after your death when your “Story of a Soul” was published for the secular world to read. Oh, how the world took to you!!! You have stood the test of time, but now it’s time for kids to find out about you.

Those of us who have read and re-read “Story of a Soul” like a Jane Austen novel know the truth about you. The sanitized, sugary sweet life most people think you had we both know was not the case. There isn’t a 12-15 yr old out there particularly in America who wouldn’t identify with your struggles, particularly the emotional ones.

So, my darling Carmelite sister in Christ, it’s time to hawk your book again. I promise you, this is my task. You have always answered my pleas for help when I prayed to you. Now it’s my turn to say thank you.

I care for a sweet young lady who went through much troubles as a child. She reminds me of you so much. I read your story to her at a young age and she reads it again and again to this day. She became close to you and you never left her. Today she is a devout young Catholic of 21 who bears your name from Confirmation. Thank you for that also.

See, I owe you much. We all do. Your hardest times brought you your greatest holiness. This is the lesson and the legacy you have given us. Your “Little Way” to Heaven, so simple, yet so profound it brought you the title of Doctor of the Church. Well, know this: this Carmelite here prayed like crazy for that beautiful day when you joined Holy Mother Teresa of Avila as the SECOND Carmelite in that exclusive club. (also only the third woman)

Perhaps the most interesting thing about you though is that people of all faiths have a devotion and relationship with you. Imagine my surprise when attending a wake of a Methodist woman who had your holy card with her words thanking you on the back for staying with her during her suffering before she died. I came home with that card and still use it to mark a page in my breviary as it reminds me of your draw to ALL SOULS!

I know it’s because your vocation was to become “Love itself”… Well, you have succeeded. A job well done, sister!


With all my love and devotion,



Saint Therese is the patroness of AlwaysCatholicBlog along with Saint Joseph. We ask that you pray to each of them asking that we do God’s Will here at this little blog. God love you!

The “Story of A Soul” is available from Catholic publishers and of course, Amazon.Some Saint Therese “Eye Candy” Photos of our “Greatest Saint of Modern times”

For a complete bio, click here from Therese

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