Saints

A Valentine from Always Catholic…

14 February 2017

“My vocation is to become Love itself…” Saint Therese of Lisieux

…………………………………………………………………………………..

Saint Valentine Kneeling in supplication, a painting by David III Teniers.1638-1685

 At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under date of 14 February. One is described as a priest at Rome, another as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), and these two seem both to have suffered in the second half of the third century and to have been buried on the Flaminian Way, but at different distances from the city. In William of Malmesbury’s time what was known to the ancients as the Flaminian Gate of Rome and is now the Porta del Popolo, was called the Gate of St. Valentine. The name seems to have been taken from a small church dedicated to the saint which was in the immediate neighborhood. Of both these St. Valentines some sort of Acta are preserved but they are of relatively late date and of no historical value. Of the third Saint Valentine, who suffered in Africa with a number of companions, nothing further is known.

Saint Valentine’s Day

The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine’s Day undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally received in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair. Thus in Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules we read:

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.

For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers’ tokens. Both the French and English literatures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries contain allusions to the practice. Perhaps the earliest to be found is in the 34th and 35th Ballades of the bilingual poet, John Gower, written in French; but Lydgate and Clauvowe supply other examples. Those who chose each other under these circumstances seem to have been called by each other their Valentines. In the Paston Letters, Dame Elizabeth Brews writes thus about a match she hopes to make for her daughter (we modernize the spelling), addressing the favoured suitor:

And, cousin mine, upon Monday is Saint Valentine’s Day and every bird chooses himself a mate, and if it like you to come on Thursday night, and make provision that you may abide till then, I trust to God that ye shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may bring the matter to a conclusion.

Shortly after the young lady herself wrote a letter to the same man addressing it “Unto my rightwell beloved Valentine, John Paston Esquire”. The custom of choosing and sending valentines has of late years fallen into comparative desuetude.

APA citation. Thurston, H. (1912). St. Valentine. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved February 14, 2014 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15254a.htm
MLA citation. Thurston, Herbert. “St. Valentine.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 14 Feb. 2014 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15254a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Paul Knutsen.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

St Hyacinth, his Pierogi, and the Olympics?

17 August 2016

This post is for Jacek, a good and holy man who is one of God’s anointed. Happy Feast and Name Day Jacek! God love you as I do! Szczęśliwego święta i Imieniny Jacka! Bóg cię kocha!

One of my favourite and endearing Saints is Dominican Saint Hyacinth or in Polish “Jacek”. I have come to love this Saint recently even though I was quite aware of his existence from my Polish neighbors growing up in an Italian section of NJ with a small but fervent Polish community next door to the Italian section. I always admired the faith of my Polish neighbors as they stood hard and fast to Catholic Tradition in a new land where Catholicism is still looked on with suspicion and superstition. Sadly, the Catholic Faith is the last great acceptable discrimination in the USA.

You would never know my Polish neighbors felt discriminated against as the local butcher store proudly hangs the Stars and Stripes high with the flags of Poland and the Vatican right underneath. A resilient people, I believe they would really die before turning against their Faith. Perhaps my strong belief that if martyrdom were upon me I would embrace it as well.

I pray to St Hyacinth that as Catholics we are not afraid to preach the Truth, no matter what! Święty Hiacynt, módl się za nami.

…………………………………………………………………………

St. Hyacinth, 1185-1257, priest and religious
Patron saint of weight lifters and pierogi

Rev. Michael Burzynski

hyacinthSaint Hyacinth is another of our Polish saints with pseudonym seemingly unrelated to his baptismal name. He is also known as Jacek. His proper name “Hyacinth” seems to be related to the hyacinth flower or hyacinth stone. He was born near Wroclaw (Breslau) in Upper Silesia, Poland, around 1185. He was ordained and became a priest of the cathedral of Krakow. Although he was renowned at an early age for the simplicity of his life and his great intellectual gifts, he may have remained rather obscure if he had not been invited, along with several companions, to accompany his bishop, Ivo Knock, (who was also his uncle) to Rome in 1220.

In Rome, Hyacinth and his companions were attracted to the Order of Friars Preachers (commonly known as Dominicans) by the holiness and preaching of its founder, St. Dominic, who had worked a miracle
in their presence. At this time, St. Hyacinth was one of the first to receive the habit of the newly established Order from St. Dominic.

He and his companions, Blessed Chester, Herman, and Henry, because of their spirit for prayer and their zeal for the salvation of souls, were sent to preach and establish the Dominican Order in Poland. On the way they were able to establish several monasteries.

In Poland the new preachers were well received and their sermons were productive of much good. Hyacinth founded communities at Sandomir, Cracow, and at Plocko on the Vistula in Moravia. He extended his missionary work through Prussia, Pomerania, and
Lithuania; then crossing the Baltic Sea he preached in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. It was these apostolic travels that earned Hyacinth the title “The Apostle of the North.”

Tradition holds that he also evangelized throughout Scotland, Russia, Turkey, and Greece. However, these travels are not supported
by wider historical texts.

The life of Hyacinth is replete with legends. One of the major miracles attributed to Hyacinth came about from a Mogul attack
on Kiev. As the friars prepared to flee the invading forces, Hyacinth went to save the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle in the monastery chapel, when he heard the voice of Mary the Mother of God, asking him to take her, too. Hyacinth lifted the large, stone statue of Mary, as well as the ciborium. He was easily able to carry both, despite the fact that the statue weighed far more than he could normally lift. Thus he saved them both.

For this reason he is usually shown holding a constancy and a statute of Mary. This legend groups him with St. Christopher as the patron saint of weight-lifters. He is also a patron of those in fear of drowning.

Hyacinth died in the year 1257. He was canonized on April 17, 1594, by Pope Clement XVIII and his feast day is celebrated on Aug. 17. Hyacinth is a Polish saint with a wide international following. In Spanish-language countries, Hyacinth is known as San Jacinto which
is the name of numerous towns and locations in Spanish-speaking countries. He is also the patron saint of the Philippine city of Tuguegarao, where his feast day is celebrated with processions and folk dance contests.

St. Hyacinth is depicted in one of the windows of St. John Gualbert in Cheektowaga, and his relics are housed in its relic chapel. There is a Polish saying, “Swiety Jacek z pierogami!” (St. Hyacinth and his pierogi!) is an old expression of surprise, roughly equivalent to the American “good grief” or “holy smokes!” Pierogi may be the only Polish dish that seems to have its own patron saint.

Rev. Michael H. Burzynski, Ph.D. is pastor, Saint John Gualbert Church, Cheektowaga.


Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin: Their Holy Matrimony repudiates Manichean and Libertine “Catholics”

12 July 2016

by Barona at his Blog Toronto Catholic Witness
AD 12 July 2016 Feast of Sts. Zelie and Louis Martin

This post is dedicated to “Always Catholic” whose birthday Providentially falls on this Feast Day. She prayed a two year Novena to St. Therese of Lisieux for the canonization of her parents.

“an extraordinary witness of conjugal and family spirituality.”

Angelo Cardinal Amato

Zelie and Louis

Today is the Feast Day of Louis and Zellie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux. The Martin parents were not canonized for being the parents of a saint, but for being saints themselves. Having cleared this hurdle, we then need to expose and reduce to rubble the bold-faced lie that Louis and Zellie married to merely beget children for the Church. Manichean “Catholics” continue to promote this thesis, yet it is untenable after examining the facts and using a little common sense.

Continue by clicking Here

The Month of June: Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

3 June 2016

sacred heart pic

 

Paray-le-Monial and Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque


Photos taken by Elizabeth S Westhoff (@ESWesthoff on Twitter) at Paray-le-Monial during her trip to France. May 2015.

Reflection on the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Our Lord suffered so much, in order to show how much He loves us, and how greatly God is offended by sin. A single word of Christ would have fully sufficed to redeem us, but it was not enough to make manifest the love of God. It is because of the great love Christ displays towards us, that we venerate the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The heart is the centre of the physical life; from it the blood flows into every part of the body, maintaining its vitality. And since there is an intimate connection between body and soul, the heart is spoken of as the centre of the spiritual life, whence all the thoughts and feelings take their rise. Hence we say: “My heart rejoiced, my heart is grieved, etc.” The heart is regarded pre-eminently as the seat of love. When we venerate the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we call to mind His exceeding great love for us, and are stimulated to return love for love. God made use of a French nun at Paray-le-Monial, named Margaret Mary Alacoque, to propagate this devotion. Our Lord appeared to her repeatedly, showing her His Heart pierced by the lance, emitting flames of fire, surrounded by a crown of thorns–to signify the pain sinners cause to Our Saviour–and surmounted by a shining cross. Our Lord intimated His desire that pictures of this Heart should be exposed for veneration, and promised signal blessings to all who should practice this devotion. He also commanded the festival of the Sacred Heart to be kept on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi. This day is a most appropriate one, for it was on a Friday that Our Lord by His death gave the greatest possible proof of His love, and His Heart was pierced by the lance. Moreover the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar affords abundant testimony to the love of the Saviour, for as the sun’s rays are focussed in a lens, so the rays of the sun of divine love are concentrated in the Sacrament of the Altar. Hence the feast of Corpus Christi is a special memorial of the love of Christ for man. The devotion to the Sacred Heart, opposed at the outset, as are all works that are of God, spread rapidly over all the earth, and was attended by signal blessings.

______________________

Litany of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

O Sacred Heart, hear us.
Sacred Heart, graciously hear us.
For the forgetfulness and ingratitude of men,
We will console Thee, O Lord. *

For the way Thou art deserted in Thy Tabernacle, *
For the crimes of sinners, *
For the blasphemies uttered against Thee, *
For the sacrileges which profane Thy Sacrament of Love, *
For the coldness of the greater part of Thy children, *
For the abuse of Thy grace, *
For our own unfaithfulness, *
For the incomprehensible hardness of our hearts, *
For our long delay in loving Thee, *
For Thy bitter sadness at the loss of souls, *
For Thy long waiting at the door of our hearts, *
For Thy loving sighs, *
For Thy loving tears, *
For Thy loving imprisonment, *
For Thy loving death. *

Learn of Me:
Because I am meek and humble of heart.
O Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow for those who know Thee not,
Have mercy on me as Thou seest best. **

O Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow for those who do not believe in Thee, **
O Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow for those who are inconstant and ungrateful, **
O Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow during the whole course of Thy mortal life, **
O Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow in Thy agony and in Thy death, **
O Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow for those who neglect their eternal salvation, **
O Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow for those who offer the most Holy Sacrifice unworthily, **
Heart of Jesus, by Thy sorrow for the scarcity of those who love Thee fervently, **

Sweet Heart of Jesus:
Be not my Judge but my Saviour.

O Jesus, loveliest of all beauty, wash me more and more from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin, that, purified by Thee, I may approach to Thee, the pure One, and may be worthy to dwell in “Thy Heart all the days of my life, that I may both see and do Thy will. For this cause was Thy side pierced, that an entrance might be opened for us. Who is there who would not love this wounded Heart? Who would not return love for love to Him that hath loved so well? Amen.

O adorable Heart of Jesus, if men did but know Thee: How they would love Thee!

____________________________

Litany of the Twelve Promises

Heart of Jesus; burning with love for us:
R. Inflame our hearts with love of Thee.

O Heart of Jesus, behold us prostrate before Thee, to adore Thee, to praise Thee, to thank Thee, to make reparation for our past faults, and to consecrate ourselves to Thy love.

Bearing in mind Thy magnificent Promises to those who honor and love Thy Sacred Heart, we say to Thee with the utmost confidence:

Heart of Jesus, give us all the graces necessary for our state in life. Thou hast promised it, O Jesus. *

Heart of Jesus, grant peace to our families. *
Heart of Jesus, console us in all our sorrows. *
Heart of Jesus, be our safe Refuge during life, and above all at the hour of our death. *
Heart of Jesus, pour abundant blessings on all our labors. *
Heart of Jesus, be for sinners the Source and Infinite Ocean of Mercy. *
Heart of Jesus, make indifferent souls fervent. *
Heart of Jesus, make fervent souls advance rapidly to perfection. *
Heart of Jesus, bless the houses where Thine image is exposed and honored. *
Heart of Jesus, give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts. *
Heart of Jesus, engrave on Thy Heart forever the names of those who propagate this devotion. *
Heart of Jesus, give those who receive Holy Communion nine consecutive First Fridays, the grace of final repentance, that they may not die under Thy displeasure, but, strengthened by the reception of the Sacraments, may Thy Heart be their secure refuge at their last hour. *

O sweetest Heart of Jesus, I implore:
R. That I may ever love Thee more and more.

Lord Jesus, remember the promises which, in the infinite mercy of Thy Divine Heart, Thou didst make to Saint Margaret Mary. Be the Protector of our life, the Strength of our weakness, the Repairer of our faults, the Completion of our virtues, our Refuge at the hour of death. Amen.

O God, Who hast prepared for those who love Thee such good things as pass man’s understanding: pour into our hearts such love toward Thee, that, loving Thee in and above all things, we may obtain Thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

____________________________

Memorare to the Sacred Heart

Remember, O most sweet Jesus, that no one who has had recourse to Thy Sacred Heart, implored its help, or sought its mercy was ever abandoned. Encouraged with confidence, O tenderest of hearts, we present ourselves before Thee, crushed beneath the weight of our sins. In our misery, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, despise not our simple prayers, but mercifully grant our requests.

(Indulgence 7 years)

____________________________

Offering to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

My loving Jesus, I (N. N.) give Thee my heart; and I consecrate myself wholly to Thee out of the grateful love I bear Thee, and as a reparation for all my unfaithfulness to grace; and with Thine aid I purpose never to sin again.

( Indulgence of 100 Days, once a day, to all who shall make this offering with contrite hearts–1807)

____________________________

Prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the ” Pater Noster,” etc.

(Indulgence of 300 Days, granted previously, once a day, to all the faithful who shall say with devotion the following prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with three Pater noster, three Ave Maria, and three Gloria Patri–Pope Pius VII, 1808)

The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt amongst us.

Eternal Word, made Man for love of us, humbly prostrate at Thy feet we adore Thee with our soul’s deepest veneration; and to repair our ingratitude towards this great boon of Thy Incarnation, we join our poor hearts with the hearts of all who love Thee, offering Thee with them our humble prayer of thanksgiving and praise. Pierced with the thought of the exceeding great humility, goodness, and tenderness which we behold in Thy Divine Heart, we pray Thee of Thy grace, give grace, that in our lives we too may be Thy followers in the practice of these virtues to Thee so dear.

Pater noster. Ave Maria. Gloria Patri.

He was crucified also for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried.

Jesu, loving Saviour, humbly prostrate at Thy feet we adore Thee with our soul’s deepest veneration, and to give Thee proof of our real sorrow for our hardness of heart towards Thee, in all those outrages and woes which Thy loving Heart made Thee suffer for our salvation in Thy sad Passion and most bitter Death, we here unite ourselves with the hearts of all who love Thee, and with them we give Thee thanks with our whole soul. We marvel at the boundless patience and the generosity of Thy Sacred Heart; and we pray Thee fill our poor hearts with the spirit of true Christian penance, that thereby we may courageously embrace all suffering, and make Thy cross our greatest comfort and our glory.

Pater noster. Ave Maria. Gloria Patri.

Thou didst give them bread from heaven to eat, In whose taste was every heavenly sweetness.

Jesu, burning with love for us, humbly prostrate at Thy feet we adore Thee with our soul’s deepest veneration; and in reparation for the outrages which Thy Sacred Heart daily receives in the most holy Sacrament of the altar, we unite ourselves with the hearts of all those who love Thee, and give Thee tenderest thanks. We love too, in that Sacred Heart of Thine, the incomprehensible fire of Thy love of Thy Eternal Father; and we pray Thee inflame our poor hearts with burning charity towards Thee and towards our neighbours.

Pater noster. Ave Maria. Gloria Patri.

Lastly, most loving Jesu, we pray Thee, by the sweetness of Thy Sacred Heart, convert the sinner, console the sufferer, help the dying, succour the souls in purgatory. Make our hearts one with Thine in the bonds of true peace and charity, deliver us from death sudden and unforeseen, and grant us death holy and peaceful. Amen.

V. Heart of Jesus, burning with the love of us,
R. Set our hearts on fire with love of Thee.

Let us pray:

Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we who glory in the Most Sacred Heart of Thy well-beloved Son, and renew in our minds the remembrance of the great benefits of His heavenly charity towards us, may feel the delight of those same benefits by their operation and fruit within our souls. Through the same Christ our Lord.

Sacred Heart of my Jesus! I adore Thee with the three powers of my soul; I consecrate to Thee my thoughts, my words, my works, myself. I purpose to give Thee like acts of adoration, love, and glory, to those Thou givest Thine Eternal Father. Be Thou, I beseech Thee, the reparation of my transgressions, the protection of my life, my refuge and asylum in the hour of my death. By Thy sighs, and by that sea of bitterness in which Thou wast drowned for me throughout Thy whole mortal life, grant me, O grant me true contrition for my sins, contempt of earthly things, burning desire of eternal glory, trust in Thy boundless merits, final perseverance in Thy grace.

Heart of Jesus, all love! I offer Thee these humble prayers for myself and for all who unite with me in spirit to adore Thee; vouchsafe of Thy great goodness to hear and answer them, chiefly for that one of us who first shall close this mortal life. Sweet Heart of Jesus, pour into his heart in his death-agony Thine inward consolations; take him within Thy sacred wounds; cleanse him from all stains in that Furnace of Love, that so Thou mayest soon open to him the gate of Thine eternal glory, there to intercede with Thee for all those who tarry yet in this their land of exile.

Holiest Heart of my most loving Jesu! I purpose to renew and offer Thee these acts of adoration and these prayers for myself the wretched sinner, and for all who are associated with me in adoration of Thee, every moment that I live, down to the last moment of my life. I recommend to Thee, my Jesus, the Holy Church, Thy well-beloved Spouse, my own true Mother, the souls who are satisfying Thy justice, the sinner, the sorrowful, the dying, all men on the whole face of the earth: let not Thy Blood be shed in vain for them; and vouchsafe lastly to apply it to the relief of the souls in purgatory, and above all to those who in life were wont devoutly to adore Thee.

Most loving heart of Mary, who amongst the hearts of all God’s creatures art at once purest, most inflamed with love for Jesus, and most pitiful towards us poor sinners, gain for us from the Heart of Jesus our Redeemer all the graces which we ask Thee. Mother of mercies, one throb, a single beat of thy burning heart offered by Thee to the Heart of Jesus has power to console us to the full. Grant us, then, this favour; and then the Heart of Jesus, full of that filial love He had for Thee, and will ever have, will not fail to hear and answer our request. Amen.

____________________________

Ejaculations

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, to Thee I offer myself entirely through Mary.

(Indulgence 300 days, once a day.–Pius IV 1860)

Praised be the most loving Heart and the sweet Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of His glorious Virgin Mother Mary forever and ever.

(Indulgence 200 days, once a day–Pius X. 1908)

Praise, honor, and glory be to the Divine Heart of Jesus.

(100 Indulgence, once a day.– Pius IX. 1860)

Homily of St. Bonaventure

That the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as He slept on the cross, and the Scripture be fulfilled which says: They shall look on Him whom they pierced; it was permitted by divine ordinance that one of the soldiers should pierce that sacred side, opening it with a lance, in so far as, when the blood and water gushed forth, the price of our salvation might be poured out, as if issuing from the hidden fountain, as it were, of the Heart, and might give power to the sacraments of the Church to bestow the life of grace, and, moreover, might be as a saving drink of living waters, bubbling up to life eternal, for those who were already living in Christ. Arise, then, O soul beloved of Christ, do not stop your watching, place thy lips there, and drink the waters from the saving fountains.

Since for a single time we have found our way to that most sweet Heart of the Lord Jesus, and it is good for us to be here, let us not easily be torn away from it. O how good and pleasant it is, to dwell in this Heart. Thy Heart, O most dear Jesus, is the good treasure, the pearl of great price, which we find by digging in the field of Thy body. Who would cast aside this pearl? Yes, rather I will give all my pearls, I will exchange for it all my thoughts and affections and I will purchase It for myself, turning all my thoughts to the Heart of the good Jesus, and without fail It will support me. Therefore, O most sweet Jesus, finding this Heart that is Thine and mine, I will pray to Thee, my God: admit my prayers into the shrine of hearkening: and even more draw me altogether into Thy Heart.

For to this end was Thy side pierced, that an entry might be open to us. To this end was Thy Heart wounded, that in it we might be able to dwell secure from alarms from without. And it was wounded none the less on this account that, through the visible wound, we might see the invisible wound of love. How could this ardor be better shown, than by His allowing, not only His body, but even His very Heart itself, to be wounded by a lance? And so, the wound in His flesh shows forth the wound in His spirit. Who does not love that Heart, so deeply wounded? Who would not return love for love to One so greatly loving? Who would not embrace One so pure? And so still abiding in the flesh, let us, in so far as we are able, return love for love to That which loves us, embrace our wounded One, Whose hands and feet, side and Heart, have been pierced by wicked husbandmen; and let us pray that He may deign to bind our hearts, still hard and impenitent, with the chain of His love, and wound them with the dart thereof.

________________________

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
from the Liturgical Year, 1879

Our readers will not expect us to do more than give them this general view of the great, mystery, and tell them how the holy Doctors of the Church spoke of it. As far as St. Bernard and St. Bonaventure are concerned, the devotion to the mystery of Christ’s side opened on the Cross, is but a part of that which they would have us show to the other wounds of our Redeemer. The Sacred Heart, as the expression of Jesus’ love, is not treated of, in their writings, with the explicitness wherewith the Church would afterwards put it before us. For this end, our Lord Himself selected certain privileged souls, through whose instrumentality, He would bring the Christian world to a fuller appreciation of the consequences which are involved in the principles admitted by the whole Church.

It was on the 27th of January, in the year 1281, in the Benedictine Monastery of Helfta, near Eisleben, in Saxony, that our Divine Lord first revealed these ineffable secrets to one of the community of that house, whose name was Gertrude. She was then twenty years of age. The Spirit of God came upon her, and gave her her mission. She saw, she heard, she was permitted to touch, and what is more, she drank of, that chalice of the Sacred Heart, which inebriates the elect. She drank of It, even whilst in this vale of bitterness; and what she herself so richly received, she imparted to others, who showed themselves desirous to listen. St. Gertrude’s mission was to make known the share and action of the Sacred Heart in the economy of God’s glory and the sanctification of souls; and, in this respect, we cannot separate her from her companion, St. Mechtilde.

On this special doctrine regarding the Heart of the Man-God, St. Gertrude and St. Mechtilde hold a very prominent position among all the Saints and mystical writers of the Church. In saying this, we do not except even the Saints of these later ages, by whom our official, worship, which is now given to his Sacred Heart; these Saints have spread the devotion, now shown to it, throughout the whole Church; but they have not spoken of the mysteries it contains within it, with that set purpose, that precision, that loveliness, which we find in the ‘ Revelations ‘ of the two Saints, Gertrude and Mechtilde.

It was the Beloved Disciple, who had rested his head upon Jesus’ breast, at the Supper, and perhaps heard the beatings of the Sacred Heart, the Disciple who, when standing at the foot of the Cross, had seen that Heart pierced with the soldier’s spear, yes, it was he who announced to Gertrude its future glorification. She asked him how it was that he had not spoken, in his writings in the New Testament, of what he had experienced when he reclined upon Jesus’ Sacred Heart: he thus replied: “My mission was to write, for the Church which was still young, a single word of the uncreated Word of God the Father, that uncreated Word, concerning which the intellect of the whole human race might be ever receiving abundant truth, from now till the end of the world, and yet it would never be fully comprehended. As to the sweet eloquence of those throbbings of His Heart, it is reserved for the time when the world has grown old, and has become cold in God’s love, that it may regain favour by the hearing such revelation.” (The Legate of Divine Love. Bk. iv. ch. 4.)

Gertrude was chosen as the instrument of that revelation; and what she has told us, is exquisitely beautiful. At one time, the Divine Heart is shown to her as a treasure, which holds all riches within It; at another, It is a harp played upon by the Holy Spirit, and the music which comes from It gladdens the Blessed Trinity, and all the heavenly court. It is a plenteous spring, whose stream bears refreshment to the souls in Purgatory, strength and every other grace to them that are still struggling on this earth, and delights which inebriate the blessed in the heavenly Jerusalem. It is a golden thurible, whence there ascend as many different sorts of fragrant incense, as there are different races of men, for all of whom our Redeemer died upon the Cross. It is an altar, upon which the Faithful lay their offerings, the elect their homage, the Angels their worship, and the eternal High Priest offers Himself as a Sacrifice. It is a lamp suspended between heaven and earth. It is a chalice out of which the Saints, but not the Angels, drink, though these latter receive from it delights of varied kinds. It was in this Heart, that was formed and composed the Lord’s Prayer, the Pater noster; that Prayer was the fruit of Jesus’ Heart. By that same Sacred Heart, are supplied all the negligences and deficiencies which are found in the honour we pay to God, and His Blessed Mother and Saints. The Heart of Jesus makes itself as our servant, and our bond, in fulfilment of all the obligations incumbent on us; in it alone, do our actions derive that perfection, that worth, which makes them acceptable in the eyes of the divine Majesty; and every grace, which flows from heaven to earth, passes through that same Heart. When our life is at its close, that Heart is the peaceful abode, the holy sanctuary, ready to receive our souls as soon as they have departed from this world; and having received them, it keeps them in itself for all eternity, and beatifies them with every delight (Preface to the Revelations of St. Gertrude, translated into French from the new Latin Edition, published by the Benedictine Fathers of Solesmes).

By thus revealing to Gertrude the admirable mysteries of divine love, included in the doctrine which attaches to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was, so to say, forestalling the workings of hell, which, two centuries later on, were to find their prime mover in that same spot. Luther was born at Eisleben, in the year 1483. He was the apostle, after being the inventor, of theories the very opposite of what the Sacred Heart reveals. Instead of the merciful God, as known and loved in the previous ages, Luther would have the world believe Him to be the direct author of sin and damnation, Who creates the sinner for crime and eternal torments, and for the mere purpose of showing that He could do anything, even injustice! Calvin followed; he took up the blasphemous doctrines of the German apostate, and rivetted the protestant principles by his own gloomy and merciless logic. By these two men, the tail of the dragon dragged the third part of the stars of heaven (Apoc. xii. 4). In the 17th Century, the old enemy put on hypocrisy, in the shape of Jansenism; changing the names of things, but leaving the things unchanged, he tried to get into the very centre of the Church, and there pass off his impious doctrines; and Jansenism, which, under the pretext of safeguarding the rights of God’s sovereign dominion, aimed at making men forget that he was a God of mercy, Jansenism was a favourable system, wherewith the enemy might propagate his so-called Reformation. That God Who so loved the world (St. John. iii. 16)! beheld mankind discouraged or terrified, and behaving as though in heaven there was no such thing as mercy, still less, love. This earth of ours was to be made to see, that its Creator had loved it with affectionate love; that He had taken a Heart of flesh in order to bring that infinite love within man’s reach and sight; that He made that human Heart, which He had assumed, do its work, that is, beat and throb from love, just as ours do, for He had become one of ourselves, and, as the Prophet words it, had taken the cords of Adam (Osee. xi. 4); that Heart felt the thrill of joy when duty-doing made us joyous; It felt a weight and pang when It saw our sorrows; It was gladsome when it found that, here and there, there would be souls to love Him in return. Sacred Heart reveals.

How were men to be told all this? Who would be chosen to fulfil the prophecy made by Gertrude the Great? Who would come forth, like another Paul or John, and teach to the world, now grown old, the language of the divine throbbings of Jesus’ Heart?

There were then living many men noted for their learning and eloquence; but they would not suit the purpose of God. God, Who loves to choose the weak (and often it is, that He may confound the strong [Cor. i. 27]), had selected for the manifesting of the mystery of the Sacred Heart, a servant of His, of whose existence the world knew not; it was a Religious woman, who lived in a monastery which had nothing about it to attract notice. As, in the 13th Century, He had passed by the learned men, and even the great Saints, who were then living, and selected the Blessed Juliana of Liege as the instrument which was to bring about the institution of the Corpus Christi Feast, so in this present case: He would have His own Sacred Heart be glorified in His Church by a solemn Festival; and He imparts and intrusts His wish to the humble Visitandine of Paray-le-Monial, now known and venerated, throughout the world, under the name of Blessed Margaret-Mary. The mission thus divinely given to her, was to bring forward the treasure, which had been revealed to St. Gertrude, and which, all the long interval, had been known to only a few privileged souls. Sister Margaret-Mary was to publish the secret to the whole world, and make the privilege cease, by telling everyone how to possess it. Through this apparently inadequate instrument, the Sacred Heart of Jesus was a heavenly reaction offered to the world against the chillness which had settled on its old age: it became a touching appeal to all faithful souls that they would make reparation for all the contempt, and slight, and coldness, and sins, wherewith our age treats the love of our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus.

“I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament on one of the days during the Octave” (of Corpus Christi, June, 1675,) says the Blessed Margaret, “and I received from my God exceeding great graces of His love. And, feeling a desire to make some return, and give Him love for love, He said to me: ‘ Thou canst not make Me a greater, than by doing that which I have so often asked of thee.’ He then showed me His Divine Heart, and said: ‘Behold this Heart, which has so loved men, as that it has spared nothing, even to the exhausting and wearing itself out, in order to show them Its love; and, instead of acknowledgment, I receive, from the greater number, nothing but ingratitude, by their irreverences and sacrileges, and by the coldness and contempt wherewith they treat Me, in this Sacrament of love. But what is still more deeply felt by Me is, that they are hearts which are consecrated to me, which thus treat Me. It is on this account, that I make this demand of thee, that the first Friday after the Octave of the Blessed Sacrament be devoted to a special Feast in honour of My Heart; that thou wilt go to Communion on that day; and give it a reparation of honour by an act of amendment, to repair the insults It has received during the time of Its being exposed on the Altar. I promise thee, also, that My Heart will dilate itself, that it may pour forth, with abundance, the influences of Its divine love upon those who shall thus honour It, and shall do their best to have such honour paid to It (Vie de la Bienheureuse, corite par elle-meme).”

By thus calling His servant to be the instrument of the glorification of is Sacred Heart, our Lord made her a sign of contradiction; just as He himself had been (St. Luke, ii. 34). It took more than ten years for Blessed Margaret to get the better, by dint of patience and humility, of the suspicions wherewith she was treated by the little world around her, and of the harsh conduct of the Sisters who lived with her in the same Monastery, and of trials of every sort. At last, on the 21st of June, in the year 1686, the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi, she had the consolation of seeing the whole Community of Paray-le-Monial kneeling before a picture, which represented the Heart of Jesus as pierced with a spear; it was the Heart by Itself; it was encircled with flames, and a crown of thorns, with the Cross above it, and the three Nails. That same year, there was begun, in the Monastery, the building of a Chapel in honour of the Sacred Heart; and Blessed Margaret had the happiness of seeing it finished and blessed. She died shortly afterwards, in the year 1690. But all this was a very humble beginning: where was the institution of a Feast, properly so called? and where its solemn celebration throughout the Church?

So far back as the year 1674, our Lord had, in His own mysterious way, brought Margaret-Mary to form the acquaintance of one of the most saintly Religious of the Society of Jesus then living, it was Father De la Colombiere. He recognized the workings of the Holy Spirit in this His servant, and became the devoted apostle of the Sacred Heart, first of all at Paray-le Monial, and, then, later on, in our own country of England, where he was imprisoned by the heretics of those times, and merited the glorious title of Confessor of the Faith. This fervent disciple of the Heart of Jesus died in the year 1682, worn out by his labours and sufferings; but the Society, in a body, inherited his zeal for the propagation of devotion to the Sacred Heart. At once, numerous confraternities began to be formed, and everywhere there began to be built Chapels, in honour of that same Heart. Hell was angry at this great preaching of God’s love. The Jansensists were furious at this sudden proclamation, at this apparition, as St. Paul would say, of the goodness and kindness of God our Saviour (Tit. iii. 4); and the men who were proclaiming it, were aiming at restoring hope to souls, in which they, the Jansenists, had sowed despondency. The big world must interfere; and it began by talking of innovations, of scandals, of even idolatry; at all events, this new devotion was, to put it mildly, a revolting dissecting of the sacred Body of Christ! Erudite pamphlets were published, some theological, some physiological, to prove that the Church should forbid the subject! Indecent engravings were circulated, and witticisms, such as indignation can make, were made, in order to bring ridicule upon those for whom the world had coined the name of Cordicolae, or Heart-Worshippers.

But, human wisdom, or human prejudice, or even human ridicule, cannot withstand God’s purposes. He wished that human hearts should be led to love, and therefore worship, the Sacred Heart of their Redeemer; and He inspired His Church to receive the devotion, which would save so many souls, though the world might not take heaven’s view. The Apostolic See had witnessed all this; and, at last, gave its formal sanction. Rome had frequently granted Indulgences in favour of the devotions privately practiced towards the Sacred Heart; she had published innumerable Briefs for the establishment of local Confraternities, under that title; and, in the year 1765, in accordance with the request made by the Bishops of Poland and the Arch-Confraternity of the Sacred Heart at Rome, Pope Clement the Thirteenth issued the first pontifical decree in favour of the Feast of the Heart of Jesus, and approved of a Mass and Office, which had been drawn up for that Feast. The same favour was gradually accorded to other Churches, until, at length, on the 23rd of August, 1856, Pope Pius the Ninth, of glorious memory, at the instance of all the Bishops of France, issued the Decree for the inserting the Feast of the Sacred Heart on the Calendar, and making obligatory its celebration by the universal Church.

The glorification of the Heart of Jesus called for that of its humble handmaid. On the 18th of September, 1864, the Beatification of Margaret-Mary was solemnly proclaimed by the same Sovereign Pontiff, who had put the last finish to the work she had begun, and given it the definitive sanction of the Apostolic See.

From that time forward, the knowledge and love of the Sacred Heart have made greater progress, than they had done during the whole two previous centuries. In every quarter of the globe, we have heard of Communities, Religious Orders, and whole Dioceses, consecrating themselves to this source of every grace, this sole refuge of the Church in these sad times. There have been pilgrimages made of thousands, from every country, to the favoured sanctuary of Paray-le-Monial, where it pleased the Divine Heart to first manifest Itself, in its visible form, to us mortals.

http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/


What We Can Learn Today From St. Maria Goretti’s Life

6 July 2015

In a world riddled with disrespect for our bodies made by God we wonder if we have the strength to stand against it. Here is a young girl who did. Her story is not much different than most girls who are sexually abused and /or murdered today.
The difference is that Maria Goretti was willing to die for her purity. Do we teach our children, particularly our daughters the same?

St. Maria Goretti Title
by Rev. Alexander Gits S.J.

 

INTRODUCTION

This is believed to be a photograph of Maria, one of only two that are known.

This is believed to be a photograph of Maria, one of only two that are known.

This story of the martyrdom of Maria Goretti is a challenge to our Catholic youth in an unclean world. Maria is a modern St. Agnes who deliberately sacrificed her life in the year 1902 rather than commit a sin against the holy virtue of purity. Her life as well as her heroic death will be an inspiration to modern girls. In their hands to a large extent lies the future of mankind. They have the vocation to raise once more the standard of Christian purity in a pagan world. What St. Agnes did in the unclean world of pagan Rome has been done anew in this evil age of ours by the example of Maria Goretti.

This sketch has been written as an encouragement to our young girls. There are many generous souls amongst them who have never heard of the ideal of Christian virginity. Many indeed regard this glory as a disgrace. The young martyr, Maria, is a challenge to such false notions.

There seems to be a common opinion among the young today that immodest conduct between the sexes is not sinful provided that it does not go ‘too far’. So soon as they have left school boys and girls consider themselves to be emancipated. They must be ‘modern’. They pursue pleasure with great ardour and are very soon beyond the control of their parents. They have learned their morality from the cinema, advertisements and popular periodicals. Perhaps God in His mercy has raised up the little maid, Maria Goretti, as an invitation to modern girls to stand up and challenge the modern world with its sinful pleasures. Aut castus sit aut pereat– Be pure or perish. The tragedy and triumph of the little Virgin and Martyr was in reality the outcome of a hidden spiritual battle between two forces; on the one hand was the saintly widowed mother who taught her children to love modesty and purity for the sake of Jesus and Mary, on the other hand was the lazy, neglectful farm labourer who taught his sons that there was no harm in immodest songs, books and pictures. The battle was won by Maria.

A remarkable aspect of the beatification which took place in 1947 was the special honour paid by the Holy Father to the child’s mother. He emphasized over and over again both in his speeches and in the official documents that the heroic daughter was the glory of the mother’s training. The details of the following story are taken from the evidence of the witnesses at the enquiries as quoted by Father Mondrone S.J. from the decree of beatification and from the address of Pope Pius XII.

THE CATHOLIC MOTHER

On 27 April 1947 Pope Pius XII, seated in the sede gestatoria, entered the basilica of St. Peter in the holy city of Rome for a beatification ceremony which in many ways was unique. He was to award the title of Blessed to a child martyr.

A vast crowd of 25,000 children and over 5,000 men and women were gazing at the splendour and glory of the triumphant ceremony while many thousands in the piazza outside the basilica were waiting to receive the blessing of the Holy Father. There came a pause amid the long ceremonial. The Pope had sent a courier on a special errand. Everybody in that vast crowd watched and waited with breathless interest as a white-haired old lady, aged 82 years, was slowly escorted into the presence of the Vicar of Christ. He spoke to her for some time and then in the presence of that vast assembly reverently kissed her hands.

This extraordinary honour bestowed by the Pope on a poor peasant woman was in reality a public acknowledgement of a mother’s life-work gloriously fulfilled. Her daughter had just been beatified as Virgin and Martyr. The child was not yet twelve years of age when she sacrificed her life in defence of her purity. The Pope wished to honour the living mother as well as the martyred daughter. So said the Holy Father addressing the multitudes and so ran the decree of beatification. Another unusual feature of the day was the declaration in the official decree that the child martyr now rejoices in Heaven with her father just as We on earth now rejoice with her mother.

The old lady had known poverty and hard work all her life. As a young girl she was known as Assunta Carlini, an orphan girl of the village of Corinaldo, situated about fifty miles north of Assisi. Since she had no home of her own her young life was one of constant hard work on the farm lands and in domestic service, but it was a life made beautiful by her trust in God and a childlike devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the course of time Assunta Carlini and Luigi Goretti, a young farm worker in the same village, were attracted to one another by their mutual love of the Faith and the purity of their lives. Each recognized the goodness of the other. They were married and started their new life on a little farm barely large enough to support them. They worked from morning till night and knew no fear, for they trusted in the Providence of God.

On 16 October 1890, to their great joy, a daughter was born to them and in accord with an ancient Catholic custom baptized within twenty-four hours in the village church. She received the names Maria and Teresa. This child was the future martyr, henceforth to be trained to sanctity by her father and mother. Maria Goretti, growing up in a good Catholic home, soon learned to recognize the holy pictures upon the wall, to make the sign of the Cross and to repeat her simple prayers after her father and mother. Those were indeed happy days for Assunta and Luigi. As the little girl grew older she began to imitate in small ways the unselfish goodness of her father and mother; she showed signs at a very early age of a gradually awakening sanctity. Her mother’s conversation inspired her with an admiration of the glories of the countryside, of the flowers and birds by day and of the stars in the heavens by night, explaining to her how all these things come from the hand of God. Maria quickly responded and began to appreciate the beauties of nature and to talk to God in her own childish way.

Although neither Assunta nor her child had ever attended school, this truly Christian mother was able to teach Maria the catechism and her prayers. She was in fact being educated in the finest of schools, a good Catholic home, and by the finest of teachers, her own parents. At the age of six she made her First Confession and received the strength of the Holy Ghost in the sacrament of Confirmation administered in the village church by the Bishop of Senogallia, the future Cardinal Boschi.

Up to this point all had gone well. Maria, even though so young, had become her mother’s companion and helper in the home. During the six years that had passed, God had blessed the little home with three more children. Luigi and Assunta rejoiced to receive these gifts from Heaven and were not afraid of hard work or suffering. The six-year-old Maria became in very truth the little mother of the house, nursing the younger ones, teaching them their prayers and encouraging her own mother in their daily troubles. On one occasion, passing through a meadow where they were helping with the farm work, Assunta remarked that she was afraid of snakes. ‘Don’t be afraid, Mummy’, said the stout-hearted six-year-old, ‘I will walk in front of you. You will be quite safe.’ This little incident was typical of her unselfish charity. The noble qualities of the child were soon observed by the women of the village, who would say good-humouredly to the mother: ‘Assunta, your little girl is a saint’.

Her growing love of prayer is thus described in the papal decree:

‘The Holy Spirit desired to enrich the little handmaiden of God with special graces and extraordinary privileges increasing her sanctity every day: by means of natural and visible things He drew her gently and sweetly to invisible and heavenly joys. As the singing lark attracted by the beauty of smiling meadows and blue skies rises to the heavens with rapid wing and remains poised in happy freedom singing and rejoicing, so did the pure little maid of Connaldo find herself charmed by the song of the birds and the sweet perfume of flowers and thus rejoicing amid the gentle breezes and the brilliant sunshine she raised her heart to the beauties of the heavens and with rapture even above the heavens to the choirs of angels and then to the throne of the most High God, pouring out the joy of her heart even unto eternity’.

THE CROSS

The first grief that came upon the little family was the pressure of poverty, which forced them to leave the village which they so much loved and the church where Luigi and Assunta had been baptized and married, where they had attended daily Mass and where their own children had been baptized and had learned the happiness of loving God.

The farm at Corinaldo was too small to yield enough food for their support. They therefore packed their few belongings and took to the road, making for Colle Granturco, a hill-country village, where Luigi had found work on a larger farm. Here they lived happily enough for three years during which a fifth child was born to them, bringing new love into the home and giving a new interest and new work to the little mother, Maria, now seven years of age.

For three years, from 1896 to 1899, poor Luigi toiled without avail. The farm for some reason or other was a failure until at last he was compelled by dire necessity to accept an offer of work near the coastal town of Nettuno, not far from the Anzio beach, thirty miles south of the Tiber.

The Anzio shore, as all the world knows, is now famous for the furious fighting which took place between Germans and allied forces in the year 1943. Before the 1939-1945 war the country round about had been drained and made healthy through the efforts of Benito Mussolini. Canals and fine roads had transformed the marshy Campagna from a pestilential swamp into a healthy productive countryside. In the year 1900, however, when the Goretti family came down from the hills to work at the farm near Nettuno they found themselves surrounded by marshy ground and uncultivated fields. Soon after they arrived a supply of coffins was sent to them by the owners of the farm in case any of the farm hands should fall victims of the deadly malaria which infested the warm, damp marsh lands.

Luigi and Assunta, on arrival at their new quarters, found that they would have to share a house on the farm with another family consisting of Giovanni Serenelli, aged sixty, a widower with two sons, Gaspar and Alessandro, both of them working on the land. The kitchen and the stairs had to be used by both families. This, of course, led to much inconvenience and trouble. Giovanni Serenelli was a coarse, unpleasant man who cared very little about the moral upbringing of his boys. He was in the habit of buying ‘popular’ magazines and journals abundantly illustrated with sensual pictures. He gave them to his sons for their entertainment. The walls of the boys bedrooms were covered with these suggestive pictures.

One can imagine the grief and fear which filled the heart of the pure-minded Assunta when she saw the type of men who were to live so close to her children. One day, as in duty bound, she protested to Giovanni Serenelli concerning the pictures he was bringing into the house. He replied contemptuously: ‘You need not look at them if you dont like them.

From early dawn until nightfall, day in and day out, these ill-assorted people had to toil side by side in the farm lands while the dauntless Maria kept house and managed the children and even repaired the clothing of the farm workers. Luigi, however, was not satisfied. He shared his wifes anxiety and began to make arrangements for a return to their native village, but before he could carry out his plans the terrible malaria fastened upon him. He sank rapidly until at last it was plain to all that God would soon call him to his eternal home. As he lay dying he thought of his children and begged Assunta in the event of his death to return to Corinaldo.

No sooner was the emaciated body of Luigi laid to rest than Assunta had perforce to shoulder the whole burden of her husbands work. To make matters worse Gaspar Serenelli had by this time gone away to seek work elsewhere. In spite of the loss of one mans strength the other two made no effort to work any harder. From all accounts it would seem that they were content to allow the ever-willing Assunta to supply for their laziness. The contract with the owners of the farm must be fulfilled; the children must be fed. Assunta therefore left all the care of the household in the capable hands of her daughter. After gathering in the harvest of wheat and beans she found herself, after the sales, burdened with a debt of 15 lire.

Maria as usual came to the rescue. With all her might she strove to fortify her mothers courage: ‘Cheer up, Mummy’, said she, ‘we are all growing up. If God will give us health we shall carry on. God will look after us.’ The strong-hearted little maid was now eleven years old.

‘She had a good and docile disposition’, said her mother, ‘and was as modest as she was graceful.’ The evidence continues: ‘Never was she disobedient and never did she cause her mother any trouble or displeasure: with daughterly affection she tried in every way to lighten the mothers work. She became a second mother to her small brothers and sisters, winning their hearts by her kindly ways. To others she gave an outstanding example of that modesty which St Paul wishes to be known to all men (Philipp. 4: 5). Before their eyes and before God she advanced in wisdom and age and grace. She had but one Master and His pulpit was the Cross, and she had only one book, that threefold breviary of the layfolk, the Rosary. She grew in age but advanced more rapidly in that wisdom which our Lord says is hidden from the wise and prudent but revealed by the Father in His goodness to little ones.’

 

GROWING IN SANCTITY

The Christian courage and unselfishness of Maria Goretti were not only the result of her mothers careful training; they were also the fruit of her growing love of prayer. She took delight in frequent conversations with Jesus and Mary. In her spare moments at home she would kneel and pour out her troubles and anxieties in the presence of God. Twice a day she would recite the Rosary for her dead father. She was sometimes seen to kneel for a moment at the gates of the cemetery where he was buried. At home she inspired her own brothers and sisters with some of her own love of prayer and in her own way would repeat to them the instructions given by the priest in the chapel of Campomorto, which was two miles away from the farm, or on great feasts she would explain to them the sermon preached that day in the church at Nettuno, seven miles away from their home. Her constant companion when she attended church was Teresa Cimarelli, who after her death bore witness to her blameless life. ‘She was truly a girl brought up from childhood to please our Lord,’ said Teresa.

When out of doors neighbours noted her modesty of dress and behaviour. Graceful and fair, with the candid glance of an innocent child, she usually wore a veil over her head and maintained a certain reserve and simple dignity when addressed by others. Her brothers and sisters loved and admired her as a second mother and unconsciously imitated her modest bearing and dignified manners. The Serenellis later on testified that even during the worst heat of the Campagna summer Maria always preserved the same careful modesty in her dress and behaviour. Of course, like all the saints of God she had to suffer ill-natured remarks from those who felt that the purity of her life was a silent rebuke to themselves. By the grace of God, however, she kept her sweetness of character and told her trouble to her mother, whom she trusted completely. As the child grew older she began more and more to long for the day of her First Communion. The future Pius X, the Childrens Pope, was still only Patriarch of Venice. The old custom still remained, so that children did not receive our Lord until very late in childhoods years. Moreover, the little hamlet in which the farm was situated ‘had neither church nor school but only a bad climate’, as the witnesses quaintly remark. Eventually Maria was judged to be ready and the great day of her First Communion dawned on the feast of Corpus Christi, 29 May 1902. She received God into her heart with great joy. It was only forty days before her martyrdom.

‘After this’, said the child to her mother, ‘I shall be much better’. To make up for her disappointment at not having her father with her she offered up all the prayers and graces of her First Communion for the repose of his soul.

A short time after the great day it chanced that she was sent as usual to the well to fetch a supply of water for the household. While filling her jug she overheard the bandying of obscene jokes between a young man and one of the girls who had so recently made her First Communion with Maria. The child was hurt and shocked. She hurried home and complained to her mother.

‘You should not listen to her’, said Assunta.

‘I could not help it. I was filling the jug.’

‘You must let the words come in one ear and go out of the other. Take care never to say them yourself.’

‘I will never say them, mamma mia: I would rather die.’

‘Remember, Marietta, to pray to our Lady in all dangers.’

So did Assunta train her daughter and the grace of God fortified the soul of the maid. Years later Cardinal Salotti, speaking at Nettuno, said to the assembled crowds: ‘Even if Maria had not been a martyr she would have been a saint, so holy was her ordinary everyday life.

THE COMBAT

Meanwhile Assunta laboured on the farm lands with the two Serenellis and entrusted the home affairs more and more to her ‘Marietta’, as she called Maria. Perhaps the continuous heavy work had begun to blunt the watchful perceptions of Assunta; she was losing sight of the fact that Maria was still a child needing a mothers care and protection. Giovanni Serenelli and his morose and silent son, Alessandro, made no change in their loutish ways. The illustrated papers with their risque pictures were still coming into the room of the men. Maria worked and prayed in the home from morning till night, cleaning, cooking, repairing clothes and mothering the four little ones. The poor child was blissfully unaware of the stealthy approach of evil. Then the clash came.

One hot afternoon in June 1902 when work was in progress in the fields Maria was surprised to see the young Serenelli returning to the house. He came up to her in a furtive way and spoke in a low tone, the voice of the tempter. She did not understand his words but instinct warned her of the danger and she ran away.

A few days later the same thing happened again but this time the young man spoke more plainly. She blushed with shame and horror, repelling him with energetic words. He seized hold of the poor child but she slipped away and as she ran he threatened with an oath to kill her if she dared to tell a living soul what had passed.

It does not require much imagination to picture the shame and terror suffered by this saintly girl. It is easy for us now to judge that she should have told her mother of this overwhelming danger that threatened her purity and her life. All we know is that Maria redoubled her prayers and begged her mother not to leave her alone. Assunta noticed that her rosary was constantly in her hands when she was not working in the house. She noticed also that the young Serenelli was treating Maria with great harshness whenever he had cause to speak to her and that she was avoiding him as far as she could in those cramped quarters. Nevertheless the possibility of any danger never crossed her mind. Again and again Maria would plaintively beg: ‘Madre mia’, dont leave me alone in the house. But Assunta must needs go out and work. Who would hurt a child so young and innocent? She was not yet twelve years of age.

The weeks went by and Maria seems to have become more tranquil. On Saturday morning, 5 July 1902, she paid a call on her friend, Teresa Cimarelli, inviting her to come to Confession with her: ‘Tomorrow is Sunday, Teresa. Lets go to Campomorto. I am longing for Holy Communion.’

Meanwhile, Satan had entered into the soul of Alessandro, the wretched victim of his own fathers neglect and sinful example. He secured possession of a sharp stiletto, a foot long, and hid the weapon in his room. He is determined to conquer the dauntless child.

During midday dinner arrangements were made for the threshing of the beans in the afternoon. The method was primitive. Two bullock carts were to be driven repeatedly over the beans on the threshing floor, thus crushing the pods. It was a long and laborious process, especially in the heavy heat of July. After dinner Giovanni Serenelli sat down at the foot of the stairs and fell asleep. Assunta and Alessandro started out to fetch the bullock carts. Assuntas baby daughter was sleeping on the top of the stairs while Maria sat near minding the baby while at the same time she stitched away, repairing a shirt for Alessandro. Outside in the sun Assunta and Alessandro were leading one of the wagons to the threshing shed. Suddenly without warning Alessandro jumped down from the cart and requested Assunta to take charge. He came hurriedly into the house, ran up the stairs past his sleeping father and into his own room. He secreted the stiletto and came out again. In a low voice he requested the terrified Maria to come into a room. ‘What for?’ she asked, and then tried to run down the stairs. He seized her, dragged her into the room and closed the door.

THE AGONY

The details of the martyrdom that followed came from the lips of the penitent murderer in later years when evidence was being gathered for the child’s beatification.

In that little room, far from human aid but strong in Faith, the trembling Maria heard the wretched youth repeatedly demanding that she should surrender herself to him. ‘No, no, no’, she said firmly, ‘it would be a terrible sin and you will go to Hell. God forbids it.’ She began to scream for help but there was no one near except the older man sleeping at the foot of the stairs. The maddened youth drew his stiletto and threatened her, hoping to overcome her resistance by fear. At last he laid hands upon her, whereupon the glorious virgin and martyr made her final refusal:

‘You may kill me but you shall not have me.’

Blinded by fury he drove the stiletto again and again into her body ‘as though she were a piece of wood.’ Maria fell bleeding to the floor and as she fell gathered her garments around her body. ‘Mother, Mother!’ she cried, ‘I am dying. O my God, help me.’ The murderer shrank back for a moment as she lay bleeding from fourteen dreadful wounds. With grim determination the dying maid dragged herself to the door and called to the father sleeping at the foot of the stairs: ‘Giovanni, come quickly. Alessandro has killed me.’

The youth was now overcome by panic; at all costs he must silence her. He seized her by the throat and drove the stiletto into her back. Then he let her fall and ran away to his own room and locked himself in.

Ten minutes before, as he came up the stairs, he had been determined to kill her if she would not consent to sin with him. ‘I knew I was breaking the law of God. I killed her because she refused. Never by a word or a smile had she encouraged me. It was all my own fault. Maria did well.’ So said the humble penitent many years afterwards.

At last the elder Serenelli awoke from his sleep and seeing the wounded girl gave the alarm. Teresa Cimarelli came into the house and lifted the dying Maria on to a bed. Teresa questioned her. She replied faintly: ‘It was Alessandro. He wanted me to do something bad. I said: No, Alessandro; you will go to Hell’. He hit me. He wounded me all over.’ Poor Assunta then came running in and fainted at the sight that met her eyes. She then roused herself and bent over the child:

‘Marietta, what has happened?’

‘It was Alessandro.’

‘But why, carissima?’

‘He wanted me to do a wicked thing and I refused.’

Later on in the hospital the mother questioned her daughter again at the request of the police:

‘Has he ever troubled you before?’

‘Yes, twice; about two months ago.’

‘But why did you not tell me, carissima?’

‘Oh! I was too ashamed. He threatened to kill me if I spoke.’

The papal decree sums up the whole tragedy as follows: ‘He was a degraded youth given up to sensual pleasures. Not even the exceptional modesty and maidenly virtue of Maria were sufficient to shame him into restraining his base and animal desires. Again and again he had tempted her in vain until at the end she had this choice put before her, either to save her life with the loss of her virtue or to preserve her virtue at the loss of her life. It was her life that she cast away, a life to be found again in the world to come and for all eternity.’

THE CRUCIFIXION

The tragic news spread like wildfire among the peasants who had long loved and admired Maria Goretti. ‘They have killed a little saint’, was their comment. A crowd began to gather at the door of the farmhouse; angry cries were heard threatening violence to the murderer hidden within. The police van drew up at the door: the wretched Giovanni watched his son being taken into custody.

Later on the ambulance arrived: the sorrowful neighbours watched the pitiful spectacle as the suffering child was carried out accompanied by her weeping mother. Assunta and Teresa Cimarelli sat with Maria as she was transported to hospital. Those country roads were very rough, so that the ambulance car jolted terribly.

‘Are you suffering, carissima?’

‘Oh no, Mummy’, said the unselfish Maria, but the pain at last forced from her lips the query: ‘Will it be long before we get there?’

When the doctors saw her mangled body they declared the case to be hopeless and asked the Father Superior of the Hospital to hear her confession.

‘You won’t have much to do, Father; she’s a little angel.’

No anaesthetics could be given to her, so that she suffered agony when they were treating her wounds and internal injuries. When they had finished with her, she looked at her mother and said:

‘I am much better’, and then begged for some water, but this was forbidden.

‘Will you stay with me tonight?’

‘No, carissima; I am not allowed.’

‘But where will you sleep?’

Assunta reassured her and retired for the night. The priest from Nettuno, who knew Maria very well, accompanied by Teresa Cimarelli and two Little Sisters of the Poor, spent the night watching by the bedside of the dying child. Maria frequently kissed the Crucifix with great devotion and prayed to our Lady as she was wont to do. In spite of her pain she showed great joy when the priest enrolled her as a Child of Mary and placed the medal round her neck.

Very early on Sunday morning Assunta was allowed to come to the room and prepare Maria for Holy Communion. The previous day she had expressed to Teresa her great longing to receive Jesus and now her desire was to be fulfilled. The room was prepared. ‘Marietta’, whispered the mother, ‘you must forgive Alessandro.’ In a short while the priest who had watched by her bedside through the night went to the hospital chapel to bring her Holy Communion. Assunta, Teresa and the two nuns recited the prayers. Presently the priest came to the room bearing the Blessed Sacrament. He placed It on the altar by her bed and then spoke a few words to Maria the child.

‘Tell me, Marietta, who is here in Holy Communion?’

‘Jesus whom I am going to see very soon.’

‘Do you forgive Alessandro?’

‘Yes, of course, Father. Jesus forgave the penitent thief on the Cross and I shall pray that Alessandro may be penitent.’

Maria received her Viaticum with greatest joy and was anointed with the holy oils. The Sunday morning wore on. The watchers prayed. Maria was sinking but her lips moved as she spoke to Jesus and Mary. From time to time she became delirious, thinking she was still lying on the floor: ‘Oh, take me to bed. I want to be near our Lady.’ (At home she kept a small altar near her bed with a picture of the Blessed Virgin which she honored daily with fresh flowers.) Sometimes in her wanderings she would cry out in sudden horror: ‘No, no, Alessandro. You will go to Hell.’ She moved her hands as though to drive away the tempter and then drew the clothes around her.

The weeping Assunta tried to comfort her child and when tranquillity returned she said to her: ‘Good-bye, little one. Pray for us all. Pardon everything.’

The swoons now became more frequent.

It was a quarter to four on the Sunday afternoon, 6 July 1902. The faithful Teresa Cimarelli was sitting at the bedside praying without ceasing. Maria lay silent and pale. Suddenly she turned towards her friend, caught hold of her arms and said: ‘Teresa!’ It was her last cry. She sank back on the pillows and gave up her pure soul to God.

The previous day had been the Feast of the Precious Blood when Maria had shed her blood for the Lamb of God who had died for her. Her few years had been passed in innocence and her brief life will shine for ever as an example to all, but especially to girls. Her twelve years of life will shine like the twelve stars that adorn the crown of the Virgin Mother of God. The Servant of God closed her life in charity with all. She pardoned her murderer from her heart, as Jesus Himself pardoned the thief whom He was to take with Him into Paradise. She closed her life in the love of God the Father whose commandments even in her agony were sweeter to her than honey and the honeycomb. She closed her life in the love of her blood-stained Spouse on the Cross who laid down His life for His friends.

THE TRIUMPH

Maria’s funeral was more like a triumph than a day of mourning. The country folk turned out en masse and acclaimed her sanctity.

‘Maria Goretti is our new St Agnes. She is in Heaven.’ She was laid to rest in the cemetery near her father, but later on, when enquiries were being made for her beatification, her body was removed to her parish church, Our Lady of Grace, in Nettuno, whose priest had attended her in her last agony. On the occasion of her removal to this church Cardinal Salotti addressed a great concourse of people who had come to honour their heroine.

The popular verdict was echoed by the words of Pius XII when he addressed the multitude on the day of her beatification: ‘Maria Goretti resembled St. Agnes in her characteristic virtue of Fortitude. This virtue of Fortitude is at the same time the safeguard as well as the fruit of virginity. Our new beata was strong and wise and fully aware of her dignity. That is why she preferred death before sin. She was not yet twelve years of age when she shed her blood as a martyr, nevertheless what prudence, what foresight, what energy she showed when aware of danger! She was on the watch day and night to defend her chastity, making use of all the means at her disposal, persevering in prayer and entrusting the lily of her purity to the special protection of Mary, the Virgin of virgins. Let us admire the fortitude of the pure of heart. It is a mysterious strength far above the limits of human nature and even above ordinary Christian virtue.

‘There are many other generous and pure souls like Maria Goretti, but the number would be still greater if only parents would exercise greater watchfulness over their children and encourage them to a more trusting obedience.’

Legal documents are usually written in official and unattractive language but the papal decree of beatification for Maria Goretti is a notable exception. Dated 27 April 1947 and issued from the Sacred Congregation of Rites, it begins as follows:

‘Never has there been a time when the palm of martyrdom was missing from the shining robes of the glorious Spouse of Christ. Even today in our very degraded and unclean world there are bright examples of unearthly beauty. The greatest of all triumphs is surely the one which is gained by the sacrifice of ones life, a victory made holy by the blood-red garments of martyrdom. When however the martyr is a child of tender age with the natural timidity of the weaker sex such a martyrdom rises to sublime heights of glory.

‘This is exactly what happened in the case of Maria Goretti, a poor little girl and yet very wonderful. She was a Roman country maid who did not hesitate to struggle and to suffer, to shed her lifes blood and to die with heroic courage in order to keep herself pure and to preserve the lily-white flowers of her virginity. We can justly say of her what St Ambrose said about St Agnes: ‘Men must marvel, children take courage, wives must wonder and maids must imitate’. These words are true indeed: The father of a saintly child may well jump for joy. All honour to the father and mother. Happy the mother that gave thee birth (Proverbs xxiii).

‘Thrice happy maid, you are now rejoicing with your father in Heaven while your mother rejoices with us on earth like the happy mother of the angelic youth, Aloysius. So also let Italy, your Motherland, rejoice, smiling once more through her tears as she reads the motto you have written for her in childish letters of brilliant white and gold: Brave and Beautiful (Proverbs xxxi).

‘Italian girls especially in the fair flower of their youth should raise their eyes to Heaven and gaze upon this shining example of maidenly virtue which rose from the midst of wickedness as a light shines in darkness. We call her a model and protector. God is wonderful in His saints; He sets them before us as examples as well as patrons. Now He has given to the young girls of our cruel and degraded world a model and protector, the little maid Maria who sanctified the opening of our century with her innocent blood.’

On Christmas Eve, eight months after the Beatification of Maria Goretti, a man humble and penitent stood knocking at the door of the priests house in the village of Nettuno. It was Alessandro Serenelli. He had served his sentence of imprisonment and for some time had been living in retirement: now he had travelled to seek the forgiveness of the martyrs mother. Assunta Goretti, now aged and infirm, was living at the village presbytery.

Like Our Lady of Sorrows, she freely pardoned the penitent murderer. Moreover, in token of her forgiveness the saintly mother on Christmas morning, in the presence of all the villagers, knelt side by side with Alessandro at the altar rails to receive Holy Communion together at their Christmas Mass. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, entered into their hearts. It was His triumph and His victory; for Charity is stronger than Death. 24 June 1950 was the day of Maria’s final triumph, her canonization by Pope Pius XII in St. Peters, Rome, in the presence of a vast multitude of Holy Year pilgrims.

PRAYERS TO OBTAIN PURITY

I. O Jesus, Son of the living God, brightness of eternal light, who from all eternity wast begotten most pure in the santa-maria-goretti-santino-2bosom of the eternal Father, and who in time didst will to be born of a most pure and immaculate virgin: I, thy most frail creature, with all my heart beseech thee to preserve me pure in soul and body, and to make holy purity flourish abundantly in thy holy Church, for Thy greater glory and the salvation of the souls redeemed by Thee.

II. O Mary ever virgin, most pure and immaculate daughter of the eternal Father, mother of the eternal Son, spouse of the Holy Ghost, august and living temple of the most blessed Trinity, lily of purity, and mirror without spot: obtain for me, O dear mother! from your good Jesus and mine, purity of soul and body; and beg of Him to make this virtue flourish more and more in all classes of the faithful.

III. O most chaste spouse of Mary immaculate, who didst merit at the hands of God the singular honor of being the foster-father of Innocence itself, Christ Jesus, and the spotless guardian of the Virgin of virgins: obtain for me the love of Jesus, my God and Saviour, and the special protection of Mary, my most holy mother; and procure, O holy Joseph, protector of all chaste souls! that thy chosen virtue of holy purity be better loved by me and by all men.

IV. And thou, all on fire with love for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, model of Christian modesty and restorer in your time of piety and good morals, our special advocate and example, St. Bernardino: present our prayers to the Holy Family, and beg of them that, with piety and the fear of God, holy purity in soul and body may reign in all Christian families, and in all who are children of the holy Roman Church, our mother. Amen.

His Holiness, Pope Pius IX., by a rescript of the Sacred Penitentiary, Feb. 27, 1862, granted to all the faithful, every time that, with at least contrite heart and devotion, they shall say these prayers to obtain holy purity: 300 days Indulgence.

Maria’s feast day, celebrated on July 6, was inserted in the General Roman Calendar when it was revised in 1969. She is the patron saint of chastity, rape victims, girls, youth, teenage girls, poverty, purity and forgiveness.

Sources: http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/
Photo: https://agnesinagony.wordpress.com


The Self-Help Saint for Today’s Less Than Selfless World

24 January 2015

“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.” Saint Francis de Sales

24 January 2015 A.D.
Posted by Sofia Guerra

Saint Francis de Sales

The Patron Saint of Writers and Journalists

414px-Saint_francois_de_salesBishop of Geneva, Doctor of the Universal Church; born at Thorens, in the Duchy of Savoy, 21 August, 1567; died at Lyons, 28 December, 1622.

His father, François de Sales de Boisy, and his mother, Françoise de Sionnaz, belonged to old Savoyard aristocratic families.

The future saint was the eldest of six brothers. His father intended him for the magistracy and sent him at an early age to the colleges of La Roche and Annecy. From 1583 till 1588 he studied rhetoric and humanities at the college of Clermont, Paris, under the care of the Jesuits. While there he began a course of theology. After a terrible and prolonged temptation to despair, caused by the discussions of the theologians of the day on the question of predestination, from which he was suddenly freed as he knelt before a miraculous image of Our Lady at St. Etienne-des-Grès, he made a vow of chastity and consecrated himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In 1588 he studied law at Padua, where the Jesuit Father Possevin was his spiritual director. He received his diploma of doctorate from the famous Pancirola in 1592. Having been admitted as a lawyer before the senate of Chambéry, he was about to be appointed senator. His father had selected one of the noblest heiresses of Savoy to be the partner of his future life, but Francis declared his intention of embracing the ecclesiastical life. A sharp struggle ensued. His father would not consent to see his expectations thwarted. Then Claude de Granier, Bishop of Geneva, obtained for Francis, on his own initiative, the position of Provost of the Chapter of Geneva, a post in the patronage of the pope. It was the highest office in the diocese, M. de Boisy yielded and Francis received Holy Orders (1593).

From the time of the Reformation the seat of the Bishopric of Geneva had been fixed at Annecy. There with apostolic zeal, the new provost devoted himself to preaching, hearing confessions, and the other work of his ministry. In the following year (1594) he volunteered to evangelize Le Chablais, where the Genevans had imposed the Reformed Faith, and which had just been restored to the Duchy of Savoy. He made his headquarters in the fortress of Allinges. Risking his life, he journeyed through the entire district, preaching constantly; by dint of zeal, learning, kindness and holiness he at last obtained a hearing. He then settled in Thonon, the chief town. He confuted the preachers sent by Geneva to oppose him; he converted the syndic and several prominent Calvinists. At the request of the pope, Clement VIII, he went to Geneva to interview Theodore Beza, who was called the Patriarch of the Reformation. The latter received him kindly and seemed for a while shaken, but had not the courage to take the final steps. A large part of the inhabitants of Le Chablais returned to the true fold (1597 and 1598). Claude de Granier then chose Francis as his coadjutor, in spite of his refusal, and sent him to Rome (1599).

Pope Clement VIII ratified the choice; but he wished to examine the candidate personally, in presence of the Sacred College. The improvised examination was a triumph for Francis. “Drink, my son”, said the Pope to him. “from your cistern, and from your living wellspring; may your waters issue forth, and may they become public fountains where the world may quench its thirst.” The prophesy was to be realized. On his return from Rome the religious affairs of the territory of Gex, a dependency of France, necessitated his going to Paris. There the coadjutor formed an intimate friendship with Cardinal de Bérulle, Antoine Deshayes, secretary of Henry IV, and Henry IV himself, who wished “to make a third in this fair friendship” (être de tiers dans cette belle amitié). The king made him preach the Lent at Court, and wished to keep him in France. He urged him to continue, by his sermons and writings, to teach those souls that had to live in the world how to have confidence in God, and how to be genuinely and truly pious – graces of which he saw the great necessity.

495px-Franz_von_Sales_Bischofswappen

On the death of Claude de Granier, Francis was consecrated Bishop of Geneva (1602). His first step was to institute catechetical instructions for the faithful, both young and old. He made prudent regulations for the guidance of his clergy. He carefully visited the parishes scattered through the rugged mountains of his diocese. He reformed the religious communities. His goodness, patience and mildness became proverbial. He had an intense love for the poor, especially those who were of respectable family. His food was plain, his dress and his household simple. He completely dispensed with superfluities and lived with the greatest economy, in order to be able to provide more abundantly for the wants of the needy. He heard confessions, gave advice, and preached incessantly. He wrote innumerable letters (mainly letters of direction) and found time to publish the numerous works mentioned below.

Together with St. Jane Frances de Chantal, he founded (1607) the Institute of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin, for young girls and widows who, feeling themselves called to the religious life, have not sufficient strength, or lack inclination, for the corporal austerities of the great orders. His zeal extended beyond the limits of his own diocese. He delivered the Lent and Advent discourses which are still famous – those at Dijon (1604), where he first met the Baroness de Chantal; at Chambéry (1606); at Grenoble (1616, 1617, 1618), where he converted the Maréchal de Lesdiguières. During his last stay in Paris (November, 1618, to September, 1619) he had to go into the pulpit each day to satisfy the pious wishes of those who thronged to hear him. “Never”, said they, “have such holy, such apostolic sermons been preached.” He came into contact here with all the distinguished ecclesiastics of the day, and in particular with St. Vincent de Paul. His friends tried energetically to induce him to remain in France, offering him first the wealthy Abbey of Ste. Geneviève and then the coadjutor-bishopric of Paris, but he refused all to return to Annecy.

In 1622 he had to accompany the Court of Savoy into France. At Lyons he insisted on occupying a small, poorly furnished room in a house belonging to the gardener of the Visitation Convent. There, on 27 December, he was seized with apoplexy. He received the last sacraments and made his profession of faith, repeating constantly the words: “God’s will be done! Jesus, my God and my all!” He died next day, in the fifty-sixth year of his age. Immense crowds flocked to visit his remains, which the people of Lyons were anxious to keep in their city. With much difficulty his body was brought back to Annecy, but his heart was left at Lyons. A great number of wonderful favours have been obtained at his tomb in the Visitation Convent of Annecy. His heart, at the time of the French Revolution, was carried by the Visitation nuns from Lyons to Venice, where it is venerated to-day. St. Francis de Sales was beatified in 1661, and canonized by Alexander VII in 1665; he was proclaimed Doctor of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX, in 1877.

 

The following is a list of the principal works of the holy Doctor:

(1) “Controversies”, leaflets which the zealous missioner scattered among the inhabitants of Le Chablais in the beginning, when t hese people did not venture to come and hear him preach. They form a complete proof of the Catholic Faith. In the first part, the author defends the authority of the Church, and in the second and third parts, the rules of faith, which were not observed by the heretical ministers. The primacy of St. Peter is amply vindicated.

(2) “Defense of the Standard of the Cross”, a demonstration of the virtue

  • of the True Cross;
  • of the Crucifix;
  • of the Sign of the Cross;
  • an explanation of the Veneration of the Cross.

(3) “An Introduction to the Devout Life“, a work intended to lead “Philothea”, the soul living in the world, into the paths of devotion, that is to say, of true and solid piety. Every one should strive to become pious, and “it is an error, it is even a heresy”, to hold that piety is incompatible with any state of life. In the first part the author helps the soul to free itself from all inclination to, or affection for, sin; in the second, he teaches it how to be united to God by prayer and the sacraments; in the third, he exercises it in the practice of virtue; in the fourth, he strengthens it against temptation; in the fifth, he teaches it how to form its resolutions and to persevere. The “Introduction”, which is a masterpiece of psychology, practical morality, and common sense, was translated into nearly every language even in the lifetime of the author, and it has since gone through innumerable editions.

(4) “Treatise on the Love of God”, an authoritative work which reflects perfectly the mind and heart of Francis de Sales as a great genius and a great saint. It contains twelve books. The first four give us a history, or rather explain the theory, of Divine love, its birth in the soul, its growth, its perfection, and its decay and annihilation; the fifth book shows that this love is twofold – the love of complacency and the love of benevolence; the sixth and seventh treat of affective love, which is practised in prayer; the eight and ninth deal with effective love, that is, conformity to the will of God, and submission to His good pleasure. The last three resume what has preceded and teach how to apply practically the lessons taught therein.

(5) “Spiritual Conferences”; familiar conversations on religious virtues addressed to the sisters of the Visitation and collected by them. We find in them that practical common sense, keenness of perception and delicacy of feeling which were characteristic of the kind-hearted and energetic Saint.

(6) “Sermons”. – These are divided into two classes: those composed previously to his consecration as a bishop, and which he himself wrote out in full; and the discourses he delivered when a bishop, of which, as a rule, only outlines and synopses have been preserved. Some of the latter, however, were taken down in extenso by his hearers. Pius IX, in his Bull proclaiming him Doctor of the Church calls the Saint “The Master and Restorer of Sacred Eloquence”. He is one of those who at the beginning of the seventeenth century formed the beautiful French language; he foreshadows and prepares the way for the great sacred orators about to appear. He speaks simply, naturally, and from his heart. To speak well we need only love well, was his maxim. His mind was imbued with the Holy Writings, which he comments, and explains, and applies practically with no less accuracy than grace.

(7) “Letters”, mostly letters of direction, in which the minister of God effaces himself and teaches the soul to listen to God, the only true director. The advice given is suited to all the circumstances and necessities of life and to all persons of good will. While trying to efface his own personality in these letters, the saint makes himself known to us and unconsciously discovers to us the treasures of his soul.

(8) A large number of very precious treatises or opuscula.

Migne (5 vols., quarto) and Vivès (12 vols., octavo, Paris) have edited the works of St. Francis de Sales. But the    edition which we may call definitive was published at Annecy in 1892, by the English Benedictine, Dom Mackey: a work remarkable for its typographical execution, the brilliant criticism that settles the text, the large quantity of hitherto unedited matter, and the interesting study accompanying each volume. Dom Mackey published twelve volumes. Father Navatel, S.J., is continuing the work. We may give here a brief résumé of the spiritual teaching contained in these works, of which the Church has said: “The writings of Francis de Sales, filled with celestial doctrine are a bright light in the Church, pointing out to souls an easy and safe way to arrive at the perfection of a Christian life.” (Breviarium Romanum, 29 January, lect. VI.)

There are two elements in the spiritual life: first, a struggle against our lower nature; secondly, union of our wills with God, in other words, penance and love. St. Francis de Sales looks chiefly to love. Not that he neglects penance, which is absolutely necessary, but he wishes it to be practised from a motive of love. He requires mortification of the senses, but he relies first on mortification of the mind, the will, and the heart. This interior mortification he requires to be unceasing and always accompanied by love. The end to be realized is a life of loving, simple, generous, and constant fidelity to the will of God, which is nothing else than our present duty. The model proposed is Christ, whom we must ever keep before our eyes. “You will study His countenance, and perform your actions as He did” (Introd., 2nd part, ch. i). The practical means of arriving at this perfection are: remembrance of the presence of God, filial prayer, a right intention in all our actions, and frequent recourse to God by pious and confiding ejaculations and interior aspirations.

Besides the Institute of the Visitation, which he founded, the nineteenth century has seen associations of the secular clergy and pious laymen, and several religious congregations, formed under the patronage of the holy Doctor. Among them we may mention the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales, of Annecy; the Salesians, founded at Turin by the Venerable Don Bosco, specially devoted to the Christian and technical education of the children of the poorer classes; the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, established at Troyes (France) by Father Brisson, who try to realize in the religious and priestly life the spirit of the holy Doctor, such as we have described it, and such as he bequeathed it to the nuns of the Visitation.

St. Francois de Sales giving the Rule of the Visitation to St. Jeanne de Chantal. Painting by Noël Hallé

St. Francois de Sales giving the Rule of the Visitation to St. Jeanne de Chantal. Painting by Noël Hallé

MACKEY, OEuvres de St François de Sales (Annecy, 1892-); CHARLES-AUGUSTE DE SALES, Histoire du Bienheureux François de Sales (2nd ed., Paris, 1885); CAMUS, Esprit de S. François de Sales (2d ed., Paris, 1833); and in Collection S. Honore d’Eylau (Paris, 1904); Vie de S. François de Sales by HAMON (Paris); PÉRENNÈS (Paris); DE MARGERIE (Paris); STROWSKI, St. François de Sales (Paris); Annales Salesiennes in Revu Mensuelle (Paris, 1906, etc.). MACKEY has given an English translation of the Letters to Persons in the World, and of the Letters to Persons in Religion (London); he has also published noteworthy articles on St. Francis de Sales as an Orator (London) and St. Francis de Sales as a Director in Am. Eccl. Rev. (1898).

RAPHAEL PERNIN (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Source Material: Nobility.org


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...