St. Isidore the Labourer

St. Isidore the Labourer

March 22

A Spanish daylabourer; b. near Madrid, about the year 1070; d. 15 May, 1130, at the same place. He was in the service of a certain Juan de Vargas on a farm in the vicinity of Madrid. Every morning before going to work he was accustomed to hear a Mass at one of the churches in Madrid. One day his fellow-labourers complained to their master that Isidore was always late for work in the morning. Upon investigation, so runs the legend, the master found Isidore at prayer, while an angel was doing the ploughing for him. On another occasion his master saw an angel ploughing on either side of him, so that Isidore’s work was equal to that of three of his fellow-labourers. Isidore is also said to have brought back to life the deceased daughter of his master and to have caused a fountain of fresh water to burst from the dry earth in order to quench the thirst of his master. He was married to Maria Torribia, a canonized saint, who is venerated in Spain as Maria della Cabeza, from the fact that her head (Spanish, cabeza) is often carried in procession especially in time of drought. They had one son, who died in his youth. On one occasion this son fell into a deep well and at the prayers of his parents the water of the well is said to have risen miraculously to the level of the ground, bringing the child with it, alive and well. Hereupon the parents made a vow of continence and lived in separate houses. Forty years after Isidore’s death, his body was transferred from the cemetery to the church of St. Andrew. He is said to have appeared to Alfonso of Castile, and to have shown him the hidden path by which he surprised the Moors and gained the victory of Las Nevas de Tolosa, in 1212. When King Philip III of Spain was cured of a deadly disease by touching the relics of the saint, the king replaced the old reliquary by a costly silver one. He was canonized by Gregory XV, along with Sts. Ignatius, Francis Xavier, Teresa, and Philip Neri, on 12 March, 1622. St. Isidore is widely venerated as the patron of peasants and day-labourers. The cities of Madrid, Leon, Saragossa, and Seville also, honour him as their patron. His feast is celebrated on 15 May.

Permanent link to this article: http://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/22/st-isidore-the-labourer/

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart; Give me right faith, sure hope, and perfect charity. Fill me with understanding and knowledge, that I may fulfill your command.

-St. Francis of Assisi

Permanent link to this article: http://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/22/prayer-of-st-francis-of-assisi/

Blessed Mother Teresa On God’s Mercy and Forgiveness

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Saint of the day: Enda of Aran – March 21

Saint of the day: Enda of Aran

 The following comes from the CNA:

On March 21, four days after the feast day of Ireland‘s patron Saint Patrick, the Catholic Church honors Saint Enda of Aran, a warrior-turned-monk considered to be one of the founders of Irish monasticism.

Born during the fifth century, Enda inherited control of a large territory in present-day Northern Ireland from his father Conall. His sister Fanchea, however, had already embraced consecrated religious life with a community in Meath, and looked unfavorably on the battles and conquests of her brother.

Enda is said to have made a deal with his sister, promising to change his ways if he could marry one of the young women of her convent. But this was a ruse on Fanchea’s part, as the promised girl soon died. Fanchea forced him to view the girl’s corpse, to teach him that he, too, would face death and judgment.

In this way, Fanchea – whom the Church also remembers as a saint – succeeded in turning her brother not only from violence, but even from marriage. He left Ireland for several years, during which time he became a monk and was ordained as a priest.

Upon his return to Ireland, he petitioned his King Aengus of Munster – who was married to another of Enda’s sisters – to grant him land for a monastic settlement on the Aran Islands, a beautiful but austere location near Galway Bay off Ireland’s west coast.

During its early years, Enda’s island mission had around 150 monks. As the community grew, he divided up the territory between his disciples, who founded their own monasteries to accommodate the large number of vocations.

Enda did not found a religious order in the modern sense, but he did hold a position of authority and leadership over the monastic settlements of Aran – which became known as “Aran of the Saints,” renowned for the monks’ strict rule of life and passionate love for God.

While living on an Irish island, Enda’s monks imitated the asceticism and simplicity of the earliest Egytian desert hermits.

The monks of Aran lived alone in their stone cells, slept on the ground, ate together in silence, and survived by farming and fishing. St. Enda’s monastic rule, like those of St. Basil in the Greek East and St. Benedict in the Latin West, set aside many hours for prayer and the study of scripture.

During his own lifetime, Enda’s monastic settlement on the Aran islands became an important pilgrimage destination, as well as a center for the evangelizations of surrounding areas. At least two dozen canonized individuals had some association with “Aran of the Saints.”

St. Enda himself died in old age around the year 530. An early chronicler of his life declared that it would “never be known until the day of judgment, the number of saints whose bodies lie in the soil of Aran,” on account of the onetime-warrior’s response to God’s surprising call.

Permanent link to this article: http://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/21/saint-of-the-day-enda-of-aran-march-21/

A Prayer for Priests

A PRAYER FOR PRIESTS

Lord Jesus, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament,
and living perpetually among us through Your Priests,
grant that the words of Your Priests may be only Your words,
that their gestures be only Your gestures,
and that their lives be a true reflection of Your life.

Grant that they may be men who speak to God on behalf of His people,
and speak to His people of God.
Grant that they be courageous in service,
serving the Church as she asks to be served.

Grant that they may be men who witness to eternity in our time,
traveling on the paths of history in Your steps,
and doing good for all.

Grant that they may be faithful to their commitments,
zealous in their vocation and mission,
clear mirrors of their own identity,
and living the joy of the gift they have received.

We pray that Your Holy Mother, Mary,
present throughout Your life,
may be ever present in the life of Your Priests. Amen

Permanent link to this article: http://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/21/a-prayer-for-priests/

The Holy Spirit and Divine Life

 

Excerpts from:

Ioannes Paulus PP. II
DOMINUM ET VIVIFICANTEM

On the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church
and the World

John Paul IIPART I – THE SPIRIT OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON, GIVEN TO THE CHURCH

6. The Risen Christ Says: “Receive the Holy Spirit”

At the Jordan, Isaiah’s proclamation is given a concrete form: Jesus of Nazareth is the one who comes in the Holy Spirit and who brings the Spirit as the gift proper to his own Person, in order to distribute that gift by means of this humanity: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”76

Coming from the Father the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father.80 The Holy Spirit is first sent as a gift for the Son who was made man, in order to fulfill the messianic prophecies. After the “departure” of Christ the Son, the Johannine text says that the Holy Spirit “will come” directly (it is His new mission), to complete the work of the Son. Thus it will be He who brings to fulfillment the new era of the history of salvation.

The gift made by the Son completes the revelation and giving of the Eternal Love: the Holy Spirit, who in the inscrutable depths of the Divinity is a Person-Gift, through the work of the Son, that is to say by means of the Paschal Mystery, is given to the Apostles and to the Church in a new way, and through them is given to humanity and the whole world.

“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you,…My Spirit”83; and on the other hand he fulfills His own promise made to the Apostles with the words: “If I go, I will send him to you.”84 It is he: the Spirit of truth, the Paraclete sent by the Risen Christ to transform us into His Own Risen Image.85

PART III – THE SPIRIT WHO GIVES LIFE

 “…the divine filiation planted in the human soul through sanctifying grace is the work of the Holy Spirit. “It is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”215 Sanctifying grace is the principle and source of man’s new life: divine, supernatural life.

“… there is a supernatural “adoption,” of which the source is the Holy Spirit, love and gift. As such he is given to man. And in the superabundance of the uncreated gift there begins in the heart of all human beings that particular created gift whereby they “become partakers of the divine nature.”219

4. The Holy Spirit Strengthens the “Inner Man”

The hidden breath of the divine Spirit enables the human spirit to open in its turn before the saving and sanctifying self-opening of God. Through the gift of grace, which comes from the Holy Spirit, man enters a “new life,” is brought into the supernatural reality of the divine life itself and becomes a “dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit,” a living temple of God.253 For through the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son come to him and take up their abode with him.254 In the communion of grace with the Trinity, man’s “living area” is broadened and raised up to the supernatural level of divine life. Man lives in God and by God: he lives “according to the Spirit,” and “sets his mind on the things of the Spirit.”

59. Man’s intimate relationship with God in the Holy Spirit also enables him to understand himself, his own humanity, in a new way. Thus that image and likeness of God which man is from his very beginning is fully realized.255

“…precisely by reason of this divine likeness which “shows that on earth man…is the only creature that God wishes for himself”…

(Vatican II adds that the Church is “a sacrament. . . of the unity of all mankind. “Obviously it is a question of the unity which the human race which in itself is differentiated in various ways-has from God and in God. This unity has its roots in the mystery of creation and acquires a new dimension in the mystery of the Redemption, which is ordered to universal salvation. Since God “wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,”279 the Redemption includes all humanity and in a certain way all of creation. In the same universal dimension of Redemption the Holy Spirit is acting, by virtue of the “departure of Christ.” Therefore the Church, rooted through her own mystery in the Trinitarian plan of salvation with good reason regards herself as the “sacrament of the unity of the whole human race.” She knows that she is such through the power of the Holy Spirit, of which power she is a sign and instrument in the fulfillment of God’s salvific plan.)

The Holy Spirit is the gift that comes into man’s heart together with prayer.  … the Holy Spirit not only enables us to pray, but guides us “from within” in prayer: He is present in our prayer and gives it a divine dimension.283 Thus “he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the Will of God.” 284 Prayer through the power of the Holy Spirit becomes the ever more mature expression of the new man, who by means of this prayer participates in the divine life.

6. The Spirit and the Bride Say: “Come!”

It is the eschatological hope, the hope of definitive fulfillment in God, the hope of the Eternal Kingdom, that is brought about by participation in the life of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit, given to the Apostles as the Counselor, is the guardian and animator of this hope in the heart of the Church. …

CONCLUSION

“…she (the Church) implores the joy and consolation that only He (the Holy Spirit), the true Counselor, can bring by coming down into people’s inmost hearts295; the Church implores the grace of the virtues that merit heavenly glory, implores eternal salvation, in the full communication of the divine life, to which the Father has eternally “predestined” human beings, created through love in the image and likeness of the Most Holy Trinity.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Permanent link to this article: http://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/20/the-holy-spirit-and-divine-life/

Our Divinization: O What a Deal!

Our Divinization: O What a Deal!

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Posted on January 4, 2014 by Padre

It turned a few heads at Mass on Christmas Day when in my homily, among other things, I reiterated a line of Christology dating back to the Fathers of the Church, often formulated as: “God became man, that man might become God.”

Man becoming God?  Really? To many ears in the congregation, it probably sounded like a throwback to the New Age movement.

That just goes to show that this truth is as startling today as it was back in the day of Irenaeus, or Athanasius or Leo the Great.

At First Vespers for the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God on January 1st, the Church prays this antiphon that dates back to the fifth century A.D.:

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

O marvelous exchange! In Latin, it’s O Admirabile Commercium, which in later centuries was beautifully transformed into a five-part motet by Palestrina.

The late theologian Franz Josef van Beeck observes that the antiphon “alludes to the condemnation, at the first Council of Constantinople (AD 381) of Apollinarius’ denial of Christs’ human soul…[and] the strong emphasis on Mary and her virginity strengthens the impression that the Latin text goes back to a Greek original composed shortly after the Council of Ephesus” (God Encountered, Vol. 1, 87).

The antiphon is echoed in the prayer which the priest says quietly as he prepares the gifts at the altar at the offertory of the Mass: “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the Divinity of Christ who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.”

The “marvelous exchange” here referred to is something that would send the Fathers of the Church practically into ecstasy—and it should have the same effect on us.

It’s a truth that made St. Leo the Great famously exclaim, “O, Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s Own Nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition.”   And says the great St. Athanasius:

[God] gave Himself to us through His Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the Divine Nature. . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are Divinized.

Divinized.

Yes, but not in some New Age sense. The truth, rather, is that in Jesus, divine nature and human nature have been intimately brought together; and this has cosmic consequences for us:  it means we can come to share in God’s Own Divinity.

And ‘O Marvelous Exchange’ has been a way of expressing our excitement about that for nearly sixteen hundred years.   It’s an expression that historically emerges from a context in which goods were exchanged by means of a bartering system; ‘commercium’ is the root of our English word ‘commerce.’ Today, we might say, in more earthy language,  “O What a Deal!”  God becomes man, so that we can become God-like!

As Catechism 460 puts it quoting both Irenaeus and Athanasius:

The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature” (Cf. II Peter 1:4): “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God” (Irenaeus, Adversus haereses 3.19.1). “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God” (Athanasius, De Incarnatione, 54.3).

And even St. Thomas Aquinas does not shrink from an audacious formulation:  “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in His Divinity, assumed our nature, so that He, made man, might make men gods.”  He goes on to teach that the foretaste of this divinization in our present state is the experience of sanctifying grace in our lives which is itself, he explains, “nothing other than a kind of shared impression of the Divine Nature” upon us.

The Incarnation of the Son of God does not only mean that God becomes humanly present, in the flesh, in Jesus of Nazareth, but that he gives us a Divine calling at our own creation, and a capacitation through Baptism, one day, to attain a destiny that far exceeds the possibilities of human nature considered in itself.  In Heaven, we will be fully who we were meant to be from all Eternity, daughters and sons of God living in intimacy with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and in the joyful company of all the elect in the bliss of Heavenly Union for all Eternity—that is our “divinization.”  And that is at the heart of the Good News about Jesus, and Christmas. O, what a deal!

Imagine what 2014 could be like… if we really let this truth sink in.

Fr. Thomas Berg

Professor of Moral Theology
Saint Joseph’s Seminary
Archdiocese of New York

Permanent link to this article: http://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/19/our-divinization-o-what-a-deal/

Feast of Saint Joseph – March 19

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Permanent link to this article: http://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/18/feast-of-saint-joseph-march-19/

Lent and the Communion of Saints

Lent and the Communion of Saints

By now we are well into our observance of Lent and the penitential practices that come with them.  As I wrote in my last message, we do not walk alone in our journey with Christ, but are united with all the members of Christ’s Mystical Body the Church.  All the sacrifices and aggravations, big and small, that we endure in faith and cheerfulness have a positive effect on others.  We become imitators of St. Paul who wrote that his sufferings were “filling up what was lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” (Colossians 1:24) This is not to suggest that Jesus’ redemptive death was not enough to save the world, but rather that in His plan God has made us active participants in the work of salvation.
The Church is a reality of earth, purgatory and heaven.  We on earth are pilgrims on the journey of faith.  Those in purgatory are experiencing the final purification before entering into the direct presence of God.  Those in heaven see our Lord face to face and are already rejoicing in His glory.  We should not think of these as “places” separated by walls.  These profound realities are interconnected mysteriously and are in communion with each other, all sharing the spiritual goods of the One Church.  The saints in heaven pray for us as one friend may pray for another, and we should not be afraid to ask for their help. We assist the souls in purgatory on their journey by our prayers and hardships offered for their cause.   Some spiritual writers have suggested that those in purgatory are already praying for us now out of gratitude. What is sure is that they will not forget us when they finally reach paradise.  Our efforts can also help to bring sinners back to Christ here on earth.  This relationship that I write of what we call the Communion of Saints that we profess at every Sunday Mass in the Creed.
So when we are faithful to our Lenten practices and when we endure the difficulties of daily life with joy we are doing more than helping ourselves on the road to heaven.  We are sharing with others a precious gift.  So be faithful! Don’t be discouraged into thinking that Lent is too long and our efforts are wasted!  With the Grace of Jesus Christ all is possible.  He is the one who takes our works and perfects them for the good of the entire Church, which is His Body.

Permanent link to this article: http://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/17/2797/

Feast of Saint Patrick – March 17

FEAST DAY OF SAINT PATRICK

March 17

click image for much more information about St. Patrick

The beautiful prayer of St. Patrick, popularly known as “St. Patrick’s Breast-Plate”, is supposed to have been composed by him in preparation for this victory over Paganism. The following is a literal translation from the old Irish text:

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God’s Power to guide me,
God’s Might to uphold me,
God’s Wisdom to teach me,
God’s Eye to watch over me,
God’s Ear to hear me,
God’s Word to give me speech,
God’s Hand to guide me,
God’s Way to lie before me,
God’s Shield to shelter me,
God’s Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://bookofheaven.org/2014/03/16/feast-of-saint-patrick-march-17/