Author: tomlirish

THE ASCENSION MEANS JESUS LED OUR HUMAN EXISTENCE INTO GOD’S PRESENCE

 

(The Acsension by Rembrandt, 1636, Public Domain, U.S.A.)

                       “For our citizenship is in heaven”  (Philippians 3:20)

Jesus’ Ascension establishes humanity’s true destiny in Heaven. I picture Jesus returning to the Father in Heaven, saying, “FatherMission Accomplished,” and then saying, “Father, let us breathe forth our Holy Spirit upon the world through my risen and Glorified body.” It was good, then, for Jesus to ascend back to the Father so that the Holy Spirit could be given to us to guide us, likewise, to our heavenly home.“If I go [back to Heaven],” says Jesus, “I will send him [the Holy Spirit] to you” (John 16:7).

One lesson we clearly glean from our Lord’s Ascension is that the entire trajectory of Jesus’ earthly life was Heaven. He, Jesus, is the first born of many brethren (Romans 8:29). Therefore, the absolute true meaning of life is Heaven. Saint Paul says it beautifully: “Our citizenship is in Heaven” (Philippians 3:20). To truly understand the meaning of life we must get this principle straight. Take a look at your Passport: I hope it says “Citizen of Heaven.” Heaven is your true home. We are pilgrims here on planet earth.

Another lesson we glean initially from our Lord’s Resurrection, and ultimately from his Ascension, is the incredibly profound meaning of the the ultimate destiny of the human body. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read the following very significant words: “The Father’s power ‘raised up’ Christ his Son and by doing so perfectly introduced his Son’s humanity, including his body, into the Trinity. Jesus is conclusively revealed as ‘Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead’ ” (CCC 648, my emphasis). “Christ’s Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence he will come again….” (CCC 665). Consequently, any claim that Christianity devalues the body or human nature is misguided. Pope Benedict XVI, in a homily in 2005, stated: “Christ’s Ascension means … that He belongs entirely to God. He, the Eternal Son, led our human existence into God’s presence, taking with Him flesh and blood in a transfigured form. The human being finds room in God; through Christ, the human being was introduced into the very life of God.” C.S. Lewis adds:

“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”

Christ’s Ascension also signifies the beginning of the final hour of human history. By Christ’s Ascension into Heaven the final age – indeed the final “hour” – of the world has begun. The Catechism states: “Since the Ascension God’s plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at ‘the last hour’. ‘Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect’ ” (CCC 670). All Christians are living in “end times,” which means that we should be diligently preparing for the return of the Lord who is already present to us through the Holy Eucharist. 

Finally, our Lord’s Ascension shows that He is the King and High Priest of all creation. There are powerful words in the Epistle to the Hebrews about Jesus’ ongoing priestly ministry in Heaven (words that should really give us great encouragement!). In the seventh chapter of Hebrews we read: “… because Jesus lives forever [in Heaven], he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25; CCC 519). Is it not incredibly encouraging to know that Jesus is always living to make intercession for you! Does not that revelation of his incessant intercession for you fill your heart with confidence!

Moreover, the author of Hebrews identifies Jesus’ never-ending priesthood in Heaven as the true fulfillment of the Order of Melchizedek, the very first priesthood mentioned in the Old Testament (see Genesis 14). In fact, the Order of Melchizedek is mentioned multiple times in Hebrews! This is a very significant point for Catholics because the “thanksgiving offering” made by the priest Melchizedek in the Old Testament was that of bread and wine (Genesis 14:18), which constituted a “communion sacrifice” per Dr. Scott Hahn. Jesus is identified in Hebrews as “the mediator of a new covenant” (Hebrews 12:24). The true sacramental sign of this New Covenant is identified by Jesus as the Holy Eucharist (“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” – Luke 22:20). As such we are advised in Hebrews not to neglect ‘to meet together” for the New Testament liturgy (Hebrews 10:25), the Mass, of our High Priest, Jesus Christ (see CCC 692). Jesus ascended into Heaven is the true High Priest at every Mass.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Sources: Significantly, Luke 22:20 is the only place in the Gospels where Jesus uses the term, “New Covenant.” For the material in this note on Hebrews and the High Priesthood of Jesus, as it pertains to the Order of Melchizedek and the Eucharist, I am relying predominantly on Dr. Scott Hahn and The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. See also Dr. Hahn’s audio commentary on Hebrews. The quote from Pope Benedict XVI found at

Ascension Thursday and meeting Christ face-to-face 

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

All rights reserved.

Any ads following this note are by WordPress and not CatholicStrength.

SAINT PAUL TEACHES WE CAN OFFER UP OUR PERSONAL SUFFERING TO GOD FOR THE SPIRITUAL BENEFIT OF OTHERS

 

(An Icon painting of Saint Paul)

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:17)

“Christ does not explain in the abstract the reasons for suffering, but before all else he says: “Follow me!”. Come! Take part through your suffering in this work of saving the world, a salvation achieved through my suffering! Through my Cross. Gradually, as the individual takes up his cross, spiritually uniting himself to the Cross of Christ, the salvific meaning of suffering is revealed before him” (Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Doloris, 26, by Pope John Paul II)

There is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a remarkable paragraph that speaks to the amazing power God has given us, by our prayers and good actions, to merit most amazing graces for others. If the paragraph in question is sound theology, as we know it must be, then it would be good for us to take advantage of this spiritual solidarity and use God’s grace to merit good for others!  Here is that paragraph from the Catechism:

2010 “Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.” (See also CCC 307, 618, 953, 956, and 1508)

Now in Saint Paul we see a clear Biblical basis for this Catholic doctrine of meriting good for others with specific reference to the concept or doctrine of redemptive suffering. I am especially going to take a look at two striking passages –  one from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, and the other from his Letter to the Colossians (using the Living Letters translation, which is a simplified/paraphrased  translation recommended by Billy Graham, which can easily be compared to traditional translations).

PHILIPPIANS 
At 2 Philippians 2: 17-18 Saint Paul discusses the possibility of offering his life as an oblation for the community. Here is what he says:

“And if my lifeblood is, so to speak, to be poured out over your faith which I am offering up to God as a sacrifice — that is, if I am to die for you – even then I will be glad, and will share my joy with each of you. For you should be happy about this too and rejoice with me for having this privilege of dying for you.”

COLOSSIANS  And at Colossians 1:24 Saint Paul says to the community there:

“But part of my work is to suffer for you; and I am glad, for I am helping to finish up the remainder of Christ’s sufferings for his body, the church.”

We can see, therefore, from the passages cited above, that at Calvary Christ merited for members of his mystical body the privilege of joining in His super-abundant, all-encompassing suffering for the benefit of others.

Paul’s understanding of redemptive suffering flows from his insight that believers in Christ form one organism, or one body, united to Christ who is the head (“all of us, in union with Christ, form one body” – Romans 12: 5). Paul says elsewhere at 2 Corinthians 1: 5-6 (RSV):

“For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation….”

Still further at 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 Paul states:

“In all things we suffer tribulation: but are not distressed. We are straitened: but are not destitute. We suffer persecution: but are not forsaken. We are cast down: but we perish not. Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake: that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us: but life in you.”

So in the Catholic church, following the teaching of Paul on the value of redemptive suffering, we are urged to unite our own suffering to the Cross of Christ for the welfare of others. Pope John Paul II made this point about the value of redemptive suffering in a trip he made to Poland, stating:

“Therefore, uniting myself with all of you who are suffering throughout the land of Poland, in your homes, in the hospitals, the clinics, the dispensaries, the sanatoria—wherever you may be—I beg you to make use of the cross that has become part of each one of you for salvation. I pray for you to have light and spiritual strength in your suffering, that you may not lose courage but may discover for yourselves the meaning of suffering and may be able to relieve others by prayer and sacrifice. And do not forget me and the whole of the Church, and the cause of the Gospel and peace that I am serving by Christ’s will. You who are weak and humanly incapable, be a source of strength for your brother and father who is at your side in prayer and heart.” (quote from Father Hardon)

And in her mystical life Saint Faustina, the “secretary of Divine Mercy,” experienced this revelation from Jesus:

“I saw the Lord Jesus nailed upon the cross amidst great torments. A soft moan issued from His heart. After some time He said “I thirst. I thirst for the salvation of souls. Help Me, My daughter, to save souls. Join your sufferings to My Passion and offer them to the heavenly Father for sinners.” (Diary 1032)

The old Catholic practice of making a “morning offering” of the trials and tribulations one suffers during the day, for one’s own benefit or for the benefit of others is, no doubt, based on strong Biblical foundations. Perhaps tomorrow you are going to find yourself, as someone once said, “nailed to your desk,” doing hours of paperwork that you would love to chuck out the window. In union with Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, and in union with all the masses being said throughout the world, you can offer up your hardships and daily duties for the benefit of some soul who desperately needs grace. Don’t waste your sufferings.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

All rights reserved.

Any ads following this note are by WordPress and not CatholicStrength.

TEN PRACTICAL PRAYER RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

(The Angelus by Millet, 1859, Public Domain, U.S.A.)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) was prepared and promulgated under the papacy of Saint Pope John Paul II and he indicated in the document itself that it is “a sure and authentic reference text for the teaching of Catholic doctrine….” The Catechism of the Catholic Church is divided into four main sections, and the entire fourth section is devoted to Christian prayer – specifically paragraphs 2558 through 2865. Reading the entire portion of the CCC on prayer is very valuable, but here in a quick note are ten or more important points on prayer as set forth in the CCC.

1. Prayer is vitally necessary. Indeed, prayer and the Christian life are inseparable. Without perseverance in prayer, we risk falling back into the slavery of sin (CCC 2744, 2745).  It is the life of prayer that places us in relationship with God (CCC 2565).

2. Humility is the foundation of prayer. We should go to God in prayer as “a beggar,” asking Him to bestow on us “the gift” of prayer (CCC 2559).

3. An effective means to begin prayer is to consciously place ourselves in the presence of God (CCC 2803).  St. Francis de Sales states: “Begin all your prayers, whether mental or vocal, in the presence of God. Keep to this rule without any exception and you will quickly see how helpful it will be.”

4. After placing ourselves in the presence of God, the basic movement of Christian prayer should start with adoration (CCC 2626).  In this type of prayer, we adore the Trinitarian God who is the source of every blessing.

5. Before turning to prayers of petition, where we ask God for help with our needs, it is essential to first ask God for mercy and forgiveness. This “is a prerequisite for righteous and pure prayer.” This can be done simply by saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am a sinner” (CCC 2631). Then in “boldness” and “deep faith,” tell God what it is you need (CCC 2610), asking the Father in the name of Jesus (CCC 2614).

6. During our prayer time, it is appropriate to pray for others (intercession), 2634, and to spend time praising God “simply because HE IS” (CCC 2639).

7. An effective means to end prayer is in Thanksgiving, thanking God, in the name of Christ Jesus, for all He has done for you, and even for your trials and tribulations (CCC 2638).

8. An effective means to enter into meditative prayer is to read the Bible or the writings of the great Saints in order to to stir our thoughts, imagination, emotions and desires towards the love of Jesus Christ (CCC 2705 – 2708).

9. Ejaculatory prayer. The Catechism of the Catholic Church specifically recommends that, throughout the day, we invoke the name of “Jesus,” which contains the entire economy of salvation, and also that we invoke the Holy Spirit saying, “Come, Holy Spirit” (CCC 2665-2672).  It is the Holy Spirit acting within us that makes prayer possible (CCC 2672). The Catechism of the Catholic Church also highly recommends prayer to and with the Virgin Mary, stating in paragraph 2679 the following:

“Mary is the perfect Orans (pray-er), a figure of the Church. When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men. Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus’ mother into our homes,39 for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.

10. How important is prayer? Those who pray will be saved; those who do not pray will be lost (see CCC 2744 quoting St. Alphonsus Liguori).

As mentioned, the entire fourth section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is devoted to Christian prayer – paragraphs 2558 through 2865 – and is well worth reading.

Remember, the best way to pray is to pray! Lift your heart to God!

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

All rights reserved.

Any ads following this note are by WordPress and not CatholicStrength.

 

 

AN EFFECTIVE PRINCIPLE OF SPIRITUAL ADVANCEMENT

 

“You must run in such a way that you may be victorious.” (1 Corinthians 9:24)

I would like to discuss with you in this note a great and necessary principle of spiritual advancement. The important principle I am referring to can be stated as follows:

THE MORE A PERSON PROMPTLY MORTIFIES HIS EVIL INCLINATIONS, THE MORE THE LIFE OF GRACE AND CHARITY WILL GROW IN HIM

We neglect this all-important principle of spiritual advancement at great risk to our growth in holiness and charity. Thus, if we fail to promptly mortify the evil inclination of bitterness or resentment toward another person, then more and more this bitterness and resentment takes root in our heart and soul and significantly impedes our spiritual development. If we are going to grow in charity, if we are going to grow in the love of God and neighbor, then we must learn to promptly mortify our evil thoughts and inclinations as soon as they rear their ugly heads! “We take captive every thought”, says St. Paul, “and make it obedient to Christ [and his law of charity] (2 Corinthians 10:5).”

Prompt mortification of our evil thoughts and inclinations is a great principle of the spiritual life, and we would be living a type of illusory spiritual life if we felt we were not called to practice it. This mortification involves a “stripping off of the old nature” with its sinful tendencies (Colossians 3:9), and a “putting on of a new nature” in “the image of its Creator” (Col. 3:10). In the context of this note, we are talking primarily of mental, not bodily, mortification: we are talking about what psychologists might call cognitive training, and in traditional Catholic parlance it is called mortification of the mind or mortification of the will. Whatever it might be called it involves a two step process of:

1. Seeing and identifying in the mind an evil inclination or thought; and

2. Mortifying or casting out the evil thought just as quickly and effectively as possible.

As we train the mind to engage in this cognitive process through repeated, virtuous acts of mental mortification, it will develop into an amazingly healthy habit that purifies the mind of its evil or sinful tendencies. When we begin to consistently root out all these evil inclinations, like lust and malice and envy, we therefore begin to allow Christian charity to take “a deeper root in our will.” And the essential development of the Christian life is growth in charity: growth in the love of God and neighbor.

In another note, I present this concept of the mortification of the mind in a slightly different manner as formulated by a great Catholic spiritual writer, Father Lallemant, who speaks about “purity of heart” accomplishing so much in the spiritual life. See the following link:

HOLD MY HEART UP TO THE LIGHT: PRACTICING PURITY OF …

All of the great Catholic spiritual writers talk about the great spiritual principle of mortification, and it is a topic that needs to be better addressed at the current time.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Ref. See link directly above.

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

All rights reserved.

Any ads following this note are by WordPress and not CatholicStrength.

 

 

 

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT PORTRAYS MARY AS A POWERFUL INTERCESSOR

 

“And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the child leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41)

If God’s own messenger, the Archangel Gabriel, hadn’t called Mary by the descriptive title, “Hail, full of grace” (Luke 1: 28).

And if Mary had not been covered by the Holy Spirit’s “unspeakable shadow” (see Luke 1:35).

And if St. Luke, in describing Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth, hadn’t drawn a stunning comparison between the Virgin Mary and the all-holy Ark of the Covenant (see link below); and if Mary’s visit (with Jesus in utero) to Elizabeth hadn’t unleashed a veritable explosion of grace; and if, at the sound of Mary’s voice, Elizabeth had not been filled with the Holy Spirit and boldly proclaimed Mary to be “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:41-45); and if Mary, so uniquely full of grace, did not proclaim that “my soul does magnify the Lord” (Luke 1:46).

And if Simeon the prophet had not peered down through the decades to see that Mary, who had brought the baby Jesus to the Temple, was predestined to share closely in Jesus’ passion, saying to Mary, “And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2: 35).

And if Mary’s role as a powerful intercessor hadn’t been so clearly manifested at the wedding at Cana when she moved her Son to work His first public miracle against His own will since His “hour had not yet come” (John 2:1-12).

And if the Lord Jesus Himself hadn’t bequeathed Mary to us (from the cross) as our spiritual Mother as He was meriting our very salvation, saying, “Behold, your mother” (John 19: 25-27) as she stood faithfully at the foot of the cross in fulfillment of Simeon’s prophecy.

And if Saint Luke hadn’t specifically pointed out that Mary was present with the Apostles in the Cenacle in preparation for Pentecost” and the “birth of the Church” (quotations from Pope John Paul II; see Acts 1:14).

And if Saint John hadn’t seen Mary in a vision of heaven, “clothed with the sun” and wearing her Queenly crown of twelve stars (Revelation 12:1-2); and if Old Testament typology and New Testament fulfillment didn’t point to Mary as the New Eve and Queen Mother (see especially Scott Hahn’s masterful book, Hail Holy Queen).

And if the testimony of the Catholic saints didn’t overwhelmingly verify beyond all peradventure the amazing assistance Mary provides to those who accept her spiritual motherhood (which Jesus merited for us), leading them to greater union with Jesus, perhaps then you could persuade me not to accept all of the beautiful and sublime teachings about her by the Roman Catholic Church, the only church in Christendom which can trace its origin directly back to Jesus and the apostles (and thus to Mary herself, Mother of the Savior).

“This maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, and lasts until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into the happiness of their true home” (Lumen Gentium, 62, Documents of Vatican II).

Tom Mulcahy, M.A. (on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima)

P.S. Perhaps, gramatically, each paragraph should end with a semicolon, since I originally wrote this as one entire sentence.

Sources:
Various Scott Hahn tapes including “Mary: Holy Mother,” and his book, Hail Holy Queen; various Father Faber books (I believe he used the beautiful phrase, “unspeakable shadow,” quoted above); internet article Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant (This Rock: October 2005); and other Catholic apologetic materials. See also, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible; Dictionary of Mary; and by Pope John Paul II (click on link ):
Mary’s presence in the Upper Room at Jerusalem – Totus2us

Image: Visitation, from Altarpiece of the Virgin (St Vaast Altarpiece) by Jacques Daret c. 1434 – 1435. Staatliche Museen, Berlin. Public Domain, U.S.A.

Link: Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant | Catholic Answers

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

All rights reserved.

Any ads following this note are by WordPress and not CatholicStrength.

THE VIRGIN MARY: A SURE MEANS OF PERSEVERANCE IN THE LOVE OF JESUS


 “But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43)

“The beauty of Jesus is inexhaustible. Like the Vision of God in Heaven, it is ever diversified, yet always the same, always cherished as an old and familiar joy, yet ever surprising and refreshing the spirit as being, in truth, perpetually new. He is beautiful always, beautiful everywhere, in the disfigurement of the Passion as well as in the splendor of the Resurrection, amid the horrors of the Scourging, as well amid the indescribable attractions of Bethlehem. But above all things our Blessed Lord is beautiful in His Mother.

If we love Him we must love her. We must know her in order to know Him. As there is no true devotion to His Sacred Humanity, which is not mindful of His Divinity, so there is no adequate love of the Son, which dis-joins Him from His Mother….

Now it is our daily task to love Jesus more and more…and unerring experience has told us that we never advance more rapidly in the love of the Son than when we travel by the Mother, and that what we have built most solidly in Jesus has been built with Mary. There is no time lost in seeking Him, if we go at once to Mary; for He is always there, always at home. The darkness in His mysteries become light when we hold it to her light, which is His light as well. She is the short road to Him. She has the “grand entry” to Him. She is His Esther, and speedy and full are the answers to the petitions which her hands present.” (From: Chapter One of “The Foot of the Cross” by F.W. Faber, slightly adapted, emphasis added)

Comment: The unerring wisdom of the saints and the church is that devotion to Mary is a sure and safe means of persevering in our love of Jesus. The first beats of our Lord’s Sacred Heart took place in her womb, and her own heart was pierced by a sword when she stood faithfully by Him at the foot of the Cross, when he bequeathed her to us, saying, “Behold, Your Mother.” If Jesus has given us such a tremendous gift – His very mother, the Mother of God – than we should have every confidence in approaching her tender, maternal heart with love and true devotion.

The spiritual journey wearies and tires us. Discouragements seem to lurk around every corner. Our great need is for perseverance. Devotion to Mary is a tried and tested means of perseverance, according to the experience of the saints.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Image: Our Lady of Good Counsel by Pasqualle Sarullo (Public Domain, U.S.A.).

All rights reserved.

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

Any ads following this note are by WordPress and not CatholicStrength.

GOD’S INFINITE BEAUTY

                            

“One momentary flash of [God’s] beauty would separate body and soul by the vehemence of the ecstasy it would cause”  (F.W. Faber, The Creator and the Creature, p.150).

Reflection:

I was at a wedding reception this past weekend, and each of the tables had a beautiful bouquet of red roses. As I was looking at one of the individual roses in one of the bouquets, I was amazed at how beautiful the rose was: the color, the shape, the beauty of the rose was exquisite.  And then later that weekend Chris (my wife, who loves to buy flowers) brought home four roses which she placed in a vase. Again, as I looked at one of the roses, I was just overwhelmed by its beauty. Later, as I was reflecting on this experience, it occurred to me that as beautiful as a rose is (coming, as it does, from God’s creative hand), it pales mightily in comparison to the infinite beauty of God.

I was thinking, “What does it mean to say that God is infinitely beautiful?” Who can fathom the depth of such beauty? Who really can understand how beautiful God is? Could our senses handle such an experience of God’s beauty? And though we see dimly now as in a mirror, the great promise is that we shall one day see HIM!, in an experience of unimaginable beatific delight. Will not that first gaze on Him who is Infinite beauty last throughout eternity, and fill us with such joy and awe that we will hardly know how to express our gratitude for all that He has done for us? Yet then we will be safely home and our hearts will be filled with the greatest gratitude because they will be filled with His love!

The great commandment is not just to love Him, but to love Him with all our strength and with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. God is very demanding of our love! Who can fathom why He is so desirous of our love? What is our obligation when it comes to loving God?

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deut. 6:4-5 (Old Testament)

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matt. 22:37 (New Testament)

How do we discharge this duty? Who can do it! A few minutes of prayer and already we’re distracted. Yet we have to try. The Holy Spirit will help us. Father Faber says that one way to increase our love for God is to meditate with joy on God’s attributes, like:

God’s Infinite Holiness

God’s Divine Mercy

His supernal Beauty

God’s Limitless Joy in His own inner life, etc.

In The Creator and the Creature Faber also discusses seven different  types of love that will increase our means of loving God, starting with the love of God’s goodness (benevolence) and ending with the love of adoration (chapter 3). Faber is relaying to us some of the ways the saints increased their love of God. Faber spent an enormous amount of time studying how the saints grew in holiness, and he encourages us to try some of these spiritual exercises that reaped immense benefits to many of the saints. Have we not all had the experience of looking at the ocean and sensing by analogy God’s infinity? To contemplate these wonderful attributes of God is to grow more in love with Him. After all, we were made to love Him. The great work of our lives is to love (and serve) Him more, and more, and….

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

P.S. This post was written a number of years ago.

All rights reserved.

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

Any ads following this note are by WordPress and not CatholicStrength.

FROM 1942 UNTIL 1955 THIS SAINTLY WOMAN LIVED ON THE EUCHARIST ALONE

 Alexandrina_de_Balazar

“Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me” (John 6:57)

I bring to your attention Blessed Alexandrina da Costa (pictured above). She lived exclusively on the Eucharist for 13 years and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 26, 2004, now himself a Saint! To understand the incredible magnitude of this Eucharistic miracle, consider for a moment that a human being would be lucky to survive even one week without water.

There is a beautiful book about her by Francis Johnston in which is revealed the revelation she received that many people would become “ardently Eucharistic” through devotion to her. Please note that she was placed in a hospital for forty days and under intense observation was observed to keep her Eucharistic fast, living only on the Bread of Life, which was her sustenance (the official report of Dr. Araujo “confirmed the prodigy as ‘scientifically inexplicable,’ [and stated] it is absolutely certain that during forty days of being bedridden in hospital [Alexandrina] did not eat or drink….”).

She died in 1955. The manner in which she predicted the supernatural decomposition of her body was observed to have occurred, and no doubt this sped up the process of her rapid beatification. Here below is a short Vatican summary of her life, which I have edited for this post.

“Alexandrina Maria da Costa was born on 30 March 1904 in Balasar, Portugal. She received a solid Christian education from her mother and her sister, Deolinda, and her lively, well-mannered nature made her likeable to everyone.

Her unusual physical strength and stamina also enabled her to do long hours of heavy farm work in the fields, thus helping the family income.

When Alexandrina was 14, something happened that left a permanent imprint on her, both physically and spiritually: it gave her a face-to-face look at the horror and consequences of sin.

On Holy Saturday of 1918, while Alexandrina, Deolinda and a young apprentice were busily sewing, three men violently entered their home and attempted to sexually violate them. To preserve her purity, Alexandrina jumped from a window, falling four metres to the ground.

Her injuries were many, and the doctors diagnosed her condition as “irreversible”:  it was predicted the paralysis she suffered would only get worse.

Until age 19, Alexandrina was still able to “drag herself” to church where, hunched over, she would remain in prayer, to the great amazement of the parishioners. With her paralysis and pain worsening, however, she was forced to remain immobile, and from 14 April 1925 until her death – approximately 30 years – she would remain bedridden, completely paralyzed.

Alexandrina continued to ask the Blessed Mother for the grace of a miraculous healing, promising to become a missionary if she were healed.

Little by little, however, God helped her to see that suffering was her vocation and that she had a special call to be the Lord’s “victim”. The more Alexandrina “understood” that this was her mission, the more willingly she embraced it.

She said:  “Our Lady has given me an even greater grace:  first, abandonment; then, complete conformity to God’s will; finally, the thirst for suffering”.

And so it was that from 3 October 1938 until 24 March 1942, Alexandrina lived the three-hour “passion” of Jesus every Friday, having received the mystical grace to live in body and soul Christ’s suffering in his final hours. During these three hours, her paralysis was “overcome”, and she would relive the Stations of the Cross, her movements and gestures accompanied by excruciating physical and spiritual pain. She was also diabolically assaulted and tormented with temptations against the faith and with injuries inflicted on her body.

On 27 March 1942, a new phase began for Alexandrina which would continue for 13 years and seven months until her death. She received no nourishment of any kind except the Holy Eucharist, at one point weighing as few as 33 kilos (approximately 73 pounds).

Medical doctors remained baffled by this phenomenon and began to conduct various tests on Alexandrina, acting in a very cold and hostile way towards her. This increased her suffering and humiliation, but she remembered the words that Jesus himself spoke to her one day:  “You will very rarely receive consolation… I want that while your heart is filled with suffering, on your lips there is a smile”.

As a “testimony” to the mission to which God had called her, Alexandrina desired the following words written on her tombstone:  “Sinners, if the dust of my body can be of help to save you, come close, walk over it, kick it around until it disappears. But never sin again:  do not offend Jesus anymore! Sinners, how much I want to tell you…. Do not risk losing Jesus for all eternity, for he is so good. Enough with sin. Love Jesus, love him!”.

Alexandrina died on 13 October 1955. Her last words: “I am happy, because I am going to Heaven.’”

The supernatural confirmations of the Catholic faith – and here quite a recent one concerning this humble child of God- are really quite remarkable and surely should enkindle in our hearts a great desire for the Eucharist, the great Sacrament of Eternal Life.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Ref. The book I am relying on is: Alexandrina: The Agony and The Glory by Francis Johnson (TAN). Photo: Public Domain, U.S.A. Here is a link to the full Vatican biographical homily concerning Blessed Alexandrina (given by Pope John Paul II):

Alexandrina Maria da Costa – Vatican.va

 All rights reserved.

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

Any ads following this note are by WordPress and not CatholicStrength.

THE PROFOUND INFLUENCE OF CONSECRATION TO MARY IMMACULATE IN THE LIVES OF SAINTS JOHN PAUL II AND MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA

1024px-La_Vierge_au_lys

 “…there are Catholics who do not see clearly enough the necessity of having recourse to Mary that they may attain to intimacy with the Savior” (The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Volume I, page 119, by Father Garrigou-LaGrange)

Very important spiritual lessons can be learned from studying the lives of the saints. Indeed, studying the lives of the saints, and how they grew in holiness, is one of the most important things we can do in the spiritual life. This concept of imitating the lives of the saints is expressed in the New Testament by Saint Paul when he says at 1 Cor. 4:16, “I urge you, then, be imitators of me.” The saints show us how to imitate Christ.

In  my own lifetime it is hard to think of two people who drew closer to Jesus Christ than Saint Pope John Paul II and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. And if the greatness of a saint is judged, in part, by the souls they led to Jesus and salvation, then the influence of Mother Teresa and John Paul II is truly staggering. What then are we to make of the meteoric rise to Beatification and then Canonization of both Saint John Paul II and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta (I understand that their Beatifications were two of the fastest ever in the history of the modern church, and Mother Teresa was canonized on September 4, 2016 by Pope Francis)? Our examination of their lives discloses a profoundly important fact; namely, that both of these canonized Saints were molded in the “school of Mary,” having consecrated their lives to the Blessed Virgin.

512px-MotherTeresa_094

A profound lesson to be learned from examining the lives of Saint John Paul II and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta is thus that devotion to Mary – and even more so, consecration – is a powerful aid to growing closer to Jesus Christ. Both John Paul II and Mother Teresa were profoundly consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, both according to the method proposed by Saint Louis DeMontfort in True Devotion to Mary. Father Joseph Langford has written about Mother Teresa’s mystical relationship with Mary in an awesome book entitled, Mother Teresa: In the Shadow of Our Lady. In that book Father Langford describes in detail the nature of Mother Teresa’s profound consecration to Mary.

As to Pope John Paul II, he pointed to his consecration to Mary as a turning point in his life, saying:

‘The reading of this book (True Devotion to Mary) was a decisive turning-point in my life. I say “turning-point,” but in fact it was a long inner journey. . . – This “perfect devotion” is indispensable to anyone who means to give himself without reserve to Christ and to the work of redemption.’

A book explaining Saint John Paul II’s consecration to Mary is Totus Tuus: John Paul II’s Program of Marian Consecration and Entrustment by Father Arthur B. Calkins.

Vom 15. bis 19. November 1980 besuchte Seine Heiligkeit Papst Johannes Paul II. die Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Auf Einladung von Bundespräsident Karl Carstens hat der Papst seinen pastoralen Besuch mit einem offiziellen in Bonn verbunden. Am 15. November gab der Bundespräsident einen Empfang zu Ehren Seiner Heiligkeit auf Schloß Augustusburg in Brühl bei Bonn. Dort führte Papst Johannes Paul II. auch ein Gespräch mit Bundeskanzler Helmut Schmidt. Gleichzeitig traf Bundesaußenminister Hans-Dietrich Genscher mit Kardinal-Staatssekretär Casaroli zusammen. Im Anschluß an den offiziellen Teil begab sich der Papst auf den Bonner Münsterplatz, um dort eine Ansprache zu halten. Ferner bestand der pastorale Teil aus Besuchen in Köln, Osnabrück, Mainz, Fulda, Altötting und München. In allen diesen Städten hielt Papst Johannes Paul II. die Heilige Messe. Eigentlicher Anlaß seines Aufenthaltes in der Bundesrepublik war der 700. Todestag von Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), dessen Grab der Papst in Köln besuchte. Bundespräsident Karl Carstens und Papst Johannes Paul II. auf Schloß Augustusburg in Brühl.

I am currently reading Father Edmund’s biography of Saint Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists, an order of priests dedicated to the love of Jesus crucified. Saint Paul of the Cross was an extraordinary man who practiced the most austere penances and was raised to a very high level of mystical union with God (“the transforming union”) by the relatively early age of around thirty years old. And as with all the saints, the Blessed Virgin played a critical role in his spiritual development and was also instrumental in helping him to establish his new order of priests.

An even more modern saint is Saint Faustina Kowalska, the “visionary of Divine Mercy” to whom Jesus appeared and through whom He established the Divine Mercy devotion. If you read her diary, the tremendous scope of her devotion to Mary becomes obvious and palpable. In her diary (79) she wrote this beautiful prayer of consecration to the Virgin Mary:

O Mary, my Mother and my Lady, I offer You my soul, my body, my life and my death, and all that will Follow it. I place everything in Your hands. O my Mother, cover my soul with Your virginal mantle and grant me the grace of purity of heart, soul and body. Defend me with Your power against all enemies, and especially against those who hide their malice behind the mask of virtue. O lovely lily! You are for me a mirror, O my Mother!

The lesson to be learned, then, is that devotion to Mary is an “essential” component of our faith in Jesus Christ, and that the lives of the saints prove – truly beyond any doubt – that devotion to the Mother of God leads to greater union with Jesus Christ. In our own time, this point is demonstrated in a remarkable manner by Saint John Paul II and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Thus, in the Vatican II Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, we are told:

“All should devoutly venerate [Mary] and commend their life and apostolate to her maternal care.”

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

References: Chapter V of Growth In Holiness by Father Faber; Chapter VI, The Influence of Mary Mediatrix, in Volume I of The Three Ages of the Interior Life; and True Devotion to Mary by Saint Louis DeMontfort. If you are interested in making the total consecration to Jesus through Mary, I recommend the book, Preparation for Total Consecration, put out by The Apostolate for Family Consecration (or Preparation for Total Consecration by Montfort Publications).

Images: The Virgin of the Lilies, Public Domain, U.S.A. (at Wikipedia). The photo Of Pope John Paul II is by Lothar Schaack, November 15, 1980, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license (found at Wikipedia). The photo of Mother Teresa is by Turelio, July 13, 1986 under a Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 2.0 Germany license (found at Wikipedia).

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

All rights reserved.

Any ads following this note are by WordPress and not CatholicStrength.

 

SAINT MOTHER TERESA’S FIRST HOLY COMMUNION CHANGED HER LIFE