Monday 18 February 2019

In Thanksgiving to St.Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul

January and February were months of incredible blessings for me. St. Vincent de Paul, and his devoted son. BLessed Frederic Ozanam, played a major role. Friends, go to these great servants of God and lover of the poor with confidence.  

"Let us go in simplicity where merciful
Providence leads us, content to see the
stone on which we should step without
wanting to discover all at once and
completely the winding road"

Blessed Frederic Ozanam

Blessed Margarita Citta di Costello

April 13th marks the feast of Blessed Margarita Citta di Costello. Although she is not as well known as other blesseds, her story is nonetheless just as remarkable on account of the many hardships she had to endure throughout her life.

Stained glass window in San Domenico, Citta di Costello

Margarita - Italian form of Margaret, derived from the Greek word for pearl - was born in 1287 to nobles in Mercatello sul Metuaro, Citta di Costello in Umbria, Italy. Immediately, she was an embarrassment to her parents. Born blind, afflicted with a severe curvature to her spine (modern-day scoliosis, perhaps), dwarfed and severely restricted in her ability to walk, her parents hid her from the world. It was only through the kindness of a maid she was given the name Margarita - her parents clearly did not want her, as she was a threat to their social standing.

At the age of six, she was nearly publicly discovered. It was then her parents decided to take things further. Margarita was locked up in a doorless cell attached to the chapel inside their home, where her parents intended to keep her until she died. The cell had a window looking into the chapel, and thus Margarita was able to hear Mass and receive Communion from the resident priest. This same priest took it upon himself to instruct Margarita in the faith, impressed with her docile nature and the depth of her spiritual wisdom, despite her young age.

Things changed when Margarita was about twenty. Her parents took her to a Franciscan shrine in Costello, Perugia, where they had heard miracles were occurring, in the hopes of having their daughter cured. No such miracle occurred. Sadly, Margarita was reportedly abandoned as a result. People in Castello took pity on her and helped her survive, teaching her not only how to beg but also providing her shelter with various families. She was eventually permitted to reside with the Dominican nuns at the local convent.

After a time, she was asked to leave the convent. The nuns there lived laxly, and Margarita's quiet adherence to the Dominican rule made them uncomfortable. In time, Margarita became a Dominican Tertiary, wearing the habit for the rest of her life, and instructed the children of Costello in the Faith and the psalms. Margarita also ministered to the less fortunate, and had greatest affection for the imprisoned.

Margarita died on April 12th, 1320 at the age of 33 in the Citta di Costello in Perugia, Italy. She was renowned for her gentleness, kindness, and compassion for all around her. Her faith was strong, and was the means through which she accepted her many sufferings. She was also known for being cheerful in spite of her physical sufferings. While she understood that her parents resented her, she never resented them. Margarita also reportedly had several mystical gifts, and many miracles have occurred surrounding her.

Margarita's cause for canonization has not been keenly pursued by the Dominican Order since her death. In 1558, she was discovered to be incorruptible upon exhumation, which re-sparked interest in her canonization. While her coffin was rotten, her clothes disintegrated, she was as well preserved since the day she died. (It is all the more impressive since she was not embalmed, and attests to her sanctity.) She was dressed in a new Dominican habit, and while exposure to air during the exhumation blackened bits of her skin, she is nonetheless still remarkably well preserved almost 700 years later.

Altar of San Domenico, Citta di Costello, where Bl. Margarita's remains are kept.
Close-up of Bl. Margarita

Margarita was made a Blessed by Pope Paul V on October 19th, 1609, and he allowed a Mass and a Divine Office specifically for her to be said by the Perugian Dominicans. In 1675, Pope Clement X extended this privilege to the entire Dominican order. Closer to our time, in 1988, Blessed Margarita was declared a patron of the blind. (She is also a patron of those with disabilities.)

Blessed Margarita Citta di Costello, pray for us. Allow us to imitate your cheerfulness and charity in spite of physical hardships and life's difficulties. You are a true pearl.

It is a shame your cause for canonization continues to stall. May that be remedied some day.

Source for much of this information, replete with many photos and reflections:

Sunday 17 February 2019

The Miracle of Marcellino

Produced in 1955, The Miracle of Marcellino, known in Spanish as Marcellino Pan Y Vino (Bread and Wine), is a touching little film. It was a commercial success both in Spain and internationally.

In this period of Septuagesima, I would highly recommend our readers to take a couple of hours and watch it. I will not reveal the plot details, but let me just say that it is edifying and ought to remind us of why Lent is so important for the spiritual life.

It can found on Netflix's streaming service or on various online retailers in the form of a DVD.

Tuesday 12 February 2019

The decadent West is worse than the Soviet Union ever was

The debauched "freedom loving" West is now so decadent, so debased, that even the Soviets had a higher moral standard. 

We are in free fall. Let us not be deluded. We are rotten from within. 

Monday 11 February 2019

The Danger of an Interior Life without an Active Life

During the course of our series regarding the dangers of an active life without an interior life, it was requested that we post about the dangers of placing the interior life over the active life. 

Both extremes are deadly. However, Dom Chautaurd does not devote significant space in his work on the subject. He merely references quietism in passing, an understandable action as the heresy of good works is more apt to abuse in the Church. As a result, we pull the following excerpt from New Advent:
Quietism (Latin quies, quietus, passivity) in the broadest sense is the doctrine which declares that man's highest perfection consists in a sort of psychical self-annihilation and a consequent absorption of the soul into the Divine Essence even during the present life. In the state of "quietude" the mind is wholly inactive; it no longer thinks or wills on its own account, but remains passive while God acts within it. Quietism is thus generally speaking a sort of false or exaggerated mysticism, which under the guise of the loftiest spirituality contains 4 erroneous notions which, if consistently followed, would prove fatal to morality. It is fostered by Pantheism and similar theories, and it involves peculiar notions concerning the Divine cooperation in human acts. In a narrower sense Quietism designates the mystical element in the teaching of various sects which have sprung up within the Church, only to be cast out as heretical. … All these varieties of Quietism insist with more or less emphasis on interior passivity as the essential condition of perfection; and all have been proscribed in very explicit terms by the Church. 

In the simplest terms, we can describe quietism as "false piety" or even "ostentatious piety."

Friends, are we guilty of quietism?

If we are, it is not too late to emerge out of this heresy.

Saturday 9 February 2019

Neither Left, nor Right, but Catholic

"On the one hand, persons may easily place their own individual good above the common good of the collectivity, attempting to subordinate the collectivity to themselves and use it for their individual good. This is the error of individualism, which gave rise to liberalism in modern history and to capitalism in economics.

On the other hand, society, in aiming at the alleged good of the whole, may attempt to subordinate persons to itself in such a way that the true good of persons is excluded and they themselves fall prey to the collectivity. This is the error of totalitarianism, which in modern times has borne the worst possible fruit".

Thursday 7 February 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: The Final Part

Today, our series comes to an end, and on a positive note.

If yesterday's segment left you down, know that there is hope if you fear your apostolate has begun to serve just your own interests, instead of your salvation. Dom Chautard concluded his observations about the heresy of good works with this bit:
O Jesus, Thou Apostle above all others, did anyone ever spend himself as much as Thou, when Thou didst live among us? Today Thou dost give Thyself more generously still by Thy Eucharistic life, without, for all that, ever leaving the bosom of Thy Father. Would we were unable to forget that Thou dost not want to know our works unless they be animated by a truly supernatural principle; unless they be rooted deep in Thy adorable Heart.
We can imitate Christ, if we resolve to make that our goal with regards to our apostolates.

God did not leave us destitute. 

May we have the fortitude to follow Him and His Sacred Heart.

So ends our series on the dangers of an active life without an interior life.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Sixteen

Following on from yesterday's post, Dom Chautard provides some examples of people who woke up - on their deathbed - to their self-deception of using their apostolate to serve themselves humanly speaking, instead of towards their own salvation or fostering of their interior lives.
Far be it from us, of course, to include among these self-preaching apostles so zealous and powerful a missionary as was the famous Fr. Combalot. But surely it is not out of place at this point to quote what he said at the approach of death. The priest who had just administered the last Sacraments said to him: “Have confidence, dear friend. You have preserved all your priestly integrity, and your thousands of sermons will argue in your behalf before God, to excuse this lack of inner life of which you speak.” “My sermons!” cried the dying man, “Oh what a light I see them in now! My sermons! If Our Lord is not the first in bringing up the subject of them, you can be sure that I won’t mention it!” In the light of eternity, this venerable priest saw, in the very best of his good works, imperfections that filled his conscience with alarm, and which he attributed to a lack of interior life. 
Cardinal du Perron, at the hour of his death, expressed his sorrow at having been more devoted, during his life, to perfecting his intellect by science than his will by the exercises of the interior life.
May this never happen to us. 

We only have one shot at this. There are no do-overs. Start now, before it is too late. If you have already started, keep at it.

Tuesday 5 February 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Fifteen

Today's excerpt from Dom Chautard is again rather short:
That admirable Jesuit, Fr. Lallemant, takes us right back to the first cause of these disasters when he says: “There are many apostolic workers who never do anything purely for God. In all things, they seek themselves, and they are always secretly mingling their own interests with the glory of God in the best of their work. And so they spend their life in this intermingling of nature and grace. Finally death comes along, and then alone do they open their eyes, behold their deception, and tremble at the approach of the formidable judgment of God.”
How often have we seen this? This secret "mingling of [one's] own interests with the glory of God in the best of [ours or others'] work"?

Too often. For we are imperfect creatures who struggle constantly against the promotion of the self against God, and - both by the devil and ourselves - we are deceived into thinking we are doing something for the glory of God when we are actually doing it for our own selfish human-oriented interests.

Our primary goal here on Earth to attain our own salvation. That is something which we can term selfish, but it is something we must do. Our own apostolates must ALWAYS be geared towards attaining our own salvation. But it is when we begin to focus on things - material, social, economical, and so on - that will neither aid our salvation nor help our apostolate (that is, God will not allow those things to be carried with us into the next life) in any way that it becomes problematic. 

Have we done this? Have we allowed ourselves to become deceived, be it by ourselves, others, and the devil, onto lines of thinking which are disastrous? Have we allowed our concerns for whatever material, social, and economic benefits our apostolate brings to cloud its true purpose: the attainment of our particular eternal salvation?

If we have, do we want to become like those who, at death's door, opened their eyes to their deception and foolishness?

If you have answered "no," it is not too late to question the depths of one's deception and folly.

Monday 4 February 2019

The Dangers of an Active Life without an Interior Life: Part Fourteen

Today's excerpt from Dom Chautard is rather short: 
A well-known enemy of the Church dared to say that he was unable to believe in the fidelity of certain persons to their vows and obligations, since they were forced by their works to mix freely in the life of the world. “They are walking a tightrope,” he said, “they are bound to fall.” We must answer this insult to God and His Church by replying, without hesitation, these falls can be MOST CERTAINLY avoided when one knows how to use the precious balancing pole of the interior life. It is only the abandonment of this INFALLIBLE instrument that brings dizziness and the fatal false step into space.
Friends, while the enemy of the Church was referring to those who had consecrated their lives to the Church, it can apply to us simple laymen and laywomen as well.

How often does it feel as if we were walking a tightrope between the active and interior life?

How often - due to some fault of ours - have we leaned to one side of the balancing pole and fallen off the tightrope?

Balance of the interior and active life - that is, regular mental prayer and persistent recourse to God over the course of one's daily life - is possible, but it takes time and effort to achieve and maintain. It is something that never ends once we begin it.

Why not take up that precious, infallible balancing pole today?

Sunday 3 February 2019

Do we love our brothers?

From St. Augustine's 9th Homily on the 1st Epistle of St. John: 

"For he that loves not his brother whom he sees, how can he love God whom he sees not? And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loves God love his brother also." 1 John 4:20-21 Marvellous fine talk it was, that you said, "I love God," and hate your brother! O murderer, how do you love God? Have you not heard above in this very epistle, "He that hates his brother is a murderer"? 1 John 3:15 Yea, but I do verily love God, however I hate my brother. You verily do not love God, if you hate your brother. And now I make it good by another proof. 
This same apostle has said, "He gave us commandment that we should love one another." How can you be said to love Him whose commandment you hate? Who shall say, I love the emperor, but I hate his laws? In this the emperor understands whether you love him, that his laws be observed throughout the provinces. Our Emperor's law, what is it? "A new commandment give I unto you, that you love one another." John 13:34 You say then, that you love Christ: keep His commandment, and love your brother. But if you love not your brother, how can you be said to love Him whose commandment you despise? 
Brethren, I am never satiated in speaking of charity in the name of the Lord. In what proportion you have an insatiable desire of this thing, in that proportion we hope the thing itself is growing in you, and casting out fear, that so there may remain that chaste fear which is for ever permanent. Let us endure the world, endure tribulations, endure the stumbling-blocks of temptations. Let us not depart from the way; let us hold the unity of the Church, hold Christ, hold charity. Let us not be plucked away from the members of His Spouse, not be plucked away from faith, that we may glory in His coming: and we shall securely abide in Him, now by faith, then by sight, of whom we have so great earnest, even the gift of the Holy Spirit.