Sunday, August 05, 2018

Our Lady of the Snows


 Feast Day:  August 5

August 5th is a Marian feast celebrated in our Catholic calendar as the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. This basilica is the largest in the world dedicated to Mary, Mother of God. Pope Liberius erected this church in honor of Mary and shortly after the Council of Ephesus in 431, Pope Sixtus III commissioned a rebuilding of the Church as an affirmation of the title given to Mary as the "Theotokos" or "God-Bearer." A theological debate about this title was instigated by Bishop Nestorius when he concluded that since Mary bore the God-Man Jesus, she could only be called Mother of Jesus, and not Mother of God, since God existed before Mary. St. Cyril of Alexandria, along with the other bishops, decried this as a heresy. According to their argument, Christ's nature was indivisible. He was both God and Man and therefore Mary is also the Mother of God. St. Mary Major is one of the four Roman basilicas known as patriarchal cathedrals. St. John Lateran represents Rome, St. Paul Outside the Walls representing the See of Alexandria, St. Peter's representing the See of Constantinople and St. Mary representing the See of Antioch, where Mary spent most of her earthly life.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Blessed Titus Brandsma- Martyr of Dachau


The Carmelite Order celebrates the memorial of Blessed Titus Brandsma, O.Carm on July 27. Blessed Titus is not very well known. I even doubt if he is known at all outside the Order of Carmel. But this man of faith, a priest and a martyr, was a man of our times. He was born in the Netherlands in 1881 and entered the Order as a young man. He was ordained a priest in 1905 and was highly educated. He assumed positions in the academic world as a professor of Philosophy and of history of mysticism. He was a professional journalist and in 1935 was appointed ecclesiastical advisor to Catholic journalists. Both, before and after the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands , he fought against the spread of Nazi ideology and for the freedom of the Catholic education and the Catholic Press. He was finally arrested and was sent to a succession of prisons and concentration camps. He showed his strength of character and his heroic virtues by the good example he showed to his fellow prisoners. True to his Carmelite vocation, he embraced the Cross of Christ and contemplated His presence in the solitude of his prison cell. His dark night experience was expressed in a poem he wrote while in his cell, "Before A Picture of Jesus In My Cell." It shows the deep trust and abandonment of a true lover of Christ.

"A new awareness of Thy love
Encompasses ny heart:
Sweet Jesus, I in Thee and thou
In me shall never part.

No grief shall fall my way but I
Shall see thy grief filled eyes:
the lonely way that thou once walked
Has made me sorrow-wise.

All trouble is a white-lit joy
That light my darkest day;
Thy love has turned to brightest light
This night-like way.

If I have Thee alone,
the hours will bless
With still, cold hands of love
My utter loneliness.

Stay with me Jesus, only stay;
I shall not fear,
If reaching out my hand,
I feel Thee near."


In 1942, after much suffering and enduring much humiliations, he was given a lethal injection and died in Dachau. Pope John Paul II beatified him November 3, 1985.
Contemplating the lives of the Saints is not just for the reason of admiring them. Their examples serve as beacons of light when darkness sets in. We are still in the Age of Martyrs. Everyday our faith and faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus are tested. Just like Blessed Titus, we are called to make a stand for the truths of the Gospel and the truths of the Church, the Bride of Christ, according to our individual vocations and in particular circumstances we find ourselves in.

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Friday, July 20, 2018

The Brown Scapular: It's Modern Day Significance


Carmelite tradition holds that Our Lady appeared to Saint Simon Stock in 1251 and gave him the brown scapular as a sign of Mary’s unceasing pledge of protection upon the Order of Carmel. The Brown Scapular is a “garment of salvation” and all who wear it “will not suffer the flames of eternal fires.” This privilege was extended to all the faithful, not just Carmelites, and the Brown Scapular of Carmel became a favorite sacramental in the Church, along with the Rosary.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

 

Sometimes you have those moments when nature teaches you small lessons in life. Well, this is one them. Watching our ducks struggle to make that leap made me think of perseverance to overcome hurdles.  And if one falls, so what. One could always rise again (if one wishes).

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi



 Feast day:  May 25th

St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi was one of those souls in Carmel endowed by God with the gift of an abundant mystical life.  A reading of her life will make one's head spin from the many flights of supernatural experiences she was gifted with.  Following her in these mystical states is like going on a roller-coaster ride with its ups and downs, and being left with a splitting headache! Although it is true that St. Mary Magdalene's life was characterized by mystical experiences, we should not forget that these experiences were just but the overflow of the one reality we all are invited to experience- a deep love of God.  The Book of the Song of Songs testifies to it: 'deep waters cannot quench love.. if one would give everything one has to acquire it, she would be roundly mocked."  The love of God is pure gift,  infused into our hearts  to produce an overwhelming experience which brings in its trail wonderful things.  It also brings fire of purification necessary to burn the soul's imperfection and to transform it into the likeness of God.  Such was the life of St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, the Seraph of Carmel.  St. Mary Magdalene's body is incorrupt.

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