The Royal Road To Calvary
Dear Apostle of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Holy Mother the Church has entered into Her solemn Season of Lent. Catholics throughout the world approach the Altar on Ash Wednesday to hear a grave warning: “Remember man, thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.” Turn away from sin! Be faithful to the Gospel! The Lenten challenge, that two fold call to conversion which we heard on Ash Wednesday, is the challenge of a lifetime. It is a challenge that we have to take very seriously. Lent is a serious season. It is a time for serious reflection and serious living because, in the season of Lent, there are choices that must be made and these choices often times affect our whole life. So many of us begin Lent with tremendous enthusiasm, hope and expectation. But, all too often, enthusiasms are dampened and those expectations are shattered because we come to realize that our goals for Lent are not rooted in God but, rather, they are rooted in ourselves. Our Holy Gospel today is a wonderful reminder to us of why we fail so often with our Lenten penance and our Lenten obligations. Our Lord says so very clearly:
“Whoever wishes to come after Me, must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Me.”
Those three steps are the necessary steps that must be taken in order for us to experience real transformation. The first step is probably the hardest, although none of them is easy and none of them is simple. So many people in our modern world, today, stumble and fall at the first step of conversion: If you would follow after Me, you must deny yourself. The modern mind rebels at the idea of self-denial. All too often, we trivialize our self-denial, we pick a symbol or caricature of our self-denial and we tell ourselves: ‘Oh, I am going to deny myself the consolation of a coke or coffee. I am going to deny myself the consolation of chocolate. I am going to deny myself to the pleasure of an extra hour in bed,’ and we believe that these largely symbolic sacrifices represent a true denial to ourselves. But, if we look very closely at the wording of Our Lord’s challenge, we come to understand that Our Lord is not so much interested in our denial of things. What He says is: ‘If you would follow after Me, you must deny yourself.” We are not talking about cokes, chocolate or candy here. The first step to conversion, the first step on the road to true disciple- ship, is self-denial. We must learn how to put ourselves aside. How do we do that? It seems almost impossible to the human spirit that we would be able to reach such a point where we no longer have any natural concern for ourselves, no sense of self-pity or self-consolation. We live in such an ego-centric universe that it is hard for us to imagine any other way of living than without that central reference point of our self, our own needs and our own desires. How do we learn to put these aside? It is a painful and difficult process which first begins in denial or the turning away from sin. This is the first and most necessary step in the aesthetic life. That we turn away not only from the death of mortal sin, but we also learn to turn our hearts and minds away from even venial sin.
Most of our consciences are in a state of COMA! This is simply because they have lapsed through a lack of use. In order for the conscience to function, it has to be exercised. The best way for us to exercise our conscience is to perform a daily examination of conscience. Once upon a time, long, long ago, before 1970, women and men in religious life, who were members of various congregations, were urged and required by their holy Rule to stop and examine their lives twice a day. They were to pause and write in their conscience notebooks the results of their examination and list any willful, deliberate or knowing violation of the holy Rule. Now, that might seem like a very childish task, but it actually has a significant purpose. By forcing ourselves to examine our lives with the eyes of faith, we exercise our conscience to such a degree that it becomes more and more tender, sensitive, alive and aware. Over time, then, we gradually learn to see the pattern of our sins. It is only with this degree of self-knowledge that we can begin the difficult task of finally striking at the root and core of our vices. Sadly enough, most of the time, we are merely trimming the hedges. We never root out the weeds, the cause of our sinfulness. This is because we do not take the time to examine our hearts and our lives so that we might understand fully and completely why we do the things that we don’t want to do. Why am I like this? Why do I fly off the handle? Why am I so impatient? Why don’t I have any charity? Why do I gossip incessantly? Why am I not able to control my tongue, my eyes, my ears or my imagination? If we will take time to examine our conscience on a regular basis and be brutally honest with ourselves, we might begin to see and understand the root of our sins. It is only then that we can begin the painful and difficult process of uprooting the causes of our vices. If we are to deny ourselves, first, we must know ourselves. We must deny ourselves the escape of sin! We must learn not to seek consolation from the things of this world. As Our Lady said to Saint Bernadette, ‘I cannot promise to make you happy in this world, only in the next.” Let us remember that our hearts and our hopes must be centered on the world which is to come!
The second step on the path to discipleship is that we must take up our cross daily. Our Lord does include the word, Daily! When Our Lord speaks about taking up our cross, we have to be very careful in our understanding of this. All too often in our spiritual life, we manufacture crosses that are tailor-made for ourselves, for our spirituality and our personalities. We take on penances, mortifications, works, challenges and apostolates that we consider to be crosses. Often times, these are not genuine crosses. How are we to know what crosses Our Lord is asking us to pick up and carry, day by day? The crosses that we can be certain do come from God are the crosses we did not choose. This is very important. If there is a cross in our life that we did not choose and we do not want, we can be almost certain that it comes from the Hand of God or is permitted by God. The shadow of that cross and the weight of that cross is in our life for a reason and a purpose. The crosses that we do not choose or fashion for ourselves are the crosses that we must learn to pick up, carry and even embrace! St. Jean Vianney put it so beautifully: “To run from the cross, is to be crushed by its weight. Only when we embrace the cross, we discover it has no sting.” And, so, Our Lord challenges us to embrace our crosses daily and to carry them.
To follow after Our Lord means literally to follow Him on that terrible and desolate road from Gethsemane to Golgotha. Each one of us, in our life, must follow in the bleeding footsteps of Our Savior, along the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows. That is why, in this most holy Season of Lent, the Church urges Her children to meditate in a special way on the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Every Friday, in Lent, throughout the Catholic world, men and women will follow the Stations of the Cross. When you walk into any Catholic Church, you will notice along the walls there are sculptures of the Stations of the Cross. These 14 images call to mind Our Lord’s suffering on His way to Calvary.
Normally, during Lent, we lead the Stations publically; yet, we leave the images up all year round. We don’t take them down and put them up again during the Lenten Season. The Stations of the Cross remain on the walls all during the year because it is very important for us to remember the lessons that they teach are not meant for us just during Lent. Remember, Our Lord said, “You must take up your cross DAILY and follow after Me.” The Stations of the Cross are there on the walls to remind us that everything Our Lord encountered in His horrible journey on Good Friday and everything that He encountered on the road to Calvary, we will encounter. Each one of us, in our own time and in our own way, will live through each one of those Stations. If we are truly following after Our Lord, if we are following in the footsteps of Our Savior and if we are striving to follow the Divine Lamb wherever He goes, each one of us will encounter those moments of sorrow and trial that are ensconced on the walls of our churches. This is why the Church urges us to take those images into our hearts and to meditate on them so that we might learn the lessons they contain, take their wisdom, love and hope, and make it our own. We will need it as we carry our cross and follow in the footsteps of our suffering Savior while making our way through this Valley of Tears. We will need to be strengthened through our remembrance that Our Lord Himself has already passed this way before us and that He is with us still.
The First Station: Jesus is condemned to death. As we stand before the tribunal of Pontius Pilate with Our Lord in His condemnation, we have to remember that He was innocent. He was guilty of no crime and, yet, He had been betrayed by those He loved. He had been abandoned, mocked, ridiculed and, finally, condemned to a criminal’s death. Our Lord in that first Station comes face to face with injustice. The system has let Him down. Roman law has been violated. There is no justice in this world. This is what we must remember. There will be moments when we are betrayed, when the system will let us down, when our friends will abandon us, when we are alone, when we are accused or even convicted of things we did not do and when we are robbed of our good name through being the victim of people’s gossip or slander. We, too, stand with Our Lord condemned in this First Station.
The Second Station: Jesus is made to bear His Cross. The cross was the symbol of slavery. No Roman citizen could be crucified. Only a slave could be crucified and only a slave that had been convicted of a serious capital offence. Crucifixion was reserved not only as a punishment but it was a public torture reserved as a brutalization of the victim. It was the ultimate sign of shame and scandal. This is the death to which our Innocent Lord was condemned. He had to endure the shame of the cross. And yet, He embraced the Cross. There will be times when we have to endure shame, scandal or slander, when we will be exposed to ridicule and we will feel ourselves humiliated. It is precisely, at those moments, we have to embrace the wood of the cross.
The Third Station: Jesus falls the first time. Again and again, on the road to Calvary, Jesus’ strength was not sufficient for the task. He fell under the weight of the cross, weak and wounded in His body from the loss of blood, but also weak and wounded in spirit, desolate and alone, without help. Our Lord knew what it was to fall face down in the dirt with exhaustion and humiliation, to be crushed by the weight of a load too heavy to bear. And, so, when we feel despair or depression, anxiety or fear, when we feel crushed by the weight of the world and when we feel alone and helpless, we know that Our Lord has FIRST been there and that He is with us still TODAY.
The Fourth Station: Jesus meets His Sorrowful Mother. Can you imagine the pain in the Blessed Virgin’s Heart as She encountered Her Son, bruised, bleeding and broken on the Way to Calvary? Her mother’s heart was wrenched in Her helplessness of being unable to alter or change His condition and situation, unable to help, unable to stop this terrible injustice. How She must have died with Him! Her heart was crushed and pierced with sorrow! How many times have we broken our mother’s heart and, at the same time, how often as parents have we not had our own hearts crushed by our children? Jesus and Mary have already been there. And, when these times come to us, we know they are with us still.
The Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus to carry His Cross. No matter how heavy the cross is, no matter how alone we may feel and no matter how burdened, if we open our eyes in faith and open our hearts in trust, there will always be someone to help us carry our burden. There will be a Simon to help us. Our Lord has promised, ‘I will not leave you orphans. I will not abandon you. Do not be afraid!’ This is why, when we do feel the weight and the burden of the cross, we cannot shrink into ourselves and we cannot nurse our hurt and cut ourselves off from one another and the Church. We cannot refuse the help that is offered to us. We must be on the lookout for Simon.
The Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus. Veronica, that beautiful, courageous and heroic woman, who stepped forward even in her fear, with compassion and pity in her heart to wipe the blood, the sweat and the dust from the Face of Our Savior, to wipe away the spit and the indifference of the crowd. She took her own veil, the sign of her modesty, from her head and wiped the Face of Christ. Our Lord rewarded her with the blood stained image of His countenance. All of us are called to receive pity and compassion in our sufferings. We are also called to give that compassion and pity to even the most seemingly despised and rejected members of our society.
The Seventh Station: Jesus falls the second time. We will fall more than once. We have to be prepared for failure. We cannot let failure crush us. The most important lesson of the Seventh Station is not that Jesus falls, but that He rises and goes on. And, so must we! We must continue to follow after Him in spite of everything!
The Eighth Station: Jesus speaks to the Women in Jerusalem. Here, the women are weeping and wailing, crying because of His condition. Our Lord rebukes them: “Do not weep for me, but for yourselves and your children.” Why did Our Lord say this? We must learn what warrants tears and what to really grieve over. This is a lesson that takes our whole life to learn. We must learn not to waste our tears. We have to save our tears for a time when they are truly needed. Our Lord tells the women of Jerusalem: Do not weep over Me, there is nothing that tears can accomplish for Me; weep for yourselves and for your children. Weep over your sins and weep over the real tragedy which is the fact that this city, this Nation has rejected its Savior. Of course, Israel and its inhabitants had resisted Christianity and suffered in 70 A.D. when the citizens were destroyed by the Roman armies.
The Ninth Station: Jesus falls the third time, yet again He rises and continues on to the Tenth Station where He is stripped of His garments and stripped of everything: modesty, decency and of His very clothes. His flesh is one gaping wound covered by His outer garment. When His clothes are stripped off His bleeding and torn flesh, the gaping wounds of the scourging are all opened afresh. Bloodied, bruised and beaten, Our Lord is a shameful sight! If we are going to follow Him, we must be prepared to lose everything in this world and to be stripped clean.
The Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross. Being nailed to the Cross means that He is fixed in place! Beyond the awful torture of those railroad spikes being driven into His wrists and into His feet, there is the greater psychological torture of being confined, fixed and positioned without freedom. This is what each of us will face in our lives as well. There will come a point when we no longer have the freedom to choose and we will be nailed to the cross: perhaps to a job, perhaps to a way of life, perhaps by an illness, a sickness, a physical handicap or a mental one; but we will be nailed, we will be fixed in a place or a condition not of our choosing. This is the cross and the suffering that must be embraced as coming from God. It is this which is allowed by Him as a means of our union with His Son.
The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross. We, too, will one day stop breathing, turn cold and die. The more we keep that reality in mind, the greater use we will make of the time we have been given. Lent is a time for us to live as though we were dying. I tell the faithful on Ash Wednesday that they should imagine as they come to Mass, they have gone to their doctor and he has told them that, in 40 days, they will be dead. Now, what will you do? How will you live in the time that you have left? In those 40 days, what will you do to truly live? If we keep the reality of death daily before our eyes, then we stand a chance with God’s help of living fully and completely the lives we were meant to live.
Finally, the Thirteenth Station: Our Lord’s Body is taken down from the Cross.
The Fourteenth Station: Our Lord is laid in the tomb. This is the path that we must follow if we are going to obey the exhortation of Our Blessed Lord to us that we must follow after Him and daily take up our cross. This is the path that leads to life eternal! We cannot hope to share in the Resurrection, unless we have first embraced the Cross and accepted Crucifixion!!!
Practice the Stations of the Cross often and with fervor. There are great and tremendous blessings that are given to those who pray the Stations of the Cross. We may gain a plenary indulgence each time we make them. Another plenary indulgence may be granted if we fulfill the three necessary conditions required to gain this indulgence: Sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father. Additional plenary indulgence if one receives Holy Communion the same day or after making the Stations ten times, one receives within a month. Ten years and ten quarantines for each Station when, for a reasonable cause, one cannot complete the series. Normally, we must move from Station to Station and meditate on the sufferings of Our Lord. This indulgence may be applied to ourselves or our loved ones, living or dead. A plenary indulgence is the highest grace and blessing the Church can bestow outside of the Sacraments.
The Stations of the Cross is a powerful devotion. Brother Estanislao of Bugedo in the early part of the 20th Century received apparitions of Our Lord Who made the following promises to those who devote themselves to the Way of the Cross:
Let us follow Our Lord with love as we make the Stations of the Cross, as we accompany Him with our hearts and unite our sufferings to His. Not only as we make the Stations but also as we live them, day by day!
Benedícat vos Omnípotens Deus: Pater et Fílius, et + Spíritus Sanctus. Amen.
Father Chad Partain
Archive for February, 2013
Weekly News Flash from the Universal Living Rosary Association of Saint Philomena, February 13, 2013Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
Fatima And The Morning Offering
The Morning Offering – Our Most Important Act of the Day
God has only one intention. He desires the salvation of all men. Through knowing Christ, man will come to know and love the Father. The modern world has a bitter need to see Christ in the streets. I am talking about the presence of Christ in Christians.
The Magdalens will come to adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament, but not before they have met Him in the streets. They must encounter the goodness of Him in the members of His Mystical Body. Every Christian has a missionary vocation. We are like the Mother of God, really. Our apostolic mission is to give Christ to the world. Our Lord complains to Margaret Mary, “Behold, this Heart which has so loved men, which has spared nothing, even to being exhausted and consumed; yet the greater part of men make me no return other than their ingratitude, coldness and forgetfulness. But, what is still more painful is those who are consecrated to Me treat Me thus.”
Spontaneous and whole-hearted consecration is the flower of real love. For the moment, we may not be called upon to pour forth our sweat and blood on the battlefields of apostleship, but we can PRAY! Our prayers, penances and good works are a power. Our prayerful army of penitent souls whose supplications and sacrifices daily ascend to God is a great strength to the Mystical Body of Christ. Before God, prayer is more powerful than an arm of steel. The salvation of another man’s soul may depend upon me. God gave to every man the command of loving his neighbor. On Golgotha, Christ looked down on His little flock, composed of the three Marys and St. John. Please God, give me the courage to keep vigil with them at the foot of the Cross.
Sanctifying Grace lifts man into the world of grace where the good he does and the evil he avoids, becomes infinitely meritorious.
By prayer we become, with Christ, the co-saviors of our brothers, helping God in the great work of Redemption without ever taking from Him one mite of glory. Prayer is a kind of priesthood without its responsibility. Through prayer, there is no limit to the number of souls we can reach. We cannot say one prayer for someone in need without receiving from the Hand of God a shower of graces for ourselves. Prayer is all embracing! It puts its arms around the whole world and draws all men closer to God.
Everyone who asks receives! Beneath the Cross, the Mother of God did what you do in the Morning Offering: She gave to God all that she had for the salvation of souls. Every sacrifice is an act of adoration and reparation. While the ritual of prayer is not the sacrifice, the offering of it is. In our prayer of adoration, we admit our dependence on God and God’s absolute rights over us. In the Morning Offering, we give our life over to God through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Sin is the assertion of our independence of God which directly contradicts the fact of our creature-hood.
Every sin is a denial of adoration of God. Through the Morning Offering, we give to God the Lamb who was slain on the Cross. It is an act of adoration and contrition. Uniting our prayers, works, joys and sufferings with all the Holy Masses being offered in the whole world and all those participating in them, is a powerful act of adoration, reparation and love.
Because of the living union we enjoy with one another and with Christ, we are able to do by the omnipotence of prayer some of the things which God does on the strength of His perfection. The wounded Heart of Mary at the foot of the Cross beckons all who look at her to ponder the focus of her love, and its complete devotedness to the Heart of God. It does not say, Love Me; it says, Love Him! Mary and the Son of God surrender themselves to one another completely. By His Passion, the Word of God, made man, fathered the new mankind. By her compassion, by her close physical and spiritual union with the Crucified, Mary, as Mother, brought forth the new mankind. Mary is the Mediatrix of all Graces.
Christ is the Head of the Mystical Body;
On the occasion of the Jubilee at Fatima, Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On December 8, he solemnly renewed the consecration in the Basilica of St. Peter, at Rome. The consecration is the prayer of the Pope to Mary Immaculate. In it, he asks that our Mother grant to us many things. He does not ask for them as an outright gift, something she might obtain for us with no effort on our part, as one might ask for a miracle. NO! The prayer is a dedication, a consecration! The peace for which the Father of Christendom asks is the victory to which the Vicar of Christ will lead his people after they have fought for it and merited the grace of it. The consecration is the knight’s vigil on the eve of battle. He comes to Mary’s altar because the morrow’s battle will be in her honor and for the Kingdom of her Son. The Son through the Mother, the Mediatrix of All Graces, will give strength to the warrior’s right arm. But the man will wield the sword, not some angel. When there are enough right arms, strong in grace, the Mystical Body will be an irresistible fighting unit, spiritually armed and operating as one, able to overcome all those forces in the world that the devil can muster against it.
What does Our Lady ask all those consecrated to Her Immaculate Heart to do? Daily make the Morning Offering, pray the Rosary, confess and receive Holy Communion on First Saturday in reparation, and offer up the sacrifice of Daily Duty for the salvation of poor sinners. The Mystical Body needs health to grow and defend itself. We speed the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth by devoting ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mother and Son have always carried on the labor of Redemption together. Each morning, dedicate your day to Jesus through Mary.
Make faithfully and fervently your Morning Offering.
We cannot separate the apostleship of prayer from the apostleship of suffering for, by it, we offer to God our prayers, works and sufferings through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our physical sufferings are nothing compared to the sufferings of our soul. Stand on any street comer, and look at the many sad faces, furrowed by worry and fear, masking the dark labyrinths of the mind where the soul wrestles with anxiety, loneliness, hurt, ingratitude and sorrow. When the Messiah came to us, He came as the Man of Sorrows. Because we are incorporated in Christ, none of man’s problems can be solved on the basis of individualism. No man is a being unto himself. He is everlastingly a part of the Body of Christ, who was the priest of His own sacrifice. Through suffering, we will have in our own body a Relic of the True Cross! The passion was everything that Divine Justice would demand from a sinful world as the price of those heavenly graces which would flood it and wash it clean. The work of pain is finished for Christ the Head. But His members still must suffer. The more we detest sin, the greater will be our efforts to destroy it – the better will be our prayer!
“To know Christ more intimately,
This is the mission of the Church and each one of us who love Jesus has an intimate part in it.
Never fail to plunge into the Ocean of Grace offered to us, each day, through the Morning Offering. In doing this, we will with one voice, one heart and one soul, greatly hasten the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
O MY GOD, in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Jesus from all the Altars throughout the world, joining with It the offering of my every thought, word and action of this day. I desire to gain every indulgence and merit I can, offering them, together with myself, to Mary Immaculate whom Thou hast appointed the dispenser of the merits of Thy Precious Blood, especially by means of this Scapular (here kiss your Brown Scapular) that She may best apply them to the interests of Thy Most Sacred Heart. Amen.
One OUR FATHER, HAIL MARY and GLORY BE
The Joy of Suffering
When we come to know Our Lord’s gentleness, we will begin to understand the true meaning of suffering. People will go to great means to escape suffering. The devil inflates the horror of suffering so that it becomes bigger than life, a thing most dreaded and something to be avoided at all costs. No one can escape suffering. Rich and poor, healthy and infirm, the good and the bad, all suffer. When our suffering is united with the suffering of Christ, we begin to find the hidden treasure which it contains. In His great goodness and mercy, Jesus allows us to participate in His redeeming action in the world: God respects man’s free will and does not force us to choose Him or love Him. Our Lady of Fatima was so sad when She spoke to the children of the real number of souls who go to Hell because there is no one to pray for them and make reparation. The grace of salvation for many a soul in their final moment depends on our prayer for them. Our weakness, sinfulness and attachments can make us afraid to go to God. We are tempted to think He cannot love us. This is a lie. His merciful Heart is most attracted to weak and sinful souls. He raises them up if only they will let Him. One thing is necessary, that the sinner set ajar the door of his heart, be it ever so little, to let in the rays of God’s merciful Grace. God will do the rest.
Weekly News Flash from the Universal Living Rosary Association of Saint Philomena, February 20, 2013Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
Thanks Be To God For His Infinite Goodness To Me!
Gabriel Garcia Moreno was a Catholic, a President and a Martyr. He valued his precious Faith more than anything in his life and, in his youth, he formed a program of spirituality that he kept all the days of his life in spite of the horrendous demands made upon his time and energies. He lived in times violent and corrupt, and is a wonderful ideal of father, husband and soldier of Jesus Christ.
The continual realization of the greatness of God filled his soul with a sovereign contempt for earthly things and, hence, his absolute disinterestedness: His joy at being able to give to the poor, the sick, the widows and the orphans. His patience in trials was most edifying and no complaint was ever heard to pass his lips.
The RULE of life he wrote in his own hand was kept until his death:
Those who knew him, bear witness to his scrupulous fidelity to this Rule of life. No matter what the demands of office, home or war obliged, he lived up to the Rule. He never omitted any pious practice, in camp or on a hurried journey; he would kneel in some hut or corner of the tent, or in the woods, and say the Rosary with his aide or anyone else who was present.
When it drew time for Holy Mass, he would often prepare the vestments for the priest and serve Mass. In the evening surrounded by his family, servants and aides-de-camp, he would read night prayers, read from pious books and express to all his love and confidence in God.
The one ambition of his noble soul was the reign of God in the souls of men. He had a great and tender love for Our Blessed Mother. He restored the shrine of the Lily of Quito. He would ask his people, visitors or workers, “Do you love the Blessed Virgin Mary? If they answered, “Oh! YES, with all our hearts,” he would say, “Well then, my children, let us kneel down all together and pray Her Rosary that we may persevere in loving and serving God.”
The Catholic Church universally applauds this President of Ecuador, Gabriel Garcia Moreno. Honor and glory be to him who dared to say:
“A Catholic People Cannot Socially Deny Jesus Christ!”
The secret society of Freemasonry seeks to unite itself with the devil to destroy the reign of Jesus Christ upon earth, to destroy Christianity. It is the great enemy. Their rage against Garcia Moreno was universal and all Freemasonic newspapers throughout the world held him up for execution and he was solemnly condemned to death by their Great Council. At the opportune moment, the assassins attacked him, cutting off his arm and his hand and inflicting deadly wounds to his body. He was laid at the feet of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows where he expired.
The body of Garcia Moreno was placed in a secretly and provisionally unknown grave in order to protect it from the risk of sacrilegious profanation.
While we may not have the courage today to die for the faith, let us begin simply with the Rule of life set out by Garcia Moreno in his youth. Faithful to this Rule, with the strength of God, we will rise to the height of martyrdom, if and when we are called.
A LITTLE WHILE LONGER, AND THEN ETERNITY!
Conceived Of The Holy Ghost, Born Of The Virgin Mary!
The entire life of Our Lady from Her Immaculate Conception to Her glorious Assumption is a symbol of the whole life of the Church and of our own spiritual lives. The history of the Church begins in the womb of the Virgin. Mary and the Church are two, yet one single mother, two virgins, yet one. Each is virgin, each is mother. Both conceived of the same Holy Spirit, without human seed. Both bore to God the Father a Child unblemished. Both are the Mother of Christ, but neither can bring Him to birth without the other.
The Church in the development of Her piety is guided by the Holy Ghost and devotion to Holy Mother the Church cannot possibly run counter to our devotion to the Mother of God. The whole mystery of the Church is inseparably bound up with the mystery of Mary. We need to learn to see Our Lady in the Church and the Church in Our Lady. Our Blessed Mother is the Bride of the Holy Spirit and the Church is the Bride of Christ. We must be spiritual men to comprehend the mystery of Mary in the Church. What is needed, today, is a return to the Heart of Mary, so that our love of the Church as our Mother may grow together with our love for the Mother of Jesus.
God’s first words of salvation spoken outside the locked gates of Paradise indicate a woman, “I will put enmities between thee and the Woman, and thy seed and Her seed; She will crush thy head and thou shalt lie in wait for Her heel.” (Gen.3:15) The Lord hath spoken it. Satan is cast out of Heaven. The Mystery of the Immaculate Conception is not only a personal privilege granted to Mary who was to become the Mother of God but also, through it, Mary becomes a figure of the Church. The Church is, therefore, the Woman fulfilling both Eve and Mary; She is at war throughout history, and Hers is the victory at the end. The Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God is, in the deepest sense, the consummation and the reality of our own personal salvation. The final battle is still to come, for the serpent lies in wait for the Woman’s heel. Look well at the Woman in the sky clothed with the sun, crowned with twelve stars, and with the moon spread underneath Her feet; yes, it is indeed She, our Mother, it is indeed the Church. We can certainly say that the Woman of the Apocalypse is Mary, because She is the Mother of the Church, having given birth to the Head of the Church, and Herself being the Daughter of the Church, and the holiest of its members.
‘Rejoice, O Virgin Mary, for Thou alone hast destroyed all heresies in all the world!’
The virginity of the Church means that She preserves intact Her faith in Christ. Heresy means loss of that virginity; it is breaking off the betrothal to Christ. Early Christians said that the Church, like Mary, is ever virgin and can never fall into Eve’s unfaithfulness. This is no more and no less than we say today with our doctrine of the Church’s infallibility. Heresy is unchaste; it is adultery towards Christ. The Mystery of the perpetual virginity of Mary is dogma: A chaste womb shelters Christ in His physical and in His mystical Body.
Every time, we proclaim our belief in the Church, we are paying honor to Mary; and every witness of our love for Mary is a witness of our belief in the Church, for in Mary the Church became the Virgin Mother of God. What happened with Mary through the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, is daily renewed mystically within the Church. The Church is in labor and travail, until Christ is formed in us and born of us. Whoever has childlike devotion to Mary, has found entrance to the deepest mystery of the Church. Mary is, indeed, the Mother of Christ’s members, that is, of ourselves. It is by Her love that men have been born in the Church. It is through the mystery of the marriage, both human and divine at the incarnation that our redemption began.
The deep significance of the marriage at Cana and the wedding feast is critical to our understanding of both Mary and the Church. Humanity is being changed into the wine of the life of grace while Mary is there. She is the Mother of all who are sanctified by their faith in coming to God. Whatever errors be taught in the false services of infidels, come from a denial of the incarnation which begins with a refusal to honor God’s holy Mother and which continues with a rejection to honor the virginity of the Church.
Where the Mother of Jesus is not, there can be no marriage! Jesus at Cana spoke of His hour ‘which was to come,’ the hour of His Death on the Cross, when His Blood was poured out for man’s salvation.
On Calvary, the Church was given to Mary, “Woman, behold thy Son!”, and Mary was given to the Church, “Son, behold thy Mother!” Mary and the Church are one: The Woman at the foot of the Cross is the Woman of promise who would overcome Satan. Beneath the victorious Cross of the dying God stands the Woman who has won all of God’s battles, the holy Ecclesia! How lovable She is, this Mother of ours! Let us offer thanks to the Father and to Christ, Our Brother, that we have the privilege to be the Children of Mary, Our Mother and of Holy Mother the Church. There can be no contradiction between a tender devotion to Mary and a deep love for the Church.
The Church is Mary in the world. In this journey through everyday life to the Cross, we find a new aspect of the Mystery of Mary and the Church: the Mystery of Her inner strength amid ordinary life, unswerving faithfulness to Christ and powerful patience which enables Her to go with Christ to Calvary and share in the joy of His Resurrection. Mary’s acceptance of the Incarnation was Her acceptance of death. She gave Her blood to Him, only that He might shed it for us. In Mary and in the Church, the destitute world becomes rich and starving mankind is fed lavishly. Love is the fruit of our Baptism. It is by the spindle of true love in our everyday tasks that we learn to meet Christ Crucified. Only on the Cross is found the true measure of our love.
Pentecost is the very pinnacle of our Redemption because the charity of God is poured into our hearts. Here, indeed, is fulfilled in all mankind what was begun in the Heart of the Virgin at the Incarnation. The Heart of Mary is the beginning of the story; in Her Heart was performed in secret, what now at Pentecost, is open to the gaze of all mankind. The Heart of Mary is the original upper room, where all redeemed mankind is gathered. Her Heart is the vessel filled by the Holy Spirit. In Her, we find all prophecies are fulfilled; in Her begins the life of heavenly glory! Everything has its beginning in the Heart of Mary and in Her womb. The Heart of the Mystery of the Virgin Mary and the virgin Church is the humble obedience of faith which opens itself in complete love and trust to the Holy Spirit Who overshadows Her. In the midst of Her Heart, Eternity entered Time!
The Church’s history on earth is already a heavenly Mystery: for She is always on the point of extinction. She is frequently persecuted and abides on the hill of Calvary. She is clothed with the sun in Her heavenly glory and, yet, upon earth is always in the pains of childbirth. And, so it is true of the Christian who is in travail until Christ is formed in him and born of him. This new birth can happen only by dying to himself each day, that he may receive the life of God’s glory.
The final history of the body of the Woman who gave birth to God is the Assumption, the fulfilling in advance of what is promised to the whole Mystical Body of Christ. The prince of this world, the devil, was already defeated by the Woman, when the Word of God became the Fruit of Her womb: “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy Word – THE ETERNAL FIAT!” The final glory of Mary is the final glory of the Church. When the Church celebrates the Assumption, She is celebrating Her own final glory. Jesus and Mary are preparing for us a new Paradise, which is the Church in all Her glory. Mary is always present within the Church in Her express title, “Mother of Grace”. In Her painful pilgrimage here on earth and through Her painful history and purification by persecution, Holy Mother the Church must become like to Mary, who without blemish gave birth to Her Son. Only then, will the Church wash away every blemish in those She brings to birth through Baptism.
“We have, without hesitation, consecrated all mankind to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. May She, the most holy Mother of all the members of Christ, radiant now in body and soul in Heaven, and gloriously reigning with Her Son, earnestly implore of Him, that mighty streams of grace may ceaselessly flow from the majestic Head upon all the members of the Mystical Body.“ Pope Pius XII, 1943 – Mystici Corporis
AVE MARIA, GRATIA PLENA!