"Near the cross, whilst on it hung her Son, the sorrowing Mother stood and wept. A sword pierced her soul, that sighed, and mourned, and grieved."
'The Liturgical Year - Time After Pentecost Book V Vol. 14
By: Dom Gueranger +Imprimatur 1927
O ALL ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow!" (Lam. i.12.) Is this, then, the first cry of that sweet babe, whose coming brought such pure joy to our earth? Is the standard of suffering to be so soon unfurled over the cradle of such lovely innocence? Yet the heart of mother Church had not deceived her; this feast, coming at such a time, is ever the answer to that question of the expectant human race: What shall this child be?
The Saviour to come is not only the reason of Mary's existence, He is also her exemplar in all things. It is as His Mother that the blessed Virgin came, and therefore as the 'Mother of sorrows'; for the God, whose future birth was the very cause of her own birth, is to be in this world 'a Man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity.' (Isaias, liii.3.) 'To whom shall I compare thee?' sings the prophet of lamentations: 'O Virgin... great as the sea is thy destruction.' (Lam. ii. 13.) On the mountain of the sacrifice, as Mother she gave her Son, as bride she offered herself together with Him; by her sufferings both as bride and as Mother, she was the co-redemptress of the human race. This teaching and these recollections were deeply engraved on our hearts on that other feast of our Lady's dolours which immediately preceded Holy Week.
Christ dieth now no more: and our Lady's sufferings are over. Neverthelss the Passion of Christ is continued in His elect, in His Church, against which hell vents the rage it cannot exercise against Himself. To this Passion of Christ's mystical body, of which is also Mother, Mary still contributes her compassion
; how often have her venerated images attested the fact, by miraculously shedding tears! This explains the Church's departure from liturgical custom, by celebrating two feasts, in different seasons, under one same title.
On perusing the register of the apostolic decrees concerning sacred rites, the reader is astonished to find a long and unusual interruption last in from March 20, 1809 to September 18, 1814, at which latter date is entered the decree instituting on this present Sunday a second Commemoration of our Lady's Dolours. (Gardellini, Decreta authentica Congr.
1809-1814, five sorrowful years, suspended; years of blood which beheld the Man-God agonizing once more in the person of His captive Vicar. But the Mother of sorrows was still standing beneath the cross, offering to God the Church's sufferings; and when the trial was over, Pius VII knowing well whence the mercy had come, dedicated this day to Mary as a fresh memorial of the day of Calvary.
Even in the seventeenth century, the Servites had the privilege of possessing this second feast, which they celebrated as a double of the second class, with a vigil and an octave. It is from them that the Church has borrowed the Office and Mass. This honour and privilege was due to the Order established by our Lady to honour her sufferings and to spread devotion to them. Philip Benizi
, heir to the seven holy Founders, propagated the flame kindled by them on the heights of Monte Senario; thanks to the zeal of his sons and successors, the devotion to the Seven Dolours of the blessed Virgin Mary, once their family property, is now the treasure of the whole world.
The prophecy of the aged Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the loss of the divine Child in Jerusalem, the carrying of the cross, the Crucifixion, the taking down from the cross, and the burial of Jesus: these are the seven mysteries into which are grouped the well-nigh infinite sufferings which made our Lady the Queen of martyrs, the first and loveliest rose in the garden of the Spouse. Let us take to heart the recommendation from the Book of Tobias which the church reads during this week in the Office of the time: Thou shat honour thy mother: for thou must be mindful what and how great perils she suffered in giving thee birth. (Tobias, iv. 3,14)
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SEQUENCE FROM THE LITURGICAL YEAR ON THE SEVEN SORROWS OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
Near the cross, whilst on it hung her Son,
the sorrowing Mother stood and wept.
Asword pierced her soul, that sighed,
and mourned, and grieved.
Oh! how sad, and how afflicted, was that
blessed Mother of an only Son!
The loving Mother sorrowed and mourned
at seeing her divine Son suffer.
Who is there that would not weep to see
Jesus' Mother in such suffering?
Who is there that could contemplate the Mother
and the Son in sorrow, and not join his own with theirs?
Mary saw her Jesus tormented and scourged
for the sins of his people.
She saw her sweet Child abandoned by all,
as he breathed forth his soul and died.
Ah, Mother, fount of love, make me feel the force
of sorrow; make me weep with thee!
Make this heart of mine burn with the love of Jesus
my God, that so I may content his heart.
Do this, O holy Mother! deeply stamp the wounds of
the Crucified upon my heart.
Let me share with thee the sufferings of thy Son, for it is
for me he graciously deigned to be wounded and to suffer.
Make me lovingly weep with thee: make me compassionate
with thee our crucified Jesus, as long as life shall last.
This is my desire: to stand nigh the cross with thee,
and be a sharer in they grief.
Peerless Virgin of virgins! be not displeased at my prayer;
make me weep with thee, Make me to carry the death
of Jesus; make me a partner of his Passion, an adorer
of his wounds.
Make me to be wounded with his wounds; make me to be inebriated with the cross and the Blood of thy Son.
And that I may not suffer the eternal flames, let me be defended by thee, O Virgin, on the day of Judgement!
I Jesus! when my hour of death comes, let me,
by they Mother's aid come to my crown of victory.
And when my body dies, oh! give to my soul the reward of heaven's glory. Amen.
A Giveaway in Honor of Today's Feast.....
Our school year is done here and I've been busy working on next year's lesson plans. We studied bible history this year as our history course for 2nd grade. In doing such I found that just reading the stories and answering the questions didn't go over so well with my students. As I tend to find out, at least with my children, hands on activities seem to help them learn better and so I usually make things to go with our books to accommodate their learning style.
Sometimes I find this out half way through the year then struggle to find things to do with our lessons. This year I'm hoping to get ahead or at least on track and make the hands on items BEFORE school starts. This project is one of those items. We are doing bible history again for our 3rd grade history course but this year we are switching to a different book, Bible Stories for Children.
Such a beautiful old book that is now back in print. It has short 2-3 page stories for all the main parts of the Bible, Old and New Testament. Its written by a Catholic Teacher and worded just right for this age group. It also connects the old testament stories to parts of the Catholic faith making it ideal for the young Catholic learning the Bible.
Combined with the Bible Stories for Children book
is the Anecdotes and Examples for the Catholic Catechism
, one of my absolute favorite books! They are short simple stories that explain some part of the Catholic Catechism in an easy way to understand and the short story is easy for short attention spans or a quick read. Sometimes the stories are even funny which makes the learning fun. I also wanted my children to learn the vocabulary words in the Catechism lesson
they are doing on Sunday with their father and so those are integrated into this unit study as well. With worksheets for helping them to understand how the word is spelled, used and what the object or word looks like.
While this is written for early elementary students many students would enjoy these books and the lesson plans can easily be adjusted and added to according to age/learning level.
Every lesson contains several hands on activities and many of them have worksheet and/or templates to go with them. Any crafts done contain simple household items or things that most of us have as well as coloring pages around the house. A few lessons even have snack and recipe ideas to help tie in the chapter of the book with something yummy!
There are 52 Chapters in this book and 52 Units to download. This is my summer project so as I get them done they will be loaded on the Bible Stories for Children Unit Study Page
located on the Sanctus Simplicitus site under the download page> educational downloads. Directions for using this unit study may be found on that page as well with all the details to get one started.
Many of you have asked for a Lenten study and about the Jesse Tree study. This lovely book will cover both those topics! The Old Testament happens to be 25 lessons, which will work for the Jesse Tree using each lesson for each day of December up to Christmas showing the genealogy of Christ. And then the New Testament starts with the birth of Our Lord and ends with His Resurrection, perfect for a Lenten study and both of these will take you all the way through the school year! I hope that this project will be enjoyed by many and hopefully save all the other busy mothers some time, as we all seem to enjoy help in that area. May you all have a blessed Pentecost Sunday!
"No good can be accomplished save by and with the Cross." - Venerable Mother Barat
Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
March 15.—ST. ZACHARY, Pope.
ST. ZACHARY succeeded Gregory III., in 741, and was a man of singular meekness and goodness. He loved the clergy and people of Rome to that degree that he hazarded his life for them on occasion of the troubles which Italy fell into by the rebellion of the Dukes of Spoleto and Benevento against King Luitprand. Out of respect to his sanctity and dignity, that king restored to the Church of Rome all the places which belonged to it, and sent back the captives without ransom. The Lombards were moved to tears at the devotion with which they heard him perform the divine service. The zeal and prudence of this holy Pope appeared in many wholesome regulations which he had made to reform or settle the discipline and peace of several churches. St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, wrote to him against a certain priest named Virgilius, that he labored to sow the seeds of discord between him and Odilo, Duke of Bavaria, and taught, besides, many errors. Zachary ordered that Virgilius should be sent to Rome, that his doctrine might be examined. It seems that he cleared himself; for we find this same Virgilius soon after made Bishop of Salzburg. Certain Venetian merchants having bought at Rome many slaves to sell to the Moors in Africa, St. Zachary forbade such an iniquitous traffic, and, paying the merchants their price, gave the slaves their liberty. He adorned Rome with sacred buildings, and with great foundations in favor of the poor and pilgrims, and gave every year a considerable sum to furnish oil for the lamps in St. Peter's Church. He died in 752, in the month of March.
This Weeks Friday Fare.... is Spiritual Food for the Soul
Thoughts on the Passion For Each Day in the Week
"Behold the Man." Yet scarcely recognizable as such. Behold the Man, the mirror in which the Eternal Father discovers to men the abyss of HIs mercy, the abyss of HIs justice, the abyss of their own malice. Behold the Man, and in Him the melancholy condition of a sinful soul; in Him how innocence is punished for the guilty. Behold the Man! the joy of the blessed in heaven, the man through whom alone we may hope for mercy.
"Courage! Let us be generous in our sacrifices." - Blessed Theophane Venard -
Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
March 8.—ST. JOHN OF GOD.
NOTHING in John's early life foreshadowed his future sanctity. He ran away as a boy from his home in Portugal, tended sheep and cattle in Spain, and served as a soldier against the French, and afterwards against the Turks. When about forty years of age, feeling remorse for his wild life, he resolved to devote himself to the ransom of the Christian slaves in Africa, and went thither with the family of an exiled noble, which he maintained by his labor. On his return to Spain he sought to do good by selling holy pictures and books at low prices. At length the hour of grace struck. At Granada a sermon by the celebrated John of Avila shook his soul to its depths, and his expressions of self-abhorrence were so extraordinary that he was taken to the asylum as one mad. There he employed himself in ministering to the sick. On leaving he began to collect homeless poor, and to support them by his work and by begging. One night St. John found in the streets a poor man who seemed near death, and, as was his wont, he carried him to the hospital, laid him on a bed, and went to fetch water to wash his feet. When he had washed them, he knelt to kiss them, and started with awe: the feet were pierced, and the print of the nails bright with an unearthly radiance. He raised his eyes to look, and heard the words, "John, to Me thou doest all that thou doest to the poor in My name: I reach forth My hand for the alms thou givest; Me dost thou clothe, Mine are the feet thou dost wash." And then the gracious vision disappeared, leaving St. John filled at once with confusion and consolation. The bishop became the Saint's patron, and gave him the name of John of God. When his hospital was on fire, John was seen rushing about uninjured amidst the flames until he had rescued all his poor. After ten years spent in the service of the suffering, the Saint's life was fitly closed. He plunged into the river Xenil to save a drowning boy, and died, 1550, of an illness brought on by the attempt, at the age of fifty-five.
Reflection.—God often rewards men for works that are pleasing in His sight by giving them grace and opportunity to do other works higher still. St. John of God used to attribute his conversion, and the graces which enabled him to do such great works, to his self-denying charity in Africa.
This Weeks Friday Fare
"If God gives you an abundant harvest of trials, it is a sign of the
great holiness to which He desires you to attain."
Last week we shared a short meditation for 1st Monday of Lent
, we continue from the same book this week on the 2nd Monday of Lent. You may find the sermon for the 2nd Sunday of Lent
over at Crusader's for Christ's Sanctifying Sunday post. May your second week of Lent
be a fruitful one.
Short Instructions, or, meditations on the Gospels for Each Day of LentBy: Rev. P. Baker Imprimatur 1904
MONDAY - IN THE SECOND WEEK OF LENT. Gospel—John viii. 21. -29.
At that time; Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: I go and you shall seek me, and you shall die in your sin. Whither I go, you cannot come. The Jews therefore said: Will he kill himself, because he said : Whither I go, you cannot come? And he said to them : You are from beneath, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you, that you shall die in your sins. For if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins. They said therefore to him: Who art thou? Jesus said to them: The beginning, who also speak unto you. Many things I have to speak, and to judge of you. But he that sent me is true: and the things I have heard of him, the same I speak in the world. And they understood not that he called God his father. Jesus therefore said to them : When you shall have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall you know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself, but as the Father has taught me, these things I speak. And he that sent me is with me, and he had not left me alone : for I do always the things that please him.
The awful threat which the Saviour of the world here pronounces against the Jews, is not less terrible to many Christians. Not to seek after God, is a great misfortune ; but to seek after him, and not to find him, is infinitely greater. You shall seek me, says he, and you shall die in your sins. A plain indication of the lamentable condition of an obstinate sinner, who, at the hour of death, seeks God, but cannot find him. Let us examine why a sinner does not find God, whom he then seeks.
It will be a salutary inquiry, as it may excite us to adopt the proper means to prevent our
being involved in the same terrible calamity. The obstinate sinner has all his lifetime resisted the repeated invitations and inspirations of the Almighty: he has been deaf to the frequent solicitations of his ministers, and refused to repent; but when his last sickness tells him he is near his end, with what horror and confusion does he not then look back upon his past sinful life, when the sight of the many and enormous crimes of which he has been guilty, brings him almost into despair: for he has so long abused the grace of God, that he finds little reason to hope in his mercy : he is now sensible of the disorders of his sinful career, and makes just reflections on things, but alas ! they come too late. What grief and vexation does he not then feel for not doing what he might have easily done before : how much does he regret and condemn his procrastinating folly : in this his extreme distress all that he ever heard concerning death, judgment, heaven, and hell, come fresh into his mind, to afflict and torment him in this deplorable state. A priest is sent for to console him: but, alas! what comfort can the sight of a priest be to one, who has all his life slighted the sacred order, condemned their pious admonitions, nay, made a jest of the serious truths of religion? Can the sight of a crucifix, or the passion of Christ, afford consolation to one who never lived like a disciple of the crucified Jesus? Ah! it were well, if the dying sinner could make a right use of the few moments he has left; but, alas! his anguish of mind and body, together with the regret that he has to quit this world and its enjoyments,
prevent him from making a proper use of them. At length, the sinner quits this life in a manner ruly unhappy, because by death he enters upon a miserable eternity ; for although he seeks God, yet he does not find him, and thus he dies in his sins.
This terrible calamity is entirely owing to the sinner himself; because he would not seek God, when he might be found, nor hearken to him when called to repentance, and amendment of life. God has frequently invited him by the ministers of his word; often assisted him by the secret inspirations of his grace; and afforded him time and opportunity: but, alas ! he would neither embrace the one, nor hearken to the other : he wilfully persisted in the ways of sin, and would not deny himself unlawful pleasures; he gave himself up to the world, and its criminal customs; he paid no regard to the self-denying principles of the gospel ; and thus having, under the name of a Christian, lived like a heathen, he is deprived of all comfort i
n death; for, though he then seemingly seeks after God, how can it be expected he should find him, since God himself has declared that he will not be mocked? Those, then, who refuse to hearken to his voice, when he calls upon them, will cry out in vain, when they knock and say: Lord, Lord, open to us : for to such he will answer, I know yon not, depart from me, you workers of iniquity. O, sad conclusion of a worldly and sinful life ! To avoid so dreadful a catastrophe, let us now, whilst we enjoy health and life,—now, whilst we have time and opportunity, serve God, keep his commandments, and make his gospel the rule of our conduct. This will comfort us upon our
death bed, and help us to depart out of this world with joy and satisfaction: then shall we find God ; when we call upon him, he will hear us, then will he answer: Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.
O, MY God ! is there anything in this world for the purchase of which I can be content to suffer so much horror and confusion at my last hour? No, certainly not. Can I then be so mad as not to seek thee now, whilst thou mayest be found ? Shall I defer my search after thee, till my last moments, and thus run the hazard of not finding thee, and of dying in my sins ? O, dearest Lord ! suffer me not to indulge
delusions so dangerous, nor to fall into so sad a calamity: let me not die the death of a sinner, but receive me into thy protection at my last hour. Imprint, O, my God! this serious truth deep upon my heart, that to die happily, I must love and serve thee faithfully. O, may my soul die the death of the just and may my last end be like unto theirs.
Whenever. O, Lord, it shall please thee to take me from hence, may thy grace enable me to die the death of the just : may it be my daily endeavor to prepare myself to meet thee at my last hour, that I may breathe out my soul in peace, and quietly resign it into thy hands : to attain this, I am resolved to prepare myself whilst thou affordest me time and opportunity. I will endeavor to live the life of the just, that I may hope my last end may be like unto theirs. O, comforting thought, which takes away all fear of death, blunts its sting, and removes all its terrors. What can we have to fear, O, my soul ! at the end of a well-spent life? What may I not hope for from thy goodness, O, my God? All that thou thyself canst give, with whom I shall then be eternally happy.
Lives of the Saints
, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
February 22.—ST. PETER'S CHAIR AT ANTIOCH.
THAT St. Peter, before he went to Rome, founded the see of Antioch is attested by many Saints. It was just that the Prince of the Apostles should take this city under his particular care and inspection, which was then the capital of the East, and in which the faith took so early and so deep root as to give birth in it to the name of Christians. St. Chrysostom says that St. Peter made' there a long stay; St. Gregory the Great, that he was seven years Bishop of Antioch; not that he resided there all that time, but only that he had a particular care over that Church. If he sat twenty-five years at Rome, the date of his establishing his chair at Antioch must be within three years after Our Saviour's Ascension; for in that supposition he must have gone to Rome in the second year of Claudius. In the first ages it was customary, especially in the East, for every Christian to keep the anniversary of his Baptism, on which he renewed his baptismal vows and gave thanks to God for his heavenly adoption: this they called their spiritual birthday. The bishops in like manner kept the anniversary of their own consecration, as appears from four sermons of St. Leo on the anniversary of his accession or assumption to the pontifical dignity; and this was frequently continued after their decease by the people, out of respect for their memory. St. Leo says we ought to celebrate the chair of St. Peter with no less joy than the day of his martyrdom; for as in this he was exalted to a throne of glory in heaven, so by the former he was installed head of the Church on earth.Reflection
.—On this festival we are especially bound to adore and thank the Divine Goodness for the establishment and propagation of His Church, and earnestly to pray that in His mercy He preserve the same, and dilate its pale, that His name may be glorified by all nations, and by all hearts, to the boundaries of the earth, for His divine honor and the salvation of souls, framed to His divine image, and the price of His adorable blood.Download free coloring pages!Jesus Gives Peter the Keys to the ChurchPope; Bishop of RomeSt. Peter's Basilica Rome
Find a notebooking page for today's feast in our February Notebooking Butler's Lives of the Saints download!
This Weeks Friday Fare
Holy Simplicity Planner Home*School*Liturgical Year
The 2013.2014 Holy Simplicity Planner & Printed Children's planners are coming soon! Are you signed up on our mailing list to get updates? Plan your homeschool, Liturgical Year and home life all in one easy convenient location! Children will manage their own school work with these unique Catholic Children's planners that also help them take a look at their daily practice of virtues. Click photos to find out more!
Catholic Children's Lesson Planners; Maidens for Mary & Crusader's for Christ
"When we feel us too faint, remember Christ's strength. In our fear, let us remember Christ's painful agony that Himself would (for our comfort) suffer before His passion, to the intent that no fear should make us despair."
- Blessed Thomas More -
Photo Credit: Holy Cards for Your Reflection
Yesterday's gospel was about Jesus being tempted in the desert, today's Lenten meditation from St. Thomas Aquainus is a continuation of that sermon. Yesterday's sermon and an explanation may be found over at Crusader's for Christ.
A blessed first week of Lent to you all!
Meditations for Lent
By: St. Thomas Aquainus
Imprimatur (MCMXXXVII) 1937
First Monday - CHRIST HAD TO BE TEMPTED IN THE DESERT
He was in the desert forty days and forty nights : and was tempted by Satan. Mark i. 13.i. It was by Christ's own will that He was exposed to the temptation by the devil, as it was also by His own will that He was exposed to be slain by the limbs of the devil. Had He not so willed, the devil would never have dared to approach him. The devil is always more disposed to attack those who are alone, because, as is said in Sacred Scripture, If a man shall prevail against one, two shall with stand him easily (Eccles. iv. 12). That is why Christ went out into the desert, as one going out to a battle-ground, that there he might be tempted by the devil. Whereupon St. Ambrose says that Christ went into the desert for the express purpose of provoking the devil. For unless the devil had fought, Christ would never have overcome him for me. St. Ambrose gives other reasons too. He says that Christ chose the desert as the place to be tempted for a hidden reason, namely that he might free from his exile Adam who, from Paradise, was driven into the desert ; and again that he did it for a reason in which there is no mystery, namely to show us that the devil envies those who are tending towards a better life. 2. We say with St. Chrysostom that Christ exposed himself to the temptation because the devil most of all tempts those whom he sees alone. So in the very beginning of things he tempted the woman, when he found her away from her husband. It does not however follow from this that a man ought to throw himself into any occasion of temptation that presents itself.
Occasions of temptation are of two kinds. One kind arises from man's own action, when, for example, man himself goes near to sin, not avoiding the occasion of sin. That such occasions are to be avoided we know, and Holy Scripture reminds us of it. Stay not in any part of the country round about Sodom (Gen. xix. 17). The second kind of occasion arises from the devil's constant envy of those who are tending to better things, as St. Ambrose says, and this occasion of temptation is not one we must avoid. So, according to St. John Chrysostom, not only Christ was led into the desert by the Holy Ghost, but all the children of God who possess the Holy Ghost are led in like manner. For God's children are never content to sit down with idle hands, but the Holy Ghost ever urges them to undertake for God some great work. And this, as far as the devil is concerned, is to go into the desert, for in the desert there is none of that wickedness which is the devil's delight.
Every good work is as it were a desert to the eye of the world and of our flesh, for good works are contrary to the desire of the world and of our flesh. To give the devil such an opportunity of temptation as this is not dangerous, for it is much more the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, who is the promoter of every perfect work, that prompts us than the working of the devil who hates them all. (3 41 2.)
Books, newspapers, television, movies, radio are all large sources of temptations in our day and age, for more reading on this topic hop on over to Crusader's for Christ and read about Bad Books and also our blog post on the Forbidden Book List.
Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. 1894
February 15.—STS. FAUSTINUS and JOVITA, Martyrs.FAUSTINUS and Jovita were brothers, nobly born, and zealous professors of the Christian religion, which they preached without fear in their city of Brescia, while, the bishop of that place lay concealed during the persecution. Their remarkable zeal excited the fury of the heathens against them, and procured them a glorious death for their faith at Brescia in Lombardy, under the Emperor Adrian. Julian, a heathen lord, apprehended them: and the emperor himself, passing through Brescia, when neither threats nor torments could shake their constancy, commanded them to be beheaded. They seem to have suffered about the year 121. The city of Brescia honors them as its chief patrons, possesses their relics, and a very ancient church in that city bears their names.
Reflection.—The spirit of Christ is a spirit of martyrdom—at least of mortification and penance. It is always the spirit of the cross. The more we share in the suffering life of Christ, the greater share we inherit in His spirit, and in the fruit of His death. To souls mortified to their senses and disengaged from earthly things, God gives frequent foretastes of the sweetness of eternal life, and the most ardent desires of possessing Him in His glory. This is the spirit of martyrdom, which entitles a Christian to a happy resurrection and to the bliss of the life to come.
This Weeks Friday Fare
It's Coming! The 2013-2014 Holy Simplicity Planner is due to be out May 2013. Plan your home, school & Liturgical year all in one place with double spread monthly planning sheets, double spread weekly planning sheets and Liturgical season and feast planning sheets. For a preview and more details please visit the Holy Simplicity Planner page.
Manual of the Holy Catholic Church
Of all the stories of the Old Testament, that of Jonas and the conversion of Niuive is the most wonderful. The great, prosperous heathen city of Assyria stood out amongst the cities of the earth as one whose wickedness came up hefore God. Its destruction was at hand; yet one more warning was to be given to it. Jonas was to preach a divine threat in its thoroughfares. "Yet forty days and Ninive shall be destroyed." And for three days the prophet proclaimed the terrible truth. "And the men of Ninive believed in God; and they ordered a fast, and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least. And the word came to the king of Ninive ; and he rose up out of his throne, and cast away his robe from him, and was clothed in sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and
published in Ihe city from the mouth of the king and the princes, saying: 'Let neither man nor beast, oxen nor sheep, taste anything; let them not feed, nor taste water. And let men and beasts be covered
with sackcloth, and cry to the Lord with all their strength ; and let them turn from their evil ways, and from the iniquity that is on their hands. Who can tell whether God will turn away from His fierce anger, and we shall not perish?' "
This was no exterior conversation, no outward semblance of penance and humiliation. "God is not mocked." He sees the heart. And the heart of the Ninivites must have been truly contrite, truly
humbled. For "God saw their works, that they were turned from their evil ways ; and God had mercy regarding the evil which He had said He would do to them, and He did it not."
Such was the effect of a call to penance upon a pagan, sensual people; such was its power with God that it stayed His avenging hand. The three Sundays— Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima--
bring us by easy steps within sight of Lent, the Church's time for penance, fasting, and special prayer. "Yet forty days," is the cry. How are we going to listen to the warning voice? "But we are not pagans," we may say; "our wickedness does not go up before the Lord like that of the Assyrians. What was good for the wicked is not approved good for us." The answer is, penance is good for the holy as well as for the sinful. It preserves as well as atones. Saints have felt the need of it in all ages and at all times, at the beginning of their conversion and at the end of their lives. In whichever category, therefore, we may think well to place ourselves —saint or sinner— penance is necessary for us. And we know it well.
We are not true to our best nature when we deny the need of mortification. For we feel the struggle within us, the conflict between the good and the bad. We know the good should conquer, and that it
cannot conquer without pain, and that this pain is mortification in one form or another. Why do we dread penance? Because it opposes our lower nature; in simple terms, because it hurts. Nature shrinks from what hurts.
Yet it is astonishing how soon penance becomes easy when it is undertaken with courage. Courage counts as two-thirds of the necessary outfit for any undertaking, natural or supernatural. What we have then, is to brace ourselves up to look forward bravely, and suffer magnanimously all the little mortifications proposed by the Church as to fasting, abstinence, and prayer. They are few enough as it is. Far be it from us to wish them fewer or less binding. Above all, let us remember that whatever exemptions we may justly ask, we cannot justly exempt ourselves from the spirit of penance during Lent. We must feel its pressure, come under its discipline.
The very weakness or labor that keeps us from fasting may itself be our penance, if suffered in tlie right spirit. Now, is this determination to spend the forty days of Lent in the spirit of the Church going to make us sad or long-faced? God forbid! We might as well be Pharisees at once. If mortification does
not bring with it cheerfulness and holy joy, there is something wrong with it, and we had better find out what it is as soon as possible. No. The most mortified are the most cheerful. Those shiver most who bathe at the edge of the sea and get wet by driblets. Those who plunge in deep are in a glow before they feel the shock. Those who do penance grudgingly do not taste its joy. Dare I be amongst the cheerful givers, the generous sufferers ? Yes, because "the love of Jesus urgeth me."
More reading on Ash Wednesday...
Manual of the Holy Catholic Church
St. Valentine - February 14.
Of St. Valentine few particulars are known. He was a holy priest of Rome, put to death about the year 270. One of the great Roman gates was built in his honor and called after him. It is now known as "del Popolo." But the name of St. Valentine has come down to us associated with the remnant of a pagan custom, that of choosing for a year some person to whom honor should be paid. The casting of lots was held on the 15th of February, and with it began the Roman festival of Lupercalia, in honor of the god Pan and the goddess Jimo. To put down so dangerous a feast-making, the Church, according to Alban Butler, instituted the custom of drawing saints to be venerated for a year on the feast of St. Valentine, the day preceding that of the pagan lot-drawing, thus substituting heavenly for earthly love.
This old, old custom of choosing some one to love, to be looked up to, sets one thinking. So widespread a custom, lasting, too, for so long a time through the pagan . "Through tlie Middle Ages, even to our own day, seems to point to some natural cause. And it does. We are social beings in the natural and supernatural order, conscious of weakness and insufficiency when standing alone. In the garden of Paradise the foundation of society was laid when Adam said, "a man shall leave father and mother and cleave to his wife," showing that at no period of his life need he stand alone. The supernatural order is based upon the two great laws, '' Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
And there is such a stretching out of hands towards our fellow-creatures, such an expansion of heart at the sight of suffering or sorrow or need, that we have to be on our guard, lest it work in us merely from a natural goodness without the sacred stamp of grace. This custom then of drawing saints to be our patrons for the year is a happy thought, bearing upon the inward yearning towards others; it is an expression of the loneliness of the human heart, its want of sympathy ; it is also the bond between Heaven and earth. We are not made like the beasts with our eyes level with the ground, tending downwards. "We have a right to invade the unseen world, to choose helpers there, to count upon assistance and comfort and cheering, where there is so much consolation, help, and joy.
A certain number of patrons were chosen for us by our parents without our having a say in the matter. Otliers we ourselves chose at coniinnation, but Avithout any very distinct idea of what we were doing, perhaps. But our patron on Valentine's day can be one of mature deliberation, based upon a natural attraction and admiration, one whose example in the battle-field of life will be a help to us in our hour of trial. The more communion we can have with Heaven the better for us. The more our interests lie above, the less will the chains of earth rivet us to things below. And the chains of earth do bind. They bind in childhood and in youth; in middle manhood and old age. So the spirit that soars upward is the brave spirit, the safest, the happiest, and the strongest. There have been those who, in extreme old age, could show a long list of patrons whom they had honored for a year each with particular devotion, and when the allotted time was over added them to the long list of their predecessors, and invoked them still with the new Valentine of the New Year. What an array there
would be of choice spirits to meet such as these when they came to their Heavenly reward.
To some of us who do not love multiplicity our own namesake may be our perpetual Valentine—the patron given to us at our baptism, or chosen at our confirmation, or at any other solemn occasion.
Let these then become realities to us, living friends and helpers, substantial guardians. The Heavenly patron will never be wanting to His earthy client— of that we may be sure. Let us not be wanting to
him. St. Valentine, pray for us!
Symbols & Link's for St. Valentine's Feast Day
The almond is a symbol for Christ and is often used on this Feast Day which reminds us of the love of Christ. Below are two wonderful tidbits about this symbolism with more resources to follow.
An Excerpt of A prose by Adam of Saint Victor
The Liturgical Year - Christmas Vol. 1 By: Dom Gueranger Imprimatur 1927
Aaron's sapless branch yields leaf and flower and almond: so does the chaste Virgin her Child, the Son of God. Gedeon's fleece bears the dew from heaven; the creature bears the creature's ransome - the Creator. The leaf and flower, the almond and the dew, are mystic emblems of our Saviour's love. Jesus is the leaf that shades us; the sweet flower that regales us; the almond-nut that feeds us; the dew that waters us with heavenly grace. Why is it that the Virgin's delivery should be a stumbling-block to the Jews' Have they forgotten the dry branch of Aaron, how it bore the almonds? Let us once more contemplate the almond-nut; for, viewed in its true light, it is the mystic emblem of him that is the Light. It unites in iteself three things, and all three it gives to man: unction, light and food. Jesus is the almond-nut. The rind is the cross and passion he endured in the Flesh: the shell is his Body - his Flesh and Bones. The Divinity and the sweetness of Jesus, which are sheathed within the Flesh, are figured by the kernel. Jesus is Light to the blind and unction to the sick, and soothing to holy souls.The Marriage of the Blessed Virgin - another writing on the symbolism of Almonds/Almond BranchVisit our Almond Pinterest board for some great recipes! My favorite is the almond covered pretzel
- the prezel being a symbol for praying hands and almonds a symbol for Christ. Perfect for St. Valentine's Day especially this year as it falls during Lent!Multiplying Divine Love with St. Valentine- File Folder Game 9x tablesAdding Divine Love with St. Valentine - File Folder Game 9 addition tablesSaint Valentine Bookmarks and Holy Cards to Download and PrintSt. Valentine brings the Holy Eucharist Coloring PageSaint Valentine Word SearchSaint Valentine Maze Printable
Check out our BLOG entries for the Feast of Saint Valentine
!Visit our St. Valentine Page for MORE printable (coloring pages, cards, etc.)