Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Holy Innocents' Day is observed on December 28, 2015. The Massacre of the Innocents is the biblical narrative of infanticide by Herod the Great, the Roman appointed King of the Jews. The number of infants killed is not stated, however the Holy Innocents have been claimed as the first Christian martyrs. The commemoration of the massacre of these "Holy Innocents" - considered by some Christians as the first martyrs for Christ - first appears as a feast of the western church in the Leonine Sacramentary, dating from about 485.

Today, the date of Holy Innocents' Day, also called The Innocents' Day or Childermas or Children's Mass, varies. The 27th of December is the date for West Syrians and East Syrians. 28th December is the date in the Church of England, the Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church (in which, except on Sunday, violet vestments were worn before 1961, instead of red, the normal liturgical colour for celebrating martyrs). The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates the feast on 29 December.

Rachel still weeps for all children killed by the evil actions of those participating in governance. There is an ongoing struggle between life and death. Christians are engaged in that conflict every single day. We cannot ever withdraw from the obligations it entails. One of those obligations is the defense of the Right to Life of children in the womb. Those who use Pope Francis in some contrived effort to persuade Catholics to back down from such an unequivocally Pro-Life position are selectively reading this Pope. Francis is simply reminding us that our defense of the child in the womb must also include a defense of all human persons and all of the poor and vulnerable. No-one, to use the words of Francis - can be discarded.

The killing of the Holy Innocents continues in this age through legal abortion and every politician or political leader who
supports it is a Herod.
On December 28th Roman Catholic Christians commemorate the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents, the male Hebrew children slaughtered by an evil ruler named Herod:

"When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more'. (Matt. 2)

Rachel still weeps for all children who are killed by the evil actions of those participating in governance. There is an ongoing struggle between life and death underway. Christians are engaged in that conflict every single day. We cannot ever withdraw from the obligations it entails. One of those obligations is the defense of the Right to Life of children in the womb.

Medical science confirms what the Natural Law, our conscience, the Word of God and the unbroken Christian tradition have long confirmed, the child in the womb is one of us. We all know it. We routinely operate on her when she needs our help and place her back in her first home of the womb until birth. We prosecute a criminal who, in committing a crime against his mother, kills him as well.

The abortion lie has been visibly revealed through 3 and 4d ultrasound technology. The beauty of that child now adorns our walls and fills our wallets. Every procured abortion is the intentional killing of such a holy innocent. This act is as immoral as the intentional killing of child outside of the womb. That is because we are always human persons in development. The me at 61 years old is the same me who was alive at 27 years old, only developing in the continuum of the span of days we call our human life.

No politician or public official who supports legal abortion is a real friend of the poor. That is true regardless of their party affiliation and no matter what rhetoric or political sophistry they engage in. As Mother Teresa reminded us, the baby in the womb is the poorest of the poor. The Obama Administration continues the evil of Herod by funding this killing of Holy Innocents.

The killing of the Holy Innocents continues in this age through legal abortion and every politician or political leader who supports it is a Herod.Planned Parenthood receives millions in government grants and contracts. A majority of the members of the Congress of the United States are now complicit in evil by failing to remove funds from the recent budget compromise bill. That money will now go to Planned Parenthood to continue the evil of funding abortions. This is utterly reprehensible.

This nefarious organization has dressed itself up as a Health Care Provider. They include the taking of the life of innocent children under what is euphemistically called reproductive services. There is nothing reproductive about abortion. It is not a service to the child who is being killed, the mother, the father or society. Nor is it health care. It is killing children, plain and simple. Funding it is always morally repugnant. Every member of Congress who supported the current budget bill and failed to act to remove the funding for Planned Parenthood should be ashamed of themselves.

On September 22, 2013, Pope Francis addressed an international gathering of Catholic Gynecologists and told them "Every child that isn't born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord." Every child killed by legal abortion in this age is a Holy Innocent. Every politician who supports this killing, implicitly or explicitly, carries on the evil of Herod.

Quodvultdeus was a deacon and Church father in the 5th century. He wrote concerning the evil ruler named Herod whose murder of the Hebrew children we recall today in the Roman catholic Liturgical calendar:

"A tiny child is born, who is a great king. Wise men are led to him from afar. They come to adore one who lies in a manger and yet reigns in heaven and on earth. When they tell of one who is born a king, Herod is disturbed. To save his kingdom he resolves to kill him, though if he would have faith in the child, he himself would reign in peace in this life and forever in the life to come.

"Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil. But because you do not understand this you are disturbed and in a rage, and to destroy one child whom you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of so many children.

"You are not restrained by the love of weeping mothers or fathers mourning the deaths of their sons, nor by the cries and sobs of the children. You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart. You imagine that if you accomplish your desire you can prolong your own life, though you are seeking to kill Life himself.

"Yet your throne is threatened by the source of grace, so small, yet so great, who is lying in the manger. He is using you, all unaware of it, to work out his own purposes freeing souls from captivity to the devil. He has taken up the sons of the enemy into the ranks of God's adopted children.

"The children die for Christ, though they do not know it. The parents mourn for the death of martyrs. The child makes of those as yet unable to speak fit witnesses to himself. See the kind of kingdom that is his, coming as he did in order to be this kind of king. See how the deliverer is already working deliverance, the savior already working salvation.

"But you, Herod, do not know this and are disturbed and furious. While you vent your fury against the child, you are already paying him homage, and do not know it. How great a gift of grace is here! To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory."

For my fellow Catholic Christians, let me state it emphatically, the teaching of our Church is absolutely clear. Every professing Catholic is duty bound to embrace it - and act on it in the exercise of their citizenship. This teaching is summarized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It cannot- and it will not - ever change:

"Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. (Jer 1:5; cf. Job 10:8-12; Ps 22:10-11) "My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. (Ps 139:15).

"Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law: "You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish." (Didache 2,2:SCh 248,148; cf. Ep. Barnabae 19,5:PG 2 777; Ad Diognetum 5,6:PG 2,1173; Tertullian, Apol. 9:PL 1,319-320.) God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes. (GS 51 § 3)"

"Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae - by the very commission of the offense," and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.


"The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation: "The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.

"The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights." (CCC #2271 - 2273)

Elected leaders and political candidates who oppose the Natural Law Right to Life of the child in the womb - and directly or indirectly promote abortion as a legally protected choice - are the King Herod's of this hour. We cannot - and we must not - support any candidate for public office who will not recognize the inalienable Right to Life of every single human person, including the child in the womb. We must be unequivocal in our defense of every innocent human life from conception to natural death.

Those who use Pope Francis in some contrived effort to persuade Catholics to back down from such an unequivocally Pro-Life position are selectively reading this Pope. Francis is simply reminding us that our defense of the child in the womb must also include a defense of all human persons and all of the poor and vulnerable. No-one, to use the words of Francis, "can be discarded". I end with some more words from the speech he gave to the Catholic gynecologists in 2013:


"A widespread mentality of profits, the "culture of waste," that today enslaves the hearts and minds of so many, comes at a terribly high cost: it requires the elimination of human beings, especially if they are in a weaker physical or societal condition. Our response to this mentality is a "yes" to life, one that is decisive and without hesitation. "The first right of a human person is his own life. He has other goods and some of these are quite precious; but this is the foundational good, the condition for all others" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Procured Abortion, Nov. 18, 1974, no. 11).

"Material things have a price and can be sold, but human persons have a dignity; they are worth more than material things and have no price. So many times, we encounter situations where we see that life is of little account. For this reason the attention to human life in its totality has become in recent times a true and appropriate priority for the Magisterium of the Church, particularly to the most defenseless; that is, to the disabled, to the sick, to the unborn child, to the infant, to the elderly, the most defenseless forms of life.

"In the fragile human being, each of us is invited to recognize the face of the Lord, who in his human flesh has experienced the indifference and the loneliness to which we often condemn the most impoverished, both in the countries of the developing world and in affluent societies. Every child that is not born, but condemned unjustly to being aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord, who even before birth, and then as soon as he is born, experiences the rejection of the world.

"And every elderly person, and-I have spoken about the child; let us turn to the elderly, another point! And every elderly person, even if he is infirm or at the end of his days, carries within himself the face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the "culture of waste" proposes to us! They cannot be discarded!"

Rachel Still Weeps: The Killing of the Holy Innocents by Planned Parenthood and Politicians Must End. Pray, live and vote Pro-Life.


By Deacon Keith Fournier
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!


Let us bow down before Him - the CHRIST,
The One Who gave Himself as Ransom for our souls!
The only One that WOULD, the only One that COULD.
Oh come let us adore Him, but not just today, and not just halfheartedly ... but every day and with all our hearts!

Christmas itself bespeaks peace and love. It's a time when we stop, even if just for a brief moment and recognize each other as brothers and sisters of the same family. All one in the Body, for that is what we truly are if we call ourselves Christians. We, for the most part, set aside petty differences and some, by the grace of God, hurts and resentments that have festered for years and even decades. This is the magic of Christmas. The Grace, Love and Peace that He gives freely if we but look in His direction and receive it.
Let everyone's prayer be to have this not just today, but always and forever!
The Jubilee Year of Mercy is over - Pray like you never have before! Especially for those souls that feel the world is more real than eternity. This could very well be the last chance for Mercy we have, and those that miss it, will have to walk through the Door of Justice. I pray that our Lady's Immaculate heart will triumph by the 100th Anniversary of Fatima. With the world tight in the evil one's grips, now more than ever do we see prophecy unfolding before our very eyes. Pray for families of the faithful martyrs of our day who are being given white robes till their number is complete. Pray for hearts and eyes to open, ears to hear and souls to KNOW the Truth that *is* Jesus. PRAY FOR ALL THOSE THAT MISSED THE PHENOMENAL GRACES FROM THE YEAR OF MERCY! Stay in the state of grace ... Confession and Communion are needed to remain strong and give us the grace and stamina to support each other in prayer and every other way we can, especially with evangelization. 

Please let our prayer for this next year be for those that have lost their way, strayed from the path and not only forgot the precious Gift of Christmas, but the reason and the Path to Easter Sunday that leads to Eternal Happiness. Pray for those in mortal sin that are in so much darkness, they can't even SEE the light, let alone what surrounds them in this valley of tears. 

Let our daily prayer be:
"Eternal God, thank You for sending Your only begotten Son to the world to offer us a way back to You. That He suffered and died for our sins is too hard for our human intellect to fully understand and we cringe to know our own sins put Him there. But we beg You Father to accept our continuous prayer; united to the Perfect & Holy Passion of Jesus, we offer You our joys, sorrows, breaths, heartbeats and tears to strengthen the faithful, renew the lukewarm, restore the fallen away and convert the proud. Merciful Father, Whose tender Love has no bounds, grant, in Your Goodness and Mercy that we always embrace Your Perfect Will in all things with a joyful heart. Please cover us with the Precious Blood of Jesus in which we trust and rely. Send the Holy Spirit to renew our souls and our land that it may bring You honor and glory and we may, once again, be a nation under God! Bring us daily closer to the Sacred & Immaculate Hearts and increase our Faith that we may always strengthen each other, in Jesus' Name. Amen."

Let this new year renew in our souls the fervent hope that all be saved and none be lost. Let us remember always to pray and do penance for those in our families and all we hold dear that have fallen away to renew and SHARE their Faith with all who cross their path, as we should. Pray especially for those whose hearts are good but necks are stiff; those who do good for others but for whatever reason have turned away from formal practice and are too proud to search for the Truth; for those who feel they have been hurt (real or perceived) by God and have hardened their hearts towards Him ... and for those that satan has convinced that they're 'good enough' to get into heaven as they are, putting worldly things first rather than eternal things. 

Above all else: PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!!!

Ephesians 6:12: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood; but against principalities, powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."


"The date is December twenty-fifth, but to the humble man, it is Christmas; the manger is a throne; the straw is royal plumage; the stable is a castle; and the Babe is God. He found Power because He was weakness, and the Infinite, Immense and Eternal God, because He was little – for it is only by being little that we ever discover anything big. He lies upon straw on earth and yet sustains the universe and reigns in Heaven; He is born in time, and yet He existed before all time; Maker of the stars under the stars; Ruler of the earth an Outcast of earth; filling the world, lying in a manger. And yet the proud man sees only a Babe. The humble, simple souls, who are little enough to see the bigness of God in the littleness of a Babe, are therefore the only ones who will ever understand the reason of His visitation. He came to the poor earth of ours to carry on an exchange; to say to us, as only the Good God could say: You give Me your humanity, and I will give you My Divinity; you give Me your time, and I will give you My eternity, you give Me your weary body, and I will give you Redemption; you give Me your broken heart, and I will give you Love; you give Me your nothingness, and I will give you My All. Thus the birthday of the God-Man is the children’s day, in which age, like a crab, turns backwards, in which the wrinkles are smoothed by the touch of a recreating hand, in which the proud become children, and the big become little, and all find God."  ~~(The Eternal Galilean)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas Eve

THE CHRISTMAS BIRDS
It was a particularly cold and blustery Christmas Eve this year ..... Carol bundled up the children for Midnight Mass, and tried one last time to encourage Jim to join them. Now, Jim was a kindly man; a good father a loving husband ... in fact, there was nothing anyone could say at all against this upstanding civic leader !
Jim's only 'deficit' (if you could call it that), was that he chose not to go to Church ............................. ever.
It wasn't that he didn't believe in God.. it was simply that he felt 'uncomfortable' with structured religious activities of any sort, hence he avoided them as much as possible.
At any rate, Carol and the children had left and Jim settled down in front of a nice roaring fire with his slippers, the newspaper and a cup of his favorite raspberry hot chocolate. This was HIS time to relax, with most of the hustle bustle of the season behind him now, he relished the thought to be alone and kick back!
He placed his "reading" glasses auspiciously at the end of his nose and began to peruse the newspaper. "THUMP"... "THUMP" he heard against the front of the house. "hmmmmm, must be some kids having one last snowball battle before Mass" he thought to himself with a grin, remembering his own youth!
Again he heard: "THUMP"..."THUMP".... "THUMP", but this time against the glass of the new bow window just installed this past fall! He figured he'd better stick his head out the door and have a chat with the kids before things got out of hand. When he turned on the front light and looked out the door there was noone in sight at all. Convinced that he needed MORE rest and relaxation than he thought, he returned to his paper, his fire and his (now) luke-warm raspberry hot chocolate.
No sooner did he sit down, then once again, the "THUMPING" started; but this time it was harder and more frequent. Determined to confront whoever was playing games with him and robbing him of his solitude, he bundled himself up, went out the back door and around the house to 'catch 'em in the act'!!
As he made his way around the house in the blustering wind, and snow storm, he marveled as he recalled how, in his youth, he was impervious to such trivialities!
He rounded the west corner of the house and could see plainly the front landing and the bow window that he was attempting to protect. His plan of attack worked! There were the villians right there in plain sight!! Much to his surprise however, it was not a snowball fight at all ... it was a group of cold, frantic birds.
The "THUMPING" he heard, was their feeble attempt to find some shelter from the biting storm that raged wildly. Jim's heart melted at this pittiful sight!! He ran to the barn, and put on the light, hoping that they would notice and take shelter in there for the night ..... but HOW to get them IN there? He ran in the house, grabbed a loaf of bread and made a trail of crumbs from the front door to the barn, but - to no avail. He turned off the front door light and paraded back and forth from there to the barn with a flashlight, hoping the birds would follow him, but his strange presence only served to frighten them and add to their misfortune.
Finally, in his frustration, and knowing that if he didn't do SOMETHING to save them, they would surely DIE ... he got a broom and attempted to SHOO them into the barn. Unfortunately, this caused more havoc than the other attempts, and left Jim standing there feeling completely helpless.
As he was mulling over his feeble attempts and trying to find a way to make the birds UNDERSTAND that he was trying to help them and bring them to safety, he realized that whatever he did only served to frighten them. He thought: "If I could only just become ONE OF THEM, then they wouldn't be afraid of me, and I could make them understand that I was only trying to ......... trying to .......... "
At that very moment the Church bells rang, Jim realized that this was exactly what Jesus had done for humankind. He became ONE OF US so He could SHOW US THE WAY to salvation ("safety"). Jim fell to knees in adoration of that Little Babe in the Manger and thanked God for the Precious Gift of His SON on the first Christmas, so very long ago!!

(He also started going to Church with the family on a regular basis! )
not the end .... it's just ........... the BEGINNING :-)

May the New Year be especially kind to US ALL!


Eternal Father, may Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven

Beg the Holy Spirit to engulf the minds and hearts of all mankind to be open to the Truth, Love,
Mercy and Goodness of Christ our Lord, Savior and Triune God!
When you pray ... do not forget your friends and loved ones; both here on earth and those that have stepped into eternity.
May the Good Lord shower His most Choice Blessings on those that love Him and
open the hearts and minds of those that are
selectively blind and deaf.
May He have mercy on us all!
Amen.

Keep the wicks trimmed and the oil lamps full!


 The song says: "A Child, A Child shivers in the cold, let us bring Him silver and gold ..."  
 Let us all, on this Christmas Eve and throughout our lives, not give Him what the WORLD considers valuable, but let us give Him what TRULY IS VALUABLE and that which He desires MOST ... our love for Him and for each other. We have but to open our hearts to invite Him in ..
He waits always ready to enter! God bless us, yes ... EVERYONE! ;)
Merry Christmas and may the New Year be especially kind to us!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Christ the King Novena 11/11-12/7

Novena to Christ the King
Recite One Our Father, One Hail Mary and One Glory Be per day followed by the Novena Prayer:

O Lord our God, You alone are the Most Holy King and Ruler of all nations. We pray to You, Lord, in the great expectation of receiving from You, O Divine King, mercy, peace, justice and all good things. Protect, O Lord our King, our families and the land of our birth. Guard us we pray Most Faithful One. Protect us from our enemies and from Your Just Judgment Forgive us, O Sovereign King, our sins against you. Jesus, You are a King of Mercy. We have deserved Your Just Judgment Have mercy on us, Lord, and forgive us. We trust in Your Great Mercy. O most awe-inspiring King, we bow before You and pray; May Your Reign, Your Kingdom, be recognized on earth. Amen.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

All Souls Day November 2nd


All Souls Day is a holy day set aside for honoring the dead. The day is primarily celebrated in the Catholic Church, but it is also celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church and a few other denominations of Christianity. The Anglican church is the largest protestant church to celebrate the holy day. Most protestant denominations do not recognize the holiday and disagree with the theology behind it.
According to Catholic belief, the soul of a person who dies can go to one of three places. The first is heaven, where a person who dies in a state of perfect grace and communion with God goes. The second is hell, where those who die in a state of mortal sin are naturally condemned by their choice. The intermediate option is purgatory, which is thought to be where most people, free of mortal sin, but still in a state of lesser (venial) sin, must go.
Purgatory is necessary so that souls can be cleansed and perfected before they enter into heaven. There is scriptural basis for this belief. The primary reference is in 2 Maccabees, 12:26 and 12:32. "Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out... Thus made atonement for the dead that they might be free from sin."
Additional references are found in Zechariah, Sirach, and the Gospel of Matthew. Jewish tradition also reinforces this belief as well as the tradition and teaching of the Church, which has been affirmed throughout history.
Consistent with these teachings and traditions, Catholics believe that through the prayers of the faithful on Earth, the dead are cleansed of their sins so they may enter into heaven.
The belief in purgatory has not been without controversy. Certainly, some flagrant abuses of the doctrine were used to raise money for the Church during the renaissance. Famously, Martin Luther argued with the monk, Johan Tetzel, over the sale of indulgences. Indulgences were sold as spiritual pardons to the poor and applied to the souls of the dead (or the living) to get people into heaven. The abuse of indulgences and the blatant, sometimes fraudulent practice of selling indulgences for money, led to Luther's protest.
When Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, he omitted the seven books of the canon which refer to prayers for the dead. He then introduced the heretical belief that people are simply saved, or not, and argued that there is no need to pray for the dead to get them into heaven.
The Church reeled from Luther's accusation, and reformed its practice of selling indulgences. However, it reemphasized the Biblical and traditional practice of praying for the departed and the importance of such prayers.
All Souls Day is celebrated in much of the western world on November 2. Other rites have their own celebrations. The Eastern Orthodox Church has several such days throughout the year, mostly on Saturdays. All Souls Day is not a holy day of obligation. It should not be confused with All Saints' Day, which is a holy day of obligation.
Many cultures also mark the day differently. In North America, Americans may say extra prayers or light candles for the departed. In parts of Latin America, families visit the graves of their ancestors and sometimes leave food offerings for the departed.

More about All Souls' Day from Wikipedia

All Souls' Day commemorates the faithful departed. In Western Christianity, this day is observed principally in the Catholic Church, although some churches of the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Churches also celebrate it. The Eastern Orthodox churches observe several All Souls' Days during the year. The Roman Catholic celebration is associated with the doctrine that the souls of the faithful who at death have not been cleansed from the temporal punishment due to venial sins and from attachment to mortal sins cannot immediately attain the beatific vision in heaven, and that they may be helped to do so by prayer and by the sacrifice of the Mass (see Purgatory).[1] In other words, when they died, they had not yet attained full sanctification and moral perfection, a requirement for entrance into Heaven. This sanctification is carried out posthumously in Purgatory.
The official name of the celebration in the Roman Rite liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church is "The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed".[1]
Another popular name in English is Feast of All Souls. In some other languages the celebration, not necessarily on the same date, is known as Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos or de los Difuntos in Spanish-speaking countries; halottak napja in Hungary; Yom el Maouta in Lebanon, Israel and Syria).
The Western celebration of All Souls' Day is on 2 November and follows All Saints' Day, which commemorates the departed who have attained the beatific vision. If 2 November falls on a Sunday, the Mass is of All Souls, but the Office is that of the Sunday. However, Morning and Evening Prayer (Lauds and Vespers) for the Dead, in which the people participate, may be said. In pre-1969 calendars, which some still follow, and in the Anglican Communion, All Souls Day is instead transferred, whenever 2 November falls on a Sunday, to the next day, 3 November, as in 2008.
The Eastern Orthodox Church dedicates several days throughout the year to the dead, mostly on Saturdays, because of Jesus' resting in the tomb on Saturday.

The Western celebration

All Souls' Day procession, Tucson, Arizona, 2008
Historically, the Western tradition identifies the general custom of praying for the dead dating as far back as 2 Maccabees 12:42-46. The custom of setting apart a special day for intercession for certain of the faithful on November 2 was first established by St. Odilo of Cluny (d. 1048) at his abbey of Cluny in 998.[2] From Cluny the custom spread to the other houses of the Cluniac order, which became the largest and most extensive network of monasteries in Europe. The celebration was soon adopted in several dioceses in France, and spread throughout the Western Church. It was accepted in Rome only in the fourteenth century. While 2 November remained the liturgical celebration, in time the entire month of November became associated in the Western Catholic tradition with prayer for the departed; lists of names of those to be remembered being placed in the proximity of the altar on which the sacrifice of the mass is offered.[3]
The legend connected with its foundation is given by Peter Damiani in his Life of St Odilo: a pilgrim returning from the Holy Land was cast by a storm on a desolate island. A hermit living there told him that amid the rocks was a chasm communicating with purgatory, from which perpetually rose the groans of tortured souls. The hermit also claimed he had heard the demons complaining of the efficacy of the prayers of the faithful, and especially the monks of Cluny, in rescuing their victims. Upon returning home, the pilgrim hastened to inform the abbot of Cluny, who then set 2 November as a day of intercession on the part of his community for all the souls in Purgatory.

Eastern-Rite Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox churches

Among Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians, there are several All Souls' Days during the year. Most of these fall on Saturday, since Jesus lay in the Tomb on Holy Saturday. These are referred to as Soul Saturdays. They occur on the following occasions:
  • The Saturday of Meatfare Week (the second Saturday before Great Lent).the day before the Sunday of the Last Judgement
  • The second Saturday of Great Lent
  • The third Saturday of Great Lent
  • The fourth Saturday of Great Lent
  • Radonitsa (Monday or Tuesday after Thomas Sunday)
  • The Saturday before Pentecost
  • Demetrius Saturday (the Saturday before the feast of Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki.26 October) (In the Bulgarian Orthodox Church there is a commemoration of the dead on the Saturday before the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel.8 November, instead of the Demetrius Soul Saturday)
(In the Serbian Orthodox Church there is also a commemoration of the dead on the Saturday closest to the Conception of St. John the Baptist.23 September)
Saturdays throughout the year are devoted to general prayer for the departed, unless some greater feast or saint's commemoration occurs.

Protestantism and Roman Catholic Church

At the Reformation the celebration of All Souls' Day was fused with All Saints' Day in the Anglican Church, though it was renewed individually in certain churches in connection with the Catholic Revival of the 19th century. The observance was restored with the publication of the 1980 Alternative Service Book, and it features in Common Worship as a Lesser Festival called "Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (All Souls' Day)".
Among continental Protestants its tradition has been more tenaciously maintained. Even Luther's influence was not sufficient to abolish its celebration in Saxony during his lifetime; and, though its ecclesiastical sanction soon lapsed even in the Lutheran Church, its memory survives strongly in popular custom. Just as it is the custom of French people, of all ranks and creeds, to decorate the graves of their dead on the jour des morts, so German [3] and Polish people stream to the graveyards once a year with offerings of flowers and special grave lights (see the picture), and among Czech people the custom of visiting and tidying graves of relatives on the day is quite common even among atheists. In North America, however, most Protestant acknowledgment of the holiday is generally secular, celebrated in the form of Halloween festivities.

Folklore

The origins of All Souls' Day in European folklore and folk belief are related to customs of ancestor veneration[citation needed] practised worldwide, through events such as the Chinese Ghost Festival, the Japanese Bon Festival, or the Mexican Day of the Dead. The Roman custom was that of the Lemuria.
In Tirol, cakes are left for them on the table and the room kept warm for their comfort. In Brittany, people flock to the cemeteries at nightfall to kneel, bareheaded, at the graves of their loved ones, and to anoint the hollow of the tombstone with holy water or to pour libations of milk on it. At bedtime, the supper is left on the table for the souls.
In Bolivia, many people believe that the dead eat the food that is left out for them. In Brazil people attend a mass or visit the cemetery taking flowers to decorate their relatives' grave, but no food is involved.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

All Saints' Day


All Saints' Day is a solemn holy day of the Catholic Church celebrated annually on November 1. The day is dedicated to the saints of the Church, that is, all those who have attained heaven. It should not be confused with All Souls' Day, which is observed on November 2, and is dedicated to those who have died and not yet reached heaven.
Although millions, or even billions of people may already be saints, All Saints' Day observances tend to focus on known saints --that is those recognized in the canon of the saints by the Catholic Church.
All Saints' Day is also commemorated by members of the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as some protestant churches, such as Anglican, Lutheran and Anglican churches.
Generally, All Saints' Day is a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation, meaning all Catholics are required to attend Mass on that day, unless they have an excellent excuse, such as serious illness.
Other countries have different rules according to their national bishop's conferences. The bishops of each conference have the authority to amend the rules surrounding the obligation of the day.
All Saints' Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13 in 609 AD. Boniface IV also established All Souls' Day, which follows All Saints.
The choice of the day may have been intended to co-opt the pagan holiday "Feast of the Lamures," a day which pagans used to placate the restless spirits of the dead.
The holy day was eventually established on November 1 by Pope Gregory III in the mid-eighth century as a day dedicated to the saints and their relics. The May 13 celebration was subsequently abandoned.
In Ireland, the Church celebrated All Saints' Day on April 20, to avoid associating the day with the traditional harvest festivals and pagan feasts associated with Samhain, celebrated at the same time.
Following the establishment of the Frankish Empire, and following the reign of Charlemagne, the holy day, which was already celebrated on November 1, became a holy day of obligation by decree of Pope Gregory IV and Louis the Pious, who was king over a portion of Charlemagne's former empire.
Following the Protestant Reformation, many Protestants retained the holy day, although they dismissed the need to pray for the dead. Instead, the day has been used to commemorate those who have recently died, usually in the past year, and to remember the examples of those who lived holy lives.
The Catholic practice however, celebrates all those who have entered heaven, including saints who are recognized by the Church and those who are not.
Holy day customs vary around the world. In the United States, the day before is Halloween and is usually celebrated by dressing in costumes with themes of death commonly associated. Children go door-to-door in costume, trick-or-treating, that is soliciting candy from their neighbors. The holiday has lost much of its connection to its religious origins.
Although nearly everyone celebrates Halloween for the fun of the secular holiday, the following religious solemnity, is not widely practiced or acknowledged by most Americans unless they are Catholic.
In other countries, such as Portugal, Spain and Mexico, traditional practices include performance of the play, "Don Juan Tenorio" and offerings made to the dead. All Saints' Say occurs on the same day as the Mexican "Dide los Innocentes" a day dedicated to deceased children.
Across much of Europe, the day is commemorated with offerings of flowers left on the graves of the dead. In Eastern Europe, candles are lit on graves instead of offerings of flowers.
In some places, such as the Philippines, graves can be painted and repaired by family members. Many of these practices blur the distinction between All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.
These celebrations often blur the distinction between All Saints' Day, which is properly dedicated to those who are in heaven, and All Souls' Day, on which prayers are offered for all those who have died, but have not yet reached heaven.
In Mexico, the Day of the Dead holy days extend from October 31 through November 2.
It is important to remember these basic facts:
Halloween is a secular holiday that comes the night before All Saints' Day.
All Saints' Day is on November 1, and it is a Holy Day of Obligation.
All Souls' Day in on November 2, and it is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation.
The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that has spread in popularity into parts of the United States and across Latin America. It is celebrated from October 31 through November 2, to coincide with both the American tradition and the Catholic holy days. Those three days are dedicated to all of the dead.to all of the dead.

More about All Saints' Day from Wikipedia

All Saints' Day (in the Roman Catholic Church officially the Solemnity of All Saints and also called All Hallows or Hallowmas[1]), often shortened to All Saints, is a solemnity celebrated on 1 November by parts of Western Christianity, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Christianity, in honor of all the saints, known and unknown.
In Western Christian theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. It is a national holiday in many historically Catholic countries. In the Roman Catholic Church, the next day, All Souls' Day, specifically commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven. Catholics celebrate All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day in the fundamental belief that there is a prayerful spiritual communion between those in the state of grace who have died and are either being purified in purgatory or are in heaven (the 'church penitent' and the 'church triumphant', respectively), and the 'church militant' who are the living. Other Christian traditions define, remember and respond to the saints in different ways.

In the East

Eastern Orthodox icon of All Saints. Christ is enthroned in heaven surrounded by the ranks of angels and saints. At the bottom is Paradise with the bosom of Abraham (left), and the Good Thief (right).
Eastern Christians of the Byzantine Tradition follow the earlier tradition of commemorating all saints collectively on the first Sunday after Pentecost, All Saints' Sunday.
The feast of All Saints achieved great prominence in the ninth century, in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor, Leo VI "the Wise" (886.911). His wife, Empress Theophano.commemorated on December 16.lived a devout life. After her death in 893,[2] her husband built a church, intending to dedicate it to her. When he was forbidden to do so, he decided to dedicate it to "All Saints," so that if his wife were in fact one of the righteous, she would also be honored whenever the feast was celebrated.[3] According to tradition, it was Leo who expanded the feast from a commemoration of All Martyrs to a general commemoration of All Saints, whether martyrs or not.
This Sunday marks the close of the Paschal season. To the normal Sunday services are added special scriptural readings and hymns to all the saints (known and unknown) from the Pentecostarion.
The Sunday following All Saints' Sunday.the second Sunday after Pentecost.is set aside as a commemoration of all locally venerated saints, such as "All Saints of America", "All Saints of Mount Athos", etc. The third Sunday after Pentecost may be observed for even more localized saints, such as "All Saints of St. Petersburg", or for saints of a particular type, such as "New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke."
In addition to the Sundays mentioned above, Saturdays throughout the year are days for general commemoration of all saints, and special hymns to all saints are chanted from the Octoechos.

In the West

The Western Christian holiday of All Saints' Day falls on November 1, followed by All Souls' Day on November 2, and is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.
The origin of the festival of All Saints celebrated in the West dates to May 13, 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs; the feast of the dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since. There is evidence that from the fifth through the seventh centuries there existed in certain places and at sporadic intervals a feast date 13 May to celebrate the holy martyrs.[4] The origin of All Saints' Day cannot be traced with certainty, and it has been observed on various days in different places. However, there are some who maintain the belief that it has origins in the pagan observation of 13 May, the Feast of the Lemures, in which the malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated. Liturgiologists base the idea that this Lemuria festival was the origin of that of All Saints on their identical dates and on the similar theme of "all the dead".[5]
The feast of All Saints, on its current date, is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III (731.741) of an oratory in St. Peter's for the relics "of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world", with the day moved to 1 November and the 13 May feast suppressed.[6]
This usually fell within a few weeks of the Celtic holiday of Samhain, which had a theme similar to the Roman festival of Lemuria, but which was also a harvest festival. The Irish, having celebrated Samhain in the past, did not celebrate All Hallows Day on this November 1 date, as extant historical documents attest that the celebration in Ireland took place in the spring: "...the Felire of Oengus and the Martyrology of Tallaght prove that the early medieval churches [in Ireland] celebrated the feast of All Saints on April 20."[7]
A November festival of all the saints was already widely celebrated on November 1 in the days of Charlemagne. It was made a day of obligation throughout the Frankish empire in 835, by a decree of Louis the Pious, issued "at the instance of Pope Gregory IV and with the assent of all the bishops", which confirmed its celebration on November 1. The octave was added by Pope Sixtus IV (1471.1484).[8]
The festival was retained after the Reformation in the calendar of the Anglican Church and in many Lutheran churches. In the Lutheran churches, such as the Church of Sweden, it assumes a role of general commemoration of the dead. In the Swedish calendar, the observance takes place on the Saturday between October 31 and November 6. In many Lutheran Churches, it is moved to the first Sunday of November. It is also celebrated by other Protestants of the English tradition, such as the United Church of Canada, the Methodist churches, and the Wesleyan Church.[9]
Protestants generally regard all true Christian believers as saints and if they observe All Saints Day at all they use it to remember all Christians both past and present. In the United Methodist Church, All Saints' Day is celebrated on the first Sunday in November. It is held, not only to remember Saints, but also to remember all those that have died that were members of the local church congregation.[10] In some congregations, a candle is lit by the Acolyte as each person's name is called out by the clergy. Prayers and responsive readings may accompany the event. Often, the names of those who have died in the past year are afixed to a memorial plaque.
In many Lutheran churches, All Saints' Day and Reformation Day are observed concurrently on the Sunday before or after those dates, given Reformation Day is observed in Protestant Churches on October 31. Typically, Martin Luther's A Mighty Fortress is Our God is sung during the service. Besides discussing Luther's role in the Protestant Reformation, some recognition of the prominent early leaders of the Reformed tradition, such as John Calvin and John Knox, occurs. The observance of Reformation Day may be immediately followed by a reading of those members of the local congregation who have died in the past year in observance of All Saints' Day. Otherwise, the recognition of deceased church members occurs at another designated portion of the service.

Roman Catholic Obligation

In the Roman Catholic Church, All Saints' Day is a Holy Day of Obligation in many (but not all) countries, meaning going to Mass on the date is required unless one has a good reason to be excused from that obligation, such as illness. However, in a number of countries that do list All Saints' Day as a Holy Day of Obligation, including England & Wales, the solemnity of All Saints' Day is transferred to the adjacent Sunday if 1 November falls on a Monday or a Saturday, while in the same circumstances in the United States the Solemnity is still celebrated on November 1 but the obligation to attend Mass is abrogated.

Customs

All Saints' Day at a cemetery in O.wi.cim, Poland, 1 November 1984
In Portugal, Spain, and Mexico, offerings (Portuguese: oferendas, Spanish: ofrendas) are made on this day. In Spain, the play Don Juan Tenorio is traditionally performed. In Mexico, All Saints Day coincides with the celebration of "DĂ­de los Inocentes" (Day of the Innocents), the first day of the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) celebration, honoring deceased children and infants. In Portugal, children celebrate the PĂŁpor-Deus tradition, and go door to door where they receive cakes, nuts and pomegranates. This only occurs in some areas around Lisbon.
In Austria, Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain, and American Cities such as New Orleans people take flowers to the graves of dead relatives.
In Poland, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Croatia, Austria, Romania, Moldova, Hungary and Catholic parts of Germany, the tradition is to light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives.
In the Philippines, this day, called "Undas", "Todos los Santos" (literally "All Saints"), and sometimes "Araw ng mga Patay" (approximately "Day of the dead") is observed as All Souls' Day. This day and the one before and one after it is spent visiting the graves of deceased relatives, where prayers and flowers are offered, candles are lit and the graves themselves are cleaned, repaired and repainted.
In English-speaking countries, the festival is traditionally celebrated with the hymn "For All the Saints" by William Walsham How. The most familiar tune for this hymn is Sine Nomine by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Catholics generally celebrate with a day of rest consisting of avoiding physical exertion.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Saint Jude Thaddeus - October 28th

Often called “The Miraculous Saint”, Saint Jude is the patron saint of "lost causes" and "cases despaired
of " , when all other avenues are closed, he is the one to call upon, and his help often comes at the last moment. He is one whose aid is sought when all hope is lost, especially in grave health matters and life-and-death situations.

Saint Jude Thaddeus was closely associated with our Lord by blood relationship through Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin. A grand-nephew of these two saints, he is at once a nephew of Mary and Joseph, which places him in the relationship of cousin of our Lord. Saint Jude is known mainly as the author of the New Testament Epistle of Jude He heartens Christians to remain steadfast in the faith and foretells that false teachers, leading wicked lives and ridiculing religion, will arise, but that they will be punished. He likewise encourages Christians to build a spiritual edifice by living lives founded upon faith, love of God, hope, and prayer. He inspires the practice of love of neighbor; he urges Christians to endeavor to convert the heretics by the virtues of their lives.

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Prayer in Great Affliction

St. Jude Thaddeus, relative of Jesus Christ, glorious Apostle and martyr, renowned for your virtues and miracles, faithful and
prompt intercessor of all who honor you and trust in you! You are a powerful patron and helper in great afflictions. I entreat you from the depths of my heart; come to my aid with your powerful intercession, for you have received from God the privilege to assist with your visible help those who almost despair of all hope. Look down upon me. Time and again I find myself discouraged and depressed by the troubles I must face. I know that others around me have burdens as heavy or heavier than mine but I sometimes come close to despairing that I will be able to continue carrying mine. Overwhelmed by these thoughts, I ask your help.
Do not forsake me in my sadness. Hasten to my aid. I will be grateful to you all my life and will honor you as my special patron. I will thank God for the graces bestowed upon you, and will encourage honor to you to best of my ability. Amen.

Let Us Pray

Glorious Apostle and martyr, St. Jude Thaddeus, whose life and accomplishments we celebrate and who used your gifts and talents to bring Christ's love to many people, pray for us today that the love of Christ in our lives may increase. Pray that we may renounce every sinful habit and refrain from all selfish actions. May we always know your intercession in danger and difficulty, and may we safely reach heaven to adore with you the most Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

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PRAYER TO ST. JUDE

O, Great Saint Jude
Whose traitor-sounding name
By man's perceptions crude
Confused is with the obloquy and blame
Of him who to our gain and his disaster
Betrayed so kind a Master;
We, seeing more clear, concede thee what was thine;
The glory of a place beside that board
Whereon, awaiting their predestined hour
Of bowing to all-Good, all-Love, all-Power,
Lay bread and wine
Before that Host adored
Through whom our hope and our salvation came;
Thy kinsman, and our Lord.
O, thou, the sad day done,
Taking the homeward road
To thine obscure abode
In the long shadows of the setting sun,
To meet the frightened crowd
Sobbing aloud,
With thine Aunt Mary silent in their midst,
Leaning upon
The faithful arm of John;
Saint Jude, who didst
Join them in unbelief
And utter agony of grief,
And in a voice of pain and terror cried:
"Saw'st thou--and thou--
Saws't thou indeed my Cousin crucified?"
O, by the memory of that hour of birth
Wherein Heaven's door opened to us of earth,
Befriend--befriend us now!

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Monday, October 24, 2016

St. Anthony Mary Claret

St. Anthony Mary Claret CLARETIAN ARCHBISHOP AND FOUNDER - Patron of Weavers, Savings, and Publishers
Born: December 23, 1807, Sallent - Died: October 24, 1870, Fontfroide - Canonized: May 7, 1950 by Pope Pius XII

The founder of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Anthony Mary Claret died in the Cistercian monastery at Fontfroide in France on this date in 1870. He was canonized in 1950 and listed in the Roman Calendar in 1960. Anthony was born at Salent in the Diocese of Vich in Catalonia, Spain, in the year in which Napoleon invaded Spain. He was trained for manual labor, since his father was a weaver, but in 1829 he entered the seminary at Vich. Ordained to the priesthood in 1835, he was assigned as pastor in his home parish. Later he went to Rome to work for the Propagation of the Faith. He also entered the novitiate of the Jesuits but had to leave because of ill health, so he returned to Spain and was assigned as pastor of a parish. His apostolate consisted of rural preaching, conferences for the clergy and publications (he wrote more than 150 books). Because of his successful apostolate he aroused the animosity of some of the clergy and as a result he left Catalonia for the Canary Islands (1848).

After a year he returned to Catalonia and resumed his preaching apostolate.In 1849 Anthony gathered together five priests who formed the basis of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (popularly known as Claretians). At the suggestion of the Queen of Spain, Isabella II, Anthony was named archbishop of Santiago, Cuba (1850). For the next seven years he made pastoral visitations, preached against the slavery of the Negroes, and regularized numerous marriages. As a result of his activity he was frequently threatened with death and on one occasion an attempt was actually made on his life. In 1857 he was recalled to Spain as confessor to the queen. In this way he was able to exert some influence in the naming of bishops, set up a center of ecclesiastical studies at the Escorial, and work towards the recognition of religious orders in Spain. In 1869 he was in Rome, preparing for the First Vatican Council. He followed Isabella II into exile and at the insistence of the Spanish ambassador, was placed under house arrest in the Cistercian monastery at FontFroide, where he died at the age of 63. His remains were ultimately returned to Vich.

SOURCE: The Catholic Encyclopedia
More info here: Our Lady of the Rosary Library

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Feast Day SAINT TERESA OF AVILA VIRGIN, FOUNDRESS—1515-1582 A.D.








In the Autobiography which she completed towards the end of her life, Saint Teresa of Avila gives us a description of her parents, along with a disparaging estimate of her own character. "The possession of virtuous parents who lived in the fear of God, together with those favors which I received from his Divine Majesty, might have made me good, if I had not been so very wicked." A heavy consciousness of sin was prevalent in sixteenth-century Spain, and we can readily discount this avowal of guilt. What we are told of Teresa's early life does not sound in the least wicked, but it is plain that she was an unusually active, imaginative, and sensitive child. Her parents, Don Alfonso Sanchez de Capeda and Dona Beatriz Davila y Ahumada, his second wife, were people of position in Avila, a city of Old Castile, where Teresa was born on March 28, 1515. There were nine children of this marriage, of whom Teresa was the third, and three children of her father's first marriage.

Piously reared as she was, Teresa became completely fascinated by stories of the saints and martyrs, as was her brother Roderigo, who was near her own age and her partner in youthful adventures. Once, when Teresa was seven, they made a plan to run away to Africa, where they might be beheaded by the infidel Moors and so achieve martyrdom. They set out secretly, expecting to beg their way like the poor friars, but had gone only a short distance from home when they were met by an uncle and brought back to their anxious mother, who had sent servants into the streets to search for them. She and her brother now thought they would like to become hermits, and tried to build themselves little cells from stones they found in the garden. Thus we see that religious thoughts and influences dominated the mind of the future saint in childhood.

Teresa was only fourteen when her mother died, and she later wrote of her sorrow in these words: "As soon as I began to understand how great a loss I had sustained by losing her, I was very much afflicted; and so I went before an image of our Blessed Lady and besought her with many tears that she would vouchsafe to be my mother." Visits from a girl cousin were most welcome at this time, but they had the effect of stimulating her interest in superficial things. Reading tales of chivalry was one of their diversions, and Teresa even tried to write romantic stories. "These tales," she says in her Autobiography, "did not fail to cool my good desires, and were the cause of my falling insensibly into other defects. I was so enchanted that I could not be happy without some new tale in my hands. I began to imitate the fashions, to enjoy being well dressed, to take great care of my hands, to use perfumes, and wear all the vain ornaments which my position in the world allowed." Noting this sudden change in his daughter's personality, Teresa's father decided to place her in a convent of Augustinian nuns in Avila, where other young women of her class were being educated. This action made Teresa aware that her danger had been greater than she knew. After a year and a half in the convent she fell ill with what seems to have been a malignant type of malaria, and Don Alfonso brought her home. After recovering, she went to stay with her eldest sister, who had married and gone to live in the country. Then she visited an uncle, Peter Sanchez de Capeda, a very sober and pious man. At home once more, and fearing that an uncongenial marriage would be forced upon her, she began to deliberate whether or not she should undertake the religious life. Reading the ,[1] helped her to reach a decision. St. Jerome's realism and ardor were akin to her own Castilian spirit, with its mixture of the practical and the idealistic. She now announced to her father her desire to become a nun, but he withheld consent, saying that after his death she might do as she pleased

This reaction caused a new conflict, for Teresa loved her father devotedly. Feeling that delay might weaken her resolve, she went secretly to the Carmelite convent of the Incarnation[2] outside the town of Avila, where her dear friend Sister Jane Suarez was living, and applied for admission. Of this painful step, she wrote: "I remember . . . while I was going out of my father's house—the sharpness of sense will not be greater, I believe, in the very instant of agony of my death, than it was then. It seemed as if all the bones in my body were wrenched asunder.... There was no such love of God in me then as was able to quench the love I felt for my father and my friends." A year later Teresa made her profession, but when there was a recurrence of her illness, Don Alfonso had her removed from the convent, as the rule of enclosure was not then in effect. After a period of intense suffering, during which, on one occasion, at least, her life was despaired of, she gradually began to improve. She was helped by certain prayers she had begun to use. Her devout Uncle Peter had given her a little book called the , by Father Francis de Osuna, which dealt with "prayers of recollection and quiet." Taking this book as her guide, she began to concentrate on mental prayer, and progressed towards the "prayer of quiet," with the soul resting in divine contemplation, all earthly things forgotten. Occasionally, for brief moments, she attained the "prayer of union," in which all the powers of the soul are absorbed in God. She persuaded her father to apply himself to this form of prayer.

After three years Teresa went back to the convent. Her intelligence, warmth, and charm made her a favorite, and she found pleasure in being with people. It was the custom in Spain in those days for the young nuns to receive their acquaintances in the convent parlor, and Teresa spent much time there, chatting with friends. She was attracted to one of the visitors whose company was disturbing to her, although she told herself that there could be no question of sin, since she was only doing what so many others, better than she, were doing. During this relaxed period, she gave up her habit of mental prayer, using as a pretext the poor state of her health. "This excuse of bodily weakness," she wrote afterwards, "was not a sufficient reason why I should abandon so good a thing, which required no physical strength, but only love and habit. In the midst of sickness the best prayer may be offered, and it is a mistake to think it can only be offered in solitude." She returned to the practice of mental prayer and never again abandoned it, although she had not yet the courage to follow God completely, or to stop wasting her time and talents. But during these years of apparent wavering, her spirit was being forged. When depressed by her own unworthiness, she turned to those two great penitents, St. Mary Magdalen and St. Augustine, and through them came experiences that helped to steady her will. One was the reading of St. Augustine's ; another was an overpowering impulse to penitence before a picture of the suffering Lord, in which, she writes, "I felt Mary Magdalen come to my assistance.... From that day I have gone on improving in my spiritual life."


When finally Teresa withdrew from the pleasures of social intercourse, she found herself able once more to pray the "prayer of quiet," and also the "prayer of union." She began to have intellectual visions of divine things and to hear inner voices. Though she was persuaded these manifestations came from God, she was at times fearful and troubled. She consulted many persons, binding all to secrecy, but her perplexities nevertheless were spread abroad, to her great mortification. Among those she talked to was Father Gaspar Daza, a learned priest, who, after listening, reported that she was deluded, for such divine favors were not consistent with a life as full of imperfections as hers was, as she herself admitted. A friend, Don Francis de Salsedo, suggested that she talk to a priest of the newly formed Society of Jesus. To one of them, accordingly, she made a general Confession, recounting her manner of prayer and extraordinary visions. He assured her that she experienced divine graces, but warned her that she had failed to lay the foundations of a true spiritual life by practices of mortification. He advised her to try to resist the visions and voices for two months; resistance proved useless. Francis Borgia, commissary-general of the Society in Spain, then advised her not to resist further, but also not to seek such experiences.

Another Jesuit, Father Balthasar Alvarez, who now became her director, pointed out certain traits that were incompatible with perfect grace. He told her that she would do well to beg God to direct her to what was most pleasing to Him, and to recite daily the hymn of St. Gregory the Great, "!" One day, as she repeated the stanzas, she was seized with a rapture in which she heard the words, "I will not have you hold conversation with men, but with angels." For three years, while Father Balthasar was her director, she suffered from the disapproval of those around her; and for two years, from extreme desolation of soul. She was censured for her austerities and ridiculed as a victim of delusion or a hypocrite. A confessor to whom she went during Father Balthasar's absence said that her very prayer was an illusion, and commanded her, when she saw any vision, to make the sign of the cross and repel it as if it were an evil spirit. But Teresa tells us that the visions now brought with them their own evidence of ,authenticity, so that it was impossible to doubt they were from God. Nevertheless, she obeyed this order of her confessor. Pope Gregory XV, in his bull of canonization, commends her obedience in these words: "She was wont to say that she might be deceived in discerning visions and revelations, but could not be in obeying superiors."

In 1557 Peter of Alcantara, a Franciscan of the Observance, came to Avila. Few saints have been more experienced in the inner life, and he found in Teresa unmistakable evidence of the Holy Spirit. He openly expressed compassion for what she endured from slander and predicted that she was not at the end of her tribulations. However, as her mystical experiences continued, the greatness and goodness of God, the sweetness of His service, became more and more manifest to her. She was sometimes lifted from the ground, an experience other saints have known. "God," she says, "seems not content with drawing the soul to Himself, but he must needs draw up the very body too, even while it is mortal and compounded of so unclean a clay as we have made it by our sins."

It was at this time, she tells us, that her most singular experience took place, her mystical marriage to Christ, and the piercing of her heart. Of the latter she writes: "I saw an angel very near me, towards my left side, in bodily form, which is not usual with me; for though angels are often represented to me, it is only in my mental vision. This angel appeared rather small than large, and very beautiful. His face was so shining that he seemed to be one of those highest angels called seraphs, who look as if all on fire with divine love. He had in his hands a long golden dart; at the end of the point methought there was a little fire. And I felt him thrust it several times through my heart in such a way that it passed through my very bowels. And when he drew it out, methought it pulled them out with it and left me wholly on fire with a great love of God." The pain in her soul spread to her body, but it was accompanied by great delight too; she was like one transported, caring neither to see nor to speak but only to be consumed with the mingled pain and happiness.[3]

Teresa's longing to die that she might be united with God was tempered by her desire to suffer for Him on earth. The account which the gives of her revelations is marked by sincerity, genuine simplicity of style, and scrupulous precision. An unlettered woman, she wrote in the Castilian vernacular, setting down her experiences reluctantly, out of obedience to her confessor, and submitting everything to his judgment and that of the Church, merely complaining that the task kept her from spinning. Teresa wrote of herself without self-love or pride. Towards her persecutors she was respectful, representing them as honest servants of God.

Teresa's other literary works came later, during the fifteen years when she was actively engaged in funding new convents of reformed Carmelite nuns. They are proof of her industry and her power of memory, as well as of a real talent for expression. she composed for the special guidance of her nuns, and the for their further edification. was perhaps meant for all Catholics; in it she writes with authority on the spiritual life. One admiring critic says: "She lays bare in her writings the most impenetrable secrets of true wisdom in what we call mystical theology, of which God has given the key to a small number of his favored servants. This thought may somewhat lessen our surprise that an unlearned woman should have expounded what the greatest doctors never attained, for God employs in His works what instruments He wills."

We have seen how undisciplined the Carmelite nuns had become, how the convent parlor at Avila was a social gathering place, and how easily nuns might leave their enclosure. Any woman, in fact, who wanted a sheltered life without much responsibility could find it in a convent in sixteenth-century Spain. The religious themselves, for the most part, were not even aware of how far they fell short of what their profession demanded. So when one of the nuns at the House of the Incarnation began talking of the possibility of founding a new and stricter community, the idea struck Teresa as an inspiration from Heaven. She determined to undertake its establishment herself and received a promise of help from a wealthy widow, Dona Guiomar de Ulloa. The project was approved by Peter of Alcantara and Father Angelo de Salazar, provincial of the Carmelite Order. The latter was soon compelled to withdraw his permission, for Teresa's fellow nuns, the local nobility, the magistrates, and others united to thwart the project. Father Ibanez, a Dominican, secretly encouraged Teresa and urged Dona Guiomar to continue to lend her support. One of Teresa's married sisters began with her husband to erect a small convent at Avila in 1561 to shelter the new establishment; outsiders took it for a house intended for the use of her family.

An episode famous in Teresa's life occurred at this time. Her little nephew was crushed by a wall of the new structure which fell on him as he was playing, and he was carried, apparently lifeless, to Teresa. She held the child in her arms and prayed. After some minutes she restored him alive and sound to his mother. The miracle was presented at the process for Teresa's canonization. Another seemingly solid wall of the convent collapsed during the night. Teresa's brother-in-law was going to refuse to pay the masons, but Teresa assured him that it was all the work of evil spirits and insisted that the men be paid.

A wealthy woman of Toledo, Countess Louise de la Cerda, happened at the time to be mourning the recent death of her husband, and asked the Carmelite provincial to order Teresa, whose goodness she had heard praised, to come to her. Teresa was accordingly sent to the woman, and stayed with her for six months, using a part of the time, at the request of Father Ibanez, to write, and to develop further her ideas for the convent. While at Toledo she met Maria of Jesus, of the Carmelite convent at Granada, who had had revelations concerning a reform of the order, and this meeting strengthened Teresa's own desires. Back in Avila, on the very evening of her arrival, the Pope's letter authorizing the new reformed convent was brought to her. Teresa's adherents now persuaded the bishop of Avila to concur, and the convent, dedicated to St. Joseph, was quietly opened. On St. Bartholomew's day, 1562 the Blessed Sacrament was placed in the little chapel, and four novices took the habit.

The news soon spread in the town and opposition flared into the open. The prioress of the Incarnation convent sent for Teresa, who was required to explain her conduct. Detained almost as a prisoner, Teresa did not lose her poise. The prioress was joined in her disapproval by the mayor and magistrates, always fearful that an unendowed convent would be a burden on the townspeople. Some were for demolishing the building forthwith. Meanwhile Don Francis sent a priest to Madrid, to plead for the new establishment before the King's Council. Teresa was allowed to go back to her convent and shortly afterward the bishop officially appointed her prioress. The hubbub now quickly subsided. Teresa was hence. forth known simply as Teresa of Jesus, mother of the reform of Carmel. The nuns were strictly cloistered, under a rule of poverty and almost complete silence; the constant chatter of women's voices was one of the things that Teresa had most deplored at the Incarnation. They were poor, without regular revenues; they wore habits of coarse serge and sandals instead of shoes, and for this reason were called the "discalced" or shoeless Carmelites. Although the prioress was now in her late forties, and frail, her great achievement still lay in the future.

Convinced that too many women under one roof made for relaxation of discipline, Teresa limited the number of nuns to thirteen; later, when houses were being founded with endowments and hence were not wholly dependent on alms, the number was increased to twenty-one. The prior general of the Carmelites, John Baptist Rubeo of Ravenna, visiting Avila in 1567, carried away a fine impression of Teresa's sincerity and prudent rule. He gave her full authority to found other convents on the same plan, in spite of the fact that St. Joseph's had been established without his knowledge.

Five peaceful years were spent with the thirteen nuns in the little convent of St. Joseph. Teresa trained the sisters in every kind of useful work and in all religious observances, but whether at spinning or at prayer, she herself was always first and most diligent. In August, 1567, she founded a second convent at Medina del Campo. The Countess de la Cerda was anxious to found a similar house in her native town of Malagon, and Teresa went to advise her about it. When this third community had been launched, the intrepid nun moved on to Valladolid, and there founded a fourth; then a fifth at Toledo. On beginning this work, she had no more than four or five ducats (approximately ten dollars), but she said, "Teresa and this money are nothing; but God, Teresa, and these ducats suffice." At Medina del Campo she encountered two friars who had heard of her reform and wished to adopt it: Antony de Heredia, prior of the Carmelite monastery there, and John of the Cross. With their aid, in 1568, and the authority given her by the prior general, she established a reformed house for men at Durelo, and in 1569 a second one at Pastrana, both on a pattern of extreme poverty and austerity. She left to John of the Cross, who at this time was in his late twenties, the direction of these and other reformed communities that might be started for men. Refusing to obey the order of his provincial to return to Medina, he was imprisoned at Toledo for nine months. After his escape he became vicar-general of Andalusia, and strove for papal recognition of the order. John, later to attain fame as a poet, mystic confessor, and finally saint, became Teresa's friend; a close spiritual bond developed between the young friar and the aging prioress, and he was made director and confessor in the mother house at Avila.

The hardships and dangers involved in Teresa's labors are indicated by a little episode of the founding of a new convent at Salamanca. She and another nun took over a house which had been occupied by students. It was a large, dirty, desolate place, without furnishings, and when night came the two nuns lay down on their piles of straw, for, Teresa tells us, "the first furniture I provided wherever I founded convents was straw, for, having that, I reckoned I had beds." On this occasion, the other nun seemed very nervous, and Teresa asked her the reason. "I was wondering," was the reply, "what you would do alone with a corpse if I were to die here now." Teresa was startled, but only said, "I shall think of that when it happens, Sister. For the present, let us go to sleep."

At about this time Pope Pius V appointed a number of apostolic visitors to inquire into the relaxations of discipline in religious orders everywhere. The visitor to the Carmelites of Castile found great fault with the Incarnation convent and sent for Teresa, bidding her to assume its direction and remedy the abuses there. It was hard to be separated from her own daughters, and even more distasteful to be brought in as head of the old house which had long opposed her with bitterness and jealousy. The nuns at first refused to obey her; some of them fell into hysterics at the very idea. She told them that she came not to coerce or instruct but to serve and to learn from the least among them. By gentleness and tact she won the affection of the community, and was able to reestablish discipline. Frequent callers were forbidden, the finances of the house were set in order, and a more truly religious spirit reigned. At the end of three years, although the nuns wished to keep her longer, she was directed to return to her own convent.

Teresa organized a nunnery at Veas and while there met Father Jerome Gratian, a reformed Carmelite, and was persuaded by him to extend her work to Seville. With the exception of her first convent, none proved so hard to establish as this. Among her problems there was a disgruntled novice, who reported the nuns to the Inquisition,[4] charging them with being Illuminati.[5]

The Italian Carmelite friars had meanwhile been growing alarmed at the progress of the reform in Spain, lest, as one of their number said, they might one day be compelled to set about reforming themselves, a fear shared by their still unreformed Spanish brothers. At a general chapter at Piacenza several decrees were passed restricting the reform. The new apostolic nuncio dismissed Father Gratian from his office as visitor to the reformed Carmelites. Teresa was told to choose one of her convents and retire to it, and abstain from founding others. At this point she turned to her friends in the world, who were able to interest King Philip II[6] in her behalf, and he personally espoused her cause. He summoned the nuncio to rebuke him for his severity towards the discalced friars and nuns. In 1580 came an order from Rome exempting the reformed from the jurisdiction of the unreformed Carmelites, and giving each party its own provincial. Father Gratian was elected provincial of the reformed branch. The separation, although painful to many, brought an end to dissension.

Teresa was a person of great natural gifts. Her ardor and lively wit was balanced by her sound judgment and psychological insight. It was no mere flight of fancy when the English Catholic poet, Richard Crashaw,[7] called her "the eagle" and "the dove." She could stand up boldly and bravely for what she thought was right; she could also be severe with a prioress who by excessive austerity had made herself unfit for her duties. Yet she could be gentle as a dove, as when she writes to an erring, irresponsible nephew, "God's mercy is great in that you have been enabled to make so good a choice and marry so soon, for you began to be dissipated when you were so young that we might have had much sorrow on your account." Love, with Teresa, meant constructive action, and she had the young man's daughter, born out of wedlock, brought to the convent, and took charge of her upbringing and that of his young sister.

One of Teresa's charms was a sense of humor. In the early years, when an indiscreet male visitor to the convent once praised the beauty of her bare feet, she laughed and told him to take a good look at them for he would never see them again-implying that in the future he would not be admitted. Her method of selecting novices was characteristic. The first requirement, even before piety, was intelligence. A woman could attain to piety, but scarcely to intelligence, by which she meant common sense as well as brains. "An intelligent mind," she wrote, "is simple and teachable; it sees its faults and allows itself to be guided. A mind that is dull and narrow never sees its faults even when shown them. It is always pleased with itself and never learns to do right." Pretentiousness and pride annoyed her. Once a young woman of high reputation for virtue asked to be admitted to a convent in Teresa's charge, and added, as if to emphasize her intellect, "I shall bring my Bible with me." "What," exclaimed Teresa, "your Bible? Do not come to us. We are only poor women who know nothing but how to spin and do as we are told."

In spite of a naturally sturdy constitution, Teresa continued throughout her life to suffer from ailments which physicians found baffling. It would seem that sheer will power kept her alive. At the time of the definitive division of the Carmelite Order she had reached the age of sixty-five and was broken in health. Yet during the last two years of her life she somehow found strength to establish three more convents. They were at Granada, in the far south, at Burgos, in the north, and at Soria, in Portugal. The total was now sixteen. What an astounding achievement this was for one small, enfeebled woman may be better appreciated if we recall the hardships of travel. Most of this extensive journeying was done in a curtained carriage or cart drawn by mules over the extremely poor roads; her trips took her from the northern provinces down to the Mediterranean, and west into Portugal, across mountains, rivers, and arid plateaus. She and the nun who accompanied her endured all the rigors of a harsh climate as well as the steady discomfort of rude lodgings and scanty food.

In the autumn of 1582, Teresa, although ill, set out for Alva de Tormez, where an old friend was expecting a visit from her. Her companion of later years, Anne-of-St. Bartholomew, describes the journey. Teresa grew worse on the road, along which there were few habitations. They could get no food save figs, and when they arrived at the convent, Teresa went to bed in a state of exhaustion. She never recovered, and three days later, she remarked to Anne, "At last, my daughter, I have reached the house of death," a reference to her book, . Extreme Unction was administered by Father Antony de Heredia, a friar of the Reform, and when he asked her where she wished to be buried. she plaintively replied, "Will they deny me a little ground for my body here?" She sat up as she received the Sacrament, exclaiming, "O my Lord, now is the time that we shall see each other! " and died in Anne's arms. It was the evening of October 4. The next day, as it happened, the Gregorian calendar came into use. The readjustment made it necessary to drop ten days, so that October 5 was counted as October 15, and this latter date became Teresa's feast day. She was buried at Alva; three years later, following the decree of a. provincial chapter of Reformed Carmelites, the body was secretly removed to Avila. The next year the Duke of Alva procured an order from Rome to return it to Alva de Tormez, and there it has remained.

Teresa was canonized in 1662. Shortly after her death, Philip II, keenly aware of the Carmelite nun's contribution to Catholicism, had her manuscripts collected and brought to his great palace of the Escorial, and there placed in a rich case, the key of which he carried on his person. These writings were edited for publication by two Dominican scholars and brought out in 1587. Subsequently her works have appeared in uncounted Spanish editions, and have been translated into many languages. An ever-spreading circle of readers through the centuries have found understanding and courage in the life and works of this nun of Castile, who is one of the glories of Spain and of the Church. Teresa's emblems are a heart, an arrow, and a book.

Interior Castle
This body has one fault, that the more people pamper it, the more its wants are made known. It is strange how much it likes to be indulged. How well it finds some good pretext to deceive the poor soul! . . . Oh, you who are free from the great troubles of the world, learn to suffer a little for the love of God without everyone's knowing it! . . .

And remember our holy fathers of past times and holy hermits whose life we try to imitate; what pains they endured, what loneliness, what cold, what hunger, what burning suns, without having anyone to complain to except God. Do you think that they were of iron? No, they were as much flesh as we are; and as soon as we begin, daughters, to conquer this little carcass, it will not bother us so much.... If you don't make up your mind to swallow, once and for all, death and loss of health, you will never do anything....

God deliver us from anybody who wishes to serve Him and thinks about her own dignity and fears to be disgraced.... No poison in the world so slays perfection as these things do....

There are persons, it seems, who are ready to ask God for favors as a matter of justice. A fine sort of humility! Hence He who knows all does well in giving it to them hardly ever; He sees plainly they are not fit to drink the chalice....

Sometimes the Devil proposes to us great desires, so that we shall not put our hand to what we have to do, and serve our Lord in possible things, but stay content with having desired impossible ones. Granting that you can help much by prayer, don't try to benefit all the world, but those who are in your company, and so the work will be better for you are much bounden to them.... In short, what I would conclude with is that we must not build towers without foundations; the Lord does not look so much to the grandeur of our works as to the love with which they are done; and if we do all we can, His Majesty will see to it that we are able to do more and more every day, if we do not then grow weary, and during the little that this life lasts—and perhaps it will be shorter than each one thinks—we offer to Christ, inwardly and outwardly, what sacrifice we can, for His Majesty will join it with the one He made to the Father for us on the Cross, that it may have the value which our will would have merited, even though our works may be small.

Although, as I told you, I felt reluctant to begin this work, yet now it is finished I am very glad to have written it, and I think my trouble is well spent, though I confess it has cost me but little.

Considering your strict enclosure, the little recreation you have, my sisters, and how many conveniences are wanting in some of your convents, I think it may console you to enjoy yourselves in this Interior Castle, where you can enter, and walk about at will, at any hour you please, without asking leave of your superiors.

It is true you cannot enter all the mansions by your own power, however great it may appear to you, unless the Lord of the Castle Himself admits you. Therefore I advise you to use no violence if you meet with any obstacle, for that would displease Him so much' that He would never give you admission to them. He dearly loves humility: if you think yourselves unworthy to enter the third mansion, He will grant you all the sooner the favor of entering the fifth. Then if you serve Him well there, and often repair to it, He will draw you into the mansion where He dwells Himself, where you need never depart, unless called away by the Prioress, whose commands the sovereign Master wishes you to obey as if they were His own. If, by her orders, you are often absent from His presence chamber, whenever you return He will hold the door open for you. When once you have learned how to enjoy this Castle, you will always find rest, however painful your trials may be, in the hope of returning to your Lord, which no one can prevent.

Although I have only mentioned seven mansions, yet each one contains many more rooms, above, below, and around it, with fair gardens, fountains, and labyrinths, besides other things so delightful that you will wish to consume yourself in praising the great God for them, Who has created the soul in His own image and likeness. If you find anything in the plan of this treatise which helps you to know Him better, be certain that it is sent by His Majesty to encourage you, and whatever you find amiss in it is my own.

In return for my strong desire to aid you in serving Him, my God and my Lord, I implore you, whenever you read this, to praise His Majesty fervently in my name, and to beg Him to prosper His Church, to give light to the Lutherans, to pardon my sins, and to free me from purgatory, where perhaps I shall be, by the mercy of God, when you see this book, provided it is given to you after having been examined by the theologians. If these writings contain any error, it is through my ignorance; I submit in all things to the teachings of the Holy Catholic Roman Church, of which I am now a member, as I protest and promise both to live and die. May our Lord God be forever praised and blessed. Amen. Amen.


The writing of this was finished in the convent of Saint Joseph of Avila, in the year 1577, on the vigil of Saint Andrew, to the glory of God, Who liveth and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen