Jesus answered: ‘Will you lay down your life for me?’ - John 13:38

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-Pope Benedict XVI

Pray for Pope Benedict's prayer intentions for this month. Find out more here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sub Tuum Praesidium

An ancient prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the oldest known version of which is found on an Egyptian papyrus from the 3rd century. This prayer is used in Litanies to the Blessed Mother and as a concluding prayer to Compline. A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who recite it.

SUB tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus1, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen. WE fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

Still Gregorian chant:

The earliest text of this hymn was found in a Coptic Orthodox Christmas liturgy of the third century. It is written in Greek and dates to approximately 250. It is used in the Coptic liturgy to this day, as well as in the Byzantine, Ambrosian, and Roman liturgies.

Two more versions:

Bl. Herman Joseph (boy holding apples), St. Stephen of Hungary (King),
St. Charles Borromeo (Kneeling Cardinal), St. Dominic (holding lily),
St. Anselm (Standing Bishop), St. Nothburga (Sickle over her head).

Picture from Holy Cards

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Legion Picture

- From an allocutio by the Very Rev. Francis J. Canon Ripley taken from Talks to Legionaries

The Legion picture is meant to be an inspiration and to teach all who study it the Legion’s devotional outlook.

The general design reproduces the outline of the Vexilium or Standard. Then the picture depicts the Legion prayers. The invocation and collect of the Holy Spirit and the Rosary are pictured by the dove overshadowing Mary and filling her with supernatural light and divine fire. In this way we are reminded of that moment toward which all time before it moved and from which all time after it has fallen. It lied at the centre of time, the moment when a young maiden at Nazareth consented that the infinite God should take flesh within her and so became the mother of God and the channel of his grace to all men. Active and auxiliary Legionaries everywhere are bound to this glorious mother by her Rosary. They try to render effective the words of Pope Pius IX: "I could conquer the world if I had an army to say the Rosary."

The presence of the Holy Spirit on our picture reminds us of His visible coming on Mary and the Apostles. It was, we might say, the Church’s Confirmation and can we doubt that Mary was the channel of it, that it was brought about through Mary’s prayers? On that day the Church was born. The Holy Spirit filled it with the apostolic fire which was to renew the face of the earth. As Pope Pius XII wrote: “"It was her most powerful intercession that obtained for the new-born Church that prodigious outpouring of the Spirit of the divine redeemer" As it was then, so it is now. The task of the Church is to enkindle that fire in the hearts of men. The lighting of it is a grace and like every other it comes through Mary’s prayers.

Look at the border of the picture and you see a representation of the Catena for the letters of the Latin texts are each in the links of the chain. Now look at the portrait of Mary herself. She is depicted as he antiphon of the Catena proclaims her, as “She that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array.” She is the Morning Star, heralding the dawn of the Sun of Justice. So the artist has adorned her brow in the picture with a brilliant.

The principal item in our Catena is Mary’s own canticle, the song of the triumph of her humility, so the first verse of the Magnificat is inscribed over Mary’s head. Was not this a thought which was ever present in her mind? Was not her spirit always raised to the praising of God? But do not overlook that the letters are letters of fire. The zeal of Mary’s followers must be as a burning fire, consuming every obstacle to the apostolate. All the time it must be saturated with the spirit of Mary’s humility. Otherwise it will radiate self instead of Christ God wills still to depend on His humble Mother for His conquests. He continues to accomplish great things for His glory by the agency of those who are united with her.

The Versicle and Response of the Catena are those of the Immaculate Conception, which is one of the primary devotions of the Legion. The words set in the chain border also refer to it. They come from God’s promise of redemption to the serpent in the third chapter of the Book of Genesis: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head.” In the picture we see this warfare. Between Christ and Satan enmity is complete. Likewise it is complete between Mary and Satan. All those who are consecrated to her share in this enmity. So the picture shows the conflict between the Legion and the powers of evil which are falling back scattered in defeat.

Glance at the picture again and you will see the significance of its arrangement. Between the Holy Ghost at the top and the globe below (which is surrounded by the good and bad who are embraced in the world of souls) is the bond of Mary, the Channel of all Graces, who is depicted as aflame with charity. Those who love her most will be most enriched. Typical of them is the Beloved Disciple who rests on the heart of Christ and lovingly accepted Mary as his mother. That is why, in the chain border, are included Our Lord’s words from the Cross: “Woman, behold thy son: behold thy Mother.”

Every line of the picture mirrors our concluding prayers. See the Legion there advancing in battle array, led by its Queen, bearing her standard, “the Crucifix in their right hand, the Rosary in their left, the Sacred names of Jesus and Mary in their hearts and the modest and mortification of Jesus Christ in their behaviour. “ (St. Louis-Marie de Montfort). We pray that our faith will be our Legion’s Pillar of Fire and so it is represented in the picture, as the fire which melts all Legionary hearts into one and guides them on to victory. St. Elizabeth proclaimed that Mary was blessed because she believed; the words of that proclamation are also in the border: “Blessed art thou that hast believed.” The pillar is Mary who saved the world by her faith. Through encircling gloom she still leads on without a possibility of error all those who call her blessed.

At the end of our prayer is a reminder of eternity: “So that the battle of life over, our Legion may reassemble without the loss of anyone in the Kingdom of Thy love and glory.” What a wonderful roll call that will be, when the faithful Legionaries will muster shoulder to shoulder to receive the incorruptible crown of their membership.

As we say our Rosary we might as well gaze upon out picture, which is also reproduced on the Tessera. In Roman times, the Tessera was like a tally or token which was divided amongst friends so that they and their descendants might always recognize each other. The Roman Legion understood by the Tessera a square tablet on which their watchwords was written and circulated to all.

These ideas are followed by Mary’s Legion. Every member should have a Tessera. It contains the watchword, our prayers. It is the bond of unity and brotherhood between all Legionaries anywhere in the world.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rosa Mystica

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

'The Rose is a mystery' - where is it found?
Is it anything true? Does it grow on the ground?
It was made of the earth's mould, but it went from men's eyes,
And its place is a secret, and shut in the skies.
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
Find me a place by thee, Mother of mine.

But where was it formerly? Which is the spot
That was blest in it once, though now it is not?
It is Galilee's growth; it grew at God's will
and broke into bloom upon Nazareth Hill.
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
I shall look on thy loveliness, Mother of mine.

What was its season, then? How long ago?
When was the summer that saw the Bud blow?
Two thousands of years are near upon past
Since its birth, and its bloom, and its breathing its last.
I shall keep time with thee, Mother of mine.
Tell me the name now, tell me its name:

The heart guesses easily, is it the same?
Mary, the Virgin, well the heart knows,
She is the Mystery, she is that Rose.
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
I shall come home to thee, Mother of mine.

Is Mary that Rose then? Mary, the tree?
But the Blossom, the Blossom there, who can it be?
Who can her Rose be? It could be but One:
Christ Jesus, our Lord - her God and her Son.
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
Shew me thy son, Mother, Mother of mine.

What was the color of that Blossom bright?
White to begin with, immaculate white.
But what a wild flush on the flakes of it stood,
When the Rose ran in crimsoning down the Cross wood.
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
I shall worship the Wounds with thee, Mother of mine.

How many leaves had it? Five they were then,
Five like the senses, and members of men;
Five is the number by nature, but now
They multiply, multiply, who can tell how.
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
Make me a leaf in thee, Mother of mine.

Does it smell sweet, too, in that holy place?
Sweet unto God, and the sweetness is grace;
The breath of it bathes the great heaven above,
In grace that is charity, grace that is love.
To thy breast, to thy rest, to thy glory divine
Draw me by charity, Mother of mine.

Caritas in Veritate--in small doses

Fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom (cf. Jn 8:32) and of the possibility of integral human development. For this reason the Church searches for truth, proclaims it tirelessly and recognizes it wherever it is manifested. This mission of truth is something that the Church can never renounce. Her social doctrine is a particular dimension of this proclamation: it is a service to the truth which sets us free. Open to the truth, from whichever branch of knowledge it comes, the Church's social doctrine receives it, assembles into a unity the fragments in which it is often found, and mediates it within the constantly changing life-patterns of the society of peoples and nations.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

On active participation

Important too for any participation in the liturgy is the elevation of the spirit of the worshipper. Ultimately, liturgy is prayer, the supreme prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, petition and reparation. Prayer is the raising of the heart and the mind to God as Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. The means to achieve such elevation of the spirit in prayer onvolve all the activities of the human person, both spirit and body. Such means produce true actuosa participatio. Thus beauty, whether it appeals to the sight, the ear, the imagination or any of the senses, is an important element in achieving participation. The architectural splendor of a great church or the sound of great music, or the solemnity of ceremonial movement by ministers clothed in precious vestments, or the beauty of the proclaimed word - all can effect a true and salutary participation in one who himself has not sung a note or taken a step. But he is not a mere spectator as some would say; he is actively participating because of his baptismal character and the grace stirred up in him by what he is seeing and hearing, thinking and praying.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pope Benedict's new encyclical: Caritas in Veritate

The Pope's new encyclical has finally been released!



1. Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity. Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth. Each person finds his good by adherence to God's plan for him, in order to realize it fully: in this plan, he finds his truth, and through adherence to this truth he becomes free (cf. Jn 8:22). To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity.

"The Prime Minister of China who became a Benedictine Abbot"

CHRISTIANITY HAS A LONG and varied history in China stretching over at least one-and-a-half millenia. The ancient country has even had Christian leaders, such as the Congregationalist founder of the Chinese Republic, Sun Yat-sen, and his Methodist successor, Gen. Chiang Kai-shek (head of the Kuomintang for nearly forty years). Still, until I read this fascinating story in the Catholic Herald I had no idea that there was a Prime Minister of China, Lou Tseng-tsiang (陸徵祥), who ended his days as a Benedictine monk by the name of Dom Pierre-Célestin.

From the New Liturgical Movement