Thursday, March 27, 2008

Blessed Lady Margaret

Here's another picture of my newest patron saint for you to enjoy. Here she is depicted about to be executed with her executioners. I've been praying with her all day and what a wonderful consolation this has been to my poor soul!

Blessed Lady Margaret, pray for me and for my family. Assist me in all my temporal and spiritual needs. Pray for me until I can one day bow down before the Throne with you in glory! I love you and await to see your face! Amen+

I plan to write a novena prayer to this dear saint and I'll post it when its completed!

Blessed Lady Margaret Plantagenet

My newest patron saint I here present - Blessed Margaret Plantagenet-Pole, Countess of Salisbury. The very last of the Plantagenet English family line. She was ruthlessly and hideously murdered by Henry VIII at the age of 70. She had been long widowed and the mother of 5 children, one of whom was the last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury.

Tea at Trianon has a great post here on her life. Below is an excerpt on her life and death:

Lady Margaret Plantagenet

Countess of Salisbury, martyr; b. at Castle Farley, near Bath, 14 August, 1473; martyred at East Smithfield Green [Tower Green —Ed.], 27 May, 1541.
She was the daughter of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, and Isabel, elder daughter of the Earl of Warwick (the king-maker), and the sister of Edmund of Warwick who, under Henry VII, paid with his life the penalty of being the last male representative of the Yorkist line (28 Nov., 1499). About 1491 Henry VII gave her in marriage to Sir Richard Pole, whose mother was the half-sister of the king's mother, Margaret Beaufort. At her husband's death in 1505 Margaret was left with five children, of whom the fourth, Reginald, was to become cardinal and Archbishop of Canterbury, and also the indirect cause of his mother's martyrdom. Henry VIII, on his accession, reversed her brother's attainder, created her Countess of Salisbury, and an Act of Restitution was passed by which she came into possession of her ancestral domains: the king considered her the saintliest woman in England, and, after the birth of the Princess Mary, Margaret of Salisbury became her sponsor in baptism and confirmation and was afterwards appointed governess of the princess and her household. As the years passed there was talk of a marriage between the princess and the countess's son Reginald, who was still a layman. But when the matter of the king's divorce began to be talked of Reginald Pole boldly spoke out his mind in the affair and shortly afterwards withdrew from England. The princess was still in the countess's charge when Henry married Anne Boleyn, but when he was opposed in his efforts to have his daughter treated as illegitimate he removed the countess from her post, although she begged to be allowed to follow and serve Mary at her own charge. She returned to court after the fall of Anne, but in 1530 Reginald Pole sent to Henry his treatise "Pro ecclesiasticæ unitatis defensione", in answer to questions propounded to him in the king's behalf by Cromwell, Tunstall, Starkey, and others. Besides being a theological reply to the questions, the book was a denunciation of the king's courses (see REGINALD POLE). Henry was beside himself with rage, and it soon became evident that, failing the writer of the "Defensio", the royal anger was to be wreaked on the hostages in England, and this despite the fact that the countess and her eldest son had written to Reginald in reproof of his attitude and action.

In November, 1538, two of her sons and others of their kin were arrested on a charge of treason, though Cromwell had previously written that they had "little offended save that he [the Cardinal] is of their kin", they were committed to the Tower, and in January, with the exception of Geoffrey Pole, they were executed. Ten days after the apprehension of her sons the venerable countess was arrested and examined by Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, and Goodrich, Bishop of Ely, but these reported to Cromwell that although they had "travailed with her" for many hours she would "nothing utter", and they were forced to conclude that either her sons had not made her a sharer in their "treason", or else she was "the most arrant traitress that ever lived". In Southampton's custody she was committed to Cowdray Park, near Midhurst, and there subjected to all manner of indignity. In May Cromwell introduced against her a Bill of Attainder, the readings of which were hurriedly got over, and at the third reading Cromwell produced a white silk tunic found in one of her coffers, which was embroidered on the back with the Five Wounds, and for this, which was held to connect her with the Northern Uprising, she was "attainted to die by act of Parliament". The other charges against her, to which she was never permitted to reply, had to do with the escape from England of her chaplain and the conveying of messages abroad. After the passage of the Act she was removed to the Tower and there, for nearly two years, she was "tormented by the severity of the weather and insufficient clothing". In April, 1541, there was another insurrection in Yorkshire, and it was then determined to enforce without any further procedure the Act of Attainder passed in 1539. On the morning of 28 May (de Marillac; Gardner, following Chapuys, says 27) she was told she was to die within the hour. She answered that no crime had been imputed to her; nevertheless she walked calmly from her cell to East Smithfield Green [Tower Green —Ed.], within the precincts of the Tower, where a low wooden block had been prepared, and there, by a clumsy novice, she was beheaded.

(Source: Catholic Encyclopedia)

Below are two other pictures of this Blessed of God:

Her last words were: "Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice' sake for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."
The body of the Blessed Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, was interred in the Tower, in that Chapel dedicated to St. Peter's Chains, whose illustrious dead and historic associations are enshrined in Macaulay's memorable lines. She was declared Blessed with many of the rest of the English Martyrs by Leo XIII, 29th December, 1886. Others than her co-religionists, no doubt, like to reflect that a life, so marked by piety, and so full of griefs ever heroically borne, has after the lapse of nearly four centuries been thus honoured, and that the last direct descendant of the Plantaganet line has her place in the Hagiography of the Church so long associated with their sway.

Blessed Lady Margaret - Martyr for the Sanctity of Marriage - Ora pro nobis!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

My Parish

I am so proud of my parish church. Posting this today after I saw this picture on the Roving Medievalist and was shocked to see the very same statues of Sts Peter & Paul (but painted differently) Our parish is beautiful and lends itself so wondrously to prayer. I thank God that He brought my family here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

America's Pieta

Ok, I know I promised these photos from the Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, but this has been delayed by computer troubles which necessitated a visit from the Geek Squad which produced an unexpectedly large bill!

Anyway, in a private room, just off the sanctuary there is a lifesize, identical replica of the Pieta. The priest told us this is the only one in the world that is exact to scale and made of the same marble. We had an impatient cabbie waiting outside for us so all my pictures were taken in a hurry - so may not be the greatest. Plus I'm no photographer...

If I had to describe Our Lady's face in one word, it would be - dignity.

Best part about this beautiful statue is that unlike its counterpart in the museum, this one can be touched. I was even able to kiss her foot.

Behold the Lamb of God

photo credit

"I saw the Lord Jesus tied to a pillar, stripped of His clothes, and the scourging began immediately. I saw four men who took turns at striking the Lord with scourges. My heart almost stopped at the sight of these tortures." (445)

"I saw how the Lord Jesus suffered as He was being scourged. Oh, such an inconceivable agony! ... His blood flowed to the ground, and in some places His flesh started to fall off. I saw a few bare bones on His back. The meek Jesus moaned softly and sighed." (188).

"The Lord said to me, I suffer even greater pain than that which you see. And Jesus gave me to know for what sins He subjected himself to the scourging: these are sins of impurity. Oh, how dreadful was Jesus' moral suffering during the scourging!" (445)

Source: Excerpts from St. Faustina's Diary on Our Lord's Scourging at the Pillar.

Although St. Faustina does not mention it, I often wonder if Mary stood and watched in silence to witness this act of great cruelty - as she did under the cross. Just imagine what it must have been like to watch helpless as your only child is thus tortured. Let us think often of our mother's suffering also during Holy Week.

Friday, March 14, 2008

On Rest in God V - Final

"I have said before that this peace has its trials, and often even very severe trials; but far from shaking it, these trials only strengthen it: this peace of God rises above all evils, and raises us with it. It renders a Christian so happy in the midst of all his sufferings that he would not change his state, however terrible it may seem to human nature, for the most exquisite pleasures which the world could offer him. Such is the life of a perfect Christian who goes to God by Jesus Christ, and who adores God, as Jesus Christ adored Him, in spirit and in truth; who sacrifices everything to God, and himself above all. Nothing can destroy the rest and peace of his soul, and death will only be for him a short passage from his rest to his eternal rest.

What a terrible misfortune it will be for those who will not try to experience the truth of the promises of Jesus Christ, and how torment themselves vainly in this world, to be tormented for ever in the next!"

Source: Manual for Interior Souls by Fr. Grou S.J. 3rd edition. London: St. Anselm's Society, Westminster, England. 1905.

My Lord, I lay my soul down beside You in your cold, dark shall I find my rest. Amen+

Monday, March 10, 2008

On Rest in God IV

"The experience of this is certain, and has never failed. From the moment that we give our hearts to God, that we put our conscience in order, that we take measures to avoid all sin, venial as well as mortal, that we make a firm determination to be attentive and faithful to Diving grace, and to refuse nothing to God, that we put ourselves under the direction of an enlightened guide, and resolve to obey him in all things - from that moment we enter upon a rest and a peace which we have never before experienced, of which we could have formed no idea, and at which we are utterly astonished. This rest is at first very sweet and pleasant. We enjoy it, and we feel that we are enjoying it; it draws us and concentrates us within ourselves. When we have this rest nothing troubles us, nothing wearies us. Any position, however painful it would otherwise be, is agreeable to us; all other pleasures, whatever they may be, become tasteless and insipid to us; we avoid carefully everything that could withdraw us from this sweet enjoyment of the peace of god. No miser ever feared so much to lose his treasure as we fear everything that could take away from us our rest or change it in any way. This is that blessed sleep of the soul, in which she wakes for God alone and sleeps for everything else.

This may seem like a dream, or a fancy, or an illusion to those who have never experienced it. And it is not only worldlings who thing thus; all those to whom rest is unknown, because they have not really given themselves to God, treat it as a delusion, or as the wondering of an overheated imagination. But let us rather believe the saints who speak of it from their own experience; let us believe Saint Paul, who speaks to us of the "peace that passes all understanding;" let us believe our Lord Jesus Christ, who calls this rest His peace, a Divine peace, which the world can neither give nor take away. A peace which we can never obtain by our own efforts, because it is the gift of God, an is His rewared for the absolute and irrevocable gift of ourselves which we have made to Him."

Source: Manual for Interior Souls by Fr. Grou S.J. 3rd edition. London: St. Anselm's Society, Westminster, England. 1905.

My God, My I long for this rest that is only Yours to give. I do so will it, and so shall I seek this gift from Thee. My soul burneth to the depths for Thy love and only with it shall I cease to thirst. Only in Thy love and grace, in this peace which surpasses all understanding shall I be Yours and only Yours. May I die today to this world and to myself. I commit from this day forward, with the help of Thy grace to be in this world, but not of work in this world but keep my eyes only on You. I give you everything, and hold nothing back. This can only be accomplished by You, for I am a weak and worthless servant. Amen+

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I hope this is true...

While my home is not a wasteland, I cannot keep up. I am frustrated that I cannot live up to any kind of ideal in homemaking, working, wiving, mothering.... I fall short in everything. There is truly a limit to what one person can do. I am clearly overwhelmed. I pray for the strength to bear this as I am finding life burdensome at present. Lord I lay myself down at Your feet, I can do no more than that. Amen+

Thursday, March 6, 2008

On Rest in God III

"But to repose in God, what must we do? We must give ourselves entirely to Him, and we must sacrifice to Him everything else. If we only give ourselves partly to Him, if we make some reservation, if we keep back some attachment, it is quite clear that our rest cannot be entire of perfect, because trouble will glide in by the place in our heart that is not united to God and resting only on Him. This is why so few Christians enjoy a real peace - a peace that is continual, full and unchanging. They do not fix their rest in God alone, they do not trust everything to Him, they do not abandon everything to Him. Nevertheless, there is no true and solid rest to be found but in this utter abandonment.

This rest is unchangeable, as God is; it is elevated, as God is, above all created things; it is most secret and intimate, because it is only God, the enjoyment of Whom pierces to the very depths of our hearts; it is full, because God completely fills and satisfies the heart; it leaves nothing to desire, and nothing to regret, because he who possesses God can neither desire or regret anything else. This rest calms the passions, tranquilizes the imagination, composes the mind and fixes the inconstancy of the heart. This rest subsists in the midst of all changes of fortune, of every imaginable evil and misfortune, even in the midst of temptations and trials, because nothing in these things can reach the centre of the soul which is reposing in God. The martyrs upon the scaffold, a prey to the most horrible tortures, the confessors in poverty, in prison, in exile, in persecution, tasted this rest in the depths of their souls, and were happy. The saints have tasted it in solitude, in the exercise of a most austere penance, in hard and excessive labours, in calumnies, in humiliations, in infirmities and sicknesses. A crowd of Christians have tasted it in the painful duties of their state of life, in the crosses attached to it, in the common life and all the cares and anxieties it entails. It only depends upon ourselves to enjoy it as they did. If we will it, God will be to us what He has been to them. He only asks of us, as He asked of them, one single thing, which is that we should lean only upon Him, and seek our rest and happiness in Him alone."

Source: Manual for Interior Souls by Fr. Grou S.J. 3rd edition. London: St. Anselm's Society, Westminster, England. 1905.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

On Rest in God II

"Others establish their rest in themselves, and in doing this they think they are much wiser than those who seek it in exterior things. But are they really wise? Is man made to be sufficient for himself? Can he find in himself the principle of his rest? His ideas change every day; his heart is in a perpetual state of unrest; he is constantly imagining new systems of happiness, and he finds this happiness nowhere. If he is alone, he is devoured with weariness; if he is in company, however select and agreeable it may be, it soon becomes tiresome to him; his reflections exhaust him and distract him for a time, but they cannot fill up the void in his heart. This is the kind of rest which human wisdom promises to its followers, and for which it invites them to give up everything else, to isolate themselves, to concentrate their attention on themselves. A deceitful rest, which is not exempt from the most violent agitations, and which is at least as hard for man to bear as the tumult of his passions!

Where then is rest to be found, if we can find it neither in the good things of this world nor in ourselves? It is to be found in God, and in God alone. Jesus Christ came into the world to teach us this truth, and it is the greatest lesson that He has given us. But how few there are that profit by it!

"Thou hast made us for Thyself," cries out Saint Augustine, "and our heart finds no rest until it reposes in Thee."

This truth is the first principle of all morality; reason, religion and experience all unite in proving it to us."

Source: Manual for Interior Souls by Fr. Grou S.J. 3rd edition. London: St. Anselm's Society, Westminster, England. 1905.

O Lord how much energy, time, effort put into "improving" myself? The music lessons, the reading, the learning? These are not bad in and of themselves but I see now how behind these "interests" lies the secret ambition to be complete, to have perfect happiness and this elusive rest - I will never, can never attain this rest outside of You. I must seek first Thee Lord, in prayer and in the Sacraments of your Church and not in the things of this world - which shall all pass away. Amen+

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

An Image of Suffering

Let us resolve to not burden those around us with our trials and sufferings. Let us instead pour ourselves out at the feet of Jesus, Mary and the saints. May we lean on God and not on our fellow man. May our small sufferings purify our souls of every sinful tendency... be for us the flames of purgatory here on earth. May the smouldering of my soul reach God as the smoke of incense, a sweet smelling sacrifice to the Lord. Amen+

On Rest in God

Thus kicks off a new series. My last series on annihilation of self came from the same book - see source below.

"Come unto Me, all you that labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you: and you shall find rest for your souls."

"This invitation was addressed to every man on earth; no other than Jesus Christ has ever given them such an invitation; and they have all the greatest interest in experiencing the reality of this promise. We all suffer in this world more or less, either from anxiety of mind, or sorrow of heart, or pain of body. and nevertheless we all long for rest, we seek it eagerly, and we wear ourselves out all our lives in this search without ever attaining the object of our desires. Where is rest to be found? Where shall we seek it? This is a most interesting question if ever there was one.

Some men, and in fact the greater number, seek their rest in the enjoyment of the riches and pleasures and honours of this life.

What care do they not take to secure these things for themselves, to preserve them, to increase them, and to accumulate them?

Do they really find rest in these things? No. How should rest be found in these perishing things, which cannot even satisfy the passion that desired them; in things which have no proportion with the wants of the human heart, which leave it always empty, always devoured by a still more ardent thirst; in the things that are always being disputed and envied and torn furiously by one person from another? What rest and stability can be found in things that are change itself? If the foundation upon which we build our rest is always moving, is it not a necessary consequence that we must experience the same agitation? Let every one consult himself: experience is the most positive proofs. What man ever tasted rest in the midst of the greatest treasures, the most lively pleasures, the most flattering honours? Rest is not in these things: every one knows this; and yet it is in these things that man persists in seeking it. Men exhaust themselves in desires, in projects, in enterprises, and they never succeed in finding one single moment of rest; and if they would only consult their reason, it would tell them that in this way they never can find rest. What blindness! What folly!"

Source: Manual for Interior Souls by Fr. Grou S.J. 3rd edition. London: St. Anselm's Society, Westminster, England. 1905.

Who among us can say that it is any other way with us? It is as if the good Father is speaking to me personally across space and time. I have been very fatigued as of late, both in mind and spirit. I pray God can teach this poor ignorant soul something in the writing of this series. Amen+

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Visitation

St. Elizabeth of the Visitation - Ora pro nobis!

Beautiful Painting of Mary and Jesus

Bernardo Daddi. c1340. Lanckorona Collection, Wawel Castle, Krakow.
This is one of the most beautiful paintings I've ever seen. Would make a beautiful print for distribution.