19/3: Feast of St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church & of a Happy Death

The music video below is an instrumental only – the words to the hymn are posted for the benefit of those of us who love to sing this beautiful hymn in honour of the great Saint Joseph – but note, to sing the entire hymn, you’ll need to re-play the video half-way through…

Dear St. Joseph, pure and gentle,
Guardian of our Saviour child,
Treading with the virgin Mother
Egypts deserts rough and wild,

CHORUS
Hail St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
Blessed above all saints on high,
When the death-shades round us gather,
Teach, O teach us how to die (twice)

He who rested on Thy bosom,
Is by countless saints adored,
Prostrate angels in His presence,
Sing Hosannas to the Lord.

CHORUS
Hail St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
Blessed above all saints on high,
When the death-shades round us gather,
Teach, O teach us how to die (twice)

Now to thee no gift refusing,
Jesus stoops to hear thy prayer,
Then, dear saint from thy fair dwelling
Give to us a father’s care.

CHORUS
Hail St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
Blessed above all saints on high,
When the death-shades round us gather,
Teach, O teach us how to die (twice)

Dear St. Joseph, kind and loving,
stretch to us a helping hand,
Guide us through earth’s toils and sorrows,
Safely to the distant land.

CHORUS
Hail St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
Blessed above all saints on high,
When the death-shades round us gather,
Teach, O teach us how to die (twice)

Comment: 

We really ought to pray very hard today, to seek St Joseph’s powerful intercession as Patron of the Universal Church at this time of unprecedented and worsening scandal, adversely affecting the Faith of many Catholics, preventing those who are poorly instructed as well as those outside the Church from seeing her beauty and realising her God-given mission as unique custodian and preacher of religious truth and guardian of the moral order. St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for us! 

As with all devotional threads, post your favourite stories about St Joseph, prayers, novenas, miracles, hymns.  

The story goes that a visiting Bishop brought some strictly enclosed nuns a large tub of ice-cream to share.  When the Mother Prioress protested that it was Lent, the Bishop replied: “Well, we need these wee breaks in Lent!”  I think that is even more true today, so – Catholic Truth bloggers and readers – enjoy some ice-cream to mark the Feast of St Joseph, as we celebrate this wee break in Lent!  

A very happy Feast of St Joseph to all our bloggers and visitors to this site. 

Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls. (St. Alphonsus Liguori)

 

For purchasing details, click on image…

But what sort of “good books” and “spiritual reading” will help us to save our souls?

 

I’ve heard young Catholics raving about Lord of the Rings as a great story and a marvellous means of understanding their Faith better. Here’s author J.R.R. Tolkien: “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.” [1] By design The Lord of the Rings is not a Christian allegory but rather an invented myth [2] about Christian and Catholic truths. As one commentator noted, giving a young person Lord of the Rings as a means of communicating essential truths of the Faith is to use the same method a mother uses to feed spinach to her baby – sneaking it in via the rivetting story!

If you can think of other non-fiction works to recommend – not just for the young but for us all, as wholesome as possible – let’s hear it…  

Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls. (St. Alphonsus Liguori)


There is an abundance of solid spiritual reading available;  given the state of the Church right now, however, it is wise to avoid contemporary writings and stick with the tried and tested classics written by great saints,  such as  The Sermons of St Alphonsus…  

for purchasing details, click on image…

For purchasing details click on image…

 

The Secret of the Rosary by St Louis De Montfort is another classic, which I’m currently re-reading – it never fails to inspire and edify – highly recommended, although I have to admit that not everyone finds it an easy read in the beginning – but  it’s worth persevering. I’ve heard it described as “transformative” – with good reason.  You can read it online by clicking on the  link above, at the name of the book.

 

 

For details of how to purchase a copy, click on image…

Another book which has transformed the spiritual lives of Catholics since its publication is St Thérèse of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul which, again, you can read online here

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Life of Christ by Fulton Sheen is another beautiful read; to quote the blurb on the back page of the complete and unabridged copy which describes the contents faithfully:  “With his customary insight and reverence, the author interprets the scripture and describes Christ not only in historical perspective but in exciting and contemporary terms;  he sees in Christ’s life modern parallels and timeless lessons. Sheen probes the hearts of many prominent New Testament figures – Joseph and Mary, Peter and the disciples, Herod, Pilate, et al – shedding new light on age-old events.  The whole adds up to a masterful study: a faithful blending of philosophy, history, and biblical exegesis.” 

For details of how to purchase a copy, click on image…  

 

 

Share your favourite spiritual reading with us in the comments below – not least reading that will inspire us to persevere during Lent… Now, there’s a challenge, folks!

 

17/3 St Patrick’s Day: Pray for Ireland

 

Comment: 

As always with devotional threads, feel free to post your favourite hymns, prayers, stories and jokes of the “good clean fun” variety.  Above all, however, please pray for Ireland today; the Faith has gone, and the state of both Irish politics and the Irish hierarchy appear to be in terminal decline.  So much so, that I feel the need to add the hymn to Our Lady of Knock, as we all, I hope, seek her intercession in prayer for that once great Catholic country, now among the (if not THE) most secular of all the nations in Europe.

 

A very happy St Patrick’s day to one and all! 

1st March: Feast of St David of Wales…

According to tradition, St. David was the son of King Sant of South Wales and St. Non.

He was ordained a priest and later studied under St. Paulinus. Later, he was involved in missionary work and founded a number of monasteries. The monastery he founded at Menevia in Southwestern Wales was noted for extreme asceticism.

David and his monks drank neither wine nor beer – only water – while putting in a full day of heavy manual labor and intense study.

Around the year 550, David attended a synod at Brevi in Cardiganshire. His contributions at the synod are said to have been the major cause for his election as primate of the Cambrian Church.

He was reportedly consecrated archbishop by the patriarch of Jerusalem while on a visit to the Holy Land. He also is said to have invoked a council that ended the last vestiges of Pelagianism.  

David died at his monastery in Menevia around the year 589, and his cult was approved in 1120 by Pope Callistus II. He is revered as the patron of Wales.

Undoubtedly, St. David was endowed with substantial qualities of spiritual leadership. What is more, many monasteries flourished as a result of his leadership and good example. His staunch adherence to monastic piety bespeaks a fine example for modern Christians seeking order and form in their prayer life.His feast day is March 1.  Source – Catholic Online

Comment: 

I’m ashamed to say that, while, over the years, we have marked the Feast days of St George of England, St Patrick of Ireland and St Andrew of Scotland, we’ve never discussed the patron saint of Wales, St David.  I’m not sure if we have any online readers from Wales but, anyway, we ought to wish our brothers and sisters in Wales a very happy Feast of St David. Usual Feast day thread rules apply – post your favourite hymns, prayers, stories, and any good clean jokes that fit the occasion.  Here’s one to kick start the celebration…

 

14 January: Feast of St Mungo (Kentigern) Patron Saint of Glasgow… 

Mungo or Kentigern was born in 518. He was the son of Tannoch, a princess of Lothian, who has given her name to St Enoch’s Square in Glasgow, and to Tannochside near Uddingston. Tannoch’s father was a pagan and when she adopted Christianity she was expelled from her home. During her wanderings she was raped, and her father ordered that she be set adrift in an open boat at Aberlady in order that her pregnancy should not bring a slur on the family name. The boat was washed upon the shore at the Christian settlement of Culross and there the infant Kentigern was born. He was christened Kendyern, British for “Great Chief’. (The British form indicates that the ‘g’ should be soft. The hard ‘g’ perhaps arises from the fact that Jocelyn wrote in Latin).

But within the community he was often referred to by the pet name of Myncho, which has become Mungo, and means “little dear”. It is by this name that he is known as the patron saint of Glasgow. Having been ordained priest, Kentigern set out to restore the faith at Glasgow. He crossed the Forth at Alloa and set up his church on the Molendinar Burn, where Glasgow Cathedral now stands at the top of the High Street. He was greatly aided in his work of conversion by the local chieftain Rederich, whose fortress was Dumbarton, the fort of the Britons. Rederich brought over a Bishop from Ireland to consecrate the 25-year-old Kentigern first bishop of Glasgow.

Trouble from the pagans led to the flight of Rederich and Kentigern to the South. They stopped for a short time near Penrith and established a settlement at Crossfield. After a brief sojourn there, Kentigern travelled to Wales where he founded a monastery in the Vale of Ciwyd. Meanwhile Rederich and allies had defeated the pagans near Carlisle and Kentigern was able to return to Scotland in 573. He stopped at Hoddam, by Dumfries, and established missions throughout Galloway, which had been converted 150 years earlier by St Ninian.

After eight years Kentigern returned to Glasgow, where he died in January 603. In 1197, probably as a result of Jocelyn’s writings, a church was built over the tomb, and his church was the beginnings of the present Glasgow Cathedral. In Glasgow he was known better by his pet name of Mungo, but dedications to St Kentigern are common throughout the South of Scotland, in the North of England, and in Wales. Jocelyn’s account informs us that Kentigern met many other saints -St Serf at Culross, Saints David and Asaph in Wales, St Columba in Glasgow.

He also paid several visits to Rome, on the last of which the Pope gave Glasgow the title “Special Daughter of the Church”. St Kentigern was chosen as our patron firstly because of his connection with the old Kingdom of Lothian, his grandfather being Loth who ruled from the fort on Traprain Law near Haddington; and secondly because so many of the pupils here have Glasgow origins. 

The meaning of Glasgow’s coat of arms (pictured above)

Here is the bird that never flew
Here is the tree that never grew
Here is the bell that never rang
Here is the fish that never swam

The Glasgow coat of arms relate to the life and legend of St Mungo. The arms include ‘the tree that never grew’ relating to St Mungo tending a fire in St Serf’s monastery but he fell asleep and some lads who were envious of Mungo’s favoured position with St Serf put out the fire while he slept. When Mungo woke he broke off branches from a frozen hazel tree and by praying over them and lit the fire again, the hazel branches were transformed in to a fully grown tree. The ‘bird that never flew’ is about a robin that had been tamed by St Serf and it had been accidently killed. Mungo prayed over the robin and brought it back to life. The ‘fish that never swam’ is about a ring which a King gave to his wife Langoureth who gave it to her lover a knight who wore it and when the King noticed this took it from him when he was sleeping and threw it in the River Clyde. The King then demanded to see the ring from Langeoreth and she confessed this to Mungo who sent a monk to fish the river and found the lost ring. The bell is attributed to a bell that was reputedly given to Mungo by the Pope.  The motto “Let Glasgow Flourish” is an abbreviation of a statement taken from a sermon given by the saint: “Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of Thy Word and the praising of Thy Name.” 

St Enoch

Mungo’s mother Thenew is  also known as St Enoch. It is believed St Enoch’s Square in Glasgow City Centre is the site of her burial ground.

For your interest…

For your information…

There is Mass in the SSPX church of St Andrew, Renfrew Street, Glasgow, at 6.30pm on Monday, 14 January, to mark the Feast. 

Happy Feast Day everyone!  

Comments invited… 

How often must I apologise? 70 times 7? 

  Every Christian knows that when Our Lord was asked how often we should forgive those who offend us, He replied “not seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22).  In other words, always. Never refuse to forgive. 

However, what about apologies?  Most people struggle to apologise for anything because it means admitting they were wrong about something, or insensitive, unkind to others.  Sadly, that seems to be the norm. Just don’t apologise! But what about those who DO apologise and find their apology either spurned or ignored… Some people prefer to “apologise in kind” – by, for example, offering a small gift, or by some means other than directly saying “sorry”.  Does that count as an apology? And what about those rejected or ignored apologies… should they be repeated indefinitely until reconciliation has taken place? 

We ought, in this thread, to reflect on the root cause of both the inability to forgive wrongs perpetrated against us, and – the other side of that coin – the inability to apologise for inflicting wrongs on others.  Is it true to argue that it is sinful pride which causes us to be unforgiving and unrepentant – or, at least, if not unrepentant, unwilling to admit to the person we’ve hurt that we know we are in the wrong?  Or is there some other reason for our inability or unwillingness to apologise – and do we have to apologise seventy times seven – or is once sufficient? 

The following quotes from saints about the sin of pride are offered to help kick-start the discussion – and feel free to add your own favourite quotes and sermons from the saints, since this thread is chiefly intended to help us move forward in our spiritual life, as we begin this new year.  Nobody stands still in the spiritual life, remember; we either go forward or back.

QUOTES FROM SAINTS…

You must ask God to give you power to fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy – the root of all that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud… The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.  Saint Vincent de Paul

A truly humble person never believes that he can be wronged in anything. Truly, we ought to be shamed to resent whatever is said or done against us; for it is the greatest shame in the world to see that our Creator bears so many insults from His creatures, and that we resent even a little word that is contradictory.  St. Teresa

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. Saint Augustine

27 November: The Story of St Catherine Laboure & The Miraculous Medal… 

Mother and Child
The sound of the evening Angelus bells floated across the fields and vineyards of Burgundy. It was the second day of the month of May in the year of Our Lord 1806. In the little village of Fain-les-Moutiers a child of destiny was coming into the world, a tiny instrument of God, who would one day be the confidante of the Queen of Heaven to usher in the age of Mary. Her name was Catherine Labouré, the ninth child of a family of eleven.

The following day, the Feast of the Finding of the True Cross, the small child was baptized. All her life she was to have a deep devotion to the Cross of Our Lord. It would not be long before she was to feel the weight of sacrifice with the death of her mother at the age of nine.

Early one morning shortly after her mother’s death, a family servant came silently upon the little one standing on her tiptoes, stretching upwards, impelled by love, until she reached the statue of the Blessed Virgin. As she held the statue in her arms and leaned her head against the Madonna, the servant heard the child say: “Now, dear Blessed Mother, now you will be my Mother!”

Catherine received her First Holy Communion at the age of eleven on January 25th, 1818. From that day on, she rose at four o’clock each morning and walked several miles to assist at Mass and to pray for grace and strength before the start of her day’s work. Her only desire now was to give herself without reserve to her dear Lord. Never was the thought of Him far from her mind.

By this time Catherine’s elder sister, Marie Louise, had left to join the Daughters of Charity, and the little girl who had always been obedient now had to direct and supervise the homestead. She looked after everything: she made the bread, cooked and did the housework, carried daily meals to the workmen in the fields and cared well for the animals.

A Daughter of Charity
Once, when she was in the village church, she saw a vision of an old priest saying Mass. After Mass the priest turned and beckoned to her with his finger, but she drew backwards, keeping her eyes on him. The vision moved to a sickroom where she saw the same priest, who said: “My child, it is a good deed to look after the sick; you run away from me now, but one day you will be glad to come to me. God has designs for you. Do not forget it!” At that time, of course, she did not understand the significance of the vision.

As is the European custom, Catherine’s father invited various suitors to seek her hand in marriage and always her reply was: “I shall never marry; I have promised my life to Jesus Christ.” She prayed, worked, and served the family well until she was twenty-two, when she asked her father’s permission to become a Daughter of Charity. He flatly refused, and to distract her, sent her to Paris to work in a coffee shop run by her brother Charles. During the entire year spent there, she maintained her resolve to become the bride of Christ.

Her aunt, Jeanne Gontard, came to Catherine’s aid and enrolled her in the finishing school she directed at Chatillon. Since Catherine was a country girl, she was miserable at this fashionable school. One day, while visiting the hospital of the Daughters of Charity, she noted a priest’s picture on the wall. She asked the nun who he might be, and was told: “Our Holy Founder, Saint Vincent de Paul.” This was the same priest Catherine had seen in the vision. Later, after much persuasion from her Aunt Jeanne, her father granted permission for Catherine to enter the convent.

In January of 1830 Catherine entered the hospice of the Daughters of Charity at Chatillon-sur-Seine. This was just after the Reign of Terror in France, where sacrileges were committed in the name of freedom. Licentious women danced on the main altar of Notre Dame. Even the body of St. Genevieve, the Patroness of France, was desecrated. Saint Vincent de Paul’s body had been hidden, but four days after Catherine’s entry into the Mother House, his remains were transferred back to his own church with joyous processions and ceremonies.

Shortly after her entrance, God was pleased to grant Catherine several extraordinary visions. On three consecutive days she beheld the heart of Saint Vincent each time under a different aspect. At other times she beheld Our Divine Lord during Mass, when He would appear as He was described in the liturgy of the day.   

First Apparition
In 1830 Catherine was blessed with the apparitions of Mary Immaculate to which we owe the Miraculous Medal. The first apparition came on the eve of the feast of St. Vincent, July 19. The mother superior had given each of the novices a piece of cloth from the holy founder’s surplice. Because of her extreme love, Catherine split her piece down the middle, swallowing half and placing the rest in her prayer book. She earnestly prayed to St. Vincent that she might, with her own eyes, see the Mother of God.

That night, a beautiful child awoke her from her sleep, saying: “Sister Labouré, come to the chapel; the Blessed Virgin is waiting for you.” When Catherine went to the chapel, she found it ablaze with lights as if prepared for Midnight Mass. Quietly, she knelt at the Communion rail, and suddenly heard the rustle of a silk dress. The Blessed Virgin, in a blaze of glory, sat in a chair like that of Saint Anne’s.


Catherine rose, then went over and knelt, resting her hands in the Virgin’s lap, and felt the Virgin’s arms around her, as she said: “God wishes to charge you with a mission. You will be contradicted, but do not fear; you will have the grace. Tell your spiritual director all that passes within you. Times are evil in France and in the world.”

A pained expression crossed the Virgin’s face. “Come to the foot of the altar. Graces will be shed on all, great and little, especially upon those who seek them. Another community of sisters will join the Rue du Bac community. The community will become large; you will have the protection of God and Saint Vincent; I will always have my eyes upon you.” (This prediction was fulfilled when, in 1849, Fr. Etienne received Saint Elizabeth Seton’s sisters of Emmitsburg, MD, into the Paris community. Mother Seton’s sisters became the foundation stone of the Sisters of Charity in the United States.)

Then, like a fading shadow, Our Lady was gone.

The Second Apparition
Four months passed until Our Lady returned to Rue du Bac. Here are Catherine’s own words describing the apparition:

“On the 27th of November, 1830 … while making my meditation in profound silence … I seemed to hear on the right hand side of the sanctuary something like the rustling of a silk dress. Glancing in that direction, I perceived the Blessed Virgin standing near St. Joseph’s picture. Her height was medium and Her countenance, indescribably beautiful. She was dressed in a robe the colour of the dawn, high-necked, with plain sleeves. Her head was covered with a white veil, which floated over Her shoulders down to her feet. Her feet rested upon a globe, or rather one half of a globe, for that was all that could be seen. Her hands which were on a level with Her waist, held in an easy manner another globe, a figure of the world. Her eyes were raised to Heaven, and Her countenance beamed with light as She offered the globe to Our Lord.  

“As I was busy contemplating Her, the Blessed Virgin fixed Her eyes upon me, and a voice said in the depths of my heart: ‘ This globe which you see represents the whole world, especially France, and each person in particular.’

“There now formed around the Blessed Virgin a frame rather oval in shape on which were written in letters of gold these words: ‘ O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.’ Then a voice said to me: ‘ Have a medal struck upon this model. All those who wear it, when it is blessed, will receive great graces especially if they wear it round the neck. Those who repeat this prayer with devotion will be in a special manner under the protection of the Mother of God. Graces will be abundantly bestowed upon those who have confidence.’

“At the same instant, the oval frame seemed to turn around. Then I saw on the back of it the letter ‘M’, surmounted by a cross, with a crossbar beneath it, and under the monogram of the name of Mary, the Holy Hearts of Jesus and of His Mother; the first surrounded by a crown of thorns and the second trans-pierced by a sword. I was anxious to know what words must be placed on the reverse side of the medal and after many prayers, one day in meditation I seemed to hear a voice which said to me: ‘ The ‘M’ with the Cross and the two Hearts tell enough.’ “

“All who wear this medal will receive great graces . . .”

The Miraculous Medal
The Mother of God instructed Catherine that she was to go to her spiritual director, Father Aladel, about the apparitions. At first he did not believe Catherine, but, after two years, approached the Bishop of Paris with the story of the events that had taken place at Rue du Bac. Our Blessed Mother had chosen well Her time for the apparitions as the Bishop at that period was an ardent devotee of the Immaculate Conception. He said that the Medal was in complete conformity with the Church’s doctrine on the role of Our Lady and had no objections to having the medals struck at once. The Bishop even asked to be sent some of the first.

Immediately upon receiving them, he put one in his pocket and went to visit Monseigneur de Pradt, former chaplain to Napoleon and unlawful Archbishop of Mechlin who had accepted his office from the hands of the Emperor and now lay dying, defiant and unreconciled to the Church. The sick man refused to abjure his errors and the Bishop of Paris withdrew in defeat. He had not left the house when the dying man suddenly called him back, made his peace with the Church and gently passed away in the arms of the Archbishop, who was filled with a holy joy.

The original order of 20,000 medals proved to be but a small start. The new medals began to pour from the presses in streams inundating France and the rest of the world beyond. By the time of St. Catherine’s death in 1876, over a billion medals had been distributed in many lands. This sacramental from Heaven was at first called simply the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, but began to be known as the Miraculous Medal due to the unprecedented number of miracles, conversions, cures, and acts of protection attributed to Our Lady’s intercession for those who wore it.

In 1841, the most remarkable miracle occured – the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne, a wealthy Jewish banker and lawyer and also a blasphemer and hater of Catholicism. M. de Bussieres, gave him a medal, daring him to wear it and say a Memorare. After considerable persuasion he agreed to do so. Not long after, Alphonse accompanied M. de Bussieres to the Church of Sant’Andrea delle Frate to make funeral arrangements for a dear friend. There Alphonse saw a vision of Mary as on the Miraculous Medal. He was converted instantly and immediately begged for Baptism.

Alphonse Ratisbonne later went on to become a priest, taking the name of Father Alphonse Marie. Working for thirty years in the Holy Land, he established several institutions. Out of reverence and gratitude to Our Savior, he built the expiatory sanctuary of the Ecce Homo on the spot where Pilate displayed Jesus to the Jews. So great was the love he had for his people, that he dedicated the remainder of his life, as did his brother, Father Theodore, to work for the conversion of their immortal souls. Among the converts of these two priest brothers were a total of twenty eight members of their own family.

Conclusion
On the last day of 1876, St. Catherine passed to her eternal reward. For the forty-six years from the year of the apparitions until her death, only she and her confessor knew who it was to whom the famous Miraculous Medal was revealed, despite many pressures she received to reveal the secret. The years passed by, Catherine performed daily her mundane and very ordinary tasks of sewing and door keeping, unknown to the world around her, which was buzzing with the miraculous effects of the medal. Because of this humility, she is often called the Saint of Silence. When her body was exhumed for beatification 57 years after her death in 1933, it was found as fresh as the day it was buried. Her incorrupt body can still be seen today at the Mother House of the Daughters of Charity in The Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, 140 Rue du Bac in Paris.   Source

Comment: 

Share your stories about the miraculous medal, answers to prayers and favourite devotions, novenas etc.  

And a very happy Feast of the Miraculous Medal to one and all…