Saturday, December 09, 2017

St. Juanito Dieguito ...

A triptych I did a long time ago, terrible photo, but the only one I have.
It is based on a nicho I once saw, but I added two of my 
favorite Mexican saints, Felipe of Jesus and Miguel Pro.

Our Lady called him Juanito Dieguito.

How sweet is that?  This indigenous peasant man was favored by Heaven.  The lowliest man in Mexico was visited by the Empress of the Americas, the Queen of Heaven commissioned him to announce her message.  Juan Diego was 57 years old when Our Lady called him.  Our Lady told him she was mother of all those who lived in this land and that she wanted a chapel built so that she could could relieve the sorrows of all those who come to her in need.  He protested saying he was a man of no importance, and that she would be better off choosing another.  Yet she encouraged him not to fear, lovingly assuring him, "No estoy yo aqui que soy tu madre?"  It makes me cry.

Little father St. Juanito Dieguito
pray for us, pray for all the Americas,
remember especially your people 
who suffer
and are turned away from our borders.
remember those who have lost homes and possessions,
those who find themselves
like those who no longer have a homeland 
and seek to immigrate
to new lands - help us to embrace one another
in our poverty and homelessness
and desperate need of 
the Mother of God
and of mercy.

So many people are losing everything in the fires in California, so many others have already lost their homes and possessions, family, pets and even faith.  Yet Our Lady assures us, "Am I not here, I who am your mother?"  When we cry, doesn't she enfold us in her arms?  No matter who or what we are, what condition we are in, spiritually and physically.  Is there a prison so enclosed, a pit so deep, that her love is not deeper still?

I was sad because some of my friends are sad, a couple have serious illnesses, much of the news is sad, all is sad.  Yet Juanito Dieguito helped me to see Our Lady this morning.  Not as he did of course, but as she is, present spiritually, manifested in her images, which I try to copy.  Images and devotions which leads me to prayer and deeper devotion - and an intimacy I can't explain.  I can say even more frankly than St. Juan, I'm a man of no importance.  And that is wonderful to know, to experience, to be.  It gives me hope.

The outer doors of the triptych
depict Francis and Clare
since the message of Guadalupe
was first entrusted to the Franciscans.

Anyway - these are the holidays - holy-days - which we all can delight in, abandoned and poor though we may be.  Our Lady visits us ... she roams the world looking for the dejected, the outcast.  Yesterday she manifested in the Church as the Immaculata, today she calls us with Juanito Dieguito to confidence and love, tomorrow she lifts us up and carries us within the Holy House, demonstrating that we are on a journey to our true homeland, Heaven.  The Holy House of Loreto is a sign for us, a reminder that we are pilgrims, our home here is not lasting.  In a few days we will see that Great Sign, the Virgin clothed with the sun, the ever Virgin Mother of God has already been revealed for all to see at Tepeyac, one Saturday morning so long ago, on December 9, 1531.  We still see her, we still hear her: "I am the compassionate mother of you and of all you people here in this land, and of the other various peoples who love me, who cry out to me ..."

I rejoiced when I heard them say, let us go to God's house ... even now our feet are standing within your gates O Jerusalem!  Jerusalem built as a city, strongly compact...

Photo, Showers.  Prisoner with tattoo
of N.S. Madre de Dios de Guadalupe
Danny Lyon, 1968
Holy Mary, Mother of Guadalupe,
pray for us sinners,
and at the hour of our death.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Pope Francis at La Colonna della Immacolata

Immaculate Virgin,
175 years ago, not far from here,
in the church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte,
you touched the heart of Alphonse Ratisbonne, who at that moment,
from being an atheist and enemy of the Church,
became a Christian.You revealed yourself to him 
as a Mother of grace and mercy.
Grant that we too, especially in times of trial and temptation,
may fix our gaze on your open hands,
hands that allow the Lord's graces to fall upon the earth.
Help us to rid ourselves of all pride and arrogance,
and to recognize ourselves for what we really are:
small and poor sinners, but always your children.
- Prayer of P. Francis

'We want to thank you for the constant care ...'

Every year the Pope visits the La Colonna della Immacolata, this year Pope Francis followed tradition, with great devotion.  He stopped to lay a bouquet before the icon Salus populi Romani before the ceremony at Piazza di Spagna, and before returning to the Vatican, he visited Sant’Andrea delle Fratte.  I wish I could have been with him.  S. Andrea delle Fratte is a miraculous place - it was for me the very first church where I attended Mass when I first arrived in Rome, at the altar of the Immaculate Conception.  The Immaculate Conception ...

Visit to Basilica of Mary Major 
On his way to Piazza di Spagna this year, Pope Francis also stopped to visit the Basilica of St Mary Major where he laid a floral wreath below the icon of Salus Populi Romani, depicting Our Lady and the Christ Child. This is the same image the Pope always prays at both before and after his apostolic journeys abroad.
Alphonse Ratisbonne 
Before returning to the Vatican later in the afternoon, Pope Francis paid a private visit to the Rome Basilica of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte. 
It was here, 175 years ago, that a French Jew by the name of Alphonse Ratisbonne, experienced a vision of the Virgin Mary. At that moment, in the words of the Pope, “from being an atheist and enemy of the Church, he became a Christian”. 
Even more so, following his conversion, Alphonse became a Jesuit priest and missionary and ended up cofounding his own religious Congregation dedicated to Our Lady of Sion. - VR

So many years ago when I first entered the chapel at S. Andrea it was evening and just getting dark, the chapel was dark except for the image of the Immaculata - it was brightly lit.  So bright it seemed like a vision to me and I fell to my knees.  Then Mass began.  This was before I knew anything about Ratisbonne.

Pope Francis at Piazza di Spagna

The conversion of Ratisbonne.

It is a wonderful story, and is pretty much responsible for the great popularity of the Miraculous Medal of the Immaculate Conception.
Alphonse Ratisbonne was the son and heir of a wealthy, aristocratic family of Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. When Alphonse was still a child his older brother, Theodor, converted to the Catholic faith and became a priest. The family reacted with hostility and horror. Alphonse resolved never to communicate again with his older brother, and developed a violent antipathy to the Catholic faith and to all things Catholic. Although Alphonse was entirely atheist in his beliefs, and non-practicing as a Jew, he felt a great love and loyalty for his fellow Jews, and devoted much of his effort and wealth to better their social condition. At the time of his conversion, Alphonse was 27 years old, and engaged to marry his uncle's beautiful daughter and to take his place as a partner in his uncle's bank. During his engagement Ratisbonne noticed a subtle change in his religious feelings; he wrote ... - finish reading here.

Conversion of Ratisbonne.

The Immaculate Conception

The Immaculate Conception - Gate of Heaven.

"A praise of glory is a soul that lives in God, that loves him with a pure and disinterested love, without seeking itself in the sweetness of this love, that loves him beyond all his gifts." - St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

HAIL, Virgin, most wise!
Hail, DEITY’S shrine!
with seven fair pillars,
and table divine!

Preserved from the guilt
which hath come upon us all!
Exempt, in the womb,
from the taint of the fall!

O new Star of Jacob,
of angels the Queen!
O Gate of the saints!
O Mother of men!

To Zabulon fearful
as the embattled array!
Be thou of the faithful
the refuge and stay.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Dangerous liaisons ... 'The Dictator Pope'

Beware Catholic media and spokesmen ...

Robert Royal and EWTN are fundraising (that's like 'sweeps week' for media outlets - you need salacious headlines to attract an audience).  So, as I pointed out, Robert Royal is fundraising, as so many do this time of year, yet invoking the Immaculate Conception, and while insisting his publication is defending the faith, at the same time he's promoting a book by an anonymous author who takes down the papacy of Pope Francis.  I would suggest that no faithful Catholic read this type of anti-papist propaganda used to discredit Pope Francis.  This is what Mr. Royal had to say in the introduction to his revue of the book:

This is an all too brief account of a remarkable new book on the pope, which is making waves in Rome and around the world. Fr. Gerald Murray, Raymond Arroyo, and I will discuss this and other matters in greater detail tomorrow evening on EWTN’s “The World Over,” 8 PM East Coast time (Check local listings for rebroadcasts and postings on YouTube). We began our year-end funding drive on November 8, and I’d like to end it this Friday, December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. You’ve already heard more than enough on this from me. - The Catholic Thing

I've already heard more than enough from Robert Royal and the rest of Catholic media detraction and calumny against the Pope.

Yesterday I came across a Facebook post linking to a Church Militant denunciation of the Holy Father, which has since been removed.  It appears to be only a matter of time before Church Militant bails on the Pope as well - I may be wrong.  Yet all of this criticism and so-called analysis based upon conjecture, rumors and gossip, propagated by disgruntled clerical-courtesans in the Vatican, does severe damage to the faith of ordinary people and those outside the Church who are being told that Vatican II and the Ordinary Form of Mass have destroyed the Church and led to apostasy from within the Church.   

Even with limp cautions to be careful reading "The Dictator Pope" - along with the dispensation of 'a need to know', one needs to recognize that the book will take on a life of its own and become embedded in the public consciousness, not unlike Cromwell's defamation of P. Pius XII in his book, "Hitler's Pope" has.   Fr. Z exonerates his promotion of the book with the following disclaimer:

It is not flattering. Some of it resonates with what I have picked up in my last visits to Rome and conversations with friends who still labor there. There is a really bad environment in Rome right now. The tension is so thick that you could cut it with chainsaw… maybe.
REMEMBER: Most of you do not have to read this stuff. Some of us do. Most do not. Be wary, in yourself, of the vice of curiositas. Yes, there is a kind of “curiosity” which leads to sin. - Fr. Z

 Yet Fr. Z endorses the book, suggesting he can vouch for it's contents stating: "Some of it resonates with what I have picked up in my last visits to Rome and conversations with friends who still labor there. There is a really bad environment in Rome right now."  This is what gossip is.  This is hearsay and gossip.

As Fr. Z said, most of you do not have to read this book.  He doesn't have to either.  No one does.  Fr. is correct in warning about curiositas - do as he says, not as he does.

Do not donate to these people.  They engage in gossip, hearsay, and detraction - if not calumny.  They are feeding scandal and division.

Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power 
with Your Son and our Liberator, Jesus, 
take into your hands today this knot.
I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all. 

Pray for the Holy Father.  Our Lady told us, "he will have much to suffer."  I always remember the vision of St. Jacinta Marto:

"I saw the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling by a table, with his head buried in his hands, and he was weeping. Outside the house, there were many people. Some of them were throwing stones, others were cursing him and using bad language. Poor Holy Father, we must pray very much for him." - St. Jacinta

Consider Jacinta's vision in light of how the Holy Father is being treated today - especially by Catholics - and what he himself has been saying since the beginning of his pontificate.

"Only God knows the stories of those people who have given their lives, who have died, and continue to be stoned with the hardest stone that exists in the world: language.” - Pope Francis

Pray the Rosary every day.

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

St. Nicholas, pray for us, banish the storm and strengthen us in faith!

St. Nicholas Resuscitating Three Youths - Bicci di Lorenzo

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide ...

The Mass and the daily readings from Advent are novena enough ...

In the old days, when people didn't really follow the liturgical prayers and readings the way we do today, novenas in preparation for Christmas were very popular substitutes, so to speak.  They are still used, along with beautiful devotional prayers and considerations on the mystery of the Incarnation, but sometimes keeping up can seem burdensome for people not accustomed to novenas and all the extra prayers.

Since my return to the sacraments so many years ago, I was convinced the Holy Spirit speaks to the Church daily in and through the liturgy - especially the readings at Mass, but also in and through the psalms in the Liturgy of Hours.  (The Holy Spirit is not limited by that, to be sure.)  The psalms are the words used by Christ - they reveal his heart, heart speaks to heart as it were.  This is why I like to say that the Mass, the daily readings, are novena enough.  At least for me.

Today I was consoled by the words of Isaiah, "Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide ..."  To surrender our tendency to rash judgment based upon hearsay and gossip, to let go and believe, to allow Jesus to take care of everything, establishes us in peace. 

Listen now, ruminate upon what he says to us ... what more can we ask of him?
Turning to the disciples in private he said,
"Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it." - Luke 10: 21-24
Devotion to Our Lady of Light leads to Jesus who said, 
"I am the light of the world. 
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, 
but will have the light of life"
Read the history here.

This devotion seems similar to the devotion to Our Lady of Knots, perhaps because of its depiction of angels.  I am working on a retablo similar to the one shown above, praying as I do so.  

Monday, December 04, 2017

'But I have no obligation whatsoever. Moreover, our only duty is to become united to God.'

Considerations from the saints ...

Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding,
and those who find fault shall receive instruction. - Isaiah 29:24

'We should not be concerned about such matters at all. It is true that I would be of your opinion and act perhaps in the same way had I any responsibility in the matter. But I have no obligation whatsoever. Moreover, our only duty is to become united to God. Even if we were members of those communities which are being publicly criticized for their defections, we would be greatly at fault in becoming disquieted on that account.'" - "My Sister, St. Therese" - Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face

Therese to Celine: "You have no responsibility in the guidance of souls, so to set about instructing others, even when truth is on your side, is exposing yourself to danger unnecessarily. You are not called to be a Justice of the Peace. This right belongs to God alone." - My Sister St. Therese, by Genevieve of the Holy Face

“Do not ask God to save such and such a person, or to help this one or that, but ask him that you may love him, and that his will may be done. You must talk with him familiarly, and explain to him that you want to love him well, but that you can’t do it, that many things seem obscure and illogical to you, and that you would like to understand them a little better … and do not hesitate, all day long, to invoke heaven.- Jacques Fesch

"I prefer you to make mistakes in kindness than to work a miracle in unkindness," Mother Teresa wrote to her sisters. This was a principle she herself followed. It was precisely this attitude of being kindly disposed that led her to look at others' actions in a favorable light, to give them the benefit of the doubt or to overlook a mistake. This kindness made her approachable and sought after even by people whose opinions were opposed to hers. Such kindness that communicates love was what she demanded of her sisters: "Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting. In the slums we are the light of God's kindness to the poor." - St. Teresa of Calcutta, Source