Saturday, September 12, 2020

Reminiscences ...


Prince Friedrich Alfred of the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen
Dom Marianus Marck, O. Cart.

Fr. Marianus Marck.

I first met Fr. Marinus when I stayed at the Charterhouse in Vermont for a month in the Spring of 1976.  I was there as an observer, hoping to enter.  I've mentioned before that the Prior Raphael Diamond explained to me that a certain tendency in my temperament would be unsuitable for the solitary life.  I was kindly told I couldn't enter.  Afterwards, I continued my pilgrimage and went to Rome, like my patron, St. Benedict Joseph Labre.  I wasn't exactly suited to the life of a mendicant either.

Those who read me know I had a relapse into an old way of life, and left Boston, thinking I would be safe from temptation back in Minneapolis.  Then I met my friend Darold.  Many know the story now, how I couldn't live in a sexual friendship and still receive the sacraments.  My friend Darold said he would rather live celibately - separate beds, no sex, etc., than live alone.  

I prayed to St. Joseph for a remedy, and things worked out.  That is not to say things were easy, and I kept thinking I could still leave and enter a monastery and Darold would be free.  The sadness my restlessness must have caused Darold had to have been painful, if not annoying, yet he never said very much.  He allowed me space - what he put up with though - the only thing he would tell me is not to lay my guilt on him, as well as pointing out there was nothing wrong with our friendship.  (He really helped me.)  

I mention this because I believed the Carthusians would accept me after I had 'successfully' lived two years, chaste and celibate, albeit with Darold.  (I was so clueless - after all, it was Darold's support and stability which allowed me to grow up, to live chastely and celibately, and return to the prayer and the sacraments.  Together we were able to help others.)  That said, I came upon the final rejection letter today while going through papers, which I'll post here, along with the Facebook piece I did in remembrance of Fr. Marianus.  (I was surprised to learn, only a week or so ago, that he had died, and even more surprised to find out he was a German Prince.)

Back to Fr. Marianus.

As I mentioned, my stay was in the mid-1970's. A few weeks ago I scheduled a set of Gregorian Masses to be celebrated by the Carthusians for Darold. Not long after that I received a box of booklets from the Prior. One contained the biography of Dom Raphael Diamond (RIP) who was Prior when I was there. Included in the book is a photo of Dom Marianus, the German priest who was Novice Master when I spent my month there. I was fortunate to be with him daily and receive spiritual direction from him. I also worked in his garden with him. The box of booklets was unexpected, since I had sent Mass requests with a donation, not expecting anything in return.
Anyway, I was surprised to find out that Dom Marianus Marck (RIP), before entering was Prince Friedrich Alfred of the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen, a high born aristocrat, who happened to be on the list of possible candidates to wed the British Princess Elizabeth - now reigning as queen. The only condition being he would have to become Protestant. He he refused, and entered the Carthusians. Isn't that amazing? His sister Regina Helene Elizabeth Margarete Prinzessin von Sachsen-Meiningen, was married to Otto von Habsburg, the son of Blessed Charles, the last Austro-Hungarian Emperor.

Friedrich Alfred von Sachsen-Meiningen (Erbprinz von Sachsen-Meiningen), Prinz
Also Known As: "Alfredo"
Birthdate: April 05, 1921
Birthplace: Jena, Thuringia, Germany
Death: September 18, 1997 (76)
Charterhouse of the Transfiguration, Mt. Equinox, Vermont, United States
Immediate Family:
Son of Georg III Af von Sachsen-Meiningen, Herzog and Klara-Marie Agnes Johanna Huberta Gabriele Josepha Elisabeth von Korff genannt Schmising-Kerssenbrock, Herzogin zu Sachsen-Meiningen
Brother of Anton-Ulrich von Sachsen-Meiningen, Prinz; Maria Gabriele von Sachsen-Meiningen, Prinzessin and Prinzessin Regina von Sachsen-Meiningen, Crown Princess of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated: May 23, 2018

Fr. Marianus, pray for us.


From time to time, around the feast of St. Bruno, I lament that I was not able to enter the Carthusians.  I would even try to blame 'them' for not admitting me.  I would try to fault them.  Over time, and more recently, I discerned that my criticism of monastics and monastic observance, as well as new groups attempting to establish a religious life, was the result of envy.  I was envious of those who were able to live a religious life.  A section from a letter of St. Bruno always caused me sorrow, little did I know - as I applied it to myself - that it fed the envy and resentment I tried to suppress.  I was in denial and went to extremes to justify the critical spirit I harbored when assessing the religious life of monastics.  I genuinely think Fr. Marianus' prayers have finally freed me from that vice - at least I hope so.

"Many wish to come into this port, and many make great efforts to do so, yet do not achieve it. Indeed many, after reaching it, have been thrust out, since it was not granted to them from above.

Therefore, my brothers, you should consider it certain and well established that whoever partakes of this desirable good, should he in any way lose it, will grieve to his death, if he has any concern for the salvation of his soul." -Letters of St. Bruno. Office of Readings.

Feast of the Holy Name of Mary and The Battle of Vienna


For those unfamiliar with Roman Catholic tradition and devotion...

A feast originally celebrated on the first Sunday after the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorating the triumph of the Holy Rosary over militant Islam.
Permission to celebrate the feast was given to various religious orders in a prudent manner as has been the custom throughout Church history regarding feast-days, their dates, offices, liturgical expression, etc. However, this Feast of the Holy Name of Mary would one day be joyfully extended to the Universal Church, and this on account of rather dramatic circumstances involving one of Poland's great military heroes, John Sobieski [1629-1696].
While acting as field-marshal under King John Casimir, Sobieski had raised a force of 8,000 men and enough provisions to withstand a siege of Cossacks and Tartars, who were forced to retire unsuccessfully and at a loss. In 1672, under the reign of Michael Wisniowiecki, Sobieski engaged and defeated the Turkish army, who lost 20,000 men at Chocim.
'When King Michael died, Sobieski, a beloved hero at that point, was crowned King of Poland. But, even before his coronation could take place, he would again engage and drive back the Turkish hordes in separate battles including the raising of the siege at Trembowla. Once crowned, he advanced to the Ruthenian provinces, where, having too few soldiers to attack the Turks, who outnumbered his men ten to one, he literally wore out the enemy, garrisoning his troops at Zurawno. Because of this heroic effort, he was able to regain, by treaty, a good portion of the Ukraine.
With both Turks and Poles weary from battle, peace reigned for a time . . . until the Turks set their sights on Austria, setting out through Hungary with an army of approximately 300,000 men. Fleeing from Austria, Emperor Leopold asked for Sobieski's assistance, a plea which was seconded by the Papal Nuncio. In July 1683, the Grand Vizier Kara Mustapha had reached Vienna and laid siege to the city, which was being defended by only 15,000 men. Sobieski set out for Vienna in August, his forces marching behind the banner of the Blessed Virgin. Passing by the Sanctuary of Mary in Czestochowa, they implored Our Lady's help and blessing. Writing centuries later to the bishops of Poland, Pope Pius XII recalled the supplications of Sobieski to Mary at the Sanctuary on Jasna Gora [i.e., "Bright Hill"], the site of the Shrine.
Battle was engaged before the walls of Vienna on September 12, 1683, with Sobieski seemingly put to flight by "the fierce Turkish forces. However, this retreat was a minor setback only. The Hussars renewed their assault and charged the Turks, this time sending the enemy into a retreat. The combat raged on, until Sobieski finally stormed the enemy camp. The Turkish forces were routed, Vienna was saved, and Sobieski sent the "Standard of the Prophet" to Pope Innocent XI along with the good news. In a letter to the Pontiff, Sobieski summed up his victory in these words: Veni, vidi, Deus vicit -----"I came, I saw, God conquered!" To commemorate this glorious victory, and render thanksgiving to God and honor to Our Lady for their solicitude in the struggle, Pope Innocent XI extended "The Feast of the Holy Name of Mary" to the Universal Church. Although the feast was originally celebrated on the Sunday after the Nativity of Mary, Pope St. Pius X [+1914] decreed that it be celebrated on September 12, in honor of the victory of the Catholic forces under John Sobieski.

The history of this feast reminds us in some ways of that of "Our Lady of the Rosary," which was instituted to celebrate and commemorate the victory of the Catholic forces over the Turkish navy at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571: "And thus Christ's faithful warriors, prepared to sacrifice their life and blood for the welfare of their Faith and their country, proceeded undauntedly to meet their foe near the Gulf of Corinth; while those who were unable to join them formed a band of pious supplicants, who called on Mary and, as one, saluted Her again and again in the words of the Rosary, imploring Her to grant victory to their companions engaged in battle. Our sovereign Lady did grant Her aid." [Pope Leo XIII, Supremi Apostolatus, 1883] - Source
Interestingly, Blessed Pope John Paul II restored the feast of the Holy Name of Mary one year after the events of 9/11 in 2002.  
Pray the Rosary every day ... Our Lady of Fatima

Monday, September 07, 2020

Our Lady's Eve


Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

You, O little Mary, Maria Bambina, are the Cause of our Joy! Your appearance in the arms of your mother announces that the Word of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, will soon appear in your arms. And you have but one desire, one joy: to give us your Son, to draw us to Him, that your joy might be ours and that our joy might be fulfilled. Amen

I am all thine, and all that I have is thine, O most loving Jesus,
through Mary Thy most holy and Immaculate Mother.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Commemoration of St. Michael Archangel and the Miracle at Chonae


In Phrygia, not far from the city of Hieropolis, 
in a place called Cheretopos, 
there was a church named for the Archangel Michael, 
built over a miraculous spring.

September 6: Archangel Michael's miracle at Chonae.

This is an Orthodox Commemoration - I have not seen it in the Roman Martyrology, which lists two feast day for St. Michael: 8 May, the apparition on Monte Gargano, and 29 September, dedication of the Church on Mt. Gargano.
I love the apparition at Colossae (Paul's letter to the Colossians helps locate the area. As does the Book of Revelation.) The miracle itself parallels - for me - an eschatological episode from Revelation, specifically Chapter 12:
When the dragon saw that it had been thrown down to the earth, it pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.
But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle,* so that she could fly to her place in the desert, where, far from the serpent, she was taken care of for a year, two years, and a half-year.
The serpent,* however, spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth after the woman to sweep her away with the current.
But the earth helped the woman and opened its mouth and swallowed the flood that the dragon spewed out of its mouth.
Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus." - USCCB


The iconography of the miracle at Chonae reminds me of that particular passage from Revelation, as does the literal narrative of the miracle. I'll reprint a section from the Orthodox Church in America site:
"In Phrygia, not far from the city of Hieropolis, in a place called Cheretopos, there was a church named for the Archangel Michael, built over a miraculous spring.
At this church of the holy Chief Commander Michael, a certain pious man by the name of Archippus served for sixty years as church custodian. By his preaching and by the example of his saintly life he brought many pagans to faith in Christ. With the general malice of that time towards Christians, and especially against Archippus, the pagans thought to destroy the church in order to prevent people from coming to that holy place of healing, and at the same time kill Archippus.
Toward this end they made a confluence of the Lykokaperos and Kufos Rivers and directed its combined flow against the church. Saint Archippus prayed fervently to the Chief Commander Michael to ward off the danger. Through his prayer the Archangel Michael appeared at the temple, and with a blow of his staff, opened a wide fissure in a rock and commanded the rushing torrents of water to flow into it. The temple remained unharmed. Seeing such an awesome miracle, the pagans fled in terror. Archippus and the Christians gathered in church glorified God and gave thanks to the holy Archangel Michael for the help. The place where the rivers plunged into the fissure received the name “Chonae”, which means “plunging.” - OCA


Devotion to St. Michael Archangel is very important for all Christians.

Tlaxcala, Mexico 

Another marvelous apparition, somewhat similar to the Apparition at Chonae, occurred in Mexico in 1631.

On April 25, 1631, St. Michael the Archangel appeared in Tlaxcala, Mexico to a 17-year-old named Diego Lázaro de San Francisco who was married to Francisca Castillian Xuchitl.  The apparition occurred as everyone was processing in celebration of a previous apparition of St. Michael to St. Gregory the Great (April 25, 590 A.D) during a great plague which St. Michael ended.  - Story here.

Prayer to St. Michael.

Oh, most noble Prince of the Angelic Hierarchies, valorous warrior of Almighty God, and zealous lover of His glory, terror of the rebellious angels, and love and delight of all the just, my beloved Archangel Saint Michael, desiring to be numbered among your devoted servants, I, today offer and consecrate myself to you, and place myself, my family, and all I possess under your most powerful protection.

I entreat you not to look at how little I, as your servant have to offer, being only a wretched sinner, but to gaze, rather, with favorable eye at the heartfelt affection with which this offering is made, and remember that if from this day onward I am under your patronage, you must during all my life assist me, and procure for me the pardon of my many grievous offenses and sins, the grace to love with all my heart my God, my dear Savior Jesus, and my Sweet Mother Mary, and to obtain for me all the help necessary to arrive to my crown of glory.

Defend me always from my spiritual enemies, particularly in the last moments of my life.

Come then, oh Glorious Prince and succor me in my last struggle, and with your powerful weapon cast far from me into the infernal abysses that prevaricator and proud angel that one day you prostrated in the celestial battle.

Accompany me then to the throne of God to sing with you, Archangel Saint Michael and all the angels, praise, honor and glory to the One who reigns for all eternity. AMEN.