Vatican II Put Into a Code of Laws – The New Cod of Canon Law (1983)

Vatican II Put Into a Code of Laws

The New Code of Canon Law (1983)

by a Dominican Father of Avrillé

(published in Le Sel de la terre 120, Spring 2022)

When error is once embodied in legal formulas and administrative practices, it penetrates the minds to depths from which it becomes as if impossible to extricate it.

Cardinal Pie, Pastoral Works, VI.

Preamble: Is Canon Law Amiable?

When a priest makes this cheerful comment to one of his confreres: “So you study Canon Law?” one can easily guess some ulterior motive which could be translated as follows: “What a turn of mind you have!” or again: “What courage!

Is Canon Law really so boring? Is it so abstract, so cold, so unpleasant? We would like to prove here how lovable it is in itself, lovable especially because it introduces us, like theology, to the heart of the Church and to the Heart of Christ1.

It was of the traditional Code of Canon Law, that of 1917, that Father Coache spoke in these terms in the 1980s. But first of all, what is Law?

In French, Canon Law is translated “Droit canon”, and the French word Droit (in Latin Jus) comes from the Latin words dirigere and regere. In this case, it means a set of laws intended to direct us, to govern us. As for the word “canon“, it comes from a Greek word which means: rule.

We can now define Canon Law:

Canon Law is the body of laws proposed, established or approved by the supreme ecclesiastical authority, to direct Christians towards the end of religious society2.

A classic commentary adds the following clarification:

The subjects of ecclesiastical law are Christians, that is, all those who have received baptism, even if they are heretics, schismatics, excommunicated or even apostates.

As for the end of religious society, it is none other than the salvation of men, and, more immediately, the preservation of divine worship, of the purity of the faith and of honesty of morals among the Christian people in general3.

It is important to note the link between Canon Law and theology:

– it can be said to protect dogmatic theology, laying down rules to preserve the purity of the faith, in particular laws on teaching, prescriptions on professions of faith, censures against heresy and schism4;

– It supports moral theology as from the outside, for if moral theology orders human acts (interior and exterior) to personal eternal salvation, Canon Law has as its object the exterior acts of the baptized in their relation to the social good of the Church on this earth, to enable her to work for the salvation of souls and the reign of Our Lord over societies. Canon Law does not judge the internal forum of consciences, which is reserved for the confessional. Hence the adage: de internis Ecclesia non judicat.

The Code of Canon Law is therefore as important in the Church as dogma, morals, or the science of the Holy Scriptures. It shows the face of the Church and of Christ in their magnificent justice and their sweet mercy. It is the legislation of Christ and of His Bride, an expression of the Love of Our Lord and of His Church for their children. It is the Code of Canon Law that makes known to us the spirit of the Church. It is therefore lovable, and we must respect and love it5 .

Two Codes, Two Stories

The 1917 Code

– The Sources of Traditional Canon Law

The Supreme Pontiff and the General Councils are the two immediate sources of Canon Law; and since the decrees of the General Councils have authority only through papal approval, it can be said that papal authority is the primary generative source of General Canon Law6 .

– From the Apostles to the 12 th century: the birth of ecclesiastical legislation

In the early days, the discipline of the Church was not regulated by written laws, but by an oral tradition which came from the Apostles and the first successors of Peter. Gradually, especially after the era of persecution, synods began to be held in which decrees or canons were issued, forming the first texts of ecclesiastical law. They were gathered in collections bearing the name of the Apostles (Didascalia7 of the Apostles, Constitutions of the Apostles, Canons of the Apostles, etc.) or of some great ecclesiastical figure (Octateuch of Clement, Canons of Hippolytus, etc.). These are compilations of local customs or conciliar decisions, but they do not go back further than the third century8 .

From the 4 th century onwards, there are collections of different conciliar decisions classified by region and chronological order (Councils of Africa, Councils of Spain, etc.) and Decretals of popes.

The most famous canonical collection is the Decree of Gratian, published around 1145 in Bologna, which groups in a logical order and comments all the texts available at the time. John Gratian was an Italian Camaldolese monk and professor of Canon Law at the University of Bologna. His collection had the same notoriety and influence as the Sentences of Peter Lombard for theology.

– From the 12 th to 16th century: stabilization of the Law

After the Decree of Gratian, several ecumenical councils were held, and the great popes of the time, Alexander III (pope from 1159 to 1181) and Innocent III (pope from 1198 to 1216) in particular, had made a number of important decisions for the whole Church. The decrees of the Fourth Lateran Council (1216) provided the main basis for the Church’s legislation until the Council of Trent.

Gregory IX (pope from 1227 to 1241) commissioned his chaplain, the Dominican St. Raymond de Pennafort (1175-1275), to compile a collection of them. These were the Decretals of Gregory IX, published in 1234, the most important official canonical collection until the Code of 1917.

At the beginning of the 16 th century, a Corpus Juris canonici was published, including the Decree of Gratian, the Decretals of Gregory IX and the documents of the following popes.

– From the 16 th to the 20 th century: the crowning of the Law

The decrees of the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and the promulgation of new laws soon made the Corpus Juris canonici insufficient. Several popes tried to complete it, while new collections, due to private initiative, were created.

At the time when St. Pius X (pope from 1903 to 1914) ascended to the See of Peter, it was difficult to find one’s way through the ecclesiastical legislation.

[It was] an enormous mass of documents scattered in so many volumes and without any order, many of which were not real laws, but answers to particular cases, or had been abrogated by later laws or by custom9 .

[Moreover, many of these laws], because of the changes that had taken place, were of difficult application or of lesser use for the salvation of souls10 .

Already at the first Vatican Council, many bishops had made urgent requests for an updating of the ecclesiastical laws. Leo XIII had begun by codifying the legislation of the Index and of religious congregations with simple vows.

In 1904, St. Pius X judged that the codification of all Canon Law could be undertaken. By his Motu Proprio Arduum Sane Munus of 19 March, he set up a commission of cardinals, presided over by Cardinal Gasparri, working in conjunction with several consultors and bishops. Bishops and religious superiors were then invited to give their opinion. It was under Pope Benedict XV that the work was completed. The Code was promulgated on May 27, 1917, the day of Pentecost, by the Bull Providentissima Mater, declaring that it would have the force of law from May 19, 1918.

On September 15, 1917, by the letter Cum Juris canonici, Benedict XV had instituted a cardinal commission charged with the interpretation of the Code and with the drafting of additional canons that might become necessary in the future. Since then, there have been many new texts and provisions, for example, the change of discipline for the Eucharistic fast, or the permission for evening Masses. Pius XII alone, through his speeches and decrees, has greatly advanced the Law. The changes were published in the Acta Apostolicæ Sedis (Acts of the Holy See)11 .

The 1983 Code

An update of the Canon Law was therefore necessary.

In 1953, the Jesuit Father Regatillo published a 720-page work interpreting, completing or correcting – with official responses from Rome – a large number of canons.

It was John XXIII, on January 25, 1959, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, who simultaneously announced the holding of a Roman Synod, the celebration of an Ecumenical Council, and the reform of the Code of Canon Law.

But it was only on March 28, 1963, after the first session of Vatican II, that John XXIII established a “Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law” composed of forty cardinals. At its first meeting, on 12 November 1963, the Commission decided to wait until the end of the Council before setting to work.

On April 17, 1964, Paul VI added to the Cardinal’s Commission a body of seventy consultors, among whom were almost all the secretaries of the Conciliar Commissions.

The work began a few days before the solemn closing of the Council, under the presidency of Cardinal Felici12 . In 1966, forty-eight bishops and one hundred and twenty-one consultors, priests, religious and laity, were added in order to involve the universal Church in this elaboration13 .

After ten years of work, the project was sent to all the bishops, to the superiors general of the religious orders, to the Catholic universities and pontifical ecclesiastical faculties for consultation. Thirty thousand suggestions were examined, and new cardinals, archbishops and bishops, priests and laity from the five parts of the world were added to the Commission. Everything was then presented to Pope John Paul II on 21 April 1982. The latter revised the whole with a group of ten experts (cardinals, bishops and priests).

The new Code was promulgated by Pope John Paul II on January 25, 1983, in the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Leges, twenty-four years to the day after John XXIII had announced the reform. In it, the Pope noted the “collegial” character of the work that led to this new Code, as shown by the large number of people who had worked on it:

If we look at the kind of work that preceded the promulgation of the Code, and the way in which it was carried out, especially during the pontificates of Paul VI and John Paul Ist, and from then until today, it must be made absolutely clear that this work was carried out to the end in a marvellously collegial spirit14 . And this is true not only for the material drafting of this work, but also, and in depth, for the very substance of the laws that were drawn up.

Now this note of collegiality which characterizes and distinguishes the whole process of giving birth to this new Code corresponds perfectly to the magisterium and the character of the Second Vatican Council15.

Two Codes, Two Minds

It is interesting to see in what spirit Pope St. Pius X on the one hand, and Pope John Paul II on the other, have endeavored to bring together the ecclesiastical laws in a single Code.

The Intention of St. Pius X

Let us quote here a few lines from the Motu Proprio Arduum Sane Munus of St. Pius X, written only eight months after his election16 , which shows how much the pope considers this task a priority:

As soon as, by a secret council of divine Providence, We assumed the painful task of governing the universal Church, the main goal and the rule which We imposed on Ourselves, as it were, was, as far as Our strength would allow, to restore everything in Christ. […]

But knowing full well that ecclesiastical discipline, above all, must contribute to the restoration of everything in Christ – for if it is well regulated and flourishing, it cannot but be very fruitful in the fruits of salvation – We have directed Our attention and Our paternal solicitude to this area. […]

Many illustrious prelates of the Holy Church, even cardinals, have urged that the laws of the universal Church which have been promulgated up to this time be distributed in a clear and precise order, excluding those which have been abrogated or which have fallen into disuse. The others would, when necessary, be adapted to the needs of our time17 .

The pope is clearly following in the footsteps of his predecessors, updating the laws of the Church in order to effectively implement his program of restoration of all things in Christ.

The Intention of John Paul II

In the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Leges of January 25, 1983, Pope John Paul II explains the spirit in which he requested the publication of a new Code of Canon Law:

The reform of the Code of Canon Law was clearly desired and requested by the Council itself, for it had devoted the greatest attention to the Church. […]

This is why the Code, not only in its content but already from its inception, has put into action the spirit of the Council, whose documents present the Church, the “universal sacrament of salvation18“, as the People of God, and where its hierarchical constitution appears to be based on the College of Bishops united to its head. […]

This instrument, the Code, corresponds fully to the nature of the Church, especially as described by the magisterium of the Second Vatican Council in general, and in particular in its ecclesiological teaching. In a certain sense, one could even see in this Code a great effort to translate into canonical language this very doctrine of conciliar ecclesiology. If, however, it is not possible to translate perfectly into canonical language the conciliar image of the Church, the Code must nevertheless always be referred to this same image as its primordial exemplar, whose features, by its very nature, it must express as much as possible. […]

As a result, what constitutes the essential novelty of the Second Vatican Council, in continuity with the Church’s legislative tradition, especially with regard to ecclesiology, also constitutes the novelty of the new Code.

Among the elements that characterize the real and authentic image of the Church, we must highlight the following in particular:

– the doctrine according to which the Church presents herself as the People of God (cf. Constitution Lumen Gentium, 2) and hierarchical authority as service (cf. ibid, 3);

– the doctrine which shows the Church as a communion19 and which, therefore, indicates what kind of relationship should exist between the particular Churches and the universal Church, and between collegiality and primacy;

– the doctrine that all members of the People of God, each according to his or her own modality, participate in the threefold function of Christ: the priestly, prophetic and royal functions. Linked to this doctrine is that concerning the duties and rights of the faithful, and in particular the laity; and finally the Church’s commitment to ecumenism. […]

After all these reflections, it remains to hope that the new canonical legislation will become an effective means for the Church to progress in the spirit of Vatican II, and to make herself better adapted each day to fulfill her function of salvation in this world20.

The quote is a bit long, but it was difficult to shorten it.

Pope John Paul II makes it clear that the 1983 Code is a new Code in its conception of the Church as “People of God” and “communion”, and that it was promulgated to advance the Church in the spirit of Vatican II.

The Main Divisions of the Code

The different spirit of the two Codes is first evident in their design.

The 1917 Code

The 1917 Code is divided into five books, which in turn are divided into 107 titles (Tituli):

– Book I: General Norms: of ecclesiastical laws, customs, time calculation, rescripts, privileges, dispensations.

– Book II: Persons: clerics, religious, laity.

– Book III: Things: sacraments, sacred places and times, divine worship, ecclesiastical magisterium, ecclesiastical benefits, temporal goods of the Church.

– Book IV: Trials in justice, causes of beatifications and canonizations, the manner of proceeding in some cases and penal sanctions.

– Book V: Sanctions and Punishments.

The 1983 Code

The 1983 Code does not repeat this division:

It should be noted that the general organization of the new Code is symptomatic of the spirit in which it was composed. The division of legal matters has abandoned the general division of the 1917 Code, which was dependent on the ancient principles of Roman law. […]

Henceforth, the division of the titles of the new Code follows a distribution more in conformity with the directives of the Council and, in the titles themselves which have been adopted, reveals the spirit which animated this reform21 .

– Book I: General Norms: ecclesiastical laws, custom, general decrees and instructions, particular administrative acts, statutes and regulations, natural and juridical persons, the power of government, ecclesiastical offices, prescription, calculation of time.

– Book II: The People of God: the faithful of Christ, the hierarchical constitution of the Church, institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life.

– Book III: The Teaching Function of the Church: the ministry of the Word of God, the missionary activity of the Church, Catholic education, the means of social communication and in particular books, the profession of faith.

– Book IV: The Office of Sanctifying in the Church: the Sacraments, Other Acts of Divine Worship, Sacred Places and Times.

– Book V: The Temporal Goods of the Church.

– Book VI: Sanctions in the Church.

– Book VII: The Trials.

Outline of the 1983 Code

Since this article is not a treatise on Canon Law for specialists, we will not make an exhaustive study. The reader will, however, find sufficient elements to make a judgment on the new legislation.

Book I: General Norms (C. 1-203)

Like the 1917 Code, the 1983 Code begins by establishing “General Norms”. This is Book I, which establishes the main principles governing the constitution and interpretation of ecclesiastical laws.

Although the number of canons has increased from 86 to 203, and there have been some changes in titles and subject matter, there is no significant difference here, between the 1917 and 1983 legislation.

It should be noted, however, from this introduction, that the chapter on ecclesiastical offices, which was in the part dealing with clerics, has been transferred to the General Norms. Canon Paralieu gives the explanation:

Lay people, and even women, can now receive an ecclesiastical office (unless the office involves a full charge of the soul): a lay person can be a diocesan bursar, a woman can be a defender of the [marital] bond in an ecclesiastical Tribunal [Paralieu, p. 75]22 .

With respect to these offices, the 1983 Code states:

To be appointed to an ecclesiastical office, one must be in the communion of the Church [can. 149 § 1].

In itself, this is obvious, but we will see what this notion of “communion” implies today, in connection with the new profession of faith.

Let us now go further into the new legislation.

Book II: The People of God (C. 204-746)

Book II of the new Code, with its 543 canons, is the most important by its length. It constitutes almost a third of the work. But it is especially important for its new conception of the Church.

– Part I: Christ’s faithful (C. 204-329)

1. Preamble (C. 204-207)

– The 1983 Code is based first of all on a new conception of the Church defined as “People of God”, which even gives its title to Book II:

C. 204, § 1: The faithful of Christ are those who, being incorporated into Christ by baptism, are constituted as the people of God and who, for this reason, having been made participants in their own way in the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ, are called to exercise, each according to his own condition, the mission which God has entrusted to the Church for the accomplishment of this mission in the world.

It should be noted here that the 1983 Code ‑, again for the first time, ‑ uses the name “Christ’s faithful” to designate both the laity and the hierarchical clergy; an egalitarianism which is reinforced by the fact that the Code begins by enumerating the obligations and rights common to all, without distinction (Title I).

On the other hand, while the 1917 Code deals with persons according to a descending hierarchy (clerics, religious, laity), the 1983 Code reverses things by dealing first with the laity (Title II), before examining the legislation concerning clerics (Title III). As for religious, they are relegated to a place after the associations of the faithful (Title V23 ) and the part concerning the hierarchy of the Church.

Let us note paragraph 2 of the same canon with the famous “subsistit in”:

C. 204, § 2: This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him.

The expression is taken from the Vatican II Constitution Lumen Gentium on the Church (I, 8). Traditional teaching expressly states that the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church, which means very clearly that there is absolute identity between the Church founded by Our Lord and the Catholic Church. The other ecclesial communities, falsely qualified as Christian, do not belong to the Church of Christ, but have left it. The expression subsistit in introduces an ambiguity which allows us to maintain that outside the Catholic Church, there are true ecclesial realities24 .

Ecumenism has come.

– In his introduction to Canon Paralieu’s work presenting the new Code, Father de Lanversin explains the reason for the changes:

Book II of the new Code (De Populo Dei) is the one that puts in place the most new elements resulting from the conciliar decisions; and first of all a reversal of the ecclesiological perspectives following the Constitution Lumen Gentium on the Church. In fact, the binomial of the old Law: “hierarchy/people of God” gives way to this one: “people of God/hierarchy”; that is to say, the Church is presented as an evangelical community in which the hierarchy, willed by Christ, is not so much envisaged as a power (potestas) as an office (munus) and a service (diakonia) within the people of God. In the perspective of “ecclesial communion”, this part of the Code sets up the various instances of the “communio hierarchica” within the people of God. In the same way, an entire section of Book II is devoted to the establishment of “organs of participation” in the Church. […] This part of the Code also includes an entire treatise on the laity, without forgetting the right of association of the faithful [p. 24-25].

In his book Church, Ecumenism and Politics, Cardinal Ratzinger explains why this has happened. After recalling that German theologians began criticizing the concept of the Mystical Body in the 1930s25, he adds:

We wondered whether the image of the Mystical Body was not too narrow a starting point for defining the multiple forms of belonging to the Church that are now present in the complicated meanderings of human history. The image of the Body offers only one form of representation of membership, that of member. Either one is a member or one is not, there is no middle ground. But, one might ask, would not the starting point of this image be precisely a little too narrow, since there are obviously intermediate degrees in reality? The concept of the people of God was found, which from this point of view is much broader and more flexible. The Constitution Lumen Gentium makes it its own, in specifying this sense, when it describes the relationship of Catholic Christians with the Catholic Church by the concept of connection (conjunctio)26, and that of non-Christians by the concept of ordination (ordinatio)27. In both cases, the idea of the people of God is used.

It can be said that the concept of the People of God was introduced by the Council primarily as an ecumenical bridge28.

– What do we think of these changes?

This ecumenical notion of the “People of God”, which we shall see has no basis in either Sacred Scripture or the Magisterium, has no basis in history either.

In the Old Testament, God certainly began by forming a people from the twelve sons of Jacob exiled in Egypt, and it was later that he constituted a hierarchy around Moses to guide them. It is worth noting that this people had very precise boundaries, because of the circumcision that distinguished it from all the neighboring peoples. There was no room for “imperfect communion”. One belonged to the people or one did not.

But in the New Covenant, Our Lord began by forming for three years, not a people, but twelve Apostles, to whom he gave a leader, St. Peter; and from Pentecost onwards, it was these same Apostles, with St. Peter at their head, who constituted a people, through baptism, which distinguishes it from other peoples. Very quickly an intermediate hierarchy was established through the ordination of deacons, sub-deacons, etc.

The Magisterium has moreover clearly pronounced itself on this question. Thus, on June 29, 1943 – not so long ago – Pope Pius XII wrote the encyclical Mystici Corporis, on the Church Mystical Body of Jesus Christ.

This doctrine, which Cardinal Ratzinger considers to be “a starting point that is too limited, […] and a little too narrow”, Pius XII recalled that the Church nevertheless “received it from the lips of the Redeemer himself; and it puts in its true light this never sufficiently exalted benefit of our close union with this sublime Head”.

And the Pope continued with St. Paul:

“Christ,” says the Apostle, “is the head of the Body which is the Church” (Col 1:18). If the Church is a Body, it is therefore necessary that it be a single and indivisible organism, according to the words of St. Paul: “Though we are many, we are one Body in Christ” (Rom 12:5). […]

It is therefore a departure from divine truth to imagine a Church that cannot be touched, that is only spiritual, in which the many Christian communities, though divided from one another in faith, are nevertheless united by an invisible bond.

It is the notion of the body that allows us to better understand the need for a hierarchy:

The body, in nature, is not formed of any assemblage of members, but must be provided with organs, that is to say, with members which are not equally active and which are arranged in a suitable order.

It is again the notion of the body that gives the Church its missionary impetus:

Those who do not belong to the visible organism of the Church […] we invite to come out of a state in which no one can be sure of his eternal salvation. […] Let them, therefore, enter into Catholic unity and, united with us in the one organism of the Body of Jesus Christ, let them all run to the one Head in a most glorious society of love.

In fact, with the new conception of the Church as the people of God and a communion, not only has a democratic spirit undermined the authority of the Catholic hierarchy instituted by Our Lord, but the “ecumenical bridge” permitted by the new definition of the Church has opened the door to the end of the mission, the essential task which Christ had entrusted to his Apostles:

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned (Mk 16:15-16).

Archbishop Lefebvre considered this change in conception to be exceptionally serious:

There is a new ecclesiology, that’s clear. In my opinion, it is exceptionally serious to be able to say that there can be a new ecclesiology. We are not the ones who make the Church, we are not the ones who made her, not the Pope, not the bishops, not history, not the Councils. It was made by Our Lord. [It does not depend on us. So, how can we suddenly say: “Now, since Vatican II, there is a new ecclesiology”, and this is said by the Pope himself. It is unbelievable29.

(To be continued)

Translation by A. A.

1 – Abbé Louis Coache (1920-1994), Doctor of Canon Law, introduction to his book: Is Canon Law Kind? Beaumont-Pied-de-Bœuf (Moulin du Pin), 1986. The work is an introduction to Canon Law, augmented by a critical study of the new Code. It is a very easy read.

2 – Adrien Cance, Le Code de Droit Canonique, Paris, Gabalda, 1938, p. 8.

3 – Adrien Cance, ibid. , p. 9-10.

4 – Censure is a punishment that the Church inflicts on one of its subjects for his amendment, and of course for the common good. We will discuss this in connection with Book VI of the new Code.

5 – This preamble is inspired by the introduction to the work of Father Coache.

6 – A brief history of Canon Law can be found in the volume by Adrien Cance, Le Code de Droit canonique, Paris, Gabalda, 1938, vol. 1, pp. 6-21, which we have used. A more detailed study has been made by Raoul Naz in his Traité de Droit Canonique, Paris, Letouzey et Ané, 1946, vol. 1, pp. 9-63.

7 – This word comes from the Greek didaskalia which means: teaching.

8 – For a more in-depth study, one can consult here the articles of F. Nau in the DTC: “Canons of the Apostles, Apostolic Constitutions, Didascalia of the Apostles”.

9 – Cardinal Gasparri, in the preface to the 1917 Code.

10 – St. Pius X, Bull Arduum Sane munus, March 19, 1904.

11 – A very valuable work, Canon Law Digest, by the American Father Bouscaren S.J., gathers together all the pontifical documents relating to Canon Law, from 1917 to 1983 (published in Milwaukee, USA, by The Bruce publishing company.

12 – He died of a sudden heart attack just before presenting the final work to Pope John Paul II.

13 – By comparison, the drafting of the 1917 Code had required only ten cardinals under the chairmanship of Cardinal Gasparri, assisted by a small number of consultors. The work lasted thirteen years.

14 – Italics in the original text.

15 – John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Sacræ Disciplinæ Leges, Latin-French Code of Canon Law, Paris, Centurion/Cerf/Tardy, 1984, p. x.

16 – St. Pius X was indeed elected pope on August 4, 1903.

17 – St. Pius X, Motu Proprio Arduum Sane Munus, March 19, 1904, Documents Pontificaux de S.S. Saint Pius X, Publications du Courrier de Rome, 1993, volume 1, p. 152-153.

18 – Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 1, 9, 48.

19 – Italics in the original text.

20 – John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Sacræ Disciplinæ Leges, 25 January 1983, reproduced in the work Code of Canon Law, Official Text and French Translation, Paris, Centurion/Cerf/Tardy, 1984, pp. IX ff.

21 – Roger Paralieu, Guide Pratique du Code de Droit canonique, Bourges, Tardy, 1985, p. 23. Preface by Cardinal Etchegaray.

22 – We will speak a little later about the influence of feminism in the Church today, in the section on institutes of consecrated life.

23 – Title IV is like a parenthesis which deals with personal prelatures, a novelty of Vatican II.

24 – On this expression Subsistit in, we can see, among others, the explanations of the Catholic Catechism of the Crisis in the Church, question 45 (in Le Sel de la terre 51, p. 19-20).

25 – So it was under Pope Pius XI. Modernism was acting in a subterranean way, waiting to show itself in the open during the Council.

26 – “The word “connection” means that there is some imperfect fellowship in Christ” (book note).

27 – “The word ordination means that there is some still more imperfect communion in the same God or about the same” (book note).

28 – Joseph Ratzinger, Église, Œcuménisme et Politique, Paris, Fayard, 1987, p. 27. To deepen this new conception of the Church, one can refer to the article by Brother Pierre-Marie o.p. “Comparative Ecclesiology”, published in Le Sel de la terre 97, Summer 2016.

29 – Archbishop Lefebvre, spiritual conference of March 17, 1986 in Ecône (in CD #2, The Holy Church).

Devotion to the Holy Face and the Golden Arrow

Devotion to the Holy Face and the Golden Arrow

​  Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre (1816-1848)

  from Le Sel de la terre 110, Autumn 2019

1. A Life Hidden in God

Perrine ELUERE, who was to become Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre in the Carmelite Order, was born on October 4, 1816 in Rennes (French Britanny). Born into a family of twelve children, she lost her mother at the age of twelve and asked the Blessed Virgin to be her mother.

Deciding to become a nun, she had to wait several years before realizing her vocation and invoked Saint Martin of Tours for this intention. On November 11, 1839, her feast day, she left Rennes for the Carmel of Tours.

There she was favored with revelations from Christ, on the gravity of blasphemy and desecration of Sundays and the need to make reparation for so many crimes that directly offend God. Jesus taught her a prayer of reparation – The Golden Arrow and also asked for the establishment of a brotherhood of reparation. He entrusted France to her prayers.

Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre lived in great devotion to the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Very humble, helpful, and patient, she accepted the most modest tasks with obedience, following the example of the Child Jesus.

Put to the test by her superiors, to whom she had opened up about the revelations she had received, she always showed obedience and humility. Stricken with pulmonary tuberculosis, she died in the odor of sanctity on July 8, 1848, in her thirty-third year, after a painful agony.

Six months after her death, in January 1849, a miracle in Rome popularized devotion to the Holy Face throughout Christendom and encouraged the saintly man from Tours, Mr. Dupont, to exhibit the image in his salon, which quickly became a very popular oratory because of the miracles that multiplied there.

But even before that, Mr. Dupont, who knew Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre personally, advised everyone to pray at her tomb to ask for graces. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, in turn, had a special devotion to the Carmelite nun of Tours, from whom she drew inspiration for her childlike way.

2. Making Reparation for the Blasphemies and Offenses Against God

The Golden Arrow

On August 26, 1843, during the evening prayer, Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre received the inspiration to spread a devotion named The Golden Arrow. The holy man from Tours, Mr. Dupont, who learned about it later, saw it as a response from Heaven, for he had prepared the feast of St. Louis (August 25) with a novena asking the holy king for his intercession and help in the fight against blasphemy in France. Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre reported to her Mother Superior in these words:

Our Lord opened His Heart to me, gathered the powers of my soul in it, and addressed these words to me: ‘My Name is blasphemed everywhere; even children blaspheme!’ “And He made me hear how this awful sin hurt His divine Heart more painfully than all the others; by blasphemy, the sinner curses Him to his face, attacks Him openly, annihilates the Redemption, and pronounces himself his condemnation and his judgment. Blasphemy is a poisoned arrow, which continually wounds His Heart: He told me that He wanted to give me a golden arrow to wound Him delightfully, and to heal the wounds of malice that sinners make Him.”

Here is the formula of praise that Our Lord, in spite of my great unworthiness, dictated to me for the reparation of blasphemies against his holy Name. He gave it to me like a golden arrow, assuring me that every time I say it, I will wound his Heart with a wound of love:

Golden Arrow:

May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible, and ineffable Name of God be forever praised, blessed, loved, adored, and glorified forever in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most holy Sacrament of the Altar. So be it.

Our Lord, having given me this golden arrow, added: ‘Pay attention to this favor, for I will ask you to give an account.’”

At that moment it seemed to me that streams of grace for the conversion of sinners were coming out of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, wounded by this golden arrow.

Jesus’ Great Desire: to Glorify the Name of the Father

A month later (September 29, feast of St. Michael), the sister communicated to her Mother Superior:

Our Lord inspired me to join to the praise of the Golden Arrow some prayers to make reparation, by twenty-four adorations, the blasphemies professed at each hour of the day, and He was kind enough to let me know that He accepted this exercise. This divine Savior made me share in the desire He feels to see the Name of His Father glorified; He told me to apply myself to praising and blessing this adorable Name, in imitation of the angels who sing in heaven perpetually: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus; and thus I will fulfill the order He gave me to honor His Heart and that of His holy Mother, for they are both wounded by blasphemy. He also made me understand that this would not prevent me from honoring Him in His mysteries, as I am accustomed to do, because in all the mysteries of His life His Heart has suffered for the sin of blasphemy.

Gravity of the Desecration of Sundays

On November 24, the sister relayed these words of Our Lord:

The earth is covered with crimes! The breaking of the first three commandments of God has angered My Father; the blasphemy of the Holy Name of God and the profanation of the Holy Day of Sunday have added to the measure of iniquity; these sins have reached the throne of God and provoked His wrath, which will be poured out if His Justice is not appeased. I desire, but with a strong desire, that a well-approved and well-organized association be formed to honor my Father’s name.


3. The Holy Face of Our Lord

Offering Jesus to His Father

On December 25, 1843, Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre made an act of perfect donation to the Most Holy Child Jesus according to the extent of His will for the accomplishment of His designs to the glory of the Holy Name of God. From this date on, Jesus asked her to join devotion to His holy Face to acts of reparation against blasphemies:

He said to me, ‘Just as in a kingdom you can get everything you want with a silver coin marked with the effigy of the prince, so with the precious coin of My holy Humanity, which is my adorable Face, you will get everything you want in the kingdom of heaven’”.

It seems to me that we should only pray and present ourselves before the eternal Father with some merit of His Son in our hands, in order to offer it to Him and thus oblige Him to fulfill the admirable promise of our Lord: ‘Amen, amen, I say to you: if you ask the Father anything in my name, He will give it you.’ (Jn. 16:23). If we have no virtues to offer to God, let us offer Him all those of Jesus our Savior, who sanctified Himself for us. Let us offer His gentleness, humility, patience, obedience, poverty, fasts, vigils, and zeal for the glory of His Father and the salvation of souls! Let us also offer His divine and effective prayers; He prayed during his mortal life; the Gospel says that He withdrew at night to pray; He prays in Heaven; He shows His wounds to His Father for us; finally He prays in the most holy Sacrament of the altar.”

O what an ineffable mystery! A Savior God praying for His creatures, and prayed to by these same creatures!”

Let us unite our prayers with those of the incarnate Word, and they will be answered; let us offer to the eternal Father the sacred Heart of Jesus, His adorable Face, and His divine wounds; let us offer His tears, His blood and His sweat; let us offer His travels, works, words, and silence, all that He suffered in each of His mysteries; finally, let us always have our eyes fixed on the Gift of God; let us search in this treasure unknown to the world; let us, if we can, enumerate all the goods we possess in Him, and we will soon be rich and enrich poor sinners: For we can offer the humility of Jesus for the conversion of the proud, His poverty for the avaricious, His mortification for the sensual, His zeal to glorify His Father for the blasphemers, finally all the accusations He suffered from the Jews saying He was violating the Sabbath law, for the conversion of the true violators of the holy day of Sunday.”

O gift of God that I have ignored for too long, You will be my only treasure from now on; I discover new riches in Thou every day.”

Importance of Reparation

On February 2, 1844, Jesus expressed again the great concerns of His Heart, the honor of His divine Father and that of His holy spouse:

O you who are My friends and My faithful children, see if there is a pain similar to Mine; My divine Father and My Spouse, the holy Church, the object of the delights of My Heart, are despised, outraged by My enemies. Will no one arise to console Me, by defending them against those who attack them? I can no longer remain in the midst of this ungrateful people; see the torrents of tears that flow from My eyes. Will I find no one to wipe them away, making reparation to the glory of My Father and asking for the conversion of the guilty?

To Intercede for Sinners

Another day, He showed me the multitude of those who continually fall into hell, inviting me in the most touching way to help these poor sinners, and making me understand the strict obligation of the Christian soul towards these blind wretches who are precipitating themselves into the eternal abyss and to whom His mercy would open their eyes, if charitable hearts interceded for them. He told me that if He would ask the rich for an account of the temporal good He had entrusted to them to help the needy, how much more would He ask a Carmelite, a religious soul, rich with all the goods of the heavenly Spouse, for a rigorous account of the use she had made of them to help unfortunate sinners? Then this amiable Savior, opening to me His immense treasures composed of the infinite merits of His life and passion, added: –‘My daughter, I give you my Face and My Heart, I give you My Blood, I give you My wounds: draw and pour! Draw and pour! Buy without money, My Blood is the price of souls. Oh, what a sorrow for My Heart to see that remedies that cost Me so much are despised! Ask My Father for as many souls as I shed drops of blood in My Passion.’”

Gravity of Blasphemy

“He made me understand that men are incapable of understanding the insult done to God by this sin of blasphemy; blasphemies pierce His heart and make Him a second Lazarus covered with wounds. He invited me to imitate the dogs who comforted poor Lazarus by coming to lick his wounds; I would do Him a great service by employing my tongue to glorify every day the most holy Name of God despised and blasphemed by sinners, without considering whether this exercise gave me interior consolations; it would be enough for me to think that I was healing His divine wounds and causing Him great satisfaction.”

The Holy Face of Christ Offended by Blasphemies

“I understood that, as the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the sensitive object offered to our adoration to represent His immense love in the most holy Sacrament of the altar, so, in the work of reparation, the Face of Our Lord is the sensitive object offered to the adoration of the associates to repair the outrages of the blasphemers who attack the Divinity of which it is the figure, mirror, and expression. By the virtue of this adorable Face, presented to the eternal Father, we can appease His anger and obtain the conversion of the impious and blasphemers.”

“Our Lord made me see that the Church, His Spouse, is His mystical body, and that religion was the face of this body; then He showed me this face in the face of the enemies of His Name, and I saw that the blasphemers and the sectarians were renewing on the holy Face of Our Lord all the opprobrium of His Passion. I saw, thanks to this divine light, that the impious, by uttering evil words and blaspheming the holy Name of God, were spitting on the Face of the Savior and covering it with mud; that all the blows given by the sectarians to the holy Church, to religion, were the renewal of the many blows that the Face of Our Lord received, and that these unfortunate people were making this august Face sweat by striving to annihilate its works.”

“Our Lord showed me, with the help of a simple and just comparison, that the impious by their blasphemies attacked His adorable Face, and that the faithful glorified it by the homage of praise rendered to His Name and to His person.”

“Merit is in persons, but the glory that accompanies them is in their name; it bursts forth when it is pronounced; the merit or demerit of a person passes into his name. The most holy Name of God expresses the divinity, and contains in it all the perfections of the Creator; it follows from this that the blasphemers of this sacred Name attack God himself. Now let us remember these words of Jesus: “the Father is in me and I in the Father.” (Jn. 10:38). Jesus made Himself passible by the Incarnation; and He suffered, in His adorable Face, the outrages done by the blasphemers to the Name of God, His Father.”

“Our Lord has shown me that there is something mysterious about the face of a despised man of honor; yes, I see that his name and his face have a special connection. Behold a man distinguished by his name and merits, in the presence of his enemies; they do not lay hands on him, but they overwhelm him with insults, they add bitter derision to his name, instead of the titles which are due to him. Notice then what happens to the face of this insulted man; would you not say that all the outrageous words that come out of the mouths of his enemies come to rest on his face and cause him to suffer a real torment? We see this face covered with redness, shame, and confusion; the opprobrium and ignominy it suffers are more cruel to bear than real torments in the other parts of its body. Well, here is a weak portrait of the Face of Our Lord outraged by the blasphemies of the impious! Let us represent this same man in the presence of his friends, who, having learned of the insults he has received, hasten to console him, to treat him according to his dignity, pay homage to the greatness of his name by calling him by all his titles of honor; do you not then see the face of this man feel the sweetness of these praises Glory rests on his forehead and, shining on his face, makes it all shiny: joy shines in his eyes, a smile is on his lips; in a word, his faithful friends have healed the bitter pain of this face outraged by his enemies, glory has passed the reproach. This is what the friends of Jesus do through the work of reparation; the glory they give to His Name rests on this august forehead, and rejoices His most holy Face, in a very special way, in the most holy Sacrament of the altar.”

Healing the Blasphemers

• 3 November 1845:

According to the care you will take to repair My portrait, which was disfigured by blasphemers, I will take care to repair yours, which was disfigured by sin. I will reprint My image on it, and I will make it as beautiful as it was when it came out of the font of baptism. Abandon yourself therefore into My hands and be willing to suffer all the operations necessary for the restoration of this image. Do not be troubled if you experience sadness and darkness, for you know that in an image, the dark colors serve to bring out those that are more vivid. Men have the art of restoring bodies; but only I can be called the restorer of souls, and who restores them to the image of God. I have made known to you this work of reparation, I have shown you its excellence, and now I promise you the reward.”

Oh! If you could see the beauty of my Face! Your eyes are still too weak!”

• 5 January 1846:

“Our Lord made me aware that Lucifer willingly left to other demons the care of leading other flocks of sinners, such as for example: the impure, the drunkards, the greedy; but the blasphemers form his favorite flock. He made it known to me that this work of reparation embraces not only the reparation of blasphemy proper, but also that of all other blasphemies uttered against religion and the Church; however, it applies especially to blasphemies of the holy name of God.

To Draw Tirelessly From the Gold Mine

“Our Lord […] again gave me the order to pray for France, telling me […] that I should draw on His divine wounds for His sheep; finally, that He was giving Himself to me like a gold mine, to pay to His divine Father the debts which our country owes to His justice, allowing me to take for this the great treasures of His Heart. Then Our Lord made me understand that I must be careful not to act like the lazy servant of the Gospel who did not use his talent: He will ask me for an account one day, and it is very easy for me to take from this gold mine that He himself dug by his works and sufferings. I believe that He very much desires to find someone who will oblige Him, through prayer, to show mercy to France.”

Intercede for France

  • 23 January, 1846:

The face of France has become hideous in the eyes of My Father, provoking His justice; offer Him therefore the Face of His Son, in whom He is pleased, in order to draw mercy on this France; otherwise, it will be punished.’

  • November 22:

This is what the divine Master told me: ‘My daughter, I take you today as My bursar, and I place My holy Face in your hands again, so that you may offer it unceasingly to My Father for the salvation of France. Make use of this divine talent; you have in it enough to do all the business of My house; you will obtain, through this holy Face, the salvation of many sinners; with this offering, nothing will be refused you. If you only knew how pleasing the sight of my Face is to My Father!’

Changing the Wine of Justice Into the Wine of Mercy

[…] I saw other punishments prepared to satisfy this justice. When I saw this, I said to Our Lord, “Sweet Jesus, if only I could drink the rest of this cup, so that my brothers might be spared!”

“He answered me that He accepted my good will, but that I was not capable of emptying this cup, and that only He could drink it. The Savior, seeing my pain, beckoned me to enter His divine Heart; in His excessive mercy, He gave it to me as a vessel worthy of being presented to the eternal Father to receive this wine of His wrath, making me understand that, passing through this channel, it would be changed for us into the wine of mercy. But He does not want to entirely infringe the rights of justice; if I may express myself in this way, He wants to make a covenant between His justice and His mercy, and for this purpose He asks for the establishment of the work of Reparation to the glory of His Name. Yes, He will disarm the anger of God, His Father, if He offers Him a work of reparation for us! Is it not the least we can do, O sweet Jesus, to make reparation by our prayers, by our groans and by our adoration, for the enormous sins of which we are guilty towards the majesty of God? This, Mother, is the prayer that Our Lord put into my mouth, and which I want to repeat unceasingly: ‘Eternal Father, look upon the divine Heart of Jesus which I offer to you to receive the wine of your justice, so that it may be changed for us into the wine of mercy’. He made me understand that, each time I made this offering, I would obtain a drop of this wine of divine anger, which, falling, as I said above, into the vessel of the sacred Heart of Jesus, would change into the liquor of mercy.

Waging War on the Communists

In 1847, the League of Communists was founded in London. Two of its members, Marx and Engels, received the mission to write the doctrinal manifesto that appeared in February 1848 under the title Manifesto of the Communist Party. On March 14, 1847, Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre wrote to her superior:

“Our Lord today, after Holy Communion, made me understand that the plagues we have been struck with were only the forerunners of those which His justice is preparing for us if His anger is not appeased, and He showed me the sins of blasphemy and the profanations of Sunday under the emblem of two pumps, with which the men who are guilty of these crimes draw the waters of His wrath over France and expose themselves to being submerged by them, if this work of reparation which He gives her in his mercy as a means of salvation is not established. Then He told me that the sectarians called Communists had only made one excursion: ‘Oh’! He added, –‘if you knew their secret and diabolical machinations, and their anti-Christian principles! They are only waiting for a favorable day to set fire to France. Ask, therefore, for the work of Reparation to whom it belongs, in order to obtain mercy.’”

• 29 March 1847:

Our Lord has entrusted me with a new mission which I would be afraid of if I were anything; but as I am nothing but a weak instrument in His powerful hand, I am perfectly at peace.

He commanded me to make war on the communists, whom He told me were the enemies of the Church and of His Christ, making me understand that these lion cubs were, for the most part, born in the Church whose cruel enemies they now declared themselves to be. Then He added: –‘I have made it known to you that I hold you in My hands like an arrow. Now I want to shoot this arrow at My enemies. I give you the weapons of My Passion to fight them: My cross, whose enemies they are, and the other instruments of My torture. Go to them with the simplicity of a child and the courage of a valiant soldier. Receive, for this mission, the blessing of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’. Then I prayed to the Blessed Virgin to be the custodian of these divine weapons, given to me by her dearest Son, who is compared to the Tower of David, from which hang a thousand shields. Our Lord gave me, on this subject, several other lights which it would not be easy for me to relate. “Lord,” I said, “train my hands for battle, and teach me to use your instruments.”

He said to me: ‘The weapons of My enemies give death, but Mine give life.’

How to Fight the Enemies of God

This is the prayer I often recite for this purpose: –Eternal Father, I offer you, against the camp of your enemies, the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ and all the instruments of His holy Passion, that You may put division between them; for, as Your beloved Son has said, every kingdom divided against itself will be destroyed [Mt. 12:25].

[…] Jesus gives me grace to draw my weapons; today, after Holy Communion, He encouraged me to fight, and He promised to give me a cross of honor, which, He told me, would open heaven for me, if I were faithful […]. But, Reverend Mother, after having fought the enemies of God with all my strength during these three days of feasting, I now feel almost contrition. I explain myself: it is because I fear having made imprecations against them.

I know that the holy King David does the same in his psalms (108, for example); but I do not know if I am allowed to do so. Finally, I have said everything that Our Lord, it seems to me, inspired me to say; if it is wrong, and I am mistaken, I will not do it again.

I will tell you that I begin by placing my soul in the hands of Our Lord; then I beg him to bend His bow and shoot His arrows at His enemies; then I fight them first by His cross and by the instruments of His Passion, as He taught me; then by the virtue of the most holy Name of God. And this is my concern for the imprecations, for if it is wrong, I have repeated these words a hundred times; but I had no intention of wishing harm to these criminal people; I am only angry at their malice and their passions; I only want to kill the old man in them. So this is what I say:

Let God arise, let His enemies be dispelled, and let all those who hate Him flee from His face.

May the name of the thrice holy God overturn all their plans.

May the sacred name of the living God divide all their feelings.

May the terrible name of the God of eternity destroy their impiety.

I say some more, and when I have thus beaten them well, I add:

I do not want the sinner to die, but to be converted and live. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” [Lk. 23:34]

I do these exercises without restraint of spirit and with great ease, because I let myself be led by the grace that guides me.

Small Catechism on the Spiritual Life – Part 2

Small Catechism on the Spiritual Life – Part 2

  by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

  (text in French published by Le Sel de La Terre)


Chapter III. Preparation and Reading

1. Are there different kinds of preparation for mental prayer?

The Carmelite authors distinguish often a double preparation:

* The near preparation by which the soul puts itself in the presence of God to start the intimate conversation with Him;

* The distant preparation by which the soul uses its powers to gather one’s thoughts before praying.

2. What is necessary for the soul to be disposed for prayer?

It is necessary for one not be absorbed excessively by creatures, and have a tendency to occupy oneself with God. To favor these dispositions there are two parts which constitute the distant preparation:

* The first is to remove obstacles: it’s “negative”;

* The second is destined to produce a quality: it’s “positive”.

3. What is the “negative” element of the distant preparation?

One must absolutely avoid the distractions and [disordered] attachments of the heart. In order to practice the love of God easily, a free heart is necessary. This means one must have a great detachment from creatures. Who wants to love much, must reserve for God the strength and tenderness of his affection, and not spread it to people and things who easily draw a heart which is not protected.

On the other hand, the freedom of spirit is not attained without great mortification of the senses which are open windows to terrestrial things, and the control of the memory which brings us into the world by the memories we have. So, the soul must avoid the useless thoughts. The heart and soul must be watched.

4. What is the positive element of the distant preparation?

It is the exercise of the presence of God that we will look for and to make it continuous as much as possible. By this holy exercise our thoughts and will are recollected in God, and we keep a certain contact with God, even in the middle of the most material occupations; and we converse with Him often in the day. Faithfulness to this practice creates in us a certain facility to speak with God as well as a certain ease to put us in a more intimate contact with Him: this is the near preparation.

5. What spiritual attitude helps the soul the most for this contact with God?

It is the attitude of humble confidence which puts us before God in the position which fits us best. God, in effect is our Father, and He wants that we act towards Him as destitute children. We will anchor in us the sentiment of our poverty by the memory of our numerous faults which bring to light our misery. Far from folding in on ourselves or becoming discouraged at the sight of our nothingness, we will look for refuge in the arms of Our Lord who said to us “Without Me you can do nothing” That’s why saint Teresa of Avila invites us to examine our conscience at the start of the mental prayer, to say the Confiteor, and then to look for the company of Jesus.

6. What is the most practical manner to put the soul in the presence of God?

Any manner to put oneself in the presence of God is useful for this aim, provided that a large application and intensity is used. There are however two manners especially indicated for mental prayer: 1) put oneself in the presence of Most Holy Eucharist (if we do mental prayer before the Blessed Sacrament) and, 2) recollect in one’s soul, keeping in mind the Three Divine Persons who live in the soul that is in the state of grace and offer themselves to the soul to be known and loved. To start this colloquia with (God present) we will remind the subject chosen in the reading.

7. At what moment must the reading be done?

Preferably, before going to mental prayer, meaning during the fifteen minutes granted for the preparation. If we cannot do it at that time, we could do it in the beginning. In some religious communities it is the custom to do a short reading out loud at the beginning of mental prayer.

8. Why is there common reading?

It has as its aim to offer a subject of meditation to those who do not have one. There is no obligation to use what is read. Ordinarily those who meditate come with a prepared subject by the private reading. But if at this moment that which is read draws us more than the chosen subject, we can change it with great liberty.

9. Must the reading serve to prepare a subject of meditation?

Such is the original destination, and it is that which has a larger goal — to instruct us in the spiritual things. The reading we speak about serves to supply us immediately with a Truth that we will penetrate by reflection, to draw a more profound conviction of the love of God for us. For those who no longer do mental prayer in the meditation form, but reach the level that St. Theresa calls “recollection” or to a way even higher, the reading no longer serves to choose a subject, but to recollect the soul in disposing it to sweetly taste to rest in God.

10. What books must we prefer to choose to do this reading?

It depends on the aim of the reading. When it concerns finding a subject of meditation, besides the books for meditation, all those that enlighten the many manifestations of the love of God for us, will be able to serve this aim. It will be, however, good to use books already known. When the aim is to recollect oneself only, any writing which inspires an intense love of God will be useful. The works of the Saints belong to this category. The choice of the book is determined by the immediate aim of the reading, but the culture and spiritual age of the person will have to be considered in this choice. Books too intellectual or spiritual will not be well understood, and necessarily cause dryness.

11. Can the lives of the Saints be read?

These lives are not excluded, especially because many souls are touched by the example of the Saints who have lived the spiritual doctrine, than by explaining it speculatively. However, we must not read them to satisfy our curiosity and not to prolong unnecessarily our reading. Also, it is fitting to not read them as preparation for meditation, a “new” life, because it greatly excites the imagination. It would be better to read a summary of a saint already known.

12. How must we read?

We must read with attention, since the aim of the reading is to find a subject of conversation with God. It is necessary to read it carefully, to not let any light escape us. It will be read with devotion and recollection because this good disposition of the heart favors in us the seeking of something useful for the soul, making us attentive and sensible to good ideas. We will be able to foresee more easily and prepare in some way the affections that we want to express and the resolution to be taken. All of it without binding us too much, because the aim of the reading is simply to help us according to our needs. Let us add a last remark: if it is done in common before the mental prayer, the reading must be short so as not to annoy those who do not use it ‑ and they are many.

13. Can we take again our book during mental prayer?

It is not excluded and can even be indicated in particular occasions. St. Theresa never went to mental prayer without a book with her. It will happen sometimes that we will find ourselves so distracted that the most practical manner to return to God will be to gain another good thought by reading again. Also, when in mental prayer and in the company of God, our affection becomes difficult by tiredness. It is often good to read again our theme of mental prayer. It is an exterior aid for our attention. One must be careful not to turn it into a simple reading. It must remain at least a meditative reading in which we stop to allow affections and resolutions to enter. So, the reading itself becomes an instrument of our conversation with God.

Chapter IV. Meditation and Colloquia

1. Is the meditation always explained in the same way by the Carmelite authors?

The Carmelite authors have some differences in their explanation of the meditation, but all are in agreement on the essential. Some do not explain the different parts; some others make a distinction between the meditative reflection and the affectionate colloquia which is the aim of the reflection, which they call contemplation. Others separate in the meditative part the representation and the reflection. Those who do not classify explicitly these diverse elements refer more or less to them.

Most of the Carmelite authors distinguish three elements in the meditation:

* The representation as an act of the imagination,

* The reflection as an act of the intelligence,

* And the colloquia as an act of the will.

2. What is the representation?

It is an activity of the imagination by which we form: 1) an image or representation of the mystery we want to meditate on, or 2) sensible objects which lift our thoughts to God.

3. What is the usefulness of the representation?

The aim is to render easier the work of reflection which leans on natural representations of the imagination. It is easy to think of the scourging [of Our Lord] before an image. It offers the advantage to fix in some way our thoughts which, without an object to look at, easily digresses. A certain stability of imaginative knowledge helps our intellectual knowledge to have fewer distractions.

4. Is the representation always necessary?

The same authors do not insist on its necessity in mental prayer, but they explain to us in what way it can be useful. Its usefulness is evident when we consider the life of Jesus Christ or of the Saints. Even in the consideration of the most abstract mysteries, for example the Divine attributes, the intelligence can start by thinking of sensible things represented by the imagination. It is also praiseworthy to elevate ourselves from the beauty of nature to God, Supreme Beauty. The Carmelite Theologians distinguish different cases one can find himself in, when he meditates. Some have a lively imagination easily able to represent the mystery, others are almost unable to do it. The former should use their faculty of representation, the others should know that it is not an exercise at all cost. To be useful, the imaginative representations must not be very perfect, a vague representation is enough.

5. In what way must the representation be formed?

1) One must apply oneself to it, otherwise nothing serious will be done. But it is not fitting to excite the imagination too much in order to see what we are meditating on too quickly. Those who have an especially lively imagination will try to proceed with a great simplicity because, otherwise, the imagination would be led to illusion and make them believe that they are having visions.

2). As to those who look at the perfection of the representation, the details should not be too precise. The Carmelite authors have equally said that a representation schema can be enough for someone with little imagination. A representation that is more precise is more useful because it fixes more easily our thoughts. The Carmelite authors never speak of the application of the senses.

3) It is not necessary to consecrate much time to form the representation. Some instants are enough, but it is necessary that we have it present during the whole time of meditation. If we can do it, we will find it easier to avoid distractions.

Let us conclude in saying that, without being absolutely necessary, the representation is often useful and those who succeed, must not deprive themselves of this help. Those who, on the other hand, find it difficult, can omit it, and start directly the reflection.

6. Is the reflection or consideration more important?

Reflection is the first of the elements that directly make the meditation, which consists in a certain work of the intelligence. This must remain secondary in comparison with the affectionate conversation with God, which must find in the meditation the stimulating base.

7. Must this work of the intelligence remain a long time?

Its subordination to the affectionate conversation indicates that it must only last as long as necessary to lead the soul to this conversation, meaning until it produces in the soul a profound conviction that it is loved by God and invited to love Him in return. We would however be in error if we believed that we had to interrupt or put to the side the reflection as soon as we feel some pious affection which would suddenly vanish leaving us empty. We must on the contrary insist and continue until the will is completely stable and can remain at least some time in the affectionate attitude.

8. Must the reflection be done methodically?

It can be. St. Theresa following in it other contemporary authors, advices, in the meditation of the Passion of Our Lord, to consider who suffers, what does He suffer, why, with which dispositions? It is not however necessary that there is such a rigorous order in the order of the arguments and one can think without harm to go freely from one thought to the next, provided that it leads to the goal proposed to better understand the love of God for us which is manifested in the mystery meditated on.

9. What will the souls who “cannot meditate” do?

For souls who, because of a certain mobility of the imagination and of thought, have great difficulty stopping at a determined idea to go deeper by deep reflections, St. Theresa teaches another way to excite thoughts which excite love. This method consists in reciting slowly a vocal prayer full of substance stopping to consider with attention the sense of the words and taking the opportunity to form some reflections and express affections.

10. When does the affectionate colloquia start?

It starts when the soul has the strong conviction that it must answer wilt love for the love God gives to it. It all depends on how easy it is for the soul to put itself in this necessary disposition. It is acquired by practice.

11. What is said in the colloquia?

The soul expresses especially to God its will to love Him and show Him its love, taking the motive of its purpose in a particular mystery. It can be done in many different ways and the colloquia will be done in many ways as well. The soul can express its love not only to the Holy Trinity, but also to Jesus. It is also praiseworthy to speak affectionately to the Saints.

12. In what way is the colloquia done?

It can be done in many different ways. We can express our affection with words pronounced vocally, but we can also do it with interior expressions of the heart or will. These expressions can be short and happen with a certain frequency, or be prolonged for some time, saying them at longer intervals. The soul also can be happy only keeping company with God [without any expression].

13. Must the conversation be continuous?

We can answer yes in the way that the soul must remain in conversation with God, but no in the manner of “speaking” continuously. Also the Carmelite authors teach expressly that the conversation done by the soul must not be too long or agitated, but peaceful and many times interrupted, as to permit the soul to listen to God’s answer.

14. Does God speak in the colloquia?

If we were the only one to speak, it would not be a colloquia. On the other hand St. Theresa taught that God speaks to the soul when it prays with all its heart. One must not believe that God is heard in a material way. He answers the soul in sending it graces of light and love by which the soul understands better the ways of God and feels greatly inflamed to follow them with generosity. Listening consists in, for the soul, to accept these graces, and thinking how to look for profit.

15. Why is the colloquia called “contemplation”?

Because, when the soul speaks with God and listens, the soul stops reasoning as it did in meditation and now is happy to pay attention in a general way to the mystery better understood because of the meditation. Or even the soul looks simply at God the Father, or Son with Whom it speaks. In this simple look is realized the traditional notion of contemplation ( a simple look which penetrates the Truth). And as in the colloquia, God communicates to the soul His light. Under this aspect is realized in some way which is more fully the essence of the true contemplation: an infusion of heavenly light.

16. How long can this colloquia last?

There is no limit. It can occupy the whole time of mental prayer. Even more, the simplification of mental prayer consists to make the reflections shorter, to give more time to affections and to give them, little by little, a calmer form by prolonged acts. It is not easy for the soul in the beginning to stop from time to time to express its love. This is why we can have recourse to the last acts of mental prayer: thanksgiving, offering and asking.

17. Why do we need to thank God?

Many reasons push the soul to express its gratitude to God. We have received much from Him either in the natural or supernatural order: to be born of Catholic parents and to have been baptized without delay, to have been raised in the True Religion, and especially to have been given a vocation; so many free gifts from God for which we cannot thank Him enough. And also how many graces God surrounds us with, without stopping. Even the exercise of mental prayer is a call to Him to penetrate further into us. We must show ourselves grateful to these favors. Let us add to that the goodness of God towards those for whom we show an interest for: our friends, benefactors, those confided to our care. We can thank not only God but also the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints for their intercession in our favor.

18. What can we offer to God?

Having received all from God, it is praiseworthy on our part to offer ourselves to Him, wanting to use all our strength for His service. As our holy profession is a consecration of our whole life to God 1, we will be able to renew it. We should not be satisfied with general offerings which, because of their vagueness, do not exercise a large influence on our way of acting. It is good to take a particular resolution and to offer to God our will to practice such a virtue or to fight generously against a temptation or to willingly accept a trail of suffering. By these firm resolutions we put our mental prayer in contact with our daily life; this is why it is good for all to finish with a particular resolution even if an offering has not been done.

19. Whom must we pray for?

Our large spiritual destitution forces us to have recourse continually to prayer. After having told that “without Me you can do nothing”, Our Lord added, “ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened to you.” Our spiritual progress depends extremely on the prayers that we will say with confidence and insistence.

We must pray for others: for their temporal and spiritual needs and especially for their sanctification and salvation.

We will have an interest in not only souls in particular but also our country, Religious Orders, our Spiritual Family, and Holy Church.

Knowing that the souls dear to Our Lord are more powerful on His Heart, desirous to obtain much from Him, we will try to make ourselves agreeable to His Majesty by a life detached from the world and oriented only to the research of intimateness with Him. In this way one will realize the ideal proposed by St. Theresa to her daughters: to become an intimate friend of God who uses this intimateness to make His Divine Graces overflow on this world.

(To be continued)

1 ‑ He is speaking here to religious.

Abp Vigano on Fatima Day: Supplication to the Most Holy Virgin Mary

Abp Vigano on Fatima Day:

Supplication to the Most Holy Virgin Mary

August Lady and Queen of Heaven, turn your gaze upon us Your children in this hour of darkness and affliction. Do not disdain to hear and answer our humble and confident prayer, at a moment when the forces of the Enemy are multiplying their infernal assault against God, His Church, and the human family.

You who are the model and example of humility and obedience to the will of God, enlighten our rulers, so that they may remember that the authority they exercise comes from the Lord, and that they will have to answer to Him, the Just Judge, for both the good they have not done as well as the evil they have committed. You who are the Virgin Most Faithful, teach those who administer public affairs to honor the moral obligations of their office, refusing any connivance with vice and error.

You who by your intercession before the Throne of God heal the evils of soul and body and are rightly invoked as Health of the Sick, guide doctors and health care workers in their profession. Help them to care for the sick and to give assistance to the weakest among us. Give them the courage to oppose those who would force them to cause death or illness with inappropriate treatments or harmful drugs. Invoke the Divine Physician of our souls, Our Lord Jesus Christ, asking Him to awaken in their conscience an awareness of their role and their duty to promote the life and health of the body.

You who during the Flight into Egypt saved Your Divine Son from the massacre of Herod, deliver our children from the moral and spiritual threats that loom over them. Protect our little ones from the true pestilence of sin and vice, and from the criminal plans of the ideological dictatorship that wants to strike them in body and spirit. Strengthen parents and educators to oppose the experimental use of a dangerous and morally illicit drug on our children. Thwart the attacks of those who assault their innocence, trying to pervert them from an early age by corrupting their morals and warping their intellect.

You who were consoled by the presence of Your Son in your passage to eternal life, be close to the sick, the elderly, and the dying, especially those who, due to inhuman regulations, face death alone in a hospital bed, deprived of the Sacraments. Bring them comfort. Inspire in them repentance for the sins they have committed and the desire to offer their sufferings in reparation for these sins, so that they may close their eyes with the consolation of the friendship of God.

You who are called Mother of the Priesthood, enlighten our Shepherds. Open their eyes to see the present threat. Make them consistent witnesses to Christ Your Son, courageous defenders of the flock that the Lord has entrusted to them, and valiant opponents of error and vice. Shake off from them, Virgin Most Holy, all human respect and all connivance with sin. Inflame them with love for God and their neighbor, enlighten their minds, and strengthen their will.

You before whom all the demons of Hell take flight, defeat the diabolical plans of this hateful tyranny, the deception of the pandemic, the lie of the workers of iniquity. Make the light of Truth shine upon the lie, just as the true light of Christ shines upon the darkness of error and sin. Confuse Your enemies and humiliate under Your Foot the proud head of those who dare to challenge Heaven and want to establish the Reign of Antichrist.

You who by divine decree are Mediatrix of All Graces and Our Co-Redemptrix, obtain for us the grace of seeing the triumph of Your Immaculate Heart, to which we consecrate ourselves, our families, our communities, the Holy Church, our Homeland, and the whole world.

So may it be.

Thursday May 13, 2021

In Ascensione Domini

In apparitione B.M.V. Immaculatae

In a World Falling Apart

In a World Falling Apart

  Editorial of Le Sel de la Terre 4

  (Spring 1993)

  Published again on our French Website in April 2020

We hear from various places that the world is going to experience a serious crisis soon. For those who have read and meditated a bit on the Apocalypse, there is no reason to be surprised. The world has abandoned God; God will leave the world to fend for itself…

Pope Pius XII said that our world had to be remade right down to its foundations 1. If the world collapses in front of us, we must be able to offer it a solid foundations for recovery. In other words, it is essential to reflect seriously on the principles of the temporal and supernatural orders. One does not hold up a building about to fall by restoring its facade.

Only the Catholic Church has the remedy for this great crisis that threatens us. This remedy is Our Lord Jesus Christ and His divine grace, “gratia sanans et elevans 1”. Only He can heal human nature broken by original sin. He is the only salvation for individuals and institutions, as Pope Pius X said:

No! It must be energetically recalled in these times of social and intellectual anarchy where everyone poses as a doctor and a legislator; we will not build the city otherwise than how God built it; society will not be rebuilt if the Church does not lay the foundations and direct its work. No! Civilization is no longer to be invented, nor is the new city to be built in the clouds. It was, it is: it is Christian civilization; it is the Catholic city. It is only a question of unceasingly establishing and restoring it on its natural and divine foundations against the ever-reappearing attacks of an unhealthy utopia, revolt, and impiety: omnia instaurare in Christo1.”

But who today is going to give us these principles of the natural and Christian orders, these natural and divine foundations as Saint Pius X says? Unfortunately, we should not expect them from the current Roman authorities. Let us quote cardinal Ratzinger:

It would be absurd to want to go backwards, to return to a system of political Christianity. But it is true that we have a responsibility in this world and wish to bring our contribution as Catholics to it. We do not want to impose Catholicism on the West, but we want the fundamental values of Christianity and the dominant liberal values in the world today to be able to meet and enrich each other 1.”

It couldn’t be clearer: the Conciliar Church made the principles of liberalism its own, and we would vainly ask for the principles of a Christian social order.

We have to look for these principles in the Common Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas, as Pope Pius XI taught:

Since he is the perfect theologian, as we said, he gives certain rules and precepts of life not only for individuals, but also for the family and civil society, which is the object of domestic and political morals. Hence, these magnificent chapters found in the second part of the Summa Theologica on the paternal or domestic regime and legitimate power in the city or the nation; the natural law and international law; peace and war; justice and property; laws and obedience; the duty to watch over the good of individuals and public prosperity, both in the supernatural and natural orders. If, in particular and public affairs and in international relations, these precepts were religiously and inviolably observed, they would suffice to establish among men that “peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ” that the entire world so ardently desires. We must therefore hope that one studies more and more the teachings of Aquinas on the law of nations and the laws which govern the mutual relations of nations, because these teachings contain the foundations of a true League of Nations, as we say today 1.”

While the Freemason takes in hand his square and compass to build a New World Order, a modern Tower of Babel, we must study, in the infallible doctrine of the Popes before Vatican II, and in the works of saint Thomas Aquinas, the immutable principles capable of guiding those who want to rebuild a Christian world.

Thus, there is no question of being discouraged by the heap of ruins and the seemingly insurmountable difficulties that stand before us! This is not a time for discouragement, but for work. Humble and obscure work perhaps, but deep, tenacious work, offered in homage to the Holy Trinity, from Whom we know that success will come on the day that He, in His eternal Wisdom, has set.

A Model Catholic Wife and Mother: Anna-Maria Taïgi

A Model Catholic Wife and Mother:

Anna-Maria Taïgi (1769-1837)

  By Dom Bernard Maréchaux, O.S.B.

  Published in Le Sel de la terre 62, Autumn 2007

Anne Marie Taigi is known above all for the mysterious sun by which God gave her to see contemporary events, especially freemasonic intrigues. In a Rome victimized by subversion, she would warn the pope (for example, when the Carbonari 1 wanted to assassinate him) or particular cardinals that they should avoid this or that visit or outing. Consulted by Msgr. Natali concerning the audiences that Leo XII (1823-1829) was to grant, she would respond with confidence: “You may receive such a one; but stay away from this other; and be on guard about this one,” etc. Miraculously instructed concerning the dangers that were threatening the Church, she gave valuable counsels to Gregory XVI (who condemned the first manifestation of “liberal Catholicism.”)

But the marvelous must not hide the most important: it is particularly through her conversion and life as a wife and mother of a family that Our Lord has established Anna-Maria Taigi as a model for others. (“I have destined you to be known to the entire world as an example of penance and as the model for married women.”) We will thus accord particular attention to these two features of Anna-Maria in the essay which follows 2.

All those who must speak about God to their children or neighbors can ask Anna Maria Taïgi for this grace, because her husband described her talent as follows: “She spoke of God without becoming wearisome.”

Birth and Early Life

Anna Maria was born in Siena (which is in the region of Tuscany, Italy) on May 29, 1769. She was baptized the very next day with the names Anna-Maria Antonia Gesualda. Her father, Luigi Giannetti Masi, was a pharmacist. He fell into complete financial ruin when Anna-Maria was only six years old, and so relocated his family to Rome, where he and his wife were taken on as domestic servants in well-to-do homes. Their journey (on foot) advanced very slowly, and it was thus that Anna-Maria found herself from early childhood carried along by what a poet might call “the sorrowful wind of poverty (il vento doloroso delle poverta)”

Born in Siena, Anna-Maria Taïgi can be associated with the group of Siena mystics, especially the virgin St. Catherine. She is not unworthy to be compared with the saint by the greatness of her sanctity, the heroism of her martyrdom of love, by the supernatural gifts with which she was clothed, or by her role as a victim and mediator before the Roman Court and sovereign pontiffs in Rome where she lived and died, as did St. Catherine. The same Siennese blood, renamed by its sweetness “sangue dolce” (the expression of St. Catherine) coursed in both women’s veins; the same impassioned love of Christ embraced the hearts of the virgin and this humble woman.

The parents of Anna-Maria were Catholics. Once arrived in Rome, they placed their child with religious sisters, who prepared her for her first Holy Communion and Confirmation, and then had her apprenticed with honest women to learn domestic tasks. She then became a housemaid where she was exposed to the greatest of worldly dangers, but God protected her naiveté. Her intelligence and vivacity were hardly ordinary, and vanity and love of adornments occupied the thoughts of her young head. She did not have bad intentions, but who knows where this dangerous path might have led?

But Domenico Taigi, a domestic at the princely home of the Chigis, asked her hand in marriage – and she agreed. He was a man without much refinement, but an honest and a serious Catholic. Anna-Maria was 21 years old when the two were married.


After her marriage, Anna-Maria continued for a little while with her life of entertainments and worldliness. This was pleasing to her husband who was proud of his young, elegant and well placed wife, but displeasing to God who put an inexpressible disquiet in her soul even though she did not deviate from her duties. Our Lord had designs of lofty and eternal mercy on Anna-Maria, and so on the designated day, the divine hunter of souls captured her in His net with a beautiful blend of authority and extreme sweetness.

The following is an account of Anna-Maria’s conversion as stated in the official proceedings of her beatification:

Anna-Maria went to Saint Peter’s in worldly attire. A Servite religious, Father Angelo (Verandi), upon meeting her, heard a heavenly voice: “Take good notice of this woman. I will confide her to your care, and you will work for her transformation. She will sanctify herself, for I have chosen her to become a saint.” In effect, Anna-Maria, not able to resist the disquiet in her heart, had resolved to go to confession and change her life.

She entered Saint Peter’s and drawing near to a confessional said to the confessor who was in it, “Behold at your feet a poor sinner.” The confessor dismissed her with harshness saying “Go! You are not my penitent.” This response discouraged the poor woman and she made an incomplete confession. Although she left troubled, she made the resolution to entirely renounce for God all her vanities and the resulting offenses.

But she wanted to have recourse to the Sacrament of Penance again, and so this time she went to church of St. Marcellus. Upon entering, she saw a priest in the confessional and without knowing who he was, she took her place in the confession line. It was again Father Angelo, and he recognized her. When it was her turn in the confessional he said to her with graciousness, “You have finally fallen into my hands.” He told her of the words that he had heard in Saint Peter’s, and encouraged her with a great charity and evangelical sweetness to make a full conversion.

Anna-Maria did not hesitate henceforward to give herself totally to God; with the consent of her husband, she divested herself of all her worldly attire and clothed herself in a simple, coarse dress. She embraced with ardor the most extraordinary penances, such that her confessor had to moderate what she was doing. She wept torrents of tears over her faults; hair shirts, disciplines, fasting and other mortification became her delight. So as to create a barrier between herself and the world she asked her husband for permission to wear the habit of the Third Order of the Most Holy Trinity. Domenico agreed 3, but on the condition that she not neglect any of her duties as a wife and mother; and in fact she did remain wholly faithful.

So now we have seen the account of our Blessed’s conversion. At this point there is an observation that we believe to be well founded: the crisis of vanity is crucial for women. At a decisive moment, every woman must answer the question whether to choose the world with its vain “joys,” or Jesus crucified with the renouncements that this entails. If, at the feet of her crucifix, she sacrifices her taste for vain adornments, she will walk with great strides along the Christian path, even to the highest summits. If, however, she imagines an impossible union between God and the world, she will be restless in her conscience, peace will elude her, the Sacraments will lose their savor, she will be exposed to illusion and sin, and even her salvation in peril.

Anna-Maria gave herself to God with a complete generosity, trampling on the vain attractions of this world. From the very start, she rivaled the most experienced of saints.

Thirst for Penance

The thirst for penance of this humble woman was insatiable. She pursued it in everything, allowing nature no comfort or respite.

The instruments of penance that were used in cloisters were familiar to her, but she subordinated their use to the judgments of her confessor – upon whom she depended in all things, knowing that nothing has value in the spiritual life except through obedience.

But a mortified soul is able to mortify itself in everything it does. Serving at table for her husband and children, Anna-Maria reserved for herself the scraps – and even food that was spoiled. When the weather was very hot, she drank very little or not at all. (And to endure the torment of thirst in Rome is a penance worse than the pain of hair shirts or iron chains!) Sometimes one of her children would notice that her lips were not wet on her glass, and would cry out: “Papa, mama is not drinking!” And then at the directive from her husband, Anna-Maria would drink a little bit.

She arranged things so that she could undertake what can be called the “Roman devotions.” This was not only the Scala Sancta (quite well known to Roman pilgrims) where she climbed these special steps on her knees, but also the great stone staircase of the Ara-Coeli. Anna-Maria would visit the various crucifixes that were venerated in the churches of Rome, notably that which was in St. Paul Outside the Walls. She made the tour of “Seven Basilicas,” which was a long journey under a hot sun and a midst waves of dust. Upon entering the doors of St. Paul’s, she would remove her shoes and not put them back on until she returned into the city. The way of the cross at the Coliseum was also quite familiar to her. Those who have undertaken such penitential practices will appreciate these heroic mortifications of the servant of God.

All of these devotions were only a portion of the penances that she undertook. Can you see her with her face prostrate and touching the ground, shedding tears and sobbing? Anna-Maria thus lamented her sins. See how she afflicted herself! She would strike her head and face on the ground to the point of bleeding from her mouth. This is similar to what St. Francis of Rome would do: for an idle word she would strike her mouth with blows of her fist until blood flowed. Such penances were forbidden to Anna-Maria, but what a penitential spirit did she not manifest as she chastised herself in so many ways!

The saints display a strong realization of the magnitude of sin. Is it the same with us?

Mother of a Family

It is important to recognize that the foundation of Anna-Maria’s great sanctity was her constant and unceasing carrying out of her daily duties as wife and mother, all elevated by her great love of God.

Concerning all this, we have the testimony of her husband Domenico Taigi from her process of beatification. A good Catholic, and a man of duty, Domenico knew nothing of mystical states. While Anna-Maria was often carried away in ecstasies (in spite of herself) by the strong power of the Spirit of Our Lord, Domenico thought that she suffered from some kind of sleeping sickness. Later, of course, he recognized such things as actions of God.

He was, moreover, aware of the great virtue of his wife and presented a testimony that reveals a profound emotion. He knew that she was very humble, sweet and patient; that she displayed a true spirit of religion, a great modesty in her conduct, and such wisdom and mastery of herself such that he could not but admire her without reserve.

Anna-Maria had seven children, four boys and three girls: Camillo, Alessandro, Luigi, Pietro, Aria, Sofia and Margharita. Three died at a young age. Only two daughters outlived their mother: Maria who never married and Sofia who became a widow with six children. Camillo had died at 42 years of age, and Alessandro at 35.

Domenico related that his saintly wife suspended her mortifications during all of her pregnancies, and took every precaution required of human prudence. She nursed all of her children and said that she could not understand how any mother could be indifferent to this duty. She formed her children in the ways of prayer; she taught them the first elements of religion.

She watched over the modesty of her little children with an extreme attention. Not only did the children have separate beds, but the beds all had curtains.

She never failed in her duty to correct her children, and she would not endure any fits of passion. She did not allow her children to be hit upon the head.

She neglected nothing so that her beloved little ones would have a solid religious instruction; she saw to it that her young daughters received Holy Communion every week, and her sons three times per month. These were the maximums allowed during the time period when Anna-Maria lived.

We also see that on one occasion Anna-Maria imposed a fast upon one of her not-so-young daughters for a fault that she had committed. This was not a very ordinary punishment!

Patience for Any Trial

Testimony concerning Domenico Taigi by his daughter Sofia:

My father was pious and serious as much as could be desired, but with a fiery, demanding temperament that was both arrogant and extravagant – which was quite a marvel. Upon returning home, he would whistle or knock. We had to thus run to let him in, at the risk of hurting ourselves. In fact, on two occasions my sister Mariuccia fell to the ground due to dashing too quickly, and one of these times she was holding our 5-month old baby sister in her arms. If he (Domenico) did not find everything to his liking he flew into a rage even to the point of seizing the tablecloth off of the dinner table and throwing everything in the air even though our meal was fully set out! Everything had to be ready at the precise moment, the soup had to be hot in the serving bowl, and the chairs in place. The same requirements he demanded for his clothing and for everything.”

Nevertheless, Domenico gave the following witness concerning his wife:

“I lived with this blessed soul for about 48 years. There was never a word of disgust, nor any contention. We lived in a continual peace like paradise. Her great tact was such that there was never any serious conflict between us. She knew how to charitably reprimand, and I owe to her the correction of several of my faults. She made her admonitions with an incomparable charity. All of her ways were of such a charm that they irresistibly compelled everyone to please her for the good of the family…

If she saw that someone was troubled or upset she would say nothing. She would wait until the person was calm and then with all humility and sweetness she would help the person to reflect. And while such altercations were rare, my poor wife was so prudent that as soon as she perceived any conflict, whether it was a matter of an old mother or a daughter-in-law, she hastened to defuse the dispute with a magnanimity that established a greater peace and harmony than had been there previously.”

(To be continued)

1 — Masonic sect.

2 — This essay was published in 1924 at Mesnil-Saint-Loup (France) under the title “Blessed Anna-Maria Taïgi of Rome, Mother of a Family.” Dom Maréchaux introduced this work with the following: “I have drawn everything I have written here from the most authentic sources, namely from the depositions given under oath for the beatification of Anna-Maria, large portions of which were published in the collection entitled Analecta Juris Pontificii (54th, 60th and 62nd editions).”

3 — The permission Anna-Maria received to dress with an austere simplicity, and then to adopt the religious habit of the Third Order Trinitarians, is worthy of a special comment. Domenico liked it that his wife was elegant, but then he consented to have his wife appear almost as an indigent. Is this not an indication that the love of adornment comes from the woman and that she is responsible for it, although she may hide behind the (false) idea that it is her husband who wants it?

The Agony of Our Lord in the Garden (By Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P.)

The Agony of Our Lord in the Garden

By Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P.

Then Jesus came with His disciples into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and said to them: Sit you here till I go yonder and pray; and taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to grow sorrowful and to be sad.  Then He said to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here, and watch with Me.—Matt, xxvii. 36.

WE NOW COME TO THE SCHOOL OF JESUS CRUCIFIED.  We come now to study in the book of His sacred Passion.  It was in this blessed book that God’s greatest servants learned their most salutary lessons; for here they found the most saving truths, the most sublime wisdom. In this school, for nearly two thousand years, heroic souls have been trained to fight on the world’s great battlefield in the cause of the Master:

— Here, weak women and tender virgins have become strong and brave: and triumphing gloriously over their enemies, have won for themselves imperishable crowns.

— Here have been formed valiant soldiers, noble generals, leaders in the army of God.

— Here theologians have acquired their profoundest knowledge of Christian mysteries: and have drunk, as from an unfailing fountain, the greatest truths of mystical theology.  The Teacher is our Lord Jesus Christ, and He gives us His first lesson in the Garden of Gethsemani.

It is the First Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary.

St. Alphonsus Liguori asks: “Who can deny that, of all devotions, the devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ is the most useful, the most tender, and the most pleasing to God?  It affords the greatest consolation to sinners, and is the most powerful means of enkindling in the heart an ardent love for God.”

From the Passion and death of Our Lord, all graces and blessings have come to us.  Through its serious and prayerful consideration we are brought face to face with the manifestation of God’s infinite love for us.  We behold in His mangled body the indisputable proof of that love, as well as the evidence of the enormity of our sins, which required so great an atonement.  At the foot of the cross, the worst of sinners can find mercy.  There they can obtain the grace of true contrition, without which reconciliation with God were impossible.  There they are strengthened in their resolutions to suffer all things, even death itself, rather than again crucify the Son of God by returning to their sins.  The cross of their Redeemer is their shelter, their protection, their chief ground of confidence, their glory.  St. Paul, that ardent lover of Jesus Christ, cried out: “God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.”

In the institution of the Blessed Sacrament, on the night before His Passion, Our Lord gave us the final and most tender proof of His love.  Then it was that He raised His beloved disciples to the sublime dignity of the priesthood, and commanded them to offer the adorable sacrifice of the Mass.  Then it was that He fed them with the Bread of Heaven, to support them through the trial which awaited them.

After the conclusion of that solemn and touching ceremony, He went forth from the supper chamber with His disciples, and passing over the Valley of Josaphat, and the brook Cedron, ascended the mountainside leading to the Garden of Gethsemani.

Bidding the rest of the disciples to wait, He took with Him Peter, James, and John, and entered the depths of Gethsemani, there to prepare Himself for the sacrifice.  And presently, fear and sadness came upon Him, and He began to be exceedingly sorrowful.  Withdrawing even from the three whom He had chosen, He went a little farther into the shadow of the garden, and falling upon His face, prayed: “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Mt 26, 39).

There is a mystery in this abyss of agonizing grief so deep that God alone can fathom it.  From eternity Christ knew, as God, all that would happen in time; and as man He had seen clearly from the moment of His Incarnation the price He would pay for our Redemption; and yet, notwithstanding this clear prevision of His suffering, it was only in the Garden of Gethsemani that, by an act of His divine will, the floodgates of fear and sorrow opened and overwhelmed His soul.

As God, He was able to lay down His life and take it up again.

As man, He was prepared to take upon Himself the crimes of a sinful world, and, so laden, to offer Himself as an atoning Victim to the inexorable justice of His heavenly Father.  This is what was meant by the chalice which was prepared for Him, and which He was to drink to its very dregs.  And what a bitter, revolting chalice this was!  It contained the sins of the whole human race, from the beginning until the end of time—all the murders, all the impurities, the sacrileges, the blasphemies, all the idolatries and outrages that ever had been offered, all that ever would be offered to His eternal Father! And for all, He, the innocent Lamb of God, must make atonement!  He was to assume the sins of all humanity—to suffer as if He alone were guilty!  As St. Paul says: “He put on iniquity as a garment,” since He, who is Infinite Sanctity, saw Himself enveloped, defiled, as it were, with the corruption of the whole human race.  Thus covered with our crimes, He presented Himself in fear and trembling before the justice of His heavenly Father.  No wonder that His soul was sorrowful even unto death!  No wonder that He fell into an agony so frightful that the precious Blood oozed from every pore of His body, and ran in great drops to the ground!

Christ’s virginal human nature endured in anticipation all the shame and suffering of His Passion—the betrayal by Judas, the blows, the insults, the abandonment by His trusted disciples, the scourging, the crowning with thorns, the reviling and rejection by His ungrateful people, the painful journey to Calvary, the cruel crucifixion, with its prolonged and unspeakable torments-all were present to Him.

In those hours of agonizing prevision were condensed all the sufferings of His many martyrs and confessors, including the dolors of His Blessed Mother, all the heartfelt contrition ever felt by poor penitents for their sins.

Added to this was the torturing knowledge that countless souls would be lost, notwithstanding all the excruciating anguish that He was about to endure for their salvation.  His soul was torn with unspeakable grief: and a conflict raged between His higher and His lower nature, the one urging Him to accomplish the will of His Father, the other “rebelling” against the extremity of complete satisfaction demanded by the divine justice.  This conflict enables us to understand that agonizing, oft-repeated prayer: “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me.”  But the bitter cup was not destined to pass; both Father and Son had willed that it should be drained to the dregs.  Perhaps the most grievous element in that draught, and the one which weighed most heavily upon the desolate heart of Our Lord, was the withdrawal of all the supporting consolations of the Godhead.  Apparently deserted by His Father, His afflicted humanity was left to struggle unaided with the besetting powers of darkness. […]

It was then, in Gethsemani’s hour of desolation and abandonment, that Jesus sought consolation from His disciples.  He, the Comforter of the afflicted, sought the help of His creatures! His lonely, overburdened heart yearned for their sympathy.

But He found them asleep, unmindful of all that He had done for them, and of what He was then enduring for the love of them.  Alas, how little can we rely upon human comfort in the hour of affliction!  Finding the chosen three asleep (“for their eyes were heavy” says the text), Our Lord returned again to His solitary prayer; thus teaching us that when our souls are plunged in an abyss of sorrow and suffering, we must look to God alone for relief and strength.

The Evangelist tells us that an angel now descended from Heaven to comfort our desolate Lord; and that, through that heavenly visitation, His sacred humanity was invigorated and His courage renewed to continue the dreadful conflict.  Ascetic writers still further inform us that:

— the angel represented to the Redeemer the infinite glory which would be given to the Father by His sufferings and death.  He placed before Him the countless multitudes who would glorify His mercy forever in heaven;

— he reminded Him that even the lost would be forced to glorify the divine justice throughout all eternity.

Let us in like manner, when we stand face to face with some supreme trial, remember the words of saint Paul: “The sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come.”

It was through suffering that God’s most illustrious servants attained their highest perfection.  The Way of the Cross is the way of salvation, and the humble resignation of our souls into the hands of God in the time of affliction will not only obtain for us strength to drink the chalice even to its dregs, but increase our merits in the kingdom of Heaven.  Let us learn from Our Lord submissively to accept whatever our heavenly Father may send us, whether it be mental suffering, physical pain, loss of property, the betrayal of friends, the tarnishing of our good name through the breath of calumny,— whatever it be, let us cry, ” Lord, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me”; but let us also add, after the example of Our Lord, in meek resignation, “Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.”  God knows what is best for our purification and sanctification.  He will lead us to everlasting life, if we but follow Him in confidence and holy patience.

There is one lesson especially that Our Lord would teach us by His prayer in the Garden.  It is humble perseverance in the same petition.  Here we have divine warrant for repeating so often the “Hail Mary” and the “Holy Mary” in the Rosary.  The Evangelist tells us that Our Lord repeated the selfsame words, again and again: “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me.”  Let us then persevere in our petitions, continually making known our needs, whether temporal or spiritual, to our heavenly Father.  It is His wish that we should continue to importune Him, not that He may know our wants, but that we may pay Him the homage of prayer which is His due, and acknowledge that all blessings must come to us through His adorable hands.

There are many instances of the reward of perseverance in prayer:

* The following was told the author by a priest who (for several years) had been his companion on the missions.  “My mother,” he said, “was a Catholic, but was unfortunately married out of the Church. My father was a bigoted Protestant, and soon after her marriage he forbade her the practice of her religion.  She consulted her confessor, and he enjoined on her as a penance to recite every day a third part of the Rosary for her husband’s conversion.  Further, he counseled her to bear patiently with her trials, and faithfully persevere in practicing her religion, no matter what she might have to suffer for it.”  Years passed on with this worthy woman, and as her children were born to her, she carried them by stealth to her saintly pastor and had them baptized.  As soon as they were able to lisp the “Hail Mary,” she had them unite with her in saying the Rosary for their father.  After five years, she doubled her penance; and after five years more, she offered up daily the fifteen mysteries for that husband’s conversion.  The change came unexpectedly in the end, as the priest had foretold.  The husband became a convert, and lived and died a fervent Catholic and an ardent lover of Our Lady of the Rosary.  The mother had the happiness of seeing her son a priest, and her daughter consecrated to the service of God among the Sisters of Loretto.

* We have another beautiful example of the power of prayer, accompanied by resignation to the will of God, in the life of the pious wife of King Louis XV of France, Maria Leckzinska of Poland.  The court of Louis was most corrupt; but the pious Queen did all in her power to save her children from its evil influences.  Her care was especially centered upon her son, the Dauphin, over whom she watched with unceasing vigilance.  On one occasion, she learned that certain vile young men had determined to destroy the innocence of the young Prince, and for that purpose had laid a snare to entrap him.  This news was as a dagger to the heart of the pious mother.  She hastened to her oratory, and closing the door, prostrated herself before the image of the Blessed Mother, imploring her to save her son from the danger that threatened him.  “It is to you, O Queen of Heaven,” she prayed, “that after God, I owe my son!  From his youth you have protected him.  I conjure you now to obtain from your divine Son his deliverance from his enemies; and, if it be necessary for me to weep for him, beg Our Lord that I may weep over his death, rather than over the loss of his innocence!”  Noble sacrifice of the Queen mother, worthy to be recorded with the sacrifice of Abraham!  In the midst of her ardent prayers and tears, an anonymous note was handed to her, containing these words: “Madame, be in peace.  Your petitions for the Dauphin are heard.”  She never discovered the writer of the note.  The young Prince almost miraculously escaped the snares so maliciously laid for him, and remained faithful to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  But that grace was purchased for him by his mother’s sacrifice.  Shortly afterwards the Prince became dangerously ill, and at the same time another anonymous letter was received by the Queen, which read as follows: “Remember, Madame, the request you made, and adore the mercy of God in behalf of your son.”  Recognizing in the sickness of the Prince the answer to her prayer, the mother accepted the decree with true Christian resignation and prepared for the worst.  When she saw her son expire, she had the inexpressible consolation of knowing that he had been received undefiled into the arms of his God.  Addressing her family, she said: “Oh, my children, seek no longer to know the cause of your brother’s death.  I prayed that he might die sooner than commit sin, and God has heard my prayer.”

What noble incentives to perseverance in prayer are thus given us in the life of our Saviour and His saints!  Should we, too, not pray without ceasing in all our difficulties and trials, and under the pressure of the cross humbly resign ourselves continually to God’s holy will?  Let us ever present our petitions through the hands of our immaculate Mother Mary.  O Virgin Mother of God! teach us to repeat again and again that sublime prayer, the “Hail Mary!”  Obtain for us the grace to persevere in prayer during our lives, that, at the hour of our death, we may be worthy to behold the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus!

(From The Treasures of the Rosary, by Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P., written 1835; edited by P.J. Kenedy and Sons, New York, 1917.)

The Assumption

The Assumption

By Fr. McKenna O.P.


“Behold! My Beloved speaketh to me; arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come, the winter is now past, the rain is over and gone.” — Canticle of Canticles 2, 10.

The two closing mysteries of the Holy Rosary deal especially with the celestial joys and rewards of our Blessed Lady.  They set forth before us her glorious Assumption into heaven, and her Coronation by the Triune Deity as Queen of heaven and earth.  The Assumption is one of the greatest of the Divine Mother’s festivals.  Our Catholic forefathers called it “Great Lady Day,” as they considered it the most beautiful and most solemn of her feasts.  The end of her long and weary pilgrimage had come; her yearning soul was, at last, drawn up to be united with her Beloved, never again to be separated from Him.  In the Introit of the Mass of the day, the Church calls upon us to rejoice in the Lord in celebrating the festival of the Assumption, in whose solemnity the angels rejoice, and together praise the Son of God.

It is generally believed that the death of our Blessed Mother occurred fifteen years after the Ascension of her adorable Son.  She was then in her sixty-third year, and having left Ephesus, where she had lived several years in the house of St. John, the Beloved Disciple, she had come with him to Jerusalem.  She knew that the end of her pilgrimage was at hand, and she desired to be near that city and its precincts which had been sanctified by the footprints and blood of the world’s Redeemer.  She made all the preparations for her last moments; and we are told that, by a special Providence of God, the disciples of her Son were gathered in Jerusalem from their several missions, in order to assist at her deathbed and receive her last blessing.  It might be asked why Mary, who had never been defiled by sin, should be forced to submit to death, which was the punishment of Adam’s sin.  But even if the immaculate Virgin, having closely imitated her Divine Son in every detail of His earthly life, had not desired to imitate Him also in paying the debt of nature, the Angel of the Schools teaches that death and the miseries which we experience, such as hunger, thirst, and all mundane maladies, arise from the constitutive principle of our nature.  Before the sin of Adam these miseries were unknown, for God had elevated Adam to a supernatural state; but human nature, having been despoiled, by the justice of God, of these immunities—which He had conferred as a special grace—lost through sin its integrity and those privileges so liberally given it, and which are not restored in Baptism (St. Thos. Sum. I. p. q. 69, a. 3.). […]

In the Old Law,” said St. Thomas Aquinas,” there were two events which filled all Israel with joy:

* One was the bearing of the Ark of the Covenant into the house of David, which was a source of great rejoicing to David and all his people;

* The other was when the Ark was brought, amid the chanting of choirs, and the sound of timbrels and harps, into the beautiful new Temple which Solomon had just completed for its reception.

There were also two great events in Heaven:

* One was when our humanity, united with the divinity—the Living Ark, which enclosed all the wisdom and knowledge of God1, —entered Heaven, accompanied by all the ransomed souls from Limbo;

* The other was when our dear Mother, the most perfect of all human beings, entered, leaning on her adorable Son, to take possession of that throne and that glory prepared for her from eternity.”

In the Assumption of our Blessed Lady, we behold our human nature exalted and honored above the most resplendent angels in heaven, and placed at the right hand of her adorable Son.  If all Israel united with Solomon in celebrating with song and timbre and harp the coming of the Ark of the Covenant into the Temple prepared for it, how much more did the saints and angels rejoice in seeing the Ark of the New Covenant, the pure and spotless Virgin, conducted on this day into the joys of paradise!  How those blessed spirits of God must have exulted, and burst into paeans of welcome, beholding with wonder and delight their glorious Queen coming in all regal splendor to take possession of the throne prepared for her before the foundation of the world!  We can picture to ourselves the patriarchs and prophets approaching to greet that glorious Daughter of Israel and thank her for all that she had done and suffered in the work of the world’s redemption.  What must have been the unspeakable rapture of Joachim and Anna, of Joseph, her faithful spouse, of the Baptist, and John, her adopted son, of Elizabeth, Zachary, Magdalen, and of so many other chosen souls who had known her during their lives on earth!

How blissful, also, to us, dear fellow Rosarians, is the consideration of our Lady’s Assumption, for, although we are still far removed from our blessed home in Heaven, yet, in telling the beads of the Fourth Glorious Mystery, we commemorate the elevation of the body and soul of one of our fellow beings to the most sublime heights of Heaven.  We see our poor humanity, apart from the divinity, thus exalted, thus glorified, in God’s eternal kingdom.  Never would poor human nature, have been so elevated, had it not been for that felix culpa—that happy fault—the fall of our first parents in the Garden of Eden.

In Mary’s Assumption we have reason not only to thank Almighty God for the favor bestowed on our race in the honor conferred on this glorious daughter of Eve, but we are filled with unbounded confidence in the goodness of God, who has thus elevated this Woman of women to be our Mother and our powerful advocate before the throne of His Mercy.  We acknowledge that we are sinners, but behold! in the bright realms above we have the Advocate of Sinners who, on account of our fall, was raised to such an eminent dignity on earth, and is now enthroned as our refuge and mediatrix in heaven.  Like Queen Esther, standing close to the King in a vesture of gold, she pleads incessantly for the people of her race, and is ever ready to aid all the children of Adam by her powerful intercession.

O Blessed Mother of God! it is with reason that all your true children rejoice in your glorious Assumption, for they see in you their irresistible advocate with your adorable Son.  We know well that Jesus-Christ is the advocate of redemption, that without the merits of His blood no man can be saved; but we know too that He is a God “who loveth justice and hateth iniquity,” and therefore must hate sin with an eternal hatred, and punish it wherever it is found.  But, praise to His holy Name!  He delights in showing mercy; and He has given to His saints, and especially to you, His Blessed Mother, the office of mercy, that through your merits and your powerful pleadings with Him we sinners may obtain pity and pardon, when we deserve nothing but justice and condign punishment.

It is this hope that has ever filled the Catholic heart with confidence in the powerful intercession of the Mother of God.  When we read the lives of God’s illustrious saints, we find that they were all inspired with this humble and unwavering confidence.  The child, who has angered his father by disobedience, will run and hide in the arms of his loving mother, imploring her protection from the just punishment, which he deserves.  Even so, poor, repentant sinners run to Mary, knowing well how grievously they have offended God, but firmly believing that she, who found favor with the Almighty even before the mystery of the Incarnation was accomplished, will much more find favor now with her adorable Son, who is the judge of the living and the dead.  Hence, the prayer of that bright light in the Middle Ages, St. Bernard: “Remember, O most spotless Mother, that never was any one known who sought your help or implored your aid and did not receive powerful assistance!”  How many, indeed, O Blessed Mother, have experienced your render pity and compassion, and your efficacious intercession with your adorable Son!

Bourdaloue2 tells us in his sermon on Our Lady’s Assumption: “Her death was precious in the sight of the Lord because her life was spent in His service.  She was ever faithful to grace; her will was ever conformed to His adorable will; her heart was never attached to the pleasures or vanities of this life.”

The death of all God’s saints, according to David, is precious in His sight; but: just as we cooperate with God’s grace, and labor to promote His glory and our own perfection, in the same proportion will our death be precious before Him and our reward great in Heaven.

Is it not sad, then, dear Rosarians, to consider that, whilst we believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and know that our reward or punishment, must be according to our work (for He will render to every man according to his works), that we are so slothful in doing good, and so prone to add sin to sin?  Alas, how many there are who live in mortal sin, and are thus unable to merit any supernatural reward!  Is it not of faith that mortal sin makes us enemies of God, and that from an enemy He will accept nothing?  What can be sadder than that men, destined for heaven, and having all the means for attaining it within their reach, think little of its unspeakable delights, but prostitute their hearts to sensual gratifications and sacrifice their souls for filthy, fleeting pleasures?  Alas, how many are the daughters of Mary who, instead of seeking to please God and their immaculate Mother, place the affections of their heart on vanity and fashion, and cling to sinful fellow-creatures who seek their eternal destruction!  O God! that all would be wise in time, and labor not for that which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life; that all would lay up treasures for heaven, and so live as to be always prepared to die!

St. Alphonsus, speaking of the glorious death and Assumption of our Blessed Lady, closes his discourse in these words:

We have contemplated, brethren, the death of our Blessed Lady and her glorious Assumption. We have followed her in spirit into the joys of Heaven; we have seen her surrounded by patriarchs and prophets, by saints and angels; we have seen her adorned by her adorable Son at His right hand.  Let us unite with heaven and earth in praising and blessing our glorious Queen.  Let us con­gratulate her on her happiness and on the power which Our Lord has given her, and let us implore her by that power and glory which she now enjoys to look down with compassion on her poor children.  Let us beseech her to watch over us during life, and when death comes, to bring us to share with her in the glory of heaven, where, with all the saints, we shall see God face to face and praise and bless Him and His Virgin Mother for all eternity. Amen.”

(From the book of Fr Charles-Hyacinth McKenna O.P.,The Treasures of the Rosary, New York, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1917 )

(written 1835)

Meditation for Easter time

Meditation for Easter time

The Resurrection of Our Lord

By Fr Charles-Hyacinth McKenna O.P.

He is risen; He is not here! (Mark 16, 6)


What transports of unalloyed joy arise within the devout Christian soul when contemplating the glorious mystery of Our Lord’s Resurrection!  How intense the spiritual delight of the faithful members of the Rosary Confraternity in meditating on the beauty, power and majesty of their risen Redeemer:

— They have followed Him in spirit from the moment of His descent from Heaven into the Virgin’s womb, on the morning of the Incarnation.  They have gazed in admiring rapture on the beauty of the human soul of Our Lord, the most perfect work of the Adorable Trinity. They beheld that peerless soul united with the most pure and perfect body formed by the Holy Ghost, not of the slime of the earth, not of the sin-corrupted flesh of Adam, but of the most pure blood of the immaculate heart of Mary. They saw how in that instant the heavens bowed down to the earth, the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us; the Son of God became the true Son of a Virgin Mother.

— Our dear Rosarians have prayerfully followed Our Lord through each mystery of His sacred life, from the poverty and sufferings of the manger of Bethlehem to the agony and ignominy of His death on Calvary. They have gazed in bitter sorrow of spirit upon the livid face of the Divine Victim, when His beautiful soul separated itself from His mangled body; and they have wept with Mary and the disciples when that adorable body was laid in the silent tomb.  But they well know that His mighty soul yet lives; they firmly believe that both body and soul are still united with the Divinity, and that the seed of immortal life is there, soon to burst forth from the sepulchre in the glory of the Resurrection.

Before proceeding further to meditate upon the details of this marvelous miracle, let us pause to consider for a few moments the joy of our Mother, the Church, on this glorious festival.

How supreme the change that has taken place since the dolor and darkness of Good Friday! Then, the agonized Spouse of Christ was submerged in an ocean of bitter sorrow. Her altars were denuded; her ministers were clothed in the sable garments of mourning; a wail of grief went forth from her bosom, piercing the highest heaven.

Behold the glorious transformation of Easter Sunday! Our weeping Mother has dried her tears and hushed her sighs of grief. Her priests appear in vestments of white and gold; her altars are decked with lovely flowers and flaming lights; her organs peal forth exultant paeans, and, in a very rapture of gladness, she calls upon heaven and earth to join in her song of triumph, repeating again and again her thrilling “Alleluias.”

Nor is the Mater Dolorosa forgotten in those joyful canticles of Easter. Tenderly mindful of the sorrows of Mary, the Church cries to her to rejoice in the golden dawn of the Resurrection: “Regina cœli, lætare,” (she chants), “O Queen of Heaven! rejoice, because He whom thou didst merit to bear, hath risen, as He said. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary! because He is truly risen from the dead!” Yes, Blessed Mother, rejoice and be glad! No longer have hell and Satan power over your adorable Son. He lives and reigns forever, the immortal Conquerer of sin and death, and one day, when your grand work for God and His Church is completed, you shall share everlastingly in the joys of His kingdom!

O sweet and gentle Mother! recalling your profound emotions immediately after the death of your Divine Son, assist us to dwell awhile with you on the action of His adorable soul after its separation from the flesh upon Calvary’s cross. You remember the promise the dying Redeemer made to the poor penitent thief that he would be with Him that day in Paradise (Luke 23. 43). That pledge was faithfully fulfilled.

For lo! the moment the soul of Our Lord passed from its blessed body, it descended into hell, as the Apostles’ Creed puts it; that is, it descended not into the hell of the damned, but into Limbo, the prison of the patriarchs, where all the just were confined who had died during 4000 years. What a vast multitude of elect souls was there, waiting, watching, praying for the long-desired moment that had at last arrived! O what joy to those poor captives to behold the glory and beauty of the soul of their Redeemer, which transformed their prison into a paradise of delights ! How fervently they praised and thanked Him for all He had done and suffered in order to give them release from their place of proba­tion!

But the hour draws near when that glorified soul of Our Lord must return to the sepulchre in the Garden, and awaking His adorable body, give it to share in the glory of the Resurrection.  What tongue or pen of men or angels can describe the rapturous reunion of the body and soul of Our Lord on that blissful Easter morn! Lord Jesus, may our bodies and souls experience a measure of that unutterable joy when they meet again on the last day, the day of our resurrection!  Grant, dear Lord, that then there may be no terrible recrimination between flesh and spirit, each accusing the other of its eternal ruin; but rather a mutual joyous congratulation that soul and body united during life in accomplishing the glorious work of their salvation.

On that first Easter Day, the moment the soul of Our Lord returned to the body, it awakened it from the sleep of death and at once filled it with the infinite happiness of the Beatific Vision, giving it all the properties of glorified bodies in the most exalted and perfect degree. Resplendent to behold in its clarity and incorruptibility, invested with subtility and agility, the glorified body of Our Lord passed swiftly through the granite of the sealed tomb.  He did not need to await the rolling back of the stone from the mouth of the sepulchre, which occurred later, to convince the guards of the divinity of the crucified Lord, and to acquaint the devout women and His disciples with the fact that He was no longer there, inasmuch as they could behold the place where they had laid Him.

Our Lord appeared to His Blessed Mother just after His Resurrection, changing her sorrow into intense joy, and giving her in anticipation a share of the glory and happiness that awaited her in Heaven. How sweet and consoling must have been the converse of Our Lord with His Blessed Mother! How she must have thanked and congratulated Him for choosing her to be His companion in the sublime work of the world’s redemption — and for having vouchsafed her a share in His manifold sufferings and sorrows! And how Jesus, in turn, must have thanked His Blessed Mother, and praised and blessed her for all she did and suffered for Him from the moment of His Incarnation to His expiration on the cross! Let us try to picture to ourselves the overflowing rapture of Mary’s immaculate Heart when she beheld the glorified body of her divine Son. She did not go with the devout women when (as the Evangelist tells us) they went very early in the morning to anoint the body of Christ. She well knew that it had no need of the embalming spices or unguents, since it was not destined to molder in the grave. She did not go to visit the tomb on Easter morn with the weeping Magdalen, for she was well aware that the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea was vacant of its divine Tenant. Already her adorable Son had visited and consoled her. And with what ecstatic joy must she have gazed on those hands and feet, lately so livid and lacerated, now shining as if adorned with dazzling jewels; on that glorified body, so horribly torn by the scourges, now resplendently arrayed with heavenly vesture; on that sacred face, once clouded by blood and bruises, now more brilliant than ten thousand suns, thence diffusing the light of the Lamb, which shall fill the New Jerusalem with ineffable delight, from everlasting to everlasting!

Later on, in that first most wonderful Paschal time, when Our Lord appeared to Magdalen, to the other devout women, to Peter, and to the rest of the disciples, and when He saw that they feared and wavered, He said to them: “Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? See My hands and feet — realize that it is I, Myself. Handle and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see Me to have.” He permitted that Thomas should doubt, in order that a more convincing proof of His resurrection might be given, by permitting the incredulous disciple to put his hand in the marks of the wounds still existing in His glorified body. When the disciples saw that it was indeed the Lord, their sorrow was changed into unspeakable joy. They hailed with delight their well-beloved Master, who, having triumphed over death and hell, appears once more among them to console and comfort them, and lovingly to pardon their past defections.

After conversing with them for forty days, He ascended gloriously into Heaven, taking with Him the trophies of His victory — the vast multitude of ransomed souls who were to share through Him and with Him in the glory of His eternal kingdom.

We have spoken to you, dear Rosarians, of the body and soul of our risen Redeemer. But shall we venture to dwell upon the awful subject of His divinity? We know that the adorable Son of God was with the Father from all eternity; and we firmly believe that He did not leave the Father when He descended upon the earth, but that clothing Himself with our humanity, He rendered all its actions of infinite value. He concealed Himself from the eyes of the world in the lowliness and poverty of the manger; but, occasionally, during His mortal career He permitted His divinity to shine forth in His stupendous works. He gave a glimpse of it, though still partially veiled, to His chosen disciples on Mount Thabor. He concealed it during the tragedy of Calvary, for there, for our instruction and example, His poor suffering humanity was forced to cry out in bitter anguish: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” But now, at last, all is consummated. The work He came to do is accomplished. He has completed the work His Father gave Him to do. Man has been redeemed; death and hell are conquered, and Jesus seems to say to us to-day, as He said to the disciples in Emmaus: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so enter into His glory?”

But apart from the joy given to Christians in the mystery of the Resurrection, there are other solid causes of rejoicing which we will now briefly consider:

— The Resurrection was the test miracle of the divinity of our Lord. He frequently adduced it in His public life as the strongest proof that He was God. When He drove the money-changers out of His Father’s house, the Jews wanted to know by what authority He did it. He answered: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I shall raise it up again. Put Me to death, and in three days I shall rise again.” Repeatedly He said to His disciples: “Behold! we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man shall be delivered into the hands of His enemies. They will scourge Him and put Him to death, and the third day He shall rise again.” When that obdurate people asked of Him a sign, a proof that He was the Son of God, He said, ” An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign, and no sign shall be given it, except the sign of Jonas the prophet; for as Jonas was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so shall it be with the Son of Man. He shall be in the bowels of the earth three days and three nights.”

The Jews well knew of His repeated prophecy, and therefore they did all in their power to defeat its accomplishment. Hence, the Resurrection of the crucified Saviour is the strongest proof of the divinity of our Faith, as well as the divinity of Jesus Christ. “If Christ be not risen, our Faith is in vain,” says St. Paul. And even as from the sleeping Adam his virgin spouse was formed, and given to him for a companion, so, say the Fathers, from the sleeping Christ and from the empty tomb the Church came forth in all her virginal beauty, to be forevermore the Spouse of Jesus-Christ. It was in this faith of the Resurrection that St. Peter performed his first miracle. “Know this,” he said, “that it is in the name of Jesus Christ whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, in His name this man stands before you whole!” It was in the name of the crucified and risen Saviour that all the miracles wrought by the Apostles were performed. In the faith of the Resurrection they went forth joyously to labor, to suffer and to die. Seventeen millions of martyrs attested by their blood their faith in the Resurrection. And all that has been done by Christianity for the civilization of the world, for the conversion of nations, for the liberation of slaves, for the elevation of woman, has been accomplished through the faith in the Resurrection.

Besides these general motives for rejoicing in the Resurrection, dear Rosarians, we have each a special one to gladden us. Christ’s Resurrection is the model and the pledge of your resurrection and mine, provided we be found at the last day faithful to our Master. Among all the nations of the earth there has ever existed some sort of belief in a future state. Hence their care for the dead. Hence the Indians’ devotion to the remains of their departed, and their belief in the happy hunting-ground. Hence the funeral pyre, the cremating of the dead, and the gathering of their ashes into urns by the Greeks and Romans. Hence the embalming of bodies among the Egyptians, and the erection of the Pyramids, as the enduring monuments of their kings. In the Old Law, we read of the care of Abraham for the grave of Sarah, the desires of Jacob and Joseph to be interred with their Fathers — all in the hope of a glorious resurrection. Holy Job said: “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth, and I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see my God, Whom I shall myself see, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. This, my hope, is laid up in my bosom.” 4Behold, you who moulder in the dust,” said Isaiah, addressing the dead, “you shall be born again, for the dew which falls on you is vivifying dew.” In a sublime allegory, Ezechiel contemplates a vast plain filled with the dried bones of the dead, which at the preaching of the prophet gradually reentered their mortal bodies, and, beginning to move, being covered with flesh and skin, at last arose, a mighty army of the Lord. Then cried the Almighty through the prophet: ” When ye shall see these things come to pass, know that I am the Lord! ” (Ezechiel 30, 1).

Daniel speaks of the vast multitude who sleep in the earth. All will arise, he says, “some unto life everlasting, and others unto reproach, to see it always. But they that are learned shall shine as the brightness of the firmament” (Daniel 12, 2-3). “Behold,” says St. Paul, “I tell you a great mystery; we shall all rise again, but we shall not all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible, and this mortal shall put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15, 51).

It is a dogma of our Faith that all shall arise again. Our Apostles’ Creed declares: “I believe in the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.” But, alas, Faith does not promise to all a glorious resurrection. Those who persevere in a life of sin, who persistently despise here below the Church and her teachings, can never hope for a blessed immortality. “Be not deceived,” says St. Paul to the Galatians, “God is not mocked; for what things a man sow, the same shall he reap; for he that soweth in the flesh, of the flesh shall reap corruption; but he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6, 7). Again, he says: “They that are Christ’s have crucified their flesh, with Its vices and concupiscences.”  In another place he declares: “Brethren, we are debtors, not to live according to the flesh, for if we live according to the flesh we shall die; but if, by the spirit, we mortify the deeds of the flesh we shall live” (Rom. 8, 13).  Divine Faith, therefore, teaches us that they who continue obstinate enemies of God until the end, will remain His enemies for all eternity. To them we can promise no Easter joy, no glorious resurrection of the body.

You are aware that it is the ardent desire of the Church that all her children who have come to the use of reason should approach the Sacraments during this holy season.  For this, her Lenten service, for this, her sermons and instructions.  She not only desires this, but with all her divine authority she commands it, threatening with awful punishment those who will not comply with her precept.  She declares that they are cut off from the body of the Faithful even as the branch is cut off from the vine.  And Jesus tells us Himself that the fruitless branch cut from the vine is dead, and only fit to be cast into the fire.  Have you all proved your obedience to Jesus Christ by obeying His Church, and approaching the Sacraments with proper dispositions during the Paschal time which she appoints1?   We know the words of Jesus Christ: “He who will not hear the Church, let him be considered as the heathen and the publican.”   And, again, he declares: “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you (John 6, 54).

That Is to say, you may have mere animal life, the life of the beast, the life of the infidel, the life of the lost soul (for the soul must live forever), but you will not have that spiritual, that divine life, which alone comes from our union with God.  In the same chapter, Jesus says:  “I am the living Bread that comes down from heaven, that if any man eat of this Bread he may not die, but live forever, and the Bread that I will give you is my flesh for the life of the world. Except you eat of this Bread, you shall not have life in you.”

How sad it is to realize that, notwithstanding all that Jesus has done and suffered to unite Himself to us in Holy Communion, there are Catholics who, refusing the life-giving Sacraments, continue to the end His mortal enemies!  Let us beg our risen Lord to pity these ungrateful souls and draw them to His Sacred Heart.  And, still more, let me implore all the members of the Rosary to be faithful in their compliance with the important precept of the Easter duty.

And, now, a word in conclusion to those who have truly arisen with Our Lord and Saviour by having made a good confession and Communion.

Father Chevassu tells us that there are three typical resurrections mentioned in Holy Writ:  The resurrection of Samuel, of Lazarus, and of Our Lord.

* Samuel rose but for a moment, and sank down again, questioning Saul and the witch of Endor why they had disturbed him.  His was not the real resurrection.  It was a phantom resurrection.

* Lazarus truly rose from the dead, but he came out of the sepulchre in the same sluggish flesh that had already generated the seeds of corruption: and hence death claimed him a second time.

* Jesus Christ died but once, and “death,” says St. Paul, “had no longer dominion over Him (Rom 6, 9).  He rose to live the divine life of immortality.  Behold, here, the model of our spiritual resurrection!  Some Catholics rise out of their sins for a moment only, and this generally at Easter, but, like Samuel, they soon sink back again into their deadly slumber. O thers remain firm for a time, but gradually yield.  Let us, at least, beloved Rosarians, strive to imitate our Blessed Master.  He rose from the dead never to die again.  He was never seen in the company of His enemies after His Resurrection.  As He shunned them in those blessed days, and appeared only to His disciples, so we, having arisen from the grave of sin, should avoid all evil associations and consort only with the friends of God.

This is the sublime lesson which we should learn from this glorious festival . Like our risen Lord, let us, as St. Paul tells us, walk in the newness of life, that when Christ appears we may also appear with Him in glory.  Fleeing resolutely from the occasions of sin as from the face of the serpent, fortified by fervent prayer and the holy Sacraments, let us also gain a glorious victory for God over His enemies and ours.  Let us persevere to the end in divine grace; and, following, like true disciples, in the footprints of Our Lord, we may confidently hope to rise with Him to a new life and rejoice with Him and His Blessed Mother in the abode of the saints for a happy eternity.

(From the book of Fr Charles-Hyacinth McKenna, The Treasures of the Rosary, written 1835 ; edited by New-York, P.J. Kenedy and sons, 1917).

Meditation for Holy Week

Meditation for Holy Week

The Crucifixion and death of Our Lord

By Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P.

We now come to consider the last of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, and one of the greatest events in the history of our sad and sinful old world.

This mystery, said Bishop Martin of Paderborn, contains, accentuates and consummates the other four Sorrowful Mysteries. It renews the Agony in the garden, reopens the wounds of the flagellation; the crown of thorns is replaced on the head of our Redeemer; the Cross now bears Him who was forced to drag it to Calvary”1

As soon as the doleful procession of that first Good Friday attained the summit of the mountain, Our Lord, faint and weary, was given to drink wine mingled with myrrh and gall.   “But when He had tasted it, He would not drink.”

Then, laying violent hands upon Jesus, His tormentors roughly tore off His garments, to which the flesh of His lacerated body had adhered, thereby reopening all His wounds and causing the blood to flow afresh.  What must have been the confusion of our modest Lord, He who is incarnate purity, to be shamelessly exposed for the second time to the derision of that vast multitude!  Ah, to what profound depths of humiliation did He not descend for our sakes!

Despoiled of His raiment, He was then rudely thrown upon the cross, and four of His inhuman executioners began the work of nailing Him to it.  First, His right hand was fastened to the wood with a rude spike — not a sharp nail, but one blunt and rough, which would mangle and tear the sensitive nerves of the palm of the hand and cause indescribable agony.  The left hand was next seized.  His sacred feet were then nailed to the cross in the same inhuman fashion — and the bloody work of the crucifixion was completed!

The soldiers then gathered around our Blessed Lord to place the cross in position.  Carrying it to the spot which they dug for it in the rock, instead of lowering it gently, they roughly dropped it into the hole, thereby jarring most painfully the whole sacred body, enlarging the wounds in the blessed hands and feet, and causing the precious blood to flow in streams.  His malicious enemies now behold their helpless Victim uplifted in His agony.

Is there no heart among them to regret or condemn this terrible immolation of the sinless Lamb of God?  Ah, no!  Far from being moved to pity for the Just One in His extremity of anguish, the hearts of the spectators seem to grow fiercer and more obdurate, if that be possible.  No word of compassion falls from their lips, but priests and soldiers, alike, vie with one another in mocking and blaspheming Him.

Draw near now, faithful souls, to the foot of the cross, and gazing upon this hideous spectacle of your dying Redeemer, learn the malice of sin, as well as the inexorable justice of God, which exacts for it so tremendous an expiation.  It was our sins rather than the nails which fastened Him to the rough wood of the cross; it was for the secret sins of the world, especially, that He was thus exposed, naked, to the profane gaze of a rude, reviling rabble.

Let us approach still nearer, and catch the faint words which fall from the livid lips of our Blessed Lord in His last agony.  Does He, like other victims of injustice, proclaim His innocence, and call down the maledictions of Heaven upon His persecutors?  Ah, no, very different are the sentiments of the meek and forgiving Son of God!  He becomes, instead, the advocate of His cruel crucifiers before His heavenly Father.  He utters that sublime sentence which should ever find an echo in our hearts and influence our conduct toward those who have done evil to us:  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”

Of the two robbers who were crucified with Him, one was touched by this evidence of divine patience and gentleness, by this tender prayer for mercy for His enemies; and, already believing in Christ’s innocence, by a special grace Dismas, the thief, received faith to believe also in His divinity.  Upbraiding his guilty companion for blaspheming Jesus, he turned to the Master and begged Him to be mindful of him in His kingdom.  In return for this dying act of faith he had the ineffable happiness of hearing from Our Lord’s lips these consoling words:  “This day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.”

In this merciful promise there are grounds of hope for the greatest sinners of the world.  The penitent thief, after a life of sin, finds mercy in his dying moments; yet even here we behold a contrast, a presentation of eternal issues calculated to strike the sinner with fear and trembling.  Of two criminals in like danger of death and damnation, only one was saved!  Reflect well upon this consideration.  Both men had the same Redeemer, dying for the world’s salvation, in their midst.  The precious Blood of Jesus was flowing close to them, ready to ransom their souls.  Both had before them the same example of divine patience; both were offered the grace of the Mediator to do penance — yet one is forever lost; the other saved for all eternity.  Have you not, then, O sinner of to-day! less reason to hope than to fear?  I exhort you, if you desire to secure yourself in so important an affair, hasten your conversion.  Do immediately what the good thief did in his extremity, lest his salvation, which was a miracle of grace, should prove the rock of your destruction, the ordinary chastisement of sinners who forget God during their lives2.

Up to this point, we have said little of the part our Blessed Mother took in Calvary’s tragedy.  Present, as she was, during the fearful fastening of her Son to the tree of shame3, she heard the sound of the hammer driving the rude nails into His sacred hands and feet.  Alas! those violent strokes were as so many cruel blows upon her immaculate heart.  She saw the soldiers raise the cross and drop it roughly into position; she heard the exultant shouts of the multitude as her Son was thus elevated above them the blasphemies that were then uttered by the High Priest and the rabble.  As soon as she saw the soldiers withdraw from the cross, she hastened with her companions to take her position at its foot.

With eyes streaming with tears, she gazes upon the agonized face of her dying Son, upon His brow drenched with blood from the thorny crown, upon His eyes dim with the excess of His pain, upon His pale lips, parched with the consuming thirst attendant on His great loss of blood.  She would give a thousand lives, did she possess them, for the privilege of putting to His lips a draught of cold water to relieve His fevered mouth and throat; but even this poor consolation is denied her.  Jesus knows full well the agonizing desires of her devoted heart; and from His cross He casts upon her a look of tender pity.  It is then that, commending her to the care of St. John, He leaves her as a precious legacy to all His followers until the end of time.  In that supreme moment she becomes, in truth, our Mother, our mediator, our intercessor with her Divine Son.

Soon after this, Our Lord gives expression to the bitterest anguish of His heart in that piteous cry: ” My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken me?”  These appealing words reveal to us the secret of His intense agony in the Garden of Gethsemani, of His torments on the cross.  His keenest suffering is caused by His apparent abandonment by His beloved Father.  Unconsoled and unsupported, He is left alone to battle with the powers of earth and hell, at the mercy of the spirits of darkness, only such aid being rendered as is necessary to prolong His life until His sacrifice shall reach its supreme consummation in death.  This is that poignant anguish which draws forth the bitter cry: “My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

Now nature, less insensible than man, commences to manifest her horror at the spectacle of a God crucified by His creatures.  The sun begins to withdraw its light from the heavens; an awe-inspiring pall of darkness settles down upon that blood-stained city.  Violent convulsions of the earth are felt; Calvary’s rocks are rent; the veil of the Temple, which hides the Holy of Holies from the gaze of the people, is torn asunder, and the dead arise from their graves and appear to many.

The vast multitude on Calvary, who have gathered there to gloat over the death agony of their innocent Victim, hasten to leave that dreadful scene.  Hushed now are the blasphemies, the imprecations, the mockeries of the rabble!  In terror and confusion, they flee over the quaking ground through a darkness which has now grown intense and awful.  A horrible fear assails them.  May we not believe that they then began to realize the enormity of their crime, and feeling that they were indeed guilty of deicide, were moved to exclaim with Longinus: ” Indeed, this was the Son of God!” (Mark xv. 39.)

Only a few remained to witness the end of the great tragedy.  And now the afflicted Mother and her faithful attendants draw nearer to the cross whereon hangs the world’s Redeemer.  Again is heard the voice of the dying Saviour: “All is consummated.”  Having commended His soul to His heavenly Father, He yielded up His spirit.

A little later, the centurion pierced Our Lord’s dead body with a lance, and from the wound there issued forth water and blood, thus testifying that the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the ever-flowing fountain of divine love and mercy, was opened to all mankind.

Still later, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took down His sacred body and placed it for a few moments in the arms of His afflicted Mother.  Poor Mother! with what looks of silent agony you gazed on the mangled body of your adorable Son!  Removing the cruel crown of thorns from His blessed brow, Mary placed it, with the sacred nails, in her heaving bosom, close to her immaculate heart.

Not long after, the dead Christ was removed by Joseph of Arimathea and laid “in his own new monument, which he had hewed out in a rock.” (Matt, xxvii. 60.)  A great stone was rolled to the door of the sepulcher, and Joseph went his way, leaving Mary Magdalen and the other Mary sitting beside the tomb.

Thus ends the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery.  Here, at the door of Christ’s sepulcher, let us kneel with these holy women and ask of our crucified Lord the grace to bear our crosses unto death in meek resignation to His adorable will.  Let us resolve to be ever faithful to His teachings and commandments — to follow closely in His footsteps up the bloodstained mountain of self-sacrifice, and, having died with Him upon Golgotha, merit one day to rise with Him to a happy and glorious eternity.

(From The Treasures of the Rosary, by Fr Charles Hyacinth McKenna O.P., written 1835; edited by P.J. Kenedy and Sons, New York, 1917.)