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In order to receive orders in time for Christmas delivery the order must be placed no later than December 7th.
Thank you so very much for all your orders. God bless you!
"THERE shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be."
FIRST POINT - There is nothing more remarkable than the destiny of the Church of God on earth. She is a vessel launched on the ocean of time, and destined to be buffeted constantly by wind and storm. The persecution which she shall suffer at the end of time shall be, it is true, the most terrible of all, although in every century of her existence persecutors have arisen against her. The first enemy with which she had to contend was Judaism. The Jews, who had put Jesus to death, wished to stifle His religion in its very cradle; the high-priests, the doctors, the scribes, the Pharisees, and the chiefs of all the people were against her. But it may be asked: Was it necessary that so much opposition should be raised against her who was so weak, so small, and on the first day of her existence? The answer is No, emphatically No, if she had been a human institution. But she was not a human institution; she was divine, and God who had founded her sustained her. And far from falling a victim by persecution, she acquired countless disciples. Driven from Jerusalem and Palestine, she sends her apostles to all parts of the world, and to the conquests she had already made she shall add new ones; but she shall purchase them as she did the first — at the price of the best blood of her children. Hardly had the Church spoken to pagan nations that word which announced the glad tidings, than she counted innumerable disciples — at Athens, as well as at Rome; among the Scythians, Arabians, and Persians, as well as among the Egyptians. At the sight of these triumphs idolatry trembled for its false deities. The emperors took up arms against this new power and began the era of blood and persecution. From one corner to the other of the Roman empire the Christians were tracked by savage beasts; denounced as traitors, placed under the ban of the empire as infamous people, they were put to the rack and the flames and the lions; every citizen was ordered to denounce them, and every governor of a province was charged to put them to death. It was a prodigy unheard of, and history would not believe it if it were not compelled to record it in its annals. But the order of things was reversed. Causes have produced effects opposite to those which they should have produced. The Caesars, instead of stifling religion, had given it a new life. Edicts of proscription propagated it more rapidly than it would have done by the peaceful preaching of millions of apostles; the blood of the martyrs had become the seed of Christianity. Who cannot see here the finger of God? But it was not enough for the Church to have combated against Judaism and idolatry. Intestine strife, more terrible for a society and a kingdom than external foes, arose to show clearly that God sustained His Church. The great heresy which threatened the Church with ruin commenced in the fourth century. It was propagated and came to life under different names until the sixteenth century, when it made its grand development. The apostles of heresy were sometimes powerful in words and works. Has it not produced an Arius and a Luther? Heresy opposed the Church more terribly than the Roman emperors. Arius found assistance in the legions of the Emperor Constance. Luther was supported by the German princes and the revolting peasants. But the same power which caused the Church to triumph over the Jews and pagans made her triumph over heresy, and the new triumph was another proof of her divine origin. Rationalism in its turn declared war against the Church, and what a war! As bold as the prince of Jewish priests and Roman emperors, it attacked individuals and went so far as to shed blood. It was more impious than heresy, since it was not limited, to a contest on some disputed point of doctrine. Rationalism attacked everything. Rousseau denied revelation; Hume held that the distinction between good and evil was arbitrary; Helvetius preached materialism; Diderot made Atheists; Voltaire combined them all — at the head of the philosophic cohort he was soldier and general. At this epoch everything was employed to destroy religion — resources of genius and admi- rable talents, scientific studies and historical evidences, calumnies and sarcasm, but the Church triumphed over them all. The triumph she has won in the sequence of ages over all her enemies must assure us, in the midst of trials which assail her now, that she shall rise from them, as ever, purer and more glorious.
SECOND POINT — What we should do in time of persecution. Our first duty is to humble ourselves before God and strive to appease His anger. All the evils which bring sorrow to the Church, all the trials by which human society is afflicted come from the sins of men. Perhaps these trials are provoked by our own personal iniquities. We should then strike our breast, and by our tears appease the tempests which our crimes have unchained. This was the conduct of the saints. The prophet Daniel was not responsible for the sins which occasioned the captivity of the Jews in Babylon; however, he numbered himself among the guilty ones. ''We have sinned," he said; "we have committed iniquities. We merit only confusion for our sins, we, our kings, and our princes, and our fathers.'' The holy priest Esdras thus spoke to God: "My God, I am covered with shame and I do not dare to lift my eyes to Thee, because our iniquities have ascended to heaven." Strive to entertain these sentiments so suitable to a Christian heart, and in the trials which beset the Church here below be careful lest you regard yourself guiltless. In the troubles which afflict the Church we should not content ourselves with being humble; but we should pray for her. This duty our blessed Saviour points out in the Gospel of today, when He says: "Pray that your flight be not in the winter." This He recommends most formally in the words of Ezechiel: "I have sought for a man who would restrain my anger against my people, and I have not found him, and I have been forced to give full vent to my vengeance." These words, "I have sought for a man," should make us tremble. Alas, perhaps you are that unthinking soul who betrays the cause of the Church by neglecting its interests and by doing nothing for her glory. When God seeks some one to arrest His anger, it is a sign He wishes to pardon, and if He does not pardon it is our own fault; we have not prayed, or we have prayed without suitable dispositions. Henceforth, fulfil this duty with greatest fidelity. Pray with a pure heart, with fervor, with perseverance, that God may shorten the days of trial for good Christians. Ask that His Church may increase and flourish more and more every day, until the coming of the great day, which shall see all the enemies of our divine Saviour conquered. Our third duty in the time of trouble and scandal is to cling most tenaciously to the teachings of the Church. "There shall arise" says the Saviour, "false Christs and false prophets; if then some one tells you Christ is here, or there, do not believe it. To follow this warning remember these two principles:
First, the faith of the Church is invariable; that which was believed in the days of the apostles is still believed, and shall be believed to the end of the world. Thus every novelty should be rejected, every new doctrine should be condemned beforehand and should not seduce us. To believe and to be saved: this is all the Christian should know and practice.
The second principle which shall preserve you from all error is that the Church is Catholic, that is to say, is universal. It follows that Christ is neither in this or that sect. Be on your guard against every particular doctrine; remain firmly attached to the Church which is Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman; whose faith is as old as herself and as extended as the world. She is the pillar of truth on which you must stand in the midst of the fluctuating and uncertain teachings of the times in which we live. She is the bark of Peter which has lived through tempest and storm, and which shall securely conduct you to the haven of safety.
Source: Short Instructions for Every Sunday of the Year and the Principal Feasts, Imprimatur 1897
There shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be. (ST. MATT. xxiv. 21)
I. AFTER a day of more than usual contention with His bitter enemies, Jesus turned His back upon them and left the Temple, never again to enter within its hallowed courts. But before He did so, He first completely silenced and confounded the Scribes, the Pharisees, and the Herodians, and launched forth against them those well-merited anathemas, which brought matters to an open rupture between Him and them, and raised in their hearts that thirst for His blood, which eventually brought Him to the disgraceful Cross.
As He left the sacred precincts of the Temple, His disciples called His attention to the beauty of its architecture, and to the richness of the material out of which it had been built. Turning to them, He bade them mark these things well, for that the day drew now close at hand when not one stone of this magnificent structure should be left upon another. Then, while the evening came on apace, He led the way to the summit of Mount Olivet, followed by His sad and dejected Apostles. There they sat down, and looked upon the city which lay beneath them. What a scene of beauty must have met their eyes, as the setting sun bathed with its splendour the public buildings and the glorious Temple one of the world's wonders, and their own nation's proudest boast. With aching hearts they looked upon all this magnificence, and asked, with fear, when these things of which He had spoken should come to pass. Then Jesus told them the signs which were to precede the overthrow of their nation, and put before their eyes that terrible picture of their city girt round by a besieging army, and torn by bloody factions within the walls. He spoke of the famine and the pestilence, which were to consume what the sword of civil discord should spare. He told them of the assault, the capture, and the destruction of their city; of the burning of the Temple; of the overthrow, the subjugation, and the dispersion of their race.
Passing next to the still more distant future, He spoke to them of the final destruction of all earthly things; of the signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars; of the famines, the wars, the pestilences; of the sea rushing in upon the land; the earth bursting asunder and vomiting forth fire; men withering away for fear and expectation of what should come upon the world. Then, said He, shall they see the Son of Man now despised, rejected, and soon to be crucified coming in the clouds of heaven, with great power and majesty. The Angels shall go before His face, to summon from the four corners of the world all the dead, and call them to judgment. For every man, without exception, shall manifest himself before the throne of Jesus Christ, to give an account of all the deeds done in the body, whether they have been good or evil.
II. From both these terrible predictions, you may gather much that will teach you lessons of spiritual wisdom, on this the last Sunday of the ecclesiastical year. Your soul, like Jerusalem, is the city and temple of the living God. Upon it have been lavished multitudinous favours and graces, from the treasury of His mercy. To it there have been granted secret inspirations of the Holy Spirit, urging it on to greater perfection. God's servants and God's ministers have carried His message to it, and have been sent to guide and direct it. It has been a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up, and protected on every side against evil. Nay, God Himself has come down and taken up His abode in it. He has set a seal upon it, by the unction of His Holy Spirit, and given the care of it to His Angels, that they may keep and defend it from evil.
All this has God done for your soul. What return have you made for His loving condescension? Just reflect a little! Can you say that you have gratefully received all these favours, and that you have tried to make Him some little return? Alas ! how many are there whose conscience will force them to strike their breasts with sorrow, and to acknowledge with bitter remorse, that they have abused the grace of God, and trampled it under foot, by profaning the channels which conveyed it to their souls. When the Holy Spirit either gently pleaded with them to follow the lead of grace, or sternly reproved them for their sins, they drowned His voice amid the tumult of unruly passions. When God's servants and ministers instructed them in their duties, and warned them against the snares of the devil, they laughed them to scorn. When either duty, or the great festivals of the year, brought them to the Holy Table, they gave Jesus the traitor's kiss in that banquet of love, and received Him into their polluted hearts. Those hearts were once the temples of God, but now they are the abodes of furious passions. They have broken down the gates of the Sanctuary; they have suffered every unclean beast to enter; they have set up the abomination of desolation where once there stood the throne of God. They have done all these things, and God has been silent.
III. But will God be silent for ever ? No; for there is no evil deed committed for which a reckoning of some kind or other has not to be made. Though the accounting-day is long a-coming, yet it comes at last. At present it seems but a mere speck in the far-off future, for you are now in the heyday of youth. You have health, and strength, and buoyant spirits; you fear nothing; no unpleasant consequences follow; and therefore, like the fool in the Scripture, you begin to think that there is no reckoning to be made, that there is no God to notice these things.
But what says the Wise Man ? With the bitterest irony he thus addresses the youthful sinner: Young man, give a loose rein to thy passions. Refuse thine eye nothing that it covets, nor thy heart aught that it desires. Satisfy to the full all the base passions of thy nature, but remember that for all these things thou shalt answer before God. When the measure of iniquity has been filled up, and while the wicked repose in fancied security, dreaming only of still further gratification the Son of Man will come to judgment. There will perhaps be no warning. But as lightning coming out of the east, and, in the twinkling of an eye flashing across the whole expanse of the heavens unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.
What would be your lot for all eternity if He were to come at this very instant ? What would it have been, had He come at a certain time which you can well remember ? The very thought of this makes, you shudder ! If you desire never to be taken unawares, let the memory of the day of wrath be ever present to your mind. Think frequently of it how the heavens shall roll aside, like the curtains of a tent, and disclose to your view the Son of Man, Christ Jesus, coming with great power and majesty. You will be standing in the valley of judgment, awaiting His coming, either among the blessed or among the reprobate. If among the blessed, you will fear nothing; but if among the reprobate, you will call upon the mountains and the hills to fall upon you and hide your turpitude from your fellow-men and from the piercing glance of God s all-seeing eye.
Keep this dreadful scene before your mind, and it will keep you out of all evil. If you should now be in the state of sin, reflect that for you personally the judgment-day may come at any time; for if death were to strike you with his merciless dart, your eternal lot would be decided in a moment, and your position fixed for that last great day of terror and of wrath. You have now to blot out, by tearful sorrow, the black catalogue which is written up against you. Do not allow this season of grace to slip through your hands. Be converted to the Lord, turn away from the wickedness of your sin, and ask God to fill your heart with so salutary a fear of that day of calamity and of misery, that it may keep your feet for ever in the narrow way which leads to life.
Say to Him from the depth of a contrite heart: Pierce, O Lord, my flesh with Thy fear, and direct my steps in Thy sight. That fear will teach you to tame your unruly passions and bring them into subjection ; that guidance will support your tottering footsteps and lead you to the golden gates of His eternal Kingdom.
Source: Lectures for Boys, Volume I, Imprimatur 1896
~ I have placed a PDF for our 2020 Catholic family calendar on our download page. Feel free to print it and use it if you like. You can view the calendar below.
~ This is not an official calendar of the Catholic Church. It was put together by a lay person for her own family using the Saint Andrew Daily Missal, Imprimatur 1951. All quotes taken from: Whom the Lord Loveth,” Imprimatur 1919
~ PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE double check days of fast and abstinence. We are human and we make mistakes even with the best of intentions and a lot of proof reading. We feel guilty when someone doesn't fast or abstain because of an oversight or mistake on our part!
IN the miracle which Jesus wrought in favor of the daughter of Jairus we should especially consider three things: of whom is this young girl the image, the conditions of the sinner's return to grace, and the marks of a true return to God.
First Point—Of whom is this young girl the image? She is yours; because she was young, full of health, loved by her father, adored by her mother. She promised herself long years, and in her gracious carelessness she smiled on the world, which extended its arms to her. However, she dies—this only daughter, this rich heiress, this youthful beauty. Neither the nobleness of her blood, nor the dignities of her family, nor wealth, nor youth, were able to preserve her from death. She is your image, because you yourself, from one moment to another, may fall under the stroke of death, as the fragile flower falls under the scythe of the harvester.
Woe to this young girl, if, captivated by the pleasures of the world, she has loved it to the detriment of her eternal interests; if the desire to please it made her forget God; if the care of her body made her forget her soul; if she has cultivated her beauty to attract adorers; if, proud of her advantages, she has opened her heart to pride and allowed it to fall into vain projects—what a misfortune for her, and what a folly ! Death has destroyed everything, and her projects and her desires have perished. What misfortune also for you, if you imitate her in her ardor for the things of the world and her carelessness for the things of heaven. Death shall come to destroy everything, both the vanity of your projects and the folly of your illusions. On seeing her, Jesus exclaimed: "The girl is not dead, but sleepeth." It was impossible better to express the effect of sin in a soul hitherto innocent. This first fault, it is true, brings her death, but the return to life is so easy that this death is rather a sleep than a real death. The heart cannot be corrupted ; conscience has not lost its first delicacy; all the principles of life, so to speak, are living—the breath of grace is all that is needed to reanimate them. See also in what this young girl is your image. You have sinned, but your heart is not perverted; every sentiment is not extinguished; the habit is not formed. All the happy impressions of virtue which you have received still live, and a little good will is all that is necessary to restore you to grace. May you understand and profit by all these elements of sanctification.
Second Point.—Jesus begins by sending away the band of musicians who make a great tumult in this house where life must re-enter. He thus indicates to us the ordinary cause which leads to neglect in the souls of sinners, of whom this young girl is the image; also the first condition of a return to God. There carelessness has commenced with a taste for pleasures. There is in worldly diversions—in parties, balls, spectacles—a deadly vapor which penetrates the heart and excites it. Do not hope to return to the fervor of your first piety as long as you shall live in the midst of the agitation of the world. The cloud of dust which envelops the worldly soul hides from it the sight of God and the sight of duty. In retreat, on the contrary, the heart looks upon itself; it sees its state, it hears the voice of God, and nothing can hinder it from responding to His appeal. If, then, you wish to preserve grace, or to recover it, fly every occasion, all society, all reading calculated to lead you to dissipation. Do you hope to resist your passions in the midst of all that nourishes and develops them ? Do you think that you can preserve your virtue for a long time, when you expose it to the seductions which corrupt it? Do you think you can remain pious, recollected, fervent, and devoted to duty in the midst of objects which dissipate the heart, excite the imagination, and bring distaste for every duty? To believe it is the saddest of illusions. Alas, how many victims this illusion has already made!
Jesus, having dismissed the clamorous crowd which surrounded the young girl, approached her, and taking her by the hand said to her: "Young girl, arise! it is I who command you." Thus it is that God approaches the sinner in the measure that he separates from the world; He takes him by the hand. This is the grace which comes to assist our weakness. "Return to God," said Cardinal Wiseman, "and do not fear the difficulties; when you would sincerely return to good, God shall place His hand in yours and you shall overcome every obstacle." O powerful Hand, Thou unitest Thyself to a hand which is cold in death; Thou deignest to touch a corpse, and Thou givest it warmth, movement, and life! O vivifying Voice, Thou piercest the depths of the abyss; the empire of Death is shaken by Thee; she recognizes her Conqueror, and Thou compellest her to restore the prey of which she took possession. Speak to my heart, O Jesus, and if it resists speak to it more loudly and its life shall be restored. It is only Thou, O my God, who, by the application of Thy merits and the interior voice of Thy grace, can recall me to life.
Third Point.—Signs of resurrection to grace. At this word of Jesus, "Arise!" the soul re-entered the body which she had abandoned, and "immediately the young girl arose and walked. And Jesus commanded that they should give her food to eat." As the soul is the principle of human life, the Holy Spirit is the principle of the supernatural life. If the soul has truly risen, the Holy Spirit dwells there again. His presence is revealed by signs which cannot be mistaken. Upon entering the heart He spreads there a certain recollection, a taste for the things of God, which contrast with the old habits of dissipation and the pleasures which made up her worldly life. The spirit of pride has given place to the spirit of modesty and humility; charity succeeds hatred; liberality succeeds selfishness. The habits of life are as different as the dispositions of the heart. He who only frequented worldly assemblies is pleased in the midst of sacred assemblies; virtuous friends surround him whom corrupting friends had seduced and led away; charity pours into the hands of the poor the money which vanity dispensed in foolish ornaments; words of salvation and edification fall from his lips, which were opened only in falsehood and frivolity; visits to the amiable Guest of the Tabernacle replace the useless visits which begot idleness; the Spirit of God has re-entered this soul.
Jesus commands that food shall be given the young girl whom He has just restored, and thus compels the most obstinate minds to Recognize the miracle which His power had just wrought. The divine Master has prepared for us in the Holy Eucharist the food which is best suitable to sustain and develop our life as Christians. He who approaches it, and approaches it often, shall find the strength to combat, lights in his doubts, consolations in his sorrows, and supernatural life shall flow in on him with superabundance. The careless soul who remains away from it exposes herself to see the life of grace languish and little by little become completely extinct in her. The desire of this heavenly bread and the eagerness to be nourished by it are the index of the soul whom the Holy Spirit animates by His breath and enlightens by His lights.
O divine Jesus, Thou givest life to the sinner, and Thou makest even the dead hear. Speak to my
heart as Thou spoke to the daughter of Jairus. Grant that I may arise and walk, that I may receive with spiritual hunger the food Thou presentest to me, in order that I may live by Thy spirit and be nourished by Thy flesh, and that by a holy life I may come to share Thy glory.
Source: Short Instructions on the Feasts of the Year, Imprimatur 1897
THAT THE UNION OF OUR WILL WITH THE GOOD-PLEASURE OF GOD TAKES PLACE PRINCIPALLY IN TRIBULATIONS.
PAINFUL things cannot indeed be loved when considered in themselves, but viewed in their source, that is, in the Divine Will and Providence which ordains them, they are supremely delightful.
Look at the rod of Moses upon the ground, and it is a hideous serpent; look upon it in Moses’s hand, and it is a wand of miracles. Look at tribulations in themselves, and they are dreadful; behold them in the will of God, and they are love and delights. How often have we turned in disgust from remedies and medicines when the doctor or apothecary offered them, which, being offered by some well-beloved hand (love surmounting our loathing), we receive with delight. In truth, love either takes away the hardship of labour, or makes it dear to us while we feel it.
It is said that there is a river in Bœotia wherein the fish appear golden, but taken out of those their native waters, they have the natural colour of other fishes: afflictions are so; if we look at them outside God’s will, they have their natural bitterness, but he who considers them in that eternal good-pleasure, finds them all golden, unspeakably lovely and precious. If Abraham had seen outside God’s will the necessity of slaying his son, think, Theotimus, what pangs and convulsions of heart he would have felt, but seeing it in God’s good-pleasure, it appears all golden, and he tenderly embraces it.
If the martyrs had looked upon their torments outside this good-pleasure, how could they have sung, in chains and flames? The truly loving heart loves God’s good-pleasure not in consolations only but in afflictions also; yea, it loves it better upon the cross in pains and difficulties, because the principal effect of love is to make the lover suffer for the thing beloved.
The Stoics, especially good Epictetus, placed all their philosophy in abstaining and sustaining, bearing and forbearing; in abstaining from and forbearing earthly delights, pleasures and honours; in sustaining and bearing wrongs, labours and trials: but Christian doctrine, which is the only true philosophy, has three principles upon which it grounds all its exercises,—abnegation of self, which is far more than to abstain from pleasures, carrying the cross, which is far more than tolerating or sustaining it, following Our Lord, not only in renouncing our self and bearing our cross, but also in the practice of all sorts of good works. But at the same time there is not so much love shown in abnegation or in action, as in suffering.
The Holy Ghost in Holy Scripture certainly signifies the death and passion which our Saviour suffered for us, to be the highest point of his love towards us.
1. To love God’s will in consolations is a good love when it is indeed God’s will that is loved, and not the consolation which is the form it takes: however, this is a love without contradiction, repugnance and effort: for who would not love so worthy a will in so agreeable a form?
2. To love the will of God in his commandments, counsels and inspirations is a second degree of love, and much more perfect, for it leads us to the renouncing and quitting of our own will, and makes us abstain from and forbear some pleasures, though not all.
3. To love sufferings and afflictions for the love of God is the supreme point of most holy charity, for there is nothing therein to receive our affection save the will of God only; there is great contradiction on the part of nature; and we not only forsake pleasures, but embrace torments and labours.
Our mortal enemy knew well what was love’s furthest and finest act, when having heard from the mouth of God that Job was just, righteous, fearing God, hating sin, and firm in innocence, he made no account of this, in comparison with bearing afflictions, by which he made the last and surest trial of the love of this great servant of God.
To make these afflictions extreme, he formed them out of the loss of all his goods and of all his children, abandonment by all his friends, an arrogant contradiction by his most intimate associates and his wife, a contradiction full of contempt, mockery and reproach; to which be added the collection of almost all human diseases, and particularly a universal, cruel, offensive, horrible ulcer over all his body.
And yet behold the great Job, king as it were of all the miserable creatures of the world, seated upon a dunghill, as upon the throne of misery, adorned with sores, ulcers, and corruption, as with royal robes suitable to the quality of his kingship, with so great an abjection and annihilation, that if he had not spoken, one could not have discerned whether Job was a man reduced to a dunghill, or the dunghill a corruption in form of a man.
Now, I say, hear the great Job crying out: If we have received good things from the hand of the Lord, why shall we not receive also evil? O God! How this word is great with love! He ponders, Theotimus, that it was from the hand of God that he had received the good, testifying that he had not so much loved goods because they were good, as because they came from the hand of the Lord; whence he concludes that he is lovingly to support adversities, since they proceed from the hand of the same Lord, which is equally to be loved when it distributes afflictions and when it bestows consolations.
Every one easily receives good things, but to receive evil is a work of perfect love, which loves them so much the more, inasmuch as they are only lovable in respect of the hand that gives them. The traveller who is in fear whether he has the right way, walks in doubt, viewing the country over, and stands in a muse at the end of almost every field to think whether he goes not astray, but he who is sure of his way walks on gaily, boldly, and swiftly: even so the love that desires to walk to God’s will through consolations, walks ever in fear of taking the wrong path, and of loving (in lieu of God’s good-pleasure) the pleasure which is in the consolation; but the love that strikes straight through afflictions towards the will of God walks in assurance, for affliction being in no wise lovable in itself, it is an easy thing only to love it for the sake of him that sends it.
The hounds in spring-time are at fault at every step, finding hardly any scent at all, because the herbs and flowers then smell so freshly that their odour puts down that of the hart or hare: in the spring-time of consolations love scarcely recognizes God’s good-pleasure, because the sensible pleasure of consolation so allures the heart, that it troubles the attention which the heart should pay to the will of God.
St. Catherine of Siena, having from our Saviour her choice of a crown of gold or a crown of thorns, chose this latter, as better suiting with love: a desire of suffering, says the Blessed (St.) Angela of Foligno, is an infallible mark of love: and the great Apostle cries out that he glories only in the cross, in infirmity, in persecution.
Treatise on the Love of God ~ St. Francis De Sale ~ Page 275-277
ALL SOULS DAY: SOULMASS: NOVEMBER 2nd
Fire has always been a symbol of immortality, and the immortality of the soul was symbolized by lighting fires during the night of All Souls; perhaps the simpler people thought that their little furze fires dotted over the hillsides would show the way to souls who were that day making their journey from purgatory to heaven!
Long after the Catholic faith had been cast out of this country, relics remained at Soulmass of the once universal praying for the dead, though, as was inevitable, these became empty and corrupt. Even in the 19th century girls still went "souling" from door to door; people baked and ate soul cakes, people, who would have abhorred the idea that the dead can be helped by prayers, would say on this day: "A soul cake, a soul cake, God have mercy on all Christian souls for a soul cake." A soul cake was a sort of oat cake, which, in Catholic times was baked specially as a gift for poor and needy people, and these people on receiving it would pray for the dead belonging to those who gave it.
All Souls' day could be made the feast day of the dead members of any family. One could pray in general for all the souls in purgatory, but surely the members of the family have first claim. Where there are children in a family one can make a soul cake for each one and ask each to undertake to pray particularly for one dead member of the family.
When the dead are buried not too far away an annual expedition could be made to the churchyard with flowers, or to tidy and clear their graves. One has only to walk through any churchyard to wish that All Souls' day could be celebrated in such a way by the whole country! In this way, starting from a quite unambitious level, children could be taught to take a real interest in the welfare of the dead members of their family and could come to have a real devotion to the souls in Purgatory.
Source: A Candle is Lighted, 1945
The Feast of All Saints, on the 1st of November, was celebrated as early as the fourth century by the Greeks, who kept a feast of all the martyrs and saints, on the first Sunday after Pentecost; and we still possess a sermon delivered on that day by St. Chrysostom. In the West, this feast was introduced by Pope Boniface IV. after he had dedicated, as the Church of the Blessed Virgin and the Martyrs, the Pantheon, which had been made over to him by the Emperor Phocas. The feast of this dedication was kept on the thirteenth of May.
About 731 Gregory III. consecrated a chapel in St. Peter's church in honor of all the saints, from which time All Saints' Day has been kept in Rome, as now, on the first of November. From about the middle of the ninth century the feast came into general observance throughout the West. It ranks as a double of the first class, with an octave. That none of the elect might be omitted in the honor and veneration due them, this feast was established.
During the course of the year the Church offers for our contemplation the feast of one saint after another, but on this day she shows us the heavens opened and the countless multitude of the Elect from all nations, races and states of life. The Church celebrates her harvest feast on this day, showing herself the true Church that leads her children to eternal bliss. The true Christian, especially should feel on this day that he also is created for heaven. The sight of so many saints that were once human, like himself, enlivens the hope within him of reaching his eternal goal. Renewed courage and strength invigorates his heart. Penetrated with a lively faith in the Communion of Saints, he confidently calls upon the inhabitants of heaven for their powerful assistance.
By far the greater number of the Elect who have attained to the beatific vision are unknown to us. The Church honors only those as saints who either have suffered martyrdom, or whose sanctity has been indisputably confirmed. In former times bishops could declare a deceased person worthy of veneration, but now this right is reserved exclusively for the Pope. For this purpose the Church has established an exceedingly strict and deliberate process, which usually develops into three degrees,—that of Venerable, Blessed, and Saint. The first step of the process
is a formal inquiry as to whether the deceased practiced the virtues in an heroic degree. If this is
attested in the affirmative, then the deceased is declared venerable. The second degree is that of beatification. The person who is to be beatified must have practiced, in the heroic degree, chiefly, the three theological virtues,—Faith, Hope and Charity, and the four cardinal virtues,—Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance, with all that these suppose and involve. It must also be proved that four or at least two miracles have been wrought by the intercession of the person whose virtues are under debate; upon which the Pope declares him or her Blessed (Beatus), by virtue of which a limited public veneration is permitted. Canonization is the third and final degree in the recognition and estimation of the virtues of a servant of God, preparatory to his or her being elevated to the altars, and commended to the perpetual veneration and invocation of Christians throughout the Catholic Church. Before proceeding to canonization it must be proved that at least two miracles have been wrought through the intercession of the blessed person since the beatification. This proof is attended with the same formalities and surrounded by the same rigorous conditions as in the case of the miracles proved before beatification, whereupon the Pope declares, that the servant of God in question shall be inscribed on the register of the Saints. Though Rome from century to century, has established many miracles with the greatest judicial rigor and exactitude still the unbelieving world persist in denying, without further examination, the truth of these miracles; even going so far as to dispute their possibility. For the thoughtful Christian, these authenticated miracles are an indisputable proof that the Catholic Church is the sanctifying Ciurch of Christ. This proof is confirmed anew at every process of beatification or canonization.
Source: The Ecclesiastical Year for Schools and Institutions, Imprimatur 1903
Holy Mother Church dedicates the month of
March to our dear
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