Monday, June 21, 2010

June 22nd: Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher

In 1534, Henry VIII of England locked John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, and Sir Thomas More, former Chancellor of England, in the Tower of London for their opposition to his seizure of control over the Church in England. After 14 months of imprisonment, Fisher knelt down for the last time -- not before the tabernacle, but before the executioner's block on Tower Hill, Tyburn. Pope Paul III had created Fisher a cardinal during his imprisonment in the hope that Henry would deal leniently with him.  But this time, the red had that symbolizes a cardinal's willingness to undergo martyrdom was more than a symbol: Henry forbade the hat to to be brought into England, undertaking instead to send Fisher's head to Rome.  The head fell on June 22, 1535.  Two weeks later, Sir Thomas followed his friend to the block.  Exactly four centuries elapsed before the pair was raised to the altar by Pope Pius XI, with a shared feast day.

In his Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, set in Hungary on the eve of the Turkish invasion, and written in the Tower of London, St. Thomas More has this to say on the subject of martyrdom, for which he himself had not long to wait:
When we feel ourselves too bold, let us remember our own feebleness, and when we feel ourselves too faint, let us remember Christ's strength.  In our fear, let us remember Christ's painful agony -- that agony which for our encouragement He suffered before His Passion, to the intent that no fear should make us despair -- and let us ever call for His help, such as He Himself is pleased to send us.  Then we need never doubt but that either He will keep us from that painful death, or else He will not fail so to strengthen us in it that He will joyously bring us to heaven by it -- in which case He does much more for us than if He kept us from it.  God did, after all, do more for poor Lazarus by helping him to die patiently of hunger at the rich man's door than if He had brought to him at the door all the rich glutton's dinner.  So though He is gracious to a person whom He delivers out of painful trouble, He ye does much more for a person if through a right painful death He delivers them from this wretched world into eternal bliss....

I think, indeed, that almost every good Christian would be very glad today to have been cruelly killed yesterday for Christ's faith -- and glad simply for desire of heaven, even if there were no hell.  The problem is the fear while the pain is coming; that's what really holds us back.  But if we would at that time remember the hell pain that lies on the other side, that pain into which we would fall by fleeing from this one, then this short pain would be no hindrance at all.  And if we were full of faith, we would be spurred on even more by a deep consideration of the joys of heaven.  As Saint Paul says, "The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" [Romans 8:18].      

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Because I Just Like Flowers

I've been a shutterbug since high school.  I used to develop my own film and make my own prints in a darkroom at school.  Being too sophisticated for color, I mostly did black-and-white pics.  I even won an award in a national competition: thirty bucks that I used to buy a polarizer filter.  Now that we have digital photography, and my computer is my darkroom, developing and printing are a lot neater and cleaner and less smelly (not to mention cheaper).  

My favorite subjects are scenes out of nature, and especially flowers.  I have hundreds of images -- and growing -- so I picked out some of my best ones and opened a store on Cafe Press.  Check out my stuff on Victory Works, where I'm gradually adding new stuff.  

And if you'd drop a little coin while you're there, I'd be extremely pleased.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Trench Priest Goes Digital

And since Fr. Doyle used whatever technology he could lay his hands on to spread the Gospel, from print to primitive slide projectors, we can assume that -- having  been reconciled in heaven to God's will regarding the publication of his spiritual writings, which he never intended to be read -- he would approve.

From the very neighborhood where Fr. Doyle grew up comes Remembering Fr. William Doyle SJ, a blog about the heroic Dubliner who prayed for -- and, on the morrow of the Assumption, 1917, received -- the grace of becoming a Jesuit martyr.  "Pope Benedict XVI, in his letter to the Church in Ireland," says the blog owner, 
has wisely outlined the path of reform for the Church. It involves a return to the sources of our faith as well as acts of reparation and penance and a recognition of the need for holiness as the antidote to scandal in the Church. Significantly, it involves remembering the rock from which we have been hewn. We must remember, and emulate, the "generous, often heroic, contributions made by past generations of Irish men and women to the Church and to humanity as a whole". These heroes of the past show us the way to renewal of the Church and the way to Christ. They present a variety of modes of behaviour, and approaches to genuine spirituality that we can adapt for our own lives.

Fr Willie Doyle SJ was one of those heroes.
It is incredible that such a hero as Fr. Doyle was has largely been forgotten.  Our latest Ally for Victory thinks so too, and has set out to remedy the situation.  Check it out, and get to know this utterly courageous, staunchly patriotic and thoroughly lovable warrior of God.   

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 13, 1917: Promises and Predictions

The war raged on.  Europe was no stranger to war; but the ferocity and the scope of this war were unprecedented.  The slaughter proceeded on an industrial scale.  And there were the new horrors, beyond all description: the blood and mud of trench warfare; poison gas; primitive tanks, whose operators could not expect to survive more than a few minutes in an engagement; and air raids over cities.  While the three shepherd children of Fatima were keeping their appointment with the Mother of God in the Cova da Iria on June 13, 1917, 18-20 German bombers struck the city of London in broad daylight, in one of the worst air raids of the war.  Four hundred people were injured, and 162 -- including 46 children -- perished. 

The peace that had fled the world had also fled Fatima, particularly in the home of Lucia dos Santos.  After the first apparition of Our Lady at the Cova da Iria, her little cousin, Jacinta, promptly broke the children's firm resolution not to tell anyone what they had seen; and thus began in earnest the sufferings the children promised to undergo for the conversion of sinners.  From this point forward, the children were hounded by inquisitors, both pious and profane, and curiosity-seekers.  But Lucia bore the added burden of persecution right at home.  Her family treated her with contempt; and her mother, who had a great horror of lying, employed every means, including corporal punishment, to make her daughter admit that she was lying.  It was hoped that the children would forget about the alleged apparitions amid the festivities of June 13th, the feast of St. Anthony of Padua.

But the children did not forget.  At noon on the feast of St. Anthony, the children were not at the festa, but at the Cova.  Lucia records in her Fourth Memoir:
As soon as Jacinta, Francisco and I had finished praying the Rosary, with a number of other people who were present, we saw once more the flash reflecting the light which was approaching (which we called lightning).  The next moment, Our Lady was there on the holmoak, exactly the same as in May.

"What do you want of me?" I asked.
"I wish you to come here on the 13th of next month, to pray the Rosary every day, and to learn to read.  Later, I will tell you what I want."
Amid the rending torments of nations, heaven remembers individuals, even the least of them, down to the last detail.
I asked for the cure of a sick person.

"If he is converted, he will be cured during the year."

"I would like to ask you to take us to heaven."
"Yes.  I will take Jacinta and Francisco soon.  But you are to stay here some time longer.  Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved.  He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart."
Some time longer...The Mother of God has a gift for understatement.  Jacinta and Francisco would both be dead within three years, but another 88 years would pass before Our Lady would come for Lucia. 
"Am I to stay here alone?"  I asked, sadly.

"No, my daughter.  Are you suffering a great deal?  Don't lose heart.  I will never forsake you.  My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God."
As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands and for the second time, she communicated to us the rays of that same immense light.  We saw ourselves in this light, as it were, immersed in God.  Jacinta and Francisco seemed to be in that part of the light which rose towards heaven, and I in that which was poured out on the earth.  In front of the palm of Our Lady's right hand was a heart encircled by thorns which pierced it.  We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, and seeking reparation.
In her Third Memoir, Lucia looks back on the effects of this second apparition on her and her cousins:
...Our Lady told me on June 13, 1917 that she would never forsake me, and that her Immaculate Heart would be my refuge and the way that would lead me to God.  As she spoke these words, she opened her hands, and from them streamed a light that penetrated to our inmost hearts.  I think that, on that day, the main purpose of this light was to infuse within us a special knowledge and love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary, just as on the other two occasions it was intended to do, as it seems to me, with regard to God and the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.

From that day onwards, our hearts were filled with a more ardent love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  From time to time, Jacinta said to me: "The Lady said that her Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.  Don't you love that?  Her Heart is so good!  How I love it!"

In the Fourth Memoir, Lucia describes more particularly the effects of this apparition on Francisco:
...Francisco was deeply impressed by the light which, as I related in the second account, Our Lady communicated to us at the moment when she said: "My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way which will lead you to God."...

He remarked sometimes:

"These people are so happy just because you told them that Our Lady wants the Rosary said, and that you are to learn to read!  How would they feel if they only knew what she showed us in God, in her Immaculate Heart, in that great light!  But this is a secret; it must not be spoken about.  It's better that no one should know it."

But greater secrets -- and greater sufferings -- were to come.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Flower Power

Well, the clouds parted for a short spell earlier this afternoon, so that gave me an opportunity to capture a few images of our fleeting spring up by the Boise Depot.

Primitive yellow roses with raindrops still inside.
I don't know what they call these abundant little white flowers, but they're pretty neat.