Category Archives: Lent

Stabat Mater

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had pass’d.

Oh, how sad and sore distress’d
Was that Mother highly blest
Of the sole-begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs;
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
Whelm’d in miseries so deep
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother’s pain untold?

Bruis’d, derided, curs’d, defil’d,
She beheld her tender child
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of His own nation,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above;
Make my heart with thine accord.

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ our Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.

Let me share with thee His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourn’d for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the cross with thee to stay,
There with thee to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins best,
Listen to my fond request
Let me share thy grief divine.

Let me, to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it hath swoon’d
In His very blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful Judgment day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
Be Thy Mother my defence,
Be Thy cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.

The Fifteen Prayers of St. Bridget of Sweden

THE FIRST PRAYER

O Jesus Christ! Eternal Sweetness to those who love You, joy surpassing all joy and all desire, Salvation and Hope of all sinners, Who have proven that You have no greater desire than to be among us, even assuming human nature at the fullness of time for the love of us, recall all the sufferings You have endured from the instant of Your conception, and especially during Your Passion, as it was decreed and ordained from all eternity in the Divine plan.

Remember, O Lord, that, during the Last Supper with Your disciples, having washed their feet, You gave them Your Most Precious Body and Blood, and while, at the same time, You sweetly consoled them, You foretold to them Your coming Passion.

Remember the sadness and bitterness which You experienced in Your Soul as You bore witness saying: “My Soul is sorrowful even unto death.”

Remember all the fear, anguish and pain that You suffered in Your delicate Body before the torment of the Crucifixion, when, after having prayed three times, bathed in a sweat of blood, You were betrayed by Judas, Your disciple, arrested by the people of a nation You had chosen and elevated, accused by false witnesses, unjustly judged by three judges during the flower of Your youth and during the solemn Paschal season.

Remember that You were despoiled of Your garments and clothed in those of derision; that Your Face and Eyes were veiled, that You were buffeted, crowned with thorns, handed a reed, crushed with blows and overwhelmed with affronts and outrages. In memory of all these pains and sufferings which You endured before Your Passion on the Cross, grant me before my death true contrition, a sincere and entire confession, worthy satisfaction and the remission of all my sins. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

THE SECOND PRAYER

O Jesus! True liberty of angels, Paradise of delights, remember the horror and sadness which You endured when Your enemies, like furious lions, surrounded You, and by thousands of insults, spits, blows, lacerations and other unheard-of-cruelties, tormented You at will. In consideration of these torments and insulting words, I beseech You, O my Saviour, to deliver me from all my enemies, visible and invisible, and to bring me, under Your protection, to the perfection of eternal salvation. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

THE THIRD PRAYER

O Jesus! Creator of Heaven and earth, Whom nothing can encompass or limit, You enfold and hold all under Your Loving power. Remember the very bitter pain You suffered when Your enemies nailed Your Sacred Hands and Feet to the Cross by blow after blow with big blunt nails, and, not finding You in a pitiable enough state to satisfy their rage, they enlarged Your Wounds, and added pain to pain, and, with indescribable cruelty, stretched Your Body on the Cross, pulling You from all sides, thus dislocating Your Limbs. I beg of You, O Jesus, by the memory of this most Loving suffering of the Cross, to grant me the grace to fear You and to Love You. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

THE FOURTH PRAYER

O Jesus! Heavenly Physician, raised aloft on the Cross to heal our wounds with Yours, remember the bruises which You suffered and the weakness of all Your Members which were distended to such a degree that never was there pain like unto Yours. From the crown of Your Head to the Soles of Your Feet there was not one spot on Your Body that was not in torment, and yet, forgetting all Your sufferings, You did not cease praying to Your Heavenly Father for Your enemies, saying: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Through this great Mercy, and in memory of this suffering, grant that the remembrance of Your Most Bitter Passion may effect in us a perfect contrition and the remission of all our sins. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

THE FIFTH PRAYER

O Jesus! Mirror of eternal splendor, remember the sadness which You experienced, when contemplating in the light of Your Divinity the predestination of those who would be saved by the merits of Your Sacred Passion, You saw at the same time, the great multitude of reprobates who would be damned for their sins, and You complained bitterly of those hopeless lost and unfortunate sinners. Through this abyss of compassion and pity, and especially through the goodness which You displayed to the good thief when You said to him, “This day, you shall be with Me in Paradise,” I beg of You, O Sweet Jesus, that, at the hour of my death, You will show me mercy. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

THE SIXTH PRAYER

O Jesus! Beloved and most desirable King, remember the grief You suffered, when, naked and like a common criminal, You were fastened and raised on the Cross, when all Your relatives and friends abandoned You, except Your Beloved Mother, who remained close to You during Your agony and whom You entrusted to Your faithful disciple when You said to Mary: “Woman, behold your son!” and to St. John: “Son, behold your Mother!”
I beg of You, O my Saviour, by the sword of sorrow which pierced the soul of Your holy Mother, to have compassion on me in all my affliction and tribulations, both corporal and spiritual, and to assist me in all my trials, and especially at the hour of my death. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

THE SEVENTH PRAYER

O Jesus! Inexhaustible Fountain of compassion, Who, by a profound gesture of Love, said from the Cross: “I thirst!” suffering from the thirst for the salvation of the human race. I beg of You, O my Saviour, to inflame in our hearts the desire to tend toward perfection in all our acts; and to extinguish in us the concupiscence of the flesh and the ardor of worldly desires. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

THE EIGHTH PRAYER

O Jesus! Sweetness of hearts, delight of the spirit, by the bitterness of the vinegar and gall which You tasted on the Cross for Love of us, grant us the grace to receive worthily Your Precious Body and Blood during our life and at the hour of our death, that they may serve as a remedy and consolation for our souls. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

THE NINTH PRAYER

O Jesus! Royal virtue, joy of the mind, recall the pain You endured when, plunged in an ocean of bitterness at the approach of death, insulted, outraged by Your own people, You cried out in a loud voice that You were abandoned by Your Father, saying: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”
Through this anguish, I beg of You, O my Saviour, not to abandon me in the terrors and pains of my death. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

THE TENTH PRAYER

O Jesus! Who are the beginning and end of all things, life and virtue, remember that for our sakes You were plunged in an abyss of suffering from the soles ofYour Feet to the crown of Your Head. In consideration of the enormity of Your Wounds, teach me to keep, through pure love, Your Commandments, whose way is wide and easy for those who love You. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

THE ELEVENTH PRAYER

O Jesus! Deep abyss of mercy, I beg of You, in memory of Your Wounds which penetrated to the very marrow of Your Bones and to the depth of Your being, to draw me, a miserable sinner, overwhelmed by my offenses, away from sin and to hide me from Your Face justly irritated against me, hide me in Your wounds, until Your anger and just indignation shall have passed away. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

THE TWELFTH PRAYER

O Jesus! Mirror of Truth, symbol of unity, link of charity, remember the multitude of wounds with which You were afflicted from head to foot, torn and reddened by the spilling of Your adorable Blood. O great and universal pain, which You suffered in Your virginal flesh for love of us! Sweetest Jesus! What is there that You could have done for us which You have not done! May the fruit of Your suffering be renewed in my soul by the faithful remembrance of Your Passion, and may Your love increase in my heart each day, until I see You in eternity: Who are the treasury of every real good and every joy, which I beg You to grant me, O Sweetest Jesus, in heaven. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

THE THIRTEENTH PRAYER

O Jesus! Strong Lion, Immortal and Invincible King, remember the pain which You endured when all Your strength, both moral and physical, was entirely exhausted, You bowed Your Head, saying: “It is consummated!” Through this anguish and grief, I beg of You, Lord Jesus, to have mercy on me at the hour of my death when my mind will be greatly troubled and my soul will be in anguish. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

THE FOURTEENTH PRAYER

O Jesus! Only Son of the Father, Splendor and Figure of His Substance, remember the simple and humble recommendation You made of Your Soul to Your Eternal Father, saying: “Father, into Your Hands I commend My Spirit!” And with Your Body all torn, and Your Heart Broken, and the bowels of Your Mercy open to redeem us, You Expired. By this Precious Death, I beg of You, O King of Saints, comfort me and help me to resist the devil, the flesh and the world, so that, being dead to the world, I may live for You alone. I beg of You at the hour of my death to receive me, a pilgrim and an exile returning to You. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

THE FIFTEENTH PRAYER

O Jesus! True and fruitful Vine! Remember the abundant outpouring of Blood which You so generously shed from Your Sacred Body as juice from grapes in a wine press. From Your Side, pierced with a lance by a soldier, blood and water issued forth until there was not left in Your Body a single drop, and finally, like a bundle of myrrh lifted to the top of the Cross, Your delicate Flesh was destroyed, the very Substance of Your Body withered, and the Marrow of Your Bones dried up.
Through this bitter Passion and through the outpouring of Your Precious Blood, I beg of You, O Sweet Jesus, to receive my soul when I am in my death agony. Amen.

Our Father …
Hail Mary …

CLOSING PRAYER:

O Sweet Jesus! Pierce my heart so that my tears of penitence and love will be my bread day and night; may I be converted entirely to You, may my heart be Your perpetual habitation, may my conversation be pleasing to You, and may the end of my life be so praiseworthy that I may merit Heaven and there with Your saints, praise You forever.

Praying the Office Online

I’ve been praying the Office since 1997 or ’98. My aunt and uncle sent me a copy of _Christian Prayer_ for, I believe, my Confirmation. My wife also had a copy she’d received from an uncle. We bought the four volume set (at least two of one). The latter is tricky because despite my best efforts, I always seem to be unable to find the correct volume for the season. The one volume versions have both fallen apart from use.

One of the goals of Vatican II was to make the Liturgy of the Hours more accessible to laity, reducing its complexity, but many people are still intimidated by all the “ribbons,” keeping track of the Psalter, the Proper of Seasons, the Proper of Saints, and the various Commons, etc.

It was about 10 years ago that I started thinking how it should be relatively easy to create an interactive version of the Office using HTML, where one could click on a link, bringing up a frame with the appropriate materials, and providing choices for optional memorials, or memorials celebrated as personal Feasts, etc.

So, I created several HTML files in Word, and made it part of my daily prayer to type the relevant sections into the appropriate files.

Then I discovered that others were already deep into similar projects, and I saw little need to recreate their work, though some of the problems still remain, as I will discuss in reviewing and linking each site in this post.

The Liturgy of the Hours is one of the oldest prayer forms in the Church, and is used by Catholics, the various Orthodox churches and many “mainline” Protestant denominations. In Roman Catholic (as opposed to Byzantine/Orthodox) theology, the Liturgy of the Hours is “public prayer” or liturgy, an extension of the Mass. To pray the Office is to pray “with the Church,” so it’s important the words be as unified as possible. This is distinguished from “private devotion.” So, in a popular internecine debate among faithful Catholics, 1,000 people saying the Rosary are in “private prayer,” while one person praying the Office under certain circumstances is engaging in “public prayer.” Catholic clergy (bishops, priests, deacons), religious (nuns, monks, friars, sisters) and members of secular orders are under canonical obligation to say the Office but also have the grace of praying “publicly” even when we’re “alone,” because in sharing the common texts that others are praying around the world, we are joining with them spiritually. For laity who are not in Third Orders, it’s still a private devotion, unless they’re saying it in community with others. Thus, the “trick” with online adaptations is whether the translations are appropriate.

Even a few years ago, there were not as many options there are now.

One of the first sites providing a daily Breviary online was Universalis, which is based out of England and provides detailed information on the degree to which its texts are approved for various English-speaking countries. It has gotten much more elaborate, of course, since 2005, and it provides apps. For those under obligation, I just discovered that Universalis provides the official Latin translations, so if you’re extra-cautious about whether the translation is official, you can always just use Latin. ūüôā

Perhaps the most popular and well-made, and the one I use most regularly, is DIvineOffice.org.
It has all its copyrights in order and uses the canonically approved texts for the US. It also has very well-made podcasts of a group of people praying the Office, with licensed hymns, and the participants (mostly volunteers who, IIRC, started the project as a way of teaching the Office to an RCIA class) alternate methods of communal praying: sometimes chanting the Psalms, sometimes repeating the antiphons, sometimes having one person read or sometimes alternating. You can read the text with no audio, listen to the audio, or read and listen. The audio usually takes about 20-25 minutes for morning prayer and 15-20 minutes for evening prayer, depending upon how much is chanted.

Before Divine Office, I used to use PrayStation Portable from Fr. Roderick Vonhogen’s SQPN. I used to also have it on an RSS feed here but found it was unreliable. Sometimes, it seems to update too quickly and you can’t find the actual links for the day. Other times, there was a delay in posting. I hope they’ve fixed those issues, but it’s been a while since I followed it. It’s just Fr. Roderick reading it, not a group of people, and much simpler, but he does include prayer requests that listeners send him as part of the General Intercessions.

Plenty of websites and apps offer the Traditional Breviary, and several sites offer the various offices of Eastern Churches.

The added challenge, which led to my most recent discovery of a treasure trove of sites, is praying “Optional Memorials,” days that are not on the “General Calendar” (such as the Discalced Carmelite Propers), days that are personal/community Feasts or Solemnities, etc.

CatholicCulture.org* has a cool Liturgical Calendar page with the Feast(s) or Saint(s) of the day on both the Extraordinary Form and Ordinary Form Roman Calendars, Collects, devotional prayer suggestions and other activities. So, if I’m looking for a Collect that’s not in DivineOffice.org, I have been turning to CatholicCulture.

Still, if it’s a day where I want, say, the Common of Doctors or the Common of the Blessed Virgin, and DivineOffice just has the regular Four Week Psalter options, I often find myself searching the Internet, and recently those searches have proven more fruitful:

Liturgy Archive is exactly what I imagined 10 years ago. It is a basic HTML page with links to every option for the entire year: the liturgical seasons, and the collect for every saint on the general calendar. It also has the Commons. So now, when it’s a Carmelite day, I go there for the Commons. I don’t know what their arrangements are with the copyright-enforcing USCCB, but it’s all there for now. Its wider “Archive” has both internal and external links for a variety of liturgical prayers from a number of Christian traditions.

iBreviary is also very good. Indeed, when I heard people say “iBreviary,” I always thought they meant “Divine Office.org”. It is based out of Italy, and defaults to Italian but offers a variety of language options, including both Latin and the official (Grail Psalter) English translations. It is a relatively simple website but is oriented towards tablets.

eBreviary offers everything in PDF format but only offers certain parts for free on its website or App and otherwise requires a subscription because of the copyrights.

More and more, with all these apps available, priests, deacons and religious are finding their confreres praying along in chapel with their phones, tablets and eReaders.

T. S. Eliot’s _Four Quartets_ “East Coker” IV

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That quesions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind us of our, and Adam’s curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood-
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

Why Kenny Rogers and John Lennon were wrong

“The best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep,” said one.
“Imagine all the people living for today,” said the other.

Our neighbors like to have bonfires on the weekends and play the radio. ¬†Usually, they do it in fall and our relatively mild winters, but, given the bad winter we’ve had, coupled with yard debris, they’ve been having them the last several weekends. ¬†When we were leaving for Mass,¬†the repulsive “Imagine” started playing on the radio at the neighbors’. ¬†I quickly started the car engine, knowing it was on Casting Crowns. ¬†I thought about switching to Fr. Antonio Vivaldi’s _Four Seasons_, but figured I’d rather hear content to get Lennon’s book of Marx out of my head (so to speak; “Imagine” came out nearly a year after “American Pie”). ¬†I didn’t, and it fit in with the weekend’s meditations.

“Imagine all the people living for today”??
That’s exactly why we’re in the mess we’re in. ¬†That’s what Thomas Hobbes famously describes as the state of nature: the war of “all against all” because everyone is “living for the moment,” and “the life of man [is] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

"YOLO? No, bro"

Living for today is a good thing if you’re focused on the eternal “today” that is our destiny.

In his address at the 1998 Seattle C. S. Lewis Institute, Peter Kreeft quoted Voltaire saying that too many people had their minds on Heaven and Hell and not on France. ¬†“I don’t know where Voltaire is now,” said Kreeft, “but, wherever he is, he’s not in France.”

Me with Peter Kreeft and Tom Howard

Me with Peter Kreeft and Tom Howard

Liturgically, this weekend’s theme of course was resurrection in anticipation of the upcoming Easter. ¬†Saturday, we also celebrated the Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, known for his preaching on¬†the Last Things, for promoting the following:

Prayer of St. Vincent Ferrer to be Sinless at the Hour of Death

Lord Jesus Christ, who willest that no man should perish, and to whom supplication is never made without the hope of mercy, for Thou saidst with Thine own holy and blessed lips: “All things whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, shall be done unto you”; I ask of Thee, O Lord, for Thy holy name’s sake, to grant me at the hour of my death full consciousness and the power of speech, sincere contrition for my sins, true faith, firm hope and perfect charity, that I may be able to say unto Thee with a clean heart: Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit: Thou hast redeemed me, O God of truth, who art blessed forever and ever. Amen.¬†

As we usually do, ironically, when I actually make it to Mass with my family, we went to the “last chance” college Mass, with a very kindly priest of the Holy Father’s generation who tends to overemphasize, as it were, “Niceness.” ¬†He gives pleasant, uplifting homilies but never really challenges people. ¬† He has a lot of good qualities, but I found his homily a bit lacking in the caution that should come with these themes.

“I am one of those who believe this life isn’t all there is.”
I should hope so.
He emphasized, “But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” (Rom 8:10).

He kind of left out the conditions “if” and “because of righteousness” and went with, “Christ is in all of us, so we’re all going to be together.” ¬†He phrased it in that “ambiguous” manner that typifies his era, but he definitely promoted presumption.
I don’t know if it was posted because of St. Vincent, or the Sunday liturgy, or just an act of Divine Inspiration, but a blogger who goes by Tantamergo at “Dallas Area Catholics” posted¬†a great piece on¬†praying for a Happy Death, particularly¬†praying for the opportunity to be conscious, as St. Vincent recommends above, so we can invoke Our Lady in our dying days, with various examples from Saints to that effect.
Thus, it was dismaying coming into Mass with those things in mind to hear Father say how most of his family were dead, and they’d all died of cancer, and he hoped to be fortunate enough to die in his sleep or suddenly!
No, the best we can hope for is not to die in our sleep; it is to die fully aware so that we’re not further punished for putting off our repentance.

Reports claim that Yellowstone is getting closer to eruption, and the animals are fleeing. ¬† Others say that the supervolcano theory hasn’t been proven, that the animals are just engaging in normal migration, etc. ¬†I say that, obviously, if they knew it was going to happen, they wouldn’t want to trigger mass chaos by saying that a mass extinction event is coming. ¬†Either way, whether it’s Yellowstone, cancer, a heart attack, a gang playing the “knock out game,” or the proverbial bus, we must all heed Our Lord’s warning to store up treasure in Heaven, not on Earth. ¬†Whether we die tomorrow or 90 years from now, we’ll still face the same personal judgement and the same two options for Eternity. ¬†We worry so much about preparing for “retirement,” or how to survive various disasters, but do we worry about what will happen if we die a sudden and unprovided death?

Daily examination of conscience
Daily devotion to Our Lady and to Our Lord’s Passion
Self-sacrifice and almsgiving
Frequent recourse to the Sacraments
and, most of all
Praying daily that we and our loved ones will experience¬†a “Happy Death,”¬†with¬†complete Confession, the Anointing, Viaticum, and the Apostolic Blessing (collectively, “Last Rites”).

These must be everyone’s priorities.

Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross

I. Jesus is condemned to death.
Pontius Pilate dares to condemn the all-holy Savior to death. No, not Pilate; but my sins have condemned Jesus to be crucified. O Jesus, have mercy on me and remember Thou didst choose to die that I may have eternal life. Let me so live that when I come to die I may find Thee a most merciful Judge, an all-loving Redeemer.

II. Jesus takes up His Cross.
Most willingly Jesus accepts and patiently bears His Cross for my sake. Will I refuse to bear my cross for His sake? No, my loving Redeemer, I will no longer seek to evade my cross, but with the Help of Thy Grace I will bear it with Christian patience and resignation and follow Thee always.

III. Jesus falls the first time.
Weakened by torments and by loss of blood, Jesus falls beneath His Cross. Alas! More truly was He crushed to earth by the number and enormity of my sins! Good Master, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. I love Thee, infinite Goodness! Help me to hate sin as the only real evil.

IV. Jesus meets His sorrowful Mother.
Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, meets Mary, the Queen of Martyrs. Oceans of grief deluge their Hearts as they face each other. They suffer thus for my sins. O Jesus, O Mary, bathe my sinful soul in a sea of true sorrow for my past offences. In all temptation I will say: `Jesus, Mary, help me!’

V. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross.
Although Jesus seems about to expire, He does not need — yet accepts — the help of Simon, since He wills to die on the Cross. Thus does He teach me charity and perseverance. O Jesus, I too will carry my cross patiently to the end and strive to lighten the cross of my fellow-men.

VI. Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus.
Jesus accepts and returns the towel to Veronica. Upon it is left the impress of His adorable Face. Alas! My sins have disfigured Thy holy Countenance. O Jesus, grant me efficacious sorrow that all sin may be erased from my soul and that Thy Grace and Thy divine Image may be stamped upon it forever.

VII. Jesus falls a second time.
My feeble resolutions, my oft-repeated sins have crushed Jesus to earth a second time. Such is the malice of habitual sin. O Jesus, grant me true repentance. Let me die a thousand times rather than have the misfortune to fall again into mortal sin! Help me to hate all sin.

VIII. Jesus meet the Women of Jerusalem.
The Savior teaches teh women not to weep for Him, but for their own sins and the sins of their children. How generous is He! O Jesus, grant that I may understand the true meaning of Thy Passion and be so inflamed with love for Thee that I may shed tears of blood over my past transgressions.

IX. Jesus falls the third time.
Consternation fills my soul when I behold the Savior fall a third time beneath the Cross. What is the cause? The incredible obstinacy of sinners who refuse to amend their lives. O Jesus, grant that I may be truly converted and suffer every evil rather than be numbered among such ungrateful sinners.

X. Jesus is stripped of His garments.
What a pitiable spectacle is this shameful stripping of Jesus! Ghastly wounds are re-opened. Blood flows afresh. What shame would be mine if the veil were torn from my soul and the world saw my hidden sins! O Jesus, help me to know all my sins and confess them with deep sorrow and true humility.

XI. Jesus is nailed to the Cross.
How can I behold the Savior shamefully nailed to the Cross and seek only comfort, wealth, and honors… and even indulge in unlawful pleasures? Jesus Crucified, help me to esteem and practice true Christian mortification that I may love only Thee and renounce the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

XII. Jesus dies on the Cross.
Jesus, my God, dies on the Cross for me. I have done nothing for Him. I too must die! O my Crucified Savior, grant that I may so live in the future that I may have no cause to fear a sudden and unprovided death. Jesus, for Thee I live. Jesus, for Thee I die!

XIII. Jesus is taken down from the Cross.
The lifeless Body of Jesus now rests in the arms of Mary. What anguish is hers as she thinks of the many souls for whom her Son shed His Precious Blood in vain! What joy to know that so many are redeemed! O my Savior, preserve me from Hell. O sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation.

XIV. Jesus is laid in the tomb.
Like Jesus, I too must lie in the grave. But Jesus rises in triumph on the third day. My buried Jesus, grant eternal rest to all who sleep in death. Have mercy on me and grant me the grace to rise to a new spiritual life, that dying to myself now, I may rise gloriously with Thee on the Last Day.
Having finished the Way of the Cross, it is commendable pray for our Holy Father, the Pope.

Lenten Reminder: He comes like a thief in the night

Reminder: whatever you do, Keep in mind you could be dead tomorrow.

People say, “What would Jesus do?”

They should really ask, “What would Jesus think?”

When you make a decision, consider that “Nothing that is hidden will remain hidden” (Lk 8:17)¬†. ¬†It’s a scary thought that everything that has ever happened will one day be known by everyone who has ever lived.

Remember the man to whom the Lord said, “You fool! ¬†Don’t you know this very night your life will be demanded of you?”(Lk 12:20) ¬†People like to prepare so much for the “future” when the “future” that seems so looming is nothing compared to the true Future that awaits after “death.” ¬†We prepare for “retirement,” and we even prepare “funeral expenses,” but do we really prepare ourselves for Death and Judgement? ¬†Or do we presume on God’s mercy? I know I do far too much of the latter.

One of the Devil’s greatest lies is that we have plenty of time.

Yet we’re told, by the voices of advertising that taunt us to break the 9th and 10th¬†Commandments, that we have lots of time and need to “prepare” (not to store up treasure in Heaven), or that we have no time at all.

Fukushima;¬†ever-impending nuclear war with Russia, Iran, North Korea, China or whomever; Climate change; bee depopulation; GMOs and various -icides: the media, new and old, are constantly telling us of the things that are going to kill us all before we know it, to create panic and get us to but stuff, not to get us to get right with God. ¬†In the meantime, every one of us is a blood pressure spike or clot away from death–some of us are just more keenly aware of that fact.

Repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand!

Catholics suddenly realize they should boycott anti-Catholic beer company

This is old news by now, but Guinness and several other beer companies boycotted this year’s New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade over the longstanding fight about allowing “GLBTQ” people to march in the parade *as GLBTQ* proponents, and as if they don’t have enough events and parades to participate in.

This debate, especially with the addition of the beer controversy gets to the heart of “St. Patrick’s Day.” ¬†As I say every year, half-serious/half-joking, “I oppose the secularization of St. Patrick’s Day.”

The problem is that St. Patrick’s Day has become a festival of “Irishness” and nothing at all about sanctity. ¬†We celebrate a Saint who is credited with driving the “snakes” (demons, and while many point out that snakes are not indigenous to Ireland, snake-worship was part of the Druidic religion) out of Ireland by promoting leprechauns. ¬†We celebrate a Saint who taught the trinity using the example of a three-leaf shamrocks by promoting four-leaf clovers. ¬†We use the “luck of the Irish,” a term originally meant ironically like “Murphy’s Law” as actual “luck.”

Leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day should be like “Krampuses” and similar European traditions on St. Nicholas Day: reminders that demons are slaves to Jesus and the Saints, and they only have power over us if we let them.

Now we have Guinness Beer, a company long associated with St. Patrick’s Day because it’s Irish, a company that started the eponymous¬†Book of World Records to provide trivia for guys to argue about in bars, and a company that was founded by a bloody Protestant!!!

We rarely buy beer, usually only for visiting in-laws or for cooking, and before she found out she was allergic to wheat, the only beer my wife ever drank was Killian’s. ¬†A year ago, before we left for my surgery in Charleston, I bought a box of Killian’s for my father-in-law, and it’s still sitting in our laundry room unopened. ¬†However, we refused to ever buy anything from Guinness about 10 years ago when we saw an ad on TV where they depicted St. Patrick getting drunk in a bar and flirting with scantily-clad women on his knee.

Then there was the year in Columbia when we were trying to go to St. Joseph’s Day Mass at St. Joseph’s Church but were late for Mass because traffic was diverted for a city St. Patrick’s Parade, and parade-goers were using the church’s parking lot! People complain about children’s candy on Easter and All Saint’s Eve (“Halloween”), or candy and presents on Christmas. ¬†But the debauchery associated with St. Patrick’s Day, especially as it usually falls in the middle of Great Fast, has long been a scandal to me. ¬†Feasting and celebrating is one thing. ¬†Getting drunk and acting lewd (or worse) is another.

Things would improve in our culture if Catholics went back to celebrating Feasts with actual Eucharistic Processions and gave up on these secular parades altogether.  Maybe if we gave half the attention to praying the Office and attending Mass that we do to planning and fighting over secular parades, Christmas trees, etc., we would both have a more fulfilling celebration of holidays and see genuine improvement in society.

Lenten Spirituality: Why do We Fast?

Jesus in the Desert

Jesus fasted completely for 40 Days, and we complain about fasting for 2 and giving up meat on Fridays?


Often, we hear pragmatic explanations of fasting, to try and make it more acceptable to a modern “consciousness,” such as “we fast to save money to give more to the poor.” ¬†While that certainly has some grounding in Tradition, it is not the principle reason for fasting. ¬†Fasting and self-denial are about recognizing that this is not our true home.

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilites, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. (C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”)

It is about recognizing that we are, ultimately, immortal, and  that we must not become attached to temporary things like electric lighting and seek reward in this life.

[1] Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven. [2] Therefore when thou dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honoured by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. [3] But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth. [4] That thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee. [5] And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. (Matthew 6:1-5, Douay-Rheims).

We deny ourselves to imitate Jesus,

[6] Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. [8] He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:6-8, Douay-Rheims)

To imitate Jesus, we must so empty ourselves and take the form of slaves:

[21] Jesus saith to him: If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me. [22] And when the young man had heard this word, he went away sad: for he had great possessions. [23] Then Jesus said to his disciples: Amen, I say to you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. [24] And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. [25] And when they had heard this, the disciples wondered very much, saying: Who then can be saved? (Matthew 19:21-25, Douay).

This is why prayer is more effective when accompanied by fasting, as Our Lord teaches:

[19] Jesus said to them: Because of your unbelief. For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence hither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you.[20] But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:19-20, Douay)

Lenten spirituality tip: Offering it up

It should be kindergarten level spirituality, but we all bear reminding now and then to offer *everything* up.¬† I’ve been making an extra effort the past day or so to do it, and it has been rather amazing, at least for my own piece of mind.¬† Every time something comes up that’s worrisome, or I think of someone (at all, for any reason), I try to say a quick prayer for that person or intention: a simple “St. [Insert patron here], pray for us,” or “Jesus, I trust in You!”¬† will do.¬† I find “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!” and “O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You!”¬† to be particularly effective.
Of course, there are always the Pater, the Ave, the Creed, the St. Michael Prayer or the Guardian Angel Prayer, but the simple “one liners” are both more practical for praying about *everything*, and also better about helping us to surrender.¬† lvfatima

Know where You Are on the Liturgical Calendar

It can be confusing keeping track of saints and feast days, particularly in regard to the General Calendar, Local Calendars, and if you are at all involved with an Order.¬† I’ve been asked from time to time to provide guidance for people trying to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and I’m always looking for convenient “One stop Shop” options for my own prayer life.

Well, I’ve spent most of the past day and night working on a Spreadsheet that gets that process started.¬† It is ready for beta-testing.¬† Right now, all it does is calculate what day of what Season it is, and what the celebrations are, if any.

If you want to try it out, download the following attachment: Collects.

Here’s how it works (I’ve only uploaded it in Excel 2007+ format):

1.¬† The first page of the Spreadsheet, currently simply “Sheet1”, announces the date, the day of the liturgical week, and what if any special feasts or memorials are designated for today according to your preferences (see below).¬† If you are following along with the Office, then you’ll know to turn to the Proper of Saints and the appropriate Common for the kind of Saint.¬† Eventually, I hope to add features where it will automatically provide the pages, and maybe even the collects, antiphons and reading references.¬† Right now, though, it just tells you what’s going on in the most general sense.

2.¬† Here’s the fun part.¬† The second tab is called “Preferences.”¬† I give you a list of religious orders (Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan, Benedictine and even Anglican Ordinariate).¬† If you wish to use the calendar of one of those Orders, enter its number at the top of the list (as I am a Carmelite, the default option is 1).

Next, it asks for Nationality.¬† I’ve done the major English-speaking countries: US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malta and Ireland.¬† Again, each has a number.¬† Enter the number that corresponds to your homeland.

4.¬† The Third tab on the Spreadsheet is called “Saints” and is the calendar of saints.¬† I have a special column there for “Patrons.”¬† If you want to highlight a patron saint of you or your family, or else you want to add a special patron saint or celebration that’s not already listed, enter it in that column.¬†¬† You could put in anniversaries, birthdays or parish dedication days if you want to include those in your Office.

5.¬† The next tab is called “Liturgical Seasons.”¬† Don’t mess with this, as it’s carefully programmed, and some columns are hidden, but based upon the dates of Easter and Christmas for the year, it calculates the entire liturgical year, from last Advent through next Christmas.

The calendar year’s Christmas will always be under “next,” and the Calendar year’s Christmas season and epiphany will always be under “Last.”

But I put a lot of work into looking up the algorithms for calculating Easter and Ordinary Time.

The last sheet is called Calculations–don’t even go there; a lot of the background formulae are there.

Hope this helps a bit.¬† As I add features, I’ll repost it.

Lenten Poetry Series: Kathleen Raine’s “Sorrow’

“Sorrow is true for everyone–a word
That illiterate men may read
By divining in the heat
God’s human name, and natural shroud.

Sorrow is deep and vast–we travel on
As far as pain can penetrate, to the end
Of power and possibility; to find
The contours of the world, with heaven aligned
Upon infinity; the shape of man!”

Lenten Poetry Series: St. John of the Cross’s “Living Flame of Love”

1. O living flame of love
That tenderly wounds my soul
In its deepest center! Since
Now you are not oppressive,
Now consummate! if it be your will:
Tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!

2. O sweet cautery,
O delightful wound!
O gentle hand! O delicate touch
That tastes of eternal life
And pays every debt!
In killing you changed death to life.

3. O lamps of fire!
in whose splendors
The deep caverns of feeling,
Once obscure and blind,
Now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
Both warmth and light to their Beloved.

4. How gently and lovingly
You wake in my heart,
Where in secret you dwell alone;
And in your sweet breathing,
Filled with good and glory,
How tenderly You swell my heart with love.

Lenten Poetry Series: Edwin Muir’s “The Killing”

That was the day they killed the Son of God
On a squat hill-top by Jerusalem.
Zion was bare, her children from their maze
Sucked by the dream of curiosity
Clean through the gates. The very halt and blind
Had somehow got themselves up to the hill.
After the ceremonial preparation,
The scourging, nailing, nailing against the wood,
Erection of the main-trees with their burden,
While from the hill rose an orchestral wailing,
They were there at last, high up in the soft spring day.
We watched the writhings, heard the moanings, saw
The three heads turning on their separate axles
Like broken wheels left spinning. Round his head
Was loosely bound a crown of plaited thorn
That hurt at random, stinging temple and brow
As the pain swung into its envious circle.
In front the wreath was gathered in a knot
That as he gazed looked like the last stump left
Of a death-wounded deer’s great antlers. Some
Who came to stare grew silent as they looked,
Indignant or sorry. But the hardened old
And the hard-hearted young, although at odds
From the first morning, cursed him with one curse,
Having prayed for a Rabbi or an armed Messiah
And found the Son of God. What use to them
Was a God or a Son of God? Of what avail
For purposes such as theirs? Beside the cross-foot,
Alone, four women stood and did not move
All day. The sun revolved, the shadows wheeled,
The evening fell. His head lay on his breast,
But in his breast they watched his heart move on
By itself alone, accomplishing its journey.
Their taunts grew louder, sharpened by the knowledge
That he was walking in the park of death,
Far from their rage. Yet all grew stale at last,
Spite, curiosity, envy, hate itself.
They waited only for death and death was slow
And came so quietly they scarce could mark it.
They were angry then with death and death’s deceit.

I was a stranger, could not read these people
Or this outlandish deity. Did a God
Indeed in dying cross my life that day
By chance, he on his road and I on mine?

Fulton Sheen on Palm Sunday

“It was the month of Nisan. The Book of Exodus ordered that in this month the Paschal Lamb was to be selected, and four days later was to be taken to the place where it was to be sacrificed. On Palm Sunday, the Lamb was chosen by popular acclaim in Jerusalem; on Good Friday He was sacrificed” (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ., Ch. 33 p. 272).

Bishop Sheen points out that the request for teh donkey (Luke 19:31) embodies the paradox of the Incarnation: “the LORD has need of it.” God humbled himself to share in our humanity. He who has no need, who is “that greater than which nothing can be imagined” chose to have need. “It is sufficient for those who know Him to hear: ‘The Lord hath need of it'” (Life of Christ, Ch. 33, p. 273).

Until this point, Jesus has always discouraged people’s praise and proclamation, commanding them to silence. On Palm Sunday, for the first time, He encourages their celebration. Even the Pharisees acknowledge the world is turning to Jesus.

“His ‘Hour’ had come. It was time now for Him to make the last public affirmation of His claims. He knew it would lead to Calvary, and His Ascension adn the establishment of His Kingdom on earth. Once He acknowledged their praise, then there were only two courses open to the city: confess Him as did Peter, or crucifiy. Either He was their King, or else they would have no king but Caesar” (Life of Christ, Ch. 33, p. 274).

Sheen goes on to discuss the prophecy of Zechariah that Jerusalem’s king would come riding on a donkey. Great conquerers always ride on horseback, “sometimes over the prostrate bodies of their foes” (Life of Christ 274). But Christ comes on an ass.

“How Pilate, if he was looking out of his fortress that Sunday, must have been amused by the ridiculous spectacle of a man being proclaimed as a King, and yet seated on the beast that wa sthe symbol of the outcast[. . . .] If He had entered into the city with regal pomp in the manner of conquerors, He would have given occasion to believe He was a political Messias. But the circumstances He chose validated His claim taht His Kingdom was not of this world. There is no suggestion that this pauper King was a rival of Caesar” (Life of Christ, p. 275).

Conversely, the adoration of the people exceeds that which they might give to a mere King :they give him the adoration of a God.

Discussing the response of Christ to the Pharisees’ complaints (Luke 19:40), Sheen points out, “Stones ar ehard, but if they would cry out, then how much harder must be the hearts of men who woudl not recognize God’s mercy before them” (Life of Christ, p. 276).

(edition is New York: McGraw-Hill, 1958.)

Lenten Poetry Series: Ben Jonson’s “Hear Me, O God”

Hear me, O God!
A broken heart
Is my best part.
Use still thy rod,
That I may prove
Therein thy Love.

If thou hadst not
Been stern to me,
But left me free,
I had forgot
Myself and thee.

For sin’s so sweet,
As minds ill-bent
Rarely repent,
Until they meet
Their punishment.

Who more can crave
Than thou hast done?
That gav’st a Son,
To free a slave,
First made of nought;
With all since bought.

Sin, Death, and Hell
His glorious name
Quite overcame,
Yet I rebel
And slight the same.

But I’ll come in
Before my loss
Me farther toss,
As sure to win
Under His cross.

Lenten Poetry Series: Joseph Mary Plunkett’s “I see His Blood Upon the Rose”

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice‚ÄĒand carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

Lenten Poetry Series: Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord”

THOU art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?

Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend, 5
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
Now leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again 10
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
Them; birds build‚ÄĒbut not I build; no, but strain,
Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.

Lenten Poetry Series: C. S. Lewis’s “Lenten Lands”

” Here the whole world (stars, water, air,
And field, and forest, as they were
Reflected in a single mind)
Like cast off clothes was left behind
In ashes, yet with hopes that she,
Re-born from holy poverty,
In lenten lands, hereafter may
Resume them on her Easter Day. ”
Lewis originally wrote this on honor of Charles Williams but reused it and adapted it for the epitaph of his wife, Joy Davidman

Lenten Poetry Series: Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Translation of St. Francis Xavier’s “O Deus Ego Amo Te”

0 GOD, I love thee, I love thee-
Not out of hope of heaven for me
Nor fearing not to love and be
In the everlasting burning.
Thou, thou, my Jesus, after me
Didst reach thine arms out dying,
For my sake sufferedst nails, and lance,
Mocked and marred countenance,
Sorrows passing number,
Sweat and care and cumber,
Yea and death, and this for me,
And thou couldst see me sinning:
Then I, why should not I love thee,
Jesu, so much in love with me?
Not for heaven’s sake;
not to be out of hell by loving thee;
Not for any gains I see;
But just the way that thou didst me
I do love and I will love thee:
What must I love thee, Lord, for then?
For being my king and God. Amen.