Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sunday, July 2, 2017 - Litany Lane Blog: Empathy, Second Kings 4:8-16, Psalms 89, Matthew 10:37-42, Pope Francis's Angelus, Inspirational Hymns - Gregorian Chants, Our Lady of Medjugorje Message, Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostolic Age, Hagiography, Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mystical City of God Book 7 Chapter 4 Solicitude of Mary for the Apostles and the Faithful, Book 7 Chapter 5 The Apostles Creed, Catholic Catechism - Part Three - The Life of the Christ - Chapter 2 Ten Commandments Article 9 Ninth Commandment - Thou Shalt Not Covet, RECHARGE: Heaven Speaks to Young Adults

Sunday, July 2, 2017 - Litany Lane Blog:

Empathy, Second Kings 4:8-16, Psalms 89, Matthew 10:37-42, Pope Francis's Angelus, Inspirational Hymns - Gregorian Chants,  Our Lady of Medjugorje Message, Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostolic Age, Hagiography, Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mystical City of God Book 7 Chapter 4 Solicitude of Mary for the Apostles and the Faithful, Book 7 Chapter 5 The Apostles Creed, Catholic Catechism - Part Three - The Life of the Christ - Chapter 2 Ten Commandments Article 9 Ninth Commandment - Thou Shalt Not Covet, RECHARGE: Heaven Speaks to Young Adults

JESUS I TRUST IN YOU (Year of Mercy). "Always Trust in Jesus, He the beacon of light amongst the darkest clouds" ~ Zarya Parx 2016

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). A remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience, tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7. ~ Zarya Parx 2015

"Where There is a Will, With God, There is a Way", "There is always a ray of sunshine amongst the darkest Clouds, the name of that ray is Jesus" ~ Zarya Parx 2014

The world begins and ends everyday for someone.  We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift of knowledge, reason and free will, make the most of these gifts. Life on earth is a stepping stone to our eternal home in Heaven. The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, wonder and awe (fear of the Lord) , counsel, knowledge, fortitude, and piety (reverence) and shun the seven Deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony...Its your choice whether to embrace the Gifts of the Holy Spirit rising towards eternal light or succumb to the Seven deadly sins and lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to the Darkness, Purgatory or Heaven is our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...~ Zarya Parx 2013

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Liturgical Cycle:  A -  Gospel of Matthew  -  13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Daily Rosary

 (MON, SAT) - Joyful Mysteries
(TUES, FRI) - Sorrowful Mysteries
(WED,SUN) -  Glorious Mysteries
(THURS) - Luminous Mysteries


Inspirational Hymns

Illuminations (Gregorian Chants)
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Illumination: Peaceful Gregorian Chants

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Our Lady of Medjugorje Monthly Messages

July 2, 2017 message from Our Lady of Medjugorje:

Dear children, Thank you for continuing to respond to my invitations and for gathering here around me, your heavenly mother. I know that you are thinking of me with love and hope. I, too, feel love for all of you, just as my most beloved Son also feels it: He who, through his merciful love, is always sending me to you anew; He who was man; He who was and is God - one and triune; He who suffered in body and soul for your sake; He who made Himself bread to feed your souls and thus to save them. My children, I am teaching you how to be worthy of His love, to direct your thoughts to Him, to live my Son. Apostles of my love, I am covering you with my mantle, because as a mother I desire to protect you. I am imploring you to pray for the whole world. My heart is suffering. Sins are multiplying, they are too numerous. But with the help of those of you who are humble, modest, filled with love, hidden and holy, my heart will triumph. Love my Son above all and the whole world through Him. Never forget that each of your brothers, within himself, carries something precious – the soul. Therefore, my children, love all those who do not know my Son, so that through prayer and the love which comes through prayer, they may become better; that the goodness in them could win; that souls could be saved and have eternal life. My apostles, my children, my Son told you to love one another. May this be inscribed in your hearts and with prayer, try to live that love. Thank you. ~ Blessed Mother Mary

June 25, 2017 - 36th Anniversary message from Our Lady of Medjugorje: 

“Dear children!
Today, I desire to thank you for your perseverance and call you to open yourselves to profound prayer. Prayer, little children, is the heart of faith and is hope in eternal life. Therefore, pray with the heart until your heart sings with thanksgiving to God the Creator who gave you life. I am with you, little children, and carry to you my motherly blessing of peace. Thank you for having responded to my call.”


 Papam Franciscus
(Pope Francis)

Pope Francis Angelus:

Feasts of Saints Peter and Paul

(Vatican Radio)

The liturgy today offers us three words essential for the life of an apostle: confession, persecution and prayer.

Confession. Peter makes his confession of faith in the Gospel, when the Lord’s question turns from the general to the specific. At first, Jesus asks: “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” (Mt 16:13). The results of this “survey” show that Jesus is widely considered a prophet. Then the Master puts the decisive question to his disciples: “But you, who do you say that I am?” (v. 15). At this point, Peter alone replies: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). To confess the faith means this: to acknowledge in Jesus the long-awaited Messiah, the living God, the Lord of our lives.

Today Jesus puts this crucial question to us, to each of us, and particularly to those of us who are pastors. It is the decisive question. It does not allow for a non-committal answer, because it brings into play our entire life. The question of life demands a response of life. For it counts little to know the articles of faith if we do not confess Jesus as the Lord of our lives. Today he looks straight at us and asks, “Who am I for you?” As if to say: “Am I still the Lord of your life, the longing of your heart, the reason for your hope, the source of your unfailing trust?” Along with Saint Peter, we too renew today our life choice to be Jesus’ disciples and apostles. May we too pass from Jesus’ first question to his second, so as to be “his own” not merely in words, but in our actions and our very lives.

Let us ask ourselves if we are parlour Christians, who love to chat about how things are going in the Church and the world, or apostles on the go, who confess Jesus with their lives because they hold him in their hearts. Those who confess Jesus know that they are not simply to offer opinions but to offer their very lives. They know that they are not to believe half-heartedly but to “be on fire” with love. They know that they cannot just “tread water” or take the easy way out, but have to risk putting out into the deep, daily renewing their self-offering. Those who confess their faith in Jesus do as Peter and Paul did: they follow him to the end – not just part of the way, but to the very end. They also follow the Lord along his way, not our own ways. His way is that of new life, of joy and resurrection; it is also the way that passes through the cross and persecution.

Here, then, is the second word: persecution. Peter and Paul shed their blood for Christ, but the early community as a whole also experienced persecution, as the Book of Acts has reminded us (cf. 12:1). Today too, in various parts of the world, sometimes in silence – often a complicit silence – great numbers of Christians are marginalized, vilified, discriminated against, subjected to violence and even death, not infrequently without due intervention on the part of those who could defend their sacrosanct rights.

Here I would especially emphasize something that the Apostle Paul says before, in his words, “being poured out as a libation” (2 Tim 4:6). For him, to live was Christ (cf. Phil 1:21), Christ crucified (cf. 1 Cor 2:2), who gave his life for him (cf. Gal 2:20). As a faithful disciple, Paul thus followed the Master and offered his own life too. Apart from the cross, there is no Christ, but apart from the cross, there can be no Christian either. For “Christian virtue is not only a matter of doing good, but of tolerating evil as well” (Augustine, Serm. 46,13), even as Jesus did. Tolerating evil does not have to do simply with patience and resignation; it means imitating Jesus, carrying our burden, shouldering it for his sake and that of others. It means accepting the cross, pressing on in the confident knowledge that we are not alone: the crucified and risen Lord is at our side. So, with Paul, we can say that “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken” (2 Cor 4:8-9).

Tolerating evil means overcoming it with Jesus, and in Jesus’ own way, which is not the way of the world. This is why Paul – as we heard – considered himself a victor about to receive his crown (cf. 2 Tim 4:8). He writes: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (v. 7). The essence of his “good fight” was living for: he lived not for himself, but for Jesus and for others. He spent his life “running the race”, not holding back but giving his all. He tells us that there is only one thing that he “kept”: not his health, but his faith, his confession of Christ. Out of love, he experienced trials, humiliations and suffering, which are never to be sought but always accepted. In the mystery of suffering offered up in love, in this mystery, embodied in our own day by so many of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted, impoverished and infirm, the saving power of Jesus’ cross shines forth.

The third word is prayer. The life of an apostle, which flows from confession and becomes self-offering, is one of constant prayer. Prayer is the water needed to nurture hope and increase fidelity. Prayer makes us feel loved and it enables us to love in turn. It makes us press forward in moments of darkness because it brings God’s light. In the Church, it is prayer that sustains us and helps us to overcome difficulties. We see this too in the first reading: “Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church” (Acts 12:5). A Church that prays is watched over and cared for by the Lord. When we pray, we entrust our lives to him and to his loving care. Prayer is the power and strength that unite and sustain us, the remedy for the isolation and self-sufficiency that lead to spiritual death. The Spirit of life does not breathe unless we pray; without prayer, the interior prisons that hold us captive cannot be unlocked.

May the blessed Apostles obtain for us a heart like theirs, wearied yet at peace, thanks to prayer. Wearied, because constantly asking, knocking and interceding, weighed down by so many people and situations needing to be handed over to the Lord; yet also at peace, because the Holy Spirit brings consolation and strength when we pray. How urgent it is for the Church to have teachers of prayer, but even more so for us to be men and women of prayer, whose entire life is prayer!

The Lord answers our prayers. He is faithful to the love we have professed for him, and he stands beside us at times of trial. He accompanied the journey of the Apostles, and he will do the same for you, dear brother Cardinals, gathered here in the charity of the Apostles who confessed their faith by the shedding of their blood. He will remain close to you too, dear brother Archbishops who, in receiving the pallium, will be strengthened to spend your lives for the flock, imitating the Good Shepherd who bears you on his shoulders. May the same Lord, who longs to see his flock gathered together, also bless and protect the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, together with my dear brother Bartholomew, who has sent them here as a sign of our apostolic communion.


  • Vatican News. From the Pope. © Copyright 2017 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Accessed - 07/02/2017


Today's Word  - Empathy  [em-puh-thee]

Origin:  1900-05; < Greek empátheia affection, equivalent to em- em-2+ path- (base of páschein to suffer) + -eia -ia; present meaning translates German Einfühlung

1.  the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
2. the imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself: By means of empathy, a great painting becomes a mirror of the self


Today's Old Testament Reading -  Second Kings 4:8-11, 14-16

8 One day as Elisha was on his way to Shunem, a woman of rank who lived there pressed him to stay and eat there. After this he always broke his journey for a meal when he passed that way.
9 She said to her husband, 'Look, I am sure the man who is constantly passing our way must be a holy man of God.
10 Let us build him a small walled room, and put him a bed in it, and a table and chair and lamp; whenever he comes to us he can rest there.'
11 One day when he came, he retired to the upper room and lay down.
14 'What can I do for you then?' he asked. Gehazi replied, 'Well, she has no son and her husband is old.'
15 Elisha said, 'Call her.' The servant called her and she stood at the door.
16 'This time next year', he said, 'you will hold a son in your arms.' But she said, 'No, my lord, do not deceive your servant.'


Today's Psalms -  Psalms 89:2-3, 16-17, 18-19

2 for you have said: love is built to last for ever, you have fixed your constancy firm in the heavens.
3 'I have made a covenant with my Chosen One, sworn an oath to my servant David:
16 In your name they rejoice all day long, by your saving justice they are raised up.
17 You are the flower of their strength, by your favour our strength is triumphant;
18 for to Yahweh belongs our shield, to the Holy One of Israel our king.
19 Once you spoke in a vision, to your faithful you said: 'I have given strength to a warrior, I have raised up a man chosen from my people.


Today's Gospel Reading - Matthew 10: 37-42

Renouncing all to follow Jesus"No one who prefers father or mother to me 
is worthy of me!"
Matthew 10:37-42

1. Opening prayer
Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection. 

Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.

2. Reading
b) A division of the text to help with the reading:
Matthew 10:37: Love of Jesus must be above love of father and mother and children
Matthew 10:38: The cross is part of the following of Jesus
Matthew 10:39: To know how to lose one’s life so as to keep it
Matthew 10:40-41: Jesus identifies himself with the missionary and the disciple
Matthew 10:42: The least deed done to one of the least is rewarded

b) A key to the reading:
In the 13th Sunday of ordinary time, we meditate on the last section of the Discourse on Mission (Mt 10:1-42). This discourse contains words and counsels of Jesus, teaching us to carry out the mission of proclaiming the Good News of God. Jesus does not deceive, and points out clearly the difficulties that this mission implies. As we read this text, it is good to pay attention to what follows: “What is Jesus’ basic demand of those who go on mission?”

c) The Gospel:
37 'No one who prefers father or mother to me is worthy of me. No one who prefers son or daughter to me is worthy of me. 38 Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. 39 Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. 40 'Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 'Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will have a prophet's reward; and anyone who welcomes an upright person because he is upright will have the reward of an upright person. 42 'If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then in truth I tell you, he will most certainly not go without his reward.'

3. A moment of prayerful silence
so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

4. Some questions
to help us in our personal reflection.
a) What part of the text touched you most? Why?
b) What recommendations does this text hold for us? What is its basic demand? 
c) Jesus says: "No one who prefers father or mother to me is worthy of me” – How must we understand this statement?
d) What does the text tell us about the mission we must undertake as disciples of Jesus?

5. For those who wish to go deeper into the topic
a) The context of our text in the Gospel of Matthew:
The Gospel of Matthew organizes the words and actions of Jesus around five great discourses: (i) Matthew 5 to 7: The Discourse of the Mountain describes the gateway to the Kingdom. (ii) Matthew 10: the Discourse on the Mission describes the way those who follow Jesus must proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom and the difficulties involved. (iii) Matthew 13: the Discourse of the Parables, by means of parallels taken from daily life, Jesus reveals the presence of the Kingdom in people’s lives. (iv) Matthew 18: the Discourse on Community describes how Christians ought to live together in such a way that the community becomes a revelation of the Kingdom. (v) Matthew 24 and 25: the Eschatological Discourse describes the future coming of the Kingdom of God. Through this literary device, Matthew imitates the five books of the Pentateuch, and thus presents the Good News of the Kingdom as the New Law of God. 

In the Discourse on the Mission (Mt 10:1-42), the Evangelist puts together words and recommendations of Jesus that shed light on the difficult situation of the Judeo-Christians towards the second half of the first century. He wants to encourage them not to lose heart in spite of the many and grave difficulties they have to face in proclaiming the Good News to the brothers and sisters of their race. It is indeed at this time, the 80’s, that the Jews are recovering from the disaster of the destruction of Jerusalem which took place in the 70’s, and are beginning to reorganize themselves in the regions of Syria and Galilee. A tension is growing between the “Synagogue” and the “Ecclesia”. This tension, source of much suffering and persecution, forms the background to the Discourse on the Mission and, thus, to the Gospel of the 13th Sunday of ordinary time.

b) A commentary on the text:
Matthew 10:37: Love of Jesus must be greater than love of parents and childrenJesus says: “No one who prefers father or mother to me is worthy of me; no one who prefers son or daughter to me is worthy of me”. We find this same statement in the Gospel of Luke with even greater force: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26). Does Jesus then want to disintegrate family life? This cannot be so, because elsewhere he insists on the observance of the fourth commandment which binds us to love father and mother (Mk 7:8-13; 10:17-19). He himself obeyed his parents (Lk 2:51). These seem to be contradictory statements. One thing is certain: Jesus does not contradict himself. We shall give an interpretation to show that the two statements are both true and not mutually exclusive.

Matthew 10:38: The cross is part of following JesusJesus says: “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me”. In Mark’s Gospel Jesus says: “If anyone wishes to come after me. let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me!” (Mk 8:34). In those days, the cross was the death sentence imposed by the Roman Empire for thieves and the marginalized. To take up one’s cross and follow Jesus was equivalent to accepting being marginalized by the unjust system of the Empire. Jesus’ cross is the consequence of the free commitment taken on to reveal the Good News that God is Father and that, therefore, all are to be accepted and treated as brothers and sisters. Because of this revolutionary proclamation, Jesus was persecuted and was not afraid to give up his life. Greater love than this no man has, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Matthew 10:39: To know how to lose one’s life so as to keep itThis manner of speaking was quite common among the early Christians because it expressed what they were living through. For instance, for Paul to be faithful to Jesus and obtain life, he had to lose everything he had, career, the respect of his people, and suffer persecution. The same happened to many Christians. Christians were persecuted for being Christian. Paul says: “I am crucified with Christ”. “I wish to experience his cross and his death, so that I may also experience his resurrection.” “I am crucified to the world and the world to me”. This is the paradox of the Gospel: The last is first, the one who loses wins, the one who gives all keeps all, the one who dies lives. The one who has the courage to lose life obtains it. This is a logic that is quite different from the neo-liberal system that rules the world today.

Matthew 10:40-41: Jesus identifies himself with the missionary and the discipleFor the missionary and the disciple, it is very important to know that he/she will never be alone. If she/he remains faithful to her/his mission, she/he will have the certainty that Jesus identifies himself with her/him, and through Jesus the Father will reveal himself to those to whom the missionary and disciple proclaim the Good News. And so, just as Jesus reflected the face of the Father, so also the disciple must or should be a mirror where people can glimpse something of the love of Jesus.

Matthew 10:42: The least deed done for the little ones, reveals the presence of the FatherIn order to change the world and human relationships, the political decisions of powerful persons are not enough, nor are the decrees of Councils and of bishops. What is needed is a change in the lives of people, in interpersonal and community relationships otherwise nothing will change. That is why Jesus puts so much importance on small acts of sharing: a glass of water given to a poor person!

c) A deepening: To love father and mother, to hate father and mother!
One of the things that Jesus insists on for those who wish to follow him is that of leaving behind father, mother, wife, children, sisters, house, land, to leave everything for love of Him and his Gospel (Lk 18: 29; Mt 19:29; Mk 10:29). He even commands us “to hate father, mother, wife, children, sisters, brothers. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciples” (cf Lk 14:28). These demands are not just for some but for all those who wish to follow him (Lk 14:25-26.33). How can we understand these statements that seem to dismantle and break up all family ties? We cannot imagine Jesus demanding of all men and women in Galilee to leave their families, lands, villages to follow him. In fact, this did not happen except for a small group of followers. So what is the meaning of these demands?

If we place the demand to leave one’s family within the social context of the period, we can see another meaning, much more fundamental and practical. The invasion of Palestine in 64 B.C. and the imposition of the tribute by Herod (35 to 3 B.C.) and his son Herod Antipas (3 B.C. to 37 A.D.), a policy in favor of the Roman government, brought progressive impoverishment and growing unemployment. Through Herod’s policy, supported by the Roman Empire, the Hellenic ideology permeated daily life, thus bringing with it growing individualism. All this caused the larger family, the clan and the community to disintegrate. Thus the small family began to feel bound to turn in on itself and not able to practice the law. Besides, the practice of ritual purity caused people to despise and exclude those persons and families that lived in legal impurity. The economic, social, political and religious context made it possible for families to turn in on themselves and weaken the clan. Preoccupation with family problems stopped people from uniting in community. It stopped the clan from realizing the aim for which it was created, that is, to offer real and adequate protection for families and persons, to preserve identity, to defend land, to prevent exclusion and to welcome the excluded and the poor, and thus to reveal the face of God. Now, for the Kingdom to reveal itself again in the sharing, it was necessary to break the vicious circle. People had to overcome the strict limits of the small family to open themselves to the larger family and the Community. This is the context that forms the background to the words proclaimed by Jesus.

Jesus himself gives an example. When his family tries to claim him, he reacts and says, “Who are my mother and my brethren?” And looking around he says: “Behold my mother and my brethren! For whoever does the will God, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Mk 3:33-35). He stretched the family. He created community. The people he attracted and called were the poor and the excluded (Lk 4:18; Mt 11:25). He asked the same thing of those who wished to follow him. The excluded and marginalized must be welcomed again into the sharing and thus feel welcomed by God (cf Lk 14:12-14). This was the way to achieve the end of the Law that said: “There should be no one of you in need” (Dt 15:4).

Jesus tries to change the process of disintegration of the clan, of the community. Like the great prophets of the past, he seeks to consolidate community life in the villages of Galilee. He takes up again the deep meaning of the clan, of the family, of the community as an expression of the incarnation of the love of God in the love of neighbour. That is why he asks of those who wish to be his disciples to leave father, mother, wife, brother, sister, house, all! They have to lose their life in order to possess it! He is the guarantor of this: “Amen I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the Gospel’s sake, who shall not receive now in the present time a hundredfold as much, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands – along with persecutions, and in the age to come life everlasting” (MK 10:29-30). Truly, those who have the courage to break the closed circle of their family, will find again, in the clan, in the community, a hundredfold whatever they have left: brother, sister, mother, child, land! Jesus does that which people expected in messianic times: to lead back the hearts of parents to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents, to rebuild the clan, reweave the social pattern.

6. Psalm 19,7-14
The Law of Yahweh is perfect
The Law of Yahweh is perfect, 
refreshment to the soul; 
the decree of Yahweh is trustworthy, 
wisdom for the simple.
The precepts of Yahweh are honest, 
joy for the heart; 
the commandment of Yahweh is pure, 
light for the eyes.
The fear of Yahweh is pure, 
lasting for ever; 
the judgements of Yahweh are true, 
upright, every one,
more desirable than gold, 
even than the finest gold; 
his words are sweeter than honey, 
that drips from the comb.
Thus your servant is formed by them; 
observing them brings great reward.
But who can detect his own failings? 
Wash away my hidden faults.
And from pride preserve your servant, 
never let it be my master. 
So shall I be above reproach, 
free from grave sin.
May the words of my mouth always find favour, 
and the whispering of my heart, in your presence, 
Yahweh, my rock, my redeemer.

7. Final Prayer
Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


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Saint of the Day:  Solemnity of Saints Pater and Paul

Feast DayJune 29
Patron Saint:  n/a
Attributes:  n/a

saints peter and paul
Saints Peter and Paul
The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, or the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, is a liturgical feast in honour of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, which is observed on 29 June. The celebration is of ancient origin, the date selected being the anniversary either of their death or of the translation of their relics.[1]

In the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, it is celebrated as a solemnity. In the General Roman Calendar of 1962, it is a first-class feast. It is a holy day of obligation in the universal Church, although individual conferences of bishops can suppress the obligation.[2]

In England and Wales the feast is observed as a holy day of obligation while in the United States and Canada, it is not. In Malta it is a public holiday and in Maltese known as L-Imnarja.

This is the day of the liturgical year on which those newly created metropolitan archbishops receive the primary symbol of their office, the pallium, from the pope.

In Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches

For Eastern Orthodox and some Eastern Catholic Christians this feast also marks the end of the Apostles' Fast (which began on the Monday following All Saints' Sunday, i.e., the second Monday after Pentecost). It is considered a day of recommended attendance, whereon one should attend the All-Night Vigil (or at least Vespers) on the eve, and the Divine Liturgy on the morning of the feast (there are, however, no "Days of Obligation" in the Eastern Church). For those who follow the traditional Julian Calendar, 29 June falls on the Gregorian Calendar date of 12 July.

In the Russian Orthodox tradition, Macarius of Unzha's Miracle of the Moose is said to have occurred during the Apostles' Fast and the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul that followed it.

Ecumenical importance

In recent decades, this feast, along with that of Saint Andrew, has been of importance to the modern ecumenical movement as an occasion on which the pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople have officiated at services designed to bring their two churches closer to intercommunion. This was especially the case during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, as reflected in his encyclical Ut Unum Sint.


  1. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI (Robert Appleton Company, New York, 1911), s.v., "St. Paul", accessed 2007-06-04.
  2.  Codex Iuris Canonici (1983), canon 1246.



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    Today's Snippet I:   Apostolic Age

    A depiction of Jesus appearing to his Apostles after his resurrection.
    The Apostolic Age of the history of Christianity is traditionally the period of the Twelve Apostles, dating from the Great Commission of the Apostles by the resurrected Jesus in Jerusalem c. 33 until the death of the last Apostle, believed to be John the Apostle in Anatolia c. 100. Traditionally, the Apostles are believed to have dispersed from Jerusalem,[1] founding the Apostolic Sees. It holds special significance in Christian tradition as the age of the direct apostles of Jesus Christ. The major primary source for the "Apostolic Age" is the Acts of the Apostles, but its historical accuracy is questioned by some.

    According to most scholars, the followers of Jesus were composed principally from apocalyptic Jewish sects during the late Second Temple period of the 1st century. Some Early Christian groups were strictly Jewish, such as the Ebionites and the early-church leaders in Jerusalem, collectively called Jewish Christians. During this period, they were led by James the Just. Paul of Tarsus, commonly known as Saint Paul, persecuted the early Jewish Christians, such as Saint Stephen, then converted and adopted the title of "Apostle to the Gentiles" and started proselytizing among the Gentiles. He persuaded the leaders of the Jerusalem Church to allow Gentile converts exemption from most Jewish commandments at the Council of Jerusalem, which may parallel Noahide Law in Rabbinic Judaism.

    According to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Paul's influence on Christian thinking is more significant than any other New Testament author,[2] however the relationship of Paul of Tarsus and Judaism is still disputed today (see the link for details). After the Destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70, or at the latest following the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132, Jerusalem ceased to be the center of the Christian church, its bishops became "suffragans" (subordinates) of the Metropolitan bishop of Caesarea.[3] In the 2nd century, Christianity established itself as a predominantly Gentile religion that spanned the Roman Empire and beyond.


    The Cenacle on Mount Zion, claimed to be the location of the Last Supper and Pentecost.
    The apostolic period between the years 30 and 100 produced writings attributed to the direct followers of Jesus Christ. The period is traditionally associated with the apostles, hence the tags "apostolic times" and "apostolic writings".

    The New Testament books were connected by the early church to the apostles, though modern liberal scholarship has cast doubt on the authorship of most New Testament books. In the traditional history of the Christian church, the Apostolic Age was the foundation upon which the entire church's history is founded.[5]

    The Apostolic Age is particularly significant to Restorationism which claims that it represents a purer form of Christianity that should be restored to the church as it exists today.

    The unique character of the New Testament writings, and their period of origin, is highlighted by the paucity of the literary form in later writing.

    Once the canon of the New Testament began to take shape, the style ceased to be used on a regular basis. Non-canonical writings persisted, but died out within a historically short period of time. Early patristic literature is dominated by apologetics and makes use of other literary forms borrowed from non-Christian sources.[6]

    Early leaders

    St. Peter, by Rubens
    The relatives of Jesus lived in Nazareth since the 1st century. Some of them were prominent early Christians. Among those named in the New Testament are his mother and four of his cousins: James, Simeon, Joseph and Jude. According to the Gospels, some of the family opposed the mission and religion of Jesus. The relatives of Jesus were accorded a special position within the early church, as displayed by the leadership of James in Jerusalem.[7]

    According to 19th-century German theologian F. C. Baur early Christianity was dominated by the conflict between Peter who was law-observant, and Paul who advocated partial or even complete freedom from the law. Later findings contradicted this theory. The allegedly continuous conflict was not supported by the available evidence. However, theological conflict between Paul and Peter is recorded in the New Testament and was widely discussed in the early church. Marcion and his followers stated that the polemic against false apostles in Galatians was aimed at Peter, James and John, the "Pillars of the Church", as well as the "false" gospels circulating through the churches at the time. Irenaeus and Tertullian argued against Marcionism's elevation of Paul and stated that Peter and Paul were equals among the apostles. Passages from Galatians were used to show that Paul respected Peter's office and acknowledged a shared faith.[8][9]

    Scholar James D. G. Dunn has proposed that Peter was the "bridge-man" between the two other prominent leaders: Paul and James the Just. Paul and James were both heavily identified with their own "brands" of Christianity. Peter showed a desire to hold onto his Jewish identity, in contrast with Paul. He simultaneously showed a flexibility towards the desires of the broader Christian community, in contrast to James. (This balance is illustrated in the Antioch episode related in Galatians 2.) Thus, Peter became a unifying force in the church.[10]

    Jewish background

    According to most scholars, Early Christianity was a Jewish eschatological faith. The Book of Acts reports that the early followers continued daily Temple attendance and traditional Jewish home prayer. Other passages in the New Testament gospels reflect a similar observance of traditional Jewish piety such as fasting, reverence for the Torah (commonly translated as "the Law" in English translations of the Bible) and observance of Jewish holy days. The earliest form of Jesus' religion is best understood in this context. However, there was great diversity in local variations, as each succeeded or failed in different ways. Regardless, Jesus was a pious Jew, worshipping the Jewish God, preaching interpretations of Jewish law and accepted as the Jewish Messiah by his disciples. Nearly all scholars agree that regardless of how one interprets the mission of Jesus, that he must be understood in context as a 1st-century Palestinian Jew.[11][12]

    Religious climate

    The religious climate of 1st century Judea was quite diverse with numerous variations of Judaic doctrine, many attempts to establish an ideal holy community and divergent ideas about Israel's future hopes. Modern scholars place normative Rabbinic Judaism after the time of Jesus, see also School of Jamnia. The Pharisees were but one sect and did not have the overwhelming influence in 1st century Judea traditionally attributed to them. The ancient historian Josephus noted four prominent groups in the Judaism of the time: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots. Jesus dealt with a variety of sects, most prominently discussing the Law with Pharisees and debating about bodily resurrection with the Sadducees. Jesus also directly associated with John the Baptist, who is often associated with the Essenes.[13]

    Relationship with the Essenes

    Scholars such as James Tabor state that Essenes and early Christians had a number of similar beliefs. The Essenes practised baptism, believed in a New Covenant, were messianic and believed themselves a remnant of the faithful preparing the way for the reign of God's glory. They called their group by names that would later be used by Christians, such as The Way and the Saints. Jesus preached a number of doctrines similar to Essene Halacha. They followed a charismatic leader who was opposed and possibly killed at the instigation of the Pharisees. John the Baptist seems to have risen out of this context.[14]

    Some scholars, such as Carsten Peter Thiede, dispute this presentation. Early Christian leaders did not have to visit Qumran to have heard of Essene beliefs and read their texts. The various Jewish groups, including Christians and Essenes, were interconnected and simultaneously adopted some practices and beliefs while rejecting others. While some similarities exist, there are many differences and similar parallels can be also drawn between the early Christians and Pharisees, and other Jewish sects. Many features of Christian faith have no parallels in the texts from Qumran, and some that do are fundamentally distinct from Essene practices and beliefs. Notably, John's act of penitent baptism bears little resemblance to the daily baptismal ritual of the Essenes.[15]

    First Gentile converts

    Peter Baptizing the Centurion Cornelius by Francesco Trevisani
    The Roman centurion Cornelius of Caesarea Maritima is traditionally considered the first Gentile convert. His conversion, as documented in Acts 10, carries great significance. Cornelius was referenced by both Peter and James in arguing for the inclusion of Gentiles in the Council of Jerusalem. His conversion is broadly considered to have been the beginning of a broader mission to the Gentiles, who would come to eclipse the Jews among Christians.[16]

    The story of Cornelius' conversion is thematically connected with, and parallels, the conversion stories of the Samaritans, Paul of Tarsus and an Ethiopian eunuch in Luke-Acts. The Ethiopian was an outsider and castrated, whose presence in worship assembly would have been prohibited under the Mosaic law (Deut 23:1). This is consistent with the theme of Luke, advocating a "universal" faith and mission. Ethiopia was considered in antiquity to be the southernmost end of the world. Thus, the Ethiopian's conversion can also be interpreted as a partial fulfillment of the mission presented in Acts 1 to bring the Gospel to the "ends of the earth". Some scholars assert that the Ethiopian eunuch was the first Gentile convert, stating that those resisting this conclusion are doing so to preserve the traditional interpretation of Cornelius as the first convert. Regardless of the primacy of either convert, this episode relates Luke's view of how (through Phillip) the Gospel reached the "ends of the earth" and the mission to the Gentiles was initiated.[17]

    Circumcision controversy

    Saint Paul, by El Greco
    Disputes over the Mosaic law generated intense controversy in early Christianity. This is particularly notable in the mid-1st century, when the circumcision controversy came to the fore. Alister McGrath stated that many of the Jewish Christians were fully faithful religious Jews, only differing in their acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. As such, they believed that circumcision and other requirements of the Mosaic law were required for salvation. The increasing number of Gentile converts came under pressure from Jewish Christians to be circumcised in accordance with Abrahamic tradition. The issue was addressed at the Council of Jerusalem where Saint Paul made an argument that circumcision was not a necessary practice, vocally supported by Peter, as documented in Acts 15. This position received widespread support and was summarized in a letter circulated in Antioch.[18]

    While the issue was theoretically resolved, it continued to be a recurring issue among Christians. Four years after the Council of Jerusalem, Paul wrote to the Galatians about the issue, which had become a serious controversy in their region. There was a burgeoning movement of Judaizers in the area that advocated adherence to traditional Mosaic laws, including circumcision. According to McGrath, Paul identified James the Just as the motivating force behind the movement. Paul considered it a great threat to his doctrine of salvation through faith and addressed the issue with great detail in Galatians 3.[19]

    Apostolic Church in Jerusalem

    In 66, the Jews revolted against Rome.[20] Rome besieged Jerusalem for four years, and the city fell in 70.[20] The city was destroyed, including the massive Temple, and the population was mostly killed or removed.[20] Though, according to Epiphanius of Salamis,[21] the Cenacle survived at least to Hadrian's visit in 130. A scattered population survived.[20] Traditionally it is believed the Jerusalem Christians waited out the Jewish–Roman wars in Pella in the Decapolis. The Sanhedrin (of Judaism) reformed in Jamnia.[22] Prophecies of the Second Temple's destruction are found in the synoptics,[23] and are part of the argument for Supersessionism. After the Bar Kokhba revolt, Hadrian barred all Jews from Jerusalem which was renamed Aelia Capitolina, hence the subsequent Jerusalem bishops were Gentiles.

    Jerusalem received special recognition in Canon VII of Nicaea in 325, without yet becoming a metropolitan see,[24] and was later named as one of the Pentarchy, but the later was never accepted by the Church of Rome.[25]

    Saint Thomas Christians

    Christianity arrived along the southern Indian Malabar Coast via Thomas the Apostle in 52[26] and from this came Thomasine Christianity. These Syrian Malabar Nasranis kept a unique Christian identity until the arrival of the Portuguese in the 17th century.


    1. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Dispersion of the Apostles: "The object of the feast (so Godescalcus) is to commemorate the departure (dispersion) of the Apostles from Jerusalem for the various parts of the world, some fourteen years after the Ascension of Christ."
    2. ^ Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church ed. F.L. Lucas (Oxford) entry on Paul
    3. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Jerusalem (A.D. 71-1099): "As the rank..."
    4. ^ Bargil Pixner, The Church of the Apostles found on Mount Zion, Biblical Archaeology Review 16.3 May/June 1990
    5. ^ Brown (1993). p. 10.
    6. ^ Brown (1993). pp. 10–11.
    7. ^ Taylor (1993). Pg 224.
    8. ^ Keck (1988).
    9. ^ Pelikan (1975). Pg. 113.
    10. ^ Dunn (2006). Pg 385.
    11. ^ White (2004). Pp 127–128.
    12. ^ Ehrman (2005). Pg 187.
    13. ^ Wylen (1995). Pg 133, 136.
    14. ^ Tabor (1998).
    15. ^ Thiede (2003). Pp 189–192.
    16. ^ Freedman (2000). Pg 285.
    17. ^ Mills(1997) Pg. 22–23.
    18. ^ McGrath (2006). Pg 174.
    19. ^ McGrath (2006). Pp 174–175.
    20. "Jerusalem." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
    21. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Jerusalem (A.D. 71-1099): "Epiphanius (d. 403) says that when the Emperor Hadrian came to Jerusalem in 130 he found the Temple and the whole city destroyed save for a few houses, among them the one where the Apostles had received the Holy Ghost. This house, says Epiphanius, is "in that part of Sion which was spared when the city
    22. was destroyed" — therefore in the "upper part ("De mens. et pond.", cap. xiv). From the time of Cyril of Jerusalem, who speaks of "the upper Church of the Apostles, where the Holy Ghost came down upon them" (Catech., ii, 6; P.G., XXXIII), there are abundant witnesses of the place. A great basilica was built over the spot in the fourth century; the crusaders built another church when the older one had been destroyed by Hakim in 1010. It is the famous Coenaculum or Cenacle — now a Moslem shrine — near the Gate of David, and supposed to be David's tomb (Nebi Daud)."; Epiphanius' Weights and Measures at "For this Hadrian..."
    23. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Academies in Palestine
    24. ^ Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
    25. ^ Schaff's Seven Ecumenical Councils: First Nicaea: Canon VII: "Since custom and ancient tradition have prevailed that the Bishop of Aelia [i.e., Jerusalem] should be honoured, let him, saving its due dignity to the Metropolis, have the next place of honour."; "It is very hard to determine just what was the "precedence" granted to the Bishop of Aelia, nor is it clear which is the metropolis referred to in the last clause. Most writers, including Hefele, Balsamon, Aristenus and Beveridge consider it to be Cæsarea; while Zonaras thinks Jerusalem to be intended, a view recently adopted and defended by Fuchs; others again suppose it is Antioch that is referred to."
    26. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica "Quinisext Council". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved February 14, 2010. "The Western Church and the Pope were not represented at the council. Justinian, however, wanted the Pope as well as the Eastern bishops to sign the canons. Pope Sergius I (687–701) refused to sign, and the canons were never fully accepted by the Western Church".
    27. ^ A. E. Medlycott, India and The Apostle Thomas, pp.1–71, 213–97; M. R. James, Apocryphal New Testament, pp.364–436; Eusebius, History, chapter 4:30; J. N. Farquhar, The Apostle Thomas in North India, chapter 4:30; V. A. Smith, Early History of India, p.235; L. W. Brown, The Indian Christians of St. Thomas, p.49-59.


    • Brown, Schuyler. The Origins of Christianity: A Historical Introduction to the New Testament. Oxford University Press (1993). ISBN 0-19-826207-8.
    • Dunn, James D.G. Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: An Inquiry into the Character of Earliest Christianity. SCM Press (2006). ISBN 0-334-02998-8.
    • Ehrman, Bart D. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. HarperCollins (2005). ISBN 0-06-073817-0.
    • Keck, Leander E. Paul and His Letters. Fortress Press (1988). ISBN 0-8006-2340-1.
    • McGrath, Alister E. Christianity: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishing (2006). ISBN 1-4051-0899-1.
    • Pelikan, Jaroslav Jan. The Christian Tradition: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100–600). University of Chicago Press (1975). ISBN 0-226-65371-4.
    • Tabor, James D. "Ancient Judaism: Nazarenes and Ebionites", The Jewish Roman World of Jesus. Department of Religious Studies; University of North Carolina at Charlotte (1998).
    • Taylor, Joan E. Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins. Oxford University Press (1993). ISBN 0-19-814785-6.
    • Thiede, Carsten Peter. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish Origins of Christianity. Palgrabe Macmillan (2003). ISBN 1-4039-6143-3.
    • Volp, Ulrich. Idealisierung der Urkirche (ecclesia primitiva). European History Online (2011), retrieved: 1st of March, 2013.
    • White, L. Michael. From Jesus to Christianity. HarperCollins (2004). ISBN 0-06-052655-6.
    • Wylen, Stephen M. The Jews in the Time of Jesus: An Introduction. Paulist Press (1995). ISBN 0-8091-3610-4. 


    Snippet II:  Hagiography

    Hagiography is the study of saints.

    From the Greek (h)ağios (ἅγιος, "holy" or "saint") and graphēin (γράφειν, "to write"), it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common. This latter term, in fact, follows original Greek practice, where ἁγιογραφία refers to visual images of the saints, while their written lives (βίοι or vitæ) or the study thereof are known as ἁγιολογία.

    Christian hagiographies focus on the lives, and notably the miracles of men and women canonized by the Roman Catholic church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Church, and the Church of the East. Other religions such as Buddhism and Islam also create and maintain hagiographical texts concerning saints and other individuals believed to be imbued with the sacred.

    The term "hagiographic" has also been used as a pejorative reference to the works of biographers and historians perceived to be uncritical or "reverential" to their subject. Nonetheless, hagiographic works, particularly those of the Middle Ages, can often incorporate a valuable record of institutional and local history, and evidence of popular cults, customs and traditions.


    The legenda (literally, that which is for reading) included facts which were historically genuine, as well as narrative which Christians now class as unhistorical legend. The term is a creation of the Middle Ages, and has its source in the reading of the prayers used in religious services. Since the days of the martyrs, the Catholic Church recalled to mind her famous dead in the prayers of the Mass and in the Office, by commemorating the names noted in the martyrologies and making mention of incidents in their lives and martyrdom. When the lectio became a matter of precept, the reading matter in the office for the day became in a precise sense legenda (that which must be read).
    After the 13th century, the word legenda was regarded as the equivalent of vita (Life) and passio (suffering), and, in the 15th century, the liber lectionarius is comprised under what is known as "legend". Thus, historically considered, legend is the received story of the saints


    Hagiography constituted an important literary genre in the early Christian church, providing some informational history along with the more inspirational stories and legend. A hagiographic account of an individual saint can constitute a vita or biography, a description of the saint's deeds and/or miracles, or an account of the saint's martyrdom (a passio) - or be a combination of these.
    The genre of lives of the saints first came into being in the Roman Empire as legends about Christian martyrs were recorded. The dates of their deaths formed the basis of martyrologies. In the 4th century, there were three main types of catalogs of lives of the saints:
    • annual calendar catalogue, or menaion (in Greek, menaios means "month") (biographies of the saints to be read at sermons);
    • synaxarion, or a short version of lives of the saints, arranged by dates;
    • paterikon (in Latin, pater means "father"), or biography of the specific saints, chosen by the catalog compiler.
    In Western Europe hagiography was one of the more important vehicles for the study of inspirational history during the Middle Ages. The Golden Legend of Jacob de Voragine compiled a great deal of mediæval hagiographic material, with a strong emphasis on miracle tales. Lives were often written to promote the cult of local or national states, and in particular to develop pilgrimages to visit relics. The bronze Gniezno Doors of Gniezno Cathedral in Poland are the only Romanesque doors in Europe to feature the life of a saint. The life of Saint Adalbert of Prague, who is buried in the cathedral, is shown in 18 scenes, probably based on a lost illuminated copy of one of his Lives.

    The Bollandist Society continues the study, academic assembly, appraisal and publication of materials relating to the lives of Christian saints. (See Acta Sanctorum.)

    Early medieval embellishment

    Gregory of Tours (d. 594) was acquainted with the apocryphal lives of the Apostles. At the beginning of the 7th century we already find related in Gaul (in the "Passio Tergeminorum" of Warnahar of Langres), as an incident in the local history of Langres, a story of martyrdom originating in Cappadocia.

    The 7th century sees the literary form of legend domiciled in the West. Bede's "Martyrology" and Aldhelm of Malmesbury (d. 709) indicate a wide knowledge of this foreign literature.The legends of the "saviour" make their appearance in the Merovingian 7th century up to the middle of the 8th;.

    Medieval England

    With the introduction of Latin literature into England in the 7th and 8th centuries the genre of the life of the saint grew increasingly popular. It is not surprising that such a genre would become popular in England. When one contrasts it to the popular heroic poem, such as Beowulf, one finds that they share certain common features. In Beowulf, the titular character battles against Grendel and his mother, while the saint, such as Athanasius’ Anthony (one of the original sources for the hagiographic motif) or the character of Guthlac, battles against figures no less substantial in a spiritual sense. Both genres then focus on the hero-warrior figure, but with the distinction that the saint is of a spiritual sort.

    In Anglo-Saxon and mediæval England, Hagiography became a literary genre par excellence for the teaching of a largely illiterate audience. Hagiography provided priests and theologians with the classical handbooks in a form that allowed them the rhetorical tools necessary to defend the truth of their scriptures. Many of the important hagiographical texts composed in medieval England were written in the dialect of Anglo-Norman.

    Of all the English hagiographers no one was more prolific nor so aware of the importance of the genre as Abbot Ælfric of Eynsham. His work The Lives of the Saints (MS Cotton Julius E.7) comprises a set of sermons on saints' days, formerly observed by the English Church. The text comprises two prefaces, one in Latin and one in Old English, and 39 lives beginning on December 25 with the nativity of Christ and ending with three texts to which no saints' days are attached. The text spans the entire year and describes the lives of many saints, both English and continental, and hearkens back to some of the earliest saints of the early church.
    Imitation of the life of Christ then was the benchmark against which saints were measured, and imitation of the lives of saints was the benchmark against which the general population measured itself.

    There are two known instances where saint's lives were adapted into vernacular plays in Britain. These are the Cornish-language works Beunans Meriasek and Beunans Ke, about the lives of Saints Meriasek and Kea, respectively.

    Medieval Ireland

    Ireland is notable in its rich hagiographical tradition, and for the large amount of material which was produced during the mediæval period. Irish hagiographers wrote primarily in Latin while some of the later saint's lives were written in the hagiographer's native vernacular Irish. Of particular note are the lives of St. Patrick, St. Columba and St. Brigit—Ireland's three patron saints

    St Symeon the Metaphrastes, Byzantine
    In the 10th century, a Byzantine monk Simeon the Metaphrastes was the first one to change the genre of lives of the saints into something different, giving it a moralizing and panegyrical character. His catalog of lives of the saints became the standard for all of the Western and Eastern hagiographers, who would create relative biographies and images of the ideal saints by gradually departing from the real facts of their lives. Over the years, the genre of lives of the saints had absorbed a number of narrative plots and poetic images (often, of pre-Christian origin, such as dragon fighting etc.), mediaeval parables, short stories and anecdotes.

    The genre of lives of the saints was brought to Kievan Rus' by the South Slavs together with writing and also in translations from the Greek language. In the 11th century, the Rus' began to compile the original life stories of the first Rus'ian saints, e.g. Boris and Gleb, Theodosius Pechersky etc. In the 16th century, Metropolitan Macarius expanded the list of the Rus'ian saints and supervised the compiling process of their life stories. They would all be compiled in the so called Velikiye chet’yi-minei catalog (Великие Четьи-Минеи, or Great Menaion Reader), consisting of 12 volumes in accordance with each month of the year. They were revised and expanded by St. Dimitry of Rostov in 1684-1705.

    High Middle Ages

    During the millenarian 10th century, the era of the Cluniacs and mysticism make the biographies of the saints subjective. The 12th century brings with the new religious orders the contemplative legends of Mary. The thirteenth sees the development of the cities and the citizens, hand in hand with which goes the popularization of the legend by means of collections compiled for the purposes of sermons, vit sanctorum, exempla, or merely to give entertainment (Vincent of Beauvais, Cæsarius of Heisterbach, James of Vitry, Thomas of Chantimpré, "Legenda Aurea"); in this century also arise the legends of Mary and, in connexion with the new feast of Corpus Christi (1264), a strong interest in tales of miracles relating to the Host.

    There are only variations of the old concepts of transformation and apparitions, as in the innumerable stories which now circulated of visible incarnation of the Divine Child or of the Crucified One, or of the monstrance being suspended in the air. But the continuity of the concepts is quite evident in the case of the legend of Mary. If Mary considers herself as betrothed to the priest who serves her, the meaning of this is not far to seek; but nevertheless Callimachus (3rd century BC) had also treated this idea in a legend of Artemis, and Antoninus Liberalis and the Talmud have variations of it. And if, in this legend of Mary, the Blessed Virgin put a ring on the hand of her betrothed under quite characteristic circumstances, that is nothing else than the Roman local legend of the betrothal of Venus, as it has been preserved by William of Malmesbury and the "Deutsche Kaiserchronik" of the 12th century.

    Eastern Orthodoxy

    This literary genre was often used as ecclesiastic and political propaganda. Today, the works in the genre of lives of the saints represent a valuable historical source and reflection of different social ideas, world outlook and aesthetic concepts of the past.

    Catholic continuities

    In the usage of the Catholic Church, the legend plays the same part to-day as in the Middle Ages, but it was felt that not all the legends we possess were of equal value, and especially that the editions of the lives of the saints were entirely unsatisfactory. It was the Jesuit Heribert Rosweyde of Utrecht who, at the beginning of the 17th century, undertook to remedy matters by referring to the most ancient texts, and by pointing out how the tales developed.

    Rosweyde wished merely to correct the old collections; his idea was to treat the martyrologies, beginning with the most ancient, from the philological standpoint. But his scheme was taken up by other Jesuits, and after his death (1629) was carried out on a large scale. This was with an eye also to sectarian opponents, and in defense of the continuity of Catholic teaching and Catholic life. The Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists became foundational for investigation in hagiography and legend.

    Contemporary attitudes

    The Roman Breviary officially designates the lesson for the day as lectio, and the Catholic Church now may recognize the legend rather as a popular story or a fictitious religious tale. Hagiography is to-day the province of the historian, who must test the value of the sources of the reports.

    The belief in miracles, considered as such, does not affect the historian, who has only to gather the original authorities together and to say: This is what happened, so far as historical science can determine. If this presentation of the facts be correct, then no objection can be raised against the results


    • Davies, S. (2008). Archive and manuscripts: contents and use: using the sources (3rd ed.). Aberystwyth, UK: Department of Information Studies, Aberystwyth University. p. 5.20. ISBN 978-1-906214-15-9 
    •  Koch, John T. (2006). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 203–205. ISBN 1-85109-440-7. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
    • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Legends of the Saints". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.



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    Snippet III: Devotion to The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

    Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Scapular
    The Sacred Heart (also known as Most Sacred Heart of Jesus) is one of the most famous religious devotions to Jesus' physical heart as the representation of his divine love for humanity.

    This devotion is predominantly used in the Catholic Church and among some high-church Anglicans and Lutherans. The devotion especially emphasizes the unmitigated love, compassion, and long-suffering of the heart of Christ towards humanity. The origin of this devotion in its modern form is derived from a French Roman Catholic nun, Marguerite Marie Alacoque, who said she learned the devotion from Jesus during a mystical experience. Predecessors to the modern devotion arose unmistakably in the Middle Ages in various facets of Catholic mysticism.

    In the Roman Catholic tradition, the Sacred Heart has been closely associated with Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ. In his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor, Pope Pius XI stated: "the spirit of expiation or reparation has always had the first and foremost place in the worship given to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus". The Golden Arrow Prayer directly refers to the Sacred Heart. Devotion to the Sacred Heart is sometimes seen in the Eastern Catholic Churches, where it remains a point of controversy and is seen as an example of Liturgical Latinisation.

    The Sacred Heart is often depicted in Christian art as a flaming heart shining with divine light, pierced by the lance-wound, encircled by the crown of thorns, surmounted by a cross and bleeding. Sometimes the image shown shining within the bosom of Christ with his wounded hands pointing at the heart. The wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Jesus' death, while the fire represents the transformative power of divine love.

    The Feast of the Sacred Heart has been in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar since 1856, and is celebrated 19 days after Pentecost. As Pentecost is always celebrated on Sunday, the Feast of the Sacred Heart always falls on a Friday.

    History of Devotion

    Early devotion

    Sacred Heart of Jesus Ibarrará, 1896
    From the time of John the Evangelist and Paul of Tarsus there has always been in the Church something like devotion to the love of God, but there is nothing to indicate that, during the first ten centuries of Christianity, any worship was rendered to the wounded Heart of Jesus. It is in the eleventh and twelfth centuries that the first indications of devotion to the Sacred Heart are found. It was in the fervent atmosphere of the Benedictine or Cistercian monasteries, in the world of Anselmian or Bernardine thought, that the devotion arose, although it is impossible to say positively what were its first texts or who were its first devotees. It was already well known to St. Gertrude, St. Mechtilde, and the author of the Vitis mystica (previously ascribed to St. Bernard, now attributed to St. Bonaventure).

    From the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries, the devotion was propagated but it did not seem to have developed in itself. It was everywhere practised by individuals and by different religious congregations, such as the Franciscans, Dominicans, Carthusians, etc. It was, nevertheless, a private, individual devotion of the mystical order. Nothing of a general movement had been inaugurated, except for similarities found in the devotion to the Five Wounds by the Franciscans, in which the wound in Jesus's heart figured most prominently.

    In the sixteenth century, the devotion passed from the domain of mysticism into that of Christian asceticism. It was established as a devotion with prayers already formulated and special exercises, found in the writings of Lanspergius (d. 1539) of the Carthusians of Cologne, the Louis of Blois (Blosius; 1566), a Benedictine and Abbot of Liessies in Hainaut, John of Avila (d. 1569) and St. Francis de Sales, the latter belonging to the seventeenth century.

    The historical record from that time shows an early bringing to light of the devotion. Ascetic writers spoke of it, especially those of the Society of Jesus. The image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was everywhere in evidence, largely due to the Franciscan devotion to the Five Wounds and to the habit formed by the Jesuits of placing the image on their title-page of their books and the walls of their churches.

    Nevertheless, the devotion remained an individual, or at least a private, devotion. Jean Eudes (1602–1680) made it public, gave it an Office, and established a feast for it. Père Eudes was the apostle of the Heart of Mary; but in his devotion to the Immaculate Heart there was a share for the Heart of Jesus. Little by little, the devotion to the Sacred Heart became a separate one, and on August 31, 1670, the first feast of the Sacred Heart was celebrated in the Grand Seminary of Rennes. Coutances followed suit on October 20, a day with which the Eudist feast was from then on to be connected. The feast soon spread to other dioceses, and the devotion was likewise adopted in various religious communities. It gradually came into contact with the devotion begun at Paray, and resulting in a fusion of the two.

    Visions of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

    St Margaret Mary Alacoque, Giaquinto 1765
    The most significant source for the devotion to the Sacred Heart in the form it is known today was Visitandine Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–1690), who claimed to have received visions of Jesus Christ. There is nothing to indicate that she had known the devotion prior to the revelations, or at least that she had paid any attention to it. The revelations were numerous, and the following apparitions are especially remarkable:
    • On December 27, probably 1673, the feast of St. John, Margaret Mary reported that Jesus permitted her, as he had formerly allowed St. Gertrude, to rest her head upon his heart, and then disclosed to her the wonders of his love, telling her that he desired to make them known to all mankind and to diffuse the treasures of his goodness, and that he had chosen her for this work.
    • In probably June or July, 1674, Margaret Mary claimed that Jesus requested to be honored under the figure of his heart, also claiming that, when he appeared radiant with love, he asked for a devotion of expiatory love: frequent reception of Communion, especially Communion on the First Friday of the month, and the observance of the Holy Hour.
    • During the octave of Corpus Christi, 1675, probably on June 16, the vision known as the "great apparition" reportedly took place, where Jesus said, "Behold the Heart that has so loved men ... instead of gratitude I receive from the greater part (of mankind) only ingratitude ...", and asked Margaret Mary for a feast of reparation of the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi, bidding her consult her confessor Father Claude de la Colombière, then superior of the small Jesuit house at Paray. Solemn homage was asked on the part of the king, and the mission of propagating the new devotion was especially confided to the religious of the Visitation and to the priests of the Society of Jesus.
        A few days after the "great apparition", Margaret Mary reported everything she saw to Father de la Colombière, and he, acknowledging the vision as an action of the Spirit of God, consecrated himself to the Sacred Heart and directed her to write an account of the apparition. He also made use of every available opportunity to circulate this account, discreetly, through France and England. Upon his death on February 15, 1682, there was found in his journal of spiritual retreats a copy in his own handwriting of the account that he had requested of Margaret Mary, together with a few reflections on the usefulness of the devotion. This journal, including the account and an "offering" to the Sacred Heart, in which the devotion was well explained, was published at Lyons in 1684. The little book was widely read, especially at Paray. Margaret Mary reported feeling "dreadful confusion" over the book's contents, but resolved to make the best of it, approving of the book for the spreading of her cherished devotion. Outside of the Visitandines, priests, religious, and laymen espoused the devotion, particularly the Capuchins, Margaret Mary's two brothers, and some Jesuits. The Jesuit Father Croiset wrote a book called The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a book which Jesus is said to have told Margaret to tell Fr. Croiset to write, and Fr. Joseph de Gallifet, also a Jesuit, promoted the devotion.

    Papal Approvals

    The Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart was a nun from Sisters of the Good Shepherd Congregation who requested, in the name of Christ Himself, to Pope Leo XIII that he consecrate the entire World to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
    The death of Margaret Mary Alacoque on October 17, 1690, did not dampen the zeal of those interested; on the contrary, a short account of her life published by Father Croiset in 1691, as an appendix to his book "De la Dévotion au Sacré Cœur", served only to increase it. In spite of all sorts of obstacles, and of the slowness of the Holy See, which in 1693 imparted indulgences to the Confraternities of the Sacred Heart and, in 1697, granted the feast to the Visitandines with the Mass of the Five Wounds, but refused a feast common to all, with special Mass and Office. The devotion spread, particularly in religious communities. The Marseilles plague, 1720, furnished perhaps the first occasion for a solemn consecration and public worship outside of religious communities. Other cities of the South followed the example of Marseilles, and thus the devotion became a popular one. In 1726 it was deemed advisable once more to importune Rome for a feast with a Mass and Office of its own, but, in 1729, Rome again refused. However, in 1765, it finally yielded and that same year, at the request of the queen, the feast was received quasi-officially by the episcopate of France. On all sides it was asked for and obtained, and finally, in 1856, at the urgent entreaties of the French bishops, Pope Pius IX extended the feast to the Roman Catholic Church under the rite of double major. In 1889 it was raised by the Roman Catholic Church to the double rite of first class.

    After the letters of Mother Mary of the Divine Heart (1863–1899) requesting, in the name of Christ Himself, to Pope Leo XIII consecrate the entire World to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Father commissions a group of theologians to examine the petition on the basis of revelation and sacred tradition. This investigation was positive. And so in the encyclical letter Annum Sacrum (on May 25, 1899) this same pope decreed that the consecration of the entire human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus should take place on June 11, 1899. In this encyclical letter the Pope attached Later Pope Leo XIII encouraged the entire Roman Catholic episcopate to promote the devotion of the Nine First Fridays and he established June as the Month of the Sacred Heart. Leo XIII also composed the Prayer of Consecration to the Sacred Heart and included it in Annum Sacrum.

    Pope Pius X decreed that the consecration of the human race, performed by Pope Leo XIII be renewed each year. Pope Pius XI in his encyclical letter Miserentissimus Redemptor (on May 8, 1928) affirmed the Church's position with respect to Saint Margaret Mary's visions of Jesus Christ by stating that Jesus had "manifested Himself" to Saint Margaret and had "promised her that all those who rendered this honor to His Heart would be endowed with an abundance of heavenly graces." The encyclical refers to the conversation between Jesus and Saint Margaret several times[2] and reaffirmed the importance of consecration and reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

    Finally, Venerable Pope Pius XII, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Pope Pius IX's institution of the Feast, instructed the entire Roman Catholic Church at length on the devotion to the Sacred Heart in his encyclical letter Haurietis aquas (on May 15, 1956). On May 15, 2006, also Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter to Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, on the 50th Anniversary of the encyclical Haurietis Aquas, about the Sacred Heart, by Pope Pius XII. In his letter to Father Kolvenbach, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed the importance of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

    Worship and Devotion

    The Roman Catholic acts of consecration, reparation and devotion were introduced when the feast of the Sacred Heart was declared. In his Papal Bull Auctorem Fidei, Pope Pius VI praised devotion to the Sacred Heart. Finally, by order of Leo XIII, in his encyclical Annum Sacrum (May 25, 1899), as well as on June 11, he consecrated every human to the Sacred Heart. The idea of this act, which Leo XIII called "the great act" of his pontificate, had been proposed to him by a religious woman of the Good Shepherd from Oporto (Portugal) who said that she had supernaturally received it from Jesus. Since c. 1850, groups, congregations, and States have consecrated themselves to the Sacred Heart. In 1873, by petition of president Gabriel García Moreno, Ecuador was the first country in the world to be consecrated to the Sacred Heart, fulfilling God's petition to Saint Margaret Mary over two hundred years later.

    Peter Coudrin of France founded the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary on December 24, 1800. A religious order of the Roman Catholic Church, the order is best known for its missionary work in Hawaii. Mother Clelia Merloni from Forlì (Italy) founded the Congregation of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Viareggio, Italy, May 30, 1894. Worship of the Sacred Heart mainly consists of several hymns, the Salutation of the Sacred Heart, and the Litany of the Sacred Heart. It is common in Roman Catholic services and occasionally is to be found in Anglican services. The Feast of the Sacred Heart is a solemnity in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, and is celebrated 19 days after Pentecost. As Pentecost is always celebrated on Sunday, the Feast of the Sacred Heart always falls on a Friday.

    The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart is a Roman Catholic ceremony in which a priest or head of a household consecrates the members of the household to the Sacred Heart. A blessed image of the Sacred Heart, either a statue or a picture, is then "enthroned" in the home to serve as a constant reminder to those who dwell in the house of their consecration to the Sacred Heart. The practice of the Enthronement is based upon Pope Pius XII's declaration that devotion to the Sacred of Jesus is "the foundation on which to build the kingdom of God in the hearts of individuals, families, and nations..."

    Alliance with the Immaculate Heart of Mary

    The Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary is based on the historical, theological and spiritual links in Catholic devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The joint devotion to the hearts was first formalized in the 17th century by Saint Jean Eudes who organized the scriptural, theological and liturgical sources relating to the devotions and obtained the approbation of the Church, prior to the visions of Saint Marguerite Marie Alacoque.

    In the 18th and 19th centuries the devotions grew, both jointly and individually through the efforts of figures such as Saint Louis de Montfort who promoted Catholic Mariology and Saint Catherine Labouré's Miraculous Medal depicting the Heart of Jesus thorn-crowned and the Heart of Mary pierced with a sword. The devotions, and the associated prayers, continued into the 20th century, e.g. in the Immaculata prayer of Saint Maximillian Kolbe and in the reported messages of Our Lady of Fatima which stated that the Heart of Jesus wishes to be honored together with the Heart of Mary.

    Popes supported the individual and joint devotions to the hearts through the centuries. In the 1956 encyclical Haurietis Aquas, Pope Pius XII encouraged the joint devotion to the hearts. In the 1979 encyclical Redemptor Hominis Pope John Paul II explained the theme of unity of Mary's Immaculate Heart with the Sacred Heart. In his Angelus address on September 15, 1985 Pope John Paul II coined the term The Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and in 1986 addressed the international conference on that topic held at Fátima, Portugal.

    The Miraculous Medal

    The Miraculous Medal
    The Sacred Heart has also been involved in (and been depicted) in saintly apparitions such as those to Saint Catherine Labouré in 1830 and appears on the Miraculous Medal.

    On the Miraculous Medal, the Sacred Heart is crowned with thorns. The Immaculate Heart of Mary also appears on the medal, next to the Sacred Heart, but is pierced by a sword, rather than being crowned with thorns. The M on the medal signifies the Blessed Virgin at the foot of the Cross when Jesus was being crucified.

    Religious imagery depicting the Sacred Heart is frequently featured in Roman Catholic, and sometimes Anglican and Lutheran homes. Sometimes images display beneath them a list of family members, indicating that the entire family is entrusted to the protection of Jesus in the Sacred Heart, from whom blessings on the home and the family members are sought. The prayer "O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee" is often used. One particular image has been used as part of a set, along with an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In that image, Mary too was shown pointing to her Immaculate Heart, expressing her love for the human race and for her Son, Jesus Christ. The mirror images reflect an eternal binding of the two hearts.

    The Scapular of the Sacred Heart and the Scapular of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary are worn by Roman Catholics.

    In Eastern Catholicism

    Devotion to the Sacred Heart may be found in some Eastern Catholic Churches, but is a contentious issue. Those who favour purity of rite are opposed to the devotion, while those who are in favour of the devotion cite it as a point of commonality with their Latin Catholic brethren.

    Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

    Jesus Christ, in his appearances to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, promised these blessings to those who practice devotion to his Sacred Heart. This tabular form of promises was not made by Saint Margaret Mary or her contemporaries. It first appeared at 1863. In 1882, an American businessman spread the tabular form of the promises profusely throughout the world, the twelve promises appearing in 238 languages. In 1890, Cardinal Adolph Perraud deplored this circulation of the promises in the tabular form which were different from the words and even from the meaning of the expressions used by St. Margaret Mary, and wanted the promises to be published in the full, authentic texts as found in the writings of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque:
    1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
    2. I will give peace in their families.
    3. I will console them in all their troubles.
    4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
    5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
    6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
    7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
    8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
    9. I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
    10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
    11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
    12. In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.
      The last promise has given rise to the pious Roman Catholic practice of making an effort to attend Mass and receive Communion on the first Friday of each month.

    Great efficacy of converting people has been attached to the use of the image of the Sacred Heart.
    "Even at the hour of death, incredulous, indifferent, hardened souls have been converted by simply showing them a picture of the Sacred Heart, which sufficed to restore these sinners to the life of hope and love, in a word, to touch the most hardened. It would, indeed, be a great misfortune to any apostolic man to neglect so powerful a means of conversion, and in proof of this I will mention a single fact which will need no comment. A religious of the Company of Jesus had been requested by the Blessed Margaret Mary to make a careful engraving of the Sacred Heart. Being often hindered by other occupations, there was much delay in preparing this plate. ' This good father,' writes the saint, 'is so much occupied by Mon- signor d'Autun in the conversion of heretics, that he has neither time nor leisure to give to the work so ardently desired by the Heart of our Divine Master. You cannot imagine, my much-loved mother, how greatly this delay afflicts and pains me. I must avow confidently to you my belief that it is the cause of his converting so few infidels in this town. I seem constantly to hear these words : ' That if this good father had acquitted himself at once of his promise to the Sacred Heart, Jesus would have changed and converted the hearts of these infidels, on account of the joy He would have felt at seeing Himself honoured in the picture He so much wishes for. As, however, he prefers other work, even though to the glory of God, to that of giving Him this satisfaction, He will harden the hearts of these infidels, and the labours of this mission will not be crowned with much fruit.'

    Scapular of the Sacred Heart

    The devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus also involve the Scapular of the Sacred Heart. It is a Roman Catholic devotional scapular that can be traced back to Saint Margaret Marie Alacoque who herself made and distributed badges similar to it. In 1872 Pope Pius IX granted an indulgence for the badge and the actual scapular was approved by the Congregation of Rites in 1900. It bears the representation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on one side, and that of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Mother of Mercy on the other side. Prayer, Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Thy well-beloved Son and upon the acts of praise and satisfaction which He renders unto Thee in the name of sinners; and do Thou, in Thy great goodness, grant pardon to them who seek Thy mercy, in the name of the same Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end.


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    Snippet IV: Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

    Immaculate heart of Mary Scapular
    The Immaculate Heart of Mary (also known as The Sacred Heart of Mary) is a devotional name used to refer to the interior life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections, and, above all, her virginal love for God the Father, her maternal love for her son Jesus, and her compassionate love for all persons. The consideration of Mary's interior life and the beauties of her soul, without any thought of her physical heart, does not constitute the traditional devotion; still less does it consist in the consideration of the heart of Mary merely as a part of her pure body. In 1855 the Mass of the Most Pure Heart formally became a part of Catholic practice. The two elements are essential to the devotion, just as, according to Roman Catholic theology, soul and body are necessary to the constitution of man.

    Eastern Catholic Churches occasionally utilize the image, devotion, and theology associated with the Immaculate Heart of Mary. However, this is a cause of some controversy, some seeing it as a form of liturgical instillation. The Roman Catholic view is based on Mariology, as exemplified by Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae which builds on the total Marian devotion pioneered by Louis de Montfort.

    Traditionally, the heart is pierced with seven wounds or swords, in homage to the seven dolors of Mary. Consequently, seven Hail Marys are said daily in honor of the devotion. Also, roses or another type of flower may be wrapped around the heart

    Veneration and devotion

    Immaculate Heart Mary, Seven  Dolors
    Veneration of the Heart of Mary is analogous to worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is, however, necessary to indicate a few differences in this analogy, the better to explain the character of Roman Catholic devotion to the Heart of Mary. Some of these differences are very marked, whereas others are barely perceptible. The Devotion to the Heart of Jesus is especially directed to the "Divine Heart" as overflowing with love for humanity, presented as "despised and outraged". In the devotion to the Mary, on the other hand, the attraction is the love of this Heart for Jesus and for God. Its love for humans is not overlooked, but it is not so much in evidence nor so dominant.

    A second difference is the nature of the devotion itself. In devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Roman Catholic venerates in a sense of love responding to love. In devotion to the Heart of Mary, study and imitation hold as important a place as love. Love is more the result than the object of the devotion, the object being rather to love God and Jesus better by uniting one's self to Mary for this purpose and by imitating her virtues. It would also seem that, although in the devotion to the Heart of Mary the heart has an essential part as symbol and sensible object, it does not stand out as prominently as in the devotion to the Heart of Jesus; devotion focuses rather on the thing symbolized, the love, virtues, and sentiments of Mary's interior life.

    The Immaculate Heart has also been involved in (and been depicted) in saintly Marian apparitions such as those to Saint Catherine Labouré in 1830 and appears on the Miraculous Medal. On the Miraculous Medal, the Immaculate Heart is pierced by a sword. The Sacred Heart of Jesus also appears on the medal, next to the Immaculate Heart, but is crowned with thorns, rather than being pierced by a sword. The M on the medal signifies the Blessed Virgin at the foot of the Cross when Jesus was being crucified.

    Our Lady of Fatima asked that, in reparation for sins committed against her Immaculate Heart, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months the Catholic:
    1. Go to Confession (within 8 days before or after the first Saturday)
    2. Receive Holy Communion
    3. Recite five decades of the Rosary
    4. Keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary
    She promised that, whoever would ever do this, would be given at the hour of his death, the graces necessary for salvation.

    History of devotion

    The history of the devotion to the Heart of Mary is connected on many points with that to the Heart of Jesus. The attention of Christians was early attracted by the love and virtues of the Heart of Mary. The gospels recount the prophecy delivered to her at Jesus' presentation at the temple: that her heart would be pierced with a sword. This image (the pierced heart) is the most popular representation of the Immaculate Heart. The St. John's Gospel further invited attention to Mary's heart with its depiction of Mary at the foot of the cross at Jesus' crucifixion. St. Augustine said of this that Mary was not merely passive at the foot of the cross; "she cooperated through charity in the work of our redemption".

    Statue depicting the Immaculate Heart of Mary as described by Sister Lucia of Fátima.
    Another Scriptural passage to help in bringing out the devotion was the twice-repeated saying of Saint Luke, that Mary kept all the sayings and doings of Jesus in her heart, that there she might ponder over them and live by them. A few of Mary's sayings, also recorded in the Gospel, particularly the Magnificat (the words Mary is reported to have said to describe the experience of being pregnant with Jesus), disclose new features in Marian psychology. Some of the Church Fathers also throw light upon the psychology of Mary, for instance, Saint Ambrose, when in his commentary on The Gospel of Luke he holds Mary up as the ideal of virginity, and Saint Ephrem, when he poetically sings of the coming of the Magi and the welcome accorded them by the humble mother. Some passages from other books in the Bible are interpreted as referring to Mary, in whom they personify wisdom and her gentle charms. Such are the texts in which wisdom is presented as the mother of lofty love, of fear, of knowledge, and of holy hope. In the New Testament Elizabeth proclaims Mary blessed because she has believed the words of the angel who announced that she would become pregnant with Jesus, although she was still a virgin; the Magnificat is an expression of her humility. In answering the woman of the people, who in order to exalt the son proclaimed the mother blessed, Jesus himself said: "Blessed rather are they that hear the word of God and keep it." The Church Fathers understood this as an invitation to seek in Mary that which had so endeared her to God and caused her to be selected as the mother of Jesus, and found in these words a new reason for praising Mary. St. Leo said that through faith and love she conceived her son spiritually, even before receiving him into her womb, and St. Augustine tells us that she was more blessed in having borne Christ in her heart than in having conceived him in the flesh.

    It is only in the twelfth, or towards the end of the eleventh century, that slight indications of a regular devotion are perceived in a sermon by St. Bernard (De duodecim stellis), from which an extract has been taken by the Church and used in the Offices of the Compassion and of the Seven Dolours. Stronger evidences are discernible in the pious meditations on the Ave Maria and the Salve Regina, usually attributed either to St. Anselm of Lucca (d. 1080) or St. Bernard; and also in the large book "De laudibus B. Mariae Virginis" (Douai, 1625) by Richard de Saint-Laurent, Penitentiary of Rouen in the thirteenth century. In St. Mechtilde (d. 1298) and St. Gertrude (d. 1301) the devotion had two earnest adherents. A little earlier it had been included by St. Thomas Becket in the devotion to the joys and sorrows of Mary, by Blessed Hermann (d.1245), one of the first spiritual children of Saint Dominic, in his other devotions to Mary, and somewhat later it appeared in St. Bridget's "Book of Revelations". Johannes Tauler (d. 1361) beholds in Mary the model of a mystical soul, just as St. Ambrose perceived in her the model of a virginal soul. St. Bernardine of Siena (d.1444) was more absorbed in the contemplation of the virginal heart, and it is from him that the Church has borrowed the lessons of the second nocturn for the feast of the Heart of Mary. St. Francis de Sales speaks of the perfections of this heart, the model of love for God, and dedicated to it his "Theotimus."

    During this same period one finds occasional mention of devotional practices to the Heart of Mary, e.g., in the "Antidotarium" of Nicolas du Saussay (d. 1488), in Julius II, and in the "Pharetra" of Lanspergius. In the second half of the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth, ascetic authors dwelt upon this devotion at greater length. It was, however, reserved to Saint Jean Eudes (d. 1681) to propagate the devotion, to make it public, and to have a feast celebrated in honor of the Heart of Mary, first at Autun in 1648 and afterwards in a number of French dioceses. He established several religious societies interested in upholding and promoting the devotion, of which his large book on the Coeur Admirable (Admirable Heart), published in 1681, resembles a summary. Jean Eudes' efforts to secure the approval of an office and feast failed at Rome, but, notwithstanding this disappointment, the devotion to the Heart of Mary progressed. In 1699 Father Pinamonti (d. 1703) published in Italian a short work on the Holy Heart of Mary, and in 1725, Joseph de Gallifet combined the cause of the Heart of Mary with that of the Heart of Jesus in order to obtain Rome's approbation of the two devotions and the institution of the two feasts. In 1729, his project was defeated, and in 1765, the two causes were separated, to assure the success of the principal one.

    Alliance with the Sacred Heart

    The Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary is based on the historical, theological and spiritual links in Catholic devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The joint devotion to the hearts was first formalized in the 17th century by Saint Jean Eudes who organized the scriptural, theological and liturgical sources relating to the devotions and obtained the approbation of the Church, prior to the visions of Saint Marguerite Marie Alacoque.

    In the 18th and 19th centuries the devotions grew, both jointly and individually through the efforts of figures such as Saint Louis de Montfort who promoted Catholic Mariology and Saint Catherine Labouré's Miraculous Medal depicting the Heart of Jesus thorn-crowned and the Heart of Mary pierced with a sword. The devotions, and the associated prayers, continued into the 20th century, e.g. in the Immaculata prayer of Saint Maximillian Kolbe and in the reported messages of Our Lady of Fatima which stated that the Heart of Jesus wishes to be honored together with the Heart of Mary.

    Popes supported the individual and joint devotions to the hearts through the centuries. In the 1956 encyclical Haurietis Aquas, Pope Pius XII encouraged the joint devotion to the hearts. In the 1979 encyclical Redemptor Hominis Pope John Paul II explained the theme of unity of Mary's Immaculate Heart with the Sacred Heart. In his Angelus address on September 15, 1985 Pope John Paul II coined the term The Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and in 1986 addressed the international conference on that topic held at Fátima, Portugal.

    Feast days

    Fatima Statue of Pope Pius XII, who consecrated Russia and the World: Just as a few years ago We consecrated the entire human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, so today We consecrate and in a most special manner We entrust all the peoples of Russia to this Immaculate Heart...
    In 1799 Pius VI, then in captivity at Florence, granted the Bishop of Palermo the feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary for some of the churches in his diocese. In 1805 Pius VII made a new concession, thanks to which the feast was soon widely observed. Such was the existing condition when a twofold movement, started in Paris, gave fresh impetus to the devotion. The two factors of this movement were, first of all, the revelation of the "miraculous medal" in 1830 and all the prodigies that followed, and then the establishment at Notre-Dame-des-Victoires of the Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Sinners, which spread rapidly throughout the world and was the source of numberless alleged graces. On 21 July 1855, the Congregation of Rites finally approved the Office and Mass of the Most Pure Heart of Mary without, however, imposing them upon the Universal Church.

    During the third apparition at Fátima, Portugal on 13 July 1917, the Virgin Mary allegedly said that "God wishes to establish in the world devotion to her Immaculate Heart" in order to save souls from going into the fires of hell and to bring about world peace, and also asked for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Pope Pius XII, in his Apostolic Letter of 7 July 1952, Sacro Vergente consecrated Russia to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.

    On 25 March 1984, Pope John Paul II fulfilled this request again, when he made the solemn act of consecration of the world, and implicitly Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary before the miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary of Fatima brought to Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican for the momentous occasion. Sister Lucia, OCD, then the only surviving visionary of Fatima, confirmed that the request of Mary for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was accepted by Heaven and therefore, was fulfilled. Again on 8 October 2000, Pope John Paul II made an act of entrustment of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the new millennium.

    Roman Catholic feast days

    Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1944 to be celebrated on 22 August, coinciding with the traditional octave day of the Assumption. In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the celebration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the day, Saturday, immediately after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This means in practice that it is now held on the day before the third Sunday after Pentecost.

    At the same time as he closely associated the celebrations of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Paul VI moved the celebration of the Queenship of Mary from 31 May to 22 August, bringing it into association with the feast of her Assumption.

    Those who use the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal or an earlier one (but not more than 17 years before 1962) observe the day established by Pius XII.


    • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.


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        Mystical City of God, the miracle of His omnipotence and the abyss of His grace the divine history and life of the Virgin Mother of God our Queen and our Lady, most holy Mary expiatrix of the fault of eve and mediatrix of grace. Manifested to Sister Mary of Jesus, Prioress of the convent of the Immaculate Conception in Agreda, Spain. For new enlightenment of the world, for rejoicing of the Catholic Church, and encouragement of men. Completed in 1665.

        Venerable Mary of Agreda
        Translated from the Spanish by  Reverend George J. Blatter
        1914, So. Chicago, Ill., The Theopolitan; Hammond, Ind., W.B. Conkey Co., US..
        IMPRIMATUR:  +H.J. Alerding Bishop of Fort Wayne
        Translation from the Original Authorized Spanish Edition by Fiscar Marison (George J. Blatter). Begun on the Feast of the Assumption 1902, completed 1912.
        This work is published for the greater Glory of Jesus Christ through His most Holy Mother Mary and for the sanctification of the Church and her members.

        Book 7, Chapter 4


        As the new law of grace continued to spread in Jerusalem so the number of the faithful increased and the new evangelical Church was augmented day by day (Acts 5, 14). In like manner did the solicitude and attention of its great Queen and Teacher, Mary, expand toward the new children engendered by the Apostles through their preaching. As they were the foundation–stones of the Church, on which the security of that building was to depend, the most prudent Lady lavished especial care upon the apostolic college. Her heavenly solicitude augmented in proportion to the wrath of Lucifer against the followers of Christ and especially against the Apostles, as the ministers of eternal salvation to the other faithful. It will never be possible to describe or to estimate in this life the blessings and favors conferred by Her upon the Church and upon each of its mystical members. This happened especially in regard to the Apostles and disciples; for as has been revealed to me not a day or hour passed, in which she did not work for them many wonders. I will relate in this chapter some of the events, which are very instructive on account of the secrets of divine Providence therein contained. From them we can form an estimate of the most vigilant charity and zeal of the blessed Mary for souls.

        All the Apostles She loved and served with incredible affection and reverence, both on account of their great holiness and on account of their dignity as priests, as ministers, preachers and founders of the Gospel. During all their stay in Jerusalem She attended upon them, counseled them and directed them in the manner noted above. With the increase of the Church they were obliged to go outside of Jerusalem in order to baptize and admit to faith many of the inhabitants of the neighboring places; but they always returned to the city, because they had purposely delayed separating from each other, or leaving Jerusalem, until they should receive orders to do so. From the Acts we learn that saint Peter went Lydda and Jaffa, where he raised Tabitha from the dead and performed other miracles, returning again to Jerusalem. Although saint Luke relates these excursions after speaking of the death of saint Stephen (of which I shall treat in the following chapter), yet during these events, many were converted throughout Palestine, and it was necessary, that the Apostles go forth to preach to them and to confirm them in the faith, always returning in order to give an account of their doings to their heavenly Mistress.

        During all their journeys and preachings the common enemy of all sought to hinder the spread of the divine Word, or its fruit, by rousing the unbelievers to many contradictions and altercations with the Apostles and their listeners or converts; for it seemed to the infernal dragon more easy to assault them, when he saw them removed and far from the protection of their Mistress. So formidable the great Queen of the angels appeared to the hellish hosts, that in spite of the eminent holiness of the Apostles, Lucifer imagined them disarmed and at his mercy, easily approachable to his temptations, as soon as they left the presence of Mary. The furious pride of this dragon, as is written in Job (Job 41, 18), esteems the toughest steel as weak straw, and the hardest bronze as a stick of rotten wood. He fears not the dart nor the sling; but he dreaded the protection of the most blessed Mary, and in tempting the Apostles, he waited until they should have left her presence.

        But her protection failed them not on that account; for the great Lady, from the watch–tower of her exalted knowledge, reached out in every direction. Like a most vigilant sentinel She discovered the assaults of Lucifer and hastened to the relief of her sons and ministers of her Lord. When in her absence She could not speak to the Apostles in any of their afflictions, She immediately sent her holy angels to their assistance in order to encourage, forewarn and console them; and sometimes also to drive away the assaulting demons. All these the celestial spirits executed promptly in compliance with the orders of their Queen. At times they would do it secretly by inspirations and interior consolations; at others, and more frequently, they manifested themselves visibly, assuming most beautiful and refulgent bodies and informing the Apostles of what was proper for the occasion, or what had been ordered by their Mistress. This happened very often on account of their purity and holiness and on account of the necessity of favoring them with such an abundance of consolation and encouragement. In all their difficulties and labors the most loving Mother thus assisted them, besides offering up for them her continual prayers and thanksgiving. She was the strong Woman, whose domestics were sheltered by double garments; the Mother of the family, who supplied all with nourishment and who by the labors of her hands planted the vineyard of the Lord.

        With all the other faithful She proportionately exhibited the same care; and although there were many converts in Jerusalem and in Palestine, She remembered them all in their necessities and tribulations. And She thought not only of the needs of their souls, but of those of the body, and many She cured of most grave sicknesses. Others, whom She knew were not to be cured miraculously, She visited and assisted in person. Of the poor She took a still greater care, with her own hand administering to them food on their beds of sickness, and seeing to their being kept clean, as if She were the servant of all, infirm with the infirm. So great was the humility, the charity and solicitude of the great Queen of the world, that She refused no service or lowliest ministry to the faithful, no matter how humble and insignificant the condition of those applying for her assistance. She filled each one with joy and consolation and lightened all their labors. Those upon whom on account of their absence She could not personally attend, She assisted secretly through her holy angels or by her prayers and petitions.

        In an especial manner her maternal kindness exhibited itself to those who were in the agony of death; for she attended many of the dying and would not leave them until they had secured their eternal salvation. For those who went to purgatory She offered up most fervent prayers and performed some works of penance, such as prostrations in the form of a cross, genuflections and other exercises, by which She satisfied for their faults. Then She sent one of her angels in order to draw them from purgatory and present them to her Son in heaven as his own and as the fruits of his blood and Redemption. This happiness the Queen of heaven procured to many souls during her stay upon earth. And, as far as was made known to me, this favor is not denied in our days to those, who during their earthly life dispose themselves properly for meriting her presence, as I have written in another place. But, since it would be necessary to extend the scope of this history very much, if I were to describe how the most blessed Mary assisted many in the hour of death, I cannot dilate upon this matter. I will recount only one incident, in which She freed a girl from the jaws of the infernal dragon. It is one which is so extraordinary and worthy of the attention of us all, that it would not be right to omit it in this history, or deprive ourselves of the lesson it contains.

        Among the five thousand who were first converted and who received Baptism in Jerusalem, there was also a young girl of poor and humble parentage. This young woman, busying herself with her household duties, took ill and for many days She dragged on in her sickness without improvement. As happens to many other souls, she on that account fell from her first fervor and in her neglect committed some sins endangering her baptismal grace. Lucifer, who never relaxed in his thirst for the ruin of souls, approached this woman and attacked her with fiercest cruelty, being thus permitted by God to do so for his greater glory and that of his most blessed Mother. The demon appeared to her in the form of another woman and with much cajolery told her to withdraw from those people, who were preaching the Crucified, and not to believe anything they said, because it was all falsehood; that, if she would not follow this advice, she would be punished by the priests and judges who had crucified the Teacher of that new and counterfeit religion; whereas, if she obeyed, she would live peacefully and free from danger. The girl answered: “I will do what thou sayest; but what shall I do in regard to that Lady, whom I have seen with these men and women and who appears to be so kind and peaceful? I desire her good will very much.” The demon replied: “This One, whom thou mentionest, is worse than all the rest, and Her thou must shun before all. It is most important, that thou withdraw from her snares.”

        Infested with this deadly poison of the ancient serpent, the soul of this simple dove was brought near to eternal death and her body, instead of being relieved, dropped into more serious illness and was in danger of a premature end. One of the seventy–two disciples, who visited the faithful, was informed of the dangerous illness of the girl; for from her neighbors he heard that one of his sect living in that house, was on the point of expiring. The disciple entered in order to visit her and encourage her according to her necessities. But the sick girl was so ensnared by the demons, that she did not receive him or answer him one word, although he zealously sought to exhort and instruct her; she on the contrary sought to hide and stop her ears in order not to hear him. From these signs the Apostle saw the imminent peril of this soul, although he did not know the cause. Eagerly he hastened to report to the Apostle saint John who without delay visited the patient, admonishing her and speaking to her words of eternal life, if she would only listen. But she treated him in the same way as the disciple, obstinately resisting the efforts of both. The Apostle saw many legions of devils surrounding the girl and, though they retired at his approach, they failed not immediately afterward to renew the illusion with which they had filled the unhappy girl.

        Seeing her obstinacy, the Apostle betook himself in great affliction to the most blessed Mary in order to ask for help. Immediately the great Queen turned her interior vision upon the sick one and She recognized the unhappy and dangerous condition, in which the enemy had drawn that soul. The kind Mother bewailed this simple sheep, thus deceived by the bloodthirsty infernal wolf; and prostrate upon the floor She prayed for her rescue.

        The most blessed Mary continued for some time in this petition; but she received no answer from the Lord, in order that her invincible heart and her charity toward her neighbor might be put to the proof. The most prudent Virgin bethought Herself of what had happened to the prophet Eliseus (IV Kings 4, 34), who had vainly sent his staff with his servant Giezi to resuscitate the boy and had found that he himself must touch and stretch himself over his body in order to restore him to life. Neither the angel nor the Apostle were powerful enough to awaken from sin and from the stupor of satan that unfortunate girl; therefore the great Lady resolved to go and heal her in person. This resolve She recommended to the Lord in her prayer, and, although She received no answer, She considered that the work itself was a sufficient warranty to proceed. She arose therefore to leave her room and to walk with saint John to the dwelling of the sick woman, which was at some distance from the Cenacle. But no sooner had She taken the first steps than the holy angels, at the command of the Lord, approached to bear Her up on the way. As God had not manifested his intention, She asked them, why they thus detained Her; to which they answered: “There is no reason why we should consent to thy walking through the city, when we can bear Thee along with greater propriety.” Immediately they placed her upon a throne of resplendent clouds, on which they bore Her along and placed Her in the sick–room. The dying girl, being poor and now speechless, had been forsaken by all and was surrounded only by the demons, who waited to snatch off her soul.

        But as soon as the Queen of angels made her appearance all the evil spirits vanished like flashes of lightning and as if falling over each other in their dismay. The powerful Queen commanded them to descend into hell and remain there until She should permit them to come forth, and this they were forced to do without the least power of resistance. The kindest Mother then approached the sick woman and taking her by the hand and calling her by her name, spoke sweetest words of life. Instantly a complete change came over the girl, and she began to breathe more freely and recover herself. Then she said to the heavenly Mary: “My Lady, a woman came to me, who persuaded me to believe, that the disciples of Jesus were deceiving me and that I had better immediately separate myself from them and from Thee; otherwise, if I should accept their way of life, I should fall into great misfortune.” The Queen answered: “My daughter, she, who seemed to thee a woman, was thy enemy, the devil. I come in the name of the Most High to give thee eternal life; return then to his true faith which thou hast received, and confess Him with all thy heart as thy God and Redeemer, who, for thy salvation and that of all the world, has died upon the Cross. Adore and call upon Him, and ask Him for the pardon of thy sins.”

        All this,” the patient answered, “I have believed before; but they told me, it was very bad, and that they would punish me, if I should ever confess it.” The heavenly Teacher replied: “My friend, do not fear this deceit but remember that the chastisement and pains which are really to be feared are those of hell, to which the demons wish to bring thee, Thou art now very near death and thou canst avail thyself of the remedy I now offer thee, if thou wilt only believe me; and thou shalt thus free thyself of the eternal fire, which threatens thee on account of thy mistake.” Through this exhortation and the graces procured for this poor woman by Mary, she was moved to abundant tears of compunction and implored the blessed Lady further to assist her in this danger, declaring herself ready to obey all her commands. Then the loving Mother made her openly profess her faith in Jesus Christ and elicit an act of contrition in preparation for confession. At the same time She sent for the Apostles to administer the Sacraments to her. The sick girl, repeating the acts of contrition and love, and invoking Jesus and Mary, who was directing her, happily expired in the arms of her Protectress.


        The Virgin Mary speaks to Sister Mary of Agreda, Spain

        My daughter, since in this chapter thou hast particularly learnt of the matchless and bitter sorrow, with which I bewailed the perdition of souls, thou thyself must learn also what thou must do for the salvation of thy own and that of others in order to imitate me in the perfection which I require of thee. No torment, nor death itself, would I have refused, if such had been necessary to save any of the damned, and to save them, I would have esteemed all sufferings a sweet alleviation in my most ardent charity. Hence, if thou dost not die of this kind of sorrow, thou art at least not excused from willingness to suffer all that the Lord sends thee for advancing this cause, or from praying and laboring all in thy power to prevent any sin in thy neighbor; and when thou canst not all at once obtain thy object, or dost not know whether the Lord has heard thee, do not lose confidence, but enliven it and persevere in thy efforts; for such a solicitude can never displease Him, who desires the salvation of all his redeemed more than thou. If nevertheless thou art not heard in thy prayers, make use of the means which prudence and charity require, and return anew to thy prayers. The Most High is always attracted by this sort of charity for the neighbor and by the love which seeks to hinder sin. He desires not the death of the sinner (Ezech. 33, 11); and, as thou hast written, He Des not entertain an absolute and antecedent decree of damning his creatures, but seeks to save them all, if they not pursue perdition of their own free will. Although He permits this in his justice as being inseparable from the free will of man, it is against his inclination. Do not restrict thyself in these petitions, and in those concerning temporal things, pray that his holy will be done in all that is proper.

        If I desire that thou labor with such fervor of charity for the salvation of thy brethren, consider what thou must do to save thyself, and in what estimation thou must hold thy own soul, for which an infinite price was offered. I wish to admonish thee as a Mother, that, when temptations and passions incline thee toward the commission of any sin, no matter how small, remember the sorrows and the tears which the knowledge of the sins of men and the desire to prevent them has caused me. Do not thou cause the like in me, my dearest; for although I am now incapable of that pain, yet thou deprivest me of the accidental joy of seeing thee, to whom I condescended to become a Mother and Teacher, really endowed with the perfection taught in my school. If thou art unfaithful in this, thou wilt frustrate my great desire of seeing thee please my divine Son and accomplish his holy will in all its plenitude. By the infused light which thou receivest, do thou ponder how great are any faults thou mayest commit after being so favored and bound in duty to the Lord and to myself. Dangers and temptations will not be wanting to thee during the rest of thy earthly life; but in all of them remember my teaching, my sorrows and my tears, and above all what thou owest to my divine Son, who is so liberal toward thee in applying to thee the fruit of his blood for the purpose of eliciting thy grateful correspondence.

        Book 7, Chapter 5


        Among the saints who were especially fortunate in meriting the greater love of the Queen of heaven, there was one by the name of Stephen, who belonged to the seventy–two disciples; for from the very beginning of his following Christ our Savior, She looked upon him with an especial love, placing him first, or among the first, in her estimation. She immediately saw, that this saint was chosen by the Master of life for the defense of his honor and his holy name, and that he was to give up his life for him. Moreover this courageous saint was of a sweet and peaceful disposition; and he was rendered much more amiable and docile to all holiness by the workings of grace. Such dispositions made him very pleasing to the sweetest Mother; and whenever She found any persons naturally of a peaceful and meek character, She was wont to say, that they resembled her divine Son. On this account and on account of many heroic virtues of saint Stephen She loved him tenderly, procured him many blessings, and thanked the Lord for having created, called and chosen such a one for the first–fruits of his martyrs. In consideration of his coming martyrdom, revealed to Her by her divine Son, her heart was filled with additional affection for this great saint.

        The blessed saint corresponded in most faithful and deepest reverence with the benefits conferred upon him by Christ our Savior and his heavenly Mother; for he was not only of a peaceful, but of an humble heart, and those that are so disposed in truth, are thankful for all benefits, even though they may not be so great as those conferred on saint Stephen. He always entertained the highest conceptions concerning the Mother of mercy, and in his high esteem and fervent devotion he continued to seek her favor. He asked information on many mysterious matters; for he was very wise, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, as is told us by saint Luke. The great Lady answered all his inquiries, encouraged and exhorted him zealously to work for the honor of Christ. In order to confirm him more in his strong faith. Mary forewarned him of his coming martyrdom and said: “Thou, Stephen, shalt be the first–born of the martyrs, engendered by my divine Son and Lord by the example of his death; thou shalt follow his footsteps, like a privileged disciple his master, and like a courageous soldier his captain; and at the head of the army of martyrs, thou shalt carry his banner of the Cross. Hence it is meet thou arm thyself with fortitude under the shield of faith, and be assured, that the strength of the Most High shall be with thee in the conflict.”

        This warning of the Queen of the angels inflamed the heart of saint Stephen with the desire of martyrdom. As is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, he was filled with grace and fortitude and wrought great wonders in Jerusalem. Besides the Apostles saint Peter and saint John, no one except he dared to dispute with the Jews. His wisdom and spirit they could not resist, because he preached to them with an intrepid heart, refuted and accused them oftener and more courageously than the other disciples (Acts 68, 9). All this saint Stephen did with burning desire of attaining the martyrdom of which he had been assured by the great Lady. As if he were afraid of any one gaining this crown in advance of him, he offered himself before all others to engage in the disputes with the rabbis and teachers of the law of Moses, so eager was he to defend the honor of Christ, for whom he knew he would lay down his life. The infernal dragon, gradually becoming observant of the ambitions of saint Stephen, directed his malignant attention toward him and strove to hinder his attaining public martyrdom in testimony of the faith of Christ. In order to destroy him, he incited the most incredulous of the Jews to kill saint Stephen in secret.

        But saint Stephen did not on that account neglect preaching or arguing with the unbelieving Jews. As these Jews could not murder him in secret, nor overcome his wisdom in public, they vented their mortal hatred in seeking false testimony against him (Acts 6, 1). They accused him of blasphemy against God and against Moses, of inveighing continually against the holy temple and the Law, and of asserting that Jesus would destroy as well the one, as the other. As the witnesses loudly proclaimed their slander and the people were being roused by their falsehoods, they brought him into the hall where the priests were gathered as the judges of these accusations. The presiding judge first took the deposition of saint Stephen before the court. The saint took occasion to prove with highest wisdom, that Christ was the true Messiah promised to them in the holy Scriptures; and in conclusion he reprehended them for their unbelief and hardness of heart so strongly, that they could find no answer and, gnashing their teeth they stopped their ears, in order not to be obliged to hear his words.

        The Queen of heaven knew of the seizure of saint Stephen; and, in order to animate him in her name for the approaching conflict, She immediately sent him one of her angels, even before he entered into dispute with the priests. Through the holy angel saint Stephen sent Her answer, that he went with joy to confess his Master and with unflinching heart to give his life for Him, as he had always desired. Through the same messenger, he begged Her, as his kindest Teacher and Mother, to assist him and, from her retirement, to send him her blessing, since his not having been able to obtain her parting benediction was the only regret he felt now, when he was about to lay down his life according to Her wishes. These last words of saint Stephen moved the maternal bosom of Mary to even greater love and esteem than hitherto; and She desired to attend upon him in person, at this hour, when her beloved disciple was to give up his life for the honor and defense of his God and Redeemer. But the blessed Mother hesitated at the difficulties, which would arise in her passing through the streets of Jerusalem at a time of popular excitement and also in finding an opportunity of speaking publicly to saint Stephen.

        She prostrated Herself in prayer, begging the divine favor for her beloved disciple; and She presented to the Lord her desire of helping him in the last hour. The clemency of the Most High, which is always at the beck of his Spouse and Mother and which was anxious to enhance the death of his faithful disciple and servant Stephen, sent from heaven a multitude of angels, who, with those of her guard, should carry their Queen to the place where the saint then was. And immediately the mandate of the Lord was executed: the angels placed Her upon a refulgent cloud and bore Her to the tribunal, where the highpriest was examining into the charges against saint Stephen. The vision of the Queen of heaven was hidden from all except the saint. He however saw Her before him, supported in the air by the holy angels in a cloud of heavenly splendor and glory. This extraordinary favor inflamed anew the divine love and the ardent zeal of this champion of the honor of God. In addition to the joy of seeing Mary, the splendors of the Queen shone from the countenance of saint Stephen, that it gleamed with wonderful beauty and light.

        At the end of this discourse, through the intercession of the Queen and as a reward of the unconquered zeal of saint Stephen, the heavens opened and the Savior appeared to him standing at the right hand of the Father in the act of assisting him in the conflict. Saint Stephen raised his eyes and said “Behold I see the heavens opened and its glory, and in it I see Jesus at the right hand of God himself” (Acts 7, 55). But the obdurate perfidy of the Jews esteemed these words as blasphemy and they stopped their ears in order not to hear them. As the punishment of blasphemers according to the law, was death by stoning, they passed upon him that sentence. Then they all surrounded him like wolves and dragged him from the city with great haste and noise. At this juncture the blessed Mother gave him her benediction and speaking to him words of encouragement and endearment, She left him in charge of her angels, whom She ordered to accompany him and to remain with him until they should present his soul to the Most High. Only one of the guardian angels, in company with those that had descended from heaven as her escort to saint Stephen, now returned with Her to the Cenacle. From her retirement the great Lady by an especial vision saw all that happened in the martyrdom of saint Stephen: how they led him forth from the city with great haste and violence, shouting that he was a blasphemer worthy of death; how Saul was among them, more zealous than the rest, guarding the vestments of those who had taken them off to stone saint Stephen; how the shower of stones fell upon the saint and wounded him, some of them remaining fixed in his head and stained by his blood. Great and tender was the compassion of our Queen at such cruel martyrdom; but still greater her joy in seeing saint Stephen meeting it so gloriously. The kindest Mother failed him not in her tearful prayers from her oratory. When the invincible martyr saw himself near to death, he prayed: “Lord receive my spirit!” Then, on his knees, he exclaimed with a loud voice: “Lord lay not this sin to their charge!” (Acts 6, 55). In these prayers he was supported by those of the blessed Mary, who was filled with incredible joy to see the faithful disciple imitating so closely his divine Master by praying for his enemies and persecutors and commending his spirit into the hands of his Creator and Redeemer.

        Covered with wounds from the shower of stones thrown by the Jews, saint Stephen expired, while they became still more hardened in their perfidy. Immediately the angels of the Queen bore his pure soul to the presence of God in order to be crowned with eternal honor and glory.

        Saint Luke says, that on the same day on which saint Stephen was stoned to death, a great persecution arose against the Church in Jerusalem. He mentions especially that Saul devastated it, searching through the whole city for the followers of Christ in order to seize and denounce them before the magistrates. This he did to many of the believers, who were arrested, illtreated, and killed in this persecution. Although it was very severe on account of the hatred, which the princes and priests had conceived against the Christians, and on account of the zealous efforts of Saul in his jealous defense of the law of Moses (of which he himself speaks in the letter to the Galatians 1, 13); yet there was another cause for this severity, the effects of which they felt, though they knew not its origin.

        The most prudent Mother bore in mind, that the disciples, having dispersed to preach the name and faith of Christ the Savior, had as yet no formula or express creed to guide themselves uniformly and without differences, so that all the faithful might believe one and the same express truths. Moreover She knew that the Apostles would soon have to go forth over the whole world in order to spread and establish the Church through their preaching, and that it was proper that all should be united in their doctrine, upon which was to be founded all the perfection of a Christian life. Therefore the most prudent Mother of wisdom wished to see all the divine mysteries, which the Apostles were to preach and the faithful to believe, reduced to a short formula. For if those truths were moulded into a few articles, they could more conveniently be brought to the mind of all, the whole Church would be united in one belief without any essential difference, and the whole spiritual edifice of the Gospel would thus rest and be built up on the same firm columns of one foundation. In order to prepare for this work, the importance of which She recognized, She presented her wishes to the Lord, who had inspired them, and for more than forty days She persevered in this prayer with fasting, prostrations and other exercises.

        In answer to her prayer for the Apostles, besides promising to assist them in preparing the symbol of the faith, the Lord informed his Mother of the very wording of the propositions or articles, of which the Creed was to be composed. Of all this the most prudent Lady was well capable, as was explained more fully in the second part of this history; but now, when the time had arrived for executing what had been intended so long before, He wished to renew it all in the purest heart of his virgin Mother, in order that the fundamental truths of the Church might flow from the lips of Christ himself. He inspired saint Peter his vicar and the rest with the desire of setting up a symbol of the universal faith of the Church. Accordingly they sought conference with the heavenly Mistress concerning its opportuneness and the measures to be taken for this purpose. They resolved to fast and persevere in prayer for ten continuous days, in order to receive the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in this arduous affair. Having completed these ten days, which were also the last ten of the forty, in which the Queen had treated with the Lord about this matter, the twelve Apostles met in the presence of Mary, and saint Peter spoke to them as follows:

        My dear brethren, the divine mercy, in its infinite goodness and through the merits of our Savior and Master Jesus, has favored his holy Church by gloriously multiplying its children, as we have seen and experienced in this short time. For this purpose the Almighty has multiplied miracles and prodigies and daily renews them through our ministry, having chosen us (though unworthy) as the instruments of his divine will in this work and for the glory and honor of his holy name. Together with these favors He has sent us tribulations and persecutions of the devil and of the world, in order that we may imitate our Savior and Captain, and in order that the Church, evenly ballasted, might reach more securely the port of rest and eternal felicity. The disciples have evaded the wrath of the chief priest and spread through the neighboring cities, preaching the faith of Christ our Redeemer and Lord. We must also soon depart and preach throughout the globe, according to the command of the Lord before ascending into heaven (Matth. 28, 19). Just as there is but one Baptism in which men are to receive this faith, so there must be but one doctrine, which the faithful are to believe. Hence it is meet that we, who are as yet gathered harmoniously in the Lord, define the truths and mysteries which we are to propound expressly to all the nations of the world, and thus, without difference of opinions, believe the same doctrines. It is the infallible promise of the Lord, that where two or three shall be gathered in his name, He shall be in their midst (Matth. 18, 20). Confiding in his word we firmly hope, that He will now assist us with His divine Spirit to understand and define, in his name by an unchangeable decree, the articles to be established in his holy Church as long as it shall last, to the end of the world.”

        All the Apostles consented to this proposal of Peter. Then he celebrated a Mass, in which he gave Communion to the most holy Mary and the Apostles whereupon they all, including the blessed Mother, prostrated themselves in prayer calling upon the Holy Ghost. After continuing their prayers for some time they heard the rumbling of thunder, as on the first coming down of the Holy Ghost upon the gathering of the faithful; at the same time the Cenacle was filled with light and splendor and all were enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Then the most blessed Mary asked each of the Apostles to define a mystery, according as the divine Spirit should inspire them. Thereupon saint Peter began, and was followed by the rest in the following order:

        1. Saint Peter: I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
        2. Saint Andrew : And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
        3 and 4. Saint James the Greater: Who was conceived through operation of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.
        5. Saint John: Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.
        6 and 7. Saint Thomas: Descended into hell, arose from the dead on the third day.
        8. Saint James the Less: Ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
        9. Saint Philip: From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
        10. Saint Bartholomew: I believe in the Holy Ghost.
        11. Saint Matthew: In the holy Catholic Church, the Communion of saints.
        12. Saint Simon: Forgiveness of sins.
        13. Saint Thaddeus: The resurrection of the flesh.
        14. Saint Mathias: Life everlasting. Amen.

        This symbol, which we ordinarily call the Creed, the Apostles established after the martyrdom of saint Stephen and before the end of the first year after the death of the Savior. Afterwards, in order to refute the Arian and other heresies, the Church, in the councils held on their account, explained more fully the mysteries contained in the Apostles’ Creed and composed the one now chanted in the Mass. But in substance both are one and the same and contain the fourteen articles, which are the basis for the catechetical teaching of the Christian faith and which we are all bound to believe in order to be saved. As soon as the Apostles had finished pronouncing this Creed, the Holy Ghost approved of it by permitting a voice to be heard in their midst saying: “You have decided well.” Then the great Queen and Lady of heaven with all the Apostles gave thanks to the Most High; and She thanked also them for having merited the assistance of the divine Spirit, so as to be his apt instruments in promoting the glory of the Lord and the good of the Church. In confirmation of her faith and as an example to the faithful, the most prudent Mistress fell at the feet of saint Peter, loudly proclaimed her belief in the Catholic doctrine as contained in the symbol they had just now composed and formulated. This She did for Herself and in the name of all the faithful, saying to saint Peter: “My lord, whom I recognize as the vicar of my most holy Son, in thy hands, I, a vile wormlet, in my name and in the name of all the faithful of the Church, confess and proclaim all that thou hast set down as the divine and infallible truth of the Catholic church; and in it I bless and exalt the Most High, from whom it proceeds.” She kissed the hands of the vicar of Christ and of the rest of the Apostles. Thus She was the first one thus openly to profess the Catholic faith after it had been formulated into articles.

        Already a full year had passed since the death of Savior, and now the Apostles, by divine impulse, began to consider about going forth to preach the faith throughout the world; for it was time that the name of God be preached also to the heathens and that they be taught the way of eternal salvation. In order to consult the will of God in the assignment of the kingdoms and provinces in which each one was to preach, they, upon the advice of their Queen, resolved to fast and pray for ten successive days. This practice of fasting and praying for ten days, which they had observed immediately after Ascension in disposing themselves for the coming of the Holy Ghost, they afterwards also retained in preparing themselves for the more important undertakings. Having completed these exercises, the vicar of Christ celebrated Mass and communicated the most blessed Mary and the eleven Apostles, as they had done in preparing the Creed and as is mentioned in the last chapter. After Mass they all persevered with their Queen for some time in most exalted prayer, ardently invoking the assistance of the holy Ghost for the manifestation of his will in this matter.

        At the ending of this prayer a wonderful light descended upon the Cenacle surrounding them all and a voice was heard saying: “My vicar Peter shall point out the province, which falls to each one. I shall govern and direct him by my light and spirit.” The appointments themselves the Holy Ghost left to saint Peter in order to confirm anew his power as head and universal pastor of the Church, and in order that the Apostles might understand, that it was to be founded throughout the world under the direction of saint Peter and his successors, to whom they were to be subject as the vicars of Christ. They were filled with a new light and knowledge concerning the peoples and provinces assigned to them by saint Peter, and each one recognized the conditions, nature and customs of the kingdoms singled out for him, being furnished interiorly with the most distinct and abundant information concerning each. The Most High gave them new fortitude to encounter labors; agility for overcoming distances, although in this regard they were afterwards to be frequently assisted by the holy angels; and the fire of divine love, so that they be came inflamed like seraphim lifted far beyond the condition and sphere of mere human creatures.

        The most blessed Queen was present at all these events, and the workings of the divine power in the Apostles and in Herself, were very clear to Her; for on this occasion, She experienced more of the divine influences than all of them together. As She was exalted supereminently above all creatures, so the increase of her gifts was in like proportion, transcending immeasurably those of others. The Most High renewed in the purest spirit of his Mother the infused knowledge concerning creatures, and especially concerning the kingdoms and nations assigned to the Apostles. She knew all that each one knew, and more than they all together, because She received a personal and individual knowledge of each person to whom the faith of Christ was to be preached; and She was made relatively just as familiar with all the earth and its inhabitants, as She was with Her oratory and all those that entered therein.

        As I have said above and shall often repeat farther on, the knowledge of Mary was the knowledge of a supreme Mistress, Mother, Governess and Sovereign of the Church, which the Almighty had placed in her hands. She was to take care of all, from the highest to the lowest of the saints, and also of the sinners as the children of Eve. As no one was to receive any blessing or favor from the hands of her Son except through that of his Mother, it was necessary that this most faithful Dispensatrix of grace should know all of her family, whom She was to guard as a Mother, and such a Mother! The great Lady therefore had not only infused images and knowledge of all this, but She actually experienced it according as the disciples and Apostles proceeded in their work of preaching. Before Her lay open all their labors and dangers, and the attacks of the demons against them; the petitions and prayers of these and of all the faithful, so that She might be able to support them with her own, or aid them through her angels or by Herself in person; for in all these different ways did She render her assistance, as we shall see in many events yet to be described.

        I wish merely to state here, that besides the knowledge derived by our Queen from infused images She had also in God himself another knowledge of things through her abstractive vision, by which She continually saw the Divinity. But there was a difference between these two different kinds of knowledge: since, when she saw in God the labors of the Apostles and of all the faithful of the Church enjoying at the same time through this vision a certain participation of the eternal beatitude, the most loving Mother was not affected with the sensible sorrow and compassion, which filled Her when perceiving these tribulations themselves through images. In this latter kind of vision She felt and bewailed them with maternal compassion. In order that this merit might not be wanting in Her, the Lord conferred this second kind of knowledge upon Her for all the time of her pilgrimage here below. Joined with this plenitude of infused species and knowledge, She held also absolute command of her faculties, as I said above, so that She admitted no images or ideas except those that were absolutely necessary for sustaining life, or for some work of charity or perfection. With this adornment and beauty, which was patent to the angels and saints, the heavenly Lady was an object of admiration, inducing them to praise and glorify the Most High for the worthy exercise of all his attributes in Mary, his most holy instrument.

        A few days after the partition of the earth among the Apostles, they began to leave Jerusalem, especially those that were allotted the provinces of Palestine, and first among them was saint James the greater. Others stayed longer in Jerusalem, because the Lord wished the faith to be preached there more abundantly and the Jews to be called before all others, if they chose to come and accept the invitation to the marriage–feast of the Gospel; for in the blessing of the Redemption this people, although more ungrateful than the heathens, was especially favored. Afterwards all the Apostles gradually departed for the regions assigned to them, according as time and season demanded and as obedience to the divine Spirit, the counsel of the most holy Mary, and the order of saint Peter dictated. But before leaving Jerusalem each one visited the holy places, such as the garden, Calvary the holy Sepulchre, the place of the Ascension, Bethany and the other memorable spots as far as possible. All of them showed their veneration, moved even to tears and regarding with loving wonder the very earth which the Savior had touched. Then they visited the Cenacle, reverencing the spot where so many mysteries had taken place. There, again commending themselves to her protection, they took leave of the great Queen of heaven. The blessed Mother dismissed them with words of sweetness and divine virtue.

        But admirable was the solicitude and care of the most prudent Lady in showing Herself as the true Mother of the Apostles at their departure. For each of the twelve She made a woven tunic similar to that of Christ our Savior, of a color between brown and ash–gray; and in order to weave these garments She called to aid her holy angels. She furnished each of the Apostles garments the same kind and like to that formerly worn by their Master Jesus: for She wished that they should imitate Him even in their garments and thereby be known exteriorly as his disciples. The great Lady procured also twelve crosses of the height and size of each of the Apostles and gave one to each, so that, as a witness of their doctrine and for their consolation, they might carry it along in their wanderings and their preaching. Each of the Apostles preserved and carried this cross with him to his death; and as they were so loud in praise of the Cross, some of the tyrants made use of this very instrument to torment them happily to death.

        Moreover the devout Mother furnished each one of them with a small metal case, in which She placed three of the thorns from the crown of her divine Son, some pieces of the cloths in which She had wrapped the infant Savior, and of the linen with which She had wiped and caught the most precious blood of the Circumcision and Passion of the Lord. All these sacred pledges She had preserved with the greatest care and veneration, as the Mother and the Treasure–keeper of heaven. In order to consign them to the Apostles She called them together and, with the majesty of a Queen and the tenderness of a Mother, She told them that these remembrances, with which She would enrich them on their departure, were the greatest treasures in her possession; for in them they would carry with them vivid remembrances of her divine Son and the certain assurance, that the Lord loved them as his children and as ministers of the Most High. Then She handed them those relics, which they received with tears of consolation and joy. They thanked the great Queen for these favors and prostrated themselves in adoration of the sacred relics. Embracing they bade farewell to each other, saint James being the first to depart and commence his mission.


        The Virgin Mary speaks to Sister Mary of Agreda, Spain

        My daughter, by the lessons contained in this chapter I wish to draw thee to deplore, with inmost groaning and sighing and, if possible, with tears of blood, the difference between the state of the holy Church in our times and that of those primitive times; how its purest gold of holiness has been obscured (Thren. 4.1,), and the ancient beauty in which the Apostles have founded it, is lost; how it has sought foreign and deceitful powders and paints to cover the horrid and distorted ugliness of vice. In order that thou mayest penetrate into this truth, thou must renew in thyself the consideration of the force and eagerness, with which the Divinity seeks to communicate his goodness and perfection to creatures. So great is the impetus of the river of God’s goodness overflowing on mankind, that only the free will of man, which He has given to Him in order to receive benefits, can raise a dam against it; and whenever, through this free will, man resists the influence and force of the divine Goodness, he (according to thy mode of understanding), violates and grieves this immense love in its very essence. But if creatures would place no obstacle and permit its operations, the whole soul would be inundated and satiated with participation in its divine essence and attributes. It would raise the fallen from the dust, enrich the indigent children of Adam, place them above all their miseries and seat them with the princes of his glory (I Kings 2, 8).

        From this, my daughter, thou wilt understand two things unknown to human wisdom. First, how pleasing to the highest Goodness is the service of those who, with an ardent zeal for God’s glory, devote their labor and solicitude toward removing the obstacles, which men place to their own justification and the communication of his favors. The satisfaction of the Most High, arising from this work in others, cannot be estimated in mortal life. On this account the ministry of the Apostles, the prelates, the priests and preachers of the divine word are so highly exalted; for they succeed in office those, who founded the Church and who labored in its preservation and extension; all of them are to be co–operators and executors of the immense love of God for the souls created to be sharers in his Divinity. Secondly, thou must ponder the greatness and abundance of the gifts and favors, which the infinite power communicates to those souls, who do not hinder his most liberal bounty. The Lord manifested this truth immediately in the beginnings of the evangelical Church, when, to all those who were to enter into it, He showed his bounty by such great prodigies and wonders, frequently sending the Holy Ghost in a visible manner, working miracles in those who accepted the Creed, and showering forth other hidden favors on the faithful.


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        Catholic Catechism  





        ARTICLE 9

        You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's.299Every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.300  
        2514 St. John distinguishes three kinds of covetousness or concupiscence: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life.301 In the Catholic catechetical tradition, the ninth commandment forbids carnal concupiscence; the tenth forbids coveting another's goods.

        2515 Etymologically, "concupiscence" can refer to any intense form of human desire. Christian theology has given it a particular meaning: the movement of the sensitive appetite contrary to the operation of the human reason. The apostle St. Paul identifies it with the rebellion of the "flesh" against the "spirit."302 Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of the first sin. It unsettles man's moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sins.303
        2516 Because man is a composite being, spirit and body, there already exists a certain tension in him; a certain struggle of tendencies between "spirit" and "flesh" develops. But in fact this struggle belongs to the heritage of sin. It is a consequence of sin and at the same time a confirmation of it. It is part of the daily experience of the spiritual battle:
        For the Apostle it is not a matter of despising and condemning the body which with the spiritual soul constitutes man's nature and personal subjectivity. Rather, he is concerned with the morally good or bad works, or better, the permanent dispositions - virtues and vices - which are the fruit of submission (in the first case) or of resistance (in the second case) to the saving action of the Holy Spirit. For this reason the Apostle writes: "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."304
        2517 The heart is the seat of moral personality: "Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication. . . . "305 The struggle against carnal covetousness entails purifying the heart and practicing temperance:
        Remain simple and innocent, and you will be like little children who do not know the evil that destroys man's life.306
        2518 The sixth beatitude proclaims, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."307 "Pure in heart" refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God's holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity;308 chastity or sexual rectitude;309 love of truth and orthodoxy of faith.310 There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith:
        The faithful must believe the articles of the Creed "so that by believing they may obey God, by obeying may live well, by living well may purify their hearts, and with pure hearts may understand what they believe."311
        2519 The "pure in heart" are promised that they will see God face to face and be like him.312 Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God. Even now it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as "neighbors"; it lets us perceive the human body - ours and our neighbor's - as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of divine beauty.

        2520 Baptism confers on its recipient the grace of purification from all sins. But the baptized must continue to struggle against concupiscence of the flesh and disordered desires. With God's grace he will prevail
        - by the virtue and gift of chastity, for chastity lets us love with upright and undivided heart;
        - by purity of intention which consists in seeking the true end of man: with simplicity of vision, the baptized person seeks to find and to fulfill God's will in everything;313
        - by purity of vision, external and internal; by discipline of feelings and imagination; by refusing all complicity in impure thoughts that incline us to turn aside from the path of God's commandments: "Appearance arouses yearning in fools";314
        - by prayer:
        I thought that continence arose from one's own powers, which I did not recognize in myself. I was foolish enough not to know . . . that no one can be continent unless you grant it. For you would surely have granted it if my inner groaning had reached your ears and I with firm faith had cast my cares on you.315
        2521 Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.

        2522 Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.

        2523 There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies. 
        2524 The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening consciousness of being a subject. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person. 
        2525 Christian purity requires a purification of the social climate. It requires of the communications media that their presentations show concern for respect and restraint. Purity of heart brings freedom from widespread eroticism and avoids entertainment inclined to voyeurism and illusion.

        2526 So called moral permissiveness rests on an erroneous conception of human freedom; the necessary precondition for the development of true freedom is to let oneself be educated in the moral law. Those in charge of education can reasonably be expected to give young people instruction respectful of the truth, the qualities of the heart, and the moral and spiritual dignity of man.

        2527 "The Good News of Christ continually renews the life and culture of fallen man; it combats and removes the error and evil which flow from the ever-present attraction of sin. It never ceases to purify and elevate the morality of peoples. It takes the spiritual qualities and endowments of every age and nation, and with supernatural riches it causes them to blossom, as it were, from within; it fortifies, completes, and restores them in Christ."316

        IN BRIEF
        2528 "Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt 5:28).
        2529 The ninth commandment warns against lust or carnal concupiscence.
        2530 The struggle against carnal lust involves purifying the heart and practicing temperance.
        2531 Purity of heart will enable us to see God: it enables us even now to see things according to God.
        2532 Purification of the heart demands prayer, the practice of chastity, purity of intention and of vision.
        2533 Purity of heart requires the modesty which is patience, decency, and discretion. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person

        299 Ex 20:17.
        300 Mt 5:28.
        301 Cf. 1 Jn 2:16.
        302 Cf. Gal 5:16,17,24; Eph 2:3.
        303 Cf. Gen 3:11; Council of Trent: DS 1515.
        304 John Paul II, DeV 55; cf. Gal 5:25.
        305 Mt 15:19.
        306 Pastor Hermae, Mandate 2,1:PG 2,916.
        307 Mt 5:8.
        308 Cf. 1 Tim 4:3-9; 2 Tim 2:22.
        309 Cf. 1 Thess 4:7; Col 3:5; Eph 4:19.
        310 Cf. Titus 1:15; 1 Tim 1:3-4; 2 Tim 2:23-26.
        311 St. Augustine, Defide et symbolo 10,25:PL 40,196.
        312 Cf. 1 Cor 13:12; 1 Jn 3:2.
        313 Cf. Rom 12:2; Col 1:10.
        314 Wis 15:5.
        315 St. Augustine, Conf. 6,11,20:PL 32,729-730.
        316 GS 58 § 4.


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        RE-CHARGE:  Heaven Speaks to Young Adults

        To all tween, teens and young adults, A Message from Jesus: "Through you I will flow powerful conversion graces to draw other young souls from darkness. My plan for young men and women is immense. Truly, the renewal will leap forward with the assistance of these individuals. Am I calling you? Yes. I am calling you. You feel the stirring in your soul as you read these words. I am with you. I will never leave you. Join My band of young apostles and I will give you joy and peace that you have never known. All courage, all strength will be yours. Together, we will reclaim this world for the Father. I will bless your families and all of your relationships. I will lead you to your place in the Kingdom. Only you can complete the tasks I have set out for you. Do not reject Me. I am your Jesus. I love you...Read this book, upload to your phones/ipads.computers and read a few pages everyday...and then Pay It Forward...


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