Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cardinal Virtues

I am back after a very long interlude of vacation with my little ones. Now that our regular schedule is back, I can find a few moments of quiet and write my blog. I have to say, I missed it!

I plan to write about the virtues, now forgotten or laugh at, but for those who are willing to rediscover them, it is a great treasure of our Catholic Faith.
Let us start with the Cardinal virtues.

Virtue comes from the Latin word "vir" or man and cardinal from the word "cardo" or hinge. Even the pagans of old had great respect for the virtues. Cicero said "The term virtue is from the word that signifies man; a man's chief quality is fortitude." Can a woman be virtuous as well? Of course, but the way we practice the virtues will be imbued with our own femininity.

The cardinal virtues or human virtues are prudence, fortitude, justice and temperance. All the other moral virtues repose on these four. Wisdom 8:7 says "If anyone loves righteousness, wisdom's labors are virtues; for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice and courage."

According to the CCC (1809-1810), the human virtues are acquired by "education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace".

With God's grace, we are called to strive deliberately, repeatedly to acquire the cardinal virtues and the other moral virtues. The goal of acquiring the virtues is to do good and as St. Gregory of Nyssa said "The goal of the virtuous life is the become like God".

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Green Scapular

When I was 8 years old, I spend the summer with my grandparents, at their farmhouse. One evening, my grandmother gave me the Green Scapular and asked me to say the prayer "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us, now and at the hour of our death" every evening before bed. I kept it next to my bed and said the prayer faithfully. I still have one today.

The scapular was given in 1840 by Our Lady to Sister Justine Bisqueyburu, a Daughter of Charity from the rue du Bac, Paris. She was an heiress who had consecrated her life early to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. During her noviciate, her spiritual director was Fr Aladel, who had also been the director of St. Catherine Laboure. At first, he didn't beleive in her revelations from Our Lady and forbid her to discuss it. It took many years of discernment for the scapular to be distributed. Sr. Justine trained as a nurse and was send to the Crimean war. She made such an impression on Florence Nightingale that the latter decided to base her new nursing order on the rule of the Daughters of Charity. Sr Justine also served in North Africa and found the way to stop cholera transmission among the patients and staff at her hospital. She was a confidente of Pius IX during his emprisonement at the Vatican. It is Pius IX who approved the scapular in 1870 as a sacramental of the Church.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Today is the Feast of St. Thomas, the one who expressed his doubt aloud. He is somewhat looked down upon because of this: we hear him called "doubting Thomas". I think he is "honest Thomas", he said aloud what others might have kept to themselves. He is also "believing Thomas" because of his remarkable profession of faith "My Lord and My God" after Jesus, without scolding, showed him His wounds. St. Thomas triumphed of his doubt by taking refuge in the Holy Wounds of Christ and became the apostle to India and died a Martyr.

What to make of doubt? The Holy Father said "Faith can only mature by suffering anew, at every stage in life, the oppression and power of unbelief, by admitting its reality and then finally going right through it, so that it again finds the path opening ahead for a while."

Doubt is not to be denied, but admitted and put before the Lord. "I do believe, help my unbelief" (Mk 9:24). He will not refuse us and will show us His Wounds so that faith might triumph in our poor hearts.
St. Anthony of Padua said "By doubting, Thomas got to know more deeply and to stand more securely."

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Family time

I am taking the long week-end off with my little family; we have a few events planned this week including a baptism. However, I suspect most of my time will be devoted to my young children and husband (one can hope with the same pastoral calm as reflected in this painting by Fragonard).
I will be back to my blog (and the other cares of regular life) at the beginning of the week.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Saints Peter and Paul

This Feast is quite remarkable: we honor two great saints, very different from one another, who even argued together on how to deal with the Gentiles joining the young Church. There was Peter, the fisherman, impulsive, wholehearted, who denied Our Lord and Paul, the Roman citizen, the intellectual, who persecuted Our Lord through His Church. However, it is what brings them togheter that is more important: they met the Risen Christ, they were forgiven, and filled with the Spirit, they fulfilled their Apostolic mission and were crowned with martyrdom.
"They were able to overcome every trial because their trust was not based on human resources but on the grace of the Lord, who delivers his friends from every evil and saves them for his kingdom." Pope John Paul II
The preface of the Holy Mass today presents this beautifully:
"Peter raised up the Church from the faithful flock of Israel. Paul brought your call to the nations and became the teacher of the world.
Each in his chosen way gathered into unity the one family of Christ. Both shared a martyr's death and are praised throughout the world."
All in our chosen way, we are called by God to build His Kingdom, not ours. May the example of Sts. Peter and Paul inspires us to stay faithful and to be united in Christ's love (however different we may be individually).

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Motu proprio

The Holy Father will release a motu proprio very soon concerning the use of the classical rite in the Church. As I was born in Quebec after Vatican II, I never had any exposure to the latin rite. I have always attended mass with the Novus Ordo, popular songs and guitars and banners and hand-clapping. However, I am quite fascinated by the old rite, by latin, the language of the Church. It is for this mass that so many saints died and didn't St. Edith Stein sit down on the front pew, everyday, awed by this Liturgy? There is some fear about the old rite: it has been presented to me as a child as...dark and irrelevant. On the other hand, the churches of my youth are now empty.
In my current parish church, the Holy Mass is in the Novus Ordo and we have a dedicated priest. Young, devout families are breathing new life in our church. But sometimes, I yearn for more...more beauty (I am no fan of banners), more reverence and more than the "Glory and Praise"... Saint Francois de Sales wrote that: "Exterior reverence is a great aid to the interior".
The Holy Father is enriching the Church by this motu proprio and this can only be a good thing for all.

Friday abstinence

This friday is the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul and we can celebrate their feast day with a good meal. However, all fridays of the year are days of penance. So, catholics from age fourteen to sixty are bound to abstinence of meat or another food or acts of penance according to their Bishops' conference (exceptions: when the friday falls on a first class feast or during an octave) . Both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of required fast and abstinence and abstinence from meat is also obligatory on the fridays of Lent. Children, the elderly, the sick, pregnant and nursing women are not bound to this obligation. It is also good to remind ourselves that any deprivation that would hinder the service of our vocation and of our state in life is not the will of God.

The Church shows its wisdom by prescribing days of fast, abstinence and penance. Meals are important to the domestic church and are essential in living the Liturgical year. By following the days of fast, abstinence and the feasts, we can recall to our memory the events of the lives of Christ, Mary and the Saints. It also helps us curb our passions (starting by the one for food) and realize how blessed we are by Our Lord. More importantly, it unites us to His suffering and the suffering of His Church in a special way. The Feast days are then appreciated and celebrated in a deeper manner.

The domestic church can live friday penance in many small ways:

- cook a vegeterian or fish dish

- make the meal plain and forego desert

- if the children do not like your menu, have them eat a small "offering" portion as a sacrifice before giving them something else

- collect money from each member of the family for the Sunday offering

- make the day a "no complaint day" and reward the family with a surprise treat on Sunday or Saturday

To help vary the menu, here is a recipe of Quiche (from my mother) that is easy to make and nutritious as well. It is crustless, so no pate brise to make!

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup of milk

1 cup of flour

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of baking powder

2 cups of broccoli florets (or any other vegetable), cooked

1/4 cup of chopped onion

1 cup of grated cheese

2 tablespoons of butter

Warm up the oven at 350C.

Melt the butter and pour in a baking dish.

Whisk the milk and eggs together in a large bowl. Add the flour, salt and baking powder; whisk until smooth. Add the chopped onion, broccoli and cheese and mix. Pour in the baking dish and cook for about 45 minutes or until cooked. Et voila!