Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Friday, July 6, 2007
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
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
It was also the property of the von Fersen family from 1736 to 1839. It is said that Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI would have lived there, had they escaped to Sweden. After the murder of Count von Fersen by a brutal mob in Stockholm, 1810, a monument to his memory was build on the Castle grounds in 1813.
His beloved sister, Sophie wrote his epitaph: "To an unforgettable brother, the courage in his last moments on the 20th of June, 1810, bears testimony to his virtues and clean conscience."
I will continue the story of St. Clotilde tomorrow.
Monday, June 25, 2007
I missed her Feast day, June 3rd, but I have a special fondness for the extraordinary saints from this much maligned period of history called the Middle-ages. The medieval era opened with a woman and a saint named Clotilda.
She was a princess, her parents ruling over Burgundy. Her family was Catholic; this is important because most of the barbarian kings at the time were arians, they denied the divinity of Christ. Her own mother was said to be a remarkable woman herself and schooled her in the truths of the Catholic faith. After the death of her father, her uncle Gondebaud, who was arian became King of Burgundy. Despite the pressure that she must have encountered, she remained faithful to the Church.
Clovis, the King of the Franks, having heard of her beauty, wisdom and royal descent, asked for her hand in marriage. Yes, said Clotilde, but to this yes she puts a condition: she must be free to practice her Catholic faith. She then left an arian nation for a pagan nation.
Clotilde gave birth to a first son, Ingomir and immediately asked for his baptism. Clovis accepted and the child was baptised by St. Remi in Rheims. However, he died suddenly a few days after. Mourning the death of her firstborn, Clotilde stated calmly to her furious husband:
"I thank Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, who did to my indignity the honor of opening His Kingdom to the one I have given birth to. My soul is not crushed by the pain, because, I know, taken from this world in his baptismal innocence, my son contemplates the face of God". (translation mine, from "La femme au temps des cathedrales", Regine Pernoud, Editions Stock, 1980: p.14)
She gave birth to a second son, Clodomir and Clovis also agreed to have him baptized. This time, the child survived. Clovis had an heir, a Catholic heir. Clotilda would have three more children, Childebut, Clotaire and Clotilda.
However, Clotilda didn't not give up her goal of converting her husband, she prayed, she beseeched God, she spoke plainly to her pagan husband about the true God.
Her perseverance and faith would be rewarded...
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
I love good music and I particularly love Baroque music; Georg Philipp Telemann is one of my favorites. He was a prolific composer: 40 operas, 23 oratories and masses, over 1500 cantatas, etc. For 46 years, he provided music for the five main churches of Hamburg. In his time, he was more popular than Bach, however this didn't seem to darken their relationship since Bach asked him to be godfather to his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. He was also a good friend of George Frederic Handel. Telemann was instrumental in helping to create the Classical style
He was born in Magdeburg, Saxony and discovered music at a young age, writing his first opera at 12 years old. His family did not approve and his instruments were confiscated by his mother. However, his talent could not be silenced (!) and at 17 years old he was noticed by a Jesuit monastery and was put in charge of their music. He became an intimate friend to Fr. Crispus, the Jesuit superior.
He moved to Leipzig to study law, but music was too great a passion and he became of full-time composer. His family life was not as successful: he lost his first wife in childbirth and his second wife left him for another man. He died on June 25, 1767.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
This time, the little sentence is utterred by Mr. Darcy at the end of the novel: "I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle." This is a sharp observation of the human heart: too often virtue is held in principle, but fail to be practiced in the daily life at home and at work. How often have I been guilty of this! (I am truly patient with my family, except when I am with them)
This reminds me of the definition given by Saint Francois de Sales of true devotion: "a spiritual activity and liveliness by means of which Divine Love works in us and causes us to work briskly and lovingly; and just as charity leads us to a general practice of all God's commandments, so devotion leads us to practice them readily and diligently."
Today is the beginning of the Novena leading to the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Vultus Christi presents the text of the novena and a beautiful post as usual on devotion to Our Lady.
This title of Our Lady is from a 15th century byzantine icon and the title given by the eastern orthodox church to this icon is Mother of God of the Passion. The icon effectively shows St. Michael holding the lance and sponge and St. Gabriel holding the cross and nails.
Our Lady looks directly at us, but points to her Son. She is very solemn. Her help to lead us to Him is indeed perpetual. For her maternal sollicitude, nothing is too small or to great a request. She seems to say, suffering will come, but I will hold you tenderly and lead you safely to my Son.
Let us entrust ourselves to her with the same confidence than the Infant Jesus did.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
This blog is first and foremost to honor Our Lady and to promote devotion to her, especially under the title of Our Lady of La Leche (Our Lady of Milk and Good Birth). The picture of her statue is from the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche in Florida. Our Lady is seen nursing tenderly the infant Jesus. How much do we need to ponder the sacred motherhood of Our Lady and the adorable infancy of Our Lord! Especially when mothering young children and infants!
I also hope to post my own musings on varied subjects such as the catholic feasts and seasons, motherhood, art, history, litterature, etc.
This is a quote from a beautiful book on Sainte Therese de Lisieux that introduces well the devotion to Our Lady of La Leche:
"...le lait virginal qui convient aux enfants de Dieu, c'est la blanche Hostie, le corps meme de Jesus que Marie nous a prepare en le nourrissant de son lait."
"...the virginal milk that is needed by the children of God, it is the white Host, the Body of Jesus prepared for us by Mary who nourished it with her own milk."(the translation is my own)
Therese et Lisieux. Pierre Descouvremont, Helmuth Nils Loose. Editions du Cerf. 1991: p.154.