I visited the grave of my Great, Great Grandmother today for the first time. She was not a Catholic, but was not given the opportunity to know the Catholic faith. As a Priest of the Church, and her descendant, I blessed her grave with prayers, the sign of the cross and with Holy Water. I also prayed that if her soul be in purgatory, that she might know the beatific vision. After the blessing and prayers a beautiful dove appeared and looked right in my eyes and then flew away in a beautiful flourish. I think it may just have been a sign that her soul was welcomed into heaven… I can’t describe the feeling. Of course, I cannot know for sure, but it was so beautiful, joyful — and unexpected. Whether my Great, Great Grandmother’s soul was in purgatory and was brought into heaven, your prayers and indulgences for the holy souls in purgatory are so very important. Your prayers aren’t simply sentimental thoughts: God listens to your prayers; He hears them. Pray for the dead: pray for the souls in purgatory — they make a real difference because the Christian faith isn’t a ‘me and Jesus’ sort of thing. Christianity is something we do together!
L’effroi et une immense tristesse s’étaient emparés des Parisiens et touristes rassemblées à proximité de cette cathédrale, véritable ADN de la capitale française, sidérés par les flammes intenses et jaunes ravageant le monument et l’odeur de brûlé envahissant les rues.
Fr. Robert Bengry
St. Teresa of Avila reminds you that the devil will try to upset you by suggesting a thousand false fears or by accusing you of being unworthy of the blessings that you’ve received. He wants to distract you and even trick into ignoring or discarding the graces that God has given you. St. Teresa advises you simply to remain cheerful and do your best to ignore the devil’s nagging. If need be, even laugh at the absurdity of the situation: Satan, the epitome of sin itself, accuses you of unworthiness. Furthermore, as the saying goes, “When the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future!”
— Saintly Solutions to Life’s Common Problems
“To repent is not to look downwards at my own shortcomings, but upwards at God’s love, it is not to look backwards with self-reproach but forward with trustfulness, it is to see not what I have failed to be, but what by the grace of Christ I might yet become.”
St. John Climacus
I came across a photograph of Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the US, wearing a chasuble which features the voided cross in its design — a form of the cross I have been drawn to for a long time. Indeed, this was the form of the cross that was granted to me by the Canadian Crown as a charge on my heraldic achievement (Coat of Arms).
Although one might ignorantly and superficially associate the voided cross with the black and white stylised iron cross used by the German military today, in WWI and during WWII, it is clear the symbols are from different families and are not the same thing at all.
The iron cross is a black cross with equal arms, with a white outline (stylised to various degrees) whereas the voided cross is composed of four arms with a negative space in-between. The iron cross, first used in Prussia in 1813, continues to be used by the German army on military vehicles and aircraft.
As just said, the voided cross is of a different construction: coloured arms with a void in the midst. This space is significant in that it can represent the resurrection — such a significant event for all humanity. I also like that the four arms of equal length represent balance, a Benedictine value that was important to me (and still is).
The voided cross continues to be used in heraldry in Canada, Britain and beyond. It is also used in some places as the symbol of a Life Guard, as well as by pharmacies in Europe and so I like the protective and medical associations of the symbol as well.
The use of the voided cross on the Archbishop’s chasuble is nice to see and I enjoy seeing the particular cross on other ecclesiastical garments as well.
The cross, in its many and varied forms, remind us of Christ and His Sacrifice for us. All your sins, and mine too, were nailed to the cross along with our Saviour Jesus Christ. We access that boundless of grace through the Holy Sacraments and by continually reforming our lives by avoiding sin, repenting of it when it comes our way, and by firmly resolving to amend our lives and sin no more.
Jesus came to save sinners. Receive that salvation that has been given you by Jesus on the Cross. And if I might be so bold: wear a cross, display it as a reminder of just how important you are to God the Holy Trinity.
Three conditions are necessary for Penance: contrition, which is sorrow for sin, together with a purpose of amendment; confession of sins without any omission; and satisfaction by means of good works. —St. Thomas Aquinas
Photograph: © 2019 Robert S. Bengry. All Rights Reserved.
So then, I am speaking to you who live in the habit of mortal sin, in hatred, in the mire of the vice of impurity, and who are getting closer to hell each day. Stop, and turn around; it is Jesus who calls you and who, with His wounds, as with so many eloquent voices, cries to you, “My son, if you are damned, you have only yourself to blame: ‘Thy damnation comes from thee.’ Lift up your eyes and see all the graces with which I have enriched you to insure your eternal salvation.’ — St. Leonard of Port Maurice