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
ACTS 10 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. 4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. 7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. 9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. 17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, 18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. 19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. 20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. 21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? 22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. 23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends. 25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. 26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. 27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. 28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? 30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. 33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God. 34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. 36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
Fr. Robert Bengry
St. John the Evangelist, Calgary
The Cross of St. Zacharias with the Five Wounds: The meaning of the Crosses and Latin letters.
- O Cross of Christ, save me.
Z. May zeal for thy house free me.
- The Cross conquers; the Cross reigns; the Cross rules; by the sign of the Cross free me, O Lord, from this pestilence.
D. God, my God, drive this pestilence away from me & from this place, and free me.
I. Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit, my heart, and my body.
A. Before heaven and earth God was; and God is able to liberate me from his pestilence.
- The Cross of Christ will expel the pestilence from this place & from my body.
B. It is good to wait for the help of God in silence, that he may drive away this pestilence from me.
I. I will incline my heart to performing thy just deeds, and I will not be confounded, for I have called upon thee.
Z. I had zeal on occasion of the wicked; seeing the peace of sinners, I have hoped in thee.
- The Cross of Christ puts demons to flight; corrupt air; and drives away the pestilence.
S. I am thy salvation, says the Lord; cry out to me, and I will hear thee, and I will liberate thee from this pestilence.
A. Abyss calls to abyss & thou hast expelled demons by thy voice; liberate me from this pestilence.
B. Blessed the man who hopes in the Lord, and does not look upon vanities, and false extravagances.
- May the Cross of Christ, which was once the cause of scandal and indignity, and is now in glory and nobility, be for my salvation, and expel from this place the demon, and corrupt air, and pestilence from my body.
Z. May zeal for the honour of God convert me before I die, and in thy name, save me from this pestilence.
- May the sign of the Cross free the People of God & those who trust in him, from the pestilence.
H. Will this foolish people return to the Lord? Make good on thy vows, offering a sacrifice of praise and faith to him, because he is able to liberate this place and me, from this pestilence; for whoever trusts in him will not be confounded.
G. If I will not praise thee, let my tongue stick to my throat & to my jaws; free those who hope in thee; in thee I trust; liberate me and this place, O God, from this pestilence, for thy name has been invoked in prayer.
F. At thy death, O Lord, darkness fell over the whole earth; my God, render the power of the devil tenuous and dim, for it is for this that thou hast come, O Son of the living God: so that though might destroy the works of the devil. With thy power, drive out from this place & from me, thy servant, this pestilence; and may the corrupt air depart from me into the outer darkness.
- Defend us, O Cross of Christ, and expel from this place the pestilence, and free thy servant from this pestilence, thou who art kind, and merciful, and of many mercies, and true.
B. Blessed is he who does not look upon vanities, and false extravagances; on the day of evil the Lord will free him; Lord, I have trusted in thee; free me from this pestilence.
F. God has become my refuge; because I have trusted in thee, free me from this pestilence.
R. Look upon me, O Lord my God, Adonai, from the holy seat of thy Majesty & have mercy on me, and because of thy mercy, free me from this pestilence.
S. Thou art my Salvation: heal me & I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved. Amen.
St. Gilbert of Sempringham pray for us.
We live in an atmosphere polluted by too much verbal violence, too many offensive and harmful words, which are amplified by the internet… …Today, people insult each other as if they were saying ‘Good day.’ — Pope Francis
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
MAXIMS AND SAYINGS OF ST PHILIP NERI
1. He who wishes to be wise without the true Wisdom, or saved without the Saviour, is not well, but sick -— is not wise, but a fool.
2. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin is actually necessary, because there is no better means of obtaining God’s graces than through His most holy mother.
3. A man should force himself to be obedient, even in little things which appear of no moment; because he will thus render the practice of obedience in great matters easy to himself.
4. He who always acts under obedience, may rest assured that he will not have to give an account of his actions to God.
5. Perfection does not consist in such outward things as shedding tears and the like, but in true and solid virtues.
6. Tears are no sign that a man is in the grace of God, neither must we infer that one who weeps when he speaks of holy and devout things necessarily leads a holy life.
7. Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life; wherefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits.
8. When a man is freed from a temptation or any other distress, let him take great care to show fitting gratitude to God for the benefit he has received.
9. We must accept the adversities which God sends us without reasoning too much upon them, and we must take for granted that it is the best thing which could happen to us.
10. We must always remember that God does everything well, although we may not see the reason of what He does.
11. Every one ought to give in readily to the opinion of another, and to argue in favour of another and against himself, and take things in good part.
12. There is nothing more to the purpose for exciting a spirit of prayer, than the reading of spiritual books.
13. Let a man frequent the holy Sacraments, go to sermons, and be often reading the Lives of Saints.
14. Let a man always think that he has God before his eyes.
15. When a man is in an occasion of sin, let him look what he is doing, get himself out of the occasion, and avoid the sin.
16. There is nothing good in this world: Vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas.
17. We must die at last.
18. Beginners in religion ought to exercise themselves principally in meditation on the Four Last Things.
19. He who does not go down into hell while he is alive, runs a great risk of going there after he is dead.
20. The greatest help to perseverance in the spiritual life is the habit of prayer, especially under the direction of our confessor.
21. There is nothing the devil fears so much, or so much tries to hinder, as prayer.
22. An excellent method of preserving ourselves from relapsing into serious faults, is to say every evening, “To-morrow I may be dead.”
23. A man without prayer is an animal without the use of reason.
24. The religious state is indeed the highest, but it is not suitable for all.
25. A most excellent means of learning how to pray, is to acknowledge ourselves unworthy of such a benefit, and to put ourselves entirely into the hands of the Lord.
26. The true preparation for prayer consists in the exercise of mortification; for he who wishes to give himself up to prayer without mortification, is like a bird wishing to fly before it is fledged.
27. We can never arrive at the contemplative life, if we do not first exercise ourselves laboriously in the active life.
28. We must exercise the spirit which God gives us in prayer, and follow that; so that, when, for example, it inclines us to meditate on the Passion, we must not wish to meditate on some other mystery.
29. When a person goes to communion, he ought to follow the same spirit he had in prayer, and not be casting about for new meditations.
From the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel:
The next day [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
About the photo: A large crucifix taken by me in Spain. Jesus is the great physician: He saves from sin and damnation, but only if you earnestly desire it and live under His Kingship. Is that something you desire? Then follow His commands: love God and love your neighbour in tangible ways. — Fr. Robert Bengry
Photograph: © 2014 Robert Bengry. All Rights Reserved.