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
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.
“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
Do not grieve over the temptations you suffer. When the Lord intends to bestow a particular virtue on us, He often permits us first to be tempted by the opposite vice. Therefore, look upon every temptation as an invitation to grow in a particular virtue and a promise by God that you will be successful, if only you stand fast.
St. Philip Neri
Photograph: © 2018 Robert S. Bengry. All Rights Reserved.
Why do you boast, O mighty one, of mischief done against the godly?
All day long you are plotting destruction.
Your tongue is like a sharp razor, you worker of treachery.
You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth.
You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.
But God will break you down for ever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living.
The righteous will see, and fear, and will laugh at the evildoer, saying,
‘See the one who would not take refuge in God…’