An Examination of the Soul’s Condition~St.Francis de Sales

 

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1. What is the aspect of your heart with respect to mortal sin? Are you firmly resolved never to commit it, let come what may? And have you kept that resolution from the time you first made it? Therein lies the foundation of the spiritual life.

2. What is your position with respect to the Commandments of God? Are they acceptable, light and easy to you? He who has a good digestion and healthy appetite likes good food, and turns away from that which is bad.

3. How do you stand as regards venial sins? No one can help committing some such occasionally; but are there none to which you have any special tendency, or worse still, any actual liking and clinging?

4. With respect to spiritual exercises—do you like and value them? or do they weary and vex you? To which do you feel most or least disposed, hearing or reading God’s Word, meditating upon it, calling upon God, Confession, preparing for Communion and communicating, controlling your inclinations, etc.? What of all these is most repugnant to you? And if you find that your heart is not disposed to any of these things, examine into the cause, find out whence the disinclination comes.

5. With respect to God Himself—does your heart delight in thinking of God, does it crave after the sweetness thereof? “I remembered Thine everlasting judgments, O Lord, and received comfort,” says David. Do you feel a certain readiness to love Him, and a definite inclination to enjoy His Love? Do you take pleasure in dwelling upon the Immensity, the Goodness, the Tenderness of God? When you are immersed in the occupations and vanities of this world, does the thought of God come across you as a welcome thing? do you accept it gladly, and yield yourself up to it, and your heart turn with a sort of yearning to Him? There are souls that do so.

6. If a wife has been long separated from her husband, so soon as she sees him returning, and hears his voice, however cumbered she may be with business, or forcibly hindered by the pressure of circumstances, her heart knows no restraint, but turns at once from all else to think upon him she loves. So it is with souls which really love God, however engrossed they may be; when the thought of Him is brought before them, they forget all else for joy at feeling. His Dear Presence nigh, and this is a very good sign.

7. With respect to Jesus Christ as God and Man—how does your heart draw to Him? Honey bees seek their delight in their honey, but wasps hover over stinking carrion. Even so pious souls draw all their joy from Jesus Christ, and love Him with an exceeding sweet Love, but those who are careless find their pleasure in worldly vanities.

8. With respect to Our Lady, the Saints, and your Guardian Angel—do you love them well? Do you rejoice in the sense of their guardianship? Do you take pleasure in their lives, their pictures, their memories?

9. As to your tongue—how do you speak of God? Do you take pleasure in speaking His Praise, and singing His Glory in psalms and hymns?

10. As to actions—have you God’s visible glory at heart, and do you delight in doing whatever you can to honour Him? Those who love God will love to adorn and beautify His House. Are you conscious of having ever given up anything you liked, or of renouncing anything for God’s Sake? for it is a good sign when we deprive ourselves of something we care for on behalf of those we love. What have you ever given up for the Love of God?

Repent while you still have time~A meditation by St.Leonard of Port Maurice 

Sinners, the advice I want to give you will no doubt seem strange to you; but if you understand it well, it is, on the contrary, inspired by tender compassion toward you. I implore you on my knees, by the blood of Christ and by the Heart of Mary, change your life, come back to the road that leads to heaven, and do all you can to belong to the little number of those who are saved. If, instead of this, you want to continue walking on the road that leads to hell, at least find a way to erase your baptism. Woe to you if you take the Holy Name of Jesus Christ and the sacred character of the Christian engraved upon your soul into hell! Your chastisement will be all the greater. So do what I advise you to do: if you do not want to convert, go this very day and ask your pastor to erase your name from the baptismal register, so that there may not remain any remembrance of your ever having been a Christian; implore your Guardian Angel to erase from his book of graces the inspirations and aids he has given you on orders from God, for woe to you if he recalls them! Tell Our Lord to take back His faith, His baptism, His sacraments.

You are horror-struck at such a thought? Well then, cast yourself at the feet of Jesus Christ and say to Him, with tearful eyes and contrite heart: “Lord, I confess that up till now I have not lived as a Christian. I am not worthy to be numbered among Your elect. I recognize that I deserve to be damned; but Your mercy is great and, full of confidence in Your grace, I say to You that I want to save my soul, even if I have to sacrifice my fortune, my honor, my very life, as long as I am saved. If I have been unfaithful up to now, I repent, I deplore, I detest my infidelity, I ask You humbly to forgive me for it. Forgive me, good Jesus, and strengthen me also, that I may be saved. I ask You not for wealth, honor or prosperity; I ask you for one thing only, to save my soul.”

And You, O Jesus! What do You say? O Good Shepherd, see the stray sheep who returns to You; embrace this repentant sinner, bless his sighs and tears, or rather bless these people who are so well disposed and who want nothing but their salvation. Brothers, at the feet of Our Lord, let us protest that we want to save our soul, cost what it may. Let us all say to Him with tearful eyes, “Good Jesus, I want to save my soul,” O blessed tears, O blessed sighs!
~Saint Leonard of Port Maurice from a sermon

First Saturday Devotion


Tomorrow is First Saturday and if you start this devotion tomorrow (June 3rd)you will end in October the 100th Anniversary of the last apparition of Fatima and the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun!Join the movement and honor Our Lady’s requests at Fatima and offer it for her intentions,for our country and for mercy for our depraved world!

 FIVE FIRST SATURDAYS DEVOTION

 
In December of 1925, Our Lady appeared to Sister Lucia, giving her the following guaranty of salvation for those who complete the First Five Saturdays Devotion:

“I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls.”

 

Why Five Saturdays?

The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

1) Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception.

2) Blasphemies against her virginity.

3) Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men.

4) Instilling indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children.

5) Direct insults against Her sacred images.

How to complete the Five First Saturdays Devotion: 

On the first Saturday of five consecutive months:

1. Go to confession;

2. Receive Holy Communion;

3. Say five decades of the Rosary;

4. Keep Our Lady company for 15 minutes, meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary;

5. Have the intention of making reparation to Our Lady for the offenses listed above.

St.Leopold Mandic~Apostle of Confession 


Saint Leopold Bogdan Mandi was born on May 12, 1866 and died on June 30, 1942. He was an ethnic Croat born in Herceg Novi, in Boka Kotorska (modern-day Montenegro), and died in Padua, Italy. Physically malformed and delicate, having a height of only 1.35m, with clumsy walk and stuttering, he developed tremendous spiritual strength. His feast is celebrated May 12.
Although he wanted to be a missionary in Eastern Europe, he spent almost all of his adult life in Italy, and lived in Padua from 1906 until the end of his life. He spent also one year in Italian prison during WWI, since he did not want to renounce his Croatian nationality. He also dreamed unceasingly about reuniting the Catholic and Orthodox churches and going to the Orient. He became known as Apostle of Confession and Apostle of Unity. He made a famous prayer that is the forerunner of today’s Ecumenism.

Bogdan Mandi was the twelfth child of Dragica Carevi and Petar Antun Mandi, owner of an Adriatic fishing fleet; they came from village of Zaku ac (hinterland of city of Omiš, 28 km from Split). The origins of his family are noble; they came from Vrhbosna province in Bosnia.

He suffered from disabilities that would plague his speech and stature. The family eventually lost most of its wealth, and became more sympathetic to those who suffered in similar situations. In November of 1882 while he was 16, Bogdan went to Udine to enter the seminary of the Venetian Capuchins, and accepted the name “Leopold”. Two years later he was put in the Bassano del Grappa friary, where he took the name Leopold. His first profession of vows were made a year later in May and a profession of perpetual vows 4 years latter in 1888.

In the mid-1880s, Croatian Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer began a movement which focused on unity and consecration of the cathedral of akovo and Srijem, a movement in which Leopold took interest in. On September 20, 1890, Leopold was ordained to the presbyterate at Venice at the age of 24.


Pictured above our beautiful saint!Look how tiny he was in statue but a true giant of a saint in Jesus’ eyes

Refusing to renounce his Croatian nationality during World War I, Leopold was forced to go to southern Italy. All this time Leopold held a hope that he would be able to return to his homeland and preach among his people, a feat that would be inhibited by his disabilities. On top of his physical deformities, he also suffered from stomach ailments, poor eyesight, and arthritis. Unsurprisingly, the Capuchin ministers declined these attempts due to his health.

While in Italy, Leopold’s main vocation was confessions, which he did for 34 years. The Capuchin brothers often criticized Leopold for his approach to confession, calling him too lenient and compassionate. Leopold’s compassion showed that he was more understanding and sympathetic to the people that came to him, and would treat them with great sensitivity. 


Pictured above the cell/confessional of St.Leopold which survived a bomb attack which the rest of the monastery was damaged.St.Leopold prophesied all this would happen because the confessional was a monument of the goodness and mercy of God 

He was an outspoken on issues with children, and being pro-life and especially fond of expectant mothers and young children. He did great work in setting up orphanages for children without parents. 



Leopold also had a deep devotion to the Virgin Mary who he referred to as “my holy boss”. He was known to pray the rosary quite often, and celebrated the eucharist daily at the side altar in the Little Office of the Virgin Mary. He would then visit the sick in nursing homes, hospitals and homes all over Padua. He visited the Capuchin infirmary to comfort the sick friars, giving them words of advice and reminding them to have faith.

Leopold suffererd from esophagus cancer, which would ultimately lead to his death at age 76. On July 30, 1942, while preparing for the liturgy, he collapsed on the floor. He was then brought to his cell, where he was given the last rites. Friars that had gathered at his bed sang “Salve Regina,” and when they got to the words, “O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary,” Leopold died.


During the bombing of World War II the church and part of the friary where Leopold lived were demolished, but Leopold’s cell and confessional were left unharmed. Leopold had predicted this before his death, saying, “The church and the friary will be hit by the bombs, but not this little cell. Here God exercised so much mercy for people, it must remain as a monument to God’s goodness.” Paul VI beatified Leopold on May 2, 1976. He was canonized by John Paul II during the Synod of Bishops on October 16, 1983. Leopold is hailed as the “Apostle of Confession”



Spiritual Warfare and Growing in the Interior Life

‘Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more’, Romans 5:20

Have you ever gone to confession for the same sins over and over? This is a struggle many people have and it can become frustrating. We are all weak, broken and sinful, but Our Lord is so merciful in His forgiveness and there is much hope for growing in virtue to alleviate these repeated sins and grow in Holiness and strive to become a Saint! To beat temptation moments, we must robe ourselves in virtue and grace and be strong. Remaining in the state of grace is one of the most important things we can do to decrease our reliance on vice and sin, our purgatorial cleansing time and speed up our journey to Heaven. And the most effective way is to build up a wall of virtue in our soul so that the temptations bounce off of ourselves, we no longer want to offend God and sin becomes less alluring. St. Paul reminds that we are spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6: 10-13. “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

 Virtue is formed by practicing the repitition of good deeds over and over until they become habit and part of your character.


“I say unto you, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and who do not need to repent.”~Luke 15:7

“If the wicked, however, renounces all the sins he has committed, respects my laws and is law-abiding and upright, he will most certainly live; he will not die”

“None of the crimes he committed will be remembered against him from then on; he will most certainly live because of his upright actions”

“Would I take pleasure in the death of the wicked — declares the Lord Yahweh — and not prefer to see him renounce his wickedness and live?”


“But if the upright abandons uprightness and does wrong by copying all the loathsome practices of the wicked, is he to live? All his upright actions will be forgotten from then on; for the infidelity of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, he will most certainly die.”

Catechism on Sin, 1865-1866: Sin creates a proclivity to sin; it engenders vice by repitition of the same acts. This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgement of good and evil. Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinfoce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense at its root. Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the deadly sins which Christian experience has distinguished. They are called deadly because they engender other sins, other vices. They are pride, jealousy, envy, anger, lust, gluttony and sloth. 

Catechism on Virtue, 1803: A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.  

Sr.Benigna Consolata Ferrero~Apostle of Love

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“O my Benigna! Be the Apostle of my love! Cry aloud so that all the world may hear, that I hunger, I thirst, I die to be received by My creatures.” – Our Lord to Sr. Benigna Consolata

Her Early Years

Maria Consolata was born in Turin on August 6, 1885, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. At Baptism, her pious parents, Signor Sebastiano Ferrero and Signora Carolina Pansa, gave their little one the names Maria, Consolata, Rosalia, Theresa, Philomena, and Gaetano. Like St. Therese of Lisieux and Sr. Maria Consolata Betrone (d. 1946), Maria was a “little soul”. This fact is reflected in her life and in the revelations she received from Our Lord, which can be found in her biography, “The Tendernesses of the Love of Jesus for a Little Soul” (a title suggested by Jesus).
Suffering entered the life of this “little one” at an early age. As an infant, her afflictions grew daily. Her health continued to decline until Signora Ferrero, perceiving this sad turn of events, took her child to the Church of St. Dalmazzo, where she knelt before an altar of Our Lady and invoked the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Virgin for the welfare of her beloved daughter. Not long afterwards, little Maria was restored to full health.
At the age of five, Maria began to attend school by herself. In her second year of school, she was accompanied by her younger sister, Adeline, who, being withdrawn from the maternal caresses of her mother could not hold back her tears. Only Maria Consolata was able to console her. This fact seems to prefigure the later years in Maria’s life, as Our Lord would call her, His “Benjamin”, to console His aching Heart, which is so wounded by the ingratitude and coldness of sinners.
Three years later, Maria’s mother placed her children in a boarding-school of the Sisters of St. Joseph. In the words of the Reverend Antonio Piccinelli (Maria’s chaplain in later years), little Maria “imbibed their spirit so abundantly” that her “virile and punctilious” nature was completely transformed by grace. She “overcame her natural tendencies so far, even while in the family circle, as to effect a total and visible change in her temperament.” Furthermore, she “manifested an eagerness to please others without any regard to the sacrifice it might entail upon such a disposition as hers.”
From an early age, Maria exhibited clear signs of a great love for God. She was always willing to help her neighbour, and while she was indulgent with others, always seeking to excuse their faults, she never let herself become attached to the complements that she received.
Maria’s great pleasure as a child was to spend time with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. On one occasion, her family passed their summer holiday in the country-side, far from any Catholic Church. During this time, Maria had to content herself with frequent acts of spiritual communion, which Our Lord would later encourage, with the words: “I am in the Sacrament of My love for My creatures, and they make so little account of it! O do thou at least, My Benigna, make as many spiritual communions as possible to supply for the Sacramental Communions which are not made. One every quarter of an hour is not enough. Make them shorter, but more numerous. If a wife saw her spouse dying of hunger, she would go from door to door to beg for Him. My Benigna, seek to draw souls to receive Me in Holy Communion.”

The Stirrings of a Vocation


In one of her early manuscripts, Maria writes, “One day, my soul felt sweetly attracted and I heard the voice of my God; it was so sweet that I scarcely dared to make a movement for fear of hearing it no longer, and while listening I wept with emotion. Jesus told me that He would give Himself to me, that He would be to me as a mother to a child, and that He would furnish me occasions of suffering for Him.” Though these words were penned at the age of seventeen, it is possible that Maria heard Our Lord’s call prior to this time.
While still living in the world, Our Lord manifested to Maria His will that she live as though she were already in the convent. He revealed to her his insatiable thirst for souls, and promised to grant her a great thirst for the conversion of sinners. Maria expressed the desires of her heart in the following words: “O Jesus, do with me all that Thou wilt; I place in Thee all my confidence and I abandon myself to Thy loving cares; henceforth I wish to serve Thee in peace, joy and love, as Thou Thyself hast taught me; but let me implore Thee to grant me the grace of knowing Thee that I may love Thee with all my heart, and of knowing myself that I may humble myself profoundly.” Our Lord responded graciously to Maria’s firm resolution to become a saint. He said to her: “Thou hast taken the resolution to become holy: this is well and thou must not fail; but it is not to an ordinary sanctity thou art called; thou must aim at the most sublime perfection.”
Maria certainly reached a sublime degree of sanctity, but not without the cross. Maria Consolata suffered particular torments at the thought of having consented to sin. Her conscience was very delicate and at times she succumbed to scruples; however, her resolute desire to please God- a desire that He alone implanted in her soul- ensured her victory over the Devil, of whom Our Lord said, “The infernal enemy conquers religious souls more easily by discouragement than by any other temptation.” To these words, Jesus adjoined a spiritual counsel that will be appreciated particularly by those tried by temptations to discouragement: “He (the Devil) is overcome by unlimited confidence in Jesus; the more frequent the falls, the more should confidence grow in the divine Mercy.” “Our miseries entitle us to God’s mercy”, says Bl. Dom Columba Marmion.
“Involuntary imperfections cannot displease Me, unless the soul loves them”, said Our Lord to Sr. Benigna; “I love men so much! Yes, they have too narrow an idea of the goodness of God, of His mercy, of His love for His creatures. They measure God by creatures, and God has no limits; His goodness is without bounds. Surely these words should encourage us to confide in God’s mercy. We can rest assured that a firm resolution to love God, combined with a humble gratitude and trust in His mercy, will keep us firmly fixed on the path to eternal life. Our Lord confirmed this to Sr. Benigna on March 15, 1905: “Knowest thou the shortest way to arrive at Heaven? It is that of confidence in My merits and fidelity to grace.” Furthermore, Our Lord imparted a valuable lesson regarding the necessity, excellence and means of growing in humility: “There is no way that conducts more directly, more securely, more swiftly, and more sweetly to God than humility. But it is the humility studied in the Gospel, humility learned in My life, humility profoundly taught in the Holy Eucharist. If thou seek humility in these three sources, thou wilt ever find it… When there is humility, I give; when I find more, I give more…”


Like many Saints and victim souls, Sr. Benigna was chosen, not because of her strength or virtue, but because of her weakness and misery: “I have chosen thee because thou art wretched and miserable, in order that thou mayst attribute nothing to thyself and know that all good comes from God.” None need ever fear to approach Our Merciful Saviour, Who has said: “Even sinners can love Me and become saints” (revelation to Bl. Alexandrina). On September 12, 1915, Jesus dictated the “Decalogue of Mercy” to Sr. Benigna, which contain perhaps some of the most tender and encouraging words ever recorded: “(8) The more evil the state to which the soul is reduced by the sins of the past, by her disorders and passions, so much the more pleased is Love to have so much to accomplish in her. (9) Souls the most miserable, the most weak, the most infirm, are the best clients of Love, the most desired by the divine Mercy. (10) These souls, thus become, as it were, the predilette [favourite] of God, will, like so many living monuments, exalt and magnify the multitude of His mercies, sending up to God the reflections of living light, His own light, which they have received from Him during their mortal life- the multitude of kindnesses God has made use of to conduct them to eternal salvation. These souls will shine like previous gems, and will form the crown of the Divine Mercy.”
Sr. Benigna Consolata knew well her own misery; the “Decalogue of Humility” helped to ensure that; but this did not halt her on the path to God. Her love was too great to settle for anything less than constant sacrifice and perfect fidelity to God’s grace, which is the essence of sanctity. She possessed an insatiable desire to be united to Jesus in Holy Communion, and ultimately in Heaven. How consoling and joyous, then, must have been the sublime occasion on which Our Lord spoke thus to Sr. Benigna: “Thou art the Apostle of My Love; but when thy body shall be under the earth, and thy soul in Heaven like a little atom in My Heart for all eternity.” This is one of many intimate colloquies that occurred between Sr. Benigna and her divine Spouse, Who frequently addressed her as “My Nigna”, “Nigna of gold”, “My joy”, “My lily”, “My queen”, “My Benjamin”, and “the apple of My eye”.
Maria Consolata, the seraphic spouse of Our Lord, had a heart aflame for God and for souls. In relation to her vow to love God with her whole heart, Our Lord assured Maria: “Thou doest this already, but I wish to oblige thee to do it ever more and more perfectly… I want thee to lend Me thy mind, thy life, thy faculties, which are My gifts, that thou mayst become wholly the instrument of My mercy. The desire of seeing My Adorable Heart ever more known and loved ought to move thee to receive this mission with docility. Accept it, then, through the love thou hast for My Sacred Heart.”
On October 23, 1903, Our Lord sent Maria, who was then 18 years of age, to address a discouraged stranger with the following words: “Have confidence, Jesus loves you.” Maria overcame her “embarrassment”, having never before seen this particular person. Maria would write that “the enemy… was trying to cause the loss of this soul by distrust.” Jesus would frequently encourage Maria to intercede for sinners, for whom she suffered, like Our Savior, with such constant and intense love.
To add to her sufferings, Maria’s brother, John, fell ill. She tenderly nursed him, so that he would say to her: “O you are more necessary to me than food!” John’s health continued to decline until the day he received the Last Sacraments and died peacefully in his sister’s arms. Later, while in the Monastery, Maria would reflect on these events with a humble gratitude, acknowledging the wise designs of providence: “Our Lord wished to detach me from everything, that I might be His alone. In taking away from me that brother so beloved, He began to dig in my heart a void which He alone could fill.”
On one occasion, while she was suffering great desolation, Jesus consoled her thus: “Know that in those painful moments in which it seems as if the demon is about to tear thee from my Heart, thou art more closely united to Me by the strong bonds of love. Art thou not the happy prey of Love? How canst thou be afraid of the demon when the Almighty is with thee? I am the cuirass of thy soul; then fear not the blows destined for thee; a soldier fears not the snares of the enemy when he knows he is powerfully defended. And what I say to thee is not for thyself alone, but also for so many souls who are in the same state. I repeat it; I wish thee to make known to souls what I teach thee; CONFIDENCE IS THE KEY THAT OPENS THE TREASURES OF MY MERCY.”


On September 11, 1915, Our Lord dictated to his “Apostle of Mercy” the “Decalogue of Confidence.” The most beautiful doctrines are expressed through this Decalogue; for example, “(6) This God of love wishes to be to me a brother, friend and consoler. (7) This God of love carries His tenderness so far as to wish to be my physician, my medicine, and more than all, my spouse. (8) This God of love wishes to be despoiled of His gifts, as a tree is stripped of its fruits, which in no wise complains, but rather produces more fruit. The tree must wait another year, but I produce fruit at once. (9) This God of love seeks only miseries to consume, imperfections to destroy, weak wills to fortify, and good resolutions to strengthen.”
The confidence that Maria Consolata possessed was extraordinary. In her writings we find these words: “Jesus compares my soul to a ball, which when thrown violently to the ground, rises much higher than its point of departure; so my soul humbled by aridity rises again, by the grace of God, to the practice of pure love. He constantly predicts to me new sufferings, and does not fear to frighten me, assuring me that Crosses are most precious caresses which He reserves for privileged souls. He shows me the state of victim as a sublime state. At another time I heard from my Beloved a dolorous plaint. He revealed to me the sorrow of His Heart at being robbed of the love which is due to Him, while souls are making so bad a use of it everywhere. He compared Himself to a beggar who sees food thrown away and spoiled right before his eyes, food which would prevent him from dying of starvation.”

Maria Consolata is called to the Order of the Visitation

In order to fulfil the designs of Providence, Maria was beckoned by Our Lord to “enter into the Order of the Visitation”, of which He said: “The Monastery will be the pulpit in which thou shalt make Me known. Having no need of strength, I shall lean upon thy weakness. I use the ignorant to confound the strong.” Maria’s parents conducted their daughter to the Monastery of Pozzo Strada; the answer was not favourable, but in March of 1906, she was accepted by the Sisters of Pignerol. The biography of Sr. Benigna Consolata elaborates on this event: “Now it happened that while the venerated Mother of Pignerol was still in a state of indecision, our young Postulant was taken with a slight indisposition. This was at once made a pretext to restore her to her family; thus painful explanations were avoided; and her relatives were overjoyed at the final determination. Maria obeyed without a word. But who could reveal her martyrdom? Her heart was crushed. She repressed silently her bitter tears. Was this blessed Cloister, the object of her sighs, to be forever closed against her? Yet had not Jesus told her a thousand times He wished her to be a Visitine? The fear of illusion, of having deceived herself and others, returned to torture her; and the enemy on his side tormented her incessantly, laying snares upon snares for her.”
What relief must Maria must have felt when Our Lord communicated to her interiorly His desire that she enter the Visitation of Como, which she was unaware existed. Again, we read in her biography: “Such were the ways of Providence over this soul, and the hidden and admirable designs by means of which Jesus introduced her into the “place of her repose.” The Most Honored Mother Maria Louisa Sobrero, whom our dear Turin with incomparable kindness had lent us, was then Superior. She knew the Ferrero family and held them in high esteem. Having made inquiries at Pignerol as to the dismissal of Maria Consolata from that Monastery, and having been apprized that the only obstacle to her admission was the extraordinary way by which she seemed to be led, Mother Maria Louisa hastened to open her arms and her heart to the dear aspirant.”
“Maria Consolata arrived among us on December 30, 1907, accompanied by her venerable father and her dear aunt; she was then twenty-two years old. Matured, purified by suffering, enriched by the virtues she had so long practiced in the shadow of the Cross, she seemed already formed to the religious life.”
As a religious, Maria took the name Sister Benigna Consolata. She spent eleven months as a Postulant, before making her profession of the simple vows on November 23, 1909. On November, 1912, Sr. Benigna Consolata made her solemn profession. What incomparable joy must have been hers on this special day. In the words of a fellow Sister, when speaking of her Beloved Spouse, Sr. Benigna’s eyes “appeared beautiful and luminous; one could read in them the virginal purity of her soul and the divine love which devoured her.” Furthermore, “she always spoke sweetly, peacefully”, and she only spoke after having consulted Our Lord.
Although she was a model religious, Jesus, in order to preserve her humility, granted a special grace whereby others would perceive only her involuntary imperfections and defects. The Mother Superior made it known to several of the Sisters that it caused her suffering when she was required to give a reprimand; however, “when there was question of Sister Benigna Consolata, He gave her a special grace, for she humbled her severely and fearlessly.”
Knowing her misery, Sr. Benigna possessed “not only a real contempt for herself, but she desired that everyone else should despise her.” Speaking of such a humble disposition, which can in no way be compared with despondency or self-loathing, Our Lord said: “My Benigna, the purity of love consists in the perfection of sacrifice; and there is no sacrifice which pleases me so much as that of one’s honor and reputation. When a soul has attained to the love of contempt in order that God may be glorified in her, I look upon her with so much love that if she could see Me she would die of joy.”
Combined with her profound humility was perfect obedience. Her fidelity to the Rule was a source of edification to her fellow Religious. “One day”, recalls a Sister of the Novitiate, “having gone with my Sister Benigna Consolata to the garden to gather the dry leaves, I observed that since there were so few, it would be a loss of time to carry them to the place assigned; but she answered with her ordinary sweetness: ‘My Sister, our Mother desires we should carry them there; we ought to obey although we had to pick up only a single leaf.’ I was greatly edified, and I saw that until then I had not understood obedience.”
On another occasion, Sr. Benigna Consolata and the other Sisters were asked by the Mother Superior to find a turtle that had been presented as a gift to the Monastery. After a brief period, all of the Sisters but Sr. Benigna Consolata discontinued their search. “My Jesus,” she said, “obedience works miracles; help me to do our Mother’s will.” Her humble obedience was rewarded by God: she soon returned with the turtle. No sacrifice was too insignificant for Sr. Benigna.


The life of Sr. Benigna was marked with heroic sacrifice. Not only was she ever attentive and docile to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, but she furnished every moment with mortification, so as to arrive more speedily at that “sublime perfection” which Our Lord had called her to. “Act in such a way”, said Jesus, “that wherever the body can find relief, it may meet, on the contrary, only constraint and suffering; refuse it even the least pleasure.”
Speaking of her sufferings, Sr. Benigna said: “I am sometimes so oppressed with sorrow, so troubled through the fear of not corresponding with God’s grace, that I can scarcely trust in His goodness- It is principally in prayer that my sufferings are augmented: while there I ought not and wish not to be mindful of aught but God; but alas! all sorts of thoughts present themselves to my mind. The demon, delighted, takes hold of the occasion to torment me. Overwhelmed, I am tempted to leave off prayer through dread of making it badly; but I do not yield, and continue in spite of suffering. If I could tell my sufferings to someone it seems to me I should be relieved; but God alone knows these interior pains. When I would manifest my state to my Director, I have so slight a remembrance of it that I cannot find terms to express myself; for these are spiritual sufferings that at times I myself cannot comprehend.”
Although this dear spouse of Jesus suffered greatly, she was encouraged frequently by Our Lord, Who assured her that her sufferings would not go unrewarded: “Cast a glance upon Jesus on the Cross, and thou wilt see thy program of mortification. Spiritual consolations will be thy recompense.” These words are reminiscent of the words that Jesus addressed to Ven. Concepcion Cabrera de Armida: “Penance is a great virtue… and receives in Heaven a most sublime recompense.”
One can imagine with what confidence Sr. Benigna, when afflicted by untold sufferings and temptations, must have hastened to find refuge in the Sacred Heart of her Beloved, Which ever seeks to comfort and bless His dear creatures: “Thou canst not imagine, O my spouse, the pleasure I experience in remaining with My creatures! I am always in search of hearts that love Me, and I find only a small number. I lavish upon them the plenitude of My graces; I have so great a love for the souls who are faithful to Me and let Me do what I please with them, that I am as ready to gratify them as if it were a law to Me.” Such tender words are addressed to all souls: “I have immense treasures of grace for all: and whoever comes to Me shall be overwhelmed with them… I love men so much! … I love poor sinners so much! … Write, My Benigna, that all may know this: It is certain that a hundred sins offend Me more than one alone; but if this single sin is distrust of Me, it wounds My Heart more than the hundred others, because distrust wounds My Heart to Its innermost core.”
Jesus often complained to Sr. Benigna of the unfathomable sorrow of His Sacred Heart. “Behold”, said Jesus; “I beg the love of My creatures, who refuse it to Me and squander it upon things which pass away. They do not even think of giving it to Me- if thou knewest, Maria, how painful it is to love so much and not to be loved! I do not grow weary, I am always seeking love and no one gives it to me; not only they will not love Me, but they hate Me. Dost thou know what hinders Me from striking sinners? It is the prayers of the just; they disarm My divine Justice.”
If Our Lord complained of His sufferings, He also begged for the love of souls, including those who wound Him most. Even the most shameful sinners should be inspired with confidence in God’s mercy after reading the tender revelations given to Sr. Benigna Consolata. Jesus continually made known to her that He yearns to save even the most sordid sinners. He invites all sinners to bathe their souls in His Precious Blood, which was shed for our salvation: “Provided I find good will in a soul, I am never weary of looking upon its miseries- My love is fed by consuming miseries; the soul that brings Me the most, if the heart is contrite and humble, is the one that pleases Me most, because she gives Me an opportunity of exercising more fully My office of Saviour. But what I wish particularly to say to thee, My Benigna, is that the soul ought never to be afraid of God, because God is all-merciful; the greatest pleasure of the Sacred Heart of thy Jesus is to lead to His Father numerous sinners; they are My glory and My jewels… Sins may be enormous and numerous; but provided that the soul returns to Me, I am always ready to pardon all, to forget all.”

Her Final Conflict and Entrance into Eternal Life

 

Towards the end of 1916, Sr. Benigna was invited by Jesus to enter into solitude, in preparation for her death. “Ask permission of thy Mother,” He said, “to withdraw into solitude from the eve of the 20th of June to July 2 inclusively… Twelve days are not too much to prepare thee for death.” She returned from this treat with a glowing countenance, but this happiness was to be followed by great trials.
On the 28th of August, Sr. Benigna was plunged into an ocean of sadness. At about four o’clock in the afternoon, a great interior struggle commenced. Her countenance was transformed from one of great serenity into one of immense agitation. She was frequently heard to repeat, “I am lost”, and other terrible words that reveal the extent of her interior martyrdom. The Monsignor was called on to administer the holy exorcisms, which successfully drove Satan away from his victim. As midnight drew near, Sr. Benigna Consolata’s usual, sweet appearance returned. Her Confessor consoled her, instructing her to consider herself, at such painful moments, as “the prisoner of the Heart of Jesus”. Joyously, she exclaimed: “Benigna, prisoner of Jesus!”
On Friday the 1st of September, 1916, Sr. Benigna Consolata received the Holy Viaticum for the last time, after which her health continued to decline, though without affecting her consciousness, which she preserved. Her biography describes the touching account of her passing into eternal life as follows: “Frequently with great fervor she murmured the sacred names of Jesus and Mary. Toward half past one she recited with pain, but intelligibly, the act of contrition. At half past two our Confessor entered to renew the holy Absolution and recite the prayers for the Recommendation of the Departing Soul- At three o’clock, while she rested peacefully in the arms of our Mother, Sister Benigna Consolata opened her eyes suddenly, appeared to fix them on a distant and luminous point, and expired sweetly. The Confidant of Jesus had gone to be united to the Heart of her God!”

Words of Sr.Consolata

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“I will send you treasures of happiness from Heaven.” – Sr. Benigna Consolata
Words of Sr. Benigna Consolata
“If souls knew what it means to suffer, and suffer for God, not a soul would be found who would not be willing to suffer for Him.”
‘O my Mother, how I suffer! but I am happy.”
“I weep because I see Jesus, who is doing Himself violence to make me suffer; He is forced to it, having chosen me for a victim; but it costs Him to hide from me His love.”
“My Jesus, one would say that Thou canst not live without me. What is it that attracts Thee to my soul? Then hast Thou not the Angels? Dost Thou not find Thy happiness in Thyself?” “My Benigna,” He answered, “it is true, all this is true; but it is also true that I have a human Heart, and that I love Men I have told thee this already, but I tell thee again that thou mayst write it, my little Secretary of Love; then I will cause it to be read, that souls may believe in My excessive love; men are my brothers.”
“The enemy tried to tempt me to pride by making me out a saint: I complained to Jesus, who told me to answer him: ‘With the aid of my God I will be one, because of a sinner He can make a great saint.”
“He said to me in a sweet, sad tone: ‘My Benigna, give me souls!’ The plaintive words of my Adorable Master moved me profoundly. ‘How shall I give Thee souls, my Jesus?’ ‘By sacrifices’, He responded.” (June 13, 1915, the Feast of the Sacred Heart)
Words of Our Lord to Sr. Benigna Consolata

“The attraction of the most sweet Heart of Jesus is to console those who suffer, to compassionate the miseries of His poor creatures, and ever to show them mercy. It will be thy mission to console the infinite love of God, which seeks solace from its little creature.”
“Let all thy actions bear the impress of Reparation and thou wilt console My Heart.”
“Finally, to attain more speedily to perfection, she should have God alone in view in all things, His glory, His good pleasure; doing this, she will always be at peace.”
”Maria, no longer go begging the love of creatures; were they to give themselves entirely to thee thou wouldst not be satisfied. God alone can suffice for thee. Maria, thou hast need of a heart which loves thee, which understands thee; it is the Heart of God thou needest. Speak to Me as thou wouldst to an earthly friend, to whom one tells everything. I know thee, I share thy sufferings, I offer Myself to be thy Model and on this thou must carefully form thyself.”
“Benigna, the more a soul humbles herself, the more she approaches to Me.”
“I wish thee to be faithfully faithful, my Benigna. A little act of fidelity may be the principle of great graces. Exact observance is, as it were, a perpetual Communion for the faithful soul; for with each point of the Rule well observed, she receives an increase of grace; and when the soul receives an increase of grace, I communicate Myself to her.”
“My Benigna, if souls had more faith, they would live on mortification as they live on bread, whereas they fly it as they would the plague.”
“Benigna, few souls walk with a rapid step in the way of love, because there are very few who enter generously into the way of sacrifice. If one is constant in sacrifice, she is constant in love: if she falters in sacrifice, she falters in love.”
“When I permit temptation, it is not through cruelty, but to give the soul an opportunity of merit.”

“What is here written in My Heart? Love Me! If thou lovest Me, thou wilt repair; if thou repairest, thou wilt console Me; and then thou wilt be a faithful spouse: Love, Reparation, Consolation, Fidelity.”
“Nigna of gold, goodnight, adieu!”

Some Comparisons between Sr. Benigna Consolata’s Revelations and those of other Victim Souls

The inspiring revelations given to Sr. Benigna Consolata share much in common with the spirituality of St. Faustina, Sr. Josefa Menendez, Bl. Dina Belanger, Sr. Consolata Betrone, St. Therese of Lisieux, and other holy “little souls.” Our Lord frequently manifested to Sr. Benigna Consolata the tender mercy of His Sacred Heart- especially towards little souls, of whom He said: “The little ones are my weakness.” To each of the aforementioned individuals, God has entrusted the message of His merciful love. The following themes are common to each of these holy women: confidence in the mercy of God, knowledge of our misery, childlike simplicity and humility, and the value of love, which transforms even the most trivial acts into something sublime.


Here are but a few examples of the similarities between Sr. Benigna Consolata’s writings and those of the aforementioned saints and mystics:
1. + “Thou art the Apostle of My Love.” (Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata)
+ “Apostle of My mercy.” (Jesus to St. Faustina)
+ “Apostle of Love.” (Jesus to Bl. Dina Belanger)
+ “Apostle of My love.” (Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez)
2. + “Thou shalt make thy Purgatory in the flames of My pure love-“ (Jesus to Sr. Benigna, July 14, 1903)
+ “… the Fire of Love is more sanctifying than is the fire of Purgatory.” (St. Therese)
3. + “Even the single little prayer, ‘I trust in Thee’, ravishes My Heart, because Faith, Love and Humility are comprised in this short prayer.” (Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata)
+ “Jesus, I trust in You!” (Words repeated throughout Sr. Consolata Betrone’s diary)
+ “Jesus, I trust in You!” (Prayer dictated by Our Lord to St. Faustina)
+ “How easy it is to please Jesus, to ravish His Heart. We have merely to love Him, while, at the same time, forgetting ourselves.” (St. Therese)
4. + “To exercise Justice is for Me to go against the current; it does violence to Me.” (Jesus to Sr. Benigna)
+ “If only you knew how I suffer when I must dispense justice. You see, My Heart needs to be comforted; It wishes to dispense mercy, not justice!” (Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone)
+ “I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so; My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice.” (Jesus to St. Faustina)
5. “Little things are little things, but fidelity in little things is a great thing.” (Sr. Benigna Consolata)
+ “Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ.” (St. Therese)
+ “Great love can change small things into great ones, and it is only love which lends value to our actions.” (St. Faustina)
+ “The smallest act, if done out of love, acquires such merit that it gives Me immense consolation.” (Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez)
6. + “One act of love alone will repair a thousand blasphemies.” (Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata)
+ “One ‘Jesus, Mary! I love You! Save souls!’ repairs a thousand blasphemies!” (Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone)
7. + “Souls are not saved if nothing is done for them. I died on the Cross to save them—I ask of thee no great thing—only a word withheld, a look repressed, a pleasant thought banished, in a word all that restrains and mortifies nature. These little things, united to My infinite merits, acquire a great value.” (Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata)
+ “One faithful soul can repair and obtain mercy for many ungrateful ones… Every soul can be instrumental in this sublime work [saving souls]… Nothing great is required, the smallest acts suffice: a step taken, a straw picked up, a glance restrained, a service rendered, a cordial smile… all these offered to Love are in reality of great profit to souls and draw down floods of grace on them.” (Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez)
+ “If only you knew how many souls can be saved by those little acts!” (Our Lady to Sr. Josefa Menendez)
+ “To pick up a pin for Love can convert a soul. It is Jesus alone who can give such value to our actions. Let us then love Him with all our heart.” (St. Therese)
8. + “As the fire is fed with combustibles, and increases according as they are supplied, so My mercy is nourished with the miseries it consumes, and the more it receives the more it increases.” (Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata)
+ “There is no misery that could be a match for My mercy, neither will misery exhaust it, because as it is being granted- it increases.” (Jesus to St. Faustina)
Many more comparisons could be made, but these few are sufficient to give us some idea of the importance of this message for mankind. Jesus wants each of us to love and console Him. To do this we must remain little, have great confidence in His mercy, and have a firm resolution to become holy. To do this, we may profit by keeping in mind the words dictated by Our Lord to Sr. Benigna in the “Decalogue of Confidence”: “(1) I have a God who is all mine. (2) This God, all mine, is my Father. (3) This God, all mine, wishes that I should be all His forever. (4) This God of love came down from Heaven to earth on purpose to seek me. (5) This God of love asks me for my heart… (10) This God of love goes in search of those whom the world despises, abhors and abandons, that is, of poor sinners; and after having converted them through the delicacies of His charity and the attractions of His mercy, if He meets with the correspondence He seeks, He makes them masterpieces of holiness.” At another time, Our Lord said: “And why should you become a saint except to please your Jesus ever more and more.”
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Prayer written by the Servant of God Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero:

O’ Jesus, True Charity and God of Love, Goodness without limits: I, a miserable sinner, in order to honor Thy incomparable mercy, offer, give and abandon myself forever to the love of Thy most amiable and tender Heart.
Source:mysticsofthechurh.com

Divine Mercy Sunday 2017

 

Mercy Sunday or the Feast of Divine Mercy 

 

The Revelations of Our Lord to St. Faustina

According to the doctrine of the Church we must distinguish between those matters communicated by God through the prophets, the apostles and the other sacred writers, and found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and the private revelations or apparitions He grants to individuals. These latter are given for our guidance, usually refer also to things in Public Revelation which must be believed, but in and of themselves are not of the faith. The revelations given to St. Faustina are private revelations about the Divine Mercy. As with most approved private revelations, much is simply the repetition in a new way of the perennial truths of the Catholic Faith. Other elements have a prophetic content, or make promises or requests, which depend entirely on the credibility of the witness, Sister Faustina.

A private revelation could obtain no higher degree of human credibility, the standard of reason applied by the Church, as one in which the mystic is canonized and the requests are acted upon by the Holy See. No one today disputes the devotion to the Sacred Heart, for example, which is now well-founded in Tradition, even though the impetus for its specific theological development was a private revelation. The same is true of the Mercy Devotion. The Pope in his prophetic office has sounded many of the same warnings as St. Faustina, as he has of Our Lady of Fátima. Nonetheless, while it may be imprudent or unreasonable to not accept the specific promises and warnings of St. Faustina, given the authentication of her life and message by the Church, it is not contrary to the faith. The conscience of each must nonetheless judge, avoiding both blind credulity and incredulity. As St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, “Virtue is in the middle.” Or, as St. Paul says, “Test all things, retain what is good” (1 Thes. 5:21).

The Feast of Mercy


One of the requests of Our Lord which the Church has acted upon is the Feast of Mercy. On 30 April 2000, at the Canonization of Sr. Faustina, the Pope responded to this request by establishing on the Sunday after Easter a Feast dedicated to the Divine Mercy. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments officially notified the world’s Bishops of this decree on 23 May 2000. Today, the liturgical calendar, or Ordo, of all dioceses in the world now reflect that the Sunday after the Solemnity of Easter is the “Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday”.

Some confusion exists over the fact that this day is not officially called “The Feast of Mercy”. Feast can be understood in two senses, as a liturgical class, or as a general way for referring to all special days regardless of their liturgical class.

According to the first sense, liturgical class, Mercy Sunday is a Solemnity, the highest possible liturgical class (solemnity, feast, memorial, optional memorial). Beginning with Easter Sunday, the Solemnity of Solemnities, the Church celebrates an octave (8 days) of the Resurrection. This practice goes back to the Old Covenant and the Jewish practice of celebrating feasts, such as Unleavened Bread (of which Passover is a part), for eight days. Each day of the Octave is a Solemnity, in essence an extension of Easter Sunday. The principal prayers of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours are those of Easter Sunday. This octave concludes with the Gospel account of Easter night, in which Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Penance, that is, of His Divine Mercy.

According to the general sense of feast, it is legitimate to refer to Divine Mercy Sunday as the Feast of Mercy, even though it is a Solemnity. A feast is the celebration of a saint or a special day. Regardless of liturgical class, we refer to a saint’s day as his or her feast day. Thus, it is appropriate here, too, to speak of the Feast of Mercy, or Easter, or Pentecost, all of which are Solemnities.

The Promise


According to St. Faustina, Our Lord promises to those who go to confession and communion on this day, the remission of the guilt and the punishment of sins.

On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. (Diary of Sr. Faustina, 699)

Many take this to mean that they must go to Confession ON Mercy Sunday. This is not true. To receive the benefits of the Promise one must be in the state of grace. The Lord does not promise the absolution of grave sin on Mercy Sunday, but points us to the Sacrament of Penance. To receive the grace we should be disposed. This is done by a confession near the time of Mercy Sunday. According to the Cardinal of Krakow, the confession which a Catholic makes during Lent in preparation for Easter is sufficient. Priests do not have to provide confession on Mercy Sunday so that Catholics can satisfy this condition. Since it is a Sunday the condition of Communion can be easily satisfied (including at the Saturday Vigil Mass). Our Communion, as our Confession, should be especially devout.


Some refer to this grace as a Plenary Indulgence. While the effect is the same, complete remission of sin and the punishment due to it, it is not granted by the Church but by a promise of the Lord. Also, the conditions are fewer, only Confession and Communion. While the Lord also asks for veneration of His Image on Mercy Sunday, as well as acts of mercy, these do not appear to be essential to the Promise, though they certainly could manifest the disposition, or lack of disposition, of the person seeking it. The receipt of the grace is not magic, but necessarily involves the opening of our hearts to mercy. This is best done by deeds, words and thoughts of mercy towards others. That, too, takes God’s grace, but we can surely expect the actual graces to be merciful available to us on Mercy Sunday, if we but trust. The message clearly states the Lord’s willingness for the greatest generosity on this day. We do what our circumstances permit us, and trust in God. This is true also of those whose circumstances do not permit them to get to Communion on that day, such as the infirm and the home-bound. God does not ask the impossible.

The Image


I want the image solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it. (Diary 341)

The Holy See has not obliged anything in this regard. Indeed, whatever a parish does beyond the liturgical celebration of the Divine Mercy is regulated by the bishop and the pastor. However, there are several ways that a willing pastor can facilitate the public veneration of the Image of the Divine Mercy.

1. A parish which has just acquired the Image of the Divine Mercy for public veneration should have it blessed according to the rite for the “Blessing of an Image of Our Lord” (Book of Blessings, 1263-1276). Every parish should have this ritual book. This rite, however, may not be used within the Mass. Such a solemn blessing would be conferred only once on a particular Image.

2. A previously blessed image can be displayed in the Sanctuary during Mass. There is already in the rubrics the provision for incensing an image during the incensations of the Mass.

3. A previously blessed image can be left in the sanctuary for veneration by the faithful throughout the Feast of Mercy.

4. A previously blessed image can be used in processions, be the object of veneration during a communal recitation of the Chaplet of Mercy, or other devotions as the parish may celebrate during the Feast of Mercy.

Similar things can be done in the home also, privately venerating the Image, by the use of devotional candles, by a public display of the Image, family prayer, etc… These images should also be blessed. However, they do not receive the solemn blessing of an image used for “public veneration” (#1 above), just the simply blessing ordinarily given to religious objects (Book of Blessing 1442ff). This could even be done communally, if the pastor is willing.


Source:EWTN.com

Conversion and Crisis



Every conversion starts with a crisis: with a moment or a situation involving some kind of suffering, physical, moral, or spiritual; with a dialectic, a tension, a pull, a duality, or a conflict. This crisis is also accompanied, on the one hand, by a profound sense of one’s own helplessness and, on the other hand, by an equally certain conviction that God alone can supply what the individual lacks.–Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Peace of Soul, 1949

Repent while you can


Never suffer sin to remain upon you; let it not grow old in you; wipe it off while it is fresh, else it will stain; let it not get ingrained; let it not eat its way in, and rust in you. It is of a consuming nature; it is like a canker; it will eat your flesh. I say, beware, my brethren, of suffering sin in yourselves, and this for a great many reasons. First, if for no other than this, you will forget you have committed it, and never repent of it at all. Repent of it while you know it; let it not be wiped from your memory without being first wiped away from your soul. What may be the state of our souls from the accumulating arrears of the past! Alas! what difficulties we have involved ourselves in, without knowing it.


~Blessed John Henry Neumann, “Transgressions and Infirmities”

Easter Sunday Sermon~On the miserable state of relapsing sinners ~St.Alphonsus Liguori 

Be not affrighted: you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen; he is not here.” MARK xvi. 6.



I HOPE, my dear Christians, that, as Christ is risen, you have in this holy paschal time, gone to confession, and have risen from your sins. But, attend to what St. Jerome teaches that many begin well, but few persevere. “Incipere multorem est, perseverare paucorum.” Now the Holy Ghost declares, that he who perseveres in holiness to death, and not they who begin a good life, shall be saved. “But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved.” (Matt. xxiv. 13.) The crown of Paradise, says St. Bernard, is promised to those who commence, but it is given only to those who persevere. ”Inchoantibus præmium promittitur, perseverantibus datur.” (Ser. vi. Deinodo bene viv.) Since, then, brethren, you have resolved to give yourselves to God, listen to the admonition of the Holy Ghost: ”Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thyself for temptation.” (Eccl. ii. 1.) Do not imagine that you shall have no more temptations, but prepare yourself for the combat, and guard against a relapse into the sins you have confessed; for, if you lose the grace of God again, you shall find it difficult to recover it. I intend this day to show you the miserable state of relapsing sinners; that is, of those who, after confession, miserably fall back into the sins which they confessed.

1. Since, then, dearly beloved Christians, you have made a sincere confession of your sins, Jesus Christ says to you what he says to the paralytic: “Behold, thou art made whole. Sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee.” (John v. 14.) By the confessions which you have made your souls are healed, but not as yet saved; for, if you return to sin, you shall be again condemned to hell, and the injury caused by the relapse shall be far greater than that which you sustained from your former sins. “Audis,” says St. Bernard, “recidere quam incidere, esse deterius.” If a man recover from a mortal disease, and afterwards fall back into it, he shall have lost so much of his natural strength, that his recovery from the relapse will be impossible. This is precisely what will happen to relaxing sinners; returning to the vomit that is, taking back into the soul the sins vomited forth in confession they shall be so weak, that they will become objects of amusement to the devil. St. Anselm says, that the devil acquires a certain dominion over them, so that he makes them fall, and fall again as he wishes. Hence the miserable beings become like birds with which a child amuses himself. He allows them, from time to time, to fly to a certain height, and then draws them back again when he pleases, by means of a cord made fast to them. Such is the manner in which the devil treats relapsing sinners. “Sed quia ab hoste tenentur, volantes in eadem vitia dejiciuntur.”

2. St. Paul tells us, that we have to contend not with men like ourselves, made of flesh and blood, but with the princes of hell. “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers.” (Ephes. vii. 12.) By these words he wishes to admonish us that we have not strength to resist the powers of hell, and that, to resist them, the divine aid is absolutely necessary: without it, we shall be always defeated; but, with the assistance of God’s grace, we shall, according to the same apostle, be able to do all things and shall conquer all enemies. “I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me.” (Phil. iv. 13.) But this assistance God gives only to those who pray for it. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find.” (Matt. vii. 7.) They who neglect to ask, do not receive. Let us, then, be careful not to trust in our resolutions: if we place our confidence in them, we shall be lost. When we are tempted to relapse into sin, we must put our whole trust in the assistance of God, who infallibly hears all who invoke his aid.

3”He that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. x. 12.) They who are in the state of grace should, according to St. Paul, be careful not to fall into sin, particularly if they have been ever guilty of mortal sins; for a relapse into sin brings greater evil on the soul. “And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. ”(Luke xi. 26.)

4. We are told in the Holy Scriptures, that the enemy “will offer victims to his drag, and will sacrifice to his net; because through them his meat is made dainty.” (Habac. i. 16.) In explaining this passage St. Jerome says, that the devil seeks to catch in his nets all men, in order to sacrifice them to the divine justice by their damnation. Sinners, who are already in the net, he endeavours to bind with new chains; but the friends of God are his “dainty meats.” To make them his slaves, and to rob them of all they have acquired, he prepares stronger snares. “The more fervently,” says Denis the Carthusian, “a soul endeavours to serve God, the more fiercely does the adversary rage against her.” The closer the union of a Christian with God, and the greater his efforts to serve God, the more the enemy is aimed with rage, and the more strenuously he labours to enter into the soul from which he has been expelled. “When,” says the Redeemer, ”the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, seeking rest, and not finding, he saith: I will return into my house, whence I came out.” (Luke xi. 24.) Should he succeed in re-entering, he will not enter alone, but will bring with him associates to fortify himself in the soul of which he has again got possession. Thus, the second destruction of that miserable soul shall be greater than the first. “And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” (Luke xi. 26.)

5. To God, the relapse of ungrateful Christians is very displeasing. Because, after he had called and pardoned them with so much love, he sees that, forgetful of his mercies to them, they again turn their back upon him and renounce his grace. “If my enemy had reviled me, I would verily have borne with it. But thou, a man of one mind, my guide and familiar, who didst take sweet meats together with me. ” (Ps. liv. 13, etc.) Had my enemy, says the Lord, insulted me, I would have felt less pain; but to see you rebel against me, after I had restored my friendship to you, and after I had made you sit at my table, to eat my own flesh, grieves me to the heart, and impels me to take vengeance on you. Miserable the man who, after having received so many graces from God, becomes the enemy, from being the friend of God. He shall find the sword of divine vengeance prepared to chastise him. “And he that passes over from justice to sin, God hath prepared such an one for the sword.” (Eccl. xxvi. 27.)

6. Some of you may say: If I relapse, I will soon rise again; for I will immediately prepare myself for confession. To those who speak in this manner shall happen what befell Samson. He allowed himself to be deluded by Dalila: while he was asleep she cut off his hair, and his strength departed from him. Awaking from sleep, he said: “I will go out as I did before, and shake myself, not knowing that the Lord was departed from him. ” (Judges xvi. 20.) He expected to deliver himself as on former occasions, from the hands of the Philistines. But, because his strength had departed from him, he was made their slave. They pulled out his eyes, and binding him in chains, shut him up in prison. After relapsing into sin, a Christian loses the strength necessary to resist temptations, because “the Lord departs from him.” He abandons him by withholding the efficacious aid necessary to overcome temptations; and the miserable man remains blind and abandoned in his sin.

7. “No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke ix. 62.) Behold a faithful picture of a relapsing sinner. Mark the words no man: no one, says Jesus Christ, who begins to serve me, and looks back, is fit to enter heaven. According to Origen, the addition of a new sin to one committed before, is like the addition of a new wound to a wound just inflicted. “Cum peccatum peccato adjicitur, sicut vulnus vulneri.” (Hom. i. in Ps.) If a wound be inflicted on any member of the body, that member certainly loses its original vigour. But, if it receives a second wound, it shall lose all strength and motion, without hope of recovery. The great evil of a relapse into sin is, that it renders the soul so weak that she has but little strength to resist temptation. For St. Thomas says, “After a fault has been remitted, the dispositions produced by the preceding acts remain.” (1 p., qu. 86, art. 5.) Every sin, though pardoned, always leaves a wound on the soul. When to this wound a new one is added, the soul becomes so weak that, without a special and extraordinary grace from God, it is impossible for her to conquer temptations.

8. Let us, then, brethren, tremble at the thought of relapsing into sin, and let us beware of availing ourselves of the mercy of God to continue to offend him. ”He,” says St. Augustine, ”who has promised pardon to penitents, has promised repentance to no one.” God has indeed promised pardon to all who repent of their sins, but he has not promised to any one the grace to repent of the faults which he has committed. Sorrow for sin is a pure gift of God; if he withholds it, how will you repent? And without repentance, how can you obtain pardon? Ah! the Lord will not allow himself to be mocked. ”Be not deceived,” says St. Paul, ”God is not mocked.” (Gal. vi. 7.) St. Isidore tells us, that the man who repeats the sin which he before detested, is not a penitent, but a scoffer of God’s majesty. “Irrisor, et non pœnitens est, pui adhuc agit, quod pœnitet.” (De Sum. Bono.) And Tertullian teaches, that where there is no amendment, repentance is not sincere. ”Ubi emendatio nulla, pœnitentia nulla.” (De Pœnit.)

9. “Be penitent,” said St. Peter in a discourse to the Jews, ”and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts iii. 19.) Many repent, but are not converted. They feel a certain sorrow for the irregularities of their lives, but do not sincerely return to God. They go to confession, strike their breasts, and promise to amend; but they do not make a firm resolution to change their lives. They who resolve firmly on a change of life, persevere, or at least preserve themselves for a considerable time in the grace of God. But they who relapse into sin soon after confession, show, as St. Peter says, that they repent, but are not converted; and such persons shall in the end die an unhappy death. “Plerumque,” says St. Gregory, ”mali sic compunguntur ad justitiam, sicut plerumque boni tentantur ad culpam.” (Pastor., p. 3, admon. 31.) As the just have frequent temptations to sin, but yield not to them, because their will abhors them, so sinners feel certain impulses to virtue; but these are not sufficient to produce a true conversion. The Wise Man tells us that mercy shall be shown to him who confesses his sins and abandons them, but not to those who merely confess their transgressions. “He that shall confess “his sins, ” and forsake them, shall obtain mercy.” (Prov. xxviii. 13.) He, then, who does not give up, but returns to sin after confession, shall not obtain mercy from God, but shall die a victim of divine justice. He may expect to die the death of a certain young Englishman, who, as is related in the history of England, was in the habit of relapsing into sins against purity. He always fell back into these sins after confession. At the hour of death he confessed his sins, and died in a manner which gave reason to hope for his salvation. But, while a holy priest was celebrating or preparing to celebrate Mass for his departed soul, the miserable young man appeared to him, and said that he was damned. He added that, at the point of death, being tempted to indulge a bad thought, he felt himself as it were forced to consent, and, as he was accustomed to do in the former part of his life, he yielded to the temptation, and thus was lost.



10. Is there then no means of salvation for relapsing sinners? I do not say this; but I adopt the maxim of physicians. “In inagnis morbis a magnis initium medendi sumere oportet.” In malignant diseases, powerful remedies are necessary. To return to the way of salvation, the relapsing sinner must do great violence to himself. ”The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away.” (Matt. xi. 12.) In the beginning of a new life, the relapsing sinner must do violence to himself in order to root out the bad habits which he has contracted, and to acquire habits of virtue; for when he has acquired habits of virtue, the observance of the divine commands shall become easy and even sweet. The Lord once said to St. Bridget, that, to those who bear with fortitude the first punctures of the thorns which they experience in the attacks of the senses, in avoiding occasions of sin, and in withdrawing from dangerous conversations, these thorns are by degrees changed into roses.

11. But, to use the necessary violence, and to lead a life of regularity, you must adopt the proper means; otherwise you shall do nothing. After rising in the morning, you must make acts of thanksgiving, of the love of God, and of oblation of the actions of the day. You must
also renew your resolution never to offend God, and beg of Jesus Christ and his holy mother to preserve you from sin during the day. Afterwards make your meditation and hear Mass. During the day make a spiritual lecture and a visit to the most holy sacrament. In the evening, say the Rosary and make an examination of conscience. Receive the holy communion at least once a week, or more frequently if your directors advise you. Be careful to choose a confessor, to whom you will regularly go to confession. It is also very useful to make a spiritual retreat every year in some religious house. Honour the mother of God every day by some particular devotion, and by fasting on every Saturday. She is the mother of perseverance, and promises to obtain it for all who serve her. “They that work by me shall not sin.” (Eccl. xxiv. 30.) Above all, it is necessary to ask of God every morning the gift of perseverance, and to beg of the Blessed Virgin to obtain it for you, and particularly in the time of temptation, by invoking the name of Jesus and Mary as long as the temptation lasts. Happy the man who will continue to act in this manner, and shall he found so doing when Jesus Christ shall come to judge him. “Blessed is that servant, whom, when his Lord shall come, he shall find so doing.” (Matt. xxiv. 46.)