The Mind of the Immaculate

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The Immaculate is a living ideal, a pattern of life to be replicated by our external comportment, and more importantly, by our interior lives. She lives enthroned, not merely in paradise, but in the hearts and minds of those who truly love Her. In this way She is alive and active in and through us, influencing directly the choices we make as a Mother who loves and nurtures us. This we must remember every time we think of Her. Here we will find true enlightenment and our feet will be led into the way of peace (Luke 1:79) to “the summits of our desired holiness,” to peaceful rest and blissful union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But to achieve this our thought of Her must be prayerful and profound. This is only made possible by humble meditation and prayer. Continue reading

Homily for the Memorial of St. Pius X

Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Pius X, one of the great popes of the 20th century. He was born in 1835, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, and he grew up in poverty. His father was the village postman and little Giuseppe walked six kilometers to school everyday. This poverty characterized his whole life, and it was not just a matter of physical poverty. St. Pius X was a man who was truly poor in spirit. Our Lord said: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Throughout his life as simple priest and Franciscan tertiary, then as bishop of Mantua, later as cardinal archbishop of Milan and finally as supreme pontiff of the universal Church, Giuseppe Sarto, remained a simple man and a lover of poverty. His last will and testament gives witness to this with the words: “I was born poor, I have lived in poverty, and I wish to die poor.”

Thus, this great man was single minded throughout his life and placed himself at the dispositions of Christ and His Church, without consideration for himself. This was his poverty in spirit. His whole life was to serve Christ and the Church.

Continue reading

Truth

This is an old post that I have revised for today’s feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

In 1940 during the Nazi occupation of Poland, St. Maximilian Kolbe was negotiating with the occupying commanders for permission to publish an edition of his magazine, The Knight of the Immaculate.  The Nazis had taken control of Niepokalanow, the City of the Immaculate, located outside of Warsaw, where St. Maximilian had one of the largest printing operations in the world.  The Nazis had sealed the printing presses with lead so that they could not be used.

They were well aware of the influence the saint had on the Polish populace and had endeavored to win him over to their cause.  The Nazis had even offered to register him as a Volksdeutsche, because of his German sounding surname, so eager were they to have him as a collaborator and propagandist.  St. Maximilian had boldly refused the offer, but kept on filling out applications for permission to publish his magazine, though in retaliation, the Nazis continued to reject them. Continue reading

The Saints and the Healing of Memory

Dawn Eden recently published a wonderful book on the topic of healing from the wounds of sexual abuse.  My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints.  This new publication follows her highly successful The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On. Dawn explains the inspiration behind her new book, as flowing from her experiences of speaking to people who had read Thrill of the Chaste.  In that book she wrote of her own journey from a life of promiscuity to discovering the beauty and joy of chastity as opposed to the destructive dead-end that is lust.  Dawn recounts how many who were not convinced by her arguments in Thrill of the Chaste were angry and hurt, feeling that she was judging them. She found that many of them had been a victim of sexual abuse at some time in their life.  Dawn also experienced sexual abuse  as a child and knows how abuse victims tend to blame themselves for what happened to them.

In an interview with AirMaria (21:00-ff) back in 2009, Dawn explained how it was that devotion to the Blessed Mother can be huge factor in bringing about transformation in a life plagued by sexual temptation.  She relates that after she had written Thrill of the Chaste she would get into arguments on her blog with feminist bloggers over the subject Christianity and chastity specifically.  Many times the feminist bloggers manifested a great deal of anger, which they directed at Dawn because they felt that she was judging them, or that Church, because of her doctrine on chastity, was judging them.  Ironically, because Our Lady and purity are so closely identified, she also found that those living and impure life also had an aversion to Marian devotion.  But the purity of Our Lady is not a judgment, but a living fire that is purifying, liberating and welcoming.  If the just father embracing his prodigal son is the image of Divine Mercy, then the Immaculate Virgin Mary is the image of pure love delivering us from selfishness and at the same time showing us unconditional compassion.  This is the Marian message that we need to communicate to the world about chastity.

One of the great attractions of devotion to Our Lady and, in particular the sacramental of the Miraculous Medal, is the compassion of Mary, who as Mother of Jesus is also our Mother, and who is present to Her children not to judge but to nurture, heal and affirm.  This was exactly the attitude of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who knew that the Blessed Mother was the easiest way to God, precisely because She is pure, pleasing to God and does not judge the sinner.  He used to give out the Miraculous Medal to souls in need because he simply wanted to introduce the presence of Mary into their lives.

I often think of this power of Our Lady, resplendent and transformative as the Way of Beauty.  Our Lady is both Icon of all that we hope to be and Mother of our soul, bringing to pass a transformation from sin to grace that we are too broken to accomplish ourselves.

In My Peace I Give You, Dawn points out that although the Immaculate Virgin underwent no purification, sinless as She is, Mary does have a wounded heart through which She is uniquely associated with the suffering of Her Son.  It is an interior wound that lays bare the secret of hearts (cf. Lk 2:35).  Our Lady knows the pain of Her children, and She holds them in the piercing of Her Heart.  This is the realm of mental suffering, where all pain is synthesized and either accepted or rejected, where the human condition is placed in the crucible of God’s love and divine, sacrificial and suffering love is rarefied and separated from the suffering of sin and darkness and fear.  Christ underwent both a physical and mental suffering in the agony of his Passion.  Blessed John Henry Newman called this the “double agony” of Christ.  But it was the mental suffering of Our Lord that gave form and purpose to the rest.  Our Lady is particularly iconic of this mental suffering, because Hers is a suffering of “compassion.”  She suffers with the One who suffers because She loves Him and is present in His sufferings.

In a particular way Dawn points to the faith Our Lady exercised after Our Lord’s Ascension—a time in which She had only the memories, the mental images of Her Son’s death and resurrection, but continued with the rest of the Church to participate in these mysteries though the veiled but transformative presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist.  In the Heart of Mary, especially in that Heart which is a tabernacle for the Eucharistic presence of the Sacred Heart of Her Son, all memory is recapitulated and recirculated.  Everything that hurts is given a meaning beyond itself and all who suffer experience both the Passion and Resurrection of Christ as the purpose of their lives and the means of their own healing.

With Her new book, Dawn has taken these ideas to the next step, as a kind of bridge between our own brokenness and the immaculate integrity of the Blessed Virgin.  The saints underwent the transformation from the brokenness of original sin, the history of sin within their families and their own lives, to healing and re-creation in Christ Jesus.  As Dawn points out, some of them experienced even the wound of sexual abuse, and subsequently had to struggle against great odds to live authentic spiritual lives.   The stories of the saints, thus offers us who are broken the encouragement we are looking for and the powerful presence upon which we can rely:

No matter what evil was done to us, if we, like the saints, offer our hearts to God, he will take us as we are, with all our past experiences. Our hearts right now contains all the raw material Jesus needs to mold them so that, with his grace working over the course of time, they may become like His. This is true no matter how damaged we may feel. So long as our hearts long for union with Jesus’ Sacred Heart, our feelings about ourselves will not prevent such union, because God’s love is stronger than feelings. It is a presence.

Reading about the lives of the Saints is not just about seeing their example and figuring out how to imitate them, or how to integrate the teaching of Christ in a practical way.  It is all that, and more.  As we are taught in Lumen Gentium 50:

Nor is it by the title of example only that we cherish the memory of those in heaven, but still more in order that the union of the whole Church may be strengthened in the Spirit by the practice of fraternal charity. For just as Christian communion among wayfarers brings us closer to Christ, so our companionship with the saints joins us to Christ, from Whom as from its Fountain and Head issues every grace and the very life of the people of God.

The saints are living members of our family who are present and who teach from within because we are one with them in prayer, and because they intercede with God on our behalf.  We identify with their brokenness.  We aspire to their victory.  But we also know that they are on our side, fighting on our behalf.  We need a new set of memories in order to overcome the pain of  the past, active memories like the commemoration of the Mass by which we participate in purity itself.  We need also the active memory of Our Lady who ponders in Heart the mysteries of the faith She witnessed with Her own eyes, and the active memory of the saints who have accomplished the transformation we all long for and so desperately need.

In her book, Dawn writes much about memory and its healing, even of the memories of things that have been so painful that we have buried beneath our consciousness.  She quotes Pope Benedict:  “Memory and hope are inseparable. To poison the past does not give hope: it destroys its emotional foundations.”  The parallel between memory and the theological virtue of hope is very Bonaventurian.  St. Bonaventure also aligns memory and hope with the First Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Father.  How much sexual abuse today is somehow related to either the abuse of a father or at least the dereliction of the duty of a father.  Perhaps these are the toughest memories of all.  And that is why we need all the help we can get from the friends of Jesus to get us back to the embrace of our merciful Father, who alone can heal us.

Dawn has done another great service to the Church and to souls who are in need of encouragement and healing.  May God bless her for it.

The Easter Mysteries and the Quest for True Knighthood

Some time ago, I wrote that the Holy Grail of True Knighthood is constituted by the inversion of worldly values and the assimilation of the foolishness of God, which is wiser than the wisdom of men.  There is a real sense in which true knighthood is itself the Holy Grail.  The ideals of Marian Chivalry are so high because it is the knighthood of Jesus Christ Himself, and so paradoxical because in practice a fighting spirit is hard to synthesize with courtesy.

Within and Without

The Holy Grail is both within and without.  In The Mystery of Faith, which is first of all the Eucharist itself and then our own participation in it, we must profess our faith in the most sublime reality of God (the Eucharist) and then conform ourselves to it interiorly (worthy and fruitful communion).  The Mystery of Faith is both the stupendous reality of transubstantiation and our own transformation in Christ.  So for true Knight the Holy Grail is first of all the attainment of the Vessel of the Eucharist and the Eucharist itself and then it is that enclosed space within one’s soul where the virtues of chivalry live and thrive unthreatened by the warfare of this world.

For good reason, then, even if within the tradition there are so many pagan elements, the legends surrounding the Holy Grail go right to the heart of the Easter Mystery.  In the most Christian version of the story, The Quest del Saint Graal, there are three manifestations of the Holy Grail.

Three Manifestations

The first is to Lancelot, the sinner, when from the Grail a priest elevates the Sacred Host and he is granted a vision of three men, two of whom place the youngest into the hands of the priest.  When Lancelot tries to approach the Sacred Vessel in order to assist the priest, who seems so weighed down by the figure of Christ that He is bearing, Lancelot is stopped in his tracks and left paralyzed and senseless.

The second manifestation is to Perceval, Bors and Galahad, the three companions, who during the reenactment of the Last Supper at the Castle of Corbenic, witness Our Lord and Savior appear out from the Holy Grail, bleeding from His hands and feet.  Jesus tells them that since they have sought Him so diligently that He could no longer hide Himself from them, and that for this reason He deigned to let them see some of His secrets and mysteries.  He also tells them that while many had been filled with the “grace of the Holy Vessel,” only they were allowed to experience the Holy Grail in such a face-to-face manner.  Then Our Lord Himself communicates the three companions from the Holy Grail itself.  Later Galahad tells his two companions that when he “was looking on the hidden mysteries that are not disclosed to common view, but only to them that wait on Jesus Christ,” that he had achieved such joy that had he died at that moment he would have been the happiest man that ever lived.

The third manifestation of the Holy Grail is given to Galahad alone, because as King Mordrain tells him:

You are the lily of purity, you are the true rose, the flower of strength and healing with the tint of fire: for the fire of the Holy Ghost burns in you so brightly that my flesh which was withered and dead is now made young and strong again.

This last manifestation takes place a year after Galahad had been crowned King of Serras.  During that year, the Holy Grail dwells within the city walls on its silver table over which Galahad has built an ark of gold and precious stones.  On the anniversary of his crowning a bishop, kneeling before the table, recites the Confiteor and intones “the mass of the glorious Mother of God.  Then during the “solemn part of the mass,” the bishop calls Galahad over:  “Come forward, servant of Jesus Christ, and look on that which you have so ardently desired to see.”  He steps forward and gazes down into the Sacred Vessel, which contains The Mystery of Faith and is seized with a violent trembling at the contemplation of it.  “Then lifting up his hands to heaven, he said:

Lord, I worship Thee and give Thee thanks that Thou hast granted my desire, for now I see revealed what tongue could not relate nor heart conceive.  Here is the source of valour undismayed, the spring-head of endeavor; here I see the wonder that passes every other!  And since, sweet Lord, Thou has fulfilled my wish to let me see what I have ever craved, I pray Thee now that in this state Thou suffer me to pass from earthly life to life eternal.

Galahad is then once again communicated from the Holy Grail and shortly after prostrates himself before the Holy Grail on the silver table and then breathes his last.

Three meanings

Each of the manifestations is an experience of The Mystery of Faith and a relaxing of the Discipline of the Secret, a progressive mystagogia.  The manifestations are progressive, proceeding from a kind of outer court to an inner sanctum.

In the first manifestation to Lancelot, the repentant sinner, he is allowed to see the mystery of the Holy Grail from a distance, but, like Uzzah who was struck dead because he touched the Ark, is punished when he attempts to approach the Holy Grail.  From the outside Lancelot, beholds a special revelation of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity and of Transubstantiation, as a kind of encouragement for him to do greater penance, but he is not permitted to enter in, nor is his presumption left unpunished.

In the second manifestation to the three companions, Our Lord rewards their perseverance in the quest for the inner life of the grail.  He tells them that He cannot withhold his secrets and mysteries from those who ardently seek them.  In it the holy knight, Galahad finds joy with which nothing in this world can compare.

But only to Galahad, the pure, is the third and highest manifestation granted.  It is a reward for his purity of heart and body.  In it he finds the source of fearless courage and the motive for all endeavor.  The paradox hear is that the end of the Quest can only be reached by means of fearlessness and the highest motives, yet the it is only in the Grail that such treasures may be found.  Again the Holy Grail is both within and without, but when it is fully achieved within our entrance into heaven is assured.  The goal of life is achieved and all that is left to do is to die.

Triple Ways

Thee Three manifestations correspond roughly to the three ways of the spiritual life: purgation, illumination and union.  Lancelot is given a revelation in order to bring him closer to the source, by inspiring in him hope, and this leads to greater repentance.  The three companions are illumined with what is hidden and secret because they persevere through the darkness.  Galahad is brought into the union of the Holy of Holies, into the very sanctuary of heaven, because his purification and illumination is perfected.

In sacred scripture the chalice has a threefold meaning as well.  There is first of all the cup of wrath:

For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup of strong wine full of mixture. And he hath poured it out from this to that: but the dregs thereof are not emptied: all the sinners of the earth shall drink (Ps 75:9).

But while our godlessness draws down upon us the wrath of God, Our Lord Himself has imbibed the cup of our iniquities.  From this chalice he prayed to be delivered because the corruption of our sins with which was filled was poison to His immaculate flesh and His Sacred Heart.  Nevertheless His last word on the matter was:

The chalice which my father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (Jn 18:11).

We may indeed, drink “judgment” to ourselves, by partaking of the Eucharist unworthily, or we may honor the Body and Blood of Christ, by doing penance and seeking perseveringly the Holy Gail.

The second is the cup of salvation, which is, we might say, the very same cup of wrath transformed by mercy.  Wrath becomes mercy in the Heart of Christ, when he drinks the cup of the wrath set up against us, and allows us to drink from the cup of His salvation: This chalice is the new testament in my blood.

This do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me (1 Cor 11:25).

This memory of Christ makes the past present and transforms it, conforms it to the victorious Christ.  It is the dawn of a new light toward which the whole of history is led in procession.

The third is the cup of fellowship that, like Galahad, we are invited to share because we have persevered.  Holy Communion is the summit of the Mass because the Penitential Rite and the Liturgy of the Word (prayers at the foot of the altar and Mass of the Catechumen) are preparations of the heart and mind for union.  If penance is made perfect by the enlightenment of the Cross then the way is open for the third manifestation of the Grail, which is not only the reception of the Eucharist, but a vision into the Holy Vessel, by which we may contemplate The Mystery of Faith contained therein.  Our call is not only to receive the Eucharist bodily but to experience what that bodily union represents.  Surely, the grace of the Blessed Sacrament does not depend on how we experience it, but nevertheless we are called to taste, and see that the Lord is sweet (Ps 34:8).

Thou hast prepared a table before me against them that afflict me. Thou hast anointed my head with oil; and my chalice which inebreateth me, how goodly is it! (Ps 23:5).

The Only Way

Unfortunately, the myth of the Holy Grail is suffused, in most its renditions, with the old Gnostic heresy of secret knowledge given apart from the public revelation of Jesus Christ.  Dan Brown has given us a useful, if not revolting, synthesis the Gnostic nonsense in his wretched novel.  But he is not altogether wrong either.  The Grail is an enclosed space and a feminine symbol, but it does not for that reason point to the erotic, to goddess worship and the Gnostic Mary Magdelan.

As a Christian myth, the Holy Grail is a symbol of the Blessed Virgin, within whose solemn Mass its mysteries are revealed to Galahad (third manifestation, union).  She is the Enclosed Garden, within whom the secret of God’s divine presence is contained and through whom, He who was hidden from all eternity is made manifest.  And it is through the attainment of Her as the goal of our Quest that we will find within ourselves the same hidden mysteries realized.

In the Quest del Saint Graal, Galahad receives the fullness of his knighthood from the Perceval’s sister, a virgin of consummate beauty and virtue.  Galahad, as the only one who may safely unsheathe it, wields the Sword of the Strange Belt, found on the Miraculous Ship.  It is both prophesied that only the best of knights will be able to wield the sword without harm, and that eventually a pure maiden will come who will replace the cheap hemp belt from which it hangs for a more worthy one.  Perceval’s Sister replaces the belt with one made from her hair, which was her most precious possession.  Taking the sword in its sheath and attaching it to the belt made with her hair she girds Galahad with it and says:

Truly, Sir, it matters no more to me when death shall take me; for now I hold myself blessed above all maidens, having made a knight of the nobles man in the world.  For I assure you, you were not by rights a knight until you were girded with the sword which was brought to this land for you alone.

Then Galahad answers:

Damsel, you part in this makes me you knight forever.

Shortly thereafter Perceval’s sister does die, offering a cup of her own blood to a sickly queen in need of healing.

By Her precious virginity, the Blessed Virgin girds the Son of God with His sacred humanity and bestows upon Him the Knighthood by which He will save the world.  He becomes Her Knight, and through Her we will become the children of God.  Christ offers His blood, taken from the Virgin, as a sacrifice for all, and She offers Her life’s blood, Her very own Son in an act of consummate feminine chivalry.  All true knights that come afterwards will have to penetrate The Mystery of Faith by taking this path, this way and must persevere in this quest.

This is the secret of Marian Chivalry and its mystagogia is the science of the great Marian saints like St. Louis de Montfort and St. Maximilian Kolbe.  These are Easter mysteries that we contemplate:  mysteries of light and of victory.

Having concentrated in this post on the Holy Grail, I will look more closely in the next Easter catechesis at the Holy Sepulcher.

Stand Down

Thanks to everyone for their prayers.  I had a great retreat, preceded on March 20 by an opportunity to preach a day of recollection to the Courage group in Philadelphia.  I was very edified by this group of very serious Catholics who are struggling, like everyone, to keep the faith.  I had the privilege of meeting Fr. John Harvey.

I here attach a translation of an excerpt from the writings of St. Maximilian Kolbe on the question of human happiness and our last end.  Know your end.  Not altogether unfitting for Holy Week.

I recommend preparing your families for the Truce of God.  This will begin on Holy Thursday with the beginning of the Triduum and end on Easter Monday.  It should not be all that heroic, though given human nature and domestic rivalries it may seem virtually impossible.  Try anyway.  In any case, I am giving several days notice to acclimate yourself to the idea.

Immaculate Warrior Queen

She shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for Her heel (Gen 3:15b).

This primordial prophecy of sacred scripture is a word picture that has served over the ages to instill in the hearts of the faithful confidence in the power of the Immaculate Conception.  The image of the Woman of Genesis 3:15 with Her foot on the head of the serpent is a source of confidence of countless souls who wear the Miraculous Medal (the Medal of the Immaculate Conception).  St. Maximilian called the Medal his Silver Bullet.  Indeed it is a visual exorcism over the enemies of faith and charity, because of its reference to Genesis 3:15.

Blessed Pope Pius IX utilized this verse, evincing such a militant and confident spirit, as the principle scriptural text in the bull of definition for the Immaculate Conception, Ineffabilis Deus.

The verse in its entirety reads: (a) I will put enmities between thee and the Woman, and thy seed and Her seed; (b) She shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for Her heel. Pius IX, in accord with the received tradition, teaches that enmity exists between the Woman and the serpent only because She is never under His power through sin.  The enmity indicates, not only the fact that there is this unbridgeable gulf between the Woman and the serpent, but also that the two are engaged in an unending conflict.  In this She is associated with Her Seed, namely, Christ.  In fact this association is emphasized in the verse in the way that parts (a) and (b) complete each other.  The first part sets up a parallel that is recapitulated in the second.

In part (a) The Woman and the serpent are set in opposition and then likewise Her Seed and the serpent’s seed.  In part (b) the Woman completes the relation of opposition by destroying the serpent.

Much has been written concerning the second part of the verse, as to whether it should read He (Christ) shall crush thy head heel or She (Mary) shall crush thy head.  (Here is a good argument in favor of the Marian interpretation of 3:15b).  Regardless of what conclusions one might come to with respect to the most accurate translation, several things should be noted: first of all, the woman is definitely associated with the Seed in a mutual hatred for the serpent, so much so that promised Redeemer is identified as none other than the Seed of the Woman; secondly, that the logic of part (a) calls for the completion of part (b), so that whether the Woman is mentioned explicitly or not Her collaboration in the crushing of the serpent’s head is at least implied.

For this reason, and because of the Church’s use of the Marian translation of part (b) within the liturgy, we need to be convinced that the image of the Immaculate Conception standing on the serpent’s head tells us something profoundly important.  Whether it is the bas-relief of Our Lady on the Medal of the Immaculate Conception (Miraculous Medal) or one of the many painted versions of the Immaculate Conception, like the one of Rubens at the head of this post, one of the identifying features of Our Lady portrayed under this particular title is the representation of Her immaculate foot over the proud and defeated head of Satan.

What this tells us is that Our Lady’s immaculate purity of heart is powerful and victorious.  Not only is it beautiful and all-holy, it a sword in the hand of God.

This interpretation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is confirmed and strengthened with the support of the Church’s understanding of Apocalypse 12, another militant passage in which the Woman is pitted against the serpent (this time in the form of a red dragon).  In this passage Our Lady is clothed with sun, stands on the moon and is crowned with twelve stars.  In some images of the Immaculate Conception of the Imagery of Genesis 3 and Apocalypse 12 are combined, both strengthening the symbolism and using the one passage to interpret the other (as Ruben’s renders it above).  This imagery of Apocalypse 12 indicates both a state of militancy and triumph.  Our Lady is both suffering here on earth and glorified in heaven.  This is because She is the personification of the Church, which is both militant and triumphant.  Those of us who still suffer already share in the victory of those who have passed through the veil.  This is particularly true in the way in which we participate in the victory of the Woman.

Jesus Christ, our victorious King, has chosen to associate His Mother in His Redeeming work in an absolutely unique way.  He created Her immaculate so that She might be the worthy Tabernacle of His presence, and also so that She by worthy to stand by Him at the foot of the Cross and suffer with Him in a way that was meritorious for salvation of all.  Our Lord made Her so perfect that Our Lady She possesses a holiness greater than which cannot be conceived.  He is so perfect a Redeemer that the most perfect fruit of His perfect redemption is associated with Him in His redeeming action.

For this reason, Satan fears Our Lady.  His hatred for Her is bitter but futile, for, as Apocalypse 12 shows us, he is unable to touch either Her or Her child.  Our Lady is His humiliation.  The Fathers of the Church, interpreting Apocalypse 12 teach that fall of Satan and the bad angels was due to a rejection of the mystery of the Incarnation, especially insofar as it pertains to Our Lady’s Queenship over all the angels.  (For a great explanation of this as it relates to the Immaculate Conception, see The Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God:  An Exposition, by Bishop Ullathorne, c. viii, pp.  65-76.)

The last verse of Apocalypse 12 is a synopsis of the whole of sacred history as the ongoing hatred of Satan for the Woman:

And the dragon was angry against the Woman: and went to make war with the rest of Her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (17).

Satan is always standing on the frontier of each human life, seething with hatred for Jesus and Mary and perceiving their image and likeness in us and projecting his hatred for them onto us.  He longs to destroy us, but his designs will be frustrated if we are truly the rest of Her seed.

St. Maximilian always counseled his friars and the members of the Militia Immaculatae to make the novena leading up to the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception a time to examine one’s conscience in respect to the degree of surrender they had made to the Immaculate.  The day of the solemnity was to be the most precious time of grace in which one was to renew their consecration and resolve to live it more faithfully.  War is never easy.  We should not expect the spiritual life to be anything but constant struggle.  Our blessings and consolations will come not in spite of struggle but as a fruit of it.

The spiritual life is a battle.  Our Lady is the Immaculate Warrior Queen is the Victrix of Lepanto and of every conflict that threatens the salvation of souls.   May we always have confidence in the She who is tota pulchra, all beautiful.  Let our confidence be our consolation.

St. Maximilian: Knight of the Immaculate

kolbeHappy Solemnity of St. Maximilian (for our institute the celebration is a solemnity) and of the Assumption.  I am in Indiana and will begin a retreat for the members of our MIM this evening on the spirituality of St. Maximilian Kolbe, so please say a prayer for the retreatants and me.

While our work here is specifically directed at the members of our movement, the MIM itself is directed toward spreading unlimited consecration to Mary around the globe, so I encourage any and all to make or renew their consecration to Mary as they are inspired to do.

May the Immaculate bring all of you peace and give you all the spirit of Marian Chivalry.

Our Strategy: Prayer, Mortification and Fraternal Charity

I based the following talk, given to the boys on Saturday at the encampment, on an article St. Maximilian Kolbe wrote in November of 1924. The title of his article, at least in the Italian translation is “Our Tactics.” I don’t have a Polish copy so I cannot be sure if it is accurately translated into Italian. I only mention this, because if one takes into account the military distinction between strategy and tactics, which I explain in the talk, what St. Maximilian is speaking of seems more like strategy than tactics. A minor point. In any case, here is my translation of his article.

Update: Missing Video Video Restored

I won’t try to explain the technical difficulties, but the video was inadvertently deleted from our account on gloria.tv and is currently inaccessible from our computers. I will get it back up just as soon as I can.

more about “Gloria.tv: Prayer, Mortification, and…“, posted with vodpod