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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Alphonsianum

We are pleased to announce another Papa Stronsay blog.
This one is called the

The purpose of this new blog is to give us a place to publish some of the works of our Holy Father St. Alphonsus. The title 'Alphonsianum' is the name given to the section in monastery libraries that is consecrated to St. Alphonsus. Now we will have some inspired words from the Most Zealous Doctor close at hand. Eventually we will also publish images of the great Doctor and articles about him. An attractive button will soon link from this blog to the Alphonsianum site. Meanwhile the link is at the bottom of this post.
We have started with the right little work: Short, practical, and useful for every situation of life from living peacefully with the weather to accepting the heaviest crosses: Perhaps this is the first time it has been published on the Internet, perhaps not, but here it is: the little work called 'Conformity to the Will of God.'
This has been called the 'heavenly' little work of St. Alphonsus.
This is a document to print out and read many times.
In this little work St. Alphonsus teaches about true holiness. It is edifying that having written it, he used it repeatedly himself and, when enfeebled by old age, he often asked for it to be read to him. If this great ascetic, monk, bishop, Saint and Doctor of the Church used this little document so frequently and fruitfully himself, surely we would all profit from being familiar with it.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mother of Good, Counsel pray for us!

Feast of the Miraculous Image
Our Mother of Good Counsel
enshrined in the town
Genazzano In this image we see
Our Mother of Good Counsel
venerated by Blessed Stephen Bellesini, Augustinian,
and Saint Alphonsus Maria, Redemptorist.
The Holy Augustinian, Blessed Stephen Bellesini lived for many years as Master of Novices and as curate of the parish of St. Mary's at Genazzano. It would take a volume to record all that he did to spread devotion to Our Mother of Good Counsel. Genazzano is full of the fame of his miracles. His body is incorrupt.
Providence has been pleased for both
Augustinians and Redemptorists
to share in devotion to both
Our Mother of Good Counsel
Our Mother of Perpetual Succour
(since the latter was cared for by the Augustinians
for 300 years before the Redemptorists received Her in 1866).

The miraculous image, almost paper-thin,
is as light and fine as egg shell.
Since 1467 it has been standing on its bottom edge
unsupported and without its back touching the wall.
St Alphonsus and the Mother of Good Counsel
The desk of St. Alphonsus
At the foot of the crucifix you can make out
the image of Our Lady of Good Counsel.
The Saint wrote all his works before Her image.
He invoked Her with the Hail Mary
before every new action
whenever the clock struck the next quarter of an hour.
A brief account
of the history of
Our Mother of Good Counsel
The year is 1467 and the Mohammedans were invading Albania. Two soldiers who had served under the brave Skanderbeg both had the same dream in which the Blessed Mother, who had been venerated near the city of Scutari, communicated to them that they should prepare all that they needed for a journey because they should leave Albania and also that Her holy image would also leave to escape from the sacrilegious hands of the Turks and avoid desecration. The names of these men were Georgio and De Sclavis. They took heed of the dream and went to pray for the last time at the shrine of the miraculous image of the Blessed Mother.
As they knelt in prayer they saw the image detach itself from the wall. It was veiled in a little cloud and proceeded towards the doors to leave the church. The men followed. The image, borne no doubt by the angels, now began to move in the direction of the coast. The followed the little cloud for nineteen miles from Scutari to the Adriatic coast.
When the arrived at the coast the cloud continued on, out to sea. Here the soldiers must have wondered what to do. As they began to wade into the sea, following after the cloud and their beloved image of the Mother of God, they found that, like St. Peter of old, they were actually walking on the sea. The water became hard beneath their feet. Feeling neither hunger, cold nor any natural need, intent only upon following the image that was wrapped in the luminous cloud before them, they journeyed on foot over the Adriatic Sea during that night until, in the morning, they could see the coast of Italy. Ashore, the continued on as before, but, as they neared Rome, She who had ordered them to follow Her, now abandoned them. Search as they did, they could not find Her.
Meanwhile on April 25th 1467,
during the festivities held
in honour of St. Mark,
in the town of Genazzano:

“About the twenty-first hour of the Italian day, or about four o’clock in the afternoon, according to our computation, the dense multitude assembled in the piazza of Santa Maria was astonished to hear, high in the clear atmosphere of their country, strains of celestial harmony. Never had they heard such sounds before. It seemed as if the portals of paradise were flung open, and that the choirs of angels were permitted to give mortals some knowledge of the joys of the blessed. With eyes upturned, in breathless attention, and ravished by such exquisite melody, they anxiously sought to find out whence the sounds came. Soon ... they beheld a beautiful white cloud, darting forth vivid rays of light in every direction, amidst the music of heaven and a splendour that obscured the sun. It gradually descended, and, to their amazement, finally rested on the furtherest portion on the unfinished wall of the chapel of St. Biagio.
Suddenly the bells of the high campanile, which stood before their eyes, began to peal, though they could see that no human hand touched them. And then, in unison, every church bell in the town began to answer in peals as festive. The crowd was spell-bound, ravished, and yet full of holy feeling. With eager haste they filled the enclosure; they pressed round the spot where the cloud remained. Gradually the rays of light ceased to dart, the cloud began to clear gently away, and then, to their astonishment, there remained disclosed a most beautiful object. It was the image of Our Lady, holding the Divine Child Jesus in Her arms, and She seemed to smile upon them and say: ‘Fear not; I am your mother, and you are and shall be my beloved children.’
“All who had come there, to their astonishment, saw the beautiful Image of Our Lady still suspended in the air, without any visible support whatever, and heard from those present of the miraculous circumstances that accompanied its coming. The princes of the house of Colonnna, the captains of their forces, the magnates of the town, the Augustinian Fathers, and the secular clergy, all flocked to admire the wonder. And throughout that night, on bended knees, an immense multitude remained in the presence of their blessed treasure, filled with most intense feelings of love and gratitude to God’s Virgin Mother of Good Counsel, who thus had honoured their land.” -(The Virgin Mother of Good Counsel, Mgr. George F. Dillon, D.D., Missionary Apostolic, Dublin, M.H. Gill & Son, 1885, Ch.5, p. 60)
When the two pilgrims who had lost their treasure heard of its arrival at Genazzano they hurried thither. They told the inhabitants of the 200 years that the image had been venerated in Scutari. They did not know where it had been before then.
Between 27 April and 14 August 1467 there were recorded 171 miracles before the image of Our Mother of Good Counsel.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ready to Ship

At present we are wrapping
the latest newspaper and book
The Desert Will Flower Press.
For those of you not yet subscribed
now would be the ideal moment to do so.
If you wish, simply use the button located on the left of this page.

This edition of Catholic is, as usual, packed with pious information. Dedicated to the end of the Pauline year you will find several pages through which you will be able to take a journey through the Acts of the Apostles with the Saint. Lavishly illustrated with photographs of the places he visited and pictures of the scenes evoked in Holy Scripture you will be able to approach that book of the Bible in a way you have probably never encountered before.
We journey to Spain where we learn about the Saint of the Eucharist who has knocked on his tomb for centuries in answer to prayer, and we hear about Rev. Fr (and also Lord) Archibald Douglas and his marvellous, to the point of the miraculous, work for orphaned children. In the light of the recent media abuse of the Holy Father – which we speak about in the news – we hear from the children of Ireland who wrote to Pope Pius XII in 1954 about everything from their pet hens to the most moving sentiments. The letters are beautiful.
The news pages are packed with positive happenings in the Church and the world.

One of the most uplifting of these items of news concerns the Franciscan Nuns of the Immaculate in Lanherne, Cornwall (England). Very Providentially, and unplanned, was the choice of the book we have begun to republished with this edition.
Entitled God’s Sparrows, the work was originally published in French in 1882 as the Auréole Séraphique — with the approbation of the highest Superiors of the Order — and the series was translated, slightly re-arranged and re-printed in 4 volumes, by the Franciscans of Taunton (Devon), England, in 1885, and prefaced by His Eminence, Cardinal Manning.
The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer have, over the years, gained much from these books and it has been our long-standing desire to re-print them. We are very pleased that our first attempts coincide with this wonderful news from this vibrant young community of contemplative nuns who have come to the south-west of England more than century after our books were first translated by their fellow Franciscans in the same part of the world.
The handsomely bound English edition seems to have been printed privately, and judging by the library classifications, i.e. one set only in the possession of Oxford University, National Library of Scotland, Cambridge University — in the ‘rare books’ department, and the British Library, (neither Cambridge nor the British Library will allow the books off their premises), they have all but disappeared from circulation.
Coincidentally and not without significance, the re-printing of these books by us in this year of Our Lord 2009, coincides with the 8th centenary of the events surrounding the founding of this great and holy Order of St Francis, whose rich spiritual tradition is so needed in the world today.
May these beautiful lives, profusely illustrated for the first time, edify you the reader, and serve to inspire others to offer themselves generously to the Renaissance of the Monastic Life, so willed and supported, as in our own case, by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.
Happy reading to you all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

2009 Easter Sunday

After a Holy Week of wind
Easter morning arrived with a blue sky, calm sea;
the sun shining brightly in the sky
gave the day's light to the island Crucifix;
Last night's taper that lit the Paschal candle,
with a Latin prayer from the priest,
seemed now to have spread its flame to the whole world:
Lumen Christi gloriose resurgentis
Dissipet tenebras cordis et mentis.
[May the Light of Christ rising in glory
Scatter the darkness of heart and mind.]
The Easter morning
Sunshine and quiet stillness:
Earth, flowers and sky express an Easter Alleluia!
In the spirit of Easter
The stand for the Stronsay Paschal Candle
is borne to the waiting boat.
Our Paschal Candle for Stronsay...
Yes, shorter than normal by far....
....another peep into remote island life....
The two Paschal candles that arrived by post,
one for Papa Stronsay the other for Stronsay,
arrived as four even though marked Fragile.
It was too late to do anything other than
revamp last year's candles.
The image of the Crucified
Glorious and Risen
The Cantors
In Alleluias and Jubilations
Their voices carried mortal men
-and perhaps even angels- ...
all who would
were raised aloft as on Eagles' wings.
Baptised into His death we are raised to new life,
Incensed as the Temples of the Living God,
Members of the Mystical Body of Christ...
The Easter Acolytes
They stand, dressed in white, all aflame
representing the Angels of the Resurrection:
"Now as she was weeping,
she stooped down and looked into the sepulchre;
and she saw two angels in white...
they said to her,
Woman, why weepest thou?..."
(John 20)
The Easter Gospel
"...You seek Jesus of Nazareth,
who was crucified:
He is risen,
He is not here;
behold the place where they laid Him:
but go tell his disciples, and Peter...." (Mark 16)

Incensing of the Crucifix and the Altar
Incensing of the Members of the
Mystical Body of Christ
When words, chant, incense,
flowers, flames and alleluias
all run their course and fall short;
when there is still more needed,
to express what we know,
cannot in time or eternity
be expressed by us;
when the mystery is utterly ineffable;
mortal man goes on,
trying at the impossible,
by ringing out
with the bells of angels' voices:
"...Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mortuis vere:
Tu nobis Victor Rex,
Miserere. Amen. Alleluia.
...We know that Christ indeed has risen from the grave;
Hail Thou King of Victory,
Have mercy Lord, and save. Amen. Alleluia! "

Easter Vigil, O vere beata nox

Haec nox est, de qua scriptum est:
Et nox sicut dies illuminabitur:
et nox illuminatio mea in deliciis meis. ...
This is the night of which it is written:
And the night shall be as enlightened as the day:
And the night is my light in my enjoyments...
O vere beata nox
O truly blessed is the night
Vicitimae paschali laudes
immolent Christiani.
Agnus redemit oves:
Christus innocens Patri
Reconciliavit peccatores....
Forth the paschal Victim
Christians bring
Your sacrifice of praise:
The lamb redeemed the sheep;
and Christ the sinless One
hath to the Father
sinners reconciled.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday

The Afternoon Liturgy of Good Friday
was celebrated on Golgotha.
The strong wind continued
and combined with the Church in mourning:
The stripped altar; gaping tabernacle -
general disarray.
Even the hard baked clay of the sanctuary floor
brought to mind an image of the parched desert of the world
before Good Friday's Redemption;
when heaven had been sealed up.
With desolation is all the world made desolate.
The Great Litany is chanted
The Great Litany goes back to before the time of Pope St Leo the Great (440-461 AD). Its origin is probably Apostolic. It was used both in Mass and outside Mass. We still see its trace in the Mass where, when after the Credo, the priest sings a simple Oremus followed now, not by a prayer but by the Offertory verse. It was after that simple Oremus that the Great Litany was sung in the time before Pope St Gregory the Great (590-604 AD).
The Exposition of the Cross and the Crucified
Ecce lignum Crucis,
in quo salus mundi pependit.
Venite adoremus.
Behold the wood of the Cross
on which hung the salvation of the world.
Come let us adore.
[Holy Liturgy of Good Friday]
Animam meam dilectam...
My soul that I loved
I delivered into the hands of the wicked,
and My heritage has turned on me
like a lion in the jungle.
My enemy roared against Me, saying,
"Gather together, and hurry to devour Him."
They put Me in a desert waste,
and the whole earth mourned over Me,
Because no one is found to acknowledge Me
and do good to Me.
Men without mercy have risen up against Me,
and they have not spared My life.
Because no one is found to acknowledge Me
and do good for Me.
[Good Friday Matins, Lesson vi, Response]

Maundy Thursday, Evening Mass, Papa Stronsay

The Solemn Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper
was celebrated on Papa Stronsay
with the faithful from Stronsay who came across in the boat at 7 p.m.
The wind from the South was quite strong
and the sea was agitated.
The Offertory of the Mass
The Canon of the Mass
The Sanctus bells were replaced
with the sound of the clapper
as the last vestiges of joy
give way to the sorrow of the night;
Judas has gone forth from the Upper Room.
Amicus meus ocsuli me tradidit signo:
My friend has betrayed me with a kiss for a signal:
'Whomever I kiss, that is he; lay hold of Him.'
That was the evil sign he gave,
committing murder with a kiss.
The unhappy man
threw away the money that was paid for blood,
and finally hanged himself with a halter.

It were better for that man if he had not been born.
[Holy Thursday Matins, Lesson iv, Response]

The Altar of Repose
The strong wind, the light and the night,
the solemn procession and chant
all harmonised together

opening to us the mystery of the
Agony of God
Whose company we kept.
Una hora non potuisti vigilare mecum...
"Could you not watch one hour with Me,
After exhorting one another to die for Me?
Or do you not see Judas?
He is not sleeping,
but is hurrying to betray me.
Why do you sleep?
Rise and pray,
that you may not enter into temptation.
[Holy Thursday Matins, Lesson viii Response]

Maundy Thursday Chapter, Papa Stronsay

Maundy Thursday
As a fitting conclusion to the monastic chapter of Holy Thursday, held today in the refectory before dinner, the superior must wash the feet of the community. This is done in memory of Our Lord who on this day washed the feet of the disciples both in order to give us an example of the humility we ought to show to one another, and also to make us understand how pure we should be when we approach Him.

Spy Wednesday, 10 a.m. Stronsay

On Wednesday of Holy Week
the Mass was sung in the Stronsay chapel
and the Passion according to St Luke was chanted.
Domine si percutimus in gladio?
Lord shall we strike with the sword?
The fact that the Apostles carried swords when they met together for the "Pasch" is explained by the emnity which existed between the Jews and the Galileans, for which reason the latter were always armed when they went up to celebrate the paschal festival in Jerusalem: and that the disciples did not wear their swords merely for show is seen from the circumstance that in the garden of Gethsemini it became necessary for Christ to order Peter to replace his sword in its scabbard. The Church does not triumph by force of arms, but rather by the martyrdom of her sons. -Blessed Schuster

Holy Tuesday, 10 a.m. Stronsay

Tuesday in Holy Week
The Mass was sung in the Stronsay chapel
and the
Passion according to St. Mark was chanted
St Mark lived with his mother in Jerusalem, evidently in the less frequented part of the city, and for this reason his house was used by the first disciples as the place of meeting. When Jesus passed before the house, the youth was already in bed, and in accordance with the usual custom, having laid aside his clothes, had wrapped himself in a large sheet, which, in this instance as was usual among the wealthier classes, was woven from the finest linen. At the noise of the multitude, the young man awakes, and, hearing that Jesus was being led away captive, rushes out of the house just as he is and accosts the soldiers, possibly making use of threats. Some of them, having had a proof at Gethsemani that the disciples of the Nazarene could use arms if need be, attempted to seize him, but the young man, leaving the sheet in their hands, fled away naked.
Pope St. Gregory the Great commenting on this admonishes us that he who would escape the assaults of the devil must first strip himself internally, as the athletes stripped themselves outwardly before entering the circus; Satan must no be able to get hold of us by any of our affections and we must be willing to abandon freely to him all our worldly desires, so that we may rescue our souls from his clutches. - [Blessed Schuster]

Monday, April 06, 2009

Holy Monday, 10 a.m. Stronsay

Today, High Mass was celebrated in Stronsay at 10 a.m.
by Father Anthony Mary, F.SS.R.

In the tone of the prophecy the priest chants the Lesson from the prophet Isaiah: [Is. 50:5-10]

I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them: I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me, and spit upon me.

Dóminus Deus auxiliátor meus, ideo non sum confusús:
ideo pósui fáciem meam, ut petram duríssimam, et scio,
quóniam non confundar.

The Lord God is my helper. Therefore I am not confounded;
therefore have I set my face as a most hard rock,
and I know that I shall not be confounded.

Incensum istud a te benedictum ~ May this incense, blessed by Thee
ascendat ad Te, Domine: ~ ascend before Thee, O Lord,
et descendat super nos misericordia Tua. ~ and may Thy mercy descend upon us.
May my prayer be directed O Lord, as incense in Thy sight, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. Set a watch O Lord before my mouth: and a door round my lips: that my heart may not incline to evil words: to make excuses in sins.

O Sweetest Lord Jesus Christ, I implore Thee, pierce the very marrow of my soul with the delightful, health-giving dart of Thy love, with true, tranquil, holy, apostolic charity, so that my whole soul may ever languish and faint for love of Thee and for desire of Thee alone. –St. Bonaventure

Thursday, April 02, 2009

50th Anniversary: Blessed Nicholas, Missionary-Monk

The Apostolic Visitator
He was consecrated Bishop
beneath the image of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour
in the Church of St Alphonsus, Rome.
Blessed Nicholas
The Missionary-Monk and Bishop
laboured to bring the Separated Orthodox
into 'Holy Unia' with the Catholic Church.
He was a successful, powerful and exemplary Missionary Bishop.
Soon he would be arrested and for 11 years he would suffer a martyrdom of prisons and hard labour in the GULAG system of the Soviet Union.Fearing his death in the GULAG he was released from prison camps less than 3 years before his death. He lived his last years in the room of a house belonging to a Catholic married priest and his family. In the photograph above he stands with the two children who had accepted him as their 'grandfather'. In this house he secretly ordained many priests.
2 April 1959
Blessed Nicholas sleeps in death awaiting his Resurrection.

Blessed Nicholas,
heavenly Patron of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer,
Pray for us!

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