Monday, 29 September 2014

St. Michael

" 'Mi-ca-el,' or 'Who is like to God?'

Such was the cry of the greatest Archangel when he smote the rebel Lucifer in the conflict of the heavenly hosts, and from that hour he has been known as 'Michael,' the captain of the armies of God, the type of divine fortitude, the champion of every faithful soul in strife with the powers of evil.

Thus he appears in Holy Scripture as the guardian of the children of Israel, their comfort and protector in times of sorrow or conflict. He it is who prepares for their return from the Persian captivity, who leads the valiant Maccabees to victory, and who rescues the body of Moses from the envious grasp of the Evil One.

And since Christ's coming the Church has ever venerated St. Michael as her special patron and protector. She invokes him by name in her confession of sin, summons him to the side of her children in the agony of death, and chooses him as their escort from the chastening flames of Purgatory to the realms of holy light.

Lastly, when Antichrist shall have set up his kingdom on earth, it is St. Michael who will unfurl once more the standard of the Cross, sound the last trumpet, and binding together the false prophet and the beast, hurl them for all eternity into the burning pool".

Friday, 26 September 2014

Sts. Cyprian and Justina

The detestable superstition of St. Cyprian's idolatrous parents devoted him from his infancy to the Devil, and
he was brought up in all the impious mysteries of idolatry, astrology and the black art. When Cyprian had learned all the extravagances of these schools of error and delusion, he hesitated at no crimes, blasphemed Christ, and committed secret murders.

There lived at Antioch a young Christian lady called Justina, of high birth and great beauty.

A pagan nobleman fell deeply in love with her, and finding her modesty inaccessible, and her resolution invincible, he applied to Cyprian for assistance. Cyprian, no less smitten with the lady, tried every secret with which he was acquainted to conquer her resolution.

Justina, perceiving herself vigorously attacked, studied to arm herself by prayer, watchfulness, and mortification against all his artifices and the power of his spells.

Cyprian, finding himself worsted by a superior power, began to consider the weakness of the infernal spirits, and resolved to quit their service and become a Christian. Agladius, who had been the first suitor to the holy virgin, was likewise converted and baptised.

The persecution of Diocletian breaking out, Cyprian and Justina were seized, and presented to the same judge. She was inhumanly scourged, and Cyprian was torn with iron hooks. After this they were both sent in iron chains to Diocletian, who commanded their heads be struck off, which sentence was executed.

Reflection - If the errors and disorders of St. Cyprian show the degeneracy of human nature corrupted by sin and enslaved to vice, his conversion displays the power of grace and virtue to repair it. Let us beg of God to send us grace to resist temptation, and to do His holy Will in all things.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

St. Dominic and The Lives of the Brethren

Two newly-stocked titles at Carmel Books.

The figure of Saint Dominic was one that inspired a legion of followers throughout the ages.

The Black and White habit of his Order clothed Saints Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, Albert the Great and Pius V, to name but a few.
Fr. Henri Lacordaire brings to us an introduction to the life of his own spiritual father, and does so with the simplicity and erudition of a true Friar Preacher.

Fr. Henri-Dominique Lacordaire was perhaps the most well-known Dominican in France in the nineteenth century. It was he who greatly aided the restoration of the Dominican Order in a country that had destroyed all trace of it in the throes of the Revolution. he was a great preacher, but also a man of liberal ideas - a penitent sinner but an impenitent liberal as he called himself.

This biography of Saint Dominic was a tribute by the great preacher to the Father of all Friars Preachers. It is not a long tome, but rather a simple book designed to introduce the figure of Saint Dominic to the faithful of his day.

A liberal in politics, he did not allow this liberalism to destroy his faith in the great saint that was such a foe of heresy and such a lover of the Truth and the Blessed Saviour.

This book deserves to be found again by a world in which Liberalism finally decayed into Modernism and a denial of the supernatural.

Lives of the Brethren of the Order of Preachers
This book, written by Gerard de Frachet, O.P., is the earliest written history of the Dominican Order.

Much as the Fioretti described Saint Francis and the beginning of his Order, the Lives of the Brethren describes the life of Saint Dominic and the fervour of the early Dominicans.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

On Shunning Unrelenting Heretics

We read in St. Vincent of Lerins' famous and apposite Commonitorium Against Heresies that:

"Shun them as you would a viper, as you would a scorpion, as you would a basilisk, lest they smite you not only with their touch, but even with their eyes and breath. What is to shun?

Not so much as to eat with a person of this sort.

What is shun?

'If anyone,' says Saint John, 'come to you and bring not this doctrine...'.

What doctrine?

What but the Catholic and Universal doctrine, which has continued one and the same through the several successions of ages by the uncorrupt tradition of the truth and so will continue forever '... receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed, for he that biddeth him Godspeed communicates with him in his evil deeds'.

Profane novelties of words.

What words are these?

Such as have nothing sacred, nothing religious, words utterly remote from the inmost sanctuary of the Church which is the temple of God; profane novelties of words, that is, of doctrines, subjects, opinions, such as are contrary to antiquity and the faith of the olden time".

Monday, 22 September 2014

A Tale of Two Francis' and a St. Bernard (or Two Catholics and a Mongrel)

At the time of this tribulation a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death...... Those who preserve their fervour and adhere to virtue with love and zeal for the truth, will suffer injuries and persecutions as rebels and schismatics..... for in those days Our Lord Jesus Christ will send them not a true Pastor, but a destroyer.
     Prophecy of St. Francis on his deathbed, quoted in Works of The Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi, (R. Washbourne, London,1882), bearing the imprimatur of  +William Bernard, Bishop of Birmingham.

With this religious freedom has come also the possibility for every person to offer, according to their own religious convictions, a positive contribution; firstly, to the moral reconstruction.... No one must use the name of God to commit violence! To kill in the name of God is a grave sacrilege. To discriminate in the name of God is inhuman..... We cannot deny that intolerance towards those with different religious convictions is a particularly insidious enemy.
     Jorge Bergoglio, Albania, 21st September 2014.

You can not but know that we live in a period of chastisement and ruin; the enemy of mankind has caused the breath of corruption to fly over all regions; we behold nothing but unpunished wickedness. The laws of men or the laws of religion have no longer sufficient power to check depravity of manners and the triumph of the wicked. The demon of heresy has taken possession of the chair of truth, and God has sent forth His malediction upon His sanctuary.

Oh, ye who listen to me, hasten then to appease the anger of Heaven, but no longer implore His goodness by vain complaints; clothe not yourselves in sackcloth, but cover yourselves with your impenetrable bucklers; the din of arms, the dangers, the labours, the fatigues of war are the penances that God now imposes upon you. Hasten then to expiate your sins by victories over the infidels, and let the deliverance of holy places be the reward of your repentance.

If it were announced to you that the enemy had invaded your cities, your castles, your lands; had ravished your wives and your daughters, and profaned your temples - which among you would not fly to arms? Well, then, all these calamities, and calamities still greater, have fallen upon your brethren, upon the family of Jesus Christ, which is yours. Why do you hesitate to repair so many evils - to revenge so many outrages? Will you allow the infidels to contemplate in peace the ravages they have committed on Christian people? Remember that their triumph will be a subject for grief to all ages and an eternal opprobrium upon the generation that has endured it. Yes, the living God has charged me to announce to you that He will punish them who shall not have defended Him against His enemies.

Fly then to arms; let a holy rage animate you in the fight, and let the Christian world resound with these words of the prophet, "Cursed be he who does not stain his sword with blood!" If the Lord calls you to the defense of His heritage think not that His hand has lost its power. Could He not send twelve legions of angels or breathe one word and all His enemies would crumble away into dust? But God has considered the sons of men, to open for them the road to His mercy. His goodness has caused to dawn for you a day of safety by calling on you to avenge His glory and His name.
     St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Last of the Church Fathers and Doctor of the Church, quoted in Michaud's History of the Crusades (Routledge and Co., London, 1852).

*  A Mongrel:  of unknown or mixed religious pedigree.

Friday, 19 September 2014

San Gennaro (St. Januarius)

"Many centuries ago, St. Januarius died for the Faith in the persecution of Diocletian, and to this day God
confirms the Faith of His Church, and works a continual miracle, through the blood which Januarius shed for Him.

The saint was Bishop of Beneventum, and on one occasion he travelled to Misenum in order to visit a deacon named Sosius. During this visit Januarius saw the head of Sosius, who was singing the gospel in the church, girt with flames, and took this for a sign that ere long Sosius would wear the crown of martyrdom. So it proved.

Shortly after Sosius was arrested and thrown into prison. There St. Januarius visited and encouraged him, till the bishop also was arrested in turn.

Soon the number of confessors was swollen by some of the neighbouring clergy. They were exposed to the wild beasts in the amphitheatre. The beasts, however, did them no harm; and at last the Governor of Campania ordered the saints to be beheaded.

Little did the heathen governor think he was the instrument of God's hand of ushering in the long succession of miracles which attest the faith of Januarius.

The relics of St. Januarius rest in the cathedral of Naples, and it is there that the liquefaction of his blood occurs. The blood is congealed in two glass vials, but when it is brought near the martyr's head it melts and flows like the blood of a living man".

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Seven Dolors of Our Lady

The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady:
  • at the prophecy of Simeon;
  • at the flight into Egypt;
  • having lost the Holy Child at Jerusalem;
  • meeting Jesus on His way to Calvary;
  • standing at the foot of the Cross;
  • Jesus being taken from the Cross;
  • at the burial of Christ.

On 20th April, 1906, thirty-six boys attending the boarding school of the Jesuit Fathers at Quito, Ecuador, together with Father Andrew Roesch, witnessed the first miracle of this famous picture.

Whilst in the refectory they saw the Blessed Mother slowly open and shut her eyes. The same miracle occurred several times after this.

Subsequently the canonical process of examination was carried out by the ecclesiastical authorities, and the Vicar General ordered the picture to be transferred in procession from the college to the church of the Jesuit Fathers.

At the church the prodigy was repeated several times before the crowds gathered there, and many conversions took place. Again and again the wonder repeated itself, at one time for three consecutive days. At Riobamba the same wonder was witnessed before a reproduction of the picture. In Quito this picture is known as the Dolorosa del Colegio.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the miracle, His Holiness the Pope Pius XII decreed the Canonical Coronation of the miraculous image of Our Sorrowful Mother, declaring her Queen of the Catholic Education of Ecuador.

Queen of Catholic Education, pray for the children and the young who are being educated without Christ!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Moslems: Their Beliefs, Practices and Politics - Part 3

Based loosely on an article published by Catholic priest and scholar Don Curzio Nitoglia.

Part 1
Part 2

In the nineteenth century there prevailed at first in the Islamic world a certain fascination towards modernity. Egypt was the first Moslem country to send a team of forty scholars to France to study the sciences, technology and literature, and to apply them to the socio-economic benefit of the country, without, however, wanting technological progress at the expense of their traditions, culture and religion.

Therefore the social emancipation of the Moslem world was always viewed in light of a renewal and rebirth of Arab culture, and not in opposition to it. The study of European science and technology was intended to be in line with a return to the sources of Arab culture and used by the Arab nations to solve the political and social problems that they faced in the nineteenth century.

The late introduction of philosophical modernity – subjectivist, rationalist and relativist – in Arab countries, irreconcilable with their religious tradition, gave birth to a traumatic disturbance in the populations of the Near and Middle East. This was exasperated by Anglo-French colonialism which was not accepted by the Arab world, in part because it was more inclined to exploit economically than to evangelise and civilise.

Father Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916), a missionary in Algeria and Morocco, had explained tirelessly to the French authorities the grave danger of what was primarily a material and exploitative colonialism that neglected or rejected being the bearer of the Gospel and Christian civilisation; a colonialism that was, therefore, unable to conquer the minds and wills of the Arabs. It was not only necessary but opportune to bring the Gospels to the Arabs because they were still immune to the rationalism of the Enlightenment and still profoundly orientated towards the transcendent, despising atheism and agnosticism, and thereby being open to grace having a deep impact on their souls.

Unfortunately modern Europe, with the exception of the missionaries sent by the Church (who were not supported by the secular power of the State), instead of bringing the Gospels, the Fathers, Thomist metaphysics and the social doctrine of the Church, brought with it Agnosticism and Enlightenment culture along with the technological development and, therefore, the colonialism of Europe was, with good reason, despised and hated by the Arabs.

Faced with the sudden intrusion of European Enlightenment modernity into the nineteenth-century Arab world, many of the leaders of Arab society were blinded by self-preservation and lust for greater wealth and power, and began to act as parrots who aped Napoleonic Liberalism, without trying to understand its meaning, and without trying to distinguish what might be consistent with truth and what was not.

In turn, this led to an exaggerated fideistic reaction which was anti-metaphysical and gave birth to Wahhabism, Salafism, the Muslim Botherhood and the radical politicised movement of a fundamentalist Islam that came into conflict with traditional Sunni and Shia beliefs, and the social-orientated nationalism of Egyptian Nasserism and Syrian and Iraqi Baathism.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Arab intellectuals studied European thought in the light of the Arab renaissance and formed a national and Pan-Arab political vision and understanding of the world.

Pan-Arab social thought, which was mainly political without being irreligious, and somewhat comparable to Ghibellinism or to Italian Fascism and therefore fundamentally different from both Atheistic and Materialist Marxism on the one hand and religious integralism on the other, attempted to raise Arab culture to the high levels once obtained during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. This Pan-Arab current looked towards Islam as the cement for reunification and political and cultural renaissance of the Arab world, with the Arab national and political element holding primacy over the Islamic religious element.

This socially-inclined Arab nationalism was tolerant, not confrontational, with Christians who accepted the building of a national and Pan-Arabic State and its culture; for example in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. The national and Pan-Arabic State was also seen as a means of emancipation from Ottoman-Turkish despotism.

However, this current of thought was opposed by Salafist thinkers or ideologues who rejected all the developments of Islamic thought and culture over the centuries as innovations, and who want to return to an almost stone-age cultural barbarity. The conflict of the Muslim Brotherhood with Arab nationalism gave birth to Al-Qaeda and Jihadist revolution and the current on-going struggle against the Pan-Arab nationalist and secular Islamic regimes and populations of Iraq, Eqypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Syria.

So, since the nineteenth century, two types of Islam have collided: the first secular-nationalist/patriotically-inspired, religiously Islamic but not fundamentalist (Nasserism in Egypt, Baathism in Syria and Iraq), and the second which is fundamentalist and Jihadist which wants to fight against social Pan-Arab nationalism but which, at the same time, is trained and bankrolled by a US-Israeli-Gulf-Turkish alliance which they theoretically claim to oppose.

To be continued.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Beautiful Devotional Pictures to Help Teach the Faith

We're pleased to announce that Carmel Books has just broadened its range of devotional prints.

These beautifully illustrated full-colour pictures are ideal for use at home or in the classroom, and can serve as a great teaching aid for children as well as being a useful help to the rest of us in the practice of meditational prayer.

Supplies of some of these picture sets are very limited at the moment so its a case of first come first served.

Sets of pictures include The Holy Mass, The Stations of the Cross, The Apostles Creed, The Seven Sacraments, The Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost, The Ten Commandments, The Hail Mary, The Holy Rosary, and The Our Father.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

8th September - "The birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary announced joy and the near approach of salvation to the lost world. Mary was brought forth in the world not like other children of Adam, infected with the loathsome contagion of sin, but pure, holy, beautiful and glorious, adorned with all the most precious graces which became her who was chosen to be the Mother of God.

She appeared indeed in the weak state of our mortality; but in the eyes of Heaven she already transcended the highest seraph in purity, brightness, and the richest ornaments of grace.

If we celebrate the birthdays of the great ones of this earth, how ought we to rejoice in that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, presenting to God the best homage of our praises and thanksgiving for the great mercies He has shown in her, and imploring her mediation with her Son on our behalf.

Christ will not reject the supplications of His mother, whom He was pleased to obey whilst on earth. Her love, care and tenderness for Him, the title and qualities which she bears, the charity and graces with which she is adorned, and the crown of glory with which she is honoured, must incline Him readily to receive her recommendations and petitions".

"I am the Immaculate Conception"
    - Our Lady to St. Bernadette

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Irish Mum of Six Gaoled for Educating Children at Home

A Carlow mother of six, who also fostered twenty-two other children over the past twelve years, was imprisoned on 3rd September for not paying a fine relating to her constitutionally protected right to educate her children at home.

Monica O’Connor from Tullow has five sons and a daughter, ranging from six to twenty-seven years of age. Although her persecutors seemed to decide that the potential backlash they could face was more trouble than it was worth in this instance, and released her the same day from a potential ten-day imprisonment for 'good behaviour', her husband, Eddie O’Neill, is also threatened with serving a prison sentence.

Article 42 of Bunreacht na hEireann, the Irish Constitution, acknowledges that parents are their children’s primary educators. Section 2 says “parents shall be free to provide this education in their homes...”

The former National Education Welfare Board (NEWB), whose functions were assumed in January by the Child and Family Agency of Tusla, summoned the couple to Carlow District Court, where they were fined €2,000 in June 2013 for “failing to cause” two of their children to attend school.

NEWB insist that home schooling families must apply to have their educational provision assessed for each child, in order to avail of their right to home educate. The couple maintain that this relatively recent 'insistence' is akin to asking for permission that could be refused, so therefore contradicts and destroys the constitutional right.

Cardinal Merry del Val on the Character of Pope Pius X

by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val,
Secretary of State under Pope Pius X

THE lovable character of Pius X and the kindness of his heart are attested by all who ever came in contact with him, and there is only one voice to praise what is generally spoken of as his 'goodness'. Nor is this indeed to be wondered at. So striking a feature of his individuality could not fail to impress the minds of the thousands who approached him during the eleven years of his pontificate, not to mention all those who had experienced the unfailing charity and sweet devotedness of the humble village curate in Tombolo, of the parish priest in Salzano, or who had known him intimately when he laboured in their midst as Chancellor of Treviso, Bishop of Mantua and Cardinal Patriarch of Venice.

Add to this his fatherly interest in every case of trouble or of suffering that happened to come before him, the generous help of his advice and counsel even in matters that might well seem trifling except to those concerned, the material assistance and liberal subsidies that he lavished both in public and in private, with such extreme delicacy of regard for the feelings of those he benefited, and it will be readily understood why the 'goodness' of Pius X will never be forgotten and why so many are content to speak only of this conspicuous lineament of his personality, which so truly reflected the love of the Divine Master.

But to imagine that this attractive characteristic in Pius X describes the man or in any way sums up his gifts and powers would be an total misapprehension; nothing could be further from the truth. Coupled with that 'goodness' and happily blended with the tenderness of a father’s heart, there was in him an indomitable strength of character and an energy of will to which all must testify who really knew him.

He held himself in complete control and controlled the impulses of his ardent temperament. He was quick to give way in matters which were not essential and ever ready to consider and accept the opinion of others where no principle was at stake; but weakness in him there was none.

When one or other grave question arose in which the rights and liberty of the Church required to be stated and upheld, when the purity and integrity of Catholic truth stood in need of assertion and defence, or ecclesiastical discipline had to be maintained in the face of laxity or worldly influence, then Pius X would reveal the full strength and energy of his character and the fearless vigour of a great ruler conscious of the responsibility of his sacred office and of the duties he felt called upon to fulfil at any cost. It was idle then for anybody to try to shake his constancy; every effort to intimidate him by threats or to flatter him by specious pleas and appeals to mere sentiment was inevitably destined to failure.

Monsignor Baudrillart, of the French Academy and Rector of the Catholic Institute in Paris, writes as follows in an article in the Revue Pratique d’Apologétique (15 Août-1Septembre, 1914) which is well worth reading some passages:

“His look, his word, his whole being express three things: goodness, firmness, faith.Goodness was the man himself; firmness was the leader; faith was the Christian, the priest, the pontiff, the man of God. 'Tu autem, O homo Dei'. This exclamation of the apostle rushed to one’s lips from the heart, when one was admitted to this Pope’s presence. How far away one was from human maneuvers and political devices! How sure one was that one would hear nothing but the word of God from his mouth! How impossible one knew it would be to resort to the slightest equivocation or diplomatic ingenuity in his presence! One told him things just as they were, quite simply, and waited for his reply, with the firm, resolve to do whatever he should say, to the best of one’s power.

“There were times when that answer seemed somewhat hard! With what energy would the Pope order us to root out the weeds from that part of the Church which he had entrusted to our care! We looked at him; we read in his sad gentle eyes, light in their depths but veiled with a shadow, words such as these: ‘I, too, suffer, I suffer more than you do, for I have to act in every direction to repress and to strike, I the father, the father of all; but that is the duty of my office, the duty I cannot escape; the Church’s peril urges me on, peril from without, and yet worse peril from within; have I any right to consider whether I suffer?’ . . .

“Pius X was the most supernatural of men; that Deus providebit (God will provide) which was forever on his lips is the very expression of his whole religious and moral being. And that is why, once he was certain that his duty was to act in this or that way, he paid no further heed to the consequences, confident that God would draw a greater and lasting good from a lesser and passing evil.

“He had the clear vision of the upright; and a clear vision that no falsehood or sophistry or hypocrisy could manage to deceive... Quietly with unshaken calm he denounced and condemned evil wherever he saw it; no consideration could make him bend., Pius X showed himself a ruler. His name will remain forever linked with the reorganizing of the Roman Courts and Congregations, and the codifying of Canon Law, a colossal work soon completed, which will bring simplicity, light, strength, and unity into the government of the Church.

“No Pope was ever more a reformer, no more modern, than this fearless adversary of Modernist errors. Faithful to his watchword, he undertook to restore and renew everything in Jesus Christ.

“Governments may have feared or set themselves against him. He was loved, tenderly loved by the people, by all the good and simple faithful, because he was a saint, because he was a father.”

Not less striking or emphatic in this respect are the words of His Eminence Cardinal Mercier in his Lenten Pastoral of February 2, 1915. I may be allowed to quote the following extract:

“The winning kindness of the Holy Father had none of the soft sentimentality of the weak. Pius X was strong. It is currently reported that he was the writer of a short prayer which priests have to say at certain times for their bishop. It runs as follows:

“Stet et pascat in fortitudine tua, Domine, in sublimit ate nominis tui (Strong in Thy strength, O Lord, let him stand and feed the flock in the sublimity of Thy name).

“And this, unless I am mistaken, is the charac­teristic note of the late Pope - a wonderful combina­tion of fatherly tenderness with a force of character that made him master of himself and imparted to his soul steadiness of equilibrium, filling his expression with that blending of gravity, serenity, condescension, and almost of playfulness, which so strongly attracted everyone by its charm.

“The public looked on with wonder, sometimes with anxiety, and admired the virile Pontiff in his hand-to-hand struggle with Modernism.

“In the days of Luther and Calvin, had the Church possessed a Pope of the temper of Pius X, would Protestantism have succeeded in getting one-third of Europe to break loose from Rome?

“Pius was a man of keen insight and decision. He would not let himself be seduced by the cajoleries of reformers, naively ambitious of infusing the veins of the Church with new blood, and dreaming of modernizing her to suit the fancies and errors of up-to-date Protestantism and Rationalism. True to Catholic Tradition, he blazoned forth the axiom that in the fifth century, St. Vincent of Lerins, himself the disciple of a martyr-bishop of the third century, St. Cyprian, used against those who favoured a doctrinal advance which the Christian conscience would have felt to be not an improvement but a revolution, wherein all the treasures of the past would have disappeared: Nihil innovetur nisi quod traditum est (No innovations: cleave to tradition).

“His plan once laid down, the Pope pursued it, both as a whole and in detail, in the sphere of doctrine and also of discipline, in scientific works, in the Press, in literature, in the teaching of Seminaries and of Universities and even in the persons of those whom he loved most; he pursued its fullest realization, I say, with an energy and perseverance that were sometimes disconcerting.

“When we survey from afar this line of action, many-sided yet one, broad. and yet penetrating, we are unanimous in our admiration of our great Pope’s force of character, and in thanking Providence for saving Christianity from an immense peril, not only of a single heresy but of all heresies com­bined, amalgamated together in a more or less treacherous way.”
(Leltre Pastorale et mandement de Carême de 1915)

We have evidence of this spirit and strength in weighty Encyclicals and in various enactments issued by Pius X during the whole course of his pontificate, in his public allocutions, in his frequent addresses and exhortations of all kinds, and also in his private correspondence.

It is well to state here that the Holy Father very often wrote out the minutes of important documents or furnished copious notes and material for their compilation. Several of these neatly penned auto­graphs, as well as many private or unpublished letters of his, are in my possession and I am able to quote from his own manuscripts.

Though the same energy and strength of character were not absent by any means from his dealings with individual cases in which he could not avoid adminis­tering reproof or punishment without failing in the accomplishment of a solemn duty, the severity of Pius X on such occasions was ever coupled with the tenderness of his fatherly affection, and, when obliged to cause distress to those at fault, he felt for the guilty and their pain was his.

As an instance, among several others, I can well remember how one morning the Holy Father con­fided to me that he was about to receive in audience a person who had very grievously erred and had betrayed his sacred duty. It was a sad story. The Pope’s direct intervention had become inevitable, for the delinquent had thrown off all restraint and seemed little inclined to repent or accept correction. I found His Holiness looking very sad and tired. He acknowledged to me that he had spent a restless night thinking over the approaching interview and the necessity of his speaking with the utmost severity. He was however determined to carry the matter through, he said, but it would cost him a great deal, for he realized what a blow it would undoubtedly be for the unfortunate culprit. ‘Say a Hail Mary for me, Eminence,’ he added, ‘in order that God may bless this audience and that the poor fellow may not rebel and force me to go further.’

A few hours later the Holy Father was beaming with joy. ‘Do you know, all went well,’ he exclaimed, with a smile. ‘The unhappy man ended by acknowledging the truth of all I said. I did not spare him, but, thank God, he has submitted and now we must do what we can to help him on.'

When he thus inflicted correction, the severity of his countenance and the solemn resonance of his voice were most impressive and generally produced an overwhelming impression upon the person who had incurred his displeasure, but his was the anger of the lamb, the anger that sinneth not.

Sickness, fatigue or pain endured by others, especially by persons whom he knew more intimately or whose services he employed, even in menial offices, infallibly aroused his deepest sympathy, nor did he seem to rest until assured that they had found relief. ‘Do not worry over the...’ he would write, ‘you have made good provision for that, and worry still less over me, for, enjoying sufficient health, as I do, I always live contented and happy in the well­being of those who are dear to me; whereas the fear alone that they should suffer causes me anguish. Therefore be of good heart.’ Or again: ‘You must not be anxious on account of the fears expressed by the Rev. N. N. The choice was made after full consideration and let us trust that the Lord will bless his apostolate. In any event, however, the respon­sibility is not solely yours, but mine also and we shall share it in peace. Therefore be of good heart.’

And yet, though nothing could surpass the sensibility of his affectionate temperament, in Pius X there was no trace of weak sentimentality or of unreasonable emotion. As Cardinal Mercier rightly says, Pius X had a strong character. If others lost control over their feelings and gave way in his presence to an excessive display of mere sentiment, ‘Esto vir . be a man,’ was the reply which rose constantly to his lips and which he accompanied with a firm and energetic gesture. Indeed it is my opinion that the sheer sense of humour, which he certainly possessed, would alone have sufficed to prevent him from allowing his emotions to gain the mastery beyond the limits of reason.

I may illustrate this remark by an anecdote. In 1912 the restored Campanile of Saint Mark’s, Venice, was to be solemnly inaugurated. The Holy Father had naturally taken the keenest interest in the recon­struction of this historic monument, so dear to the heart of every Venetian. He had himself laid the first stone of the new building and, no doubt, many cherished memories lingered in his mind in connec­tion with the old Campanile. He had carefully followed the progress of the work through all its stages and he had made a gift of one of the new bells.

Shortly before the joyful celebration that was to commemorate the completion of the great enterprise, a report went about in the Press that the Italian Government intended setting up a direct telephone wire between Venice and the Vatican, in order to enable His Holiness to hear the chime of Saint Mark’s. Then followed the announcement that the Pope’s medical advisers had intervened and put an end to the proposal on the grounds, it was asserted, that the Holy Father would experience too intense emotion and that this might prove detrimental to his health. He was very much amused by all this gossip.

As a matter of fact the idea of asking the Italian Government to provide a direct telephone line from Venice to the Vatican had been suggested by some eager friends of the former Patriarch, but Pius X set the proposal aside, so he told me himself, nor had the doctors held it their duty to interfere, nor had any fear been expressed regarding the impression likely to be produced upon His Holiness’ feelings.

He laughed heartily over the whole story and com­menting upon it, with a merry twinkle in his eye, he said: ‘Do they take me for a young lady? I did not consent to the suggestion made by those good folk, among other reasons, to tell the truth, because in all probability I should have been the last person to hear anything distinctly. You may be sure that the line would have been tapped and I should have heard little or nothing. Moreover, I have to listen to bells enough in Rome, and indeed too many.’

When making this remark, the Holy Father was alluding perhaps to the endless tolling of the bells of St. Peter’s, in close proximity to his own rooms and which on certain occasions proved somewhat trying. But those familiar with the Italian expression sentire troppe campane will realize that he was referring chiefly to the inevitable conflict of opinions, appeals and complaints with which he had constantly to deal.

He had a cheerful, loving heart, a strong and manly will, and it was this disposition, supported by his confidence in God, which helped him to bear so bravely the weight and worry of his arduous office.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Poetry in Motion

Having recently come across the poem 'A Promise to Oneself', by Igor Strelkov, and pinning a copy to the Carmel Books office wall for inspiration, brought to mind that we do stock a small range - it should be a larger selection - of Catholic orientated prose both for children and adults.

Our small stock, which we hope to expand, includes Cardinal Newman's Collected Poems and The Dream of Gerontius, as well as Old Testament Rhymes and An Alphabet of Saints by Fr. Robert Hugh Benson for the smaller folk.

A Promise To Oneself

Don’t wait for orders! Don’t delay
With reference to rest!
Forge forth! Through wind and piercing rain
And blizzard’s howling wail!

Abandon comfort’s cozy quilt —
You’re young, the way is yours!
You’ll have the time to rest your soul
When they lament your death!

Be brave, be fair, don’t heed the tongues
That ridicule and sneer.
And as a leader, take the brunt
Of duty on yourself!

If you have never been at fault,
Your life’s a wasted bloom —
You’ve shied away from picking up
The burdens of this world!

Whatever brings your lot to you —
Success or failure’s wrath,
Remember this – your measure’s worth
Will only judge our Lord!

Igor Ivanovich Strelkov, 1991
(Translated from Russian)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

St. Pius X, Pope

"Born Joseph Melchior Sarto on 2nd June, 1835, this remarkable man described himself in his will, 'I was born poor, i lived in poverty, I wish to die poor'.

His place of birth was the little village of Riese in Upper Italy. His parents had nine other children, two of whom died as infants. When the father, a cobbler, died, the mother supported herself and the children by the work of sewing and the products of a small farm.

Joseph Sarto after attending high school went on to the seminary at Padua and was ordained on 18th September, 1858. He was successfully village curate in Tombolo where he instituted a night school for adults, a parish priest in Salzano, chancellor of the Diocese of Treviso, then Bishop of Mantua and finally Cardinal Patriarch of Venice in 1893.

After ten years, he was elected pope to succeed Leo XIII. As pope, he laboured for the renovation of the Christian spirit in keeping with his motto 'To restore all things in Christ'.

Amongst the outstanding works of his pontificate was the permission for children to approach the Eucharist at a tender age, and the general encouragement given to all with the proper dispositions to go to daily Communion. From his tender years, throughout his papacy and unto his dying hour, his life of deep inner prayer reflected in his countenance and won the reverence and affection of all.

His life as pope lasted until 1914 when at the outbreak of the World War which he had foreseen, he went peacefully to his reward. At once, he was revered by priests and people alike as a saint. Finally, the almost universal acclaim of his holiness brought his beatification through the usual process in 1951, and he was canonised by Pope Pius XII on 29th May, 1954".

St. Pius X Centenary Conferences

Carmel Books was pleased to be able to supply copies of St. Pius X's encyclicals last weekend on subjects ranging from Modernist errors to The Immaculate Conception to Restoring All Things in Christ, as well as Fr. Lemius' classic Catechism of Modernism, to conference attendees at a series of talks and lectures marking the centenary of the death of the great and holy pope.

If you would like Carmel Books to supply a relevant selection of books for forthcoming meetings, conferences or lectures, then please get in touch.

Monday, 1 September 2014

St. Giles (one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers)

St. Giles, whose name has been held in great veneration for several ages in France and England, is said to have been an Athenian by birth, and of noble extraction.

His extraordinary piety and learning drew the admiration of the world upon him in such a manner that it was impossible for him to enjoy in his own country that obscurity and retirement which was the chief object of his desires on Earth.

He therefore sailed to France, and chose a hermitage first in the open deserts near the mouth of the Rhone, afterward near the river Gard, and lastly in a forest in the diocese of Nismes. He passed many years in this close solitude, living on wild herbs or roots and water, and conversing only with God. We read in his life that he was for sometime nourished with the milk of a hind in the forest, which, being pursued by hunters, fled for refuge to the saint, who was thus discovered.

The reputation of the sanctity of this holy hermit was much increased by many miracles which he wrought, and which rendered his name famous throughout all France.

St. Giles was highly esteemed by the French king, but could not be prevailed upon to forsake his solitude. He, however, admitted several disciples, and settled excellent discipline in the monastery of which he was the founder, and which, in succeeding ages, became a flourishing abbey of the Benedictine Order.