September 19, 2020: OUR LADY OF LA SALETTE
[The 174th Anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady at La Salette, France]
“Come, my children, fear not, I am here to proclaim Great News to you.”
O God, who dost not cease to show us how much our devotion to the most holy Virgin Mary is pleasing to Thee, by the multiplied miracles which Thou dost work at her intercession: grant unto us the grace to be ever faithful to the lessons which she gives us, so that, having kept Thy commandments in this life, we may have the happiness of possessing Thee to all eternity in the life to come. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Click here, to refer to an entire section on this website, reserved for Our Lady of La Salette, in honour of her tears shed.
O Lady blest of La Salette –
Take pity on our hapless state,
And hearken to our cry!
Thine own sweet voice in plaintive wail,
As we walk through this tearful vale,
Is heard reproachfully.
In France, we’re taught, thou didst appear,
And through two children biding near,
A warning didst convey –
The arm of thine offended Son
Thou couldst not hold, and heaven’s frown
Thou couldst no longer stay.
The wrath of Jesus Christ would fall,
So didst thou say, on us and all,
For our inequity:
Thy warning is, that we repent,
Or else a fatal punishment
Will scourge us heavily.
stay, O Virgin Mother, stay
The doom impending, whist we pray
To thy most clement Son:
And as on earth our vows we make,
Present them thou, for Jesus’ sake,
To God’s eternal throne.
One only God we’ll ever serve,
And from His truth we’ll never swerve,
The one unchanging faith:
Our holy Church we know to be
The sole and only Church, where we
Can rest in life and death.
Oh, may we never take again,
The holy Name of God in vain,
Or His good Spirit grieve!
All cursing, swearing, blasphemy
Be far from us: and holily
May we for ever live!
The Sunday and all holidays,
We promise we will spend in praise
Of our much injured God.
Our joy shall be our Mass to hear,
And to the Sacraments draw near,
Those wells of Christ’s own blood.
And when our priests the doctrines preach,
Which God hath given them power to teach,
We ne’er will absent be:
The days of abstinence and fast,
We’ll strive to keep from first to last,
And holy Church obey.
O Virgin Queen, in
Thy children whilst we humbly dare
These pious vows to make –
What God and Holy Church command,
On bended knee, with outstretched hand,
We promise ne’er to break.
O Lady blest of La Salette,
Thy strength can hardly bear the weight
Of Christ’s uplifted arm:
Still tarry, Mother, yet awhile –
Our hearts to Jesus reconcile,
And shield us from the storm.
Taken from: Manual of the Confraternity of La Salette, by Rev. John Wyse (Catholic Priest),
Nihil Obstat, Bishop of Birmingham, June 9th, 1855.
Our Lady of La Salette, Reconciler of sinners,
pray without ceasing for us who have recourse to thee.
September 19, 2020: ST. JANUARIUS, BISHOP AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS
O holy martyrs, and thou especially, O Januarius, the leader no less by thy courage than by thy pontifical dignity, your present glory increases our longing for heaven; your past combats animate us to fight the good fight; your continual miracles confirm us in the faith. Praise and gratitude are therefore due to you on this day of your triumph.
O God, who by the yearly solemnity of thy holy Martyrs Januarius and Companions, comfortest us thy people; mercifully grant, that, as we rejoice at their merits, we may likewise be encouraged by their example. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
Januarius is ever preaching the Gospel to every creature; for his miraculous blood perpetuates the testimony he bore to Christ. Let those who say they cannot believe unless they see, go to Naples; there they will behold the martyr’s blood, when placed near his head which was cut off seventeen hundred years ago, to liquefy and boil as at the moment it escaped from his sacred veins. No; miracles are not lacking in the Church at the present day. True, God cannot subject Himself to the fanciful requirements of those proud men, who would dictate to Him the conditions of the prodigies they must needs witness ere they will bow before His infinite Majesty. Nevertheless, His intervention in interrupting the laws of nature framed by Him and by Him alone to be suspended, has never yet failed the man of good faith in any period of history. At present there is less dearth than ever of such manifestations.
The following is the legend concerning St. Januarius and the sharers in his glorious martyrdom.
During the persecution of the Christians under Diocletian and Maximian, Januarius, bishop of Beneventum, was brought before Timothy, president of Campania, at Nola, for the profession of the Christian faith. There his constancy was tried in various ways. He was cast into a burning furnace, but escaped unhurt, not even his garments or a hair of his head being injured by the flames. This enraged the president, who commanded the martyr's body to be so stretched that all his joints and nerves were displaced. Meanwhile Festus his deacon, and Desiderius a lector, were seized, loaded with chains, and dragged, together with the bishop, before the president’s chariot to Pozzuolo. There they were cast into a dungeon, where they found the deacons Sosius of Misenum and Proculus of Pozzuolo, with Eutyches and Acutius laymen all condemned to be thrown to wild beasts.
The following day they were all exposed in the amphi-theatre; but the beasts, forgetting their natural ferocity, crouched at the feet of Januarius. Timothy, attributing this to magical arts, condemned the martyrs of Christ to be beheaded; but as he was pronouncing the sentence, he was suddenly struck blind. However, at the prayer of Januarius he soon recovered his sight; on account of which miracle, about five thousand men embraced the faith. The ungrateful judge was in no way softened by the benefit conferred upon him, on the contrary, he was enraged by so many conversions; and, fearing the emperor’s edicts, he ordered the holy bishop and his companions to be beheaded.
Eager to secure, each for itself, a patron before God among these holy martyrs, the neighbouring towns provided burial places for their bodies. In obedience to a warning from heaven, the Neapolitans took the body of St. Januarius, and placed it first at Beneventum, then in the monastery of Monte Vergine, and finally in the principal church at Naples, where it became illustrious for many miracles. One of the most remarkable of these was the extinction of a fiery eruption of Mount Vesuvius, when the terrible flames threatened with destruction not only the neighbourhood but even distant parts. Another remarkable miracle is seen even to the present day, namely: when the martyr’s blood, which is preserved congealed in a glass vial, is brought in presence of his head, it liquefies and boils up in a wonderful manner, as if it had been but recently shed.
Another account of St. Januarius and Companions.
St. Januarius, a native some say of Naples, others of Benevento, was bishop of this latter city, when the persecution of Dioclesian broke out. Sosius, deacon of Miseno, Proculus, deacon of Puzzuoli, and Eutyches, or Eutychetes, and Acutius, eminent laymen, were imprisoned at Puzzuoli for the faith, by an order of Dracontius, governor of Campania, before whom they had confessed their faith. Sosius, by his singular wisdom and sanctity, had been worthy of the intimate friendship of St. Januarius, who reposed in him an entire confidence, and for many years had found no more solid comfort among men than in his holy counsels and conversation. Upon the news that this great servant of God and several others were fallen into the hands of the persecutors, the good bishop determined to make them a visit, in order to comfort and encourage them, and provide them with every spiritual succour to arm them for their great conflict: in this act of charity no fear of torments or danger of his life could terrify him; and martyrdom was his recompense. He did not escape the notice of the inquisitive keepers, who gave information that an eminent person from Benevento had visited the Christian prisoners. Timothy, who had just succeeded Dracontius in the government of that district of Italy, gave orders that Januarius, whom he found to be the person, should be apprehended and brought before him at Nola, the usual place of his residence; which was done accordingly. Festus, the bishop's deacon, and Desiderius, a lector of his church, were taken up as they were making him a visit. They had a share in the interrogatories and torments which the good bishop underwent at Nola. Some time after the governor went to Puzzuoli, and these three confessors, loaded with heavy irons, were made to walk before his chariot to the town, where they were thrown into the same prison where the four martyrs already mentioned were detained; they had been condemned, by an order from the emperor, to be torn in pieces by wild beasts, and were then lying in expectation of the execution of their sentence. The day after the arrival of St. Januarius, and his two companions, all these champions of Christ were exposed to be devoured by the beasts in the amphitheatre; but none of the savage animals could be provoked to touch them. The people were amazed, but imputed their preservation to art-magic: and the martyrs were condemned to be beheaded. This sentence was executed near Puzzuoli, as Bede testifies, and the martyrs were decently interred near that town. Some time after the Christian faith was become triumphant, towards the year 400, their precious relics were removed.
The city of Naples was so happy as to get possession of the relics of St. Januarius. During the wars of the Normans they were removed, first to Benevento, and, some time after, to the abbey of Monte-Vergine; but, in 1497, they were brought back to Naples, which city has long honoured him as principal patron. Among many miraculous deliverances which it ascribes to the intercession of this great saint, none is looked upon as more remarkable than its preservation from the fiery eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, now called La Somma, which is only eight miles distant, and which has often threatened the entire destruction of this city, both by the prodigious quantities of burning sand, ashes, and stones, which it throws up on those occasions to a much greater distance than Naples; and, by a torrent of burning sulphur, nitre, calcined stones, and other materials, which like a liquid fire has sometimes gushed from that volcano, and, digging itself a channel (which has sometimes been two or three miles broad), rolled its flaming waves through the valley into the sea, destroying towns and villages in its way, and often passing near Naples. Some of these eruptions, which in the fifth and seventh centuries threatened this city with destruction, by the clouds of ashes which they raised, are said to have darkened the sky as far as Constantinople, and struck terror into the inhabitants of that capital. The intercession of St. Januarius was implored at Naples on those occasions, and the divine mercy so wonderfully interposed in causing these dreadful evils suddenly to cease thereupon, especially in 685, Bennet II being pope, and Justinian the Younger emperor, that the Greeks instituted a feast in honour of St. Januarius, with two yearly solemn processions to return thanks to God. The protection of the city of Naples from this dreadful volcano by the same means was most remarkable in the years 1631 and 1707.
The Standing Miracle.
The standing miracle, as it is called by Baronius, of the blood of St. Januarius liquefying and boiling up at the approach of the martyr's head, is likewise very famous. In a rich chapel, called the Treasury, in the great church at Naples, are preserved the blood, in two very old glass vials, and the head of St. Januarius. The blood is congealed, and of a dark colour; but, when brought in sight of the head, though at a considerable distance, it melts, bubbles up, and, upon the least motion, flows on any side. It happens equally in all seasons of the year, and in variety of circumstances. The usual times when it is performed are the feast of St. Januarius, the 19th of September; that of the translation of his relics (when they were brought from Puzzuoli to Naples), the Sunday which falls next to the calends of May; and the 20th day of December, on which, in 1631, a terrible eruption of Mount Vesuvius was extinguished, upon invoking the patronage of this martyr. The same is done on extraordinary occasions at the discretion of the archbishop. This miraculous solution and ebullition of the blood of St. Januarius is mentioned by Pope Pius II when he speaks of the reign of Alphonsus I of Arragon, King of Naples, in 1450: Angelus Cato, an eminent physician of Salerno, and others mention it in the same century. Almost two hundred years before that epoch, historians take notice that King Charles I of Anjou, coming to Naples, the archbishop brought out the head and blood of this martyr. The continuator of the chronicle of Maraldus says the same was done upon the arrival of King Roger, who venerated these relics, in 1140. Falco of Benevento relates the same thing. From several circumstances this miracle is traced much higher, and it is said to have regularly happened on the annual feast of St. Januarius, and on that of the translation of his relics, from the time of that translation, about the year 400.
Miracles recorded in holy scripture are revealed facts, and an object of faith. Other miracles are not considered in the same light; neither does our faith rest upon them as upon the former, though they illustrate and confirm it; nor do they demand or admit any higher assent than that which prudence requires, and that which is due to the evidence or human authority upon which they depend. When such miracles are propounded, they are not to be rashly admitted; the evidence of the fact and circumstances ought to be examined to the bottom, and duly weighed; where that fails it is the part of prudence to suspend or refuse our assent. Also if it appears doubtful whether an effect be natural or proceed from a supernatural interposition, our assent ought to lean according to the greater weight of probability, and God, who is author of all events, natural and supernatural, is always to be glorified. If human evidence set the certainty of a miracle above the reach of any doubt, it must more powerfully excite us to raise our minds to God in sentiments of humble adoration, love, and praise.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost, Vol. V, Edition 1910;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. II; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
St. Januarius and Companions, pray for us.
September 18, 2020: ST. JOSEPH OF CUPERTINO, CONFESSOR
[The Flying Friar]
“The eye of the Lord looked kindly on him; he lifted him up from his low state, and raised up his head.”
O God, who wast pleased to draw all things to thy only begotten son, when raised on high; mercifully grant that, by the merits and example of thy seraphic Confessor, Joseph, being raised above all earthly desires, we may arrive at him. Who, livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.
While, in France, the rising spirit of Jansenism was driving God from the hearts of the people, a humble son of St. Francis, in southern Italy, was showing how easily love may span the distance between earth and heaven. ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to Myself,’ (St. John, xii. 32) said our Lord; and time has proved it to be the most universal of His prophecies. On the feast of the holy cross, we witnessed its truth, even in the domain of social and political claims. We shall experience it in our very bodies on the great day, when we shall be taken up in the clouds to meet Christ, into the air. (I Thess, iv. 16) But Joseph of Cupertino had experience of it without waiting for the resurrection: innumerable witnesses have borne testimony to his life of continual ecstasies, wherein he was frequently seen raised high in the air. And these facts took place in what men are pleased to call the noonday of history.
Let us read the account of him given by holy Church.
Joseph was born of pious parents at Cupertino, a town of the Salentines in the diocese of Nardo, in the year of salvation one thousand six hundred and three. Prevented with the love of God, he spent his boyhood and youth in the greatest simplicity and innocence. The Virgin Mother of God delivered him from a long and painful malady, which he had borne with the greatest patience; whereupon he devoted himself entirely to works of piety and the practice of virtue. But God called him to something higher; and in order to attain to closer union with him, Joseph determined to enter the Seraphic Order. After several trials he obtained his desire, and was admitted among the Minor Conventuals in the convent called Grotella, first as a lay-brother, on account of his lack of learning; but afterwards, God so disposing, he was raised to the rank of a cleric. After making his solemn vows he was ordained priest, and began a new life of greater perfection. Utterly renouncing all earthly affections and everything of this world almost to the very necessaries of life, he afflicted his body with hairshirts, chains, disciplines, and every kind of austerity and penance; while he assiduously nourished his spirit with the sweetness of holy prayer, and the highest contemplation. By this means, the love of God, which had been poured out in his heart from his childhood, daily increased in a most wonderful manner.
His burning charity shone forth most remarkably in the sweet ecstasies which raised his soul to God, and the wonderful ruptures he frequently experienced. Yet, marvellous to tell, however rapt he was in God, obedience would immediately recall him to the use of his senses. He was exceedingly zealous in the practice of obedience; and used to say that he was led by it like a blind man, and that he would rather die than disobey. He emulated the poverty of the seraphic patriarch to such a degree, that on his deathbed he could truthfully tell his superior he had nothing which, according to custom, he could relinquish. Thus dead to the world and to himself Joseph showed forth in his flesh the life of Jesus. While in others he perceived the vice of impurity by an evil odour, his own body exhaled a most sweet fragrance, a sign of the spotless purity which he preserved unsullied in spite of long and violent temptations from the devil. This victory he gained by strict custody of his senses, by continual mortification of the body, and especially by the protection of the most pure Virgin Mary, whom he called his Mother, and whom he venerated with tenderest affection as the sweetest of mothers, desiring to see her venerated by others, that they might, said he, together with her patronage gain all good things.
Blessed Joseph’s solicitude in this respect sprang from his love for his neighbour, for he was consumed with zeal for souls, urging him to seek the salvation of all. His love embraced the poor, the sick, and all in affliction, whom he comforted as far as lay in his power, not excluding those who pursued him with reproaches and insults, and every kind of injury. He bore all this with the same patience, sweetness, and cheerfulness of countenance as were remarked in him when he was obliged frequently to change his residence, by the command of the superiors of his Order, or of the holy Inquisition. People and princes admired his wonderful holiness and heavenly gifts; yet, such was his humility, that, thinking himself a great sinner, he earnestly besought God to remove from him his admirable gifts: while he begged men to cast his body after death in a place where his memory might utterly perish. But God, who exalts the humble, and who had richly adorned his servant during life with heavenly wisdom, prophecy, the reading of hearts, the grace of healing, and other gifts, also rendered his death precious and his sepulchre glorious. Joseph died at the place and time he had foretold, namely, at Osimo in Picenum, in the sixty-first year of his age. He was famous for miracles after his death; and was enrolled among the blessed by Benedict XIV and among the saints by Clement XIII. Clement XIV, who was of the same Order, extended his Office and Mass to the universal Church.
Another account of St. Joseph of Cupertino
Joseph Desa was born the 17th of June, 1603, at Cupertino, a small village of the diocess of Nardo, between Brindsi and Otranto, six miles from the coast of the gulf of Tarento. His parents were poor, but virtuous. His mother brought him up in great sentiments of piety; but treated him with great severity, punishing him frequently for the least fault, to inure him to an austere and penitential life. He was very attentive to the divine service, and in an age when the love of pleasure is generally predominant, he wore a hair shirt, and mortified his body by divers austerities. He was bound apprentice to a shoemaker, which trade he applied himself to for some time.
When he was seventeen years of age he presented himself to be received amongst the Conventual Franciscans, where he had two uncles of distinction in the Order. He was nevertheless refused because he had not made his studies. All he could obtain was to be received amongst the Capuchins in quality of lay-brother; but after eight months he was dismissed as unequal to the duties of the Order. Far from being discouraged he persisted in his resolution of embracing a religious state. At length the Franciscans, moved with compassion, received him into their convent of Grotella, thus called from a subterraneous chapel dedicated to God under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin. This convent was situated near Cupertino. The saint having finished his novitiate with great fervour, he made his vows, and was received as lay-brother amongst the Oblates of the Third Order.
Joseph begged to go through a second novitiate, after which he separated himself more than ever from the company of men, to unite himself more closely to God by prayer and contemplation. He looked upon himself as a great sinner, and imagined it was through mere charity that the religious habit was given him. His patience made him bear in silence and with joy the severest rebukes for faults which he had not committed: and his obedience was such that he executed without delay the most difficult duties enjoined him. So many virtues rendered him the object of universal admiration. Being ordained priest in 1628, he celebrated his first mass with inexpressible sentiments of faith, of love, and respect.
After having received the priesthood he passed five years without tasting bread or wine; during which time he lived only on herbs and dry fruits; and even the herbs that he ate on Fridays were so distasteful that only himself could use them. His fast in Lent was so rigorous that for seven years he took no nourishment but on Thursdays and Sundays, except the holy Eucharist which he received every day. His countenance in the morning was extremely pale, but after the communion it became florid and lively. He had contracted such an habit of fasting, that his stomach could no longer bear any food. His desire of mortification made him invent different instruments of penance. During two years he suffered many interior trials which tormented him exceedingly; but to this storm a profound calm succeeded.
A report being spread that he had frequent raptures, and that many miracles were wrought by him, the people followed him in crowds as he was travelling through the province of Bari. A certain vicar-general was offended at it, and carried his complaints to the inquisitors of Naples. Joseph was ordered to appear; but the heads of his accusation being examined, he was declared innocent, and dismissed. He said mass at Naples in the Church of St. Gregory the Armenian, which belonged to a monastery of religious. The holy sacrifice being finished, he fell into an ecstasy, as many eye-witnesses attested in the process of his canonization. The inquisitors sent him to Rome to his general, who received him with harshness, and ordered him to retire to the convent of Assisium. Joseph was filled with joy at this news, on account of the great devotion he had to the holy founder of his Order. The guardian of Assisium treated him also with roughness. But his sanctity shone forth more and more; and persons of the highest distinction expressed an ardent desire to see him. He arrived at Assisium in 1639, and remained there thirteen years. At first he suffered many trials both interior and exterior. His superior often called him hypocrite, and treated him with great rigour. On the other hand, God seemed to have abandoned him; his religious exercises were accompanied with a spiritual dryness that afflicted him exceedingly; the impure phantoms which his imagination represented to him, joined to the most terrible temptations, cast him into so deep a melancholy, that he scarce dare lift up his eyes. His general being informed of his situation, called him to Rome, and having kept him there three weeks, he sent him back to his convent of Assisium.
The saint, on his way to Rome, experienced a return of those heavenly consolations which had been withdrawn from him. At the name of God, of Jesus, or of Mary, he was, as it were, out of himself. He would often cry out, “Vouchsafe, O my God, to fill and possess all my heart. Oh that my soul was freed from the chains of the body, and united to Jesus Christ! Jesus, Jesus, draw me to yourself; I am not able to live any longer on the earth.” He was often heard to excite others to the love of God, and to say to them, “Love God; he in whom this love reigns, is rich although he does not perceive it.” His raptures were as frequent as extraordinary. He had many, even in public, to which a great number of persons of the first quality were eye-witnesses, and the truth of which they afterwards declared upon oath. Amongst those, John Frederick, Duke of Brunswick and Hanover, was one. This prince, who was a Lutheran, was so struck with what he had seen, that he abjured his former tenets and embraced the Catholic faith. Joseph had also a singular talent for converting the most obdurate sinners, and quieting the minds of such as laboured under any trouble. He used to say to some scrupulous persons who came to consult him, “I neither like scruples nor melancholy; let your intention be right, and fear not.” He explained the most profound mysteries of our faith with the greatest clearness; and this sublime knowledge he owed to the intimate communication he had with God in prayer.
His miracles were not less remarkable than the other extraordinary favours he received from God. Many sick owed their recovery to his prayers. The saint falling sick of a fever at Osimo, the 10th of August, 1663, foretold that his last hour was near at hand. The day before his death he received the holy viaticum, and after it the extreme unction. He was heard often to repeat those aspirations of a heart inflamed with the love of God: “Oh that my soul was freed from the shackles of my body, to be reunited with Jesus Christ! Praise and thanksgiving be to God! The will of God be done. Jesus crucified, receive my heart, and kindle in it the fire of your holy love.” He died the 18th of September, 1663, at the age of sixty years and three months. His body was exposed in the church, and the whole town came to visit it with respect; he was afterwards buried in the chapel of the Conception. The heroism of his virtues being proved, and the truth of his miracles attested, he was beatified by Benedict XIV in 1753, and canonized by Clement XIII, in 1767. Clement XIV inserted his office in the Roman Breviary.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost, Vol. V, Edition 1910;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. II; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
St. Joseph of Cupertino, pray for us.
September 17, 2020: IMPRESSION OF THE SACRED STIGMATA OF ST. FRANCIS, CONFESSOR
“O Lord, thou didst mark thy servant Francis. With the marks of our redemption”
O Lord, Jesus Christ, who, for the inflaming our cold and tepid souls with the fire of thy love, wast pleased to renew the sacred marks of thy passion in the flesh of blessed Francis; mercifully grant, in behalf of his virtues and prayers, we may always bear thy cross with patience, and bring forth worthy fruits of penance. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.
The great patriarch of Assisi will soon appear a second time in the holy liturgy, and we shall praise God for the marvels wrought in him by divine grace. The subject of to-day’s feast, while a personal glory to St. Francis, is of greater importance for its mystical signification.
The Man-God still lives in the Church by the continual reproduction of His mysteries in this His bride, making her a faithful copy of Himself. In the thirteenth century, while the charity of the many had grown cold, the divine fire burned with redoubled ardour in the hearts of a chosen few. It was the hour of the Church’s passion; the beginning of that series of social defections, with their train of denials, treasons, and derisions, which ended in the prescription we now witness. The cross had been exalted before the eyes of the world: the bride was now to be nailed thereto with her divine Spouse, after having stood with Him in the pretorium exposed to the insults and blows of the multitude.
Like an artist selecting a precious marble, the holy Spirit chose the flesh of the Assisian seraph as the medium for the expression of His divine thought. He thereby manifested to the world the special direction He intended to give to the sanctity of souls; He offered to heaven a first and complete model of the new work He was meditating, viz: the perfect union, upon the very cross, of the mystical body with its divine Head. Francis was the first to be chosen for this honour: but others were to follow; and hence forward, here and there through the world, the stigmata of our blessed Lord will ever be visible in the Church.
Let us read in this light the admirable history of the event, composed by the seraphic doctor in honour of his holy father St. Francis.
Two years before the faithful servant and minister of Christ, Francis, gave up his spirit to God, he retired alone into a high place, which is called Mount Alvernia, and began a forty days’ fast in honour of the Archangel St. Michael. The sweetness of heavenly contemplation was poured out on him more abundantly than usual, till, burning with the flame of celestial desires, he began to feel an increasing overflow of these divine favours. While the seraphic ardour of his desires thus raised him up to God, and the tenderness of his love and compassion was transforming him into Christ the crucified Victim of excessive love; one morning about the feast of the Exaltation of holy cross, as he was praying on the mountain-side, he saw what appeared to be a Seraph, with six shining and fiery wings, coming down from heaven. The vision flew swiftly through the air and approached the man of God, who then perceived that it was not only winged, but also crucified; for the hands and feet were stretched out and fastened to a cross; while the wings were arranged in a wondrous manner, two being raised above the head, two outstretched in flight, and the remaining two crossed over and veiling the whole body. As he gazed, Francis was much astonished, and his soul was filled with mingled joy and sorrow. The gracious aspect of him, who appeared in so wonderful and loving a manner, rejoiced him exceedingly, while the sight of his cruel crucifixion pierced his heart with a sword of sorrowing compassion.
He, who appeared outwardly to Francis, taught him inwardly that, although weakness and suffering are incompatible with the immortal life of a seraph, yet this vision had been shown to him to the end that he, Christ’s lover, might learn how his whole being was to be transformed into a living image of Christ crucified, not by martyrdom of the flesh, but by the burning ardour of his soul. After a mysterious and familiar colloquy, the vision disappeared, leaving the saint’s mind burning with seraphic ardour, and his flesh impressed with an exact image of the Crucified, as though, after the melting power of that fire, it had next been stamped with a seal. For immediately the marks of nails began to appear in his hands and feet, their heads showing in the palms of his hands and the upper part of his feet, and their points visible on the other side. There was also a red scar on his right side, as if it had been wounded by a lance, and from which blood often flowed staining his tunic and underclothing.
Francis, now a new man, honoured by this new and amazing miracle, and, by a hitherto unheard of privilege, adorned with the sacred stigmata, came down from the mountain bearing with him the image of the Crucified, not carved in wood or stone by the hand of an artist, but engraved upon his flesh by the finger of the living God. The seraphic man well knew that it is good to hide the secret of the king; wherefore, having been thus admitted into his king’s confidence, he strove, as far as in him lay, to conceal the sacred marks. But it belongs to God to reveal the great things which he himself has done; and hence, after impressing those signs upon Francis in secret, he publicly worked miracles by means of them, revealing the hidden and wondrous power of the stigmata by the signs wrought through them. Pope Benedict XI willed that this wonderful event, which is so well attested and in pontifical diplomas has been honoured with the greatest praises and favours, should be celebrated by a yearly solemnity. Afterwards, Pope Paul V, wishing the hearts of all the faithful to be enkindled with the love of Christ crucified, extended the feast to the whole Church.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost, Vol. V, Edition 1910; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.
Sep. 16th, 18th, 19th, 2020: EMBER DAYS
“And I proclaimed there a fast by the river Ahava, that
we might afflict ourselves before the Lord our God, and might ask of him a right way for us and for our children, and for all our substance… And we fasted, and besought our God for this: and it fell out prosperously unto us.”
(I Esdras, viii. 21, 23)
Sep. 16, 2020: Ember Wednesday – Fasting and Partial Abstinence.
Sep. 18, 2020: Ember Friday – Fasting and Complete Abstinence.
Sep. 19, 2020: Ember Saturday – Fasting and Partial Abstinence.
THE EMBER DAYS
Ember days are four separate sets of three days within the same week — specifically, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday — roughly equidistant in the circuit of the year, that are formerly set aside for fasting and prayer. These four sets of Ember-Weeks are the fasts of the four seasons.
The Ember-days (so called from the custom of our forefathers: fasting on those days in sackcloth and ashes, or from their eating nothing but cakes baked under the embers) are Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the first Week of Lent, of Whitsun-Week (Pentecost-Week), of the third Week in September (after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross – September 14), and of the third Week in Advent (after the feast of St. Lucy – December 13). The spirit of the Church is to engage her children, at these stated times, to pray, fast, and perform such other good works, as may prevail with God to furnish his Church with good Pastors; Saturday in Ember-Week being the appointed day for ordaining and consecrating persons to the Sacred Ministry. We are likewise to beg God’s blessing on the fruits of the earth, and give him thanks for those we have already received.
Source: The Divine Office for the Use of Laity, Volume I, Edition 1806
Nature of Fasting & Abstinence on Ember Days:
EMBER WEDNESDAY – Fasting and Partial Abstinence is observed.
EMBER FRIDAY – Fasting and Complete Abstinence is observed.
EMBER SATURDAY – Fasting and Partial Abstinence is observed.
“Now therefore saith
the Lord: Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning. And rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the
(Joel, ii. 12-13)
Sweet Heart of Jesus, be Thou my love.
(300 days indulgence)
Sweet Heart of Mary, be our Salvation.
(300 days indulgence)